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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 March, 2010

Top Pick Of The Week: Built Burger ~ The Best Burger You Can Find

Notice to all restaurants that proclaim “The World’s Best Burger”: You’re wrong! The world’s best burger comes from Built Burger in Seattle. And they’ll ship to your door.

It was just last year that two burger lovers in Seattle pondered how to take our beloved national dish to a new level.

Yes, there are gourmet breads and condiments and organic beef, but at the end of the day, it’s still a beef patty (and more recently, a chicken, lamb, pork or turkey patty).

One day, the two intrepid burger explorers decided to incorporate popular ingredients—cheese, other meats, veggies and herbs—into the beef. This has often been done in meat loaf recipes, but the concept tastes oh, so much different in a pure, all-natural, top-quality patty made of free-range beef from the Pacific Northwest.

The first Built Burger was created with a mixture of chorizo, roasted red bell peppers, caramelized Walla Walla onions, Worcestershire sauce and French sea salt. It was so good that people passed on the bun and toppings and ate it with a fork. It was called the Magnificent Chorizo Burger, and that’s not hyperbole.

 

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The best burgers we’ve ever had. Photo © BuiltBurger.com.

Now, there’s a family of beef, chicken, lamb, pork and turkey burgers. We’re adopting each and every one into our family. We think that the short ribs burger is better than Daniel Boulud’s; and most of the others are without peer.

  • Discover more about these brilliantly-built burgers in the full review, and be sure to order a bunch.
  • Check out our better burger tips.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sorbet Easter Eggs

    Wine-Cellar-Sorbets-230

    Instead of a traditional sorbet presentation,
    shape balls of sorbet into oval egg shapes
    and serve in a “nest.” Photo courtesy Wine
    Cellar Sorbets
    , a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The
    Week.

     

    For a quick and delicious dessert, scoop sorbet in three Easter colors (orange or mango, raspberry or strawberry and lime or kiwi, for example) into oblong-shaped “Easter eggs.”

    To shape the sorbet into egg shapes:

    1. Use plastic gloves or put your hands into thin plastic bags from the produce section.

    2. Let the “eggs” freeze hard on a tray covered with plastic wrap, until serving time.

    3. Put one “egg” of each color on a plate and sprinkle with jelly beans. You can also use a meringue “nest” or create a nest of lettuce cups.

    4. Serve with tiny cookies, such as Byrd’s Key Lime Coolers and Razzberry Tarts.

    5. You can do the same with ice cream or frozen yogurt, but it’s harder to find three bright colors.

    Find more dessert ideas in our Ice Cream & Sorbet and Desserts Sections.

    Comments

    CLASS: Bagel Making & More

    Sure you can bake—but can you make bagels?

    Charge your cooking by taking a class in something different, and impress your friends and family with your homemade bagels (or baklava, croissants, pizza—anything).

    While it’s not a challenge to buy bagels, baklava etc., imagine the thrill of hot bagels emerging from your own oven.

    Bagels are one of our favorite foods—authentic Old World bagels, not the bloated specimens many have evolved into. It’s time to learn how to bake perfect ones.

    We have our eye on a bagel-making course at New York’s International Culinary Center (Saturday, June 26, 2010, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., $195). At the end of class, we’ll eat the piping hot bagels—sesame, poppy seed, salt, onion and garlic—with cream cheese, lox and all the fixings.

    Check out the classes at your local cooking school for something that catches your eye. Cooking classes are also a great bonding experience—with spouse, parent, child or pal.

  • Find recipes for challah and Irish soda bread in our Bread Section.
  •  

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    Imagine making bagels at home instead of
    running out for them on Sunday mornings.
    Photo courtesy French Meadow Bakery, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Storing Salad Greens

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    You can pull a salad together in a snap if
    you store cleaned greens. Photo courtesy
    Equinoxe.

     

    If you’ve washed salad greens but haven’t used them all, here’s how to store them for longevity. The same technique also helps you to prepare a salad the day before, so you can have a bowl of greens ready-to-dress, in just a minute.

