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Archive for November, 2011

RECIPE: Mushroom Gravy

If you need a delicious gravy recipe, here’s one from THE NIBBLE’s consulting chef, Eric Dantis. It will add mushroomy goodness to the turkey and soak into the mashed potatoes and stuffing.


  • 1 pound button mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed, stems removed and sliced about 1/8 of an inch thick
  • 1 half onion, diced roughly
  • 1 small carrot, diced roughly
  • ½ stalk celery, diced roughly
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • 2 quarts low sodium chicken stock
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • Wondra flour
  • Cooking oil: canola, olive or vegetable
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Mushroom gravy adds richness to the turkey,
    stuffing and mashed potatoes. Photo by
    J. Java | Fotolia.


    *Wondra is a brand of “instant flour,” a pre-gelatinized wheat flour mixed with some malted barley flour. It was formulated to dissolve quickly in hot or cold liquids, and is most popularly used to thicken gravies and sauces while avoiding lumps. If you can’t find instant flour you can substitute all-purpose flour. Use an immersion blender to blend out the lumps.

    1. Coat the bottom of a pot with oil and heat on medium-high.
    2. When oil is hot, add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mushroom stems, and about ¼ of the sliced mushrooms.
    3. Season lightly with pinch of salt and pepper.
    4. Sweat with no color for 10-15 minutes, until tender.
    5. Add thyme, bay leaf; sprinkle in flour.
    6. Cook for 5 minutes to toast the flour and cook out the raw flour flavor.
    7. Add soy sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.
    8. Add chicken stock, stir and increase heat to high.
    9. Bring liquid to boil then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
    10. Simmer for 30-40 minutes; skim off and discard any scum or residual grease.
    11. While the stock is simmering, brown the reserved mushrooms in a separate pot with some oil.
    12. After 40 minutes, strain the mushroom stock into the pot with the reserved browned mushrooms. Bring to boil over high heat; then reduce, maintaining a simmer.
    13. Reduce the broth by at least half, or until the flavor of the salt level is to your liking.
    14. Add half of the cream and bring back to a boil. The gravy should nap the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper.
    15. If the viscosity of the sauce is still too thin, sprinkle in Wondra a little at a time, whisking to avoid clumps. You need to bring the gravy to a boil in order to activate the gluten in the Wondra.
    16. Strain one more time into a bowl and keep warm until ready to use.
    17. If making a day ahead of time, do not add cream until reheating.

    Let us know how you like it!


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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bacon And Chocolate

    Chocolate with bacon and pistachios, chocolate bacon peanut butter cups and spicy bacon toffee. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    From coast to coast, from farmers’ markets to fine restaurants, the pairing of chocolate and bacon is the hottest combination to come along since salted caramels. Artisan confectioners have hopped onto the chocolate-and-bacon bandwagon.

    For this week’s Top Pick, we sampled 37 products from 27 confectioners who make chocolate and bacon confections.

    We tasted bacon chocolates, bacon-chocolate cupcakes, chocolate bacon caramels, chocolate bacon marshmallows, chocolate bacon marshmallows, chocolate-covered bacon strips and other chocolaty, bacony confections.

    What did we discover?

    Six winners and five runners up that make for delicious eating and gifting.

    Just about everything we tasted was good; but we sought a balance of chocolate and bacon. In more than a few examples, you couldn’t taste the bacon. In others, the bacon element was too salty (and we love salted chocolate and caramels).


    So take a look and discover a new way to enjoy chocolate…and bacon:

  • The history of bacon chocolate.
  • Why the flavor combination works.
  • What we reviewed: contestants, winners and runners up.
  • The individual product reviews.
    Find more of our favorite chocolates in our Gourmet Chocolate Section.

    Find our favorite chocolates in


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    TIP OF THE DAY: How Not To Overeat On Thanksgiving

    Thanksgiving dinner has some favorite foods that we only have once a year. The temptation is to have your fill on this special occasion.

    However, no one gives thanks for the opportunity to overeat. Here’s how to avoid stuffing yourself while still enjoying a great holiday meal:

  • Avoid finger foods, which tend to be the highest in calories and fat. Stick to raw vegetables. We find that one way to avoid the hors d’oeuvre is to chat with everyone there instead of obsessing about the food. Besides, eating the hors d’oeuvre fills you up for the main event.
  • Stick to wine, sparkling water or other judicious choice during cocktail hour. Mulled wine, toddies and other tempting choices may be loaded with sugar.

    Freedom From Want by Norman Rockwell.


  • Don’t eat the turkey skin. While most advice suggests white meat over dark meat, if you eat the skin on one but not on the other, and add cholesterol- and carb-laden gravy to moisten the white meat, the difference washes out (see the chart below).
  • Have a roasted sweet potato (no butter—the potato doesn’t need it) instead of candied yams.
  • Eat all the vegetables. Lay off the heavy sauces and salad dressings. Eat seconds of vegetables and salad before having any other seconds.
  • Avoid the bread basket. If you love biscuits, cornbread, etc., you probably just can’t have just one piece. Pass them by and treat yourself to a biscuit or some corn bread on another day of the year that doesn’t include a huge holiday meal.
  • Have a small piece of pie. By the time dessert comes, you may only have room for a small piece, anyway. Skip the whipped cream or ice cream.

