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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: Fried Cheese For The Cheese Course

Sophisticated diners in the U.S.—and many people in Europe—have long finished dinner with a cheese course and small salad, instead of a sweet dessert.

How about a twist: fried cheese with salad on top—or underneath?

There are many fried cheese recipes; today’s is a Sicilian specialty. Caciocavallo, which means “cheese on horseback,” is a cheese that dates back to Roman times. Two large, pear-shaped cheeses are tied with rope and slung over a wooden board to drain and age.

Believed to have been so shaped to make it easy to transport by slinging over pack animals, the cheese duo evokes the image of saddlebags, hence the name (here’s a photo).

Caciocavallo is hard to find in conventional U.S. markets, although you can find it at Italian specialty stores and online from cheesemongers like Murray’s Cheese.

   

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Fried caciacavallo cheese topped with salad. Photo courtesy E-squaredhospitality.

 
Or, substitute halloumi, kasseri, provolone, scamorza, smoked mozzarella or queso de freier (Mexican frying cheese). You’ve got plenty of options!

RECIPE: FRIED CHEESE COURSE

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 pound of Caciocavallo, cut into 4 slices
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • Italian bread, sliced
  • Salad of choice (we like arugula, basil, cress, endive, chives or sliced green onions and sometimes, fennel; but you can use absolutely anything, very lightly tossed with vinaigrette to slightly moisten)
  •  

    fried-cheese-eatwisconsincheese-230

    Fried caciacavallo served atop the salad. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and slices of cheese and lower the heat.

    2. COOK covered for 1 minute; then turn the cheese over and cook covered for an additional minute, or until the cheese is golden in color.

    3. REMOVE the skillet from the heat, add the oregano and pepper and transfer the fried cheese to the serving plates.

    4. ADD the vinegar and sugar to the hot oil in the pan and cook for about 1–2 minutes until some of the liquid evaporates. This creates a sweet and sour sauce.

    5. DECIDE if you want your salad on top or underneath the cheese. Add the salad accordingly.

    6. TOP the cheese with the sauce if the cheese is on top of the salad; or use it to dot the plate if the salad is on top. Use the garlic as garnish and serve immediately with slices of fresh Italian bread.

     

    ABOUT CACIOCAVALLO CHEESE

    Caciocavallo, a popular cheese in southern Italy and Sicily, is typically made from unpasteurized cow’s or sheep’s milk. Two pear-shaped cheeses, about 4 pounds each, are joined at the neck by a rope to age.

    Like burrata, mozzarella, provolone and scamorza, caciocavallo is a pasta filata, a cheese made by stretching and forming the curd by hand.

    It is then aged for two to three months, and optimally for one year. Because the pairs of tied cheeses hang from rods in the air to age, instead of sitting on shelves like other cheeses, more microbes can enter the cheese, where they help to develop sharp, spicy flavors, deep, earthy undertones and fruity aromas.

    The result is a layered, complex cheese that is typically sliced and served with fresh fruit, plus a glass of hearty red wine. The yellow rind is edible.

    There are different types of caciocavallo:

  • Caciocavallo Silano, a PDO* cheese made in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia.
  • Caciocavallo Ragusa, a PDO* cheese made in Ragusa, Sicily.
  • Caciocavallo affumicato, smoked caciocavallo.
  • Caciocavallo piccante, spicy caciocavallo.
  • Caciocavallo primaverile, made from milk gathered in the spring, which has subtle flavors of the aromatic herbs in spring pastures.
  •  
    MORE FRIED CHEESE RECIPES

  • Cashew-encrusted fried cheese recipe.
  • Fried cheese curds recipe.
  • Grilled halloumi cheese recipe.
  •  
    *PDO, Protected Designation of Origin, is a designation of authenticity from the European Union. In the case of Caciocavallo Silano or Ragusa, it guarantees that the milk used comes only from local herds.

      

    Comments

    RESTAURANT: Texas De Brazil

    Last week we went to two churrascarias, also known as Brazilian steakhouses. They were both good, but one was better: Texas de Brazil.

