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Archive for 2016

TIP OF THE DAY: Black-Eyed Peas For The New Year

For prosperity in the new year, it’s a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day—most popularly in the beans-and-rice dish, Hoppin’ John. Other favorites are black-eyed peas and ham, the peas often combined with collards (photo #3).

The custom is actually a lot older than the U.S., and began in the Middle East.

An ancient Sephardic Jewish custom, black-eyed peas are served on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. This “good luck” tradition is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled circa 500 C.E., and includes other good luck foods such as beets, dates, leeks and spinach. The custom is still followed by Israeli Jews and Sephardic Jews the world over.

Other good-luck foods eaten at new years around the world include figs, fish, grains, grapes, greens, noodles, pork and pomegranate seeds. Here’s why.

Like hummus? Try this black-eyed pea dip as an alternative.

If you prefer, here’s a recipe for black-eyed pea salsa.

RECIPE: BLACK-EYED PEA DIP & SPREAD

Even if this recipe (photo #1), from Melissa’s, doesn’t give you prosperity, it does provide nutrition.

Beans are a nutritional powerhouse as well as a very economical source of protein. Make a resolution to add beans to your diet at least once a week; the more often, the better.

In addition to dip and sandwich spread, a hot bean side dish and bean soup, try a cold bean salad vinaigrette or mix beans into a green salad or grain bowl.

There are even bean desserts. The you may have encountered chocolate cookies and brownies enriched with black beans, or Japanese red bean ice cream and dessert sauces (they’re azuki beans, sometimes mis-translated as adzuki beans).Take a look at these bean dessert recipes.
 
Ingredients

  • 12 ounces black-eyed peas cooked according to package directions (20 minutes in a pressure cooker)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (garlic mayonnaise—aïoli—is delicious [recipe])
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • Optional: 1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed
  • Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • Bread or crackers for spreading, crudités for dipping
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients, except for the crackers, in a food processor or blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

    2. SERVE with bread, crackers or crudités. We also use it as a sandwich spread with grilled vegetables and mozzarella.
     
     
    ARE BLACKEYED PEAS PEAS OR BEANS?

    They’re beas, beige in in color with a black “eye” on one side.

     

    Blackeyed Pea Dip Recipe

    Blackeyed Peas In Bowl

    Blackeyed Peas, Collards, Ham

    [1] Black-eyed pea dip from Melissa’s. [2] The source material: black-eyed peas (photo Viktor Lugovskoy| IST ). [3] Blackeyed peas and collards with ham (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     
    Black-eyed peas are also called black-eyed beans, because they are a subspecies of the cowpea, which is called a pea but botanical a bean, as are chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans.

    The are variously spelled black-eyed, black eye or blackeye[d].
     
    The Difference Between Peas & Beans

    Peas and beans are both legumes and seeds, each a separate genus in the Fabaceae botanical family. Some key differences:

  • Pea plants (genus/species Pisum sativum) have hollow stems; beans (genus/species Cicer arietinum) have solid stems.
  • Peas have leaf tendrils which they use to twine. In general, beans lack tendrils.
  • The taller varieties of both peas and beans need trellises to support them as they grow. Most beans just twine themselves over their supports, while peas use their tendrils to climb. At each node along their stems, peas generate two or three one-inch-long tendrils, which grab and then wind themselves around something, such as a narrow trellis.
  •  
    If you’re still curious, here’s more on the differences.

     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEANS

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Champagne Gelatin (Not Jell-O) Shots

    Champagne Jell-O Shots

    Champagne Jell-O Shots Recipe

    Champagne Gelatin Shots

    [1] Erica’s Sweet Tooth found fancy picks to decorate her champagne gelatin shots. We could only find these at Ali Express, but we did find others with jewel-like accents and these with faux pearls. Plus, instructions to make your own. [2] Coucou Jolie used a star-shape ice cube mold to make stars. You can stir edible gold glitter stars into the mix before setting, or put them in the mold first, so they’ll create a garnish on top. [3] Got Pop Rocks? They do at Shimmy Shimmy Cake, a custom cakery in Austin, Texas.

