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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 Diet Nibbles

RECIPE: Crispy Fried Cauliflower (Lashooni Gobi)

Junoon is one of the most popular Indian restaurants among gourmand New Yorkers. The name, which means passion, interprets Indian cuisine with a modern spin. The space is large and comfortable, unusual for New York City. And the food: Well, it inspires passion.

While many American home cooks are wary of taking on Indian cuisine without the benefit of a class or an expert friend, here’s one of Junoon’s dishes that’s easy to make. The Indian name is Lahsooni Gobi, but Crispy Fried Cauliflower sounds so much more tempting.

We love cauliflower in all its forms, plain and fancy. But here, lightly battered and tossed in a tomato garlic sauce, this hearty appetizer or side will make even those who don’t typically crave cauliflower want more.

No eggs are used in the batter because in India, eggs are not part of a vegetarian diet (this recipe is actually vegan). This recipe is also gluten-free. Chef Vikas Khanna notes, “I use rice flour here, not just for its superior crisping quality but also for people who are gluten sensitive. It’s a warm and homey dish and can easily be adjusted in terms of heat and garlic to suit anyone’s palate.”

 

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Junoon’s delicious Crispy Fried Cauliflower. Photo courtesy Worleygig.

 

RECIPE: LAHSOONI GOBI, CRISPY CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil for frying, plus 2 tablespoons to make the sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup tomato purée
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Two pinches salt
  • Two pinches sugar
  • Two pinches ketjiap spice (recipe below)
  • Garnish: 2 sprigs cilantro
  •  

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn an everyday cauliflower into something special. Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SPRINKLE 2 teaspoons of sea salt evenly over the cauliflower and let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 350°F: Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

    3. ADD the tomato purée, water, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and ketjiap spice; mix well with a whisk until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary just before serving.

    4. PREPARE the batter by quickly blending the rice flour and water together in a large bowl. Coat the florets in the batter by placing all of the florets in the bowl. Toss gently and then carefully drop the florets into the hot oil. Fry the cauliflower until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    5. BRING the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and then add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir and toss gently to coat the cauliflower with the sauce until well combined. Serve the cauliflower in a bowl garnished with cilantro.

     

    KETJIAP SPICE MIX

    Ketijap is a traditional Indonesian spice mix used for the many different sauces that are loosely called cat-siop and ketjiap (and other spellings*). A pinch or two livens up soups and sauces. You can keep the spice tightly covered in a cool, dark place for up to two months.

  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon mace flakes†
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, preferably tellicherry
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY TOAST the whole spices in a small heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat for about one minute.

    2. COOL, then grind to a fine powder with the cinnamon in a spice grinder.
     
    *Yes, this is the origin of our word catsup/ketchup, although our familiar tomato ketchup was a New World invention. Here’s the history of ketchup.

    †It can be difficult to find mace flakes, also called mace blades, in consumer markets. Use ground mace instead.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bai 5 Low Calorie, High Antioxidant Drink

    Bai 5 is a new addition to the “healthy drink alternatives” category, and certainly worth checking out if you’re looking for a better beverage choice. It has just five calories and one gram of sugar per serving*, and it’s packed with antioxidants.

    It’s also packed with lots of natural flavor. Unlike so many low-calorie drinks, there’s not a hint of artificial flavor.

    What there is, surprisingly, is coffee fruit, the red berries that are the fruit of the coffee tree. Coffee beans are actually the seeds of this fruit.

    The coffee fruit on its has no taste of coffee (In fact, the green seeds of the berry don’t taste like coffee until they’re roasted. Like the beans, the fruit contains caffeine. A serving of Bai 5 has 35mg of caffeine, roughly the same as a cup of green tea.

    Coffee berries are rich in antioxidants, with more than touted antioxidant fruits like blueberries, pomegranates and raspberries.

    The line is all-natural, low-glycemic, OU kosher, GMO-free, and gluten-free—not that you’d expect to find gluten, a cereal protein, in a conventional beverage; but it seems that everything these days is touted as gluten free, including olive oil, pasta sauce and other foods that have never been near gluten†.

       

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    The Bai 5 line is low in calories and high in
    natural flavor. Photo courtesy Bai.

     

     

    panama-peach-bottle

    One of the 10 flavors of Bai 5. Photo courtesy Bai.

