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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

RECIPE: Baked Potato Nachos

Today is National Nachos Day. Here’s a twist on nachos from the United States Potato Board, which uses potatoes instead of tortilla chips.

Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes.

RECIPE: BAKED POTATO NACHOS

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican seasoning blend (recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Toppings

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, Mexican-flavored cheese (jalapeño, habanero) or pepper jack
  • 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons canned diced green chiles
  •  

    SHORTEN-01

    Nachos with a twist: baked potatoes replace tortilla chips. Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

     
    Garnishes

  • Chopped avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Guacamole
  • Enchilada sauce for drizzling
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 425°F.

    2. WASH the potatoes, peel and slice into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Toss and coat with olive oil, garlic salt and Mexican seasoning.

    3. PLACE potato wedges in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stirring several times, until crisp and golden brown.

    4. REMOVE sheet from oven. Top potatoes with cheese, beans, tomatoes, olives, onions and chiles. Bake for 5 minutes more, until the cheese melts.

    5. SERVE with optional guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc.
     
    MEXICAN SEASONING BLEND

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND all of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY #2: Message Bread

    People get the government they deserve, said Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821), a French count, lawyer, diplomat, writer and philosopher. (The quote is often misattributed to better-known commentators such as Abraham Lincoln and Alexis de Tocqueville.)

    De Maistre’s actual statement was “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite”—every nation gets [has] the government it deserves.” It was published in 1811 in a book of his letters. The statement is variously translated as “Every country has the government it deserves” and “In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve.”

    It’s Election Day. Exercise your right to vote. Even when the choices don’t appeal to you, one candidate has got to be more appealing than another. Leave the choice to others, and you get the government you deserve, if not necessarily the one you want.

    Even if you’re ambivalent about the candidates, there may be issues that will affect you for a long time. So do a bit of reading up and head to the polls.

     

    vote-bread-artisanbreadinfive-230sq

    Deliver your message in homemade bread. Photo courtesy ArtisanBreadInFive.com.

     

    Then, you deserve a treat. Is there anything better than fresh-baked bread?

    You can bake bread with a message, and use it as a signature dish for any special occasion: BOO for Halloween, FEAST for Thanksgiving, NOEL for Christmas, LOVE for anniversaries and Valentine’s Day, CONGRATS for promotions or great report cards, and so forth.

    Present the bread on a platter with a side of sweet and/or savory spreads, cheeses, pâté, other favorites, or simply butter and jam.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Peanut Butter Banana Dessert Cocktail

    peanut-butter-banana-bluechairbayrum-230

    Peanut butter and banana dessert cocktail. Photo courtesy Blue Chair Bay Rum.

     

    Elvis Presley’s favorite food was a pan-fried sandwich of peanut butter and sliced banana (recipe). To be seriously indulgent, he might have enjoyed washing them down with this peanut butter and banana cocktail, a kind of adult milkshake.

    We hadn’t seen a peanut butter cocktail of any type until the folks at Blue Chair Bay Rum sent us this delicious dessert cocktail recipe, for National Peanut Month (November). It’s made with their made with their banana rum and coconut rum.

    If you can find peanut butter ice cream, feel free to use it instead of the vanilla ice cream for a peanuttier drink.

    RECIPE: PEANUT BUTTER & BANANA COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1-1/2 oz. Blue Chair Bay Banana Rum
  • 1 ounce Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • Garnishes: whipped cream and cherry or chopped honey roasted peanuts
  • Optional: peanut butter cookies
  •  

    Preparation

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

    2. GARNISH and serve—perhaps with a side of peanut butter cookies.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pudding Toppers, Pudding Party

    creme-caramel-brittle-kaminsky-230

    Butterscotch pudding with brittle. Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Here’s a fun dessert idea, whether for a weekday family dinner or a pudding bar at your next party.

    You can make pudding or buy it. Making it is better and lots more fun. We’ve been spending more and more time with Puddin’: Luscious and Unforgettable Puddings, Parfaits, Pudding Cakes, Pies, and Pops.

    The book, by the owner of a pudding store in New York City, has foolproof pudding recipes, from standards to modern twists. Get your copy here.

