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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Bread Pudding

Dessert lovers know the comfort of a rich bread pudding, a way to top yesterday’s bread with custard and cook it in a casserole dish into something sublime. (“Casserole” has a broad definition: simply, a side dish or stew cooked slowly in an oven.)

Leave out the sugar and you have a savory custard, to be served as a side with dinner.

Bread pudding originated in the 11th or 12th century as a way to use stale bread. Pieces of bread were cut or torn, combined with other ingredients (cheese, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables, bits of meat), topped with custard and then baked until the top was set but the inside was soft and creamy.

  • Bread pudding is closely related to the Italian dish, strata. The difference is that stratas are typically made with more eggs than cream, making them eggier and more breakfasty. They are savory dishes.
  • Bread puddings are made with a more equal ratio of eggs and milk—a custard. They can be either sweet or savory.
  • You can also make individual bread puddings in ramekins or custard cups.
  • Stuffing and dressing are savory bread puddings.
    Also see our related article on savory custard.


    Bread Pudding

    Spinach and garlic bread pudding. While most recipes blend the bread with the other ingredients, in this version it sits on top. It makes for a prettier presentation. Here’s the recipe, from Food & Wine.

    We’ve provided one recipe below that uses applewood smoked bacon, but here’s an assortment of delicious options from Food & Wine.

  • Artichoke Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Butternut Squash Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Cranberry, Pecan & Bacon Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Mushroom, Leek & Parmesan Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Savory Sausage and Cheddar Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Spinach Bread Pudding With Lemon & Feta Recipe
  • Spinach & Garlic Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Spinach-Shiitake Bread Pudding Recipe
    The following recipe is from La Brea Bakery, which suggests it to accompany the Thanksgiving turkey or any roasted meats. They make it with their Organic Rustic French Loaf.

    But the great thing about bread pudding is that you can use any bread, or a mixture of breads. In other words, if you have leftover baguette, challah and cornbread, toss them together.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/savory bread pudding labrea ps 230

    Applewood smoked bacon and Italian parsley
    flavor this savory bread pudding recipe from
    La Brea Bakery. Photo courtesy La Brea



    Prep time is 60 minutes, cook time is 120 minutes.

    Ingredients For Nine 3″x3″ Pieces

  • 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces applewood smoked bacon
  • 4 ounces whole cooked chestnuts
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 French loaf of other bread

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. CUT the bread into 1” cubes, removing the crust; place in a large bowl. Pour the chicken stock over the bread and stir to wet all cubes. Allow to sit for a half hour, stirring occasionally to be sure all the liquid is absorbed.

    3. CHOP the chestnuts coarsely. While waiting for the bread to soak, place a medium pan over medium heat and add the bacon and chestnuts. Stir occasionally and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is golden but not yet crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.

    4. PICK the leaves of the parsley from the stems, chop coarsely and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly with a whisk and add the cream, celery salt, pepper and chopped parsley, continuing to whisk until well combined. Add this mixture and the chestnuts-bacon mixture (use a rubber spatula to get everything from the pan) to the bread cubes and stir to mix well.

    5. SPRAY the inside of a 9” baking pan with cooking spray and fill with the bread mixture, making sure to spread evenly to fill the pan and create a level top surface. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

    6. SERVE immediately or allow to cool completely for serving later. If serving later, reheat by covering with foil and place in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes, or until warmed through.



    THANKSGIVING: Healthier Ingredients That Are Easy Switches

    Chef Gerard Viverito is a culinary instructor and operator of Saveur Fine Catering, a company whose beliefs and center on local, sustainable and organic foods. He has a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully.

    Here’s what he shared with us regarding preparation of a healthier Thanksgiving meal.

    1. Buy a turkey that is 100% bird.

    Order an organic pasture-raised bird from a butcher or a local farmer. Most store-bought frozen turkeys have been injected with a solution made from added sugar, salt and artificial flavorings, that increases their weight by up to 12%. Look closely: These birds must be labeled as “basted,” “marinated” or “injected.” Additives are not allowed in fresh turkeys.

    2. Ditch the boxed stuffing.

    That familiar stuffing in the red box contains partially hydrogenated oil, the primary source of trans fats. Nix all the prepackaged stuffings—many contain trans fats or other unhealthy ingredients—and pick up some day-old bread. Have the kids help by tearing the bread into pieces the night before. Create a family tradition with homemade stuffing.


    Thanksgiving Dinner

    A great meal without trans fats and additives. Photo courtesy

    Pass up the canned crescent rolls.

