THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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FOOD FUN: Brownie Eyeballs For Halloween

In prior Halloweens we’ve suggested Eyeball Jell-O, Eyeball Ice Cream, radish eyeballs for crudites and garnish, deviled egg eyeballs.

If your specialty produce purveyor has imported them from Australia, where they’re now in season, fresh lychees (photo #2) make the best eyeball food: nothing to do but peel and eat them.


You can eat these as a snack, or use them as cupcake or ice cream toppers.

Prep time is 45 minutes, chill time is 30 minutes.

Ingredients For 16 Eyeballs

  • 1 10.25-ounce pouch fudge brownie mix
  • 1 cup Ocean Spray Craisins Original Dried Cranberries
  • 2 cups white chocolate chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate bar, melted
  • Tubes of decorative writing gel; green, red, black

    1. PREPARE the brownies according to package directions. Bake just until just done

    2. TRIM the crisp edges from the brownie while warm; eat them as you wish. Crumble the remaining warm brownie into a medium mixing bowl.

    3. ADD the Craisins to the warm crumbled brownies and combine until a thick dough-like mixture forms. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, pressing firmly.

    4. DIP the balls into the melted chocolate, letting the excess drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until the chocolate is firm.


    Brownie Eyeballs

    Fresh Lychees

    [1] Brownie eyeballs for Halloween (photo courtesy Ocean Spray). [2] Fresh lychees, nature’s “eyeballs” (photo courtesy Livestrong).

    5. CREATE the eyeballs, first using red gel to make veins, green for center of the eye and black for the pupil.


  • Microwave 1 cup (6 ounces) of chips or chopped chocolate at a time. Use a small, microwave-safe bowl and melt on high (100% power) for 1 minute. Stir.
  • Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth.
  • If your chocolate seizes or needs additional thinning for dipping, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and blend well. If more oil is needed, add up to 1 teaspoon more to achieve desired results.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Pour-Over Coffee At Home

    Chemex Coffee Maker

    Chemex Coffee Maker

    New Chemex Brewer

    [1] The 1941 Chemex design, represented at the Museum of Modern Art and other museums (this photo is from the Brooklyn Museum Of Art). It’s $49.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond. [2] A freshly-dripped carafe of coffee (photo courtesy [3] The latest Chemex design, which adds a handle for easier pouring, was actually one of the original designs before the streamlined design was chosen. It’s $43.50 at Williams-Sonoma.


    Waiting at a coffee bar recently, we overheard a customer watching her pour-over dripping into the cup. She said to the barista: “I wish I could do this at home!”

    You can, it’s easy, and a lot less expensive than the pour-over, which took four passes from the barista.

    In fact, in our youth…
    …there were no specialty coffee bars (your take-out choice was Dunkin Donuts or a deli or diner),
    …coffee at home was limited to a percolator or instant coffee, and
    …people chose either Folgers or Maxwell House, but
    …coffee aficionados made their coffee in a Chemex carafe with their favorite ground beans, usually from the supermarket although the real connoisseurs got mail-order beans from specialty shops.

    If they were lucky, they lived in a town with a specialty coffee and tea shop, with loose beans and packaged coffee from around the world.

    We were lucky: We lived in New York City, which had McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, established in 1895 and still located at 109 Christopher Street in the West Village (and still not open on Sundays).

    A visit to McNulty’s was a trip back to another age. Today, the journey is accented with modern coffee makers and gadgets that didn’t exist at the time.

    But the aroma is still the same: an exotic mingling of the many aromas of coffees and teas from around the world, kept in large glass canisters. There were burlap sacks of beans and chests of tea with stenciled markings from far away lands. The brass scale was also from the 19th century.

    Amid the tea and coffee was one ultra-modern brewing apparatus: the Chemex drip coffee maker.


    Pour over, also called manual drip brewing or the drip method, is a fashionable new term for an old, low-tech method of coffee brewing.

    Ground coffee is added to a ceramic or plastic cone that sits in a paper filter atop a glass carafe, ceramic pot, coffee cup or other receptacle. The Chemex system eliminates the need for a cone by creating a carafe with a narrow neck that holds the filter.
    Melitta, The First Pour-Over

    The pour-over technique was invented by a German housewife, Melitta Benz, in 1908. Displeased with the grittiness and murkiness of coffee as it was then prepared, she devised a paper filter from a sheet of her son’s notebook paper, and set the filter into a brass cup into which she punched holes for the coffee to drip through.

    The commercial version was made in ceramic (today available in ceramic or plastic). As anyone who has used a Melitta drip brewer knows, it became a great success for its superior brew.

    Fast-forward a few decades, to inventor Peter Schlumbohm, a Ph.D chemist who had immigrated to the U.S. from Germany. He developed and sold his patents focused on heating and cooling systems, the thermos bottle and dry ice manufacturing among them.

