THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Grandma Hoerner’s Apple Pouches

Grandma Hoerner’s is a company that makes Big Slice Apples, one of our favorite new snacks and toppings.

Big Slice Apples were first cooked in Grandma Hoerner’s farm kitchen in Kansas in the late 1800s, made from apples straight from the orchard.

Grandson, Duane McCoy, rcalling the wonderful big slices of cooked apples from his youth, could find no commercial product like it. In 1987, after experimenting to replicate her recipe, he was ready to bring them to the world.

Big Slice Juicy Cooked Apples may be the best apple “sauce” you can buy. Thick slices of kettle-cooked apples resting in an a sauce made from reduced apple juice.

It is the way it was originally made with big slices of fresh apples, slow cooked, with only natural ingredients added. These are chunky apples that can be eaten with a fork, although a spoon will do.

The Big Apple Slices are all natural, non-GMO, HFCS free and slow cooked, using domestic apples—just as Grandma Hoerner made them. They are both a luxurious dessert or topping and a healthful grab-and-go snack—a great source of vitamin C and naturally gluten free.

The product, originally (and still) sold in 19.5-ounce jars, is now available in grab-and-go pouches—lots of them—in 4.5-ounce portions, 80 to 90 calories depending on flavor, for $2.50. We found 16-packs on Amazon, but not on the Grandma Hoerner’s website.

Three flavor lines focus on flavor profiles:

  • Pure Line, simply flavored: Apricot, Blueberry Pomegranate, Chai, Cherry Vanilla, Natural, Orange Ginger
  • Fit Line, with added nutrition: Banana, Mango & Hemp Seed; Peach, Green Tea & Aloe; Honey Berry Chia; Pineapple, Passion Fruit & Fiber, Raspberry Hibiscus & Green Coffee Extract
  • Luxe Line, with indulgent additions: Boysenberry Chocolate, Caramel, Cinnamon Candy, Cinnamon French Toast, Peach Bellini
    The only challenge is where to begin. We received samples of each flavor, and can’t decide what to re-order. We may have to proceed alphabetically!

    For starters, here’s how we enjoyed the different Big Slice flavors:

  • Breakfast: with cottage cheese, French toast, omelets, porridge, toast, yogurt, pancakes, waffles
  • Lunch & Dinner: as a condiment or side with fried chicken, ham, pork, turkey
  • Dessert: crêpes, ice cream/sorbet, parfait, pound or angel cake, tartlet shells
  • Snack: straight from the pouch, on a rice cake

    Grandma Hoerner's Big Slice Apples

    Pancakes With Grandma Hoerner's Apples

    Big Slice On Yogurt

    [1] A great grab-and-go snack. [2] A topping for pancakes and other breakfast foods. [3] A yogurt mix-in or topping (photos courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).


    Apple Tartlets

    [4] Time for dessert or company for tea? Fill tartlet shells for dessert (photo courtesy Grandma Hoerner’s).



    The pouches are available at Costco, H -E-B, Hy-Vee. Kowalski’s, Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix, Sprouts, Whole Foods Market, and more than 7,000 food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.

    You can buy them online at and in multipacks at

    A portion of the purchase to the A Sparkle Life, a non-profit organization aiding women in need.





    TIP OF THE DAY: It’s Easy To Bake A Caribbean Rum Bundt Cake

    Caribbean Rum Cake

    Caribbean Rum Cake

    Caribbean Rum Cake

    Butter Rum Flavor Lorann

    [1] A rum cake bundt, heavy on the rum (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] The rum is poured onto the cake and sits overnight to sink in. This recipe adds cinnamon to the rum syrup (photo courtesy [3] Lots of rum syrup make this cake very moist (photo courtesy [4] This butter-rum oil (not rum extract) adds another layer of deliciousness (photo courtesy Lorann Oils).


    Rum cake is a year-round treat, but we tend to make them in the fall. They go well with a hot cup of tea, and are welcome gifts.

    In the Caribbean, rum cakes are a traditional holiday dessert, descendants of figgy pudding and other Christmas puddings*.

    Rum cakes are descended from British holiday puddings, such as figgy pudding (plum pudding) and fruit cake. Traditionally, dried fruit is soaked in rum for months; but in modern recipes, just an overnight soak suffices.

    “If you’ve ever traveled to the Caribbean,” says King Arthur Flour, the premium baking ingredients company that sent us this recipe, “chances are you’ve had the amazing rum cakes that the islands are famous for. Sadly, these cakes are not often found in northern latitudes but this recipe is the closest we’ve ever had to the ‘real’ thing.

    “Yes, there is a lot of rum in this cake, definitely not for the faint of heart; but the texture and flavor are unbeatable—moist, rich and deeply satisfying. Whisk yourself away to white sandy beaches with this incredible cake.”

    Yes, this is definitely a potent cake (all real rum, no “rum flavor”), very moist and fragrant.

    If you have half an hour, whip one up. Prep time is 30 minutes to 40 minutes, bake time is 50 minutes to 55 minutes.

    In fact, make two: This cake freezes beautifully.


