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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: Carla Hall Petite Cookies

Most fans of “Top Chef” Chef love Carla Hall, a finalist on her season and a subsequent Top Chef All Star, winning the “Fan Favorite” award.

She went on to become a cohost on “The Chew” and to start Carla Hall Petite Cookies, an artisan cookie company that specializes in teeny cookies.

A brilliant idea for people who need just a bite, the cookies are either half-inch cubes or one-inch drop cookies, depending on the nature of the dough.

They’re meant to pair “boldly and beautifully,” according to Carla, with beer, wine, tea and coffee.

For home, entertaining and gifting, we’ve been charmed by these little cookies. Made in small batches, every step from mixing the dough to packaging is done by hand.

Of course, only the finest ingredients are used: European-style butter, unbleached sugar and flour, couverture chocolate, artisan cheeses, fresh nuts, premium spices and, says Carla of her most important ingredient: love.

Focusing on familiar flavors with a twist, choices include:

   

Harissa Spiced Nuts and Cookies

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies, teeny bites of heaven. Carla Hall Petite Cookies.

 
Petite Cookies

  • Almond Ginger Cherry Shortbread
  • Black Forest Crinkle (our favorite, a cherry-chocolate delight)
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Praline
  • Mexican Chocolate Chip
  • Lemon Black Pepper Shortbread
  • Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate
  • Pecan Shortbread with Vanilla Salt
  •  
    There’s one savory option:

  • Cheddar Pecan
  •  
    There are also cakes and regular-size cookies (including the best Magic bar we’ve ever had):

  • Cakes: Apple Walnut Bread, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Cinnamon Tea Cake, Lemon-Glazed Five Flavor Pound Cake, Salted Caramel Banana Bread
  • Cookies: Magic Bar, Oatmeal Cookie Sandwich, Triple Layer Cookie Bar
  •  

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    A gift box for any cookie lover. Photo courtesy Carla Hall Petite Cookies.

     

    WHAT SHOULD YOU GET?

    Most definitely, the Sweet Collection Gift Box, which includes six of the seven varieties of sweet petites. It’s $25.00; there’s a smaller box with three varieties for $12.50.

    If you want to include a signed copy of Carla’s cookbook, Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World—you can add it to the Sweet Collection gift box for a total of $45.00.

    There are other gift options, other goodies, and of course, you can buy individual packages of whatever you like.

    Head to CarlaHall.com to get yours.

    Or, find a retailer near you.

     

    CARLA HALL TRIVIA

    Fans of Top Chef may remember that Carla spent several years working as a model on the runways of Paris, Milan and London. It was in Paris that she fell in love with the art of food.

    But what most people don’t know is that before heading to Europe, Carla spent two years as a CPA at Price Waterhouse.

    When she returned from Europe, she attended L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland where she completed her culinary training and began her career as a professional chef.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Siggi’s Skyr, Icelandic Yogurt

    We remember when Siggi Hilmarsson’s skyr (pronounced SKEER), Icelandic-style strained yogurt, first appeared on the shelves of Murray’s Cheese in Greenwich Village.

    Hailing from Iceland, the transplanted New Yorker found the yogurts in the U.S. too sweet and not thick enough—even the Greek-style yogurts. So in 2004 he started to make his own, in his kitchen. Today, Siggi’s skyr is available nationally, to the delight of many.

    This is not bargain yogurt. It’s even pricier than Greek brands—and it’s thicker than Greek yogurt as well. The reason is, more milk is required to produce the same quantity. You get what you pay for.

    Greek-style yogurt is thicker than American-style yogurt because more water is strained out of the whey—it’s triple strained. But skyr is drained even more. Think of it as quadruple-strained yogurt. One cup of Siggi’s skyr requires four times more milk than a typical American brand.

    The result is so thick that a spoon stands up straight in the cup; yet it has 0% fat (some flavors are lowfat, 2%). The concentration of milk also delivers more calcium and protein.

