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Archive for October 22, 2015

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Better For You Candy & Treats

Every time we dip into a bag of Bare Fruit Apple Chips, we wonder: Why isn’t everyone eating these?

So before Halloween, we’re recommending them as the better-for-you treat, for the people you love. Everyone else can get those miniature junk candies from the supermarket. (Sorry if we have maligned your favorite candy bars; but honestly, you hardly taste the chocolate for the sugar/corn syrup.)

Consisting simply of baked apple chips—no added sugar—these sweet, crisp chips satisfy the desire for sweetness an crunch. They’re fat-free, gluten free, fiber-filled.

The apple chips are made from non-GMO project verified Washington State apples. And they’re certified kosher by Earth Kosher, an organic and kosher certifier.

There are four flavors of all-natural apple chips, 90-100 calories per ounce (half cup serving), depending on the flavor.:

  • Fuji Red Apple Chips
  • Granny Smith Apple Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips
  • Simply Cinnamon Apple Chips
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    There’s also an organic line, including each of the flavors above plus a combination of all of them in one bag, Medley Apple Chips.

    There’s also an organic line, including each of the flavors above plus a combination of all of them in one bag, Medley Apple Chip
    This time of year we particularly like Simply Cinnamon Apple Chips, but will gladly eat whatever is closest. Who needs apple pie when you can have Bare Fruit Apple Chips?

    But you may think that Caramel Apple is better for Halloween. Plan ahead for stocking stuffers, and keep a supply in your glove compartment, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.

       

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    TOP PHOTO: It’s like apple pie in a crunchy chip. Phot6o courtesy Bare Fruit. BOTTOM PHOTO: Out of the bag. Photo courtesy Love With Food.

     
    You can get Bare Fruit products on Amazon.com or find them at retail via the company’s store locator. The “BUY” tab on the company website takes you to their Amazon store.

    They’re available in individual .53-ounce bags and in 1.69-ounce bags, three portions’ worth.
      
    NUTS FOR CRUNCHY COCONUT CHIPS

    After success with the apple chips, Bare Fruit came out with a divine line of coconut chips:

  • Chocolate Bliss Coconut Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Coconut Chips
  • Simply Toasted Coconut Chips
  • Sweet ‘n Heat Coconut Chips
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    Loved ‘em all, but Chocolate Bliss truly is.

    GO BANANAS
     
    Most recently, the company has introduced crunchy banana chips. We haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying them, but you can let us know how you like them:

  • Cinnamon Banana Chips
  • Cocoa Dusted Banana Chips
  • Simply Baked Banana Chips
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    HalfPops

    These crunchy popcorn nuggets are popped without oil. Photo courtesy Halfpops.

     

    HALFPOPS POPCORN NUGGETS

    If you grew up loving CornNuts, as we did, take note of the non-fried, gourmet version.

    Some people dig through the popcorn bowl to find those crunchy, half-popped kernels that taste even better than the fully popped corn. Smaller than a fully popped kernel, they’ve got the soft popped portion on the inside while the kernel remains crunchy on the outside.

    Halfpops is an entire bag of them. We like this fiber-filled half-popped popcorn even better than the conventional full-popped. It was love at first bite for us. These little nuggets are a go-to snack whenever we need something crunchy and salty.

    These are healthy, whole grain snacks. They’re all-natural, with zero sugar or preservatives. As a whole grain product, each bag contributes 3g fiber/serving. Halfpops are certified gluten-free and are also nut-free.

     

    Halfpops are currently available in four flavors:

  • Natural Butter & Sea Salt
  • Aged White Cheddar
  • Caramel & Sea Salt
  • Chipotle Barbeque
  • Each one-ounce serving contains 130 calories and 260 mg salt. And we love each flavor Don’t decide: Try them all!

    They’re certified kosher (dairy) by OU. Get yours at HalfPops.com. There’s also a retail store locator on the website.

      

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    HALLOWEEN: Barmbrack, An Irish Tradition

    Fruitcake lovers and tea cake lovers: It’s time for barmbrack, also known as barm brack, barnbrack or simply brack.

    Brack?

    The original barmbrack was a sweet yeast bread with raisins and sultanas. Barm is the term for the yeast filtered out of beer in the final stage of production, a cheaper yeast source than commercial yeast.

