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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 June, 2010

JULY 4th: Gifts For Deserving Hosts, Friends & Family

Red, White & Blue Fruit Medley from
Harry & David.

 

Need a special July 4th gift?

Harry & David has a couple of real cuties.

  • We love this box of cherries and blueberries displayed in the shape of the American flag. If you’re handy, you can make this yourself: Configure a white gift box or find a white tray and add the fruit.
  • There’s also an Old Glory Gift Tower: five keepsake red, white and blue boxes filled with different goodies—Moose Munch, cookies, Gummi stars and “patriotic” taffies.
  • We’re ready to start celebrating: Please pass the Moose Munch!

    Comments

    JULY 4th: Red, White & Blue Cocktail Shots + Dessert

    To please your guests on July 4th, we present for your consideration red, white and blue “cocktail shots.”

    In this recipe, seasonal fresh fruits are puréed and mixed with Navan vanilla liqueur.

    You can serve the flag-themed cocktails as a trio of shots, or pour them as standard drinks.

  • Get the recipe for red, white & blue cocktail shots.
  • For a bright red cocktail packed with antioxidants that can also be served virgin, look at these cherry juice cocktails.
  • And now for dessert:

  • Bake “Stars & Strips” Toll House cookies.
  • Make July 4th strawberries: fresh strawberries (red) dipped in white chocolate and blue sugar.
  • Stay tuned for more!

     

    Drink the flag. Photo courtesy Navan.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Farmhouse Cheddar

    One of our favorite farmhouse Cheddars,
    award-winning Fiscalini Farmstead bandage-
    wrapped raw-milk Cheddar
    .

     

    Americans love Cheddar. Connoisseurs of fine cheese have discovered farmhouse Cheddar, an artisan product made by hand in small batches.

    Americans tend to pair fine Cheddars with apples and grapes. But these complex, full-flavored cheeses go well with a wide range of accompaniments.

  • Try fresh figs and dates, or mostarda, glazed fruits in a mustard sauce.
  • In summer months, a sliced vine-ripened tomato drizzled with sea salt, some celery stalks, Cheddar and crusty bread make a lovely, light lunch.
  • Or, combine Cheddar with prosciutto, fruit chutney and fennel sticks plus raisin bread or a crusty farmhouse loaf.
  • Read our review of a great English-style farmstead Cheddar made in the U.S. by Fiscalini Farmstead.

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Ham Sandwich, $40.00

    There are two great hams from Spain: jamón serrano, made from the Spanish white pigs, cerdo blanco, and jamón ibérico, made from the dark Iberian pig, cerdo ibérico. (For those who haven’t studied Spanish, jamón, pronounced hah-MONE, means ham.) Both hams are salted and air-cured, not smoked.

    At a dinner Wednesday at New York City’s La Fonda del Sol restaurant, we enjoyed the most outstanding Serrano ham ever, in an all-serrano dinner (an outstanding creative menu by Chef Josh DeChellis and team).

    The serrano ham served was not just any serrano ham, but ham produced by a member of Spain’s relatively young Consorcio Serrano. A consorcio (con-SOAR-see-oh) is an association of producers of a particular product. Its purpose is to maintain the highest standards of quality, and to ensure that any product bearing the consorcio’s seal has passed the exacting review of expert inspectors.

     

    The world’s most expensive ham sandwich?
    Photo courtesy Jezalin’s Gourmet Market.

    The fine hams that get the seal of approval are worth seeking out. In addition to a hang-tag, the Consorcio’s stamp is applied to each approved ham. So if the ham is fresh-sliced for you, ask to see the S-shaped seal. Don’t believe a retailer who tells you that the seal has been carved off, or that a non-Consorcio ham is just as good.

    Not all serrano hams are Consorcio-approved. Some don’t pass the test, others are made outside of Spain, with less attention to the artisan techniques and authentic serrano flavor. “Serrano” means mountain dweller, by the way; the hams are made by “serranos” in the mountainous areas of Spain, and dry in the fresh mountain air. Learn more about serrano ham.

    And Now, The $40.00 Ham Sandwich

    While almost everyone can afford a slice of serrano ham, the more limited-production ham in Spain is jamón ibérico. The black Iberian pigs have black feet (pata negra), and the ham is often called by this nickname.

