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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

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: Smoked Salmon Gougères

    gougeres-pancetta-thyme-fontina-gougeres-aidamollenkamp-230r

    Gougères are the perfect hors d’ouevre to
    serve with white wine and sparkling wine.
    Photo and recipe courtesy Chef Aida
    Mollenkamp.

     

    Gougères (goo-ZHAIR) are airy French cheese puffs, savory choux pastry that is mixed with grated cheese and baked into savory bites.

    In France, the cheese is most often a hearty Swiss mountain cheese: Gruyère, Comté or Emmentaler; a hint of nutmeg is added to the recipe. Served warm from the oven, gougères are simple yet elegant hors d’oeuvres—a perfect choice to serve with Champagne, other sparkling wine, or any wine or craft beer.

    This special-occasion recipe comes from Beth and Bob Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm in Vermont.

    Beth’s ancestors began farming in 1641 in Maine; she’s a ninth generation farmer. Bob’s family, the Kennetts, started their farm in 1742 in New Hampshire. Today, their sons, David and Tom, with a new generation of grandchildren following close behind, work with Beth and Bob to continue the honored tradition of family farming.

    If you’re in Vermont, Beth hosts regular farm tours and cooking classes where visitors can follow the milk from the farm to the family and back to the kitchen.

     

    Beth used Cabot Cheddar, butter and cream cheese in this recipe. You can, of course, substitute any of the Swiss mountain cheeses for the Cheddar. The special touch here is integrating smoked salmon, a celebratory food, into the airy cheese puffs.

    If you’re not a smoked salmon fan, the gougères are just as special with crumbled bacon or minced ham. Here’s a recipe for Pancetta, Thyme & Fontina Gougères (photo above).

    Prep time is 40 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes.

    RECIPE: VERMONT CHEDDAR & SALMON GOUGÈRES

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

    For The Gougères

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch ground red pepper (cayenne)
  •  

    For The Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 -1 cup finely minced smoked salmon*
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and heat until butter is melted. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until mixture breaks away from side of pan and forms smooth ball.

     

    smoked-slamon-cheddar-gougeres-cabot-goboldwithbutter-230r

    Smoked salmon-stuffed gougères. Photo courtesy Cabot Creamery.

     
    3. REMOVE from heat and let rest for two minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, stirring quickly so the egg doesn’t cook, until the dough is firm, smooth and waxy. Add all of cheddar, all but 2 tablespoons of Parmesan, mustard and red pepper, and stir until well blended.

    4. TRANSFER the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with large plain tip. Pipe dough into two dozen small round mounds, evenly separated. Sprinkle tops with remaining Parmesan.

    5. BAKE for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer or until completely golden brown.

    6. MAKE the filling. Beat together the cream cheese, salmon, chives and hot sauce. Stir in sour cream to achieve proper consistency for filling. Stir in red peppers.

    7. MAKE a small slit in side of each gougère. Scrape the filling into a pastry bag or plastic bag with the corner cut off. Squeeze some of filling into each gougère. Plate and serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Bread Wreath

    rolls-wreath-artofcheese2-230

    Turn rolls into a holiday bread wreath. Photo
    courtesy ArtOfCheese.com.

     

    This show-stopping, pull apart bread wreath is served warm from the oven, with a centerpiece of melted Camembert cheese for dipping.

    Serve it with cocktails or as a TV snack. It will impress everyone, and it’s not hard to do. Starting with frozen rolls makes it a snap!

    Prep time is 3 hours (most of the time is for the bread to rise), cook time is 45 minutes. You can substitute a Baby Brie for the Camembert (the difference between Brie and Camembert is largely the size).

    The recipe is courtesy of Président Cheese, which has many ideas of what to do with cheese at its website, ArtOfCheese.com.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS WREATH BREAD

    Ingredients For 8-10 Portions

  • 1 8-ounce wheel of Camembert cheese (Président
    or other brand)
  • 1 25-ounce package Parker House-style frozen rolls
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds) for garnish
  • Flaked Maldon or other coarse, flaky sea salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COVER a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. USE the Camembert as a guide to mark the center of the baking sheet; temporarily place it in the middle of the sheet. Arrange the frozen dough rolls in two circles around the cheese. Leave a 1/2” space between the rolls and between the circles (the rolls will expand as they bake). Remove the cheese and refrigerate until ready to use.

