THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TOP PICKS OF THE WEEK: Muuna Cottage Cheese, Oui Yogurt & More

Muuna Strawberry Cottage Cheese
[1] Muuna’s cottage cheese cups with fruit on the bottom come in 6 fruit flavors (photo courtesy Muuna).

Oui By Yoplait - Strawberry
Yoplait’s new French-style yogurt line will have you saying “Oui!” (photo courtesy Oui By Yoplait).

Reuse-a-Pop

[3] Reuse-A-Pop is a mess-free opportunity for you to make your favorite flavor push-up ice pops (photo courtesy Russbe).

 

1. MUUNA COTTAGE CHEESE WITH FRUIT

We were probably the last person in New York to buy Breakstone Pineapple Cottage Cheese before they discontinued it. It was the Ascension Of Yogurt Era, and grocers eliminated slower-moving SKUs to give the space to the hot ones.

Now, a new brand called Muuna is offering all the fruited cottage cheese our heart desires (photo #1). The line is lowfat and creamy, with the fruit on the bottom that you mix up, like a carton of sundae-style yogurt.

It’s also rich in protein: 15g of protein per 5.3-ounce cup.

The fruit is not the typical preserves at the bottom of of the cup but actual chopped fruit, in your choice of:

  • Blueberry
  • Mango
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberry
  •  
    There are also two plain options: 2% and 4% milkfat.

    The line is all natural, non-GMO, rBST-free and certified kosher by cRc.

    Welcome back, pineapple cottage cheese—and hello to you other flavors. You’re our Top Pick Of The Week.
    ________________

    *See the different types of yogurt.
     
     
    2. OUI BY YOPLAIT YOGURT

    Our co-Top Pick is the new Oui by Yoplait line of yogurt (photo #2). It’s different from every other container of Yoplait you’ve had.

    Eating yogurt from the perky glass jar, you could imagine you’re in France. The jar (repurposeable or recyclable) makes you look cool and in-the-know. And the yogurt does not disappoint.

    The company calls it saveur d’autrefois, the taste of yesteryear.

    Yoplait’s foray into premium, French-style yogurt (also called custard-style and Swiss-style) is on point, hitting the trending consumer checklist for all natural, non-GMO and reduced sugar products. The eight flavors include:

  • Black Cherry
  • Blueberry
  • Coconut
  • Lemon
  • Peach
  • Plain
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  •  
    A final endorsement comes from the secretary of our building, with whom we shared our samples. She is a native of Greece who eats Greek yogurt every day. Her feedback: “Outstanding!”

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OK.
     
     
    3. RUSSBE REUSE-A-POP BAGS

    Russbe creates reusable lunch containers, but that’s not a product we have need for.

    What we do need, and love, are the Reuse-A-Pops bags for creating homemade frozen juice pops, puréed fruit, yogurt, and other frozen pops.

    The push-up bags (photo #3) with zipper seals ensures no messy leaks or spills. Freeze, enjoy, wash, reuse. At $6.99 for 12, you can’t go wrong.

    We just enjoyed our first batch: watermelon (from watermelon juice), cantaloupe (from puréed melon) and yogurt-garlic-dill (who says ice pops have to be sweet?). Yum!

     

    4. DI GIORNO CRISPY PAN PIZZA

    We live in a neighborhood where crisp, thin-crust pizza is what grown-ups eat. When people order from Pizza Hut, it’s for the kids.

    We have a reputation to uphold, and hesitate to be seen carrying a deep-dish pizza into the building, no matter how much we need that specific comfort food.

    But there’s a solution for our cravings: DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza, a frozen pizza from the supermarket in its own pan.

    The one-inch-plus-deep crispy crust pie, with extra cheese and plenty of toppings, comes in four flavors:

  • Pepperoni
  • Four Cheese
  • Supreme
  • Three Meat
  •  
    We like everything on our pie (or as much of it as we can get). We went for the Supreme: pepperoni, sausage, green and red peppers and black olives.

     

    DiGiorno Crispy Pan Pizza

    [3] Pan pizza in four flavors stays in the freezer. Twelve minutes in the oven delivers steaming, aromatic comfort food (photo courtesy DiGiorno).