    Ingredients For 1 Large Bundt Cake
    For The Rum Cake Base

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup pastry cream filling mix or instant vanilla pudding mix, dry
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white or golden rum
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon butter rum flavor (recommended—this is not extract but oil)
  • 1/4 cup pecan or almond flour, for dusting baking pan

  • Cooking spray
  • Almond flour to coat pan
    For The Rum Soaking Syrup

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup white or golden rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    Optional For Serving

  • Crème fraîche
  • Mascarpone
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Whipped cream (we use half the sugar)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Spray a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle in the almond flour and turn the pan to coat evenly. Set aside.

    2. PLACE all of the cake ingredients except the rum, vanilla and butter rum flavoring in the bowl of a stand mixer. Blend on medium speed for 2 minutes scraping down the bowl after one minute.

    3. ADD the rum, vanilla and butter rum flavor to the batter and blend for another minute. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and spread level with a spatula.

    4. BAKE the cake for 50 to 55 minutes. You may smell the nut flour toasting at first, especially that which is not covered by the cake batter. When done, the cake will test clean on a cake tester. Bundt cakes, much deeper than layer cakes, are difficult to test properly with a short toothpick. If you don’t have a 7-inch cake tester (or longer), try a piece of dry, uncooked spaghetti or linguine. Let the cake rest in the pan to cool slightly while you prepare the soaking syrup.

    5. COMBINE the syrup ingredients, except the vanilla, in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a rapid boil; then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until the syrup thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

    6. POKE holes all over the cake with a skewer. Pour about 1/4 of the syrup over the cake while still in the pan. Allow the syrup to soak in, then repeat again and again until all the syrup is used. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow the cake to sit out overnight to soak in the syrup. When ready to serve…

    7. LOOSEN the edges of the cake and invert it onto a serving plate.



    Most serious bakers use unbleached flour, which is aged. But why did manufacturers start bleaching flour in the first place?

    Freshly-milled flour isn’t yet ready for baking. It improves with some aging.

    During aging, oxygen in the air reacts with the glutenin proteins, which eventually form gluten, to form even longer chains of gluten. These longer chains provide more elasticity and structure, the latter important for cakes.

    During this aging process—around four months—the fresh flour, which is slightly yellowish from carotenoid pigments in the endosperm, becomes paler as the pigments oxidize. This has no impact on the flavor or performance of the flour.

    Around the beginning of the 20th century, it became common for mills to use chemicals to speed up the aging process, producing more flour and requiring less storage space. Potassium bromate was commonly used, followed by bleaches like benzoil peroxide and chlorine dioxide, to approximate the whiteness of naturally aged flour.

    More recently, health concerns over the consumption of potassium bromate have led to its replacement with ascorbic acid.

    Here’s more about aged flour.


    Unbleached Flour

    [5] Bleached and unbleached flour can be used interchangeably in many recipes, but cakes and some breads require the springiness provided by the longer gluten chains in unbleached flour. Here’s a further explanation from Better Homes & Gardens.

    *Far from the creamy dessert puddings popular in the U.S., British puddings are cake-like, and can be baked, boiled or steamed. Savory puddings with meat were served as a main dish; sweet puddings evolved as desserts. In the 19th century, the boiled pudding evolved into today’s cake-like concept, such as the Christmas pudding that remains popular. While “pudding” is a generic term for dessert in the U.K., it has no relationship to the creamy milk-based American puddings. Here’s the difference.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Stop Apples, Bananas & Pears From Browning

    Sliced Apple

    Sliced Banana

    Sliced Pears

    Sliced Red Grapefruit

    What do these fruits have in common? Once sliced, they begin to discolor quickly. [1] Sliced apples (photo courtesy US Apple Association). [2] Sliced banana (photo courtesy [3] Sliced pears (photo courtesy USA Pears). [4] Squeezing citrus juice on cut fruit is just one of 6 techniques (photo courtesy Texasweet).


    Now that we’re into the cooler months and stone fruit and blueberry seasons are over, many people turn to apples, bananas and pears.

    You can eat them whole as hand fruit; or slice them to use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, etc. Or, you may be slicing them to prepare a pie or tart.

    But how do you stop them from turning brown?

    Browning of fruit is caused by the exposure of the flesh to oxygen. Enzymes in certain fruits react quickly with the oxygen in the air to oxidize, which turns the flesh brown. The discoloration doesn’t effect taste, but appearance.

    The solution is to limit that exposure.

    Anyone who has read a pie recipe knows to coat the cut surfaces with lemon juice, the strongest edible acid that can stop the enzyme reaction.

    This may be the best technique, but there are other techniques as well.


    Lemon juice is the standard in recipes and food articles, but other juices work, too. If you don’t have lemon juice, try:

  • Any other citrus juice—grapefruit, lime, orange, etc.—fresh squeezed, bottled or canned
  • Apple juice
  • Pineapple juice
    A half cup of juice will sufficiently cover two apples, bananas or pears. We brush the juice onto the sliced fruit with a pastry brush; a friend uses a small spray bottle (the travel-size used for cosmetics).

    You can also toss or immerse the fruit in the juice for a few minutes; but when they soak up the juice, they also soak up the flavor. If you don’t want tart flavor from lemon or lime juice, e.g., you can add some sugar.

