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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 Entertaining

FOOD FUN: Watermelon On A Stick ~ And Many, Many Other Foods

Many people believe that everything tastes better on a stick. That’s why we consistently come across foods that have no need to be on a stick, served on a stick. County fairs and urban street fairs are full of them.

We’re not talking about skewers, which make grilling and serving easier; or ice pops, candy apples or cotton candy, which require a stick to be held and eaten.

No, many foods that were once served with a fork or a toothpick, with or without a dipping sauce, are now placed atop wooden ice-pop sticks. Consider chicken nuggets, fried ravioli, meatballs, mini franks, rumaki, bacon-wrapped baby potatoes and Caprese stacks. You can find them all on sticks.

Why? It’s fun. (We hate to think, cynically, that the movement was started by manufacturers of the ice pop sticks.)

We particularly liked the fun of watermelon slices on sticks: an idea for your upcoming Memorial Day festivities.

The idea is from South Fork And Spoon, a Bridgehampton, New York-based caterer and “food concierge” that has a website full of tempting fare for lucky Hamptonians.

   

watermelon-on-a-stick-southforkandspoon-230

Watermelon on a stick: more elegant than hands-only, more fun than a fork. Photo courtesy South Fork And Spoon.

 

Intrigued by watermelon-on-a-stick, we delved into the food-on-a-stick category.

The Iowa State Fair touts “60 foods on a stick,” from hard-boiled eggs to deep-fried brownies. The blog Brit.co features 100 foods on a stick.

Here’s a selection from both, which includes everything from junk food to elegant fare. Visit the sites directly to see the photos.
 
BREAKFAST ON A STICK

  • Breakfast Sausage
  • Doughnut Holes
  • French Toast Squares
  • Griddle Stick (turkey sausage wrapped in a pancake)
  •  
    CANDY, FRUIT & SWEET SNACKS ON A STICK

  • Assorted Fruit & Cheese
  • Carmellows
  • Chocolate-Covered Tiramisu
  • Chocolate-Covered Turtle Mousse Bar
  • Deep-Fried Cupcake
  • Deep Fried Fresh Pineapple
  • Deep-Fried Milky Way & Snickers Bars
  • Fruit (with yogurt dipping sauce)
  • Monkey Tail (chocolate-covered banana)
  • Rock Candy
  • Salted Chocolate Dipped Almond Pretzel
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  •  

    sandwich-on-a-stick-onecharmingparty-230

    Sandwich on a stick. Photo courtesy
    OneCharmingParty.com.

     

    COOKIES, CAKE, PIE & ICE CREAM ON A STICK

  • Cake Pops
  • Cheesecake & Chocolate-Covered Deep Fried Cheesecake
  • Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Chip Cannoli
  • Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop
  • Chocolate-Covered Frozen S’mores
  • Chocolate-Covered Key Lime Dream Bar
  • Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Bar
  • Coconut Mountain (coconut ball dipped in fresh chocolate)
  • Deep-Fried Brownie
  • Deep-Fried Ho-Ho, Twinkie & Twinkie Log (frozen Twinkie dipped in white chocolate and rolled in cashews)
  • Ice Cream Wonder Bar
  • Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Mini Pie Pops
  • Smoothie On-a-stick (frozen strawberry smoothie)
  • Strawberry Shortcake Pops (shortcake pieces, strawberries, whipped cream)
  •  

    MEAT & OTHER PROTEINS ON A STICK

  • Bacon Wrapped Pork Riblet
  • Cajun Chicken
  • Corndog & Cornbrat
  • Chicken Drumsticks & Thighs
  • German Sausage
  • Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Hot Bologna
  • Hot Lips (breaded chicken breast smothered with hot sauce, served with blue cheese dressing)
  • Octodog (hotdog in the shape of an octopus)
  • Pork Chop
  • Tandoori Tofu
  • Teriyaki Beef
  • Sesame Chicken
  •  
    SAVORY SNACKS ON A STICKv

  • Cheese Stacks or Fried Cheese Skewers
  • Deep-Fried Pickle
  • Grilled Cheese, Tomato & Basil
     
    VEGETABLES ON A STICK
  • Corn On the Cob
  • Grilled Pumpkin & Other Squash
  • Salad
  • Zucchini Lollipops (fried zucchini)
  •  
     
    RECYCLE THE STICKS

    There’s no reason not to collect, wash and reuse wood Popsicle sticks—or Wooden Treat Sticks or craft sticks, as they are more properly known (Popsicle is a trademarked name, not a generic term). Why throw things into the landfill when they can enjoy a second (or tenth) life?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Dim Sum At Home

    We live in a city with a large Chinatown—lots of places to enjoy dim sum. But even if you’re many miles from the nearest restaurant, you can make delicious dim sum at home.

