THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Food Fun

TIP OF THE DAY: More Modern Surf & Turf Ideas … Plus Spring Peas

National Surf & Turf Day falls on February 29th. Why would anyone choose to celebrate this tasty holiday only once every four years?

That honor should go to, say, National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day, which happens to be today’s holiday (April 21st). Or how Kitchen Klutzes of America Day (June 13th), or Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day (July 29th)?

So today, we’re featuring some novel approaches to surf and turf.

On THE NIBBLE alone, we have obvious and not-so-obvious recipes:

  • Beef Carpaccio & Anchovies
  • Broiled Seafood With Beef Jerky Garnish
  • Clam Chowder With Bacon
  • Filet Mignon With Lobster Topping
  • Ham & Biscuits With Seafood Gravy
  • Modern Surf & Turf (18 recipe ideas)
  • National Surf & Turf Day (5+ recipe ideas)
  • Raw Scallops With Steak Tartare Or Bacon
  • Salmon BUrger With Bacon
  • Seafood Cobb Salad
  • Sea Urchin & Roast Beef Rolls
  • Surf & Turf Burgers
  • Surf & Turf Sushi & More (18 recipe ideas)
  • Surf & Turf Bloody Mary
  • Surf & Turf Eggs Benedict
  • Veal Osso Bucco On Tuna Sashimi
  • Vietnamese Pancakes With Shrimp & Pork
  • Wiener Schnitzel Surf & Turf
  •  
    Not to mention, Surf & Turf Pizza (clams or shrimp with pepperoni) or skewers (any meat, any shellfish).

    Our latest dish in the collection:

    RECIPE: SQUID & SPRING PEAS

    Who’d have thought of combining squid and bacon with fresh spring peas and fresh mint? Catalan chefs, with bounties of fresh squid pulled from the Mediterranean.

    This recipe is from Executive Chef Jaime Chavez of Sirena Cucina Latina in San Diego (which alas, closed in February).

    It’s a traditional Catalan starter from the chef’s mother, and is one of the restaurant’s best sellers.

    “[Mother] taught me that the best dishes are made from simple flavors, and when we respect the products, they give us back the very best of them,” notes Chavez.

    While Chef Jaime didn’t intend to create “surf and turf,” we’re always seeking new ways to extend the original concept of filet mignon and lobster tail, christened Surf & Turf (here’s the history of Surf & Turf).

    This is an easy recipe; the most demanding parts are slicing the squid and cooking the bacon.

    The season for fresh spring peas is short, so don’t bookmark this for “later.”

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 8 each squid tubes and tentacles
  • 1½ cups fresh English peas, shelled
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • ½ cup sliced fennel
  • 3 tablespoons crisp bacon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Champagne vinegar (substitute white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: edible flowers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SAUTÉ the squid and garlic in olive oil in a hot pan. Cut the squid into rings.

       

    Squid Salad With Spring Peas

    Shelled Peas

    Raw Squid

    Grilled Bacon

    Fennel Bulb

    [1] Squid, bacon and spring peas unite in a vinaigrette (photo courtesy Chef Jaime Chavez). [2] Just-shelled spring peas (photo courtesy The Chef’s Kitchen). [3] Raw squid (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma). [4] Fennel (photo courtesy Burpee).

     
    2. ADD the peas and season with salt and pepper. Then add the vinegar and mint.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and add the celery, fennel and bacon. Garnish as desired and serve (the edible flowers add another touch of springtime).
     
     
    Here are more ways to use spring peas.

     

    Spring Peas

    Snow Peas

    Sugar Snap Peas

    The three types of green peas. [5] Spring peas (photo Hannah Kaminsky). [6] Snow peas (photo AllWomensTalk.com). [7] Sugar snap peas (photo Good Eggs).

     

    SPRING PEAS, ENGLISH PEAS OR GARDEN PEAS?

    Spring peas, English peas and garden peas are three are names for the same thing. All can be eaten raw or cooked.

