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Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods

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TIP OF THE DAY: Garnish Desserts With Brittle

If someone gives you brittle—or you’re inspired to make your own—use some of it to garnish desserts.

Just a few small pieces make almost any dessert even more festive. If you already have “brittle crumbs” at the bottom of the box, so much the better.


For the holidays, this spicy pumpkin seed brittle recipe is a natural. We also love classic pecan brittle (recipe below).

You can add dried cranberries to any brittle recipe.

You can make this brittle in just 15 minutes, plus cooling time. Make sure everything is in its place before you start cooking, because the brittle sets quickly. This recipe is courtesy of Taste Of Home.

Ingredients For 1 Pound/16 Servings

  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    Plain or fancy, almost any dessert perks up with a brittle garnish. Photo courtesy Fig & Olive.


    Pumpkin Pie With Brittle Topping

    Turn a plain holiday pie into a festive one
    with brittle. Photo courtesy Midwest Living.



    1. GREASE a 15-inch x 10-inch x 1-inch pan with 2 teaspoons of butter; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart, microwave-safe glass bowl. Microwave uncovered on high for 4 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 238°F (soft-ball stage).

    3. ADD the pecans. Microwave for 4 minutes or until a candy thermometer reads 300°F (hard-crack stage). The mixture will be very hot. Vigorously stir in the baking soda, vanilla and remaining butter until the mix is blended.

    4. QUICKLY POUR into the prepared pan and spread with a metal spatula as thin as possible.

    5. COOL completely, then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.

  • This recipe was tested in a 1,100-watt microwave.
  • For a 1,650 watt microwave, adjust both cook times to be 3 minutes instead of 4 minutes.
  • Test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.


    GIFTS: Gourmet Food

    We taste thousands of products a year, and a few always stand out as “great for the holiday gift list.” Here’s the first of this year’s gourmet food gift lists. We also have a chocolate gift list, a stocking stuffer gift list, and others to come (spirits, food books and more).


    For foodies or meat lovers, Carnivore Club finds the most exceptional cured meats and packages them a gift box with an introduction to the artisan and ways to serve the items. The club delivery can be monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or just once.

    Each box has 4-6 selections of handcrafted meat, a total weight of approximately 18 to 28 ounces. Past selections have included meats as varied as biltong, duck breast prosciutto, Iberico ham, ‘nduja, water buffalo braesola and wild boar sausage.

    Products are curated by a team of meat lovers dedicated to “finding the greatest artisans on the planet, and sharing their best creations with our members.”

    Satisfy someone’s inner carnivore at (yes, it’s co, not com).

    Dean Bingham gets credit for the most creative chocolate Christmas trees this year: hand-stacked blocks of 70% cacao dark chocolate or 32% cacao milk chocolate that create the tree. The nonpareils add a Christmas lights effect.

    The artisan chocolates are all natural and are made in a nut-free facility. The large tree is 5.5” tall x 5.5” wide at the base (1 pound, 7 ounces of chocolate) is $29.50; small tree is 3.5” tall x 3.5” wide (7.5 ounces of chocolate, $17.50).

    Get your tree(s) at

    eCreamery sells top quality artisan ice cream; but the real differentiator is the ability to create custom labels for each individual pints. Sure, you can leave the flavor as the title on the pint, e.g. Banana Toffee Praline Crunch or Chipotle Maple Bacon Ice Cream.

    But you can also personalize it: Peace & Joy From The Hofstadter Family, Amy & Sheldon’s Holiday Cheer, and so on. There are:

  • Nine holiday flavors, including the two previously mentioned plus Candy Cane Swirl, Gingerbread Cookie Swirl and others.
  • Twenty year-round flavors—the basics plus Chocolate Cake & Brownie Bites, Chocolate Malt Ball and Sea Salt Caramel.
  • There are five sorbets that are dairy free and vegan.
    Including overnight shipping in ice, four pints are $84.99, eight pints are $139.99 at BUT WAIT: There’s a savings of $15 off plus free shipping with code SweetNY15, through January 31, 2016 (shipped to one address).

    It still may be the most expensive ice cream you’ve ever bought, but it also will be among the most memorable.

