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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 Beverages

RECIPE: Iced Maple Chai

Chai tea is just as refreshing when iced.
Photo courtesy Republic Of Tea.

 

If you enjoy a hot cup of chai tea in the cooler months, brew it and ice it for summer. Here’s a recipe from the Republic Of Tea.

To add another dimension of flavor, the recipe uses maple syrup as the sweetener (that’s real maple syrup, not pancake syrup, which is artificially flavored corn syrup).

If you’re not not keen on maple, use honey, half as much agave*, another sweetener, or no sweetener at all.

RECIPE: ICED CHAI TEA

Ingredients For 4 Six-Ounce Servings

  • 2 cups water
  • 6 chai tea bags or 6 teaspoons whole-leaf chai tea
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup or equivalent sweetener
  • 1 cup milk
  • Ice, for serving
  •  
    Here’s a recipe in case you want to make your own masala chai tea blend from scratch.

    Preparation

    1. BRING 2 cups of water to a boil and pour over tea in a heat-resistant pitcher. Allow to infuse for 5 minutes, then remove the tea.

    2. STIR in the maple syrup until dissolved. Let the tea cool to room temperature.

    3. ADD the milk. Then chill first, or pour over ice to serve immediately.

    Find dozens more iced tea recipes at RepublicOfTea.com.

     
    *Agave nectar is about twice as sweet as sugar, honey and maple syrup.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Drink Covers For Bug-Free Drinks

    We love this simple trick from gourmet caterer Pinch Food Design:

    To keep pesky bugs out of your drink at poolside or other outdoor leisure, poke a hole in a cupcake liner with a straw.

    If you want to create a perfect opening, get out the three-hole-punch.

    These multicolored cupcake liners from Wilton are well priced and ready to party.

    They’re available in different colors and designs, including polka dots, damask/zebra and a very festive color wheel.

    Don’t need a straw? Consider reusable plastic drink covers.

    These plastic drink covers, shaped like flowers. They have a tight, spill-proof seal, and thus have no opening for a straw.

    More subtle designs include these lily pads.

     

    lemon-cocktail-cupcake-wrapper-pinchfooddesign

    Keep the bugs away with cupcake liners. Photo courtesy Pinch Food Design.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Keep Your Water Bottle Cold

    Record high temperatures and humidity nationwide today mean that no one should leave home without a water bottle or other hydration.

    But what happens if you don’t have a bottle chilling in the fridge…or even if you do?

    You wouldn’t think that a tip would be needed on how to chill a water bottle. But if your technique is simply to put the bottle in the fridge to chill down the water, you find that it warms up pretty quickly on a hot summer day.

    Here are some tips to keep that bottle of water colder, longer.

    Definitely start by keep your water bottle in the fridge; but “layer” that cold water with one of these techniques:

    3+ WAYS TO CHILL A WATER BOTTLE

    The Right Ice

  • Get a water bottle ice cube tray and add an ice stick to the bottle. Don’t buy the small round ice cubes or smaller sticks: The smaller the piece of ice, the faster it melts.
  •    

    vacu-vin-water-bottle-chiller-230

    A water bottle chilling jacket makes room temperature water cold, or keeps chilled water cooler, longer. Photo courtesy Vacu Vin.

     

    water-bottle-ice-cube-tray-progressiveIntl-230

    Ice cube trays designed for water bottles.
    Photo courtesy Photo courtesy Progressive
    International.

     

    Insulated Jackets

  • Use Rapid Ice, a pre-frozen jacket that goes over a wine bottle to chill it. It fits large bottles of water perfectly, and also helps keep 16-ounce bottles cool. It will extend the coldness of your water, which hopefully is pre-chilled with an added stick of ice. Place the sleeve back in the freezer when you return, and you can also use it to chill wine until you need it again for water.
  • Rapid Ice also makes a can chiller, to fit over beer and soda, which can help keep your water cool.
  • Rapid Ice competitor Vacu Vin makes a water bottle chiller jacket for a 16-ounce water bottle. It will also chill a room temperature bottle of water in five minutes.
  •  
    Other Techniques

  • Freeze the bottle, making sure it isn’t full to the top so the water can expand. Remove the bottle when you get up in the morning so the ice will start to melt
  • Use a good old-fashioned thermos bottle.
  •  
    More Ideas?

