THE NIBBLE BLOG Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.



Archive for Gourmet Foods

RECIPE: A Special Sandwich For National Grilled Cheese Day

Raspberry Grilled  Cheese Sandwich

Blue Cheese Crumbles

Lighthouse Blue Cheese Crumbles

Top: Sweet and savory grilled cheese: mozzarella, basil and fresh raspberries. Bottom: Litehouse Blue Cheese Crumbles. Photos courtesy Litehouse. Center: Blue cheese crumbles from PopArtichoke.com.

 

April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, a day to try something new.

Actually, the entire month of April is National Grilled Cheese Month, so you’ve got an additional 17 days.

This sweet and savory sandwich recipe is from Litehouse Foods, which used its Blue Cheese Crumbles.

RECIPE: GRILLED RASPBERRY & MOZZARELLA SANDWICH WITH BLUE CHEESE & BASIL

Ingredients For 2 Sandwiches

  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries, smashed
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves, torn
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DIVIDE the butter evenly among the four slices of bread, spreading it on one side of each slice.

    2. HEAT a grill pan over medium-high heat and place two slices of bread, butter side down, in the pan. Top each slice with ¼ of the mozzarella cheese and half of the blue cheese, raspberries and basil. Divide the remaining mozzarella cheese between the two sandwiches.

    3. TOP each sandwich with the remaining slices of bread, butter side up. Grill each side for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Slice in half and serve immediately.
     
    MORE GRILLED CHEESE RECIPES

  • How To Make The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Four Pages Of Grilled Cheese Recipes
  • Dessert Grilled Cheese Recipes
  • Gourmet Grilled Cheese
  • Grilled Cheese Benedict
  •  
    BLUE CHEESE CRUMBLES

    Many people buy blue cheese crumbles for the convenience. But we love blue cheese so much, we buy one of our favorites and crumble it with a knife. Just dice it in your size of choice.

    We also buy extra for table cheese, and to make this delicious blue cheese dip from PopArtichoke.com.

    Our favorite blues from America’s artisan cheesemakers: Anything from Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese, anything from Rogue Creamery, and Bayley Hazen from Jasper Hill Farm.

    Here’s more about blue cheese.

     
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Garlic Bread, Old School & New School

    American-style garlic bread is a descendant of Italian bruschetta and crostini. The first recipe we found was published in 1940 in Edith Barber’s Cook Book, written by the editor of the New York Sun food column. [Source]

    The Americanized version used a baguette or narrow loaf of Italian bread, substituted butter for oil, mixed with garlic powder/salt instead of rubbed with cut fresh garlic cloves, and topped with dried oregano. It might also include grated Parmesan or other cheese.

    The loaf is sliced vertically or horizontally, topped with the butter spread and heated in a hot oven (400°F). Often, the loaf was sliced vertically and buttered between the slices before heating. Our Mom first lightly toasted the bread slices crostini-style, though she didn’t hear the word “crostini” for decades.

    THE HISTORY OF GARLIC BREAD

    American garlic bread began life as bruschetta, a peasant food. Some sources say in was made in ancient times, others cite medieval times as the origin. It was common for Italian peasants, who lacked costly ceramics plates, to eat their meals on slices of grilled bread. Charred, bread, rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil, was grilled over the fire.

    In medieval cuisine, “sops” were common across Europe: stale bread soaked in broth, soup or wine and topped with other foods.

       

    Garlic Bread Recipe

    Classic American garlic bread. Photo courtesy La Panineria | Facebook.

     

    Over time, the recipe was refined into an antipasto (appetizer), on more easily handled small toasts. It became a popular bread basket freebie in Italian-American restaurants. By the 1990s, visitors to trendy restaurants were paying for bruschetta (grilled from a thinner loaf) or crostini (toasted from a wider loaf), with different toppings and the original olive oil and minced fresh garlic.

    These days, garlic bread is old school, and bruschetta and crostini are the rage. Here’s the old-school recipe, followed by an example of the new school.
     
    RECIPE #1: CLASSIC GARLIC BREAD (OLD SCHOOL)

    This recipe first slices the entire loaf in half, horizontally.

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 baguette (1 pound), halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat)-leaf parsley
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE butter and garlic in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the top of the slices and sprinkle with parsley (you can also blend the parsley into the butter).

    2. PLACE on a baking sheet and bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Broil for an additional 2 minutes or until golden brown, 4-6 inches. from the heat.

    3. CUT into 2-inch slices. Serve warm.

     

    Spring Pea Crostini

    Spring Peas

    Top: Creative crostini. Bottom: Fresh green peas. Recipe and photos courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    RECIPE #2: GARLIC CROSTINI WITH SPRING PEAS & BURRATA (NEW SCHOOL)

    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 3 thick slices of country bread or sourdough
  • 1 eight-ounce burrata
  • ½ pound English Peas, shelled
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 12-14 castelvetrano olives, pitted and roughly chopped (substitute other green olives)
  • ¼ cup parsley or mint, roughly chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the whey from the burrata in a colander lined with a paper towel. Don’t pierce the skin of the burrata.

