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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 Giftable

GIFT: Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Cheesecake

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Delicious cheesecake, sugar-free and gluten-free. Photo courtesy Cinderella Cheesecake.

 

For a cheesecake-loving mother who has given up sugar, here’s a find: sugarless cheesecake from Cinderella Cheesecake Company.

It’s sweetened with maltitol, the finest-quality sugar substitute, and has a gluten-free cinnamon cracker crust.

The classic-style cheesecake recipe also includes cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, natural vanilla flavoring. It tastes just as it should: rich, creamy, wonderful. Sugar-free observers, rejoice!

Cinderella Cheesecake Company is a family-owned business founded in Riverside, New Jersey in 1965 with a broader product line. But by the early 1980s, the cheesecake business was so rocking that founder Alfred Rezende decided to drop the other baked goods to focus on expanding the cheesecake operation.

The company sells cheesecakes to distributors, restaurants and non-profit groups for fundraisers, as well as direct to consumers online.

 
In addition to the No Sugar Added cheesecake, the company makes conventional cheesecakes in Almond Amaretto, Egg Nog, Mango, Pineapple, Plain, Pumpkin, Sampler (two slices of each flavor), Southern Pecan, Washington Cherry and White Chocolate Peanut Butter.

All cheesecakes are eleven inches in diameter and precut into 16 slices. A four-pound cheesecake is $38.00. It freezes nicely.

Get yours at CinderellaCheesecakeCoInc.com.

 
  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Cheese

One of our favorite cheese experiences is truffle cheese. It provides all the pleasure of a shaved truffles dish at a fraction of the price. The cheese makers use bits and pieces that have fallen off the precious truffles during handling.

Truffle cheeses are typically made from a blend of cow’s milk and sheep’s milk or cow’s milk and goat’s milk. One of our favorites is made from only goat’s milk. Any truffle lover who tries these cheeses gets hooked.

If you can’t find the cheeses locally, you can get excellent-quality varieties from iGourmet.com, which sells individual cheeses plus a truffle cheese assortment.

Here are two we’ve been enjoying recently.

TRUFFLE TREMOR

Bloomy-rinded, semisoft Truffle Tremor, from California’s Cypress Grove Chevre, is imbued with truffle aroma and flavor, dotted with black Italian summer truffles (Tuber aestivum Vittadini) truffles throughout. Elegant and sophisticated, it is a luxurious table cheese.

Among its many awards over the years are First Place at the American Cheese Society Awards in 2014, First Place at the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest and the Super Gold at the 2014 World Cheese Awards.

It’s a perfect marriage of ripened goat cheese and truffles, delivering floral, herb and mushroom notes. Made 200 miles north of San Francisco, it’s an earth-shaking masterpiece.

   

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A slice of heaven: Truffle Tremor. Photo courtesy Cypress Grove Chevre.

 
Since its creation, Truffle Tremor was only made in a three-pound wheel; you’d buy a wedge—or the whole wheel for $75.00. Now, it’s also available in a one-pound mini ($25.00).

It’s available at many fine cheese stores, and online at CypressGroveChevre.com.

For Mother’s Day or other special dinner, we like to serve a slice of the cheese with a green salad (lightly tossed in vinaigrette), or with sweet accompaniments. For a Truffle Tremor dessert plate, for every eight ounces of cheese serve:

  • ½ cup candied ginger
  • ½ cup candied pecans
  • ½ cup candied orange peel (recipe)
  • Optional raisin or walnut bread
  • 1 bottle dessert wine or equivalent dessert beer
  •  
    Or, a simple drizzle of honey (how about truffle honey!) with slices of baguette will do nicely.
     
    Note For Connoisseurs

    Truffleur is another great, semisoft American truffle cheese, produced by Tumalo Farms in Oregon. This is another goat cheese, infused with native Oregon white truffles, then aged three to four months.

    It’s rare to find a white truffle cheese. The flavor and aroma are distinctively different from black truffles. Because the cheese is relatively mild, the truffle flavor really comes through at the finish—wonderful! Since it is made with the local truffle harvest, this cheese is seasonal, usually available only December through February. So mark your calendar.

