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Archive for Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Cheeses

Yellow Tomato Caprese Salad

Arty Caprese Salad

Watermelon Caprese Salad

[1] Yellow tomato Caprese Salad (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers | FB. [2] Artistic Caprese Salad (photo courtesy Great Performances | FB). [3] Watermelon Caprese Salad. You can also use mango and other stone fruits (photo courtesy Watermelon.org).

 

On the hot days of summer, lighten up on your cheeses. Switch the heavier blues, cheddars and washed rind cheeses for delicate, creamy ones.

Even fresh year-round cheeses like chèvre, feta, mozzarella and ricotta taste better in the summer.

Here’s the 411 on cheese:

  • Cheeses are seasonal based on the feed and milk availability. Goats and sheep, for example, cease producing milk over the winter, when they have bred, until they give birth.in spring.
  • With modern freezing techniques to preserve the curds, goat’s and sheep’s milk curds, previously available only in spring when the animals give birth, are available year-round.
  • In the spring and summer, the animals from artisan cheesemakers graze in the field, eating grass and clover. The seasonal diet gives more dimension to their milk, with floral and grassy notes.
  • Fresh curds + richer milk = the best cheese of the year.
  •  
    No one will stop you from getting your fill of aged Gouda, Roquefort or Stilton, but we prefer to save them for the cooler months.

    There are many semisoft, semihard and hard cheeses at peak for summer. Your cheesemonger can guide you to the best semi-hard and hard summer cheeses in the store. On the soft, fresh side, here are our favorite widely-available cheeses:
     
    FOUR FAVORITE SUMMER CHEESES

    All pair with burgers, pizza, green salads and fruit salads.

    Mozzarella

    Pay a bit more for artisan mozzarella. As opposed to rubbery factory mozzarella, it’s freshly made, and has a delightfully different texture from the standard “pizza mozzarella.”

    Pair it with its soul mates, fresh basil and summer tomatoes; then:

  • Tuck it into omelets.
  • Make grilled cheese sandwiches or panini.
  • Toss with pasta and salads (ciliegine and perlini, bite-size mozzarella balls, work better here).
  • For appetizers and the summer “cheese course,” combine ciliegine with cherry tomatoes and other vegetables, cubed meats or rolled proscuitto. Use skewers or an artistic plating.
  • For dessert, do the same with fruit.
  •  
    And get your fill of perhaps the most famous summer mozzarella dish, Caprese Salad.

  • You can substitute mango, stone fruit or watermelon for the the tomatoes.
  • You can substitute feta, goat cheese, ricotta, even tofu for the mozzarella.
  •  
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: basil.

    Feta

    Feta—crumbled, cubed or sliced—pairs with almost every summer fruit and vegetable. Tip: Some feta is very salty. Go to the cheese counter and ask to taste it first, or get a recommendation for a packaged brand with less salt.

  • In omelets.
  • In Watermelon-Feta Salad or crumbled over green salad.
  • On skewers—appetizer and dessert.
  • With grilled lamb, pork or poultry (turn it into a side with good olive oil, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs).
  • On burgers: beef, turkey and especially lamb.
  • On pizza, anchovies, capers, olives and onion slices.
  •  
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: cilantro or dill.

     

    Fresh Goat Cheese

    Fresh goat cheese is soft and creamy, with a bit of tang. Along with ricotta, it spreads easily on bread.

    As with mozzarella, fresh goat cheese loves summer tomatoes. Try it:

  • On crusty baguette, with tomatoes or grilled vegetables.
  • In omelets.
  • With green salads (slice a log into rounds and place on top of the greens.
  • Ditto with fruit salads or a fresh fruit plate.
  •  
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: basil or mint.
     
    Ricotta

    Soft and creamy ricotta is can be called “Italian cottage cheese,” and can be used in the same ways.

    You can mix in any seasonings and use the flavored cheese in even more ways. Ricotta loves a drizzle of honey.

  • Spread on toast and bagels, with optional honey or berries.
  • DIY ricotta bowls for breakfast or dessert (see photo #4).
  • Substitute for mozzarella in a Caprese Salad.
  • Pair with fresh fruit and optional yogurt.
  • Sweeten for cookie sandwiches or dips.
  • Whip with sweetener and a touch of cinnamon for “cannoli cream.”
  • Use the cannoli cream instead of whipped cream to top fruit, puddings and other desserts.
  •  
    Best Fresh Herb Pairing: chives.
     
    HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CHEESE?

    Test your knowledge—or build it up—with our Cheese Glossary: the different types of cheese, categories, techniques, etc.

     

    Ricotta Caprese Salad

    Ricotta Toppings

    [1] Top a salad with a spoonful or two of plain or flavored ricotta (photo courtesy Del Posto | NYC). [2] DIY ricotta bowls are customized to whatever you want: fruit, seeds, even chocolate (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lactaid Ice Cream

    July is National Ice Cream Month, a time for celebration among ice cream lovers. But not for every one of us.

    According to research studies, 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Some have been that way since childhood; some lose the ability to digest lactose as adults.

    Says HealthDay.com, “The condition is so common—and so natural—that some doctors don’t even like to call lactose intolerance a disorder.

    But that’s no comfort to anyone who can no longer have cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt and even butter, including butter-rich foods such as buttercream frosting and caramels.

    Lactose intplerance cuts across ancestral lines, creating gastrointestinal problems in:

  • 70% of African Americans
  • 90% of Asian Americans
  • 53% of Mexican Americans
  • 74% of Native Americans
  • 20% of Caucasians, however…
  •  
    …people of Arab, Greek, Hispanic, Italian and Jewish ancestry have a much higher incidence than other groups.
     
    LACTOSE-FREE ICE CREAM FROM LACTAID

    Ice cream lovers: Eat all of the frozen delight you want, without incurring the distressing symptoms of lactose intolerance.

    (Second thought, eating too much could give you an ice cream headache or make your inner and outer mouth feel like Alaska in the winter.)

    Lactaid Ice Cream, made by Hood, is a delicious line. And what a choice:

    The Basics

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
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    The Mix-Ins

  • Butter Pecan
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  •  
    The New & Glorious

  • Berry Chocolate Crumble
  • Salted Caramel Chip
  •    

    Ice Cream Lactose Intolerant

    Lactaid Ice Cream

    [1] Lactaid has delicious specialty flavors, like Berry Crumble and Salted Caramel Chip (photo courtesy NotQuiteSusie.com). [2] Chocolate and vanilla Lactaid (photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).

     

    The magic is simply that the brand adds lactase, a natural enzyme that is no longer produced by the stomach of lactose-intolerant people. It’s the same ingredient as in Lactose supplement pills. It helps break down the lactose so that dairy products are easily digested.

    Lactase has no impact on taste or texture. Unless they saw the carton, no one would know the products are lactose-free.
     
    Now…

    Have an ice cream cone, a shake or a sundae!

    Make ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cake!

    Eat ice cream straight from the carton!

    But there’s more!

     

    Lactose Free Sour Cream

    Lactose Free Cream Cheese

    [1] (photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com). [2] Photo courtesy MyLilikoiKitchen.com).

     

    MORE LACTOSE-FREE DAIRY FOODS

    From Lactaid

    Lactaid also makes lactose-free milk (0%, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate), low fat cottage cheese, and holiday nog.
     
    From Green Valley Organics

    Green Valley Organics adds still more lactose-free dairy options:

  • Cream cheese
  • Kefir
  • Lowfat and whole-milk yogurt
  • Sour cream
  •  
    Use the store locator on the home page to find a retailer near you.

    Might we add: No one would know all these products are lactose free.
     
    BOTH LACTAID & GREEN VALLEY PRODUCTS ARE DEE-LICIOUS.
     
    LIKE CHEESE?

    If you’re just mildly lactose intolerant, you may find that buffalo’s, goats’, and sheep’ milk cheeses are easier to digest than cow’s milk.

    If you’re substantially lactose intolerant, even cheeses with only 2% lactose can upset your stomach. The only 100% lactose-free cheese is Cheddar.

    Fortunately, it’s the most popular cheese in the U.S.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: SunGold Kiwi From Zespri

    You may think of kiwifruit as green, but in the wild they are found in red and yellow as well.

    In the late 1970s, New Zealand kiwifruit growers began experimenting with the breeding of a golden kiwifruit (in the U.S., we call it “kiwi” for short).

    In 1992, Zespri—the world leader in premium quality kiwifruit—selected one offspring plant from the breeding stock to create the the golden-fleshed berry* now known as Zespri© SunGold© Kiwifruit. It is available at supermarkets nationwide from May through October.

