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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
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Archive for Christmas

CHRISTMAS: Gift Vs. Present

Did you get gifts or presents for Christmas? Is there a difference?

Here’s the scoop, from Dictionary.com.

Language is not a linear: Words come into every language from a variety of sources, over many centuries. And their meanings change nor expand over time. Think of “decadent,” now used for “self-indulgent,” instead of its traditional meaning of being in a state of decline or decay.

GIFT

The word “gift” had multiple meanings before arriving at its current common meaning: something given voluntarily without being earned, to show favor, honor an occasion, or provide assistance.

  • In Old English, its most dominant meaning was “payment for a wife,” or a dowry. The word derived from the Sanskrit gabhasti meaning “hand or forearm.”
  • What was a payment bestowed along with a woman’s hand in marriage evolved into the specific act of putting something of value in someone else’s hands. Around the 1300s, the word “gift” began to assume a more general meaning of an object freely given to another person.
  •  

    MarjorieManicke-sxc

    Is it a gift or a present? Photo by Marjorie Manicke | SXC.

     

    PRESENT

    The noun “present” as a synonym for gift came onto the English language from Old Norman (Old French). Like the adjective “present,” it originally meant “being present” and was used in the phrase mettre en present, “to offer in the presence of.”

    By the early 1300s, the word became synonymous with the thing being offered. Another meaning of “present,” in sense of “the present time,” did not enter common use until the 1500s.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Gingerbread Waffles

    gingerbread-waffles-blueberries-driscolls-230

    Gingerbread waffles for Christmas! Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Here’s a nice surprise for the long Christmas weekend: gingerbread waffles. Prep time is just 15 minutes, plus 15 minutes to cook.

    Imported fresh blueberries are pricey in the winter, so feel free to use frozen berries or other, more affordable berries.

    To make pancakes instead of waffles, follow the recipe below and reduce the milk to 1/4 cup.

    RECIPE: GINGERBREAD WAFFLES WITH BLUEBERRY-
    ORANGE SAUCE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

    For The Waffles

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 package (6 ounces) blueberries
  •  

    For The Blueberry-Orange Sauce

  • 1 package (6 ounces) blueberries
  • 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the sauce: Combine the blueberries, juice, sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat or keep warm until ready to serve. If you use a small (1-quart size) saucepan, the sauce will thicken without overcooking.

    2. STIR together the flour, sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a medium bowl until combined. Whisk in eggs, milk and butter until smooth. Stir in the blueberries.

    3. POUR one cup batter onto the center of a greased, heated waffle maker. Bake about 5 minutes or until the steaming stops. Remove carefully. Serve waffles hot from the iron, or keep them warm by placing on a rack over a baking sheet in a 200°F oven while preparing the remaining waffles.

    4. SERVE with warm blueberry-orange sauce.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Chocolate Drizzle Popcorn

    chocolate-drizzle-popcorn-cretors-230

    Enjoy some at home, box some up as a gift. Photo courtesy G.H. Cretors.

     

    If you’re looking for something to bring to a Christmas Eve celebration—or to serve at home—here’s one you can make in 15 minutes. The recipe is from G.H. Cretors Popcorn, whose bags of popped corn were a NIBBLE favorite (here’s our review).

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY POPCORN BARK

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 1 pound 70% (bittersweet) dark chocolate
  • 4 cups popped salted popcorn
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/4 cup toffee bits
  • Optional garnish: 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. LINE a 9×13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper so that it overhangs the edges.

    2. BREAK up the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted, then remove from the heat.

    3. RESERVE a 1/2 cup of melted chocolate for drizzling. Pour the remaining chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly. Top evenly with the popcorn, dried cranberries and toffee bits. Drizzle the reserved chocolate on top. Sprinkle the optional sea salt over the chocolate drizzle.

     

    4. REFRIGERATE for 1 hour or until the chocolate is set. Remove from the pan and peel off the parchment paper. Break into pieces. You can store the popcorn in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

     
    ABOUT G.H. CRETOR’S POPCORN

    Charles Cretors invented the modern popcorn popper in 1885. Previously, popcorn was popped on stove tops in large copper kettles. Cretors developed a raised steam-powered popper that popped the kernels at the top of a large glass bin and spilled the fresh popcorn into the bin, where it could be scooped into bags (the system is still used in today’s movie theaters and elsewhere).