    There are many recipes that call for wrapping a sausage with a strip of bacon. 4505 Meats of San Francisco saves you the trouble: Bacon is embedded in its hot dogs.

    These creative sausage makers have loaded uncured hot dogs with uncured bacon, a recipe guaranteed to wow. A 3-pound package of 16 dogs is $33.00 plus shipping at


    Carnivore Club

    Chocolate Christmas Tree

    eCreamery Holiday Pints

    Bacon Hot Dogs  at 4505 Meats

    TOP PHOTO: A past box from Carnivore Club, featuring the charcuterie from Charlito’s Cocina. SECOND PHOTO: Chocolate Christmas tree from Dean’s Sweets. THIRD PHOTO: Bacon Hot Dogs from 4505 Meats. BOTTOM PHOTO: The finest ice cream with labels customized by you, from eCreamery.



    Robert Lambert White Fruitcake

    Savannah Bee Whipped Honey With Cinnamon

    Tonnino Ventresca Tuna

    Valrhona Hot Chocolate Mix

    TOP PHOTO: A deluxe fruitcake from Robert Lambert. SECOND PHOTO: Whipped Honey With Cinnamon From Savannah Bee. THIRD PHOTO: Tonnino’s Ventresca Tuna, made from sashimi-quality tuna loins. BOTTOM PHOTO: Valrhona Hot Chocolate at Sur La Table.



    Robert Lambert has long been a great food artisan, who uses the bounty of local California heirloom fruits and nuts to make his creations. He crafts our favorite fruitcakes, pricey but worth it, orchestrating a memorable symphony of flavors unlike anything you’ve ever imagined.

    There’s a white fruitcake and a dark fruitcake; the difference is the mix of hand-candied luxury fruits and the spirits.

  • White Artisan Fruitcake has light-colored fruits: golden raisins, candied bergamot, coconuy, Rangpur lime, Meyer lemon peel, blood orange peel, Buddha’s hand citron and candied young ginger all contribute. Nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans and walnuts. Each cake is soaked in the fine French cognac, infused with herbs and spices, topped with a California bay leaf and candied white grapefruit peel star.
  • Dark Artisan Fruitcake has dark fruits: dates, prunes and dark raisins, hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts. The cake has a touch of molasses and brown sugar, the spices are cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. The cake is soaked in his favorite 10-year-old Ficklin port.
    The one pound fruitcakes are $55 each, or any two in a gift tin for $100, at

    Our favorite honey producer, Savannah Bee spins together crystallized honey and aromatic cinnamon, forming an irresistible and spreadable Whipped Honey With Cinnamon. There are two sizes: a 12-ounce jar ($16.55) and a pair of two 3-ounce jars ($6.50).

    Another favorite holiday gift is Winter White Honey. From the Idaho Rockies, it is creamy, smooth and spreadable with natural finishing notes of cinnamon. This white-hued honey with a bright red label is available in the 12-ounce jars ($12.50) and two three-ounce minis ($12).

    For the honey connoisseur—or anyone with a refined palate—Sourwood Honey Gold Reserve is the honey gift. The sourwood trees in the Appalachian Mountains blossom only in “vintage” years, when there’s plentiful sun and rain.

    The flavor of sourwood honey is big and complex with hints of maple and spice. With a large jar, there’s enough to spare for basting grilled chicken or pork tenderloin, as well as lavish in tea and on pancakes. Sizes range from 3-ounce minis to 80-ounce jumbos, $12 to $92. The popular 12-ounce size is available with an optional pump—no dripping honey.

    For an even more special gift, the Sourwood Reserve packages 20 ounces of honey in an elegant tall flute and equally elegant packaging, $120. The company owner, one of the world’s great artisan honey experts, it “calls arguably the best in the world.”


    Some people buy the best of everything. In the case of tuna, that’s Italy’s Tonnino tuna, so lovely it’s packaged in a see-through jar.

    Our local gourmet stores sell it for $8 to $10 jar, but on Amazon it’s just $5.99. “Just $5.99” may still have sticker shock for those who wait for sales of supermarket brands for 99¢, but for gifting, think outside the can!

