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Archive for May 17, 2014

FOOD FUN: Gnocchi For Breakfast


Pasta for breakfast! Photo and recipe
courtesy Giovanni Rana.


Here’s a fun idea for breakfast or brunch: “Gnocchi Homefries,” made with potato gnocchi instead of sliced potatoes, in yummy sage brown butter.

Sauté with pancetta, onions and rosemary; or add sausage, and freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Or add it all, topped with a poached or fried egg.

This recipe is courtesy of Giovanni Rana, which used its delicious Gnocchi di Patate (potato gnocchi) Home Fries with Pancetta and Sage Brown Butter Fried Eggs for a romantic brunch. Find more recipes on the website.



For The Home Fries

  • ½ – 8.8-ounce package Giovanni Rana Gnocchi di Patate
  • 2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce pancetta or bacon, cut into ¼” strips (easier to cut when frozen)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary or sage
  • 2 teaspoon vegetable oil, such as canola
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
    For The Eggs

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 leaves fresh sage
  • 2 eggs
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


    1. SAUTÉ pancetta or bacon over medium/low heat with extra virgin olive oil in a nonstick pan. When crispy, remove to a paper towel to drain. Add onions and chopped rosemary and sauté over medium heat until tender and starting to brown; about 7-9 minutes. Remove to a bowl and wipe pan clean.

    2. HEAT 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in the nonstick pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add the gnocchi and sauté, constantly tossing to prevent burning, until they are golden brown. Turn off heat.

    3. RETURN onions and pancetta to the pan. Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and toss until butter is melted. Empty contents of pan into a bowl. Add Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss.

    4. MELT 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small nonstick pan over medium heat. Add fresh sage leaves and swirl pan until the butter begins to brown. Turn heat off and allow the pan to cool slightly; about 1 minute. Add the eggs and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry the eggs on medium/low heat to desired doneness, spooning some of the brown butter over top of them a few times; about 2-1/2 minutes for sunny side up.



    Giovanni Rana’s potato gnocchi are just one of the company’s delicious fresh pastas and sauces. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    5. PLATE the home fries and top with fried eggs.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Creme Fraiche, Mascarpone, Sour Cream


    In photos, four cream-based products look
    alike. But the flavor, weight and production
    techniques differ. Vive la différence! Photo
    courtesy Vermont Creamery.


    Cream is easily whipped into a delicious topping or filling. With a bit more effort at the dairy, it can be turned into enriched creams, including clotted cream, crème fraîche, mascarpone and sour cream. Each has its own distinct character, each is a gift to people who love a bit of richness.


    Cream starts with milk, a suspension of whey proteins, casein proteins and globules of fat in water. The largest amount of the suspension is fat, which is also the lightest component. If the milk is not homogenized, it rises to the top to a rich cream layer. The longer the milk sits at warm temperatures (which speed separation), the richer and thicker the cream becomes.*

    Cream can also be thickened by fermenting with Lactobacillus bacteria, which is how three of our four featured, enhanced creams are made.

    In the U.S., the raw milk is heated (pasteurized) and the fat (cream) is separated (leaving nonfat milk). It can then be processed into different products:

  • Clotted cream/Devon cream, which relies on boiling and resting time to thicken (double cream is similar to clotted cream but with a higher fat content).
  • Crème fraîche, cream cultured/thickened with Lactobacillus bacteria, a lighter, thinner alternative to sour cream†.
  • Mascarpone, the Italian version of crème fraîche, but thicker and sweeter, soured by a lactic culture or an acid like vinegar or cream of tartar.
  • Sour cream, cream that gets its sharp, tart edge by adding Lactobacillus culture.
    The cultured creams all have a delightful, piquant edge. We like them even better than the simple, often-too-sweet whipped cream, to garnish chocolate cakes and other sweet, rich desserts.
    *Historically, dairy farmers skimmed the cream from shallow pans of milk, let it sit again, and did this repeatedly to get the richest cream. Modern dairies use massive centrifuges to perform the same task in seconds (and produce creams with a consistent percentage of milk fat).

    †Note that depending on the producer, crème fraîche can be thicker than sour cream, or vice versa.

    These comparisons help to explain the difference among products created from milk. Note that the percentages are averages; different dairies can manage their recipes to include more or less fat. (Note that milk fat/milkfat is the same as butter fat/butterfat.)

  • Nonfat milk: 0%-1% fat
  • 1% and 2% milk: 1%-2% fat
  • Lowfat milk: 2%-4% fat
  • Whole milk: 4% fat
  • Half-and-half: 12%-15% fat (it’s half milk, half cream)
  • Sour cream: 18%-20% fat
  • Light cream: 18%-30% fat
  • Heavy cream (whipping cream): 30%-36% fat
  • Crème fraîche: 35%-40% fat
  • Heavy whipping cream: 36%-44% fat
  • Manufacturer’s cream: 44% fat or higher (not available in consumer markets)
  • Double cream: 43%-48% fat or higher
  • Clotted cream/Devon cream: 60% fat
  • Mascarpone: 70%-75% fat
  • Butter: 80%–84% fat

    Heavy whipping cream is warmed gently to a near boil, so the fat globules float to the top and form a firm layer. It is then left to cool for a day. This is the famed clotted cream of Devon and Somerset, England: a very rich, thick delight of about 60% milk fat, with flavors both creamy and buttery.

    Clotted cream is popularly enjoyed with fruit preserves on scones, on other baked goods, or as a topping for fresh fruit.

    Developed in France, crème fraîche (pronounced crehm fresh) is an often-thinner form of sour cream, with a more delicate texture and tartness.

    Cream is gently heated and then inoculated with bacterial cultures. The bacteria consume the cream’s natural sugars, producing lactic acid in exchange. This gentle acidity thickens the cream and imparts a mild, refreshing tang (less tang than sour cream because the amounts of the bacterial cultures used are far fewer).

    Crème fraîche is used as a topping, in sauces and other recipes. Aside from the celestial taste, the best thing about crème fraîche is that it can be heated and used in sauces without curdling.

    And, you can make it at home. Here’s a crème fraîche recipe; a quicker alternative is to blend equal amounts of heavy whipping cream and sour cream.



    Mascarpone takes a third approach to thickening cream. The result is the richest, sweetest and most luscious; and spoonable, spreadable mascarpone is actually classified as a fresh cheese (a triple-crème).

    The cream is brought to a simmer until approximately a third of its original volume has evaporated. Then, an acid ingredient such as vinegar or cream of tartar is mixed into the warm, extra-rich cream. The acidity causes the cream to congeal to a thick, almost stiff texture, while retaining its mild and creamy flavor. It is the thickest and richest enriched cream, at 70%-75% milk fat.

    Mascarpone is intensely rich and used for desserts (cannoli filling, tiramisu, cheesecake, with fresh fruit) as well as in savory recipes (dips, sauces, spreads). It is often called “Italian cream cheese,” but the two products are technically different.



    Mmm, mmm, mascarpone! Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.



    To make sour cream, cream is fermented by lactic acid bacteria, which sours and thickens the cream. The production of lactic acid by bacterial fermentation is called souring. The taste of sour cream is only mildly sour—tangy would be a better word.

    Sour cream is used in recipes and as a garnish. When Little Miss Muffet ate her curds and whey, she was enjoying cottage cheese. We’d have topped it off with sour cream, which is how we enjoyed cottage cheese before we made the diet switch to nonfat yogurt.

    Yogurt is milk—not cream—that is fermented with Lactobicillus bacteria. It can be used as sour cream is used, to cut back on cholesterol (fat) and calories.

    Some material in this article was adapted from


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