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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 Bread, Crackers, Muffins, Sandwiches

JULY 4TH: Star-Shaped Sandwich Skewers

We loved this idea from Smucker’s, which uses its creamy Jif peanut butter and seedless strawberry jam to make these charming sandwiches.

You don’t have to use PB&J: Any sweet or savory spread will do. You can make some very sophisticated combinations for adults.

Prep time is 15 minutes.

RECIPE: STAR-SHAPED SANDWICH SKEWERS

Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • 3 slices white or whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon seedless strawberry jam
  • Large fresh strawberries, halved
  • Seedless green grapes
  • Skewers
  •  
    Variations

    You can use other spreads:

  • Chicken mousse pâté and fig jam
  • Cream cheese and raisins
  • Goat cheese and beets
  • Tapenade and julienne of carrots and celery
  •  

    star-sandwich-skewers-smuckers-230

    July 4th lunch or snacks. Photo courtesy Smucker’s.

     
    Try more sophisticated breads, too, like brioche, date nut bread, Irish soda bread, olive bread or walnut bread.
     

    Preparation

    1. CUT 10 shapes from bread using 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.

    2. SPREAD peanut butter (or ingredient of choice) on half the stars and jam on remaining stars. Press together to make five small sandwiches.

    3. THREAD the sandwiches, strawberry halves and grapes alternately onto skewer. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Coconut Triscuits From Martha Stewart

    Triscuit lovers (yes, we love them!) are in for a treat: a limited edition summer flavor, Toasted Coconut & Sea Salt Triscuits.

    The flavor was created by Martha Stewart, using trending flavors as well as the popular sweet-and-salty profile.

    Like the original and flavored Triscuits, they’re totally addictive. We eat them plain, without any enhancements.

    But Martha suggests serving the crackers at a party, topped with crab meat and lime or avocado and red pepper flakes.

    She also suggests a riff on S’mores, with melted milk chocolate and toasted marshmallow.

    We created these sweet and salty variations:

  • Goat cheese and fresh berries
  • Goat cheese and honey drizzle
  • Ham and fresh mango
  • Melon and proscuitto
  • Shaved pecorino cheese and blood orange
  •  
    We’ll be so unhappy when this limited edition goes away.

       

    martha-steward-toasted-coconut-sea-salt-triscuits-230

    Limited edition: Get ‘em while you can! Photo courtesy Mondelez International.

     

    triscuit-smores-230

    Coconut & Sea Salt Triscuits with peanut butter, chocolate and a toasted marshmallow. Photo courtesy Mondelez International.

     

    TRISCUIT FLAVORS

    We had no idea there were 20 varieties! So many Triscuits, so little time!

  • Balsamic Vinegar & Basil
  • Cracked Pepper
  • Dill, Sea Salt & Olive Oil
  • Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil
  • Garden Herb
  • Hint Of Salt
  • Original
  • Original Minis
  • Parmesan Garlic
  • Reduced Fat
  • Roast Garlic
  • Roasted Red Pepper & Black Bean
  • Rosemary & Olive Oil
  • Rye With Caraway Seeds
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper
  • Sour Cream & Chive
  • Sweet Potato
  • Sweet Potato & Cinnamon Sugar
  • Sweet Potato & Roasted Onion
  • Wasabi & Soy Sauce
  •  
    For more information visit Triscuit.com, including all these delicious recipes for Triscuit snacks.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 25+ Egg Salad Additions

    Today is National Egg Day, which rings nostalgic to us. The approach of summer reminds us of Mom’s fresh egg salad sandwiches, served to us with the just-cooked eggs still warm.

    Basic egg salad combines chopped hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise with finely chopped celery and onion, seasoned with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (or some pickle juice), salt and pepper.

    Some people then build a sandwich by adding lettuce and tomato, even strips of bacon. But today’s tip is what to add to the egg salad itself. They turn egg salad from ordinary to memorable.

    It doesn’t have to be a sandwich. Scoop your egg salad atop greens, into a crisp bell pepper, a stuffed tomato, a bacon bowl, even into potato skins. Make canapés with a base of apple, cucumber or potato or.
     