    The large fillets stand tall in jars, very different from what’s packed into cans. And the flavor must be tasted! Even our brother, who waits for the 99¢ sales, acknowledged as much. We now have solved the problem of what to get the tuna lover and the health-focused.

    Tonnino varieties include Tuna Fillets With Capers And Garlic In Olive Oil, With Garlic In Olive Oil, With Jalapeño In Olive Oil, With Lemon And Pepper In Olive Oil, With Oregano In Olive Oil, In Olive Oil (plain) and In Spring Water.

    The top of the line is Ventresca, “the royalty of our gourmet jarred tuna.” It’s hand filleted from a small section of the tuna’s underbelly (sushi eaters, think toro).

    Even the olive oil is delicious! A jar in every flavor is a special gift. See more at

    The first hot chocolate mix from master chocolatier Valrhona, one of the world’s great chocolate producers and the name for fine chocolate in France. A perfect blend of the finest cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips, it makes a rich, chocolaty, marvelous cup of hot chocolate. Exclusively at Sur La Table, a 12-ounce tin red and silver tin is $21.95.

    You can package it with Peppermint Cocoa Stirrers and Marshmallow Snowman Beverage Topper marshmallows for a more elaborate gift. Or, go whole-hog with a set of Peppermint Stripe Mugs.

    Find it at Orders over $59 ship free with code SHIPFREE.



    FOOD FUN: Ice Cream Christmas Tree Ornaments

    How clever is the Breyers Ice Cream employee who turned ice cream into Christmas tree ornaments? You can do it too, or hand it over to the tweens and teens to make with their friends.

    Breyers used a 1.5 quart container of their Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. You can, of course, use holiday flavors: candy cane ice cream, eggnog ice cream, gingerbread ice cream, etc.

    Check out this Christmas sprinkle mix and Christmas confetti, both from Wilton. Or, use crushed candy canes or instead of the sprinkles

    Find more nifty ice cream creations at


    Ingredients For 12 Pieces

  • 1.5 quarts of ice cream (3 pints—but buy extra just in case)
  • 12 mini peanut butter cups
  • 12 pieces (1-1/2-in. ea.) thin red licorice
  • Christmas sprinkles (substitute rainbow sprinkles)

    Ice Cream Christmas Ornaments

    Ice cream ornaments for eating, not hanging. Photo courtesy Breyers.


    1. LINE a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, then spray with nonstick cooking spray. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.

    2. SCOOP the ice cream, using a large round ice cream scoop, into 24 firmly packed scoops. Arrange the scoops flat-side down on the pan and freeze for 2 hours. Meanwhile…

    3. MAKE the ornament “hangers.” Poke two holes in the small, flat side of the peanut butter cups with a skewer. Add a licorice “hanger” by pushing the ends into the holes. Freeze.

    4. PRESS two scoops together to form a completely round ornament; repeat with the remaining scoops for a total of 12 ornaments. Arrange them on the pan and freeze at least 1 hour.

    5. ROLL the ornaments in the sprinkles, leaving a bare spot on top to attach the hanger. Attach the hanger by pressing it onto the top of the ornament. Freeze for 3 hours or until ready to serve.



    RECIPE: Gingerbread Cookie Dip & Spread


    Yummy and easy dip for cookies, fruit and more. Photo courtesy QVC.


    OMG, we haven’t even finished Thanksgiving leftovers but the countdown to Christmas is ON!

    If you’re too busy racing around and don’t have much time to prepare something special for family, friends or colleagues, here’s an easy treat from QVC’s chef David Venable.

    It’s Gingerbread Dip or Spread—yummy with cookies, cinnamon-flavored snack chips and sure, crudités.

    Says David, “There isn’t a more perfect potluck or office party recipe out there, foodies. This takes seconds, needn’t be cooked or kept warm, and uses ingredients you probably already have on hand.”


    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cut in four pieces and brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup whipped topping
    Your Choice Of Dippers

  • Tea biscuits, gingersnaps, graham crackers, mini gingerbread men, spice cookies, vanilla wafers
  • Cinnamon-flavored bagel, pita and/or tortilla chips
  • Strawberries or other fruit
  • Pretzels

    1. PLACE the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, molasses, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.

