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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Bread, Crackers, Muffins, Sandwiches

TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Way To Eat Whole Grains

/home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/guac sandwich yvonne triedandtasty 230

/home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/powerseed 230

Top: Doesn’t this look so much better
than white bread? Photo courtesy
Tried And Tasty via Dave’s Killer Bread.
Bottom: Photo courtesy Dave’s Killer Bread.


September is Whole Grains Month. Why whole grains? You need the fiber no matter your age, what shape you’re in (here’s why you need whole grains).

When you tell people they need to add more fiber to their diet via whole grains, you get push back. We understand: We, too prefer the taste of white-flour pancakes, pasta and pizza crust to whole grain versions.

But bread? Did you ever meet a piece of bread you didn’t like? That’s why you should make a small switch to whole grain bread.

Sandwiches and toast are just as delicious with whole wheat bread. And if you use Dave’s Killer Bread, they are resplendent!

So today’s tip is: Stop buying white bread for sandwiches and toast, and try all the whole grain versions available to you.

Our favorite is Dave’s Killer Bread, available in 14 different loaf varieties plus hamburger and hot dog buns. There’s also a better-for-you cinnamon roll. It’s one of our favorite Top Picks Of The Week.


It is, indeed, killer. In addition to marvelous flavor and texture, the breads are organic, all natural, whole grain and packed with protein, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids. Whole grain bread has never tasted better. We’ll support Dave’s claim that this is “the best bread in the universe.”

In addition, the breads are vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified and certified kosher (parve) by Oregon Kosher.

Our only lament is that our local store carries only one variety.

Once only available in greater Portland, Oregon, Dave’s Killer Bread has quietly become the country’s largest baker of organic bread—the #1 organic bread brand!

The first four Dave’s Killer Bread varieties (Blues, Good Seed, Nuts & Grains and Rockin’ Rye) launching at the Portland Farmers Market in 2005. Ten years later, it’s traversed the U.S. Waste no time in finding it, even if your local store has only one of the 14 loaves.

Here’s a store locator. Discover more at

We had Dave’s Killer Bread for breakfast this morning, toasted. It’s so flavorful that it needs no spread. And since, as far as bread is concerned, Dave’s is as guilt-free as it gets, we’re deciding on what to put on our DKB sandwich for lunch:

  • BLT?
  • Chicken salad?
  • Egg?
  • Grilled cheese?
  • Grilled vegetables?
  • Ham and Emmental (the real Swiss cheese) or pimento cheese?
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Turkey and guacamole?
    All are in THE NIBBLE coffers; we just can’t decide. But we hope we’ve sold you.



    While you can rest assured that Dave’s Killer Bread is whole grain, there’s a lot on the store shelves that appear to be—but aren’t. Package labels are deceptive.

  • Multigrain is not whole grain.
  • Cracked grain and rye breads are not whole grain.
  • Pumpernickel, other dark breads are not whole grain.
  • Only “whole wheat” and “whole grain” are whole grain.
  • Corn bread can be whole grain if it’s made with whole-grain cornmeal and, if there’s wheat flour in the recipe, whole-wheat flour.
  • Here’s more on what is and isn’t whole grain bread.

    NOTE: If you eat gluten-free, millet is a GF whole grain bread.



    Put your burgers and hot dogs on whole grain buns, too. Photo courtesy The Bojon Gourmet via Dave’s Killer Bread.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gyros At Home

    September 1st is National Gyro Day, and the first thing you need to know is that gyro is pronounced YEE-ro, not JY-ro.

    A gyro is a Greek lamb sandwich on pita bread, roasted on a vertical spit and served with tomato, onion, and tzatziki, a yogurt-cucumber sauce (recipe). Other condiments and sauces can be added or substituted.

    Eating food off of pita bread or wrapping food in pita is an Ancient Greek tradition; the pita served as an edible plate. The tradition continues today—although you’ll also get a piece of foil or kitchen parchment to hold the pita from a street vendor, and a plate in a restaurant.

    Most people eat gyros made by food vendors, but for National Pita Day, try making your own at home. The recipe below is adapted by one from Maria Benardis, award-winning author, chef and founder of Greekalicious, Sydney, Australia’s first exclusively Greek cooking school.

    Traditionally, the deboned leg of lamb is grilled on on a rotating vertical spit (see photo below), and shaved off the leg in thin slices. In fact, the Turkish name for the same sandwich, döner kebab, literally means “rotating roast.”

    But for Maria’s recipe you don’t need a spit: Roasting the lamb is just as delicious.

    Of course not! Cuisine evolves constantly, and each cook can put his or her spin on a recipe. If you don’t like lamb, or don’t want to roast a whole leg, you can use any of the following:

  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken or pork
  • Lamb sausage or other sausage variety
  • Grilled portobello mushrooms
  • Grilled fish fillet

  • Traditional condiments: lettuce, onion, tomato, tzatziki
  • Cilantro or parsley
  • Feta cheese
  • Black olives (pitted), pickles, pepperoncini
  • Shredded red cabbage or yogurt-based slaw
  • Tahini sauce (recipe)

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/lamb sausage gyro kevineats 230

    Gyros can contain any protein other than lamb lamb. Here, lamb sausage is the protein (any sausage works). Photo courtesy Kevin Eats.



    This recipe is more layered than your typical gyro. A salty feta crust forms on the lamb with some heat from the red chili flakes. Instead of the standard tzatziki yogurt-cucumber-garlic-dill sauce, Maria makes a herbed yogurt sauce which eliminates the cucumber but adds basil, mint and parsley. (It’s also a delicious dip.)

