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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,
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Archive for Meat & Poultry

RECIPE: BLT Avocado Burger

May is National Burger Month. We usually default to our list of 35+ burger recipes—at least one variation for every day of the month.

But we’re calling out this Grilled Avocado BLT Burger from the California Avocado Commission, because it has all of our favorite “essential” toppings. Our idea of burger heaven includes avocado, bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and tomato.

This isn’t the fastest recipe to prepare, because all the components are homemade. But if your palate is like ours, it’s worth pulling out all the stops—especially on a holiday weekend when there’s more time.


Ingredients For 6 Burgers
For The Caramelized Chipotle Onions

  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle or other chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar


    Our favorite burger recipe has it all: avocado, bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and tomato. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

    For The Blue Cheese Spread

  • 6 1/2 ounce light garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese
  • 4 ounces Point Reyes blue cheese or other favorite blue cheese, crumbled
    For The Burger Patties

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/3 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup Zinfandel or other hearty red wine
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano, thyme, and basil (in any combination)
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle or other chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons spicy seasoned salt (like chipotle sea salt)
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
    For The Grilled Avocado

  • 12 fresh avocado slices
  • Balsamic vinegar, for brushing on the avocado slices
  • Spicy seasoned salt, for sprinkling on the avocado slices
  • 12 bacon slices, pre-cooked
  • 6 rolls of choice, split (we prefer brioche or whole grain rolls)
  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 6 large tomato slices (1/4-inch thick)


    Point Reyes blue cheese, made north of San Francisco, is a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. We can’t get enough of it (and all of the creamery’s products).



    Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

    1. MAKE the caramelized onions: Combine the onion, pepper sauce, broth, vinegar, oil, garlic and brown sugar in a 10-inch nonstick, fire-proof skillet. Cover with a lid and place on the grill rack. Cook the onion mixture for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized and most of the liquid is evaporated. Remove the pan and set aside.

    2. MAKE the cheese spread: Combine the cheeses in a fire-proof saucepan, cover and set aside.

    3. MAKE the patties: Combine the chuck, sirloin, onion, Zindandel, herbs, pepper sauce and seasoned salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties to fit the rolls. When the grill is ready…

    4. BRUSH the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once until done to preference (5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium). Meanwhile…

    5. PLACE the saucepan with the cheese spread on the outer edge of the rack to warm the cheese mixture, just until it reaches a very soft, spreadable consistency. Remove the the saucepan from the grill and set aside. During the final minutes of grilling the patties…

    6. BRUSH the avocado slices with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a seasoned salt. Arrange on a rimmed nonstick perforated grilling pan coated lightly with oil, and grill alongside the patties for 1 to 2 minutes, turning as necessary.

    7. ADD the bacon slices to the pan during the final 30 seconds of grilling the patties. When the avocados are nicely grilled and the bacon is crisp, remove from the grill. When the patties are cooked, remove from the grill, stacking to keep them warm.

    8. PLACE the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

    9. ASSEMBLE the burgers: Spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, a patty, an equal portion of the caramelized onions, 2 avocado slices and 2 bacon slices. Add the roll tops and serve.

    It’s worth the effort!

    Tips To Make A Better Burger



    TIP OF THE DAY: Turkey Chorizo

    Love spicy sausage but have been told to avoid the cholesterol? How about turkey chorizo?

    Made by family-run Diestel Turkey Ranch, it has lots of flavor and less calories, cholesterol and sodium* than conventional pork or beef chorizo.

    Whether in a Cinco de Mayo recipe or everyday breakfast burritos or scrambled eggs, it has only 2g fat per serving.

    The all-natural, Mexican-style chorizo is made from 100% pure ground turkey, is minimally processed and is gluten free. The family’s seasoning blend adds dimensions of flavor as well as a spicy kick.

    The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch has been sustainably raising turkeys for over four generations. Their turkeys and turkey products are humanely raised on GAP rated farms, without hormones, antibiotics or growth stimulants, resulting in tender and juicier turkeys with old-fashioned flavor and great texture.

    The products are sold at independent, natural and upscale food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.
    *A two-ounce serving has 60 calories, 15 from fat; 0g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 360mg sodium, 2g diegary fiber, 8g protein.




    Turkey chorizo, cholesterol free. Photo courtesy Diestel Turkey Ranch.

    Don’t confuse Mexican- and Spanish-style chorizos. They have different uses.