    Refrigerated dough products including crescent rolls often contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), as well as emulsifiers such as monoglycerides and diglycerides which may also contain trans fats. Easy drop biscuits take just 15 minutes to make and require just a handful of ingredients.

    Another thought: With all the food on the Thanksgiving table and rich desserts to follow, do you really need bread?



    Make your own pie crusts. Store-bought
    crusts often contain trans fats. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.


    Rethink the mashed potatoes.

    Don’t take the easy way out and use instant potato flakes. They may also contain trans fats.

    Chef Gerard suggests a move beyond mashed potatoes to mashed root vegetables. If your crowd is sophisticated or health conscious, they may actually prefer it.

    Cook a medley of potatoes, parsnips and celery root, flavored with garlic and nutmeg, and mash away.

    Avoid the gravy packets

    Many powdered gravy mixes contain partially hydrogenated oils as well as monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate and artificial colors. Prepare your own gravy by whisking a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into the turkey drippings.


    Don’t Buy Prepared Crusts

    Frozen pie crusts are one of the worst trans fat offenders. If cake is a family favorite, beware of trans fat-rich canned frosting.

    Thanks, Chef Gerard!



    RECIPE: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

    Bread pudding is a Southern classic that can be tweaked to become a fall special with the addition of pumpkin purée.

    This recipe, from Heidi of FoodieCrush, not only adds the pumpkin, but tops the bread pudding with a bourbon pecan sauce.

    Says Heidi: “With bourbon pecan and caramelized pecans topping a bread pudding made from cinnamon-raisin bread, this dessert is destined to become a classic.”

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 60 minutes.

    See the history of bread pudding below.


    Ingredients For 8-10 servings

    For The Bread Pudding

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-pound loaf cinnamon-raisin bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
    For The Bourbon Pecan Sauce

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup bourbon or other whiskey

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter.

    2. WHISK together the eggs, heavy cream, pumpkin purée, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl, stirring until smooth.




    TOP PHOTO: Will Pumpkin Bread Pudding become a new Thanksgiving classic? Photo courtesy Foodie Crush | Go Bold With Butter. BOTTOM PHOTO: Pastry chefs at top restaurants make pumpkin bread pudding, too. This upscale treatment, with crème fraiche ice cream and rum-spiced cherries, is from Chef Toni Roberts. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Star Chefs.

    3. ADD the bread cubes and let stand 5 minutes. Pour into the baking pan; bake 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center is set. (The bread pudding will puff as it bakes and will deflate once it’s cooled from the oven.)

    4. MAKE the bourbon pecan sauce: Add the cream, egg yolks and sugar to 2-quart saucepan and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture thinly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and let the mixture stand, stirring often as it cools. Meanwhile…

    5. MELT the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the pecans. Cook 4-5 minutes or until the butter browns and exudes a nutty aroma. Stir the browned butter and the pecans into the cream mixture. Stir in the whiskey.

    6. SERVE the bread pudding warm, drizzled with the bourbon pecan sauce. The sauce may be made a day in advance and refrigerated.


    Panettone Bread Pudding

    Bread pudding made with panforte, the
    classic Christmas bread. Photo courtesy
    Bauli. Here’s the recipe.



    Bread pudding, a dish created to use stale bread (as were French toast and fondue among others), has humble roots. But it has evolved into an American comfort food that you can find at diners and upscale eateries alike, made simply or elaborately.

    Food historians trace the history of bread pudding to the early 11th and 12th centuries, as frugal cooks looked for ways to use stale, leftover bread instead of letting it go to waste. In 13th century England, bread pudding was known as “poor man’s pudding,” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes.

    The dish consists of cubes of bread and any added ingredients (raisins, chocolate chips citrus zest and so on), covered with custard sauce and cooked. It can be made in the oven, stove top, a crock pot, microwave or grill.

    There’s lots of opportunity for creativity, from the type of bread to the inclusions. Beyond bread, you can use anything that’s left over: brioche, buns and rolls, coffee cake, croissants, donuts, Danish and muffins.

    We often buy a challah, just to have day-old bread for bread pudding. We also love a cinnamon-raisin loaf, as used in this recipe.

    And don’t forget the booze: Grand Marnier or other liqueur, rum or whiskey.



    RECIPE: Gingersnap Biscotti

    A gift of homemade biscotti for your Thanksgiving host is especially thoughtful. Biscotti last for several weeks in an airtight tin, so the host family has a treat to look forward to after all the leftovers have been consumed.

