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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

FOOD HOLIDAY: The History Of Sangria

December 20th is National Sangria Day. The word derives from the Spanish word for bloodletting, and refers to the red wine that was used as a base for the punch.

THE HISTORY OF SANGRIA

Around 200 B.C.E., the conquering Romans arrived in Spain and planted vineyards. They soon discovered that red grape varietals produced the best wine in the local soils. While some was enjoyed locally, the majority of the wines were shipped to Rome.

The locals created fruit punches from the wines, and called these drinks sangria after the color.

While sangria was drunk in Spain for more than 1,000 years, it didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 1964—at the Spanish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York. It was quickly adopted by Americans.

 
HOW TO MAKE SANGRIA

In Spain, sangria is typically made with Rioja or another local red wine. There are white wine versions, called sangria blanco (white sangria) and sparkling versions using cava, sparkling white wine.

   

port-sangria-sandemans-230

This version adds Port to the red wine. Photo courtesy Sandemans.

 

 

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While traditionally made with red wine, white
wine sangrias are also popular. You can make
them with sparkling wine, too. Photo courtesy U.S. Apple Association.

 

The wine is typically blended with chopped fruit, fruit juices or other sweetener (honey, sugar, syrup, lemon-lime soda instead of the club soda), soda water and sometimes brandy. While some people feel that the cheapest wine will suffice because the flavor gets blended with these other ingredients, we recommend using a good quality wine. (Let “quality” refer to anything you’d be happy to drink straight from the glass.)

Ideally, the sangria—without the soda water—should be allowed to chill overnight for the flavors to meld. The chilled soda water should be added right before serving.

To serve, pour the sangria into a pitcher filled with ice cubes and garnish with more fresh fruit.

  • Traditional sangria pitchers have a pinched lip so that the fruit and other solids do not splash into the glass.
  • But if you’re going to purchase a pitcher, we particularly like a pitcher with a central well to hold the ice. This keeps the drink cold without diluting it.
  •  

    SANGRIA TRIVIA

  • Since January 2014, the use of the word “sangria” on bottle labels is restricted by the European Union. Only sangria made in Spain and Portugal can be sold under that name.
  • Sangaree, a fruit and wine punch from the West Indies, is the same drink. The name is an archaic English term for sangria.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The Five Minute Stackable Appetizer Maker

    Some gadgets are a snore. Others really make a difference. In the latter camp is the Five Minute Stackable Appetizer Maker.

    The device enables you to create bite size, multi-layered gourmet appetizers using everyday ingredients. Yes, even peanut butter and jelly or egg salad seems “gourmet” when made in this format!

    The manufacturer claims that this can be done in “just five minutes,” but that’s just for simple layering, slicing and plating. You need to add a bit of time for any prep work—making crab salad, slicing olives and pimentos, chopping nuts, whatever. But what you end up with is worth it: fancy and fun appetizers or dessert bites that can become a signature offering at your home.

    If you have great knife skills, you don’t need this gadget. Just build a loaf of layers and slice your own.

    If, however, you’d never get even slices without help, this is your gadget for triple- or quadruple-layer appetizer or dessert bites that delight adults and kids alike. The instructions are easy to follow and deliver perfectly proportioned pieces. The device is fool-proof: Anyone can turn out impressive, professional looking appetizers with inexpensive ingredients (or, feel free to load in the pricey ones).

       

    Stacked layers of crab salad, garnished with crème fraîche and celery. Feel free to add more complexity to your stacks: some watercress atop one of the crab layers or some pimento strips, for example. Photo courtesy Architec.

     

    HOW IT WORKS

    You layer the ingredients in the plastic mold (see the photo below), then use the slots in the mold to cut the loaf into even pieces.

    You start and ending the stacked loaf with bread or another base. The base can be polenta, tortillas or even sushi rice.

    The fillings can be anything that’s a bit moist or creamy—the ingredients need to be “flexible” since the mold presses them into bites that hold their shape. So avoid a hunk of iceberg lettuce (but arugula, cress, mesclun or baby spinach work) or roast turkey. But if there’s something you really want, you may be able to figure out how to make it work. (Shred the lettuce and dice the turkey into mini cubes in a layer with moist stuffing, for example.)

    The layers are pressed to your desired thickness, and you can keep adding layers until the body of the mold is full. Then slice. When you remove the mold, the appetizers can be served from the plastic bottom tray. But for impressing your guests, you’ll probably want to re-plate them.