    Semihard, in addition to the cheese plate it can be used to make a spectacular mac and cheese, or to melt atop a burger.

     

    fromager-d'affinois-truffle-wedge-cheesesoffrance-230

    Fromager d’affinois with Périgord truffles. Photo courtesy Fromagerie Guilloteau.

     

    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 through May.

    You can find it now 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. Learn more at FromagerDAffinois.com.
     
    HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR CHEESE

    These tips should be followed with all fine cheese:

    Forget the plastic wrap: Re-wrapping soft-ripened cheese in wax paper or parchment paper will allow the cheese to breath as it continues to ripen.

    Keep the cheese cold (33°-35°F) and remove from the fridge at least one hour before serving.

     

    BEER WINE PAIRINGS WITH TRUFFLE CHEESE

    These are the favorite pairings from the folks at Cypress Grove Chevre:

    Beers

  • Barleywine
  • Trippel
  •  
    White Wines

  • Gewürztraminer
  • Riesling
  •  
    Red Wines

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pinot Noir
  • Zinfandel
  •  
    Dessert Wines

  • Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine
  • Moscato
  • Port
  • Sweet Sherry
  •  
    ALL ABOUT TRUFFLES

    Check out our comprehensive article and glossary of the different truffle types.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: A Camera Lens Mug

    Here’s a special gift for a mom, dad or grad who’s into photography: This camera lens is actually a mug!

    Totally detailed, it looks and feels like the real thing and holds a hefty 15 ounces of beverage. The lens cap sip top doubles as a coaster or a dish for nibbles.

    A stainless steel lining keeps beverages warm longer (like a thermos), and the screw top lid (the lens cap) provides spill-free transporting. The lid’s sip-top slides and locks to prevent spills.

    The Camera Lens Travel Mug is $29.95 at WhatOnEarthCatalog.com.

    We promise: Everyone will ask where you got it.

     

    camera-lens-mug-whatonearthcatalog-230s

    Drink from the camera lens—it’s a mug! Photo courtesy What On Earth Catalog..

     

      

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    GIFT: Maille Mustard Collection

    maille-4-jar-gift-box-230L

    A gourmet gift for a mustard lover. Photo
    courtesy Maille.

     

    A Maille mustard boutique opened near us recently. If you love mustard, make it a destination stop when you visit Dijon, London, Melbourne, New York, Paris or Sydney.

    They are meccas for lovers of fine mustard, as well as gherkins, vinegars and vinaigrettes. The thrill: tasting some 20 different mustards, all so delicious from the spoon that we could have devoured an entire jar.

    Established in 1747* in Paris, Maille (pronounced MY) is known worldwide for its sublime mustards and vinegars. From the outset, the company supplied the kings of France and other monarchs, including England and Russia.

    The brown mustard seeds are grown in the heart of Burgundy, and most of the mustards are made with white wine. Some are smooth, some are whole grain (delightfully chewy!).

    Each year, the product team explores new combinations of ingredients that achieve a complex taste profile and trending flavors.

    There are more than 30 mustard flavors, some seasonal specialties. You can purchase them individually or in preset gift boxes of four, six and nine varieties. The website currently sells:

  • Apricots And Curry Spices
  • Basil
  • Black Olive
  • Black Truffle
  • Blue Cheese
  • Candied Orange Peel And Ginger
  • Celeriac, Black Truffle
  • Chablis Mustard
  • Cognac
  • Dijon Blackcurrant Liqueur
  • Fig And Coriander
  • Fine Herbs
  • Gingerbread And Chestnut Honey
  • Hazenuts And Black Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Lemon And Garlic
  • Honey
  • Honey And Balsamic Vinegar
  • Lemon And Harissa
  • Mango And Thai Spices
  • Morel Mushroom And Chablis
  •  

  • Parmesan Cheese And Basil
  • Pesto and Arugula
  • Pistachio And Orange
  • Pleurote and Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Prune And Armagnac
  • Red Pepper And Garlic
  • Roasted Onions And Wild Thyme
  • Saffron And Crème Fraîche
  • Sauternes
  • Shallots, Chervil And Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Sun-dried Tomato And Espelette Pepper
  • Walnuts
  • White Wine Mustard
  • Wholegrain Chardonnay Mustard
  •  

    tasting-bar-230

    Grab a [disposable] spoon and dig in at the tasting bar. Photo courtesy Maille.