    Kitchen tip: When preparing hard boiled eggs, add a teaspoon of baking soda or vinegar the pot of water. This will help when removing the shell & have a perfectly peeled egg. Here’s more on how to make hard-boiled eggs.
     
    25+ FAVORITE ADDITIONS TO EGG SALAD

  • Antipasto, with diced mozzarella, salami.
  •  

    egg-salad-tartine-theeggfarm-230

    Find more delicious recipes at TheEggFarm.com.

  • Asian, with garlic, green onions, ginger, soy sauce instead of salt and a few red chili flakes (note: the soy will darken the egg salad).
  • Bacon horseradish: Add crumbled bacon to your favorite egg salad recipe and a teaspoon of prepared horseradish to the mayonnaise.
  • Beet: Diced beets turn your favorite egg salad recipe pink.
  • Curried, with chopped almonds, raisins and fresh apple.
  • Deviled, using your favorite deviled egg recipe ingredients.
  • Greek, with lemon zest, kalamata cheese, peperoncini, oregano, thyme and optional crumbled feta cheese.
  • Dried fruit: dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins or sultanas, especially in combination with sliced almonds.
  • Français: Add finely chopped shallot, fresh tarragon, and tarragon or wine vinegar mixed with the mayonnaise.
  • Fruit: diced apples, halved grapes, dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, blueberries)—consider combining with nuts.
  • Giardiniera, with diced pickled vegetables (pickle carrots, celery and onion for one hour). Alternative: capers.
  • Gremolata, a combination of garlic, lemon zest and parsley (recipe). Or, add any one or two of these ingredients.
  • Gribiche, with capers, diced cornichons and fines herbes (fresh chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon).
  • Ham, diced.
  • Heat: chile in adobo, crushed red pepper, minced fresh chiles.
  •  

    curried-egg-salad-louisemellor-safeeggs-230

    Bacon and egg salad. Photo courtesy SafeEggs.com.

     
  • Herbed: Pick two fresh herbs from among basil, chives, dill or parsley.
  • Mom’s: Our mother’s recipe uses finely chopped celery, red bell pepper, red onion; minced fresh parsley; and Durkee’s Famous Sauce*.
  • Mustard: Dijon or grainy mustard (add minced cornichons), honey mustard (add dried fruit).
  • Mushrooms, marinated or sautéed.
  • Niçoise, with drained flaked tuna, chopped picholine or Kalamata olives, chopped cooked green beans.
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts (consider combining with a fruit).
  • Olives: It’s fun to combine two varieties, e.g. Kalamata and pimento-stuffed.
  • Peppadew, especially combined with diced red pepper.
  • Pesto: Bind with half mayonnaise, half pesto.
  • Pickles/relish, from chopped cornichons or dills to sweet pickle relish and mustard pickles.
  • Russian, with dill, boiled potatoes, pickled onions and 50:50 sour cream and mayonnaise (optional: diced beets).
  • Soft cheese: crumbled blue, chèvre or feta; diced mozzarella.
  • Three onion: chive, red and sweet onion, finely diced.
  • Tomatoes: diced cherry tomatoes, sundried, and when the good summer tomatoes come in, with big, thick slices.
  •  
    SANDWICH BREAD

    Forget the supermarket white or whole wheat bread for a day, and try:

  • Baguette
  • Ciabatta
  • Croissant
  • Flatbread
  • Pita (look for whole wheat pita!)
  • Pretzel rolls
  • Pumpernickel, rye or black bread
  • Seeded bread
  • Semolina bread
  • Tortilla wrap
  •  
    BINDERS

    Plain supermarket mayonnaise is so 20th century. Blend proportions of any of the following, to taste:

