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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for The Nibble

RECIPE: Turkey Cupcakes

You can find lots of turkey cupcake photos in Google, but these are the combination of easiest and best looking for the home baker to whip up.

If you have kids (or adults) who don’t like pumpkin pie—or if you want to bring a memorable house gift—bring two dozen of these! If you’re looking for a kids’ project, ditto: Give them frosted cupcakes and let them do the decorating.

You can bake your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe from scratch, use a cake mix, or in a pinch, purchase plain chocolate cupcakes. You can buy frosting or make your own.

While we enjoy the convenience of a cake mix—which is simply saves you the time of measuring and mixing the ingredients—we’re much fussier about homemade frosting. Most canned chocolate frosting tastes…canned. Here’s our recipe for homemade chocolate buttercream frrosting.

 
RECIPE: THANKSGIVING TURKEY CUPCAKES

Ingredients for 24 Cupcakes

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  •    

    turkey-cupcakes-sixsistersstuff-230

    Gobble up this gobbler. Photo and recipe © SixSistersStuff.com.

  • 16 ounce can chocolate frosting (or your favorite homemade chocolate frosting)
  • 1-1/2 cups chocolate sprinkles
  • 2 cups candy corn
  • 48 Wilton candy eyeballs (found at major grocery stores, baking supply stores or online)
  • Red frosting or strips of red fruit leather
  • Variation: 24 large malted milk balls for heads
  •  

    candy-eyes-1-8-inch-confectionaryhouseAMZ-230

    Candy eyes come in different sizes and colors. For this recipe you want the smallest size like these, which are 7/16″ in diameter. You can buy them online. Photo courtesy Confectionary House.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the cake mix according to package directions to make 24 cupcakes. Bake and let cool completely. Frost each cupcake with chocolate frosting.

    2. HOLD each cupcake upside down and dip into the chocolate sprinkles. For feathers, push five pieces of candy corn upside down into the top of the cupcake.

    3. ADD two candy eyeballs and push a candy corn into the cupcake for a beak.

    4. PIPE some red frosting next to the candy corn beak, or adhere a strip of red fruit leather.
     
    VARIATION: Use malted milk balls as the head; press into the cupcake. Affix the candy eyeballs with frosting, and pipe a small amount of yellow frosting, and a small amount of red next to it, as the beak and the wattle.
     
    Here’s the original recipe plus a video of the preparation. Find more delicious recipes at SixSistersStuff.com.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ICING & FROSTING

    The difference between frosting and icing is that icing is made with confectioners’ sugar (also called icing sugar or 10x sugar), while frosting is made with granulated sugar (table sugar).

    Because most people don’t understand this difference, the two words are often used interchangeably.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Gluten Free Gourmet Cookies

    chubby-wubby-cake-chicago-230sq

    Chubby Wubby: fun name, sophisticated flavor and gluten free. Photo courtesy Cake |
    Chicago.

     

    Everything is delicious at Cake, a Chicago bakery and NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week (we reviewed it under a previous name, Damn Good Cookies). You can send anything on the menu as a gift, and it will delight the most demanding recipients.

    It is not a gluten-free bakery, but there is gluten-free treasure to be found:

    If you’re on the hunt for a gluten-free cookie gift for someone with a discerning palate, look no further than their specially Chubby Wubby Defloured, a sophisticated, delectable, gluten-free chocolate cookie.

    The cookie sandwich is indeed chubby, Two bittersweet chocolate cookies, studded with chocolate chips, are sandwiched with a layer of chocolate ganache. Trust us: You’ll want more than one box.

    In fact, the original Chubby Wubby Chocolate Cookie, made with conventional wheat flour, was so popular that the gluten-free version was created. The conventional Chubby Wubby has led to a family of other Chubbies—different fillings with the same delicious chocolate cookies:

     

  • Chubby Wubby Caramel Cookies with buttery caramel ganache.
  • Chubby Wubby Hazelnut Cream Cookies with creamy chocolate hazelnut ganache.
  • Chubby Wubby Mint Cookie refreshing mint ganache.
  • Chubby Wubby Peanut Butter Cookies creamy peanut butter ganache.
  • Chubby Wubby Raspberry Cookies sweet and tart raspberry ganache.
  •  
    A 12-piece box is $32.00, a 16-piece box is $38.00. Get yours at Cake-Chicago.com.
     
    WHAT’S GANACHE?

    Ganache is a velvety smooth blend of chocolate and cream, often with butter added. It is used as a frosting for cake and as a filling for pastries and chocolates. Rolled into balls, it becomes a chocolate truffle.

