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THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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GIFT: Smoking Gun – Smoke Gun – Smoke Infuser For Food & Drinks

The term “smoking gun” is a reference to an object or fact that serves as conclusive evidence of a crime or similar act.

But there’s no crime in purchasing a smoking gun—a.k.a. smoke gun—for cold-smoke cooking.

Creative cooks will love this kitchen gadget. We purchased one after paying $20 a pop for smoking cocktails at one of our favorite restaurants.

When we realized how easy it was to recreate a smoked cocktail at home, we purchased a smoke gun: this Homia Smoking Gun Wood Smoke Infuser Kit on Amazon, which included all the accessories and wood chips so we could immediately get to work.

You can buy a smoke gun for as little as $20, but you also need wood chips.

We’ll share a smoked cocktail recipe below, but first, all the things you can do with a smoke gun.

The smoke not only excites the nose, but it adds a delightful depth of flavor.
 
 
WHAT TO DO WITH A SMOKE GUN (A.K.A. SMOKE INFUSER OR SMOKING GUN)

While a smoke gun is a great addition to the kitchen, first note that a smoke gun doesn’t smoke food in the manner of a backyard smoker, over many hours of cooking.

It is cold-smoking, not hot-smoking: It gives a 30-second infusion of smoke flavor to cooked food or a drink, or to ingredients you’ll use to make a recipe.

Like a kitchen torch (and of a similar size), a smoke gun is a small tool that delivers big flavor. You add wood chips or other flavor agent (there’s a list below), and the gun converts the chips, cinnamon, herbs, etc. to smoke.

The gun blows the smoke into your food or drink, infusing it with smoke flavor.

Far from being exotic, it is easy to use with your everyday foods. You can:

  • Smoke cocktails or straight spirits. How about a smoky Bloody Mary or Margarita?
  • Smoke and freeze water into ice cubes for extra smoke.
  • Smoke coarse sea salt and dried spices.
  • Smoke butter and condiments: mayonnaise, oil, pesto, vinaigrettes.
  • Smoke ingredients to make smoked ice cream, pasta and more.
  •  
    And of course, you can add smoke to cooked meats and fish. See the video on this page, showing all the different things you can smoke.
     

    FLAVORS TO INFUSE

    Depending on what you’re infusing:

  • Cinnamon sticks: Provides a lighter smoke flavor with subtle sweetness.
  • Citrus peels: Use as a garnish to deliver some smoky flavor.
  • Herbs and spices: Experiment with your favorites, including tea leaves and saffron.
  • Oak chips: These accentuate the charred wood notes from barrel aging.
  • Pecan chips: These provide a nutty flavor.
  • Other wood chips: Experiment with whatever you like: apple, hickory, maple, mesquite, orange, etc.
  • Rosemary sprigs: herbaceous flavor.
  • Vanilla beans: light, sweet smoke.

  •  
    COCKTAIL RECIPE: SMOKING ROSEMARY FIZZ

    When the smoking cocktail is brought to the table (photo #1) and the waiter (or you) removes the dome that’s keeping the smoke inside (photo #2), the whole table gets to enjoy the aroma.

    To make it at home, you need a glass dome (or wide-mouth vase, to hold in the smoke), a smoke gun, a smoking agent (e.g. wood chips), and ideally, a jumbo ice cube (it works better than regular cubes).

    Instead of a dome, you can use the hose of the smoke gun to blow smoke directly into the cocktail. This is also how you infuse smoke onto cooked food.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 ounces Makers Mark bourbon (or substitute)
  • 2 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 1 ounce rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Ice
  • Garnish: rosemary sprig
  •  

    Smoking Cocktail
    [1] Smoke infusing the cocktail under the dome (photo © Wall Street Grill).

    Smoking Cocktail
    [2] The big reveal at the table (photo © Wall Street Grill).

    Infusing Food With Smoke
    [3] Infusing chicken breasts with smoke, using a $20 Chefhut infuser (photo © Chefhut).

    Infusing Ribs With Smoke
    [4] Spraying smoke atop ribs with the hose of the Breville smoke gun (photo © Breville).

