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Scamorza Cheese & A Scamorza Lasagna Recipe


[1] Scamorza cheese hanging to age (photo by Hangingaurea Avis | CC-BY-SA-2.0 License).


[2] Scamorza made in Texas by the Mozzarella Company. This variety is smoked lightly over pecan shells. It won first place in its category at the American Cheese Society in 2019, and was recognized as one of the 46 BEST CHEESES IN THE WORLD by Culture Cheese Magazine (photos #2 and #3 © Mozzarella Company).


[3] Unsmoked scamorza from the Mozzarella Company.


[4] A scamorza lasagna from Mozzarella Company founder Paula Lambert. The recipe is below.


[5] A pizza topped with scamorza and speck, a type of Italian dry-cured ham that’s dry-cured in a similar manner as prosciutto. Here’s the difference between speck and prosciutto (photo by Avlxyz | CC-BY-SA-2.0 License).


[6] Smoked piglet scamorza. The shape is made to charm children and add cheer to the table for both kids and adults. In Italy, you can also find lambs and other shapes (photo © DeMagi).


[7] Baked scarmoza (scamorza al forno) is delicious served fondue-style, with bread and other dippers. Here’s the recipe from Cuisine Fiend (photo © Cuisine Fiend).


[8] Here’s the recipe (photo © Eat Snarter).


[9] Scamorza ai ferri, grilled scamorza cheese. Here’s the recipe (photo © The Gourmet Traveller).


[10] Baked ziti with eggplant and smoked scamorza. Here’s the recipe (photo © Williams Sonoma).

 

October is Italian Heritage Month.

Quick: Name an Italian cheese.

Was it mozzarella?

Now name another one.

Parmigiano Reggiano?

What about scamorza?

Scamorza is a cousin of mozzarella, firm and shaped like a pear, with a fat body and a little head (photo #1). It’s mild in flavor with a smooth, dense texture. The paste is like mozzarella paste, only drier. First, we share how the cheese is made. Then, ways to use it, a recipe for scamorza lasagna, and the history of scamorza.

Scamorza is made with fresh cow’s milk and is a semi-hard “pasta filata.” It’s a traditional food product of the regions of Campania, Abruzzo, Molise, and Puglia.

The first scamorza was scamorza affumicata, cold-smoked scamorza. It’s how the Mozzarella Company makes its scamorza, which has won national awards and has been named one of the 46 best cheeses in the world. (Editor’s note: Start with the best. Buy it here.)

Unsmoked scamorza is also made. In Italy it’s called scamorza bianca, white scamorza. After two weeks of ripening, it’s sold unsmoked; or else smoked for for 15 minutes over flaming straw [source].
 
 
HOW SCAMORZA IS MADE

The traditional way:

  • Pasteurization. First, farm-fresh milk is heated and pasteurized. Cultures and rennet are added to curdle the milk. When the milk resembles a vat of white Jell-O…
  • Cutting. Cheese knives are pulled through the coagulated milk to cut the curd into little pieces. The are broken up into smaller pieces than its cousin mozzarella, to make the cheese drier. (Italians also call scamorza mozzarella passita, withered mozzarella.) As the curds begin to mature…
  • Stirring. Hot water is poured over them. The curds, in the hot, watery whey, continue to be cut and stirred until they are quite small and somewhat tough in texture. They are left to mature for several hours.
  • Chopping. Next, they’re chopped by hand with knives, hot water is poured over the curds, and the curds are stretched in a small vat using a paddle.
  • Forming. Then, the scamorza is formed by hand into balls that weigh about 3/4 pound each. They’re squeezed into their traditional top knots and tossed into cold water to chill and become firm.
  • Brining. Finally, the cheese is immersed in brine. Little strings of raffia are wound around the neck and cheese is hung to dry in an aging room for two days.
  • Smoking. Now for the smoking: The cheese is smoked over smoldering pecan shells. Scamorza is also available unsmoked.
  • Waxing. Finally, it’s dipped into wax so the paste will stay moist and retain its smoky flavor.
  •  
    Scamorza lasts for months and continues to become more flavorful as it ages.

    Scamorza is also made in a novelty pig shape, scamorza maialino (pig), which may delight children, but doesn’t provide a lot of cheese. Some purchase it to bring good luck for the new year.

    Buy a great one: Order it from MozzCo. And treat yourself to any and all of the other wonderful cheeses, as well.
     
