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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 Top Pick Of The Week

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Yummy Breads From Ozery Bakery

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Morning Rounds: the deliciously better
alternative to breakfast pastries. We’re
addicted to them. Photo courtesy Ozery
Bakery.

 

Ozery Bakery is a family owned business that bakes better-for-you breads and crackers, holesome and delicious.

  • The grains are organic whole grains: Kamut/Khorasan wheat, oats, rye, spelt, and whole wheat.
  • The breads use only natural ingredients—no preservatives or additives.
  • Each variety is heart healthy, low in fat and sodium and protein rich.
  • The line is allergy-friendly: soy free, dairy free, peanut and nut free (made in a nut-free facility) and vegan.
  • Everything is baked in small batches. The line is certified kosher (pareve) by KSA, certified organic and certified non-GMO.
  •  
    And you can buy them online by the case—which is no problem, since the preservative-free, perishable breads should all go into the freezer anyway.

    It’s as close as you’ll get to guilt-free bread.

     
    Fifteen years ago, the Toronto-based sandwich shop owners grew weary of commercial bread. They decided to bake a loaf from a family recipe.

    From that first bite of fragrant, chewy bread, they began baking their own flavorful bread for their sandwiches, and began selling the bread in the sandwich shop. Then, the bread started outselling the sandwiches, with many customers ordering bread in bulk and spreading the word.

    Gourmet and health food companies began knocking on the door. A breakfast bread was created: Morning Rounds, a fusion of the family’s homemade pita baking techniques and Canadian tastes for muesli and fruit.

    And now, the four-product line is available in the U.S., at natural food stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods Markets.

     

    OZERY BAKERY BREADS

    Morning Rounds are a fruit and grain bun, evocative of fruited English muffins. The sweetness of the fruit makes them an easy replacement for doughnuts, muffins and breakfast pastries.

    You can enjoy them from the bag or toasted, plain or spread with butter or jam. The flavors include Apple Cinnamon, Cranberry Orange and Muesli; we find the Cranberry Orange to be addictively delicious.

    Each contains 5g of protein, 170 calories, and is a source of fiber, iron, calcium, Vitamin B, antioxidants and folic acid. The company also bakes mini Snacking Rounds in the same flavors.

    OneBun thin, whole grain buns were invented as a healthy alternative to classic burger buns.

    They’re soft, flavorful and pre-sliced rounds, named OneBun because this one bun can be use for sandwiches, burgers, homemade pizzas, dips, even taco fillings.

    Choose from OneBun Multigrain*, OneBun Organic (plain), OneBun Sprouted and OneBun Whole Wheat. Another benefit: The halves are much thinner than traditional hamburger buns or sandwich breads, saving calories—just 100 calories for both halves.

     

    one-bun-wheat-230

    OneBun is one bun that works for everything. Photo courtesy Ozery Bakery.

     
    The halves are much thinner than traditional hamburger buns or sandwich breads, saving calories: just 100 calories for both halves.

    Freeze, Don’t Refrigerate

    Since the breads contain no preservatives, the best way to keep them fresh is to freeze them right away. Freezing quickly locks in the moisture.

    It’s easy to restore fresh-baked flavor and texture: Thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes, microwave for 10 seconds or pop into the toaster oven to toast or warm at 400°F for a minute.

    Never refrigerate bread. Refrigerators work on the principle of drawing out heat, which removes the moisture along with it.
     
    OZERY BAKERY CRACKERS

    Crispy Pita Snacks are very flavorful and crunchy in Cranberry Pumpkin Seed, Organic Spelt With Flax, Organic Wheat and Rosemary Garlic. Use them as dippers, with soup, or snack from the bag.

    Skinny Dippers are lavash strips in Flax and Honey, Multi Grain and Honey, Organic Spelt and Organic Whole Wheat. Pair them with cheeses, soups or spreads.
     
    *More than a simple combination of grains, the blend includes with flax seeds, sunflower seeds, barley, millet, triticale, cracked wheat, and rye.

    We really enjoyed this simple snack idea, a mock bruschetta (the bread for bruschetta is grilled, not toasted), which tops a OneBun with goat cheese, ribbons of fresh zucchini, lemon juice and olive oil.

