THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

Archive for Gourmet News

RECIPE: Valentine Brownies

Want to bring something fun to work or school for Valentine’s Day?

These strawberry brownies from Kevin Lynch of Closet Cooking can be made for any occasion.

But we especially like the heart-shaped effect of halved strawberries for “love” occasions: Mother’s, Father’s, Valentine’s, anniversaries, etc.

You can adapt the idea to your favorite brownie, or use his. Wwe tweaked his a bit, using 2/3 cup sugar instead of 3/4 cup, since the chocolate topping is so rich; and used white chocolate for the top for color and flavor variation.

For a step-by-step photos and substitutions for gluten-free, vegan, etc., see the original article.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRY HEART BROWNIES

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Cool Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour Servings: 9
Chocolate covered strawberry topped fudge-y brownies!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound strawberries, sliced (look for smaller strawberries to maximize the heart effect)
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (substitute white chocolate if you prefer)
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Chocolate-Strawberry Brownies

    Fresh Strawberries

    [1] The strawberry “hearts” make these brownies easy to love (photo courtesy Closet Cooking). [2] Use smaller strawberries for more of a heart shape (photo courtesy Quinciple).

     
    1. GREASE an 8-inch-square baking pan. Optionally, line it with foil or parchment, overhanging to make lift-up and clean-up easier. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    2. COMBINE the chocolate and butter in a sauce pan over medium heat; melt, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool.

    3. MIX the sugar into the eggs. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Blend the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture.

    4. POUR the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake about 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven.

    5. SPRINKLE the strawberries on top of the brownies. Melt the chocolate over medium-low heat on the stove or in a microwave. Pour it over the strawberries and let cool until the chocolate is set, 30-60 minutes.
     
    MORE VALENTINE DESSERT RECIPES

  • Chocolate Pudding With Strawberry Rose
  • Coeur À La Crème
  • Easy Chocolate Pudding Pie
  • Frozen Raspberry Soufflés
  • Red Velvet Raspberry Truffles
  • Strawberry-Brownie-Marshmallow Skewers
  • Valentine Cheese Plate
  • Valentine Jell-O Shots
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cubes For Valentine’s Day…And More Uses For The Ice Cube Tray

    Valentine Ice Cubes

    Valentine Ice Cubes

    Heart Ice Cubes

    Flower Ice Cubes

    Pesto Ice Cubes

    Frozen Lemon Juice

    [1] and [2] Red and pink layered ice cubes (photo courtesy Ocean Spray). [3] Add some pomegranate ice cubes (here’s how from Kelly Elko).[4] Flower ice cubes: small flowers make a big impression (here’s how from Martha Stewart). [5] More ways to use an ice cube tray: save pesto (photo courtesy P&G Every Day) or [6] lemon juice (photo courtesy Food Network).

     

    These days, many people enjoy refrigerator-freezers with built-in ice makers.

    But here’s a reason to hold on to those old-fashioned ice cube trays. In addition to party ice cubes, you can also use them to make granita—and much more, as you’ll see on the list below.

    Because we’re days away from Valentine celebrations, how about some special ice? You can’t get these from a mechanical ice-cube maker!

    RECIPE: LAYERED VALENTINE ICE CUBES

    Ingredients Per Ice Cube Tray

  • 1 ice cube tray
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed (substitute frozen blueberries)
  • 1/3 cup Ocean Spray Blueberry Juice Cocktail
  • 1/2 cup Ocean Spray White Cranberry Juice Drink
  • 1/2 cup Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 4 blueberries in each of 16 ice cube cups. Add about 1 teaspoon blueberry flavored juice. Freeze at least 1 hour or until solid.

    2. ADD 1/2 tablespoon white cranberry drink to each cup, atop the frozen blueberry layer. Freeze 1 hour of until solid.

    3. TOP with 1/2 tablespoon cranberry beverage. Freeze at least 1 hour or until solid.
     
    OTHER VALENTINE ICE CUBES

    Don’t have time or desire to layer ice cubes? These are much easier:

  • Aril ice cubes (photo #3): just water, pomegranate arils and a heart-shaped ice cube tray.
  • Berry ice cubes (photo #4): make them with water or pomegranate juice, in regular or heart-shaped trays.
  • Flower ice cubes (photo #5): Add small flowers to water. If you’re using them in drinks, be sure the flowers are organic (otherwise they have pesticides).
  • Plain red or pink hearts: Add red fruit juice or pink lemonade to heart or conventional ice cube trays.
  •  
    MORE USES FOR ICE CUBE TRAYS

    Certain foods are easier to pop out if you have silicone ice cube trays; others work better with a lever pull in an old-fashioned metal tray.

