THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods


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FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Banana Hot Chocolate

Don’t monkey around: Purée a ripe banana and add it to hot chocolate.

One banana is enough for two eight-ounce cups (it stretches further if you want just a little banana flavor). Here’s the simple recipe,

We’re not saying this is a health drink, but it combines potassium and antioxidants and it sure is a mood elevator. For more variety, see our 25 ways to glamorize your hot chocolate. You can find our favorite products in the Cocoas and Hot Chocolates Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine—we’ve reviewed more than 75!
 
RECIPE: BANANA HOT CHOCOLATE

Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • Ripe or over-ripe banana, puréed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Prepared hot chocolate (any kind is O.K.)
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream or marshmallow cream, crumbled graham crackers, banana chips
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and a grind of fresh nutmeg to the banana purée; then divide the mixture evenly between two mugs.

    2. POUR the hot chocolate (reheat as needed) over the purée and stir well. Garnish as desired and serve.

      Hot Chocolate
    Hot chocolate + banana = Banana Hot Chocolate (photo Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE).
     

    Banana purée is just one way to glamorize hot chocolate. See our 25 Tips and enjoy a different variation almost every day of the month.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA & HOT CHOCOLATE

    There is a difference between cocoa and hot chocolate.

  • Cocoa is made from cocoa powder, hot chocolate is made from shaved chocolate bars.
  • Both are mixed with hot milk or water, but since cocoa powder is defatted (most of the cocoa butter is pressed out), hot chocolate is a richer beverage. It can easily have double the cocoa butter of cocoa powder.
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    FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Bad Wrap (For Cheeses)

    Fresh Chevre With Peppercorns
    I’m a living, breathing food—don’t plastic-wrap me! Fresh chévre topped with pepper from Cypress Grove Chevre.
      January 20th is Cheese Lover’s Day, so be sure to give your favorites the respect they deserve. Fine cheese is a living food that breathes and ages. Most cheese should not be kept in plastic wrap, which essentially suffocates the cheese, allows moisture to condense on the inside of the wrap and hastens spoilage. Stores may wrap cheese in plastic for efficiency, but their inventory turns over quickly. The one exception to the plastic wrap rule is dry, aged cheese like Parmesan, where the cheese’s moisture is largely evaporated. Wrap all other cheeses in waxed paper or butcher paper, both of which are protective but porous. Never buy more cheese than you plan to consume over the next few days: Enjoy cheese at its peak flavor. Explore the wonderful world of cheese in the Cheese Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
     

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Kitchen Diary

    filofax-230.jpg
    Convert your old Filofax or Week-At-A-Glance to a kitchen diary.
      Keep a diary in your kitchen—or a document on your computer—of entertaining occasions and what you’ve served to which guests. It serves as a mind-jogger of what was popular, what dishes didn’t fly, who didn’t like fish, who has peanut allergies, et cetera. It also will remind you not to serve the same thing to the same people next time! We retrofitted our old Filofax to include sections for events, menus and guest lists; ideas for future events and pockets for clipped recipes and tips.
     

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    ON OUR RADAR: Interesting Nibbles From The Past Week

    Actor Luis Guzmán (Boogie Nights, Carlito’s Way, Fast Food Nation, Magnolia, Traffic and dozens more) loves Cabot Cheese, and stars in the company’s new ad spots featuring “aging Cheddar hunks.”
    We love Cabot Cheese, too. Its Clothbound Cheddar won Best Of Show at the 2006 American Cheese Society Awards (read our review).The The Reduced Fat Cheddars save up to 75% fat without sacrificing any flavor. The Cabot Creamery website has tons of great recipes. Here are some of our favorites:
    Apple, Bacon & Cheddar Grilled Pizza
    Apple Cheddar Bread Pudding
    Black Bean Bruschetta
    Baked Salmon With Peppercorn Cheese Crust
    Cappuccino Noodle Kugel
    Cauliflower & Cheddar Soup
    Cheddar Crisps Cheese Sticks
    Chicken, Corn & Tortilla Soup
    Matzo Brie
    Potato, Cheddar & Cabbage Casserole (get ready for St. Patrick’s Day)
    Nacho Stuffed Shells
    Pumpkin Soufflé
    Reduced-Fat Cheese Fondue
    Spicy Potato Soup
      Cabot Cheddar
    A stack of Cabot flavored Cheddars.
     

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    FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Blood Oranges ~ Bloody Good & In Season

    Blood orangeRaspberry-colored flesh and raspberry flavor nuances make blood oranges a very special fruit.   From the name, blood oranges should be in season at Halloween. But these wonders are in stores right now. Even our local supermarket has them (but if you can’t find them, you can order them from Melissas.com). They look exactly like regular oranges on the outside, but their inside flesh is a deep rosy red color; and the flavor is a cross between orange and raspberry—some people call them “raspberry oranges.” There are three main varieties; the Tarocco, native to Italy, tends to have a partial raspberry flesh rather than the full-raspberry-hued Moro shown in the photo (the third variety, the Sanguinello, discovered in Spain in 1929, has a reddish skin, few seeds, and a sweet and tender flesh). Whatever you call them, be sure you buy some before the season is over. The Tarocco and Moro are now grown in California—no need to hope for imports. Buy them up and go bloody crazy.
    Eat them for breakfast instead of grapefruit (or squeeze them for heavenly juice); add them to fruit salads, green salads, and seafood and chicken salads for beautiful color and flavor; use sections to garnish grilled fish or to create a concasse; enjoy them for dessert and snacks; and make a memorable blood orange sorbet (Ciao Bella Gelato has one available year-round for sale, and we buy plenty of it).

    Favorite blood orange recipes:
    Blood Orange Mimosa
    Blood Orange Almond Vinaigrette
    Lamb Chops With Blood Orange Sauce & White Bean Purée
    Blood Orange & Chocolate Chunk Soufflé

    Favorite blood orange products reviewed in THE NIBBLE online magazine:
    Kee’s Blood Orange Chocolates
    O Olive Oil Blood Orange Olive Oil
    Italian Volcano Blood Orange Juice
    Palazzolo’s Blood Orange Sorbetto
    Perfect Purée Of Napa Valley Blood Orange Juice
    Robert Lambert Blood Orange Syrup

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