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Archive for March, 2013

TIP OF THE DAY: Use Champagne Flutes For Appetizers & Desserts

Use your Champagne flutes for more than
Champagne. Photo courtesy Filicori Zecchini.

 

Since today is a holiday that features a fancy dinner, today’s tip is about fancy presentation of food.

When you create a snazzy presentation for a good recipe, you invariably have a hit.

If you’re not using your Champagne flutes, tulips or coupes for drinking, use them for appetizers or desserts.

What goes into a Champagne flute? Anything that can be spooned out of it.

APPETIZERS

  • A dip or spread garnished with a tall bread stick and served with a side of crackers, crostini or toasts
  • Gourmet mac & cheese; take a look at these gourmet mac and cheese recipes
  • Guacamole with a caviar or shrimp garnish and a side of gourmet tortilla chips
  • Savory yogurt parfait: seasoned plain Greek yogurt (mix in dill and lemon zest) layered with diced cucumbers and red bell peppers
  • Soup, preferably a thick vegetable purée
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    DESSERTS

  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet
  • Pudding or mousse
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    There are many other spoonable recipes, of course. Send us your favorites.

      

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    EASTER GREETINGS

      
    HAPPY EASTER FROM ALL OF US At THE NIBBLE.

    If you don’t celebrate Easter, today is also:

  • Tater Day
  • National Clams On The Half Shell Day
  • Oranges And Lemons Day
  •  

    Rabbit enjoying his Easter dinner.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Love Beets, Ready To Eat

    We’re so happy with these grab-and-go
    infused beet snacks and easy salad or side
    ingredients. Photo courtesy LoveBeets.com.

     

    Americans don’t eat enough beets. Love Beets, a packager of cooked beets in several enticing formats, wants to change that.

    Growing up in a beet-centric household of Russian descent, we know beets as a truly versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed hot or cold in just about everything—from sandwiches to soup (borscht!) to red velvet cake and ice cream (our beet ice cream was the hit of our 2000 “millennium dinner” on New Year’s Eve).

    So our heart fluttered when we discovered Love Beets’ fresh-cooked, ready-to-eat, conveniently designed clamshell packages of beets, with a fork included.

    There are also plain cooked beets (conventional or organic) that can be used as a salad or sandwich topper, side dish or healthful snack. There‘s beet juice (delicious!) that can be enjoyed plain, in a smoothie or in a Beet Martini. The line is all natural, gluten free, non GMO and certified kosher by OU.

     
    Baby beets are harvested young for a sweeter taste and cooked until tender; then packaged plain or infused with complementary flavors:

  • Balsamic Infused Beets. A modern take on a traditional flavor, beets are infused with balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar.
  • Honey & Ginger Infused Beets. Beets are infused in a blend of white wine vinegar, dark soy sauce, orange blossom honey, ginger purée and a pinch of sugar.
  • Sweetfire Infused Beets. With a bit of heat, beets are infused in a marinade of wine vinegar, sugar, salt, chili extract and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Vinegar-Infused Beets. Not quite a pickled beet, the sweetness of these baby beets is complimented by mild vinegar.
  • Sweetfire Snack Tray. Packaged with white Cheddar cheese cubes and crostini crackers; 129 calories.
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    We enjoy the flavor-infused beets straight from the package, or with a side of plain nonfat yogurt—it’s the healthier version of the Russian beets and sour cream.

    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY BEETS

    Ruby red baby beets add a delicious kick to just about anything.

  • Add to side salads or luncheon salads. The photo shows a lettuce salad with hard-cooked eggs, crumbled bacon and beets. Add with sliced oranges and beets to lettuce for a new take on a classic Moroccan salad. Arrange with sliced pears, arugula and goat cheese. Our favorite salad: arugula, beets and goat cheese with fresh-snipped dill.
  • Serve with cold cuts, sandwiches and cheese plates. Take a look at this recipe for Steak Sandwich With Beets & Honey Mustard.
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    Add beets to side salads or luncheon salads: here, with hard-cooked eggs and crumbled bacon. Photo courtesy LoveBeets.com.

