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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 May, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Vinaigrette

We thank Whole Foods Market for providing the inspiration to make olive vinaigrette, a sauce for grilled vegetables, poultry, seafood and tofu.

Much as we enjoy olives, we’d never thought of adding them to oil and vinegar to create a rich dressing.

If you’re firing up the grill for Memorial Day, try this recipe:


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or other black olives
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into
    1/2-inch-thick slices
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 box cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  •  

    Serve olive vinagrette with grilled
    vegetables, poultry and seafood. Photo
    courtesy Whole Foods Market.

     

    Preparation
    1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking.
    2. In a blender or food processor, combine olives, vinegar, pepper, water, 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Blend until smooth and set aside.
    3. Place zucchini in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice, garlic, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill until well marked and tender, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
    4. Layer zucchini on a platter, drizzling each layer with some vinaigrette and sprinkling with some tomato. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

    To use the olive vinaigrette as a salad dressing, dilute it with more oil and vinegar, to taste.

    Find more of our favorite vegetable recipes.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Barbecue Month & Brothers Sauces

    Brothers BBQ sauces: layers of flavor.
    Photo by Sue Ding | THE NIBBLE.

     

    May is National Barbecue Month.

    Among all the products people send “over the transom” for us to try, the largest category by far is barbecue sauce.

    We often say that, if aliens invaded THE NIBBLE offices, they’d think that earthlings lived on barbecue sauce.

    Much of what we’re sent is very simple and sweet: ketchup or tomato paste with added sugar, brown sugar, and/or high fructose corn syrup, plus onion powder, Worcestershire and/or hot sauce. The number one ingredient on the label is often one of the sweeteners listed above, if that gives you an idea of the taste.

    We call these products “meat sugar.” While we like tomato-based sauces, we really don’t like sugar sauce on our meat.

    Only one barbecue sauce has ever been memorable enough to make Top Pick Of The Week, and we happen to sell it in The Nibble Gourmet Market: Grandville’s BBQ Jam (it’s as thick as jam). Treat yourself to a bottle or two—it’s a great Father’s Day gift.

     

    What about all that barbecue sauce that arrives weekly at our office?

    Every so often, a product comes along and stands out from the rest. In the past, we’ve written them up as a group:

  • The Best Barbecue Sauce: 2006
  • The Best Barbecue Sauces: 2007
  • The Best Barbecue Sauces: 2008
  • The Best Barbecue Sauces: 2010—this review includes an explanation of the seven different styles of barbecue: East Carolina, Kansas City, Kentucky, Memphis, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas
  •  
    You may have noticed that we didn’t do a “Best” review in 2009. What happened? Not enough contenders for an article.

    But we do have a nominee for 2011: King Brothers.

    In 1986, the King Brothers—George, Barry and Darryl—plus Daddy King had a friendly family barbecue cook-off. The winner continued to make his sauce for his family and friends.

    The fan base grew, and wanted more barbecue sauce than King could supply. Friends said that they would gladly buy it. One sauce-addicted friend referred to the sauce as “The GOLD,” which became the name of the first sauce produced under the label Brothers Sauces.

    “The GOLD” was followed by “The HEAT,” a wing sauce, and Spicy Brown Mustard “GOLD.” Whether on beef, chicken, pork or seafood (some people use it as salad dressing, too), the multi-layered tastes shine through. Sweet and tangy flavors join the rich tomato base to create a noteworthy suite of sauces.

    You can purchase Brothers Sauces from the company website.

    The brothers also make Granny Georgia’s Brown Suga Dessert Sauce. It’s a bit sweet for us, but our neighbor, to whom we gave the jar, was thrilled.

      

    Comments

    FATHER’S DAY: Have A Chocolate Cigar

    With Father’s Day less than a month away (June 19th), we’re beginning a countdown of Father’s Day gifts.

    If Dad likes milk chocolate, pass out the Seegars—creamy milk chocolate cigars from See’s Chocolate.

    Wrapped in brown foil and nestled inside a clear gift box, the “Seegars” have a traditional cigar band printed with an “S,” for See’s. You can find them at See’s candy shops and online at Sees.com. The three cigars weigh in at 3.19 ounces, and the box is $7.00.

    See’s chocolates are certified kosher by KSA.

