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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 Oil/Vinegar/Dressing

TIP OF THE DAY: Spicy Salad Recipe, The Natural Way

When most people search for “spicy salad,” they’re looking for something to which chile heat has been added—like Thai beef salad or spicy cucumber salad.

Building on yesterday’s tip, mustard greens, you can create a spicy salad with no “outside heat” whatsoever.

Just use the spiciest salad ingredients: arugula, mustard greens, radishes and red onions. Even with a plain or a lime vinaigrette* dressing, your salad will be spicy.

You can spice it up even more with:

  • A Colman’s mustard vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Sliced or diced fresh jalapeños (or other chiles—remove the white ribs and seeds unless you like super-hot food)
  • Crushed (dried) jalapeño (you can buy it online if you can’t find it locally)
  •  

    A spicy salad: no chiles required! Photo
    courtesy the Fat Radish restaurant | NYC.

     
    Round out the hot flavors with some fresh parsley and “cool” cucumber slices or matchsticks.

    If you’ve got family members who don’t like salad but love their heat, see if this changes their tune.

    The bright red radishes and emerald green leaves also make for a nice holiday-themed side dish.

    SPICY VINAIGRETTE DRESSING RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Colman’s dry mustard
  • Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Whisk together vinegar and mustard. Add oil.
    2. Whisk until fully combined. Taste and add salt and pepper.
    3. Allow flavors to blend for 15 minutes or longer. Whisk again before serving.
    4. Pour over salad, toss and serve.

    Find more of our favorite salad recipes.

    *Substitute fresh-squeezed lime juice for the vinegar in a 1:3 proportion with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Or, split the acid 50% lime juice, 50% wine vinegar, and zest the lime into the emulsion (best to zest before you squeeze the juice).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Basil-Infused Olive Oil

    Of all the infused and flavored olive oils, basil olive oil is the best seller in the U.S.

    We love all infused olive oils, but can find ways to use versatile basil oil every day.

    Ways To Use Basil Olive Oil

  • Eggs. Cook eggs in basil olive oil. It’s an easy way to liven up eggs with fresh herb flavor.
  • Caprese Salad. Amp up the fresh basil flavor on a Caprese salad (sliced tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala with fresh basil and olive oil) by using basil oil instead of plain olive oil. Try it in this Caprese pasta salad recipe.
  • Pesto Sauce. Make a large batch of pesto sauce. Freeze in ice cube trays for later use. After the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a heavy duty plastic freezer bag or a plastic container.
  • Pasta Sauce. Use it as a simple pasta topping, just as you would plain olive oil. Drizzle over pasta and toss.
  • Baked Potatoes. Instead of butter, drizzle basil olive oil into baked potatoes and add some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Bread Dipper. Make an easy bread dipper to serve with slices of warm, crusty baguette or crudités.
  • Fruit Salad. Drizzle over fruit salad. Add a chiffonade of fresh basil.
  • Vinaigrette. Mix with your favorite vinegar.
  • Pizza. Drizzle on a pizza before serving.
  •  

    Basil olive oil is a versatile condiment.
    Photo courtesy Calivirgin.com.

     

  • Meat & Fish. Add to marinades; rub onto meat and fish before grilling.
  • Hor’s d’Oeuvre & Snacks. Brush onto toasted baguette slices and top with ricotta cheese. Garnish with some color: half a grape tomato or a strip of roasted pepper, for example.
  • Fresh Basil Substitute. If you find yourself without fresh basil for a recipe, add a bit of basil olive oil.
  •  
    What Is Infused Olive Oil?

    Infused olive oil is extra virgin olive oil into which a flavoring has been infused—a fruit (citrus, for example), herb (basil, oregano, rosemary) or spice (garlic). When an oil is infused, the flavoring is crushed and added to the vat of fresh-pressed olive oil, or it is crushed along with the olives. It is the superior technique for producing flavored oil.

    You can also find “flavored” olive oil, a less expensive preparation. Instead of using fresh fruit, herbs and spices, an alcohol-based flavor extract or essence is stirred into the pressed olive oil. It can taste good or it can taste artificial, depending on the producer.
     
    Some delicious products, like Sonoma Farm Infused Olive Oil, use essence because it enables them to bottle smaller batches and send a fresher product when retailers order. Calivirgin, on the other hand, crushes fresh basil leaves together with the olives.
     
    Check out Calivirgin’s recipes using basil olive oil.

