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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 Snacks

PRODUCT: Crunchmaster Popped Edamame Chips

bag-bowl-230

Chips for wasabi lovers. Photo by Elvira
Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

We love Crunchmaster: The multigrain crackers were a Top Pick Of The Week. They can be used for anything from snacking to garnishing to making a savory crust.

Crunchmaster crackers are Japanese-inspired, from the rice used to make them to usuyaki, the art of handcrafting, aging and baking rice crackers on open grills. The American versions are made in Illinois and Nevada from California rice.

Now, in an even more East-meets-West flavor profile, the company has launched Popped Edamame Chips, rice flour combined with edamame (see below) and seasonings. There are two flavors:

  • Wasabi Soy
  • Sea Salt
  •  
    The chips are light in texture and very crunchy. Both are very tasty, but we love wasabi so Wasabi Soy is a slam dunk.

    Ready to try them? The store locator does not come up in the Firefox (Macintosh) browser, but we were able to access it via Safari.

     
    There’s also an online store and a $1 coupon.

    Rice is a gluten-free grain and the line is certified gluten free.

     

    WHAT ARE EDAMAME?

    Edamame, pronounced eh-dah-MAH-may, are baby soybeans, boiled in salted water and served whole as a snack or appetizer. They can be further flavored with rice wine, Szechuan pepper, nanami togarashi or Chinese Five Spice.

    The name is Japanese for “twig bean” (eda = twig” + mame = bean), referring to young soybeans cropped with their twig (i.e., on the stem). You can find them served this way in Japan, but edamame are an imported product. With the exception of a few ultra-premium Japanese restaurants that import them on the twig, you’ll see the “mame” but not the “eda.”

    The green soybeans in the pod are picked prior to ripening (when they turn into the familiar beige soybean color).

     

    edamame-burpee-230

    Edamame, baby soybeans. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    A popular snack, the boiled soybeans are eaten by pushing them directly from the pods into your mouth; the shell is not eaten. Frozen edamame are available in the pod or shelled.

    Edamame have become a popular addition to recipes as well. Add them to salads, stir-frys, casseroles, soups and almost any savory food. Make a healthy dip. Edamame are attractive garnishes on any food, from baked and mashed potatoes to steaks and chops. They can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.

    And now, turn them into snack chips!

    Edamame are perhaps the healthiest vegetable you can serve. Check out the health benefits of edamame.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Ladybugs On A Stick

    Lady-Bugs-on-a-Stick-calavocomm-230L

    Crunchy, fun and good for you. Photo
    courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     

    Move over, Ants On A Log, the childhood classic made from celery-stuffed cream cheese topped with raisins.

    Ladybugs On A Stick have no cholesterol, the fat from avocado oil is super-healthy, and the tomatoes are lower in calories and more nutritious than raisins.

    You can make or buy guacamole, or combine the mashed avocado and salsa as shown below. Thanks to the California Avocado Commission for the nifty idea.

    RECIPE: LADYBUGS ON A STICK

    Ingredients For 8 Sticks

  • 1 ripe avocado*, seeded, peeled and mashed
  • ¼ cup prepared salsa, or to taste
  • 8 celery stalks, washed and trimmed
  • 12 small grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  •  
    *Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados, adjust the quantity accordingly.

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the salsa and the mashed avocado.

    2. FILL the hollow in each celery stalk with the guacamole, taking care to keep it in the groove and not on the rims. For precision, you can use a piping bag or a plastic food storage bag with a corner cut off.

    3. NESTLE 3 grape tomato halves atop the guacamole on each celery stalk.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Turkey Realsticks

    turkey-realsticks-honeymustard-vtsmokeandcure-230

    New Honey Mustard Turkey Realsticks. Photo
    courtesy Vermont Smoke and Cure.

     

    Vermont Smoke and Cure has added three new turkey flavors to its award-winning RealSticks collection.

    Made from all-natural, humanely raised turkey, the new RealSticks flavors include Turkey Ancho, Turkey Honey Mustard and Turkey Uncured Pepperoni. They join BBQ, Chipotle, Cracked Pepper and Original.

    For those who want an all natural, grab-and-go meat snack, the one-ounce sticks are easy to carry and easy to eat—no mess. They provide a boost of long-lasting energy for just 70 calories per stick, and 0-2 carbs depending on flavor. The products are gluten free and have no unpopular additives: no antibiotics, no hormones, no sodium nitrite, no preservatives, no soy and no MSG.

    The snacks meet USDA school snack sodium guidelines, with 75% less fat and 50% less salt than leading brands.

