THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website,

Archive for Books

BOOK: Ice Cream Sandwich Recipes

If you’re looking for something special for summer hosts, how about hundreds of ideas for ice cream sandwiches?

Not only are ice cream sandwiches a cool summer dessert, but these dazzling recipes will get even hesitant bakers into the mood—and may inspire you to host a few ice cream sandwich summer socials.

For sure, Cookies & Cream: Hundreds Of Ways To Make The Perfect Ice Cream Sandwich, by Tessa Arias, has inspired us.

There are 50 recipes for both sweet and savory sandwiches, using simple ingredients to deliver very creative flavor combinations. The recipes include both the ice cream and the cookie or other sandwich base.

Instructions are simple to follow and thorough: You can give this book to a young teenager (and we’d encourage that, because one cookbook leads to another, and self-sufficiency in the kitchen).


Spend the summer making dazzling ice cream sandwiches. Photo courtesy Running Press.


You can switch the flavors around to make hundreds of different combinations.

The recipes are divided by category:

  • Classic, such as Rocky Road and Snickerdoodle
  • Chocolate, including Grasshopper and Peanut Butter Cup
  • Real Dessert, from Cannoli to Carrot Cake
  • Fruity, such as Lemon-Blueberry and Strawberry Balsamic
  • Sinful, including Dulce de Leche and Red Velvet
  • Boozy, such as Margarita and Tiramisu
  • Holiday, like Candy Cane and Gingerbread
    We want to make every recipe in the book!

    The hardcover book is just $12.72 on How much better can it get? Order your copies!



    PASSOVER: Matzaroni & Cheese, A Passover-Friendly Mac & Cheese Recipe

    The Passover mac and cheese alternative.
    Photo courtesy Passover Made Easy.

      A couple of weeks ago we published a modern Passover recipe, Eggplant Wrapped Chicken, from the new cookbook, Passover Made Easy.

    Passover begins at sunset on Monday, March 25th and continues for seven days. Here’s a kid-friendly recipe that puts a new spin on mac and cheese.


    Wheat products can’t be consumed for passover—no bagels, no pizza, no pasta. But for kids whose favorite meal is mac and cheese, the authors have created an substitute. “This is an easy dinner that will get all the troops running to the table when the hot, cheesy, and bubbling dish emerges from the oven.” they say. The recipe makes 6-8 servings.


  • 5 matzahs, broken into small pieces
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 container (16 ounces) cottage cheese
  • 3 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella or muenster cheese, divided


    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. In an 8 x 8-inch baking dish, arrange 1/3 of the broken matzah pieces.

    2. BEAT eggs in a medium bowl. Add sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, salt, and 1 cup shredded cheese. Pour 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the matzah. Repeat with two additional layers of matzah and cheese.

    3. TOP with remaining 1 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 40 minutes. The cheese on top should be brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.



    PASSOVER: Start New Traditions With These Recipes

    Passover begins at sunset on Monday, March 25th and continues for seven days. Observant Jews celebrate the first two nights with seders, featuring recipes that have been in their families for generations.

    But how about some 21st-century Passover recipes—if not for a seder, then for the other five days? There are more than 60 modern, creative Passover recipes in a new cookbook, Passover Made Easy. Some of the recipes that are calling out to us:

  • Brisket Eggrolls
  • Citrus Beet Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Eggplant-Wrapped Chicken
  • Espresso Macarons with Chocolate-Hazelnut Cream
  • French Roast with Fresh Spice Rub
  • Frozen Lemon Wafer Cake
  • Jalapeño Lime and Ginger Salmon
  • Pecan Pie with Cookie Crust
  • Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup
  • Schnitzel Nuggets with Apricot Dipping Sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash Kugel
  • Tortillas with Tomato-Mint Salsa and Guacamole
  • Vegetable Lo Mein

    There’s plenty of time to pick up a copy and plan for Passover. Photo courtesy Passover Made Easy.


    The easy to prepare, sure to please original recipes were developed and tested by best-selling cookbook author Leah Schapira (Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking) and co-founder of, an online kosher recipe exchange; with Victoria Dwek, managing editor of Whisk, a kosher food magazine.

    Pick up a copy for yourself or as a gift: it’s just $10.87 on There are fascinating culinary tidbits, useful preparation tips, full-color photos for each dish, step-by-step plating and food styling secrets, and a wine pairings and Seder wine guide.

