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Archive for November, 2012

RECIPE: Make Parmesan Popcorn

Asiago cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano (products made outside the official P.D.O. area in Italy are called Parmesan) are versatile and delicious cheeses that can pop use it pop up everywhere—including on gourmet popcorn.

Regular old cheese popcorn is seasoned with Cheddar or Parmesan cheese powder, made by removing the moisture from the cheese.

But you can use Adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis for the Asiago P.D.O. Cheese Consortium.



  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed

    Use popcorn as a soup or salad garnish. Recipe and photo courtesy

  • 1/3 cup finely grated aged Asiago or Parmesan cheese (the difference between Asiago, Parmesan and other Italian grating cheeses)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried herbes de Provence, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

    1. COMBINE the butter, garlic and herbes de Provence in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the butter melts. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand while making the popcorn.

    2. COMBINE the oil and popcorn in a heavy large pot. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until almost all the kernels pop. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl.

    3. REMOVE the garlic cloves from the butter and discard, if desired.

    4. ADD the salt, cheese and butter mixture to the popcorn. Toss until the popcorn is coated. Serve immediately.


    Parmesan Popcorn Chex Mix. Recipe and
    photo courtesy



  • As a salad or soup garnish instead of croutons.
  • In Chex mix (try this recipe).
  • Atop mac and cheese or other pasta dishes and casseroles instead of bread crumbs.

    Find more of our favorite popcorn recipes and brand reviews.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Whip Up A Wassail Recipe

    Yesterday we discussed that cup of good cheer, mulled wine, as a traditional Christmas drink.

    Today we present the other drink of holiday song, the wassail bowl (pronounced WOSS-ul).

    Wassail is an Anglo-Saxon term meaning “good health.” During the holiday season in merrie olde [medieval] England, a host would invite friends over for a celebratory drink. The festivities began when the host held up the bowl and exclaimed, “Wassail!”

    Punch was drunk, songs were sung. The tradition began in the 14th century in southern England, where the apple groves produced a lot of cider. The first wassail bowls contained hot mulled cider.

    But your wassail bowl can contain whatever type of punch you like, hot or chilled.


    While recipes have evolved, the first wassail bowls contained hot mulled cider. Photo courtesy


    While wassail is a spirited drink, you can make a non-alcoholic versions as well.

    Here’s a video recipe for wassail.

    This non-alcoholic version of a wassail recipe combines apple cider and pineapple juice: certain to be popular with the kids.

    Start wassailing!


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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

    Bavarian cream. Photo by Massimiliano
    Pieraccini | IST.


    November 27th is National Bavarian Cream Pie Day.

    Bavarian cream is a 19th century creation that seems to have gone with the wind that closed out the 20th. We rarely see it on a menu or in a bake shop.

    Invention of the cold molded, gelatin-based dessert—a custard, not a pie—is credited to the great chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) in the first part of the 1800s. One of the first recipes in the U.S. appeared in the Boston Cooking School of 1884.

    The connection with Bavaria is obscure; although Carême cooked for the rich and famous and it is conceivable that he may have created this dish for a guest of honor from Bavaria.

    The original Bavarian cream, or crème bavarois, was created in a fluted mold, chilled, umolded and sliced. In these more informal days, the dessert can be scooped from the bowl like mousse.

    Sometimes the mold is first coated with a fruit gelatin, which “glazed” the Bavarian cream. Sometimes it is flavored with chocolate, coffee, fruit or liqueur.


    The mold can be first lined with ladyfingers first, creating a charlotte.

    Individual servings can be garnished with whipped cream (Chantilly) or fruit purée. Here’s a recipe for Bavarian cream from Chef Michael Symon.

    Bavarian cream is similar to pastry cream but lightened with whipped cream and thickened with gelatin instead of flour or cornstarch. Check out the different types of custard.

    Now for the holiday:

    For Bavarian Cream Pie, get a pie crust: Bavarian cream in a pie crust is simply a different type of custard pie. And note: Real Bavarian cream does not pipe smoothly because of its gelatin. In the U.S., products called “Bavarian cream” pie (and doughnuts) are actually filled with a version of a crème pâtissière (pastry cream)—so they’re “faux” Bavarian Cream Pie.

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    GIFT: Marinelli’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce

    So many holiday gifts are well-intentioned, but end up being things people don’t really need and don’t have space to store or display.

