THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for 2017

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Better Bean’s Yummy, Ready To Eat Beans

The Better Bean Company makes a terrific product that should take off nationwide. We hope it will be the next big thing in delicious, nutrient-dense food for all meals of the day.

We hope you’ll try it. You can even get your first tub free (see below).

A NEW WAY TO BUY BEANS

The company is first to market a line of all-natural, refrigerated, ready-to-eat beans.

The beans are $3.99 for a 14-ounce plastic tub that is BPA-free, freezable, microwavable and reusable. The beans are solidly packed into the tubs: There’s no packing liquid or no air pockets taking up space; nothing to drain, no can opener required.

Just pop the top off the tub and dig in, or heat them as you prefer. Add them to recipes, use them as garnishes.

Prepared from scratch with freshly-harvested beans, the line is cooked in a gluten-free facility, and is non-GMO certified, vegan certified, nut free and soy free.

Bonus: The line has one-third the sodium of regular canned beans.

WHY THEY’RE EASIER TO DIGEST

Another bonus: Better Bean is easy on the digestive system. The company:

  • Uses freshly harvested beans, avoiding the challenges of digesting older beans (dried beans keep for years, and when you purchase them, you have no idea how old they are).
  • Soaks and re-rinses the beans, which eliminates gas-causing* compounds and activates enzymes that make it easier to digest all the nutrients. Dried beans must be soaked overnight before cooking, but you need to change the soaking water every few hours to removes the oligosaccharides* that cause flatulence.
  • Adds ingredients that help ease bean digestion. Onions, garlic and cumin help with this process, but the star ingredient is apple cider vinegar, which breaks down indigestible oligosaccharides.
  • ____________________
    *Oligosaccharides, a category of sugars in beans, cannot be digested by the stomach or small intestine. They get passed on to the large intestine where bacteria begin to break them down. During the process, the bacteria release several different types of gases, mainly hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
     
    MEET THE BETTER BEANS

    They are excellent on their own as a protein-packed side or snack; or can be added to dishes and recipes for every meal of the day.

    The Better Bean line currently has eight varieties: half with mild seasonings, half with medium spiciness.

    While the beans are cooked with garlic, onion and herbs, you can add fresh herbs, chopped scallions, more heat or other seasonings as you desire.

    Take your pick:

  • Better Baked Beans: mild; for sides—they’re in a tangy tomato sauce with a bit of maple syrup.
  • Cuban Black Beans: mild; for quesadillas, rice and beans, sides and soups.
  •    

    Better Bean Uncanny Refried Beans
    [1] You can do so much with eight different varieties.

    Better Bean Roasted Chipotle Red Beans
    [2] Half the varieties are mild, half are medium-spicy.

    Black Bean Breakfast Burrito

    [3] An easy way to add protein to avocado toast. (all photos courtesy Better Bean).

  • Roasted Chipotle Red Beans: medium; for burrito bowls, nachos and tacos.
  • Skillet Refried Red Beans: mild; for bowls, burritos, quesadillas and tacos.
  • Southwestern Pinto Beans: for burritos, soups, sides and stir-fries.
  • Tuscan White Beans: mild; for bowls, curries, pastas and spreads.
  • Uncanny Refried Black Beans: for bowls, dips, quesadillas and tacos.
  • Three Sisters Chili: mild; a complete heat and eat meal or snack.
  •  
    Any variety can be served hot or cold.

     

    Avocado Toast With Black Beans
    [4] Add protein to avocado toast (photo courtesy Better Bean).

    Mushroom & Bean Hors d'Oeuvre

    [5] Get creative: Instead of stuffing mushrooms with empty-carb breadcrumbs, stuff them with beans (photo courtesy Gather The Table).

     

    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY BETTER BEANS

    Beans are nutrient-dense and provide your body with essential nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and one of the most affordable sources of protein.

