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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 The Nibble

PRODUCT: Motto Sparkling Matcha Green Tea Drink

First there was the buzz about green tea and its antioxidants. Now, the buzz is about matcha, a powdered green tea that has long been used by Buddhist monks and Samurai warriors to prepare for meditation and to improve mental clarity and concentration. It’s also the tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony, chanoyu.

Motto, the world’s first bottled matcha green tea beverage, delivers the health benefits of the centuries-old elixir even better than a cup of green tea. In fact, just one bottle of Motto packs the health benefits of 12 cups of steeped green tea, with one-third the caffeine of a single cup of coffee.

The beverage is brewed from premium stone-ground matcha, sourced from one of the oldest family-owned tea cooperatives in Japan. The matcha flavor is layered with organic apple cider vinegar, honey, organic agave and fresh lemon juice.

The result is lightly sweet and very refreshing, and pairs well with everything from sushi and Pacific Rim cuisines (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc.) to sandwiches and pizza.

Motto is currently sold in 28 states and growing—everywhere from Whole Foods Market to gourmet delis and small natural grocers.

Find a store locator at DrinkMotto.com.

 

motto-cocktail-recipe-230

Handsome bottle, tasty contents. Photo courtesy The Verto Company.

 

 

motto-bottle-glass-230

Make a Motto cocktail. The recipe is below.
Photo courtesy The Verto Company.

 

WHAT IS MATCHA TEA?

Matcha is a bright green, powdered green tea that is ground to the consistency of talc. It is made from ten-cha tea leaves, which are gyokuro leaves that have been not been rolled into needles but are steamed and dried. The tea bushes are shaded from sunlight for three weeks before harvesting, producing amino acids that sweeten the taste of the tea.

Unlike whole leaf tea, which is heat-panned for steeping, the leaves for matcha are ground like flour, slowly and finely in a stone mill. To brew the tea, the powder is whisked into water, where it produces a wonderful aroma, a creamy, silky froth and a rich, mellow taste.

Powdered tea is the original way in which tea was prepared: steeping dried leaves in boiling water didn’t arrive until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Matcha contains a higher amount of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, L-theanine amino acids, polyphenols, chlorophyll and fiber) than other teas. In recent years, matcha has become a popular cooking and baking ingredient, and now comes in different grades for different uses—including the popular green tea latte.

In the absence of green tea ice cream, sprinkle some matcha on vanilla ice cream (check out these uses for matcha tea).

 

RECIPE: GREEN TEA COCKTAIL

Here’s a refreshing yet sophisticated cocktail idea from Motto:

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3-4 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce agave
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • 6 ounces Motto
  • Small bunches mint and basil
  • Ice
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE equal parts mint and basil in a cocktail shaker. Add gin, agave and lemon. Shake over ice.

    2. STRAIN into a tall glass over cracked ice. Add 6 ounces Motto and stir gently.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

    Here’s a twist on an American favorite: Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad. It replaces the romaine—crunchy, but not particularly nutritious—with Brussels sprouts, a superfood.

    Brussels sprouts, a member of the powerful wcruciferous vegetable* family, are usually available year-round. However, they are a cold weather vegetable, and the peak season is from September to mid-February.

    Buying tip: The smaller the sprout, the sweeter the taste. Although the larger sprouts may look appealing, aim for those that are 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Pick sprouts of the same size so they’ll cook evenly.

    Never overcook Brussels sprouts, and don’t store them for future use. Even though they’ll look normal, as the harvested sprouts age, the sulfuric compounds that are so unpleasant in overcooked sprouts become more prominent in the raw ones.

    This recipe, from Litehouse Foods, uses their OPA Caesar Dressing, made with Greek yogurt.

    Prep time is 15 minutes.

       

    purple-brussels-familyspice-friedasFB-230

    Yes, you can find purple Brussels sprouts! These are from Frieda’s Produce.

     

     

    Brussels-Sprouts-Caesar-Salad-litehouse-opa-230

    Brussels sprouts replace the romaine in this
    Caesar salad. Photo courtesy Litehouse
    Foods.

