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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 Recipes

RECIPE: Roasted Cherry Tomato Cups

roastedtomato-solo-triscuit-230

Crunchy Triscuit cups. Photo courtesy
Nabisco.

 

Just in time for Labor Day lounging, the folks at Triscuit sent us this fun appetizer idea. Who’d have thought of soaking Triscuits to form crunchy cups?

You can fill the cups with anything, from hummus to artichoke dip; but start with colorful cherry tomatoes and enjoy with a glass of wine or beer.

Prep time is 25 minutes, total time is 45 minutes. You can find more recipes on the Triscuit website.

RECIPE: ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO CUPS

Ingredients For 24 Pieces

  • 24 Triscuit Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (recipe follows)
  • 24 tiny sprigs fresh thyme, optional for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

    2. FILL a 9-by-13-inch pan halfway with warm water. Add Triscuit crackers in 2 batches and soak, turning twice until just soft, about 2 minutes, no more than 3 minutes.

    3. OIL two 12 cup or one 24 cup mini muffin tins. Press a softened Triscuit into each cup, pressing and molding any cracks together. Sprinkle each with cheese. Bake until firm and slightly more golden, about 25 minutes. When ready to serve…

    4. FILL each cup with a roasted cherry tomato, and drizzle a little sauce over top of each one. Garnish with thyme and serve immediately.
     

    RECIPE: ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

    Prep time 5 minutes, cook time 40-45 minutes.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Arrange tomatoes and garlic in a non-reactive 9×5-inch baking dish/loaf pan (see note below on non-reactive cookware).

    2. WHISK together olive oil, vinegar, thyme, sugar and salt. Drizzle over tomatoes and garlic.

    3. BAKE until the tomatoes are wilted and caramelized, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool. You can pre-make and store cooled tomatoes and juices in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

    WHAT IS A NON-REACTIVE PAN?

    Cookware can be made of reactive or non-reactive materials. Reactive materials can interact negatively with acidic foods and light-colored foods, and should be avoided in preparing these them.

  • Reactive Pans: Aluminum and copper are two popular cookware metals that conduct heat extremely well, but react chemically with acidic foods, imparting a metallic taste. They also can discolor light-colored foods like soups and sauces. (Metal utensils—spoons or whisks, for example—can also react with these food, so opt for silicone or silicone-coated.)
  •  

    Triscuit_BOX_Rosemary_Olive_Oil-230

    How many different varieties of Triscuit are there? The answer is below. Photo courtesy Nabisco.

  • Most copper pots and pans are lined with tin to prevent any reaction, but the tin can scratch easily and expose the food to the copper underneath. Similarly, anodized aluminum provides some protection; but it’s best to choose a different vessel. Note that while cast-iron is considered reactive, we and our colleagues have cooked tomato-sauce based recipes for years in a heavy cast iron pot, with no problem whatsoever.
  • Non-Reactive Pans: Non-reactive cookware is made from clay (terracotta), enamel, glass, plastic and stainless steel. While they don’t react with food, these materials don’t conduct or retain heat as well as the reactive metals. Stainless steel cookware can be made with an aluminum or copper bottom to better conduct the heat. Glass cookware retains heat well but conducts it poorly. Enamelware is non-reactive but can easily scratch and chip.
  •  
    TRISCUIT TRIVIA

    When you think Triscuit, do you think “shredded wheat?” That’s what they’re made from!

    Now made by Nabisco, Triscuit snack crackers were invented in 1900 at the Shredded Wheat Company of Niagara Falls, New York. They were awarded a patent in 1902, and commercial production began in 1903.

    For their first 20 years, Triscuits were not today’s two-inch squares, but 2-1/4 by 4-inch rectangles. In 1935, the manufacturer began spraying the crackers with oil and adding salt.

    In 1984, new flavors were introduced, and the crackers were made even crisper. We counted 21 varieties:

  • Whole Grain Wheat Line: Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil, Dill & Olive Oil, Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil, Garden Herb, Hint of Salt, Original, Original Minis, Reduced Fat, Rosemary & Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic, Wheat Rye With Caraway Seeds.
  • Brown Rice & Wheat Line: Cinnamon Sugar, Roasted Red Pepper, Roasted Sweet Onion, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Sour Cream & Chives, Sweet Potato & Sea Salt, Tomato & Sweet Basil, BWasabi & Soy Sauce.
  • Thin Crisps Line: Original, Parmesan Garlic.
  •  
    In terms of where you find the supermarket shelf with all of these tempting choices, we know not!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Plum Poppyseed Cake

    plum-poppyseed-cake-goboldwbutter-230

    Old-fashioned and delicious: Plum Poppyseed
    Cake. Photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com.