    Smoked Cocktail
    [5] A smoked Manhattan cocktail at Ocean Prime (photo © Ocean Prime).

     
    For The Rosemary Simple Syrup

    You can also use this syrup in iced tea, hot tea or lemonade, on fruit salad, as pound cake glaze and sorbet topping, and of course, to flavor sophisticated snow-cones.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  •  
    Simple Syrup Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high, whisking occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Then simmer for a few more minutes until liquid is completely clear. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

    2. ADD the rosemary and let it infuse in the simple syrup for 30 to 60 minutes, until the mixture is thick and syrupy.

    3. REMOVE the rosemary from the pan and pour the syrup into a glass jar. Refrigerate, tightly capped. It will keep for at two weeks (twice as long for unflavored simple syrup).
     
    Cocktail Preparation

    1. SHAKE all the ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a jumbo ice cube. Garnish with rosemary.

    2. SMOKE with hickory wood with a smoke gun under a glass dome.

    3. BRING to the table still covered. Remove the dome in front of the guest (or yourself) so everyone can enjoy the aroma.
     
     
    VIDEOS

    Here are videos specific to cocktails.

  • Dome: Smoking with a dome.
  • Decanter: You can use a decanter instead of a dome, but it doesn’t allow for a rising-smoke presentation (see this video).
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    GIFT: Jeff’s Famous Jerky, Bacon, Beef Or Turkey

    Jeff's Famous Bacon Jerky
    [1] Oh so delicious: Jeff’s Famous Maple Brown Sugar Jerky (all photos © Jeff’s Famous Jerky).

    Jeff's Famous Maple Bacon Jerky
    [2] Prefer hot to sweet? Try Jeff’s Famous Sriracha Black Pepper Jerky.


    [3] Jeff’s Famous Beef Jerky.


    [4] For chile heads: Jeff’s Famous Carolina Reaper Jerky.


    [5] Jeff’s Famous Cranberry Jalapeño Jerky.


    [6] Jeff’s Famous Black Pepper. Jerky

     

    America’s consumption of meat snacks has increased by 18% over the past five years, according to recent data from The NPD Group, a market research company.

    And America wants more of this high protein, low-fat, grab-and-go snack that’s naturally gluten-free*.

    We’ve had Top Pick jerkys before, but they are few and far between. Even small-batch artisan brands can be too tough for us, and/or leave remnants of gristle.

    Not so with Jeff’s Famous Jerky. Each variety we tried was melt-in-your-mouth tender, with exquisite flavor. When you can say jerky has exquisite flavor, you know you’ve hit the motherlode.

    Jeff’s Famous Jerky, of Mission Viejo, California deserves to be famous, especially for its eye-opening bacon jerky. Bacon or beef, the meats are marinated in deep, layered marinades.

    The beef jerky has lower sodium than most brands, with no added MSG or nitrates. The bacon jerky has less sodium than pan-fried bacon.

    The only caveat with jerky in general is that it’s high in sodium (don’t buy it for anyone on a salt-restricted diet).

    But it’s almost fat free, and it’s solid protein: One ounce has about 23% of one’s daily value of protein.

    We don’t like hard, overly chewy jerky. Jeff’s Famous Jerky is so tender and tasty, you can bring it to the dinner table and pair it with fine foods.

  • We really enjoy it “surf-and-turf”-style: with oysters on the half shell, and with ceviche or pan-fried scallops.
  • You can lay it across or at the side of a protein, crumble it on top as a garnish, or mix it into other dishes like vegetables and pasta.
  • With pasta, consider Spaghetti Carbonara (which has bacon in the recipe), Fettuccine Alfredo (bacon is a delicious addition to the cream sauce), or pasta simply tossed with olive oil, bacon jerky and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • With beer or a hearty red wine, it’s a go-to snack.
  •  
     
    JEFF’S FAMOUS JERKY VARIETIES

    Jeff’s makes a variety of delicious, tender jerky varieties. You can buy individual packages or a build-your-own box.

