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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Appetizer Bites & Picks

Our friends at EatWisconsinCheese.com, the consumer site of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, spend their creative time developing delicious new ideas for cheese. We had a lot of fun with these picks and bites, which we served last night as an alternative to a cheese plate.

Picks are finger foods served on cocktail picks or toothpicks that holds the ingredients together. Bites are self-containing and require no pick. Both are easy to create and make a big impression.

Arrange a plate of contrasting colors, flavors and styles to serve with holiday cocktails. Or, serve them alongside soups or salads—for example, a shot of tomato soup with a Greek Salad Bite.

While they are delicious as is, you can enhance them with a variety of mustards and sauces. While we’ve provided a long list for your perusal, you can see them all online and download a recipe brochure.
 
Peruse the 44 options below and pick five or so for your hors d’oeuvre plate. And check out the dessert picks for a sweet finish.

   

shell-pick-230

Many hors d’oeuvre can be served on a pick. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

 

  • Antipasto Pick: Artichoke, Caper Berry, Salami Chunk, Red Pepper, Parsley Garnish, Sharp Provolone Cheese, Olive Oil
  • Antipasto Bite: Canned Artichoke Cup, Cubed Sharp Provolone Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper, Diced Salami, Capers, Olive Oil, Parsley Leaf
  • Asiago Egg Bite: Hard Cooked Egg White Cup, Egg Yolk, Red Pepper, Parsley, Green Onion, Asiago Cheese, Mayonnaise
  • Baby Pick: Baby Swiss Cheese Cube, Ham Chunk, Green Grape, Topped with a Pretzel Knot
  • BBLT Pick: Crustless White Bread, Brick Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayonnaise
  • Beef Roll Bite: Horseradish Cold Pack Cheese, Roast Tenderloin or Skirt Steak, Arugula Leaves, Red Bell Pepper Strips
  • Belgian Bite: Belgian Endive, Ricotta Cheese, Olive Tapenade, Parsley Garnish
  • Brie-O-Politan Pick: Bias-Sliced Cucumber, Bias-Sliced Roma Tomato, Bias-Sliced Brie Cheese Log, Arugula, Pitted Niçoise Olive
  • Caesar Bite: Small Romaine Lettuce Leaf, Thinly Sliced Romaine Lettuce, Caesar Salad Dressing, Cherry Tomato Wedge, Crouton, Shaved Parmesan Cheese, Anchovy Filet, Mini Lemon Wedge
  • Caprese Pick: Grape Tomato, Basil Leaf, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Ciligene
  • Club Sandpick: Sandwich Bread Slice, Monterey Jack Cheese Slice, Cucumber Slices, Ham Slice, Tomato Slices, Wisconsin Monterey Jack Slice, Leaf Lettuce
  • Cobb Pick: Bread Slice, Blue Cheese, Bacon, Cherry Tomato, Hard Cooked Egg Wedge
  • Cordon Blue Pick: Ham Slice, Cream Cheese, Red Pepper, Gruyère Cheese Cube, Mini Dill Pickle
  • Del Mar Pick: Fontina Cheese, Flat Leaf Parsley Leaf, Smoked Oyster, Pimento-Stuffed Olive
  • Dutch Pick: Medjool Date, Edam Cheese Chunk, Ham Slice
  • Gorgonzola Bacon Bite: Cooked Baby Red Potato Cup, Crumbled Gorgonzola Cheese, Bacon Bits, Sliced Green Onion, Mayonnaise
  • Gorgonzola Date Bite: Seeded Medjool Date, Gorgonzola Cheese Wedge, Prosciutto Slice Strip
  • Greek Salad Pick: Cucumber Chunk, Grape Tomato, Feta Cheese Cube, Pitted Kalamata, Olive Oil Drizzle, Oregano Garnish
  • Grinder Pick: Pepperoncini, Hard Salami Slice, String Cheese, Pimento Stuffed Olive
  • Ham & Cheese Pick: Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, Arugula Leaves, Sliced Ham
  • Half-Shell Bite: Oyster on the Half-Shell, Pico De Gallo, Crumbled Cotija Cheese, Cilantro Leaf
  •  

