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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Recipes

TIP OF THE DAY: Bananas Foster Topping & Garnish

As a lover of both chocolate cake and Bananas Foster, we were inspired by the creative use of Bananas Foster at Davio’s Italian Steakhouse in Boston (see photo). It’s traditionally used to top ice cream.

It’s a most delicious addition. At Davio’s, a slice of flourless chocolate cake is topped with a slice of caramelized banana. But you can adapt the idea to almost any dessert. A chocolate base (or other dark color) is best to contrast the beige banana; but it will be delectable on anything. (It was a hit at THE NIBBLE on top of homemade chocolate pudding.)

Before we are forthcoming with the recipe, here’s a bit of culinary history.


Bananas Foster is a more elaborate version of caramelized bananas. Sliced bananas are sautéed in butter with brown sugar, banana liqueur and Grand Marnier (orange-infused brandy) or rum. It is then flambéed at the table for a dramatic effect, and spooned over vanilla ice cream.

For the flame-averse: While igniting the dish tableside is dramatic both at a restaurant and at home, it isn’t necessary.


/home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/flourless cake caramelized banana daviosbboston 230

Two great desserts in one: Bananas Foster atop chocolate cake. Photo courtesy Davio’s |

The original Bananas Foster recipe was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé (1900-1977), the executive chef at Brennan’s in New Orleans. The dish was named in honor of Richard Foster, a regular customer and friend of restaurant owner Owen Brennan, Sr.

It is one of the flambé desserts that also include Crêpes Suzette and Cherries Jubilee. Savory dishes are also flamed at the table, from Steak Diane to Veal Marsala. Here’s a list of flambé recipes. Note, though, that the technique has long gone out of style.

But how did it come into style?


Flambé (it means flamed in French), is a cooking procedure in which alcohol is warmed and then added to a hot pan, where it is lit to create a burst of flames. The alcohol burns off shortly and the flames die out.

While the practice of igniting food for dramatic flair can be traced to 14th century Moors, modern flambéing became popular only in the late 19th century, and by accident.

According to his memoir, in 1895 at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo, 14-year-old Henri Charpentier (1880-1961), an assistant waiter, accidentally set fire to the liqueur in the pan of crêpes he was preparing. At the time, many foods were prepared tableside. The guests happened to be Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) and some friends. According to the memoir:

“It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste.

The dish was served, and the Prince liked it.

“He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crêpes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little skirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crêpes Princesse to Crêpes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.”

SOURCE: Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier, by Henri Charpentier and Boyden Sparkes, The Modern Library, New York, 2001 Paperback Edition. Originally published in 1934 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Thanks to What’s Cooking America for the reference.


Banana with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and hazelnuts


TOP PHOTO: Bananas Foster served
banana-split style. Photo | Fotolia. BOTTOM
PHOTO: Bananas Foster at Brennan’s. Photo
courtesy We
prefer to slice our bananas in chunks.



While the Davio’s recipe cuts the banana into a stylish oblong and the photo at right halves the fruit banana-split style. At Brennan’s the long slices are cut in half. We prefer chunks perhaps 3/4-inch thick—easier to spoon over ice cream…and French toast, pancakes and waffles.

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 firm, ripe bananas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup banana liqueur
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • Optional garnishes: toasted chopped pecans, grated orange

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, or
  • Cake or whatever else you want with your Bananas Foster

    1. CUT the bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise for a total of 4 pieces each (alternative: cut 3/4″ rounds; you’ll have more than 4 pieces).

    2. MELT the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes—this creates a caramel sauce). Add the bananas and cook on both sides until they begin to soften and brown (about 3 minutes).

    3. ADD the banana liqueur and stir to blend into the caramel sauce.

    If you want to flambé, follow the instructions below. However, the drama of the flambé works only if the dish is prepared tableside. Otherwise, the drama is lost in the kitchene.

    4. LIFT lift the bananas carefully from the pan and top the four dishes of ice cream; then spoon the sauce over the ice cream and bananas and serve immediately.

    Here’s a video on how to flambe from QVC chef David Venable. Tips:

  • Liquors and liqueurs that are 80-109 proof are best to ignite. Don’t try to ignite a higher proof; they are highly flammable.
  • The liquor must be warmed to about 130°F before adding to the pan. (Keep it well below the boiling point. Boiling will burn off the alcohol, and it will not ignite.) This is generally done by holding the liquor, in a spoon, over a candle or other flame.
  • Always remove the pan from the heat source before adding the liquor to avoid burning yourself.
  • Vigorously shaking the pan usually extinguishes the flame, but if you’re just learning, keep a pot lid nearby in case you need to smother the flames.