    Churrascarias in the U.S. often have numerous locations across the country. If you want to score a table for Father’s Day, reserve now! For Mother’s Day, every seat of the large spaces at both restaurants we visited was sold out.

    A churrascaria (Portuguese, pronunced choo-rah-SCAH-ree-ya with rolled “r’s”) is a type of restaurant where meat is cooked churrasco style, on a rotisserie called a churrasqueira.

    In most parts of Brazil, the meat is roasted over charcoal; in the south of Brazil, wood is also used.

    Modern churrascarias typically offer rodízio service. Passadores, meat waiters, come to the table with meat on a large skewer—beef, chicken (some wrapped in bacon), duck, filet mignon, lamb, flank steak, sirloin, pork, chicken, duck, sausage, fish, or any other sort of local cut of meat.

       

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    Bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Photo courtesy Texas de Brasil.

     
    Some have even more options: We enjoyed delicious grilled octopus at one location.

    The passadores slice whatever you like. If you want your meat more rare or more well-done, just ask. If you don’t like the sprinkling of salt on the meat, ask for it without salt.

    If the opportunity to eat and endless amount of great meat (yes, it’s all you can eat) is your idea of paradise, plan a visit. But there’s more:

     

    lamb-chops-2-230r-s

    Succulent lamb chops. How many would you like? Photo courtesy Texas de Brasil.

     

    Start at the salad bar with 50 or more items: shrimp, smoked salmon and sushi; grilled vegetables; salads of every description (tabbouleh, quinoa, whatever); cheeses; soups; and so much more that you have to watch how much you take or you won’t have room for the meat.

    TIP: Start with a small plate, and don’t take any bread. If you have the slightest bit of hunger after you’ve finished the meat course, you can go back for as much salad bar as you like.

    Sure, there are build-your-own green salad fixings; but you can have that at home.

    If you don’t want meat, you can indulge in the salad bar only, at a lower price.

    The price at Texas de Brazil: $59.95 for the whole shebang; $39.95 for those who just want the salad bar (prices may vary by location). It’s just a few dollars for children 12 and under.

     
    Beverages and desserts are extra; but if you still have room for dessert, you haven’t done justice to the salad bar and meats.

    We now admit that we really enjoyed the chocolate ganache cake—but it was in the name of research.

    Check the website for the location nearest you.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Chicken Or Fish With Pico De Gallo

    There are many different types of salsa, but our favorite is the finely chopped fresh salsa called pica de gallo.

    Pico de gallo, pronounced PEE-coh-deh-GAH-yo, is Spanish for “rooster’s beak.” How did it get that name? It once was eaten between the thumb and finger in a way that resembled a pecking rooster. (Salsa as finger food?!)

    Pico de gallo is made with finely diced raw tomatoes, onions, lime juice and cilantro. Jicama and other raw ingredients can be added. It differs from salsa fresca and salsa cruda in that the ingredients are uniformly chopped; but the terms are often used interchangeably. Another term is salsa mexicana.

    Most Americans not of Mexican ancestry limit their use of pico de gallo to Tex-Mex recipes—chips, nachos, tacos, tortilla chips, quesadillas, etc.

    But this better-for-you condiment provides great flavor and nutrition to everyday better-for-you foods, like grilled chicken and fish.

    Those in the know use fresh salsa to complement grilled meats—especially pork and steak—egg dishes, rice and other recipes.

       

    chicken-breast-pico-de-gallo-QVC-230

    Grilled chicken breasts topped with pico de gallo salsa. Delicious and good for you! Photo courtesy QVC.

     
    We make a lower-calorie dip by blending it into nonfat Greek yogurt, and serve it with crudités as well as chips. When people hesitate to eat salad, we mix it into a vinaigrette.

    This recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable. Serve it with a large salad, other sides of choice, and a few tortilla chips for crunch.

    If you’re pressed for time, buy the salsa (it’s in the refrigerator case). Then just grill, top and enjoy!

