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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 Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

PRODUCT: Farmer’s Eggs At Fresh Direct

In the New York area, online grocer FreshDirect.com is so ubiquitous that it’s often hard to think of it as a Northeast regional business.

It overs only five states: Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. While there are numerous online grocers covering the country, Fresh Direct is known for delivering top quality produce, meats and seafood and prepared foods, as well as non-perishables.

And such convenience: The customer picks the delivery time, 7 days a week. Your order can arrive from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. weekdays or 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays—just the flexibility that those of us who work long hours need.

The company is committed to sourcing the best and newest products for its customers and to helping small farmers optimize their revenue.

That’s what happened on a trip to Alderfer Farm, a fourth generation family farm in Pennsylvania that produces organic eggs. David McInerny, a co-founder of Fresh Direct, inquired about eggs he saw that were set aside from the rest.

 

The brown farmer’s egg compared to a large organic egg. Photo courtesy Fresh Direct.

 

“We don’t sell them,” was the response. “Retailers don’t want them. So we send them to breaking companies,” where they are cracked and packaged for foodservice or other applications.

PULLET EGGS, NOW SOLD AS “FARMER’S EGGS”

But these smaller eggs are actually tastier, and are a “secret” product enjoyed by the farmers themselves, unknown by the outside world. (Similarly, hanger steak was kept by the butchers for their own families, until it was discovered by chefs.)

A young hen, called a pullet, will begin to lay eggs at 19-20 weeks. Pullet eggs are much smaller, but produce fluffier cooked eggs with creamier yolks. The tight albumen sets up better for poached eggs. The shells are harder, which means low likelihood of bits of shell falling into the cracked egg.

Part of the flavor and the deeper color of the yolk is because pullets are pickier eaters: They pick out the corn from the feed mix.

The eggs are sold by Fresh Direct as “farmer’s eggs” under FreshDirect’s private label brand, Just FreshDirect, three times a year.

Farmer’s eggs are available through the end of the month, or while supplies last; will be available again in late May or early June, and in September, as the latest crop of pullets starts to produce; and only are produced for four weeks, when the pullet grows larger and produces larger eggs.

 

Omelet time: a half dozen “farmer’s eggs,”
small eggs from young hens (pullets). Photo
courtesy Fresh Direct.

  Organic farmer’s eggs are $3.69 a dozen from FreshDirect.com.

If you want a better-tasting egg, give them a try. We’d like to add our observation that organic eggs in general taste better than conventional eggs (due in part to superior feed).

You’ll also enjoy these “farmer’s eggs” knowing that the hens are:

  • Fed 100% organic grains, most milled right on the same farm.
  • Never fed animal fats, hormones or GMOs.
  • Free range, with access to the the outdoors and natural sunlight as well as plenty of space in their barns to roam, roost and nest.
  • Cared for in a natural and healthy environment without the need for antibiotics or medication.
  •  
    The calories are lower, too: 50 calories, compared to 70 calories in a large egg. One dozen organic eggs are $3.69.
     
    HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF EGGS HAVE YOU TRIED?

    Check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary.

     
    PASTEURIZED ORGANIC MILK

    Also new in the refrigerator case is Just Fresh Direct pasteurized organic milk.

    Isn’t all milk pasteurized? Yes, but for years it has been ultrapasteurized, to afford retailers a 60-90 day shelf life.

    Ultrapasteurization (also called UHT, for ultra-high temperature) is the process of super-heating milk or cream to 275°F for 4 to 15 seconds or 280°F for at least two seconds. Regular pasteurization heats the milk to 161°F for 15 seconds.

    The ultra-high temperature kills off all bacteria—not just the harmful ones, but the benign ones that can potentially sour milk but also provide flavor to fresh milk. Now, you can enjoy Just Fresh Direct’s fresher-flavor organic milk with your better-tasting organic eggs.

    FOOD HISTORY: Routine pasteurization in the U.S. began around 1920, as a way to prevent illnesses caused by contaminated milk, including tuberculosis. Here’s the scoop.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Goat Cheese Crumbles

    Photo by Béatrice Peltre | La Tartine
    Gourmande in Boston. Check out her
    beautiful food photos. Above, Apricot and Thyme crumbles with Cranberry and Thyme Crumbles in the background.

