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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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Archive for Fruits & Nuts

FOOD FUN: A New Kind Of Fruit Cake

Here’s a new take on fruit cake: a “layer cake” that’s made 100% from fresh fruit!

It’s the creation of Jessica from Pen N’ Paperflowers Studio & Design.

She made it as a birthday cake for a gluten-free friend. But we think it’s a dazzler for any occasion.

Want to make one of your own?

Here’s how Jessica made the “cake,” with step-by-step photos.



Photo courtesy Pen N’ Paperflowers Studio & Design.




TIP OF THE DAY: Melon With Herbs


Melon balls with tarragon. Photo courtesy
American Diabetes Association.


Today’s tip comes from Good Eggs, purveyors of the freshest local produce and other foods, with stores and delivery in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Francisco.


Tossing any variety of sweet melon with chopped herbs adds a flavor twist to the ordinary, say the folks at Good Eggs. Their suggestions:

  • Cantaloupe with lemon verbena
  • Honeydew with basil
  • Watermelon with dill
    We’d also suggest mint or tarragon with any melon.

    If you like heat, try a sprinkle of red chile flakes.



    Here are two NIBBLE tricks:

    If you get a melon that isn’t sweet, simply toss it with a light sprinkle of plus sugar or non-caloric sweetener.

    If the melon is too hard, cut it into cubes and store it in an airtight container. In a day or two, you may find that the texture has gotten a bit softer.


    1. PRESS the stem end; it should give slightly to the touch. But don’t let the stem end get soft; the melon will be over-ripe.

    2. SNIFF the stem end for slight aroma. An unripe melon has no aroma.

    3. CHECK the natural netting on the rind. It should have a yellow-orange hue, not green.



    The rind of a honeydew is much thicker than a cantaloupe, so the “press” trick doesn’t work.

    1. SNIFF for a sweet aroma.

    2. CHECK the rind for a golden color. Brown freckling on the rind is also an indication of a ripe honeydew. It actually can become sticky from the seepage of the natural sugars.

    Watermelon doesn’t ripen further once it has been picked. Instead, when buying a whole watermelon:

    1. TURN it over. The underside should have a creamy yellowish spot, not a greenish-white one. This is where it had contact with the ground as it ripened in the sun.

    2. COMPARE melons of the same size. Choose the heavier melon.



    Kalyn’s Kitchen flavored a fruit salad with fresh dill. Photo courtesy




    TIP OF THE DAY: Save Those Orange Peels


    Don’t toss the peel! Photo courtesy


    Some people prefer a banana, others an apple. Our go-to hand fruit is a bright, juicy orange. We eat enough of them to engender the question of how to repurpose the peel.

    Beyond zesting and making candied orange peel, we published a piece on what to do with leftover orange peels around the house.

    But with the arrival of warmer weather this spring, another use emerged. We found ourselves brewing lots of iced tea. One day, we were drinking a glass while peeling an orange.

    And then, like the apocryphal story of the boy with the chocolate running into the boy with peanut butter (voilà: peanut butter cups), we put the two together.

  • Brewing iced tea? Add the peels to steep with the hot water and tea. Result: a subtle orange flavor and aroma.
  • Drinking ready-made iced tea? Twist a piece of peel to release the oils and drop it into the glass. You can do the same with plain or sparkling water or a soft drink.
  • Not drinking anything at the moment? Freeze the peels until you need them.

    And of course, you can do the same with a cup of hot tea.

    Banana fans: Here’s what you can do with leftover banana peels.



    RECIPE: Grilled Cake & Fruit Kabobs

    A fun, and light, dessert. Photo courtesy


    If you’ve already got the grill fired, here’s an easy dessert courtesy of Yoplait: grilled angel food cake. Instead of a calorie-heavy sauce like caramel or chocolate, it uses fruit yogurt as a dip for the light and airy cake, along with tasty pieces of fruit.

    You can use pound cake or sponge cake instead of angel food cake. When peaches come into season, use peach slices; otherwise, double up on the strawberries or substitute another favorite fruit (banana chunks, blackberries, etc.).

