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Archive for Food Holidays

TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Blueberry Pancake Day

While we never turn down a plate of pancakes, this is another one of those holidays where we must question the wisdom: Why have Blueberry Pancake Day when blueberries are out of season? Who wants to make pancakes with highly expensive, not very sweet, fresh blueberries, or with tart frozen ones? The best solution, we think, is to sprinkle tasty dried blueberries onto your pancakes. We also recommend the following diversions:   Blueberries
Why schedule Blueberry Pancake Day when blueberries are out of season?
– THE NIBBLE’s Pancake Glossary, with dozens of different types of pancakes you’ve probably never heard of.

– An understanding of the grades of maple syrup.
– A review of Cherrybrook Kitchen’s allergen-free pancake mix.
Robert Lambert’s Gourmet Syrups for pancakes (and many other uses)—no maple here, but you might enjoy Bergamot or Kaffir Lime.

– The amazing Blender Bottle, perfect for mixing pancake batter without a whisk, egg beater or electric mixer (campers take note).

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Chocolate Cake Day

Chocolate Cake
Satisfy your chocolate yearnings with this cake, made from the Triple Chocolate Cake Mix and Milk Chocolate Frosting from The King’s Cupboard.
  Today is Chocolate Cake Day. There are many who opine that every day should be Chocolate Cake Day. Some days, we’re with them. Then we remember that there is too much of a good thing. And if every day were Chocolate Cake Day, when would we have lemon tart, pumpkin pie, apple crumble, etc.? So, you’ve got to watch what you wish for.

If you have a refined palate, you may have noticed that it’s not easy to go out and buy a great chocolate cake. We experience quite a bit of frustration when we bring home something that looks good—for which we have paid quite a handsome price—and the taste just isn’t there. It isn’t as if the bakery used (zut alors!) margarine instead of butter. The two biggest shortcomings are anemia in the chocolate department, and/or overly sweet, in both cake and frosting. You should never be able to taste the sugar in a recipe, any more than you should taste the salt.
So, aside from baking your own favorite recipes from scratch, what’s a time-pressed person to do to celebrate Chocolate Cake Day?

– Keep a few boxes of the most excellent chocolate cake mixes from King’s Cupboard on the shelf.

– Bake up some of the King’s Cupboard Molten Chocolate Cakes & Gourmet Chocolate Cake Mixes (lava cakes). The Molten Chocolate Cakes are the “volcano cakes” or “lava cakes” you always order at restaurants…and you can make them at home in nine minutes. The gourmet cake mixes include Triple Chocolate Cake Mix and White Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Mix, with Triple Chocolate Frosting and Milk Chocolate Frosting to match.

– Splurge on our favorite Empire Torte, a dense, flourless chocolate cake that we admit an addiction to.

– Make this Chocolate Macaroon Bundt Cake. If you love Mounds bars, this is your slice of heaven.

If you want to bake from scratch, try this Chocolate Cabernet Flavors Di ‘Vine’ Cake, the 2007 winner of Bundts Across America. You can try it with a fruitier Cabernet Sauvignon; but you might want to take a look at our Wine & Dessert Pairings chart. Our Wine Editor prefers Late Harvest Zinfandel, Lustau Muscat Sherry “Emlin,” Recioto Amarone or Vintage Port with his chocolate cake.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Pistachio Day