    Infuse your own basil olive oil with this easy recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 26 Uses For Distilled White Vinegar

    In the U.S., distilled white vinegar is typically
    made from corn. Photo courtesy H. J. Heinz.

     

    Man has made vinegar for more than 2,500 years. After wine was discovered—by accident, from fermenting fruit—the oxidizing of wine led to the accidental discovery of vinegar.

    Vinegar is more than a condiment or a recipe ingredient: It’s a health and wellness aid and a versatile household cleanser as well.

    There are hundreds of uses for vinegar. Today we’re focusing on just two: vinegar as a cooking helper and as a kitchen cleaner.

    Great-grandma and her ancestors relied on distilled white vinegar, for making perfect meringues and cleaning the ice box.

    Here are 26 kitchen uses for distilled white vinegar—which is what you should call it to differentiate it from white wine vinegar and white balsamic vinegar.

    Read the full article about distilled white vinegar.

  • The History Of Vinegar
  • How To Make Vinegar
  • Types Of Vinegar
  • Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Yuzu Juice

    Yuzu juice is squeezed from the fresh yuzu citrus, in season in the U.S. from September to December. (It is grown in California. Fresh yuzu can’t be imported per USDA restrictions.)

    The small, round citrus fruit has become very popular with fine chefs, thanks to the availability of imported yuzu juice used by Japanese restaurants. (You can find it at Asian markets, online, and sometimes at specialty retailers.)

    We’re certain that yuzu would become mainstream if only lovers of fine food knew about it—and picked up a bottle of its aromatic and flavorful juice.

    Once tasted, yuzu—a refreshing combination of grapefruit and tangerine flavors and aromas—cannot be forgotten. We alternate yuzu vinaigrette with balsamic vinaigrette in our dinner salads, and substitute it anywhere we’d use lemon or lime juice.

    Read the full review, which includes more things to do with yuzu juice.

    Find more of our favorite fruits and salad dressings, including recipes.

     

    Yuzu: a refreshing tart citrus juice and zest
    that add wonderful flavor to many dishes.
    Photo © Tuzumi | Fotlia.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Warm Salad Dressing

    Here’s an easy idea to perk up salads: warm the vinaigrette salad dressing.

    Warm salad dressing works any time of year. Just microwave the dressing for 5 to 10 seconds or so (test to see what works best with your microwave—you want warm, not hot). Then add the warm dressing to the salad and toss right before serving.

    The classic warm dressing salad is a spinach salad with onions, mushrooms, bacon, hard-boiled egg slices and a warm bacon vinaigrette made from the bacon fat (recipe below). You can also add crumbled or cubed feta and/or croutons.

    But the concept works with any salad. Last night we had a salad of baby greens, sliced sweet onion, goat cheese and croutons, tossed with a warm balsamic vinaigrette.

    Try it!

     

    Try warming your salad dressing before
    tossing the salad. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.com

     

    WARM VINAIGRETTE RECIPE
    For A Bacon Vinaigrette
    1. Cook 8 pieces of thick-sliced bacon (to crumble in the salad).
    2. Pour bacon fat into a small saucepan. Whisk in tablespoons 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard.
    3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Microwave for 5 to 10 seconds immediately prior to tossing and serving the salad.

    For A Standard Warm Vinaigrette
    1. Substitute salad oil for bacon fat.
    2. Use your vinegar of choice—wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.
    3. Follow the remaining steps above.

  • Find more of our favorite salad recipes.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Expeller Pressed Oil

    Many people use olive oil and canola oil as healthy fats. But is your healthy oil expeller pressed (good) or chemically extracted (not as good)?

    Expeller pressed oils (also known as cold pressed oils) are those that have been extracted from fruits (avocados, olives, etc.), nuts, seeds and grains by expeller pressing.

    A completely natural process, the source material has been squeezed in an expeller machine—an old-fashioned mechanical press. Some types of oils may then be refined using a steam filtration process.

    The best oils are produced this way, and only oils produced this way are 100% natural.

    Expeller pressed oils are typically more expensive because the pressed olives, nuts, etc. yield only about two-thirds as much oil as they would with chemical extraction.

    Producers choose a lower yield and a pure product, rather than soaking the fruits/seeds/grains in chemicals, which can leave residues in the oil.

     

    Is your olive oil expeller pressed and free of
    chemicals, or has it been extracted with a
    petrochemical? Photo by Liv Friis -Larsen | IST.

