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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 Gourmet News

FOOD HOLIDAY: The History Of Sangria

December 20th is National Sangria Day. The word derives from the Spanish word for bloodletting, and refers to the red wine that was used as a base for the punch.

THE HISTORY OF SANGRIA

Around 200 B.C.E., the conquering Romans arrived in Spain and planted vineyards. They soon discovered that red grape varietals produced the best wine in the local soils. While some was enjoyed locally, the majority of the wines were shipped to Rome.

The locals created fruit punches from the wines, and called these drinks sangria after the color.

While sangria was drunk in Spain for more than 1,000 years, it didn’t arrive in the U.S. until 1964—at the Spanish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York. It was quickly adopted by Americans.

 
HOW TO MAKE SANGRIA

In Spain, sangria is typically made with Rioja or another local red wine. There are white wine versions, called sangria blanco (white sangria) and sparkling versions using cava, sparkling white wine.

   

port-sangria-sandemans-230

This version adds Port to the red wine. Photo courtesy Sandemans.

 

 

apple-sangria-230

While traditionally made with red wine, white
wine sangrias are also popular. You can make
them with sparkling wine, too. Photo courtesy U.S. Apple Association.

 

The wine is typically blended with chopped fruit, fruit juices or other sweetener (honey, sugar, syrup, lemon-lime soda instead of the club soda), soda water and sometimes brandy. While some people feel that the cheapest wine will suffice because the flavor gets blended with these other ingredients, we recommend using a good quality wine. (Let “quality” refer to anything you’d be happy to drink straight from the glass.)

Ideally, the sangria—without the soda water—should be allowed to chill overnight for the flavors to meld. The chilled soda water should be added right before serving.

To serve, pour the sangria into a pitcher filled with ice cubes and garnish with more fresh fruit.

  • Traditional sangria pitchers have a pinched lip so that the fruit and other solids do not splash into the glass.
  • But if you’re going to purchase a pitcher, we particularly like a pitcher with a central well to hold the ice. This keeps the drink cold without diluting it.
  •  

    SANGRIA TRIVIA

  • Since January 2014, the use of the word “sangria” on bottle labels is restricted by the European Union. Only sangria made in Spain and Portugal can be sold under that name.
  • Sangaree, a fruit and wine punch from the West Indies, is the same drink. The name is an archaic English term for sangria.
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Beer Menorah

    For 18 years, the Shmaltz Brewing Company has been handcrafting HE’BREW, classic beers with culturally-relevant names (certified kosher, of course, by KSA).

    Chanukah begins tonight, so take a look!

    THE CHOSEN BEERS

    The brewery currently makes:

  • Barrel Aged Funky Jewbellation
  • Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.
  • Chanukah Beer
  • David’s Slingshot
  • Death Of A Contract Brewer
  • Genesis Dry Hopped Session Ale
  • Hop Manna IPA
  • Jewbelation 18 (18 malts, 18 hops)
  • Messiah Nut Brown Ale
  • Origin Pomegranate Ale
  • Rejewvenator Dubbel Doppel
  • Reunion Ale 2014
  • St. Lenny’s Belgian Rye Double IPA
  •  

    he-brew-beer-menorah-230

    Chanukah beer. Photo courtesy Schmaltz Brewing Company.

     

    There’s a He’Brew Gift pack of eight different styles that includes a custom glass an Chanukah candles to build your own beer menorah, and possibly enter it in the annual contest.

    This is non-denominational enjoyment: Feel free to participate no matter what your religious beliefs.

    To find a retailer in your area, contact your local distributor.

      

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    CHRISTMAS: Avocado Salad Tree

    avocado-xmas-tree-hassavocados-230

    A delightful Christmas salad. Photo courtesy
    AvocadoCentral.com.

     

    Holiday buffets will look even more inviting when this pretty Christmas tree-shaped salad is on display. It’s served with a zesty chile vinaigrette dressing for a fiesta of flavor.

    Prep time is 30 minutes.

