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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

TIP OF THE DAY: The Dish On Plates & Glasses


 

Food looks more exciting when it’s well packaged. That means the right garnishes, but also the right plates and glasses. Use your nice cups and glasses to serve food—including the ones you have packed away in the “good china” closet. Use beautiful tea cups to serve yogurt, fruit salad, soup, ice cream, seviche or sides. Think of how many different foods you can serve in a martini glass—from shrimp cocktail to rice pudding. Any food—and especially plain and diet foods—look more elegant and will seem to taste that much better when served in something other than the same old bowl.

  • See some of our especially tasty diet foods.


  • Comments


    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavor Boosters



    Don’t save your infused oils only for salads. Use them in marinades, as basting oils and as anointing oils. Drizzle them on cooked fish, poultry, meats and vegetables, including potatoes. It’s fun to have a variety of flavored oils to work with—garlic, basil, rosemary, wasabi, lemon and jalapeño oils, for example. Since oils begin to lose their freshness six months after the bottle is first opened, the more often you use them and the more frequently you replace them, the more lively they’ll be. One of our favorite companies, Boyajian, sells small bottles of flavored olive oil that are a better way to buy flavored oils if you don’t use large quantities.

  • Read our review of Boyajian infused olive oils, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
  • Prefer grapeseed oil? Salute Santé flavored grapeseed oils are another Top Pick Of The Week. Grapeseed oil is extremely heart-healthy, like olive oil, with a very high smoke point.
  • Heart-healthy flavored Olivado avocado oils also made our Top Pick Of The Week honor roll. Avocodo oil ranks as extremely heart-healthy as well, with the highest smoke point of all.
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    Different flavors of Brookfarm infused macadamia nut oil. Photo by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

  • Infused Brookfarm macadamia nut oil, another Top Pick Of The Week, is heart-healthy and mac-nificent.
  • Like it zingy? Try Gil’s Habanero Tequila Oil.

  • Want to learn about the many different types of oils? Check out our Culinary Oils Glossary.



    Comments

    PRODUCT: Pepperidge Farm Tim Tam Cookies



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    Chocolate cookies with chocolate crème or
    caramel filling, enrobed in chocolate.
    Dangerously addictive. Photo by Hannah
    Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We recently received an invitation to meet Gail Simmons, Special Projects Manager with Food & Wine Magazine who gained national (international? interplanetary?) visibility as a judge on our favorite TV food show, “Top Chef.” She was the celebrity guest at a debut party for Pepperidge Farm’s Tam Tam cookies—the top-selling cookie in Australia, now available in the U.S., and apparently a favorite of Gail’s. You can find them exclusively at Target stores from October through March (when they can be shipped in cool comfort without hot containers melting the chocolate).

    If you like Kit Kat and Twix bars, these are bigger, plumper, more sumptuous versions. Crisp chocolate cookie layers are filled with chocolate crème or richer caramel, then enrobed in even richer chocolate.

    Tim Tam cookies were named after the 1958 Kentucky Derby winner. The more voluptuous Caramel Tim Tams outshine their Chocolate Creme sisters, but if we had never met Caramel, we’d have been happy taking Chocolate Crème home. The milk chocolate enrobing the cookie is very sweet—eat more than two at a time and you’ll be sorry. So in that way, the cookies have a beneficial, self-limiting feature. (We didn’t have a chance to try the dark chocolate versions.)

    Tim Tam Trivia:

  • 400,000,000 million Tim Tam cookies are sold in Australia every year (more than 36 million boxes).
  • They are ranked as one of the best inventions since sliced bread, trailing only the World Wide Web, penicillin and the TV remote (according to a 2008 poll conducted by The Times in the UK and news.com.au in Australia).

  • Now, some of you have heard about the upcoming FTC “blogger disclosure law,” actually part of the new FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, that is scheduled to go into effect on December 1st. Among other things, it requires those who endorse products in the media, including blogs and social media, to disclose if they have received the products for free, work for the company, are an MD, Phd or other “Dr.” (if they call upon their expertise as a doctor), etc. At THE NIBBLE, we’re already anticipating using disclosures like, “We received these four flavors for free, and bought these 6 flavors at our local supermarket.” (THE NIBBLE gets free samples, but we spend far more buying products plus the ancillary products needed to cook, bake and otherwise prepare many of the free samples.)

    In the case of Tim Tam: We got them for free but enjoyed them so much, we would gladly have paid for them and certainly will go out and pay for the dark chocolate versions. These are not artisan baked goods, but they are one heck of an addiction as well as a fix.


    Comments

    FREEBIE: Chocolate-Dipped Fruit From Edible Arrangements



    Simply become a Facebook Fan of Edible Arrangements and you’ll be able to sign up to receive a coupon code for a free box of six Dipped Fruit pieces: chocolate-covered strawberries, orange and pear slices and pineapple daisies (the selection may vary by location).

    The offer ends on November 16th or once 100,000 new fans are registered, so do it today! (At a retail value of $15 per box, that’s $1.5 million worth of fruit being given away!) There’s also a 10% holiday early-bird discount off the purchase price of any orders placed before December 1, 2009.

