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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 Gourmet News

PRODUCT: Cake In A Jar

Way back in 2009, we discovered the excellent cake in a jar from Yummy Cupcakes in Los Angeles. It became a Top Pick Of The Week, and one of those products that, years later, we still pine for, remembering every spoonful.

The trend was slow in starting. After five years, in the past week we’ve received notice of two more cake in a jar products.

DUFF’S CAKEMIX

The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman, has a custom bakery in Baltimore, a line of cake mixes and cake decorating accoutrements sold nationwide, and most recently, a bakery café, Duff’s Cakemix, also in L.A., which includes a studio where Duff wannabes can decorate their own cakes.

The bakery offers an array of freshly baked sweets, including Dinkies (Duff’s version of Twinkies) and Cake in a Jar.

The latter presents an opportunity to send a special occasion “slice” of cake in a Mason jar, which keeps it moist and fresh for five days (not that there will be any left by then).

So gift challenges are solved: You can send cake in a jar as a birthday gift, or to celebrate any occasion. There’s currently a seasonal red, white and blue Star Spangled Cake In A Jar.

   

confetti-cake-duffscakemix-230

Confetti Cake is sweet and celebratory. Photo courtesy Duff’s Cakemix.

 
You can buy them in two, four or six units, and in two sizes: 8 ounces ($14 for two jars) or 16 ounces ($20 for two jars). The eight-ounce size is more than enough, but the larger size will keep for five days and affords the opportunity for continuous celebration.

Flavors include Chocolate With Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Chips, Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream, Marble With Chocolate And Vanilla Buttercream and Vanilla With Vanilla Buttercream.

We received a sample of the Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream. The confetti says “celebrate”; the recipe was a bit on the sweet side for us, but should be just the thing most American palates are looking for.

Order them online at DuffsCakemix.com.

 

jar-open-chicagocake-230

Skip the wedding cake; almost everyone will
prefer cake in a jar. Photo courtesy Chicago-
Cake.com.

 

CAKE CHICAGO

We then received news that one of our favorite artisan bakers, Cake Chicago, is selling cake in a jar.

Cake Chicago began life as a wedding cake specialist, subsequently branching out into daily treats like cookies, bars and chocolate truffles.

So it’s no surprise that their cake in a jar achieves a higher standard. Just look at the elegant layers in the jar, perfectly fitted.

We’d give these as wedding favors and serve a dessert that most guests will prefer to wedding cake. As you can see in the photos, the perfectly-fitted layers and make an excellent presentation.

Like Duff’s, the jars can be wrapped in grosgrain ribbon, and tags can be added for quantity orders.

 
Flavors include:

  • White buttermilk cake with raspberry conserve and Italian meringue buttercream
  • Chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel filing
  • Carrot cake with cream cheese filling
  • Banana cake with fudge filling
  •  
    The price is the same as Duff’s: $7.00, with a two jar minimum (8 ounce size only). Order online at Cake-Chicago.com.

    And if anyone out there wants to send us a gift: More cake in a jar, please! It’s a happy way to enjoy a nice piece of cake.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Eclair Day

    June 22nd is National Chocolate Éclair Day. Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts has gone beyond mere classic chocolate, announcing the launch of a global éclair program helmed by the great Johnny Iuzzini, James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Le Méridien guests worldwide can indulge in a variety of modern twists on the Parisian pastry.

    Chef Johnny will create eight seasonal éclair recipes, inspired by his travels through various Le Méridien destinations (tough job!). Each hotel will offer modern takes on three signature éclair flavors—chocolate, coffee and vanilla—as well as one locally inspired flavor.

    You’ll find Maple Bacon Éclair and Texas Honey Pecan Éclair at Le Méridien Dallas, and Dulce de Leche Éclair, infused with coconut, at Le Méridien Panama. In Germany, Le Méridien Munich will offer a savory éclair with goat cheese, cranberry and pumpernickel crumbs, while Le Méridien Bangkok will feature a citrus-inspired treat with mango, lime and ginger.

    How do we get onto the global Le Méridien éclair tour?

     

    eclairs-iuzzini-lemeridien-230

    Chef Johnny Iuzzini gets groovy with éclairs. Photo courtesy Le Meridien Hotels.