     

    RECIPE: BRUSSELS SPROUTS CAESAR SALAD

    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 1 package sliced Brussels sprouts (or 16 ounces whole Brussels sprouts, sliced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup OPA by Litehouse Caesar or other Caesar dressing (classic Caesar dressing recipe)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BLANCH the sliced Brussels sprouts in boiling water for approximately 1 minute, then immerse in bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.

     
    2. PLACE the Brussels sprouts in mixing bowl; top with lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.

    3. TOSS all ingredients in the dressing, or serve the dressing on the side. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve immediately.

     
    *The cruciferous group includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, cress, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna (a variety of mustard green), mustard greens, radish, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi, turnip and wasabi, a type of horseradish. Mizuna and tatsoi have become “designer greens” in salads at America’s finest restaurants. All contain phytochemicals (antioxidants), vitamins, minerals and fiber that are important to your health; although some of the group are more poerful than others. Government health agencies recommend that we eat several servings of them per week.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: “Brinner,” Pancakes For Dinner

    September is National Breakfast Month, and Krusteaz, makers of quality pancake, waffle and baking mixes, reminds us that breakfast food is not just for breakfast.

    It’s also for dinner. According to a recent Krusteaz survey, having breakfast food for dinner, or “brinner,” is a growing trend. A whopping 91% of Americans say they have eaten breakfast foods for dinner—and we count ourselves among them.

    Krusteaz suggests pancakes as part of your brinner.

  • Think of pancakes as a substitute for potatoes, potato pancakes or Yorkshire Pudding. Serve them with grilled meat or poultry and a savory sauce instead of maple syrup. We served them last night with leftover pot roast: a hit!
  • Consider a gluten-free mix. There are quite a few good ones on the market, including from Krusteaz.
  •  
    You don’t have to make them sweet, covered with maple syrup. Here’s a savory recipe from Krusteaz.

    RECIPE: APPLE HAM PANCAKE STRATA

    You can use a gluten-free mix; you can substitute chicken for ham; you can add your own special touches. We added some dried cherries and cranberries, and next time will toss in a cup of grated Gruyère.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, total time is 1 hour 10 minutes.

    Ingredients For 8-9 Servings

  • 6 pancakes, prepared as directed and cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 cup diced apples
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons melted butter
  •    

    apple_ham_pancake-strata-krusteaz-230r-s

    The “secret ingredient” in this strata: pancakes! Photo courtesy Krusteaz.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8x8x2-inch baking pan.

    2. PLACE the pancake pieces, apples and ham in the pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half and maple syrup; pour over the apple, ham and pancake mixture.

    3. BAKE 40-45 minutes or longer if a firmer strata is preferred. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving. Brush with melted butter, if desired, and serve.

     

    peanut-butter-jam-pancakes-krusteaz-230

    We love PB&J just as much on pancakes as
    on bread. Photo courtesy Krusteaz.

     

    RECIPE: PEANUT BUTTER & JELLY PANCAKES

    If you like PB&J sandwiches, this is a recipe for you! Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 15 minutes. The PB adds protein to the dish. Enjoy it with a tall glass of milk.

    Ingredients For 7-8 Pancakes

  • Buttermilk pancake mix
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly or jam of choice
  • Optional garnish: chopped peanuts; dried cherries, cranberries or raisins; powdered sugar; sliced fruit
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE buttermilk pancakes as directed on package, adding 3 tablespoons peanut butter for each cup of mix used.

    2. POUR pancake batter on griddle; add 1 tablespoon of jam per pancake and swirl with a spoon. Cook as directed. Immediately upon removing pancakes from griddle, swirl additional jam on top.

    3. GARNISH as desired and serve.

     

    PANCAKE MAKING TIPS

    Krusteaz wants you to make perfect pancakes. Their tips:

    1. Use cold tap water.
    Water at 55°F-60°F makes fluffier pancakes and more tender waffles.

    2. Use an ice cream scoop.
    Get the perfect size pancake every time by using an ice cream scoop to measure the batter.