     

    For conventional champagne to celebrate a special occasion, check out our recommendations.

    For less expensive but perfectly lovely non-champagne sparkling wines, we like these alternatives—great values, starting at just $10!

    But for a side of champagne gelatin shots, check out the recipes below.

    Point of accuracy: When a recipe is made with unflavored gelatin, not flavored Jell-O, it’s a gelatin shot. Jell-O is a brand that makes only flavored gelatin.

    You can make a red version of the gelatin shots with Lambrusco or other red sparkling wine, and present a platter of both red and white options.

    And you cab make a mocktail version by substituting sparkling cider.
     
    RECIPE #1: CHAMPAGNE JELL-O SHOTS

    Erica of EricasSweetTooth.com adapted the first recipe from Bakers Royale.

    Also check out her Funfetti Cheesecake Ball: It was designed to resemble the Times Square Ball.

    Ingredients For 15 Shots

  • 10 ounces plus 5 ounces Champagne (or better yet, Cava, Prosecco or other reasonably-priced sparkling white wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 envelopes Knox plain gelatin
  • Optional garnish: white or other color sparkling sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the sugar and 10 ounces of the champagne in a saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin on top and let it soften for 2 minutes.

    2. PLACE the saucepan over low heat and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the remaining 5 ounces of champagne, stirring to combine.

    3. POUR the mixture into a brownie pan or other square/rectangular container and chill for at least an hour.

    4. CUT: First dip the pan into warm water and use a knife along the sides to gently release the Jell-O. Use a sharp knife to cut squares. Before serving, dip the tops in the sparkling sugar and serve with a festive toothpick.
     
    RECIPE #2: CHAMPAGNE GELATIN SHOTS WITH POP ROCKS

    Shimmy Shimmy Cake offers this variation, topped with Pop Rocks for some holiday “fireworks.”

    Regarding the Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, she says: “This is the absolute best vodka to use when making Jello Shots—just trust me on this one!”

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creme soda
  • 1/2 cup sparkling wine
  • 2 envelops of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the soda and sparkling wine in a small sauce pan and stir. Sprinkle the gelatin over the mixture and let it sit for 1 minute.

    2. COOK the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin disolves (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir inthe vodka.

    3. POUR into a square baking dish (a cake pan is fine). Refrigerate until firmly set set (you can speed up the process by putting the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes). When ready to serve…

    4. CUT and plate, then top with Pop Rocks. Do not plate until ready to because as the Pop Rocks start to melt the gelatin. Also do not refreeze after plating; they will stick to the plate.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Blooming Marshmallows For Your Hot Chocolate

    First there was blooming tea: a specially tied bundle of tea leaves and flower petals that opens into a flower when placed in hot water.

    Now, there’s the blooming marshmallow, from innovative pastry chef Dominique Ansel.

    Blossoming Hot Chocolate—more accurately, blossoming marshmallow—is a thin marshmallow, cut like a flower, and bunched up to resemble a closed flower bud. Some dabs of white chocolate keep the bud closed.

    When placed in a cup of hot chocolate, the chocolate melts and the bud expands into the flower.

    Check out the videos from Ansel, then the fan recipes (we like the poinsettia the best), in the videos below.

    Make plain versions (all white or tinted pink marshmallow) before you try more elaborate colorations.

    TIP: Ansel added a small chocolate truffle to the center of the flower. The flower itself is anchored in chocolate. We think that’s a lot of chocolate!

    Instead, we’d use a small pecan cookie ball (a pecan sandy), a ball of cookie dough, a piece of caramel hand-rolled into a ball, or a small hard candy ball (as in the photo at right).

     

    Blooming Marshmallows

    Drop the “bud” into hot chocolate and watch the “flower” open (photo courtesy Dominique Ansel).

