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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.

RECIPE: Chipotle Meatballs

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, how about Mexican-style meatballs?

Meatballs in Chipotle Chile Sauce with Wisconsin Queso Fresco Cheese. Make them small for an appetizer, or bigger for a main course. Serve them with rice and pinto or black beans; or make a Cinco de Mayo meatball sub.

This recipe serves four 4 as main course, 10-12 as appetizers.

RECIPE: MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE CHILE SAUCE

Ingredients

For The Meatballs

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 cup Wisconsin Cotija or Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 large white onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  •    

    chipotle-meatballs-wmmb-230

    Chipotle meatballs. Photo courtesy WisDairy.com.

  • 2 slices coarse white bread, crust removed and soaked in 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) chipotle salsa
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 sprig mint (or pinch ground dried mint)
  • 1 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Garnish: cilantro, mint and queso fresco, as desired.
  •  

    queso-fresco-cut-230

    Queso fresco, made in Wisconsin—America’s largest cheese-producing state. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the meatball ingredients in bowl, using your hands. Refrigerate for one hour.

    2. SHAPE the meatballs in the desired size: larger for main course, smaller for appetizer.

    3. MAKE the sauce: Add the cinnamon to the chile salsa. Heat oil until quite hot (but not smoking) in a heavy, deep skillet. Add the salsa and “fry” until thick (it will splatter; consider a splatter screen).

    4. ADD the broth and bring to boil. Stir in the mint. Add the meatballs. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are done.

    5. GARNISH each serving with crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and additional mint, asdesired.
     
    WHAT IS QUESO FRESCO

    Queso fresco is one of the most commonly-used cheeses for cooking in Latin America. It’s a soft, mild cheese similar to ricotta in that it’s made from curds. Cultures and rennet are added to pasteurized milk to create the curds, which are scooped into molds, then drained briefly.

     

    The resulting queso fresco is crumbly, with a mild and salty flavor and a slightly “grainy” texture. It is often sprinkled over foods, and when heated, it will melt.

    Queso fresco is most often used crumbled, as a topping for everything from salads to soups to enchiladas, and is melted in quesadillas and casseroles.

    Queso fresco should not be confused with queso blanco fresco, although the latter is similar. Queso blanco fresco is a fresh cheese that is made by direct acidification (not cultures and rennet) and pressed into blocks. It consequently has a firm texture and softens but does not melt: It can be sliced for pan-frying.

    The different types of Hispanic cheeses.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: A Camera Lens Mug

    Here’s a special gift for a mom, dad or grad who’s into photography: This camera lens is actually a mug!

    Totally detailed, it looks and feels like the real thing and holds a hefty 15 ounces of beverage. The lens cap sip top doubles as a coaster or a dish for nibbles.

    A stainless steel lining keeps beverages warm longer (like a thermos), and the screw top lid (the lens cap) provides spill-free transporting. The lid’s sip-top slides and locks to prevent spills.

    The Camera Lens Travel Mug is $29.95 at WhatOnEarthCatalog.com.

    We promise: Everyone will ask where you got it.

     

    camera-lens-mug-whatonearthcatalog-230s

    Drink from the camera lens—it’s a mug! Photo courtesy What On Earth Catalog..

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Layer Cake

    chocolate-layer-chocolate-pearls-sweetstreetdesserts-230

    You can make this at home, topped with Callebaut Crispearls. Photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts.

     

    Nothing says love like a homemade cake: for birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day, graduation or or other special occasion. Whether you use a cake mix or measure from scratch, it’s fun to bake a cake.

    And it’s very much appreciated by the honoree. Our friend Beth’s children, ages 7 and 10, know enough to appreciate mom’s homemade birthday cakes to store-bought options.

    Over the years, many people have asked our opinion on cake mixes. Here it is:

    Essentially, a cake mix saves you the time and mess of measuring the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, etc. It also includes the flavorings—vanilla, orange, whatever. People who don’t like measuring should reach for the box.

    What we personally don’t like is using oil instead of butter. Others may not notice; but if it doesn’t taste buttery, we don’t want to spend our cake and cookie calories.

     
    And of course, a from-scratch recipe that’s enhanced with buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, fresh citrus juice or zest, and so on will be better tasting.

    CAKE MIX YES, CANNED FROSTNG NO!