    Once they’re coated in fruit juice, the slices will take much longer to turn brown. They will last without refrigeration in a plastic container for a few hours, but are best consumed the same day.
    In Fruit Salads

    The way to stop apples, bananas and pears in fruit salads from browning is to mix them with high-acid fruits: grapefruit, mandarins and oranges (the difference), pineapples, tangerines.

    Save the juices from slicing these fruits and add them to the bowl. They’ll stop the sensitive from browning.

    Lay the cut fruit on a plate or tray. Cut a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper to cover, and press it over the top of the slices, creating a shield from the air. This works best when the slices are roughly the same size.

    If you have a vacuum storage system—whether a heat-sealing system like InLife or hard a vacuum pump like Food Saver, you can create an air-free storage bag.

    A hack is to put the slices in a storage bag and squeeze out the air. Refrigerate until ready to use. If you have a bit of lemon juice to sprinkle in, so much the better.

    As a last resort, use club soda, seltzer water, soda water (the differences), or just plain water.

    Flavored waters can even add a hint of extra flavor.

    Soak the slices in the water/club soda. They don’t add flavor, so you can keep them in a lidded container until ready to use.

    Apples, bananas and other quick-to-brown fruits can also be coated with mayonnaise or salad dressing. These coatings block out the oxygen, which will also stop the browning process.

    If you’re making this type of recipe, you’re covered.


    Citric acid is the chemical in citrus juices that keeps cut fruits from browning (and also makes the fruit taste sour).

    It is sold in a purified form as a canning additive, to keep the cut fruits in the cans or jars from discoloring. Check at a health food store or a hardware store.

    However, we mention this as an FYI. It’s easier for home kitchens to use any of the above.

    Powdered vitamin C, used as a cold-fighting supplement, is a similar option. Dissolve it in water according to the package directions, and soak the fruit. You can also grind up a vitamin C tablet.

    Help is at hand: Immerse the discolored fruit slices in pineapple or grapefruit juice for 10-15 minutes.

    They won’t return to their pristine whiteness, but will lighten and look fresher.



    TIP OF THE DAY: French Toast With Pumpkin Swirl Bread

    One of our favorite comfort foods is French Toast. It’s easier to make and clean up after than pancakes and waffles, and we like the eggy factor. We can eat it for any meal of the day.

    Yesterday we made our first Pumpkin French Toast of the season, using Pepperidge Farm’s Pumpkin Swirl Bread, a seasonal limited edition.

    There are plenty of recipes for Pumpkin French Toast, You avoid time-consuming steps in from-scratch recipes: pumpkin puree, spices, raisins.

    There are even recipes to bake pumpkin swirl bread from scratch, as our friend Linda does (she also bakes her own cornbread for stuffing!).


    This aromatic, make-ahead French toast casserole combines cinnamon swirl bread and dried cranberries for a breakfast or brunch treat. You can reheat leftovers or serve them warm or chilled for dessert, with ice cream of whipped cream.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, chill time is 1 hour, bake time is 45 minutes. You can make most of it the day before and just bake it prior to serving.
    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 loaf (16 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Swirl Bread, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries or raisins
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups half and half or milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar or confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoon whipped butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

    1. PLACE the bread cubes and cranberries/raisins into a lightly greased 3-quart shallow baking dish.

    2. BEAT the eggs, half-and-half and vanilla extract in a medium bowl with a fork or whisk. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Stir and press the bread cubes into the egg mixture to coat.

    3. REFRIGERATE for 1 hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Serve with the butter and syrup.


    No matter what bread you use, this is our quick technique on the stovetop.

    We use ReddiEgg, a liquid egg product that has removed all cholesterol. It saves the time of cracking and whisking the eggs with milk, with “cholesterol-free” as a bonus.

  • 1 loaf (16 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Swirl Bread
  • 1 small container egg substitute, e.g. ReddiEgg or Egg Beaters
  • Butter for pan
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Optional garnish: butter pats, raisins, sliced almonds

    1. HEAT a fry pan or griddle and melt the butter. While the pan is heating…

    2. POUR the liquid egg into shallow dish and soak the bread slices thoroughly on each side. (Note: We like very eggy French toast. If you prefer the drier, crisper variety, soak briefly).


    Pumpkin Swirl Bread Pepperidge Farm

    Baked French Toast

    Pumpkin French Toast

    ReddiEgg Carton

    [1] A seasonal favorite: Pumpkin Swirl Bread. [2] Got time? Make Baked French Toast, a rich breakfast casserole (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Pepperidge Farm). [3] Quick French Toast: Just dip and fry (photo courtesy [4] ReddiEggs are ready to pour and have no cholesterol (photo courtesy NuLaid).

    3. FRY until golden brown on each side, turning once. Garnish as desired and serve immediately with butter and syrup. If you like the artistic touch (photo #2), slice and stack the French toast triangles.