     

    Flavors include Brasilia Blueberry, Congo Pear, Costa Rica Clementine, Ipanema Pomegranate, Limu Lemon, Malawi Mango, Molokai Coconut, Panama Peach, Sumatra Dragonfruit and Tanzania Lemonade Tea.

    There are also carbonated versions we have yet to taste, in Bolivia Black Cherry, Gimbi Pink Grapefruit, Guatemala Guava, Indonesia Nashi Pear, Jamaica Blood Orange, Peru Pineapple and Waikiki Coconut.

    You can turn Bai 5 into a spritzer with an equal amount of club soda, with some optional gin, tequila or vodka. But we’ll keep enjoying the refreshing fruit taste, straight and chilled.

    Discover more at DrinkBai.com.

    *Note that the 18-ounce bottle contains two servings.

    †Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, wheat and other grains: bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt and triticale, for example. Botanically, cereal refers to the entire stalk of grass—think of corn stalks or rice stalks. The grain is the edible part of the grass, e.g. the kernel.

     

      

    Comments

    GIFT: 5 Sparrows Hot Chocolate With Stevia

    5-sparrows-white-hot-chocolate-230

    White hot chocolate with stevia sweetener. Photo courtesy 5 Sparrows.

     

    Five Sparrows is a line developed by coffee shop owners, who wanted commercial products created specifically for handcrafted beverages. They are now available to consumers as well.

    The company makes hot chocolate, chai and frappe mixes, which are available in versions sweetened with sugar or a combination of stevia and xylitol.

    Today’s recommendation is for the stevia products. It isn’t difficult to find a quality hot chocolate mix made with sugar, but good sugar-free versions are hard to come by. These taste very natural—no “artificial sweetener” aftertaste. They dissolve easily into milk.

    (And note that neither stevia nor xylitol are artificial ingredients. Here are the different types of zero-calorie, a.k.a. non-caloric, sweeteners.)

    For friends and family who prefer a beverage with zero-calorie sweeteners, here are:

  • Zero Sugar House Chocolate
  • Zero Sugar House White Chocolate
  • Zero Sugar Monumental Spiced Chai
  •  

    A 10-ounce package is $11.00. Buy them online at 5SparrowsBrand.com.

     
      

    Comments

    GIFT: Gluten Free Bread Mixes From Breads By Anna

    classic-herb-breadsbyanna-230

    One of the delicious gluten free bread mixes.
    Photo courtesy Breads By Anna.

     

    One of the worst things about a gluten sensitivity is having to give up good bread.

    But Breads from Anna Gluten is a gluten-free line that spares no effort to create delicious bread mixes to bake at home. We couldn’t believe that they were gluten free. (Nor could we believe that there were black beans in the brownies!)

    Individual packages or gift sets.

    The mixes are:

  • Free from gluten, yeast, corn, dairy, soy, nuts, rice and
    sweeteners.
  • High in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • All Natural
  • Certified GMO Free
  • Certified kosher (pareve)
  •  
    The breads have the same excellent taste and texture that one expects from a good piece of bread. The recipes can easily be made egg free.

     

    The products are produced in the company’s dedicated, controlled, allergen free facility.

    Choices include:

  • Bread Mixes: Classic Herb Bread Mix, Original Bread Mix, Yeast Free Bread Mix, Dairy & Corn Free Bread Mix
  • Brownie Mix: Black Bean Brownie Mix
  • Fruit Bread Mixes: Banana Bread Mix and Pumpkin Bread Mix (which can be made easily into other breads, such as carrot or zucchini bread)
  • Pancake & Muffin Mixes: Apple Pancakes & Muffins Mix, Cranberry Pancake & Muffin Mix, Maple Pancake & Muffin Mix
  • Pie Crust Mix
  • Pizza Crust Mix
  •  
    The products range from $5.99 to $7.99 at BreadsFromAnna.com.

    There are also gift sets from $23.99 to $27.99, including:

     

    banana-bread-mix-breadsfromanna-230

    Banana Bread is one of several gluten-free sweet mixes. Photo courtesy Breads By Anna.

