THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Halloween & Fall

TIP OF THE DAY: Black Cocktails For Black Friday

It’s Black Friday. When you get back from fighting the crowds, it’s time for a black cocktail.

Trouble is, the well known “black” cocktails, like the Black Russian, actually brown.

But there are options, including using the first three ingredients to color any clear spirit (clear liqueurs, gin, tequila, rum, etc.):

  • Black vodka
  • Black food color
  • Squid ink
  • Black sambuca
  •  
    1. BLACK VODKA

    In some parts of the world, people like black vodka, which is colored with black catechu, an extract made from the bark of a southeast Asian acacia tree.

    Some are flavored, some aren’t.

    The problem is, some brands like Blavod are actually dark brown, not black. Problem #2: You can find black vodkas in Europe and Asia, but not readily in the U.S., unless you’re lucky to track down Blavod, produced in the U.K., and add some black food color.

    We’ve seen a photo of a glass of Eristoff vodka, from Russia, which looks pitch black. We haven’t been able to find a photo of Znaps Black Jack.

    If you live in a state that is covered by BevMo.com, you can order the Eristoff.
     
    2. BLACK SAMBUCCA

    The good news is, we’ve found ample supplies of black sambuca in the U.S.

    Sambuca is an Italian anise-flavored liqueur. The flavor of anise is reminiscent of fennel and licorice.

    Fans of these flavors have lots of opportunities to make cocktails black with black sambuca. Try a combination of black vodka and black sambucca!
     
    3. BLACK FOOD COLOR.

    The best bet is to color your own vodka black.

    Before McCormick introduced black food color to consumers in 2007, black was approximated by combining 10 drops each of blue and red food coloring and 8 drops of green food (this is enough to color a 750 ml bottle of clear spirits).

    The problem with mixing the three colors in a clear liquid, as opposed to anchoring the color in frosting, is that the colors will precipitate out of the spirit, requiring shaking the bottle before pouring a drink.

    Best bet: McCormick black food color. It’s available in supermarkets nationwide, and online.

    You can also find professional black gels and pastes at baking supply stores, or online from companies like Wilton.
     
    4. SQUID INK

    If you have access to a fish market that sells squid ink or sepia ink (the latter from cuttlefish, a different species), you can use it in a Martini or other savory cocktail. Used in moderation, it has a slight salty tasted.

    Want to try it? Here’s how.
     
    5. BLACK RICE INFUSION

    According to an About.com reader, you can infuse black rice into a bottle of vodka and achieve a good black color, with no added taste. Infuse it in a cool dark place for three days or until it achieves the desired color, shaking the bottle once a day. Infuse in a large jar and strain the vodka into a clean bottle.
     
    WHEN TO MAKE BLACK COCKTAILS

    In addition to Black Friday, you can have fun with black drinks for for:

  • Black And White Parties
  • Black Monday*
  • Dia De Los Muertos
  • Goth Gathering
  • Halloween
  • ________________
    *If you’re looking for another occasion to drink, October 19, 1987 saw the collapse of stock prices on Wall Street. The original Black Monday in America was October 28, 1929, when the stock markets began to crash, engendering the Depression. In 1987, the crash began in Hong Kong and spread west to Europe, then to the U.S. There are several other Black Mondays that mark disasters around the world.

       

    Black Cocktail

    Znaps Black Jack Liquorice Vodka

    Eristoff Black Vodka

    Black Food Color

    Black Sugar Rim

    [1] This cocktail was made with squid ink. Here’s how from Honestly Yum. [2] Black Jack, a “shooter vodka” made by Znaps in Sweden. [3] Eristoff black vodka from Russia (photo courtesy Bev Mo). [4] McCormick black food color (photo courtesy Love From The Oven). [5] You can also use black sugar or black Hawaiian sea salt to make a rim (photo courtesy Martini Drizly).