     

    bowl-w-arils-230r

    A bowl of Siggi’s skyr with pomegranate arils. Photo courtesy Siggi’s Dairy.

     
    IS SKYR YOGURT OR CHEESE?

    In Iceland, skyr is typically fat-free because all the cream is been removed to make butter.

    If you look for information on skyr, you may find it referred to as a cheese. So is it yogurt or cheese? It depends on the recipe of the individual producer.

    The recipe arrived in Iceland from Norway in the Middle Ages. It most likely was originally made as a cheese, with rennet. These days, some ism some isn’t. Siggi’s is yogurt.

    The difference between a cultured dairy product, such as sour cream or yogurt, and a fresh cheese that looks just like it, such as fromage blanc or quark, is the addition of a coagulant, such as rennet.

    With cottage cheese and ricotta, you can see the curds. With fromage blanc and quark (and most other cheeses), you can’t, because of the particular recipe. You also can’t tell the difference by tasting it. The textures of sour cream, yogurt, fromage blanc and quark are very similar.

    Don’t confuse these fresh cheeses with yogurt cheese like labneh.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE IN YOGURT

  • Regular yogurt is made by combining milk with live cultures. It is available plain and flavored, made from whole milk (5% fat), lowfat (1%) and fat-free (0%).
  • Greek yogurt follows the same recipe, but is triple strained, removing a portion of by the whey. This creates a thicker yogurt that is higher in protein. It may or may not be tangier than regular yogurt, depending on the processes of the particular brand.
  • Skyr, Icelandic yogurt, is even thicker than Greek yogurt. Think of it as quadruple-strained. It is made from skim milk (0%)—the cream is skimmed off to make butter. In Iceland it is often made from raw milk, which is not legal in the U.S. for fresh dairy products.
  • The more concentrated (strained) a style of yogurt is, the costlier it will be because it contains more milk and less water.

    Check out our Yogurt Glossary for much more on the different types of yogurt.

     

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    Siggi’s coconut yogurt topped with toasted coconut and pumpkin seeds from the pantry. Photo courtesy Siggi’s Dairy.

     

    SIGGI’S FLAVORS

    In addition to its much thicker body, Siggi’s flavors have far less sugar. Mainstream flavored yogurts can have up to 25 grams of sugar per serving. Siggi’s varieties have 9-11 grams, resulting in 10-20 calories less than brands like Chobani and FAGE. While that doesn’t mean a lot for one portion, for frequent yogurt eaters it adds up.

    The products are made with rBST-free milk that comes from family farms in New York State and Wisconsin, and are sweetened with fruit and a touch of agave nectar or cane sugar, instead of fruit preserves. The result is a more elegant flavor
     
    FLAVORS WITH 0% FAT

  • Blueberry
  • Mixed Berries & Açai
  • Orange & Ginger
  • Peach
  • Plain
  • Pomegranate & Passion Fruit
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  •  
    FLAVORS WITH 2% FAT

  • Coconut
  • Mango & Jalapeño
  • Plain
  • Pumpkin & Spice
  • Vanilla
  •  
    The company also makes squeezable yogurt tubes in Raspberry and Strawberry, and filmjölk—Swedish-style drinkable yogurt—in Plain, Raspberry, Strawberry and Vanilla.

    The brand is all natural, certified gluten-free and certified kosher by OU.

    Siggi’s is eco-friendly. The front of the label tells you the grams of sugar, protein and calories. The label itself is paper, and can be easily detached ffrom the plastic carton for separate recycling.

    For a store locator visit SiggisDairy.com.

     
    MOTHER’S DAY GIFTING

    For a yogurt lover, pick up one or two containers of each flavor and tuck them into an Easter basket or a nice serving bowl.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Scrub Daddy Sponge

    sponges-detergent-230

    scrub-daddy-boxes-230

    Scrub Daddy, our new kitchen essential. Photos by Faith Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    In the beginning, there was the sea sponge, one of the simplest animal organisms, believed to have evolved at least 700 million years ago. With no specialized organs and no locomotion, they attached to rocks on the sea bed, where they eat microscopic plants in the sea water.

