Better Virgin Marys January 1st is Bloody Mary Day. But after last night‘s celebration, you may be better off
with a Virgin Mary. Most Bloody Mary mixes are made to complement vodka and can be very salty. We find it
easier to make a mix that can be drunk Virgin Mary-style. Start with a 32-ounce bottle of tomato juice. Because
we love horseradish, we add 2 tablespoons of the prepared variety, as well as 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire
sauce, a teaspoon of celery salt and the juice of a fresh lemon or lime. The horseradish makes it plenty spicy, but
an alternative is to add 6 drops of hot sauce like Tabasco. Just shake the bottle and serve. (If you don‘t like
spice, use more Worcestershire, celery salt and lemon juice, then experiment with a drop or two of hot sauce for
flavor.) Keep the bottle chilled in the refrigerator—no ice needed to dilute your drink. With 41 calories per 8-
ounce glass, add a celery stick for fiber and you‘ve got a low-cal snack that has 74% of your daily requirement of
vitamin C and 22% of vitamin A. If you insist, pour in the vodka and celebrate Bloody Mary Day. Click here to see
our favorite tomato juices.
Thanks, But No Thanks If you received a food gift for Christmas that wasn‘t to your liking—marmalade, spicy
cocoa, flavored vinegar, whatever—don‘t stick it in the back of the cabinet and forget about it. Products should
be used within 12 months, or they begin to deteriorate—some items like cookies much sooner. Many products
have expiration dates, but if you don‘t like the food to begin with, the dates don‘t really matter. It‘s better to share
the item now, with people who will enjoy it. Bring the food(s) to your co-workers, be a friendly neighbor, or donate
it to a volunteer enterprise. Then, click here to find reviews in more than 70 categories of specialty foods, and
pick something you‘d rather have.
Gourmet Dieting If your New Year‘s resolutions include dieting, you can still enjoy many of THE NIBBLE‘s
specialty foods. Click here to check out great teas and coffees in our Beverages section; Fish, Seafood & Caviar;
Oils, Vinegars & Salad Dressings; Meat & Poultry; Pasta Sauces (our recommendations are sugar-free and low-
calorie); Salsas, and more. And don‘t forget our entire Diet Nibbles section.
Sage Advice Every January, toss out all of your old herbs and spices and start the year with fresh ones. After
jars are opened, ground spices and dried herbs lose their potency—that‘s why those jumbo jars are rarely a
bargain. Buy only what you use regularly. If you rarely use mace, e.g., wait until you need it for a recipe. Even
unopened jars of spices and herbs will degrade on the shelf after a couple of years. If exposed to heat or light,
they deteriorate even faster (store your spices away from the stove and oven, and avoid countertop spice
carousels). Whenever you can, buy whole spices and grind them in a spice mill as needed. We use a peppermill,
a nutmeg grinder and a multipurpose spice and herb grinder. Click here to learn about checking the freshness of
Flavored Mustards Flavored mustards can transform a dish, adding almost no calories but intense notes of
tarragon, basil, Roquefort or lemon to your sandwich, vinaigrette, potato salad or charcuterie. Or create a
delicious crust on chicken, fish, beef, lamb or pork. Think of classic Dijon as vanilla, and start to expand your
mustard horizons. We love the Laurent du Clos line of French mustards, and the Anton Kozlik line from Canada
is a truly eye-opening experience as to the heights mustard can ascend. Click here for our review of Anton
Spritz Your Dressings Even big companies are jumping on the bandwagon now, with prepackaged spray
dressings. But we have been spraying olive oil and vinaigrettes from non-aerosol, refillable spray bottles for
years. The idea was born when we wanted a way to get more coverage of our greens by using less dressing,
without hand-tossing the salad to cover every leaf (in other words, get more dressing flavor by using less
dressing, with fewer calories). We started by buying empty plastic cosmetics spray bottles to fill and spritz, but
the industry has caught up and now makes ―misters‖ for this task. Add a mister to your table to cut down on
dressing calories. Alas, mayonnaise-based dressings are too heavy to fit through the spray nozzle, although you
can experiment with making creamy vinaigrettes. For more calorie-cutting ideas, click here visit our Diet Nibbles
Celebratory Pasta Use specialty shaped pastas to have a monthly celebration dinner: snowmen in January,
hearts in February, stars for Independence Day, pumpkins in October, turkeys in November, Santas in
December and so forth. With this new monthly dinner tradition, select a family member to research interesting
facts about the holiday or season to share at the table. To read our review of Pasta Shoppe novelty-shape
pastas, click here.
