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TIP OF THE DAY: Tom Kha Gai Soup

Our neighborhood Thai restaurant closed on December 31st, victim to a(nother) heartless New York City landlord.

It left us without our weekly supply of tom kha gai—and at the start of National Soup Month, no less.

Tom kha gai, literally “chicken galangal soup,” is a spicy and sour hot chicken soup with coconut milk.

In Thailand, most tom kha gai/kai recipes include coconut milk, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai chili peppers, cilantro (dill weed in Laotian versions), straw mushrooms (or shiitake or other mushrooms), chicken, fish sauce and lime juice.

Fried chiles are sometimes added, for a smoky flavor as well as texture, color, and heat—just a touch so they don’t overwhelm the other flavors.

Other versions substitute seafood, pork or tofu for the chicken. We adapted this recipe from the Long Grain restaurant in Camden, Maine.

The soup is very easy to make. The challenge for people who don’t live near Asian markets is to find some of the ingredients. We’ve suggested substitutes.

Don’t want to chase after ingredients? Don’t like ginger or lemongrass? Try this recipe for Spicy Sea Bass Chowder With Coconut Milk.

RECIPE: TOM KHA GAI, THAI CHICKEN & COCONUT MILK SOUP

Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 1” piece ginger root, peeled
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves (substitute 1 tablespoon lime zest and ¼ cup lime juice)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1½ pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1” pieces
  • 8 ounces shiitake, oyster, or maitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce* (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, tough outer layers removed (substitutes†)
  • Garnishes: sliced chiles or chili oil, chopped cilantro, lime wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY SMASH the lemongrass and ginger with the back of a knife. Cut the lemongrass into 4” pieces. Bring the lemongrass, ginger, lime leaves and broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer until flavors are melded, 8–10 minutes. Strain the broth into clean saucepan; discard solids.

    2. ADD the chicken and return to a boil. Reduce the heat, add the mushrooms, and simmer, skimming occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are soft, 20–25 minutes. Mix in the coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar.

     

    Tom Kha Gai Soup

    Tom Kha Gai Soup

    Lemongrass

    Tom kha gai, Thai coconut soup. [1] Photo by Evan Joshua Swigart | Wikimedia. [2] A more elegant presentation from DC Cuisine. [3] Lemongrass: top, with the outer leaves, which are removed (center).Photo courtesy Keirsten’s Kitchen.

     
    3. DIVIDE the soup among bowls. Garnish with cilantro; serve with chili oil and lime wedges.

    MORE FOR NATIONAL SOUP DAY

  • Different Types Of Soup: A Soup Glossary
  • The Different Styles Of Soup: Bisque, Broth, Chowder, Consommé, etc.
  • Soup Garnishes
  • Drizzled Soup Garnishes
  • Start A Soup Club
  • Soup In A Tea Cup
  • How To Finish Soups In A Blender
  • How To Puree Soup With An Immersion Blender
  • The History Of Soup
  •  
    ________________
    *Your supermarket probably carries the Thai Kitchen brand. It’s inexpensive and functional; but if you’ll be using fish sauce frequently, spring for one of the better brands from Thailand or Vietnam.

    †There is nothing like fresh lemongrass. Trim the outer leaves and the bottom (see photo above) and use the first six inches of the base. You can buy fresh lemongrass online and you may find frozen lemongrass locally, which is almost as good. Dried lemongrass is as pale a substitute as dried basil, parsley and other herbs. You can steep any leftover lemongrass, including the trimmed tops, into a delicious herbal tea. To substitute: Zest from 1 lemon = 2 stalks lemongrass. You can also use fresh lemon verbena, lemon balm or lemon leaves.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Oysters Rockefeller

    Oysters Rockefeller

    Oysters Rockefeller With Bacon

    Oysters Rockefeller With Cheese

    Oysters Rockefeller

    [1] Many Oysters Rockefeller recipes look something like this (here’s the recipe from Tide & Thyme). [2] Some add bacon (photo courtesy Arch Rock Fish). [3] Some have more sauce (here Mornay, a cheese sauce) than veggies (photo courtesy My Honeys Place. [4] An approximation of Antoine’s original recipe (photo courtesy Saveur Magazine).