    Under the skin is a simple skeleton made of a soft, porous material called spongin. Sponges have been harvested since ancient times and used for cleaning.

    In the 1940s, artificial sponges were developed by DuPont company, made from cellulose. Soon, cellulose sponges replaced natural sponges in America’s household. Today’s synthetic sponges can also be made from foamed plastic polymers.

    But as everyone who uses these sponges knows, they fall apart and worse, collect odors and bacteria—including salmonella and E.coli wiped from cutting boards and kitchen counters. The moist environment of a conventional sponge—wild or artificial—is conducive to bacterial growth.

    We are advised to regularly clean our sponges: in the dishwasher, microwave or washing machine; or by soaking in a solution of ammonia, bleach or vinegar.

     
    ENTER SCRUB DADDY

    Every so often, someone does create a better mousetrap. In this case, it was Aaron Krause, who created Scrub Daddy: a heavy-duty, scratch-free sponge. It is a champ at scrubbing off just about anything you want scrubbed.

    And it welcomes you with a smiling face, the mouth of which can be used to scrub utensils.

    Krause was washing and waxing cars for a living when he scratched a car. In response, he went home and invented a line of buffing and polishing pads, including the Scrub Daddy sponge.

    His business was bought out by 3M, which didn’t want Scrub Daddy because they had Scotch-Brite (not nearly as effective).

    He tried marketing Scrub Daddy himself, with minimal success ($100,000 in sales in 18 months). Then, he got an investment and assistance via Shark Tank that has generated $18 million in sales in 18 months.

     
    Scrub Daddy is made of a high-tech polymer texture that changes texture with the water temperature: It’s hard in cold water, for cleaning pots and grills; and soft in hot water for dishes.

    It’s safe to use (non-scratch) on just about every household surface. Like other sponges, it’s flexible to get to the bottom of coffee pots, mugs, vases, etc.

    We are thrilled—THRILLED!—with the cute little guy, who is made in happy colors: blue, green orange and yellow. There’s also a lemon-scented yellow version and a larger rectangle (no face). The company has also released Sponge Daddy, in the size of a conventional kitchen sponge (we haven’t tried it).

    We’ve used ours for a few months and it makes for happy scrubbing. Independent lab test showed it remains odor-free for up to two months. Beyond the kitchen, use it for:

  • Other household cleaning. Scrub Daddy adds fun to any chore.
  • Outdoor cleaning, from grills and swings to pool surfaces and decks.
  • Personal care, from handwashing (kids may like the face enough to use it more often) to exfoliating.
  • Auto care, the use that inspired it in the first place. Use it on your car or boat to clean dashboards, upholstery, wheels, windows, whatever.
  •  
    Scrub Daddy is sold in Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, SuperValu and Wal-Mart, with other retailers coming on board. There’s also a website, ScrubDaddy.com, but we hate to send you there because it needs work!

    You can also buy it on Amazon.com.

     

    PEACHY CLEAN, A PEACH-SCENTED SPONGE

    According to the manufacturers of Peachy Clean, the bacteria on a conventional sponge double every 20 minutes A scrubbing sponge is the #1 cross contaminator of food borne illnesses in the kitchen.

    So they created Peachy Clean Silicone Scrubbers, incorporating a new technology that is anti-microbial and anti-odor, resisting most odors caused by bacteria, mold and mildew.

    These scrubbers are specially designed to be fast drying to help reduce the bacteria, mold, and mildew growth facilitated by a moist environment.

    Also non-scratch, they last on average 3-6 months (they are the only scrubbers on the market that come with a 3 month warranty). Instead of a smiling face, the sponges smell like peaches.

