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Archive for December, 2009

CLASSES: Butcher Classes

What do you do after your blog has been turned into a highly-noticed book and Meryl Streep and Amy Adams have starred in the film version?

You become a butcher! “Julie And Julia: My Year Of Cooking Dangerously” author Julie Powell has released her next book, “Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession”, her “Julie and Julia” marriage gone awry “set against a backdrop of butchery.”

Most of “Cleaving” was written while Powell was an apprentice at Fleisher’s, a grass-fed and organic meat butcher shop in Kingston, New York. We haven’t read the book, but a colleague who did passes on her wishes for “more food and less sex—does anybody care about Julie Powell’s sex life?” (Yes: People who buy books to make into films will probably like it just the way it is.)

Fleisher’s has launched a formal butchery apprentice program that has already graduated three successful butchers. If your New Year’s plans include training in the culinary arts, learn more about Fleisher’s butcher classes.

As the Fleisher’s folks say, Carne diem!



This could be you, learning the craft (and
trade) of fine butchering. Photo courtesy Fleisher’s.


TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Best Foods Of 2009, Part 2, Sweet Foods


A brownie with Somebody’s Mother’s heavenly white chocolate sauce. Photo by Corey Lugg | THE NIBBLE.


This is the second part of our “The Best Of 2009”: the Top Pick Of The Week specialty and gourmet food products that have become a permanent part of our lives. This week, our picks are the sweet stuff.

Since we’ve chosen “everyday foods,” our list doesn’t include the fabulous boxes of gourmet chocolate that are special-occasion buys. But don’t worry: All of our picks are indulgences.

You can click to the original reviews via the bulleted links below, or read our “Best of 2009” full review to learn why these have been added to our favorite treats list.

  • Olympic Granola Bars, the best granola bars we tried (and we’ve tried hundreds!)
  • Somebody’s Mother’s Dessert Sauces, the best chocolate and white chocolate fudge sauces available commercially
  • Spread Peanut Butter, the best gourmet peanut butter we’ve found to-date
  • Sprinkles Cupcake Mixes, the easiest and best-tasting cupcakes to come out of our oven
  • Way North Biscotti, incredible flavors and textures, our new favorite biscotti
    The links above click through to the original reviews; or you can read this Top Pick of The Week to see, in brief, why we liked each one of these products so much. (And we’ll be eating our fair share of them in 2010, as we search for new Top Picks.)



    TIP OF THE DAY: New Year’s Plan

    Have a great time this evening. When you wake up tomorrow and consider your New Year’s resolutions, here’s an idea:

    Spend more time with friends and family in the New Year by entertaining more often and more easily.

    Don’t focus on a formal event that takes time to plan and costs a lot of money. Think casual, and simply set aside 2 hours a month to catch up with people you don’t see often enough, or with those you’ve met but haven’t had the chance to see again.

    Make it a regular event and set aside the second Friday evening or third Sunday afternoon of the month, for example. Invite 4 to 8 people over for a mini-tasting:

    Try different teas, mineral waters, Spanish cheeses, single-origin chocolate bars—whatever you’d like to learn more about.

    The group will enjoy mixing and discovering new specialty foods; small groups are easier and less expensive to manage and guests mix more easily.


    Spend an evening with sparkling wines and
    triple-crême cheeses (here, Brie and
    Champagne). Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

    • Buying cheese for tonight? Double-crême and triple-crême cheeses like Brillat-Savarin, Brie, Camembert, Explorateur and Saint-André are the way to go with sparkling wines. Learn more in our Cheese Glossary.



    PRODUCT: Champagne For New Year’s Eve


    Krug Champagne, our favorite. We toast
    every new year with it.

    Haven’t picked a celebration bubbly yet?

    Here are our Champagne and sparkling wine recommendations from a few years ago. We’re tasting them all tonight to update the article.

    • Krug is still our favorite (but pricey).
    • In addition to tête de cuvee bottle in the article, we also love the vintage or nonvintage Pol Roger and Bollinger Champagnes, which have a higher concentration of Pinot Noir and are more robust.
    • If you like your bubbly on the more delicate side, Taittinger, a blanc de blanc (only Chardonnay grapes, instead of a combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), is a perennial favorite, too.
    • For great taste on a budget, we’re fans of [yellow tail] sparkling wine, called [yellow tail] Bubbles, and the [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé, a beautiful rose color as well.


    HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at THE NIBBLE. We’ll be nibbling hard for you in 2010.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Champagne Gift

    Tomorrow is National Champagne Day (appropriately, it’s New Year’s Eve).

    Most people bring a bottle of Champagne as a gift to New Year’s Eve parties. Add a book about Champagne, and your gift will be remembered long after the bubbles are gone.

    See one of our favorite books on Champagne.


    Photo courtesy Sugardaddy’s Sumptuous Sweeties.


    CONTEST: Do You Have A Great Strawberry Recipe?

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    Florida winter strawberries. Photo courtesy
    Florida Strawberry Growers Association.

    Home cooks and culinary professionals can compete for cash in the first “Florida Strawberries—A Taste of Summer All Winter Long Recipe Contest,” sponsored by the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and “Taste of the South Magazine.”

    The entry categories are Starters or Salsas; Salads; Sweets and Best Photo. A total of $6,000 in cash prizes will be awarded.

    • Upload your recipe by February 28, 2010 and see the contest rules.Florida is the major U.S. supplier of strawberries from November through early spring. For those who want to buy foods with fewer carbon miles and purchase domestic rather than imported produce, each carton of Florida-grown strawberries has geographic identification noting where the product was grown.
    Strawberries are not only nutritious; they’re one of our favorite diet foods. Eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange. A one-cup serving (about 8 to 10 medium-sized berries) contains 45 calories and has no fat, cholesterol or sodium.

    So, even if you don’t enter the contest, make strawberries part of your healthy “New Year’s Resolutions” diet.


    RECIPE: Chocolate Mice Cookies For New Year’s Eve

    Hickory Dickory dock,
    The mouse ran up the clock,
    As twelve bells rang,
    The mousie sprang,
    Hickory Dickory dock.

    But no one will be springing away from these yummy chocolate “surprise” mice cookies, no matter what hour of the day or evening you serve them (we’re waiting for the clock to strike twelve on New Year’s Eve). These mousies are filled with Cholives, olive-shaped chocolates with chocolate ganache centers (perfect for chocolate martinis, glamorous garnish or simply indulgent popping).

    If you can’t get your hands on Cholives before New Year’s Eve, you can substitute. Miniature Easter egg shapes work as well; Hershey’s Kisses will work, but they’re not of the quality of Cholives. We haven’t tried Dove Promises in this recipe—they’re square rather than oval—but they’re filled with delicious soft centers, just like Cholives. As long as you mound the dough correctly, your choice of chocolate should work.



    A sweet way to start the New Year—or any
    day of the year! Photo by Lisa Leick.

    This recipe was adapted by Cholives from Cookies, Brownies & Bars, Classic Pillsbury Cookbooks, 1991 (you can find copies on Amazon).

    Cholive-Filled Chocolate Mice


    – 3/4 cup sugar
    – 1/2 cup butter, softened
    – 1/2 cup shortening
    – 1 teaspoon vanilla
    – 1 egg
    – 2-1/4 cup unbleached flour
    – 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
    – 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    – 3 dozen Cholives (or Kisses or other chocolate)
    – White, silver or colored nonpareils (tiny sugar balls) or miniature chocolate chips, for eyes
    – Chocolate or black string licorice, for tails, cut into 2-inch pieces


    1. Heat oven to 325ºF. In large bowl, beat sugar, butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; blend well.
    2. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Stir in flour, cocoa and baking powder; mix well.
    3. Shape dough into 1-1/2-inch balls. Push Cholive into ball and roll gently in hands until Cholive is covered in dough.
    4. To form Cholive-filled mouse, pinch one end of ball to form nose. For ears, make two tiny balls of dough and flatten slightly; gently press into dough on upper front of each mouse body. For eyes, press 2 nonpareils into dough below ears.
    5. Place shaped cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 325ºF for 8-13 minutes or until set.
    6. Remove from oven. Immediately insert piece of licorice “tail” into the rounded end of each cookie.
    7. Remove from cookie sheets.

