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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

HALLOWEEN: Witch’s Fingers Breadsticks

A hostess gift for Morticia Addams? Photo
courtesy ArtisanBreadInFive.com.

 

Halloween is a week away. Are your mummy ducks in order?

Halloween is great fun for kids, but adults enjoy fun food too. These crunchy breadsticks combine the ghoulish with the delicious. You can make them as is, or add a few drops of green food color to the dough if you want your witch to have green-tinted flesh.

The recipe is courtesy of Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, baking partners who have written several books that make bread-baking easier for anyone who wants to pull fresh loaves from the oven.

Why not serve the breadsticks with a bowl of “bloody worm” pasta: maloreddus pasta with tomato sauce?

RECIPE: WITCH’S FINGERS BREADSTICKS

Ingredients For 8 Breadsticks

  • 8 ounces Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day—or any other non-enriched dough
  • Optional: green food color to tint the dough
  • 8 whole raw almonds
  • Olive oil for greasing the pan
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F. There is no need for a stone.

    2. DIVIDE the 8-ounce ball of dough into 8 equal pieces. Elongate the pieces into ropes.

    3. TWIST the ropes so there is a knot in the middle; this will look like a gnarly knuckle when they are baked.

    4. GREASE a baking sheet and arrange the breadsticks at least an inch apart. Let them rest for 20 minutes. Right before baking, press the almond “fingernail” into the end of each breadstick. Be sure to press hard, so they won’t pop off while baking.

    5. BAKE for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

    Here are photos of the whole process.

     

    Get the book and preheat the oven. Photo courtesy Thomas Dunne Books.

     

    BAKE FRESH BREAD EVERY DAY!

    Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François know that people want to bake their own bread, so long as they can do it easily and quickly. Their revised classic enables you to do just that: “The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking,” by Jeff Hertzberg, Zoë François and Stephen Scott Gross.

    You can read a nice chunk of the book via the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.com, and can pursue the authors’ blog for more recipes.

    The authors have also taken on healthy bread, with “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free.”

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Yorkshire Pudding Day

    Yorkshire Pudding is neither sweet, a dessert, or what Americans think of as pudding.

    In fact, it’s very much like a popover, an Americanized version of Yorkshire Pudding.

    WHY IS IT CALLED A PUDDING?

    In many Commonwealth countries, a pudding most often refers to a sweet, cake-like dessert. These older-style puddings are baked, boiled or steamed into a cake-like consistency.

    In the U.K., newer-style creamy puddings—those that Americans think of as puddings—are:

  • Custards, if they are egg-thickened
  • Blanc-mange, the French term, if they starch-thickened (these are our soft chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch puddings)
  •  

    Yorkshire Pudding with the traditional fixings. Photo by Robbie Jim | Wikimedia.

     
    SAVORY PUDDINGS

    “Pudding” can also be a savory dish. Some of the better-known savory puddings include:

  • Black pudding or blood pudding, i.e. a blood sausage;
  • Cheese pudding, similar to a cheese soufflé;
  • Corn pudding, a recipe with many variations (one of our favorites is like a baked custard with corn kernels, cheese and herbs);
  • Kugel, a baked dish with many variations, including noodles, potatoes or cottage cheese;
  • Kishke, an Eastern European sausage or pudding;
  • Scrapple, a loaf of pork scraps and trimmings, sliced and fried;
  • Steak and kidney pudding (or pie), diced steak and beef, lamb or pig kidney, onions, and gravy baked in a suet pastry; and
  • Yorkshire pudding, a baked batter.
  •  
    THE ORIGIN OF “PUDDING”

    The word “pudding” evolved from the French boudin (originally from the Latin botellus), meaning “small sausage.”

    In Medieval times, sausages were an ingredient in savory puddings. According to FoodTimeline.org, 17th century English puddings were either savory (meat-based) or sweet (made from flour, nuts and sugar), and were typically boiled in special pudding bags.

    Far from the creamy dessert puddings popular in the U.S., these puddings were a solid mass formed by mixing various ingredients with a grain product or another binder (batter, blood, cereal, eggs, flour or suet, for example) and cooked by baking, boiling or steaming. The “pease porridge” of the old nursery rhyme was likely a simple boiled pudding made from pease meal (pease is a legume). They were—and still are—served as a main dish; sweet puddings evolved and were served as dessert.

    By the latter half of the 18th century, traditional English puddings no longer included meat. In the 19th century, the boiled pudding evolved into the U.K.’s cake-like concept, such as the Christmas pudding that remains popular to this day.

     

    Yorkshire puddings, hot from the pan. Photo
    by Stef Yau | Wikimedia.

