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RECIPE: Pomegranate Cheese Ball

Christmas Cheese Ball

Christmas Cheese Ball

Christmas Cheese Ball

[1] The Christmas Cheese Ball, festive with cocktails. This recipe, from How Sweet Eats, is made with with white cheddar, mascarpone and sage. [2] The Café Sucre Farine is made with Monterey Jack, pecans, rosemary and thyme. Minced parsley accents the arils for an even better holiday effect. [3] Our original inspiration was this red and green cheese ball from Go Bold With Butter (recipe below).

 

Deck the hall with this festive almond-Gruyère/Swiss Cheese cheese ball.

Parsley colors the interior green, while the pomegranate arils create a crimson cloak.

Bonus: Prep time is 15 minutes, and you can make it two days in advance. Thanks to Go Bold With Butter for the recipe.

RECIPE #1: CHRISTMAS CHEESE BALL

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces Gruyère/Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 [heaping] cup slivered almonds
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons horseradish mustard (recipe below)
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or ½ parsley, ½ chives)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  •  
    For Serving

  • Bagel chips
  • Breads
  • Crackers and crisps
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PAT the arils dry with paper towels, ensuring removing as much moisture as possible. You can do this an hour or more in advance and leave the arils on paper towels on the counter to further dry.

    2. PLACE the cheeses and butter along with almonds, horseradish mustard, parsley and seasonings in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 1-2 minutes, scraping the bowl frequently until ingredients are well combined.

    3. SHAPE the mixture into cheese mixture into a large ball and refrigerate. can be made up to 2 days ahead, wrapped and stored in refrigerator. Before serving…

    4. ROLL the ball in pomegranate arils until fully coated. Gently press the arils into the heese ball to adhere. To serve, place on plate with breads, crackers and spreaders.
     
    RECIPE #2: HORSERADISH MUSTARD

    We tend to keep sugar away from where it doesn’t need to be—in savory foods. We just don’t enjoy sugary potato chips or wasabi-flavored mustard. (Honey mustard gets a pass.)

    Numerous recipes for cheese balls contain a sweetened condiment: honey, maple syrup, sugar brown sugar. It’s the same with horseradish mustard.

    We don’t mind a brief hint of sweetness; but if a cheese ball tastes sweet (and it isn’t a sweet style, e.g. with dried fruit, or a dessert ball), it’s too sweet for us.

    Since the cheese ball recipe requires just 1-1/2 teaspoons of the mustard, you can adjust the amounts below accordingly.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup white prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • Optional: sour cream, crème fraiche, mascarpone or plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Preparation

    1. DRAIN the horseradish in a fine strainer or cheesecloth, pushing down with the back of a spoon to remove the excess liquid.

    2. COMBINE with the mustard, mix well and taste. If it’s too strong for you, you can add a bit of sour cream to remove some of the spiciness.But remember, mixing the mustard with the cream cheese will temper the heat.
     
    Variation

    Make a mustard horseradish sauce for meat or poultry, simply by adding one cup of sour cream to recipe above.
     
    MORE CHEESE BALL RECIPES

  • Mini Cheese Balls With Green, Red and Golden Coatings
  • Pecan Pine Cone Cheese Ball (yes, it’s made in the shape of a pine cone)
  •   

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    RECIPE: Lemon Cream Pie

    Lemon Cream Pie

    Zested Lemon

    [1] A yummy way to celebrate National Lemon Cream Pie Day (photo courtesy The Baker Chick). [2] You can use any extra lemon zest to garnish the pie, with or without the candied mint leaves (photo courtesy Sunkist).

     

    It’s November 29th: National Lemon Cream Pie Day.

    We adapted this classic recipe from one of our favorite bakers, Audra, The Baker Chick (who adapted it from Martha Stewart).

    We have two less classic recipes for your consideration:

  • Frozen Lemon Vodka Cream Pie, made with lemon sorbet, frozen lemonade and Greek yogurt
  • Lemon Cream Pie made with sweetened condensed milk
  •  
    For a seasonal touch, we garnished our pie with candied mint leaves (recipe below), an old-fashioned treat that was often served as a confection with afternoon tea.