     

    Even an oil labeled “virgin” does not guarantee the absence of chemicals. The word “virgin” refers to the lower acidity level of an olive oil. You need to see the words “expeller pressed” or “cold pressed.” (More about virgin olive oil.)

    Expeller pressed oil are 100% natural, free of chemical solvents, additives and preservatives. Because they are less volatile, they evaporate less when heated; so you can use less when cooking. This can offset the higher price.

    Another benefit: oils with a high level of saturated fat, such as coconut oil, contain fewer triglycerides than common vegetable oil (and thus have less saturated fat) when they are expeller pressed. Canola oil becomes lower in saturated fat than chemically extracted olive oil, and higher in Vitamin E, Omega 3 and Omega 6.

    What is chemically-extracted oil?

    If you don’t purchase oils that are labeled expeller pressed or cold press, your oil has been processed with hexane, a petroleum derivative (also known as a petro-organic compound). It is then further processed with phosphoric acid and other additives.

    Now that you know, the choice is yours!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Healthy Fats For Cooking & Eating

    One of the biggest misconceptions in making food choices is that all dietary fat is bad for you. There are two types of fat. Saturated fat is bad for you; but unsaturated fat is good for you. Knowing your fats—what are healthy fats—makes food choice easy.

    UNSATURATED FATS: GOOD

    Essential Fat
    Essential fats such as Omega 3 are found in nuts and seeds. The body does not produce these fats but they are essential to health. They can be found in good quantity in dark-fleshed fish, nuts (walnuts have the most alpha linolenic acid, an important Omega3 )and seeds (flaxseed, hempseed).

    Monounsaturated Fat
    The healthiest type of fat, monounsaturated fat is actually beneficial fat. It promotes heart health and might help prevent cancer and a slew of other ailments. It’s best known for lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol levels without negatively affecting the “good,” artery-clearing HDL cholesterol. Avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil are rich in monounsaturated fat. Whatever fats you’re using now (other oils, butter, lard): switch over as much as you can to monounsaturated fat.

    Polyunsaturated Fat

    A moderately healthy fat, polyunsaturated fat lowers LDL cholesterol but also reduces levels of HDL cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fat is the predominant type of fat in corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil, among other vegetable oils. If you use these oils, trade up to a monounsaturated fat.

     

    Switch to monounsaturated fats: avocado oil,
    canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil. Photo by
    Zimmy Tews | BSP.

     

    SATURATED FATS: BAD

    Saturated Fat
    This is unhealthy fat and should be consumed in moderation. The body converts it into artery-clogging cholesterol, which greases the path to heart disease. Saturated fat is mostly found in animal products and is solid at room temperature. It is the white fat you see along the edge or marbled throughout a piece of meat and is the fat in the skin of poultry. So when you look at that beautiful marbled steak, recall that beauty is more than just skin deep—in this case, it can go deep enough to kill you. Saturated fat is also in “healthy” animal products like milk (except for 0% fat milk) and foods made from milk (cheese, ice cream), as well as in tropical oils such as coconut oil. One should limit one’s intake of saturated fat from animal sources. Unfortunately, the American diet is full of it. The saturated fat from plant sources, such as coconut, are more benign.

    Trans Fat
    Is there anyone who hasn’t heard that trans fat is the worst type of fat? A problem created by Big Manufacturing (and now being corrected by food manufacturers, in response to consumer demand and local government mandate), most trans fat is produced by forcing hydrogen into liquid polyunsaturated fat (the process is called hydrogenation). Margarine was traditionally made this way. The process gives the fats a longer shelf life and helps stabilize their flavors. When hydrogenated, the benign polyunsaturated fat is turned into trans fat, which is recognized by the body as a saturated fat. The body then converts the trans fat to cholesterol, which raises LDL levels and lowers HDL levels. What’s worse, researchers have discovered that unlike regular saturated fat, trans fat disrupts cell membranes, upsetting the flow of nutrients and waste products into and out of the cell, and may be linked to reduced immune function and possibly cancer. Trans fats do occur naturally in small amount in meat and dairy, but the primary source to worry about is in highly processed/artificial foods.

  • Anything called “partially hydrogenated” is a trans fat.
  • The USDA enables manufacturers who use trans fats to label their products “0 trans fat” or “contains no trans fat” if the amount is up to .5% trans fat per serving. Focusing on the nutrition label does not give you the whole story. You need to read the label closely to ensure there are no partially hydrogenated fats.
  •  
    YOUR CHOICE

    Your health goal should be to make dietary fat choices from the monounsaturated fat group (avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and/or peanut oil).

