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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Breads & Spreads

queso-fresco-chipotle-baby-bell-peppers-230r-s

Make crunchy, Mexican-style snacks with baby
bell peppers. Photo courtesy The Laughing
Cow.

 

The Laughing Cow makes eight flavors of spreadable cheese, and sent us suggestions for pairing the different spreads with complementary breads and crackers.

These fun snacks can be served as hors d’oeuvre with beer, cocktails or wine; as a casual first course; or as an anytime snack. The ideas below can be ported to pairing any cheese, spread or dip. In addition to bread, the cheese spreads are paired with crackers and veggies.

In fact, the next time you’re planning a cheese course or a cheese platter, think of choosing more interesting breads and crackers, such as:

  • Arepas (a thicker version of a tortilla)
  • Banana bread and date nut bread (especially delicious with double-creme and triple-creme cheeses like Brie)
  • Corn bread (great with chile-based cheeses like Pepper Jack)
  • Irish soda bread (try with everything from fresh, soft cheeses to aged Cheddar and Gouda)
  • Onion bread (especially for adding a kick to mild cheeses)
  • Pretzel bread (a universal favorite)
  • Pumpernickel or dark rye bread (delicious with firm, hearty cheeses)
  • Raisin semolina bread (a partner for everything from mild to hearty cheeses)

 
Find many other types of bread in our yummy Bread Glossary.

 

MILD PAIRINGS

Spread: Creamy Original Swiss
Pairing: Banana Bread With Walnuts

Banana bread and other fruit breads (such as date nut bread and raisin bread) are delicious with fresh cheeses and double-crème cheeses like Brie. The sweet bread really turns the cheese course into dessert. It the walnuts aren’t already baked into the banana bread, add them as a garnish.

Spread: Creamy Light Swiss
Pairing: Kale Leaf

What selection of recipes would be complete without kale? Here, crunchy kale substitutes for bread (or the more conventional endive leaf), and a slice of turkey roll adds protein to this better-for-you “Swiss and turkey wrap.” Garnish with halved cherry or grape tomatoes.

 

TANGY PAIRINGS

Spread: Creamy Swiss Garlic & Herb
Pairing: Pita Bites or Pita Chips

Dress up plain old pita garlic and herb cheese spread, sliced black olives and strips of roasted red pepper (pimento). Optional garnish: snipped chives.

 
Spread: Creamy White Cheddar Flavor
Pairing: Pretzel Crisps (Or Other Pretzel Flats)

Pretzel flats are an under-used pairing with cheese. They work with any cheese, from mild to spicy. Optional garnish: snipped herbs.

 
Spread: Creamy Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil
Flavor
Pairing: Mini Bagel

Make a “white pizza” with mini bagels, or use bagel chips for a crispy change of pace. Optional garnish: oregano.

 
Pairing: Pretzel Crisps (Or Other Pretzel Flats)

This smoked salmon pairing also works with mini bagels and bagel chips. Optional garnish: snipped chives or minced red onion.

 

pita-swiss-garlic-herb-230r

No hummus today: a new way to enjoy pita. Photo courtesy The Laughing Cow.

 

SPICY PAIRINGS

Spread: Creamy Spicy Pepper Jack
Pairing: Mini Cornbread Muffins

You can toast the muffins if you like; and if you have day-old muffins that are starting to dry out, it’s tasty “save.”

 
Spread: Creamy Queso Fresco Chipotle
Pairing: Baby Bell Peppers

This south-of-the-border approach is a new way to use those adorable baby bell peppers. Stuff with The Laughing Cow Creamy Queso Fresco Chipotle and top with some salsa fresca.

Find more snack ideas at TheLaughingCow.com.

  

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FOOD FUN: Strawberry Ghosts, A Better Halloween Snack

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Better for you Halloween treats. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

 

BOO! These white chocolate covered strawberry ghosts are a fun treat, and a better-for-you alternative to traditional candy.

The prep time is 30 minutes, but half of that is making the broomsticks. If you don’t have the time or the interest in the crafts portion, just dip and decorate the strawberries.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRY GHOSTS

Ingredients For 20 Pieces

  • 1 package (16 ounces) fresh strawberries
  • 10 ounces white chocolate chips or other white chocolate
  • Candy eyes
  • Fine-tipped black icing tube
  • Decorative twigs from a craft store
  • Broom fibers or wheat bundles from a craft store
  • Black twine
  •  

    Preparation

    1. LINE a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse the strawberries and dry them well with a soft cloth or paper towel.