    RECIPE 31: LEMON CREAM PIE

    Ingredients For 1 Nine-Inch Pie

  • 1 single layer pie crust (here’s Audra’s pie crust recipe)
  •  
    For the Lemon Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  •  
    For the Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon gelatin*
  • Optional garnish: candied mint leaves (recipe below)
  •  
    ________________
    *The gelatin stabilizes the whipped cream topping, so it doesn’t collapse after a few hours. If you plan to serve the pie immediately, you can skip this step.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Roll out the crust and drape it over a 9-inch pie dish, trimming and crimping the sides. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and place it in the freezer while the oven preheats.

    2. LINE the chilled crust with foil and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are set. Remove the the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes. If the crust puffs up, just flatten it with a fork. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F.

    3. MAKE the filling. Whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, sour cream, salt, sugar and zest. Pour into the crust and carefully place back into the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the edges of the pie are completely set, with the inside still a bit jiggly. Let cool completely before proceding. If you’re in a hurry, you can place the pie in the freezer.

    4. MAKE the topping. If using the gelatin, dissolve it in cold water and then place in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until dissolved. Let cool slightly.

    5. WHIP the cream and sugar with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the liquid gelatin and continue to whisk until you have medium peaks. Spread whipped cream onto cooled pie and serve chilled. If using the mint leaves, add just before serving.

     

    RECIPE #2: CANDIED MINT LEAVES

    Also called crystallized mint leaves, crystal mint leaves and sugared mint leaves, we know that President Lincoln and his wife Mary enjoyed them on cakes, in salads and as sweetmeats, along with candied flower petals.

    You can candy edible flowers with the same recipe. Just be sure they’re organic—no pesticides.

    Use them to garnish beverages and desserts, including ice cream.

    The candied leaves must be made 24 hours in advance so they can dry.

    If you can find a specialty mint—apple mint, chocolate mint, lemon bergamot or orange bergamot mint—so much the better!
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 large egg white
  • 12 fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ cup superfine† sugar
  • ________________
    †You can pulse table sugar in a food processor or spice grinder to make it superfine.
     
     
    Preparation

    1. SELECT 12 attractive mint leaves of similar size (unless you want a range of sizes). Remove them from the stalk, keeping the stems with the leaves. Rinse in cool water and gently pat dry with a paper towel.

    2. BEAT the egg white until frothy. If concerned about raw egg whites, use pasteurized egg whites like Davidson’s Safest Choice.

     

    Fresh Mint

    Mint Leaf Garnish

    [3] Fresh mint (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [4] Candied mint leaves are a lovely garnish (photo courtesy VegSpinz).

     
    3. BRUSH a thin layer of egg onto the mint leaves, evenly coating both sides so the sugar sticks evenly. If the mixture is too runny, let it sit a minute before proceeding.

    4. TRANSFER the leaves onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving enough space between them so they don’t stick together. Let them dry for 24 hours, uncovered.

    5. STORE the leaves in an airtight container if not using immediately. If you don’t like the look of the stems, trim them before garnishing (the serve as a convenient handle until then).
     

    CREAM VS. CREME

    What’s the difference between creme and cream? Why do some people write “creme pie” instead of “creme pie?”

    Crème, pronounced KREHM, is the French word for cream. In America, French recipes were served at the tables of the wealthy, many of whom knew how to pronounce French properly.

    As these recipes entered the mainstream, people who did not know French began to pronounce crème (KREHM) as cream (KREEM). Some people dispensed with the accent mark, to provide a mashup of French and English, and either became acceptable.

    But to display your erudition, when discussing a French dish, e.g. Crème Brûlée, use crème; when discussing an American dish, e.g. Chocolate Cream Pie, use cream.

      

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    RECIPE: Cranberry & Pomegranate Holiday Brie

    Baked Brie is a special-occasion favorite, and very easy to make.

    It goes great with sparkling and still wines and cocktails.

    In the spirit of the season, this easy recipe from Liren Baker of Kitchen Confidante will have guests fighting for the cheese knife. It’s a good thing this recipe makes two wheels!