    RECIPE: ZUCCHINI & GOAT CHEESE BRUSCHETTA

    Ingredients

  • Fresh zucchini
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh goat cheese
  • Multigrain OneBun
  •  
    Preparation

    1. THINLY SLICE the zucchini with a potato peeler. Place in a bowl and add lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings. Mix well.

    2. PLACE the goat cheese in a bowl and mash it with a fork.

    3. TOAST the OneBun, spread with goat cheese and then top with zucchini ribbons.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Sorbabes Gourmet Sorbet

    peanut-butter-chocolate-bananas-dish-230

    It looks like ice cream, but it’s sorbet:
    amazing peanut butter banana sorbet with a
    fudge swirl. Photo courtesy Sorbabes.

     

    You’ve never tasted sorbet like this before,” says Sorbabes. And they’re spot on.

    The Sorbabes (as in sorbet babes) are two friends who met in New York City and followed their calling as specialty food entrepreneurs. They founded the Gourmet Sorbet Corp. in 2012.

    They may not even know it, but they have taken sorbet to new heights.

    By using creamy, nondairy ingredients such as coconut milk, peanut butter and fudge swirls, they’ve created a sorbet texture and complexity that’s entirely new to us.

    These flavors have the creaminess of ice cream, while remaining dairy free, cholesterol free and very low in fat (flavors with coconut milk and fudge ripple contain a small amount of fat; some flavors are fat free). Some are vegan.

    Flavors very seasonally, but here’s what we’ve been enjoying this summer:

     

  • Juicy Orange Passionfruit With Lychees. This flavor is classic sorbet style—no added creamy ingredients. But it’s brilliant. Orange juice and zest take a bit of the edge off of the naturally tart passionfruit, without detracting from intense passionfruit flavor. The chopped lychees add joy of flavor plus great texture: a perfect pairing of fruits. If they only made this one great flavor, Sorbabes would be our Top Pick Of The Week.
  •  
    But there’s more greatness to come.

  • Creamy Coconut Chai Sorbet. With a base of coconut cream and hints hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, this flavor could evoke Indian chai. But to us, the crunchy slivers of coconut and the crumbs from the fresh-baked coconut macaroons evoke Biscuit Tortoni, our childhood passion. The coconut milk replaces the Tortoni’s whole eggs and heavy cream, although vegan should note the macaroons contain egg whites.
  •  

  • Organic Peanut Banana Sorbet with Chocolate Fudge. An astounding flavor: lusciously creamy peanut sorbet with chunks of banana, a ripple of dark chocolate fudge and large chunks of peanuts. It’s so ice cream like, people won’t immediately think that it’s sorbet. Use it to fill a chocolate cookie pie crust: You’ve got instant frozen peanut butter banana pie.
  • Organic Pistachio With Sea Salted Caramel. The Sorbabes say that this flavor put them on the map. Whole organic pistachios in a water base are laced with a French sea salted caramel sauce. It’s a beauty, and so creamy it’s hard to believe it’s dairy free.
  • Raspberry Fudge. Red raspberries combine with fudge sauce to emulate a frozen raspberry truffle—actually a classic raspberry sorbet generously spiked with chocolate fudge. A slight problem here: All the fudge sauce was on the bottom of the pint. We needed to soften the sorbet and then churn up the fudge with a spatula.
  •  

    pistachio-pint-2-230

    We’re still on the hunt for a pint of Organic Pistachio With Sea Salted Caramel. Photo courtesy Sorbabes.

     

  • Summer Cucumber White Wine Mint. Called “summer in a jar” by the Sorbabes, this flavor has a cult following. The combination is fresh cucumber, fresh mint and Wolffer Estate white wine. Alas, we have not yet tracked down a pint. We’ve got a few more stores to visit until we can joint the cult.
  •  
    And there’s the rub.

    As a new company, Sorbabes has limited distribution in the Metro New York area. We hope that their participation last week in the country’s largest specialty food trade show has gotten them clients nationwide.

    Until then, you’ll have to petition the best food store in town to bring the Sorbabes to you.