    More recently, the family launched a line of popped corn in five varieties: Chicago Mix (sweet and salty cheese corn), Just The Caramel Corn, Just the Cheese, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Organic Simply Salted.

    The line is certified gluten free and certified kosher (dairy) by KOF-K. Discover more at GHCretors.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Homemade Bacon Jam

    BLT-Tart-Bacon-Jam-2-domesticfits-230r

    In this clever version, bacon jam on toast is turned into a holiday treat. Photo courtesy DomesticFits.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

    You’ve got time to whip up a batch of bacon jam, either to serve at Christmas breakfast or to give as a special gift.

    Thia recipe is from chef Johnny Gnall, who teaches us that….

    JAM + BACON DRIPPINGS = BACON JAM

    “Sure, pork loins and roasts may get slathered or served with a fruity condiment,” says Chef Johnny. “But cured pork like bacon, guanciale, pancetta and prosciutto, used sparingly, makes a great accent and can steal the show, even in scant amounts. When you cook salt pork products or pork chops, simply save the drippings and make bacon jam!

    “I keep a jar of bacon drippings in my fridge, adding to it each time I cook bacon. One of my favorite uses for the bacon fat is when I drop a tablespoon or so into a small sauce pan and add a few spoonfuls of whatever jam I happen to have on hand.”

    Here’s the easy and inexpensive recipe (you don’t use expensive bacon, but the by-product from cooking it):
     
    RECIPE: EASY HOMEMADE BACON JAM

    Ingredients

  • Bacon drippings
  • Jam of choice
  • Fresh rosemary or thyme
  • Toast
  • Preparation

    1. WHISK together the bacon drippings and jam in a small pot over medium heat. Heat just enough to melt the bacon fat and blend together, and add the chopped herbs to taste.

    At this point, all you need is a thick slice of toast to make a very delicious and indulgent breakfast on the go. You could top it with an egg.

    You could top it with arugula and cherry tomatoes for a Christmas appetizer or hors d’oeuvre, as in the photo. Or you could…

    2. MAKE a sauce. You can stretch the bacon jam out with broth or water and use it as a quick and simple sauce over or in whatever grain you are serving. It goes particularly well with something hearty, like farro. Just a little of this rich, sweet concoction can turn any grain into a belly-warming home run. Or, dab some on mashed potatoes!

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Fondue

    In supermarkets, displays are currently piled high with panettone and pandoro, Italian holiday breads that are traditionally served and gifted during the Christmas and New Year season.

    The origins of sweet leavened breads date back to Roman times. By Medieval times, different regions of Italy had created signature holiday breads. Best-known, and available in the U.S., are:

  • Pandoro, the star-shaped “golden bread” from Venice, has no inclusions but is sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. This modern version first appeared in late 19th-century Verona. In the Renaissance, cone-shaped cakes for the wealthy were dusted with gold leaf.
  • Panettone, from Milan, has origins in a medieval Christmas yeast bread, filled with candied fruits and raisins. It is tall, dome-shaped and airy. While the recipe has been around for centuries, the first known use of the word “panettone” with Christmas is found in the 18th century writings of Pietro Verri, who refers to it as “pane di tono,” “large loaf.”
  • Panforte is short and dense, almost like fruitcake. It dates to 13th-century Siena, in Tuscany. Like fruitcake, it is served in thin slices.
  •    

    milk-chocolate-fondue-zabars-230

    Dip panettone cubes into chocolate fondue. Photo courtesy Zabars.

     

    PANETTONE DESSERT

    Most panettone is accented with raisins, candied orange peel, citron and lemon zest. Some modern versions add chocolate, which was not available when the recipe originated; others are plain, like pandoro.

    For a dessert or a snack, the classic panettone accompaniment is a sweet hot beverage or a sweet wine such as spumante or moscato (any dessert wine will do). Some Italians add a side of crema di mascarpone, a cream made from mascarpone cheese, eggs, and amaretto (or you can substitute zabaglione, a sherry-flavored custard sauce).

    But you can Americanize it into chocolate fondue with seasonal dippers. Here are recipes for chocolate and white chocolate fondues. Consider a white chocolate version with panettone and green and red fruit dippers—very Christmassy.

