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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.

It’s Been A Week Of Tech Hell

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It’s time to get back to business. Photo
courtesy blog.securestate.com.

 

It’s been Hell Week at THE NIBBLE.

Starting last Monday, the server at TheNibble.com was hacked. No website was “served” for three days; just the message, “server not found.”

Then, it was our blog’s turn to go crazy. It’s hosted on a separate WordPress server.

The blog “disappeared” on Friday, with Blog.TheNibble.com yielding only the message “server not found” or a totally blank page.

As of ten minutes ago, it’s back.

We’re sorry for the inconvenience; thanks to all for your patience. After a tall cup of coffee—and a well-deserved cheese danish—we’ll get back to writing and publishing everything we’ve been unable to do since last Friday.

 

 
  

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KICKSTARTER: Hot Bread Kitchen Scholarships

We normally don’t promote Kickstarter campaigns because we have limited bandwidth, and prefer to focus our efforts writing about food.

But here’s an organization we feel strongly about, and your chance to pay it forward for very little.

The Hot Bread Kitchen is a Harlem based artisanal bakery that trains disadvantaged women to become professional bakers. They are raising Kickstarter funds for two scholarships.

The education will create long-term income opportunities for immigrant women, who can then obtain better-paying jobs to support themselves and their families. The graduates typically experience a 77% wage boost, moving on to jobs with benefits and room for career growth.

You can donate as little as $1 to the Women Bake Bread Scholarship.

Thanks for your help!

 

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Immigrant women are trained as bakers. Photo courtesy Hot Bread Kitchen.

 

  

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RECIPE: Goat Curry

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Goat curry with naan, Indian flatbread.
Photo courtesy AG Local.

 

Got your goat?

AgLocal has it! The e-tailer sources its meats from family farms that treat their animals well. The goal: a marketplace where consumers can easily purchase high quality meats while actively supporting the development of sustainable, regional farms. Learn more at AgLocal.com.

And here’s some news: Goat is the most widely consumed protein in the world. It is also one of the most sustainable animals to raise, eating mostly brush and weeds.

Yet, while Americans love goat cheese and other goat milk-based dairy products, we rarely eat goat meat. In fact, it’s hard to find outside of international markets and butchers. Even the Italian restaurants of our youth that had goat on the menu have it no more. Where has all the goat meat gone?

This recipe, adapted by the AgLocal Test Kitchen from the August 2012 issue of Good Food Magazine, is an easy way to introduce goat into your cooking repertoire.

 
RECIPE: GOAT CURRY

Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 pound goat stew meat
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2-3 jalapeño chiles
  • Optional: small handful curry leaves
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 can (15-ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 can (15-ounces) pinto beans
  • 1-2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • Small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • Naan and/or rice for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor and purée. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and add the onion mixture. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the peppers, curry leaves, thyme, curry powder and 2 teaspoons salt and cook for 2 minutes more until fragrant.

    2. ADD the goat meat and cook for 5 minutes until sides are browned. Add the tomatoes and stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and leave to simmer for 2 hours.

    3. UNCOVER and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Add the beans to heat through. Slowly whisk in lemon juice and yogurt. Taste and add more yogurt and lemon juice to cut through spice if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Autumn Chocolates

    While Halloween chocolate is creeping into stores—chocolate ghosts, pumpkins, candy corn and other holiday specialties—you have a few weeks to enjoy some “autumn chocolate” until Halloween week.

    Until then, how about some “autumn chocolates” that are in chocolate shops until the Christmas flavors come in? Today, we feature two of our favorite chocolatiers, with very different products.

    RECCHIUTI CONFECTIONS: AUTUMN DRAGÉE SAMPLER

    San Francisco-based chocolatier Michael Recchiuti is known for his fine chocolates, made with a custom blend of Valrhona chocolate. His popular Dragée Sampler, available year-round, includes Burnt Caramel Almonds, Burnt Caramel Hazelnuts, Peanut Butter Pearls and Cherries Two Ways.

    From now through the end of November you can enjoy the flavors of the limited-edition Autumn Dragée Sampler: Burnt Caramel Almonds, Candied Ginger enrobed in 64% cacao dark chocolate and Tart Cranberries enrobed in 70% cacao chocolate.

       

    recchiuti-autumn-dragees-230

    Autumn Dragée Sampler. Photo courtsy Recchiuti Confections.

     

    A lovely treat or gift: a 12-ounce black gift box (sturdy and reusable) tied with an orange satin ribbon is $29.00. Get yours at Recchiuti.com.

    WHAT ARE DRAGÉES?

    Dragées (drah-ZHAY) are a French word for almonds encased in a hard-shell coating. The almonds can also have a chocolate coating underneath the sugar. They are a popular wedding favor, representing good luck. Hazelnuts, which can be made in the same manner, are a more modern variation.

