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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 July, 2011

PRODUCT: Soy-Go Lactose Free Creamer

Can’t have milk in your coffee? Try SOY GO.

 

One of our staff was recently diagnosed with lactose intolerance.

She switched to lactose-free milk and so did the rest of our office (no sense having multiple cartons of milk, and lactose-free tastes the same as regular milk).

However, she found herself out of luck at many restaurants. She tried bringing soymilk in Tetra Pak cartons (think juice boxes) with her, but found it wasteful to use just a couple of tablespoons and toss the remainder.

Instead of learning to like black coffee, she took a tip from our vegan photographer and discovered SOY GO, a creamer made from soy powder—the soy equivalent of Coffee Mate.

 

  • Coffee Mate is lactose-free, but it’s full of glucose, hydrogenated vegetable oil (a trans fat), palm kernel and/or soybean oil, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, sodium aluminum silicate, monoglycerides, aceylated tartaric esters of mono- and diglycerides, and artificial flavor and coloring.
  • In comparison, Soy Go is all natural, 100% organic, non-GMO and vegan. The ingredients are the finest soy powder, sugar, natural color, xanthan gum (a stabilizer), inulin (a fiber used to replace fat), natural flavors, dipotassium phosphate (prevents coagulation) and salt. It does requires more stirring to dissolve than Coffee Mate.
  •  
    There are 10 calories per packet. Each packet also contains one gram of fiber and one gram of protein. Packets are designed to “cream” a mug with 8 to 10 ounces of coffee.

    If you can’t find it locally (try health food stores and Whole Foods), you can buy it online.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chocolate Curls

    We have lots of chocolate bars and pieces of chocolate that have been nibbled on for reviews, as well as blocks of couverture chocolate (used for baking).

    When life gives you extra chocolate bars, make chocolate curls.

    Also known as shaved chocolate, the curls can be used to garnish cake, ice cream, pudding, hot chocolate (or iced hot chocolate), cappuccino or anything that can benefit from a bit of chocolate glamor.

    You can make dark, milk or white chocolate curls—or a combination. We’re particularly fond of white chocolate curls atop dark chocolate frosting.

    TIP: If you won’t be using the curls immediately, place them in a storage container instead of on a cookie sheet.

     

    Chocolate curls are a pretty garnish that
    adds an intense bite of chocolate.

     

    HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CURLS

    In addition to the chocolate, you’ll need a vegetable peeler, cookie sheet or storage container (we use a low, square Tupperware-type container), waxed paper and a toothpick (we use tiny tongs that our grandmother used to add saccharine tablets to her tea).

    For small curls, shave the narrow side of the bar; for wide curls, shave the broad side of the bar. You may have to practice to get the pressure right (maintain a steady pressure and speed).

    1. The chocolate bar needs to be softened: hard enough to shave, but not so hard as to be brittle. We put our bar in a cold oven for half an hour, or on the stove top for 10 minutes on each side (to be warmed by the pilot light).

    2. While the chocolate softens, cover a cookie sheet or the inside of a square or rectangular plastic storage container with waxed paper.

    3. Make the chocolate curls by drawing the vegetable peeler across the chocolate. Don’t use a light touch, as with a potato or carrot. You’ll need a strong and steady stroke.

    4. Use the toothpick to lift the curls gently onto the waxed paper. If you’ll be using them shortly, place them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to harden. Otherwise, store them in an airtight container in a cool place (we keep them near the vent of our kitchen air conditioner). Some people refrigerate them, but the quick transition from cold to a warm room can cause the chocolate to bloom.

    Once you get the hang of it, we think you’ll be using chocolate curls a lot!

    MORE CHOCOLATE FUN

    Check out our Gourmet Chocolate Section for tips, recipes, reviews, trivia and more.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Ice Cream Or Sorbet “Demitasse”

    An easy and impressive ice cream dessert.
    Photo courtesy Talenti Gelato.

     

    Here’s an ice cream recipe idea for a sweet yet light ending to a big dinner: ice cream demitasse.

    Use your demitasse (espresso) cups to serve small portions of ice cream or sorbet. They will be just enough to qualify as dessert, but not enough to go overboard after a big meal.

    Surprise your guests with a second flavor underneath.

    Garnish with a raspberry, lemon curl or chocolate shaving, and you’ve got a hit!

  • Ice Cream Glossary
  • The History Of Ice Cream
  •  

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto

    Fruit ices are thousands of years old, dating back to ancient China.

    But gelato, the first type of ice cream (see below for the difference between the two), is comparatively recent. It likely dates to Florence, Italy in the late 16th century.

