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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

TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate Burns Night Tonight

When you sang “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve, did you recall that it was first a poem from Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland (1759-1796)?

His birthday, January 25th, is celebrated in Scotland as Burns Night. Family and friends gather for an evening of good food and company—a warm and happy event much like our Thanksgiving. A traditional Burns’ Supper is served. Here’s the supper format, if you want to plan ahead for next year.

But you can have a much smaller event tonight, as brief as enjoying a tumbler of Scotch and reading a poem. Burns’ complete works are available free online. Some suggestions: A Red, Red Rose (“My luve is like a red, red rose…”); To a Louse; To a Mouse; Tam O’Shanter.

If you’d like to do something a bit more elaborate, call around and invite a group for a Scotch tasting (here’s how). Everyone can bring whatever brand they have at hand…along with any bagpipe music.

Then, there’s a Scotch and chocolate tasting. While solid chocolate wasn’t invented in Burns’ lifetime, he was a bon vivant and we’re sure he’d approve.

Here are more food ideas for Burns Night.

 

scotch-cheese-wisconsincheesetalk-230

Celebrate Burns Night with Scotch and a poem. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

 
Heid doon arse up! (That’s Scottish for Get on with it!)

  

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RECIPE: Make Your Own Gummies

tart_cherry_gummies-choosecherries-230

Fun project: Make your own gummies. Photo
courtesy ChooseCherries.com.

 

Gummy fan? We admit to a gummy habit.

We were happy to discover that in 15 minutes, we could make our own gummies, with top-quality ingredients (including honey instead of refined sugar) and for less expense than purchasing them.

It’s easy, so try it—perhaps inviting your favorite child to participate in the joy of making sweets. Prep time is just 5 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

The only thing you need to do is buy a candy mold—although you could use a sheet pan/jelly roll pan and cut the solid rectangle into squares. You also can try a mini ice cube tray. This recipe used a sheet mold tray with 64 molds of 3/4″ x 1″.

This recipe is made with tart cherry juice. If you like the result, you can try it with other juice flavors–apple, cranberry, grape, etc.

This recipe is courtesy of Mitzi Dulan, RD, of NutritionExpert.com, via ChooseCherries.com.

RECIPE: HOMEMADE GUMMIES

Ingredients For 128 Pieces

  • 1-1/4 cups tart cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup honey
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the juice and gelatin in a small bowl, stirring until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan over low-medium heat and add the honey. Continue stirring until well mixed. Be sure not to boil!

    2. REMOVE from the heat, allowing the mixture to slightly cool before pouring into the mold.

    3. LET cool for about 10 minutes or until it begins to gel before transferring into the refrigerator. Place in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes to allow it to set.

     

    WOW: A GUMMY-MAKING MACHINE!

    As we were looking for candy molds online, we came across this Gummy Candy Maker, $29.75.

    It includes the silicone molds to make gummy fish, worms and small bears—as well as a jumbo bear—with easy-to-use silicone molds. The central heated base holds the gelatin pot with a spout for easy pouring; the entire unit disassembles for easy cleaning.

    Reviews from 60 customers gave it 4.4 out of five stars, with many giving it five stars. If we can convince ourselves that this is an important appliance to bring into our small kitchen, we may be buying one soon.

    We think it makes a great Valentine gift.

     

    gummy-candy-maker-amz

    This gummy maker has molds of favorite shapes. Photo courtesy Nostalgia Electrics.

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Mashed Potato Stuffed Burger Recipe

    You’re used to fries or potato chips with your burger. But how about mashed potatoes?

    For some food fun, executive chef Craig (Andy) Beardslee of Hash House A Go Go in San Diego suggests a layer of Parmesan mashed potatoes between two eight-ounce burgers. This one-pound burger with mashed potatoes is not quite Paula Deen (who famously sandwiched a burger, fried egg and bacon between Krispy Kreme donuts), but it’s fun.

    About the name: It’s not really a potato-stuffed burger. It’s more of a potato-layered burger; otherwise, the potatoes would be stuffed inside the burger patties. As in recipe ingredients, in naming, strive for accuracy!

    We like onion with our burger; so when we tried this recipe, we added thinly sliced green onions (scallions) to the mashed potatoes. We also mashed the potatoes with basil oil, and on another occasion with truffle oil. Both are inspired choices, with or without the Parmesan cheese.

    RECIPE: MASHED POTATO STUFFED BURGERS

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

     

    mashed-potatoStuffed-burger-IdahoPotCom-230

    Mashed potato stuffed burger: Just in time for Super Bowl supping. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

  • 2 8-ounce ground prime beef patties
  • 6 ounces mashed potatoes with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese, griddled
  • 2 bread and butter plank pickles
  • 2 tomato slices
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 red onion slices
  • 2 applewood-smoked bacon strips
  • 1 ciabatta or sesame bun
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the mashed potatoes on a griddle in a pancake shape. Brown and turn.

