The foodie's guide to determining the difference between gai lan (Chinese broccoli) and gou choy (Chinese chives) is Ken Hom's "Guide to Asian Ingredients." But just try fitting the hardback volume into your Prada mini-backpack purse when you go to the supermarket. TV cooking show host Martin Yan has a more portable solution: "A Simple Guide to Chinese Ingredients and Other Asian Ingredients." You can take it with you. The slim red booklet has color photos and descriptions of common Chinese ingredients, and the Chinese names are included for those times you find yourself unable to read the writing on the wall. Send $4 plus $1 shipping to Yan Can Cook, Inc., P.O. Box 4755, Foster City, CA 94404. Or call (415) 341-0701.
The inventor of the springform pan solved the problem of releasing the sides of a cake without tearing, but what about the bottom? Parchment paper helps, but it's still a bit of a trick to get the cake transferred to its serving platter. And if you decide to serve the cake right on the bottom of the pan, you risk ruining the non-stick coating with the slip of a knife. Some of life's small annoyances are easily solved, however. This glass-bottomed springform pan from Germany lets us have our cake and cut it too. Available at Bristol Kitchens (formerly Cook 'n' Things).
Put a chip on your lamb shoulder. Maybe applewood or hickory. Now that you've been grilling all summer, it might be time to add a little smoky flavor to your plain charcoal. These chips from Charcoal Companion are designed for gas grills and are available at Utensils on Larchmont and other locations.