    Once whatever you’re making is frozen, you can transfer the cubes to a freezer bag for storage. Here are some ideas to try.

    Drinks

  • Chill beverages without diluting them. Make ice cubes with leftover coffee, tea, coconut milk, juice, etc. (freeze tomato juice for Bloody Mary’s).
  • Similarly, smoothies! Freeze fruits and vegetables to pop into the blender.
  • Make pretty ice cubes. Add berries, fruits, citrus peel, etc.
  • Deconstruct cocktails. For example, for a Piña Colada, try adding frozen pineapple juice and coconut cream cubes to a glass of rum.
  • Jell-O shots!
  •  
    Desserts & Snacks

  • Make dessert bites. An ice cube tray is great for making miniature desserts, from fancy (chocolate-covered cherries) to casual (mini Rice Krispies Treats).
  • On-a-stick. From frozen cheesecake to juice pops and yogurt pops, you can make something different on a stick every week.
  • Make your own Chunkys & PB cups: Melt your chocolate of choice, blend in nuts, seeds, raisins or other dried fruits; and set in the fridge. For peanut butter cups, layer melted chocolate and peanut butter and refrigerate until set.
  • Make chocolate squares. Fill the compartments partially, so you end up with bite-size chocolate tiles. Add whatever you like to flavor: spices, coconut, etc.
  •  
    Cooking

    For the first two: Once your cubes are frozen, pop them from the tray into a resealable freezer bag. For precise measures, determine in advance what the tray compartments hold.

  • Freeze extras and leftovers: From lemon juice and stock/broth to wine and bacon fat, you’ll have the perfect size to pop [frozen] into soups, stews and sauces.
  • Freeze herbs. Hard herbs like oregano, sage, thyme and rosemary defrost better than soft herbs like dill and basil. Pack the ice cube trays with 3/4 herbs and 1/4 olive oil. Toss a cube directly into the pan to season eggs, sauces, etc.
  • Freeze garlic and ginger. First, purée them before adding them to the compartments. This also works with pesto (as is—no additional work required).
  • Freeze buttermilk. Buttermilk is pricey, and a recipe often requires just a quarter or half a cup. Freeze the leftover buttermilk; you’ll need it again soon.
  • Make sushi. It’s hard for amateurs to hand-form nigiri rice beds. Fill the compartments with seasoned rice, pop them out and lay the fish or other toppings onto them.
  •  
    More Uses

    There are household uses, from homemade detergent cubes to starting seedlings. Just look online!

     

    HISTORY OF THE ICE CUBE TRAY

    Before the advent of the ice cube tray, ice for drinks and similar purposes was chipped from large blocks with an ice pick.

    An American physician, John Gorrie, built a refrigerator in 1844 to make ice to cool the air for his yellow fever patients. The refrigerator produced ice, which he hung from the ceiling in basins to cool the hot air.

    Some historians believed that Dr. Gorrie also invented the first ice cube tray in its current form. He is known to have given his patients iced drinks to cool them down.

  • The Domestic Electric Refrigerator, produced in 1914 by Fred Wolf, contained a simple ice cube tray.
  • By the 1920s and 1930s ice cube trays were commonplace in refrigerators.
  • The first flexible ice tray was launched in 1933, invented by Guy Tinkham. Silicone was still decades ahead; Tinkham’s tray stainless steel, with points that would eject the ice cubes.
  • The first rubber ice cube tray was launched by Lloyd Groff Copeman, also in 1933. Five years earlier, he had noticed that slush and ice flaked off his rubber boots, and set about designing different types of rubber trays.
  •  
    Ice Cube Trivia

    You may have noted that commercially-made ice cubes are completely clear, while homemade cubes from the fridge are cloudy in the center.