     

  • Happy Holidays Gluten-Free Gift Set with Pumpkin Bread Mix, Pie Crust Mix and Classic Herb Bread Mix.
  • I Love Bread Gluten-Free Gift Set with Classic Herb Bread Mix, Corn and Dairy Free Bread Mix and Yeast Free Bread Mix,
  • Pancake and Muffin Gluten-Free Gift Set, with Apple, Cranberry, and Maple Pancake & Muffin Mixes.
  • Sweet Bread Mix Gluten-Free Gift Set, including Banana Bread Mix, Pumpkin Bread Mix and Black Bean Brownie Mix.
  •  
    If you’re thinking of reducing your own gluten intake in the new year, get some for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Treat House Gluten Free Crispy Rice Treats

    Gluten free*, artisanal and an appropriate portion size—two square inches as opposed to those supersized Rice Krispies Treats—the gourmet Crispy Rice Treats from Treat House have been a NIBBLE favorite since they debuted. (Here’s our original review, a Top Pick Of The Week.)

    These gourmet crispy rice treats (that’s Rice Krispie treats without the trademark infringement) continue to dazzle with an ongoing stream of seasonal flavors and designs.

    For Holiday 2014, there’s a gift box of crispy rice treats topped with holiday and winter theme garnishes, including a dreidel and chocolate foil coins for Hanukkah.

    All treats are gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. The marshmallows are made using raw cane sugar, not corn syrup.

    And, the line is kosher (dairy), supervised by United Kosher Supervision.

    There’s a feel-good component, too: Ten cents of every treat (more for larger items) is donated to The Food Bank For New York City, a relief organization working to end hunger.

       

    group-230

    Nostalgic and gluten free! Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    candy-cane-sprinkles-smores-230

    Perennial favorite S’mores joins holiday candy cane and peppermint treats. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The flavors at Treat House range from kid stuff (Birthday Cake, Bubble Gum, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Pretzel, M&M, etc.) to sophisticated (Chocolate Raspberry, Salted Caramel, etc.).

    But for the holidays, head for the seasonal specialty gift box.

    The 12 pack of holiday crispy rice treats in a the silver and snowflake gift box is $31.

    Get yours at TreatHouse.com.
     
    THE HISTORY OF RICE KRISPIES TREATS

    This childhood favorite, no-bake cookie was invented in 1928 by Mildred Day and colleagues in the home economics department at The Kellogg Company. It was created as a fund raiser-for the Camp Fire Girls, a nationwide American youth organization.

    The recipe consists of butter, marshmallows and Rice Rice Krispies cereal. The butter and marshmallows are melted together, blended with the Rice Krispies and pressed into a pan. When cool, they are cut into bars. Many subsequent variations mix in other ingredients, from chocolate chips to licorice and gummi bears.

     

    Check out the different types of cookies in our tasty Cookie Glossary.

     
    *Some flavors have garnishes that are not gluten free.

      

    Comments

    GLUTEN FREE GIFT: Mary’s Gone Crackers Gift Pack

    marys-got-crackers-gift-set-230

    Scrumptious, gluten-free crackers. Photo courtesy Maryy’s Gone Crackers.

     

    Wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, no hydrogenated oils, no trans-fats, non-GMO: The litany of what’s not in Mary’s Gone Crackers is so extensive, you start to wonder what is in them that makes them taste so vibrant and delicious. (See the answer in our full review of this NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.)

    They’re also organic, whole grain, non GMO and OU kosher, and there’s a gift set you can send to anyone seeking to eliminate or cut back on gluten ($36.87 includes free shipping).

    The gift box includes the brand’s top selling cracker flavors plus serving accoutrements:

  • A 6.5-ounce box of Herb flavor Mary’s Gone Crackers
  • A 5.5oz box of Super Seed flavor Mary’s Gone Crackers
  • 2 bamboo dip bowls and 2 bamboo tongs
  • A deck of 10 delicious vegan dip recipes
  •  

    If you simply want to pick up some boxes for everyday eating, the line is carried at most natural food stores.

     
      

    Comments

    GIFT: Gluten Free Gourmet Cookies

    chubby-wubby-cake-chicago-230sq

    Chubby Wubby: fun name, sophisticated flavor and gluten free. Photo courtesy Cake |
    Chicago.

