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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 Valentine’s Day

FOOD FUN: Bacon Rose Bouquet Recipe

Mom gets flowers for Mother’s Day; perhaps Dad would prefer a bacon bouquet. It’s easy to make 12 long-stemmed bacon roses.

Here’s a video from the National Pork Board that shows how to make bacon roses.
 
RECIPE: BACON ROSES

Ingredients For 12 Bacon Roses

  • 12 strips of bacon
  • 24 toothpicks
  • 12 stems from plastic roses*
  • Glass vase (or pitcher)
  • Optional: red ribbon
  •  
    *Get 12 fabric or plastic roses on plastic stems from the craft store. You have to remove the flowers, but typically, they snap off so you can wash the stems and use them again. After you remove the flower, wash the top of the stem before adding the bacon roses.

     

    bacon-bouquet-porkbeinspired-230

    It’s easy to make this tasty bacon rose bouquet. Find more recipes at PorkBeInspired.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. UNWRAP the bacon and gently separate the slices. Roll each into a bacon rosebud.

    2. INSERT two toothpicks to hold each bud in place. Place the buds on a wire rack over a pan and bake at 400°F for 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

    3. MOUNT a bacon bud at the top of each stem and place the stems into a vase. Tie the ribbon around the vase. Present to the happy dad.

     
    ALTERNATIVE: SEND A JERKY BOUQUET

    A turnkey alternative to making bacon roses is to send a delicious beef jerky bouquet—12 long-stemmed pieces of jerky—from GaryWest.com.

    Wrapped decoratively in red tissue and delivered in a traditional flower box, the steak bouquet is $42.00, with a choice of flavors: Traditional, Black Pepper Cajun and Teriyaki.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Rocky Road Truffles

    Today is National Rocky Road Day. The original Rocky Road was an ice cream flavor invented in 1929 by William Dryer. He chose the name to describe the bumpy appearance of ice cream packed with chocolate, marshmallows and walnuts. Since the Great Depression began in October of that year, it was also a tongue-and-cheek reference.

    Pastry chef and cookbook author Emily Luchetti has taken Dryer’s original flavor profile and added her own twist, to make Rocky Road Truffles, developed for the California Walnut Board.

    Chocolate ganache surrounds walnuts and marshmallows, with a light dusting of cocoa powder. The truffles melt in your mouth.

    Make them for a family treat or for a special occasion like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day. The truffles can be made a week in advance. The better quality the chocolate, the tastier the truffles. (We used a Valrhona chocolate bar.)
     
    RECIPE: ROCKY ROAD TRUFFLES

    Ingredients For 30 One-Inch Truffles

     

    Here, the rocky road is welcome. Photo courtesy California Walnut Board.

  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup mini marshmallows cut in half (use scissors)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or chocolate bar chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WARM the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until hot and bubbling around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Swirl the pan lightly so the chocolate is covered by the cream. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

    2. WHISK occasionally until the mixture is at room temperature. Then stir in the marshmallows, walnuts and milk chocolate chips. Spread the chocolate cream in a 9-inch pan or pie plate. Refrigerate until hard, at least 1 hour.

    3. PLACE a heaping teaspoon for each truffle in a single layer on a pan. Refrigerate until hard.

    4. PUT the cocoa powder on a plate or in a small bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. One at a time, place the chocolate balls in the cocoa powder. Dust your palms with cocoa powder and lightly roll the truffles between your palms until round. (The cocoa powder keeps them from sticking to your hands.) Finally, roll the round truffles in the the cocoa powder. (If at any point the chocolate gets too warm and the truffles become difficult to roll, refrigerate the chocolate for 30 minutes until it firms up.)

    5. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve. For gifting, you can wrap the truffles up in tissue paper and tie the bundle with a ribbon.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Berry Croissants

    croissant-fruit-cheese-castelloUSA-230

    Berry croissants: a yummy idea. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     

    For Sunday brunch or afternoon tea*, here’s a fun alternative to a chocolate croissant that provides another reason to enjoy seasonal berries.

    RECIPE: BERRY CROISSANTS

    Ingredients

  • Croissants
  • Berries: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or a mix
  • Mascarpone, fresh chèvre (goat cheese—look especially for the honey chèvre at Trader Joe’s), cream cheese or other spreadable cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPLIT the croissant and spread the bottom half with cheese.

    2. ADD the berries, whole or sliced, depending on size.

     
    Thanks to Castello USA for the idea (they used blue cheese).