    As a bonus, all but four of the 60 recipes in the book are gluten-free. And of course, the recipes can be enjoyed all year long. Here’s one recipes from Passover Made Easy to start you off; next week, we’ll publish Matzaroni, the mac-and-cheese alternative:


    Eggplant-wrapped chicken, one of the
    modern recipe alternatives. Photo courtesy
    Passover Made Easy.





  • 1 tall eggplant
  • ½ cup oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch coarse black pepper
    Meat Mixture

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ pound ground meat of choice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch course black pepper

    1. PREHEAT oven to broil. Grease a baking sheet. Cut eggplant lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick, to get 6 or 7 slices. Reserve remaining eggplant scraps. Place eggplant slices on prepared baking sheet. Brush slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil 5 minutes per side, until second side is beginning to brown. The slices should appear as if they were fried. Remove and set aside.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Peel and finely dice remaining eggplant to obtain ½ cup diced eggplant. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and diced eggplant and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

    3. COMBINE onion mixture with ground meat in a small bowl. Season with salt and garlic powder.

    4. SEASON chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon of the meat mixture into each thigh and roll up to close. Roll an eggplant slice around each stuffed chicken thigh. Place, seam side down and close together, in a baking pan. Cover and bake for 2½ hours.

    Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite Passover-approved grain,* and your favorite green vegetable, steamed or sauteed lightly with garlic.

    *Grains forbidden during passover include barley and all types of wheat. Grains such as quinoa and rice were not known during biblical times so are not forbidden. Extremely religious people will avoid any grain.



    BOOK: Marmalade, by Elizabeth Field

    Marmalade could become your new signature dish. Photo courtesy Running Press.


    When Elizabeth Field was growing up, she didn’t like the bitter orange marmalade that her parents loved to slather on toast. But as an adult, she was introduced to homemade marmalade and became a convert.

    Her new book, Marmalade, Sweet & Savory Spreads For A Sophisticated Taste, may inspire you to begin your own marmalade journey.

    Charmingly designed and photographed, it inspires a get-together: Make a day of marmalade-making with a friend. It’s quality time together that yields jars and jars of provisions and gifts. Friends and colleagues will clamor for it.

    If they tax your generosity, you can simply buy them a copy of the book:


    Give a man a jar and he has marmalade for a week. Teach a man to make marmalade and you give him marmalade for a lifetime. And hopefully, there will be gift jars in it for you.

    Get your copy here.

    Don’t worry that fresh fruit season is waning. There are 11 citrus marmalade recipes as well as fall-winter flavors such as Double Ginger Pear and Quince Raspberry Marmalades.

    And you must make lots and lots of the savory Red Onion Marmalade. It goes with sandwiches, burgers and just about every type of grilled or roasted fish, meat and poultry. There isn’t enough onion marmalade in America. It will be an unforgettable holiday gift.

    The author also provides recipes for buttermilk biscuits, brown soda bread and popovers to enjoy with your marmalade; and shows you had to use the spread in main dishes such as Marmalade Roast Duck and Glazed Country Ham.


    Marmalade originated some 2,000 years ago as a solid cooked quince and honey paste, the precursor of Spain’s famed membrillo, served with Manchego cheese as a popular dessert. It was on the tables of ancient Greeks and Romans.

    Some time around the 10th century, the Portuguese replaced the honey with sugar. They called it marmelada after the word for quince, marmelo.

    Marmelada was a luxury product and a popular gift among noble families. Sugar, produced in the subtropics, was a very expensive import until the 1800s. For example, it wasn’t until 1874 that the British government abolished the sugar tax and made “white gold” affordable to the average citizen.


    They’re related, but different, styles of spreads. Check out our Jam Glossary which explains the differences among these terms and others (chutney, confiture, conserve, curd, fruit butter, gelée, fruit curd and fruit spread).

    Find our favorite brands of store-bought spreads.



    BOOK REVIEW: Life, On The Line

    Life, On The Line, has a double meaning. Photo courtesy Gotham Books.


    Uber-foodies know the name Grant Achatz (pronounced AK-its), the wunderkind chef whose brilliant career, laden with the top honors and awards,* almost came to a tragic end.

