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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 Kosher Nibbles

PRODUCT: Garden Lites Veggie Muffins

The producers of our favorite Garden Lites Veggie Soufflés have introduced new Veggie Muffins: a fluffy carrot muffin and a deep chocolate zucchini muffin.

The all natural Veggie Muffins line is made of 1/3 fresh vegetables. Each muffin is shrink-wrapped for easy portability. Just let the frozen muffins defrost naturally or heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds; you’ll have an extremely moist treat that’s right-sized (not super-sized) at 120 calories per muffin (3 Weight Watchers points).

The recipe contains eggs, but is dairy free, gluten free, nut free and soy free. The line is certified kosher by Star-K.

  • Carrot Berry Veggie Muffins are made with fresh vegetables plus blueberries, cherries and cranberries.
  • Zucchini Chocolate Veggie Muffins are very chocolaty, from cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate chips—so chocolaty that no one will detect the zucchini. They’re great for chocolate cravings or to sneak extra servings of vegetables into resistant loved ones.
  •  

    This moist carrot muffin is a great 120- calorie treat. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Pair Veggie Muffins with coffee or tea for quick breakfast, tuck in with your lunch or for a healthful snack. You can keep them in the office freezer—although you’ll have to disguise them so co-workers don’t polish them off.

    While the muffins don’t have as much veggie content as the larger-portion souffles, each muffin is made from 1/3 fresh vegetables and comprises not quite one daily serving of vegetables. But hey, they’re muffins!

    The yummy muffins are available at select Costco locations and other retailers. Check the store locator for the store nearest you.

    The four-pack will retail for around $4.99, and the Costco 14-pack is a bargain at $9.99.

    Garden Lites calls itself “the delicious vegetable company.” We agree.

    For more information, visit GardenLites.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Love Beets, Ready To Eat

    We’re so happy with these grab-and-go
    infused beet snacks and easy salad or side
    ingredients. Photo courtesy LoveBeets.com.

     

    Americans don’t eat enough beets. Love Beets, a packager of cooked beets in several enticing formats, wants to change that.

    Growing up in a beet-centric household of Russian descent, we know beets as a truly versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed hot or cold in just about everything—from sandwiches to soup (borscht!) to red velvet cake and ice cream (our beet ice cream was the hit of our 2000 “millennium dinner” on New Year’s Eve).

    So our heart fluttered when we discovered Love Beets’ fresh-cooked, ready-to-eat, conveniently designed clamshell packages of beets, with a fork included.

    There are also plain cooked beets (conventional or organic) that can be used as a salad or sandwich topper, side dish or healthful snack. There‘s beet juice (delicious!) that can be enjoyed plain, in a smoothie or in a Beet Martini. The line is all natural, gluten free, non GMO and certified kosher by OU.

     
    Baby beets are harvested young for a sweeter taste and cooked until tender; then packaged plain or infused with complementary flavors:

  • Balsamic Infused Beets. A modern take on a traditional flavor, beets are infused with balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar.
  • Honey & Ginger Infused Beets. Beets are infused in a blend of white wine vinegar, dark soy sauce, orange blossom honey, ginger purée and a pinch of sugar.
  • Sweetfire Infused Beets. With a bit of heat, beets are infused in a marinade of wine vinegar, sugar, salt, chili extract and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Vinegar-Infused Beets. Not quite a pickled beet, the sweetness of these baby beets is complimented by mild vinegar.
  • Sweetfire Snack Tray. Packaged with white Cheddar cheese cubes and crostini crackers; 129 calories.
  •  

    We enjoy the flavor-infused beets straight from the package, or with a side of plain nonfat yogurt—it’s the healthier version of the Russian beets and sour cream.

    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY BEETS

    Ruby red baby beets add a delicious kick to just about anything.

