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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 January, 2009

PRODUCT: Pasteurized Shell Eggs

Safe Eggs There’s a new egg in town, and he’s wiping out salmonella. Now, you can crack an egg into your steak tartare, Caesar salad or egg nog without fear, and eat all the cookie dough you want.

The newest type of egg is the pasteurized shell egg. A regular hen’s egg is pasteurized in the shell without cooking the egg, eliminating the potential danger of egg-borne illness caused by salmonella bacteria. Dishes that use raw eggs can be enjoyed without risk; those who enjoy licking the spatula full of brownie batter can do so; and people with illnesses who avoid foods with possible contaminants can enjoy eggs to their hearts’ delight. Many hospitals and nursing homes are already using the products, which are just making their way to retailers. If you want them, make your voice heard at your local supermarket. The “P” stamped on the egg signifies that it is pasteurized. Learn more at SafeEggs.com.

Read about the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary. You won’t believe how many different types there are!

BC POM Large Full Banner

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GOURMET NEWS: Tampa Beats Seattle As Most Caffeinated City

The second annual HealthSaver Caffeinated Cities Survey is out, and the winner is Tampa, followed by Seattle, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The least caffeinated cities are Riverside/San Bernardino, followed closely by Atlanta, San Diego, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Dallas. The survey considered numerous caffeine sources, including coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, pain relievers and caffeine pills.

Nearly one-half (49%) of all respondents nationwide said they drink caffeinated coffee every day, while cola and tea tied with a 20% daily consumption rate. Sweets containing chocolate ranked fourth among caffeine products, with a 13% daily consumption.

Once considered bad for your health and likely to stunt the growth of children, the health benefits of caffeine in moderation have been well-documented in recent years. Coffee and tea, in particular, have emerged as good health food sources that can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver, as well as lift your mood, treat headaches and even lower risk of cavities. Caffeine also enhances athleticism, endurance and performance, according to health care experts.


Read the full results of the survey. http://www.affiniongroupmedia.com/themes/site_themes/affinionassets/releases/health_saver/08caffeine/

– Learn about the different types of coffee in our Coffee Glossary.

– How many different types of espresso drinks can you name in our Espresso Glossary?

– Take our Coffee Quiz.

– Take our Espresso Quiz.

Shop Gevalia Today!

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PRODUCT: Russ & Frank’s BBQ Sauce

Russ And Frank's BBQ Sauce

Russ & Frank’s BBQ Sauce.

Anyone in America with an internet connection can have a blog. And anyone in America who can find a co-packer can have a barbecue sauce…or a salad dressing…or a jam. A co-packer is a manufacturer that will make your recipe to your specifications and put your label on it. It’s up to you to find the customers. To everyone with that favorite recipe who has heard the words, “Hey, this stuff is great, you ought to sell it…” there are those with the fortitude to find the co-packer, get their label on the jar and set up shop, full time or as a side job. Many think they’ll become the next Famous Amos, with little brown bags of chocolate chip cookies bringing in millions. Or the next Stonewall Kitchen. Maybe their grandmother’s jams will even net them a contract on the Food Network.

But the truth is, more people will lose money—and lots of time—on these ventures than will have positive outcomes. At least they can say they tried. And for some, having been in the game is enough. Before you’re tempted to try it, go not to your local supermarket but to the Fancy Food Show in New York or San Francisco. Walk up and down the aisles and then ask yourself, does the marketplace need another product like mine? Why will retailers be interested in buying my product instead of the dozens of lines that are here…and the hundreds of others that aren’t here?

Russ and Frank are neighbors in Des Moines, Iowa with day jobs. Friends and neighbors told them that they should sell their barbecue sauce, made from all-natural ingredients. Most certainly, it is better than what is on the local supermarket shelves. So they refined their sauce and found their co-packer. They’re one of the lucky ones (or, as Samuel Goldwyn said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get”): They’ve racked up more than a dozen awards since their line of three sauces debuted in 2003, among them, 2nd Place in the 2008 Great American BBQ Contest in Kansas City. Even a 5th Place ribbon is no small feat, given the number of sauces the judges in any competition taste. One co-packer estimates that there are probably more than 170 co-packers that make barbecue sauce alone, each of them for many clients.

