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

TRENDS: Feeling Charitable? Make A Small Donation!

Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest), provides bags of groceries to the hungry.

While we’ve been eating favorite foods throughout the holiday season, some people don’t even have the basics, and go hungry. Please think of ending the year with a small donation—$5, $10 or more would be great—to this worthwhile endeavor.

Your contribution is especially important NOW, because financial planning firm Ameriprise Financial has made a $100,000 matching grant that will double the value of your gift. That means every $5 you give will help provide 20 bags of groceries!

While it’s a tight time for many of us, for too many desperate families in need, the food provided by Feeding America might be the only food they’ll have on the table. As you sit down to breakfast, lunch, or dinner today, think of those homes that have scant—or no—food.

By the way, December 31st is the biggest “giving” day of the year for Americans, because it’s the last day to make a tax-deductible charitable contribution. According to The New York Times (December 17, 2009), charities raised 22.5 times more money on December 31 than any other average day last year. The entire last week of the year is a great week for giving, with the average gift size being 57% larger than the weekly average during the prior 51 weeks.



Every $5 you donate provides 20 bags
of groceries for truly hungry people.
Image courtesy

You’ve got four days to help out 20, 40, or more families with a much-needed bag of groceries. Thanks for considering!

  • Learn more about Feeding America and make a donation!
  • Also check out Good Earth plans to give 50% of its after-tax profits from sales of its tea and coffee, through February 28, 2010. You can purchase the products at Whole Foods Markets and other fine retailers. Anyone can vote for the top three charities that will receive the donations. 


TIP OF THE DAY: Flaming Egg Nog


Egg nog is more festive in martini
glasses. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
Marketing Board.

We ring in the New Year with Champagne. But before the clock strikes midnight, we dazzle guests with flaming egg nog.

1. Make or buy the nog. If you purchase it, spice it up with 1-1/2 ounces of spiced rum per 4 ounces of nog.

2. Chill and pour into a martini glass if you don’t have traditional glass cups.

3. Grind fresh nutmeg to garnish. (Check out these nutmeg tips.)

4. The key to flaming is using 150-proof rum (different from the spiced rum, or the 80-proof rum most people have in the house). Float half an ounce of this high-proof rum on top of the nog. Ignite the drink in front of the guest, using a long wooden fireplace match. It’s holiday magic!

5. If you don’t want to ignite the drinks, skip Step 4 and serve.



RECIPE: Ginger Joy Cocktail For New Year’s Eve

Looking for a special cocktail for New Year’s Eve?

We love both Grey Goose La Poire pear-flavored vodka and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur. They’ve been combined into one special cocktail with perfect holiday flavors that bring Ginger Joy to good (adult) girls and boys.

Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur is a stunning complement to Grey Goose La Poire, and the gorgeous bottle makes it a terrific gift.

In fact, if you need a gift to bring to a New Year’s Eve party, bring a bottle of each along with this recipe!


Joy to the world: This Ginger Joy
cocktail is delicious! Photo courtesy
Grey Goose.


TIP OF THE DAY: Deluxe Hot Chocolate


It’s a perfect weekend to snuggle up
with homemade hot chocolate. Photo
courtesy Recchiuti Confections.

We love those luxury, super-rich hot chocolates that can cost up to $25 a box—and we gave some of them as holiday gifts.

Here’s the scoop: Some of these top-tier products are simply chopped up bits of fine chocolate. You can make your own for far less money by chopping up a good chocolate bar. Just:

1. Combine 1 ounce (3 tablespoons) of chopped chocolate with 1 ounce of whole milk in mug.
2. Microwave for 30 seconds and whisk thoroughly to blend.
3. Add another 6 ounces of milk, stir, and heat for 60 seconds.

You can use any chocolate: dark, milk or white, including flavored bars (or add a dash of cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, and chili powder for “Aztec” hot chocolate using a plain chocolate bar).

  • You can use chocolate morsels, but the key is, the finer the chocolate, the more delicious the drink.
  • For a richer beverage, don’t use cream: The secret is to add a tablespoon of sweet butter to the milk before you heat it.
  • Don’t try to make luxury hot chocolate with 2% or fat-free milk: The purpose is to enjoy a sumptuous beverage. If you’re cutting back, have a smaller portion—a demitasse cup. Or, use a luxury sugar-free mix with whole milk.


Read our reviews of the best diet and regular cocoa and hot chocolate.


GIFTS: Our Favorite Holiday Gift ~ Landy XO Cognac

Santa was generous and thoughtul. After all, what can you give to a food editor, aside from a trainer who shows up at the office (no time to get to the gym) and a spa cuisine personal chef to offset the far-from-spa calories we consume all day on the job?

Now we have something in common with hip hoppers Snoop Dogg and E-40—they drink the same Landy Cognac we received as a gift. Yes, packaging is part of the impact of this lovely bottle of XO Cognac, with its noble, gold-plated greyhound-topped cork; but the Cognac is equally noteworthy.

The Cognac in our Greyhound Decanter is aged to super-smoothness for 35 years. By comparison, a VSOP is aged for at least 4.5 years, although there’s no limit on how long it can be aged; Landy’s VSOP is aged 12 years. For sure, when the last drop of Cognac is finished, we’ll be repurposing this beautiful decanter.

And the XO Cognac? The nose yields plum, leather, sandalwood and tobacco; on the palate the plummy fruit has accents of spice along with the leather and sandlewood, and a touch of tobacco. The Cognac has the balance and long finish that you’d expect from an X.O. The list price is $119.95, but we found it online for $99.99 at (and at highly-inflated prices on some gift sites).



