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

PRODUCT: “Beefed Up” Tofu

Nasoya has created a new product for vegetarians, vegans and others on a no meat/low meat diet.

Tofu Plus is fortified to provide 20% of the daily value of five nutrients that others get from meat: vitamins B2, B6, B12, D2 and calcium.

Replacing three ounces of meat (the size of a medium hamburger) with three ounces of Tofu Plus avoids six grams of saturated fat and 53 milligrams of cholesterol.

Tofu in general is low in saturated fat, is sodium- and cholesterol-free and is a good source of iron and phosphorus. It contains 8g of protein per serving.

Tofu Plus is certified organic. The fortified tofu is available in Firm and Extra Firm textures. Extra Firm is better for grilling, baking or stir-fry; Firm is best for salads, crumbling and scrambling.

Try this GRILLED TOFU SALAD recipe from Nasoya (find more recipes at


Tofu Plus: the same tofu flavor and texture
fortified with the nutrition of meat. Photo

Ingredients: Marinade & Dressing
• 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
• 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
• 1/2 inch of grated fresh ginger
• 1 clove of minced fresh garlic
• 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Ingredients: Salad
• 1 pkg Nasoya firm or extra firm tofu, cubed
• 1 bag spring mix or spinach
• 1/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1/4 cup walnuts
• 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1. Mix the marinade and dressing ingredients. Pour over the tofu and let sit for 15 minutes to 12 hours.

2. Grill the tofu on high, flipping once there are grill marks. This will improve the texture of the tofu, making it more similar to meat. You can also pan-fry the tofu in a stovetop skillet or bake it in the oven. Once the tofu is lightly browned, let it cool.

3. Toss the tofu and the remaining dressing into your salad and enjoy!


Tofu is made from curding soymilk, much in the same way cheese is made from milk. First soybeans are ground with water and heated. The soymilk is separated from the solids, the hot soymilk is stirred and a coagulant (a natural firming agent) is added. The curds that form are poured into a forming box (a mold) and the whey is pressed out. The pressing action forms the curd into a solid block of tofu, which is also known as bean curd. Read all about tofu.


TIP OF THE DAY: Know The Dirty Dozen & The Clean 15

This innocent-looking, low-calorie, fiber-
filled vegetable is #1 on the Dirty Dozen list.
Buy organic celery. Photo courtesy

Can you name the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables?

If not, you’re probably ingesting more pesticide residue than you’d like.

The Environmental Working Group has found that people who eat five fruits and vegetables a day from the Dirty Dozen list (below) consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat from the 15 least-contaminated conventionally grown fruits and vegetables ingest fewer than two pesticides daily.

These data are based on produce tested as it is typically eaten: washed or rinsed, peeled, etc., depending on the type of produce.

Rinsing reduces, but does not eliminate pesticides. Peeling helps, but valuable nutrients are often contained in the skin.

The best approach, recommends the EWG, is to eat a varied diet, scrub all produce and buy organic when possible.

The Dirty Dozen Fruits & Vegetables
Apples, bell peppers, blueberries, celery, cherries, grapes (imported), kale, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries. As your budget allows, buy organic varieties of this produce.

The Clean 15 Fruits & Vegetables
Asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, onions, pineapple, sweet corn, sweet peas, sweet potato, watermelon. Conventionally grown produce is A-OK.

Learn more at You can download a PDF version of the guide or the iPhone app.



TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Tony Boffa’s Famous Home Made Tomato Sauce

There’s lots of tomato sauce on the shelves, but look at the ingredients panel: Most of it is chock full of sugar/HFCS and salt.

Antonio Boffa emigrated from Italy after World War II, opened a restaurant in 1951 and made his sauces the old-fashioned way: with the best ingredients, bursting with flavor, without need for sugar and salt.

While son Tony joined the restaurant business, grandson Tom decided to take the family tradition in a new direction: marketing the family sauce at retail.

We taste a lot of sauces each year; few get to be Top Picks Of The Week. Tony Boffa is welcome in our home (and office) anytime. Retailers: Welcome him to your shelves!