     

    Metal Ice Cube Tray

    Popping Out Ice Cubes

    [6] The old-fashioned metal ice cube tray with a removable divider (photo courtesy West Elm). [7] Silicone trays make it easy to pop out the cubes.

     
    Cloudy ice cubes result when the water is high in dissolved solids. Commercial ice-makers use purified water, with cooling elements on the bottom. The cooling process allows any bubbles to be washed away from the top as the cubes grow larger.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry Rose Mojito

    Strawberry Rose Mojito Recipe

    Fresh Mint

    [1] This Mojito is enhanced with strawberry-rose syrup for a special occasion (photo courtesy Nielsen Massey). [2] Every Mojito requires lots of fresh mint (photo courtesy Indian Home Cooking).

     

    Mojito fans: Nielsen-Massey has tailored the classic recipe for Valentine’s Day, using their vanilla extract and rose water.

    If your Valentine plans are already set, put this on the calendar for Mother’s Day.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY-ROSE MOJITO

    Ingredients
     
    For The Strawberry-Rose Syrup (Yield: 1 Cup)

    Not all flavored cocktail syrups are simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). Here’s a syrup made This recipe from Nielsen-Massey makes enough syrup for four Strawberry-Rose Mojitos.

  • 8-9 large strawberries, stemmed, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract*
  • 1/8 teaspoon rose water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  •  
    For The Mojito (Per Drink)

  • 15-20 fresh mint leaves
  • 2-1/2 ounces Strawberry-Rose Syrup
  • 2-1/2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • Club soda
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Garnish: whole strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup. Add the ingredients to a small food processor and pulse until smooth; set aside.

    2. MUDDLE the mint leaves in a tall glass. Add the syrup, rum, lime juice and lots of ice.

    3. TOP with club soda and a freshly squeezed lime wedge; stir.

    4. NOTCH the strawberry, place it on the rim of the glass and serve.

     
    FOR A PITCHER (4 DRINKS)

    Ingredients

  • Same syrup recipe as above
  • 40-45 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 liter club soda
  • Ice
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Garnish: 4 whole strawberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the syrup, lime juice and mint leaves to a pitcher and muddle together. Add the rum, club soda and ice; stir to combine.
     
    MOJITO HISTORY

    The mojito (mo-HEE-toe) is a quintessential Cuban cocktail. The name derives from the African voodoo term mojo, to cast a small spell.

    According to Bacardi Rum, the drink can be traced to 1586, when Sir Francis Drake and his pirates unsuccessfully attempted to sack Havana for its gold. His associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a Mojito-like cocktail known as El Draque that was made with aguardiente, a crude forerunner of rum, sugar, lime and mint.

    Around the mid-1800s, when the Bacardi Company was established, rum was substituted and the cocktail became known as a Mojito. Here’s the original Mojito recipe.
    ________________

    *Nielsen Massey uses its Tahitian vanilla extra. Here are the different types of vanilla.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Practice Your Frosting Roses (& Maybe A Party?)

    Since childhood, our favorite part of a birthday cake has been the buttercream roses.

    No matter whose cake it was, we had to have a slice with a rose.

    You too?

    Then Valentine’s Day is your opportunity to practice piping frosting roses.

    Do we have to mention, you get to eat all the “learning mistakes?”

    (We don’t want to demotivate you, but tutorials often recommend that beginners work with Crisco until ready to take on frosting. Rationale: You can put the Crisco flowers back into the can and re-use it. Bah!)

    There are numerous tutorials on YouTube. We’ve included two below:

  • One for roses to put on a cake.
  • One for cupcake roses: The basic one in the second tutorial is pretty easy.
  •  
    If you don’t have a piping set and don’t want to buy one until you’re sure you want to pursue the craft, see if you can borrow one.

    People often have a set they rarely use (we have two sets!).
     

    HAVE A PIPING PARTY

    You can turn piping flowers into a friends-and-family event.

  • You can make it BYO piping bags, tips and, for cake flowers, a #7 flower nail).
  • Or, to make a real party out of it, you can provide these relatively inexpensive items as party favors.
  • Consider hiring a professional—a specialty cake baker or the decorator from your local bakery to guide the group.
  • You can tell guests to bring what they want to decorate (un-iced cupcakes, cakes), or provide them.
  •  
    If you’d like to make the chocolate cupcakes with pink roses (top photo), here’s the recipe.

