THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

FOOD FUN: Slab Pie Art

Since the old-fashioned slab pie started trending a few years back, almost every fruit pie we’ve made has been a slab pie. Why? They’re sooooo easy!

A slab pie is a shallow pie that’s baked in a jelly roll pan or a rimmed baking sheet. It has a much higher crust-to-filling ratio than a standard pie, so it’s definitely for the crust-loving crowd, or the hand pie-loving crowd.

When we want a lot of fruit, we make a cobbler or crisp (the difference).

MORE SLAB PIE BONUSES

  • Since less filling is needed, a slab pie stretches pricey fresh fruit.
  • It feeds quite a few more people than a standard 9-inch pie: almost as much as two pies, in fact.
  • Only 1 crust is needed. Although some people make a lattice or two-crust slab—which affords picking up the square and eating it like a slab pie—we roll out just one crust and make a streusel.
  • It’s easy to cut and serve.
  • It gladly accepts all the standard pie garnishes: caramel sauce, chocolate shavings, crème anglaise/custard sauce, ice cream, whipped cream, a wedge of sharp cheddar, etc.
  •  
    READY, SET, BAKE!

    You can use any fruit filling in a slab pie with this slab pie recipe template. Head for the summer fruits:

  • Berries: single-berry or mixed berry. Here’s a recipe for a raspberry slab pie; just add your berry mix of choice.
  • Stone fruits (cherry, nectarine, peach, pear, etc.).
  • Black mission and other figs are also in season, and delicious in a pie topped with vanilla ice cream. Might we suggest a tablespoon of orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier) in the filling?
  •  
    You’ve got the weekend ahead of you: Pick your slab pie.

     

    Mixed Berry Slab Pie

    [1] Take a tip from Pamela’s Products: Make a super-easy slab pie and unleash your inner artist with cookie cutters and a sharp paring knife.

    [2] The typical slab pie has a plain or lattice top crust (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).

     
    Then get out your cookie cutters and a sharp paring knife, and create a flower garden top crust (photo #1) or other design.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Tomato Chutney

    Heirloom Tomatoes
    [1] Turn summer tomatoes, ripe off the vine, into…

    Tomato Chutney
    [2] Tomato chutney! (Photo 1 courtesy Okonomi | Brooklyn, photo #2 courtesy Jamie Oliver).

    Tomato Chutney

    [3] This authentic Indian version has chili powder, garlic, garam masala and ginger. Here’s the recipe from Smart Cooky.

     

    August is the best “tomato month” of the year. Aside from eating them raw with just about anything, what else to do with the crop of summer tomatoes?

    Among your many options, make some tomato chutney. It’s a delicious summery treat to:

  • Spread on breakfast toast, or as a condiment with eggs.
  • As a condiment on burgers, grilled cheese and other sandwiches.
  • Instead of ketchup, anywhere.
  • On grains, potatoes and vegetables.
  • With a cheese plate.
  •  
    It’s also a welcome house gift, and keeps for up to 4 weeks in the fridge.

    In the following recipe, one pound of tomatoes doesn’t make a whole lot of chutney. Do a test batch—it’s an easy recipe—to decide how much you want to make.

    Since the chutney cooks up into a jam-like consistency, you can also use very ripe tomatoes that are often better priced. You can use one variety, or a combination of assorted tomatoes (including different colors).
     
     
    RECIPE: EASY TOMATO CHUTNEY

    Ingredients Per Pound Of Tomatoes

  • 8 ounces red onions
  • 1 pound local tomatoes
  • 1 fresh red jalapeño (1-2 tablespoons) or equivalent milder* chile
  • 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro‡
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL and finely slice the onions; roughly chop the tomatoes; and de-seed and finely slice the chile.

    2. PLACE all ingredients in a pot, season to taste and stir well to combine. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until jammy.

    3. POUR into a clean† jar and let cool.

    ________________

    *If you want no heat at all, use red bell pepper.

    †Since this is not a recipe for canning, the jar doesn’t have to be sterilized. However, to ensure cleanliness, use one that has been run through the dishwasher.

    ‡You can play with accents such as basil, garlic, lemon or lime zest and other favorite flavors.
    ________________

    WHAT IS CHUTNEY?

    Chutney is a spiced condiment, served as a side dish, that originated in India. Chatni is the Hindi word for strongly spiced. It is made of fruits or vegetables; and is typically served as an accompaniment to food (i.e., not as a spread).

     
    Fruit chutney consists of chopped fruit (tomato is a fruit), vinegar, spices and sugar cooked into a chunky sweet-tart-spicy mix. According to one explanation, it “blurs the Western distinction between preserves and pickles” [source].