     

    Poppy seeds or plums: Which is less commonly found in baked goods?

    We don’t have the answer, but our response is: Both should be used more often, starting with this delicious recipe. And don’t tarry: plums are a summer fruit.

    Poppy seeds, obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), have been harvested for thousands of years. The seeds are used, whole or ground, in recipes and are pressed into poppyseed oil.

    Poppy seeds have long been cultivated in the Middle East; the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians farmed them. The Minoans, a Bronze Age civilization on Crete (circa 2700 to 1450 B.C.E.), cultivated poppies as a sleeping aid, and also for their effect on fertility, wealth and the magical power of invisibility. (Gee, how did those work out?) [Source]

    Plums are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Enjoy them as a hand fruit, sliced into green salads or fruit salad, served with cheese, and of course, baked into something sweet. In addition to the recipe below, consider a plum Tatin* or a plum tart with a base of crème pâtissière.

     
    Popular plum cultivars include:

  • Damson plum, with purple or black skin and green flesh
  • Greengage plum, firm green flesh and skin
  • Mirabelle plum, a flavorful dark yellow plum largely grown in northeast France, it’s a banned import†, but you can find them at farmers markets and buy trees to grow your own
  • Satsuma plum, with firm red flesh and red skin
  • Victoria plum, yellow flesh with a red or mottled skin
  • Yellowgage or golden plum, a yellow sibling to the greengage plum
  •  
    *Tarte Tatin is a one-crust fruit pie invented by accident in France in the early 1880s. It is served upside-down; the apples are on the bottom with the crust on top. The Tatin sisters, Caroline and Stéphanie, ran the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, southwest of Paris in the Loire Valley, not far from the town of Chambord. Stéphanie, preparing an apple tart, erroneously put the apples in the pan without the crust underneath. The apples caramelized, the customers loved it and the Tarte Tatin was born. You can adapt this recipe for Quince Tatin.

    †The ban is based no particular reason we could find, but likely has historic roots that are no longer relevant, but remain mired in bureaucracy that no one is motivated to resolve.

     

    This recipe, by Karen of FamilyStyleFood.com for Go Bold With Butter, calls for red plums. While you can use any plum variety, red, and secondly, purple plums, provide the best color. The best color will come from a red plum with red flesh.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 1 hour, 30 minutes

    RECIPE: RED PLUM POPPY SEED CAKE

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 firm-ripe plums, halved, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar
  •  

    damson-plums-230

    Damson plus. Photo courtesy Washington
    State Fruit Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch tube pan.

    2. CREAM butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, using a heavy-duty mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the yogurt and vanilla until combined, scraping down bowl if needed.

    3. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in bowl. Add to the butter mixture and stir on low speed until batter is just combined.

    4. SPOON the batter evenly into pan. Arrange plums over top and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean.

    5. COOL the cake in the pan on a rack until completely cool. Invert onto a serving plate and slice.

    6. STORE any leftover cake tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Plum, Burrata & Pepita Salad

    plum-burrata-salad-beeraw-230r

    Summer plums with creamy burrata: a great
    union. Photo courtesy Bee Raw.

     

    We’re always in the mood for burrata. After making grilled grapes with burrata a few days ago, we whipped this up yesterday.

    This recipe combines fresh summer plums, creamy burrata cheese, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and honey into a dish that’s called a “salad,” but consider it a cheese course dessert.

    The contrasting textures, flavors, and colors are what we should aim for in every dish.

    The recipe is from Bee Raw Honey, which used its star thistle honey for extra special flavor. You can substitute pluots for the plums.

    Star thistle honey, harvested from wild star thistle plants in Colorado, is thick and creamy with hints of cinnamon. It also pairs well with apples—drizzled over apple slices or added to baked or roasted apples.