    In addition to the bowls, dips and Tex-Mex (enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas, rice and beans, tacos) recommended on the packages, try them:
     
    At Breakfast

  • Atop a savory waffle, with or without the bacon and eggs.
  • On any type of burger.
  • On toast, with or without avocado.
  • With breakfast eggs.
  •  
    At Lunch

  • As a soup garnish (a small mound in the middle of the bowl).
  • In an avocado half.
  • In any wrap sandwich.
  • In lettuce cups and layered salads.
  • On a grilled vegetable sandwich.
  •  
    At Dinner

  • As healthy vegan hors d’oeuvre (for example, top a rice cracker with beans, spices and a raw vegetable garnish).
  • As sides.
  • In casseroles.
  • In stir-fries.
  • With pizza: top the crust topped with beans, then mozzarella and toppings.
  •  
    For Snacks

  • As a protein pick-me-up at home or work.
  • As a spread with crackers.
  • Paired with guacamole and corn chips.
  • With crudités.
  •  
    GET YOUR FREE SAMPLE

    Try the the tub of your choice free. Just download the website coupon.

    Better Bean is carried by Whole Foods stores nationwide, Amazon Fresh and other retailers. Here’s the locator for retail store and e-tail websites.

    Head to BetterBeanCo.com for more on this very welcome line.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF BEANS

    Beans are one of the oldest-cultivated plants, an important source of protein. Cultivated bean fossils found in Thailand date to the early 7000 BCE.

    Cultivation came later in the west: Wild beans that had been initially gathered in Afghanistan and the Himalayan foothills were cultivated by 2000 B.E.E. in the the Aegean, Iberia and transalpine Europe (modern Belgium, France, parts of Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland).

    The oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas date to the same time [source]. In fact, most species in the bean genus Phaseolus originated in the Americas, and were grown from Chile to the northern United States.

    In the New World, indigenous peoples grew beans together with maize and squash. The beans would be planted around the base of the developing corn stalks, and would wind their way up, with the stalks serving as a trellis. The beans, in turn, provide essential nitrogen for the corn.

    Bean trivia: Beans are a heliotropic plant, meaning that the leaves tilt throughout the day to face the sun. At night, they fold into a “sleep” position.
     
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEANS

    Check out the different types of beans in our Beans & Grains Glossary.
     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: If You Buy, Buy Healthy (i.e., Buy This, Not That)

    Healthy Appetizer Platter

    Tempting, delicious, good for you (photo courtesy Botanica | LA).

     

    Over the recent Memorial Day weekend, we popped into a friend’s party.

    There was plenty to drink, and in an hour, salmon and steaks would start to sizzle.

    But the nibbles available prior to then were strictly “fraternity party”: cheese corn, potato chips, pretzels, tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream onion dip.

    As we surveyed the table, trying to choose, the host read our mind and apologized: “Sorry, I had to race in and out of the supermarket.”

    That’s perfectly understandable, and thanks for inviting us.

    But next time, grab this, not that. Your guests will like the foods just as much, and will feel better for it—literally and figuratively.

    BETTER “CHIPS & DIPS”

  • Crudités
  • Rice crackers (they’re gluten-free)
  • Vegetable Chips
  • Whole wheat pretzels (we prefer them!)
  • Served With

  • Bean dip
  • Hummus
  • Pesto
  • Salsa
  •  
    COOKED OR BRINED VEGETABLES

  • Artisan pickles: dill spears, dilly beans
  • Beets, plain or pickled
  • Olives
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Whatever vegetable(s) looks good
  •  
    Grab some fresh herbs on the way to the cash register, and scatter them on plates, trays, etc.

    And please do invite us. If we have to use any examples in THE NIBBLE, no identifying characteristics will be revealed.
     
      

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    RECIPES: Frozen Chocolate Cheesecake & Stout Pops, Chocolate Stout Float & The History Of Stout

    Here are two fun, warm-day dessert recipes for the beer crowd, using stout. The history of stout is below, but let’s hop right to the recipes.

    Any stout pairs deliciously with anything chocolate. And chocolate stout (photo #1) pairs even better.

    RECIPE #1: FROZEN CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE STOUT POPS

    We are the Will Rogers of cheesecake: We never met a cheesecake we didn’t like. We’ve never met an ice cream we didn’t like, as well.

    And we like alcohol (liqueur) in both our cheesecake and our ice cream.

