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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.

TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Spiced Almonds

The roasted almonds are sweetened with sugar, brown sugar and honey, and spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and pumpkin powder (dried, ground pumpkin—look for it at natural food stores or online). The 19.75-ounce can

    It’s easy to make spiced nuts—almonds, pecans, walnuts or other favorite—to enjoy:

  • With cocktails
  • As snacks
  • As garnish for cakes, cupcakes, puddings, ice cream and other treats
  • In green salads with goat cheese or blue cheese
  • As sides with coffee, tea and hot chocolate
  • As gifts, in a small tin, plastic container or cellophane bag tied with ribbon

 
RECIPE: PUMPKIN SPICED NUTS

We adapted this recipe from one by Spice Islands. The nuts can be made up to three days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. If you’re making a lot, it’s best to make them in small batches to ensure that the nuts are thoroughly coated.

   

pumpkin-spice-almonds-can-planters-230

Limited Edition Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds. Nuts are better-for-you for snacking; these Planters nuts have 5 grams of protein in every serving.

 

planters-pumpkin-spice-nuts-kaminsky-230

Seasonal snacking: Planter’s Pumpkin Spiced
Almonds. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE
NIBBLE.

 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely-ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground clove or nutmeg
  • 2 cups almonds

 
Varying The Spices

Instead of a pepper-allspice blend, you can use cayenne and other favorites. There is no right or wrong combination: just what you like. For an herbal edge, we often add rosemary or sage. Consider adding:

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

    2. COMBINE corn syrup, sugar, salt, black pepper, allspice and white pepper in a bowl. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

    3. BAKE almonds for 5 minutes; stir. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes more, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer pecans to a sheet of wax paper. Separate nuts with a fork. Cool.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Candy Corn Macarons

    Dana’s Bakery makes delicious macarons; they’ve been a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, and a favorite gift we send to macaron lovers (the Macaron Of The Month Club is a luxurious gift for the connoisseur).

    The cookies are both tender and tantalizing, thanks to Dana’s eye for color and palate for flavor. We haven’t found more creative offerings anywhere.

    The “Flavor of the Month” for October is Candy Corn, is a vanilla macaron in candy corn colors—orange, white and yellow. And surprise: There’s a piece of candy con embedded in the filling.

    Candy Corn macarons are available until October 31st at DanasBakery.com or by calling 1.800.477.1816 ($30 for twelve).

    Bonus: All macarons are made with gluten-free almond flour.

     

    candy-corn-macarons-danasbakery3-230

    A sophisticated macaron interpretation of candy corn. We love it! Photo courtesy Dana’s Bakery.

     

    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS & MACARONS

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Pumpkin Cider

    pumpkin-cider-hkaminsky-230

    Pumpkin cider, with or without rum. Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    People speak of comfort foods; this is a comfort drink. Thick, flavorful, fragrant pumpkin cider made with pumpkin purée is a seasonal treat that can be served to kids or turned into a cocktail with spiced rum.

    RECIPE: SPICED PUMPKIN CIDER

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix, which is seasoned)
  • 2-1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • Cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup spiced rum (or substitute more apple cider)
  • Garnish: whipped cream, fresh-ground nutmeg
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the pumpkin, cider, spice and cinnamon stick in a medium-large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil; then simmer for 20 minutes. If you’d prefer a thinner drink, add more cider to achieve desired consistency.

    2. REMOVE the cinnamon stick; strain the mixture to remove any clumps. Add the rum stir. Garnish with optional whipped cream or nutmeg. Serve warm.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Burger

    Pumpkin is the not-so-secret ingredient in these veggie burgers, which have real nutritional heft thanks to the addition of chickpeas and pumpkin seed protein powder.

    Whether you’re determined to keep the spirit of summer alive or looking to transition into more autumnal foods, these pumpkin burgers span both worlds. You can make a double batch: The finished patties freeze beautifully.