     
    WAYS TO USE SCAMORZA

  • Appetizers, instead of mozzarella
  • Burgers
  • Casseroles
  • Cheese board
  • Fondue
  • Gratins
  • Grilled cheese with ham
  • Grilled Vegetables
  • Mac and cheese
  • Omelets
  • Pizza
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches
  •  
     
    RECIPE: LASAGNA WITH SMOKED SCAMORZA AND PORCINI MUSHROOMS

    This recipe is from Paula Lambert, founder of the Mozzarella Company. You’ll need béchamel sauce for this recipe. You can make it with this recipe (just omit the Dijon).

    Paula suggests pairing the lasagna with an oak-aged Chardonnay.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced, about 2 cups
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence†
  • 2 to 3 cups béchamel sauce
  • 8 ounces dried lasagna pasta sheets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 ounces smoked scamorza, grated (about 2 cups)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and rinse with warm water. Drain and cover the mushrooms with 1 cup of very hot water. Let stand in the water for 30 minutes to one hour. In the meantime, sauté the fresh mushrooms over high heat in the butter in a medium skillet, until barely limp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and herbs de Provence. Set aside.

    2. BRING a large stockpot full of water to a boil. Add the salt, olive oil, and the lasagna noodles. Cook uncovered over high heat until they are al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and then quickly rinse with cold water to cool the pasta (and stop them from cooking further).

    3. SPREAD the pasta on sheets of plastic wrap that have been placed on top of a dish towel to absorb the dripping water. If you stack it, place plastic wrap between the layers of pasta.

    4. POUR the rehydrated porcini mushrooms into a sieve, saving their liquid in a bowl beneath. Chop the mushrooms and add to the skillet with the fresh mushrooms. Set them aside.

    5. STRAIN the mushroom water through a sieve, or several thicknesses of cheesecloth, into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and boil the mushroom water to reduce to half its volume. Then add it to the mushrooms.

    6. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8″ x 13″ x 2-1/2″ baking dish. Rub the bottom and sides of the baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Ladle a couple of spoonfuls of béchamel sauce on the bottom of the dish, and spread it out with the spoon. Place a solid layer of lasagna sheets first, then spread with béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the mushrooms and scamorza.

    7. REPEAT the layering process three more times until all the ingredients and pan juices are used, ending up with béchamel sauce covered with scamorza on top. Bake the lasagna uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the lasagna is bubbly and nicely browned on top.

    8. REMOVE from the oven and allow to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting into squares approximately 3″x3″.
     
    Copyright © 2007 by Paula Lambert, Cheese, Glorious Cheese!. All rights reserved.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF SCAMORZA

    Scamorza originated in southern Italy, and is still produced in Abruzzo, Campania, Molise, and Puglia. It is the oldest recorded dairy product of Campania, since around 1600.

    It is believed that the term scamorza derives from the verb scamozzare, which means to eliminate a part. What part is eliminated?

    It happens when the cheesemaker breaks the upper part of the dough to create the signature bottleneck shape of the curious cheese.

    According to tradition, scamorza was an accident: a mistake during the production of provolone or caciocavallo*, which inadvertently went sour.

    Until a few decades ago, cheesemaking was done at home, with the smoking done in the chimney of the kitchen. Each family had its own cow to provide milk [source].

    Scamorza was traditionally smoked over beechwood, which adds a delicate, sweet note to its milky flavor. Today it is available both smoked and unsmoked.

    Although cow’s milk is the original, variations with water buffalo’s milk or sheep’s milk also are made.
     
     
    ________________

    *Caciocavallo means “cheese on horseback.” This description derives from the manner in which the cheese is always tied together in a rope and hangs from a beam or a wooden board to drain and age. Like scamorza, mozzarella and others, it is a pasta filata: a stretched cheese that is typical of Southern Italy. It is produced with the same ingredients: cow’s milk, rennet, milk enzymes and salt. It is hand-shaped, reminiscent of the number 8: two rounded bodies joined by a bottleneck, which happens at the point of support on the beam.

    Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs popular in the Provençal cuisine (southeastern France). Formerly simply a descriptive term (in the manner of “Italian herbs”), wherein cooks chose their favorite herbs to season their dishes (typically grilled foods and stews), commercial blends began to be sold as herbes de Provence in the 1970s. These blends can contain any variety of marjoram, oregano, rosemary, savory and thyme. Lavender leaves are often included in products sold in the North American market [source].

