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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

RECIPE: Gingersnap Whoopie Pies

Today is National Gingersnap Day. Treat everyone to some homemade gingersnap whoopie pies.

Crunchy gingersnaps are descendents of Lebkuchen, soft spice cookies that were probably created by Medieval monks in Franconia, Germany (the earliest written records are from 1296). The history of whoopie pies, an American creation, is much more recent—1926!

The ginger snaps themselves are a cross between a cookie and a cake, sandwiched between an easy vanilla buttercream.

This recipe is from The Faux Martha via Go Bold With Butter. Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 40 minutes.

RECIPE: GINGERSNAP WHOOPIE PIES

Ingredients For 12 Cookie Sandwiches
 
For The Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup light molasses
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  

    gingersnap-whoopie-pies-goboldwithbutter-230

    Make them for family and friends. Photo courtesy The Faux Martha.

     

    For The Filling

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  

    pumpkin-230

    You can buy gingerbread whoopie pies from WickedWhoopies.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

    2. WHISK together the flours, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.

    3. CREAM the butter and sugar in a large bowl until evenly combined, using a handheld or stand mixer. Add the molasses and blend until incorporated. Scrape down the the sides of the bowl and mix in the cream, egg and vanilla.

    4. MIX the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. The dough will be dry but will still hold together. Using a one-tablespoon scoop, drop 24 cookies onto baking sheets, about an inch apart.

    5. BAKE for 10 minutes. The cookies will still be soft but will firm up after cooling. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Meanwhile…

     

    6. MAKE the filling. Using a stand or handheld mixer, whip the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and cream together until well incorporated. Add the cream and vanilla. Continue to beat until the filling light and fluffy.

    7. SPREAD a generous amount of filling on the flat side of half of the cooled cookies. Top with the remaining cookies to create sandwiches. Serve or store in airtight container for up to 3 days.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Patriotic Cookie Pizza For July 4th

    Show your colors this 4th of July with this or snack fun and festive dessert from Pillsbury. Raspberries, blueberries and creamy filling top an easy cookie crust.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, total time is 1 hour 35 minutes.

    RECIPE: JULY 4th COOKIE PIZZA

    Ingredients For 24 Servings

  • 1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup apple jelly, melted
  •  

    patriotic-cookie-pizza-pillsbury-230sq

    A cookie pizza for July 4th. Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Spray a 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray.

    2. CUT the cookie dough into 1/4-inch slices; place in the pan. With floured fingers, press evenly over the bottom to form the crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is a deep golden brown. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

    3. BEAT the cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon peel in medium bowl until fluffy. Spread over the baked crust. Arrange the raspberries in large star shape in the center. Arrange the blueberries around raspberries.

    4. DRIZZLE or brush with the melted jelly. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4th: Ice Cream Cones

    ice-cream-cones-amymillerdesigns-230sq

    Impress your friends and family with these Independence Day ice cream cones. Photo courtesy Amy Miller Designs.

     

    Who wouldn’t want to be Amy Miller’s friend?

    The designer, crafter and baker created the best-looking July 4th ice cream cones.

    Head to AmyMillerDesigns.com for the step-by-step showing how she did it.

    In brief, you need ice cream cones, vanilla candy melts in red, white and blue, and sprinkles. You can use either cake cones (shown in photo), sugar cones or their big brother, waffle cones.

    The toughest part is deciding what flavor of ice cream to scoop into your cones. Vanilla works best, but keep an eye out for cherry vanilla, strawberry or blueberry swirl.

    How much do you know about the different types of ice cream and frozen desserts?

    Check ‘em out in our Ice Cream Glossary.

     

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Strawberry Parfait Day

    Today is National Parfait Day.

    We just published a July 4th breakfast parfait recipe, but the original parfait was made from ice cream.

    In the U.S., a parfait is a layered sundae. It can be simple, with alternating layers of ice cream and syrup, or a mélange of ingredients as shown.

    Parfait is the French word for “perfect.” The word means something different in France: It’s the original French sundae, made with a custard-base ice cream (“French” ice cream) flavored with fruit purée and whipped with a lot of air to a delicate texture.

    In a French parfait, the ice cream is not scooped but pre-frozen in individual serving containers—typically the long, tapered parfait glasses, narrower versions of sundae dishes. In America, a “parfait” became a particular type of sundae, different from the French parfait. An American parfait layers syrup and other garnishes between layers of ice cream, instead of adding them all on top like a sundae.

    Check out the different types of ice cream preparations in our Ice Cream Glossary.

     

    quark with strawberries

    Strawberry parfait. Photo courtesy Island Farms.

