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

Archive for Gourmet Foods

TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Fluffernutter & Fluffernutter Cookies For National Fluffernutter Day

Fluffernutter Sandwich

Marshmallow Fluff

Kerfluffle Gourmet Fluffernutter

Marshmallow Plant & Root

[1] The classic Fluffernutter sandwich: peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff on white bread (photo courtesy Quaker). [2] Marshmallow Fluff was first sold commercially in 1910 (photo courtesy [3] Kerfuffle, a ready-to-spread all natural Fluffernutter blend (photo courtesy Kerfluffle Nut Butter). [4] The marsh mallow plant has pretty flowers, but the sap in the root makes marshmallows (or it did, until it was replaced by gelatin). Photo courtesy


National Fluffernutter Day is October 8th, honoring the classic peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwich on white bread (photo #1).

The original Marshmallow Fluff was introduced more than 75 years ago and is still made by Durkee-Mower Inc. Some brands call it marshmallow cream, others marshmallow creme.

What’s the difference between cream and creme? Just the spelling. Creme is an Americanization of the French word for cream, crème? (pronounced KREHM).

Why adapt a French word instead of good old American cream? Most likely adapted to make the dish sound more special. There’s no need to misspell and mispronounce another language’s word for cream. Unless it’s a French recipe, such as Coeur à la Crème, stick to cream.


Marshmallow dates back to ancient Egypt. The marsh mallow plant that was plentiful along the banks of the Nile has a slippery sap that forms a gel when mixed with water. The Egyptians mixed the “juice” with honey to make a confection, reserved for the wealthy and the gods.

The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder credited the sap with curing all sorts of diseases, and encouraged people to drink the juice daily, although it wasn’t very palatable (what happened to the honey?). Still, for centuries the sap was used to treat sore throats, skin conditions and other maladies.

Marsh Mallow Sap Gets Replaced With Gelatin

In the mid-19th century, a pharmacist in Paris came up with the idea of whipping the sap with sugar and egg whites into a light, sweet, fluffy throat remedy. A variation soon became popular as marshmallow candy.

By the late 19th century, confectioners had determined how to mass-produce marshmallows, which included eliminating the sap entirely and replacing it with gelatin.

Prepared gelatin was patented in 1845. In addition to setting aspics, it was desirable as glue, a use that also dates back to the marsh mallow plants of ancient Egypt.

Prior to 1845, it was laborious to render and clarify gelatin from cattle and pig bones, skin, tendons and ligaments.

Marshmallow sauces were popular in the early 20th century (see Marshmallow History). But to make marshmallow sauce or frosting required that the cook first make marshmallow creme.

It was a two-step process: make a sugar syrup, melt marshmallow candy in a double boiler, and combine them with the syrup. But, the popularity created an opportunity.
Commercial Marshmallow Cream Arrives

In 1910 a marshmallow cream called Marshmallow Fluff was sold to ice cream parlors by Limpert Brothers, a company that still exists in New Jersey. You can see the original packaging here.

Call greater Boston the home of marshmallow cream!

  • Brother and sister Amory and Emma Curtis of the Curtis Marshmallow Factory in Melrose, Massachusetts, created Miss Curtis’ Snowflake Marshmallow Creme in 1913. It was the first commercially successful, shelf-stable marshmallow creme. Curtis ultimately bought the Marshmallow Fluff brand from the Lippert Brothers (details).
  • In 1917, Archibald Query invented a creation he called Marshmallow Creme in Somerville, Massachusetts.
  • Marshmallow Fluff wasn’t the first marshmallow cream, but it’s the one that endured. More than 100 years later, the brand is still thriving.
    Unlike conventional marshmallows, which require gelatin (an animal product) or a seaweed equivalent to set, todays large marshmallow brands are kosher products made from corn syrup, sugar, water, egg whites, artificial flavor, cream of tartar, xanthan gum and artificial color.

    Marshmallow Fluff is certified kosher by OU, Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme by OK Kosher.

    Ricemellow Creme, manufactured by Suzanne’s Specialties, Inc., is a vegan equivalent.


    In 1917, during World War I, Emma Curtis published a recipe for the Liberty Sandwich, which consisted of peanut butter and Snowflake Marshmallow Creme on oat or barley bread. The recipe was published in a promotional booklet sent to Curtis’ customers in 1918, and is believed to be the origin of today’s Fluffernutter sandwich.


    You can make your own version of Fluff at home, with this recipe.

    Beyond the original (vanilla), you can make chocolate “Fluff,” gingerbread, etc.

    You’ll love the flavor from pure vanilla extract; and can make gift batches for Fluff-loving friends and family.



    Christine Fischer of Wry Toast created these Fluffernutter cookies and sent them to PB & Co., producers of gourmet peanut butters.

    Here are step-by-step photos on

    Prep time is 15 minutes for 15 sandwich cookies.

    We made substitutions, as noted below, to trade the salty elements (butter crackers, bacon) for sweeter ones (cookies and banana chips).

    Ingredients For 15 Cookie Sandwiches

  • 30 butter crackers (Ritz, Town House, etc.)
  • 5 tablespoons Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter (from PB & Co.)
  • 1/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff or other marshmallow cream
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bacon, cooked

    1. LINE a medium-size baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. SPREAD a small amount of peanut butter on half of the crackers/cookies, then a small amount of fluff on the other half. Sandwich together, then transfer to baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

    3. COMBINE the chocolate chips and coconut oil in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for approximately one minute until melted, stirring at the 30-second mark to avoid burning.

