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Archive for February, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Tzatziki, A Multitasking Food

Tzatziki tops minced smoked salmon for a
sophisticated appetizer. Photo by Grenouille
Films | IST.


Certain condiments are multitaskers, such that they can be used at different times of the day to make basic foods more interesting.

Salsa, from Mexico, is one example. Greek tzatziki (tsah-tsee-kee) is another.

A chilled mixture of yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt and some fresh herbs (dill, mint or parsley), the cucumbers can be seeded and finely diced or puréed and strained.

Classic uses in Greek cuisine include as:

  • A spread or dip with pita (try toasting pita wedges)
  • An omelet filling or sauce
  • Part of a mezze plate (add hummus, babaganoush, olives and pepperoncini, feta cheese)
  • A sauce or side with meat, poultry and fish entrées (we particularly love it with salmon)
  • A condiment for gyros and souvlaki*

    More ways to enjoy tzatziki:

  • As a healthy snack, with crudités or whole wheat pretzels
  • On a burger or sandwich, instead of conventional condiments
  • In a baked potato, with cooked vegetables and grains
  • As a garnish in cold soups
  • As a salad dressing (thin with some vinegar)
  • With salmon recipes (cucumbers and salmon are a natural pairing)
  • In a creative recipe of your choosing, such as the smoked salmon (or salmon tartare) in the photo above
    Made with nonfat Greek yogurt, tzatziki is one of the healthiest sauces or condiments you can find, tasty and low in calories.

    Try this tzatziki recipe.

    People with lactose intolerance can use soy milk yogurt or try buffalo’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk yogurts, all of which are more easily digestible than cow’s milk yogurt.

    More of our favorite dips and salsas.

    *What’s the difference between a gyro and souvlaki? The preparation and shape. Souvlaki is cubes of meat (lamb, pork, chicken), cooked on individual skewers. The word means “small skewer” in Greek. The meat can be served on the skewer, on a bed of rice or in a piece of pita. Gyro means “going around.” A leg of lamb or other meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The meat is sliced from the leg and served in pita. Döner kebap (“rotating meat” in Greek) and shawarma (“turning”) are other words from different regions, referring to the same food.



    TIP OF THE DAY: “Dessert” Coffee Recipes

    “Dessert coffee” has come to mean flavored coffees, which continue to grow in popularity. Flavored with extracts that add just two calories or so, one can have a “cup of dessert” in dozens of flavors, from Apple Pie and Chocolate Cheesecake to Crème Brûlée and German Chocolate Cake. (Try some Chocolate Fudge Brownie coffee.)

    But flavored coffees only substitute for dessert if you’re a serious calorie counter. There are other ways to approach “dessert coffee.” This recipe from Eight O’Clock Coffee shows how to really enjoy coffee and a dessert in a single cup.

    If this sweet, dessert-like coffee keeps you away from a piece of cake or pie, you actually save on calories. If you’re seriously counting calories, make a reduced-calorie version with caramel-flavored coffee (here’s one from Starbucks); whip some cream with powdered noncaloric sweetener and use a half dozen chocolate chips instead of the toffee candy.


    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon caramel syrup
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate toffee candy, chopped into small pieces

    Drink your dessert. Photo courtesy Eight O’Clock Coffee.



    1. Drizzle half of the caramel syrup into the bottom of mug. Pour in coffee. Add milk and whipped cream.

    2. Drizzle the remaining caramel syrup over the whipped cream. Garnish with toffee candy.


    You can turn this concept into a multitude of “dessert coffee” recipes.

  • Decide on the dessert you want to use—brownies, cookies, pecan pie, anything that can be cut into small pieces.
  • Coordinate the syrup. Caramel syrup and chocolate syrup cover all bases.
  • Add some liqueur, from a tablespoon to a shot.
  • Consider flavored whipped cream. Here are some recipes, from lavender to salted caramel.

    Find more coffee recipes.

    Find more dessert recipes.



    COOKING VIDEO RECIPE: Indian Naan Bread, Comfort Food


    If you enjoy baking bread, try Indian naan.

    Naan, which means “bread” in Persian, is a flatbread similar to the original, pocketless pita. It is usually leavened with yeast and baked in a tandoor (clay oven). This distinguishes it from roti, which is cooked on an iron griddle called a tava (almost all Indian breads are cooked on a grill or griddle).

    Chef Edward Hamann of Sur La Table’s cooking school demonstrates how to make this fragrant flatbread in a conventional oven (on a baking stone or pizza stone—if you don’t already have one, get a round pizza stone to serve both purposes). It bakes quickly, in just three to four minutes.

