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

CONTEST: $25,000 For A Sandwich Recipe


Here’s the 2008 winner. Will your sandwich
recipe bring home the bacon in 2009?

Do you make a sandwich so delish, it’s worth $25,000 and a Napa Valley vacation? Then click on over to for the contest rules. There are categories for cold, hot, hero and vegetarian sandwiches. Just get your entry in by September 7th, 2009! You can also see the recipes of last year’s finalists.

Mezzetta, the contest sponsor, makes the capers, crushed garlic, marinated red peppers, pickled vegetables, olive oil, olives, sundried tomatoes and other specialties that bring sandwiches alive. Here’s the 2008 winner, submitted by Edwina Gadsby of Great Falls, Montana:

Spanish-Style Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Smoky Paprika Roasted Pepper & Tomato Topping

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4


– 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices peasant bread or other artisan bread
– 3 cups shredded Manchego cheese
– 3 ounces thinly sliced Serrano ham or prosciutto

Smoky Paprika Roasted Pepper & Tomato Topping
– 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
– 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
– 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
– 1 tablespoons crushed garlic
– 1 cup roasted red pepper strips
– 1 cup sundried tomatoes in olive oil
– 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro


For Topping: Whisk together in bowl vinegar, paprika, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and crushed garlic. Add roasted red pepper strips, sundried tomatoes and parsley (or cilantro); toss to coat.

For Sandwiches: Sprinkle 4 slices of bread with half the cheese. Top with Smoky Paprika Roasted Pepper & Tomato Topping and ham. Apply the remaining cheese as another layer. Top with a second piece of bread and press together.

Brush sandwiches with remaining olive oil and heat in a panini press or skillet until lightly browned on both sides and cheese has melted. Serve hot.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Yogurt Marinade

Yogurt is not just a healthy food, a tasty food, a diet food and a multitasking dip and partner for fruit and granola. It’s also a great marinade for meat. In addition to imparting flavor, it has excellent tenderizing properties. Add garlic, herbs, macerated onion and any other favorite seasonings to your yogurt marinade. Your “secret blend” may become as sought-after as your special barbecue sauce!

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VIEWPOINT: The “Mayonnaise Myth”


Photo by Jasper Golangco | SXC.

For years, mayonnaise-based foods like potato salad and macaroni salad have taken the rap for food poisoning at summer picnics. As the story went, unrefrigerated mayo-based dishes spoiled more easily in the heat than others…or the combination of mayo with other proteins plus heat caused Salmonella. Mayonnaise should never be used in picnic foods, mother cautioned; mayo-based foods left on the kitchen counter should be tossed.

But these common misconceptions simply are not true. According to The Association for Dressings & Sauces, an international association of salad dressing, mayonnaise, mustard and other condiment manufacturers and their suppliers, commercial mayonnaise is one of the safest products you can eat.

Carefully prepared under strict quality controls, mayonnaise is made with pasteurized eggs that are free of Salmonella and other dangerous bacteria. Additional ingredients such as vinegar and lemon juice create a high-acid environment that slows, and even stops, bacterial growth. The salt in the recipe also contributes to an unfavorable environment for bacteria. In fact, hazardous bacteria die off if placed in a commercially prepared mayo!

Once, there was truth in the story. Many years ago, when mayonnaise was prepared from scratch, home cooks used unpasteurized eggs, which we now know can sometimes be contaminated by Salmonella bacteria. Also, homemade mayonnaise, unlike commercial products, may not contain
enough salt and vinegar to counteract the growth of harmful bacteria.

While mayonnaise does contribute 100 calories a tablespoon and cholesterol from egg yolks (that’s the bad news), it is made with healthy oils such as soybean and canola. Both are natural sources of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid—no trans fat. Both are also a major source of vitamin E. Read the label of your favorite mayonnaise to see what healthy oils it contains (some have olive oil, for example).

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PRODUCT: Granola Girl Organic Granola

You can mix just about anything into a base of rolled oats and call it granola. Dried fruit and nuts are most popular. Sweeteners are the “wet ingredients”: agave, applesauce, brown rice syrup, honey or maple syrup. Spices run the gamut from “everyday” flavors like cinnamon and vanilla to cardamom and nutmeg. Some people get healthy with wheat germ and flaxseed. You can make Asian granola (sesame seeds, crystallized ginger), Florida granola (orange zest), Trail Mix granola (raisins, cashews, chocolate chips, sunflower seeds) or anything that inspires you.

Granola Girl keeps it simple: Currently there are just two flavors—Maple Pecan and Cranberry Almond—both with near-universal appeal (both have nuts). The flavor profiles are delicate—nothing overwhelming, yet everything in perfect balance. They are sweetened very lightly, as well. The granolas are baked with canola oil and are so moist that no milk or yogurt is needed. These are not “crunchy,” baked-until-crisp granolas, yet the texture of the oats is chewy and lovely. That’s why we find them so different and so much more appealing than many of the less distinctive granolas we try. While not certified organic, they’re made with organic oats and oat bran.


No need to add milk to this moist, yummy granola.

  • Read the full review and learn how granola went from a doctor-prescribed health food to a mainstream cereal and snack.
  • See more of our favorite cereals.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Better Ice Cubes

Some purists make ice cubes from the actual bottled water they consume, so as not to compromise their mineral water, Scotch or other fine beverage. Others make “better” ice cubes from gallon-size spring water. If you use generic tap water, you can improve the flavor just by letting the tray sit on the counter for five minutes prior to freezing. This way, the scent of the chlorine gas used by municipalities to purify the water supply can evaporate. Better yet, put a filter on your tap!

  • See our favorite ice cube trays—we won’t use any others.
  • What’s the scoop on bottled water versus your muncipal water from the tap? Check it out.

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