     

    ÉCLAIR HISTORY

    An elongated, finger-shaped pastry made of pâte à choux (puff pastry), filled with whipped cream or custard and topped with ganache or a glacé icing (glaze), the éclair is known to have originated in France around the turn of the 19th century. \

    The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word “éclair” in the English language to 1861. The first known recipe for éclairs appears in the 1884 edition of the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, edited by Mrs. D.A. Lincoln (and later by Fanny Farmer). “Éclair” is the French word for lightning. It is suggested that the pastry received its name because it glistens when coated with confectioner’s glaze. We would suggest that it is because they are so popular that they disappear as quickly as lightning.

    Many food historians speculate that éclairs were first made by Marie-Antoine Carême (1874-1833). This brilliant man, cast out by his impoverished family at the age of 10, made his way in the world to become the first “celebrity chef.” He is considered to be the founder and architect of French haute cuisine; an enormously popular cookbook author and chef to Talleyrand, the future George IV of England, Emperor Alexander I of Russia and Baron James de Rothschild. The elite clamored for invitations to dinners cooked by Carême.

    We can only dream…and live vicariously by reading his biography.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Crudité Flag, A July 4th Snack

    We launch this year’s series of red, white and blue July 4th foods with a crudité flag.

  • The red and white flag stripes are cauliflower florets, red cherry tomatoes and red bell pepper strips. (Remove the stems from the tomatoes—the green color doesn’t belong on the flag.)
  • The blue field with white stars is represented by blue tortilla chips.
  • The white stars are represented by the dip, served on the side.
  •  
    The flag was made by Heluva Good, which served the flag with its own sour cream-based dips.

    But we think a blue cheese dip does the best job of Here’s a recipe.

     

    crudite-flag-heluvagood-230

    Old Glory as chips and dip. Photo courtesy HeluvaGood.com.

     

    Variations: You can use other “white” vegetables, including jicama or peeled cucumber and/or summer squash.
     
    MORE

    Check out this bacon pizza American flag.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Vanilla Milkshake Day & A Spiked Milkshake

    Twist and Shout Shake-hardrockcafe-230

    Shake guinness and spiced rum with vanilla ice cream. Photo courtesy Hard Rock Cafe.

     

    Get ready for tomorrow, June 20th: National Vanilla Milkshake Day. Here are two spiked vanilla milkshakes courtesy Hard Rock Cafe.

    RECIPE: SALTED CARAMEL VANILLA MILKSHAKE WITH
    GUINNESS & SPICED RUM

    Hard Rock calls this the “Twist and Shout.”

    Ingredients For 1 Shake

  • 2 ounces Guinness Draught
  • 1 ounce Bacardi OakHeart or other spiced rum
  • ½ ounce dark Crème de Cacao
  • ½ ounce chocolate Syrup
  • ½ ounce Monin Salted Caramel Syrup
  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • Optional garnishes: crispy bacon or candied bacon, whipped cream
  •  

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a blender. Pour into a tall glass.

    2. GARNISH as desired and serve.

     

     

    RECIPE: VANILLA & PEAR MILKSHAKE WITH BEER & VODKA

    Want something fruitier? Hard Rock’s “Voodoo Brew” is a beer-based shake with blueberry vodka and pear syrup.

    Ingredients For 1 Shake

  • 2 ounces Shock Top or other Belgian white ale
  • 1 ounces Smirnoff or other blueberry vodka
  • ¾ ounces Monin desert pear syrup
  • 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • Optional garnishes: fresh blueberries, pear slices, whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a blender. Pour into a tall glass.

    2. GARNISH as desired and serve.
     

    Here’s another vanilla milkshake recipe and the history of the milkshake.

     

    smirnoff-blueberry-vodka-bkgd-230

    Use beers, liqueurs or flavored vodkas to spike conventional milkshakes. Photo courtesy Smirnoff.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Easy Cherry Tart

    cherry-tart-seandooley-redjacketorchardsFB-230r

    Queen Anne cherries in a tart for National
    Cherry Tart Day. Photo courtesy Sean Dooley
    | Red Jacket Orchards..

     

    Today is National Cherry Tart Day. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make a delicious cherry tart—or any fruit tart.

    Pick any seasonal pie fruit—currently apricots, figs, nectarines, plums and strawberries. Don’t bother with a filling: You won’t notice it with the delicious fruit and the delicious crust.

    You can buy or make crème fraîche; here’s a recipe. Or, substitute vanilla ice cream.

    Prep time is 90 minutes.