  • Blue cheese, Italian, ranch or Russian/Thousand Island dressing
  • Chili sauce, ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • Durkee’s Famous Sauce (see footnote below)
  • Flavored olive oil
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus, plain or flavored
  • Mayonnaise, including flavored mayo (bacon, lemon, chipotle, wasabi, etc.) or sandwich spread (mayo mixed with pickle relish)
  • Mustard, from Dijon to grainy to flavored (types of mustard)
  • Pesto
  • Plain yogurt flavored with herbs or spices, or tzatziki
  • Salsa
  • White bean purée
  • Wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lemon vinaigrette
  •  
    VEGETABLES: BEYOND ICEBERG LETTUCE

  • Arugula or watercress
  • Cucumber slices
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Radish slices
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Romaine or bibb lettuce
  • Sliced tomatoes in season, or chopped cherry tomatoes year-round
  •  
    This should keep you busy until the next National Egg Day! If you have anything to add to the list, let us know.

     
    *Durkee’s Famous Sauce is a tangy salad and sandwich spread that combines mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and seasonings. Mom used it in cole slaw, deviled eggs, potato salad and on sandwiches. Patented in 1857, Durkee says it was served in the Lincoln White House! It is still sold online and at some Wal-Marts and other retailers. We haven’t tried this recipe, but it claims to be a Durkee’s Famous Sauce clone. Here’s another version.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kabob Sandwiches

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

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

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

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

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

       

    kabob-sandwiches-ws-recipe-230

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

     

    RECIPE: QUICK KABOB PITA SANDWICHES WITH TZATZIKI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

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

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

    lamb-kabobs-sliding-skewers-WS-230

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

     

    Preparation

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

     
    OUR FAVORITE NEW SKEWERS

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

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

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

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Crostini Appetizers

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

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

    BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

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

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

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

       

    crostini-with-havarti-castelloUSA-230

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Prep time is 30 minutes.

     

    havarti-crostini-bacon-castelloUSA-230

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

     

    RECIPE: CROSTINI WITH SUMMER VEGETABLES

    Ingredients For 18 Crostini Servings
     
    For The Crostini

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Bear Toast

    Food fun doesn’t get easier than this:

  • Toast a piece of whole wheat bread.
  • Spread it with honey or peanut butter.
  • Add banana slices for the ears and mouth.
  • Add raisins for the eyes and nose.
  •  
    All of the ingredients are on the “better for you” list, so enjoy!

    P.S. It’s not just for kids! Who wouldn’t love a piece of bear toast?

     

    Bite this bear! Photo courtesy Dana’s Bakery | Facebook.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chef Tips For Exciting Sandwiches

    porchetta-Hilton-Chicago-flavorandthemenu-230

    A porchetta sandwich served with fennel
    slaw, roasted red pepper, crispy fried onion
    threads and sriracha aïoli. Photo courtesy
    Flavor & The Menu.

     

    What’s trending in restaurant sandwiches?

    Proteins are still a first-round decision: Do you want chicken, ham or roast beef, for example.

    But these days, according to chefs interviewed by restaurant trade magazine Flavor & The Menu, produce makes the sandwich.

    Here are five quick tips and a link to the full article. We’ll tell you what chefs are doing, then offer some easier home solutions.

    1. CONDIMENTS COUNT

    Sweet, sour, savory and pungent: Chefs use any number of chutneys, conserves, marmalades, pestos, pickles, salsas and sauces for a creative flavor boost.

    Chefs create special condiments like broccoli marmalade, celery leaf pesto, fried caper aïoli and pumpkin agrodolce*. At home, we make an easy mayo substitute nonfat Greek yogurt, flavored with diced smashed garlic and dill (creating a form of “yogurt aïoli”).

    There are trending condiments that you can buy in the store: bacon mayonnaise, fig Dijon mustard, onion marmalade (caramelized onions) and sriracha ketchup.

    Any of them will add “wow” notes to a sandwich.

     
    *Agrodolce is an Italian sweet and sour sauce made by reducing vinegar and sugar with other ingredients.
     

    2. GO VIBRANT WITH VEGGIES

    Forget bland lettuce and out-of-season tomatoes. Chefs are substituting specialties like tempura turnips, fried shallots and Vidalia onion purée, and are also getting creative with veggie sandwiches.