    Prep time is 20 minutes.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup whole strawberries
  • 1 cup peach slices
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 container Yoplait Light white chocolate
    strawberry yogurt (or flavor of choice)
  • Preparation

    1. HEAT gas or charcoal grill. Arrange cake cubes, strawberries and peach slices alternately on eight 6-inch skewers.

    2. MIX sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle over kabobs.

    3. PLACE kabobs on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook kabobs about 2 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. Serve with yogurt dip.


    Kebab, variously spelled kebob, kebap, kabab or kabob (transliterated from the original Arabic), is a dish consisting of pieces of meat, fish and/or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit. In the Middle East, however, kebab refers specifically to meat that is cooked over the flames.

    The traditional meat for kebab is lamb, but depending on local tastes, beef, chicken, fish/seafood, goat and pork are skewered and grilled. In America, vegetarian kabobs are also popular, with or without cubes of tofu.

    The dish originated in the Middle East and spread worldwide. The concept is very old: Excavations on the Greek island of Santorini unearthed firedogs—vertical stone slabs that hold the skewers over the fire—that date to before the 17th century B.C.E.

    In America, the term “kebab” has been adopted to describe any food on a skewer.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sunshine Raspberries


    Double Gold raspberries, sold as Sunshine
    Raspberries by Driscoll’s. Photo courtesy


    Grocers have the same challenge as other retailers: how to catch the eye of consumers with something new, and get them to spend more money.

    Seeking to sell more to grocers, browers are always on the prowl for new produce varieties, with distinctive flavor and a different look from conventional supermarket varieties.

    So today’s tip is: Be on the prowl for what’s new and exciting.

    In the raspberry department, what’s new is Double Gold raspberries. A cross-breeding of conventional red and the newer gold raspberries, Double Golds have a deep blush color, combining hues of both red and yellow into a peach-like effect, and a distinctive conical shape.

    The berries are naturally bred, never genetically modified or subjected to irradiation.

    As befitting their parentage, Double Golds—called Sunshine Raspberries by a major grower and distributor, Driscoll’s—have a unique flavor of their own—different from both the red raspberry and the golden raspberry, but still an obvious member of the family.

    Said Courtney Weber, a Cornell University small fruits breeder and associate professor of horticulture, “If consumers get a taste of these, they will buy them.”


    The variety was released to growers by Cornell, where it was bred, two years ago. The Double Gold plants bear deeply blushed, golden champagne-colored fruit in two crops per season (hence the “double” in the name). New to the retail marketplace, they are being sold under the Driscoll’s label as Sunshine Raspberries.

    The plants have also been sold to u-pick growers, farm stands and home gardeners. You can buy the plants from

    Imagine a bowl of the three different colors of strawberries, sparkling like jewels. Or, top pound cake, angel cake or sorbet.

    It’s a treat for summer entertaining!



    Here’s how they look at the grocer’s. Photo courtesy Fresh Direct.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinco De Mayo Strawberries


    Fresh strawberries dressed up for Cinco de
    Mayo. Photo courtesy Harvard Treat


    This Cinco de Mayo treat from Harvard Sweet Boutique inspired today’s tip.

    For snacks or desserts, dip fresh strawberries in melted chocolate and decorate in festive colors: aqua, pink, purple or lavender and yellow, for example.

    Start with this easy recipe for chocolate-dipped fruit.

    Then use decorator icing to pipe squiggles and dots

    You can also tint white chocolate pink with food color, and use colored sanding sugar (recipe).




  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • Food color

    1. SIFT together sugar and cream of tartar.

    2. BEAT in 4 beaten egg whites with an electric mixer. Beat for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape.

    3. DIVIDE the icing and tint with desired food colors.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The Ataulfo Mango (Champagne Mango)


    The Ataulfo, or Champagne, mango. Photo


    When you think of mangoes, you may think of the familiar reddish-green mangos, and wonder about the petite golden yellow ones that some people call baby mangoes.