     

    THE ORIGIN OF YORKSHIRE PUDDING

    Here’s the history of Yorkshire Pudding, courtesy of Wikipedia:

    When wheat flour began to come into common use for making cakes and puddings, cooks in the north of England (where Yorkshire is located) devised a way to use the fat that dropped into the dripping pan of roasting meats. They used it to cook a batter pudding while the meat roasted in the oven.

    There is a printed recipe for “Dripping Pudding,” which had been cooked in England for centuries to accompany meat dishes, in 1737 cookbook:

    Make a good batter as for pancakes; put in a hot toss-pan over the fire with a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little then put the pan and butter under a shoulder of mutton, instead of a dripping pan, keeping frequently shaking it by the handle and it will be light and savoury, and fit to take up when your mutton is enough; then turn it in a dish and serve it hot.

     

    Similar instructions were published in 1747 in “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy,” by Hannah Glasse. It was called Yorkshire Pudding, and Ms. Glasse is credited with renaming Dripping Pudding.

    The Yorkshire Pudding is a staple of the British Sunday lunch. While today it is served alongside the meat and vegetables, some people in parts of Yorkshire still eat it the old-fashioned way, as a separate course prior to the main meat dish.

    Why? The story has it that the purpose of the dish was to provide a cheap way to fill the diners, thus stretching a lesser amount of the more expensive ingredients.

    Yorkshire Pudding is quick and easy to make. Here’s a recipe.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: The BLT Becomes The BELT

    The “BELT.” Photo courtesy David Burke
    Fromagerie.

     

    If we lived anywhere near Rumson, New Jersey, our favorite restaurant would be David Burke’s Fromagerie.

    Burke’s cooking team adds a creative touch to everything they serve. Here, the BLT becomes a BELT: a poached egg is added to the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.

    Using a base of buttery brioche toast instead of white bread, build the sandwich and top it with the egg and a sprinkle of chives. You can serve it open face or add a second slice of toast on top.

    We followed the Fromagerie decor and piped a circle of LeGrand sundried tomato pesto on the plate (where to buy LeGrand pesto).

    The runny egg adds a new dimension of richness to this favorite American sandwich. the mayo: the runny egg yolk will be moisture enough.

     
    See more Fromagerie specialties on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

    THE HISTORY OF THE BLT

    While toast, bacon and lettuce have been enjoyed since Roman times, tomatoes came from the New World in the mid-1500s. They were brought back to Europe by the Conquistadors and other explorers.

    Tomatoes were initially considered poisonous, enjoyed as houseplants until the 1800s (the history of tomatoes).

    At the same time, there was no mayo for the BLT. While mayonnaise sauce was invented in 1756, it was not until years later that the great French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) lightened the original recipe by blending the vegetable oil and egg yolks into an emulsion, creating the mayonnaise that we know today (the history of mayonnaise).

    All the ingredients finally came together. Old cookbooks and menus show that BLTs were served as tea sandwiches in the late Victorian era (the late 1800s).

    But they weren’t called “BLT.” The earliest recipes for bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches were listed under different names in cookbooks.

    Today’s abbreviated name most likely came from American diner slang: “Give me a BLT on a raft,” i.e., a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on toast.

    HOW MANY TYPES OF SANDWICHES HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out the different types of sandwiches in our Sandwich Glossary.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Gourmet Bagel

    We love bagels. We could eat them three meals a day. Our three favorite bagel toppings: olive cream cheese and smoked salmon, whitefish salad and tomato, and herring salad and tomato on a sesame or garlic bagel. Optional garnishes: capers, onion or chives.

    Our favorite “gourmet” bagel is topped with smoked sturgeon and salmon caviar, or the trifecta of hot smoked salmon, cold smoked salmon and salmon caviar (the different types of smoked salmon).

    Then we chanced upon this deluxe interpretation from Tori Avey, who blogs as The Shiksa In The Kitchen: a deft layering of cream cheese, smoked salmon, raw onion and whitefish salad with a garnish of chives.

     

    A bagel deluxe! Photo courtesy Shiksa In The Kitchen.

     

    Now we’re contemplating a bagel Dagwood, adding herring salad, smoked sturgeon and hot smoked salmon to Tori’s version. We’ll debut it at Sunday brunch. Who’s in?

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asian Fusion Brisket Sandwich

    Brisket, anyone? Photo courtesy Fatty ‘Cue
    Restaurant | NYC.

     

    Here’s a fun idea for brisket lovers: An Asian fusion brisket sandwich.

    Fatty ‘Cue restaurants in New York City combine traditional smoky southern barbecue with spicy Southeast Asian flavorings.