     

    A bowl of pico de gallo surrounded by tortilla chips

    Pico de gallo is delicious with so much more than tortilla chips—and low in calories, too. Photo © WayMoreAwesomer | Fotolia.

     

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHICKEN OR FISH WITH PICO DE GALLO

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Pico De Gallo

  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: tortilla chips
  •  
    For The Chicken Or Fish

  • 4 (5–6 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breasts/fish fillets
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Preparation

    1. MAKE the pico de gallo: Toss all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl until evenly combined. Place into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

    2. PREPARE the chicken or fish. If chicken, place the breasts between 2 pieces of wax paper. Use a meat mallet to pound them to a 3/4″ thickness.

    3. PLACE all the ingredients into a large zip-tight bag. Gently toss so the marinade evenly coats the chicken/fish. Place in a bowl in the refrigerator and marinate at least 8 hours, or up to 12 hours.

    4. PREHEAT the grill to high. Place the chicken breasts onto the hot grill and cook for 4–5 minutes until char marks appear. Flip the chicken and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the chicken reads 165°F, about 4–5 more minutes. Top each chicken breast with pico de gallo before serving.
     
    HOW TO GET CROSSHATCH GRILL MARKS ON THE MEAT

    Most people are happy with simple horizontal grill marks. But if you’d like to get fancy and create crosshatch marks, just rotate the meat.

    Position the piece(s) at a 45-degree angle (the 1 o’clock position), sear, then turn 90 degrees (back to about the 11 o’clock position). Flip and repeat.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kabob Sandwiches

    For your grilling pleasure, here’s an alternative to burgers and other red meat from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

    Food on a stick is great fun for kids, and the entire family can help prepare this simple kabob recipe.

    Children can skewer the meat, which cooks in minutes on a grill or indoor George Foreman-type grill. Then everyone assembles his/her own pita sandwich, customizing the garnishes to their preferences.

    This recipe is classic Greek: roasted meat with tzatziki, the Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce, and whatever garnishes you like:

  • The basics: lettuce, onion, tomato
  • The “extras”: bell pepper rings, thin-sliced cucumber, radish or cucumber salad
  • The “whatevers” from the fridge: fresh or pickled chiles, crumbled feta, pepperoncini, pickles and of course, “whatever”
  • And did we mention, it’s quick?

       

    kabob-sandwiches-ws-recipe-230

    Find more delicious recipes at Williams-Sonoma.com. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    RECIPE: QUICK KABOB PITA SANDWICHES WITH TZATZIKI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt (more to taste)
  • 1 pound filet mignon, lamb loin or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 pita bread rounds
  • Garnishes: shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes and shaved red onion
  • More garnishes: bell pepper, chiles, feta, pepperoncini, pickles, whatever you’ve got
  •  
    For The Tzatziki (Yogurt Sauce)

  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons total chopped fresh dill and/or mint
  • Salt to taste
  •  

    lamb-kabobs-sliding-skewers-WS-230

    Iconic Greek lamb (shish) kabobs, made even easier with these stainless sliding skewers. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the tzatziki. Combine all ingredients and stir well. Add salt to taste and set aside. This can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge; serve it at room temperature.

    2. PREHEAT the outdoor grill to medium-high. For an indoor grill, place the grill plate on the lower level and the griddle plate on the upper level (Williams-Sonoma used the Cuisinart Elite Griddler). Preheat both sides to 450°F.

    3. STIR together in a small bowl the paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In another bowl, toss the meat with the oil and 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture.

    4. THREAD 5 or 6 meat cubes onto each skewer and place on the grill (or the grill side of the electric griddle). Cook, turning the skewers occasionally, until the beef/lamb is cooked to medium, about 8 minutes, or the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Meanwhile…

     

    5. LIGHTLY toast the pita bread rounds on the grill or the griddle side of the electric griddle, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

    6. CUT the toasted pita rounds in half crosswise, then pry open. Fill the pockets with the meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onion other garnishes. Top with the tzatziki and serve immediately.

