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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 April, 2011

FOOD TRIVIA: Fun Pizza Facts

 

 
Enjoy these fun pizza facts from Grande Pizza Co. of Boca Raton, Florida. Our favorite discoveries? Toppings in Russia include sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and red onions, and a popular Chinese pizza is topped with eel with thousand island dressing.

Find lots of pizza recipes in our Pasta & Pizza Section.
 

  

Comments

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chocolate Cheesecake Goat Cheese Log

Capri Chocolate goat cheese is a bettter-
for-you chocolate cheesecake. Photo by
River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

 

If you like chocolate cheesecake, here’s a better-for-you version:

Capri Chocolate chocolate goat cheese from Westfield Farms.

It’s better for you in at least three ways:

1. Less cholesterol/fat in general.

2. More easily digestible for people with lactose sensitivity.

3. Enjoying an inch-wide slice of the chocolate log, with or without a graham cracker or tea biscuit, is far more prudent than devouring a whole slice of cheesecake.

Read the full review.

Want a classic cheesecake recipe with cream cheese, mascarpone or ricotta?

Check out our 15 cheesecake recipes, including Chocolate Cheesecake and White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce.

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Baking With Parchment Paper

If you have trouble removing cakes from pans, no matter how much butter and flour you use to grease them, try the parchment paper technique.

Parchment paper, also called baking parchment or baking paper, is a grease-resistant, moisture-resistant, heavy duty kitchen paper. It is available in rolls, rounds and sheets.

You can find parchment paper in the supermarket alongside the foil, plastic and wax paper wraps, and also in specialty stores.

Parchment paper is different from wax paper. Wax paper is coated with wax, whereas parchment paper is impregnated with silicone. Parchment can withstand oven temperatures up to 500°F. Wax paper purportedly can be used up to 350°F, but we haven’t tried it. Parchment is our go-to-paper.

 

With parchment paper, cakes lift out easily.
Photo courtesy Beyond Gourmet.

 

There is no need to grease a cookie sheet/baking sheet that is covered with parchment, and cookie sheets don’t need “handles.” Cut the paper to the size of the metal sheet. But if the sides of a cake pan are not fully covered in parchment, butter them.

Another benefit of parchment: it keeps the surface clean, so there’s much less to wash up.

  • For rectangular cake pans: Line the pan with parchment, leaving 2-3 inches hanging over the long sides. To remove the cake from the pan, just lift by the parchment “handles.”
  • For round cake pans: Cut enough parchment to create the handles and place in the pan. Top with a round circle of parchment.
  •  

    How about baking zucchini bread using parchment?

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Prince William’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake

    Prince William’s favorite, Chocolate Biscuit
    Cake. Photo courtesy Lady Mendl’s Tea
    Salon | New York.

     

    Just because you’re not invited to the luncheon following the royal wedding doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it at home.

    We’ve got the recipe for Prince William’s groom’s cake, the Chocolate Biscuit Cake of his childhood. It’s also said to be one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite teatime treats.

    It’s a very rich chocolate refrigerator cake, made from ganache and tea biscuits.

    The recipe comes from royal chef Darren McGrady’s cookbook, Eating Royally. The book is an opportunity to see what the Royals eat and enjoy the exact same recipes served at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral Castle and Kensington Palace.

  • Here’s the recipe.
  • Find more cake recipes in our Gourmet Cakes Section.
  •  

      

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    MOTHER’S DAY GIFT IDEA: Decorated Shortbread Cookies

    Send sweet “Happy Mother’s Day” wishes with this collection of heart and flower cookies from Fancypants Bakery, maker of THE NIBBLE’s favorite decorated cookie gifts.

    Why are Fancypants cookies different from other decorated cookies?

    These are top-quality shortbread, not dry sugar cookies. You can taste the buttery goodness in each bite.

    The cookies are made with all natural ingredients, including enriched wheat flour, butter, pure cane sugar, eggs, vanilla and cream of tartar. Coloring is used only in the decorator’s icing.

    And the icing is delicious, too. Having tasted our way through cookies topped with too-sweet and hard-as-cement icings, we know a winner when we find it.

  • Buy Mother’s Day cookies online.
  • Find more of our favorite Mother’s Day Gifts.
  • Read our full review of Fancypants Bakery.
  •  

    Say it with shortbread hearts and flowers
    for Mom. Photo courtesy Fancypants Bakery.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Asparagus Season & Recipes

    The classic French preparation: asparagus
    with hollandaise sauce. Photo courtesy
    California Asparagus Commission.