    Each Fatty ‘Cue location has a variation on the smoked beef brisket recipe, including:

  • Brisket with smoked melted cheddar, purple pickled onions, aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), chili jam and cilantro, on toasted baguette slices
  • Brisket with smoked onion marmalade, green papaya slaw and bao (Chinese steamed buns)
  • Brisket with rhubarb kimchee and bao (you can use any type of kimchee)
  •  

    Fancy some fusion?

    You can add the Asian fixings to a roast beef sandwich, or for that matter, chicken, turkey, lamb, ham or roast pork. If you have a bottle of Southeast Asian fish-sauce, shake it on!

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Secret Forest Corn Muffins

    Surprise: a little tree (OK, it’s a broccoli
    floret) is inside. Photo and recipe courtesy
    Betty Crocker.

     

    Even George H.W. Bush could be convinced to eat broccoli, when it’s tucked away as a surprise in a delicious corn muffin. Make them for brunch or lunch, with soup or a bowl of chili.

    And, you can adjust the recipe to mild, medium or spicy!

    RECIPE: SECRET FOREST CORN MUFFINS

    Ingredients

  • 1 pouch Betty Crocker cornbread & muffin mix
  • Milk, butter and egg called for on cornbread mix pouch
  • 1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese or Pepper Jack or jalapeño Cheddar cheese (for spicier muffins)
  • 6 broccoli florets (thawed if frozen)
  • Optional: chili flakes for more heat
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Line 6 regular-size muffin cups with paper baking cups.

    2. MIX muffin batter as directed on cornbread mix pouch. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Spoon about 1 tablespoon batter into each muffin cup. Place 1 broccoli floret in each, stem side down, trimming stem if necessary for floret to fit in muffin cup.

    3. SPOON remaining batter over florets, covering completely.

    4. BAKE 15 minutes; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 1 to 3 minutes longer or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

     
    Find more of our favorite muffin recipes.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: A “Double” Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt. Photo courtesy
    Denny’s.

     

    We love the way it looks: It’s fun food. It belongs on a list of grilled cheese sandwich ideas.

    But this sandwich is not so much fun, after all.

    It was a dubious winner of a 2011 Xtreme Eating Award, bestowed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) to highlight “American chain restaurants’ culinary extremism.”

    Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt is described as “Grilled cheese with a twist. Four fried mozzarella sticks and melted American cheese grilled between two slices of sourdough bread. Served with wavy-cut French fries and a side of marinara sauce.”

    The “twist” serves itself up at 1,260 calories, 21 grams of saturated fat and 3,010 mg of sodium—the equivalent of downing two Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizzas.

     

    “It’s as if the restaurants were targeting the remaining one out of three Americans who are still normal weight in order to boost their risk of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, and cancer,” said CSPI nutrition director, Bonnie Liebman.

    While the idea of cheese-within-cheese is fun, the results aren’t. So here’s THE NIBBLE’s own Eat This, Not That suggestion:

  • Trade the mozzarella sticks for tuna and enjoy a tuna melt.
  • Add some form of veggie: tomatoes, onions and/or pickles.
  • Pan-fry the sandwich in a healthy oil.
  •  
    Here are the 2013 Xtreme Eating Awards winners.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pretzel Rolls

    Pretzel rolls are a trend, delivered nationwide by Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pretzel Roll Roast Beef Sandwich and Sonic’s pretzel hot dog.

    We’ve been making sandwiches on the pretzel rolls from Trader Joe’s since we discovered them a year ago.

    Or check your local market. Pretzilla, has a line of pretzel rolls that include burger buns, sausage/hot dog buns, mini buns (for sliders) and pretzel bites, with which you can for anything from dipping into fondue or making pretzel nachos. The products are sold nationwide (here’s the store locator).

    If you can’t find pretzel rolls, lobby your grocery store manager to bring them in.

     

    A new classic: hot dog or brat on a pretzel roll. Photo courtesy Pretzilla.

     

    Or, make your own with this recipe, which we found on the blog Jessie-Ordinary Days. Here’s another recipe from The Dutch Baker’s Daughter.

     

    Assorted sliders on pretzel rolls. Photo
    courtesy Pretzilla.

     

    PRETZEL ROLLS RECIPE

    Ingredients

    For The Dough

  • 2-3/8 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups milk, slightly warmed
  •  
    For The Bath

  • 7 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons baking soda
  •  
    Plus

  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX dough ingredients together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until it forms a ball; then mix with dough hook. Says Jessie: “I found that I had to add flour until my dough came together, was no longer sticky and quite stiff. I added maybe another 3/8 of a cup gradually, until the dough looked right.” Let dough rise in mixer bowl, covered with plastic wrap, for 1 hour in a warm place.

    2. PUNCH down dough after the first rising and shape into balls. Place rolls onto well greased cookie sheet and let rise 15 minutes.