    Mexican chorizo is a spicy ground meat sausage, sold fresh and uncooked. It can be purchased either loose or in a casing: Many traditional Mexican recipes call for the chorizo casing to be removed and the meat to be crumbled while cooking.

    The traditional chorizo meat is pork, but you can find beef and turkey versions. Use Mexican-style chorizo as you would any ground meat.

    Spanish chorizo is a cured, dried, ready-to-eat pork sausage. The casing is not removed prior to eating. Dense and chewy, Spanish-style chorizo is made in smoked, unsmoked, sweet and spicy varieties. It can be served as tapas, with other charcuterie, with a cheese plate, or added to recipes (paellas, soups, tortas, etc).

    Spanish chorizo is seasoned with smoked paprika, which is responsible for the vibrant color. Other traditional herbs and spices include cumin and garlic. Here’s a photo.



    Chorizo scrambled eggs. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy Betty Crocker.



  • Cheese dishes: grilled cheese, mac and cheese
  • Eggs: baked, omelets, frittatas, scrambled
  • Stuffed: chiles, mushrooms, potato skins
  • Ground meat recipes: burgers, casseroles, meat loaf, stuffing
  • Tex Mex: enchiladas, nachos, tacos
  • Dips: onion dip, queso
  • Pasta and pizza
  • Soups: black bean, white bean with kale
  • Torta/tortilla

    In Mexico, chorizo is often served at breakfast with scrambled eggs. Here’s a recipe from Betty Crocker that’s ready in 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 6 ounces chorizo sausage
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices thick-sliced bread or 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste

    1. REMOVE the casings from the sausage and cook the sausage on 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes until the meat is no longer pink, stirring and breaking up the sausage.

    2. BEAT the eggs in a medium bowl until blended. Begin to toast the bread or warm the tortillas.

    3. ADD the beaten eggs to the chorizo in the skillet and stir. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the eggs are scrambled and set. Taste and add salt as necessary.

    4. SPREAD the butter on the toasted slices of bread and place toast on individual plates. Spoon the eggs over the toast. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.



    RECIPE: Chipotle Meatballs

    To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, how about Mexican-style meatballs?

    Meatballs in Chipotle Chile Sauce with Wisconsin Queso Fresco Cheese. Make them small for an appetizer, or bigger for a main course. Serve them with rice and pinto or black beans; or make a Cinco de Mayo meatball sub.

    This recipe serves four 4 as main course, 10-12 as appetizers.



    For The Meatballs

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 cup Wisconsin Cotija or Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 large white onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten


    Chipotle meatballs. Photo courtesy

  • 2 slices coarse white bread, crust removed and soaked in 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper
    For The Sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) chipotle salsa
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 sprig mint (or pinch ground dried mint)
  • 1 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Garnish: cilantro, mint and queso fresco, as desired.


    Queso fresco, made in Wisconsin—America’s largest cheese-producing state. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.



    1. COMBINE the meatball ingredients in bowl, using your hands. Refrigerate for one hour.

    2. SHAPE the meatballs in the desired size: larger for main course, smaller for appetizer.

    3. MAKE the sauce: Add the cinnamon to the chile salsa. Heat oil until quite hot (but not smoking) in a heavy, deep skillet. Add the salsa and “fry” until thick (it will splatter; consider a splatter screen).

    4. ADD the broth and bring to boil. Stir in the mint. Add the meatballs. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are done.

    5. GARNISH each serving with crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and additional mint, asdesired.

    Queso fresco is one of the most commonly-used cheeses for cooking in Latin America. It’s a soft, mild cheese similar to ricotta in that it’s made from curds. Cultures and rennet are added to pasteurized milk to create the curds, which are scooped into molds, then drained briefly.


    The resulting queso fresco is crumbly, with a mild and salty flavor and a slightly “grainy” texture. It is often sprinkled over foods, and when heated, it will melt.

    Queso fresco is most often used crumbled, as a topping for everything from salads to soups to enchiladas, and is melted in quesadillas and casseroles.

    Queso fresco should not be confused with queso blanco fresco, although the latter is similar. Queso blanco fresco is a fresh cheese that is made by direct acidification (not cultures and rennet) and pressed into blocks. It consequently has a firm texture and softens but does not melt: It can be sliced for pan-frying.

    The different types of Hispanic cheeses.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Kurobuta Ham


    Ham doesn’t get any better than this Kurobuta. Photo courtesy Snake River Farms.


    If you’ve been thinking about a juicy Easter ham gracing your table next week, there’s still time to order the best.

