THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website,

Archive for Desserts

TIP OF THE DAY: Rethink Jell-O As Elegant Gélee

Jello Mold

/home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rainbow jello jellomoldmistress 230

How can you dis them? Retro-style Jell-O
molds from See the
photos below for shaping without molds.


Check online and you’ll find that more people are horrified by retro Jell-o molds than embrace them.

Yet, these gelatin works of art, that became de rigeur party fare in the 1950s, get a bad rap. Seriously, what’s wrong with different flavors of Jell-O and fruit layered in an attractive mold?

They are very tasty, thank you, and enable the cook to exercise creativity. If the media mentioned, say, that they were a favorite at the Kardashian or Brangelina household, molds and Jell-O would be flying off the shelves.

Sugar-free Diet Jell-O provides a low-calorie dessert option. And a holiday offers the opportunity to use theme colors.

Maybe ditch the brand name, Jell-O, and the generic term, gelatin, when presenting the dish. Call it something that sounds like a sophisticated dessert. We prefer the French name for a gelatin dish, gelée (zhel-LAY) or gélatine (zhay-la-TEEN), which identifies the product, gelatin.

Trivia: The name comes from the Latin gelare, to freeze.

Make this harvest-colored Ginger Gelée with the taste of fall. The recipe was adapted from


As you can see in the photo below, you don’t need to make the dish in a mold. Make the gelée in a baking pan and cut it into elegant rectangles. Or make a layered gelée in glasses, as Martha Stewart did in the second photo below.


  • 1/4 cup peeled, fresh ginger, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 two-gram gelatin sheets, softened in cold water-or-apricot or mango Jell-O
  • 1 quart bottled or filtered water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped-or-a few dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes, strained
  • Optional: food color
  • Garnish: raspberry, pineapple dice, candied orange peel, mint or tarragon leaf or other contrasting garnish (for kids, try candy corn)


    1. FILL a small bowl halfway with ice cubes and water. Put the ginger in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Drain and transfer the ginger to the ice-water bath; let cool. Repeat this process two more times, starting with cold water in the pot each time.

    2. SOFTEN the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of cold water. Lift the gelatin out of the water and squeeze it gently to remove the excess moisture.

    3. BRING the blanched ginger, water, sugar and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the softened gelatin and stir until the gelatin has melted. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve in a large bowl; discard the ginger and vanilla bean pod.

    4. COOL the liquid to room temperature, then whisk in the lime juice. Adjust the color as you like with food color (1 drop red + 2 drops yellow = orange, or see this chart). Pour the liquid into a 1-quart mold or an 8- by 8-inch baking pan and refrigerate until set.

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory*, gelatin-like dish made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the invention of commercial gelatin. It was very difficult to prepare and thus a dish for the wealthy, requiring days to boil down and clarify natural gelatin to make the aspic set. The aspic was shaped in an elaborate mold, to be admired by the guests.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/ginger gelee elegant affairs 230


    TOP PHOTO: Gelée cut into elegant rectangles. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gelée in glasses. Photo courtesy


    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (in Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    He tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience. In 1899 he sold his formula to a fellow townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. The Jell-O was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York. Alas, sales were slow and one day, Woodward sold Sam Nico the business for $35.
    Finally, Success

    In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising campaign, and by 1902 sales were $250,000—more than $6 billion in today’s dollars. In 1923 management created the Jell-O Company, Inc., replacing the Genesee Pure Foods Company, the purpose of which was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. The next flavor, Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930. Recipes printed on the boxes—including molds—brought more users into the fold.

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which also acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. Today there are 21 flavors of regular Jell-O and eight sugar-free flavors, plus puddings and snacks in both categories.

    There is a Jell-O Museum in Le Roy, New York.

    *Molded sweet gelatin mixes were called gelatin salads.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

    Marshmallow Cream Garnish

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Chocolate Marshmallow Fluff cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice 230

    TOP PHOTO: Elegant drops of homemade
    marshmallow cream at Guard and Grace
    | Denver. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    Chocolate “Fluff” from Sugar and Spice and
    Everything Nice


    For the upcoming holiday season, something special is the name of the game. Today’s tip was inspired by Guard and Grace in Denver, where dessert plates are garnished with their own version of Marshmallow Fluff, instead of whipped cream.

    Homemade Marshmallow Fluff, it seems, is a popular undertaking. This first recipe is from Kimberly Reiner of Momma Reiner’s Fudge.