    If Dad is a chocolate connoisseur, he’d prefer the chocolate cigars from Burdick Chocolate (shown in photo).

     

    On Father’s Day, hand out chocolate cigars.
    These are from Burdick Chocolate.

     

    A gourmet interpretation, these cigars, made of rum-flavored ganache cigars enrobed in milk and dark chocolate, look like the real McCoy. Burdick Chocolate has partnered with Grenada cacao farmers to build a chocolate factory on the island of Grenada. It turns the island’s finest cacao beans into the couverture chocolate used by Burdick.

    The cigars, delightful party favors, are $3.50 each; or six in a wooden “cigar box” for $28.00, at BurdickChocolate.com.

  • Read our review of Burdick Chocolate, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
  • Brush up on your chocolate terms in our Chocolate Glossary.

      

  • Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Hamburger Month & Hamburger History

    One of our favorite burgers, from Built Burger.

     

    We can thank German immigrants for one of America’s favorite foods, the hamburger (as well as the frankfurter).

    What became known as Hamburg steak or hamburger steak—chopped beef mixed with onions and pepper—appeared on American menus as far back as 1836, although the term “hamburger steak” first appeared in print in a Washington state newspaper in 1889.

    As with the frankfurter—a sausage in a bun—it took good old American ingenuity to wrap bread around a beef patty.

    Several American towns lay claim to this watershed in American cuisine. One of them is Seymour, Wisconsin, which claims that in 1885, one Charlie Nagreen was having trouble selling his meatballs at the Seymour Fair—it was hard for people to eat them as they walked around. So Nagreen flattened the ball of meat and placed the patty between two pieces of bread.

    That same year, the Menches brothers, who sold sausage patty sandwiches, ran out of pork at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York. Their butcher suggested that they use beef, and they christened the product the Hamburg sandwich.

  • Learn more burger trivia by taking this burger trivia quiz.
  • Tips to make a better burger.
  • Forty different burger recipes.
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Pudding Tarts

    If you weren’t motivated to make our vanilla pudding recipe (to celebrate National Vanilla Pudding Day, May 22), how about some creamy pudding tarts?

    If you want to make a special dessert in a hurry, grab some tart shells and—if you don’t want to make pudding from scratch—a box of JELL-O Cook & Serve Pudding & Pie Filling. Use the regular, not instant, pudding mix: It has better flavor and texture. However, if you want a sugar-free pudding, Instant is the only option.

    Our favorite tart shells are from Clearbrook Farms and Daphne Tarts, both NIBBLE Top Picks Of The Week.

    Tart shells are available at supermarkets, specialty food stores and baking supplies stores. If you can’t find them, create a “bottom crust” in individual serving dishes, using cookie crumbs (chocolate, graham cracker, etc.) or a piece of loaf cake (banana cake, chocolate cake, pound cake, etc.). For panache, create the dessert in a wine glass.

     

    Your inner pastry chef will see how easy it is to make a special dessert in a hurry.

    You can mix-and-match the “crust” with the different flavors of JELL-O Pudding & Pie Filling: Banana Cream, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Chocolate Fudge, Coconut, Lemon and Vanilla. The sugar-free variety comes in Cheesecake, Pistachio and White Chocolate, as well (but not Coconut).

    Take a look at this list of garnishes for your tarts.

    And consider this a family project: Let the kids or a non-cooking spouse/partner try their hands at making dessert (under your supervision, of course).

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Vanilla Pudding Day

    Vanilla pudding with a bottom layer of banana cake. Photo by Dream79 | Fotolia.

     

    Today is National Vanilla Pudding Day.

    Would you believe that the creamy, sweet comfort food started out as a very different dish: a bland, white stew made with chicken or fish, plus sugar?

    As far back as the 12th century, it was enjoyed by the wealthy at regular meals, and fed to them when they were under the weather.

    In the 17th century, the original dish—which most likely would have few takers today—evolved into the dessert pudding we know and love.

    Check out the history of vanilla pudding, along with a vanilla pudding recipe and a bunch of suggested garnishes.

    The recipe can be varied to make butterscotch pudding and chocolate pudding, too.

    For a special treat, fill tart shells with the pudding; garnish and enjoy a special dessert.

    Happy National Vanilla Pudding Day!

