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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 Uncategorized

COOKING VIDEO: How To Make Strawberry Steak Salad For Valentine’s Day


For lunch or a light dinner on Valentine’s Day, try this Strawberry Steak Salad.

Sliced fresh strawberries, which look like little red hearts, unite with grilled skirt steak, a spring mix salad, avocado, mascarpone cheese, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers in a blush wine or raspberry vinaigrette.

A lighter dinner gives you more room for desserts and chocolate!



  • Ratchet up the heat with a Thai Beef Salad.
  • Leg Of Lamb Salad with watercress and fennel in a Dijon vinaigrette.
  • More of our favorite salad recipes.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sifted Flour

    Baking up a storm? Pay close attention to the flour specifications.

    It’s important to note that in a recipe, “sifted flour” is not the same as “flour, sifted.”

    In the first instance, you sift the flour, than measure out what you need. In the second, you measure out what you need, then sift it.

    Baking is chemistry: slight deviations can create disappointing results.

    Don’t pack flour into a measuring cup: You can end up with 20% more flour than intended. Instead, use a measuring cup that is exactly one cup to the brim. Fill to overflowing with a scoop or spoon, then level it off with a knife.


    Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

    And be sure to use the right flour. The wrong type of flour (or too much flour) can result in a tough, dry product. Too little flour can cause a cake to collapse.

    Put your baker’s thinking cap on and you’ll be fine.

    Thanks to Chef Louis Eguaras for this tip.


    TIP OF THE DAY: More Uses For Squash

    Now that we’re into winter squash season, expand your use of squash beyond a dinner vegetable. Squash can be sauteed, steamed, oven roasted, grilled, mashed, puréed and made into soup.

    But don’t overlook savory or sweet squash soufflé and squash pie (pumpkin is a squash, but you can make pies with butternut squash and other varieties). Add squash to stews and casseroles. Season it with your favorite spices (we like nutmeg and cinnamon) and fresh herbs. Make squash fries (like sweet potato fries).

    Acorn and butternut squash are delicious vegetables that also can be puréed into a dip or hors d’oeuvre.

    1. Bake or steam a 2-pound squash.
    2. Place the flesh in a food processor with 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon orange rind and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Blend on high for one minute or until smooth.
    3. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.


    Autumn Comfort Mac & Cheese incorporates
    butternut squash, pancetta, cavatappi and a
    variety of cheeses. Photo courtesy Tillamook Cheese.

    4. Spoon or pipe into vegetable chips (Terra Chips are excellent), potato chips or mushroom caps; or serve with crudités.

    Try these squash recipes, too:

  • Autumn Comfort Mac & Cheese
  • Butternut Squash Gratin
  • Cream Of Winter Squash Soup
  • Maple-Glazed Leg Of Lamb With Butternut Squash Purée
  • Dessert Recipes

  • Butternut Squash Dessert Ravioli With Maple Syrup, Pears, Apples & Walnuts
  • Butternut Squash Soufflé (a lighter version of pumpkin pie)
  • Check out our Squash Glossary, THE NIBBLE’s most popular article.




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    TIP OF THE DAY: Avocado Recipes From Breakfast Through Dessert

    How cool is Avocado Jell-O? Photo
    courtesy Avocados From Mexico.


    The popularity of guacamole suggests that most of us really like avocados.

    We like them so much, we eat a half at breakfast or lunch, straight from the skin. Sometimes we’ll sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar. But just like any fruit, avocados are delicious as is.

    But limiting our intake to guacamole and salads, we weren’t taking full advantage of the fruit.

    So we browsed through the recipe section of and discovered scores of recipe ideas—from Avocado Jell-O to Avocado Caprese Salad.

    As good as a regular Caprese salad may be—slices of tomato and mozzarella plus fresh basil—it’s even better with slices of avocado added to the recipe.

    Tonight, we’re making the Layered Guacamole Dip with roasted garlic hummus, sour cream and chopped cherry tomatoes. Maybe we’ll try the Avocado Margarita with it.

    There’s also an Avocado Pie!

    Expand your repertoire of avocado dishes. Check out the appetizers, beverages, breakfast recipes, desserts, dips, mains, salads, sandwiches and wraps and soups.

  • Find more recipes on the Avocados From Mexico website.
  • Check out our selection of avocado recipes, which includes the health benefits of avocado and shopping tips.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Reinvented Veggies


    Cold asparagus in vinaigrette with
    mushrooms and Parmesan cheese. Photo
    courtesy California Asparagus Commission.


    Instead of reheating leftover vegetables and serving them as “leftovers,” reinvent them as a cold salad.

    No matter what the vegetable, you can toss it with a little olive oil and some vinegar or a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. If you can combine more than one vegetable, so much the better. Variety is the spice of life!

    Speaking of spice, add any fresh herbs you may have at hand, or peruse the spice cabinet for red pepper flakes, sesame seeds and other favorites.

    Add a bit of chopped green onion or whatever else is in the fridge. If you there’s an apple or orange, chop it and add it, or garnish with nuts, raisins or other dried fruits.

    Got cheese? Sprinkle some on.

    No one will think they’re getting “leftovers.”

