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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

VALENTINE GIFT: Maggie Louise Chocolates

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White chocolate Valentine delights. Photo courtesy Maggie Louise Confections.

 

We love this special white chocolate set for Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s for the ladies (or girls), but chocolatier Maggie Louise has other items chocolate-loving men (and painted chocolate dinosaurs for chocolate-loving boys).

The set in the photo, called the XO Make-Up Box, includes:

  • 4 white chocolate lipsticks
  • 2 white chocolate letters: X.O.
  • 4 dark chocolate lips, painted red or pink and filled with cream caramel and chocolate nougat
  • 4 white chocolate hearts filled with chocolate caramel and sea salt
  • 4 white chocolate dots (squares) filled with cream caramel and sea salt
  •  
    While there’s always a great box of chocolate to be found somewhere, this collection will last and last in chocolate memories.
     
    It’s $56, beautifully gift boxed. Check out the other awesome chocolates at MaggieLouiseConfections.com.

     
      

    Comments

    SUPER BOWL: The “Bivalve Bowl”

    From January 26th through January 31st, the New England Patriots-Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl match-up will be preceded by a competition between bodaceous bivalves.

    The storied Grand Central Oyster Bar in the heart of Manhattan is hosting “Super Bowl XLIX Oyster Platter,” pitting two New England oysters (Katama and Wellfleet) against two Washington challengers (Discovery Bay and Skookum—note that oysters are typically named for the bodies of water where they are harvested).

    Chef Sandy Ingber has selected beverage pairings to complement the oysters: for Patriots fans, Cisco “Whales Tale” Pale Ale from Nantucket; for Seahawks fans, Washington State’s Chateau St. Michelle 2013 Dry Riesling 2013.

    If you have a supplier of fresh oysters and a talent for shucking, you can serve this gourmet fare during the game.

    If not, call the Grand Central Oyster Bar for lunch or dinner reservations: 1.212.490.6650. The eight-oyster combination is $22.35 with beverages extra.

     

    Wellfleet-Mass-230r

    Game on: Will these Wellfleet oysters from Massachusetts best the Skookums from Washington? Photo courtesy J.P.’s Shellfish.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pizza & Beer Flight

    pizza-beer-flight-bowery-st.com-230r

    Enjoy different beers with your pizza. Photo courtesy Delancey Hollywood.

     

    Why don’t all pizza restaurants offer a beer tasting flight?

    Delancey Hollywood has it right: a tasting of four different beers to enjoy with your pizza.

    If you can’t make it to Hollywood, create the concept at home. How about debuting it during the Super Bowl?

    Since most people don’t want to consume four entire beers with a pizza, buy plastic tumblers for shorter pours.

    The biggest challenge is what beers to offer. You can do a tasting of four different lagers or other beer types to compare brands, or mix it up: an ale, IPA, lager and stout, for example.

    We’re so into this idea, we’re going to have it for lunch today.

    Now, the second biggest challenge: What type of pizza to order?

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Mashed Potato Stuffed Burger Recipe

    You’re used to fries or potato chips with your burger. But how about mashed potatoes?

    For some food fun, executive chef Craig (Andy) Beardslee of Hash House A Go Go in San Diego suggests a layer of Parmesan mashed potatoes between two eight-ounce burgers. This one-pound burger with mashed potatoes is not quite Paula Deen (who famously sandwiched a burger, fried egg and bacon between Krispy Kreme donuts), but it’s fun.

    About the name: It’s not really a potato-stuffed burger. It’s more of a potato-layered burger; otherwise, the potatoes would be stuffed inside the burger patties. As in recipe ingredients, in naming, strive for accuracy!

    We like onion with our burger; so when we tried this recipe, we added thinly sliced green onions (scallions) to the mashed potatoes. We also mashed the potatoes with basil oil, and on another occasion with truffle oil. Both are inspired choices, with or without the Parmesan cheese.

    RECIPE: MASHED POTATO STUFFED BURGERS

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

     

    mashed-potatoStuffed-burger-IdahoPotCom-230

    Mashed potato stuffed burger: Just in time for Super Bowl supping. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

  • 2 8-ounce ground prime beef patties
  • 6 ounces mashed potatoes with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese, griddled
  • 2 bread and butter plank pickles
  • 2 tomato slices
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 red onion slices
  • 2 applewood-smoked bacon strips
  • 1 ciabatta or sesame bun
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the mashed potatoes on a griddle in a pancake shape. Brown and turn.

