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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 October, 2010

HALLOWEEN: Trivia Facts

The Jack o’ Lantern evolved from a
turnip. Photo by Rawkus | SXC.

 

Halloween Trivia To Share
Bring these fun trivia facts to work, to school, to a Halloween party:

  • Halloween has its origins in the festival of Samhain (sah-WEEN), celebrated by ancient Celts at the end of the harvest.
  • The Celts believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc.
  • To avoid the spirits and ghosts that roamed the countryside, they began to wear masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
  • Samhain marked the end of the “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half.” The Halloween colors of orange and black represent the lighter side (fall harvest) and the darker side.
  • Jack o’ Lanterns were not originally pumpkins. To keep away spirits and ghosts on Samhain, people placed candles in their windows, using hollowed-out turnips and other vegetables as the holder.
  •  

  • Around 600 C.E., Christian missionaries replaced the pagan festival of Samhain with All Saints Day, also called All Hallows Even (even means evening).
  • The name Halloween is first found in 16th-century Scotland, evolving from All Hallows Eve.
  • Afraid of Halloween? That’s called Samhainophobia.
  •   

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    HALLOWEEN: Scary Halloween Recipes

    What’s for dinner on Halloween?

    Something scary and creepy, we hope!

    How about some Spooky Shepherd’s Pie and some BBQ Worm Sandwiches?

    There’s still time to whip up some devilishly delicious Halloween fare.

    These recipes are good party fare for kids or adults. But if you have no other plans, sit home and dig into a party-in-a-dish.

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

     

    Ghoulishly good and easy to make. Photo
    courtesy Pillsbury.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Mascarpone Recipes

    A bowl of mascarpone dip. Photo courtesy
    Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    Mascarpone, the thick and delicious “Italian cream cheese,” is the key ingredient in tiramisu and a favorite for topping berries. In fact, it’s thanks to tiramisu, which has become a favorite dessert in the U.S., that most of us know what mascarpone is.

    The fresh cheese is used in savory recipes too, of course. We like it as a quick and easy cocktail spread.

    Blend mascarpone with your favorite flavors—Dijon mustard, mashed anchovies, capers and fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme), curry, salsa—there are vast opportunities. You can even divide the tub of plain mascarpone and make two different flavors.

    Serve the spread in ramekins with fancy crackers or with thin-sliced toasted baguette. Delicioso!

    By the way, a surprising number of people mispronounce and misspell the name of the cheese. It’s MAH-scar-POE-nay, not MAR-scah-POE-nay; mascarpone not marscapone.

  • What exactly is mascarpone?
  • More fabulous fresh cheeses.
  • Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Pumpkin Pizza Recipe

    Pizza for Halloween? Sure, when it’s pumpkin pizza!

    Theo Kalogeracos is an Australian pizzeria owner based outside of Perth. He was named 2010 World Champion Pizza Maker at the Las Vegas Pizza Show.

    Celebrate all through pumpkin season with his new pumpkin pizza recipe. Serve it with pumpkin ale, one of our seasonal favorites.

    SMASHING PUMPKIN PIZZA WITH GOAT CHEESE

    Ingredients

  • ¾ cup basic pizza dough, ball rolled and ready
  • ¼ cup mozzarella, grated
  • 2 tablespoons roasted unsalted cashews, crushed
  • 1¼ cups roasted pumpkin, cubed and marinated in one teaspoon of basil pesto
  • 1½ tablespoons white cream sauce (recipe below)
  • 2½ tablespoons fresh goat cheese
  • 4 tablespoons good Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon fresh parsley for garnish, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cashews for garnish, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra Parmesan for garnish, grated
  •  

    Pumpkin pizza. Photo courtesy Ballantine Books.