    2. LAYER the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles on bottom bun. Top with one beef patty.

    3. LAY on a mound of griddled mashed potatoes and add 2 strips cooked bacon. Top with the second beef patty, then the top half of the bun.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: An Ice Cream Cake For National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

    strawberry-shortcake-ice-cream-waitrose-recipe-230

    Celebrate National Strawberry Ice Cream Day! Photo courtesy Waitrose.

     

    January 15th is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. We love this easy strawberry ice cream cake adapted from British upscale grocery giant Waitrose. The company has a royal warrant to supply groceries, wine and spirits to Queen Elizabeth II and to Prince Charles.

    In this recipe, shortbread cookies substitute for the cake; but if you prefer, you can substitute finely cubed pound cake. You also can use strawberry ice cream instead of the vanilla.

    This dessert is also spot-on for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and summer celebrations. Prep time is 15 minutes plus several hours or overnight for freezing.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE ICE CREAM “CAKE”

    Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1 pint strawberries, washed, patted dry and hulled
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream
  • 7 ounces all butter shortbread cookies, broken into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons caramel sauce (or fudge sauce if you prefer)
  • Optional garnish: caramel sauce or strawberry purée
  •  
    Preparation

    1. THINLY SLICE 4 of the strawberries and roughly chop the remainder. Line a loaf pan with a double layer of plastic wrap, allowing for some overhang. Arrange the sliced strawberries on the bottom (it will become the top when unmolded).

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP the ice cream using a large knife, then mix it with the chopped strawberries and the shortbread pieces. Spoon half of the mixture into the loaf pan, patting down firmly so there are no air bubbles.

    3. DOT the caramel sauce on top of the ice cream, then cover with the remainder of the mixture, firmly smoothing over the surface. Fold over the overhanging plastic wrap and place the pan in the freezer for several hours or overnight, until the ice cream very firm.

    4. TO SERVE: Gently lift out the ice cream using the plastic wrap as handles, and remove the plastic wrap. Allow to soften for 10–15 minutes as needed; then cut slices with a large knife.

    5. PLATE the slices with an optional drizzle or dotting (use a squeeze bottle to create dots around the rim of the plate) of caramel sauce or strawberry purée.

     
    More than 5,000 recipes can be found at Waitrose.com/recipes.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Sushi Lollipops

    Here’s a fun idea from RA Sushi in Orlando: sushi lollipops!

    While you may not have the skill to roll your own, it’s easy enough to buy ready-made sushi rolls and add this special spin to enjoy with cocktails.

    Just pick up some bamboo skewers and mix a dipping sauce. It could be as simple as soy sauce and wasabi or soy sauce, grated ginger, sesame seeds and minced chives (wasabi optional).

    Depending on the rolls, you could use sweet chili sauce or citrussy ponzu sauce.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade ponzu sauce—so much more delicious than store-bought (except for the deluxe ponzu sauce from Yakami Orchard).

    As always, have fun with it!

     

    sushi-lollipops-RASushi-orlando-230sq

    Sushi lollipops with a sweet chili dipping sauce. Photo courtesy RA Sushi | Orlando.

     

      

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    RECIPE: Elvis Burger

    January 8th marks the birthday of “The King,” Elvis Presley. Today he’d have been 80 years old.

    Loyal fans celebrate the day with Elvis’s favorite sandwich: a fried peanut butter sandwich with sliced bananas and bacon. (The recipe: Make a PB sandwich on white bread, with sliced bananas and fried bacon. Brush the outsides with softened butter and fry until golden brown.)

    Elvis was a big cheeseburger fan, too, so here’s an Elvis Cheeseburger recipe.

    But Helen Graves of FoodStories.com put her own spin on an “Elvis Burger”, topping a burger with bacon and peanut butter. She contributed the recipe to the wealth of PB recipes on ILovePeanutButter.com.

    Unlike the Elvis Sandwich, banana slices don’t work here. But a side of fried plantains, related to bananas and substituting for French fries, works just fine. See the recipe below.

    RECIPE: ELVIS BURGER

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound grams ground beef
  • 8 slices smoked bacon
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili flakes
  • 4 tablespoons Old Fashioned Smooth peanut butter
  • ¼ iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 burger buns
  •    

    Peanut-Butter-Elvis-Burger-helengraves-foodstories-230

    The Elvis Burger, with bacon and peanut butter. Photo courtesy Helen Graves | Food Stories.

     

    Preparation

    1. DIVIDE the ground beef into 4 equally sized balls, then flatten into patties and set aside. Grill the bacon rasher until crisp, then chop into smallish pieces and set aside.