    Use ripe avocados that are a little on the firm side for best results, and brush the avocado slices with a soft, food-safe paint brush dipped in lime juice or lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

    This dish can also be made with granny smith apple slices instead of avocado.

    If you don’t like crab meat, you can substitute grated white Cheddar or other semihard cheese for the “snow” at the bottom of the platter.

    RECIPE: AVOCADO CHRISTMAS TREE SALAD

    Ingredients

  • 2 firm-ripe Hass avocados, halved, peeled and seeded (use more as needed)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds) and/or fresh raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 1 green onion, white portion only, sliced into rounds
  • 1 slice star fruit (carambola) or pineapple
  • 6 small chives
  • 1 cup fresh crab meat, picked over for cartilege
  •  

    RECIPE: CHILE VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE each avocado half into six equivalent size slices. Brush the slices with lemon or lime juice. Arrange them on a platter into the shape of a Christmas tree, as shown in the photo above, leaving at least 3 inches at the top and bottom of the platter. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

     

    avocados-board-hassavocado-230

    Hass avocados. Photo courtesy AvocadoCentral.com.

     

    2. ARRANGE the pomegranate arils or raspberries, cranberries and green onions on top of the avocado tree to look like ornaments.

    3. PLACE the star fruit at the top point of the tree. Alternatively, use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut a star out of a slice of pineapple. Add the chives in a criss-cross pattern over the avocado slices, to emulate a garland.

    4. ARRANGE the crab along the bottom of the tree to resemble snow.

    5. PLACE the vinaigrette ingredients in a salad dressing carafe, cover and shake a few times to combine. Serve alongside the Avocado Tree Salad.
     
    Find more avocado recipes at AvocadoCentral.com.

      

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    RECIPE: Cream Cheese Christmas Tree Appetizer

    cream-cheese-pepper-jelly-xmastree-indulgy.com-bertha-230

    Deck the appetizer plate with cream cheese and pepper jelly. Photo: Pinterest.

     

    The block of cream cheese topped with pepper jelly takes on a special shape for the holidays.

    We originally thought that this photo was from Bertha at Indulgy.com, but so many people have posted it on Pinterest and elsewhere that the original source is in question. If it’s yours, please let us know so we can link to you.

    RECIPE: CREAM CHEESE CHRISTMAS TREE APPETIZER

    Ingredients

  • 8 ounce block cream cheese
  • Pepper jelly or salsa
  • 1 green onion (scallion)
  • 1 green bell pepper or chile
  • Crackers or tortilla chips
  • Optional garnish: snipped chives or parsley
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT a block of cream cheese on the diagonal. Place on a plate to make a tree shape.

    2. USE a portion of the green onion to create the trunk of the tree.

    3. ADD pepper jelly and a star cut from the pepper. Serve with crackers of choice (or if you use salsa, with tortilla chips).

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Christmas Bread Wreath

    rolls-wreath-artofcheese2-230

    Turn rolls into a holiday bread wreath. Photo
    courtesy ArtOfCheese.com.

     

    This show-stopping, pull apart bread wreath is served warm from the oven, with a centerpiece of melted Camembert cheese for dipping.

    Serve it with cocktails or as a TV snack. It will impress everyone, and it’s not hard to do. Starting with frozen rolls makes it a snap!

    Prep time is 3 hours (most of the time is for the bread to rise), cook time is 45 minutes. You can substitute a Baby Brie for the Camembert (the difference between Brie and Camembert is largely the size).

    The recipe is courtesy of Président Cheese, which has many ideas of what to do with cheese at its website, ArtOfCheese.com.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS WREATH BREAD

    Ingredients For 8-10 Portions

  • 1 8-ounce wheel of Camembert cheese (Président
    or other brand)
  • 1 25-ounce package Parker House-style frozen rolls
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds) for garnish
  • Flaked Maldon or other coarse, flaky sea salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COVER a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. USE the Camembert as a guide to mark the center of the baking sheet; temporarily place it in the middle of the sheet. Arrange the frozen dough rolls in two circles around the cheese. Leave a 1/2” space between the rolls and between the circles (the rolls will expand as they bake). Remove the cheese and refrigerate until ready to use.

