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

PRODUCT: Stonehouse 27 Indian Simmer Sauces

Like Indian food? Would you like an easy way to prepare it at home?

Stonehouse 27 cooking sauces are a boon for anyone who enjoys Indian flavors and would like to enjoy them more often.

From-scratch Indian cooking is time-consuming, but much of that time goes into the preparation of flavorful sauces, in which meat, fish and vegetables are then simmered.

Stonehouse 27’s line of Indian cooking sauces, also known as simmer sauces, make it easy to prepare delicious main courses: Just add meat and/or vegetables and simmer for 30-40 minutes. While it’s cooking, make the rice.

This is also healthier Indian cuisine. It’s all-natural and gluten-free with no added salt. The recipes use heart-healthy canola oil instead of the saturated fats; and diabetic-friendly, low-glycemic agave nectar instead of refined sugar.

The flavors—Dates and Tamarind, Tamarind and Garlic, Tomato and Chilies, Cashews and Cream, and Cilantro and Coconut curries—have varying degrees of heat and are flexible to be used with meat/fish or vegetarian. Most varieties are vegan; two varieties are vegetarian.


Turn out Indian fare with ease, with
Stonehouse 27 cooking sauces. Photo by Yuliya Gorodetskaya | Fotolia.


TIP OF THE DAY: The ABCs Of Omega-3s

Get Omega-3s from Spaghetti alla
Puttanesca. Photo by Nishi Daryuichi |

Omega-3 fatty acids are healthful polyunsaturated fats. Extensive research indicates that they reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and arthritis. They reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

We pop three small capsules a day to get our share of Omega-3 (and Omega-6). But most people don’t like to swallow pills. So processed food manufacturers are pandering to consumers’ desire to eat more Omega-3s.

Yet many of products that proclaim “Contains Omega-3s!” are not as beneficial as a consumer might desire.

• If it doesn’t disclose the milligrams of Omega-3 per serving on the label, you can bet that the Omega-3s inside aren’t doing you much good.

• Many “Omega-3 products” contain only ALA, when research now indicates that the combination of DHA and EPA is most effective.

Studies suggest an average of 500 milligrams of Omega-3 a day is beneficial. You can get that much by following the American Heart Association’s guideline to eat fatty fish at least twice weekly.

Salmon is the poster boy (poster fish?) for Omega-3; it has the highest amount per serving. But those who’d like alternatives should try anchovies, herring, sardines and mackerel, the next four O-3 heavy fish on the list. Try these yummy ideas:

Pasta: Toss pasta with anchovies, garlic oil (infuse olive oil with a clove of garlic) and bread crumbs. Pasta alla Puttanesca also contains anchovies. Pasta and anchovies are a natural—look for other recipes. Try different brands of anchovies to find tastier, less salty varieties.

Anchovy Paste: Use anchovy paste to add flavor and Omega-3s to your food.

Fresh Anchovies: Marinated fresh anchovies are ubiquitous in Italy, but a rare delight—as different from the canned variety as fresh tuna is to canned tuna. They’re worth tracking down. Serve them as a first course with lettuce and tomato.

Caesar Salad & Pizza: Two great opportunities to enjoy anchovies.

Sardines: Sardines are delicious. Buy a good brand and have a sardine salad as a first course.

Mackerel: If you don’t like cooked mackerel, try it at a sushi bar. It’s one of our favorites.

Bagel With Pickled Herring Or Herring Salad. Another favorite. Warning: We’re not responsible if you become addicted to this one.

More ideas to come; but now we’ve got to go out for a garlic bagel with pickled herring. And a slice of tomato for some lycopene.



TRENDS: Store Brands

Do you buy store brands? We do.

Market research firm The Nielsen Company has released new information regarding store-brand (private-label) buyers.

While some people think that it is lower-income people with limited funds who buy store brands, it is actually middle-income families ($30,000 to $70,000) who are the primary store-brand shoppers.

Store brands also have a loyal and growing following among two-person households looking for value—a more affluent and educated shopper who realizes that there’s no appreciable difference between the branded product and the typical store brand.

Some of the study highlights show that:

• Store brands have won favor among younger households.

• The fastest-growing segment for store brands are families making $100,000-plus.


America’s Choice is the store brand of A&P.
Photo courtesy

• Younger female heads of household have a propensity to buy store brands—no doubt to the chagrin of branded goods manufacturers, whose conventional wisdom is to target young buyers with advertising to secure their brand loyalty “for life.”

Those quarters and half dollars saved on store brands add up. Even if you’re not pinching pennies, they can offset extra treats—like that latte tab.

A $4.00 specialty coffee x five days a week x 50 work weeks a year = $1,000 a year in coffee expenses! So, see how much of that total you can save on store brands. Make a game of it with your friends…and then go out for a latte.

And have fun with this coffee savings calculator.


TIP OF THE DAY: Salt Alert ~ Read The Labels

This is not your friend. Photo by Ramon
Gonzalez | SXC.

Salt (sodium chloride) helps prevent food spoilage by drawing out moisture, where bacteria grow and kills existing bacteria that might cause spoiling.