    SunGold is sweeter than a green kiwi, and tastes like a cross between a mango and a strawberry with just a hint of tanginess. We adore it.

    NOTE that SunGold is a proprietary strain from Zespri. You may find other golden kiwifruit; we can’t vouch for it. Look for the Zespri label.
     
    ENJOY KIWI ANYTIME

    Like regular kiwi, SunGold offers healthy ammounts of vitamins C and E, potassium. Its sunny yellow sweetness boosts the nutrition and color on the plate.

    You can simply scoop it and eat it with a spoon, or peel it for just about any fruit recipe. A few examples:

  • Breakfast: with cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt, smoothies
  • Lunch: green salad, garnish for egg, chicken or tuna salad, salsa, sliced on sandwiches (especially ham or turkey)
  • Dinner: cocktails and mocktails, fruit soup, garnishes, sides
  • Dessert: compote, fruit salad, garnishes, ice cream and sorbet, pies and tarts, pudding
  •  
    HOW TO RIPEN KIWIFRUIT

    Golden kiwi is usually ready to eat when you buy it. It should feel slightly soft to the touch, like a ripe peach. Once ripe, it should be stored in the refrigerator (the same for green kiwi).

    Green kiwi may be a bit firm when you buy it, and will usually ripen at in three to five days at room temperature. The firmer the fruit, the more tart it will taste.

       

    Sungold Kiwi

    SunGold Kiiwi

    [1] SunGold kiwifruit have a smooth skin, not fuzzy like green kiwi. [2] All you need is a spoon (photos courtesy Zespri).

     
    To speed up the ripening process, place kiwis (or any fruit) in a closed paper bag on the counter along with an apple or banana. Fruits like apples and bananas produce natural ethylene gas, which accelerates ripening.

    By the same token, any ripe fruit should be stored away from ethylene-producing fruits—never in the same produce drawer. If you want to store the fruit for longer than a few days, keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge.
     
    _____________________
    *Yes, kiwi is a very large berry. It grows on a vine.

     

    Kiwi Cocktail

    Baked Brie With Kiwi

    [1] Kiwi-banana cocktail. [2] Baked Brie with kiwi compote (photos courtesy Zespri).

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: KIWI-BANANA—TINI

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 Zespri SunGold kiwi, peeled† and chopped
  • 1 ounce banana rum
  • 1 ounce Bärenjäger or other honey liqueur‡
  • 1-1/2 ounces heavy cream
  • 1/2 ounce Licor 43 or other vanilla liqueur**
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: a kiwi wheel, lime wheel or other garnish of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the kiwi and rum in a shaker. Add the Bärenjäger and shake with ice. Strain into a Martini glass.

    2. PLACE the cream and Liquor 43 in a shaker. Shake for 30 seconds until frothy.

    3. PLACE a teaspoon (flatware) against the inside edge of a Martini glass, with the well facing the glass. Slowly pour the cream mixture over back of spoon onto the kiwi mixture, creating a layered effect. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.
     
    _____________________
    †A serrated peeler works best for peeling kiwifruit.

    ‡You can substitute another honey liqueur and can also easily make your own honey liqueur.

    **Licor 43 is made from citrus and other fruit juices, flavored with vanilla, herbs and spices. You can substitute another vanilla liqueur or a citrus liqueur.

     
    RECIPE #2: BAKED BRIE WITH SPICY KIWI COMPOTE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

    Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.

  • 1 Brie cheese round, about 13 ounces
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper jelly (or other pepper jelly)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Zespri green kiwi, peeled† and diced
  • 1 Zespri SunGold kiwi, peeled† and diced
  • Assorted crackers or baguette slices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350F. Unwrap the Brie; trim and discard the top rind. Place the Brie in a baking dish or pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes or until the Brie is softened and beginning to melt. Meanwhile…

    2. STIR together in a microwavable bowl the jelly, mustard and pepper. Fold in the kiwi and microwave on high power for 1-1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through heating, until hot.

    3. TRANSFER the Brie to a serving plate. Top with the kiwi compote and serve with crackers or breads.
     
     
    VISIT ZESPRIKIWI.COM FOR MANY MORE RECIPES

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Egg Molds Or Cookie Cutters For Pancakes

    Whether Dad likes pancakes or fried eggs for breakfast, make Father’s Day special: Shape his breakfast with egg/pancake molds.

