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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 Holidays & Occasions

FOOD FUN: Bunny Rolls

Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day, a blog by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, inspires people to make homemade bread, like these adorable brioche bunny rolls.

It’s a standard roll shape; some dough has been pushed up to make ears, up and holes have been poked for eyes.

Ah, such delicious creativity! We wish they had a bakery…but even if they did, it would be far from us, in Minneapolis.

Instead, we can buy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. Buy a copy for yourself, for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts, or to inspire someone who enjoys cooking to discover the joys of baking bread.

Jeff Hertzberg, an M.D., grew up eating great bread and pizza in New York City and parlayed his enthusiasm for them into a second career as an author.

Zoë François trained as a pastry chef at the Culinary Institute of America and is a teacher, recipe developer for The Cooking Channel, Fine Cooking Magazine and other outlets, plus her wonderful blog, ZoeBakes.com.

 

The perfect bread for Easter dinner. Photo courtesy ArtisanBreadInFive.com.

 

The Mineappolis-based authors met in their children’s music class in 2003 and have written two other bestselling cookbooks together.

  

Comments

TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Liqueur For Mom Or Dad

clementine-vodka-kaminsky-230

Home-infused clementine vodka. Photo ©
Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

 

Our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog has already made her Mother’s Day gift: which she calls climoncello (a rift on the lemon liqueur, limoncello).

You’ve got more than enough time to make your own liqueur for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, in any flavor you choose. It simply requires a base spirit—vodka—plus fruit and sugar.

You don’t even have to buy fruit: You can use citrus peels leftover from other recipes, which is what started Hannah on this journey. You can save them up in a freezer bag, and make a mixed citrus if you don’t have enough of any one variety. You’ll also need a large infusing jar and a funnel.

Then, just cook it up and let the fruit or peel infuse for a month or longer. Hannah went on vacation, forgot about the steeping peels and ended up with a three-month infusion.

Here’s her easy recipe:

RECIPE: CLIMONCELLO, CLEMENTINE LIQUEUR

Ingredients

  • 14-15 clementine peels
  • 3-1/2 cups water
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle vodka*
  •  

    *Don’t buy the cheapest firewater like Everclear, but don’t buy premium brands, either. Hannah used Popov; we used Russian Standard and Absolut (and couldn’t tell the difference in the finished product).

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the peels, water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar has fully dissolved. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let cool to room temperature.

    2. TAKE a pestle or other blunt instrument and muddle/mash the rinds, bruising them to release more of the essential oils.

    3. ADD the vodka, give it a good stir and transfer the whole mixture, peels and all, into a large glass jar (be sure to save the vodka bottle for packaging the finished product, if you don’t want to buy a decorative bottle). Seal the lid tightly and stash it in a cool, dark place for 1-3 months. You’re likely to get even greater depth of flavor if you let it steep for an extra month or so. When the liqueur is ready, the liquid should be a golden orange color and smell of sweet oranges.

    4. STRAIN out and discard the peels, and transfer the liquor to an attractive glass bottle. Store in a cool, dark place for however long you can make it last. It should keep indefinitely, but you’ll no doubt want to enjoy it before too long.

     

    mint-liqueur-goodcocktails.com-230

    Homemade mint liqueur. Photo courtesy Good Cocktails.

     

    MINT LIQUEUR

    If you’d rather have mint or other herb liqueur than a fruit flavor, here’s a recipe from GoodCocktails.com. You can make basil, rosemary or anything you’d like.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Flourless Persian Pistachio Cake

    This recipe comes via Chef Jennifer Abadi and Zabar’s. The aromatic, citrus notes of cardamom add flair to a simple cake.

    Preparation time is one hour; the cake yields eight to ten servings.

    RECIPE: FLOURLESS PERSIAN PISTACHIO CAKE
    WITH CARDAMOM SYRUP

    Ingredients

    Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup matzoh meal
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch ground cardamom
  •  
    Wet Ingredients

  • 3 extra large eggs (or 4 large eggs), lightly beaten
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup water
  •  

    flourlesss-persian-pistachio-cake-jenniferAbadi-zabars-230

    Ground nuts replace flour in cakes for Passover. Photo courtesy Zabar’s.

