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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: Wood-Planked Seafood

grilled-oysters-bleunortheastseafood-230

How delicious: oysters lightly cooked on a
cedar plank. Photo courtesy Bleu Northeast
Seafood | Burlington.

 

Simple yet sophisticated, cedar planking is an easy grilling technique. The wood plank adds a smoky and woodsy flavor to meats, vegetables and especially seafood.

Executive Chef Doug Paine of Bleu Northeast Seafood in Burlington, Vermont is currently cooking Cedar Plank Roasted Whole Trout with Malt Vinegar, Rhubarb and Dandelion Cole Slaw. A delicious recipe that uses everyday ingredients, Cedar Plank Trout pairs exceptionally well with a farmhouse style saison beer.

But you can start small. How about grilling oysters?

RECIPE: WOOD GRILLED OYSTERS

Ingredients

  • 2 dozen well washed oysters (any variety will work; Chef Paine recipe used Pemaquids)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated horseradish (you can substitute prepared horseradish)
  • 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • Cedar grilling plank (available everywhere barbecue supplies are sold, or online)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the grill with hard wood. Apple, oak or maple is recommended for flavor. Charcoal or gas will also work, but it won’t have the same smoky aroma.

    2. PLACE the oysters on the grill with the cup side down. Grill them for about 5 minutes or until they open.

    3. USE tongs to remove oysters from the grill and place them on a towel carefully, so as to not spill the juice inside.

    4. ALLOW oysters to cool for a few minutes, then remove the top shell. A paring knife may be needed to cut the oyster from the shell.

    5. SPRINKLE with the grated horseradish and spoon a few drops of vinegar on top. Enjoy with a beer. The two dozen oysters will disappear quickly.

     

    cedar-planks-elizabethkarmelAMZ-230

    Cedar planks add woodsy aroma and flavor to grilled foods. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Karmel | Amazon.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asian Cobb Salad

    asian-cobb-east&westYotelNYC-230-1

    This delicious salad is dramatically plated on
    an oval platter, but we had to cut the photo
    in half. Photo courtesy Yotel New York.

     

    We love East-West fusion food, and there’s no better source for it than East & West at Club Lounge in the Yotel New York.

    RECIPE: ASIAN COBB SALAD

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Salad

  • 1 bag Asian blend mixed greens bags
  • 4 large spicy grilled chicken breasts (marinade recipe below), diced
  • 1 package firm tofu, diced
  • 2 large avocados, diced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
  • 1 small golden pineapple, diced large
  • 1 cup sliced toasted almonds
  • Soy Ginger Dressing, recipe below
  •  
    For The Soy Ginger Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seed, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cup mirin
  • 1 cup salad oil (we blended 3/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup sesame oil)
  •  
    For The Chicken Marinade

  • 1 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon peeled ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chili paste (sambal oelek)
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  •  

    Ingredients For The Candied Nuts

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese tograshi pepper
  •  
    †The main ingredient in togarashi red pepper seasoning is red pepper flakes. If you want to create a substitute, use cayenne pepper or dried, crushed chiles; sesame seeds; dried, crushed seaweed and dried citrus peel.
     
    Preparation

    1. MARINATE the chicken for 2 hours. In a sauté pan or grill, cook the chicken on a medium heat until the skin gets crispy on one side; flip it and cook the rest of the way (this should take about 10 minutes). Cool and then dice for the salad.

    2. MAKE the candied nuts. Preheat a convection oven to 300°F. While the oven is heating, combine all ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly until the honey coats all of the almonds. Spread them evenly on a large baking sheet (ideally on a silpat) and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool before chopping for the salad.

     

    asian-cobb-east&westYotelNYC-230-2

    The other half of the salad. Photo courtesy Yotel | NYC.

     

    3. MAKE the vinaigrette: Place all ingredients in a blender and process. Strain and reserve for salad.

    4. PLACE mesclun mix in a large salad bowl. Arrange the topping in rows across the salad, keeping like colors separated. This is the most dramatic way of presenting a Cobb Salad. If you prefer, you can pre-toss the salad instead.