    TIP: If you’re short of time, buy the whole cranberry sauce and only quickly the pecans in spice without candying. You’ll still have a holiday theme on top of the brie.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY POMEGRANATE BAKED BRIE

    Ingredients For 2 Eight-Inch Wheels

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup table sugar, to taste
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils
  • 2 eight-ounce brie wheels
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup candied pecan or walnut halves
  • Garnish: fresh rosemary, spiced or candied pecans or walnuts*
  • Breads and/or crackers for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    Our recommendation is to cook the cranberries two days in advance. The sweetness of the juice and sugar needs time to penetrate the tartness of the cranberries.

    1. COMBINE the cranberries, pomegranate juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, turn the dial to simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until all cranberries have popped.

    2. STIR in the pomegranate arils. Transfer to a jar with a lid; cool completely before adding the lid and placing the cranberries in the fridge. After the first day, taste and add more sweetener as desired.

    3. REMOVE the cranberries from the fridge a few hours before serving; allow them to come to room temperature.

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the wheels of brie on ovenproof serving dishes or on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes, until the cheese starts to soften. Top with the honey and cranberry pomegranate sauce and return to the oven for about 2-3 more minutes, or until the brie is gooey and soft.

    5. REMOVE from the oven, top with candied walnuts and garnish with rosemary. Serve warm with breads and crackers.
     
    RECIPE #2: CANDIED OR SPICED NUTS

    You can candy the nuts—sugar only—or add spice for spiced nuts.

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup nut halves
  •  

    Christmas Baked Brie

    Candied Nuts Recipe

    Fresh Rosemary

    [1] A holiday baked brie from Liren Baker of Kitchen Confidante. [2] Candied walnuts photo courtesy Babble. [3] Rosemary is the “Christmas herb,” because it resembles evergreen (photo courtesy Burpee).

     
    For Spiced Nuts

  • 1/8 teaspoon total* cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and/or cayenne
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sugar, stirring constantly until it dissolves. Take care that the mixture doesn’t scorch.

    2. ADD the nuts and stir to coat thoroughly. Pour the nuts onto a sheet of aluminum foil and let them cool, about 15 minutes. Store up to 2 days in an airtight container.

     
    ________________
    *Try this small amount and then increase the spices according to your preference.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Blood Orange Season, Sorbet & Upside-Down Cake

    Blood orange season runs now through May, offering the different types of blood orange.

    Blood oranges are believed to have originated in either China or the Southern Mediterranean. They have been grown in Italy, Spain and elsewhere since the 18th century, and are now the principal orange grown in Italy.

    California is the number one grower of blood oranges in the U.S. California is the number one grower of blood oranges in the United States. Arizona, Florida and Texas also grow the fruit.

    The main varieties grown in California—the Moro, Sanguinello and Tarocco—vary by the amount of rosy color inside and intensity of raspberry flavor. Some have some blush on the orange rind, some have conventional orange rind color.

    Enjoy your fill of these wonderful oranges, in:

  • Beverages: cocktails, juice, lemonade-blood orange mocktail or blood orange spritzer with club soda
  • Desserts, including fruit salad
  • Green salads: add segments* and/or use the juice in a vinaigrette
  • Pan sauces
  • Other recipes: anywhere you jneed citrus juice
  •  
    Here are recipes for cocktails, salads and mains (fish, lamb) and desserts (cheesecakes, soufflés).

    This recipe from The Circus Gardner goes a step beyond, and adds fresh herbs.
     
    RECIPE #1: BLOOD ORANGE & THYME SORBET

    One of our favorite ways to enjoy blood orange juice is in a sorbet.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 25 ounces/750 ml freshly squeezed blood orange juice (9 to 10 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, very finely chopped
  • 5 ounces/150 ml maple syrup or sugar syrup (simple syrup)
  • Optional garnish: raspberries, candied orange peel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the orange juice, maple syrup and chopped thyme leaves in a large jug and stir or whisk to combine. Chill in the fridge for a hour.

    2. POUR the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and churn. Once it is starting to set, tip the sorbet into a freezer proof container. Cover the container with a lid and freeze for at least 4 hours.

    3. REMOVE the sorbet from the freezer and leave to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

    RECIPE #2: CANDIED CITRUS PEEL

    Ingredients

  • 3 lemons or limes, 1 grapefruit or 2 oranges
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WASH the citrus, pat dry and remove the fruit pulp and as much of the white pith as you can. Cut peel into slices 1/4 inch wide.

