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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 July, 2010

WINE: Pairing Wines With Casual Food

Take-out food with a good, affordable wine
makes for a pleasant evening. Photo
by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

 

We live in New York City, perhaps the take-out food capital of the world. Most times, you can’t a single city block without finding something to take out.

But every town has its favorite take-out spots. In a survey conducted by Turning Leaf wine, 38% of respondents nationwide said that Friday night—after a long week—was their favorite night for take-out food.

Most Americans enjoy their take-out on the sofa or the dining table. We recommend adding a nice glass of wine to the experience. Here are Turning Leaf’s take-out-and-wine pairing suggestions:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: cheeseburger, cheese pizza, meatball hero
  • Chardonnay: grilled cheese, spring rolls, mozzarella sticks
  • Merlot: dumplings, gyro, veggie burger
  • Pinot Grigio: garlic knots, miso soup, tortilla soup
  • Pinot Noir: falafel, taco, salmon roll sushi
  • Riesling: chicken tikka masala, pad thai, spicy tuna roll
  • Sauvignon Blanc: broccoli with garlic sauce, green curry, seaweed salad
  • White Zinfandel: California roll, General Tso’s chicken, rainbow roll
  • But you can freestyle: We enjoyed Turning Leaf’s Merlot with Szechuan noodles and a chicken breast on microgreens with a classic vinaigrette. The Turning Leaf Pinot Grigio went well with most Asian foods that would invite a white wine. The Turning Leaf Chardonnay, which has a lot of minerality in addition to ripe California fruit, stands up to bold flavors.

    Find our favorite special-occasion wines in our Wine Section.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hot Fudge Cupcake Icing

    This week we visited the website of Saint Cupcake, a cupcake bakery in Portland, Oregon.

    In addition to buttercream and cream cheese frostings, the busy bakers came up with a third concept: icing cupcakes by dipping them in chocolate sauce (a.k.a. hot fudge).

    We like that idea—especially since our Top Pick Of The Week is Sassy Sauce’s delicious line of chocolate sauces (and caramel sauces).

    A good chocolate sauce is like fudge-in-a-jar. Chocolate sauce becomes “hot fudge” (as opposed to calling it “hot chocolate”) when it’s heated to a liquid consistency. (There is no official definition of “hot fudge”; see our Dessert Sauce Glossary for details.)

    To create our own hot fudge cupcake topping, we first tried using Sassy Sauce’s chocolate sauces (in Bittersweet, Peanut Butter, Spicy and Milk Chocolate Caramel) right from the jar at room temperature. In another test, we warmed the sauce slightly—10 seconds in the microwave.

     

    We copied Saint Cupcake’s idea. Here, a
    peanut butter cupcake frosted with
    chocolate sauce and garnished with peanuts.
    Photo courtesy SaintCupcake.com.

    While we didn’t achieve the glossy sheen of Saint Cupcake’s version, both results were absolutely delicious.

  • Check out our recipe for dark chocolate cupcakes and preheat the oven!
  • Prefer buttercream or cream cheese cupcake frosting? Here are recipes.
  • How about some easy cupcake decorating ideas?
  • Comments

    NEWS: No Soup For You—Not

    Soup will be dished out more cheerfully at
    the reopened location of the original Soup
    Nazi. Photo courtesy OriginalSoupman.com.

     

    As many soup lovers are aware, the International Soup Kitchen immortalized 15 years ago on “Seinfeld” (the episode was first broadcast on November 2, 1995) is a real place. The small, modest storefront has stood since 1974 at 259A West 55th Street in Manhattan, just east of Eighth Avenue.

    After the place, its owner and the Larry David-penned catchphrase, “No soup for you!” entered the national consciousness, a group of investors enlisted owner Al Yageneh (who abhorred being called the ‘Soup Nazi’) to turn his name and likeness into a franchise operation. The first The Original Soupman store opened in 2004.

    The franchise did not find the same success as the little shop on West 55th Street. Outside of New York City, people resisted paying $7.00 for a cup of soup. Some franchises closed, including the first The Original Soupman store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Others are still ladling out the soup.

    Now, the original International Soup Kitchen location, which has been shuttered since 2004, is reopening as The Original Soupman.

    Al Yageneh will not be in the kitchen, behind the counter or even at hand. Instead, baseball great Reggie Jackson and Chef Dan Rubano will be there to cut the ribbon—with a chef’s knife instead of a scissors.

