THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for March, 2010

EASTER: Colorful Candies

Fill your candy bowl with a colorful mix of chocolate-covered nuts, dried fruits and sunflower seeds.

The Cocoa Room sells mixtures of egg-shaped chocolate-covered almonds, dried cherries, sunflower seeds and other favorites.

In addition to making your candy bowl look seasonal, it’s a great gift for people who don’t like big bites of chocolate (yes, such people exist!).

The mixes are sold in a variety of sizes, in clear boxes that are perfect for gift-giving. The small box makes a welcome party favor. Available at

Find more of our favorite Easter gifts.


Choose from different Easter mixes. Photo


TIP OF THE DAY: Salmagundi (Salad)


Start a Salmagundi Salad tradition. Photo

Looking for a new idea for entertaining?

Celebrate spring with a Salmagundi Brunch.

“Salmagundi“ means a heterogeneous mixture or a mixed salad of various ingredients in addition to the greens. A Cobb Salad—avocado, bacon, blue cheese and chicken—is an example of salmagundi.

The word derives from the French salmigondis, “seasoned salted meats,” most likely from the Latin words salemine (salted food) and condir (to season).

Invite friends to a Spring Salmagundi Feast:

1. You provide a large salad bowl and salad greens, plus vinaigrette, artisan bread, butter and anything else you’d like to round out the menu (beverages, soup, dessert).

2. Each guest brings a non-greens item to put into a huge salad: anchovies, avocado, baby corn or corn kernels, beets, boiled potatoes, eggs, carrots, cheese, Chinese noodles, croutons, dried fruit/fresh fruit, grilled meats, ham/bacon/prosciutto, marinated or roasted vegetables, nuts, olives, onions, seafood, tomatoes/sundried tomatoes, seeds, water chestnuts and so forth. You can assign ingredients, but it’s more fun if what they bring is a surprise.

3. As guests arrive, arrange these ingredients in rows atop the greens, so everyone can see what the salad will consist of.

Red, white and rose wines, plus beer and artisan soft drinks (think Fizzy Lizzy, GuS and Steaz) will pair well with the salmagundi.

Find more salad ideas in our Vegetables Section.



PRODUCT: Rouge et Noir Champion Cheeses

In 1865, Abraham Lincoln was president and San Francisco was known as Yerba Buena.

Since 1865, artisans have been making Brie, Camembert and other cheeses at Marin French Cheese Company, in the rolling hills of Petaluma, California (north of San Francisco in Marin County and just south of Sonoma County).

In the old days, the cheeses were transported in a horse-drawn wagon to the town of Petaluma, where they were loaded onto a paddle wheeler and headed for the shipping port then known as Yerba Buena. The first cheese, a breakfast cheese, became a favorite with Yerba Buena dock workers.

These days, the company makes more than 30 different types of cheeses. We had the opportunity to taste the Brie and Camembert, made with Old World cultures. We were in buttery cheese heaven, enjoying the cheeses for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between. (Read the difference between Brie and Camembert).

We can’t wait to try the rest of the line, including the quark in blackberry, garlic, herb, jalapeño, plain, strawberry and triple onion!


Look for Rouge et Noir at fine grocers.
Photo by Evan Dempsey | THE NIBBLE.

The family owned and operated company is the oldest continually operating cheese factory in the U.S., selling cheese names under the brand name Rouge et Noir. The cheeses are hand-crafted, one batch at a time. They are rBST-free and vegetarian (no animal rennet).

Made from extra-rich Jersey cow’s milk, in 2005, Rouge et Noir’s Trple Creme Brie beat its French competitors in the annual World Cheese Awards in London, and took two other golds as well. Original Camembert was voted America’s best Camembert by the American Cheese Society in 2004 and 2006. There are many more medals in the company’s trophy case.

If you’re in the area, there are four tours daily. Call 1.800-292.6001 for information. Learn more at

  • Find more of our favorite cheeses in our Cheese Section, which is packed full of information about cheese. 


EASTER: Ribbon Chocolate Box From See’s Candies

If you know a woman who loves See’s Candies, she’ll love them even more in this lovely keepsake ribbon box.

The woven ribbon, in lavender, green and purple, the color of spring. The box holds 11.3 ounces of milk and dark chocolates along with beautiful White Chocolate Raspberry and Lemon Truffle Eggs topped with icing flowers. And it will remind the recipient of spring long after the Easter candy is gone.

Buy the Ribbon Chocolate Box for $19.90 at See’s stores or online at


This Easter gift is a “keeper”: the ribbon box
remains after the chocolate is gone. Photo courtesy


TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Gorgonzole Dolce Appetizer


Top Gorgozola with fig preserves or fig jam
and serve! Photo courtesy

In Italy, Gorgonzola Dolce (gohr-gohn-ZOH-lah DOHL-chay), or sweet Gorgonzola cheese, is often served for dessert with a drizzle of honey and perhaps some figs.

But you can turn the tables and serve it as an appetizer that’s easy to make and put out on the coffee table as everyone arrives for Easter dinner.