    So when we chanced upon this recipe from Nugget Markets—a frozen chocolate cheesecake fudge pop with stout, photo #3—we knew we had to make them. There’s even a graham cracker “crust.”

    Prep time is 15 minutes plus overnight freezing.

    Ingredients For 5 Pops

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/3 cup Russian Imperial stout (we substituted chocolate stout)
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 6 graham crackers (3/4 cup crumbs [3 ounces])
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX the sugar, softened cream cheese, and sour cream in a blender on low speed, until completely combined. Stir in the milk and stout.

    2. MELT the dark chocolate chips over a double boiler on the stove top (or in the microwave at 30-second intervals) until completely melted. Pour the melted chocolate into blender mixture and mix until well combined.

    3. SLOWLY POUR the mixture into the pop molds, tapping molds as you fill to remove any air bubbles. Leave a 1/2-inch empty space on the top for the “crust.”

    4. SMASH the graham crackers until completely crumbled (we put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin). ADD the melted butter and stir until combined. Add on top of the chocolate mixture, spreading evenly. Insert the ice pop sticks and freeze overnight.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: COFFEE-CHOCOLATE STOUT FLOAT

    We published recipes using chocolate stout a few years back: a chocolate stout float a few years back; along with chocolate stout ice cream.

    When we saw a recipe with coffee stout from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (photo #3), we knew it was time to repeat the idea.

    In this recipe, the chocolate float is made with chocolate ice cream and coffee stout, but go for chocolate stout if you prefer.

    Or flip it: Have an all-coffee float with coffee stout and coffee ice cream.

    Here’s a chocolate stout cake recipe to go with it.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 8 ounces coffee stout
  • 1/2 pint chocolate ice cream
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Plus

  • A straw
  •  
    Preparation

       
    Rogue Chocolate Stout
    [1] Rogue Chocolate Stout is delicious in either of these recipes, plus this chocolate stout cream pie recipe from The Beeroness.

    Chocolate Cheesecake Pops
    [2] Have your cheesecake pops with a glass of stout on the side (photo and recipe from Nugget Markets).

    Coffee-Stout-Beer-Float-eatwischeese-230

    [3] The coffee stout float with chocolate ice cream. Here are step-by-step photos from Eat Wisconsin Cheese..

     
    1. PLACE two scoops of ice cream in a pint glass or other large glass.

    2. SLOWLY POUR the stout on top of ice cream to fill the glass. Serve with a straw

    Serve with a straw and a spoon.
     

     

    Glass Of Stout

    Guinness Pint Glass

    [4] and [5] Guinness, the world’s top-selling stout, is at the low end of ABV: just 5% (photos courtesy Guinness & Co.).

      THE HISTORY OF STOUT

    While man has been brewing beer since an client times, styles evolved over the millennia as different malts, yeasts, and hops became available. Stout is a relatively recent recipe.

    The first known use of the word “stout” for beer is in 1677. At that time, stout was a word for strong, and the document implied a strong beer, not a dark beer. Let’s skip ahead 50 years to porter, the basis of modern stout.

    Porter, which originated in London in the early 1720s. It was so-named because this strong beer—which was cheaper than other beers and increased in alcohol content with age—became popular with porters, among other Londoners.

    Within a few decades, porter breweries in London had multiplied many-fold. Large amounts were exported to Ireland, where by 1780 or so, ale brewer Arthur Guinness decided to brew his own porter (and ultimately created what would one day become the world’s most famous stout).

    The 19th century brought the development of black malt, the darkest of the common roasted malts. It gives beer a dark color and stronger flavor—a brew with a very different character than roasted barley-based beers. It became the standard malt for porter[source].

    At that point, “stout” still meant only “strong,” and the term could be related to any strong beer (stout pale ale, for example).

    But because of the huge popularity of porters, brewers made them in a variety of strengths. The beers with higher gravities were called stout porters.

    Stout became the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters. There is still debate on whether stouts should be designated a separate style from porter (as they are now), or simply be designated as stout [strong] porter.

     
    Like porter, stout is a dark beer made from roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8% ABV.

