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TIP OF THE DAY: Julienne Or Shave Those Veggies!

Give a new perspective to everyday foods with some creative slicing.

In these dishes, Chef Jennifer Day of Upper Story By Charlie Palmer in New York City, juliennes the vegetables and serves them either cooked, as with roasted halibut in photo #1; or raw, as with the grilled chicken salad in photo #2.

The vegetables, cut in julienne slices, are an attractive change from coins and other vegetable cuts.

Julienne slices are often called matchsticks in the U.S.; although the French word for matchstick is allumette, there is no single word translation for “julienne” (which means “to cut into thin ”).

While the classic julienne cut is 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2 inches, we actually prefer a 3- or 4-inch version. There’s no name for such a cut; we call it as a “long julienne.”

And, truth to tell, we usually cut the slices into julienne’s big brother, the batonnet, which measures approximately 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch x 2-2.5 inches. And yes, we cut a “long batonnet” ((the word means “little stick”). It’s a personal thing.

READY TO JULIENNE?

There are different options to create your vegetable slices.

1. Use A Knife

This is how chefs do it, and it’s a good opportunity to work on your knife skills. Check out the video below, an Americanized version of the French technique. Just be sure your knives are sharp (otherwise, they can slip and cut you).

2. Use A Food Mandoline

If you own one and never use it, here’s an opportunity to put it to work!

3. Use A Food Processor

The slicing disk of a food processor is designed to produce slices around a quarter-inch thick. Don’t use the shredding disk or you’ll end up with slaw!

4. Use A Vegetable Peeler

You won’t get the same cut as with the prior options, but you might like the result.

Hold one end with your non-dominant hand and peel using even, heavy pressure. Once one side is finished, rest the flat surface that remains on a cutting board. This technique works for long vegetables with thin skins.

There are also julienne peelers, with teeth (photo #5).

This one (photo #5) got rave reviews from someone we know. We tried it, but it wasn’t an instant success for us (we needed to practice, practice, practice). Here’s how to use it.

If your peeler blade is dull, you’ll most likely need to buy a new one since they can’t be sharpened.

Spend a bit more, and get a Kyocera Perfect Peeler, which has a ceramic blade that will stay incredibly sharp for 20 years or so.

5. Use A Spiralizer

The visual effect is different from a julienne, but just as tasty!
 
 
WHAT VEGETABLES CAN BE TURNED INTO MATCHSTICKS

The following are easiest to cut into short or longer matchsticks.

  • Asparagus
  • Beet
  • Bell Pepper
  • Broccoli stalk
  • Celeriac (celery root)
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Green beans, long beans, wax beans
  • Jicama
  • Kohlrabi
  • Long chile peppers (anaheim, banana, poblano)
  • Potato/sweet potato
  • Radish
  • Rutabaga
  • Salsify
  • Snow Peas
  • Summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini)
  • Winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.)
  • Turnip
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    Roast Halibut
    [1] Roast halibut on cooked (al dente), julienned carrots and green beans.

    Chicken With Julienned Vegetables
    [2] Sliced grilled chicken on a mound of salad with julienned vegetables (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Upper Story By Charlie Palmer | NYC.

    Julienned Vegetables
    [3] If you don’t like to julienne with a knife, there are two other options (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma).

    Kyocera Perfect Peeler
    [4] This Kyocera Perfect Peeler has a ceramic blade that will stay sharp for 20 years or more.

    The World's Greatest Julienne Peeler

    [5] The World’s Greatest 3-in-1 Rotational Tri-Blade Peeler, Julienne Slicer, Serrated Soft Skin Fruit Peeler and Straight Blade Vegetable Peeler—possibly the longest-named product we’ve ever seen, from Harold Import Company.

     
     

     
    Julienned Vegetables
    Video from iVillage |YouTube. Photo of julienned vegetables courtesy JuliennePeeler.info.