    “Dragée” is also used to describe tiny, round balls of sugar, often coated with edible silver or gold, and used to decorate baked goods; and to refer to sweet, medicated lozenges. The commonality is the sugar coating. In French, dragée also refers to nonpareils; dragée à la gelée de sucre is a jelly bean. And finally, dragée is French slang for bullets (small shot).
     
    Panned Products

    Dragées are part of a confection category known as panned products. Panning is one of the basic methods of coating chocolate onto a center (mostly hard centers such as nuts and crystallized ginger; the other methods are enrobing and molding or shell molding).

    In panning, chocolate is sprayed onto the centers as they rotate in revolving pans; cool air is then blown into the pan to harden the chocolates. On a small scale (and before the industrial revolution), nuts are coated on a pan on the stove top; they can be rolled in cocoa powder or other coating before they harden.

    Discover more about chocolate in our Chocolate Glossary.

     

    apple-cider-caramels-lakechamplain-230

    Apple Cider Caramels. Photo courtesy Lake
    Champlain Chocolate.

     

    LAKE CHAMPLAIN CHOCOLATES: CHOICES GALORE

    On the other side of the country in Vermont, Lake Champlain Chocolates is our go-to source for delicious American-style chocolates. We love thechocolate-dipped dried apricots and orange peel, buttercrunch, nut clusters and many other treats. The couverture chocolate is Callebaut from Belgium, and line is certified kosher by Star-K.

    For fall, there are:

  • Assorted Milk and Dark Chocolate Truffles give you a taste of the season via Spiced Pumpkin, which joins French Roast, Hazelnut, Legendary Dark and Raspberry, $16.
  • Autumn Chocolate Coins, a mix of milk and coins, foil-wrapped in festive foliage colors.
  • Autumn Chocolates of Vermont, an autumn-themed gift box of chocolates, $25.50
  • Caramel Chocolate Leaves, $13.00.
  • Milk Chocolate Apple Cider Caramels, $35.00.
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Leaf Bag beckons to lovers of peanut butter cups, $13.00.
  •  

    Find them at LakeChamplainChocolates.com.

      

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    PRODUCT: Scorpion Chile, The World’s Hottest?

    How hot do you like it?

    Chile heads—people who can’t get enough heat in their foods—are always looking for hotter and hotter varieties, so breeders keep creating hotter breeds.

    What’s the world’s hottest chile? Whatever it is today, it can change tomorrow.

    In 2007, the Bhut Jolokia also known as the ghost pepper, was rated the hottest. In 2013, the Guinness Book Of World Records rated the Carolina Reaper the world’s hottest pepper, moving the Bhut Jolokia to third place.

    The Carolina Reaper scored 1,569,300 on the Scoville Scale, which measures the heat level. A habanero, by contrast, measures up to 350,000 Scoville units.

     

    jamaican-scorpion-230-melissas

    Scorpion chiles are available from Melissas.com.

     
    Is there a new contender? According to fine produce purveyor Melissas.com, the hottest chile pepper in the world now cited bythe Guinness Book of Records is the Trinidad Scorpion. Melissa’s has them in stock right now.

    Buy them for yourself or as a gift for your favorite chile head at Melissas.com.

    They’ll stay fresh in the vegetable crisper for about 2 weeks.

    PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Handle all hot chiles with gloved hands and discard the gloves without getting any capsaicin on your hands. Because accidentally touching your eyes with the minutest amount of capsaicin will be an experience you’ll never forget.

    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHILES.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cinnamon Apple Chips

    apple-chips-beauty-kaminsky-230

    Make delicious apple chips. Photo by Hannah
    Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We love apple chips, a better-for-you sweet snack. We’re big fans of the Bare Fruit brand, which we buy online in both single serve and family size bags. The apples they use are so sweet that there’s no added sugar.

    When we’re out of Bare Fruit apple chips, we make our own with this easy recipe from Zulka Morena sugar. If you’re cutting back on sugar calories, you can make half with sugar, half without, and combine them; Splenda fans can try the noncaloric sweetener.

    RECIPE: CINNAMON APPLE CHIPS

    Ingredients

  • 3-4 apples, sweetest variety
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 225°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

    2. REMOVE the apple cores with an apple corer. Use a sharp knife or mandolin slicer to thinly slice the apples into rings.

     
    3. PLACE the slices next to each other on the trays (they can overlap a bit). Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the apples.

    4. PLACE the sheets on the oven racks and bake for one hour. Remove each tray of apple slices, flip the slices and return the tray to a different oven rack than before to ensure even baking.

