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NEFT Vodka, A Great Sipping Vodka For National Vodka Day

Neft Ultra Premium Vodka
[1] A NEFT martini with just a splash of vermouth (all photos © NEFT Vodka).

Neft Vodka On The Rocks
[2] For Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or other festive event, a bird’s eye chile brightens the glass of NEFT, neat. Because the chile isn’t cut, its flavor and heat don’t infuse into the vodka.

Field Of Rye
[3] NEFT is made from an ancient strain of non-GMO rye.

Rhaetian Alps In Austria
[4] The pure water comes from the Rhaetian Alps in Austria.

 

What are we sipping on October 4th, National Vodka Day? NEFT Vodka!

NEFT is an elegant, ultra-premium vodka that we first wrote about in May.

NEFT vodka is crafted to stand on its own, to be appreciated solely for its taste, with no need for mixers. Just because it is un-aged and colorless doesn’t mean NEFT can’t be sipped straight!

If you’re looking for a “sipping vodka,” treat yourself to a bottle (or a barrel, if you will—photos #1 and #2—the story of the barrel is here).

Room temperature is the ideal way to sip ​NEFT neat, to maximize your enjoyment of its aromatic and flavor complexities.

It can be sipped on the rocks as well, but see the next section before you add ice.

NEFT is made from only Alpine spring water and ancient non-GMO rye grains.

  • The oxygen-rich water, naturally filtered from deep in the Rhaetian Alps of Austria, delivers an earthy, slightly sweet front end and a minerally-smooth finish.
  • NEFT ​utilizes both copper pot and continuous stills to meticulously craft a refined spirit without stripping away ​the essential components of its character ​and terroir.
     
    NEFT Vodka received two Double Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a “Best in Show” in the vodka category.

    The distillery is powered by low-carbon natural gas and is moving toward 100% renewable energy.
     
     
    WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID ICE WITH THE FINEST SPIRITS

    When a fine spirit is served on the rocks, the cooling properties of the ice depress its dominant flavors and aromas.

    In other words, the ice actually masks the flavors and aromas that make the spirit so high-end.

    This is the reason why connoisseurs drink their spirits neat. Some add a drop or two of water to the glass, which is said to open up the flavors and aroma of the drink.

    Most master blenders do the latter. A pair of Swedish chemists decided to examine why adding a bit of water would improve the spirit’s taste.

    Here are their findings.
     
     
    BACK TO NEFT…

    If you try NEFT neat but decide you’d like a mixer, add some French or Italian vermouth, and bitters.

    Certainly, you can mix up a Bloody Mary or a Screwdriver, but the elegance of NEFT will get hidden under all that juice.

    You can purchase NEFT online, or inquire at your local retailer.
     
     
    > The history of NEFT.
     
     
    > The history of vodka.

  •  

     
     

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    Baja Shrimp And Surf & Turf Taco Recipes For National Taco Day

    Pueblo Bonito Resorts in Cabo San Lucas, a resort city on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, is known for its beaches, water-based activities and nightlife—and for the area’s famous Cabo Arch, a rock formation that erupts from the sea.

    The resort is also known for its tacos, which are always on the menu. Two of their most popular recipes are below: Baja Shrimp Tacos, and Ribeye & Shrimp Tacos, a “surf and turf” approach. The recipes, which are just in time for National Taco Day, October 4th, follow.

    But first, some taco trivia:

    The name derives from the “tacos” of gunpowder that miners used to blast through rock during the silver mining era in 18th-century Mexico.

    The humble Mexican miner’s meal has become an internationally beloved food, with an abundance of styles and varieties with fillings that range from traditional to gourmet to creative (corned beef and cabbage tacos, sashimi tacos, etc.).

    In addition to National Taco Day, October 4th, taco holidays include National Fish Taco Day on January 25th, National Crunchy Taco Day on March 21st, and Día del Taco (Day of the Taco) in Mexico, on March 31st. Not to mention, Taco Tuesday every week!

    > Here’s the history of tacos.

    > Here are 20+ delicious taco recipes in addition to the two below.

    Buen provecho!
    (That’s Spanish for bon appétit.)
     