    Three types of green peas:

  • Spring peas (Pisum sativum var. sativum, photo #5), also called English peas and garden peas, which must be shelled to be edible (although some people do cook the stringless varieties).
  • Snow peas (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum, photo #6), called “Chinese pea pods” by some consumers, which are edible flat pods with tiny peas inside.
  • Snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon, photo #7), also called sugar snap peas, plump edible pods with smaller peas inside.
  •  
    Peas (Pisum sativum) are native to the Mediterranean basin. They grew wild and were one of the earlier vegetables cultivated at the dawn of agriculture in the Neolithic Era, beginning about 12,500 years ago.

    Having said that, pea pods are botanically a fruit, since they are pods that contain seeds, and the pods developed from the ovary of a flower.

    Peas, beans and lentils are all legumes with seeds that grow in pods. It’s easy to distinguish them by their shape:

  • Dry beans are oval or kidney shaped.
  • Lentils are flat disks.
  • Peas are round.
  •  
    Legumes are members of the botanical family Fabaceae, which also includes alfalfa, carob, licorice, peanuts and the sweet pea garden plant.
     
    Peas are sweet but can get starchy soon after harvesting. The fresher, the better.

     
    HOW TO BUY & STORE FRESH PEAS

    For the best flavor, choose small peas. They’re younger, sweeter and more tender than large ones. Look for medium-size pods that are firm and green, with no yellowing. Break open a pod and check the peas. They should be small, bright green and firm. Taste the peas in the pod: They should be tender and sweet.

    Freshness counts. As with corn, once picked the peas’ high sugar content begins to convert to starch. Don’t pay for mature peas. You might as well use frozen peas.

    Don’t pay extra for shelled peas. You don’t know how fresh they are; and since you aren’t shelling peas day in, day out, it’s a fun activity.

    Storing Fresh Peas

  • Store the pods in the crisper drawer of the fridge in a plastic storage bag. Use them within two days.
  • Once the peas are shelled, the best way to store them is to freeze them. First, blanch the peas for a minute in boiling salted water. Then shock them in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking and maintain their bright color. Drain and freeze them in freezer storage bags for up to six months.
  •   

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Animal Crackers

    National Animal Crackers Day is celebrated on April 18th.

    You’re never too adult to enjoy animal crackers..and since your palate is likely much evolved since childhood, to taste the superiority of homemade versions.

    Any adult will smile at a plate of cookie nostalgia with a cup of coffee or tea (and listen to six-year-old Shirley Temple sing “Animal Crackers In My Soup”).

    The standard-bearer, Barnum’s Animal Crackers, have far less sugar than other cookies. In fact, they’re barely sweet enough to be called a cookie.

    So why are they called crackers?

    Animal crackers originated in Britain in 1889, when P.T. Barnum toured with his circus. British manufacturers called them animal biscuits, biscuits being the British word for cookie.

    The cookies were exported to the U.S. When American manufacturers made their own versions, they changed the word biscuit to cracker instead of cookie (we opine, because consumers would expect cookies to be sweeter).

    Today, brands like Annie’s and Best Choice call their products animal cookies…and add a more sugar to the recipe.

    Here’s more history of animal crackers.

    This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, uses small (2” to 2¼”) spring-loaded plunger cutters. You can buy a set of four for $9.95: elephant, giraffe, lion and zebra. You plunge down, then pop the dough right out.

    If you don’t want to buy the cutters, use whatever animal cookie cutters you have—even large ones.
     
    RECIPE: ANIMAL COOKIES

    This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, makes sweet, buttery cookies. It uses Princess Cake & Cookie Flavor, an extract that combines vanilla and lemon and emulates the flavor profile and aroma of Barnum’s Animal Crackers.

    If you don’t want to purchase a bottle, you can substitute only vanilla extract, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract, almond extract, anise extract, other flavor of choice.

    Prep time is 15 to 20 minutes; bake time is 8 to 10 minutes per sheet.

    Ingredients For About 5 Dozen Cookies

  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, soft
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Princess Cake and Cookie Flavor (or substitute)
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oat flour or finely ground rolled oats
  •  

    Homemade Animal Cookies

    Animal Cookie Cutters

    Homemade Animal Crackers

    [1] Homemade animal cookies. [2] Make your own with these little plunger cookie cutters (photos #1 and #2 courtesy King Arthur Flour). [3] Here’s a vegan recipe from Dessert With Benefits.