    In 2007, the year after his Chicago restaurant, Alinea, was named the best in the country by Gourmet magazine, Achatz was diagnosed with Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma cancer of the tongue (there is no Stage V). The protocol to save his life was to remove his tongue and part of his jaw, which would have ended his ability to taste and to speak. He was 33 years old, one of the world’s great young chefs.

    Fortunately for Achatz and his many friends and fans, his business partner, Nick Kokonas, found a clinical trial at the University of Chicago, which used chemotherapy and radiation instead of surgery. Treatment was gruesome but successful; the chef’s sense of taste, obliterated by the treatment, ultimately returned. The food-loving universe sends a million thanks to Kokonas and the doctors involved.

    In October 2008, Achatz and Kokonas published Alinea, a hardcover coffee table book featuring more than 100 of the restaurant’s recipes (exquisite, but not for the beginner!).


    In March 2011, the team’s second book, Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat, was published. It is now available in paperback and Kindle editions.

    Life, On The Line

    We received a review copy earlier this year, but it got fused into a pile of books waiting to be read (the pile is 44 inches high). Finally, with a rare day of free time (Independence Day, like most national holidays, is one of our book catch up days), we cracked it. We started reading in the morning, headed to a friend’s house, plopped onto a chaise longue and breezed through all 390 pages before we went to sleep—taking an hour or so to watch the fireworks and interact with other house guests.

    Beautifully written (the voices of Achatz and Kokonas are virtually identical, leading us to guess that a professional writer iced the cake, as it were), we eagerly devoured chapter after chapter.

    *Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs,” 2002; James Beard Foundation”s “Rising Star Chef Of The Year,” 2003; Gourmet magazine’s “Best Restaurant in America,” 2006; James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Chef,” 2007; Restaurant magazine’s “#1 Restaurant in North America” and “#7 Restaurant In The Word,” 2010.


    Life, On The Line has a double meaning, detailing Achatz’s life as a chef on the kitchen line and his almost miraculous survival, when the cancer put his life on the line. Like many top chefs, he has a passion, energy and work ethic that seem almost unbelievable. There are many people who work ridiculously long hours, but few of those jobs require the combination of constant creativity, staff supervision and training, and pressure to produce perfection for five or six hours at the end of a long day—not to mention standing on your feet in a hot kitchen.

    Young Grant, who grew up in the small town of St. Clair, Michigan, began his culinary career peeling vegetables and cracking eggs in his grandmother’s café—a family affair that included his mother and aunts. He notes, “I never got an Easy Bake oven or a play kitchen. I played every day at the Achatz Café….”

    His parents then started their own successful restaurant, and by high school he had assumed weekly shifts at Achatz Depot—alongside his parents, uncles and cousins.


    Grant Achatz receiving a 2009 James Beard Award, one of several different Beard Awards, for his Alinea cookbook. Photo courtesy James Beard Foundation.


    From Student To Star

    After high school, Achatz headed to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. He began a restaurant externship at Grand Rapids’ finest restaurant, starting at the lowest level: peeling vegetables and prepping ingredients for the meals, making soups and salad dressings. In a mere month, he was moved to the roast/grill station on the hot line—a fast-track promotion for the 19-year-old culinary student.

    To fast-forward: Achatz then began as a commis, or prep cook (from the French word for assistant), at the celebrated French Laundry in Napa Valley. (Do you know the different positions in a professional kitchen?
    Here they are, from top (chef de cuisine or executive chef) to bottom (kitchen assistant).

    French Laundry was then regarded as the best restaurant in America (and remains a contender for top honors, depending on who’s creating the list). Achatz rose to sous-chef under mentor Thomas Keller before taking over the kitchen at Trio, outside of Chicago. One of his best customers was Nick Kokonas, who three years later bankrolled his next move: chef/co-owner of Alinea. Far more than serving as financier, Kokonas became the all-around business partner most entrepreneurs can only hope for.

    The heart and soul of the book is Achatz’s journey from culinary school to top of the world at a very young age. No prima donna, he is Everychef. His path was similar to that of many gifted chefs, most of whom work fourteen hour, backbreaking days to create beautiful cuisine. Not every chef wins the accolades Achatz has and/or ends up owning a renowned restaurant, but most of them merit an A for effort. If you enjoy a great restaurant meal, Life, On The Line will give you a far greater appreciation of it.