We like that Russ & Frank’s uses real tomatoes as a base—not ketchup or tomato paste like so many brands do. We like that they use molasses, not just sugar, brown sugar or corn syrup, to sweeten. (They use white sugar too, the third ingredient after water and tomatoes; Russ says they tried honey, but couldn’t get a consistent taste in each batch. So they defaulted to sugar to assure customers a consistent flavor.) But would we give them an award, based on all the barbecue sauces we taste each year? No. Too sweet. While we love honey-caramelized spare ribs, we don’t like to taste white sugar on our meat. Although there are complex flavors in the blend, with each bite we also got white sugar. We know that’s what America has gotten used to (along with the HFCS that cheaper brands use), and it makes us sad.

Otherwise, we liked the “Sassy” and “Fiery” flavors, as well as the packaging. Mild, which has one its share of awards, was simply too mild for us city gals. You can buy some for yourself at RussAndFranks.com.

And for the two guys who have come a long, long way from their backyward grills in Des Moines: Bravo!

tabasco.com (McIlhenny Company)

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PRODUCT: Heart Shaped Goat Cheese For Valentine’s Day & Special Occasions

Getting ready for Valentine’s Day? Throwing a bridal shower? Planning to propose? Don’t hide the ring in a cream puff where your intended can break a tooth. Instead, insert it, standing up, into a Bourbon-chocolate heart-shaped goat cheese (chèvre).

Capriole Goat Cheese enables you to say “I love you” year-round with this loving assortment of three six-ounce goat cheese hearts:

– A 6-ounce fresh chèvre heart with pink
peppercorns
– A 6-ounce ripened chèvre heart
– A 6-ounce Bourbon-chocolate chèvre heart


The three cheeses are boxed in a wooden crate tied with a red ribbon, for $60; the hearts are $8.99-$12.99 individually. BYO Champagne and crackers. The assortment is available for immediate delivery during February. A two-week pre-order is required the rest of the year. At CaprioleGoatCheese.com or telephone 1.812.923.9408.

Shop igourmet.com

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Michael Season Reduced Fat Cheese Puffs


Michael Season’s Cheddar Cheese Puffs (front)
and Chili Cheese Puffs (rear) offer real cheese
flavor with reduced fat.
Love chips, but want to cut back on the fat and the calories? Michael Season delivers a line of baked cheese snacks that have fewer calories, less fat, and taste even better than his regular line. They’re also wheat-free, gluten-free, certified kosher and all-natural—no preservatives, no hydrogenated oils, no MSG, and made with organic grains.

Michael Season heard the call to organic foods more than 20 years ago. He tried his hand at organic farming long before it was hot, because he wanted his family to be able to eat foods free of chemicals and additives. He developed one of the largest natural foods distributorships in the U.S., and then began to produce “better for you” snack foods—reduced fat and lowfat potato chips. They promise:

– All-natural ingredients
– No preservatives
– No artificial colorings or flavorings
– No GMOs (genetically modified ingredients)
– No MSG
– No hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
– Kosher certification


We had the opportunity to taste the Season’s line of cheese puffs and cheese curls—the regular, “Ultimate,” line and the reduced fat, “Baked” line, which have half the fat (or more) of traditional puffs and curls—and are wheat-free and gluten-free to boot.

Whether digging into the Ultimate or Baked Line, these snacks are delicious. Where one bite of a major supermarket brand of cheese puff or curl tastes like artificial food, here, these all-natural snacks taste just like that: all natural. Light and crunchy, they’re made with real cheese, not an imitation cheese-flavored powder. That being said, you still end up with orange-powdered fingers. It must be part of the ritual.

Snack along with us as we review these noteworthy, cheesy, crunchy snacks. Read the full review on TheNibble.com.

The Popcorn Factory

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RECIPE: Rio Star Fiesta Salad

Winter is citrus season. Grapefruit and oranges make delicious and healthy salads, and red grapefruit adds to the drama of the presentation. There’s a reduced-calorie dressing and a healthy garnish of pomegranate seeds, pumpkinseed kernels and cilantro.

The Rio Star grapefruit is a very red, sweet variety that is 10 times redder than the original Ruby Red. It has an overall blush on the exterior peel as well as a deep red interior color. This specialty grapefruit is grown exclusively in the southernmost tip of Texas—the Rio Grande Valley. Texas citrus is tree-ripened and handpicked throughout the season.

Makes about 6 one-cup servings.