     

    Preparation
    1. Preheat the oven to 500°F for 15 minutes.
    2. Spread mozzarella evenly over the base.
    3. Add crushed cashews and cubes of pumpkin.
    4. Drizzle with white cream sauce.
    5. Scatter crumbled goat cheese and grated Parmesan evenly over the surface.
    6. Cook pizza for seven to 10 minutes at 500°F. Remove from the oven and cut into slices.
    7. Garnish with fresh parsley, extra cashews and Parmesan cheese before serving.

    WHITE CREAM SAUCE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup unsifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cup milk
  •  
    Directions
    1. In a heavy saucepan, heat butter until melted. Remove from heat and add flour, salt and pepper, stirring constantly until smooth.
    2. Add milk slowly, stirring and return to medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute.

    Use extra sauce in soups, on chicken and vegetables.

    Find more delicious pizza recipes.

      

    Comments

    MENU: Perfect Halloween Food

    Head to the butcher and make some
    tempura brains. Photo courtesy Blu
    restaurant.

     

    Looking for inspiration for a Halloween dinner?

    We love the menu at Blu restaurant in New York City’s Hotel Indigo. It’s not for the faint of heart (and there’s no heart on the menu):

  • Sautéed Chicken Livers with Artichokes and Lemon
  • Traditional Pinocchio Tripe with Crostini
  • Tempura-Style Calf Brain* with Marinara Dipping Sauce and Prickly Pear Salad
  • Black Risotto with Frogs Legs
  • Blood Orange Sorbet with Black Cat Cookies and Prosecco Zabaione
  • “In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to get creative and playfully pair and plate items that diners might not ordinarily consider—but which are quite delicious,” says Chef Patrick Nuti. “All these items are perfectly normal in Italy and most other cultures but can seem foreign to American palates.”

    We love culinary adventure, and we’re headed to Blu for Halloween. Maybe we’ll run into the Munsters or the Addams family.

    *THE NIBBLE’s wine editor prefers lamb’s brains.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Halloween Gift

    Headed out to a Halloween party?

    You could bring a bottle of wine or other libation that will blend in with all the bottles brought by everyone else.

    Instead, make your hostess gift stand out—permanently. A mug, plate or other Halloween-themed serving piece will be a permanent reminder that you came to party.

    To add to the memento, take a Sharpie and inscribe the bottom of the piece with a Halloween greeting and the year.

    Happy Halloween from THE NIBBLE, 2010. Rock on, ghouls.

     

    Drink from Dracula, $9.95 at Amazon.com.

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Vampire Cocktail Recipe

    I vant to drink your blood. Photo
    courtesy Riazul Tequila.

     

    Vampire fans: Here’s a Halloween cocktail for you, courtesy of Riazul Tequila. It combines Tequila with crème de cassis, raspberry liqueur that is bright red in color.

    First produced by French monks in the 16th century as a cure for snake bites, jaundice and “wretchedness,” crème de cassis is perfect for celebrations with a red theme (Halloween, Independence Day, Christmas).

    While those monks would not win any prizes for medicine, the delicious liqueur can certainly help make one less wretched and brighten up drinks. Perhaps the most famous cocktail with crème de cassis is the Kir and its sparkling sibling, Kir Royale.

    VAMPIRE COCKTAIL RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 ounce silver tequila
  • 1 ounce crème de cassis (blackberry liqueur)
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Ginger beer
  • Ice
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Combine tequila, crème de cassis and squeezed lime juice with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled glass.

    2. Top with ginger beer.

    3. Bonus points: Garnish with glow-in-the-dark or wax candy vampire fangs!

    Here are substitutions using cranberry juice and ginger ale:

  • 1-1/2 ounces tequila, 1 ounce cranberry juice, lime wedge, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, 1 splash ginger ale.
  •  
    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Truly Special Salad

    What is a salad?

    According to the Random House Dictionary, it’s:

    1. A usually cold dish consisting of vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, covered with a dressing and sometimes containing seafood, meat or eggs.