    Find more vegetable ideas in our Gourmet Vegetables section.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavored Mustards


    Task of the week: Find two new uses for
    mustard. Photo courtesy Anton Kozlik’s Mustards.


    Flavored mustards can transform a dish, adding intense notes of basil, lemon, tarragon and even Roquefort to sandwiches, potato, tuna and egg salads, vinaigrettes, dips, meats, vegetables and more.

    Think of classic Dijon as “basic vanilla” and start to expand your mustard horizons. Visit any specialty food store and cruise the mustard shelf.

    As a bonus, mustard is extremely low in calories (except for sweet mustards like honey mustard). So see how many new uses you can find for mustard: Look for one new idea each week.

    By the way, our very low calorie or low-glycemic work-around for honey mustard: Sweeten plain Dijon mustard with your favorite non-caloric sweetener or with agave nectar.

    See the many different types of mustard in our Mustard Glossary.


    ENTERTAINING: Have A Film Party For “Food Inc.” on April 21st

    How much do we know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families?

    Though our food appears the same as it did to our grandparents—a tomato still looks like a tomato—it has been radically transformed, and not for the better. See for yourself in the eye-opening documentary, Food, Inc., which will be shown on PBS on Wednesday evening, April 21 (check local listings for time). The film is presented by POV, the award-winning series that features the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers.

    In Food Inc., producer-director Robert Kenner and investigative authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma and his latest, a must-read, In Defense Of Food) lift the veil on the American food industry, revealing distressing facts about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation (thanks to big corporations and their lobbyists) and where we may go from here.

    Invite your family and friends over for a potluck dinner (we suggest a buffet). Then watch Food, Inc. and discuss the many issues it raises.



    Be sure to watch Food Inc. You’ll never
    look at food the same way again.

    Visit the POV website from April 22 to May 3 to get planning tips and recipes and enter for a variety of gifts.

    The film will also be streaming online in its entirety for one week after the broadcast, from April 22nd to April 29th. The Food, Inc. DVD is also on sale (just $9.99 at

  • If you’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, get a copy of the book, Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It.
  • Send a copy of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma For Kids to help the children in your life understand the issues and make better choices.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Multi-Tasking Parmigiano


    Checking the quality of an aging wheel of
    Parmigiano-Reggiano. Photo courtesy


    Parmigiano-Reggiano is more than a great cheese for pasta, pesto, risotto and Alfredo sauce.

    Shave it onto salads, eggs and sandwiches. Add it to cheese plates. Enjoy it with a glass of hearty red wine.

    It loves to be paired with apples, figs, grapes, kiwi, peaches, pears and walnuts. Italians enjoy it for dessert, drizzled with a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar. Guests love large chunks of the cheese with a variety of dipping sauces—like pesto, garlicky tomato sauce, olive tapenade, parsley sauce and fruit chutney—on individual plates, or on a communal plate of skewers.

  • Learn more about this great cheese.
  • Here’s the difference between Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, Grana Padano and Pecorino Romano, the great Italian grating cheeses.
  • What’s the difference between Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan?

    Anyone, anywhere can make and sell a cheese called “Parmesan.” They follow a basic recipe and are under obligation to nobody to adhere to any standards, including aging it until full flavors develop.

    Parmigiano-Reggiano, on the other hand, is D.O.P. name-protected (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta). This is a legal protection for the consumer that guarantees that you are buying an authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, made by a trained artisan to exacting specification, produced in a specific geographical area, from milk from specific herds of animals raised in the same area, using techniques honed for centuries. Even the feed of the cows is dictated.

    All of this activity is strictly supervised by a consortium (“consorzio”) that ensures that every wheel stamped with the official seal tastes exactly as it should.

    After 12 months of aging (the minimum), each wheel is inspected and sometimes, if other tests for flaws fail, a thin probe will be inserted to draw out a small piece of the interior core (see photo). If the cheese does not pass, the exclusive pin-dot pattern on the sides is scraped off. The cheese can be sold as cheese for grating, but not as Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    Why are the words, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan, capitalized? Because they refer to the city of Parma in Italy, the center of making this great cheese.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Rock The Rice


    Rice with saffron, scallion and sausage bits.
    Photo courtesy National Pork Board.


    You can serve rice a different way each day of the month and never run out of ideas.

    Think of it this way: on Mondays mix a different fresh herb into the rice. On Tuesdays cook it in a different tea, or add bits of leftover meat, fish, veggies and/or green onion (think Chinese fried rice). On Wednesdays mix in a different salsa or chutney. On Thursdays try a different spice. On Fridays stir in a different dried fruit.

    On Saturdays, choose a different type of gourmet rice—arborio, California mochi, Indian basmati, black rice, Bhutanese red rice, brown long grain, Thai jasmine, japonica, kalijira, wild rice (which isn’t a botanical rice, but a seed).

    On Sundays, dress up the rice with nuts or a fruit-and-nut mix (fresh or dried fruit: raisins or dried cherries, for example).

    We love rockin’ the rice!

    You can also reward yourself every now and then with a delicious rice pudding—made from whatever rice you like!

  • See our Rice Glossary for a wealth of rice information.
  • Find rice recipes in our Rice, Beans & Grains section.
  • Comments

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