    You can buy them on Amazon.com, and visit the company website, GetPeachyClean.com

     

    peachy-clean-juliatomases-230

    Peachy clean has a subtle peach aroma. Photo by Julia Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    NOTE: Both of these sponges are scrubbers, as opposed to liquid picker-uppers. While they will wipe a counter, for major spills you’ll need a conventional sponge or paper towel.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Kurobuta Ham

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    Ham doesn’t get any better than this Kurobuta. Photo courtesy Snake River Farms.

     

    If you’ve been thinking about a juicy Easter ham gracing your table next week, there’s still time to order the best.

    In our opinion, that’s a Kurobuta (koo-row-BOO-tuh) ham from Snake River Farms. We’ve order at least one each year, and we never cease to be very, very happy.

    Kurobuta ham has been called the world’s best ham. Made from pure-bred Berkshire pork, it’s also known as the Kobe beef of ham, because of the fine intramuscular marbling that makes the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender.

    How good is this ham? Succulent beyond expectation with a perfect smoke and impeccable seasoning, subtle notes of clove and other spices caressing one’s tongue.

    And the most celestial aroma! We were truly sad when the last bite was gone.

    Our butcher, one of New York’s finest, already carried the Wagyu beef (an American-bred Kobe style) from Snake River Farms, but not the Kurobuta ham. After we shared some of our Kurobuta with him, he became an instant fan and a wholesale client.

     

    We couldn’t be happier about that. Now, when we have a hankering for a great piece of ham, we just have to go downtown to Pino’s to pick it up.

    All you have to do is head to SnakeRiverFarms.com or phone 877.496.4220.

    And if you’re already set for Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are coming up soon! For lovers of fine food, a Kurobuta is a memorable gift.

    A final comment: Kurobuta ham isn’t a luxury: It’s a necessity!

    HAM FACTS & FUN

  • The cuts and types of ham.
  • The history of ham.
  • Ham and ham glaze recipes.
  • Ham trivia quiz #1.
  • Ham trivia quiz #2.
  •  
      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dave’s Killer Bread

    Milwaukie, Oregon, founded in 1847 on the banks of the Willamette River and now a suburb of Portland, is also known as the the birthplace of the Bing cherry. But soon, it may be known as the birthplace of Dave’s Killer Bread.

    Dave’s Killer Bread is “the best bread in the universe,” according to the company website.

    While we might add other favorite breads in the tie for “best,” Dave’s Killer Bread is up there. It’s the #1, best-selling organic bread in the U.S.

    And it is, indeed, killer: all natural, whole grain breads packed with protein, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and great flavor. Whole grain bread has never tasted better.

    The line of organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan whole grain breads began 10 years ago with Blues Bread (with blue cornmeal). You can tell how much the locals love “DKB”: That original loaf has expanded to 14 different killer breads ranging in flavor and texture, plus dinner rolls and a whole grain cinnamon roll. The line now sold nationwide.

    We tried samples of two varieties and are converts. This is the best seeded, whole grain bread we can imagine. We wouldn’t use anything else for sandwiches and toast.

       

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    Photo courtesy Yvonne | TriedAndTasty.com.

     

     

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    PowerSeed has 6g protein, 6g fiber and 500 mg omega 3 per slice. And it’s delicious! Photo courtesy Dave’s Killer Bread.

     

    A Cornucopia Of Delicious, Better-For-You Breads

  • Blues Bread, rolled in organic blue cornmeal, giving it a crunchy crust and sweet flavor. 5g protein, 4g fiber, 340mg omega 3, 130 calories per slice.
  • Good Seed, with the boldest texture and sweetest flavor of the breads. 6g protein, 4g fiber, 670mg omega 3, 130 calories per slice.
  • 100% Whole Wheat, with a smooth texture and a touch of sweetness (try it as French toast). 4g protein, 3g fiber, 90mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • Powerseed, sweetened with organic fruit juices instead of sugar, 6g protein, 6g fiber, 500 mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • Rockin’ Rye, with a seedless crust and soft texture. 6g protein, 4g fiber, 130mg omega 3, 120 calories per slice.
  • Seeded Honey Wheat, with nearly 4 tablespoons of pure organic honey packed into each loaf, the sweet taste and crunchy texture make Seeded Honey Wheat an instant favorite. 5g protein, 5g fiber, 100mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • Spelt, with a smooth texture and an earthy, nutty flavor. 5g protein, 4g fiber, 410mg omega 3, 130 calories per slice.
  • Sprouted Wheat, with bold flavor and crunchy texture. 6g protein, 4g fiber, 840mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • 21 Whole Grains and Seeds, with a hearty texture, subtle sweetness, and a seed-coated crust. 6 protein, 5g fiber, 220mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • It that’s not enough, there are:

