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TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Salad With Fresh Cheese

Fruit Salad With Halloumi Cheese

Fruit Salad With Goat Cheese

Fruit Salad With Goat Cheese

[1] Watermelon and zucchini with grilled halloumi cheese. [2] Watermelon and strawberry salad with fresh goat cheese. [3] Fresh stone salad with feta. Photos courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

 

Make fruit salad even more delicious: Serve it with cheese.

Fruit and cheese are an ancient tradition. Today’s tip is for fruit salad with fresh cheese.
 
WHAT IS FRESH CHEESE?
 
Fresh cheese is aged for a few days or not at all. Ranging from creamy and spreadable (fromage blanc, ricotta), to soft and pliable (halloumi) to crumbly (goat cheese), if has no rind, which develops during the aging process.

During the cheesemaking process, the milk for fresh cheese is “ripened” with starter cultures, bacteria that convert the milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid. This enables the milk to thicken.

Rennet is then added to further thicken the milk and create curds, rennet is then added . Once curds form, the liquid (whey) is drained away and what remains is turned into cheese.
Some suggestions from Murray’s Cheese, our favorite purveyor of great cheeses from the U.S. and around the world:

  • Milky: fresh goat cheese or ricotta
  • Grilled: Halloumi, grilled and paired with watermelon and cherry tomatoes on the vine.
  • Sweet & salty: feta with watermelon and oranges or stone fruits.
  • Fresh cheeses include:

  • Cheese curds
  • Cotija
  • Cottage cheese/pot cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Farmer cheese
  • Fromage blanc
  • Goat cheese (chèvre)
  • Mozzarella
  • Oaxaca
  • Panela
  • Paneer
  • Quark
  • Queso fresco
  •  
    We’ll add two slightly aged cheeses to the mix:

  • Feta, a Greek cheese that is brined and lightly aged
  • Halloumi, a Greek cheese that can be unaged or aged, and holds its shape when grilled or fried
  •  
    The difference between cheese and other cultured milk products like sour cream and yogurt is rennet.

    Cheese is defined as made from curds, and rennet precipitates the curds from milk.

    Thus, while products like fromage blanc, quark and queso fresco look like sour cream and yogurt, the former are made with rennet. You may not be able to see the curds, but they’re there.

     
    READY TO MIX & MATCH?

    Any fruits will do, but pick the best of summer: berries, melons, stone fruits and/or tropical fruits.

    Pick up whatever looks best at the market, make fruit salad and serve it with a fresh cheese.

    Even better: Provide a plate of different cheeses and let guests add whatever they like.

    Whether for dessert, snack, or other course, consider serving the fruit salad and cheese with:

  • Flatbread (from Middle Eastern like lavash to Swedish flatbread like Wasa)
  • French croutons (toasted thin slices of baguette or ficelle)
  • Fruit bread (such as raisin bread) or cornbread
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Summer Squash Chips (Zucchini & Yellow Squash)

    Summer squash—zucchini and yellow squash—are available year-round, but are never more affordable than now.

    In addition to your other favorite summer squash recipes*, make lots of squash chips for low-calorie nibbling. They’re also great to serve with beer, cocktails and wine, and as garnishes.

    But start with a small batch. Try the chips plain and with different seasonings (cayenne? curry? garlic?). If you’re using a dehydrator or microwave, just divide the batch.

    Make your first batch at 1/8″ thick. The thinner the chips, the crisper they are.
     
    USE A DEHYDRATOR, MICROWAVE OR ACTIFRY

    If you have a dehydrator, you know what to do.

    You can also bake chips in the oven.

    We have no space for a dehydrator, but for the past five years we’ve been devoted to Mastrad’s microwave chip maker. Chips are ready in just 3-5 minutes.

    Here’s more about microwave chips, and where to get the Mastrad chip trays. We say trays, rather than tray, because they’re sold in a set of two, and we bought a second set. They’re made to stack.

    Thanks to Willow Moon of CreateMindfully.com for the recipe.

    RECIPE: SALT & VINEGAR ZUCCHINI CHIPS

    Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow squash or zucchini, washed and peeled if desired
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (omit if using another seasoning)
  • Salt to taste (regular or flavored)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the squash to 1/8-thick, preferably with a mandoline slicer. Toss them with the olive oil, vinegar and salt, to coat thoroughly.
     