    You’ll need a candy thermometer, ideally a clip-on thermometer or an all-purpose thermometer with a good range; as well as a stand mixer. A simple hand mixer and a bowl won’t do because you’re working with boiling syrup, and need guaranteed stability. We also recommend thick clothing and a vinyl (waterproof) apron to guard against spatters.

    You can vary the flavors of the marshmallow creme beyond vanilla; for example, with lemon extract or maple extract, or a tablespoon of instant coffee or cocoa powder. A recipe for gingerbread marshmallow creme is below.



  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1. BEAT the egg whites with an electric beater or an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachments, until light and frothy. With the mixer running, slowly incorporate 2 tablespoons of sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.

    2. COMBINE 1/3 cup water, the corn syrup and 2/3 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, watching constantly and stirring occasionally. Raise the heat to medium high and cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, 240°F on a candy thermometer (10-15 minutes). If the hot syrup bubbles up the sides, briefly lower the heat or remove the pan from the heat. When the syrup goes back down to level, raise the heat and continue cooking.

    The next step requires care, since the hot mixture can spatter and burn you. In addition to long sleeves and an apron, drape a kitchen towel over the front and side of the mixing bowl, leaving an open side to pour in the syrup.

    3. WITH the mixer on low, slowly add the hot syrup to the beaten egg whites. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue beating for 6-8 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until mixture looks like marshmallow creme, 2-4 minutes more.

    4. COOL and store in an airtight jar. It will keep in the fridge for up to a month. We particularly like it atop a cup of hot chocolate.




    Here’s a holiday-flavored version of marshmallow creme, from Reeni of Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. She has also created a strawberry marshmallow cream.

    Renni advises: “Please keep children and pets clear of the kitchen while making this. The sugar syrup reaches temperatures that can burn should an accident occur.”

    Ingredients For 2-1/2 Cups

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


    Photo ©, which has also created strawberry marshmallow cream.


    1. STIR together the sugar, corn syrup, molasses, water and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, with a clip candy thermometer attached to the side. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240°F. Meanwhile…

    2. ADD the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed.

    3. MEASURE the spices into a small bowl or ramekin. When the syrup reaches 240°F, set the mixer to low speed. Slowly drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of the hot syrup to warm the mixture (if you add too much hot syrup at once, the egg whites may scramble.). On low speed, slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup, the vanilla and all the spices; then increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until the marshmallow creme is stiff and glossy, 8-10 minutes.

    4. COOL and use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

    Marshmallow dates back to ancient Egypt. The marsh mallow plant that was plentiful along the banks of the Nile has a slippery sap that forms a gel when mixed with water. The Egyptians mixed the “juice” with honey to make a confection, reserved for the wealthy and the gods.

    The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder credited the sap with curing all sorts of diseases, and encouraged people to drink the juice daily, although it wasn’t very palatable (what happened to the honey?). Still, for centuries the sap was used to treat sore throats, skin conditions and other maladies.

    In the mid-19th century, a pharmacist in Paris came up with the idea of whipping the sap with sugar and egg whites into a light, sweet, fluffy throat remedy. A variation soon became popular as marshmallow candy.

    By the late 19th century, confectioners had determined how to mass-produce marshmallows, which included eliminating the sap entirely and replacing it with gelatin. (Prepared gelatin was patented in 1845; prior to then it was laborious to render and clarify gelatin from cattle and pig bones, skin, tendons and ligaments; and in addition to setting aspics, it was desirable as glue, a use that dates back to ancient Egypt.).

    Marshmallow sauces were popular in the early 20th century (see Marshmallow History). But to make marshmallow sauce or frosting required that the cook first make marshmallow creme. It was a two-step process: make a sugar syrup, melt marshmallow candy in a double boiler, and combine them with the syrup.

    In 1910 a marshmallow creme called Marshmallow Fluff was sold to ice cream parlors by Limpert Brothers, a company that still exists in New Jersey. You can see the original packaging on their website.

    Snowflake Marshmallow Creme was available around 1914. The first commercially successful, shelf-stable marshmallow creme, it was produced by the Curtis Marshmallow Factory of Melrose, Massachusetts.

    They ultimately bought the Marshmallow Fluff brand from the Lippert Brothers (details). Marshmallow Fluff wasn’t the first marshmallow creme, but it’s the one that endured: 94 years later, the brand is still around.

    Unlike conventional marshmallows, which require gelatin (an animal product) or a seaweed equivalent to set, marshmallow creme is a kosher product made from corn syrup, sugar, water, egg whites, artificial flavor, cream of tartar, xanthan gum and artificial color.

