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Archive for Food Holidays

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.
  •  
    Plan a celebration: National Stuffed Mushroom Day is February 4th.

    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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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mulled Wine

    She uses a slow cooker: a great way to mull wine or cider without having to tend to it.

    After years of serving mulled wine, we realized that the popular garnishes are wasteful: They can’t be eaten, and are tossed out. That means you, cinnamon sticks, curls of peel, raw cranberries and star anise. So, we’ve settled on a seasonal garnishes that is edible, attractive and aromatic:

  • Orange wheel for the rim, especially blood orange; or a wedge studded with a few cloves for the aroma.
  • We’ve also made a glass rim of orange zest with a bit of superfine sugar.
  • For the same reason, we add dried cranberries to the pot instead of whole cranberries.
  •  
    We start with a conventional recipe and end up with a slow cooker alternative. Slow mulling is great because it doesn’t take up a stove top burner that you may need for cooking.
     
    TIPS

  • the juice and the brandy bring the yield to 46 ounces. If you’re serving 6-ounce portions in 8-ounce cups, that’s roughly 6 servings.
  • Make a batch without alcohol: mulled Apple cider with cranberry juice.
  •  
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this classic recipe from Wine And Glue.

    TIP: Serve mulled wine in a glass vessel. If you don’t have glass mugs or Irish Coffee glasses, consider getting some. They’re not more than $5 apiece, and you can use them year-round for any hot beverage. Rocks glasses and stemmed wine glasses also work.

    Ingredients

  • 750 ml bottle Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel (un-oaked)
  • 1-1/2 cups brandy
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, sliced and studded with 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (not cranberry drink or cocktail)
  • 1/3 cup honey or sugar (we prefer the flavor nuances of honey and use only 1/4 cup for less sweetness, more sophisticated flavor)
  • Optional: 5 cardamom pods, bruised
  •    

    Holiday Mulled Wine

    Orange Studded With Cloves

    [1] The conventional garnishes look beautiful, but you can’t eat them (photo courtesy Kitchen Treaty). [2] Our favorite garnish: an orange wedge (edible) studded with a few cloves (photo courtesy The Guardian).

     
    Variations

  • If you have cranberry liqueur, you can substitute it for all or part of the brandy.
  • Ditto for orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier.
  • Both of these will change the flavor profile a bit: more cranberry or orange flavor.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a large sauce pan. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes. You don’t want the alcohol to evaporate.

    2. SERVE warm. If you don’t have glass cups or mugs, you can also use stemmed wine glasses or rocks glasses.
     
    RECIPE #2: SLOW COOKER CRANBERRY MULLED WINE

    We adapted this recipe from Kate at Kitchen Treaty.

    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Zinfandel
  • 2 cups cranberry* juice (not cranberry cocktail)
  • 1 cup whole cranberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (substitute honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • Garnishes of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the wine, orange juice, cranberries, and sugar to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.

    2. SCRUB the orange, stud it with cloves and add it to the pot. If you don’t have the time to insert the cloves, just toss them into the pot separately. There are two techniques to stud an orange: use a thimble on your finger (pushing in more than a few starts to dent your finger) or first make holes with an ice pick or toothpick.

    3. COOK on low for 2-3 hours, until the cranberries are tender. Be sure not to boil. Remove the orange and the cinnamon sticks, then carefully pour the mulled wine through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Use the back of a large spoon to press on the cranberries and release the juices. Return the wine to the slow cooker and stir in the brandy. Taste and adjust the sweetness until it’s just sweet enough (the sweetness should be more elegant than a soft drink!).

    4. LADLE into mugs, garnish as desired and serve. Keep the slow cooker on the low setting so guests can help themselves to refills. Kitchen Treaty advises that if kept on low for more than three hours, it will boil—and boil off the alcohol.

     

    Mulled Wine Recipe

    Mulled Wine

    [3] and [4] Glass mugs or rocks glasses make mulled wine look even better (photo #1 courtesy Gimme Some Oven. Ali adds star anise to her recipe. Photo #2 courtesy Gordon Ramsay Group).

     

    RECIPE #3: MULLED WINE WITH VODKA

    This ingredient comes from Ocean Spray. The vodka is optional, but we highly recommend it!
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups Ocean Spray 100% Juice Cranberry Juice Blend
  • 1-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 three-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 6 ounces lemon flavored Vodka (substitute other citrus vodka or plain vodka)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries/Craisins
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except the vodka, dried cranberries and almonds in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer 15 for minutes.

    2. STRAIN to remove the spices. Stir in the vodka,

    3. PLACE 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries and 1-1/2 teaspoons almonds in the bottom of each glass or mug. Pour the in mulled wine and serve.
     
