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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

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

    RECIPE: Horseradish Hummus

    A horseradish rush in hummus. Buy it
    or make it. Photo courtesy Tribe Hummus.

     

    Like horseradish? Add it to your hummus.

    Several hummus manufacturers make hummus with horseradish, although it’s not as easy to find as more mainstream flavors like garlic hummus and red pepper hummus.

    Lucky us: One of our local markets had a stack of Tribe Hummus With Freshly Ground Horseradish. (And here’s a $1.00 coupon for any flavor.) It is heady with horseradish, and we love it.

    If you don’t have a favorite hummus recipe, here’s one from Nanoosh Mediterranean Hummus Bars & Counters in New York City. Or, for instant gratification, buy plain hummus and add well-drained prepared horseradish to taste.

    HUMMUS RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound raw chickpeas/garbanzos/ceci (you can use canned, precooked chickpeas but from-scratch tastes better)
  • 1/3 pound tahini paste/tahina
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt
  • Optional: 1/4 cup special flavor, puréed horseradish (ground root or highly-drained prepared horseradish), lightly-cooked red pepper, olives, sundried tomato; or
  • Spice to taste: basil, chipotle, crushed red pepper, garlic, lemon zest or other favorite
  • Preparation
    1. Soak the chickpeas in water a day ahead.
    2. Cook the chickpeas in boiling water for approximately 2 hours. Drain and chill the chickpeas.
    3. Place the chickpeas in a food processor with the other ingredients. Process until smooth.
    4. Taste and adjust to taste by adding lemon juice, water, salt and/or flavoring/spice/herb.

    Since this recipe makes approximately two pounds of hummus, or four of the larger store containers, you can divide the batch and make up to four different flavors.

    More horseradish ideas:

  • Breakfast: Add prepared horseradish to scrambled eggs, omelets and hash brown potatoes before cooking. Add a spoonful to the hollandaise sauce for Eggs Benedict. Or serve as a condiment.
  • Lunch: Add prepared horseradish to mayonnaise for sandwiches or to vinaigrette or other salad dressing. Mix with ketchup for spicy ketchup, and mix with sour cream for your baked potato. Add a heaping spoonful to ready-made deli items such as cole slaw, baked beans and potato salad.
  • Dinner: substitute prepared horseradish for butter and salt as a vegetable topper. Add one (or two) spoonfuls to canned or homemade soups. Mash horseradish with potatoes or mix with low-fat sour cream for a quick baked potato topping.
  • Horseradish is good for you. Its use as a remedy for illness dates to the ancient Egypt—most popularly to clear breathing passages that are congested from colds. Horseradish contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. The spice and heat come from mustard oil (the root is in the same family as mustard), which, as with mustard seed, is released when it is ground.

    And horseradish is high in glucosinolates and phytonutrients, potential cancer-fighting agents that have shown in clinical studies to keep tumor growth under control and reduce the chance of developing new tumors.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Mascarpone Recipes

    A bowl of mascarpone dip. Photo courtesy
    Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    Mascarpone, the thick and delicious “Italian cream cheese,” is the key ingredient in tiramisu and a favorite for topping berries. In fact, it’s thanks to tiramisu, which has become a favorite dessert in the U.S., that most of us know what mascarpone is.

    The fresh cheese is used in savory recipes too, of course. We like it as a quick and easy cocktail spread.

    Blend mascarpone with your favorite flavors—Dijon mustard, mashed anchovies, capers and fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme), curry, salsa—there are vast opportunities. You can even divide the tub of plain mascarpone and make two different flavors.

    Serve the spread in ramekins with fancy crackers or with thin-sliced toasted baguette. Delicioso!

    By the way, a surprising number of people mispronounce and misspell the name of the cheese. It’s MAH-scar-POE-nay, not MAR-scah-POE-nay; mascarpone not marscapone.

  • What exactly is mascarpone?
  • More fabulous fresh cheeses.
  • Comments

    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Tribe Origins Hummus

    All flavors except Original have a zesty
    topping that is attractive as well as flavorful.
    Photo courtesy TribeHummus.com.