    3. Keep the leftovers.
    Don’t toss leftover pancakes; store them in the fridge for 2-3 days, or freeze them for up to 3 months. Store them in an airtight container. Microwave them or reheat them in a hot pan on the stove top.
     
    There are more tips, recipes and a store locator on the Krusteaz website.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Trending Sauces To Know (And Use!)

    Yesterday we recommended serving proteins “three ways.” One of the ways to differentiate them is with sauces, and we recommended a look at the famed mother sauces of France.

    Then, we got an email from Food & The Menu, a magazine for chefs. The new issue features “10 Sauces Of The Moment”—options that span the world.

    “Say ‘so long’ to complicated reductions and rich, butter-mounted glazes,” says Joan Lang, the article’s author. “Some of today’s most trending sauces are more like condiments, following the popularity of sriracha, harissa, wasabi and aïoli.”

    So if you want to get ahead of your favorite chefs, consider these sauces, many of which are sold ready-made. Some will be familiar to you, others less so. Read the full article, which includes recipe ideas:

    1. Adobo Sauce

    Long a Mexican staple, this vinegar-based sauce is made with chiles and/or paprika, garlic, cumin, oregano, pepper, sugar and sometimes tomato or ketchup. It is perhaps the easiest of the group to find in your local supermarket (it’s also available online). There’s a Filipino version of adobo, a simmer sauce of vinegar, garlic and soy sauce. Try them both!

    2. Colorado Sauce

    Rich, smoky and spicy, Colorado sauce (also called red chile sauce or chile colorado) is another find from Mexico. To achieve its namesake red color, it incorporates multiple types of roasted or dried chiles (such as ancho and New Mexico) with onions and tomatoes. Make it or buy it.

    3. Comeback Sauce

    From Mississippi, this sauce is a cross between spicy rémoulade sauce and creamy Thousand Island dressing is a versatile dip, dressing or spread osandwiches and more—and you sure can’t argue with the fun name.

       

    aloha-soy-sauce-amz

    Soy sauce with a Hawaiian twist can be brush onto grilled food or added to dips, mayonnaise, and vinaigrettes. Photo courtesy Aloha Brand.

     
    4. Donkey Sauce

    Popularized by television chef Guy Fieri, donkey sauce combines mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sriracha and lots of roasted garlic to create a hot and spicy alternative to aïoli sauce, the classic French garlic mayonnaise. 
     
    5. Fonduta

    A rich, melted cheese sauce from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, fonduta is usually made with Fontina, Parmesan and cream—and if you’ve got the bucks, white truffles in season. It is served as a sauce over food or as a fondue-like dip.
     

     

    ponzu-yakamiorchard-230

    Ponzu sauce is available in most
    supermarkets. We buy this gourmet blend
    from Yakima Orchard online.

     

    6. Gochujang Sauce

    Pronounced ko-choo-CHONG, this pungent Korean hot red chili paste is made from fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, red chile, garlic, honey and salt. Spice lovers will enjoy a jar. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

    7. Hawaiian Sauces

    These range from traditional salty-sweet Aloha Sauce (a brand of soy sauce blended with fruit juices, brown sugar, ginger and garlic) to more creative inventions like poi vinaigrette (mashed boiled taro root mixed into a vinaigrette). You can find Aloha Sauce on Amazon.com.

     
    8. Kewpie Mayonnaise

    This MSG-laden mayonnaise from Japan, first made in Japan in 1925, more recently came to prominence at sushi bars in the U.S. as “Dynamite Sauce” for the Dynamite Roll.* Made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar, it is yellower, creamier and richer than western mayonnaise. It is now used to give a kick of sweet and vinegary creaminess to salads and vegetables. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

     
    9. Nyonya Sauce

    This spicy Malaysian sauce typically contains chile paste, curry, fish sauce, lemongrass and other spices. Lang predicts that “before long this flavor booster will go mainstream.” We found it available in packets on Amazon.com.
     