    parmesan-potato-bite-230

    An example of a bite: No toothpick required. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     
  • Monk Pick: Pretzel Roll Slice, Wholegrain Mustard, Gruyere, Les Frères or Muenster Cheese Slice, Mini Dill Pickle, Cocktail Onion
  • Monroe Bite: Pumpernickel Cocktail Bread, Limburger Cheese, Red Onion, Green Onion, Whole Grain Mustard
  • Muenster Beef Pick: Muenster Cheese, Sliced Roast Beef, Green Onion
  • Mushroom Pick: Pickled Mushroom, Ricotta Salata Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Capers, Parsley Garnish, Olive Oil Drizzle
  • Napoli Pick: Fresh Mozzarella Roll, Mascarpone, Pesto, Sliced Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper, Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Norwegian Pick: Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Cream Cheese, Lox/Cured Salmon, Baby Dill Garnish
  • Oscar Pick: Ham Slice, Garlic & Herb Cheese Spread, Crabmeat, Blanched Asparagus Spear
  • Parmesan Potato Bite: Cooked Baby Red Potato Cup, Shredded Parmesan Cheese, Bacon Bits, Diced Hard-Boiled Egg, Chives, Mayonnaise, Prepared Mustard
  • Peppadew Bite: Peppadew, Garden Vegetable Cheese Spread, Parsley Garnish
  • Potato Salad Bite: Red Potato Slice, Hard Cooked Egg Slice, Mascarpone Cheese, Dijon Mustard, Sweet Pickle Wedge
  •  

  • Pesto Pick: Pesto Gouda or Gouda Cheese, Basil Leaf, Grape Tomato, Chicken Breast
  • Roman Bite: Bread Coin, Oil Cured Tomato, Oregano, Romano Cheese Chunk, Cracked Black Pepper, Olive Oil Drizzle
  • Reuben Pick: Corned Beef Slice, Swiss Cheese Slice, Mixture of 1,000 Island Salad Dressing and Sauerkraut, Mini Dill Pickle
  • Rustica Pick: Mild Provolone Cheese, Salami, Pepperoni, Basil, Roasted Red Pepper, Pitted Kalamata Garnish
  • Smorg-More Pick: Caper Berry, Dill Havarti Cheese, Lox/Cured Salmon, Baby Dill, Lemon Wedge Garnish
  • Shrimp Bite: Bias-Cut Seedless Cucumber Slice, Mayonnaise Ketchup Mixture, Cooked Tail-On Peeled and Deveined Shrimp, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Pearl, Lemon Peel
  • Shell Pick: Fontina Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Roasted Red Peppers, Pepperoncini, Capers, Basil Leaf Garnish
  • Shooter Bite: Shot Glass, Pico De Gallo, Fresh Shucked Oyster, Crumbled Cotija Cheese, Cilantro Leaf, Lemon Peel Strip
  • Shrimp Pick: Thick Cucumber Slice, Cooked Shrimp, Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Pearl, Lemon Rind
  • Tapas Pick: Quince Paste, Queso Blanco Cheese, Serrano Ham, Green Grape
  • TexMex Bite: Corn Chip Cup, Salsa Jack Cheese Cube, Black Bean Salsa, Cilantro Garnish
  • Torte Pick: Camembert Cheese, Gorgonzola Cheese, Walnut, Red Grape
  • Waldorf Lettuce Bite: Small Bibb or Butter Lettuce Leaf, Gouda Cheese, Diced Celery, Diced Apple, Raisins, Chopped Walnuts, Mayonnaise, Lemon Juice, Parsley Leaf
  • Watermelon Pick: Watermelon Cube, Fresh Mint Leaf, Feta Cube, Watermelon Half-Ball
  • Wisconsin Pick: Sausage, Pepper Jack Cheese, Sweet Pickle, Cheddar Cheese Curd or Cube
  •  
    FESTIVE PARTY PICKS

    These special party picks will make your hors d’oeuvre even tastier:

  • Holiday party picks, silver and gold picks with a star on top
  • Christmas party picks: assorted red, green and white with Christmas trees on top.
  • Foil party picks: fun metallic fringe in blue, green, purple and silver for New Year’s Eve.
  • Conventional frilled party picks, with cellophane frills in bright colors for Thanksgiving.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Goat Cheese Sweet Potato Parfait Appetizer

    If you run with a gourmet crowd, here’s a suggestion for a first course that’s easy to make, yet impressive and unique. It is especially elegant when you use a ring mold to create a free-standing tower. However, an easy alternative is to layer the ingredients in a dessert glass or juice glass.