  • Add to side salads or luncheon salads. The photo shows a lettuce salad with hard-cooked eggs, crumbled bacon and beets. Add with sliced oranges and beets to lettuce for a new take on a classic Moroccan salad. Arrange with sliced pears, arugula and goat cheese. Our favorite salad: arugula, beets and goat cheese with fresh-snipped dill.
  • Serve with cold cuts, sandwiches and cheese plates. Take a look at this recipe for Steak Sandwich With Beets & Honey Mustard.
  •  

    Add beets to side salads or luncheon salads: here, with hard-cooked eggs and crumbled bacon. Photo courtesy LoveBeets.com.

  • Add sliced beets to a bagel. Slice and layer with smoked salmon and cream cheese. Our diet version: Substitute Greek yogurt for the cream cheese.
  • Create a beet garnish. Sliced, diced or in matchsticks, beets add pizzazz.
  • Make beet bruschetta. Layer beets atop sliced baguette, top with Brie or other favorite cheese, heat to slightly melt cheese and garnish with fresh green herbs.
  • Beet-based dips. It can be as simple as blending beets into plain yogurt with fresh dill. But check out this beet and walnut dip, beet, beet and spinach dip and butterbean hummus and beet and radish chutney.
     
    Return to your roots: Enjoy more beets! Find more delicious beet recipes at LoveBeets.com.
     
    BEET TIPS

    You can use cooked beets in any recipe that requires raw beets. Just reduce the cooking time accordingly.

    Alas, beet juice does stain. If you aren’t a very neat eater, wear dark clothing! But beet juice is a water-soluble dye, so try one of these methods to clean up stains:

  • To remove from hands, rub with lemon juice and salt before washing with soap and water
  • On fabrics, rub a slice of raw pear on the stain before washing or rinse in cold water before washing in detergent.
  • Use a bleach solution for cutting boards and containers.
  •  
    THE HISTORY OF BEETS

    Beets, or Beta vulgaris, evolved from wild sea beet, which grew wild in places as wide-ranging as Britain and India to Britain. The wild sea beet was first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East—although only the leaves were eaten! (Even today, beet greens are delicious. Don’t throw them away: Sauté them.) In early times, the medicinal properties of the root (the red bulb) led that portion to be used to treat a range of ailments from constipation, fevers, skin problems and wounds.

    The Romans cultivated beets; early recipes included cooking beets with honey and wine (that’s still a good recipe today). Apicius, the renowned Roman gourmet, included a beet broth recipe in his cookbook as well as beet salad with a dressing of mustard, oil and vinegar.

    The original beet roots were long and thin like carrots. The rounded root shape of today was developedin the 16th century and by the 18th century was widely cultivated in Central and Eastern Europe. Many classic beet dishes originated in this region, including borscht.

    In 19th century England, beets’ dramatic color was popular to brighten up salads and soups. The high sugar content made it a popular ingredient in cakes and puddings.

    Today there are many varieties of beets sizes large and small, including candy-striped (with red and white concentric circles), orange, white and yellow. Look for these specialty beets in farmers markets.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blue Bandana Chocolate Bars

    New artisan chocolate bars. Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Chocolates.

     

    Looking for an Easter gift for a chocolate connoisseur?

    Check out Blue Bandana chocolate bars from Lake Champlain Chocolates, one of our favorite producers of fine chocolate candies.

    Third-generation chocolatier Eric Lampman developed the bean-to-bar chocolate, using single origin cacao beans from Guatemala and Madagascar.

    In what may be a first in artisan chocolate bars, one of the Madagascar bars is flavored with voatsiperifery, a wild peppercorn called known to grow only in Madagascar.

    he 3.5-ounce bars are $7.00 apiece. How to they taste? Read the full review.

    Lake Champlain chocolates are certified kosher by Star-K.

     

    KNOW YOUR CHOCOLATE TERMS

    Bean to bar. Gourmet chocolate. Single origin chocolate. What do these terms mean?

    Discover the language of chocolate—all the chocolate terms you need to know—in our Chocolate Glossary.

