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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 Spreads & Dips

TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Tzatziki, A Multitasking Food

Tzatziki tops minced smoked salmon for a
sophisticated appetizer. Photo by Grenouille
Films | IST.

 

Certain condiments are multitaskers, such that they can be used at different times of the day to make basic foods more interesting.

Salsa, from Mexico, is one example. Greek tzatziki (tsah-tsee-kee) is another.

A chilled mixture of yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt and some fresh herbs (dill, mint or parsley), the cucumbers can be seeded and finely diced or puréed and strained.

Classic uses in Greek cuisine include as:

  • A spread or dip with pita (try toasting pita wedges)
  • An omelet filling or sauce
  • Part of a mezze plate (add hummus, babaganoush, olives and pepperoncini, feta cheese)
  • A sauce or side with meat, poultry and fish entrées (we particularly love it with salmon)
  • A condiment for gyros and souvlaki*
  •  

    More ways to enjoy tzatziki:

  • As a healthy snack, with crudités or whole wheat pretzels
  • On a burger or sandwich, instead of conventional condiments
  • In a baked potato, with cooked vegetables and grains
  • As a garnish in cold soups
  • As a salad dressing (thin with some vinegar)
  • With salmon recipes (cucumbers and salmon are a natural pairing)
  • In a creative recipe of your choosing, such as the smoked salmon (or salmon tartare) in the photo above
  •  
    Made with nonfat Greek yogurt, tzatziki is one of the healthiest sauces or condiments you can find, tasty and low in calories.

    Try this tzatziki recipe.

    People with lactose intolerance can use soy milk yogurt or try buffalo’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk yogurts, all of which are more easily digestible than cow’s milk yogurt.

    More of our favorite dips and salsas.

     
    *What’s the difference between a gyro and souvlaki? The preparation and shape. Souvlaki is cubes of meat (lamb, pork, chicken), cooked on individual skewers. The word means “small skewer” in Greek. The meat can be served on the skewer, on a bed of rice or in a piece of pita. Gyro means “going around.” A leg of lamb or other meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie. The meat is sliced from the leg and served in pita. Döner kebap (“rotating meat” in Greek) and shawarma (“turning”) are other words from different regions, referring to the same food.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Healthy Onion Dip Recipe

     

    Have you planned your Super Bowl menu yet? Are you looking for healthy options?

    In the chips-and-dips department, we save on fats with Popchips potato chips and go for the more nutritious whole wheat pretzels. Both products are just as delicious as their less-healthy counterparts.

    Making a yummy fat-free or low-fat dip is easy. In this video recipe, you’ll see how to make a delectable onion dip with caramelized onions, fresh chives and nonfat yogurt.

    We have three tips to add to those in the video:

  • Use nonfat Greek yogurt—it’s thicker, creamier and closest to sour cream.
  • Caramelize the onions in heart-healthy olive oil. Here’s the separate recipe to caramelize the onions. While you’re at it, caramelize lots of onions and keep them in the fridge to add to baked potatoes, burgers, eggs, main course proteins, sandwiches and more.
  • Never use pre-ground pepper. Always freshly grind it with a pepper mill.
  •  
    MORE DIP RECIPES

    Find them in our Salsas & Dips Section. Another healthy recipe is this white bean dip, which is dairy-free and packed with bean protein, fiber and other nutrition.

    And don’t over look the Tequila Guacamole!

       

       

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Blackeyed Peas For The New Year

    If you’ve lived in the South, you may know the custom of eating blackeyed peas or other legumes on New Year’s Day. The dish is served for luck and prosperity in the New Year.

    The tradition dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops confiscated crops and livestock, leaving the population with little to eat.

    What remained were legumes and greens, which kept the populace from starving.

    It’s easy to honor tradition, with this easy blackeyed pea salsa. The recipe is by chef Tom Fraker and provided by Melissas.com. If you’d like something heartier, try this blackeyed pea stew recipe.

    BLACKEYED PEA SALSA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 11 ounces blackeyed peas, cooked
  • 2 cups roma (plum) tomatoes, small dice
  • 1/2 medium red onion, small dice
  • 1 green jalapeño, small dice
  • 1 red Fresno chile, small dice
  • 1 Meyer lemon, juiced
  • 3 Key limes, juiced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  

    Black-eyed pea salsa. Photo courtesy
    Melissas.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and gently mix to incorporate.
    2. Serve with chips, beer, margaritas or your favorite beverage.

    ABOUT BLACKEYED PEAS: THEY’RE BEANS

    Blackeyed peas (also spelled black-eyed) are medium-sized, ivory-colored beans with a large black coloration (the “eye”) on the inner curve of the beans, where they are attached to the pod.

    Related to the mung bean, blackeyed peas originated in Eastern Asia and were brought to the Americas with the African slave trade, and were a staple of many plantation diets. They remain best known as a Southern dish, where they are often served with ham and rice.

