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Archive for Organic

PRODUCT: Pukka Organic Herbal Teas For Health & Gifting

There’s lots of herbal tea on the market, but some companies, like Pukka, an organic herbal tea specialist, focus on it.

The company employs a team of skilled herbalists that pays meticulous attention to the quality of ingredients, ensuring that only the most potent, vibrant herbs are used in their blends.

In fact, the company is first and foremost a purveyor of top-quality organic herbs.

While Pukka teas are made according to the healing and wellness philosophies of Ayurvedic medicine, that doesn’t have to be your primary motivation. They also taste great, and are soothing, caffeine-free brews.

In addition to drinking an infusion of herbs known to aid in digestion, immunity, weight management and so forth, you can drink flowers as well—and perhaps give a box of floral tea as a Mother’s Day party favor—or in an Easter basket for dieters, sugar-avoiders and the health-focused.

  • Elderflower, from the elder tree, has long been used as a sweet tonic.
  • Hibiscus helps rejuvenate and balance.
  • Limeflower is renowned for its relaxing qualities.
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    pukka-herbal-teas-elvirakalviste-230

    An assortment of Pukka teas, ready for the Easter basket or Mother’s Day gifts. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Oat flower is known to calm, nourish and sooth the body and help settle the mind.
  • Rose is known to soothe and has a calming effect on the mind.
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    And these are just a few of Pukka’s 35 varieties. Pukka offers a both unusual and popular herbal blends, including Lemongrass and Ginger, Peppermint and Licorice, Golden Chamomile, Night Time and Lemon Green Tea—all very pleasing to the taste buds. Iced tea can be made from these blends as well.

    See all the varieties at PukkaHerbs.com.

    Each flavor comes in a box with its own charming design, looking like fine wrapping paper.

    A box of 20 sachets retails for $6.95 at Vitamin Shoppe locations nationwide and iherb.com.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: International Waffle Day

    International Waffle Day, which originated in Sweden, is celebrated in the U.S. on March 25th. There is a separate National Waffle Day, celebrated on August 24th, that was originally created to honor the waffle iron.

    The net of it is, you can celebrate a waffle holiday twice a year! Prepared sweet or savory, they can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    In different parts of the world, waffles are topped with confectioners’ sugar, honey, jam, even peanut butter. But in the U.S., what are waffles without maple syrup?

    And what’s with the different types of maple syrup?

    GRADES (VARIETIES) OF MAPLE SYRUP

    Because maple syrup is tapped in the winter, it has traditionally been seen as a winter flavor. But just like honey and sugar, it can be enjoyed year-round in recipes from cocktails to salad dressings and marinades to desserts.

    If you’re confused by the four grades of maple syrup (A Light Amber, A Medium Amber, A Dark Amber and B) here’s an explanation of the different types.

     

    chicken-waffles-2-sweetchickbklyn-230

    Chicken and waffles. Photo courtesy Daniel Krieger | Sweet Chick | Brooklyn.

     
    In brief, at the beginning of the season, the syrup runs light in both color and flavor, and is called Grade A Light Amber. By mid-season it’s Grade A Medium Amber, followed by Grade A Dark Amber and Grade B. At the end of the season, it’s the strongest in flavor and color, commercial grade syrup.

    CROWN PREMIUM MAPLE SYRUP

    We recently received a bottle of Crown Maple syrup, certified organic. It is produced by Madava Farms, a family business in the historic Hudson River Valley of New York (Dutchess County).

    There, 800 acres of century-old, sustainably managed groves of sugar and red maples enjoy perfect soil and ideal seasonal weather conditions to produce a superior sap for maple sugaring.

    But production is a key determinant of quality. Far from the old primitive sugar house, Crown premium maple syrup is made at the most advanced maple syrup production facility in the country. The pristine sap collected from the maples is cooked using the latest in green, organic production techniques to produce syrups of exceptional quality.

