THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for February, 2012

PRODUCT: belVita Breakfast Biscuits, The New Breakfast Alternative

Nabisco has introduced belVita Breakfast Biscuits: lightly sweet, whole grain, crunchy breakfast biscuits in Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry and Golden Oat. The concept is popular in Europe, and a welcome addition to American breakfast options.

“Breakfast biscuits” may not sound sexy, but think of them as very nutritious and tasty cookies. Yum!

According to survey data, 63% of Americans admit they are energy deficient in the mornings and 48% say that it is difficult to find a breakfast food that is both nutritious and delicious.

Nabisco, part of Kraft Foods, worked with nutritionists to create a cereal and breakfast bread substitute that provides nutrition plus sustained energy to help fuel the body throughout the morning. The sustained energy release results from both the ingredients and a special baking process that helps preserve the integrity of the grain, so that the carbohydrates are slowly released.

The company’s nutritionist spokesperson and author of The Sonoma Diet, Connie Guttersen, recommends the biscuits as a balanced breakfast with a piece of fruit and a serving of fat-free or low fat dairy—a banana, yogurt and nonfat latte or fresh strawberries and nonfat Greek yogurt, for example.

 

A “sustained energy” breakfast includes these delicious oat biscuits. Photo courtesy Kraft Foods.

 

Healthful food is always a good thing, but belVita biscuits taste great, too (although the Apple Cinnamon flavor could have used more apple and more cinnamon). The portion of four large, crunchy biscuits is very filling with a cup of coffee, tea or milk.

More Ways To Enjoy belVita Biscuits

The biscuits are also delicious with cheese; we’ve been serving them with Brie and goat cheese. All three flavors have a touch of sweetness and a rustic texture that work well with cheese. (The biscuits evoke Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers, called Wheatmeal Biscuits in the U.K., a longtime favorite with cheese).

More ways to enjoy belVita:

  • Spread them with peanut butter for nutritious snack.
  • Break pieces into yogurt for a “cookies and cream” effect.
  • Use them as a base for an open-face ice cream/frozen yogurt sandwich.
  • We love them as a comfort food snack with hot chocolate.
  •  
    Great taste and crunch, a bundle of nutritious benefits and the convenience of grab-and-go portioned packs should make these biscuits a winner. Nabisco only needs for you to try them and like them as much as we do. (The only thing we don’t like is the small “b” in belVita. It looks like a typo.)

    The biscuits are certified kosher (dairy) by OU.

    belVita Biscuits Nutrition

  • Fiber: 18-20g whole grains per four-biscuit serving
  • 10% daily value of iron, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and vitamin B6
  • No high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oils, no artificial flavors or sweeteners
  • A package of four biscuits has 230 calories
  •  
    There’s more information on the company website.

    Find more of our favorite crackers and bread products.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Indian Naan Flatbread

    Naan with a yogurt dip. Photo courtesy
    Stonefire Naan.

     

    Bread is one of our passions. We’d give up meat before we’d give up bread.

    Just about every society makes a delicious bread. India, a very large country, makes many. If you’ve been to an Indian restaurant, you’ve seen some of the regional specialties: chapati, dosa, naan, paratha and numerous others.

    We were thrilled to discover Stonefire Naan at our local supermarket, a buttery flatbread in original, garlic and whole grain varieties.

    Now, we can expand our bread choices. Even if you don’t care for the cuisines of India, naan fits in with most foods of the world—including burgers, PB sandwiches and wraps. You can also use it as a pizza-type base.

    Check out the full review, including recipes with naan bread.

    Want to bake your own naan? Here’s a video recipe.

     

    Find the different types of bread in our beautiful Bread Glossary.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Ways To Use Nutmeg

    There’s nothing like fresh-ground nutmeg. The pre-ground product is pallid in comparison.

    You may use nutmeg in baking—custards and pumpkin pie, spice cakes and cookies—and it’s de rigueur in egg nog. But what about savory uses?

    Following the demise of our decades-old nutmeg mill, we’ve been enjoying our new chrome nutmeg mill from William Bounds. We’ve been adding daily grinds of fresh nutmeg to coffee, eggs and greens.

    We asked THE NIBBLE’s chef Johnny Gnall how he uses nutmeg. Here are his favorite uses, along with some musings on nutmeg:

    Nutmeg is a bit of an unsung hero. It’s used in a surprisingly large number of recipes and dishes, but it’s rare that you notice it, especially up front on your palate. In fact, that’s kind of the point. Nutmeg is a spice often used to accent other flavors, the same way a recipe uses salt to bring out the flavor of other ingredients.

