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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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GIFT: Jeff’s Famous Jerky, Bacon, Beef Or Turkey

Jeff's Famous Bacon Jerky
[1] Oh so delicious: Jeff’s Famous Maple Brown Sugar Jerky (all photos © Jeff’s Famous Jerky).

Jeff's Famous Maple Bacon Jerky
[2] Prefer hot to sweet? Try Jeff’s Famous Sriracha Black Pepper Jerky.

[3] Jeff’s Famous Beef Jerky.

[4] For chile heads: Jeff’s Famous Carolina Reaper Jerky.

[5] Jeff’s Famous Cranberry Jalapeño Jerky.

[6] Jeff’s Famous Black Pepper. Jerky


America’s consumption of meat snacks has increased by 18% over the past five years, according to recent data from The NPD Group, a market research company.

And America wants more of this high protein, low-fat, grab-and-go snack that’s naturally gluten-free*.

We’ve had Top Pick jerkys before, but they are few and far between. Even small-batch artisan brands can be too tough for us, and/or leave remnants of gristle.

Not so with Jeff’s Famous Jerky. Each variety we tried was melt-in-your-mouth tender, with exquisite flavor. When you can say jerky has exquisite flavor, you know you’ve hit the motherlode.

Jeff’s Famous Jerky, of Mission Viejo, California deserves to be famous, especially for its eye-opening bacon jerky. Bacon or beef, the meats are marinated in deep, layered marinades.

The beef jerky has lower sodium than most brands, with no added MSG or nitrates. The bacon jerky has less sodium than pan-fried bacon.

The only caveat with jerky in general is that it’s high in sodium (don’t buy it for anyone on a salt-restricted diet).

But it’s almost fat free, and it’s solid protein: One ounce has about 23% of one’s daily value of protein.

We don’t like hard, overly chewy jerky. Jeff’s Famous Jerky is so tender and tasty, you can bring it to the dinner table and pair it with fine foods.

  • We really enjoy it “surf-and-turf”-style: with oysters on the half shell, and with ceviche or pan-fried scallops.
  • You can lay it across or at the side of a protein, crumble it on top as a garnish, or mix it into other dishes like vegetables and pasta.
  • With pasta, consider Spaghetti Carbonara (which has bacon in the recipe), Fettuccine Alfredo (bacon is a delicious addition to the cream sauce), or pasta simply tossed with olive oil, bacon jerky and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • With beer or a hearty red wine, it’s a go-to snack.

    Jeff’s makes a variety of delicious, tender jerky varieties. You can buy individual packages or a build-your-own box.

    The flavors are variously spicy, sweet, hot, and combinations thereof. More importantly, they are clean, clear and natural, beautifully layered to imbue the meat with complex flavors.

    All are hormone-free, without added MSG or preservatives, made from American meats.

    Bacon Jerky Varieties

  • Maple Brown Sugar
  • Sriracha Black Pepper
    Beef Jerky Varieties

  • Black Pepper Sea Salt
  • Cranberry Jalapeño
  • Habanero Heatwave
  • Jalapeno Carne Asada
  • Jamaican Jerk
  • Korean Barbecue
  • Old Fashioned Original
  • Pacific Red Hot
  • Sriracha Ghost Pepper
  • Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ
  • Sweet Teriyaki

    Turkey Jerky Varieties

  • Thai Satay Turkey Jerky

    Single-flavor packages are $6.99 at The beef packages contain 3 ounces of jerky; the bacon packages have 2 ounces.

    Build-your-own variety packs offer a 20% savings; and there are gift boxes with personalized notes.



    The word jerky comes from the Quechua language of the Incas, who called their dried meat “charqui.” But they were hardly the first people to make it.

    Neither were Homo sapiens, we can deduce. Homo erectus emerged 1.5 million years ago, and evidence found five years ago in a South African cave suggests Homo erectus that built campfires.

    The remains of animal bones and plant ash could be dated to a million years ago. [source]

    By the time Homo sapiens emerged, 195,000 years ago, man had been enjoying barbecue, and by extension jerky, for some time.

    Drying food is one of the first three food preservation techniques, along with salting and, in northern climes, packing with snow in ice caves or cellars.

    Meat dried over a smoky fire is protected from egg-laying insects and multiplying bacteria (they need moisture to live). Cutting it into thin strips makes it easier to chew.
    All the fat is trimmed from the meat because fat doesn’t dry. The dried meat could (and can) then be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.

    While the prehistoric method of drying the meat was used by other ancient peoples, it was not known in Europe.

    The first visitors to the New World found Native Americans making jerky† from the meat of any animal they hunted (that which wasn’t consumed immediately).