    What will the soup be like without the original soupman at the helm? We’ll drop by to check it out—but not on opening day, when Reggie Jackson and the draw of free tee shirts will have lines wrapping around the block.

    The ribbon cutting is at noon on Tuesday, July 20th. If you want to be part of the opening day crowd, show up between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. But if you want to meet Reggie and get a shirt, come early. Otherwise: No shirt for you—and no Reggie, either.

    Comments

    RECIPE: Liven Up Your Salad

    Not sure what to do with that head of lettuce or bag of salad greens? Want some inspiration beyond croutons and grated cheese? Fruit can go a long way toward helping your salad sing.

    Everyday fruits such as apples, grapes, oranges and grapefruit, are excellent ingredients. But you can follow your palate and add anything from seasonal fruits to exotics such as star fruit. Here’s an easy yet absolutely delicious salad recipe:

    Ingredients

  • 1 bunch leafy greens (we love the flavor of mixed
    microgreens)
  • 1 sweet apple such as Fuji or Golden Delicious, sliced into matchsticks
  • Half fennel bulb sliced thin and soaked in water to retain crispness
  • Pinch salt and pepper to taste
  • Handful of sautéed grapes or 1 sliced orange
  • ¼ cup walnuts or almonds chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • Favorite salad vinaigrette*

    *We love 1 part yuzu mixed with 3 parts olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

  •  

    Our fruit-accented salad pairs well with
    baked or grilled proteins. Photo by
    Jerry Deutsch | THE NIBBLE.

    Preparation
    1. Sauté grapes in a pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until the grape skins wrinkle.
    2. Mix apples with grapes and any citrus fruits you’re including in the salad. The acid from oranges or grapefruit will keep the apples from oxidizing and turning brown. Otherwise, toss the sliced apples in some lemon juice, or wait until the last minute to slice them.
    3. Stir all other ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Do not season with salt and pepper and do not dress until ready to serve.
    4. When ready to serve, add fruit, season with salt and pepper and dress with your favorite vinaigrette. Toss and serve.

    Find other great salad ideas in our Gourmet Vegetables Section.

    Comments

    RECIPE: Deconstructed Margarita

    One of the three shots in a deconstructed
    Margarita. Photo courtesy Sauza.

     

    For cocktail fun this weekend, try this deconstructed Margarita.

    Deconstruction means taking something apart. In the case of deconstructed food, creative chefs and mixologists deconstruct a familiar recipe to present the ingredients in a new and exciting way.

    In this recipe, the Margarita is deconstructed into three cocktail shots: a shot of reposado tequila, a shot of sweetened lime juice and a shot of citrus foam. You take a sip of each to “reconstruct” the drink.

  • Get the recipe and start mixing!
  • See more deconstructed cocktails.
  • Find more Margarita recipes—Frozen Grape Margarita, Melon Margarita, Smoky Margarita as well as classic recipes.
  • Try a deconstructed spring roll.
  • How about deconstructed potato salad?
  • You’ll love this deconstructed Caesar Salad.
  • Have fun deconstructing!

    Comments

    RECIPE: Dirt Cake With Gummy Worms

    Oops: National Gummy Worm Day, which was yesterday, flew by before we had a chance to post this recipe.

    The dessert, “Dirt In A Box,” was created by Ruby Foo’s restaurant in Times Square, New York City. It’s a no-cook “dirt pudding” or trifle, decorated with Gummy Worms.

    You can make the recipe more elaborate, or turn it into a dirt cake, by preparing it in a small casserole or cake pan. Our preference is to use a small, clean flowerpot (we ran ours through the dishwasher).

  • Get the recipe and plan to surprise your family. Just don’t wait a year until the next official Gummy Worms Day.
  • You’ll also learn the history of Gummy (Gummi) Worms.
  • Find our favorite products in our Kids’ Foods Section.
  • Find more dessert recipes in our Desserts Section.
  •  

    While we’d prefer a flowerpot, a box
    works just fine. Photo courtesy Ruby Foo’s.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chicken Safety

    When purchasing meat and poultry, you need a plan. Cook it or freeze it: Those are your choices with fresh chicken. Whether whole or in parts, the chicken should be cooked or frozen within two days.

    While it’s difficult to throw out “good food,” if you’ve exceeded the two days, it’s best to err on the side of safety and dispose of raw chicken. If the chicken is cooked, the same two-day rule applies: You can safely freeze chicken within two days of cooking.