     

    Asparagus has been popular since ancient times. The spring vegetable was cultivated by the Egyptians, appearing on a frieze dating to 3000 B.C.E.

    The Greeks and Romans liked asparagus so much that they dried it to enjoy after the short asparagus season (April-June) ended. The oldest surviving cookbook, De Re Coquinaria by Apicius, has a recipe for cooking asparagus. France’s King Louis XIV built special greenhouses to grow asparagus.

    Louis XIV (1638-1715) no doubt enjoyed his asparagus in what is now known as French style: with Hollandaise sauce, a rich sauce made from butter and eggs. In 1651, the great French chef François Pierre de La Varenne (1618-1678) published a recipe for Asparagus in Fragrant Sauce (Hollandaise) in his cookbook, Le Cuisine François.

    Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables: delicious, delicate flavor and only 20 calories per 5.3 ounces, or 4 calories per spear. It’s low in sodium, has no fat or cholesterol and is a good source of fiber, potassium and other vitamins and minerals.

     

    You don’t need a special asparagus pot; a regular steamer does just fine. Enjoy asparagus:

  • Steamed as a side: served plain or with melted butter, flavored mayonnaise, olive oil, vinaigrette and/or Parmesan cheese (try this recipe for Asparagus With Grapefruit Vinaigrette).
  • Oven roasted, with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper—and an optional topping of fresh-grated Parmesan.
  • In omelets and frittatas (recipes for asparagus frittata and asparagus scramble).
  • On a vegetable sandwich with roasted red peppers and other favorite vegetables.
  • In pasta, tossed with olive oil and garlic (try this Linguine With Asparagus & Parma Ham recipe).
  • Puréed into asparagus soup.
  • Added to salads (try a spinach and bacon salad, with feta or goat cheese).
  • As an hors d’oeuvre, with a prosciutto wrap; or try this recipe for asparagus crostini.
  • Pickled asparagus for snacking and garnishing (get it from Tillen Farms).
  •  

    The history of asparagus, shopping tips, cooking basics and 11 asparagus recipes.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Onion Dip Mix

    It’s been a long time since we made dip from a mix. Back in college, dip made from sour cream and French’s Onion Soup mix alongside chips and pretzels was all the rage.

    We were taken down memory lane recently when we received samples of Lays Dip Creations, dry seasoning mixes in Garden Onion, Country Ranch and Freshly Made Guacamole. (In some parts of the country, the products are branded as Tostitos Dip Creations.)

    The packets contain dry seasonings such as onions, garlic and a combination of herbs and spices.

    In these days of healthier eating, we’re surprised that the package directions indicate only sour cream as the base. Sure, you can buy reduced fat and nonfat sour cream.

    But we substituted 0% Fat FAGE Greek yogurt and loved the result. FOOD TIP: While fat has been called a “flavor carrier,” it actually coats the tongue and inhibits tasting the subtleties of the recipe. The less fat, the more you can taste the seasonings.

     

    Make a healthy, delicious lunch of yogurt-
    based onion dip and crudités. Photo courtesy
    Frito-Lay.

     

    We made a happy, healthy lunch of crudités (raw vegetables) and yogurt-based Garden Onion mix, using 0% Fat FAGE Greek Yogurt. We’re always happy when we enjoy something that is so good for us.

  • We liked the lively flavor of Garden Onion seasoning mix, and have put it on our shopping list.
  • Ranch isn’t generally one of our favorite flavors, so it wasn’t surprising that Country Ranch didn’t score well with us.
  • We’re still waiting for the avocados to ripen, so we’ll have to report back on the third flavor, Freshly Made Guacamole.
  •  
    The dips are all-natural and certified kosher by OU. They are soy free, MSG free and contain no gluten ingredients.

    Here’s a $2.00 coupon for FAGE yogurt.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have An Easter Chocolate Strategy

    Chocolate bunnies. Photo courtesy
    Burdick Chocolate.

     

    If large amounts of Easter chocolate are bestowed upon you and your family, develop a strategy for consuming it. Otherwise, it’s easy to overindulge.

    Forget all the media hype about chocolate as an antioxidant food.* Chocolate is not health food. It’s high in calories and fat. A 1-ounce serving of plain chocolate has from 140-160 calories and about 12 grams of fat. A 1.5-ounce Hershey bar, in comparison, has 210 calories, about half of which come from fat. (Note: Sugar and fat content varies by manufacturer.)