    2. MELT the chocolate by placing it in a double boiler over simmering water. Be careful to keep the water from getting into the pan or the chocolate may seize. Alternatively, place the chocolate in a glass bowl, microwave for 20 seconds and stir with a fork. Repeat microwaving and stirring until chocolate is not quite melted. Shorten the microwave time to 5 seconds and stir. Repeat if necessary until completely melted.

    3. HOLD the berries by the stem or leaves and dip into the melted chocolate. Swirl until coated. Leave about ¼ inch of red showing below the leaves. Gently shake off the excess chocolate and place berry on prepared baking sheet to set. Repeat with the remaining berries. Meanwhile…

    4. CREATE decorative broomsticks by cutting the twigs into 2½ inch lengths and the fibers into 3 inch lengths. Gather the broom fibers into a small, rough bundle. Loop twine around the bundle, but keep it loose. Slip a twig into the center of the bundle. Adjust the twig and fibers to look like a broomstick. Tighten the twine and tie a small knot. Once the chocolate is set…

    5. PRESS the broomstick handles down into strawberries through the top center of the leaves. Pipe a small amount of frosting to the back of the candy eyes and attach them to the berries. Finally, use frosting to add a smile, a spooky mouth, fangs or other fun ideas you have.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook As A Family

    The family that prays together stays together, according to a post-World War II prayer movement called Family Rosary Crusade.

    But the family that cooks together eats better, and trains the kids to be self-reliant in the kitchen.

    As we enter the season of nonstop holiday treats, teaching balance and good eating practices can offset bad habits. So, at least for one meal a week—more if you can manage it—gather the entire family in the kitchen.

    If kids learn to cook from a young age, it gives them confidence and skills essential for leading a healthy life—not to mention, it saves a fortune in take out and restaurant meals.

    Even if there are no kids in the house, the odds are that there’s an adult who could stand to eat better.

    Ditch the fast food and store-prepared take-out (laden with fat, salt and hidden sugar). Start with this list of tips:

  • Cook together. So many families find cooking to be a chore at the end of the day. Make it an enjoyable teaching experience, and use meal preparation time to connect with your children and partner.
  •    

    chefs-oven-risotto-WS-230

    The family that cooks together eats better. Photo courtesy Le Creuset.

     

    • Show kids that spending time preparing fresh foods is fun. Tie into the notion of being attractive, which [alas] is pervading the consciousness of children increasingly younger ages. Explain how actors and models are very careful about their food choices, and often employ health-focused cooks, nutritionists and trainers to keep them looking good.

     

    new-junior-cookbook-betterhomesgardens-230

    It’s easy to start with a cookbook targeted to kids. Photo courtesy Better Homes & Gardens.

     
    • Bring kids to the grocery store and explain how you choose better ingredients and products. If they’re old enough, teach them to read the ingredients labels. They might evolve into the “ingredients checker” for the family, gaining awareness and knowledge on nutrition in the process.
    • Find ways for them to participate. At any age, they can do some prep, be it rinsing and drying produce, measuring ingredients, stirring or tearing lettuce leaves.
    • Show them how to make their favorite recipes: burgers, fruit skewers, pasta, pizza, salads, sandwiches, smoothies, etc.
    • Make soup from scratch. Kids can see how easy it is, how delicious it is, and that soup does not naturally come from a can.
    • Bake together. What better way to get kids interested in cooking than the promise of a cookie or piece of cake as the payoff!
     

    When they get proficient, they can invite friends over for a home cooked meal and impress them. (Our mom was throwing elaborate dinner parties at age 12. Alas, we didn’t get to that level until after college.)

    TRENDING?

    Dr. Nimali Fernando is a pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. Here’s her medical perspective:

    “Childhood obesity is just the tip of the iceberg,” she says. “Under the surface lies the other 70 percent of children, many who may be of normal body weight but suffer from diet-related illnesses. In my practice I see these illnesses like chronic constipation, gastroesophageal reflux, anxiety, and difficulties with attention and concentration. So many of these symptoms are directly related to the diet.”

