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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Raw Brussels Sprouts

At this time of year, Brussels sprouts are in season and many people are debating how to prepare them for Thanksgiving. Our nana and aunt disagreed to the extent that each brought her preferred preparation (one a gratin laden with Gruyère and pancetta, one with a honey balsamic sauce).

But you don’t have to cook Brussels sprouts. You can slice them or remove the leaves (as with cabbage, remove the bottom core first). Then, make:

  • Brussels sprouts slaw with mustard vinaigrette and optional crumbled cheese, or with apple matchsticks, or simply dressed with lemon and olive oil.
  • “Christmas” slaw: Mixed red cabbage and green Brussels sprouts.
  • Pickled, as a condiment for meats or a sandwich topping (how to pickle vegetables).
  • Sandwiches, using Brussels sprouts leaves instead of lettuce.
    Be sure you buy freshly harvested sprouts. As they age, they develop stronger and more bitter flavors. This applies equally to the sprouts used in cooked recipes.

    To start you off with raw Brussels sprouts, here’s a tasty salad with holiday accents. There’s another recipe below that combines raw Brussels sprouts with raw shaved root vegetables.

    Prep time is 15 minutes.


    Raw Brussels Sprouts

    Raw Brussels sprouts salad with holiday accents. Photo courtesy McCormick.


    Raw Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and toss in a light vanilla-sage vinaigrette for a salad that’s sure to please during holiday gatherings.

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (substitute white wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 container (12 ounces) Brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (substitute pecans)

    1. WASH, trim and thinly shave the Brussels sprouts.

    2. MIX the oil, vinegar, vanilla and seasonings in small bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Add the cranberries; let stand 30 minutes to allow cranberries to soften.

    3. TOSS the Brussels sprouts and walnuts in a large bowl until well blended. Drizzle with the dressing; toss to coat well. Serve immediately.


    Brussels Sprouts Salad

    Shaved Fall Salad

    TOP PHOTO: Brussels sprouts salad with a
    holiday touch. Photo courtesy Julie Gransee |
    Lovely Little Kitchen | McCormick. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Shaved fall vegetable salad. Photo


    This recipe combines raw Brussels sprouts with raw fall root vegetables and some arugula for greenery. It was adapted from a recipe on A bonus: You get to practice your shaving skills on a mandoline.

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 1 bunch arugula (substitute baby spinach)
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and trimmed (substitute other
  • 1 bulb celery root (celeriac), outer skin removed
  • 1 bulb of fennel, trimmed, fronds reserved†
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, leaves separated
  • 1 slow-browning apple*
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) apple cider vinegar (substitute red
    wine vinegar)‡
  • Drizzle of honey
    *Some varieties of apple brown more slowly when their flesh is cut and exposed to air. Look for Ambrosia, Cameo, Cortland, Empire, Gala, Ginger Gold, Goldrush, Masonova, Shizuka or SnowSweet varieties. Browning is caused by an enzyme called phenolase, that reacts with oxygen. These apple varieties have much less of the enzyme (or a weaker form of it), so they turn brown very slowly, without having to be dipped in acidified water or other slowing technique. They are natural varieties, not genetically modified like the Arctic Apple, a GMO that was bred not to brown for a very long time.

    †While the fronds come free with the fennel, we had fresh dill on hand and used those fronts instead (see Step 3 below).

    ‡Check out the different types of vinegar.


    1. CAREFULLY SHAVE the radish, fennel, apple and celery root on a mandoline. (Depending on the size of the celery root, you may need to cut it in half before shaving.)

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP a small handful of the fennel fronds.

    3. COMBINE the arugula, apple, Brussels leaves, celery root, fennel, fennel fronds and radish and in a big bowl. Dress with the olive oil and vinegar, a drizzle of honey, salt and pepper.

    4. ADJUST seasonings to taste and finish with blue cheese crumbles.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cinnamon Pecan Topping

    For holiday season, it’s good to have a trick up your sleeve that quickly turns everyday food into festive food.

    We nominate homemade cinnamon pecan topping, which can be used to garnish both sweet and savory foods. See our list of uses below.

    You can use any nut, but pecan goes particularly well in this type of topping.

    We adapted this recipe from McCormick. It makes 12 servings, 2 tablespoons each. You can make a double batch and keep it in the fridge.

    Although the McCormick version uses rum flavor, feel free to substitute real rum or whiskey.

    Plan ahead: You can bring a jar of topping as a house gift, or give it as holiday gifts.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 12 minutes.


    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon rum flavor

    Pecan Topping


    TOP PHOTO: Top a Brie with homemade cinnamon pecan topping Photo by Caroline Edwards from Chocolate and Carrots | BOTTOM PHOTO: Turn a plain scoop of ice cream into a sundae. Photo courtesy


    Pecan Topping

    Keep it in the fridge to pull out whenever you need it. Photo courtesy McCormick.