    For more information visit GourmetSorbet.com, and check out the Facebook page for a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet with Lemonade.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bare Coconut Chips

    two-bags-230

    Coconut chips are a delicious snack, but so
    much more. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    The limited days of Almond Joy, Mounds, toasted coconut marshmallows are over. Coconut lovers have numerous ways to enjoy the tropical fruit. For starters, there are coconut butter, coconut flour, coconut M&Ms, coconut milk, coconut nutrition bars, coconut oil, coconut rum and the ubiquitous coconut water. (Hey: Why is it so hard to find coconut ice cream?)

    And now, there’s a snack that goes back to the basics: BARE Coconut Chips. BARE scoops the fruit from fresh coconuts, slices and bakes it into better-for-you snack chips. And they’re delicious, in:

  • Simply Toasted (vegan)
  • Show Me the Honey
  • Sweet N’ Heat (vegan)
  •  
    Coming soon are:

  • Chocolate Bliss (available August)
  • Sea Salt Caramel (available Fall)
  •  

    COCONUT: NOT A NUT!

    Let us digress for a moment in the name of food education. The coconut is not a nut!

    It’s a fruit—a drupe, like stone fruits and almonds—and not a true nut like pecans, pistachios, walnuts and others. As the immature coconut develops, the drinkable coconut water in the shell converts to edible flesh; when dried, the coconut flesh is called copra.

    The coconut tree got its name from 16th-century Portuguese and Spanish seafarers; the term “isoco,” meaning head or skull, the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features.

    Coconut products are part of the daily diets of many people. Coconut oil and milk derived are commonly used in cooking and frying; coconut oil is also widely used in soaps and cosmetics. The husks and leaves can be used as material to make a variety of items for furnishing and decorating.

     

    BACK TO COCONUT CHIPS

    BARE Crunchy Coconut Chips are a sister line to BARE’s outstanding line of Crunchy Apple Chips, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week and one of our favorite better-for-you snacks at home and work.

    Both product lines are minimally-processed, good-for-you snacks made from only real, whole-food ingredients. They are gluten free, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan (except for the Show me the Honey Coconut Chips), a good source of dietary fiber, and are free of refined sugar, preservatives, cholesterol and trans fats.

    Discover more at BareSnacks.com.
     
    USES FOR COCONUT CHIPS

  • Breakfast: as a garnish for cottage cheese and yogurt, cereal, pancakes and porridge
  • Lunch: as a salad or soup garnish
  • Snacks: from the bag, in trail mix, atop cupcakes
  • Dinner: plate garnish, with rice and other grains
  •  

    bag-bowl-2-230

    Simply delicious, plain or flavored. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Dessert: atop cake frosting, ice cream, puddings, and as a general garnish
  •  
    They don’t melt, provide an energy boost, and are a great tote-along and leave-in-the-car snack. Get them from the company website or at retailers nationwide (store locator).

    Get some of the terrific apple chips while you’re at it.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blake Hill Preserves

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    One of the exquisite marmalades. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Blake Hill Preserves is an artisan chutney, jam and marmalade producer based near historic Grafton Village in Vermont’s Green Mountains. There, a gifted duo traditionally crafts all-natural chutneys, jams and preserves with sophisticated modern, bright, fruit-forward flavors and marvelous textures. You can see the difference, even before you taste it.

    Each small batch is slow-cooked by hand, carefully layering the ingredients to concentrate intense, fresh flavors. All of the ingredients are top quality ingredients, many organic. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    One weekend in 2009, Vicky, a third-generation English preserve maker, turned a bumper crop of wild blackberries growing on Blake Hill Farm into 70 jars of glistening jam. A friend sneaked a jar to the local grocery store and returned an hour later with Vicky’s first jam order; Vicky and Joe Hanglin formed Blake Hill Preserves and have been pleasing demanding palates ever since.

    Joe, who grew up in Gibraltar with British, Spanish and Italian ancestry, brings his culinary heritage to the line of chutneys, some of which are made with fruits, vegetables and spices inspired by Moroccan tagines and the flavors of the Middle East.

     

    We were thrilled with the samples they sent us, and recommend them to all for personal enjoyment and gifting.

    The 200-year-old farm, purchased in 2004, came with meandering old stone walls, beautiful wooded trails and an abundance of wild blackberry and raspberry bushes. Vicky and Joeadded blueberries, gooseberries and blush-pink rhubarb, all of which are use to make the wonderful spreads.