     

    CUSTOMIZE YOUR PARFAIT

    In the U.S., different types of parfait bases are used. Choose from this list to build your own, layer by layer:
     
    Parfait Base

  • Ice cream/frozen yogurt
  • Pudding
  • Yogurt
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    Fruit

  • Fresh or frozen berries
  • Other fresh fruit, sliced or diced (bananas, mango, anything goes)
  •  
    Cake & Cookies

  • Cake cubes, plain or toasted
  • Crumbled cookies
  •  
    Fillings/Toppings

  • Custard
  • Fruit purée
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    Garnish

  • Berry
  • Chocolate shavings/chips
  • Coconut
  •  
    One great thing about parfaits: You’ll never run out of combinations!

      

    Comments

    JULY 4TH: Star-Shaped Sandwich Skewers

    We loved this idea from Smucker’s, which uses its creamy Jif peanut butter and seedless strawberry jam to make these charming sandwiches.

    You don’t have to use PB&J: Any sweet or savory spread will do. You can make some very sophisticated combinations for adults.

    Prep time is 15 minutes.

    RECIPE: STAR-SHAPED SANDWICH SKEWERS

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

  • 3 slices white or whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon seedless strawberry jam
  • Large fresh strawberries, halved
  • Seedless green grapes
  • Skewers
  •  
    Variations

    You can use other spreads:

  • Chicken mousse pâté and fig jam
  • Cream cheese and raisins
  • Goat cheese and beets
  • Tapenade and julienne of carrots and celery
  •  

    star-sandwich-skewers-smuckers-230

    July 4th lunch or snacks. Photo courtesy Smucker’s.

     
    Try more sophisticated breads, too, like brioche, date nut bread, Irish soda bread, olive bread or walnut bread.
     

    Preparation

    1. CUT 10 shapes from bread using 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter.

    2. SPREAD peanut butter (or ingredient of choice) on half the stars and jam on remaining stars. Press together to make five small sandwiches.

    3. THREAD the sandwiches, strawberry halves and grapes alternately onto skewer. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Beer Batter Onion Rings

    onion-rings-horseradish-dipping-sauce-qvc-230

    Onion rings with horseradish-dill sauce
    instead of ketchup. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    Try something different for National Onion Rings Day, June 23rd.

    The standard condiment is ketchup, beer-battered onion rings are delicious with a horseradish dipping sauce. Here’s a recipe from QVC’s chef David Venable. It even bows to tradition by including some ketchup!

    What should you drink with Beer Batter Onion Rings? Your favorite beer! Ours is a hopped up IPA.

    RECIPE: BEER BATTER ONION RINGS WITH HORSERADISH DILL DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  •  

    For The Onion Rings

  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle of beer (12 ounces)
  • 3 large onions, preferably Vidalia, sliced into 1/4″ rings and separated
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the dipping sauce: Whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, paprika and dill in a small bowl. Set aside while cooking the onion rings.

    2. PREPARE the onion rings: Clip a deep-frying thermometer to the side of a heavy, deep pot. Add 2″ of canola oil to the pot and slowly heat the oil to 350°F. While the oil is heating…

    3. WHISK together the flour, egg, garlic powder, oregano, cayenne, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the beer, stirring until a thick batter forms.

    4. DREDGE the onion slices in the batter. Using tongs, add four or five onion rings to the hot oil and fry for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them halfway through cooking. (Cook the onion rings in batches or the oil won’t stay hot and the onion rings will be soggy rather than crisp.) Using the tongs, remove the fried onion rings to a wire rack or paper towels to drain.

    5. COOK the remaining batter-dipped onion rings. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

     

    vidalia-onions-vidaliaonions.com-230

    Vidalia onions: sweet with no sulfur bite. Photo courtesy VidaliaOnions.com.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Cookie Dough Icing

    cookie-dough-carolinacupcakery-230r

    A fresh-baked cupcake topped with cookie dough. Photo courtesy Carolina Cupcakery.

     

    Who needs icing?

    Carolina Cupcakery tops this cupcake with a scoop of cookie dough.

    Who can top that?

    Make your own cookie dough, or top your homemade cupcakes with a slice from a roll of cookie dough.

    If you’re concerned with raw eggs, read the label on purchased dough to see if the eggs are pasteurized. If not, make your own cookie dough with Safe Eggs pasteurized eggs.

    For more cupcake fun, visit CarolinaCupcakery.com.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FROSTING & ICING

    Although the words are used interchangeably, professional bakers know that there’s a difference:

  • Frosting is made with table sugar (granulated sugar).
  • Icing is made with confectioner’s sugar (also called icing sugar).
  •  
    Of course, when you top the cake with cookie dough, there’s no issue!