    2. TOAST the bread until golden brown—even with a bit of char around the edges. Rub the tops with the cut side of the garlic and drizzle with olive oil.

    3. USE clean hands (instead of slicing) to carefully divide the burrata among the three pieces of toast, including all the creamy drippings. Divide the peas, olives and herbs among the slices.

    4. FINISH with a hearty drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut in half or allow each dinner to do so.
     
    DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAD

    Check them out in our Bread Glossary.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chess Pie

    Chess Pie

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/lemon chess pie goodeggsSF 230r

    Pumpkin Chess Pie

    Tangerine Chess Pie

    Top: Classic Chess Pie from Zulka Sugar. Second: Lemon Chess Pie from Good Eggs | SF. Third: Pumpkin Chess Pie from Midwest Living (recipe). Bottom: Tangerine Chess Pie from Southern Living (recipe).

     

    Chess Pie is a venerable Southern recipe that likely has nothing to do with the game of chess.

    It’s a one-crust, sweet, rich custard pie made with basic ingredients found in every kitchen: butter, eggs, flour, milk, sugar and vanilla—plus two distinctive ingredients, cornmeal and vinegar. A one-bowl recipe, simply stirred, Chess Pie, which dates back to Colonial times, has remained popular over the generations.
     
    THE HISTORY OF CHESS PIE

    An early version appears in Martha Washington’s Booke Of Cookery, comprising recipes handed down from her first husband’s mother, Frances Parke Custis, possibly at her marriage in 1750. The first known recipe called Chess Pie appears in the 1877, in Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping by Estelle Woods Wilcox.

    We will probably never know how Chess Pie got its name, but here are the four prevailing theories:

  • Gentlemen were served the pie as they retreated to a room to play chess.
  • It’s Southern dialect: for “jes’ pie” (It’s just pie).
  • Its “chest pie”—“chess pie” when drawled. Because the pie is so high in sugar, it kept well at room temperature in the pie chest.
  • Perhaps the most academic theory, a Lemon Chess Pie was so similar to the English Lemon Curd Pie. The latter, often called “cheese” pie, evolved to “chess” in the U.S.
  • Add your theory in the comments section.
  •  
    Early variations added lemon juice or pie spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg. Some added flaked coconut or toasted pecans. Some substituted part of the milk with buttermilk (buttermilk or lemon juice provides acid that can substitute for the vinegar). When cocoa powder became available, it was whisked right in to make Chocolate Chess Pie.
     
    RECIPE: CLASSIC CHESS PIE

    You can save time with refrigerated pie crusts, or make your own. This classic recipe from Southern Living saves time with a refrigerated crust.

    Other Southern Living recipes include Chocolate-Pecan Chess Pie, Grapefruit Chess Pie, Lemon Chess Pie, Orange Chess Pie and Tangerine Chess Pie. Some use a traditional flaky pie crust, some use a shortbread crust.

    We also found a lovely Pumpkin Chess Pie, a Cookie Chess Pie with Oreos and numerous other variations. Have a favorite flavor? Incorporate it into a Chess Pie!
     
    Ingredients

  • 1/2 package (15-ounce) refrigerated pie crusts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •  
    For A Cocoonut Chess Pie

  • 1 cup toasted flaked coconut
  •  

    Preparation

    1. FIT the pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate, according to package directions. Fold the edges under and crimp.

    2. LINE the crust with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 425° for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the weights and foil; bake 2 more minutes or until golden. Cool.

    3. STIR together the sugar and the other ingredients except the eggs, until blended. Then add the eggs one at a time, stirring well, followed by the optional coconut.

    4. POUR the mixture into the pie crust. Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes. After 10 minutes, to prevent excessive browning, shield the crust edges with aluminum foil or a pie crust shield—very useful if you make a lot of pies. Cool completely on a wire rack.
     
    WANT MORE PIE?

    Check out our Pie & Pastry Glossary and pick something new.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Chervil Sour

    Here’s something different: A cocktail based on muddled herbs. The Chervil Sour was created by Jeff Bareilles, Wine and Beverage Director at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos, California.

     
    RECIPE: CHERVIL SOUR

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 15–20 chervil leaves
  • 2 ounces pisco
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the chervil and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker or pint glass. Add all other ingredients and ice. Shake vigorously until egg white is frothy.

    2. STRAIN into a coupe glass and top with 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and garnish with a small chervil leaf.
     
     
    WHAT IS CHERVIL?