    1. MIX the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in small bowl until blended. Set aside.

    2. MELT 2 tablespoons of the butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and toast for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low.

    3. STIR the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, corn syrup, water, vanilla extract, rum flavor and the brown sugar mixture into the skillet. Cook, stirring until the butter is melted and the mixture is heated through.

    4. REMOVE from the heat. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature.



  • Breakfast: Top French toast, pancakes, waffles.
  • Desserts: Use as a cake topping or filling; fill crêpes and tartlets; top ice cream, ice cream cake or ice cream pie; garnish blondies/brownies or pie; mix with mascarpone or ricotta to spread on biscotti or shortbread.
  • Hors d’oeuvre: Top regular or baked Brie.
  • Sides: Top a baked sweet potato with pecan topping and Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Snack: Mix into yogurt, stir into coffee or tea.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Bark From Leftover Halloween Candy


    Chop up those miniatures, add whatever else
    you have and make bark. See the recipe
    above at


    Many American households woke up today to lots of Halloween candy. You can eat some of it as is, but we especially like this solution from, who adapted it from this Bon Appetit recipe:

    Turn it into chocolate bark studded with pieces of Halloween candy.

    And on top of that, make it an annual tradition. We hereby proclaim that the day after Halloween is Leftover Candy Bark Day.

    Use whatever candy appeals to you. If you’re not sure if certain combinations work (Junior Mints and Peanut Butter Cups, for example), pop them into your mouth and see how they blend.

    If you need to round out the ingredients, add whatever you have at home: baking chips, cookie pieces, nuts, potato chips, pretzels, shredded coconut, and so on.

    You’ll also need a base chocolate to hold all the pieces. You can use milk, semisweet or white chocolate. We bought two bags of Guittard semisweet chips and one bag of white chocolate chips at our supermarket.

    What should you do with the finished bark?

  • Bring it into work or school.
  • Give some to anyone who didn’t participate in trick-or-treating.
  • Serve it on game day.
  • Keep it as your own stash, enjoying a piece per day.

    Ingredients For About 2 Pounds/30 Servings

    This is just a guideline; use whatever you have. The ingredients below focus on peanut butter-flavored candies. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 1 hour.


  • 1 pound chocolate, chopped
  • 3 Butterfinger candy bars (or 8 fun-size bars), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Heath candy bars (or 6 fun-size bars), cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, each cut into 8 wedges
  • ¼ cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup M&Ms, Peanut M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces or a mix

    1. LINE a 12 x 12-inch* baking pan or a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. PLACE the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave at 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until it is completely melted and smooth.

    3. POUR the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet and, using an offset spatula, spread it into a thin layer (¼-inch thick yields about a 12×10-inch rectangle*).

    4. SPRINKLE the melted chocolate with the chopped Butterfingers, Heath bars, peanut butter cups and honey roasted peanuts, making sure all pieces touch the melted chocolate so they adhere. Lightly press down on them as an extra effort to make sure the candy adheres to the chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    5. MELT the white chocolate using the same method as the bittersweet chocolate in Step 2, until completely smooth. Using a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the chilled bark in a zigzag pattern.

    6. SCATTER the M&Ms and/or Reese’s Pieces over the white chocolate drizzle, and again press to make sure the candy adheres to the melted white chocolate. Chill again until the white chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.



    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/halloween candy bark browneyedbaker 230

    TOP PHOTO: Add cookies to your Halloween Bark. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: Peanut-oriented bark (recipe above). Photo courtesy BrownEyed Baker via Bon Appetit.

    7. CUT or break the bark into irregular pieces and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place or in the fridge.

    *You can use whatever size pan or sheet you have. You don’t have to spread the chocolate to cover the entire area. Just keep it 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick and the candies pressed into it will add the heft.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Pudding Parfaits

    Pudding Parfaits

    If your crowd is elegant, use finer ingredients
    than crushed Oreos and M&Ms. Photo
    courtesy Gather By Damico | Minneapolis.


    Add a special element to any small party, or even a quiet evening with the family, by putting together a mix and match pudding parfait bar. It’s a popular annual event at our place; and unlike ice cream parfaits, pudding doesn’t melt.

    If you don’t have glass dessert dishes, use juice glasses or wine glasses so people can enjoy their layering talents.

    You can make the pudding or buy it. At different times. we’ve made instant pudding or cooked pudding, even cooked from scratch (mixing and measuring all the ingredients). Sophisticated palates will prefer the cooked variations.