     

    Everything is delicious at Cake, a Chicago bakery and NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week (we reviewed it under a previous name, Damn Good Cookies). You can send anything on the menu as a gift, and it will delight the most demanding recipients.

    It is not a gluten-free bakery, but there is gluten-free treasure to be found:

    If you’re on the hunt for a gluten-free cookie gift for someone with a discerning palate, look no further than their specially Chubby Wubby Defloured, a sophisticated, delectable, gluten-free chocolate cookie.

    The cookie sandwich is indeed chubby, Two bittersweet chocolate cookies, studded with chocolate chips, are sandwiched with a layer of chocolate ganache. Trust us: You’ll want more than one box.

    In fact, the original Chubby Wubby Chocolate Cookie, made with conventional wheat flour, was so popular that the gluten-free version was created. The conventional Chubby Wubby has led to a family of other Chubbies—different fillings with the same delicious chocolate cookies:

     

  • Chubby Wubby Caramel Cookies with buttery caramel ganache.
  • Chubby Wubby Hazelnut Cream Cookies with creamy chocolate hazelnut ganache.
  • Chubby Wubby Mint Cookie refreshing mint ganache.
  • Chubby Wubby Peanut Butter Cookies creamy peanut butter ganache.
  • Chubby Wubby Raspberry Cookies sweet and tart raspberry ganache.
  •  
    A 12-piece box is $32.00, a 16-piece box is $38.00. Get yours at Cake-Chicago.com.
     
    WHAT’S GANACHE?

    Ganache is a velvety smooth blend of chocolate and cream, often with butter added. It is used as a frosting for cake and as a filling for pastries and chocolates. Rolled into balls, it becomes a chocolate truffle.

    Here’s more about ganache and why it translates in French to idiot or imbecile.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pumpkin Flan, Delicious & Gluten Free

    pumpkin-flan-kimptonhotels-230

    Pumpkin flan. Photo courtesy South Water Kitchen | Chicago.

     

    Unless you bake with gluten-free flour, Thanksgiving guests following a gluten-free diet can’t enjoy your pumpkin pie. So Roger Waysok, executive chef of South Water Kitchen in the Chicago Loop, suggests a gluten-free alternative: pumpkin Flan.

    His recipe, below, is easy for to prepare and doesn’t require a novice baker to deal with the challenges of gluten-free flour. (You can’t simply substitute gluten-free flour for regular flour; you need a recipe developed with gluten-free flour*).

    Flan is the Spanish name for a particular type of custard made with carmel syrup. The french term is crème caramel. It is the national dessert of Spain. In Mexico, dulce de leche is often used instead of caramel syrup.

    Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

     
    RECIPE: PUMPKIN FLAN

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • Caramel syrup (see Step 1 below)
  • 2 cups sugar (for syrup)
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice†
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling‡)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel syrup: Cook 2 cups of sugar and 4 tablespoons of water over medium-high heat until it turns amber in color. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

    2. SPRAY 4-ounce custard cups or foil cups; cover the bottoms with thin layer of caramel.

    3. COMBINE milk, vanilla and salt over heat until steaming (do not scorch).

    4. COMBINE the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, spices and pumpkin purée in a separate bowl. Whisk until combined; then add the warm milk mixture until a custard forms.

    5. FILL the cups with custard. Bake in water bath at 325°F for 30 minutes. Serve warm or chilled

     
    *Gluten-free flour can sometimes require extra ingredients to bind the dough mixture, in order to create the same chemical reaction that occurs with regular flour.

    †Pumpkin pie spice is simply a blend of the traditional spices that go into pumpkin pie. Combine 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.

    ‡Pumpkin pie filling has spices blended in. Pumpkin purée is not seasoned; the appropriate spices are included in the recipe.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Harvest Pumpkin, Seasonal Tortilla Chips From Food Should Taste Good

    How delicious are the fall flavor tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good?

    Very delicious! You can enjoy them plain, with a savory or sweet dip, or as “fall nachos.”

    • Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips are as good as eating a cookie. Deftly spiced with cinnamon, clove, allspice and nutmeg (and a touch of cane sugar), stone ground corn is mixed with pumpkin, spices, sea salt.
    • Sweet Potato tortilla chips, which are made with a touch of sugar, can be served with fruit salsa, raspberry jam or apple butter; served with ginger snap dip, or instead of cookies with vanilla ice cream.

