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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 June, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Refreshing Mint Lemonade

Refreshing mint lemonade. Photo by
Petrelos | IST.

 

For years, we’ve had an appliance that we call an electric juicer or reamer. But times have changed.

With the introduction of large juice extractors to the consumer market—in which any fruit or vegetable can be converted to juice—our old juicer is now called a “citrus press.”

Call it whatever you want—we love ours. It extracts the last drop of juice from fresh lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits with barely a press of the fruit to the reamer.

Most people we know don’t have an electric citrus press. They use a manual citrus press. (Take a look at this unusual one that looks like a lovely bird sculpture, and gets rave reviews even though it looks like it won’t work.)

But the most dazzling citrus press has got to be the sexy new electric Krups Citrus Press. We’ve never called an appliance sexy before, but this stainless steel beauty is doing its best to seduce us into buying it and discarding our faithful old workhorse juicer.

 

While we deliberate the purchase, we’re using Old Faithful to make fresh mint lemonade. This recipe makes 1.25 quarts, or about 7 servings.

MINT LEMONADE RECIPE
Traditional lemonade is even more refreshing with the addition of fresh mint.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (8 large lemons)
  • 30 fresh mint leaves
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar (or equivalent sweetener of choice—we use 1/2 cup agave nectar)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 5 cups water
  • Optional: mint sprigs for garnish
  •  
    Preparation
    1. Press juice from lemons.
    2. In a pitcher or large bowl, combine mint, sugar and 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir until sugar dissolves (we use a whisk).
    3. Stir in lemon juice, rind and 5 cups water.
    4. Chill and serve over ice.

    LEMONADE TIPS

  • Make lemonade ice cubes so that melting ice doesn’t dilute the drink. If you don’t want to make more lemonade to freeze for the cubes, boil the juiced lemon shells in enough water to fill two ice cube trays. Simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool, fill trays and freeze. You can sweeten the cooled lemon water slightly if you wish. We don’t.
  • Try Meyer lemons in season (November to March) for a less tart lemonade.
  • Use any other citrus in the same recipe. Make mint limeade, orangeade or grapefruitade (now that’s a mouthful!).
  • Mix half lemonade, half iced tea for an Arnold Palmer. With the recipe above, you’ll have something new: the Mint Arnold Palmer.
  •   

    Comments

    JULY 4TH FOOD: Chilled Raspberry Soup With Blueberry Garnish

    This refreshing, chilled raspberry soup can be garnished with blueberries for a red, white and blue dessert. You can do the reverse as well: blueberry soup with a raspberry garnish. Make it in five minutes in a blender or food processor.

    The recipe is courtesy of EatWisconsinCheese.com, a great source of recipes with all kinds of dairy products produced in our second largest dairy* state.

    *The top 5 dairy producers, by total milk production, are California, Wisconsin, Idaho, New York and Pennsylvania.

    CHILLED RASPBERRY YOGURT SOUP
    Makes 4 six-ounce servings.

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons
    juice and 1-1/2 teaspoons zest)
  •  

    A delicious summer soup. Have it for
    dessert. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed, to taste
  •  
    Preparation
    1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
    2. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
    3. Garnish with additional yogurt and raspberries, if desired.

    More Fruit Soup Recipes

  • Chilled Papaya & Watermelon Soup
  • Melon Gazpacho
  • Fizzy Fruit Soup
  • Diet Fruit Soup
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Best Burger Meat

    A juicy Portabella Swiss Burger. Photo
    courtesy Certified Angus Beef.

     

    The best burger meat is a blend of cuts.

    Today’s tip comes from Chef Michael Ollier of the Certified Angus Beef brand—a specialist chef who focuses every day on the best way to prepare beef recipes.

    Great taste begins with the blend, advises Chef Ollier. Most fine chefs have developed their own custom beef grind for a signature burger.

    This summer, create your own signature burger. You don’t need secret ingredients, just a great custom blend.

    Start by asking your butcher for a custom ground beef mix of half brisket, half chuck.

  • Brisket is one of the most flavorful cuts for burgers. Most chefs choose the richer (read fattier) “second cut,” but if you like a leaner burger, ask for the “flat cut.”
  • Chuck is another favorite burger meat, with what many consider to be the perfect ratio of meat to fat.
  •  

    Then, try other blends, using tender short ribs and beefy top sirloin. By the end of the summer, you’ll have your signature blend down pat.

    And of course, it’s not just the cut but the quality of the meat. If you have a spending limit, serve smaller portions of beef (the recommended four ounces instead of double that), and pile on the lettuce, tomato, sweet onions, pickles and other ingredients.

