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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.

Archive for April, 2008

TIP OF THE DAY: Butter Ramekins



Flavored butter looks even more enticing when served in a lovely ramekin. This cultured butter is made by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.
  Instead of bringing butter to the table in a rectangular brick, serve it in ramekins, like some fine restaurants do. In addition to plain butter, you can easily make and serve different flavored butters with style. Use a knife to score decorative cross-hatches on the top; and if you’re of an artistic nature, add a few fresh herb leaves or capers to the center or edges. Or sprinkle the top of sweet butter with sea salt.

Find recipes for flavored butters and read more butter tips in the Artisanal Butter section on THE NIBBLE online magazine.

 

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Starbucks Chocolate

What do you do when you’ve mastered coffee? Come up with a line that goes with it. Starbucks has launched Starbucks Chocolate, a portfolio of artisan-style chocolates inspired by their coffee and Tazo tea products—and in some cases, containing pieces of the coffee and tea. The chocolate looks beautiful: a glossy finish and beautiful design. And it tastes great, too.

Starbucks’ offerings include chocolate bars, tasting squares, truffles and chocolate-covered coffee beans. The chocolate was designed in consultation with The Artisan Confections Company, the subsidiary of The Hershey Company that owns the artisan chocolate brands Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Joseph Schmidt Confections and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker.

The chocolate quality is superb—among the best one can find outside a gourmet bar store, and some of the products can compete with most of what is found within those stores. The price is right: 3-ounce bars for $2.99, boxes of tasting squares and Milk Chocolate-Covered Coffee Beans for $4.99 to $5.49 and five flavors of Chocolate Truffles in the same price range.
 
Take a bite out of Starbucks’ tasty new line of affordable, artisan-style chocolate.

Our only unhappiness is that today, we can’t find anyone online to ship these to us. But the products were just launched last month, and distribution will evolve. Whenever you see them, grab them. For three to five dollars a pop, they’re a treat you can enjoy, and a gift you can afford to give. Read the full review of Starbucks Chocolate, and find more about artisan chocolate in the Gourmet Chocolate & Chocolate Gifts section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Fun With Fruit Curd


The same lemon curd you’d enjoy on breakfast scones can do double-duty for dessert.
  Lemon curd and its siblings, like lime curd and blood orange curd, are a versatile addition to the pantry. Serve them with strawberries and other dipping fruit for a casual dessert or a snack. Or spoon curd into tart shells for an instant fancy dessert—instead of one large tart, serve three mini tarts with different curd flavors, topped with a different type of berry. Use curd to garnish bundt cakes and pound cake. Serve it with plain cookies. And of course, spread it on toast, muffins and scones (the scones at the left are from Iveta Scones, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week). We even use it to make “dessert pasta” with angel hair and slivered almonds. Keep a jar or two on hand and you’ll always have something interesting to serve to guests. Read more about desserts and fruit spreads in the Dessert Sauces & Toppings section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
 

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NEW PRODUCT: King Corn DVD

If you didn’t catch the feature documentary, King Corn, on television last week, buy the DVD for Earth Day—or any time you want an eye-opener (the official release date is Tuesday, April 29, but you can order it now). You’ll never look at corn the same way again. Almost everything we eat contains corn: high fructose corn syrup, corn-fed meat and poultry and corn-based processed foods. The government pays farmers $28 per acre to grow corn. If it weren’t for the $28 payment, many farmers would lose money on their crops. Yet, we have a corn surplus: Your tax dollars at work. But bigger news than the government wasting taxpayer dollars to subsidize crops is what you’ll learn about corn. Some highlights:

- The corn planted today in the corn belt is genetically modified for high yields and herbicide tolerance. It’s meant to be made into high fructose corn syrup or livestock feed. It’s not “corn on the cob,” edible by humans. (That’s a different variety.)

  King KornKing Korn: Buy the DVD.
- In fact, all of the nutrition has been bred out of the corn. The original protein-rich Mexican strains have been modified into mostly starch. Yes, the farmers can’t even eat the corn they grow—at least, not as a vegetable.

- But we all eat it—in the meat that our livestock has been fed with, in the HFCS that’s in our bread products, in the corn oil that the fries are cooked in, and of course, in all that soda.

While the production values of “King Korn” are homespun, the message is not. The corn that pervades our diet—which is killing us through higher rates of obesity and diabetes—is also killing the cattle. You’ll see up-close and personal how cattle that have grazed free range on grass for thousands of years are now feedlot cattle, fed a corn that their digestive system is not evolved to deal with, so that they reach market weight in half the time. If they weren’t slaughtered for beef at 12 to 18 months, they’d be dead in a few months from acidosis caused by their diet. Yes, you’ll never look at a burger the same way, either.

While you’re at it, pick up a copy of Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” about climate change.

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COCKTAIL RECIPES: “Green” Cocktails For Earth Day

360 Vodka
Think green, and celebrate Earth Day with two cocktail recipes from 360 Vodka.
  Celebrate Earth Day, April 22nd, by drinking tap water. Refill a bottle and carry it around with you. And especially purchase a Better Drinking Water Filter Bottle—a biodegradable corn resin bottle with a built-in filter top that is good for purifying 90 bottles of tap water.

Now you’ve earned a cocktail, so celebrate with 360 Vodka, a “green” company that produces its vodka to be as earth-friendly as possible, in both manufacture and distribution. The company has created two special Earth Day cocktails, Greentini and Planetary Punch. Enjoy the recipes and learn more about the vodka.

