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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 Rice/Beans/Grains/Seeds

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Amazing Rice Cube

From hors d’oeuvre to sushi to snacks,
Rice Cube turns out dazzling food in minutes.

 

Faster than most recipes. More powerful than many kitchen utensils. Able to turn out dazzling foods in a single bound.

It’s our latest super gadget find, the Rice Cube.

This handy gadget will help you turn out impressive foods for just about any purpose—from hors d’oeuvre and sides to snacks and desserts.

And it’s so easy, even the kids can help out, or create their own kid-flavored snacks: carrots and peas rice cubes, peanut butter and raisin rice cubes…the combinations are infinite, and include everything from BBQ pork to smoked salmon to a “rice pudding” cube.

Rice Cube also helps you make sushi at home without having to master the rolling mat.

Check out this amazing little gadget.

Good things come in small packages. Consider the Rice Cube for holiday gifts for friends who love to cook and entertain.

Perhaps your first social event of the new year can be a cube-off competition.

 

Rice Cube can “cube” other foods, as well. Read the full review.

RICE 101

There’s more to rice than “white” and “brown.” Take a look at our glamorous Rice Glossary for gourmet rices that are begging to be cubed.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Eat More Barley

Chilled barley salad is a healthful summer
dish. Photo courtesy Zabars.com.

 

Barley evokes winter and hearty soups, but it’s a year-round food.

It’s extremely healthful (details below). And it’s a whole grain, part of the group of cereals recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (at least 3 servings of whole-grain foods per day).

It’s extremely high in fiber. A cup of oatmeal: 3.98 grams. A cup of barley: 13.6 grams of your DV of 48 grams of whole grain.

Barley is as versatile as any cereal grain (corn, rice and wheat, for example). It has a rich, nutty flavor and a chewy consistency (like pasta).

You can substitute barley for rice, potatoes or other starch as a side with dinner. Or enjoy a chilled barley salad with lunch or dinner.

Try this barley salad recipe, with toasted pine nuts, dried cherries and goat cheese. It can be served at room temperature, chilled or warm.

 

For maximum nutrition, select whole or hull barley (with the bran intact). The prettier pearled or hull-less barley has its outer bran and husk removed, leaving only a small white “pearl” of endosperm.

See the recipe for the health benefits of barley.

  

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COOKING VIDEO: Homemade Baked Beans Recipe

 

July is National Baked Bean Month.

If you’ve only eaten baked beans from a can, it’s time to whip up some homemade baked beans in your oven or slow cooker. Vive la différence!

All you need are navy beans and pantry basics like baking soda, brown sugar, dry mustard and molasses. Soak the beans overnight to remove the indigestible complex sugars from the outer coating (oligosaccharides) that cause bloating and gas.

Enjoy your baked beans with franks or burgers, anything off the grill, on toast for breakfast or lunch, as a side with sandwiches or Southern-style, with a side of cornbread.

Once you see how easy it is, you can bring the baked beans to cookouts and potlucks—to great acclaim from all the others who’ve only had canned baked beans.

Recipe Tips

  • You can cut the brown sugar in the recipe by half. You’ll still get plenty of sweetness from two tablespoons, plus the tablespoon of ketchup.
  • Instead of the sausage used in the recipe (or in addition to it), add bacon. Prior to putting the beans into the oven, scatter the top with one-inch strips cut from four pieces of raw bacon. If you don’t want the extra bacon fat, pan-fry pieces of crispy bacon, break them into one-inch chunks and top the beans when they emerge from the oven.
  •  
    Beans are a nutritious, fiber-packed, filling, inexpensive, crowd-pleasing food.

  • Learn about bean nutrition.
  • See the different types of beans in our Bean Glossary.
  •    

       

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    COOKING VIDEO: How To Soak Dried Beans

     

    Too many people refrain from cooking delicious, nutritious dried beans because the preparation—soaking the beans—seems like too much trouble.

    It couldn’t be easier! And you may not have to soak them overnight: The fresher the beans, the more moisture they retain so less soaking is required.

    As you’ll see in this video, all you need to do is:

    1. The video is missing an important first step: Rinse the beans in a collander under cold running water.
    2. Sort through the beans and pick out any broken ones, plus extraneous matter such as the occasional pebble.
    3. Place the beans in a bowl or pot to soak: 2 cups cold water per one cup beans.
    4. When the beans grow larger in size and can be chewed, strain the beans from the water. You’re ready to cook!

    Learn your bean types in our Bean Glossary.