    In Ireland it is sometimes called bairín breac, Gaelic for “speckled loaf.” The speckling refers to the raisins and sultanas in the loaf. It is usually made in flattened rounds. The dough is sweet but not as rich as cake, so it can be enjoyed any time of the day. It is similar to Irish soda bread, minus the baking soda.

    In Ireland, barmbrack is often served with afternoon tea, toasted with butter. But barmbrack evolved into an Irish Halloween tradition.

    A FORTUNE-TELLING BREAD

    For Halloween, the traditional loaf was baked with talisman-like items inside. They formed a kind of fortune-telling game. Whoever received a slice with a talisman could interpret it thusly:

     

    Barmbrack

    Barmbrack, an Irish tradition for Halloween, reinterpreted. Photo courtesy Stasty.com.

  • The pea meant that the person would not marry that year.
  • The stick foretold an unhappy marriage or a continuously quarrelsome one.
  • The cloth indicated bad luck or penury.
  • The coin meant wealth or other good fortune.
  • The ring meant that the recipient would be wed within the year.
  • The thimble meant that the recipient would be permanently single.
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    To us, the talismans imply that this cake was meant for single people. An optional talisman included a medallion of the Virgin Mary, foretelling that the recipient would go into a religious order (priest or nun).

    Hmm: Do we want a bread or cake to predict our fortune? We think not. And as British baker Vicky of Stasty.com notes, “It kind of seems like a choking hazard now when I think about it!” (Commercially produced barmbracks for Halloween still include a toy ring.)

    Vicky has created her own take on bambrack, a denser speckled loaf, a fruit cake with the dried fruits steeped in tea and whiskey.

     

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    The original barmbrack loaf resembled Irish soda bread. This one is from Maplespice.com.

     

    “Even though I wasn’t a fan of this fruit cake as a kid, I loved when we had barmbrack at Halloween. The reason I liked the cake so much was because it contained hidden fortune-telling treasures. For kids this was all kinds of fun, but we never cared much for the actual cake. As an adult though, I’ve grown to love fruit cakes—but I don’t bother adding trinkets.”

    For this recipe, says Vicky, ”I went for a more adventurous selection of fruits than the traditional ones used in a barmbrack.

    “This cake contains a colorful mix of dried cherries, apricots, cranberries, blueberries, golden raisins and dates [you can also add dried figs]. It’s a really simple cake to make, and as it’s very moist, it keeps fresh for well over a week.

    “This barmbrack is best served with lots of salty butter and a nice, strong cup of tea on the side.”

    It’s her Halloween tradition. Make it one of yours. Here’s the recipe, trinkets optional. Well, maybe just the ring.

    As for the tea: How about a spiced tea like Constant Comment or chai?

     
    HALLOWEEN HISTORY

    Halloween has its origins in the festival of Samhain (sah-WEEN), celebrated at the end of the harvest by the ancient Celts of what is today Great Britain. (Pronunciation: It’s KELTS, not SELTS.)

    Samhain marked the end of the “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half.” The Halloween colors of orange and black represent the lighter side (fall harvest) and the darker side.

    The Celts believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased returned to cause havoc.

    To fool the spirits and ghosts that roamed the countryside, people began to wear masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human. To keep away spirits and ghosts on Samhain, they placed candles in their windows, using hollowed-out turnips and other vegetables as the holders. (Pumpkins, a New World fruit, took over when Irish immigrants discovered them in the U.S. in the 19th century.)

    Around 600 C.E., Christian missionaries replaced the pagan festival of Samhain with All Saints Day, also called All Hallows Even (even means evening), abbreviated as Hallow’een. The name Halloween is first found in 16th-century Scotland, evolving from All Hallows Eve.

    Afraid of Halloween? That’s called samhainophobia.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 25+ Uses For Bacon Fat, Bacon Grease, Drippings Or Whatever You Call It

    Our mom loved to cook bacon: She loved the aroma. She also had a great exhaust hood, a kitchen with pocket doors to prevent the aroma from escaping to the rest of the house, and a window and a back door to let in fresh air.

