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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 The Nibble

TIP OF THE DAY: Seasonal Cider

Angry-orchard-elderflower-carton-230

Get it before it disappears from the shelves.
Photo courtesy Angry Orchard Cider
Company.

 

This may well be your last weekend to pick up seasonal summer hard ciders, before producers replace them with fall blends.

We received a shipment of Angry Orchard Elderflower Hard Cider, and have been saving it to serve this weekend.

Elderflower is a flower that in homeopathy as well as in cooking. The white berries are used to flavor jam and other cooked fruit; the tiny white flower blossoms are distilled into liqueur (elderflower cordial was enjoyed in ancient Rome), which in turn can be added to recipes.

We love the flavor of elderflower, which reminds us of lychee. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is a favorite that we like to serve to guests, especially mixed with sparkling wine.

Now, for the first time, elderflower been added to cider, by Angry Orchard.
 
*ABV means alcohol by volume.

 
The cider is made with a combination of domestic bittersweet and culinary apples†. The apples are shredded and the pulp is pressed into juice. Wine yeast is added and the juice is fermented, then wood aged. Elderflower and other natural flavors are added before bottling.

The finished product is pale yellow and 5% ABV*. Open the bottle and an apple aroma wafts up, along with elderflower floral.

Light and refreshing, the flavors of crisp apple marry with the elderflower to produce semi-dry sweetness with a bit of tartness. The cider pairs nicely with smoked salmon, braised pork and a fresh berry dessert.

You can also mix it into cocktails. Here are two from Hayley Jensen, a mixologist at Taproom No. 307 in New York City,

 
†Bittersweet apples are not edible, but do very nicely when fermented into cider. Culinary apples are the varieties we eat.

 

RECIPE: ORCHARD SPRITZER

This drink is versatile: You can kick it up a notch with two ounces of any white liquor: cachaça, gin, rum, tequila or vodka.

Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 ounces lychee juice/purée
  • 4 ounces Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider
  • Optional: 2 shots white spirit
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR both over ice into a pint glass. Stir and serve.
     
    RECIPE: ANGRY ELDERBERRY MOJITO

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 blueberries
  • 4 mint leaves, plus more for optional garnish
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 ounce white rum
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bottle) Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider
  • 4 slices strawberry
  •  

    rosy-cooler-cocktail-230

    Mix up a beertail or a cocktail. Photo courtesy Angry Orchard Cider Company.

     

    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE berries and mint in a pint glass. Fill glass with ice. Add rum and cider.

    2. POUR into mixing cup and stir. Pour back into pint glass and garnish with strawberry and mint leaves.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Tropical Fruit Skewers

    Here’s something special for Labor Day weekend: Turn grilled fruit into tropical fruit skewers. Thanks to Melissas.com, purveyors of premium produce, for the recipe.

    We’ve also got dessert shots to go with the fruit: delicious coconut- or banana-flavored rum from Blue Chair Bay.

    RECIPE: GRILLED TROPICAL FRUIT SKEWERS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large ripe papaya, peeled seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 firm ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
  • Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons dried coconut chips
  •  

    mango-papaya-kabobs-melissas-230

    Grilled fruit skewers topped with coconut chips. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     
    Variation: Pineapple is also a tropical fruit. Feel free to add some.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the brown sugar, orange juice and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add the cubes of mango, papaya and bananas, tossing gently to coat thoroughly.

    2. THREAD the fruit onto skewers alternating the fruits.

    3. GRILL over a medium hot barbeque or hibachi for approximately 4-5 minutes per side. You can also use a grill pan or broiler. Be sure to watch closely so the fruit does not burn.

    4. REMOVE to a serving plate and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavored Shots

    blue-chair-bay-banana-rum-230

    Delicious by the shot: No mixers needed!
    Photo courtesy Blue Chair Bay Rum.

     

    While spiced rum has been around since the 1940s*, the more modern trend of flavored spirits began with vodka in the 1980s.

    The first flavored vodka, that inspired scores of other flavors, was Absolut Peppar, in 1986. Absolut Citron followed in 1988, and then the floodgates opened as Stolichnaya and other brands created their own versions. Absolut has launched 17 different flavors†; and newer brands like Pinnacle, Three Olives and Van Gogh focus only on flavored vodkas.