     

    Love hummus? Looking for a healthy way to get your family to eat more veggies or healthier snacks? Want something other than chips to serve with wine or beer?

    Serve a variety of crudités (raw vegetables) with new Tribe Origins hummus and tell them to dip away! One winner will get to taste the entire line of Tribe Origins hummus.

    Following extensive consumer taste tests, Tribe created the new Tribe Origins line to be extra-creamy and smooth. The flavors include Classic, Spicy Red Pepper, Tomato & Veggie and Zesty Spice & Garlic Hummus. We loved them all.

    Three of the four flavors feature a generous serving of toppings, making Tribe Origins attractive for entertaining. This vegan food is also a great source of fiber, protein and iron.

    The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Retail value: Approximately $20.00

  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gourmet Salsas, Dips & Spreads Section and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing.
  • You’re Automatically A Winner: Visit TribeHummus.com to print a $1.00 coupon.

  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Sonoma Farm Asiago & Parmesan Dip

    With this versatile spread, you can
    transform an otherwise bland food. Photo
    by Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Sonoma Farm makes Mediterranean-influenced artisan products in small batches. Their olive oils and vinegars were a Top Pick Of The Week. Recently, we tried other products and found the Asiago & Parmesan Dip to be another winner.

    A bit too thin to be viewed as a traditional dip, Sonoma Farm California Asiago & Parmesan Dip is really a sauce. Name aside, we can’t nitpick about the flavor, which is pleasantly pungent with herbs in the finish.

    Made from only Parmesan and Asiago cheeses, extra virgin olive oil and spices, it has the consistency of a pesto. You can use it like a pesto too: Top a dish of pasta with a couple of spoonfuls (like pesto, a little goes a long way!) and enjoy.

    The label suggests dipping crackers and raw veggies, but we spread it on some thick, crusty bread as well as atop grilled chicken breasts. Then:

  • Dress a sandwich by adding some of the dip into a dollop of mayo.
  • Baste fish or shrimp.
  • Spread atop a steak.
  • Spoon some into scrambled eggs.
  • Make a white pizza: Substitute the dip for the sauce on pizza and top with veggies such as zucchini, artichoke and eggplant and top with shredded mozzarella.
  • Here’s a spin on a Caprese sandwich that’s perfect for a summer picnic: Slice a ciabatta roll (or other Italian bread) and spread a tablespoon of Sonoma Farms Asiago & Parmesan Dip onto the top half. Add slices of mozzarella, a few sliced tomatoes and some basil leaves before taking your first delicious bite.

    Purchase the dip at SonomaFarm.com. You’ll want to buy extra for gifts and stocking stuffers. At $7.99 per 8-ounce jar, it may seem pricey. But there’s a lot of expensive cheese in each jar, and a little goes a long way.

    Check out more great spreads in our Salsa, Dips & Spreads Section.

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Your Own Salsa

    With the many millions of dollars spent each year on bottled salsa, few people realize how easy it is to make homemade salsa.

    All you need is a sharp knife, fresh vegetables (tomatoes, bell peppers, onion), some chiles, seasonings (garlic, cilantro, salt) and lime juice. You can toss in corn, black beans or anything in your pantry, from canned pineapple to water chestnuts.

    And you don’t even need tomatoes: Here’s a recipe for a summer salsa made with watermelon. It can be used with chips, as a side dish or as a salad on top of shredded lettuce.

    Fresh salsa is crunchy and more refreshing than the jarred varieties, where the pasteurization process cooks the vegetables.

  • Try making strawberry salsa, too.
  • This sweet cherry and mango salsa goes great with grilled salmon.
  • Go global with these ideas for salsa recipes with international flair—from Caribbean to Indian to Southeast Asian flavors.
  • Check out the different types of salsa.
  •  

    Make a fresh summer salsa. Photo courtesy
    Watermelon.org.

  • Learn the differences between chiles, and why they’re inaccurately called “peppers.”
  • Comments

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