Ingredients

Salad


- 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce, rinsed, drained and patted dry
– 4 oranges (sectioned, reserving juice)
– 1 Rio Star Grapefruit (sectioned, reserving juice)
– 3 cups peeled and cubed jicama (about 1 pound)
– 3/4 cup slivered red radishes (1 bunch, about 10 to 12 radishes)

Dressing

– 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel
– 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 large lime)
– 3 tablespoons plain fat-free yogurt
– 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
– 1-1/2 tablespoons honey
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
– Dash of salt

Optional Garnishes

– 1 cup pomegranate seeds
– 3 tablespoons toasted pumpkinseed kernels
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

For Salad

1. Place lettuce in a large serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
2. To section oranges and grapefruit, put each piece of fruit on a cutting surface. Using a sharp thin-bladed knife, cut off both ends of the fruit. Place on flat end and cut away peel from top to bottom along curvature of the fruit.
3. Remove all white pulp. Hold peeled fruit over a second large bowl. Section oranges and grapefruit by cutting down along fruit sections to the center. Turn knife to loosen section and lift out.
4. Remove other sections the same way. As the juice is released from the sectioning process, allow it to drip into the bowl.
5. Add jicama and radishes to citrus sections and juice; toss gently. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

For Dressing & Assembly

1. In a small bowl, combine lime peel, lime juice, yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, pepper and salt. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
2. Remove salad mixture and romaine lettuce from refrigerator. Using a slotted spoon, drain liquid from salad mixture and distribute salad over romaine lettuce. Drizzle dressing evenly.

For Garnish

1. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, pumpkinseed kernels and cilantro.
2. Note: Dried cranberries or dried cherries may be substituted for pomegranate seeds. Pumpkinseed kernels may be purchased already toasted. Toasted pine nuts or toasted sliced almonds may be substituted for pumpkinseed kernels. To toast nuts, place in a roasting pan in a single layer in a 350° F oven. Toss several times until light golden brown, being careful not to overcook.

– Read illustrated instructions on how to section a grapefruit.

– Find more fruit and salad recipes in The Nibble’s Fruit and Vegetables sections.

Shop igourmet.com

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TRENDS: Cutting Edge Flavors For 2009


Grains of Paradise: Largely confined to West
Africa, these tiny seeds are related to
cardamom, and resemble the seeds inside
cardamom pods.
Want to know what the cutting edge flavors will be at top restaurants this year?

According to trade weekly Nation’s Restaurant News, they’ll be these rarities:

– Grains of paradise from Africa
– Korean black garlic
– Torch ginger from Singapore
– True red pepper from India
– Unpasteurized barley miso—from Massachusetts

Read more about them, and who’s using them with what kind of dishes.

Two of the obscure ingredients, grains of paradise and true red pepper, are in THE NIBBLE’s Varietal Peppercorn Glossary.

For more flavor fun, see McCormick’s 10 flavor pairings for 2009, with 12 tempting recipes.

Shop igourmet.com

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PRODUCT: Claire’s Squares

Bi-Rite’s specialty food store has a lovely chocolate section with many of our favorites, including Recchiuti, Michael Mischer, Vosges, Coco-luxe, Lillie Belle, and some specialty items we had never heard of but bought up to try. The most tempting looking, which we attempted to have for breakfast Saturday morning, are chocolatae shortbread and caramel squares, melodiously called Clairesquares. Alas for us, Claire, though a dedicated artisan who makes her products by hand, has a tooth far sweeter than ours. Both milk and dark chocolate squares were far too sweet for us to eat. If only we had looked at the ingredients label before we bought them, it would have been a clue; the milk chocolate has a cocoa content of 31.7% and the dark chocolate has 51.8%, both indicative of more sugar than cacao for our taste. To us, a minimum 60% for dark hits the spot.
Buttery shortbread topped with rich
caramel and coated with Belgian
chocolate.

Although, we still love the concept: a half-inch-thick slab of buttery shortbread, covered with a quarter inch of chocolate caramel, topped with a thin slab of milk or dark chocolate bar. The overall size is three inches; all measurements are approximate, as we are writing in a hotel room without a ruler. Available at Clairesquares.com.

Breakfastless, we ventured forth to the famed farmer’s market at the Ferry Building in search of other nutrition.

Valentine's Day Cookies

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PRODUCTS: Bi-Rite, San Francisco

We’re in San Francisco for the Winter Fancy Food Show. A former NIBBLE editor with ties to S.F. tipped us off to Bi-Rite Creamery, the ice cream offshoot of Bi-Rite, a specialty grocery store in The Mission, on 18th Street off Guerrero. While it was quite a hike from our H.Q. at at the W Hotel downtown (we mean, quite a long cab ride–much faster back on the BART), we trust Melody’s jugment–and boy, was she right!