    Edible Arrangements sculpted fruit baskets are our favorite healthy dessert and snack—beautiful to look at, perfect for parties and a terrific way to teach kids that cake and ice cream aren’t the only things worth looking forward to.

  • Head to Edible Arrangement’s Facebook Fan page to sign up and get your coupon.
  • Read our review of Edible Arrangements fruit baskets, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
  •  

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    Chocolate-dipped fruit: A heaven-sent combination.


    Comments

    DVD: “The Meaning of Tea”



    meaning-of-tea-230

    In Morocco, father and son share a glass
    of mint tea. THE DVD provides a beautiful
    tea experience, available in DVD with
    a companion book.

     

    Tea lovers can enjoy a profound and breathtaking journey through the world of tea with Scott Chamberlin Hoyt’s film on DVD, The Meaning of Tea. A wonderful gift for anyone who wants to see first-hand exquisite tea plantations, how tea leaves are hand-plucked from the plant and turned into the beverage we drink, the DVD, $24.95, can be enjoyed and shared over and over again.

    The film takes you through China, India, Japan and Taiwan. It also talks to tea-drinkers in far-away Morocco, England, France, Ireland and even Tea, South Dakota, who enjoy the tea that comes from half a world away. Unveiling tea’s mysteries, the film contrasts ancient rituals and bonds, such as that expressed by a tea planter who would “dishonor his ancestors” if he could not continue growing tea. Then, there are the youth to whom the cultural heritage is unimportant, expressed by Taiwanese teens who disparage their grandmothers’ tea-drinking but enjoy spitting the tapioca balls in bubble tea at each other, and young adult Japanese who prefer coffee because “it’s Western and cool.”

    The hanging question is the future of tea, still the second-widest-drunk beverage in the world thanks to its ingrained presence in the high-population countries of China and India. But as fast food and soft drinks enter those cultures, the influence on younger generations has already had its impact. There is continually growing disinterest towards a long-renowned and honored refreshment whose place and rituals are now largely ignored.

    Contrasted against this sea change are the seriousness of purpose of people who have spent their lives working in the tea industry and consumer tea lovers. Two middle-aged brothers who sell Pashmina scarves in India remonstrate that they could survive without anything on a desert island including water, but not without tea. A Moroccan man describes the ritual and pleasure of searching in the market for the perfect bunch of fresh mint with which to make his tea, and the satisfaction of brewing the perfect pot of tea with it.

    Experiencing the bonds that so many people have to tea is an emotional and cultural ride we’d like to take again. This handsomely-shot, wonderfully-edited 74-minute DVD includes 45 minutes of special features. There’s a companion book with 150 photos that explores tea through the words of tea growers, tasters, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, scholars and experts from eight countries. Get the DVD and invite friends over for tea. It will be a memorable experience!

  • For more information or to purchase, visit TheMeaningOfTea.com, telephone 1.212.691.8899 or email info@teadragonfilms.com.


  • Comments

    RECIPE: Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake



    We love pumpkin cheesecake: So many recipes, so little time! This recipe is on the lighter side—pumpkin mousse—which makes it a better option after a heavy dinner. Think ahead to Thanksgiving, but try it out for Halloween.

    The recipe was created by Andrea Watman, Creative Director at Zabar’s in New York City. Another twist is the gingersnap cookie crust, which brings even more holiday flavor into the recipe.

  • Try the pumpkin mousse cheesecake recipe.
  • No mousse for you? Here’s a full-strength mocha pumpkin cheesecake (cheesecake with a coffee bean-graham cracker crust and a mocha glaze).
  • Find more cheesecake recipes, including Burnt Caramel Cheesecake Brûlée, Cranberry Cheesecake, Irish Coffee cheesecake, Mango Cheesecake, Mascarpone Cheesecake, Rosemarie Brie Cheesecake and Sour Cream Topping Cheesecake.
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    Pumpkin mousse cheesecake is lighter than other recipes.


    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Super-Rich Cocoa & Hot Chocolate


     

    For an extra-rich cup of cocoa or hot chocolate, always use whole milk, and stir a teaspoon or more of unsalted butter into each cup at the end, until it dissolves. This produces a better result than using cream or half-and-half to make the cocoa. The butter transforms average cocoa into a good cup, and good cocoa into a memorable experience. If you’re watching your cholesterol and need to hold the butter and use reduced-fat milk, buy the ultrapasteurized milk (called Skim Plus or a similar name). It’s more expensive, but it tastes like milk that’s two levels higher in fat content.

    The difference between cocoa and hot chocolate: Cocoa is made from cocoa powder. Hot chocolate is made from bits of actual chocolate (it was originally invented in Switzerland by shaving chocolate bars). It’s also called “drinking chocolate.”

  • Here are 24 more hot chocolate tricks.
  • Take our hot chocolate trivia quiz.
  • Read about some of our favorite cocoa and hot chocolate (we’ve reviewed more than 70), and the difference between dutched and non-dutched cocoa.

  • Comments

    FREEBIE: Free Shipping From Rick’s Picks Artisan Pickles



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    Get free shipping through October 31 plus
    a new Bloody Mary recipe. Photo courtesy
    of RicksPicksNYC.com.

