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RECIPE: Caramelized Onions and Lentil Rice

We love caramelized onions as a topping on so many foods: eggs, baked potatoes, burgers, sandwiches, grilled meats and fish, grains…

Our biggest problem when we make caramelized onions is what we call the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Confrontation:

We can’t stop eating the raw dough in the bowl—or the onions in the pan—such that we end up with a fraction of the finished recipe.

We never overlook an opportunity to make caramelized onions. So when we received the following recipe from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann—which tops lentil rice with caramelized onions—we leapt from computer to kitchen.

You can substitute beans for the lentils, for a caramlized onion spin on rice and beans.


Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes.
Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 can (15.5-ounces) lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

    1. MELT the butter with the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, sugar and some salt and pepper. Cook until the onions become deep brown and sticky, about 20 minutes, stirring every 4 or 5 minutes. If the onions color too quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low. While the onions caramelize…

    2. MAKE the rice. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/caramelized onions lentil rice ingridhoffmannFB 230
    [1] Rice and lentils topped with caramelized onions (photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffman | Food Network).

    Eden Organic Lentils

    [2] We like the flavor of Eden Organic Lentils, which are cooked with onion and bay leaf (photo courtesy Eden Foods).

    3. ADD the rice and stir, cooking it until the grains begin to turn opaque, about 2 minutes. Add the water, lentils and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.

    4. REDUCE the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid, about 20 minutes. Serve topped with the caramelized onions.



    TIP OF THE DAY: An Edible Delicata Vase

    Delicata Squash
    [1] Turn a delicata squash into an edible vase (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Delicata Squash Bouquet
    [2] An edible delicata squash vase from Olmstead | Brooklyn.

    La Quercia Speck

    [3] Domestic speck from La Quercia in Iowa.

    La Quercia Prosciutto

    [4] Domestic prosciutto from La Quercia (photos #3 and #4 courtesy Murray’s Cheese). Prosciutto and speck look almost identical in photos. The difference is in the flavor and aroma. See why below.


    Olmstead, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York, is one of two New York City restaurants that was named to the list of James Beard Award-winning restaurants of 2017 (the other is Le Coucou).

    These delicata squash vases are one of chef Greg Baxtrom’s favorite seasonal dishes. Multiply this recipe by the number of servings you’d like.

    For a vegetarian course, substitute thin curls of a hard cheese like parmesan or aged gouda for the prosciutto/speck.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 delicata squash
  • 2 ounces sliced prosciutto or speck
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 bunch sage
  • 3 tablespoons ricotta
  • 1 smallish green pear
  • 1 bunch mustard greens
  • 1 head lettuce (we used butter lettuce)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Sherry vinegar

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Cut the bottom off the squash so it has a level base, slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Then slice it in half horizontally, to create two “vases” (you’ll have four pieces, and will use two pieces to make one vase). Season with salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes or until tender.

    2. REDUCE the heat to 325°F and bake the prosciutto/speck on a baking sheet until crispy.

    3. HEAT the cooking oil to 300°F and fry the sage for 20 seconds. Remove and set on paper towels to drain.

    4. SEASON the ricotta with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Clean the lettuce and mustard greens. Slice the pear thinly on a mandoline. Dress the lettuce greens and pear with salt, pepper, olive oil and sherry vinegar

    5. ASSEMBLE: Stand up two halves of the squash and fill it halfway with ricotta. Build the vase, adding lettuces to make the bouquet. Decorate the lettuce bouquet with strips of crispy ham, pear slices and sage.

    The delicata is a winter squash, a cream-colored cylindrical shape with green stripes. It is a member of the genus/species Cucurbita pepo, which also includes pattypan squash, pumpkin, yellow crookneck squash, yellow summer squash and zucchini.

    Delicata refers to its delicate rind, which can be eaten. Along with its creamy texture, delicata makes a perfect edible vase. It is often stuffed with meat or vegetable mixtures.

    Delicata squash is most commonly baked, but can also be microwaved, sautéed and steamed. The seeds can be toasted and eaten.

    Indigenous to North and Central America, squash were introduced to early European settlers by Native Americans. References to the delicata date to 1856. While the standard delicata is grows on vines, sweeter bush varieties have been introduced and sold with proprietary names such as Honey Boat and Sugar Loaf [source].

    Delicata is not as rich in beta-carotene as other winter squashes, but is a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, with smaller amounts of vitamins B and C, magnesium and manganese.

    Delicata is also known as Bohemian squash, peanut squash and sweet potato squash. They are easy to grow, mature roughly 105 days after germinating. After harvested, you’ll need to cure them for approximately a week in a warm, dry place, protected from frost. A garage works.