We only regret that we had taken her other piece of advice and first eaten the pizza at Delfina’s down the block. Good as it was, it was another good pizzeria, whereas Bi-Rite Creamery ranks among the best ice cream we’ve ever had. And after the pizza, we could only manage three small scoops. They were absolute perfection: Salted Caramel, Malted Milk With Peanut Brittle and Honey Lavender. We’ve got to figure out how to get back for more, amid the incessant eating that is the Fancy Food Show. Bi-Rite Creamery is now a permanent stop on our visits to S.F.; we’re happy to make a lunch or dinner out of it. Note, though, that there are just three bar stools inside and some nice benches around the trees outside. You can also buy it by the pint at the Bi-Rite grocery down the block.

New VitaTop flavor

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Recipe: Barack Obama’s Tuna Salad

What to eat while you’re watching the inauguration? Presidential tuna salad!

When President-elect Barack Obama made tuna salad with his family on “60 Minutes” earlier this year, he used this recipe, specifying troll-caught albacore (more about that below):

Presidential Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Ingredients

– Two 6-ounce cans of U.S. troll-caught albacore
– 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 1 tablespoon of sweet pickle relish
– Salt and pepper to taste
– 8 slices of bread
– Lettuce and tomato slices to serve
– Use local, organic ingredients where possible


Our favorite canned tuna, from G’day Gourmet, a
NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
Preparation

1. Mix all but the last two ingredients together to make tuna salad.
2. Assemble sandwiches with lettuce and tomato. Makes 4 sandwiches.
3. More serving ideas: Albacore tuna goes particularly well with lemon, red peppers, tomatoes, beans, capers, olives, anchovies, onion, eggs, avocado and cheese.

A Lesson In Sustainability

U.S. Troll-Caught: Using U.S.-caught tuna supports fishing communities in the Washington, Oregon and California area. Eighty percent of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported, some from countries that have lower environmental and sustainability standards. U.S. fisheries are some of the most regulated in the world; fishers must adhere to strict environmental regulations and quotas that ensure the ongoing health of the marine environment.

Fewer food miles: Caught in the Pacific Northwest and canned at local canneries in Oregon, Washington and California, the distance U.S. albacore travels from ocean to plate is significantly lower.

Sustainably And Ethically Caught: Trolling is a low-impact method where small, barbless hooks are used to catch albacore one at a time. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program gives US troll-caught albacore a “green” rating, the highest obtainable. Trolling is one of the most environmentally-sound fishing methods; for a full explanation visit Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org. (Read our article on Sustainable Seafood.)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Get up to six-times the heart–healthy omega-3s from your tuna sandwich. Cooked just once in the can, custom-canned U.S. albacore retains all its good fats (omega-3s). Health experts recommend eating omega-3 rich fish, including albacore, at least twice a week. According to the American Heart Association, research on omega-3s suggests they may reduce the risk of diabetes, reduce insulin resistance in people with diabetes, enhance bone density, inhibit proliferation of cancer cells in the breast, prostate and colon, and improve skin condition by curbing psoriasis. Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease seem to improve with more omega-3s. In infants, it improves cognition and visual acuity.

Less Trace Metals: With tuna, the larger the fish, the higher the amounts of accumulated metals, including mercury. Trolling catches younger and smaller albacore weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. These juvenile albacore have significantly lower levels of mercury. The Oregon State University conducted a study in 2004 to determine mercury levels of North Pacific troll-caught albacore. These tuna were found to have low total mercury concentrations (average 0.14 ppm), very low compared to the 1.0 ppm methylmercury action level set by the FDA and comparable to “light tuna” or Skipjack. Read the full report at http://wfoa-tuna.org/health/mercurystatement0206.pdf.

Custom-canned albacore is available across the U.S., labeled as “U.S. troll-caught”, “Product of the U.S.” or “U.S.-caught”. Some quality brands are:

High Seas Gourmet Albacore Tuna: highseastuna.com
Wild Planet Inc.: 1wildplanet.com
Henry & Lisa’s American Tuna Company: pacificfleettuna.com
Island Trollers: islandtrollers.com
Arrowac Fisheries Inc.: arrowac-merco.com
Mary Lu Seafoods: maryluseafoods.com
Kimmel’s New Day Fisheries: newdayfisheries.com
Papa George Tuna: papageorgetuna.com
Shamrock Albacore: albatuna.com/Shamrock.htm
Two Fishers Gourmet Albacore: twofishersgourmetseafood.com
Wild Pacific Seafood: wildpacificseafood.com

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