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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 TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for July, 2012

COOKING VIDEO: How To Remove Corn From The Cob

 

It’s easy to remove corn kernels from the cob with a sharp chef’s knife.

But if you use a tube pan or bundt pan to anchor the ear, it’s even easier.

You’ll find the technique in the video below so useful, we bet you’ll be making corn salad or fresh corn salsa through the end of corn season. Start with this delicious recipe…and one more tip: To remove the silk from the corn, just use a wet paper towel.

CORN SALSA RECIPE

Make lots—you’ll love it! Beyond a chip dip, this salsa is delicious with grilled fish and poultry. It also couldn’t be easier: Just dice and mix. That’s it. This recipe makes about 3 cups; 4 cups if beans are added.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1 cup black beans (you can used canned)
     

    Preparation

    1. Combine all ingredients.

    2. You can serve immediately, but the flavors will come together if you let it sit for a few hours (cover and refrigerate).

  •    

       

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Enjoy A Watermelon Salad With Feta, Goat Cheese Or Mozzarella

    Watermelon salad is so delicious and easy, we wonder why we never see it on restaurant menus. We eat it daily during the hot weather. The watermelon is so juicy and hydrating, we can’t get enough of it.

    We adapted this recipe from Mozzarella Company, one of the greatest American cheese makers and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. They use their delectable mozzarella. But feta or fresh goat cheese are equally delicious—even more so to those who like tangy cheese.

    Enjoy it as a light luncheon salad or as a first course at dinner.

    WATERMELON & YELLOW TOMATO SALAD WITH
    FETA, GOAT CHEESE OR MOZZARELLA

    Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups cubed watermelon pieces, cut into about 1″ cubes
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups cubed ripe yellow tomatoes, cut into about 1/2″ cubes, or substitute yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 large mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade, divided
  • 8 large basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade, divided
  •  

    A delicious watermelon and feta salad with basil, mint and pistachio nuts. Photo by Lulu Durand | IST.

     

    Preparation

    1. Toss the watermelon, tomatoes, mozzarella, salt, pepper, olive oil and half of each of the mint and basil leaves together.

    2. Top with the remaining mint and basil leaves.

    3. Makes 4 servings. Consider making a double batch—you’ll be wanting more!

    VARIATIONS

    You can add layers of sophistication to this already-yummy salad by adding any of the following ingredients:

  • Arugula or watercress
  • Cantaloupe and/or honeydew
  • Cucumber
  • Goat cheese or mozzarella
  • Kalamata or other black olives
  • Microgreens
  • Pistachios or other nuts
  • Red onion, green onion or chive
  •  
    The history of watermelon plus more watermelon recipes.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Savory “Lollipops,” Food On A Stick

    Not another pig-in-a-blanket: Kobe beef hot
    dog lollipops. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.

     

    Today is National Lollipop Day. But lollipops are more than sugar-on-a-stick. There are also savory lollipops, popular as hors d’oeuvres at cocktail parties and snacks at kids’ parties.

    The difference between savory lollipops and other food-on-a-stick—such as corn dogs and kebabs—is the size: single bites, in the case of lollipops. Lollipops add a touch of whimsy, a new way to present the classics.

    Just in time for weekend fun, here are two recipes from Andrea Correale, owner and founder of Elegant Affairs Caterers, a company in metropolitan New York that is one of the leading Hamptons caterers and event planners (she has catered events for L.A. Reid, Mariah Carey, Russell Simmons and P. Diddy, among others).

    While the two recipes below require preparation, you can make simple variations without planning ahead.

     

    Just keep a package of six-inch bamboo skewers on hand. Then, if you need an hors d’oeuvre or kid treats in a hurry, you can look in the fridge and freezer and make lollipops from whatever you have: meatballs, chicken nuggets, hot dog and sausage chunks and cubes of cheese, with a dipping sauce.

    If you don’t have wheatgrass or other food to anchor the sticks, put them in a short jar, or lay them on a tray.
     