    Makes 3 dozen chocolate mice. Recipe can also be adapted to make Chocolate Cats and Chocolate Dogs.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Go Nuts For Fresh Nutmeg


    This Peugeot nutmeg grinder is top-
    of-the-line, but may be more ginder
    than you need.

    Just as freshly-ground pepper bears no resemblance to the bland, pre-ground powder, freshly-ground nutmeg is a vibrant spice that perks up sweet and savory dishes alike.

    We use it to flavor apples and other seasonal fruits (pies, compotes, sautéed sliced fruit), to make cookies and pastries and in custards. We love it in egg dishes and vegetable purées. It’s our favorite seasoning with spinach in any form, and on pasta with broccoli rabe.

    For beverages, use nutmeg in addition to (or instead of) cinnamon on hot chocolate, coffee, cappuccino, mulled cider, warm milk, cold milk, chocolate milk and of course, eggnog.

    While some cooks grate the whole nutmeg against a fine plane kitchen grater, we value our skin and use a nutmeg grinder (nutmeg mill)—it’s the same principle as a peppermill, but it accommodates the much larger nutmeg, which is the size of an unshelled hazelnut.

    If you’ve had the nutmeg for several years, you can check the quality by piercing it with a needle. If the skin pierces slightly and a drop of oil flows out, the nut is still fresh. If the skin won’t pierce, it’s dried out. By the way, mace is the milder-tasting dried hull of nutmeg—the part you peel off to get to the nut, and nutmeg is the nut of a tree fruit.


    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Señor Sangria

    You can’t help but feel like it’s party time when you have a bottle of Señor Sangria at hand. If you win this week’s Gourmet Giveaway, you’ll soon have an entire case of this tasty blend of real fruit juice and Chilean Merlot, and a reason to have a party. Serve it with tapas or make a big group paella.

    Available since March, Señor Sangria is the only premium bottled sangria on the market. It’s made with all-natural ingredients and comes ready to pour over ice. You can serve it “old style” by adding fresh fruit to the glass—sliced oranges, apples, pineapple and berries are popular, but most any fruit will do.

    • THE PRIZE: One winner will receive a $100 gift card to cover the cost of having a case of Señor Sangria shipped to his or her home from Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in Wayne, NJ. The case contains twelve 750ml bottles of Señor Sangria. It’s party time!
    • TO ENTER THIS GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Go to the box at the bottom of our Wine page and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, January 4th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
    • Please note that wine can only be shipped to the following 37 states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, IA, ID, IL, KS, LA, ME, MI, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, VA, VT, WV, WI, and WY. If your state is not listed, it is because shipping wine to your state is prohibited by law. If this is the case, and you are the winner, you can use the gift certificate to ship the wine as a gift to someone in one of the states listed. And petition your state legislators to get the law changed. Any other product can be shipped into your state; the liquor laws exist in states with strong lobbies to protect liquor and wine store owners at the cost of limiting the choices of all citizens.
    • Learn more about Señor Sangria.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Deviled Deluxe

    Our favorite deviled eggs: with salmon
    caviar. Photo courtesy


    Are you thinking about serving deviled eggs on New Year’s Eve?

    Get past the classic recipe and go for flavored deviled eggs. Use different flavorings: Fresh dill, curry, infused tobiko roes and wasabi are popular choices. Just divide the mashed yolks mixture after you’ve added the binder (mayo, dijon, sour cream and salt), and mix different flavorings into the divided yolk batches.

    But filling the eggs—even just one flavor—can be a devilish chore. Instead of struggling to spoon in the filling, do what caterers do and put the filling in a pastry bag—or you can use a Ziploc-type bag. Cut off a corner of the bag and simply squeeze the filling into the egg whites.

    Now that you know the easy way to fill eggs, here are more favorite flavors to try: bacon (“bacon and eggs”), chopped chives, chutney, crab, crumbled blue cheese, jalapeño, kalamata olives, lemon herb and smoked salmon.

    Stuffed eggs were a popular dish as far back as the Roman Empire.


    There are many different recipes for stuffed eggs, but the term “deviled eggs” originated in 18th-century England. “Deviled” refers to the use of hot spices or condiments in a recipe—paprika, mustard, hot sauce, horseradish, chiles, etc.

  • See our favorite caviar deviled egg recipe.


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