    5. SERVE with the vinaigrette on the side.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE COBB SALAD

    Here’s how the Cobb Salad came to be, plus a recipe for a Cobb Salad Sandwich.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup

    sundried-tomato-ketchup-traina-230

    Ketchup with richer tomato flavor, thanks to
    sun dried tomatoes. Photo courtesy Traina
    Foods.

     

    Traina Foods says that they produce “the world’s finest sun dried fruit,” which they sell to manufacturers, ingredient companies and distributors.

    But they’ve taken some of their lush California sun dried tomatoes and turned it into ketchup.

    The sun dried fruit provides a deeper, richer taste than you’ll find in regular tomato ketchup. And because this is a specialty brand (as opposed to a mass market brand), the manufacturer uses less sugar and delivers notes of pepper and vinegar. It’s better quality ketchup, and you’ll notice the difference.

    For those who want heat, there’s a sriracha version.

    Either will add more punch to your hot dogs, burgers, fries, eggs, meat loaf, cocktail sauce and anything else that requires a hit of ketchup.

    Treat yourself to some, and consider the bottles as stocking stuffers for ketchup-loving friends. Just tie a ribbon around the neck!

    The regular Traina Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup is available on Amazon.com, in single bottles or six-packs.

    We couldn’t find the sriracha version online, but here’s a store locator and an email, customerservice@traina.com.

     
    Montebello Kitchens also makes a delicious sriracha ketchup that you can buy on Amazon.

    Their curry ketchup is one of our passions!

    WHO INVENTED KETCHUP?

    The first ketchup was made in Asia, and had no tomatoes whatsoever.

    Here’s the history of ketchup and a review of 42 specialty ketchup brands.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Keep Your Water Bottle Cold

    Record high temperatures and humidity nationwide today mean that no one should leave home without a water bottle or other hydration.

    But what happens if you don’t have a bottle chilling in the fridge…or even if you do?

    You wouldn’t think that a tip would be needed on how to chill a water bottle. But if your technique is simply to put the bottle in the fridge to chill down the water, you find that it warms up pretty quickly on a hot summer day.

    Here are some tips to keep that bottle of water colder, longer.

    Definitely start by keep your water bottle in the fridge; but “layer” that cold water with one of these techniques:

    3+ WAYS TO CHILL A WATER BOTTLE

    The Right Ice

  • Get a water bottle ice cube tray and add an ice stick to the bottle. Don’t buy the small round ice cubes or smaller sticks: The smaller the piece of ice, the faster it melts.
  •    

    vacu-vin-water-bottle-chiller-230

    A water bottle chilling jacket makes room temperature water cold, or keeps chilled water cooler, longer. Photo courtesy Vacu Vin.

     

    water-bottle-ice-cube-tray-progressiveIntl-230

    Ice cube trays designed for water bottles.
    Photo courtesy Photo courtesy Progressive
    International.

     

    Insulated Jackets

  • Use Rapid Ice, a pre-frozen jacket that goes over a wine bottle to chill it. It fits large bottles of water perfectly, and also helps keep 16-ounce bottles cool. It will extend the coldness of your water, which hopefully is pre-chilled with an added stick of ice. Place the sleeve back in the freezer when you return, and you can also use it to chill wine until you need it again for water.
  • Rapid Ice also makes a can chiller, to fit over beer and soda, which can help keep your water cool.
  • Rapid Ice competitor Vacu Vin makes a water bottle chiller jacket for a 16-ounce water bottle. It will also chill a room temperature bottle of water in five minutes.
  •  
    Other Techniques

  • Freeze the bottle, making sure it isn’t full to the top so the water can expand. Remove the bottle when you get up in the morning so the ice will start to melt
  • Use a good old-fashioned thermos bottle.
  •  
    More Ideas?