     

     
     
      

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    Pierogi Party: Set Up A Pierogi Bar For National Pierogi Day

    October 8th is National Pierogi Day. Pierogi, dumplings of Central and Eastern European origin, are traditionally stuffed with cheese, fruit, ground meat, mashed potato or sauerkraut. They can be served baked, boiled grilled, fried/sautéed and steamed. They’re typically cooked in butter with sautéed onions. You can make them or buy them. Personally, we eat a lot of Mrs. T’s pierogies.

    We’ve previously offered 50 different ways to serve pierogi. There are toppings, dips, and more elaborate preparations like bacon-wrapped pierogi appetizers, pierogi casseroles, pierogi crostini and much more.

    Pierogi is the plural word in Polish; the singular form is pieróg, pronounced pye-ROOG. In the U.S., you’ll find the plural Americanized to pierogies. The largest national brand, Mrs. T’s, spells her product “pierogies.”

    Pierogi, along with Polish sausages, is the most recognizable Polish food abroad.
     
    So today, here’s an idea for entertaining or family fun: a pierogi bar.

    It becomes a full lunch or dinner with the addition of Polish kielbasa sausage.

    Serve them cooked or fried (we’ve boiled them in soup, like gnocchi and wontons).

  • Savory varieties are stuffed with different cheeses, meats and vegetables.
  • Sweet varieties are stuffed with fruit or chocolate.
  • Toppings include sour cream topping and butter. For dessert pierogi, we like mascarpone.
  • Add-ons we like include chopped fresh herbs (dill, parsley) and chopped scallions; and sometimes, chopped bacon.
  • Panko breadcrumbs were nice, too.
  •  
     
    PIEROGI FOR YOUR PIEROGI BAR

    Start with sourcing the pierogi.

  • Mrs. T’s Pierogi, sold frozen, are an easy go-to. They’re made in full size and minis. The limitation is that they’re all cheese-based: with different cheeses, some combined with bacon, broccoli, or onion.
  • Polish grocer: If there’s a Polish community in your town, you may be able to purchase pierogi from a local grocer.
  • Grocery delivery services like Fresh Direct sell fresh pierogis.
  • Online specialists like Millie’s Pierogi, have interesting flavors. Millie’s include blueberry and prune.
  • Homemade. If you want to make your own, consider options beyond the classic fillings. How about Reuben pierogi, or spinach pesto pierogi? Or seasonal filling like butternut squash?
  •  
     
    SIDES YOUR PIEROGI BAR

    Offer a few sides to round out the meal. We’ve served:

  • Bacon, thick-cut
  • Borscht
  • Brussels Sprouts, alone or in a medley with carrots and parsnip
  • Caramelized onions
  • Cherry tomato salad
  • Cucumber salad
  • Kielbasa
  • Green salad
  • Sautéed cabbage and bacon
  • Sautéed onions
  •  
    And for dessert pierogi:

  • Dessert sauces (chocolate, raspberry)
  • Dried cherries, raisins
  • Fresh berries
  • Ice cream
  • Sautéed apples
  • Whipped cream
  •  
     
    TO SET UP YOUR PIEROGI BAR

    We especially like pierogi with beer. Other options:

  • Vodka, especially the Polish brand Żubrówka vodka, made with Polish bison grass. It’s great straight, in a Martini or a Bloody Mary.
  • Red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec.
  • White wine: Chardonnay, Riesling.
  •  
    Ready to party?

    Put together your guest list!
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF PIEROGI>
     
     
    > 50 WAYS TO EAT PIEROGI

     


    [1] Fried meat pierogi ready to be dipped or topped (photo © Karolina Kolodziejczak | Unsplash).


    [2] Sautéed in butter, topped with minced parsley and served with sour cream (photos #2, #3 and #4 © Mrs. T’s Pierogi).


    [3] Serve them on skewers with dips.


    [4] This is a pierogi casserole, a shepherd’s pie.


    [5] Pierogi for dessert: blueberry pierogi with ice cream and fresh blueberries (photo © Millie’s Pierogi).

     

     
     
      

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    Cooking & Grilling Sauces From Elda’s Kitchen For Home Or Gift


    [1] Elda’s cooking and grilling sauces can be used on just about everything (all photos © Elda’s Kitchen).


    [2] The “Best Sellers” box.


    [3] Honey Ginger Soy sauce goes with everything from egg rolls to sweet potato fries.


    [4] The Wok & Roll Box. There are six gift boxes, and individual flavor trios are also available.

     

    Elda’s Kitchen produces sauces that are very gift-worthy, as well as a treat at your own table. The line of cooking and grilling sauces hits the categories of vegan-friendly, verified Non-GMO, gluten-free, no MSG or preservatives, and no high fructose corn syrup. And they are delicious and worth your attention.