     
    For Decoration

  • 3 tablespoons shelled, unsalted pistachios, as decoration
  •  

    cardamom-pods-farmgirlgourmet-230

    Cardamom pods. Photo courtesy Heather
    Scholten | Farmgirl Gourmet.

      For Cardamom-Sugar Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Few pinches black pepper
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 crushed cardamom pods
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. POUR pistachios into a food processor and pulse until they become a fine meal-like consistency, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the matzoh meal and pulse together an additional minute.

    3. POUR ground pistachio mixture into a medium size bowl and combine with remaining dry ingredients.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.

     

    5. POUR the batter into a greased 8- or 9-inch square baking pan and sprinkle with whole pistachios. Bake on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and center of cake is soft but not wet (cake should still be fairly moist). Meanwhile, prepare the syrup.

    6. COMBINE the sugar, salt, pepper, and water in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a bubbling simmer over medium heat. Add the ground cardamom and cardamom pods, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (the liquid will thicken slightly). Remove from heat.

    7. REMOVE cake from oven and cool 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into squares and serve at room temperature sprinkled with the cardamom-sugar syrup.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Blue & Purple Potatoes

    The All Blue variety of blue potatoes.
    Potatoes can be blue or purple, depending on
    the soil in which they are grown. Photo
    courtesy Burpee.com.

     

    Naturally blue and purple foods are relatively rare.

    Blue Foods. In the blue group are blackberries, blueberries, blue cheese, blue corn, Concord grapes, pale blue oyster mushrooms and edible flowers like bachelor’s buttons. And there are exotica like decaisnea, an Asian plant known as dead man’s fingers, with a blue pod and edible blue pulp.

    Purple Foods. In the purple group: black currants; black rice; eggplant; elderberries; figs; red cabbage; purple artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, grapes “green” beams, and kohlrabi; plums; prunes; raisins; and some microgreens.

    But our favorite in the blue and purple group are blue and purple potatoes and yams, which have both blue/purple flesh and skin. More flavorful than many starchy white potatoes, they tend to have a slight earthy and nutty flavor. Look for them in specialty produce markets or better supermarkets.

    The blue or purple color comes from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that create red, blue and purple colors, depending on the pH of the soil and other growing factors.

     

    There are numerous varieties with commercial names such as All Blue, Congo, Lion’s Paw, Purple Peruvian, Purple Viking, Purple Majesty and Vitilette. Specialty Produce magazine notes that there are 700 purple varieties in Peru, the birthplace of the potato.

    They are generally harvested young, which is why they tend to be smaller and rounder. Leave them in the ground and they’ll grow larger and oblong.

    According to Web MD, they’re a heart healthy vegetable, helping to lower blood pressure. What better reason to go out and buy some!

     

    A Versatile Potato

    Blue and purple potatoes have a medium-starchy texture. They keep their shape when baked but also mash and blend easily—for example, into potato soup, shown in the photo at right.

    The pop of color is a delight in potato salads and a surprise in dishes like blue/purple potato soup.

    Make fun dishes like purple potato chips or potato latkes. Mix purple potatoes with orange-fleshed squash. Try a purple potato pizza with smoked salmon and salmon roe, or with caramelized onions and rosemary.

    For Easter, how about this purple potato soup from Family Spice? Here’s the recipe.

    Purple mashed potatoes are also stunning on the table. If your tradition is roast lamb with rosemary potatoes, make those potatoes purple—or a mix of purple and white.

     

    purple-potato-soup-familyspice-230

    Purple potato soup: a treat for Easter dinner—or anytime. Photo © Family Spice.

     

    Think of how you’d use blue or purple potatoes and let us know.

    One suggestion you shouldn’t pass up: red, white and blue potato salad for Independence Day!

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Peeps Dunkin’ Donuts

    dunkin-Peeps-donut-horiz-230sq

    Peeps donuts, new this year. Photo courtesy
    Dunkin’ Donuts.

     

    Why did it take so long, we wondered, as we read the press release about Dunkin’ Donuts’ new Easter donut topped with a real Peeps marshmallow chick.

    The yeast donut, shaped like a flower, is available in two flavors: strawberry flavored icing with pastel green icing drizzle, or pastel green icing with strawberry flavored icing drizzle.