      

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    JULY 4TH RECIPE: Firecracker Hot Dogs

    Firecracker Hot Dogs

    July 4th Hot Dogs

    Skip the hot dog roll this year, in favor of these fun firecrackers (photos courtesy USA Pan).

     

    Why stick a hot dog in a roll?

    These Hot Dog Firecrackers are an easy recipe to serve over 4th of July weekend, fun for all age.

    You don’t need a roll to hold the ketchup or mustard. You can neatly add them to the “firecracker” via a squeeze bottle or a knife.

    This recipe came to us from USA Pan, makers of fine bakeware.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.

    You don’t need a grill: These firecrackers are baked in the oven.

    RECIPE: FIRECRACKER HOT DOGS FOR JULY 4TH

    Ingredients For 16 Hot Dogs

  • 1 refrigerated crescent dough sheet
  • 16 hot dogs
  • 16 slices thick slices of cheddar, colby or jack cheese
  • 16 wooden skewers, soaked
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Stick the skewers through the center of the hot dogs until there is an inch and a half of the skewer coming out from the top of each dog.

    2. PLACE the crescent dough on flat surface. With a knife, cut ¾ inch thick strips.

    3. WRAP each hot dog with a strip of dough, leaving a gap between each spiral. Place the hot dogs on a half sheet pan (see below), leaving a small amount of space between each hot dog. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. While the hot dogs are cooking…

    4. CUT stars from the cheese. Assemble on top of the finished hot dogs and serve.

     

    THE HISTORY OF SHEET PANS

    A sheet pan, baking tray or baking sheet is a flat, rectangular metal pan used in an oven. It is typically used for baking bread rolls, pastries and flat products such as cookies, sheet cakes, swiss rolls and pizzas.

    The most basic sheet pan is literally a sheet of metal, hence the name. If you have a cookie sheet with no continuous lip around the edges, you have a sheet pan.

    One or two edges are rolled to enable easy handling in and out of the oven. The open sides allow you to remove the warm cookies without disturbing their shape.

    Modern sheet pans used in commercial kitchens typically are made of aluminum, with a 1 inch lip around the edge.

    The Sheet Pan Evolves

    The next step in the development of the sheet pan was to include a lip on one or more edges, to prevent food from sliding off. Some pans add handles to aid in placing the pan in, and removing it from, the oven.

    A sheet pan that has a continuous lip around all four sides is also called a jelly roll pan. It can be used to make the flat cake layer used for jelly rolls and roulades with other fillings.

    Today, there are specialty sheet pans that include a layer of insulation or air (an “air bake pan”), designed to protect delicate food like macarons from burning.

    Sheet Pan Sizes

    In the U.S.:

  • A full-size sheet pan is 26 by 18 inches—too large for most home ovens.
  • A two-thirds sheet pan (also called a three quarter size sheet pan) is 21 by 15 inches.
  • A half sheet pan, which most of us use in our home ovens, is 18 by 13 inches (photo #2).
  • A jelly roll pan, typically 10½ by 15½ inches, is a smaller version of a half sheet. The proportions produces a layer of cake size that is ideal for rolling.
  • A quarter sheet pan is 9 by 13 inches, and can be used for rectangular, single-layer cakes.
  •  
    Sheet Pans Vs. Cookie Sheets

    Cookie sheets are different from baking pans. Baking pans have rolled edges, and cookie sheets do not.

    Cookie sheets offer the advantage of a large surface area with no edges to impede removing the baked cookies. But their lack of edges limits their uses:

    You can bake cookies in a baking pan, but you can’t cook a roast (or anything else that expels juice) on a cookie sheet.

    Baking pans for roasts, called roasting pans, are deeper, to accommodate the size of the roast plus the juices it emits.
     
      

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    PRODUCT: A New Manual Coffee Grinder

    Everything is cyclical, even mundane household appliances like the coffee grinder.

    In centuries past, coffee beans were ground manually. Depending on your age, your great-grandmother ground beans in a rectangular wood or metal mill (or combination)
    with a ceramic burr. The grains fell into a drawer underneath the mechanism.

