THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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FOOD FUN: Easter Macarons

Easter Macarons
[1] Easter macarons: Edible art from Stay Sweet NYC.

 

A number of pastry artists are creating colorful macarons for Easter, but we haven’t seen anything as lovely as these from Lindsay of Stay Sweet NYC.

Her pastel cookies are decorated with abstract flowers. Lovely. But we’ve never seen dual-color ganache before!

Who needs chocolate when you can give these macarons as Easter gifts to those who will appreciate them?

Contact Lindsay for a quote for your custom order.
 
 
>>>THE HISTORY OF MACARONS & MACAROONS<<<

 

  

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FOOD FUN: PEEPS Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts’ seasonal PEEPS donuts arrive tomorrow at Dunkin’ Donuts nationwide.

They’re accompanied by new PEEPS marshmallow-flavored hot and iced coffee and espresso drinks.

Head to your nearest DD (here’s a store locator) for your PEEPS donut.

It’s topped with white icing, a special green and egg-shaped sprinkle blend and a mini yellow PEEPS marshmallow chick on top.
 
 
PEEPS COCKTAILS & CUPCAKES

If you’re really into PEEPS, here’s how to make PEEPS cocktails.

It’s pink with a marshmallow chick sitting on the rim of the glass.

Prefer cupcakes?

Make these PEEPS cupcakes with a hidden surprise.

 

Dunkin Donuts Peeps
[1] PEEPS mean that Easter is just around the corner (photo courtesy Dunkin’ Donuts).

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: What Are Healthy Fats?

California Olive Oil
[1] Use unsaturated fats without guilt. The USDA endorses two tablespoons of olive oil per day (photo courtesy California Olive Ranch).

Saturated Fats
[2] The chemical difference. The double bond is shown in red (image courtesy California Olive Ranch).

Olive Oil Bread Dipper
[3] An easy way to enjoy olive oil: a bread dipper. You can add balsamic vinegar, spices or both (photo courtesy Murray’s).

Grilled Avocados
[4] Some people avoid avocados because they’re high in fat—but it’s the healthiest fat, one that your body needs (photo courtesy California Avocado Commission).

 

Recent research from Harvard Medical School has revealed that when it comes to maintaining health, the type of fat consumed is much more impactful than the amount of fat.

The nutritionist-recommended Mediterranean Diet includes many foods with high levels of unsaturated fats, like nuts, fish and extra virgin olive oil.

Thanks to California Olive Ranch, producers of extra virgin olive oil (photo #1), for today’s tip.
 
 
WHAT ARE UNSATURATED FATS?

What are unsaturated fats and what is makes them such an important part of a healthy diet?

Scientifically, “unsaturated” fats refer to fatty acid chains that contain at least one double bond in their structure (image #2).

When a fatty acid contains a double bond, it is less stable, and more difficult for the body to absorb and store as fat.

  • This promotes health because these fats take longer to digest, allowing your body to absorb more of the other nutrients.
  • The double bond is also responsible for keeping unsaturated fats liquid at room temperature.
  • Saturated fats have no double bonds, and their connecting bonds are smooth, keeping them solid at room temperature.
  • You see that solid fat in butter, lard, meat, vegetable shortening, and other foods.
  •  
    Depending on how many double bonds they contain, unsaturated fats are classified as either monounsaturated (one [mono] double bond) or polyunsaturated (with two or more (“poly”) double bonds). Both are good for us, although with slightly different health benefits.
     
     
    WHAT ARE MONOUNSATURATED FATS?

    Monounsaturated fat is one of the healthy fats, along with polyunsaturated fat.

    They are a type of fatty acid that have one unsaturated carbon bond in the molecule (image #2). Those that are typically liquid at room temperature (e.g. olive oil) start to harden when chilled.

    This is the opposite of saturated fats like butter and trans fats*, which are not good for you.

  • Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. .
  • These unhealthy fats can increase your risk for heart disease and other health problems.
  •  
    What To Eat

    Monounsaturated fats are found in plant foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and olives. It is these monounsaturated fats that are central to the Mediterranean lifestyle.

    Eating moderate amounts of monounsaturated (and polyunsaturated) fats in place of saturated and trans fats can benefit your health.

  • Studies have shown that monounsaturated fats can increase the fluidity and elasticity of the cell membranes. And, at an average of 75% MUFA content, extra virgin olive oil is a great source.
  • The fatty acids in 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil per day can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and colon cancer, as well as reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Oleic acid, specifically, the primary monounsaturated fat in extra virgin olive oil, provides these health benefits.
  •  
     
    WHAT ARE POLYUNSATURATED FATS?