    RECIPE: PLUM SALAD WITH BURRATA, PEPITAS & HONEY

    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 6 ounces burrata cheese
  • 3 plums
  • A a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • A a few tablespoons star thistle or other honey
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • A few sprigs fresh mint
  • Preparation

    1. BREAK the burrata into about 24 bite-sized pieces,

    2. PIT and slice plums into 8 slices each, set aside.

    3. LAY out four salad or two dinner plates. Divide the burrata pieces equally among plates. Top the Burrata with plum slices. Dot plates with olive oil and honey, covering cheese and fruit with each.

    4. SCATTER each plate with pumpkin seeds and mint; serve immediately.

     

    WHAT IS BURRATA?

    Somewhere around 1920 in the town of Andria in the Puglia region of southern Italy, a member of the Bianchini family figured out how to repurpose the curds from mozzarella making. Burrata was born, a ball of mozzarella filled with creamy, ricotta-like curds. Cut into the ball and the curds ooze out: a wonderful marriage of flavors and textures.

    Their burrata was premium priced, made in small amounts, and remained the delight of the locals for some thirty years.

    In the 1950s, some of the local cheese factories began to produce burrata, and more people discovered its charms. Only in recent years, thanks to more economical overnighting of refrigerated products, did we find it in New York City’s finest cheese shops.

    Now, you can find domestic burrata anywhere there’s a Trader Joe’s. It’s just as delicious!

     

    sliced-whole-230

    Love that burrata! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    WHAT’S A PLUOT?

    Pluots, plumcots and apriums are all hybrid combinations of plums and apricots, but with different percentages of each parent fruit’s DNA. The names are trademarked by their respective breeders.

    They were developed to present the best qualities of both fruits. For the consumer, this means more sweetness and juiciness; for the grower, easier to grow, harvest, and ship.

  • A plumcot is 50% plum/50% apricot. Developed by Luther Burbank in the 1920s, it is sweeter than either parent.
  • The pluot, also known as a “dinosaur egg” because of its speckled skin, was created by a California fruit breeder who wanted to improve on the plumcot. A pluot, sweeter than a plumcot, is primarily plum, with a range from 60% plum/40% apricot to 75% plum/25% apricot spanning more than 25 varieties. Because of the percentage of genes, it has the flavor of a plum but the mouthfeel of the apricot. Pluots have a higher sugar content and a more complex flavor profile than either a plum or an apricot.
  • An aprium is the reverse of the pluot: a mix of 70% apricot/30% plum, though it can vary, as long as it is 60% apricot or more. It looks like an apricot, but is sweeter than either an apricot or a plum.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Crescent Dogs On A Stick

    crescent-dogs-2-230

    Crescent Rolls + Hot Dogs + Crescent Dogs. Photo and recipe courtesy Pillsbury.

     

    You don’t need a grill to cook memorable Labor Day fare. Make that classic fun food, Crescent Dog on a Stick, in your oven.

    A hot dog wrapped in a cheese and a Pillsbury Crescent roll, the stick is actually optional (as is the cheese). You can layer other flavor bursts inside the crescent, such as pickle relish or chopped jalapeños.

    The recipe is easy and the experience will be remembered happily for a long time. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.

    RECIPE: CRESCENT DOGS ON A STICK

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 8 hot dogs
  • 4 slices (3/4 oz each) American, Swiss or other cheese slice, each cut into 6 strips
  • 1 can (8 ounces) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 8 wooden corn dog sticks
  • Condiments of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Slit hot dogs to within 1/2 inch of ends; insert 3 strips of cheese into each slit.

    2. SEPARATE the dough into triangles. Wrap a dough triangle around each hot dog. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, cheese side up.

    3. BAKE at 375°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Insert 1 stick in each crescent dog and serve.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: The Easiest Peach Pie Is A Galette

    It’s National Peach Pie Day, peaches are in season and there’s no reason not to make a luscious peach pie. It’s just fresh peaches and a bit of sugar in an easy, handmade crust.

    If you’re not a natural pie baker, there’s a simple way to do it that requires absolutely no skill in rolling a crust. It’s a galette, also called a rustic pie or rustic tart.

    Galette (gah-LET) is a term with multiple meanings, depending on the category of food. In the pastry world, a galette is a rustic, round, open-face fruit pie. It is flat, with a flaky, turned-up crust that wraps around the filling to creates a “bowl.” It hails from the days before people had pie plates

    RECIPE: GALETTE AUX PÊCHES, RUSTIC PEACH PIE

    Ingredients

  • 4 ripe peaches,* sliced into eighths
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (you can use less, especially if the peaches are very sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Optional: 1 cup blueberries (see this variation from
    McCormick.com—see photo below)
  • Pâte sucrée (sweet pastry dough—recipe below)
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  •    

    peach_galette_2_froghollowfarm-230

    A peach galette. If you don’t want to bake, you can order this one, or send it as a gift, from Frog Hollow Farm. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm.