    We totally avoid the canned frostings most people buy to go along with a cake mix. To borrow a line from Snapple, most canned frosting is not made from “the best stuff on Earth.” Here are the ingredients to Betty Crocker’s Rich & Creamy Vanilla Frosting:

    Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Water, Wheat Starch, High Maltose Corn Syrup, Contain 1% or Less of Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, Colored with Artificial Color, Yellows 5 & 6, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Nonfat Milk, Freshness Preserved by Potassium Sorbate

    Why eat cottonseed oil and corn syrup, when in 10 minutes you can make real buttercream, which tastes great?

    All you need is a stick of butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 ounces chocolate or 1 teaspoon instant coffee. Just blend them together and ice away. The toughest part is waiting for the butter to soften!

    Here’s the full recipe.

     

    IT’S EASY TO DECORATE

    A special occasion deserves a festive garnish. You can turn a homemade or store-bought layer cake into something special with a simple sprinkle of edible cake decorations.

    In addition to chocolate chips (or other flavors), homemade chocolate curls (scrape a chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler), coconut and candies, there are:

  • Bright-colored or pastel confetti
  • Callebaut Crispirls, chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate
  • Dragées in single colors, multicolor “Harlequin,” gold and silver
  • Gold glitter stars
  • Sugar pearls, in white, pastels, multicolor and metallics
  • White pearl shimmers
  •  
    If you live near a baking supplies store, go browsing. Otherwise, browse online until you find your ideal decorations.

     

    harlequin-dragees-culpitt-amz-230

    Sprinkle festive decorations atop your cake. Photo courtesy Wilton.

     

    Here’s an article about the different types of cake decorations.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Maille Mustard Collection

    maille-4-jar-gift-box-230L

    A gourmet gift for a mustard lover. Photo
    courtesy Maille.

     

    A Maille mustard boutique opened near us recently. If you love mustard, make it a destination stop when you visit Dijon, London, Melbourne, New York, Paris or Sydney.

    They are meccas for lovers of fine mustard, as well as gherkins, vinegars and vinaigrettes. The thrill: tasting some 20 different mustards, all so delicious from the spoon that we could have devoured an entire jar.

    Established in 1747 in Paris, Maille (pronounced MY), still a family business, is known worldwide for its sublime mustards and vinegars. From the outset, the company supplied the kings of France and other monarchs, including England and Russia.

    The brown mustard seeds are grown in the heart of Burgundy, and most of the mustards are made with white wine. Some are smooth, some are whole grain (delightfully chewy!).

    Each year, the product team explores new combinations of ingredients that achieve a complex taste profile and trending flavors.

    There are more than 30 mustard flavors, some seasonal specialties. You can purchase them individually or in preset gift boxes of four, six and nine varieties. The website currently sells:

  • Apricots And Curry Spices
  • Basil
  • Black Olive
  • Black Truffle
  • Blue Cheese
  • Candied Orange Peel And Ginger
  • Celeriac, Black Truffle
  • Chablis Mustard
  • Cognac
  • Dijon Blackcurrant Liqueur
  • Fig And Coriander
  • Fine Herbs
  • Gingerbread And Chestnut Honey
  • Hazenuts And Black Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Lemon And Garlic
  • Honey
  • Honey And Balsamic Vinegar
  • Lemon And Harissa
  • Mango And Thai Spices
  • Morel Mushroom And Chablis
  •  

  • Parmesan Cheese And Basil
  • Pesto and Arugula
  • Pistachio And Orange
  • Pleurote and Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Prune And Armagnac
  • Red Pepper And Garlic
  • Roasted Onions And Wild Thyme
  • Saffron And Crème Fraîche
  • Sauternes
  • Shallots, Chervil And Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Sun-dried Tomato And Espelette Pepper
  • Walnuts
  • White Wine Mustard
  • Wholegrain Chardonnay Mustard
  •  

    tasting-bar-230

    Grab a [disposable] spoon and dig in at the tasting bar. Photo courtesy Maille.

     
    After tasting the 15 or so mustards on the bar, it was hard to pick a favorite; but that day, it was Fig And Coriander, a whole grain mustard.

    Find all of the mustards online at Maille.com.

     
    MUSTARD GIFTS

    A special four jar mustard gift set in an elegant black box includes Dijon Blackcurrant, Morel Mushroom, Saffron and Isigny Crème Fraiche, and Cognac($40). Individual jars also are packaged in a black box.