    If you’ve got them, share them!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Vietnamese Summer Rolls

    Headed to the New York theatre district? Haru, a popular modern Japanese restaurant with several locations in Manhattan (and one in Boston), has opened a new restaurant there.

    Haru recently moved its theatre district location, Haru Broadway, to Haru Times Square. It’s located in the Times Square Building, the former headquarters of the New York Times (229 West 43rd Street).

    In addition to lunch and dinner, there’s a happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. (scoot from the matinee to enjoy drinks and light bites), and a private room that holds up to 15.

    One of our favorite items on the menu is the Trio Of Fish Tacos, a fusion dish that uses taco shells made from wonton dough. Three full-size tacos are filled with three different sashimi blends: tuna with cherry tomato salsa, salmon with avocado and striped bass with apple yuzu ceviche sauce.

    Here’s the recipe if you want to try it at home.

    Another recipe that can be made by any home cook is summer rolls. Summer rolls, a Vietnamese specialty, are never fried but served in an uncooked rice noodle wrap. Here’s the recipe, with an explanation below about the differences among summer rolls, spring rolls and egg rolls.

       

    japanese-tacos-haru-230

    Our favorite dish: Three Fish Tacos. Photo courtesy Haru.

     

     

    summer-rolls-haru-230r

    An overhead view of summer rolls you can
    make at home with this recipe. Photo courtesy Haru.

     

    SPRING ROLLS VS. SUMMER ROLLS VS. EGG ROLLS

  • Summer rolls are never fried, but made of cooked and raw ingredients wrapped in rice paper. Summer rolls are typically filled with pork and/or shrimp, rice vermicelli (noodles) and fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro or mint. Summer rolls are served with a dipping sauce made of hoisin sauce and peanut butter, flavored with garlic; or a sweet and hot red chili sauce (served by Haru); or a ginger shallot sauce.
  • Spring rolls, on the other hand, are always fried. Spring rolls are also made of rice flour dough and filled with pork and/or shrimp, plus bean thread vermicelli and shredded cabbage. They are often much narrower than summer rolls. In the U.S., you’ll also find vegetarian summer rolls, filled with mango and cucumber or other choices. The dipping sauce for spring rolls is typically a blend of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce (or tamari) with minced scallions and a splash of toasted sesame oil.
  • Egg rolls are fried, like spring rolls, but the dough is different. It’s a wheat dough that contains eggs, hence the name. The filling varies by the chef: chopped shrimp, ground beef, ground chicken or turkey, matchstick-sliced pork or Chinese sausage. Minced cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger and mushrooms round out popular recipes.
  •  

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Strawberry Sundae Day

    Strawberry sundaes have gone out of style. As each new generation comes up with favorite flavors (Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Cup, Red Velvet Cake), strawberry, an “original” ice cream flavor, has receded into the shadows. When was the last time you saw, much less ordered, a strawberry sundae?

    Today, National Strawberry Sundae Day, is the time to give this classic its due.

    You can make it with vanilla or strawberry ice cream—or both. You can use frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. You can combine a scoop of strawberry ice cream with a scoop of strawberry sorbet. You can even go Creamsicle-style by combining strawberry sorbet with vanilla ice cream.

    Since lush summer strawberries beckon, there’s no need to buy a cloying, HFCS-laden strawberry syrup. Here’s all you need to do.

     

    vanilla-ice-cream-bonne-maman-230

    A strawberry sundae with vanilla ice cream. Photo courtesy Bonne Maman.

     
    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SUNDAE

    Ingredients

  • Strawberry ice cream or sorbet and/or vanilla ice cream
  • Strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • Orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier) or spirit of choice (e.g. scotch or vodka)
  • Fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
  • Optional: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHOOSE a dish. You don’t need sundae or parfait dishes: A bowl, glass or wine glass will do. (The photo above uses a rocks glass.)

    2. PREPARE the strawberry sauce. Dilute strawberry jam with orange liqueur to taste. Add lemon juice to taste. Add a tablespoon or more of warm water to achieve desired consistency.