    Blackeyed peas have a sweet, mild flavor and firm texture, and absorb the flavors of a dish very well.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Make A Black Bean Salsa Dip

     

    Why spend money on small jars of “specialty” bean dip when it’s so easy to make your own? You can use black beans (also known as common beans and turtle beans, among other names) or white beans (use cannellini, Great Northern or marrow bean varieties).

    The cooking video below demonstrates a chunky black bean salsa dip: a combination of beans, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice and zest. (The word “dip” is extraneous, except when necessary to explain to non-Mexicans what to do with it.)

    Personally, we skip the last step in the video recipe, which adds the juice, zest and segments of an orange. It’s a “fusion” addition: The orange originated in Southeast Asia* and although available in modern Mexico, isn’t part of traditional Mexican cuisine. Instead, add a cup of cooked or raw corn kernels (corn is indigenous to Mexico).

    How To Use Black Bean Salsa/Dip

    In addition to a dip for chips, it’s a delicious salsa (the word means sauce) for broiled or grilled fish, burgers, chicken, over rice and in a salad with greens and/or vegetables. (Beans are legumes, not vegetables.)

    For an even better flavor, plan a day ahead and start with dry beans: They need to soak overnight and cook for up to 90 minutes, until soft and ready to purée.

    Want a white bean dip? Try this recipe. This spreadable, puréed dip is delicious on bruschetta and sandwiches as well as for dipping chips.

    Beans are a guilt-free food. Among the most inexpensive and nutritious foods available, beans are a great source of protein that can substitute for meat. They are typically low in [beneficial] fat and are cholesterol free, while delivering folate, iron, magnesium and potassium and fiber.

    • Check out our Bean Glossary for the many different types of beans.
    • All about bean nutrition.
    • Make a vegetarian sandwich with white bean dip, using our recipe for a hummus sandwich.

    *For those who point out that the lime also originated in Southern Asia: OK, but it’s been a flavor in Mexican cooking for hundreds of years.

       

       

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Hot-Hot-Hot Ghost Pepper Salsa

    Here’s a salsa to enjoy while listening to Donna Summer belt “Hot Stuff.”

    It’s the first salsa we’ve tried from an artisan producer that uses the world’s hottest chile pepper—the ghost chile, or bhut jolokia.

    Salsa is a billion dollar industry in America, with consumer preferences trending to hot. Lots of people think that, for food, heat can’t be beat. If you’re one of the many who like it hot-hot-hot, get some of Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa. It recently won at the 2011 Scovie Awards, the world’s leading competition for hot and spicy products.

    Ghost Pepper Salsa is the fastest growing product in the company’s 71-year history. It’s also one of Mrs. Renfro’s three best sellers, along with two other hotties: Habanero and Green (jalapeño) Salsa.

    How hot is ghost pepper?

     

    Hot! Hot! Hot! Hot stuff, baby! Photo by River
    Soma | THE NIBBLE

     

  • The ghost pepper chile, or bhut jolokia, from northeast India, has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s hottest chile.
  • The chile is so hot, it’s used by the Indian military in tear gas—and it’s an ingredient in pepper spray, hand grenades and smoke bombs.
  •  
    The “explosive” Mrs. Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa is available at retailers nationwide, or online at RenfroFoods.com. The cost per 16-ounce jar is $3.25 (prices will vary by market); online sales from Mrs. Renfro’s are in four-packs.

    Try it at your own risk. Says Mrs. Renfro’s: “This Ghost Pepper Salsa is scary hot!”

  • Check out the different types of chiles in our Chile Glossary.
  • How many different types of salsa can you name?
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Fruit Salsa

    Peach salsa is one of the best-selling salsa flavors.

    You can make your own salsa with almost any seasonal fruit, including other stone fruits such as nectarines and plumcots, or your favorite berries. The fruit takes the place of the tomato, although you can also add a tomato in season.

    Enjoy the result with chips or on meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, tofu and all of the “usuals”—even vanilla or fruit ice cream/frozen yogurt and sorbet. Or, make easy cinnamon tortilla chips to go with it.

    FRUIT SALSA RECIPE
    This salsa recipe was shared by Melissas.com, using their now-in-season Flavorosa Plumcots.

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or substitute
  • 1 pound plumcots, diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red jalapeño chile
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  •  

    Make salsa from your favorite fruit.
    Plumcot photo salsa courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    Preparation
    1. In small bowl, combine lime juice and sugar until sugar dissolves, making marinade.
    2. In large bowl, combine all other ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.
    3. Stir marinade into large bowl, blend and chill prior to serving.

    Here’s another fruit salsa recipe: Strawberry Kiwi Cucumber Salsa With Easy Cinnamon Tortilla Chips.

    What’s The Difference Between A Plumcot & A Pluot?
    They’re all hybrids, meant to present the best qualities of both fruits—for the consumer, more sweetness and juiciness; for the seller, easier to grow, harvest, and ship. The names are trademarked by their respective breeders.