    In addition to helping early colonists stave off starvation, later pioneers who headed west quickly learned to make jerky. It was easy to transport, and was an important, high-protein addition to their diet.

    The meat for jerky could be anything from buffalo to whale. Today jerky can be found in proteins as common as turkey, tuna and salmon, to exotics such as alligator and ostrich.

    Today’s jerky eaters have the luxury of enjoying it as a snack rather than a necessity. We also have the pleasure of using tender cuts of meat marinated in a variety of spices, salt and/or sugar—seasonings that were not available to most ancients jerky-makers.

    Modern jerky is dried in low-heat smokers, as opposed to the ancient technique of hanging strips of meat racks to dry in the hot sun. (The campfire could hold only so much.)

    If your only experience with jerky has been dry and tasteless jerky, you deserve some of the good stuff.

    *Some brands or flavors within brands may use soy sauce or other glutinous ingredient in the marinade.

    †The pemmican you may have read about in tales of early America was dried meat mixed with dried berries and rendered animal fat. It was invented by Native Americans and used extensively by immigrants in the fur trade. Many years later, it served as a high-calorie food for Arctic and Antarctic explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.


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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Mr. Black Cold Brew Espresso Liqueur, The Best Coffee Liqueur

    When we first tasted Mr. Black at a trade show, it was magnificent—but only available in Australia, where it was created.

    Wholesale buyers liked it too, because now it’s widely available in the U.S.

    If you drink other coffee liqueurs, you’ve got to try Mr. Black.

    If you know a coffee drinker who’d enjoy sipping a rich, intense, coffee liqueur, treat them to a bottle of Mr. Black.

    Mr. Black is a cold brew espresso liqueur, and in our experience, one of the best coffee liqueurs you can buy.

    Each bottle is handmade at the company’s coffee roastery and distillery just north of Sydney, Australia (photo #2).

    Mr. Black was developed to appeal to serious coffee aficionados. It emphasizes the purity of coffee flavor using a blend of beans from the best growing regions.

  • Ethiopian Djimmah is a specialty coffee with a light-medium roast bringing chocolate, toffee and fruit flavors to the blend.
  • Papua New Guinea beans add zesty citrus notes.
  • Brazilian Arabica, roasted two ways, brings, fresh cold brew notes.
    Next, the beans are roasted, ground and brewed.

  • The beans are ground with ceramic burrs.
  • The different ground beans are cold-brewed separately, into concentrate.
  • They are then blended to achieve a the best range of flavor and balance.
  • Brewing artisans fine-tune the water composition, temperature and time for each batch.
    The difference between something good and something great comes down to the details, says the company, and they are correct.

  • Straight up or on the rocks.
  • Made into cocktails (see the recipes), including a great Espresso Martini.
  • Added to hot or iced coffee, cappuccino or espresso.
  • Mixed into mousse or whipped cream.
  • Over ice cream or cheesecake.
  • In milkshakes or floats.
  • In a glass of hot milk or hot chocolate.
  • Mixed into chocolate sauce.
    Discover more own the company website.

    You can find Mr. Black at stores nationwide and online. Here’s a store locator for both retail and e-tail.


    A liqueur (lih-KUR) is an alcoholic drink composed of distilled spirits and additional flavorings that can include bark, flowers, fruits, herbs, roots and spices.


    [1] Our favorite liqueur, rich and complex for serious coffee drinkers (photo © Mr. Black).

    [2] Make the best Espresso Martini.

    [3] Filling the bottles at the distillery (photos © Mr. Black).

    And sugar! Often served with, or after, dessert, liqueurs are typically heavily sweetened.

    Liqueurs are historical descendants of herbal medicines. These alcoholic medicines were made in Italy as early as the 13th century, often prepared by monks (for example, Chartreuse).

    The French word liqueur is derived from the Latin liquifacere, which means “to dissolve.”

    October 16th is National Liqueur Day.

    Liqueur has numerous “relatives.” Here’s are their differences.

  • Schnaps/schnapps, a generic German word for liquor or any alcoholic beverage, is more specific in English, where it refers to clear brandies distilled from fermented fruits. The English added a second “p,” spelling the word as schnapps. True Schnaps has no sugar added, but products sold in the U.S. as schnapps may indeed be sweetened. As one expert commented, “German Schnaps is to American schnapps as German beer is to American Budweiser.”
  • Eau de vie is the French term for Schnaps. American-made brands labeled eau de vie (“water of life”) are often heavily sweetened, and have added glycerine for thickening.
  • Liqueur is an already distilled alcohol made from grain which has already been fermented, into which fruits are steeped. It is sweeter and more syrupy than a European eau de vie or schnapps.
  • Cordial, in the U.S., almost always refers to a syrupy, sweet alcoholic beverage, a synonym for liqueur. In the U.K., it refers to a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink or the syrup used to make such a drink. Rose’s Lime Cordial, a British brand, is called Rose’s Lime Juice in the U.S. so Americans don’t think it’s alcoholic.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: French Toast Recipes For National French Toast Day

    [1] Dulce De Leche French Toast with macerated fresh berries, dulce de leche drizzle and a hand-whipped cream (photo © Chica | Las Vegas).