    In 1941, he released the Chemex drip coffee system with the coffee filter placed in a glass carafe.

    Like the Melitta, the filter was filled with ground coffee and hot water, which drip-drip-dripped into the carafe.

    Like the Melitta, it wasn’t the fastest cup of coffee around, but people with palates applauded the superior flavor. If you liked good black coffee, drip coffee was the way to go.

    Its Bauhaus style design, elegant in thermal glass from Corning, received a big endorsement from the design community and was featured on the cover of the Museum of Modern Art’s “Useful Objects in Wartime” bulletin, making it “the official poster-child of [the] new emphasis on undecorated, functional simplicity [source]. It is included in the design collection of the Museum.


    The Next Revolution In Home Coffee Brewing

    In 1971, the first electric drip coffee maker to hit the consumer market, Mr. Coffee, revolutionized how many Americans brewed their coffee. Adios, percolator; bienvenidos, Mr. Coffee.

    Mr. Coffee engendered shelves full of electric drip brands, which remained paramount until the Keurig single-serve beverage brewing system and the proliferation of K-Cup options too hold. In 2002, some 10,000 units were sold to offices, replacing the Bunn system and the need to clean the coffee pots and drink coffee that had been sitting on the burner for too long.

    Consumers loved the Keurig system, and by 2006, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters had acquired a stake, signed up leading coffee brands for the K-Cups

    Gosh, has it only been ten years?

    While the Melitta, Chemex and other pour-over apparatuses remained a niche product, our first experience with the modern pour-over took place in 2006 in San Francisco, where the line of customers stretched around the block to get a cup from Blue Bottle Coffee.

    As our job is to know what’s new and wonderful in the world of food and drink, we waited for some 25 minutes. Sure, it was a good cup of coffer, but we didn’t do it again.

    And we didn’t have to: The trend proliferated, and soon there was enough drip coffee in our own neighborhood to eliminate the line wait.

    Which brings us to the present: pour-overs at home.

    You can still buy a Melitta, and an improvement on it, the Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Water Tank Good Grips.

    The water stays hot in the mini-tank instead of in an open filter. All you need is add ground coffee and hot water—no paper filter.

    The set (photo at right) is just $15.99 at
    Drip Tips

    Drip coffee requires a particular technique to ensure that your brew is as good as Blue Bottle’s.

    Here are Blue Bottle’s drip coffee-making tips.


    Pour Over Coffee Oxo

    Melitta Ceramic Coffee Maker

    [4] It’s easy to make pour-over coffee at home with this $15.99 system from Oxo. [5] The modern Melitta system is $29.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond. You can also buy a $3.99 plastic cone to brew a cup atop your own cup or mug.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Spices & Dried Herbs As Plate Garnishes

    Pork & Cabbage Salad

    Round Squash Ravioli

    Dessert Plate Garnish

    Spice Cocktail Rim

    [1] Chef Eric Levine adds a ring of flavorful spices around a circle of salad. [2] At Obicà, a Neapolitan-focused restaurant, Chef Erind Halilaj adds a dramatic spice stripe over butternut squash ravioli. [3] They’re not spices, but crumbs, used here by Chef Daniel Eddy of Rebelle, are lovely garnishes. [4] Spice blends make tasty rimmers for cocktails, too (photo courtesy Pompeian).


    For festive occasions—or simply to dress up an everyday meal—make your plates sing with a scatter of spice.

    Once upon a time, professional chefs and the home cooks who copied would use a piece of parsley or other green herb to garnish the plate. Since most foods fell into the brown-beige color family, the plate garnish would “give it some color.” Few people actually considered eating the parsley.

    Today’s chefs are much more innovative. The paltry parsley has evolved into colored swaths of sauce, brushed onto plates; polka dots of sauce; drizzles of coulis; swirls of olive oil; condiments splattered like Jackson Pollack.

    But the easiest way—no steady hand required—is to scatter herbs and spices onto the plate.

    All you need to do is select flavors and colors that complement the food on the plate.


