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

TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ice Pops, Regular Or Diet

Cool off with minimal calories. Photo
courtesy Sparkling Ice.


With record heat in many parts of the country, including ours, our thoughts ran to the different ways to cool off—without packing on the calories.

So we kept making bottles of seltzer with our Soda Stream, and mixed lots of our favorite new 5-calorie Lipton Tea and Honey To Go Stix Iced Tea Mix (in the Blackberry Pomegranate flavor) into individual bottles of cold water.

Then, we made our first diet ice pops of the season. All you need is ice pop molds and your favorite flavor of diet soda (we prefer fruit and root beer).

This tasty recipe uses calorie-free Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE with fresh raspberries. If you’re not counting calories, you can also use regular soda, juice or kefir.

The chopped fruit helps to bulk up the thinness of the soda.




  • 1 17-ounce bottle Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE or other raspberry soda
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries, chopped

    1. In a bowl, stir together soda and chopped raspberries.

    2. Ladle mixture into ice pop molds and insert handles.

    3. Freeze for at least 2 hours or until frozen.
    The other Sparking ICE flavors can be adapted to pops as well: Coconut Pineapple, Kiwi Strawberry, Lemonade, Lemon Lime, Orange Mango, Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate Berry. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    The over-21 crowd can add a half teaspoon of gin, tequila or vodka per pop. Don’t add more without testing, or your pops may not freeze.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Morel Mushrooms

    Dried morel mushrooms are available year round, but there’s nothing like the splendor of fresh morels—one of the most flavorful mushrooms, earthy and woodsy.

    A perennial favorite of French chefs for the depth of flavor they give to almost any savory dish, morels grow wild in the woods from April through July. They are available in dried and canned forms year-round.

    Morels have an unmistakable, honeycombed, hollow, cone-shaped cap which can be blonde, dark brown, grey or tan. The stems are white. The mushrooms range in size from two to four inches high.

    One of the simplest recipes: Clean and soak the morels, cut them in half, then dip them into beaten eggs and then into seasoned flour (salt and pepper). Fry them for two minutes on each side, then drain. You can also freeze them this way.

    Should you end up with more morels than you can use (what a luxury!), here’s a simpler way to freeze them, courtesy of
    After washing and soaking, dust with flour, place on a cookie sheet and freeze solid; then transfer to a in freezer bag. The flour keeps the mushrooms from sticking together in the bag.


    Fire up the stove! Exotic, delicious wild morels are a fleeting spring vegetable (though available dried year-round). Photo by Yin Yang | IST.



  • Morel Overview
  • Buying & Preparing Morels
  • Morel Recipes
  • Mushroom Glossary: Meet All The Specialty Mushrooms


    TIP OF THE DAY: Caesar Salad With A Twist

    Instead of Caesar dressing with a raw egg yolk, try a poached egg. This variation also uses a long strip of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as a form to contain the salad, and dots on a garnish of Parmigiano cream. Beautiful! Photo courtesy Payard.


    We were delighted to discover this innovative Caesar salad variation at Payard in New York City.

    It borrows its key idea from bibimbap, the signature Korean dish.

    Bibimbap (BEE-bim-baahp) means “mixed rice.” It starts with a bowl of white rice topped with seasoned vegetables and chili pepper paste. A raw or fried egg and sliced beef or other meat are typically added. The ingredients are stirred together just before eating; the egg yolk creates a creamy sauce.

    Chef François Payard adapted the fried egg concept to a poached egg atop a Caesar salad, creating a delicious riff that also allays concerns of eating the raw egg yolk in classic Caesar dressing.*

    So gather your romaine, grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, croutons and anchovies. Make a dressing from olive oil and fresh lemon juice (and anchovy paste, if you prefer it to fresh anchovies).

    Toss the romaine and cheese with the dressing, add the croutons and top with the poached egg.

    You can also add shrimp or sliced chicken—although you’ll have to decide which comes first: the chicken or the egg.