     
    RECIPE #1: BAJA SHRIMP TACOS

    A classic Baja-style taco is made with a fish fillet, either deep-fried or grilled. They are most often topped with cabbage, radishes, and a creamy white sauce.

    This recipe, from the resort’s Peninsula Restaurant, uses shrimp instead of fish and tops it with creamy coleslaw instead of cabbage and white sauce. But the coleslaw has the same basic ingredients as the white sauce: sour cream, and mayonnaise.

    We grilled the shrimp instead of frying them, as the recipe directs.
     
    Ingredients For 6 Tacos

    For The Shrimp

  • 2/4 cup sparkling water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons onion salt
  • 2 tablespoon ground chipotle chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 12 large shrimp, cleaned and peeled
  • 1/4 cup corn oil for frying
  •  
    For The Coleslaw

  • 2 cups red cabbage (washed and julienned)
  • 2 cups green cabbage (washed and julienned)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste (you can substitute celery salt)
  • Optional seasonings: cumin, hot sauce, lime juice
  •  
    For Serving

  • 6 warm flour tortillas or hard corn tortillas
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 fresh cilantro (washed and finely chopped)
  • 1/4 onion, chop into small cubes
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • Salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the coleslaw: Mix the red and green cabbage with the mayonnaise and sour cream. Season to taste. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

    2. PREPARE the shrimp batter: Sift together the flour, onion salt, chipotle, and black pepper. Mix together the eggs and sparkling water in a separate bowl, then add the dry ingredients and mix until the batter is thoroughly incorporated. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

    3. DIP the shrimp into the cornstarch and let excess drip off, then coat the shrimp with the batter. Heat the oil and fry the shrimp until lightly golden. Place them on several paper towels to absorb excess oil.

    4. ASSEMBLE the tacos: Place two shrimp in each tortilla and top with coleslaw, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and onion. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice squeezed. Serve with salt, as desired.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: RIB EYE & SHRIMP TACOS

    This recipe, from the Quivira Steakhouse, is a “surf and turf” taco with grilled steak and shrimp, a cheese crust on the tortillas, and pineapple and jalapeño mignonette sauce.
     
    Ingredients For 3 Tacos

  • 8 ounces/220 grams USDA prime rib eye
  • 4 tablespoons/50 grams shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 3 jumbo shrimp
  • 1 avocado
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons/20 grams finely chopped cilantro
  • 3-1/3 teaspoons/15 grams julienned onion
  •  
    For The Mignonette Sauce

  • 7 ounces/200 grams pineapple
  • 4 tablespoons/50 grams jalapeño
  • 2-1/4 tablespoons/30 grams red onion
  • 2-1/4 tablespoons/30 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 7 tablespoons/100 ml olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DICE the pineapple and red onion into small cubes.

    2. Dice the jalapeño into small cubes after first removing the pith and seeds.

    3. MIX the pineapple, onion, and jalapeño in a bowl, then add the apple vinegar and olive oil. Season to taste and set aside.

    4. RUB the rib eye with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the steak on the grill to the desired doneness, then remove it from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice the steak into small strips.

    5. CLEAN and butterfly the shrimp. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste, then grill for 6 minutes (or until thoroughly cooked).

    6. HEAT the tortillas in a pan or on a griddle. Add the Monterrey Jack cheese and flip. Let the cheese brown, making a cheese crust. The cheese is only on one side of the tortilla. On the opposite side…

    7. ADD a few pieces of sliced rib eye and 1 shrimp to each taco. Add some onion, cilantro, and a few slices of avocado. Add the mignonette to taste, or serve it in a separate ramekin to pass.

     

    Taco Platters With Assorted Tacos
    [1] Tacos galore, at Pueblo Bonita Resorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (photos #1, #2, #3, and #__ © Pueblo Bonito Resorts).

    Shrimp, Mushroom, & Steak Tacow
    [2] A tasty taco trio.

    Steak Tacos
    [3] Ribeye tacos.

    Cilantro & Lime Wedges
    [4] Cilantro and lime juice add zip to just about all Mexican recipes (photo © Lindsay Moe | Unsplash).