    Signature Toppings
    In addition to a custom grind, decide on your signature toppings. Perhaps it’s corn relish, pickled onions, sautéed portabella mushrooms, sundried tomatoes marinated in herbed olive oil or arugula instead of lettuce—even grilled pineapple slices.

    We’ve been enjoying hot-and-sweet pickle mixes lately, from Mezzetta and Sechlers as well as smaller brands.

    What’s Certified Angus Beef?
    Certified Angus Beef® is a trademarked brand that licenses the trademark to ranchers who are approved by the licensor. Only cattle that pass stringent breeding standards can be distinguished as Certified Angus Beef; less than 8% of all U.S. beef is Certified Angus Beef. The brand promises the consumer consistently flavorful, juicy and tender cuts with generous marbling. It is available at more than 12,300 restaurants and retailers around the world.

    For more information and tasty recipes (including burgers), visit CertifiedAngusBeef.com.

  • Tips for making a better burger.
  • Know your beef cuts: Check out our Beef Glossary.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Vietnamese Summer Rolls

    What do you do on the first day of summer?

    Make summer rolls!

    In soft rice paper wrappers, Vietnamese summer rolls are light, crunchy and filled with healthful ingredients.

    Called gòi cuðn (pronounced GUY kwun), summer rolls are often confused with spring rolls. The confusion starts at the restaurant level, where the listing on the menu can sometimes be mistranslated (summer rolls are called spring rolls, for example), and continues online with many misattributions of photos and recipes by individuals.

  • Check out this refreshing summer rolls recipe from New York City restaurant Haru and create your own variations—vegetarian or with your favorite meats and seafood.
  • You’ll also discover the differences between summer rolls, spring rolls and egg rolls.
  •  

    Summer rolls are not fried! Photo
    by Lauri Patterson | IST.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mellow & Magnificent Castelvetrano Olives

    Castelvetrano olives from Mezzetta Foods.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Olive connoisseurs love Castelvetrano olives (pronounced kah-stell-veh-TRAH-no). And more than a few people decide that they like olives after tasting the delicious, bright green fruit, named for a town* in the center of their growing region, the province of Trapani on the western side of Sicily.

    *The cultivar is actually Noccellara del Belice, named for the valley formed by the Belice River, which flows across the sunny, verdant island.

    The olives are so good that in a land of many olives, they’re Italy’s number one snack olive—selling three to one over any other type of olive. These bright green gems are often referred to as “dolce” olives, the word for “sweet” in Italian.

    Castelvetranos debuted in the U.S. only in the last five years, starting in the olive bars of specialty food stores. They quickly became top-sellers. Mezzetta, one of our favorite brands (and the leading producer of glass-packed olives, peppers and specialty foods in the United States), was the first to offer them in jars in the U.S.

     

    The olives are harvested young (early in the season) and are cured in lightly salted brine, which accounts for their bright green color, firm, meaty texture and mellow, buttery flavor. Those who don’t like olives because they’ve only had stronger, brinier varieties may have found their olive.

    Some people say that Castelvetrano olives taste a bit like fine olive oil. That’s not surprising: Some of the finest olive oil comes from Castelvetrano olives (the oil is often called Noccellara—see footnote above).

    If Castelvetrano olives are pricier than other olives, it’s because the trees have only a fair yield. But you get what you pay for: Mild and seductive, they’re olive bliss.

    We buy them by the case from Mezzetta’s online store. We go through a jar a week.

    HOW TO ENJOY CASTELVETRANO OLIVES

    Drinks, Appetizers & Cheese

  • Pitted and added to a Martini
  • In an antipasto, with cheeses and salame
  • In a plated cheese course, with Manchego or mozzarella di bufala cheese and Marcona almonds
  • To garnish any cheese plate
  •  
    Salads

  • In green salads—with crisper lettuces such as romaine, endive and radicchio
  • In citrus salads, with red onion and fresh, flat-leaf parsley
  • With mixed baby greens, orange sections, shaved fennel and a light lemon vinaigrette (1 part lemon juice, three parts olive oil)
  • Chopped and added to vinaigrettes
  •  
    Sides

  • In couscous, with lemon juice, olive oil, sliced green onions, chopped flat-leaf parsley, salt and pepper
  • In a cold broccoli or Brussels sprouts salad with a lemon garlic vinaigrette
  •  
    Mains

  • In braised dishes: beef, chicken and lamb (first pit the olives)
  • With roasted dishes: fish, meats and poultry
  • In a red pasta sauce or a pesto: whole and pitted or sliced
  •  
    Snacks

  • As a snack with beer, wine and cocktails (while delicious plain, you can add some fresh rosemary and cracked pepper to the dish)
  • As a quick bite straight from the jar
  •  
    BEFORE ADDING TO RECIPES, REMOVE THE PITS
    Remove the olive pits with a cherry pitter.