    Some of the most common Indian chutneys are made with coconut, mango, peanut, sesame or the ground herbs, such as coriander or mint. The spice level of chutney can range from mild to hot, and the consistency from a fine relish to a preserve or conserve.
     
    A QUICK HISTORY OF CHUTNEY

    Historically, chutneys were only served by everyday folk on special occasions such as weddings. It was more of a staple for the wealthy. That’s because in the era before stoves, it was a time-consuming undertaking: The chutney was slowly cooked under the hot Indian sun over a period of several days, until it was deemed to have attained the right flavor and consistency.

    This method is still employed in modern India, in homes which do not have stoves. “Solar cooking” is even specified in recipes for those who do have them.

    Each region has its own recipes, using local ingredients.

    Simple spiced chutneys, similar in preparation to pickles, have been dated to 500 B.C.E. This method of preserving food was subsequently adopted by the Romans.

    Beginning in the late 17th century, fruit chutneys from India were shipped to European countries like England and France as luxury goods. These were largely mango chutneys in sticky syrups, packed into ceramic pots.

    European cooks made their own [affordable] versions, substituting peaches or melons for pricey imported mangoes.

    By the 18th century, chutneys made in England were exported to to colonies in colonies Australia and North America.

    By the 19th century, many chutneys were manufactured in India specifically for export to Europe—including Major Grey’s, perhaps the best-known brand in the U.S.

    The recipes of these exports conformed to British tastes rather than to Indian authenticity; that is to say, they were generally sweet and lacked the intense flavors, saltiness, or peppery heat preferred in India).

    Today, thanks to the growth of Americans of Indian ancestry, a wide variety of chutney is available in the U.S. Do try the savory varieties, such as cilantro and mint. They’re delicious—and sugar-free.

    Here’s more of the history of chutney.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Something For National S’mores Day

    This yummy holiday is celebrated annually on August 10th, a combination of graham crackers, toasted marshmallows and chocolate bars, a favorite campfire treat of Girl Scouts since the early 20th century.

    The popular of s’mores has had contemporary home cooks cooking up everything from s’mores ice cream, ice cream cakes, ice cream sandwiches and pies; to bark, brownies, chocolate bars, cookies and fudge; to s’mores cocktails.

    The high point must be the s’mores kits sold by artisan chocolatiers and marshmallow makers, including homemade graham crackers (so good, that the big brands are like cardboard in comparison—here’s a recipe to bake your own).

    The low point may be Kellogg’s Smorz and Post’s Honey Maid S’mores Cereal, which cons parents into allowing their kids to breakfast on chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker bits.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF S’MORES

    We don’t know who invented S’mores, but the Girl Scouts certainly popularized them. The first published recipe is in their 1927 handbook.

    S’mores around the campfire has been a happy tradition: a stick, a fire, two toasted marshmallows, a square of chocolate and two graham crackers get you a delicious chocolate marshmallow sandwich.

    The combined flavors of toasted marshmallow, melty chocolate and crunchy grahams is oh-so-much tastier than the individual ingredients (or, to quote Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts).

    It is very possible that a Girl Scout or troop leader, sitting around the campfire toasting marshmallows, pulled out graham crackers and chocolate, brought along for snacking, and made the first sandwich.

    The name of the sandwich cookie comes from its addictive quality: You have no choice but to ask for “some more.”

    But you don’t need a campfire, or even all of the classic ingredients, to celebrate with S’mores, as you’ll see below (skillet s’mores are so easy, you won’t miss the fire).

    Don’t have a heat source to melt marshmallows? Use Fluff or other marshmallow cream.

    It may be too late to throw a s’mores party on National S’mores Day, but it will be equally welcome on Labor Day or any other day of the year.

  • Here’s the s’mores party we threw last year. It’s a feast of substitutions, the opportunity for everyone to create signature s’mores recipe (add some banana slices, use chocolate-covered grahams, peanut butter cup instead of chocolate bar, etc.).
  • Here’s a template for a s’mores party, from our 2013 party.
  •  
     
    MORE S’MORES RECIPES

    Here are some s’mores recipes with twists that we’ve published, just a smattering of the thousands of s’mores recipes out there.

    Of course, the classic graham cracker sandwich with toasted marshmallows and a piece of chocolate is perfect as is.

  • S’mores Baked Alaska
  • Cinnamon S’mores and a cappuccino cocktail
  • Creative S’mores Recipes
  • Fancy S’mores (banana split, peach, peanut brittle etc.)
  • Grilled Banana S’mores
  • Gourmet Marshmallow S’mores
  • Ice Cream S’mores
  • Skillet S’mores (S’mores Fondue)
  • S’mores With Other Types Of Cookies
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake, Ice Cream Pie and Cupcakes
  • S’mores In A Cup Or Mason Jar
  • S’mores Cookie Bars
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake
  • S’mores On A Stick
  • S’mores On The Grill
  • Triscuit S’mores
  •  
    For tomorrow, the actual National S’mores Day, expect more recipes!