    The boutiques also have six- and nine-jar sets, not yet on the website.

    If you get to a boutique location, you’ll be charmed by the mustards on tap. Served from old-fashioned ceramic pumps, a choice of three basic mustards and one seasonal specialty draws mustard into old-style stoneware jars with sealed with cork stoppers. Fans buy mustard by the jar and get frequent refills.

    If you’ve never thought mustard could be magical, head to Maille boutique. You’ll be hooked—and will have an ongoing choice of gifts for your foodie friends to use on everything from sandwiches to elegant recipes, of which there’s a selection on the website.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: National Shrimp Scampi Day

    scampi-epicureanbutter-230

    Shrimp Scampi, in garlic lemon butter. Photo courtesy Epicurean butter.

     

    Today is National Shrimp Scampi Day. In our youth, it was one of the most popular recipes at Italian restaurants, often served atop a plate of linguine.

    The recipe can be quite simple: shrimp sautéed in garlic lemon butter. This recipe is a bit more elaborate, adding a topping of Parmesan and bread crumbs. Feel free to use the simpler version, and eliminate the cheese, bread crumbs and the broiler.

    Prep time, including the broiled topping, is 20 minutes. Serve with a light-bodied white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

    RECIPE: SHRIMP SCAMPI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or tarragon
  • 1 box angel hair, linguine or other ribbon pasta†
  •  
    *If you prefer the dish without the broiled topping, omit these ingredients.
     
    †Instead of pasta, you can serve the dish with rice or other grain, or with a side of mixed vegetables.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to package instructions.

    2. SAUTÉ the garlic in the butter and oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, until fragrant. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, pepper and oregano; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with cheese, bread crumbs and parsley.

    3. MOVE the skillet to the broiler, 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

    4. SERVE atop the pasta.
     
    WHY IS IT CALLED SHRIMP SCAMPI?

    If you know Italian, you know that the word for shrimp is scampi. So why is the dish called, essentially, Shrimp Shrimp?

    According to Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,” in Italy scampi are actually langoustines, small, lobster-like crustaceans with pale pink shells. In Italy, they are popularly sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion and white wine.

     

    SONY DSC

    Shrimp Scampi. Photo courtesy Babble.com.

     

    Italian-American cooks substituted the available equivalent, shrimp, but kept both names, ostensibly to indicate that the dish was made from shrimp, not langoustine.

    This recipe was adapted from Taste Of Home.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mexican Fiesta Won Tons

    fiesta-won-tons-davidvenableQVC-230

    Some fusion fare from QVC’s David Venable.

     

    Here’s some fusion food for Cinco de Mayo from QVC’s Chef David Venable. You can make the wontons ahead of time and freeze them until you’re ready to fry and serve.

    “These little wontons are such a unique way to incorporate all those Tex-Mex flavors you love in one cute package,” says David. “Cheesy, gooey and tangy, they’re the perfect treats to go with your Margaritas.”

    David’s fusion is to serve a queso dipping sauce with the crunchy Chinese fried wontons.

    RECIPE: MEXICAN FIESTA WONTONS

    Ingredients For The Wontons

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup canned green chiles, diced
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce
  • 22-24 wonton wrappers
  •  
    For The Cheese Dipping Sauce

  • 1 can petite (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with sweet onions, well drained
  • 1/4 cup canned green chilies, diced
  • 1 package (16 ounces) Velveeta cheese, chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 cup Corona beer
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the wontons: Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Place the ground beef into the pan, sprinkle with the salt and cook until no longer pink, about 5–7 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan, drain any excess fat and place into a bowl. Set aside.

    2. ADD the other teaspoon of oil to the pan; then add the onions, peppers and chiles, and cook until tender, about 3–4 minutes. Place the meat back into the pan with the cooked vegetables and add the enchilada sauce. Cook for 2 more minutes, or until the sauce is fully absorbed. Scoop the mixture into a bowl. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

    3. ASSEMBLE the wontons: Brush the edges of each wrapper with water, and one by one, place 1 tablespoon of the meat filling into each. Fold the wonton in half to form a triangle and seal the edges. Brush the tips of the triangles with a little more water to join them together, and press to bind. Freeze the stuffed wontons until you’re ready to fry.