    If you’re a garlic lover, you can sprinkle minced garlic atop the bread before baking.

    You can serve naan with any cuisine whatsoever. For an Indian-style snack, add some chutney or raita, seasoned yogurt with cucumbers.

    Nigella Seeds

    Nigella is a lovely, delicate flower, grown in English cottage gardens since the Elizabethan era. Its triangular black seeds have been dried, roasted and used for flavoring since ancient times.

    The flavor of Nigella is similar to cracked pepper; the oil in the seeds has an aroma similar to oregano.

    If you can’t find nigella seed, also called kalonji—or don’t want to buy a spice for only one recipe—simply substitute celery seed, cumin seed or black or toasted sesame seed.

    Find more of our favorite breads and bread recipes.

    See the different types of bread in our bodacious Bread Glossary.




    RECIPE: Twists On The Margarita For National Margarita Day

    Here’s more Margarita madness (deliciously different recipes) in anticipation of National Margarita Day, February 22nd.

    This year, change it up with a Cranberry Margarita, Pomegranate Margarita or Grapefruit Margarita recipe. The first two recipes are from Avión Tequila; the last is Felix restaurant in New York City’s SoHo, where Avión Silver is the tequila of choice.



  • 1-1/2 parts silver (blanco) tequila
  • 1-1/2 parts pomegranate juice
  • 3/4 part orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier,
    GranGala, Triple Sec, etc.)
  • Splash of sour mix (equal parts lime juice and
    simple syrup)
  • Garnish: lime twist
  • Ice


    Flying Pomegranate Margarita. Photo
    courtesy Avión Tequila.


    1. Combine tequila, pomegranate juice, orange liqueur and sour mix into a shaker and shake vigorously.

    2. Fine strain over fresh ice or up in a martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist.


  • 1-1/2 parts silver (blanco) tequila
  • 2 parts sour mix (recipe above)
  • 3/4 part cranberry juice
  • Garnish: lime twist
  • Ice

    1. Combine tequila, cranberry juice and sour mix into a shaker and shake vigorously.

    2. Fine strain over fresh ice or up in a martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist.


    Grapefruit Margarita. Photo courtesy Felix Restaurant.




  • 2 parts silver (blanco) tequila
  • 1 part Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1 part grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 part lime juice
  • Rim garnish: half each coarse salt and cayenne
  • Ice

    1. Rim glass by moistening rim and twisting on a plate filled with salt/pepper mix.

    2. Combine tequila, Cointreau and juices into a shaker and shake vigorously.

    3. Fine strain over fresh ice or up in a martini glass.


    Find more of our favorite Margarita recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Store Coffee

    Advice circulates that coffee beans should be kept in the freezer to maintain freshness.


    Freezing the coffee coagulates the natural oils contained in the beans. These oils need to emulsify to produce the body and mouthfeel of the coffee.

    Coffee is best right after it is freshly-roasted. Beans can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks, but an airtight container is crucial. It protects the internal moisture of the coffee bean and keeps out odors.

    Of course, the best storage advice is to buy what you need as you need it. Fresh-roasted coffee should be purchased with other perishables. Large, bargain-size bags of beans or ground coffee are no bargain if they hang around for weeks (or months!), losing flavor.

    If you find yourself with too much coffee on hand, consider brewing iced coffee to keep in the fridge. Coffee is a source of healthful antioxidants. If you don’t have a caffeine sensitivity or high cholesterol, iced coffee is a refreshing cold drink.


    The best coffee is made with freshly-roasted beans. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.


    What About Ground Coffee?

    Ground coffee that is not in a sealed vaccum pack will begin to go stale within 24 hours after the coffee has been exposed to air.

    Connoisseurs with sensitive palates can notice a decline in flavor two hours after the coffee is ground!

    Light & Heat Are Enemies

    Keep all coffee away from direct light and heat. They begin to cook the coffee oils, and will affect the flavor and aroma properties.

    Coffee Trivia: Why The Lemon Peel?

    In Europe, you may see coffee—especially espresso—served with a piece of lemon peel. The peel is rubbed around the rim of the cup.

    This was originally used to counteract the taste of over-roasted, bitter espresso. The lemon oil in the peel blocks the bitterness.

    Italians traditionally serve top-quality espresso without lemon peel; to serve peel means the coffee isn’t as good as it could be. However, some people grew to enjoy a hint of lemon with their espresso. If you do it (we do), there’s no shame in serving lemon peel.


