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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Food Holidays/History/Facts

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Homemade Cookie Day

Start preheating the oven: October 1st is National Homemade Cookie Day.

Here are some of our favorite cookie recipes.

We could do chocolate chip, America’s favorite cookie; but we’re really in the mood for these Gingerbread Bars With Cream Cheese Icing.

In honor of the month of October—the beginning of “pumpkin season”—we’ll add some pumpkin purée to the icing (a tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin purée).

And, we’ll answer this question:

WHY ARE BROWNIES COOKIES, NOT CAKE?

You may wonder why brownies and other bar cookies are classified as cookies when they have a crumb (the professional word for the texture of baked goods, including bread and muffins) that is similar to cake.

The answer is: Cookies are finger food, cakes are fork food. Brownies, lemon bars and other bars are finger food, not fork food. It’s that simple.

 

What we’re baking for National Homemade Cookie Day: gingerbread bars with cream cheese frosting. Photo and recipe courtesy McCormick.com.

 
Check out:

  • The history of cookies
  • The different types of cookies
  • How to store cookies
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY & FOOD HOLIDAY: National Kale Day

    kale-varieties-nationalkaleday.org-230r

    Three stems of curly kale with one of red
    Russian kale. Photo courtesy
    NationalKaleDay.org.

     

    Yesterday we focused on kale’s cousin, kohlrabi. But today is National Kale Day. If you’re one of the few better-eating-oriented food enthusiasts who hasn’t yet tried kale, today’s the day.

    This is the second annual National Kale Day, established as the first Wednesday in October. The holiday was established by Drew Ramsey, M.D. and chef Jennifer Iserloh, authors of 50 Shades of Kale.

    Their objective was to draw attention to the superfood, which continues to grow in popularity in both the retail and foodservice (restaurants, schools and other institutions, etc.) markets.

    The kale trend has driven up sales 20%-30% in the last year alone. As an illustration of how popular kale has become, mainstream producer Dole Fresh Vegetables recently rolled out new six salad mixes, all with kale, including a Kale Caesar salad kit.

    Kale is grown around the world, and has been cultivated for some 6,000 years. It’s easy to grow and hearty: A kale plant continues to produce late into winter, and after a frost, kale becomes even sweeter.
     
    TYPES OF KALE

    If you’re already a fan of green kale, visit farmers markets for specialty varieties. There are more than 50 varieties of kale, but in the U.S. you’re most likely to find:

     

  • Curly kale, the variety typically found in grocery stores. It can be bright green, dark green or purple in color with tight ruffled leaves. The fibrous stalks can be difficult to chop, but they’re easy to tear if fresh. The flavor is pungent, peppery and bitter. Seek out younger looking leaves for less bitterness.
  • Lacinato kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale and other names*. It’s an Italian heirloom with blue-green leaves. Slightly sweeter and more delicate in flavor than curly kale, it has nutty, earthy notes.
  • Redbor kale, best known as ornamental kale, dark red or purple in color. It is certainly edible. You can grow it as a garden decoration and pick leaves as you need them, for cooking or garnishing.
  • Red Russian kale with flat leaves that resemble arugula leaves. It gets its name because the stems can have a red or reddish-purple tinge. It is considered one of the more flavorful kales, sweet and mild with just a bit of pepperiness. The stems, however, are too tough to digest and should be removed before cooking.
  •  
    *Lacinto kale is also called black kale, black Tuscan palm, cavolo nero (which means black cabbage in Italian), dinosaur kale, flat back cabbage, Italian kale, palm tree kale, Tuscan cabbage and Tuscan kale.

     

    To celebrate National Kale Day, make your favorite kale dish. Have you ever tried colcannon, a traditional Irish dish of kale (or cabbage) and mashed potatoes? We’re making it for dinner tonight, along with this kale salad:

    RECIPE: SHREDDED KALE WITH DATE PURÉE & PINE NUTS

    This recipe is from Svitana of ArtDeFete.com. She enhances a conventional vinaigrette with date purée for an exciting new flavor combination.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Date Purée

  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  •  

    shredded-kale-salad-with-date-puree-artdefete-230r

    Shredded kale salad with date purée. Photo courtesy ArtDeFete.com.