     

      

    Comments

    BOOK: Allergic Girl

    Sloane Miller lives in the foodie capital of America. Yet, amid all the temptation, she’s had severe food allergies since childhood: tree nuts, salmon, eggplant and many types of fruit.

    After years of blogging on the topic as a food allergy advocate, Sloane has turned her challenges into a helpful book: Allergic Girl: Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies.

    As an LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker), Sloane advises others on how to move beyond the fear of food allergies and live a full and enjoyable life while dining out, dating, attending work functions and traveling.

    Anyone who has food allergies—or a loved one with food allergies—will find this book very valuable.

    Have a gluten allergy? Check out our reviews of delicious gluten-free foods.

     

    People with severe food allergies can still
    enjoy great food. Read the book!

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Beyond Greens, Healthy Salad Recipes

    Switch a green salad for a bean salad, beet
    salad or hundreds of other options.
    Photo by Sarsmis | IST.

     

    Salad is more than a bowl of dressed greens, served as a first course.

    Leafy greens make up only one of seven categories in Chef Joyce Goldstein’s book, Mediterranean Fresh: A Compendium of One-Plate Salad Meals and Mix-and-Match Dressings.

    In the Mediterranean, “salad” includes everything from tabbouleh to white beans and prawns in a lemon dressing, to small plates of mezze, antipasti and tapas.

    Other salad categories are based on beans, fruits, grains and proteins, such as meat, poultry, seafood (and although not part of Mediterranean cuisine or this book, tofu).

    Vegetables need not be green: Think Beets and Greens with Yogurt Dressing and Moroccan Salad of Raw Carrots with Citrus Cinnamon Dressing.

    Alternative dressings change the nature of the dish. Substitute walnut vinaigrette with the beet salad and it goes from Greek to French. Substitute tahini dressing and it becomes Middle Eastern.

     

    From panzanella to parsley salad, some 140 mostly easy, healthy recipes (including 30 different salad dressings) will give new excitement to your daily “salad course.” You don’t need to buy a book, of course; you can find plenty of recipes online.

    MINT VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    Here’s Chef Goldstein’s recipe for mint vinaigrette. Toss it with matchstick-sliced zucchini and carrots; use it with asparagus, bean salad, beet salad, carrot salad, citrus salad, grain salad (bulghur or quinoa, for example), seafood salad and spinach salad.

    Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1-1/4 cup mild olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, tightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon honey (for low-glycemic recipe, omit or substitute with 1/4 teaspoon agave nectar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation
    1. Combine lemon juice and chopped mint in a small saucepan. Bring up to a boil and remove from heat. Let steep for about 10 minutes. Strain into a mixing bowl. You will have about 1/4 cup.
    2. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together. Toss with salad ingredients and serve.

    More about Chef Joyce Goldstein.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Healthy Fats For Cooking & Eating

    One of the biggest misconceptions in making food choices is that all dietary fat is bad for you. There are two types of fat. Saturated fat is bad for you; but unsaturated fat is good for you. Knowing your fats—what are healthy fats—makes food choice easy.

    UNSATURATED FATS: GOOD

    Essential Fat
    Essential fats such as Omega 3 are found in nuts and seeds. The body does not produce these fats but they are essential to health. They can be found in good quantity in dark-fleshed fish, nuts (walnuts have the most alpha linolenic acid, an important Omega3 )and seeds (flaxseed, hempseed).

    Monounsaturated Fat
    The healthiest type of fat, monounsaturated fat is actually beneficial fat. It promotes heart health and might help prevent cancer and a slew of other ailments. It’s best known for lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels without negatively affecting the “good,” artery-clearing HDL cholesterol. Avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil are rich in monounsaturated fat. Whatever fats you’re using now (other oils, butter, lard): switch over as much as you can to monounsaturated fat.

    Polyunsaturated Fat

    A moderately healthy fat, polyunsaturated fat lowers LDL cholesterol but also reduces levels of HDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fat is the predominant type of fat in corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil, among other vegetable oils. If you use these oils, trade up to a monounsaturated fat.

     

    Switch to monounsaturated fats: avocado oil,
    canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil. Photo by
    Zimmy Tews | BSP.

