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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 November, 2012

GIFT: Kuhn Rikon Knives In Zebra Prints & More

Inspire someone to cook with these fun knife
designs. Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

 

Over the past few years, Swiss kitchenware manufacture Kuhn Rikon has produced some stylin’ knives. Blades are coated with everything from polka dots to pineapples; or have cut outs ranging from baguettes (for the baguette knife) to watermelon seeds (for the watermelon slicer).

To encourage teens and other untamed potential chefs to roam free in the kitchen, how about a gift of a Kuhn Rikon Safari Colori Knife Set? There’s a 6-1/2-inch chef’s knife and a 3-inch nakiri knife that slices, dices and juliennes.

The nonstick coating not only bears the design; it ensures that food doesn’t stick to the blades. Each knife has a matching protective sheath. Sets range from $25.00 to $37.00; some are available with a paring knife as well. Designs include:

  • Cheetah
  • Giraffe
  • Zebra
  •  

    KNIFE TRIVIA

    The chef’s knife, also known as a French knife or a cook’s knife, was originally designed to slice and disjoint large cuts of beef. Today it is the primary all-purpose knife in most Western kitchens.

    Japanese nakiri knives are the opposite: thin bladed and not suitable for chopping through bones or other solid items like frozen foods. However, like a Chinese cleaver in mineature, they require very little effort to wield.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Dumplings Or Ravioli From Thanksgiving Leftovers

    If you still have Thanksgiving leftovers, this tip from Chef Johnny Gnall shows how to turn them into favorite comfort foods: dumplings or ravioli. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    At Thanksgiving, just about every content source offers you a new take on what to do with leftovers. Here’s my take: Use them to stuff dumplings! It gives you the chance to practice your dumpling- or ravioli-making skills and produces some delicious pasta.

    Dumplings are a stuffed pasta similar to ravioli or tortellini, but with a thicker dough. If you have a pasta machine to press out thin dough, go for the ravioli!

    All the Ziploc bags and Tupperware in my fridge, crammed full of leftover Thanksgiving goodness, were soon transformed into dumpling goodness (and you can freeze any extra dumplings).

    So impress your family and friends with fresh, handmade pasta that lights up their taste buds and reminds them of that most special of eating holidays: Thanksgiving! I guarantee you they will GOBBLE it up, and may well demand that it become an annual event.

     

    You can use up the remaining leftovers in a sandwich…or you can make “Thanksgiving Ravioli.” Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    HOW TO MAKE “THANKSGIVING DUMPLINGS” OR RAVIOLI

    First, make a simple pasta dough by mixing 1 egg, 1 cup of sifted flour and 2 or 3 tablespoons of room temperature water. Professionals will do this on any clean, floured surface; but use a large bowl if you want to keep things contained and neat.

  • Combine the ingredients. Use your hands to gently bring the flour, egg and water together. If you find things getting dry and caking, add another tablespoon of water or two. If it’s too wet, add some flour.
  • Work the dough very gently. The more you handle it, the tougher any dough gets. So knead it softly and form it into a smooth ball. Don’t get frustrated if your first attempt doesn’t come together just as you’d expect. Feel free to scrap it and start over if you’d like—it’s only an egg and some flour. Don’t aim for perfect on your first few tries.
  • Roll out the dough. You can use a wine bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin. Try to get the thickness to about 1/8 of an inch, and keep your surfaces well floured, flipping the dough a few times to keep it from sticking as you roll it. Take a ring cutter with a width of 3-4 inches (the rim of a drinking glass or cup works in a pinch) and cut out as many circles as you can. Re-knead the scraps and roll out the dough to coax out a few more pasta circles.
  • Fill. Lightly brush the edges of one pasta circle with a diluted egg wash (1:1 ratio of egg to water) and spoon filling into the center, compacting it as much as you can without pressing on the dough.
  • Press on. Take another dough circle, brush one side with egg wash and place it, wet side down, onto the bottom circle. Gently press the edges of the two circles together (pressing too hard may cause it to stick to the surface). Once you’ve connected it all the way around, pick up your dumpling or raviolo (the singular form of ravioli) and now, more firmly, press its edges together.
  • Overstuffed? If you find you’ve overstuffed your little guy and filling comes out, wipe it off and use some flour on your fingers to absorb moisture. It’s important to create a dry, secure seal all the way around or the ravioli will open up in the water, spilling their contents like pasta piñatas.
  • Go for function over form. Do your best to center your filling and make your edges pretty, but put your focus on function over form. A well built, slightly less attractive dumpling or ravioli can be called “rustic” and still be successful, as long as it’s tasty. A poorly built pasta, on the other hand, can’t be called anything if it falls apart and doesn’t make it to the plate.
  •  

    Ravioli stuffed with leftover turkey and
    butternut squash. We even used up the last
    of the peas and the sage. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.com.