    PICK A PUDDING

    • Banana pudding
    • Butterscotch pudding
    • Chocolate pudding
    • Coffee pudding
    • Lemon pudding
    • Pistachio pudding
    • Tapioca pudding
    • Rice pudding
    • Vanilla pudding
    • Modern puddings: Dulce de Leche, Key Lime, Malted Milk, Nutella, Peanut Butter and many others
    • Seasonal favorites like Eggnog, Maple and Pumpkin Pie puddings
    PICK A TOPPING

    Cookie & Cake Toppings

    • Brownie crumbs
    • Cake cubes (from any type of cake)
    • Graham cracker crumbs
    • Vanilla wafer crumbs
    • Other cookie crumbs

     
    Sauce Toppings

    • Caramel sauce
    • Dulce de leche
    • Fudge sauce
    • Fruit sauce: berry, cherry, peach melba
    • Marshmallow creme
    • Whipped cream

     

    Candies & Nuts

    • Baking chips: chocolate, butterscotch, mint, peanut butter, vanilla
    • Candied nuts (any type, including honey roasted nuts)
    • Candied orange peel
    • Chopped brittle or toffee
    • Gummies
    • Mini candies (malt balls, M&Ms, marshmallows)
    • Mini pretzels, chopped chocolate covered pretzels
    • Reese’s Pieces
    • Sprinkles

     
    Wild Card

    • Candied bacon
    • Coconut
    • Dried berries: cherries, cranberries
     

    puddin-230

    Puddin-licious: an entire book of pudding recipes. Photo courtesy Spiegel & Grau.

     

    FOR A PARTY PUDDING BAR

    1. MAKE the pudding in large bowls. Consider adding dairy free (vegan) and sugar free options.

    2. KEEP each bowl on a bed of crushed ice.

    3. PLACE the toppings in smaller bowls, each with its own serving spoon. Refilling topping bowls as needed.

      

    Comments

    HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Day

    harvest-truffles-2014-230sq

    Harvest Truffles. Photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections.

     

    It’s National Chocolate Day, an excuse for anyone to run to the newsstand to pick up a Hershey Bar or some M&Ms.

    But the chocolate connoisseur deserves something better, and we’ve found it in these delicious Harvest Truffles from Recchiuti Confections of San Francisco, which we received as a gift.

    Each bite of these beautifully flavored bonbons is a bite of heaven. The medley of three new flavors inspired by autumn includes:

    • Cinnamon Malt Truffle, made with cassia cinnamon and barley malt
    • Mandarin Truffle, infused with mandarin orange oil
    • Cranberry Pomegranate Strata, with layered pomegranate and cranberry gelée atop chocolate ganache (strata means layer)

    A nine-piece gift box, three of each flavor, is $26.00. It was all we could do to save some pieces for Day 2.

    Get yours at Recchiuti.com. They are a lovely gift for any lover of fine chocolate.

     

    BONBONS VS. TRUFFLES: THE DIFFERENCE

    It’s easy to get confused when terms like bonbon, praline and truffle are used interchangeably to describe filled chocolates—and all three terms have alternative meanings as well.

    The differences, describing filled or enrobed individual chocolate pieces, are country-based:

    • Assorted Filled Chocolates, the English term.
    • Bonbons, a French word describing a variety of confections including hard candy, chocolates, chocolate-covered confections, taffy and more.
    • Pralines, a word that was originated in Belgium by Jean Neuhaus to describe his molded filled chocolates (but also refers to caramelized nuts in France).
    • Truffle, a word that originated in France to describe balls of chocolate ganache, because they resembled the mushroom cousin, truffles.

    Thus, when chocolatiers immigrated to the U.S., they might be selling pralines, truffles, bonbons or assorted chocolates, depending on their nationality. And, although the name of what they sold differed, the product might be the same.

    In the interest of clarity, it would be ideal to stick with “bonbons” or “filled chocolates” for the filled chocolates, use “pralines” for caramelized nuts and nut patties, and reserve the term “truffles” for the balls of ganache.

    But given all the imported candy, we can’t escape our chocolate Tower of Babel. If you receive a box of candy from Germany or Switzerland labeled “pralines,” for example, will it be filled chocolates or caramelized nuts? You may be surprised!

