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

Archive for Giftable

PRODUCT: Grow Your Own Tea

If you live in hardiness zones 8-10—the southern United States—and have a spot with full sun, you can grow your own tea with plants from Burpee.

One individual commenting on the Burpee website had success in Zone 6.

Here’s the USDA map of hardiness zones.

Tea, Camellia sinensis, is a perennial plant. The same plant yields black, green and white tea. The difference is in the processing; basically, how much heat is applied to dry the leaves.

At $16.95 per plant, it’s a fun opportunity to grow what you drink; and if you have younger children, a nifty project.

You harvest and dry the tea leaves in a wok or pan.

Buy the plants now and harvest them in the fall. Send some as gifts to tea-loving friends with green thumbs. Here’s where to order.

Different states have particular shipping restrictions. For example, you can’t ship lemongrass plants to California or Colorado, or potato plants to Florida or Montana.

Check here to see if tea plants can be shipped to your state.
 
 
PREFER HERBAL TEA?

Herbs can be grown anywhere! Read our article on growing herbal tea at home.
 
 
TEA TIME: TIME TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TEA

A Year Of Tea Party Ideas

Black Vs. Green Vs. White Tea

Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Tea

Have An Iced Tea Party

The History Of Tea

Pairing Tea With Food

Tea Glossary: All The Tea Terms You Need To Know

 

Grow Your Own Tea
Grow it.

Cup Of Tea
Drink it.

Cup Of Green Tea

Enjoy it! (Photo #1 courtesy Burpee, photo #2 courtesy Chateau Rouge Fine Foods, photo #3 courtesy Republic Of Tea._

 

  

Comments off

PRODUCT: A New Manual Coffee Grinder

Everything is cyclical, even mundane household appliances like the coffee grinder.

In centuries past, coffee beans were ground manually. Depending on your age, your great-grandmother ground beans in a rectangular wood or metal mill (or combination)
with a ceramic burr. The grains fell into a drawer underneath the mechanism.

But technology marches on: first to pre-ground coffee from supermarket brands, and then, by having your beans freshly ground at the market.

By the early 1970s, the movement to buying premium beans from different terroirs around the world had begun. Shops sprang up* that sold only beans. A cup of coffee was no longer just a cup of coffee.

The first electric grinder was invented in 1930, but was cumbersome and shortly discontinued. In the 1950s and 1960s, a new generation of engineers took up the challenge [source]. Slowly, they made their way across Europe, and then across the pond.

By the 1980s, most households that ground their beans at home had moved on to the new, small electric grinders that ground the beans with stainless steel blades. The result was quicker ground coffee with little or no no effort.

But purists complained that the friction and waste heat from the motor impacted the flavor. Some of them stuck with the manual mill and ceramic burr, which has never gone out of style. And commercial use grinders use only ceramic burrs, never metal blades.

There’s more coffee grinder history below. But since everything old is new again, we’d like to present old-school grinding technology with a new-school upgrade.

THE NEW BIALETTI HAND-GRINDER WITH A CERAMIC BURR

The Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder (photo #1) incorporates an easy-to-adjust ceramic burr grinder designed to utilize less effort, while creating more output (46%-165% depending on the coarseness of the grind).

A conical ceramic burr grinder crushes whole coffee beans into the desired coarseness, achieved with an easy-to-adjust wheel.

  • There are measurement markings on the bottom chamber that indicate the amount of grounds needed for a coarse, medium, fine, and ultra-fine, and for use in a coffee press, pour over, moka pot and ibrik (Turkish brew pot).
  • The grinder also has a silicone grip for secure handling.
     
    If you’re a coffee purist—or you need to buy a gift for one—Bialetti’s Manual Coffee Grinder is available at Target stores nationwide for an MSRP of $39.99; and at Amazon for $35.57.

     
    COFFEE GRINDER HISTORY

    In Ethiopia, people have been consuming coffee since around 800 C.E. Today, almost half of Ethiopians the people work in the trade; most coffee grown by small farmers.

    The legend has that around 800 C.E., an Ethiopian goatherd, Kaldi, noticed his goats dancing with energy after nibbling the red fruit from plants they found on the slopes where he took them to graze.

  •  

    Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder
    [1] The new manual Bialetti coffee grinder (photo Bialetti).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [2] A Turkish coffee grinder (photo Turkish Coffee World).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [3] An old wood and brass grinder (photo © Kean Eng Chan | Flickr).

     
    We don’t know if there was a Kaldi; but someone first gathered the beans and brought them back to his village, where the people were equally enthusiastic. A trade in coffee beans began and spread throughout Ethiopia.

    Eating The Coffee Beans

    The beans—actually they’re cherries with the beans inside—were first chewed for energy.