    Here’s more about ganache and why it translates in French to idiot or imbecile.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cranberry Orange Margarita For Thanksgiving & Christmas

    If you crowd prefers Margaritas to other cocktails, that’s no surprise—the Margarita has been America’s favorite cocktail for some time (source: The Beverage Information Group).

    For the holiday season, Sauza Tequila tweaked the recipe to create a holiday version: Cranberry Orange Margarita. Since Margaritas already include orange liqueur, they substituted cranberry juice for the lime juice and voilà!

    Sauza made the recipe with Sauza Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila. You can use any silver (also called blanco [white] or plata [which means silver]) tequila. For reference, here are the different types of tequila).

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY ORANGE MARGARITA

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ parts silver tequila
  • ½ part Cointreau, triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • 4 parts cranberry juice
  • 2 parts orange juice
  • 2 large oranges
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  •  

    Cranberry Orange Margarita-sauza-230

    A Margarita for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Photo courtesy Sauza Tequila.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the garnishes: Freeze the cranberries. Using a channel knife (you can buy a combination channel knife and zester), cut a long spiral from one orange (try to do it in a single strip, all around the orange). Cut the peel strips into strips that are 6 inches long. Twist the peels around a bar spoon (or other slender spoon) and reserve for later.

    2. ZEST the other orange with a zester or spice grater to remove just the peel (none of the pith) and combine with sugar.

    3. CUT the zested orange into wedges. Rub a wedge of orange around the rim of the glass. Roll the glass through the sugared orange zest.

    4. COMBINE the rest of the sugar and orange zest mixture in a shaker with the cranberry juice, orange juice, tequila and orange liqueur. Twist the orange peel over the drink and place in the prepared glass. Top with the frozen cranberries and serve.
     
    MORE ON MARGARITAS

    Check out the history of the Margarita and more Margarita recipes.

    Find more tequila cocktail recipes at SauzaTequila.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Hors d’Oeuvre For Entertaining Or Snacking

    We found these photos on the Facebook page of Jarlsberg USA, and liked the idea for holiday entertaining as well as family snacking.

    Make four or five different versions to serve with cocktails, or one or two types for a TV snack. For a children’s activity, you can set out ingredients and let kids assemble their own snacks.

    The key to visual appeal is to offset the pale color of most cheeses with other, bright colored ingredients. Turkey and Swiss cheese may be a popular combination, for instance, but to the eye it’s beige and beige. Go for bright and appealing.

    Then, all you need are four-inch skewers, plain or twisted (for a fancier touch). Or, check out our festive party picks for stars, evergreen trees metallic fringe and colored cellophane tips.

    Use the list below to pick two or three ingredients to pair with the cheese. The skewers are plenty tasty as is, but you can serve them with a dish of honey mustard for dipping. You can buy honey mustard, or make your own by adding honey, sugar or noncaloric sweetener to mustard, in a proportion to your liking.
     
    COLORFUL CHEESES

    In addition to your favorite cheeses, consider options beyond beige. Check out these special cheeses with deep colors:

  • Cahill’s Farm Flavored Irish Cheddar in Elderberry (red marbled) or Porter (brown marbled) flavors (photo).
  •    

    skewers-jarlsbergUSA-fb-view2-230rev

    Two popular pairings with cheese: dried apricots and basil-tomato. Photo courtesy Jarlsberg USA.

     

  • Mimolette, a French cow’s milk cheese the color of a harvest moon, in the shape of a ball (photo).
  • Basiron Pesto looks like green cheese from the moon (photo).
  • Basiron Pesto Rosso, a Gouda-style cheese from Holland, with a harvest moon color that comes from the addition of tomatoes (photo).
  •  
    Then, it’s time to pick your add-ons:

     

    skewers-jarlsbergUSAFB-230rev

    Serrano ham and sundried tomatoes are bright additions to appetizer skewers. Photo courtesy Jarlsberg USA.

     

    PROTEINS

  • Ham cubes
  • Serrano ham slices
  • Pepperoni
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  •  
    VEGETABLES

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Blue or purple potatoes (cooked and sliced or cubed)
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Dilly beans
  • Gherkins/pickle slices
  • Pepperoncini
  • Pimento-stuffed olives
  • Red, orange or yellow bell pepper strips
  • Snow peas
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • FRUIT

  • Clementine/tangerine segments
  • Dried apricots
  • Kiwi
  • Mango cubes
  • Melon cubes
  • Pineapple cubes
  • Red or purple grapes
  •  
    Send us photos of your favorite creations!