    *Most antioxidants can be processed out of chocolate, unless deliberate care is taken to preserve them.

    Jelly beans seem like a better bargain: 35 pieces have 140 calories and 0 grams of fat. But they’re composed almost entirely of sugar.

     

    Our personal Easter chocolate strategy: one or two servings a day for adults, three ounces a day for children. It’s a good way to teach kids about portion control and an equally important lesson: Ration your treats and you’ll be able to enjoy them longer.

    HAPPY EASTER

    HAPPY SPRING

    FROM THE NIBBLE EDITORS

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pomegranate Seeds

    Pomegranates are an unusual fruit. There’s no flesh, per se, inside that big red globe. Instead, there are scores of seeds, each covered with a translucent, ruby-colored juice sac.

    The seeds in the juice sac are called arils, a term that refers to a specialized outgrowth that covers the seeds. The edible parts of the mangosteen and the mace of the nutmeg seed are other examples of arils.

    Boxes of pomegranate arils, ready to eat, are available at many supermarkets. They’re an easy way to add sophistication to a variety of dishes.

  • Toss them into a green salad or fruit salad.
  • Garnish ice cream, sorbet and hot or cold soup.
  • Sprinkle onto dinner plates or platters.
  • Drop into clear cocktails such as Martinis.
     
    Two simple Easter desserts:
  • Ice cream or sorbet sprinkled with arils and a mint leaf.
  • Pound cake topped with whipped cream, arils and a mint leaf.
  •  

    A pomegranate and its arils—juice sacs
    covering the seeds. Photo by Kelly Cline |
    IST.

     

    As with raspberries, some people enjoy the crunchy seeds and others don’t. But the seeds are wholly edible—in fact, they provide fiber. Those who don’t like them can enjoy the juice, then remove the seed from their mouth with a spoon.

  • An overview of the pomegranate: history, health benefits and how to eat a pomegranate.
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: New Water Bottle Options

    3M’s Filtrete Water Station filters tap water
    into four bottles at once. Photo courtesy
    3M.

     

    Drinking bottled water may seem like a healthy habit, but consider this:

  • Four out of five water bottles end up in landfills. That adds up to more than 2 million tons of water bottles in landfills every year.
  • According to All-Recycling-Facts.com, nearly 250,000 plastic bottles are dumped into landfills every hour. Plastic bottles constitute close to 50% of recyclable waste in dumps.
  • Worse, the average time it takes for a plastic bottle to decompose in a landfill is close to 700 years.
  • Plastic dumped into the ocean kills sea life at an estimated 1,000,000 creatures per year.
  • Almost a quarter of all bottled water is transported across national borders. Not only are millions of barrels of oil per year used to create plastic bottles, but transporting the bottles also burns fossil fuels, to the tune of 1.5 million barrels of fossil fuel each year.
  •  

    But you can enjoy bottled water sustainably—and less expensively. Just buy a reusable bottle that you really like, and will enjoy carrying around.

    There are so many bottles that fit the bill, that they’ve become fashion accessories—options range from high-tech aluminum to leopard spots. Or, you can get special glass bottles that are shatter-resistant.

    Here are three of the best water bottle options we’ve seen lately:

  • The 3M Filtrete Water Station is an innovative product that allows you to filter water from the tap into four reusable bottles at a time. The bottles are dishwasher safe and BPA-free. The filter processes two and a half times more water than traditional pitcher-style water filters, and reduces sediment and chlorine taste and aroma. With the Filtrete Water Station, you can save up to 3,000 bottles of water per year. Click on the link for a discounted price of just $29.75.
  • The Pure Glass Bottle was developed by an environmental chemist who wanted to create a glass bottle—not plastic, not metal—that was sturdy enough to withstand an active daily lifestyle. Glass is one of the safest substances for contact with food and water. Pure Glass Bottle is safety-coated with a permanent, BPA-free, protective outer layer that is shatter resistant. We can vouch for this—we hit the bottle multiple times with a wrench and it was fine! It’s also dishwasher safe.
  • WaterGeeks makes several varieties of fun, stylish, environmentally friendly water bottles. Most impressive to us is their series of filtered bottles, which filter out chlorine, bad tastes and smells, chromium 6, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals. You can fill your bottle at any tap and be guaranteed safe and great tasting water.
  •  

    If you have a favorite water bottle, please share. And pass this thought along: Every day should be Earth Day.

      

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