    Chervil, sometimes called garden chervil or French parsley, is an annual herb related to parsley, but more delicate in both appearance and flavor. It has a faint taste of licorice or anise seed.

    Chervil is a popular French seasoning for poultry, seafood and vegetable dishes (the word in French is cerfeuil, sir-FOEY).

  • It is one of the four ingredients of the French herb mixture fines herbes (feen-erb): chervil, chives, parsley and tarragon, used to season poultry, seafood, young spring vegetables, soups and sauces.
  • These herbs are called fine (delicate) as opposed to the stronger flavors of the bouquet garni (garnished bouquet). These “hardy” herbs—more pungent and/or resinous—are used to flavor soups, stocks and stews.
  • Bouquets garni can also include some fines herbes. Popular ingredients are basil, bay leaf; burnet, chervil, parsley, rosemary, savory and tarragon and thyme. They are tied in a bunch with a string, or in a piece of cheesecloth, so they can be easily removed from the pot.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chervil sour manresa 230

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chervil bunch www.herbtable.com 230

    Top: The Chervil Sour served at Manresa restaurant. Bottom: A bunch of fresh chervil. Photo courtesy HerbTable.com.

     
    How To Handle Chervil

    Hardy herbs—bay leaf, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme—will stay green for a week or two in the fridge (keep them dry in the produce drawer).

    Delicate herbs—basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley, tarragon—wilt and turn yellow faster, and need special attention. 

  • Remove any ties or rubber bands and trim off the root ends and the leafless part of the stem (you can save the roots to flavor soups and stocks).
  • Place the herbs in a glass with a couple inches of water, cover with a plastic bag (we use a bag from the produce apartment) and secure the bag, as needed, with an elastic band.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: BLT Pancakes

    BLT Pancakes Recipe

    Quark Cheese

    Baby Arugula

    Top: Something different: BLT Pancakes. Center: Quark and cherry tomatoes. Recipe and photos courtesy Tieghan Gerard | Wisconsin Cheese Talk. Bottom: Baby arugula from Baldor Specialty Foods | Facebook.

     

    For National BLT Month, how about some savory BLT pancakes?

    This recipe was created by Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest for Wisconsin Cheese Talk, who used Wisconsin-made quark in the recipe.

    “Quark is like ricotta’s saltier cousin mixed with a creamy version of feta,” says Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest, who shared this recipe with the Wisconsin cheese folks.

    “When I first tried it, I had so many ideas of how to use quark in my recipes, but one recipe stuck out: these BLT Quark Pancakes with Chipotle Bourbon Dressing.”

    Here’s more about quark, a fresh cheese that looks like sour cream and yogurt.

    Check out Half Baked Harvest. You’ll want to eat every recipe!

     
    RECIPE: BLT QUARK PANCAKES WITH CHIPOTLE BOURBON DRESSING

    Serve these pancakes for brunch, lunch, or even as a first course at dinner. The recipe serves 6 as an entrée, 12 as a starter.

    If you can’t find quark, substitute ricotta. The biggest challenge is when to make the recipe:

    It’s a recipe for tomato season, but it seems a shame to wait for July’s crop of heirloom tomatoes. So the next best thing is to substitute cherry tomatoes (in addition to the ones already in the recipe.

    Ingredients

    For The Chipotle Bourbon Dressing

  • Optional: 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  •  
    For The Quark Pancakes

  • 2 eggs, whites separated from yolks
  • 16 ounces (1 pound) Wisconsin quark cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  •  
    Garnishes

  • 8 slices cooked bacon
  • 2 tomatoes, preferably heirloom, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups arugula or other dark greens
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the Chipotle Bourbon Dressing: In small saucepan over medium heat, bring the bourbon, if using, to a boil. Cook until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, chipotle pepper and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste; whisk to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.

    2. MAKE the Quark Pancakes: Preheat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Combine 8 ounces of quark, the buttermilk and egg yolks in a separate, larger mixing bowl. Add the flour, honey, baking soda and salt to the batter, stirring gently until just combined. Stir a small scoop of egg whites into the mixture to lighten the batter; then fold in the remaining beaten whites with a spatula.

    3. HEAT a skillet over medium heat. Coat with butter or cooking spray. For entrée-size pancakes, pour 1/3 cup of the pancake batter onto the center of the hot skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on the pancake’s surface. Using a spatula, gently flip the pancake; cook the second side until golden. Repeat with the remaining batter. Keep the pancakes warm in the oven.

     

    Pancakes & Bacon

    Ready to assemble. Photo courtesy Tieghan Gerard | Wisconsin Cheese Talk.

