THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for February, 2015

FOOD FUN: Pizza Portraits

Are you hungering for your portrait in pizza? Commission one from Domenico Crolla.

A native of Glasgow, Scotland, where his Italian-born father Alfredo had a café, Chef Crolla graduated from the Scottish Hotel School and launched his first restaurant, a pizzeria.

His next Glasgow restaurant, Italmania, became Scotland’s very first designer pizza emporium. It closed in 2008 to be replaced with a full-service Italian restaurant, Bella Napoli.

But the thrill of pizza remains, especially in Chef Crolla’s pizza portraits of celebrities from Beyoncé to Andy Warhol (how Andy would have loved that!) He even turned the iconic photo of Prince William, Duchess Kate and baby Prince George into pizza art.

Don’t think of him as a pizza chef, but as a culinary artist.

 

pope-230sq

The Pope in pizza. Photo courtesy Domenico Crolla.

 
When he isn’t creating pizza art or running his restaurants, Chef Crolla judges cooking contests across the globe.

Discover more at Crolla.com and check out the celebrity pizzas on his Facebook page.

  

Comments off

TIP OF THE DAY: Cooking In Parchment (En Papillote)

carrots-en-papilotte-paperchef-230r

Proteins and vegetables cook easily and
mess-free in parchment pouches. Photo
courtesy PaperChef.

 

Many of us use parchment paper to line baking sheets. But if you haven’t yet used that parchment for en papillote cooking, you’re in for a treat: less mess and fewer calories, for starters, along with juicier, moister food.

Cooking en papillote (pah-pee-YOHT), French for “in parchment,” is a classic technique where food, often in individual portions, is enclosed in a folded pouch and steamed in the oven.

This simple yet refined culinary tradition works by trapping the moisture from the food in the pouch. It helps the food cook quickly, with little or no added fat, without losing flavor and retaining luscious aromas.

And there’s no pot or pan to clean. Just dispose of the pouch.

The technique dates to the early days of cooking food, where people took local foliage—banana leaves, corn husks and grape leaves, for example—and wrapped food in them prior to placing them on the fire. The leaves/husks took the place of pots and pans.

These days in the U.S., aluminum foil and parchment paper are the wrappings of choice, and the food is placed in the oven (or microwave) along with herbs and/or other seasonings. No special equipment is required. Poultry, seafood and vegetables are popular foods for en papillote cooking.

 

You’ll immediately discover the joy of infusion. Topping a piece of fish with a slice of lemon or fresh herbs infuses the protein with those flavors. You’ll have fun playing with the flavors of broths, herbs, juices and spices.

Steaming en papillote (pah-pee-YOHT) requires no special equipment, just the food and a roll of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

  • Parchment can be used with any food, but is especially important when steaming foods with a salt rub or acid (citrus juice, vinegar). Anything but the lightest touch of the latter can cause discoloration or a chemical aroma from reaction with aluminum.
  • Another benefit of parchment is environmental: it decomposes easily in landfill.
  • And if you’re not good at folding paper into pouches, Paper Chef has a solution: parchment bags. Just put the ingredients inside and fold the top to close. (See the photo below.)
  •  
    Why doesn’t the paper bag or folded pocket leak? Parchment baking paper has been treated with an acid and coated with silicone. The result is a liquid-proof, burn-resistant paper (the parchment will brown but not burn, up to 450°F). It’s also nonstick; hence, its popular use as a baking sheet and cake pan liner.

     

    How To Buy Parchment Paper

    You can buy parchment in rolls, bags and individually-cut sheets. Rolls provide the most flexibility for baking sheets as well as pockets.

    What about bleached versus unbleached parchment paper?

    Environmentalists go for unbleached parchment. It’s more expensive, but also more environmentally friendly.

    Bleached parchment uses not only chlorine, but typically employs both chlorine and Quilon®, a cheaper alternative to silicone.

    Quilon is a chemical solution that contains chrome, a heavy metal. When incinerated it becomes toxic and leaves trace elements. It is approved by the FDA and the USDA, but that doesn’t mean it’s environmentally friendly.

    If you have leisure time this weekend, get some parchment and cook en papillote. You can start with these videos from PaperChef.com, which also has plenty of recipes.

     

    parchment-bag-paperchef-230r

    No more need to fold pouches: Just add the ingredients to parchment bags. Photo courtesy PaperChef.