     

    Black Sambuca

    Black Licorice Shoestrings

    Black Licorice Wheels

    Black Cocktail For Halloween

    [6] Black sambuca is raltively easy to find (photo courtesy Fine Wine House). [7] Great garnish for a black sambucca cocktail: licorice wheels (photo courtesy Smart Candy Shopper). [8] For a creepy garnish, use black licorice shoestrings (photo courtesy Candy Warehouse) as in this cocktail from Freutcake.

     

    RECIPE #1: BLACK MARTINI

    Use black vodka in your favorite Martini recipe. Unflavored brands include Blavod, from the U.K., Fruko-Schulz from Czechoslovakia.

    If you have a flavored vodka, like Znaps Black Jack, you get a licorice Martini.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2½ ounces black vodka (or color the gin black)
  • 1 vermouth (or to taste)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: cocktail onion, olives or a lemon twist
  • Optional rim: black lava salt†
     
    ________________
    †You don’t need to salt the entire rim. The fashion these days is covering only half the rim with the rimmer.
     
    RECIPE #2: COFFEE MILKSHAKE

    You can make any this and other recipes as a shot. Proportions provided are for a three-ounce cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 1 ounce coffee or espresso liqueur
  • Optional: ½ ounce vanilla vodka
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream and/or chocolate-covered espresso beans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SHAKE or stir the vodka and liqueur and pour into a rocks glass over ice. Top with whipped cream and other garnishes as desired.
     
    RECIPE #3: HARVEST CINNAMON

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 1 ounce cinnamon liqueur
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream cinnamon candies
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR the vodka and liqueur and pour into a rocks glass over ice. Top with whipped cream and other garnishes as desired.
     
    RECIPE #r: LICORICE MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 1 ounce black sambuca
  • Optional: black sugar rim
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREATE a sugar rim on a Martini glass.

    2. COMBINE the alcohols in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into the glass.

     

    RECIPE #5: CHERRY MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 2 ounces cherry juice
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: maraschino cherry or raspberry skewer
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the vodka and juice in a mixing glass with ice. Stir with ice and strain into the glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.
     
    RECIPE #6: MIDNIGHT TUTTI FRUTTI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces black vodka
  • 1 ounce blue curaçao
  • 1/2 ounce black raspberry liqueur
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: raspberry skewer
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the alcohol in a mixing glass with ice. Stir with ice and strain into the glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

     
    GREEN SCREWDRIVER

    When you mix black vodka with orange juice, the drink turns green. Consider it for Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day or the first day of spring.
     
    ARTY COCKTAILS

    Clever mixologogists layer black vodka with colored mixers for groovy effects. Try it!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Frozen Pumpkin Tiramisu

    Given the popularity of tiramisu in the U.S., we’re surprised we haven’t come across a frozen pumpkin tiramisu before this one.

    Instead of layering the ingredients in a bowl or pan, this recipe takes the extra step of building it in a springform pan, so it emerges looking like a frozen soufflé.

    The recipe is courtesy Pumpkin It Up, a book with scores of delicious pumpkin recipes.

    RECIPE: FROZEN PUMPKIN TIRAMISU

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1 can (15 ounces or 1-7/8 cups) pumpkin purée
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) ladyfingers, halved
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider, divided
  • 4 gingersnap cookies, finely crushed
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the cream and sugar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Add the mascarpone, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Beat just until the filling is smooth.

    2. LINE the bottom of a 9 x 2-3/4″ springform pan with 1 package of ladyfingers, breaking and overlapping them to fit. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of apple cider.

    4. SPREAD half the pumpkin filling over the ladyfingers. Repeat a second layer with the remaining package of ladyfingers, 2 tablespoons of apple cider and the remaining filling. Smooth the top of the tiramisu, cover amnd freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    5. UNMOLD: Run a knife around the inside of the pan. Release the pan sides and sprinkle the top with crushed gingersnaps.

    THE HISTORY OF TIRAMISU

    Tiramisu means “pick me up,” a reference to the caffeine from the espresso liqueur and the energy from the eggs and sugar.

    While there are many variations of the recipe, tiramisu is typically composed of layers of sponge cake or ladyfingers, soaked in espresso liqueur, coffee syrup or marsala, and layered with a mascarpone cheese and custard mixture. It is dusted with cocoa or shaved chocolate.