    In our opinion, that’s a Kurobuta (koo-row-BOO-tuh) ham from Snake River Farms. We’ve order at least one each year, and we never cease to be very, very happy.

    Kurobuta ham has been called the world’s best ham. Made from pure-bred Berkshire pork, it’s also known as the Kobe beef of ham, because of the fine intramuscular marbling that makes the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender.

    How good is this ham? Succulent beyond expectation with a perfect smoke and impeccable seasoning, subtle notes of clove and other spices caressing one’s tongue.

    And the most celestial aroma! We were truly sad when the last bite was gone.

    Our butcher, one of New York’s finest, already carried the Wagyu beef (an American-bred Kobe style) from Snake River Farms, but not the Kurobuta ham. After we shared some of our Kurobuta with him, he became an instant fan and a wholesale client.


    We couldn’t be happier about that. Now, when we have a hankering for a great piece of ham, we just have to go downtown to Pino’s to pick it up.

    All you have to do is head to or phone 877.496.4220.

    And if you’re already set for Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are coming up soon! For lovers of fine food, a Kurobuta is a memorable gift.

    A final comment: Kurobuta ham isn’t a luxury: It’s a necessity!


  • The cuts and types of ham.
  • The history of ham.
  • Ham and ham glaze recipes.
  • Ham trivia quiz #1.
  • Ham trivia quiz #2.


    FOOD FUN: Meatball Pot Pie

    For National Meatball Day, March 9th, here are two fun recipes with meatballs. courtesy of Casa Di Bertacchi.

    Both will be popular with busy moms, because the ingredients are quick to assemble. We don’t often use recipes that use a can of soup or canned potatoes as an ingredient; but here we make an exception to make it easy to celebrate National Meatball Day.

    The meatballs, too, are purchased frozen from Casa di Bertacchi.

    Of course, you make it from-scratch, using your favorite homemade pot pie recipe.


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
  • 13 frozen fully cooked meatballs, thawed
  • 2 cans (10.5 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (15 ounces) diced potatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon chopped dried rosemary
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 frozen or refrigerated pie crusts, at room temperature


    Meatball Pot Pie. Photo courtesy Casa di Bertacchi.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients except the crusts in a 2-quart bowl. Place one pie crust evenly over the bottom and sides of a deep dish pie pan, pressing it up over the sides.

    3. FILL the pie crust with the meatball mixture. Cover with the second crust, sealing the edges and cutting slits in the top to vent steam. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.



    Fun food: Try meatball kabobs. Recipe and photo courtesy Casa di Bertacchi.



    Spell it kabob, kaboab, kebab or kebap: The word is transliterated from Arabic, so there’s no one definitive spelling.

    Originating in the Eastern Mediterranean, a kabob consists of pieces of meat, fish or vegetables roasted or grilled on a skewer or spit.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 18 frozen, fully cooked meatballs, thawed
  • 1 medium yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 12 equal pieces
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow summer squash*, cut into 12 slices, 1-1/2 to 2 inches
  • 12 whole mushrooms
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Caesar dressing
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 long metal skewers†
    *Substitute yellow bell pepper.

    †If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes prior to assembling kabobs.

    1. THREAD a meatball, bell pepper slice, yellow squash slice, mushroom and tomato on a long metal skewer. the Repeat pattern ending with a meatball.

    2. REPEAT for the other five skewers.

    3. COMBINE the Caesar dressing and black pepper.

    4. PLACE the meatball skewers directly on a hot grill. Baste the kabobs with the dressing.

    5. GRILL for 6–8 minutes, turning and basting every 2–3 minutes until done. Makes 6 kabobs.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Prosciutto Salad, The Sophisticated Ham Salad


    Slices of prosciutto topped with a salad of
    baby arugula and watercress, topped with
    Parmigiano-Reggiano. Photo courtesy Olio e
    Piú | NYC.


    When you hear the words “ham salad,” you think of diced ham, possibly the leftovers from a holiday ham or Sunday dinner.

    Diced or minced ham is mixed with diced bell pepper, celery and onion or other favorite raw vegetables; perhaps with some hard-boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, pickle relish or green peas; and bound with mayonnaise (we use a mayo-Dijon blend).

    It’s one of those traditional Anglo-American sandwich salads, along with chicken salad, egg salad and tuna salad.

    It’s also served sans bread on a bed of green salad ingredients, perhaps with a scoop of another protein salad or a starch-based salad such as potato salad, macaroni salad or chopped vegetable salad.