    One of our favorite gifts that’s always well-received is gourmet pasta sauce, with or without a package of gourmet pasta.

    Marinelli’s pasta sauce is a double winner: delicious and beautifully packaged. The new boxes (and jar labels) are such fun works of art, we’re not even wrapping them. (Those who sell packaged products take note: Look at the old, boring labels (just another jar of sauce) and the exciting new design (beautiful and giftable).

    Marinelli sauces are also certified gluten free, certified non-GMO, OU-kosher, sugar/sweetener-free and vegan.

    Handmade in small batches from the very best all natural ingredients, the pasta sauces are healthful and low in calories—and are not just for pasta. On carb-sparing days, we ladle it over spaghetti squash or steamed zucchini.


    Marinelli’s gourmet pasta sauce has both great taste and great packaging. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    The sumptuous sauces are made in nine flavors: Hot & Spicy Sicilian, Meat Ready Bolognese (add your own meat), Mushroom & Onion, Oven Roasted Garlic, Roasted Red Pepper, Spicy Black Olive & Garlic, Sweet Sundried Tomato & Oregano, Tomato & Basil and Vegetable Primavera.

    The sauces are available on in six-packs, about $12.65/jar.

    Learn more at

    Find more of our favorite pastas, sauces and recipes.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Hot Mulled Wine For The Holidays

    You can serve mulled wine in a mug, brandy snifter, wine glass or other vessel of choice. Photo courtesy Spice Islands.


    Mulled wine, a traditional winter drink in northern Europe, is hearty red wine that’s warmed, sweetened and spiced.

    It’s a popular holiday drink. The word mulled means heated, sweetened and spiced. The expression “cup of good cheer” that comes to us from Merrie Olde England refers to hot mulled cider and wine.

    Glögg is the Swedish form of mulled wine, Glühwein is the German variation, vin fieri (“boiled wine”) is Romanian, and so forth. Hot buttered rum (also called rum toddy), the Colonial favorite, uses similar spices and brown sugar (both rum and sugar came from the Caribbean).

    Different countries use different spices (cloves and black pepper versus cinnamon and star anise, e.g.) and sweeteners (sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses). But the end result is the same: fragrant, warm, sweet and comforting.

    While delicious and festive, recipes originated not as party fare but as a way to save wine that had turned (throw in enough sugar and spice and anything tastes good). Ale was/is also mulled.


    You can buy pouches of pre-mixed mulling spices, but it’s just as easy to pull out the cinnamon sticks, measure out a little allspice, mix in some dried orange peel and drop in a few whole cloves.

    You can cook up the ingredients and keep them in the fridge, reheating when friends and family stop by.

    Check out our article on mulled wine, cider and glogg and enjoy a cup of good cheer.

    Tomorrow: how to make a wassail bowl.



    There are as many mulled wine recipes as there are people who make them. This recipe, from Estancia Winery, mixes Estancia’s Pinot Noir with apple cider.


  • 1 bottle pinot noir
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • ½ cup honey or sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 large orange (and the juice)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 whole vanilla pod, cut lengthwise
  • Whole nutmeg for grating

    Hot buttered rum at left, flanked by a Scotch toddy (substitute Scotch for the rum). Photo courtesy National Honey Board.


    1. PEEL long strips of rind from the orange, lemon and lime and place in a saucepan along with the sugar/honey and the juice of the orange.

    2. ADD the cloves, cinnamon sticks, 3 gratings of nutmeg, zest of orange, bay leaves and sliced vanilla pod.

    3. POUR enough wine and cider to cover the sugar and place over medium heat. Stir frequently until the mixture boils and thickens slightly (roughly 5 minutes).

    4. POUR in the rest of the wine and cider and turn the heat down to low.

    5. ADD the star anise and leave the mixture to heat through for about 10 minutes without boiling. Make sure to leave the spices and zest in the pan.

    6. LADLE into glasses or mugs and garnish with slices of orange, nutmeg or cinnamon sticks and enjoy!

    Some American food holidays are on dates that make no sense:

  • Fruits are out of season (National Apricot Day on January 9th, National Strawberry Day on February 27th, National Peach Cobbler Day on April 13th, etc.)
  • National Plum Pudding Day om February 12 (plum pudding is a Christmas tradition)
  • And so forth

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