    You can find many more special recipes at VermontCreamery.com.

    RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE SWEET POTATO PARFAIT

    Ingredients
     
    For The Parfait

  • 3 medium apples
  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 1½ pounds)
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper*
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre), plain
  • 6 ounces crème fraîche
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
  •  
    For The Crème Fraîche Sauce

  • 4 ounces crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chives, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  •    

    sweet-potato_goat_cheese_parfait-vtcreamery-230b

    For a sophisticated first course: sweet potato and goat cheese parfait. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     
    If you can’t find crème fraîche at the store, you can make it from scratch from heavy cream and buttermilk, with this recipe.
     
    For The Salad

  • 1 cup celery leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black olives, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup celery, sliced on a bias about ¼ inch long
  •  
    Special Equipment

  • 6 ring molds, 2 inches in diameter by 3 inches high
  •  
    *White peppercorns are black peppercorns with the outer black skin removed. They lose some of the heat and flavor, which is contained in the skin. In the halls of haute cuisine, this was done to prevent black flecks of skin from marring the perfect whiteness of a sauce. However, today we live in a much more relaxed culinary society and are not bothered by black flecks.

     

    creme-fraiche-in-pail-beauty-vtcreamery-230

    Crème fraîche. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Season the apples and sweet potatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

    2. INDIVIDUALLY WRAP the sweet potatoes and apples in aluminum foil, and place them in the preheated oven. The apples will be tender in about 20 minutes; the sweet potatoes will need about 35 to 40 minutes of cooking time. Once they are tender, remove them from the foil. When the apples and sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and dice into ¼-inch pieces and set aside. While the apples and sweet potatoes are cooling…

    3. COMBINE the parfait ingredients, the chèvre and and the crème fraîche in a bowl and mix completely. Stir in the shallot and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve in the refrigerator.

    4. MAKE the crème fraîche sauce: Mix the crème fraîche, shallots, parsley, chives and lemon juice in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Twenty minutes before serving, remove the chèvre mixture from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

     

    5. PLACE a ring mold in the center of each plate and spread 1 tablespoon of the chèvre mixture in the bottom. Top the chèvre with the diced sweet potato, then add another dollop of chèvre, then the diced apple, another dollop of chèvre, then the diced sweet potato. Finish with a layer of chèvre.

    6. TOSS the celery leaves, slices of celery, black olives, and lemon together. Drizzle with lemon juice and lemon oil and season with salt and pepper. Top each parfait with a bit of the celery salad, and then remove the mold. Place the parfait in the middle of a plate and drizzle the crème fraîche sauce around the plate and decorate with celery. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Risotto

    pumpkin-risotto-andrea-watman-230

    Pumpkin Risotto. Photo courtesy Zabars.

     

    The Italian mother of a friend always serves pumpkin lasagna and pumpkin risotto at Thanksgiving, along with the turkey. In addition to combining traditions, they offer a bonus: enticing vegetarian options for people who won’t eat the turkey.

    This pumpkin risotto recipe is from Zabars’ late, great creative director, Andrea Watman. For a vegetarian dish, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

    Andrea makes the recipe memorable by serving individual portions in scooped-out small pumpkins, but you can go the traditional route and bring the risotto to the table in one serving bowl—or scoop out one larger, prettier squash like a buttercup or kabocha (see the photo below and check out the different types of squash).

    In terms of the pumpkin cut up for the risotto, Andrea suggests that you can use a jack-o-lantern pumpkin, cheese pumpkin pumpkin or butternut squash. (But for pies and desserts, The New York Times’ Melissa Clark tested different pumpkins and squash and gave a hands-down recommendation to butternut or acorn squash. Here’s the full article.)

     

    The risotto can be made as a main course, you can add mushrooms and even sausage meat (for a non-vegetarian version). Andrea’s recipe is easy to make. “Get ready to take a bow,” says Andrea, “because this is a crowd pleaser.”

    Here’s a more complicated pumpkin risotto recipe from Pom Wonderful, which uses pomegranate juice and arils.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN RISOTTO

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 6 small pumpkins (for serving)
  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1 cup mushrooms, sliced/diced
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Garnish: 4 ounces shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Optional garnish: fresh sage leaves, whole or chiffonade
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F.

