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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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JULY 4th RECIPE: Mixed Berries & Cheese

How easy is this for patriotic eating on July 4th (photo #1)

  • For breakfast with yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • For lunch with burrata, goat cheese or ricotta.
  • For dessert with vanilla frozen yogurt.
  • As a topping for white-iced cakes and cupcakes.
  • With half-and-half or light cream.
    Or make the recipe below. Thanks to Wisconsin Cheese for the recipe.

    We don’t need a holiday to eat berries: They’re one of our favorite low-calorie, high-nutrition foods.

    Berries are high in antioxidants, and chock-full of vitamins and minerals.

    Here’s why Healthline calls berries “among the healthiest food on earth.”

    For The Honey-Lime Dressing

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh mint
    For The Fruit Salad

  • 15 ounces fontina or white cheddar*
  • 3 cups watermelon balls or a mix of watermelon, raspberries and sliced strawberries
  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • Optional: fresh mint, julienned or shredded

    1. MAKE the dressing. Whisk the honey, lime juice and lime zest in a small bowl. Stir in the mint; set aside.

    2. MAKE the fruit salad. Cut the cheese into 1/2-inch slices, each about 2-inches wide.

    3. CUT the slices with a 1-1/2-inch star cookie cutter, using the handle of a small spoon to press and release the cheese from the cutter at the star points.

    4. COMBINE the fruit in a large serving bowl. Top with the cheese stars. Chill, covered, if you’re not planning to eat immediately.

    5. DRIZZLE with the dressing just before serving; gently toss the fruit salad to coat. Garnish with mint as desired.

    If the berries are not as sweet as you’d like, the honey dressing will give them additional sweetness.

    If you’ve bought berries that are really disappointing, toss them with a bit of sugar or non-caloric sweetener right after you add them to the serving bowl.

    *Unfortunately, pure white cheeses such as feta, goat, mozzarella and queso blanco don’t necessarily slice cleanly with a cookie cutter. They have too much moisture.


    [1] Patriotic berries with cheese stars (photo © Wisconsin Cheese).

    [2] For lunch, hold the semi-hard cheese stars and scatter the berries around soft, milky burrata (photo © Murray’s Cheese).

    [3] A soft or aged goat cheese log, like this boucherondin, is another delicious choice for lunch (photo © Goat Cheeses Of France).

    [4] Aged New York white cheddar (photo © Di Bruno Bros | Philadelphia).



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    RECIPE: Italian-Style Tuna Salad With Chickpeas

    [1] A summery tuna and chickpea salad tossed with balsamic vinaigrette, on mixed greens, with a side of garlic bread (both photos © Delallo).

    [2] Golden balsamic vinegar (more about it below). You can get it from DeLallo.


    You can always count on a can of tuna for a protein-packed salad.

    But you can add even more protein by mixing in some chickpeas (a.k.a. ceci bean [Italian], garbanzo [Spanish] and other names*).

    This tuna salad recipe from Delallo is Italian-style: an olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette instead of mayonnaise (photo #1).

    That means no mayo to spoil in the heat, making the recipe a great patio and picnic food.

    Have it for lunch, or as a first course for dinner.

    And definitely make some garlic bread, on the grill or under the broiler.

    You can also turn a hero-style roll into garlic bread and enjoy the salad as a sandwich. Yum!

    While Italian canned tuna is more flavorful than American brands, it is also costlier.

    So use whatever you have on hand; and when you’re ready for a splurge, treat yourself to an Italian brand.

    Most are so delicious, they can be eaten right on a bed of salad or crostini with no additional ingredients.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons golden sweet balsamic vinegar (photo #2)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers (pimento), drained and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 3 (6-ounce) cans Italian tuna in oil, drained
  • Handful fresh basil, chopped or torn
  • 12-ounces mixed greens

    1. WHISK together olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a large serving bowl.

    2. ADD in the chickpeas, peppers, onion, tuna and basil. Toss well to combine.

    3. CHILL for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld. Serve over mixed greens.



    Traditional balsamic vinegar is a dark and slightly sweet, syrupy vinegar (here’s more about it).

    The authentic balsamics come from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and can be aged for 12 to 150 years. They are pricey, abut worth it to ardent fans.