    Here’s what else you need:


    Basic Ingredients

  • Pudding (offer several flavors, e.g. banana, butterscotch, chocolate, vanilla, lemon)
  • Crushed cookies (chocolate chip, chocolate wafers, gingersnaps, grahams, vanilla wafers)

  • Cake and brownie cubes
    Crunchy Or Chewy Layers

  • Granola
  • Nuts (our favorites are pistachios, candied peanuts and spiced pecans)
  • Small candies (candy corn, chocolate chips/flavored chips, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, toffee chips, shredded coconut)
  • Berries or diced fruit
    Creamy Layers

  • Cherry pie filling, fruit purée, fruit curd or preserves
  • Caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, dulce de leche, marshmallow cream
  • Whipped peanut butter (use Jif Peanut Butter Whips or make your own)
  • Whipped cream or other topping

    Customize the ingredients to your crowd and the occasion. If you’d rather have pistachio or maple pudding, team colors, a layer of crushed peanut butter cups or Corn Flakes, and so forth, by all means set them out!



    If you like frozen whipped topping but not all the chemical additives, now there’s an all-natural alternative.

    Truwhip is the first frozen whipped topping that is 100% natural and gluten-free. Made from plant-based ingredients, it contains no high fructose corn syrup, no hydrogenated oils, no polysorbate 60, no trans fats and no GMOs.

    It’s also gluten-free and certified kosher (dairy) by OU.

    Truwhip Natural and Truwhip Skinny look just like the other stuff and can be used in the same way:

  • In coffee and hot chocolate
  • As a dessert topping
  • In parfaits sundaes
  • For snacking (cookie sandwiches, anyone?)
    Truwhip Natural has 30 calories, 20 from fat, per two-tablespoon serving. Truwhip Skinny has 25 calories, 15 from fat.

    Discover more at

    In terms of the flavor, to quote one of our tasters:

    “It tastes different from Cool Whip. You kind of get used to all those chemicals.”

    It tastes like what it is: cool, creamy and natural.



    Truwhip Cartons

    Truwip, in Natural (regular) and Skinny (reduced fat). Photos courtesy Peak Foods.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Breadcrumb Topping On Pasta

    Macaroni & Cheese With Breadcrumbs


    TOP PHOTO: Mac & cheese, crumbed for
    crunch and glamour. Photo courtesy Morgans
    Hotel | NYC. BOTTOM PHOTO: Linguine
    tossed in olive oil, Parmesan and herbs,
    topped with bread crumbs. Photo courtesy
    All’onda | NYC.


    If you peruse recipes for mac and cheese, you’ve likely noticed that the better recipes—certainly those by name chefs—regularly add a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs on top of the dish. Chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and Michael Symon have contributed crumbed mac recipes to this website.

    While mac and cheese may not be a southern Italian tradition, toasted breadcrumbs are, often replacing grated cheese as a garnish for the pasta.

    As we close out National Pasta Month, our tip is: Go southern and garnish some of your pasta dishes with breadcrumbs instead of cheese. If you can’t live without grated Parmesan, toss the pasta with it before topping with breadcrumbs.

    In its simplest form, just toss cooked pasta in olive oil, plate it and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. If you like anchovies, try the classic recipe with anchovies and chile flakes below.


    According to Academia Barilla, the tradition of pasta with breadcrumbs in Southern Italy was created by poorer people who could not afford pricier ingredients like cheese.

    They would prepare the breadcrumbs using stale bread leftovers. Those who had them also added kitchen staples, salted anchovies and dried chili peppers.

    Over time in the region of Calabria, people began to prepare this dish on Christmas Eve, which was traditionally fish or seafood (or, in the Feast Of Seven Fishes, both).

    When we have enough bread ends left over, we make pangrattatto (“grated bread”) instead of buying gourmet seasoned breadcrumbs. This classic Italian garnish consists of breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil and seasoned.

    Feel free to use your favorite seasonings. Anchovy paste, cayenne, chili flakes, garlic, herbs, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese and parsley are traditional; but you can try curry, nutmeg or whatever you think adds pizzazz to your pasta recipe.


    The type of bread doesn’t matter; a combination of different loaves only adds to the flavor. If you don’t have enough bread ends saved up, you can dry out fresh bread (details follow) or default to panko, Japanese breadcrumbs.

    In addition to pasta topping, use the crumbs on casseroles and gratins, in meatballs and meatloaf.



    1. PLAN ahead. Store all the ends and leftover slices from loaves of bread in a heavy-duty freezer bag. You can keep it in the freezer or not. When you’re ready to make breadcrumbs…

    2. LET the bread sit at room temperature overnight or until it gets hard enough to grate into breadcrumbs. (Our Nana kept the ends in a breadbox for weeks until she had enough to make crumbs.) If your bread isn’t hard enough, you can dry it in a 250°F oven.

    3. GRATE the bread on the grating disk of a food processor to the desired texture, or with a hand grater. We prefer a coarser crumb that provides crunch, rather than the fineness of commercial breadcrumbs.