    3. SCOOP ice cream/sorbet into dish. Top with strawberry sauce, sliced strawberries and optional whipped cream. Dig in.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: BLT Pasta Salad

    blt-pasta-salad-davidvenableQVC-230

    Like BLTs? Here’s a BLT Pasta Salad. Photo
    courtesy QVC.

     

    “Everyone needs a good pasta salad recipe for the summer,” says QVC chef David Venable. Here’s a fun pasta salad: a BLT Pasta Salad with Arugula, Bacon & Feta Cheese.

    It deconstructs a BLT sandwich, using baby arugula for the lettuce and adding cheese and chicken so it has the protein to serve as a luncheon or dinner salad.

    But, you can leave out the cheese and chicken and serve it as a side salad.

    David advises, “If you want to serve it as a side salad, this recipe is a flavor-packed side dish that would pair perfectly with anything from ribs to grilled salmon.”

    Add optional croutons for a fully deconstructed BLT sandwich.

     
    RECIPE: BLT PASTA SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 16-ounce box farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2-3/4 pound baby arugula
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (substitute goat or blue cheese)
  • 1 cup cooked or grilled chicken pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: homemade garlic croutons
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well.

    2. TRANSFER the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the bacon, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and arugula to the warm pasta. Add feta cheese and optional chicken and toss.

    3. WHISK together the balsamic vinegar, lemon rind and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended. Whisk in the salt and pepper, to taste.

    4. POUR the vinaigrette into the pasta salad and toss until well coated. Serve warm.

     
    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Is there anything more wonderful than a favorite comfort food in the hands of a great chef?

    We worshipped Parisian pâtissier Pierre Hermé, a fourth generation pastry chef from Alsace, even before we saw these ice cream sandwiches. As his Star Chefs bio says, “Pierre Hermé didn’t just carry on the family tradition; he rocketed it into the stratosphere.”

    Hermé began his career at age 14 as an apprentice to Gaston Lenôtre, was a full-fledged pastry chef by 20 at Fauchon, and established Pierre Hermé Paris since 1996.

    Unable to get to Paris, we set to work recreating the ice cream sandwiches.

    Hermé, the master of macarons, makes rectangular meringue cookies to sandwich his ice cream sandwiches. By all means, try it if you’re up to the challenge. Unschooled in the technique, we couldn’t get ours out of the pan and evenly sliced without a lot of breakage; but the pieces tasted fine.

    Otherwise, you can use any base, from cookies to cake slices. We really liked pound cake, pre-toasted and cooled before the ice cream was added.

       

    ice-cream-sandwiches-beauty-pierrehermeFB-230

    The prettiest ice cream sandwiches, on meringues. Photo courtesy Pierre Hermé.

     

    PIERRE HERMÉ ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

    Ingredients

  • 2 complementary flavors of ice cream and/or sorbet
  • Optional inclusions: berries, chips, nuts, etc.
  • Sandwich base of choice (cookies, cake)
  •  
    While all combinations we tried were delicious, we especially loved vanilla ice cream with raspberry sorbet or passionfruit sorbet.

     

    swirled-beauty-pierrehermeFB-230

    He also makes dual flavor soft serve. Photo
    courtesy Pierre Hermé.

     

    Preparation

    1. LINE a loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing a border of wrap to hang over the sides so you can pull out the frozen loaf of ice cream.

    2. LAYER the two flavors of ice cream/sorbet, one on top of the other. Sprinkle any inclusions over the first layer.

    3. LET the ice cream soften until you can take a firm spatula or the handle of a wooden spoon and swirl it through the layers. This will create the marbled design. Freeze until hard.

    4. ASSEMBLE by removing the loaf of ice cream, slicing it and adding the sandwich component.
     
    If you want to drool over desserts that are an ocean away, head to PierreHerme.com.