    If you’ve got them, share them!

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sprizz-O Carbonated Juice Drink

    grapefruit-sprizzo-230

    In five flavors, Sprizz-O is very light and
    refreshing on a hot day. Photo courtesy
    Sprizz-O.

     

    The specialty food business is full of entrepreneurs who follow their dream, creating products they’d like to buy but haven’t found in the marketplace.

    In the soda arena, sparkling juice pioneers like Izze and Fizzy Lizzy have offered a lighter, fresher, all natural alternative to soda pop, simply by combining juice with carbonated water.

    Sprizz-O, new in the market, is even lighter, an ethereal, minimally sweet carbonated beverage that you’ll either find to be very refreshing, or not flavorful enough.

    We were divided in those opinions at THE NIBBLE’s tasting of samples we received. Sprizz-O is so light, it takes getting used to. But all of us finally got there, declaring it a fine refreshment for a scorching day.

    Made from juice, carbonated water and a bit of cane sugar, each 12 ounce bottle contains contains 50 calories.

    If you’d like to try a carbonated drink with a much lower sugar level, Sprizz-O is available in Cranberry, Grape, Grapefruit, Lime and Orange.

     

    Sprizz-O is currently rolling out in the metropolitan New York region, but you can follow the website to see when it arrives close you.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Red Jacket Orchards Strawberry Apple Juice

    strawberry-apple-juice-red-apple-orchards-230

    Although it’s mixed with apple juice, it tastes
    like strawberry juice! Photo courtesy Red
    Jacket Orchards.

     

    Last week we were in love with Bolthouse Watermelon Mint Lemonade. Call us fickle, but this week we’re in love with something new.

    Red Jacket Orchards Strawberry Apple Juice tastes like lush strawberry juice, the fresh fruit puréed and blended with the company’s apple juice. Located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, the company has been growing apples and pressing juice since 1958.

    The juices are cold pressed and unfiltered, capturing the freshest flavors and nutrients (heating juice to pasteurize it for shelf stability eliminates some nutrients and flavor).

    It’s pretty close to eating strawberries, rich in vitamin C (eight berries contain 140% of the U.S. recommended daily allowance) and polyphenols, powerful antioxidants. Health science research indicates that the polyphenols in strawberries play a major role in helping to regulate blood sugar response—good news for people with type 2 diabetes.

     
    Enjoy a glass of chilled soup. Mix it with club soda or clear spirits (gin, tequila, vodka). Use it as a base for fruit soup, adding a mound of mixed diced fruits to the center of the bowl. Churn it into sorbet or freeze into granita.

    In addition to plain and strawberry-apple juices, Red Jacket Orchards also Blackcurrant Apple, Grape Apple, Raspberry Apple along with Apricot Stomp (pure apricot nectar, no apple juice), Tart Cherry Stomp, Apple Cider and Spiced Apple Cider.

    Discover more at RedAppleOrchards.com.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Red, White & Blue Soft Drinks & Cocktails

    red-white-blue-berries-herradura-230

    Drink red, white and blue for July 4th. Photo
    courtesy Herradura Tequila.

     

    You can turn any clear drink into a July 4th cocktail or mocktail, as Herradura Tequila has done with its “Red, White & Blueberries” Cocktail.

    Just start with a clear spirit or mixer, layer on other flavors (clear liqueurs, coconut water, etc.)

  • Club Soda
  • Mineral Water
  • Seven-Up/Lemon Lime Soda
  • Tonic Water
  • Gin, Tequila or Vodka
  •  
    RECIPE: TEQUILA RED, WHITE & BLUE

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1½ ounces silver/blanco tequila
  • 2½ ounces coconut water
  • ¼ ounce agave nectar
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Optional: crushed ice
  •  
    For Garnish

  • Blueberries and raspberries
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE berries and crushed ice in the glass.