    4. PREPARE the cheese sauce: Place the petite diced tomatoes and chopped chiles into a 3-quart sauce pot and cook over medium heat for 3–5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the chopped Velveeta cheese, enchilada sauce and beer and cook, constantly stirring, until the cheese is completely melted. Place the dip into a warm serving vessel and serve. When ready to serve…

    5. PREHEAT a deep fryer to 350°F. Place the wontons into the deep fryer in batches and cook for 4–5 minutes, flipping them halfway through, until golden brown.

     
    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cava Instead Of Champagne

    You may be thinking ahead to purchasing champagne for Mother’s Day. But you can save a lot of money with Cava, instead.

    Cava, the renowned Spanish sparkling wine, is produced in the region of Penedès, in northeast Spain, south of Barcelona.

    In the late 1800s, a Spanish vintner, Josep Raventós Fatjó of the Codorníu estate, decided to experiment with making sparkling wine, using the méthode champenoise of champagne production. His first batch was produced in 1872.

    He then had a cool cellar, or cava, dug to produce more sparkling wine. It turned out to be an instant success, particularly among the wealthy. Soon, his sparkling was being drunk by the Spanish royal family.

    Other local vintners followed, and today, in addition to the two heavyweights Codorníu (cor-doan-YOU) and Freixenet (FRESH-eh-net), there are hundreds of sparkling wine producers in Penedés.

       

    freixenet-cordon-negro-w-glasses-230

    Cordon Negro in its signature black bottle. Photo courtesy Freixenet.

     

    VARIETIES OF CAVA

    As with champagne, cavas are produced with different sugar levels, to please different palates and pair with different types of food. As with champagne, seco, which means dry, actually indicates a sweeter wine. Semi-seco and dulce are excellent dessert wines. Brut is best for apéritif or with food.

  • Extra Brut, the driest (0-6 g sugar per liter)
  • Brut (0-15 g sugar)
  • Extra Seco (12-20 g sugar
  • Seco (17-35 g sugar)
  • Semi-Seco (33-50 g sugar)
  • Dulce (50+ g sugar)
  •  

    cordoniu-cuvee1872-rose-230

    A rosé cava. Photo courtesy Cordoníu.

     

    Typically, producers make a rose version; and some also make a reserve wine, aged 30 months.

    U.S. merchants typically carry three major brands, all of which produce varieties with different levels of sweetness:

  • Codorníu, which produces the greatest range of cavas, including a selection of rosés and blancs de blanc.
  • Freixenet, the best-known of which is Cordon Negro, in a dramatic black and gold bottle.
  • Segura Viudas, which also makes a rosé and a Reserva Heredad, aged 3 months in a bottle that looks like it was created for royalty
  •  
    As with any sparkling wine, serve cava in chilled flute champagne glasses (place the glasses in the freezer 30 minutes or more before you need them.

    Chilled glasses help to keep the wine cold, and flutes help the bubbles last longer, since they need to travel a longer distance before breaking into the air.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Margarita Chile Cheesecake Bars

    You can make this recipe in a baking pan and cut traditional bars, or make them in individual glass ramekins, jars or custard cups for an especially nice presentation.

    The recipe is from Melissa’s The Great Pepper Cookbook, the ultimate guide to choosing and cooking with peppers.

    RECIPE: MARGARITA CHILE CHEESECAKE BARS

    Ingredients For 16 Bars Or 8 Four-Ounce Custard Cups/Jars

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) salted butter, chopped
  • 6 dried cascabel chile peppers (about 1/2 cup), stems and seeds removed, ground
  • 3/4 cup non-alcoholic Margarita cocktail mix
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons lime zest
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • Garnishes: whipped cream, lime wheels or peel curls, dash of ground cascabel chile
  •    

    margarita-cheesecake-cups-melissas-230

    Margarita Chile Cheesecake for Cinco de MayoPhoto courtesy Melissa’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the graham cracker crumbs, butter and chile in a food processor; pulse until coarse and crumbly, about 2 minutes.

    2. TRANSFER the graham cracker mixture to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish and press to evenly cover the bottom of dish. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Cool.

    3. COMBINE the Margarita mix in a bowl combine with the sugar, cornstarch, zest and cream cheese. Whisk in the eggs until completely incorporated. Pour over the crust; bake until top browns slightly, about 30 minutes.