    And if you’re inspired to fly to Paris to enjoy them firsthand, remember: There’s always a line at the shop at 72 rue Bonaparte, in the Saint Germain des Prés district.

     

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Lavender Tea

    We wonder if the people who approved the name “Breakfast In Paris” for lavender tea have been to France.

    If they had, they’d know that lavender-accented foods do not abound in Paris. You’ll find them way south in Provence, where the lavender is grown.

    Perhaps the namers knew that, but felt that “Breakfast in Provence” wasn’t as fetching a title?

    Folks, it’s better to be accurate than slapdash.

    But that doesn’t stop us from liking Stash’s new Breakfast In Paris, subtly accented with lavender. We have often steeped dried lavender* into tea for iced tea. We love both the lavender aroma and the alluring flavor.

    Breakfast In Paris simplifies the process. There’s no need to strain out and toss dripping springs of lavender.

    Stash blends black tea with aromatic, floral lavender and a touch of citrusy bergamot oil. The result is pleasurable with or without milk, hot or iced. The ingredients are all natural; the line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

    Stash calls it a breakfast tea†, but you can enjoy it anytime.

     

    stash-breakfast-in-paris-230

    Breakfast in Paris: lavender-flavored black tea. Photo courtesy Stash Tea.

     
    It pays to price shop. On Amazon you can pay from 19¢ to 72¢ per foil-wrapped tea bag:

  • A single box of 18 bags, $12.97/72¢ per bag
  • A six-pack of boxes, 18 bags each/108 bags, $23.95/22¢ per bag with free shipping
  • A bulk cardboard box of 100 bags, $19.09/19¢ per bag
  •  
    Our recommendation: Buy the six-pack. It takes four bags to brew a quart of iced tea, and you can always give extra boxes as gifts.

     
    FUN FACT FROM STASH

    In earlier centuries, tea was a valuable commodity, transported all the way form China by clipper ship. The ship’s captain often was presented with some of the finest teas for his personal use.

    This supply was his private reserve, or stash, a term that still denote anything put away carefully because of its preciousness.
     
    *Only cook with culinary-grade lavender, roses, etc. They’re grown without chemical pesticides.

    †Breakfast teas are strong black tea blends made to accompany a hearty, English-style morning meal and to go well with milk. Examples include Chai (flavored with Indian spices), Earl Grey (flavored with bergamot orange), English Breakfast (Keemun and other black teas), Irish Breakfast (a malty Assam blend) and Orange Pekoe (Ceylon black tea). Breakfast teas are more robust than afternoon tea blends. However, these distinctions descend from an old British tea-drinking tradition. Feel free to enjoy whatever tea you like, whatever time of the day.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Yasso Yogurt Pops

    yasso-sea-salt-ps-230

    Sea Salt Caramel, an inspired flavor. Photo
    courtesy Yasso.

     

    Yasso’s new yogurt pop flavors are more exciting than the original crop, and we’ve been enjoying every one:

  • Chocolate Fudge
  • Dark Chocolate Raspberry (raspberry dipped in dark chocolate)
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Peanut Butter Cup (a PB pop dipped in dark chocolate)
  • Sea Salt Caramel
  •  
    The Peanut Butter Cup and Sea Salt Caramel yogurt pops are standouts, given the rarity of such flavors in frozen treats. They are beautifully executed.

    Nor could we tear ourselves away from the Dark Chocolate Raspberry and Mint Chocolate Chip. Amazingly, the product developers at Yasso managed to pick our favorite flavors!

     

    The original flavors—Blueberry, Coconut, Mango, Strawberry, Vanilla Bean—weighed in at 70 or 80 calories. With the new flavors the count has been upped a bit, but so has the flavor. You can’t find a better 100-calorie treat or everyday snack (add an extra 10 calories for the chocolate-dipped and 30 calories for the peanut butter).

    Made of Greek yogurt and other natural ingredients, the pops are available at retailers nationwide. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Learn more at Yasso.com.
     
      

    Comments

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