    2. BOIL water in a small pan; add peel strips. Boil for 5 minutes, until tender.

     

     
    Blood Oranges

    Moro Blood Oranges

    Blood Orange Sorbet

    Lemon Sorbet Blood Oranges

    [1] The Moro variety of blood orange has less color and less raspberry sweetness than the [2] Sanguinello variety (both photos courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Blood orange sorbet with a thyme teaser (recipe at left; photo courtesy The Circus Gardener). [4] The easiest way to enjoy blood orange: as a garnish for lemon sorbet (photo courtesy Little Park | NYC.

     
    3. REMOVE peels from water and whisk in sugar until dissolved. Return water to a boil; add peels and boil until syrup absorbs into peel.

    4. DRAIN cooked peel on paper towels. After they dry, you can store them in an airtight jar for a week.
    ________________
    *SALAD RECIPE: One of our favorite salads: baby beets, shaved fennel, mesclun and a touch of baby arugula (use baby spinach if you don’t like arugula), topped with a circle of goat cheese and optional toasted nuts. For the vinaigrette, you can reduce blood orange juice with white wine vinegar. Or, adapt the classic, dividing the acid into mix half vinegar, half blood orange juice with olive oil or nut oil in the proportion of 3 parts oil to 1 part acid. We especially like hazelnut or walnut oil with this recipe, but olive oil is just fine. If you have a French nut oil, which tend to be very dense in flavor, you can mix it with olive oil.
    ________________
     
    HISTORY OF UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

    At the beginning of the 20th century, James Dole set out to have canned pineapple in every grocery store in the country. He sold both fresh and canned pineapple grown in Hawaii, but the canned fruit wasn’t perishable, tasted great, and could be sold everywhere.

    The arrival of canned pineapple and recipes to use it engendered the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. It was once America’s most popular cake. It was also known as a skillet cake because it was baked on the stove top in a cast-iron pan.

    The fruit is placed on the bottom of the skillet (or today, the pan); the batter was poured over it. The baked cake is inverted, and the fruit that was once at the bottom forms a decorative topping.

    Read more at: http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cookies/cakes/glossary8.asp#u

    Today, some cooks still prepare the cake in a skillet, as with Recipe #3, below. but is baked in the oven for a more even result.

    Nordicware makes a special pan with indentations to hold the pineapple rings in place in the oven, as well as a pan for individual upside-down minis. The pans have curved bottoms [not angular] to provide a pleasant shape to the inverted cake.

    The recipe below is for a good old-fashioned skillet cake—with blood orange, pineapple or whatever fruit you like. Use apples and you have a Tarte Tatin, an accidental upside-down tart from 1880s France.

    No one can pinpoint exactly when upside-down cake appeared, but 1920s America is the best guess. Cookbooks and magazines published then confirm that canned pineapple was readily available and the maraschino cherry had become popular to garnish the center of the pineapple rings.

    Let’s bring the upside-down cake into the 21st century. RECIPE #3 (below) is a stunning blood orange upside-down cake—nothing retro about it. But first…

     

    Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

    Strawberry Upside Down Cake

    Peach Upside Down Cake

    [5] The beauteous Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake and a [6] Strawberry Upside-Down Cake with buttermilk and brown sugar (here’s the recipe; both photos courtesy Good Eggs). [7] Use any seasonal fruit in an upside-down cake. In the summer, make a Peach Upside-Down Cake (here’s the recipe from Zoe Bakes).

     

    RECIPE #3: BLOOD ORANGE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake is so retro. Put a modern spin on it with this recipe from Good Eggs.

    This cake is best eaten within a few hours of baking. Another note: Good Eggs left the rinds of the orange slices since the result is so pretty. Most people may want to slice them off, so give everyone a fork and knife (a butter knife is fine).