     
  • Filling trick. If you find, after cutting your pasta circles, that your dough is on the thicker side, you can make tortolloni—large tortollini. Place your filling slightly off center and fold the circle over on itself, almost like a semi-circular taco. Lightly brush the edges with the 1:1 egg wash before you fold, and keep your fillings compact and your seal tight.
  • How to make tortelloni. Once you have taco-like half circles, pull the two corners slightly downward and in toward one another to form tortelloni. It takes a gentle hand a little practice to get them nice looking, so put on your favorite holiday tunes and take your time.
  • Don’t spare the flour and water. As always, if things get sticky, dust with a little flour; if the dough feels dry, put a few drops of water on your hands. Keep any dough that needs to sit for a while (as you work on other dough) under a slightly damp paper towel or two. With doughs, you have to roll with the punches to get things just right.
  • Ready to cook! Cook the pasta in gently boiling salted water for five to seven minutes or until tender and al dente (how to cook fresh pasta). Pull out a “tester” and taste to make sure they are just right.
  •  

    RAVIOLI FILLING IDEAS

    Here are five delicious fillings I made for my own pastas, all from fully cooked leftovers straight out of the fridge:

  • Brussels Sprouts, Glazed Ham, & Pomegranate: Thinly slice the ham and Brussels sprouts; toss in a few pomegranate seeds per piece.
  • Classic Turkey & Cranberry: Mix shredded dark meat with a dot of turkey drippings, stock or gravy and a bit of leftover cranberry sauce. Bonus: If you can get a bit of turkey fat or gelatin to mix in with the meat, your pasta may approach Asian soup dumpling moisture consistency as it cooks and the filling liquefies. This could be one of the tastiest and most satisfying items you have ever enjoyed. Just make sure your filling holds together well enough to allow for successful pasta construction.
  • Turkey & Mascarpone: Substitute the tart cranberry sauce in the previous bullet for a dash of creamy mascarpone cheese and a tiny pinch of nutmeg. If you don’t have mascarpone you can use sour cream, or simply whip a tablespoon of heavy cream to soft peaks. The nutmeg is a really nice offset to the rich cream.
  • Maple Squash: Take a few pieces of roasted squash, pumpkin or potato and mash with a fork along with a teaspoon or two of cream, or sour cream or mascarpone (or Brie, fromage blanc, crème fraîche or cream cheese—get creative). Get the mixture smooth and creamy, taste and adjust for seasoning, then go in for the kill: a generous drizzle of maple syrup stirred. The maple takes the whole recipe to holiday heaven. If you really have a sweet tooth (or a nostalgia tooth, for that matter), finish with a shake of pumpkin pie spice.
  • Stuffing: Toss in the stuffing with any leftover fresh herbs, carrots and peas, even cranberry sauce.
  •  
    How to serve the dumplings? In broth, as a side or with a sauce of your choice. We like a white sauce, or try mixing tomato sauce or olive oil with some cranberry sauce.

    Use these ideas as a jumping-off point, but remember that the point is to eat up the leftovers in a fun and delicious way, whether they’re from Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah or last Thursday.

    Review my tip on “Guerilla Cooking”, then head to your fridge, grab all leftovers you can carry and begin to perfect your handmade pasta technique!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hey Shuga! Organic Sugar Cane Syrup & Stevia Syrup

    What if there were a sweetener that was all natural, organic and delicious? Lower in calories? Better for you? And as a bonus, packaged in a fun enough way to be giftable?

    Refined sugars (such as table sugar) are stripped of nutrients; most noncaloric sweeteners are artificial. Sugar isn’t all that convenient when you’re trying to get it to dissolve in iced coffee, iced tea or lemonade.