    4. REMOVE the frozen sandwiches from the freezer. Dip each halfway in melted chocolate, then return to baking sheet and sprinkle the bacon on top. Repeat until all sandwiches have been coated and topped, then return to the freezer until the chocolate is set, at least an hour.

    For The Crackers

    We tried these, all with very satisfactory results:

  • Graham crackers
  • Le Petit Écolier (Little Schoolboy) cookies (omit the chocolate chips)
  • Shortbread
  • Social Tea Biscuits
    For The Coconut Oil

  • Melted butter
    For The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter

  • Plain PB or any flavor that beckons
    For The Marshmallow Cream

  • Actual marshmallows
    For The Bacon

  • Banana chips
    You’ve got a few days before National Fluffernutter Day to determine your favorite combination.


    Fluffernutter Cookies

    Fluffernutter Cookies

    Little Schoolboy Cookies

    Social Tea Biscuits

    [5] Fluffernutter cookies topped with bacon from Christine Fischer. [6] Preparing the cookie sandwiches (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Wry Toast Eats). [7] Le Petit Écolier biscuits topped with a chocolate bar were our favorite variations (photo courtesy LU). [8] Social Tea Biscuits are similar to Le Petit Écolier, without the chocolate bar (the recipe’s chocolate chips provide the chocolate (photo courtesy Nabisco).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Jarlsberg Cheese From Norway

    Jarlsberg Cheese Plate

    Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps

    Jarlsberg Wheel

    [1] Jarlsberg from Norway: the top special cheese in the U.S. [2] Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps in four flavors: Chipotle, Garlic & Herb, Mediterranean Sea Salt and Rosemary & Olive Oil. We’ve been enjoying them plain, with soup and salads, and with dips. [3] “What big eyes you have,” said Goldilocks to the Jarlsberg. Eyes is the industry term for what consumers call holes (photos courtesy Jarlsberg).


    Sixty years ago, a group of students and scientists at the Agricultural University of Norway decided to explore old legends and cheese-making traditions, and to create an old cheese with modern cheese-making technology.

    The origin of the modern cheese they created traces back to the early 1800s when Swiss cheese makers came to southern Norway to teach Norwegians how to make cheese.

    Norwegians began to produce their own cheese similar to Swiss cheese, but after the departure of the Swiss, the particular style did not endure.

    Fast forward: 1956 arrives, along with the students who had a project under the direction of their professor, Ole Martin Ystgaard of the Dairy Institute at the Agricultural University of Norway. Their project: to revive an old-style cheese.

    They studied ancient texts and recipes, experimented, and created a wonderful cheese they named Jarlsberg® (pronounced YAHRLS-berg).

    It was named after Count Vadel Jarlsberg, whose countship was created in 1673. His estate was located near where the earlier version of the cheese was first produced.

    A mild, semisoft, part skim, pasteurized cheese made from cow’s milk, Jarlsberg has been beloved from the beginning for its mild, sweet and nutty taste and the appeal of its large round holes (eyes).

    It is Norway’s most famous edible export, the #1 cheese imported to the U.S., and the #1 specialty cheese* brand in the U.S.

    As a bonus to millions of Americans, it’s also lactose-free†.

    Bravo, Professor Ystgaard and team. Who wouldn’t love bragging rights to this creation: for oneself and for generations to come!

    Jarlsberg is one of the most versatile cheeses. More than a table cheese and sandwich cheese, it can be:

  • Melted for cheese sauces, fondues, gratins, grilled cheese sandwiches and rarebits/rabbits (here’s how to melt cheese).
  • Shaved as a garnish for salads and soups.
  • Used for cheeseburgers (so much tastier than American cheese!), mac and cheese, omelets, quiche and other cheese tarts.
    The line has expanded to include:

  • Hickory Smoked Pre-Sliced Jarlsberg.
  • Grab-and-go mini cheeses for snacking (voted Men’s Health Best Snack Award for 2014 and 2015).
  • Jarlsberg Cheese Snacks (shaped like string cheese).
  • Jarlsberg Lite, a reduced-fat rindless cheese (not a good melter—you need more fat to melt well).
  • Cheese crisps: cheese crackers in four flavors (photo #3).
    For starters, see some of the recipes below.
    *Specialty cheese is defined as a cheese of limited production, with particular attention paid to natural flavor and texture profiles. The opposite is factory cheese, mass-produced.

    Cheddar and authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano are the other two cheeses that are 100% lactose free.



    Each of the world’s cheeses is made from a specific recipe, which includes both the type(s) of cheese cultures and the production techniques. Both combine to deliver each cheese’s unique flavor, aroma and appearance.

    Jarlsberg enchants not only with its flavor, but with its eyes.

    Emmental, the first cheese with large eyes, is what Americans think of as Swiss cheese—although there are more than a dozen different types of Swiss cheese, including Appenzeller, Raclette, Gruyère, Tête de Moine, Tilsit and Vacherin Mont d’Or. (Emmental, Gruyère and Vacherin Mont d’Or are also made in France.)

    Some Swiss have eyes, some don’t.

    Some people find Jarlsberg similar to French Gruyère, which has holes. Modern-style Swiss Gruyère does not.

    The larger the holes, the more mature the cheese. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a stipulation that the “eyes” in “grade-A Swiss” can be no larger than 13/16 of an inch in diameter.

    Why? Because larger eyes can make the cheese difficult to slice on modern cheese-slicing equipment. The blades were catching on the large holes and shredding the cheese rather than slicing it.
    Why Does The Cheese Have Holes?