    Her innovative practice, Yum Pediatrics, also houses a 1000 square foot teaching kitchen, designed to inspire the most reluctant eater. In the kitchen she teaches her patients how to cook and offers classes to the community at large through the Doctor Yum Project.

    Behind the office is a teaching garden meant to be an outdoor waiting space for her patients and a place for her cooking students to learn how food grows and to inspire a love of locally grown produce.

    Can this be turned into a trend among pediatricians nationwide? We hope so!

    COOKBOOKS FOR KIDS

    If you need a nudge, check out these cookbooks, developed for kids:

    • Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book (details)
    • Betty Crocker Kids Cook! (details)
    • ChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family (details)
    • Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook (details)
    • Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up (details)

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Honey Caramel Corn

    Most caramel corn is not drizzled with caramel sauce, as the name may suggest, but made by caramelizing sugar into a syrup that coats the popcorn and dries to a lovely crunch.

    Caramel and corn based on sugar or molasses dates back at least to the 1890s; an early version of Cracker Jack, made with molasses, was sold at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. Kettle corn, seasoned with salt and un-caramelized sugar, dates to Colonial times.

    This recipe is courtesy Bee Raw Honey. For Halloween, toss in some candy corn and your choice of candied nuts.

    RECIPE: HONEY CARAMEL CORN

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup clover honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • Fleur de sel or other fine sea salt
  • Optional mix in: nuts, candy corn, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces
  •  

    caramel-corn-zulka-recipe-230

    Homemade caramel corn. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 250°F. Melt the butter in large saucepan; stir in sugar, honey and salt. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Place a candy thermometer into the mixture. Reduce the heat to medium; boil without stirring about three minutes, to 265°F.

    2. REMOVE the honey mixture from heat and stir in the baking soda. Place the popcorn in a large bowl. While stirring, slowly pour the honey mixture over the popcorn.

    3. TURN the popcorn onto greased baking pan. Bake at 250°F for 45 minutes; stir every 15 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and break the popcorn into bite-sized pieces.
     
    ABOUT CARAMEL CORN

    Caramel corn is an American invention: popcorn coated with a sugar- or molasses-based candy shell. A white sugar-based candy coating provides a lighter (if more cloying) flavor than traditional caramelized brown sugar or molasses.

    Typically, a sugar solution is heated until it becomes a thick and brown caramelized candy syrup. Before the syrup cools, it can be mixed with an endless number of flavorings, from chocolate and coconut to blueberry and watermelon. The hot syrup is then mixed with popped popcorn, and allowed to cool.

    Nuts are a popular addition. While peanuts are the most popular (think Cracker Jack), almonds, cashews and pecans offer a more sophisticated flavor.
     

    The history of candy corn and a recipe for candy corn fudge.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Vadouvan

    vadouvan-spice-blend-ingredientfinder-230

    This simple blend, from IngredientFinder.com,
    contains only four ingredients: cumin, garlic,
    fenugreek and onion.

     

    We must admit, this was a new one for us. We received a recipe for deviled eggs for our consideration. One of the ingredients: vadouvan.

    Vadou-what? We had to look it up.

    Vadouvan, also called French curry, is a French interpretation of an Indian masala that mixes cardamom, coriander, cumin, curry, curry leaves, fenugreek, garlic, marash chiles, mustard seeds and roasted onion, among other ingredients. Its flavor is more familiar to Western palates than many Indian spice mixtures.

    A key difference is in dried onions or shallots. The spice is thought to have originated due to French colonial influence in the Puducherry region of India. [Source: Wikipedia]

    Use it in place of curry powder on fish, lamb, chicken, pork, sauces, stews, soups and vegetables. It’s a delicious pairing with dairy, potatoes, starchy grains and anything grilled.

    Give a tin or jar as a holiday gift to your favorite cooks. There’s an attractive tin for $8.32 on Amazon, with free shipping on orders over $35. (Tins are preferable to jars, since light is one of the factors that reduces the potency of the spice, along with proximity to heat and moisture.)