     
    For The Salad

  • 1 bunch kale, center ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Optional garnish: ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs, toasted
  •  
    For the Dressing

  • 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon date purée
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the date purée: In a food processor, combine dates, water, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and lemon juice. Blend until it resembles a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can keep date purée refrigerated up to two weeks or freeze for three months. Use the rest in smoothies or stir into yogurt.

    2. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and date purée until well combined. Season to taste.

    3. COMBINE the dressing and shredded kale in a large bowl; toss until well coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    4. ASSEMBLE the salad: Spread a thin layer (1 tablespoon) of date purée on each plate and top it with kale salad. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and toasted bread crumbs. Serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Better Coffee…& Mocha Truffles

    One hundred million Americans drink coffee daily. Sixty-eight percent of us have a cup within the first hour of waking up. (Here are more coffee statistics.)

    So for all of us making our first cup at home—from ground beans, not K-Cups—here are some helpful tips from Melitta Coffee:

    1. Buy coffee weekly. Once coffee is ground or the vacuum can is opened, coffee begins to grow stale in about 24 hours. To slow this process, store coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. We use this Friis Coffee Vault.

    2. Don’t refrigerate or freeze the coffee. It will acquire moisture unless it’s stored in a moisture-proof and airtight container (like the Friis). While some “tips” say that you can freeze beans in airtight containers, the results won’t be glorious when you defrost them. Freezing coagulates the natural oils in the beans and crystallizes the moisture inside them, which adversely affects the flavor and aroma. In espresso, those oils need to emulsify to produce the body and mouthfeel of the coffee. So don’t be tempted buy jumbo-size bargains in coffee, unless you’re going to use it up quickly.

       

    coffee-cup-derby-pie-230

    Have an extra cup today to celebrate National Coffee Day. Photo courtesy Derby Pie.

     
    3. Buy (or grind your own) extra fine grind coffee. When using finer grinds, it’s possible to use less coffee due to higher extraction levels. You get fuller flavor. Melitta recommends two level teaspoons per six ounces of water.

    4. Use paper filters to effectively trap bitter sediments. Cone shaped paper filters allow for full saturation of the grounds, but all good, quality paper will ultimately enhance the final cup more than gold or other metal filters.

    5. Drink coffee as soon as possible after brewing. If left on a burner, the coffee will continue to cook and starts to degrade in as little as 20 minutes.

    Another way to celebrate National Coffee Day is with a coffee or mocha dessert. Consider affogato, brownies, candy (we love these hard coffee candies), coffee ice cream, milkshake, mousse, panna cotta and tiramisu. Here’s a recipe collection from Folger’s.

    From Melitta, here’s a recipe for easy mocha truffles.

     

    truffles-asstd-beauty-dearcoco-230b

    Mocha truffles: a marriage of chocolate and
    coffee.

     

    RECIPE: MOCHA TRUFFLES

    Ingredients For Approximately 50 Truffles

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 squares (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon rum or coffee liqueur
  • 1¼ cup chocolate wafer crumbs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREAM butter and sugar thoroughly and add melted chocolate. Add coffee and rum; mix well. Chill for 3 to 4 hours, until mixture is firm enough to handle.

     

    2. DROP mixture by small teaspoonfuls and form into balls. Roll each in crumbs until well coated. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator, tightly covered.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: U.S. Coffee Drinking Statistics For National Coffee Day

    How about a cup or two of coffee drinking statistics for National Coffee Day, September 29th? This survey was conducted in July by Live Science.

    For starters, about 83% of adults drink coffee in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer of coffee, up from 78% a year earlier, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 online survey. That’s an average of three cups a day per person, or 587 million cups.

    Who’s Drinking Coffee & When

  • Total number of U.S. daily coffee drinkers: 100 million
  • Americans over the age of 18 who drink coffee every day: 54%
  • Percentage of U.S. coffee drinkers who claim to need a cup of coffee to start their day: 60%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who have a cup within the first hour of waking up: 68%
  • Percentage of coffee consumption that takes place during breakfast hours: 65%
  • Percentage of coffee consumed between meals: 30%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who drink 13 or more cups of coffee each week: 24%
  •    

    black-coffee-CBTL-230

    Thirty-five percent of Americans drink their coffee black. Photo courtesy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

     

    Cappuccino-CBTL-230

    Thirty million Americans drink a cappuccino,
    latte, mocha or other specialty drink. Photo
    courtesy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Thermal
    glass cup from Bodum.