  • Porter is typically 4% to 5% ABV. Baltic porter, brewed in the Baltic Sea countries of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden, is brewed with a higher alcohol content.
  • Stout is typically 5% to 10% ABV. It’s important to note that some American craft brewers have been making even stronger stouts—up to 11.5% ABV.
  •  
    By comparison:

  • Lager is typically 4% to 5% ABV.
  • Pilsner, a popular style of lager, is typically 3% to 6% ABV.
  • Brown Ale is typically 4% to 6% ABV.
  • India Pale Ale is typically 6% to 7% ABV. [source]
  •  
    In addition to chocolate stout and coffee stout, check out the other types of stout, including cream stout, dry (Irish) stout (e.g., Guinness), milk stout and oatmeal stout.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Beer Crust Pizza

    Beer Crust Pizza

    Greek Salad Pizza

    You can make the pizza in any shape you like. [1] Oblong, flatbread-style from King Arthur Flour. [2] A traditional round pizza with Greek salad toppings, from Cooking Classy.

     

    Make Dad a pizza with beer or hard cider. It’s subtle flavor, and a fun idea.

    The type and quality of beer you use is very important. Mass-market beers will not give you the results that a good craft beer or imported German beer provide.

    Bonus: You can use leftover, flat beer.

    If you like a light crust, use an unfiltered wheat beer. The bottle contains yeast particles, which add to the rise and provide a yeasty taste to the crust. Before adding the bear, swirl the bottle to release the yeast from the bottom.

    Pilsners, IPAs and other hoppy beers can make the crust bitter. Porter and stout give a stronger flavor.

    Thanks to King Arthur Flour for the recipe.

    Prep time is 20 to 30 minutes; bake time is 18 to 48 minutes, depending on the rise.

    RECIPE: BEER CRUST PIZZA

    Ingredients For 2 Pizza Crusts

  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups semolina (substitute unbleached all-purpose flour)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon King Arthur Pizza Dough Flavor* or 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups room-temperature beer
  •  
    Plus Toppings As Desired

  • Sauce
  • Mozzarella and other cheeses
  • Meats, vegetables, herbs
  •  
    ________________

    *King Arthur Flour’s Pizza Dough Flavor is a blend of cheese powder, garlic and natural flavors. You can blend your own to taste. Use approximately 1-1/3 teaspoons per cup of flour, in any pizza crust recipe.

     
    Preparation

    1. MIX and knead together all of the dough ingredients until you’ve made a smooth, soft dough. You can use your hands, a mixer or a bread machine. Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 30 minutes, or for up to 2 hours.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F with the pizza stone on the lower rack. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a 10″ to 12″ round.

    3. PLACE the rounds on parchment paper, if you’re using a pizza stone. Otherwise, place the dough on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. For a thin to medium crust, bake the pizzas immediately. For thicker crust, let them rise 30 to 60 minutes.

    4. TRANSFER the pizzas, parchment and all, to the baking stone; or place the pans in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, top as desired, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until the bottom crust is crisp and the cheese is bubbly, browned and ready to eat

    TIPS

    To end up with mozzarella that’s gently melted (not browned and hardened):

  • Add the meat or vegetables after 5 minutes of baking time.
  • Add half the cheese after 15 minutes baking time (i.e., 10 minutes after the meat and veggies).
  • Bake for 3 minutes, add the remainder of the cheese, then bake for an additional 2 minutes, until the second addition of cheese is barely melted.
  •  
     
    THE HISTORY OF BEER
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEER

     
      

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    PRODUCTS: Favorite Gifts For Father’s Day

    Are you old enough to remember when a Father’s Day gift meant a new tie? Today, how many dads even wear a tie most days?

    Here are five items that most dads would much rather have.

    CASA NOBLE TEQUILA

    We discovered our favorite tequila last fall, when we had the privilege of tasting every expression. You can see our review, but the bottom line is: This tequila is so fine that even the blanco (silver) can be sipped straight.

    There are the five standard expressions: Blanco, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo.

    There are also rare, older expressions like Casa Noble’s Alta Belleza: Only 563 bottles were made for the world market, at $1,200 per bottle.

    But you can treat a tequila-loving dad to a bottle of this great tequila starting at less than $40 for the blanco.

    Our review includes a cheese pairing for the different expressions.

