THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for June, 2008

TOP PICK: Mariposa Baking Company


Great taste and gluten free. So’s the
whole line of Mariposa baked treats.
From top to bottom: Triple Chocolate
Truffle Brownie, Coconut Lemon Square,
Mocha Truffle Brownie. Photography
by Saidi Granados.
  This is the first gluten-free product to ever be named a Top Pick Of The Week, and the second “restricted diet” food.* But these brownies, coffeecakes and biscotti are good enough so that anyone can enjoy them and ask for seconds. With more people discovering they have gluten allergies, we want any of your friends and acquaintances who have such restrictions to know about Mariposa Baking Company.
*Divvies Cupcakes, a prior Top Pick, are dairy-free, egg-free and wheat-free. Some other Top Picks are naturally gluten-free because no products containing gluten are used in their production (e.g. olive oil and soft drinks).

Recommended by a NIBBLE reader, this bakery in Oakland, California, is a marvel. We taste quite a bit of gluten-free, sugar-free and fat-free baked goods, hoping to discover ones that taste good enough to recommend to people on restricted diets. Our standards are that they have to be good enough for everyone in the household to enjoy. Whatever magic is being practiced at Mariposa Bakery, these wheat-free, gluten-free brownies, biscotti and coffeecakes can be enjoyed by anyone.

So even if gluten-free isn’t your food focus, take a minute to think of someone who will appreciate you forever for forwarding this review. Read more about Mariposa’s delectables in the full review. And take a look at more of our favorite baked goods in THE NIBBLE‘s Cookies, Cakes & Pastries Section.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Amore Seasoning Paste

Want to add more flavor to your foods, quicker, easier and with minimal expense? Try Amore pastes—all-natural concentrated flavor in a tube. Just squeeze a bit of anchovy, garlic, hot chile pepper, pesto tomato or the other flavors in the line. The pastes are imported from Italy, where great cooking is a matter of national honor. They’re a very welcome addition to our kitchen.

Few things are as convenient as a product that can sit in the fridge for months, ready to add exciting flavor to any number of dishes at a moment’s notice. That’s why we love Amore’s gourmet pastes, which are available in seven varieties: anchovy, black olive, garlic, hot pepper, pesto, sun-dried tomato and tomato. They come in handy for everyday cooking, especially when we’re low on spices and aromatics—or just in a hurry. A mere squeeze of the tube gives sauces the tang of fresh tomato, dressings a garlicky zip, and marinades a rush of hot pepper heat.

  These squiggles are a lifesaver in the kitchen. Photography by Saidi Granados.

The concentrated pastes, which come from Italy, add complexity and character to other foods too. They’re great in dressings and sauces, stirred into soups, on pizza or anywhere you need a hit of flavor. In some cases, they can even be used on their own as spreads. A note: The pastes we tried tended to be already salted, so be sure to taste as you go, before adding additional salt to your dishes. Consider this saltiness yet another convenience—you might not even have to bother with extra seasonings.

Amore is made by Gia, a company located in Sant’Agostino, a municipality in the province of Ferrara in the Italian region Emilia-Romagna, home to balsamic vinegar and Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese, among other delicacies. (Gia also markets a line o pastes in a tube under the Gia brand.) The pastes add negligible calories to dishes—about 15 calories a teaspoon—and are cholesterol-free and sugar-free.

Read about our favorite pastes and some great ways to use them in the full review on TheNibble.com.

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TOP PICK: True Natural Taste Artisan Organic Mustard


Stone-ground mustard with horseradish: one of the stars of the line. Photography by Saidi Granados.
  America’s specialty food stores are packed with gourmet condiments. Yet, as good as we would like them all to be, different brands vary in the degree of excitement they present to the demanding palate. That’s why it’s especially rewarding to discover a line that should be on the shelves everywhere: True Natural Taste Organic White Mustard. The Honey Mustard alone is the best we’ve ever tasted, and proves that you can find sophistication and layers of flavor in a product that is generally pleasant, with a one-dimensional sweetness. The rest of the mustards are so well crafted, you can taste the quality of the ingredients (where can we buy apple cider vinegar that’s this good?).

Here is an artisan at work, preparing small batches of mustard with the very best ingredients available. You’ll know it the minute you taste it, and may start eating the mustard from a spoon (as we’ve enjoyed doing over the past few weeks). There’s also an organic Atomic Horseradish, marrying horseradish root with parsnip to create a very different and earthier, more flavorful style than the prepared horseradish in the refrigerator case (or our grandmother’s own eye-opening recipe of horseradish and beets). The line is certified kosher and (like all mustard) is gluten free.

Mustard is a terrific condiment. Low calorie, no fat or sugar (no cholesterol, no carbs), it has a spate of health benefits that are discussed in the main review. When you find a line this good, it’s worth clearing the shelf of your current inventory and trading up to a truly terrific taste. The Dijon flavor won the “best organic mustard” gold medal at this year’s Napa Valley Mustard Festival; but read about our favorites in the full review on TheNibble.com.

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TOP PICK: Madison & Marcela Toffee

Madison & Marcela, located in a small seaside town in the low country of South Carolina, has hit a grand slam home run with three very different toffees. Chocolate Covered Peanut Toffee is a heavenly product—or perhaps a devilish one, as once you take the first bite, the bag is all but gone. CranAlmond Toffee (for those who want their antioxidants) is a beauty: cranberry-studded toffee on one side, lovely white slivered almonds on the other. For those who like things simple but perfect, Madison Crunch is a double-layered pecan toffee.

All of the ingredients are USDA-certified organic, with the exception of the chocolate on the Chocolate Covered Peanut Toffee (which is the excellent Callebaut brand from Belgium). The sweetener is raw cane sugar mixed with agave nectar. The agave nectar adds flavor dimension while cutting down on the sweetness (and it’s much lower on the glycemic scale than sugar—not that we’re claiming this as health food). Yet with all this organic goodness and handcrafting, the candy is still so inexpensive that you’ll want to order lots for party favors, stocking stuffers, teacher gifts, and just to hand out, because they taste so good, they put you in a munificent mindset.

  CranAlmond Toffee: ruby-like cranberries on one side, ivory almond slices on the other. Photography by Saidi Granados.
While we discovered these toffees months ago, we wanted to put them on hold as a last-minute Father’s Day gift. If you haven’t yet remembered Dad, Grandpa or Uncle Sidney, here’s your chance. Take a closer look at all three flavors in the full review at TheNibble.com.

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Sophisticated Cherry Cocktails: Red For Independence Day


Tart cherry juice is a flavor-rich ingredient for cocktails.
Photo by Liv Friis-Larsen | IST.
  One of the healthiest juices you can drink is tart cherry juice. Sometimes called a superfruit,* tart cherries (also called sour cherries and Morello cherries) have among the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, as compared to other fruits. They also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene (19 times more than blueberries or strawberries), fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and E. A growing body of scientific research links cherries to health benefits, from helping to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Cherries also have been found to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process. You can read more about the fruit at the website of the Cherry Marketing Institute, ChooseCherries.com.

*A superfruit is one that has a high antioxidant level as well as nutritional density. Others include açaí, blueberry, cranberry, grape, guarana, mangosteen, noni and pomegranate.

Most of us are acquainted with the fun side of cherries: cherry pie, ice cream, yogurt and other delights. Now consider the cherry cocktail. These bright red cocktails are also perfect for red-themed holidays like Independence Day, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Find recipes for a Cherry Red Eye Mojito and Red Alert Cherry-Coconut Fusion on TheNibble.com.

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