    Per 3-1/2 ounce (100 gram) portion:

    Image courtesy University Of Illinois.

    Now that we’ve given our “public service announcement,” have a great holiday and enjoy a spoonful of anything—just don’t pile it onto your plate.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: American Cheeses For Thanksgiving

    A tempting selection of cheeses from Jasper
    Hill Farm
    in Greensboro, Vermont.


    We’ve gotten a spate of emails from cheese purveyors, recommending cheeses for Thanksgiving dinner.

    Amazingly, not one of them has suggested an American-made cheese! American cheeses have taken top honors in competitions worldwide. Attention must be paid!

    So we say to those vendors: On this most American of holidays, why serve something from France or England when there are so many magnificent cheeses made in America?

    Go to your town’s best cheese store and ask for recommendations for an all-American cheese plate.

    While we love every cheese produced by these cheesemakers, we picked our favorites to serve on Thanksgiving, as a dessert cheese plate:


  • Some of the heavenly goat cheeses from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery—and their butter, too (the butter is amazing, and the salted variety is the only salted butter we eat).
  • Truffle Tremor goat cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre of Arcata, California. Truffle Tremor and Humboldt Fog are icons to goat cheese lovers.
  • Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery, of Point Reyes Station, California.
  • The brilliant Point Reyes Original Blue, blue cheese made in Point Reyes, California (the blue cheese dip is to-die-for, too).
  • Barely Buzzed Cheddar, rubbed with ground coffee, from Beehive Cheese of Uintah, Utah.
    The great state of Wisconsin makes so many great cheeses, they could fill an entire cheese store (and in Wisconsin, they do!).

    On Thanksgiving, among our many blessings, we’ll give thanks for American cheeses.

    Find more of our favorite American cheeses in our Cheese Section.


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    RECIPE: Chicken Liver Stuffing

    As part of the Pepperidge Farm Challenge, we were inspired to make a chicken liver stuffing recipe in honor of our beloved grandmother (a.k.a. Nana), a terrific cook who made many Thanksgiving dinners for our family.

    While Thanksgiving is an all-American holiday, some families add foods from their ancestral lands to the traditional Thanksgiving menu. Our friend Ruth’s mother, an American of Italian descent, always had a lasagne course.

    Nana, an American of European Jewish descent, always made chopped liver as an appetizer. It was served with party pumpernickel and rye slices. As a child, we were delighted by the miniature pieces of bread.

    While we know more than a few people who “hate liver,” if they had only had Nana’s chopped liver from early childhood, they might be fans.


    We cooked the stuffing on the stovetop, Photo by Tony Segielski | IST.


    This recipe is truly delicious. If your guests are all adults who drink alcohol, add 1/4 cup of good spirits to the mix. The alcohol will burn off, leaving a delicious note of “something special.” See if your guests can guess what it is!

  • 2 tablespoons any vegetable oil (more as needed; taste oil for freshness first)
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, small dice
  • 2 small or 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound chicken livers, cut into quarters (toss in the turkey liver if you have one, cut to the size of the chicken livers for even cooking)
  • 2-3 cans chicken broth (12 ounce cans), or homemade stock
  • 1 pound turkey sausage (you can substitute a half pound of pancetta for the turkey sausage if you want a smoky, bacony flavor)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (your choice of type), sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, melted, for mushrooms and drizzling over the
    casserole, plus one stick, melted, to mix with the bread cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bourbon, brandy or whiskey (optional)
  • 2 packages Pepperidge Farm Stuffing (14 ounce packages)

    1. In a large, deep skillet over a low flame, add the cooking oil. When hot, add the celery, onions and garlic. When the vegetables are semisoft, remove and aside. Raise heat to medium add the livers, which cook quickly, 3 to 5 minutes, until pink in the middle. Don’t overcook.

    2. Purée livers in food processor, or can mash them with your fingers and remove the center vein. Add to sautéed vegetable mix.

    3. Remove the turkey sausage meat from the casings and add to the pan. Add a teaspoon of oil or butter if needed. Cook until just until the meat loses the pinkness and add to the vegetable/liver mix. Do not brown the turkey; it will finish cooking in the oven. Add mushrooms to the pan and sauté with butter until soft. Add to the vegetable/liver/turkey mix. (By using the same pan, the foods pick up the flavors from the previously cooked ingredients.)

    4. In a large bowl, blend the Pepperidge Farm stuffing with can of chicken broth. Add 1/4 cup melted butter, then a second can of broth. Add the bowl of vegetables, liver and sausage, along with the sage, tarragon, pepper and brandy. Add more broth as needed to moisten. Drier stuffing will be crunchy, wetter stuffing will cook up moister. Taste and add the salt as needed.Drizzle the top of each casserole with 1/4 stick (1/4 pound) of melted butter.

    5. Transfer to a butter-greased casserole dish (we used two three-quart casseroles). Cover and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 45 minutes.

    Enjoy, and have a happy Thankgiving!


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