     
    4. MAKE the topping. Place the remaining 8 ounces of quark in a mixing bowl. Add the heavy cream. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk until the quark is whipped, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Stack the pancakes on serving plates; top with the bacon, tomato slices, halved cherry tomatoes and arugula. Add a dollop of whipped quark cheese and drizzle with the reserved dressing.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Let Nettle Season Pass You By

    Green Garlic Soup

    Stinging Nettles

    Green Garlic

    Top: Add nettles to soup, such as this Potato, Nettle and Green Garlic Soup. Center: Nettles. Bottom: Green garlic. Photos courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    A year ago, we wrote about stinging nettles. also called common nettles and wild nettles. Here’s that background article.

    Today’s tip is a reminder not to let the brief season pass you by (it ends this month, depending on your location).

    WHAT ARE NETTLES?

    Stinging nettles, Urtica dioica, are slightly bitter green herbs that grow wild in the spring. Other names are common nettles and wild nettles.

    They are members of Urticaceae, family of flowering plants, also known as the Nettle Family. The family includes other useful plants, including ramie, which is used to make fabric.

    Different varieties grow worldwide, many without the sting. Those that are picked with garden gloves (rubber kitchen gloves work, too). The sting comes from chemicals* in the plant. Once stinging nettles are blanched, boiled or soaked in water, the sting is gone.

    In North America, nettles sprout up very briefly in early spring and late fall, growing like weeds at the edges of cultivated farmland. That’s why the best place to find them is farmers markets.

    Why go after something that stings? They have charming flavor, a bit like spinach with a cucumber undertone. You can use as a substitute for cooked spinach.

    You can find numerous nettles recipes online, but we’ll start you off with some soup and pesto.
     
    RECIPE #1: POTATO, NETTLE & GREEN GARLIC SOUP

    This recipe, from Good Eggs, unites two limited spring vegetables: nettles and green garlic. The soup tastes even better the next day. Prep time is 20 minutes, total time is 45 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 2 pound waxy or all-purpose potatoes, rinsed well and cut into 1″ pieces
  • Salt
  • 3 stalks green garlic, white parts minced and green parts set aside
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups nettles, carefully de-stemmed and washed (substitute spinach)
  • Garnish: ½ cup crème fraîche (substitute plain Greek yogurt)
  • Garnish: ½ cup parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • Garnish: 2 tablespoons chives, chopped finely
  •  
    ________________________
    *In the stinging varieties, hollow stinging hairs on the leaves and stems called trichomes inject three chemicals when touched by humans and other animals: histamine which irritates the skin, acetylcholine which causes a burning feeling, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps to relay signals in the brain. They produce a rash that can be treated with an anti-itch cream, aloe vera or baking soda. But the protective chemicals doesn’t do a good job of keeping us away from nettles: They have a long history of use as a medicine and food source. Further, they need to be eaten before they begin to flower and produce other compounds that cause stomach irritation. (Perhaps serve them with some fugu—blowfish?)
     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Salt the water generously—it should be salty as ocean water—and add the bay leaves and a handful of the green garlic tops. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 25-30, minutes or until potatoes are soft but not falling apart. Drain in a colander and cool by spreading the potatoes in a single flat layer on a tray. While potatoes are boiling…

    2. SAUTÉ the onion in a large stock pot with a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil over medium-low heat, until soft and translucent. Add the minced green garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes, until soft and aromatic.

    3. HALVE or quarter the cooled potatoes, depending on size, and add to the onions and garlic. Stir gently to combine. Add the chicken stock to the pot until the potatoes are just covered; bring to a boil.

    4. TURN off the heat and purée half the soup in a blender. Use a kitchen towel to hold down the lid of the blender and be careful of steam and hot splashes. You can also use an immersion blender. If you prefer a more rustic soup, you can lightly mash the potatoes with the back of a spoon or a potato masher, instead of puréeing.

    5. USE protective gloves, a kitchen towel or tongs and carefully de-stem and wash the nettles (we cut them from the stems with a kitchen scissors). Drain them in a colander, then chop roughly. Fold into the hot soup and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve hot with a generous dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives and parsley.

     

    RECIPE #2: NETTLE & PISTACHIO PESTO

    Nettles make a delicious pesto; here are 20+ ways to use pesto.

    This recipe is from Quinciple.com, a premier meal delivery service.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup stinging nettle leaves, de-stemmed
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, toasted
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup packed Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated (substitute freshly grated Parmesan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DE-STEM the nettle leaves: Hold onto the stem with tongs and use your other hand to carefully snip the leaves with kitchen scissors.

    2. BRING a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the nettles by adding the leaves to the water for 1-2 minutes. Remove them with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place them in an ice bath (a bowl with water with ice cubes) to cool. Once the nettles are cool to the touch, strain and squeeze all water from the leaves.

    3. ROUGHLY CHOP the blanched leaves and add them to a food processor with the garlic, pistachios, lemon juice and zest, cheese, salt and pepper. Pulse into a coarse paste. Then stream in the olive oil to the desired consistency or about 1/3. Serve immediately or store in a jar for up to 5 days.
     
