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Archive for April 26, 2015

PRODUCT: Easier Homemade Pretzels

Here’s help if you want to make homemade pretzels (see the recipe below): the Silpat baking sheet for that Perfect Pretzel Baking Sheet.

Just lay the dough over the outlines for uniform-shaped pretzels every time.

The sheet is 16.5 inches x 11.6 inches.

While the first group of pretzels is cooling down, put the next batch in…and count the moments until you can bite into a warm pretzel.

 

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Turn out uniform shapes. Photo courtesy Silpat.

 

  

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RECIPE: Homemade Soft Pretzels

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Bake a batch for National Pretzel Day. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

 

April 26th is National Pretzel Day. Bake a batch of delicious soft pretzels and serve with grainy mustard and beer.

This recipe is courtesy Williams-Sonoma. See more photos of the process.

Find more delicious recipes at WilliamsSonoma.com.
 
RECIPE: SOFT PRETZELS

Ingredients For 12 Large Pretzels

  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 3-1/4 cups (16 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (2-1/2 ounces) baking soda
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • Grainy mustard for serving (you can substitute Dijon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together in the bowl of a stand mixer the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    2. ADD the olive oil, flour and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

     

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F with the rack placed in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the parchment with oil. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 18 inches long. Position each rope positioned horizontally.

    4. BRING the 2 ends of the rope up and toward the center as if forming an oval. Cross one end over the other, and press each end into the bottom of the oval to create a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared pan.

    5. FILL a large, wide saucepan with 7 cups of water. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Gently drop 2 or 3 pretzels at a time into the boiling water (be careful not to overcrowd them). Boil for just under 1 minute, turning once with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return the boiled pretzels to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly, top side up.

    6. SPRINKLE the pretzels with coarse salt. Bake until beautifully browned, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Serve warm with big spoonfuls of grainy mustard.

     

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    BYOB and dig in! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     
    GRAINY MUSTARD & MUSTARD HISTORY

    The origins of mustard are lost to history, but it is a Northern Hemisphere plant, the seeds of which have been found in Stone Age settlements.

  • Egyptians tossed the seeds onto their food, and sent King Tut to the great beyond with a good supply in his tomb.
  • The Sumerians ground it into a paste and mixed it with verjus, the juice of unriped grapes.
  • Wealthy Greeks and Romans ground mustard seeds and mixed them with wine at the table.
  •  
    Cultivated for thousands of years, mustard was the primary spice known to Europeans before the advent of the Asian spice trade. Westerners had mustard long before pepper, which originated in India. Once trade routes were established, ancient people from India to Egypt to Rome chewed mustard seeds with their meat for seasoning.

    Our word mustard comes from the Middle English mustarde, meaning condiment; which in turn comes from the Old French mostarde. Mosto derives from the Latin mustum, the word for grape must, or young, unfermented wine, which was the liquid mixed with ground mustard seed by French monks who made the condiment. The monks’ word for mustard was mustum ardens, meaning burning wine.

    By the 1400s, mustard-making had spread through Europe; each region made its own style.

    One of the earliest versions was grainy mustard, a more casual name for what is known as old-style or old-fashioned mustard, and moutarde à l’ancienne in French.

    Grainy mustard is prepared from a base of mixed mustard seeds, verjus or white wine, spices and herbs. The ingredients are ground coarsely in order to leave the seeds whole.

    Grainy mustard has a dark color and a slightly milder flavor than other mustards. It has a slightly sweet taste, making it a good accompaniment for rustic foods like sausages or country-style pates and cornichons. It can be mixed with melted garlic butter and fresh thyme to create a sauce to drizzle over fish, and many other creative preparations.

    Here’s more on the history of mustard and the different types of mustard.

     
    *Today, white wine and verjus are used to make some mustard varieties; vinegars are used to make most others.

      

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    CINCO DE MAYO: Chocolate Churros Recipe

    Add cocoa powder to make chocolate churros. Photo courtesy MommieCooks.com.

     

    A churro is a fried-dough pastry snack, typically made from choux pastry (pâte à choux). While churros are most often found on the dessert menus at Mexican restaurants, served with chocolate dipping sauce, their origin may be far away from Mexico.

    One theory says that churros were brought to Europe from Ming Dynasty China by the Portuguese. Another theory is that churros were created by Spanish shepherds, easy to make and fry over an open fire in the mountains.

    Beyond Mexico and the rest of Latin America, they are popular in France, the Philippines, Portugal, the Southwestern United States and Spain. Depending on region, they can be longer and thinner or shorter and thicker.

    Ed Engoron, co-founder of Choclatique gourmet chocolates and author of Choclatique: Simply Elegant Desserts, sent us his recipe for chocolate churros.

    “This is my favorite Mexican fast food dessert and it’s perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration,” says Ed. “They are a common street food and can also be found at fairs and carnivals in both America and Mexico.

     
    “In recent years many vendors have resorted to frozen churros, choosing to just fry them off. I think my freshly made version presented here is far better than frozen. I made them even more delectable with the addition of Choclatique Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder to give it a light chocolate flavor (and Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate for the drizzle).

    “Fried chocolate-how bad could it be?”