    WHAT DOES “MULLED” MEAN?

    According to Harvard University, the origin of the word “mull” to mean heated and spiced is shrouded in mystery. Mulling spices can include allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns and/or star anise. A “mulled” drink is one which has been prepared with these spices. The same spices can be added to the brewing process to make spiced beer.

    The custom is believed to have originated in northern Europe to use wine that had gone bad. The spices covered up the off taste, along with additions such as apples, oranges and dried fruits, including raisins.

     
    The technique is to heat the liquids with the spices and then strain them out before serving.

    The expression “cup of good cheer” comes to us from Merrie Olde England, referring to hot mulled cider and wine.

    “Wassail” (WASS-ul), meaning good health, began as a greeting among Anglo-Saxons, who inhabited England from the 5th century. They comprised Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, and initially spoke what we today call Old English.

    Centuries later, the term evolved into a drinking toast. The wassail bowl tradition began in the 14th century in southern England, home to apple groves galore and a lot of apple cider. The first wassail bowls contained hot mulled cider. When you come across references to “a cup of good cheer,” it refers to mulled cider or wine.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red Licorice For Chocolate-Covered Anything Day

    Christmas Twizzlers

    Chocolate Covered Licorice

    Christmas Candy Cake

    [1] These Christmas Twizzlers are available at Target and elsewhere (photo courtesy Candy Warehouse). [2] You can buy the artisan version from confectioners. These are sold on Etsy by Nicole’s Treats. [3] Wowsa: a kid’s fantasy Christmas Cake from Cake Whiz. Underneath: a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

     

    December 16th is Chocolate-Covered Anything Day.

    We love chocolate-covered apples-on-a-stick, bacon strips, berries, citrus peel, cookies, dried fruit (apricots and figs are our favorites [sorry, raisins]), graham crackers, gummies, ice cream pops, maraschino cherries, marshmallows, nuts, orange segments, popcorn, pretzels and potato chips. You can buy them or make them.

    What we haven’t tried:

    Chocolate-covered baby octopus, calamari, carrots, insects, Cheetos, corn dogs, edamame, garlic, jalapeños, jerky, kimchi and seaweed (from Korea), mashed potatoes (a Paula Deen recipe), onions, pickles, roses (real roses on their stems!), Slim Jims and wasabi peas.

    One source even recommended dipping these latter items in chocolate fondue!

    So today’s proposal, chocolate-covered licorice, should not sound far out. For licorice lovers, it’s quite a tasty variation.

    While it’s the week before Christmas and we propose a red-and-green theme, you can use this easy recipe for any holiday where the licorice stick colors work (black, brown, green, orange, purple, red, yellow-green, etc. (Check out the colors at Candy Warehouse.)
     
    CHOCOLATE-COVERED CHRISTMAS LICORICE

    Twizzlers makes red, green and white twist (photo #1), which you can find at Target, Candy Warehouse and elsewhere.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COVERED LICORICE
    (OR OTHER CONFECTION)

    Ingredients

  • Red licorice sticks (soft, not stale)
  • White chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate bar
  • Green food color
  • Optional: red and green sprinkles, confetti or other decorations (we had gold and white dragées at hand)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the licorice sticks in half. You can skip this step, but the half-sticks are easier to eat, and more size-appropriate when covered in chocolate.

    2. MELT the white chocolate in the microwave. We used a pie plate, which makes it easy to dip the licorice.

    3. TINT the white chocolate green. If you like, you can keep some of the batch white for drizzling over the green chocolate.

    4. DIP the licorice and set on wax paper to dry.

     
    TIP #1: We used sugar tongs. Ours have a serrated gripping edge.

    TIP #2: If you plan to store the licorice for a few days or longer, cut the wax paper in sizes that fit into the container. Then, just lift the wax paper and pop the sheet(s) into the storage container.

    5. DRIZZLE the optional white chocolate or add the sprinkles promptly, before the chocolate sets. If not using the same day…

    6. STORE in an airtight containe. We used our Le Creuset red rectangular baking dish, which makes a beautiful presentation; but you can use any baking pan and plastic wrap. Store at room temperature.
     
    WHY IS LICORICE PRONOUNCED LICORISH?

    The Scots pronounce it “licoriss,” from the Old French “licoresse.” In England and the U.S., it is “licorish.” Here are two theories as to why:

  • The phoneme may have shifted from /s/ to /sh/, as happened with the words “pressure” and “sugar.”
  • A 1685 spelling of “licorish” in England leads to speculation is that this pronunciation originated in a regional dialect of English, which changed many final “s” sounds to “sh.”
  •  
    The history of licorice.

     
      

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