    Find information galore, recipes and things you never knew about coffee in our Gourmet Coffee Section.



    RECIPE: Get Ready For National Margarita Day With A Ginger Margarita

    Ginger adds some heat to a Margarita. Photo courtesy Spice Market | New York.


    National Margarita Day is next week: Wednesday, February 22nd. There’s plenty of time to plan a Margarita party, mixing up some special recipes. You can also throw a “Presidents’ Margarita Party” over the holiday weekend.

    The original Margarita consisted of tequila, Cointreau (orange liqueur) and lime juice; but there have been many variations on the theme since then.

    Here’s one riff from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market New York restaurant. It fuses ginger, a spice from Southeast Asia, with the Mexican-origin cocktail.


    Ingredients For Ginger Lime Syrup

  • 1 cup ginger root, peeled, chopped and puréed in blender
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh lime juice
    Ingredients For Each Margarita

  • 1 ounce reposado tequila
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce ginger lime syrup
  • Preparation

    1. Bring lime juice and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and add ginger. Let steep until liquid is at room temperature. Strain through a chinois,* pushing the pestle or (other tool) for total extraction.

    2. Combine all ingredients in rocks glass with ice. Shake vigorously.

    3. Crust rim of glass with ginger salt (a combination of 1/4 part ginger powder, 3/4 part coarse salt) and pour Margarita into glass. Squeeze lime wedge then drop in drink.
    *A chinois is a cone-shaped mesh strainer. These days, they can be hard to fine. Instead, stores tend to carry what is known as a Chinese cap. It looks like a chinois, but instead of mesh, holes are punched in metal, like a colander. If you can find a mesh chinois, buy it: It’s finer and useful for all straining. The size of the holes in a Chinese cap can allow small particles, such as strawberry and raspberry seed, through.



    PRODUCT: Fun With Cherimoya Fruit

    What’s a cherimoya?

    The heart-shaped subtropical fruit seems exotic because, depending on where you live, you may not come across it often. But seek it out: The tasty blend of mango, pineapple and strawberry flavors is worth it.

    Believed to have originated in the Andes Mountains, the name originates from the Quechua (Inca) word chirimuya, meaning “cold seeds” (because the seeds germinate at high altitudes). It grows as a shrub or tree.

    The pale green, shingled skin must be handled with care to avoid bruising. The ivory-colored flesh is creamy (similar to a ripe peach). Choose fruit that is firm and allow it to ripen at room temperature. As it ripens, the skin will turn a darker green and will yield to gentle pressure. Refrigerate soft fruit and use as soon as possible for best flavor.


    A ripe, creamy cherimoya. Photo

    To enjoy a cherimoya, all you need is a spoon. Cut the fruit in half or into wedges and spoon out flesh, discarding the seeds. The creamy, sweet flesh has earned cherimoya the nicknames ice cream fruit, sherbet fruit and custard apple.

    It’s easy to add tropical flair by including Cherimoya in desserts, fruit drinks and salads. Try these recipes for starters:

  • Cherimoya Crème Brûlée
  • Cherimoya Fruit Salad
  • Cherimoya Meringue
  • Cherimoya Smoothie
  • Strawberry-Cherimoya Smoothie
  • Spicy Tropical Fruit Salsa

    One cup of cherimoya fruit has about 115 calories (11 ounces have about 300 calories). According to, it has this impressive nutrition profile:

  • 29% DV of fiber
  • 10% DV of manganese
  • 24% DV of potassium
  • 10% DV of protein
  • 20% DV of vitamin B1/thiamin
  • 24% DV of vitamin B2/riboflavin
  • 39% DV of vitamin B6
  • 28% DV of vitamin B9/folate
  • 60% DV of vitamin C

    If you can’t find cherimoya fruit locally, you can order it online from

    More of our favorite fruits.



    TIP OF THE DAY: 20 Ways To Enjoy Almonds

    Almonds: delicious and good for you. Photo
    courtesy National Almond Board.


    February 16th is National Almond Day.

    Almonds have long been known to have heart healthy benefits* (more about them below). Healthcare professionals recommend them for snacks, as substitutes for other foods, and even for breakfast.

    Fans of The Devil Wears Prada may recall one of the model-like magazine staffers counting out seven almonds for breakfast. You can actually have 25-30 shelled whole almonds each day.