    Prep time is 10 minutes, fry time is 30 minutes.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE CHURROS

    Ingredients For 24 Churros

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup margarine (not butter)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. STIR together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 360°F in a heavy deep skillet or deep-fryer (use a kitchen thermometer). The oil should be at least 1-1/2 inches deep. While the oil is heating…

    3. HEAT the water and margarine to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour/cocoa mixture. Reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs one at a time.

    4. SPOON the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Carefully squeeze out 4-inch long strips of dough directly into the hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from hot oil to drain on paper towels. Roll each of the churros in the cinnamon-sugar mixture while still hot.

     

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    Chop a quality chocolate bar to make the chocolate sauce. Photo courtesy Nothin But Foods.

     
    *Note that if the oil isn’t hot enough, the churros will be greasy. If the oil is hotter than 460°, they will not get fully cooked on the inside. So be sure to use a thermometer!
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE

    Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white vegetable shortening
  • Optional garnish: fresh seasonal berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate and shortening in a small resealable freezer bag. Microwave on HIGH for about 30 seconds until chocolate is melted. Massage the chocolate and shortening together in the bag.

    2. SNIP off corner and drizzle over the fried churros in cinnamon-sugar.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Miso Paste

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    White miso paste, also called mild or sweet
    miso. Photo courtesy CrumbsAndTales.com.
    Try their recipe for carrot, miso and ginger
    salad dressing.

     

    Almost everyone who has been to a Japanese restaurant has had miso soup. But today’s tip includes other things to do with miso (MEE-zoe).

    Thanks to the popularity of miso, you can find at least one type of miso paste in many supermarkets and all natural foods stores (Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, for example).

    Miso is a paste made from soybeans and grains (typically barley or rice), koji (a fungus that serves as a fermenting agent) and sea salt. It can ferment from a short time (for mild homemade miso) to three years (for red miso). The result has the consistency of hummus.

    The fermentation produces an enzyme-rich, living food that contains many beneficial microorganisms. However, it also has a relatively high salt content.

    Miso should be refrigerated and added to cooked foods just before they are removed from the heat.

     

    TYPES OF MISO PASTE

    Different types of miso paste are available in Japanese markets (like Sunrise Mart in New York City). Natural food stores typically carry the three most common.

    The deeper the color, the higher the percentage of soybeans and the stronger the flavor.

  • White miso paste, shiromiso, is the most common form. It has just a small amount of soybeans; the majority ingredient is riceor barley. White miso is also called mild miso and sweet miso, and is used mostly in salad dressings and marinades. It is also incorporated into Japanese and vegan desserts.
  • Yellow miso paste is stronger than white miso. It is a combination of barley and rice, and the most versatile of the varieties, used for glazes, marinades and soups.
  • Red miso paste is the strongest, fermented the longest to a deep red or deep brown color, made from mostly soybeans. The more percentage of soybeans, the longer the fermentation and the deeper the color. It is used to add heartier flavors to vegetables asparagus, eggplant and kale; dips, sauces and spreads.
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    WAYS TO USE MISO PASTE

    In Japan, miso soup is a culinary staple, whisked into dashi (stock) and enjoyed at any meal, starting with breakfast. It is also used to give an earthier flavor to noodle soups, such as ramen and udon.

    It is also used as a condiment/seasoning:

  • Braising meats, seafood (try miso-braised cod) and vegetables (try eggplant and mushrooms)
  • Compound butter: East meets West (how to make compound butter)
  • Dips and spreads: season with spices and use with crudités and rice crackers
  • Dressing: whisked into a dressing for salads and cooked vegetables
  • Grilling, as an overnight marinade and a glaze (coat corn on the cob, wrap in foil and grill)
  • Pickling, for a sweeter variety of vegetables pickles
  • Sauces: misoyaki is a variant of teriyaki
  •  

    Americans have incorporated miso into Western cuisine, from gravy to risotto and quich. For inspiration, pick up a book like The Miso Book: The Art of Cooking with Miso. It not only has many recipes, but shows you how to make your own miso paste from scratch.

    Start by making miso soup and salad dressing with the recipes below.

    RECIPE: EASY MISO DRESSING

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil (peanut, vegetable)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons white miso
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey or 1/4 teaspoon agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  •  

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    A familiar bowl of miso soup. Photo courtesy Sushi Lounge | NJ.

  • Optional additions: chili flakes/sriracha, grated fresh ginger, peanut butter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Taste and add more honey or vinegar as you prefer.

    2. STORE leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

     
    RECIPE: EASY MISO SOUP

    Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dashi granules*
  • 1/4 cup red miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried seaweed, reconstituted in water and drained
  • 1/2 cup cubed tofu
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the instant dashi; whisk to dissolve. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the tofu and seaweed. Simmer for 2 minutes. While the soup simmers…

    2. SPOON the miso paste into a bowl. Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot dashi broth into the bowl and whisk until the miso paste melts and is the mixture smooth.

    3. TURN off the heat and add the miso paste to the pot. Stir well. Taste the soup and whisk in another 1-2 tablespoons of miso paste as desired. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.

     
    *This is the easy version; the soup will be ready in 10 minutes. When you have time, try a recipe that uses homemade dashi stock, made from fish and kelp. For quick recipes, dashi is also available in a bouillon cube format.

      

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