  • Add sliced beets to a bagel. Slice and layer with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Our diet version: Substitute Greek yogurt for the cream cheese.
  • Create a beet garnish. Sliced, diced or in matchsticks, beets add pizzazz.
  • Make beet bruschetta. Layer beets atop sliced baguette, top with Brie or other favorite cheese, heat to slightly melt cheese and garnish with fresh green herbs.
  • Beet-based dips. It can be as simple as blending beets into plain yogurt with fresh dill. But check out this beet and walnut dip, beet, beet and spinach dip and butterbean hummus and beet and radish chutney.
     
    Return to your roots: Enjoy more beets! Find more delicious beet recipes at LoveBeets.com.
     
    BEET TIPS

    You can use cooked beets in any recipe that requires raw beets. Just reduce the cooking time accordingly.

    Alas, beet juice does stain. If you aren’t a very neat eater, wear dark clothing! But beet juice is a water-soluble dye, so try one of these methods to clean up stains:

  • To remove from hands, rub with lemon juice and salt before washing with soap and water
  • On fabrics, rub a slice of raw pear on the stain before washing or rinse in cold water before washing in detergent.
  • Use a bleach solution for cutting boards and containers.
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    THE HISTORY OF BEETS

    Beets, or Beta vulgaris, evolved from wild sea beet, which grew wild in places as wide-ranging as Britain and India to Britain. The wild sea beet was first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East—although only the leaves were eaten! (Even today, beet greens are delicious. Don’t throw them away: Sauté them.) In early times, the medicinal properties of the root (the red bulb) led that portion to be used to treat a range of ailments from constipation, fevers, skin problems and wounds.

    The Romans cultivated beets; early recipes included cooking beets with honey and wine (that’s still a good recipe today). Apicius, the renowned Roman gourmet, included a beet broth recipe in his cookbook as well as beet salad with a dressing of mustard, oil and vinegar.

    The original beet roots were long and thin like carrots. The rounded root shape of today was developedin the 16th century and by the 18th century was widely cultivated in Central and Eastern Europe. Many classic beet dishes originated in this region, including borscht.

    In 19th century England, beets’ dramatic color was popular to brighten up salads and soups. The high sugar content made it a popular ingredient in cakes and puddings.

    Today there are many varieties of beets sizes large and small, including candy-striped (with red and white concentric circles), orange, white and yellow. Look for these specialty beets in farmers markets.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mustard As Condiment & Ingredient

    A field of mustard plants in Napa Valley. The
    seeds are harvested from the beautiful
    yellow flowers. Photo courtesy Napa Mustard
    Festival.

     

    When some people think “spring,” they think daffodils and tulips. The food-focused think “mustard.”

    A few days before the official start of spring, we look forward to St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef and cabbage with lots of prepared mustard on the side. Then comes Easter, where we slather on mustard to glaze the ham, and spread different types of mustard on the ham sandwiches that follow (take a look at these cherry-mustard ham glaze and these ham glaze recipes).

    Then come the spring vegetables, accented with mustard: in a sauce for fresh asparagus, mixed into vinaigrette with new, tender greens, as part of a dip for fresh artichoke leaves.

    The next thing you know, it’s baseball season: hot dogs and soft pretzels drizzled with mustard. Then come the picnics: mustard on sandwiches, in deviled egg recipes and mixed into cole slaw and potato salad for an extra hint of flavor.

     
    Many kitchens have a jar of Dijon mustard and a jar of yellow “ballpark” mustard. But there are quite a few different prepared mustards, including some you’ve never heard of. See the different types of mustard in our Mustard Glossary, and try something new. You’ll discover delightful flavors with almost no calories.

    You can also check out the history of mustard.