     

    Smores Ingredients
    [1] Ingredients for classic s’mores from Dandies, delicious vegan marshmallows.

    Smores In A Jar
    [2] Smores without the mess from Chef Eric Levine.

    Brownie Smores

    [3] A pastry chef’s s’mores: homemade brownie with graham chunks and homemade marshmallows, browned with a torch (photo courtesy Distilled NY.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Ensure The Tastiest Lobster

    Live Lobster
    [1] Fresh from the trap, freshly arrived at the restaurant (photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea).

    Lobster Dinner
    [2] No matter the original color of the lobster shell, it will cook up bright red (photo courtesy Sydney Fish Market).

    Lobster Dinner

    [3] Dining alfresco at Cliff House in Maine (photo courtesy Destination Hotels).

     

    Have you had your fill of lobster this summer?

    (Does anyone ever have his or her fill of lobster?)

    We’ve previously written about how to buy a lobster from the tank, if you’re taking it home to cook.

    If you’re planning to enjoy a lobster dinner at a restaurant, here are tips from a restaurant chef who specializes in lobster.

    When we first heard about Chef Shell, we thought it was a nickname complimenting his expertise with shellfish.

    However, he actually is Executive Chef Rick Shell, who oversees all culinary operations at Cliff House in Maine.

    If you’ve ever sprung for a pricey restaurant lobster, only to have it not live up to your expectations—not sweet, not tender—here is his advice.

    Lobster can evoke both casual and sophisticated dining memories. You can be at a picnic table, cracking lobster claws while sipping a cold microbrew; or at the most expensive restaurant in town, dining on lobster risotto with shaved black truffles.

    “There is no right or wrong way to enjoy this gift from the ocean,” says Chef Shell.

    But there are ways to ensure your lobster is memorable when you dine at a restaurant, he advises:

    Weight. Always choose 1-pound lobsters. The meat is the sweetest. Do not venture past the 1.5-pound mark. It’s better to have two smaller lobsters than a larger one. And those big lobsters, that look so impressive and portend a great experience? The least sweet, with the toughest meat.

    Preparation. Chef Shell boils the lobster, then places it on a wood fire to roast in the shell. Ask your server how the lobsters are prepared to compare techniques at different establishments.

    Chewiness. Lobster should be like velvet, not chewy or tough. Chef shell advises that the usual culprit is overcooking. You can’t tell if the lobster is overcooked until you take a bite, so tell your server to relay that the kitchen should err on the side of undercooking instead of overcooking. In other words: You want soft, succulent meat.

    Venue. Pick a place that sells a lot of lobsters: a good seafood restaurant. Even a steak house may be iffy. Look around: If you don’t see lobsters at many tables, it isn’t a fast-mover. It is more likely to be overcooked if the kitchen doesn’t turn them out in numbers; and if it’s a lobster tail instead of a whole lobster, it may come from the freezer.

    HOW TO EAT A WHOLE LOBSTER

    More tips from Chef Shell:

  • First twist the tail off over a bowl, to catch all of the sweet rich goodness of tomalley (the soft, green substance found in the body cavity of lobsters, that fulfills the functions of both the liver and the pancreas). It is a delicacy that lobster-lovers adore.
  • Flip the tail over and slide the meat out. Eat the tail meat first and let the claws stay intact. This helps to keep them warmer until you’re ready for them. Ready for the claws? Then…
  • Gently twist the claws away from the body. First take the smaller part of the claw and break it off. This will also drain away any extra water, so be ready for that.
  •  

  • Use a knife to crack open the claws a instead of a lobster cracker (nut cracker). It does a more efficient and clean job. Take the back of a knife and stand the claw lengthwise. Hit the back of it to split it in two and gently remove the tail meat. Remove the cartilage gently: Simply wiggle back and forth and it will come out.
  • On to the knuckles. This is the hardest part, and where lobster crackers are most useful. Squeeze the knuckle and try to push out the meat.
  •  
    Voilà!

    WINE & BEER PAIRINGS

    From beverage manager Caitlin Hula:

  • “Farmhouse saison beer is a fun pairing. Being from Maine, I highly recommend Allagash Saison or Peak Organic’s Ginger Saison. Both beers have tropical fruit, citrus and a peppery spice that pairs well with lobster.”
  • “If one wanted to go with wine, I suggest a full-bodied, fruit-forward white wine such as viognier.”
  •  
    NIBBLE TIP: Viognier (vee-ohn-YAY), from the Rhône Valley of France, is becoming much better known in white wine circles. It is now grown in California, Argentina and Chile, Australia and New Zealand. It is delicious with all fish and shellfish, including sushi.

