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Archive for August, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream Cone Tips

A marshmallow in the tip means no drip.
Photo by Agg | Dreamstime.

To keep an ice cream cone from dripping, stuff a miniature marshmallow or two into the bottom of the cone. It will plug up the tip so that ice cream doesn’t drip through.

Want to make fancy dipped ice cream cones, like the ones sold at ice cream shops?



  • 8 old-fashioned sugar cones
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening
  • Decoration: chocolate chips, shredded coconut, sprinkles, chopped nuts, miniature candies, etc.
1. Set out 8 glasses to hold the cones until they set. Place decorations on a small plate (you’ll be dipping the cone into them).
2. Add chocolate and shortening to a medium bowl or double boiler. Set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth.
3. Remove bowl from water pan. Let chocolate stand until cool enough to work with, about 5 minutes.
4. Dip wide end of ice cream cone into chocolate. Rotate to create a 1/4-inch chocolate rim. Hold cone upside-down until the chocolate is almost set (about 10 seconds).
5. Roll chocolate into the decoration, pressing gently as needed to adhere.
6. Place cone into glass to set.

Makes 8 cones. The cones can be prepared a week in advance; wrap each cone individually with plastic to maintain crispness. If possible, store in an airtight container.


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FOOD FACTS: For Mayonnaise Lovers

Unlike mustard, pickles and other condiments that are essentially the same as at the time of their invention, mayonnaise evolved into something quite different.

The “original” mayonnaise was a sauce served at a banquet following the 1756 Battle of Mahón, a city on the island of Minorca in the Mediterranean. The new recipe was named “sauce Mahónnaise” by the chef, in honor of the French victory.

Over the years, the sauce underwent an evolution. The mayonnaise we know was developed by the great French chef Marie-Antoine Carême, founder of the concept of haute cuisine. If not for Carême, the sandwich spread and binder for the tuna salad and potato salad that we love might not exist.

The brilliant Carême also developed the “mother sauce” system of French cuisine; mille-feuille pastry used to make napoleon pastry; éclairs; meringue cookies; and charlottes, among other contributions.

Can’t live without mayo? Give thanks to
Marie-Antoine Carême. Photo by © Robyn Mac | Fotolia.


NEWS: Bottled Tea Can Be Low On Antioxidants

A good choice: Snapple shows the milligrams
of tea polyphenols on its bottle labels. They
are equivalent to a cup of home-brewed tea.
Photo courtesy Snapple.

Bottled tea is a $1 billion industry in the United States. In the past decade, many people have switched to it from soft drinks because of the antioxidant-generated health benefits. (The antioxidants are in black, green and white tea. Red tea—rooibos—and other herbal teas don’t contain them.)

Yet a new study has found that the majority of bottled teas bought at the supermarket contain far lower levels of tea polyphenols (the specific antioxidants) than tea that is brewed at home.

In fact, says the study, some bottled tea brands contain such small amounts of polyphenols that one would have to drink 20 bottles to get an amount equal to the polyphenols found in one cup of home-brewed tea. (Learn more about polyphenols in our Antioxidant Glossary.)

The statement was released on Sunday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society. The study was conducted by researchers Shiming Li and Chi-Tang Ho of WellGen, Inc., a biotechnology company in North Brunswick, New Jersey. The brands were not identified in the statement, but publication of the full study is anticipated.

The six teas analyzed contained 81, 43, 40, 13, 4, and 3 milligrams of polyphenols per 16-ounce bottle. One average cup of home-brewed green or black tea contains 50-150 milligrams of polyphenols. The teas below that threshhold contain amounts so small, the researchers say, that they likely offer little or no health benefits.

Senior scientist Li stated that “there is a huge gap between the perception that tea consumption is healthy and the actual amount of the healthful nutrients—polyphenols—found in bottled tea beverages. Our analysis of tea beverages found that the polyphenol content is extremely low.”