    RealSticks retail for $1.69 per 1-ounce stick or $29.95 per box of 24 sticks. You can find them at natural foods stores, select Whole Foods Markets, specialty outdoor retailers, and online at VtSmokeAndCure.com.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Beer & Beer Nuts PB Sandwich

    Beer Nuts and PB Sandwich. Photo by
    Theresa Raffetto | Peanut Butter & Co. Food
    styling by Matt Vohr.

     

    For your St. Patrick’s Day consideration, how about a PB and Beer Nuts sandwich with your beer?

    Beer Nuts is a brand of peanuts with a sweet-and-salty glaze. They don’t contain beer. Rather, they were marketed as a more glamorous accompaniment to beer than the ubiquitous salted peanuts.

    In this concept, Peanut Butter & Co. founder Lee Zalben topped a piece of rustic whole wheat bread with his Smooth Operator creamy premium peanut butter, plus crunchy Beer Nuts.

    We prefer our PB with a kick, so we substituted his The Heat Is On peanut butter, blended with cayenne peppers, chili powder and crushed red peppers.

    The PB & Co. line is certified kosher by OU.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN BEER NUTS

    Classic beer nuts are sweet and salty, but you can tweak the recipe to add additional flavors: cinnamon for sweetness or cayenne pepper for heat. You can use Beer Nuts on a PB sandwich, ice cream, salad, yogurt, as a soup garnish and in many other ways—including straight snacking, of course.

    Ingredients For 4.5 Cups

  • 4-1/2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup water
  • Optional spices: cayenne, cinnamon or other favorite
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING peanuts, sugar salt and water to a boil in a saucepan. Continue to boil until all liquid is absorbed, about 25-30 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 300°F.

    3. SPREAD nuts on lightly greased jelly roll pan; sprinkle with salt and optional spices as desired. Bake 20 minutes.

    4. REMOVE from oven, gently stir and sprinkle with more salt as desired. Bake for 20 more minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Parmesan Popcorn, Jalapeño Popcorn

    Following up on our “Diet Oscars” menu, here’s a recipe for flavored popcorn. In addition to movie-watching (or movie award show-watching), gourmet popcorn goes well with cocktails, wine and beer.

    Don’t like cheese or rosemary? Head to Popcorn.org, the website of the The Popcorn Board, for scores of flavored popcorn recipes.

    The recipes yield four quarts of flavored popcorn: 16 one-cup servings (or for our family, four one-quart servings).

    We made these recipes with imported Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese because we love the superior flavor; but you can use domestic Parmesan. You’ll get better flavor if you grate it freshly, rather than buy pre-grated (and please, nothing from a can!). Here’s the difference between the imported and domestic versions.

     

    rosemary-parmigiano-popcorn-230

    Brighten up cheese popcorn with some rosemary. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     
    RECIPE: ROSEMARY & PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO POPCORN

    Ingredients For 4 Quarts

  • 4 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely crushed rosemary (fresh or jarred)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt (or substitute sea salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, optional
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE popcorn in a large serving bowl.

    2. MIX butter, olive oil and rosemary together in a small bowl; microwave 20 seconds to melt butter. Stir butter mixture and pour over popcorn; toss. Sprinkle cheese, garlic salt and pepper over popcorn.

    3. TOSS again and serve.

     

    cheesy-jalapeno-popcorn-recipe-230

    Kick up the cheese popcorn with jalapeño.
    Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    RECIPE: JALAPEÑO CHEESE POPCORN

    Ingredients For 16 One-Cup Servings

  • 4 quarts popped popcorn
  • 2-3 teaspoons jalapeño green hot sauce or more to taste (you can substitute whatever hot sauce you have)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (substitute cheese with brewer’s yeast for a low fat alternative)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE popcorn in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle popcorn with hot sauce, Parmesan cheese and garlic salt.

    2. TOSS and serve immediately.

     
    AND IT’S GOOD FOR YOU!

    It’s a pleasant surprise: home-popped popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can enjoy.

    It’s full of polyphenols, antioxidants that help to neutralize the free radicals that contribute to aging. In fact, popcorn has one of the highest levels of polyphenols of any plant food.

    It’s also a whole grain, packed with fiber. If you use just a little butter or cheese, you’re adding a bit of cholesterol; but it’s just as easy to skip the cheese, use olive oil, and pile on lots of herbs and spices.

    Note that prepackaged, store-bought microwave popcorn is less good for you, made with chemicals and synthetics for flavoring and coloring.

    So pop it yourself—it’s easy enough! You can also make the following recipe without oil; but the amount we use is neglible. For an interesting twist, experiment with other oils you may have on hand: nut oils, sesame oil, etc.
     
    RECIPE: EASY MICROWAVE POPCORN

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • Brown paper lunch bag
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the popcorn and oil in a bowl and mix to coat. Add to bag and sprinkle in the salt. Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal in the ingredients.