    10. Ponzu Sauce

    This Japanese soy-and-citrus-based dipping sauce is an easy mix of yuzu or lemon juice, kombu, mirin and rice wine vinegar. In Japanese cuisine it’s served with dumplings or shabu shabu, but its uses have evolved (we like it with seafood and rice). You can buy it in the Asian products section of your market. Our favorite, from Yakami Orchard, is available online.
     
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONDIMENT AND A SAUCE?

    A sauce is a condiment, which is defined as a food item added to the primary food to enhance its flavor.

    While some condiments are used by the chef during cooking (barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, for example), others, such as ketchup and mustard, are applied by the individual diner.

    The word derives from the Latin condimentum, meaning spice, seasoning or sauce. That word in turn derived from the Latin condere, meaning to preserve, pickle or season. The word originally described pickled or preserved foods, but evolved over time.
     
    *The Dynamite Roll incorporates shrimp tempura, masago (capelin roe) and vegetables, such as radish sprouts, avocado and/or cucumber.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make It A Trio

    Once upon a time there was a magical restaurant in Wheeling, Illinois, Le Français, the creation of chef-owner Jean Banchet. There, among other glories, we were first introduced to the “trio” approach he brought from his classic French training:

    Whatever protein you hungered for—beef, duck, seafood, veal—would be served in three different preparations on one plate. For example, the lobster trio might include truffled lobster, Lobster Thermidor and lobster sausage.

    By varying cuts, preparations and sauces, Banchet created a symphony of flavors and visual appeal. It became our favorite way of eating.

    The trio approach never took great hold in the U.S. In New York City, we find them mostly in seafood preparations:

  • The trio of fish tacos at Haru Japanese restaurants.
  • A trio of mussels, variously prepared as a seasonal special from Anita Lo of Annisa (see photo).
  • Wild salmon sushi with three different garnishes (fresh ginger and scallion, concasse of tomato and a lemon and vodka marinade topped with lemon zest) at Sushi Seki.
  •  

    mussels-trio-annisa-230

    Photo courtesy Annisa Restaurant | NYC.

     
    Following our enlightenment from Banchet way back in the 1980s, we took to making trios at home for dinner parties. You don’t need a large kitchen staff to turn out three completely different preparations. Here are some tricks:
     

  • Include a sausage as one of the trio. It requires only a quick grilling and an interesting flavored mustard, chutney or other condiment.
  • Consider poaching one of the other two, and grilling, pan frying or roasting the other two. Poultry, filet of beef and seafood are delicious when poached, and the texture is very tender.
  • Use a marinade. A very well-seasoned marinade (lots of herbs, spices, balsamic, etc.) on one of two remaining proteins will differentiate the flavor.
  • Use a dairy based sauce (butter, cheese or cream) and a non-creamy one. The choices are vast: caper, horseradish, mushroom, olive, tomato and wine reduction aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. Browse the sauces section in your cookbooks and check out the mother sauces of France.
  • Think garnishes. The options are endless, but go for good color contrasts.
  •  
    Today’s homework: Start to sketch out some trios: protein, preparation, sauce, garnish. Keep on the refrigerator door and update it as inspiration strikes.
     
    *Jean Banchet, a French chef, founded Le Français in 1973, and soon earned a rare five-star distinction from Mobil. In 1980, it was named the best restaurant in America by Bon Appetit magazine. Banchet retired from Le Français in 2001 and passed away last year.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Bread Salad #2 (Panzanella)

    bread-salad-2-pillsbury-230r

    Bread salad: Try it, you’ll love it. Photo
    courtesy Pillsbury.

     

    Several weeks ago we published a recipe for panzanella, Tuscan bread salad. While perusing other recipes, we discovered this one on Pillsbury.com, submitted by Carrian Cheney of the blog, Oh Sweet Basil.

    It’s what to do when you have leftover French or Italian bread, to convert into crusty croutons that absorb the dressing.

    While markets are still filled with bountiful produce, make hay and make panzanella.