     

    How Americans Drink It

  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who prefer their coffee black: 35%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who add cream and/or sugar: 65%
  • Number of daily coffee drinkers who drink specialty beverages (lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, etc.): 30 million
  • Percent of coffee drinkers who go to premium places (Starbucks, Coffee Bean) when they get coffee: 34%
  • Percent of people who go to lower-price outlets (McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) when they get coffee: 29%
  •  
    What Do We Pay For Our Coffee?

  • Average price of an espresso-based drink: $2.45
  • Average price for cup of brewed coffee: $1.38
  • Total average of money spent on coffee each year by coffee drinker: $164.71
  • Total amount of yearly money spent on specialty coffee in the U.S.: $18 billion
  •  

    Find more statistics on StatisticBrain.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: What Are Hops?

    September 28th is Drink Beer Day. Only a few ingredients are needed to make beer; typically, barley malt, unmalted grain, hops, yeast and water.

    We were explaining to a friend that our favorite beers are heavily hopped IPAs. “What exactly are hops?” he asked.

    We turned to Samuel Adams, the pioneering craft beer brewer, and to USA Hops, a nonprofit organization of growers, for an education.

    A hop is a flower that looks like a soft, green pine cone. It grows on a long vine. The flowers are almost exclusively used as a brewing spice in the production of beer.

    But what’s important to the brewer is not the whole flower or the petals, but the lupulin glands inside, which contain a golden resin. This resin is the depository of the alpha acids necessary for the hops to impart their signature bitterness and flavor to the beer. It also acts as a natural preservative.

     

    hops-luckyStarr-230

    Hops on the vine. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

     
    In mass brews, hops lend bitterness and not a lot more. But craft brewers select very specific types of premium hops, for their special aromatic flavor qualities over their bittering value. Aroma hops, as they are known, have lower alpha acid levels and produce an array of complex flavors and aromas—from citrus and fruit to pine and eucalyptus.

    Like any agricultural product, the unique conditions of soil, moisture, elevation and sunlight of the particular field have a direct impact on the quality and character of the hops. Hop varieties grown in their original regions will impart different flavors when grown elsewhere. The “hop belt,” where the most flavorful hops thrive, falls along the 48th parallel.

    Each region’s hop varieties impart different flavors, from the aromatic piney notes in German hops to earthy ale hops in England and the citrus brightness of American hops.

    SOME HOPS HISTORY

    The oldest hop growing region in the world is located in Bavaria, a temperate region in southeast Germany, just west of the Alps (Munich is the capital). The local Noble aroma hops varieties, low in bitterness and high in aroma, are prized worldwide.

    The earliest beers weren’t made with hops. The earliest mention of hop growing dates only to 1000-1200 C.E. in Germany. Prior to hops, other bittering agents, from juniper to roots and pine, were used. None could create the layers of flavor that hops impart, and it was a lucky day when the first brewer tossed those green flowers into the brewing vat.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry Cream Pie

    StrawberryCreamPie-calmilkadvisoryboard-230

    Make a delicious strawberry cream pie. Photo courtesy California Milk Advisory Board.

     

    Today is National Strawberry Cream Pie Day.

    A cream pie is a plain pastry or crumb pastry shell with a pudding or pudding-like filling. Butterscotch, chocolate, frangipane and vanilla are most common, as are banana cream pie, coconut cream pie, strawberry or raspberry cream pie.

    What’s the difference between cream pie and creme pie? Just the spelling. Creme is an Americanization of the French word for cream, crème (pronounced KREHM), most likely adapted in the U.S. to make the dish sound more special. But why mispronounce another language’s word for cream? Unless it’s a French recipe, such as Coeur à la Crème, stick to “cream.”

    And celebrate the day by making this delicious strawberry cream pie recipe, courtesy of the California Milk Advisory Board.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY CREAM PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

    For The Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup melted butter
  • For The Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (substitute almond extract, if desired)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. MIX the flour and powdered sugar together. Add the butter. Mix together and press mixture into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned then let cool.

    3. COMBINE the sugar, salt and cornstarch in medium size saucepan. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute then remove from heat.