     

    MASALA VS. GARAM MASALA: THE DIFFERENCE

    Masala or massala is a South Asian term for a spice mix or a seasoning of any sort. It is used extensively in the cuisines of Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

    The word is of Arabic origin (maslahah), originally meaning “a thing which is good and right.”

    • Masala refers to any fragrant spice blend. It can be wet (a paste) or dry (a blend of dried—and usually dry-roasted—often toasted and ground spices). The pastes frequently include fresh ingredients like chiles, cilantro, garlic, ginger, mint, onion and tomato, along with dried spices and oil. Dishes made with such pastes sometimes have “masala” in their names, such as Chicken Tikka Masala and Vindaloo Masala.
    • Garam masala refers to dry spice blends. There are many variations, from region to region and cook to cook (examples: Tandoori masala, chatt masala and even panch phoron, the Bengali five-spice blend). Popular ingredients include bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, nigella and nutmeg/mace and pepper.
     

    masala-cauliflower-paperchef-230

    Masala cauliflower. Photo courtesy The Paper Chef.

     
    It’s time to spice things up!

      

    Comments

    HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Day

    harvest-truffles-2014-230sq

    Harvest Truffles. Photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections.

     

    It’s National Chocolate Day, an excuse for anyone to run to the newsstand to pick up a Hershey Bar or some M&Ms.

    But the chocolate connoisseur deserves something better, and we’ve found it in these delicious Harvest Truffles from Recchiuti Confections of San Francisco, which we received as a gift.

    Each bite of these beautifully flavored bonbons is a bite of heaven. The medley of three new flavors inspired by autumn includes:

    • Cinnamon Malt Truffle, made with cassia cinnamon and barley malt
    • Mandarin Truffle, infused with mandarin orange oil
    • Cranberry Pomegranate Strata, with layered pomegranate and cranberry gelée atop chocolate ganache (strata means layer)

    A nine-piece gift box, three of each flavor, is $26.00. It was all we could do to save some pieces for Day 2.

    Get yours at Recchiuti.com. They are a lovely gift for any lover of fine chocolate.

     

    BONBONS VS. TRUFFLES: THE DIFFERENCE

    It’s easy to get confused when terms like bonbon, praline and truffle are used interchangeably to describe filled chocolates—and all three terms have alternative meanings as well.

    The differences, describing filled or enrobed individual chocolate pieces, are country-based:

    • Assorted Filled Chocolates, the English term.
    • Bonbons, a French word describing a variety of confections including hard candy, chocolates, chocolate-covered confections, taffy and more.
    • Pralines, a word that was originated in Belgium by Jean Neuhaus to describe his molded filled chocolates (but also refers to caramelized nuts in France).
    • Truffle, a word that originated in France to describe balls of chocolate ganache, because they resembled the mushroom cousin, truffles.

    Thus, when chocolatiers immigrated to the U.S., they might be selling pralines, truffles, bonbons or assorted chocolates, depending on their nationality. And, although the name of what they sold differed, the product might be the same.

    In the interest of clarity, it would be ideal to stick with “bonbons” or “filled chocolates” for the filled chocolates, use “pralines” for caramelized nuts and nut patties, and reserve the term “truffles” for the balls of ganache.

    But given all the imported candy, we can’t escape our chocolate Tower of Babel. If you receive a box of candy from Germany or Switzerland labeled “pralines,” for example, will it be filled chocolates or caramelized nuts? You may be surprised!

    Here’s a detailed explanation.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Choucroute Garnie

    Now that there’s as chill in the air, the people of Alsace have been cooking up their famous recipe, Choucroute Garnie—pronounced shoo-CROOT gar-NEE and translating to dressed sauerkraut.

    The “dressing” consists of sausages and other salted meats and, typically, potatoes. It’s stick-to-your-ribs goodness on a chilly day. You know it’s autumn when the dish appears on restaurant menus (call your local French restaurant to check). If you don’t have time or inclination to make your own, it’s available throughout France microwavable packages and canned form.

    Sauerkraut originated in German and Eastern Europe, the but the French annexation of Alsace and Lorraine added it to the repertoire of French chefs. It has since become popular throughout France.