     
    In just 12 minutes we pulled the pie—a crunchy outside and a soft inside— fragrant and bubbling from the oven.

    Now, we just have to clear out the freezer to make room for more DiGiorno boxes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Caprese Sandwich

    Caprese Sandwich
    [1] Caprese Sandwich on a baguette. Here’s a recipe from Somewhat Simple.

    Caprese Sandwich

    [2]Melt the mozzarella on a panini press! Here’s a recipe from Cooking Classy.

     

    Every restaurant menu we’ve seen this summer has Caprese Salad on the menu. That’s because July and August deliver the best tomatoes of the year, and a Caprese—tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil—will never taste better.

    First “discovered” on the Isle of Capri in the 1950s, Caprese Salad became a favorite of King Farouk, and then a summer dish at Italian-American and Continental restaurants throughout Europe and across America. Here’s the history of Caprese Salad.

    It’s so popular, you’ll even find Caprese Salad on winter menus—when the tomatoes are hard and have no flavor.

    We’ve since made Caprese pasta salad, Caprese pasta (topped with uncooked tomato sauce, ciliegine—mozzarella balls the size of cherry tomatoes), Caprese appetizer bites, Caprese cocktail garnishes and a Caprese with other fruits subbing for the tomato (mango, peach, watermelon).

    We’ve even made a vegan version with tofu instead of cheese, and Caprese gazpacho (blender tomatoes with shredded basil, topped with perlini (tiny mozzarella balls—the different sizes of mozzarella).

    But we’ve never made ourselves a Caprese sandwich—until now, because August is National Sandwich Month.

    RECIPE: CAPRESE SANDWICH

  • Bread: baguette, ciabatta roll, pita, rustic
  • Tomatoes: cherry, heirloom, plum, marinated in olive oil
  • Optional: 1 clove garlic, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basil: fresh leaves, de-stemmed, patted dry
  • Mozzarella (format of choice—sliced, perlini, etc.)
  • Balsamic balsamic glaze or vinegar
  • Optional garnish: black olives
  •  
    Variations

    While these stray a bit from the purity of a Caprese, they’re tasty alternatives when you want a bit “more.”

  • Toast the bread.
  • Rub the bread with a cut garlic clove.
  • Marinate the tomatoes with sliced sweet onions and oregano.
  • Substitute the tomatoes for sundried, or roasted red pepper (pimento)—a good choice in the winter.
  • Substitute pesto or arugula for the basil leaves.
  • Grill the sandwich on a panini press.
  • Preparation

    1. SLICE the tomatoes and cover with olive oil. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes or more.

    2. SLICE the bread (note: for a picky guest who didn’t like the “wet bread” from the balsamic and olive oil, we toasted the baguette and added a thin slick of sweet butter to the cut faces).

    3. SLICE the mozzarella and drain the tomatoes.

    4. ASSEMBLE the sandwich: first the basil, then the mozzarella, then the tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve. We love black olives, so we served them in a ramekin on the side.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Classic Peaches & Cream

    For National Peach Month, August, try one of the oldest peach recipes: peaches and cream.

    If you read novels or short stories from centuries past, you’ve no There are many ways to make peaches and cream

    In a book of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories, The Basil And Josephine Stories, he introduces Basil, a fictionalized version of his younger self. One of Basil’s favorite foods: peaches and cream.

    Is peaches and cream as simple as it sounds?

    Yes, if you have juicy, ripe peaches, waiting to be sliced into a bowl and covered with heavy cream (or in the U.K., clotted cream).

    Otherwise, poach or bake the peaches first.

    The following recipe has a Southern spin, with bourbon and brown sugar.

    RECIPE: PEACHES & CREAM

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 peaches, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon + 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons bourbon
  • Garnish: toasted pecans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOSS the peaches with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside until juicy, about 30 minutes (the sugar helps to extract the juices). Meanwhile…

    2. WHIP 1 cup heavy cream until it has begun to thicken; then beat in 4 teaspoons brown sugar. Add the bourbon and beat until soft peaks form. Layer the peaches and cream in dessert glasses and top with toasted pecans.

    FANCIER RECIPES

    For more elaborate preparations:

    Add caramel sauce, as in this recipe from Spache The Spatula. The peaches and cream are drizzled with vanilla bean-zinfandel caramel sauce.