    The holes in cheese are a deliberate byproduct‡ of fermentation, the process by which milk is turned into the curds that are used to create cheese.

    They are the result of propioni bacteria, which cause gas to expand within the curd and create the holes’

    The longer cheese ages, the bigger the holes get, and the more intense flavor is developed.

    Head to for dozens of new and familiar recipes, such as:

  • Artichokes au gratin
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Cannelloni and other pasta dishes
  • Cheese and corn muffins
  • Crab fondue
  • Jarlsberg soufflé
  • Gravlax Eggs Benedict
  • Kale salad, chicken salad and other salads
  • Mac and cheese
  • Gratin, mashed and twice-baked potatoes
  • Nachos
  • Onion soup
  • Sliders
  • Waffle grilled cheese
  • White Pizzas

    Jarlsberg Eggs Benedict

    Jarlsberg Cheese Plate

    [3] Jarlsberg Eggs Benedict. [4] A Croque Monasieur sandwich made with Jarlsberg instead of Gruyere (photos courtesy Jarlsberg).


    ‡In recent centuries the eyes a deliberate part of recipes, and can be created larger or smaller. In the beginning, the eyes were a happy accident. They certainly do have eye appeal! (Pun intended.)



    COCKTAIL RECIPE: Pumpkin Martini


    Pumpkin Vodka

    [1] Pumpkin Pie-tini. Photo courtesy SandAndSisal, which uses a different recipe from ours, with whipped cream vodka, pumpkin eggnog and a rim of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. [2] Pinnacle is one of the brands of pumpkin-flavored vodka on the market. Pumpkin is a seasonal offering.


    Today is National Vodka Day, and it’s fall. So what better than a pumpkin martini?

    To make a true pumpkin martini, you’ll need a bottle of clear, pumpkin-flavored vodka and the other ingredients for your favorite martini recipe. We picked up a bottle of Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka, which gave a pumpkin-pie-spice accent to a standard martini. For garnish, we floated a star anise on top.

    Otherwise, you can make a Pumpkin Pie-tini with vanilla vodka and real pumpkin purée (top photo). If you want a spicier drink, use pumpkin pie filling instead of purée; pie filling includes the pumpkin pie spices.


    Make one of these as a test drink. You can then decide to vary the ingredients—more or less of something, pumpkin vodka, etc.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce cream, milk or eggnog
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée or pumpkin pie filling
  • ½ ounces vanilla vodka
  • 1½ ounces crème de cacao or vanilla liqueur
  • Ice and shaker
  • Optional glass rim: maple syrup, honey or water plus crushed biscotti, graham crackers or vanilla wafer crumbs
  • Optional garnish: sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice with or without whipped cream, or a cocktail pick with candy corn

    1. PURÉE the purée. Why? Pumpkin purée can be slightly grainy. For a smooth cocktail, run the pumpkin through a food processor or use an immersion blender in the can.

    2. CREATE the glass rimmer. Using a small amount of maple syrup, honey or water on the rim of the glass, place the rim on a plate of cookie crumbs and twist until the rim is coated.

    3. SHAKE the cream/milk and pumpkin puree with ice to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and shake well. Strain into the martini glass.


    All you need are vanilla beans and vodka…and 10 days to let them infuse.

    If you’ve had the vanilla beans for a while, check to see that they’re not dried out. If they are, get new beans and stick the old ones in a sugar jar, where they’ll lightly scent the sugar.

    If you don’t need an entire bottle of vanilla vodka, make half a bottle.

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 750 ml vodka
  • Empty glass quart jar with cap

    1. CUT the vanilla beans in half lengthwise to expose the interior as possible (that’s where the flavor is).

    2. POUR the vodka into the glass jar, retaining the original bottle for the final product.

    3. PLACE the vanilla beans in the jar, cap it tightly and shake gently. With a quart jar, the top 20% should be empty. Then put the bottle in a cool, dark place to infuse.

    4. STRAIN the vodka after 10 days. Use a funnel and a fine sieve, coffee filter or cheesecloth to strain the vanilla vodka into its original vodka bottle. You’re ready to go!


    TIP OF THE DAY: Beyond Taco Tuesdays & National Taco Day

    October 4th is National Taco Day, and this year it coincides with Taco Tuesday. What does that mean?

    Tacos for breakfast (recipe below), tacos for lunch, tacos for dinner, tacos for dessert. But first:


    SUrprisingly, the Aztecs did not invent the taco; nor did anyone else, until the 18th century.

    According to Professor Jeffrey M. Pilcher, author of Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, tacos are not an ancient food.

    Rather, as he discusses in an article in Smithsonian Magazine, Mexican silver miners in the 18th century likely invented the taco as a hand-held convenience food, followed by taco carts and taquerías in the working-class neighborhoods.

    As the taco spread throughout Mexico, each region added its own touches: meats, spices, salsas, garnishes.

    Mexican Americans in the Southwest reinvented it. As late as the 1960s, tacos were virtually unknown outside Mexico and the American Southwest.

    In 1962, businessman Glen Bell founded Taco Bell as a drive-up with a few outdoor tables. It grew into a mass-marketing powerhouse, serving an Anglo version with a hard shell at quick-service restaurants nationwide.

    This hard pre-fried corn tortilla shell (photo #2) is not authentic. Like the burrito, a larger wheat flour tortilla, it was born in the U.S.A.