     
    *Who has afternoon tea, you say? Well, THE NIBBLE is a far cry from Downtown Abbey, but we serve afternoon tea daily. Not everyone drinks tea, but it’s our chance to sample some of the many foods that arrive at our doorstep—baked goods, candy, jam, crackers, cheese, pâté and so forth—including coffee, tea and other beverages. If you want to serve a proper afternoon tea, here’s how.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Oysters & Pearls

    The great chef Thomas Keller, inventor of “Oysters and Pearls,” created a splendid first course with fresh-shucked oysters in a pearl tapioca sabayon, garnished with osetra caviar (today it’s domestic white sturgeon caviar, due to import restrictions).

    Here’s a video, here’s the recipe).

    Keller’s inspiration was a box on tapioca pearls he noticed on a shelf. He turned the tapioca into something savory instead of the conventional sweet pudding, thinking “Where do pearls come from? Oysters.”

    The iconic dish came together just like that.

    While we can’t get enough of Oysters and Pearls, here’s an easier take on the dish that you can make for Mother’s Day or other special occasion.

     

    pearls-in-oysters-chalkpointkitchen-230sq

    An easy version of “Oysters and Pearls.” Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen | NYC.

     
    You can serve as many oysters on a plate as you like: a minimum three, up to a dozen oysters on the half shell if your guests are like Diamond Jim Brady.

    Serve this course with a dry white wine or saké.
     
    RECIPE: OYSTERS & PEARLS

    Ingredients

  • Oysters on the half shell
  • Seaweed or microgreens
  • Salmon caviar (vegan option finger lime pearls)
  • Yuzu or rice wine vinaigrette
  • Optional: halved cherry or grape tomatoes, lime wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRESS the seaweed with some yuzu or rice wine vinaigrette so it can be eaten as a salad.

    2. CREATE a seaweed bed on each serving plate, topped with the oysters.

    3. TOP each oyster with pearls of caviar. Decorate the plate with the cherry tomatoes and lime wedge.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cherry Cheesecake With Chocolate Glaze

    chocolate-cherry-cheesecake-bettycrocker-230

    Cherry cheesecake with chocolate accents.
    Photo and recipe courtesy Betty Crocker.

     

    Next in our choice of cherry recipes for Washington’s Birthday (February 22nd) is a cherry cheesecake with a twist: a chocolate crust and chocolate glaze.

    Prep time for this Betty Crocker recipe is just 35 minutes, plus another 5 hours and 50 minutes for baking and chilling.

    You can make this recipe ahead of time and freeze it. To do so, first bake the cheesecake; cool and glaze. Freeze it until the glaze is set. Then wrap it tightly and freeze it for up to 1 month. Before serving, unwrap and thaw the cheesecake in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.

    Make it again on April 23rd, National Cherry Cheesecake Day.

    RECIPE: CHERRY CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

    Ingredients For The Crust

  • 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 can or jar (21 ounces) cherry pie filling—or make your own with the recipe below
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. In medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients; mix well. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 10-inch springform pan.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sugar and almond extract until smooth. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream; blend well.

    3. SPOON 3-1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture into crust-lined pan, spreading evenly. Carefully spoon 1 cup of the pie filling evenly overthe cream cheese layer (reserve remaining pie filling for the topping). Spoon the remaining cream cheese mixture evenly over the pie filling.

    4. BAKE for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until the center is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour.

    5. MAKE the glaze: In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup whipping cream to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate chips until melted.

    6. LINE a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Remove the side of the springform pan. Place the cheesecake on the paper-lined cookie sheet. Spread the glaze over the cooled cheesecake, allowing some to flow down the side.

    7. REFRIGERATE at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve topped with the remaining pie filling.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN CHERRY PIE FILLING

    Some brands of pie filling are distinctly better than others. A safe bet is to pick up an organic brand. The extra cost is worth it.

    For a luxury experience, we use a jar of sour cherry pie filling from Chukar Cherries (it’s $14.95).

    But if your discriminating palate doesn’t like any canned cherry filling, it’s easy to make your own with just 20 minutes of prep time, and 1 hour 10 minutes of cook time.

    RECIPE: CHERRY PIE FILLING

    Ingredients For An 8-Inch Pie

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen tart (Montmorency) cherries; or canned cherries in water (see photo at right)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 tablespoon almond extract (optional)
  •  

    oregon-specialty-fruit-red-tart-cherries-230

    Make your own cherry filling with fresh or frozen cherries, or canned cherries in water. Photo courtesy Oregon Specialty Fruit.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cherries in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer. After the cherries lose considerable juice (several minutes—stir occasionally), remove from the heat.