  • Calzones
  • Chili
  • Casseroles
  • Dips and dipping sauce
  • Egg rolls & sushi
  • Mac and cheese
  • Hot dogs and burgers
  • Meats: beef, lamb, pork/ham
  • Poultry: chicken, duck, turkey
  • Rice and other grains
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches and wraps
  • Seafood (including sushi and sashimi)
  • Veggies
  • Tacos
  • Wings…
  •  
    There’s even a Peach Habanero sauce that works on pancakes.

    We even mixed it into plain yogurt: yum!

    Essentially, whatever savory food you make, there’s an Elda’s sauce to mix into it, top it, or mix it into.

    People who love condiments should definitely sample the line.

    People who need food gifts have six boxed set options (below)that are sure to please.

    For stocking stuffers and party favors, individual bottles are sold in three-packs.
     
     

  • PICK YOUR SAUCE SET
  • Best Selling: Jamaican Jerk, Theo’s Steakhouse, Black Pepper
  • East Meets West: Ginger Teriyaki, Korean Sesame, Black Pepper, Theo’s Steakhouse, Hot Wing, Kentucky Bourbon
  • Grill It Or Skillet: Ginger Teriyaki, Honey Ginger & Soy, Black Pepper
  • It’s A Wing Thing: Hot Wing, Spyki Sauce (Spicy Candied Teriyaki), Jala-Hot Jalapeño
  • Savory Six: Garlic & Herb, Ginger Teriyaki, Jamaican Jerk, Honey Ginger & Soy, Theo’s Steakhouse, Black Pepper
  • Wok & Roll: Korean Sesame, Spyki Sauce (Spicy Candied Teriyaki), Black Pepper
  •  
     
    Head to Elda’s Kitchen and get yours!
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF SAUCES

    Mankind doubtlessly taught themselves to mix up sauces before our first recorded evidence. The oldest recorded sauce in European cuisine is garum, the fish sauce used by the Ancient Romans. It was ubiquitous, used, as some have described, like modern Americans use ketchup.

     
    Doubanjiang, the Chinese fermented soybean sauce, is mentioned in Rites of Zhou in the 3rd century B.C.E. [source].

    We know that by 200 C.E., Romans were using a variety of sauces beyond garum. Sauces not only added flavor; they covered up the flavor of less-fresh foods.

    Apicius, author of the first-known cookbook in the first century B.C.E., wrote at the end of one of his recipes for a particularly flavorsome sauce: “No one at table will know what he is eating” [source]. Roman sauces were usually thickened with wheat flour or crumbled pastry. Honey was used to make a sweet-sour sauce.

    Each world cuisine evolved to make sauces to complement their foods. They added flavor, moisture, and visual appeal to dishes both savory and sweet.

    The classic French mother sauces* were created in the 17th century by La Varenne, and codified in the 18th and 19th centuries by Carême and Escoffier.

    Sauce is a French word, taken from the Latin salsa, meaning salted.

  • It may be prepared and served cold, like mayonnaise.
  • It may be prepared cold but served lukewarm, like pesto.
  • It may be cooked and served warm like béchamel, or cooked and served cold like apple sauce.
  • It may be made by deglazing a pan (and called a pan sauce).
  • It may be freshly prepared by the cook.
  • It may be sold premade and packaged, like Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ketchup and salad dressing.
  •  
    There is a world of sauces to discover: beyond American, beyond European. Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East all have wonderful sauces that you can use with your American fare to make “fusion” dishes.

    Seek them out, and enjoy them.
     
     
    ________________

    *The mother sauces are tomato, hollandaise, béchamel, velouté, and espagnole. They are further used as a base to create the secondary sauces: mornay, sauce suprême, creole, béarnaise and demi-glace. Here’s more about them here, here and here.

    †The cookbook, De Re Coquinaria, authored by “Apicius,” is thought to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century C.E. and given that title (“On the Subject of Cooking”). The name Apicius had long been associated with an excessively refined love of food, exemplified by Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman gourmet who lived sometime in the 1st century C.E. The author of the book is one Caelius Apicius; however, no person by this name otherwise exists in the historical record. The book was no doubt compiled by a person or persons who wished to remain anonymous [source].

     
     
      

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    Apple Pie Chocolate Bars & Chocolate Bark: Delicious Gifts!