     
    CROWN SYRUP VARIETIES

    As you can see from these tasting notes, different grades pair better with specific recipes.

    Light Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: Flavors of popcorn, vanilla bean, roasted nuts, salted caramel and brown butter. Although light in color, the body has a pleasing weight and depth, with a sweetness and finish that lingers.
  • Uses: Pair with salty flavors, for example glazing pork belly or bacon. Try it in cocktails with whiskey as a base: Replace the muddled sugar cubes in an Old Fashioned. Use it as a substitute for palm sugar in Thai recipes.
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    Medium Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: Aromas of gingerbread and roasted chestnut with flavors of rye, butterscotch and spice.
  • Uses: Pair with baked breads, chocolate and ginger cookies and heavier spirits—barrel-aged bourbons or peaty, smoky Scotch. Use as a topping for chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
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    light-amber-crown-230

    The handsome bottles are nicely boxed for
    gift giving. Photo courtesy Madava Farms.

     

    Dark Amber Syrup

  • Tasting Notes: The flavor and aroma are similar to Medium Amber, but the syrup has more weight, depth and concentration. Aromas of coffee and cocoa beans are present, along with flavors of brown sugar and toasted almond.
  • Uses: Use instead of other sweeteners in coffee, and as an alternative to honey as a condiment for cheeses.
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    Crown Maple Extra Dark for Cooking

  • Tasting Notes: A robust maple syrup with a great depth of flavor, richness and a bright finish.
  • Uses: For cooking and baking. The richness shines through even the boldest of food pairings.
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    Where To Purchase

    A 12-ounce bottle, gift boxed, is $16.95; a samplers of all three is $59.95; and a “petite trio” of three small bottles (1.7 ounces each) is $15.95. An 12-ounce bottle of Extra Dark Syrup for Cooking is $27.95.

    A 10-ounce bag of maple sugar (see below) is 10.95.

    Buy them online at CrownMaple.com.

     
    MORE ABOUT WAFFLES

    The Ur-Waffle. Before there were modern waffles, there were the rustic hotcakes of the Neolithic Age (ca. 6000 B.C.E. to ca. 2000 B.C.E.). Made of cereal pulps, they were cooked on heated stones. Honey is as old as written history, dating back to 2100 B.C.E., where it was mentioned in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform writings, the Hittite code and the sacred writings of India and Egypt. We don’t know when man first decided to unite honey and hotcakes, but here’s the honey history.

    The Waffle Iron. The waffle iron—enabling pancake-type foods to be turned into textured waffles—was created in the 1200s, when a [presumably] pancake-loving craftsman combined cooking plates that reproduced a pattern of honeycombs.

    The Electric Waffle Iron. The electric waffle iron was introduced in 1911 by General Electric.

    Types Of Waffles. There are at least 11 varieties of waffles: American, Belgian/Brussels, Liège, Hong Kong Waffle, Krumcake, Malt, Pizzelle, Potato, Soft, Stroopwafel and, yes, Toaster. Take a look at the types of waffles.

    Here’s the complete history of waffles.

    The Center Of Syrup. Canada produces more than 80% of the world’s maple syrup, the vast majority in Quebec. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, followed by New York and Maine. But no matter how much is produced in the U.S., we need to import the majority of our syrup from Canada. (We have the trees to produce more syrup, but not the people who want to tap them.)

     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE WAFFLES WITH A TWIST

    Here’s a recipe from Crown that uses maple sugar instead of table sugar for even more maple flavor.

    Ingredients For 6 Large Waffles

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons maple sugar (see note below
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups warm milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT waffle iron to desired temperature.

    2. COMBINE all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl and set aside.

    3. BEAT eggs in a separate bowl; stir in milk, butter and vanilla. Pour milk mixture into the flour mixture; beat until blended.

    4. LADLE batter into heated waffle iron and cook until golden brown; serve immediately with maple syrup.

     

    WHAT IS MAPLE SUGAR

    Maple sugar is made from the sap from the maple tree, as opposed to the juice of sugar cane, from which table sugar is made. It has the same strong maple flavor and aroma as maple syrup.