    KOBE HOT DOG LOLLIPOPS

    Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • Flour
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Dijon egg wash: 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 3 eggs
  • 6 top-quality hot dogs (if you can’t buy Kobe dogs, try Applegate Farms organic dogs)
  • Box of wheat grass for serving (here’s reusable artificial wheatgrass)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Flour the puff pastry sheet and add Cheddar to one side of the sheet. Evenly distribute and flatten with your hands.

    2. Place one end of the pastry dough over cheese end and fold over. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough.

    3. Mix mustard and eggs and brush Dijon egg wash all over dough.

    3. Take hot dog, place at edge of dough. Take puff pastry and roll around hot dog. Use egg wash to adhere.

    4. Cut away the excess dough and pinch the ends together. Repeat with each hot dog.

    5. Place on a carving board and cut the ends off. Slice into 3/4″ thick pieces.

    6. Place on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Insert a skewer into each piece and place in a wheatgrass-filled tray.

     

    WHITE SESAME CHICKEN LOLLIPOPS

    You can also make these with tofu for vegetarian guests.

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 dash sesame oil
  •  

    Sesame Chicken Lollipops. You can substitute tofu. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs.

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 quart peanut oil for frying
  • 2 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
  • Long wooden skewers
  • Miso dipping sauce (recipe below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Sift flour with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder. Mix together soy sauce, water, vegetable oil and a pinch of sesame oil; stir into flour mixture until smooth. Fold in chicken pieces until coated with the batter, then cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

    2. Heat oil in a deep fryer or large saucepan to a temperature of 375°F. Drop in the battered chicken pieces and fry until they turn golden brown and float to the top of the oil, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

    3. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds to garnish. To serve, skewer chicken pieces using long wooden skewers. Lie on a platter with the dipping sauce, or stick into a 2-day-old loaf of round bread.

    MISO DIPPING SAUCE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white miso paste
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. In a small bowl, whisk together miso, water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and salt.

    2. While whisking, gradually add peanut and sesame oil until you have a creamy dressing.

    3. Serve with White Sesame Chicken Lollipops.

    See the Elegant Affairs website for more delicious party ideas.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Martini Garnish, Cornichons

    Add a cornichon—along with an optional olive
    or cocktail onion—to your Martini. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    As we were enjoying some cornichons with a plate of pâté and cheese, we wondered:

    Why aren’t these cute little pickles served with Martinis? People love pickles—and many people don’t like olives or cocktail onions.

    Voilà: the Cornichon Martini.

    Unlike gherkins, which tend to be sweetened for the U.S. market, French cornichons are tart and very addictive to sour pickle lovers.

    You can buy cornichons in most supermarkets. The better brands include cocktail onions and add mustard seeds to the brine. The best brands imported from France (and found in specialty food stores) are Edmond Fallot and Maille. A jar, $11-$12 for top brands, makes a great gift for foodies and Martini fans.

    WHAT ARE CORNICHONS?

    Cornichon (core-nee-SHONE) is the French word for gherkin. These are not necessarily the West Indian gherkin, which is a naturally miniature variety of cucumber. Most are European cucumbers harvested at one to two inches in length.

     

    Cornichons pickled in wine vinegar with garlic (and often, pearl onions) are traditionally served with pâté: The acidic vinegar helps to cut the fat in the pâté.

    You can also add cornichons to a relish tray, as a garnish for sandwiches and on an hors d’oeuvre skewer with an olive, cheese cube, cocktail onion and chunk of sausage or other meat.

    MORE MARTINI GARNISHES

    Don’t let olives and cocktail onions dominate Martini garnishes: Get creative with:

  • Cheese cube
  • Pickle chips: bread and butter, jalapeño
  • Radish
  • Sausage chunk
  • Whatever appeals to you (we like a slice of pickled daikon, called >takuan, which is bright yellow in color and deliciously crunchy)
  •  
    You can use a cocktail pick or cut a small slit in the bottom to rest the garnish on the rim. If you have oversize Martini glasses, get longer cocktail picks.
     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Chili Flakes Grinder

    Some people use chili flakes—a.k.a. red pepper flakes or crushed red pepper—as frequently as they use salt and pepper. The spice a popular table condiment in countries as dispersed as Hungary, Korea and the Middle East. In the U.S., you’re more likely to find the liquid equivalent, a bottle of hot sauce.