    Prep time is 20 minutes. You can substitute any vegetables in the recipe for others, from fennel to eggplant and beyond.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 loaves day-old crusty baguette, refrigerated and chopped
  • 3 large any color bell peppers, assorted colors, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2/3 cup your favorite creamy dill dressing or vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT 4 tablespoons olive oil in 10- to 12-inch skillet, over medium heat. Arrange bread pieces in single layer in skillet (you will have to do a few batches). Cook until golden; turn and cook again. Repeat with remaining bread. Remove from skillet; cool.

    2. HEAT the remaining olive oil in the same skillet, over medium heat. Add bell peppers, zucchini and onion; cook 3 to 6 minutes or until tender. Cool.

    3. PLACE bread, cooked vegetables, tomatoes and dressing in a very large bowl; add salt and pepper to taste. Toss; serve immediately.
     
    Find many more delicious recipes at OhSweetBasil.com.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Check Your Cooking Spray Ingredients

    Some 50 years ago, the debut of the first spray cooking oil, PAM, was a game changer for many cooks. But over the years, the joy of convenience and calorie savings gave way to wariness of the chemical propellants—petroleum, propane and isobutene—said to be 11% of the contents in the aerosol spray can. Today’s tip is to look at the ingredients in the can.

    If you’ve never used it, here’s the 411: Cooking spray is applied to frying pans and other cookware to prevent food from sticking. The virtually calorie-free spray spare the calories and saturated fats of butter, oil or other fat because the sprayed layer is so thin.

    PAM and the cooking spray brands that followed made other tasks a breeze, too—in the kitchen and beyond. We’ve listed some of the popular uses for cooking spray, below.

    In recent years, consumers have become more aware and fussy about the quality of the ingredients they consume. Two companies have decided to lose the controversial chemicals: major brand Bertolli and artisan producer La Tourangelle.

    Opting for compressed air to propel 100% oil (instead of 89% oil and 11% chemicals), these products deliver even better taste without the hint of chemicals.

    The original sprays were a greasing agent; these new, all natural sprays are also salad spritzers, finishing oils* (especially the top-quality La Tourangelle line) and more—for example, a cholesterol-free, mess-free condiment for corn on the cob. In every case you use far less oil than in another type of application.

     
    BERTOLLI 100% OLIVE OIL SPRAY

    The new sprays launch in three varieties:

       

    bertolli-cooking_spry_extravirgin_230

    Spray away, without chemical propellants. Photo courtesy Bertolli.

  • Bertolli 100% Classico Olive Oil Spray, to spray directly on the pan before sautéing proteins and vegetables
  • Bertolli 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray, to spray onto salads and pastas
  • Bertolli 100% Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil Spray, for baking tins and preparations that require high heat
  •  
    You can purchase a six-pack on Amazon.com for $37.52 ($6.25 per five-ounce can), or a three-pack, one of each flavor, for $21.99 ($7.33 per can).

     
    LA TOURANGELLE ARTISAN OIL SPRAYS

    La Tourangelle, the California-based artisanal oil company and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, has launched the first-to-market line of gourmet spray oils that are also all-natural and propellant-free. The company’s top-selling bottled oils are now sprayable:

  • 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Spray
  • Grapeseed Oil Spray
  • Roasted Pistachio Spray
  • Organic Canola Spray
  • Roasted Walnut Oil Spray
  • Thai Wok Spray
  •  
    The products are now available online at LaTourangelle.com and will be hitting store shelves soon. The prices range from $6.99 to $9.99 SRP. Consider them as stocking stuffers for friends with good palates.

     
    *A finishing oil is one that is added to cooked food as a condiment, to add flavor and mouthfeel. It is an oil with especially fine natural flavor and aroma that should be enjoyed as a surface accent, and not used for cooking or baking where the nuances will dissipate under heat. It can be used on carpaccio, legumes, porcini mushrooms, pasta, rice and other grains, roasted meats and fish, vegetables and other foods. Fine olive oil can be drizzled atop vanilla ice cream and garnished with a sprinkle of sea salt.

     

     

    la-tourangelle-sprays-230

    Four of the six new artisan-quality spray oils
    from La Tourangelle. Photo courtesy La
    Tourangelle.