    These pigs are raised only in the west/southwest area of Spain, where the breed originated. The diet is very specific; there are three levels of jamón ibérico. The top-of-the-line pigs forage in the acorn forests to become even more flavorful before harvest (bellota ham has been called the finest ham in the world). You can read more about jamón ibérico here.

    Jezalin’s Gourmet Market at Limelight Marketplace in New York City is now serving the “Conquistador,” a $39.95 ham sandwich, made of the top-of-the-line acorn-fed pigs, jamón ibérico de bellota. The sandwich is served plain on a baguette so as to not interfere with the ham’s flavor; but the Spanish would eat it in plain slices from the plate, which is truly the best way to savor each slice.

    LaTienda.com sells the same ham online: $49.95 for four ounces. Those in the chips can buy the entire bone-in ham for $1,395.00, or $96.00/pound (it does come with free shipping). This is a bargain compared to Jezalin, which sells the ham for $150/pound.

    Bellotta ham is delicious, but like a kobe beef burger, to our palate it isn’t worth breaking the piggy bank. For us: $20 or so a pound for Consorcio serrano ham hits the spot. The ham slices are light as a feather, so one pound buys a nice amount for a couple of ham lovers or a first course at a dinner party.

    Comments

    HALF PRICE: New Pinkberry Watermelon Yogurt

    Through August, treat yourself to a
    watermelon Pinkberry sundae. Photo
    courtesy Pinkberry.com.

     

    Adjust your schedule, Pinkberry lovers: the new summer flavor, Watermelon, debuts tomorrow. It’s made with real watermelon. And there’s a great half-price deal.

    The new sweet-and-tart treat is watermelon frozen yogurt topped with fresh watermelon purée, diced watermelon and diced cucumbers.

    If cucumbers sound strange here, they’re actually a close relative of watermelon. Both are members of the Cucurbitaceae plant family. Taste the white watermelon rind—it tastes like cucumber (and because we like cucumbers, we eat that white rind!).

    You can have it without the cucumber, of course. And you can enjoy the new flavor for half price during Watermelon Happy Hour: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily at all Pinkberry locations. During Happy Hour you can have any size and configuration of Watermelon Pinkberry (cone, swirl, side-by-side) for half price.

    You can be certain that we’ll be ready and waiting for our first serving at 5 p.m.

    Pinkberry is made from nonfat yogurt, from milk that is rBST-free. Watermelon Pinkberry will be available for eight weeks, or until supplies run out.

    It’s only here for a short time, so gather ye watermelon rosebuds while ye may. Here’s the store locator.

    Find more of our favorite frozen delights, plus recipes, in our Gourmet Ice Cream & Yogurt Section.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Lemonade Recipe

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

    Why purchase bottled lemonade or mixes, when it’s so easy to make better-tasting homemade lemonade from fresh-squeezed lemons? The difference is night and day.

    This recipe makes fifteen 8-ounce glasses of fresh lemonade. You can adjust the sweetening to your own taste.

  • For a zero-calorie drink, use non-caloric sweetener.
  • For a low-glycemic drink, use agave nectar.
  • You can also use this recipe to make fresh limeade.
  • And varying the garnishes makes the recipe “new” each time.
  • A shot of vodka or gin turns lemonade into a splendid cocktail.
  •  

    Take advantage of the short fresh cherry
    season to add bright color and sweet flavor
    to your lemonade. Photo courtesy Cherry
    Marketing Institute.

     

    LEMONADE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6 large lemons at room temperature)
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 cup of table sugar or equivalent (agave, honey, non-caloric sweetener, simple syrup)
  • Ice
  • Garnish: berries, cherries, lemon wheel, mint leaves, watermelon cubes
  • Optional: straws
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Roll lemons on the counter before squeezing, to maximize the juice output.

    2. Combine water, juice and the three-quarters of the sweetener in a pitcher and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust sweetness bit by bit. The objective is to keep the lemon flavor first and foremost and not make sugar the first thing you taste. It’s better to under-sweeten than over-sweeten: People can always add more sweetener to suit their individual taste.

    3. Regular table sugar doesn’t dissolve easily in cold water. A better solution is superfine sugar or simple syrup (easy to make).