    Boneless Raw Ribeye Steak
    [5] Boneless raw ribeye steak. Chuck eye steak is almost as tender and has the same delicious beefy flavor as ribeye, but it’s more budget-friendly (photo © Good Eggs).

    Raw Shelled Shrimp
    [6] Jumbo shrimp, ready for “surf and turf” tacos.

    Fresh Pineapple Chunks
    [7] You can use canned pineapple, but fresh pineapple will add zingy acidity to the mignonette sauce (photo © The Fruit Company).

     

     
     

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    Make Baked Hard Taco Shells From Corn Tortillas: It’s Easy

    Gourmet Tacos In Hard Shells
    [1] Homemade hard taco shells with gourmet fillings, at ABC Cocina in New York City (photo © ABC Cocina).

    Homemade Hard Taco Shells
    [2] (photos #2 and #3 and video © Laura Fuentes | Momables).

    Homemade Hard Taco Shells
    [3] You can pack lots of filling with this broader shape.

    Stack Of Corn Tortillas
    [4] Corn tortillas (photo © Mex Grocer).

    Sashimi Tacos
    [5] Fusion food: sashimi tacos! Here’s the recipe (photo © Haru | RA Sushi).

    Ice Cream Tacos Recipe
    [6] Ice cream tacos for dessert. Here’s the recipe (photo © Taste Of Home).

     

    It’s National Taco Day, October 4th, and it coincides with Taco Tuesday! (Plus, January 25th is National Fish Taco Day and March 21st is National Crunchy Taco Day.)

    Here’s how to make crunchy taco shells. It couldn’t be easier, and there’s just no comparison in flavor between the packaged hard taco shells and freshly-made home shells.

    Laura Fuentes of MOMables has created an easy way to turn flat corn tortillas into hard, crunchy taco shells. Her shells have two added benefits:

  • They’re baked, not fried.
  • They hold more filling than store-bought taco shells, because she drapes them to have a wide, flat bottom.
  •  
    > The history of tacos and Taco Tuesday.

    > Hard tacos vs. soft tacos.

    > There are 20+ more taco recipes below.
     
     
    RECIPE: BAKED HARD TACO SHELLS

    Note that you must use corn tortillas; flour tortillas don’t work.
     
    Ingredients

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • Tongs
  •  
    Preparation

    You can see the process in the video below.

    1. LINE the bottom of the oven with foil to catch drippings. Place one oven rack in the middle position of the oven and one rack on the bottom. Make sure that there is at least 4” of room between the two racks.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    3. MICROWAVE 4 corn tortillas in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds to make them pliable. Transfer them onto a baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.

    4. SPRAY both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray.

    5. PULL the oven racks out, one at a time, and using tongs, drape each tortilla over two bars of the oven rack. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the tortillas are golden and crispy. Carefully remove them from the oven onto a clean baking sheet. You’re ready to fill and serve.
     
     
    21 MORE TACO RECIPES: TRADITIONAL & CREATIVE

  • Braised Beef Tacos With Mole Sauce
  • Breakfast Tacos
  • Butternut Squash Tacos Al Pastor
  • Chantarelle Tacos
  • Chicken Pumpkin Tacos
  • Chorizo Tacos
  • Corned Beef & Cabbage Tacos
  • Fish Tacos With Sautéed, Not Fried, Fish
  • How To Build A Taco
  • Hummus Tacos
  • Sashimi Tacos
  • Slow-Cooked Pork Tacos
  • Summer Tacos
  • Taco Party Menu
  • Taco & Wing Party Bar
  • Tacos With Leftovers
  • Taco Sundae
  • Thanksgiving Leftovers Tacos
  • Turkey Taco Ring
  • Turmeric-Spiced Chicken Tacos
  •  
    Plus, For Dessert:

  • Ice Cream Tacos
  •  
     
     
     

    Video: How to make crispy taco shells.

     

     
     

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    History Of Smoothies & Smoothie Recipes For Global Smoothie Day

    Love smoothies? October 3rd is Global Smoothie Day, A beverage of fruit and yogurt with the consistency of a milkshake, but much healthier.

