THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for October 27, 2011

COOKING VIDEO: Spicy Vietnamese Soup

 

Next week’s Top Pick focuses on a ready-made base for for phö—one of the world’s great soups.

But if you’ve got time on your hands this weekend, you may want to make some from scratch.

This recipe starts with beef shanks, oxtail, onions, ginger and star anise in a stock pot. Sliced beef and optional tripe make it meaty.

While Chef John Mitzewich of FoodWishes.com spends time bemoaning the fact that he didn’t buy oxtail for his soup, he gives you the “correct” recipe.

And with all due respect, you can ignore Chef John’s comment that phö is supposed to be a “painfully hot dish.” As with many recipes that come from the Pacific Rim, you should adjust the level of heat for your American palate.

   

   

Find more of our favorite soup recipes in our Soups & Stocks Section.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Food Plating For A Great Presentation

It’s easy to make your dinners look
this good. Photo courtesy SeaBear.com.

 

We’ve suggested this before, but are returning to this tip because food plating is an effortless way to make your meals look more exciting.

Instead of placing food in three separate piles on a plate, do what some fine restaurants do: create a “skyscraper” of food, topping each item with another.

The process is easy:

  • Plate the base. Start with rice, beans, mashed potatoes or mashed squash, vegetables or a chunky vegetable purée.
  • Top it with the protein.
  • Crown it with a third component: a complementary garnish that can be anything from sautéed mushrooms, spiced apple slices, crisped leeks, asparagus, pickled vegetables—whatever.
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  • Add an optional sauce. The dish above features “maître d’hôtel” sauce made of butter, lemon juice or vinegar, chopped parsley and seasonings. In France, it’s a popular accompaniment to fish, poultry and meat.
  • Snip fresh herbs over the dish: basil, chives, parsley, etc. (not shown in photo). We use kitchen scissors to snip them finely. They’ll add color, flavor and visual appeal.
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    Let us know your favorite combinations.

      

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    HALLOWEEN: Festive Chocolate-Covered Strawberries

    Show of hands: Are these Halloween strawberries cuter than yesterday’s meringue ghost cookies? Not as cute? A tie?

    You can send them as a gift, via SharisBerries.com.

    Or you can make your own.

    You can even plan a strawberry-decorating get-together this weekend. Ask a friend or two if they want to bring their own ingredients and join you. (They’ll also need to bring a baking pan to carry home the decorated berries.)

    Ingredients

  • 1 quart of fresh strawberries (1-1/2 pounds—you may wish to go for large or jumbo berries)
  • 8 ounces white chocolate (chocolate chips work fine), plus dark chocolate morsels if you want to make dark strawberries as well
  • Red and yellow food coloring (to create orange)
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    Who said boo? Photo of chocolate-covered berries courtesy SharisBerries.com.

     

  • Halloween-colored sprinkles, confetti or other embellishments (check the cake-decorating aisle of your grocery store)
  • Parchment paper
  • Chocolate tempering machine or substitute (if you find that you enjoy making chocolate-covered berries and want to do it regularly, you can pick up an inexpensive electric melting pot)
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    Preparation

    1. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and completely dry the strawberries so the chocolate will adhere properly. You may wish to do this a couple of hours in advance.

    2. If you own one or can borrow a chocolate tempering machine, great! If not, simply melt the chocolate in a microwave oven or double boiler. For the microwave, melt at half power for 1 minute in a microwave-safe bowl; stir, then heat at 30-second intervals until completely melted.

    4. For orange chocolate, whisk two drops of yellow and one drop of red food coloring into melted white chocolate; stir and continue to add color until you get the right shade of orange.

    5. Holding each strawberry by the stem, dip about half of it in chocolate. Give it a quick twist, shake off the excess and point it at the ceiling for a second, bottom side up, to be sure the chocolate adheres.

    Decorating The Berries

  • Confetti Design: Before chocolate dries, roll the berries in sprinkles or confetti. Place on parchment paper to set. You can also set the chocolate by putting the tray in the fridge for 5 minutes.
  • Jack O’ Lantern Design: Melt dark chocolate morsels or a plain chocolate candy bar. Pipe on the face using a pastry bag and a fine tip.
  • Swirl Design: Use the tines of a fork dipped into melted chocolate of contrasting color(s). Your swirls won’t be as thin and perfectly circular as in the photo, but a thicker swirl is just as good.
  • Ghost Design (not shown): Dip berries in white chocolate. With the tip of the strawberry as the top of the ghost’s head, pipe eyes in dark chocolate.
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