    This is not a comprehensive list; we went mostly for textured items rather than finely-ground powders. But you can use the latter if they work with your plate decorating concept.
    Savory Dried Herbs & Spices

  • Black: black lava salt, nigella seeds, peppercorns (crushed/cracked), poppy seeds, toasted sesame seeds
  • Brown: allspice, caraway seeds, grains of paradise, nutmeg (crushed/cracked), smoked sea salt and other flavored gormat salts, urfa biber
  • Green (pale): aniseed, fennel seeds, garam masala, green peppercorns, herbes de provence, lime peel, matcha salt, oregano, rosemary, za’atar
  • Green (deep): basil, chervil, cilantro, dill weed, epazote, fenugreek, fines herbs, matcha, parsley, tarragon
  • Orange: orange zest, shichimi togarashi (Japanese Seven-Spice)
  • Pink/Purple: Himalayan pink sea salt, lavender buds, Merlot sea salt, pink peppercorns, rose petals
  • Red: achiote, alaea red lava salt, aleppo or other chile flakes, annato seeds, gochu garu (Korean chile flakes), piment d’espelette, sriracha salt and other red gourmet salts
  • Tan: celery seeds, Old Bay seasoning,
  • Yellow: aji amarillo powder, curry salt and other yellow flavored salts, fennel pollen, grapefruit zest, lemon zest, mustard seeds, turmeric
  • White: coarse sea salt (especially flake salt like Maldon or Cypress), flavored coarse white salt (garlic, lemon, lime) sesame seeds
    More Savory Options
    You may also have some of these in the cupboard:

  • Crumbs: bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, pretzel crumbs
  • Savory drink rimmers
  • Spice blends, from Italian herbs to shichimi togarashi, Japanese Seven Spice (don’t overlook Mrs. Dash)
  • Meat rubs
  • Smoked and flavored salts (for ideas see
    Sweet Dried Herbs & Spices

    For desserts and other sweet dishes, consider:

  • Colored sugars: coarse sugar, decorating sugar, decorative sugar (shapes), sanding sugar, sparkling sugar
  • Conventional sugars: dark brown, demerara, light brown, muscovado, turbinado
  • Crumbs: cake crumbs, cookie crumbs
  • Flavored sugars: blueberry, cinnamon, espresso, green chile, raspberry, etc. (here’s the selection at, plus how to make your own)
  • Sweet herbs: basil, chervil, lemon thyme, garam masala, marjoram, mint, pink peppercorns, sage, sweet cicely, tarragon
  • Sweet spice blends: apple pie spice, chai spice, mulling spice, pumpkin pie spice
  • Sweet spices:
  • +Black, brown and tan: allspice, anise seed, brown sugar (dark, light, raw, turbinado, cacao nibs, cardamom, cassia buds, chia seeds, cinnamon (crushed sticks), coffee beans (crushed), cloves (whole or crushed), nutmeg (freshly ground), poppy seed, vanilla bean pod (crushed)
    +Green: lime peel or zest, matcha powder
    +Pink and purple: dried rose petals (crumbled), lavender buds
    +Yellow and gold: bee pollen, ginger (crystallized or cracked), granulated honey, peel or zest (grapefruit, lemon, orange)
    +White: sesame seeds


  • Don’t toss “end of the bottle” spices and herbs to make room for new bottles. Instead, combine them in an empty bottle to create your own “garnishing blend.”
  • If an herb or spice has lost its flavor, you can still use it for garnish. In fact, it’s a great use for past-their-prime seasonings.
  • If you don’t like a spice you’re purchased, use it for a plate garnish. Some people don’t even attempt to taste the spices; and those who do dip a fork in it may like it.

    If your plate could still use some filler, match one of these to the food. Note that the oil (or any liquid) should be placed on the plate first, before the food and the garnish.

  • Flavored oils: from basil and blood orange to habanero and wasabi.
  • Colored oils: naturally colored oils include avocado oil (virgin), hot chile oil*, dark sesame oil* and mustard oil*; you also can make your own colored oils).
  • Olive oil—for artistic purposes, the darker the better. You can add green food color—which is what more than a few bottlers [illegally] do.
  • Syrups: agave, dessert syrup, flavored simple syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses.
    *These oils can be very strong, and may have to be diluted with olive oil or plated in droplets.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Carve Some Halloween Cheese

    A few days ago we recommended cheeses to create a beautiful Halloween-themed cheese plate, featuring artisan cheeses.

    But not everybody likes fancy cheeses, or has the budget to purchase them.

    So here’s Plan B: Halloween cheese fun that anyone can afford.

  • Make your favorite cheese ball recipe and turn it into a jack o’lantern by rolling it in crushed Cheetos or orange crackers like Ritz
  • Make the face with cut-up red bell pepper pieces. Press a stem made of broccoli stalk or celery into the top.
  • Here’s the recipe for the cheese ball in the bottom photo.

  • Mini Babybel Gouda snack cheeses have a pumpkin-color wax coating. The Mini Babybel White Cheddar Cheese variety is covered in white wax.
  • Use a chisel-tip Sharpie marker to create jack o’lantern faces. The eight-pack assortment includes black, orange, red, and two shades of green for the stems.