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Patrón XO Cafe Incendio, Spicy Chocolate Liqueur

    patron-xo-cafe-incendio-230

    Deep chocolate, glowing heat. Photo courtesy Patrón Tequila.

     

    Like chocolate? Like chile heat? Have we got a drink for you!

    Following up on the success of their coffee liqueur, Patrón XO Cafe, Patrón Tequila has launched a chocolate version: Patrón XO Cafe Incendio.

    The name is a bit confusing. While there may be coffee (cafe) in the recipe, the drink presents as chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

    With a base of Patrón’s silver tequila, the deeply chocolatey liqueur uses premium quality criollo chocolate, blended with “Aztec spices”—so called because the Aztecs (and the Mayas before them) flavored their chocolate drink* with the heat of arbol chiles, plus vanilla, cinnamon, musk and cornmeal—no sweetener.

    Incendio, fiery, is the right word: This velvety liqueur with a luscious aroma is at once deeply chocolate and sizzling hot.

    After you buy a bottle for yourself, get some as gifts. You will be amado, beloved.

    In addition to sipping, enjoy it:

  • In cocktails
  • In dessert recipes
  • Over ice cream
  • In hot chocolate
  • In coffee
  • In chocolate milkshakes
  •  

    The suggested retail price for Patrón XO Cafe Incendio is $24.99.
     
    *For thousands of years before the chocolate bar was invented, chocolate was consumed as a beverage. Here’s the scoop.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cider Cocktails

    Cider cocktails: We don’t get enough of them. It’s our own fault, since we habitually order one of our three favorite cocktails instead of going for the seasonal specialty.

    Eating seasonally means drinking seasonally, too. So from now through the end of holiday season, we’re going to enjoy cocktails with fall and winter ingredients, returning on January 1st, National Bloody Mary Day, to our usual drink of choice.

    Thanks to ONEHOPE Wine for these two sparkling cocktails, made with regular cider and their sparkling wine (you can use any sparkler).
     
    RECIPE: PEAR & SPARKLING CIDER COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 8 Cocktails

  • Rim: 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup cinnamon, combinedd
  • 2 cups chilled pear nectar
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups sparkling wine
  • 4 ounces Bourbon
  • Garnish: 1 pear, unpeeled and cored cut into thin slices
    lengthwise
  •    

    Pear and Sparkling Cider-svedka-230

    Pear nectar, apple cider and sparkling wine unite in a seasonal sparkler. Photo courtesy Svedka Vodka.

     

    Preparation

    1. RIM flutes with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

    2. COMBINE pear nectar, apple cider, sparkling wine and Bourbon in a pitcher. Serve immediately, garnished with sliced pear.

     

    Apple Cider Mimosa-svedka-230

    We’re not sure why it’s called a Mimosa (Champagne and orange juice). Think of it as
    a Mimosa for Scotch lovers. Photo courtesy Svedka Vodka.

     

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER MIMOSA

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 ounce Scotch
  • 2 ounces fresh apple cider
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine
  • Garnish: apple slices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE brown sugar, Scotch and apple cider in a flute.

    2. TOP with sparkling wine and garnish with fresh apple slices.
     

    ABOUT ONEHOPE

    ONEHOPE is a social enterprise that integrates causes into products and services to make a social impact. ONEHOPE Wine, produced in California in partnership with Rob Mondavi, Jr., donates half of its profits to partner causes. Learn more at OneHopeWine.com.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Roasted Beets & Brussels Sprouts

    A marriage of two of our favorite fall vegetables with added bacon: What could be better? This side dish can take a place on your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner tables, or be served as part of a weekday dinner.

    The recipe is from the new Paleo Takes 5—Or Fewer cookbook, which focuses on recipes with five or fewer ingredients.

    Slow roasting the vegetables caramelizes them, to create extra sweetness along with a savory crunch. There’s more about the process of caramelizing below.

    If you’re not a fan of Brussels sprouts, here’s an alternative recipe: beets and carrots.

    RECIPE: BEETS & BRUSSELS SPROUTS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound (454 g) bacon
  • 6 beets, cubed into small pieces
  • 24 Brussels sprouts, cleaned thoroughly
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, quartered
  • 1 tablespoons (4 g) dried thyme or 3 tablespoons fresh thyme*
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup (62 g) pistachios, once cooked, and toasted
  • Optional garnish: fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  •    

    beet-brussels-sprouts-paleotakes5ckbk-230r

    A luscious marriage of fall vegetables from the new Paleo Takes 5—or Fewer cookbook.