    4. STORE the crumbs in an airtight jar. When ready to use, measure out what you need for the recipe.

    5. HEAT a bit of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat (1/4 cup olive oil for 4 tablespoons crumbs). Add the breadcrumbs and seasonings. Toast the breadcrumbs for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are golden.



    This version of Bucatini With Anchovies & Chilies uses anchovy paste and adds kale, with a light dusting of crumbs. Here’s the recipe from The Culinary Chronicles.


    This Calabrian dish, courtesy of Acadamia Barilla is made with bucatini, a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center. The name comes from the Italian buco, “hole” and bucato, “pierced.” You can substitute any ribbon pasta.

    This dish is traditionally served on—but not confined to—Christmas Eve. You can make it in just 25 minutes, anytime you have a hankering for anchovies.

    If you don’t want the brininess of anchovies but want a depth of piquant umami flavor, substitute anchovy paste.

    Serve the dish with a full-bodied red wine.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound bucatini
  • 4 salted anchovies (substitute 1 heaping tablespoon anchovy paste)
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch red chili flakes (more to taste)

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil. While it heats…

    2. RINSE the anchovies well under running water and debone them. Place a pan over low heat and add half the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the anchovies and cook for a couple of minutes, until the anchovies break down. While the anchovies are cooking…

    3. PLACE another pan with the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and chili flakes. Toast the breadcrumbs for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are golden.
    Once the water is boiling…

    4. ADD the salt and cook the bucatini following the package instructions. Drain the pasta when done and toss with the anchovies and toasted breadcrumbs.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Slab Pie

    Apple Cranberry Slab Pie

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rasperry pecan crumble slab pie driscolls 230r

    You can use a standard top crust or exercise your creativity. TOP PHOTO: Apple Cherry Slab Pie with a lattice top. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: Raspberry Pecan Crumble Slab Pie (here’s the recipe). Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.


    In the 15 years that we’ve been publishing THE NIBBLE, slab pies have been under the radar. They didn’t even make it into the different types of pies collection in the early editions of our Pie Glossary.

    Slab pies have been getting a bit of play lately, but when did they originate? We found a recipe in our Mom’s recipe box that dated back to the 1950s. Surely, they’re older than that. But try as we might, we could find no history of slab pie online. If you have a reference, please let us know.


    A slab pie is a shallow pie that’s baked in a jelly roll pan or a rimmed baking sheet. It has a much higher crust-to-filling ratio than a standard pie, so it’s definitely for the crust-loving crowd (or the hand pie-loving crowd).

    But there’s another reason to make a slab pie: It stretches pricey ingredients like fresh fruit and feeds quite a few more people than a standard 9-inch pie: almost as much as two pies.

    Nor do you need to roll out two set of crusts for two pies. Just roll out one crust and make a streusel top if you don’t want to roll out a top crust—although two crusts enable people to eat their slices like a hand pie. Of course, you can plate it like a conventional slice of pie and top it with ice cream or whipped cream.

    You can use any filling in a slab pie; but anticipating the holidays, we have two cranberry recipes below (plus links to other recipes).


    In this recipe from McCormick, prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 40 minutes. The recipe is faster to make using purchased crusts. To make crusts from scratch, see the recipes below.

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 2 packages (14.1 ounces each) refrigerated pie crusts
    (4 crusts), divided
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 peeled, thinly sliced Fuji apples (subtitute McIntosh or any sweet red apple with a bit of acidity)
  • 50 drops red food color
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Bring the crusts to room temperature according to package directions. Unroll pie crusts and press two of them onto the bottom and sides of a 13×9-inch glass baking dish. Press together the seams of the overlapping crusts in middle of baking dish to seal.

    2. MIX the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon in large bowl. Add the apples; toss to coat well. Add the food color; toss to coat well. Spoon into the pie crust and top with the remaining 2 crusts. Pinch the edges of the top and bottom crusts together to seal. Cut small slits in top crust (you can make them artistic; see this photo and this one).

    3. BAKE for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.

    Another easy McCormick recipe, this pie uses cranberry sauce in the filling instead of having to prepare whole cranberries. A meringue top replaces the top crust. Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 40 minutes.


    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 1 package (14.1 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup 100% cranberry juice
  • 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Bring the crusts to room temperature according to package directions. Unroll the pie crusts and press onto the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ glass baking dish. Fold the edges of the crusts under and press together to form a thick crust edge. Press the seams of the overlapping crusts in the middle of the baking dish together to seal. Pierce the crusts with a fork. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.


    2. MIX 1 cup of sugar and the cornstarch in large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the cranberry juice until well blended. Whisk in the egg yolks and the cranberry sauce until well blended (some lumps may remain). Whisking occasionally, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the orange extract. Pour the hot filling into the baked pie crust. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight until chilled and set. Then…

    4. MAKE the meringue. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Mix the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cream of tartar in a small bowl. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the egg whites, beating until stiff peaks form.