    2. Any of various dishes consisting of foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs, pasta or fruit, prepared singly or combined, usually cut up, mixed with a dressing, and served cold: chicken salad; potato salad.

    3. Any herb or green vegetable, such as lettuce, used for salads or eaten raw.

    We propose a minimalist style of salad like this one, created by Chef Terrance Brennan of Picholine restaurant in New York City. All you need to create a salad work of art is your imagination and a stroll down the produce aisle.

     

    Salad as art. Photo courtesy Chef Terrence
    Brennan, TerranceBrennan.com.

    In this “tomato salad,” Chef Brennan arranges halved red and yellow grape tomatoes topped with fresh herbs, cauliflower florets topped with a grilled scallop and a dehydrated tomato slice, cubes of cheese topped with bacon, oven-dried grape tomatoes (here’s a recipe), basil leaves and preserved strawberries (you can substitute fresh berries or other fruit).

    With a pinch of sea salt, the tomatoes need no dressing. But you can drizzle olive oil or a vinaigrette on the dish, or serve a side ramekin of vinaigrette or pesto.

    Inspired to create? Let us know your favorite combinations.

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: John Wm Macy’s CheeseSticks

    Cheese straws come in different forms, all of
    them delicious. Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We don’t remember when we had our first cheese straws, but it was love at first bite. They’ve always been a special-occasion food we serve at parties, as well as an occasional treat (we can’t resist eating the whole box).

    We are grateful to that unknown Southern cook who whipped up as a snack from leftover biscuit dough, some time in the 1800s.

    We love to give cheese straws as a house gift. When we don’t have the time to bake our own, John Wm Macy’s keeps us happily supplied.

    Learn about John Wm Macy’s CheeseSticks and the different ways you can use them to accent different foods. In addition to a variety of cheese flavors, there are whole-grain WheatSticks and CheeseCrisps, the cracker shapes shown in the photo.

    The company also makes SweetSticks in chocolate and cinnamon, delicious with ice cream and other desserts.

  • Find more snacks and cocktail snacks.
  • Comments

    Tips For A Healthy Halloween

    Afraid that the kids will stuff themselves full of bad-for-you candy on Halloween?

    Here are some tricks to overcome excessive treating, courtesy of Pirate’s Booty guilt-free snacks and THE NIBBLE:

  • Set up rules. Explain beforehand that Halloween is for fun, costumes and treats—but not to over-indulge on candy, which should be enjoyed in moderation. If you haven’t already done so, this is the time to explain healthy food vs. less-healthy food. Your guidance now will set kids up for a lifetime of wise food choices.
  • Fill ‘em up. Feed kids a full, nutritious meal before they head out to trick-or-treat. That way they’ll be less likely to devour a lot of candy before they return home.
  • Trade agreement. Offer kids a cash honorarium or a coveted toy for giving up the candy. Explain the options before trick-or-treating begins.
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    Coppery plastic mini yo-yos are as low as
    $1.99/dozen at OrientalTrading.com, which has many inexpensive Halloween toys.

  • Treat others. Let kids pick out the 10 pieces of candy they want most. Call it “10 Days Of Halloween” and let them have one treat a day. Donate the rest of the sweets to a local food bank. Bring the kids with you to the food bank and teach a valuable lesson in the joy of sharing with the needy.
  • Cavity cutback. Some dentists participate in the Candy Buy-Back program the day after Halloween. Kids receive a monetary reward, while the candy gets shipped to U.S. military forces abroad. If your dentist doesn’t participate, give him or her this URL so you’ll have a program next Halloween: HalloweenCandyBuyBack.com.
  • Divide and conquer. When the candy arrives back at home, allow them to pick two pieces. Then, put it away and enable them to pick one piece a day, for dessert after dinner.
  • Don’t be an enabler. Distribute non-sugared treats such healthy popcorn or whole-grain pretzels. Find single-serve bags at club stores. Or, look at inexpensive toys like plastic or gummy spiders and worms.

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