    2. COMBINE drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into the glass.
     

    Find more cocktail recipes at Herradura.com.
     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Veri Soda, Organic & Low Calorie

    When “natural” isn’t good enough for you, go all the way. That’s what the makers of Veri Organic Soda did, creating a line of USDA certified organic and low-calorie soda (the first organic and low calorie line), sweetened with organic cane sugar and organic stevia.

    It’s very flavorful soda with modest calories, no artificial ingredients and no added chemicals.

    What you do get are bright and refreshing flavors, the four most popular: Cola, Ginger Ale, Lemon-Lime and Orange. At 60 calories per 12-ounce serving, they’re half the calories of conventional sodas.

    The brand uses a blend of organic cane sugar and organic stevia to deliver just the right amount of sweetness.

     

    veri-organic-cans-230

    Three of the four Veri flavors, just 60 calories a can. Photo courtesy Veri Soda Company.

     

    If you’re ready to swap out your standard soda or cocktail mixer for a healthier version, try Veri Soda. We enjoyed every flavor.

    The Veri Soda Company company is a Climate Neutral organization (net zero carbon footprint—more information) and committed to Non GMO ingredients.

    You can use the form on the company website to find a retailer near you.

    In the interim, head to Amazon.com for:

  • Veri Cola
  • Veri Lemon Lime
  • Veri Ginger Ale
  • Veri Orange
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Orange Blossom Water

    orange-blosssom-water-cortas-amz-230

    Orange blossom water is a by-product of
    distilling orange blossoms for oil. Look for
    the Cortas brand. Photo courtesy Cortas.

     

    June 27th is National Orange Blossom Day. The small, white, delicate blossoms, once a favorite flower in bridal bouquets, are used to make orange blossom water (also called orange flower water), a clear, aromatic by-product of the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms.

    While the distillate, orange blossom oil*, is used in perfumery, the orange blossom water, delicately scented like the flowers and not the fruit, is used as a calming personal and household fragrance. It is added to skin toners, bath water and spritzed from an aromatizer onto fabric and into the air (our grandmother sprayed it on sheets when ironing).

    And it’s used in foods and beverages, today’s focus. You can add orange blossom water to:

  • Baked goods and desserts: cakes and cookies, candies and confections, custards and puddings, scones…and also in crêpe or pancake batter. It pairs well with almond, citrus, cream and vanilla and cream, lemon and other citrus flavors vanilla.
  • Cocktails and beverages: in mineral water, the Ramos Gin Fizz, café blanc (recipe below) and orange blossom mint lemonade.
  • Middle Eastern, North African and Indian recipes (add some to couscous!).
  •  
    You can buy a bottle in some specialty food stores, Greek and Middle Eastern markets and online. The Cortas brand, from Lebanon, is a favorite among those who use a lot of orange blossom water.

     

    *Used to make perfume, the oil is called neroli oil. In 1680, Anne Marie Orsini, the Italian duchess of Bracciano and princess of Nerola, introduced to orange blossom perfume. She so loved the spicy aroma with sweet and flowery notes that she used the fragrance to perfume everything—her bath, her clothes, her household furnishings. The fragrance became named for her (but we found no explanation of why it’s called neroli, not nerola). The fragrance was also a favorite in the court of Elizabeth I of England.

     

    RECIPE: CAFÉ BLANC, LEBANESE HOT ORANGE BLOSSOM DRINK

    Café blanc, “white coffee” is a refreshing infusion made from boiling water, orange flower water and optional honey sweetener. Thanks to Victoria of BoisDeJasmin.com for her recipes with orange blossom water. There are links to others below, but we’ll start with this easy beverage recipe.

    “Café blanc is a bit of a misnomer because this Lebanese drink contains no coffee at all,” says Victoria. “It’s just hot water flavored with orange blossom, and it’s like sipping air perfumed with flowers. Mixed with water, orange blossom tastes not just floral, but also green, citrusy, spicy and warm. The first sip reveals a zesty freshness, but what lingers is the taste of honeyed petals.”

