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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 March, 2011

RECIPE: Greek Pizza

Pizza with Greek toppings: Greek-Italian
fusion cuisine. Photo courtesy zpizza.

 

Although Pizza was founded in Laguna Beach, California, we’re lucky enough to have two zPizzas here in New York City (three, if you count the one in JFK Airport). zPizza is all about natural, quality ingredients. Their crusts are made from organic wheat flour and they use fresh produce and additive-free sausage. We had fun perusing their website for international pizza recipe ideas: Mexican- and Thai-style pizza among the 12 options.

Sometimes the toppings take some creative license: The Tuscan pizza, for example, starts with roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, cremini and button mushrooms, truffle oil and fresh thyme—very Italian and very tempting. But we don’t understand the addition of shiitake mushrooms (Japanese) and more particularly, feta cheese (Greece and other countries, but not Italy).

But there is a feta-topped Greek pizza. We love a Greek salad so were inspired to try this recipe.

 

Grab a pizza crust and your favorite red sauce. Top with chopped or halved Greek olives, crumbled feta, sliced tomatoes, red onion and oregano. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese—yes, it’s Italian, but this is Italian-Greek fusion.

Those within nibbling distance of zPizza (there are locations all over the country) can take advantage of their “Passport to Pizza” promotion. Purchase any three of the Casablanca, Greek, Napoli or Provence pizzas by April 30, 2011 and you’ll get one extra-large pizza for free.

  • Also check out our Grilled Greek Vegetable Pizza and two dozen other pizza recipes in our Pasta & Pizza Section.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Healthy Foods To Integrate Into your Diet

    We don’t want National Nutriton Month (March) to roll away without sharing some healthy food recommendations. Whole grains are one of our favorite easy switches and there are lists and lists of others. These five foods were nominated by Healthy Steps by Jokari. They’re easy to integrate into your diet.

  • Walnuts. A rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Work an ounce a day into your diet: as a snack, mixed into yogurt or sprinkled onto a salad.
  • Flaxseed. More than 50% of the fat in flaxseed is omega-3 fatty acid, making flaxseed the richest plant source of omega-3. The nutty flavor is also appealing. Add it to cereal, yogurt, salads and other dishes.
  •  

    Snack on walnuts—they’re great for
    you. Photo courtesy SXC.

  • Pomegranate. Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, possibly with more antioxidant properties than red wine or green tea. They’re packed with folic acid, potassium, niacin, vitamin C, iron, calcium and fiber. Switch your orange juice to pomegranate juice, or your apple or orange snack for a whole pomegranate.
  • Salmon. This popular fish is a very good source of easily digestible proteins, fatty acids like omega-3s, vitamins A, D and some of the B vitamins, and minerals like selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and iron.
  • Dark Greens. Calorie for calorie, dark greens are perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium) and vitamins (including vitamins K, C, E and many of the B vitamins). Try mustard greens, turnip greens, fresh spinach, or chard—Swiss, red or rainbow. Greens are spectacular when quickly heated in a skillet with a little olive oil, garlic and lemon juice.
  •  
    It doesn’t take much effort to eat a healthier diet. A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single walnut or dish of sautéed spinach.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Gourmet Marshmallows

    A two-layer Black Forest marshmallow with
    a chocolate bottom and a top made with
    cherry purée. It’s topped with dried cherries
    and chopped chocolate. From Crumbles
    Cookie Factory
    , it’s fabulous. Photo by
    River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    To adapt comedian Rodney Dangerfield’s famous line, marshmallows don’t get no respect. At least in the world of fine confections.

    That’s because most of us are only familiar with the tough, cottony supermarket variety of marshmallows.

    But there’s a world of excitement out there: gourmet marshmallows so airy and flavorful that they’ve replaced chocolate as our favorite after-dinner treat, and as an accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee.

    Today’s gourmet marshmallows are made by confectioners who are the marshmallow equivalent to top chocolatiers.

    And you can get marshmallows in just about any flavor—even savory ones, like chicken and beef (we didn’t taste those, but we did try bacon-topped marshmallows).

    Consider putting bags of fine marshmallows in your Easter basket this year.

  • Read the full review.
  • If you lust after marshmallows, also see our earlier article featuring more marshmallow artisans.
  • The history of marshmallows.
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Change Your Sandwich Recipes For Spring

    Ah, spring. The days are longer, it’s getting warmer and soon spring vegetables will be in the market.