    They’re using root vegetables for bold sandwich flavors. The new tuna melt may just be a roasted broccoli and cauliflower melt.

    Whatever the base, it works with pickled vegetables. From pickled carrot slices to pickled beets, it’s easy to pickle vegetables at home. Don’t forget to pickle your favorite hot chiles!

    Home-pickled veggies can be ready in an hour; but if you have no time, just pick up a jar of giardiniera, assorted pickled vegetables that typically include carrots, cauliflower, celery, red bell pepper and optional hot chiles.

    At home, you may already add sliced avocado or guacamole to sandwiches. But how about:

  • Asian vegetables: Asian pear slices, bean sprouts, blanched bok choy, shiso or water chestnuts.
  • Fresh herbs: Basil, cilantro, dill, green onion†, parsley or sage.
  • Potato: Add lots of fresh herb and onion to potato salad and put it on the sandwich, instead of to the side. Try curried potato salad with currants and sliced almonds. Or, slice leftover plain white or sweet potatoes, season and add to the sandwich instead of tomato.
  • Slaw: Go beyond traditional to Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and other flavors. Try this BLT Slaw recipe with a ham or turkey sandwich.
  • Shaved vegetables: Shave raw asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots and/or celery as a “crudité” addition that adds crunch and flavor.
     
    While they’re not exactly vegetables, a trending sandwich addition is:
  • Chips: potato, tortilla or veggie chips.
  •  
    †Onion is botanically classified as a perennial herb that grows from a bulb. So are other members of the Allium genus, including chives, garlic, leek, scallion and shallot.

     

    3. ADD FRUIT

    Who says that a slice of fruit doesn’t belong on a sandwich, along with—or instead of—the lettuce and tomato.

    Raw, roasted or pickled, fruit flavors are a perky counterpoint to meaty, salty and savory ingredients.

    Start with apples, pears, plums or other stone fruit in season, and try them alternative raw (sliced thin) and pickled. Both provide a nice crunch.

    If you want fruit without effort, you can default to a jar of fig conserve or red pepper jam. Peruse the shelves of specialty food stores to see what calls your name.

     
    4. USE NUT OR SEED SPREADS

    The explosion of hummus flavors at the grocer’s was the first hint that you can season old standards to deliver new flavors.

    Certainly, use flavored hummus as a spread. But chefs are also mixing peanut butter with Middle Eastern spices, hummus with chocolate and sunflower butters with fruit preserves.

     

    roast-beef-sandwich-mccormick-230

    Roast beef panini with sage pesto and pickled onions. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    Take spreads made from nuts and seeds and enhance them with your own favorite flavors, to deliver new punch to everyday sandwiches.

    One of THE NIBBLE’s first Top Picks Of The Week, back in 2004, was a line of savory peanut butters called Peanut Better (alas, it is no longer produced).

    Think onion parsley peanut butter on turkey or ham sandwiches, Southwestern-spiced PB on roast beef sandwiches, hickory smoked PB with hot or cold turkey, ham, and roast chicken. Go Thai by adding ginger, crushed red pepper and a splash of soy sauce.

    Next step: Get a jar of plain peanut butter and get to work!

     
    5. BEANS & LEGUMES

    Chefs are spreading sandwiches with mashed curried chickpeas, white bean purée and pickled black-eyed peas.

    Beans and legumes provide velvety texture and lots of extra protein. Turn your leftover beans and legumes into sandwich spreads or fillings—with cheese or grilled vegetables as well as with meats.

    We added leftover lentil salad to a turkey sandwich along with some pickled onions. Delicious!
     
    OUR FINAL TIP

    Think outside the box, like a creative chef. Every recipe we eat didn’t exist until someone first put the ingredients together.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Jumbo Croutons

    Most croutons are miniature cubes. Some crouton lovers would like them much larger: more flavor, more crunch.

    And they certainly make salads more fun.

    So today’s tip is. Make jumbo croutons. They make salads more fun. And you can customize the flavors each time, so there’s no “crouton fatigue.”