    For what is a classic Italian dessert, tiramisu is a relatively recent creation. The origins of the dessert are highly contested, but a strong claim has been made that the recipe was invented in the 1960s at the restaurant, Alle Beccherie in Treviso, Italy by pastry chef Loly Linguanotto.

     

    Frozen Pumpkin TIramisu

    Pumpkin It Up Pumpkin Cookbook

    Pumpkin Tiramisu

    [1] Frozen pumpkin tiramisu recipe from [2] the Pumpkin It Up! cookbook (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Gibbs Smith). [3] A conventional pumpkin tiramisu mixes pumpkin into the mascarpone. Here’s the recipe from Chef Chloe.

     
    The restaurant’s matriarch, Alba Campeol, got the idea for the dessert after the birth of one of her children. Weak in bed, she was brought a zabaglione spiked with coffee, to give her energy. When she returned to work, she and her pastry chef worked on the “pick me up” layered dessert.

    The original Becchiere recipe did not contain alcohol because it was served to children as well as adults. Today, a good tiramisu is redolent of liqueur or marsala. You can read the full story, plus competing claims to the invention by another Treviso restaurateur, Carminantonio Iannaccone, in this Washington Post article.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pumpkin Tacos

    What kind of tacos are right for the season? Pumpkin tacos! Or at least, butternut squash tacos.

    PUMPKIN: AN ALL-AMERICAN

    Pumpkins and all other squash species originated in Central America more than 7,500 years ago. The oldest domesticated pumpkin seeds found to date are from the Oaxaca Highlands in southwest Mexico.

    The original pumpkins bore little resemblance to today’s large, bright orange, sweet variety. They were small and bitter.

    Domestication and breeding produced the pumpkins we know today. Brought to North America, pumpkins were a welcome food for the winter. Their thick skin and solid flesh were ideal for storing and consumption during months of scarcity.

    The Pilgrims (1620) and other Europeans immigrating to America were introduced to pumpkin by Native Americans. The first known pumpkin recipe they made was found in a book from the early 1670s: a side dish made from diced pumpkin, cooked down and blended with butter and spices (as acorn squash, butternut squash and sweet potatoes are prepared today).

    During the 17th century, housewives developed an inventory of pumpkin recipes, the most popular of which remains [drum roll…] pumpkin pie.

    In the 1800s it became stylish to serve sweetened pumpkin dishes during holiday dinners. The first proclamation for “national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving” led to an observance on November 28, 1782. Since 1863, Thanksgiving has been an official annual holiday, by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln.

    BACK TO THE TACOS…

    RECIPE #1: CHICKEN-PUMPKIN TACOS

    This recipe was sent to us from Gilt City, which teamed up with Santa Monica-based Taco Teca to create something new for National Taco Day (October 4th). We’ve slightly adapted the recipe.
     
    Ingredients Per Taco

  • 3 ounces boneless chicken
  • 3 ounces sugar pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 2 ounces salsa mullato (recipe below)
  • 1/2 ounce queso fresco
  • Garnish: 3-4 sprigs cilantro
  • Optional condiment: cranberry sauce
  • Optional drink: pumpkin ale
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT grill on medium/high heat for 10 minutes prior to grilling. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

     

    Pumpkin Tacos

    Pumpkin Sizes

    Arbol Chiles

    [1] Seasonal tacos: chicken with pumpkin or butternut squash. [2] A sugar pumpkin and a jack-o-lantern (photo courtesy Baking Bites). [3] Arbol chiles (photo courtesy Rancho Gordo).

     
    2. SEASON the chicken with salt and pepper and place it on the grill until thoroughly crocked, 8-10 minutes per side, to an internal temperature 165°F. While the chicken is cooking…

    3. CHOP the butternut squash into cubes and place them on a roasting tray. Place in the oven and roast until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

    4. CHOP the cooked chicken into bite-size pieces and place them in a saute pan with the salsa. Simmer for 10 minutes.

    5. REMOVE the chicken from the saute pan directly onto the center of the tortilla. Top with the butternut squash and queso fresco and garnish with cilantro. Serve with a side of cranberry sauce and a pumpkin ale.