  • For larger parties, you can find wheels of orange cheddar—round with a flat top and bottom—in two-pounds and five pounds.
  • Remove the wax and carve a jack o’lantern face through the flat side.
  • Create a stem top from a piece of broccoli stalk, and affix it with a toothpick.
  • Present the jack o’lantern standing up so you can see through the eyes and nose. To keep it steady, you can trim a small piece from the bottom.
    The next two ideas are from, which has 15 different ways to use cheese at Halloween.

  • The easiest way to serve “Halloween cheese” is to use small (2-inches or smaller) Halloween-themed cookie cutters to cut shapes from orange cheddar or American cheese slices (top photo).
  • Place them on your favorite crackers. It’s that simple.

  • Make a Mummy Brie from an 8-ounce Brie and a sheet of puff pastry (center photo). Here’s the recipe: wrapped in puff pastry.
  • Delish uses black olives and mini pepperoni slices for the eyes, but we substituted slices of pimento-stuffed olives.

    Halloween Crackers & Cheese

    Halloween Brie

    Halloween Cheese Ball

    [1] Cut Halloween shapes with mini cookie cutters. [2] Baked Brie turns into a mummy with a sheet of puff pastry (photos #1 and #2 courtesy [3] A Halloween cheese ball (photo courtesy Snackworks).




    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles From Lindt

    Lindt Truffles With Sprinkles

    Lindor Holiday Truffles

    Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles

    Lindor Truffle Cake

    [1] Glamorized Pumpkin Spice Truffles: Lauren of Climbing Grier Mountain tops the truffles with a bit of frosting and gold sprinkles. [2] Boxes of Lindor truffles are available at retailers nationwide (photo courtesy [3] For larger sizes, head to This bag contains 75 truffles. [4] You don’t have to be a professional like Becky Bakes to create a holiday cake with Lindor truffles. Tip: Use a simpler garnish!


    Last week was a big chocolate week for us, from the Big Chocolate Show in New York City to a media trip to Lindt’s U.S. headquarters in New Hampshire.

    Our favorite discoveries were at Lindt: not just the million-square-foot bean-to-bar plant, thick with chocolate aroma, but the ability to taste just about everything Lindt produces.

    We have many favorites, but one in particular is our Top Pick Of The Week: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffles.

    The milk chocolate shell has a creamy center of “smooth melting pumpkin spice filling.” We can’t get enough of them, and have stocked up on this limited edition (through the season, while supplies last) to get us through Valentine’s Day.


  • To fill our candy bowl throughout the season.
  • For trick-or-treaters.
  • For dessert and dessert cocktail garnishes.
  • For sundaes or parfaits (chopped or sliced).
  • For coffee, hot chocolate and pumpkintinis (recipe below).
  • For no-bake dessert tarts (see the creation of Lauren at
  • Place settings for Thanksgiving dinner
  • Holiday gifts (they’re KOF-K, too)
    No wonder Lindt packages these truffles in jumbo sizes in addition to the standard 5.1-ounce and 8.5-ounce packages available at retailers nationwide (suggested prices $4.39 and $6.99, respectively).

    For larger sizes, we headed to Lindt Outlet Stores and Lindt’s online store at There, you can find:

  • 75-piece gift bag, $28
  • 36-piece gift bag, $16
  • 550-piece case, $145

    Before we move on to drinking the truffles, here’s a quick note on how Lindor Truffles came to be.

    In 1845, Zurich store owner David Sprüngli-Schwarz and his son, Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann, decided to be among the first confectioners in Switzerland to manufacture chocolate in a solid form.

    Prior to then, chocolate was a beverage, as it had been since Mesoamericans first began to use it around 1500 B.C.E. (the timeline of chocolate).

    Solid chocolate then was nothing like the product we know. It was a gritty, chewy product. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable, though. Some companies, like Tazo, still make this old-style chocolate.

    But progress marched forward.

    In 1879 chocolatier Rodolphe Lindt of Berne, Switzerland, indadvertently developed a technique, conching, that created the smooth, silky chocolate we enjoy today.

    Ten years later, older brother Johann Rudolf Sprüngli acquired the Lindt business, and the secret to making smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. The new company was called Lindt & Sprüngli, but Lindt, the easier name to pronounce in different languages, became the brand name.

    Right after World War II, with time to re-focus on life’s pleasures, the creative chocolatiers at Lindt & Sprüngli developed the Lindor truffle, enrobing an even meltier center with its famed chocolate.

    Lindor is a contraction of Lindt d’Or, Golden Lindt. We heartily concur: These truffles are golden.

    Here’s the complete company history.