    Like cassoulet and pot au feu, it’s an inexpensive, everyday dish. Any combination of hot sauerkraut, meat and potatoes works, but traditional recipes utilize:

    • Three types of sausage, such as Frankfurt sausages, Strasbourg sausages and Montbéliard sausages (use whatever sausages you like—we used boudin blanc, knockwurst and smoked sausage).
       

    choucroute-garni-tourdefrancenyc-230

    Pork chop, back bacon, potatoes plus a bonus of baby carrots on a bed of sauerkraut. Photo courtesy TourDeFranceNYC.com.

    • Fatty, inexpensive or salted cuts of pork: back bacon, ham hocks or shank, pork knuckles and shoulders, salt pork.
    • Boiled potatoes (toss them with fresh parsley).
    • Seasonings: bay leaf, black peppercorns, cloves, garlic.
    • Sauerkraut, simmered in Riesling and juniper berries (we added some caraway seed, a personal favorite with sauerkraut).
    • Optional: chopped onion, sliced apples.
    • Mustard: we served three options, Dijon, grainy and horseradish mustards.

     
    Plain shredded cabbage can be added along with the sauerkraut to produce a less tangy, less acidic version. Hungarian recipes include stuffed cabbage leaves in addition to the other ingredients.

     

    choucroute-garni-quentinbacon-foodandwine-230

    Individually plated, with sliced potatoes. Photo © Quentin Bacon | Food & Wine. Here’s the recipe.

     

    For a high-end variation, Choucroute Royale is made by augmenting the basics with some more expensive ingredients:

    • Champagne instead of Riesling
    • Foie gras, goose, wild game
    • Fish
    • Duck choucroute garni, replacing the pork products with duck confit leg, duck sausage and duck breast.
    • A newer riff, seafood sausage choucroute is a meat-free option that includes seafood sausage, scallops, shrimp and flaky white fish on a bed of braised cabbage (not sauerkraut) with lobster sauce.

    While it takes a bit of time to prepare, the steps to a delicious choucroute garnie are easy:

    1. SIMMER sauerkraut with Riesling and juniper berries. Riesling has a very distinctive flavor, but if you don’t want to buy a bottle and drink the rest with dinner, use another dry white wine. We like to snip fresh parsley, sage or thyme into the cooked sauerkraut before plating.

    2. COOK your favorite cuts of pork: pork belly, pork chops, sausages, whatever. Boil the potatoes.

    3. PLACE the sauerkraut on a serving plate and top with the meat and potatoes. Uncork a bottle of Rieling. Voilà.

     

    Choucroute garnie can be served individually plated or family style, on a large platter.

    Here’s a complete recipe from Jacques Pépin for Food & WIne magazine.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Custard With Maple Pecan Crunch

    As an alternative to pumpkin pie—or perhaps in addition to it—how about some pumpkin custard? It’s eggier and richer than conventional pumpkin pie filling, and because there’s no crust, it’s gluten free.

    This lovely recipe, from Nielsen Massey, is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. If you don’t have ramekins or custard cups, use 6-ounce tea cups.

    How is this custard different from flan and other custards? Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN CUSTARD WITH MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
  • 4 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15-ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  •    

    pumpkin-custard-maple-pecan-crunch-nielsenmassey-230

    Pumpkin custard topped with maple pecan crunch. Photo courtesy Nielsen-Massey.

     

     

    nielsen-bourbon-230

    Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Place 8 six-ounce ramekins onto a rimmed sheet pan or a roasting pan; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the half-and-half and liqueur in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat and stir, just until the mixture is warmed. Remove from the heat.

    3. COMBINE the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly until well combined. Add the pumpkin and whisk until it is incorporated. Slowly pour the heated half-and-half mixture into the pumpkin mixture; whisk continuously until combined.

    4. POUR the custard mixture into ramekins. Place in the oven; then carefully pour warm water into the sheet pan, so custards are surrounded and the water depth is about ¾-inch high (this technique is known as a bain-marie). Bake until done, about 40-45 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan, cool completely on wire rack and place in the refrigerator to chill. You can serve the custard chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • Garnish: coarse sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. COMBINE syrup, vanilla and cayenne pepper in a small bow. Whisk to combine; set aside.