    RECIPE: White Chocolate Pumpkin Fondue

    For pumpkin season, treat everyone to this White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Fondue from The Melting Pot, with a few modifications from THE NIBBLE.

    Why not make it this weekend? Don’t like to cook? Find the nearest Melting Pot.


    Ingredients For The Fondue

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped (look for Green & Black’s, Lindt or other premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Bacardi 151 Rum*
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Optional: chopped graham crackers or white chocolate shavings
    *Bacardi 151 is a brand of highly alcoholic rum, named for its alcohol proof level of 151 (75.5% alcohol by volume or A.B.V.). This is about double the alcohol of conventional rum (35%–40% A.B.V.). You can substitute a liqueur instead; see Step 3 below.


    White Chocolate Pumpkin Fondue

    White chocolate pumpkin fondue, garnished with white chocolate shavings. Photo courtesy The Melting Pot.


    For The Dippers

  • Cake cubes: blondies, brownies, doughnut holes or pieces, loaf cakes (carrot, chocolate, pound)
  • Cookies: amaretti, biscotti, graham crackers, granola bars, lady fingers, meringues, shortbread fingers, tea biscuits
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, dates, figs, mangoes, prunes
  • Fresh fruits: apples, bananas, grapes. mandarins/oranges, pears, pineapple, strawberries

    1. PLACE the chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler pot over medium heat, stirring constantly so as not to scorch the chocolate. Alternatively, melt in the microwave in 45 second increments, stirring after each one.

    2. POUR the melted chocolate into a fondue pot. Add the pumpkin purée, blending gently. Taste and add more pumpkin if you like.

    3. ADD the rum to the pot and light with a long match or fireplace lighter. As the rum burns away, carefully stir the mixture together. If you don’t want to purchase 151 rum or flambé, stir the equivalent amount of orange liqueur into the melted chocolate and blend.

    4. SPRINKLE the nutmeg into the pot and gently fold in. The Melting Pot garnishes the top of the fondue with chopped graham crackers, but we prefer to use the graham crackers as dippers.



    TIP OF THE DAY: International Nachos For National Nachos Day



    TOP PHOTO: Classic nachos. Photo by Chee
    Hong | Wikimedia. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    Japanese nachos, made with rice chips and
    spicy tuna. Photo courtesy RA Sushi.


    Today is National Nacho Day, and our tip is: Go where no Mexican nacho has gone.

    The appeal of Tex-Mex nachos—crunchy, creamy, spicy—cannot be denied.

    But how about fusion nachos, with culinary accents (crunchy, creamy, spicy) from the world’s favorite cuisines? We’ll pick up on that below, right after…


    Nachos are an example of necessity being the mother of invention.

    As the story goes, in 1943 a group of Army wives from Fort Duncan, in Eagle Pass, Texas, had gone just across the border to Piedras Negros, Mexico, on a shopping trip. By the time they arrived at the Victory Club restaurant for a meal, the kitchen was closed.

    But the accommodating maître d’hôtel, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya (Nacho is a nickname for Ignacio), threw together a snack for the ladies from what was available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. He cut the tortillas into triangles and fried them, added shredded Cheddar cheese, quickly heated them to melt the cheese and garnished the dish with sliced jalapeño chiles.

    When asked what the tasty dish was called, he answered, “Nacho’s especiales,” Nacho’s Special. (Food trivia: In Mexico, nachos are called totopos, the local word for tortilla chips).

    The dish quickly spread throughout Texas and the Southwest. The first known appearance of the word “nachos” in English dates to 1950, from the book. A Taste of Texas. [Source]


    In the beginning, nachos were a simple dish as Ignacio made them: tortilla chips, shredded melted cheese and jalapeños.

    But as time marched on, so did nachos, leading to “loaded” Tex-Mex nacho options with:

  • Beans: black beans, pinto beans, refried beans, chili con carne, chile con queso.
  • Condiments: garlic, hot sauce, lime, olives, pickles.
  • Meat: carne asada, chicken, chorizo, ground beef, sliced steak.
  • Salsa and dressings: cooked salsa, guacamole, pico de gallo, ranch dressing, salsa fresca, sour cream (see the different types of salsa).
  • Vegetables: chive, cilantro, diced tomato, elote (grilled corn), jalapeño, lettuce, onion, scallion.
    And while these ingredients offer a huge number of combinations, why not look outside Central American ingredients to international combinations. First…


    Step away from tortilla chips (a.k.a. taco chips) or other corn chips. There are lots of different chips to be had, representing all corners of the world. Pick your base, and it will inspire the toppings.

