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TIP OF THE DAY: Garnishing With Lilacs

White Wine With Lilacs

Cake With  Fresh Lilac Garnish

[1] White wine with a scattering of lilac blossoms (photo courtesy Tay Tea). [2] Decorate desserts and other foods. Check out these recipes from Brit.co.

 

We received the top photo from Tay Tea, a lovely tea salon in Delhi, New York, some three hours northwest of New York City. The proprietor spent years as a blender of premium teas, and departed from owning tea salons in New York City to the country.

Fortunately for her fans, she sells her teas online. The blends are beautiful to look at, and you can’t make a wrong choice.

Back to the lilacs:

Lilac blossoms are edible, though they smell better than they taste, so are best used in small amounts as a garnish (only use those that have not been sprayed with pesticides). They typically blossom in April and May.

According to an article on Care2.com, you can “drink in the beauty and aroma” by making a cold-water infusion.

  • Add washed lilac blossoms to a pitcher and fill to the top with spring water. Steep for an hour or more.
  • Strain, chill and serve.
  • You can make multi-note flavors by adding citrus slices, strawberries, herbs, etc.
  •  
    MORE WAYS TO CONSUME LILACS
    You can also:

  • Garnish wine and cocktails, iced tea or other nonalcoholic beverages.
  • Scatter atop green salads, crêpes, desserts, etc.
  • Candy to preserve as decorations for cakes and cupcakes (also called crystallized or sugared flowers; here’s a recipe).
  • More uses for edible flowers.
  •  
    Check out these nine lilac recipes, from cocktails to desserts.
     
    THE MYTH OF THE LILAC

    The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), one of 12 species of lilac, is a member of the Oleaceae family, commonly called the olive family.

    The family comprises flowering aromatic woody plants that includes, among others, ash, forsythia, jasmine and privet. Lilac is native to Eurasia.

    And it has a legend.

     
    In Greek mythology, a beautiful nymph named Syringa had caught the eye of Pan, the god of the forests and fields. He chased her through the forest; but she eluded him by turning herself into a lilac bush. Pan found himself holding hollow reeds instead of Syringa.

    (Note that in real life, lilac twigs are not hollow. They can, however, be easily drilled out.)

    Pan’s sighs, combined with the wind and the reeds, made harmonious sounds. Hermes, the fleet-footed messenger and god of boundaries and transitions, suggested that seven reeds of different lengths, bound together, could make what we now call pan pipes, an early flute. The flute was called Syrinx in honor of the nymph.

    Did Syringa spend the rest of her life as a lilac bush, to avoid Pan? The record is silent; but we thank her for inspiring the flute and other hollow tubes, such as sryinges for medicine and mechanical uses.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Fried Eggs (And More) In Pepper Slices

    We saw this photo on Tajín’s Facebook page, but couldn’t find a recipe.

    Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to slice bell peppers and drop an egg inside each slice—along with some mildly spicy Tajín seasoning (it’s a cayenne, lime and salt blend).

    We thought: What else can we make with a bell pepper rim?

    Cooked Foods

  • Burger patties
  • Melting cheeses (see list below)
  • Grains (mounded inside)
  • Savory pancakes
  •  
    Uncooked Foods

    If the food isn’t cohesive enough to be mounded, make the slices taller; or trim a bit of the bottom of a half or whole pepper so it will stand.

  • Ceviche
  • Sashimi
  • Tuna and other protein salads
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    ABOUT TAJÍN SEASONING

    In Mexico, this spice blend of cayenne, lime and salt is used on just about anything, savory and sweet:

  • Fruits: raw, cooked, sorbets and ice pops: citrus, cucumber, melon, and tropical fruit (mango, papaya, pineapple, etc.)
  • Beverage glass glass rimmers
  • Eggs, grains, potatoes (including fries), vegetables
  • Snacks: popcorn, mozzarella sticks
  • Proteins: fish, meat, poultry, tofu
  • Just about anything else, from angel food cakes to salad dressings
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    GOOD MELTING CHEESES

    Good melting cheeses include, among others:

  • American muenster
  • Asiago
  • Cheddar
  • Colby
  • Edam
  • Gruyère and other Alpine cheeses (e.g. emmental, comté)
  • Fontina
  • Havarti
  • Hispanic melting cheeses (asadero, queso blanco, queso chihuahua, queso di papi, queso oaxaca, queso quesadilla)
  • Monterey jack
  • Mozzarella
  • Provolone
  • Reblochon
  • Taleggio
  •  

    Fried Eggs In Bell Pepper Slices

    Fried Egg Veggie Bowl

    Tajin Seasoning

    [1] Slice the pepper, drop in the egg. [2] Enjoy as is, or in the center of a yummy bowl of greens (photo courtesy Hope Foods). [3] Tajín seasoning: cayenne, lime and salt (photos courtesy Tajín.

      

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    FOOD FUN (For The Affluent): Lobster-Topped Guacamole

    RA Sushi, a small restaurant group in the southern U.S., has imagination and class.

    With locations in Atlanta, Arizona (5 locations), Baltimore, Chicago, Florida (3), Leawood, Kansas, Las Vegas, Southern California (5) and Texas (6), sushi lovers can experience creations that the sushi bars we frequent can only aspire to.

    While neither sushi nor sashmi, we picked this tasty dish as the one we’d most like to have for Cinco de Mayo:

    A lettuce cup of guacamole, topped with a king’s ransom of lobster.

    We’d also like to have it for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and, oh…any day.

    You don’t even need to cook: Just assemble.

    We’re making ours with a garnish of salmon caviar (ikura in Japanese—photo #2). Tobiko or any whitefish caviar (they’re available in several flavors) will do just fine. We’re also making a chunky guacamole, a better texture contrast with the lobster.