    Yet within 50 years the United States had shipped its hard taco shells worldwide, from Australia to Mongolia—redefining the taco in the eyes of millions, if not billions.
    And Taco Tuesday?

    This American event was begun in in 1982 as a successful promotion by Taco John’s. It encouraged people to go out for tacos on Tuesday nights, and offered specials like $1 fish tacos.


    Mole Tacos

    Pre-Fried Taco Shells

    [1] An upscale taco in the classic mold. This one includes braised beef and mole sauce, with cottage cheese Here’s the recipe (photo courtesy McCormick. [2] Hard fried taco shells are an American invention. They stand up on their own (photo courtesy Old El Paso)!

    Since tacos are easy to make at home and popular with the whole family, Taco Tuesdays is also a frequent event in home kitchens.

    While Taco John’s trademarked the name, the trademark is no longer enforced. Now, it’s Taco Tuesdays for everyone!

    You may think that National Taco Day is a day to celebrate the classics; but as you do, put on your thinking cap and invasion the next great taco combination you can make.

  • Sophisticated tacos. Chefs at better restaurants are pushing their creativity to transfer icon dishes to tacos. Try these braised beef tacos in mole sauce (photo #1).
  • Put your own spin on it. Ground beef tacos became cheeseburger tacos, for example. Grilled, sliced steak is popular in northern Mexico, and our tony friend Ordway wanted to try the concept with filet mignon. We made them for his birthday, with a sauce of melted gruyère, crème fraîche and salsa verde, a Mexican-French fusion. (May we say, it was a silly excess but very appreciated by the birthday boy. We’ve since gone with braised short ribs or lamb shank—DEE-licious.)
  • Trio of tacos. Our favorite dish at our neighborhood Tex-Mex restaurant is a trio of tacos, each with a different filling. Why choose just one?
  • Specialty tacos for every occasion, like these corned beef and cabbage tacos for St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Sashimi tacos. Fish tacos are great, but sushi lovers will adore these sashimi tacos as well. The shell is made from wonton wrappers. Fillings can be anything you like. Haru restaurant in New York City serves three full-size tacos: tuna with cherry tomato salsa, salmon with avocado and striped bass with apple yuzu ceviche sauce.
  • Dessert tacos. Whether they’re in a sideways waffle cone resembling a hard taco shell, or in a waffle from your waffle maker, this is fun food. How can you resist? Here’s the recipe. Warning: It’s not the neatest ice cream sandwich to eat. It’s best served on a plate at the table.

    Breakfast Taco

    Breakfast Burrito

    Dessert Taco

    From breakfast to dessert: [3] Breakfast taco with scrambled eggs and sausage (photo courtesy Imusa, recipe below). [4] A DIY set-up from David Burke Fabrick | NYC. [5] A simple dessert taco in a waffle cone shell (photo courtesy Add as many toppings as you like. You can use a waffle maker to make a soft waffle shell.



    Unlike the American-invented breakfast burrito, essentially an egg-and-sausage wrap sandwich, this recipe is truer to Mexican preparations.

    There’s a fight between Austin and San Antonio over the origin of the breakfast taco.

    At first, it was a breakfast made at home: eggs, sausage or other pork and cheese, rolled in a warm tortilla. In Mexican kitchens, tortillas are a staple, like a loaf of bread.

    The concept then migrated to breakfast stands and restaurants, as far back as the 1950s.

    Thanks to IMUSA USA, a maker of kitchenware for global recipes—for this breakfast taco recipe. You can find more recipes on their website.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 chorizo links (about 7 ounces), diced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup cilantro, divided
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar
  • 10-12 corn flour tortillas
  • Chipotle-flavored Tabasco or other hot sauce (substitute ketchup)

    1. MIX the sour cream, lime juice and salt in a bowl; put aside.

    2. CHAR the tortillas over a gas flame or directly on an electric burner until blackened in spots, turning with tongs. Place in a tortilla warmer or aluminum foil and set aside.

    3. ADD the olive oil to a nonstick sauté pan and bring to medium-high heat. Sweat the onions for about one minute and add the diced chorizo. Cook for 5-6 minutes until chorizo is browned.

    5. ADD half of the cilantro and all of the cooked chorizo to the beaten eggs. Blend and pour into the pan. Cook on low heat, stirring from time to time.

    6. PLACE the cooked eggs, cheddar, tomatoes and remaining cilantro in separate bowls and lay them out throughout the table with the warm tortillas. Let everyone build their own.




    FOOD FUN: Vertical Pear Salad

    Jessica, from The Novice Chef Blog, isn’t such a novice. She designed this elegant pear salad that is easy in its execution, yet dazzling on the table.

    You can vary the filling, the color of the pear, and/or the vinaigrette.

    If you prefer, you can make candied nuts instead of simply toasting them.

    For more vertical salads, see our vertical veggie ideas.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 smooth skinned pears)
  • 2-3 cups watercress, arugula or baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond, pecan or walnut halves (how to toast nuts)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute blue or goat cheese)
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinaigrette dressing
  • Optional plate garnish: pomegranate arils
    For The Vinaigrette


    Pear & Blue Cheese

    So elegant, so easy: a vertical pear salad from The Novice Chef Blog.

    This salad begs for a sweeter vinaigrette. Use champagne, raspberry, sherry or white balsamic vinegars. Walnut oil is heavenly in this type of vinaigrette, but good olive oil is fine.

    Another option is to add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup (a nice fall touch) to your usual vinaigrette.

    Whichever you choose, choose a ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

    Here’s the best technique to make a vinaigrette that holds together without separating.