    A pinch of heat enhances the taste of dishes from pizza and pasta (the classics are Pasta Puttanesca and Seafood Fra Diavolo) to dips, eggs, salads, soups and cooked vegetables. You can make barbecue sauce, hummus and salsa spicier to taste.; you can create spicy mashed potatoes, spicy rice and spicy yogurt.

    Here’s a gadget for people who’d prefer a finer sprinkling than the conventional chunks of crushed red pepper. The find grind creates a more even seasoning:

    The Trudeau Red Chili Pepper Grinder has a ceramic grinding mechanism designed for just for chili flakes. For $19.99, it’s an affordable gift for those who like their heat. You can pick one up at Amazon.com.

     

    Grind chili flakes into a more delicate grain—just as with peppercorns. Photo courtesy Trudeau.

     

    WHAT ARE CHILI FLAKES?

    Chili flakes are made by roasting red chiles—generally cayenne or New Mexico chiles—then crushing them. The heat comes from the seeds, which contain the chemical capsaicin (cap-SAY-sin).

    Check out our Chile Glossary to discover the history, different types of chiles, and why it’s inaccurate to call them “peppers” or chile “peppers.”

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream Cupcakes

    It’s a miniature ice cream cake! Photo
    courtesy Hey There Cupcake.

     

    We were inspired by this Spumoni Sundae cupcake from Hey There Cupcake! of Denver, Colorado.

    One of many flavors (see them all here), Spumoni Sundae is a cherry cupcake filled with ganache, topped with a scoop of pistachio buttercream frosting and garnished with a cherry and a miniature waffle fan (gaufrette).

    We saw this as inspiration for ice cream cupcakes in any flavor. Just replace the buttercream with ice cream—it’s easier than making an ice cream cake.

    ICE CREAM CUPCAKES RECIPE

    1. Use your favorite cupcake recipe. When filling the cups, add less batter than the recipe instructs. For example, if it says to fill halfway, fill to only the one-third point. This creates room at the top to anchor a scoop of ice cream.

    2. Scoop a round ball of ice cream atop each cupcake. Place in the freezer. Don’t garnish until ready to serve.

     

    3. At serving time, garnish with your favorite sundae toppings: chocolate sauce, butterscotch sauce, whipped cream and a cherry. If you like, gild the lily with chopped nuts, mini chips, sprinkles or other favorites.

    TIPS FOR BUYING CUPCAKES

    Here are two tips from the bakers regarding general cupcake purchases:

  • Eat them the day you buy them. Artisan cupcakes are made without preservatives.
  • Keep the cupcakes at room temperature. If you have more than you can eat that day, do not refrigerate the extras. The cold air can dry out the cake.
  •  
    MORE CUPCAKE FUN: RECIPES

  • Black Forest Cupcakes With Whipped Cream Frosting
  • Carrot Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Dark Chocolate Cupcakes With Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
  • “Hamburger” Cupcakes
  • Hello Flower! Cupcakes
  • Pumpkin Cupcakes With Pumpkin Cheesecake Frosting
  • Red Velvet Cupcakes
  • Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes
  • Vanilla Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting
  •  
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Two Ideas From Belgium

    Recently, NIBBLE writer Leah Hansen joined a group of journalists on a press trip to Belgium. She came back very excited about the country, and used her camera to capture tips from everyday life.

    DECORATE DAIRY

    For a cheese board or a buffet, use fresh herbs to decorate cheese—and butter, too.

    Press fresh herbs or flowers into soft or semi-soft cheeses before serving.