    You can also slice the panettone into layers and fill them with whipped cream (how about bourbon or rum whipped cream); then top with berries.

     

    pandoro-monkey-chef.blogspot-230

    A pandoro, baked in the shape of a star, with staggered slices emulating a Christmas tree. Photo courtesy Monkey-chef.blogspot.com.

     

    FONDUE DIPPERS

    Cakes, Cookies & Candies

  • Amaretti
  • Biscotti: cranberry, ginger, pumpkin
  • Crystallized ginger
  • Fruit cake cubes
  • Mini meringues
  • Gingersnaps or mini gingerbread men
  • Panettone cubes
  •  
    Fruits

  • Figs
  • Kiwi
  • Lady apples
  • Red grapes
  • Clementine/orange/mandarin segments
  • Pear slices
  • Strawberries and raspberries
  •  
    MORE PANETTONE DESSERT RECIPES

  • Try this Panettone Bread Pudding recipe.
  • With this Panettone French Toast recipe, you can serve the slices like dessert crêpes, topped with some whipped cream or ice cream.
  •  
    PANDORO DESSERT

    The star shape of a pandoro enables creative cooks to cut the cake into horizontal layers, then stack them in a offset layers to create a Christmas tree effect (see the photo above). You can decorated the tree with red and green candied cherries, or raspberries and and mint leaves.

    Alternatively, layers can be sandwiched with whipped cream or zabaglione. Whipped cream flavored with amaretto, Irish cream liqueur or chocolate liqueur is especially festive. Follow this recipe for Bourbon whipped cream (there’s also a recipe for salted caramel whipped cream).

    Find more pandoro recipes at BauliUSA.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Goose

    No plans for Christmas dinner? You can create your own festive event by roasting a Christmas goose.

    Here’s a recipe from New York City-based Michelin-starred chef Kurt Gutenbrunner, a native of Austria where the Christmas goose is the go-to dish.

    Serve it with your favorite sides. In Austria, these include red cabbage, baked marzipan-stuffed apples, roasted chestnuts, celery root purée and little bread dumplings served in a napkin.

    The one thing you need to do in advance is let the goose dry out in the fridge overnight before roasting. This produces crisp skin. So head to the store and pick up your goose and trimmings.

    An average goose serves six (or a fewer number of large portions). But even if you’re just one or two, you’ll be glad for the leftover goose.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS GOOSE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 goose (10 to 12 pounds), giblets, neck and wing tips reserved
  • 3 carrots cut into 1 in dice
  • 6 celery ribs, cut into 1 in dice
  • 3 onions, 1 quartered, 2 cut into 1 in dice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 apple quartered
  • 1 orange, quartered (with skin)
  • 12 thyme sprigs
  •    

    goose-cooked-dartagnan-230sq

    A traditional Christmas dish: roast goose. Photo courtesy D’Artagnan.

     

    For The Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Reserved giblets, neck and wing tips from the goose
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  •  

    raw-goose-dartagnan-230

    Ready to roast! Photo courtesy D’Artagnan.

     

    Preparation

    1. PAT the goose dry inside and out, using paper towels. Set it in a roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered overnight. The next day…

    2. REMOVE the goose from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature (about 1 hour). If the bird is still moist, pat it dry inside and out with paper towels.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. In a large roasting pan, scatter the carrots, celery and onions. Generously season the inside the inside of the goose with salt and pepper and stuff it with the apple, orange, quartered onion and thyme.

    4. PRICK the skin of the goose all over. Season the outside of the bird with salt and pepper. Truss it and set it directly on top of the vegetables. Add 1/2 inch of hot water to the pan. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and roast the goose until an instant-read thermometer interred in the thigh reads 165° to 180° and the juices run clear, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

     
    5. REMOVE the fat from the pan with a baster as necessary and reserve the fat for the braised cabbage (otherwise, store in the fridge for future use). If the skin is not crisp, increase the oven temperature to 375°F and roast for 10 minutes more. Transfer the goose to ae cutting board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile…

    6. MAKE the sauce: In a large casserole, heat the oil until smoking. Add the giblets, neck and wing tips and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the giblets, neck and wing tips to a bowl. Pour off most of the fat in the pot.