    The Peeps that top the donuts are slightly smaller than the normal Peeps chicks.

    Gather ye donuts while ye may: They’re available at participating Dunkin’ Donuts locations nationwide for a limited time only.

    Worldwide, Dunkin’ Donuts sells 2.5 billion donuts and annually. In the U.S., Dunkin’ Donuts offers more than 70 varieties of donuts. Favorite flavors include Boston Kreme, Glazed and Chocolate Frosted.

     

    Find the store nearest to you at DunkinDonuts.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Prosciutto Wrapped Bell Peppers

    Print

    A tasty first course: a roasted bell pepper wrapped in prosciutto. Photo courtesy Westside Market | NYC.

     

    This recipe fits right in with a pink food party, Valentine’s Day, Easter or Mother’s Day.

    RECIPE: PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED BELL PEPPERS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 red peppers, roasted and peeled*
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 4 pieces
  • 4 ounces sliced prosciutto
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 4 black olives
  • 4 toothpicks
  •  

    *This is the most laborious part of the recipe. Here’s how to roast peppers. As a substitution, you can purchase whole roasted red peppers in jars (pimento). They have a softer texture and different flavor, but it’s a good flavor.
     
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add peppers and marinate for 1 hour.

    2. FILL each pepper with a piece of mozzarella. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each pepper.

    3. TOP each with a basil leaf and olive, held together with a toothpick.
     
    It’s that easy!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mussels Escargot Style, With Maitre d’Hotel Butter

    mussels-escargot-style-garlicparsleybutter-millesimeNYC-230

    Mussels, escargot style. Photo courtesy
    Millesime Restaurant | NYC.

     

    Escargots don’t have much flavor. What brings them to life is the vibrant garlic-parsley butter, known in French cuisine as beurre maître d’hôtel butter.

    It’s a popular compound butter that’s used on fish, meat, noodles, potatoes, vegetables and you-name-it. It’s delicious year around, and ushers in spring with its bright hue.

    Substitute the escargots for mussels, as this inspired recipe from Millesime restaurant in New York City shows, and serve it as a first course.

    The only challenge is to decide what dishes you have to serve it in—most of us don’t have escargot dishes. But as you can see in the photo, anything will work. Have Champagne coupes? Time to use them for other than Champagne.

    We’ve suggested extra toast, below, because most people will want to soak up every last drop of the butter sauce.

    Going forward, we’ll use the American name for the butter sauce, sparing those who don’t speak French the need to pronounce beurre maître d’hôtel butter (burr meh-TRUH doe-TELL).

     
    RECIPE: MUSSELS IN GARLIC PARSLEY BUTTER

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 30 mussels
  • Garlic parsley butter (recipe below).
  • 8 slices brioche or quality white bread
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the garlic parsley butter. Keep on the stove.

    2. REMOVE mussels and beards from shells; rinse and sauté lightly in butter.

    3. MAKE the toast and slice into quarters. Warm garlic parsley butter sauce as necessary.

    4. ASSEMBLE and serve: Fill dish with butter sauce, add six mussels and serve with toast points.

    5. REFRIGERATE any remaining garlic parsley butter for other use, including garlic bread.

     

    RECIPE: GARLIC PARSLEY BUTTER

    Ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PULSE all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a microwave-safe dish or small pitcher.

    2. KEEP on or near stove if making the mussels for immediate consumption. Otherwise, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.

    3. HEAT before serving.

     

    compound-butter-browneyedbaker-230

    Garlic parsley butter, a compound butter known in French cuisine as maitre d’hotel butter. Photo courtesy Brown Eyed Baker.

     

    WHAT IS COMPOUND BUTTER

    Compound butter is preparation that combines unsalted butter with flavorful ingredients: fruits, herbs, nuts, spices and/or other savory ingredients (anchovies, capers, mustard, olives, etc.).

    It is often used in French cooking to create an instant sauce for anything from grilled steak to sautéed chicken and fish to vegetables; it is also stirred into soups and stews for added flavor.

    In the U.S., popular compound butters include strawberry butter for muffins, chipotle butter for corn on the cob, and perhaps the most familiar, garlic butter for garlic bread.

    Here’s more on compound butter, plus recipes.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Corned Beef & Cabbage Tacos

    Who thought that inspiration for St. Patrick’s Day would come from La Tortilla Factory?