    FOOD TRIVIA: Lima beans have been cultivated in Peru since 6000 B.C.E. Their common name comes from Lima, Peru’s capital city. That makes the correct pronounciation LEE-mah beans, not LYE-muh beans. But who’s going to correct the American public?.

       

       

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    IN SEASON: Fresh Morel Mushrooms

    Exotic, delicious wild morels are a fleeting spring
    treat. Photo by Yin Yang | IST.

     

    While dried morel mushrooms are available year round—and are a treasured ingredient in soups, stews and sauces—this is fresh morel season.

    These incredibly flavorful gifts of nature, with their earthy and woodsy aroma and flavor, have a distinctive look: a honeycombed, hollow, cone-shaped cap atop a ’shroom that ranges in size from 2 to 4 inches high. Colors vary from blonde, grey or tan to an extremely dark brown.

    Morels are gathered by hand in the woods, and brought to specialty markets. Look for the #1 grade, meaning that each mushroom is a whole, young specimen with a white stem.

    FOOD TRIVIA: Morels are one of the first species to colonize forests after a fire, which may explain the intense earthy, smoky and nutty flavors that characterize their taste.

  • Everything you want to know about morels.
  • Morel recipes.
  • Meet the whole mushroom family in our Mushroom Glossary.
  •  

     

    Thanks to MarxFoods.com for inspiring this post.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lightlife

    A couple of months ago, we received an invitation to two industry events on the same evening.

    One was for the Lightlife brand of vegan “meat” products. The other was to the opening of celebrity chef Todd English’s new restaurant.

    We made plans to stop by and taste Lightlife, a product line we’d never tried, and then head to Todd English’s restaurant. Here’s how the evening turned out:

    We liked the Lightlife foods so much, we stayed the entire evening, happily tasting everything. We never made it to the restaurant. Could there be a better endorsement of how good the Lightlife “vegan meat” products are?

    We are neither vegetarian nor vegan. We eat everything that’s delicious, and nothing that isn’t.

    Eating more vegan foods (products without any animal-based ingredients) supports our personal commitment to eating more sustainably. As much a we love meat, cheese and dairy foods, producing them takes a big toll on the planet.

     

    Lightlife’s vegan Chick’n Corn Chowder
    is enhanced with “bacon.” Both meats are
    made from tempeh, a soy-based protein,
    and are delicious. Photo courtesy Lightlife Foods.

     

    The line is certified vegan and kosher by OK. Read the full review. It also explains the differences between tempeh, tofu and seitan.

    If you’re looking for delicious, prepared vegan food, also see these Top Picks Of The Week:

  • Field Roast Grain Meat Company
  • Vegetarian Plus Asian Entrées

      

  • Comments

    TRENDS: Eat Hemp & Support Hemp Farming

    The second Annual Hemp History Week ended yesterday.

    The national grassroots education campaign aims to renew support for hemp farming in the U.S. Although illegal today, hemp was traditionally grown in the U.S. by many farmers—including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper!

    In addition to edible hemp seed, hemp has long been used to make fiber for rope and textiles.

    The growing of hemp as a food and textile crop was banned in 1957, due to federal confusion over industrial hemp and marijuana.

    While there is pending legislation to change the situation, currently no live hemp plant (specifically, leaves and stems) can enter the U.S. But the seeds and end products containing them can be imported.

     

    Shelled hemp seeds are a delicious addition
    to salads. Photo by Elinor D. | Wikimedia.

     

    Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious foods around. Hemp, along with quinoa, is one of the few plant foods that are a complete protein (containing all the essential amino acids). Hemp seed is packed with protein, omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (the highest levels of any plant source) and magnesium. The flavor is mild, similar to sunflower seeds.

    If only hemp were legal, it would add inexpensive protein to our diet. Instead of appearing only in niche health foods, large manufacturers would use it to add protein to cereal, milk and other foods.

    Currently, Americans can purchase hemp seed powder to add to smoothies and other foods; shelled hemp seeds to sprinkle on salads, soups, veggies, yogurt and hot and cold breakfast cereals (very tasty!); and hemp seed oil for salads.

    Beyond nutrition, an excellent reason to legalize hemp growing is that it can be a salvation to many of America’s farmers.

    It is difficult for many American farm families to earn a living from farming. Farmers earn $25/acre for growing corn. Hemp would yield $200/acre, giving them the income they need to keep their family farms.

    Now that you know, support hemp farming. Write to your state and federal representatives. Not only does the federal government need to legalize hemp farming, but each state must also legalize it in order to allow its farmers to grow hemp.