    They’re Ataulfo mangos from Mexico, also commonly called Champagne mangoes, and they’re in season now.

    Mango lovers prefer them to the more prevalent Tommy Atkins cultivar (the red-green ones in the photo below). Their buttery flesh is not fibrous, and their thin pit makes them easier to slice and dice than other varieties.

    The Ataulfo—it was found in a conventional mango grove owned by Mr. Ataulfo Morales—goes by several other names as well: Adaulfo, Adolfo, baby, honey and yellow mango. It is closely related to the Alphonso variety popular in India.


    Mangoes deliver sumptuous tropical flavor with easy calories.

  • One cup of mango is just 100 calories, fat free, sodium free and cholesterol free.
  • Mangos contain more than 20 different vitamins and minerals. One cup provides 100% DV of vitamin C, 35% of vitamin A, 20% of folate, 12% of fiber and good amounts of B6, copper, K and potassium.
    Believed to be native to India, mango trees have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. The different cultivars come in a rainbow of reds, yellows, oranges and greens and a wide variety of shape, flavor, texture and aroma.

    Our favorite way to eat mango is with a knife and fork, as a delicious fruit snack or dessert (note that the skin can cause stomach irritation, so should not be eaten). Second place goes to mango sorbet.

    But use mango however you would use peaches or pineapples—the two fruits to which mango’s flavor is compared.

  • Beverages: Daiquiri, Margarita, shake with mango sorbet or ice cream, smoothie
  • Breads: muffins and fruit breads
  • Condiments: chutney and salsa
  • Desserts: cobbler, fruit salad, grilled fruit, ice cream or sorbet, pie, pudding, tart, tartlet
  • Fruit Soup: mango gazpacho
  • Mains: poultry, pork, seafood
  • Salads: green salad, shrimp salad

  • Asian Fruit Salad With Pernod (recipe)
  • Blueberry Mango Cobbler (recipe)
  • Halibut With Mango-Blood Orange Salsa (recipe)
  • Ice Cream With Grilled Mango (recipe)
  • Orange Blossom Waffles With Mangoes & Nutmeg Cream (recipe)
  • Salmon with Cherry Mango Salsa (recipe)
    Find many more recipes at



  • Peel the skin from the flesh with a small, sharp knife.
  • There is a long pit that runs down the center of the length of the fruit. Cut the mango lengthwise down the side of pit to free the first half (called a cheek). Do the same with the other half.
  • Dice or slice the flesh as you wish.
  • We nibble the remaining fruit on the pit in thin slices, although it can be used in sauces or pudding.
    There’s a second slicing technique that produces the “hedgehog”-like diced effect in the photo above:

  • Without peeling, cut the fruit from the cheeks, using the technique above.
  • Score the flesh into squares, about 1/2- to 3/4-inch in size, cutting up to, but not through, the skin.


    The Tommy Atkins mango is the most commonly available in the U.S., due to its hardiness. Photo courtesy National Mango Board.

  • Gently push the mango cheek inside out, which pushes the cubes up and apart.
  • Cut the cubes from the skin to serve, or cut and eat cubes from a mango half with a knife and fork.
    Peeled and cut fruit will hold at least three days in the fridge, in an airtight container. The flesh may darken a bit, but the flavor changes only slightly. You can tell by the aroma when the time to enjoy it has passed.

    Mangoes need to ripen in a warm room. To speed ripening, you can place them in a paper bag.

    Color is not the best way to determine ripeness. Instead, touch and smell: A ripe mango will have a fruity aroma and the flesh will yield to gentle pressure. Unripe mangoes have no scent.

    Ripe mangoes can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The peeled flesh can be dried, frozen, puréed or stewed.

    Ataulfo mangos have only recently gained popularity in the United States, but have been a major crop in Mexico for decades. In season between March and September, they are the second-most popular variety of mango sold in the U.S., behind the Tommy Atkins cultivar.