    The all natural line is certified gluten free, certified vegan and OU kosher. The snack contains 19 grams of whole grains per serving. (The USDA recommends 48 grams of whole grains daily.)

     
    RECIPE #1: GINGERSNAP DIP

    This recipe, adapted from Taste Of Home, makes a “dessert dip.” For a less sweet dip, cut the sugar in half or eliminate it entirely.

       

    sweet-potato-pumpkin-kaminsky-230

    Sweet Potato and Harvest Pumpkin tortilla chips from Food Should Taste Good. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
    • 1 carton (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt
    • 1 package (16 ounces) gingersnaps

     
     
    *You can combine equal amounts of allspice, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg or adapt the spices and proportions to your preferences.>
     
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl until fluffy. Beat in the yogurt.

    2. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve.

     

    gingersnap-dip-tasteofhome-230

    Gingersnap dip for cookies or seasonal tortilla chips. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: BISCOFF SPREAD DIP

    Biscoff Spread looks like peanut butter but smells like gingerbread and is nut-free. It is made from spice cookies, called spéculoos cookies in Belgium, where they are the national cookie—a variation of gingerbread. (The cookies are called Belgian spice cookies in the U.S.)

    The name Biscoff is a combination of “biscuits and coffee,” a nod to enjoying the cookies with your cup of java. The spread, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, was the winner of a recipe competition in Belgium that was held by the largest producer of the cookies. The winning concept: Grind the cookies into a “cookie spread” that can be enjoyed an alternative to Nutella or peanut butter.

    Biscoff Spread is available at supermarkets nationwide and onlineonline; Trader Joe’s sells a private label version called Cookie Spread. In Europe, the generic version is called spéculoos spread.

    This recipe, which was originally developed for dipping fruit and cookies, is equally delicious with pumpkin and sweet potato tortilla chips.

     
    Ingredients For 4 To 6 Servings

    • 1/4 cup Biscoff Spread
    • 1 container plain lowfat yogurt (6 ounces or 3/4 cup)†
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Plus

  • Pumpkin and/or sweet potato tortilla chips for serving
  •  
    Optional Fruit To Serve Alongside The Chips

    • 1 red apple, washed and cored, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
    • 1 small banana, peeled, cut into 1-inch slices
    • 1 cup whole or halved strawberries, washed and dried
    • 1 ripe pear, washed, dried and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, or other favorite dipping fruit

     
    †Or, use lowfat vanilla yogurt and omit the vanilla extract.
     
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the Biscoff Spread and yogurt until smooth.

    2. WHISK in vanilla and cinnamon. Place in small serving bowl. Serve with chips and optional fruit.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Marich Sugar Free Candy

    What’s Halloween like for people who can’t have sugar?

    While there’s no sugar-free candy corn (because candy corn is essentially sugar, corn syrup, color and flavoring), there are other sugar-free treats, from Gummies, hard candies including Cinnamon Buttons, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Jolly Ranchers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and much more (for a great selection head to BlairCandy.com).

    Or, you could go gourmet at Marich.

    Marich Confectionery makes a lot of the all-American candies sold in bulk in better candy stories: bridge mix; caramels and toffees; chocolate-covered coffee beans, fruits and nuts; Holland mints, licorice; and our favorite malted milk balls.

    Some of the most popular items are available in sugar-free versions: Sugar Free Chocolate Bridge Mix, Sugar Free Chocolate Espresso Beans, Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Almonds and No Sugar Added Chocolate Cherries (the cherries themselves have natural sugar).

    Whether for Halloween gifts or for the holidays, in eight-ounce, ribbon-tied bags ($10.50, $11 for the cherries), we love these for gifting.

       

    caramels-cherries-SF-230

    Sugar-free treats Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    bags-230s

    Easy sugar-free gifting. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    LOOKING FOR SOME SUGAR?

    From the regular line, two items great for stocking stuffers or party favors are two-ounce boxes of:

    • Christmas Holland Mints (red, white and green, $2.50)
    • Cinnamon Spice Apple Caramels ($3.00)
    • Pumpkin Spice Caramels ($3.00)

    The line is certified kosher by by KOF-K.

    Dig in at Marich.com.

     

      

    Comments

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