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Archive for April 6, 2014

PASSOVER: Flourless Persian Pistachio Cake

This recipe comes via Chef Jennifer Abadi and Zabar’s. The aromatic, citrus notes of cardamom add flair to a simple cake.

Preparation time is one hour; the cake yields eight to ten servings.

RECIPE: FLOURLESS PERSIAN PISTACHIO CAKE
WITH CARDAMOM SYRUP

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup matzoh meal
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground cardamom
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    Wet Ingredients

  • 3 extra large eggs (or 4 large eggs), lightly beaten
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup water
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    flourlesss-persian-pistachio-cake-jenniferAbadi-zabars-230

    Ground nuts replace flour in cakes for Passover. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.

     
    For Decoration

  • 3 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios, as decoration
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    cardamom-pods-farmgirlgourmet-230

    Cardamom pods. Photo courtesy Heather
    Scholten | Farmgirl Gourmet.

      For Cardamom-Sugar Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Few pinches black pepper
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 crushed cardamom pods
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. POUR pistachios into a food processor and pulse until they become a fine meal-like consistency, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the matzoh meal and pulse together an additional minute.

    3. POUR ground pistachio mixture into a medium size bowl and combine with remaining dry ingredients.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.

     

    5. POUR the batter into a greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan and sprinkle with whole pistachios. Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and center of cake is soft but not wet (cake should still be fairly moist). Meanwhile, prepare the syrup.

    6. COMBINE the sugar, salt, pepper, and water in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a bubbling simmer over medium heat. Add the ground cardamom and cardamom pods, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (the liquid will thicken slightly). Remove from heat.

    7. REMOVE cake from oven and cool 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve at room temperature sprinkled with the cardamom-sugar syrup.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Pineberry

    Pineberries are a cultivar of strawberries that actually have a sweet pineapple taste and aroma—thus inspiring the “pine” in the name. While they are very pretty, delicious and aromatic, you may never have seen them because they are also delicate, fragile and very limited in their growing season—which is now.

    The small strawberries (from 1/2 inch to less than an inch in diameter), which are white and covered with red seeds (achenes), have the same genetic make-up as the common strawberry.

    Pineberries are available for a brief 4-5 week season beginning in April. The question is: Where can you get them? This most special of strawberries is only grown in Holland.

    If you’re in England, head to Waitrose, the upscale supermarket chain, where they will fly off the shelves.

    According to Waitrose, the berry originated in South America as a wild variety of strawberry. It was threatened with extinction because it has a low yield per plant and smaller sized berries. Seven years ago, when Dutch farmers began growing it on a commercial level in greenhouses. They begin life as green berries (like regular strawberries), then become slightly white instead of red.

     

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    Pineberries are tiny cultivars of the common strawberry. Photo courtesy Waitrose.

     

    pineberry-dessert-iconcoloursofflavour-230

    This recipe is from Icons Colours Of Taste.

     

    Use them as you would any strawberry—a dessert garnish, a cupcake topping, They are a feast for the eye, so it would be a shame to blend them into smoothies.

    “As the summer unfolds we won’t be surprised to hear that our customers are inviting their friends over for pineberry pavlovas, punch or serving them up with yoghurt, ice cream or heavy cream whipped cream for a lighter alternative.”

    STRAWBERRY TRIVIA

    The strawberry is the only fruit to carry its seeds on the outside.

    There are 200 seeds on the average strawberry. Each of these seeds has the genetic potential to become a new variety of strawberry since no two seeds are the same. This is how plant breeders develop new varieties of strawberries.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Cheese

    A good truffle cheese is a knockout. It you’re going to serve one cheese for a special occasion, this is it.

    There are different truffle cheeses from the U.S., France, Italy, and elsewhere. Some deliver the aromatic, spectacular truffle aroma and flavor you’re looking for. Others don’t, the black flecks of truffle seemingly there like the black flecks in vanilla ice cream—for appearance, not for taste.

    That’s because some truffles have little or no flavor and aroma, and not all producers use the more flavorful truffles. If you can taste before you buy, do so. More about truffles.)
     
    TYPES OF TRUFFLE CHEESE

    Truffle cheeses are aromatic cheeses that have been flavored with bits of fresh truffles and sometimes with truffle oil, when the truffles themselves are not particularly flavorful. They can be made from any milk, in soft, semi-soft or semi-hard styles.

    These cheeses are available in the U.S.:

  • Boschetto al Tartufo: a mild, semi-soft Italian cheese made with a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk and white truffles. Nice. The names means truffles from the woods.
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    Truffle Tremor. Photo courtesy Cypress Grove.