    Since everything is made in small batches, so flavors can sell out. But today, you can purchase this cornucopia of exquisite products:

    CHUTNEYS

  • Apricot & Fresh Orange
  • Cranberry, Apple & Mulling Spices
  • Middle Eastern Date & Red Chile
  • Moroccan Plum & Fennel
  • Rhubarb, Apple & Ginger
  •  

    JAMS

  • Blackberry & Rhubarb
  • Blueberries & Summer Plum
  • Perfectly Plum
  • Raspberry & Hibiscus Flower
  • Strawberry & Rhubarb
  •  
    MARMALADES

  • Fresh Seville Orange
  • Grapefruit & Lemon
  • Lemon, Lime & Aged 100% Agave Tequila
  • Orange & 10-Year Single Malt Whisky
  • Orange, Lime & Ginger
  •  

    The products are completely natural, low sugar, low salt, gluten free and fat free. Beyond spreads, they are delicious with cheese plates, with grilled paninis and other sandwiches, as condiments for everything from barbecue to winter stews, as dessert toppings and much more.

     

    plum-fennel-chutney-230

    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    At $7.49 per jar, these are wonderful gifts—and when you gift yourself with a selection, you’ll be spoiled forever. Say the owners, “It takes up to 13 ounces of fruit and vegetables to fill every 13 ounce jar!”

    Get yours at BlakeHillPreserves.com.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Whiskey-Infused Chocolate Truffles

    If Dad loves chocolate and spirits, this may be the ideal Father’s Day gift!

    The Oregon Distiller’s Collection from Moonstruck Chocolate is nine-piece collection of truffles infused with spirits from five of Oregon’s finest craft distillers.

    The spirits are infused into chocolate ganache and hand-piped into hand-painted chocolate shells. The collection is a parade of deliciousness:

  • Bendistillery Crater Lake Pepper Vodka Truffle: A ganache of ivory and dark chocolate is infused with the spirit. A blend of five different sweet and hot chiles creates a balance of flavor and spice; in an ivory chocolate shell.
  • Bull Run Distillery Pacific Rum and Cola Truffle: A blend of dark and milk chocolate ganache is infused with the rum and cola-flavored spirit to mimic the classic cocktail; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • Bull Run Temperance Trader Bourbon Whiskey Truffle: A dark and milk chocolate ganache is infused with this popular whiskey, creating sweet and smoky notes with a hint of fruit and butterscotch; in a dark chocolate shell.
  •    

    craft-distillers-230

    A gift box of spirits-infused truffles. Photo courtesy Moonstruck Chocolate.

     

  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Apple Brandy Truffle: The spirit is blended into a ganache of ivory and dark chocolate, featuring notes of grass, apple and spice; in dark chocolate shell.
  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Pear Brandy Truffle: A blended milk and dark chocolate ganache is infused with the pear brandy; in an ivory chocolate shell.
  •  

    moonstruck_craft_distillers-goodstuffnw-230r

    Each individual flavor can be purchased
    separately, too. Photo courtesy
    GoodstuffNW.com.

     
  • House Spirits Distillery Krogstad Aquavit Truffle: The aquavit is blended into an ivory and dark chocolate ganache, creating a warm blend of chocolate, star anise and caraway flavors; in a milk chocolate shell.
  • House Spirits Distillery Coffee Liqueur Truffle: The strong, freshly-brewed coffee flavor of the liqueur infuses a blend of milk and dark chocolate ganache; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • House Spirits Distillery Aviation Gin Truffle: This milk and dark chocolate ganache is infused with the gin, delivering a bouquet of botanical flavors, with top notes of citrus, anise, cardamom and lavender; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • Rogue Ale Dead Guy Whiskey Truffle: A blended ivory and dark chocolate is infused with the whiskey, creating delicately sweet notes, a rich malt complexity and a warm peppery finish; in a milk chocolate shell.
  •  
    Who could resist? The nine-piece sampler is $20.00. The flavors can be purchased individually in boxes of 20 pieces for $50.00.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHISKEY & WHISKY

    Check out the different types of whiskey in our Whiskey Glossary.
      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Magnum Ice Cream Bars New Flavors

    The premium ice cream brand, Magnum, was launched in Sweden in January 1989. (January? Sweden? Ice cream? Brr!)

