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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for February, 2011

COOKING VIDEO: Irish Soda Bread Recipe


You don’t have to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to make Irish soda bread. Start now and see how quickly those delicious loaves disappear.

Soda bread is a chemically-leavened quick bread, using baking soda instead of yeast. Baking soda produces a lighter, airy crumb. Soda bread dates back to approximately 1840, when bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland. It reacted better with the soft wheat grown in Ireland’s climate, and replaced yeast as the leavening agent.

While the traditional ingredients of soda bread are flour (white or brown), baking soda, salt and buttermilk, soda breads are often sweet breads. Raisins and nuts can be added—and in fact, make soda bread the delight that it is.



  • Now that you’ve seen the video, here’s another delicious Irish soda bread recipe.
  • We really enjoyed this Irish soda bread mix with Guinness stout.
  • Check out the different types of bread (many!) in our beautiful Bread Glossary.
  • Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Chocolate Tequila Cupid Cocktail

    Let chocolate and tequila be your cupid.
    Photo courtesy Sauza Tequila.


    If you’re not sharing the evening with someone special, make yourself a special comfort cocktail.

    Sauza Tequila suggests this chocolate tequila drink.



  • 3 parts chocolate milk (store bought or homemade)
  • 1 part silver tequila
  • 1 part strawberry purée or daiquiri mix
  • Garnish: Chocolate-covered strawberry
  • Optional garnish: chocolate syrup
  • Optional garnish: chocolate shavings
    1. Combine chilled chocolate milk, tequila and strawberry purée in a mixing glass. Stir vigorously to combine.
    2. Line your favorite glass with chocolate syrup (squirt it on the inside of the glass in an up-and-down pattern).

  • 3. Pour cocktail into the glass.
    4. Garnish with a chocolate covered strawberry.
    5. Enjoy it: You deserve it!

    Recipe for chocolate-covered strawberries.


    VALENTINE’S DAY: Champagne Cocktail

    Rosy and delicious: the Secret Crush
    Champagne cocktail. Photo courtesy
    Macao Trading Co.


    Here’s a Valentine’s Day version of a Champagne Cocktail.

    Called a Secret Crush, it’s a rosy color from the addition of grenadine—a red syrup originally made from pomegranate juice or cherry juice, and sugar. (Grenade is the French word for pomegranate as well as grenade.)

    Today, supermarket brands are made of artificial ingredients; but you can find authentic artisan brands:

    Stirrings Authentic Grenadine, made with pomegranate juice, is all-natural as well as far more flavorful than the red-colored corn syrup. Monin also makes an all-natural grenadine. Natural brands also include spices, such as cardamom and clove.

    Or, make homemade grenadine.

    You can make this cocktail with Champagne or Prosecco, a sparking wine from Italy that’s lighter and more affordable.

    Thanks to New York City’s restaurant hot spot Macao Trading Co. for the recipe.



    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 5 ounces Prosecco
  • 3/4 ounce grenadine
  • 1 brown sugar cube
  • 4 to 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon twist
    1. Pour half of the amount of the sparkling wine into the Champagne flute.
    2. Place the sugar cube on a bar spoon and saturate it with Angostura bitters.
    3. Carefully place the bitters-saturated sugar cube into the flute. Let rest for a moment.
    4. Add grenadine. Top off with the rest of the sparkling wine.
    5. Twist the lemon twist over the drink and discard.

    Bitters, by the way, are a strongly-flavored distillation or infusion of aromatic herbs, bark, fruit and/or roots. The term derives from the fact that the recipe contains no sweetener. While artisan brands contain a blend of flavors—angostura bark, cascarilla, cassia, gentian, orange peel and quinine, for example—the best-known commercial brand, Angostura, is made primarily from the roof of gentian, a flower. If you have artisan bitters, substitute them for the Angostura brand specified in the recipe.


  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Wine With Chocolate & Dessert

    What wine or other alcoholic libation goes with chocolate?

    That depends: Is it bittersweet, milk chocolate, fruit-filled, mint-filled, with nuts and so forth.