    This gorgeous cake from Good Eggs is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.Rich with the flavors of nutty polenta and blood orange, it’s a dazzler.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, active time is 60 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 2-3 blood oranges, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • ¼ cup blood orange juice
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (do not melt!*)
  • ½ cup polenta
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup of light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Whisk the flour, polenta, baking powder and a pinch of salt together in small bowl. In a larger bowl…

    2. CREAM together 8 tablespoons of butter and the granulated sugar with an electric mixer, to a fluffy, creamy consistency. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time.

    3. ADD half of the flour mixture to the sugar-butter-egg bowl and combine with the mixer on low. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk. Gently fold in the blood orange juice with a spatula.

    4. MELT the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a 8-10″ cast iron skillet and mix in the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the sugar has melted.

    5. REMOVE the pan from the heat and arrange the blood orange slices in a circular pattern in the bottom of the skillet. Pour the batter on top of the orange slices and smooth the top of the batter into a uniform layer with a spatula. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry.

    6. REMOVE from the oven and let the cake rest for 10 minutes. To invert, use a sharp knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the skillet and fit a large plate over the top of the skillet. Hold either end of the skillet and plate together (with pot holders!) and flip the cake over onto the plate.

    7. SERVE ASAP with a side of whipped cream.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Light, Moist Fruitcake Bundt

    Sour Cream Fruitcake

    Dried Cranberries

    Sultanas

    [1] A light, moist fruitcake for people who don’t like the dense ones, from King Arthur Flour. [2] No candied citron here, just dried fruits! Use dried cranberries instead of cherries for a seasonal touch (photo courtesy Ocean Spray). In Merrie Olde England, where fruitcake began, they didn’t have cranberries. [3] Sultanas, or golden raisins, add more brightness than their dark purple relatives (photo courtesy BT.com).

     

    Today is National Cake Day. What cake should you consider?

    Fruitcake of course! Even though National Fruitcake Day isn’t for another month, on December 27th, why should you wait?

    We love a good fruitcake. While most people have had bad experiences with commercial fruitcakes, here’s a quick and easy solution from King Arthur Flour that is both light and moist, thanks to sour cream.

    This tasty fruitcake from King Arthur Flour features a sour cream pound cake base and a filling of dried fruits: cherries, apricots, pineapple and golden raisins. If you don’t like candied fruits, this is the cake for you! Pecans or walnuts complete the picture.

  • For a more colorful cake, add 1 to 1-3/4 cups of red candied cherries to the other fruit.
  • If you’d just like a simple pound cake, omit the fruits altogether and bake it in two pans instead of three.
  • If you’re an aficionado of citron and other candied fruits, feel free to substitute them.
  •  
    TIPS

  • If using a 10-cup (10″) bundt-style pan or several smaller pans, adjust the baking time accordingly. No matter what pan(s) you use, don’t fill them more than three-quarters full, or you’ll be cleaning blackened cake batter off the floor of your oven.
  • If you’re making the cakes well ahead of serving, brush them with brandy or rum before wrapping tightly and storing at room temperature. If desired, sprinkle with glazing sugar or frost with a light glaze before serving.
  •  
    RECIPE: SOUR CREAM FRUITCAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried pineapple, diced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, sour or sweet
  • 1 cup dried apricots, diced, or slivered dried apricots
  • 2 cups golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup brandy or rum, for soaking the fruit
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening or 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup brandy or rum, to add to the cake batter
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 cups walnuts or pecans, chopped
  • Optional: vanilla or rum raisin ice cream for serving
  • Preparation

    1. SOAK the fruit: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together the dried fruits and the 1/2 cup brandy or rum.
    Set the fruit aside for 2 hours or longer. Stir occasionally, so the fruit absorbs the liquor evenly.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour three 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans. Alternately, line them with parchment, leaving an overhang on each side and securing the paper with metal binder clips.

    3. MAKE the cakes: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until fluffy after each addition. Stir in the brandy or rum.

    4. WHISK together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add half the flour to the shortening mixture, and mix well. Add the sour cream, beating all the time, then add the remaining flour and blend well. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally to be sure all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

    5. STIR in the fruits (they should have absorbed all the liquid; if not, don’t drain them) and the nuts. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans.

    6. BAKE the cakes for 55 to 65 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let them cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

    7. STORE, well-wrapped, for 5 days at room temperature. Freeze for up to 3 months.

     
      

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