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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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PRODUCT: Rooibos Chai Tea, No Caffeine

Lovers of spicy chai tea have an alternative to black tea.

This chai from Fave Tea is made with a base of rooibos (red tea), an herbal tea that’s naturally caffeine-free (photo #1).

Now, chai fans who don’t want caffeine free can enjoy it day or night.

While most herbal teas don’t mix well with milk or cream, rooibos chai takes either, very well.

If you like sweetened tea, add your sweetener of choice. It will enhance the cardamom and peppercorn notes of the chai.

What is chai?

Chai tea is an erroneous American term for what should be called masala chai. In Hindi, chai is the generic* word for tea; masala means spiced.

In other words, it’s spiced tea.

What is rooibos?

Pronounced ROY-boss, rooibos is a bush that grows in South Africa. The name means red bush in the Afrikaans† language; the leaves steep into a red-colored brew (photo #2).

Honeybush is a cousin to rooibos, also cultivated in South Africa. It is similar in flavor (slightly sweeter with a fuller body) but its flowers have the aroma of honey; hence the name.

Rooibos is very healthy: no caffeine, high levels of antioxidants and low levels of tannin. Children—even infants—can drink it.

Ready to drink some?




[1] Fave Tea’s chai tea is a beautiful blend (photo © Fave Tea).

[2] All rooibos teas brew into a red liquor. That’s what the brew is called in tea terms (photo © Republic Of Tea).



*Traditional chai is a strong black Indian tea infused with milk, sugar, and spices—commonly cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppercorn, clove and nutmeg (chocolate or licorice also can be used). In India the beverage is known as masala chai, or spiced tea: Masala is the Hindi word for spice, and chai is the Hindi word for tea. While chai is traditionally made from black tea, green tea chai and rooibos chai have become popular.

CHAI VS. TEA: All related forms of the word chai—Turkish çay, Russian/Persian/Hindi/Urdu chay, etc.—derive from the original Mandarin, cha. Cha became the Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese word for tea. Other Chinese dialects have different words; e.g. the Wu dialect spoken around Shanghai uses the word zu and the Hokkien dialect spoken around the port of Xiamen in the Fujian province uses the word tay. The word “cha” traveled to the Middle East and Eastern countries, while “tay” traveled to Europe and became our word for tea.

Xiamen was the port of trade first used by Europeans (mainly the Portuguese) in 1541. Near the end of the Ming Dynasty, in 1644, British merchants set up trading posts there; in the 19th century, it was China’s main port for exporting tea. As a result, the Hokkien dialect spoken there, not Mandarin which traveled west via overland trade routes, influenced what Europeans called the beverage. What the Xiamenese people call tay, the British spell tea, the French spell thé, the Spanish té, the Italians tè and the Germans, tee. The pronunciation varies from “tay” to “tee.”

Other words from the Hokkien language that entered English: ketchup (kiô-chap), Pekoe (pekh-hô), kowtow (khàu-thâu) and Japan (Jit-pún).

Afrikaans is a West Germanic language spoken in South Africa and Namibia and, to a lesser extent, in Botswana and Zimbabwe. It began to develop independently in the 18th century, an offshoot of several Dutch dialects spoken by the mainly Dutch settlers of what is now South Africa.



HOLIDAY GIFT: A Basket Of Baby Vegetables

A pretty basket of baby veggies will delight the healthy eater (photo © Melissa’s Produce).


Who can resist the allure of baby vegetables?

Here’s a special gift from specialty company Melissa’s Produce, for your favorite vegetarian, vegan, healthy eater or foodie-in-general.

Each delicately woven gift basket is brimming with fresh vegetables, which are artfully arranged into a charming presentation.

The gift basket is available year-round, so the assortment of baby vegetables can vary from season to season.

It may include baby versions of artichokes, beets, broccoli, carrots, kohlrabi, leeks, potatoes, radishes, romanesco cauliflower, squash and turnips.

Wrapped in cellophane and trimmed with a colorful ribbon, this tasty gift is high in nutrition and eye appeal—and low in calories!





RECIPE: Cranberry Salsa For Thanksgiving & Christmas

Try this seasonal spin on salsa: Switch out the tomatoes and garlic for cranberries and apples.

Low in calories and gluten free, you can keep it in the fridge for snacking or as a general condiment: mixed into yogurt for breakfast or lunch, as a creamy dip with the yogurt, as a salad dressing with oil and vinegar, or as a side with dinner.

Thanks to Pampered Chef for the recipe.

You can make this recipe ahead of time. Just store it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to two days.

You can use fresh or frozen cranberries (the history of cranberries).

For a less spicy salsa, remove the seeds and veins inside the jalapeño. They are the source of the capsaicin, the chemical compound that provides the heat of the chile.