    5. SPREAD the meringue evenly over the cranberry-topped pie, sealing the edges of the crust. Bake 4 to 6 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. For the best results, top and bake with the meringue just before serving.


    Candy Apple Slab Pie

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Cranberry Meringue Slab Pie mccormick 230

    TOP PHOTO: Candy Apple Slab Pie. Photo courtesy McCormick. BOTTOM PHOTO: Cranberry Meringue Slab Pie (recipe below). Photos courtesy Julie Gransee | Lovely Little Kitchen.



    It turns out that Martha Stewart has been publishing slab pie recipes since 2006. Here are some of them, each with a different crust treatment:

  • Blueberry Slab Pie Recipe
  • Berry Or Stone Fruit Slab Pie Recipe & Video
  • Peach Raspberry Slab Pie Recipe (with a polka dot top crust)
  • Quince & Sauternes Slab Pie Recipe
  • Sour Cherry Slab Pie Recipe
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Slab Pie Recipe
  • Slab Pie Recipes From Buzzfeed
  • Slab Pie Recipes From Huffington Post


    TIP OF THE DAY: Rethink Jell-O As Elegant Gélee

    Jello Mold

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rainbow jello jellomoldmistress 230

    How can you dis them? Retro-style Jell-O
    molds from See the
    photos below for shaping without molds.


    Check online and you’ll find that more people are horrified by retro Jell-o molds than embrace them.

    Yet, these gelatin works of art, that became de rigeur party fare in the 1950s, get a bad rap. Seriously, what’s wrong with different flavors of Jell-O and fruit layered in an attractive mold?

    They are very tasty, thank you, and enable the cook to exercise creativity. If the media mentioned, say, that they were a favorite at the Kardashian or Brangelina household, molds and Jell-O would be flying off the shelves.

    Sugar-free Diet Jell-O provides a low-calorie dessert option. And a holiday offers the opportunity to use theme colors.

    Maybe ditch the brand name, Jell-O, and the generic term, gelatin, when presenting the dish. Call it something that sounds like a sophisticated dessert. We prefer the French name for a gelatin dish, gelée (zhel-LAY) or gélatine (zhay-la-TEEN), which identifies the product, gelatin.

    Trivia: The name comes from the Latin gelare, to freeze.

    Make this harvest-colored Ginger Gelée with the taste of fall. The recipe was adapted from


    As you can see in the photo below, you don’t need to make the dish in a mold. Make the gelée in a baking pan and cut it into elegant rectangles. Or make a layered gelée in glasses, as Martha Stewart did in the second photo below.


  • 1/4 cup peeled, fresh ginger, cut in 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 6 two-gram gelatin sheets, softened in cold water-or-apricot or mango Jell-O
  • 1 quart bottled or filtered water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped-or-a few dashes of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes, strained
  • Optional: food color
  • Garnish: raspberry, pineapple dice, candied orange peel, mint or tarragon leaf or other contrasting garnish (for kids, try candy corn)


    1. FILL a small bowl halfway with ice cubes and water. Put the ginger in a small pot of water and bring to a boil. Drain and transfer the ginger to the ice-water bath; let cool. Repeat this process two more times, starting with cold water in the pot each time.

    2. SOFTEN the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of cold water. Lift the gelatin out of the water and squeeze it gently to remove the excess moisture.

    3. BRING the blanched ginger, water, sugar and vanilla bean pod and seeds to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, add the softened gelatin and stir until the gelatin has melted. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve in a large bowl; discard the ginger and vanilla bean pod.

    4. COOL the liquid to room temperature, then whisk in the lime juice. Adjust the color as you like with food color (1 drop red + 2 drops yellow = orange, or see this chart). Pour the liquid into a 1-quart mold or an 8- by 8-inch baking pan and refrigerate until set.

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory*, gelatin-like dish made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the invention of commercial gelatin. It was very difficult to prepare and thus a dish for the wealthy, requiring days to boil down and clarify natural gelatin to make the aspic set. The aspic was shaped in an elaborate mold, to be admired by the guests.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/ginger gelee elegant affairs 230


    TOP PHOTO: Gelée cut into elegant rectangles. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs. BOTTOM PHOTO: Gelée in glasses. Photo courtesy


    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (in Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    He tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience. In 1899 he sold his formula to a fellow townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. The Jell-O was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York. Alas, sales were slow and one day, Woodward sold Sam Nico the business for $35.
    Finally, Success

    In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising campaign, and by 1902 sales were $250,000—more than $6 billion in today’s dollars. In 1923 management created the Jell-O Company, Inc., replacing the Genesee Pure Foods Company, the purpose of which was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. The next flavor, Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930. Recipes printed on the boxes—including molds—brought more users into the fold.