    Prosciutto and speck are very similar hams, both made from the hind leg of the pig, rubbed with salt and spices.

  • Prosciutto is cured by air-drying.
  • Speck is air-dried, then smoked as a final step in the curing process.
  • The result: speck has a smoky flavor, prosciutto does not.


    RECIPE: Soft Pumpkin Pretzels With Pumpkin

    Pumpkin Stout Pretzels
    [1] Warm from the oven and ready to dip in the sweet-and-salty coating. photo courtesy

    Libby Pumpkin Puree
    [2] Be sure to use pumpkin purée, not pumpkin pie filling, which contains sugar and spices (photo courtesy Libby).

    Organic Pumpkin Puree Libby
    [3] Libby and other brands offer organic pumpkin purée (photo courtesy Libby).

    Glass Of Stout

    [4] Enjoy the pretzels with a glass of stout (photo courtesy American Craft Beer).


    Fall begins at 4:02 today, the autumnal equinox.

    An equinox is the moment in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun’s disk. This means that the Sun is exactly overhead at a point on the equator. It occurs twice each year.

  • The Vernal Equinox occurs roughly around March 20th, when the sun crosses the equator, moving north (in the Northern Hemisphere). It marks the beginning of spring: longer days and shorter nights.
  • The Autumnal Equinox occurs around September 23rd, when the sun crosses the equator, moving south (in the Northern Hemisphere). It marks the beginning of fall: shorter days and longer nights.
  • On a these two days, the length of day and night are equal lengths, all over the planet.
  • The word equinox derives from the Latin equi, meaning equal, and nox, meaning night. Here’s more (equinox information).
    That’s the science lesson; now for the treat.


    This recipe, sent to us from the website of the Brewers Association, is a treat you can serve through the end of the year. Buttery, salty and sweet, the pretzels are enhanced favorite fall spices: cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.

    The plain, uncoated pretzels can be frozen. Just wrap them in plastic wrap and place in a zipper-sealed plastic freezer bag. When ready to serve, thaw, brush with butter and toss them in the sugar-spice mixture.

    The recipe was developed by Sandy Smith of Growlers And Prep time is 1.5 hours.

    Serve them with a glass of stout or other favorite beer (the different types of beer).

    Ingredients For 10-12 Large Pretzels

  • 1 cup stout (ideally oatmeal stout, like Samuel Smith’s)
  • 1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 packet dry active yeast*
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup baking soda (for boiling)
    For The Topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick melted butter

    1. COMBINE the stout, pumpkin pureée and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until very warm but not hot (no hotter than 110°F). Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle yeast over the pumpkin mixture. Stir and let stand 5 minutes. At the end of that time, the yeast should be “blooming.”

    2. ADD the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt and spices to the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour in the pumpkin-yeast mixture, add the oil and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to moisten the dry ingredients. If the dough is too dry, add another tablespoon or two of stout. Using the dough hook attachment…

    3. KNEAD on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth ball around the hook and doesn’t cling to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes. The dough won’t quite double, but it should have a decent lift.

    4. LINE baking sheets with parchment and spray with pan spray. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a rope about 18 inches long. Form each dough rope into a pretzel and place on a separate (non-prepared) pan or the countertop. Cover the pretzels with a clean linen cloth and let rise for 25 minutes.

    5. BRING a stockpot or other large pot of water just to a boil. Add the baking soda carefully (it will bubble aggressively for a moment). Stir to dissolve. Boil the pretzels in batches for about a minute, turning halfway through.
    Remove pretzels from water bath and let drain for a minute on clean towels. While you’re boiling the pretzels…

    6. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Place boiled pretzels on the parchment-lined and sprayed baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Transfer the pretzels to a rack to cool completely. While they’re cooling…

    7. COMBINE the sugars, spices and salt in a pie plate or a similarly-rimmed dish. Brush the pretzels with a very light coat of melted butter, then toss in sugar-spice mixture until coated. Ideally, serve warm.


    *If you buy yeast in 1 pound packages instead of individual packets, the equivalent to a single yeast packet is 2.25 teaspoons.


    RECIPE: Summer Squash Crostini With Goat Cheese

    Don’t let summer slip away without trying this sunny bruschetta, for breakfast, lunch, snack or a first course at dinner.

    It was created by Kelley Epstein of Mountain Mama Cooks (her mountain is in Park City, Utah). The recipe was sent to us by Vermont Creamery.