    Now part of Unilever, the original Magnum, targeted to adults, offered a thick bar of vanilla ice cream on a stick, with real chocolate coating.

    At the time, there was no real chocolate that could withstand the commercial ice cream freezer temperature of -40° Celsius (even today, premium brands like Häagen-Dazs use confectionary coating, not real chocolate, and good palates can taste the difference).

    So a special (and especially excellent) chocolate was developed by the great Belgian chocolate producer, Callebaut.

    In 2011, Magnum ice cream was launched in the U.S. and Canada with six varieties: Double Caramel, Double Chocolate, Classic, Almond, White and Dark. For us, it was love at first bite.

    Today, Magnum is one of the world’s leading ice cream brands, selling one billion bars annually, worldwide. It is the biggest brand of Unilever ice creams (which include Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Fudgsicle, Klondike and Popsicle, among others).

    Since our first Magnum review, the quality has continued to deliver all that one could desire. We’ve been remiss, and it’s time to promote this brand to a Top Pick Of The Week.

       

    chocolate-infinity-box-bar-blackbkgd-230

    The best chocolate fix in the supermarket: a Magnum Chocolate Infinity Bar. Photo courtesy Unilever.

     

     

    minis-black-bkgd-ps-230

    Minis have all of the satisfaction, with far
    fewer calories. Photo courtesy Unilever.

     

    2014 NEW FLAVORS

  • Magnum Chocolate Infinity Bar, dark chocolate ice cream with a rich chocolate swirl, dipped in dark chocolate and cacao (cocoa bean) nibs. The extra texture provided by the cacao nibs is inspired.
  • Magnum Chocolate Infinity & Raspberry Bar, dark chocolate ice cream with a raspberry swirl, dipped in dark chocolate and those inspired cacao nibs. If you haven’t tried it, chocolate and raspberry are one of life’s great combinations, whether in ice cream, chocolates or cake.
  • Also new:

  • Mini Variety Pack, all the pleasure in a smaller serving size, which is still more than satisfying. Flavors include three top-sellers: Classic (vanilla ice cream dipped in milk chocolate), Almond (milk chocolate and almonds) and White Chocolate (vanilla ice cream dipped in white chocolate).
     
    The minis are 11.1 fluid ounces and 150/160* calories compared to 3.38 fluid ounces and 260/270& calories for the standard bars. Whether as lower-calorie treats or for smaller appetites, they hit the spot. (If you want to develop the palates of young children, give them Magnum Minis, not Good Humor).

  •  
    See all the variations available in the U.S. at MagnumIceCream.com (there are even more varieties in Europe).

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.
     
    Magnum Chocolate Infinity and Chocolate Infinity & Raspberry bars are available in 3-count multipacks at grocery stores nationwide, for a suggested retail price of $3.99. The Magnum Mini Variety Pack is available for a suggested retail price of $4.99 for a 6-count box. The bars are also available singly at some retailers.
     
    THE HISTORY OF ICE CREAM

    When did ice cream bars appear on the ice cream time line? Check out the history of ice cream.
     
    *Almond-coated bars have 10 additional calories.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: New Talenti Gelato Flavors

    3-pints-raspberry-brownie-apple-230

    Each flavor is better than the next. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Among the happiest days of THE NIBBLE’s year are when the samples of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto’s new flavors arrive. This privately owned business produces a superior artisan ice cream at a better price than the big “superpremium” brands like Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s.

    Discriminating consumers know it. As proof, since 2007, Talenti’s revenue has exploded from $1 million to $49.3 million in 2012, the last year for which we could obtain figures.

    Three new flavors have recently joined the line:

    Caramel Apple Pie is more cinnamon apple pie with a subtle hint of caramel in the swirl, which is just fine with us. With plentiful pieces of Red Delicious apples and flaky pie crust, it is like apple pie in pint. Instead of baking a pie for a gathering, bring a few pints of it!

    Fudge Brownie is an extra-dark chocolate with a welcome bittersweet edge and chewy chunks of brownie. If there could be an improvement on the original Talenti Double Dark Chocolate gelato, this is it.

    Raspberry Vanilla is like a dish of fresh raspberries and cream that has been frozen. The sweet cream gelato with pieces of fresh berries has a tart raspberry and balsamic ripple for a sophisticated twist.