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which also acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. Today there are 21 flavors of regular Jell-O and eight sugar-free flavors, plus puddings and snacks in both categories.

    There is a Jell-O Museum in Le Roy, New York.

    *Molded sweet gelatin mixes were called gelatin salads.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Celeriac, Celery Root, A Root By Any Name

    Celeriac, Celery Root

    Celery Root

    TOP PHOTO: It’s not a beauty, but you’ll be hooked by its delicious, distinctive flavor. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden. BOTTOM PHOTO: Use the tops as garnish and in salads, soup stocks and stir frys. Courtesy Good Eggs |San Francisco.


    If you were asked to name root vegetables, you probably would overlook celery root, even though it has “root” in its name.

    Celery root is a large, gnarled globe—perhaps the least attractive item in the produce section.

    But peel away the skin and you’ll discover creamy flesh like a parsnip’s, to which it is related. Its botanical family, Apiaceae—commonly known as the carrot or parsley family—includes numerous* well-known vegetables. While not a relative, it can be cooked in the same way as potatoes.

    We grew up in an era and in a town with a wealth of old school French restaurants, presenting the cuisine of Escoffier and other seminal French chefs. Our favorite appetizer was céleri remoulade, a classic French first course.

    To make it, the raw celery root knob is peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks). It is then dressed with rémoulade sauce, a homemade mayonnaise flavored with Dijon mustard. It was served to us in a lettuce cup, sometimes atop greens. Think of a gourmet cousin of cole slaw. We couldn’t get enough of it.

    Here’s a video recipe for céleri remoulade.

    Called céleri in French and celeriac in English, the vegetable is also called celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

    Apium graveolens var. Rapaceum has a crisp, apple-like texture with bright white flesh. The firm, juicy flesh has a mild herbaceous quality with celery-like undertones. Celery root can be a non-starch substitute for potatoes: mashed, French-fried and almost any other way.

    Celery root is available year-round, with a peak season in late fall and winter. Nutritionally, it is an excellent source of dietary fiber and potassium, with significant amounts of vitamins B6 and C. It has just 66 calories per cup.

    One of the oldest root vegetables in recorded history, it grew wild in the Mediterranean Basin and in Northern Europe, but was considered difficult to grow. Farmers worked to master it, and it became culinarily important during the Middle Ages.


    Celeriac developed from the same wild plant as the familiar long-stalk green celery, but you’d never know from looking at them that they are kin. Over the millennia, different strains of the plants were developed for different reasons, some focusing on the root, others on the stems or leaves.

    *Some other cousins include angelica, anise, caraway, celery, chervil, coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage and sea holly.


    Thanks to Good Eggs, the finest grocery purveyor in San Francisco, for this recipe.


    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 large chicken thighs (more for bigger appetites or leftovers)
  • 1 pound celery root
  • 1 bunch of Lacinato kale† ‡, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
  • Handful** of chives, dill or tarragon, chopped
  • Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • Spoonful of salted butter
  • Squeeze of lemon or a splash of red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
    †Tired of kale? Substitute broccoli rabe (rapini), collard greens, kohlrabi leaves, mustard greens, red cabbage or Swiss chard.

    ‡There are more than 50 varieties of kale, of which four are most often found in the U.S. Curly kale is the variety typically found in grocery stores. You may have to hit farmers markets or specialty produce stores for the others: lacinato kale (also called black kale, dinosaur kale, and Tuscan kale, among other names), redbor kale (ornamental kale, which is equally edible) and red Russian kale.


    Mashed Celery Root

    Crispy chicken thighs, creamy mashed celery root and good-for-you greens. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

    **We don’t love vague measurements like a bit, a handful, a spoonful, a smidge. They’re imprecise and subjective. The best explanation is that the exact quantity isn’t important: Use more or less as you like. Write down how much you use when you add the ingredient, and then note afterward how much you’d use the next time you make the recipe.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F with an oven-safe pan inside (cast iron, french oven or deep fry pan). Fill a large pot about half way full with water for the stove top, add a handful of salt and turn the heat to high. Salt and pepper the chicken thighs liberally.

    2. PREP the celery root by slicing off the top and bottom and peeling off the fibrous outer skin. Cut into 1 inch chunks and add to the pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. When the oven is hot…

    3. REMOVE the pan and add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Place the pan back in the oven for 25-30 minutes, then gently test for doneness by pricking with a small, sharp knife. They’re done when the chicken juices run clear. TIP: For extra crispy skin, preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven instead of a baking pan—and be prepared to remove it with silicon oven mitts or pot holders.