  • Optional garnish: crème fraîche, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    *You may end up needing more peaches, depending on their size. So you may want to have a few extras on hand, or fill in with blueberries.
     

    Galette Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, discard the plastic wrap and place the dough between two pieces of parchment or wax paper (or you can just use a floured surface).

    2. ROLL out the dough into a 13″ circle. Do not force or stretch the dough.

    3. TRANSFER the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. (The dough can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.)

    4. TOSS the peach slices gently with the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Arrange them in concentric circles atop the crust, leaving an edge of 2 inches. Fold over the edge of the dough up, one fold at a time (you should have five folds). Press on the corners to seal the tart.

    5. BRUSH the beaten egg white on the 2″ dough border. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly before serving if you want a warm pie. It’s also delicious at room temperature or straight from the fridge.

     

    blueberry-peach-galette-mccormick-230

    Peach galette with blueberries. Photo
    courtesy McCormick.

     

    RECIPE: PÂTE SUCRÉE, SWEET PASTRY DOUGH

    Pronounce this dough pot soo-CRAY. It’s the buttery crust used for tarts.

    The dough can be made up to two days in advance.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
  •  
    Crust Preparation

    1. PULSE the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the chilled butter cubes, continuing to pulse until the mixture looks crumbly and there all pieces of butter are about the size of a pea. Gradually pulse in the cold water until the mixture still looks crumbly, but holds together when pinched.

    2. MOVE the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, cover with another piece of plastic wrap and firmly press into a disk. Place the dough in the fridge and chill for an hour or longer.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F and follow the instructions for Galette Preparation, above.

      

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Grapes With Burrata

    Here’s something we’d never have thought of, and we’re grateful to the folks at GQ for sending us the recipe.

    It’s a showstopping appetizer or cheese course that takes literally one minute to cook: red grapes with burrata cheese. Developed by chef Jeff Mahin, the dish has become a staple at his Stella Barra Pizzerias in L.A. and Chicago.

    “While using gas or charcoal to make it is fine, I prefer a screaming-hot wood grill,” says Jeff. “Just remember that when cooking with wood, you want to cook over glowing ruby red coals rather than the flame itself. Cooking directly over an open flame can impart a sour and soot-like flavor, which is never a good thing.”

    Note that since grapes will invariably fall off the bunch while you’re grilling them, a vegetable grilling basket will come in handy.

    RECIPE: GRILLED GRAPES WITH BURRATA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound bunch seedless red grapes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 balls burrata cheese
  • Sea salt and olive oil
  • Rustic bread
  •  

    grilled-grapes-Peden+Munk-GQ-230r

    So simple, and unbelievably delicious. Photo courtesy GQ Magazine.

     

    Preparation

    1. WASH the bunch of grapes carefully under cold water and allow them to dry.

    2. WHISK together in a bowl: olive oil, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, chile flakes, garlic cloves. Add grapes and toss until coated. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

    3. PLACE bunch of grapes onto the center of a hot grill, using tongs. Grill for 30 seconds. Turn. Grill for another 30 seconds.

    4. RETURN grapes to marinade to cool for at least 10 minutes, coating them periodically.

    5. CUT grapes into small bunches. Plate. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar. Serve with grilled bread and a half ball of burrata (or fresh mozzarella) seasoned with sea salt and olive oil.

    Find more delicious recipes in the GQ Grill Guide.
     
    ABOUT BURRATA CHEESE

    Somewhere around 1920 in the town of Andria in the Puglia region of southern Italy, a member of the Bianchini family figured out how to repurpose the curds from mozzarella making. Burrata was born, a ball of mozzarella filled with creamy, ricotta-like curds. Cut into the ball and the curds ooze out: a wonderful marriage of flavors and textures.

    Their burrata was premium priced, made in small amounts, and remained the delight of the locals for some thirty years.

    In the 1950s, some of the local cheese factories began to produce burrata, and more people discovered its charms. Only in recent years, thanks to more economical overnighting of refrigerated products, did we find it in New York City’s finest cheese shops.