    2. MICROWAVE on full power for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes, listening until you hear pauses of 2-3 seconds between pops and remove the bag from the microwave. (Even tough there may be some unpopped kernels, to continue cooking risks burning the popped kernels.)

    3. OPEN the bag carefully, releasing the hot steam; then pour into a serving bowl.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Carrots In Love

    Who would want to eat these carrots and destroy their charm? But wiser minds argue that if they aren’t eaten, they’ll just wither away.

    Point taken, and it’s a moot point too, since we are not in possession of these carrots in love.

    But we do have a bag of baby carrots, and the photo inspired us to create a healthful carrot snack, tricked out for the occasion.

    VALENTINE CARROTS

    Ingredients

  • A bag of baby carrots
  • Red food color or beet juice* (from the can of beets)
  • A dip base—plain Greek yogurt or hummus, for example
  • Optional chives, dill or other herb for yogurt dip
  • Optional garnish or mix/in: finely diced cooked beets (sliced canned beets work)
  •  

    carrots-in-love-doleFB-230s

    Isn’t nature grand? Photo via Dole | Facebook.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE yogurt dip: If choosing plain Greek yogurt, season with herbs and garlic.

    2. COLOR the dip (yogurt or hummus) with food color or beet juice.

    3. CREATE a very small dice of beets. Mix them into the yogurt or hummus.

    4. GARNISH the dip bowl with a rim of diced beets, if desired; and scatter with minced herbs.
     
    *Beet juice is available at some supermarkets and at most health food stores. It’s delicious, high in antioxidants and low in calories. For a yogurt dip especially, beet juice adds flavor that red food color does not.

      

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    SUPER BOWL: Jalapeño Chips

    jalapeno-chips-cookingplanit

    These are a real treat with a cold beer. Photo
    courtesy Cooking Planit.

     

    One of our favorite Top Picks Of The Week is Deano’s Jalapeno Chips, crunchy nuggets of chile heat. They are terrific with a beer and as a garnish on anything from hors d’oeuvre to mashed potatoes.

    Alas, as with so many artisan products, your only access to them may to be to order them online. But if you like to fry, you can make your own.

    Here’s a recipe created by Emily Wilson for Cooking Planit. Crisp, hot and spicy, you’ll want to make a double or triple batch if you’re having guests—they’ll disappear quickly.

    Buy the largest jalapeños you can find for bigger chips.

    RECIPE: JALAPEÑO CHIPS

    Ingredients

  • 4 large fresh jalapeño chiles
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup flour
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • Optional dip (see below)
  • Preparation

    1. CUT the stem ends off the jalapeños. Avoid touching your face when handling peppers; you may wish to wear protective latex gloves. For the hottest jalapeños, leave the seeds and white ribs inside. To reduce the heat, use a paring knife to gently cut inside each jalapeño and remove the seeds and ribs. A thin object such as a skewer or a chopstick can also help to scrape out the seeds.

    2. SLICE each jalapeño crosswise into 1/8 inch thick rounds. Wash hands thoroughly—or remove and wash gloves—immediately after handling chiles. This removes the chemical capsaicin, which will cause unpleasant stinging should your fingers connect with your eyes.

     

    3. POUR flour into a shallow, wide bowl. Pour panko bread crumbs into another shallow, wide bowl.

    4. CRACK the eggs into a third shallow, wide bowl and whisk to combine well. Line up the 3 bowls: flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs. Set a clean plate at the end near the panko.

    5. DREDGE a few of the jalapeño slices in the flour, coating both sides. Shake off excess, then dip in the egg mixture. Coat both sides again, shake off excess, then dredge in the panko. Coat both sides, shake off excess, then transfer to the clean plate. Repeat with remaining slices.

    6. PREPARE a plate with layers of paper towels. Set plate near the stove for the cooked jalapeños.

     

    1152179_jalapenos_Brybs-230

    Slice ‘em, bread ‘em, fry ‘em. For less heat, remove the centers, retaining only the green rings. Photo courtesy Brybs | SXC.

     

    7. POUR the canola oil into a large pot, about 2 inches deep (about 3 cups of oil, depending on the size of your pot). Heat the oil over medium heat to 350°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, heat the oil until it looks shiny, about 5-8 minutes.

    8. USE one jalapeño slice as a tester. Gently place it in the oil. If bubbles form quickly and it floats to the surface, the oil is ready. Add more pieces but do not crowd them in the oil—work in batches as necessary. If the tester sinks to the bottom and bubbles don’t form, the oil is not ready. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tester and wait a few more minutes.