    7. ADD the onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and ice cubes and cook, scraping up the browned bits stuck to the bottom, until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Return the giblets, neck and wing tips to the pot and add enough water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Add the thyme and rosemary and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 1 hour.

    8. STRAIN the stock into a large bowl, discard the solids. Return the stock to the pot and boil over high heat until it coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.

    9. DISCARD the apple, orange, onion and thyme in the goose’s cavity. Carve the goose and serve with the sauce.

     
    THE HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS GOOSE

    While modern American families tend to have a turkey, ham or roast beef for Christmas dinner, goose remains the traditional Christmas meat of choice for many Europeans.

    Goose has been a feast bird as far back as ancient Egypt. According to FoodTimeline.org, before modern animal husbandry, geese were at the ideal stage to be eaten twice a year. The first time was when they were young, in the early summer; and the second when they were at their fattest and ripest, toward the end of the year.

    Before Christianity took hold, Northern Europeans feasted on goose to give thanks to Odin and Thor for the harvest. By the Middle Ages, geese were the feast food at Michaelmas, which fell on the winter solstice (which occurs on December 21, 22 or 23, depending on the year), to honor the end of the harvest. It was just a short step to Christmas.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Cheese Wedge Reindeer

    Here’s an easy Christmas snack to make from Laughing Cow cheese wedges, or any cheese you like enough to cut into wedges.

    Simply assemble:

  • Cheese wedges for the head
  • Mini pretzels for antlers
  • Halved pimento-stuffed olives for the nose
  • Peppercorn eyes (green peppercorns are very mild and more kid-friendly)
  •  
    The use of a red tray liner sets off the white cheese and adds to the festiveness.

    We found the photo on Pinterest, regrettably with no attribution. But for a fun treat for kids and adults alike, we had to share it here.

     

    cheese-reindeer-applepins.com-pinterest-230

    Turn a cheese wedge into Rudolph. Photo: Pinterest.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Candy Cane Cocoa Rim

    cocoa-cup-ziploc-230

    Warm up your day with peppermint-accented
    cocoa. Photo courtesy Ziploc.

     

    For those living north of the Equator, today* is the the winter solstice, shortest day of the year.

    Since antiquity, man has celebrated the winter solstice with feasting, gifts, visiting, drinking and more of the pleasures that counter the daily hardships of life.

    So treat yourself to something special. We recommend a candy cane hot chocolate.

    Start by making a seasonal cocoa cup rimmer with crushed candy canes or other peppermint candies.

    Here’s a recipe for an easy batch of “peppermint dust” from Ziploc. Use it to turn goodies into festive treats all winter long.

    To rim a cup of cocoa, dip the rim in water about 1/4 inch deep. Place the peppermint dust on a plate or in shallow bowl and twist the wet rim in it until it adheres.

     
    HOW TO MAKE PEPPERMINT DUST

    1. PLACE candy canes or other red and white peppermint candies in a Ziploc bag. Gently crush the candies with a rolling pin. Use less pressure for tiny chunks, and more pressure for a fine dust.

    2. STORE the peppermint dust in a a Ziploc bag or other airtight container for easy access.

    3. SPRINKLE on frosted, brownies, donuts, cupcakes. See these and other recipes at LifeLessons.Ziploc.com.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA & HOT CHOCOLATE

    Hot chocolate is made by mixing shaved, ground or other form of actual chocolate like beads or pellets (pistoles). The chocolate is mixed with water or milk, plus a sweetener. If you were to eat the chocolate, it would taste just like chocolate from a chocolate bar.

    Cocoa is made with cocoa powder. Many products made from cocoa powder are called “hot chocolate,” but there is a difference. As chocolate contains far more cocoa butter than cocoa powder, hot chocolate will be smoother and richer than hot cocoa, all things being equal (if both products are made with the same type of liquid—milk, half and half, water, etc.) .

    Check out the different types of cocoa and hot chocolate.
     
    EASY PEPPERMINT BARK

    For an over-the-top treat, have some peppermint bark with your candy cane cocoa.

    Peppermint bark is super easy to make. Simply:

     

    with-rolling-pin-230

    It’s easy to make peppermint dust. Photo courtesy Ziploc.