    While the first smoothies marketed in the U.S. were combinations of fruit and fruit juice, yogurt was later added to the recipe. The concentration of calcium and beneficial bacteria in the yogurt, blended with the fiber and vitamins in the fruit, creates a guilt-free snack.

    Wheat germ, grains*, and other nutrients can be added. But for a starter recipe, just blend 1/2 cup of diced fruit with 3/4 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of milk.

    National Smoothie Day is June 21st.

    > The different types of yogurt.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF SMOOTHIES

    The smoothies that are popular in the U.S. today, made with yogurt and fruit, are an American invention, although they are an evolution of puréed fruit beverages that date back centuries.

    Mediterranean and Eastern cultures have long served pureed fruit drinks. The concept jumped from there to South America, where it became a type of “fruit slush,” with juice and fruit puréed with ice.
     
    Smoothies In America

    The concept of what became known as the smoothie first appeared around the 1930s when health food stores on the West Coast began adapting Brazilian recipes for puréed fruit drinks [source].

    With the invention of the blender and affordable home refrigerators in the 1920s and 1930s, many American households could now enjoy blended drinks at home.

  • The first blender was created in 1922 by a man who used it for soda fountain drinks. An improvement on that design, the Waring blender, was launched in 1933 [more about the history of the blender].
  • Recipes for a “banana smoothie” and a “pineapple smoothie” first appeared in the 1940s Waring Blender cookbooks [source].
  • The first refrigerators for home use were invented in 1913 (see a photo here), and Frigidaire introduced the first self-contained refrigerator in 1923. By the 1930s, the prices had come down enough so that many homes could afford to replace the old ice box.
  •  
    These blended fruit drinks took another leap forward in the 1960s, thanks to hippies seeking healthier foods. Some got the idea to add yogurt—then sold in its original, plain form, as a health food—to the fruit and juice mix. They referred to the drinks as smoothies.

    But “smoothie” was not yet a nationally-known term.

    In 1970 a lactose intolerant man named Steven Kuhnau began to make shakes from fresh fruit, fruit juice, nutrients, and ice. In 1973 he opened a health food store, naming his business after the drink he had heard from hippies: “The Smoothie King.” In 2018, the company opened its 1001st store.

    Prior to Kuhnau’s “Smoothie King,” the term “smoothie” was used beyond beverages, to describe everything from bras and girdles, to ballpoint pens and car paint. There was even a band named “The Smoothies” [source]. (The original brand folded in 1960, and now there’s at least one other with the name.)

    Today, you’ll find smoothies in non-fruit flavors (chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla); but they mostly include crushed ice, frozen fruit, and a sweetener (like the Brazilian “fruit slush”); and often contain yogurt or milk.

    As soon as a newly fashionable ingredient comes along—chia, hemp seeds, matcha, nondairy milk, etc.—you’re bound to find it in a smoothie near you.
     
     
    SMOOTHIE RECIPES

  • Added Protein: Smoothies With Egg Whites
  • Blueberry Avocado: A Stunning Two-Color Smoothie
  • Blueberry, Banana, & Mango Smoothie With Almond Milk
  • Blueberry Mango & Chile Smoothie With A Kick
  • Healthy Green Smoothie With Kale
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie
  • Turn A Smoothie Into A Meal
  • Strawberry Smoothie: A Classic
  •  

    Blood Orange Smoothie
    [1] Blood orange smoothie. Here’s the recipe (photo © Wife Mama Foodie).

    Beet Smoothie
    [2] Beet smoothie and orange (photo © Beetology).

    Red White & Blue Smoothie
    [3] Red, white and blue smoothie (photo © Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter).

    Blueberry Mango Smoothie Recipe
    [4] Blueberry mango smoothie. Here’s the recipe (photo © Blueberry Council).

     
    ________________

    *Oats, millet, and quinoa, among other grains, add a protein punch as well as fiber to smoothies. They also add more creaminess.

     
     

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    Polenta & Pork Ragu Recipe For National Pork Month

    Pork Ragu On Polenta Recipe
    [1] Pork ragù over polenta (photos #1, #2, #4, and #5 © DeLallo).

    Pork Ragu On Polenta Ingredients
    [2] Ingredients for the recipe.