     

    “Crumbled goat cheese is the largest category of the goat cheese market,” says Allison Hooper, co-founder of the splendiferous Vermont Creamery. “People love them on salads, and appreciate the ease and convenience.”

    Who knew? We typically see blue cheese crumbles in our New York City supermarkets. But since the stores in this cramped city tend to be smaller than elsewhere, we’ve never seen goat cheese crumbles. We simply take a log and crumble our own.

    But the ease and convenience factor beckons, not to mention the delicious flavored crumbles Vermont Creamery has created:

  • Classic Chèvre* Crumbles (plain), with a recipe on the label for Raspberry Walnut Salad
  • Apricot & Thyme Crumbles, with a Beet Salad recipe (see photo below)
  • Cranberry & Tarragon Crumbles with a recipe for Orange Fennel Salad
  • Tomato & Basil Crumbles with a recipe for Quinoa, Edamame & Tomato Salad
  •  
    You can find all the recipes on the Vermont Creamery website.

    The fresh goat cheese is crumbled by hand and mixed with carefully selected dried fruit and fresh herbs. Fresh Goat Cheese Crumbles are available in 4-ounce containers with an MSRP† of $5.99.

    CLASSY CHEESE CRUMBLES

    Not all crumbled cheese products are of top quality. When we’ve purchased blue cheese crumbles at the supermarket, for example, they’ve tended to be dried out, hard and not pleasant.

    These crumbles are first-class, made with award-winning Vermont Creamery chèvre and the highest quality herbs and dried fruit.

    Unlike most other crumbles on the market, Vermont Creamery’s Crumbles do not use any mold inhibitors or anti-caking agents like cellulose, so there isn’t a “dry mouth feel.”
     
    *Chèvre is the French word for goat cheese (and also for the goat itself).

    †MRSP is the manufacturers recommended sale price.

     

    HOW TO USE CHEESE CRUMBLES

    Naturally high in protein and calcium, each serving of the Fresh Goat Cheese Crumbles contains fewer than 100 calories, adding flavor and nutrition to salads and other dishes. Use them to top:

  • Burgers (an occasion for lamb burgers!)
  • Broiled/roasted fish, meat and other proteins
  • Bruschetta, crostini, hors d’oeuvre
  • Pasta, potatoes, rice and other grains
  • Pizza and flat breads
  • Salads—green, pasta, egg salad, chicken salad, fruit salad, etc.
  • Sandwiches, for just a touch of flavor on grilled vegetable, ham
  • Soups and stews
  • Tacos, enchiladas, refried beans, quesadillas, tostadas and wherever queso fresco is called for
  • Vegetables, especially beets!
  • General garnish
  •  
    †If you are crumbling feta, first slice and run under cold water for 10 seconds to wash away any brine and firm up the cheese.

     

    A marriage made in heaven: goat cheese and beets—here, three varieties of beets. Photo by Béatrice Peltre | La Tartine Gourmande.

     

    HOW TO CRUMBLE CHEESE

    1. FIRM it. If the cheese is very soft, first put it in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm it up.

    2. CUT into slices or in half-inch cubes (for blue and feta).

    3. USE your fingers or the tines of a fork to break the cheese into small pieces, as fine as you like. Do not mash.

     
    Read our review of Vermont Creamery, a Top Pick Of The Week (actually, a Top Pick forever!).

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Bear In A Blanket

    Who can resist this edible bear? Photo
    courtesy LittleInspiration.com.

     

    We love this brown rice bear in an omelet blanket. What a fun dinner idea for this quiet week, along with a colorful side salad. Have the kids help make it!

    Bear in a Blanket was created by Angie Ramirez of LittleInspiration.com, who shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood and everything in between on her blog.

    The recipe takes only 20 minutes of prep time, 50 minutes of cook time.

    RECIPE: BEAR IN A BLANKET

    Ingredients For One Bear & Blanket

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 scrambled eggs (for the blanket)
  • Small, thin slices of cheese (for the ears and nose)
  • Small, thin slices of black olive (for the eyes and nose)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COOK brown rice on stove top as directed on package, or about 45-50 minutes.