    RECIPE #2: SALSA MULATTO

    This recipe is from Mexican-Authentic-Recipes.com.

    Mulatto salsa takes just 5 minutes to make. It is quite hot because it is prepared with arbol chiles. If you’d like less heat, use an equivalent weight of aji amarillo or serrano chiles. Check out the heat levels of different chiles on the Scoville Scale.

    The texture of the mulatto salsa is soft and oily, unlike the condiment salsas most Americans know.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 10 arbol chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of canola oil or other flavorless oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chiles on a griddle over medium heat and roast for about 40 seconds, turning regularly, until all sides are lightly roasted. Transfer to a blender.

    2. ADD the garlic, oil and salt. Blend well.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Pumpkin Soup In A Mini Pumpkin

    Express your inner artist by turning miniature pumpkins into bowls for pumpkin soup.

    The next fun part is garnishing them with whatever appeals to you. Some of our favorites:

  • Croutons: cornbread, pumpkernickel or sourdough
  • Dairy: crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Heat: crushed red pepper flakes, red jalapeno (circles or minced)
  • Meat: bacon, frizzled ham or prosciutto, pork belly squares
  • Pesto: cilantro, mint, parsley
  • Sage Leaves: fresh or fried
  • Spices: nutmeg, paprika, pimenton
  • More: apple chips, cranberry relish, currants, pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds, toasted pecans
  •  
    Here are some recipes to start you off:

    PUMPKIN SOUP RECIPES

  • Pumpkin Soup With Chicken stock & Milk
  • Pumpkin Soup With Chicken Stock, Half-And-Half and Cocoa Croutons
  • Pumpkin Soup With Anise & Pernod-Flavored Cream Cheese “Sorbet”
  • Pumpkin Soup With Mint Pesto Garnish
  • Pumpkin Soup With Garnishes Of Fried Pumpkin Seeds & Sage Pesto
  • Roasted Garlic Sage Pesto Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Fried Pumpkin Seeds
  •  
    THE DIFFERENCES: BROTH, CHOWDER, SOUP & MORE

  • Bisque: A thick, creamy soup that traditionally was made from puréed shellfish. Today bisques are also made from fruits, game fish and vegetables.
  • Broth & Stock: Liquids in which meat, fish, grains or vegetables have been simmered. The difference between a broth and a stock is that broth is made from the desirable ingredients; stock is made from “leftovers” such as bones and skin; thus broth is richer and more nourishing than stock. Both are used as a base for soups and gravies.
  • Chowder: Chunky soups thickened with flour. The main ingredient chowder can range widely, including chicken, corn, fish and seafood.
  • Consommé: A broth that has been clarification. This means that egg whites or other ingredients are boiled in the broth to coagulate the sediment, resulting in a clear, elegant-looking soup.
  • Gumbo: A dish that can fall into the soup or stew category, a strong stock of meat and/or fish/seafood, with pieces of the protein and a variety of vegetables, served over rice. Gumbo is traditionally thickened with okra or filé powder (from the sassfras tree) and vegetables. A gumbo is traditionally served over rice.
  • Gravy: Gravy is not a soup, but a sauce; although Americans have often turned canned soups into sauces. Gravies are made from the juices of cooked meat or vegetables after they have been cooked. Almost all gravies start with a roux (ROO), a mixture of flour and butter; and are thickened with starch (flour, corn starch, arrowroot, etc).
  • Purée: Some soups are puréed into smoothness. A purée can be considered a vegetable or grain/pulse counterpoint to a bisque. The technique also produces smooth apple sauce, whipped potatoes and puréed vegetables (carrot purée, broccoli purée, etc.).
  • Ragout: The French term for a main-dish stew. Note that in Italian, n Italian cuisine, ragù is a meat-based pasta sauce.
  • Soup: Any combination of ingredients cooked in a liquid base: fish/seafood, fruit, meats, starches and vegetables. Soups can be thick and hearty or thin and delicate. While cooked ingredients can remain in the soup, the objective of the ingredients is to flavor the liquid. Soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Fruit soups can be served for starters or desserts.
  •  