    Check out this Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    The Bonati family is famous for its Parmigiano Reggiano. They attribute their impeccably flavored cheese to the diet of their cows, which consists of hay, oats, orzo, corn flakes and dried beans. The cheese is produced in artisan batches—only four wheels a day. Each wheel is then aged for two years, according to the requirements of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano, to bring out the full depth of flavors.

    *The original recipe used only lemon to dress the salad. Anchovies, Worcestershire Sauce and creamy Caesar dressing were later additions. Here’s the original Caesar salad recipe.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Pasta Mama’s 26 Flavored Pastas

    Pasta is one of America’s favorite foods. Yet how many of us have had flavored pasta?

    There is no data, but our guess is a fraction of a percent.

    Pasta Mamas’s aims to change that. The artisan pasta maker produces 26 flavors of pasta, plus plain and whole wheat.

    Available in linguine, fettuccine and papardelle, the flavors include vegetables (beets, blue corn, zucchini), spices (jalapeño, tarragon-mustard) and even sweet flavors, made without sweetener, that can be used for main courses/sides or desserts (apple spice, chocolate, cinnamon nutmeg, Irish cream).

    Pasta Mama’s also makes matching sauce mixes. So enjoy broccoli pasta with creamy broccoli sauce, garnished with steamed broccoli florets. Or sesame-ginger pasta with a stir fry.

    At $5.75 for 12 ounces of dry pasta, and another $5.75 for a packet of sauce mix, Pasta Mama’s is a delicious gift, as well as a treat for you and your family.

    The line is certified kosher. Read the full review.


    Just a few of Pasta Mama’s tasty flavored pastas. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.



    Check out our Pasta Glossary and make some new discoveries.



    COOKING VIDEO: Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce


    Frankly, we’re surprised by the number of people we meet who cook at home, yet have never made pasta sauce from scratch.

    A basic pasta sauce couldn’t be easier. All you need is a lidded sauce pan and a wooden or silicone spoon. The ingredients are found in the kitchen of every person who cooks: a box of strained tomatoes (like Pomi; we spend extra for the superior flavor of San Marzano tomatoes), olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

    Most recipes recommend strained tomatoes (purée); but you can use chopped tomatoes for a chunky sauce, or purée them in your food processor.

    The only thing you may need to pick up is fresh basil and optional fresh parsley; but you can always fall back on oregano from your spice shelf.

    You can get more elaborate with subsequent batches, adding browned, chopped sausage or chopped meat; sautéed onions, mushrooms and/or bell peppers; chopped artichokes or sundried tomatoes.

    And then, let your creative sauces flow, adding whatever appeals to you to the basic pasta sauce. Anchovy paste? Blue cheese? Chipotles or jalapeños? Cream? Currants and slivered almonds with cardamom or curry? Lemon or orange zest? Pistachio nuts? Truffle oil (added at the end, not as cooking oil)? Vodka or tequila (stir in at the end)?

    The sky’s the limit. And as an extra piece of heaven, your homemade sauce won’t contain preservatives, added sugar or high fructose corn syrup—the sweeteners added to compensate for inferior tomatoes. Premium ripe tomatoes have plenty of natural sugars and require no added refined sugar.

    Use your homemade sauce on pasta, pizza, chicken or eggplant parmesan, grilled fish or seafood, meatball sandwiches, omelets, polenta and steamed veggies.

    Make a triple batch and freeze it in portion-sized containers so you can microwave-defrost it in minutes or bring it as a last-minute gift.

    But the goal is to make that first batch. Once you do, you’ll never go back to relying on supermarket pasta sauce.



    Love pasta? Check out the recipes and tips in our Pasta Section.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Tomatoes With Flavored Sea Salt

    Here’s an easy hors d’oeuvre or snack that’s delicious and different: cherry tomatoes with a choice of flavored sea salts.

    Simply set out toothpicks and let family and guests enjoy a succulent cherry or grape tomato with a dip of flavorful salt.

