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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 December, 2009

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Best Of 2009 ~ Part I

As is our tradition, the Top Picks of the last two weeks of the year present the best products we’ve tried during the year—everyday specialty food products that can make every day special.

This week, in Part I of “The Best Of 2009,” we present in alphabetical order our favorite savory foods and beverages.

You can click to the original reviews via the links links below, or read our “Best Gourmet & Specialty Foods of 2009” full review to learn why these have become permanent additions to our home pantry (and to THE NIBBLE kitchen as well).

  • Ayala’s Herbal Water (Kosher, Organic)
  • Golden Star Sparkling Tea
  • Field Roast Grain Meat (Vegan)
  • Fusion Flavored Sea Salt
  • Marvelous Mayonnaise: Baconaise & Spicy Lemonaise (Kosher)
  • Stay tuned for Part II, our favorite sweets.

     

    fries-basket-230

    Fusion flavored sea salts put a whole new
    spin on fries, roast chicken, salad, Margaritas
    or anything sprinkled with salt. We try a
    different flavor each time—from hot
    Habanero to Aged Balsamic. Photo © Idaho Potato Commission.

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cranberry Tequila Cocktail

    cranberry-cocktail-230

    Deck the halls with Cranberry Tequila
    Cocktails. Photo courtesy Don Julio.

     

    If you’re looking for a cocktail to spread some holiday cheer, look no further than this festive cranberry tequila cocktail.

    The recipe, courtesy of Brian Van Flandern, Tequila Don Julio Global Brand Ambassador, is made with a clove-infused agave nectar.

    Not familiar with agave nectar? Find out more about this low-glycemic sweetener, much better for you than sugar.

  • Make the Cranberry Tequila Cocktail.
  • Find more cranberry cocktails, mulled wine and other holiday cocktails in our Cocktails & Spirits Section.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Cookie Tree

    Use a small artificial Christmas tree to create a “dessert tree” centerpiece. Hang edible ornament cookies, fudge, petit fours, mint patties and other treats.

    The easiest technique is to tie cellophane-wrapped treats with ribbon and hang them on the tree with ornament hooks.

    But it makes an even prettier presentation if you cut pliable pieces of clear plastic from the craft store, punch holes for the hooks, and “glue” the treats to them with a paste of confectioners sugar.

  • See our 2009 Christmas cookie recipe collection.
  • Find favorites in our 2008 Christmas cookie recipes.
  •  

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    Salted ginger crisps. The recipe is in the
    2008 cookie collection. Photo courtesy
    Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

    Comments

    Gourmet Giveaway: Nancy’s Frozen Hors d’Oeuvres & Desserts

    NancySpinachStars-230

    Spinach Feta Stars are irresistible. Photo
    courtesy of Nancy’s.

     

    With the holidays upon us, Nancy’s is the quick, simple, go-to source for delicious hors d’oeuvres.

    From soufflés and quiches to deli spirals and mushroom turnovers, Nancy’s wide variety of hors d’oeuvres and desserts makes sure there’s something for every taste bud.

    New this season are the 12-count Spinach Feta Star hors d’oeuvres (shown in the photo), Petite Chocolate Tarts and Petite Pecan Tarts.

    Not only are Nancy’s frozen hors d’oeuvres delicious delicious (we loved nibbling on them at THE NIBBLE), but they couldn’t be easier to prepare. Some are heated in the oven for five minutes while others just need some time out of the freezer to thaw out before they’re ready to serve.

    The only bummer is that these wonderful party foods are only available from October through January each year. But the good news is, you can stock up the freezer now!

  • One winner will receive six coupons redeemable for six Nancy’s products of his or her choice, available in supermarkets nationwide. Approximate Retail Value: $30.00.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Hors d’Oeuvres & Cocktail Snacks page and enter your email address for the prize drawing.
  • Comments

    CONTEST: Design A Wine Bag & Win A Trip To Las Vegas

    Is wine your bag?

    Design the winning wine tote and you could be headed to Las Vegas and a $2,000.00 shopping spree.

    Enter George duBoeuf’s Fashion your Bag contest, download the bag template and start designing. All the information you need is on the website.

    There’s only one catch:

    You’ve got to upload your design online by 11:59:59 a.m. ET on 12/31/09, or mail it in to be received by January 7, 2010.

    Perhaps you can make it a group activity with your more create family members, after all the Christmas gifts are open.

  • Read more about George DuBoeuf’s Beaujolais.
  •  

    duboeuf-wine-tote

    Can you design a better wine tote? If so,
    enter the contest!

    Comments

    CELEBRATION: The Feast Of The Seven Fishes On Christmas Eve

    tuna_tartare-230

    We’re having Chef Daniel Boulud’s
    tuna tartare, topped with caviar, at
    our Feast Of The Seven Fishes. Here’s
    the tuna tartare recipe.