We’re the last to make light of Fundamentalist Islam, but we do have better pistachios for it. Prior to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, there was no pistachio industry in the U.S. A series of political events ensued, beginning with the fundamentalist Islamic revolution of the Ayatollah Khomeini that ousted Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. It was followed by the Iran Hostage Crisis, in which the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was stormed and 66 hostages were taken. This led to a U.S. trade embargo against Iran. Since a majority of the pistachios eaten by Americans were imported from Iran, California farmers saw the opportunity to plant the crop. A better pistachio resulted, since the U.S. has the benefit of more modern farming methods. When there are delays in processing the harvested nuts, the white shells begin to stain and blemish, which is why pistachios from the Middle East were often dyed a cover-up red. (Later, pistachios were dyed red to stand out in vending machines; today, some pistachios are still dyed red for marketing purposes.)   Pistachio NutsPerfect pistachios from Santa Barbara Pistachio Company.
Now that you have some historical perspective, go nuts and celebrate. Our favorite pistachios come from Santa Barbara Pistachio Company. They have regular pistachios plus wonderful flavors (Crushed Garlic, Hickory Smoked, Red Hot Habañero Lemon Zing and more) plus gift assortments in case your valentine doesn’t like chocolate. Ready about more of our favorite gourmet salty snacks in the Snacks Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Peanut Butter Day

Peanut butter lovers have a day to celebrate—and to try new and different peanut butters. Take a look at this comparison of the two-dozen-plus different flavors offered by our favorite brands. P.B. Loco’s Sundried Tomato PB is one of our favorite flavors; their Asian Curry makes instant sesame noodles, as well as an exotic PB sandwich. Both of these savory flavors can be enjoyed with roast beef or turkey, instead of mustard or mayo, and with vegetable sandwiches (try avocado). We put them in vegetable sushi, too, instead of wasabi. We eat the Raspberry White Chocolate PB from the jar like candy; the Sumatra Cinnamon and Raisin PB is the best of its breed. All of the savory flavors of Peanut Better demand to be tried. The Onion Parsley and Rosemary Garlic are incredible—you’ll make amazing hors d’oeuvres with them, as well as enjoy them on sandwiches with the aforementioned turkey and beef. The Peanut Better line is certified kosher and organic. Read our full reviews of P.B. Loco and Peanut Better, and bake this banana bread recipe with PB.   Peanut Butter
All PB is not created equal: If you love your peanut butter, try these gourmet brands, and their special flavors.
 

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FOOD HOLIDAY: It’s National Peanut Butter Day

If you love peanut butter, expand your horizons and try some of the more than two dozen flavored gourmet PBs we’ve had the joy to experience. First, take a look at our article on the different flavors of gourmet peanut butter. Then, Read our individual reviews of P.B. Loco and Peanut Butter (Peanut Better is USDA certified organic and kosher, too). P.B. Loco’s Sun-Dried Tomato PB is one of our favorite flavors, by itself or with turkey, ham, roast beef or cheese. It makes wonderful hors d’oeuvres, too—people can’t believe what they’re eating. Whether you fill celery, fennel, pastry cups or just serve it on crackers with a counterpoint of olive or other vegetable (or even a salty peanut), it’s easy and fascinating. You can do similar things with the Asian Curry PB, but we love to use this flavor to make quick and yummy sesame noodles. On the sweet side of P.B. Loco, the Sumatra Cinnamon and Raisin PB is the best we’ve ever had of the genre, and we can eat the White Raspberry Chocolate from the jar for dessert. If you need a real pick-me-up, try it on a piece of chocolate bar—you’ll forget all about peanut butter cups. Read our full review of P.B. Loco.   Peanut Butter
Even if you think plain peanut butter is delicious as is, try the gourmet flavors.
Moving on to Peanut Better, the savory flavors knock our socks off. You might not consider buying Onion Parsley or Rosemary Garlic Peanut Butter—but you’d be missing out on a taste sensation. Enjoy them in the sandwiches and hors d’oeuvres described above, or an any recipe that calls for PB—the dimension that these nut butters add to peanut soup cannot be described! The Thai Ginger And Red Pepper (also great for sesame noodles), Spicy Southwestern and Hickory Smoked PBs also rock the house. The sweet flavors are also delightful, but the savories blow us away. Read our full review of Peanut Better. They’ll make you look at peanut butter not as a bread spread, but as a gourmet cooking ingredient. Happy Peanut Butter Day!

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