    French Toast Sandwich
    [2] French toast sandwich with jam. Here’s the recipe (photo © Zulka Sugar).

    Apple Pecan French Toast
    [3] Apple Pecan French Toast. Here’s the recipe (photo © Zulka Sugar).

    French Toast Recipe
    [4] Pumpkin-batter French Toast with a sauteed apple topping. Here’s the recipe (photo © Domesticate Me | Peapod).

    Savory French Toast
    [5] Savory French Toast topped with tomatoes and cheese. Here’s the recipe (photo © Castello Cheese).

    [6] Peach & Banana Stuffed French Toast (photo © Mackenzie Ltd.)


    November 28th is National French Toast Day, but this year it fell on Thanksgiving.

    So think of this tip not as being a day late, but as inspiration for Thanksgiving Weekend brunch. Thanks to Flavor & The Menu for the list.

    While these ideas are for pan-fried French toast, you can also bake French Toast: equally delicious!

    You can also make French Toast sandwiches like the Monte Cristo, an evolution of the Croque-Monsieur, a French sandwich of ham and Gruyère cheese, buttered and lightly browned on both sides in a skillet or under a broiler.

    Here’s the recipe so you can try it for lunch—although probably not on the same day you have French Toast for breakfast.

    Now, to the mix-and-match ingredients list. Try different combinations to find your signature French Toast recipe.

    There are no limits on bread varieties, shapes, thickness.
    Traditional French Toast Breads

  • Brioche
  • Challah
  • Texas toast (thick slices of buttered white bread)
    Non-Traditional French Toast Breads

  • Babka
  • Baguette
  • Banana bread, zucchini bread, gingerbread
  • Cinnamon rolls, sticky buns
  • Croissant
  • Monkey bread
  • Panettone (recipe) or pandoro (recipe)
  • Pound cake
  • Raisin bread
  • Swirl bread (cinnamon, pumpkin)
  • Whole grain bread

    You can dip the bread into the batter right before cooking, or soak it overnight.

    Here’s the classic custard dip, plus special batters that a surprise of flavor.

  • Classic: whole milk or heavy cream, eggs, pure vanilla extract, cinnamon and/or nutmeg
  • Pancake: use a thinner version of pancake batter to dip the bread, combining two breakfast classics
  • Savory: buttermilk, eggs, chopped fresh herbs, sea salt, cracked pepper
  • Seasonal: egg nog (recipe)
  • Textural: retro cereal coatings, healthful cereal/granola coatings, puffed grains, seeds
  • Tres leches: evaporated milk, Thai coconut milk, heavy cream, eggs and pure vanilla extract, honey, cinnamon

    Plain French Toast is great comfort food. But why not add an element of excitement with fillings between the layers of bread?

  • Bananas or caramelized bananas
  • Compote, sautéed fruit
  • Cream cheese (plain or flavored) or other soft cheese
  • Custard
  • Dried fruit relish
  • Flavored custard, whipped cream style cheeses
  • Ice cream
  • Jam (including PB&J French Toast)
  • Nut compotes, nut butters
  • Nutella
  • Savory: seasoned ground meat and/or vegetable blends, tomatoes and cheese (recipe), olive cream cheese and fresh basil or arugula, etc.

    Sweet, savory, indulgent, healthful, fun/whimsical and premium: Take your choice.

  • Dessert interpretations: Bananas Foster, cheesecake, tiramisu, pies/crumbles, churros
  • Fresh or macerated fruit
  • Fried egg
  • Housemade relishes and compotes
  • Whipped flavored mascarpone
  • Soft savory cheese (herbed goat cheese, for example)

    Classic and/or modern finishes complete your French Toast delight.

  • Caramel, including flavored caramels
  • Chocolate sauce or spiced chocolate sauce drizzle
  • Crème anglaise
  • Preserves or marmalade
  • Pure maple syrup or fruit-infused syrup
  • Warmed honey or spicy honey
  • Whipped honey butter



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    STOCKING STUFFER: Lucha Crunch Bar, The Undisputed Champion

    In Mexico, “lucha libre” is freestyle wrestling (literally, “free fight”).