      

    Comments

    PASSOVER: Start New Traditions With These Recipes

    Passover begins at sunset on Monday, March 25th and continues for seven days. Observant Jews celebrate the first two nights with seders, featuring recipes that have been in their families for generations.

    But how about some 21st-century Passover recipes—if not for a seder, then for the other five days? There are more than 60 modern, creative Passover recipes in a new cookbook, Passover Made Easy. Some of the recipes that are calling out to us:

  • Brisket Eggrolls
  • Citrus Beet Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Eggplant-Wrapped Chicken
  • Espresso Macarons with Chocolate-Hazelnut Cream
  • French Roast with Fresh Spice Rub
  • Frozen Lemon Wafer Cake
  • Jalapeño Lime and Ginger Salmon
  • Pecan Pie with Cookie Crust
  • Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup
  • Schnitzel Nuggets with Apricot Dipping Sauce
  • Spaghetti Squash Kugel
  • Tortillas with Tomato-Mint Salsa and Guacamole
  • Vegetable Lo Mein
  •  

    There’s plenty of time to pick up a copy and plan for Passover. Photo courtesy Passover Made Easy.

     

    The easy to prepare, sure to please original recipes were developed and tested by best-selling cookbook author Leah Schapira (Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking) and co-founder of CookKosher.com, an online kosher recipe exchange; with Victoria Dwek, managing editor of Whisk, a kosher food magazine.

    Pick up a copy for yourself or as a gift: it’s just $10.87 on Amazon.com. There are fascinating culinary tidbits, useful preparation tips, full-color photos for each dish, step-by-step plating and food styling secrets, and a wine pairings and Seder wine guide.

    As a bonus, all but four of the 60 recipes in the book are gluten-free. And of course, the recipes can be enjoyed all year long. Here’s one recipes from Passover Made Easy to start you off; next week, we’ll publish Matzaroni, the mac-and-cheese alternative:

     

    Eggplant-wrapped chicken, one of the
    modern recipe alternatives. Photo courtesy
    Passover Made Easy.

     

    RECIPE: EGGPLANT WRAPPED CHICKEN

    Ingredients

    Eggplant

  • 1 tall eggplant
  • ½ cup oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch coarse black pepper
  •  
    Meat Mixture

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ pound ground meat of choice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  •  
    Chiken

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch course black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to broil. Grease a baking sheet. Cut eggplant lengthwise, 1/4-inch thick, to get 6 or 7 slices. Reserve remaining eggplant scraps. Place eggplant slices on prepared baking sheet. Brush slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil 5 minutes per side, until second side is beginning to brown. The slices should appear as if they were fried. Remove and set aside.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Peel and finely dice remaining eggplant to obtain ½ cup diced eggplant. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and diced eggplant and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

    3. COMBINE onion mixture with ground meat in a small bowl. Season with salt and garlic powder.

    4. SEASON chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon of the meat mixture into each thigh and roll up to close. Roll an eggplant slice around each stuffed chicken thigh. Place, seam side down and close together, in a baking pan. Cover and bake for 2½ hours.

    Serve with mashed potatoes or your favorite Passover-approved grain,* and your favorite green vegetable, steamed or sauteed lightly with garlic.

    *Grains forbidden during passover include barley and all types of wheat. Grains such as quinoa and rice were not known during biblical times so are not forbidden. Extremely religious people will avoid any grain.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Cake Boss Cakes, At A Store Near You

    From left to right: It’s My Party, Oh My
    Ganache! and Va Va Velvet. Photo courtesy
    Dawn Foods.

     

    Fans of Buddy Valastro, TLC Channel’s Cake Boss, don’t have to pilgrimage to Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey for a cake.

    Buddy has struck a deal to deliver cakes to stores nationwide, beginning with six buttercream cakes “inspired by the flavors, techniques and styles of the cakes featured on the show.”