    Annalise of Completely Delicious created these White Chocolate Gingersnap Biscotti after her grandmother’s gingersnap recipe.

    “These gingersnap biscotti have all the spice and molasses flavor of my grandmother’s gingersnaps,” says Annalise, but with the extra snap and crunch of biscotti. And a drizzle of white chocolate is the final finishing touch.”

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 40 minutes. Thanks to, a treasure trove of delicious holiday recipes, for giving us the heads up on this one.


    Ingredients For 2 Dozen Biscotti

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  • 5 ounces high quality* white chocolate, chopped


    Gingersnap biscotti for the holidays. Photo courtesy Completely Delicious | Go Bold With Butter.

    *Look for Lindt or Green & Black’s white chocolate bars, Guittard white chocolate or chocolate chips. We found Valhrona white chocolate pistoles in clear containers at Whole Foods Market.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

    2. USE a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a hand-held mixer with a large bowl. Beat the butter and brown sugar on high speed until light in color and creamy. Mix in the egg, followed by the molasses.

    3. STIR together in large bowl the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture all at once and mix on low until incorporated.

    4. DIVIDE the dough in half and shape each piece into a log about 4 inches wide. Space the logs evenly on the sheet pan and flatten each log to about 2 inches high. Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.

    5. BAKE until the edges are golden and the surface is cracked, 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.

    6. SLICE the logs with a serrated knife into 1-inch thick slices. Place the slices cut side-up on pan lined with parchment paper and bake an additional 12-14 minutes until edges are brown. Let cool completely.

    7. MELT the chocolate in small heat-proof bowl in the microwave at 60 percent power for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. If not completely melted, continue to microwave the chocolate in 10 second intervals, stirring in-between intervals. Be careful not to scorch the chocolate.

    8. DRIZZLE the melted chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let them sit for 15 minutes before serving or storing. Store biscotti in airtight container at room temperature.


    White Chocolate Chips

    Callebaut White Chocolate Chunks

    TOP PHOTO: Look for Guittard white
    chocolate chips in your supermarket. Photo
    courtesy Lake Champlain Chocolate. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: You can buy chunks of Callebaut
    white chocolate at



    Created as a convenient non-perishable food for travelers and a staple of the diet of the Roman Legions, today’s biscotti are a classic dessert in Tuscany, accompanied by an amber-hued glass of vin santo*, a dessert wine. Americans enjoy them with a cappuccino or other coffee drink.

    Originally flavored with almonds (amaretti), then with anisette, biscotti are now made in dozens of flavors. Here’s Mario Batali’s favorite recipe for the classic amaretto and anisette biscotti.

    The word biscotto derives from “bis,” Latin for twice, and “coctum” or baked (which became “cotto,” or cooked, in Italian).

    In Roman times, unleavened, finger-shaped wafers were baked first to cook them, then a second time to completely dry them out, making them durable for travel and nourishment on long journeys. Pliny boasted that they would be edible for centuries.

    The record does not indicate that biscotti survived the sack of the Roman Empire. But they re-emerged in Tuscany during the Renaissance, credited to a Tuscan baker who served them with vin santo. Their dry, crunchy texture was deemed to be the perfect medium to soak up the wine.

    Centuries later, many still agree that dipping biscotti into vin santo is a perfect way to end a meal, or to while away an hour at a café. Biscotti and coffee are also a match made in Heaven.

    Italians call biscotti cantucci, and use the term biscotti to refer to any type of crunchy cookie—round, square and otherwise (as the British use the word “biscuit”). In North America, we use “biscotti” as the ancient Romans did, to describe a long, dry, hard, twice-baked cookie (in other words, cantucci).

    Here’s a longer history of biscotti.

    †Vin santo means “holy wine” in Italian, and was traditionally made in Tuscany. Most scholars agree that these wines were originally used for Holy Communion.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Harvest Topping, A Fall Garnish

    What’s Harvest Topping, you ask?

    As created by Country Crock, it’s a universal topping that can garnish anything from a baked Brie to a sundae to a crumble.

    Not to mention oatmeal, French toast, pancakes, waffles and yogurt. It’s also a salad topping. And we even mixed it into rice!

    Country Crock recommends it with mascarpone cheese on sliced multigrain baguette (toast the slices), garnished with Harvest Topping over top for a delicious snack. It works with cream cheese and ricotta, too.