     
    1. MELT white chocolate chips or a white chocolate bar in a microwave safe bowl. Spread on a baking sheet and sprinkle with peppermint dust.

    2. CHILL in the refrigerator for an hour and break into chunks. Voilà: a special treat with little effort.
     
    *Using the Gregorian calendar, the December solstice occurs between December 20th and December 23rd. Based on the rotation of Earth, the North Pole is tilted furthest away from the sun at the winter solstice (and closest to the sun at the vernal equinox in June). The Gregorian calendar is used in most western countries: 365 days in a year, 366 days in a leap year.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Nutella Latte

    nutella-latte-cherrystreetcoffeehouse-delonghi-230

    The latte for Nutella fans. Photo courtesy
    Cherry Street Coffeehouse | DeLonghi.

     

    To all those who enjoyed our recipe for Nutella French Toast, here’s the drink to go with it:

    It was created by Laila Ghambari, U.S. 2014 Barista Champion, director of coffee at Cherry Street Coffee House, a Seattle mini-chain, and a spokesperson for De’Longhi premium coffee machines.

    She recently developed this easy-to-make Nutella Latte recipe, and De’Longhi shared it with us.

    RECIPE: NUTELLA LATTE

    Ingredients For One 8-10-Ounce Drink

  • 1 teaspoon Nutella
  • Prepared espresso
  • 2% or whole milk, foamed
  • Garnish: whipped cream, chocolate powder (sweetened hot chocolate mix), chopped toasted hazelnuts
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD 1 tablespoon of Nutella to the bottom of the cup. Combine with prepared espresso and stir, then top with foamed milk.

    2. TOP with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate powder or chopped toasted nuts.

     

    If you’re one of those people who doesn’t like Nutella, here’s another recipe Laila created. There are no chestnuts or pecans (the typical nut for praline) in this drink, but she created it to evoke those flavors.

    RECIPE: MOCK CHESTNUT PRALINE LATTE

    Ingredients For One 8-10-Ounce Drink

  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey or caramel syrup or hazelnut syrup
  • Prepared espresso
  • 2% or whole milk, foamed
  • Garnish: whipped cream, shaved chocolate or mini chips, chopped toasted hazelnuts
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WARM up the peanut butter and sweetener. Combine with the prepared espresso then top with foamed milk.

    2. TOP with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate or chopped toasted nuts.

     

    chestnut-praline-latte-cherrystreetcoffeehouse-delonghi-230

    Mock Chestnut Praline Latte. Photo courtesy Cherry Street Coffeehouse | DeLonghi.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Christmas Tree Eggnog French Toast

    This recipe from Driscoll’s Berries tastes best when using slightly stale bread and soaking it overnight in the eggnog mixture. You can, however, make it at the last minute without the advance prep work.

    For Christmas breakfast, most of the prep can be done the night before. In the morning, just brown the toast and trim to assemble your tree. Place it on the dining table and watch the tree disappear quickly!

    You’ll have more berries than you need to decorate the Christmas tree, so serve them in a bowl on the side. Find more berry-laden recipes at Driscolls.com.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS TREE EGGNOG FRENCH TOAST

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 8 thick slices dense, stale bread* (country white or wheat
    bread)
  • 2 cups eggnog
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Dash freshly ground nutmeg
  • Optional: maple syrup
  •  
    *If the bread is fresh, let the slices sit uncovered for a few hours to dry out.

     

    christmas-tree-eggnog-french-toast-driscolls-230

    Turn French Toast into a Christmas tree. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. LINE a large, shallow baking pan with bread slices. Mix the eggnog with the eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour the eggnog mixture over the bread, turning the slices once to coat both sides. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.

    2. HEAT a greased griddle over medium heat. Cook the bread slices about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from pan then cut the 2 bottom corners off at an angle leaving the top crust intact. Bottom of the slice should now be in a V pattern.

    3. PLACE the slices on a platter and create a berry Christmas tree by layering berry slices V side up to form a pyramid shape. Arrange a single blackberry as a stump, sliced strawberries for the tree skirt and 6 raspberries as a tree topper. Then create a garland of small blueberries. Top with dusting of nutmeg and powdered sugar for snow. Serve with an optional side of maple syrup, and a bowl of the extra berries.

      

    Comments

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