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Archive for December, 2011

TIP OF THE DAY: Bite Outside The Box With Tuna & Salmon Bites

A new way to be creative with your food:
Tuna Bites and Salmon Bites from Fresh
Gourmet. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


Fresh Gourmet makes the number one brand of croutons and salad toppings in the world: from premium croutons, to tortilla strips, nuts and fruit.

As we close out the year, we’d like to tip our hats to the company for its latest innovation: Tuna Bites and Salmon Bites.

Made in Spain, the bite-size squares of tuna and salmon have the texture of pâté, firm enough to hang onto a skewer or cocktail pick. The flavor is more elegant than canned fish. We’d call them gourmet bites.

The all-natural ingredients contain only tuna or salmon, salt, olive oil or sunflower oil, and flavors, and contain no other fish products.

  • Tuna Bites are available plain or with caramelized onions.
  • Salmon Bites are packaged plain or with smoke flavor.
    The company suggests them as salad toppers, of course: on a bed of greens, added to a seafood salad, and so forth.


    We love these little nuggets for the creativity they offer in garnishing, making snacks and canapés or other hors d’oeuvre. They make gourmet recipes for entertaining a snap.

    While the products are in limited distribution at the moment (see the store locator). The website offers a $1.00 coupon for signing up for recipe emails.

    Keep an eye out for Tuna Bites and Salmon Bites. They’re fun and fab. Here’s how we’ve used them so far:


    Ways To Serve Tuna & Salmon Bites
    We headed beyond the suggested salad topper, using the cubes of tuna and salmon:

  • On an endive leaf, as an hors d’oeuvre
  • Skewered with veggies (grape tomatoes, bell pepper squares, mushrooms) and/or fruits (grapes, melon balls, pineapple chunks, etc.)
  • As a drink garnish for Bloody Marys and Martinis
  • As a canapé, atop a cracker or slice of bread with pesto or flavored mayonnaise, garnished with sprouts
    We look forward to more creations in the new year. How would you use this little bites of protein?

    Find more tuna and salmon recipes.


    We created a Tuna Martini—or at least, a
    tuna garnish for a Martini. Delicious!
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.



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    TIP OF THE DAY: Key Up Some Key Limes

    In addition to a new year, this season heralds the return of that delicious little citrus, Key lime. While the peak season for Key limes is June through August, they’re in stores now.

    There are two principal lime types in American supermarkets: the Persian or Tahitian lime, which is what Americans think of as “lime” (see the many different types of limes), and the Key lime, which originated in southern Asia. After centuries of travel to different lands, it ended up in the Caribbean, including the Florida Keys, for which it is named.

    The Key lime has a higher acidity, a stronger aroma, and a thinner rind than the Persian lime, and is tart rather than sour. That makes it just right for desserts.

    If you’ve only had Key lime pie made with bottled lime juice…well, you know the superior, sparkling flavor of fresh lime juice. Pick up some Key limes and make a Key lime pie from scratch. If you have an ice cream machine, make some key lime sorbet as well.

    You can use Key lime juice in any recipe that calls for conventional lime juice. Try it with olive oil on a salad, substituting for vinegar. Squeeze it in a cocktail. Enjoy Key lime season for as long as you can.

  • Key lime pie recipe.
  • Key lime pot de crème recipe—same delicious filling without the crust.
  • The history of Key limes and Key lime pie.
  • Lime Glossary: the different types of limes.
  • Lime nutrition.

    The larger Persian limes with smaller,
    rounder Key limes. The color can range from dark green to yellowish. Photo by Evan Dempsey | THE NIBBLE.


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    APPETIZER RECIPE: BLT & Guacamole Crostini

    A guacamole BLT transformed into crostini hors d’oeuvre. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.


    What’s better than a BLT?

    Well, there’s a turkey BLT and our favorite, the chicken salad BLT.

    And then there’s the guacamole BLT. Guacamole can be added to any of the above; or turn the concept into bite-size crostini—BLT appetizers. Microsprouts stand in for the lettuce; or you can substitute arugula, watercress or other flat lettuce.

    This recipe was developed by Deborah Branby, chef/owner of The Cheese Board in Reno, Nevada, and provided to us by the California Avocado Commission.

