THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website,

Archive for February, 2011

PRODUCT: Egg-Free Cookies & Brownies

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that some 12 million Americans have one or more food allergies.

Ninety percent of food allergies are caused by the “big eight”: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soya and wheat (gluten).

There are some great allergen-free mixes for those who want to bake for allergic loved ones. See our reviews of Cherrybrook Kitchen and Pamela’s Gluten Free.

If you don’t have time to bake, consider ordering from Egg-Free Epicurean.

The bakery banishes three of the big eight from its handmade, tasty, ready-to-eat cookies and blondies: no eggs, peanuts or tree nuts.

Cookie loving kids and grownups now have access to something sweet and satisfying that’s as good as what everybody else gets. No one would suspect that the eggs are missing. We not only ate every crumb, we’d gladly eat more (and we have no allergies).

Celebrate with egg- and nut-free treats
from Egg-Free Epicurean. Photo by River

The products can be ordered separately (in packages of 12 cookies, 8 blondies) or in a sampler box. There’s a large “I Want It All” sampler box for especially good girls and boys.

Order yours at

The more the word gets out, the more Egg-Free Epicurean will be tempted to make even more varieties.


Comments off

TIP OF THE DAY: Add Colored Food

Dark green spinach leaves, yellow tomatoes
and red radicchio turn a sandwich from blah
to wow. Photo courtesy Royal Rose Radicchio.

You don’t have to read too many food magazines or watch “Top Chef” too often to see how important presentation is.

“Top Chef” judges regularly comment on a bland presentation, telling cheftestants that the dish needs color.

It’s up to you, the home chef, to decide what kind of colorful vegetable or fruit complements your dish.

Take a quick scan of the produce aisle: The fruits and vegetables that catch your eye are one way to start.

Easy choices:

  • Red, Orange & Yellow: bell pepper, carrot (use curls for garnish), chile, grape, kumquat, pattypan squash and other miniature vegetables, radicchio, tomato (conventonal, cherry, grape, sundried)
  • Green: Many choices in lighter and darker hues, from vegetables to fresh herbs
You’re adding more than color. Each ingredient adds flavor to the dish, whether as a garnish or a principal food (serve a side of rainbow chard, delicious and stunning).

No time to acquire colored fruits, vegetables or fresh herbs? Look at your spices and dust the plate with a pinch of basil, curry, paprika, turmeric or other colorful favorite.


Comments off

NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY: What Is A Margarita? How About A Guavarita?

Yesterday was National Margarita Day.

We get lots of pitches—story ideas—from public relations (PR) firms. Their job is to get coverage for their clients’ products. Brands of spirits are always at the ready with cocktails for every celebration: New Year’s, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, Academy Awards and National Margarita Day—and that’s just in January and February.

One of the things that surprised us about this year’s National Margarita Day pitches was how many tequila companies were calling their recipes a Margarita. The only kinship most had to a Margarita was tequila. Simply adding tequila does not a Margarita make (see the history of the Margarita and the original recipe.)

Margarita ingredients include silver tequila, Cointreau or triple sec (orange liqueur) and lime juice, with a salted rim. So substitute raspberry liqueur for the orange liqueur and call it a Raspberry Margarita. Or use grapefruit juice instead of lime juice and call it a Grapefruit Margarita. Or coat the rim with crushed salted nuts or even pepper (hmm, must try a Pepper Margarita).

But give it some logic!

The Margarita: keeping it real. Photo by
Eugene Bochkarev | BSP.

One would really have to question the logic of the people who proposed these “Margarita” recipes. We’ll protect the guilty; but our least favorite contestant was an Apple Margarita mixed from tequila, apple schnapps and cinnamon sticks. No orange liqueur, no lime juice. One might get thrown out of Mexico for insisting it’s a Margarita. No doubt, we’ll be sent the same recipe in October called something like a Harvest Margarita, and again in November as a Pilgrim’s Margarita.