    Some time later, when monks got hold of beans, they began experimenting with them, first creating a coffee-derived wine.

    In fact, the word coffee derives from the Arabic qahwah, a type of wine, which became kahve in Turkish, then koffie in Dutch. “Coffee” entered the English language in 1582, via Dutch.

    Long before there was anything we’d recognize as a cup of hot coffee, Ethiopians would crush up the fresh berries and wrap them with fat, possibly as an energy food.

    The cherry fruit was eaten fresh or dried; but while looking for other uses, the seeds (what we know as the coffee beans) were pulverized in a mortar and pestle of stone or wood, then cooked or roasted.

    By the 14th century, coffee beans reached the city of Harrar, the center of trade for Ethiopia. From there it traveled to Mocca, the trading port of Yemen in the 14th century, then up through the Ottoman Empire and on to Europe.

    In the 17th an 18th centuries, Dutch, French and British traders introduced coffee throughout the world.

    The First Coffee Grinders

    The first grinding technique for coffee comprised pulverizing the beans with a mortar and pestle made of stone or wood.

    The mill itself is much older than the coffee trade. It was developed by the Greeks around 1350 B.C.E., to crush a substance (grains, e.g.) down into a fine powder.

    It took a while, but he first spice grinder was invented in the 15th century in Persia or Turkey. Like a tall, slender brass pepper mill, it also was used to grind coffee beans [source].
     
     
    ARE YOU A COFFEE LOVER?

    Take a look at our:

  • Coffee Glossary
  • Espresso Glossary
  • ________________

    *If coffee connoisseurs were lucky, they lived in a town with a specialty coffee shop, with loose beans and packaged coffee from around the world. We were lucky: We lived in New York City, which had McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, established in 1895. It’s still located at 109 Christopher Street in the West Village (and still not open on Sundays).

      

    Comments off

    PRODUCTS: Favorite Gifts For Father’s Day

    Are you old enough to remember when a Father’s Day gift meant a new tie? Today, how many dads even wear a tie most days?

    Here are five items that most dads would much rather have.

    CASA NOBLE TEQUILA

    We discovered our favorite tequila last fall, when we had the privilege of tasting every expression. You can see our review, but the bottom line is: This tequila is so fine that even the blanco (silver) can be sipped straight.

    There are the five standard expressions: Blanco, Joven, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo.

    There are also rare, older expressions like Casa Noble’s Alta Belleza: Only 563 bottles were made for the world market, at $1,200 per bottle.

    But you can treat a tequila-loving dad to a bottle of this great tequila starting at less than $40 for the blanco.

    Our review includes a cheese pairing for the different expressions.

    Here’s the Casa Noble website.
     
     
    MAGNUM HIGHLAND CREAM LIQUEUR

    We’ve been fans of Irish cream liqueur since Bailey’s was first imported to the U.S. Now, Scotch drinkers have t heir own cream liqueur: Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur. A blending fine Speyside Scotch malt whisky with rich cream from Holland (the ancestral home of Holstein black and white dairy cows), we highly recommend it for gifting as well as personal imbibing.

    It’s 34 proof (17% alcohol by volume), with an SRP of $27.99 per 750ml bottle. If you can’t find it locally, CraftSpiritsExchange.com will ship it nationally.

    Try it in an adult milkshake, or make an egg cream with Magnum, chocolate liqueur and soda water.
     
     
    THE MOZZARELLA COMPANY: PECAN MASCARPONE TORTA

    Mascarpone is a rich, creamy cheese made by heating heavy cream and then curdling it with an vinegar instead of rennet. It’s a first cousin to clotted cream. The Mozzarella Company makes four mascarpone torta, the newest of which is flavored with crushed pecan pralines.

    It is a wonderful dessert served with ginger snaps and strawberries; or stuffed into dates or dried apricots. The torta can dessert for two people; maybe four if you’ll settle for a small wedge.

    Other flavors, for appetizers or the salad course, are ancho chile, basil and tomato basil. The tortas are $12.95 each from the Mozzarella Company.

    Mascarpone is the fresh cheese used in tiramisu. Here’s more about mascarpone.

       

    Casa Noble Tequila Blanco

    Magnum Cream Liqueur

    Pecan Praline Torta, Mozzarella Company

    [1] Casa Noble Tequila. [2] Magnum Highland Cream Liqueur. [3] Mozzarella Company’s Pecan Praline Torta (photos courtesy of their respective brands).

     

    Sansaire Sous Vide Machine

    Scrappy's Artisan Bitters

    [4] The Sansaire sous vide machine cooks in your own pot. [5] Scrappy’s artisan bitters for cocktails and mocktails (photos courtesy their respective brands).