    Sweet and spicy, it can be your go-to garnish for the rest of the season. The allspice is a nice change of pace from the ubiquitous seasonal cinnamon.

    Harvest Topping is easy to make, and it will keep in an airtight container for a month or more. You can turn it into a house gift with a mason jar and a ribbon.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.


    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons Country Crock Spread, unsalted butter or oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

    crop Country Crock_Harvest Topping_dailymeal-230

    One garnish has many uses, from a Brie appetizer to dessert. Photo courtesy Country Crock.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients in a medium bowl, mixing well. Arrange in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are golden brown.

    3. USE immediately, or let cool before storing in an airtight container.
    Find more holiday recipes at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Plate Painting For Your Dessert

    If you patronize fine restaurants and order dessert, you’ve probably noticed the “plate painting” that turns a piece of cake, tartlet or other pastry into a piece of art.

    But it’s not just for baked goods: Custard, pudding, even fresh fruit can also benefit from an artistic touch.

    In most cases, the plate is painted before the dessert is placed on top. With a sauce, for example panna cotta with creme anglaise, the dessert is placed atop the sauce and then the sauce is decorated.

    The idea is not only to create art, but to add more flavors to the dessert. Everything you use should be a flavor match to the dessert, and should be consumable with a fork or spoon.

    This article from Wilton shows all the easy ways to start.

    The simplest thing is to use a sieve to cover the dessert plate with cocoa powder (shown in the Wilton article). But you should also try:


    Fill a squeeze bottle with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce or other flavor, and squeeze out squiggles, loops, curls or zigzags. You can use two different sauces for contrast. This video shows you how.


    Fruit coulis (coo-LEE, French for strained purée) in a squeeze bottle; parchment paper to make the piping cone. You won’t believe how easy it is to make flame and heart patterns on your plate.

    This video shows how easy it is to make dots with fruit purées.

    You can also use both of these techniques to decorate the frosting on top of cakes.


  • Go for a contrasting color. For example, a chocolate dessert is enlivened by raspberry coulis or caramel sauce—or both. As you get more comfortable, use two or three colors.
  • Add different textures. For example, berries, cookie crumbs, streusel, mini marshmallows and/or macarons or pomegranate arils, artfully placed on the plate, contribute both aesthetic and fun factor. One of our favorite ways to add color is to dice pâte de fruits (French-style fruit jellies—very upscale Chuckles) and scatter different flavors on the plate.
  • Don’t cramp the elements. Depending on how many components are on the plate, use a dinner plate or charger to spread them out.
  • Combine with other garnishes, like creme anglaise or whipped cream.
  • Don’t give up. If you want to decorate but don’t think that you have any ingredients on hand, look again. Jam can be diluted to approximate coulis; baking chips can be melted (they’ll harden on the plate, but that’s OK; or you can add vegetable oil to keep them fluid. And there’s always an apple or orange on hand to dice and scatter; or some candy that can be employed.




    Dessert Plate Painting With Chocolate

    FIRST PHOTO: A simple scroll design. Photo courtesy SECOND PHOTO: Anyone can make a simple zigzag with a squeeze bottle. Photo courtesy Wilton. THIRD PHOTO: You can turn dots into hearts with the nozzle tip. Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon. FOURTH PHOTO: Pretty soon, you’ll be able to do this. Photo courtesy Harvest On Hudson.

    This video shows how to make a complex design, but also gives you all the technique for simple squiggles.

    Remember: Practice makes perfect. You don’t need a steady hand to start; but the more you try, the more you’ll be able to do. Practice on desserts for family dinners, or with snacks like brownies.

    And above all, have fun with it!



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dingel’s Oven Shortbread & Gingerbread (The Best!)

    Dingel's Oven Shortbread

    Three-inch monogrammed shortbread tiles,
    with a back coated with salted caramel.
    Photo courtesy Dingel’s Oven.


    A few months ago we were introduced to Dingel’s Oven, located in Beaverton, Oregon. What a find! And what a solution to gift-giving throughout the year. Because anyone who receives a box of cookies from Dingel’s Oven will look forward to another one, and another, and another.

    Bakers Uta and Ego specialize in the most delicious shortbread cookies and gingerbread cookies. Both are made in three-inch square “tiles” with crimped edges and a large monogram in the center.

    The cookies themselves are perfection, made even more perfect because each batch is hand-baked to order. In a cookie tin (provided by you), they’ll last for more than two months. That would be a theory, because no mere mortal can resist devouring them.