    2. SCRAMBLE eggs with a pinch of salt over medium/high temperature in a lightly buttered skillet pan.

    3. ASSEMBLE the bear in a blanket: Place about 1/2 cup of rice in the middle of the plate to form the bear’s body. Then scoop a medium size ball of rice to form the head. To form the bear’s ears, use a small amount of rice by shaping it like a half circle. Place the omelet on top of the bear’s body to form the blanket. Attach the olive and cheese slivers to form his ears, nose and eyes.

    Serve to happy diners!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: MAKE A STRATA

    Looking at a lot of leftovers today? Make a strata!

    A strata is a layered casserole, related by eggs and cheese to a fritatta or quiche, made from a mixture of bread, eggs and cheese plus any vegetables and proteins you have on hand. You can serve it for any meal, from breakfast through dinner.

    Wile it sounds Italian, the strata is actually American in origin. The earliest recipe has been found in a 1902 book, Handbook of Household Science. That first recipe used white sauce instead eggs.

    Today’s variations include everything from sweet stratas like French Toast Strata to savory stratas, like the recipe below. A strata can make good use of leftovers:

  • Breads: baguette, brioche, challah, cornbread, panettone, whole grain, seasoned bread crumbs for topping, stuffing or any type of bread
  • Cheese: any type at all, from blue, goat and feta to cheddar, gruyère and mozzarella
  • Seasonings: chile, garlic, pesto, etc.
  • Fruits: apples, berries, dried fruits (including raisins), pineapple
  • Meats: Bacon, chicken, ham, sausage
  • Onions: caramelized onions, chives, leeks,
  • Crab, smoked salmon, tuna, any leftovers
  •  

    Yummy layers of eggs, bread and any leftovers you have. Photo courtesy National Pork Board.

  • Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, herbs, mushroom, spinach, potato, pumpkin, tomato, zucchini
  •  
    Here are hundreds of strata recipes.

    This recipe is from the National Pork Board, which has many delicious recipes at PorkBeInspired.com.

    RECIPE: PORK ROAST STRATA WITH GREEN CHILES & GOAT CHEESE

    The National Pork Board says: This recipe is wonderful for Christmas morning or New Year’s Day because it takes advantage of the previous night’s leftover roast. You can substitute cooked sausage—breakfast or Italian—or even diced ham for the pork. On the side, serve a citrus and avocado salad and cinnamon-laced coffee.

     

    Don’t like goat cheese? Bell peppers?
    Whatever? Substitute an ingredient you do
    like. Photo courtesy iGourmet.com.

     

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 12 ounces cooked roast pork, shredded or cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 5 cups)
  • Oil spray
  • 12 ounces crusty Italian or French bread, with crusts, cut or torn into 3/4-inch pieces (about 12 cups)
  • 1 7-ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup) spreadable goat cheese, crumbled*
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk (regular or lowfat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. SPRAY a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking oil. Arrange 1/2 of the bread in the dish. Top with 1/2 of the pork, 1/2 of the chiles, 1/2 of the cheese, and 1/2 of the sage. Repeat 1 time, making 2 layers. Set aside.

    3. WHISK the eggs in a large bowl; then whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over casserole and set aside for 20 minutes, pressing on the bread occasionally to help it absorb the liquid.

    4. BAKE until browned and the center is set, about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

     
    *Don’t buy pre-crumbled goat cheese; it doesn’t melt as well.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Cream Cheese & Sour Cream Hybrids With Greek Yogurt

    We have long been cutting down the fat content of our dips by mixing sour cream with fat free Greek yogurt. Sooner or later, dairy producers were going to figure out that creamy, nonfat Greek yogurt could be used to lower the fat count and calorie count in those two voluptuous, fatty and caloric dairy staples, cream cheese and sour cream.

    “GREEK” SOUR CREAM

    We initially received the news from Breakstone, which launched the first nationally “hybrid” last month: delicious Greek Style Sour Cream. It contains 50% less fat, 40% less cholesterol, and twice the calcium and protein of regular sour cream (each two tablespoon serving has 4% of the daily value for calcium and 2 grams of protein).