    There’s chardonnay in the frosting!
     
    WHAT NEXT?

    If you really get into it, pick up a copy of The Contemporary Buttercream Bible.

    After you master roses, there’s an entire garden of frosting flowers to pursue—from anemones, sweet peas and ranunculus to billy balls (like pom moms), succulents and sunflowers.

    We found the chart below on Pinterest, attributed to the Instagram account of My Sister Bakes.

    (Attention social media gods: We need a reliable system for attribution so the originators can get credited.)
     
    NEED INSPIRATION?

    Here it is: Envision a cupcake party you created, with these different buttercream flowers.

    Buttercream Flowers

     

    Rose Cupcakes

    Cupcake Rose

    Buttercream Gardenia Cupcake

    Chrysanthemum Cupcakes

    The Contemporary Buttercream Bible

    Yes you can! Start practicing, and if you need an incentive, have a cupcake piping party.[1] Photo courtesy Kendall-Jackson. [2] Photo courtesy My Cake School. [3] Photo courtesy The Sugar Fairy | Pinterest. [4] Photo courtesy Taste Made. [5] Get serious with a copy of The Contemporary Buttercream Bible (photo courtesy David & Charles).

     

    It’s even easier to frost a cupcake:

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: New Earl Grey Teas From Twinings

    Lavender Tea

    Jasmine Tea

    Twinings Earl Grey Extra Bold

    Bergamot Orange

    [1] Lavender-scented tea (photo courtesy Doctors Health Press). [2] Jasmine-scented tea (photo courtesy Par Avion). [3] Earl Grey Extra Bold has more bergamot flavor (photo courtesy Twinings). [4] A bergamot orange: a sour orange popular for marmalade and flavoring (photo courtesy Clove Garden).

     

    Earl Grey is one of America’s most popular flavored teas, a Keemun base flavored with a splash of bergamot oil, the latter pressed from the peel of the bergamot sour orange from southern Italy.

    The tea is named for Charles Grey (1764-1845), the second Earl Grey. A distinguished aristocrat, he served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1830 to 1834.

    WHO INVENTED EARL GREY TEA?

    There are different legends to explain how the tea recipe came to bear the Earl’s name.

    According to the one told by the Grey family, the tea was specially blended for Lord Grey by a Chinese mandarin*, at Howick Hall, the family seat in Northumberland, England. The Earl never visited China.

    The mandarin particularly chose bergamot to offset the preponderance of lime in the estate’s well water.

    Lady Grey, a political hostess, used it to entertain in London. She had her tea blended at Twinings, beginning in 1931.

    The blend proved so popular that Lady Grey was asked if it could be purchased by others. This is how Twinings came to market “Earl Grey” as a type of flavored tea.

    The Greys (ostensibly lacking good business advice) did not to register the trademark. As a result, they have never received a penny from the worldwide sales.

    However, they are sporting about it: Today’s boxes are signed by the current Earl Grey.

    Traditionally, “Earl Grey” was made from black teas, but tea companies have since begun to offer Earl Grey in other varieties as well, such as green and oolong, along with dual-note flavors, such as the new varieties from Twinings.

    TWININGS NEW EARL GREY BLENDS

    Twinings North America has added to its line of Earl Grey black teas with the introduction of three new blends:

  • Earl Grey Extra Bold, with a more robust bergamot flavor.
  • Earl Grey Lavender, with the scent and flavor of lavender flowers.
  • Earl Grey Jasmine, with the scent and flavor of jasmine blossoms.
  •  
    Stephen Twining, the tenth-generation manager of Twinings, commented:

    “Lavender and jasmine compliment the bold flavor of bergamot. Extra Bold is perfect for Earl Grey lovers who crave an intensified, more vibrant taste. We know these new blends will resonate with a new generation of tea drinkers.”

    In addition to enjoying the teas at home, you can visit the gardens at Howick Hall, the home of Earl Grey, and have tea in the Easrl Grey Tea House.

    Here’s more information.

    DO YOU KNOW YOUR TEA TERMS?

    Take a look at our fully illustrated Tea Glossary, one of the most popular of our 100 food glossaries.

     
    ________________

    *In imperial China, a mandarin was bureaucrat scholar in service of the government.

     
      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.