Li added that consumers buying commercially bottled teas may actually be spending money on substances detrimental to health, including sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

Will this lead to consumer demand that the polyphenols be printed on the nutrition labels? We hope so! Snapple justifies its claim, “Made from the best stuff on earth,” by displaying the polyphenol count on each bottle. Most of its teas have more than 50 mg per serving, and quite a few have 71 mg—nicely into the range of home-brewed tea.

After water, tea is the world’s most highly-consumed beverage.


TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Dessert Sauce

When you need a quick topping for cake, pie or bread pudding, melt a pint of premium French vanilla ice cream (made with egg yolks).

  • Melt a pint (2 cups) of ice cream at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
  • Stir in 2 ounces (jiggers) of bourbon.
  • Serve cold, at room temperature or slightly warmed.


Coffee and chocolate ice cream also work as sauces, and you can match coffee liqueur, chocolate liqueur, rum or other spirit that picks up accents in your dessert.

You also can serve these sumptuous sauces in liqueur glasses as part of the dessert courses:

Add a glass to the dessert plate, serve as “chasers” to the dessert or right before coffee.

French-style ice cream does double duty
as a sauce. Photo courtesy Haagen-Dazs.


PRODUCT: Gourmet Hot Sauce

Dixie Heat is one of our new favorite hot
sauce brands. Photo by Katharine Pollak |

If you enjoy enjoy Tabasco as a food condiment, you should try some of the small-batch, artisan hot sauces on the market.

We try dozens of hot sauces each year. Some are just hot (or scorching!), others have so much flavor that they are astonishing.

We never thought we’d be happy with a product called Louisiana Swamp Scum, but its combination of heat, smoke and vinegar is something special.

The other hot sauces have very different flavor profiles, but similarly colorful names: Dixie Delight, Dixie Heat and Happy Dogs Hot Sauce (the label features a homey photo montage of the creator’s dogs).

Put these inexpensive hot-and-tasty sauces on your gift list. The small bottles have big impact.


TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Liquorice (That’s Licorice Candy From Australia)

Licorice is a “healthier candy”: no cholesterol, no salt.

Most Americans have had the pleasure of a bag of red licorice. Yet we’ve learned that red, chocolate and any color licorice but black isn’t licorice. To be real licorice—and enjoy its health benefits—there must be licorice root extract, which creates black candy.

That’s only one of the discoveries in our review of Kookaburra licorice from Australia (it’s spelled liquorice in the U.K. and its former territories). Aussies simply outdo American manufacturers in making superior licorice. It has more robust flavor, a better chew and a lower, more adult level of sweetness.

In addition to the product review, you’ll follow the story of licorice, whose roots were chewed as well as made into teas as a health remedy, by the Pharoahs, the Caesars and Napoleon Bonaparte—who chewed so much licorice root for his digestive disorders that his teeth turned black!

This seriously good licorice will win many
fans. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

There’s no worry about black teeth with modern licorice candies: only a delightful, chewy time. Kookaburra’s Allsorts, Taffy Licorice and Licorice Caramels rock our boat.



PRODUCT: Kitchen Tongs = Salad Tongs

Our Orka kitchen tongs go from counter
to table. (Color availability will vary.)

Many people use salad servers—a long fork-and-spoon set—to serve salad. They’re not the simplest utensils to use neatly.

Over time, the fork and spoon have been joined together by some manufacturers to create salad tongs. (Food tongs comprise two arms that are hinged or otherwise joined together, for seizing, holding or lifting foods.)

But do you need separate salad tongs? Given the attractiveness of some kitchen tongs (made for cooking, not serving), we don’t think so. Handsome kitchen tongs like these from Orka can be used for cooking or serving.

We ditched the salad servers and use a pair of kitchen tongs at THE NIBBLE table. Specifically, we use these Orka 12-inch stainless steel tongs with silicone tips. They’re the same tongs used to flip or lift food. They take up less space and add a high-tech look to the table.

Orka also makes “salad tongs”—two separate pieces of the fork/spoon variety (which should not be called tongs, per the definition above). But for a good grip and neater serving, we prefer the kitchen tongs. Try it with your kitchen tongs.