    They sent us samples. It is smooth, creamy, far superior to nonfat sour cream, and no one will know the difference. Use it instead of full fat sour cream in any recipe. We were so excited, we devoured half the carton with a spoon.

    The product is certified kosher by OU.

     

    A guilty pleasure: sour cream with New York Style Bagel Chips. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

     

    Available in bricks and tubs. Photo courtesy Green Mountain Farms.

     

    “GREEK” CREAM CHEESE

    Then, we were trolling the aisles of our supermarket and saw Green Mountain Farms Greek Cream Cheese. Green Mountain Farms is a brand of Franklin Foods.

    Similar to the Breakstone Greek Sour Cream, the blending of nonfat Greek yogurt into cream cheese results in two times the protein and half the fat of conventional cream cheese, plus “live and active cultures.”

    Our market only carried the plain version, but it also is made in Cucumber Garlic, Garlic & Herb, Roasted Red Pepper and Sundried Tomato. The products are packaged in bricks and tubs. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Strangely, we detected a very slight sweetness to the product, such that we checked the label to see if any sweetener was in it (there isn’t any).

     

    While this might be delicious on a cinnamon raisin bagel, it was distracting on our poppy seed bagel with smoked salmon. The product consistency was less firm than conventional cream cheese (in the way that fat-free cream cheese can be), but not disconcertingly so.

    Try it yourself and see if you like it. When we’re in a fat-cutting mode, however, we’ll stick with Philadelphia Fat Free.

    Neither the Greek sour cream or Greek cream cheese is Greek in origin. The name simply refers to the Greek-style yogurt used in the blend.

    If you’re looking to cut back on fat, “Greek” is the new lower-fat. Opa!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Storing Cheese

    Some types of cheese in full, uncut wheels—Gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano, for example—can age for several years. Their flavor, aroma and texture grow more complex over time.

    But for most cheeses, once the wheel is cut and the rind is broken, the cheese begins to deteriorate. Small pieces of cheese have an even shorter lifespan than large, cut wheels.

    Given the cost of cheese, you don’t want it to spoil before each delicious bite is consumed. So here are tips to properly handle and store your cheese. The tips are from Formaticum.com*, which sells specialty paper for wrapping cheese. (The two-ply cheese paper maintains proper humidity and allows adequate oxygen exchange to keep cheese alive [breathing] and tasty. It is the same paper used by leading Parisian fromageries.)
     
    *Formaticum is a noun created from the Latin verbs forma, to shape or mold, and aticum, to age. It was first used by Roman legionnaires to describe a specific cheese of compressed curds of milk, made in a mold.

     

    The best way to wrap cheese is in special cheese paper. Photo courtesy Formicatum.

     

    GENERAL CHEESE STORAGE TIPS

    There is no single way to store all the many types of cheeses. But one general tip is:

    1. DON’T WRAP CHEESE IN PLASTIC. It needs to breathe. To retain its delicate flavor balance, the cheese requires both oxygen exchange and storage at the proper humidity. Non-porous materials like plastic wrap suffocate a cheese. In soft cheeses, they accelerate an ammonia aroma. Non-porous wraps also trap too much moisture, accelerating the growth of invasive surface molds.

    Wax paper, aluminum foil and plastic wrap are unsuitable for wrapping cheese because they neither regulate humidity nor allow oxygen exchange. Cheeses wrapped in them are more likely to dry out, grow surface molds and otherwise spoil. If you’re planning to finish the cheese in a day or two it’s not an issue; but if you’re not sure when you’ll get around to eating it, you should invest in cheese paper (check out the Formicatum website).

    2. AVOID PRE-CUT, PLASTIC WRAPPED CHEESE. For the best possible flavor, shop at a cheese counter with unwrapped cheeses. Cheese that is cut to order is always the freshest and tastiest. Always taste before you buy. Try to avoid plastic-wrapped, pre-cut pieces of cheese. If those are your only choices, however, be mindful of the “cut and packaged date” on the label and be sure the cut date is within a day of purchase. When you get home, you can rewrap the cheese in cheese paper (or waxed paper, in a pinch).

     

    If you buy a lot of fine cheese, consider a
    cheese dome. This one is from Core Bamboo.