    Check out our Chocolate And Wine Pairings chart.

    What if you’re having cheesecake, chocolate cake, tiramisu or other favorite dessert?

    That requires new options entirely!

    See our Wine And Dessert Pairings chart.

    All of us at THE NIBBLE wish you



    What wine goes with chocolates or chocolate
    cake? It’s not a simple question, but we’ve
    got the answers. Photo courtesy Tellurlide


    PRODUCT: BitterSweets Curmudgeonly Conversation Hearts

    The BitterSweets Dysfunctional Collection.
    Photo courtesy


    Forget those happy Valentine candy hearts—called Sweetheart Conversation Hearts—with their positive messages: Love You, Be Mine and so on. has candy hearts for those who are not in the Valentine spirit.

    Choose from three different collections of BitterSweets: Dejected, Dumped and Dysfunctional.

    Each box contains 37 brutal kissoffs. The Dumped collection, for example, offers U LEFT SEATUP, BACK 2 KENNEL, I GOT SOBER, CELIB8 THX2U and CALL A 900#.

    Six ounces in a heart-shaped tin is $9.95.


    Sweethearts Conversation Hearts, those ubiquitous pastel sugar losenges, have been made by the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), since the Civil War. The company manufactures more than 8 billion hearts annually.

    The first versions were made in the shape of a cockle shell. Mottoes printed on thin colored paper were rolled up inside. Sometime in the 1860s, the company devised a machine with a die that printed the words on the lozenge paste. The present design dates to 1902.

    Messages included All Mine, Angel, Let’s Kiss, Love, Lover Boy, My Baby and Sweet Talk, among others. Beginning in the early 1990s, the sayings were updated annually. “Call Me” became “Fax Me.” (Hey, what about Text Me?)

    The line now includes chocolate, Spanish and sugar-free versions.


    TIP OF THE: Easy Valentine Cake

    You don’t need the time or rose-piping skills to make a special cake for Valentine’s Day.

    Start with a plain iced cake from your favorite bakery, and add your own touches.

    First, remove any plastic rose or other mundane decoration that may come with the cake. Then, depending on what treats your sweetie or family prefer, consider:

  • Crushed red and white peppermints
  • Red, pink and white Jelly Belly jelly beans mix, M&Ms mix, gum drops
  • Small chocolate hearts or white chocolate hearts
  • Fresh raspberries or whole or sliced strawberries
  • Small strawberries half-dipped in melted chocolate
  • Rose petals (wash to remove pesticides or buy organic flowers)
  • Anything that appeals to you in the candy store

    Buy an iced chocolate cake—a round
    cake is just fine—and top with chocolate
    truffles and/or malted milk balls. Photo
    courtesy, which has lots of cake ideas.

    Consider edging the top rim of the cake with one type of garnish and placing a large item in the center: a larger chocolate or chocolate marshmallow heart, an entire blossom or a trio of large strawberries, for example.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Red Grapefruit For Festive Accents

    Rio Red, Ruby Red and other red grapefruit
    varieties add a Valentine accent. Photo


    Still thinking about what to serve on Valentine’s Day? Much of what you decide to make can be accented with red grapefruit segments.

    Red grapefruit is a mutation of a pink grapefruit discovered in the 1920s. (Pink grapefruit itself is a mutation that appeared at the beginning of the 20th century.)

    As pink grapefruit is typically sweeter than white grapefruit, red grapefruit is even sweeter. Red grapefruit can be found under the brand names Rio Red, Rio Star, Ruby Red and Ruby Sweet.

    The rich red color of red grapefruit is due to lycopene, a powerful carotenoid phytonutrient (antioxidant) that appears to fight tumor growth. Lycopene exists to a lesser extent in pink grapefruit.

    Take a look at two entire dinner’s worth of red grapefruit recipes. Some of the 10 recipes:


    Start with a Grapefruit & Vodka Cooler and a Grapefruit & Apple Mint Sushi Roll With Honey Chili Dipping Sauce. Move to a main dish of Herbed Steamed Shrimp With Spicy Texas Red Grapefruit and a Citrus Asparagus Salad. Finish with red grapefruit-garnished Mini Cheesecakes or Grapefruit Crème Brûlée.