    The older the bottle, the costlier. A 12-year-old bottle on the shelf can be $40 or more; the balsamics over 75 years old can cost hundreds of dollars.

    That’s because the older balsamics, which more intense and more syrupy/concentrated, get so by evaporating over time. There is a longer holding cost and less vinegar to sell after years of evaporation.

    Not surprisingly, counterfeit balsamics abound. Here’s the scoop on fake balsamic vinegar.

    Supermarket balsamics that cost $5-$10 a bottle are simply regular wine vinegar, colored a deep dark brown with caramel. They’re not magnificent like authentic balsamic, but can be fine for salad dressings.
    The Creation Of Golden Balsamic Vinegar

    The one problem with dark balsamic vinegar is that, whether in a dressing or a sauce, it can turn light-colored ingredients—like fish, chicken breasts and white cheeses like feta—brownish.

    Thus, golden balsamic vinegar was born. It’s also called white balsamic.

    Golden balsamic vinegar originates from the same region of Italy as traditional balsamic vinegar.

    Instead of being made like authentic balsamic from a mandated assortment of local grapes—the mandated grapes in traditional balsamic are Ancellotta, Berzemino, Lambrusco, Occhio di Gatta, Sauvignon, Sgavetta and Trebbiano, all grown in the Reggio Emilia region—golden balsamic is made only from Trebbiano grapes.

    It is cooked for many hours into a caramelized syrup, which is then aged to create the vinegar.

    Instead of aging the vinegar for 12 or more years, golden balsamic is put in oak barrels or stainless steel for only one year.

    The result is sweeter and simpler than traditional balsamic, but welcome when you don’t want your light ingredients to take on color—or when you want a naturally sweet vinegar for drizzles, fruit salads and other dishes.


    *Additional names for chickpeas include Bengal gram in Tamil, India; chana in Hindi and Urdu, India; Sanagalu in Telegu, India; hummus in Arabic; kabuli in Afghanistan; and Egyptian pea.

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    JULY 4th: Recipes For Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Drinks & Snacks

    July 4th is the one holiday where you can make everything (except meat) red, white and blue.

    Our collection of recipes follows, starting with a new one:

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1½ parts vodka
  • 1 part watermelon schnapps
  • ½ part cranberry juice
  • ½ part fresh lemon juice
  • ½ part simple syrup
  • ¼ part blue Curaçao
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: 3 watermelon cubes

    1. BUILD the drink in a rocks glass. Create the red layer by adding watermelon schnapps and cranberry juice over ice (or no ice, if a shot).

    2. CREATE the white layer: Carefully add the lemon juice, simple syrup and vodka.

    3. CREATE the blue layer. Very carefully layer the blue Curaçao to create the color separation, and gently top with soda.

    4. GARNISH with fresh watermelon cubes on a cocktail pick.

  • Red Velvet Pancakes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blueberry Muffins (recipe)
  • Poached Eggs or Egg White Omelet With A Side Of Red & Blue Berries
  • Super Easy Waffles
  • Yogurt Parfait With Star-Shaped Toast (recipe)

  • Apple Ginger Cole Slaw (recipe)
  • Blue Cheese & Red Vegetables (recipes)
  • Chilled Raspberry Soup With Blueberries(recipe)
  • Firecracker Macaroni & Cheese (recipe)
  • Hot Dog Firecrackers
  • Patriotic Cheeseburger (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Potato Salad (recipe
  • Star-Shaped Sandwich Skewers (recipe)
  • Tomato & Mozzarella Skewers (recipe)

  • American Flag Crudité Plate (recipe)
  • American Flag Fruit Skewers (photo)
  • Bacon Flag Pizza (recipe)
  • Bald Eagle Cheese Ball
  • Cheese American Flag (recipe)
  • Marshmallow Pops (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Pops (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Popcorn (recipe)
  • Star-Shaped Tortilla Chips & Salsa
  • Stuffed Celery (recipe)
  • Super Easy Charcuterie Plate