    Marshmallow Fluff is OU Kosher, Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme is OK Kosher. Ricemellow Creme, manufactured by Suzanne’s Specialties, Inc., is a vegan equivalent.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pears At Every Fall Meal

    Who doesn’t like to bite into a perfectly ripe pear, soft to the touch, dripping with juice? Whether in a packed lunch or as a grab-and-go snack, pears are one of the delights of fall.

    But pears don’t have to be ripe to be delicious. Hard pears can be baked, cooked (especially poached), even grated as a garnish onto cake, pudding, pancakes and yogurt.

    Here are suggestions from USA Pears, the national trade association, for incorporating pears into cooked recipes. There are many delicious pear recipes on the organization’s website.

    At the least, treat yourself to pear purée, the pear version of applesauce that can be served at any time during the day, as a condiment, side, topping or dessert. You can also use it in pear-accented cocktails. Peartini, anyone?

    Here’s a quick recipe to try with a ripe pear. A hard pear can be cooked first.


    Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • 1 ripe pear
  • Dash of lemon juice
  • Optional: cinnamon or added sweetener, to taste

    1. PEEL and core the pear. You can leave the skin on the pear; it will provide vibrant flecks of color in the purée.

    2. CUT into chunks and purée in a food processor or blender until smooth. The splash of lemon juice helps prevent the purée from browning.

    3. TASTE and adjust for sweetness as needed. Add a dash of cinnamon as desired.


    Pear-Butternut Squash Soup

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pear puree usapears 230

    TOP PHOTO: Pear-Butternut Squash Soup. BOTTOM PHOTO: Pear Purée (like applesauce). Images courtesy USA Pears.

    Preparation For Hard Pears

    Poach the pears before pureeing. Pears can be poached in red and white wine, fruit juice, beer, sake, coconut milk or water. Add some spice to your poaching liquid: cloves, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, vanilla bean, orange zest, nutmeg, cardamom.

    1. PEEL THE pears, leaving stem and core intact. Heat the poaching liquid over medium heat until it starts to simmer. Reduce the heat to low and continue simmering while fully immersing pears into the poaching liquid. Simmer until pears are soft and easily pierced with a fork, 5 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the pear.

    2. REMOVE the pears from liquid and let cool. Core the pears, remove the stems, cut into chunks and purée in a food processor or blender until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness; add spices as desired.

  • Cheddar Pear Scones (recipe)
  • German Pancake with Caramelized Pears (recipe)
  • Pear and Maple Breakfast Sausage (recipe)
  • Pear and Quinoa Breakfast Custard (recipe)
  • Pear-Stuffed French Toast (recipe)

  • Curried Butternut Squash & Pear Bisque (recipe)
  • Curried Pear & Chicken Salad (recipe)
  • Ham, Brie & Pear Sandwich (recipe)
  • Pear & Cabbage Slaw (recipe)
  • Pear & Quinoa Salad With Greens (recipe)
  • Pear, Sausage & Fontina Calzones (recipe)
  • Pear, Spinach & Parmesan Salad (recipe)
  • Red Wine Poached Pear Salad (recipe)
  • Shaved Pear & Beet Salad (recipe)
  • Shrimp Tacos With Pears & Slaw (recipe)
  • Turkey Burgers with Caramelized Pears and Sweet Onion (recipe)

  • Feta & Pear Crostini (recipe)
  • Pear, Blue Cheese & Walnut Flatbread (recipe)
  • Pear Hummus (recipe)
  • Pear Martini With Pear Purée (recipe)
  • Walnut Pesto Toast with Sliced Pears and Gorgonzola Cheese (recipe)

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pear hummus usapears 230

    TOP PHOTO: Pear hummus. BOTTOM PHOTO: Pears Belle Hélène (poached pears with chocolate sauce). Images courtesy USA Pears.



  • Braised Pork with Pears and Sherry Vinegar (recipe)
  • Grilled Pork Chops with Pears and Rosemary Butter (recipe)
  • Korean Barbecue Beef (recipe)
  • Pear Barbecue Sauce (recipe)
  • Pear and Sesame Glazed Beef (recipe)
  • Penne With Roast Pear & Feta (recipe)
  • Pizza With Pears, Shaved Ham and Fresh Basil (recipe)
  • Soba Noodles With Tea-Poached Pears (recipe)

  • Anjou Pear and Red Potato Gratin (recipe)
  • Grilled Pears Stuffed With Mascarpone & Bacon (recipe)
  • Braised Cabbage With Pears (recipe)
  • Pear Purée (recipe)
  • Savory-and-Sweet Ham, Pear, and Gruyère Strata (recipe)
  • Quinoa Pilaf With Carrots, Ginger & Pears (recipe)