    4. COOL completely in the pan and cut into 16 bars, Top with whipped cream, lime wheels or peel curls and extra ground chile.

    To Make In Ramekins Or Jars

    You can make eight individual four-ounce portions.

    1. MAKE the crust as instructed above. Place 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of crust in each jar and press down. Do not pre-bake.

    2. MAKE the filling as instructed above, but fill each jar leaving a 1/2 inch space from the top.

    3. PLACE the jars on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until set. Remove from the oven, cool completely and top with the garnishes.

     

    cascabel-230

    Cascabel chiles. Photo courtesy Angelina’s Gourmet.

     

    ABOUT CASCABEL CHILES

    Cascabels are large round chiles, which ripen to a bright red, dark red or brownish red. It has moderate heat.

    The name means “rattle,” which refers to the sound the seeds make when a dried chile is shaken, as well as the round shape.

    You can substitue ancho, chipotle or guajillo chiles.

    Check out the different chile types in our Chile Glossary

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Know Your Orange Liqueur

    Do you know your Gran Gala from your Grand Marnier?

    Orange liqueur is a popular ingredient in cocktails, from classics like the Margarita and Sidecar to the contemporary Cosmopolitan. It’s also used in foods from chicken to mousse.

    Orange liqueurs are made from the peel of bitter oranges—generally varieties that are too bitter to enjoy as a fruit.

    Does it make a difference which one you buy? Name brands like Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Grand Gala are generally better products than generics like Curaçao and triple sec, even if those products are made by well-known producers.

    Some will be sweeter, some more bitter, some more complex. What you can do is hit your favorite bar with some friends, order shots of all their orange liqueurs, and decide which you like the best.

    Here’s a primer.

    TYPES OF ORANGE LIQUEUR

    Just search for “orange liqueur” in Google Images and you’ll find scores of brands you’ve never heard of. But in the U.S., these cool the roost:

       

    cointreau_beauty-wiki-230

    The original Margarita recipe was made with Cointreau. Photo | Wikimedia.

     

  • Cointreau is a brand of triple sec, a finer product than products simply labeled “triple sec.” It was first produced in 1875 Edouard Cointreau in his family’s distillery in Angers, France. It is stronger-flavored and more complex than most triple secs.
  • Curaçao is a style of liqueur made from the dried peels of the laraha citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles (southeast of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean). The name is generic. The laraha developed from the sweet Valencia orange planted by Spanish explorers. The orange would not grow successfully in the climate of Curaçao; the fruits produced were small, bitter and inedible. However, the peel remained aromatic and true to the Valencia varietal, and made a delicious liqueur. The trees were bred into the current laraha species, still inedible. Some brands are colored blue or bright orange; the color adds no flavor.
  •  

    grand-marnier-bkgd-230

    Grand Marnier. Photo | Wikimedia.

     
  • Grand Marnier is a Cognac-based brand of orange liqueur, generally considered to be the finest quality of the orange liqueurs. It is made by blending macerated bitter orange skins in neutral alcohol with Cognac, and aging this spirit in oak barrels.It was created by Louis-Alexandre and first sold in 1880 as Curaçao Marnier. It became referred to as a “Grand Curaçao” because of the power of the Cognac.
  • Gran Gala is the Italian competitor to Grand Marnier, made by Stock Spirits of Trieste in Italy since 1884. It suffers from a lack of advertising awareness: The spirit is as fine as Grand Marnier; a side-by-side tasting shows it to be more assertive and more complex. Because of the layers of flavor in both Grand Marnier and Gran Gala, neither gives as pure an orange flavor as Cointreau.
  • Triple sec is a generic name for an orange-flavored liqueur made from the dried peel of oranges; the name means triple distilled. It is made from the same bitter oranges grown on the island of Curaçao as the liqueur Curaçao; the difference is that triple sec is about 1/3 as sweet as Curaçao. The orange skins are macerated (steeped) in alcohol and then distilled. Some brands names you may encounter include Bols, Combier, DeKuyper and Marie Brizard. Some sources claim that Triple Sec was invented in 1834 by Jean-Baptiste Combier in Saumur, France.
  •  
    When you taste different orange liqueurs, keep tasting notes. You may prefer one for sipping, another for mixed drinks.

      

    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.

     

    coconut-w-toastedcoco-pumpkinseeds-230

    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.

      

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