    Add some spring touches to your sandwiches:

  • Lose the iceberg. Instead of—or in addition to—lettuce, add baby arugula or baby spinach.
  • Add fresh herbs. You can use whatever you have on hand, from chives and dill to parsley, sage and tarragon. Basil leaves on a sandwich are a refreshing surprise—we use lots of them.
  • Change your mustard. If you used brown mustard (such as Gulden’s) all winter, switch to Dijon for spring (see our Mustard Glossary for many more ideas).
  • Change your mayo. Try the enchanting Ojai Lemonaise instead of conventional mayo. Ojai’s spicy mayos, including chipotle and wasabi mayo, are terrific. (As a quick fix, you can add lemon zest, chipotle powder, prepared horseradish or wasabi to plain mayonnaise—but it doesn’t achieve the heights of The Ojai Cook).
  •  

    Tandoori chicken salad sandwich, topped with
    pickled onions and cucumbers, from
    Fredi Sandwich Bar in New York City. Photo
    courtesy Fredi.

  • Change your ketchup. Exchange Heinz for chipotle ketchup or curry ketchup. We love the varieties from Montebelllo Kitchens, but you can also use a quick fix and add chipotle, horseradish or curry powder to plain ketchup. (Speaking of which, not all ketchup is created equal. See our favorite ketchups.)
  • Add some bacon flavor. It’s easy with Baconaise, bacon-flavored mayonnaise that’s actually kosher (as are the Ojai mayos).
  • Add a pickled or candied veggie. Cucumber, from marinated cucumber slices to pickles, perks up a sandwich, as does marinated sliced onion. We love the bread and butter pickles from Granna’s Gourmet from South Carolina, as well as her pickled onion “petals”. You can also do some quick pickling at home (see *footnote below). Cowboy Candy, candied jalapeño chiles that are sweet and hot, are another favorite.
     
    *Combine 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup salt in a small pot. Boil until sugar is dissolved; then reduce for approximately 2 minutes. Let cool; add sliced vegetable or fruit and marinate one hour or ovenight.

    How would you dress up a sandwich for spring? Let us know.

    Here are suggestions from Ian Forman, an owner of the new Fredi Sandwich Bar in Union Square, New York City:

    “Open up your refrigerator and pantry and be playful. Try combining ingredients that you wouldn’t normally think go together. The other day I mixed tuna with hummus and made a great tuna salad sandwich. Last year on a camping trip I learned that crisp fruit, like apples and pears, brightens up a boring turkey sandwich and adds a fantastic crunch. Greek yogurt makes a great spread instead of mayonnaise or mustard. Doctor it up with fresh herbs & spices. My favorites are basil, tarragon and cayenne pepper (not necessarily together) but use whatever you have in the house. And remember that a sandwich is not just for lunch. My favorite dinner is the meatloaf sandwich at Fredi.”
     
    Our favorite is Fredi’s barbecue brisket sandwich with pickled onions and jalapeños.

      

  • Comments

    EASTER: Bunnyware Easter Dishes

    Enhance your Easter table. Photo courtesy
    Williams-Sonoma.

     

    If only we weren’t saving up for a new stove, we’d get a few sets of these adorable Bunnyware glasses from Williams-Sonoma.

    The vintage-inspired bunny portraits are by Parisian artist Marc Lacaze. Four glasses are $29.00.

    While there are complete sets of Bunnyware dishes and serving pieces, you only need one holiday-themed item to dress up your table.

    We particularly like the glasses because, filled with water or another beverage, they can stay on the table for the entire meal.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Jalapeño Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Way back in 2005 we ran across SparX Cookies, a delightful chile-infused cookie line featuring Ancho Oatmeal Raisin, Cayenne Toffee Pecan, Chipotle Chocolate Chip, Chipotle Double Fudge and Jalapeño Peanut Butter flavors.

    What a great idea. The cookies were so good, we couldn’t stop eating them. Unfortunately, the line seems to have vanished into thin air. The website doesn’t connect and we can’t track down the owner. But SparX remains a happy memory: sweet little cookies, each specially kissed with a matching chile. (If you have the 411 on SparX, please let us know.)

    When we came across Chocopeño, “the world’s first jalapeño chocolate chip cookies,” we had high hopes. Alas for us, they weren’t the sweet, sizzling cookies from SparX. They were chocolate chip cookies with a strong vegetal kick of jalapeño.