    Nope! Here’s the history of French Toast, and more French Toast recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Fluffernutter & Fluffernutter Cookies For National Fluffernutter Day

    Fluffernutter Sandwich

    Marshmallow Fluff

    Kerfluffle Gourmet Fluffernutter

    Marshmallow Plant & Root

    [1] The classic Fluffernutter sandwich: peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff on white bread (photo courtesy Quaker). [2] Marshmallow Fluff was first sold commercially in 1910 (photo courtesy [3] Kerfuffle, a ready-to-spread all natural Fluffernutter blend (photo courtesy Kerfluffle Nut Butter). [4] The marsh mallow plant has pretty flowers, but the sap in the root makes marshmallows (or it did, until it was replaced by gelatin). Photo courtesy


    National Fluffernutter Day is October 8th, honoring the classic peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwich on white bread (photo #1).

    The original Marshmallow Fluff was introduced more than 75 years ago and is still made by Durkee-Mower Inc. Some brands call it marshmallow cream, others marshmallow creme.

    What’s the difference between cream and creme? Just the spelling. Creme is an Americanization of the French word for cream, crème? (pronounced KREHM).

    Why adapt a French word instead of good old American cream? Most likely adapted to make the dish sound more special. There’s no need to misspell and mispronounce another language’s word for cream. Unless it’s a French recipe, such as Coeur à la Crème, stick to cream.


    Marshmallow dates back to ancient Egypt. The marsh mallow plant that was plentiful along the banks of the Nile has a slippery sap that forms a gel when mixed with water. The Egyptians mixed the “juice” with honey to make a confection, reserved for the wealthy and the gods.

    The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder credited the sap with curing all sorts of diseases, and encouraged people to drink the juice daily, although it wasn’t very palatable (what happened to the honey?). Still, for centuries the sap was used to treat sore throats, skin conditions and other maladies.

    Marsh Mallow Sap Gets Replaced With Gelatin

    In the mid-19th century, a pharmacist in Paris came up with the idea of whipping the sap with sugar and egg whites into a light, sweet, fluffy throat remedy. A variation soon became popular as marshmallow candy.

    By the late 19th century, confectioners had determined how to mass-produce marshmallows, which included eliminating the sap entirely and replacing it with gelatin.

    Prepared gelatin was patented in 1845. In addition to setting aspics, it was desirable as glue, a use that also dates back to the marsh mallow plants of ancient Egypt.

    Prior to 1845, it was laborious to render and clarify gelatin from cattle and pig bones, skin, tendons and ligaments.

    Marshmallow sauces were popular in the early 20th century (see Marshmallow History). But to make marshmallow sauce or frosting required that the cook first make marshmallow creme.

    It was a two-step process: make a sugar syrup, melt marshmallow candy in a double boiler, and combine them with the syrup. But, the popularity created an opportunity.
    Commercial Marshmallow Cream Arrives

    In 1910 a marshmallow cream called Marshmallow Fluff was sold to ice cream parlors by Limpert Brothers, a company that still exists in New Jersey. You can see the original packaging here.

    Call greater Boston the home of marshmallow cream!

  • Brother and sister Amory and Emma Curtis of the Curtis Marshmallow Factory in Melrose, Massachusetts, created Miss Curtis’ Snowflake Marshmallow Creme in 1913. It was the first commercially successful, shelf-stable marshmallow creme. Curtis ultimately bought the Marshmallow Fluff brand from the Lippert Brothers (details).
  • In 1917, Archibald Query invented a creation he called Marshmallow Creme in Somerville, Massachusetts.
  • Marshmallow Fluff wasn’t the first marshmallow cream, but it’s the one that endured. More than 100 years later, the brand is still thriving.
    Unlike conventional marshmallows, which require gelatin (an animal product) or a seaweed equivalent to set, todays large marshmallow brands are kosher products made from corn syrup, sugar, water, egg whites, artificial flavor, cream of tartar, xanthan gum and artificial color.

    Marshmallow Fluff is certified kosher by OU, Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme by OK Kosher.

    Ricemellow Creme, manufactured by Suzanne’s Specialties, Inc., is a vegan equivalent.


    In 1917, during World War I, Emma Curtis published a recipe for the Liberty Sandwich, which consisted of peanut butter and Snowflake Marshmallow Creme on oat or barley bread. The recipe was published in a promotional booklet sent to Curtis’ customers in 1918, and is believed to be the origin of today’s Fluffernutter sandwich.


    You can make your own version of Fluff at home, with this recipe.

    Beyond the original (vanilla), you can make chocolate “Fluff,” gingerbread, etc.

    You’ll love the flavor from pure vanilla extract; and can make gift batches for Fluff-loving friends and family.



    Christine Fischer of Wry Toast created these Fluffernutter cookies and sent them to PB & Co., producers of gourmet peanut butters.

    Here are step-by-step photos on

    Prep time is 15 minutes for 15 sandwich cookies.

    We made substitutions, as noted below, to trade the salty elements (butter crackers, bacon) for sweeter ones (cookies and banana chips).

    Ingredients For 15 Cookie Sandwiches

  • 30 butter crackers (Ritz, Town House, etc.)
  • 5 tablespoons Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter (from PB & Co.)
  • 1/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff or other marshmallow cream
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bacon, cooked

    1. LINE a medium-size baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. SPREAD a small amount of peanut butter on half of the crackers/cookies, then a small amount of fluff on the other half. Sandwich together, then transfer to baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

    3. COMBINE the chocolate chips and coconut oil in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for approximately one minute until melted, stirring at the 30-second mark to avoid burning.

