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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,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Easter

VIDEO: Alton Brown’s Secret Ham Crust

 

Contemplating how to cook the Easter ham? Consider Alton Brown’s favorite way, with his grandmother’s “secret” ham crust recipe.

The secret is now out of the bag: brown sugar, mustard, bourbon and pulverized ginger snap cookies.

  • Brush on a layer of mustard (we prefer deli-style or Dijon)
  • Pat on a layer of brown sugar
  • Spritz bourbon in a spray bottle (we repurposed a small pump spray, instead of the large one Alton uses in the video)
  • Pat on a layer of ginger snap cookie crumbs
  •  
    Watch Alton do it!

       

       

  • Want a different ham crust? Take a look at these ham glaze recipes.
  • How much do you know about ham? Here are the different types and cuts.
  • Take our Ham Trivia Quiz.
  • After tasting 20 “gourmet” hams, our favorite hams.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have An Easter Chocolate Strategy

    Chocolate bunnies. Photo courtesy
    Burdick Chocolate.

     

    If large amounts of Easter chocolate are bestowed upon you and your family, develop a strategy for consuming it. Otherwise, it’s easy to overindulge.

    Forget all the media hype about chocolate as an antioxidant food.* Chocolate is not health food. It’s high in calories and fat. A 1-ounce serving of plain chocolate has from 140-160 calories and about 12 grams of fat. A 1.5-ounce Hershey bar, in comparison, has 210 calories, about half of which come from fat. (Note: Sugar and fat content varies by manufacturer.)

    *Most antioxidants can be processed out of chocolate, unless deliberate care is taken to preserve them.

    Jelly beans seem like a better bargain: 35 pieces have 140 calories and 0 grams of fat. But they’re composed almost entirely of sugar.

     

    Our personal Easter chocolate strategy: one or two servings a day for adults, three ounces a day for children. It’s a good way to teach kids about portion control and an equally important lesson: Ration your treats and you’ll be able to enjoy them longer.

    HAPPY EASTER

    HAPPY SPRING

    FROM THE NIBBLE EDITORS

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pomegranate Seeds

    Pomegranates are an unusual fruit. There’s no flesh, per se, inside that big red globe. Instead, there are scores of seeds, each covered with a translucent, ruby-colored juice sac.

    The seeds in the juice sac are called arils, a term that refers to a specialized outgrowth that covers the seeds. The edible parts of the mangosteen and the mace of the nutmeg seed are other examples of arils.

    Boxes of pomegranate arils, ready to eat, are available at many supermarkets. They’re an easy way to add sophistication to a variety of dishes.

  • Toss them into a green salad or fruit salad.
  • Garnish ice cream, sorbet and hot or cold soup.
  • Sprinkle onto dinner plates or platters.
  • Drop into clear cocktails such as Martinis.
     
    Two simple Easter desserts:
  • Ice cream or sorbet sprinkled with arils and a mint leaf.
  • Pound cake topped with whipped cream, arils and a mint leaf.
  •  

    A pomegranate and its arils—juice sacs
    covering the seeds. Photo by Kelly Cline |
    IST.

     

    As with raspberries, some people enjoy the crunchy seeds and others don’t. But the seeds are wholly edible—in fact, they provide fiber. Those who don’t like them can enjoy the juice, then remove the seed from their mouth with a spoon.

  • An overview of the pomegranate: history, health benefits and how to eat a pomegranate.
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Jelly Bean Day

    Jelly beans are mostly sugar. No wonder
    they are so popular! Photo by River Soma |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    Today is National Jelly Bean Day. It’s also the 35th anniversary of the best-known brand of jelly beans, Jelly Belly, which petitioned for the holiday.

    JELLY BEAN HISTORY

    Many sugared confections are the ancestors of jelly beans. Turkish Delight, which is jelled sugar and rosewater coated with powdered sugar, is one well-known candy that, according to CandyWarehouse.com, is mentioned in the Bible (see the photo for the resemblance to jelly beans).

    Centuries later, an unknown confectioner switched the powdered sugar for granulated sugar, added some flavors, and created the gumdrop.

    Then, in the 17th century, a French confectioner invented a process called panning, which created a hard sugar coating by stirring candies in a mixture of sugar and syrup. Nuts were panned (such as Jordan almonds); later, chocolate was used to create chocolate-covered nuts and other candies.

    Take a gooey mixture called a sugar slurry, add a coating and you get a jelly bean. Jelly beans are made from sugar, corn syrup and starch, with small amounts of anti-foaming agent, flavoring, lecithin and salt. To make them shiny, they’re coated with edible wax and confectioners’ glaze.