    We weren’t happy with that flavor profile, and gave the rest of the cookies to anyone who wanted to take them home.

    Then it turns out that the home crowd—boyfriends and husbands—really liked Chocopeño.

     

    Chocolate chip cookies with a jalapeño kick.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE

     

    Who are we to argue? If you’re looking for something quirky, you can find Chocopeño online at Chocopeno.com.

    See our Cookie Glossary for the different types of cookies.

    See our Chile Glossary for the different types of chiles.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Portion-Control Dishes

    Portion-control dishes have subtle markings
    that say, “Stop here.” Photo courtesy
    Measure Up Bowl.

     

    Whether it’s a bowl of granola for breakfast or a glass of wine with dinner, we rarely notice exactly how many ounces we’re consuming. Anyone who has been to Weight Watchers knows that weighing and measuring is the way to have your cake and eat it, too.

    Portion-control dishes make it easy to check your portions.

  • Wine-Trax offers an 11-ounce wine glass with frosted rings for measuring 4-, 6- and 8-ounce pours. The same company produces Snack Trax, a 2-cup glass bowl with measuring lines at 1/3, 2/3 and 1 cup and a plastic lid for conveniently packing snacks. Meal-Trax, a plate with divider lines, helps out where we need it the most: portion control on the dinner plate.
  • Measure Up Bowl, available in two sizes (shown in photo), is a ceramic variation of the same idea. These Microwaveable Ceramic Portion Control Bowls are similar, but their markings are more like those of measuring cups. (We vastly prefer the former for their subtle elegance.)With these products, you can get an accurate wine pour, keep an eye on your portion sizes and ensure that you’re not inadvertently eating six ounces of granola instead of three ounces.And of course, being able to measure your food in the same bowl you eat from means one less thing to wash.

    The portion-control dishes are so pleasant to use, they take away any resentment about measuring.

  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Dufflet Small Indulgences

    In this “supersize me” era, small indulgences are most welcome.

    As we nibbled our way through a box of Dufflet’s caramel and milk chocolate coated pistachio nuts, six pieces a day (80 calories), we were reminded how luscious chocolate-covered nuts can be.

    We’ve been serving them, along with other Dufflet Small Indulgences, for dessert, with a cup of coffee or tea.

    The Dufflet line is divided into crackle (brittle), morsels (enrobed nuts and fruits) and tumbles (little cookies). The company, based in Canada, sells in the U.S. at select retailers and at Amazon.com.

    Instead of taking time to prepare a dessert after dinner—or for a light dessert after a heavy meal—create a confections plate with two or three choices. It’s fancy and casual at the same time.

    Learn more about Dufflet at DuffletSweets.com.

    Find more of our favorite candies in our Gourmet Candy Section.

     

    What’s for dessert? A trio of treats. From
    top: caramel-enrobed pistachios, chocolate-
    enrobed tart cherries and crackle. Photo
    by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

     

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Wash Silver Separately

    Photo courtesy Cambro.

     

    Kitchen chemistry applies to more than just food preparation.

    If you’re washing sterling silver and stainless steel flatware at the same time, keep them at opposite ends of the dishwasher basket.

    Electrolysis, a chemical reaction between the two metals, will wear away at the silver over time.

    The same thing goes for washing flatware in the sink: don’t soak sterling and stainless together.

    Of course, it’s best to wash fine silver by hand. Abrasive dishwasher detergents will gradually wear at silver’s surface. But facing a large post-party clean-up, the dishwasher is alluring.

  • Here’s how to care for your fine crystal.
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Steaming Vegetables

    Most of us don’t eat our recommended daily portions of fruit and vegetables (use this calculator to see how much you need).

    You can serve a side of vegetables with breakfast eggs, with lunch and of course, with dinner. At the end of the day, if we haven’t eaten our share, we steam vegetables as a snack.

    We steam them in the microwave, which couldn’t be easier. All you need are vegetables and a microwave-safe container (or a bowl and plastic wrap).

    Steaming retains more nutrients than other cooking methods, and maximizes the flavor and color of the vegetables. You can steam your vegetables to a crunchy/al dente state or any other consistency. But take care not to overcook: Better al dente than mushy.

    See complete steaming instructions for microwave and stovetop.

     

    Delicious, healthy, low in calories. Photo of
    steamed vegetables courtesy TenzanRestaurants.com.

     

      

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