  • Cider & Bourbon Poached Pear Tart (recipe—note that the recipes says “torte,” but it’s actually a tart. A torte is a cake. Torte means cake in German.)
  • Cider-Poached Pears With Pound Cake (recipe)
  • Pears Belle Hélène (recipe)
  • Pear-Caramel Galette (recipe)
  • Pear Cranberry Bread Pudding (recipe)
  • Pear Sorbet (recipe)
  • Pear & Frangipane Tart (recipe—also delicious with chocolate sauce)
  • Pumpkin Ale-Poached Peas In Caramel Sauce (recipe)


    Pears are one of the world’s oldest cultivated and beloved fruits. The trees thrive in cool temperate climates, and there is evidence of pears as food since prehistoric times. Many traces of it have been found in Switzerland’s prehistoric lake dwellings. [Source]

    In the pear genus Pyrus, some 3,000 varieties are grown worldwide, The tree is thought to have originated in present-day western China, and to have spread to the north and south along mountain chains. In 5000 B.C.E., one Chinese diplomat was so enamored of them that he resigned his post to develop new varieties.

    In The Odyssey, the Greek poet Homer lauds pears as a “gift of the gods.” Roman farmers documented extensive pear growing and grafting techniques. Pliny’s Natural History recommended stewing them with honey and noted three dozen varieties.

    Seventeenth-century Europe saw a great flourishing of pear cultivation, especially in Belgium and France. Many of the modern varieties began to emerge.

    Early colonists brought the first pear trees to America’s eastern settlements, where they thrived until crop blights proved too severe to continue widespread cultivation. Fortunately, pioneers had brought pear trees brought to Oregon and Washington in the 1800s, where they thrived in the agricultural conditions of the Pacific Northwest. It remains the major pear-growing center of the U.S.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey Dessert Sauce


    A chocolate tart, drizzled with orange blossom honey. To the right of the tart: chocolate biscotti pieces. Photo courtesy Bestia | LA.


    Caramel to crème anglaise, hard sauce to sabayon: For many centuries, good cooks have known how to garnish a dessert with a sauce.

    Even if the dessert tastes delicious as is, a bit of sauce dresses up a brownie, ice cream, pudding, or slice of plain cake or pie.

    While you can buy them off the shelf, all dessert sauces except one require that someone create it. The one that is ready-made: honey.

    You can use generic honey—whatever you have on hand. Or, match the honey to the dessert:

  • Black sage honey with pear desserts.
  • Basswood or lavender honey with apple.
  • Orange blossom honey with lemon.
  • Raspberry honey with chocolate or fruit desserts.
  • Sourwood honey with peaches.
    Here are more honey pairings.


    Drizzle the honey straight from the cap of the Honey Bear* or other squeeze bottle, or from a teaspoon.

  • You can start by creating a drizzle pattern—circles, dots, zigzags—on the plate.
  • Then place the dessert on the plate.
  • As you like, drizzle some honey on top of the dessert.
    See the different types of dessert sauces Dessert Sauce Glossary.

    *Never throw away an empty Honey Bear bottle. Fill it with a varietal honey and use it to drizzle. The Honey Bear bottle design is a registered trademark of the National Honey Board, which licenses the design to honey bottlers.



    FOOD FUN: Mounds Mess

    Recently we published a recipe for a popular U.K. dessert, the Eton Mess. It’s a combination of strawberries, whipped cream, meringues and other ingredients, unceremoniously mixed together (i.e., a mess).

    We saw this dessert on the Facebook page of Distilled NY in Manhattan’s TriBeCa neighborhood, and decided it was an American version of the Eton Mess. We nicknamed it the Mounds Mess, because it combines coconut and chocolate.

    Chef Shane Lyons of Distilled NY creates his “Mess” with brownie brittle, chocolate pudding, frozen coconut marshmallows and coconut macaroons.

    We did a version with brownie strips, coconut ice cream, French meringues and mascarpone; and, because we have a slight preference for Almond Joy, we tossed in some toasted almonds.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/mounds mess distilledNY

    A dessert for Mounds Bar lovers. Photo courtesy Distilled NY.



    More fun: Make your own Mounds or Almond Joy, using premium chocolate and coconut. Here’s the recipe from Elana’s Pantry.