    She bought thick-cut bacon and cooked it slowly over medium-low heat in a stainless steel skillet big enough to hold the entire pound of strips without crowding. At a lower heat, all the fat renders (melts into liquid) while the bacon crisps. Once, we recall, she received a block of slab bacon in a gourmet gift basket, cut it in a small dice and cooked it the same way.

    Call it bacon fat, bacon grease or bacon drippings: She strained it and stored the fat in a jar in the fridge, where it turned a creamy beige. She used it for pie crusts, for cooking eggs and a number of the uses below. And she always advised us never to pour it down the drain, or it would congeal and clog.

    You can store bacon fat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month. Use it instead of butter or oil—or in combination with them—to add hints of bacon flavor to your recipes.

    Then, when you’re ready to cook, you can:

  • Grease the pan with bacon fat.
  • Drizzle bacon fat over the ingredients.
  • Toss ingredients with bacon fat instead of oil.
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    Bacon Cooking In Pan

    Cook the bacon, save the fat. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

  • Mix melted bacon fat into the recipe instead of melted butter or oil.
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    Before you comment on the consumption of bacon fat: Yes, we know that cardiologists don’t support the consumption of any component of bacon. But that doesn’t stop Americans from eating 18 pounds of pork bacon each, per year. [Source]

     

    Beer & Bacon Potato Salad

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    TOP PHOTO: Potato salad with bacon fat (recipe below). Photo courtesy Samuel Adams. BOTTOM PHOTO: See how Sandy of Fancy Food Fancy uses bacon fat in her pie crusts. Photo courtesy Fancy Food Fancy.

      BACON FAT AT BREAKFAST

  • Fry eggs, hash browns and pancakes.
  • Grease the cornbread pan.
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    BACON FAT AT LUNCH

  • Bacon barbecue sauce (recipe)
  • Bacon mayonnaise or aïoli (recipe)
  • Caramelized onion dip (recipe)
  • French fries
  • Fried rice (recipe)
  • Grilled cheese and panini (instead of butter to pan-fry the
    sandwich)
  • Loaf breads (grease the pan)
  • Salad with warm bacon vinaigrette (recipe)
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    BACON FAT AT DINNER

  • Baked potatoes: rub bacon fat instead of oil on the skins before baking.
  • Brussels sprouts and bacon (recipe)
  • Cocktails: bacon-infused bourbon or other spirit (recipe)
  • Pan-fried potatoes.
  • Potato pancakes, roasted potatoes
  • Sauté cabbage, greens, mushrooms, onions and other veggies.
  • Stir-frys
  • Wine and bacon pasta sauce (recipe)
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    BACON FAT IN DESSERTS & SWEETS

  • Bacon-bourbon ice cream (recipe)
  • Bacon brownies (recipe)
  • Bacon caramel corn (recipe)
  • Bacon caramels (recipe)
  • Bacon milkshake (recipe).
  • Cookies: in chocolate chip or other cookies, substitute bacon fat for half the butter
  • Gingersnaps (recipe)
  • Pie crust (recipe)
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    BEER & BACON POTATO SALAD

    People who love bacon may already have discovered German potato salad, also called Alsatian potato salad. It is typically mixed with a vinagrette and the grease from the cooked bacon, and served warm with grilled sausages. Here’s a recipe.

    This recipe is by chef Michele Ragussis for Samuel Adams.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 3 bottles Samuel Adams Boston Lager or equivalent
  • 3 pounds baby potatoes
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 package bacon
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • Half head celery, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely sliced
  • ¼ bunch dill
  • 16 ounces mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 3 dashes red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Bring the beer to a boil in a large pot. Add the potatoes and boil in beer for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and let cool. Set aside.

    2. BRING a large pot of water to boil, and hard boil the eggs for about 12 minutes. Let the eggs cool, then peel and chop.

    3. COOK the bacon in a large sheet pan until crispy; then dice. Set aside.

    4. MIX the diced red onion, scallions, celery, bacon, eggs and dill in a large bowl.

    5. Once potatoes are cool, add to bowl of ingredients and smash together so they are half mashed.

    6. ADD all wet ingredients, salt and pepper and mix well. Add about a tablespoon of the bacon grease for flavor.

      

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