    Not frozen dim sum but your own homemade treats, but ones made with your own flour, ground meat, seafood and veggies. It may look complex, but most dishes are quite simple to make. Just check out this easy dim sum cookbook.

    There are also many recipes and videos online.

    Many Americans think of dim sum, a Cantonese tradition, as weekend brunch. But it can be enjoyed every day, for every meal.

    There are tempting options for every palate, from vegetarian and vegan to meat and seafood. Some of our favorites:

     

    dim-sum-mackenzieltd-230

    More, please! Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

  • Bean curd dishes
  • Bread-based dishes like steamed barbecue pork buns
  • Dumplings of every allure—boiled, pan-fried, steamed and potstickers
  • Meat and fish dishes
  • Rice dishes
  • Sautéed vegetables
  • Scallion pancakes
  • Desserts, like almond pudding, mango pudding and egg custard tarts
  •  
    If you’re a fan of Cream of Wheat or Cream Of Rice porridges, make the savory Chinese version, congee (with a soft “g”).
     
    All dishes can be made ahead and many can be frozen.

     

    pork-shumai-ramarfoods-230sq

    A true pleasure: your own homemade
    shumai (pork dumplings, pronounced
    shoo-MY). Photo courtesy Ramar Foods.

     

    PARTY TIME

    Dim sum can be served for brunch/lunch and as cocktail party fare.

    If the idea of preparing dim sum is intimidating, plan a co-op party with friends who like to cook. Everyone can make one or two dishes.

  • You can do it “cookie swap style,” choosing to dine together or bring the food home to your family.
  • You can also have a “prep party,” rolling and dicing with friends.
  •  
    What to drink with dim sum? Tea, of course!

    A dim sum party is an opportunity to sample a few different teas as well. Take a look at chrysanthemum, dragon well, jasmine, gunpowder, keemum, lychee, oolong, pu-erh—brewed from whole leaf tea, of course! (Check out the different types of tea.)

     
    DIM SUM HISTORY

    Dim sum derives from an older tea house tradition, yum cha (tea tasting), in the Canton province southern China. Travelers would take refreshment at roadside teahouses; locals would stop by to relax after a day of tilling the fields or other labor.

    At some point teahouse owners began to add snacks: hence the development of dim sum. The translation of dim sum, “touches the heart,” shows that it was originally not a main meal but a snack.

    Over the centuries, dim sum evolved from an afternoon respite to a major meal, from breakfast through mid-afternoon. Some modern restaurants extend dim sum to dinner time; it is now a staple of Cantonese dining culture and served all over China.

    For a dim sum holiday head to Hong Kong, the dim sum capital of the world. If you’re in a major U.S. city, head to its Chinatown.

    In New York City, our favorite is Jing Fong, a huge restaurant with the largest selection we’ve ever seen. The food is wheeled around on carts by servers; you point to what you want. Food is priced by the dish, but you can gorge yourself for not much more than $15-$20 a person.

    To end the confusion of what’s what, you can get this dim sum pocket guide, in paperback or Kindle editions.

    Sihk faahn (that’s eat, the equivalent of bon appétit, in Cantonese)!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Create The Best Sugar Rim

    red-sugar-rim-eljimador-230

    Red sanding sugar makes a sweet, colorful
    cocktail or mocktail rimmer. Photo courtesy
    El Jimador Tequila.

     

    Here’s a fun idea for Mother’s Day or any other celebration: a custom glass rimmer for cocktails or mocktails. You can buy rimmers in tins, but it’s almost as fast to make your own.

    We owe this tip to Seattle’s Best, which served us a coffee Martini with a sugar rim at a recent event.

    Wow, we said: How did you get the sugar to really stick on? Our own efforts to create the ideal flavored rim were not as successful.

    The answer: Dip the rim of the glass in maple syrup, not water as we’ve been doing, to create the glass rimmer. Do it in advance so the syrup can dry.