    1. SLICE the pears horizontally into 3 or 4 slices depending on the size. Leave the stem on the top piece.

    2. USE a paring knife to remove the cores, creating a “donut hole” in the middle. Brush the cut sides with lemon juice to keep them from browning. When you’re ready to serve…

    3. MOISTEN the watercress, pecans and blue cheese with the vinaigrette and toss to coat.

    4. ASSEMBLE the pears on individual plates, with the watercress salad in between each slice.

    5. DRIZZLE the vinaigrette on the plate around the pear, and serve.
    Thanks, Jessica: You rock!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Stack Your Vegetables

    Vegetable Stacks

    Stacked Fritters

    Stacked In Rocks Glasses

    [1] Stacked vegetables as short or tall as you like (photo courtesy Citrine World Bistro, late of Redwood City). [2] Stack polenta or fritters, like these from Like It Short (website no longer up). [3] If you don’t want to deal with ring molds, stack your veggies in rocks glasses (photo courtesy The Whole Gang.


    These look fancy, don’t they?

    But you can easily make vegetable stacks at home, even with leftovers.

    While many people currently are focused on stacked salads in mason jars, we’re freeing the veggies from the jar today, and serving them cooked as well as raw. Even those who don’t like their vegetables will be happy.

  • Serve stacked veggies as a first course, with the cheese course. You can add wedges of cheese to the plate, or slice layers into the stack (blue, brie, chèvre, feta, mozzarella, etc).
  • Serve them as a luncheon or dinner salad with a layer of protein (chicken, fish, protein salads [egg, crab, tuna, etc.], tartare, tofu, veggie burgers, etc.)

  • In ring molds. You want 3-4 inch rings, as tall as you can find so they can be used for short and tall stacks.
  • In rocks glasses.
  • In repurposed food cans, tops and bottoms removed*.
  • In lengths of PVC† plumbing pipes, cut to order at the hardware store.
    *Don’t worry about PVC leaching into your food. You’re not cooking/heating the rings, and you’re only using them for a couple of minutes to assemble, as opposed to plastic bottles that can hold water for months or years.

    †One of the problems with using the time-honored empty can for stacking is that many cans now have “formed” bottoms that stack more easily, but can’t be removed with a can opener. So don’t throw away expired canned food without checking to see if you can use the empty can! Also, look for the older can bottoms with foods from Mexico and Asia, from packing plants that still use the old technology.


    Ingredients can be whatever you want or already have, and in whatever form: cooked, puréed, raw.

    Be sure to vary the colors (you don’t want a stack of beige ingredients) and include pops of color.

  • Canned: beets, corn, water chestnuts
  • Color: red, yellow or orange bell peppers, tomatoes and all of these
  • Eggs: hard-cooked or Japanese omelet (tamago)
  • Fruit: sliced or diced (apple, mango, pineapple, etc.)
  • Garnishes: fresh herbs (try a dill or rosemary plume), chip, spiraled beets
  • Grains and starches: polenta slices, potato (diced, mashed, sliced), rice, quinoa, etc.
  • Greens: arugula, avocado, cress, spinach, spinach, zucchini, etc.
  • Plate garnish: chopped nuts, infused olive oil, seeds, microgreens
  • Sides: gourmet chips or crackers, toasted baguette slices
    Pinterest has a page of lovely stacked vegetable ideas.

    For The Dressing

    You need just a light sauce on the side: ramekins of balsamic vinegar, a vinaigrette, infused oil‡ or a vegetable oil blended with dark sesame oil (a little goes a long way).

    Also consider dipping sauces from Asia, such as chili sauce or ponzu. Both can be purchased or made at home.

    We also love a yuzu vinaigrette.

    1. CHOOSE your ingredients. Try for contrasting colors and plan your layers. Stack heavier items at the bottom.

    2. SPRAY the inside of the molds, if using, so the food slides out more easily.

    3. SET each stack on a serving plate, and garnish the plate with droplets of olive oil (especially flavored oil!).
    ‡A delicious alternative to a vinaigrette, infused oils are available in a score of flavors: basil, blood orange, chile (ancho, habanero, jalapeño), dill, garlic, Meyer lemon, lemon pepper, oregano, rosemary, truffle, scallion, wasabi, etc.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Start A Soup Club

    In 2011, four friendly neighbors who, among them, have four spouses, 10 kids and jobs, realized that they could benefit from each others’ home cooking.

    They simply had to make and share a bigger batch of something.

    They decided on tasty, nutritious, filling, relatively inexpensive, and easy to make and transport soup. And the first soup club was born.

    In the manner of holiday cookie swaps but once a month, they cooked and shared soup.

    The idea was a success, and three years later they produced The Soup Club Cookbook: Feed Your Friends, Feed Your Family, Feed Yourself.

    Once a month, each soup club member takes a turns cooking a big pot of soup, making enough to feed all four families. He or she then drops off the soup, along with garnishes and an optional salad or side, at the homes or workplaces of the three other members.

    Share once a month and get the large part of a meal once a week? Sounds good to us! Several of us at THE NIBBLE enjoy soup for lunch, and a small container of quality takeout soup can cost $7.

    The Soup Club Cookbook includes 150 recipes for soups and sides, and storing tips for stretching those meals across the week. It’s also a guidebook for starting your own soup club: the logistics, the essential tools and stories to caution and inspire.

    Whether for family dinner or workplace lunch, give it a try. You can start by getting the book, available in paperback or Kindle.