  • Thin Slice Breads, five versions of the most popular loaves, with calories from 60-90 slice (compared to 110-130 for the regular breads).
  • Buns, dinner rolls and hamburger buns.
  • Cinnamon Roll, called Sin Dawg, a whole grain, baguette-shape treat.
  •  
    What’s in those breads? Depending on the loaf, you’ll get:

  • Whole grains: barley, blue cornmeal, brown rice, buckwheat, cracked rye, cracked whole wheat, Kamut khorasan wheat, millet, quinoa, rolled oats, rye, spelt, sorghum, triticale, whole wheat flour, yellow cornmeal
  • Seeds: amaranth, black sesame seeds, brown sesame seeds, flaxseeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, unhulled sesame seeds
  •  
    Bread lovers: Get up, go out and get some! Here’s a store locator.

    Or, order online.

    Thanks, Dave, for each delicious bite.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mushroom Salad

    You may be chomping at the bit for the first spring vegetables to arrive in the market (we’re waiting for asparagus and ramps). But until then, there is veggie excitement to be had; and we’ll be talking about them for the next two days.

    Mushrooms offer flavorful excitement, and are a cook’s delight: They absorb a lot of flavor quickly, and can be prepared in so many ways. For starters, consider:

  • Carpaccio (try this recipe from chef Claire Robinson)
  • Casseroles
  • Fried (try these portobello fries)
  • Omelets, scrambled eggs
  • Mushrooms Parmigiania, prepared like Eggplant Parmigiania
  • Quesadillas
  • Pasta dishes (add it to fettuccine, lasagna, ramen, ravioli, anything)
  • Risotto or pilaf
  • Roasted or grilled
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Sautéed alone (with red wine and fresh herbs!) or with other favorites (broccoli, spinach, turnips, whatever)
  • Sautéed with any protein (Chicken Marsala is a favorite)
  •    

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    Mushroom salad atop a bed of baby arugula. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | New York City.

  • Soup (try cream of mushroom with chunks of sautéed mushrooms)
  • Stews/ragouts
  • Stuffed, with vegetarian, cheese, meat or seafood fillings (try bacon or sausage)
  • Stuffing, savory bread pudding, savory tarts, crostini
  • Topping for grains or polenta and of course, pizza
  •  

    Today’s tip requires no cooking; that is, no heat. It’s marinated mushrooms, also known as mushroom salad: delicious as an appetizer, a side, a sandwich topper or as part of an antipasto.

    You can add other raw vegetables; we’ve provided options below.

    Marinated mushrooms can be made with any mushroom (here are the different mushroom types). Unless you’ve got deep pockets, go for the least expensive, which are typically white button mushrooms. Smaller are better, since you’ll be cutting them up.

    Of course, you an use any mushroom: cremini, oyster, portabello, shiitake or a mixture. We’ve even used enoki mushrooms for an exotic garnish.

    The only given is that the mushrooms be fresh. Those that are beginning to brown or wither are best used in a cooked dish.

     

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    Marinated mushrooms with walnut and tahini
    yogurt. Photo courtesy Collier’s Market. Here’s
    the recipe.

