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

TIP OF THE DAY: Improving Bad Bubbly With A Kir


A Kir Royale: blackcurrant liqueur with
Champagne or other sparkling wine.
Photo courtesy Chandon USA.

If you open a bottle of sparkling wine and find it’s not to your liking, there’s no need to drink bitter or too-dry bubbly.

Add a bit of crème de cassis—blackcurrant liqueur—to create the luscious drink known as Kir Royale.

Pour an inch of the liqueur into a flute or other wine glass, then add the sparkling wine. You can use this recipe to turn any still or sparkling white wine into a festive party drink. For a more intense flavor, add more liqueur.

The drink was named after Félix Kir (1876-1968), a mayor of the city of Dijon in Burgundy (the same city of mustard fame). As an apéritif, he added a splash of cassis to Aligote, a local still white wine. The “Kir,” as it was known, became very popular and led to the creation of the Kir Royale, substituting Champagne for still wine.

In addition to the Kir Royale made with crème de cassis and Champagne, the drink has evolved into some 18 delicious versions, including:

  • Kir Imperiale, using crème de framboise (raspberry liqueur) instead of creme de cassis, plus Champagne (or other sparkling wine).
  • Kir Royale à la Pêche, made with crème de pêche (peach liqueur).
  • Kir Royale à la Mûre, with crème de mure (blackcurrant liqueur).

  • Cidre Royal, made with hard cider and Calvados (apple brandy) instead of wine, plus crème de cassis.
  • Communard or Cardinal, made with still red wine instead of white wine.
  • Hibiscus Royal, made with sparkling wine, peach liqueur, raspberry liqueur, and an edible hibiscus flower.
  • Kir Berrichon, from the Berry département in central France, made with red wine and blackberry liqueur (crème de mûre).


  • Kir Bourgogne, made with red wine.
  • Kir Breton, made with Breton cider instead of wine.
  • Kir Normand, made in Normandy, with regular or sparkling cider as the wine and the local Calvados (apple brandy) instead of liqueur.
  • Kir Pamplemousse, made with red grapefruit liqueur and sparkling white wine.
  • Kir Pêche, made with white wine and peach liqueur.
  • Kir Pétillant, made with any sparkling wine (as opposed to the original Champagne.
  • Kir Royale à la Lavande, made with crème de lavande (lavender liqueur).
  • Kir Royale à la Violette, made with crème de violette (violet liqueur).
  • Pink Russian, made with milk and cassis—no wine!
  • Tarantino or Kir-Beer, made with lager or light ale.


We’ve long had a fantasy of trying all of these creations at one event. It would probably have to be a three-day event, with half the recipes tried and ranked on Day 1, and half on Day 2.


The original Kir, white wine and creme de cassis, which begat a dozen variations. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

The “finalists” from both days would compete on Day 3, the winners chosen—and then a restful sleep for all!



RECIPE: Tomato Sorbet

It’s technically still summer, the weather is still warm, tomatoes are still on the vine.

Grab the last tomatoes of the season and make tomato sorbet. If you’re a fan of gazpacho and/or Bloody Marys, you’ll love this recipe.

Tomato sorbet is a savory sorbet—no sweetener. It’s very refreshing. Flavored with herbs, it’s very healthy and low in calories.

When do you eat it?

  • With cocktails, served in miniature cones. Yohay makes mini cones in garlic, salt, and tomato basil flavors.
  • As a first course or palate cleanser, garnished with a fresh basil leaf.
  • With a chilled or room temperature vegetable soup. Serve the soup in a shallow bowl and place a scoop of tomato sorbet in the center of the dish. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs.
  • Freestyle—how would you use it?


See the recipe.


Tomato sorbet photo and recipe courtesy Canard Inc.

Find more ice cream and sorbet recipes in our Ice Cream Section.


TIP OF THE DAY: Storing Egg Yolks

Extra egg yolks? It’s easy to keep them
fresh. Photo by Michael Lorenzo | SXC.