     

    SANSAIRE SOUS VIDE

    You don’t have to be a gourmet cook to love sous vide cooking, an easy way to prepare everyday recipes as well as fancy ones. The sous vide technique was developed in France to easily cook fine meals on trains, many portions at a time. Sous vide guarantees, for example, that a steak or piece of fish will turn out exactly as the client wishes. The quality of the food it produced attracted fine French chefs and caterers.

    Sous vide machines quickly appeared in some of the world’s best restaurants. And now, you can have one at home.

    The benefit of Sansaire is that it cooks food in the pots you already have; it’s not a bulky countertop machine. Its in the $168 range. Here’s more information.
     
     
    SCRAPPY’S: COCKTAIL BITTERS SET

    Bitters can add interest to simple drinks like a vodka tonic or balance the sour and sweet flavors of sours and fizzes.

    They’re essential ingredients in cocktails such as the Manhattan, Negroni, Rob Roy, Rum Sizzle, Sazerac and Singapore Sling. But modern mixologists have been using new varieties of artisan cocktails to create new flavors in their drinks.

    Bitters are non-alcoholic essences extracted from aromatic barks, flowers, fruits, herbs and root. For most of their existence, they have been made for botanicals known for their medicinal properties (that long before alcohol was a leisure drink, it was used as medicine).

    With the boom in artisan bitters over the last 20 years, they are now being made in flavors that have no root in homeopathy, but give great flavor accents to cocktails:

    Aztec chocolate, black walnut, blood orange, cardamom, celery, cherry, chocolate, cranberry, cucumber, fig and cinnamon, grapefruit, habanero, lavender, lemon, mint, peach, rhubarb and others.

     
    Whether you’re making a dry Martini or a Cosmopolitan, a splash of bitters provides a note of sophistication.

    For mocktails, add them to club soda.

    And try the latest use for bitters: add them to coffee, hot and iced.

    The eight-flavor set shown, from Scrappy’s Bitters, is $38.99 for eight flavors.

    For a set of 12 flavors from Fee Brothers is $99.90.

    Individual bottles can be purchased in the $8-$13 range.

      

    Comments off

    PRODUCT: Red, White & Blue Champagne

    Chandon, Moet et Chandon’s sparkling wine from Napa Valley, has been issuing a limited-edition red, white and blue bottle of its brut sparkling wine for the past six years; a different design each year.

    Founded in 1973 by venerable French champagne house Moët & Chandon, Chandon was the first American sparkling wine venture established by a French Champagne house in Napa Valley. Its Napa Valley vineyard holdings, Chandon grows the traditional French champagne grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

    They also create limited-edition bottles for New Year’s Eve; but let’s get back to the red, white and blue.

    The bottles of Chandon Brut in American flag colors bottle was so popular, that three years ago the winery launched a companion bottle of Chandon Rosé.

    If you’re pouring bubbly over Memorial Day and Independence Day weekends, these peak-chic bottles are the ones to pour.

    It’s the same delicious Chandon Brut and Rosé, in standard sizes and minis—the latter a festive party favor.

    The bottles, officially called the American Summer Limited Edition, are available Memorial Day through Labor Day at select retailers.

    If your wine and liquor store doesn’t carry them, they can order them for you by the case. You can purchase them at Chandon.com as well.

  • Limited Edition Brut Classic Summer 2017 is $26.00/750 ml bottle, $310/case. Minis (quarter bottles) are $8/bottle, $192/case.
  • Limited Edition Rosé Summer 2017 is $28.00/50 ml bottle, $336/case. Minis are $9/bottle, $262/case.
  •  
    WHY IS ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE MORE EXPENSIVE?

    Whether from Champagne or another region of the world that produces sparkling wines*, sparkling rosé champagne is typically more expensive than sparkling white wine.

    That’s because making it is more labor-intensive and time-consuming.

    There are two ways to make rosé champagne. We’ll start off with the fact that there are two main wine grapes grown in the Champagne region: chardonnay (white grapes) and pinot noir (black grapes†). Champagne can be made from:

  • All white grapes, called blanc de blanc (meaning, white wine [champagne] from white grapes), made from chardonnay grapes and possibly some blending grapes. Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs is an example (here are more). “Blanc de blancs” will be on the label.
  • All red/black grapes, called blanc de noirs, made from pinot noir and/or pinot meunier grapes. The term means literally “white of blacks,” a white wine made from black grapes), These are more limited and more costly. Examples include Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises Blanc de Noirs and Krug Clos d’Ambonnay (here are others). Here are others.
  • A combination. Most champagnes are a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir.
  •  
    How Sparkling Rosé Is Made

    Making a rosé takes extra steps. The most common method in the Champagne region is to blend still red wine into the champagne. The red wine produces deeper, more robust red fruit aromas.