Or hold them for National Tequila Day, July 24th.

Enjoy creative mixology; but don’t call something by a name it’s not, just to get the sale. That’s huckstering.

To show that we’re down with variations, here’s a Guavarita recipe, courtesy of 1800 Silver Tequila. It keeps the structure of the Margarita (tequila, fresh lime juice and fruit liqueur), substituting raspberry liqueur for orange and flavoring the rim. We don’t know why it doesn’t use guava liqueur.



  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Chambord or other raspberry liqueur
  • 2 ounces guava juice/nectar
  • .5 ounce (3 teaspoons) fresh lime juice
  • Sugar or rimming sugar (make your own by mixing sugar and lime zest)
  • Ice

1. Rim glasses with sugar.
2. Shake ingredients with ice until chilled and strain into an ice filled.
3. Garnish with a guava slice.

Consider today National Guavarita Day.


Comments off

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Java Bites Coffee Cookies

Have some espresso cookies with your
espresso. Photo by River Soma |

Some people love the aroma of a cup of coffee, but not the taste of it. Others don’t drink coffee, but happily devour coffee ice cream, chocolate-covered coffee beans and other coffee-flavored foods.

And then there are those who love all things coffee.

Java Bites cookies, made with espresso roasted beans, will appeal to all three groups.

The all-natural cookies, handmade at the foothills of the Rockies, sound like a coffee bar menu: Almond Mocha, Chocolate Chip Espresso, Cinnamon Cappuccino, White Chocolate Mocha Latte and White Chocolate Vanilla Latte. Each variety is delicious.

The cookie box is reminiscent of Cosmo Kramer’s coffee table book on coffee tables. For those who haven’t seen every episode of “Seinfeld,” the coffee table book had fold-down legs that enabled it to stand: an attempt at emulating a coffee table.

Here, a handle pulls out of the cardboard box, emulating a coffee cup.

We love the fact that the cookies are cello-packed in 100-calorie two-packs. In addition to the freshness factor, the packaging creates a reasonable snack portion and prevents us from devouring the entire box.


Comments off

TIP OF THE DAY: Cornmeal Instead Of Polenta

If you read history or old literature, you encounter cornmeal. A flour ground from dried maize (corn), it’s been a staple for millennia, feeding the native populations of the Americas and, later, the Colonials. Ground to fine, medium and coarse consistencies, cornmeal is used to make everything from tortillas and cornbread to cookies and cakes. Like other flours, fine-ground cornmeal is also used to thicken sauces.

Polenta—the Italian word for cornmeal and a cooked dish made from it—has become popular in America through Italian and Continental restaurants. The introduction of polenta to American diets brought it back into the American kitchen, from which many decades ago it was replaced by refined wheat flour.

But polenta is also refined: It is degerminated cornmeal, with the germ and endosperm removed. As with all refined grains, the protein, iron and vitamins are left on the factory floor.

So what can you do if you love polenta?

Cornmeal is a whole grain, unlike refined
polenta. Photo courtesy

Substitute stone ground whole grain cornmeal—no recipe adjustments needed to make polenta or any other recipe.

Be sure to read the package label, though: Some stone ground cornmeal is degerminated to extend its shelf life and is no longer a whole grain. (Store whole grains in the freezer if you don’t use them up.)

You can find whole grain cornmeal from one of our favorite brands, Bob’s Red Mill, at natural food stores nationwide (including Whole Foods Markets). Substitute it for polenta in any recipe: to make cookies and cakes (nifty texture!), cornbread and corn muffins, hushpuppies and spoonbread. Old-fashioned cornmeal mush sounds great on this cold day, as we contemplate breakfast options.

If you’re not near a store that sells cornmeal, check out the beautiful heirloom grain products at If you love to cook and eat, be warned: You’ll probably want to order everything.

  • More about whole grains, and why they’re so important for good health.


Comments off

© Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.