     
    OUR FAVORITE NEW SKEWERS

    Grilled kabobs is easy until it’s time to remove the cooked food from the skewer. New skewers from Williams-Sonoma (photo above)solve the problem with a sliding disk that lets you push food onto the plate in one swift motion.

    An added bonus: The square shape of the rod prevents foods from spinning when you turn kabobs on the grill. You’re guaranteed even cooking!

    This Williams-Sonoma exclusive is dishwasher safe, too. A great gift for grilling enthusiasts.

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Horned Melon or Kiwano

    Native to the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa, and once commercially grown only in New Zealand (Kiwano® is a trademark of New Zealand growers), Kiwano melons are now grown in California and Mississippi as well as well as Africa, Australia and Chile. So you may be seeing more of them soon.

    The horned melon, Cucumis metuliferus, goes by a variety of names: African horned cucumber or melon, blowfish fruit, English tomato, hedged gourd, jelly melon, kiwano and melano. The horns are called spines by botanists.

    The fruit is an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae, which also includes pumpkin and the other squash.

    The exotic-looking, the spiky, orange colored shells contain a soft, juicy bright green seed-studded flesh. The flesh isn’t sweet, but more of a cross between a cucumber and a zucchini. The seeds are edible, like cucumber seeds. Some people eat the peel, which is very rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber.

       

    kiwano-horned-melon-melissas-230

    Kiwano, or horned melon. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     
    BUYING TIPS

    Look for horned melon in specialty-food markets and some upscale supermarkets. The fruit should range in length from 3 to 5 inches and not have any bruises or soft spots. When ripe, the melon will have a bright orange shell.

    Horned melon is available year-round but its peak season is summer. California-grown varieties are available now; in the winter, they’ll come from New Zealand, where the seasons are opposite.

     

    KIWANO-horned-melon_marxfooDS-230

    Horned melon or Kiwano. Photo courtesy Marx Foods.

     

    HOW TO SERVE KIWANO, HORNED MELON

    You can buy horned melons at Melissas.com. If you’re lucky to come across them in the flesh, don’t hesitate to buy and try.

    Once peeled, they can be added to fruit salads or green salad. Sliced unpeeled, they can be used as a garnish. Here are some popular uses:

  • Enjoy the melon as a hand fruit, just by squeezing a cut half into your mouth. You can enhance the flavor with small amount of salt or sugar.
  • You can cut the melon in half and serve the jelly-like flesh from the shell; or scoop out the flesh for other uses and repurpose the shells as fun serving bowls for desserts, ice cream/sorbet, sides and soups.
  • Garnish roasted meat, like steaks or chops, instead of topping rich with butter. Sprinkle some kiwano kernels on top of the meat before serving for an exotic and tangy flavor highlight.
  • Make Kiwano salsa. Seed the melon into a bowl and mix it with the juice of one lime, a clove of garlic, two tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro, a chopped green onion (scallion) or equivalent sweet, onion, 1/4 teaspoon cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Add a small amount of olive oil to bind the mixture and use the salsa as a garnish for meat, grilled vegetables, or exotic nachos.
  •  
    For Beverages

  • Add to smoothies.
  • Garnish cocktails: Sprinkle a few green kernels into a champagne flute or add an unpeeled slice to a gin and tonic instead of a lime slice.
  • Make the Intergalactic Nebula, a recipe we found on WikiHow. Remove the Kiwano melon seeds and place in a cup. Fill the cup with sparkling red grape juice cocktail 3/4 of the way to the top of the cup. With the remainder space, add half and half (optional), Serve in layers for the best look before stirring.
  •  
    Play around, have fun with kiwano and tell us how you like it!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Crostini Appetizers

    Bruschetta and crostini are two of our favorite nibbles to serve with cocktails, wine or beer.

    Both are Italian traditions, and can be made from scratch or topped with leftover cheese, meat, seafood and/or vegetables. Bruschetta can be made indoors or on the grill. Crostini, which are smaller and can fall through the grill grate, are made indoors under the broiler.

    BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    The answer is twofold: the size of the slice, plus grilling versus toasting. Bruschetta (three or four inches in diameter) are cut from a baguette and grilled; crostini (about two inches in diameter) are cut from a thinner loaf (called a ficelle) and toasted.

    Bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh) are grilled bread slices rubbed with garlic and topped with any variety of items. The toppings can be as simple as extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, to diced tomatoes and basil, to almost any spread, vegetable, cured meat or cheese—even fruit.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy; in modern times is a popular snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

       

    crostini-with-havarti-castelloUSA-230

    Crunchy crostini with summer vegetables and melted cheese. Photo courtesy Castello USA.

     

    The word comes from the verb bruscare in Roman dialect, which means “to roast over coals.” If you have access to a grill, grill the bread for authenticity. If not, you can toast it.

    The word bruschetta refers to the grilled bread, not the topping. Some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, using it to refer to the topping only and selling jars of “bruschetta” (it should be bruschetta topping). Show your superior knowledge and don’t allow the term to be distorted.

    Crostini (cruh-STEE-nee) are croutons—not in the American sense of small toasted cubes of bread used to garnish soup or salad, but thin slices of toasted bread. The word is the plural of crostino, “little toast” or “little crust.”

    Smaller than bruschetta, the slices are typically cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette one to two inches wide (the word is French for string). The slices are brushed with olive oil, toasted and then topped with spreadable cheese, pâté or other ingredients. Plain crostini are served with soups and salads, (in the manner of the formerly fashionable melba toast) or set out with cheese.
     
    WHY USE FRENCH BREAD WITH AN ITALIAN RECIPE?

    Bruschetta began as peasant food, thought to originate in medieval times when it was common for Italian peasants to eat their meals from slices of bread instead of using expensive ceramics plates. The originators would have used any bread available to them.

    Over time, the recipe became refined as an appetizer (antipasto), on more easily handled small toasts. While both countries make a large variety of delicious breads, the Italian repertoire didn’t include long, thin loaves like baguette (the French word for stick) or ficelle (the French word for string).

    Here’s an overview of the differences between French and Italian breads.

    Now, let’s eat! The crunchy, cheesy appetizer recipes that follow are from Castello Cheese, which has a website full of recipes with cheese.

    The first recipe uses their Aged Havarti; the second their Creamy Havarti. You can substitute any semi-firm cheese that can be shaved (examples: Alsatian Muenster, Gouda Monterey Jack, Port du Salut, Reblochon, Tilsit, Tomme de Beaumont).

    Prep time is 30 minutes.

     

    havarti-crostini-bacon-castelloUSA-230

    Crostini with bacon and havarti. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy Castello USA

     

    RECIPE: CROSTINI WITH SUMMER VEGETABLES

    Ingredients For 18 Crostini Servings
     
    For The Crostini

  • 1 ficelle or slender baguette, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1¼ cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 poblano or Anaheim chile pepper, seeded, stemmed
    and finely chopped
  • 8 ounces Castello Aged Havarti, shaved thinly
  • Preparation

    1. MAKE the crostini: Preheat the broiler to high. Brush the bread slices with olive oil and arrange them, oil side up, on a baking pan. Place under the broiler until the bread turns a golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove and season the crostini with chives and salt. Set aside.

    2. MAKE the vegetable topping: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and pan fry for 1 minute. Add the onion slices and continue cooking until they soften and become translucent.

    3. ADD the tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms and chiles and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and top the crostini with vegetable mixture, then with thecheese.

    4. PLACE the crostini under the broiler just before serving, until the cheese melts, about 1 minute. Serve warm or room temperature.
     
    RECIPE: BACON & HAVARTI CROSTINI

    This recipe takes less time than the vegetable crostini: 16 minutes. Castello used its Creamy Havarti.
     