    The cakes are produced by Dawn Foods, a long-time supplier to Carlo’s Bake Shop, using Buddy’s recipes and designs. The Cake Boss himself has been involved every step of the way to ensure that the cakes meet his quality standards.

    At $27.99 for a seven-inch cake, they are not an everyday purchase.

     

    But for a special occasion, the cakes, which can be found in the bakery department of supermarkets and other food stores, are better than most store-bought cakes. We tried three varieties; our notes are below.

    The line is kosher certified by OU. Cupcakes and fondant cakes are expected later this year. The buttercream cake selection* includes:

     

  • Bada Bloom: Yellow cake and chocolate cake layers with fudge filling, decorated with flowers. (REVIEW: Our favorite of the three we tried—we ate a second [tiny] slice and had to stay our hand from eating a third piece.)
  • Dulce De Leche: Caramel filling between chocolate layers and a frosting of white Belgian chocolate ganache.
  • It’s My Party: The yellow cake and chocolate Bada Bloom combination with a festive, non-floral decor.
  • Oh My Ganache! All chocolate, all the time: cake, filling, icing and a chocolate shavings garnish. (REVIEW: Despite the all-chocolate ingredients, it’s not cloying or overly rich; we had a second piece of this, too.)
  • Va Va Velvet: Red velvet layers filled and topped with cream cheese frosting and finished with cake crumbs and shaved white chocolate.
  •  

    Bada Bloom, Dulce de Leche and Whole Lotta Carrots. Photo courtesy Dawn Foods.

     

  • Whole Lotta Carrots: Shredded carrots, coconut, pineapple, raisins and walnuts, with cream cheese frosting and filling. (REVIEW: We are beyond picky about certain recipes, and we want our carrot cake to taste just so. This is not the recipe of our dreams, but we opine that most carrot cake lovers will be happy with it.)
  •  
    Next Step: Check the store locator and look for a special occasion.
     
    *Each retailer may only carry a partial selection.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Single Malt Marmalade, Jam With Spirits

    We recently received a gift shipment of jams from Blake Hill Preserves of Grafton, Vermont, artisanal producers of chutneys, jams and marmalades.

    The fruits are sourced from local farms in season, when they’re perfectly ripe. Every batch is prepared by hand in a Vermont cottage kitchen.

    The four jars we received were equally delicious. The company focuses on combinations of flavors: Blackberry & Rhubarb, Blueberries & Summer Plum, Raspberry & Hibiscus Strawberry & Rhubarb. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    The jams are cooked slowly in traditional French copper preserving pans to concentrate the fruit flavors. Raw cane sugar is used as a sweetener; no commercial pectin or other additives are used.

    It takes eight to nine ounces of raw fruit to make every 10 ounce jar of jam or preserves. Compare that to large commercial brands, which can be 70% sugar.

     

    Raspberry jam is enhanced with hibiscus, creating a special flavor combination. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

    MARMALADE WITH SPIRIT

    Blake Hill Preserves also makes what they call “Top Shelf Marmalades,” which add a splash of premium spirits:

  • Lemon Lime Marmalade & Aged 100% Agave Tequila
  • Orange Marmalade & 10 Year Single Malt Whisky
  •  
    While you can certainly enjoy spiked marmalade on your morning toast, they (as with all jams) can be used as a glaze for grilled fish and meats, as a cheese condiment or an ice cream/sorbet topping.

    You can purchase the spirited and alcohol-free jams directly from Blake Hill Preserves. But you can also make your own.

     

    Grab the Johnny Walker and perk up your
    marmalade. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    AN EASY WAY TO MAKE YOUR OWN SPIKED JAM
    OR MARMALADE

    There are two ways to do this: easier and easy. Start with already-made jam or marmalade, unless you’re up to the challenge of making it from scratch.

    Be sure to use good ingredients: quality jam/marmalade/preserves and quality Scotch, Tequila or other spirit.