     

    *The typical ratio to substitute dried herbs for fresh, or vice versa: 1/3 part dried herbs equals 1 part fresh herbs.
     

     

    paleo-takes-5-230

    This book has healthy Paleo Diet dishes that use far fewer ingredients than many Paleo recipes. Photo courtesy Page Street Publishing.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F (176°C).

    2. ARRANGE the slices of bacon on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake for about 20 minutes in the oven until crispy. Remove with tongs and set aside on a plate to cool. Reserve the bacon fat for cooking the vegetables.

    3. ADD the beets, Brussels sprouts and garlic to a large roasting pan. Drizzle with the reserved bacon fat. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly using the tongs. Roast in the oven on the middle rack for about 45 minutes until everything has caramelized slightly. In the meantime…

    4. TOAST the pistachios on the stovetop in a small pan over medium heat. Transfer the contents of the roasting pan to a large bowl and top with pistachios. Use tongs to toss all ingredients together.

    5. ADD crumbled goat cheese and serve.

     
     

    WHAT IS CARAMELIZING?

    At its most basic level, caramelizing is chemistry. At 338°F, sugar begins to break down at a molecular level and form new compounds. To our eyes and understanding, this means it turns brown and becomes caramel—a broad term that extends to more than just candy and sauce.

    Let’s use onions as our example. Not only do they have a very high natural sugar content—which is helpful when caramelizing—but they are also the most typical item one caramelizes.

    Every time you caramelize an onion, you’re heating its molecules to 338°F, causing the water to evaporate and the sugars to change. It’s as simple as that.

    The process of caramelizing—the caramelization of the sugar inside the onion or other food—is a type of non-enzymatic browning, not involving amino acids, that is different from a Maillard reaction.† Instead, the sugar is oxidized.

     
    †The brown caramel color in certain foods comes from a reaction between the sugar and an amino acid in food. Called the Maillard (my-YARD) reaction after the French physician and chemist Louis Camille Maillard, it’s a form of non-enzymatic browning that usually requires heat. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. The color and flavor of toasted bread and nuts; barbecued, roasted and seared meats; and roasted coffee (and many other flavors) are the result of Maillard reactions. And of course, caramel candy is the result of a Maillard reaction.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Japanese Chicken Noodle Soup

    Today is National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day, honoring a series of books that have been warming hearts for twenty years with their inspirational stories.

    While some might use the day to feed the soul, we’re doing some traditional feeding with a twist on chicken noodle soup: Japanese chicken soup from Haru restaurant in New York City.

    Udon is a thick wheat flour noodle of Japanese cuisine, typically served in hot chicken broth.

    RECIPE: CHICKEN UDON SOUP: JAPANESE CHICKEN
    NOODLE SOUP

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 5-1/2 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 8 ounces boneless chicken breast, cut into slivers
  • 4 medium-sized shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 scallions, julienned into two-inch pieces
  • 4 handfuls baby or regular spinach, stems discarded
  • 1 package dried or frozen udon noodles
  • 1 tablespoon hot sesame oil
  •  

    clear-chicken-broth-haru-230

    The Japanese version of chicken noodle soup. Photo courtesy Haru Restaurant | NYC.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the stock, soy sauce and mirin in a medium saucepan over high heat, and bring to boil. Lower the heat and add the chicken and mushrooms. Simmer 4-5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. In the meantime…

    2. BOIL the noodles per package instructions. Drain and split evenly between four bowls. Ladle the hot broth, chicken and vegetables into each bowl.

    3. DRIZZLE some in sesame oil and garnish with scallions. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Squash For Pumpkin Pie & Other Pumpkin Desserts

    pumpkin-pie-whole-230

    What’s in your pumpkin pie? Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    If your only experience in baking pumpkin pie is “from the can,” you have no idea what kind of pumpkin is inside. In fact, it’s probably not pumpkin, but a different type of squash.

    If you’ve ever tried to scoop the flesh from a big, orange pumpkin and turn it into pie, you probably don’t want to do it again! Wrangling the fibrous pumpkin flesh isn’t easy.

    But there is a solution, known to pumpkin pie bakers: butternut squash. It’s also the “pumpkin” you should ue in pumpkin flan and other pumpkin desserts.

    To prove the superiority, author and cookbook writer Melissa Clark, a popular food writer at The New York Times, tested different squashes to determine for once and for all what the best choice is for a pumpkin pie. She found that butternut squash tied with acorn squash for the best flavor, although butternut delivers better color.