     

    3. CONSIDER A CHEESE DOME. Cheese domes (photo at left) are a great way to store cheese without wrapping. Cheese stored under a glass dome creates its own climate and proper humidity. White mold, soft ripened cheeses like Brie and Camembert and washed rind cheeses (the “stinky” group) are ideal when stored under a cheese dome. They’re available with a marble, wood or glass base, and are a terrific gift idea for someone who enjoys good cheese frequently. (Or give them a box of cheese paper.)

    4. STORE EACH CHEESE INDIVIDUALLY. Never wrap different cheeses together: Their flavors will interact and none of them will taste as good as they should. Label the cheese with the date of purchase (and the name, if you won’t remember it).

     

    MORE CHEESE TIPS

    CUTTING. Cut soft cheese while it’s cold (we put very soft cheeses like chèvre logs in the freezer to firm up so we can cut slices for salads). Harder cheeses such as aged Gouda and Parmigiano-Reggiano are much easier to cut at room temperature. For hard cheese, a sharp cheese knife with an offset handle is the professional utensil of choice. For soft cheese a wire cheese cutter will ensure clean cuts. Always clean tool the tool before slicing, to prevent the introduction of new molds or bacteria.

    “FACE CLEAN.” Before re-wrapping cheeses that have been at room temperature cheeses, blot or use a serrated knife to scrape any oil or moisture that has formed on the surface. Always rewrap in clean wrapping material.

    TEMPERATURE. Cheese should ideally be enjoyed at room temperature, but will last longer in the fridge. Drastic temperature changes are not good for fine cheese. Keep cheese in the fridge and only remove and warm to room temperature what you will consume in each sitting. If you have leftover cheese that has been sitting out for hours, store it under a cheese dome at room temperature and finish it the next day. Soft cheese that has been left out overnight is delicious on morning toast. Never freeze cheese.

    CHECKING IN. Don’t loose cheese at the back of the fridge; it’s too expensive to throw out when you discover it weeks or months later. Check and rewrap the cheese periodically if the wrapper has become damp or oil-stained, and plan to eat it (or give it to someone who will).
     
    Discover much more about cheese and read reviews of our favorites in our Cheese Section.
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cranberry Baked Brie

    Baked Brie in pastry with dried cranberries,
    honey and almonds. Photo and recipe
    courtesy Zabars.com.

     

    Here’s a recipe to serve with your favorite bubbly. It’s a favorite of Olga Dominguez, cheese buyer at Zabar’s in New York City.

    For the holidays use dried cranberries; for Valentine’s Day substitute dried cherries or strawberries.

    This party-size recipe uses a standard 17-inch wheel of Brie. If your celebration will be more intimate buy a Baby Brie, which at 8.8 ounces, serves up to four. (In theory, with a portion size of one ounce, it should serve eight—but we don’t know eight people with that much restraint).

    Brie (typically a double-crème cheese, although some like the Rouge et Noir brand are even richer triple-crèmes) is one of America’s top-selling cheeses.

    Other best sellers include Cheddar, cream cheese, mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano.

     
    RECIPE: CRANBERRY BAKED BRIE

    Ingredients

  • 1 large wheel of double crème Brie, 2.2 pounds
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 pound dried cherries, cranberries or strawberries (or a mix)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds plus extra for garnish
  • 1 package of ready-to-bake crescent rolls (or make your own pastry)
  • Crackers or bread (or a combination)
  •  
    Preparation

    Keep the Brie refrigerated and cold until ready to slice.

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. CUT the Brie in half horizontally with a sharp knife, creating a top and a bottom.

    3. SPRINKLE the cranberries, half the honey and half of the almonds in the center of the bottom half of the cheese, to within two inches of the edge. Cover with the top half and press down the edges. (When you press down, the fillings will spread close to the edge.)

    4. OPEN the crescent roll container and prepare to wrap the Brie with the pastry. Lay the triangle crescent dough pieces on a work surface to form a sheet, overlapping the edges slightly. Press to bond together. Place the Brie in the center of the sheet and wrap the edges around the wheel until the entire surface is covered. Overlap and press the crescent dough close to the edges so that the Brie and fillings will not run out.