     

      

    Comments off

    FOOD FUN: Strawberry Cake Pops

    strawberry-cake-pops-bella-baker-230

    Strawberry-themed cake pops. You can use
    any flavor of cake that you like. Photo
    courtesy Bella Baker.

     

    February 27th is National Strawberry Day.

    What better activity than to make these luscious strawberry cake pops from Lauryn Cohen of BellaBaker.com.

    If you’ve never made cake pops but think they’d fit in with family and entertaining, there’s a fool-proof appliance to make round balls of cake: the Babycakes Pop Maker.

    There are several cake pops recipe books to help you become an artist. This recipe book has 175 different recipes/designs.

    If you like to decorate, you’ll be set for many hours of food fun.

     

      

    Comments off

    RECIPE: Strawberry Salsa

    How about something special for National Strawberry Day (February 27th): strawberry salsa.

    In addition to serving with tortilla chips, strawberry salsa is delicious over grilled chicken, fish or pork.

    This recipes was adapted from TasteOfHome.com. You can customize it by adding other fruits to the strawberries. Mango, grapes, pineapple, pomegranate arils and stone fruits are a few options.

    TIP: Wear disposable gloves when cutting and seeding hot chiles; then clean the cutting board and knife, wash your gloved hands and dispose of the gloves. Accidentally touching your eye with the most minute amount of capsaicin fom the chile is an experience you never want to have.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (do not substitute)
  • Optional: green, orange, red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  •  

    strawberry-salsa-tasteofhome-230

    Strawberry salsa made with optional bell pepper. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients. Refrigerate and let the flavors meld for an hour or more.

    2. SERVE with chips or as a protein garnish.

     
    Variations

  • Chunky Strawberry Salsa With Quartered Cherry Tomatoes Recipe
  • Strawberry Mango Salsa Recipe
  • Strawberry Salsa With Grape Tomatoes & Corn Kernels Recipe
  • Strawberry Salsa With Plum Tomatoes Recipe
  •   

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kumquats

    kumquat-whiteflowerfarm-230

    Kumquats are the size of large olives. Photo courtesy White Flower Farm.

     

    How can it be that we’ve never published a piece about the kumquat? Today’s tip remedies that oversight.

    Native to China and now grown throughout Southeast Asia (plus the U.S. and elsewhere), the kumquat is a tiny citrus fruit that is entirely edible, skin and all. The orange flesh is juicy, acidic and tart (some varieties have are more tart than others). The skin is fragrant and sweet.

    Kumquats grow on small trees or bushes. They looking like wee, oval oranges, the size and shape of a large olive.

    The word “kumquat” comes from the Cantonese kin kü, meaning golden orange. The earliest historical reference appears in China in the 12th century.

    The tiny fruits were introduced to Europe in 1846 by Robert Fortune, a collector for the London Horticultural Society. Not long after, they arrived in North America, and found a happy growing ground in Florida.

     
    HOW TO SERVE KUMQUATS

    People who have never tried kumquats may look at them in the produce aisle, wondering what to do with them. As a citrus fruit, they work wherever other citrus fruits are employed. You don’t peel them or juice them, but serve them halved, sliced or whole. Some opportunities:

  • Braised, with fish or poultry
  • Breakfast breads and muffins
  • Cakes, cookies, pies, frostings
  • Candied
  • Dressing/stuffings
  • Fruit salads (sliced)
  • Garnishes/decorations, including cocktail garnishes
  • Green salads (sliced)
  • Ice cubes, whole, haved or sliced
  • Jelly/marmalade/preserves
  • Liqueur
  • Tea, hot or iced (sliced)
  •  

    Here are dozens of kumquat recipes from Kumquat Growers of Florida—from kumquat ice cream to kumquat tea to kumquat cranberry relish.
     
    Kumquat recipes from THE NIBBLE:

  • Field Salad With Kumquats And Strawberries (recipe)
  • Limoncello-Kumquat Cocktail (recipe)
  • Pernod Fruit Salad (recipe)
  •  
    A final idea: halved kumquats, topped with cream cheese and pepper jelly, as an hors d’oeuvre or tea time snack.
     
    BUYING & STORING KUMQUATS

    Look for firm, blemish-free fruit with a fresh scent. Avoid kumquats with green skins—they aren’t ripe and won’t ripen off the vine.

    You can refrigerate kumquats whole for up to one month, in a plastic storage bag. Freezing is not recommended.

     

    limonce-kumquat-cocktail-230

    Use kumquats in cocktails or as a garnish. Photo courtesy Limonce Limoncello.

     

      

    Comments off



    © Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.