    Lavender (in the photo) and rosemary look pretty and add a layer of aroma and hint of herb flavor. Don’t limit yourself to these choices, though: Use your eye and your palate to find herb-cheese pairings that please.

    You can turn cheese decorating into a party activity. Give each person or small group a Camembert or baby Brie to decorate. Provide some fresh herbs and whatever you have on the spice shelf. Serve the cheeses with fruit for dessert.

     

    Use fresh herbs from the market to decorate butter and cheese. Photo by Leah Hansen | THE NIBBLE.

     

     

    Switch out the mayo for some fresh,
    unsalted butter on a ham sandwich. Photo by
    Leah Hansen | THE NIBBLE.

     

    HOLD THE MAYO

    In Belgium and France, butter is the condiment of choice on a ham sandwich.

    The flavor of unsalted butter with ham on French-style bread (you need good bread!) is very elegant. Try it. We add a bit of Dijon mustard as well.

    Plan your own trip to Belgium to enjoy the history, the cuisine, and lots of great beer and chocolate. These websites will get you started:

  • Belgium: VisitBelgium.com
  • Brussels: VisitBrussels.be
  • Flanders: Visit Flanders
  •  

    BELGIAN WAFFLE TRIVIA

    In Belgium, there is no such thing as a “Belgian” waffle. Every region has its own style of waffle (called a gauffre, pronounced GO-fray or GAW-fray) based on two major styles: the Brussels waffle and the Liège waffle.

  • NOT FOR BREAKFAST. Belgians do not eat waffles for breakfast, but for dessert. What we think of as a “Belgian” waffle is the rectangular or square Brussels waffle. It is served with whipped cream and berries or other sweet toppings such as powdered sugar, ice cream, butter and sugar or syrup, with chocolate syrup or other fresh fruit; and is eaten with a knife and fork.
  • SNACK WAFFLE. Liège-style waffles are enjoyed as a snack, and sold from street carts and in coffee shops. They are somewhat irregular in shape, although they are quasi-square or round. Here’s a photo.
  • “BELGIAN” WAFFLE. The Belgian waffle got its name at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City, where it was served with whipped cream and strawberries. The manager of the Belgian Pavilion, Maurice Vermesch, named it the Belgian waffle because he did not think many Americans were familiar with Brussels!
  • Belgian waffles have deep divots—that’s the official name for the pockets or wells created by the waffle press. The batter includes yeast and beaten egg whites, which give the country’s waffles a lighter texture and fluffier consistency than the typical American waffle, which tends to use baking soda or baking powder in the batter. They are also very crisp.
  •  
    Check out all the types of waffles in our Pancake & Waffle Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pasta With Greens

    We were inspired by this picture in the beautiful photo gallery of Chicken Fried Gourmet, a blog featuring the cuisine of Shreveport, Louisiana-based chef Michael O’Boyle.

    An unusual concept today, pasta with greens dates back several centuries to Italian peasant fare. Meat was costly, greens were grown in the garden: Ecco! (That’s Italian for voilà.)

    In addition to adding new flavors to pasta, piling on some greens is a way for the Greens Police to get the family to eat more (or any) greens. Greens tossed in sauce and sprinkled with cheese go down more easily with the resistance.

    PASTA WITH GREENS RECIPE

    1. BOIL. Cook ravioli, tortellini or a favorite pasta shape, along with your favorite sauce. You can use a red sauce, white sauce, clam sauce, or simply olive oil.

    2. SAUTE. While the sauce is heating, lightly sauté baby arugula, beet greens, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, chopped chard, kale or a mixture.

     

    Tortellini topped with baby spinach. Photo and concept courtesy ChickenFriedGourmet.com.

     

    3. TOSS. Drain the pasta and toss it in the sauce. Reserve some of the sauce and separately toss the sautéed greens in it.

    4. GARNISH. Top the pasta with a layer of greens. Serve with grated cheese.

    Let us know how you like the recipe, and any tweaks you devise.

    Find more of our favorite pasta recipes.