    The sap is boiled until almost all of the water has been evaporated; the remaining product has crystallized. The sugar can be sold in large blocks, molded into small shapes or simply ground into a granulated version that can be used like regular sugar.

    Maple sugar can be used in the same way as cane sugar: in coffee, tea, baked goods and cocktails. It adds more complexity and richness than cane sugar.

    However, is almost twice as sweet as regular sugar, so when replacing cane sugar, you need to reduce the amount. Try using one-third less, and adjust to taste.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Pacific Foods Organic Beans

    Proust had his madeleines; we had our mother’s baked beans: made in an old-fashioned glazed ceramic crock, topped with strips of bacon. They were so good, we have never been able to eat canned baked beans—overly sweetened and one-dimensionally bland.

    But thanks to Pacific Natural Foods’ new line of USDA Certified Organic beans in a carton, we now enjoy baked and refried beans at home as often as we like.

    With January 1st the day to make resolutions to eat better, they’re a logical Top Pick Of The Week to usher in the new year. Rich in plant-based protein (Pacific beans have up to seven grams of protein per serving) and fiber, beans are a better-for-you food.

    The line debuted last spring at Whole Foods Markets nationwide and expanded to select natural food stores and grocery chains. You can taste the quality and slow-cooked flavor and texture of the baked beans—the closest we’ll get to Mom’s (especially when we add crispy strips of bacon across the top).

     

    Baked beans with a garnish of bacon. Photo © Viktor | Fotolia.

     
    The refried beans are better than what we get most Mexican restaurants. Varieties include:

  • Organic Refried Pinto Beans (vegetarian or non-vegetarian [with added pork fat])
  • Organic Refried Black Beans (vegetarian)
  • Organic Refried Black Beans with Green Chiles (vegetarian)
  • Organic Baked Beans (vegetarian or with pork—but the pork amounts to a few tough bits)
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    A bonus for those who are concerned about the BPA plastic lining of tin cans: the Pacific Natural Foods cartons have no such potential problem. They’re priced at $2.69 to $2.99 for a 13.6-ounce container.

     

    One of six varieties of baked and refried
    beans. Photo courtesy Pacific Natural Foods.

     

    HOW TO SERVE BAKED BEANS

    Franks and beans are a natural part of the American diet. But even better than that is your own version of “pork and beans.” Instead of the meager bits of pork fat tossed into cans of beans, make your own with leftover roast ham.

    Especially brought to live with a garnish of fresh herbs. We prefer basil, chives, cilantro or parsley.

    BAKED BEANS FOR BREAKFAST

  • With eggs any style: try them on a toasted English muffin, topped with a poached egg
  • On toast: on toasted or grilled baguette or rustic bread, with fresh herbs and optional shredded Gruyère (for breakfast or a light lunch)
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    BAKED BEANS FOR DINNER

  • With sausages or roasted meats: chicken, duck, ham, pork
  • With hearty grilled fish: we like cod atop a bed of beans
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  • With potatoes: In a baked potato or a nest of mashed potatoes (top with shredded cheese and fresh herbs
  • As a side: with a crisp bacon garnish, a garnish of sour cream and a square of corn bread or gratinée
  • Wildcard: on pizza, mixed with elbow macaroni or other short cut (a great way to expand a limited amount of leftovers), to thicken creamy soups
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    WAYS TO SERVE REFRIED BEANS

  • Dips: bean dip and layered dip
  • Eggs: scrambled or an omelet with onions, chorizo, and a side of beans
  • Mexican dishes: burritos, fajitas, layered casseroles, tacos, quesadillas
  • Mexican lasagna: layer corn tortillas in a baking dish with beans, shredded cheese, ground beef or other meat, jalapeños and red chile sauce (“enchilada sauce”)
  • Sandwiches: including burgers and wraps
  • Mexican pizza: pizza crust or tortillas spread with red chile sauce, then topped with refried beans, sausage, black olives, chopped red onions, jalapeños and cheese; optional “taco garnish” of chopped tomatoes and lettuce
  • Sides: rice and beans (you don’t need Mexican main dishes in order to enjoy the sides); potatoes and beans; potatoes fried with onions, topped with chiles and Mexican cheese; by themselves topped with sour cream or Greek yogurt and cilantro
  • Stuffed peppers: stuff with rice or other grain and beans, top with cheese
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    How would you use them? Let us know!