     
    GENERAL CROUTON TIPS

  • Pick your bread. While baguette is a standard, you can use whole grain, seeded, raisin-semolina or whatever you like.
  • Pick your texture. Crunchier croutons come from drier bread. For the crispest crouton, use day-old or two-day-old bread. Fresh bread takes longer to dry out in the oven; so if that’s what you have, adjust the baking time accordingly.
  • Use a flavored oil. If you have basil oil, chili oil, etc., use it to add more flavor. Whatever oil you select, more oil creates a heavier, more sumptuous crouton.
  • Spice it up. Herbs and spices take your croutons in any direction you like, from the heat of cayenne or red pepper flakes, to the elegance of fines herbes, to exotic notes of curry or Chinese five spice. One of our favorites is toasted sesame seed. You can also add grated cheese.
  •  
    RECIPE: GARLIC CROUTONS

    Ingredients

  • 1 baguette or ficelle*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  •  

    salad-long-croutons-morningstarfarmsFB230r

    Make jumbo croutons any shape you like. These are crouton “fingers.” Photo courtesy MorningStar Farms.

     
    *Ficelle is slender French loaf, thinner than a baguette, no more than two inches wide. The word is French for “string.” It’s a better shape if you want to make round croutons with a diameter of two inches or so.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cut the bread into rounds or fingers.

    2. TOSS the ingredients in a large bowl, coating bread thoroughly. Bake until toasted to your preference (light or dark), 15-20 minutes.

    3. PREPARE and dress the salad. Top with warm croutons and serve. You can store croutons in an airtight container for a day or two.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Berry Croissants

    croissant-fruit-cheese-castelloUSA-230

    Berry croissants: a yummy idea. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     

    For Sunday brunch or afternoon tea*, here’s a fun alternative to a chocolate croissant that provides another reason to enjoy seasonal berries.

    RECIPE: BERRY CROISSANTS

    Ingredients

  • Croissants
  • Berries: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or a mix
  • Mascarpone, fresh chèvre (goat cheese), cream cheese or other spreadable cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPLIT the croissant and spread the bottom half with cheese.

    2. ADD the berries, whole or sliced, depending on size.

     
    Thanks to Castello USA for the idea (they used blue cheese).

     
    *Who has afternoon tea, you say? Well, THE NIBBLE is a far cry from Downtown Abbey, but we serve afternoon tea daily. Not everyone drinks tea, but it’s our chance to sample some of the many foods that arrive at our doorstep—baked goods, candy, jam, crackers, cheese, pâté and so forth—including coffee, tea and other beverages. If you want to serve a proper afternoon tea, here’s how.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    mac-and-cheese-grilled-cheese-davidvenableQVC-230

    A grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese! Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    We’re closing out National Grilled Cheese Month with something out of the ordinary: a grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese. It’s the creation of Chef David Venable of QVC, who created it to use up leftover mac and cheese. (Really? Who ever has leftover mac and cheese?)

    He uses extra slices of cheddar on top of the mac and cheese, which melt and will help hold the mac in place. And, since you don’t want to wait until you have leftovers, you make the mac and cheese from scratch.

    If you like heat, add some chili flakes to the recipe.

    RECIPE: MAC & CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced, cooked, and fat drained
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1–1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 slices white bread or bread of choice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

    2. ADD the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. When the sauce begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and add the shredded cheese, mustard, optional chili flakes, salt and pepper. Stir until all of the cheese has melted. Add the bacon and the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to fully coat the macaroni. Set aside.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    4. PLACE 8 slices of bread on a work surface and spread the mayonnaise onto one side of each slice. Flip over 4 slices of the bread and place 1 slice of cheddar on each.

    5. DIVIDE the macaroni over the cheese-covered bread slices and spread evenly. Top with the remaining slices of cheddar and cover with the remaining bread slices, mayonnaise side facing out.

    6. PREHEAT a square griddle pan to medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the hot griddle and toast until golden brown on one side, about 5–8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches; then place the griddle, with the sandwiches, in the oven and bake for about 5–8 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese slices have melted.

      

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