    3. BRUSH the frozen rolls with melted butter. Thaw for 1 hour in a warm, draft-free area, then allow an additional 2 hours to rise until they have doubled in size. Once the dough has formed a “wreath,” par-bake it at 325°F for 7 minutes.

    4. USE a sharp knife to carefully remove the top layer of rind from the Camembert wheel. This will allow for easy dipping.

    5. REMOVE the par-baked rolls from the oven and fit the Camembert in the center (remove any wrapping). Bake an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and the cheese is melted.

     

    rolls-wreath-dip-artofcheese-230

    Dip the rolls into the baked Camembert. Photo courtesy ArtOfCheese.com.

     

    6. USE the parchment paper to slide the wreath off of the baking sheet and onto a serving platter or board. Brush rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with flaked Maldon sea salt. Sprinkle the Camembert with minced rosemary.

    7. GARNISH the wreath by inserting small 1” long pieces of fresh rosemary and clusters of pomegranate seeds between the rolls. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Game Day BBQ Deviled Eggs

    bbq-deviled-eggs-byronsBBQ-ps-230

    A hearty approach to deviled eggs: Top them with barbecue! Photo courtesy Byron’s BBQ.

     

    This tasty, fun recipe was developed by Byron’s BBQ for the November 29th Egg Bowl. The result: Ole Miss triumphed over Mississippi State, and some people enjoyed barbecue-topped deviled eggs.

    Whether you’re at the stadium or on the couch, the recipe works for any game day: BBQ-Topped Deviled Eggs.

    Byron’s BBQ is frozen after cooking, to lock in freshness without the need for extra preservatives. The pork shoulder is hickory-smoked for hours, then hand-pulled off the bone and sauced. To prepare it, simply thaw and heat in an oven, on a grill or in a slow cooker.

    You can find Byron’s BBQ at Sam’s Club locations nationwide for less than $15 per 4 pound tray. It’s a great deal for large family gatherings or parties.

    You use less than a pound to make the deviled eggs, so there’s plenty of barbecue left for pulled pork pizza, tacos, tostadas, salads, sandwiches, scrambles, sliders, quesadillas and wraps. When you only have a bit left, use it to fill baked potatoes.

     

    RECIPE: BARBECUE-TOPPED DEVILED EGGS

    Ingredients For 24 Halves

  • 12 ounces fully-cooked pork barbecue, thawed
  • 12 eggs, hard-boiled, cooled and peeled
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon spicy mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Garnish: 6 chives, chopped
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the roast according to package directions and keep warm.

    2. CUT the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise and transfer all the yolks into a small mixing bowl. Set the egg whites aside.

    3. ADD the mayonnaise and mustard to the egg yolks and mash with a fork until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon some egg yolk mixture into each egg white. Top each with barbecue and garnish with chives. Serve immediately.

     
    ABOUT BYRON’S BBQ

    Byron’s has been making authentic American barbecue since 1957, when Byron Charleton started selling the homemade BBQ recipe that made him famous in his hometown for years.

     

    byrons-bbq-box-230

    Delicious barbecue pork is well priced at Sam’s Club. Photo courtesy Byron’s BBQ.

     
    The barbecue is still made the same way on the same plot of land in Gallatin, Tennessee where Byron set up his first smokehouse. The pit master slowly smokes quality meat over an open-pit hardwood fire and slathers on a signature spicy-sweet sauce. The quick freeze technique enables the company to avoid any added chemical preservatives.

    Learn more at ByronsBBQ.com.
     
    BARBECUE, BARBEQUE OR BBQ?

    Readers often ask us about the correct spelling: Is it barbecue, barbeque bar-b-que or BBQ? The answer is that barbecue and barbeque are alternative spellings, and BBQ is the abbreviation. We chose to use “barbecue” instead of “barbeque” in THE NIBBLE because more of the professional barbecue groups use that spelling.