    And here’s the big tip of the day: The most prevalent mango, the Tommy Atkins, is not considered to be the choicest mango in terms of sweetness and flavor. Retailers prefer it for its very long shelf life and ability to be handled with little or no bruising, which is why it’s the mango offered first and foremost. [Source: Wikipedia]

    So go for the gold: Bring home some Ataulfos and taste the difference.

    The other less common mango varieties found in the U.S. include the Haden and Kent, which appear along with the and Ataulfo and the Tommy Atkins in spring and summer; and the orange and green Keitt from Australia, which comes from Australia in the fall (and has a lemony note to the flesh).

    Many people attest that mangoes taste best right off the tree, fresh and succulent. So if you’re in Florida, Mexico or other mango haven, see if you can seek out the experience, called by one expert “a taste experience you’ll never forget.”



    FOOD FUN: Pineberry

    Pineberries are a cultivar of strawberries that actually have a sweet pineapple taste and aroma—thus inspiring the “pine” in the name. While they are very pretty, delicious and aromatic, you may never have seen them because they are also delicate, fragile and very limited in their growing season—which is now.

    The small strawberries (from 1/2 inch to less than an inch in diameter), which are white and covered with red seeds (achenes), have the same genetic make-up as the common strawberry.

    Pineberries are available for a brief 4-5 week season beginning in April. The question is: Where can you get them? This most special of strawberries is only grown in Holland.

    If you’re in England, head to Waitrose, the upscale supermarket chain, where they will fly off the shelves.

    According to Waitrose, the berry originated in South America as a wild variety of strawberry. It was threatened with extinction because it has a low yield per plant and smaller sized berries. Seven years ago, when Dutch farmers began growing it on a commercial level in greenhouses. They begin life as green berries (like regular strawberries), then become slightly white instead of red.



    Pineberries are tiny cultivars of the common strawberry. Photo courtesy Waitrose.



    This recipe is from Icons Colours Of Taste.


    Use them as you would any strawberry—a dessert garnish, a cupcake topping, They are a feast for the eye, so it would be a shame to blend them into smoothies.

    “As the summer unfolds we won’t be surprised to hear that our customers are inviting their friends over for pineberry pavlovas, punch or serving them up with yoghurt, ice cream or heavy cream whipped cream for a lighter alternative.”


    The strawberry is the only fruit to carry its seeds on the outside.

    There are 200 seeds on the average strawberry. Each of these seeds has the genetic potential to become a new variety of strawberry since no two seeds are the same. This is how plant breeders develop new varieties of strawberries.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Blood Oranges


    A blood orange can be thing of beauty. Photo
    of the Moro variety courtesy


    Blood orange season is upon us. Blood oranges can be a thrill (sweet and luscious) or a disappointment (bland), depending on the grower’s rootstock, the climate and the season. You never know what you’re going to get, but the upside is so wonderful that you’ve got to try.

    The hue of a blood orange can range from pink to rose red to deep purple. The most dramatic have “blood”-colored crimson and purple flesh. (There are even “blonde” blood oranges which have orange flesh like regular oranges, but a have blood orange flavor.)

    The peel may look like a regular orange or feature telltale washes of red. The skin may be smooth or pitted. While it looks like the more acidic Valencia orange on the outside, the blood orange flesh is sweet with less acid, like a navel orange.

    Each variety has a different climate preference, and produces different hues, sizes and flavors based on the climate, temperature and other factors that impact the coloration and flavor intensity. California blood oranges have more pigmentation, Texas blood oranges tend to have less pigmentation, as do those from Florida, where the humidity limits the development of the pigment.

    The color is the result of the antioxidant anthocyanin,* not typically found in citrus, but common to other red fruits and flowers (it’s the same natural chemical that gives the color to pomegranates and roses).

    The flavor of a good blood orange will be “an orange kissed by a raspberry.”


    Blood oranges are believed to be a mutation of the sweet orange, that occurred in southern Italy around 1850.

    The blood orange was brought to the U.S. in the 1930s in the wave of Italian immigration. It now grows in California (November to May), Florida (October to January) and Texas (December to March).