    OVEN VARIATION

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F/190°C). Place the coated zucchini slices on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
     
    DEHYDRATOR VARIATION

    1. PLACE the coated squash slices on Teflon sheets on the dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 110° for 12 hours or until crisp.

     

    Squash Chips

    Zebra Zucchini

    Mastrad Microwave Chip Maker

    [1] Yellow squash chips (photo courtesy CreateMindfully.com. [2] Just slice and season (photo of zebra squash courtesy Burpee.com). [3] The Mastrad microwave chip maker.

     
    ACTIFRY VARIATION

    1. PLACE the olive oil and sliced parsnips in the ActiFry and cook for 35 minutes, or until brown and crisp.

    Here’s more about the Actifry, which comes in basic and deluxe models.
     
    IN ADDITION TO SQUASH CHIPS, TRY THESE VEGETABLE CHIPS

  • Cabbage Chips
  • Cinnamon Apple Chips
  • Microwave Kale Chips
  • Parsnip Chips
  •  
    These recipes may specify a particular technique, but you can slice any root vegetable and use any of the techniques above. You can also use a broad spectrum of veggies (fruits, too). Our colleague Laura makes jalapeño chips (tip: look for very large jalapeños).
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SQUASH
     
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    *Our favorite is fried zucchini, but our favorite low-calorie zucchini dish is Steamed Microwave Zucchini Parmesan. Cut slices to desired thickness and team the zucchini (or yellow squash, or mixed) to al dente; you can salt them or not. Top with pasta sauce, mozzarella and a sprinkle of oregano. To save even more calories, hold the mozzarella and sprinkle with a smaller amount of grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Beer & Pretzel Hot Dog Buns

    Pretzel Hot Dog Rolls Recipe

    Split the roll, add the hot dog and bite! Photo of pretzel hot dog rolls courtesy DomesticGothess.com.

     

    Want to be the hostess with the hostess or the host with the most?

    Want to give friends and family a memorable hot dog experience?

    Want to bring the best gift to a cookout?

    Follow the path of the Domestic Gothess, who turned soft pretzel dough into hot dog buns. “They are surprisingly easy to make.” says the Gothess.

    Yes, you can buy pretzel rolls at some stores, but these have much more pretzel flavor. They can also be used as sandwich rolls.

    Don’t want beer in your bread? Just substitute water for the beer, like conventional soft pretzels.

    Here’s the recipe. Ready, set, bake!

    July is National Hot Dog Month!

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Coconut Bowls

    According to Chalkboard Magazine, a food trend this summer is Coconut Bowls: coconut halves filled with grains, fruits and/or vegetables. The concept was developed by Amazing Bowls, a Los Angeles food truck.
     
    WHAT TO SERVE IN COCONUT BOWLS
    We’ve been playing with the concept, and have used the bowls for a memorable presentation of conventional foods:

  • Breakfast/Brunch: Cereal, cottage cheese, fruit and/or yogurt
  • Lunch: Asian chicken/shrimp salad
  • Cocktails: Mai Tai, Piña Colada, Planters Punch and other tiki bar specials
  • Dinner Entrée: Curry: chicken, fish, lamb or vegetable
  • Soup: Indian (such as Mulligatawny), Thai (such as Tom Kha Gai) and Western cream of vegetable soups, from broccoli to vichyssoise
  • Dessert: Conventional fruit salad with sorbet or frozen yogurt, exotic* fruit salad, coconut ice cream, sorbet or pudding
  •  
    CREATE A DIY COCONUT BOWL BAR

    For a gathering, set out the coconut halves with the fillings. Aim for a rainbow of colors, from:

  • Cooked grains
  • Dried fruits (raisins, cherries, blueberries)
  • Edible flowers and/or shredded fresh basil for garnish
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Granola
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butters (almond, peanut, etc.)
  • Poached fish or seafood
  • Salads: Asian noodles (with or without chicken or seafood), avocado and citrus, chicken with pineapple and Greek worked for us
  • Shredded/grated dried coconut
  • Yogurt, plain and flavored
  • Anything else that works for you
  •    

    Coconut Bowls

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    [1] Too pretty to eat…almost (photo courtesy Chalkboard Magazine). [2] Crack open the coconuts with a heavy kitchen knife (photo courtesy HomeGrownCollective.com).

