THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Archive for International Foods

PRODUCT: Bake Flatbread At Home

We eat lots of Mediterranean foods, often with pita bread from the supermarket that isn’t as flavorful as we’d like it to be. So when we spotted Canterbury Naturals flatbread mix, “just add oil and water,” we eagerly set out to bake our own flatbread (not with pockets like pita, but hopefully more exciting).

We were not disappointed! Warm from the oven, we proudly served our eight handmade, individual-size flatbreads, highly seasoned with a “Mediterannean” herb mix of basil, bell pepper, chile, fennel, garlic, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley and thyme. Once they cool down they get a bit dry (like pita), but can easily be warmed in the microwave. After two days of storage in our Fresh Vac food storage containers, they still warmed up nicely.

While there are recipes aplenty to make flatbread from scratch, don’t underestimate the convenience of a packaged mix. It was easy, delicious and impressive! We mixed the package ingredients into a dough with some olive oil and water, kneaded it briefly, let it rise for 30 minutes, divided and rolled the dough into eight flat pieces, brushed the tops with olive oil and sprinkled them with the seasoning blend. The flatbreads baked for six minutes and cooled for a few minutes. Aside from the rising and cooking time, prep was no more than 10 minutes, using one bowl and one cookie sheet.

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Impress your friends and family with home-baked flatbread. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

In addition to Mediterranean Savory Herb, the mix is available in Parmesan and Sundried Tomato. The attractive boxes make a nice house gift or stocking stuffer for your favorite cook. The product is certified kosher by KOF-K.

 

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PRODUCT: Annie Chun’s Noodle Bowls & Soup Bowls

Annie Chun’s has introduced new flavors in its Noodle Bowl and Soup Bowl lines. Both products can offer a good fast food fix when we’re hankering for something Chinese right away and don’t want to order from our nearby Chinese restaurant—we end up over-ordering and paying four or five times the price of a bowl of Annie Chun’s along with lots of non-biodegradable take-out packaging. Annie Chun is green: The bowls are made of biodegradable cornstarch and the cardboard sleeve is made from recycled paperboard. They mini-meals are 100% natural and no preservatives, no MSG (but a reasonable amount of sodium).

The bowls products use Hokkien noodles, round egg noodles of medium thickness—think fat spaghetti. (Hokkien is a Chinese dialect spoken in southern Fujian, Taiwan, and throughout Southeast Asia.) In less than two minutes, you can microwave:

  • Garlic Scallion Noodle Bowl. Combining two of our favorite flavors and mild, this has broad appeal. Scallion lovers can add some fresh scallion for more kick. (Vegan)
  • Korean Sweet Chili Noodle Bowl. This flavor ratchets up the heat nicely. The “sweet and spicy red chili sauce” will please many Americans who have become accustomed to lots of sugar in everything they eat. (It was pleasant, but we found ourselves looking at the package label for the sugar grams). (Vegan)
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Have microwave, will feast: Annie Chun’s
Noodle Bowls provide an almost-instant Asian
food fix at home or at work. Photo by Erika
Meller | THE NIBBLE.

  • Vietnamese Pho Soup Bowl is a tough one to write about. It’s advertised as a “complex and flavorful organic beef broth.” A real pho is a thing of beauty, piled high with stewed beef, noodles bean sprouts, onions, scallions, and a great complexity of spices: chile, cinnamon, star anise, ginger, black cardamom, coriander, fennel and clove, topped off with fresh lime squeezed at the table. Granted, this is the fast food version, largely broth and noodles, but the broth was so weak and indistinct we wouldn’t have known it was beef, and the only apparent seasoning seemed to be black pepper. We couldn’t help but long for the pho (a.k.a. stewed beef soup) at Talent Thai restaurant in New York City, which is a knockout dish that you want to have over and over again. (If you’re in town, you must have a bowl.) This variety is very light and mildly peppery; we would love a “complex and flavorful” re-do.
    Other flavors of Noodle Bowl include Kung Pao, Pad Thai, Peanut Sauce and Teriyaki. Soup Bowls include Chicken Noodle, Hot & Sour, Korean Kimchi, Miso, Thai Tom Yum and Udon. Suggested Retail Price is $3.49 for an 8.4-ounce bowl; $34 for a 12-pack at WorldPantry.com.

     

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PRODUCT: Thai Kitchen Jasmine Rice

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Beautiful, fragrant grains with an exquisite
taste, Thai Hom Mali rice is worth seeking
out. Photo by Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE.

In these fiscally cautious times, we’ve cut back on visits to our neighborhood Thai restaurant (sorry, guys—miss you!), where we easily ran up tabs of $60 for dinner for two. Instead, we’ve been cooking with Thai Kitchen’s easy-to-use products. One item in the line that has become a mainstay in our kitchen is the lovely jasmine rice, a variety known as Hom Mali.