    But in the name of research, we’ve kept a few for almost three months now. While not as perfect as the fresh-baked—for example, the terrific fresh butter flavor we initially tasted is now a normal butter flavor—they are still delicious. No one who hadn’t tasted the originals would know the difference.

    The cookies freeze well, too.


    Salted Caramel Shortbread Tiles

    The shortbread tiles have a surprise: The bottom of each cookie is covered with salted caramel. Shortbread and salted caramel together is wedded bliss.
    Glazed Gingerbread Tiles

    Requests for the gingerbread tiles continue beyond the holiday season, so the cookies are available year round. Centuries ago, ginger was expensive and a holiday splurge; that’s why gingerbread is associated with Christmas. Today, there’s no reason not to enjoy it year-round—especially with memorable cookies like these.
    Cookie Details

  • Many companies say that they only use the freshest, simplest, purest ingredients of the highest quality. That may be so; but Dingel’s Oven ingredients are even fresher and higher in quality. The butter in the shortbread really sets the bar, as does the ginger in the gingerbread.
  • The cookies are sold by the dozen. One dozen 3″ x 3″ cookies are $24.
  • The recipes contain no peanuts or nut products. No artificial additives, preservatives or extenders are used whatsoever. Sorry, but there is no gluten-free option.
  • Your personal message will be written on a gift card. For corporate gifts, the card can feature a 4-color logo.
    But don’t tarry. Since every the cookies are hand-baked to order, the bakers need two-week lead time for the holidays; and as much lead time as possible is greatly appreciated.



    Think of Dingel’s Oven tile coookies year-round for:

  • Bachelorette parties
  • Wedding favors
  • Baby showers
  • Corporate gifts
  • Custom cookies for any occasion
    Instead of an initial monogram, you can have a logo or other image on your cookies.

    Thank you, Dingel’s Oven, for creating a memorable cookie that solves just about all gift-giving needs.


    Gingerbread a la Mode

    Serve the cookies à la mode, with vanilla, coffee or rum raisin ice cream. Photo courtesy Dingel’s Oven.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Thanksgiving Table Decorations

    Thanksgiving Table Decorations

    Use grocery store items to decorate your Thanksgiving table. Photo courtesy Foragers Market | Brooklyn.


    Some people like a flower centerpiece for their table. Others take out the silver candelabra.

    We’ve done both, but realized that they can interfere with sight lines across the table. They’re also very 20th (and 19th) century.

    So in recent years we’ve tried:

  • A glass vase or clear salad bowl filled with pomegranates, lady apples, clementines, fresh green leaves and metallic-sprayed pine cones.
  • A short glass vase layered with different whole nuts, with florists’ moss between the layers.
  • A stack of three flat winter squash—like flatter pumpkins— in different colors (look in farmers markets for the Bonbon Buttercup, Flat Boer Pumpkin, some Hubbard and Kabocha, and other heirloom varieties).

  • Flat winter squash covered with silver and gold metallic paints.
  • A three-pound chocolate turkey, which was hammered into pieces at the end, and the pieces sent home with guests as party favors.
  • Indian corn and autumn leaves, which lasts a long time as household decor.
    While the first idea is our favorite, our guests deserve variety from year to year.

    So this year, we’re adapting an idea from Foragers Market, to scatter the table with miniature pumpkins, decorative gourds and rosemary sprigs.

    After dinner, the gourds go into a glass bowl or basket to decorate the foyer; the rosemary sprigs go into the freezer to use again on the Christmas table or to garnish cocktails, mineral water or soft drinks; or in recipes.

    You can use the same concept for Halloween.

    Need more ideas?

    Here are 45 Thanksgiving centerpieces from HGTV.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Fiori di Sicilia, Fior Di Sicilia

    Fior di Sicilia, an Italian essence that translates to “flower of Sicily,” was used by our friend Ruth’s mother to flavor almost everything she baked. Biscotti, brioche and sweet breads, cookies, cheesecake, angel/pound/sponge cake, pie, macarons, meringues, yellow and white cakes got the fior di sicilia treatment, especially during the holidays.

    Ruth’s mom no doubt inherited the tradition from her mother and grandmother, who were born in the old country. Italians use it to add flavor and aroma to panettone, pandoro and ricotta cookies.