    But there’s another, more sophisticated way to serve ham salad: as a first course with prosciutto or Serrano ham.

    Prosciutto, or Parma ham, is classically served as a first course with melon in Italian cuisine.

    At Olio e Piú in New York’s Greenwich Village, the chef takes a different direction, adding a salad of vinaigrette-dressed bitter greens (we like baby arugula, watercress or a mix) atop the prosciutto and topping it with some fresh-shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.



    Bitter greens are part of the larger family of leafy greens, which include the lettuces, known as “sweet greens.” The bitterness can be mild or strong. Greens harvested earlier in the season tend to be less bitter than more mature plants harvested later.

    Many bitter greens are dark green in color, although some are pale (endive, frisée) and some are red or have red accents (amaranth, chard, radicchio). If you like your veggies, you’ve likely had more than a few of these:


  • Amaranth
  • Arugula
  • Belgian endive
  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli rabe/rapini
  • Chard
  • Chicory
  • Cress
  • Collard greens
  • Curly endive
  • Dandelion greens
  • Escarole
  • Frisée
  • Kale
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard greens
  • Nettles
  • Radicchio
  • Spinach
  • Tatsoi
  • Turnip greens


    Not all “bitter greens” are green. Above, white endive and red endive, the latter also known as radicchio. Photo courtesy



    Both prosciutto and Serrano hams are dry-cured: salted and hung in sheds to cure in the air. Both are served in very thin slices. Country ham, preferred in the U.S., is smoked, and a very different stye from dry-cured hams.

    While prosciutto and Serrano hams can be used interchangeably, they are different.

  • Prosciutto, from Italy, is cured for 10-12 months with a coating of lard. Serrano, from Spain, can be cured for up to 18 months (and at the high end, for 24 months). The differing times and microclimates affect the amount of wind that dries the hams, and thus the character of the final products.
  • They are made from different breeds of pigs: Prosciutto can be made from pig or wild boar, whereas Serrano is typically made from a breed of white pig.
  • The diet of the pigs differs. Parma pigs eat the local chestnuts, and are also fed the whey by-product of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Italian-made prosciutto is never made with nitrates. American made prosciutto, as well as both domestic and Spanish Serrano-style hams, can have added nitrates.
  • Prosciutto is considered more salty and fatty. Serrano is considered more flavorful and less fatty.

  • The different types of ham
  • American hams
  • Serrano ham vs. jamón ibérico


    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Flying Meatballs


    Six large meatballs are tucked under a
    blanket of smooth tomato sauce. Photo by
    Faith Tomases | THE NIBBLE.


    There is a National Meatball Day: It’s coming up soon, on March 9th. And we know just how we’re going to celebrate: with lots and lots of The Flying Meatballs.

    The Flying Meatballs is a side business established by an elegant restaurant in Whippany, New Jersey, Il Capriccio. The restaurant’s meatballs have been a perennial menu favorite, with patrons always asking for orders to go.

    The Grande family, owners of the restaurant, decided that the meatballs were ideal for selling directly to consumers—that they would literally “fly off the shelves.” Hence the brand name.

    Made in small batches, the meatballs are now sold direct-to-consumers at They’ll also be at a growing list of deli counters, currently at Balducci’s and King’s (listen up, Fairway!).

    Six meatballs, blanketed in sauce, include a choice of:

  • The Classic Meatballs, a 50:50 blend of beef and veal, $16.00
  • 100% Premium Beef Meatballs, $15.00
  • Organic Grass-Fed Meatballs, $25.00
  • The Three Meats Meatballs—beef, pork and veal—$15.00
  • 100% Premium Turkey Meatballs, $15.00
    The company sent us a sample of each, and we’re now a raving fan. Each order of meatballs is packed by the half-dozen in a velvety tomato sauce. The meatballs are bit: about 3.5 ounces in weight and about three inches in diameter. Two meatballs is more than enough for adults; small eaters and children will do well with one meatball. A big eater, we consumed them without the conventional pasta or submarine roll, with just a big salad. We were more than satisfied.

    Everything is made from scratch, including the breadcrumbs. Just as at the restaurant, prime, natural cuts of meat and premium ingredients are combined into a dense yet tender texture. You get lots of great meat for the money.

    Chef Grande has a degree in engineering, which enabled him to design and build a proprietary meatball extruder. The technology creates a replicate a perfectly hand-rolled meatball, just like his grandmother makes.

    The meatballs are flash frozen after being made and keep their flavor and consistency until thawed and cooked.

