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Archive for June, 2008

Best Barbecue Sauces 2008

So much barbecue sauce, so little time. Our box of bottles to try for Barbecue Season 2008 was so heavy, we could hardly lift it. As in previous years, we tested our products on chicken. (See Part I and Part II for other favorites, including kosher and sugar-free barbecue sauce.)This year’s sauces that more than pass muster* are a widely-varying group of flavor profiles. Read each mini-review for details.

*The phrase “to pass muster,” meaning to be acceptable or satisfactory, comes from the military. Troops are gathered in a group to show officers that they are acceptably dressed and equipped. Muster refers to the gathering, so it is especially appropriate for our gathering of barbecue sauces.

Recognizing that preferences vary, we included some sauces this year that might not have passed our “moderate sugar standard” in previous years. You’ll see from our comments what we thought was good, and why people who look for sweeter foods should enjoy them.

Big John’s Ol West BBQ & Dippin Sauce

Blender’s Barbeque Sauce, Marinade & Dip

Buz & Ned’s Real Barbecue Sauce

One Drop Gourmet BBQ Sauce

Smoke Master BBQ Sauce

Taste Of Tassleberry Strawberry BBQ Sauce

Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

 

 
Depending on your pick from our new
crop of barbecue sauces, those ribs
(or chicken, or pork) can taste smoky,
sweet, hot or like strawberries. Photo
by Ed O’Neil | IST.
 

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Dutch Moon Cookies


Cookie, waffle, chocolate and caramel in one luscious treat. Above, the Milk Cappuccino Dutch Moon stroopwafel cookie.
Photography by Saidi Granados.
  Stroopwafels are an old Dutch treat, invented in the town of Gouda in 1784. The traditional way to eat them is with a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. Just before it is eaten, the stroopwafel is placed on top of the hot cup in order to soften it up; the filling melts, and scents of cinnamon and nutmeg are released into the air. Originally a poor man’s treat made from crumbs, the cookies are ubiquitous in Holland, from inexpensive supermarket varieties to artisan-baked cookies. An American wife and Dutch husband have revived the artisan art in New Amsterdam, with delightful results: Chewy, chocolate-dipped Dutch caramel wafers, for small daily indulgences, guest treats and gifts. They are perfect with coffee and tea, and a novel gift for a host or hostess.

We were sad when one of our favorite artisan producers in Massachusetts discontinued the delicious stroopwafel from its line. The complex yet homey cookies just weren’t moving as fast as other items, they said. We can only conclude that it’s because most Americans have never heard of a stroopwafel, and don’t know how good it is. Whether from a gourmet producer or the supermarket, it’s not easy to find a stroopwafel in this country.


So we were thrilled when, at a recent restaurant trade show in New York City, we came across Dutch Moon Cookies. New Yorker Tracey Denton and her Dutch husband Eelco Keij, created this Dutch treat for Americans. Succulent and cinnamony, it’s a most delicious introduction to the stroopwafel.

Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Robert Lambert Preserved Fruit

If you haven’t bought artisan preserved fruits before, you’re in for a treat. Just a few fruits of these wine-and-vinegar preserved delicacies on each plate turn a regular meal into a restaurant entrée, a plain scoop of ice cream into something that deserves a fancy French name. Robert Lambert, one of our favorite artisan producers, has created another all-natural hit, using the finest ingredients.

Robert Lambert is one of America’s great food artisans. He runs a boutique operation in California, the land of plenty. Within an hour’s drive or so, heritage fruits grow on trees owned by families for generations—small amounts of fruit waiting to be harvested and turned into microbatches of delicacies for those in the know.


Luscious black cherries, preserved in Merlot, add instant gourmet glamour to everything from plain grilled meats to ice cream. Photography by Claire Freierman.
Robert preserves the fruits in wine, vinegar, herbs and spices, plus a small amount of sweetener (sugar and/or honey or grape juice). He likes to serve them on the plate next to meat or fish, like a pickle or a chutney, or in a ramekin on the side with the equally delicious preserving syrup. We like spooning both fruit and syrup over the meat or fish. It’s easy to deglaze the pan with some of the syrup and some stock to make a delicious sauce. We also love the fruits on top of ice cream, sorbet and plain cakes, where they turn something simple but good into something memorable. Add a bit of Chantilly (whipped cream), a mint or rosemary sprig, and suddenly a plain slice of pound cake becomes a “gâteau” that you can name after yourself or the guest of honor. Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

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RECIPES: Classic Summer Cocktails


The ever-popular Margarita seems to be a classic with every generation.
  Modern mixology, like today’s fine cuisine, has become a throw-down to see who can create the most complex, fascinating drinks with new flavors and nifty ingredients. In the process of entertaining cocktail customers with new wow factors, many of the classic drinks have fallen by the wayside. While some, like the Martini, are enjoying a renaissance (including hundreds of variations on the theme that make the drink unrecognizable, as in the Plum Sakétini), when was the last time anyone ordered a Tom Collins—even though a bar glass is named after it?

This summer, treat guests to a retro cocktail hour. Here are cocktail recipes for some oldies but goodies that haven’t been seen for a while, along with some classics that seem to be high on the list of the cocktail menu top hits:

Bellini Recipe

Grand Margarita Recipe

Mojito Recipe

Scotch & Ginger Recipe

Tom Collins Recipe

 

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Patchwork Pâté

Patchwork Pâté is a successful Welsh country artisan product that has taken root in the U.S., where it is made carefully following the original recipes. The result: a delicious line of chicken liver-based pâtés with enough variety of flavorings to make every day a pâté day.

In 1982, Welsh housewife Margaret Carter found herself divorced with three children to look after. With no formal training, she attempted what many talented home cooks do: She made one of her special recipes to sell locally. With startup savings of just £9.00, she began selling her homemade pâtés to pubs in Llangollen, a town nestled in the beautiful Dee Valley in northeast Wales. Few Americans know Llangollen, but it is known as the Festival Capital of Wales (music, food, balloon and fringe festivals) and the horse-drawn boat ride on the Llangollen Canal is one of the oldest attractions in the country. The River Dee, which flows through town, is the most sacred Celtic River in Western Europe. According to Arthurian legend, the Fisher King, guardian of the Holy Grail, fished its deep flowing waters.

  Patchwork Pâté is an everyday indulgence. Photography by Claire Freierman.
But the town may become known as the birthplace of Patchwork Pâté. What started in Patchwork Pate her kitchen, in a Victorian shooting lodge on a hillside, has become a thriving international specialty food business, selling in the U.S., Hong Kong and Japan. The £9.00 investment is now generating £2.2 million a year. Two of Margaret’s children, Marcus and Rufus Carter, now run the company. The kitchen has become a 10,000-square foot facility in North Wales; in the U.K., Patchwork Pâté also sells savory tarts, quiches and pies. The company has won numerous awards for its pâtés, terrines, savories and desserts, including Wales’ True Taste awards. Despite scaling up, everything is made the way Margaret originally cooked it, by hand in small batches.

Not every artisan food maker reaches such heights, but Americans are fortunate that, at the Fancy Food Show three years ago, Patchwork Pâté was discovered. Now the recipes are made in Pennsylvania and distributed nationwide. You can tell from the first bite that, as in the U.K., only the best ingredients are used, including lots of fresh herbs. The pâtés are made in small batches without preservatives or additives. Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

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