    Ingredients for 8 Servings

  • 8 slices of diagonally cut baguette
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, dill, parsley and rosemary
    (you can use a combination)
  • 8 slices smoked bacon, cooked
  • 2 ounces havarti, shaved thinly
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRUSH one side of the bread slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and herbs.

    2. ARRANGE the slices on a baking pan and place under a broiler until the edges of the bread crisp to a golden brown, about 3 minutes.

    3. REMOVE the pan from the heat and top each slice of bread with a layer of crumbled bacon and shaved cheese. Return the pan to the broiler and heat until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.

    4. REMOVE and immediately sprinkle with remaining chopped herbs. Serve while hot or at room temperature.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Pizza The Right Way

    When you fire up the grill, make a pizza! Grilled pizza is celestial, with a crispy, chewy and slightly charred crust and the light, smoky flavor picked up by the cheese and toppings.

    Grilling caramelizes the crust the way a wood burning pizza oven does. But you don’t need the wood-burning oven—just the backyard grill you already have.
     
    IT’S EASY TO GET THE RIGHT RESULTS

    Some people have tried grilling pizza at home without success. The new cookbook Grilled Pizza The Right Way provides the fail-safe technique to do it perfectly.

    Award-winning chef and barbecue pitmaster, John Delpha, has been grilling pizza for 20 years. He honed his skills at the famed Al Forno pizzeria in Providence, Rhode Island that is credited with popularizing* grilled pizza.

    Loaded with photos, this book of more than 85 grilled pizza recipes gets you started with the right techniques. Hot off the presses, it’s a must-have for home grillers, and a great gift to bring whenever you’re invited over by a griller.

       

    grilled-pizza-the-right-way-230

    The book that will change your summer grilling. Photo courtesy Page Street Publishing.

     

    Once you know Chef Delpha’s technique, the grilling combinations are endless, including sweet dessert pizzas (oh, the Bananas Foster pizza!).

    The instructions are easy to follow; you can make the dough and toppings ahead of time for a quick weeknight pizza, or use store-bought dough for even quicker eating.
     
    CONVENTIONAL & CREATIVE TOPPINGS

    Channel your inner pizza chef with varieties galore, from pizza parlor standards to gourmet toppings (goat cheese, lamb and many others) to porting over concepts from other favorite foods—Reuben and cheeseburger pizzas for example.

    This weekend we’re making our own combo of ingredients we had in-house—asparagus, bacon, caramelized onions and corn—plus the book’s recipe for pickled jalapeño crema.

    We’re are also experimenting with toppings of pâté, cornichons and Dijon crema thanks to a gift of luscious pâtés we received from the pâté pros at Le Trois Petits Cochons.

     

    grilled_pizza_jimlahey-details.com-230

    Beyond pepperoni, here’s a creative grilled pizza and the recipe. Photo courtesy Details.com.

     

    GET YOUR COPY

    Hungry yet? Click over to Amazon.com to get your copy of “Grilled Pizza the Right Way,” plus more for gifting.

    Then plan to throw grilled pizza parties all summer. Guests will clamor for the next flavor to come off the grill.

    Can’t wait for the book to arrive? Start this weekend with a recipe and tips from Jim Lahey of New York City’s Co Pane restaurant and pizzeria.

    His grilled beauty in the photo at left uses béchamel sauce, grated Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, fresh basil and red-pepper flakes, topped with cherry tomatoes and raw corn.

    Find the full recipe at Details.com.

     
    *A QUICK HISTORY OF PIZZA: Al Forno didn’t invent the grilled pizza, as often attributed, but reinvented it. The precursor of pizza predates written history, but flatbread topped with cheese and cooked in the fire could date as far back as 5500 B.C.E.

    Melted cheese on bread was common fare for millennia around the Mediterranean, but the tomato didn’t arrive from the New World until the 16th century. The fruit was the size of modern cherry tomatoes and thought to be poisonous; the plant was used as house decor!