    And you can enjoy almond nutrition in different forms, such as almond butter, almond meal (almond flour), almond milk and almond paste.

    *From the FDA: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”



    Our 20 tips don’t include recipes, but you can find plenty of almond recipes at


  • In cold or hot cereal, scattered over waffles or pancakes.
  • In yogurt (use fat-free Greek yogurt and a non-caloric sweetener; you can even add a teaspoon of cocoa).
  • Slivered with diced fruit in a cottage cheese parfait.
  • Slivered on a [whole wheat] bagel with cream cheese (almonds add protein to the carbs and fat).

  • Chopped or slivered in salads—green salad, cole slaw, macaroni or potato salad, tabbouleh, egg, chicken and tuna salad, you name it.
  • Slivered or chopped as a soup garnish.
  • Slivered on a sandwich, for flavor and texture. (We love wasabi almonds with grilled cheese, and buy several bags at a time at Trader Joe’s. Here’s a recipe to make your own.)


    Raw or roasted, plain, glazed or flavored, almonds are great snacking. The USDA has declared them heart-healthy, and the daily allotment per the FDA is 1.5 ounces, about 25 almonds depending on size.

    One ounce will fill a 1/4 cup measure, and you can actually purchase an attractive tin that holds exactly that many ($1.87—or recycle a mint tin to hold almonds). The tin fits easily in your pocket for grab-and-go. Give them, filled with almonds, as a nutritious gift.

    Enjoy almonds as:

  • As grab-and-go snacks. (you can mix in some chocolate bits or season with your favorite herbs and spices).
  • Instead of candy. Glaze them with some sugar.
  • Ground up in the food processor, and mixed with nonfat yogurt, cumin, cayenne, garlic salt and pepper for a protein-packed dip with crudités.
  • Instant oatmeal with an almond topping.

    Broiled fish with almond-cilantro salsa. Recipe. Photo courtesy National Almond Board.



  • In stir frys.
  • Chopped into a crust for chicken and fish.
  • Add to grains—crunchy rice pilaf, quinoa and other favorites.
  • On pasta.
  • As a garnish: raw, toasted or in a salsa (see the fish photo for recipe link).

  • On ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  • In puddings (chocolate pudding with almonds is a favorite).
  • In baked goods (we love almond macaroons and almond pie crusts).
  • As a healthy dessert: mix almonds with fresh berries, sliced banana or other fruit; use some light yogurt as a topping or sweeten some Greek yogurt).

    Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium and manganese and a good source of fiber, copper, phosphorous and riboflavin. When compared ounce for ounce, almonds are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin: a petite package with a powerful punch.

    A one-ounce serving has 13 grams of good unsaturated fats, just 1 gram of saturated fat, and is cholesterol-free. Unsaturated fat is the “good fat” that your body needs, and that may help lower low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad” cholesterol). You can find the studies here.

    One ounce of almonds (about 20 to 24 shelled whole almonds) provides 35% of your daily value for vitamin E, an antioxidant that may help promote healthy aging (a study reported in the Journal of the American Association [June 26, 2002] suggests a diet rich in foods containing vitamin E may help protect some people against Alzheimer’s disease).

    So Happy National Almond Day. Enjoy them guilt-free.



    POST-VALENTINE’S DAY CONTEST: Second Chance For Happiness

    You could take the cake: Just enter the
    contest. Photo courtesy Pepperidge


    Whether or not you had a happy Valentine’s Day, here’s a second chance for happiness:

    Pepperidge Farm is celebrating its new newest 3-Layer Cake, Red Velvet.

    One NIBBLE reader will receive a ”Second Celebration Kit” consisting of:

  • A cake serving set
  • A square cake platter
  • Coupons for three of Pepperidge Farm’s new Red Velvet 3-Layer Cakes
    Enter here by 4 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, February 17th. The winner will be contacted at the end of the day.


    Take a look at our delicious Cake Glossary.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Frothing Milk At Home

    Today’s tip comes from chef Johnny Gnall, who has discovered the joys of frothing milk at home. There’s no need to head to your favorite coffee bar when you can make frothy cappuccinos and lattes in your own kitchen.

    “I made a recent purchase that has changed the way I start the day,” says Chef Johnny. “It has turned my regular morning coffee into a genuine treat, making each cup feel and taste like it was served to me in a chic cafe, perhaps in Rome or Florence. It’s the Capresso frothPro Milk Foamer.