    4. REMOVE the frozen sandwiches from the freezer. Dip each halfway in melted chocolate, then return to baking sheet and sprinkle the bacon on top. Repeat until all sandwiches have been coated and topped, then return to the freezer until the chocolate is set, at least an hour.

    For The Crackers

    We tried these, all with very satisfactory results:

  • Graham crackers
  • Le Petit Écolier (Little Schoolboy) cookies (omit the chocolate chips)
  • Shortbread
  • Social Tea Biscuits
    For The Coconut Oil

  • Melted butter
    For The Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter

  • Plain PB or any flavor that beckons
    For The Marshmallow Cream

  • Actual marshmallows
    For The Bacon

  • Banana chips
    You’ve got a few days before National Fluffernutter Day to determine your favorite combination.


    Fluffernutter Cookies

    Fluffernutter Cookies

    Little Schoolboy Cookies

    Social Tea Biscuits

    [5] Fluffernutter cookies topped with bacon from Christine Fischer. [6] Preparing the cookie sandwiches (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Wry Toast Eats). [7] Le Petit Écolier biscuits topped with a chocolate bar were our favorite variations (photo courtesy LU). [8] Social Tea Biscuits are similar to Le Petit Écolier, without the chocolate bar (the recipe’s chocolate chips provide the chocolate (photo courtesy Nabisco).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Jarlsberg Cheese From Norway

    Jarlsberg Cheese Plate

    Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps

    Jarlsberg Wheel

    [1] Jarlsberg from Norway: the top special cheese in the U.S. [2] Jarlsberg Cheese Crisps in four flavors: Chipotle, Garlic & Herb, Mediterranean Sea Salt and Rosemary & Olive Oil. We’ve been enjoying them plain, with soup and salads, and with dips. [3] “What big eyes you have,” said Goldilocks to the Jarlsberg. Eyes is the industry term for what consumers call holes (photos courtesy Jarlsberg).


    Sixty years ago, a group of students and scientists at the Agricultural University of Norway decided to explore old legends and cheese-making traditions, and to create an old cheese with modern cheese-making technology.

    The origin of the modern cheese they created traces back to the early 1800s when Swiss cheese makers came to southern Norway to teach Norwegians how to make cheese.

    Norwegians began to produce their own cheese similar to Swiss cheese, but after the departure of the Swiss, the particular style did not endure.

    Fast forward: 1956 arrives, along with the students who had a project under the direction of their professor, Ole Martin Ystgaard of the Dairy Institute at the Agricultural University of Norway. Their project: to revive an old-style cheese.

    They studied ancient texts and recipes, experimented, and created a wonderful cheese they named Jarlsberg® (pronounced YAHRLS-berg).

    It was named after Count Vadel Jarlsberg, whose countship was created in 1673. His estate was located near where the earlier version of the cheese was first produced.

    A mild, semisoft, part skim, pasteurized cheese made from cow’s milk, Jarlsberg has been beloved from the beginning for its mild, sweet and nutty taste and the appeal of its large round holes (eyes).

    It is Norway’s most famous edible export, the #1 cheese imported to the U.S., and the #1 specialty cheese* brand in the U.S.

    As a bonus to millions of Americans, it’s also lactose-free†.

    Bravo, Professor Ystgaard and team. Who wouldn’t love bragging rights to this creation: for oneself and for generations to come!

    Jarlsberg is one of the most versatile cheeses. More than a table cheese and sandwich cheese, it can be:

  • Melted for cheese sauces, fondues, gratins, grilled cheese sandwiches and rarebits/rabbits (here’s how to melt cheese).
  • Shaved as a garnish for salads and soups.
  • Used for cheeseburgers (so much tastier than American cheese!), mac and cheese, omelets, quiche and other cheese tarts.
    The line has expanded to include:

  • Hickory Smoked Pre-Sliced Jarlsberg.
  • Grab-and-go mini cheeses for snacking (voted Men’s Health Best Snack Award for 2014 and 2015).
  • Jarlsberg Cheese Snacks (shaped like string cheese).
  • Jarlsberg Lite, a reduced-fat rindless cheese (not a good melter—you need more fat to melt well).
  • Cheese crisps: cheese crackers in four flavors (photo #3).
    For starters, see some of the recipes below.
    *Specialty cheese is defined as a cheese of limited production, with particular attention paid to natural flavor and texture profiles. The opposite is factory cheese, mass-produced.

    Cheddar and authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano are the other two cheeses that are 100% lactose free.



    Each of the world’s cheeses is made from a specific recipe, which includes both the type(s) of cheese cultures and the production techniques. Both combine to deliver each cheese’s unique flavor, aroma and appearance.

    Jarlsberg enchants not only with its flavor, but with its eyes.

    Emmental, the first cheese with large eyes, is what Americans think of as Swiss cheese—although there are more than a dozen different types of Swiss cheese, including Appenzeller, Raclette, Gruyère, Tête de Moine, Tilsit and Vacherin Mont d’Or. (Emmental, Gruyère and Vacherin Mont d’Or are also made in France.)

    Some Swiss have eyes, some don’t.

    Some people find Jarlsberg similar to French Gruyère, which has holes. Modern-style Swiss Gruyère does not.