  • Bagel chips
  • Bean chips
  • Cassava/yucca chips
  • Flavored tortilla chips (taco chips)
  • Kale chips
  • Lentil chips
  • Pasta chips
  • Pita chips
  • Plantain chips
  • Potato or sweet potato chips
  • Rice chips
  • Soy crisps
  • Vegetable chips (e.g. beet, lotus root, yucca)


    Top the base chip with the main ingredients and cheese, melt the shredded cheese under the broiler or with a kitchen torch, and top with the sauces and garnishes.

  • American Nachos: potato chips, popcorn, sliced hot dogs, dill pickles or relish, shredded American cheese, onion dip.
  • Barbecue Nachos: tortilla chips, barbecued pork, melted cheese, barbecue sauce, and sliced jalapeños.
  • California Nachos: vegetable chips, kale chips, guacamole, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, sprouts.
  • French Nachos: French fries, goat cheese, crème fraîche, frizzled onions.
  • German Nachos: potato chips, munster cheese, sliced sausage, caramelized onions (or sauerkraut, if you want a pucker).
  • Greek Nachos: pita chips, mini lamb meatballs, crumbled feta cheese, shredded saganaki (melting cheese; substitute mozzarella), sliced pepperoncini, tzatziki, kalamata olives.
  • Hawaiian Nachos: plantain chips or sweet potato chips, kalua pork (smoky; made from a whole, slow-roasted pig), melted cheese, barbecue sauce, diced pineapple.
  • Healthy Nachos: vegetable chips, roasted vegetables or jarred pimentos, fat-free plain Greek yogurt, salsa fresca.
  • Indian Nachos: lentil chips, shawarma (spit-grilled meat) with Indian spices, raita, green peas.
  • Irish Nachos: Fried potato slices topped with corned beef, shredded Irish cheddar, cooked bacon, lettuce, chopped tomatoes and scallions.

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Oyster Nachos zagat 230


    TOP PHOTO: “Pacific” nachos with oysters. Photo courtesy BOTTOM PHOTO: Barbecue pork nachos. Photo courtesy

  • Italian Nachos: pasta chips, Italian sausage or pepperoni, sweet peppers, marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella and chili flakes.
  • Japanese Nachos: rice chips, cooked or raw fish/seafood, wasabi-accented plain yogurt or sour cream, shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend).
  • Jewish Nachos: bagel chips, chopped herring, sour cream, dill.
  • Middle Eastern Nachos: pita chips, grilled meat or vegetables, hummus, plain yogurt.
  • Pacific Nachos: Crispy wontons, cornmeal-crusted fried oysters (substitute any seafood), shredded Swiss, cocktail sauce or tartar sauce.

    Beyond the chip, here are other spins on nachos:

  • Baked potato nachos recipe
  • Nacho stuffed shells recipe
  • Naked nachos recipe


    TIP OF THE DAY: Stuffed Acorn Squash

    Whole Acorn Squash

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/acorn whole halved 230

    TOP PHOTO: Whole acorn squash. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Halved and seeded acorn squash.
    Photos courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


    Last night we were out with a group of friends, the majority of whom ordered healthy roast vegetable plates for dinner. Roasting vegetables at home arose as a topic, and surprise:

    While most of us roasted sliced root vegetables, only two baked halved acorn or butternut squash.

    The reason given: It’s difficult (and scary) to cut the hard squash with a knife. So they purchased already-peeled and diced squash.

    Anyone with a sharp knife and a degree of caution can cut open a hard squash. Do not be intimidated by a vegetable!

    Sharpen your knife and watch this video.

    When you get comfortable with the process, you don’t even need to cut off the ends. We prefer to leave them on for aesthetic appeal, and use this technique—a rocking knife motion—to slice the squash in half.

    Now there’s nothing wrong baking the squash halves with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper—or a drizzle of maple syrup.

    But baked stuff squash is such a festive dish. You can stuff it with absolutely anything, from grains to other vegetables, as a first course or a vegetarian entrée. It’s a great Meatless Monday dish, but you can also add sausage or other meat.