    Here’s a detailed explanation.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Halloween Popcorn Balls

    They’re sweet, they’re fun and they’re whole grain! And there’s a bonus: You make them in the microwave!

    You’ve got time to whip up these Halloween popcorn balls, thanks to busy mother of three Ashleigh, of the blog Bee in Our Bonnet. Ashleigh contributed this recipe to SomewhatSimple.com.

    While the popcorn balls are shaped like pumpkins, the flavor is orange—from orange Jell-O! Jell-O flavored popcorn is a favorite treat at Ashleigh’s home.

    RECIPE: HALLOWEEN POPCORN BALLS

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 box (3 ounces) orange-flavored Jell-O
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 cups popped popcorn (approximate)
  • Tootsie Roll mini candies
  •  

    pumpkin-popcorn-balls-somewhatsimple-230sq

    Popcorn balls for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy SomewhatSimple.com.

  • Green candies: choice of Starbursts, green apple Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffys or anything that can be shaped into leaves (green Air Heads were used in the photo)
     
    Preparation

    1. MELT butter in a large microwavable bowl. Stir in Jell-O and corn syrup.

    2. MICROWAVE again until the mixture reaches a full boil (try 1 minute, then more if needed). Stir. Mix in baking soda. Stir for 2-3 minutes.

    3. MIX in popcorn. The popcorn should be covered evenly with the flavoring.

    4. MICROWAVE for 30 seconds more. You can microwave for longer if you prefer your popcorn balls crispy instead of gooey.

    5. FORM into balls. Kids can help, using plastic bags with a little non-stick spray on them as gloves.

    6. ADD Tootsie Roll minis for the stems and shape the green candy into leaves. Be sure to press the stem and leaves in while the popcorn ball is still warm and pliable.

      

  • Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Cheese & Pretzel Broomsticks

    Who needs candy when there’s a clever Halloween snack like this? It was created by Angie Ramirez of LittleInspiration.com, who shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood and everything in between on her blog.

    This healthy Halloween snacks works for kids as well as for adults, with cocktails. The witch’s broomsticks are easy to make and look great on a party platter.

    RECIPE: CHEESE & PRETZEL BROOMSTICKS

    Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks (ideally whole grain)
  • Block of hard cheese to shred
  • Baker’s twine or strips of dry corn husks
  •  

    cheese-broomsticks-naturebox-230

    Halloween fun, no sugar needed! Photo courtesy Little Inspiration | NatureBox.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SHRED cheese the length of the block. (Pre-shredded cheeses are too short to make the broomsticks.)

    2. LAY down a piece of baker’s twine. Add a few shredded cheese pieces and a pretzel stick (see how it’s done here). Add a few more shredded cheese strips to cover the pretzel stick.

    3. KNOT the two ends of the twine.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Skeleton Gingerbread Cookies

    skeleton-gingerbreadmen-grandmasmolassesFB-230

    Try your hand at making skeletons from royal
    icing. Photo courtesy Grandma’s Molasses |
    Facebook.

     

    If you only use your gingerbread people cookie cutters for Christmas, you’re missing out on another holiday application: gingerbread skeletons for Halloween, the skeletons piped on with royal icing.

    We don’t have the skill that of the professional who created these nifty skeleton designs, but we used the opportunity to practice, practice, practice (and although we still need a lot of practice, the cookies taste great). You can also try a paint brush instead of piping.

    RECIPE: HALLOWEEN SKELETON GINGERBREAD COOKIES

    Ingredients

    For The Gingerbread

    • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
    • 1/4 cup molasses
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 3 cups unbleached flour
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
     
    For The Royal Icing

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREAM the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the molasses and beat well. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again to thoroughly combine.

    2. SIFT the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add to creamed mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

    3. DIVIDE the dough into three balls and flatten slightly. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly: at least an hour (or you can do this part a day in advance).

    4. ROLL out the dough and use your cookie cutter to create the forms. Bake at 350°F for 9 minutes. Cool and ice.

    5. MAKE the icing: Sift the powdered sugar and cream of tartar in a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat in the beaten egg whites, for about 5 minutes or until the icing is thick enough to hold its shape. Use immediately.