    Butternut squash is very easy to work with; the skin slips right off with a vegetable peeler. Her tasting notes are adapted below. You can read the full article here.

     
    Why not take the easy road and use canned pumpkin? Fresh really does taste fresher and brighter, says Clark.

    She’s done all the heavy lifting (and roasting, and scooping) to prove it.

     

    Acorn Squash: Honeyed, moist, not too fibrous.

    Blue Hubbard Squash: Hard to cut through the rind, granular texture. The flavor was pleasing and delicate, but the flesh wasn’t as sweet as some of the others.

    Butternut Squash: Deep and richly flavored, sweet, with relatively smooth flesh that is easy to purée. THE WINNER!

    Carnival Squash: Neither tender nor sweet not tender.

    Cheese Pumpkin: Unwieldy and heavy to carry home, difficult to through skin, granular and watery flesh. The bright, fresh flavor works for savory dishes but not for pie.

    Delicata Squash: Mild, velvety flesh but not sweet enough for pie.

    Kabocha Squash: Dense and velvety flesh but a vegetal flavor that is terrific for savory dishes.

     

    pumpkins-rowanngilman-230

    What you don’t want to use in pumpkin pie: pumpkin! Photo by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.

    Sugar Pumpkin (the “pie pumpkin): It’s neither sugary sweet nor very tender, but fibrous and bland tasting. Save them jack-o’-lanterns. (And they have the best seeds for roasting, says Clark).

    Spaghetti Squash: Stringy, watery and not sweet enough for pie.
     

    Check out the different types of squash in our Squash Glossary.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Is It Stuffing Or Dressing?

    Classic_Herb_Stuffing_mccormick-230

    Plain stuffing with just the basics: bread,
    celery and onions. It really needs some
    augmentation. Mushrooms make a huge
    difference. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    What’s the difference between stuffing and dressing, readers ask?

    Stuffing the cavity of animals with another dish is an ancient practice. The earliest documentary evidence is the Roman cookbook, “De Re Coquinaria,” “On Cooking, from about 100 C.E. (It is still in print, in English translation. Get a copy on Amazon.com.) The book contains recipes for stuffed chicken, hare, pig, and, yes, dormouse.

    In addition to stuffing the body cavity of birds, fish and mammals, various cuts of meat are stuffed after they have been deboned, or a pouch has been cut into them. Examples include stuffed chicken legs, stuffed pork chops and stuffed breast of veal.

    Vegetables can also be stuffed, from cabbage, where the individual leaves are stuffed and rolled, to potatoes and zucchini, where the flesh is removed, combined with other ingredients, and stuffed back into the shell.

    Names for stuffing in the English language evolved as well. Wikipedia mentions farce (~1390), stuffing (1538), forcemeat (1688) and dressing. After 1880, the “stuffing” was replaced by “dressing” in Victorian English.

     

    WHAT’S IN STUFFING?

    Most of the stuffings described in “De Re Coquinaria” consist of vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts, spelt (also known as dinkel wheat or hulled wheat) or other grain. Other popular ingredients included brains, chopped liver and other organ meats.

    Similar ingredients are still used today. The main difference is that bread is often the base into which the other ingredients are mixed. Turkey stuffing usually consists of day-old (or older) bread, cut into cubes or dried into croutons, mixed with celery, onion, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper and herbs such as sage or summer savory. Add-ins range from fruit and oysters to giblets and pancetta.

     

    WHY ARE BOTH “STUFFING” & “DRESSING” USED IN THE U.S.?

    There is a difference.

    “Stuffing” is self-explanatory: The ingredients are stuffed into the cavity. But in the South, “dressing” is the prevailing term, even if the bird is stuffed in exactly the same way.

    Why? Because old Southern tradition dictated that holiday fowl be hunted and cooked on the day of the feast itself. It was a time crunch to get the bird cleaned and cooked in time for dinner, and a hollow bird cooks faster than a stuffed bird. Thus, the side dish was not stuffed into the bird, but cooked alone.

    In the process, stuffing is cooked at a higher temperature for a longer period than a separate pan of dressing; so it is usually drier. Older dressing recipes were created to have more of a sauce-like consistency, so it could be poured over the food.

    So if the discussion arises at your Thanksgiving dinner, consider yourself prepared!

     

    stuffing-bellasunluci-230

    Cornbread stuffing dressed up with sundried tomatoes, fresh sage and grapes. Photo courtesy Bella Sun Luci.

     

      

    Comments

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