     

    Peaches and Cream
    Classic peaches and cream: ripe peaches and heavy cream (photo courtesy Spache The Spatula).

    Peaches & Cream Shortcake

    [2] A fancier approach: jumbo macaron on clotted cream, filled with peaches and vanilla ice cream (photo courtesy Bestia | LA).

     
    Turn it into shortcake. In photo #2, a jumbo macaron substitutes for the shortcake biscuit. It sits on a bed of clotted cream, and is stuffed with peaches and vanilla ice cream.

    Your own take. How else would you present fresh peaches and cream? Let us know!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Agua Fresca, The Latin American Cooler

    Agua Fresca
    [1] Turn your favorite fruits into agua fresca (photo courtesy and recipe chart below Good Eggs).

    Watermelon Agua Fresca

    [2] If you can borrow a tap dispenser, it’s more convenient than pitchers (photo courtesy Flavor & The Menu).

     

    It’s heading above 90 degrees and humid here for the next few days, and we’re planning enough cool drinks to tide us over.

    Beyond water, sparkling water and our cache of diet soft drinks, we’re making a few quarts of agua fresca. In Spanish, agua fresca means fresh water; but in culinary terms, the water is combined with fresh fruit juice. The result: refreshing cold drinks that are sold by street vendors and at cafés throughout Latin America.

    A traditional agua fresca is an infused, sweetened water, flavored with fruits and/or vegetables. Nonalcoholic and noncarbonated, in the U.S. a similar drink is called a cooler.

    Agua fresca is also available bottled, in numerous flavors, and is made from scratch at home.

    The recipes can include a combination of fruits or veggies, flowers, herbs and/or spices, cereals, seeds, even almond flour. The result is often a more complex layering of flavors than American lemonade and limeade.

    Agua de horchata, a very popular recipe, is made of ground raw rice spiced with cinnamon.

    Other ingredients include flowers (hibiscus), herbs (sorrel), grains (alfalfa, barley, oats, rice), nuts and seeds (almond flour, chía). Try incorporating some of these after you’re already pleased with a basic fruit and/or vegetable recipe.

    HAVE AN AGUA FRESCA PARTY

    Make a few flavors and supply a choice of garnishes.

    Depending on your guests, a choice of clear spirits—cachaca, gin, tequila, vodka—may also be welcome.

  • Fruits: banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, guava, mango, orange, papaya, passionfruit, pineapple, strawberry, watermelon
  • Tart juice complement: lemon, lime, tamarind
  • Garnishes: basil, cucumber wheel, jalapeño, lemongrass, mint, sliced and notched fruit
  •  
    For a vegetable component, cucumber is the most popular (with lime and mint or pineapple). But you can turn to other juices: carrot juice and apple or pineapple, beet juice and berries, etc.

    Keep it light: save the kale and broccoli for the juice bar.

    Chill the drinks in the fridge, but also have a supply of ice cubes.

     

    As an on-trend American update, you can substitute coconut water for all or part of the water in your recipe, especially delicious in this pineapple agua fresca recipe with lemongrass.

    Here’s the agua fresca recipe template. Unleash your inner mixologist and mix different flavors of juice, to create your own signature recipes.

    Agua Fresca Recipe

     

    AGUA FRESCA KEGGER

    A melon tap turns any large, seedless watermelon into a keg (or punch bowl, for a younger crowd), ideal for filling with watermelon-based beverages.

    Simply hollow out the melon, insert the tap and fill it with your beverage of choice.

    A fun element at a gathering, your guests will have a memorable time of dispensing their drinks from a watermelon.

    Serve it as a finale to the last event of the summer.

    Just fill the watermelon with watermelon agua fresca.

    For a hit of alcohol, you can find watermelon-flavored vodka from Smirnoff, Three Olives, Pinnacle (Cucumber Watermelon), UV (Salty Watermelon) and others.

    In the fall, you can do the same with a pumpkin and apple cider (and apple vodka, of course).

     

    Watermelon Agua Fresca In Melon

    [3] A melon tap, available on Amazon, turns a watermelon into a keg (photo courtesy Bradshaw International).