    It was love at first bite…and enough Americans thought so that burrata is now made domestically. You can find it at Trader Joe’s.

    For dessert, here’s a delicious burrata and fresh fruit recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Party With Veggie Sandwiches

    philly-cheesesteak-portabella-230rl

    Pile grilled veggies onto a sandwich. Photo
    courtesy Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

     

    Why wait for Meatless Mondays to have a great veggie sandwich? Every healthcare professional advises eating less animal protein and more vegetables and grains. And of course, eating less meat is far better for the environment.

    So start by switching some of your sandwich intake to delicious vegetarian sandwiches. It’s painless!

    While we love a sliced avocado and tomato sandwich using local summer tomatoes, we think that grilled vegetables make the best vegetarian sandwiches. While it’s still prime grilling season, develop some signature veggie sandwich recipes. You can even turn the concept into a veggie sandwich party—a build-your-own sandwich buffet.

    Creative flavor layering is at the heart of a great veggie sandwich. Peruse the following groups for inspiration, and offer something from each group.

    GROUP 1: HEARTY VEGETABLES, GRILLED OR ROASTED

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Bok choy
  • Broccolini
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Onions
  • Poblano Chiles
  • Portabella mushrooms
  • Romaine
  • Summer squash: yellow squash and zucchini
  • Tofu (not a vegetable, but an excellent vegetarian addition to this list)
  • GROUP 2: RAW VEGETABLES

  • Avocado, sliced or diced
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Cherry tomatoes in vinaigrette
  • Cucumber
  • Leafy greens: arugula, spinach, watercress
  • Mustard greens/mizuna/tatsoi
  • Sprouts
  •  

    GROUP 3: SPREADS

  • Bean dip
  • Greek yogurt or labneh, plain or seasoned
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus
  • Soft, spreadable cheeses
  • Tapenade
  • Tzatziki
  •  
    GROUP 4: CONDIMENTS

  • Barbecue sauce
  • Chutney
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise/flavored mayonnaise
  • Mustard(s)
  • Pesto
  • Relish
  • Salsa/Chimichurri
  • Sauces: horseradish, yogurt-dill
  • Vinaigrette & other salad dressings
  •  
    GROUP 5: FLAVOR ACCENTS

  • Chopped herbs
  • Dried fruit: cherries, cranberries, raisins
  • Kimchi
  • Pickled beets, cucumbers, onions or peppers
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sliced olives and/or chiles
  • Toasted seeds
  •  

    grilled-radicchio-230

    Grilled raddicho, endive and romaine are delicious, on a sandwich or as a side. Photo courtesy Radicchio.com.

     
    GROUPS 6 & 7: SIDES & SANDWICH BREADS

    Of course, the remaining ingredient to make veggie sandwiches is bread. We won’t add more long lists here, just two bullets:

  • Bread and rolls: Three or more different styles for a party. If you’re grilling, grilled bread is delicious.
  • Sides: The usual suspects, including chips, cole slaw, potato salad, even green salad.
  •  
    Party on, veggie-style!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tomato Cupcakes

    tomato-cupcakes-kaminsky-230

    A first for most of us: tomato cupcakes!
    Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet
    Blog.

     

    Before raising an eyebrow, remember that tomatoes are a fruit!

    And cookbook author Hannah Kaminsky, who developed this recipe, is a fan.

    “When it comes to the divide between sweet and savory, the line that separates the two is becoming thinner and more difficult to distinguish with every passing year.” says Hannah.

    “Palates are opening up, eaters from all walks of life are growing more adventurous, and chefs are gleefully pursuing their wildest culinary dreams. In a world with such a vast array of flavors, there must still be countless winning combinations merely waiting to be discovered.

    “In my eyes, tomato cupcakes aren’t such a stretch of the imagination. Tomato soup cakes have been around since the turn of the century as a thrifty way of making something sweet in times of sugar rationing. Originally dubbed “mystery cake” as a way of concealing the secret ingredient, you’d never know there was tomato present in the tender crumb.

    “Taking inspiration from these humble origins but with the desire to celebrate the bold, beautiful tomatoes now in season rather than bury them in an avalanche of sugar, it seemed high time to revisit the idea of a tomato cake.”

