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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 October, 2009

RECIPES: Mashed Potato Mummies & More For Halloween



What’s for dinner? Take your pick, or cook them all:

  • Barbecued Worm Sandwiches
  • Mummified Mashed Potatoes
  • Spooky Shepherd’s Pie
  • Halloween Chocolate Cake

  • These recipes are too cute for words (take a look at the pictures!). Even if you don’t have kids, you may want to whip up a few. You can have your worm sandwiches with a beer instead of milk.

    Happy Halloween!

     

    barbecued-worm-sandwiches_000

    Worms: They’re what’s for dinner. At least on
    Halloween! Photo courtesy of Pillsbury.


    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A Toast To Halloween



    BloodyMartiniCocktail

    The Bloody Eyeball Martini. Photo courtesy
    of Kris Plazek.

     

    While the kids are out trick-or-treating, you deserve a treat, too. Our Halloween cocktails with gin include the Bloody Scream, Ghost, Satan’s Whiskers, Swamp Demon and Witches’ Brew. But they’re only the top of the menu—we’ve got a whole Halloween Lounge going.

  • Check out the Bloody Eyeball Martini and the Bloody Brain.
  • Halloween Brandy Cocktails include Awake From The Dead and Pumpkin Eater Cocktails.
  • Coffee lovers can sip away at these “black” cocktails with Kahlúa: The Drac-Kahlúa, Kahlúa Black Cat and Kahlúa Cryptini. (They’re very dark brown, but you can add a drop of McCormick black food coloring to make them truly black.)
  • There’s a lovely bloody effect with Vampire Elixir from Grey Goose Vodka. The company also offers a bright orange Pumpkin Martini.
  • What are you waiting for? Start mixing!


    Comments

    RECIPE: Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread



    Back in the 17th century, sugar was costly and shortbread was considered an expensive luxury, a treat reserved for special celebrations, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Imagine how over-the-top-indulgent those party-goers would think us if they had these dipped shortbread fingers!

    We thank the folks at Walkers Shortbread for this festive yet easy recipe. Serve it for dessert with ice cream or with coffee and tea when guests stop by during the holiday season.

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (5.3 ounces) Walkers Shortbread Fingers
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) of chocolate—bittersweet and/or white (or double the recipe and make one batch of each)
  • A selection of toppings: chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts or pistachios or walnuts); chopped candied fruit; crystallized ginger; mini chocolate (or other flavored chips); grated coconut; zest of orange or lemon; or your own favorite toppings)
  •  

    walkers-dipped-230

    Dip shortbread fingers: It’s easy, fun—and impressive! Photo courtesy Walker’s Shortbread.


    Preparation
    1. Microwave chocolate in medium microwavable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
    2. Dip shortbread fingers into the melted chocolate. Immediately roll in chopped nuts, coconut, mini-chocolate chips, slivered almonds, etc.
    3. Or place plain dipped chocolate shortbread onto waxed paper and let cool. Then drizzle with contrasting chocolate. Serves 4.

    There are many more recipes available at www.walkersus.com. Enjoy!


    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Freeze The Cheese


    parmesan-umamiinfocom-230

    A wedge of Parmigiano-Romano and a grater. Photo courtesy of UmamiInfo.com.

     

    Buy good Parmesan or other Italian grating cheese from your cheese store, have it grated very finely at the store and keep it in the freezer. It’s instantly usable for pasta, omelets, soups, salads or anything that could use a flavor lift.

    Don’t buy pre-grated cheese at the supermarket—it isn’t top-quality cheese, yet you pay a lot more for the service. Of course, the best solution is to keep a wedge of cheese in the fridge to grate as needed—but our frozen cheese convenience really works!

    We love mixing grated cheese with leftover rice and a bit of milk and fresh-ground pepper (add cooked mushrooms or or other ingredients if you like) and heating it in the microwave for a mock “risotto.”

  • Read all about Parmigiano-Reggiano, the King of Cheeses.
  • Learn more about Italian grating cheeses: Asiago, Grana Padano, Parmigiano-Regiano and Pecorino Romano.


  • Comments


    TIP OF THE DAY: Observe & Serve

     

    Look for serving pieces that double as objets d’art. Bowls, cups and sauces, plates, pitchers and trays fall into this category. You can showcase them all year as room decor, then put them to use as needed during special dinners. If you like to collect and have more items than room to display them, rotate pieces on a schedule so family and visitors will enjoy different pieces of your collection.

  • Check out our article, Fun With Tabletop Pieces.


  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Sara Snacker’s Chip n’ Etzels



    Say you like to snack on cookies. And chips. And pretzels. And chocolate. But you can’t just sit down with bags of all three. What’s a girl to do?

    If you’re Sara Snacker (legally, Sara Leand), your entrepreneurial journey began in college, where you built and ran a snack company out of your college dorm room, selling cookies and treats across the campus as well as to local merchants. She had to put the business on hold when it started taking too much time away from her studies (and her roommate kept eating all the supplies—oink, but who can blame her).

    After more than a dozen years in the entertainment industry as a television agent and producer (she executive-produced shows for E!, Lifetime and TLC), Ms. Snacker, now a wife and mother, is back in the sweet snacks business. Her first product (more to come in a few weeks) is the thing to grab if you can’t choose among shortbread, potato chips and pretzels and chocolate.

    A buttery, crumbly cookie is packed with pieces of crunchy chips and pretzels, then dipped in your choice of white or dark chocolate. That’s the Chip n’ Etzel. (Or is that the Cookie Chip n’ Choc n’ Etzel? We’re not sure, but Chip n’ Etzel, though it sounds different, hits only two of the four snack foods.) It’s a bit sweet, a bit crunchy, and a teeny bit salty.