    5. PLACE on a nonstick cookie sheet with a lip (just in case the cheese does run). Pour the remaining honey in the top center of the wrapped Brie and sprinkle with the remaining almond slices.

    6. BAKE for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

     
    Serving Suggestions

  • As a cocktail party food, provide bread or crackers and a spreader.
  • For a dinner party salad/cheese course, give each guest a plated wedge with some dressed mesclun or frisée salad greens. Pass bread or crackers in a basket for those who want it.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Double-Crème And Triplè-Creme Cheeses

    Serving bubbly for Christmas or New Year’s Eve? The perfect cheese to serve with Champagne or other sparklers is a double-crème or a triple-crème.

    Double- and triple-creme cheeses have a distinctive texture (very creamy) and flavor (buttery). Extra cream is added before the curd is formed, creating the heavenly richness.
     
    DOUBLE CRÈME CHEESES

    According to Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins, the first double-crème cheese was made in Normandy in 1850 by a cheesemaker whose name has been lost to history. He was a short man of Swiss extraction, and called his cheese Petit-Suisse (possibly his nickname!).

    By law, a French double-crème cheese has between 60% and 75% butterfat. Note that this is the percentage of fat in the dry matter of the cheese. Most double- and triple-crèmes have about 50% moisture, so a Brie that has 60% butterfat in the dry matter is actually 31% total fat.

     

    Decorate your Brie for a party. Photo courtesy WisDairy.com.

     
    As a point of reference, butter itself contains between 80% total fat (the legal minimum in the U.S) to 86% total fat.

    Double-crème examples include:

  • Boursault
  • Brie (a minority of Bries are triple-crèmes)
  • Fromage D’Affinois
  • Petit-Suisse
  • Domestic beauties: Bodacious from Bohemian Creamery in California, Cremont from Vermont Creamery and others (ask your cheesemonger)
  •  
    TRIPLE CRÈME CHEESES

    Like the first double-crème, the first triple-crème cheese was also made in Normandy (France’s dairy heartland), 75 years after Petit-Suisse was introduced. Called Le Magnum, it was made by the Dubuc family and was the ancestor of Brillat-Savarin*. By law, French triple-crème cheeses must have a butterfat content of 75% or more.

     

    Pick up this luscious Brillat-Savarin, a
    triple-crème cheese, at Whole Foods
    Markets. Photo courtesy Whole Foods.

     

    A Brillat-Savarin with 75% butterfat in the dry matter actually has 39% total fat.

  • Brillat-Savarin
  • Délice de Bourgogne
  • Explorateur
  • Gratte Paille
  • Pierre Robert
  • Domestic choices such as Kunik from Nettle Meadow in New York State, Mt. Tam and Red Hawk from Cowgirl Creamery in California, Triple Cream Disk, a chèvre from Coach Farms in New York State and other creamy delights (see what’s available from your cheesemonger)
  •  
    *The cheese was named for the French epicure (and also lawyer and politician) Brillat-Savarin, who famously said “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

     

    HOW TO SERVE A DOUBLE-CREME OR TRIPLE CREME CHEESE

    You can go from basic (fruit) to gourmet (truffles):

    Fresh Fruits

    Grapes, mango, raspberries or strawberries are the best matches.

    Truffles

  • Cut the cheese in half horizontally; spread the bottom cut side with truffle butter or shaved truffles, and replace the top half of the cheese (let it sit for 30 minutes to develop flavor).
  • Optional additions to the filling: toasted walnuts (toast then chop) or, with shaved truffles, a thin layer of mascarpone and/or a drizzle of honey.
     
    Bread or Crackers

    Choose among baguette slices, water biscuits, wheatmeal biscuits (slightly sweetened whole wheat crackers) or other favorites.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Butter

    Little things can make a huge difference. In the world of fine food, D’Artagnan Truffle Butter is one of the little things that can elevate and transform almost everything you eat.

    And it’s affordable—made with compared to $2,500 per pound this year (a pound buys a lot of truffles).

    The best truffle splurge for $15 is this black truffle and white truffle duo from d’Artagnan. You can also check at your local fine food retailer.