    Cconsider it as a gift for someone you’d like in your club (or who could benefit by starting a club).

    Co-workers, gym buddies, book club members, school friends, neighbors—everyone from students to seniors—can participate.

    All you need are four people who want more home-cooked food, and who like the same types of ingredients (vegetarians vs. omnivores, for example).

    The idea isn’t to eat together, although that could be a pleasant by-product sometimes.
    NO BOOK?

    If you prefer to wing it, start here:

  • Find three other co-workers, friends or neighbors who are like-minded.
  • Have a starter meeting and pick a day of the week when soup will be delivered (the “soup day”).
  • Decide on a soup philosophy. Do you want hearty soups that can be light meals? Low calorie? A different theme every month (vegetable, international, etc.)?
  • Establish preferences. Spicy? No garlic? No gluten?
  • Do you want to include some kind of salad as well?
  • Need a whole meal? Consider adding a casserole, wings, etc.

    Soup Club Cookbook

    Miso Soup

    Salad In Container

    [1] Start your own soup club (photo courtesy Clarkson Potter). [2] Miso vegetable soup, an interesting recipe from [3] Your club can choose to add a salad—green, bean, grain, pasta, etc.—or other side (photo courtesy

  • Discuss the containers you’ll deliver the food in. If everyone has the same type, you don’t need to return the empties.
  • Be prepared to test and refine your process, so that it works for everyone.
    One day a week, when thinking about lunch or dinner, you’ll be able to say: Soup’s on!



    RECIPE: Chicken Liver Crostini…Or Maybe Foie Gras

    Chicken Liver Crostini

    Chicken Livers On Baguette Toast

    Torchon With Toasted Baguette

    Dartagnan Foie Gras Torchon

    [1] This recipe from Emiko Davies at Honest Cooking is popular in Tuscany (it also contains mushrooms). [2] Food Network adds a garnish of chopped hard-boiled egg and sliced radishes (recipe). Other colored vegetables also work, from asparagus and coronations to grape tomatoes. [3] A torchon of foie gras with toasted baguette (photo courtesy Elle France). [4] You can purchase a ready-to-eat torchon from D’Artagnan.


    Crostini and bruschetta have entered the American mainstream over the past 20 years (here’s the difference).

    At better restaurants, a bowl of soup is often served with a side or floating garnish of crostini, which can be simple toasted baguette slices (or other bread) and a side of butter or other spread; or topped with anything from cheese (blue, brie, feta, goat) to mashed avocado and bean purée.

    As millions of Americans get ready to enjoy the customary chopped liver Rosh Hashanah dinner, take a detour from the customary on saltines, rye or pumpernickel. Make chicken liver crostini.

    You can make them with store-bought chopped chicken liver or mousse, but we always keep the tradition going with our Nana’s recipe.

    Nana served her chopped liver with Nabisco saltines or Stoned Wheat Thins. When we were young, Mom had moved beyond those to party pumpernickel and [homemade] rye toasts.

    Other families prefer triangles of white toast or rye bread. We like baguette crostini or (for a chopped liver sandwich) rye bread.

    At Passover, chopped liver is served with matzoh.

    Crostini is the Italian name for croutons—not American salad croutons, but small size pieces of toast like a sliced, toasted baguette or a similar Italian loaf. They’re splendid with chopped liver, and are commonplace in Italy as a base for chopped liver.

    European chopped chicken liver dates back perhaps 3,000 years. The chicken, which originated in [take your pick—the jury is still out] Africa, China or the Middle East, didn’t get to Western Europe until about 1000 B.C.E.

    You can bet that every part of the bird was used, including the innards. We’ve seen some European recipes that of the chopped the liver liver together with the heart and gizzard, no doubt as their ancestors did.

    Many Americans think of chopped chicken liver as Jewish cooking, served at holidays and special events. But it’s also served by European Christians.

    In Tuscany, Crostini di Fegatini (chicken liver crostini) is on every Christmas table—made by nonna (grandma), or with her recipe, and spread on crostini. As in Jewish households, its served for every birthday dinner or special occasion meal, and can be found on “the menu of literally every trattoria in Tuscany,” per Emiko Davies, a food writer and photographer specializing in Italian cuisine.

    Here’s her recipe, adapted from one of those Tuscan trattorias.

    On the opposite side of the country, in Venice, the recipes use butter and calves liver. In France, heavy cream and cognac (no surprise there!).

    As much as we love Nana’s chicken liver, for us the ultimate chicken liver crostini is not chicken liver at all, but a slice of a duck liver torchon or terrine (a.k.a. foie gras) on toasted brioche.

    The liver comes fully prepared, with nothing to do except slice it and make the crostini.

    If you’re used to spending on good steaks, you can afford it. A 5-ounce torchon (good for 10 or more slices) is $39.99 and a 1-pound torch is $99.99, at

    It makes a lovely gift for a foie-gras (or chopped liver) lover.

    In addition to room temperature chopped liver on crostini, you can also serve crostini topped with warm sautéed chicken livers and onions. Just slice the livers into pieces after sautéing.

    For some food fun, serve a duo of chicken liver crostini as an appetizer: one with chopped liver, one with sautéed liver.

    What’s the difference between an appetizer and an hors d’oeuvre? See below.


    This recipe calls for schmaltz, rendered chicken fat. Some European cultures use butter, cream or olive oil. Just keep to these fats.