    “We’re bringing the comforts of Nonna’s kitchen to customers’ doorsteps,” says chef Natale Grande. The recipe, handed down through generations, rocks. We must give a shout out to the wonderful sauce. A velvety purée, more a gravy than a conventional chunky sauce, it is so good we would like to buy buckets of it and put it on everything.




    The company also sells premium imported pastas from Rustichella d’Abruzzo:

  • The curly al torchio (the torchio is the press that shapes them)
  • Bucatini, thick spaghetti with a hollow center
  • Casarecce, meaning “homestyle,” two-inch twists
  • Farro (spelt) penne rigate, short tubes with ridges
  • Fusilli, “little spindles,” a variation of corkscrew pasta
  • Spaghetti, the oldest cut (the name means “lengths of cords”)
  • Organic whole wheat spaghetti
  • Organic kamut pasta from pasta maker Gianluigi Peduzzi
    Grating Cheeses

    For a primo pasta experience, there’s a choice of six aged Italian cheeses:



    Bundles of love. Photo courtesy The Flying Meatballs.

  • Vacche Rosse (“Red Cow”), 30 months aged), considered to be the finest Parmigiaino-Reggiano
  • Grana padano
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Percorino crotonese
  • Pecorino romano
  • Ricotta salata
    You can see that it’s not all about Parmigiano-Reggiano. The next time you make pasta, consider one of the others. Check out our article, Italian Grating Cheeses.
    Pasta Sauces

    The same is true with the sauce. Much as a tomato sauce is beloved on pasta, consider other favorites from the Grande family, including:

  • Basil pesto
  • Classic tomato ragu (the signature San Marzano-based tomatoes sauce that envelopes the meatballs
  • Roasted garlic and broccoli rabe purée
  • Mascarpone fondu, a smooth and very creamy cheese sauce made from blend of mascarpone cheese and 18-month-aged Grana Padano cheese
    Along with some fine olive oils and a mac and cheese (a blend of Gruyère, provolone and marscopone with a touch of nutmeg over imported gemelli pasta—we can’t wait to try it), is a treasure trove for delicious Italian comfort food.

    For a treat or a gift (the packaging is quite attractive), order a slew of meatballs. All are delicious, although our personal favorite was the complex layering of Three Meats.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Slow Cooker Short Ribs

    We love short ribs, but they do take a long time to cook and tenderize. If you have a pressure cooker, you can do it in 45 minutes (here’s a recipe). If not, a slow cooker does just as nicely.

    With this recipe from McCormick, prep time is 30 minutes, slow cooker time is 8 hours.

    This short ribs recipe is “Asian fusion.” The inspiration is Sauerbraten (sour beef), the German classic that marinates the beef in a mixture of vinegar or wine (the “sour”), spices and seasonings.

    Here, the Asian twist comes from the use of rice vinegar, soy sauce and bok choy.

    Consider this dish for Super Bowl Sunday or Valentine’s Day. For Valentine’s Day, garnish the dish with some pomegranate arils.


    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 jar (1-1/2 ounces) mixed pickling spices (see recipe below)
  • 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon oil


    It’s easy to make short ribs in a slow cooker. Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 2 cups)
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups beef stock
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 cup crushed gingersnaps, about 20 cookies
  • 1/2 head bok choy, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

    1. PLACE the pickling spice in the center of a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Tie tightly with a long piece of string. Set aside. Coat the short ribs with flour.

    2. HEAT the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 of the short ribs; cook 5 to 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Add the short ribs to slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining short ribs.

    3. PLACE the vegetables and the spice bundle over the short ribs. Mix the beef stock, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger. Pour over the top.

    4. COVER and cook for 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH, or until the short ribs are tender. Stir in the crushed gingersnaps during last 30 minutes of cooking. Stir in the bok choy during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Discard the spice bundle. Serve the short ribs and vegetables over cooked Asian noodles.



    Pickling spices. Buy them or blend your own using the recipe below. Photo courtesy McCormick.



    Ribbon pasta—long cut pasta—originated in Asia. This is the type of pasta “discovered” by Marco Polo and brought back to Venice.

    Because communications were not so great in those days, he didn’t know that Arab traders had brought pasta back with them centuries before, and introduced it to Southern Italy when they invaded in the 8th century. Pasta was a convenience food for travelers: One only needed to boil water to turn the dried pasta in one’s pocket into a nutritious meal.