    Corned beef and cabbage tacos!

    We love fusion food, but these tacos do present a challenge:

    Should we serve them with mustard, or with tomatillo salsa?
     
    EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT MAKING TACOS

    The answer to this question and others concerning nouvelle tacos can be found in the new book, The Taco Revolution by Brandon Schultz.

    The book covers both traditional and new recipes, with chapters for beef, chicken, fish, pork, vegetable, breakfast and specialty tacos, plus sides, sauces and taco party advice.

    On the nonconventional list, there are fusion tacos galore, including:

  • Avocado and tofu taco
  • BLT taco
  • California roll taco with wasabi sauce and soy sauce for dipping
  • Caprese taco with mozzarella, tomato and basil
  • Chicken salad taco and tuna salad taco, both with mayo
  • Chicken tikka taco (say that three times fast)
  • Falafel tahini taco
  • Hawaiian pizza taco
  • Korean taco of rice and kimchi
  • Orange chicken taco
  • Reuben tacos with sauerkraut and thousand island dressing
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese taco
  • Steamed broccoli taco
  • Thanksgiving taco with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce
  •  

    corned-beef-cabbage-tortillas-tortillafactory-230sq

    Tacos for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy La Tortilla Factory.

     

    Salivating or simply intrigued? Get your copy at Amazon.com in hardcover or Kindle editions.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Irish Coffee

    Even if you don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parade-watching and partying, take the occasion to enjoy an Irish Coffee—a simply wonderful cup of coffee enhanced with Irish whiskey and whipped cream.

    It will be especially welcome in our neck of the woods: Mother Nature is giving us a wind chill factor in the teens, and possible snow.

    You might think that Irish Coffee is a centuries-old drink, enjoyed by generations of Irish folk around a hot fire at home or at the pub.

    But truth be told, it originated in the era around World War II during the dawn of transatlantic plane travel, when air travelers from America to Ireland took an 18-hour seaplane to Port of Foynes in County Limerick.

    In cold, damp weather, a hot cup of coffee or tea was offered upon arrival. When “something stronger” was requested, Irish Coffee was born.

    The name purportedly was bestowed when an American asked if the beverage was made with Brazilian coffee. He was told in return, “This is Irish coffee.”

     

    irish-coffee-rogers-cowan-230

    Irish Coffee. Any glass will do. Photo courtesy Rogers & Cowan.

     
    One passenger enjoying a cup was the owner of the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco. He brought the recipe home in 1952 and began serving the first Irish Coffee in the U.S.

    Here’s the full story.

    So get out the bottle of Bushmills, Jameson or Tullamore Dew. You don’t need a special glass handled pedestal mug that evolved to serve Irish coffee; any glass will do.

    Here’s the original Irish Coffee recipe plus variations. And if you don’t like coffee, there’s a recipe for Irish Hot Chocolate.

    Sláinte!*
     
    *Pronounced SLAWN-cha, SLON-che or SLON-tih depending on the area of Ireland, it means “health!” in Gaelic.
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Avocado Fries, Green & Keen

    avocado-fries-chobani-230

    Baked avocado “fries.” Photo courtesy
    Chobani.

     

    Would you like baked avocado fries with that?

    This recipe from Chobani is a fun way to enjoy avocado—cooked! Since the avocado will be sliced and baked, it should be firm, not guacamole-soft.

    RECIPE: BAKED AVOCADO FRIES WITH
    CILANTRO LEMON DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/3 cup bread crumbs (we prefer panko)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  •  
    For The Dipping Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons plain 0% Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. MIX together bread crumbs, pepper, salt and cumin in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

    3. CUT the avocados in half and then slice them vertically.

    4. DREDGE the avocado slices in the flour, then in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumbs.

    5. LAY on baking sheet covered with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

    6. BAKE for 10-12 minutes, checking frequently on status (baking times vary between ovens). Meanwhile…

    7. MAKE the dipping sauce. Place the yogurt, cilantro and lemon juice in a blender and mix until smooth and creamy in texture.

     

    avocado-lemon-230

    Ready to be baked. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     

    8. TRANSFER baked avocados to a serving plate and serve immediately with dip.

      

    Comments

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