    The word “barbecue” comes from the Haitian Arawakan word “barbakoa,” meaning “framework of sticks.” It refers to a raised wooden structure used to either sleep on or cure meat.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Pecan Cheese Ball “Pine Cone”

    Here’s some food fun for the holiday season—especially when you receive a gift tin of gourmet pecan halves! Not only does this cranberry cheese ball make an impression on the appetizer buffet, but it’s easy enough that you can let older children put it together as their contribution.

    The recipe is courtesy Sonia, who writes as The Healthy Foodie. She also does a version that looks like a pineapple.

    The day before, gather some pine branches to wash and dry. You don’t want the strong scent of fresh-cut pine wafting over the food.

    Then, get ready to mix:

    RECIPE: “PINE CONE” PECAN CHEESE BALL

    Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (low fat is OK)
  • ½ cup low fat sour cream (low fat is OK)
  • Zest of one orange
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  •    

    pecan-cheese-ball-2-thehealthyfoodie-230

    A holiday cheese ball. Photo courtesy The Healthy Foodie.

  • 75-100 perfect pecan halves (to make the pine cone effect)
  • Bread or crackers
  •  

    pecan-cheese-ball-3-thehealthyfoodie-230

    Add some fresh evergreen. Photo courtesy The Healthy Foodie.

     

    Preparation

    1. WHIP the cream cheese and sour cream using an electric mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Use medium speed until well incorporated—smooth and creamy in texture—about 2-3 minutes. Incorporate the rest of the ingredients and continue mixing on low speed until well combined, about 30-45 seconds.

    2. TURN the mixture onto a serving plate and shape into a teardrop. Cover with a plastic wrap and, ideally, refrigerate until the next day. This will allow the flavors to fully develop.

    3. WAIT until the last minute to cover with the pecans to avoid them going soft. Take the cream cheese “ball” out of the fridge about an hour before you are ready to start laying on the pecans. Pecans will stick better to cheese that is closer to room temperature.

     

    4. BEGIN to layer the pecan halves at the tip and keep shingling until you get to the top. The first rows will lay flat against the cheese but they will be more and more upright as you move towards the end. This will happen naturally. Just keep them nice and tight and use the best pecans you can find.

    5. DECORATE the serving dish with a few pine branches and serve with the crackers or bread.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Hors d’Oeuvre For Entertaining Or Snacking

    We found these photos on the Facebook page of Jarlsberg USA, and liked the idea for holiday entertaining as well as family snacking.

    Make four or five different versions to serve with cocktails, or one or two types for a TV snack. For a children’s activity, you can set out ingredients and let kids assemble their own snacks.

    The key to visual appeal is to offset the pale color of most cheeses with other, bright colored ingredients. Turkey and Swiss cheese may be a popular combination, for instance, but to the eye it’s beige and beige. Go for bright and appealing.

    Then, all you need are four-inch skewers, plain or twisted (for a fancier touch). Or, check out our festive party picks for stars, evergreen trees metallic fringe and colored cellophane tips.

    Use the list below to pick two or three ingredients to pair with the cheese. The skewers are plenty tasty as is, but you can serve them with a dish of honey mustard for dipping. You can buy honey mustard, or make your own by adding honey, sugar or noncaloric sweetener to mustard, in a proportion to your liking.
     
    COLORFUL CHEESES

    In addition to your favorite cheeses, consider options beyond beige. Check out these special cheeses with deep colors:

  • Cahill’s Farm Flavored Irish Cheddar in Elderberry (red marbled) or Porter (brown marbled) flavors (photo).
  •    

    skewers-jarlsbergUSA-fb-view2-230rev

    Two popular pairings with cheese: dried apricots and basil-tomato. Photo courtesy Jarlsberg USA.