     
    Preparation

    1. BEAT together the butter, sugar, honey, salt, baking soda, and flavor until well combined. Add the flour and oat flour, mixing to combine.

    2. DIVIDE the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk; then wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease several baking sheets, or line them with parchment.

    4. TAKE one piece of dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough 1/4″ thick.

    5. DIP the animal cookie cutters in flour (each time you cut), then use them to cut the dough. Using the cutters may take a little practice, not to mention patience making so many small cookies. Press the cutter down by the outside edges first, then use the plunger to emboss before picking up; and push the plunger again to release the cookie over the baking sheet.

    6. TRANSFER the cookies to the prepared baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes. This help the cookies retain their shape and imprint.

    7. BAKE the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges (do not let the cookies brown). Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until set. Then transfer the cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
     
     
    HOW ABOUT 3-D ANIMAL CRACKERS

    Check ‘em out!

      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Combos

    April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. The Tip Of The Day is: Think outside the box.

    How can you make your grilled cheese sandwiches more complex, more creative, more…celebratory?

    Campbell’s did just that, creating four new approaches—if not exactly simple ones—to that American lunch favorite, grilled cheese and tomato soup.

    Kudos to Chef Eli Kirshtein’s recipe curation : We love the flavor combinations and fun factor.

    And we never would have thought of any of them!

    RECIPE #1: GRILLED CHEESE BENEDICT

    This riff on Eggs Benedict places the egg on top of a grilled cheese sandwich, and turns the hollandaise sauce into a tomato hollandaise with their iconic tomato soup.

    It makes this Grilled Cheese Benedict recipe we published in 2015 look so tame.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 2 slices honey wheat bread
  • 3 slices sharp cheddar (we’re fans of Cabot’s)
  • 2 eggs
  •  
    For The Hollandaise

  • 3 egg yolks, separated
  • 8 tablespoons (¼ pound) butter, melted
  • ¼ cup white wine, reduced by half
  • ¼ can Campbell’s Tomato Soup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: fresh basil, shredded
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the hollandaise. Whisk the egg yolks and white wine over a double boiler until you have a ribbon consistency. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the melted butter.

    2. WHISK in the tomato soup slowly. Taste and season.

    3. MAKE a traditional grilled cheese sandwich with the bread and cheese. Cut in half. (Here’s a basic recipe and tips).

    4. FRY two eggs sunnyside-up and place eggs on top of grilled cheese. Top with hollandaise and garnish with basil.
     
    RECIPE #2: GRILLED CHEESE BREAD BOWL WITH TOMATO SOUP

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 individual sourdough bread bowl (here’s a recipe)
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces soft mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 can Campbell’s Tomato Soup concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

       

    Grilled Cheese Benedict

    Grilled Cheese Benedict

    Grilled Cheese Soup Bowl

    Campbell's Tomato Soup Cans

    [1] and [2] Grilled Cheese Benedict. [3] Grilled Cheese Soup Bowl (all photos courtesy Campbell’s). [4] America’s favorite tomato soup.

     
    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Carefully pile all the cheese on top of the sourdough.

    2. PLACE the bread in the oven until all the cheese is melted and browned. Let the loaf cool to room temperature.

    3. SLICE off the top of the bread and reserve. Carefully scoop out the inside of the loaf, with care not to puncture the bottom.

    4. PLACE the soup concentrate in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the fresh thyme; then pour the soup into the bread bowl.

    5. GARNISH the top of the soup with chives. Place the reserved top back onto the bread and serve immediately.

     

    Grilled Cheese Pockets

    Michelada Grilled Cheese

    [5] Grilled Cheese Pockets With Tomato Sauce. [6] The drinking man’s/woman’s lunch (photos courtesy Campbell’s).

     

    RECIPE #3: GRILLED CHEESE POCKETS WITH TOMATO SAUCE

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 4 sheets store-bought puff pastry
  • 2 ounces cheese curds
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) Campbell’s Tomato Soup concentrate
  • 2 eggs (for egg wash)
  •  
    Plus

  • Pastry brush
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    2. DEFROST the puff pastry and lay on flat surface. On two pieces, place the cheeses in the center, leaving a half inch border.