    We substituted agave for the maple syrup, which held just as fast and firm and is even better when you don’t want to add maple flavor.

    Sanding sugar is available in numerous colors, and the technique also works with a chocolate rim, a shredded coconut rim, a sprinkles rim or whatever look and taste you like.

    You can be creative in your blend, adding anise, cinnamon or other spice to the base ingredient.

     

    And you can do it with savory rims, blending celery salt, chili powder or sea salt with just about any herb or spice that adds complementary flavor to the drink.

    Here’s the recipe we tasted from Seattle’s Best:

     

    RECIPE: SEATTLE’S BEST COFFEE MAPLETINI

    Ingredients For 4 Drinks

  • 1 cup brewed Signature Blend No. 4 Seattle’s Best Coffee, chilled (or coffee of your choice)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus extra for decorating the rims of the Martini glasses
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla-flavored vodka
  • 1-1/2 cups ice
  • Colored sugar, ground chocolate or ground coffee beans mixed with sugar
  •  

    chocolate-rimmed-jimador-230sq

    Make a chocolate rim with ground chocolate or cocoa and sugar. Photo courtesy El Jimador Tequila.

     

    Preparation

    1. BREW coffee one hour or more before serving and cool to room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator. (Note: You can brew and refrigerate the coffee days in advance.)

    2. COMBINE the brewed coffee, half & half, maple syrup and vanilla-flavored vodka in a large glass or martini shaker. Fill with ice, then shake or stir until the ingredients are well-combined.

    3. MOISTEN the rims of four martini glasses with maple syrup and dip in sugar to lightly coat.

    4. STRAIN the cocktail and pour into the prepared glasses.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Flower Ice Cubes

    chandon-flower-ice-cubes-230

    Put edible flowers in your ice cubes. Photo
    courtesy Chandon USA.

     

    For Mother’s Day, spring and summer entertaining, parties, showers and Valentine’s Day, make your drinks stand out with flower ice cubes.

    It couldn’t be easier: Just place edible blossoms in an ice cube tray, fill and freeze. Use the floral ice cubes in cocktails or soft drinks.

    Not all flowers are edible; many will upset your stomach (or worse). But there are quite a few to choose from. Here’s a list of edible flowers.

    Flowers have been eaten since before Egyptian times. Here’s more about edible flowers.

    Want to grow your own? Sure, but be sure to grow the flowers with no chemical pesticides. More about growing edible flowers.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Crabtini, A Simple & Elegant First Course

    A delicious crabtini. Photo courtesy Ruth’s
    Chris Steakhouse.

     

    When you’re cooking a fancy dinner, there are tricks to shave time and effort. We typically do this by making first courses and desserts that are simple yet impressive.

    One of our go-to first courses is a slice of store-bought pâté with a lightly-dressed mesclun salad, cornichons, pickled onions and some halved grape tomatoes for color. Another is a crabtini.

    A crabtini is a crab cocktail served in a Martini glass. Thanks so much to Lynne Olver of FoodTimeline.org, whose research indicates that the originator of the concept appears to be Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, circa 2005.

    The crabtini has inspired chefs to create even more elaborate preparations like this molded crab cocktail. But, seeking the quick and easy, we emulated Ruth’s Chris to make our own crabtini:

    RECIPE: CRABTINI

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 1 pound lump or white crabmeat (types of crabmeat)
  • 1/2 cup capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Herb vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Romaine
  • Garnish: salmon caviar, red tobiko or tiny dice of
    red bell pepper; lemon or lime wedges
  • Preparation

    1. GENTLY toss the crab with capers, onion, parsley, Creole seasoning, salt and pepper and vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

    2. PLACE romaine leaves upright in a Martini glass. Place a mound of the crab salad in the glass.

    3. GARNISH with caviar and serve with lemon or lime wedges.
     
    RECIPE: HERB VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mixed leafy fresh herbs: basil, mint, parsley, tarragon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few shakes Worcestershire sauce
  •  
    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
     
    WINE PAIRING

    Enjoy your crabtini with a festive glass of sparking wine—another quick and easy way to add glamor to a simple course—or a clean, crisp dry white wine.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Cheese

    A good truffle cheese is a knockout. It you’re going to serve one cheese for a special occasion, this is it.