     

    WATCH THE MARSHMALLOW “BLOOM”

    THE RECIPE

    PIPE BEAUTIFUL SNOWFLAKE MARSHMALLOWS

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate With A Bacon Bar + 21 More Food Bars

    Bacon Bloody Mary

    Bourbon Bacon

    Pancetta

    Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

    [1] Start with a bacon Bloody Mary (photo and a recipe courtesy Bacon Bourbon USA). [2] Bourbon bacon with bacon-cheddar biscuits and bacon jam (photo courtesy Smithfield). You can serve the different types of bacon on a plate or in a jar or glass. [3] You can include European styles of bacon, like pancetta. Check out the different types of bacon (photo courtesy Fra Mani).[4] Bacon-cheddar biscuits (photo courtesy Food Network).

     

    For entertaining, we like DIY food bars. Guests help themselves, and you only need to get involved when a plate or bowl needs to be refilled.

    Cocktails, Hors D’Oeuvre & Appetizers

  • Antipasto Bar
  • Apple Cider Party Bar
  • Bloody Mary Bar
  • Bruschetta Bar
  • Flavored Shots Party Bar
  • Gazpacho Bar
  • Guacamole Bar
  • Shandy Bar
  • Stuffed Avocado Bar
  •  
    Main Meals

  • Breakfast Or Brunch Bar
  • Coconut Bowl Bar
  • Lunch Or Dinner Bar
  • Tapas Bar
  • Temaki Bar (Sushi Hand Rolls)
  •  
    Desserts & Snacks

  • Assorted Desserts Bar
  • Brownie Bar
  • Frozen Yogurt Bar
  • Ice Cream Bar
  • Pudding Party Bar
  • S’mores Bar
  • Popcorn Bar
  •  
    Today, inspired by Smithfield, we’re adding to the list with a bacon bar.

    Whether for a casual New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, you can create a memorable experience for bacon lovers.

    RECIPE #1: BACON BLOODY MARY

    The easiest route to a Bacon Bloody Mary is to garnish a regular Bloody Mary with a strip of bacon. (You can do this with any savory cocktail, from bourbon on the rocks to a Martini.)

    Or, you could go whole hog with bacon vodka, bacon Bloody Bary mix and a bacon salt rim, as they do at Bacon Bourbon USA.

    We also have recipe for a BLT Bloody Mary, courtesy of the Hotel Jerome in Aspen.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: CARAMELIZED BOURBON BACON

    You can serve plain bacon, and showcase the difference between applewood- and hickory-smoked varieties.

    You can also enhance bacon with herbs, spices and sweeteners, not to mention chocolate. The next two recipes are from Smithfield.

    Smithfield even has ready-to-print labels to distinguish what you’re serving.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 2 sixteen-ounce packages thick-cut bacon
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper. Remove the bacon from the package and space evenly on the pan, without overlapping slices.

    2. PLACE the pans in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, rotating them halfway through. While the bacon is cooking, combine the honey, bourbon and maple syrup.

    3. REMOVE the pans from the oven and carefully drain off the grease (you may wish to reserve it in a jar for cooking greens, eggs, etc.).

    4. BRUSH the bacon with the bourbon/maple syrup/honey mixture. Return the pans to the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes. Let the bacon cool slightly and then serve immediately.
     

     
    RECIPE #3: SEA SALT CARMEL BACON OR SALTED CHOCOLATE BACON

    Like chocolate-covered bacon, this recipe from Smithfield qualifies as dessert!

    You can substitute chocolate sauce to make a chocolate bacon variation.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons caramel topping (or chocolate topping)
  • 2 twelve-ounce packages thick-cut bacon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking pans with nonstick foil. Remove bacon from package and space evenly without overlapping slices.

    2. PLACE the pans in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway and continue baking until crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven. Using tongs, place the strips on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Let cool slightly.

