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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 Condiments

TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Steak Sauce Or Marinade

Make your own marinade and steak sauce.
Photo courtesy Double R Ranch.

 

So many recipes tell you to marinate meat by pouring a bottle of Italian salad dressing over it.

That’s one type of cooking, but we prefer the superior flavors of from-scratch cooking, using the best ingredients. Whether you’re making a marinade or anything else, the finest flavors come from fresh ingredients, including herbs.

Here’s a delicious marinade and steak sauce from a leading provider of quality beef, Double R Ranch. This family of ranchers wouldn’t dream of covering their fine steaks in bottled dressing.

They like a chimichurri sauce (a spicy parsley vinaigrette) as a steak sauce and a marinade—a classic Argentinian preparation from country of avid beef eaters.

 

STEAK SAUCE & MARINADE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oregano, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons shallots or onions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE parsley, oregano, garlic and shallots in a food processor. Pulse until chopped but not puréed.

    2. ADD vinegar, mustard and lemon juice to the herb mixture. Process on low while gradually adding the olive oil.

    3. ADD salt and pepper to taste and pulse again. Store a sealable container. When ready to prepare the meat…

    4. RINSE the steak briefly and pat try. Place the steak in a glass baking dish or other nonreactive shallow pan and cover with the marinade. Turn the steak to coat all sides and marinate for 30 minutes or longer. If you’re marinating for more than 30 minutes, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and turn the meat every two hours.

     

    Even a hungry cowboy might have trouble finishing these large cowboy steaks. Photo courtesy Double R Ranch.

     
    NOTE that cowboy steak, ribeye and other highly-marbled meats absorb marinade more quickly than less marbled cuts, so a two-hour marinade may do the trick.

    5. REMOVE the steak from the marinade when you’re ready to grill; do not reuse the marinade because it can collect bacteria.
     
    WHAT IS A COWBOY STEAK?

    Called a cowboy chop by Double R Ranch (it looks like an enormous chop), the cowboy steak is an impressive piece of meat.

    It’s a bone-in ribeye steak with a frenched rib bone. This “raw bone” feature and the fact that the cut is generally around two pounds of meat, makes it big enough for the hungriest cowboy—or enables two people to share.

    If you’d like to try a cowboy steak—or send one to Dad as a Father’s Day gift—Double R Ranch Co. is offering 10% off all cowboy chop purchases placed by June 11. To qualify for discount, all orders must be placed by 12 p.m. (EDT) on June 11 for shipment no later than June 12, 2013. Enter promo code “DRRDAD13” at checkout.

    SEE ALL THE CUTS OF BEEF IN OUR DELECTABLE BEEF GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gourmet Condiments

    Today’s tip comes from McCormick, and it illustrates how easy it is to make gourmet condiments in your kitchen. Just open the bottle of mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup and add herbs and spices.

    Use the recipes below on burgers, grilled chicken, hot dogs and brats, sandwiches/wraps and anything requiring some condiment verve.

    Just combine the ingredients and whisk thoroughly to blend. Letting them sit in the fridge for a half hour or longer allows the flavors to meld.

    GOURMET MAYONNAISE RECIPES

  • Southwest Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo, 1-2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Smokehouse Maple Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo, 1 teaspoon Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
  • Lemony Herb Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo, 1 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  •  

    We mixed ketchup with salsa: What a great idea! Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

  • Customize Your Own Mayo: 1/2 cup mayo plus 1/2 teaspoon of two of your favorite herbs and/or spices; adjust seasonings to taste
  •  
    GOURMET MUSTARD RECIPES

  • Honey Mustard: 1/2 cup mayo, 2 tablespoons ground mustard, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon water (NOTE: This is McCormick’s recipe; we simply blend honey into Dijon mustard)
  • Herbed Mustard: 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • Worcestershire Pub Mustard: 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon McCormick Grill Mates Worcestershire Pub burger seasoning
  • Customize Your Own Mustard: 1/2 cup mustard plus 1/2 teaspoon of two of your favorite herbs and/or spices; adjust seasonings to taste
  •  

    We mixed mustard with sauerkraut to create a
    tangy, textured mustard for pork chops. Photo
    courtesy National Pork Board.