    Once Achatz and Kokonas begin to discuss a partnership, Achatz’s chapters alternate with those penned by Kokonas, who provides a perspective on restaurant development and management (not easy—another reason to more deeply appreciate that delicious meal).

    The book comprises behind-the-scenes insights—general management and front of the house views from Kokonas, back of the house perspectives from Achatz. It’s a serious book, with one amusing section early on (amusing to us, frustrating to Chef Achatz):

    The young culinary school graduate decides to leave his unhappy job at Charlie Trotter’s after eight weeks (read the Chapter 5 and you’ll see that writing well is the best revenge). Using his savings (“There aren’t a whole lot of ways to spend money in St. Clair or Grand Rapids….”), he embarks on what he believes will be an inspirational three-star restaurant tour of Europe, booking dinners at Les Crayères (average meal, condescending service), Georges Blanc (grey, overcooked squab and indifferent/insulting response from the chef and maitre ‘d) and Enoteca Pincchiori in Florence (good but not celestial). His best meal was at an unnamed family restaurant with superb home cooking, that happened to be on a bike route he took.

    He returned to the U.S. and found his inspiration in California, with Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. To get the tryout, he wrote a letter a day for fourteen days, telling Chef Keller why he wanted the job. The rest is culinary history.

    If you’ve never had Achatz’s food, by the middle of the book you’ll feel as if you had. It’s a delicious gastronomic experience.

    Alinea: A New Train Of Thought

    Alinea is an editor’s mark denoting the beginning of a new train of thought, exemplified by a new paragraph. It is more commonly known as the paragraph mark, less commonly as the pilcrow. The literal translation from Latin, a linea, means “off the line.”

    There’s a double meaning: Alinea represents a new train of thought about food, and as a restaurant, the food comes “off the line.” The line is the section of the kitchen where the food is cooked.

    You have to know, or know of, Achatz’s food to be in love with this book. Then, you can see, smell and taste every dish he describes.

    We were fortunate enough to dine twice at Trio during his tenure, and then at Alinea. We love the total experience he creates: innovative, intellectual, breathtaking and exquisitely delicious food, presented in new ways, down to the custom-made serving pieces designed to showcase a particular dish. Why serve a slice of seared foie gras with rhubarb purée, when you can purée the foie gras, mold it into a thin, hollow cylinder and fill it with rhubarb foam?

    The presentation comprises small tastes of many different courses (maybe 18, maybe 40), that push the envelope and create a memorable evening.

    Molecular Gastronomy

    We are cautioned by Kokonas not to refer to the cuisine as molecular gastronomy, which is perceived of by some of its finest practitioners as having overtones of gimickry and mad-scientist cooking. The U.K.’s Heston Blumenthal dislikes the term, believing it makes the cuisine sound “complicated” (it is!) and “elitist” (it is!).

    Ferran Adrià, the Catalan chef, has referred to his cooking as deconstructivist (not exactly tasty-sounding!). Deconstruction is a method in which the elements of a classic dish appear in a different shape or form.† Hervé This, the “father of molecular gastronomy,” reintroduced the concept in 2004 as “culinary constructivism.”

    According to Blumenthal, whose restaurant, The Fat Duck, has been named the best restaurant in the world more than once (for the past three years, the honor has gone to Noma in Copenhagen, helmed by chef/co-owner, René Redzepi, an El Bulli alumnus):

    “The fashionable term ‘molecular gastronomy’ was introduced relatively recently, in 1992, to name a particular academic workshop for scientists and chefs on the basic food chemistry of traditional dishes. That workshop did not influence our approach, and the term ‘molecular gastronomy’ does not describe our cooking, or indeed any style of cooking….

    “We may use modern thickeners, sugar substitutes, enzymes, liquid nitrogen, sous-vide, dehydration, and other nontraditional means, but these do not define our cooking. They are a few of the many tools that we are fortunate to have available as we strive to make delicious and stimulating dishes” (see the entire statement).

    Some chefs prefer the term “culinary physics” and “experimental cuisine.” Anything is fine with us: Just tell us what it is!

    Otherwise, we nominate “innovation cuisine,” given that this decade’s innovation can become the next decade’s mainstream. To decide for yourself, check out some of the techniques here. There are emulification, fragrant foams, vapors, gelification, spherification, reverse spherification, other reshaped liquids, fatty liquids transformed into powders and other concepts from food science.