    5. BAKE for one more hour. Turn off the oven, leaving the apple chips inside for another 2-3 hours or until dried out. Store the chips in an airtight container for up to one week.
     
    Find more delicious recipes at Zulka.com.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Chef Stamps

    Each year, the U.S. Postal Service celebrates “The Best of America” by issuing limited-edition stamps that highlight quintessential American personalities, passions and milestones. The edition we’ve been waiting for debuted on Friday: celebrity chefs who revolutionized the American culinary experience in postwar America and served as early, ardent champions of modern food trends.

    The stamps honor five chefs:

  • James Beard, 1903-1985, cookbook author, teacher, champion of American cuisine, syndicated columnist and television personality.
  • Joyce Chen, 1917-1994, a Beijing-born chef, restaurateur, author, television personality and entrepreneur who developed the first line of bottled Chinese stir fry sauces in the U.S. and is credited with popularizing northern-style Chinese cuisine here.
  • Julia Child, 1912-2004, author and television personality who brought French cuisine to the American public with the first major English-language cookbook of French cuisine, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
  • Edna Lewis, 1916-2006, an African-American chef and author known for her books on traditional Southern cuisine that led some to call her “the South’s answer to Julia Child.”
  •    
    julia-child-stamp-230

    The new Julia Child stamp. Photo courtesy USPO.

     

    chef-stamps-envelopes-230

    Stamped envelopes are available in addition
    to sheets of individual stamps. Photo
    courtesy USPO.

     
  • Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, 1945-1991, a Peruvian-born chef who became an American citizen as he helped to bring a Spanish and Caribbean influence into America’s haute cuisine repertory. America’s Bicentennial chef in 1976, he had served as the assistant in James Beard’s cooking school and was the founding chef of the Dean & Deluca gourmet food store.
  •  
    Something we didn’t now: All stamps sold by the Post Office are now Forever stamps. The days of pairing the old postage with 1¢, 2¢ and 3¢ stamps are over!

    So, food fans, you can buy a lifetime supply of chef stamps to add personality to your cards, letters and bills.

    For more information or to purchase online, visit The Postal Store.

    Bon appétit!

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Homemade Cookie Day

    Start preheating the oven: October 1st is National Homemade Cookie Day.

    Here are some of our favorite cookie recipes.

    We could do chocolate chip, America’s favorite cookie; but we’re really in the mood for these Gingerbread Bars With Cream Cheese Icing.

    In honor of the month of October—the beginning of “pumpkin season”—we’ll add some pumpkin purée to the icing (a tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin purée).

    And, we’ll answer this question:

    WHY ARE BROWNIES COOKIES, NOT CAKE?

    You may wonder why brownies and other bar cookies are classified as cookies when they have a crumb (the professional word for the texture of baked goods, including bread and muffins) that is similar to cake.

    The answer is: Cookies are finger food, cakes are fork food. Brownies, lemon bars and other bars are finger food, not fork food. It’s that simple.

     

    What we’re baking for National Homemade Cookie Day: gingerbread bars with cream cheese frosting. Photo and recipe courtesy McCormick.com.

     
    Check out:

  • The history of cookies
  • The different types of cookies
  • How to store cookies
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY & FOOD HOLIDAY: National Kale Day

    kale-varieties-nationalkaleday.org-230r

    Three stems of curly kale with one of red
    Russian kale. Photo courtesy
    NationalKaleDay.org.

     

    Yesterday we focused on kale’s cousin, kohlrabi. But today is National Kale Day. If you’re one of the few better-eating-oriented food enthusiasts who hasn’t yet tried kale, today’s the day.

    This is the second annual National Kale Day, established as the first Wednesday in October. The holiday was established by Drew Ramsey, M.D. and chef Jennifer Iserloh, authors of 50 Shades of Kale.

    Their objective was to draw attention to the superfood, which continues to grow in popularity in both the retail and foodservice (restaurants, schools and other institutions, etc.) markets.

    The kale trend has driven up sales 20%-30% in the last year alone. As an illustration of how popular kale has become, mainstream producer Dole Fresh Vegetables recently rolled out new six salad mixes, all with kale, including a Kale Caesar salad kit.

    Kale is grown around the world, and has been cultivated for some 6,000 years. It’s easy to grow and hearty: A kale plant continues to produce late into winter, and after a frost, kale becomes even sweeter.
     