     

  • Mimolette, a French cow’s milk cheese the color of a harvest moon, in the shape of a ball (photo).
  • Basiron Pesto looks like green cheese from the moon (photo).
  • Basiron Pesto Rosso, a Gouda-style cheese from Holland, with a harvest moon color that comes from the addition of tomatoes (photo).
  •  
    Then, it’s time to pick your add-ons:

     

    skewers-jarlsbergUSAFB-230rev

    Serrano ham and sundried tomatoes are bright additions to appetizer skewers. Photo courtesy Jarlsberg USA.

     

    PROTEINS

  • Ham cubes
  • Serrano ham slices
  • Pepperoni
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  •  
    VEGETABLES

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Blue or purple potatoes (cooked and sliced or cubed)
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Dilly beans
  • Gherkins/pickle slices
  • Pepperoncini
  • Pimento-stuffed olives
  • Red, orange or yellow bell pepper strips
  • Snow peas
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • FRUIT

  • Clementine/tangerine segments
  • Dried apricots
  • Kiwi
  • Mango cubes
  • Melon cubes
  • Pineapple cubes
  • Red or purple grapes
  •  
    Send us photos of your favorite creations!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Appetizer Bites & Picks

    Our friends at EatWisconsinCheese.com, the consumer site of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, spend their creative time developing delicious new ideas for cheese. We had a lot of fun with these picks and bites, which we served last night as an alternative to a cheese plate.

    Picks are finger foods served on cocktail picks or toothpicks that holds the ingredients together. Bites are self-containing and require no pick. Both are easy to create and make a big impression.

    Arrange a plate of contrasting colors, flavors and styles to serve with holiday cocktails. Or, serve them alongside soups or salads—for example, a shot of tomato soup with a Greek Salad Bite.

    While they are delicious as is, you can enhance them with a variety of mustards and sauces. While we’ve provided a long list for your perusal, you can see them all online and download a recipe brochure.
     
    Peruse the 44 options below and pick five or so for your hors d’oeuvre plate. And check out the dessert picks for a sweet finish.

       

    shell-pick-230

    Many hors d’oeuvre can be served on a pick. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

  • Antipasto Pick: Artichoke, Caper Berry, Salami Chunk, Red Pepper, Parsley Garnish, Sharp Provolone Cheese, Olive Oil
  • Antipasto Bite: Canned Artichoke Cup, Cubed Sharp Provolone Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper, Diced Salami, Capers, Olive Oil, Parsley Leaf
  • Asiago Egg Bite: Hard Cooked Egg White Cup, Egg Yolk, Red Pepper, Parsley, Green Onion, Asiago Cheese, Mayonnaise
  • Baby Pick: Baby Swiss Cheese Cube, Ham Chunk, Green Grape, Topped with a Pretzel Knot
  • BBLT Pick: Crustless White Bread, Brick Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayonnaise
  • Beef Roll Bite: Horseradish Cold Pack Cheese, Roast Tenderloin or Skirt Steak, Arugula Leaves, Red Bell Pepper Strips
  • Belgian Bite: Belgian Endive, Ricotta Cheese, Olive Tapenade, Parsley Garnish
  • Brie-O-Politan Pick: Bias-Sliced Cucumber, Bias-Sliced Roma Tomato, Bias-Sliced Brie Cheese Log, Arugula, Pitted Niçoise Olive
  • Caesar Bite: Small Romaine Lettuce Leaf, Thinly Sliced Romaine Lettuce, Caesar Salad Dressing, Cherry Tomato Wedge, Crouton, Shaved Parmesan Cheese, Anchovy Filet, Mini Lemon Wedge
  • Caprese Pick: Grape Tomato, Basil Leaf, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Ciligene
  • Club Sandpick: Sandwich Bread Slice, Monterey Jack Cheese Slice, Cucumber Slices, Ham Slice, Tomato Slices, Wisconsin Monterey Jack Slice, Leaf Lettuce
  • Cobb Pick: Bread Slice, Blue Cheese, Bacon, Cherry Tomato, Hard Cooked Egg Wedge
  • Cordon Blue Pick: Ham Slice, Cream Cheese, Red Pepper, Gruyère Cheese Cube, Mini Dill Pickle
  • Del Mar Pick: Fontina Cheese, Flat Leaf Parsley Leaf, Smoked Oyster, Pimento-Stuffed Olive
  • Dutch Pick: Medjool Date, Edam Cheese Chunk, Ham Slice
  • Gorgonzola Bacon Bite: Cooked Baby Red Potato Cup, Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese, Bacon Bits, Sliced Green Onion, Mayonnaise
  • Gorgonzola Date Bite: Seeded Medjool Date, Gorgonzola Cheese Wedge, Prosciutto Slice Strip
  • Greek Salad Pick: Cucumber Chunk, Grape Tomato, Feta Cheese Cube, Pitted Kalamata, Olive Oil Drizzle, Oregano Garnish
  • Grinder Pick: Pepperoncini, Hard Salami Slice, String Cheese, Pimento Stuffed Olive
  • Ham & Cheese Pick: Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, Arugula Leaves, Sliced Ham
  • Half-Shell Bite: Oyster on the Half-Shell, Pico De Gallo, Crumbled Cotija Cheese, Cilantro Leaf
  •  