    4. CHECK the celery root for doneness; it’s finished when the cubes are tender. Drain and place the cubes in a mixing bowl along with the butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Using a fork or the back of a spoon, mash all of the ingredients together until you have your preferred consistency of mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    5. REMOVE the finished chicken from the pan. Pour off about half the pan drippings, add the kale and toss with tongs, making sure the greens are coated in the drippings. Return the pan with the kale to the oven for about 5-7 minutes to cook the kale quickly. Once the kale is done, dress it with a squeeze of lemon and serve alongside the chicken and celery root.

    NOTE: Like an apple, celery root will discover with prolonged exposure to air. To serve it raw, blanched briefly in acidic water (with lemon juice).



    TIP OF THE DAY: Skillet Fondue

    Skillet Fondue

    Skillet fondue is easy and fun. Photo
    courtesy La Brea Bakery.


    Skillet fondue enables you to serve a warm, gooey cheese treat very easily, for brunch, lunch, a dinner first course or snacking. It’s also a good way to use up smaller pieces of cheese leftover from a cheese tray. We cribbed the idea from La Brea Bakery; this photo appeared in an ad celebrating the bakery’s 25th anniversary.

    Skillet fondue requires no fondue pot, although if you have a hot plate or warming tray, or the base of a fondue set with a heat source, you can use it to both raise the hot skillet from the table and keep the cheese warm.

    This isn’t a fondue in the classic sense, where melted cheese is blended with white wine, lemon juice and garlic. It’s mostly cheese melted in a skillet, although you add seasonings of choice, and can top the melted cheese with all sorts of goodies instead of using the goodies as dippers.

    We made this recipe in a broiler, although you can as easily use the oven. We used a cast iron skillet for “atmosphere”; you can use anything heatproof with a handle.

    We happened to have Cheddar and Gruyère on hand. You can use whatever melting cheeses you have, including any of the Swiss cheeses, the Hispanic melting cheeses, Fontina, Gouda, Havarti and others. Don’t hesitate to blend multiple cheeses.

    While regular fondue uses cubes of day-old bread speared with fondue forks, skillet fondue uses crostini, toasted baguette slices, which we sliced and toasted in the oven (or you can grill them). Instead of dipping and swirling cubes with a fondue fork, you scoop up the cheese with crostini. If you’re short on bread, you can use crackers.



  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds cheese
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped (substitute dried oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (substitute dried sage or savory)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (flavored oil is O.K.)
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste (or substitute red chili flakes for the pepper)
  • Toppings: apple or fig slices, dates, grapes, cornichons, piquillo chiles, cubed ham, sliced sausage, raw or cooked veggies (bell pepper strips, broccoli and cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, sliced boiled or roasted potatoes, zucchini or whatever you have
  • Crostini


    1. TOAST the baguette slices. To toast in the oven, preheat it to 400°F. Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/4-inch slices and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crostini are crisp and browned. Let cool.

    2. REMOVE any rind and dice the cheese. Prepare the toppings and place them on the table in individual ramekins or bowls. (Instead, you can place some of each on individual dinner plates for each diner.) Preheat the broiler.

    3. PLACE the cheese in an even layer in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Scatter with the herbs plus salt and pepper to taste; drizzle with olive oil.

    4. PLACE under the broiler, ideally five inches from the heating element, for 5-6 minutes. The cheese should be melted, bubbling and starting to brown. Remove with silicone pot holders or oven mitts, onto a brazier on the table (or other heat-resistant base).


    La Brea Loaves

    Three of the loaves you may find at your supermarket. Photo courtesy La Brea Bakery.

    5. SERVE immediately, passing the toppings (an old-fashioned lazy susan or any type of kitchen turntable is great here).
    The History Of Cheese Fondue

    The history of fondue and a classic cheese fondue recipe

    28 Fondue Recipes


    Twenty-five years ago, Los Angeles was a bread wasteland. When Nancy Silverton and her then-husband Mark Peel were preparing to open their restaurant, Campanile, they found a location with room to open a bakery next door, to make their own sourdough bread.

    The bread became a sensation, and retail loaves sold out early each day.

    In 2001 the bakery was acquired by an investment group, enabling expansion throughout Southern California; and now, to quality food stores nationwide.

    Is there La Brea sourdough near you? Check out the store locator on the company’s website.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Marshmallow Fluff

    Marshmallow Cream Garnish

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Chocolate Marshmallow Fluff cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice 230

    TOP PHOTO: Elegant drops of homemade
    marshmallow cream at Guard and Grace
    | Denver. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    Chocolate “Fluff” from Sugar and Spice and
    Everything Nice


    For the upcoming holiday season, something special is the name of the game. Today’s tip was inspired by Guard and Grace in Denver, where dessert plates are garnished with their own version of Marshmallow Fluff, instead of whipped cream.

    Homemade Marshmallow Fluff, it seems, is a popular undertaking. This first recipe is from Kimberly Reiner of Momma Reiner’s Fudge.