    Here’s a template for putting together your own Mess:

  • Chocolate: brownies, chocolate pudding, cookies (chocolate wafers, chocolate chocolate chip, etc.), fudge sauce, shaved chocolate
  • Coconut: ice cream, almond macaroons (made from coconut), toasted coconut chips
  • Almond macaroons (buy or make with this recipe)
    And what about an Almond Joy Mess? Add an almond component:

  • Almonds: raw, roasted/toasted, whole or sliced
  • Almond butter
  • Almond buttercrunch or toffee
  • Amaretti cookies, whole or crumbled
    Want to get fancy? Layer your mess in a glass bowl, like a trifle. It will become a mess when you scoop it onto plates.






    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory Popcorn Garnish

    Before it was a popular snack, popcorn was a whole grain food. In Colonial times, it was eaten in a bowl with milk or cream, like modern puffed rice and other puffed cereal grains.

    In the 18th century, after the corn harvest, farmers would toss corn kernels, some fat and a little molasses into a cast iron pot. Voilà: the first kettle corn. (Today, special popcorn strains create big, fluffy kernels.)

    By the 1840s, corn popping had become a popular recreational activity in the U.S. By the 1870s, popcorn was sold in grocery stores and at concession stands at circuses, carnivals and fairs. The first commercial popcorn machine was invented in 1885; by the early 1920s, popcorn machines turned out hot buttered corn at most movie theaters.

    Here’s the history of popcorn.

    Considered a humble food accessible to all, it now used by fine chefs as a garnish for both sweet and savory food.

    Recently we featured an elegant savory corn custard, made from fresh corn and garnished with popcorn.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/popcorn garnish mac and cheese 230

    Add some whole grain popcorn to your mac and cheese,perhaps flavored garlic or jalapeño. Photo: DK.

    But a recipe doesn’t have to be made from corn—or be savory—to dazzle with a popcorn garnish. You can use popcorn as a fun food garnish.

    While a popcorn garnish is not yet ubiquitous, it has long been a standard on cheese and beer soup. Here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, who makes spicy popcorn for the garnish. But if you don’t have the time, plain popcorn works just fine.

    Any thick soup—bean, lentil, vegetable—is ready to wear a popcorn garnish; as is a bowl of chili.

    A second level of fun in using a popcorn garnish: You can flavor the popcorn to complement the dish. Just a sample of popcorn flavors you can pair:

  • Savory flavors: bacon-chive, garlic, herb, jalapeño, mustard, parmesan-rosemary, sesame, truffle
  • Sweet flavors: caramel/salted caramel, chocolate, cinnamon-sugar, maple, peanut butter, peppermint, pineapple-coconut
    If there’s a flavor you want, just toss it with popcorn. Here are 50 ways to season plain popcorn.

    You can also coat the popcorn in chocolate, or use purchased popcorn: chocolate-covered, chocolate-peppermint or maple for the holidays, and so forth.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Carrot cake with Caramel and Popcorn honestcooking 230

    Use caramel corn or a popcorn/pecan praline mix to top a cheesecake or (shown above) a carrot cake. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy



    Beverages: Hot chocolate, on a cocktail pick, on milkshakes

  • Breakfast: Grits or other hot cereal with sweet or savory corn (cheese popcorn on cheese grits, anyone?), pancakes and waffles with caramel corn, yogurt and cottage cheese with sweet or savory popcorn
  • Lunch/Dinner: Chicken breasts, chili, fish fillets, mac and cheese, soups, salads, grains, stews
  • Desserts: Crème brûlée, cupcakes, ice cream (here’s actual popcorn ice cream), layer cake, pudding (especially popcorn pudding)
    If you’re not yet convinced, here’s a simple way to try out popcorn garnishes:

    The next time you roll down the supermarket snack aisle, check out the popcorn selection. Buy a savory (plain salted popcorn) and a sweet variety (caramel corn or kettle corn) and start using them as garnishes.
    *Leave off the butter and sugar, and season with spices or herbs, and you’ve got a fiber-filled, healthful snack.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples & Honey

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/apples honey goodeggs 230

    Apples and honey, a Jewish New Year tradition, are a delicious snack or
    simple dessert on any day.


    Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. One of the holiday traditions is dipping an apple in honey. But the tradition can be enjoyed year-round by anyone looking for a tasty snack or a simple dessert.

    All you need are honey and apples. Slice the apples and serve them with a dish of honey.

    TIP: While a bowl of honey lets more than one person dip at a time, a Honey Bear squeeze bottle or other squeeze bottle (with a dispensing tip) is much neater!


    Apples are sweet, honey is even sweeter. Combine the two and it’s symbolic of a [hopefully] ultra-sweet new year.