     

    GOURMET KETCHUP RECIPES

  • Asian Spiced Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Cajun Spiced Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon McCormick Perfect Pinch Cajun Seasoning
  • Curry Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • Horseradish Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, optional 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Customize Your Own Ketchup: 1 cup ketchup plus a total of 2 teaspoons of your your favorite herbs and/or spices; adjust seasonings to taste
  •  

    FOOD 101: CONDIMENTS

    A condiment is a food product used add flavor to another food. Hot sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, salad dressing, relish, syrups and vinegar, among many others, are condiments.

    The word is first found in print in late Middle English, in the period of 1400–1450, derived from Middle French. The French took it from the Latin condimentum, meaning spice, seasoning or salt, and the verb condire, to preserve, pickle or season.

    There is disagreement as to what constitutes a condiment. Some say that salt and spices are condiments; others say that a condiment must be more complicated and moist—i.e, with some liquid in its make-up.

    Formal sauces belong in the sauce category; they are not condiments. Thus, while a mayonnaise dip for asparagus is a condiment, hollandaise sauce on the asparagus is not.

    Relish is a condiment; pickles are not (they’re vegetables, which happen to be preserved). If you‘re not sure if something is a condiment or belongs in another category, bring the debate to the dinner table. You’ll have fun working it out.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Rabbit’s Garlic

    Rabbit’s Garlic is pickled garlic in five
    flavors, used here a canapé garnish, in
    hummus-carrot and mozzarella-tomato
    combinations. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    We like garlic, but wouldn’t consider ourselves to be garlic lovers. Yet, we love Rabbit’s Garlic. The picked garlic is made in five flavors, each of which can be served at every meal from breakfast to dinner and snacks. We’re giving jars as Father’s Day gifts.

    The creator is a nurse named Bunny, called Rabbit by her husband. She had long been preserving fruits, meats and vegetables for family and friends until she was convinced to go commercial. Try her pickled garlic, and you’ll be glad she did!

    When Bunny started to add garlic cloves to season jars of dilly beans, everyone started to fight over the garlic cloves. Thus the first flavor of pickled garlic was born: Spicy Dill. The line now includes:

  • Chipotle Pickled Garlic
  • Habanero Pickled Garlic
  • Habanero Dill Pickled Garlic
  • Smoke Pickled Garlic
  • Spicy Dill Pickled Garlic
  • You’ll find many ways to use these delicious pickled garlic cloves. For starters:

     

     

  • Beer: Pop a clove into the bottle.
  • Bloody Mary or Martini: The Spicy Dill flavor is great as a Bloody Mary or Martini garnish.
  • Bruschetta: Mash the garlic cloves and spread on toasted bread.
  • Eggs: In omelets and scrambles, in deviled eggs and as a garnish.
  • Garlic Butter/Garlic Bread: Mash the garlic cloves with softened butter to spread on bread; toast under the broiler.
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes: The smoke flavor is great for this. Mix sliced and smashed cloves into the mashed potatoes.
  • Salads: Add cut up cloves to egg, chicken, green, potato, macaroni, tuna and other salads.
  • Snack and Relish: Straight from the jar, or serve them like pickles or olives as a snack. A reason to revive the relish tray!
  •  

    Garlic brittle: really delicious! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Marinade: Mash onto steaks and chops during grilling or add to the marinade for 1-2 hrs before cooking.
  • Meat Seasoning: Cut slits in the side of beef or pork roasts before cooking. The flavor is subtle but well worth trying.
  • Pasta Sauce: Add to your favorite pasta sauces, or toss with the pasta.
  • Sandwiches & Burgers: A memorable garnish.
  •  
    Bunny also sent us some garlic brittle: We tasted it gingerly, now we’re addicted!

    Get yours at RabbitsPickledGarlic.com.

      

    Comments

    FATHER’S DAY GIFT: Hot Sauce From Bumblefoot

    These hot sauces rock. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Looking for something special for Dad? If he’s a Guns n’ Roses fan, how about a line of hot sauces recently launched by the band’s lead guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal?

    The guitarist partnered with the CaJohns Fiery Foods, an Ohio-based hot sauce manufacturer, to create the Bumblefoot line of condiments.