     

    ABOUT CLIFF HOUSE

    Cliff House is a luxury oceanfront destination that looks out over the southern coast of Maine, just over an hour north of Boston and minutes from the famed sandy beaches of Ogunquit.

    It welcomed its first guests in 1872, long before there was a need for garages for automobiles. The property stretches across 70 oceanfront acres atop Bald Head Cliff, overlooking the ocean’s edge and Nubble Lighthouse.

    The beauty and serenity of the location offer a get-away-from-it-all escape. And then there’s the food.

    The Tiller restaurant is suspended above the ocean. With panoramic views, spectacular sunrises, romantic sunsets, and the Atlantic horizon, it offers the perfect Maine oceanfront dining experience.

    With lots of lobster, of course.

     

    Full Lobster Trap

    [4] Hauling the trap onto the lobster boat (photo courtesy Catch A Piece Of Maine).

    Cliff House

    [5] Cliff House in Maine, just an hour and a few minutes north of Boston (photo courtesy Destination Hotels).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Create An International Version Of Your Favorite American Sandwich

    August is National Sandwich Month.

    We love sandwiches so much, we created a glossary with the different types of sandwiches.

    It is true that the Earl of Sandwich was inadvertently responsible for creating the modern English sandwich. But what we recognize as a sandwich—bread and filling—likely dates to around 9000 B.C.E., when permanent settlements were established in the Middle East.

    The hunter-gatherers began to plant and harvest grain, which was turned into the first breads: unleavened flatbreads that were baked over an open fire. They were also “edible plates,” holding roasted meat or fish on the journey from pot to mouth.

    People would eat “bread and cheese” or “bread and meat”; they just didn’t call it by a formal name. Check out the (sandwich history).

    Since the original sandwich was Middle Eastern, put a spin on your favorite sandwich today.

  • Plan A: Adapt an American sandwich. Pick any international cuisine you like, and add elements of it to an American sandwich.
     
    Examples: turkey with curried mayonnaise, curried egg salad or tuna salad, jambon de Paris and brie instead of American ham and cheese, tuna salad with feta and kalamata olives (photo #1, recipe below), etc.
  • Plan B: Have a sandwich that originated in another country. Examples: French croque monsieur or croque madame (photo #2), Greek gyros, Italian panini, Venezuelan arepa (photo #3), Vietnamese bánh mì (photo #4).
  •  
     
    GREEK-INSPIRED TUNA SALAD

    This recipe (photo #1) takes the chief ingredients of the popular Greek salad (horiatiki) and adds tuna, creating “Greek tuna salad.”

    We adapted the recipe from one featured by Put On Your Cake Pants.

    Since local tomatoes are at peak now*, enjoy hefty slices on each sandwich.

    Ingredients For 2 Single-Decker Sandwiches

  • 1 can tuna (5 ounces), drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber (about 1 Persian cucumber)
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped (substitute other color)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta†
  • 1 tablespoon kalamata olives, pitted and diced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons oil-based salad dressing (red wine vinaigrette or bottled Italian dressing)
  • 2 leaves romaine lettuce
  • 1 medium tomato
  • Dried oregano to taste
  • Optional seasoning: lemon zest to taste
  • Optional toppings, mix-ins or garnishes: anchovies, capers, pepperoncini, sardines
  • Bread of choice: large pita pockets, crusty loaf, multigrain
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt†
  • 1 tablespoon milk†
  • Salt or garlic salt, pepper and dill to taste†
  •  
    _________________
    *When tomatoes are not in season, substitute 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes, mixed into the salad.

    †For a dairy-free sandwich, eliminate the feta and use a red wine vinaigrette dressing.
     
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the tuna, cucumber, feta, and dried dill in a bowl.

    2. MIX the dressing in a separate bowl: Greek yogurt, milk and salad dressing. Add to the tuna mixture and still until combined.

     

    Greek Tuna Salad Recipe
    [1] Greek tuna salad, a fusion of American tuna salad and Greek horiatiki (photo courtesy Put On Your Cake Pants).

    Croque Madame Sandwich
    [2] Croque madame from France: grilled jambon de Paris and gruyère cheese, dipped into beaten egg and sautéed in butter, with a fried egg on top (photo courtesy Eggs Fresh Simple).

    Pulled Pork Arepa
    [3] Pulled pork arepa (here’s the recipe from Serious Eats).

    Banh Mi Sandwich

    [4] Banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich inspired by French baguettes (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2017 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.