    Some culinary historians believe that a multi-talented genius named Bernardo Buontalenti created gelato. Buontalenti, who spent his life in the employ of the Medici family, was, among other things, the impresario of the fabulous Medici banquets.

    While no historical record exists to credit Buontalenti with the invention, we can imagine the first time people tasted gelato at a huge Medici banquet.

    And whatever the history, the happy result is that we have gelato today.

    Talenti gelato is named after Buontalenti. We’ve had a great time tasting our way through the line, from the classic chocolate and vanilla to the subtle coconut to the sorbetti, which include an outstanding peach.

    Cool off this summer with a few pints.

     

    Talenti’s dense and delicious gelato, in pints
    and quarts. Photo courtesy Talenti.

     

    Talenti is available at fine food stores nationwide; there’s a store locator on the company website.

  • Read the full review.
  • Discover the difference between ice cream and gelato.
  •   

    Comments

    FUN: Iced Tea Facts & Trivia

    The Tea-Over-Ice Brewing Pitcher from
    Tea Forte.

     

    Eighty percent of the tea drunk in the U.S. is bottled tea, meant to be served cold.

    Who invented iced tea?

    It’s possible that centuries ago, some wealthy* person (or servant) in the tea-growing nations of Ceylon, China, India or Japan may have taken some ice from the ice-house to cool down a cup of hot tea.

    If it ever happened, the practice didn’t take hold, and no old recipes exist for it.

    *Before refrigeration, only the wealthy could afford to have ice cut from lakes and rivers in the winter and stored in ice houses for summer use. The oldest known ice house, built by a king in Persia, dates from about 1700 B.C.E. Most other people dug ice pits, lined with straw and sawdust. While commercial refrigeration was available by the late 1800s, the home refrigerator didn’t arrive until 1930. Prior to then, people used an insulated metal “ice box,” which held ice delivered from the “ice man” to keep perishables cold. When the ice melted, it was replaced.

     

    Iced Tea Enters The Recipe Books

    We don’t know who made the first iced tea, but we can approximate when it happened.

    The oldest known recipe for “sweet ice tea” (with lots of sugar) was published in 1879, in a community cookbook called “Housekeeping in Old Virginia” by Marion Cabell Tyree.

    The recipe calls for green tea, which was popular in the Colonies (Benjamin Franklin mentions it in his autobiography) before falling out of favor—likely because milk and sugar, the popular accompaniments, taste better in black tea.

    There’s also a newspaper clipping recounting the menu served at the 1890 Missouri State Reunion of Ex-Confederate Veterans, which included iced tea.

    The 1904 St. Louis Exposition

    What you’ll most likely find in books and online is that iced tea was inadvertently “invented” in St. Louis at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (often called the 1904 World’s Fair, but that term was not yet in use).

    As the story goes, Richard Blechynden, a tea merchant, was having limited success getting people to taste his hot tea in the intense summer heat and humidity of St. Louis. He had the idea to add ice into the tea, thus creating a refreshing, cool drink.

    Blechynden is sometimes referred to as a tea plantation owner, but in fact, he was an Englishman employed as the India Tea Commissioner. He headed an initiative, begun in 1896, to publicize the black teas of India and Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka) to Americans.

    According to TeaUSA.org, Blechynden and his tea samples were in the elaborately designed India pavilion. When he realized that it was too hot to get the crowds to taste free samples of his hot tea, Blechynden and his team did something ingenious.

    They didn’t toss ice into the tea, as is commonly written. Instead, they created a cooling apparatus, filling several large bottles with brewed tea and placing the bottles upside-down on a stand that allowed the tea to flow through iced lead pipes, emerging chilled.

    The “iced” tea was a hit at the fair, and a real boon to India tea awareness. After the fair, Blechynden took the lead pipe apparatus to New York City, offering free iced tea to shoppers at Bloomingdale Brothers’ department store.

    Green Tea Fades Away…For 80 Years

    Word spread, and iced black tea became a popular summertime drink. It led to recipes for tea punch, which included simple syrup, fruit juices (cherry, grape, lemon, orange and/or pineapple), lemon and/or orange slices, maraschino cherries, fresh mint and canned or preserved fruits.

    Blechynden’s efforts also raised the popularity of black tea as a hot drink. Interest in green tea faded—except to those who visited Japanese restaurants beginning around 1970—until the health-conscious 1990s.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Other Uses For Coffee Filters

    We recently retired several coffee makers, from cup-tops to oldies that no longer make the coffee as hot as we’d like. We found ourselves left with several boxes of filters that don’t fit our remaining machine.