    There are different truffle cheeses from the U.S., France, Italy, and elsewhere. Some deliver the aromatic, spectacular truffle aroma and flavor you’re looking for. Others don’t, the black flecks of truffle seemingly there like the black flecks in vanilla ice cream—for appearance, not for taste.

    That’s because some truffles have little or no flavor and aroma, and not all producers use the more flavorful truffles. If you can taste before you buy, do so. More about truffles.)
     
    TYPES OF TRUFFLE CHEESE

    Truffle cheeses are aromatic cheeses that have been flavored with bits of fresh truffles and sometimes with truffle oil, when the truffles themselves are not particularly flavorful. They can be made from any milk, in soft, semi-soft or semi-hard styles.

    These cheeses are available in the U.S.:

  • Boschetto al Tartufo: a mild, semi-soft Italian cheese made with a blend of cow’s and sheep’s milk and white truffles. Nice. The names means truffles from the woods.
  •  

    truffle-tremor-beauty

    Truffle Tremor. Photo courtesy Cypress Grove.

  • Fromager d’Affinois: from France, this variety of fromager d’affinois, a Brie-like double-crème cow’s milk cheese, is a beautiful blend of the creamy cheese with the subtle earthiness of the truffles. The black truffles are from Périgord—the best truffles in the world. It is a seasonal product that is in store for the holidays from October to January and then again in March (for Easter). You can find it in most gourmet/specialty stores, Whole Foods Markets, Trader Joe’s (as a unit size under their label called the Truffle Brie) and some Costco stores.
  • Moliterno Black Truffle Pecorino: A Sardinian raw sheep’s milk cheese covered with black truffle paste. Unlike most truffle cheese, the truffle paste is infused after the cheese has been aged, creating veins of truffle that permeates the entire paste. Once cut, the dark paste oozes out of the crevices of the cheese. It makes a great cheese course with a big, earthy Italian red wine.
  •  

    truffle-cheese-assortment-ig-230

    Truffle cheese assortment from iGourmet. Serve it with hearty red wine: It’s a party!

     
  • Perlagrigia Sottocenere: a semi-soft Italian cheese originally from Venice, made from raw cow’s milk and slices of truffles. It is then rubbed with herbs and spices (cinnamon, cloves, coriander, fennel, licorice, nutmeg) and aged in an ash rind, a Venetian technique to preserve the cheese over a long period without losing flavor. The ash is also used to convey subtle flavors into the cheese, with a variety of spices mixed with the ash.with flavors of coated on to the rind. The name means “under ash.”
  • Truffle Gouda: a mild Dutch Gouda (cow’s milk, semihard) sprinkled with black truffles, the mildness of the cheese lets the flavor of the truffles shine through.
  • Truffle Tremor: from Cypress Grove Chevre of California, this soft, creamy goat’s milk cheese filled with Italian black summer truffles.is one of our favorites. What could make goat cheese better than truffles? Enjoyable any time, try it for dessert with a glass of Port.
  •  

  • Truffle and Salt Cheddar: From Idaho’s Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese, this aged, pasteurized Cheddar (cow’s milk) is flavored with black truffle salt. As a result, it isn’t as truffle-redolent as cheeses that use actual truffles, but it is a lovely expression of artisan Cheddar.
  •  
    You can get a truffle cheese assortment—five of the cheeses above—from iGourmet. It’s a special treat that will be long remembered.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinnamon Coffee

    french-press-cinnamon-coffee-mccormick-230

    It’s easy to brew delicious cinnamon coffee
    with any coffee maker. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.

     

    If you enjoy cinnamon coffee, here’s a recipe from McCormick, that adds real cinnamon to your ground coffee for a far more exciting flavor. (Commercial cinnamon-flavored coffee uses an extract to flavor the beans.)

    The coffee is brewed with brown sugar, so no sugar bowl is needed. You can use any coffee maker.

    For dessert, you can top the coffee with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. There are just 36 calories per cup, before the whipped cream.

    For a spiked version, add cinnamon liqueur, coffee liqueur or Irish cream liqueur. If you want to avoid the extra sugar, use whiskey (we like bourbon) or tequila.

