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

PRODUCT: Q Kola For Cocktail Connoisseurs

Q Kola, an elegant mixer. Photo courtesy Q


A few years ago, a young Brooklynite enjoying a vodka and tonic happened to notice the calories on the tonic water bottle, along with other ingredients not up to par with his top shelf vodka. He became a man with a mission: to make an artisan tonic water from the best ingredients he could find.

The mission resulted in Q Water (Q for quinine). The company, Q Drinks, also produced a Q Ginger and a Q Club Soda.

And now, there’s Q Kola.

Like Q Tonic Water and Q Ginger Ale, Q Kola is clean, crisp, not too sweet and made in small batches with with all-natural ingredients. The whole line is more light in body than big-brand mixers. One reason is the house style, the other reason is that high fructose corn syrup, the main sweetener of big-brand mixers, adds body and mouthfeel.


If you’d like more elegance in your Rum and Coke, Long Island Iced Tea, Mad Bomber or other drinks among the more than 163 drinks made with cola, try Q Kola.

Packaged in a beautiful glass bottle, Q Kola is made with organic ingredients, including kola nuts, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, lemon, lime, orange and nutmeg (the flavorings found in cola). It’s lightly sweetened with organic agave nectar.

There’s a store locator on the company website. You can purchase Q Kola online at

Find more of our favorite soft drinks.


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TIP OF THE DAY: Pisco From Peru

At the end of each of the past four years, food trend analysts have predicted that Peruvian food will be the next hot cuisine in the U.S.

But do you know what Peruvian cuisine is? Have you had their national cocktail, the Pisco Sour?

We’re about to introduce you to Pisco. But first, some favorite Peruvian foods:

  • Ceviche, raw seafood cured in citrus juice
  • Shrimp cioppino, a type of bouillabaisse
  • Deep fried mashed potatoes stuffed with ground meat, eggs and olives
  • Beef heart kabobs
  • Grilled chicken or roaster chicken, one of the most consumed foods in the country
  • Green salsa, made with cilantro

    Pisco Portón, an “ultrapremium” brand of Pisco. Photo courtesy PiscoPórton.


    Where Would We Be Without These Foods?

    Some of our favorite foods originated in Peru, including potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts and several varieties of beans, as did the fashionable superfood, quinoa. On the fruit side, prickly pear, cape gooseberry, dragon fruit, cherimoya and tamarillo are Peruvian natives. All of these foods were cultivated by the Incas.

    The History Of Pisco

    Back to Pisco: The spirit was developed by Spanish settlers in the 16th century as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was imported from Spain.

    Not only did they have to wait for the cargo ship to show up; but pomace is not hard to come by. It is distilled from what’s after from pressing wine grapes (what’s left are the grape skins and seeds). European estate owners typically gave this residue to the farm workers, to distill for their own enjoyment. The end product, depending on the country, is brandy, grappa and other firewater.



    A Pisco Sour. Don’t you wish you had one
    now? Photo courtesy Pisco Portón.


    In the late 1550s, the Spanish settlers began to plant quality wine grapes. Peruvian farmers did the same as their European counterparts: They distilled a clear liquid from the pressed wine residue given to them.

    Pisco was discovered by sailors in the 18th century, when it became part of the growing Peruvian export trade. It was easier to transport Pisco up the West Coast from Peru than to transport whiskey overland from the East Coast. Thus, Pisco made its way to San Francisco, where it was enjoyed during the Gold Rush (1848–1855) through 1920, when Prohibition put the cap on alcohol.

    There are many Pisco brands, including what has to be our favorite name, Macchu Pisco (get it)? Today, premium brands are distilled from the wine itself, not from the residue. The category’s ullta-premium brand is Pisco Portón, an elegant distillate with fruit aromas and flavors; we enjoyed drinking it neat.



  • Pisco Sour: the national cocktail of Peru, made with lime juice, cane syrup, egg wite and bitters.
  • Alga-Robbina: a syrup from the carob tree is the mixer.
  • Beatríz: Pisco, granadine, cream, crème de cacao and cinnamon.
  • Biblia: Pisco, Port, egg yolk, crème de cacao, Curaçao and cinnamon.
  • Canario: Pisco with orange juice.
  • El Capitán: Pisco and red vermouth.
  • Calentito: Pisco with hot tea and lemon.
  • Chilcano: Pisco with ginger ale, lime juice and bitters.
  • Melate: Pisco with sweet wine.
  • Pisco Punch: Pisco with pineapple juice, lime juice and sugar.


    Ingredients For One Drink

  • 1½ ounces Pisco Portón
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • ¼ ounce egg white
  • 1 dash bitters

    1. Combine first four ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake.

    2. Strain into a chilled glass. Add a dash of bitters.

    Firewater is actually a generic term for alcoholic beverages that contain between 30% and 60% alcohol by volume—that’s 60 to 120 prove. The Spanish word is aguardiente, which means “fiery water” or “burning water.”

    Brandy originates from brandywine, the Dutch word for “burnt wine.” The spirit is named from Pisco, a town located on the coast of Peru. Often, products were named for the town from which they were shipped.
    Find more of our favorite spirits and cocktail recipes.


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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Ceviche Day & Ceviche Recipes

    June 28 is National Ceviche Day in Peru, where it one of the national dishes. The holiday has arrived in the U.S.—a healthy celebration.

    Ceviche—shellfish cured by citrus juice acid—has been popular in Latin America for many centuries. It dates some 2,000 years to an Inca dish of raw marinated fish.