    Polyunsaturated fats include the antioxidants omega-3 and omega-6.

    Omega-3 is especially important for us to eat, since the body cannot produce it. Both omegas are strong protectors against heart disease.

    That’s why extra virgin olive oil is so important in your diet. It contains, on average, 15% polyunsaturated fats, mostly linoleic acid.

     
    What To Eat

    Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include certain fish (herring, mackerel, oysters, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and caviar!), ground flaxseed, certain oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), and nuts and other seeds (walnuts, chia seeds).

    Other foods that are not as high in omega-3, but still have decent amounts, include pastured eggs, omega-3-enriched eggs, meats and dairy products from grass-fed animals, hemp seeds and vegetables like Brussels sprouts, purslane and spinach.
     
     
    So, don’t shy away from healthy fats. Who’d imagine guacamole and oysters were “healthy foods?”

    Not to mention walnut pesto, tuna tartare, pastured/enriched eggs, and grass-fed meat and dairy.

    And, have all the Brussels sprouts and spinach you like!

    ________________

    *From the Mayo Clinic: Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or that contain trans fat are solid at room temperature. Because of this, they’re typically referred to as solid fats. They include beef fat, pork fat, butter, coconut oil, shortening and stick margarine.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Truly Grass-Fed Cheddar

    We have our favorite cheddar cheeses: artisan wonders like Beehive Cheddar from Utah, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar from Vermont, and Fiscalini Farmstead Cheddar from California.

    Our favorite “supermarket cheddar”—the 7- or 8-ounce prepacked bars found in supermarket refrigerator cases—is Cabot Cheddar, available in some 30 varieties including flavors we love, like Hot Jalapeño, Habanero, Horseradish and Tomato Basil.

    As we have lactose sensitivity, we enjoy a lot of cheddar, which is 100% lactose free (along with Jarlsberg).

    When we agreed to receive samples of Truly Grass-Fed Cheddar, we thought it was a domestic product. Turns out, it’s from Ireland. No wonder it tastes so special for a supermarket cheese.

    We find it more nuanced and elegant than our go-to Cabot line. It’s not anywhere as easy to find as Cabot, but if you come across it, bring it home! (Here’s a store locator; and you can find the cheese online at Amazon.)
     
     
    IT’S THE GRASS-FED DIET

    Why the lovely flavor?

    Cows that feed on lush pasture produce tastier milk. It’s that simple. (The milk is also more nutritious—more about that below).

    The milk for Truly Grass Fed cheddar comes from approximately 3,000 family farms located across Ireland. Our farmers share deep bonds with their herds, with sustainability and animal welfare always top of mind.

    Each farm has an average of one cow for every two acres of pasture, is Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World.

    AWA is an independent nonprofit farm-certification program, which guarantees that animals are raised outdoors on pasture on independent farms their entire lives, using truly sustainable, high welfare farming practices.

    And that’s why Truly Grass-Fed cheddars are creamy and delicious: made from the wholesome milk of cows living their best lives outside, grazing on plentiful green grass.
     
     
    THE SCOOP

    The cows receive 95% of their nutritional feed from grass. They are grazed in fields for up to 300 days a year.

    Cold weather sends them indoors for a couple of months, where they continue on a grass silage* diet with some limited supplementation. They are:

  • Antibiotic free
  • rBST free
  • Non-GMO Project verified
  •  
     
    GRASS FED VS. GRAIN FED

    What’s the big deal with grass-fed milk products?

    Studies show that the nutritional quality of milk is superior from cows that are grass fed, as nature intended them to be, versus those that are grain fed.

     

    Truly Grass Fed Cheddar
    [1] Different ages of Truly Grass-Fed Cheddar (photo courtesy The Sassy Dietitian, who has a recipe for corned beef, cabbage and cheddar baked potatoes.

    Cow Eating Grass
    [2] A diet of green grass, tastier for the cow, means tastier milk for us (photo courtesy Truly Grass Fed).

    Turkey Cheddar Sandwich
    [3] A turkey and cheddar sandwich on cranberry-walnut bread. Here’s the recipe from Beautiful Mess 46.

     
    Key nutritional elements include:

  • Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLAS). CLA naturally occurs in milk; however, milk derived from grass-fed cows has twice the level compared to grain fed.
  • Omega Fatty Acids. Grass-fed milk has a more optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Milk from grass-fed cows has a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids and a desired lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Beta-Carotene. The powerful antioxidant beta carotene, which provides the rich golden hue†, is a benefit of dairy products made from grass-fed milk.
  •  
    We benefit, and so do the cows:

    Grass-fed cows eat (mostly) grass, their natural diet; while grain-fed cows eat (mostly) an unnatural diet based on corn and soy.