    And of course, you can garnish them with whatever you like, from crème fraîche to caviar, or whipped cream for dessert stacks.

     

    Layers of pimento, goat cheese and black olives. In this photo, the bottom tray has been removed from the mold and the individual stacks are being separated for serving. Photo courtesy Architec.

     

    WHAT TO MAKE

    Kids will enjoy peanut butter, jelly and banana bites; ham and cheese; bacon and egg stacks on a toast or waffle base; and mini pizza stacks.

    Foodies will enjoy crab salad, smoked salmon, goat cheese, chicken mousse, and a garnish of caviar.

    For everyone else: you know what your friends and family like (onions? pickle relish?), and where your own creativity will lead you.

    For desserts, you can layer angel or pound cake with jam, fruit compote or pudding; make zebras from brownies, cheesecake and perhaps some jam; and otherwise layer your fantasy dessert ingredients.

    The fun of the Stackable Appetizer Maker is playing around with different ingredients to find what works for you. Do your experimenting right before lunch, so you can eat your experiments.

     
    WHERE TO BUY IT

    The Stackable Appetizer Maker is $19.99, available on Amazon or from the manufacturer, Architec, in your choice of black, blue or red.

    Customers have posted a lot of good comments on Amazon—that the cutting tool isn’t effective (use your own bread knife), that the recipe booklet is a mess (you’ll have no problem putting together your own combinations).

    There are also great tips not provided by the manufacturer, including:

  • Watch the video before you begin.
  • Use “squishable” ingredients with enough fat or moisture content to act as glue when the stacks are compressed. Spreads and salads (chicken, crab, egg, shrimp, tuna) work with a bread base.
  • Be sure that all the ingredients are cold.
  • Dip your knife in ice water after each cut to prevent sticking.
  •  
    You can watch the video and download the recipe book for free on the Architec website (the video link leads to YouTube).

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Christmas Tree Eggnog French Toast

    This recipe from Driscoll’s Berries tastes best when using slightly stale bread and soaking it overnight in the eggnog mixture. You can, however, make it at the last minute without the advance prep work.

    For Christmas breakfast, most of the prep can be done the night before. In the morning, just brown the toast and trim to assemble your tree. Place it on the dining table and watch the tree disappear quickly!

    You’ll have more berries than you need to decorate the Christmas tree, so serve them in a bowl on the side. Find more berry-laden recipes at Driscolls.com.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS TREE EGGNOG FRENCH TOAST

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 8 thick slices dense, stale bread* (country white or wheat
    bread)
  • 2 cups eggnog
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Dash freshly ground nutmeg
  • Optional: maple syrup
  •  
    *If the bread is fresh, let the slices sit uncovered for a few hours to dry out.

     

    christmas-tree-eggnog-french-toast-driscolls-230

    Turn French Toast into a Christmas tree. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. LINE a large, shallow baking pan with bread slices. Mix the eggnog with the eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour the eggnog mixture over the bread, turning the slices once to coat both sides. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.

    2. HEAT a greased griddle over medium heat. Cook the bread slices about 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from pan then cut the 2 bottom corners off at an angle leaving the top crust intact. Bottom of the slice should now be in a V pattern.

    3. PLACE the slices on a platter and create a berry Christmas tree by layering berry slices V side up to form a pyramid shape. Arrange a single blackberry as a stump, sliced strawberries for the tree skirt and 6 raspberries as a tree topper. Then create a garland of small blueberries. Top with dusting of nutmeg and powdered sugar for snow. Serve with an optional side of maple syrup, and a bowl of the extra berries.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Christmas Red Cabbage

    red-cabbage-bacon-foodswinesfromspain-230r

    Red cabbage with sausage and pork. Photo courtesy Foods And Wines From Spain.

     

    This red cabbage dish is a Christmas specialty in Spain, where it is called Lombarda navideña. To make it festive, sausage and bacon are added.

    All over Europe, red cabbage is a delicious pairing with duck, goose, ham and pork roast. This recipe has Spanish touches of chorizo, Spanish olive oil and sherry vinegar.

    Daisy Martinez, who cooks Puerto Rican style, makes a Lombarda navideña with more layers of flavor, including brandy, lemon, pears and raisins, plus bay leaf and thyme. Here’s her recipe. We adapted the recipe below to include the thyme.

    Foods and wines From Spain recommends enjoying it with a dry Cava, Spain’s famed sparkling wine. It’s one of the few wines that can be matched with red cabbage, they say.