    2. LAYER the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles on bottom bun. Top with one beef patty.

    3. LAY on a mound of griddled mashed potatoes and add 2 strips cooked bacon. Top with the second beef patty, then the top half of the bun.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Heart Shaped Valentine Desserts

    You’ve got time to plan a special heart-shaped Valentine dessert. We cruised through Amazon.com and found these heart-shaped pans and molds for inspiration:

  • Heart-shaped bundt pan
  • Heart-shaped cakelet pan, three-tiered individual cakes and more
  • Heart-shaped 9″ cake pan
  • Heart-shaped 10″ cake pan
  • Heart-shaped donut pan
  • Heart-shaped foil baking cups for cupcakes or custard
  • Heart-shaped giant cookie pan
  • Heart-shaped mini muffin pan
  • Heart-shaped springform pan for cheesecake
  • Heart-shaped tube pan for angel food or sponge cakes
  • Heart-shaped whoopie pie pan
  •  
    HEART SHAPES FOR BREAKFAST

  • Heart-shaped egg poacher
  • Heart-shaped rings for fried eggs
  • Heart-shaped pancake pan
  •    

    heart-bundt-nordicware-230

    It’s easy to make this elaborately-shaped Valentine bundt cake: No decorating required! Photo courtesy Nordicware.

     

    heart-whoopie-pan-wilton-230

    Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make Valentine shortbread, or get a whoopie pie mold to create something even more special. Photo courtesy Wilton.

     

    Of course, you could simply grab the heart-shaped cookie cutter you already have, roll out cookie dough, and bake them plain. You could dip them in melted chocolate or add Valentine confetti or sprinkles.

    Or, you could yield to the temptation of whoopie pies, pick up this heart-shaped whoopie pie pan, and create memories.

    If you’re steering clear of desserts, even on Valentine’s Day, how about some heart-shaped ice cubes for your cocktail or glass of water? You can add some red food color to tint them pink.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: An Ice Cream Cake For National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

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    Celebrate National Strawberry Ice Cream Day! Photo courtesy Waitrose.

     

    January 15th is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. We love this easy strawberry ice cream cake adapted from British upscale grocery giant Waitrose. The company has a royal warrant to supply groceries, wine and spirits to Queen Elizabeth II and to Prince Charles.

    In this recipe, shortbread cookies substitute for the cake; but if you prefer, you can substitute finely cubed pound cake. You also can use strawberry ice cream instead of the vanilla.

    This dessert is also spot-on for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and summer celebrations. Prep time is 15 minutes plus several hours or overnight for freezing.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE ICE CREAM “CAKE”

    Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1 pint strawberries, washed, patted dry and hulled
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream
  • 7 ounces all butter shortbread cookies, broken into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons caramel sauce (or fudge sauce if you prefer)
  • Optional garnish: caramel sauce or strawberry purée
  •  
    Preparation

    1. THINLY SLICE 4 of the strawberries and roughly chop the remainder. Line a loaf pan with a double layer of plastic wrap, allowing for some overhang. Arrange the sliced strawberries on the bottom (it will become the top when unmolded).

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP the ice cream using a large knife, then mix it with the chopped strawberries and the shortbread pieces. Spoon half of the mixture into the loaf pan, patting down firmly so there are no air bubbles.

    3. DOT the caramel sauce on top of the ice cream, then cover with the remainder of the mixture, firmly smoothing over the surface. Fold over the overhanging plastic wrap and place the pan in the freezer for several hours or overnight, until the ice cream very firm.

    4. TO SERVE: Gently lift out the ice cream using the plastic wrap as handles, and remove the plastic wrap. Allow to soften for 10–15 minutes as needed; then cut slices with a large knife.

    5. PLATE the slices with an optional drizzle or dotting (use a squeeze bottle to create dots around the rim of the plate) of caramel sauce or strawberry purée.