     

    January 10th was the first-ever Oysters Rockefeller Day.

    It was celebrated big-time in New Orleans, where it was first created at Antoine’s Restaurant.

    Today, consider your own twist on the world-famous dish.

    OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER HISTORY

    Oysters Rockefeller was invented in 1899 by Jules Antoine Alciatore at the end of Gilded Age. (Jules was the son of restaurant founder Antoine Alciatore, who passed in 1874 and was succeeded by his wife, then his son. The restaurant is still going strong in the hands of the fifth generation, and is America’s oldest family-run restaurant).

    Served as an appetizer or first course created , the dish was named after John D. Rockefeller Sr. (1839 – 1937), who is considered to be the wealthiest American of all time and—by a majority of sources—the richest person in modern history.

    As necessity is the mother of invention, the dish was created because of a shortage of imported French escargots needed for his father’s signature recipe, Escargots Bourguignon: snails in a butter sauce of garlic, parsley and shallots, the first Antoine substituted brandy for the traditional white wine.

    With the shortage of snails and the waning interest in escargots, Jules Antoine created a replacement with local oysters, always available.

    The original sauce recipe is a secret, but is a purée of a several green vegetables: flat-leaf parsley, celery leaves, tarragon leaves, chervil and green onions, seasoned with salt, a dash of hot sauce and anise liqueur.

    There was no spinach, the green most often used in copycat versions.

    Oysters on the half-shell are topped with the sauce and bread crumbs, and then baked (now often broiled). They are served as an appetizer, first course or starter—different terms for the first dish of a multi-course sit-down meal.

    Why Oysters “Rockefeller?”

    The dish was named for the intense richness of its flavored roux (a paste, not a cream sauce, deemed “rich enough for Rockefeller”—John D. Rockefeller Sr., the richest man in history). The greens contributed the color of money. As with the escargots, there was anise liqueur.

    From what can be deduced, in Antoine’s original Oysters Rockefeller recipe, oysters on the half shell are topped with herbed breadcrumbs, butter and cream, then baked.

    The herbs and proportions are secret, but sleuths have determined that they include flat-leaf Italian parsley, celery leaves, tarragon leaves, chervil and green onions. Seasonings included salt, pepper and hot sauce.

    This became a “wow” dish in New Orleans, where oysters were popularly served on the half shell, but not incorporated into complex recipes.

    There is no record that Rockefeller (who died of arteriosclerosis) ever ate the dish.
     
    Chefs Make Oysters Rockefeller Variations

    A later variation of the recipe substituted spinach for most of the herbs, which is mainstream today.

    Some leave off the breadcrumbs and purée the green herbs/vegetables, creating a smooth green cloak over the entire oyster. Some mince the greens and mix them into the breadcrumbs.

    Over the years, other chefs garnished the recipe with shredded Gruyere or Parmesan, some with a thick layer of melted cheese covering both the oysters and the sauce.

    Bacon inevitably worked its way in.

     

    You can make your own signature recipe (more about that below), working off of this template—which of course isn’t the secret recipe, but a re-imagining of Antoine’s recipe by Saveur magazine.

    RECIPE: OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER

    We adapted this recipe from Saveur, which attempted to recreate the original. You can see it in Photo #4, the last photo above.

