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

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ENTERTAINING: How To Choose A Caterer

Dinner Party
A good caterer can transform your living room into a dining fantasy.
  Are you yearning to have a smashing party this holiday season (or any time), but lack the time, organization skills and/or vision to make it materialize? There’s no problem with any of that—a wonderful caterer is a party-giver’s best friend. He or she can take care of everything, so all you need to do is send out invitations. A great party can cost as much as a vacation—but it’s just as memorable, and many more people will remember it. Before you hire a caterer—or just to learn more about the process—read How To Hire A Caterer to ensure a great time for you and your guests. Tips include how to source great caterers, the interviewing process and all of the extras you should plan for.

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ENTERTAINING: Specialty Foods For Thanksgiving Dinner

If you’re spending the weekend planning Thanksgiving dinner, we have some suggestions for you. First, take a look at our article, Specialty Foods For Thanksgiving Dinner, for subtle ways to bring even more excitement your meal. Serve Hint Pomegranate-Tangerine infused water (no calories), replace the regular soft drinks with Fizzy Lizzy sparkling juices (Northern Lights Cranberry or Red Hill Pomegranate), Izze sparkling juices (Clementine, Pear & Pomegranate) and GuS’s Grown-Up Sodas (Dry Cranberry Lime, Dry Crimson Grape and Dry Pomegranate). Peruse the other choices, which end with Häagen-Dazs Caramelized Pear and Toasted Pecan Ice Cream and Pumpkin Spice Bonbons from Chocolat Céleste. Or, we can highly recommend the pumpkin cheesecake from Elegant Cheesecakes (shown in photo). Everything you see is edible, except the plate.   Pumpkin Cheesecake
The Great Pumpkin, this year, is this cheesecake from Elegant Cheesecakes.
Next, take a look at Pairing Mineral Waters With Thanksgiving Dinner, and Thanksgiving Wine Pairings—plan different wines for the main course as well as dessert. We always give thanks for a great dessert wine.

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PRODUCT WATCH: Recchiuti Fall Chocolates

Recchiuti Chocolate
Available only through the end of November.
  Just for the month of November, San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti has dressed up his best-selling Burnt Caramel chocolate, decorated with a delicate pattern of falling leaves. They’re almost too pretty to eat…but we said almost. Treat yourself, buy some for hostess gifts, use them as table accents for dinner parties. Give the kids chocolate turkeys at Thanksgiving, and bestow these upon more grateful palates. Eight pieces are $18.00. Read our full review of Recchiuti Chocolate in THE NIBBLE online magazine. For more Thanksgiving chocolate ideas, don’t miss this roundup of our favorites, Thanksgiving Candy & Chocolate.

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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 Melissa’s Produce, 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 (photo #1), so good that we ate the rind. Sweet Dumpling Squash (photo #2) took second place.

So check your farmers markets or order online from Melissa’s. You won’t be disappointed!

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 100 fascinating food glossaries on THE NIBBLE.

Try these recipes:

  • Butternut Squash Gratin Recipe
  • Mini Pumpkin & Habañero Cheddar Soufflés
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash With Lime & Butter

    Carnival Squash
    [1] Carnival squash (photo © Kitchen Agents).

    [2] Sweet dumpling squash (photo © Organically Grown Company).



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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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