     

    chipnetzel-ps-230

    The Chip n’ Etzel combines four favorite
    snacks in one. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.


    Whatever it is, it’s a soft and lovely treat that’s perfect with coffee, tea, cocoa or a glass of milk. Or nothing at all.

  • Snack on over to SaraSnacker.com: Gift boxes and keepsake tins are available for the holidays. Just don’t go bonkers over the other goodies until we write about them next month.
  • See more of our favorite cookies and cookie recipes in THE NIBBLE’s Cookies Section, including the history of cookies! (OMG, what if they had never been invented????)

  • Comments

    RECIPE: Oysters On The Half Shell



    oysters-charleston-grill-230

    Oysters on the half shell: so delicious,
    so low-calorie. Photo courtesy of Carrie
    Bailey-Morey.

     

    Heavy cocktail sauces with horseradish are too much for oysters at their prime. We eat great oysters straight from the shell, without even a dab of citrus juice. But for those who like a bit of garnish, here’s a lovely recipe, courtesy of Charleston, South Carolina’s Charleston Grill and Carrie Bailey-Morey, co-owner of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, who recently enjoyed them there.

    Combine to taste:

  • Seeded, finely chopped cucumbers
  • Meyer lemon juice
  • Meyer lemon zest
  • Finely chopped mint

  • Garnish plate with watercress and edible flowers.

  • For more of Carrie’s favorite things to eat in Charleston, read her blog.
  • Read our review of Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week and simply divine. (Mario Batali orders them).

  • Live in Houston? There’s a free tasting of Callie’s today and tomorrow at Rice Epicurean Markets: San Felipe and Post Oak store Wednesday, October 28th from 2:00-6:00pm and the Westheimer and Wesleyan store Thursday, October 29th from 10:00-3:00 pm. from 10:00-2:00pm.

    Live in Chicago? The tastings are on November 5th and 6th at Fox & Obel (we love that store!).


    Comments

    RECIPE: Pumpkin Cupcakes With Pumpkin Cheesecake Frosting



    Fall is the time to bake up a pumpkin storm, so let’s add to the list with a delicious pumpkin cupcake with pumpkin cheesecake (cream cheese) frosting.

    Created by cupcake blogger Stefani Pollack, the cupcakes are made with healthier graham flour and bits of graham crackers, yielding a far more rich-tasting, graham-y cake with a muffin-like texture—no delicate little cup of fluff.

  • Check out the recipe.
  • Read about the invention of graham flour and graham crackers.
  • Find more of Stefani’s recipes at Cupcake Project: An Experimental Cupcake Blog.
  • For another yummy combination of pumpkin and cheesecake, check out our Pumpkin Mocha Cheesecake Recipe, an elegant special-occasion dessert.
  • Make some pumpkin mousse.
  •  

    pumpkin-cupcake-stefani-pollack

    Holiday flavors: graham flour (used to make
    graham crackers) and pumpkin cheesecake
    frosting. Photo courtesy Stefani Pollack |
    Cupcake Project.


    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sheboygan Bratwurst



    meat

    A plump, grilled bratwurst, ready for a “brat
    bun.” Photo © Darius Zsankowski | Fotolia.

     

    “Mention my name in Sheboygan / It’s the greatest little town in the world…” sang the Everly Brothers. One thing that makes Sheboygan, Wisconsin so great: the world-famous bratwurst. Just as famed for its brats as its cheese, Wisconsin is a state that knows good food and celebrates it with vigor.

    Mention the name “bratwurst” in Sheboygan and you’re sure to elicit a positive reaction from fans of this German sausage, who have strict rules for its consumption. But take Shakespeare’s advice and eat your brat “as you like it” (for example, the locals disparage sauerkraut on their brats, while we think it’s a perfect combination).

    The eponymous Sheboygan Bratwurst Company makes delicious brats in the original pork sausage recipe plus several flavors, as well as chicken and beef brats. We enjoyed the sweet Apple Bratwurst, spot-on Cajun Bratwurst, cheese-laden Jalapeño Cheddar Bratwurst and basil-redolent Tomato Basil Chicken Bratwurst. There are 12 total flavors to try, including a Bacon Cheeseburger Brat that’s next on our list. Call friends and schedule a Brats & Beerfest!

  • Read our full review of bodacious Sheboygan Bratwurst.
  • Find more of our favorite sausages, plus recipes with sausage, in THE NIBBLE’s Sausage Section.

  • How about some wickedly good Wisconsin cheese?

  • Discover the wonder of cheese curds.
  • Check out these great gourmet cheeses.

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The Secret of Great Bakers

     

    The difference between a good cookie or cake and a great one generally isn’t a “secret ingredient.” The secret is using the best basic ingredients: top-grade chocolate or cocoa, fresh organic eggs, artisan flour, real Madagascar (Bourbon) vanilla and fresh-ground spices—not pre-ground ones that have been sitting on the shelf for months (or years!) Try the best ingredients with your favorite recipe and see if they make a big impact. As tough as it is to “waste food,” don’t use old ingredients—toss old spices, cocoa and baking chocolate and don’t try to use up old butter in cake or cookies. Even if the carton says that the eggs are in still in the window of usability, the fresher they are, the better they bake up. When you factor in your labor and the cost of all ingredients, using the best and the freshest is worth it.

  • Visit our Cakes Section for recipes and our favorite gourmet cake products and mixes.
  • See our favorite vanilla beans and vanilla extracts—we tested several to find the best.

  • Comments

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