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Archive for Food Holidays

TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Garlic Day

April 19th is National Garlic Day, and we’re celebrating with three of our favorite garlic products:

Garlic Pepper Jelly from Aloha From Oregon, a savory jelly that’s great on frankfurters and everything else (and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week)

Garlic Aïoli from Restaurant Lulu, a garlic mayonnaise that’s perfect for for seafood, sandwiches or dipping those frites, (and another NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), and

Garlic Valley Farms Garlic Juice, which jazzes up any dish (and wasn’t named a Top Pick Of The Week only because our Top Pick selections have always been a bit more glamorous than a spray-on garlic juice—but it’s amazing on salads, pizza, pasta, fish, eggs, anything)

Find more of our favorite jazzer-uppers in the Condiments Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

  Garlic Valley Farms Garlic Juice
You won’t believe how good it is!
 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Zippier Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipes

Today is a holiday you can really sink your teeth into: Grilled Cheese Day! In fact, April is also Grilled Cheese Month—a much tastier concept than Taxes Are Due Month. Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of our favorite comfort foods—for lunch, light supper or snacks (you can cut them in quarters for casual hors d’oeuvres, too). Ask at your cheese counter for a tastier alternatives to American cheese, and test to find your favorites. We love smoked mozzarella and Jarlsberg, a Swiss-type cheese from Norway; and we find that making our sandwiches in a panini press in the best method. Otherwise, a frying pan will do just fine. Assemble the sandwiches and butter the outsides with softened butter. Fry: When the bottom slices are golden brown (2 to 3 minutes), flip them over, press down with a spatula and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. We like tomatoes on our sandwiches: We first sprinkle them with oregano or marinate them briefly in a vinaigrette for added flavor.   Grilled Cheese SandwichTuscan-style grilled cheese combines Fontina, mozzarella and grilled vegetables.
But don’t stop there. We have a dozen gourmet grilled cheese recipes for you, along with tips on making the perfect grilled cheese sandwiches. Read the full article and pick your favorite recipes. We’ve been making two a day for lunch at THE NIBBLE offices, and the voting is intense. (HINT: If you love blue cheese, the two blue cheese recipes are a slam dunk…except for the sweet mascarpone and dulce de leche recipe. Testing and voting is HARD WORK!) Get the gang together and make all 12, for one heck of a grilled cheese-a-thon. When you’re done, you can fnd more sandwich recipes in the Bread Products section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Chocolate Caramel Day

Bequet Caramels
Celebrate with Béquet‘s Salt Chocolate Caramels, shown here with Espresso and Mocha.
  Today is National Chocolate Caramel Day. No arm twisting needed! While the traditional caramel flavoring is vanilla, the buttery bites have been variously flavored with chocolate, coffee, maple, lemon, habañero—whatever appeals to the imagination of the candy maker and palate of the buyer (and, let us tell you—the habañero caramels from Cowgirl Chocolates are the bomb—and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week). We went crazy for caramels last summer and nibbled on every one we could find, culminating in a review of our favorite caramels. People keep sending us more to taste, but we haven’t yet found any that we want to add to the list. Quality caramels are made with sugar and brown sugar, butter, heavy cream and the best flavorings (sea salt versus ordinary salt, the best maple or chocolate flavor, etc.). Like anything else, you can’t scrimp on the quality of your ingredients. It needs to be real vanilla, the freshest butter, etc., etc., etc.
Caramel is sugar that is melted into a syrup and cooked until the sugar crystals turn into a dark amber liquid. In this form, it can be used to coat nuts (that’s what pralines are) and popcorn (called “toffee popcorn”). Whisk in some butter, remove it from the heat and add cream, and you have a delicious caramel sauce. Cook those ingredients to what is known as the “firm ball” stage (245°F), and you get buttery, chewy caramel candy. Keep cooking the caramel to the “hard-crack” stage (290°F) and you’ll get crunchy toffee. Read about more of our favorite caramels in the Old-Fashioned Candy Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Oatmeal Cookie Day

We like oatmeal cookies, so we need no excuse to bake up a batch to celebrate Oatmeal Cookie Day. Our favorite variations are oatmeal chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin, where we substitute dried cherries for half of the raisins. But other people (specialty food companies, to be specific) have done a darn good job of baking their own variations on the oatmeal cookie. Here are some of our favorites:- Try the oatmeal cookies from Najla’s Kosher Gone Chunky. They arrive frozen, to be baked up whenever you need one or more. We must admit, they were so good, we ate the frozen dough from the freezer.   Oatmeal Whoopie Pie
Wicked Whoopies’ Oatmeal Whoopie Pie: creme sandwiched in-between two crunchy, cinnamon-flavored oatmeal cookie.
– The makers of our favorite chocolate chip cookies, Levain Bakery, also make an oatmeal raisin cookie—huge, moist and delicious.

– Yee hah, these spicy Ancho Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Sparx are good.

– If you need a sugar-free oatmeal cookie, Curious Cookie has good ones.

– And if you want a whoopie pie made with two oatmeal cookies and a creamy filling between them, Wicked Whoopie Pies will oblige (photo above). Find more of our favorite cookies in the Cookie Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Coconut Torte Day

March 13th, Coconut Torte Day, begs the question: What is a torte? Is it just a pretentious word for cake, something to make you think the torte is more special than an everyday cake?

Nein, mein freund. While torte is the German word for what the British (and Americans) call cake and the French call gâteau, they don’t refer to identical confections.

Different cooking traditions led to different styles of baking.

  • British cakes, German tortes and Italian tortas are generally hardier creations than delicate French gâteaux.
  • The French, those keen culinarians, went for light, rich, layered affairs stuffed with custard, whipped cream or butter cream, frosted, and decorated with fresh fruit—oh la la, but very perishable.
  • While British culinary tradition created sturdier, longer-lasting pound cakes and fruit cakes, tortes are rich, dense cakes made with many eggs and little or no flour, using ground nuts (and sometimes breadcrumbs) for texture.
  •  
    A torte is thus easily recognizable because it’s one layer that’s shorter than a typical cake layer, often no more than 2-1/2 inches high because there’s not much, if any, flour to rise. Flourless cakes are tortes. The crumb is denser than the airy crumb of a layer cake; it’s similar to the density of a Bundt cake.

    And a torte is wider than a cake—usually 10 to 12 inches in diameter compared to the typical 8-to-9-inch cake. That’s to compensate for the shorter height, so each short wedge will be a good portion.
     
    KNOW YOUR TORTES

    Alas, many people, including some bakers, use terms incorrectly. The following may be called “torte” by their makers and/or sellers, but are not tortes:

  • Bundt cakes
  • Layer cakes
  • Sheet cakes
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    Remember these words: one short, dense, round layer.

     

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    Coconut Torte

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    A torte can be plain or iced. Top: Plain coconut torte from SweetSmarts.com; it’s also sugar-free. Center: Key Lime Coconut Torte from Pixilated Crumb. Bottom: Flourless almond and coconut torte from Food52.com.

     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CAKES IN THE NIBBLE’S TASTY CAKE GLOSSARY.

      

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