    During a famine the 18th century, the starving poor of Naples were reduced to eating anything. They tried the tomatoes, found they were not poisonous but delicious, and began to add it to their cheese and flatbread (often with anchovies!). Thus, modern pizza was born. Here’s the history of pizza plus 12 gourmet pizza recipes.

      

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    PRODUCT: Hummus Snack, No Refrigeration Required

    It’s not easy to find healthy snacks to eat on the go, much less those that are gluten free. Wild Garden Hummus, which sells shelf-stable (no refrigeration required ) hummus in jars, has a welcome new line called Snack Bo To Go!.

    It’s a tube of hummus packaged with a packet of gluten-free crackers. Neatly boxed, it’s a tasty alternative for anyone who wants to keep a better-for-you snack in a car, locker, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.

    In fact, if you’ve bought a hummus snack pack on an airline, it was probably Wild Garden.

    A small cardboard box includes your hummus flavor of choice in a 1.76-ounce single-serve Tetra-Pak (67 calories; with the crackers the snack is around 200 calories). Squeezing out the hummus is easy and mess-free. Flavors include:

  • Back Olive Hummus
  • Fire Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
  • Jalapeño Hummus
  • Roasted Garlic Hummus
  • Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
  • Traditional Hummus
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    Wild-Garden-Snack-Pack-to-Go-230

    Small, easy-to-pack boxes with nutritious, delicious snacking inside. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.

     

    wild-garden-hummus-to-go-tetra-paks-230

    It’s easy to squeeze hummus from these Tetra Paks. Photo courtesy Wild Garden.

     

    The different flavors of hummus are variously paired with a half-ounce of delicious, gluten-free crackers or chips:

  • CrunchMaster Multiseed Crackers, an everyday favorite at THE NIBBLE (127 calories)
  • The Daily Crave Vegetable Chips (147 calories)
  • Wild Garden Quinoa Chips (122 calories)
  •  
    We tried all of the varieties, and pronounce them delicious.
     
    The MSRP is $2.29 per box (serving). MyBrands.com sells it for $2.50.

     
    If you want to buy the hummus packages only, you can get a box of 24 packets or 100 packets on Amazon.com.
     
    Visit WildGardenHummus.com for more information.

      

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    RECIPE: BLT Avocado Burger

    May is National Burger Month. We usually default to our list of 35+ burger recipes—at least one variation for every day of the month.

    But we’re calling out this Grilled Avocado BLT Burger from the California Avocado Commission, because it has all of our favorite “essential” toppings. Our idea of burger heaven includes avocado, bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and tomato.

    This isn’t the fastest recipe to prepare, because all the components are homemade. But if your palate is like ours, it’s worth pulling out all the stops—especially on a holiday weekend when there’s more time.

    RECIPE: BLT AVOCADO BURGERS

    Ingredients For 6 Burgers
     
    For The Caramelized Chipotle Onions

  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle or other chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  •    

    Grilled-Avocado-BLT-Burger-californiaavocado-230ps

    Our favorite burger recipe has it all: avocado, bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and tomato. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     
    For The Blue Cheese Spread

  • 6 1/2 ounce light garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese
  • 4 ounces Point Reyes blue cheese or other favorite blue cheese, crumbled
  •  
    For The Burger Patties

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/3 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup Zinfandel or other hearty red wine
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano, thyme, and basil (in any combination)
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle or other chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons spicy seasoned salt (like chipotle sea salt)
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
  •  
    For The Grilled Avocado

  • 12 fresh avocado slices
  • Balsamic vinegar, for brushing on the avocado slices
  • Spicy seasoned salt, for sprinkling on the avocado slices
  • 12 bacon slices, pre-cooked
  • 6 rolls of choice, split (we prefer brioche or whole grain rolls)
  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 6 large tomato slices (1/4-inch thick)
  •  

    original-blue-crackers-230

    Point Reyes blue cheese, made north of San Francisco, is a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. We can’t get enough of it (and all of the creamery’s products).