    The dish was discovered by Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s; they added the lime juice and onion that are integral to modern ceviche. The name “ceviche,” pronounced say-VEE-chay, is thought to come from the Spanish “escabeche,” meaning marinade.

    Today, ceviche—spelled seviche or sebiche in some countries—is so popular that there are cevicherias, restaurants that specialize in ceviche.

    There’s a whole menu of ceviche, from different types of fish and seafood to country-specific preparations. Each country adds its own spin based on local seafood and preference for ingredients like avocado. Some add a dressing of ketchup or a combination of ketchup and mayonnaise.


    Shrimp ceviche. Photo courtesy Shrimp Council.

    Ceviche is delicious “health food.”

  • Fish and seafood are high in protein.
  • Citrus juice is high in antioxidants including vitamin C; and is a good source of potassium and folate.
  • There’s no sugar or added fat.
  • Ceviche is low in calories. Most fish have 30-40 calories per ounce; shrimp and lobster have 30 calories, bay scallops 25 calories and octopus 35 calories per ounce. Other ingredients such as chile, cucumber, herbs, onion and tomato add negligible calories.
    Try this classic shrimp ceviche recipe.

    Create your own recipe, using your favorite seafood, with this guide.


    Ceviche with mixed shellfish. Photo by Food
    Colors | Fotolia.


    Executive Chef Damian Gilchrist of the Ocean Reef Club in North Key Largo, Florida serves Florida Lobster “Ceviche-Style” with Watermelon Salad. Here’s his recipe, which serves 4 as a main or 8 as a first course.



  • 1 quart (32 ounces) lobster meat (barely cooked through)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pickled ginger
  • 1 1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes, skinned and
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Bermuda onions
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (you can leave this out, or use
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • For Serving

  • Watermelon slices
  • Mache lettuce (you can substitute mixed baby greens or arugula)
  • Balsamic syrup


    1. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl to thoroughly combine. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

    2. Serve atop watermelon planks with mache and drizzled with balsamic syrup. For balsamic syrup, reduce balsamic vinegar or buy a ready-made balsamic glaze.

    More on the history of ceviche.


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    PRODUCT: Cetara Anchovies, Among The Best

    Anchovies get a bad rap in the U.S. They typically appear on “most hated foods” lists. That’s because many people were first introduced to cheap, oily, odoriforus, overly salty and “fishy” tasting examples on pizzas or in Caesar salads at the local diner. (One reason they’re so intense is that casual restaurants don’t take the time to rinse the anchovies, but just scoop them up from the oil.)

    But in fact, these little fish can be truly delightful—still with a strong flavor, but one that’s delicious.

    The 144 species of anchovies, a salt-water fish related to herring. They live in many of the world’s oceans and seas, including the Atlantic, Indian, Mediterranean and Pacific.

    The good brands are things of beauty. Italians—who not only make some of the world’s best food, but as a society have among the most demanding palates—use them as a backbone in many recipes.

    If you’re willing to try again—or if you’re already an anchovy fan—you can get absolutely delicious anchovies from, an importer of Italian delicacies.


    Anchovies: quite lovely, actually. Photo by Kaan Tanriover | SXC.


    The anchovies come from Cetara, an enchanting fishing village along the Amalfi coast, on the Gulf of Salerno. They are packaged by Nettuno, a family-run company. Production is completely by hand, using simple but precise traditions of local anchovy preserving.

    The best anchovies are caught between March and July, when their flesh is at its most plump; Nettuno only fishes during this period. The fresh anchovies are immediately placed in oak barrels layered with water and sea salt and cured for about five months. The salt used by Nettuno is the exceptional sea salt that is hand-harvested in the salt panes of Trapani from, uncontaminated Sicilian waters.

    The result: anchovies that are are soft, moist and plump. It takes only a few seconds to rinse them in cold water and then put them too use.

    Get your Cetara anchovies here.

    And if you’re a true anchovy lover, try a bottle of Colatura, a descendent of the favorite Roman condiment, garum.


    This recipe is courtesy La Cucina Italiana and Chef Andrea Tiberi. It serves 4.


  • Coarse sea salt—Trapani or substitute
  • 2.75 pounds plum tomatoes
  • 1.1 pounds penne or other short pasta (Chef uses Martelli brand)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Chef uses organic Pianogrillo olive oil)
  • 3 ounces mixed baby greens (about 5 cups)
  • 8 ounces Piennolo tomatoes (you can substitute San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 12 salted anchovy filets, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon salt-packed capers (rinse and soak capers for 10 minutes, then rinse again)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chervil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped marjoram
  • Fresh ground black pepper

    1. Heat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Drop plum tomatoes into water and boil 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove tomatoes from pot (reserve water); drain, peel, cut in half, and seed.

    3. Place tomatoes on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake until tomatoes are partially dried and flavor is concentrated, about 3 hours.

    4. Return water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, transfer to a large bowl, and toss with a drizzle of oil and pinch of salt. Set aside to cool.

    5. Remove tomatoes from oven; transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Add to bowl with pasta. Add greens, Piennolo tomatoes, 3 tablespoons oil, anchovies, capers, chervil and marjoram; toss to combine. Arrange on plates. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and some fresh-ground pepper.


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    COOKING VIDEO: Healthy Chips And Dip


    As a nation, we love crunchy snacks and creamy dips. As calorie counters, we don’t.

    In this video, chef Curtis Stone shows how easy it is to make your own lowfat baked chips (commercial chips can have 30% fat) and lowfat, low-calorie dips.

    They taste good and keep you looking good (Chef Stone looks great!).

    See our Snacks Section with healthful snacks and recipes.



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