    The oysters are topped with a roux full of herbs and vegetables. Saveur’s variations from the original include:

  • Celery ribs instead of celery leaves.
  • Scallions instead of shallots (scallions are more flavorful; shallots are sweet and mild with a hint of garlic).
  • Cayenne instead of hot sauce.
  • Broiled instead of baked.
  •  
    As an appetizer, we prefer three large oysters. If you’re serving a big meal, two will suffice. And, if you’re having a NIBBLE-style eight-course meal, one will do.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 12 fresh oysters, chilled (the larger the better, not kumamotos)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 scallions, minced
  • 2 ribs celery, minced
  • 2 sprigs tarragon, stemmed and minced
  • 1 bunch parsley, stemmed and minced, plus sprigs to garnish
  • 1 tablespoon anisette, Pernod or other anise liqueur
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white* pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
  • Rock salt
  • Optional garnish: parsley or tarragon sprigs or whatever appeals to you
  •  
    We decorated the dishes with slender, red cayenne chiles for color—not meant to be eaten. But two guests ate them nevertheless!

    Variations For Your Signature Oysters Rockefeller

    Create your own signature version. Call it Oysters Rockefeller à la [Your Name].

  • Anchovy paste (1 teaspoon)
  • Anise flair: fennel instead of celery, anise liqueur, optional basil
  • Anise be gone: substitute watercress for the tarragon and brandy, sherry or wine for the liqueur
  • Brandy or white wine instead of the liqueur
  • Bread crumbs: panko, crunchy Japanese bread crumbs, instead of fresh crumbs
  • Gruyère, Jarlsberg or Parmesan (1/4 cup or less)
  • Heatless: nutmeg or Worcestershire sauce instead of cayenne
  • Homage to the original inspiration: escargots instead of oysters
  • Pipe the topping, like Duchess Potatoes
  • Spinach lovers: substitute spinach for 3/4 or more of the parsley
  • Surf and turf: add bacon, pork belly, crisped prosciutto
  • Wild card: add whatever you like!
  •  

    Oyster On The Half Shell

    Fresh Tarragon

    Rock Salt

    [5] Be sure to save the oyster liquor (photo courtesy Pangea Shellfish). [6] Tarragon, a popular herb in French cuisine, has an anise-like flavor and aroma (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [7] Rock salt is a good cushion so the oyster fillings don’t spill out when cooking and serving. This fine rock salt is great for serving. You can use a coarser version for baking, if it’s cheaper (photo courtesy The Bite Sized Blog).

     
    Preparation

    1. FILL 2 baking dishes halfway with rock salt. Shuck the oysters over a large measuring cup (e.g. Pyrex with a lip) or bowl to catch their liquor and reserve it (you should have about 1/2 cup). Discard the top shells. Loosen the oysters from the bottoms of their shells with a knife. Nestle 6 shucked oysters in their shells into each bed of rock salt; chill.

    2. MAKE the roux. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook until smooth, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the oyster liquor; cook until the mixture thickens into a paste, about 2 minutes.

    3. STIR in the cayenne, scallions, celery, tarragon, parsley, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until soft, about 1 hour. Transfer to a food processor, add bread crumbs, and process into a smooth paste, about 2 minutes.

    4. HEAT the broiler to high. Place the paste in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2″ fluted tip. Pipe the paste completely over the oysters. Broil until the paste begins to brown and the oysters are just cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Garnish each plate with parsley sprigs.
     
     
    CHECK OUT OUR OYSTER GLOSSARY FOR THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OYSTERS
    ________________
    *White pepper has been traditionally used by French-trained chefs, to avoid black specks in white or light-colored dishes. White pepper is the conventional peppercorn, Piper nigrum, with the black husk removed. In addition, much of the piperine—the compound that gives pungency to the peppercorn—is in the black husk. Frankly, we like the specks and the extra flavor from the husk, and use black peppercorns universally. If you don’t have white pepper, simply use black pepper. Here are the different types of pepper, including pink peppercorns, green peppercorns and dozens of others, none of which is Piper nigrum.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 30 Ideas For Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    For something delicious, impressive, healthful (except when loaded with cheese) and easy to make, we love meaty stuffed portabella mushrooms. We have our favorite fall transition recipes, as the lighter foods of summer transition to the heartier autumn and winter recipes.