    4. STIR a small amount of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Pour back into the pan and cook for 2 minutes more without letting the mixture boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; fold in sour cream. Cover and cool to lukewarm.

    5. LINE the pie shell with sliced strawberries and pour the filling over the berries. Chill well before cutting into wedges. Makes 8 servings.
     
    Also check out this raspberry cream pie recipe (National Raspberry Cream Pie Day is August 1st).

     

    berries-bowl-230

    Yummy strawberries are available almost everywhere. Photo courtesy California Strawberry Commission.

     

    See many more delicious recipes from the California Milk Advisory Board.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Food Fillers

    white-bread-Aaron-Bobrow-Strain-230

    Avoid puffy white bread, made with
    potassium bromate. And read this book!
    Photo courtesy Beacon Press.

     

    The website Healthcare Management Degree sent us the 411 on food fillers, and we’re happy to pass it on. You can also view it in infographic form.

    Their article, called “Food Isn’t Food Anymore: The Frightening World of Fillers,” explains the types of fillers found in prepared foods at grocery stores and restaurants. Fillers are also called additives. The goal of the fillers is to add a cheaper ingredient to a costlier one to help bulk up the weight of the food, thus lowering the overall cost.

    Fillers are mostly found in processed meats, and can lower the cost of meats by 10%-30%. The ground beef you buy likely contains filler, they write.

    While lowering the cost of food can sound like a great idea, here are the pros and cons of food fillers. This is not an exhaustive list, but highlights the most common fillers. And of course, not all brands use fillers: Read the nutrition label!

    CARRAGEENAN

    Carrageenan is a gel extracted from seaweed. It Is used as a thickening agent and emulsifier in dairy products such as chocolate milk, cottage cheese and ice cream. It is also injected into raw chicken and other meats to make them retain water, which makes the meat weigh more. You’re paying for water weight! (A similar trick is used to inject scallops with chemicals. Be sure that you are buying “dry” scallops, not “wet” scallops.)

     

    ISSUE: Seaweed generally has no adverse health effects, but it can trick the consumer into paying more.

    CELLULOSE

    Cellulose is a natural component of many plants. Much of the cellulose used as a food additive is derived from wood pulp, which is used in the production of paper! This cellulose is used in the manufacture of cereal, shredded cheese, salad dressing and ice cream. Cellulose appears in many high-fiber snacks, and eating organic won’t help you avoid it.

    Humans can’t digest cellulose, so adding it to food makes for a no-calorie, nonfat filler. Some may see that as a benefit.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Ingredients like microcrystalline cellulose (MCC), cellulose gel, cellulose gum or carboxymethyl cellulose.

     

    OLESTRA

    Olestra is a fat substitute synthesized by Procter and Gamble in 1968; its chemical name is sucrose polyester. The human body can’t digest its large molecules, so Olestra contributes no calories. It now used in Fat Free Pringles and Frito-Lay Light chips.

    It can have a laxative effect. Products containing Olestra were originally required to warn customers of the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years of introduction, 15,000 people had called a hotline set up specifically to take adverse-reaction complaints; however, in 2003, the FDA removed the warning label requirement following lobbying by P&G.

    ISSUE: In addition to digestive issues, Olestra appears to interfere with the body’s absorption of critical nutrients such as beta-carotene and lycopene.

     
    POTASSIUM BROMATE

    Potassium bromate is a chemical compound that helps bread to rise quickly and puff up during baking. Bread made with potassium bromate is fluffy, soft and unnaturally white. It is found in supermarket and fast food breads.

     

    hot-fudge-sundae-230

    Wood pulp in your ice cream? Could be! Photo by Lauri Patterson | IST.

     

    If the bread is not baked long enough, or if too much potassium bromate is added before baking, the amount in the end product can be much higher than recommended. In 1982, Japanese researchers published the first study linking potassium bromate to thyroid and kidney cancer in mice.

    ISSUE: Potassium bromate is illegal in China, the European Union, Canada, Brazil and many other countries. But it is legal in the U.S.

    SOY

    Soy derivatives can be found filling a variety of foods, from frozen yogurt to ground beef, and are estimated to be in almost 60% of the processed food sold in supermarkets. In ground meats, soy acts as a cheap filler, lowering both the price and overall quality of the protein,

    Soy contains high levels of phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that actually eliminates important vitamins and minerals from the body.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Soy is often listed as “vegetable protein.”
     