    The flavors are variously spicy, sweet, hot, and combinations thereof. More importantly, they are clean, clear and natural, beautifully layered to imbue the meat with complex flavors.

    All are hormone-free, without added MSG or preservatives, made from American meats.

    Bacon Jerky Varieties

  • Maple Brown Sugar
  • Sriracha Black Pepper
  •  
    Beef Jerky Varieties

  • Black Pepper Sea Salt
  • Cranberry Jalapeño
  • Habanero Heatwave
  • Jalapeno Carne Asada
  • Jamaican Jerk
  • Korean Barbecue
  • Old Fashioned Original
  • Pacific Red Hot
  • Sriracha Ghost Pepper
  • Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ
  • Sweet Teriyaki

  •  
    Turkey Jerky Varieties

  • Thai Satay Turkey Jerky
  •  
     
    GET YOURS NOW!

    Single-flavor packages are $6.99 at JeffsFamousJerky.com. The beef packages contain 3 ounces of jerky; the bacon packages have 2 ounces.

    Build-your-own variety packs offer a 20% savings; and there are gift boxes with personalized notes.

    DISCOVER MORE AT JEFFSFAMOUSJERKY.COM

     
    JERKY HISTORY

    The word jerky comes from the Quechua language of the Incas, who called their dried meat “charqui.” But they were hardly the first people to make it.

    Neither were Homo sapiens, we can deduce. Homo erectus emerged 1.5 million years ago, and evidence found five years ago in a South African cave suggests Homo erectus that built campfires.

    The remains of animal bones and plant ash could be dated to a million years ago. [source]

    By the time Homo sapiens emerged, 195,000 years ago, man had been enjoying barbecue, and by extension jerky, for some time.


     
    Drying food is one of the first three food preservation techniques, along with salting and, in northern climes, packing with snow in ice caves or cellars.

    Meat dried over a smoky fire is protected from egg-laying insects and multiplying bacteria (they need moisture to live). Cutting it into thin strips makes it easier to chew.
    All the fat is trimmed from the meat because fat doesn’t dry. The dried meat could (and can) then be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.

    While the prehistoric method of drying the meat was used by other ancient peoples, it was not known in Europe.

    The first visitors to the New World found Native Americans making jerky† from the meat of any animal they hunted (that which wasn’t consumed immediately).

    In addition to helping early colonists stave off starvation, later pioneers who headed west quickly learned to make jerky. It was easy to transport, and was an important, high-protein addition to their diet.

    The meat for jerky could be anything from buffalo to whale. Today jerky can be found in proteins as common as turkey, tuna and salmon, to exotics such as alligator and ostrich.

    Today’s jerky eaters have the luxury of enjoying it as a snack rather than a necessity. We also have the pleasure of using tender cuts of meat marinated in a variety of spices, salt and/or sugar—seasonings that were not available to most ancients jerky-makers.

    Modern jerky is dried in low-heat smokers, as opposed to the ancient technique of hanging strips of meat racks to dry in the hot sun. (The campfire could hold only so much.)

    If your only experience with jerky has been dry and tasteless jerky, you deserve some of the good stuff.
    ________________

    *Some brands or flavors within brands may use soy sauce or other glutinous ingredient in the marinade.

    †The pemmican you may have read about in tales of early America was dried meat mixed with dried berries and rendered animal fat. It was invented by Native Americans and used extensively by immigrants in the fur trade. Many years later, it served as a high-calorie food for Arctic and Antarctic explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Mr. Black Cold Brew Espresso Liqueur, The Best Coffee Liqueur

    When we first tasted Mr. Black at a trade show, it was magnificent—but only available in Australia, where it was created.

    Wholesale buyers liked it too, because now it’s widely available in the U.S.

    If you drink other coffee liqueurs, you’ve got to try Mr. Black.

    If you know a coffee drinker who’d enjoy sipping a rich, intense, coffee liqueur, treat them to a bottle of Mr. Black.
     
     
    WHAT IS MR. BLACK COLD BREW LIQUEUR?