    Stuffed portables are so versatile.

  • They can be vegan, vegetarian or stuffed with ground meat or poultry.
  • They can be filled with scrambled eggs and kale for breakfast, used instead of English muffins for a twist on Eggs Benedict.
  • Substitute ‘shroom for bread: the bun of a burger, the slices for grilled cheese.
  •  
    MUSHROOM COOKING TIPS

    To avoid sogginess:

    1. WIPE the mushrooms clean. Don’t wet them or or they’ll absorb water. You can use a slightly damp paper towel or a dry mushroom brush, which is softer than other vegetable brushes so it doesn’t bruise the delicate flesh.

    2. PRE-BROIL or pre-bake for 3 minutes or so, to release some of the mushroom’s natural water. Then stuff and return to the heat.

    3. COOK until the topping is just browned. Overcooking will release any remaining natural mushroom moisture into the your filling, as it dries out the mushroom.
     
    DIFFERENT STUFFINGS FOR PORTABELLAS

    Appetizers Or First Courses

  • Herbed goat cheese (garnish with croutons)
  • Mock onion soup: caramelized onions, croutons (or one large crouton) and gruyère (photo #4)
  • Pork or chicken sausage, spinach and smoked mozzarella; or lamb sausage with spinach and feta
  •  
    Salads

  • Artichoke hearts (not marinated) and pimiento (roasted red pepper) with optional pepper jack cheese
  • Caprese: chopped tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, drizzled with EVOO
  • “Cheese course” (photo #4)
  • Corn and black bean salad
  • Israeli salad: chopped cucumbers, tomatoes
  • Mesclun/baby greens with garnishes of choice (photo #1)
  • Salad base (“edible salad bowl”): arugula, spinach (with bacon and chopped onions)
  •  
    Sides

  • Caramelized onions and bacon (or variation: pork belly, proscuitto)
  • Cornbread stuffing, sausage and optional jalapeno
  • Grains: barley, pilaf, quinoa, risotto, wild rice, etc.
  • Gratins
  • Ratatouille
  • Mashed: cauliflower (photo #2), potatoes (photo #3), acorn/butternut squash
  • Pasta: orzo, soup pasta
  • Polenta, topped with shaved radicchio
  • Three bean salad
  • Dressing: bread cubes, onion, celery and anything else you add with the turkey dressing
  •  
    Mains

  • Chicken cubes, broccoli florets and sundried tomatoes
  • Chicken salad with apples, celery, red onion and parsley or other favorite recipe (we like this curried chicken salad with grapes)
  • Grilled cheese: the mushroom becomes the toast
  • Leftovers: stretch short ribs, stew, whatever (photo #7)
  • Portabella “pizza,” with marinara sauce, mozzarella, and your favorite pizza toppings stuffed into the cap (photo #9—anchovies, anyone?)
  • Shredded pork or other protein, with barbecue sauce or other condiment
  • Seafood gratin (photo #8)
  • “Tacos,” with seasoned chopped beef or turkey, chopped tomatoes or drained pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, sour cream or grated/crumbled cheese and a tortilla strips garnish
  •  
    CONSIDER…

  • Brush the caps with a flavored oil—basil, truffle, etc.—instead of olive oil spray.
  • Pay attention to seasonings. We’re big on fresh herbs.
  • Raw mushrooms can be used in salad preparations; but you can cook them if you prefer.
  • Garnish for fun and flavor, from breadcrumbs to pickled jalapeños.
  • Consider international focus, such as spinach, feta and oregano (with optional ground lamb), and curry, almonds and raisins.
  •  
    RECIPE: SPINACH-STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    Frozen spinach is a time saver in this easy recipe (photo #6, the bottom photo at right).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 portabella mushroom caps
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the oven rack in the middle and preheat the broiler on the high setting. Line a baking sheet with foil.