PRODUCT: Make Infused Water

If you enjoy fruit-flavored water, you can make it at home, saving money and the environment (those plastic bottles pile up in landfill forever).

Several companies make products that make it easy to create infused water.

  • Bodum’s Ceylon Tea Pitcher is an acrylic pitcher with a filter that was originally designed to brew tea. We prefer to use it to infuse water with the flavor from sliced cucumbers, grapefruit, lemons, limes, melon, oranges, whole strawberries and other fruits, plus mint leaves or other herbs. Price: $19.35 for the 50-ounce size, $25.51 for the jumbo 102-ounce size. We use it in THE NIBBLE kitchen; the slim shape and smaller size option lets us fit it into our packed refrigerator.
  • The central column in Prodyne’s Fruit Infusion Pitcher turns the fruit into a lovely attraction. The 92-ounce capacity provides plenty of infused water. Price: $23.94.
  • Jokari makes the Healthly Steps Water Infuser, a large plastic infusing ball that fits inside almost any pitcher to keep the fruit contained. Price: $6.00.

Infuse your own water with fresh fruit. This
Prodyne infusing pitcher makes fruit the
focal point.

An acrylic pitcher won’t hold up like a glass pitcher, but it’s far lighter. When filled with water, that’s a benefit for kids and others who don’t enjoy heavy lifting.

By the way, if you like sweetened infused water, just add your sweetener of choice.



GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Tribe Origins Hummus

All flavors except Original have a zesty
topping that is attractive as well as flavorful.
Photo courtesy

Love hummus? Looking for a healthy way to get your family to eat more veggies or healthier snacks? Want something other than chips to serve with wine or beer?

Serve a variety of crudités (raw vegetables) with new Tribe Origins hummus and tell them to dip away! One winner will get to taste the entire line of Tribe Origins hummus.

Following extensive consumer taste tests, Tribe created the new Tribe Origins line to be extra-creamy and smooth. The flavors include Classic, Spicy Red Pepper, Tomato & Veggie and Zesty Spice & Garlic Hummus. We loved them all.

Three of the four flavors feature a generous serving of toppings, making Tribe Origins attractive for entertaining. This vegan food is also a great source of fiber, protein and iron.

The line is certified kosher by OU.

Retail value: Approximately $20.00


TIP OF THE DAY: Salad Ideas In Miniature

It’s easy to make salad more interesting and get everyone to eat more healthy salad.

Packaging is everything, the saying goes. Whether it’s an everyday dinner salad or a special occasion, the same ingredients that look flat on a plate or in a bowl sparkle in glass.

  • Use small cuts. Cut ingredients into smaller pieces that fit into a rocks glass. Thin-sliced vegetables not only fit into the glass better; they look elegant. Cherry and grape tomatoes can be cut in half.
  • Vary the greens. Add mystique with something different. Vary the standard iceberg and romaine lettuces with baby arugula, baby spinach, curly leaf lettuce and whatever else you can find.
  • Add an herb. In addition to a pinch of salt and some fresh-ground pepper, snip some fresh herbs into the mix. Any herb will do. If you don’t have fresh herbs, try oregano, rosemary or thyme from the pantry. (Basil and parsley, two of our fresh favorites, don’t have as much panache as some other herbs when dried.)
  • Add a surprise ingredient. Beans, beets, cheese, corn kernels, fennel, slivers of fresh or dried fruit, nut halves, olives and pickles are just a few items that add different flavors, textures and colors.

Curly leaf lettuce, radishes, kirby cucumbers
and quail eggs get a dual garnish of chives
and dill. Photo © Sarsmis | Fotolia.

  • Use a vinaigrette. Heavy dressings don’t work here. Keep the sparkle going with this simple recipe: three tablespoons of heart-healthy olive oil or avocado oil to one tablespoon of vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice or verjus taste right on fresh greens. Add a pinch of prepared or dry mustard or some hot sauce, or flavored oil or vinegar, to change it up.


And what if your family loves the mini salads so much they want more? Pass the salad bowl and tongs!

Find more salad recipes in our Gourmet Vegetables Section. And post your favorite salad tips.



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