     

    RECIPE: RAW MUSHROOM SALAD

  • 1 8-ounce container white mushrooms (or other mushroom)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine or sherry vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh herbs (basil, chives, dill, oregano, parsley, thyme), minced (we use two different herbs)
  • Optional ingredients for color: diced red pepper or pimento, red onions, sliced green onions or chives
  • Optional ingredients for variety: broccoli or cauliflower florets, edamame, sliced olives
  • Optional heat: 1 chili, seeded and white pith removed, finely sliced
  • Baby arugula, baby spinach, mesclun, watercress or lettuce/cabbage cups
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CLEAN the mushrooms and pat dry. Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the sea salt. Toss to coat thoroughly. Let stand for about 30 minutes so the salt can remove excess water from the mushrooms. Brush any remaining salt from the mushrooms.

    2. COMBINE the marinade ingredients in a bowl: olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest, pepper and herbs. Toss the mushrooms in the marinade to coat. (We don’t add salt at this stage because of the residue salt from the mushrooms.)

    3. COVER the bowl refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

    4. SERVE as desired. We enjoy it atop a bed of greens or in a lettuce cup.

    Variation

    Try this recipe for Marinated Mushrooms with Walnut and Tahini Yogurt from Kristin Collier of the blog ColliersMarket.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Cook Fish

    Lent began yesterday, the 40-day period from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (this year on April 2nd). During Lent, observers recognize Christ’s sacrifice by giving up something pleasurable. Around the world, the most common Lenten practice is to give up meat. In the U.S., seafood sales soar during the six weeks of Lent.

    Whether you’re a lent observer, or simply want to eat more healthfully, here’s inspiration from GetFlavor.com, a magazine and website for professional chefs.

  • Baked fish: salmon wrapped in phyllo dough with dill and lemon sauce; quiche; en papillote; Salmon Wellington
  • Cured/pickled/smoked: ceviche, gravlax, pickled herring; smoked bluefish, cod, salmon, trout, tuna fillets; smoked fish pâté
  • Deep-fried fish: battered, tempura or breaded; calamari, fish and chips, fritters, nuggets, shrimp
  • Dips and spreads: pâté, taramasalata, whitefish
  • Grilled fish: whole fish or fillets; kebabs or skewers; cod, sardines, shrimp, snapper, whitefish
  •  

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    It couldn’t be easier: Pan-sautéed fish topped with a light salad. Photo courtesy Whole Foods Market.

  • Pan-fried or sautéed fish: Trout, soft-shell crab, salmon or trout patties
  • Poached fish: crab legs, salmon, shrimp cocktail, whitefish
  • Raw fish: carpaccio, sashimi, sushi, tartare, tataki
  • Roasted fish: fillets, steaks, whole fish
  • Steamed fish: fillets, steaks or whole fish; mussels, gefilte fish
  • Stews and casseroles: bisque, bouillabaisse, chowder, cioppino, curry, gumbo
  • Stir-fried and sautéed fish: Asian-style stir fry, blackened, with pasta
  • Specialty: caviar, crêpes, flan, mousse, pancakes, poke, risotto
  •  

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    You can make this nicely-plated restaurant dish. Just place grilled bass or other fish atop a bed of grains or vegetables and surround with broth or sauce. In a pinch, you can make a sauce from a can of creamed soup. Photo courtesy Chef Scott Conant.

     

    BOILING, POACHING OR STEAMING: THE DIFFERENCE

    These three related cooking techniques are both healthful and easy. Here are the nuances:

    Poaching

    Poaching is a gentle cooking method used to simmer foods in a hot, but not boiling, liquid. Water is often used as the poaching liquid but its flavor is often enhanced with broth or stock, juice, vinegar or wine.

    Typically, vegetables (carrot, celery, onion), citrus (lemon, lime, orange), herbs and/or spices are added to the liquid for additional depth of flavor. Chicken breasts, eggs, fish/seafood and fruit are good candidates for poaching.
     
    Boiling

    Boiling is more intense than poaching. Foods are cooked in rapidly bubbling liquid, most often water. Poaching is best suited to foods such as starches and vegetables that can withstand the high heat and the agitation of rapidly moving water.

    Beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower hearty greens (collards, kale, turnip greens), pasta, potatoes and rice are some of the most frequently-boiled foods.

     
    Steaming

    With this technique, foods are cooked by steam generated from boiling liquid. Water is most often used because little to no flavor is transferred to the food from the steam. Since there’s no direct contact with water, steaming retains the shape, texture and bright color (e.g., of asparagus or other vegetables and fruits) without becoming water-logged or soggy.

    Steaming also prevents vitamins and minerals from dissolving into the cooking liquid. Fruits, proteins, vegetables and even desserts—cakes, custards and puddings) can be steamed.

    For instructions on each of these techniques, visit CampbellsKitchen.com.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bai 5 Low Calorie, High Antioxidant Drink

    Bai 5 is a new addition to the “healthy drink alternatives” category, and certainly worth checking out if you’re looking for a better beverage choice. It has just five calories and one gram of sugar per serving*, and it’s packed with antioxidants.

    It’s also packed with lots of natural flavor. Unlike so many low-calorie drinks, there’s not a hint of artificial flavor.

    What there is, surprisingly, is coffee fruit, the red berries that are the fruit of the coffee tree. Coffee beans are actually the seeds of this fruit.

    The coffee fruit on its has no taste of coffee (In fact, the green seeds of the berry don’t taste like coffee until they’re roasted. Like the beans, the fruit contains caffeine. A serving of Bai 5 has 35mg of caffeine, roughly the same as a cup of green tea.

    Coffee berries are rich in antioxidants, with more than touted antioxidant fruits like blueberries, pomegranates and raspberries.

    The line is all-natural, low-glycemic, OU kosher, GMO-free, and gluten-free—not that you’d expect to find gluten, a cereal protein, in a conventional beverage; but it seems that everything these days is touted as gluten free, including olive oil, pasta sauce and other foods that have never been near gluten†.

       

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    The Bai 5 line is low in calories and high in
    natural flavor. Photo courtesy Bai.

     

     

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    One of the 10 flavors of Bai 5. Photo courtesy Bai.

     

    Flavors include Brasilia Blueberry, Congo Pear, Costa Rica Clementine, Ipanema Pomegranate, Limu Lemon, Malawi Mango, Molokai Coconut, Panama Peach, Sumatra Dragonfruit and Tanzania Lemonade Tea.

    There are also carbonated versions we have yet to taste, in Bolivia Black Cherry, Gimbi Pink Grapefruit, Guatemala Guava, Indonesia Nashi Pear, Jamaica Blood Orange, Peru Pineapple and Waikiki Coconut.

    You can turn Bai 5 into a spritzer with an equal amount of club soda, with some optional gin, tequila or vodka. But we’ll keep enjoying the refreshing fruit taste, straight and chilled.

    Discover more at DrinkBai.com.

    *Note that the 18-ounce bottle contains two servings.

    †Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, wheat and other grains: bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt and triticale, for example. Botanically, cereal refers to the entire stalk of grass—think of corn stalks or rice stalks. The grain is the edible part of the grass, e.g. the kernel.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: CedarLane Egg White Omelettes

    It’s a new year and you’ve resolved to eat better. Get started by eating a good breakfast.

    We flipped for CedarLane’s Egg White Omelettes, which go from freezer to plate in 4-1/2 microwave minutes. Eat them directly from the paper baking dish—no dish washing required.

    You’ll benefit from 18-23 g of protein (depending on the variety) and all-natural ingredients. The calories range from 230 to 300 (the latter includes turkey bacon).

    While these are egg white omelettes, made without the cholesterol-laden egg yolks, you wouldn’t know it. They both look and taste like the whole egg, conventionally yellow and very flavorful. They do, however, contain cholesterol from the cheese (and the turkey bacon), but it’s a net savings over a whole egg omelette.

       

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    A delicious omelet in 4-1/2 minutes. Photo courtesy CedarLane.