    2. WIPE the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel or a mushroom brush. Remove the stems and reserve for another purpose (eggs, salad, etc.). Spray the caps on both sides with the olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

    3. BROIL for 5 minutes on each side, or until just tender. While the mushrooms cook…

    4. DEFROST the spinach in the microwave according to package directions; place in a colander to drain. When cool enough to handle, press on the cooked spinach with your hands and extract as much water as possible out of it. Repeat this until you can extract more water (we wring it with our hands).

       
    Starters & Sides
    Salad-Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

    Mashed Cauliflower Stuffed Portabella

    Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

    Garlic-Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    Portabella Gratinee

    Spinach Stuffed Portabella

    [1] Enjoy a small salad in a portabella cap. You don’t have to cook the cap, but you certainly can. Here’s the recipe from Pom Wonderful. [2] Cauliflower purée in a portabella cap, from The Purple Carrot. [3] Mushrooms gratin: Fill with shredded gruyère or other melting cheese. Here’s the original recipe from Urban Accents). We turned ours into mock onion soup, filling the cap with caramelized onions, gruyere croutons. [4] Who could turn down mashed potatoes and bacon? Here’s the recipe from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. [5] This starter or side from A Food Centric Life is filled with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and lots of chopped herbs. We substituted garlic cloves for the goat cheese, and sprinkled on crumbled cheese when the ‘shrooms came out of the oven. [6] Easy spinach-stuffed portables from Healthy Recipes Blog.

     
    5. REMOVE the mushrooms from the oven. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (about 3 minutes). Add the onion and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until golden stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, spinach, the rest of the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring to blend, for 1 to 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and cool a few minutes; then mix in the Parmesan.

    6. FILL the mushroom caps with the stuffing, piled high. Place back under the broiler on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, or until the filling is golden.

     

    Main Courses

    Turkey-Broccoli-Cheddar Portobello

    Portobello Pizza

    Lobster Stuffed Portobello

    [7] Toss together leftovers: here, turkey, broccoli and cheddar (photo courtesy Mushroom Info). [8] Turn portabellas into mini pizza (here’s the recipe from Picture The Recipe). [9] Lobster in a cream sherry sauce (photo courtesy Mushroom Council).

     

    IS IT PORTABELLA, PORTABELLO OR PORTOBELLO?
    AND THE HISTORY OF PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    How can one mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, have three different spellings? After all, chanterelle is chanterelle, morel is morel, porcini is porcini.

    The answer: When Americans began to grow and sell cremini mushrooms in southeastern Pennsylvania in the 1960s, it was a very small output. The growers were largely from Italy, and grew the creminis they missed from the old country.

    A 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News noted that initially there was no market for the creminis. The public wanted pristine white mushrooms. Fortunately, the back-to-earth movement of the 1960s and 1970s opened the door for the growers to make another stab at selling them.

    According to Food Timeline, food experts generally agree on these points when it comes to the history of portabellas:

  • By accident, growers found that creminis that weren’t harvested grew into extra-large mushrooms (what became known as portabellas). These large mushrooms are here today despite early efforts to thwart them.
  • Both cremini and portobello mushrooms are first mentioned in the New York Times during the mid 1980s. The growers named the new variety. Portabella means “beautiful door; portobello means “beautiful port.”
  • In a 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News on the growing popularity of portabellas, Wade Whitfield of the Mushroom Council, an industry trade group, noted, “They are really culls. You didn’t want them in the mushroom bed. [Growers] would throw them away. There was no market. Growers would take them home.”
  • Whitfield then noted: “This thing has gone from nearly zero in 1993 to a predicted 30 million pounds this year. It’s a major item. It will be the largest specialty mushroom.”
  • According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, “‘portobello’ began to be used in the 1980s as a brilliant marketing ploy to popularize an unglamorous mushroom that, more often than not, had to be disposed of because growers couldn’t sell them.”
  • There is no definitive spelling. According to Food Timeline, an un-scientific Google survey at one point showed that portobello got the most searches (169,000), followed by portabella (33,100) and portobella (3,510). Wade Whitfield noted The Mushroom Council preferred “portabella”; we use “portabella” because we prefer how it rolls off the tongue.
  • We must point out, vis-a-vis the spelling variations of portabella, that cremini is also spelled crimini, and also called the brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom and Roman mushroom. Newer marketing names including baby portobellos, mini bellas and portabellinis. “Baby Bella” is a trademarked name.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MUSHROOMS IN OUR MUSHROOM GLOSSARY.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Back To Butter, Now OK To Eat