    Grains of mustard have been found in the tombs of the pharaohs, and mustard was a popular condiment with the ancient Greeks and Romans. By the 1400s, mustard had spread through Europe, with each region making its own style. Mustard arrived in America in the 1700s as immigrants set up their own businesses.

    Here’s a plateful of ideas from Roland brand mustard on ways to use mustard add a punch of flavor to other dishes:

     

    MUSTARD AS A CONDIMENT

  • Serve two mustards. Serving a dish of Dijon and grain mustard side by side highlights the differences in taste and allows everyone to experiment with various combinations of flavor.
  • Try flavored mustards—mustard blended with with tarragon or other herbs, blue cheese, beets and other ingredients—on sandwiches and hamburgers, for a truly special taste twist. Do it even if you like the same old, same old: We adore flavored mustards.
  • Serve mustard as a cheese condiment: Dijon, grainy (old-style or à la ancienne) and flavored mustards are our favorites here. (More about cheese condiments.)
  • Make your own honey mustard. Just blend honey into Dijon mustard, to taste. You can also use maple syrup, or go for low-glycemic agave nectar or calorie-free sweeteners.
  • Experiment by pairing different mustards with your favorite foods. For example, grainy mustard is a great pairing with Cajun style sandwiches: fish, pan-fried oysters or pork. We love herb-flavored mustards with cold cuts. With pâtés, try green peppercorn-flavored Dijon mustard.
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    Fried green tomatoes and crab with Creole mustard. Here’s the recipe from McCormick.com.

     

    COOKING WITH MUSTARD

  • Add flavor to sauces. Mustard is an essential ingredient in everything from hollandaise to reduction sauces to vinaigrettes.
  • Add dry or prepared mustard to vinaigrette or other salad dressing. In addition to the dash of spiciness, mustard helps to hold the emulsion in the dressing.
  • Add mustard at the end of the cooking process. In a sauce or a other cooked recipe, too much heat will make the mustard flavor weak and bitter.
  • Add mustard to dips. Perk up artichokes, asparagus and crudités, as well as steamed and grilled veggies.
  • Put mustard in your rub and your marinade. Mustard mixed with herbs, salt and black pepper makes a great rub for roast meats, and is always a welcome flavor element in marinades.
  • Make compound butter with mustard. ustard works very well in compound butters. Soften butter at room temperature. Then add chopped garlic, parsley, black pepper, minced shallots and the mustard of choice. Mix well, spoon onto parchment paper, form into a roll and freeze. Cut 1/2 inch sections off and place over grilled meat or fish. (More about compound butter.)
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    Try this recipe from Roland Foods: Fresh mint makes it the perfect spring vinaigrette.

    RECIPE: MINT MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 tablespoons smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
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    Preparation

    1. COMBINE mustards, vinegar and mint leaves in a small mixing bowl; briskly whisk to blend. While whisking mixture, slowly drizzle in olive oil.

    2. USE immediately, or be prepared to re-whisk if the vinaigrette separates.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Talenti Gelato In Spring Colors For Easter

    It’s really easy to make this ice cream cake
    for Easter, or to simply serve three pretty
    colors of gelato or sorbetto in a bowl. Photo
    courtesy Talenti Gelato\.

     

    By the time dessert comes, we’ll be bursting at the seams: no room for carrot cake or coconut cake (can we get that to go?), not to mention pie or anything chocolate.

    But what’s a festive meal without dessert?

    Our solution? The beautiful spring colors of Talenti gelato:

  • The green, spring-evoking Mediterranean Mint and Sicilian Pistachio
  • The lavender loveliness of Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip
  • The lush, orange-hued Alphonso Mango Sorbet
  • The pink hues of Blood Orange Sorbet, the intensely hued Roman Raspberry and the pale pink Simply Strawberry
  • The speckled egg effect of Black Cherry and Caramel Cookie Crunch
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    Read the full review of Talenti gelato to see how to turn them into a lovely “Easter Nest” dessert, that everyone will have room for…and how easy it is to make the colorful ice cream cake in the photo.

     

      

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