    Lindor truffles are not just for eating. You can drink them:

  • Melted into hot milk to create milk chocolate.
  • Melted into hot coffee to create hot mocha.
  • Hot chocolate and coffee Lindor drinks can be shaken with ice for iced hot chocolate and iced mocha; whipped cream optional.
  • Flavored truffles (coconut, mint, orange, raspberry, etc.) can be used to add extra flavor accents.
    When we visited the Lindt Outlet Store (here’s a store locator for both Lindt Chocolate Shops and Lindt Outlet Stores), we found a large cafe counter offering the choice of these drinks and more. We dove right in.

    Our recommendation: For a less sweet drink, use two Lindor truffles per 8 ounces of hot milk or coffee. For a sweeter drink, use three truffles. Whisk them in one at a time.

    We haven’t stopped drinking Lindt hot chocolate since!

    Pizzazzerei set up a party bar, an idea you may want to try for your own fall entertaining.

    You can also use Lindt truffles as a cocktail garnish, matching the different Lindor flavors (more than 20) to specific drink recipes.

    With Lindor Pumpkin Spice, the choice is obvious:


    It’s like an alcoholic milkshake! Have it for dessert.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • ½ ounce cream liqueur
  • 2 ounces vanilla vodka
  • ½ ounce pumpkin liqueur or pumpkin spice syrup
  • Ice and shaker
  • Garnish: Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffle


    Lindor Pumpkin Spice  Hot Chocolate

    Lindt Pumpkintini With Lindor Truffle

    [5] Add two truffles to milk, stir, and you’ve got Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate. [6] The best Pumpkinitini has a Lindor Pumpkin Spice Truffle garnish (photo courtesy Lindt).

    1. COMBINE the cream liqueur and vodka in an ice-filled shaker and shake well. Add pumpkin the liqueur or syrup.

    2. SHAKE and strain into chilled a martini glass. Garnish with the truffle. If you don’t have a cocktail pick, lightly notch the truffle and place it on the rim of the glass.

    See our article on pumpkin liqueur, and why you should buy a bottle while you can.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Fideo, “Mexican Spaghetti” & Soup Pasta

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    Barilla Fideo

    [1] Sopa de Fideo, a popular Mexican comfort food (photo courtesy [2] A bowl of plain fideo (photo courtesy [3] Barilla makes fideo, as well as Hispanic specialists like Goya (photo courtesy Barilla).


    October is National Pasta Month, an occasion to explore and try different types of pasta. May we suggest fideo?

    What is fideo (fee-DAY-yo)?

    Fideo spaghetti tagliati means fideo-cut spaghetti. Fideo is a Spanish word for noodle, so essentially, the spaghetti is being cut like noodles (i.e., short strands).

    The actual pasta used is short-cut vermicelli: thin strands of pasta available in one- or two-inch lengths, depending on manufacturer. Vermicelli is a round strand pasta slightly thinner than spaghetti but thicker than angel hair.

    Fideo is popular in Mexican cuisine, where it is also called fidelini (and “Mexican spaghetti” by Americans).

    You can also break up your own from spaghetti, vermicelli or other thin strand pasta, including including ribbon (flat) pasta like linguine. Some people prefer the eye appeal of the irregular, hand-broken shapes.

    What makes it extra-special in savory recipes is quickly toasting the noodles in a bit of olive oil. It produces a nutty, toasty extra depth of flavor that’s another reason to enjoy fideo.

    Fideo is a Mexican comfort food that can be served as a starter or a main dish ingredient. It is perhaps best known as a toasted soup pasta, popular in Sopa de Fideo, a classic bowl of comfort.

    As a stand-in for rice, it versatile to be used in anything from fideo “risotto” (recipe below) to fideo “rice pudding.”

    What could be more comforting than tomato soup with fideo? Here’s a recipe from. .

  • Fideo Con Carne, a beef and potato stew with crunchy fideo noodles
  • Fideo Paella: exchange the rice for toasted fideo and your choice of mix-ins: clams, chorizo, green peas, mussels, sausage, shredded chicken, shrimp, etc. The dish, which originated in Spain, is called fideua (FID-a-wah).
  • Guisado, the Spanish word for stew, can take many forms, including a classic Mexican beef stew of beef and potatoes with fideo.
  • Tomato Soup With Fideo.
  • Crispy Pan-Fried Shrimp and Chorizo Fideo Cakes, a fusion of a Spanish classic with Japanese grilled sticky rice cakes from chef Ilan Hall.
  • Quick casseroles—check out this classic with chickpeas, kale, jalapeños and olives (i.e., toss in anything you like).

    Put together your own fideo recipe with:

  • Base: broth (beef, chicken, vegetable), tomato sauce
  • Herbs and spices: chiles/chili powder/hot sauce, cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Proteins: chicken, fish/seafood, ground meat, stew meat, tofu
  • Vegetables: bell peppers, capers, carrots, celery, chickpeas, chiles, corn, lima beans, onions, olives, peas, potatoes, squash, tomates
  • Garnish: shredded cheese, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), raisins/dried cherries or cranberries
  • After you pick your ingredients, the recipe cooks quickly:


    1. HEAT cooking oil in a skillet; when the oil shimmers, add the pasta and stir to coat. Sauté, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes.