    But technology marches on: first to pre-ground coffee from supermarket brands, and then, by having your beans freshly ground at the market.

    By the early 1970s, the movement to buying premium beans from different terroirs around the world had begun. Shops sprang up* that sold only beans. A cup of coffee was no longer just a cup of coffee.

    The first electric grinder was invented in 1930, but was cumbersome and shortly discontinued. In the 1950s and 1960s, a new generation of engineers took up the challenge [source]. Slowly, they made their way across Europe, and then across the pond.

    By the 1980s, most households that ground their beans at home had moved on to the new, small electric grinders that ground the beans with stainless steel blades. The result was quicker ground coffee with little or no no effort.

    But purists complained that the friction and waste heat from the motor impacted the flavor. Some of them stuck with the manual mill and ceramic burr, which has never gone out of style. And commercial use grinders use only ceramic burrs, never metal blades.

    There’s more coffee grinder history below. But since everything old is new again, we’d like to present old-school grinding technology with a new-school upgrade.

    THE NEW BIALETTI HAND-GRINDER WITH A CERAMIC BURR

    The Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder (photo #1) incorporates an easy-to-adjust ceramic burr grinder designed to utilize less effort, while creating more output (46%-165% depending on the coarseness of the grind).

    A conical ceramic burr grinder crushes whole coffee beans into the desired coarseness, achieved with an easy-to-adjust wheel.

  • There are measurement markings on the bottom chamber that indicate the amount of grounds needed for a coarse, medium, fine, and ultra-fine, and for use in a coffee press, pour over, moka pot and ibrik (Turkish brew pot).
  • The grinder also has a silicone grip for secure handling.
     
    If you’re a coffee purist—or you need to buy a gift for one—Bialetti’s Manual Coffee Grinder is available at Target stores nationwide for an MSRP of $39.99; and at Amazon for $35.57.

     
    COFFEE GRINDER HISTORY

    In Ethiopia, people have been consuming coffee since around 800 C.E. Today, almost half of Ethiopians the people work in the trade; most coffee grown by small farmers.

    The legend has that around 800 C.E., an Ethiopian goatherd, Kaldi, noticed his goats dancing with energy after nibbling the red fruit from plants they found on the slopes where he took them to graze.

  •  

    Bialetti Manual Coffee Grinder
    [1] The new manual Bialetti coffee grinder (photo Bialetti).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [2] A Turkish coffee grinder (photo Turkish Coffee World).

    Old Coffee Grinder

    [3] An old wood and brass grinder (photo © Kean Eng Chan | Flickr).

     
    We don’t know if there was a Kaldi; but someone first gathered the beans and brought them back to his village, where the people were equally enthusiastic. A trade in coffee beans began and spread throughout Ethiopia.

    Eating The Coffee Beans

    The beans—actually they’re cherries with the beans inside—were first chewed for energy.

    Some time later, when monks got hold of beans, they began experimenting with them, first creating a coffee-derived wine.

    In fact, the word coffee derives from the Arabic qahwah, a type of wine, which became kahve in Turkish, then koffie in Dutch. “Coffee” entered the English language in 1582, via Dutch.

    Long before there was anything we’d recognize as a cup of hot coffee, Ethiopians would crush up the fresh berries and wrap them with fat, possibly as an energy food.

    The cherry fruit was eaten fresh or dried; but while looking for other uses, the seeds (what we know as the coffee beans) were pulverized in a mortar and pestle of stone or wood, then cooked or roasted.

    By the 14th century, coffee beans reached the city of Harrar, the center of trade for Ethiopia. From there it traveled to Mocca, the trading port of Yemen in the 14th century, then up through the Ottoman Empire and on to Europe.

    In the 17th an 18th centuries, Dutch, French and British traders introduced coffee throughout the world.

    The First Coffee Grinders

    The first grinding technique for coffee comprised pulverizing the beans with a mortar and pestle made of stone or wood.