     

    RECIPE: TOMATO CUPCAKES WITH BALSAMIC FROSTING

    “You can truly taste the tomato in these fiery red cupcakes,” says Hannah. “Not only that, but the unassuming beige frosting holds yet another surprise taste sensation: A tangy punch of balsamic vinegar, tempered by the sweetness of the rich and fluffy matrix that contains it.

    “Trust me, it’s one of those crazy things that you’ve just got to taste to believe. Although it may sound like an edible acid burn, that small splash is just enough to brighten up the whole dessert.

    “While tomatoes are still at their peak, sweet as ever and available in abundance, now is the time to experiment and try something new. Don’t call it a secret ingredient this time around and finally let them shine when the dessert course rolls around.”

     

    Ingredients For 15-16 Cupcakes

    For The Tomato Cupcakes

  • 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes, roughly blended, or
    1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  
    For The Balsamic Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 1 tablespoon milk
  • Optional garnish: small basil or mint leaves
  •  

    tomato-cupcakes-top-down-kaminsky-230

    The cupcakes photographed in the garden. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F and line 15-16 cupcake tin wells with papers.

    2. COMBINE the blended (but not completely puréed) tomatoes, olive oil, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.

    3. WHISK together in a separate large bowl the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Make sure that all the dry goods are thoroughly distributed before adding in the wet ingredients. Mix everything together with a wide spatula, stirring just enough to bring the batter together and beat out any pockets of unincorporated dry ingredients. A few remaining lumps are just fine.

    4. DISTRIBUTE the batter to the prepared cupcake pans, filling the papers about 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centers pulls out cleanly, with perhaps just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not wait for the tops to brown, because the centers will be thoroughly overcooked by then. Let cool completely before frosting.

    5. MAKE the frosting: Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat briefly to soften before adding in the confectioner’s sugar, balsamic glaze and vanilla. Begin mixing on low speed until the sugar is mostly incorporated, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer up to high and slowly drizzle in the milk as needed to bring the whole mixture together. Continue whipping for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.

    6. FROST the cupcakes and garnish as desired.

     
    *NOTE: All of Hannah’s recipes are originally vegan. We converted them to dairy for THE NIBBLE’s readership.

      

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    RECIPE: Seared Tuna With Roasted Peaches

    It’s not an orange: It‘s a roasted peach,
    served with grilled ahi tuna. Photo courtesy
    Waterbar | San Francisco.

     

    Peach season in the U.S. lasts from May through August or early September, thanks to the different zones and climates where they are grown. In the cooler weather states, the harvest starts later but lasts into September and even October.

  • California peaches appear from early May to early September
  • Georgia peaches appear from early May to early August
  • South Carolina peaches appear from early May to early August
  • Michigan peaches appear from mid July to late September
  • Idaho peaches appear from August to October
  •  
    Enjoy the juicy yellow-orange orbs while you can. In addition to hand fruit and desserts, add peaches to your savory recipes.

    Here‘s one for roasted peach with seared ahi tuna. You can substitute any seafood, poultry, pork, even lamb.

    The recipe is from Parke Ulrich, Executive Chef of Waterbar in San Francisco.

     

    This recipe has a special significance for Chef Parke. Each year he participates in the Adopt-A-Tree program from Masumoto Family Farm, which grows the organic Elberta peaches for his dishes. They are harvested in late July or early August. Chef Parke then creates dishes using the peaches in the month of August.

    See more about Elberta peaches below.
     
    Headed to San Francisco?

    Plan a visit to Waterbar. Perched on the water’s edge, with one of the most extraordinary views of the San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, the famed Ferry Building and the Embarcadero skyline, the seafood is as good as the view. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.

     
    RECIPE: SEARED AHI TUNA WITH SALT ROASTED PEACH & WHITE BALSAMIC REDUCTION

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 fresh peaches, rinsed and patted dry
  • 10 ounces ahi tuna (thick loin works better than thin filets)
  • 3 ounces white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch basil, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces arugula
  • Rock salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. SCORE the bottom of each peach (opposite the stem end) with a small X. Place a ½ inch layer of rock salt in the bottom of a sauté pan. Place the peaches stem end down in the salt.

    2. SLOW ROAST the peaches at 300°F until they are tender to the touch (approximately 7 minutes, depending on ripeness). Let cool. Remove the skin and reserve the peaches for plating.

    3. POUR vinegar into a non-reactive saucepan. Reduce by ¾ and chill. When the vinegar is cool, the consistency should be like syrup. If it is too thick, thin it out with Champagne vinegar. Reserve for plating.