    If you can’t pick up molds in time, you can use cookie cutters. Since they don’t have handles, you’ll need a spatula, kitchen tongs and dexterity to lift the cooked eggs.
     
    HOW ELSE CAN YOU USE THE MOLDS?

    We’ve molded:

  • Cheeses that fry without melting: halloumi (Greece), paneer (India), queso blanco or queso para frier (Mexico)
  • Chocolate, melted and shaped into a medallion for topping an iced cake
  • Dough (use the egg molds as cookie cutters in a pinch [the edge is not as sharp for cutting as a cookie cutter])
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Meat loaf
  • Rice or other grains
  •  
     
    WHAT WOULD YOU MOLD?

    We’d love to have a longer list of foods to shape with our egg/pancake molds.

     

    Chocolate Heart Pancakes

    Fried Egg Molds

    Top: I [heart] you, Dad (photo and recipe from The Baker Chick). Bottom: A set of molds from Neon, available on Amazon. The handles fold down for easy storage.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Soufflé Omelet With Balsamic Strawberries

    For Sunday brunch, try your hand at a fluffy Soufflé Omelet. This recipe, adapted from one by the California Strawberry Commission, has a filling of balsamic strawberries.

    Serve it with a bubbly Mimosa (recipe below).

    RECIPE: SOUFFLE OMELET WITH BALSAMIC STRAWBERRIES

    Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (about 8 ounces) fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or mint
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • Garnish: confectioners’ sugar and/or mascarpone or sour cream
  •  
    Preparation

       

    Soufflet Omelet

    A Souffle Omelet, stuffed with balsamic strawberries (photo courtesy California Strawberry Commission).

     
    1. COMBINE the strawberries, mint, vinegar and 1½ teaspoons of the granulated sugar in bowl; set aside.

    2. WHISK the egg yolks, vanilla and remaining ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar in a small bowl for 1 minute, or until slightly thickened.

    3. BEAT the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until they form soft peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold the yolk mixture into the whites until no streaks remain.

    4. MELT the butter in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the butter is sizzling add the egg mixture, spreading it into an even layer with the spatula. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the omelet is golden brown on the bottom and barely set on top.

    5. SPOON the strawberries down the center of omelet. Use the spatula to fold the omelet in half over filling.

    6. SLIDE the omelet onto a plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Add a dollop of sour cream or mascarpone as desired.

     

    Mimosa With Strawberry Recipe

    Mimosa Cocktail

    Top: You don’t need Champagne flutes to serve a Mimosa (photo courtesy DrinkSkinny.com. Bottom: Even better, a Blood Orange Mimosa (photo courtesy BakeholicMama.com).

     

    OMELETTE VS. OMELET?

    It’s the French versus British spelling. Both are correct: Omelette is is more elegant while omelet is easier to spell.

     
    RECIPE: MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    Use juice from a carton if you like, but the best Mimosa Cocktail is made from fresh-squeezed juice (juice is half the recipe, after all). Even better is fresh-squeezed blood orange juice!

    Unless you have an excess of Champagne to use up, save the money and buy a Cava or Prosecco, in the $12 to $15 range; or a Sparkling Rosé. If you don’t have Champagne flutes, use white wine glasses or a tall, slender stemless glass.

    Variations: Try a Grapefruit Mimosa substituting grapefruit juice, or a Grand Mimosa with a splash of Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur.

    Ingredients

  • Dry sparkling wine, chilled
  • Orange juice, chilled (if squeezing, plan 1 orange per drink)
  • Optional: orange liqueur
  • Optional garnish: notched strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the sparkling wine into the flute. It should comprise half of the contents.

    2. TOP the sparkling wine with orange juice, then the optional orange liqueur. The heavier weights of the juice and liqueur will travel to the bottom and self-mix.

    If you feel that mixing is necessary, give the drink half a gentle stir with a swizzle stick so you don’t break the bubbles.

    3. CUT a notch in the strawberry and set it on the rim of the glass. Serve immediately.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented by bartender Frank Meier circa 1925 at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris.

    Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar color to the drink.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. The optional addition of a small amount of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier complements the juice and gives the drink more complexity.

      

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