    THE FINAL WORD

    1. A good rule of thumb: The more ingredients are in a product, the less natural it is likely to be.

    2. Educate yourself on what you’re eating. Read those nutrition labels!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pecan Sandies

    pecan-sandies-tasteofhome-230

    Pecan sandies. Photo courtesy Taste Of
    Home.

     

    September 21st is National Pecan Cookie Day. Our favorite has got to be the pecan sandy, modeled after the French sablé.

    A shortbread-like butter cookie with a sandy texture, sablé means “sand” in French and refers to both the color and the texture of the cookies.

    The cookies originated in the Normandy region of France and are a very popular tea cookie. Common variations include chocolate and lemon sablés.

    In some sandy recipes, the dough is lighter than traditional dense, buttery shortbread. A pecan sandy is simply the shortbread with chopped pecans added to the dough, or a pecan half embellishment on the top of the cookie.

    This recipe is courtesy Taste Of Home. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 55 minutes.

     
    RECIPE: PECAN SANDIES

    Ingredients For 18 Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet.

    2. CREAM in a bowl the butter and sugar; stir in vanilla. Add flour; mix on low until well blended. Stir in pecans; mix well. Chill for 30 minutes.

    3. ROLL into 1-inch balls; place on the sheet. Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until bottom edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
     
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKIES IN OUR COOKIE GLOSSARY.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have Some Grenache

    brunello-230BSP

    A glass of 100% grenache is a new
    experience for most wine lovers. Photo ©
    Dusan Zidar | Bigstock Photo.

     

    Grenache (pronounced gruh-NOSH), called Garnacha in Spain, is one of the most widely planted (and highest-yielding) red wine grape varieties in the world. It’s most commonly found in blends, where it’s used to add body and sweet fruitiness. It’s not easy to find a 100% garnacha wine in many U.S. wine stores.

    But look for Las Rocas and other wines from the Aragon region of northeast Spain (where the grape probably originated, although Sardinia also claims it as a native grape). Five D.O.* regions in Aragon (Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta) are producing quality wines that are at least 85% Garnacha. (A wine that is at least 85% of a particular varietal can be called by that varietal’s name.) Las Rocas, at $15, os well priced.

    Grenache grows in hot, dry climates; Spain, Sardinia, the south of France and California’s San Joaquin Valley are prominent growing regions. It is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

    BLENDED INTO VERY POPULAR WINES

    In Spain, Grenache is blended into Rioja. It is used to make rosé wines in France and Spain. If you’ve had a bottle of Tavel (a district in the Côtes du Rhône), you’ve had grenache.

     

    Grenache was one of the first grape varieties introduced to Australia in the 18th century. It was the country’s most widely planted red wine grape variety until it was surpassed by Shiraz in the mid 1960s.

    In was also one of the first grapes to be successfully planted and vinified during the early development of the Washington wine industry, in the early 20th century.

    Wines made from Grenache tend to lack acid, tannin and color, which is why they are usually blended with Cinsaut, Syrah, Tempranillo or other grapes. In addition to the better-known red wine, there is a white grape, Grenache Blanc or Grenacha Blanca. A wine made with White Grenache is similar to White Zinfandel.

    White Grenache is a very important grape in France, where it is the fourth most widely planted white variety†. Like red Grenache (Grenache Noir), it is used as a blending grape in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

     

    CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL GRENACHE DAY

    To celebrate International Grenache Day—the third Friday in September, which this year is September 19th—the producers of Las Rocas Garnacha sent us a bottle of red. The brand name, which means “the rocks,” refers to the steep, rocky slopes where the grapes are grown.

    The flavors of grenache are typically spicy (look for white pepper) with berry fruit, often raspberry and strawberry (we found blackberry and black cherry in Las Rocas). The lower tannins make it softer on the palate; the alcohol content is relatively high (this year’s Las Rocas has 14.9% alcohol).

    GRENACHE & FOOD PAIRINGS

    Pair grenache as you would any medium-body red wine: with beef, chicken and turkey, lamb or pork, including stews. Its spicy qualities also pair well with international spices, such as garam masala and milder curries. The fruitiness also makes them a natural for dishes with dried fruit, such as Moroccan tagines; and with general sweetness, such as barbecue.