There are currently four varieties:

• Marinara Sauce, the classic with basil and garlic.
• Meat Sauce, with lots of ground beef and pork sausage.
• Tomato Sauce, flavored with beef and pork fat.
• Vodka Sauce, done to creamy perfection and alas, given the higher calorie and fat count, our favorite.

Tony Boffa’s fine sauces elevate everyday
pasta. Photo by Trutenka | IST.

Six jars (the standard website order) makes a great Father’s Day gift.

Read the full review. It includes more than 30 ways to use these sauces beyond topping your pasta—although topping pasta is a great way to start.

Find more of our favorite sauces, pastas in recipes in our Gourmet Pasta section.



RECIPE: Graduation Cookies

These cookies are too cool for school!
Photo © Land O Lakes.

Who wouldn’t want to take a bite of these diploma cookies—perfect to serve at a graduation party or to bring as a gift for the new graduate.

What’s especially nifty about these cookies is that they double as fortune cookies.

You can use the “default” set of fortunes provided in PDF format by the recipe’s creator, Land O Lakes; or you can make up your own with the graduate in mind.

Have lots of fun with this one!

See the recipe for “graduation cookies.”

Find more of our favorite cookies and cookie recipes.


TIP OF THE DAY: Write Tips To Save Food

It’s shocking how much food we throw away because it goes bad in the fridge. Aside from wasting money, it’s just plain wasteful, given how many people go hungry.

One of our New Year’s resolutions was to stop wasting food. We looked at exactly what we were throwing out a week later, and figured out how to use it within a day or two. Here’s the plan we devised:

Cooked Vegetables: All leftover vegetables go into an omelet or scramble for the next day’s breakfast or dinner.

Proteins: Meat and fish leftovers too meager for a sandwich get added to the next day’s pasta or rice dish.

Salad: We only dress half of the salad. If anyone wants more salad, it’s easy to dress and serve. Dressed salad turns into a soggy mess overnight; but washed, undressed salad stays crisp in paper towels and a plastic bag.

Leftover scraps go into omelets, pasta or rice.
Photo courtesy Callisons.

Berries: Berries are very perishable; ours often rot before they’re finished. If you simply can’t finish them on breakfast cereal or as a snack, stick them in the freezer and use them in a smoothie or a puree.

Other Fresh Fruits & Vegetables: If they’re about to go bad and we don’t have the appetite to eat them, we slice and marinate them (use vinaigrette for veggies, liqueur for fruits) or quickly steam them. It buys another couple of days. Steamed fruit and veggies can be turned into purées or soup. Vegetables can be topped with sauce and grated cheese for a snack or side.

Bonus: Chicken carcasses, meat and fish bones get converted into stock. Though we’ve often made excuses for not making stock (no time top make it, no place to store it), we find that if we start the stock as we’re cleaning up from dinner, it “makes itself.” And we don’t store it because we plan to use it the next day.

Think of how you waste food and write down—then follow—your own tips to stop it. If you need ideas, let us know.



GOURMET GIVEAWAY #2: Aequare Fine Chocolates

Pretty patterns abound with Aequare Fine
Chocolates. Photo by Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE.

Ecuadorian cacao is prized worldwide for its full body, floral aroma and deep chocolate flavor. If you win this week’s chocolate Gourmet Giveaway from Aequare Fine Chocolates, you’ll have an opportunity to taste the company’s line of artisan bonbons and chocolate bars.

  • THE PRIZE: Aequare Chocolates will give one winner a 6-piece gift box of French bonbons and two bars of chocolate, in Lemongrass and Mandarin Orange flavors. The melt-in-your mouth chocolates are an enjoyable experience. Approximate retail value: $22.00
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gourmet Chocolate Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, May 24th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  • To learn more about Aequare Chocolate, visit


GOURMET GIVEAWAY #1: Doodles Gluten-Free Cookie Mixes

Doodles cookie mixes are gluten-free but they’re soooo good, we fought over the last crumbs—and then named them a Top Pick Of The Week. And no one at THE NIBBLE is gluten-intolerant!

These magical mixes will become favorites with anyone who is looking for a home-baked treat, but are a godsend for people with gluten allergies. That they’re certified organic is icing on the cake! Read our full review.