    The recipe was developed by Hannah Kaminsky.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN PROTEIN BURGERS

    Ingredients For 6-8 Burgers

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 14-ounce can (1-3/4 cups cooked) chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seed protein powder
  • Salt and pepper
  •    

    pumpkin-burger-kaminsky-230

    Make your veggie burger a pumpkin burger. Recipe and photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

  • Optional condiment: pumpkin hummus (mix pumpkin purée into plain hummus)
  •  

    organic-pumpkin-puree-can-farmersmarket-230

    We like this organic pumpkin purée. Photo
    courtesy Farmer’s Market Foods.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly grease and set aside.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. When it is shimmering, add the garlic and onions, sautéing until aromatic and lightly golden brown. This should take no more than 6 to 8 minutes; be careful not to overdo it or you could burn the garlic.

    3. DEGLAZE the pan with the balsamic vinegar, turn off the heat and let the mix cool for 10 minutes.

    4. ROUGHLY MASH the chickpeas in a separate bowl, with a fork or potato masher. Keep the texture fairly coarse so that the burger maintains a satisfying bite. Add in the pumpkin purée, mustard, spices and herbs, mixing well to incorporate. When cool enough to handle…

    5. ADD the sautéed vegetables and pumpkin seed protein powder; stir to combine. Mix thoroughly, making sure that there are no pockets of dry ingredients. The mixture should be soft but manageable—something you can fairly easily mold into patties that will hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper to taste. With slightly moistened hands…

     
    6. MEASURE between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of the burger mixture for each patty, and form into round, flat pucks. Space them out evenly on the sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake 10 more minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the sheet.

    7. SERVE while still hot, or cool completely before freezing and storing (for up to 6 months).

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Gouda Cheese With Spicy Pumpkin Seed Brittle

    Who but the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (EatWisconsinCheese.com) would come up with this innovative pairing: Gouda cheese with pumpkin seed brittle! Serve it as dessert during “pumpkin season.”

    The result, while seemingly simple, is a complex dessert that is creamy, crunchy, spicy and sweet. (If you don’t like spicy foods, leave out the pepper.)

    RECIPE: SPICY PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) hulled spicy roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes and/or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Gouda or other favorite cheese
  •  

    A seasonal “cheese course.” Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. STIR together the baking soda and melted butter; set aside. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside a second sheet the same size. Butter the parchment on one side.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, water and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan; bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; wash down any sugar crystals on sides of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Simmer the syrup 10 to 12 minutes until it reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. With a wooden spoon, add the pumpkin seeds and pepper.

    3. RETURN the pan to medium-low heat while stirring; melt again until mixture turns amber brown and reaches 290°F (if the syrup becomes granular during cooking, continue to cook until it remelts). Remove from heat; stir in butter-baking soda mixture with wooden spoon.

    4. POUR the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheet; cover with the second parchment sheet. Press the mixture with a rolling pin to 1/4-inch thick. Remove the top layer of parchment; cool completely; crack brittle.

    5. STORE the brittle between layers of parchment in a sealed container for up to two weeks. Plate with a wedge of Gouda cheese, or serve alongside a platter of assorted cheeses.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Load Up On Pumpkin Foods

    Butternut-Squash-Ravioli-pom-wonderful-230

    Pumpkin ravioli. Photo courtesy Pom
    Wonderful.

     

    Some people don’t like pumpkin, so fall offers them no pumpkin joy. Others are so excited that a diet of pumpkin latte, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pancakes is seasonal splendor.

    It becomes a Bubba Gump menu of pumpkin: pumpkin bagels and cream cheese, pumpkin pancake mix and coffee creamer for breakfast; pumpkin spice yogurt or soup for lunch, pumpkin pasta or risotto for dinner; pumpkin spice cookies and loaf cakes for snacking; and of course, for dessert, pumpkin pie and pumpkin ice cream.

    And that’s just what you can pick up in the store! We got a mailer from Trader Joe’s that was all pumpkin, all the time; so we headed over to load up on pumpkin products.

    All of the following are available at Trader Joe’s (except asterisked items), and many are available at other retailers nationwide.