  • A plumcot is 50% plum/50% apricot. Developed by Luther Burbank in the 1920s, it is sweeter than either parent.
  • The pluot, also known as a “dinosaur egg” because of its speckled skin, was created by a California fruit breeder who wanted to improve on the plumcot. A pluot, sweeter than a plumcot, is primarily plum, with a range from 60% plum/40% apricot to 75% plum/25% apricot spanning more than 25 varieties. They have a higher sugar content and a more complex flavor profile than either a plum or an apricot. Because of the percentage of genes, it has the flavor of a plum but the mouthfeel of the apricot.
  • An aprium is the reverse of the pluot: a mix of 70% apricot/30% plum, though it can vary, as long as it is 60% apricot or more. It looks like an apricot, but is sweeter than either an apricot or a plum.
  •  
    All three, like their parents, are low in fat and calories, but all that sweetness raises the carb content. The fruits are full of vitamin A and C and high in calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium and potassium.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Meyer Lemons

    Over the last 30 years, the Meyer lemon has evolved from an ornamental garden lemon found in California farmers markets, to a popular commercial lemon.

    The two major lemons in America, Eureka and Lisbon, have a bracing tartness. The Meyer Lemon, which is a hybrid between a lemon and a mandarin or other sweet orange, has a milder, sweeter juice. It became a chef’s favorite for salad dressings, sauces and sorbets and other recipes; which led to consumer demand. It’s in season from November through March.

    The Meyer lemon was brought to the U.S. by Frank N. Meyer, an explorer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who found it growing as an ornamental plant outside of Peking, China in 1908.

    Learn more about the Meyer and all types of lemons in our Lemon Glossary.

     

    Meyer lemons. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     
    Add some to your Super Bowl hummus and see a big jolt of flavor. This recipe, by Tom Fraker, is courtesy of Melissas.com.

    HUMMUS WITH MEYER LEMON

    Ingredients

  • 1 tub (8 ounces) traditional hummus
  • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 package baby carrots
  • 1 package celery cut into sticks
  • 1/4 pound sugar snap peas
  •  
    Preparation
    In a medium size bowl, mix together the first 4 ingredients. Transfer to a serving dish and surround with the vegetables.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Making Spinach Dip

    Are you making your famous spinach dip for the Super Bowl?

    Most recipes call for thawed frozen spinach. The least favorite part of the preparation is squeezing out all the water.

    Most people just take the cold, wet spinach in their hands and squeeze it, bit by bit.

    There’s a neater way: Use your potato ricer.

    To keep the spinach from falling through the perforations in the ricer, line the container with a thin, clean kitchen towel.

  • Looking for a new spinach dip recipe? Try this Kansas City Crab Grass Dip.
  •  

    There’s an easier way to squeeze it
    dry. Photo courtesy Birds-Eye.

     
    Find more tips like this in the handy book, Tips Cooks Love.

    Comments

    RECIPE: Easy Healthy Recipes With Salsa

    Want a home-cooked meal that’s good for you and couldn’t be easier?

    Cook with salsa!

    These two recipes for Chicken Salsa and Fish Salsa show just how easy it is to take the protein, a jar of salsa, and create an easy and delicious dinner. They also work with tofu.

    While the protein is cooking, make a green salad, steam a green vegetable and make some brown rice (microwave precooked frozen or cook it in the pressure cooker for the same 15-20 minutes that the protein takes.)

    To Microwave Brown Rice
     
    1. Add 1 cup brown rice and 3 cups cold water in a 2-1/2 quart microwave-safe dish. (We enjoy our square CorningWare casserole dish, which also looks nice at the table.)

    2. Microwave uncovered for 10 minutes on HIGH.

     

    Salsa Chicken is one of the easiest chicken
    recipes to make. Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

    3. Reduce power to 50%. Microwave uncovered 20 minutes.

    4. Allow to sit for 5 minutes in the microwave (you can remove it if you need the microwave for another task).

    5. Fluff with a fork and add any seasonings. For healthy cooking, don’t add butter, but look to herbs, spices and/or veggies: chives (or green onions), diced bell peppers and/or toasted sesame seeds, for example. A sprinkling of slivered almonds, walnuts or other healthy nuts also pairs well with the nutty flavor and chewy texture of brown rice.

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: How To Make Salsa Verde

     

    Our Top Pick Of The Week, which will be posted tomorrow, features salsa verde.

    Spanish for “green sauce,” salsa verde is made from a base of tomatillos, seasoned with chiles, cilantro and spices. A salsa verde can be fresh or cooked. It is typically much thinner than a tomato-based salsa roja.

    In this video, you’ll see how easy it is to make salsa verde:

       

       

    Tomatillos are not small, green tomatoes. They’re only distantly related to tomatoes.

    Here’s the difference between tomatoes and tomatillos.

    Comments

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