    Butter - Lard

    Butter A Rich History

    Bowl Of Butter

    Bread and Butter

    [1] Butter and lard: out of the shadows and back onto the table (photo courtesy A Canadian Foodie). [2] Butter lovers will enjoy Butter, A Rich History. Also check out Nourishing Fats: Why We Need Animal Fats for Health and Happiness.

     

    If your new year’s resolution includes cutting back on butter, you might re-think it. After years of being shunned as a contributor to heart disease, butter is in again.

    Recorded use of butter dates to 2,000 years B.C. (the history of butter).

    At butter’s peak in the 1920s, annual per capita consumption in the U.S. was 18 pounds about 72 sticks. At its nadir, in 1992, with research reports giving it the thumbs-down, per capita consumption dropped to 4 pounds.

    As recently as 2006, margarine sales outpaced butter’s. For those on a budget, margarine was/is $1 to $2 per pound less expensive.
     
    THE HISTORY OF MARGARINE

    In 1913, French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul discovered margaric acid; but it was not turned into a foodstuff until much later.

    Commercial margarine was invented in France in the 1860s, when Emperor Napoleon III offered prize money to whomever could find a cheaper substitute for butter, to feed the army and the poor.

    A French chemist, Hippolyte Mège-Mouriés, took the prize by inventing oleomargarine, an imitation butter made from refined vegetable oil and water. He patented it in 1869.

    Yet, while margarine was served to the army, it never took off in France: The French knew which side their bread was buttered on (the history of margarine).

    The good news: He sold the patent to the U.S. Dairy Company in 1871. Butter became very expensive during the Great Depression, and World War II rationed the supply, as dairy farmers went off to war. Margarine came into its own.
     
    LEAVING BUTTER BEHIND: THE 1980s

    Margarine never passed through the doors of our mother’s house. Her palate would only accept the best creamery butter, plus lard for her lauded pie crusts.

    When we first tasted margarine on bread in the college cafeteria, we agreed: Better no bread spread than one of vegetable oil.

    To those who can taste the difference, there is no substitute for butter in baking. We could tell at first bite if a cookie or cake was not made with butter…and tossed it.

    But it was the attribution of heart disease to animal fats that caused many people to back off of butter. Beginning in the 1980s, Americans were programmed by mass media reports to equate butter and fat with heart disease and poor health, and to head to low fat diets.

    Fortunately, research pointed to heart-healthy olive oil as an alternative, and many of us decamped to EVOO.

    But over the past few years, new research has deflated the biggest myths about cholesterol. It’s OK to eat an egg every day, and to butter your bread. And you need at least a tablespoon a day of butter or oil for skin and hair health. Add a second tablespoon of EVOO for heart health.

    These studies have shown that consuming butter (within reason, as with any food) is not bad for you, but is actually beneficial (source).

    Butter is full of vitamins and healthy fatty acids that help prevent tooth decay, cancer and even obesity (!). [NOTE: THE NIBBLE is not a medical expert. Consult with yours if you have questions or issues.]

    Animal fats are no longer demonized, at roughly the same time as plant-based trans fats were removed from the marketplace. The result: an animal fat renaissance.

    Americans have responded to the news. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per capita consumption rose to 23 sticks of butter, the highest quantity since World War II.