    3. LIGHTLY COAT a large skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat. Add the nuts to skillet and toast until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. CAREFULLY POUR the syrup mixture over the nuts. Cook and stir until the nuts are coated; then remove from heat. Place the nut mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and cool.

    5. TO SERVE: Top the cooled custards with Maple Pecan Crunch. Finish with a pinch of coarse salt.

    Store any unused Maple Pecan Crunch in an airtight container. You can use it to top anything from baked sweet potatoes to green salad to vegetables to ice cream.
     
    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VANILLA

    Did you know that vanilla beans are the fruit of a species of orchid? Of the 110 species in the orchid family, the vanilla orchard is the only one used for food.

    While the fruit is called a vanilla “bean,” it has no close relationship to the actual bean family. After the plant flowers, the fruit pod ripens gradually for 8 to 9 months, eventually turning black-brown in color and giving off a strong aroma. Both the exterior of the and the seeds inside are used to create vanilla flavoring.

    Check out the history of vanilla, types of vanilla products (including vanilla paste and different terroirs of vanilla extracts and vanilla beans), how to buy vanilla, and our reviews of the best vanilla extracts and vanilla beans.

    Start here.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Harvest Pumpkin, Seasonal Tortilla Chips From Food Should Taste Good

    How delicious are the fall flavor tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good?

    Very delicious! You can enjoy them plain, with a savory or sweet dip, or as “fall nachos.”

    • Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips are as good as eating a cookie. Deftly spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg (and a touch of cane sugar), stone ground corn is mixed with pumpkin, spices, sea salt.
    • Sweet Potato tortilla chips, which are made with a touch of sugar, can be served with fruit salsa, raspberry jam or apple butter; served with ginger snap dip, or instead of cookies with vanilla ice cream.

    The all natural line is certified gluten free, certified vegan and OU kosher. The snack contains 19 grams of whole grains per serving. (The USDA recommends 48 grams of whole grains daily.)

     
    RECIPE #1: GINGERSNAP DIP

    This recipe, adapted from Taste Of Home, makes a “dessert dip.” For a less sweet dip, cut the sugar in half or eliminate it entirely.

       

    sweet-potato-pumpkin-kaminsky-230

    Sweet Potato and Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
    • 1 carton (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 package (16 ounces) gingersnaps

     
     
    *You can combine equal amounts of allspice, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg or adapt the spices and proportions to your preferences.>
     
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl until fluffy. Beat in the yogurt.

    2. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve.

     

    gingersnap-dip-tasteofhome-230

    Gingersnap dip for cookies or seasonal tortilla chips. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: BISCOFF SPREAD DIP

    Biscoff Spread looks like peanut butter but smells like gingerbread and is nut-free. It is made from spice cookies, called spéculoos cookies in Belgium, where they are the national cookie—a variation of gingerbread. (The cookies are called Belgian spice cookies in the U.S.)

    The name Biscoff is a combination of “biscuits and coffee,” a nod to enjoying the cookies with your cup of java. The spread, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, was the winner of a recipe competition in Belgium that was held by the largest producer of the cookies. The winning concept: Grind the cookies into a “cookie spread” that can be enjoyed an alternative to Nutella or peanut butter.

    Biscoff Spread is available at supermarkets nationwide and onlineonline; Trader Joe’s sells a private label version called Cookie Spread. In Europe, the generic version is called spéculoos spread.

    This recipe, which was originally developed for dipping fruit and cookies, is equally delicious with pumpkin and sweet potato tortilla chips.

     
    Ingredients For 4 To 6 Servings

    • 1/4 cup Biscoff Spread
    • 1 container plain lowfat yogurt (6 ounces or 3/4 cup)†
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Plus

  • Pumpkin and/or sweet potato tortilla chips for serving
  •  
    Optional Fruit To Serve Alongside The Chips

    • 1 red apple, washed and cored, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
    • 1 small banana, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
    • 1 cup whole or halved strawberries, washed and dried
    • 1 ripe pear, washed, dried and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, or other favorite dipping fruit

     
    †Or, use lowfat vanilla yogurt and omit the vanilla extract.
     
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the Biscoff Spread and yogurt until smooth.