    There are mild, medium and hot-hot-hot sauces, several of which won ZestFest awards in different categories (though we’re not thrilled that the manufacturer uses high fructose corn syrup in the recipes). For gifting, you can’t beat the label designs and the saucy names:

  • BUMBLICIOUS! Heat level: Mild. Sweet and savory cherries, bourbon and chipotle with a subtle kick. Suggested for chips, ribs, wings. A 1st Place Winner at ZestFest Awards 2013.
  • BUMBLEF**KED. Heat level: Hot. Tropical fruit and ginger, followed by a “sledgehammer” of caffeine and ginseng. “A high-energy heart-pounder for ‘pain junkies’ like me,” says Bumblefoot.
  •  

  • NORMAL. Heat level: Mild. Jalapeño, tomatoes and mediterranean herbs in what emulates a delicious salsa purée. A 1st Place Winner at ZestFest Awards 2013.
  • ABNORMAL. Heat level: Hot. Thermonuclear heat with a Caribbean kick: tamarind and island spices, bhut jolokia chiles. “Long-lasting taste and brutality,” says Bumblefoot, “Not for beginners.” A 1st Place Winner at ZestFest Awards 2013.
  • UNCOOL. Heat level: Medium. A twist of curry, cumin and citrus, inspired by Bumblefoot’s tours of the Far East.
  • BUMBLEBABE. Heat level: Mild. “A hot sauce with women’s pleasure in mind,” says Bumblefoot, “chocolate & cherry, indulgent and edgy, sweet and fiery, like the rocker ladies that inspired it.”
  •  
    Order them at Bumblefoot.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Beer Barbecue Sauce

    Add beer to your homemade barbecue sauce. Photo by EasyBuy4U | IST.

     

    Spell it barbecue, barbeque or BBQ: May is National Barbecue Month.

    Here’s a delicious homemade beer barbecue sauce from Samuel Adams. You don’t have to be a beer drinker to enjoy it: The malt and hops provide a subtle lift in flavor and complexity that everyone can appreciate.

    BEER BARBECUE SAUCE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 bottle Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tbsp black pepper
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT all ingredients in a large sauce pan; stir and cover.

    2. REDUCE by half and simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

    3. STRAIN and serve with your favorite grilled meat or poultry.
     
    BEER VARIATIONS

    You don’t have to use lager; any beer you have on hand will work well, although a more mild wheat beer will have a different impact on the sauce than a hoppy IPA.

    Personally, we’re in the IPA camp. If you barbecue a lot, try different types of beer in the sauce. You may find that what you like to cook with differs from what you like to drink.

     

    Add a bottle to the sauce, then drink the rest with your barbecue. Scattered in front pf the beer are the barley and hops used to make it. Photo courtesy Samuel Adams.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ketchup

    A while ago, we tasted 32 different tomato ketchups to find “the best” (here are the ketchup reviews).

    Many of these were small, artisanal brands and more pricey than supermarket ketchup. But one of the top winners, Muir Glen, is widely available (at most stores that sell natural and organic foods; we get it at Whole Foods), one of the least expensive, and is both organic and kosher.

    But how about making ketchup at home, just as you make salad dressing. It’s just as easy. There are five basic ingredients: tomato paste and purée, vinegar, sweetener and seasonings.

    It’s fun to make ketchup. You can cut back on salt, avoid high fructose corn syrup and reduce the sweeteners in general, while adding favorite spices.

    WHAT’S IN COMMERCIAL KETCHUP?

    Heinz Ketchup
    contains tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavors.

     

    Homemade ketchup is a worthy match for a top-quality hot dog. Photo of Fearless Franks courtesy Niman Ranch.

     

    The ingredients are pretty much the same for Hunt’s Ketchup: tomato concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, corn syrup, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and natural flavors.

    Del Monte Ketchup uses regular con syrup instead of HFCS. Otherwise, the list looks familiar: tomato concentrate, corn syrup, distilled vinegar, salt, natural flavorings, onion powder, spice and garlic powder.

    These ketchups tend to deliver sweetness first, then tomato flavor, and not much else. You can greatly improve the flavor of homemade ketchup by using:

     

    Serve waffle fries with your homemade
    ketchup. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato
    Commission.

     
  • Better Vinegar. Mass-produced ketchups use distilled white vinegar. Cider vinegar makes ketchup taste so much better.
  • Better Sweetener. Instead of HFCS or the more benign corn syrup, both of which deliver bland sweetness, use flavorful brown sugar, honey or maple syrup. Or cut calories and lower the glycemic index with agave or a non-caloric sweetener like stevia or aspartame.
  • Favorite Spices. Add chilies, hot sauce, pepper and other spices; we love curry ketchup. Add them in small amounts, letting the spices meld; taste before adding more. You also get to use real onion instead of onion powder.
     