    TYPES OF KALE

    If you’re already a fan of green kale, visit farmers markets for specialty varieties. There are more than 50 varieties of kale, but in the U.S. you’re most likely to find:

     

  • Curly kale, the variety typically found in grocery stores. It can be bright green, dark green or purple in color with tight ruffled leaves. The fibrous stalks can be difficult to chop, but they’re easy to tear if fresh. The flavor is pungent, peppery and bitter. Seek out younger looking leaves for less bitterness.
  • Lacinato kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale and other names*. It’s an Italian heirloom with blue-green leaves. Slightly sweeter and more delicate in flavor than curly kale, it has nutty, earthy notes.
  • Redbor kale, best known as ornamental kale, dark red or purple in color. It is certainly edible. You can grow it as a garden decoration and pick leaves as you need them, for cooking or garnishing.
  • Red Russian kale with flat leaves that resemble arugula leaves. It gets its name because the stems can have a red or reddish-purple tinge. It is considered one of the more flavorful kales, sweet and mild with just a bit of pepperiness. The stems, however, are too tough to digest and should be removed before cooking.
  •  
    *Lacinto kale is also called black kale, black Tuscan palm, cavolo nero (which means black cabbage in Italian), dinosaur kale, flat back cabbage, Italian kale, palm tree kale, Tuscan cabbage and Tuscan kale.

     

    To celebrate National Kale Day, make your favorite kale dish. Have you ever tried colcannon, a traditional Irish dish of kale (or cabbage) and mashed potatoes? We’re making it for dinner tonight, along with this kale salad:

    RECIPE: SHREDDED KALE WITH DATE PURÉE & PINE NUTS

    This recipe is from Svitana of ArtDeFete.com. She enhances a conventional vinaigrette with date purée for an exciting new flavor combination.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Date Purée

  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  •  

    shredded-kale-salad-with-date-puree-artdefete-230r

    Shredded kale salad with date purée. Photo courtesy ArtDeFete.com.

     
    For The Salad

  • 1 bunch kale, center ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Optional garnish: ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs, toasted
  •  
    For the Dressing

  • 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon date purée
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the date purée: In a food processor, combine dates, water, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and lemon juice. Blend until it resembles a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can keep date purée refrigerated up to two weeks or freeze for three months. Use the rest in smoothies or stir into yogurt.

    2. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and date purée until well combined. Season to taste.

    3. COMBINE the dressing and shredded kale in a large bowl; toss until well coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    4. ASSEMBLE the salad: Spread a thin layer (1 tablespoon) of date purée on each plate and top it with kale salad. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and toasted bread crumbs. Serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kohlrabi

    kohlrabi-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Violet kohlrabi. There’s also a light green variety. Photo courtesy The Good Eggs.

     

    You’ve just gotten used to kale. Are you ready for another cruciferous vegetable, kohlrabi?

    A member of the powerful anti-carcinogenic Brassica family (formerly Crucifera), which also includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips and others) to emerge on mainstream menus in a big way.

    Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea), also called German turnip or turnip cabbage. It tastes like cabbage but is sweeter. The flavor has been described as a cross between apples and mild turnips, to broccoli stems with a hint of radish and cucumber. What look like bulbs, beet-shaped, are actually swollen stems that grow just above the ground.

    Kohlrabi typically is served cooked in Europe. But American chefs and recipe developers, understanding how much we enjoy crunchy foods, have taken to serving it raw:

     

  • Shaved, julienned or cut into disks or matchsticks as a salad garnish.
  • Shredded or julienned and dressed as “kohl slaw,” mixed purple and green kohlrabi, mixed with shredded cabbage and carrots, etc.
  • Cut into cubes or wedges, marinate in vinaigrette and served with toothpicks instead of crudites.
  • Cut into batons, cubes or wedges and pickled in your favorite pickling recipe, and served instead of cucumber pickles or other pickled vegetables.
  •  

    Flavor & The Menu, which covers food trends for chefs, encourages the preparation of hot kohlrabi dishes as well. Their recommendations:

  • Add cubes or wedges to meat-based soups and stews.
  • Braise the mild green tops using your favorite greens recipe. The leaves are a milder version of collards.
  • Julienne and stir fry.
  • Quarter, oven roast and toss with butter and herbs.
  • Shave and deep fry or bake for kohlrabi chips.
  •  

    kohlrabi-sweet-vienna-burpee-green-230

    Green kohlrabi. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     
    KOHLRABI HISTORY

    Although it has been cultivated for several thousand years, the first written record of the domesticated plant dates to Greek and Roman times, when it was a popular garden vegetable.

    According to Wikipedia, kohlrabi was bred into other Brassica cultivars, including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

    The name derives from the German words kohl, cabbage and rabi, turnip. This unusual looking vegetable originated in northern Europe and was not known 500 years ago. Kohlrabi did not become known in the United States until 1800. Kohlrabi tastes like cabbage but is sweeter.
     
    FINDING KOHLRABI: If your regular grocer doesn’t carry it, head for the nearest farmers market.

      

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