    It has developed into a stylish form of the professional wrestling, characterized by colorful masks, rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers, and “high-flying” maneuvers, some of which have been adopted into U.S. wrestling.

    Gearharts Chocolates has ported the colorful spirit of wresting into a scrumptious chocolate crunch bar, which has become our new favorite candy.

    The Lucha Crunch Bar is a 5″ x 2.5″ delight that is not to be missed.

    The enticing packaging has artwork in Lucha Libre style, including a mask!

    The luscious, nut-free candy bar inside is filled with Mexican-inspired flavors:

  • Caramel infused with fresh lime.
  • “Half-popped” popcorn for crunch.
  • A touch of chili rojo (red chile) for a bit of kick.
  • A cloak of Gearharts signature blend 40% milk chocolate.
    We can’t adequately describe the bodacious blend of flavors, except to say:

    All hail the Heavyweight Champion! Lucha Crunch Bar is our favorite chocolate find of the year.
    We’re buying a dozen as stocking stuffers, and another dozen to feed our chocolate fix.

    Hopefully, we’ll be able to limit our consumption to one bar per week.

    Get yours at


    Get yours at

    [1] A bite of Lucha Crunch Bar is a bite of heaven (both photos © Gearharts Chocolates).

    [2] The package is designed in the bright colors of Mexico and the mask of a Lucha Libre wrestler.


    The first candy bar was created in 1866. Here are the oldest bars, thanks to, from which this content was adapted.

    To see photos of the bars, click here.

  • 1847, England: Joseph Fry Chocolate Bar. Fry created the first molded chocolate bar in 1847, followed by the Chocolate Cream Bar, the first mass-produced candy bar, in 1866. It had a flavored fondant center.
  • 1875, Switzerland: Nestlé Milk Chocolate. The first milk chocolate bar was originally called the Gala Peter after Daniel Peter, who figured out how to make milk chocolate.
  • 1879, Switzerland: Lindt Chocolate Bar. Rodolphe Lindt created the breakthrough—called conching—that transformed the original hard, chewy chocolate into the smooth, creamy chocolate we know today.
  • 1900: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, United States. Milton S. Hershey’s milk chocolate bar was the first mass-produced chocolate in the United States. Before then, most of the world’s chocolate bars were made in Europe, especially Switzerland.
  • 1905, England: Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar. Cadbury had been producing chocolate bars since 1894, but the Dairy Milk Bar featured a higher proportion of milk. It was an instant hit.
  • 1908, Switzerland: Toblerone. Theodore Tobler developed the bar with his cousin Emil Baumann, adding Italian nougat (torrone), almonds and honey to milk chocolate. The name of the bar is a combination of Tobler and torrone, and the triangular shape was inspired by a pyramid of dancers at the Folies Bergères.
  • 1914, England: Fry’s Turkish Delight. From the same family that created the first chocolate bar, this bar covered Turkish Delight, a confection dusted with powdered sugar, in milk chocolate.
  • 1917, United States: Clark Bar. This milk chocolate bar with a crunchy peanut butter center was created by David L. Clark, an Irish-born candy salesman. His company later created the Zagnut Bar.
  • 1920, United States: Oh Henry. Created by the Williamson Candy Company in Chicago, this bar is a mixture of peanuts, caramel and fudge, coated in milk chocolate. The story is that the candy bar was named after a young man who often came to the factory to flirt with the female workers.
  • 1928, United States: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. H. B. Reese created this combination of peanut butter and chocolate. He worked in Milton Hershey’s chocolate factory and was inspired to started making his own chocolates.
    Company ownership may have changed, but all of these bars are still made today!

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Baked Brie Toppings

    [1] Baked Brie with cranberries and olives. The recipe is below (photo © DeLallo).

    [2] Caramelized onion baked Brie (photo © Paul Binet | iStock).

    [3] The simplest topping: jam or preserves. Add chopped nuts or snipped herbs (photo © Murray’s Cheese).

    [4] Here, the honey and rosemary were added before the Brie was baked (photo © Urban Accents).

    [5] Cranberry-pecan baked Brie. Here’s the recipe © Damn Delicious).

    [6] A dessert Brie topped with caramel and pecans (photo © McCormick).


    We have a certain warm anticipation to having guests in the fall and winter: Baked Brie.

    We first discovered the concept in college, thanks to our friend Lesley.

    She served us a plain baked brie with Triscuits. We had eaten many a slice of Brie with wine; but the simple act of briefly baking put the creamy, oozy cheese in a new light: a party light.

    We have lots of ideas below, but let’s start with some tips.