    2. COMBINE in a small bowl the sugar and cornstarch. Pour into the hot cherries and combine thoroughly. Add the almond extract and stir. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water. It it’s too thin, add a bit more cornstarch.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Drink Pink

    chandon-rose-bottle-glasses-230

    Chandon California Rosé is a sparkling rosé wine that’s less than half the price ($24) of a French rosé Champagne. The company also makes Sparkling Red from Zinfandel ($30), Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé ($35) and Etoile Rosé ($50). Photo courtesy Chandon.

     

    Heading out to the liquor store to pick up a bottle for Valentine’s Day? Here are some tips:

    Don’t purchase a vintage year Champagne. Vintage champagnes typically need to be laid down for 10 or 15 years to reveal their glorious nuances. Knowledgeable people who buy them don’t plan to drink them anytime soon. Instead, you’ll save money and have a better taste experience with nonvintage Champagne.

    Do look for rosé Champagne, as “real” pink-hued Champagne is called. Fuller in body with a deeper flavor, it’s our personal favorite. (It’s also pricier due to the extra steps required to extract the pink color. Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé is a beauty, with the greater roundness that rosé Champagnes have. It’s priced in between the nonvintage and vintage Taittingers, around $65.00.

    Don’t buy anything called “Pink Champagne.” It is not French but inexpensive wine, carbonated and colored pink. Authentic rosé Champagne (and other natural rosé wines) get their color by extracting it from the grape skins into the white juice.

    Do look for non-Champagne rose sparklers. Two of our favorites: [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy. Both are not much more than $10 a bottle, but don’t let the price fool you. They’re delicious! Another favorite, Chandon Rosé, from California is about $22.00.

     
    If you want Champagne with dessert, look for a sec- or demi-sec Champagne*. These are vinified for sweeter foods (i.e., extra dosage is added for sweetness). Brut Champagnes are not vinified to pair with desserts, and will seem too astringent if you drink them with sweeter foods. Sec Champagnes also go well with foods that typically pair with sweeter wines, such as foie gras, lobster and double-creme/triple creme cheeses (our idea of a perfect meal).

    If you don’t want sparkling wine, buy rosé, a pink still wine.

    MORE VALENTINE WINE IDEAS

    Here are some of our favorite Valentine wines.

    More of our favorite rosé Champagnes.

    Whatever is in your glass, have a delicious Valentine’s Day.

     
    *While sec means “dry” in French and demi-sec means “half dry,” as the terms refer to Champagne, they indicates sweetness.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Valentine Cake

    If time has gotten away from you and you haven’t picked up a special treat for the family, here’s a trick from one of our favorite New York bakeries, BakedNYC.

    Buy a plain, iced store-bought cake and add your own decorating touch. It combines store-bought with “homemade.”

    While you can buy a Valentine cake at any supermarket, most have tacky plastic decorations. You can do a much nicer job by adding your own delicious decorations to a plain frosted cake.

  • Sprinkles. Your supermarket may have Valentine sprinkles (a mix of red, pink and white) or heart-shaped sprinkle decorations. If not, get bottles of plain red and white sprinkles.
  • Candies. Or, head to the candy section for chocolate foil hearts, Conversation Hearts, pink and red jelly beans, Hershey’s kisses, red hots or anything else that fits in with the theme.
  • Fresh fruit. How about chocolate-dipped strawberries or raspberries? Here’s how to dip your own. Otherwise, add them plain. If you have enough, dot them around the rim. Otherwise, you can place them in the center.
  •  

    white-layer-valentine-cake-bakenyc-230

    Add your own decorating touch to a plain iced cake. Photo courtesy BakedNYC.

  • Rim garnish. At a minimum, add a rim of garnish to the top of the cake. Sprinkles or Red Hots work well.
  • Base garnish. To go all-out, place Hershey’s Kisses (you can leave the festive foil on), conversation hearts or chocolate foil hearts around the base, instead of the piped frosting shown in the photo.
  •  

    BAKING YOUR OWN CAKE

    If you want to bake, you don’t need to make layers. Buy a box of cake mix (chocolate, red velvet, white or yellow) and toss a bundt cake, loaf cake or single-layer mini sheet cake into the oven.