Landy’s Greyhound Decanter, filled with
smooth and luscious 35-year-old cognac.
Photo courtesy Landy Cognac.

The VSOP received a double gold medal at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its complex aromatic, palate of soft vanilla, honey, spice and candied fruit flavors and long finish. Landy is considered “affordable luxury”: We found the award-winning VSOP for $39.99 and the VS for $22.99.

We sure hope the economy improves in 2010, or we’ll be refilling our Greyhound Decanter with the VSOP.


TIP OF THE DAY: Toasty Panettone


Panettone photo by Gabriel T. / SXC.

Did you get a panettone for Christmas?

Panettone, a medieval Italian Christmas yeast bread dotted with candied lemon peel, orange peel and raisins, is the Italian version of fruitcake—a popular Christmas gift. Panettone is tall, dome-shaped and airy (some say fluffy), in contrast to the other famous Christmas bread, panforte, which is is short and dense.

The classic Panettone accompaniment is a sweet hot beverage or a sweet wine such as spumante or moscato, but any dessert wine will do. Some Italians add a side of crema di mascarpone, a cream made from mascarpone cheese, eggs, and amaretto (or substitute zabaglione).

If you have more panettone than you can enjoy, cut it into slices and freeze it: After seconds in the microwave, it’s deliciously warm and fluffy again.

We enjoy panettone toasted and buttered for breakfast, or made into a luxurious piece of French toast. Or for dessert at dinner, top toasted panettone with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.



RECIPE: And A Partridge In A Cheese Tree

Perhaps there’s still time to rearrange your cheese tray into a Christmas tree.

All you need are cubes of cheese (the tree in the photo uses different flavors of Cabot Cheddar), grape tomatoes and some fresh thyme. The star on the top of the tree is a carved mushroom cap.

If you don’t have the ingredients, keep this cheese tree recipe for next year. It’s a crowd pleaser.

Merry Christmas from all of us at THE NIBBLE.


Eat this Christmas tree. Photo courtesy
Cabot Cheese.


TIP OF THE DAY: “Great Wall” Alcohol-Free Cocktail


It can look great and taste great
without any alcohol.

Instead of relegating non-drinking guests to an evening of mineral water, create a special alcohol-free cocktail menu to make their evening more festive.

One option is a “Great Wall,” a combination of brewed jasmine tea and ginger ale.

1. Brew a pot of jasmine tea and cool it in a pitcher, like iced tea (1 teaspoon of tea per 2/3 cup water).

2. Then mix 2/3 cup tea in a tall glass with 2/3 regular or diet ginger ale, ice, and a twist of lemon.

This special drink will make your guest feel special, too…and is a good option for guests who’ve had their second or third regular cocktail.


RESTAURANTS: Best Restaurant Meals Of 2009

Where did some of the nation’s top chefs and restaurateurs have their best meals of 2009?

Participants in a survey conducted by Opinionated About included Dan Barber (Blue Hill, New York), “No Reservations” host Anthony Bourdain, Sean Brock (McCrady’s Charleston, SC), Michael Carlson (Schwa, Chicago), David Chang (Momofuku, New York), Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, New York), Gale Gand (Tru, Chicago), Krista Kern Darjelais (Bresca, Portland, ME), Paul Liebrandt (Corton, New York), Thomas Keller (French Laundry, Napa Valley), Danny Meyer (Union Square Hospitality Group, New York), Daniel Patterson (Coi, San Francisco), Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin, New York), Anna Sortun (Oleana, Cambridge, MA) and Cindy Wolf (Charleston, Baltimore, MD).

Responses range from casual to fine dining establishments around the world. Restaurants named most frequently include:

  • Aldea, New York City, Chef George Mendes
  • Corton, New York City, Chef Paul Liebrandt
  • Ferraro Bociarent, Spain, Chef Paco Morales
  • Marea/Alto New York City, Chef Michael White
  • McCrady’s Charleston, South Carolina, Chef Sean Brock
  • Mugaritz Errenteria, Spain, Chef Adoni Aduriz
  • Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark, Chef Rene Redzepi
  • Ubuntu Napa, California, Chef Jeremy Fox



A new take on linguine and clam sauce.
Photo courtesy of Chef George Mendes,
Aldea restaurant, New York City.

The full list of respondents and restaurants can be downloaded at


TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Shortcake


Copper cookie cutter from Amazon.

Use your cookie cutters to make a special holiday “shortcake” or ice cream sandwich.

1. For an ice cream “shortcake,” slice regular or chocolate pound cake into 1/2″-3/4″ slices and use large cookie cutters to cut shapes into the cake—use a tree- or star-shaped cutter for Christmas. If the cake isn’t dense, you may have to toast it lightly in order to cut out the shapes—but toasted cake is just as delicious.

2. Top with vanilla, mint or candy cane ice cream, fresh strawberries and mint leaves, drizzled with chocolate sauce if you like. You can place more than one piece of cake on the plate before topping with ice cream. Or “deconstruct” the shortcake and scoop the ice cream next to the cake to better show off the tree (or star) design.


3. For an ice cream sandwich, cut a pound cake loaf lengthwise into slices, and a half-gallon of ice cream into slices approximately the same size. Place the slice of ice cream between two slices of pound cake and use the cookie cutter to cut individual sandwiches.

Use heart cookie cutters and other theme shapes to make these special (and easy) desserts for every holiday.

Don’t look for bargains when buying cookie cutters; pay more for the sturdiest cookie cutters you can find. The inexpensive ones will bend out of shape. You can find other ways to save money—for example, using the star shape for both Christmas and Independence Day.


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