THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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Product Watch: Exotic Winter Squash

What do these have in common: acorn, Australian blue, banana, buttercup, butternut, calabaza, carnival, chayote, delicaza, gold nugget, hubbard, kabocha, orangetti, red kuri, spaghetti, stripetti, sweet dumpling and turban? They’re all winter squash—but you probably guessed that from the headline. Do you know how delicious they all are, though? We got a huge shipment from Melissas.com, purveyors of exotic fruits and vegetables, just so we could taste through them all. Call it two weeks of squash bliss. They’re all wonderful, but if we had to pick our personal winner, it’s carnival squash, so good we ate the rind, with a nod to Sweet Dumpling Squash (shown in the photo at the right).   Sweet Dumpling Squash
Sweet Dumpling Squash from Melissas.com.
Squash is good for you, with tons of vitamin A (one serving has four times the RDA—and 52% of vitamin C) and a good source of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese. The calories: just 80 to 100 per cup, depending on variety. Read more about these gorgeous vegetables in the Squash Glossary—one of fifty fascinating food glossaries in THE NIBBLE online magazine. Also try the delicious Butternut Squash Gratin Recipe and check out the Mini Pumpkin & Habañero Cheddar Souffles.

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TRENDS: Tea Is Moving & Shaking

Cup Of Tea
Drink more tea: It’s good for you!
  The U.S. market for tea is expected to double over the next five years, boosted by a growing interest in wellness, says a newly-published report by market research firm Packaged Facts. They project that sales of instant, leaf, liquid concentrate and ready-to-drink tea will reach nearly $15 billion by 2012, compared to $7.4 billion this year. The specialty tea segment of the market, which currently makes up 36% of the total, will grow to more than 50% of tea and ready-to-drink tea sales in the U.S. The main driver of growth is the growing interest in health and wellness foods—and one that promises anti-aging effects. A growing list of benefits include lower risk of certain cancers, weight loss, and protection against Alzheimer’s, all linked to the polyphenol content of the tea (green tea contains 30% to 40% water-extractable polyphenols, black tea between 3% and 10%.
Last month alone, three new studies of tea benefits in major medical journals were released:
– A study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggested that a one gram drink of black tea may have the potential to stimulate an insulin response and reduce blood sugar levels.
– Another study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that drinking five cups of green tea a day may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 48 percent.
– A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking tea regularly may lead to improvements in bone health, similar to that observed with calcium or physical exercise.The American palate has become more sophisticated, too. The day of the generic black tea bag is over. Chai, yerba mate, rooibos and other specialty teas are here to say. Learn more about tea—and see some of our favorite specialty tea brands—in the Tea Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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BOOKS: “My Last Supper” & Chef Pinup Calendar

If your idea of stardom is a celebrity chef, you must read My Last Supper, 50 Great Chefs and their Final Meals. The stunning volume is a perfect coffee table book. The portraits of each chef are divine—from a near-naked Gabrielle Hamilton (Prune, New York City) suckling her infant (and wishing for caviar, cold radishes, soft-scrambled eggs, buttered yeasty toast and ripe cherries), to Dan Barber (Blue Hill, New York City), ethereally slender behind Boris, a huge heritage hog he has raised, who will also be his last meal (“If I’m going, so is Boris”), to Mario Batali, looking like a Roman emperor in a headdress of turnips (his menu is vast). Boston’s Lydia Shire is holding a lobster the size of a two-year-old child, with claws larger than her head (she’ll have a super-prime sirloin steak and two great Burgundies, thank you). You’ll also see El Bulli’s Ferran Adria with his two bulldogs, Anthony Bourdain naked (holding a large, strategically-placed thigh bone), and Laurent Tourondel furtively contemplating a conveyer belt of Krispy Kremes.   my-last-supper-2501.jpg
Buy several for gifts. You can order the book for $26.37 on Amazon.com.
The chefs also tell you who they’d share the meal with, what wines would be served, the setting, and what music would be playing…and they share recipes, as well. This book is true delight for any lover of great restaurants and the chefs who make them possible.
PINUP CHEFS
Marcu

For a slam dunk, cruise on over to The Gourmet Institute to order a copy of The first-ever Chefs of The Gourmet Institute calendar. Melanie Dunea, photographer of My Last Supper (above), took these gorgeous photos, too. They don’t call it a pinup calendar of top New York chefs, but we will. Dan Barber, Anthony Bourdain, Cesare Casella, Scott Conant, Kurt Gutenbrunner, Masaharu Morimoto, Charlie Palmer, Dave Pasternack, Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Laurent Tourondel and Jonathan Waxman are the pinup guys. Calendars are $19.95 each, $1.00 of which goes to Citymeals-On-Wheels. The photo of Marcus Samuelsson (at right), looking like a culinary Cole Porter, is alone worth the price; but each photo is suitable for framing. By the way, Gourmet Institue: why are there no women in this calendar? Were Lydia Bastianich, April Bloomfield, Alex Guarnaschelli, Gabrielle Hamilton, Sara Jenkins, Anita Lo, Jody Willliams and Patricia Yeo all busy the day of the photo shoot? Or is Moet & Chandon, the calendar sponsor, more comfortable with an all-male roster of “favorite chefs?”

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PRODUCT WATCH: Wagatha’s Dog Biscuits—Organic, Kosher & Allergy-Free

Wagatha’s Organic Dog BiscuitsWag for Wagatha’s!
  Wagatha’s of Vermont has just introduced three wheat-free flavors to its line of 100% organic and kosher premium dog biscuits. Many of the ingredients found in Wagatha’s treats are people food, like eggs, extra virgin olive oil, herbs, honey and tomatoes. The biscuits contain vitamins D, E, and B complex as well as calcium, folic acid, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. The new wheat-free flavors are ideal for all dogs, but are espcially perfect for dogs with allergies. The flavors include Breakfast Biscuit (maple oatmeal with bananas & apples), Cranberry Cheddar and Tuscan Tomato & Herb.
The treats are available online at Wagathas.com and at retail in 30 states nationwide. A 9-ounce, reusable canister is $8.95, suitable for new puppy gifts, holiday gifts and just as an special treat for favorite four-legged friends. Wagatha’s also offers a monthly shipment program that will ship a predetermined amount of Wagatha’s Organic Dog Biscuits to you (or a gift recipient) each month. Shipping charges are waived for all orders over $50.00.

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CONTEST: Extreme Family Cookie Challenge

Seeking one-of-a-kind cookie recipes, WearEver is holding its Second Annual AirBake Extreme Cookie Challenge. Do you have the recipe for the most unique and delicious cookie? If so, take on the challenge! Teams of one parent and one child (between the ages of 5 to 15), are invited to submit their most creative cookie recipes. Five finalists will compete in a national “Cookie-Off” in March 2008 in New York City, hosted by Noah Gray-Cabey, the young actor who plays Micah Sanders on the hit T.V. series, “Heroes.” The grand prize is a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond. The deadline is January 7, 2008. Visit Wearever.com for more information, the official rules and entry form.   Winning CookiesCan your cookies beat these winners from the last challenge?
Also: See some of our favorite artisan cookies in the Cookies & Brownies Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine, and read the history of cookies.

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