    The apple symbolizes the Garden of Eden, which according to the Torah has the scent of an apple orchard, and in Kabbalah is called “the holy apple orchard.”


    So whether or not you’re celebrating anything today, pick up some crisp apples and honey, slice and dip. If you aren’t already familiar with this combination, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to put them together!

    There’s generic honey—a blend of inexpensive honeys from around the world, blended to a common denominator for American supermarket purchases.

    And then there’s varietal honey: single-source honey, such as Black Sage, Clover, Orange Blossom, Raspbery and Sage. There are hundreds of varieties, each made from the nectar of a different flower, bush or tree.

    Each varietal honey has a distinct flavor; thus, and each pairs well with specific foods. Check out our food and honey pairings.

    Consider these pairing tips from Rowan Jacobsen, an apple grower and author of Apples of Uncommon Character:

  • Gala apples with orange blossom honey
  • Granny Smith and other tart green apples with basswood honey
  • Honeycrisp apples with wildflower honey
  • Pink Lady or SweeTango apples with avocado honey
  • Pippin apples with apple blossom honey
  • Russet apples with tupelo honey
    Here’s the full article.

    Happy New Year to those who celebrate, and enjoy those apples and honey, to those who don’t.


    RECIPE: Eton Mess, A School Tradition

    In recognition of back-to-school recipes, we offer the Eton Mess.

    Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, pieces of meringue and whipped cream. It is traditionally served at Eton College’s annual cricket game against rival Harrow School (both are among the most prestigious secondary schools in the U.K.), and on any other day that one wants to eat it.

    The recipe has been known by this name since the 19th century. Variations include bananas instead of strawberries and a scoop of ice cream, which actually preceded the addition of the meringues.

    Why is it called a “mess?” According to Merriam-Webster, the word may refer to the appearance of the dish or may be used in the older sense of a prepared dish of soft food.

    The recipe version below was sent to us by Safest Choice pasteurized eggs—the eggs to use when the recipe requires eggs that aren’t cooked, like Caesar salad, eggnog, mousse and steak tartare. (You can also pasteurize eggs at home.)



    A mess indeed, but a delicious mess! Photo courtesy

    The recipe was developed by Chris of, who added his own touch: a garnish of a chocolate-covered strawberry in addition to the diced strawberries in the Mess. Active time is 20 minutes, total time is 1 hour. You can save time buy buying the meringues, if you can get your hands on good quality ones. Since they will be smashed, you can substitute Pavlovas (individual meringue dessert cups).


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Chocolate Chip Meringues

  • 4 egg whites, ideally pasteurized
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate or mini chocolate chips
    For The Chocolate Covered strawberries

  • 2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped dark chocolate
  • Garnish: 8 chocolate covered strawberries (instructions below)

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/crushed meringues eton mess sharedappetitecom 230

    Crushed meringues give the dish texture. Photo courtesy


    For The Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 275°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy and soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat, adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until all the sugar has been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. The meringue is done when the peaks are stiff, hold their shape, and no grit is felt from the sugar. Gently fold in the chopped chocolate.

    2. LINE two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Drop the meringues by the spoonful (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the meringue easily peels away from the parchment paper. Cool completely on a wire rack. Meringues can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for several days.


    3. MAKE the chocolate-covered strawberries. Melt the chocolate in a microwave; dip the whole strawberries and set on wax paper or parchment to dry.

    4. COMBINE the diced strawberries, sugar and vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl. Let sit for approximately 15-30 minutes to macerate.

    5. MAKE the whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. To avoid splashing, start on a lower speed and increase the speed as the whipped cream begins to take shape. Beat to the desired stiffness. If you won’t be using it right away, cover and place in the refrigerator. It will keep for several hours, and might need a quick whip with a whisk to regain its shape.

    6. BREAK 8-12 meringues by hand: A good variety of big and small pieces creates good texture in the dessert.

    7. LAYER approximately 1/2 cup whipped cream in 8 dessert bowls. Top with a few spoonfuls of macerated strawberries, and a generous sprinkling of dark chocolate and crushed meringues. Top with a chocolate covered strawberry and serve.



    RECIPE: Rice Pudding With A Modern Twist

    It’s almost comfort food time again.

    Nibblers are always on the lookout for a new twist on just about anything. But sometimes it’s hard to change on when it comes to comfort food. We like what we like. We don’t mess around with favorites, like, say, rice pudding.

    Rice pudding, the way mom used to make it or the way it scoops out of a cinnamon-y plastic cup, is a basic feel-good food. It soothes stress, its velvety smoothness coats the tongue, its toasty quinoa topping—whoa! Its what?