    3. BRUSH the frozen rolls with melted butter. Thaw for 1 hour in a warm, draft-free area, then allow an additional 2 hours to rise until they have doubled in size. Once the dough has formed a “wreath,” par-bake it at 325°F for 7 minutes.

    4. USE a sharp knife to carefully remove the top layer of rind from the Camembert wheel. This will allow for easy dipping.

    5. REMOVE the par-baked rolls from the oven and fit the Camembert in the center (remove any wrapping). Bake an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown and the cheese is melted.

     

    rolls-wreath-dip-artofcheese-230

    Dip the rolls into the baked Camembert. Photo courtesy ArtOfCheese.com.

     

    6. USE the parchment paper to slide the wreath off of the baking sheet and onto a serving platter or board. Brush rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with flaked Maldon sea salt. Sprinkle the Camembert with minced rosemary.

    7. GARNISH the wreath by inserting small 1” long pieces of fresh rosemary and clusters of pomegranate seeds between the rolls. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Bailey’s Irish Cream Adult Hot Chocolate

    baileys-peppermint-cream-230

    It’s not an innocent cup of hot chocolate. Photo courtesy Baileys.

     

    It’s National Hot Chocolate Day, or National Cocoa Day if you prefer (the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate). Today we’re making this adults-only version.

    The recipe comes to us from Baileys Irish Cream, using the company’s Original Irish Cream with a hint of Mint Chocolate.

  • If you only have regular Irish Cream, add a bit of peppermint extract.
  • If you have no irish creme at all, you can use 1/2 ounce of crème de cacao and 1/4 ounces of crème de menthe.
  •  
    RECIPE: BAILEY’S PEPPERMINT CREAM HOT CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 2 ounces Baileys Original Irish Cream with a hint of Mint Chocolate
  • 4 ounces hot chocolate
  • Fresh whipped cream
  • Garnish: crushed candy cane and mint leaf
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CRUSH the candy cane with the back of a spoon. Set aside.

     
    2. POUR the hot chocolate and Baileys Original Irish Cream into a coffee mug. Stir to combine.

    3. TOP with a dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle the crushed candy cane on top and garnish with the mint leaf.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Ice Cream Snowman

    Frosty, the ice cream snowman. Photo courtesy Breyers.

     

    What’s for dessert?

    This recipe was developed by Breyers, which used its chocolate chip ice cream. You can use coconut, egg nog, vanilla or any other ice cream flavor.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, freeze time is 20 minutes,

    RECIPE: ICE CREAM SNOWMEN

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 cups ice cream, divided
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Optional: orange or red fruit leather
  • 8 chocolate-dipped candy or pretzel sticks
  • 4 slices kiwi
  • 4 strawberry halves
  • Plus:

  • 4 extra additional candy sticks or wooden ice cream sticks
  • Preparation

    1. SCOOP the ice cream and quickly roll into 4 medium and 8 small ice cream balls.

    2. ROLL the balls in coconut, reserve any remaining coconut. Arrange the balls on a a wax paper-lined baking pan. Cover and freeze 20 minutes or until ready to serve.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Stack 1 medium and 2 small ice cream balls on each dessert plate. Insert a candy or wood stick down the center of the snowman to hold the three pieces together.

    4. USE mini chocolate chips for the eyes, nose, mouth and buttons (alternatively, cut the nose from orange or red fruit leather). Add candy sticks arms. Top each snowman with kiwi and strawberry hats. Evenly sprinkle the plates with the remaining coconut “snow.” Serve immediately.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Christmas Tree Pizza

    Who else but the folks at California Pizza Kitchen would create a Christmas Tree Pizza?

    For fun this weekend, how about making this recipe for Christmas Tree Pizza, decorated with your favorite “ornaments.”

    The recipe, from California Pizza Kitchen, makes 1 large pizza, 2 medium pizzas or individual pizzas
    If you’re making individual pizzas, let the people decorate their own.