    RECIPE: EASY FRUIT TART

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 11 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 2-1/2 to 3 pounds fruit: apricots, cherries, figs, nectarines, peaches, plums, etc.
  • 6 tablespoons red currant jelly, melted
  • Garnish: 1 cup crème fraîche, for serving (recipe)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. COMBINE flour, salt and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl or food processor. Dice 8 tablespoons of the butter. Use a pastry blender or two knives to blend the flour mixture and butter in a bowl until crumbly, or pulse them together in a food processor.

    2. BEAT the egg yolk with 3 tablespoons of cold water. Dribble over the flour mixture, then stir (in bowl) or pulse slowly (in food processor) until the mixture starts clumping together. Add more water as necessary. Shape the dough into a loose ball and form into a disk on a lightly floured surface.

    3. ROLL out the dough and line a 10-inch loose-bottom fluted tart pan. Cover the pastry with a sheet of foil and place pastry weights or dry beans on top. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove foil and weights from the crust. Return the crust to the oven and continue baking until it is lightly browned, another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; increase temperature to 400°F.

    4. PIT and slice the fruit: cherries in half, most other fruit in eighths, figs or other small fruit in fourths.

    5. BRUSH the crust with the melted preserves (this prevents the crust from becoming soggy). Arrange the fruit in tight concentric circles, skin side down, starting with the perimeter. The fruit should “stand up.”

    6. MELT the remaining butter on low and cook until it turns a light nut brown. Brush the fruit with the butter and dust with the remaining sugar.

    7. BAKE 35 to 40 minutes, until the edges of the crust have browned but fruit is still perky (not collapsed). Cool and serve with crème fraîche.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Donut Cake

    It’s the perfect celebration cake for a donut lover: a donut topped layer cake!

    This fun food was made at Duff’s Cakemix, a bakery café and do-it-yourself cake decorating studio in Los Angeles. The business is helmed by chef/co-owner Duff Goldman, TV’s Ace of Cakes.

    You can let your Inner Duff come out even if you’re nowhere near L.A. Simply head to the website and Facebook page for inspiration.

    Then, start mixing up your own food fun.

     

    donut-cake-duffscakemixFB-230

    Two favorites in one! Photo courtesy Duff’s Cake Mix | Los Angeles.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Chocolate Face Mask

    chocolate-face-mask-secretbeautybar-230r

    Another way to enjoy chocolate. Photo
    courtesy Elizabeth’s Secret Beauty Bar |
    Miami.

     

    If you have no Father’s Day plans, how about treating yourself to a chocolate face mask?

    Elizabeth Garcia of Elizabeth’s Secret Beauty Bar in Miami shares the recipe for her signature chocolate mask. You can use it on the face to rehydrate, and on your body or feet as well.

    Spas that promote chocolate say it is a natural way to exfoliate, and promote the “rich antioxidants that help to combat free radicals, which are responsible for our cell aging.”

    Forget about that: A surface mask isn’t going to penetrate and protect you from aging.

    Instead, enjoy a chocolate mask because it’s fun and puts you in a good mood, from the scent alone. Chocolate-loving men will enjoy it as much as the ladies.

    Here’s how to mix your own:

     

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE MASK

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder (preferably organic)
  • 2/3 cup water (preferably bottled water)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (preferably organic)
  • 5 drops of coconut oil (substitute mint or orange oil)
  •  
    Instructions

    1. PLACE coconut oil and honey in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave with honey for 6 seconds.

    2. BLEND cocoa powder into coconut oil/honey and stir until mixture becomes creamy.

    3. APPLY to your skin using a facial brush; leave on until it hardens. Elizabeth does not recommend using your fingers. We used a wood tongue depressor. We also recommend soothing music. Chopin worked for us!

    4. REMOVE with cool wash cloth in an upward motion.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Strawberry On A Stick

    Here’s a new take on strawberry lollipops: fresh strawberry “lollipops.”

    Whole strawberries are speared on lollipop sticks, dipped into honey and rolled in chopped nuts.

    This better-for-you sweet treat looks very tempting, and delivers:

  • The heart-healthy and anti-cancer power of strawberries, rich in phytonutrients and potassium.
  • The heart-healthy oil and protein of your favorite chopped nuts.
  • The minerals and vitamins of honey: amino acids, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6 and zinc.
  •  
    For a lower-glycemic natural sweetener, substitute agave for the honey.

    Serve them on a cake pop stand or repurpose a piece of styrofoam.