    2. WHISK in vanilla and cinnamon. Place in small serving bowl. Serve with chips and optional fruit.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Beer & Pumpkin Ale

    pumpkin-beer-w-pumpkin-craftbeer.com-230

    Even George Washington was a fan of
    pumpkin beer. He brewed his own, of course.
    Photo courtesy CraftBeer.com.

     

    Thanks to Julia Herz of CraftBeer.com for today’s tip: Pick up some pumpkin beer or ale. In fact, have a pumpkin beer tasting for Halloween (with or without costumes), and bring it instead of wine to your Thanksgiving dinner hosts.

    This seasonal brew is so well liked that in the month of October, it rivals the popularity of India Pale Ale (IPA), the top-selling craft beer style in the U.S.

    The body is richer, thanks to the addition of actual pumpkin into the vat; and brewers typically add hints of pumpkin pie spices. The flavors can vary widely depending on whether the brewer uses fresh, frozen or canned pumpkin (or a related squash).

    But pumpkin beer is no recent craft beer invention. It’s been made since the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock Colony discovered pumpkins (indigenous to the Americas) and added them to their brews.

    Why did they brew with pumpkin?

    There were plenty of them. Since good malt was not readily accessible in the early days of the colonization of America, fermentable sugars had to come from elsewhere. In those early pumpkin beers, the flesh of the pumpkin took the place of malt. (Later, with dependable supplies of malt, both were used.)

    Pumpkin beer remained a staple throughout the 18th century, but its popularity began to wane by the early 19th century as quality malts became accessible everywhere.

     

    Fast forward 200-plus years to the Bay Area in the 1980s. The father of American micro-brewing, Bill Owens, read in a brewing book that George Washington added pumpkin to his mash. Owens thought it was an idea in need of resurrection. The result, Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, is an amber-style ale based on Washington’s recipe (and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week).

    Although most pumpkin ale and beer are brewed with pumpkin and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, don’t expect pumpkin pie in a bottle. With most products, there’s no obvious pumpkin taste analogous to the pronounced flavors of fruit beers.

    This season, retailers will sell some 400 pumpkin beers from craft brewers. You can put together a nice selection for a tasting party. Or, pick up a selection for your own personal enjoyment. Just a sampling of what you might find:

     

    buffalo-bill-6pack-pumpkin-230

    Bring a six-pack or two to your Halloween or Thanksgiving host(s). Photo courtesy Buffalo Bill’s Brewery.

    • Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter | Starr Hill Brewery | Crozet, Virginia
    • Flat Jack Pumpkin Ale | Flat 12 Bierwerks | Indianapolis, Indiana
    • Gourd Shorts (pumpkin ale) | Florida Beer Co. | Cape Canaveral, Florida
    • Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale | Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company | Lexington, Kentucky
    • Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale | Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. | Half Moon Bay, California
    • Oak Jacked (imperial pumpkin ale) | Uinta Brewing Co. | Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Potosi Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale | Potosi Brewing Co. | Potosi, Wisconsin
    • Pumking | Southern Tier Brewing Co. | Lakewood, New York
    • Post Road Pumpkin Ale | Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, New York
    • Pumpkin Ale | Blackstone Brewing Co. | Nashville, Tennessee
    • Pumpkin Ale | Buffalo Bill’s Brewery | Hayward, California
    • Pumpkin Ale | Rivertown Brewing Co. | Lockland, Ohio
    • Pumpkinfest | Terrapin Beer Co. | Athens, Georgia
    • Punkin Ale | Dogfish Brewery | Milton, Delaware
    • Roadsmary’s Baby (rum-aged pumpkin ale) | Two Roads Brewing Co. | Stratford, Connecticut
    • Rum Punk (Rum barrel-aged pumpkin beer) | Joseph James Brewing Co., Inc | Henderson, Nevada
    • Samhain Pumpkin Porter | DESTIHL Brewery | Bloomington, Illinois
    • Samuel Adams Fat Jack (double pumpkin ale) | Samuel Adams | Boston, Massachusetts
    • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale | Smuttynose Brewing Co. | Hampton, New Hampshire
    • Wick for Brains Pumpkin Ale | Nebraska Brewing Co. | La Vista, Nevada
    • Witch’s Hair Pumpkin Ale | Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits | East County San Diego, California

     
    KNOW YOUR BEER TYPES

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

      

    Comments

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