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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for March, 2012

PRODUCT: Aunt Nellie’s Baby Beets

We love Aunt Nellie’s beets: whole beets, sliced beets, pickled beets, Harvard beets. The company is the largest provider of jarred beets.

And now, the brand has introduced Baby Whole Pickled Beets, sized just right for one bite. They’re available nationwide and a great boon to anyone who likes to make hors d’oeuvre and small bites.

  • Serve as a side dish straight from the jar.
  • Make easy appetizers. Skewer a baby beet with a mozzarella ball and a basil leaf, with a cube of cheese and a cornichon or olive, with a scallop or shrimp, or with tortellini (recipe below).
  • Toss into salads.
  • Garnish a martini.
  • Add to roasted vegetables, soups and other dishes.
    This recipe makes about 36 appetizers, 2 appetizers per serving.


    Baby beets make quick and easy appetizers. Photos courtesy Aunt Nelllie’s.




  • 1 jar (16 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Baby Beets
  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated tortellini, any variety
  • 1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto*
  • 2 tablespoons prepared vinaigrette
  • 2 medium bell peppers (any color or a combination), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Fresh herbs (such as parsley, basil, chives or thyme)
    *Thinly sliced strips of smoked ham or turkey may be substituted for prosciutto.


    Buy lots—you’ll love them!



    1. DRAIN beets well; discard liquid.

    2. COOK tortellini according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water and drain again.

    3. CUT prosciutto into 1×3-inch strips. Wrap one strip prosciutto around tortellini; skewer with appetizer pick.

    4. ASSEMBLE: Brush lightly with vinaigrette. Add one piece of bell pepper and one baby beet to skewer. Repeat until all beets are used. Arrange on serving platter. Sprinkle with herbs.



    COOKING VIDEO: Make Your Own Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


    Peanut butter cups: We love them!

    How can you make the everyday peanut butter cup even better? Create them yourself, using better ingredients than are used in mass-marketed PB cups.

    The trick is to buy the most delicious chocolate morsels (or gourmet chocolate) and the tastiest peanut butter. You can use your favorite “shade” of chocolate—dark, milk or white—as long as it’s great stuff.

    The good news: The “recipe” is easy.

    And it’s timely: You can make peanut butter cups for Easter, topped with jelly beans or other candy Easter ornaments.

    Have fun with this one!




    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Green Beer, Champagne Or Ginger Ale For St. Patrick’s Day

    Even if you have nothing planned and no time, you can still do something special for St. Patrick’s Day:

    Drink Green

    Make green beer, sparkling wine, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda (7-Up, Sprite) or club soda.

  • Beer: Add 5-6 green drops of green food color to a 12-ounce stein; pour in the beer.
  • Sparkling Wine: Add 2 drops of food color to each flute before pouring in the Champagne.
  • Soft Drinks: Use 6 drops of food color per eight-ounce glass prior to adding the soda.

    ANOTHER TIP: Pour any effervescent beverage down the side of the glass, rather than into the center. It preserves more bubbles.


    It’s easy being green on St. Patrick’s Day. Photo by MBPhoto | IST.


    Eat Green

    Color dips, condiments and other creamy foods green. Use 10-12 drops green food color per 1/2 cup of:

  • Blue Cheese Dressing: for chicken wings or salad
  • Mayonnaise: for a sandwich spread or dip for fries
  • Onion Dip Or Ranch Dressing: for chips, veggies, potato wedges
  • Sour Cream: For your baked potato or any favorite use
  • Plain Or Vanilla Yogurt: for any reason
    On St. Patrick’s Day, it’s easy being green.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Substitutes For Wine In Cooking

    Uh oh, no wine? Pick a substitute. Le Creuset French oven available at


    Sometimes when you’re preparing a recipe, you discover that you you don’t have wine, or find out that a guest does not consume any kind of alcohol.

    There are a number of substitutes for both red and white wine; although, advises chef Louis Eguaras, you need to be sure that the sweetness level of the substitute is appropriate to the dish (i.e., grape juice may not work in every dish).

    Red Wine Substitutes

  • Beef stock with apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Red grape juice diluted with water
  • Red vermouth
  • Red wine vinegar
  • A dab of tomato paste with the juice from canned mushrooms

    White Wine Substitutes

  • Chicken stock with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • White grape juice or lemon juice diluted with water
  • White vermouth
  • White wine vinegar with juice from canned mushrooms

    Keep A Supply Of “Cooking Wine”

    To be sure we always have wine, we take the last few ounces from a bottle of wine and fill up small repurposed bottles with tight caps—eight or sixteen ounces, one for red wine, one white. The limited amount of air keeps the wine usable for months and the small bottles tuck into the back of the fridge. You can keep topping off the “cooking wine” bottle: It’s O.K. to mix different wines.