    2. ADD the sauce or other base, vegetables, spices and herbs. When all vegetables are cooked to the desired tenderness, add in the cheese.

    3. STIR in the cooked protein (cubed, diced, shredded) or use the cooked fideo as a base for the protein.

    “What’s not to love about toasted noodles infused with a pinch of cumin and a hint of rich tomatoes?” asks Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, who developed this recipe.

    “Typically served dry as a side dish or flooded with broth as a soup, my preference falls somewhere in between; a thick stew of vegetables and pasta that could be eaten either with a spoon or a fork, depending on how long the noodles are cooked.

    “Taking that concept just one step further, you can make a risotto—just without the rice.”

    Fideo takes on a uniquely nutty taste thanks to a quick sauté before cooking. Hannah mingles the flavors of roasted peppers, smoked paprika and cumin “to render a wholly warming, revitalizing bowl full of edible comfort” that she finds even more satisfying than a bowl of risotto.

    Hannah developed this as a vegan recipe, using nutritional yeast instead of cheese. We added the option of grated parmesan cheese.


    Ingredients For 3-4 Main Servings

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups (1/2 pound) broken or cut spaghetti
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted, seeded, and diced
  • 1 Red or Orange Bell pepper, Roasted, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • Optional: 1-2 tablespoons tequila
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup corn kernels, canned and drained or frozen and thawed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: 1/4 cup toasted pepitas, grated parmesan cheese

    1. PLACE half of the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Once shimmering, add in the pasta and stir to coat.

    2. SAUTÉ the noodles, stirring frequently, until toasted and golden brown all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the noodles from the pot and set aside.

    3. RETURN the pot to the stove and add the remaining oil. Cook the onions and garlic together until softened and aromatic. Introduce the tomatoes and both roasted peppers next, stirring periodically. Continue to cook until the onions are lightly golden.

    4. ADD the vegetable broth, tequila, lime juice, nutritional yeast, paprika, and cumin. Bring the liquid to a boil before returning the toasted noodles to the pot. Stir well to incorporate, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.

    5. SIMMER gently until the pasta is tender and the liquid mostly absorbed, 9 to 11 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add the corn and cilantro.

    6. TASTE and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with optional garnish.

    Nutritional yeast is—as the name implies—a form of yeast that can be used on foods and in recipes. It is a vegan product.

    It’s an inactive form of the same yeast strain—Saccharomyces cerevisiae—use to leaven bread. It has also been pasteurized to dry out the yeast and concentrate its nutritional benefits.

  • Find it at health food, natural food and vitamin stores.
  • It can be labeled yeast flakes, yeast seasoning.
    These golden flakes add flavor as nutrition, and are used by people seeking dairy- and cholesterol-free options to conventional cheeses.

    You can add savory, cheesy, nutty flavors by sprinkling nutritional yeast on pasta, salads, vegetables and other foods (popcorn, anyone?).

    Or use it instead of cheese in cooking and baking.


    Fideo Risotto

    Fideo Recipe

    Fideo & Shrimp

    Nutritional Yeast

    [4] Fideo risotto from Bittersweet Blog. [5] Toasting the fideo is a snap (photo courtesy [6] Fusion fideo: Fried shrimp cakes combine Spanish and Japanese concepts, using fideo instead of rice. Here’s the recipe from Chef Ilan Hall on [7] Nutritional yeast. You can buy it locally or online. Bragg’s, is also OU kosher.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Chestnuts, Briefly In Season

    Slicing Chestnuts

    Chestnut Soup

    Chestnuts With Brussels Sprouts

    [1] To roast chestnuts, cut an X on the flat side. [2] Chestnut soup, a don’t-miss seasonal treat. [3] Brussels sprouts with roasted chestnuts from


    While canned chestnuts, and more recently, ready-to-eat vacuum-bagged chestnuts, can be found year-round, fresh chestnuts season lasts for only about two months.

    Now is the time to enjoy their beguiling flavor and nutrients to the fullest extent.

    They don’t have to be roasting on an open fire, per our favorite crooner, Nat King Cole. Roast chestnuts (lacking an open fire, we use the oven—here’s how) are a treat, but so are the luscious preparations that follow.

    Long before they found their way onto holiday menus, chestnuts, which are tree nuts, were a dietary staple in the mountainous regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Because grains could not grow in those areas, chestnuts were a valuable source of nutrition.

    In fact, chestnuts are nutritionally more like a grain than a nut. They are low in protein and fat, but high in starch and fiber. Naturally gluten free, they are the only nut that contains vitamin C.