     
    After tasting the 15 or so mustards on the bar, it was hard to pick a favorite; but that day, it was Fig And Coriander, a whole grain mustard.

    Find all of the mustards online at Maille.com.

     
    MUSTARD GIFTS

    A special four jar mustard gift set in an elegant black box includes Dijon Blackcurrant, Morel Mushroom, Saffron and Isigny Crème Fraiche, and Cognac($40). Individual jars also are packaged in a black box.

    The boutiques also have six- and nine-jar sets, not yet on the website.

    If you get to a boutique location, you’ll be charmed by the mustards on tap. Served from old-fashioned ceramic pumps, a choice of three basic mustards and one seasonal specialty draws mustard into old-style stoneware jars with sealed with cork stoppers. Fans buy mustard by the jar and get frequent refills.

    If you’ve never thought mustard could be magical, head to Maille boutique. You’ll be hooked—and will have an ongoing choice of gifts for your foodie friends to use on everything from sandwiches to elegant recipes, of which there’s a selection on the website.
     
    *Since 2000, Maille has been owned by the Unilever Group.

      

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    MOTHER’S DAY: Wonder Woman Cups & Mugs

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    Enjoy your coffee with Wonder Woman. Photo courtesy Zak.com.

     

    Wonder Woman was blessed with a wide range of superhuman powers to help her fight the good fight. Many mortal woman do as much with their own skill sets.

    If you’re looking for a thank-you gift for Mother’s Day, how about a token of all the amazing things moms accomplish Pick something from Zak’s new Wonder Woman line:

  • Wonder Woman Coffee Cup (ceramic)
  • Wonder Woman Juice Glass (glass)
  • Wonder Woman Insulated Cup with Straw (high-quality plastic)
  • Wonder Woman Multi Purpose Plate (high-quality plastic)
  • Wonder Woman Travel Mug (high-quality plastic)
  • Wonder Woman Water Bottle (high-quality plastic)
  •  

    Prices are as low as $2.99 for a 10-ounce glass and $4.99 for a mug—affordable enough for party favors.

    Check out the whole line.

     
      

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    EASTER: Chocolate Gift Certificate

    Here’s an easy solution to a gift emergency: a chocolate e-gift certificate.

    If you’ve forgotten to bring a gift, or if you receive an unexpected gift and want to reciprocate, you don’t have to sneak out to the nearest store.

    Instead, sneak onto the Internet and send a gift certificate via email. It will be in the giftee’s email box in minutes.

    Chocomize.com sells ready-made and make-your-own chocolates. Our favorite is the customized chocolate bar, where you pick your chocolate (dark, milk or white) and up to five toppings—candies, fruits, nuts, spices and special decorations (crystallized flower petals, 24 karat gold flakes).

    There are more than 70 topping choices. Special Easter toppings include caramel “quail eggs,” carrot cake candy corn, peanut butter speckled eggs and a white chocolate “Happy Easter” plaque.

    Jelly beans are available year-round—along with Junior Mints, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, Oreo pieces, Pop Rocks, Reese’s Pieces, toffee bits and much more.

    Head to Chocomize.com.

     

    chocomize-easter-egg-boxed-230

    A candy-covered hollow chocolate Easter egg with two chocolate truffles hidden inside.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Ready To Eat Cookie Dough

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    Get a spoon and dig in! Photo courtesy
    GoDairyFree.org.

     

    As many people who bake Toll House cookies know, the raw dough is as delicious as the baked cookies.

    Some people, wanting to eat the raw dough but not wanting to mix it, buy rolls of ready-to-bake chocolate chip cookie dough for that purpose.

    This led to a customer suggestion on the flavor suggestion board at the original Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop. The flavor was created and initially available only at that location, in Burlington, Vermont.