     

    RECIPE: BREWED CINNAMON COFFEE

    Ingredients For 6 One-Cup Servings

  • 3/4 cup ground dark roast coffee, (regular or decaffeinated)
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 cups water
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream and sprinkled cinnamon
  • Optional: milk or cream
  • Optional liqueur: 1-2 tablespoons per cup
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE coffee, sugar and cinnamon in a filter in brew basket of coffee maker (or directly into a French press).

    2. PLACE the vanilla in the empty carafe. Add water to coffee maker; brew coffee as usual.

    3. POUR into serving cups; add liqueur if desired. Top with whipped cream or serve with milk or cream. Garnish with an optional sprinkle of cinnamon.
     
    CINNAMON LIQUEUR

    There are more brands than there is shelf space to hold them all. And Bols makes both a cinnamon liqueur and a cinnamon schnapps (see the difference below). Some are more elegant, some are brash and sizzling.

    Cinnamon liqueur can be added to coffee and tea, sipped on the rocks, drunk as shooters and mixed into cocktails.

  • After Shock
  •  

    goldschager-bottle-230

    Dramatic and delicious: Goldschläger cinnamon schnaps with gold flakes. Photo courtesy Global Brands.

     

  • Bols Hot Cinnamon Liqueur and Gold Strike Cinnamon Schnapps
  • De Kuyper “Hot Damn!”
  • Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey Liqueur
  • Fire Water Hot Cinnamon Schnapps
  • Goldschläger, with flecks of edible gold, the most elegant of the cinnamon liqueurs
  • Leroux Cinnamon Schnapps
  • Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
  • Tuaca Cinnaster Cinnamon and Vodka Liqueur
  •  
    CORDIAL, EAU DE VIE, LIQUEUR, SCHNAPPS: THE DIFFERENCE

    While many people use these terms interchangeably, and they are all flavored spirits, there are differences that are relevant to the consumer in terms of sweetness and color.

  • Liqueur (lih-KUR, not lih-CURE) is made by steeping fruits in alcohol after the fruit has been fermented; the result is then distilled. Liqueurs are typically sweeter and more syrupy than schnapps.
  • Schnapps (shnops) is made by fermenting the fruit, herb or spice along with a base spirit, usually brandy; the product is then distilled. This process creates a stronger, often clear, distilled spirit similar to a lightly flavored vodka. “Schnapps” is German for “snap,” and in this context denotes both a clear brandy distilled from fermented fruits, plus a shot that spirit. Classic schnapps have no added sugar, and are thus less sweet than liqueur. But note that some manufacturers add sugar to please the palates of American customers.
  • Eau de vie (oh-duh-vee), French for “water of life,” this is unsweetened fruit brandy—i.e.,schnapps.
  • Cordial has a different meaning in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it is a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink. In the U.S, a cordial is a sweet, syrupy, alcoholic beverage: liqueur.
  •  
    In sum: If you want a less sweet, clear spirit, choose schnapps/eau de vie over liqueur. For something sweet and syrupy, go for liqueur/cordial.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Break Wine Barriers

    Most people who drink wine regularly have learned “rules” of pairing wine with food. There are very precise rules—Chablis with oysters is one—and general pronouncements, such as white wine with fish.

    You can go to the website FoodAndWinePairing.org and get guidance such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec with lamb.

    But conventional wisdom, which also includes drinking the wines from the same region as the foods, is not the same as the latest wisdom.

    The new wisdom of wine says don’t be regimented, don’t box yourself in. Try different pairings to see what works best for you.

    The new wisdom (which has been around for a while) was proved at a lunch last week hosted by Louis Jadot, the venerable Burgundian winemaker and négociant*.

    In a private room at Lafayette Grand Café in the Nolita neighborhood of downtown Manhattan, ten wine writers joined Frederic Barnier, Jadot’s winemaker, for an eye-opening (and delicious) lunch.

    We tried eight different dishes with four Jadot wines, two whites and two reds:

  • Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay
  • Louis Jadot Macon-Villages
  • Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages
  • Louis Jadot Pinot Noir
  •  

    filet-mignon-red-wine-ruthschris-230

    If you think you prefer Cabernet Sauvignon with filet mignon, think again. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

     

    Also tasted prior to the lunch were the new Louis Jadot Steel Chardonnay, made for the American market where many people prefer the flavors of steel fermentation to oak barrel fermentation; and the 2012 Pouilly-Fuisse.