    parmesan-potato-bite-230

    An example of a bite: No toothpick required. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     
  • Monk Pick: Pretzel Roll Slice, Wholegrain Mustard, Gruyere, Les Frères or Muenster Cheese Slice, Mini Dill Pickle, Cocktail Onion
  • Monroe Bite: Pumpernickel Cocktail Bread, Limburger Cheese, Red Onion, Green Onion, Whole Grain Mustard
  • Muenster Beef Pick: Muenster Cheese, Sliced Roast Beef, Green Onion
  • Mushroom Pick: Pickled Mushroom, Ricotta Salata Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Capers, Parsley Garnish, Olive Oil Drizzle
  • Napoli Pick: Fresh Mozzarella Roll, Mascarpone, Pesto, Sliced Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper, Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Norwegian Pick: Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Cream Cheese, Lox/Cured Salmon, Baby Dill Garnish
  • Oscar Pick: Ham Slice, Garlic & Herb Cheese Spread, Crabmeat, Blanched Asparagus Spear
  • Parmesan Potato Bite: Cooked Baby Red Potato Cup, Shredded Parmesan Cheese, Bacon Bits, Diced Hard-Boiled Egg, Chives, Mayonnaise, Prepared Mustard
  • Peppadew Bite: Peppadew, Garden Vegetable Cheese Spread, Parsley Garnish
  • Potato Salad Bite: Red Potato Slice, Hard Cooked Egg Slice, Mascarpone Cheese, Dijon Mustard, Sweet Pickle Wedge
  •  

  • Pesto Pick: Pesto Gouda or Gouda Cheese, Basil Leaf, Grape Tomato, Chicken Breast
  • Roman Bite: Bread Coin, Oil Cured Tomato, Oregano, Romano Cheese Chunk, Cracked Black Pepper, Olive Oil Drizzle
  • Reuben Pick: Corned Beef Slice, Swiss Cheese Slice, Mixture of 1,000 Island Salad Dressing and Sauerkraut, Mini Dill Pickle
  • Rustica Pick: Mild Provolone Cheese, Salami, Pepperoni, Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, Pitted Kalamata Garnish
  • Smorg-More Pick: Caper Berry, Dill Havarti Cheese, Lox/Cured Salmon, Baby Dill, Lemon Wedge Garnish
  • Shrimp Bite: Bias-Cut Seedless Cucumber Slice, Mayonnaise Ketchup Mixture, Cooked Tail-On Peeled and Deveined Shrimp, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Pearl, Lemon Peel
  • Shell Pick: Fontina Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Roasted Red Peppers, Pepperoncini, Capers, Basil Leaf Garnish
  • Shooter Bite: Shot Glass, Pico De Gallo, Fresh Shucked Oyster, Crumbled Cotija Cheese, Cilantro Leaf, Lemon Peel Strip
  • Shrimp Pick: Thick Cucumber Slice, Cooked Shrimp, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Pearl, Lemon Rind
  • Tapas Pick: Quince Paste, Queso Blanco Cheese, Serrano Ham, Green Grape
  • TexMex Bite: Corn Chip Cup, Salsa Jack Cheese Cube, Black Bean Salsa, Cilantro Garnish
  • Torte Pick: Camembert Cheese, Gorgonzola Cheese, Walnut, Red Grape
  • Waldorf Lettuce Bite: Small Bibb or Butter Lettuce Leaf, Gouda Cheese, Diced Celery, Diced Apple, Raisins, Chopped Walnuts, Mayonnaise, Lemon Juice, Parsley Leaf
  • Watermelon Pick: Watermelon Cube, Fresh Mint Leaf, Feta Cube, Watermelon Half-Ball
  • Wisconsin Pick: Sausage, Pepper Jack Cheese, Sweet Pickle, Cheddar Cheese Curd or Cube
  •  
    FESTIVE PARTY PICKS

