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

FOOD FACTS: French Toast History

Did you have French toast this weekend? It’s our favorite Sunday breakfast food.

We like it even better than pancakes and waffles—and it’s easier to make. For the simplest recipe, just whisk 1 cup of milk with 4 eggs and 1/4 teaspoon salt to make a batter. Place the batter in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Soak slices of white bread, brioche or challah (both sides) in the batter. Place in a frying pan and fry in melted butter over medium heat until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup.

French toast dates back at least to ancient Rome, where they served it topped with sugar and possibly honey. There were no sugar maple trees in the Old World; most likely, the Pilgrims were the first to enjoy their French toast with maple syrup.

Read the history of French toast, which includes three tasty stuffed French toast recipes.

French toast, a breakfast favorite. Photo courtesy


TIP OF THE DAY: Honey Drink

Good to the last drop. Photo courtesy
Savannah Bee Company.

When there’s just a bit of honey left in the jar, don’t toss it out: Make a honey julep.

Fill the honey jar halfway with hot water, screw the cap on and shake until the honey is dissolved. Pour the “honey water” over ice, add liberal amounts of fresh-squeezed lime juice and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

If you prefer a hot drink, hold the ice.

If you don’t have a fresh lime, make a lemon honey drink.

This tip comes from Savannah Bee Company, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.



PRODUCT: Paciugo Gelato

If there’s a Paciugo Gelato near you, you may want to head over for a few scoops and see why the readers of DMagazine in Dallas chose it as “Best Gelato.”

Christina and Ugo Ginatta and their son Vincenzo moved from Turin, Italy to Dallas, where they started the city’s first gelato caffè in 2000. Using artisan techniques and the finest ingredients, they developed a recipe list of 200 flavors in rotation (with a selection of 30 to 38 available on any given day). The company is now a mini-chain of more than 40 stores in 11 states plus Mexico.

Just looking at the list of flavors makes you want to try every one (and if you really want every flavor, ask about having your own franchise).

What we especially like about Paciugo Gelato is its ability to provide a frozen treat for just about everyone.


Gelato for everyone! Photo courtesy Paciugo.


  • Vegan or lactose-intolerant? No worries: There are gelato flavors made with soy milk, as well as dairy-free sorbetto.
  • Cutting back on sugar? The No Sugar Added gelato is terrific: If No Sugar Added gelato tastes this good, who needs sugar?
  • On a lowfat diet? The fat content is 3.5%—much lower than a superpremium ice cream (which can be up to 16% milkfat).

    While we’ve only gotten through eight of the 200 flavors, we’re in love with the Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel and the No Sugar Added flavors (we tried NSA Hazelnut and Panna cotta flavors). (We haven’t tried the soy-based gelato yet, but we look forward to it.)

  • See how gelato is different from ice cream.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Vinegar Substitutes

    Lucini balsamic vinegar, a NIBBLE favorite,
    is available at Photo by
    B.A. Van Sise.

    THE NIBBLE pantry has a dozen different types of vinegar, from the basics—balsamic, champagne, cider, sherry and wine vinegars—to rice vinegar and our favorite flavor-infused vinegars (we have almost everything from Boyajian).

    But what if a recipe calls for a type of vinegar that you don’t have on hand—and you can’t run out to buy it?

    How To Repair Food, a book we love, advises that you can substitute another vinegar (although the dish will taste a bit different). Here are the substitutions:

    • Apple Cider Vinegar Substitute: distilled white vinegar for pickling, any wine vinegar otherwise
    • Balsamic Vinegar Substitute: red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar plus a pinch of sugar
    • Red Wine Vinegar Substitute: white wine vinegar
    • White Wine Vinegar Substitute: red wine vinegar


    If you’re totally out of vinegar, use twice as much lemon juice as the required amount of vinegar.


    PRODUCT: Pumpkin Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt

    Fall means pumpkins and pumpkin pie. Pinkberry is all over it with a limited-edition Pumpkin Pinkberry, available through the end of the year.

    You can have it plain or with the [highly-recommended] paired toppings that create a frozen yogurt pumpkin pie: crunchy honey graham crackers, a dusting of cinnamon and whipped topping.

    The pumpkin color is beautiful and the taste is tangy—more like the Original Pinkberry than a heavy pumpkin flavor. So even if pumpkin isn’t your favorite flavor, try it. The pairing with the graham crackers is delightful. Going forward, we’re going to enjoy all flavors of Pinkberry with graham crackers.

    Also available for the holiday season are high-antioxidant pomegranate seed topping and pomegranate juice to top any flavor. Combined with the live and active cultures in Pinkberry yogurt, it’s practically health food (at least, that’s what we tell ourselves).

    Graham crackers are the perfect complement
    to Pumpkin Pinkberry frozen yogurt. Photo
    courtesy Pinkberry.


    RECIPE: Bacon And Ice Cream

    Skip the whipped cream: Candied bacon
    rocks. Photo courtesy

    As you may have noticed from the “pig candy” (chocolate-dipped bacon) phenomenon of the last couple of years, bacon and dark chocolate are a happy marriage.

    We love this idea from Chef Terrence Brennan of Picholine restaurant in New York City.