     

    Nutmeg. Photo courtesy Spice Islands.

     

    Nutmeg is often perceived as a “holiday spice,” but it’s delicious year-round. As with other spices, use it up as quickly as you can. Even a whole nutmeg in an airtight jar will dry out in a few years. If you’ve had the nutmeg for a while, pierce it with a pin. If you get a droplet of oil, the spice is still lively.

    10 SAVORY SHOWCASES FOR NUTMEG

    In desserts, nutmeg is often combined with allspice, cinnamon and clove. But nutmeg on its own is a pretty delicious flavor.

    Nutmeg is also a strong flavor, so you only need it in very small doses. Even a pinch can pack a punch that will kick things up a notch.

    Here are 10 ways to give new punch to your recipes with nutmeg. Remember to use it sparingly: Start with a tiny bit, taste often and pump the brakes as soon as its flavor gets to the front of your palate.

    1. Bacon & Pork Belly
    Bacon fans find it practically perfect in every way, virtually impossible to improve upon. It can be amplified, however. The next time you have a recipe with bacon as a primary ingredient (a quiche, perhaps?), try complementing it with a touch of nutmeg. Bacon and nutmeg are at very different ends of the flavor spectrum, but they share earthy roots. You may even start dusting your bacon strips!

    2. Béchamel
    A classic béchamel sauce is made with a dash of nutmeg early in the cooking process. In most fine-dining restaurants, béchamel is usually the start of mac ‘n cheese and other creamy pasta dishes. If you up the nutmeg just a touch, the new angle on a familiar flavor will surprise you. Just be sure to think ahead: If you are adding béchamel to a dish along with other cheeses or ingredients, be sure the flavors complement one another. Nutmeg doesn’t always play well with others (seafood, yes; mushrooms, not really).

     

    William Bounds nutmeg mill. Photo courtesy
    William Bounds.

     

    3. Carrots
    Roasted carrots with nutmeg is easy and will knock your socks off. Just toss roasted carrots in a bit of melted butter and season with fresh-ground nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

    4. Dough
    Bread dough, cookie dough, pasta dough, pie/quiche dough: Any of these can benefit from the kick a little nutmeg supplies. As with béchamel, however, make sure that whatever else you are putting in or on that dough does not clash with nutmeg.

    5. Goat Cheese & Burrata
    Take ordinary goat cheese and add a pinch of nutmeg to make it extraordinary. Add the seasoned goat cheese to salads, use chunks to garnish soup or just spread it on a slice of toasted baguette. Along the same lines of cheese enhancement, go for pure indulgence with burrata: A tiny drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of nutmeg create fireworks in your mouth.

     

    6. Hazelnuts
    A bowl of warm, toasted hazelnuts sprinkled with nutmeg is as perfect a holiday party snack as you can find. But don’t wait for the holidays: Serve them year-round with cocktails, wine and beer.

    7. Lamb
    Lamb is a protein that loves nutmeg—perhaps more than any other. If you season the meat with salt and just a teaspoon or so of nutmeg, as opposed to pepper, you will discover a delightful flavor profile. If you’re going to stew lamb, you’re in for a real treat with nutmeg. Remember, though, that with lamb, the “less is more” rule especially applies.

    8. Scalloped Potatoes
    A little nutmeg in the dish adds depth of flavor, while a dusting over the top will give you an up-front hit of nutmeg that then fades into creamy potato.

    9. Spinach & Collard Greens
    If you’re braising, add nutmeg early; you may want to re-up as the vegetables cook. If sautéing, a quick sprinkle when your greens start to wilt should do the trick.

    10. Squash & Squash Soup
    The nuttiness of squash, from acorn to zucchini, is accentuated by a sprinkle of nutmeg.
     
    FOOD TRIVIA

    The nutmeg tree produces two different spices, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the seed of the fruit that grows on the tree, and mace is made from a red substance that covers it.

      

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    RECIPE: French Margarita

    The traditional margarita—tequila, orange liqueur and fresh lime juice—is the #1 selling cocktail in the U.S. It has inspired many twists on the classic recipe.

    Today’s twist comes from popular New York City restaurant, Rosa Mexicano: the Margarita Francesa (French Margarita), using the popular French orange liqueur, Grand Marnier.