    HOMEMADE KETCHUP RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in purée
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar or substitute*
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Other seasonings of choice
  •  
    *If you are using a different sweetener, the proportions may be different. Add a smaller amount and adjust to taste.

    Preparation

    1. PURÉE tomatoes and liquid until smooth.

    2. COOK onion in olive oil over moderate heat, stirring until softened (about 8 minutes). Add puréed tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, salt and other seasonings.

    3. SIMMER, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 1 hour. Stir more frequently toward end of cooking to prevent scorching.

    4. PURÉE ketchup in 2 batches until smooth. Chill, covered, at least 2 hours for flavors to develop. Adjust seasonings.

    Continue to work on the recipe, switching the proportions of vinegar, sweetener and spices, until you define your signature recipe. Then, don’t give it out: It’s your secret.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Barbecue Sauce Secrets Revealed

    It’s easy to make your own barbecue sauce. Photo by Eddie Berman | IST.

     

    If you want a balsamic vinaigrette, mix two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with three tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. It’s that simple: You don’t have to spend $5.00 on a bottle of salad dressing.

    If you want barbecue chicken, mix up ketchup, chili powder, garlic powder, mustard, onion powder, paprika, salt, sugar and any other favorite spices (allspice, chipotle, cinnamon, thyme, mace). It’s that simple; you don’t have to spend $5.00 on a bottle of barbecue sauce.

    Here’s the easy recipe from LearntoCook.com, a website dedicated to teaching families the basics of cooking.

    When you make your own barbecue sauce, you avoid ingredients like added high fructose corn syrup and extra salt. To avoid all HFCS, buy an organic ketchup or a natural ketchup like Muir Glen; the big brands tend to be loaded with HFCS. See our review of the best ketchup brands.

    BARBECUE CHICKEN RECIPE

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 6 chicken thighs (or any parts)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • BBQ seasoning to taste (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ounce onion, small dice
  • 1 clove garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Optional: ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. RINSE chicken parts and trim any excess fat. Pat dry with a paper towel.

    3. COAT each piece with the BBQ seasoning mix and reserve.

    4. HEAT the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan until a medium to high heat is reached. Sear chicken on all sides for even browning. Reserve in a baking pan.

    5. Sweat the onions and garlic, using a little of the oil in the sauté pan.

    6. ADD the ketchup, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne to the sauté pan. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

    7. LADLE the liquid mixture over the chicken, making sure to coat each piece.

    Serve with potato salad, fresh carrots and celery sticks.

     

    BARBECUE SEASONING MIX RECIPE

  • 6 tablespoons salt
  • 6 tablespoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons dark chili powder
  • 12 tablespoons paprika
  • 6 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 12 tablespoons granulated sugar (use less if you like things less sweet)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMINE all ingredients thoroughly.

    2. STORE in jar with tight fitting lid.

     

    Barbecue seasoning. Photo courtesy Savory Spice Shop.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Aïoli

    Store-bought or homemade, aïoli, garlic
    mayonnaise, is a treat. Photo by Viktor |
    Fotolia.

     

    Last week we published easy asparagus recipes, suggesting an aïoli dip (more formally, sauce aïoli, which is garlic mayonnaise). Then we realized that we’d never published an aïoli recipe. Here, we remedy the situation.

    First, the word is pronounced eye-OH-lee from the French word for garlic, ail (pronounced EYE).

    Second, you can buy prepared aïoli, although it may be hard to find outside of specialty food markets. Our favorite brand is the Restaurant Lulu Aïoli, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week (our review).

    This recipe uses the classic technique of a mortar and pestle. If you want to cut corners, you can use a blender (see footnote*); but Julia Child advised against it. The metal blades create bitterness in the garlic and the consistency isn’t as heavy and correct.

    RECIPE FOR AÏOLI (GARLIC MAYONNAISE)
    Ingredients For 2 Cups Of Sauce

  • 1 (1/2-inch thick) slice white bread, crust removed (stale bread can be used)
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 4-8 large garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature†
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cups good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BREAK the bread into pieces. Place in a mortar or small, heavy bowl and cover with vinegar; set aside for 5-10 minutes until bread is soft and pulpy. Twist the bread into a ball to extract liquid (you can squeeze it in a cloth or paper towel).

    2. PLACE bread and garlic cloves into mortar and pound with a pestle for 5 minutes or longer, until you have a very smooth paste. Alternative blender instructions are in the footnote* below.