  • Brie is like chicken: It pairs well with many other flavors.
  • Some people like Brie en Croûte, wrapping the Brie in puff pastry prior to baking it. We find that it overkill: You’re already serving the Brie with bread or crackers.
  • Some people like to cut the rind off the top before baking. That’s one way to make it easy to scoop out the melted cheese, but we just happen to love the rind of a Brie.
  • Add some herbs onto any topping: sweet, savory or combination. At the least, add sprigs of fresh woody herbs—lavender, rosemary, sage or thyme—to garnish the plate.
  • Toast the nuts if you have time: They’ll taste better (here’s how to toast nuts).
  • Toss some apple slices, celery sticks or whole strawberries onto the plate for people who love cheese but avoid carbs.
  • If you know that some guests can’t have nuts, leave them off. You can add them to the side of the plate for people who want to scoop some up.
  • We prefer to serve Baked Brie with toasted baguette slices plus fruit-and-nut toasts like Raincoast Crisps; but everyone has his or her favorite (and budget).
    ANOTHER TIP, which we embrace: If you have the right size baking dish or ramekin, bake the Brie in it and serve it that way. It’s the non-messy solution: Nothing oozes all over a plate or platter.

    We’re starting with a recipe for a savory Baked Brie with olives, but we have 30 recipe combinations below, for:

  • Sweet Brie Toppings
  • Sweet & Savory Brie Toppings
  • Savory Brie Toppings
  • Dessert Brie Toppings


    This recipe from DeLallo was originally made with fresh cranberries instead of pomegranate arils.

    We found the fresh cranberries to be too tart, so we substituted the arils. Alternatively, you can use dried cranberries, which sweetly offset the saltiness of the olives.

  • 1 baby Brie cheese (8-ounce round)
  • 1/4 cup pitted mixed olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries or whole arils or dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Bread and/or crackers to serve

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350˚F. Place the Brie on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake until softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    2. TOP the Brie with the olives, walnuts and cranberries. Drizzle with honey. Serve with bread, crackers or toasts of choice.



    The best way to get the toppings to stay on the brie is to cover the top with a think spread of honey (regular or creamed) or jelly when it comes out of the oven.

    Then, quickly add the topping(s) and serve.

    Sticky toppings such as jam and similar textures don’t need any extra help.

  • Cherry preserves, balsamic vinegar and chopped toasted pecans.
  • Creamed honey, chopped honey-roasted peanuts, dried cherries.
  • Creamed honey, sliced strawberries, sliced almonds, chopped rosemary.
  • Fresh berries (optionally marinated in liqueur) with shredded basil.
  • Fresh figs and pistachios with a balsamic drizzle.
  • Grand Marnier-marinated berries.
  • Holiday Brie #1: cranberry and almonds, pecans or chopped pistachios, topped with orange zest. Here’s the recipe.
  • Holiday Brie #2: cranberry relish.
  • Holiday Brie #3: fig jam, dried cranberries, chopped toasted hazelnuts.
  • Honey Bun: mix chopped walnuts and raisins into regular or creamed honey.
  • Pumpkin pie filling and pecans (bake on top of the Brie).
  • Roasted grapes, multicolor, halved before roasting.
  • Spiced caramel with pepitas.
  • Toasted old-fashioned oats, toasted chopped walnuts, diced apples Brown sugar and cinnamon.
    When you have nothing else in the house but the Brie and the basics:

  • Fruit preserves, chutney or marmalade, with raisins and chopped nuts.
  • Honey and chopped dried fruit.
  • Honey and granola.

  • Bacon jam, with or without chopped herbs.
  • Orange marmalade with rosemary leaves.
  • Pepper jelly, with or without chopped herbs.
  • Mango chutney with chopped roasted peanuts.

    If you want only savory toppings, here are three of our favorites:

  • Caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms with thyme, fresh arugula, optional crumbled bacon.
  • Chopped sundried tomatoes in EVOO (drained) plus fresh, shredded baby arugula.
  • Chopped sundried tomatoes and artichokes.

    Some people like to turn baked Brie into a dessert cheese course, with caramel or spiced caramel sauce, toasted or candied pecans and other sweet toppings of choice.

    Serve a dessert brie with graham crackers, toasted raisin bread or wheatmeal biscuits.

  • Apple crisp baked Brie, with sauteed diced apples, raisins and streusel (substitute granola for the streusel).
  • Maple-Pecan pecans in maple syrup.
  • Pecan praline: Pecan halves in butterscotch sauce.
  • Raspberries With balsamic glaze.
    Consider adding a dessert wine: a sweet Muscat/Moscato, a sparkling red Italian Brachetto, or anything your wine store clerk recommends.


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