    Maria also adds the baby potatoes to the gyro, but we prefer to serve them on the side. You can replace them with an all-American side of fries.
    Ingredient For 8 Servings

  • 8 pocketless whole wheat pita breads
  • 2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby arugula, washed and patted dry
    For The Lamb

  • 2-pound leg of lamb, de-boned
  • Salt and freshly-cracked pepper
  • Extra olive oil for drizzling
  • 16 bite size potatoes

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/giro stand Eaeeae Wiki 230

    A traditional lamb gyro is made from lamb roasted on a vertical spit. Photo by Eaeeae | Wikimedia.


    For The Feta Mixture

  • 6 ounces Greek feta, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions or shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
    For The Herbed Yogurt Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup dill fronds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 355°F (180°C). Place the lamb and potatoes in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

    2. PLACE all ingredients for the feta mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth and thick. Coat the lamb well with the feta mixture. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of the lamb and the potatoes. Add enough water to the baking dish to just cover the base.

    3. COVER the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 300°F (150°C). Bake for at 2 to 2-1/2 hours until the lamb is cooked through: 155°-160° on a meat thermometer for medium, 160° for well done. Because ovens vary, it is important to use a meat thermometer! Uncover and cook for a further 30-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.

    4. COMBINE the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a food processor and blend until all the herbs are chopped and the sauce is smooth and thick. Place in a bowl and refrigerate. When the lamb is ready…

    5. SLICE the lamb thinly. Warm the pita; if you like, you can lightly brush each side with olive oil and place the bread on a hot grill or in a grill pan for warming and grill marks.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place some yogurt sauce in the center of the pita, arugula and slices of tomato and onion. Top with some lamb and some more yogurt sauce. Serve flat, with an optional side of roasted potatoes.

    Find more of Maria’s delicious recipes at



    RECIPE: A Waffle Sandwich (Wafflewich) For National Waffle Day

    For special occasions, a waffle sandwich is true food fun. There’s an immediate special occasion: August 24th is National Waffle Day.

    Andrea Correale, CEO of Elegant Affairs Caterers, sent us two yummy sandwich recipes to celebrate the day. Both replace the bread with waffles. The result: a wafflewich!

    Waffle sandwiches require the extra step of making fresh waffles. Frozen waffles don’t taste anywhere as good.

    To assauge any waffle guilt, check out our recommended whole grain pancake and waffle mixes.


    When a wafflewich includes cheese, the sandwich is even better if you place it in a panini press to melt a bit.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 2 waffles, freshly made from a waffle mix or your own recipe*
  • 3 slices ham per sandwich (Andrea prefers hickory honey ham)

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/waffle ham and cheese elegantcaterers 230ps

    Enjoy your ham and cheese on a waffle. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.

  • 3 slices cheese per sandwich (Andrea prefers sharp Cheddar; we like Emmental)
  • Mustard
  • Optional: lettuce and tomato
  • Sides: baby carrots or other crudités, coleslaw, pickles†, pickled vegetables, candied jalapeños
    *For big eaters, you can make a triple decker sandwich (three waffles). If your waffle recipe contains sugar—which is normal for breakfast waffles—cut it back to 1/2 teaspoon or none at all.

    †We added sweet and spicy pickle chips to the sandwich before grilling in the panini press. Check out our article on the best pickles.

    1. COOK the waffles in a waffle maker.

    2. PLACE the ham and cheese, lettuce and tomato between two waffles, with the pickle chips if desired (or, serve the pickles on the side). We added Dijon mustard between the ham and cheese layers.

    3. PLACE the waffle sandwich in a panini press and cook until the cheese is gooey. Remove and serve immediately with the sides.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/blt waffle sandwich elegantcaterers

    A twist on the BLT: a BLT Waffle Sandwich. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.



    You can make this a vegetarian sandwich with Morning Star Bacon Strips or Lightlife Smart Bacon, and/or Baconaise bacon-flavored mayonnaise (one of our favorite mayos). These products get their bacony taste from natural smoke flavor and other seasonings.

    You can also add sliced avocado, chicken or turkey.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 3 slices cooked bacon (Andrea prefers hickory smoked bacon)
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Lettuce (we prefer iceberg or romaine for the crunch)
  • Optional: sliced avocado, chicken or turkey
  • Mayonnaise (we prefer flavored mayonnaise)
  • Optional: long toothpicks (we like these festive cellophane frill toothpicks)
  • Sides: coleslaw or potato salad, chips (corn/tortilla, lentil, vegetable, etc.)
  • Preparation

    1. PILE the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and optional avocado, chicken or turkey on the bottom waffle. If using iceberg lettuce, we find it helpful to slice it in slabs from the head, so the lettuce will lie flat on the sandwich.

    2. SEASON with salt and pepper as desired.

    3. SPREAD the top waffle with mayonnaise. Place the top on the sandwich and anchor with toothpicks as necessary.

    4. SERVE with sides.



    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.


    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

    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


    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.


    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.



    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.



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



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



    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, including all these delicious recipes for Triscuit snacks.




    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.

  • Antipasto, with diced mozzarella, salami.


    Find more delicious recipes at

  • 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.


    Bacon and egg salad. Photo courtesy

  • 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.

    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

    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

  • 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.



    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?



    Find more delicious recipes at Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.



    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


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



    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.


    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



    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.


    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.



    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.

    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.



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



    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.

    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

    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.



    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.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Chef Tips For Exciting Sandwiches


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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 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!


    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!

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



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