    Flavored tequilas arrived more quietly—first chile and coffee flavors and now, vodka-style, they’re branching out to fruit (we’re fond of El Jimador’s new Mango Mango and Mexican Lime).

    While the distillers of these flavored spirits provide plenty of cocktail recipes and expect bloggers and mixologists to develop many more, the plain truth is that they are delicious as shots.

    So today’s tip is: Enjoy flavored shots as you relax over the weekend (in moderation, of course).

    This weekend, we’ll be serving two tropical flavors from Blue Chair Bay, a brand created by singer Kenny Chesney. The line has four expressions: Banana Rum, Coconut Rum, Coconut Spiced Rum and White Rum (plain).

     
    At 53 proof (as opposed to 80 proof or higher with conventional rum and other spirits), Blue Chair Bay Rum is made for sipping straight. All three flavors are delicious, but as an avid fan of the Piña Colada, the Banana Rum captured our fantasy. It’s rum with caramelized banana flavor, but you’ll also find hints of coconut and plenty of sweetness.

     
    *The Levy brothers, pharmacists in Kingston, Jamaica, created the original recipe for aged spiced rum in the 1940s. The brand was purchased by Seagram’s (now Diageo) and marketed as Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. The spices include cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The original Levy recipe also included medicinal herbs.

    †Absolut flavors, in order of launch: Peppar, Citron, Kurant, Mandrin, Vanilia, Raspberri, Apeach, Ruby Red, Pears, Mango, Berry Açaí, Wild Tea, Orient Apple, Grapevine, Cherrykran, Hibiskus and Cilantro. Note that flavored vodkas have been home-infused in Russia and elsewhere for centuries; but Absolut was the first flavored vodka sold commercially in the U.S.

     

    IF YOU REALLY WANT A COCKTAIL…

    Blue Chair Bay enlisted the help of selected bloggers to create recipes, which they sent to us along with a sample of the rum.

    This ice cream cocktail, from The Blond Cook, can substitute for dessert:

    RECIPE: SPICED BANANA CREAM COCKTAIL, A DESSERT
    COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 4 Drinks

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into about 1″ chunks
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut (e.g. Coco Lopez)
  • 1 cup Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum
  • Optional garnish: banana chips or flaked/shaved coconut
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

    2. GARNISH and serve with a straw.

     

    spiced-banana-cream-theblondcoook-230

    Enjoy this one for dessert. Photo courtesy TheBlondCook.com.

     
    If you’d like some chocolate in your cocktail, try this one from ThePinkFlour.com:

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BANANA COCONUT COLADA

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 1/2 cup chocolate milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  • 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup
  • Optional: chocolate cookies on the side
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour and serve. For dessert, serve with chocolate cookies.
     
     
    Here’s something very creamy from ANightOwlBlog.com. Note that while it’s called a Martini, there’s nothing Martini about it (serving something in a Martini glass does not a Martini make).

    RECIPE: COCONUT CREAM MARTINI

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • 2 ounce half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional rim garnish: honey and coconut flakes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the rum, half and half and vanilla over ice in a shaker; shake to blend.

    2. DIP the rim of the Martini glass in honey and then in coconut flakes for garnish. Add rum blend and serve.
     
    You can find more delicious recipes at BlueChairBayRum.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Russian Iced Coffee

    russian-iced-coffee-delonghi-230

    In a tall glass or a short one, iced coffee
    lovers will get a kick from this drink. Photo
    courtesy DeLonghi.

     

    For years, we’ve enjoyed Black Russians and White Russians, two venerable vodka-based cocktails. The Black Russian, invented in 1949, combines vodka and coffee liqueur; the subsequent addition of cream created a White Russian.

    Neither cocktail recipe is Russian in origin; the name is an homage to the vodka. Both recipes are below.

    Only recently did we come across this iced coffee version, courtesy of DeLonghi, producer of fine espresso machines.

    To beat the heat, have an iced coffee. To make the day happier, make Russian iced coffee, with a shot of vodka. If you’re not keen on espresso, use regular coffee.