    Here’s one more easy recipe; it serves 4.



  • 2 red grapefruits, sectioned with juice reserved
  • 2 avocados, halved lengthwise and pitted
  • 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
    1. Brush 2 teaspoons of lemon juice over flesh of avocados; set aside.
    2. Add remaining lemon juice, salt and tarragon to the reserved grapefruit juice; season with pepper.
    3. Whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Add grapefruit sections and toss gently.
    4. Assembly: Place each avocado half on a plate. Top with grapefruit mixture, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.

  • The history of grapefruit.


    RECIPE: Cream Cheese Brownies

    Yesterday, February 10th, was National Cream Cheese Brownie Day, but you never need an excuse to bake up a batch.

    Drops of cheesecake batter are layered with chocolate brownie batter, then swirled together with a knife. Instead of making the brownie even richer, the cream cheese swirl lightens it, with a smoother texture and a counterpoint to the heaviness of the chocolate.

    Zebras are a variation in which a full cheesecake layer rests atop a brownie layer—no swirl.

    As a family treat or a Valentine gift, cream cheese brownies will make fans of everyone who likes both brownies and cheesecake.

  • Get the recipe for cream cheese brownies.
  • Make rocky road brownies.
  • Know your brownie styles: cakey versus fudgy.
  • Who invented the brownie? Read the history of brownies.
  • Take our brownie trivia quiz.

    Brownies with a cream cheese swirl. Photo by S.F. Photo | IST.




    VALENTINE’S DAY: Drink Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade

    The flavor of roses creates a special
    lemonade. Photo courtesy Fentiman’s.


    When we go for soft drinks, we like something special. We’re particularly fond of the Fentiman’s Botanically Brewed Soda, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

    Not your conventional soft drinks, the products are infused with botanicals and go through a slow, natural fermentation and blending.

    For a special soft drink for Valentine’s Day—for everyone from foodies to kids—we like Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade. It’s made with rose oil from the world-famous Rose Valley in Kazanlak, Bulgaria.

    If you can’t find it, make your own rose lemonade by adding a bit of rose oil or rose water to a conventional fresh-squeezed lemonade recipe. (You can turn it into a cocktail with gin, tequila or vodka.)

    Like Middle Eastern cuisine? Rose is a popular flavor in the Middle East, in beverages, desserts and confections. Make rose lemonade or rose-flavored club soda to serve with the cuisine.

    If you purchase a bottle of rose oil (rose extract), a little goes a long way. The beautiful floral bouquet and flavor can also be used in cakes and icing. Artisan chocolatiers have been adding it to ganache; mixologists use it in cocktails. If you enjoy playing with ingredients, get a bottle.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Healthy Recipe For Valentine’s Day Dinner

    Save up calories to enjoy your Valentine chocolate by serving a healthy yet festive entrée. This easy recipe is courtesy of Muir Glen. The company’s excellent canned organic tomatoes add a bright red accent.

    One serving has just 160 calories (45 from fat). Serve with a vinaigrette-dressed salad. Use raspberry vinegar and garnish with a few fresh raspberries for a Valentine’s Day touch. Enjoy with a glass of rosé.

    Then dig into that chocolate!


    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Start to Finish: 35 minutes
    Yield: 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 tilapia fillets, about 1/2 inch thick (1 lb)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    Low-calorie, healthy and festive. Photo
    courtesy Muir Glen.

  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning (if you don’t have any, just use fresh-ground pepper)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained (use the liquid in another recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
    1. Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 11×7-inch (2-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.
    2. In a shallow dish, combine lemon juice, peel and oil. Dip fillets into lemon mixture, turning to coat. Place in baking dish.
    3. Sprinkle basil, salt and lemon pepper over fillets. Spoon tomatoes over fillets. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.


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