    An even earlier Italian pasta was an Etrusco-Roman noodle made from durum wheat called lagane, the descendant of the modern word lasagna, which was mentioned way back in the first century C.E. It was not boiled, as it is today, but baked in an oven.

    But back to Asia, the motherland of pasta:

    There are numerous types of Asian noodles based on ingredients alone: arrowroot starch, bean curd skin, bean starch (cellophane noodles), buckhwheat (soba), mung bean threads, rice noodles, sweet potato starch, tofu and yes, wheat noodles (udon).

    Asian noodles are also made in a broad variety of shapes and sizes. The type of noodle used depends on country and purpose.

    Some Chinese noodles contain eggs, e.g. Chinese egg noodles, although the majority of Asian noodles do not.

    Unlike Italian noodles and other Western pasta, Asian noodles are generally not eaten with a sauce on top, but are stir-fried or used in soups and salads.

    Picking spices are a blend of different spices, ground or whole. They are added to vinegar for making cucumber pickles and other pickled foods.

    You can purchase them ready-blended, or make your own from this easy combination:

  • 1 tablespoon each of black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seed and mustard seeds
  • 3 dried red chiles
  • 1-inch piece dried ginger root
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 3 dried bay leaves, broken up

    1. COMBINE the ingredients; measure and use as needed.

    2. KEEP the unused blend in an airtight container, away from light and heat.



    RECIPE: Moroccan Baked Chicken & Olives

    If you love to snack on olives, look for ways to add them to your main courses. We enjoy everything from olive mashed potatoes to olive omelets and olives in pasta.

    This classic Moroccan dish, courtesy of, combines chicken with briny olives and preserved lemons, which contribute their own special pickled taste. The result: rustic flavors layered with citrus accents.

    Manzanilla olives are the Spanish green olives are available in most supermarkets, often pitted and stuffed with pimento or garlic. You can substitute other green olives or even caperberries.

    You can buy preserved lemons at many olive bars, or make your own with this preserved lemons recipe.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Manzanilla or other green olives
  • 2 preserved lemons, rinds removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


    How delicious does this look? Photo courtesy Olives From Spain.



    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

    2. HEAT a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. When hot, add the chicken breasts skin side down. Cook until skin is golden brown and the skin is crispy, about 4-5 minutes.

    3. FLIP chicken breasts over, add the rosemary sprigs to the pan and place the entire pan in the oven. Cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, or until a thermometer placed in the chicken reads 150°F.

    4. REMOVE the chicken from the pan, add the olives, preserved lemons, lemon juice, parsley and about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil to the pan. Whisk to combine; this will be the sauce.

    5. DIVIDE the chicken among four plates, heat the sauce over medium heat and spoon evenly over the chicken breasts. Serve while hot and enjoy with a vegetable side such as roasted onions or carrots, plus a optional starch—rice or other grain, or crispy roasted potatoes.



    FOOD FUN: Mashed Potato Stuffed Burger Recipe

    You’re used to fries or potato chips with your burger. But how about mashed potatoes?

    For some food fun, executive chef Craig (Andy) Beardslee of Hash House A Go Go in San Diego suggests a layer of Parmesan mashed potatoes between two eight-ounce burgers. This one-pound burger with mashed potatoes is not quite Paula Deen (who famously sandwiched a burger, fried egg and bacon between Krispy Kreme donuts), but it’s fun.

    About the name: It’s not really a potato-stuffed burger. It’s more of a potato-layered burger; otherwise, the potatoes would be stuffed inside the burger patties. As in recipe ingredients, in naming, strive for accuracy!

    We like onion with our burger; so when we tried this recipe, we added thinly sliced green onions (scallions) to the mashed potatoes. We also mashed the potatoes with basil oil, and on another occasion with truffle oil. Both are inspired choices, with or without the Parmesan cheese.


    Ingredients For 1 Serving



    Mashed potato stuffed burger: Just in time for Super Bowl supping. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

  • 2 8-ounce ground prime beef patties
  • 6 ounces mashed potatoes with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese, griddled
  • 2 bread and butter plank pickles
  • 2 tomato slices
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 red onion slices
  • 2 applewood-smoked bacon strips
  • 1 ciabatta or sesame bun


    1. PLACE the mashed potatoes on a griddle in a pancake shape. Brown and turn.

    2. LAYER the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles on bottom bun. Top with one beef patty.

    3. LAY on a mound of griddled mashed potatoes and add 2 strips cooked bacon. Top with the second beef patty, then the top half of the bun.



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