    4. Add ice to glasses and fill with lemonade and garnish. Ideally, chill the lemonade prior to serving so it will be cold and require less ice (or no ice), which dilutes the flavor. You can also use one of our favorite tips: make lemonade ice cubes.

    5. To garnish: Slice an extra lemon into wheels and cut notches so they sit on rim of glasses. You can also notch watermelon cubes. Or, fit a straw through the larger fruit such as watermelon and strawberries).

      

    Comments

    VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Grilling

    Don’t freestyle—learn how to grill like
    a pro. Photo by Anastazzo | IST.

     

    With a summer of grilling opportunities ahead, THE NIBBLE has videos to help you perfect your technique:

  • How to grill the perfect burger over coals
  • How to grill a burger on a gas grill
  • How to grill perfect lamb chops
  • How to grill a perfect ribeye steak
  • How to grill the perfect sirloin steak
  • How to grill a porterhouse on a charcoal grill or a gas grill
  • Check out these tasty videos in our Videos Section. The grilling videos are in Player 1 under the tab “Techniques On The Grill.”

    Take a look 15 recipes from the Grilling Hall Of Fame of Crisco No-Stick Cooking Sprays.

    Comments

    JULY 4th: Which Beer To Serve?

    Americans like to celebrate their independence with beer:

    July 4th is the biggest beer-selling holiday in the country. Supermarkets alone are projected to sell 24 million cases for a total of $41 billion in retail sales.

    If you’re serving beer, look for craft brews for thematic names:

  • Samuel Adams, is available in most places.
  • Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia makes Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale, based on Jefferson’s original recipe.
  • What could be more perfect than Independence Pale Ale, from Independence Brewing in Austin, Texas.
  • Enlist the celebrants to sign the Declaration Of Beer Independence.
  • You also can contemplate George Washington’s own hand-written recipe for beer (the original is in a notebook owned by the New York Public Library):

    Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste. — Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask — leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working — Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed.”

    That’s too much work for us—we’ll just head for the Samuel Adams in the fridge.

    Enjoy THE NIBBLE’s Beer Glossary.

     

    Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and
    George Washington loved their beer! Photo
    courtesy Yards Brewing Company.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: July 4th Burgers

    What’s between the bun? Not beef! Photo
    courtesy Rudi’s Organic Bakery.

     

    Celebrate your independence on July 4th by grilling ground meat other than beef. We’re not talking turkey burgers, but:

  • Bison (buffalo) burgers (see the difference between bison and buffalo)
  • Elk burgers
  • Lamb burgers
  • Ostrich burgers
  • Venison burgers
  • They may not be familiar between-the-bun choices, but they’re terrific and also healthier than beef—lower in fat, calories and cholesterol. (In fact, we prefer them to beef burgers.)

    Check with your butcher, or consider a sampler pack from Blackwing Quality Meats, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week and North America’s leading producer of certified organic meats.

    A seven-pound sampler of tender, delicious “alternative” ground meats includes all of the varieties above plus Piedmontese beef, a uniquely lean and tender heirloom cattle breed that originated 25,000 years ago in the foothills of the Italian Alps.

  • Check out the sampler at iGourmet.com (search for “ground sampler”).
  • Want to stick with beef? Snazz it up with our 35+ burger recipes: more than a month’s worth of different ways to serve a burger.
  • Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Coffee Candy

    Yesterday’s posts focused on tea. Now coffee gets its turn—in the form of coffee candy.

    The artisans at How Do You Take Your Coffee?, a confectioner in Reno, Nevada, like their coffee so much that they freshly roast their own beans prior to making four different types of coffee candy.

    The candies are innovative and sure to please the coffee lover—and the chocolate lover, too, since there’s a touch of chocolate in each.

    The line is very different from Caffe Acapella coffee bars, a prior Top Pick Of The Week. Caffe Acapella make a chocolate bar-like product that’s all coffee.

    How Do You Take Your Coffee? has bite-size candies—like the Java Rocks in the photo plus coffee and chocolate in a candy shell (think coffee M&Ms). The company uses fairly-traded coffee beans to make its products.

  • Check out the four different types of coffee candy line in the full review.
  • Find more of our favorite candies in our Gourmet Candy Section.
  •  

    Java indeed rocks in this line of coffee
    candy. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

    Comments

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