     
    More than 5,000 recipes can be found at Waitrose.com/recipes.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Sundried Tomato Scones

    A cold day like today is a good reason to heat up the oven and bake something to enjoy warm. Thanks to Archana Ramesh of the blog Svaad for this recipe.

    Castelvetrano olives are not only delicious and one of our favorite varieties; they’re the brightest green olives. So these “red and green” scones are a nice recipe to remember for the holiday season. If you prefer black olives (or no olives), substitute accordingly.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes. Find more of Archana’s recipes at Svaad.Wordpress.com.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat or multigrain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small clove garlic
  •    

    SONY DSC

    Warm from the oven: sundried tomato and olive scones. Photo ©Archana Ramesh.

  • 2 tablespoons milk (plus more if needed for consistency)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped Castelvetrano olives, pitted
  •  

     

    bellasunluci-julienne-bag-230

    Keep a bag of julienned Bella Sun Luci tomatoes in the pantry to add to any number of dishes. Photo courtesy Mooney Farms.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX the flour with the salt, sundried tomatoes and garlic. Chop the olives and put add them to the mix.

    2. CUT the cold butter into this flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives, until its all crumbly.

    3. ADD the milk slowly, mixing until the dry mix turns into a dough. If the dough is too sticky, add some olive oil.

    4. SPREAD the dough onto a baking sheet. Using a pizza cutter, cut into triangles. (You can also make specialty shapes with cookie cutter.)

    5. BAKE at 425°F for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops turn amber. Serve hot, plain or with butter or other spread.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Eggnog French Toast

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    Eggnog French toast looks like the regular kind, but packs a punch of extra flavor. Photo courtesy Spice Islands.

     

    Save some of tonight’s eggnog for tomorrow’s French Toast. Eggnog is substituted for the milk that’s normally beaten with the eggs.

    With this recipe, from Taste Of Home, prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    For an even eggier flavor, use challah or brioche instead of conventional bread.

    RECIPE: EGGNOG FRENCH TOAST

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups eggnog
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or rum extract
  • 20 to 26 slices of bread, depending on desired portion size
  • Optional garnish: confectioners’ sugar, berries
  • Maple syrup
  • Preparation

    1. BEAT the eggs, eggnog, sugar and extract in a bowl. Soak the bread in the mixture for 2 minutes per side.

    2. COOK on a greased hot griddle until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

    3. DUST with confectioners’ sugar if desired, and serve with syrup and optional berries.

     
      

    Comments

    NEW YEAR: Consider Better-For-You Resolutions

    Before making New Year’s resolutions, plan ahead. Start by reminding yourself that the stats are bleak. Some surveys indicate that only 8% of people who set New Year’s resolutions stick to them.

    In a recent poll conducted by ORC International for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Americans said that some of the more challenging resolutions to keep include:

  • Losing a significant amount of weight, or approximately 30+ pounds (86% of responders)
  • Going to the gym regularly, or approximately 3+ times per week (68%)
  • Giving up dessert completely (66%)
  •  
    Rather than going all-in with high-demand resolutions, set smaller, more realistic goals for yourself, say the experts. Poll respondents indicated that the following resolutions are easier to stick to:

  • Spending more time with family (79%)
  • Eating more healthy foods (72%)
  • Paying off credit cards (52%)
  •    

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    A “super” skim milk tastes like 2%, but still has 0A% fat. Photo courtesy Farmland Dairy.

     

    Case in point: We’d resolved to lose weight every year for decades. Like most inveterate dieters, sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t; but it always found its way back.

    Twelve years ago, we switched our strategy to healthier eating. Each year, we resolved to make one better-for-you switch. And it’s easy!

    Our switches to date follow, with the disclaimer: We’d never hold ourself up as a paragon of good eating. Our job is to taste lots of food, including the sugar laden and the fat laden. But we do feel good that we’ve made one of these swaps every year, and have never once felt deprived.

     

    whole-wheat-everything-bagel-230

    Whole wheat instead of refined white flour is another easy switch. We love a Whole Wheat Everything bagel. Photo courtesy Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company.