    The other approach, used by the top houses, is more complicated and more costly. During the part of the juice fermentation called maceration, the winemaker allows skin contact of the red grape skins, with the pressed white juice.

     

    July 4th Champagne

    Moet et Chandon Champagne

    Rose Champagne Flutes

    [1] Chandon’s 2017 American Summer Limited Edition sparkling wines (photo courtesy Chandon). [2] Moet and Chandon, the famed French champagne, planted its grape vines in Napa Valley to produce Chandon. [3] Rosé bubbly adds even more festiveness (photo Jacek Kadaj | Fotolia).

     
    The process is very carefully monitored to extract the color, tannin and flavor compounds from the skin. It produces a more delicate flavor than blending in red wine.

    (Champagne trivia: The coveted pale salmon color known as oeil-de-perdrix, partridge eye, which dates to the Middle Ages in Champagne. It gave its name to a style of rosé wine made in Switzerland. Here’s more information.)

    Champagne houses pride themselves a consistent house style. The challenge with either approach to making rosé champagne is to create the same color year after year, even though the blend of grapes changes based on the harvest (i.e., the sweetness and other properties of the harvested grapes).

    But…back to summer sipping: A sparkling wine lighter than champagne is best in the outdoor heat. Here are the different types of sparkling wine and sparkling rosé.

    ________________
    *Legally, only sparkling wine produced in the French region of Champagne can be called champagne. Everything else is properly called sparkling wine.

    †Red wine grapes are referred to as black in the industry. Depending on varietal, they can range from dark red to purplish black in color.

    ‡By law, arbane, petit meslier, pinot blanc and pinot gris can also be used in the blend. Some producers use them to round out the flavors; but these grapes comprise just a fraction of the the grapes grown in the region.

      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Salad In A Wine Glass

    Tumbler Salad

    Riedel O Red Wine Tumbler

    Yogurt Parfaits

    Classic Layered Salad

    Avocado Layered Salad

    [1] A beautiful layered salad in a wine tumbler (photo courtesy Riedel Japan). [2] Riedel’s O series tumbler for red wine (photo courtesy Riedel). [3] How many different ways can you use them? See our list (photo Riedel | Facebook). [4] A classic layered salad (photo courtesy Kraft). [5] The most recent layered salad trend: in a Mason jar (here’s the recipe from the California Avocado Commission).

     

    Yesterday’s tip was to use salad as a soup garnish.

    Today we’re taking a slightly different turn.

    Serve an elegant layered salad in (photo #1) a wine tumbler, like Riedel’s O Red Wine Tumbler (photo #2).

    In fact, when you’re not drinking wine from the tumblers, you can variously use them:
     
    At Breakfast

  • Fruit Salad
  • Juice or milk
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Yogurt and granola
  •  
    At Lunch

  • Salad
  • Soup
  • Dessert
  •  
    At Dinner

  • First course
  • Sides
  • Dessert
  •  
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WINE TUMBLER & A WINE GLASS?

    Like its entire line of fine glassware for wine and spirits, Riedel’s wine tumblers are sophisticated glassware engineered for different grape varietals, to deliver the maximum flavors and aromas. The shape of the bowl and mouth direct the wine to different areas of the palate.

    Now, to the stemmed wine glass that has been around for many centuries. It is meant to be held by the stem, not by the bowl.

    Stemware was created for elegance, so the heat from one’s hand didn’t warm the wine in the bowl, and so one’s sticky fingers didn’t leave grease marks on the glass.

    But, with the increasing casual that has developed over the last 30 years, few people know or care about etiquette, and most people hold their stemware by the bowl.

    If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em; so Riedel, the world’s greatest wine glass maker, decided to give people what they want: a bowl with no stem.

    The O Stemless Tumblers line did so well, that Riedel has added lines with etched designs and colored bottoms.

    They’re an affordable gift. Check out the choices at Amazon.

    THE HISTORY OF LAYERED SALAD

    Try as we did, we couldn’t find a detailed reference to layered salad before the 1970s. A 2000 article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel refers to a seven layer salad as a fat-laden salad that “helped give salads of the 1950s a bad name” [source].

    Ingredients are layered in a glass bowl, with the varied layer colors and textures providing eye appeal. Made for barbecues, parties, picnics, potlucks, it was/is assembled ahead of time and is easy to transport. It can feed a crowd, and was very popular with said crowd.

    The layers—as few or as many as the cook desires—commonly include:

  • Bacon or ham
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Green or red onions
  • Peas
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Tomatoes
  •  
    The original dressing may have been mayonnaise-based or a mayo-sour cream combination. Depending on the cook, bottled Italian or ranch dressing can be employed.

    Personally, we skip the shredded cheddar and use a mayo-sour cream-chunky blue cheese dressing.

     

     
      

    Comments off



    © Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.