    You can use flavored goat cheese instead of plain. Vermont Creamery makes Creamy Goat Cheese in Classic, Olive & Herb and Roasted Red Pepper, all of which work well with summer squash.

    If you don’t have spreadable goat cheese, use a goat cheese log at room temperature, which makes it more spreadable.

    Ingredients For 4 Large Or 8 Small Pieces

  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 small summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 ripe lemon
  • Pinch salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 oz Vermont Creamery Plain Creamy Goat Cheese or substitute
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 4 slices crusty baguette or french bread, toasted or grilled

    1. SLICE the zucchini and yellow squash as thinly as possible, using a mandoline or sharp knife.

    2. COMBINE the squash, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Let it sit for 30 minutes or so until ready to serve. Then…

    3. TOAST the baguette slices. While they toast…

    4. COMBINE the goat cheese mixture in a food processor with the dill, lemon zest and pepper. Pulse until smooth and incorporated.

    5. SPREAD the goat cheese on each slice of bread and top with zucchini and yellow squash. Top each bruschetta with extra fresh dill and a sprinkle of kosher or coarse sea salt and pepper, if desired.

    The answer, in brief, is the size of the slice, plus grilling versus toasting.


    Summer Squash Bruschetta
    [1] Eat your vegetables…on bruschetta or crostini. The differences are below (this photo shows bruschetta, a larger slice that is grilled instead of toasted; photo courtesy Mountain Mama Cooks).

    Summer Squash
    [2] Zucchini and yellow summer squash (photo courtesy Produce On Parade).

    Vermont Creamery Spreadable Goat Cheese

    [3] Vermont Creamery’s spreadable goat cheese in three varieties: original, olive & herb and roasted red pepper (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery).

    Bruschetta (three or four inches in diameter) are cut from an Italian loaf and grilled; crostini (about two inches in diameter) are cut from a thinner loaf like a baguette, and toasted.

    Bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh) are grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with any variety of items. The toppings can be as simple as extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, to diced tomatoes and basil, to almost any spread, vegetable, cured meat or cheese—even fruit.

    Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

    The word comes from the verb bruscare in Roman dialect, which means “to roast over coals.” If you have access to a grill, grill the bread for authenticity. If not, you can toast it.

    Some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, using it to refer to the topping only and selling jars of “bruschetta” (it should be bruschetta topping). Show your superior knowledge and don’t allow the term to be distorted: The word bruschetta refers to the grilled bread, not the topping.

    Crostini (cruh-STEE-nee) are croutons: not in the American sense of small cubes tossed into soup or salad, but thin slices of toasted bread.

    Smaller than bruschetta, the slices can be cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette one to two inches wide (the word is French for “string”), or from a thinner baguette. The slices are brushed with olive oil, toasted and then topped with spreadable cheese, pâté or other ingredients. Plain crostini are served with soups and salads, like melba toast, or set out with cheese.

    Final take:

  • Large slice grilled = bruschetta.
  • Small slice toasted = crostini.
    An easy memory aid: Crostini = crouton in French. Croutons are toasted (in the oven), not grilled over coals.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Potato Peel Chips

    Don’t send those potato peels to the trash bin.

    Turn them into chips!

    You can make this recipe with the peels from just two potatoes. Or, for a large lot, freeze the peels until you’re ready to defrost and bake.

    Sweet potato peels work, too, as do carrot and other root vegetable peels.



  • Peelings from 4 potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper or 1 teaspoon barbecue rub
  • Optional garnishes: shredded cheddar and chopped scallions, grated parmesan

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

    2. TOSS the potatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake until crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.

    3. SEASON with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with garnishes and serve immediately.

    Here’s more inspiration from Cooktop Cove on how to re-use what you’d normally throw away:

  • Bread Heels
  • Broccoli Stalks
  • Chicken Bones
  • Scallion Root Ends
    Ideas From Life Hacker | Australia include

  • Apple Peel Chips
  • Carrot & Potato Peel Chips
  • Cucumber Peel Spread
  • Parmesan Rind Bites

  • Carrot Greens Chimichurri
  • Greek Broccoli Stalk Salad
  • Sesame-Ginger Radish Greens

    Potato Peel Chips
    [1] Turn peels into chips (photo courtesy Covetop Cook).

    Sweet Potato Peel Chips
    [2] Sweet potato peel chips (photo courtesy What’s Gaby Cooking).

    Carrot Peel Chips

    [3] Potato and carrot peel chips (photo courtesy Life Hacker | Australia.

    Keep an eye out, and you’ll find many ways to use kitchen scraps that are fun to make and eat, and a contribution to a better environment.


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