    Choose salts with contrasting colors, flavors and textures (crunchier coarse salt versus fine grain). Here we’ve used:

  • Alaea, a red volcanic salt from Hawaii.
  • A homemade mixture of coarse sea salt and dried rosemary (3:2 proportion).
  • Saffron-accented sea salt—one of our favorite products, and a great hostess gift.
    There are many other wonderful choices, from pink Himalayan sea salt to crunchy smoked Maldon sea salt from England, which has unique, pyramid-shaped crystals.


    A martini of cherry tomatoes with three flavored salts. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    Check out the large variety of gourmet salts in our Salt Glossary.



    PRODUCT: Grillcomb, The New BBQ Skewer

    Skewer with ease with the Grillcomb. Photo courtesy Fusionbrands.


    Grill mavens can now skewer with style with the Grillcomb from Fusionbrands.

    You need dexterity to thread foods dead-center onto conventional wood or metal skewers. But the Grillcomb, with its row of individual 18/8 stainless steel teeth, lets you easily slide on chunks of beef, chicken, shrimp and vegetables.

    When it comes time to flip, even the most delicate items turn easily without spinning. If you’ve ever watched cherry tomatoes spin and end up on the wrong side, you’ll appreciate this feature.

    The grilled food easily slides off the Grillcomb onto the plate; no more burst tomatoes or smashed scallops. Plus:

  • No more soaking or splinters.
  • The handle makes marinating easy.
  • It’s safer to load than conventional skewers (so delegate to the kids).
  • And off course, it’s dishwasher safe.
    Get a set of two for intimate meals, or load up on Grillcombs for larger parties. Pick up extras for house gifts when you’re invited to a cookout.

    A set of two single serving skewers, 12 inches long, is $11.00 at


    These specialty items can make grilling a breeze:

    CORN: If you have trouble flipping corn on the grill, try a corn grilling basket.

    FISH: To keep fragile fish from breaking while flipping, use a grilling basket.

    POPPERS: How about some jalapeño poppers, easy to make with a chile grilling rack?

    SLIDERS: It’s easy to make sliders, mini-burgers, with a slider grilling set.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Be More Devilish With Deviled Eggs

    America loves deviled eggs, although we can’t agree on the best recipe.

    So serve them as a first course in a trio of three different recipes. Here’s a gourmet deviled eggs concept from Root, a farm-to-table restaurant in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. Chef Richard Larcom prepared a delicious appetizer of deviled eggs served three ways, using Pete & Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs.

    Chef Larcom’s deviled egg selection includes a his signature deviled egg, a bacon fat and Cheddar deviled egg and the Dare-Deviled Egg, which includes Maine sea urchin, wasabi and a garnish of toasted nori.


    Here’s your opportunity for creative expression—to create your personal trio of gourmet deviled eggs. Some ideas to start you off:


    Serve deviled eggs three ways as a first course. Photo courtesy Root restaurant and Pete & Gerry’s.

  • Caviar: mix in tobiko for crunch, or top with salmon caviar
  • Fruit: dried blueberries, finely-diced mango or pineapple
  • Seafood: crab, lobster, shrimp, smoked salmon, sturgeon
  • Vegetables: capers, chopped olives, fresh dill or other herb (chive, cilantro, parsley), finely-diced fennel, finely-diced tricolor bell peppers or pickled vegetables
  • Wild Card: bacon, BLT (crumbled bacon, shredded arugula leaves and diced, seeded tomatoes), cheese (goat, Cheddar, Parmesan), nuts (chopped pecan or pistachios) or the “hot group”: the basic recipe mixed alternatively with horseradish, hot sauce and wasabi

  • More deviled egg tips and recipes.
  • Caviar deviled eggs recipe.
  • How to make perfect hard-cooked eggs.

    Stuffed eggs were a popular dish as far back as the Roman Empire. There are many different recipes for stuffed eggs, but the term “deviled eggs” originated in 18th-century England.

    “Deviled” refers to the use of hot spices or condiments in a recipe—paprika, mustard, hot sauce, horseradish, chiles, wasabi, etc.



    RECIPE: Almond Joy Cocktail

    We’re toasting to our Dad today with an Almond Joy cocktail. Dad loved Almond Joy, as do we.