    Add diced, halved or whole chestnuts to:

  • Appetizers (wrap with bacon instead of the classic water chestnuts)
  • Breads, dressings, muffins
  • Cream of chestnut soup (recipe)—a must-have seasonal treat
  • Puréed into dips, pestos, and as a delicious side, especially with chicken, duck, pheasant, pork, turkey, quail and veal
  • Garnishes for mains, soups, salads, vegetables
  • With grains, pilafs, risottos
  • With seasonal vegetables: Brussels sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, turnips—also in casseroles, stir-frys and omelet fillings

  • Candied (marrons glacés recipe)
  • Puréed and added to hot chocolate or coffee
  • Puréed and sweetened as a bread spread
  • Chestnut ice cream—puréed, diced or both
  • In a sweetened bread spread Mousse or Mont Blanc, sweetened chestnut purée in a meringue shell, topped with whipped cream
  • Cakes, plain and fancy (here’s a chestnut loaf cake)
  • Chestnut soufflé and a multitude of other desserts

    This recipe is from Mary R. Wendt, MD, author of Waist Away: How to Joyfully Lose Weight and Supercharge Your Life. She is an expert on making the transition to plant-based nutrition.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ½ pound chestnuts (fresh, approximately 2 cups), wiped clean
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half (approximately 5 cups)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Optional additions: frizzled ham, sautéed leeks, sautéed wild mushrooms

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Use a paring knife to score an “X” onto the flat side of each chestnut.

    2. ARRANGE the chestnuts in a single layer in a large baking pan, with the X facing up. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the “X” flaps on the shell begin to curl away from the nut. Do not overcook!

    3. REMOVE from the heat and partially cool until it’s comfortable to peel away and discard the shells. Chestnuts are easiest to peel when they are warm.

    4. WARM the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and garlic. Sauté for 5-10 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.

    5. ADD the chestnuts to the skillet and cook covered for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the Brussels sprouts are very brown. Stir in the salt and pepper and sauté an additional 2-3 minutes.

    6. GARNISH as desired and serve.



    FOOD FUN: Jim Beam Caramel Apples (Or Other Favorite Whiskey)

    To celebrate its Apple Bourbon—available year-round but especially popular in fall recipes—Jim Beam has stepped beyond cocktails to caramel.

    Yes, you can dip your caramel apples into an easy homemade caramel that incorporates a cup of Jim Beam Apple Bourbon.

    No time to buy Jim Beam Apple Bourbon? Use what you’ve got on hand (including another whiskey) and pick some up Apple Bourbon when you can. You’ll definitely want to make another batch of these!


    Ingredients For 10 Caramel Apples

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces cold half and half
  • 8 ounces Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
  • 10 Granny Smith apples on thick wooden skewers
  • Optional garnish: 4 cups chopped salted peanuts, honey roasted nuts or other garnish

    1. COOK the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a large pot over medium high heat until a light boil begins. Whisk in the half and half and the bourbon and continue to whisk until the caramel sauce reaches 248°F. Remove from the heat.

    2. DIP each of the apples into the caramel, coating on all sides. Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If desired, coat apples on all sides with chopped salted peanuts.

    3. ALLOW the caramel to cool before serving.

  • Classic Red Candy Apples
  • Easter Candy Apples
  • Matcha White Chocolate Granny Smith Apples (for Christmas or St. Pat’s)
  • Modern Art Chocolate Apples
  • Sugar-Free Red Candy Apples
    You can also host a candy apple party!


    Jim Beam Caramel Apples

    Jim Beam Apple Bourbon

    [1] Bourbon caramel apples. The caramel is made with [2] Jim Beam Apple Bourbon (photos courtesy Beam Suntory).


    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century, buy inexpensive toffee and caramels for all became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence dates soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner. Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born.

    The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Ginger Pumpkin Pie With Pumpkin Seed Crust

    Pumpkin Seed Crust Recipe

    Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake

    Caramel Cheesecake

    Caramel Apple Cheesecake

    [1] Pumpkin pie with a pumpkin seed-graham cracker crust (photo courtesy Whole Food Matters). [2] Pumpkin mousse cheesecake with pumpkin seed-flour crust (photo courtesy Kenwood World). [3] Cheesecake with walnut-pumpkin seed crust and a caramel sauce ribbon (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [4] Caramel Apple Cheesecake with gingersnap-pumpkinseed crust (photo courtesy iGourmet).


    Go seasonal with pie and cheese cake crusts: Add some pumpkin seeds and add a touch of fall, flavor, crunch and nutrition.

    You can add whole or chopped pumpkin seeds to your regular crusts, be they cookie (chocolate, gingersnap, graham cracker, shortbread), flour (wheat, nut, gluten free), or other recipe.