Salt also helps to disguise metallic or chemical aftertastes and provides a recognizable flavor when other ingredients fail to (the next time you bite into a potato chip or tortilla chip, consider how much of what you taste is potato or corn, versus salt).

At one time, salting was one of the only ways to preserve food. Yet salt remains a prominent ingredient in many processed foods. Even though we now know that too much salt is not healthy, some servings of processed food contain a day’s recommended salt allowance.

Salt raises blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the higher the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Only hypochondriacs walk around worrying that they’ll have a heart attack or a stroke. But consider all of the people you’ve known: The risk is real for many people.

By reading the labels on what you eat, you can limit your salt intake. The USDA suggests a limit of 2,300 mg or less salt per day—one teaspoon!—for healthy adults under 50, and 1,500 mg for those over 50, those with certain health issues and African-Americans.

These latter groups, who should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, comprises 2/3 of adults. Yet the average American consumes 4,000 mg of sodium a day—most of it hidden in processed foods.

Tips from the Mayo Clinic & THE NIBBLE To Reduce Salt In Your Diet

  • Read package labels for sodium content per serving. It will be an eye-opener—some servings contain more than your daily allowance of salt. (While you’re at it, check out sugar per serving and fat per serving.) Look for low-sodium products or products without added salt. It’s never too late to develop wiser eating habits, and training your family in them is your gift to them.
  • Eat more fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish and unprocessed (cooked from scratch) grains. Processed frozen foods and other convenience foods may seem a godsend to busy people, but they’re high in salt.
  • Use fresh herbs and spices to flavor your food. That’s why food tastes so good in France and Italy: more fresh herbs, less salt.
  • Use a peppermill. Pre-ground pepper is pretty flavorless; fresh-cracked pepper makes a big difference. Learn to sprinkle pepper on your food instead of reaching for the salt shaker.
  • Choose unsalted snacks: nuts, seeds, pretzels, raw vegetables, fruit and other salt-free snacks.


If you’re young and healthy, you may not think you have to worry about what you eat. If you’re older, it’s hard to change habits.

But don’t think of salt as a treat. Think of it as lard: It may taste good, but there are other options that taste just as good, and are much better for you. All you have to do is make the switch.



GADGET: Cakewich, A “Sandwich” Cake Mold

Boys and girls: This is not a giant peanut butter sandwich. It’s a cake!

Could the Cakewich be the best thing since sliced bread?

Use the silicone Cakewich sandwich cake mold to bake a cake in the shape of a double slice of bread. Slice the “bread” into layers and make your favorite Cakewich using appropriate-flavored cream fillings, jam or ice cream.

While we can’t wait to make the PB&J pound cake shown in the photo, we also want to bake chocolate Cakewiches (“pumpernickel”) filled with “egg salad” (whipped cream or buttercream with a dice of pound cake standing in for the yellow portion of the egg); ham salad (strawberry whipped cream/buttercream with a dice of red velvet cake) and cream cheese and smoked salmon (whipped cream/buttercream with a layer of apricot jam for the smoked salmon).


We can’t wait to bake this peanut butter
poundcake! Photo courtesy

Think of what type of sandwich you’d like to celebrate, and then what cake ingredients substitute for it. (The recipe for the PB&J pound cake is included).One caveat with silicone cake pans: They don’t brown as well as metal or glass pans. Thus, to get a brown crust on “white bread” or a banana “multigrain” bread, you’ve got to butter and flour the pan well.


BEER: Growlers Are Better

Growlers are the new “in” and green
packaging for microwbrews. Photo courtesy

“Growler” doesn’t sound too friendly. But up through the 1890s, it was a pretty amiable half-gallon glass jug used to transport draft beer home from the tavern.

Thanks to the growth of craft beer, there’s a growler resurgence in the United States. You can find them at breweries and brewpubs that sell take-out beer: Take-home growlers are filled from the tap. Some homebrewers use growlers as well, as an alternative to kegs or standard bottles for carbonating and storing beer.

In the old days growlers had hinged porcelain gasket caps. Today a screw-on cap is as likely (and less expensive). A properly sealed growler will hold carbonation indefinitely, like any other sealed beer bottle.

And it’s more economical to buy beer in a growler than go through many smaller bottles. Most places that sell growlers will re-fill them for you.

Why “growler?” As the story goes, in the late 19th century, before the appearance of the glass growler jug, fresh beer was carried home from the local tavern in a galvanized, lidded tin pail. The claim is that the sound made by the carbon dioxide escaping through the lid as the beer sloshed back and forth sounded like a growl.

Expect to see more growlers (glass jugs, not tin pails) as craft beer fans demand to take home brews on tap.

One of the newer Whole Foods Markets in our area sells a reusable growler filled with your choice of beers on tap—a constantly changing selection. When the growler is empty, bring the growler back for a refill and pay for the beer only.

In addition to being able to try fresh microwbrews that aren’t available in bottles, the idea of reusable bottles that can be refilled time after time—instead of going into landfill every time—is appealing. In fact, Whole Foods market now offers 32-ounce growlers in addition to the 64-ounce.