    Fortunately, as we were searching through old emails, we found one from our friends at the Coffee And Tea Show, suggesting alternative uses for coffee filters.

    1. Strain Wine. If an old bottle has sediment or the cork breaks, put a filter inside a funnel and decant the wine into a carafe or decanter. The coffee filter will trap the sediment or cork pieces.

    2. Protect Good China. Coffee filters placed between plates and cups that are stacked for storage will protect them from chips and scratches.

    3. Make An Ice Pop “Napkin.” Slide the wooden stick of an ice pop through a coffee filter to catch drips and keep kids from getting sticky.

    4. Clean Windows & Glass. Use coffee filters as an emergency substitute for paper towels. They leave no lint or residue and can fit on your hand like a mitt.

    5. Line Flowerpots. When planting or repotting, first put a coffee filter over the drainage hole in the flowerpot; then, add the soil. The filter will prevent the soil from spilling from the bottom of the pot, yet permits proper water drainage.

     

    We don’t need this size filter anymore. So we’re
    using the remainder as paper towels.
    Photo courtesy Melitta.

     

    The History Of The Coffee Filter
    Prior to the invention of the coffee filter, ground coffee was boiled in water, and the brew was strained through linen. Compared to today’s coffee, the brewing technique turned out coffee that was bitter, gritty and murky.

    In the summer of 1908, Melitta Bentz, a German housewife, posited that if she could pour boiling water over the grounds, instead of boiling the grounds with the water, the bitterness might be reduced.

    She punched holes into the bottom of a brass cup and lined it with blotting paper from her son’s school books—thus inventing the first coffee filter and the drip method. The ground coffee was placed into the paper-lined cup (today it’s a ceramic or plastic cone); water was poured over the coffee and it dripped into a pot below.

    The Imperial Patent Office in Berlin issued a patent to Melitta, and in 1912, after some fine-tuning, a company was established to sell the paper filters, and later, filter bags. The company is still in the family: Melitta’s grandchildren market not just filters, but coffee beans and coffee makers.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Java-Gourmet Coffee-Based Rubs, Sauces, Salts & Sweets

    Sauces are just the beginning of the coffee-
    accented products from Java-Gourmet. Photo
    by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Java-Gourmet is the story of two Bostonians who relocated to the sylvan shores of Keuka Lake in upstate New York. Surrounded by natural beauty, they began to roast coffee to order, slowly air-cooling the beans to retain their natural coffee oils—which hold not only flavors, but also antioxidants.

    A few years later, they released Java Rub, giving zing to pork, poultry, steak, beef and turkey burgers, chili, enchiladas, tacos and other foods. An artisanal, coffee-based specialty food company was born.

    Since then, the company has created a large line of products—more than 30 products, a lineup that’s unique in the marketplace—based on coffee (coffee is a favorite ingredient of Bobby Flay and many other chefs). If you haven’t yet cooked with coffee, it both adds a depth of flavor and helps to caramelize the surface of the food.

  • A Cornucopia Of Coffee Products. The rubs are joined by sauces and marinades, a coffee-based brine, a salt grinder (sea salt, peppercorns and coffee beans) and a finishing salt (a grinder with coffee beans plus garlic, paprika, herbs, spices, salt and pepper) that’s good on everything, including popcorn.
  •  

  • The Sweet Side. Java-Gourmet offers three varieties of chocolate-coffee bark: Java Bark, Java Bark Decaf and Java Bark Latte (a milk chocolate). They’ll delight any chocolate-and-coffee lover.
  • Java Sprinkles. The meal ends with a shake of coffee sugar—ground espresso blended with cocoa, cane sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar and spices. Originally developed to top cappuccino, cocoa and other whipped cream- and foam-topped beverages, Java Sprinkles have also found a place as a garnish for ice cream, puddings, tiramisu and buttered toast.
  • While all products are used year-round, summer grilling season is the perfect time to try out the rubs and sauces.
  • Try them at home and bring some Java-Gourmet gifts when you’re invited to a cookout. Plan ahead for stocking stuffers for everyone who likes to cook. All products are small-batch-produced, all natural and free of MSG, gluten and trans fat.
  • Click over to Java-Gourmet.com and treat yourself to a selection.
  •  
    Make Your Own Coffee Rub
    If you want to try it with your own ground coffee, we prefer a dark roast (espresso, French or Italian roast) for more flavor and a lighter roast for a more subtle flavor. For a lighter roast rub, add dried basil, kosher salt, lemon zest and/or orange zest, pepper and sea salt or kosher salt. For a darker roast, add chili powder, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper and salt.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sugar Free Sorbet

    There’s a lot of good no-sugar-added ice cream out there, but it’s tough to find a no-sugar-added sorbet.