    2. NEATLY CUT the tops off of the six serving pumpkins; remove the seeds and fibrous strands. Place the serving pumpkins and the pumpkin tops on a baking sheet. Lightly coat the inner flesh with olive oil (we used olive oil spray). Bake for 15 minutes; the skin will begin to wrinkle. Don’t overbake the pumpkins or they won’t hold their shape.

    3. BRING a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut up the medium pumpkin, remove the seeds and fibrous strands and peel the outer skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut into cubes and add to the boiling water. Cook as you would potatoes for mashing, about 20 minutes.

    4. DRAIN well; mash with 1 stick of butter. Do not add salt or pepper.

     

    pumpkin-risotto-berlucchi-61-franciacorta-230sq

    You can use a larger squash such as kabocha (shown) as a serving bowl. Photo courtesy Berlucchi ‘61 Franciacorta.

     

    5. HEAT the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan and sauté the chopped onion, garlic and mushrooms until tender. Do not brown.

    6. ADD the rice and stir with a wood spoon until the rice is coated. Then add 1 cup of white wine and 2 cups of stock, stirring continuously (or as often as possible) until all liquid is absorbed. Add the remaining wine and 1 cup more of stock and keep stirring. Once the liquid is absorbed add 1 more cup of stock, stir until absorbed and add the remaining stock if necessary. You want the rice to be cooked but not mushy.

    7. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the mashed pumpkin. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the remaining stick of butter and Parmesan. The rice will be almost creamy. Taste, and if you need to add salt or pepper, do it now.

    8. SPOON into the small pumpkins or a serving dish. Top with pumpkin seeds and optional sage; serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT & GIFT: Zhena’s Pumpkin Spice Tea

    Instead of a chocolate turkey party favor, this year we’re sending our Thanksgiving guests home with a tin of pumpkin spice tea from Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.

    Zhena blends caffeine-free rooibos tea (pronounced roy-boss) into a warm, soothing cup that mimics the flavors of pumpkin pie with vanilla, orange peel, and a trio of pumpkin pie spices: cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The line is organic, Fair Trade Certified and certified kosher by KSA*.

    Rooibos is a bush that grows in South Africa. The name means red bush in the Afrikaans† language; the leaves steep into a red-colored brew. Honeybush is a cousin to rooibos, also cultivated in South Africa. It is similar in flavor (slightly sweeter with a fuller body) but its flowers have the aroma of honey; hence the name.

    Rooibos is very healthy: no caffeine, high levels of antioxidants and low levels of tannin. Children—even infants—can drink it.

    We’ve been fans of Zhena’s since we first reviewed the teas in 2007 (here’s the review).

     

    zhena-pumpkin-spice-tea-230

    Caffeine-free tea to cap your Thanksgiving dinner or as favors. Photo courtesy Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.

     

    Zhena Muzyka is a proponent of giving back (a percentage of sales goes to very worthy causes), and was an early champion of sustainable, organic and Fair Trade agriculture. She sells more than 70 Fair Trade blends, which support the mission of providing better wages and working conditions for agricultural workers (more about Fair Trade).

     
    PARTY FAVORS & HOLIDAY GIFTS

    Airtight tins of 22 sachets are $6.67, with free shipping on orders over $35, at Amazon.com.

    For a sampler gift, Zhena’s Harvest Stackable has four tins, each with four sachets of Caramel Apple, Chocolate Truffle, Cranberry Bliss and Pumpkin Spice. They’re $8.99 at Zhenas.com.

     
    TEA TALK

    Learn the language of tea and be inspired to try different types of tea in our delicious Tea Glossary.

     
    *Some Zhena products are not certified kosher, however the rooibos teas are kosher.

    †Afrikaans is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa and Namibia and, to a lesser extent, in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It began to develop independently in the 18th century, an offshoot of several Dutch dialects spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes

    butternut-squash-mashed-potatoes-potatogoodness-230r-rev

    Combine butternut squash with mashed
    potatoes. Photo © United States Potato
    Board.

     

    What do you get when you combine Roughly mash potatoes with mellow butternut squash and finish with fresh sage leaves crisped in brown butter? A hit!

    This combination will be a crowd pleaser at the Thanksgiving table, as well as for family dinners throughout the fall and winter.