    MORE WAYS TO SERVE NETTLES

    Like most herbs, nettles are good for you, rich in calcium, iron, manganese, potassium and vitamins A and C. They have been called “seaweed of the land” because of their complete spectrum of trace minerals and their soft, salty flavor.

  • Have them for breakfast, in omelets or scrambled eggs.
  • Add them to soup stocks or stews, where they’ll contribute a rich earthy/briny flavor. Some combinations include nettle-potato soup (recipe above), nettle-garlic, nettle-sorrel and just plain nettle.
  • Use them instead of spinach in a nettle & artichoke dip.
  • Steam and add them to enchiladas.
  • Add them to lasagna or risotto; top a pizza.
  • Purée them as a sauce for chicken, fish and seafood.
  •  

    Nettle Pesto Recipe

    Nettles

    Nettle pesto from Quinciple.com.

  • Combine them with spinach and/or mushrooms as a side, add them to a goat cheese tart, spanakopita, quiche, etc.
  •  
    Until next spring!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Spreads, Cheese Condiments

    Fig Spread With Cheese

    Bonne Maman Fig Spread

    Top: Crostini with Brie, Serrano ham and Fig Spread (photo courtesy Favor The Moments). Bottom: Enjoy trying the different spreads with different cheeses (photo courtesy Bonne Maman).

     

    What’s a cheese condiment? What’s a cheese spread? you may ask. Here’s the food nerd explanation:

  • Cheese spread is one of the sweet cheese condiments.
  • A condiment is an auxiliary food product that adds flavor to another food.
  • “Condiment” is first found in print in French around 1420, and derives from the Latin condimentum, spice.
  • Mankind has been enjoying condiments for much longer, even before the dukkah of ancient Egypt the ancient Romans’ beloved fish sauce, garum.
  •  
    Chutney, ketchup, mustard and pickle relish are examples of condiments that enhance burgers and franks. Although you may not think of them as such, fudge sauce, marshmallow cream and whipped cream are ice cream condiments.

    Given America’s growing familiarity with fine cheeses, here’s an…

    INTRODUCTION TO CHEESE CONDIMENTS

    What is the difference between a mostarda and a mustard? Why would you put honey on cheese? Can you use the same condiments on a log of fresh goat cheese and an aged Gouda?

    Cheeses are wonderful on their own, but cheese condiments can bring out their nuances. Similar to wine pairings, the flavor and age of the cheese are taken into account when deciding on pairings.

    We have an elaborate chart of cheese condiment pairings, from aged balsamic and mustard to sweet condiments such as chutney, honey and preserves.

    Cheeses served with sweet condiments make delicious appetizers, desserts and snacks.

    Take a look at the newest cheese condiments in town: three fruit spreads from premium jam, jelly and preserves company, Bonne Maman. They are all natural, non-GMO and certified kosher by OU.

     
    MEET THE NEW CHEESE SPREADS FROM BONNE MAMAN

    First, a word about “spreads.”

    There are different types of fruit spreads, including chutney, jam, jelly, preserve and others.

    Aside from the jam and jelly group, some people hear “cheese spread” and think of like Port Wine Cheddar. Not here.

    As regards jam, in the U.S., “fruit spread” is generally a reduced-calorie product, replacing all or part of the sugar with fruit juice concentrate and low-calorie sweeteners. Not the case with Bonne Maman.

    The new spreads from Bonne Mamam are very thick and concentrated preserves that don’t run or dribble: They stand firm, enabling you to use them in more ways. The flavor, too, is more intense—glorious, in fact. It was all we could do not to eat them directly from the jar. (Well, maybe we did.)

    The best pairings are the ones you like. We’ve made some suggestions, but let your palate be your guide.

     

    Black Cherry Spread Cheese Pairings

    Tart cherries pair well with both sharp and creamy cheeses. We pair it with goat cheese, Brie and Camenbert.
     
    Purple Fig Spread Cheese Pairings

    This one is easy: Fig pairs well with all types of cheese.
     
    Quince Spread Cheese Pairings

    For centuries, membrillo, quince paste, has been the classic condiment for aged Spanish cheeses. Cabrales and Manchego are most often found in the U.S., but your cheesemonger may also have Idiazabal, Roncal, Zamorano and others. Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano, with nuances similar to Manchego, pairs well; so does aged provolone. The nutty Swiss mountain cheeses are also a match: Appenzeller, Emmental (with the big holes called eyes), Gruyère* and French Comté.
     
    NEXT STEPS

    Plan a cheese tasting with fruit spreads and other condiments. Your family and friends will love it!

    As of this writing, you can download a $2 coupon on the Bonne Maman website.
     