    About the icing:

    The bakery section of your supermarket may sell tubs of buttercream (CK Products makes it). It’s not as good as homemade, but it’s far better than canned frosting.

    Or, take 10 minutes to make real buttercream. All you need is a stick of butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 ounces chocolate or 1 teaspoon instant coffee. Just blend them together and ice away!

    Here’s the recipe.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE RECIPE: Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake

    choc-rasp-bundt-cake-annalise-goboldwithbutter-230

    Chocolate and raspberries are a match made
    in heaven. Photo courtesy Annalise | Completely Celicious.

     

    Here’s another delicious Valentine recipe from Annalise of Completely Delicious, sent to us via GoBoldWithButter.com.

    Everyone thinks they’re getting a conventional chocolate cake, until slicing it reveals the raspberry surprise. This combination of chocolate and fresh raspberries in a buttery Bundt cake is a match made in heaven (just like you and your Valentine?).

    The raspberries blend into the cake as it bakes, creating little bursts of bright flavor to contrast with the rich chocolate.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY BUNDT CAKE

    Ingredients For A 9-Inch Cake

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • Garnish: powdered sugar
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream*
  • Optional garnish: fresh raspberries
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch bundt pan.

    2. COMBINE the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda in medium bowl. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing after each, and stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping down bowl as needed.

    3. SPOON the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the raspberries on top (they will sink as the cake bakes). Bake 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs.

    4. LET the cake cool completely in the pan, then turn out onto a plate or cake stand. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with whipped cream and additional raspberries.

     
    *For more raspberry flavor, add a tablespoon of Chambord or other raspberry liqueur into the whipped cream.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Ravioli With Pan Roasted Tomatoes

    This recipe from is easy and inviting for Valentine’s Day. It’s from blogger Annalise of Completely Delicious, via GoBoldWithButter.com.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: RAVIOLI WITH PAN ROASTED TOMATOES

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  •  
    Preparation

     

    ravioli-tomatoes-annalise-goboldwithbutter-230

    An easy Valentine dinner. Photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter.

     
    1. BRING a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the ravioli according to package instructions. Drain.

    2. MELT the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, while the ravioli are cooking. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook the tomatoes until their skins split, about 4-6 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes to rotate tomatoes.

    3. ADD the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the drained ravioli and toss with the tomatoes until combined.

    4. GARNISH with basil and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Dark Cherry Fizz With Sparkling Wine

    The Dark Cherry Fizz in a coupe glass. Photo courtesy Chandon.

     

    For Valentine’s Day, here’s a charming cocktail from Chandon, one of our favorite affordable sparkling wine makers. It uses cherry purée and crème de mûre, blackcurrant (not blackberry!) liqueur.

    It may sound fusty in the U.S., but in France, where we first discovered it, crème de mûre is a popular fruit liqueur. The flavor is heavenly, drunk straight as a yummy after-dinner drink or used instead of framboise (raspberry liqueur) in a variation of a Kir Royale.

    Crème de mûre (pronounced pronounce: krem duh MYUR) is one of the family of crème liqueurs (crème de cacao, crème de menthe and crème de cassis, for example).

    Not to be confused with cream liqueur, in which dairy cream is added, crème liqueur is sweetened to a near-syrup consistency. In this case, “crème” refers to that consistency.

    Consider a bottle of crème de mûre as a Valentine gift; and if you’re feeling flush, add a bottle of Champagne or other sparkling wine.

     
    If you want to make this recipe without buying a new bottle of liqueur, you can substitute creme de cassis (currant liqueur) or framboise (Chambord is a brand of framboise).

    RECIPE: DARK CHERRY FIZZ

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 ounces Chandon Blanc de Noirs* or substitute sparkling wine
  • 1/3 ounce crème de mûre
  • 1/2 ounce cherry purée (make it from frozen cherries)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the cherries. No sweetener is necessary, as the liqueur is quite sweet.

    2. COMBINE the liqueur and cherry purée in a shaker; shake and double strain into a coupe glass. (If you don’t have a shaker, you can blend the ingredients in whatever is convenient. If you don’t have a coupe glass, use what you have.)

    3. TOP with the sparkling wine.

     
    *Blanc de Noirs means “white from black,” referring to the white wine that is produced from black (dark) Pinot Noir grapes. Its counterpart is Blanc de Blancs, a white wine produced from white (Chardonnay) grapes. Blanc de Noirs is richer and fuller-bodied.
     
      

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