    2. SCRAPE the mixture into a medium-size bowl and fold in the whipped topping. Transfer to a serving dish.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Almost Apple Pie (Slow Cooker Apples)

    If an apple a day keeps the doctor away (see below), it stands to reason that an apple dessert helps, too.

    We have two slow-cooker apple recipes for you today. The second is like apple pie filling. Both are classic fall and winter desserts, suitable for weeknights or for company. They can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled.

    While you can prepare both recipes in an oven, a slow cooker with a liner saves you from scrubbing a pan—and leaves the cooked apples juicier, too.

    Both recipes were developed by Reynolds Kitchens.


    Prep time is 20 minutes, slow cooker time is 3 hours. You can make the recipe even healthier by replacing the brown sugar with half as much agave syrup*. While there’s not a lot of refined sugar in the recipe, every little save helps.
    Ingredients For 4 Servings


    Slow Cooker Baked Apples

    “Baked” apples from the slow cooker. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchens.

  • 4 medium tart baking apples (such as Braeburn, Granny Smith or Jonathan), cored
  • 1/4 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup apple juice
    *Want to cut back on sugar? A better choice than sugar is agave nectar, a low-glycemic natural sweetener from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a glycemic index (GI) of 32, half that of table sugar (GI 60-65). Honey has a GI of 58, pure maple syrup has a GI of 54. Here’s more information on agave.

    1. LINE a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner. Place the sliced apples in the liner.

    2. COMBINE the oats, raisins, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon in a small bowl. Spoon the mixture into the centers of the apples, patting down with the back of a spoon or a narrow metal spatula. Mound any remaining oat mixture on top of the apples. Pour apple juice around the apples in the cooker.

    3. COVER and cook for 3 hours on low.

    4. TRANSFER the apples to serving bowls and drizzle with the cooking liquid.


    Slow Cooker Sauteed Apples

    More like apple pie: apple slices slow-cooked
    with cinnamon. Photo courtesy Reynolds



    Prep time is 15 minutes, slow cooker time is 3 hours (low) or 2 hours (high).
    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut in eight wedges
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Optional topping: vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
  • Optional cookies: gingersnap, oatmeal, shortbread or sugar cookies
  • Preparation

    1. LINE a 5-to-6 quart slow cooker with a Reynolds Slow Cooker Liner. Open a slow cooker liner and place it inside a slow cooker bowl. Fit the liner snugly against the bottom and sides of bowl; pull top of the liner over the rim of the bowl.

    2. PLACE the apples in the bowl and drizzle with lemon juice.

    3. MIX the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples; stir gently with a rubber spatula to coat the apples. Drizzle with butter.

    4. PLACE the lid on the slow cooker and cook on the low-heat setting for 3 hours or on the high-heat setting for 2 hours, until the apples are done.

    5. CAREFULLY REMOVE the lid to allow the steam to escape. Transfer the apples to serving bowls and top with ice cream or whipped cream; or spoon the apples over a scoop of ice cream. Serve with cookies, if desired.

    6. COOL the slow cooker completely; remove the liner and toss. Do not lift or transport the liner with food inside.

    According to a website that tracks the origins of English phrases, the earliest known print reference dates to Wales in 1866:

    Eat an apple on going to bed, And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.

    By the turn of the 20th century, a number of variants of the rhyme were in circulation, including the one popular in the U.S.

    Why were apples singled out to keep the doctor away? While they are healthful*, the answer is more complex. In Old English, “apple” was used to describe any round fruit that grew on a tree. Adam and Eve’s forbidden fruit is cited in English as an apple; but the word in the original Hebrew and the subsequent 1611 King James version of the Bible, it simply called “a fruit.”

    Most historians believe that the apple originated in the Dzungarian Alps, a mountain range separating China from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (far away from the Middle East/Garden of Eden). Scholars believe that the fruit tree in the Middle East, the designated home of the Garden Of Eden, may actually have been a pomegranate.