     

    The modern jelly bean is believed to have been invented in the U.S., sometime after 1850. The earliest recorded advertisement for jelly beans is from Boston confectioner William Schrafft, who may have also been the creator.* The ad promoted sending jelly beans to Union Soldiers engaged in the Civil War (1861-1865).

    By the early 1900s, jelly beans had become a staple penny candy. Possibly, they were the first bulk candy. They became part of the Easter tradition in the 1930s, when somebody connected their egg shape with the eggs symbolic of the spiritual rebirth of Easter. Their festive colors made them a perfect celebratory candy.

    During World War II, much of the chocolate produced in the U.S. was sent overseas to soldiers. Americans focused on other sweets; flavorful, colorful jelly beans became popular.

    And, if you’re old enough to remember, they were the favorite candy of president Ronald Regan. He persuaded the Jelly Belly company to make a blueberry jelly bean so that he could serve red, white and blue jelly beans in the Oval Office.

    Here’s some jelly bean trivia:†

  • Americans will eat some 15 billion jelly beans over the Easter holiday.
  • Boys are more likely to eat a handful at a time while girls like them one by one.
  • Given an assortment, most people eat them in this order: red, purple, green, yellow and black.
  •  
    JELLY BEAN BARGAIN
    Through Easter Sunday, April 24th, 2011, Jelly Belly is offering a 35% discount on all merchandise on JellyBelly.com. Just use the code 35YEARS when you check out.

    Happy National Jelly Bean Day!

    *Schraft’s candy company was established in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1861, by William F. Schrafft. Succeeding him in 1898, Frank Shattuck expanded the company to include restaurants, most located in Manhattan. The ice candy and cream sundaes were very popular when Pet, Inc., makers of Pet evaporated milk, purchased Schrafft’s in 1967. They broke the ice cream, restaurant, and candy operations into separate companies. Alas, the businesses ultimate ceased operations.

    †From CandyWarehouse.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Crafts Easter Basket

    This lovely “nest” basket from Williams-Sonoma is crafted out of oak moss, lavender, pink globes, white ammobium and oregano. It’s filled with 24 “robin’s eggs” that have champagne, amaretto and kirsch-flavored chocolate centers.

    It makes a charming centerpiece, not just for Easter but year-round.

    If you can’t get to a Williams-Sonoma store, head to your nearest crafts store and buy the materials to make your own basket arrangment.

    Then head to the candy store to fill the basket. It doesn’t need to be with blue robins’ eggs. There are plenty of delicious Easter egg candies that can fill the basket—until people catch sight of them. So make sure to buy refills!

     

    Handy with crafting? Make this charming
    centerpiece for Easter. Photo courtesy
    Williams-Sonoma.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Hot Cross Buns For Easter

    Hot cross buns: an Easter tradition. Photo
    courtesy Amy’s Bread.

     

    Hot cross buns are sweet yeast buns made with raisins or currants and decorated with a cross. The cross was originally made with knife cuts in the dough; today it’s piped or spooned on with icing.

    The cross symbolizes the Crucifixion, and the buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” appears in 1733.

    However, the buns have much earlier roots. As with some other Christian traditions, this one is believed to predate Christianity. Similar buns were eaten by Saxons to honor Eostre, the goddess of spring, whose name is probably the origin of “Easter.” In pre-Christian times, the cross is believed to have symbolized the four quarters of the moon.

    Celebrate Easter—or celebrate spring if you don’t celebrate Easter—by baking a batch of delicious hot cross buns with this recipe.

    The recipe is courtesy Amy’s Bread Revised and Updated, by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree.

     

  • Check out all the different types of bread in our Bread Glossary.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie With A Lattice Crust

    Spring is rhubarb season. Fresh rhubarb is available for just three months a year, so do something special with it. A few ideas:

  • Stewed rhubarb or rhubarb compote, delicious as a side with ham, pork and poultry
  • Rhubarb ice cream
  • Rhubarb tarts, crisps and other baked goods (substitute rhubarb for apples or pears in your favorite recipes)
  • Rhubarb pickles
  •  
    Technically, rhubarb is a vegetable, a member of the sorrel family. Before it was sweetened by British cooks, it was added to soups (try it in lentil soup), sauces and stews—Moroccan tagines and Middle Eastern stews, for example. Be sure to cook only the stems; the leaves are mildly toxic.

    For Easter, make a strawberry-rhubarb pie or raspberry-rhubarb pie. Here’s a recipe.

     

    For Easter, make a strawberry rhubarb pie
    with a lattice crust. Photo © M. Sheldrake |
    Dreamstime.

     

    LATTICE PIE CRUST
    Make your Easter pie extra-special with a lattice crust. The top crust of any fruit pie can be replaced with a lattice crust. Apple and pear pies need a tight lattice so the fruit doesn’t dry out. You can use a loose lattice (more space between the strips of dough) when baking berry, cherry, rhubarb and stone fruit pies, because the fruits have more moisture.