     

      

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    RECIPE: Peach Panzanella, Just Peachy For Lunch Or Dinner

    Peach Panzanella

    Peach Panzanella

    Ripe Peaches

    [1] Peach panzanella as a salad course and [2] a main course, with added mozzarella and prosciutto (photos courtesy Good Eggs). Fragrant ripe peaches [3] are a versatile ingredient at every meal (photos courtesy Pompeian.

     

    August is National Peach Month, honoring the most popular stone fruit: the peach. (Other stone fruits, in the genus Prunus, include almonds, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and the cross-bred apriums, plumcots and pluots.)

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF PEACHES

    The peach originated in China and has been cultivated at least since 1000 B.C.E. Peaches traveled west via the silk roads to Persia, earning them the botanical name Prunus persica. There, they were discovered by Alexander the Great, who mentions half a dozen types and brought them to Greece.

    By 322 B.C.E. Greece was growing peaches, and by 50 to 20 B.C.E., Romans grew them. They called them Persian apples, and sold them for the modern equivalent of $4.50.

    The Romans transported peach trees to other parts of their empire.

    Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages. The Spaniards brought peaches to South America, the French introduced them to Louisiana, and the English took them to their New England colonies.

    To this day China remains the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy second. California produces more than 50% of the peaches in the United States (and grows 175 different varieties). And so many peaches are grown in Georgia that it became known as the Peach State.

    Here’s more about peaches.

    Over the next week or two, we’ll be presenting a menu of peachy recipes, starting with…

    RECIPE #1: PEACH PANZANELLA

    Panzanella, an Italian bread salad that uses up day-old bread, is one of our favorites, tailored to the bounty of each season. Panzanella can be sweet or savory. In the winter, with a paucity of fresh fruit, recipes tend to be savory (here’s a classic winter panzanella recipe).

    But when the season gives you so much fresh fruit, sweeter panzanellas call.

    Panzanella is one of those delicious foods invented by necessity: Poor people needed to get another meal from bread that had gone stale (the history of panzanella).

    In summer grilling season, juicy, caramelized peaches and smoky grilled bread unite in this summer panzanella. These recipes, for a salad course and a dinner salad, are from Good Eggs. They were inspired by Julia Sherman’s new book, Salad for President.

    No grill? Broil the peaches and bread cut-side up in the oven.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 shallot
  • Loaf of sourdough bread
  • 1 pound ripe yellow peaches
  • Fresh basil leaves to taste, torn
  • Sherry vinegar (substitute red wine vinegar)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Additions For Dinner Salad (photo #2)

  • 1/4 pound prosciutto or serrano ham slices
  • 1/2 cup bocconcini or other bite-size mozzarella balls
  • Optional: fresh tomato wedges
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a very hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium. No grill? Use a grill pan in the oven)

    2. CHOP the shallot finely. Cut off two large slices of sourdough. Set both aside.

    3. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil and the shallot in a small bowl. Set aside.

    4. HALVE the peaches and remove the pits. In a large bowl, toss the peach halves and optional ingredients with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil over both sides of the bread slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    5. OIL the grill grate and let it heat up for a minute or two. Arrange the bread slices on the outer edges of the grill grate and the peaches, cut-side down, in the center. Set the peach bowl aside but don’t rinse it.

    6. GRILL the bread on each side for for 1 minute, or until lightly toasted. Grill the peaches until the bottoms are caramelized and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip the peaches and cook for another 3 minutes. If using an oven, broil both the bread and the peaches cut side up.

    7. REMOVE the toasted bread from the grill, allow it to cool enough to handle, and tear it into bite-sized pieces (we prefer to cut it into large croutons). Cut each peach half in half again (or if the peaches are larger, cut them into into large chunks). Place them in the peach bowl along with the torn bread.

    8. DRIZZLE the dressing over the peaches and bread, and toss. Let the panzanella marinate for 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, as desired.

    9. GARNISH with torn basil and serve.

     
     
    MORE PANZANELLA RECIPES

  • Summer Panzanella Salad
  • Basic Panzanella Salad (basil, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes)
  • Chicken Panzanella Salad
  • Panzanella & Fruit Salad
  • Winter Panzanella
  • Zucchini & Bell Pepper Panzanella
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