    We once were served chopped chicken liver at a Passover seder, made with mayonnaise! The guest who brought it must not have been able to find or make schmaltz. We will never forget that taste (think of pastrami or corned beef with mayonnaise). Oy.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes, plus optional chilling time. Nana insisted on making the liver at least a half-day in advance, to allow the flavors to meld in the fridge.

    Chopped Liver Consistency

    Depending on the preferences of the cook, chopped liver can be coarse, medium, or blended into a mousse-type consistency with some extra fat.

    Our preference is medium-to-mousse, but cooks with less time can go rustic. It’s just as tasty; we just a finer texture on the palate.


  • 2 pounds fresh chicken livers, rinsed and patted try
  • 1 cup rendered chicken fat (schmaltz—recipe below)
  • 2 cups yellow onions, medium to fine dice
  • 4 extra-large eggs, hard-cooked and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Optional: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or thyme leaves (or more parsley
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1. CHECK the livers and remove any fat or membrane. Heat a large sauté or fry pan to medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of rendered chicken fat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden but not brown—about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the onions to a large plate and wipe out the pan.

    2. COOK the livers 1 pound at a time. Place the livers in the same pan in a single layer, and season them with salt and pepper. Add three more tablespoons of fat and turn the heat to high. When the fat begins to shimmer, place the livers in the pan in a single layer. Cook the livers for 2 to 2-1/2 minutes per side until browned, turning once. You want to to get the insides just pink. Never overcook liver!

    3. TRANSFER the livers to the plate with the onions and repeat with the second pound of livers and 3 more tablespoons of fat. Let the cooked livers to cool on a platter.

    4. CHOP the livers and onions to your desired consistency. If you don’t have great knife skills, the time-honored Jewish technique is to use a mezzaluna and a wooden chopping bowl. You can buy them as a set, but it’s much easier—and less expensive—to use a double-blade mezzaluna and purchase a separate 12″ wood bowl. You can use the mezzaluna to chop vegetables or anything else; and the wood bowl doubles as a salad bowl, chip bowl, etc.

    Don’t plus in a food processor without experimenting to see if you can get the consistency you want (it could end up like mousse). If you do use a processor, pulse in small batches so the bottom won’t liquefy before the top ingredients are well chopped.

    5. ADD the chopped eggs, herbs, seasonings and the remaining chicken fat to the bowl. Toss to combine. If you want a finer consistency, continue chopping. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    *You can substitute turkey livers. Here’s a party-size recipe from the New York Times.



    If you love chopped liver as much as we do, play around with the recipe and see which suits you. Some people like less hard-boiled egg mixed in; others leave it out of the liver and use it as a garnish on top. Some people like more herbs and onions, some people prefer less.

    Some people like the Italian custom of adding wine or fortified wine, the addition of fresh sage and garlic, and shallots instead of yellow onions.

    Our favorite chopped liver appetizer preparation is our own Four-Onion Chopped Liver Crostini: chopped liver and onions (the basic recipe above), with a garnish of caramelized onions, some pickled onions on the side (red onions or cocktail onions), and a plate garnish of minced chives. Wowsa!
    Optional Mix-Ins

    Don’t use them all at once to find your ideal chopped liver recipe. Test small batches to see what you prefer.

    After you cook one or two pounds of livers, divide the batch and add the additional flavors you want to try.

    Some of the following are Italian touches; others were incorporated to Jewish-style chopped liver we’ve had along the way. If add adding wine or spirits, add them the last few minutes of cooking the livers.

  • 1/4 cup reconstituted dried mushrooms or sautéed fresh mushrooms, both finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pancetta, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves minced sautéed garlic
  • Heat: a pinch cayenne or chipotle powder, splash of hot sauce, etc.
  • Wine or spirits: 2 tablespoons dry white wine, port, madeira, marsala, sherry, vin santo; or 1 tablespoon brandy or 80-proof spirit
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
  • Crunch: ½ stalk celery or 1/2 large carrot, finely chopped
    Optional Garnishes

  • Apple or fig slicet
  • Baby arugula
  • Caramelilzed onions (delish!)
  • Chutney, fig or sour cherry jam, etc.
  • Coarse sea salt, plain or flavored
  • Cornichons, halved
  • Cress, microgreens or sprouts
  • Fresh herbs: parsley, sage, thyme
  • Hard-boiled eggs or yolks only (for more color), chopped
    †Aside from a garnish, you can create bottom layer of sliced apple or fig, with the chicken liver on top.


    Plan ahead: Save the uncooked chicken fat and skin you trim from chicken instead of throwing them away. Freeze them, and when you have enough, defrost and you’re ready to render.

  • You can also get chicken fat—often free—from butchers, who throw it away (except kosher butchers, who know their customers will buy it). Ask at your butcher shop or supermarket meat department.
  • You can also collect the fat from homemade chicken soup. Refrigerate it and skim the solid fat that rises to the top. It won’t be a whole lot, but every few tablespoons count.
  • You can see the entire process in photos from Tori Avey (who uses a slightly different recipe than we have here).
    Get Ready To Enjoy Gribenes

    The by-product of rendering the skin for fat are cracklings: crispy pieces of chicken skin. In Yiddish they’re called gribenes (grih-beh-NESS) or grieven (GREE-vin), which means “scraps” in Hebrew.

    They’re a prized treat to eat on potatoes or anything else. When a whole chicken is being used for soup and the skin isn’t needed (it just adds fat that needs to be skimmed off later), it can be cut into strips for gribenes. Cooked with sliced onions, the result is memorable.

    Ready to render?
    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup Or More‡

  • 8 ounces chicken fat and/or raw skin, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
    ‡Rendering fat only produces more schmaltz than rendering fat with skin.