Find more cocktail recipes in the Cocktails & Mixers Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

 

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dough Ray Me Artisan Cookies

We’re always on the lookout for “special” cookies, to bring (or send) as gifts or to serve as a light dessert at the end of a fine dinner. And when we invite friends and neighbors for tea or coffee, we like to set out something noteworthy yet effortless: impressive cookies. Alas, with the expense of running an artisan bakery these days, it’s not easy to find something noteworthy, much less impressive. The cookies in the case at most of our local bakeries and specialty food stores are pretty unexciting and not worth the calories. Meet Jon Dough—a.k.a. Jon Chazen, a pastry chef who is at the ready with a solution to the dull cookie blues. His company, Dough Ray Me, specializes in what we call mignardises (min-yar-DEEZ, from the French for “precious”)—although Jon Dough is too down-to-earth to use the term. Mignardises are a type of miniature baked good, also called petit-fours (you may get a plate of them at the end of dinner at a fine restaurant). Mignardises can take many shapes, and Jon’s are bite-size cookies. The ten varieties range from familiar flavors (double chocolate and peanut butter-chocolate) to the less familiar (hazelnut-cardamom and sesame-gingerbread).   Dough Ray Me Cookies
Dough Ray Me cookies are so petite, they can sit on the saucer of a teacup.
The versatile bites are most welcome for entertaining, as a light dessert or a garnish for more elaborate desserts, and as a snack for people who deserve the best. Beautiful packaging choices makes these cookies a “precious” gift for any occasion. Party-givers can buy them in bulk. Read the full review of Dough Ray Me and then order your own stash. You can find more of our favorite cookies in the Cookies Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Fusion Antipasto Recipe

Piquillo Peppers

Piquillo peppers add color and flavor to what
would have been a plain lettuce salad. Photo
courtesy El Navarrico.

 

Create a fusion dish by using Italian antipasto ingredients to dress up your salad course.

Marinated tomatoes, roasted peppers or artichokes from a high-quality manufacturer like Divina are wonderful on their own, but are even more grand atop greens.

You can use the oil marinade from quality jarred vegetables as your salad dressing and shave some Parmesan on top to finish your dish.

Visit the Gourmet Vegetables Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine for more salad recipes.

 

 
  

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Good Clean Food Simmer Sauces

Good Clean Food is dedicated to the proposition that we’d all prefer a good, home-cooked meal on the table—if only it were easy to put it there. Now you can turn out delicious, healthy meals quickly, with Good Clean Food simmer sauces. Just pour the contents of the jar of one of the six varieties into a frying pan, add fish, shrimp, chicken breasts or pork and simmer for 10 or so minutes. Take a bite: You’ve got truly delicious and complex-flavored food. The flavor is in the details: The all-natural product line is made from top ingredients, and truly tastes like “good, clean food.”

Great attention is given to each ingredient:

  Good Clean Food Creole Simmer Sauce
Shrimp in Good Clean Food’s Creole Sauce simmered to perfection in six or seven minutes.
The cider comes from an orchard in western Maine, the state where Good Clean Food is produced. The chicken bones that make the stock come from Bell & Evans chickens. The mustard in the Tarragon Simmer Sauce is made at Raye’s Mustard Mill, North America’s last remaining traditional, stone-ground mustard mill founded in 1889. The Kalamata olives are from Divina, one of our favorite importers of quality Greek foods. There are currently six sauces: three for chicken or pork (Cacciatore, French Tarragon, Maine Cider) and three for fish or seafood (Creole, Mediterranean, Scandinavian Dill). Read the full review of Good Clean Foods simmer sauces. Find more of our favorite sauces in THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Organic Snack Basket

Organic Snack Basket
Win this organic snack basket and learn why converting just 10% of your food to organic will help save the planet.
  Tomorrow is Earth Day, a global observance initiated by U.S. Senator Gaylor Nelson of Wisconsin (1916-2005). It is celebrated on April 22nd to generate awareness of our planet and what we can do to help conserve it. The first Earth Day was observed in 1970, with 20 million Americans participating on behalf of a sustainable environment. In 2007, half a billion people in almost 200 countries worldwide participated.

If you want to do something for the Earth every week of the year, take our Gourmet Giveaway Quiz: It will give you lots of ideas of the things you can do to lessen your carbon foodprint (yes, foodprint). You don’t have to answer the questions correctly in order to win; but if you eat more organics, you and our planet will win. Find some of our favorite organic products in the NutriNibbles section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

 

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TRENDS: Wine No Longer Bought By 1/4 Of Vacationers

Air travel restrictions have changed wine drinkers’ buying and travel practices, according to results from a poll released by BottleWise, a manufacturer of airline-friendly wine travel bags. BottleWise asked attendees at last month’s Food and Wine Expo in Washington, D.C., what impact, if any, TSA carry-on restrictions have had on their wine buying habits when flying home from wine country or other destinations. U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began restricted liquids carry-ons to three-ounce or smaller containers. A bottle of wine is 750ml or 25.4 ounces.
· 24.4%, said they no longer buy bottles of wine when traveling by air
· 41.2% wrap bottles in clothing or bubble wrap and place it in their checked luggage
· 18.1% ask the winery to ship the wine directly to them
· 10.4% reported no impact because they never travel with wine
  Wine Bottle Tote
Pack wine in luggage safely with a wine tote like BottleWise.
Airlines do not provide compensation for damage to luggage contents created from spills or leaks. Passengers must take the necessary precautions to protect wine bottles, olive oil, perfume and other glass purchases packed away in their checked bags. While bubble wrap is a good start, and the luggage compartments on modern aircraft are pressurized (there is no risk to bottles popping an unopened cap or cork, but transporting opened bottles is not recommended), people with fine clothing may want to take an extra step and use a device like BottleWise, which has liquid-tight pouches. At $48.95 to $58.95 for a carrier that holds just two bottles, it may seem like a luxury; but rolled into the cost of the vacation, it’s just rounding error. Learn more at BottleWise.com. Learn more about wine in the Wine Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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