     

    Preparation

    Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

    1. MAKE the caramelized onions: Combine the onion, pepper sauce, broth, vinegar, oil, garlic and brown sugar in a 10-inch nonstick, fire-proof skillet. Cover with a lid and place on the grill rack. Cook the onion mixture for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized and most of the liquid is evaporated. Remove the pan and set aside.

    2. MAKE the cheese spread: Combine the cheeses in a fire-proof saucepan, cover and set aside.

    3. MAKE the patties: Combine the chuck, sirloin, onion, Zindandel, herbs, pepper sauce and seasoned salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties to fit the rolls. When the grill is ready…

    4. BRUSH the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once until done to preference (5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium). Meanwhile…

     
    5. PLACE the saucepan with the cheese spread on the outer edge of the rack to warm the cheese mixture, just until it reaches a very soft, spreadable consistency. Remove the the saucepan from the grill and set aside. During the final minutes of grilling the patties…

    6. BRUSH the avocado slices with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a seasoned salt. Arrange on a rimmed nonstick perforated grilling pan coated lightly with oil, and grill alongside the patties for 1 to 2 minutes, turning as necessary.

    7. ADD the bacon slices to the pan during the final 30 seconds of grilling the patties. When the avocados are nicely grilled and the bacon is crisp, remove from the grill. When the patties are cooked, remove from the grill, stacking to keep them warm.

    8. PLACE the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

    9. ASSEMBLE the burgers: Spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, a patty, an equal portion of the caramelized onions, 2 avocado slices and 2 bacon slices. Add the roll tops and serve.

    It’s worth the effort!

    Tips To Make A Better Burger

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Add More Flavor To Everything You Grill

    Ready, set, grill! While you may have had the grill on for a while, Memorial Day is considered the launch of grilling season in the Northeast, where we live.

    McCormick & Company, a leader in what’s hot in flavor, has released a grilling edition of its 2015 Flavor Forecast, with links to yummy recipes.

    Of course, they have all the hot flavors you need to perk up your food, from burger mix-ins to marinades to seasoned grilling salts.

    The the hottest trends to enhance your grilled flavors all season are:

  • Backyard Brunch: Bacon, eggs and even donuts are grilled to add smoky flavor and and served outside.
  • Boss Burgers: Forget plain ketchup and sliced onions. Now, it’s all about the build. Add mix-ins to burgers, then build flavor with toppers and condiments like grilled avocado, mango slaw or lime mayo. Check out this Southwestern Smoky Ranchero Burger with Grilled Avocado and this Vietnamese Banh Mi Burger with Sriracha Mayo.
  •    

    Bacon_and_Eggs_Flatbread-mccormick--230

    Grill your bacon and eggs, with spinach and Gruyère cheese. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • Grilling Salts: Shake up classic salt and pepper by adding other flavors to the shaker. McCormick makes it easy with pre-filled sea ssalt grinders. See more about them below, and use them to add texture and flavor.
  • Reverse Sear: There’ll be no more dry chicken coming off your grates with this technique. Check out this recipe for Sweet Soy Bourbon Chicken infused with bourbon, brown sugar and soy sauce.
  •  

    Chipotle-Sea-Salt-Blend-230

    Chipotle Sea Salt, one of four trending flavored sea salts available in grinders.
    Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
  • Smokin’ Veggie Starters: Most people love grilled veggies, but don’t wait for the main course and sides to serve them. For starters, try this Grilled Vegetable Antipasto Bruschetta, a fusion of Italian bruschetta on top of Middle Eastern hummus.
     
    GRILLING SALTS

    One of the easiest ways to add flavor, during and after cooking, is with seasoned salts.

    McCormick’s easy-to-use sea salt grinders are favorites of ours. Flavors include:

  • Chipotle Sea Salt Blend
  • Lemon Zest Sea Salt Blend
  • Smoked Sea Salt
  • Sweet Onion Sea Salt Blend
  •  
    As gifts for grilling hosts, we like to package all four inside a related gift like this Weber grilling basket that keeps mushrooms, chiles and other small vegetables from falling onto the coals

     

      

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