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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

PRODUCT: The Wine Diaper

Flying with wine? Consider a Wine
Diaper. Photo courtesy WineDiaper.com.

 

Are you a wine lover who needs to fly with a bottle of wine (or whiskey or other bottle larger than three ounces)?

Some people remember a gentler time when you’d just hand-carry precious bottles into the cabin and tuck them into the overhead bin.

Today, when any liquid is classified as a potential bomb ingredient, wine needs to be checked with the luggage, subjected to freezing temperatures and yes, breakage.

To all of those who’ve said, “We just wrap the wine bottles in our tee-shirts and have never have a problem”: We wish them continued good fortune.

For the rest of us, the Wine Diaper is an alternative to bulkier, padded leak-proof wine totes.

What exactly is a Wine Diaper?

The Wine Diaper is an almost flat, heavy plastic wine bag with a built-in handle. The plastic is lined with a hyperabsorbent diaper-like material that cradles your precious bottle and catches any leaks (in the non-pressurized baggage compartment, air pressure can force some wine through the cork). Even if the bottle breaks in shipment, the Wine Diaper’s manufacturer claims it will contain everything within its freezer bag-type seal.

The price is three bags for $15, 10 bags for $40. Unless there’s an accident, the bags can be reused in perpetuity (or at least, for many trips). Find out more at WineDiaper.com.

While the design is a bit cutesy, it can serve as a wine gift bag (be sure to include a bottle of wine).

Learn more about wine in our Wine Section, including wine and cheese pairings and identifying the aromas and flavors of wine.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Put A Shrimp On The Barbie

Do you need your arm twisted to eat more shrimp? We don’t—yet, except for special occasions, we don’t think to cook it.

Major health organizations suggest that Americans eat seafood at least twice a week, which would add up to approximately 39 pounds per person yearly. But the average American eats just 16 pounds of fish and shellfish annually.

Meanwhile, we chow down on an average of more than 110 pounds of red meat and 70 pounds of poultry. To “beef down” your red meat meals and beef up your seafood intake, here are some tips from The Shrimp Council:

• It is less expensive to buy shrimp in the shell and peel and devein it yourself. It’s easy to do with a shrimp deveiner tool.

• If you’re grilling shrimp, buy shrimp in the shell to help lock in the moisture.

• Frozen shrimp is more affordable than fresh shrimp, and works just as well in many dishes (barbecue shrimp, curry, fried shrimp [try beer batter and coconut batter], pasta, scampi, seafood stew, shrimp salad, skewers, soup, stir-frys and much more).

 

Shrimp is a welcome way to enjoy the
government-recommended two seafood
servings a week. Photo courtesy FireAndFlavor.com.

 

• Shrimp are properly cooked when their color turns from brownish-gray to the famililar orangey-pink and the meat becomes opaque. But don’t overcook it: Shrimp should have just a slight curl. When they curl tightly inwards, the flesh becomes rubbery.

For tastiest results using frozen shrimp:

1. Thaw the shrimp in the refrigerator one full day before you plan to cook them. Place the container in the refrigerator on a low shelf. (NOTE: Keep all raw foods on the lowest shelf and cooked foods on higher shelves to prevent any contamination from raw juices dripping onto cooked food.)

2. Let shrimp defrost slowly for about 24 hours in a container covered lightly with plastic wrap, then remove any liquid that has collected in the packaging or the container. Use within one day.

3. Quick Thawing Technique: If you can closely monitor the shrimp, place it in a leak-proof plastic bag (if it is not in one already.) Submerge the shrimp in cold tap water and change the water every 30 minutes until it has defrosted. Do not try to hasten the process with warm water or hot water because the shrimp will begin to cook. Cook immediately after thawing.

NIBBLE TIP: Save the shrimp shells and use them in other recipes. Details.

  

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FATHER’S DAY: Golf Ball Cupcakes

The best golf ball cupcake we’ve seen,
from FamousCupcakes.com.

 

This is the best golf cupcake we’ve seen, created by Famous Cupcakes in Los Angeles.

If you’re not in the neighborhood, you can make similar cupcakes at home. The key is finding chocolate golf balls. You can look for them online; we buy them from Woodhouse Chocolate). (If you think this recipe will become part of your repertoire, you can make your own with a golf ball mold.)

You’ll also need some brand-new golf tees. Follow Famous Cupcake’s design and aim for red tees, which add bright color to the cupcake composition. Any flavor of cupcake will do, but think of what goes well with coconut.