     

    jadot-beaujolais-230b

    Who new we’d enjoy Beaujolais with just
    about everything? Photo courtesy Maison
    Louis Jadot.

      MIX & MATCH

    We were encouraged to mix and match the wines with the foods. Served family style on large platters, we dined on:

  • Roasted beet root salad with mach and hazelnuts
  • Escarole and endive salad with pomegranate and truffle vinaigrette
  • Charcuterie de la maison: saucisson, pâte and jambon
  • Rotisserie chicken salad with organic grains and tarragon-poppy dressing
  • Brisket burger with caramelized onions and raclette
  • Roasted fall vegetables and potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts with bacon and horseradish
  •  
    SURPRISES

    As you might imagine, there’s a lot of conventional wisdom on which wines to pair with these foods. But we tried every possible pairing, and the results were surprising—or maybe not so surprising:

    Everyone liked something different, and many of the preferences were not the conventional ones.

    Even more surprising to us—a lover of red and white Burgundy but not necessarily of Beaujolais†—is how much we liked that Beaujolais with just about everything. It was our favorite wine of the tasting, and the nice Jadot people sent us home with a bottle.

     
    PICK A DATE FOR A DINNER PARTY

    Follow today’s tip by planning a dinner with four different wines.

    You can assign dishes to participants, so you’ll have an assortment of vegetables, grains, poultry, meat and fish/seafood. Prepare the dishes with strong flavors—like the hazelnuts, horseradish, truffle oil, spices and herbs served by Lafayette—because any wine will seemingly go with bland food.

    Of course, the exercise is a relative one. The flavors of wines made from the same grape from the same region in the same year can vary widely. So it’s best to select four wines from the same producer, like Jadot, which will provide consistency in house style and approach to winemaking.

    Bon appétit!

     
    *A négociant is the French term for a wine merchant who buys wines from smaller winemakers and sells them under his own name. Négociants buy everything from grapes to grape must to wines in various states of completion, and often blend the wines from different small winemakers.

    †Beaujolais is the one appellation in Burgundy that produces red wine made from the Gamay grape instead of Pinot Noir.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Rainbow Vegetables

    rainbow-baby-carrots-www.sprinkledsideup-230

    Baby carrots move beyond the familiar
    orange to purple, red and yellow. Photo
    courtesy Sprinkle Side Up. See her recipe for
    glazed rainbow carrots.

     

    In picking up supplies for our “diet Oscars menu,” we came across rainbow baby carrots—our first sighting—and rainbow cherry tomatoes, which have been available in our market for a few years.

    Although we’re months from peak produce season, it got us thinking of how delightful it is to come across a familiar food with a fun twist. Most of the veggies below are natural mutations (as was red grapefruit and many other foods); some are cross-bred; none are GMO.

    It’s not just about fun; there are nutritional benefits as well. Colored foods tend to be more antioxidant rich than pale and white foods. For example, orange cauliflower contains high levels of beta-carotene; purple cauliflower contains anthocyanin, an antioxidant that gives purple color to a variety of foods, including red cabbage and red onions. Green cauliflower just happens to have more protein than the other colors.

    So today’s tip is: Keep an eye out and treat yourself to whatever is new and different. Grocers know that customers want new options, so even if there’s no farmers market near you, keep looking.

    Then tell us what you found, and how you served it.

     

  • Bell peppers: Beyond the familiar green and red are black (purplish), orange, yellow and white bell peppers (photo). They all start out green, and ripen into the rainbow colors.
  • Colored cauliflower: Green, orange and purple cauliflowers are natural mutants of white cauliflower (which itself was bred to be whiter). Green cauliflower, also called broccoflower, has a lighter green cousin.
  • Romanesco: Also called Romanesque cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli and Romanesque cabbage, there’s a reason for the different names. Professional plant taxonomists can’t decide precisely where this exotic beauty belongs. A natural vegetable first discovered in Italy, it is one of the most beautiful vegetables imaginable (here’s a photo).
  • Eggplant: Beyond the familiar dark purple, also grows green (Thai eggplant), lavender, orange (Ethiopian, scarlet or Turkish eggplant), pink, and striped purple and white (graffiti eggplant) and white eggplant. The lighter colored eggplants tend to be less bitterness than the dark purple.
  •  