    In recent decades, the total acreage of Garnacha in Spain has been on the decline, with the vineyards being replanted with the more fashionable Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo.

     

    las-rocas-garnacha-230

    Celebrate International Grenache Day. Photo courtesy Las Rocas.

     

    Show your support of Grenache today: Enjoy a bottle with dinner.

     
    *D.O., short for Denominaciones de Origen, is similar to the French Appellations. Production of products produced in a particular D.O. are regulated by specific laws meant to ensure quality and consistency.

    †The first three are Ugni blanc, a blending grape; Chardonnay and Semillon.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Gourmet Potato Tots (A.K.A. Tater Tots)

    sandwich-tater-tots-redduckketchup-230

    Heaven: sandwich, beer, potato tots. Photo
    courtesy Red Duck Ketchup.

     

    They’re not quite senior citizens, but Tater Tots® hit the big 6-0 this year. You could buy a box to celebrate, or you could make your own, tastier tots—bite-size potato croquettes—from scratch.

    The Idaho Potato Commission salutes the tot as both an inspired potato product and a springboard for potato creativity. Its website boasts a collection of innovative tot recipes and variations on the theme.

    For example, enhance the potato mixture with:

    ROBUST SEASONINGS

  • Aromatics, such as truffles
  • Herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme)
  • Onion or scallion—lots more than in Tater Tots*
  •  
    ELABORATE STUFFINGS

    Stuffed Tots with elaborate fillings:

  • Simple proteins (crumbled bacon, shredded crab, Parmesan, blue cheese)
  • Braised pork
  • Curried chicken
  •  
    HEARTY TOPPINGS

  • Breakfast scrambles
  • Chili
  • Nachos
  • Poutine (brown gravy and cheese curds†)
  •  
    *The ingredients in Tater Tots are potato, vegetable oil, salt, corn flour, onions, dextrose (a simple sugar also known as glucose), disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (an antioxidant that prevents potatoes from turning brown) and natural flavoring.

    *Traditional poutine consists of these toppings on fries, but we’re borrowing them for tots.
     

    TATER TOTS VS. POTATO TOTS

    The term Tater Tots is used generically, like Kleenex; although it’s a trademark of Ore-Ida, which invented the little potato bites in 1953. If you’re referring to anything but the Tater Tots brand, call them “potato tots.”

    Tater Tots are made from deep-fried, grated potatoes, resulting in crisp little cylinders of hash brown-style potatoes. Tater is American dialect for potato, and “tots” came from their small size.

    Ore-Ida founders, brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, were considering what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes from their signature French fries. They chopped them up, mixed them with flour and seasonings, and pushed logs of the grated/mashed potato mixture through a form, slicing off and frying small pieces.

    Tater Tots began to arrive in grocery stores in 1954. They quickly caught on as a snack food, a side dish and the foundation for casseroles at dinner tables across America.

    The Ore-Ida brand was acquired by H. J. Heinz Company in 1965.

     

    LOADED POTATO TOTS

    This potato tot recipe borrows from the “loaded baked potato” concept, adding bacon, chives, shredded cheese and sour cream.

    Ingredients

  • 2½ pounds russet potatoes, divided
  • 2 ounces bacon, double-smoked, cooked, chopped
  • 6 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, as needed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 each eggs, lightly whipped
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  •  

    loaded-potato-tots-idahopotatocomm-230r

    Loaded Potato Tots. Photo and recipe courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. BOIL 2 pounds of potatoes. Cool, peel and mash.

    2. COMBINE bacon, cheese, chives, butter, cream, pepper and salt to taste in a large bowl; blend well. Roll into 1-ounce pieces, place on wax paper-lined sheet pan and chill overnight.

    3. SHRED remaining potatoes, using a box grater, into a shallow bowl.

    4. PLACE flour in another shallow bowl. Roll potato tots in flour to lightly coat then coat in egg. Roll in shredded potatoes to form crust. Return to sheet pan and chill.

    5. HEAT oil to 375°F in a heavy-bottomed pot, and fry balls until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel to drain. Season with salt and serve.
     

    AND THERE’S MORE

  • Recipe: Baked Potato Tots
  • History of potatoes
  • Potato Types
  •   

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