    The Easier Way

  • Pour one tablespoon of liquor into the marmalade jar and stir to combine thoroughly. Cap, refrigerate and allow the flavors to infuse for a week.
  • Taste and add more liquor if you like. Let the flavors infuse for another week.
  •  
    The Easy Way

  • Empty the jam into a sauce pan and add the liquor. Stir over low heat for a few minutes.
  • Taste and add more liquor if you like. Return contents to the jar or serve in a dish.
  •  

    JAM, PRESERVES, MARMALADE: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    Jam, jelly, marmalade and preserves are popular types of fruit spreads, which also include chutney, curd and fruit butter.

    Check out how they differ from each other in our Jam Glossary.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Gourmet Flavored Hot Chocolate

    Chai & Mighty is one of four flavored hot
    chocolates from gourmet producer Lake
    Champlain Chocolates. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Hanukkah begins tonight, so today’s gift suggestion is kosher-certified.

    For Hannuakh, Christmas or other occasion, gourmet hot chocolate is a delightful gift during the chillier months.

    What makes hot chocolate “gourmet?”

    Higher quality ingredients, for starters: the cocoa powder or chocolate shavings are better to start with.

    Second, gourmet hot chocolate comes in delicious flavors that make the gift extra special. We tried these, from Lake Champlain Chocolates, a fine producer of chocolates and confections:

  • Aztec Hot Chocolate, spiced with cinnamon, a hint of cayenne and vanilla
  • Chai & Mighty Hot Chocolate with chai spices
  • Mocha Hot Chocolate, flavored with coffee and cinnamon
  • Mountain Mint Hot Chocolate, flavored with sprightly mint
  •  

    If you don’t want flavors, try:

  • Traditional Hot Chocolate
  • Old World Hot Chocolate made of chocolate shavings (also called drinking chocolate)
  • Old World Drinking Chocolate
  • Organic Fair Trade Hot Chocolate
  • Winter Hot Chocolate, the Traditional Hot Chocolate in a festive winter-themed tin
  •  
    If you don’t want sugar, try:

  • Organic Fair Trade Unsweetened Cocoa, and add a noncaloric sweetener
  •  
    Buy them online at LakeChamplainChocolate.com.

    Purchase three or more tins by December 9th and enjoy a 15% discount.

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA & HOT CHOCOLATE

    Yes, there is a difference: Here it is, along with related terms such as Swiss hot chocolate.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Marinelli’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce

    So many holiday gifts are well-intentioned, but end up being things people don’t really need and don’t have space to store or display.

    One of our favorite gifts that’s always well-received is gourmet pasta sauce, with or without a package of gourmet pasta.

    Marinelli’s pasta sauce is a double winner: delicious and beautifully packaged. The new boxes (and jar labels) are such fun works of art, we’re not even wrapping them. (Those who sell packaged products take note: Look at the old, boring labels (just another jar of sauce) and the exciting new design (beautiful and giftable).

    Marinelli sauces are also certified gluten free, certified non-GMO, OU-kosher, sugar/sweetener-free and vegan.

    Handmade in small batches from the very best all natural ingredients, the pasta sauces are healthful and low in calories—and are not just for pasta. On carb-sparing days, we ladle it over spaghetti squash or steamed zucchini.

     

    Marinelli’s gourmet pasta sauce has both great taste and great packaging. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The sumptuous sauces are made in nine flavors: Hot & Spicy Sicilian, Meat Ready Bolognese (add your own meat), Mushroom & Onion, Oven Roasted Garlic, Roasted Red Pepper, Spicy Black Olive & Garlic, Sweet Sundried Tomato & Oregano, Tomato & Basil and Vegetable Primavera.

    The sauces are available on Amazon.com in six-packs, about $12.65/jar.

    Learn more at MarinelliSauce.com.

    Find more of our favorite pastas, sauces and recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hey Shuga! Organic Sugar Cane Syrup & Stevia Syrup

    What if there were a sweetener that was all natural, organic and delicious? Lower in calories? Better for you? And as a bonus, packaged in a fun enough way to be giftable?