    Even our sugar-free and lactose-free Top Pick Of The Week, Clemmy’s ice cream, offers only an Orange Creme flavor, a combination of vanilla ice cream and orange sorbet.

    But if you’re on a sugar-free diet and miss sorbet, you can make it yourself with unsweetened fruit juice or pureed watermelon and other fruits. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make granita, a “crunchy sorbet” (see recipes below).

    To make no-sugar-added sorbet or granita:

  • Freeze 2 liters of unsweetened juice in your ice cream maker, along with artificial sweetener equivalent to one cup of sugar (you can adjust the sweetener to taste—the less you use, the better).
  • Use maltitol as the sweetener. It can be purchased online in crystal or syrup form (syrup blends better into the juice). Splenda is a good second choice.
  •  

    Sorbet made with pomegranate juice. Photo
    courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

  • Find sorbet and granita recipes in our Gourmet Ice Cream Section. Substitute maltitol for the sugar.
  •  
    What’s The Difference Between “Sugar-Free” And “No-Sugar-Added?”
    No-sugar-added products still contain some sugar that is is naturally contained in the ingredients used. Milk, for example, contains lactose, or milk sugar. Plant and animal tissues contain dextrose; fruit contains sucrose.

    A product labeled sugar-free has absolutely no sugar. Whatever sugar occurs naturally in the ingredients has been removed. This is a much more expensive process, which is why most foods are no-sugar-added.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY & RECIPE: National Corn Fritter Day

    Corn fritters are a delicious side or first
    course. Photo © Monkey Business | Fotolia.

     

    Today is National Corn Fritter Day. What better reason to pick up some fresh corn and make corn fritters as a side or a first course? (When corn isn’t in season, use canned or frozen kernels, drained.)

    CORN FRITTERS RECIPE
    Yield: 4 servings.

    Ingredients

  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon minced tomato, sundried tomato,
    roasted red pepper or red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash paprika
  • Cooking oil for deep frying
  •  

    Preparation
    1. Beat egg yolk until thick. Add corn kernels, chives and tomato/red pepper.
    2. Sift together and stir into the corn mixture: flour, baking powder, salt and paprika.
    3. Beat egg white until stiff and fold into corn mixture.
    4. Drop batter from a tablespoon into fat heated to 370°F. Cook until a delicate brown, turning once.
    5. Drain on a paper towel.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pair Olive Oil & Ice Cream

    Some 10 years ago, we had our first taste of olive oil gelato. It was the creation of Meredith Kurtzman, pastry chef at Mario Battali’s Otto restaurant in New York City.

    It was a revelation—so creamy and luscious. We kept going back for more. The following year, Mario Battali kindly published The Babbo Cookbook, providing us with the recipe (below).

    If you don’t have time to make it, try pouring extra virgin olive oil over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Make sure it’s top quality and fresh (oil begins to oxidize when the bottle is opened, so if you don’t use it often, buy small bottles).

    Create a sundae by adding shaved chocolate* (more elegant than chocolate chips) or other garnishes (berries, candied nuts, chopped brittle, toffee pieces or whatever catches your eye). We often add a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

    Why is this recipe called gelato instead of ice cream? How do they differ?

     

    Olive oil adds creaminess to ice cream.
    Photo by Miskolin | IST.

     

    The simple answer is that gelato uses more milk than cream, and is more dense (less overrun, or air, is beaten in than with ice cream—but you can’t control the overrun with a home ice cream maker). Here’s the full scoop on the difference between gelato and ice cream.

    OLIVE OIL GELATO RECIPE
    Yield: 2 pints.
    Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil (use the best and freshest you can)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Optional garnishes (see above)
  •  
    Preparation
    1. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Use the whip attachment to beat them for 5 minutes on medium speed, or until the mixture is thick and very pale and forms a ribbon when the whip is lifted.
    2. Continue beating and drizzle in the olive oil; beat for 2 more minutes.
    3. Add the milk and cream and continue to beat until all ingredients are combined.
    4. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
    5. Place in the freezer in a covered container until frozen, about 4 hours or overnight.
    5. Serve plain, with a garnish (see above), or à la mode with your favorite cake, pie or brownie.

    Here’s an Olive Oil Ice Cream recipe with shaved Parmesan cheese.

      

    Comments

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