     
  • Bloody Marys, Martinis or on the rocks drinks for sweet cocktails. After we realized the sugar levels in most cocktails, we’d rather have ice cream and drink alcohol with no sugar added.
  • Brown rice for white rice. We’re big sushi eaters, and try to patronize restaurants that offer the brown rice option.
  • Cheese for cheese less often. We had a daily craving for fine cheese, and we could eat half a pound at a sitting, eight times the recommended portion, eight times the calories and cholesterol. We had no interest in reduced-fat cheeses. Instead, we opted for a “eat all the cheese you want” day once a month.
  • Club soda for diet soda. After reading scientific studies on the impact of artificial sweeteners on the endocrine system, we bought a SodaStream and drink lots of club soda with wedges of citrus.
  • Fish and tofu for red meat. We made this choice not because of cholesterol, but to do our small part to save the environment from the ravages of raising meat.
  • Fresh fruit every day. It really helps cut down on the yen for cookies and other processed sugar. In the winter months, there are plenty of apples, bananas, grapefruit, oranges and strawberries. In the summer months, we revel in the explosion of choices.
  •  

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt for sour cream. We had a bad sour cream habit—we could eat it from the container with a big spoon. Now, we eat plain Greek yogurt and use it instead of sour cream—with cottage cheese and other foods. It’s so thick that we even use it as a bread spread, instead of cream cheese.
  • Oatmeal and other whole grain cereals. So long, Corn Flakes and Snap, Crackle and Pop. Our breakfast cereals now focus on whole grain oatmeal and Cheerios. (We discovered that, while corn is a whole grain, the manufacturing process used to make Corn Flakes over-processes the corn to the point where little fiber is left.) A trick for enjoying our favorite oatmeal, steel cut oats, daily: Instead of spending 30 minutes stirring every day, cook a large batch on Sunday and reheat a portion each morning.
  • Olive oil instead of butter. From sautéeing to bread dipper, heart-healthy olive oil is our go-to fat. We did compromise on baking, however. We love the buttery taste of olive oil in brownies, cookies and cakes. On the other hand, an Italian-style olive oil cake works.
  • Salad every day, no matter what. We love a big salad, but some days our food journey doesn’t lead us to one. We now have a Plan B: Snacks of crudités (raw vegetables). It’s easy to carry baby carrots around, and we pay extra for ready-to-eat broccoli and cauliflower florets so we have no excuse.
  • “Super skim milk” for regular skim, 1%, 2% or whole milk. We can drink two glasses of milk a day. We got rid of the whole milk and the half and half for “super” skim milk, a premium variety that removes more of the water so that the 0% fat milk actually resembles 2% (and has more protein as a result). Our local Farmland Dairy makes Skim Plus brand, which became so popular that it is now also made in variations with added Omega 3 or added fiber.
  • Whole wheat for white flour. Whether in bread, bagels or pasta, this was a surprisingly easy switch. We only miss the taste of white flour in pizza crusts, and pizza isn’t something we eat often.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tiramisu Cocktail

    The popular Italian dessert tiramisu is typically composed of layers of sponge or ladyfingers, soaked in espresso liqueur; then layered with a mascarpone cheese and custard mixture; then dusted with cocoa or shaved chocolate.

    Those jonesing for a rich and creamy tiramisu dessert can now quickly mix up an easy Tiramisu Cocktail, with this recipe from Frangelico hazelnut liqueur. It seems especially festive for New Year’s Eve.

    RECIPE: TIRAMISU COCKTAIL

    Ingredients

  • Frangelico
  • Vodka
  • Irish cream liqueur
  • Cold espresso or espresso liqueur
  • Ice
  • Garnish: grated chocolate*
  •  


    Drink your tiramisu. Photo courtesy Frangelico.

     

    Preparation

    1. Mix equal parts Frangelico, vodka and Irish cream liqueur in a shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled Martini glass.

    2. TOP with espresso and garnish with chocolate. Alternatively, before pouring the drink, set the chocolate shavings in a saucer to make a glass rimmer. Wet the rim 1/4 deep by dipping in a shallow bowl of water; then twist the glass in the shavings.

    3. SERVE. Be prepared for refill requests.

     
    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes.
     
    *We grate a chocolate bar with a Microplane grater. You can use whatever grater you have.

      

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