    Here’s the Casa Noble website.
     
     
    MAGNUM HIGHLAND CREAM LIQUEUR

    We’ve been fans of Irish cream liqueur since Bailey’s was first imported to the U.S. Now, Scotch drinkers have t heir own cream liqueur: Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur. A blending fine Speyside Scotch malt whisky with rich cream from Holland (the ancestral home of Holstein black and white dairy cows), we highly recommend it for gifting as well as personal imbibing.

    It’s 34 proof (17% alcohol by volume), with an SRP of $27.99 per 750ml bottle. If you can’t find it locally, CraftSpiritsExchange.com will ship it nationally.

    Try it in an adult milkshake, or make an egg cream with Magnum, chocolate liqueur and soda water.
     
     
    THE MOZZARELLA COMPANY: PECAN MASCARPONE TORTA

    Mascarpone is a rich, creamy cheese made by heating heavy cream and then curdling it with an vinegar instead of rennet. It’s a first cousin to clotted cream. The Mozzarella Company makes four mascarpone torta, the newest of which is flavored with crushed pecan pralines.

    It is a wonderful dessert served with ginger snaps and strawberries; or stuffed into dates or dried apricots. The torta can dessert for two people; maybe four if you’ll settle for a small wedge.

    Other flavors, for appetizers or the salad course, are ancho chile, basil and tomato basil. The tortas are $12.95 each from the Mozzarella Company.

    Mascarpone is the fresh cheese used in tiramisu. Here’s more about mascarpone.

       

    Casa Noble Tequila Blanco

    Magnum Cream Liqueur

    Pecan Praline Torta, Mozzarella Company

    [1] Casa Noble Tequila. [2] Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur. [3] Mozzarella Company’s Pecan Praline Torta (photos courtesy of their respective brands).

     

    Sansaire Sous Vide Machine

    Scrappy's Artisan Bitters

    [4] The Sansaire sous vide machine cooks in your own pot. [5] Scrappy’s artisan bitters for cocktails and mocktails (photos courtesy their respective brands).

     

    SANSAIRE SOUS VIDE

    You don’t have to be a gourmet cook to love sous vide cooking, an easy way to prepare everyday recipes as well as fancy ones. The sous vide technique was developed in France to easily cook fine meals on trains, many portions at a time. Sous vide guarantees, for example, that a steak or piece of fish will turn out exactly as the client wishes. The quality of the food it produced attracted fine French chefs and caterers.

    Sous vide machines quickly appeared in some of the world’s best restaurants. And now, you can have one at home.

    The benefit of Sansaire is that it cooks food in the pots you already have; it’s not a bulky countertop machine. Its in the $168 range. Here’s more information.
     
     
    SCRAPPY’S: COCKTAIL BITTERS SET

    Bitters can add interest to simple drinks like a vodka tonic or balance the sour and sweet flavors of sours and fizzes.

    They’re essential ingredients in cocktails such as the Manhattan, Negroni, Rob Roy, Rum Sizzle, Sazerac and Singapore Sling. But modern mixologists have been using new varieties of artisan cocktails to create new flavors in their drinks.

    Bitters are non-alcoholic essences extracted from aromatic barks, flowers, fruits, herbs and root. For most of their existence, they have been made for botanicals known for their medicinal properties (that long before alcohol was a leisure drink, it was used as medicine).

    With the boom in artisan bitters over the last 20 years, they are now being made in flavors that have no root in homeopathy, but give great flavor accents to cocktails:

    Aztec chocolate, black walnut, blood orange, cardamom, celery, cherry, chocolate, cranberry, cucumber, fig and cinnamon, grapefruit, habanero, lavender, lemon, mint, peach, rhubarb and others.

     
    Whether you’re making a dry Martini or a Cosmopolitan, a splash of bitters provides a note of sophistication.

    For mocktails, add them to club soda.

    And try the latest use for bitters: add them to coffee, hot and iced.

    The eight-flavor set shown, from Scrappy’s Bitters, is $38.99 for eight flavors.

    For a set of 12 flavors from Fee Brothers is $99.90.

    Individual bottles can be purchased in the $8-$13 range.

      

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