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Archive for October 1, 2014

FOOD FUN: Chef Stamps

Each year, the U.S. Postal Service celebrates “The Best of America” by issuing limited-edition stamps that highlight quintessential American personalities, passions and milestones. The edition we’ve been waiting for debuted on Friday: celebrity chefs who revolutionized the American culinary experience in postwar America and served as early, ardent champions of modern food trends.

The stamps honor five chefs:

  • James Beard, 1903-1985, cookbook author, teacher, champion of American cuisine, syndicated columnist and television personality.
  • Joyce Chen, 1917-1994, a Beijing-born chef, restaurateur, author, television personality and entrepreneur who developed the first line of bottled Chinese stir fry sauces in the U.S. and is credited with popularizing northern-style Chinese cuisine here.
  • Julia Child, 1912-2004, author and television personality who brought French cuisine to the American public with the first major English-language cookbook of French cuisine, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
  • Edna Lewis, 1916-2006, an African-American chef and author known for her books on traditional Southern cuisine that led some to call her “the South’s answer to Julia Child.”
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    The new Julia Child stamp. Photo courtesy USPO.

     

    chef-stamps-envelopes-230

    Stamped envelopes are available in addition
    to sheets of individual stamps. Photo
    courtesy USPO.

     
  • Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, 1945-1991, a Peruvian-born chef who became an American citizen as he helped to bring a Spanish and Caribbean influence into America’s haute cuisine repertory. America’s Bicentennial chef in 1976, he had served as the assistant in James Beard’s cooking school and was the founding chef of the Dean & Deluca gourmet food store.
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    Something we didn’t now: All stamps sold by the Post Office are now Forever stamps. The days of pairing the old postage with 1¢, 2¢ and 3¢ stamps are over!

    So, food fans, you can buy a lifetime supply of chef stamps to add personality to your cards, letters and bills.

    For more information or to purchase online, visit The Postal Store.

    Bon appétit!

     

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Homemade Cookie Day

    Start preheating the oven: October 1st is National Homemade Cookie Day.

    Here are some of our favorite cookie recipes.

    We could do chocolate chip, America’s favorite cookie; but we’re really in the mood for these Gingerbread Bars With Cream Cheese Icing.

    In honor of the month of October—the beginning of “pumpkin season”—we’ll add some pumpkin purée to the icing (a tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin purée).

    And, we’ll answer this question:

    WHY ARE BROWNIES COOKIES, NOT CAKE?

    You may wonder why brownies and other bar cookies are classified as cookies when they have a crumb (the professional word for the texture of baked goods, including bread and muffins) that is similar to cake.

    The answer is: Cookies are finger food, cakes are fork food. Brownies, lemon bars and other bars are finger food, not fork food. It’s that simple.

     

    What we’re baking for National Homemade Cookie Day: gingerbread bars with cream cheese frosting. Photo and recipe courtesy McCormick.com.

     
    Check out:

  • The history of cookies
  • The different types of cookies
  • How to store cookies
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    TIP OF THE DAY & FOOD HOLIDAY: National Kale Day

    kale-varieties-nationalkaleday.org-230r

    Three stems of curly kale with one of red
    Russian kale. Photo courtesy
    NationalKaleDay.org.

     

    Yesterday we focused on kale’s cousin, kohlrabi. But today is National Kale Day. If you’re one of the few better-eating-oriented food enthusiasts who hasn’t yet tried kale, today’s the day.

    This is the second annual National Kale Day, established as the first Wednesday in October. The holiday was established by Drew Ramsey, M.D. and chef Jennifer Iserloh, authors of 50 Shades of Kale.

    Their objective was to draw attention to the superfood, which continues to grow in popularity in both the retail and foodservice (restaurants, schools and other institutions, etc.) markets.

    The kale trend has driven up sales 20%-30% in the last year alone. As an illustration of how popular kale has become, mainstream producer Dole Fresh Vegetables recently rolled out new six salad mixes, all with kale, including a Kale Caesar salad kit.

    Kale is grown around the world, and has been cultivated for some 6,000 years. It’s easy to grow and hearty: A kale plant continues to produce late into winter, and after a frost, kale becomes even sweeter.
     
    TYPES OF KALE

    If you’re already a fan of green kale, visit farmers markets for specialty varieties. There are more than 50 varieties of kale, but in the U.S. you’re most likely to find:

     

  • Curly kale, the variety typically found in grocery stores. It can be bright green, dark green or purple in color with tight ruffled leaves. The fibrous stalks can be difficult to chop, but they’re easy to tear if fresh. The flavor is pungent, peppery and bitter. Seek out younger looking leaves for less bitterness.
  • Lacinato kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale and other names*. It’s an Italian heirloom with blue-green leaves. Slightly sweeter and more delicate in flavor than curly kale, it has nutty, earthy notes.
  • Redbor kale, best known as ornamental kale, dark red or purple in color. It is certainly edible. You can grow it as a garden decoration and pick leaves as you need them, for cooking or garnishing.
  • Red Russian kale with flat leaves that resemble arugula leaves. It gets its name because the stems can have a red or reddish-purple tinge. It is considered one of the more flavorful kales, sweet and mild with just a bit of pepperiness. The stems, however, are too tough to digest and should be removed before cooking.
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    *Lacinto kale is also called black kale, black Tuscan palm, cavolo nero (which means black cabbage in Italian), dinosaur kale, flat back cabbage, Italian kale, palm tree kale, Tuscan cabbage and Tuscan kale.

     

    To celebrate National Kale Day, make your favorite kale dish. Have you ever tried colcannon, a traditional Irish dish of kale (or cabbage) and mashed potatoes? We’re making it for dinner tonight, along with this kale salad:

    RECIPE: SHREDDED KALE WITH DATE PURÉE & PINE NUTS

    This recipe is from Svitana of ArtDeFete.com. She enhances a conventional vinaigrette with date purée for an exciting new flavor combination.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Date Purée

  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ lemon, juiced
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    shredded-kale-salad-with-date-puree-artdefete-230r

    Shredded kale salad with date purée. Photo courtesy ArtDeFete.com.

     
    For The Salad

  • 1 bunch kale, center ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Optional garnish: ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs, toasted
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    For the Dressing

  • 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon date purée
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
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    Preparation

    1. MAKE the date purée: In a food processor, combine dates, water, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and lemon juice. Blend until it resembles a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can keep date purée refrigerated up to two weeks or freeze for three months. Use the rest in smoothies or stir into yogurt.

    2. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and date purée until well combined. Season to taste.

    3. COMBINE the dressing and shredded kale in a large bowl; toss until well coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    4. ASSEMBLE the salad: Spread a thin layer (1 tablespoon) of date purée on each plate and top it with kale salad. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and toasted bread crumbs. Serve.

      

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