PRODUCT: Pink Princess Cupcakes

Like cupcakes? Have young daughters, nieces, grandkids? Pink Princess Cupcakes may be a festive activity for you.

The Pink Princess Cupcakes Kit is one of a series of cupcake mixes (along with Fancy Fairy and Magical Mermaid) that provides an adult-child baking-and-bonding opportunity.

There is unusual fun in making these cupcakes: A special blend of ingredients for both the cake and the icing magically changes the batter and frosting colors from white to pink when mixed (hot pink for the cake, pale pink for the frosting). This is sure to delight young participants, and was a treat for us older folks, too.

As far as baking goes, this is a good opportunity to demonstrate to kids how to use a mixer to combine wet ingredients (supplied by you) and the dry ingredients from the kit, and turn them into yummy cupcakes. The lavender paper tote box contains enough Pink Vanilla Cupcake Mix, Pink Princess Pink Vanilla Frosting Mix and Enchanted Confetti Sprinkles to make 12 cupcakes.

At $5.95 apiece, you can also use the totes as party favors. They’re available at


Throw a Pink Princess Cupcake tea party.
Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

Although the icing was a bit sweet for us, kids will like it. And this product is all about the kids.

In fact, the Pink Princess Cupcakes Baking Kit is part of a series of products from Barbara Beery, bestselling children’s cookbook author and founder of Batter Up Kids Cooking.

Her latest Pink Princess cookbook, The Pink Princess Cupcakes Cookbook, has creative cupcake decorating ideas with beautiful full-page color photography. You don’t have to be a pastry chef; the decoration ideas are all within the reach of the typical mom. The volume serves as a “menu options book” to let your little princess pick out exactly what she’d like to have at her party.


TIP OF THE DAY: Storing Cheese

Decorated sheets of parchment are a gift
idea for a cheese-loving friend. Photo

The finest cheese is made on a farm or creamery, where it is stored in a cool—not cold—and damp environment. If cheese is kept too cold, it loses flavor.

So keep cheeses in the warmest part of the refrigerator: usually the top shelf. You can also use the vegetable bin at the bottom.

Except for aged, dry cheeses like Parmesan, most cheeses should be wrapped in parchment—not plastic—so they can breathe. Fine cheese stores will typically wrap your selections in parchment paper. Don’t toss the paper—reuse it to rewrap the leftover cheese.

Of course, the best tip is to buy only the amount of cheese that you need; but we all fear “running short,” especially when planning a cheese plate for guests.

To serve: Remove the cheese from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for a minimum of one hour—preferably two hours—prior to serving, to allow the full range of flavors to emerge.

  • If you’d like to buy cheese parchment paper for yourself or a cheese-loving friend, Murray’s Cheese sells the brightly-designed sheets in the photo.
  • Learn all about cheese, see reviews of our favorites and find exciting cheese recipes in our Gourmet Cheese section.



BOOK: Vampire Cooking

You can find films and books titled “Love At First Bite.” This version is “The Complete Vampire Lover’s Cookbook” with “More Than 300 Suckulent Recipes.”

Essentially, this is a basic cookbook that mines the current vampire craze by titling recipes with vampire themes: Embrace The Darkness Frittata, Frightful Filet Mignon Caesar Salad, Suffering Suck-O-Tash, and so forth.

There are also “Tasty Tidbits” about vampires, such as:

Curiously, some legends make mention that a stake is only to be hammered into the vampire’s chest in one blow, for if it’s struck twice, the revenant can reanimate and return to its vampiric state. So remember that, when you’re faced with killing a vampire.

A revenant, by the way, is a person who returns after a lengthy absence, or one who returns as a spirit after death—a ghost, for example. (Are the undead “spirits?”)


A cookbook for those obsessed with all
things vampire.

While this is not a cookbook for experienced cooks, it could be an entry level volume for young fans of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, True Blood, Twilight, The Vampire Chronicles, The Vampire Diaries and other fangsome literature and films.

If you’d like to teach someone to cook, or encourage him or her prepare feasts for their friends, a gift of “Love At First Bite” could be in order.

The reason other people might be interested is the list of some 100 cocktails at the end of the book that will keep you going for many Halloweens to come: Black Death, Devil’s Blood, Howl At The Moon and Satan’s Whiskers, to name a few.

You can buy it on Amazon for less than $10.00.


TIP OF THE DAY: Make Better Burgers

Start with the right meat. These burgers
are from Ottomanelli Brothers.

It’s National Hamburger Month!

While most of us love burgers, many of us don’t know how to cook them properly.

For example, making dense patties and pressing down on them as they cook is a sure way to get a less-juicy burger.

And while most experts agree that the best burger comes from sirloin or chuck, not all “ground chuck” is created equal. Your chuck could come from a nine-year-old dairy cow instead of a two-year-old steer.

Take a look at these tips for better burgers, and soon you’ll be grilling like a pro.

While you‘re at it, check out the history of the hamburger, a true American sandwich.


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