    PARTY FAVORS

    Looking for small Mother’s Day gifts or party favors? Jet.com is currently selling a six-pack with free shipping.

    The spreads are also available at retailers nationwide.

     

    Quince Spread

    Bonne Maman Purple Fig Cheese Spread

    Top: Quince Spread atop a pyramid-shaped cheese (photo courtesy Taylor Takes A Taste). Bottom: A jar of Purple Fig Spread (photo courtesy Jet.com).

     
    ______________________________
    *Switzerland has produced Gruyère for hundreds of years, but after an appeal to the EU, France was also allowed to use the name. French Gruyère must be made with tiny eyes—“between the size of a pea and a cherry”—to distinguish it from the original.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Halos, Sweet & Lovely Mandarins

    Bowl Of Halos

    Halos Peeled

    Photos: Halos, unpeeled and peeled, and perhaps the easiest fruit to peel. Photos courtesy Wonderful Foods.

     

    April is the end of the season for the sweet little mandarins called Halos. We have been enjoying them by the bagful, and in addition to flavor and nutrition, they keep us from eating refined-sugar snacks.

    They deserve their halo!

    WHAT ARE HALOS?

    The fruit aisle can be confusing. Depending on the store, you can find clementines, Cuties, Halos, Dimples, tangerines and mandarin “oranges” (mandarins are not oranges, but a different species—more about that in a minute).

    Welcome to the world of single serving, easy to peel, sweet and juicy—and branded—citrus.

    Halos, Cuties and Sweeties are mandarins from California, different brand names for what are often clementines.

    Don’t call them mandarin oranges: While both are from the genus Citrus, mandarins are a different species, just as broccoli and cabbage, both members of the genus Brassica, are different species.

    Here’s the difference (Produce Pete and Wikipedia take note!).

    From a visual perspective:

  • Oranges are medium to large round or ovoid shapes covered with a thick peel that can take time to remove. They are in the genus Citrus, with separate species (e.g. Citrus sinensis, the sweet orange group, includes the common sweet orange, blood orange, and navel orange). Sometimes they’re sweet, and sometimes they aren’t; you don’t know until you buy and try.
  • Mandarins are small and roundish with flatness on the top and bottom, and a loose, easy-to-peel skin. They are in the genus/species Citrus reticulata. The ones from California are reliably sweet and usually seedless. That’s why we prefer mandarins like Halos.
  •  
    WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT NAMES ALL ABOUT?

    Why the different names? Branding! The names are not varieties, but trademarked names, encouraging the consumer to look specifically for Cuties or Halos.

  • The Cuties trademark is owned by Sun Pacific.
  • The Halos trademark, also “Wonderful Halos,” is owned by Wonderdful Citrus, which also owns the trademarks POM Wonderful pomegranates, Wonderful Pistachios, Wonderful Almonds and Sweet Scarlett red grapefruit (also a passion of ours). It is the #1 mandarin brand in the U.S. and 100% California-grown (some producers may augment their domestic supply with imported fruit). Even their website sounds delicious: Wonderful.com.
  • The Dimples trademark is owned by Cecelia Packing. Dimples are a branded name for the Gold Nugget mandarin. Their season is later than clementines, beginning in April.
  • Tangerine is a different species of mandarins,—Citrus tangerina—and not a brand name.
  • Murcott is a mandarin/sweet orange hybrid. In the trade they are referred to as tangor, “tang” from tangerine and “or” from orange. They are also called the temple orange. Their thick rind is easy to peel. Some are trademarked as Golden Nugget, some as Tango.
  •  

    Now for a twist:

  • The season for California clementines is November to January.
  • A similar mandarin, the murcott, is available from February to April, and they substitute for Cuties and Halos clementines during that time.
  • Non-branded murcotts are often called clementines at retail, because the name is more familiar to consumers and it sells better.
  • If you see clementines after April, they are likely imported.
  •  
    HOW TO USE HALOS

    Like oranges, mandarins are very versatile. The first thing anyone would think of is hand fruit. The term refers to fruits small enough to eat from the palm of your hand, such as apples, pears and stone fruits—but not pineapples or other fruits that need to be cut up.

    But why stop there? Use luscious mandarins:

  • On cold or hot cereal.
  • Sliced in a cup of tea instead of lemon.
  • Juiced, or added to smoothies, cocktails and mulled wine.
  • In fruit salads, green salads and Asian chicken salads.
  • In stir-fries with proteins and/or vegetables.
  • In cake batter or cheesecake batter, or as a garnish on top.
  • Atop single crust pies or tarts, in segments or slices (we cover the entire top of a cream or custard pie with slices).
  • In puddings, gelatin and other desserts.
  • As a garnishes on desserts and beverages.
  •  
    To find a store near you, here’s the Halos store locator.
     