    Cue pastry chef Jessica Sullivan, pride of Delfina’s and five other same-owner neighborhood eateries in and around San Francisco’s Mission. Delfina’s is a long-standing favorite that’s managed to survive the Mission’s trendy rebirth. Its loyal customers liked the menu that had served them for years, so Jessica didn’t want to disrupt too much when she arrived as pastry chef.

    But the rice pudding sparked her interest. What could she do to make it rice pudding with more? Her solution was to combine crunchiness and creaminess in every mouthful with the puffed quinoa, candied with toffee.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rice pudding 2 rowann jessicasullivan 230

    Rice pudding with roasted apricots and a crunchy quinoa-toffee topping. Photo courtesy Jessica Sullivan.

    The results are irresistible. Pick up your spoon, plunge it through the crunchy candied quinoa topping into the thick, creamy pudding and you’re in on one of the best dessert adventures of the decade. While the recipe may seem like work, it’s really not. The rice pudding, candied quinoa and apricots can be made ahead of time, and everything assembled right before serving.


    This recipe is courtesy Jessica Sullivan, Delfina, San Francisco.
    Ingredients For 8 One-Cup Servings

    For The Rice Pudding

  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1¼ cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice*
  • ¾ cup crème fraîche
  • Heavy cream, as needed
    For The Toffee

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    For The Candied Quinoa Topping

  • 2 cups puffed quinoa†
  • ½ cup ground toffee (recipe ingredients above)
    For The Apricot Topping
  • 4 fresh apricots, or 8 dried apricot halves‡
  • ½ cup sparkling wine, such as Moscato or Prosecco
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: fresh berries in season
    *See the all of the different types of rice in our Rice Glossary.
    †Puffed quinoa is available at health food stores in the bulk cereals section.
    ‡If using dried apricots, plump them in brandy or Cognac for half an hour before using.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/carnaroli rice finecooking 230

    Carnaroli rice is a short-grain rice bred in Italy to make superior risotto. Cooks often use the more widely available Arborio rice, but Carnaroli is a smaller grain with an extremely high starch content. These properties enable it to absorb large quantities of liquid without overcooking, engendering an ultra-creamy yet toothsome risotto—or rice pudding! Photo courtesy Fine Cooking.



    1. MAKE the pudding. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, vanilla seeds and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture returns to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and lightly simmer, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes until the rice begins to thicken. When the rice thickens, taste it for doneness, continuing to stir every few minutes until it is soft and cooked through.

    2. REMOVE the rice mixture from the heat and transfer to a bowl set on top of an ice bath. Stir continuously so that the mixture cools quickly.

    3. CAREFULLY FOLD in the crème fraîche and taste for salt, adding more if necessary. If the pudding seems too thick, thin it with a touch of cream to achieve the desired consistency.

    4. MAKE the toffee. Place a silicone baking mat on a rimmed cookie sheet. In a small saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup and enough water to wet the syrup until the mixture has a sandy texture. Cook until a candy thermometer registers 315° and the mixture is rich amber in color.

    5. USE a pastry brush dipped in water to wipe down the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, add the salt and vanilla extract; stir well. Pour the mixture onto the silicone mat. When cool enough to handle, break up the toffee, then grind it in a food processor until fine.

    6. MAKE the candied quinoa. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place a silicone baking mat on a rimmed baking sheet. Evenly spread the puffed quinoa over the mat and sprinkle the ground toffee over it. Place the baking sheet in the oven; after about 5 minutes, stir and bake an additional 5 minutes.

    7. REMOVE from the oven, stir again, and place the quinoa-toffee mixture on a cold surface, such as a counter top or unused baking sheet, to cool. Then break it up it into small clusters. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container until ready to use. Do not refrigerate.

    8. MAKE the fruit topping. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the apricots in half, then cut each half into three slices. Place the apricot pieces in a baking dish along with the wine, sugar, salt and vanilla extract; roast for 5 to 10 minutes, rotating the pan after 5 minutes. The fruit should be soft but not blowing up, so watch it closely. Remove the pan from oven and let cool thoroughly.

    9. ASSEMBLE: Place one cup of the rice pudding in each of 8 glass dessert cups or parfait glasses.
    Top each serving with 4 slices of roasted apricots and drizzle with a little of the syrup they cooked in. Add fresh berries in season if desired. Just before serving, generously sprinkle the candied quinoa on top.

    NOTE: You can prepare the rice pudding and toppings ahead of time, but do not add the candied quinoa topping until just ready to serve or it will become soggy.