    The recipe was originally developed in honor of the 25th anniversary for National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15, 2011). We’re making it for National Margarita Day, February 22nd.

    This French-Mexican Margarita reverses the amount of spirit ingredients from a traditional Margarita for a more vibrant taste. The result, says Rosa Mexicano, is a profile that is smoother and more balanced with the enticement of the citrus notes and the complexity of cognac found within Grand Marnier.

    FRENCH MARGARITA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 1 ounce tequila
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Coarse salt for rim
  • Garnishes: orange wheel, lime wedge
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    The French Margarita, or Margarita Francesca. Photo courtesy Rosa Mexicano |
    NYC.

     

    Preparation

    1. Rim a glass with coarse salt.

    2. Combine Grand Marnier, tequila, lime juice, orange juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

    3. Strain into a tall glass with ice and garnish with an orange wheel and lime wedge.
     
    More Margarita Recipes

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Paneer At Home

    Cubes of grilled paneer. See the recipe
    below. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    It’s not easy to make most cheeses at home. But it is surprisingly easy to make paneer, a fresh cheese popular in Indian and other South Asian cuisines that ports nicely into Western fare.

    Paneer does not melt when heat is applied; it’s comparable to feta, halloumi and queso blanco in this way. It is also made without rennet,* and thus is a great protein source for vegetarians.

    Chef Johnny Gnall learned to make paneer at a Aslam’s Rasoi (rasoi means “kitchen” in Hindi), one of San Francisco’s most popular prominent Indian restaurants. He’s become a real fan of paneer.

    At the restaurant, chef Mohammed Aslam uses paneer in many of his dishes; one of the most popular is Saag Paneer, puréed spinach, fried paneer, herbs, spices and aromatics (here’s a recipe). The creamy texture of the spinach is complemented well by the supple paneer in this traditional Indian dish, but there’s no need to stick to the playbook when preparing paneer at home.

     

    *Rennet is the animal enzyme used to coagulate most other cheeses, although some cheeses are now made with vegetarian rennet.

    Make paneer at home with this easy recipe.

    It takes 24 hours for the block of cheese to harden, but the steps themselves are simple, as are the ingredients: milk, cream, vinegar and a piece of cheesecloth.

    HOW TO USE PANEER IN EVERYDAY DISHES

    In eggs. Cut paneer into very small cubes and fold into scrambled eggs; or sprinkle liberally over the top of a frittata or quiche before baking. Add some freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to make things pop; or try roughly chopped herbs to add some green and bright flavor. Alternatively, grill or fry a slab of paneer and top it with a fried or poached egg. It’s a different way to indulge and branch out at brunch.

     

    Paneer can be used raw or cooked. Raw, it has a mild and delicious flavor. Fried or grilled, it has its own special charms.

    Beyond Indian recipes, here are our favorite ways to use paneer in popular Western dishes. In most cases, you can use the paneer raw or grilled/fried. The cheese has no overwhelming flavors to conflict with other ingredient, and its texture is pleasant at any temperature.

    In salads. Less salty than feta but with a similar texture, paneer adds a bit of richness to any salad. You can cut it into cubes or simply crumble it with your hands. Its mildness enables it to work with just about any combination of ingredients or dressings.

     

    Raw paneer. Photo courtesy iGourmet.com.

     

    In a sandwich. You need little more than some crusty bread, a little olive oil and paneer to make a delicious sandwich. To add more layers of flavor, the sky’s the limit. The beauty of paneer is its mildness, which allows it to complement just about all meats and vegetables. Charred peppers, wilted spinach and lightly seasoned paneer make for a delicious combination. Sprinkle some curry powder on sliced chicken or turkey breast (or thinly sliced lamb), add some paneer, and you’ve got a sandwich worthy of a top Delhi deli!

    With roasted vegetables. From peppers to carrots to tomatoes to potatoes, roasted vegetables pair well with paneer. All you need to do is crumble some onto the vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven. Not only does paneer add variety to the way you serve vegetables, but kids usually love it.

    In soups and stews. The fact that paneer doesn’t melt makes it ideal for soups and stews. Simply cut it into cubes, or even slabs, and drop them into the soup just before serving. It adds some richness and creamy mouthfeel to a soup without significantly altering the flavor profile. Alternatively, you can fry the paneer first. Just blot it on a paper towel before you add it to the soup, to remove excess oil that would otherwise end up floating on the surface of the soup.

    Have fun with paneer!

      

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