Get a slab of Gorgonzola Dolce, which is a spreadable and elegant version of Gorgonzola that lacks the sharpness of Gorgonzola Naturale, Mountain Gorgonzola. Spread with fig preserves or jam (Dalmatia fig spread has very good retail distribution) and serve with crackers and a fruity red wine. Or to celebrate the holiday, serve Champagne!

Bella Chi Cha sells a ready-made Creamy Gorgonzola Torta With Fig, but you need to live in California to buy it. (Retailer elsewhere: please bring this line in!)


Gorgonzola is an ancient cheese, dated back to around 879 C.E. Gorgonzola Dolce is the same cheese as Gorgonzola Naturale, but much less aged. It has a slightly salty aftertaste that is a nice counterpoint in the torta, paired with the fig jam.

Gorgonzola Dolce is also a favorite ingredient in risotto and polenta. It can be made into a dip, mixed into vinaigrette, melted on a pizza or used wherever cheese is called for. Serve it for dessert with berries, figs, pears, peaches or plums.


EASTER: Fancypants Shortbread Cookies

Of all the decorated cookies we’ve tried, we prefer Fancypants.

While many cookies look too cute to eat, the flavors often leave something to be desired—cloyingly sweet sugar cookies, hard and dry texture, or both! Fancypants bakes delicious, buttery shortbread cookies, and we just can’t stop eating them.

The company makes cookies designed for any occasion or theme—baby shower, basketball and holidays such as Easter. Mindful of allergies, the bakery is 100% nut free. See the full collection at


What’s up, Doc? Great shortbread cookies
from Fancypants Bakery. Photo courtesy Fancypants.


PRODUCT: Callebaut Belgian Chocolate For Baking


For superior chocolate flavor, try Callebaut.

Barry Callebaut, the world’s largest manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products and maker of some of the best Belgian chocolate, has made gourmet chocolate products previously available only to professional pastry chefs and chocolatiers.

Now, the company’s renowned milk, dark and marbled chocolate products are available at specialty food stores and fine grocers. The products are certified kosher by OK.

  • The milk, dark and marbled chocolate couvertures are perfect for adding superior chocolate taste to brownies, cakes, cookies, truffles and any chocolate dessert recipe.
  • The small, disc-shaped Callets make tempering chocolate in the microwave a breeze (and are very tempting to eat by the handful).
If you don’t know Callebaut, you’re in for a treat.



TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate Spring With Edible Flowers

Spring, our favorite season, begins today. We’re celebrating with a floral flourish.

Look for edible flowers at stores that carry specialty produce. Not all flowers are edible (or tasty), but there’s quite a variety to choose from. (If you want to use flowers from your own garden, it’s OK as long as they are pesticide-free.)

Flowers are used in many types of cooking: Asian, East Indian, European and Middle Eastern cuisines are flower-friendly. Flowers in food were popular in Victorian England. They were eaten by the early settlers in America—anything that could be eaten, was. The first recorded mention of edible flowers comes from 140 B.C.E.!

If edible flowers sounds like a strange concept, remember that lavender (used in everything from ice cream and syrup to scones and tea, not to mention liqueur) and candied violets are popular accents in our cuisine. Squash blossoms, stuffed and fried in light batter or cornmeal are a delicacy served in fine restaurants. In addition to eating sunflower seeds, try the petals!

  • Scatter them in salads or anywhere you’d like a peppery flavor accent.
  • Using them as plate décor.


Spring Salad

A colorful spring salad embellished with
edible flowers. Photo by Kelly Cline | IST.

  • Use both the color and flavor of nasturtiums to make a special mayonnaise.


  • Read all about edible flowers—types, history and the many different ways to use them in food.


EASTER: Hand-Rolled Marzipan Eggs


The Easter bunny was hard at work on
these marzipan eggs (with help from
Martine’s Chocolates).

Aren’t these lovely? Hand rolled to create a rainbow of colors, these marzipan eggs from Martine’s Chocolates will delight marzipan lovers. Martine also makes lovely hand-colored solid chocolate eggs with a similar sensibility (the colored design is “inlaid” into the chocolate) and many other Easter treats.


TIP OF THE DAY: Roast Those Veggies

We love roasted vegetables—we could make an entire meal of them.

If your family won’t eat their share of boiled or steamed veggies, try roasting them—it’s easy. (Their daily “share,” by the way, is three to five half-cup servings.)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice up root vegetables (or seasonal favorites). Beets, bell peppers, carrots, eggplant, onions, parsnips, turnips, zucchini—anything you have a hankering for (or that’s on sale). You can add sliced sweet potatoes or white potatoes, too. The slices can be as large or as small a dice as you like.

Toss the veggies in olive oil and season with a bit of sea salt and fresh-ground pepper, and any fresh herbs—parsley, rosemary, oregano, etc. Then, spread them out on a baking pan in one layer and bake until golden brown and fork-tender.



Roasted beets. Photo courtesy

There are many variations to keep roast veggies interesting: Toss a bit of cinnamon, lemon zest, nutmeg or other favorite flavors with the olive oil.


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