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon honey
  •  
    Preparation

     

    cafe-blanc-orange-blossom-drink-boisdejamin-230

    Hot orange blossom water: so simple to make, so refreshing. Photo courtesy Bois de Jasmin.

     
    1. ADD the orange blossom water to the boiling water, stir and taste. If you’d prefer the drink sweet, stir in the honey.

    2. FOR a cold drink, do the same with mineral water or lemonade.
     

    MORE WAYS TO USE ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER

    Fruit Desserts. Orange blossom pairs especially well with strawberries and apricots—cakes and tarts, compotes and jams, drinks. Sprinkle apricots with sugar and lemon juice and bake them in a 400°F/200°C oven until the sugar caramelizes and apricots soften. Drizzle with orange blossom water and serve hot or cold. Make a refreshing drink of apricot juice mixed with orange blossom water and sparkling water.

    Ice Cream. Soften a container of vanilla ice cream slightly, and add 4 teaspoons of orange blossom water per pint (or to taste). Mix well, chill and serve. If you make your own ice cream, add orange blossom water to the custard before freezing it.

    Puddings and Ice Cream. Anything creamy—custard, mousse, panna cotta, rice pudding–can be enhanced with orange blossom water gratefully. Victoria uses it to give an adult twist to rice pudding: Rice Pudding with Vanilla and Orange Blossom.

    White Chocolate. Mix orange blossom water into white chocolate-based sauces and desserts, or into cream to make a delicious tart filling. Whip heavy cream with sugar, add a few drops of orange blossom water, fill tart shells and top with fresh berries.

    Read the full article and the discussion threads for much more that you can do with orange blossom water.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Watermelon Mint Lemonade Cocktails, Slushies & More

    Thanks, Bolthouse, for the sample of Watermelon Mint Lemonade. This limited-edition summer cooler delivers a trifecta of flavors that just sing “Summer!”

    You’d be surprised how quickly the 52-ounce bottle disappeared.

    As good as it was, we felt the need to try it with fresh mint and fresh lemon juice. (The Bolthouse ingredients include water, watermelon juice concentrate, natural flavor, dragonfruit purée*, mint extract and beta carotene for color.)

    While we hurried out to buy more Bolthouse, we also purchased unminted watermelon lemonade from Whole Foods Market (365 Brand, organic and kosher certified) and infused it with fresh mint.

    Then, we created the more arduous from-scratch recipe below. (It’s arduous getting all the seeds out of the watermelon, even the “seedless” variety.)

    Learn more at Bolthouse.com.

     
    *The label says that the dragonfruit is for color, but dragongruit flesh is white with tiny black seeds! Here’s a photo. Maybe they use the peel?

       
    watermelon-Mint-Lemonade-bolthouse-230

    Get it while supplies last, or prepare to make your own. Photo courtesy Bolthouse.

     
    RECIPES WITH WATERMELON LEMONADE

    Perhaps the best thing we did with the two “replacement” bottles of watermelon lemonade was play with different ways to use them.

  • Cocktails: Just add gin, tequila or vodka.
  • Fruit Soup: For a refreshing dessert or snack, dice or slice any fresh fruits and place them in a mound in the center of a soup bowl. Pour the watermelon lemonade around the fruit. Garnish with optional chopped mint or basil.
  • Slushie: Add scoops of sorbet to a tall glass of watermelon lemonade. We couldn’t find watermelon sorbet, so we tried lemon, orange and raspberry. They all work.
  •  
    What would you do with watermelon lemonade?

     

    watermelon-mint-lemonade-bootranch-texas-230

    Rosy and refreshing: watermelon mint
    lemonade. Photo courtesy Boot Ranch | Texas.