    It’s a chocolate tart garnished with ice cream, meringue and bacon. It looks impressive, tastes great. And it’s quick and easy to prepare if you buy the chocolate tarts instead of baking your own. All you need to do is candy the bacon and assemble the components.

    You can make the bacon several hours in advance, but be sure to keep at room temperature. You can warm it for 10 seconds in the microwave before serving.



    • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can omit this if your crowd doesn’t like the sweet-and-spicy combination)
    • 1/2 pound thinly sliced bacon (about 18 slices)


    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Line a broiler pan with foil. Lightly coat broiler rack with nonstick spray or rub lightly with vegetable oil. Place broiler rack on pan.
    3. Mix brown sugar and cayenne thoroughly. Coat one side of each bacon slice by pressing into mixture.
    4. Place bacon sugar side up in a single layer on the broiling rack. Any remaining brown sugar mix can be sprinkled over the slices.
    5. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the sugar bubbly
    6. Drain bacon on paper towels; let cool on clean toweling or a plate.
    7. Serve as whole strips or cut as in photo. Serves 8.

    To Assemble

    • Top chocolate tarts with one scoop each of chocolate and vanilla.
    • Garnish with candied bacon.


    The meringue puffs are a nice touch, but not necessary to complete this dessert—the top of the tart is amply full. If you love meringue and want to make them, your guests will appreciate it.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheesecake Water Bath

    If you like to bake cheesecake (and we love to!), you know that a water bath, or bain-marie, keeps the cheesecake top from cracking.

    If you’ve never used a bain-marie: All you have to do is set the springform pan into a roasting pan filled with warm water. As the cheesecake cooks, the moisture from the water protects the cheesecake from cracking.

    Now for the real tip: No matter how good a springform you have, water from the water bath can leak in through the bottom while the cheesecake is baking, creating a soggy crust. To fix this problem, all you have to do is wrap the bottom of the springform in foil before putting it into the bain-marie.

    Cheesecake perfected!

    Here’s a fun fact: The water bath was originally invented by alchemists, who needed a way to heat their materials slowly and gently. The alchemists were trying to change base metals into gold and create an “elixir of longevity.”

    We’re just happy to have cheesecake!

    Your cheesecake will be perfect when you
    use a water bath and foil wrap. Photo by
    Kelly Cline | IST.


    PRODUCT: Caesar’s Gluten-Free Pasta

    Everyone can enjoy tasty, gluten-free
    pasta dishes. Photo courtesy Caesar’s.

    People with gluten intolerance can’t have regular (wheat) pasta. They need to find alternatives made from rice, potatoes and other starches.

    What about people who want an Italian dinner?

    Caesar’s Gluten Free & Wheat Free product line offers favorite pasta dishes in single serving entrées that taste just like wheat pasta. And they microwave in seven minutes.

    We tried the manicotti, stuffed shells and vegetable lasagna.

    • The rice flour noodles pass nicely for al dente semolina pasta (rice flour noodles are delicious in their own right).
    • The ricotta filling is smooth and creamy.
    All three entrées tasted pretty much the same—noodles, ricotta and marinara sauce; we’d be glad to eat any of them. The one thing we could wish for is more seasoning, but we added our own, alternating basil, crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, and were happy.

    The products are available at grocery stores nationwide and at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Fixing Salty Soup

    We’ve all made a pot of oversalted soup or stew. A classic kitchen trick is to add a thinly-sliced raw potato and let it sit to absorb some of the salt, until the slices become translucent.

    If that doesn’t work for you, here are four more ideas, courtesy of the newest edition of the kitchen helper book, How To Repair Food:

    • Dilute the soup. Divide the contents into two pots and add more liquid—broth, water, tomato juice, etc.—until the soup tastes right.
    • Add canned tomatoes. If they work with the recipe, tomatoes and their liquid are sufficiently bland to absorb some of the saltiness.
    • Add some fresh lemon juice. The acid can counteract saltiness. You can use lime juice if it’s better for the recipe.
    • Add a few pinches of brown sugar. It won’t desalt the soup, but it may cover up the saltiness without over-sweetening the soup.


    Discover the different types of soup in our Soup Glossary.

    You can fix salty soup. Photo of bouillabaisse


    HALLOWEEN: Good & Scary Chocolate

    Ganache-filled Halloween pavés. Photo


    If you didn’t find what you liked in our recent Halloween Candy feature, here’s more:

    The scary images on these dark chocolate pavés (flat-topped squares) from Christopher Norman won’t frighten away chocoholics.

    The luscious, creamy fillings will banish all fears:

  • The ghost contains wild berry dark chocolate ganache
  • The pumpkin holds peanut butter ganache made from both milk and dark chocolate
  • The devil is full of spicy apricot dark chocolate ganache
  • The black cat has a classic dark chocolate ganache.
  • This type of decoration is known as transfer, short for cocoa butter transfer. The designs are reproduced in colored cocoa butter on large sheets; then carefully transferred by hand to the top of each chocolate.

    A 5.3-ounce box is $32.99 at

    Now that you’ve learned about pavés and cocoa butter transfers, master more chocolate terminology in our Chocolate Glossary.


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