    These special party picks will make your hors d’oeuvre even tastier:

  • Holiday party picks, silver and gold picks with a star on top
  • Christmas party picks: assorted red, green and white with Christmas trees on top.
  • Foil party picks: fun metallic fringe in blue, green, purple and silver for New Year’s Eve.
  • Conventional frilled party picks, with cellophane frills in bright colors for Thanksgiving.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pair Cheese & Nuts

    candied-walnuts-asiago-wmmb-230

    Asiago cheese with candied walnuts and
    raspberries. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    Yesterday was National Nut Day, so the folks at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board sent us some popular cheese and nut pairings.

    In addition to fruits, breads and crackers, nuts a flavor and crunch counterpoint. Try these pairings the next time you serve cheese:

    • Almonds: Available in several forms—candied, raw, roasted, salted, smoked, spiced—almonds are a great choice for pairing with most cheese varieties that are semi-soft to firm (hard).
    • Pecans: With their natural sweetness, pecans complement the salt in cheese. Try a candied or spiced pecan (recipe) alongside salty cheeses, such as feta or romano.
    • Pistachios: The delicate, buttery flavor of these popular nuts goes best with soft cheeses such as brie or ricotta .
    • Walnuts: The earthy flavor and dry texture of walnuts pair nicely with aged cheeses, such as an aged asiago or cheddar. Or, drizzle with honey to pair with a softer cheese, especially blue cheeses like gorgonzola.

    MORE TO MUNCH ON

  • Candied Nuts Recipe
  • Cheese Condiments: many more foods to pair with cheese
  • Glossary Of Cheese Terms
  • The History Of Cheese
  • How To Taste Cheese
  •  
      

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    RECIPE: Figgy Blue Cheese Bacon Bites

    fig-blue-cheese-bacon-bites-litehouse-230

    Bacon, blue cheese, figs and…Fig Newtons!
    Photo courtesy Litehouse Foods.

     

    Here’s what we’re making this weekend to go with Olive Oil Martinis: Figgy Blue Cheese Bacon Bites.

    The recipe was developed by Jennifer Fisher for Litehouse Foods. You can see the whole photo spread here.

    These appetizers are simple to make from just four ingredients that you can easily keep on hand. Says Jennifer, “An insanely delicious bacon aroma wafts through the house to alert everyone that good things are about to happen!”

    Prep and cooking time is 35 minutes.

    RECIPE: FIGGY BLUE CHEESE BACON BITES

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 6 strips of hardwood-smoked thickly sliced maple bacon
  • 12 fig cookies (like Fig Newtons)
  • 4 ounces blue cheese
  • 6 dried Turkish brown figs
  • Plus:

  • Toothpicks
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.

    2. CUT bacon in half crosswise so that the 6 strips become 12 shorter strips.

    3. CUT blue cheese into 12 approximate ½ teaspoon chunks.

    4. SLICE dried figs in half lengthwise.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Top one fig cookie with blue cheese. Top blue cheese with fig, cut side down. Wrap with bacon, using a toothpick to secure.

    6. PLACE on the prepared baking sheet. If you have a rack or crisper sheet, set this on top of baking sheet for more even cooking. Place Figgy Blue Cheese Bacon Bites on the sheet and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until bacon is crisped and cheese is bubbling.