    1. Line a plastic bag with paper towels and gently insert lettuce, spinach or other greens.

    2. Seal the bag, carefully pushing out any excess air as you close it. Refrigerate the bag.

    3. Alternatively, if you have room in the fridge, you can line a bowl with paper towels, insert the greens and seal with plastic wrap (or use a bowl with an airtight lid).

    Clean, dry lettuce will stay fresh for several days, and often as long as a week; other greens may have more or less time. That’s why it’s best to refrigerate each type of green separately, since they’ll wilt at different rates.

    However, if you have tossed salad greens that aren’t already dressed, use this technique to refrigerate the salad.

  • Find more salad and vegetable ideas in our Vegetables Section.
  • Comments

    EASTER: Easy Easter Cupcakes

    How cute are these Easter cupcakes?

    A simple cupcake becomes an Easter treat with three simple changes:

    1. Use colored cupcake wrappers (shown here, Reynolds Baking Cups).
    2. Make pastel-colored frosting in the shape of a “nest.”
    3. Place 3 jelly beans in the nest.

  • Find additional Easter cupcake ideas from Reynolds Kitchens at CupcakeCentral.com.
  • See the history of cupcakes.
  • Find more cupcake and cake recipes in our Cakes Section.
  •  

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    Don’t wait until Easter Sunday: Your friends
    and family want these cupcakes now.
    Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchens.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Free Flavored Water

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    Hint flavored water makes a colorful,
    calorie-free Easter gift. Photo courtesy
    DrinkHint.com.

     

    Did you know that after you consume a bottle of water, you can get a second bottle for free?

    Just refill the bottle with tap water. You’ll get a second infusion of the flavors still clinging to the inside of the bottle! Some brands even provide a third, milder infusion of flavor.

    Then, refill the bottle to carry your regular supply water to give the plastic bottle as much of a life on earth as possible, before it gets recycled.

    By the way, sugar-free flavored water is a nice Easter gift idea for friends and family who are on strict diets. Put the bottles in a basket, and be sure to include Hint water, which often gives that third infusion.

    Hint water comes in “spring flavors” such as Blackberry, Honeydew Hibiscus, Mango Grapefruit and Raspberry Lime—a total of 10 choices. For a dieter or a healthy eater, they’ll be more appreciated than a bag of colorful jelly beans.

    The waters will also be a hit at the Easter dinner table.

    Read our review of Hint, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, and order it online at DrinkHint.com.

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Fine Chocolates For Passover

    Dean’s Sweets, one of our chocolate gift picks for Holiday 2009, has chocolate truffles that are both dairy- and gluten- (and grain-) free. While they’re not certified kosher for Passover, they are in keeping with the dietary restrictions of Passover.

    Until April 1, you can order artisanal, hand-dipped orange or coconut truffles. Dean’s Sweets truffles are made in small batches without any preservatives. There are no nuts or nut derivatives in any of Dean’s Sweets.

    To get your “Passover truffles,” call 1.207.899.3664 (Eastern Time: 11 to 6 Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 to 7 Friday and Saturday, 11 to 4 Sunday, or leave a voicemail). The price is $17.50 for 8 pieces, $27.50 for 16 pieces; any combination of flavors.

    See the truffles online at DeansSweets.com.

    If you have favorite Passover chocolates, please let us know.

     

    boxed-230

    Bring them to a seder or enjoy them
    at home. Photo courtesy DeansSweets.com.

    Comments

    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Tim Tam Cookies

    These cookies are like potato chips—we bet
    you can’t eat just one! Photo by
    Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    If you don’t get your hands on some Pepperidge Farm Tim Tam Cookies this month, you’ll have to wait six months until Target stores start stocking them again (when they can be shipped from Australia—where they are the nation’s favorite cookie—in cool comfort without hot containers melting the chocolate).

    And believe us—you won’t want to wait that long. That’s why we’re giving away not just a few boxes, but five entire cases of Tim Tam Cookies in this week’s Gourmet Giveaway. Each case contains 24 packages of cookies that are the best non-artisan cookies (i.e., mass-produced) that we’ve ever tasted. And we’ve tasted a lot. (Read our review of Tim Tam Cookies.)