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Lavender For Summer

    Today is the first day of summer. When we think of summer, we think of lavender.

    Lavender is a flowering plant, a genus of 39 species that originated in the Mediterranean, northern and eastern Africa and southwest Asia, including India. The most widely cultivated species is English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia. Though not native to England it has long been the preferred variety grown there.

    As noted in Wikipedia, the names “English lavender,” “French lavender” and “Spanish lavender” are “imprecisely applied.”

    The word lavender may be derived from Latin livere, “blueish.”

    It is grown as an ornamental flower, and also as a culinary ingredient. The oil is used to scent beauty and household products. Medicinally, it was used as a disinfectant and antiseptic by ancient herbalists. It became a cosmetic herb and a tonic due to its popularity with the English royalty.

    The different lavender types vary in the potency and flavor of the flowers and oils. English lavender is the sweetest and the most commonly used.

    If you look for lavender recipes, you’ll find almost every food embellished with lavender. We can’t possibly narrow the selection, so look for what you like.

    What we will do is tell you how to infuse lavender in alcohol and simple syrup, and make lavender cocktails.

     

    lavender-cocktail-drysoda-230

    Lavender makes a summer soft drink or cocktail. Photo courtesy DrySparkling.

     

    INFUSING LAVENDER IN ALCOHOL

    When lavender buds are steeped in alcohol, the essential oils are extracted from the flowers and infused into the alcohol.

    Add sprigs of to a bottle of gin, vodka or tequila, let it infuse in a warm, dark place for a week or two, then put the bottle in the freezer so it will be chilled and ready for summer drinks.

    Note that you need organic lavender: You don’t want pesticides in your food.

    Our favorite is lavender-infused gin. Lavender is a great match with the botanicals in the gin.

    Lavender is a great pairing with lemon, so don’t hesitate to add lavender to a bottle of lemon vodka. of gin and lavender make an absolutely fabulous gin and tonic! A sprig of lavender in a martini with a twist of lemon is another intriguing synergy.

     

    dry-soda-grouping-230

    Dry Sparking is a delicious soft drink or mixer. It’s a non-alcoholic pairing for cheese, grilled fish, hazelnuts, pork tenderloin, salted caramel and tiramisu. Photo courtesy Dry Sparkling.

     

    LAVENDER MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce lavender simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Garnish: lavender sprig
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

    2. SHAKE well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lavender sprig.
     
    LAVENDER SIMPLE SYRUP

    Infuse lavender buds in this simple syrup recipe. Use 1 tablespoon dried lavender buds per each cup of water.

     
    LAVENDER SUGAR RIM

    Put a lavender rim on any cold or hot beverage where you’d like the extra flavor. Try it with iced tea!

    Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
  • 3 cups sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the lavender and sugar in a food processor and pulse to mix evenly. Flecks of lavender should be evenly distributed throughout the sugar.

    2. MAKE the rim by dipping the glass rim in water, about 3/8″ deep. Twist the glass in a dish of lavender sugar to make the sugar rim.

    3. STORE unused sugar in an airtight jar, out of direct light.
     
     
    MORE LAVENDER IDEAS

    We’ve enjoyed lots of lavender products, including:

  • Lavender cheese
  • Lavender chocolate bars
  • Lavender honey
  • Lavender marshmallows
  • Lavender salt caramels
  • Lavender tea
  • Lavender white hot chocolate
  • Lavender lemonade
  • Lavender iced tea
  • Lavender scones
  • Lavender whipped cream
  • Lavender water
  • Blackerry Lavender Fizz
  •   

    Comments

    DELICACY: Maatjes Herring From The North Sea

    If you like the herring that comes in jars, in wine or cream sauce, we’ve got something so much better for you: nieuwe maatjes herring.

    Through Friday, July 3rd, New York City’s Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant is celebrating the Holland Herring Festival.

    For 35 years, this has been the first American tasting of the season of nieuwe maatjes haring, the wonderful Dutch herring.

    Herring lovers wait all year for the delivery of the cream of the catch to the Oyster Bar. The herring arrives air-expressed from Scheveningen, The Netherlands, a town on the North Sea where the herring fleet makes its home.

    This year, fans had to wait an extra week for the catch, due to stormy North Sea waters that made fishing difficult, and herring with very low fat content. An absence of adequate sunlight meant that there was not enough plankton for the herring feed on, so fishermen waited for conditions to change.