    RECIPE: RUSSIAN ICED COFFEE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce/30 ml espresso coffee
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1 shot vodka
  • Crushed ice
  • Light cream or half and half to taste
  • Optional garnish: sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg, or go over the top with whipped cream
  •  

    You can also use:

  • Coffee-flavored vodka, such as Van Gogh’s Espresso and Double Espresso Vodkas
  • Coffee-flavored tequila, such as Avion Espresso or Patron XO Café
  • Coffee liqueur, like Kahlùa or Tia Maria
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the espresso coffee. Add the sugar and the vodka.

    2. POUR into a glass of crushed ice. Add the cream and stir.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

     

    RECIPE: BLACK RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 once coffee liqueur
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.

    2. For a sweeter drink, add more coffee liqueur.
     

    RECIPE: WHITE RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 once coffee liqueur
  • Heavy cream
  • Ice
  •  

    white-russian-kahlua.com

    A White Russian cocktail. Photo courtesy Kahlùa.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.

    2. TOP with a large splash of heavy cream and stir.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Roasted Cherry Tomato Cups

    roastedtomato-solo-triscuit-230

    Crunchy Triscuit cups. Photo courtesy
    Nabisco.

     

    Just in time for Labor Day lounging, the folks at Triscuit sent us this fun appetizer idea. Who’d have thought of soaking Triscuits to form crunchy cups?

    You can fill the cups with anything, from hummus to artichoke dip; but start with colorful cherry tomatoes and enjoy with a glass of wine or beer.

    Prep time is 25 minutes, total time is 45 minutes. You can find more recipes on the Triscuit website.

    RECIPE: ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO CUPS

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

  • 24 Triscuit Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (recipe follows)
  • 24 tiny sprigs fresh thyme, optional for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

    2. FILL a 9-by-13-inch pan halfway with warm water. Add Triscuit crackers in 2 batches and soak, turning twice until just soft, about 2 minutes, no more than 3 minutes.

    3. OIL two 12 cup or one 24 cup mini muffin tins. Press a softened Triscuit into each cup, pressing and molding any cracks together. Sprinkle each with cheese. Bake until firm and slightly more golden, about 25 minutes. When ready to serve…

    4. FILL each cup with a roasted cherry tomato, and drizzle a little sauce over top of each one. Garnish with thyme and serve immediately.
     

    RECIPE: ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

    Prep time 5 minutes, cook time 40-45 minutes.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Arrange tomatoes and garlic in a non-reactive 9×5-inch baking dish/loaf pan (see note below on non-reactive cookware).

    2. WHISK together olive oil, vinegar, thyme, sugar and salt. Drizzle over tomatoes and garlic.

    3. BAKE until the tomatoes are wilted and caramelized, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool. You can pre-make and store cooled tomatoes and juices in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

    WHAT IS A NON-REACTIVE PAN?

    Cookware can be made of reactive or non-reactive materials. Reactive materials can interact negatively with acidic foods and light-colored foods, and should be avoided in preparing these them.

  • Reactive Pans: Aluminum and copper are two popular cookware metals that conduct heat extremely well, but react chemically with acidic foods, imparting a metallic taste. They also can discolor light-colored foods like soups and sauces. (Metal utensils—spoons or whisks, for example—can also react with these food, so opt for silicone or silicone-coated.)
  •  

    Triscuit_BOX_Rosemary_Olive_Oil-230

    How many different varieties of Triscuit are there? The answer is below. Photo courtesy Nabisco.

  • Most copper pots and pans are lined with tin to prevent any reaction, but the tin can scratch easily and expose the food to the copper underneath. Similarly, anodized aluminum provides some protection; but it’s best to choose a different vessel. Note that while cast-iron is considered reactive, we and our colleagues have cooked tomato-sauce based recipes for years in a heavy cast iron pot, with no problem whatsoever.
  • Non-Reactive Pans: Non-reactive cookware is made from clay (terracotta), enamel, glass, plastic and stainless steel. While they don’t react with food, these materials don’t conduct or retain heat as well as the reactive metals. Stainless steel cookware can be made with an aluminum or copper bottom to better conduct the heat. Glass cookware retains heat well but conducts it poorly. Enamelware is non-reactive but can easily scratch and chip.
  •  
    TRISCUIT TRIVIA

    When you think Triscuit, do you think “shredded wheat?” That’s what they’re made from!

    Now made by Nabisco, Triscuit snack crackers were invented in 1900 at the Shredded Wheat Company of Niagara Falls, New York. They were awarded a patent in 1902, and commercial production began in 1903.