    One squash serves two people. The following recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable.

    The photo of the recipe is below the preparation instructions.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • Salt and pepper
    For The Stuffing

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating squash
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3/4 cup dry stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 bag (8.8 ounces) precooked long grain and wild rice blend
  • 1/2 cups grated Gruyère, Cheddar or substitute*
  • 1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
    *Semi-firm cheese or semi-hard cheeses include American Swiss, Appenzeller, Asiago, Beaufort, Caciotta, Caerphilly, Cantal, Cheshire, Colby, Comte, Emmental, Fontina, Glouster, Gjetost, Jarlsberg, Caserri, Manchego, Tete de Moine andTomme d’Abondance, among others.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil and season the flesh of each squash with salt and pepper. Place the halves flesh-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. While the squash is baking…

    2. MAKE the stuffing. Add 1 tablespoon oil to a skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onion and celery until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the stuffing mix and cranberries. Stir and remove the pan from the heat. When the stuffing has cooled slightly…

    3. SPOON it into a medium-size bowl and add the rice, cheese and pecans. Mix until combined. When the squash has finished baking…

    4. TURN each squash half flesh-side up and spoon the stuffing into the cavity. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the stuffing is heated through and is golden brown on top.
    TIP: Whole acorn squash can be stored for up to a month in a cool, dry spot. Only cooked or cut acorn squash should be refrigerated.



    Squash is indigenous to Central and South America. It was introduced to the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and to the English setters in Virginia and Massachusetts.

    It was easy to grow and hardy enough to store for months, providing a nutritious dietary staple throughout the winter.

    Acorn squash (Curcubita pepo, var. turbinata) is so called because its shape resembles an acorn. The most common variety is dark green in color, often with a splotch of orange on the side or top. Some varieties are variegated (multi-color) and newer varieties include the yellow Golden Acorn squash and white-skinned varieties.

    Like the other popular winter squash, butternut squash, the skin of an acorn squash is thick and hard, and it is an effort to peel it.

    But either squash is easily cut in half with a large, sharp knife. It can then be baked, plain or stuffed with grain, meat or vegetable mixtures.

    Acorn squash are smaller than butternut squash (acorn is one to two pounds, four to seven inches long), and half of an acorn makes a convenient individual portion. It is similar in flavor to butternut.

    While acorn squash is most commonly baked, it can also be microwaved, sautéed or steamed.

  • The seeds of the squash are toasted and eaten. (Trivia: Initially, the seeds were eaten instead of the flesh until plumper-fleshed varieties were bred.)
  • The yellow trumpet flowers that are produced before the squash is fully developed are also edible. They are stuffed and considered a delicacy.

    Stuffed Bake Acorn Squash


    TOP PHOTO: Stuffed acorn squash, the recipe above. Photo courtesy QVC. BOTTOM PHOTO: Go trendy: Stuff acorn squash with quinoa and kale. Here’s a recipe from

  • The green tops, about three inches’ worth from the end of the squash, are also edible (but not the prickly stem). The squash greens are a popular vegetable in the Philippines. Unless you grow your own or your local farmer doesn’t remove them, you aren’t likely to see them for sale in the U.S.
  • Squash in salads. Don’t hesitate to add cooked squash to green salads, grains, omelets, and anyplace you’d like another level of flavor and color.
    Acorn squash is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, with smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese. Surprisingly, because of the color of the flesh, it is not a good source of beta-carotene.

  • The word “squash” comes from the Wampanoag Native American word, askutasquash, meaning “eaten raw or uncooked.” This may refer to the summer squash varieties, yellow squash and zucchini, which can be enjoyed raw. Summer squash, which belong to the same genus and species as most winter squash, are small, quick-growing varieties that are eaten before the rinds and seeds begin to harden.
  • There are three species of squash, all native to the Americas. Curcubita pepo includes acorn, butternut, pumpkin, summer squashes and others. Curcubita moschata, represented by the Cushaw, Japanese Pie, Large Cheese Pumpkins and Winter Crookneck Squashes arose, like Curcubita pepo, in Mexico and Central America. Both were and are important food, ranking next to maize and beans.Curcubita maxima, includes Boston Marrow, Delicious, Hubbard, Marblehead and Turks Turban, and apparently originated near the Andes, or in certain Andean valleys.
  • Before the arrival of Europeans, Curcubita pepoCurcubita moschata had been carried to all parts of North America that were conducive to growth. Many Native American tribes, particularly in the West, still grow a diversity of hardy squashes and pumpkins not to be found in our markets.
  • Squash was unknown in the Old World until the 16th century, brought back by the returning conquistadors. The oldest known prin record of it is dated 1591.
  • Much of canned pumpkin consists odf Curcubita moschata squash, not from the jack-o-lantern variety of pumpkin. The best commercially canned varieties are Boston Marrow and Delicious varieties.The flesh of these varieties is much richer and more nutritious than that of pumpkin.