    The mill itself is much older than the coffee trade. It was developed by the Greeks around 1350 B.C.E., to crush a substance (grains, e.g.) down into a fine powder.

    It took a while, but he first spice grinder was invented in the 15th century in Persia or Turkey. Like a tall, slender brass pepper mill, it also was used to grind coffee beans [source].
     
     
    ARE YOU A COFFEE LOVER?

    Take a look at our:

  • Coffee Glossary
  • Espresso Glossary
  • ________________

    *If coffee connoisseurs were lucky, they lived in a town with a specialty coffee shop, with loose beans and packaged coffee from around the world. We were lucky: We lived in New York City, which had McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, established in 1895. It’s still located at 109 Christopher Street in the West Village (and still not open on Sundays).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Salad In A Wine Glass

    Tumbler Salad

    Riedel O Red Wine Tumbler

    Yogurt Parfaits

    Classic Layered Salad

    Avocado Layered Salad

    [1] A beautiful layered salad in a wine tumbler (photo courtesy Riedel Japan). [2] Riedel’s O series tumbler for red wine (photo courtesy Riedel). [3] How many different ways can you use them? See our list (photo Riedel | Facebook). [4] A classic layered salad (photo courtesy Kraft). [5] The most recent layered salad trend: in a Mason jar (here’s the recipe from the California Avocado Commission).

     

    Yesterday’s tip was to use salad as a soup garnish.

    Today we’re taking a slightly different turn.

    Serve an elegant layered salad in (photo #1) a wine tumbler, like Riedel’s O Red Wine Tumbler (photo #2).

    In fact, when you’re not drinking wine from the tumblers, you can variously use them:
     
    At Breakfast

  • Fruit Salad
  • Juice or milk
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Yogurt and granola
  •  
    At Lunch

  • Salad
  • Soup
  • Dessert
  •  
    At Dinner

  • First course
  • Sides
  • Dessert
  •  
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WINE TUMBLER & A WINE GLASS?

    Like its entire line of fine glassware for wine and spirits, Riedel’s wine tumblers are sophisticated glassware engineered for different grape varietals, to deliver the maximum flavors and aromas. The shape of the bowl and mouth direct the wine to different areas of the palate.

    Now, to the stemmed wine glass that has been around for many centuries. It is meant to be held by the stem, not by the bowl.

    Stemware was created for elegance, so the heat from one’s hand didn’t warm the wine in the bowl, and so one’s sticky fingers didn’t leave grease marks on the glass.

    But, with the increasing casual that has developed over the last 30 years, few people know or care about etiquette, and most people hold their stemware by the bowl.

    If you can’t lick ‘em, join ‘em; so Riedel, the world’s greatest wine glass maker, decided to give people what they want: a bowl with no stem.

    The O Stemless Tumblers line did so well, that Riedel has added lines with etched designs and colored bottoms.

    They’re an affordable gift. Check out the choices at Amazon.

    THE HISTORY OF LAYERED SALAD

    Try as we did, we couldn’t find a detailed reference to layered salad before the 1970s. A 2000 article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel refers to a seven layer salad as a fat-laden salad that “helped give salads of the 1950s a bad name” [source].

    Ingredients are layered in a glass bowl, with the varied layer colors and textures providing eye appeal. Made for barbecues, parties, picnics, potlucks, it was/is assembled ahead of time and is easy to transport. It can feed a crowd, and was very popular with said crowd.

    The layers—as few or as many as the cook desires—commonly include:

  • Bacon or ham
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Green or red onions
  • Peas
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Tomatoes
  •  
    The original dressing may have been mayonnaise-based or a mayo-sour cream combination. Depending on the cook, bottled Italian or ranch dressing can be employed.

    Personally, we skip the shredded cheddar and use a mayo-sour cream-chunky blue cheese dressing.

     

     
      

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    TRIVIA: National Egg Month

    May is National Egg Month, a time for some consciousness-raising.