    Breakfast

  • Pumpkin Croissants
  • Country Pumpkin Spice Granola
  • Joe’s Pumpkin O’s (Cheerios-type cereal with pumpkin and cinnamon)
  • Organic Pumpkin Toaster Pastries
  • Pecan Pumpkin Instant Oatmeal
  • Pumpkin Bagels and Pumpkin Cream Cheese (what a treat!)
  • Pumpkin Butter
  • Pumpkin Bread Muffin Mix
  • Pumpkin Cranberry Scone Mix
  • Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
  • Pumpkin Greek Yogurt
  • Pumpkin Pancake & Waffle Mix, Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix
  • Pumpkin Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Icing
  • Pumpkin Spice Coffee
  • This Pumpkin Walks Into A Bar (cereal bars)
  •  
    Snacks

  • Pumpkin Brittle Chips
  • Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels
  • Iced Pumpkin Scone Cookies
  • Pita Chips With Cranberries & Pumpkin Seeds
  • Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps (crackers)
  • Pumpkin Joe Joes (sandwich cookies)
  • Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
  • Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte Mix
  •  

    Lunch & Dinner

  • Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli
  • Organic Canned Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin Ale
  • Pumpkin Cornbread Mix
  • Pumpkin Croutons
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice (to season sweet potatoes, squash,
    rice)
  • Pumpkin Soup
  • Toasted Seed Pumpkin Oil (for grains, salads, vegetables)
  •  
    Dessert

  • Ginger Pumpkin Mini Mouthfuls (ice cream sandwiches)
  • Pumpkin Bar Baking Mix
  • Pumpkin Biscotti
  • Pumpkin Bread Pudding
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  •  

    Pumpkin-CreamCheese-traderjoes-230

    Pumpkin cream cheese is a seasonal favorite at THE NIBBLE. Photo courtesy Trader Joe’s.

  • Pumpkin Ice Cream
  • Pumpkin Macarons
  • Pumpkin Pie Mochi Ice Cream
  • Pumpkin Pie and Mini Pumpkin Pies
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice
  •  

    Plus…

  • Mini Decorative Pumpkins
  • Orange Pumpkins
  • Pumpkin Body Butter (skin care)
  •  
    Head for the store!

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: barkTHINS Chocolate Bark

    bark-thins-stacked-230

    barkTHINS: thin and rich. Photo courtesy
    Ripple Brands.

     

    There are several reasons to love barkTHINS:

  • The delicious varieties, crammed with inclusions* (see the list below).
  • The thin pieces that, unlike conventional bark, let you have half as much.
  • The Fair Trade certification (FairTradeUSA.org) that helps poor farmers.
  • The everyday affordability (yet it’s great for party favors and stocking stuffers.
  •  
    October is National Fair Trade Month, the perfect time to feature barkTHINS as a Top Pick Of The Week (here’s more about Fair Trade certification).

    The line debuted in 2012. Unlike traditional chocolate bark that is thick and hard to break, barkTHINS are thin slivers of chocolate that are easily snap-able—easier to eat, fewer calories in your chocolate fix, more flexibility as a dessert garnish (well, that probably wasn’t their intent but it’s a use we employ regularly, by crowning a scoop of ice cream or breaking into pieces for mix-ins).

     

    *The industry term for what many people call “mix-ins.”

     

    barkTHINS FLAVORS

    Each variety is as delicious as the next, depending on your flavor preferences. We were personally thrilled with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel, a limited edition for holiday season. The packages have a shelf life of 12 months, so if you can’t live without it, you can stock up until the new batches arrive for the next holiday season).

    Feast upon:

    • Dark Chocolate Almond With Sea Salt
    • Dark Chocolate Blueberry & Quinoa (sweetened with agave)
    • Dark Chocolate Mint
    • Dark Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel (Limited Edition)
    • Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed
    • Dark Chocolate Toasted Coconut With Almonds
    • Milk Chocolate Peanut
     

    bark-thins-pkgs-230

    A great party favor, stocking stuffer, teacher gift, etc. Photo courtesy Ripple Foods.