    RECIPE: RED CABBAGE WITH CHORIZO & BACON

    Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup chorizo, finely diced (substitute: andouille
    or any smoked, garlicky sausage)
  • 2/3 cup bacon, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    (substitute: cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Preparation

    1. FINELY CHOP the cabbage and wash it thoroughly. Add it to a pan full of boiling water and cook until it becomes soft. Drain the cabbage and place it in a saucepan.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic briefly. Add this mixture to the red cabbage followed, by the chorizo and the bacon. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

    3. ADD the vinegar and thyme, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning as necessary before serving.
     
    This recipe was adapted from the original by Sonia Fuentes/©ICEX. Find more delicious recipes at FoodsWinesFromSpain.com.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pulled Pork

    When you’re having a crowd, a popular main course and fuss-free recipe is pulled pork,

    Pulled pork is a method of cooking where a tough cut of meat is cooked slowly at low temperatures, allowing the meat to become tender enough so that it can be “pulled,” or easily broken into tender pieces.

    This recipe uses a slow cooker, which in turn can be placed on a table for guests to help themselves. We made it over Labor Day Weekend (check out these pulled pork sliders, which also have a recipe for the cabbage slaw that goes so well with the pork) and are making it again this weekend, for holiday party fare.

    You can provide burger buns or mini buns for those who want to fix themselves a sandwich; the cabbage slaw; and a big, green salad to counter the richness of the pork. We’re also making a whole-grain “dirty brown rice” with black beans and a garnish of green onions.

    Thanks to Ryan Hughes and Zabars.com for this tasty recipe.

    RECIPE: PULLED PORK

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

    For the BBQ Pork Shoulder

  • 3-pound pork shoulder
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoon liquid smoke flavor
  • 2 cups water
  •    

    pulled-pork-bun-zabars-230

    Pulled pork on a bun. Photo courtesy Zabars.com.

     
    For Serving

  • 1 jar of your favorite barbecue sauce (plus a back-up jar if guests use a lot of it)
  • Quality hamburger buns
  • Optional sides: coleslaw, pickles, potato chips
  •  

    pork-shoulder-raw-foodnutritiontable-230

    Pork shoulder, an inexpensive cut that’s tenderized via slow cooking. Photo courtesy FoodNutritionTable.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the dry rub: Combine kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and cayenne pepper. Coat the entire meat with this rub (you can’t over-coat the meat at this point). Set the meat aside.

    2. PLACE the quartered onions and crushed garlic into the slow cooker. Add the meat. Slowly pour in the water until the meat is about 2/3 covered, avoid pouring it over the meat so you don’t remove the rub. Add the liquid smoke.

    3. COOK on low for 9-10 hours.

    4. REMOVE the meat from the crock. It’s going to be falling-apart delicious. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out any meat that may have fallen off. If you’ve used a piece of meat with the bone in, remove the bone; it should just slip right out. Pull apart (or shred) the meat with two forks. This will also be very easy and the meat will be very tender.

     

    5. ADD the barbecue sauce to the meat now or serve it on the side, allowing each person add sauce to his or her sauce as desired.

    6. TO SERVE: If you’re serving from the clock, first clean the crock, discarding the liquid and onions. Return the meat to the crock set to keep warm. It’s best to add some barbecue sauce if you’re serving it this way, to help keep the meat from drying out.

    Alternatively, you can place the shredded meat on the hamburger buns and serve them on a plater, with the barbecue sauce and slaw on the side.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Do It Yourself Apple Gift Basket

    We’re coming up on the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Instead of braving the stores, how about heading to your nearest farmers market?

    Top e-tailers like Harry & David will send a basket or box of assorted apples, but you can put your own together and provide even more fun through a greater assortment.

    Apples are affordable, delicious, universally loved and always available. Present them in beautiful “keeper” basket for a healthy holiday gift—great for calorie counters, dieters and fitness fans.

    Here are five simple steps for a do-it-yourself apple gift basket from the U.S. Apple Association.

    1. FIND a basket or other container—you may already have some on hand from prior gifts you’ve received. You can buy baskets at craft store, big box retailers and even your grocery store.

     

    apple-gift-basket-usappleassn-230

    It’s easy to create an apple basket gift. Photo courtesy U.S. Apple Association.

     
    2. FILL the basket with healthy, wholesome apples: the more colors and varieties, the merrier. If the apples don’t have stickers indicating their variety, take a photo of the apple basket and sign at the market and include it in the basket.