    Cooked or raw chicken can be stored for six months in the freezer, properly wrapped in freezer paper and plastic wrap or in containers suitable for freezing.

    Find our favorite chicken products and a coop full of recipes in our Gourmet Poultry Section.

     

    Cook it or freeze it. Photo © Lobel’s Of New York.

    Comments

    KITCHENWARE: Watermelon Knife

    Get one for yourself and one as a gift.
    Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

    The most whimsical gift for the summer season must be this nonstick Melon Knife from Swiss premium cookware manufacturer Kuhn Rikon. Not only is it a conversation piece; it makes it easy to safely slice through thick melon skins.

    With function and flare, this handy kitchen tool with an 11″ serrated blade cuts the largest of melons (and small ones, too) easily.

    Made of high-quality Japanese carbon steel, the blade has a nonstick coating. The seed-shaped cut-outs prevent sticking and help the sliced melon slide off the blade easily. The ergonomic handle helps to maintain a firm grip while applying pressure to cut through tough melon skins.

    The red safety sheath makes the knife easy to store and to transport to picnics.

    The Melon Knife is sold at specialty stores and online retailers such as Williams-Sonoma (search for “watermelon knife” or order by phone at 1.877.812.6235). The suggested retail price is $24.95.

    Find more of our favorite kitchen gadgets.

    Comments

    FAST FOOD: Wendy’s For Salad

    Many Americans want healthier foods and more veggies in their diet. Yet, many of us are in a rush and prefer to grab grub at fast food restaurants.

    Wendy’s has merged the two concepts with its reinvented Garden Sensation Salads line: a fresh and flavorful quartet featuring Apple Pecan Chicken, BLT Cobb, Spicy Chicken Ceasar and Baja.

    The goal was to bring the quality of a restaurant salad to fast food so each salad is made to order. There’s no premade salad waiting in a refrigerator case. As a result, the warm chicken, bacon and other proteins make these freshly-made salads real comfort food, as well as a fiber- and vitamin-packed meal.

    We recently tasted three of the four new salads, and give them a thumbs-up. Each contains one-to-two cups of vegetables. Atop a mixture of crunchy romaine and other lettuces and greens are:

     

    Three of four fast salads, made to order.
    Photo courtesy Wendy’s.

  • Apple Pecan Chicken: This fan favorite combines fresh-grilled chicken, chopped red and green apples, crumbled blue cheese, dried cranberries and spiced pecans.
  • Baja Salad: Instead of chili with a side salad, here the chili and cheese go atop the salad. Pico de gallo, guacamole and tortilla chips add south-of-the-border flavors.
  • BLT Cobb Salad: Our personal favorite—we’re happy to know that we can enjoy a Cobb Salad wherever our travels take us. The ingredients include grilled chicken, crispy applewood smoked bacon, crumbled blue cheese, hard-cooked eggs and tomatoes. Avocado, an ingredient in the classic Cobb Salad, appears here in the form of avocado ranch dressing.
  • Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad: We didn’t try this one, but Caesar salad fans are in for a treat. The Asiago cheese is fresh shaved—no powdery Parmesan from a can; the croutons are made from baguettes.
  • Next time you want a crunchy salad for lunch—or are having a snack attack—you can head to Wendy’s. The chain will continue to offer its Garden Side Salad and Caesar Side Salad.

    Find more of our favorite salads and recipes in our Vegetables & Salads Section.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Freeze Meat

    Save your investment: Freeze meat properly!
    Photo courtesy Allen Brothers.

     

    Do you purchase meat and toss it straight into the freezer in the flimsy packaging it came in? If so, you’re leaving it subject to freezer burn— dehydration and oxidation from the air that gets in through non-airtight packaging.

    Follow these steps to conserve that pricey meat:

    1. Discard the supermarket packaging.
    2. Rewrap the meat tightly with plastic food wrap or aluminum foil.
    3. Place it in a heavy-duty plastic freezer bag. While sealing the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible.
    4. Remember to slowly defrost the meat in the fridge prior to cooking (see why in this prior post).
    5. You can re-use the heavy-duty plastic freezer bag—it’s environmentally-friendly and cost-saving. Wash the bag with soap and water, rinse thoroughly and invert it on a tall bottle to dry.

    Want to know more about the cuts of meat? See our:

  • Beef Glossary
  • Lamb Glossary
  • Pork Glossary
  • Find our favorite meats and recipes in our Gourmet Meats Section.

    Comments

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