    *According to and medical resources: Apples contain vitamin C, which aids the immune system, and phenols, which reduce cholesterol. Apples help to reduce tooth decay by killing bacteria that adhere to the teeth. Cornell University researchers believe that the quercetin in apples protects the brain cells against neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.



    GIFTS: Stocking Stuffers, Part 1

    For stocking stuffers, we look for special items around $10 (or less). Here’s the first bunch of gourmet foods we’d like to find in our stocking.


    In polka dot gift bags of 20 caramels, Annie B’s caramels are sure to please. The Signature Mix includes Butter Rum, Chocolate, Sea Salt and Original (vanilla) caramels. The Holiday Mix has Chocolate Raspberry, Peppermint and Pumpkin Spice caramels. The Chocolate Lovers Mix has Chocolate, Chocolate Sea Salt and Chocolate Raspberry.

    Each bag is $8. There are larger gift boxes and keepsake metal tins, $24. Get them at

    These sweet Italian Christmas breads now come in 3.5-ounce mini sizes—the equivalent of a breakfast pastry or a croissant. But what a pleasure biting into the little domed yeasty raisin bread (panettone) or sponge cake (pandoro)—we prefer the panettone. They’re $2.99 each at

    If you want to give a full-size version, no one will be disappointed. It just won’t fit in the stocking. See the whole line at The line is certified kosher by Star-D.

    Chocolate bars from two prestige producers are just right for stocking stuffers.

  • Cailler (kai-YAY) from Switzerland is very smooth and creamy milk chocolate. The Swiss invented milk chocolate, so you know it’s special. Choices include plain Rich and Creamy, plus Hazelnut, Almond Hazelnut and Cranberry and Almond Hazelnut and Raisin. Each bar is packaged in charming box-like wrapper.
    There are also dark chocolate bars and boxes of bonbons. Three individual bars are $13.50 at Amazon. For more information visit
  • Chuao Chocolatier (chew-WOW) in California makes two holiday chocolate bars we love: Hope, Joy & Gingerbread in milk chocolate, and Peace, Love & Peppermint in dark chocolate. The 2.8-ounce bars are $6 at We’ve got to stock up on enough Gingerbread to get us through until next year’s Christmas chocolate is produced.

    There’s lots of hand-crafted fudge around, but The Mill Fudge Factory gets it right: just sweet enough, not cloying. It’s melt-in-your-mouth moist, hand-cut and hand-dated for freshness.

    The company makes classic and inventive flavors. Choose from Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Salted Caramel, Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Walnut, Natural Peanut Butter, Penuche and Pure New Hampshire Maple. Seasonal flavors include Cranberry Maple Nut, Eggnog, Holiday Mint and Pumpkin Pie.

    Want a hint of spirits? Scottish Whiskey fudge is made with with Johnny Walker Red. Cabin Fever Maple Whiskey Fudge is made with the whiskey declared the best flavored whiskey on the market. And Bailey’s Irish Cream Fudge is a perennial favorte.

    We loved every bite we tried of the regular fudge flavors. The sugar-free fudge was OK, but we could taste the erythriytol—we hope the company will consider re-formulating with maltitol (see the different types of non-nutritive sweeteners).


    Annie B's Caramels

    Bauli Mini Panettone

    Gingerbread Chocolate Bar

    Fudge With Whiskey

    TOP PHOTO: Annie B’s gift bag of caramels. SECOND PHOTO: A mini panettone from Bauli. THIRD PHOTO: Holiday chocolate bars from Chuao Chocolatier. BOTTOM PHOTO: The Mill Fudge Factory has conventional and “spirited” fudge.

    All confections are available in sampler gift boxes; half-pound portions are $10, one-pound is $18.00. There are more elaborate gift baskets, a four pound Fudge Sampler for $60 and a Fudge of the Month Club 3, 6 and 12 months, $14.99 or less per month. There’s free shipping on orders of $35 or more.