    You can use either truffle butter (you may enjoy both equally or prefer one variety over the other) to create easy yet impressive recipes:

  • Bread and butter—baguette slices with truffle butter are a splendid appetizer (serve them with Champagne or other wine)
  • Eggs cooked in truffle butter
  • Truffled pasta
  • Truffled mashed potatoes
  • Truffle Sauce
  •  
    See the different ways to use truffle butter and more about this affordable luxury in our review.

     

    One of our favorite foods to enjoy with wine: truffle butter on baguette slices. Photo by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

     

     

    Buy it for yourself, give it as a gift to your
    favorite cooks. Photo courtesy iGourmet.

     

    WHY IS TRUFFLE BUTTER SO INEXPENSIVE?

    It’s flavored with tiny pieces that break off from the truffle. They can’t be sold at top dollar like whole truffles, but are purchased for a fraction of the price by manufacturers, who add them to butter or infuse them in olive oil.

    Note though that most of the truffle olive oil out there is not made with real truffles. Most manufacturers use artificial truffle flavor and aroma: truffle molecules re-created in a lab.

    That doesn’t mean it isn’t good: many of the artificially-flavored products are delicious. But if you’re paying more than $20 for truffle oil, read the label to ensure that it’s infused with real truffles.

     

      

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    HOLIDAY: National Deviled Egg Day

    Curried deviled eggs. Here’s the recipe. Photo
    courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    It’s National Deviled Egg Day.

    Even people who rarely, if ever, eat a hard-cooked egg can’t help plucking a stuffed egg off the tray.

    You can celebrate plan or fancy. For the plainest, mash the yolk from a hard-cooked egg with some mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and salt, and garnish with sprinkle with paprika. Our Mom liked to mix in pickle relish (although this recipe is actually a stuffed egg—see the difference below).

    For fancy, take a look at these recipes:

  • Crabmeat, Sturgeon & Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs With Caviar Caps
  • Deviled eggs With Bacon & Cheddar

  • Deviled Eggs With Smoked Okra
  • Gourmet Deviled Eggs
  • Mix & Match Deviled Egg Stuffings
  •  
    Plus:

  • How To Make Perfect Hard Cooked Eggs
  •  
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DEVILED EGGS & STUFFED EGGS

    Stuffed eggs were a popular dish as far back as the Roman Empire. There are many different recipes for stuffed eggs through the centuries, but the term “deviled eggs” originated in 18th-century England.

    “Deviled” refers to the use of hot spices or condiments in a recipe—paprika, mustard, hot sauce, horseradish, chiles, etc.

    So all deviled eggs are stuffed eggs, but only stuffed eggs with hot spice are deviled eggs.

     

    BOOK: D’LISH DEVILED EGGS

    For 50 new and creative deviled egg recipes, take a look at D’Lish Deviled Eggs: A Collection of Recipes from Creative to Classic. Here’s a recipe from the book, which fuses ingredients from the California Roll:

    RECIPE: CALIFORNIA ROLL DEVILED EGGS

  • 1 dozen hard-cooked eggs
  •  
    Filling

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon wasabi paste (or 1 tablespoon wasabi powder mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Garnish

  • 2 ounces crabmeat (1/3 to 1/2 cup)
  • 24 small cucumber fans
  •  

    How about 50 new deviled egg recipes? Photo courtesy Andrews McNeel Publishing.

  • Sesame seed-seaweed sprinkle (nori komi furikake*)
  • 2 tablespoons fish roe (tobiko)
  •  
    *This mixture of crumbled nori sheets and toasted sesame seeds has many other uses. It is delicious on rice and potatoes, with eggs, even in plain Greek yogurt.

     
    Preparation

    1. HALVE the eggs lengthwise and transfer the yolks to a small bowl. Set the egg white halves on a platter, cover and refrigerate.

    2. MASH the avocado well in a mixing bowl with a fork. Add the yolks and mash to a smooth consistency. Add the mayonnaise, wasabi paste and salt and mix until smooth. Taste and season accordingly.

    3. SPOON mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain or large star tip, then pipe the mixture evenly into the egg white halves. Or fill the eggs with a spoon, dividing evenly.

    4. TOP each egg half with a little crabmeat, a cucumber fan, a sprinkle of furikake and about 1/4 teaspoon of fish roe.

      

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