THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for December, 2007

FOOD TIP OF THE DAY:

Today is National Champagne Day. Most people bring a bottle of Champagne as a gift to New Year’s Eve parties. Add a book about Champagne, and your gift will be remembered long after the bubbles are gone. This is one of our favorites. (Find more of our favorite books in the Books Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.) Happy New Year from all of us at THE NIBBLE!   4000 Champagnes
No one expects to get through all 4,000, but there’s lots of educational information about Champagne itself.
 

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FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: A More Entertaining New Year

You can spend more time with friends and family in the New Year by entertaining more often and more easily. Don’t focus on a formal event that takes time to plan and costs a lot of money. Think casual, and simply set aside 2 hours a month to catch up with people you don’t see often enough, or with those you’ve met but haven’t had the chance to see again. Make it a regular event and set aside the second Friday evening or third Sunday afternoon of the month, for example. Invite four to eight people over for a mini-tasting: Try different teas, mineral waters, Spanish cheeses, single-origin chocolate bars—whatever you’d like to learn more about. The group will enjoy mixing and discovering new specialty foods; small groups are easier and less expensive to manage and guests mix more easily. THE NIBBLE is full of ideas—almost every food category section has suggestions for tastings. See the Main Nibbles index of 70 categories of yummy foods in THE NIBBLE online magazine—and decide whether to start in alphabetical order (craft beer?) or healthy, low-calorie food for your new year’s resolutions.   Green TeaInvite friends for a green tea tasting party in January and discover a favorite new green tea to pack in the antioxidants all year long. Read more about high antioxidant foods.
 

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FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Go Nuts For Fresh Nutmeg

Whole Nutmeg

Whole nutmeg: Once you try it freshly-
grated, you’ll never go back to pre-grated.

  Just as freshly-ground pepper bears no resemblance to the bland, pre-ground powder, freshly-ground nutmeg is a vibrant spice that perks up sweet and savory dishes alike.

We use it to flavor apples and other seasonal fruits (pies, compotes, sautéed sliced fruit), to make cookies and pastries and in custards. We love it in egg dishes and vegetable purées. It’s our favorite seasoning with spinach in any form, and on pasta with broccoli rabe.

For beverages, use it in addition to (or instead of) cinnamon on hot chocolate, coffee, cappuccino, mulled cider, warm milk, cold milk, chocolate milk and of course, eggnog!

While some cooks grate the whole nutmeg against a fine plane kitchen grater, we value our skin and use a nutmeg grinder or mill—the same principle as a peppermill, but accommodating the larger nutmeg, which is the size of an unshelled hazelnut.

If you’ve had the nutmeg for several years, you can check the quality by piercing it with a needle. If the skin pierces slightly and a drop of oil flows out, the nut is still fresh. If the skin won’t pierce, it’s dried out. (See how to check your other spices for freshness.)

The nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen tree fruit. The tree, botanically known as Myristica fragrans, is indigenous to tropical southeast Asia and Australasia. Mace is the milder-tasting dried hull of the nutmeg—the part you peel off to get to the nut.

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FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Deluxe Deviled Eggs

If you’re making deviled eggs for New Year’s Eve, serve them in flavors. Fresh dill, curry, infused tobiko roes and wasabi are popular choices.

Just divide the mashed yolks mixture after you’ve added the binder (mayo, dijon, sour cream) and salt.

But filling the eggs—even just one flavor—can be a devilish chore. Instead of struggling to spoon in the filling, do what caterers do and put it in a Ziploc-type bag. Cut off a corner of the bag and simply squeeze the filling into the egg whites.

Now that you know the easy way, here are more favorite flavors to try: bacon (“bacon and eggs”), chopped chives, chutney, crab, crumbled blue cheese, jalapeño, kalamata olives, lemon herb and smoked salmon.

 

See our recipe for these deviled eggs, topped with caviar from The Little Pearl.

 

We also have a favorite caviar deviled egg recipe. It has a cap of caviar, but you can also mix tobiko into the filling.

See our recipe for these deviled eggs, topped with caviar from The Little Pearl.

  

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NEWS: 2008 Cheese Trends

Goat Cheese Pyramid
A goat cheese pyramid from California’s Cypress Grove Chevre reflects Americans’ growing interest in cheeses that “tell a story.” Read our review of this wonderful artisan cheesemaker.
  ’Tis the season for new year’s projections, so here are five cheese trends for 2008, courtesy of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association:

1. Natural & Artisan Cheeses: Americans are getting better taste in cheese. Between 2001 and 2006, sales of natural cheese increased 10%, while sales of processed cheese declined 9.1%, according to research firm Mintel International. Specialty cheese sales at supermarkets that gross over $2 million per year have grown 8.6%, according to The Nielsen Company.

2. Convenience: Pre-seasoned cheese, along with grated and crumbled cheese, string cheese, stick cheese, cubed cheese and natural cheese slices are growing at an annual rate of up to 17%.

3. Ethnic Cheeses: In 2006, Italian cheeses surpassed American natural cheeses in popularity (note that this popularity is highly influenced by the amount of mozzarella on pizzas). Additionally, Latin American and Spanish cheeses are no longer considered a niche market, since many non-Hispanic consumers incorporate the cheeses into their cooking. Half of the top 10 fastest-growing specialty cheeses at retail are Hispanic cheeses.

 

 

 

4. Probiotics: There is a large increase in cheese products with probiotics, beneficial bacteria that aid digestion that were previously found largely in yogurts. In September 2007, Kraft introduced LiveAction cheese sticks, the first probiotic cheese in North America with national distribution. For more information about probiotics, read our article, What is Probiotic Food?

5. Increased Snacking: According to Mintel International, two-thirds of consumers like the convenience of natural cheese snacks in single-serving packages. Dieters eat more cheese on average than non-dieters, as the snack offers both protein and calcium. (However, they are also high in fat.)

Overall, consumers are interested in cheese that “tells a story.” Rather than boring sliced, processed cheese from a large manufacturer, consumers have turned their attention to cheeses produced in a certain region, or even a single farmstead. Still, convenience remains a top issue, and consumers will pay more for pre-grated cheese, even though freshly-grated is more flavorful. Check out the Cheese Section in THE NIBBLE online magazine for many cheese ideas for 2008.

 

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