     

     

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    Each variety is delicious. Here, the popular spinach omelette. Photo courtesy CedarLane.

     

    Tender and tasty, the options include:
    The omelettes are available in four delicious flavors, so well seasoned, they don’t even need a shake of salt.

  • Garden Vegetable & Mozzarella Egg White Omelette: mozzarella cheese and a garden full of veggies—potatoes, red onions, green and red bell peppers, zucchini and tomatoes.
  • Green Chile, Cheese & Ranchero Sauce Egg White Omelette: green chiles and cheddar cheese topped with a delectable ranchero sauce. Not hot or spicy, just delicious.
  • Spinach and Mushroom Egg White Omelette: spinach, mushrooms and both mozzarella and feta cheeses.
  • Uncured Turkey Bacon, Vegetable & Cheese Egg White Omelette: turkey bacon with potatoes, bell peppers, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.
  •  

    Beyond breakfast, the omelettes are delicious for lunch or a light dinner with a big salad.

    Each individual-portion box has an SRP of $5.00. Learn more at CedarLaneFoods.com.
     
    OMELETTE VS. OMELET?

    It’s French versus British spelling. Both are correct: Omelet is easier to spell while omelette is more elegant.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spread

    Following on the heels of the burgeoning Greek yogurt market, ready-to-eat yogurt dips and spreads are finally raising their hands.

    While some people like to putter over dips and spreads, making their favorite recipe or seeing what new flavors they can add to cream cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, others like to grab and something already made. We belong to both groups, depending on how hungry we are at the moment.

    For the latter group, Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads will be welcome. The product’s stated goal is “to raise the bar in the retail cream cheese category with superior flavors, functionality and nutrition.”

    The brand differentiates itself by promoting its healthy probiotics (or “good bacteria”) and their calcium-rich yogurt spreads as “the new cream cheese.”

    It is spreadable, like cream cheese. It’s also dippable.

    Compared to the leading cream cheese (that’s you, Philadelphia), Blue Isle has nearly 40% fewer calories and fat, with only 60 calories and 6g of fat per two-tablespoon serving. Like Philadelphia, it is certified kosher by OU. The company says that Blue Isle contains 180% less sodium per serving than the leading cream cheese. Who knew cream cheese was salty?

    Blue Isle is available in savory and sweet flavors:

  • Blueberry
  • French Onion
  • Honey
  • Original
  • Spicy Vegetable
  •    

    blue-isle-yogurt-spread-stack-230

    The new spread in town, made from probiotic Greek yogurt. Photo courtesy Karoun Dairies.

     

    In its debut year, Blue Isle Original won the 1st Place award from the American Cheese Society in the Labneh, Greek Style Yogurt, and Other Strained Yogurt Products category. It is made by family-owned Karoun Dairies.

     

    blue-isle-yogurt-spread-crudites-230

    While developed as a spread, Blue Isle is easily dippable. Photo courtesy Karoun Dairies.

     

    We enjoyed all of the flavors, alternately spreading them on bagels and using them to dip crudités. The sweet and savory flavors—a opposed to the plain Original—were equally beguiling. We look forward to experimenting with canapés and dessert canapes (using our Stackable Appetizer Maker device, loaf cakes with Honey Blue Isle and raspberry jam were a good start).

    Made from rBST-free California milk, you can:

  • Spread it on bagels, flatbread and toast
  • Blend it into deviled eggs and mashed potatoes
  • Thicken or garnish soup
  • Use it as a sandwich condiment
  •  

    The line is available at better supermarkets and natural food stores nationwide (partial list: Central Market, Fiesta Mart, Fred Meyer, The Fresh Market, Harmon’s, H-E-B, Jon’s Marketplace, Lucky’s, Mollie Stones, New Seasons, QFC, Strack and Van Til).

    The suggested retail price is $3.29 for an 8-ounce tub.

    Discover more at BlueIsleSpread.com.

     

      

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