If you have egg yolks that you won’t be using immediately, they’ll keep longer if you store them under a layer of water or milk. Drain off the liquid before using the yolks. Use within five days or freeze.

To freeze egg yolks, you need to keep them from drying out by adding the equivalent of a teaspoon of salt per pint or a tablespoon of sugar or honey.

Another freezing tip: Place one yolk in each compartment of an ice cube tray. (After they freeze, move them to freezer bags.)

What can you do with egg yolks?

Make hollandaise sauce, aïoli or other sauces. You can use yolks to enrich sauces that don’t call for yolks. On the sweet side, there’s crème brûlée, French-style ice cream, mousse and zabaglione.


TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Better Oats Instant Oatmeal

Do you avoid a hot bowl of instant oatmeal each day because it’s just too mushy?

Do you like oatmeal but wish the instant kind were more like stovetop-cooked?

Do you want an easy way to get your daily 48g of whole grain?

Do you want more fiber, cancer-fighting foods, the ability to lower bad cholesterol?

Malt-O-Meal, a company that makes only cereal products, has hit a home run with its new Better Oats line. It has a toothy, not mushy, consistency. No one would know it’s instant oatmeal. We don’t know all of the secrets, but one of them is the inclusion of flaxseed, which adds crunch plus Omega-3 fatty acids.

The variety of choices—classic, brown sugar, chai-spiced, cinnamon, maple, multigrain blend and even a tasty chocolate oatmeal—offer a different flavor for every day of the week. Unlike most instant oatmeal, they aren’t stripped of fiber and nutrients.

Enjoy a better bowl of instant oatmeal.
Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.



TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Cups

A chocolate-lover’s dessert fantasy:
milk and dark chocolate cups filled with
chocolate mousse.Chocolate cups from Godiva.

End dinner with chocolate cups—but not to drink from.

For an easy and elegant dessert at the end of a sumptuous dinner, simply place a scoop of ice cream into a molded chocolate cup. Garnish with a berry and a mint sprig, and you’ve got an impressive crowd-pleaser.

  • Think beyond vanilla and chocolate ice cream to coffee, strawberry, mint and other flavors that pair easily with chocolate.
  • For something really rich, fill the cups with mousse. Here’s Julia Child’s chocolate mousse recipe.
  • We also like a filling of custard topped with fruit.


You can find chocolate cups at specialty food stores and baking supply stores. Or, get the Godiva chocolate cups in the photo. If you’re shopping online, make sure you purchase chocolate cups and not dessert cups.

Crunchy meringue cups can substitute for chocolate cups and are available at specialty food stores plus most French bakeries.

  • Find more of our favorite dessert recipes and product reviews in our Desserts Section.



VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Butternut Squash Soufflé

  An abundance of lovely winter squash is coming into season. Make the most of the bounty with this dessert squash recipe from Amy Topel of

Baked in individual ramekins, this squash soufflé recipe is a lighter alternative to pumpkin pie. You can use butternut squash or any of your favorite winter squash.

  • Here’s a lighter pumpkin pie recipe: Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.
  • Looking for a savory soufflé recipe? Try these Mini Pumpkin Soufflés, baked in the shells of mini pumpkins.
  • For another savory take on squash, check out this Cheesy Butternut Squash Gratin.
  • Take a look at our extensive Squash Glossary and you’ll know the difference between a Buttercup and an Ambercup in no time.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roll Out Cookie Dough The Problem-Free Way

    Have you ever tried to roll out cookie dough only to run into problems? We’ve cut out cookies that tore when we tried to move them to the cookie sheet. Gingerbread men lost arms, snowflakes lost edges; a sad state of affairs.

    With the holiday season soon upon us and many cookies to be baked, pastry chef Gail Dosik of One Tough Cookie has some advice when it comes to working with cookie dough. Says Gail:

    “Many’s the sugar cookie recipe that instructs you to collect the dough, pat it into a disc wrapped in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or so until firm. You are then instructed to roll the dough out. These recipes tell you that now is the time to sink your cookie cutters in and cut desired shapes.