    “It couldn’t be easier to use. Simply fill the metal receptacle with milk, press a button (in addition to steamed milk or foam, you can choose cold, warm or hot, including cold foam for iced cappuccino) and watch as ordinary milk is whipped to steaming, frothy pulchritude—in less than a minute! Lowfat or nonfat milk foams the best: The fat in the milk weighs down the potential fluffiness.


    Little appliance, big foam. Photo courtesy


    “If you’re not a fan of foam, you can simply heat your milk to the temperature of your choosing. Warm or hot milk keeps the coffee warmer for longer. You can add foam to hot chocolate, too, or simply enjoy a glass of ‘latte milk.’

    But there’s more than frothy, steamed milk to a gourmet espresso drink (see the different types of espresso drinks).

    “To make authentic frothed coffee drinks, you need espresso, not regular coffee. If there’s no coffee bean specialty shop near you, you can buy good-quality espresso, whole or ground, at most grocery stores.

    “To make the espresso, I suggest using a moka pot, a classic stovetop espresso maker like this one from Bialetti. Yes, it’s another appliance, but it’s small, inexpensive (under $25.00), easy to use and should last you a lifetime. If you are lucky enough to have the expensive countertop barista-style espresso machines, more power to you.

    “Now that you have a few shots of espresso and a cup of foamed milk, you’re ready to construct your drink. But what to make? And how?

    “Many coffee drinkers know their go-to drink and just how they like it; but if you have the tools at your disposal, why not branch out? Here’s a list of the most popular espresso drinks and how to make them. If you try each one, you may have a few new drinks in your morning repertoire that will make it that much easier to rise and shine.”


    Make lovely lattes at home. Photo by Christian Kitazume | SXC.



    Espresso: This is the starting point for pretty much any gourmet coffee drink (and never spelled “expresso,” an unfortunate American error). It is stripped down, basic, strong and really quite wonderful on its own if you have fine espresso beans. It also gives you a chance to really appreciate the texture and flavor of espresso. Enjoy a quick shot down the hatch to get those eyes open, or sit and sip it leisurely on a weekend morning.

    Caffé Americano: This is basically an espresso dumbed down. I am convinced that the name was coined to make fun of Americans who cannot handle the bitter, often intense flavor of espresso. To make it, simply start with a shot or two of espresso and dilute with boiling hot water. You can go with a 1:1 ratio of espresso to water, or start with a shot and fill your cup the rest of the way with water. However you like it, you probably don’t want to be caught ordering one of these in Italy.


    Caffé Latte: This may be the easiest to start with if you are just breaking into espresso drinks. Start with a shot of espresso, fill the remaining space in the cup with delicious, soothing, steamed milk, and top it off with a touch of foam. The espresso flavor is there, but in a latte it exists in the background, somewhat muted by the abundance of milk. It’s a great beverage for someone who’s not into super-strong coffee.

    Cafe au Lait: This is, essentially, a French-style latte and another very accessible drink for those who don’t want intense espresso flavor. In fact, it isn’t an espresso drink at all; it’s made with regular, albeit strong French-style, coffee. Simply pour half a cup of extra-strong coffee and finish filling the cup with steamed milk. Foam isn’t traditionally found on a Cafe au Lait, but no one will report you if you add some.

    Caffé Mocha: This is the espresso drink for chocolate lovers. Start by covering the bottom of the cup with some quality chocolate syrup (being a resident of San Francisco, I like Ghirardelli). Then add a shot or two of espresso, stir a few times, and fill the rest of the way with steamed milk. If you’re not worried about calories, you can finish with the traditional whipped cream. If you make it correctly, however, the whipped cream isn’t necessary.

    Cappuccino: This is the drink for which you really need the foam. The traditional cup size is 6 ounces only; but hey, it’s your coffee, so use as large a cup as you’d like. What you’re going for is a 1:1:1 ratio of espresso, steamed milk and foam, poured in that order. This beverage showcases a balance of its ingredients and definitely has the greatest range of textures and flavors, from earthy to ephemeral.

    Macchiatto: From the Italian word for “marked,” this drink is mostly about the espresso, with just a tiny “marking” of foam and/or milk. To make it correctly, you should use a demitasse cup: Pour a shot of espresso, then add just enough foam to cover it. You can definitely use some of the milk itself (as opposed to just foam), and how much depends on your preference. However, this drink should really be all about the espresso with a complement of milk/foam. It’s the go-to espresso drink for coffee geeks and espresso enthusiasts.

    For less than $60.00, the Capresso frothPro is a worthy addition to the kitchen and a great gift. Get yours.



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