    RECIPE: SMASHED POTATOES & BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH BROWN BUTTER & SAGE

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound (3 medium) yellow-flesh potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves (2 to 3 inches long), stacked and cut across into ¼-inch strips
  • ½ cup or so milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COOK potatoes and squash: In 3-quart saucepan, cover the vegetable chunks with water; add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile…

    2. COMBINE 2 tablespoons of the butter and all the sage in small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Tilting pan and watching closely, cook about 3 minutes, until the butter foams and begins to brown. Keep warm.

    3. DRAIN the cooked potatoes and squash, return to pan and shake 1 to 2 minutes over low heat. Roughly mash with a hand masher, leaving the mixture chunky. Over low heat, gently mix in the remaining tablespoon of butter and enough milk for consistency desired.

    4. SEASON with salt and pepper. Spoon into a serving bowl and drizzle with the brown butter and sage.

     

    butternut-duo-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Butternut squash. Photo courtesy The Good Eggs.

     

    MASHED POTATOES VS. SMASHED POTATOES

    What’s the difference? Unlike mashed potatoes, which ideally are almost as smooth as a purée, smashed potatoes are a rough mash. More rustic (chunky) in appearance, they taste the same and require less labor to mash. A win!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Layer Cake Instead Of Pumpkin Pie

    pumpkin-layer-cake-driscolls-230

    An impressive pumpkin layer cake. Photo
    and recipe courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Few desserts are more impressive than a towering triple-layer cake. This beauty is paired with raspberries and brandied whipped cream.

    While Thanksgiving menus tend to favor pie (apple, mince, pecan, pumpkin, sweet potato) rather than cake, if you set a fancy table, this cake is a fitting ending to your feast.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, bake time is 25 to 30 minutes. Assembly time is 10 minutes.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN LAYER CAKE WITH RASPBERRIES
    & BRANDIED CREAM

    Ingredients For 10 To 12 Servings

    For The Cake

  • Softened butter and flour, for the cake pans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 can (15 ounces or 1-3/4 cups) solid pack pumpkin
  •  

    For The Brandied Cream

  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or Cognac (alternative: use vanilla extract)
  • Garnish: 3 packages (6 ounces or 1-1/3 cups) raspberries*
  •  
    *TIP: If the raspberries aren’t sweet enough, roll them in granulated sugar.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the pan bottoms with parchment paper (we like these the best—the pre-cut parchment rounds have handles for easy removal of the cake layer). Dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess.

    2. SIFT together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl.

    3. BEAT until foamy, in a large bowl with an electric mixer—on high speed, the granulated sugar, oil and eggs (about 1 minute). Reduce the mixer speed to low. In thirds, beat in the flour mixture, alternating with two additions of the pumpkin. Mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, just until smooth. Spread evenly into the cake pans.

    4. BAKE the layers until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on wire cake racks for 10 minutes (check out this three tier cooling rack). Run a knife around the inside of each pan and invert onto a rack to unmold the cake. Remove the parchment paper and turn right side up. Let cool completely. (The cakes can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

     

    raspberries-cartons-morguefile-230

    Fresh raspberries. Photo by J. Eltovski | Morguefile.

     

    5. MAKE the brandied cream: Use a medium bowl and an electric mixer on high speed to whip together the cream, confectioners’ sugar and brandy. Whip until the mixture is stiff. The cream can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours. If it separates, beat until stiff.

    6. ASSEMBLE. Set one-third of the raspberries aside to garnish the cake. Using a small knife, split the remaining raspberries down their sides so they can be opened flat. Put one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with one third of the cream and add one-half of the split berries. Add a second layer and repeat with another third of the cream and the remaining split berries. Top with the last layer of cake and remaining cream, garnish top with the reserved raspberries. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 hours (then the whipped cream starts to deflate). Serve chilled.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Gingerbread Mustard

    gingerbread-mustard-fallot-230

    Gingerbread mustard. Photo courtesy Fallot.

     

    For the holidays, how about traditional Dijon mustard mixed with gingerbread spices? It’s a French specialty.

    In French it’s called moutarde au pain d’epices; pain d’epices, which translates to spice bread, is the French word for gingerbread.

    Gingerbread is one of the specialties of the Burgundy region of France. So it’s no surprise that creative cooks decided to finely grind and mix it with honey and mustard.

    The subtly flavored mustard is delicious served with white meats or sausages, ham or pork. You can spread it on a sandwich, serve it with an omelet, turn it into a dip, or add it to a stuffing mix for roast chicken in a vinaigrette for for salad and crudités.