     

    While the Feast of the Seven Fishes may have roots in Southern Italy, today it is a purely an Italian-American tradition. The Christmas Eve dinner is celebrated with a feast of—you guessed it—seven different traditional fish dishes (although some ambitious families may go for eight, nine or more).

    The tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates back to medieval times, to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat or milk products on Fridays and specific holy days. Fish, typically fried in oil, was most often substituted.

    Thus, traditional dishes for The Feast Of The Seven Fishes include baccalà (salted cod fish), calamari and fried fish and seafood (oysters, scallops, shrimp, smelts).

    For a gourmet Feast Of The Seven Fishes, consider this seven-course dinner: (1) oyster shooters or oysters on the half shell, (2) seafood chowder, (3) marinated seafood salad (calamari, octopus, shrimp, green and black olives, onion) over greens, (4) angel hair pasta with lobster in a tomato cream sauce, (5) squid ink pasta with scallops and red caviar, (6) your favorite salmon dish, (7) your favorite shrimp or lobster dish.

    Why seven dishes? No one knows with certainty. Of course, the number seven has many meanings in Western tradition, including the number of Sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church. We may have to wait for the next Dan Brown novel to uncover the mystery.

    Consider creating your own seven fish dishes on Christmas Eve. You don’t have to adhere to Italian specialties or make a full dinner out of it. Try seven appetizers on a “mezze plate,”* such as calamari salad, cocktail shrimp, crab cakes, crab dip with crudités, tuna-olive tapenade, seafood paté and smoked salmon or gravlax. Make the Feast Of The Seven Fishes a holiday tradition in your home.

    *Mezze, pronounced MEH-zee, are Middle Eastern appetizers served either before or with dinner, generally with pita. Several mezze are served at the same time, in what is called a mezze platter. Examples include baba ghannouj (eggplant dip), falafel, feta cheese, hummus, kalaj (baked halloumi cheese in pastry), moutabal (grilled eggplant), and sambousek, spicy carrots and tabouleh. Up to 50 varieties can appear on a mezze table—a Middle Eastern “antipasto.”

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Wine & Beer Gifts

    Make a gift of a wine-tasting course or a home microbrewery kit even better: give it in tandem with a subscription to a relevant magazine (for wine, we love Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate—subscribe at eRobertParker.com).

    The recipient will enjoy being able to build on his or her expertise on an ongoing basis.

  • One stein does not fit all. Take a look at the proper glasses for different types of beer.
  •  

    Pilsnergeneric

    Forget the stein: This is the classic
    Pilsener glass.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pomegranate Sangria

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    Make pomegranate sangria for your guests.
    Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

    There’s nothing more festive than a holiday punch bowl. Historically, Christmas meant gathering around the wassail bowl for good cheer. “Wassail” is Middle English contraction of the toast, wæs hæil, “be healthy.”

    Medieval wassail was a mulled beer or mead, heated and topped with slices of toast (a.k.a. sops)—a piece of bread provided for nourishment (think of it as a precursor of crackers and cheese). Today, mulled cider is made with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg.

    You can fill your punch bowl with mulled cider, or go more modern with this pomegranate sangria recipe. You don’t need a punch bowl. A pitcher is fine.

    If you want a mulled cider recipe, we’ve got some nifty choices (and history) for you as well.

    P.S. December 20th is National Sangria Day!

    Comments

    RECIPE: Gingerbread House “Mug Cookies”

    How brilliant is Megan Reardon, the blogmeister of NotMartha.org?

    Not only has she invented, to our knowledge, the concept of the “mug cookie”—a cookie baked with a slot that hooks onto a mug of hot chocolate, tea or coffee—but she has done it in the most charming way. Get the recipe and download the pattern.

    Cookies are only one of Martha’s impressive talents. We can’t wait for an occasion to make her bacon cups and fill them with scrambled eggs or a spinach salad.

    For those of into Jell-o shooters, here is an impressive Jell-O shooters recipe or (if you leave out the vodka) a way to amuse kids with Jell-O.
    Martha Reardon, we don’t know you, but we love you!

     

    treebluemug_candy_230

    It’s cookie magic: a wee gingerbread
    house that perches on the rim of a mug.
    Photo by Martha Reardon | NotMartha.org.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Artful Candy

    art-candy-230

    With the face of Santa, poinsettias and
    stars, these earn the name, “art candy.”
    Photo courtesy Hammond’s Candies.

     

    Pretty candies in a beautiful candy dish do double duty as an objet d’art—something not just to eat, but to admire.

    In honor of National Hard Candy Day, today, find candies in shapes and colors that add interest to your decor, or that celebrate the season at hand.

    For Christmas, old-fashioned “cut rock” hard candies—the ones with pictures in the center, known as art candy—are still made by Hammond’s Candies.

    Like the ship in the bottle, people marvel at how the designs—for example, tiny Santas, Christmas trees, gold stars and poinsettias—get into the small pieces of candy. Each hand-made piece is a little work of edible art.

  • See more of our favorite candies in our Gourmet Candy section.
  • Comments

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