THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for January, 2009

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.



– 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)


– 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


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.


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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.


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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

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

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


– 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.

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: (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

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:
Wild Planet Inc.:
Henry & Lisa’s American Tuna Company:
Island Trollers:
Arrowac Fisheries Inc.:
Mary Lu Seafoods:
Kimmel’s New Day Fisheries:
Papa George Tuna:
Shamrock Albacore:
Two Fishers Gourmet Albacore:
Wild Pacific Seafood:

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