    3. ADD the egg yolk and salt, and pound until the mixture is thick and sticky.

    4. ADD the olive oil drop by drop, pounding and blending. When the sauce has thickened to the consistency of sour cream, you can trade the pestle for a wire whisk and add the oil more quickly. You have the right consistency when the sauce should is like thick sour cream and holds its shape with a spoon. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. (If the sauce is too thick for your taste, thin with boiling water or fish stock.)

    TIP: Should the sauce curdle, here’s the remedy: Warm a bowl in the microwave. Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon or other prepared mustard and 1 tablespoon of the aïoli. Whisk until blended and thickened. Add the remaining aïoli a couple of teaspoons at a time, blending thoroughly before adding more.

    *Place all the ingredients except olive oil into the bowl of a food processor and purée into a paste. Then, with the processor running, slowly pour the oil through the feed tube and process until the sauce is the consistency of thick sour cream.

    †For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served, use shell eggs that have been treated to destroy salmonella by pasteurization (or another approved method).

     

    Aïoli can be varied with different flavors, from basil (pesto aïoli) and cilantro to red pepper, spicy, tomato and truffle. As an egg and oil based sauce, aïoli can take on just about any flavors.

    Check out our favorite flavored mayonnaise, from bacon and chipotle to wasabi, and look for the wonderful flavored mayos from The Ojai Cook.

    WAYS TO SERVE AIOLI SAUCE

    Aïoli can be used instead of mayonnaise anywhere, from canapés to sandwiches and potato salad. Here are the classic French uses:

  • With escargots
  • With fish and seafood: boiled fish (in France, cod and aioli are a popular pair), bourride (Provençal fish soup), and in America, with broiled fish and seafood, crab cakes and shrimp cocktail
  • Spread on hard-cooked eggs
  • On vegetables, especially boiled potatoes and string beans
  • As a substitute for butter, oil or vinaigrette
  •  

    For a Provençal twist on artichokes, steam them and dip them in aïoli instead of melted butter or vinaigrette. Photo courtesy AnnieGlass.

     
    For a delightful side, make:

    RECIPE: FINGERLING POTATOES WITH AIOLI

    Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, unpeeled, cleaned and patted dry
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh chives for garnish, minced
  • Ground pepper to taste
  •  

    1. PLACE the potatoes in a large saucepan with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.

    2. SIMMER uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until just tender. Drain in a colander and place a kitchen towel on top, allowing the potatoes to steam for 5 to 10 minutes.

    3. SLICE the potatoes in half and place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chives. Serve the aïoli in a ramekin for spreading or dipping.
     
     
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE VEGETABLE RECIPES.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Onion Crunch, The New Condiment Sensation

    From hot dogs to filet mignon, Onion Crunch
    adds something special to every dish it
    garnishes. Photo courtesy Loeb’s Onion
    Crunch.

     

    It‘s not often that a new condiment appears. Generally, like salsa and wasabi, it enters our cuisine due to the popularity of a foreign cuisine in the U.S.

    In fact, the inspiration for Onion Crunch comes from Scandinavia. The crisp, crunchy bits of fried onions can be used as an ingredient or garnish with just about any savory dish. It’s like shaking fried onion rings on your food, whenever you like.

    And shake them we do: on eggs, hot dogs and burgers, mac and cheese, potatoes, salad and soup. And that’s just for starters.

    If you love onions, read the full review.

    Then, load up on thes wonderful crunchy onion bits.

    FIND MORE GOURMET CONDIMENTS.

     

      

    Comments

    EVENT: Best Hot Sauces & The NYC Hot Sauce Expo

    It’s the first annual New York City Hot Sauce
    Expo! Image courtesy Expo.

     

    Our palate is so sensitive that a hot chile will wipe it out for 45 minutes. But three members of THE NIBBLE team leaped at the opportunity to attended a media preview for the first annual New York City Hot Sauce Expo. If you’re a hot sauce fan, get thee to East River State Park in the trendy Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the weekend of April 20th and 21st. General admission tickets are $10.00; for $100.00 you can be a VIP.

    An expo just for hot sauce? “Hot sauce production has been rated one of the 10 fastest-growing industries in the U.S.,” say the event organizers. “The trend shows no sign of cooling off.”

    If two days of fiery food is your idea of the ultimate endorphin rush, the weekend promises to be packed with live music, fire breathers, spicy food vendors, eating challenges and contests, adult beverages and the best hot sauce producers in North America.