    And many restaurants never left it behind. Today, animal fats are more popular than ever. Chefs are cooking with not just butter, but with beef tallow, duck fat, even schmaltz—rendered chicken fat that was a mainstay of European Jewish cooking.

    Yes, chefs know that the secret to great flavor often lies in animal fat. So consult with your healthcare provider, and safely enjoy your share in the new year.
     
    OUR FAVORITE BUTTERS

    Do your own taste test; but in ours, the winners were, in alphabetical order:

  • Cabot Creamery (Vermont)
  • Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter (imported)
  • Plugrá (European-style butter made in the U.S. with 82% butterfat vs. the standard 80%)
  • Organic Valley (U.S.)
  • Vermont Creamery Cultured* Butter (our personal favorite)
  •  
    Depending on your preference for unsalted or salted butter, your favorites may vary.

    There are other great butters made in the U.S., including regional and artisan butters such as Kate’s Homemade Butter from Maine. But they are made in small quantities and hard to get ahold of.

     
    MORE “BUTTER IS BETTER”

  • Check out the different types of butter in our Butter Glossary.
  • European-Style Butter, an even richer version.
  • Butter Conversion: How to substitute salted butter for a recipe that calls for unsalted.
  •  
    ________________
    *After each milking, the cream is set aside and natural, lactic bacteria ripens it into cultured cream, a.k.a. crème fraîche.

     

      

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    HOLIDAY: Egg Nog Recipes For National Egg Nog Day

    National Egg Nog Day is December 24th. But you can enjoy the rich holiday beverage from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

    While the origins of egg nog are debated, it may have originated from posset, a medieval European beverage made with hot milk and white wine. Americans adapted it but used the New World liquor rum, and later, bourbon (which evolved to its present form in the late 19th century). Cider was also used.

    George Washington was quite a fan of egg nog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry.

    We know that there are eggs in egg nog, but what’s the “nog?” Opinions differ, but it’s an American name.

  • In Colonial America, rum was commonly called “grog,” and the descriptive term for the drink, “egg-and-grog,” may have corrupted to egg‘n’grog and then to egg nog.
  • Other experts insist that the “nog” is short for “noggin,” a small, carved wooden mug used to serve drinks in taverns.
  • It could even be a combination of the two: that an “egg and grog in a noggin” was shortened to egg nog. After having one or two, it’s easy to see why.
  •  
    In the 1800s, egg nog was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always a party drink. It was noted by an English visitor in 1866, that “Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nog for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging…It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended.”

    Here’s more on the history of egg nog.
     
    EGGNOG RECIPES

  • Chocolate Egg Nog Recipe
  • Classic Egg Nog Recipe
  • Coconut Egg Nog
  • Eggnog Martini Recipe
  • Eggnog White Russian Recipe
  • Flaming Egg Nog Recipe
  • Low Calorie Egg Nog Recipes
  •    

    Classic Eggnog

    Chocolate Eggnog

    [1] Classic eggnog (photo courtesy Liquor.com). [2] Chocolate eggnog (photo courtesy Pitch.com).

     

    Eggnog Gingerbread Cheesecakes

    Gingerbread-eggnog mini cheesecakes (photo courtesy Driscoll’s).

      HOLIDAY RECIPES MADE WITH EGGNOG

  • Egg Nog Crumble Bars Recipe
  • Egg Nog Mini Bundt Cakes Recipe
  • Eggnog French Toast Recipe
  • Eggnog Gingerbread Mini Cheesecakes Recipe
  • Eggnog Ice Cream Recipe
  • Eggnog Panettone Ice Cream Cake Recipe
  • Eggnog Panna Cotta Recipe
  • Eggnog Streusel Bars Recipe
  • Eggnog Truffles Recipe
  • Eggnog Whipped Cream Recipe
  • Eggnog Wreath Cookies Recipe
  • White Chocolate Eggnog Fudge Recipe
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