    The recipe comes from Disaronno Originale almond liqueur. The website has a trove of cocktail recipes for almond lovers.

    To get the coconut flavor, add flaked coconut as a garnish. Or, if you have coconut liqueur, add 1part to the recipe.

    Enjoy this Almond Joy as an after-dinner drink…or drinkable dessert. You can serve an actual piece of Almond Joy or Bounty candy bar, chocolate-covered coconut patty, chocolate chip cookie with almonds and coconut, or a coconut macaroon on the side.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part Amaretto Disaronno
  • 1 part Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
  • 2 parts light or heavy cream
  • Cocoa powder and/or coconut flakes
  • Ice

    A drinkable Almond Joy with an amaretto kick. Photo courtesy



    1. Combine amaretto, white chocolate liqueur, fresh cream and a sprinkling of powdered cocoa in a cocktail shaker.

    2. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with another sprinkle of cocoa.

    TIP: We keep our “garnishing cocoa” in an extra salt shaker, with a piece of plastic wrap between the shaker rim and the cap, to keep it fresh between uses. If you don’t want to keep it in a shaker, use a small sieve to get a fine sprinkle of cocoa on top of the drink.

    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes.



    NEWS: White Button Mushrooms Are Not So Boring After All

    White button mushrooms. Photo by Paul
    Cowan | BSP.


    After growing up on white button mushrooms, food enthusiaists have foraged for more flavor excitement than the old standard offers.

    The mild-flavored classic whites, the cultivated, smooth, creamy-looking reliables found fresh at every market and—gasp—also sold canned, were sidelined by anyone with pretensions to a fine palate.

    Chanterelles, chicken of the woods, creminis, enokis, maitakes, morels, porcinis, portabellas, shiitakes and baskets full of other exotic and lovely fungi provide more flavor, texture and eye appeal (check out all the mushroom varieties in our Mushroom Glossary).

    Now, there’s a new reason to take a bite of buttons. Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., Director of Tumor Cell Biology at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, and his team have discovered that Agaricus bisporous, white button mushrooms, are a potential breast cancer and prostate chemopreventive agent. Components in the mushrooms suppress aromatase activity and estrogen biosynthesis (here’s the full article, written for a medical audience).


    *Other foods also contain anticarcinogens. For example, pomegranates can inhibit estrogen production and limit breast cancer cell growth. Blueberries may be effective in fighting an aggressive subtype of breast cancer.

    So feel free to add white button mushrooms back into your repertoire. Tell critics that they’re a proven anticarcinogen. (It’s likely that other mushrooms are similarly helpful, but they weren’t part of the research study).

  • Serve your favorite stuffed mushroom recipe with drinks.
  • Top pizza with mushrooms.
  • Make pickled mushrooms, and serve them as a side with everything from breakfast eggs to sandwiches to dinner entrées.
  • Serve sautéed or grilled mushrooms as a side with any protein, as part of a mixed vegetable mélange or on a grilled veggie sandwich.
  • Serve them as a first course, with some grated Parmesan and cracked pepper.
  • Spoon sautéed mushrooms atop pasta or add mushrooms to your tomato sauce.
  • Enjoy mushroom risotto more often (recipe).



  • 6 ounces whole wheat fettuccine, linguine or other cut
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup sliced shallots
  • 8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pound asparagus spears, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups vegetable broth
  • 4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil

    Mushrooms and asparagus with orecchiette pasta. Photo courtesy Barilla Pasta.



    1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

    2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large deep skillet over medium heat. Add shallots. Cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes.

    3. Add mushrooms and asparagus. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender yet still crisp.

    4. Add garlic during last minute of cooking. Sprinkle flour over vegetables. Cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in broth and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce thickens.

    5. Drain pasta, divide among four plates and top with sauce, cheese and basil.

    Makes 4 servings.

    Serve with a large green salad topped with sliced raw mushrooms and/or pickled mushrooms.

    *Recipe courtesy City of Hope.



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