    MANDARIN TIPS

  • For garnishing, you can separate the segments or slice horizontally across the peeled fruit for wheels.
  • Because of their thin skin, mandarins don’t keep as long as oranges. Store them in the fridge and enjoy them within two weeks.
  •  

    Green Salad With Clementines

    White Chocolate Tart

    Top: Toss segments into a green salad (photo courtesy Wonderful Foods). Bottom: Garnishing a white chocolate tart with a macadamia crust. Here’s the recipe from Rodale’s Organic Life.

     
    MANDARIN HISTORY

    Thanks to Etienne Rabe, Vice President, Agronomy, for Wonderful Citrus, for this history of mandarins:

    It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of the name, but we know that mandarins were grown for many centuries in China. The first mandarin tree was brought to England from China in 1805, and its progeny went from England to Malta, then to Sicily and continental Italy.

    Little information is available about mandarins in Chinese literature, but as far back as 1178 C.E., Chinese author Han Yen-chih described 27 different varieties of mandarins.

    The clementine originated in North Africa and made their way to Morocco in the 1960s and Spain in the 1970s. Spain started exporting them to the East Coast of the U.S. in the 1990s.

    The murcott variety was bred in Morocco and introduced to the U.S. in the mid-1990s.

    As imported clementines became popular, American citrus growers saw the potential of the fruit…and how lucky we are!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cauliflower Risotto

    Having just published an article about cauliflower rice, we’re following up with this recipe for Cauliflower “Risotto.”

    This recipe is from Food Player Linda, a freelance chef in Connecticut whose innovative recipes can be found onPlayingWithFireAndWater.com. When we win the lottery, we will retain her to make magnificent meals.

    RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER “RISOTTO”

    Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, washed, root end trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 cups of broth or stock
  • 4 ounces blue cheese or any creamy cheese that will melt*
  • Garnish: minced herbs, toasted breadcrumbs (ideally panko), shaved Parmesan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a skillet or large shallow pan over medium-low heat. Stir in the shallots and cook slowly until translucent. While the shallots are cooking…

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP the cauliflower into 1″ pieces. Working in 2-3 batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor in short pulses, until roughly the size of grains of rice. There will be a combination of very fine pieces as well as larger pieces.

    3. TRANSFER the cauliflower into the pan with the shallots and turn the heat up to medium-high. Sauté while stirring, until the cauliflower begins to brown. Season with salt and pepper and add a 1/2 cup of the stock, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. When liquid has nearly evaporated…

     

    Cauliflower Risotto Recipe

    caulirisotto-230

    Top: Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower Risotto recipe with anchovy breadcrumbs, via Mimi Katz Chen. Here’s the recipe. Mushroom “risotto” made with cauliflower instead of rice. Recipe and photo courtesy Playing With Fire And Water.

     
    4. ADD another 1/2 cup of stock and turn the heat down until the liquid maintains a slow simmer. Continue stirring occassionaly, adding small amounts of liquid as necessary, until the cauliflower reaches the desired consistency. Remove from the heat. Crumble the cheese over the top and stir in until melted and creamy. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve.
     
    ANCHOVY PANKO BREADCRUMBS GARNISH

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 small can anchovies, including oil
  • 3 small dried red chilies†
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the breadcrumbs, anchovies and their oil, and the chilies in a food processor; pulse until mixed.

    2. HEAT the oil in a frying pan and fry the flavored breadcrumbs, tossing and toasting until golden brown. Set aside until you’re ready to garnish.

     
    ___________________________
    *Best melting cheeses: Asiago, Fontina, Gouda, Gruyère, Mozzarella, Provolone, Robiola Bosina (not regular Robiola), Taleggio.

    †Cherry peppers are mild, as are the larger green Anaheim chiles. The yellow-orange Aji Amarillo and the larger Cayenne chiles
    have medium heat. Thai chiles, also known as sprig kee nu and birdseye chile, are hot.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Riced Cauliflower, Cauliflower Rice

    Cauliflower Risotto

    Cauliflower Rice

    Flavored Cauliflower Rice

    Top: No rice involved—this mushroom “risotto” was made by HealthyFellow.com from riced cauliflower. Here’s the recipe. Center: JoyLoop brand is sold at Good Eggs | San Francisco, perhaps the most wonderful food purveyor in the U.S. Bottom: In the U.K., CauliRice.com sells plain cauliflower rice, plus Indian, Mediterranean and Thai flavors.

     

    Cauliflower rice, also called cauliflower couscous, is poised for fame. There’s no actual rice involved; it’s a grain-free rice substitute made from cauliflower, that can be used in just about every rice recipe from plain boiled to fried rice to risotto.

    Cauliflower rice—cauliflower chopped in a ricer, became popular with the Paleo Diet, and it is takes time to make it from scratch.