    RECIPE: Apple Crisp With Ambrosia Apples

    Contributing Editor Rowann Gilman returned from picking Ambrosia apples in Washington’s Wenatchee Valley, glowing over the food and restaurants there. If you didn’t catch her report on the apples, here it is.

    She brought back an apple crisp recipe that she can’t wait to have again. Since fall is prime apple crisp season, it arrives just in time.

    If you don’t know the difference between a crisp and a cobbler, crumble, betty and other kin, THE NIBBLE has spelled it out below.

    Try this old-fashioned recipe with new-fashioned Ambrosia apples. It’s from Chef David Toal of Ravenous Catering in Cashmere, Washington.

    Ingredients For 6 to 8 Servings

    For The Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (do not use quick cooking oats)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, cut into small chunks
    For The Ambrosia Apple Filling

  • 6 to 8 large Ambrosia apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from one lemon
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

  • Vanilla ice cream

    Apple Crisp A La Mode

    Ambrosia Apples

    TOP PHOTO: A crisp is has a crumb or streusel topping. The crumbs can be breadcrumbs, breakfast cereal, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, flour or nuts. Photo courtesy Ambrosia Apples. BOTTOM PHOTO: Ambrosia Apples. Photo by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Butter a 13×9-inch baking dish or 6 to 8 individual ramekins and set aside.

    2. COMBINE the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl; toss well to combine. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients.

    3. STIR together all of the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine. Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish or ramekins. Top the filling with the crumb topping.

    4. BAKE for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly around the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

    5. SERVE with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle some of the juice from the baking dish over top.




    TOP PHOTO: In our book, it isn’t apple crisp
    if it isn’t topped with vanilla ice cream. Photo
    courtesy BOTTOM
    PHOTO: A cobbler has a dropped dough
    topping that bakes up to resemble
    cobblestones (hence, the name). Photo



    Most people use these terms interchangeably. Even Produce Pete called a crisp a cobbler in last week’s episode on NBC. If you really care about food, you’ll care about knowing the differences among pan-baked fruit dishes.

  • BETTY, or brown betty, alternates layers of fruit with layers of buttered bread crumbs. Some modern recipes use graham cracker crumbs.
  • BIRD’S NEST PUDDING is a bit different: A pan of fruit is covered with a batter that bakes into an uneven top with the fruit poking through. It’s served in a bowl topped with heavy cream and spices.
  • BUCKLE, very similar to the French clafoutis (often spelled clafouti in the U.S.), adds fruit, usually berries, to a single layer of batter. When baked, it becomes a cake-like layer studded with berries. It is topped with a crumb layer (streusel), which gives it a buckled appearance. Alternatively, the cake, fruit and crumbs can be made as three separate layers.
  • COBBLER has a pastry top instead of a crumb top. Biscuit pastry is dropped from a spoon, the result resembling cobblestones.
  • CRISP is a deep-dish baked fruit dessert made with a crumb or streusel topping. The crumbs can be made with bread crumbs, breakfast cereal, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, flour or nuts.
  • CROW’S NEST PUDDING is another term for bird’s nest pudding. In some recipes, the fruit is cored, the hole filled with sugar, and the fruit wrapped in pastry.
  • CRUMBLE is the British term for crisp.
  • GRUNT is a spoon pie with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit. Stewed fruit is steamed on top of the stove, not baked in the oven. The recipe was initially an attempt to adapt the English steamed pudding to the primitive cooking equipment available in the Colonies. The term “grunt” was used in Massachusetts, while other New England states called the dish a slump.