    3. MAKE the egg wash: whisk the eggs with a splash of cold water or milk until they are pale yellow and completely integrated. Lightly brush the egg wash around the edges of the pastry.

    4. PLACE the remaining sheets over the top, pressing the edges to create a seal. Trim neatly with a knife, and use a fork to impress a pattern (crimp) on the edges. Brush some additional egg wash on top of the pastry.

    5. BAKE for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile…

    6. REDUCE the tomato soup concentrate slowly in a sauce pan, until thick and dark red. Serve the pastry hot, with the tomato sauce on the side.

     

    RECIPE #4: MICHELADA WITH QUESO FUNDIDO GRILLED CHEESE

    Pronounced mee-cha-LAH-dah, a michelada is a Mexican “beertail” (beer cocktail) made from beer, tomato juice, hot sauce and lime, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass.

    This “adult” lunch gives you a michelada with a Mexican-style grilled cheese.

    If you’ve never had a michelada, here’s some more information.

    This recipe requires a panini press or a George Foreman-type grill.

    The recipe can make one tall drink or two in rocks glasses.
     
    Ingredients For The Michelada /font>

    For The Rim

  • 1 lime, halve juiced, half sliced into wedges
  • Salt
  • Chili powder—or—Tajin seasoning
  •  
    For The Drink
    1 can Campbells Tomato Soup concentrate

  • Optional: 2 tablespoons clam juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 Mexican lager (e.g. Modelo), chilled
  • Ice
  •  
    Ingredients For The Grilled Cheese

  • 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (e.g. asadero, queso de papa, queso oaxaca,queso quesadilla)
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, sliced
  • 1 soft yeast roll
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREATE the rim garnish by combining equal parts of salt and chili powder in a small dish. Or if you have Tajin seasoning, use it straight. Place the juice of half the lime in a shallow dish. Twist the rim of the glass in the juice, and then twist it in the dish of seasoning. You can use a Collins glass or a beer mug (or two rocks glasses). Set aside.

    2. COMBINE the drink ingredients except the beer; set aside in the fridge.

    3. MAKE the grilled cheese. Slice the roll open and toast the inside. Place the cold cheese inside the roll, press it into the bread somewhat so the layers adhere. Add slices of jalapeño to taste.

    4. BUTTER the outside of the roll lightly and, using a panini press or in a pan on the stove top, toast it until the cheese is melted. While the cheese is melting…

    4. COMBINE the beer and the michelada mix over ice and garnish the glass with a lime wedge.

    5. TO SERVE: You can serve the sandwich, halved, on the side, or quartered on a long toothpick or skewer over the michelada.

      

    Comments off

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easter Eggs Filled With Cake!

    Steph of The Cupcake Project created a recipe called How to Make Cupcakes in Egg Shells.

    But, if you decorate the eggs before serving, you have Easter Egg Surprise: an egg with cake inside.

    It’s fun and memorable: Most people won’t have seen anything like it.

    Here’s the recipe.

    We took it one step further, using white eggs and decorating them.

    This protects everyone from any bacteria on the egg, and protects the eggshells from any oils on hands that may prevent the dye from adhering.
     
    HOW TO DECORATE CAKE EGGS AFTER THEY’RE COOKED

    We used a wide paintbrush and took the advice of Incredible Egg to use water warmer than the eggs.

    They also caution that hands should be washed in hot, soapy water before and after handling eggs—even if they’ve already been cooked or decorated.

    Because a hole has been punched into the top of the shells to insert the cake batter (photo #1), you can’t fully dip cooked cake eggs in dye (well…maybe if you use dark chocolate cake, a bit of color won’t show).

    Instead, you can try one of these three techniques.