    Mr. Black is a cold brew espresso liqueur, and in our experience, one of the best coffee liqueurs you can buy.

    Each bottle is handmade at the company’s coffee roastery and distillery just north of Sydney, Australia (photo #2).

    Mr. Black was developed to appeal to serious coffee aficionados. It emphasizes the purity of coffee flavor using a blend of beans from the best growing regions.

  • Ethiopian Djimmah is a specialty coffee with a light-medium roast bringing chocolate, toffee and fruit flavors to the blend.
  • Papua New Guinea beans add zesty citrus notes.
  • Brazilian Arabica, roasted two ways, brings, fresh cold brew notes.
  •  
    Next, the beans are roasted, ground and brewed.

  • The beans are ground with ceramic burrs.
  • The different ground beans are cold-brewed separately, into concentrate.
  • They are then blended to achieve a the best range of flavor and balance.
  • Brewing artisans fine-tune the water composition, temperature and time for each batch.
  •  
    The difference between something good and something great comes down to the details, says the company, and they are correct.
     
     
    HOW TO ENJOY MR. BLACK ESPRESSO LIQUEUR

  • Straight up or on the rocks.
  • Made into cocktails (see the recipes), including a great Espresso Martini.
  • Added to hot or iced coffee, cappuccino or espresso.
  • Mixed into mousse or whipped cream.
  • Over ice cream or cheesecake.
  • In milkshakes or floats.
  • In a glass of hot milk or hot chocolate.
  • Mixed into chocolate sauce.
  •  
    Discover more own the company website.

    You can find Mr. Black at stores nationwide and online. Here’s a store locator for both retail and e-tail.

     
    THE HISTORY OF LIQUEUR

    A liqueur (lih-KUR) is an alcoholic drink composed of distilled spirits and additional flavorings that can include bark, flowers, fruits, herbs, roots and spices.

     


    [1] Our favorite liqueur, rich and complex for serious coffee drinkers (photo © Mr. Black).


    [2] Make the best Espresso Martini.


    [3] Filling the bottles at the distillery (photos © Mr. Black).

     
    And sugar! Often served with, or after, dessert, liqueurs are typically heavily sweetened.

    Liqueurs are historical descendants of herbal medicines. These alcoholic medicines were made in Italy as early as the 13th century, often prepared by monks (for example, Chartreuse).

    The French word liqueur is derived from the Latin liquifacere, which means “to dissolve.”

    October 16th is National Liqueur Day.
     
     
    EAU DE VIE, CORDIAL, LIQUEUR & SCHNAPS: THE DIFFERENCE

    Liqueur has numerous “relatives.” Here’s are their differences.

  • Schnaps/schnapps, a generic German word for liquor or any alcoholic beverage, is more specific in English, where it refers to clear brandies distilled from fermented fruits. The English added a second “p,” spelling the word as schnapps. True Schnaps has no sugar added, but products sold in the U.S. as schnapps may indeed be sweetened. As one expert commented, “German Schnaps is to American schnapps as German beer is to American Budweiser.”
  • Eau de vie is the French term for Schnaps. American-made brands labeled eau de vie (“water of life”) are often heavily sweetened, and have added glycerine for thickening.
  • Liqueur is an already distilled alcohol made from grain which has already been fermented, into which fruits are steeped. It is sweeter and more syrupy than a European eau de vie or schnapps.
  • Cordial, in the U.S., almost always refers to a syrupy, sweet alcoholic beverage, a synonym for liqueur. In the U.K., it refers to a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink or the syrup used to make such a drink. Rose’s Lime Cordial, a British brand, is called Rose’s Lime Juice in the U.S. so Americans don’t think it’s alcoholic.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: French Toast Recipes For National French Toast Day


    [1] Dulce De Leche French Toast with macerated fresh berries, dulce de leche drizzle and a hand-whipped cream (photo © Chica | Las Vegas).

    French Toast Sandwich
    [2] French toast sandwich with jam. Here’s the recipe (photo © Zulka Sugar).