    If you like Kit Kat and Twix bars, these cookies are bigger, plumper, more sumptuous versions. Crisp chocolate cookie layers are filled with chocolate crème or richer caramel, then enrobed in even richer chocolate. WARNING if you’re the winner: Once you start eating them, you can’t stop.

  • THE PRIZE: Five winners will receive 24 packages of Tim Tam Cookies. It may sound like a lot, but once you open one, they’ll be gone before you know it. If you limit yourself to eating just two packages a week, they’ll last for three months. But we haven’t yet come across anyone with that amount of willpower. Better yet, have a tea party and invite friends. (Read all about having a tea party.) Approximate Retail Value: $81.00.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gourmet Easter Cookies, Chocolate & More Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, March 29th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  • To learn more about Tim Tam Cookies, visit ILoveTimTamCookies.com.

  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Cherry Raisinets

    Along with the cherry blossoms of spring, there are new Cherry Raisinets from Nestlé—whole dried Michigan cherries coated with dark chocolate.

    If you like the combination of sweet (chocolate) and tart (cherries), this may be your new favorite version of Raisinets.

    The bag sports several health claims:

  • 30% less fat than the leading chocolate brands
  • 1/2 serving of real fruit in every 1/4 cup*
  • A natural source of fruit and dark chocolate antioxidants, which help maintain good health
  • *One-fourth cup of dried fruit counts as 1 serving of fruit. The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend eating 4 servings of fruit every day, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. However, they didn’t mean 4 servings of chocolate-covered fruit.

    To quote Michael Pollan,† “If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food….”

    In Defense Of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

     

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    For those who like a sweet-and-tart snack.
    Photo by Jerry Deutsch | THE NIBBLE.

    If that’s not your concern, enjoy the cherry blossoms and the Cherry Raisinets.

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Spring Rolls

    springrolls-tray-230rev

    Spring rolls are narrower and lighter than
    egg rolls, and the wrapper is made without
    egg. Photo courtesy SpringKitchen.com.

     

    Celebrate spring with spring rolls, traditionally served at the beginning of the Chinese spring season. Spring rolls are lighter and typically narrower than egg rolls.

    Chinese spring rolls and egg rolls are filled wrappers made from unraised dough, which is wrapped around mixtures of meat, seafood and vegetables and then deep fried.

    Spring rolls are narrower with thinner dough, since the dough is made without the egg that gives egg rolls their name.

    How did spring rolls get their name?

    Originally, they were special snacks served to visitors with tea at the Chinese New Year, which is the beginning of lunar spring.

    Both rolls date back to ancient China, and both are traditionally served with hot Chinese mustard or a dipping sauce.

    Vietnamese spring rolls, or cha gio, have a different wrapper and are not fried (although some Vietnames restaurants are now serving Chinese-style spring rolls as well, since Americans have a penchant for fried food).

    Rolled in soft rice flour wrappers—rice paper that becomes soft after dipping in water—Vietnamese spring rolls generally contain seafood such as cooked shrimp, accompanied by any combination of Chinese rice sticks, carrot, cucumber, daikon, shiitake mushrooms and fresh, leafy herbs: basil, cilantro and mint. Iceberg lettuce or green cabbage can be added for crunch. We also like adding toasted chopped peanuts (salty or honey-roasted) to half the batch, to vary the flavor of our rolls.

    This is an easy and delicious recipe to make at home. Start by picking up some rice paper wrappers at an Asian market.

    Vietnamese spring rolls are like eating a fresh salad roll, more complex in flavor (thanks to the fresh herbs) than fried Chinese rolls. They are served with a spicy dipping sauce known as nuoc cham.

    Spring Roll Dipping Sauce Recipe

    Ingredients

    - 1/2 cup rice vinegar*
    - 1/2 cup water
    - 1/2 cup sugar
    - 1/3 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
    - 1 garlic clove minced
    - 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice*
    - 1 teaspoon dried crushed chilies

    *Depending on your personal palate, you can reverse the quantities of rive vinegar and lime juice. One good-size lime will yield 1/2 cup of juice.

    Preparation

    1. Heat the vinegar, water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
    2. Add fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and chilies.
    3. Cool and serve or refrigerate.

    Read more about fish sauce.

    Comments

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