  • Option 1: Try this if you have an exceedingly nimble grip, and can hold the eggs at the top while dipping them into the dye. We filled a juice glass with dye (diluted in water) that would not reach the top of the egg when the egg was added to the glass. The narrow glass held the egg upright. We could lift the egg out using doctors’ gloves and a spatula, but it wasn’t easy.
  • Option 2: We next moved to the hand-painted approach. Using wide hobby paintbrushes, we placed food coloring in ramekins, placed the egg upright on a nonslip mat and held it with one hand, as we painted swaths of color with the other.
  • Option 3: We didn’t try this one for lack of time, but we think it will work and could be the easiest. Dye the eggshells before adding the cake batter, and bake the cake in the colored shells. The cake eggs bake at 350°F for 23 minutes, so they should retain their colors.
  •  
    You can practice the first two techniques with the raw eggs in your fridge (and return them for subsequent cooking).

    Or, you can color whole eggs and then bake them in the oven to get hard boiled eggs.

    The hard boiled eggs look and taste the same.

    THE HISTORY OF EASTER EGGS

    The tradition of painting hard-boiled eggs during springtime pre-dates Christianity. Fertility and rebirth are fundamental to life—not just for people but for the crops and animals that sustain them.

    The most ancient known decorated eggs are 60,000 years old: engraved ostrich eggs found in Africa. Decorated eggs have also been found from prehistoric Egypt and the early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete [source].

     

    Cake Easter Eggs

    Cake Easter Eggs

    Dyed Easter Eggs

    [1] and [2] It’s an egg. No, it’s a little cake (photos courtesy Cupcake Project). Use white eggs if you plan to color them. [3] Here’s how to get these beautiful colors, from Urban Comfort.

     
    Easter was a pagan holiday adopted by Christians; it has no relation to Christ.

    The Christian custom of Easter eggs began among the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs with red dye in memory of the blood of Christ (more).

    The Easter holiday itself is named for the Germanic goddess Eostre (Eostra, Eostur, Ostara, Ostare, Ostern and other names), a fertility goddess. Her name derives from the ancient word for spring, eastre,

    She was very popular with Anglo-Saxon pagans in Brittania as well, many of whom were descended from Germanic tribes who migrated to the island.

    Eostre’s sacred animal is the rabbit, a symbol of fertility; and the egg is her symbol of fertile purity, both of which involve the spring and new birth.

    In Old German, the month of April was called Ostar-manod: Easter month, or month of the Goddess Eostre. In Old English, it became Easter-monab (pronounced eh-AH-ster moh-NATH).

    The English word April derives from the Latin aperire, to open (e.g. buds).

      

    Comments off

    FOOD FUN: Passover Matzoh

    Chopped Chicken Liver & Matzoh

    Chopped Chicken Liver & Matzoh

    Chopped Chicken Liver & Matzoh

    [1] Chopped chicken liver on matzoh: a classic. Here’s the recipe from Williams-Sonoma. [2] A deconstructed version from Chef Alex Guarnashelli at Butter restaurant. [3] Mr. Alpenglow created his recipe, inspired by Guarnashelli’s. Here’s the recipe.

     

    When is a piece of matzoh with chopped chicken liver (photo #1) greater than the sum of its parts?

    When creative chefs turn it into something spectacular.

    Here, the first idea (photo #2) inspired the second (photo #3).

    Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter in New York City tops a board of matzoh with:

  • Chicken liver mousse
  • Crispy shallots
  • Concord grape jelly
  • Schmaltz vinaigrette
  • Parsley leaves
  •  
    As an alternative to the grape jelly and the crispy shallots, we made these honey-balsamic roasted red onions from Chef Tyler Florence:

    RECIPE: HONEY BALSAMIC ONIONS

    Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 red onions, halved
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. COMBINE the butter, vinegar, honey, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer and cook for 1 minute to reduce slightly.

    3. PLACE the onions, cut sides up, in a single layer on a baking pan. Drizzle with the honey butter mixture over and roast until soft and slightly caramelized, about 45 minutes.
     
    THE SECOND RECIPE

    Try this recipe (photo #3) from Mr. Alpenglow.
     
    CREATE YOUR OWN

    Schmaltz and gribenes, anyone? Or how about foie gras?

    Here are reciped for the first two, and the history of chopped chicken liver.

     

     
      

    Comments off



    © Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.