    Here’s a history of molecular gastronomy. You can also pick up a copy of Hervé This’s book, Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor.

    As Kokonas wrote in an online article: “A trip to El Bulli restaurant in Roses, Spain under the direction of chef Ferran Adrià let Grant know that you could take classical technique, apply equal measures of whimsy, intelligence, creativity and technology, and transform the dining experience.”

    Some of Achatz’s dishes (from Trio and Alinea):

  • Essence of Pizza, ultra-thin potato starch paper imbued with flavors of garlic powder, tomato powder, paprika and fennel pollen, along with congealed mozzarella fat, the size of a stamp.
  • Cumin Candied Corn, a losenge of savory corn panna cotta wrapped in cumin-flavored sugar film.
  • Wild Turbot With Hyacinth Vapor, the fish in a small bowl set in a larger one filled with fresh hyacinth flowers, over which boiling water is poured to create an aromatic environment (other dishes had environments created from burning cinnamon sticks or oak leaves).
  • Stock set up to resemble a sponge, imbued with flavors of the sea.
  • A micro-sandwich of passionfruit sponge between layers of dehydrated prosciutto.
  • If you’re inspired by this menu, book a trip to Alinea. It’s not an easy reservation to get, but the book tells us that January is the slow month.

    January is not Chicago’s kindest month, but the experience will be worth it. Try to rea the book first.

    †In a simple example, think of Eggplant Parmesan, deconstructed. Instead of the fried eggplant slices baked with mozzarella and tomato sauce, the eggplant is sautéed in olive oil and topped with ricotta and sauce. Instead of breaded slices, bread crumbs are used as a garnish.



    TIP OF THE DAY & BOOK: The Art Of Beef Cutting

    If you love beef, you can save money (and
    perhaps discover a new hobby) by butchering primal cuts. Photo courtesy Wiley.


    Our tip of the day is to beef lovers: savor the rib-eye cap (more about that below). You’ll learn about it in this new book on butchering beef at home. Of all members of THE NIBBLE team, we weren’t surprised when chef Johnny Gnall raised his hand at the opportunity to interview expert butcher Kari Underly and read her new book. Here is his review, along with his thumbs up for giving the book as a Father’s Day gift to a beef-besotted dad. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    Kari Underly has been cutting meat for over 30 years. Even with a grandmother, a grandfather, and a father who all worked as butchers, this is a significant accomplishment in a mostly male-dominated field.

    But Underly is the proof in the proverbial pudding (blood pudding, perhaps?) that there is no room for sexism around the butcher block. She completed a three-year apprenticeship at age 21 to become a journeyman meat cutter (well, perhaps the title is sexist).

    Since then, Underly has established herself time and again as an authority in all things meat, from marketing and merchandising to education; and now, publishing.


    Her new book, The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising, showcases just how extensive her knowledge and expertise are. The book includes, among other things, a step-by-step, photo-illustrated set of instructions for breaking down each primal cut in a side of beef.

    What that means, in layman’s terms, is that you could, theoretically, start with an entire steer, and with patience, care, and “The Art of Beef Cutting,” break it all down and turn every bit of it into dinner.

    In fact, some restaurant chefs do just that, butchering their own lamb, pig and steer. Certain parts of the book explore more advanced butchery, and the appendices are staggeringly thorough. It does, however, begin with the basics, including knife sharpening, tool selection and cutting technique. So it’s appropriate for butchery beginners, or home cooks with a curiosity they’d like to explore.


    I had an opportunity to speak with Underly about her book, and about beef in general. There are a number of things she shared that a home cook can do to save time and money when buying and preparing beef; and, of course, when cooking it. But you have to start at the beginning, and that means choosing the right cut.


    The two cuts that Underly came back to time and again for home cooks were top sirloin and chuck roast, extolling both their comparative value and their versatility.

  • Cuts from the chuck tend to be flavorful and well-marbled, and they’re great for braising, low and slow.
  • Sirloin is leaner, quite easy to cut, and arguably the most versatile cut on the cow; to quote Underly, “Go sirloin!”

    Underly at work. She’ll inspire you to unleash your inner butcher. Image courtesy Vimeo.