    Apple Pecan French Toast
    [3] Apple Pecan French Toast. Here’s the recipe (photo © Zulka Sugar).

    French Toast Recipe
    [4] Pumpkin-batter French Toast with a sauteed apple topping. Here’s the recipe (photo © Domesticate Me | Peapod).

    Savory French Toast
    [5] Savory French Toast topped with tomatoes and cheese. Here’s the recipe (photo © Castello Cheese).


    [6] Peach & Banana Stuffed French Toast (photo © Mackenzie Ltd.)

     

    November 28th is National French Toast Day, but this year it fell on Thanksgiving.

    So think of this tip not as being a day late, but as inspiration for Thanksgiving Weekend brunch. Thanks to Flavor & The Menu for the list.

    While these ideas are for pan-fried French toast, you can also bake French Toast: equally delicious!

    You can also make French Toast sandwiches like the Monte Cristo, an evolution of the Croque-Monsieur, a French sandwich of ham and Gruyère cheese, buttered and lightly browned on both sides in a skillet or under a broiler.

    Here’s the recipe so you can try it for lunch—although probably not on the same day you have French Toast for breakfast.

    Now, to the mix-and-match ingredients list. Try different combinations to find your signature French Toast recipe.
     
     
    PICK YOUR BREAD

    There are no limits on bread varieties, shapes, thickness.
     
    Traditional French Toast Breads

  • Brioche
  • Challah
  • Texas toast (thick slices of buttered white bread)
  •  
    Non-Traditional French Toast Breads

  • Babka
  • Baguette
  • Banana bread, zucchini bread, gingerbread
  • Cinnamon rolls, sticky buns
  • Croissant
  • Monkey bread
  • Panettone (recipe) or pandoro (recipe)
  • Pound cake
  • Raisin bread
  • Swirl bread (cinnamon, pumpkin)
  • Whole grain bread
  •  
     
    BATTERS

    You can dip the bread into the batter right before cooking, or soak it overnight.

    Here’s the classic custard dip, plus special batters that a surprise of flavor.

  • Classic: whole milk or heavy cream, eggs, pure vanilla extract, cinnamon and/or nutmeg
  • Pancake: use a thinner version of pancake batter to dip the bread, combining two breakfast classics
  • Savory: buttermilk, eggs, chopped fresh herbs, sea salt, cracked pepper
  • Seasonal: egg nog (recipe)
  • Textural: retro cereal coatings, healthful cereal/granola coatings, puffed grains, seeds
  • Tres leches: evaporated milk, Thai coconut milk, heavy cream, eggs and pure vanilla extract, honey, cinnamon
  •  
     
    FILLINGS

    Plain French Toast is great comfort food. But why not add an element of excitement with fillings between the layers of bread?

  • Bananas or caramelized bananas
  • Compote, sautéed fruit
  • Cream cheese (plain or flavored) or other soft cheese
  • Custard
  • Dried fruit relish
  • Flavored custard, whipped cream style cheeses
  • Ice cream
  • Jam (including PB&J French Toast)
  • Nut compotes, nut butters
  • Nutella
  • Savory: seasoned ground meat and/or vegetable blends, tomatoes and cheese (recipe), olive cream cheese and fresh basil or arugula, etc.
  •  
     
    TOPPINGS

    Sweet, savory, indulgent, healthful, fun/whimsical and premium: Take your choice.

  • Dessert interpretations: Bananas Foster, cheesecake, tiramisu, pies/crumbles, churros
  • Fresh or macerated fruit
  • Fried egg
  • Housemade relishes and compotes
  • Whipped flavored mascarpone
  • Soft savory cheese (herbed goat cheese, for example)
  •  
     
    SAUCE/SYRUP

    Classic and/or modern finishes complete your French Toast delight.

  • Caramel, including flavored caramels
  • Chocolate sauce or spiced chocolate sauce drizzle
  • Crème anglaise
  • Preserves or marmalade
  • Pure maple syrup or fruit-infused syrup
  • Warmed honey or spicy honey
  • Whipped honey butter
  •  
     
    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH TOAST

     

      

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    STOCKING STUFFER: Lucha Crunch Bar, The Undisputed Champion

    In Mexico, “lucha libre” is freestyle wrestling (literally, “free fight”).