    If you don’t have a pitter, crush the olives with the side of a chef’s knife and poke out the pits with a chopstick. Return the pitted olives back to the jar of olive juice to maintain their bright color. When exposed to air for a long period of time, their brilliant color will begin to turn brownish.

    You can buy Castelvetrano olives online at Mezzetta.com. Use the search box to get to the two options: a single jar (16 ounces, $6.00) or a case (6 jars, $27.00—a 25% discount).

    OLIVE HEALTH BENEFITS
    Olives are a very healthy fruit. Some people avoid them because of their “high fat content.” But that’s the same incredibly heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat that we’re encouraged to consume via olive oil.†

    †Monounsaturated fats have been found to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

    Olives have a trifecta of healthy components that work in synergy. In addition to the monounsaturated fats, olives are rich in the powerful antioxidant vitamin E–which neutralizes damaging free radicals–along with polyphenols and flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

    As a bonus, olives are also rich in copper and iron, and are an excellent source of fiber.

    Snack on!

  • Discover more types of olives in our Olive & Olive Oil Glossary.
  •   

    Comments

    JULY 4TH FOOD: Red, White & Blue Sorbet Float

    What happens the day after Father’s Day?

    We start planning our Independence Day menu.

    Tee up this Red, White & Blue Sorbet Float for July 4th or any hot summer day. The recipe is courtesy Van Gogh Vodka and uses Van Gogh Açai-Blueberry Vodka. But if you have another blueberry-flavored vodka at home (or a raspberry-flavored vodka), you can use it before buying more.

    RED, WHITE & BLUE SORBET FLOAT

    Ingredients

  • 2 ounces blueberry vodka
  • 1 scoop raspberry sorbet
  • 1 teaspoon coconut cream
  • 3 ounces milk (whole, lowfat or soy milk)
  • Fresh blueberries for garnish
  • Flaked coconut for garnish
  •  
    Preparation
    1. Add ingredients to blender and blend.
    2. Pour into a hurricane glass or other tall glass.
    3. Garnish with coconut flakes and fresh blueberries or other seasonal berries.

    More July 4th recipes are on their way!

  • Find more of our favorite sorbets and sorbet recipes in our Gourmet Ice Cream Section.
  •  

    Add a blueberry garnish to make a red, white
    and blue July 4th treat. Photo courtesy
    Van Gogh Vodka.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: More Affordable Champagne Cocktails

    A yummy Prosecco cocktail that can be
    adapted for kids. Photo courtesy
    Harvard Common Press.

     

    Champagne cocktails make any occasion more festive. And they don’t require Champagne, per se, but can use more affordable bubblies such as Prosecco and Asti Spumante from Italy, Cava from Spain and Sekt from Germany. You can also substitute red bubblies such as Italian Brachetto and Lambrusco, sparkling Shiraz and the many American sparklers.

    These alternatives work just as well in a “Champagne cocktail,” in which the mixers cover up much of the complex Champagne flavors for which one pays so much more.

    We’ve been working our way through a whole book of bubbly recipes—Champagne Cocktails: 50 Cork-Popping Concoctions & Scintillating Sparklers by A.J. Rathbun—that we enjoy giving as a gift, along with a bottle of Prosecco or Cava.

    Here’s a recipe from the book: the Tiziano cocktail, a “cousin” of the Bellini* that uses grape juice and Prosecco instead of peach purée and Asti Spumante. It’s easy to make an alcohol-free version by substituting ginger ale for the Prosecco.

    The grape juice-ginger ale cocktail with frozen grapes is very popular with kids!

     

    *Both cocktails are named for great artists. Giovanni Bellini was acclaimed as the greatest Venetian painter of the fifteenth century. Fifty years later, his former student, Titian (Tiziano Vecelli), was acclaimed as the greatest Venetian painter of the sixteenth century and the father of modern painting. We’re not sure if the Rossini cocktail, below, is named for the great 19th century Italian composer Gioachino Rossini or the 20th century Polish painter, Nicolaus Rossini.

    TIZIANO COCKTAIL RECIPE

    Ingredients For 4 Drinks

  • 6 ounces white grape juice (not grape juice cocktail)
  • Chilled Prosecco
  • Frozen green and/or red grapes
  • Champagne flutes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Add three or four frozen grapes to each flute glass.