    Beyond these two subprimals (short for subprimal cuts), the one other cut that got Underly really excited was the ribeye cap, which she calls the best steak in the whole carcass. You could almost hear her mouth watering as she described grilling rib-eye cap steaks; and if there’s anyone to trust on such a suggestion, it’s Kari Underly.

    Once you’ve chosen your cut of beef, “The Art of Beef Cutting” can assist you in prepping it for dinner and getting it cooked to its highest potential.

  • Trussing: The book explores trussing (tying roasts with butchers twine to achieve even and optimal cooking), which Underly counsels is mastered only by repetition. “Don’t worry about making it pretty,” she advises.
  • Marinating: The book also has a chapter on marinades, and it highlights the often overlooked distinction between different kinds of marinating: for flavor versus for tenderizing.
  • Methods: Undery suggests ideal cooking methods to use for certain cuts of beef, and even drops hints on how to get perfect browning on your beef.

    Essentially, “The Art of Beef Cutting” is a kitchen-ready sidekick for anyone interested in getting a bit more familiar with his or her beef. There is no question in my mind that the more love you give it, the more the food benefits. Extending your knowledge and expertise with butchery will allow you to love your food that much more. Not to mention the fact that buying larger cuts and breaking them down yourself saves you money, and allows you greater versatility with how you cut and serve your beef.

    Underly’s last piece of advice to home cooks looking to up their butchery quotient? “Be adventurous.” This may be the perfect time to pick up your cleaver and get to know your beef a bit better.

    But first, pick up a copy of the the book.



    BOOK: I Love Corn

    If you love corn—and who doesn’t—pick up a copy of the new recipe book, I Love Corn, by Lisa Skye.

    Published just in time for corn season, Father’s Day and thank-you gifts for summer hosts, here are 50 of the most interesting corn recipes you’ll find in one compilation. We rarely get so excited when eyeballing recipes, and the photos are mouth-watering.

    The recipes were contributed from acclaimed chefs nationwide: both local celebrities and national names such as Hugh Acheson, Dan Barber, Michelle Bernstein, Daniel Boulud, Harold Dieterle and Martha Stewart.

    The recipes will keep you happy at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They cover every part of the meal: appetizers, soups, entrées and desserts. Here are just a few of the dishes that will delight you:


    Get a copy for everyone who loves corn. Photo courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing.


    Corn “Seviche” In Corn Water, Corn Pudding with Bacon and Leeks, Fresh Corn Gazpacho, Fresh Corn Ice Cream, Jalapeño Corn Muffins, Popcorn Pudding with Salted Caramel Corn and Butterscotch Sauce, Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese Quiche and Sweet Corn Fritters.

    The book also includes tips for buying, storing, cooking and grilling fresh corn, and instructions for easily cutting kernels off the cob to make these wonderful recipes.

    A large portion of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Dougy Center, a national center that helps grieving children and families.

    Get your copy now.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Guerilla Cooking With ”The Flavor Bible”

    Our chef’s favorite new book, a great gift for sophisticate cooks (or those who want to be). Photo courtesy the authors.


    THE NIBBLE’s chef Johnny Gnall is very enthusiastic about a cooking book published in 2008. He refers regularly to The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. His review follows. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    Whenever my profession comes up in conversation, there is one question I get asked more than any other: “What is your favorite cuisine to cook at home?”

    The closest approximation I can offer is that I’m a champion of “guerilla cooking.”

    By this, I mean that I open the refrigerator and figure out my menu on the spot. Scanning the fridge for proteins and produce, thumbing through spices and jars in the pantry, I put together a meal that rarely fits neatly inside the label of any one cuisine.


    I suppose I love this kind of cooking so much because of my mom, the earliest and most ubiquitous influence on my identity as a cook. She was a working mother who often found herself at the end of the week with odds and ends in the fridge, limited time on her hands and five people to feed. Each and every time, she made the kind of dinners that had the neighborhood kids lining up for their turn to eat over.

    So it only makes sense that when I cook, I feel perfectly comfortable going in blind. One of the keys to success in such circumstances is knowing which products and flavors complement one another.

    The most effective way to gain such knowledge is experience. However, for those with less experience, The Flavor Bible is an invaluable book to help fill in the blanks. I bought my copy during culinary school on a classmate’s emphatic recommendation, and I will probably use it for the rest of my life.