  • Purple green beans: These are a mutation where the skin of a regular green been grows violet. Alas, they are only purple when raw; cooking engenders the familiar green skin. But they sure are impressive crudités! (Photo and more information.) And don’t forget the yellow wax beans. A mix of green and yellow is interesting, and much more available.
  • Rainbow baby carrots: Shown in the photo above; the original carrot was white, like a turnip. The other colors—orange, purple, red, yellow—were mutants. Here’s the story.
  • Red leaf lettuce: There are quite a few varieties of red lettuce. Two of our favorites for “prettiest” are red fire lettuce (scroll past the green lettuce) and the beautifully spotted freckles lettuce.
  • Sweet red corn: Look for it during the summer corn season. (Photo.)
  • Swiss chard: Long familiar in green with red accents, check farmers markets to find it in vivid orange, pink, purple, yellow and white. (Photo.)
  • Tomatoes: Anyone who has visited a farmers market has seen the lush colors beyond red: brown, green, orange, purple, striped, yellow, white.
  •  

    multicolored-cherry-tomatoes-diannefritzpinterest-230s

    Cherry tomatoes photo courtesy Dianne Fritz.

     
    Isn’t nature grand?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The “Diet” Oscar Party

    everything-crudites-kalviste-230

    We especially like Tribe hummus with
    toppings—although you can always add your
    own toppings
    to plain hummus. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    “What are you serving for the Oscars?” ask our friends.

    Last year it was a high-calorie gourmet feast, including rich appetizers, duck lasagna with a flight of wines, a cheese plate and a choice of four desserts (cream cheese-frosted cupcakes, Grand Marnier brownies, hazelnut shortbread and tropical fruit salad), followed by several liqueurs sent to THE NIBBLE for tasting.

    The only healthful, moderate-calorie dish of the evening was the fruit salad.

    This year, as we thought about sitting down and eating over four hours, our New Year’s resolution angel popped up and said: “Do you think all those trim stars eat lasagna and cupcakes? Make this year the “healthy Oscars!”

    Point taken! We planned to buy some of the ingredients already prepared, as we won’t have the time to do everything from scratch as we did last year.

    Here’s our lower calorie, better-for-you menu for this year’s Academy Awards:

     
    BEVERAGES

  • Diet sangria: a blend of red wine, diet orange soda, fresh fruit and a touch of Grand Marnier.
  • Flavored and plain club sodas: individually customized with lemon and lime wedges and an assortment of flavored bitters.
  • Wine spriters: diluting both the calories and the alcohol impact.
  • After-dinner coffee or espresso: from our Keurig and Nespresso machines, which make it easy to provide different strengths, flavors and decaf.
  •  
    MUNCHIES

  • Crudités: a colorful, flavorful, tempting selection. The best thing to fill up on is raw veggies!
  • Dips: nonfat Greek yogurt with herbs and garlic and three different flavors of hummus with toppings (we especially like Tribe Natural’s Mediterranean Style, Spicy Red Pepper and Zesty Spice & Garlic). Here’s how to add your own toppings to plain hummus.
  • Seafood: One of our friends, whose family owns restaurants, is bringing a large plat de mer—what a luxury! Otherwise, we’d have gotten a sushi platter.
  •  

    MAIN MEAL

  • Salad bar: a build-your-own dinner salad with two lettuce options, salad vegetables, beans, lentils, olives, capers, gherkins, grilled chicken (Perdue Short Cuts) and chipotle-flavored tuna (Bumble Bee).
  • “Salad pizza”: Our local gourmet pizzeria makes a “salad pizza”—10 vegetables on whole wheat dough. If anyone is still hungry, we’ll order one.
  •  
    DESSERT

  • Fruit salad: five or six different fruits, depending on what looks good in the market on Saturday.
  • Micro cupcakes: one guest is bringing an assortment from Baked By Melissa, a New York City chain that makes many flavors of bite-sized cupcakes. Tthe size of a quarter, they’re about 50 calories each. The goal is to eat just one.
  •  
    Even if everyone leaves stuffed, they’ll be stuffed with good-for-you foods.

     

    plateau-de-fruits-de-mer-artisanal-230

    A wonderful contribution to our “Diet Oscars” party. This plat de mer is courtesy Artisanal Restaurant | NYC.

     

      

    Comments

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