    We look for Certified Humane eggs and don’t mind paying the premium for them. You’ve no doubt heard the horror stories of mass egg production.

    We buy from Pete and Gerry’s whenever we can: eggs produced on small family farms with a commitment to the humane treatment of the chickens.

    Pete & Gerry’s eggs are also USDA Organic, OU kosher and B-Corporation Certified: committed to sustainability.

    They shared these fowl facts with us:

  • There’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. The color of the egg is actually determined by the color of the hen!
  • Young hens produce smaller eggs. The medium-size eggs come from pullets, hens that are less than a year old.
  • The smaller the egg, the thicker the shell. This makes them easier to crack (no fragments to fish out) and, for hard-boiled eggs, easier to peel.
  • What creates a double yolk? In a young hen that is just learning how to lay eggs, two eggs merged before the shell was formed.
  • All eggs aren’t equally flavorful. Aside from freshness (e.g., farmers market eggs), the tastiest eggs come from free-range hens they have real access to grass, where they can peck for worms and other insects that contribute to the flavor.
  • Fresh water, the space to roost and access to earth so they can dust-bathe are also essential. Cage-free and conventional hens spend their lives crammed together indoors. Cage-free hens aren’t confined to sit in a tiny cage, but are crammed onto the floor of a building with no room to move.
  • What’s the deal with cholesterol? In the 1980s, news warned against the consumption of eggs for people with high cholesterol. But the new news is, research has returned to the side of egg consumption. Don’t steer clear of eggs because of cholesterol. (If you have an issue, consult with your healthcare provider).
  •  
    That’s good news, because…

  • The egg is a nutritional powerhouse, with 7 grams of high-quality protein, iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, including the disease-fighting antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and the macro-ingredient choline. Yes, there are 5 grams of fat, but only 1.6 grams are saturated fat (types of fat). And all for just 75-78 calories per large egg.
  •  
    Now for the fun trivia:

     

    Natural Hens' Eggs Colors

    Tufted Araucana Chicken

    These eggs are all natural in color. The colors come from different breeds of hens. Those breeds don’t produce eggs as economically as breeds that produce white and brown eggs, so they are not sold commercially, except by some farmstands (photo courtesy The Egg Farm). [2] This tufted arcauna chicken, originally from South America, lays pale blue eggs (photo courtesy Awesome Araucana.

  • Why are eggs sold by the dozen? In England and other European countries from as early as the 700s and continuing until around 1960, the Imperial Unit System was used. There were twelve pennies to a shilling, which meant that an egg could be sold for a penny, or a dozen eggs could be sold for a shilling, with no change-making required.
  • By the Elizabethan period (1550-1600), selling eggs by the dozen was the standard practice. The English who emigrated to North America brought the system with them. Other countries have their own standards.
  •  
    TIPS

  • To crack an egg: The best technique is to tap it on the counter, not on the rim of the bowl. You’ll avoid fragments, splinters, or whatever you call those exasperating little pieces that drop into the bowl.
  • To check if an egg is fresh or stale, raw or hard boiled: Just spin the egg on the counter. If it wobbles, it’s raw. If it spins easily, it’s hard boiled. A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float.
  • Egg sandwiches: A fried egg sandwich with bacon was popular in our youth. These days, one of our go-to quick meals for breakfast, lunch or light dinner is a sliced hard-boiled egg sandwich on rye toast. We buy the eggs pre-boiled and peeled (a great time saver!) and use an ever-changing variety of seasonal fixings (a favorite: roasted red pepper (pimento) with baby arugula) and mayo flavors. For weekend brunch: a slice of smoked salmon.
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    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EGGS

    If you think of eggs as either white or brown, check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary. There are 10 choices in chicken eggs alone!
     
    SOME EGG-CELLENT LINKS

  • Egg Salad Recipes & The History Of Egg Salad
  • How To Make The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Egg Nutrition
  • Quail Egg Recipes
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