    It’s something special for a foodie holiday gift. We found the Fallot brand at BienManger.com and the Pommery brand on another website, website.

    Maille also makes a version with white wine, gingerbread and chestnut honey.

     

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Baked Potato Nachos

    Today is National Nachos Day. Here’s a twist on nachos from the United States Potato Board, which uses potatoes instead of tortilla chips.

    Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes.

    RECIPE: BAKED POTATO NACHOS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican seasoning blend (recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Toppings

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, Mexican-flavored cheese (jalapeño, habanero) or pepper jack
  • 1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 3 tablespoons canned diced green chiles
  •  

    SHORTEN-01

    Nachos with a twist: baked potatoes replace tortilla chips. Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

     
    Garnishes

  • Chopped avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Guacamole
  • Enchilada sauce for drizzling
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 425°F.

    2. WASH the potatoes, peel and slice into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Toss and coat with olive oil, garlic salt and Mexican seasoning.

    3. PLACE potato wedges in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stirring several times, until crisp and golden brown.

    4. REMOVE sheet from oven. Top potatoes with cheese, beans, tomatoes, olives, onions and chiles. Bake for 5 minutes more, until the cheese melts.

    5. SERVE with optional guacamole, salsa, sour cream, etc.
     
    MEXICAN SEASONING BLEND

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND all of the ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Revisit Nachos For National Nachos Day

    NAKED-NACHOS-230

    Naked Nachos: no cheese! Photo courtesy
    The Better Chip.

     

    November 6th is National Nachos Day, a snack created on the fly in 1943 at a restaurant in Mexico (the history is below).

    Here are three modern takes on the classic: Naked Nachos (without cheese), Cast Iron Nachos and Dessert Nachos.

    The recipes were developed by The Better Chip, whose delicious tortilla chips are round, colorful and a great platform for snacks, Made from double corn masa, 40% fresh veggies and enhanced with a smidgen of sea salt or natural seasoning for a better tasting and better dipping chip.

    The colorful chips include:

    • Beets: red
    • Chipotle: orange
    • Fresh Corn: yellow
    • Jalapeño: yellow
    • Spinach & Kale: green

    RECIPE: NAKED NACHOS

    This interpretation leaves off the cheese, but adds flavor through roasted tomatoes and corn. If you’re pressed for time, you can substitute a can of roasted tomatoes and a tub of fresh corn salsa.

    Ingredients

    • 1 bag (6.4 ounces) tortilla chips
    • 3-4 tomatoes, roasted
    • Fresh corn on the cob, roasted
    • Fresh basil, oregano rosemary or thyme
    • Olive oil

    Preparation

    1. ROAST the tomatoes: Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    2. CUT the tomatoes horizontally and remove the stem. Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with olive oil. Place the tomatoes sliced side down; sprinkle with herbs. Bake for 1 hour. Add salt to taste; slice to serve.

    3. ROAST the corn: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the corn on a baking sheet—do not shuck. Roast for 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from the oven and let cool. Shuck corn and cut the kernels from the ear.

    4. HEAT the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the corn kernels and sauté until heated through and golden yellow in color.

    5. LINE a baking sheet with the tortilla chips. Layer with the sliced roasted tomato and sprinkle on the corn. Garnish with fresh herbs. Broil on high for 2 minutes until edge of chips start to turn light brown. Serve.
     
    RECIPE: QUICK & EASY SKILLET NACHOS

    This version of nachos is super easy to make.

    Ingredients

    • 1 bag (6.4 ounces—The Better Chip recommends its Chipotles flavor)
    • 1 can pinto beans
    • Pepperoni, sliced
    • Aged sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. COMBINE the ingredients in cast iron skillet. Place in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

     

    RECIPE: GRANDMA’S CANDY APPLE NACHOS

    Ingredients

    • Tortilla chips (The Better Chip recommends its Fresh Corn or Spinach & Kale flavors)
    • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced
    • Caramel sauce
    • Chocolate sauce
    • Walnuts, chopped
    • Mini marshmallows

     
    Preparation

    1. DICE the apple into small pieces. Heat the chocolate and caramel sauces so that they are warm and easy to drizzle over chips.

    2. PLACE the chips on a plate, spoon the diced apples over the chips and drizzle the chocolate and caramel sauces over chips and apples.