    We’re serving it on New Year’s Eve.


  • 24 baguette croutons (recipe below)
  • 2-1/2 avocados*
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh
  • 4 slices crisp cooked bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup micro sprouts, micro greens, arugula or cress
  • Roasted cherry tomatoes (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto, thin consistency

    *Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados, adjust the quantity accordingly.


    Yield: 24 slices

  • 24 thin slices of a 2″ diameter baguette
  • Melted butter, as needed
    1. Brush one side of the baguette slices with melted butter.
    2. Bake at 375 degrees F until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Cool.


  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    1. Slice tomatoes in half and toss with olive oil.
    2. Roast at 400 degrees F until lightly browned, about 15 – 20 minutes. Cool.


    Yield: 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, fresh
    1. Mix together mayonnaise and fresh lemon juice.


    1. Coarsely mash the avocado and mix it with the fresh lemon juice.
    2. Top each crouton with 1 tablespoon of the mashed avocado mixture.
    3. Top with 2 thin strips of bacon, micro sprouts, lemon aioli and roasted cherry tomatoes.
    4. Drizzle with pesto. Serve immediately.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Blackeyed Peas For The New Year

    If you’ve lived in the South, you may know the custom of eating blackeyed peas or other legumes on New Year’s Day. The dish is served for luck and prosperity in the New Year.

    The tradition dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops confiscated crops and livestock, leaving the population with little to eat.

    What remained were legumes and greens, which kept the populace from starving.

    It’s easy to honor tradition, with this easy blackeyed pea salsa. The recipe is by chef Tom Fraker and provided by If you’d like something heartier, try this blackeyed pea stew recipe.



  • 11 ounces blackeyed peas, cooked
  • 2 cups roma (plum) tomatoes, small dice
  • 1/2 medium red onion, small dice
  • 1 green jalapeño, small dice
  • 1 red Fresno chile, small dice
  • 1 Meyer lemon, juiced
  • 3 Key limes, juiced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Black-eyed pea salsa. Photo courtesy



    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and gently mix to incorporate.
    2. Serve with chips, beer, margaritas or your favorite beverage.


    Blackeyed peas (also spelled black-eyed) are medium-sized, ivory-colored beans with a large black coloration (the “eye”) on the inner curve of the beans, where they are attached to the pod.

    Related to the mung bean, blackeyed peas originated in Eastern Asia and were brought to the Americas with the African slave trade, and were a staple of many plantation diets. They remain best known as a Southern dish, where they are often served with ham and rice.

    Blackeyed peas have a sweet, mild flavor and firm texture, and absorb the flavors of a dish very well.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: End Big Meals With A Dessert Buffet

    A dessert buffet is a great end to a big meal. Photo by Agnes Csondor | IST.


    Some people celebrate New Year’s Eve quietly at home, some go to parties. Others watch firecrackers or participate in midnight runs and other group activities.

    We ring in the New Year with a dinner party featuring everything new: new recipes, wines we’ve never tried, even some guests new to the group.

    Five hours and seven courses later, it’s time for dessert.

    As many of us have found at big Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, getting up and walking around after the main meal ends helps to loosen up space for dessert.

    Get the moving started with a dessert buffet. Set the coffee and tea next to the desserts. Guests will not only have to move; they’ll have the opportunity to chat with people who haven’t been seated near to them.


    And, they can elect to cut small pieces for themselves. Those with no room left can participate with a spoonful.

    Your buffet can be as simple as a cake, a pie and a bowl of fruit. You can also call for a dessert potluck.

    Or, make choices from this list:

  • Candy—brittle, chocolates, truffles, marshmallows and any candy gift you’ve received
  • Chocolate-dipped fruit (here’s a recipe)
  • Cookies—we serve amaretti, macarons, meringues and shortbread
  • Custard or pudding—favorites such as crème brûlée, from-scratch chocolate pudding, rice pudding with dried cherries and cranberries
  • Fruit—much appreciated by calorie counters and those who don’t like sweets
  • Miniature cupcakes, cake pops or petit fours—always popular
  • Tarts
    A final tip: Be prepared to wrap up the leftover desserts and send them home with guests. That way, you’ll start the new year temptation-free.


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