     

    Talenti gelato also has 30% less fat than regular ice cream—though you’d never know it. It’s a better-for-you option that’s as rich and creamy as you want it to be.

    The milk used is rBST free. Vegans and those avoiding lactose can enjoy four delicious sorbets.

     

    Like all Talenti flavors, these new flavors are made using the finest natural ingredients that are carefully sourced from around the world: chocolate from Belgium, caramel from Argentina and mangoes from India, to name a few. Premium fresh fruit and spices are used.

    The line, which includes sorbetto and ice pops, is certified kosher (dairy) by OU. The products are available at major retailers nationwide, at a suggested retail price of $4.99-$5.99

    Those who judge an ice cream line by its vanilla are encouraged to try the ethereal Tahitian Vanilla Bean. Chocolate lovers can dish up Double Dark Chocolate and Belgian Milk Chocolate (try a combination of both!).

    Our personal favorites: Banana Chocolate Swirl and Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.

     

    pint-piggy-bank-andrewwilsoninspiration-230sq

    Un-piggy banks for everyone! Photo courtesy Talenti.

     

    Check out all 25 Talenti flavors.

    And please, Talenti: We’d love for you to make peach gelato. Maybe for next summer?

    Also in stores nationwide are Talenti’s Gelato Pops, in 8 delicious flavors dipped in Belgian chocolate. We’re especially addicted to Banana Swirl and Caribbean Coconut.

    Chomping at the bit? Here’s a store locator.

    Coda: Talenti’s unique see-through containers can be popped into the dishwasher and reused for food storage. Or, make everyone a piggy bank to collect loose that pesky loose change.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Delicious, Nutritious, Better-For-You Bison

    “Meet the better meat,” invites The Bison Council, and we agree.

    Bison is a red meat lover’s dream come true. It provides all the flavor of beef (even more, we think!) without the negatives. You can enjoy succulent steaks without high cholesterol and juicy burgers without all the fat. Bison is lower in fat, cholesterol and calories than even chicken and turkey, and is a great source of iron.

    Here’s how bison compares nutritionally with other proteins.

    The one catch impacts those who like their meat cooked medium-well. Because it has very low fat content (less fat than turkey!), bison must be eaten rare to medium rare (just the way we like our meat!). Tender and juicy, good bison gets raves from every food lover we know.

    If you’re concerned because you don’t like rare beef, we still urge you to try rare bison—in fact, how about bison filet mignon or tenderloin roast for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day?

    Here’s how to cook bison.

     

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    A bison tenderloin roast. Photo courtesy AllenBrothers.com.

     

    OH GIVE ME A HOME WHERE THE BISON ROAM

    Let us interject a quick lesson: Bison and buffalo are not the same animal. They are cousins in the same family and sub-family, but of different genuses—like the dog and the wolf. Here’s how the taxonomy compares among bison, buffalo and cattle, complete with photos.

    Bison is a native American animal; buffalo are the water buffaloes of Africa and Asia. The first Europeans to see bison presumed the huge, shaggy beasts to be another type of buffalo, and the misnomer has lasted for centuries, aided and abetted by the U.S. government’s minting of the “buffalo” nickel. Here’s the difference between bison and buffalo.

    And it doesn’t help that the unofficial anthem of the American West (and the official state song of Kansas) was/is “Home On The Range.” The poem, written in the early 1870s in Kansas, was set to music, and the rest is tuneful—if inaccurate—history.
     
    THE BISON REVIVAL

    Bison once ranged over most of the North American continent: from the Rockies all the way to the East Coast (hence the city of Buffalo, New York), from Mexico north to the Northwest Territories of Canada.

    Most American students learn the tragedy of the bison: how the great natural herds were slaughtered to the brink of extinction in the 1870s and 1880s by commercial hunters and sports hunters. The near-extinction also caused the demise of many Native American tribes, who relied on the bison for food, clothing, coverings for their lodges, sinew for bow strings, tools and fuel.