    It has developed into a stylish form of the professional wrestling, characterized by colorful masks, rapid sequences of holds and maneuvers, and “high-flying” maneuvers, some of which have been adopted into U.S. wrestling.

    Gearharts Chocolates has ported the colorful spirit of wresting into a scrumptious chocolate crunch bar, which has become our new favorite candy.

    The Lucha Crunch Bar is a 5″ x 2.5″ delight that is not to be missed.

    The enticing packaging has artwork in Lucha Libre style, including a mask!

    The luscious, nut-free candy bar inside is filled with Mexican-inspired flavors:

  • Caramel infused with fresh lime.
  • “Half-popped” popcorn for crunch.
  • A touch of chili rojo (red chile) for a bit of kick.
  • A cloak of Gearharts signature blend 40% milk chocolate.
  •  
    We can’t adequately describe the bodacious blend of flavors, except to say:

    All hail the Heavyweight Champion! Lucha Crunch Bar is our favorite chocolate find of the year.
     
    We’re buying a dozen as stocking stuffers, and another dozen to feed our chocolate fix.

    Hopefully, we’ll be able to limit our consumption to one bar per week.

    Get yours at GearhartsChocolates.com.

     

    Get yours at GearhartsChocolate.com.


    [1] A bite of Lucha Crunch Bar is a bite of heaven (both photos © Gearharts Chocolates).


    [2] The package is designed in the bright colors of Mexico and the mask of a Lucha Libre wrestler.


     
    THE HISTORY OF CANDY BARS

    The first candy bar was created in 1866. Here are the oldest bars, thanks to Oldest.org, from which this content was adapted.

    To see photos of the bars, click here.

  • 1847, England: Joseph Fry Chocolate Bar. Fry created the first molded chocolate bar in 1847, followed by the Chocolate Cream Bar, the first mass-produced candy bar, in 1866. It had a flavored fondant center.
  • 1875, Switzerland: Nestlé Milk Chocolate. The first milk chocolate bar was originally called the Gala Peter after Daniel Peter, who figured out how to make milk chocolate.
  • 1879, Switzerland: Lindt Chocolate Bar. Rodolphe Lindt created the breakthrough—called conching—that transformed the original hard, chewy chocolate into the smooth, creamy chocolate we know today.
  • 1900: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, United States. Milton S. Hershey’s milk chocolate bar was the first mass-produced chocolate in the United States. Before then, most of the world’s chocolate bars were made in Europe, especially Switzerland.
  • 1905, England: Cadbury Dairy Milk Bar. Cadbury had been producing chocolate bars since 1894, but the Dairy Milk Bar featured a higher proportion of milk. It was an instant hit.
  • 1908, Switzerland: Toblerone. Theodore Tobler developed the bar with his cousin Emil Baumann, adding Italian nougat (torrone), almonds and honey to milk chocolate. The name of the bar is a combination of Tobler and torrone, and the triangular shape was inspired by a pyramid of dancers at the Folies Bergères.
  • 1914, England: Fry’s Turkish Delight. From the same family that created the first chocolate bar, this bar covered Turkish Delight, a confection dusted with powdered sugar, in milk chocolate.
  • 1917, United States: Clark Bar. This milk chocolate bar with a crunchy peanut butter center was created by David L. Clark, an Irish-born candy salesman. His company later created the Zagnut Bar.
  • 1920, United States: Oh Henry. Created by the Williamson Candy Company in Chicago, this bar is a mixture of peanuts, caramel and fudge, coated in milk chocolate. The story is that the candy bar was named after a young man who often came to the factory to flirt with the female workers.
  • 1928, United States: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. H. B. Reese created this combination of peanut butter and chocolate. He worked in Milton Hershey’s chocolate factory and was inspired to started making his own chocolates.
  •  
    Company ownership may have changed, but all of these bars are still made today!
      

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