  • American Flag Cookies
  • American Flag Brownie Ice Cream Cake)
  • American Flag Pie
  • Blueberry Cherry Pie With Stars & Stripes Top
  • Blueberry & Strawberry Yogurt Pops
  • Ice Cream With Holiday Sprinkles
  • Oreo Cookie Balls
  • Mixed Berries With Cheese Stars
  • Red, White & Blue Cheesecake
  • Red, White & Blue Frosted Layer Cake
  • Red, White & Blueberry Layer Cake
  • Pavlova Meringue
  • Red, White & Blue Grilled Angel Food Cake
  • Red, White & Blue Angel Food Cupcakes
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Cream Cones
  • Red, White & Blue Jell-O Firecrackers
  • Red, White & Blue Parfaits
  • Red, White & Blue Shortcake
  • Red, White & Blue Tartlets
  • Red, White & Blue Whoopie Pies
  • Triple Berry Biscuit Shortcake
  • Stars & Stripes Toll House Cookies
  • Strawberry & Blueberry Parfait
  • Red Velvet, White & Blue Cupcakes

  • Lady Liberty Sangria
  • Red, White & Blue Frozen Drink Cocktail
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Cubes
  • Red, White & Blue Layered Cocktail
  • Red, White & Blue Layered Pousse Cafe
  • Red, White & Blue Striped Cocktail
  • Red, White & Blue Shots
  • Red, White & Blue Soft Drinks & Cocktails
  • Star-Shaped Ice Cubes
  • Red, White & Blue Tall Tequila

  • Homemade Lemonade With Red & Blue Berries
  • Lady Liberty Lemonade

    [1] Layered cocktail or shot. The recipe is at left (photo © Svedka Vodka).

    Red, White & Blue Yogurt Parfait
    [2] Yogurt breakfast parfait with star-shaped toast. Here’s the recipe from Smuckers (photo © Smucker’s).

    [3] Red, white and blue potato salad. Here’s the recipe from U.S. Potato Board (photo © USA Potato Board).

    [4] You can fill these mini-sandwiches with anything from PB&J to chicken liver mousse and fig jam. Here’s the recipe (photo © Smucker’s).

    [5] Red, white and blue angel food cupcakes. Here’s the recipe (photo © Go Bold With Butter).

    [6] Red, White & Blueberry Shortcake. Here’s the recipe (photo © Driscoll’s).

  • Lemonade With A Blueberry & Raspberry Cocktail Pick
  • Red, White & Blue Iced Tea
  • Red, White & Blueberry Lemonade
  • Spicy Hot Lemonade

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    JULY 4TH: Star-shaped Tortilla Chips With Red, White & Blue Salsa

    We’ve made a lot of red, white and blue recipes for July 4th, and have cut out cake and pie decorations, cheese and cookies and with a star-shaped cookie cutter.

    But this recipe, from Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, raises the bar:

    Using that cookie cutter to make star-shaped tortilla chips.

    It’s paired with a red, white and blue salsa made with Wisconsin mozzarella cheese from Burnett Dairy.

    Ready to roll up your sleeves and make your own tortilla chips?

    Ingredients For The Star-Spangled Salsa (3 Cups)

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, finely diced (about 1 cup—substitute perlini [photo #3])
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet red bell pepper
  • 1 medium jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    For The Star-Shape Tortilla Chips

  • 2 packages (10 ounces each) yellow and red corn tortillas (6 inches)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: paprika
  • 2-inch-diameter star cookie cutter

    1. MAKE the salsa. Coarsely chop 1 cup of the blueberries.

    2. COMBINE the chopped and whole blueberries with the next six ingredients in a medium bowl.

    3. SEASON with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until serving.

    4. MAKE the tortilla chips. Heat the oven to 350°F.

    5. CUT the tortillas with star cookie cutters, about 2 inches. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush the stars on both sides with olive oil; season with salt to taste and paprika if desired.

    6. BAKE for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Serve the chips with the salsa.


    On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from England.

    Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and on July 4th, 1776, it was adopted by delegates from the 13 colonies.

    Independence Day—popularly called July 4th—has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941.

    But long before Congress made it official, celebrations began in the 18th century—during the Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 –to September 3, 1783).

    Shortly after the signing, festivities began: concerts, bonfires, parades and the firing of cannons and muskets, along with the first public readings of the Declaration of Independence.

    Philadelphia held the first annual commemoration of independence on July 4, 1777, while Congress was still occupied with the ongoing war.