    You’ll need a candy thermometer, ideally a clip-on thermometer or an all-purpose thermometer with a good range; as well as a stand mixer. A simple hand mixer and a bowl won’t do because you’re working with boiling syrup, and need guaranteed stability. We also recommend thick clothing and a vinyl (waterproof) apron to guard against spatters.

    You can vary the flavors of the marshmallow creme beyond vanilla; for example, with lemon extract or maple extract, or a tablespoon of instant coffee or cocoa powder. A recipe for gingerbread marshmallow creme is below.



  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1. BEAT the egg whites with an electric beater or an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachments, until light and frothy. With the mixer running, slowly incorporate 2 tablespoons of sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.

    2. COMBINE 1/3 cup water, the corn syrup and 2/3 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, watching constantly and stirring occasionally. Raise the heat to medium high and cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage, 240°F on a candy thermometer (10-15 minutes). If the hot syrup bubbles up the sides, briefly lower the heat or remove the pan from the heat. When the syrup goes back down to level, raise the heat and continue cooking.

    The next step requires care, since the hot mixture can spatter and burn you. In addition to long sleeves and an apron, drape a kitchen towel over the front and side of the mixing bowl, leaving an open side to pour in the syrup.

    3. WITH the mixer on low, slowly add the hot syrup to the beaten egg whites. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue beating for 6-8 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until mixture looks like marshmallow creme, 2-4 minutes more.

    4. COOL and store in an airtight jar. It will keep in the fridge for up to a month. We particularly like it atop a cup of hot chocolate.




    Here’s a holiday-flavored version of marshmallow creme, from Reeni of Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. She has also created a strawberry marshmallow cream.

    Renni advises: “Please keep children and pets clear of the kitchen while making this. The sugar syrup reaches temperatures that can burn should an accident occur.”

    Ingredients For 2-1/2 Cups

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


    Photo © Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.Who has also created strawberry marshmallow cream


    1. STIR together the sugar, corn syrup, molasses, water and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, with a clip candy thermometer attached to the side. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240°F. Meanwhile…

    2. ADD the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed.

    3. MEASURE the spices into a small bowl or ramekin. When the syrup reaches 240°F, set the mixer to low speed. Slowly drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of the hot syrup to warm the mixture (if you add too much hot syrup at once, the egg whites may scramble.). On low speed, slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup, the vanilla and all the spices; then increase the speed to medium-high. Beat until the marshmallow creme is stiff and glossy, 8-10 minutes.

    4. COOL and use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

    Marshmallow dates back to ancient Egypt. The marsh mallow plant that was plentiful along the banks of the Nile has a slippery sap that forms a gel when mixed with water. The Egyptians mixed the “juice” with honey to make a confection, reserved for the wealthy and the gods.

    The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder credited the sap with curing all sorts of diseases, and encouraged people to drink the juice daily, although it wasn’t very palatable (what happened to the honey?). Still, for centuries the sap was used to treat sore throats, skin conditions and other maladies.

    In the mid-19th century, a pharmacist in Paris came up with the idea of whipping the sap with sugar and egg whites into a light, sweet, fluffy throat remedy. A variation soon became popular as marshmallow candy.

    By the late 19th century, confectioners had determined how to mass-produce marshmallows, which included eliminating the sap entirely and replacing it with gelatin. (Prepared gelatin was patented in 1845; prior to then it was laborious to render and clarify gelatin from cattle and pig bones, skin, tendons and ligaments; and in addition to setting aspics, it was desirable as glue, a use that dates back to ancient Egypt.).

    Marshmallow sauces were popular in the early 20th century (see Marshmallow History). But to make marshmallow sauce or frosting required that the cook first make marshmallow creme. It was a two-step process: make a sugar syrup, melt marshmallow candy in a double boiler, and combine them with the syrup.

    In 1910 a marshmallow creme called Marshmallow Fluff was sold to ice cream parlors by Limpert Brothers, a company that still exists in New Jersey. You can see the original packaging here.

    Snowflake Marshmallow Creme was available around 1914. The first commercially successful, shelf-stable marshmallow creme, it was produced by the Curtis Marshmallow Factory of Melrose, Massachusetts.

    They ultimately bought the Marshmallow Fluff brand from the Lippert Brothers (details). Marshmallow Fluff wasn’t the first marshmallow creme, but it’s the one that endured: 94 years later, the brand is still around.

    Unlike conventional marshmallows, which require gelatin (an animal product) or a seaweed equivalent to set, marshmallow creme is a kosher product made from corn syrup, sugar, water, egg whites, artificial flavor, cream of tartar, xanthan gum and artificial color.

    Marshmallow Fluff is OU Kosher, Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme is OK Kosher. Ricemellow Creme, manufactured by Suzanne’s Specialties, Inc., is a vegan equivalent.



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