     

    fig-bacon-bites-raw-litehouse-230

    Ready to go into the oven. Photo courtesy Litehouse Foods.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Cheesecake

    blue-cheese-artichoke-cheesecake-wmmb-230

    For a delightful change of pace, try a savory
    cheesecake appetizer. Photo courtesy
    Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    When you want to serve something impressive and unexpected at your next dinner party or cocktail party, consider a savory cheesecake.

    Instead of sugar and vanilla, it calls for herbs, salt and savory components—cheeses such as blue cheese or Gruyère and additions like seafood and vegetables.

    Cut small wedges—this is a rich starter! Serve with toast points, baguette slices or crackers and decorate the plate with appropriate cheese accompaniments—nuts, and grapes, for example. Add a touches of color with fresh green herbs or red grape tomatoes or peppadews.

    You can also the whole cheesecake at a party, on a tray with crackers.

    Bake the cheesecake the night before and take it out of the refrigerator an hour before serving to allow the cheesecake to reach room temperature. In addition to the recipe below, here are four more savory cheesecake recipes, including Tuna (you can substitute smoked salmon), Gruyère & Lobster, Provolone & Corn and No-Bake Basil Cheesecake. All are courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     
    RECIPE: BLUE CHEESE CHEESECAKE

    For a perfect cocktail pairing, serve this cheesecake with a Vodka Martini With Buttermilk Blue Stuffed Olives. For a first course, look for a big white wine: either a sweet white (like a Sauternes or a late harvest Vouvray) or Chardonnay (if your budget permits, a Puligny-Montrachet). Another interesting match would be a ruby Port (save the vintage Ports for the end of dinner).

    This recipe was created by Wisconsin chef Mindy Segal, who used Hook’s Wisconsin Blue Cheese and garnished the dish with sweet components: Port Wine Poached Pears, Port Caramel And Candied Walnuts. You can keep it all savory with a lightly dressed salad or any garnish you choose.

    And remember: the better the blue cheese, the better the cheesecake.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

    For The Poached Pears

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) Port wine
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Rind of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, scraped
  • 6 medium pears (Bartlett, Forelle or Comice)
  •  
    For The Sugared Walnuts

  • 1 tablespoon egg white
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup walnuts
  •  

    For The Cheesecake

  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 ounces blue cheese, room temperature, finely crumbled
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons clover or orange honey
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Pinch fresh cracked pepper
  • Optional garnish: rosemary sprigs
  •  
    For The Caramel

  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 1/2 ounces light corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup reserved poaching liquid
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cracked pepper
  •  

    blue-cheese-cheesecake-wmmb-230r

    Chef Mindy Segal’s preparation with poached pears, candied walnuts and caramel. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the poached pears. In a heavy sauce pan, combine all ingredients except the pears; bring to a boil and cook until reduced by a quarter. Meanwhile, peel the pears and add the peels to the poaching liquid. Cut the pears in half and core. Strain the poaching liquid and add the pears. Bring to a simmer and poach the pears until tender. Place the pears and liquid in opaque container. Cover with plastic and let stand at room temperature overnight. Reserve 1 cup of the poaching liquid for the Port caramel.

    2. MAKE the sugared walnuts. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In small bowl, mix all ingredients except the walnuts. Add the walnuts and stir to coat. Spread in single layer on the baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Break into pieces. Set aside.

    3. MAKE the cheesecake. Heat the oven to 250°F. Spray an 8-inch spring form pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper; spray again. In large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the blue cheese; beat until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl. Add sour cream, honey, salt and pepper. Beat until combined. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until set and knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature in pan.

    4. MAKE the Port caramel. In heavy sauce pot, combine 1 cup sugar and the corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Cook at a slow rolling boil until dark amber. In another pot, bring the cream and reserved poaching liquid just to a boil; keep warm. When the sugar is amber, add the remaining sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the cream mixture slowly, allowing the mixture to reduce after each addition. Cook until the consistency of a thick syrup, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

    5. SERVE. Cut the cheesecake into wedges. Serve on plate with some of the poached pear, Port wine caramel and sugared walnuts, or garnishes of choice.

      

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