    3. HEAT the caramel in the microwave for 10 seconds. Drizzle the bacon with the caramel and sprinkle with sea salt. Return to the oven and bake 2 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes. Using tongs, remove to cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
     
     
    RECIPE #4: BACON-CHEDDAR BISCUITS

    Ingredients For 12 Biscuits

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (scallions)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (we substituted gruyère, which we prefer)
  • 1/2 cup diced cooked standard-sliced bacon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, toss together the cheese, green onions and bacon with 1 tablespoon of flour. Set aside.

    2. WHISK together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut in the butter. Add the milk, stirring in just enough to bring the ingredients together and make a soft dough. Gently fold in the cheese mixture.

    3. TURN the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute. Pat or roll out the dough to a thickness of ½ or ¾ inch. Cut into rounds with a 2 ½ inch round biscuit cutter.

    4. PLACE the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on top. Ideally serve warm, although they’re delicious at room temperature, too.
     
     
    RECIPE #5: CHERRY BACON JAM WITH THYME & CLOVES

    This sweet-and-savory jam from Smithfield is delicious on biscuits, and also scores as a condiment on sandwiches, with eggs, and with grilled meats, poultry and fish/seafood.

    Ingredients For 9 Servings

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 large onions, finely diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1.5 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds thick-cut bacon
  • 3 jars (10 ounces each) cherry preserves
  • 1.5 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the bacon in large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat until just crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels until cooled.

    2. DRAIN all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan. Increase the heat to medium and cook the onions for 8-10 minutes or until soft and translucent.

    3. ADD the preserves and sugar to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot and the sugar has dissolved. Add in the vinegar, cloves, salt and pepper and cook for 8-10 minutes or until thickened and syrupy, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile finely chop bacon while jam is reducing. Add bacon and thyme to pan and stir to combine, cooking until to your desired consistency. Let the jam cool. You can store in airtight jars for up to two weeks.

    TIP: For a smoother, less chunky jam, pulse the cooled bacon jam in a food processor until it is the desired smoothness.
     
     
    RECIPE #6: BACON APPLE PIE

    This pie crust top from Smithfield may be the best-tasting lattice ever.

    Ingredients

  • 8 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 3-1/2 pints sliced cooking apples (such as Granny Smith,
    Rome or Gala)
  • 1.5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 9-inch single pie crust
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Bacon Apple Pie

    Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Bacon Ice Cream

    Bacon Clothesline

    [5] Bacon apple pie (photo courtesy Smithfield). [6] Bacon chocolate chip cookies from David Venable | QVC. Here’s the recipe. [7] Maple bacon bourbon ice cream. Here’s the recipe from from Cherry Tea Cakes. [8] And then there’s the Bacon Clothesline (photo courtesy David Burke | Fabrick Restaurant).

     
    1. HEAT the oven to 425°F. Place the pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate and crimp the edges.

    2. TOSS together the apples and orange juice in a large bowl. Add the cranberries, walnuts and fresh ginger and mix well.

    3. STIR together the flour, ½ cup brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl. Add to the apples and toss until the slices are evenly coated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust.

    4. WEAVE the bacon slices together over top of pie, leaving 1-inch spaces between the slices (4 slices by 4 slices); tuck the ends of the strips under the apples as needed. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar over the top of the bacon slices.

    5. BAKE the pie in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for approximately 50 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crisp. Cover the edges of the crust with foil if it starts to get too dark.

    6. LET the pie stand for 15 minutes before slicing. This pie is best served warm because of the bacon. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

     
    HOW ABOUT BACON CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES?
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BACON.

      

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    HAPPY CHANUKAH ~ MERRY CHRISTMAS

    Bagel Tree Ornament

       
     
     
     
    Only 4 times in the last 100 years
    has Chanukah fallen on Christmas Eve.

    Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
    Now, Prancer and Vixen!
    On, Comet! On, Cupid!
    On, Donner and Blitzen!

    Say hello to Chanukah Harry!

     

     
      

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