    The essence is a combination of floral, citrus and vanilla extracts, with a lovely floral aroma. Some Americans might identify the scent and taste as an elegant take on “Creamsicle.” Most will find it beguilingly mysterious, and will ask you what the taste is. (Note that essences from different manufacturers may vary. One friend notes flavors of lemon, lime and strawberry in her brand.)
    Is It Fiori Or Fior Di Sicilia?

    The terms are used interchangeably. We see bottles with both the singular, fior di sicilia, and the plural, fiori.


    Fiori Di Sicilia, Fior Di Sicilia

    Fiori di Sicilia adds floral and citrus “mystery” to baked goods. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

    How To Use Fiori Di Sicilia

    We like to use it to add something special to holiday baking. Add a half teaspoon of fiori di sicilia to a basic cookie or cake recipe. If that isn’t enough for you, use more next time. If the half teaspoon seems meager, it’s because the essence is potent, and should be used with light touch.

    Other popular holiday uses:

  • Biscotti
  • Butter cookies and shortbread
  • Cream cheese and ricotta fillings
  • Hot tea, sparkling water
  • Pound cake and layer cake
  • Ricotta cookies
    We’ve been known to add it to a cup of warm milk (hot or warm milk is a better-for-you comfort food for us). You can add your sweetener of choice to create a cup of “hot fiori di sicilia.”

    In the summer, add it to iced tea and fruit soup.

    You can try it in a one-ounce size ($9.95) from King Arthur Flour; there’s also a 4-ounce size ($19.95). The smaller size is a nice stocking stuffer for people who bake.


    Christmas Butter Cookies

    Christmas butter cookies with fiori di sicilia. Here’s the recipe, from King Arthur Flour.



    Thanks to King Arthur for developing these delicious recipes:

  • Holiday Butter Cookies Recipe
  • Lemon Brioche Recipe
  • French Toast Recipe
  • Cranberry Nut Fruitcake Recipe
  • Lemon-Glazed Pound Cake Recipe
  • Meringues Recipe
  • Pandoro Recipe
  • Panettone Muffins Recipe
  • Panettone Recipe
  • Shimmer Cookies Recipe
  • Orange Shortbread Cookies Recipe
  • Springerle Cookies Recipe
  • Spritz Cookies Recipe

    There are 60 more fiori di Sicilia recipes at Enjoy the voyage of discovery.



    FOOD FUN: Kermit Eggplant

    Kermit is the name of a small, green eggplant, bred in the U.S. from the round Thai eggplant. It is also known as Garden Egg and Bitter Ball, the latter since they grow bitter the longer they are off the stalk.

    But some clever American, probably selling the eggplants or the seeds, gave it the name “Kermit” after Kermit the Frog. They’re adorable, small and green, just like the frog.

    A member of the Nightshade Family, Solanaceae (as are the tomato and the potato), Kermit is a variant in the genus and species Solanum melongena, to which all eggplants belong.

    These golf ball-size eggplants average 1½”-2″ in diameter (an American golf ball is 1.68 inches).

    Kermit and all Thai eggplants differ from other eggplants not only in their size and shape, but also in that they can be eaten raw, and have tender, edible skin.

    When you’re Kermit, it’s tasty being green, with quick-cooking, meaty flesh.

  • In Thai dishes they are often halved or quartered before cooking, but can also be cooked whole. They hold their shape well.
  • As they cook in a sauce, such as green or red curry (or marinara, for that matter), they become softer and absorb the flavor of the sauce.
  • Add them to stewed dishes or stir fry them and serve with marinara and Parmesan, or other favorite sauce.
  • Kermits are eaten raw in Thai salads or with nam phrik, a hot and spicy Thai chili paste. One might say that dipping raw Kermits into nam phrik is a form of Thai crudités. Try them that way, and also sliced into your salad.

    Kermit Eggplant


    TOP PHOTO: The Kermit eggplant. It’s easy being green. Photo courtesy Foragers City Grocer | New York. BOTTOM PHOTO: The namesake. Photo courtesy


    Like other eggplants, Kermits are high in fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, thiamine and vitamin K. They are also low in calories and have no fat or sodium. Two eggplants have 25 calories.

  • Thai Green Curry With Kermit Eggplants Recipe
  • Tomato & Kermit Eggplant Ragu Recipe
  • Stuffed Kermit Eggplants recipe

    The shelf life of Kermit eggplants is typically shorter than other varieties. Once picked they should be refrigerated in plastic, for no more than 1 week. They become increasingly bitter as they age.

    You may want to try growing them at home. Eggplant is easy to grow, with big yields. You can buy seeds here.



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