    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS TREE PIZZA

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound traditional or whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 6 ounces (2 cups) mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional trimmings: sliced olive “ornaments,” anchovy “garland”
  •  

    christmas-tree-pizza-calpizzakitchen-230

    Deck the pizza with your favorite “trimmings.” Photo courtesy California Pizza Kitchen.

  • Optional garnish: carve a piece of yellow bell pepper into a star for the top of the tree
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE a seasoned (or oiled) pizza stone in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450°F for at least 30 minutes.

    2. SHAPE the dough. If making more than 1 pizza, divide the dough into 2 or 4 pieces; then roll and shape each piece into a tall triangle. The pizzas will be decorated after baking, so prepare all of them at once.

    3. SPREAD the sauce over the dough to within 1 inch of the outer edge. Top with the mozzarella and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Meanwhile…

    4. COMBINE the spinach, arugula and basil leaves in a large bowl. When the pizza is cooked, place on a serving plate and allow it to cool slightly. Then top with overlapping leaves of greens, making sure that the three different types are evenly distributed.

    5. COVER the leaves with tomato halves, cut side down, add any other garnishes and sprinkle with Parmesan “snow” before serving.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Snowman Latte

    snowman-latte-caffebene-230

    Frosty the Snowman in his latte debut. Photo
    courtesy Caffebene USA.

     

    Turn your latte into a Snowman Latte with this instructions from Caffebene, the world’s second largest coffeehouse franchise.

    Laila Ghambari, Director of Coffee at Cherry Street Coffee House in Seattle—the home of American latte art. Here are her tips:

  • The micro-foam is a crucial element in creating the perfect latte art. Use a milk foaming machine that is able to produce rich, thick, long-lasting foam.
  • Use whole or 2% milk. More milk fat equals more creaminess.
  • Add air to the milk by bringing the steam wand tip to the surface of the milk (not beneath). Remember that NO air will just create hot milk and TOO MUCH air will make your milk bubbly.
  • Make sure that when you are steaming your milk that the milk is spinning. You can achieve this by tilting the pitcher, which allows for the air and milk to blend together.
  • You need to steam the milk to a smooth, creamy texture. It should look cold cream or wet paint.
  • Once the milk is steamed, swirl it around to make sure the milk and foam are incorporated, not separated.
  •  
    THE HISTORY OF LATTE ART

    Latte art was developed in Italy, enabled by the development of microfoam, created by the steam wand of a cappuccino machine, used to foam a pitcher of milk. The combination of the crema atop the cup of espresso and velvety microfoam allows patterns to be made. (Note that other types of milk steamers/foamers do not create microfoam.)

    Latte art in the United States developed in the Seattle coffee culture of the 1980s and 1990s. By 1989 the heart pattern was a signature at David Schomer’s Espresso Vivace and the rosette pattern followed, based on a photograph Schomer saw of latte art in an Italian café.

     
     

    HOW TO MAKE THE LATTE SNOWMAN

    snowman-latte-instructions-caffebenesnowman-latte-caffebene-230

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Linky Doodles Candy Cane Garlands

    linkdoodles-holiday-peppermint-230

    Deck something with candy cane garlands. Photo courtesy Kencraft.

     

    Linky Doodles Candy Chains calls itself “The world’s only linkable candy.”

    They’re specially shaped, open link shapes made from a hard candy recipe. You simply hook the pieces together, and they make an edible Christmas garland.

    At $21.99 + $9.99 shipping for 28 pieces that make a garland of 5.5 feet, you need to make a financial commitment to create too much of a garland, but you may have a space for a small one.

    You can also use Linky Doodles for napkin rings, or adorn yourself with an edible necklace.

    Made by Kencraft, a quality candy maker, Linky Doodles are also available in Rainbow, Pink, and Blue, for year-round celebrating. All of these colors are cherry flavored.

     
    WHERE TO BUY LINKY DOODLES

  • Buy online: red, white and green peppermint Linky Doodles
  • Buy online: red and white cherry flavor Linky Doodles
  •  
    Visit LinkyDoodles.com for more information.

     
      

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