    *Anthocyanin neutralizes the effects of free-radical chemicals that are believed to cause cancer and other ailments (diabetes, epilepsy, heart disease, liver disease and ulcers) plus the general impact of aging. Research shows that it fights and prevents cancerous tumors and ulcers, and improves vision. Blood oranges are also packed with high levels of carotene, dietary fiber, potassium and vitamin C.



    The three most popular cultivars (varieties) of blood orange the Moro, Sanguiello and Tarocco. If you can get information from your vendor, go for the Moro or the Tarocco.

  • The Moro blood orange, a recent introduction into the blood orange family, is grown in California and in Texas. It is the most colorful of the three types, with a deep purple flesh and reddish orange rind (see photo above). It has a sweet flavor with notes of raspberry that makes this variety sing—whether in recipes or as an eating fruit. It is well worth seeking out.
  • The Sanguinello blood orange, discovered in Spain in 1929, has a reddish skin, few seeds and a sweet and tender flesh.
  • The Tarocco blood orange, native to Italy, is a medium-sized fruit and is perhaps the sweetest and most flavorful of the three types. However, its internal reddish color varies widely and is unreliably red.
  • Ruby and Palestine Jaffa blood oranges can also be found in the U.S. Here are more details on blood orange varieties.


    A cocktail with blood orange juice. Photo courtesy The Rose Group.



    Our favorite way to enjoy blood oranges is as a hand fruit or a simple sorbet or granita. A glass of blood orange juice is also wonderful. When you have such a subtle, special flavor, you might not want to cover it up.

    However, here are a few recipes for those blessed with an abundance of blood oranges.

  • Blood Orange Cocktails
  • Blood Orange Vinaigrette with Roasted Beets And Goat Cheese
  • Blood Orange Chocolate Chunk Soufflé
  • Blood Orange Dessert Spaghetti
  • Blood Orange Dessert Sauce (great with cheesecake)
  • Blood Orange Granita Or Sorbet
  • Lamb Loin With Blood Orange Sauce
  • Pepita-Crusted Halibut With Blood Orange Jicama Chutney


    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Flaxseed Mill

    Here’s another way to add “instant nutrition” to your foods, with no more effort than it takes to grind pepper.

    In this case, you’re grinding flaxseed. Why?

    This superfood adds noteworthy nutrition to food (see the health benefits below), so much so that a growing number of consumers have been clamoring for it. An estimated 300 new products with flaxseed were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone (the last year for which data is available).

    Flaxseed is appearing in everything from crackers and breads to oatmeal and frozen waffles. The eggs that claim higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids come from chickens who eat flaxseed-enriched feed.

    At home, you can add freshly-ground flaxseed to just about anything: cereal, cottage cheese, dips, eggs, fish, meat and poultry, salad, smoothies, soup, yogurt. It’s easy to add to batter and dough: cakes, cookies, pancakes, pie crusts.



    Better nutrition is just a few grinds away. Photo courtesy Blossom.

    The flavor is subtle and nutty. The mill can be kept on the table, right next to the salt and pepper.

    You can use any mill or spice grinder to grind flaxseed for recipes; but the point of a separate flaxseed mill is to use it consistently as you sit down to eat.

    Plus, the ceramic grinder in the Blossom mill (shown in photo) is specifically calibrated to grind tiny seeds, like flaxseed and sesame seed. It’s $24.30 at

    Then, pick up whole flaxseed at any natural foods store or online.



    Buy whole flaxseed at natural food stores.
    Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.



    According to Web MD, flaxseed could be considered one of the most potent plant foods on the planet.

    An excellent source of protein, fiber and minerals such as magnesium and copper, its top three benefits are:

  • Fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities.
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects.
  • Studies show that flaxseed may help to reduce risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and diabetes. It’s also a great source of fiber.

    The tiny seed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 B.C.E.

    Flash-forward to the 8th century C.E.: King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. (Hmm…was there a brother-in-law in the flaxseed business?)

    It’s time for a flaxseed revival. King Charlemagne would be pleased.



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