      

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    RECIPE: Cranberry Infused Vodka

    Your own holiday bottling of cranberry
    infused vodka. Photo courtesy Prairie
    Organic
    Spirits.

     

    Make cranberry vodka to bring as a house gift or place on your own bar. It will be ready in three to four days.

    It’s easy to craft your own cranberry vodka infusion. Instead of vodka, you can use silver tequila, genever, Plymouth gin or a London gin with a low level of aromatics.

    This recipe is courtesy Prairie Organic Spirits, which makes both organic gin and vodka (including cucumber-infused vodka) in Minnesota.

    The vodka is handcrafted with single vintage organic corn. The line is certified organic by the USDA, which ensures that no genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used. The price: just $19.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

     

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY CLOVE INFUSED VODKA

    Ingredients

  • Whole fresh cranberries
  • Whole cloves
  • Vodka
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    Preparation

    1. POUR 1/3 of the vodka into a pitcher or a measuring cup with a spout and set aside.

    2. FILL the empty bottle space with cranberries and cloves.

    3. TOP OFF the bottle with the reserved vodka and tightly securing the cap.

    4. STORE in the fridge or in dark, cool space for three to four days. Then, it’s ready to serve.
     
    MORE INFUSED VODKA RECIPES

    How about:

  • Espresso-Cinnamon for Valentine’s Day
  • Jalapeño-Horseradish-Garlic for Cinco de Mayo
  • Honeycrisp Apple for Mother’s Day
  • Lemon Lime for Spring
  • Orange-Tangerine for Winter
  • Strawberry Basil for Summer
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    It’s easy to infuse vodka: Just add simple ingredient to the bottle. Photo courtesy Prairie Organic Spirits.

     

    Download the pdfs at PrairieVodka.com.

      

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    STOCKING STUFFERS: Conventional & Sugar Free Sweet Treat Favorites

    Sugar free bridge mix, licorice and Gummi
    Bears (inside package) from Nuts.com. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Nuts.com is a third-generation purveyor of nuts, dried fruits, chocolates and other sweets. They offer some 3,000 items sold by the pound, but will also package the wares into snack packs, 3.2 ounce bags sold in packs of 12. The 12-packs range from approximately $18 to $24, creating an inexpensive stocking stuffer that has a higher-value appearance.

    We love the snack packs as stocking stuffers or party favors, the cheery green bags hinting at the goodies inside. There are hundreds of sweet options, that you can search by category (or however you like):

  • Chocolate: bark, gourmet PB cups, chocolate-dipped fruit
  • Classic treats: just about everything you can name, from malt balls to chocolate-covered ginger, grahams and marzipan
  • Gluten-free, organic and raw options
  • Nutritious treats: dried fruits and edamame, energy squares, nuts, trail mix and fun items like freeze-dried chickpeas, broccoli and spinach
  • Nuts: chocolate covered and bridge mix, yogurt covered, candied, sugar roasted
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  • Sugar-Free: chocolate covered nuts, espresso beans, bridge mix, and pretzels; hard and soft candies (jellies, gummies); mini peanut butter cups; licorice; yogurt raisins and more—an impressive sugar-free selection
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    There are also Gummy Sugar Plums for gifting or as a garnish for cakes, cupcakes or other desserts.

    Check out all the options (well, maybe not all 3,000) at Nuts.com.

      

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