     

    SATURATED FATS: BAD

    Saturated Fat
    This is unhealthy fat and should be consumed in moderation. The body converts it into artery-clogging cholesterol, which greases the path to heart disease. Saturated fat is mostly found in animal products and is solid at room temperature. It is the white fat you see along the edge or marbled throughout a piece of meat and is the fat in the skin of poultry. So when you look at that beautiful marbled steak, recall that beauty is more than just skin deep—in this case, it can go deep enough to kill you. Saturated fat is also in “healthy” animal products like milk (except for 0% fat milk) and foods made from milk (cheese, ice cream), as well as in tropical oils such as coconut oil. One should limit one’s intake of saturated fat from animal sources. Unfortunately, the American diet is full of it. The saturated fat from plant sources, such as coconut, are more benign.

    Trans Fat
    Is there anyone who hasn’t heard that trans fat is the worst type of fat? A problem created by Big Manufacturing (and now being corrected by food manufacturers, in response to consumer demand and local government mandate), most trans fat is produced by forcing hydrogen into liquid polyunsaturated fat (the process is called hydrogenation). Margarine was traditionally made this way. The process gives the fats a longer shelf life and helps stabilize their flavors. When hydrogenated, the benign polyunsaturated fat is turned into trans fat, which is recognized by the body as a saturated fat. The body then converts the trans fat to cholesterol, which raises LDL levels and lowers HDL levels. What’s worse, researchers have discovered that unlike regular saturated fat, trans fat disrupts cell membranes, upsetting the flow of nutrients and waste products into and out of the cell, and may be linked to reduced immune function and possibly cancer. Trans fats do occur naturally in small amount in meat and dairy, but the primary source to worry about is in highly processed/artificial foods.

  • Anything called “partially hydrogenated” is a trans fat.
  • The USDA enables manufacturers who use trans fats to label their products “0 trans fat” or “contains no trans fat” if the amount is up to .5% trans fat per serving. Focusing on the nutrition label does not give you the whole story. You need to read the label closely to ensure there are no partially hydrogenated fats.
  •  
    YOUR CHOICE

    Your health goal should be to make dietary fat choices from the monounsaturated fat group (avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and/or peanut oil).

    Just be aware that fat calories add up quicker. Fat is very energy dense when compared to carbohydrate and protein. It contains more than twice the calories per gram (fat has 9 calories/gram, carbs and protein 4 calories/gram). Thus, if you consume the same amount (in weight) of fat as protein or carbs, your calorie intake will be more than doubled.

    Here are guidelines from the Harvard School Of Public Health:

  • Your daily fat intake should be no more than 30% of your total calorie intake. Multiply the number of calories you consume by .3 to find the number of fat calories you consume.
  • For a 2,000 calorie/day diet, 2,000 x .3 = 600 calories from fat. At about 100 calories/tablespoon, this equals 6 tablespoons of fat. As a perspective, a stick of butter contains 8 tablespoons.
  • To calculate by grams, 600 divided by 9 = 66 grams of fat. Since fat contains 9 calories per gram, on a 2,000-calorie diet you should take in no more than 66 grams of fat per day.
  •  
    Of the 30% of your daily calories that come from fat, no more than 10% should come from saturated fats. Thus, on the 2,000-calorie diet, consume no more than :

  • 10% Saturated Fat: 200 calories/22g (bad news: one Big Mac has about 45g saturated fat)
  • 20% Unsaturated Fat: 400 calories/44g
  •  
    It’s pretty easy math; and it puts you on the road to enjoying healthy, good-for-you fats.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Bison Meat

     

    Bison is an incredible red meat: sweet, juicy, and very low in fat/cholesterol (lower, in fact, than skinless chicken breast and many fish—see bison nutrition information).

    Bison meat is available in just about every cut that beef is. After all, cattle and bison are relatives with similar builds.

    But it’s precisely because there’s so little fat that bison needs to be enjoyed medium rare. If cooked further, there’s not enough fat to keep the meat moist.

    Whether you’re looking for a bright new taste or want to continue to enjoy red meat without high cholesterol, bison can be your new food buddy.

    This video shows how easy it is to cook a bison burger, bison filet mignon (with broiled, balsamic-glazed peaches) and bison strip steak (with caramelized onions).

    Let us know how your bison turns out!

    FOOD TRIVIA: There is no “American buffalo.” The animal erroneously called buffalo in the U.S.—the one that appears on the nickel—is the bison. Here’s the difference between bison and buffalo.

       

       

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