Different chile varieties have different levels of heat. Check out the different types of chiles.

Check out this interesting kitchen tool, Core & More, from Pampered Chef.

A multitasker, for this recipe it quickly and easily remove the seeds and veins of the jalapeño.

Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1 jalapeño chile pepper
  • ½ medium Granny Smith apple (substitute Cortland or Fuji)
  • 1 scallion (green onion)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup (250 mL) cranberries, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) fresh cilantro leaves
  • Tortilla chips or dippers of choice

    1. REMOVE the stem from the jalapeño, then cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and veins with a paring or utility knife. Place the jalapeño into a food processor.

    2. CUT the apple and scallion into chunks and add to the processor. Process until finely chopped.

    3. JUICE the lime and add 1 tablespoon of juice (15 mL) to the processor. Add the cranberries, sugar and cilantro. Process until the cranberries are coarsely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

    4. SERVE the salsa in a small bowl with the dippers on the side.
    Nutrition Per 2 Tablespoon/30 mL Serving

    Calories 20, Total Fat 0 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 0 mg, Carbohydrate 5 g, Fiber 1 g, Sugars 4 g, Protein 0 g


    [1 Cranberry salsa: fusion food for the holidays (photo © Pampered Chef).

    Cranberry Pancakes Stack
    [2] Fresh cranberries (photo © Ocean Spray).

    [3] Frozen cranberries (photo © Good Eggs).




    COCKTAIL RECIPE: Milk Punch For Thanksgiving Or Christmas

    [1] What to serve before holiday dinners: Bourbon Milk Punch (photos #1 and #2 © Woodford Reserve.

    [2] Woodford Reserve makes several expressions of Kentucky Bourbon, including a double-oaked version that’s a real find for oak lovers. They also distill malt, rye and wheat whiskeys.

    Bourbon Milk Punch
    [3] You can serve milk punch in whatever glasses you have, from rocks to stems to (of course) punch cups (photo © Bread Booze Bacon).

    Milk Punch
    [4] Milk punch on the rocks (photo © Michelle Banovic | The Atwood | Chicago).


    Milk punch falls in the category of drinks made with milk or cream.

    Examples include the Brandy Alexander, Classic Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper, Irish Coffee, Mudslide, Pink Squirrel, White Russian, and many others (hey—another idea for a themed cocktail party: cream-based cocktails).

    Milk punch combines brandy or bourbon* with milk, sugar and vanilla extract, typically garnished with grated nutmeg.

    FOOD TRIVIA: When cocktails were first being developed and spirits were not as elegant as many are today, sugar was added to cocktails to cover up the [bad] taste of the alcohol, as was milk.

    The history of milk punch is below.

    Woodford Reserve Bourbon created this Milk Punch recipe (photo #1) using their Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (photo #2).

    It’s a crowd pleaser that’s easy to make.

    For the fresh-grated nutmeg garnish, just buy nutmeg “nuts” (they’re not nuts, but seeds that look like nuts)†.

    Then, using a Microplane or similar tool at your disposal, freshly grate the garnish over each drink.

    We personally use a nutmeg grinder that saves our fingertips, because the “nuts” aren’t easy to hold. It’s an inexpensive must-have if you use a lot of nutmeg.

  • 2 cups cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • ¾ cup sifted powdered sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean split lengthwise (substitute 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
  • Fresh grated nutmeg

    1. PLACE a metal bowl over an ice bath. Whisk together the cream, milk, bourbon and sugar, until nice and frothy.

    2. ADD the vanilla bean and pour into a pitcher (we used a lidded plastic container). Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.

    3. STRAIN out the vanilla bean through a fine mesh strainer and return to the pitcher for serving. (If you’ve used vanilla extract, skip this step).

    4. POUR into glasses and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.


    Milk punch was popularized in the 17th century by Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing. At the time, all types of punch were served from a punch bowl.

    The milk punch of the era was made with cream curdled with lemon juice. Those recipes gave way to milk punches that use(d) fresh milk or cream, like egg nog—which is a milk punch enriched with eggs.

    Milk punches—egg nog or other—became holiday and celebratory traditions (for example, Mardi Gras).

    In modern-day New Orleans, milk punches vie as brunch drinks with the Bloody Mary, created in 1940 in New York City (Bloody Mary history).

    There are as many recipes for milk punch as for anything else, but for Mardi Gras we serve up the recipe from Brennan’s, a favorite New Orleans restaurant since 1946.

    For a 17th-century-type recipe, try Benjamin Franklin’s recipe. He used brandy and included lots of lemon juice (which curdled the milk).