    For their first 20 years, Triscuits were not today’s two-inch squares, but 2-1/4 by 4-inch rectangles. In 1935, the manufacturer began spraying the crackers with oil and adding salt.

    In 1984, new flavors were introduced, and the crackers were made even crisper. We counted 21 varieties:

  • Whole Grain Wheat Line: Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil, Dill & Olive Oil, Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil, Garden Herb, Hint of Salt, Original, Original Minis, Reduced Fat, Rosemary & Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic, Wheat Rye With Caraway Seeds.
  • Brown Rice & Wheat Line: Cinnamon Sugar, Roasted Red Pepper, Roasted Sweet Onion, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Sour Cream & Chives, Sweet Potato & Sea Salt, Tomato & Sweet Basil, BWasabi & Soy Sauce.
  • Thin Crisps Line: Original, Parmesan Garlic.
  •  
    In terms of where you find the supermarket shelf with all of these tempting choices, we know not!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Plum Poppyseed Cake

    plum-poppyseed-cake-goboldwbutter-230

    Old-fashioned and delicious: Plum Poppyseed
    Cake. Photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com.

     

    Poppy seeds or plums: Which is less commonly found in baked goods?

    We don’t have the answer, but our response is: Both should be used more often, starting with this delicious recipe. And don’t tarry: plums are a summer fruit.

    Poppy seeds, obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), have been harvested for thousands of years. The seeds are used, whole or ground, in recipes and are pressed into poppyseed oil.

    Poppy seeds have long been cultivated in the Middle East; the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians farmed them. The Minoans, a Bronze Age civilization on Crete (circa 2700 to 1450 B.C.E.), cultivated poppies as a sleeping aid, and also for their effect on fertility, wealth and the magical power of invisibility. (Gee, how did those work out?) [Source]

    Plums are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Enjoy them as a hand fruit, sliced into green salads or fruit salad, served with cheese, and of course, baked into something sweet. In addition to the recipe below, consider a plum Tatin* or a plum tart with a base of crème pâtissière.

     
    Popular plum cultivars include:

  • Damson plum, with purple or black skin and green flesh
  • Greengage plum, firm green flesh and skin
  • Mirabelle plum, a flavorful dark yellow plum largely grown in northeast France, it’s a banned import†, but you can find them at farmers markets and buy trees to grow your own
  • Satsuma plum, with firm red flesh and red skin
  • Victoria plum, yellow flesh with a red or mottled skin
  • Yellowgage or golden plum, a yellow sibling to the greengage plum
  •  
    *Tarte Tatin is a one-crust fruit pie invented by accident in France in the early 1880s. It is served upside-down; the apples are on the bottom with the crust on top. The Tatin sisters, Caroline and Stéphanie, ran the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, southwest of Paris in the Loire Valley, not far from the town of Chambord. Stéphanie, preparing an apple tart, erroneously put the apples in the pan without the crust underneath. The apples caramelized, the customers loved it and the Tarte Tatin was born. You can adapt this recipe for Quince Tatin.

    †The ban is based no particular reason we could find, but likely has historic roots that are no longer relevant, but remain mired in bureaucracy that no one is motivated to resolve.

     

    This recipe, by Karen of FamilyStyleFood.com for Go Bold With Butter, calls for red plums. While you can use any plum variety, red, and secondly, purple plums, provide the best color. The best color will come from a red plum with red flesh.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 1 hour, 30 minutes

    RECIPE: RED PLUM POPPY SEED CAKE

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 firm-ripe plums, halved, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar
  •  

    damson-plums-230

    Damson plus. Photo courtesy Washington
    State Fruit Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch tube pan.

    2. CREAM butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, using a heavy-duty mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the yogurt and vanilla until combined, scraping down bowl if needed.

    3. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in bowl. Add to the butter mixture and stir on low speed until batter is just combined.

    4. SPOON the batter evenly into pan. Arrange plums over top and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean.

    5. COOL the cake in the pan on a rack until completely cool. Invert onto a serving plate and slice.

    6. STORE any leftover cake tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Boil Lobster—Grill It!

    live_lobster_ilovebluesea-230

    Grill, don’t boil. Photo courtesy
    ILoveBlueSea.com.