       

    nieuwe-maatjes-herring-brined-takeaway-wiki-230

    A dish of nieuwe maatjes herring fillets. Photo courtesy Takeaway | Wikipedia.

     

    But arrive they finally did; the Oyster Bar began serving them yesterday. We were invited to taste them, and we’ll be going back this weekend for more! The catch is limited: Even in The Netherlands, the fish are only available for a month.

     

    brined-herring-fudder.de-230

    Herring soaking in brine. Photo courtesy Fudder.de.

     

    Succulent and toothsome delicacy known as nieuwe maatjes herring. At the Oyster Bar, Chef Sandy Ingber serves the herring filets with hard-boiled egg, chopped sweet onion and chives.

    The herring filets are priced at $7.00; the herring with garnishes is $7.95 per order. You can walk in and enjoy yours in the bar area, or reserve a table at 212.490.6650.
     
    WHAT IS MAATJES HERRING?

    Nieuwe, pronounced NEE-wuh, means new in Dutch. Maatje, MAH-tyeh, means fermented or brined. The Dutch word for herring is haring.

    After the herring is caught, it is brined* for up to two days, typically in oak barrels. Then, for delivery to the Oyster Bar, it is gutted and the head is removed, The result is a fillet, about five inches long, consisting of both sides of the fish, attached on the non-slit side.

     
    *It is brined in salt water. Raw herring pickled in vinegar is called a rollmop.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cucumber In Your Drinks

    Today is National Dry Martini Day (some say it’s World Martini Day—perhaps the international celebration).

    We’re having a very dry Martini—just a splash of vermouth—with Pinnacle’s cucumber vodka. If you like cucumber, this article explores other ways to enjoy it. But first:

  • A Cucumber Martini recipe (along with a Cucumber Mary
    recipe).
  • The history of the Martini and the original Martini recipe.
  • Pinnacle Vodka makes not only Cucumber Vodka* and Cucumber Watermelon Vodka, but 40+ other flavors from traditional (Berry, Cherry, Citrus, Mango, Pomegranate) to fanciful (Caramel Apple, Cinnabon, Rainbow Sherbet, Strawberry Shortcake, Whipped Cream). You can find all of the flavors at PinnacleVodka.com.
     
    *Cucumber vodka is also made by Crop, Effen, Prairie, Rain, Square One and other brands.

       

    pinnacle-cucumber-vodka-230

    Vodka infused with fresh cucumber flavor. Photo courtesy Pinnacle.

     
    CUCUMBER AS A DRINK GARNISH

    Cucumber & Cocktails

    Cucumber is mild enough to pair with both sweet and savory cocktails. If you traditionally use a lemon or lime wedge and people don’t squeeze the juice into their drinks (that’s the purpose of the wedge), try a a cucumber wheel on the rim. It provides a crunchy snack on the glass!

    Ideally, use a Kirby or other seedless cucumber.

     

    cucumber-parsley-garnish-230

    Cucumber drink garnish. If you have fresh herbs, add them as well.

     

    Cucumber, Soft Drinks & Juice

    A cucumber garnish also works well with club soda, lemon-lime sodas (Seven-Up, Sprite) and lemonade; not to mention vegetable juices and some fruit juices.

    By the same token, these beverages are good cocktail mixers with cucumber vodka.

     
    Cucumber & Water

    Hint sells an unsweetened cucumber water, but it’s easy to make your own.

    The addition of a slice of cucumber and an herb sprig turns a plain glass of water into a special drink. You can layer on flavors as you like: a slice of apple, lemon, lime, orange or a strawberry, for example.

    In fact, a great pitcher of water idea is to load up the pitcher with lots of berries; apple, citrus and cucumber slices—anything that suits your fancy: Kiwi? Mango? Melon? Peach? Pineapple? (NOTE: bananas didn’t work for us).

    Interspersed with ice cubes, the pieces of fruit turn the pitcher of water into a work of art.

    Here’s how to infuse water.

    Want some fizz? Look for Dry Sparkling’s Cucumber, a sophisticated, lightly sweetened carbonated drink.

    A Related Snack

    Cucumbers and watermelons are first cousins. Both are from the binomial order Cucurbitales and family Cucurbitaceae, differing only at the genus level: Cucumis for cucumber (the common cucumber genus/species is C. sativus) and Citrullus for watermelon (C. lanatus).

    That’s why you can eat the white portion of watermelon rind—it tastes just like cucumber—or turn it into pickled watermelon rind, a.k.a. watermelon pickles (here’s the recipe).

    And that’s why watermelon and cucumber skewers are a tasty snack with any cucumber-enhanced beverage.

      

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