    Learn more at VoteHemp.com and follow the link to send a pre-written email, fax or letter to your legislators to let them know how you feel about the status of hemp in the U.S.

    And don’t forget to enjoy the benefits of hemp as a high protein nutritional supplement. Start with sprinkling the tiny seeds onto your salads. If you typically eat a low-protein vegetable salad for lunch, it’s just what the doctor (or nutritionist) ordered. Two tablespoons of hemp seed provides 11 grams of protein, as much as a chicken drumstick.

    Our favorite hemp food: the hemp bagels from French Meadow Bakery.

      

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    PRODUCT: Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice

    Absolutely delish: a mix of quinoa and brown
    rice, deftly seasoned. Photo courtesy Seeds
    Of Change.

     

    The Uyuni Salt Flats of southeast Bolivia, high in the Andes Mountains, are best known for salt production. But quinoa has been cultivated there by the Incas for some 5,000 years.

    Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wa or KEE-noo-ah, is an exceptionally nutritious supergrain (in fact, it’s the Quechua/Inca word for “mother grain” or “super grain”).

    Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. A complete protein equivalent to milk, it contains all eight essential amino acids and a portfolio of vitamins and minerals. Everyone should eat more quinoa.

    Our discovery of the week is a shelf-stable (no refrigeration required), 90-second microwavable package of quinoa and whole grain brown rice from Seeds Of Change.

    This whole-grain combo is deftly seasoned with black pepper, garlic, onion, parsley and sea salt. The earthy flavor of quinoa tempered with nutty brown rice is a winner. We consume lots of quinoa and lots of brown rice, and the mixture is magical.

     
    Serve it with anything or enjoy it as a high-protein, whole grain snack.

    Seeds Of Change products are certified organic by the USDA and QAI. The company contributes 1% of net sales to advance the cause of sustainable organic agriculture world wide.

    Print out a $1.00 coupon at SeedsOfChangeFoods.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Grits

    First made by Native Americans, grits are an ubiquitous menu item in the American South. The area from Virginia to Texas is even called the “Grits Belt,” where grits are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and that sounds great to us!).

    Grits are the hard part of the corn kernel (the endosperm), cut into uniform small pieces. They are related to polenta, which is made from a different type of corn and is usually a finer grind. Another related product, farina, known in the U.S. as cream of wheat, is made from semolina flour.

    For the record, corn is classified by the type of starch in its kernels. Dent corn, the premier corn in the South, has a relatively soft, starchy center that makes the best grits. Flint corn, used for polenta, has a hard, starchy endosperm and produces a more granular cornmeal with a better texture (mouthfeel).

    Learn all about grits and get the recipe for creamy cheese grits.

     

    You don’t have to be from the South to
    enjoy a breakfast of bacon, eggs and
    grits. Photo by Sasha Fatcat | Wikimedia.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tea Martini

    Infuse tea to make a “marTEAni.” Photo
    courtesy Hershey Resorts.

     

    Combine your passions for martinis and tea with a tea martini. Green tea, Earl Grey and chai are three of the more popular teas to infuse.

    You can substitute another tea variety in this recipe for an Earl Grey MarTEAni, from Tavalon Tea. The key to any good recipe is to use the best ingredients. So use fine loose tea, not a supermarket brand which typically requires milk and sugar to compensate for the blandness.

    (We buy the best tea and, as with fine wine, never add milk or sugar to it.)

    TEA MARTINI RECIPE

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 750ml bottle vodka or gin (vodka is a neutral spirit; gin will add more complex flavors)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of Earl Grey or other favorite tea
  • 1.5 ounces (small jigger) Earl Grey-infused vodka (see preparation below)
  • 1.5 oz (small jigger) Meyer Lemon juice, fresh squeezed (Meyer lemons are just coming into season, but you can substitute any fresh lemon juice*)
  • 1.5 oz (small jigger) simple syrup (recipe)
  • Splash ginger ale
  • Lemon wheel or curl for garnish
  • Ice and shaker
  •  

    *See our Lemon Glossary for the different types of lemon. The “supermarket lemon” is the Lisbon lemon.

    Preparation
    1. Infuse tea by combining tea leaves and vodka in a large bottle.† Replace bottle top and shake vigorously to distribute evenly. Allow to “steep” for just 30 minutes (no longer, or else the bitter tannins start to infuse). Strain into the vodka bottle.
    2. Combine vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds to fully incorporate.
    3. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a splash of ginger ale and garnish with lemon wheel.

    †If you don’t have an extra bottle, you can infuse the tea in the vodka bottle. Then, strain into a pitcher or other container and pour back into the vodka bottle.

      

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