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Archive for December, 2007

FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Shortcake

Use your cookie cutters to make a special holiday “ice cream cake.” Slice regular or chocolate pound cake into 1/2″to 3/4″-thick slices and use cookie cutters to cut shapes into the cake—trees and stars are especially nice. Top with vanilla, mint or candy cane ice cream, fresh strawberries and mint leaves, and drizzle with chocolate sauce if you like. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters and other theme shapes to make this special (and easy) dessert for every holiday. If the poundcake isn’t dense, you may have to toast it lightly in order to cut out the shapes—but toasted cake is just as delicious. Click here for a pumpkin mousse recipe—another lovely, seasonal dessert in the Desserts & Ice Cream Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.   Snowflake Cookie Cutter
Buy a poundcake, cut shapes with your cookie cutters, and turn them into “holiday shortcake”
with whipped cream and berries.
 

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REVIEW: Sweet Muse Brownies

BrownieSweet Muse brownies are melt-in-your-mouth fudgy.   Need brownies? Sweet Muse makes hand-baked, individually wrapped gourmet brownies that are “inspirational indulgences,” because each is wrapped with an inspirational or philosophical quote. The moist fudge brownies are large enough and rich enough so that they can be shared with a friend and still provide satisfaction. Baked by an actress, the brownies “perform,” and are sure to get a round of applause from both children and adults—assuming the children you know are keen for toppings like toffee, coconut almond and peppermint candy. Read the full review. And find more of our favorite brownies in the Cookies & Brownies Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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ON OUR RADAR: Interesting Nibbles From The Past Week

– Craving a hard-to-find ingredient? Or do you just want to know how many restaurants in your city serve rack of lamb? Now you can search for restaurants by food item. Hankering for cardoons, the wild artichoke? Ramping up an appetite for ramps? Want to try wild boar, moose or ostrich? FoodBytes.com will tell you where to find them at a restaurant near you. [via Gothamist]

– Are you an epicure, gastronome, gourmet, gourmand or glutton? The Old Foodie, of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, takes it on thusly:“In the lexicon of lip-smacking, an epicure is fastidious in his choice and enjoyment of food, just a soupçon more expert than a gastronome; a gourmet is a connoisseur of the exotic, taste buds attuned to the calibrations of deliciousness, who savors the masterly techniques of great chefs; a gourmand is a hearty bon vivant who enjoys food without truffles and flourishes; a glutton overindulges greedily, the word rooted in the Latin for ‘one who devours.’ … After eating, an epicure gives a thin smile of satisfaction; a gastronome, burping into his napkin, praises the food in a magazine; a gourmet, repressing his burp, criticizes the food in the same magazine; a gourmand belches happily and tells everybody where he ate; a glutton embraces the white porcelain altar, or, more plainly, he barfs.”

  Ostrich meatFeel like having ostrich for dinner? Hunt it down
at FoodieBytes.com. Or, buy these ostrich filets
from one of our favorite exotic meat purveyors,
Blackwing. Read our review of their amazing bison.
 
THE NIBBLE’s take is a bit different. Here is our response to a reader in our Letters To The Editor section in THE NIBBLE online magazine:A foodie can be defined as someone who has a passion for high quality food, and pursues it with zeal. Foodies are interested in all foods, including everyday and casual foods like breads and potato chips, as long as they are the finest quality.- A foodie is a different psychographic than a gourmet. A gourmet is considered to be a person who has sophisticated tastes in food and wine. Foodies can be gourmets, but many foodies are not gourmets: They just prefer the best of the basics. By the same token, some gourmets are not foodies: They prefer their rarefied experiences, and are not excited, e.g., by the thought of searching Chinatown for the best scallion pancakes, or finding a truly amazing old-fashioned jelly doughnut.

– We would argue that today’s gourmet is a broader-perspective fine food enthusiast who pursues the complex and sophisticated flavors in the major world cuisines; and that there is still a dividing line between what is accessible and enjoyable to many people, and what is more rarefied and of interest to those whose palates and noses seek higher levels of nuance and challenge (i.e., the gourmets). A simplistic example might be the difference between the enjoyment of a fine Brie, appreciated by a large number of people, and an Epoisses, which is much more demanding of the nose and taste buds (and can be thrilling or off-putting, depending on which side of the line you stand).

– An epicure is a connoisseur, a person who cultivates a refined taste, especially in food and wine. Epicurus was an Athenian philosopher (341 B.C.E. to 270 B.C.E.) who taught that pleasure is the highest good. Thus, epicureanism is touched with sensuous enjoyment. Gastronome and gastronomist are synonyms, as is gourmet—the emphasis being on connoisseurship as well as sensuous enjoyment.

– A gourmand is a person who is fond of good eating, often to excess, but generally a lover of good food. The word evolved from the Old French word for glutton, gormant. Here, the emphasis is on sensuous enjoyment over connoisseurship.

– A glutton eats voraciously, excessively and indiscriminatingly. The word comes from the Latin for “to gulp down.”

By the way, the term “foodie” was coined in 1984 by authors Ann Barr and Paul Levy, in The Official Foodie Handbook, a tongue-in-cheek observation of passionate food lovers (including Levy) who would wax poetic about radicchio and have enraptured conversations about their food discoveries. The phenomenon was first recognized and described in the book by the duo, a magazine editor (Barr) and American-born journalist (Levy), both based in London.

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FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Peppermint Patties

Chocolate Peppermint Patties
These are from the Wisconsin Cheeseman, but your own homemade peppermint patties will be a much bigger hit.
  If you love peppermint patties, making them at home is easy. Combine 1 pound confectioner’s sugar, 3 tablespoons softened butter, 3 teaspoons peppermint extract and 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract. Mix in 1/4 cup evaporated milk. Roll into 1-inch balls, place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and chill for 20 minutes. Next, flatten the balls with the bottom of a glass to 1/4″ thick, so they look like peppermint patties. Now prepare the chocolate coating in a double boiler: 12 ounces of good-quality semisweet chocolate (you can use chocolate morsels, but the key is to get the best-tasting chocolate you can find, like Guittard or Valrhona) with 2 tablespoons shortening (not butter, or it won’t cling to the center). Dip the patties and place them back onto the waxed paper to harden.
If you want to go all-out, you can decorate the tops of the patties with candied mint leaves: Dip tiny leaves or cut pieces of leaf and crystallize in sugar syrup. The recipe makes about 5 dozen peppermint patties. Be sure to make extra for friends and family—these are so good, you’ll want to eat the whole batch. If you want to let others make the candy, take a look at the Candy Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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REVIEW: El Robost Gourmet Condiments

The unusual artisanal condiment gelatins and coconut purée from El Rebost de L’Empordanet are some of the most interesting foods we’ve seen in a long time. Condiment gelatins made from violets and Cava (Spain’s sparkling wine) transform a dish with just a dab. The Pineapple and Coconut Purée can make one loco for coco. El Rebost is in the Catalonia region of Spain, near the birthplace of the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. Perhaps it is a touch of Dalí legacy that has led to such fascinating condiments. We don’t know any American company that makes products like these. Their website is frustrating because we don’t speak Catalan; but we read enough Spanish to know that we want to try everything they sell. We wish that the entire line of gelées, confitures, melmelades and xocolates (that’s chocolate sauce, not candy) were available in the U.S. But we’ll be content with the three items we can get. The products are all natural, free of preservatives or chemical additives. Read the full review in THE NIBBLE online magazine, and take a look at some of our other favorites in the Condiments section.   El Rebost Violet Gelee
Violet Gelée—buy yourself some and add some culinary magic to your New Year.
   
 

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