    If you were a cow, which would you prefer?

    ________________

    *Silage is grass or other green fodder compacted and stored in airtight conditions, used as animal feed in the winter. It is typically stored in a silo; hence, silage. Hay is grass that is dried first.

    †Cheddars that are orange are colored with a natural vegetable dye, annatto.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Create Excitement With Multiple Garnishes

    Multiple Garnishes
    [1] Multiple garnishes turn a piece of grilled fish into something special (photo courtesy Boutros Restaurant | Brooklyn).

    Merguez Sausage
    [2] It can be as simple as this: an appetizer of merguez sausage and shishito peppers (shown), or steamed asparagus, or scallops, etc., accented with a zigzag of one condiment and dots of another (photo courtesy Pain D’Avignon).

    Beautiful Garnishes
    [3] Underneath the garnish of zucchini curls, opal basil leaves and other herbs is a pork rib. To the side, a garnish of honey mustard polka dots, made with squeeze bottles (photo courtesy Uchi Restaurant | Hai Hospitality).

    Basil Olive Oil
    [4] Using a spatter of basil olive oil combines both the sauce and the olive oil “layers.” (photo Botanica Magazine).

     

    Do you find that placing meat or fish on a plate with vegetables could use some oomph?

    We do. That’s why we’ve taken a page from the creative chefs’ cookbook and use multiple garnishes on the plate.
     
     
    HERE’S HOW TO DO IT

    You’ll note in photo #1 that the chef:

    1. Sauce: Added a circle of sauce to the center of the plate.

    2. Vegetables: Added the vegetables (or grains, mashed potatoes, etc.) on top of the sauce.

    3. Protein: Added the protein on top of the vegetables.

    4. Olive oil: Added droplets of flavored olive oil around the sauce circle.

    5. Spices: Sprinkled the plate with pinches of spice.

    6. Herbs Or Greens: Topped with snipped herbs or microgreens. Or, if you are serving a salad, top the protein with the [lightly dressed] salad.

    This works best with soft greens (mesclun or components—arugula, baby kale, baby spinach, oak leaf or butter lettuce, watercress), which “drape” better over the protein. You can use harder salad vegetables (cabbage, carrot, fennel, onion, radish, romaine, etc.), if they’re finely chopped/sliced.
     
     
    None of this is hard to do. The biggest decision—and time—is deciding what sauce to use.

    The sauce doesn’t have to be complicated; in fact, the easier, the better.

    If you hadn’t planned for a sauce with your recipe, here are three quick options:

  • Purée and season vegetables, from tomatoes to steaming whatever you have on hand (bell peppers, carrots, celery, peas, etc.). Thin or thicken as desired with broth, cream, mayonnaise, olive oil, sour cream or yogurt.
  • You can also purée pasta sauce, add some sour cream or other dairy for a creamy sauce, or (if you prefer) serve it chunky.
  • Canned soups are an old stand-by. Lightly dilute cream of asparagus, mushroom, tomato, etc. with a bit of milk or broth.
  •  
     
    GARNISHES

    This list is by no means exhaustive, and what you choose will of course complement the recipe.

    Look through your cabinets and fridge: You may be surprised at what you already own. (We found two jars of capers and one jar of caperberries!).

    In alphabetical order:

  • Capers or caperberries
  • Caviar pearls
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, sliced or chopped
  • Chopped nuts or seeds
  • Citrus zest
  • Croutons
  • Crème fraîche
  • Curls: carrot, cucumber, zucchini
  • Dried herbs and spices (celery seed, chili flakes, paprika, pink/green/mixed peppercorns, anything with good color)
  • Fresh herbs (basil, dill, chives, rosemary, thyme)
  • Flavored olive oil droplets, swirls or zigzags
  • Favored (colored) sea salt
  • Gourmet condiments: flavored aïoli/mayonnaise, chili sauce, mustards
  • Grapes, mixed colors, halved
  • Grated or shaved cheese
  • Microgreens or sprouts
  • Olives, halved or chopped
  • Sauces (we use a lot of seasoned yogurt and pesto)
  • Sliced starfruit
  •  
     
    NEXT STEP

    What are you cooking for dinner tonight?

    Look through your kitchen cabinets and decide how to garnish it.

    And as always, have fun with it.

     

      

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