    The Flavor Bible starts off with 30-plus pages on the nitty-gritty details of what exactly constitutes “flavor.” It begins by defining it in the equation, TASTE + MOUTHFEEL + AROMA + X-FACTOR = FLAVOR.

    The “X-factor” is anything perceived by our senses of sight, smell and taste, as well as emotional or mental reactions to the food. Each component of the equation is discussed in depth, even addressed philosophically at times; and is explored in as many contexts and from as many perspectives as you’re likely to come across.


    But all of this—the pontifications on flavor and the scientific breakdown of taste and aroma—is merely the introduction. The most valuable content of the cook lies in its other 350 or so pages: the flavor matchmaking charts.

    These charts contain a virtually all-inclusive list of ingredients, from meat to dairy to seafood to produce, from herbs and spices to oils and vinegars—even liquors and wines. Listed below each ingredient are any and all complementary ingredients, flavors, seasonings, and cooking methods.

    Even with a blinding headache, you can figure out exactly what goes best with whatever you happen to have on hand. You’ll also find recipes from notable chefs peppered throughout the charts, and simple dishes and meal ideas in the margins. Warm Frisée and Bacon Salad with Beet Carpaccio and Toasted Walnuts? Yes, please!


    Look in the fridge for ingredients: The Flavor Bible tells you what pairs best with what. Photo courtesy California Asparagus Commission.


    For those who want to start off in a general direction but keep things fast and loose, world cuisines are listed with their traditional and most popular ingredients and flavors for easy reference. Throwing a party for a Cuban friend whose family is in town? With The Flavor Bible, you know to fill your house with allspice, avocado, beans, beef, bell peppers, chicken, chocolate, citrus, cumin, garlic, lime, oregano, pineapple, plantains… you get the idea.

    So pick up a copy of The Flavor Bible. Then stride fearlessly to the refrigerator and swing the door open with confidence. No matter what you find starting back at you, rest assured you have the knowledge (and then some) to transform it into something delicious.

    And that’s a bible to swear on!



    BOOKS: Good Junk Food & Comfort Food

    A great read and a permanent reference book for everyone who wants to make better food choices and teach kids how to do the same. Get your copy now.


    Junk food is a pejorative term attributed to Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He first used it in 1972 to refer to food that is of minimal nutritional value (little protein, vitamins or minerals) and worse, typically high in fat, sugar and other empty calories. Some of the culprits include candy bars, potato chips and other salty snacks, soda, and many desserts.

    Could he have known that a substantial number of Americans—junk food lovers—would come to see the term as a positive? No doubt, if someone were to establish a chain called The Junk Food Food Court, the lines would be out the door. (Note that if you take this concept and run with it, you owe THE NIBBLE a royalty, which we will put to the service of healthier-eating awareness.)

    In his series of Eat This, Not That books, David Zinczenko has done a great boon to America by pointing out the horrors in our diet: the salty, sugary and fat-laden foods we consume. While we know they are not good for us, we never realized how bad they were until he garnered so much media attention.


    Two new books take on the topic of junk food, and both are worth putting on your bookshelf.


    The first book is Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks, by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer with Lisa Tsakos.

    The premise is that you don’t have to give up junk food to eat healthy; just make smarter choices.

    As such, the book features some 175 favorite brands of junk food, from candy and chocolate, to cookies and ice cream novelties, to chips and dips, to sodas and other beverages. It showcases the “bad food” on the left hand page, with the better alternative on the facing page.

    Equally as important, the book explains why, giving a detailed comparison that is both enlightening and interesting. In addition to the specific food comparisons, there are helpful overviews and glossaries: basic nutrition, bad ingredients to watch out for and things even a ten-year-old can understand and appreciate.

    In fact, we really like this book for both kids and adults. Instead of demanding change, it confers upon the reader a great understanding of the differences between good and bad ingredients, while providing a more-than-satisfactory alternative for each bad food.
    Even though we don’t eat much junk food, we were enlightened by:

  • The great tips for reading food labels and recognizing false claims.
  • The explanation of many ingredients—especially the polysyllabic ones that look like the chemicals they are.
  • The nutritious ingredients to look for and dangerous additives to avoid.