     

    A good-for-you dessert or snack. Photo courtesy MolecularRecipes.com.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPES: Cocktails With Black Olives

    dirty-martini-black-olives-califripeolives

    Make a Dirty Martini with black olives instead
    of the green ones. Photo courtesy
    CalOlive.com.

     

    Many people enjoy olives in their Martinis, or a Dirty Martini made with olive brine. But these are green olives, typically stuffed with pimento.

    Why give black olives (ripe olives) the cold shoulder? Here are some recipes from California Ripe Olives to inspire entertaining. Try them for Father’s Day!

    BLACK OLIVE MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce black olive brine
  • 1 teaspoon dry vermouth
  • Garnish: 4 black olives
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, olive brine and dry vermouth. Shake for several seconds to mix, then strain into a Martini glass.

    2. Garnish with a pick of black olives and serve.

     

    A michelada is a Mexican “beer cocktail,” combining beer, lime juice, and assorted seasonings: chiles, sauces and spices. This recipe adds tequila: a perfect fusion for a lover of both tequila and beer.

     

    RECIPE: BACK PORCH BEER COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Cocktail

  • 1-1/2 silver (blanco) tequila
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce black olive brine
  • 1/4 ounce homemade sweet and sour mix (recipe)
  • 1 pinch prepared pico de gallo (fresh salsa—here’s a recipe)
  • 5 ounces Mexican beer
  • Garnish: lime wedge and black olive
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, olive brine, sweet and sour mix and pico de gallo.

    2. SHAKE for several seconds until well mixed. Strain into a chilled glass and add beer. Garnish with a lime wedge and one black olive.

     

    Back-Porch-Beer-Cocktail-califripeolives-230

    Something different: beer, tequila and Mexican seasonings. Photo courtesy CalOlive.com.

     
    BLACK OLIVE BLOODY MARY

    Ingredients For 1 Cocktail

  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce black olive brine
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 2 drops hot sauce
  • 1/4 ounce Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 6 ounces tomato juice
  • Garnish: 4 black olives, 4 spicy green beans, 3 pickled carrots*
  •  
    *You can buy pickled vegetables make your own with this pickled vegetable recipe.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all of the ingredients except for the garnishes in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for several seconds to mix well.

    2. STRAIN into a new glass with or without ice. Garnish and serve.

    Here’s a photo of the cocktail.

    Find more olive recipes at CalOlive.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Deconstructed Enchilada Salad

    Deconstructed-Enchilada-Salad_davidvenableQVC-230r

    Deconstruct enchiladas into an enchilada
    salad. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    We always enjoy a taco salad, but had never set eyes on an enchilada salad until we received this recipe from QVC’s chef, David Venable.

    Instead of wrapping enchilada fillings in a tortilla, the fillings become part of a crunchy salad, and the tortillas are toasted and cut into crispy strips.

    David sent this recipe for Cinco de Mayo, but it’s also a good choice for a light, flavorful warm weather lunch or light dinner.

    Notes David, “With all of the flavor but half of the prep of regular enchiladas, this is a great recipe to whip up for a weeknight celebration.”

    RECIPE: DECONSTRUCTED ENCHILADA SALAD

    Ingredients

    For The Dressing

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 6 scallions, trimmed and cut in thirds
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  •  

    For The Salad

  • 3 corn tortillas*
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (we used olive oil)
  • 2 romaine hearts, chopped
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen corn, defrosted)
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, bones/skin removed and shredded
  • 1/2 cup roasted peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup scallions, sliced
  •  
    *You can substitute ready-made tortilla chips. They don’t provide the same flavor and texture as frying your own, but they’re delicious in a different way.

     

    tortilla-strips-annahinmancrunchycreamysweet-230

    Homemade tortilla chips. Photo courtesy Anna Hinman | CrunchyCreamySweet.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing: Add all the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.

    2. TOAST the tortillas: Pour the oil into a 10″ skillet and set the heat to medium. Heat for 5 minutes, add one tortilla, and fry for about 30 seconds, or until crispy. Flip and fry the other side until crispy. Remove the tortilla from the oil and drain it on a paper towel. Prepare the remaining tortillas as directed and when cool, roughly chop into strips.

    3. ASSEMBLE the salad: Place half of the romaine lettuce in a clear glass salad bowl and layer the ingredients in this order: tomatoes, red onion, the remaining romaine, corn, olives, chicken, red peppers, chopped tortillas, queso fresco, and scallions. Serve with the dressing.

     
    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

      

    Comments

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