    3. ADD a few colorful accents, like clementine oranges, a jar of caramel sauce or honey for dipping, or a small holiday candle.

    4. PERSONALIZE with foods or trinkets the recipient will enjoy—simple stocking stuffers will do—an apple slicer, or a cheese; for a gym person, a stretch band. If you don’t want to add a cheese, which typically requires refrigeration, include a gift card to a store where it can be purchased.

    5. ACCENT with a ribbons and a card or note that wishes the recipient a healthy New Year.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Primizie Crispbreads ~ Great Snack Crackers

    primizie-classic-bag-230

    A great new line of snack crackers, worth checking out. Photo courtesy Primizie Snacks.

     

    Primizie snack crackers—called crispbread snacks by the manufacturer—were developed by a restauranteur/caterer couple who were looking for something better than what they were able to purchase.

    The thick, crunchy triangles were inspired on a culinary tour in Italy, originally as a dough for pizzas and paninis. In the process, the chef discovered that when the bread was “crisped,” it made a terrific cracker—for snacking, dipping and pairing with cheeses, salads and soups.

    Thick and flavorful, they stand on their own but pair beautifully with dips and spreads. When you’re pulling out all the stops for the holidays—or simply want something new and different—we heartily recommend them.

  • Classic is an Italian seven-herb blend, delightfully flavor-forward and a bit hot from Italian red chiles.
  • Cheese is provides a strong hit of smoked Gouda cheese and garlic.
  • Chile employs a rare chile pepper called the chimayo, after the town in north central New Mexico where it is grown. The chile delivers flavor that is sweet, rich and spicy but without the heat. Try it with guacamole instead of tortilla chips.
  • Simply Salted uses sel gris, French grey sea salt, a light, delicate, almost buttery salt. If these salted chips taste especially delightful, that’s why. (Check out the different types of sea salt.)
  •  

    The all natural snack crackers are made with high quality, pure ingredients with no preservatives, trans fat or cholesterol, non-GMO and rBST-free.

    Three flavors are vegan; Cheese is vegetarian.

    There’s a store locator on the website; the products are available online at Amazon and elsewhere.

    A 6.5-ounce bag has a suggested retail price of $3.99*, and is a nice contribution to a party or other get-together.

    Discover more at PrimizieSnacks.com.

     
    *The products are pricier on Amazon, because Amazon takes a 30% cut of each purchase.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pomegranate Panna Cotta

    Italian for “cooked cream,” it is a light, silky-smooth egg custard made with heavy cream and gelatin and typically served with fresh fruit or a fruit purée. Panna cotta originated in the Piedmont area of northern Italy, a region known for its cream.

    Smooth, silky and creamy, panna cotta is less rich than other types of custard because it’s made without eggs. (Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.)

    Panna cotta is a gluten free dessert, and this version with pomegranate adds a festive holiday touch. This recipe is from Karen Tedesco of Family Style Food and Go Bold With Butter. Find more delicious recipes at FamilyStyleFood.com.

    RECIPE: POMEGRANATE PANNA COTTA

    Ingredients

  • 1 packet (2-1/2 teaspoons) powdered gelatin
  • 1-1/4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds (arils)
  •    

    pomegranate-panna-cotta-familystylefood-2-230r

    Bright panna cotta for the holidays. Photo courtesy Family Style Food.

     

    halved-pomegranate-pinkberry-230

    The arils (seeds) inside a pomegranate. Photo courtesy Pinkberry.

     

    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY COAT 6 x 1/2-cup molds or ramekins with neutral-tasting oil or spray.

    2. SPRINKLE 1/2 teaspoon of the gelatin over 2 teaspoons of water in a small dish, and let stand a few minutes to soften and dissolve.

    3. MAKE pomegranate jelly: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the pomegranate juice with the granulated sugar in a small saucepan; stir to dissolve sugar and heat just to a simmer. Stir in the gelatin mixture over low heat until it dissolves in the juice, then divide into the molds (about a scant tablespoon in each). Place the molds on a baking sheet and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

    4. DISSOLVE the remaining 2 teaspoons of gelatin in a small dish with 1 tablespoon water.

    5. HEAT the cream, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Heat until very warm, but not boiling. Stir in the gelatin until it dissolves. Pour the cream through a fine strainer into a container with a pouring spout, such as a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside to cool completely.