    Go for it at


    Quin Coffee Marshmallows

    Snowman Marshmallows

    Superseedz Pouches

    Topperfino Chocolate Mug Toppers

    TOP PHOTO: A foot of marshmallows from
    Quin Candy. SECOND PHOTO: A marsh-
    mallow snowman topper for hot chocolate or
    coffee, from Sur La Table. THIRD PHOTO:
    Three of the nine flavors of Superseedz.
    BOTTOM PHOTO: Topperfino chocolate mug



    Quin’s melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows are different from any others. They’re made in foot-long lengths, then cut into thirds to fit into a stocking-worthy packet. In Coffee, Root Beer or Vanilla, they’re delicious, fun and $4 per bag (2.9 ounces) at


    These adorable vanilla marshmallow discs with a snowman face are new and nifty. Individually wrapped in a perky square box, Frosty’s marshmallow face peers through a cut-out.

    Place one atop a cup of hot chocolate and it will melt into something even more delicious than it looks. The marshmallows work with coffee, too—especially flavored coffees like hazelnut and vanilla, or with a spritz of pumpkin spice syrup. We’ve used them to top chocolate teas, too.

    They’re $9.95 per box at

    SuperSeedz was a Top Pick Of The Week in 2007, and we’ve been superfanz ever since. Pumpkin seeds are a gift for anyone: vegan and cholesterol-free with 7g of complete, plant-based protein per serving. That means they contain the nine essential amino acids (more than peanuts, pistachios, almonds and chia seeds).

    They’re allergen friendly: dairy-free, egg-free, fish-free, peanut-free, shellfish-free, soy-free, tree nut-free and made with gluten-free ingredients. And they’re shell-free! SuperSeedz are dry-roasted in small batches, using a proprietary pan-roasting technique that bakes the seasoning right into each seed.
    Superseedz are currently available in nine flavors: Cinnamon & Sugar, Coco Joe, Curious Curry, Really Naked, Maple Sugar & Sea Salt, Sea Salt, Somewhat Spicy, Super Spicy and Tomato Italiano. Find them at food retailers across the U.S., including Safeway, Sprouts and Whole Foods Markets.

    They can also be purchased online at Two 1-ounce individual serving pouches are $3.99; a 5-ounce pouch is $4.99.

    Our Top Pick Of The Week, Topperfino chocolate discs sit atop your hot chocolate or coffee, providing marvelous aroma before melting in to add Belgian chocolate to the cup.

    There are so many beautiful designs, in both dark and milk chocolate, that your biggest challenge will be deciding which design is perfect for which giftee. A box of 10 individually-wrapped discs is $13.99 at




    TIP OF THE DAY: Duck Bacon

    Duck Bacon

    You’ll absolutely love it: duck bacon from


    As a follow up to our article on ways to use duck fat, here’s how we use duck bacon.

    We love duck bacon. It has a wonderful flavor and is actually much leaner than pork bacon. It also leaves a less pervasive aroma to cling to our apartment’s air.

    Treat yourself to some. It also makes a nice gift for people who like to cook and enjoy pork bacon or roast duck.

    Duck bacon is sold by D’Artagnan in eight-ounce packages for $14.99, with a price break for a six-pack. Unopened packages can be kept in the fridge for eight weeks, or frozen.


    Duck bacon is thinly sliced smoked duck breast, made from Moulard duck breast (called magret de canard on menus and in recipes—see the different types of ducks).

    The breast is rubbed with salt and sugar, smoked over applewood and thinly sliced into strips. The bacon is fully cooked during smoking, and only needs to be tossed into a hot pan and fried until crisp.

    The slices are somewhat smaller than pork bacon strips, but they are thick and meaty with a rich, smoky flavor.

    All-natural duck bacon comes from humanely-raised ducks. The product is labeled “uncured” per the USDA, because it has no added nitrates or nitrites.



    Duck bacon is delicious in any recipe that calls for regular bacon.

    Duck Bacon At Breakfast

  • Serve with eggs or the pancake-waffle-French toast group.
    Duck Bacon At Lunch

  • Top salads.
  • Add to sandwiches (our favorite is this Foie Gras Club Sandwich (recipe).
  • Use in quiche and other savory tarts/pies.
    Duck Bacon At Dinner

  • Make luxury burgers or sliders: Wagyu beef, foie gras and duck bacon.
  • Add to Brussels sprouts and green beans recipes.
  • Garnish sautéed vegetables.
  • Serve with fish and seafood: scallops, shrimp and lobster.
  • Enhance any poultry or meat recipe.