    One solution: liquid cane sugar and liquid stevia dissolve easily and are available in natural food stores. But one family business is treating them with imagination and sass. We bought quite a few bottles for ourselves and for holiday gifts.

    The Hey Shuga! line of all natural, organic liquid sweeteners dissolve instantly in cold beverages and cocktails, and are equally delicious in hot beverages, as topping for cereal and fruit, in baking and glazing.

    The two initial products are:

     

    Lil’ Shuga liquid stevia-cane sugar blend and Hey Shuga! liquid cane sugar. Photo courtesy Hey Shuga!

     

  • Hey Shuga! is a flavorful organic sugar cane syrup, 20 calories per teaspoon.
  • Lil’ Shuga! cuts calories by blending sugar with noncaloric stevia, 15 calories per teaspoon. However, since stevia makes the blend much sweeter than sugar, you use 1/3 as much: 5 calories’ worth.
  •  
    Both are alternatives to agave. corn syrup/golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, refined white sugar and conventional stevia. Lil’ Suga! has so few calories, you can use it instead of noncaloric sweeteners.

    Both have a delicious cane sugar taste, nothing artificial and are USDA organic certified, GMO free, gluten free and kosher certified by SKS.

    The line expects to expand next year to all-natural Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Maple and Vanilla flavors.

    You can purchase them on Amazon or on the HeyShuga.com website, which sells:

  • Hey Shuga! 12-ounce bottle, $7.99; case of 12, $80.000 ($6.66/bottle)
  • Lil’ Shuga! 8.5-ounce bottle, $9.99; case of 12, $94.00 ($7.83/bottle)
  •  
    There are also tall bottles, glamorous for gifting:

  • Hey Shuga! 33.8-ounce bottle, $20.00
  • Lil’ Shuga! 23.7-ounce bottle, $24.00
  •  

    Check out all the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Softsoap Scentsations For Holiday Handwashing

    Deck the sinks with holiday-scented hand
    soap.

     

    With everything getting the holiday treatment, why not your hand soap?

    Softsoap Scentsations Limited Edition Holiday Liquid Hand Soaps offers three holiday scents: Enchanting Sugar Plum, Spiced Berry Bliss and Wintermint Wonderland. We installed bottles at the kitchen and bathroom sinks.

  • Enchanting Sugar Plum reminds us of sugar cookies.
  • Spiced Berry Bliss is cinnamon-laden.
  • Wintermint Wonderland evokes candy canes.
  •  
    Softsoap Scentsations Holiday Liquid Hand Soaps are available at Walmart. The suggested retail price is $2.29.

    They may get the family to wash their hands more often! And in our germophobic crowd, they make good party favors.

     

    There’s no information at the Softsoap website, but what more do you need to know?

    ARE YOU A GERMOPHOBE OR A MYSOPHOBE?

    Germophobia/germaphobia means “fear of germs,” coined in modern times. But back in 1897, the term mysophobia was coined by Dr. William Alexander Hammond, who served as Surgeon General of the United States Army during the Civil War. The word combines the Greek musos, “uncleanness” and phobos, “fear.”

    Other medical terms, such as bacillophobia, bacteriophobia, molysmophobia/molysomophobia, rhypophobia, rupophobia and spermophobia, indicate a pathological fear of contamination and germs or the need to compulsively wash one’s hands.

    Of course, you don’t need a phobia to keep those hands clean!

      

    Comments

    WINE: Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc

    We’ve never been to New Zealand, but friends who moved there from the U.S. love it.

    It sounds like paradise: pristine waters, lots of sunshine and clean air, not to mention wonderful lamb and delicious wines.

    Considered one of the great wine-growing regions of the world, Marlborough, located on the northeast coast of New Zealand’s South Island, is one of the country’s sunniest areas. The climate is perfect for growing crisp, zesty Sauvignon Blancs and complex yet fruity Pinot Noirs.

    The Nobilo winery is one of the best in the region, with two award winning lines: Nobilo Regional Collection and Nobilo Icon. Founder Nikola Nobilo emigrated from Croatia in 1937, ordered by his uncle who saw the signs of what would become World War II.

    Nikola and his family began to plant grapes in 1943, and pioneered planting of classic European grape varieties in New Zealand that produced higher quality wines than the hybrid grapes the industry had been planting.