     

    6. POUR the cream over the pomegranate jelly in the molds, dividing evenly. Cover gently with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill and set, at least 4 hours. About an hour before serving…

    7. PUT the remaining cup of pomegranate juice in a small saucepan with the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until reduced in volume by half (you should have 1/2 cup syrup); cool.

    8. TO SERVE: Dip the molds in very hot water for about 30 seconds (be careful not to submerge). Run a small offset spatula or blade of a small, sharp knife around the edges of the panna cotta, then invert onto plates. Drizzle some pomegranate syrup over each, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT & GIFT: Perky Jerky, Now In Flavors

    There’s only a week left until Christmas, but you can click on over to get a boat load of one of our favorite snacks for gifting: Perky Jerky.

    This is tender, flavorful gourmet jerky with a twist: the meat is caffeinated. The manufacturer calls it “the world’s first all-natural performance enhancing meat snack.”

    Anyone who needs a snack along with a bit of energy can simply tear open a portion-controlled package and enjoy a flavorful, nourishment and yes, liveliness.

    The protein-laden beef or turkey jerky has been caffeinated with guarana, a natural energy booster with about twice the caffeine content of a coffee bean. A single-portion bag has less than 100 calories per ounce and is low in carbs, with 5g or less of sugar per serving.

    The products are all natural: no added MSF, no nitrates, no preservatives.
     
    BEEF & TURKEY, ORIGINAL & FLAVORS

    Since it debuted several years ago, Perky Jerky has grown in flavors. Marinating the meat overnight allows the flavors to infuse, and makes the jerky even more tender.

    Beef Perky Jerky and Turkey Perky Jerky are available in Original, Hot & Bothered, Sweet & Spicy and Teriyaki. Additionally, Turkey Perky Jerky is Jamaican Style.

       

    jerky-black-plate-230

    Delicious and tender jerky with a jolt of caffeine. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    package-trio-230

    Give individual packages or multipack boxes.
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    PACKAGES FOR EVERYONE

    From individual snacks to multi-portion sizes, there are:

  • Individual snack bags (1 ounce), $2.99
  • Multi-portion bags (2.2 ounces), $4.99
  • Family-size bags (5 ounces), $9.99
  • Multipack boxes of 6-packs (2.2 ounces) and 12-packs (2.2 ounces), $59.88
  •  
    If you want to try the flavors, pay for four and get the fifth free (2.2-ounce bags).

    You can sign up for monthly deliveries, too, and save 20%-30% with free shipping.

    HOLIDAY SPECIAL

    There’s 40% off plus free shipping on orders over $50. Use code HOLIDAY 40 through midnight on December 21st.

    Place your order for great jerky at PerkyJerky.com.

    Perky Jerky is also available in more than 30,000 retail outlets across the U.S., including GNC, Target and Walgreens.

    JERKY TRIVIA

  • The word jerky comes from the Quechua language of the Incas, who called their dried meat “charqui.”
  • While the prehistoric method of meat preservation was used by other ancient peoples, it was not known in Europe. The first European visitors to the New World found Native Americans making jerky from the meat of any animal they hunted, from buffalo to whale.
  • Today jerky can be found in meats as common as turkey, tuna and salmon, to exotic alligator and ostrich.
  • Perky Jerky was a accidental invention, like potato chips, yogurt and many of our foods. An energy drink spilled over some jerky, drenching the meat. Not about to throw good jerky away, the “inventors” ate it and discovered that it was not only more tender, but a great energy boost. (Today, the process for making Perky Jerky is a bit more sophisticated.)
  •   

    Comments

    TIP: Gourmet Grocery Store Gift Card

    If you can’t think of a gift for people who like good food—because you don’t know exactly what they’d like—consider a gift card.

    A gift card to a premium market enables recipients to try new things or buy luxury items like artisan cheeses.

    Many of us our space-challenged at home, cramming those gift sweaters and bath products into already crammed drawers and closets. Unlike most gifts, which require space to store, a gift card can be spent and consumed in the same day.

    You can purchase gift cards in-store, of course. Some retailers, like Whole Foods, let you buy the cards online as well, with the option to send them digitally with a personalized holiday message.

    The photo is actually the 2014 limited edition holiday gift card from Whole Foods.

    Solved: what to get your favorite cook or foodie.

     

    whole-foods-gift-card-230

    The limited edition 2014 holiday gift card from Whole Foods Market. Photo courtesy Whole Foods.

     

      

    Comments

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