Then:

1. Make the “grass.” Put shredded coconut in a small bowl with green food color and mix with a fork. Spread the coconut on a plate, baking sheet or in a pan to dry.

2. Frost cupcakes lightly with green-tinted buttercream—just enough frosting to enable the coconut to adhere. Prior to tinting the buttercream, reserve some to adhere the golf balls.

3. Lightly tap the coconut onto the icing. Insert the (washed) tee and use icing to adhere the chocolate golf ball. Royal icing will make it adhere more firmly than buttercream.

4. Serve to delighted golfers.

Find more recipes in our Gourmet Cakes Section.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Glamorous Cupcakes In Minutes

What’s the hottest cake in America? The cupcake!

If you live in a large city, no doubt cupcake boutiques are sprouting up like wildflowers.

Here’s how you can serve the cupcakes people want to eat, while adding glamorous toppings that make the cupcakes taste even better:

We have three pages of cupcake decorating ideas that use everyday supermarket items (and a few from baking specialty stores).

You can even set out different decorations and let people design their own cupcakes (a fun party concept).

Check out the ideas and plan a special plate of cupcakes for Father’s Day.

 

Take cupcakes from plain to pizazz with
simple, but elegant toppings like caramel corn.
Photo by Zac Williams | Pink Princess Cupcakes Cookbook.

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Porchetta, King Of Pork

Porchetta (por-KET-tah) is an entire pig that has been boned, stuffed and slowly roasted. The skin is very crisp, the garlicky stuffing is very flavorful* and the meat…ah, the meat! If you dream of great pork, it’s the stuff dreams are made of. After the first bite, you’ll be dreaming of it for the rest of your life.

*A mixture of fennel seed, garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, sage and other seasonings.

Italians have been enjoying porchetta for some time; mentions in Roman records date back to 400 B.C.E. It was frequently served at Roman banquets and was a favorite of Emperor Nero (37-68 C.E.). Today, the Italian Agricultural Ministry lists porchetta as a prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale, one of the nation’s culturally significant foods.

Porchetta is pure pork paradise. The products from Porchetta Primata, a Kentucky-based company, are the best pork we’ve ever tasted. We discovered the company at a major food trade show. Among some 1,300 exhibitors and 80,000 products, it was the best thing we tasted.

 

With crisp skin, moist meat and garlicky
seasoning, porchetta is a feast. Photo by
Foodlovers | Fotolia.

Even better, the porchetta arrives ready to heat and eat. It can be eaten at room temperature or cold, but the excellent fat tastes better warm.

The meat needs no sauce, but serve it with roasted potatoes and seasonal greens. Broccoli rabe, spinach or Swiss chard, blanched and then sautéed with olive oil and garlic, are good choices. Pour a nice Chianti, a Côtes du Rhône, Pinot Noir or a hearty ale.

• Read the rest of the review to see how we enjoyed our porchetta, plus more photos of the roasts and the entire pig!

• Learn your pork cuts, heirloom pigs and more in our Pork Glossary.

• Find more Top Pick Of The Week Meats.

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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Lobster Day

It’s a holiday for lobster lovers! This Lobster
Cocktail is an easy way to celebrate.
Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

 

It’s National Lobster Day. Celebrate with a lobster lunch or dinner—even a Lobster Cocktail like the simple-but-elegant presentation in the photo.

We have to guide you to one of our favorite easy lobster recipes, this Lobster Cobb Salad from Wolfgang Puck.

Or, make an easy, but elegant lobster cocktail:

1. Toss baby greens (arugula, spinach or packaged baby lettuce) with a fruit-based vinagrette (we used blood orange oil). Add some small basil leaves to the mix for an extra flavor punch.

2. You can also add diced or julienned mango, pineapple, fennel, cucumber and/or sweet onion.

3. Arrange dressed greens in a martini glass and place lobster meat on top. Serve to enthusiastic celebrants of National Lobster Day.

Find reviews of some of our favorite heat-and-eat lobster products, including lobster stew and lobster pot pie.

To get our Daily Food Holidays, many with recipes, sign up at Twitter.com/TheNibble.

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Give Away The Gadgets

If your kitchen gadget drawer is as clogged as most, it’s time to declutter.

Take everything out of your gadget drawer. Sort the gadgets into three piles: use weekly, use monthly, haven’t used in a long time. If you haven’t used an item in year, give it away to someone who needs it (or to the thrift store or a culinary school).

If you think you might shuck oysters again someday, store the knife and glove in a box in the basement, along with the cherry pitter and other specialty items you haven’t used in a dog’s age. If you have four different types of garlic presses (as we did), even if you cook with garlic daily, it’s time to find a new home for the ones you don’t use.