    Massachusetts became the first state to make July 4th an official state holiday.

    However, John Adams of Massachusetts, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, believed that July 2nd was the correct date on which to celebrate the birth of American independence.

    He would reportedly turn down invitations to appear at July 4th events in protest [source].


    [1] A great July 4th snack: star-shaped tortilla chips with red, white and blue salsa (photo © Wisconsin Dairy Farmers).

    [2] Blueberries add sweetness to the spicy salsa (photo © Good Eggs).

    [3] If you can find tiny mozzarella perlini (“pearls”), they’re more decorative than diced mozzarella (photo © The Nibble | Melody Lan).

    [4] This recipe substitutes roasted red peppers for the traditional tomatoes (photo © Monjardin.



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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Blooming Tea, Hot Or Iced

    [1] Serve blooming tea iced in a wine glass or a Collins glass (photo © LWXLJMJZC | Amazon).

    [2] A glass teapot is the way to showcase hot blooming tea. You can typically buy them where you buy the tea (photo © Davidson’s).

    [3] If you don’t have a glass pot for hot tea, unfurl the blossom in a glass mug (photo © Teasenz).

    [4] We prefer the appeal of a wine glass, but you can use any tall glass for iced blooming tea (photo © Joy Buy).

    [4] A gift box of blooming teas from Blooming Tea Garden.


    June is National Iced Tea Month. How about something different?

    We love to serve our guests blooming tea, hot or iced.

    Blooming tea is not just a beverage. It’s a feast for the senses, and a treat that no one will soon forget.

    Blooming teas, also known as flowering teas and presentation teas, are hand-crafted balls of white tea leaves (sometimes green tea leaves), arranged to blossom into a beautiful flower.

    The magic comes when you place the ball into hot water. Over a few minutes, it unfurls its leaves into a floral presentation.

    The tea balls (photo #1) comprise the leaves that infuse in the hot water, as well as flower blossoms that add floral notes to the tea.

    Many flowers, since each artisan company has its own flower designs and flavor combinations.

    The teas, typically green or white tea, are fragrant in addition to eye-appealing.

    Blooming teas are hand-sewn balls of tea leaves and flower petals, cleverly stitched together with thread by Chinese artisans.

    In addition to the tea leaves, the flowers used include globe amaranth, chrysanthemum, hibiscus, jasmine, lily and osmanthus, among others. They add flavor and aroma as well as beauty.

    Here’s how the tea balls are made.

    If you don’t want to see how the tea is grown and picked, just fast-forward to the middle of the video, when the tea has been picked and is about to be made into balls.

    The tea blossom can be re-brewed twice more within 24 hours, so don’t throw it away after a single brewing.

    The second and third brewings taste much more delicate, but are still worthy of enjoying.

    The number of times the blossoms deliver flavor depends on the particular tea. Keep trying until there’s no more flavor.

    Refrigerate brewed blossoms in a sealed container for up to 48 hours (remove water prior to storage).

    If the bloom is still in good shape after three brews, you can add it to a cup or glass of regularly-brewed green or white tea.

    We also use blooms that no longer have tea flavor in a glass or pitcher of iced water. The blooms will keep for a couple of weeks.

    To enjoy the beauty of flowering teas, prepare them in glass—a mug, a glass or a teapot like the ones in the photos.

    If you want hot tea, the loveliest way to serve it is in a glass teapot, or individual glass mugs (photos #2 and #3).

    For iced tea, a tall glass or a wine glass is the way to go.

    You’ll have to brew the tea in hot water to open the blossom; then ice it in the fridge.

    Guests miss out on the unfurling, but the presentation is nevertheless impressive.

    (If you use a glass pitcher for brewing, make sure it is heat-proof.)

    You can find blooming tea at dozens of online merchants.

    Just look for “blooming tea” in Google Images, to see the variety of styles available from different merchants.

    Flavored teas work especially well when iced.

    One merchant, Tea Bloom, has a flavored tea ball set that includes Açaí, Blueberry, Cranberry, Jasmine, Litchi, Orange, Peach, Pineapple and Strawberry.

    Blooming teas are great for gifting, and can be purchased in individual packets for party favors and stocking stuffers.



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