  • Fromager d’Affinois: from France, this variety of fromager d’affinois, a Brie-like double-crème cow’s milk cheese, is a beautiful blend of the creamy cheese with the subtle earthiness of the truffles. The black truffles are from Périgord—the best truffles in the world. It is a seasonal product that is in store for the holidays from October to January and then again in March (for Easter). You can find it in most gourmet/specialty stores, Whole Foods Markets, Trader Joe’s (as a unit size under their label called the Truffle Brie) and some Costco stores.
  • Moliterno Black Truffle Pecorino: A Sardinian raw sheep’s milk cheese covered with black truffle paste. Unlike most truffle cheese, the truffle paste is infused after the cheese has been aged, creating veins of truffle that permeates the entire paste. Once cut, the dark paste oozes out of the crevices of the cheese. It makes a great cheese course with a big, earthy Italian red wine.
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    Truffle cheese assortment from iGourmet. Serve it with hearty red wine: It’s a party!

     
  • Perlagrigia Sottocenere: a semi-soft Italian cheese originally from Venice, made from raw cow’s milk and slices of truffles. It is then rubbed with herbs and spices (cinnamon, cloves, coriander, fennel, licorice, nutmeg) and aged in an ash rind, a Venetian technique to preserve the cheese over a long period without losing flavor. The ash is also used to convey subtle flavors into the cheese, with a variety of spices mixed with the ash.with flavors of coated on to the rind. The name means “under ash.”
  • Truffle Gouda: a mild Dutch Gouda (cow’s milk, semihard) sprinkled with black truffles, the mildness of the cheese lets the flavor of the truffles shine through.
  • Truffle Tremor: from Cypress Grove Chevre of California, this soft, creamy goat’s milk cheese filled with Italian black summer truffles.is one of our favorites. What could make goat cheese better than truffles? Enjoyable any time, try it for dessert with a glass of Port.
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  • Truffle and Salt Cheddar: From Idaho’s Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese, this aged, pasteurized Cheddar (cow’s milk) is flavored with black truffle salt. As a result, it isn’t as truffle-redolent as cheeses that use actual truffles, but it is a lovely expression of artisan Cheddar.
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    You can get a truffle cheese assortment—five of the cheeses above—from iGourmet. It’s a special treat that will be long remembered.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Twinkies Day

    In 2012 and 2013, it looked like National Twinkies Day, April 6th, might be in jeopardy. Hostess Brands, the manufacturer, closed 33 bakeries in November 2012, declaring bankruptcy.

    But thanks to an investment by two private equity firms, the golden snacks were back on the shelf in July 2013.

    And a number of fans don’t ever want to be caught without their Twinkies: They’ve developed homemade versions. Here’s a recipe posted on Epicurious.com (presented as “vanilla snack cakes”).

    So buy them or bake them, and enjoy this Twinkie Trivia while you snack.
     
    TWINKIE TRIVIA

  • Birth. Twinkies snack cakes were invented in 1930 by James Dewar, manager of the Continental Baking Company (now Hostess Brands) in Chicago. The product was conceived as a way to use the company’s thousands of shortcake pans, which were employed only during strawberry season.
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    Make your own Twinkies. Photo by Lara Ferroni | Epicurious.

  • Name. Twinkies were originally called Little Shortcake Fingers. They were subsequently renamed Twinkie Fingers, inspired by a billboard that advertised the Twinkle Toe Shoe; and finally were renamed Twinkies. The third time’s a charm!
  • Price. Twinkies originally cost a nickel for two and had banana creme filling. The filling was changed to vanilla creme because there was a banana shortage during World War II. In 1999, Hostess reintroduced a limited-edition banana-creme Twinkie, but Americans refused to bite and it has not returned.
  • Science. In 1995, a group of Rice University students conducted experiments on Twinkies. See the results on here. One finding: When microwaved, Twinkies gave off noxious fumes.
  • Shelf Life. Twinkies currently have a shelf life of 45 days. The secret to their longevity is the lack of dairy ingredients, which spoil more quickly than other ingredients; not to mention, lots of preservatives.
  • Quantity. Hostess produced more than 500 million Twinkies a year, almost enough for each American to eat two Twinkies a year. Chicago, the birthplace of Twinkies, consumes more per capita than any other city.
  • Honor. In 1999, the White House Millennium Council selected the Twinkie as one of the items to be preserved in the Nation’s Millennium Time Capsule, representing an object of enduring American symbolism. (Hmm…)
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    Trivia source: HunterHome.net.

      

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