    “What they don’t tell you is that the dough is so soft that it can’t hold any shape, regardless of how many spatulas, shovels or other kitchen accoutrements you’ve purchased to carefully transfer that dough to a cookie sheet. And no matter how careful you are, that gingerbread man is starting to look like Salvadore Dali made him.

    Frustrated with rolling out cookie dough?
    We have the solution. Frankenstein
    cookie cutter available from

    “AAARRRGGGHHH: daunted before you even get to the fun part of decorating. You feel like it’s been a waste of time and ingredients and you don’t know how those cookies are going to get into the oven.”

    The solution, advises Gail, lies in parchment paper.

    1. Take a scoop or two of the dough and place it on a piece of parchment paper. Top with another sheet. Roll dough to desired thickness. Repeat until all dough is rolled out. Use rolling pin bands if you’re not good at judging desired thickness.
    2. Place the sheets of dough in the freezer—not in the refrigerator—for at least 30 minutes. The resting dough relaxes the glutens that have been have stirred up while preparing the dough.
    3. Preheat the oven. Prepare cookie cutters and cookie sheets.
    4. Put a tablespoon of flour onto a small plate and dip the cookie cutter into the flour to coat the edges. This will give your cookies a very sharp, clean edge.
    5. Take a piece of dough from the freezer and remove both sheets of parchment paper. Cut the cookies, dipping the cutter in flour. Move cookies to the prepared cookie sheet: no more “shape shifters.”
    6. If the dough gets too warm to work with, simply re-cover it with parchment paper, return it to the freezer and take out the next ball of dough. Fill the cookie sheet and bake.



    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Cabot Creamery Cheddar Cheese

    Taste the whole line. Photo courtesy Cabot Cheese.

    Say cheese! Two winners will definitely be smiling when they find out that they’ve won a Cabot Creamery Cheddar Cheese gift pack filled with cheese and related goodies.

    With fall in the air, many of us have comfort food on the mind. Boston chef Stephanie Sokolove specializes in sophisticated comfort food. Between her two restaurants, Stephanie’s on Newbury and Stephi’s on Tremont—she uses nearly 200 pounds of Cabot Cheddar cheese each week!

    This week is your chance to win a selection of Cabot Cheese (a NIBBLE favorite) along with an Cabot apron. You’ll also receive Chef Stephanie’s recipe brochure so you can cook up your own versions of her Cabot-inspired recipes.

    Check out our review of Cabot Cheddar Cheese; then enter to win!

    Retail value: Approximately $75.00

    • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gourmet Cheese Section and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, September 20th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!


    RECIPES: Peanut Recipes

    In the U.S., peanuts are the winner by a long shot when it comes to volume sold: They claim 67% of all nut consumption. The numbers aren’t broken out for whole peanuts vs. peanut butter, but we bet the PB has a large piece of the pie.

    Check out these peanut recipes:

    Savory Peanut Recipes


    U.S. nut consumption in 2009. Chart
    courtesy USDA Educational Research Service.

    Sweet Peanut Recipes


    Peanuts, which originated in South America, actually came to the U.S. with African slaves. They were first brought to West Africa by Portuguese and Spanish traders, where they became a staple crop.

    See who invented peanut butter.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Edible Centerpiece

    Use a bowl or basket of heirloom tomatoes as an edible centerpiece.

    Heirloom tomatoes are grown from seeds of older tomato cultivars—tomatoes that tasted great. The taste disappeared from most markets in the 1950s, after seeds were developed for mass production.

    The tomatoes can be found in a wide variety of colors, shapes, flavors and sizes. Some are beautiful in their irregularity—considered a “defect” in the 1950s, but highly desired in the reborn farm-to-table era. The flavors can be so rich and surprising that people who don’t like tomatoes can be converted to fans.

    Wash the tomatoes and dry thoroughly. Although the tomatoes are delicious plain, a pinch of sea salt perks up the flavor. We particularly like a sea salt and herb blend.

    Heirloom tomatoes taste as good as they
    look. Photo courtesy


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