    Never buy anything called “cooking wine”: It’s the dregs!



    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Corned Beef & Cabbage Egg Rolls Recipe

    We love this fusion recipe for St. Patrick’s Day: Corned Beef and Cabbage Egg Rolls. It’s from Dietz and Watson, purveyors of fine deli meats.

    Chinese egg rolls are filled with cabbage and bits of pork. Here, corned beef substitutes for the pork, creating an “Irish” egg roll. The recipe serves 4.



  • Eight 12-inch egg roll wrappers
  • 4 teaspoons sandwich spread for filling, plus more for dipping
  • 12 ounces corned beef brisket, finely shaved
  • 4 cups green cabbage, finely julienned to yield 2 cups cooked cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • stone ground mustard or Chinese mustard for dipping

    Substituting lots of corned beef for bits of pork makes this an “Irish” egg roll. Photo courtesy Dietz & Watson.



    1. COOK CABBAGE. Melt butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add cabbage and cook just until the cabbage starts to give off liquid and reduces in half. Do not overcook; the cabbage should remain crisp. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate cabbage until completely cool, at least two hours.

    2. MAKE EGG ROLLS. On a work surface, create double wrappers by layering one egg roll wrapper on top of another, flat. Spread each of the four doubled wrappers evenly with 1 teaspoon of sandwich spread. Pat cabbage dry with a paper towel. Distribute the cabbage on the wrappers and top with the corned beef. Heavily brush the edges of one egg roll wrapper with the beaten egg. Begin rolling the wrapper tightly around the filling. Halfway up, fold in the sides, then continue to roll the rest of the way. Repeat with the other wrappers.

    3. FRY EGG ROLLS. In a large, high-sided pot, heat the oil to 350°F. Gently drop in the egg rolls and fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain on a towel. Slice in half on the bias.

    4. SERVE. Serve with stone ground mustard or Chinese mustard for dipping.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: Jalapeño Poppers

    Some say there’s nothing better than hot
    jalapeño poppers with a cold beer. Photo
    courtesy Anchor Foods.


    Who knew that jalapeño poppers were invented by a major food company? We always figured they’d come out of some hip Tex-Mex restaurant.

    But it turns out that Anchor Food Products of Appleton, Wisconsin invented jalapeño poppers in 1992—making 2012 the 20th anniversary of poppers.

    The original poppers were jalapeño chiles stuffed with cream cheese or Cheddar, battered and deep-fried—a spicy American snack version of the Mexican dish, chiles rellenos (stuffed bell peppers). The company is a major supplier to restaurants, and that’s where most people head for poppers (here’s a restaurant locator), along with a “Like to Party” Facebook Sweepstakes).

    You can also find Anchor Poppers in the frozen foods section of the supermarket. Anchor’s expanded line includes seven flavors, the most popular of which are Original, Cream Cheese & Cheddar Cheese Jalapeño Poppers and Fire-Roasted Poblano & Jalapeño Popper Bites.


    Poppers are delicious with a beer, and can be served with a dip or sauce: marinara sauce, pepper jelly, ranch dressing, salsa or other favorite. We combine pepper jelly with fat-free Greek yogurt to add a bit of sweetness without the cholesterol; plus a breading of Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs.

    Try some now, or save them for Cinco de Mayo (on May 1st we’ll be publishing a video recipe for grilled [not fried] poppers).

    The History Of Poppers

    While the actual date of the product launch is lost to time, Anchor Food Products applied for a trademark on the term “Jalapeño Poppers” on April 30, 1992. Since the end of 2001, Anchor Poppers has been part of the H.J. Heinz family of brands; the poppers are produced by McCain Foods.

    Find more about Anchor Poppers.



    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Make Salads Exciting

    Advice from the experts: Eat more salad. Additional advice from the experts: Don’t load up the salad with fattening dressings.

    Here are 10 tips to make your salads so exciting, that a small amount of olive oil and negligible-calorie vinegar (or citrus juice) is all the dressing you need.

    1. Mix Your Greens. If you’re budget-conscious, use a base of the more affordable iceberg and romaine lettuces, but blend in two other salad greens. Arugula, endive, radicchio, mache, red leaf lettuce, red cabbage, spinach and watercress are generally available, or you can buy a small amount of mesclun to toss with the iceberg or romaine.