     

    David Chang is a well-known New York chef and restaurateur, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group. He wants you to enjoy lobster that’s more tender.

    So don’t boil the lobster, he advises in an article from GQ, which the magazine shared with us.

    “I’ve sent thousands of lobsters to Valhalla in my day,” says Chef Chang, “and I’ve found that baking, or better yet, grilling them over indirect heat, yields tastier, more tender results.

    “Undercook them slightly, like steaks, and let them rest when they come off the heat. There will be some carryover cooking.”

    The chef also advises to leave that three-pounder in the tank.

    “Buy lobsters that weigh 1.5 pounds or less,” Chang advises. “Bigger beasts are tougher and less sweet. Alive is great, but frozen will do—just make sure to defrost them [slowly, in the fridge] before cooking.”

    How much lobster do you need?

     
    A 1.5-pound lobster yields four to six ounces of meat, and it’s a luxury item so you can’t plan to serve two to each guest.

    Chang suggests corn, potatoes, cole slaw, and “maybe some sausages.”

    “Forget clarified butter,” he concludes. “Just use melted unsalted butter. Add a touch of lemon or vinegar to the butter and have plenty of lemon wedges on hand.”

    For the full article, head to GQ.com

    Right now, we’re dreaming of lobster rolls.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Smartfood Movie Theater Butter Popcorn

    Smartfood, a Frito-Lay brand, has made popcorn in Kettle Corn, Sea Salt and White Cheddar. And now, there’s Movie Theatre Butter.

    Recently, Smartfood send us samples of their Movie Theater Butter flavor. As the name promises, it is very buttery (the ingredients include real butter). You get buttery flavor without buttery fingers.

    The popcorn is well salted, too.

    We personally like less salt—and also know excess salt isn’t good for you. But no doubt this recipe tested well with consumers. While devoured the whole bag, and if another bag were set in front of us, we would eat it as well.

    Archaeologists estimate that popcorn dates back to around 3600 B.C.E. They deduce that popcorn was first made by throwing corn kernels on sizzling hot stones tended over a campfire, or onto heated sand.

    It was not eaten as a snack food: The corn was sifted and then pounded into a fine, powdery meal and mixed with water. This same cooking technique was used by the early Colonists, who mixed ground popcorn with milk and ate it for breakfast as a kind of cereal.

    Popcorn is the better-for-you salty snack. A cup of plain popcorn contains about 31 calories, compared to about 139 calories for a cup of plain potato chips.

     

    smartfood-movie-theater-butter-230

    Buttery, salty and whole grain. Photo courtesy Frito-Lay.

  • It’s the only snack that’s 100% whole grain: high in dietary fiber.
  • The hull (the part that gets stuck in your teeth) contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants.
  •  

    Smartfood popcorn is air popped is all natural, free of artificial flavors or preservatives. It’s available in 7.5-ounce bags at grocery stores nationwide.

    Discover more at Smartfood.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Plum, Burrata & Pepita Salad

    plum-burrata-salad-beeraw-230r

    Summer plums with creamy burrata: a great
    union. Photo courtesy Bee Raw.

     

    We’re always in the mood for burrata. After making grilled grapes with burrata a few days ago, we whipped this up yesterday.

    This recipe combines fresh summer plums, creamy burrata cheese, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and honey into a dish that’s called a “salad,” but consider it a cheese course dessert.

    The contrasting textures, flavors, and colors are what we should aim for in every dish.

    The recipe is from Bee Raw Honey, which used its star thistle honey for extra special flavor. You can substitute pluots for the plums.

    Star thistle honey, harvested from wild star thistle plants in Colorado, is thick and creamy with hints of cinnamon. It also pairs well with apples—drizzled over apple slices or added to baked or roasted apples.

    RECIPE: PLUM SALAD WITH BURRATA, PEPITAS & HONEY

    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 6 ounces burrata cheese
  • 3 plums
  • A a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • A a few tablespoons star thistle or other honey
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • A few sprigs fresh mint
  • Preparation

    1. BREAK the burrata into about 24 bite-sized pieces,

    2. PIT and slice plums into 8 slices each, set aside.

    3. LAY out four salad or two dinner plates. Divide the burrata pieces equally among plates. Top the Burrata with plum slices. Dot plates with olive oil and honey, covering cheese and fruit with each.