    We received a gift of a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Noir. Both honor their founder:

  • The full-bodied 2011 Sauvignon Blanc had a lovely nose of gooseberry, peach and lemon, with a rich palate. The citrus and gooseberry continue on the palate, along with a flinty minerality that we enjoy in Chablis. It’s impressive and well-priced at less than $20.00.
  •  

    Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir, one of two delicious wines we enjoyed on Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy Nobilo Winery.

     

  • The rich 2011 Nobilo Icon Pinot Noir has classic pinot notes: berry aromas (blackberry, cherry, raspberry), with toasty oak and spice underpinnings. A classic wine to pair with beef, lamb and pork, it was delicious with the Thanksgiving turkey. It retails for about $23.00.
  •  
    If you need to pick something nice for holiday meals and gifting, look for Nobilo Icon. The inspirational story behind it makes it even tastier.

    Learn more on the winery’s website.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: The Difference Between Coffee & Espresso

    We keep these stackable espresso cups right
    next to our espresso machine. Photo
    courtesy Harold Imports | AMZ.

     

    The flavors of espresso are very concentrated, intense and dark. Espresso is drunk black; sugar is permissible but milk is not. If you want milk in your coffee, choose another dark roast bean: Italian Roast and French roast.

    There are key differences between espresso, Italian Roast and French roast coffees.

    1. Beans: Special. Espresso is not a type of bean, but a level of roasting. In fact, espresso is typically a blend of beans roasted anywhere from very light to very dark; you know it’s espresso if there’s a lot of surface oil evident. Different coffee roasters use different blends of beans and different degrees of roasting. Ask which roaster roasted the beans you are purchasing. If they’re not your ideal, keep trying different roasters.

    2. Caffeine: Less. Because a cup of espresso takes no more than 30 seconds to brew (28 seconds is the ideal brewing time), less caffeine is extracted from the ground beans than in drip coffee, which takes anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes to brew.

     

    3. Crema: Thick. The pressure exerted by the espresso machine forms a thick cap of brown crema (pronounced CRAY-mah, Italian for cream; but it’s “espresso bean cream,” not milk-related cream). Some single serve coffee machines also produce a crema; but true espresso crema carries the aroma and lasts to the bottom of the cup.

    4. Portion: Small. Although modern designs veer from the classic style, espresso cups were intentionally made small and thick. They serve a different purpose from the delicate porcelain demitasse cups used for regular coffee in a fine dinner service. Thick, small espresso cups hold the heat; large cups dissipate the heat and the crema. The proper portion of espresso is one ounce for these reasons. If you want a larger serving of espresso, don’t fill a full-size cup: Have another espresso-size and drink it in its peak form.

    5. Garnish: Lemon Peel. You may see espresso served with a piece of lemon peel, to be rubbed around the rim of the cup to leave a slick of lemon oil. The original purpose was to counteract the taste of over-roasted, overly bitter espresso: The oil in the peel blocks the bitterness. Italians traditionally serve top quality espresso without lemon peel, bowing to the quality of the beans. However, if you like the added flavor of the lemon peel (we do), feel free to serve it.

    6. Freshness: Imperative. Advice continues to circulate that coffee beans should be kept in the freezer for freshness. False! Freezing the coffee coagulates the natural oils contained in the bean. In an espresso, those oils need to emulsify to produce the body and mouthful of the coffee. Coffee can be stored in the refrigerator, but airtight containers are crucial. An airtight container keeps out odors and protects the internal moisture of the coffee bean. No matter what kind of coffee you buy, the best rule of thumb is to buy only what you need for a week, or two weeks at best. Ground coffee will begin to go stale in 24 hours. Keep coffee away from direct light and heat. Direct light and heat begin to cook the coffee oils, and will affect the flavor and aroma properties.

    Discover more about coffee in our Gourmet Coffee Section.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY & VIDEO: How To Make Good Espresso

     

    It’s National Espresso Day, so trade your regular cup of java* for an espresso.

    Some people are intimidated by an espresso machine. This video shows how easy it is to use one.

    Espresso can only be made in an espresso machine, which exerts a specific amount of pressure on the ground coffee beans. The beans need to be an espresso roast, the darkest roast of coffee beans. The objective is a strong, pleasantly bitter shot of coffee.