    Chopped Liver With Caramelized Onions

    Chopped Chicken Livers

    Chicken Liver Crostini With Chutney

    Chicken Liver Mousse

    Chicken Liver Mousse

    [5] This double garnish from is a dynamite combination of caramelized onions and fresh sage. [6] Arugula garnish (photo courtesy [7] Kings uses a garnish of baby sage and cranberry sauce or chutney (the recipe). [8] Chef Craig Wallen whips the livers into mousse consistency and garnishes the crostini with coarse sea salt (the recipe; photo by Stephanie Bourgeois). [9] Alton Brown serves DIY crostini, with individual ramekins of chicken liver mousse and a side of toasts. His recipe uses cream and cognac (photo courtesy Food Network).

    1. COMBINE the chicken fat and any skin in a small saucepan, along with the thyme, garlic and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.

    2. COOK until the fat has rendered (liquefied) and the skin pieces are crispy, about 35 to 45 minutes. As liquid fat fills the pan, drain it into a measuring cup or other vessel; the gribenes will take longer to get crisp.

    3. EAT the gribenes as soon as possible after they come out of the pan. Don’t refrigerate; they’ll go limp. These delicious cracklings can be eaten with potatoes, garnish a salad or chicken/turkey sandwich, grits or polenta, etc. Both Nana and Mom ate them straight from the pan.

    4. COOL the chicken fat slightly, then strain it into a lidded jar. It will keep for up to one week, maybe longer.

    The terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference:

    Hors d’oeuvre (there’s no extra “s” in French: it’s the same spelling singular or plural), pronounced or-DERV, refers to finger food, such as canapés, served with drinks prior to the meal. The name means “outside the work,” i.e., not part of the main meal.

    French hors d’oeuvre were traditionally one-bite items, artistically constructed. Today, the category of has expanded to mini quiches, skewers, tarts; baby lamb chops; stuffed mushrooms, etc.

    An appetizer is a first course, served at the table and in larger portions. While you can plate multiple hors d’oeuvres as an appetizer,

    What about crackers and cheese, crudités and dips, salsa and chips, and other popular American foods served with pre-dinner drinks? Since they are finger foods, you can call them hors d’oeuvre. American hors d’oeuvre.



    TIPS OF THE DAY: Double Strain Your Cocktails & Pumpkin Liqueur For Fall

    This tip is for people who can’t abide citrus pulp, whether in their juice or their cocktails.

    Bartenders use an extra strainer, beyond what is built into a cocktail shaker or standard bar strainer.

    All you need is a fine mesh strainer, which has multiple uses in the kitchen.

    Hold the strainer over the glass and pour from the shaker through the strainer. Mission accomplished!

    From from September through November, you can find pumpkin liqueurs on the shelves.

    Our favorite is Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur is a cream liqueur: delicious in shots, cocktails and for pouring over vanilla ice cream.

    We also are partial to Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice, which blends their coffee liqueur with the spices: a great combo.

    Most pumpkin liqueur are pumpkin pie spice-flavored rather than pumpkin-flavored. We like that Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur is just sweet enough, not overly sweet. Some are positively cloying.

    At 140 calories per 1.5-ounce shot, Fulton’s is a better dessert choice than a slice of pumpkin pie!

    We use our pumpkin liqueurs for Pumpkin Martinis and as after-dinner drinks, straight or in coffee.

    For recipes, check for how to add the liqueur to banana bread, cookies, French toast, ice cream, muffins and more drinks.

    This season, consider a different cocktail “glass”: a baby pumpkin. It’s sure to delight at Halloween, Thanksgiving or anytime during the fall.

    You can wash, dry and freeze the pumpkins in food storage bags in advance; and wash and re-freeze them to use again fall. And of course, you can serve this pumpkin cocktail in a rocks glass.
    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces whiskey of choice
  • 1 ounce Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce white creme de cacao
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon honey (we left it out)
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Ice
  • Optional: baby pumpkin, scooped out
  • Optional: mint leaves for garnish, pumpkin pie spice, whole clove

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously with ice.

    2. STRAIN into chilled cocktail glass—or a baby pumpkin, or a pumpkin mug.


    Straining A Cocktail

    Cocktail In Baby Pumpkin

    Fulton's Pumpkin Pie Liqueur

    [1] Straining a cocktail at Artisan restaurant in Paso Robles, California. [2] Pumpkin cocktail in a baby pumpkin (photo courtesy American Alibi Whiskey). [3] Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur, a limited fall edition (photo courtesy Fulton’s Harvest).

    3. GARNISH with a mint leaves, a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice and a whole clove.
    BEER LOVERS: Here’s a Pumpkin Beertail for you.



    RECIPE: Dried Fruit Tart For Rosh Hashanah Or Anytime

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/star of david lattice tart marthastewart 230

    Dried fruit tart with Star Of David lattice. Photo © Martha Stewart Media.


    What we love about this tart is that for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, the lattice crust is woven strips of pâte brisée in a Star of David pattern.

    If the pattern looks familiar to non-Jews, it’s because it’s the weave used in classic chair caning.

    Even if you don’t celebrate the Jewish New Year, make this lattice-topped tart. Per the recipe on, “The star pattern is easier to make than you might guess.”

    The filling in the tart is made from dried fruits—apricots, cranberries and prunes—that are poached in a spiced vanilla-cognac syrup.

    Here’s the recipe on

    You can use the same lattice on any pie or tart.




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