    Fortunately, the Paleo Diet is making people more aware of it, and small producers have begun to cut and package it. It can be found minced or pulverized, fresh and frozen.

    Who invented cauliflower rice? There may be several different “inventors” who first pulverized a head of cauliflower. The Italian supplier who makes other cauliflower products for Trader Joe’s ended up with lots of leftover florets and trim. Rather than toss them, Trader Joe’s says, “We put our heads together and came up with a new product made from this extra cauliflower.”

    Cauliflower is a nutritional powerhouse, a “superfood,” a term that evaluates foods based on their calorie density vis-a-vis their amount/types of nutrients. A member of the Brassica family, it is rich in immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C (also an antioxidant). It is low in calories and low on the Glycemic Index (GI). But there’s more:

  • Cauliflower contains more vitamin C per 100g than an orange.
  • It has a range of protective plant compounds (the antioxidants quercetin, beta carotene and caffeic acid) that help to reduce oxidative stress in the body, a key risk factor for cancer.
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and helps to alleviate symptoms of other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
  • Its sulphur compounds support detoxification in the liver, and promote levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • As with cauliflower mashed potatoes, you can pass it off to kids and adult finicky eaters as regular rice.
  •  
    WHERE TO BUY CAULIFLOWER RICE

    Now here’s the rub: Cauliflower rice is not yet available as widely as it should be. But it’s poised for fame and on its way: We recently spoke with a specialty food manufacturer who will be bringing it to market soon. In the interim:

     

  • Trader Joe’s imports it frozen from Italy. It was so popular that as of this writing, it is sold out and the retailer is waiting for a new shipment.
  • Joyloop Foods, in greater San Franciso, sells to some California retailers and online.
  • Paleo On The Go, a meal delivery service, packages it and sells it on Amazon.
  • You can buy Green Giant Cauliflower Crumbles in a Steam In Pack. Although the crumbles are larger than riced cauliflower, you can cook them al dente and rice them.
  •  
    And of course, you can make your own from a head of cauliflower.
     
    ______________________________
    *Brassica is the plant genus of cruciferous vegetables, nutritional powerhouses packed with potent, cancer-fighting phytonutrients (antioxidants). They include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga and turnips, among others.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CAULIFLOWER RICE

    Cauliflower rice can be buttered, sauced or otherwise made more flavorful by adding vegetables, herbs and/or spices. This recipe, from CauliRice.com, advises that homemade versions will taste more strongly of cauliflower and less like actual rice, but we have no issue with the homemade “rice.” Light seasoning, butter, etc. will mask any subtle cauliflower flavor.

    Prep time is 10 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper and/or other seasonings (herbs, spices)
  • Optional: cooking oil
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Food processor with an “S” blade, or a hand grater
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WASH the cauliflower and remove any leaves. Remove the main stem and set it aside for another purpose†. The fine stems that hold the florettes together need not be removed.

    2. CUT or break the florettes into chunks so they better fit into your food processor. Attach the ‘S’ blade and place the florettes into the processor bowl. Pulse until the cauliflower is the texture of couscous (course grains) or until all large lumps disappear. Do not over-process, as this will result in mushy cauliflower rice when cooked. If you have a particularly large cauliflower, or a small processor or hand grater, you may have to do this in batches.

    3. MICROWAVE for 3 minutes. Microwaving retains more moisture than dry-frying or oven baking, and is CauliRice’s preferred method. Place the cauliflower rice into a microwave-safe dish. Add a teaspoon of water—no more, or the cauliflower rice will become too wet. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or a lid. Cook for 3 minutes at 900 watts.

    4. LEAVE the cauliflower rice covered, and let it stand for another 2-3 minutes. It will continue cooking in its own heat. Add seasoning to taste and serve.

     

    Cauliflower Rice

    Trader Joe's Cauliflower Rice

    Top: Homemade cauliflower rice from TheKitchn.com. Here’s their recipe and a video. Bottom: Cauliflower rice from Trader Joe’s.

     
    _______________________
    †You can steam and slice or purée it, finely dice or slice and add to salads, add to soups and stews, etc. You can also stick it in the freezer and decide later.

     
    TO DRY FRY

    1. HEAT a tablespoon of your preferred cooking oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the cauliflower bits and spread evenly across the base of the pan. Cover the pan and cook for approximately 7-8 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. If you prefer a less crispy cauliflower rice, add a tablespoon of water to the pan about halfway through cooking—but be sure to cook this added moisture off before serving.

    2. Add seasoning to taste, and serve.
     
    TO OVEN COOK

    Oven cooking produces a drier, crunchier cauliflower rice that some people prefer, although it gives a less rice-like effect.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Spread the cauliflower pieces evenly across a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the cauliflower every 5 minutes or so.

    2. REMOVE from the oven, add seasoning to taste and serve.

      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.