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Archive for January 21, 2013

VALENTINE GIFT: Heart-Shaped Cheesecake

It’s just a few weeks until Valentine’s Day. W’ll be posting some special gift ideas that catch our eye.

First up are these heart-shaped cheesecakes from Harry & David:

  • The New York-style cheesecake sits atop a chocolate cookie crust.
  • It’s topped with a layer of semisweet chocolate and a white chocolate drizzle.
  • A couple can split one of the two 12-ounce cheesecakes for dessert, and the second one for breakfast.
  • Or, freeze the second cheesecake for future nibbling.
    Buy the cheesecakes online at


    Two 12-ounce cheesecakes make a doubly good Valentine treat. Photo courtesy Harry and David.



    You’ll need a heart-shaped springform in the right size for your recipe:

  • 9″ heart springform pan
  • 10″ heart shape springform pan
  • 11.5″ heart shape springform pan<
  • Individual 4″ heart springform pans
    Here are some of our favorite cheesecake recipes.


    If your Valentine isn’t partial to sweets, here are five savory cheesecake recipes, which can be enjoyed with Champagne or other aperitif, as an appetizer or as a cheese course/savory dessert. The tempting flavors:

  • Basil Cheesecake
  • Blue Cheese Cheesecake
  • Gruyère & Lobster Individual Cheesecakes
  • Provolone & Corn Cheesecake
  • Tuna Cheesecake
    These savory cheesecakes are one of our favorite cocktail party foods, set out with an assortment of crackers and toasts. So even if they won’t be on your menu for Valentine’s Day, keep them in mind for other festivities.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Chirashi Sushi At Home

    Chirashi sushi: fish layered atop a bowl of
    rice. Photo | Dreamstime.


    Making sushi rolls or nigiri—the slices of fish atop a bed of rice—takes some training and dexterity.

    But you don’t need the skills of a sushi chef to serve chirashi sushi at home: sliced fish arranged atop a bowl of rice. Or, you can make our Japanese-American “fusion chirashi”: sliced fish atop a green salad.

    Chirashi is not pressed together like other forms of sushi (see our Sushi & Sashimi Glossary for the different types of sushi). The word “chirashi” means “to scatter.”

    Japanese cooks are too disciplined to scatter the ingredients willy-nilly, so an appealing placement of fish and vegetables is presented.

    You don’t have to use as much fish on top of your chirashi as shown in the photo, as long as you cover at least half of the rice with fish and vegetables. Look for whatever is fresh at the fish market—ask the fishmonger for recommendations. Cooked shrimp and salmon caviar are wonderful ingredients. We’re partial to raw scallops and oysters.


  • Sushi rice. Make this sushi rice recipe, slice some fish and enjoy chirashi sushi at home.
  • Add cooked fish. Since a variety of sushi/sashimi fish ingredients are precooked (octopus and squid, for example; mackerel is marinated), feel free to add canned tuna to your creation.
  • Condiments. Serve your chirashi with conventional soy sauce and wasabi, plus a wedge of lemon or lime. It isn’t authentic Japanese, but we love a hearty squeeze of citrus on our sushi and sashimi, and it cuts down the amount of soy sauce required. Even if you use low-sodium soy sauce, the sodium quotient is high, more than 500 mg of sodium per tablespoon.
  • Vegetables. Add sliced cucumber, chopped scallions, homemade pickled vegetables and anything else that appeals to you.
  • Pickled ginger. You may be able to find Japanese pickled ginger at your market. Or, pickle your own by marinating thin slices of ginger in rice vinegar and sugar. The pink color, if you want it, is a tiny amount of red food coloring.
  • Other ingredients. Be creative, go fusion. While olives, for example are not part of Japanese cuisine, they go nicely with raw fish. It’s the same with Chinese ingredients such as water chestnuts. And if you’ve had cans of baby corn, bamboo shoots or bean sprouts on the shelf for too long, it’s time to use them.
    You can serve chirashi sushi as an appetizer or a main course. You can serve individual portions, as at restaurants, or make one large bowl family-size bowl, which is typical in Japanese homes. If you don’t have chopsticks, forks are fine.

    Now, think about chirashi atop a green salad. Start by choosing your greens:




  • Mesclun
  • Frisée
  • Endive and/or radicchio
  • Shredded cabbage and carrots (cole slaw mix)
  • Green onion, red onion or sweet onion
  • Assorted fish and shellfish
  • Wasabi vinaigrette (recipe below)

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Optional: 1/2 teasppon grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Sashimi with a shredded cabbage-frisée salad. Here, the tuna is cut into chunks instead of sashimi-style slices. Photo courtesy Triomphe | NYC.



    1. COMBINE vinegar and soy sauce; whisk in wasabi.

    2. WHISK in oil and sesame seeds. Season as desired.
    Enjoy: It’s healthful and low in calories!


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