     
      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: barkTHINS Chocolate Bark

    bark-thins-stacked-230

    barkTHINS: thin and rich. Photo courtesy
    Ripple Brands.

     

    There are several reasons to love barkTHINS:

  • The delicious varieties, crammed with inclusions* (see the list below).
  • The thin pieces that, unlike conventional bark, let you have half as much.
  • The Fair Trade certification (FairTradeUSA.org) that helps poor farmers.
  • The everyday affordability (yet it’s great for party favors and stocking stuffers.
  •  
    October is National Fair Trade Month, the perfect time to feature barkTHINS as a Top Pick Of The Week (here’s more about Fair Trade certification).

    The line debuted in 2012. Unlike traditional chocolate bark that is thick and hard to break, barkTHINS are thin slivers of chocolate that are easily snap-able—easier to eat, fewer calories in your chocolate fix, more flexibility as a dessert garnish (well, that probably wasn’t their intent but it’s a use we employ regularly, by crowning a scoop of ice cream or breaking into pieces for mix-ins).

     

    *The industry term for what many people call “mix-ins.”

     

    barkTHINS FLAVORS

    Each variety is as delicious as the next, depending on your flavor preferences. We were personally thrilled with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel, a limited edition for holiday season. The packages have a shelf life of 12 months, so if you can’t live without it, you can stock up until the new batches arrive for the next holiday season).

    Feast upon:

    • Dark Chocolate Almond With Sea Salt
    • Dark Chocolate Blueberry & Quinoa (sweetened with agave)
    • Dark Chocolate Mint
    • Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel (Limited Edition)
    • Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed
    • Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut With Almonds
    • Milk Chocolate Peanut
     

    bark-thins-pkgs-230

    A great party favor, stocking stuffer, teacher gift, etc. Photo courtesy Ripple Foods.

     
    The bags stand upright for presentation as party favors. You can stick a place card on the front; you can tie a ribbon through the shelf-hanger opening at the top for added festiveness or to hang on the tree.
     
    Check the store locator for a retailer near you (including Costco, H-E-B, King’s, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Whole Foods Market and numerous others), or head to Amazon.com.
     
    WHAT IS FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE?

    A Fair Trade certification guarantees consumers that the farmers who grow the product are getting paid a fair price. In many areas of the world, middlemen buy up crops at a price that often is the same or less than what it cost the farmer to grow it, resulting in a cycle of poverty. Under Fair trade, farmers can increase their incomes and gain afford education and healthcare for their families.

    When you make a conscious decision to seek out Fair Trade products, you are helping hard-working people raise their standard of living. You can feel good about every bite and every sip (look for Fair Trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate, too).

    Fair Trade certification also means that the farmers are following good agricultural practices and are investing in their farms and communities. To learn more, visit FairTradeUSA.org.

      

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Spooky Pasta Recipes

    Add some food fun to your Halloween with these two pasta recipes from Certified Angus Beef.

    RECIPE: SPOOKETTI & MEATBALLS

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar pimento-stuffed olives
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 6 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
  •  

    ghoulish-pasta-certifiedangusbeef-230

    Spooketti and meatballs. Photo courtesy Certified Angus Beef.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. COMBINE the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, ketchup, herbs and spices; shape into 1-1/2-inch balls, making 12 total. Insert 1 olive into each meatball to look like an eye.

    3. PLACE the meatballs in a pan and roast approximately 25 minutes until thoroughly cooked and no pink remains (160°F internal temperature).

    4. HEAT the sauce and ladle over pasta. Serve 2 meatballs per plate.

     

    graveyard-bake-certifiedangusbeef-230

    Eat the graveyard! Photo courtesy Certified
    Angus Beef.

     

    Graveyard Bake

  • 1 pound round chuck
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 pound fusilli pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 6 oval crackers (like Keebler Town House), optional
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BROWN ground chuck in large fry pan. Drain liquid from beef.

    2. ADD tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic salt and cayenne pepper; simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in the cooked pasta.

    3. POUR into a 9 x 9 baking dish. Top with potato chips and cheese and broil for 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and chips are golden brown.

    4. GARNISH with green onions and crackers (the tombstones).

      

    Comments

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