    3. SPRINKLE the walnuts over the nachos and garnish with a few marshmallows.

     

    Dessert Nachos-230

    Dessert nachos. Photo courtesy The Better Chip.

     

    THE HISTORY OF NACHOS

    Nachos are an example of necessity being the mother of invention.

    As the story goes, in 1943 a group of Army wives from Fort Duncan, in Eagle Pass, Texas, had gone over the border to Piedras Negros, Mexico, on a shopping trip. By the time they arrived at the Victory Club restaurant, the kitchen was closed.

    But the accommodating maître d’hôtel, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya (Nacho is a nickname for Ignacio), threw together a snack for the ladies from what was available in the kitchen: tortillas and cheese. He cut the tortillas into triangles, added shredded Cheddar cheese, quickly heated them and garnished the dish with sliced jalapeño chiles.

    When asked what the tasty dish was called, he answered, “Nacho’s especiales,” Nacho’s Special.

    In Mexico nachos are also called totopos, the word for tortilla chips. French fries, potato chips and even popcorn are sometimes substituted for the tortilla chips.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Autumn Bundt Cake

    thanksgiving-bundt-biritecreamery-230

    Treat yourself to a slice of autumn. Photo
    courtesy Bi-Rite Market | San Francisco.

     

    It’s easy to turn a plain bundt cake into a festive holiday dessert. Just top it with caramel sauce or glaze, candied pecans or walnuts and dried cranberries and/or cherries—an idea we snatched from Bi-Rite Market, a specialty food store in San Francisco (with a great ice cream parlor across the street).

    One of the benefits of using the nuts as a garnish instead of mixing them into the batter is that people who are nut-averse can pick them off and still enjoy the delicious dessert.

    1. PICK YOUR BUNDT CAKE FLAVOR

    While chocolate always works, think seasonally and consider:

    • Apple bundt cake (here’s a recipe)
    • Carrot bundt cake
    • Cranberry-orange bundt cake
    • Maple bundt cake
    • Pumpkin bundt cake
    • Rum bundt cake
    • Sticky toffee bundt cake
    It’s easy to find recipes online.
     

    2. PICK YOUR NUTS & FRUITS

    We personally like pecans with cranberries. Then, caramelize (candy) the nuts (here’s how).

     

    3. MAKE THE CARAMEL SAUCE

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

    This recipe was adapted from WickedGoodKitchen.com. Prep time is five minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.

    You can make a lighter caramel glaze, but the color will be pale and the flavor less deep.

    • 2 cups sugar
    • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, softened to room temperature
    • 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
    • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 2 to 3 teaspoons fleur de sel or other sea salt (types of sea salt)
     

    salted-caramel-sauce-wickedgoodkitchen-230

    Salted caramel sauce. Photo courtesy WickedGoodKitchen.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the sugar in a 2- to 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat and whisk as the sugar melts. Continue to whisk as the sugar begins to clump and turn into a light amber liquid. It will be completely melted into light amber caramel in 8 to 10 minutes. Once the sugar is completely melted, stop whisking and swirl the caramel by gently tilting the saucepan from side to side.

    2. COOK without whisking until the caramel reaches a medium or deep amber color (almost dark reddish-brown), about 5 to 7 minutes based on your color preference (the darker the caramel, the deeper the caramel flavor). It is important to pay attention and prevent the caramel from smoking. Use a candy thermometer: a reading of 350°F will deliver a deep amber caramel sauce.

    3. TURN off the heat, the remove saucepan from the heat and wait 20 to 30 seconds. Then add all of the butter at once and whisk vigorously until it is fully melted and combined into the caramel. The addition of the butter will cause the caramel to bubble up vigorously. Just keep whisking.

    4. WHISK in the cream slowly and carefully, along with the vanilla extract. Expect more bubbling, and just keep whisking until the caramel is smooth and the cream is fully incorporated. Add the salt and whisk until completely dissolved.

    5. SET the caramel sauce aside to cool slightly and thicken, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar. Cool completely before capping jars and refrigerating.

    6. ASSEMBLE the cake. Use a spatula to transfer the majority of the caramel to the cake. You can then melt the remainder and pour it on top for the “drippy” effect. Top with the nuts and fruits and admire your handiwork (then eat it!).

      

    Comments

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