    Finally, in 1991, it was released to stores nationwide, to great success. It has remained one of the company’s Top 10 flavors. Last year it was #3; #1 was Half Baked, which combines cookie dough and brownie bits.

    But over the years, the dark side or raw dough raised its head:

    Raw eggs can contain salmonella, a bacterium that can cause serious illness. When cookie dough is baked the bacteria are killed.

     
    Commercial manufacturers of cookie dough and other products that incorporate uncooked eggs (Caesar salad, ice cream, mayonnaise and mousse, for example) began to use pasteurized eggs. (Be sure to check the package label for “pasteurized,” or ask your restaurant server to check with the kitchen.)

    At home, most cooks continue to use conventional eggs, and many of us continue to nibble on raw cake batter and cookie dough. If you want to do that, we implore you: Use pasteurized eggs.

    But now, Hampton Creek has created a refrigerated, dairy free, cholesterol free and allergy friendly cookie dough. It can be baked into vegan chocolate chip cookies (they’re kosher too, certified by KOF-K).

    But more importantly to us, it can be eaten as raw cookie dough, called Just Cookie Dough. It’s currently available in Chocolate Chip.
    Dough

     

    POLISHED OFF WITH GUSTO

    We received a sample of Chocolate Chip Just Cookie Dough—a riot of chocolate chips held together with a small amount of dough. We polished off the 14-ounce jar (MSRP $5.49) in two days of snacking.

    How did it taste? Very pleasing, if not as redolent of brown sugar and vanilla flavors as the Toll House Cookie dough we adore (the Just Cookie Dough chocolate chip recipe uses molasses instead of brown sugar).

    But we’ve certainly added it to our shopping list for those cookie dough fixes, and to make our own custom cookie dough ice cream.

    Just soften a pint of your favorite flavor and stir in small balls of cookie dough; return to the freezer to harden.

    The product is currently rolling out nationwide. Find a store locator on the company website, or phone 1.844.423.6637.

     

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    Americans love raw chocolate chip cookie dough. Photo courtesy Ben & Jerry’s.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Fries In A Cone

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    French fry fun at home. Photo courtesy Gibson Table Compliments.

     

    If you love eating fries from a metal cone, the way some restaurants serve them, here’s a fun item from Gibson Table Compliments.

    The four-piece French Fry Serving Set has metal coned with ceramic inserts, a drip-proof alternative to the paper liners used at restaurants. There are two dipping cups that attach to each cone as an optional way to serve condiments.

    Beyond French fries, you can use the cones to serve other veggie fries and fried foods like mozzarella sticks. In fact, you can serve anything in them, from breakfast cereal to an ice cream sundae.

    A set of four is $25.00 at Amazon.com. All parts are dishwasher safe.

    If you prefer butcher paper in your cone instead of ceramic, here’s a similar cone-only product.

    The white tissue liners are sold in packs of 2,000. If you’re going to load up, consider this version, printed to look like an English, French or Italian newspaper.

    Love them!

     
    Now for more fun:

    How many different types of French fries have you had? There are almost 30!

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Flying Meatballs

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    Six large meatballs are tucked under a
    blanket of smooth tomato sauce. Photo by
    Faith Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    There is a National Meatball Day: It’s coming up soon, on March 9th. And we know just how we’re going to celebrate: with lots and lots of The Flying Meatballs.

    The Flying Meatballs is a side business established by an elegant restaurant in Whippany, New Jersey, Il Capriccio. The restaurant’s meatballs have been a perennial menu favorite, with patrons always asking for orders to go.

    The Grande family, owners of the restaurant, decided that the meatballs were ideal for selling directly to consumers—that they would literally “fly off the shelves.” Hence the brand name.

    Made in small batches, the meatballs are now sold direct-to-consumers at TheFlyingMeatballs.com). They’ll also be at a growing list of deli counters, currently at Balducci’s and King’s (listen up, Fairway!).