    Raw Pork Shoulder Pork Shoulder[/caption]
    [3] Pork shoulder, also known as Boston butt (photo courtesy Food Nutrition Table).

    Box Of DeLallo Instant Polenta
    [4] Instant polenta is ready in 5 minutes‡‡. You can buy it online from DeLallo.

    Can Of Imported San Marzano Tomatoes
    [5] These San Marzano tomatoes sold by DeLallo are imported. You can also find domestic brands.

     

    In this recipe from DeLallo, the ragù is served Italian-style, atop polenta. But you can use it over pasta, rice, or other grains; and for a great brunch, serve it over scrambled eggs.
     
     
    WHAT’S A RAGÙ?

    A ragù (rah-GOO) is a meat-based sauce. The Italian word derives from the French ragoût, from the verb ragoûter, “to revive the taste.”

    Ragù can be made with any meat or game, but it’s especially good for the less expensive tough cuts that can be made soft and silky with a few hours of simmering.

    A ragù is usually made by adding meat to a soffritto*, a mixture of chopped onions, celery, carrots, and seasonings (garlic and fresh herbs such as parsley or sage), that is partially fried in olive oil.

    (Soffritto is the progenitor of the French concept of the mirepoix‡.)

    The vegetables are then simmered for a long time with tomato sauce. Two famous Italian ragùs for pasta:

  • Ragù alla bolognese (sometimes known as Bolognese sauce) is made with ground pork, beef, and pancetta.
  • Ragù alla Napoletana (Neapolitan ragù) includes sliced beef, raisins, and pine nuts.
  •  
    For National Pork Month, October, we made this Polenta & Pork Ragù recipe for Sunday dinner.
     
     
    > Pork cuts and pork products glossary.

    > Another recipe: Wild Boar Ragù With Pappardelle.

    > Turn leftovers into a ragoût stew.
     
     
    RECIPE: POLENTA WITH PORK RAGÙ

    In this recipe, a tough pork shoulder is transformed into delicious, fall-apart goodness with a silky sauce.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 3 hours 35 minutes.

    We added a sprinkle of fresh herbs because herbs fresh always add a lovely layer of flavor.
     
    Ingredients

  • 3 pounds skinless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup full-bodied red wine
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano-style whole peeled tomatoes
  • ½ cup basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 9.2-ounce box DeLallo Instant Polenta (or substitute)
  • 4½ cups broth
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: fresh herbs, snipped‡
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEASON the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Cook the pork, turning often until evenly browned, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and pour off the drippings.

    2. ADD the onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is starting to brown and caramelize, 12-15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes.

    3. ADD the wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the liquid is reduced by half, 5-8 minutes.

    4. ADD the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go. Then add the basil, oregano, and bay leaves. Stir in 2 cups of water. Add the pork with any juices accumulated on the platter, and season with salt and pepper.
     
    5. BRING the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the pork is falling apart tender, the sauce is thickened, and the flavors have melded, 2½ to 3 hours.

    6. USING 2 forks, break up the pork into pieces. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile…

    7. COOK the polenta according to package instructions. Stir in the butter and cheese.

    8. SPOON the polenta into bowls and top with the pork and sauce. Sprinkle with the herbs, or pass a ramekin of snipped herbs so people can add their own.

     
    ________________

    *Soffritto is sometimes called battuto in Italian, and usually refers to the uncooked mix of vegetables. It’s different from the Spanish sofrito, which may include garlic, bell peppers, tomato paste (or tomato sauce), and spices.

    Mirepoix is a mix of aromatics, made from finely diced vegetables. The mix of vegetables can vary by country. The vegetables are cooked in butter or oil, cooked low and slow to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelizing them with faster, high heat cooking. These slow-cooked aromatic vegetables form the first layer of flavor in many recipes.

    For herbs, rosemary, sage, and thyme are classic pork pairings. But you can use basil or parsley if that’s what you have on hand.

    ‡‡Instant polenta is more finely ground and therefore cooks in as little as five minutes (as opposed to regular polenta which requires at least 40 minutes cooking time). Instant polenta is often less textural and, depending on the brand, can have less flavor when cooked.
     
     

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