    Just be aware that fat calories add up quicker. Fat is very energy dense when compared to carbohydrate and protein. It contains more than twice the calories per gram (fat has 9 calories/gram, carbs and protein 4 calories/gram). Thus, if you consume the same amount (in weight) of fat as protein or carbs, your calorie intake will be more than doubled.

    Here are guidelines from the Harvard School Of Public Health:

  • Your daily fat intake should be no more than 30% of your total calorie intake. Multiply the number of calories you consume by .3 to find the number of fat calories you consume.
  • For a 2,000 calorie/day diet, 2,000 x .3 = 600 calories from fat. At about 100 calories/tablespoon, this equals 6 tablespoons of fat. As a perspective, a stick of butter contains 8 tablespoons.
  • To calculate by grams, 600 divided by 9 = 66 grams of fat. Since fat contains 9 calories per gram, on a 2,000-calorie diet you should take in no more than 66 grams of fat per day.
  •  
    Of the 30% of your daily calories that come from fat, no more than 10% should come from saturated fats. Thus, on the 2,000-calorie diet, consume no more than :

  • 10% Saturated Fat: 200 calories/22g (bad news: one Big Mac has about 45g saturated fat)
  • 20% Unsaturated Fat: 400 calories/44g
  •  
    It’s pretty easy math; and it puts you on the road to enjoying healthy, good-for-you fats.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mustard In Your Vinaigrette

    Dijon mustard atop mustard seeds. Photo by Saidi Granados | THE NIBBLE.

     

    You may have seen mustard listed as an ingredient in vinagrette.

    It adds delicious flavor, but it also serves as an emulsifier, so the dressing doesn’t break back into separate oil and vinegar layers.

    You can use prepared Dijon mustard, or–if you like some heat–Coleman’s mustard.

    Prepare your vinaigrette in the usual ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. In addition to the mustard, you can include fresh garlic.

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (wine or balsamic)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed with the blade of a knife
  • A pinch of your favorite dried herbs: marjoram, parsley, thyme, etc.
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
  •  

    Preparation
    1. Whisk together the vinegar, garlic and mustard.
    2. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, continuing to whisk.
    3. Add seasonings and adjust as necessary.

    Check out the different types of mustard in our Mustard Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Creamy Dressing

    Make creamy salad dressing by adding a
    bit of cream to basic vinaigrette. Photo
    courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    We’re always surprised that so many folks who cook their meals buy bottled dressing for the salad. Bottled dressing is expensive, and it’s so easy to make your own.

    When we ask people why they just don’t whisk together 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 4 tablespoons olive oil, one often-heard response is that the family prefers creamy dressing.

    Done! Just whisk together 1/2 part cream. It that’s not creamy enough, add more cream.

    And don’t forget to season your vinaigrette with a pinch of salt and pepper, for starters. For more flavors, add:

  • A pinch of dry mustard
  • A half teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or other favorite mustard)
  • Minced garlic
  • A pinch of anchovy paste, hot chile paste, olive paste, pesto or tomato paste (we use Amore brand)
  • Your favorite herbs (we like minced dill, parsley and/or oregano but experiment with anything at hand, including horseradish)
  • Your favorite spices
  •  
    Add anything else that sounds good to you. We’ve been enjoying Kalamata olive vinaigrette, adding a teaspoon of puréed Kalamata olives.

    Share your tips for a creamy dressing.

    Comments

    GOURMET GIVEAWAY #2: Wish-Bone Ranch Salad Dressing

    Wish-Bone Salad Dressing has just revamped its popular Ranch dressing and is giving it to three lucky winners. The prizes also include a travel salad container with an ice pack, to keep salad-on-the-go fresh and crisp.

    Loaded with the flavor of herbs, garlic and a hint of tangy buttermilk, Wish-Bone’s smooth and creamy Ranch dressing is great on salads, vegetables in dips and more. It’s also available in a fat-free version, is an excellent source of Omega-3s and is gluten free.

    Retail Value Of Prize: Approximately $14.00.

  • To learn more about the new and improved dressing, visit Wish-Bone.com.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Oils, Vinegars & Salad Dressings Page and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, January 10th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  •  

    Spread this dressing on your favorite bed of
    greens. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

    Comments

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