    Brussels Sprouts With Duck Bacon

    Crispy Brussels sprouts with duck bacon at Distilled NY.

    And save the rendered duck bacon fat to sauté potatoes or vegetables.

    According to the Food Standards of the USDA, the term “bacon” designates the cured belly of a swine carcass. If meat from another portion of the carcass is used, the product name must be qualified to identify the portion—for example, pork shoulder bacon.

    And if another animal is used instead of the swine?

    Meat from other animals, such as cattle, chicken, duck, lamb, goat or turkey—and from vegetarian sources like seitan—may also be cut, cured, or otherwise prepared to resemble bacon. It may even be referred to as “bacon.”

    But according to the USDA, it isn’t. Unless it’s from a pig, it’s “imitation bacon” and should be labeled as such. Alternatively, it can be called “crispy smoked duck strips” or any word other than bacon.

    Another of our favorite products, Schmacon beef bacon, calls itself “uncured smoked beef strips.”

    Come on, USDA, change those standards. Your way is much more confusing to the consumers you’re supposed to be protecting.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: Recipes For National Lemon Cream Pie Day

    Lemon Cream Pie

    Frozen lemon cream pie with a hit of lemon-flavored vodka.


    National Lemon Cream Pie Day is November 29th. This year, we’re serving up something special courtesy of a recipe from New Amsterdam Vodka: a frozen pie with vodka.

    Don’t want the alcohol? Don’t want a frozen pie? There’s a very creamy lemon cream pie recipe below.


    Ingredients For 1 Pie

  • 2 cups lemon sherbet
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 12 ounces frozen lemonade
  • 2 ounces lemon-flavored vodka or plain vodka
  • 1 pie crust (we used a graham cracker crust)
  • Garnish: whipped cream
  • Optional garnishes: berries, lemon zest, mint leaves
    *A.K.A. New Amsterdam Frozen Lemonade Pie.


    1. BLEND the ingredients together thoroughly, and scoop into the pie crust. Freeze.

    2. SERVE with whipped cream and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Berries are optional but they provide a nice hit of color.



    This recipe from Pillsbury gets its creaminess from sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream (whippping cream).

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 pie crust (9 inches)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 medium lemons)
  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 4 drops yellow food color, if desired

    1. HEAT the oven to 450°F. Bake the crust 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.


    Lemon Cream Pie - Pillsbury

    Now that’s a lemon cream pie! Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

    2. MIX the condensed milk, lemon peel and lemon juice in a medium bowl; set aside.

    3. BEAT beat 2 cups of the whipping cream and the food color in large bowl, with the electric mixer on high speed, until stiff.

    4. FOLD the lemon mixture into the whipped cream until just blended. Spoon it into the crust. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours until set.

    5. BEAT the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed, until stiff. Spoon dollops on top of the pie or on slices of pie when serving. Store the pie covered in the refrigerator.

    The quickest explanation is in the names: sweetened condensed milk has added sugar and evaporated milk doesn’t. It is also much thicker: Evaporated milk pours like regular milk, but sweetened condensed milk pours like molasses. They are not interchangeable in recipes, but both can be used in coffee.

  • Evaporated milk is fresh cow’s milk from which about 60% percent of the water has been removed by evaporation. It’s then homogenized, fortified with vitamins and stabilizers, canned and sterilized. The heat from the sterilization gives the milk a bit of a caramelized flavor, and makes the color slightly darker than fresh milk. Evaporated milk was originally called unsweetened condensed milk, although that term is no longer used.
  • Sweetened condensed milk also has about 60% percent of the water removed, then sugar is added as well as vitamin A. Condensed milk contains 40% to 45% sugar, but it means that no (or less) added sugar is required in the recipe. Condensed milk requires no sterilization, since sugar is a natural inhibitor of bacteria growth. It is darker and more yellow in color than evaporated milk.