    Use raw, hulled pumpkin seeds, available in natural food stores and health food stores.

    First up is a graham cracker crust with pumpkin seeds, from Executive Chef Matt Greco of The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California.

    Chef Greco initially made this delicious crust for a Black Out Pie, peanut butter and chocolate. So don’t limit your vista!



  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 cup crushed pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8-12 ounces unsalted butter, melted

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients except the butter in a bowl. Slowly add enough butter so that the mixture holds its shape when squeezed in your hand.

    3. PRESS 3/4 of a cup of the mixture into a pie pan and bake at 350° for 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden.


    This recipe is adapted from one by Florence Fabricant in The New York Times. Prep and cook time is 2 hours.
    Ingredients For 10 Servings

    For The Crust

  • ¾ cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 10 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
    For The Filling

  • 2 cups canned pumpkin purée
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 8 minutes, until you hear them start to pop. Remove from the oven.

    2. PLUSE 1/2 cup of the pumpkin seeds in a food processor. Mix with the graham cracker crumbs, ground ginger and granulated sugar. Stir in the melted butter. Pat the mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of a 10-inch pie pan and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

    3. BAKE the crust for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F.

    4. MIX the pumpkin purée, eggs, egg yolks, cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the crystallized ginger and mix until smooth. Pour into the pre-baked crust and bake about an hour, until the filling is set.

    5. REMOVE the pie from the oven and the scatter remaining pumpkin seeds on top. Cool to room temperature before serving.

    How about a garnish of candied pumpkin seeds?

    You can sprinkle them on any dessert, or on whipped cream-topped drinks.


  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray it with cooking spray.

    2. WHISK the egg white until frothy. Place the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl and add just enough egg white to coat the seeds. Add the salt, sugar and cinnamon and toss well to coat.

    3. SPREAD the seeds on the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they begin to dry and turn golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish just before serving to keep the seeds crisp. If not using that day, store in an airtight jar.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake

    In just 15 minutes, you can whip up the batter for Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake.

    Then, stick it in the fridge, and when you’re preparing for breakfast or brunch this weekend, preheat the oven and take the cake out of the fridge. It will bake in 35 minutes, capping off your repast with warm, fragrant coffee cake.

    This recipe, from Go Bold With Butter, is one of those recipes that takes little time to mix.

    The quintessential coffee cake is a crumb cake: a yeast cake with a streusel (crumb) topping. This recipe is quicker to make: hold the yeast and the rising time, add the pumpkin and pecans.


    Ingredients For A 9-Inch Cake
    For The Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
    For The Crumb Topping (Streusel)

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch spring form pan with butter and dust with flour.

    2. COMBINE the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. In separate bowl whisk together milk, egg, pumpkin purée and vanilla extract.

    3. BEAT the butter and brown sugar on high speed in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment until light and creamy. Alternatively, use a hand mixer and a large bowl; beat about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until just combined. Stir in the pecans.


    Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake Recipe

    Streusel Top Muffin

    Coffee Cake Streusel

    [1] Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake with a crumb (streusel) topping (photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter). [2] Streusel can be light and airy, as on this crumb-top muffin (photo courtesy Folger’s). [3] By adding more butter, the streusel becomes denser. It’s a personal choice (photo courtesy Bella Baker).


    4. USING a fork, combine the butter, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in small bowl. Use your hands to press the mixture into large crumbs (streusel). Spread the cake batter into theprepared pan and cover with crumb topping.

    5. BAKE until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove the pan sides and cool completely. Store the cake at room temperature for up to 3 days; or freeze leftovers.

    Long popular as the topping on Streuselkuchen (streusel cake), Germany’s crumb-topped yeast cake, streusel (pronounced SHTROY-zul) is a topping made from butter, flour and sugar. It can also contain chopped nuts or rolled oats.

    The word derives from the German “streuen” (SHTROY-en), meaning to sprinkle or scatter.

    The crumb cake is believed to have originated in Silesia, once part of Germany but today in western Poland (if you’ve read James Michener’s historical novel, Poland, you know the borders changed regularly).

    The original Streuselkuchen was very flat, with crumbs equal to the height of the cake (think one inch of cake topped with one inch of crumbs). To some streusel lovers, that’s perfection!

    The original recipe engendered variations with layers or ribbons of tart fruits (apples, gooseberries, sour cherries, rhubarb) and poppy seeds. Some versions even included pastry cream.

    Another popular coffee cake, also a yeast cake (but without crumbs), is glazed with sugar syrup, can be strewn with raisins and nuts and drizzled with royal icing. In our youth, when German emigré bakers plied their craft in New York City and elsewhere, it was as popular as crumb cake (and neater to eat, too).



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