    3. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. While rolls are rising, mix the bath ingredients together and bring to a rolling boil. Once the 15 minute rise is over, poach 3 rolls at a time for 1 minute. Flip after 30 seconds. Place poached rolls on greased cookie sheet.

    4. MAKE two slashes with a serrated knife and sprinkle with sea salt. BAKE until a deep dark brown, approximately 20 minutes depending on your oven. Keep an eye on the rolls so they don’t burn.

    Freeze any extras. They thaw quickly.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Black Rice Tortillas, Exotic & Gluten Free

    Yes, there are gluten-free tortillas from Rudi’s and Udi’s that have been lifesavers for Mexican food fans who follow a gluten free diet.

    But now there are even better ones: black rice tortillas from Food For Life. Exotic, gluten free, vegan and yeast free, they are ready to be turned into:

  • Crust, e.g. for chicken pot pie
  • Croutons (cut into strips, fry and season)
  • Mexican favorites: burritos, empanadas,
    enchiladas, tacos, quesadillas
  • “Mexican lasagne”
  • Sandwich wraps
  • Tortilla chips and nachos (cut into triangles and bake into chips)
  • Tortilla “pizza”
  •  

    Gluten-free wraps are dramatic as well as tasty. Photo courtesy Food For Life.

     
    WHAT’S BLACK RICE?

    Black rice, also known as purple rice and forbidden rice, is a group of rice types that are black or dark brown when harvested, but turn purple when cooked.

    Unlike refined white rice, black rice is a whole grain loaded with fiber, 18 amino acids, iron, zinc, copper, carotene, vitamins, minerals and anthocyanins (the same antioxidants that are found in like those found in açaí, blackberries, blueberries and tart cherries, and give all of these foods their deep pigments).

     

    Quesadillas with a twist. Photo courtesy
    LeslieLovesVeggies.net.

     

    In ancient times, black rice was reserved exclusively for Chinese emperors—thus the name forbidden rice. (See the different types of rice.)

    Today, you don’t have to be royalty to enjoy black rice—you can buy it at almost any natural foods store and online. It makes an especially glamorous rice pudding: Thai black rice pudding with coconut milk.

    A healthier alternative to traditional wheat flour tortillas, these black rice tortillas are tastier, too.

    One thing to watch out for: We didn’t see an expiration on our package and left them out at room temperature. The tortillas are actually pretty fragile: the shelf life is five days at room temperature. But they’ll stay fresh for three weeks when refrigerated and one year frozen.

     

    The tortillas are certified kosher by KOF-K.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade gluten-free tortillas.

    Here are some of our favorite gluten-free products.

    For information on gluten intolerance, visit the Celiac Disease Foundation.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: belVita Breakfast Biscuits, Soft Baked

    belVita Soft Baked breakfast biscuit in
    Mixed Berry. Photo courtesy Nabisco.

     

    In various surveys, fewer than half of Americans report eating breakfast every day—even though studies show that breakfast eaters can benefit from improved concentration during the morning, a positive impact on managing body weight and other advantages.

    That’s why Nabisco launched belVita Breakfast Biscuits last year. A better grab-and-go alternative, the flavorful, whole-grain biscuits are delicious with coffee, tea or a yogurt. They earned their place as a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

    The whole-grain biscuits are meant to be part of a balanced breakfast, along with a serving of lowfat dairy and fruit, such as:

  • Apple slices and lowfat cheese
  • Banana and a nonfat latte
  • Fresh strawberries and nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Smoothie made with lowfat Greek yogurt and frozen blueberries
  •  

    But even if all you do is munch on belVita with your coffee, you’ll be ahead of the game—if your game consists of a less nutritious, higher calorie bagel, danish, muffin or other carb. belVita Breakfast Biscuits are portioned in convenient, individual packs that make grab-and-go easy and control your portion size.

     

    Now, the original crunchy biscuits have been joined by Soft Baked.

    Personally, we prefer the original crunchy biscuits—we love to crunch. But those who like a muffin in the morning should opt for the Soft Baked. They’re similar to a muffin consistency, rolled flat in the shape of a bar, in:

  • Mixed Berry
  • Oats & Chocolate
  •  

    One biscuit, a 1.76 ounce/50 g serving, contains 20% of your daily value of fiber (11 g per serving), 180 (Mixed Berry) or 200 (Oats & Chocolate) calories and 7 g fat.

     

    Boxes of the two Soft Baked biscuit* flavors. Photo courtesy Nabisco.

     

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU and is carried by supermarkets and other retailers nationwide.
     

    *Having said “biscuit” more times in this article than we typically say in a year, we can’t sign off without offering for your amusement the biscuit tongue twister of our youth. Say this three times quickly:

    A box of biscuits.
    A box of mixed biscuits.
    A biscuit mixer.

      

    Comments

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