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON MINT LEMONADE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 6 cups 1-inch cubes seedless watermelon (from a 5-pound melon)
  • 10 ounces lemon juice (WFM used bottled lemon juice, we squeezed fresh juice)
  • 6 cups water
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar†
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 large bunch mint
  • Garnishes: lemon wheels, mint sprigs, watermelon wedges
  •  
    †If the watermelon is very sweet, reduce the sugar. You can always add more.
     
    Preparation

    Our method of preparation is a departure from the original Whole Foods recipe. To get more mint flavor, we infuse the mint in the water before making the beverage.

     

    1. INFUSE mint in water. Reserve 20 sprigs for garnish, then crush the remaining mint and place in a pitcher with the water. Allow to infuse for a few hours or overnight.

    2. PURÉE watermelon and lemon juice in blender until smooth, working in batches as necessary.

    3. TRANSFER to a large container. Add water and sugar; stir until dissolved.

    4. SERVE: Pour over ice in tall glasses. Garnish with mint and thin slices of watermelon and/or lemon, as desired.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Maple Water

    wahta-carton-background-230

    Be on the lookout for maple water, the
    newest maple product from Canada. Photo
    courtesy Wahta.

     

    Following the galloping success of coconut water, the next “tree water” to hit the market is maple water, made from the sap of the maple tree.

    Maple water is actually pure maple sap that is tapped in the spring—a fleeting opportunity that produces a fresh drink that is clear as water, yet full of natural nutrients. In the spring, the tree water has not yet thickened into the sap that will be boiled down for maple syrup later in the year (trivia: it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup!).

    Maple water is a healthy choice for hydration, with 47 essential vitamins and minerals including potassium, manganese and zinc; as well as amino acids, polyphenols (antioxidants) and phytohormones. These properties make it an excellent thirst quencher for athletes and others.

    Maple water is naturally low in sugar and has only 20 calories per serving size (8.45 ounces/250 ml), compared to an average of 50 calories for the same serving size of coconut water. It is all natural, fat and cholesterol free.

     

    Just as coconut water has the delicate flavor of coconut, maple water has the delicate flavor of maple.

    It has long been consumed by native tribes, but has been recently commercialized ato provide added revenue for maple syrup producers. Maple water has been available for two years in Canada, and is beginning to find its way into the U.S. (and to be produced by maple growers in the U.S.).

    To ensure authenticity and quality, The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has implemented a program called NAPSI certification, for harvesting and bottling. The name is an acronym for:

  • Natural, produced by maple trees
  • Authentic, the same sap found in the trees themselves
  • Pure, no added agents or ingredients
  • Sterile, free of microorganisms
  • Integral, not from concentrate, unrefined and with all the original compounds provided by nature
  •  
    International producers of maple water are welcome to apply for certification.

     

    USES FOR MAPLE WATER

    Maple water can be enjoyed from the carton for thirst-quenching or rehydrating, as a simple drink with ice cubes.

    It is also becoming popular as an ingredient in recipes. When used in cooking, it gives foods a fine, delicately scented and slightly sweet flavor, and imparts a unique and distinctive character with a subtle hint of sweetness to cocktails, drinks and smoothies. Some suggestions:

  • To make coffee or tea
  • To prepare cocktails, mocktails and ice cubes
  • To poach meat, fish or seafood
  • To cook vegetables
  • To make smoothies or sorbets
  • To advantageously replace sweet fruit juices
  • To make sauces or deglaze
  • To make broths and soups
  •  
    Recipes are available on ILoveMaple.ca.

     

    carrot-puree-maple-water-ilovemaple.ca-230r

    Carrot purée made with maple water. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy ILoveMaple.ca.

     

    We received samples of a brand called Wahta Pure Maple Water. Wahta, which coincidentally sounds like “water,” is the word for the sugar maple tree in the language of Canada’s First Nations people, whose longtime use of it as a tonic inspired commercial production.

    Other Canadian brands include Maple 3, Ovivia and Seva. U.S. brands include Drink Water, Happy Tree and Vertical Water.

    If maple water takes off like coconut water has, retailers will have to hang additional shelves from the ceiling!

      

    Comments

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