  • PANDOWDY or pan dowdy is a spoon pie made with brown sugar or molasses. It has a rolled top biscuit crust that is broken up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to seep up. It is believed that the name refers to its “dowdy” appearance. Sometimes it is made “upside down” with the crust on the bottom, and inverted prior to serving.
  • SLUMP is another word for grunt.
  • SONKER or ZONKER, a North Carolina term for a deep-dish cobbler made of fruit or sweet potato.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Raw Brussels Sprouts

    At this time of year, Brussels sprouts are in season and many people are debating how to prepare them for Thanksgiving. Our nana and aunt disagreed to the extent that each brought her preferred preparation (one a gratin laden with Gruyère and pancetta, one with a honey balsamic sauce).

    But you don’t have to cook Brussels sprouts. You can slice them or remove the leaves (as with cabbage, remove the bottom core first). Then, make:

  • Brussels sprouts slaw with mustard vinaigrette and optional crumbled cheese, or with apple matchsticks, or simply dressed with lemon and olive oil.
  • “Christmas” slaw: Mixed red cabbage and green Brussels sprouts.
  • Pickled, as a condiment for meats or a sandwich topping (how to pickle vegetables).
  • Sandwiches, using Brussels sprouts leaves instead of lettuce.
    Be sure you buy freshly harvested sprouts. As they age, they develop stronger and more bitter flavors. This applies equally to the sprouts used in cooked recipes.

    To start you off with raw Brussels sprouts, here’s a tasty salad with holiday accents. There’s another recipe below that combines raw Brussels sprouts with raw shaved root vegetables.

    Prep time is 15 minutes.


    Raw Brussels Sprouts

    Raw Brussels sprouts salad with holiday accents. Photo courtesy McCormick.


    Raw Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and toss in a light vanilla-sage vinaigrette for a salad that’s sure to please during holiday gatherings.

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (substitute white wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 container (12 ounces) Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (substitute pecans)

    1. WASH, trim and thinly shave the Brussels sprouts.

    2. MIX the oil, vinegar, vanilla and seasonings in small bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Add the cranberries; let stand 30 minutes to allow cranberries to soften.

    3. TOSS the Brussels sprouts and walnuts in a large bowl until well blended. Drizzle with the dressing; toss to coat well. Serve immediately.


    Brussels Sprouts Salad

    Shaved Fall Salad

    TOP PHOTO: Brussels sprouts salad with a
    holiday touch. Photo courtesy Julie Gransee |
    Lovely Little Kitchen | McCormick. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Shaved fall vegetable salad. Photo


    This recipe combines raw Brussels sprouts with raw fall root vegetables and some arugula for greenery. It was adapted from a recipe on A bonus: You get to practice your shaving skills on a mandoline.

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 1 bunch arugula (substitute baby spinach)
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and trimmed (substitute other
  • 1 bulb celery root (celeriac), outer skin removed
  • 1 bulb of fennel, trimmed, fronds reserved†
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, leaves separated
  • 1 slow-browning apple*
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) apple cider vinegar (substitute red
    wine vinegar)‡
  • Drizzle of honey
    *Some varieties of apple brown more slowly when their flesh is cut and exposed to air. Look for Ambrosia, Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Gala, Ginger Gold, Goldrush, Masonova, Shizuka or SnowSweet varieties. Browning is caused by an enzyme called phenolase, that reacts with oxygen. These apple varieties have much less of the enzyme (or a weaker form of it), so they turn brown very slowly, without having to be dipped in acidified water or other slowing technique. They are natural varieties, not genetically modified like the Arctic Apple, a GMO that was bred not to brown for a very long time.

    †While the fronds come free with the fennel, we had fresh dill on hand and used those fronts instead (see Step 3 below).

    ‡Check out the different types of vinegar.


    1. CAREFULLY SHAVE the radish, fennel, apple and celery root on a mandoline. (Depending on the size of the celery root, you may need to cut it in half before shaving.)

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP a small handful of the fennel fronds.

    3. COMBINE the arugula, apple, Brussels leaves, celery root, fennel, fennel fronds and radish and in a big bowl. Dress with the olive oil and vinegar, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper.

    4. ADJUST seasonings to taste and finish with blue cheese crumbles.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinnamon Pecan Topping

    For holiday season, it’s good to have a trick up your sleeve that quickly turns everyday food into festive food.

    We nominate homemade cinnamon pecan topping, which can be used to garnish both sweet and savory foods. See our list of uses below.

    You can use any nut, but pecan goes particularly well in this type of topping.

    We adapted this recipe from McCormick. It makes 12 servings, 2 tablespoons each. You can make a double batch and keep it in the fridge.