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    *Exotic fruits you can find in the U.S. include Asian pear, cactus pear, cherimoya, dragonfruit, gooseberry, kiwi, lychee, mango, mangosteen, passionfruit, prickly pear, rambutan and starfruit, among others.
     
    COCONUT 101

    All coconuts come from the same tree, the coconut palm tree (Cocos nucifera). It’s a member of the Arecaceae family, the Palm Family.

    The coconut is not a nut, but a fruit—a drupe, along with stone fruits.

  • Green coconuts are filled with coconut water (a.k.a. juice) and the meat is soft, translucent and scoopable. The off-white coconuts you can purchase, to drink the coconut water, have been carved to remove the green skin.
  • Mature coconuts are covered with a dried brown husk. There is less coconut water and the coconut meat is firm and an opaque white color.
  • Coconut milk is not the liquid inside the mature coconut. Coconut milk and coconut cream are made from pressing the coconut meat. Commercial coconut milk is thinned with water.
  •  

    Tropical Shrimp Salad

    Yogurt Coconut Bowl

     

    RECIPE: COCONUT BOWLS

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 whole coconut
  • Food of choice (see the list above)
  •  
    TO MAKE A COCONUT BOWL

    1. PUNCTURE a small hole into one or two of the coconut eyes with an ice pick. Drain the coconut water into a container and refrigerate for another use.

    2. HOLD the coconut in your palm and rotate as you use the blunt side of a heavy kitchen knife to tap firmly along the midsection (the “waist”).

    3. CONTINUE to rotate and tap until a crack appears. After a few more rotations and taps, the coconut should break into two equal halves.

    4. WRAP and freeze the coconut bowls if you won’t be using them immediately, so the meat doesn’t dry out. You can serve cold foods in frozen bowls; they’ll defrost slowly while keeping the drink, ice cream, etc. cold.
     
    PHOTOS: [1] Rice noodles topped with shrimp, pineapple chunks and Chow Mein noodles. [2] A dessert bowl with strawberry yogurt and Oreo pieces (photos courtesy Alex Jollie | Britco.

     
    WHAT TO DO WITH THE COCONUT SHELLS?

    Check out how our colleague, Hannah Kaminsky, turned hers into beautiful bowls.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red, White & Blue Ice Cubes For July 4th

    Here’s an easy way to turn any cold drink into a July 4th drink: red, white (clear) and blue ice cubes.

    You don’t have to purchase special star-shaped ice cubes trays, but they add to the fun. You can use whatever trays you have.

    You can color ice for any occasion. McCormick even makes black ice cubes for Halloween! Ideas:

  • Orange and black ice cubes for Halloween
  • Fall leaf colors for Thanksgiving
  • Blue and white ice for Chanukah
  • Red and green ice for Christmas
  • Red and pink ice for Valentine’s Day
  • Green ice for St. Patrick’s Day
  •  
    Yes, we do feel a bit silly providing the recipe for ice…but here it is:

    RECIPE: COLORED ICE CUBES

    Ingredients

  • Ice cube trays
  • Water
  • Food colors
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE one color at a time. First, measure the amount of water your ice cube tray holds. Fill the tray and pour the wanter into a glass measuring cup.

    2. USE food color to tint the water to the desired color. Pour it into the ice cube tray(s) and freeze.

    3. REMOVE the frozen ice to a storage bag, and repeat until you have the amount of ice that you need.
     
    OTHER WAYS TO COLOR YOUR ICE

  • ADD colored fruit to conventional ice: raspberries and blueberries for July 4th, cranberries and rosemary sprigs for Christmas, strawberries, raspberries and/or pomegranate arils for Valentine’s Day, and so forth.
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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/red white blue jello ice cubes in glassshakentogetherlife 230

    Colored Ice Cubes

    Ice Cubes

    [1] Color your cubes for July 4th (photo courtesy MeetTheDubiens.com. [2] Three colors, one cube (photo courtesy OneMartiniAtATime.com). [3] You can make ice in any color (photo courtesy GlassShakenTogetherLife.com).

     

  • FREEZE the fruits, herbs or vegetables without the surrounding ice (i.e., just freeze the strawberries or use frozen strawberries, sliced peaches, etc.).
  • LAYER each ice cube with the colors. First freeze 1/2 or 1/3 of the individual cubes with one color; then add the second color. If you have the desire but not the patience, delegate the task to the kids.
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