    Awards will be presented on Saturday afternoon in categories that include Chipotle, Fruit Based, Fruit Based Hot, Habanero, Jalapeño, Louisiana Style, Novelty Hot Sauce, People’s Choice, Pepper Blend, Scorpion and a category we always appreciate, Best Label Artwork.

     

    We grew up in a household that used hot sauce for Bloody Marys. Everything else was flavored with fresh-cracked pepper and fresh herbs. True hot sauce fans shake the condiment on just about everything, from grilled cheese and other sandwiches, eggs, fried foods, French fries and hash browns, meat loaf, ribs, soups and anything else you can think of, including, of course, chili and Tex-Mex cuisine.

    Dave Pace, founder of Pace Foods, who began to manufacture hot sauce in Texas in 1947, would even shake hot sauce into his coffee. Whether he added sugar and milk as well, we don’t know. But we do know people who sprinkle hot sauce on their oatmeal and ice cream. (More about hot sauce.)

     

    Leah Hansen was one of THE NIBBLE writers who tasted her way through the media preview. “It was so much fun, and the hot sauces so terrific, that I’m going to attend the two-day Expo,” she reports.

    Here are the favorites of all she tried. Even if you can’t get to the Expo, you can order the sauces online.

    1. NYC Hot Sauce Co. A traditional red hot sauce with more depth of fruit flavor (from the flesh of the chiles) than the large commercial hot sauce brands. It‘s heavy on the vinegar flavor in a good way, and went really well on the mini grilled cheese sandwiches served with it. I loved the squeeze bottle too; it made it easy to squirt as much sauce you want. Ingredients: habanero peppers, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, fresh squeezed lime juice and creole seasonings. More about NYC Hot Sauce Co.

     

    The favorite in THE NIBBLE’s tasting, from locally grown chiles. Photo courtesy NYC Hot Sauce Co..

     
    2. High River Sauces ”Rogue.” This company makes a line of attractively-packaged and named hot sauces, including Grapes Of Wrath, Hellacious and Tears Of The Sun (the fourth favorite—see below). We all liked Rogue: very hot, but with a nice depth of flavor. It was a third-place winner of the 2013 World Championship Golden Chile Award in the Pepper Blend category. The ingredients include moruga scorpion, jolokia and red serrano chiles; blood oranges, apples and pears; apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, lime juice, garlic and ginger. More about High River Sauces.

    3. Big Fat’s 7 to 8. Big Fats makes an impressive array of hot sauces, all with number names. This super-hot sauce started out with a pleasant, subtle sweetness and a good depth of flavor with a big burst of citrus, quickly swirling into a vortex of spices. I really like the Trinidad 7 Pot Peppers used (they appeared in a few sauces, one of the super-hot chiles that have yet to enter commercial production). It takes a whole minute to hit you, but then the heat is pretty extreme and stays with you for a good 20 minutes. Ingredients: orange juice concentrate, onion, water, Trinidad 7 pot peppers, pineapple concentrate, garlic, pomegranate molasses, sea salt, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and white pepper. Learn more at BigFatsHotSauce.

    4. High River Sauces “Tears of the Sun.” The different fruit ingredients make this my favorite of the sweeter sauces. It’s not too sweet, with pretty high heat and a lingering aftertaste. How it got its name: “Your taste buds are greeted by the sweetness,” says the manufacturer; then the heat rises like the sun on a hot summer day.” Ingredients: habanero peppers, peaches, papaya, pineapple, mango, cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, red pepper, salt and garlic. More about High River Sauces.

    DO YOU KNOW YOUR CHILES (PEPPERS)?

    See the different types of chiles in our Chile Glossary.

    What’s the deal with “chiles” versus “peppers?” Chile is the correct word, alternatively spelled chili and chilli; chilli is the original spelling in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.

    When one of Columbus’ crew first tasted a chile in the Caribbean Islands, he likened the heat to the black pepper known in Europe. Hence, chilli became pepper, or chile/chili/chilli pepper.

    To us purists, pepper should only refer to Piper nigrum, the peppercorn, which has no relationship to the chile plant. Capsicum is the genus for chiles, fruits that, when cut in half, have a white spine and seeds that contains the heat (or, in the case of bell peppers, no heat at all). For us, chile/chili/chilli is the way to go.

      

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