    Although the McCormick version uses rum flavor, feel free to substitute real rum or whiskey.

    Plan ahead: You can bring a jar of topping as a house gift, or give it as holiday gifts.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 12 minutes.


    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum flavor

    Pecan Topping


    TOP PHOTO: Top a Brie with homemade cinnamon pecan topping Photo by Caroline Edwards from Chocolate and Carrots | BOTTOM PHOTO: Turn a plain scoop of ice cream into a sundae. Photo courtesy


    Pecan Topping

    Keep it in the fridge to pull out whenever you need it. Photo courtesy McCormick.



    1. MIX the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in small bowl until blended. Set aside.

    2. MELT 2 tablespoons of the butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and toast for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low.

    3. STIR the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, corn syrup, water, vanilla extract, rum flavor and the brown sugar mixture into the skillet. Cook, stirring until the butter is melted and the mixture is heated through.

    4. REMOVE from the heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature.



  • Breakfast: Top French toast, pancakes, waffles.
  • Desserts: Use as a cake topping or filling; fill crêpes and tartlets; top ice cream, ice cream cake or ice cream pie; garnish blondies/brownies or pie; mix with mascarpone or ricotta to spread on biscotti or shortbread.
  • Hors d’oeuvre: Top regular or baked Brie.
  • Sides: Top a baked sweet potato with pecan topping and Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Snack: Mix into yogurt, stir into coffee or tea.


    RECIPE: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

    This fall and Thanksgiving dessert from King Arthur Flour has the wisdom of Solomon. When you can’t decide between pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake, go zebra* and combine them into one dessert!

    Prep time is 25 to 33 minutes, bake time is 40 to 45 minutes.


    Ingredients For A 9-Inch Pie, 10-12 Servings

    For The Crust

    Make your favorite pie crust or purchase a deep 9″ prepared crust. You can also use a cheesecake crust of graham crackers or gingersnaps.

  • Cheesecake crust variations
  • Gingersnap crust
    For The Cheesecake Layer

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/4 cup crushed crystallized ginger (photo below)
    For The Pumpkin Layer

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup light cream or evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin pie cheesecake kingarthur 230L1

    The bottom layer is cheesecake, the top layer is pumpkin pie. Photo courtesy

    *A zebra is a cheesecake bottom and a brownie top, or vice versa. Here’s a recipe.



    Crystallized Ginger

    TOP PHOTO: A slice of Pumpkin Pie
    Cheesecake. Add a pinch of ground ginger
    from the whipped cream. Photo courtesy BOTTOM PHOTO:
    finely diced crystallized ginger. You can buy it at in a small dice for baking. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.


    For Serving

  • Optional garnish: candied pecans (recipe)
  • Whipped cream (recipe)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F.

    2. REMOVE the crust from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature until it’s warm enough to work with (10 to 30 minutes, depending on how long it’s been refrigerated).

    3. FLOUR your work surface, and roll the crust into a 13″ round. Transfer it to a pie plate that’s at least 9″ wide and 2″ deep. A giant spatula works well for this task. IMPORTANT: Be sure the pan is 2″ deep or all the filling won’t fit. If you find yourself with too much filling, pour it into a ramekin and bake it until the center is set. You’ll have an individual dessert or snack.

    4. GENTLY SETTLE the crust into the plate, and crimp the edges.

    5. MAKE the cheesecake filling: Combine the room-temperature cream cheese and sugar, beating slowly until the mixture is fairly smooth. It may appear grainy, or a few lumps may remain; that’s OK.

    6. STIR in the egg, vanilla and optional ginger. Spoon the filling into the pie crust.

    7. MAKE the pumpkin filling: Whisk together the sugar, salt and spices in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin, cream or evaporated milk and eggs, and whisk gently until smooth. (You don’t want to beat a lot of air into this mixture; just be sure it’s thoroughly combined.)

    8. GENTLY SPOON the pumpkin filling atop the cheesecake layer, filling within 1/4″ of the top of the crust. NOTE: Do this carefully at first, so as to not disturb the cheesecake layer. Once you’ve covered the cheesecake, you can be less careful.


    9. BAKE the pie for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to bake for 40 to 45 minutes, covering the edges of the pie with a crust shield or aluminum foil if they seem to be browning too quickly. The pie is done when it looks set, but still wobbles a bit in the center when you jiggle it. If you have a digital thermometer, the pie will register 165°F at its center when it’s done.