    4. SEASON the tuna with salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes until the tuna starts to sweat. Place finely chopped basil on a sheet tray. Once the tuna is moist, roll the tuna in the chopped basil, crusting it.

    5. SEAR the tuna on all sides in a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Be careful not to burn the basil. Cook the tuna to medium rare.

     

    elberta-peaches-gurneys-230

    Eberta peaches. Photo courtesy Gurneys.com.

    6. TO SERVE, split the peaches in half and remove the pits. Place arugula equally in the base of 4 bowls. Place peach half on top of the arugula nest. Slice the tuna into 8 pieces. Lay tuna over the peach. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
     

    ABOUT AHI TUNA

    Ahi can be a confusing term. It us the Hawaiian word for the bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), but is also used in restaurants to refer to the related yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares).

    Bigeye tuna are amongst the tuna species most threatened by overfishing, so go for the yellowfin if you can distinguish it. Here are the main species of tuna.
     
    ABOUT ELBERTA PEACHES

    The Elberta variety was once the most popular of peaches in the U.S., a yellow freestone peach with creamy flesh, juicy and ideal for eating, canning and freezing.

    Named for the wife of the Georgia peach grower who identified the hybrid in the 19th century, the Elberta began to be phased out after World War II as newer peach varieties were developed and introduced by university experimental agricultural stations. [Source]

    These hybrids traveled better than the Elberta and were more durable at supermarkets. Heirloom Elbertas are still grown, and can be found in farmers markets.

    Wild peaches originated in China, and have been cultivated there since at least 1000 B.C.E. Here’s the history of peaches.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pulled Pork Sliders Or Sandwiches With Cabbage Slaw

    Planning to host a group for Labor Day? If you have access to a smoker, Chef David Venable recommends Smoked Mexican Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Cabbage Slaw. Alternatively, you can buy a barbecued pork butt, ready to heat and eat; or make it in a slow cooker.

    You can serve full-size sandwiches or smaller sliders.

    “If you’re having a big party,” says David, “these Mexican Pulled Pork Sandwiches are a great way to really stretch your dollar and it’s easy to double or even triple the recipe. Smoking the large cut of meat packs in incredible flavor.”

    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

    RECIPE: PULLED PORK SANDWICHES

    Ingredients For The Pork Sandwiches

  • 4-5 pounds pork butt (bone-in or boneless)
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 envelope Sazón Adobo seasoning (Goya or other brand)
  • 10-12 of your favorite rolls for sliders or sandwiches
  •  
    Plus Your Favorite Toppings

  • Cheese
  • Cole slaw (recipe below)
  • Pickles
  • Red onion or sweet onion (like Vidalia)
  • Tomatoes
  •    

    pulled-pork-sliders-davidvenableQVC-230

    Top the pulled pork with the cabbage slaw. Photo courtesy QVC.

     
    Pork Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a smoker to 250°F and also prepare the wood chips. Using gloves, rub the taco seasoning and adobo liberally on the pork butt. Smoke for 4-5 hours, or until tender.

    2. REMOVE the pork butt and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. Then shred the meat into a bowl with two forks.

    3. ASSEMBLE the sandwiches: Place the desired amount of pork on the bottom half of a roll and top with the cabbage slaw.

     

    pulled-pork-sliders-davidvenableQVC-horiz-230

    Don’t want the bun? Eat it from the bowl! Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    RECIPE: CABBAGE SLAW (COLE SLAW)

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cabbage, peppers, corn and cilantro in a large bowl.

    2. WHISK together mayo, lime juice, vinegar, honey, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and toss to coat.

    3. REFRIGERATE until you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches.
     
    WHO INVENTED SLIDERS?

    A slider is a small sandwich, typically around 3 inches in diameter, served in a bun. The term primarily refers to small burgers, but can also include any small sandwich served on a slider roll.

    According to citations in Wikipedia, the name may have originated aboard U.S. Navy ships in the 1940s or 1950s. The name was inspired by the way greasy burgers slid across the galley grill while the ship pitched and rolled. A “slider with a lid” was a cheeseburger. White Castle trademarked the spelling variant “Slyder.”

    Today, gourmet sliders—bison, venison, Wagyu beef, etc.—are served as an hors d’oeuvre, amuse-bouche, or in multiples as an entrée.

      

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