    Both were invented by Gail Borden, who subsequently formed the dairy company that bears his name. In 1852 he was traveling transatlantic when the cows aboard ship became too seasick to provide milk (and there was no refrigeration in those days to keep milk fresh). He began to experiment, and two years later produced a canned milk that did not go sour at room temperature for three days after the can was opened.

    Borden received a patent for sweetened condensed milk in 1856 and began commercial production the following year. Unsweetened condensed milk, now called evaporated milk, took more time to perfect since it didn’t have the sugar to inhibit bacteria growth. It was finally canned successfully in 1885.

    In the days before refrigeration, both evaporated and sweetened condensed milk were used more than fresh milk because they were less likely to spoil and harbor harmful bacteria.



    FOOD FUN: A New Take On French Toast

    French Toast Nuggets

    Not the same old French Toast. Photo courtesy Fabrick | NYC.


    November 28th is National French Toast Day, so have fun with it.

    At Fabrick, a fine restaurant restaurant in New York City, part of the culinary journey is food fun. Almost everything on the menu offers a new take on the traditional.

    For French Toast, it’s nuggets.

    The French Toast is cooked and cut into squares, which are:

  • Served with maple caramel (plain maple syrup is not fun)
  • In a bamboo steamer, usually used to steam and serve Chinese dumplings (a plain plate is no fun)
  • With fresh berries (little bites of fun?)
    How would you turn French Toast into fun?

  • The history of French Toast.
  • Savory French Toast recipes: It’s not all maple syrup and berries.



    TIP OF THE DAY: What To Do With Broken Chip Pieces

    What do you do with all the broken chips at the bottom of the bag? Toss them?

    Sure: We toss them right on top of plain Greek yogurt.

    Or atop a green salad.

    Or on top of mac and cheese or casseroles.

    We never let those little pieces chips die heedlessly. We use them as croutons.

    We use any chip pieces, plus cracker and pretzel pieces—anything crunchy. You can store all the crumbs in an airtight jar. A mix of crumbs will taste even better!

    If you have enough, pulse them to an even consistency and use them as breading for chicken and fish.

    Here’s the list of chips we’ve had. Can you add to it?


    Taco Chip Croutons

    Sweetgreen garnishes a green salad with tortilla chips. We use the broken chip pieces at the bottom of the bag. Photo courtesy Sweetgreen.

  • Bagel chips
  • Bean chips
  • Cassava/yucca chips
  • Chickpea chips
  • Corn chips*
  • Kale chips
  • Lentil chips
  • Naan chips
  • Pasta chips
  • Pita chips
  • Plantain chips
  • Potato and sweet potato chips
  • Rice chips
  • Soy crisps
  • Tortilla chips*/taco chips (and flavored tortilla chips)
  • Vegetable chips (e.g. beet, lotus root, yucca)
    *The main difference between the two types of chip is that a tortilla chip is cut from a whole tortilla, and a corn chip is made from corn meal.


    Maya Kaimal Naan Chips

    Stonefire Naan Bread

    TOP PHOTO: Maya Kaimal Naan Chips.
    BOTTOM PHOTO: Tandoori-cooked naan from



    The latest addition to our roster of chips are Naan Chips from Maya Kaimal Fine Indian Foods. Joining the company’s line of Chickpea Chips, they’re available nin Sea Salt, Rosemary and Almost Everything (onion, poppy and anise). You can find a store locator as well as e-tailers at

    One of the delectable family of Indian breads, naan (pronounced like the female name Nan) is a light, leavened bread, traditionally in a teardrop shape and cooked in a clay oven (see photo).

    The chips are baked in a proprietary flame-baked process meant to emulate a wood-fired tandoor oven. The process creates the signature blisters and bubbles of authentic naan flatbread (it took more than 40 tries to get it right).

    The toasty triangles are lighter and flakier than pita chips, and the seasonings are incorporated into the dough, not dusted on the surface.

    Enjoy them with guacamole, hummus or other dips; with cheese or soup; or simply crunch away.

    Maya Kaimal Naan Chips are Non-GMO Project Verified, certified kosher by OU, and vegan. for a suggested retail price of $3.49 to $3.99 per six ounce bag.



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