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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 August, 2009

TIP OF THE DAY: Drink Your Dessert



Some of the most refreshing desserts are the simplest. Put fresh fruit salad in a wine goblet and cover it with a fizzy Moscato d’Asti, a sweet sparkling wine from Italy (our favorite is La Spinetta from Rivetti, with an amazingly low alcohol level of around 6%, similar to beer). The sparkling wine elevates the fruit salad to elegance, and is the perfect ending to a light or heavy dinner. After guests finish the fruit, they can drink the remaining wine from the goblet: It’s a dessert and a dessert wine in one (though have an extra bottle on hand for guests who want more of this intensely fruity, exuberant wine). If you don’t drink alcohol, you can use Fizzy Lizzy Fuji Apple sparkling juice.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Kabobs



Cheese kabobs are a festive way to serve different cheeses at parties, and are a fun family snack (and save the calories and carbs of bread and crackers). Buy blocks of different-color cheeses that can be cut into 1-inch cubes. Put 3 different cubes on a skewer or jumbo toothpick, alternating with a fruit (melon ball, grape or berry) or veggie (grape tomato, broccoli floret or zucchini cube). Create a variety of different skewers and arrange them in an inverted half watermelon or winter squash on a tray, or in a large round loaf of crusty bread. You can also arrange the skewers in a shallow vase or an ikebana (Japanese floral arrangement) dish.

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PRODUCT: Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters



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Granola and nuts = crunchy sweetness.
Photo by Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE.

 

Nature Valley has ported granola into a very crunchy line of Granola Nut Clusters: bite size, 100% snacks that are an alternative to candy and other sweet treats. While they are made of nutritious nuts and honey, whole grain oats, canola oil and other better-for-you ingredients, there’s also a lot of sugar—catering to the American palate that’s been trained to want more sweetness than other flavors. The sweet, crunchy nuggets certainly more than please.

The strongest nut flavor (and least sugariness) came from Nut Lovers, a combination of cashews, peanuts and pecans. Roasted Almond and Roasted Peanut tied for second, with Roasted Cashew trailing in third, the mild cashew flavor overwhelmed by the sugar.

Granola Nut Clusters can also be used to garnish a dish of ice cream.

  • See more sweet and savory snack ideas.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Fruit Ice Cream

     

    No ice cream machine is needed here, just very ripe fruit and a quart of vanilla ice cream (No Sugar Added ice cream works fine, too). Lightly purée (don’t liquefy) 3 cups of peaches, berries, stone fruit or bananas. Scoop the ice cream into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat it with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes, until soft. Add the fruit purée and blend for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture back into the original ice cream container (plus another container for the excess), and return the ice cream to the freezer for 2 hours or more. It will taste just like long-churn, homemade ice cream!

  • Check out more ice cream recipes.
  • Think you know what distinguishes regular ice cream from French-style ice cream? Test your knowledge with our Ice Cream Trivia Quiz.
  • Frozen treats go back to the ancient Chinese. Trace the history of ice cream from 2000 B.C.E to today.

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    RECIPES: Celebrate National Panini Month



    Cheese producer Sargento has declared August National Panini Month. It’s National Sandwich Month, so why shouldn’t panini, Italian sandwiches, share the glory?

    To celebrate, we’re bringing you eight delicious recipes, courtesy of Sargento and Chef Jason Denton. If you don’t have a panini maker, you can use an electric countertop grill or a gas grill. There’s everything from tuna to mozzarella, tomato and pesto (a Caprese salad on a sandwich!) to ham and Swiss with fig jam. Dig in!

  • Check out the 8 panini recipes.
  • Find more sandwich recipes in our Artisan Breads Section.
  • These gourmet grilled cheese recipes are a hit.
  • These award-winning peanut butter sandwich recipes are exercises in kitchen art.
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    With sharp provolone, pesto and arugula, this
    panini is not your everyday turkey sandwich. Photo courtesy of Sargento.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Elegant Summer Lemonade



    It’s National Lemonade Day, so whip up a pitcher. The ratio is 1 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 cup of water and 2/3 cup of sugar for a tart lemonade—you can add more sugar to taste. However, we prefer not to sweeten the lemonade at all since quite a few people prefer calorie-free sweeteners or even honey. We provide a bowl of superfine sugar (it dissolves more easily than regular table sugar) plus Equal or Splenda, some fine artisan honey and a bottle of agave. If you’re using a glass pitcher, slice a small orange, a large lime and a lemon as décor. Add a sprig of mint to each glass, plus a notched strawberry to the rim. We also make ice cubes from lemonade so it doesn’t dilute the drink, and keep them in a color-coded iSi Orka ice cube tray.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail

     

    It’s Lemon Meringue Pie Day. You can celebrate with pie, or try a delicious Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail, also known as a Lemon Meringue Martini. Our recipe comes from the Dylan Prime steakhouse in New York City. With a graham cracker rim on the glass and a top layer of cream, it looks just like a lemon meringue pie in a glass (and tastes like lemon meringue with a kick).