    This, and other cognac-based milk punches, often use Napoleon brandy, a designation for a brandy or cognac aged at least five years. Feel free to use VSOP; with all the cream and sugar, the nuances of the Napoleon will be covered up.

    If you don’t like or don’t have brandy, you can substitute bourbon, rum, whiskey and even tequila.

    Despite its name, nutmeg isn’t a nut. It’s really a seed. If you have a nut allergy, you may be able to eat nutmeg without any risk of an allergic reaction. However, if you have a seed allergy, you may need to avoid nutmeg since it’s technically from a seed.


    *Bourbon is the traditional spirit, as is brandy. But you can substitute another whiskey or rum, and add some liqueur.

    †Nutmeg is a spice made from the seed of the nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree. Native to Indonesia, it is the source of two popular spices: nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the inner seed, while mace is the red, lace-like substance that covers the seed.



    HOLIDAY GIFT: Festivus Maple Syrup & More Maple Syrup Gifts

    [1] Festivus Maple Syrup, infused with holiday spices (all photo © Runamok Maple).

    [2] Twin recipes, different names. Festivus is the tongue-in-cheek version of Runamok’s Holiday Spiced Maple Syrup.

    [3] Maple syrup is a great gift. You know the recipient will be able to use it.


    Fine maple syrup is a great holiday gift for a foodie.

    A gift from a premier line like Vermont’s Runamok Maple shows how great maple syrup can be.

    Runamok is an artisan producer of specialty maple syrup.

    And their syrups are not just for breakfast. These syrups are special garnishes or mixed ins for cocktails, desserts, marinades, sauces and more.

    > Here are 18 ways to use maple syrup beyond breakfast.

    There are not only classic varieties—Traditional, Bourbon Barrel Aged, Rum Barrel Aged and Whiskey Barrel Aged—but exciting flavored ones:

    Flavored Maple Syrups: Cardamom Infused, Cinnamon + Vanilla Infused, Coffee Infused, Elderberry Infused, Ginger Infused, Hibiscus Infused, Jasmine Tea Infused, Makrut Lime Infused, Smoke Infused and Smoked Chili Pepper Infused.

    Limited Edition/Seasonal Flavored Syrups: Cocoa Bean Infused, Holiday Spice Infused, Strawberry Rose Infused, and a new Festivus Infused (more about that in a minute).

    How to choose? It isn’t easy, with so many exciting choices.

    But here are staff favorites: Coffee Infused Maple Syrup, Makrut Lime-leaf Infused Maple Syrup, Smoked Chili Pepper Infused Maple Syrup and the non-infused Whiskey Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup.

    Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup. This flavor has similar vanilla notes to the classic Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup, but with an apple infusion. Buy it here.

    Festivus-Infused Maple Syrup. A cheeky label brings a smile to fans of Seinfeld. The ingredients are the same as the Holiday Spice Infused Maple Syrup. Buy it here.

    Holiday Spice Infused Maple Syrup. Runamok’s classic maple syrup is infused with the cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and vanilla for some holiday sparkle. Buy it here.

    For mega-holiday sparkle, check out Runamok’s unique…

    Sparkle Syrup. The bottle of maple syrup is filled with edible gold glitter. You shake it, snow globe-style, to diffuse all the glitter before pouring. The glittering condiment will thrill adults and kids alike. Buy it here.


    Most Seinfeld fans think that Festivus was the creation of Larry David, the head writer of Seinfeld.

    But the Festivus holiday was conceived by author and editor Daniel O’Keefe—not for the year-end holidays but to commemorate his first date with his future wife.

    It was celebrated by his family as early as 1966.

    His son, TV writer Dan O’Keefe, introduced it to Seinfeld when he co-wrote the the 1997 Seinfeld episode, “The Strike.”

    The episode takes place during the holiday season, and aired on December 18, 1997. George Costanza relates that his father, Frank, declines to celebrate Christmas or Chanukah. Instead, he invented Festivus, a secular holiday celebrated on December 23rd.

    For those who don’t celebrate the religious holidays, Frank named his holiday “Festivus For the Rest Of Us.”

    Since the Latin word festivus means excellent, jovial, or lively and derives from festus, meaning joyous, holiday or feast day, it fit right in to the Seinfeld holiday episode.

    Instead of a Christmas tree, the Festivus holiday featured a Festivus Pole—an unadorned aluminum pole sticking up from a plain wood tree base (a Festivus sneer to the hyper-commercialized Christmas holiday).

    Other traditions included:

  • A Festivus dinner of modest fare.
  • Airing of Grievances, an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year.
  • Feats of Strength, where the head of the household must be wrestled to the floor and pinned.
    Here’s more about the original O’Keefe Festivus tradition, and more on the Seinfeld Festivus holiday.



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