     
    The bags stand upright for presentation as party favors. You can stick a place card on the front; you can tie a ribbon through the shelf-hanger opening at the top for added festiveness or to hang on the tree.
     
    Check the store locator for a retailer near you (including Costco, H-E-B, King’s, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Whole Foods Market and numerous others), or head to Amazon.com.
     
    WHAT IS FAIR TRADE CHOCOLATE?

    A Fair Trade certification guarantees consumers that the farmers who grow the product are getting paid a fair price. In many areas of the world, middlemen buy up crops at a price that often is the same or less than what it cost the farmer to grow it, resulting in a cycle of poverty. Under Fair trade, farmers can increase their incomes and gain afford education and healthcare for their families.

    When you make a conscious decision to seek out Fair Trade products, you are helping hard-working people raise their standard of living. You can feel good about every bite and every sip (look for Fair Trade coffee, tea and hot chocolate, too).

    Fair Trade certification also means that the farmers are following good agricultural practices and are investing in their farms and communities. To learn more, visit FairTradeUSA.org.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pumpkin Seed Brittle

    pumpkin-brittle-zulka-230ps

    Surprise friends and family with some
    pumpkin brittle, garnished with a drizzle of
    chocolate. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    Here’s aother delicious recipe from our friends at Zulka sugar: pumpkin brittle. Enjoy it by itself, with a cup of tea or a pumpkin spice latte. Make a batch to celebrate Halloween, or to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.

    You can customize the recipe by adding other seeds—nutritious chia, flax, hemp, nigella or sesame, for example. We actually prefer the deeper flavor complexity of a pumpkin-sesame seed mix. Just keep the total of all seeds to two cups.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN SEED BRITTLE WITH
    CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 8 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  •  

    Preparation

    1. SET out a cookie sheet and top with a silicon baking mat or wax paper. Lightly oil the mat or wax paper.

    2. COMBINE the sugars, butter, salt and water in a sauce pan over medium-high heat; stir. Once the butter is completely melted, stir again and clip on a candy thermometer and heat to 300°F.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda. Add the pumpkin seeds and stir well. Quickly spread over the mat or wax paper and spread to the edges with a lightly oiled silicon spatula. Let cool 30 minutes. Gently break into pieces.

    4. POUR the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals until the chocolate chips are fully melted, stirring as they get more melted until smooth. Spoon the melted chocolate into a baggie or disposable pastry bag and snip a very small piece off one corner. Drizzle over the brittle pieces. Chill the brittle to set the chocolate. Store in an airtight container.
     
    Find more delicious recipes at Zulka.com.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Marich Sugar Free Candy

    What’s Halloween like for people who can’t have sugar?

    While there’s no sugar-free candy corn (because candy corn is essentially sugar, corn syrup, color and flavoring), there are other sugar-free treats, from Gummies, hard candies including Cinnamon Buttons, Jelly Belly jelly beans, Jolly Ranchers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and much more (for a great selection head to BlairCandy.com).

    Or, you could go gourmet at Marich.

    Marich Confectionery makes a lot of the all-American candies sold in bulk in better candy stories: bridge mix; caramels and toffees; chocolate-covered coffee beans, fruits and nuts; Holland mints, licorice; and our favorite malted milk balls.

    Some of the most popular items are available in sugar-free versions: Sugar Free Chocolate Bridge Mix, Sugar Free Chocolate Espresso Beans, Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Almonds and No Sugar Added Chocolate Cherries (the cherries themselves have natural sugar).

    Whether for Halloween gifts or for the holidays, in eight-ounce, ribbon-tied bags ($10.50, $11 for the cherries), we love these for gifting.

       

    caramels-cherries-SF-230

    Sugar-free treats Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    bags-230s

    Easy sugar-free gifting. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    LOOKING FOR SOME SUGAR?

    From the regular line, two items great for stocking stuffers or party favors are two-ounce boxes of:

    • Christmas Holland Mints (red, white and green, $2.50)
    • Cinnamon Spice Apple Caramels ($3.00)
    • Pumpkin Spice Caramels ($3.00)

    The line is certified kosher by by KOF-K.