    By 1889, the few remaining animals were saved by the combined efforts of William Hornaday, Director of the New York Zoological Park (now the Bronx Zoo) and a small group of private ranchers. In 1905, the American Bison Society was formed to save the bison and provide protect rangeland for the animals. In 1907, some offspring of the bison saved by Hornaday became the nucleus of the present-day herd of 600 in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

    Fast forward to the late 20th century: In the 1970s an 1980s, as the high cholesterol content of beef was raised as a health issue, the search for better meat options led to the bison.

    Today, the estimated 75 million North American bison of the mid-1800s are greatly reduced but thriving, with an estimated 500,000 animals. They live on approximately 4,000 privately owned commercial ranches; about 15,000 wild bison are free-ranging on protected lands. [Source: Wikipedia]

    The bison is the largest land mammal to roam North America since the end of the Ice Age. It is a descendant of ancient animals that crossed the Bering Strait land bridge some 300,000 years ago. Americans can once again see magnificent herds of this noble heritage beast.

     

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    A bison burger, with Gorgonzola blended into
    the patty. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    BISON CUTS

    Bison is available in cuts similar to those of beef. You’ll find:

  • Cooked & raw sausages: franks, brats and sausages in different styles
  • Deli meats: bison bacon, bologna, pepperoni, salami
  • Ground: ground meat and burger and slider patties
  • Ribs: back rib racks and short ribs
  • Roasts: brisket, chuck, pot roast, prime rib, rump, sirloin butt, tenderloin (Chateaubriand), tri-tip
  • Steaks: filet mignon, flank, flatiron, hanging tender, ribeye, sirloin, strip
  • Plus: center cut shank (osso buco), jerky, liver, snack sticks, stew meat
  •  

    You can can replace bison in any recipe, from chili and meat balls to kabobs and stir frys. Check out the wealth of beautiful bison recipes from The Bison Council.

    Always look for bison that is 100% USDA certified. Many cuts are also American Heart Association certified—it’s that good for you.

     

    THE BISON COUNCIL

    Just as some beef is tough and some is celestial, so it goes for bison. To have that heavenly bison experience, you need to buy from a good butcher, who buys from a top rancher.

    The Bison Council is dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and stewardship of the North American Bison. Members pledge to maintain the highest standards and ideals of animal care and husbandry, sustainability, food safety, purity of ingredients and quality of finished consumer products.

    Charter members include:

  • Carmen Creek Gourmet Bison
  • Chinook Bison Ranch
  • Double T Bison Ranch
  • High Plains Bison
  • Jackson Fork Ranch
  • Wild Rose Meats
  •  

    The website is a wealth of information about bison. Take a look!

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chocolate Covered Figs (Higos)

    Higos (EE-gose) is the Spanish word for figs. Take just one bite of chocolate covered figs, and you’ll never forget the word. These bonbons are not broadly enjoyed in the U.S., but they should be.

    We can’t remember who sent us the box of ChocoHigos, but thank you so very much. We’d had bites of them at trade shows, but a whole box to ourselves was indeed a luxurious experience.

    ChocoHigos are figs enrobed with chocolate. This artisan confection is handmade in Aragón, Spain by brothers Fernando, Manuel and Pepe Caro, the third generation to prepare the family recipe.

    The sweet, plump Pajarero figs, from Extremadura in western Spain, are a thin-skinned, delicate variety that are smaller and sweeter than the varieties most common in the U.S., such as Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna (Turkish) and Kadota.

    The figs are harvested, dried and then hand-dipped in the 68% dark chocolate also made by the Caros. The family recipe uses 100% Forastero cacao grown on the Costa de Marfil of the Côte d’Ivoire. The flavor is a perfect counterpoint to the figs: earthy with notes of cinnamon and clove.

     

    whole-box-230

    ChocoHigos: delightful fig bonbons. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The taste: sublime. Enjoy them after dinner with coffee, brandy or liqueur. Give them to foodie friends. A box of 10 figs, 4.94 ounces, is $9.89 on Amazon.com.

    Another fig confection from Spain is Rabitos. The recipe is a bit different: The figs are soaked in brandy, stuffed with a brandied chocolate ganache, and then enrobed in dark chocolate. We personally prefer ChocoHigos.

     

    pajarerero-figs-forevercheese-230

    Dried Pajarero figs. Photo courtesy Forever
    Cheese.