    4. SCATTER each plate with pumpkin seeds and mint; serve immediately.

     

    WHAT IS BURRATA?

    Somewhere around 1920 in the town of Andria in the Puglia region of southern Italy, a member of the Bianchini family figured out how to repurpose the curds from mozzarella making. Burrata was born, a ball of mozzarella filled with creamy, ricotta-like curds. Cut into the ball and the curds ooze out: a wonderful marriage of flavors and textures.

    Their burrata was premium priced, made in small amounts, and remained the delight of the locals for some thirty years.

    In the 1950s, some of the local cheese factories began to produce burrata, and more people discovered its charms. Only in recent years, thanks to more economical overnighting of refrigerated products, did we find it in New York City’s finest cheese shops.

    Now, you can find domestic burrata anywhere there’s a Trader Joe’s. It’s just as delicious!

     

    sliced-whole-230

    Love that burrata! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    WHAT’S A PLUOT?

    Pluots, plumcots and apriums are all hybrid combinations of plums and apricots, but with different percentages of each parent fruit’s DNA. The names are trademarked by their respective breeders.

    They were developed to present the best qualities of both fruits. For the consumer, this means more sweetness and juiciness; for the grower, easier to grow, harvest, and ship.

  • A plumcot is 50% plum/50% apricot. Developed by Luther Burbank in the 1920s, it is sweeter than either parent.
  • The pluot, also known as a “dinosaur egg” because of its speckled skin, was created by a California fruit breeder who wanted to improve on the plumcot. A pluot, sweeter than a plumcot, is primarily plum, with a range from 60% plum/40% apricot to 75% plum/25% apricot spanning more than 25 varieties. Because of the percentage of genes, it has the flavor of a plum but the mouthfeel of the apricot. Pluots have a higher sugar content and a more complex flavor profile than either a plum or an apricot.
  • An aprium is the reverse of the pluot: a mix of 70% apricot/30% plum, though it can vary, as long as it is 60% apricot or more. It looks like an apricot, but is sweeter than either an apricot or a plum.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Ways To Use Chiles

    ChilesNogada_poblano-pomwonderful-230r

    Grilled chiles can be served plain, or in this
    Chiles Nogada (walnut sauce) recipe from
    Pom Wonderful. Photo courtesy Pom
    Wonderful.

     

    In addition to shrimp on the barbie, how about some chiles?

    Here are 5 tips for using chiles from Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill:

  • Jalapeño Chiles. Jalapeños are found in practically every market but vary widely in their heat range. Usually the bigger the chile, the milder the flavor. Store fresh jalapeños in a loosely closed plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator.
  • Poblano Chiles. Poblanos and large jalapeños taste great when grilled or roasted. Set them over a gas flame, under a broiler or on the grill. Roast, turning often, until the skin is blistered and blackened—about 10 minutes. Cool, covered with a cloth towel. Gently slip off and discard the charred skin. Use the whole chile for chiles rellenos; cut them into thin slices to add to soups, salads and stews; or finely chop and add them to salsa.
  • Habanero Chiles. Stock up on fresh habaneros now at local farmers markets. Simply put them into freezer containers; they’ll keep nicely for several months. Or roast the habaneros and grind them in a blender with fresh lime juice and salt into a thick salsa. Serve this blazing hot condiment with eggs, roast or grilled pork and seafood.
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  • Dried Chiles. Whether you purchase them dried or dry them yourself, dried chiles will keep in the freezer for a year or so; then they can be turned into a seasoning paste. Defrost, remove the seeds and stems and tear the flesh into flat pieces. Gently toast the pieces in a hot cast-iron skillet just until aromatic (a few seconds). Then soak in hot water until soft and purée in a blender until smooth. Use this chile paste to season sauces, salsas and stews.
  • Chipotles In Adobo. You’ll find these canned in supermarkets and elsewhere. After opening the can, transfer the contents to a glass jar and store in fridge; the chiles will keep several months. Use the spicy adobo sauce to season barbecue sauce, stews and chili.
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    HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHILES HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out the types of chiles in our Chile Glossary.

     

    chiles-grilling-basket-weber-amz-230

    A grilling basket is very handy for grilling chiles (above, habaneros and jalapeños) and other vegetables. Photo courtesy Weber.

     

      

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