    Refined sugars (such as table sugar) are stripped of nutrients; most noncaloric sweeteners are artificial. Sugar isn’t all that convenient when you’re trying to get it to dissolve in iced coffee, iced tea or lemonade.

    One solution: liquid cane sugar and liquid stevia dissolve easily and are available in natural food stores. But one family business is treating them with imagination and sass. We bought quite a few bottles for ourselves and for holiday gifts.

    The Hey Shuga! line of all natural, organic liquid sweeteners dissolve instantly in cold beverages and cocktails, and are equally delicious in hot beverages, as topping for cereal and fruit, in baking and glazing.

    The two initial products are:

     

    Lil’ Shuga liquid stevia-cane sugar blend and Hey Shuga! liquid cane sugar. Photo courtesy Hey Shuga!

     

  • Hey Shuga! is a flavorful organic sugar cane syrup, 20 calories per teaspoon.
  • Lil’ Shuga! cuts calories by blending sugar with noncaloric stevia, 15 calories per teaspoon. However, since stevia makes the blend much sweeter than sugar, you use 1/3 as much: 5 calories’ worth.
  •  
    Both are alternatives to agave. corn syrup/golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, refined white sugar and conventional stevia. Lil’ Suga! has so few calories, you can use it instead of noncaloric sweeteners.

    Both have a delicious cane sugar taste, nothing artificial and are USDA organic certified, GMO free, gluten free and kosher certified by SKS.

    The line expects to expand next year to all-natural Hazelnut, Irish Cream, Maple and Vanilla flavors.

    You can purchase them on Amazon or on the HeyShuga.com website, which sells:

  • Hey Shuga! 12-ounce bottle, $7.99; case of 12, $80.000 ($6.66/bottle)
  • Lil’ Shuga! 8.5-ounce bottle, $9.99; case of 12, $94.00 ($7.83/bottle)
  •  
    There are also tall bottles, glamorous for gifting:

  • Hey Shuga! 33.8-ounce bottle, $20.00
  • Lil’ Shuga! 23.7-ounce bottle, $24.00
  •  

    Check out all the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.

      

    Comments

    CHANUKAH: Build A Cookie Chanukah House

    Manischewitz’s Chanukah House Kit. Photo
    courtesy Manischewitz.

     

    For centuries, many children have celebrated Christmas by decorating a gingerbread house. While there’s nothing religious about it, it is a Christian tradition.

    Now, Jewish children have their own holiday house: a vanilla cookie house called—wait for it—Chanukah House.

    The Manischewitz Chanukah House Decorating Kit includes everything you need to build and design your house: a vanilla cookie base and an assortment of toppings and additions to decorate the house.

    The toppings include blue, white, and yellow icing, sprinkles, mini beads, fondant, sugar and decorative sugar pieces of a Star of David and a menorah. Of course, you can add design elements from your own candy stash.

     

    If you don’t want a whole house, there is also a Chanukah Sugar Cookie Decorating Kit that contains 4 vanilla cookies shaped like dreidels and menorahs, with a similar selection of sugar decorations.

    The suggested retail price is $14.99 for the Chanukah House Decorating Kit and $9.99 for the Chanukah Sugar Cookie Decorating Kit.

     

    ENTER YOUR HOUSE IN THE DESIGN CONTEST

    Through December 15, 2012, you can upload a photo of your hand-decorated Chanukah House to the Manischewitz Facebook page, for the chance to win a cash prize or Manischewitz products.

    The official rules are on the Facebook page.

    CHANUKAH GINGERBREAD HOUSE

    If you’d prefer a gingerbread house, Best Cookies makes one in Chanukah colors; you can buy it online.

    Both cookie houses are certified kosher (dairy).

     

    A gingerbread “Chanukah house” from Best Cookies. Photo courtesy Best Cookies.

      

    Comments

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