    The larger the holes, the more mature the cheese. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a stipulation that the “eyes” in “grade-A Swiss” can be no larger than 13/16 of an inch in diameter.

    Why? Because larger eyes can make the cheese difficult to slice on modern cheese-slicing equipment. The blades were catching on the large holes and shredding the cheese rather than slicing it.
    Why Does The Cheese Have Holes?

    The holes in cheese are a deliberate byproduct‡ of fermentation, the process by which milk is turned into the curds that are used to create cheese.

    They are the result of propioni bacteria, which cause gas to expand within the curd and create the holes’

    The longer cheese ages, the bigger the holes get, and the more intense flavor is developed.

    Head to for dozens of new and familiar recipes, such as:

  • Artichokes au gratin
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Cannelloni and other pasta dishes
  • Cheese and corn muffins
  • Crab fondue
  • Jarlsberg soufflé
  • Gravlax Eggs Benedict
  • Kale salad, chicken salad and other salads
  • Mac and cheese
  • Gratin, mashed and twice-baked potatoes
  • Nachos
  • Onion soup
  • Sliders
  • Waffle grilled cheese
  • White Pizzas

    Jarlsberg Eggs Benedict

    Jarlsberg Cheese Plate

    [3] Jarlsberg Eggs Benedict. [4] A Croque Monasieur sandwich made with Jarlsberg instead of Gruyere (photos courtesy Jarlsberg).


    ‡In recent centuries the eyes a deliberate part of recipes, and can be created larger or smaller. In the beginning, the eyes were a happy accident. They certainly do have eye appeal! (Pun intended.)



    COCKTAIL RECIPE: Pumpkin Martini


    Pumpkin Vodka

    [1] Pumpkin Pie-tini. Photo courtesy SandAndSisal, which uses a different recipe from ours, with whipped cream vodka, pumpkin eggnog and a rim of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. [2] Pinnacle is one of the brands of pumpkin-flavored vodka on the market. Pumpkin is a seasonal offering.


    Today is National Vodka Day, and it’s fall. So what better than a pumpkin martini?

    To make a true pumpkin martini, you’ll need a bottle of clear, pumpkin-flavored vodka and the other ingredients for your favorite martini recipe. We picked up a bottle of Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka, which gave a pumpkin-pie-spice accent to a standard martini. For garnish, we floated a star anise on top.

    Otherwise, you can make a Pumpkin Pie-tini with vanilla vodka and real pumpkin purée (top photo). If you want a spicier drink, use pumpkin pie filling instead of purée; pie filling includes the pumpkin pie spices.


    Make one of these as a test drink. You can then decide to vary the ingredients—more or less of something, pumpkin vodka, etc.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce cream, milk or eggnog
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée or pumpkin pie filling
  • ½ ounces vanilla vodka
  • 1½ ounces crème de cacao or vanilla liqueur
  • Ice and shaker
  • Optional glass rim: maple syrup, honey or water plus crushed biscotti, graham crackers or vanilla wafer crumbs
  • Optional garnish: sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice with or without whipped cream, or a cocktail pick with candy corn

    1. PURÉE the purée. Why? Pumpkin purée can be slightly grainy. For a smooth cocktail, run the pumpkin through a food processor or use an immersion blender in the can.

    2. CREATE the glass rimmer. Using a small amount of maple syrup, honey or water on the rim of the glass, place the rim on a plate of cookie crumbs and twist until the rim is coated.

    3. SHAKE the cream/milk and pumpkin puree with ice to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and shake well. Strain into the martini glass.


    All you need are vanilla beans and vodka…and 10 days to let them infuse.

    If you’ve had the vanilla beans for a while, check to see that they’re not dried out. If they are, get new beans and stick the old ones in a sugar jar, where they’ll lightly scent the sugar.

    If you don’t need an entire bottle of vanilla vodka, make half a bottle.

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 750 ml vodka
  • Empty glass quart jar with cap

    1. CUT the vanilla beans in half lengthwise to expose the interior as possible (that’s where the flavor is).

    2. POUR the vodka into the glass jar, retaining the original bottle for the final product.

    3. PLACE the vanilla beans in the jar, cap it tightly and shake gently. With a quart jar, the top 20% should be empty. Then put the bottle in a cool, dark place to infuse.

    4. STRAIN the vodka after 10 days. Use a funnel and a fine sieve, coffee filter or cheesecloth to strain the vanilla vodka into its original vodka bottle. You’re ready to go!


    TIP OF THE DAY: Beyond Taco Tuesdays & National Taco Day

    October 4th is National Taco Day, and this year it coincides with Taco Tuesday. What does that mean?

    Tacos for breakfast (recipe below), tacos for lunch, tacos for dinner, tacos for dessert. But first:


    SUrprisingly, the Aztecs did not invent the taco; nor did anyone else, until the 18th century.

    According to Professor Jeffrey M. Pilcher, author of Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, tacos are not an ancient food.

    Rather, as he discusses in an article in Smithsonian Magazine, Mexican silver miners in the 18th century likely invented the taco as a hand-held convenience food, followed by taco carts and taquerías in the working-class neighborhoods.

    As the taco spread throughout Mexico, each region added its own touches: meats, spices, salsas, garnishes.