     

    Our favorite pickle perfectionist, Rick’s Picks, is offering FREE SHIPPING in the contiguous U.S. (that’s the same as the Lower 48) through the end of the month, on orders of 4 jars or more. (It’s very easy to devour one jar at a sitting—they’re so divine and very low-calorie and healthy). You can pick four pickled peppers, or any of Rick’s fabulous Picks, for your own gourmandizing or for gifts, and can have them shipped now or later—just get the order in by October 31 to qualify.

    Enter coupon code: octoberfree (all lower case) when you order at RicksPicksNYC.com to get the free shipping. We love all the products, but go batty for the Phat Beets (the top seller), the Green Tomato Condiment (formerly called GT 1000s, curried green tomato pickles), Windy City Wasabeans in a soy-wasabi brine, Smokra (pickled okra seasoned with smoked paprika) and … heck, we may as well list everything.

    Enjoy the screaming good Bloody Mary recipe below for Halloween, which features Rick’s Picks’ Mean Beans, a spicy dilly bean (cayenne joins the traditional dill and garlic seasoning). Low in calories—just 20 per 7-bean serving—the brine is used in the Bloody Mary, and you can toss fresh string beans from the store into the remaining brine to make new pickles. As with all of Rick’s Picks, there’s no hidden sugar.

    Rick’s Picks Mean & Bloody

    Ingredients:
    – 1 ounce vodka
    – 3 ounces tomato juice (see our review of the best)
    – 2 dashes Worcestershire
    – 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
    – 2 dashes Tabasco or to taste
    – A dash of freshly-ground pepper
    – 1 quarter lemon, squeezed
    – Generous splash of Mean Beans brine (try other dilly bean or pickle brine if you don’t have Mean Beans—but it won’t be as good!)
    – Mean Beans to garnish

    Preparation:
    1. Combine ingredients. Shake or stir.
    2. Pour over ice. Garnish and serve.
    3. Have extra Mean Beans on hand for demanding guests.

  • Read our review of Rick’s Picks, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Annie Chun’s Noodle Bowls & Soup Bowls



    Annie Chun’s has introduced new flavors in its Noodle Bowl and Soup Bowl lines. Both products can offer a good fast food fix when we’re hankering for something Chinese right away and don’t want to order from our nearby Chinese restaurant—we end up over-ordering and paying four or five times the price of a bowl of Annie Chun’s along with lots of non-biodegradable take-out packaging. Annie Chun is green: The bowls are made of biodegradable cornstarch and the cardboard sleeve is made from recycled paperboard. They mini-meals are 100% natural and no preservatives, no MSG (but a reasonable amount of sodium).

    The bowls products use Hokkien noodles, round egg noodles of medium thickness—think fat spaghetti. (Hokkien is a Chinese dialect spoken in southern Fujian, Taiwan, and throughout Southeast Asia.) In less than two minutes, you can microwave:

  • Garlic Scallion Noodle Bowl. Combining two of our favorite flavors and mild, this has broad appeal. Scallion lovers can add some fresh scallion for more kick. (Vegan)
  • Korean Sweet Chili Noodle Bowl. This flavor ratchets up the heat nicely. The “sweet and spicy red chili sauce” will please many Americans who have become accustomed to lots of sugar in everything they eat. (It was pleasant, but we found ourselves looking at the package label for the sugar grams). (Vegan)
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    Have microwave, will feast: Annie Chun’s
    Noodle Bowls provide an almost-instant Asian
    food fix at home or at work. Photo by Erika
    Meller | THE NIBBLE.

  • Vietnamese Pho Soup Bowl is a tough one to write about. It’s advertised as a “complex and flavorful organic beef broth.” A real pho is a thing of beauty, piled high with stewed beef, noodles bean sprouts, onions, scallions, and a great complexity of spices: chile, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, black cardamom, coriander, fennel and clove, topped off with fresh lime squeezed at the table. Granted, this is the fast food version, largely broth and noodles, but the broth was so weak and indistinct we wouldn’t have known it was beef, and the only apparent seasoning seemed to be black pepper. We couldn’t help but long for the pho (a.k.a. stewed beef soup) at Talent Thai restaurant in New York City, which is a knockout dish that you want to have over and over again. (If you’re in town, you must have a bowl.) This variety is very light and mildly peppery; we would love a “complex and flavorful” re-do.


    Other flavors of Noodle Bowl include Kung Pao, Pad Thai, Peanut Sauce and Teriyaki. Soup Bowls include Chicken Noodle, Hot & Sour, Korean Kimchi, Miso, Thai Tom Yum and Udon. Suggested Retail Price is $3.49 for an 8.4-ounce bowl; $34 for a 12-pack at WorldPantry.com.


  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Table Settings


     

    Scatter miniature pumpkins and gourds to dress up the dining table from October through Thanksgiving weekend. They also can be used to hold place cards: Either cut a slit on the top with a sharp knife to insert the card, or use strong double-stick tape to affix it.

  • See our favorite Halloween chocolates, which can be used as table settings.


  • Comments

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