    Mini Pumpkin

    Pumpkin Soup

    Pumpkin Soup

    Pumpkin Soup

    [1] Get a mini pumpkin for each serving (photo courtesy Tablespoon). [2] This recipe has a garnish of mint pesto (photo Annabelle Breakey | Sunset). [3] This recipe has a garnish of sage pesto and fried pumpkin seeds (photo courtesy Half Baked Harvest). [4] This recipe has a simple garnish of creme fraiche* and pimenton* (photo courtesy Noob Cook).

  • Stew: A hearty dish made from proteins, vegetables, pulses, etc., simmered in a liquid (water, broth, stock, wine, beer) and then served in the resulting gravy. Stewing is a technique to cook less tender cuts of meat: The slow cooking method tenderizes the meat and the lower temperature allows the flavors to combine. There is a thin line between soups and chunky soups; generally, stews contain less liquid. Sometimes the name is adopted for a soup. Oyster Stew, for example, is a thick soup with butter and milk or cream, like a bisque.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOUP

    THE HISTORY OF SOUP

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Thanksgiving Chocolate Bars Or Bark

    Dark Chocolate Bar

    Thanksgiving Chocolate Bark

    Thanksgiving Chocolate Bar

    Thanksgiving Chocolate Bark

    [1] Turn a plain 3.5-ounce chocolate bar into a Thanksgiving bar (photo courtesy Livestrong). [2] You can present the bars whole, or break them up into bark (photo courtesy The Nutrition Adventure). [3] You can use your favorite chocolate, whether dark, milk or [4] white chocolate (photo #3 courtesy Chocolate Inspirations, photo #4 courtesy My Catholic Kitchen.

     

    We love to make chocolate bark, especially since we discovered this easy technique from Australian blogger Erika Rax. You can make bark almost instantly: for family, friends or gifting.

    In the conventional technique, the chocolate is chopped and melted, the inclusions mixed in, the mixture spread on a baking sheet to set and then broken up.

    Here, whole chocolate bars are topped with the inclusions, then placed in the oven so the bar melts and the inclusions set in.

    The result: chocolate bars with your favorite toppings, that can be broken into bark if you wish. Personally, we give them whole as gifts, and break them up when serving them with coffee.
     
    RECIPE: THANKSGIVING CHOCOLATE BARS OR BARK

    Use the chocolate of your choice—dark, milk, white—or make one of each. Just ensure that the toppings contrast with the color of the chocolate.
    You can use raw or roasted pumpkin seeds, as long as they’re hulled and unsalted.

    You can use as much topping as you like, from elegantly spare to voluptuously overloaded.

    You can place the toppings in an artistic pattern, or just toss them on.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Chocolate Bars

  • 2 3.5-ounce chocolate bars (Cailler, Green & Black’s, Guittard, Lindt, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Optional: 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped or golden raisins (sultanas)
  • Optional: 1/8 cup pecans halves or pistachio nuts
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Optional: coarse/flaky sea salt or kosher salt (a great use for beautiful Maldon salt or alea red volcanic salt, actually a dark “harvest orange” color), to taste
  • Optional spice: 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 170°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment, leaving an overhang on ends.

    2. SPACE the bars on the baking sheet bottom side up, with ample space between them (the pattern normally on top of the bar is on the bottom so the toppings have a level base). Arrange the toppings on top of the bars.

    3. PLACE the baking sheet in the oven for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate just begins to soften. Don’t overheat or the bars will lose their shape.

    4. REMOVE from the oven, lift the parchment from the hot baking sheet and place onto the counter to cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. While bark will last longer, for gifting make it no more than 3 days in advance, and wrap it in plastic or foil before gifting.

    You can also make your own paper chocolate bar label on the computer.
     
    GET READY, GET SET, MAKE YOUR THANKSGIVING CHOCOLATE.

      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.