     

    HOW TO ENJOY CHOCO-HIGOS

  • With cheese, especially blue cheese and triple-crèmes.
  • With a cup of coffee or tea, as a snack or a mini-dessert.
  • With a glass of Port or late harvest Zinfandel.
  • As an anytime chocolate fix.
  •  

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIGS

    The fig was one of the first plants domesticated by man, roughly around 9000 B.C.E., in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley of Mespopotamia*. Easy to grow, nutritious and delicious, it quickly spread to other areas bordering the Mediterranean. Over time, new varieties were bred and cultivated.

     
    Figs came to America in the 1500s; by the 1700s, they were a major food crop planted by Spanish missionaries in settlements along the West Coast of Mexico and California. Figs came to America in the 1500s; by the 1700s, they were a major food crop planted by Spanish missionaries in settlements along the West Coast of Mexico and California.

    By the late 1800s, the commercial fig industry was well established in California’s Central Valley; along with Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey it is one of the largest fig-producing regions in the world.

     
    *The modern area includes Iraq, Kuwait, the northeastern section of Syria, and portions of southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dear Coco Toffee Chocolate Bars

    Quite a few artisan chocolatiers are also pastry chefs. Rachel Ferneau makes chocolates as Dear Coco, but was previously the proprietor of Eden Cake, a made-to-order kosher pareve bakery serving metro Washington, D.C.

    While we’ve missed the opportunity to try her desserts, she was kind enough to send us some chocolate.

    Everything from this artisan chocolatier is 100% handcrafted in small batches. The chocolates are completely dairy-free, all natural and certified kosher pareve by Star-K.

    In both her baking and her chocolates, flavors of the world are evoked with coffees and teas, exotic salts, fine herbs, flowers, fruits, roasted nuts and spices.

    Recently, Dear Coco launched a creative line of vegan-friendly artisan chocolate bars: Toffee Chocolate Bars. Eight unique bars are embedded with toffee and the spices that evoke each of the eight globally-inspired locations.

    The toffee is made with vegan butter* in order to be pareve† and lactose free. This substitution, so that the bars can be enjoyed anytime by kosher observers, makes them vegan-friendly as well. Yes, it cuts down on the butteriness of the toffee; but there is so much other layering of flavors that no one will notice.

     

    oaxaca-bar-front-back-230

    The Oaxaca bar invokes the moles of Oaxaca, Mexico with cinnamon toffee and pepitas. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    group-tablecloth-230

    Five of the eight “destination” toffee
    chocolate bars. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    NEW & SPECIAL: TOFFEE CHOCOLATE BARS

    All of the bars are made with dark chocolate and a touch of sea salt.

  • Barcelona Toffee Chocolate Bar: Influenced by the flavors of Spain—roasted almond toffee and sea salt.
  • Istanbul Toffee Chocolate Bar: Inspired by the flavors of baklava—cinnamon clove toffee with rosewater, roasted walnuts.
  • Madras Toffee Chocolate Bar: A tribute to the curries of Southeast India—sweet curry toffee with roasted sunflower seeds.
  • Oaxaca Toffee Chocolate Bar: A recognition of the mole dishes of Oaxaca—Mexican cinnamon and smoky hot chile toffee with roasted pepitas.
  • Savannah Toffee Chocolate Bar: A tribute to the pecan pie of “The Hostess City of the South”—pie spice toffee with roasted pecans.
  • Shanghai Toffee Chocolate Bar: Honoring a staple spice of Cantonese cooking, Chinese five spice toffee (here a blend of cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves) with roasted white sesame seeds.
  • Sidama Toffee Chocolate Bar: For the coffee lover, crunchy caramelized coffee toffee infused with Ethiopian coffee beans.
  • Tokyo Toffee Chocolate Bar: Homage to the sushi bar—ginger toffee with crispy rice.
  •  

    The 3.5-ounce bars are $7.50 each. A gift set of eight (all the flavors) is $54.00.

    Get yours at DearCoco.com.

     
    *Products like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks are made from expeller-pressed oils that have 0g trans fats. More information.

    †Kosher law prohibits the consumption of dairy and meat products together. Pareve is a classification of foods that contain neither dairy nor meat ingredients, and can be eaten with both groups. Pareve foods include eggs, fish and all foods that are grown—cereals, fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.

      

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