    Mexican Americans in the Southwest reinvented it. As late as the 1960s, tacos were virtually unknown outside Mexico and the American Southwest.

    In 1962, businessman Glen Bell founded Taco Bell as a drive-up with a few outdoor tables. It grew into a mass-marketing powerhouse, serving an Anglo version with a hard shell at quick-service restaurants nationwide.

    This hard pre-fried corn tortilla shell (photo #2) is not authentic. Like the burrito, a larger wheat flour tortilla, it was born in the U.S.A.

    Yet within 50 years the United States had shipped its hard taco shells worldwide, from Australia to Mongolia—redefining the taco in the eyes of millions, if not billions.
    And Taco Tuesday?

    This American event was begun in in 1982 as a successful promotion by Taco John’s. It encouraged people to go out for tacos on Tuesday nights, and offered specials like $1 fish tacos.


    Mole Tacos

    Pre-Fried Taco Shells

    [1] An upscale taco in the classic mold. This one includes braised beef and mole sauce, with cottage cheese Here’s the recipe (photo courtesy McCormick. [2] Hard fried taco shells are an American invention. They stand up on their own (photo courtesy Old El Paso)!

    Since tacos are easy to make at home and popular with the whole family, Taco Tuesdays is also a frequent event in home kitchens.

    While Taco John’s trademarked the name, the trademark is no longer enforced. Now, it’s Taco Tuesdays for everyone!

    You may think that National Taco Day is a day to celebrate the classics; but as you do, put on your thinking cap and invasion the next great taco combination you can make.

  • Sophisticated tacos. Chefs at better restaurants are pushing their creativity to transfer icon dishes to tacos. Try these braised beef tacos in mole sauce (photo #1).
  • Put your own spin on it. Ground beef tacos became cheeseburger tacos, for example. Grilled, sliced steak is popular in northern Mexico, and our tony friend Ordway wanted to try the concept with filet mignon. We made them for his birthday, with a sauce of melted gruyère, crème fraîche and salsa verde, a Mexican-French fusion. (May we say, it was a silly excess but very appreciated by the birthday boy. We’ve since gone with braised short ribs or lamb shank—DEE-licious.)
  • Trio of tacos. Our favorite dish at our neighborhood Tex-Mex restaurant is a trio of tacos, each with a different filling. Why choose just one?
  • Specialty tacos for every occasion, like these corned beef and cabbage tacos for St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Sashimi tacos. Fish tacos are great, but sushi lovers will adore these sashimi tacos as well. The shell is made from wonton wrappers. Fillings can be anything you like. Haru restaurant in New York City serves three full-size tacos: tuna with cherry tomato salsa, salmon with avocado and striped bass with apple yuzu ceviche sauce.
  • Dessert tacos. Whether they’re in a sideways waffle cone resembling a hard taco shell, or in a waffle from your waffle maker, this is fun food. How can you resist? Here’s the recipe. Warning: It’s not the neatest ice cream sandwich to eat. It’s best served on a plate at the table.

    Breakfast Taco

    Breakfast Burrito

    Dessert Taco

    From breakfast to dessert: [3] Breakfast taco with scrambled eggs and sausage (photo courtesy Imusa, recipe below). [4] A DIY set-up from David Burke Fabrick | NYC. [5] A simple dessert taco in a waffle cone shell (photo courtesy Add as many toppings as you like. You can use a waffle maker to make a soft waffle shell.



    Unlike the American-invented breakfast burrito, essentially an egg-and-sausage wrap sandwich, this recipe is truer to Mexican preparations.

    There’s a fight between Austin and San Antonio over the origin of the breakfast taco.

    At first, it was a breakfast made at home: eggs, sausage or other pork and cheese, rolled in a warm tortilla. In Mexican kitchens, tortillas are a staple, like a loaf of bread.

    The concept then migrated to breakfast stands and restaurants, as far back as the 1950s.

    Thanks to IMUSA USA, a maker of kitchenware for global recipes—for this breakfast taco recipe. You can find more recipes on their website.

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 chorizo links (about 7 ounces), diced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup cilantro, divided
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar
  • 10-12 corn flour tortillas
  • Chipotle-flavored Tabasco or other hot sauce (substitute ketchup)

    1. MIX the sour cream, lime juice and salt in a bowl; put aside.

    2. CHAR the tortillas over a gas flame or directly on an electric burner until blackened in spots, turning with tongs. Place in a tortilla warmer or aluminum foil and set aside.

    3. ADD the olive oil to a nonstick sauté pan and bring to medium-high heat. Sweat the onions for about one minute and add the diced chorizo. Cook for 5-6 minutes until chorizo is browned.

    5. ADD half of the cilantro and all of the cooked chorizo to the beaten eggs. Blend and pour into the pan. Cook on low heat, stirring from time to time.

    6. PLACE the cooked eggs, cheddar, tomatoes and remaining cilantro in separate bowls and lay them out throughout the table with the warm tortillas. Let everyone build their own.




    FOOD FUN: Vertical Pear Salad

    Jessica, from The Novice Chef Blog, isn’t such a novice. She designed this elegant pear salad that is easy in its execution, yet dazzling on the table.