    While Unjunk Your Junk Food truly is about junk food, Vegan Junk Food, by Lane Gold, is misnamed. We’d call it Vegan Comfort Food. Perhaps because there were already a few titles that focus on vegan comfort food, the publisher wanted a point of differentiation. Instead, it’s a point of confusion. This is a vegan cookbook focusing on popular comfort foods.

    While we’re at it, we also don’t like the subtitle, “225 Sinful Snacks That Are Good For The Soul.” Again, there are some snacks (caramel popcorn, cookies) but the majority of the recipes are meal items, not snacks.

    We also don’t find it inviting to call food “sinful” or that other misused word, “decadent.” And we wager that no cleric would agree that sinful undertakings are “good for the soul.”


    A terrific book and a great gift for anyone who eats junk food. Get your copy now.

    While we use our editor’s pulpit to point out what others have missed, the good news is that the content of the book is quite appealing: chock-full of vegan recipes for every meal and snack of the day:

  • Muffins, scrambled tofu with biscuits and sausage gravy
  • Cheesesteak, corndog, meatball sub and mac and cheese
  • Asian and Mexican favorites—empanadas, fajitas, tacos, tofu eggplant tikka masala, wontons, etc.
  • Appetizers and dips, from jalapeño poppers to teriyaki kabobs
  • Cakes, candies, cookies and more
    It’s an inexpensive book ($11.17 on, so we can forgive the limited number of photos. Everyone knows what cheesecake, dip, fried rice and muffins look like.

    We recommend this book for every person/family who enjoys these foods, because eating vegan as often as you can is your contribution to saving the planet.* Not to mention all the cholesterol saved.
    *Animal manure is the number-one component of greenhouse gas (which produces climate change, a.k.a. global warming); raising animals depletes and pollutes water tables and a whole bunch more reasons we’ll cover on Earth Day.



    BOOKS: Funny Food, A Guarantee Of Fun Breakfasts

    Funny Food, by Bill & Claire Wurtzel. © 2012
    Welcome Enterprises, Inc.,


    In 1001 Arabian Nights, the cuckolded King Shahryar executes his faithless wife and proceeds to marry a new virgin every day, executing her the next morning before she has a chance to dishonor him.

    Eventually his vizier (minister), whose task it is to provide the brides, cannot find any more virgins. His daughter Scheherazade (shuh-HAIR-uh-ZOD) volunteers and is wed to the king.

    That night, the clever girl tells the king a fascinating tale, but does not finish the story. King Shahryar can’t execute her the next morning, since he wants to hear the end of it. The next evening, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins a new story…and so it goes for 1,001 nights.

    Three years and three children later, Queen Scheherazade has convinced her husband that she is his faithful wife. She keeps her head (and her three children—obviously more than storytelling went on). Hopefully they lived happily ever after.


    Funny Food: Another Daily Fascination

    Now it’s time to introduce another fascinating book, one which has very few words. But who needs words when the photographs tell the whole story?

    Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts, will fascinate a spouse or family as much as Scheherazade’s tales—and they get to eat the “story.”

    What fun to be married to an art director who plies his trade in the kitchen. For more than 50 years, Bill Wurtzel has taken everyday breakfast foods—bagels and other breads, cereal, cottage cheese, eggs, fruit, ham, pancakes, waffles and yogurt—and turned them into edible art for wife Claire and their daughters. There are animals, birds, cars, flowers, people, musical instruments, trees and more. Everything is nutritious and the designs turn old standbys into exciting food.

    And you can do it, too.

    It’s Really Easy

    There’s a two-page tip list of how to make your own creations, and two spreads that show the four simple steps to make a head and a train. Otherwise, there are no on-the-page instructions. The majority of the designs are easy to recreate—most are so easy that anyone old enough to do an art project can assemble this food art.

    In fact, the Wurtzels now give workshops for school children to promote healthy eating and fun. There’s a downloadable guide on the book’s website.

  • NIBBLE TIP #1: After the design is finished, warm the food in the microwave.
  • NIBBLE TIP #2: Get the whole family involved in designing their breakfast plates: Try a different design every weekend for breakfast or brunch.
    This is a wonderful book to inspire younger people to cook and a boost of creativity for experienced cooks who can see how to use fruits, vegetables and nuts to make everyday dishes shine.

    Get your copy.

    We can only hope that the Wurtzels are working on Funny Lunch.



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.