    2. Pour 1½ ounces of grape juice into each flute.

    3. Fill the glasses almost to the top with Prosecco. Serve.

    Variation: Change the white grape juice to strawberry juice or strawberry purée and garnish with a strawberry (not frozen) instead of a grape. This drink is known as a Rossini.

    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Shredding Cheese

    If you’re fond of making cheese omelets, chili, pizza, quesadillas and other dishes requiring shredded cheese, you may have noticed that shredding semisoft cheeses can be more taxing than it should be. Cheese gets stuck in the large holes of the box grater, requiring ongoing unclogging.

    Here are two solutions:

  • Spray the grater with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Pop the cheese into the freezer for half an hour before you grate it.
  •  
    How To Use A Box Grater
     
    1. Place the grater on a plate.
    2. If the piece of cheese is too large, cut off a manageable piece.
    3. Rub the cheese up and down across the holes of the grater. Watch your knuckles!
    4. If cheese gets stuck in the holes, use a pastry brush or other brush to remove it. We purchased a nail brush from the drug store for this and other kitchen tasks.

    What’s New In Box Graters

    After 20-plus years, we finally traded up our old, dented box grater—a hand-me-down from Mom—for a 21st-century model. Some of the newer box graters have comfortable, non-slip handles and nonslip bottom rings that make a big difference.

     

    This tip makes grating easier. Photo by
    Darryl Brooks | Dreamstime.

     

  • We chose this box grater, from Cuisipro. We’re glad that we traded up. We love the better grip as well as the lovely aesthetic, and we make good use of the removable ginger grater base.
  • If we hadn’t seen the Cuisipro first, we’d have purchased the OXO Good Grips Box Grater. The cheese grates right into a plastic storage container and measuring cup. The cup has a lid to store extra cheese in the fridge. A great design concept!
  • When using a box grater, the fine holes are for grating hard cheeses, such as Parmesan. The large holes are for semisoft cheeses, such as Cheddar, Fontina and Gruyère, which are shredded rather than grated.
  •  
    If you don’t have a box grater, you can pulse the cheese in a food processor. Cut the cheese into 1-inch cubes. Spray the blades with non-stick cooking spray and pulse in small batches. You won’t get the longer shredded pieces, but if you’re melting the cheese, it won’t matter.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Hibiscus Punch

     

    Hibiscus is a popular ingredient in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Mexico. It’s used in beverages, salads, side dishes and desserts, among other things. It’s way overdue to break out in the U.S.

    Along with our Top Pick Of The Week—hibiscus iced tea—try this hibiscus punch, known in Egypt as karkadé (pronounced kar-kah-DAY).

    It couldn’t be easier to make the punch. If you can boil water, strain out the hibiscus leaves and add sugar, you’re there.

    This recipe in the video doesn’t contain alcohol—Islam, the state religion of Egypt, doesn’t permit alcohol.

    You can enjoy it as is, add your favorite white spirit (gin, vodka or tequila, for example), or substitute ginger ale for the alcohol.

  • Watch the video and see how quickly you can whip up an innovative (to Americans) hibiscus punch.
  • Make a saké hibiscus punch by adapting one of these saké punch recipes, or make the hibiscus punch recipe below (beneath the video).
  •    

       

    HIBISCUS PUNCH RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups dried hibiscus flowers*
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • Juice from one large lime
  • Optional: 1 cup alcohol (gin, vodka or tequila)
  • Optional: Lime wedges for garnish
  •  
    *Look for them at Latin or Caribbean markets. Also called roselle, flor de Jamaica and red sorrel, among other names. You can also buy it in an affordable bulk size online.

    Preparation
    1. Bring water and ginger to a boil. Remove from heat and add hibiscus flowers.
    2. Slowly stir in sugar until it has dissolved. Let steep 15 minutes.
    3. Strain into a large pot or a gallon pitcher. Add lime juice and set aside to cool.
    4. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, transfer to a pitcher. Serve over ice.

    NIBBLE TIP: You can make ice cubes from some of the punch, so the ice doesn’t dilute the drink.

    Comments

    RECIPE: Maple Bacon Muffins

    The last couple of years have seen a bacon frenzy: bacon chocolate, bacon brittle, bacon cupcakes, bacon mayonnaise and more (see our Best Bacon Gifts).

    Given that bacon is a favorite breakfast food, why not try bacon in a morning muffin?

    Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero, authors of Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story, have created this yummy maple bacon muffin.

    The muffin itself contains maple bacon and maple syrup, topped with maple frosting and a piece of bacon.

  • What are you waiting for? Here’s the recipe.
  • More muffin recipes.
  •  

    Bacon muffins are a special occasion treat.
    Photo courtesy Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero.

     

      

    Comments

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