  • THE PRIZE: One winner will have an opportunity to try the entire line of Doodles organic and gluten-free cookie mixes. Flavors include Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, Double Chocolate Chip Habanero Mix, Nut Butter Cookie Mix and Sugar Cookie Mix. They’re all really terrific! Approximate retail value: $26.00.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gluten-Free Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, May 24th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  • To learn more about Doodles Cookies, visit

Wash these yummy cookies down with a tall
glass of milk. Photo by Jerry Deutsch | THE NIBBLE.


TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Excess Nougat

Delicious nougat from

Nougat is a confection made of egg whites, toasted almonds or other nuts, and sugar or honey. Gourmet nougat is appearing on the scene.

If you’re given a gift of nougat and you’re not inclined to devour the box, what to do with it?

• You can store it in the refrigerator for longer life.

• Serve pieces like petit fours, with coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

• Toast it like marshmallows and make nougat s’mores.

• Chip it and use it as a dessert garnish on ice cream, puddings and anything with whipped cream.


To make nougat chips, freeze the nougat overnight, then chip into small pieces. Refreeze the chips and add the frozen chips just before serving the dessert. Don’t thaw frozen nougat; it will destabilize.

Find more of our favorite candies in our Gourmet Candy section.


PRODUCT: Red Velvet Cookies

We’re not fans of red velvet cake. We just don’t find a lot of flavor in it. We don’t want faint hints of cocoa: We want chocolate cake (or banana cake or buttery yellow cake or anything with lots of taste).

But we can’t deny that red velvet cake has become a national craze—so much so that Schmerty’s Cookies of Santa Monica, California have created a red velvet cookie! The cookies are also certified kosher.

Where did the storm of red velvet cake begin?

Actually, in the film Steel Magnolias, featuring six stars of the silver screen: Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Daryl Hannah, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts.

Follow the trail prior to then, and there are claims that the red velvet cake originated at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in the 1920s—birthplace of classics such as Waldorf Salad, Veal Oscar, Thousand Island Dressing and the Manhattan cocktail.

Like red velvet cake? Try red velvet cookies.
Photo by Jerry Deutsch | THE NIBBLE.

While the hotel certainly popularized the cake, beginning in the 1920s, the origin of that cake is the Devil’s Food Cake that began to appear in print at the beginning of the 20th century.

The first published record for Devil’s Food Cake is a 1902 recipe from Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book. A recipe in Good Housekeeping Woman’s Home Cook Book, in 1909, more closely resembles modern recipes for Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake. A recipe for Philadelphia Red Cake, published in the Perry (Kansas) Home Cook Book in 1920, uses squares of chocolate, baking soda, buttermilk and egg whites—identical to recipes for Red Devil’s Food Cake.

Our mother made Red Devil’s Food Cake—a rich, chocolaty cake, not the bright red, vaguely flavored red velvet cakes of today. So where did today’s red velvet cake come from?

No one knows, exactly. In the 1960s, recipes for today’s red velvet-style cake were being published that added red food coloring as a prominent ingredient, along with buttermilk and cocoa powder. A southern favorite, it was launched to stardom in Steel Magnolias.



TIP OF THE DAY: Chicken Sausage

Turn a Waldorf Salad, made with apples and
walnuts, into a Sausage Waldorf with apple
chicken sausage. Photo courtesy

Most of us reach for pork sausage at the supermarket—it’s what we grew up with.

But demand for healthier foods has created a robust business in chicken sausage. Just by switching to chicken over pork sausage, you can save 70% of the fat. You can also enjoy more specialty flavors, since chicken’s milder flavor allows seasonings such as apple, chipotle, spinach and feta and sundried tomato to be more expressive.

Just as with pork sausage, there dinner and breakfast varieties as well as “cocktail franks.” In addition to far less fat than pork sausage, most chicken sausage brands are free of nitrites, nitrates, preservatives and artificial ingredients. A 3-ounce link is about 130 calories, depending on brand and filling (cheese flavors will add a few calories). That’s not much more than chicken.

We recently tried two of the nine fully-cooked flavors from Al Fresco, the country’s largest producer of chicken sausage, and look forward to trying the rest.

There are many recipes on the site, but we epecially love them as easy snacks and hors d’oeuvre—think Spicy Jalapeño Chicken Sausage with pineapple mango salsa.


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