The name Hom Mali has been trademarked for jasmine rice that is indigenous to Thailand. As with all organic products, each region gives its own special spin to the flavor based on terroir and microclimate, and rice is no different. As with other jasmine rice, Thailand’s rice crop had previously been labeled simply as jasmine rice or its synonyms: aromatic rice, scented rice or fragrant rice.

However, Thailand developed three proprietary varieties of its indigenous jasmine rice, which is grown in the lush tropical climate of northeast Thailand. In the process of producing strains that obtain higher yields with higher resistance to diseases and insect pests, Thailand has gained international recognition for its unique jasmine rice. And now you can impress the staff at Thai restaurants, by asking, “Is this Hom Mali?”

To those who think rice is bland: There are certainly bland varieties of white rice, including the ubiquitous short-grain variety served in Chinese restaurants. But try jasmine rice—and more specifically, a box of Jasmine Rice Select Harvest from Thai Kitchen (you’ll see a “Genuine Thai Hom Mali Rice” circle on the box). The pure white, long, plump grains are wonderfully fragrant (the name “jasmine” comes from the scent, which has overtones of jasmine). The rice is wonderfully soft and moist, and so delicious that we enjoy eating it plain. We cooked it on the stovetop for 30 minutes, but you can microwave it in half the time. Rice is gluten free.

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PRODUCT: Annie Chun’s Rice Express ~ Black Pearl & Multigrain Rice Bowls

We love black pearl rice, so we were happy to try Annie Chun’s new microwavable rice bowls, Black Pearl (mixed with sprouted brown rice) and Multi Grain, a mix that includes sprouted brown rice, Indian and regular millet (a grain-like seed, high in magnesium, protein and B vitamins) and the Black Pearl rice. Both products produce steamed rice in one minute—a good gluten free, whole grain snack or part of a larger meal. Steamed or sautéed veggies, tofu, poultry or seafood make quick toppers. The rice can be served in the microwavable bowl.

Both varieties are unseasoned and require some kind of salt or other seasoning to bring up the flavor.

Black pearl rice, with chocolaty notes, was once reserved solely for the emperors of ancient China—it is also known as “forbidden rice.” It’s rich in amino acids and high in vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium.

  • We added Pacific Island American Soy Sauce to the Black Pearl. Pacific Island Soy Sauce, which we discovered in our review of the best soy sauces, is a very interesting blend of soy sauce and vinegar, plus lemon, green onion and jalapeño. You get the tangy vinegar notes, as well as the soy, and it has 50% lower sodium than lite soy sauce.
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Annie Chun’s Black Pearl Rice. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

  • The second time around with the Black Pearl rice bowl, we created mock rice pudding, adding milk and artificial sweetener, then reheating for 20 seconds. (Feel free to add half and half or cream and the sweetener of your choosing—white or brown sugar, maple syrup or honey.)
  • To the Multi Grain Rice we first added a tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh-cracked pepper. We keep grated Parmesan in the freezer. The trick is to have it grated very finely at the store, not in flakes, and keep it in an airtight container. Then, whenever you need a spoonful to season anything from soup to eggs, take it from the container—it “defrosts” instantly.
  • For our second Multi Grain sampling, we seasoned the rice with a bit of the Pacific Island Soy Sauce and topped it with a poached egg and some minced fresh parsley (any herb will do). Some salt would have been fine instead of the soy sauce, but the vinegar in Pacific Island was a nice counterpoint to the poached egg.

 

A 6.3-ounce bowl is $3.19, a 12-pack is $31.08 at AnnieChun.com. The products are also available at retailers nationwide. We enjoyed all of these as snacks. With the whole grain goodness and comfort food warmth (especially during this three-week stretch of rainy days), we felt triumphant over our jones for ice cream.

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PRODUCT: Flamous Falafel Chips

Falafel lovers are in luck: We can now enjoy falafel in chip form. The new Falafel Chip line is all natural, kosher, and gluten-free; the plain chips are also available in an organic version. And yes, the chips taste just like falafel—only crunchy! They’re relatively low in sodium, too—100mg per one-ounce serving. Read the full review and snack away!

While their natural mate is hummos or baba ganoush, these chips pair perfectly with yogurt or sour cream based dips. Try them with Greek tzatziki, Indian raita or an Indian layered dip.

– See more of our favorite chips in our Snacks Section.

– Then, find some great dips to pair them with—product reviews plus recipes for everything from hummos to salsa to guacamole.

– Finally, a nice microbrew or an all-natural soft drink.

The taste of falafel, in crispy chip form.

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