    2. Add “Secondary Greens.” Choose from broccoli, broccolini, broccoli rabe (rapini), cabbage, cucumber, fennel, green beans (raw or cooked), green olives, green peas, green onions (scallions), seaweed, snap peas, snow peas, zucchini and whatever we’ve left off this list.


    Mixed baby lettuces including red leaf lettuce, plus radicchio, sautéed red bell pepper and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Photo courtesy Bohemia Beer.


    3. Add Fruit. A few berries or grapes give natural sweetness and a color accent to any salad. But don’t overlook chopped dried fruit, diced melon or melon balls, figs, raisins, thin-sliced (matchsticks are great) apples and pears, and orange segments. Avocado is also a fruit.

    4. Use At Least Three Colors. For red accents, consider beets, cherry or grape tomatoes (larger varieties in season), fruit, red onion, red bell pepper or jarred pimento. For the yellow/orange group, try carrots (for fun, shave them into ribbons), chickpeas, corn kernels or miniature corn, diced/sliced potatoes, shredded Cheddar, summer squash, yellow beets, yellow bell pepper or yellow tomatoes. For black accents, use black beans, black olives, black sesame seeds. For white accents: crumbled cheese, diced/sliced potatoes, cannellini beans, water chestnuts.


    How creative can you get? This “salad” combines avocado, tomato and orange bell pepper with fresh herbs and a balsamic vinaigrette. Photo by Jan Infante | IST.


    5. Vary The Textures. Offset softer textures with some crunch (celery, Chinese noodles, croutons, fennel, iceberg lettuce, nuts, seeds, water chestnuts). Also add leftover cooked vegetables.

    6. Add Leftover Proteins & Grains. Toss in a bit of beef or poultry, some cubed tofu, tuna or other fish or seafood, or sliced boiled egg. We’re not talking “dinner salad” but just small flavor accents. Also add any leftover grains or starches for flavor as well as texture.

    7. Consider Some Cheese. A tablespoon of grated Parmesan, crumbled blue or goat cheese, or shredded semihard cheeses (Cheddar, Colby, Edam, Jack, provolone, ricotta salata and numerous others).

    8. Think Themes. Try to come up with a different theme each week. For example, Asian-inspired salad with baby lettuces, bok choy, daikon and sesame seeds, and a rice wine vinegar/soy sauce vinaigrette; an Italian theme with radicchio, romaine, sundried tomatoes and shaved Parmesan; a Mexican theme with lettuce, black beans, green onions and a salsa dressing, topped with shredded queso blanco or Cheddar cheese.


    9. Dress With Flavored Oils & Vinegars. Don’t be afraid of the “fat” from oil. Olive oil is a heart-healthy fat, and your body needs a tablespoon or two a day (the American Heart Association recommends two tablespoons). Spring for good vinegar; the bargain bottles can be acrid. And remember: white vinegar is for pickling, not for dressing.

    10. Use fresh herbs. Some herbs make the salad sing: basil, chives, dill, parsley, sage and thyme, for starters. Snip it into the salad prior to tossing, or use as a garnish. If you like heat, add some diced fresh jalapeños (remove the seeds and ribs).

    Now, we’re off to make a salad!



    ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPE: Barley “Risotto” Stuffed Cabbage

    Risotto is made from rice, but you can cook other grains in a similar fashion. Here, barley, which grows well in the northern Irish climate, gets the Italian risotto treatment. To add an Irish touch, the barley risotto is used as a filling for stuffed cabbage.

    The pearl barley used in this recipe has had its outer bran and husk removed, leaving a small white “pearl” of endosperm. Like white rice, pearl barley is not a whole grain.

    This recipe, which serves four, is from Justin O’Connor, Executive Chef at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. It will be served at the restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day.


    Ingredients For Stuffed Cabbage

  • 8 ounces pearl barley
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) vegetable stock
  • 7 ounces cream
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 large leaves of Savoy* cabbage

    Cabbage stuffed with barley risotto. Photo courtesy Guinness.


    *Savoy cabbage has a lovely crinkled skin. If you can’t find it, you can substitute conventional cabbage.

    Ingredients For The Tomato Sauce

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 28 ounces (800g) chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 ounces (75g) tomato purée
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup (200ml) vegetable stock
    Tomato Sauce Preparation

    1. Sweat. In a pan, sweat onion and garlic with olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Do not allow them to brown.