    10. REMOVE the pie from the oven, allow it to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it until serving time. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with a pinch of ginger and teaspoon of vanilla.



    RECIPE: Hot Cheese & Bacon Dip

    When the weather gets cooler, the foods get warmer.

    Here’s a flavorful hot fall and winter dip from Kraft. You serve it warm and bubbly, with crudités, crackers, cocktail franks or cut-up regular franks or brats.

    Kraft developed it with their brands: Kraft Real Mayonnaise, Oscar Mayer Brand bacon, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Shredded Three Cheese and Kraft Natural Shredded Three Cheese With Touch Of Philadelphia, which combines Cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack with a touch of cream cheese.

    We grated what we had at home: a combination of Emmental (the real Swiss cheese) and Sharp Cheddar.

    We also added what we think is the perfect hot, tangy complement: prepared horseradish (from a jar, not fresh root). If you want more tang and don’t like horseradish, try Dijon mustard (not Honey Dijon).

    Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.


    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese, divided
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled, divided
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish or Dijon mustard

  • Dippers: crackers, crudites, hot dogs, etc.

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/hot cheese bacon dip kraft 230

    How yummy! Photo courtesy Kraft Foods.



    If you have a warming tray, hot plate or other tabletop item with a heat source, get it out to keep the dip warm.

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Reserve 2 tablespoons each of the bacon, cheese and onions for garnish.

    2. MIX the remaining ingredients until blended, and spread onto bottom of 9-inch pie plate sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly around the edges.

    3. GARNISH with the reserved ingredients and serve with the dippers.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Bark From Leftover Halloween Candy


    Chop up those miniatures, add whatever else
    you have and make bark. See the recipe
    above at


    Many American households woke up today to lots of Halloween candy. You can eat some of it as is, but we especially like this solution from, who adapted it from this Bon Appetit recipe:

    Turn it into chocolate bark studded with pieces of Halloween candy.

    And on top of that, make it an annual tradition. We hereby proclaim that the day after Halloween is Leftover Candy Bark Day.

    Use whatever candy appeals to you. If you’re not sure if certain combinations work (Junior Mints and Peanut Butter Cups, for example), pop them into your mouth and see how they blend.

    If you need to round out the ingredients, add whatever you have at home: baking chips, cookie pieces, nuts, potato chips, pretzels, shredded coconut, and so on.

    You’ll also need a base chocolate to hold all the pieces. You can use milk, semisweet or white chocolate. We bought two bags of Guittard semisweet chips and one bag of white chocolate chips at our supermarket.

    What should you do with the finished bark?

  • Bring it into work or school.
  • Give some to anyone who didn’t participate in trick-or-treating.
  • Serve it on game day.
  • Keep it as your own stash, enjoying a piece per day.

    Ingredients For About 2 Pounds/30 Servings

    This is just a guideline; use whatever you have. The ingredients below focus on peanut butter-flavored candies. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 1 hour.


  • 1 pound chocolate, chopped
  • 3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun-size bars), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Heath candy bars (or 6 fun-size bars), cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, each cut into 8 wedges
  • ¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup M&Ms, Peanut M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces or a mix

    1. LINE a 12 x 12-inch* baking pan or a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. PLACE the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until it is completely melted and smooth.

    3. POUR the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and, using an offset spatula, spread it into a thin layer (¼-inch thick yields about a 12×10-inch rectangle*).

    4. SPRINKLE the melted chocolate with the chopped Butterfingers, Heath bars, peanut butter cups and honey roasted peanuts, making sure all pieces touch the melted chocolate so they adhere. Lightly press down on them as an extra effort to make sure the candy adheres to the chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    5. MELT the white chocolate using the same method as the bittersweet chocolate in Step 2, until completely smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the chilled bark in a zigzag pattern.

    6. SCATTER the M&Ms and/or Reese’s Pieces over the white chocolate drizzle, and again press to make sure the candy adheres to the melted white chocolate. Chill again until the white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.



    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/halloween candy bark browneyedbaker 230

    TOP PHOTO: Add cookies to your Halloween Bark. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: Peanut-oriented bark (recipe above). Photo courtesy BrownEyed Baker via Bon Appetit.

    7. CUT or break the bark into irregular pieces and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place or in the fridge.

    *You can use whatever size pan or sheet you have. You don’t have to spread the chocolate to cover the entire area. Just keep it 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick and the candies pressed into it will add the heft.


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