    2. HEAT a pan until very hot. Season the burger patties with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes each side, or to taste. While the burgers are cooking…

    3. MAKEe the peanut butter sauce by heating a tablespoon of oil in a pan and gently softening the ginger and garlic for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add the chipotle flakes for a further minute, then take the pan off the heat and add the peanut butter, along with a tablespoon of hot water (don’t use cold water). Mix well. When the burgers and sauce are ready…

    4. PLACE some iceberg lettuce on each bun, followed by some onion, a burger, then some of the peanut butter sauce. Top with crispy bacon pieces and the top half of the bun. Eat immediately.

    See more prep photos at ILovePeanutButter.com.

     

    Peanut-Butter-Elvis-Burger-toppings-helengraves-foodstories-230

    The Elvis Burger, topless. Photo courtesy Helen Graves | Food Stories.

     

    RECIPE: FRIED PLANTAINS

    Plantains are cousins of bananas, a staple in most Latin American cuisines. Plantains are larger and green; they don’t ripen to yellow. They are firm and served cooked like a vegetable, not eaten as a raw fruit.

    Ingredients

  • Fresh plantains
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.

     
    2. PEEL the plantains and cut them into round slices (coins) or vertical slices (slice in half lengthwise and then into halves again to desired thickness). halves lengthwise into thin pieces.

    3. FRY the pieces until browned and tender. Drain excess oil on paper towels. Season with salt as desired.
     
    Here’s a recipe for tostones, double-fried plantains that are popular in Puerto Rico.

     
    MORE ELVIS TRIBUTE DISHES

  • Elvis Presley Birthday Sundae Recipe
  • Elvis Cheeseburger Recipe
  • Peanut Butter Banana Cake Recipe
  • Peanut Butter & Banana Quesadilla Recipe
  •  
    How about an Elvis portrait made from toast?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A New Soup & The History Of Soup

    It’s well below freezing in much of the country today: a good day to focus on soup.

    Every culture makes soup. It’s easy, filling and nutritious, and can be inexpensive. In much of the world it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    January is National Soup Month. Rather than fall back on your favorites today, discover something new. Start with our delicious Soup Glossary, featuring many different types of soups.

    Then, check out our soup garnishes: ways to add flavor and excitement to your soup.

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOUP

    Mankind is up to 200,000 years old. For the majority of our existence, we have had no soup.

    The earliest humans had no cookware—nothing to boil water (or anything else) in. Boiling was not easy to do until the invention of waterproof containers, probably pouches made of clay or animal skin, about 9,000 years ago. One of the first types of soups can dates to about 6,000 B.C.E.—some 8,000 years ago.

    Our word soup comes from French soupe, which derived from Vulgar Latin suppa, from the post-classical Latin verb suppare, to soak. This indicated bread soaked in broth, or a liquid poured onto a piece of bread. The bread added heft to the meal.

       

    Choabani

    Since its beginnings, soup was a poor man’s
    dinner. The name of the meal evolved to
    souper, than supper. Red lentil soup from
    Chobani | Soho.

     

    reggiano-soup-230

    Soup gets its name from “sop,” the piece of bread regularly added to sop up the soup. Photo courtesy ParmigianoReggiano.com.

     

    In Germanic languages, the word sop referred to a piece of bread used to soak up soup or stew. The word entered the English language in the seventeenth century exactly as that: soup pored over “sops” of bread or toast (which evolved into croutons). Prior to then, soups were called broth or pottage. The bread or toast served as an alternative to using a spoon.

    Today’s soup croutons evolved from sops.

    While the rich enjoyed elaborate soups, basic soup was a poor man’s dinner. Until recent times, the evening meal was the lighter of the two meals of the day; a soup or sop would be a typical evening dish. The name of the meal evolved to souper, than supper.

    It began to be fashionable to serve the liquid broth without the sop (bread), and in the early eighteenth century, soup became a first course.
     

    EATING VS. DRINKING SOUP

    Since it’s a liquid, why do we “eat” soup rather than “drink” soup?

    Because it’s served in a dish. If you consume it from a mug or cup, then you can be deemed to be drinking your soup.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Homemade Tomato Soup With Grilled Cheese Croutons

    From McCormick, here’s a lighter version of the classic combination of tomato soup with grilled cheese. Instead of a sandwich, the grilled cheese is miniaturized into a crisp crouton. A bowlful of the soup will warm you up on a chilly day, and the croutons will make you smile with delight.