    9. FRY the jalapeños until golden and crispy, about 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to flip them so they fry evenly and turn golden on both sides. Transfer them to the plate lined with paper towels. Season with salt as soon as they come out of the oil.

    10. As the jalapeños cook, the oil temperature rises. So remove the oil from the heat for at least 3 minutes to cool it down between batches. Repeat the tester drill before each new batch.

    11. TRANSFER the jalapeño chips to a serving dish. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Extras will keep in an airtight container for a few days.
     
    OPTIONAL DIPS

    As with any chips, no dip is needed; but you can serve the jalapeño chips with:

  • Pesto
  • Salsa
  • Spicy mayonnaise (blend mayo with hot sauce and optional chili powder, oregano or other herb)
  • Yogurt dip (a cool dip to offset the heat—blend yogurt with chives, garlic, salt and pepper or try this citrus yogurt dip
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Popcorn Squares, A Whole Grain Alternative to Rice Krispie Treats

    These popcorn squares from Popcorn.org are a crunchy companion to yesterday’s popcorn ice cream. They’ve got just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy, plus popcorn, a whole grain.

    While they’re appropriate munching for the Golden Globes or Academy Awards, they’re also good picnic fare.

    RECIPE: POPCORN SQUARES

    Ingredients For 12 Squares

  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup reduced fat peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup raisins, chips or mini M&Ms
  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
  •  
    Halloween Option

     

    Popcorn squares are full of favorites like raisins, chips, M&Ms and peanut butter. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     
    Press candy corn into the top when the pan comes out of the oven, before the squares are cool enough to slice. Candy corn will melt in the oven. M&Ms and chocolate chips do melt in the oven but solidify again as they cool.

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE corn syrup, sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a large saucepan.

    2. BRING to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly; boil 2-3 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.

    3. COMBINE popcorn and raisins in large bowl; pour hot mixture over popcorn and toss carefully with wooden spoons to mix until well-coated.

    4. SPRAY a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; press popcorn mixture into pan and cool completely.

    5. CUT into squares and serve.

     
    Find more fun popcorn recipes at Popcorn.org.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make An Edible Popcorn Bowl

    This serving bowl can be eaten when it’s empty. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    If you’re planning a quiet New Year’s Eve at home, need something to bring to a party or are thinking ahead to the Super Bowl, have fun with this idea from The Popcorn Board.

    The bowl is made from popcorn, which you then fill with more popcorn—or be contrarian and fill it with chips or pretzels.

    You can use different food coloring for different holidays, themes or teams.

    RECIPE: EDIBLE POPCORN PARTY BOWL

    Ingredients

  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 drops food color, optional
  • Preparation

    1. SPRAY the inside of a large stainless steel bowl with cooking spray and similarly spray the outside of a second large stainless steel bowl; set aside. These 2 bowls will be used to form popcorn bowl at end of cooking time. (Note: If one bowl is smaller than the other, spray the outside of the smaller bowl.)

    2. SPRAY the inside of a third large bowl with cooking spray and place popped popcorn inside; set aside.

    3. STIR sugar, water, corn syrup, vinegar and salt together in a medium sauce pan. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and boil for 3 minutes to allow steam to wash down sides of pan.

    4. REMOVE pot lid and attach candy thermometer to pan. Allow mixture to boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 290°F. Stir in food color, if desired. Working quickly, pour syrup over popcorn and toss with a large spoon until popcorn is thoroughly coated.

    5. POUR popcorn mixture into first prepared bowl and use a spoon to push mixture evenly up onto sides of bowl. Firmly press the second prepared bowl onto popcorn to form popcorn bowl. Allow popcorn bowl to cool completely between stainless steel bowls.

    6. SERVE: Tip popcorn bowl out and place on platter. Fill with popcorn or other snacks to serve.

    Find more popcorn recipes at Popcorn.org.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Popcorn Snowman

    Take a bite of Frosty. Photo and recipe courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    Make these today for Christmas Eve, or to enjoy instead of traditional Christmas popcorn balls.

    RECIPE: POPCORN SNOWMAN

    Ingredients For 5 Snowmen

  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 package (16 ounces) large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Decorations: sprinkles, licorice shoelace, gum drops, cinnamon candies, etc.
  •  
    Preparation
    1. MELT marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let stand for 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn and stir.

    2. COVER your palms with butter and shape the popcorn into balls. Decorate as desired, using royal icing to affix candies. Let set.

     

    HAT TRICK

    You can make the snowman’s hat from:

  • A miniature cookie and a large marshmallow
  • A nonpareil an a Rolo chocolate caramel candy
  •  
    Stick the pieces together with some royal icing, and use the same icing to affix the hat to the snowman.

      

    Comments

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