Organize your gadget drawer with dividers available at any kitchen products store. Silverware organizers also work.

 

Is it time to give away that space-hogging
cherry pitter? (On the other hand, if you
need one, you can get this one from OXO.)

And the next time you’re tempted to buy a mango slicer or other limited-use kitchen gadget, ask yourself: Will I use this at least twice a month? If not, think if you really need to devote the space to bringing it home.

We used our mango slicer twice. Stop by THE NIBBLE offices if you need one. We used it to make this mango cheesecake recipe and mango guacamole (add small diced mango cubes to your favorite guacamole recipe). We decided we preferred to slice mango with a knife.

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DISCOUNT: 20% On All Jer’s Products Through July 31st

Peanut butter and chocolate paradise. Photo
courtesy Jers.com.

 

Like peanut butter? Like chocolate?

If you’ve never tried Jer’s chocolate and peanut butter confections, you can sample them at 20% off—a special NIBBLE discount—through the end of July. Just use the code hrblog to take advantage of this discount.

Jerry Swain started in the bonbon business with his Original Incrediball, a center of peanut butter covered with chocolate. Expanding into other versions—with added pretzels, caramel, toffee and other inclusions—the chocolate peanut butter balls are the peanut butter cup lover’s vision of a box of bonbons.

Based on the success of these treats, Jer’s Handmade Chocolate now offers the award-winning combinations in chocolate bar form, as well as in peanut brittle bites. Our favorites are the peanut butter chocolate combinations with pretzels and caramel, but every PB&C lover will have his or her own faves.

Read our review of Jer’s Handmade Chocolate and use your discount at Jers.com.

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GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats & “The Skinnygirl Dish” Book With Recipe Cards

We love bread, and we love companies that figure out how to make it less caloric. That’s why we’re fans of the new 100-calorie Deli Flats from Pepperidge Farm, this week’s Gourmet Giveaway prize sponsor. The winner will receive three packages of Deli Flats, which are easy to substitute for standard bread (and we think, are more fun). We use them as morning toast, for sandwiches and snacks with PB & Polaner Sugar-Free Preserves.

Want some more ideas of how to use the Deli Flats? The winner will also receive a copy of “Real Housewife Of New York” Bethenny Frankel’s latest book: The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes For Your Naturally Thin Life, plus her exclusive sandwich recipe cards for Deli Flats. Check out more of what we did with Deli Flats in THE NIBBLE’s review. (Also check out our review of Bethenny’s Skinnygirl Margarita.)

 

A chicken sandwich on Deli Flats. Photo
courtesy Pepperidge Farm.

  • THE PRIZE: One winner will take home three packages of Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats along with The Skinnygirl Dish book and Ms. Frankel’s exclusive Deli Flats recipe cards. Share the recipes with your carb-watching friends and take turns making delicious, low-carb meals.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Diet Nibbles Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, June 21st at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Marinating Meat

    They taste better marinated, but learn
    how to marinate properly! Photo
    courtesy Kerrigan Meats.

     

    With barbecue season in full swing, many people marinate meat before putting it on the grill. Review this checklist to see if you’re a master of marinating:

    Take The Time

    • To marinate meat, refrigerate it in a self-sealing bag along with marinade, first thing in the morning. By dinnertime it will be ready to grill.

    • If you have the time, it’s best to marinate meats overnight. They can be marinated longer—up to 3 days—but the quality of the meat deteriorates.

    • As a time-saver, you can put meat or poultry into a bag with the marinade and freeze it—just be sure the marinade is cold when you add it. Then the food marinates while it is defrosting in the fridge. Be sure to cook defrosted food within 48 hours.

    Don’t Reuse Marinade

    • Never reuse marinade because of potential bacterial contamination from the raw protein (raw meat leaches the harmful bacteria in it into the marinade; those bacteria would spread to other meats if the marinade were re-used).

    • Generally, the ingredients of marinade are inexpensive enough so that you can prepare another batch. But if you must reuse it—for example, if you’ve run out of marinade and can’t make more—bring the marinade to a rolling boil for three minutes to kill any bacteria. Never reuse the same plastic bag.

    • If you want to use the same batch of marinade on different types of meat (chicken, pork, beef), you can marinate them all together.

    • If you want to use some of your marinade in a gravy, set it apart before marinating the protein—or use the rolling boil method to kill any bacteria.

    Find reviews of our favorite meats, recipes, and more how-to’s in our Gourmet Meats Section.

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