    We had fresh basil on hand, so used it instead of dried. We loved the extra punch of basil flavor. To convert dried to fresh herbs, or vice versa, use this ratio: One tablespoon of fresh herb equals one teaspoon of dried herbs.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE TOMATO SOUP WITH GRILLED CHEESE CROUTONS

    Ingredients For 8 One-Cup Servings

    For The Tomato Soup

  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) no salt added crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon basil leaves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/2 cups fat free half-and-half (we used regular)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  •    

    Tomato_Soup_Grilled_Cheese_Croutons_mccormick-230r

    The croutons are miniature grilled cheese sandwiches! Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    For The Grilled Cheese Croutons

  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 6 very thin bread slices
  • 3 ounces reduced fat Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
  •  

    Tomato_Soup_Grilled_Cheese_Croutons_close-230

    A close-up. Don’t you want a bowl right now? Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the tomato soup: Place the crushed tomatoes, stock, roasted red peppers, sugar, basil, garlic powder and onion powder in a blender. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth.

    2. POUR into a large saucepan. Add the bay leaf. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half and Parmesan cheese; simmer until heated through. Season with pepper. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Meanwhile…

    3. MAKE the Grilled Cheese Croutons. Mix the mayonnaise and thyme in a small bowl until well blended. Spread 1 side of each bread slice with the mayonnaise mixture. Prepare 3 cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise side out on the bread.

    4. SPRAY a large skillet with no stick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the skillet and cook for 3 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly, then cut each sandwich into 9 croutons. Top each bowl of soup with 3 croutons.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Bake An Epiphany Cake

    In France, the holiday season continues into January with the feast of the Epiphany on January 6th, the 12th day after Christmas.

    For the occasion, pastry shops are filled with galettes des rois, Epiphany cakes. (The name actually translates to kings’ cake; a galette is a flat pastry cake.)

    The cake is traditionally—more of an almond puff pastry tart—is filled with frangipane (almond cream). Other fillings can be substituted, from almond paste (marzipan) to chocolate ganache to sliced apples. In the south of France, brioche is often substituted for the puff pastry.

    You can buy puff pastry (pâte à choux) or make your own with this recipe.

    The cake is often garnished with a metallic gold paper crown, and a charm is baked into the filling. Originally a baby, representing baby Jesus, today any trinket can be substituted. The person who finds the trinket in his or her slice becomes “king” for the day.

    A couple of years ago we published an Epiphany Cake recipe from Héléne Darroze, proprietor of a two-Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris.

    This year, we present François Payard’s slightly different recipe, with a bit of rum and almond extract (Darroze prefers a citrus zest flavor accent).

    It was a staple for French-born Payard, who grew up in Nice, where his grandfather owned a pastry shop (his father also was a pastry chef).

     

    king-cakes-2-pierrehermeFB-230

    Each baker puts his or her own design on top of the Epiphany Cake. These are from Parisian pâtissiér Pierre Hermé \.

     

    RECIPE: FRANÇOIS PAYARD’S GALETTE DES ROIS

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound puff pastry dough
  • 5 ounces (about 10 tablespoons)ground blanched almonds
  • 5 ounces (about 1 cup) powdered sugar
  • 5 ounces (10 tablespoons) softened butter
  • 2 whole eggs + 1 yolk
  • 1 drop almond extract
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 small toy or figurine (this year we used a silver dollar)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the cream filling: Mix together the almonds and sugar. Add the creamed butter, the two whole eggs and rum; mix well together.

    2. DIVIDE the puff pastry dough in half; roll out each half into a 12-inch (about) circle. Lay one pastry round sheet on a very slightly greased baking pan. Pour the filling in the middle and spread without reaching the edge. Drop the toy into the filling.

    3. TOP carefully with the second circle of dough. With moist fingers, press firmly all around to seal the “cake.” Glaze the surface with the remaining beaten egg yolk. (For a little more control over the color, brush the yolk on roughly halfway through the baking)

    4. DRAW some light, curved lines for decoration using a knife or fork. Make a few tiny cuts on the top to let out steam during cooking.

    5. BAKE for about 35 to 40 minutes in preheated 400°F oven. Check with an oven thermometer, as oven temperatures can vary. Remove when the pastry is golden. Cool and serve while still warm, if possible.

    We like ours with a dab of barely- (or non-) sweetened whipped cream or crème fraîche.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Muffin Pan Meat Loaf

    These fun individual meat loaves from McCormick.com cook in less than 30 minutes—perfect for an easy weeknight dinner with built-in portion control.

    The grated carrots and zucchini in the meat loaf mixture add moisture and are a tasty way to eat more veggies.

    RECIPE: MUFFIN PAN MEAT LOAF

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

    For The Meat Loaf

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons garlic and herb seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  •  

    Muffin_Pan_Meat_Loaf_mccormick-230

    Turn your muffin pan into a meat loaf maker. Photo courtesy Caroline Edwards | Chocolate and Carrots.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Mix all meat loaf ingredients in large bowl until well blended. Divide the mixture into 12 balls. Place each ball into a muffin cup.

    2. BAKE for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. While the meat loaves are baking…

    3. MAKE the sauce. Place all the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve with the meat loaf.

      

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