    Check out all the types of pasta in our delicious Pasta Glossary.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Make A Retro Gelatin Mold

     

    Here’s a tribute to aspic: a savory, gelatin-like food made from meat or fish stock. A classic French dish created centuries before the day of commercial gelatin* it was very difficult to prepare. In the beginning, cooks relied on the natural gelatin found in the meat to make the aspic set. In modern times, unflavored gelatin is used to ensure success.

    *Gelatin was made in ancient times by boiling the bones; powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an inventor named Peter Cooper.

    Recipes dating back to the Middle Ages show that clarified meat broths were turned into transparent, savory jellies. To make aspic, beef, fish, pork or poultry is cooked slowly to make a dense consommé, which is strained and clarified with egg white until it is clear. The clarified broth is then molded, can be served sliced or diced, served with a salad or as a garnish with meat and fish.

    In the days before refrigeration, aspic covering boned meat or fish kept the proteins from spoiling: The gelatin keeps out air and bacteria.

    Vegetables, herbs, slices of meat or fish, sliced hard-cooked eggs and pieces of cheese can be added. Like the pretty Jell-O fruit molds that came much later, aspic was an opportunity for the cook to show off his or her creative skills.

    There are also vegetable aspics, the most popular of which is tomato aspic, made with tomato juice and gelatin. Unlike regular conventional aspics, tomato aspic is opaque.

    Aspic became popular in the early 20th century. Wealthy people had cooks who could spend the time to create them. Aspics were de rigeur on a buffet table.

    But with the wane of heavy French cuisine in the 1960s, in favor of California cuisine and International fare, savory aspics faded away.

    Make A Savory Aspic Or A Sweet Gelatin Mold

    You can find recipes and create a classic recipe, but most Americans prefer sweetened gelatin molds. Try this classic, made with orange juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, chopped oranges and shredded carrots—plus unflavored gelatin, sugar and salt. We like to add diced cucumber, celery and sliced radishes for crunch and reduce the sugar for more of a sweet-savory balance.

    Gelatin molds are retro fun, and a cool dessert or snack in this hot weather. You can also serve it on the side with a green salad, or mound the salad on top of the sliced gelatin, as we showed in yesterday’s tip.

    For classic savory aspics, take a look at:

  • Chicken Aspic
  • Gazpacho Aspic, a variation on tomato aspic by Emeril Lagasse
  • Poached Salmon In Aspic
  • Shrimp Aspic
  •  

    UPDATE: Dang it! Two days after we published this post, the orange-carrot recipe was removed from circulation—can’t imagine why! Here’s a similar recipe:

       

       

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fish & Apples

    Think outside the box when combining ingredients. That’s what Executive Chef Leo Forneas of Silk Rd Tavern did, topping a crispy fish fillet with julienned apples. He chose red-skinned apples to add a touch of color.

    You can use raw apples or lightly sauté the strips in butter or oil. You can cook the apples in advance so as soon as the fish comes off the grill/out of the pan, you’re ready to roll. You can also add a bit of allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg to the apples for another layer of flavor.

    While the crunchy apples nicely accessorize the crispy skin of the fish, you can use them to garnish any grilled or sautéed fish.

    You can also build on the idea, adding slivered almonds, blueberries or raisins/dried berries.
     
     
    Julienne Vs. Baton

     

    Fish with apples: It makes you smart while keeping the doctor away. Photo courtesy Photo courtesy Silk Rd Tavern.

     

    Julienne strips resemble small matchsticks, typically 1/16-1/18 inch wide and 1 to 2 inches long. To cut julienne strips, first cut the vegetable into 1/16 or 1/8-inch-thick slices, then stack the slices and cut them into 1/16 or 1/8-inch-wide strips that are of the desired length.

    Batons (sometimes called batonnets) are larger matchsticks, typically 1/4 x 1/4 x 2 to 2 1/2 inches long. Use the same method as with julienne strips.

    Find more of our favorite fish recipes.

      

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