     

    USES FOR COOKING SPRAY

    Cooking spray is godsend for anything that calls for greasing, from skillets to bundt pans. Popular kitchen uses include:

  • Baking & Roasting: baking sheets, baking dishes/casseroles, cake and muffin pans, roasting pans and broiler pans
  • Cookware, with or without non-stick coating: barbecue grills, frying pans/skillets, gelatin molds, griddles, pots
  • Food preparation: preventing food from sticking to spatulas, wooden spoons, skewers, measuring cups (especially when measuring sticky things like honey, syrup and agave), food processor blades and blender blades
  •  
    Adventurous people found uses beyond the kitchen: everything from unsticking doors to preventing fresh nail polish from smudging.

    How about using cooking spray for removing dead bugs from your car, and other unconventional uses?

     
    COOKING SPRAY HISTORY

    PAM, America’s first aerosol cooking spray, was launched in 1961 by entrepreneur Leon Rubin who, with Arthur Meyerhoff, started Gibraltar Industries to market the spray. The name is an acronym for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff. The brand is currently owned and distributed by ConAgra Foods.

    With canola oil as its main ingredient, the appeal of PAM was immediate.

  • For calorie counters, it provided a zero-calorie*, fat-free option for greasing the pan, instead of other fats at 100 calories per tablespoon.
  • For bakers, it was the way to prevent cakes and muffins from sticking.
  • For recipes like vegetables, mozzarella sticks and the like, it helped the seasonings to stick thoroughly.
  • For utensils, coating the inside of a measuring cup with the spray allows sticky substances such as honey to pour out more easily.
  •  
    Not only did it spawn imitators (Baker’s Joy, Crisco, Emeril, Mazola and Smart Balance, for example), but PAM itself developed eight varieties: Original plus Baking, Butter, Canola Oil, Organic Canola Oil, Grilling, Olive Oil, Organic Olive Oil Professional.

    And now, welcome to Cooking Spray 3.0: chemical free.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce

    summer-rolls-peanut-butter-sauce-lizziemabbot-ILPB-230r

    A three-ingredient peanut sauce. Photo
    courtesy Lizzie Mabbot | Lizzy Eats London.

     

    If you’re a fan of peanut sauce for dipping, making sesame noodles or drizzling over steamed vegetables, and diluted with salad oil for a salad dressing.

    While the preparation is simple—just combine the ingredients in a bowl and blend—depending on the recipe, you can spend more time or less time measuring ingredients.

    We discovered this super easy recipe version on ILovePeanutButter.com, contributed by blogger Lizzie Mabbot of Lizzy Eats London. She serves it with homemade summer rolls.

    RECIPE: EASY PEANUT SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients with a whisk. If sauce is too thick, add a little water.

     

     

    RECIPE: STANDARD PEANUT SAUCE

    This recipe, from McCormick, has more layers of flavor and takes a few more minutes to prepare—plus fish sauce and sesame oil, which you may not have on hand. McCormick uses it in their sesame noodles recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  •  

    sesame-noodles-mccormick-230sq

    Seasame noodles with peanut sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Get Better Crackers

    raincoast-crisps-boxes-230

    The Nibble’s reigning favorite cracker. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We’ve eaten more than our share of supermarket crackers—Carr’s Water Biscuits, Keebler Club Crackers, Nabisco Saltines, Ritz Crackers and the like. They’re good, but sometimes we want amazing.

    Special occasions deserve special crackers—to accompany cheese, dips, salads, soups, spreads, whatever. They may be pricier than the supermarket varieties, but if your palate craves excitement and your eyes want visual allure, it’s money well spent.

    Otherwise stated, Cracker Barrel makes perfectly tasty Cheddar cheese. But if we want a great Cheddar experience, we’ll spring for Fiscalini Farmstead, a great artisan wheel from California.

    It can be a challenge to find great crackers, even when you know what you’re looking for. Recently we raced through three specialty food stores in search of Raincoast Crisps, our current favorite cracker. We finally found them at Dean & Deluca retail and etail, and also online at iGourmet.com.