    Here’s a lattice tip from Lauren Chattman, author of The Baking Answer Book:

  • Instead of weaving the lattice on top of the filled pie, start with a cardboard cake circle set atop a baking sheet.
  • Cut the dough into 13-inch strips and weave the lattice on the cardboard.
  • Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up the lattice.
  • Slip the lattice from the cardboard onto the pie.
  • Adjust the lattice strips to make them even, if required. Trim the ends and crimp onto the pie plate. Bake.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easter Lamb, Passover Lamb

    Elegant lamb chops cut from the rack. Photo
    courtesy Meat And Livestock Australia

     

    Many families roast a leg of lamb for Easter. But if you’re a small group and don’t want days of leftover lamb, consider an elegant rack of lamb or crown roast of lamb.

    Or, check our Lamb Glossary for even more cuts of lamb—all delicious.

    Lamb is the oldest meat animal raised by man. Since ancient times, it has been a religious symbol and a food for feasting and sacrifice.

  • Lamb is the traditional main dish at Easter dinner, commemorating the Last Supper, at which the meat served was likely lamb.
  • In Judaism, lamb is often served during the Passover seder to commemorate the first Passover. According to the Bible, on the eve of the exodus from Egypt, Jews marked their doorposts with the blood of a lamb so that the Angel of Death would pass over their households.
  •  

  • Find lamb recipes in our Lamb Section.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Egg Tips For Easter & Passover

    Here are some egg safety tips from the USDA, for everyone planning an Easter egg hunt or cooking eggs for the Passover seder.

    Hard-cooked eggs for Easter and Passover celebrations should be prepared with care.

    EASTER EGG TIPS

  • If you plan to eat the Easter eggs you decorate, be sure to use only food grade dye—not paint or fabric dye.
  • Consider making two sets of eggs: one for decorating and hiding, another for decorating and eating (see the tip in the photo caption). Or, you can use plastic eggs for hiding.
  • For an Easter egg hunt, throw away any cooked eggs with cracked shells. Bacteria can enter and contaminate the egg inside.
  • Keep hard-cooked eggs chilled in the fridge until just before the hunt.
  • Hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets and other bacteria sources.
  •  

    As pretty as they look, hard-cooked eggs can
    only be out of the refrigerator for two hours
    at a time. If you want to decorate eggs for display, use uncooked eggs. With a needle,
    punch a tiny hole in each end and blow out the contents before decorating. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

  • The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should be no more than two hours. Then, if the eggs are not eaten, they need to go back into the fridge. Eggs found after two hours need to be thrown out.

  • PASSOVER EGG TIPS

  • A hard-cooked egg that has been at room temperature for more than two hours should not be eaten.
  • The hard-cooked eggs meant to be eaten should be kept in the fridge until ready to serve.
  •  
    GENERAL TIPS

  • When eggs are hard-cooked, the protective coating on the shell is washed away, leaving open pores where harmful bacteria can enter. Be sure to refrigerate eggs within two hours of cooking and use them within a week.
  • Check your refrigerator temperature with an appliance thermometer and adjust the refrigerator temperature to 40°F or below.
  • How to boil eggs.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Custom Chocolate Bars For Easter

    Choccreate custom chocolate bars are such a fun choice for Easter gifts – you get your choice of dark, milk or white chocolate, toppings and an Easter bunny or two.

    The toppings make all the difference in your creation of a unique—and inexpensive—Easter gift.

  • Start with an Easter theme: scatter your bar with candy bunnies, chicks, ducklings or lambs.
  • For Easter colors, add jelly beans, M&Ms or Sunbeams.
  • Want to add some dried fruit? There are 22 choices, from banana chips to tart cherries.
  • There are 30 choices of cereals, nuts and seeds, from cornflakes (which are terrific in chocolate bars) to wasabi peanuts.
  • Want something pretty? There are 8 dried flower petal choices, plus gold and silver flakes.
  • Finish your bar with spices, from chipotle and cinnamon to mixed peppercorns and Hawaiian red sea salt.
  •  
    If you don’t have the time or inclination to design chocolate bars, send an e-gift certificate and let the recipients have the fun.

     

    Release your inner chocolatier. We combined
    sugar bunnies, eggs and carrots with Jelly
    Beans and Sunbeams. Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The base price of the 3.5-ounce chocolate bar is $3.95. Toppings start at 45¢ each, with many at 65¢ or 75¢. Each bar comes in a gift box.

    If you’re still looking for Easter candy, do something different this year. Click on over to Choccreate.com and start creating!

    Want something more elaborate? Here’s our favorite artisan Easter chocolate.

      

    Comments

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