    If you’re a really affluent foodie, sturgeon caviar is not discouraged.

    You may notice the plate garnish in the photo includes herbs, spices and a drizzle of flavored olive oil. Plate garnishes add not only color and texture, but extra bits of flavor.

    RECIPE: GUACAMOLE-LOBSTER LETTUCE CUP

  • A lettuce cup, created from pliant butter lettuce (Bibb, Boston)
  • Guacamole: your favorite recipe
  • Lobster meat
  • Lime wedges
  • Plate garnish: black or toasted sesame seeds, citrus zest, minced chives or other green herb (cilantro, parsley), red chili flakes, etc.
  • Optional garnish: caviar of choice*
  •  

    Lobster Guacamole Salad

    Salmon Caviar

    [1] What better topping for guacamole than this creation, from RA Sushi? [2] Salmon caviar, ikura in Japanese (photo courtesy Petrossian).

     
    DRESSINGS

    With flavorful guacamole, you don’t need much more than lime juice as a dressing. But for those who want more:

  • Basil-Jalapeño Dressing
  • Creamy Citrus Dressing
  • Mimosa Dressing (olive oil, champagne, orange juice)
  • Spicy Lemon Dressing
  •  
    A simple drizzle of basil olive oil with fresh lime juice is also delicious.
    ________________

    *Affordable caviar types include capelin (masago in Japanese), flying fish (tobiko in Japanese), lumpfish, salmon, trout or whitefish roe. The latter two are often available flavored, with everything from mango to truffle to wasabi. They are delicious!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun Bagel Buffet

    Bagel Buffet

    Fruit Topped Bagels

    Fruit & Vegetable Bagel Toppings

    Bagel Caprese

    Bagel topping ideas from Arla, which makes delicious flavored cream cheeses including Herbs & Spices, Natural, Natural Light and Pineapple, with seasonal specialties.

     

    If your idea of brunch includes bagels, it may also include pricey fish:

  • Herring salad
  • Sable
  • Smoked bluefish
  • Smoked salmon
  • Smoked sturgeon
  • Smoked trout
  • Smoked tuna
  • Whitefish salad
  • and other delights of the sea.
  •  
    While we love all of these, we can run up quite a tab at the cash register.

    So here’s a colorful—and less expensive—alternative that may even look like more of a feast:

    THE NEW BAGEL TOPPINGS

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables (including basil)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives, capers, pickled vegetables
  • Different flavors of cream cheese
  •  
    It’s easy to pull together.

    Head to the market to see what looks good. Buy a variety of bright colors, both sweet (fruit) and savory (veggies).
     
    Buy a selection of different bagel flavors, and don’t forget the cream cheese: plain plus a fruit flavor (blueberry, strawberry, etc.) and a veggie flavor (herbs, jalapeño, etc.)

    Philadelphia Cream Cheese has outdone itself with cream cheese spreads, currently:

    Sweet Cream Cheese Flavors

  • Blueberry
  • Brown Sugar & Cinnamon
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Honey Pecan
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberry
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    Savory Cream Cheese Flavors

  • Chipotle
  • Chive & Onion
  • Garden Vegetable
  • Jalapeños
  • Salmon
  • Spicy Jalapeño & Bacon Flatbread…
  •  
    …plus Original (plain) and a variety of protein-enhanced, reduced fat and fat-free flavors.

    Other Spreads

    It doesn’t have to be cream cheese. Consider other spreads:

  • Guacamole
  • Hummus (many flavors!)
  • Pesto (many flavors!)
  • Spinach or Onion dip/spread
  • Taramasalata
  • Yogurt spreads
  •  
    This little post makes us so hungry, that we’re off to create our own bagel.

    Maybe jalapeño cream cheese topped with red bell pepper and pineapple.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Salad Bouquet

    We found this spring salad (photo #1) on the social media pages of the New York City outpost of Catch seafood restaurant (a charming spot with a roof deck for alfresco dining).

    The salad is no longer on the menu, but it looked so festive we had to make it for ourselves.

    The ingredients:

  • Beets: red, orange and yellow (choose two; substitute chioggia beets, photo #3)
  • Baby greens
  • Capberberrieshttp://blog.thenibble.com/2014/09/26/tip-ways-to-add-more-flavor-to-food/
  • Chives
  • Croutons: pumpernickel (for color contrast and flavor)
  • Radish (look for specialty radishes, e.g. breakfash radish, watermelon radish)
  • Smoked salmon (substitute prosciutto or serrano ham)
  •  
    It’s topped with zigzags of ranch dressing.

    We preferred tossing it with a sprightly vinaigrette (two recipes below)

    More To Add To Your Spring Salad Bouquet

  • Asparagus
  • Citrus zest
  • Fiddlehead ferns (photo #2, blanched)
  • Garlic scapes
  • Kumquats, halved
  • Orange segments
  • Spring peas
  • Sugar snap peas
  •  
    SPRING SALAD VINAIGRETTE RECIPES

    RECIPE #1: BASIL VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 9 tablespoons basil olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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    Spring Salad

    Fiddlehead Ferns

    Chioggia Beets

    [1] A festive spring salad at Catch NYC. [2] Fiddlehead ferns (photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE). [3] Chioggia beets (photo courtesy True Food Kitchen).

     
    Combine all ingredients. To emulsify so they don’t separate, use a blender or an Aerolatte Milk Frother.
     
    RECIPE #2: BLOOD ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

  • 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar (substitute sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 9 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Combine all ingredients. To emulsify so they don’t separate, use a blender or an Aerolatte Milk Frother.

      

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