    –Rowann Gilman is a recipe developer, cookbook editor and Contributing Editor of THE NIBBLE.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Black Mission & Green Kadota Figs

    Summer is fresh fig season. If you enjoy dried figs the rest of the year, go out of your way to enjoy them fresh.

    Last month we wrote about how to use fresh figs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we’ve been reveling in them in the weeks since then, and want to send this reminder to everyone who has not yet jumped onto the fresh fig bandwagon*.

    This week, a trove of Black Mission and Green Kadota figs arrived from California to our produce market. The Green Kadota figs we purchased are even sweeter than the Black Mission figs. Do your own taste test.

    After enjoying them out of hand, focus on these easy, no-cook uses:

  • For breakfast with cereal, cottage cheese, yogurt and pancakes
  • Instead of fig jam, sliced or diced and mixed with honey or agave
  • For lunch in a green salad with bacon, lardons, prosciutto or other ham; or sliced onto a cheese sandwich with Brie, cream cheese or goat cheese on multigrain or raisin bread
  • With a cheese course, with any cheese from mild to strong (our favorite pairing is blue cheese)
  • For an hors d’oeuvre, spread blue cheese on fig halves
  • For dinner make compound butter (use it on bread, for cooking or toss with pasta or rice)

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/fresh and dry figs californiafigs 230

    Fresh Green Kadota and Black Mission figs, shown with their dried versions. Photo courtesy California Figs. The website has recipes for everything from fig muffins to fig pizza.

  • For dessert in a fruit salad; or sliced and marinated in liqueur by themselves or as a topping for ice cream, cheesecake and other desserts
    *To get, jump or leap on the bandwagon is an idiom from the 19th century. It means to become involved in a successful activity so you don’t lose out on the advantages. There are other expressions of the phrase as well. A bandwagon was a festively-decorated wagon that carried a circus band; the band was part of the showy parade through town to generate excitement for the circus. The term first appears in print in P.T. Barnum’s autobiography, published in 1855. Politicians began to “jump on the bandwagon” to be part of the parade, actually renting seats on the wagon to get exposure to the public during the merry occasion.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/figs cheese thefrenchfarm 230r

    Fresh figs are a delicious summer dessert with cheese and a drizzle of honey. Photo courtesy The French Farm.



    Compote, the French word for mixture, is a dessert that dates to medieval Europe. It is made of a mixture of whole or sliced fruits, cooked in water with sugar and spices (cinnamon, clove, lemon or orange peel, vanilla). It can be further blended with grated coconut, ground almonds, or dried or candied fruits.

    Our Nana grew up on compote, and we loved it too. There was always a compote when we visited, served warm (with ice cream or whipped cream) in cooler months and cold in the summer.

    In medieval England compote was served as part of the last course of a feast; during the Renaissance it was served chilled at the end of dinner. Any fresh fruit could be used. Nana’s family recipe included rhubarb, sour cherry, apricot, nectarine and plum in the summer; apples, pears, quince, dried apricots, figs, raisins and walnuts in the fruit-challenged winter months.

    Use the compote as a bread spread and a condiment with sweet or savory foods, in yogurt, with cheese, cheesecake, etc.

    Ingredients For 2/3 Cup

    If the figs are very sweet, you may need only a small amount of sweetener.

  • 1 pound fresh figs†, cleaned and trimmed as needed
  • 1 to 6 tablespoons sugar or honey (or half as much agave)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Optional: dried fruits or other fruits, Grand Marnier or other alcohol
    †Figs do not ripen off the tree, so buy fruit that is soft to the touch. The skin around stem should have begun to twist and wrinkle.

    1. CUT the figs into quarters or smaller pieces as desired. Place the figs, sweetener, water and cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat.

    2. COOK for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding the alcohol near the end (or if using dried fruits in the recipe, you can pre-soak them in the alcohol). To turn into a smooth sauce instead of a chunky dessert or topping…

    3. PULSE, using an immersion blender or food processor, until the desired consistency is reached. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.


    Here’s how to deglaze a pan to make a sauce. Include a tablespoon of fig compote (you can also use fig jam).

    To make a sauce without pan juices (terrific with roast duck or pork):

    1. HEAT 1 cup of red wine in a saucepan, and simmer to reduce it by half. Add 1/2 cup of fig compote and a half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.

    2. BRING to a simmer again, stirring for a few minutes to blend the ingredients. Remove from the heat and finish with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Add a scant tablespoon of butter to smooth out the sauce.



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.