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    PRODUCT: Dr. Kracker Culinary Crisps



    The doctor is in… with some new flavors! We’ve been curing what ailed our snacking taste buds since 2005, when we first discovered Dr. Kracker’s organic crackers and flatbreads. The company has recently launched Culinary Crisps: crunchy squares of Apple Crisps, Cherry Semolina Crisps, Fire Roasted Crisps and Hummus Maximus Crisps. Diagnosis? Delicious!

    Dr. Kracker starts with organic whole wheat or spelt; then adds organic flax, sunflower, sesame and/or pumpkin seeds. But because it was asked for more “foodie” flavors, the company added additional ingredients to create the new Culinary Crisps line. Each serving of bite-size crisps delivers the delectable flavors of toasted seeds, plus 21g or more whole grains per serving (of your daily 48g requirement).

  • The Hummus Maximus Crisps are inspired by a classic hummus recipe. They have a light chickpea flavor and just enough coriander to give our taste buds a swift, yet delicious, kick.
  • The Fire Roasted Crisps aren’t as spicy as their name may sound because they’re infused with just a hint of chile and black sesame seeds. The prevailing flavor is tomato with a light kick of spice.
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    Snack idea: Hummus Maximus Crisps with red pepper hummus. Photo by Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE.

  • For a sweet tooth, Apple Crisps are made with dried apples, brown sugar and a touch of vanilla. They were a favorite among some tasters.
  • But although we like all of the flavors, the winner is Dr. Kracker’s Cherry Semolina Crisps, with dried sour cherries that give a sweet-tart bite to balance out the golden semolina and touch of fennel.


  • Though the crackers add a zing to any soups, dips, or cheeses they’re paired with, they’re just as satisfying when eaten by themselves. Keep a box at work for a healthy snack. But even with all the good prognoses, there’s still a major downside to these cartons of square treasures: Something like this would never last in our desk for very long!

    Read our full review of Dr. Kracker, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Horseradish Mayonnaise



    A classic with roast beef, this mayo pairs well with seafood, burgers, turkey, cheese and veggies and is a zippy general sandwich spread and dip. Plus, it’s so easy to make—including a diet version with lowfat mayo. Stir together 1 cup of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish (more if you like) and 1/4 cup minced chives or scallions. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or some grated lemon zest, and you have a winner.

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Paumanok Preserves



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    These four are must-trys. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Joan Bernstein’s family has been farming on Long Island—the native word is Paumanok—for more than 100 years. Working with the fruits of the land is in her DNA. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, goes the adage. If they were Meyer lemons—or blood oranges, or bing cherries—Joan would make marmalade. Her jams, jellies and preserves take at least two days of preparation, including cooking over low heat, stirring nearly continuously (with time off to sleep) as the fruit cooks down to lush, dense preserved fruit. (What’s the difference between marmalade and preserves? We’re glad you asked.)

    There are jams of every description: blackcurrant, blackberry, black raspberry, boysenberry, gooseberry, Damson plum, fig, pluot, red currant, sour cherry, strawberry rhubarb, white peach…and if that doesn’t keep you busy, there are many more.

    But it is the savories that are so spectacular, you’ll want to lay them in by the case. Gracious Garlic Gelée, Haughty Horseradish Gelée, Incredible Onion Conserve; the chutneys, the salsas…and as a nod to the sweet side, the Pindar Merlot Wine Jelly, a grape jelly from Bacchus, is worthy of all the gods on Mount Olympus.

    Fortunately, these memories don’t need to be preserved. You can order as much as you want online, with the caveat that when seasonal fruits sell out, they’re gone until next year.

  • Read more about these treasures in the full review.
  • See more of our favorite jams, jellies and preserves.
  • What’s the difference between a jam, jelly, conserve, preserve and marmalade? Find out in our Jam & Jelly Glossary.

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