    They’re $6.79 for a six-ounce box at iGourmet, and a whopping $10 at DDL. The amazing flavors and textures and small batch production make it worth the special-occasion splurge. They’re exquisite absolutely plain or however you wish to serve them.

     
    Three more-affordable brands of special crackers we favor, all natural and artisan (small batch, better ingredients):

    Dr. Kracker

    Rolled by hand, these artisan flatbreads are long on flavor and unique in their appearance. Each cracker is topped a generous number of attractive—and healthy—seeds, sesame, sunflower, and/or pumpkin.

  • Company Website
  • Our Review
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    Mary’s Gone Crackers

    Mary’s Gone Crackers are gluten-free and vegan, yet packed with so much flavor you start to wonder what is in them that makes them taste so vibrant and delicious (the answer: whole grain brown rice, whole quinoa, flax seeds and sesame seeds). They’re also organic, whole grain and OU kosher.

  • Company Website
  • Our Review
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    La Panzanella Croccantini

    Unlike the previous recommendations, which are whole grain and laden with seeds, nuts or fruits, La Panzanella Croccantini provide classic Italian flare. Made from white flour, even the plain version is wonderful, but cracked pepper, garlic and rosemary versions add extra flavor. The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

  • Company Website
  • Our Review
  •  
    You can also browse the shelves at specialty food stores and try whatever looks good.

     

    raincoast-crisps-blue-cheese-230

    Raincoast Crisps with cheese. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    As with government, people get the crackers they deserve. If no one wants to pay more for better products, the shelves get stacked with more varieties of Ritz and saltines.
     
    HOW TO RE-CRISP SOGGY CRACKERS

    As crisp as they begin, crackers will attract moisture over time and get soggy. But you can easily re-crisp them:

    1. Put the crackers in the microwave on a paper towel. Don’t overlap.

    2. Microwave them for 40 seconds on medium/high.

    3. Allow the crackers to cool for 3-5 minutes. They will crisp up as they cool down.

    Crunch away!

      

    Comments

    TIP: 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip Or Spread

    spinach-mascarpone-dip-vermontcreamery-230

    What do you like to do with spinach dip?
    Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    Many people enjoy spinach dip; they just don’t enjoy it often enough.

    Recipes vary greatly (here’s a super-rich spinach-mascarpone dip). Zabar’s, the famed food emporium in New York City, is known for its vegan spinach-arugula spread, a garlicky spinach dip variation with peppery arugula punch, made with Tofutti instead of a dairy product. The ingredients are spinach, arugula, Tofutti, pesto, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, salt and pepper.

    Zabar’s chefs recommend it to liven up favorite comfort foods, weeknight dinners and entertaining staples. You can use your favorite spinach dip variation, based on using cream cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt or a combination.

    Then, use it in any of these 13 ways:

    1. Stir spinach dip into macaroni and cheese for extra color and flavor.

    2. Spread it onto split French or Italian bread loaves, cover with minced garlic mixed with a little olive oil and broil, for a twist on garlic bread.

    3. Mix with boiled halved or quartered potatoes and scallions for zesty potato salad.

     

    4. Use instead of mayo on a BLT or other sandwich.

    5. Use instead of mayo in chicken, egg, tuna, salmon or pasta salad for pumped-up flavor.

    6. Mix into mashed potatoes.

     

    7. Spread on sliced, toasted bread or crostini and serve as appetizers or with a salad.

    8. Spread on crostini, cover with Gruyère or other melting cheese and broil\; then float the crostini in your favorite soup.

    9. Use instead of cream cheese on a bagel with lox.

    10. Fill an omelet.

    11. Mix with low-fat plain Greek yogurt for a healthy crudité or chip dip.

    12. Mix with ricotta for a lasagna filling.

    13. Add to a baked potato instead of butter or sour cream.
     
    Would you like to add a tip or two to this list? Let us know.

     

    spinach-arugula-spread-zabars--230

    Spinach dip spread on crostini. Photo courtesy Zabars.com.

     

      

    Comments

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