    Six meatballs, blanketed in sauce, include a choice of:

  • The Classic Meatballs, a 50:50 blend of beef and veal, $16.00
  • 100% Premium Beef Meatballs, $15.00
  • Organic Grass-Fed Meatballs, $25.00
  • The Three Meats Meatballs—beef, pork and veal—$15.00
  • 100% Premium Turkey Meatballs, $15.00
  •  
    The company sent us a sample of each, and we’re now a raving fan. Each order of meatballs is packed by the half-dozen in a velvety tomato sauce. The meatballs are bit: about 3.5 ounces in weight and about three inches in diameter. Two meatballs is more than enough for adults; small eaters and children will do well with one meatball. A big eater, we consumed them without the conventional pasta or submarine roll, with just a big salad. We were more than satisfied.

    Everything is made from scratch, including the breadcrumbs. Just as at the restaurant, prime, natural cuts of meat and premium ingredients are combined into a dense yet tender texture. You get lots of great meat for the money.

    Chef Grande has a degree in engineering, which enabled him to design and build a proprietary meatball extruder. The technology creates a replicate a perfectly hand-rolled meatball, just like his grandmother makes.

    The meatballs are flash frozen after being made and keep their flavor and consistency until thawed and cooked.

    “We’re bringing the comforts of Nonna’s kitchen to customers’ doorsteps,” says chef Natale Grande. The recipe, handed down through generations, rocks. We must give a shout out to the wonderful sauce. A velvety purée, more a gravy than a conventional chunky sauce, it is so good we would like to buy buckets of it and put it on everything.

     

    DELICIOUS ACCOMPANIMENTS

    Pasta

    The company also sells premium imported pastas from Rustichella d’Abruzzo:

  • The curly al torchio (the torchio is the press that shapes them)
  • Bucatini, thick spaghetti with a hollow center
  • Casarecce, meaning “homestyle,” two-inch twists
  • Farro (spelt) penne rigate, short tubes with ridges
  • Fusilli, “little spindles,” a variation of corkscrew pasta
  • Spaghetti, the oldest cut (the name means “lengths of cords”)
  • Organic whole wheat spaghetti
  • Organic kamut pasta from pasta maker Gianluigi Peduzzi
  •  
    Grating Cheeses

    For a primo pasta experience, there’s a choice of six aged Italian cheeses:

     

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    Bundles of love. Photo courtesy The Flying Meatballs.

  • Vacche Rosse (“Red Cow”), 30 months aged), considered to be the finest Parmigiaino-Reggiano
  • Grana padano
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Percorino crotonese
  • Pecorino romano
  • Ricotta salata
  •  
    You can see that it’s not all about Parmigiano-Reggiano. The next time you make pasta, consider one of the others. Check out our article, Italian Grating Cheeses.
     
    Pasta Sauces

    The same is true with the sauce. Much as a tomato sauce is beloved on pasta, consider other favorites from the Grande family, including:

  • Basil pesto
  • Classic tomato ragu (the signature San Marzano-based tomatoes sauce that envelopes the meatballs
  • Roasted garlic and broccoli rabe purée
  • Mascarpone fondu, a smooth and very creamy cheese sauce made from blend of mascarpone cheese and 18-month-aged Grana Padano cheese
  •  
    Along with some fine olive oils and a mac and cheese (a blend of Gruyère, provolone and marscopone with a touch of nutmeg over imported gemelli pasta—we can’t wait to try it), TheFlyingMeatballs.com is a treasure trove for delicious Italian comfort food.

    For a treat or a gift (the packaging is quite attractive), order a slew of meatballs. All are delicious, although our personal favorite was the complex layering of Three Meats.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Chocolate Pills

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    A cure for some: chocolate pills. Photo courtesy Fika.

     

    If you have a friend suffering from heartache, how about chocolate pills for a Valentine’s Day cure?

    These pills are roasted and caramelized hazelnuts and almonds, enrobed in 70% dark chocolate.

    The prescription for instant happiness: 3-5 chocolate covered nuts daily.

    A bottle of Chocolate Pills is $8.00 at FikaNYC.com.

    Adapting the coffee-centric lifestyle of Sweden, Fika is a coffee house and confectionery with several locations in Manhattan. Chocolates are hand-made in house and are sold online.

     

     
      

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