    We’ve begun to sample treats as potential holiday gifts, and received some that shouldn’t wait for the holidays. Two of these are featured here today, both in the ever-popular chocolate category. Both need not wait for the holidays. Their apple pie themes are a perfect fit right now! Both are imited editions for the season.
     
     
    1. SUGAR PLUM CHOCOLATE APPLE PIE BARK

    We started with the Apple Pie Bark from Sugar Plum Chocolates (photo #1). The confectioner has married milk chocolate with organically-sourced apple pieces and finely crushed graham crackers. It’s yummy!

    The apple pieces are dried for a nice bit of chewiness amind the supple, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate.

    It’s not unlike eating a chocolate-covered apple pie – a perfect combination.

    The Apple Pie Bark is packaged in a 1-pound, seasonal gift box that looks (to us) like a cute little barn.

    It’s available exclusively on GoldBelly for $55.
     
     
    The Bark As A Chocolate Bar

    Sugar Plum also makes an apple pie chocolate bar: milk chocolate with dried apple chunks, a hint of cinnamon and a dash of sea salt (photo #2).

    It’s available on the Sugar Plum Chocolates website.

    A two-pack is $9.99.
     
     
    2. COMPARTES ARTISAN WHITE CHOCOLATE BAR

    For something in gourmet white chocolate (photo #3), head to Compartés.

    It’s packed full of ingredients that emulate homemade apple pie: chunks of apples, cinnamon baked apples, caramelized cinnamon streusel pieces, and swirls of cinnamon inside.

    It’s an apple pie in chocolate bar form!

    If you give out gourmet treats for Halloween, pick up some–including some for yourself.

    Each bar is $11.99.
     
     
    Enjoy the season with delicious treats like these.
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE BARK
     
     
    > CHOCOLATE GLOSSARY: TYPES & TERMS

     


    [1] Apple pie chocolate bark with chunks of apples and crust. Get it at Goldbelly (photo © Goldbelly).


    [2] The bark in chocolate bar form. Get it from Sugar Plum Chocolates (photo © Sugar Plum).


    [2] An apple pie in a bar. Get it here (photo © Compartés Chocolatier).

     

     
     
      

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    Ciroc Pomegranate Vodka Cocktail Recipes For National Vodka Day


    [1] The “Jewel” cocktail in a coupe glass (all photos © CÎROC),


    [2] The “Passion” cocktail in a highball glass.


    [3] A great holiday gift!

     

    National Vodka Day, October 4th, is a food holiday that many of us gladly celebrate. We spent the day trying new vodka cocktails, and tried a new vodka as well: CÎROC Pomegranate, the brand’s latest limited-time offering. That means that if you want it, get it while it’s still on the shelves. While pomegranate is a year-round flavor, it’s popular during the holidays. The beautiful burgundy-colored bottle with gold lettering, showcasing a jewel tone of the season, makes it an impressive gift.

    It will also look great on your bar or table. And the pomegranate vodka: delicious.

    Sip it straight and you’ll find notes of juicy red berries with hints of strawberry, along with sweet and fruity pomegranate flavors.

    The vodka also adds a special lift to cocktails. Two recipes follow, but first…

    Another bonus: CÎROC is made from grapes, not grain, making it gluten-free.

    There are two cocktail recipes below to get you started.

    By the way, the circumflex over the second letter means that the name is pronounced “she-ROCK.”

    Trivia:

  • The circumflex, a.k.a. the “little hat,” is the only French accent mark that is found on each of the five vowels. Historically, it often indicates a spelling change from Latin.
  • The brand name CÎROC is a combination of two French words: cime, meaning peak, and roche, meaning rock. The name reflects the hills of the Gaillac region of southern France, the highest wine growing region in France, where the vodka is made.
  • It’s an excellent grape-growing region.
  •  
    Ready for a sip?
     
     
    RECIPE #1: CÎROC POMEGRANATE JEWEL

    Ingredients

  • 1 ounce CÎROC Pomegranate
  • .5 ounce grenadine
  • Sparkling wine
  • Ice
  • Garnish: lemon twist
  • Glass: coup
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the vodka and grenadine in a mixing glass. Add ice and gently stir.

    2. STRAIN into a glass (without ice). Top off with sparkling wine and garnish.

     
     
    RECIPE #2: CÎROC POMEGRANATE PASSION

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces CÎROC Pomegranate
  • 4-5 ounces cranberry juice
  • Garnish: lime
  • Ice
  • Glass: highball
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a highball filled with ice. Gently stir and garnish.
     
     
    > THE HISTORY OF VODKA

     
     
      

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