    2. Combine. Add the chopped tomato and tomato purée.

    3. Add. Add vegetable stock and season with salt and pepper.

    4. Cook. Cook over low heat for 7-8 minutes. Blend and serve.

    Stuffed Cabbage Preparation

    1. Blanch. Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes and cool in ice water.

    2. Sweat. In a pot, sweat the onion, mushroom and garlic with a little olive oil for 4 or 5 minutes, without turning brown.

    3. Add. Pour in the stock, barley and thyme. Cover with a lid and slow cook till barley is tender, adding more stock if needed. When barley is cooked, add the cream and Parmesan cheese and cook out for 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste.

    4. Stuff. Line 4 small teacups, acting as molds, with plastic wrap. Line each cup with a drained cabbage leaf, leaving some of the cabbage leaf extending over the edge. Fill the cups with the cooked barley risotto and cover with the overhanging cabbage. Use the plastic wrap to remove the stuffed cabbage from the cup. Twist the plastic wrap around the cabbage/risotto to form a ball.

    5. Serve. Add tomato sauce to the bottom of each dish; serve stuffed cabbage in the center. Serve while hot or reheat in the microwave.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Mashed Potato Martini

    Mashed potatoes are more festive in a
    martini glass…with custom toppings. Photo


    Yesterday we suggested a baked potato bar. Today, we’re adapting the idea to mashed potatoes—specifically, a Mashed Potato Martini.

    This could be the best mashed potato recipe: a fun and memorable way to serve guests.

    You dish out the mashed potatoes in a Martini glass, and then provide toppings for each diner to customize the dish.

    If you don’t have martini glasses, use whatever dishware/glassware you have, or consider plastic rocks glasses from the supermarket.

    If you want a special St. Patrick’s Day version, head to the green toppings underneath the main list.

    This recipe is courtesy of Erica Moore-Ciganovic, Chef/Owner of Bonne Bouffe Catering in Los Angeles. More wonderful potato recipes are available at


    Mashed Potato Toppings

    Offer some of these toppings—as many different choices as your time, budget and fun factor allow.

  • Dairy: compound butter, crumbled Gorgonzola, finely shredded cheese, freshly grated Parmesan, horseradish creme, sour cream, whipped Butter
  • Meat: crumbled hickory bacon, grilled tri-tip sliced thin, julienne of rosemary chicken, sautéed turkey sausage with cranberries and sage, spicy duck sausage with cilantro and spices, sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • Seafood: black caviar, garlic sautéed rock shrimp, Norwegian smoked salmon, poached lobster
  • Vegetables: artichoke hearts, basil pesto, caramelized onions, caramelized peppers, chopped scallions, chopped tomato salsa with capers, crisp potato ribbons, grilled zucchini and summer squash, hearts of palm, onion confit, onion crisps, roasted Japanese eggplant slivers, sautéed wild mushrooms, steamed broccoli, sundried tomatoes
  • More: country gravy, diced jalapeños, toasted pumpkin seeds, salt and pepper, herbs (basil, cilantro and parsley are good for starters), roasted garlic
    Green Potato Toppings

  • Creamed spinach
  • Diced green bell peppers
  • Green herbs: shredded basil, snipped chives, dill and/or parsley
  • Minced jalapeños (seeds removed)
  • Pesto
  • Salsa verde
  • Sliced green onions
    How many types of potatoes have you had?

    Check out our spudly Potato Glossary.

    Find more of our favorite vegetables and recipes.



    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Green Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

    If your family loves red velvet cupcakes, surprise them with these green velvet cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day. The recipe, from, is a small switch-up that will create a lasting memory.

    A green twist on classic red velvet, these cupcakes take basic cake mix to delicious new heights with the addition of Pure Vanilla Extract, green food color, sour cream and cocoa powder.

    This recipe, for 24 cupcakes, uses a cake mix. Feel free to bake your own favorite chocolate cupcakes from scratch.

    With the mix, prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.


    Ingredients For Cake

  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bottle (1 ounce) green food color
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  • Green sprinkles or sanding sugar

    Red velvet becomes green velvet for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy McCormick.


    Ingredients For Cream Cheese Frosting (White)

    Makes 2-1/2 cups. If desired, you can divide the batch in half and color one batch with 1/2 teaspoon green food color.

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 box (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

    1. Make Batter. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat cake mix, sour cream, water, cocoa powder, oil, food color, eggs and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed just until moistened, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes.

    2. Fill. Pour batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.

    3. Bake & Cool. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

    4. Make Frosting. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with butter, sour cream and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, until smooth. Makes 2-1/2 cups.

    5. Frost & Decorate. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Decorate with sprinkles or sanding sugar, if desired.


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