    You can vary the filling, the color of the pear, and/or the vinaigrette.

    If you prefer, you can make candied nuts instead of simply toasting them.

    For more vertical salads, see our vertical veggie ideas.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 smooth skinned pears)
  • 2-3 cups watercress, arugula or baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup toasted almond, pecan or walnut halves (how to toast nuts)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute blue or goat cheese)
  • Lemon juice
  • Vinaigrette dressing
  • Optional plate garnish: pomegranate arils
    For The Vinaigrette


    Pear & Blue Cheese

    So elegant, so easy: a vertical pear salad from The Novice Chef Blog.

    This salad begs for a sweeter vinaigrette. Use champagne, raspberry, sherry or white balsamic vinegars. Walnut oil is heavenly in this type of vinaigrette, but good olive oil is fine.

    Another option is to add a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup (a nice fall touch) to your usual vinaigrette.

    Whichever you choose, choose a ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.

    Here’s the best technique to make a vinaigrette that holds together without separating.

    1. SLICE the pears horizontally into 3 or 4 slices depending on the size. Leave the stem on the top piece.

    2. USE a paring knife to remove the cores, creating a “donut hole” in the middle. Brush the cut sides with lemon juice to keep them from browning. When you’re ready to serve…

    3. MOISTEN the watercress, pecans and blue cheese with the vinaigrette and toss to coat.

    4. ASSEMBLE the pears on individual plates, with the watercress salad in between each slice.

    5. DRIZZLE the vinaigrette on the plate around the pear, and serve.
    Thanks, Jessica: You rock!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Stack Your Vegetables

    Vegetable Stacks

    Stacked Fritters

    Stacked In Rocks Glasses

    [1] Stacked vegetables as short or tall as you like (photo courtesy Citrine World Bistro, late of Redwood City). [2] Stack polenta or fritters, like these from Like It Short (website no longer up). [3] If you don’t want to deal with ring molds, stack your veggies in rocks glasses (photo courtesy The Whole Gang.


    These look fancy, don’t they?

    But you can easily make vegetable stacks at home, even with leftovers.

    While many people currently are focused on stacked salads in mason jars, we’re freeing the veggies from the jar today, and serving them cooked as well as raw. Even those who don’t like their vegetables will be happy.

  • Serve stacked veggies as a first course, with the cheese course. You can add wedges of cheese to the plate, or slice layers into the stack (blue, brie, chèvre, feta, mozzarella, etc).
  • Serve them as a luncheon or dinner salad with a layer of protein (chicken, fish, protein salads [egg, crab, tuna, etc.], tartare, tofu, veggie burgers, etc.)

  • In ring molds. You want 3-4 inch rings, as tall as you can find so they can be used for short and tall stacks.
  • In rocks glasses.
  • In repurposed food cans, tops and bottoms removed*.
  • In lengths of PVC† plumbing pipes, cut to order at the hardware store.
    *Don’t worry about PVC leaching into your food. You’re not cooking/heating the rings, and you’re only using them for a couple of minutes to assemble, as opposed to plastic bottles that can hold water for months or years.

    †One of the problems with using the time-honored empty can for stacking is that many cans now have “formed” bottoms that stack more easily, but can’t be removed with a can opener. So don’t throw away expired canned food without checking to see if you can use the empty can! Also, look for the older can bottoms with foods from Mexico and Asia, from packing plants that still use the old technology.


    Ingredients can be whatever you want or already have, and in whatever form: cooked, puréed, raw.

    Be sure to vary the colors (you don’t want a stack of beige ingredients) and include pops of color.

  • Canned: beets, corn, water chestnuts
  • Color: red, yellow or orange bell peppers, tomatoes and all of these
  • Eggs: hard-cooked or Japanese omelet (tamago)
  • Fruit: sliced or diced (apple, mango, pineapple, etc.)
  • Garnishes: fresh herbs (try a dill or rosemary plume), chip, spiraled beets
  • Grains and starches: polenta slices, potato (diced, mashed, sliced), rice, quinoa, etc.
  • Greens: arugula, avocado, cress, spinach, spinach, zucchini, etc.
  • Plate garnish: chopped nuts, infused olive oil, seeds, microgreens
  • Sides: gourmet chips or crackers, toasted baguette slices
    Pinterest has a page of lovely stacked vegetable ideas.

    For The Dressing

    You need just a light sauce on the side: ramekins of balsamic vinegar, a vinaigrette, infused oil‡ or a vegetable oil blended with dark sesame oil (a little goes a long way).

    Also consider dipping sauces from Asia, such as chili sauce or ponzu. Both can be purchased or made at home.

    We also love a yuzu vinaigrette.

    1. CHOOSE your ingredients. Try for contrasting colors and plan your layers. Stack heavier items at the bottom.

    2. SPRAY the inside of the molds, if using, so the food slides out more easily.

    3. SET each stack on a serving plate, and garnish the plate with droplets of olive oil (especially flavored oil!).
    ‡A delicious alternative to a vinaigrette, infused oils are available in a score of flavors: basil, blood orange, chile (ancho, habanero, jalapeño), dill, garlic, Meyer lemon, lemon pepper, oregano, rosemary, truffle, scallion, wasabi, etc.



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