    You can get an espresso machine with a small footprint that will pay for itself in two weeks, assuming you purchase one espresso daily. With your own machine, you can enjoy a shot—or a double or triple shot—as often as you like, for pennies.

    The Capresso espresso machine shown in the video is less than $60.00. Take a closer look at it on Amazon.com).

    What if you don’t want to buy an espresso machine? The closest cup of strong, bitter coffee is a brewed Italian roast, made in a regular coffee maker.

    Find everything you want to know about espresso in our Espresso Glossary.
     
    See all of the national food holidays.

       

       

    *The Dutch began to cultivate coffee trees on Java, a large island in the Dutch East Indies, in the 17th century; hence the nickname “java” for a cup of coffee.

    Comments

    GIFT: Tortilla Warmer For The Microwave

    Looking for an inexpensive but useful gift for a fan of Mexican food?

    We’ve gotten a lot of use out of our microwavable tortilla warmer. It’s just $9.78 on Amazon.com.

    The tortilla warmer—an insulated pouch—holds up to 12 tortillas, and keeps them warm and moist for up to one hour.

    Simply place the tortillas in the pouch, then heat it in the microwave for approximately 45 seconds.

    For a more elaborate gift, add a couple of bottles of gourmet salsa.

     

    Tortillas remain warm and moist. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Cures For Overeating

    If you ate more than this for Thanksgiving,
    you may need this article. Photo courtesy
    WilliamsSonoma.com.

     

    During the holiday season, articles with tips on how to avoid overeating abound, starting with Thanksgiving dinner.

    If only we could follow that sensible advice! If you and your family have self-control on Thanksgiving, well, we wish we were you.

    However, if you have tendencies to overeat, and then suffer from bloating, indigestion and overall discomfort, here are some cures:

    1. Head for the antacids. Don’t wait: Swallow a dose of Pepto-Bismol ASAP. It provides relief for indigestion, heartburn and upset stomach, among other digestive upsets.

    2. Take a walk. Even if you can barely move, you’ll really benefit from a walk around the block. Walking helps food move through the digestive tract.

     

    3. Try some gentle massage. As much as your abdomen feels that it doesn’t want to be touched, use your palms to massage it, in a circular motion around your navel.

    4. Drink herbal tea. Even if you’re convinced that you can’t ingest another thing, sip some herbal tea: It will help to reduce the bloat. Take advantage of fresh herbs in the kitchen—basil, cilantro, ginger, mint, oregano, rosemary and/or sage are good. Steep 4 to 6 teaspoons in a cup of boiling water. Or, grab a camomile or mint tea bag.

    5. Lie down. Don’t hesitate to excuse yourself and get horizontal after eating a big meal. Just 20-30 minutes in a reclining position helps your stomach muscles move and digest all that food.

    6. Try a heating pad and breathe deeply. Breathe deeply to relax clenched stomach muscles that may contribute to sdiscomfort. Something warm—not scalding hot—on your abdomen for about 20 minutes can also make you feel better.

    Do you have an overeating “cure?” Let us know.

    Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at THE NIBBLE.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Scotchwood Pumpkin Caramels

    These delicious gourmet pumpkin caramels hit a home run for the holidays.

    Available only through December from Scotchwood Candy Company, they are an irresistable confection and a fabulous foodie gift.

    The handmade caramels have real pumpkin flavor (not just pumpkin pie spices) and are topped with crushed pecans. They melt in your mouth. Even people with braces can enjoy them.

    Needless to say, the bodacious bonbons did not last long. The box was emptied in a day, but the happy memories remain.

    Each caramel is individually wrapped and packaged in a handsome gift box. The caramels are well-priced: An eight once box is $7.50, one pound is $15.00.

    For stocking stuffers, party favors, teacher and service provider gifts, they’re different and delightful.

     

    What a treat: Scotchwood Candy Co.’s gourmet pumpkin caramels with a cup of hot cider. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The pretty gift box needs no wrapping. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Get yours at ScotchwoodToffee.com.

    Find more of our favorite candies in our Gourmet Candy Section.

    Feel like having some pumpkin fudge? Here’s a recipe.

     

      

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