    Dig in at Marich.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Veggies More Flavorful

    Vegetable lovers tend to love their veggies cooked in any way: grilled roasted, steamed, stir-fried, however. Others need more convincing to eat their minimum three servings of veggies a day. (Serving recommendations vary by age group. Here’s the latest government Food Pyramid.)

    One way to get people to eat more vegetables is to combine them with popular flavors. That doesn’t mean fried zucchini and ketchup, however. Here are several better-for-you ways to amp up the flavors and make veggies sexy. They come from Flavor & The Menu, a magazine that delivers ideas and trends to professional chefs.

    FOR GREEN SALADS & SLAWS

    Here are four ideas to that add appeal to your salads:

  • Garnish or toss a green salad with shredded cheese or toasted nuts/seeds and fresh or dried berries. If you don’t have time to make a salad from scratch, buy a ready to eat salad or slaw mix.
  • Caramelize your lettuce. Grill romaine hearts as a base for your salad. You can lightly grill other salad ingredients (bell peppers, tomatoes) or simply add croutons, shredded cheese or any other ingredients. Here’s a recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad.
  •    

    masala-cauliflower-paperchef-230

    Yummy caramelized cauliflower. Photo courtesy PaperChef.com.

  • Serve crudités as a first course—baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florets, snow peas and other favorites—with hummus, a simple aïoli (garlic mayonnaise—here’s the recipe) or balsamic vinaigrette dip*.
  • Make wilted salads: Add a warm dressing to spinach, kale or a baby braising greens mix. It will slightly wilt the greens. Here’s a recipe hot bacon vinaigrette that you can use with lettuce, kale or other greens.
  •  

    *Easy balsamic vinaigrette recipe: Blend together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 3/4 cup olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper (or to taste). Optional: Add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic and/or fresh parsley or other herb.

     

    pancetta-hazelnut-green-beans-goboldwithbutter-230

    Some bits of bacon and sautéed onions add
    great flavor to green beans. Photo courtesy
    Go Bold With Butter.

     

    FOR COOKED VEGGIES

  • Add umami elements to roasted, steamed or sautéed vegetables: bacon, Parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, sautéed onions or soy sauce (flavor it with minced ginger, garlic and chives/green onions). Fish-friendly families should try chopped anchovies, anchovy paste or Asian fish sauce*.
  • Caramelize your veggies. Caramelization is what happens when the natural sugar in a food break down under heat and forms new compounds. The food turns brown and becomes caramel—a broad term that extends to more than just candy and sauce. Roasting, grilling and pan-searing add flavorful caramelization and soften the bite of vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. You can even cramelize a slaw mix. Here’s how to caramelize.
  • Please the spice-lovers with Asian flavors like sweet chile sauce, Sriracha and kimchi. Use chili and Sriracha sauces in your recipes or as condiments. Mix kimchi—Korean pickled vegetables—with grains, potatoes and vegetable medleys.
  • Stir-fry sturdy greens (those which have tough ribs and leaves, such as bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, collards, kale, mustard greens, spinach) to create an easy side dish or a bed for proteins.
  • Create a colorful warm “salad” using on-trend healthy vegetables such as sliced or diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash, beets and kale.
  • Pan-sear sliced mushrooms with shallots, then add cream and cheese for an elegant à la carte addition to steaks and chops.
  •  
    Read more about food, glorious food at GetFlavor.com.

    †Fish sauce was the favorite condiment of the ancient Romans (read all about it). Today, it remains a favorite condiment in Asia, with each country varying the recipe: Vietnamese nuoc nam, Thai nam pla and Cambodian tuk trey, Burma’s ngan-pya-yem, Korea’s jeotgal, Laos’s nam pa and The Philippines’ patis and bagoong. Related products include the Malaysian shrimp paste belachan and a similar product in Myanmar called nga-pi.

      

    Comments

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