Toffee Crumbs Today is English Toffee Day, so get yourself a box. But don‘t toss out the ―crumbs‖ at the
bottom: They‘re delicious on ice cream, cheesecake, yogurt or cake frosting. In fact, Enstrom‘s, one of our
favorite toffee makers, sells crumbs by the bag for toffee fans who find many other uses for them. Click here to
read our article on ―Things To Do With Toffee.‖
Tastier Tea If you prefer to drink bottled water over your local tap water, the same fluorine flavor you don‘t like
from the tap will carry over into your tea. January is Hot Tea Month, so consider investing $200 to install a carbon
filter in your kitchen sink. If you drink fine tea straight, without milk and sugar (as it should be enjoyed), you‘ll
especially appreciate the difference. Barring that, consider using spring water (not mineral water, which has the
flavor of its minerals) to make tea. But at $.99-$1.89 a gallon, that $200 filter will pay for itself soon enough! Plus,
running water is oxygenated, which further enhances the flavor of the tea—another plus for the filter. If you have
neither filter nor spring water, let the tap water stand for 10 minutes before boiling so some of the fluorine can
evaporate. For more information about fine tea, click here.
Conserving Cheese Calories One way to stretch those cheese calories is to serve cheese cubes on skewers
instead of a slice-all-you-want cheese board. Alternate the cheese cubes with grape tomatoes, broccoli florets,
bell pepper strips and other favorite crudités. Then, you save the bread and cracker calories too! Avoid high-fat
Brie and other double-and triple-crémes: the creamier the cheese, the higher the butterfat and calories. Soft and
semi-soft cheeses like Brie contain 60%-74% butterfat, triple-crème cheeses like Saint André and Explorateur
have at least 75% butterfat. Stick with Parmesan (40%), Cheddar (43%), Swiss (43%), Gouda (48%), mozzarella
(24%) and other cheeses with a firm or dry consistency (called the ―paste‖). We love Cabot‘s Light
Cheddars—regular, Garlic & Herb and Jalapeño, just 7% total fat. Click here to find more of our favorite calorie-
reduced foods in our Diet Nibbles section.
Banana Split Breakfast For a healthy and festive breakfast, split a ripe banana, add two or three small scoops
of cottage cheese topped with different flavors of yogurt and different fresh fruits. Sprinkle with granola or cereal
flakes and you have a delicious ―banana split.‖ It‘s worth buying special banana split dishes—the entire family will
love this one! Click here for some inexpensive dishes. Find some of our favorite calorie-friendly foods in our Diet
Nibbles section under Product Reviews on the top menu.
Marvelous Marzipan Today is National Marzipan Day. A confection that dates to biblical times, marzipan is a
mixture of ground almonds and sugar, gently cooked. Marzipan can be formed into almost any shape: Fruits
made of tinted marzipan are most popular. Chocolate-covered marzipan is one of our favorite candies—see if
your local chocolatier has some freshly-made. And click here to download a recipe booklet, ―All About Marzipan,‖
with step-by-step instructions on how to craft your own edible marzipan sculptures: a fun family project.
Wine Timeline If you have an unopened bottle of spirits, it can last for years. But except for collector wines that
need bottle age, most wines are meant to be drunk within a year: Otherwise, they deteriorate. If you‘re not sure
about a wine you own, ask at your local wine store. You don‘t need a special occasion to open a nice bottle of
wine. If you don‘t have enough participation to finish the bottle in an evening, use a wine preservative and enjoy it
over a week. Click here for a good preservative spray.
Bread Switch Merely switching breads can make the same old, same old seem new and exciting. Instead of
sandwiching your tuna, egg salad or turkey on standard whole wheat, rye or multi-grain, think about focaccia,
sourdough, semolina or walnut raisin. (Yes, you can put tuna, egg salad or turkey on walnut raisin, just like you
can toss raisins into chicken or tuna salad.) Sliced bread can be kept in the freezer at your beck and call. It
defrosts in seconds in the microwave, to be used au naturel or toasted. Click here to read our review of Rudi‘s
Check & Toss Don‘t wait for spring cleaning: January is a good month to go through cupboards for about-to-
expire foods and impulse purchases you never got around to eating. Also check your cooking oils: They go
rancid. If they don't pass the sniff test (oil that has turned smells musty and old), toss them. If you don‘t trust your
nose, take a small taste). When you replace the oils, use a wine preservative spray to prolong the life of the more
expensive ones. Click here for a preservative spray. And the best tip of all: Don‘t buy more oil than you can
reasonably use within 6 months.
Healthy Snacks It‘s easy to keep healthy, tasty foods at work to snack on. The temptation to grab for fat-and
sugar-loaded foods can be offset with a little planning. Pack a drawer with palate-pleasers like delicious teas, fine
low-sugar or sugar-free spreads and peanut butters, and 35-calorie crispbreads like Wasa. Peeled Snacks dried
fruit and nut mixes are a nutritious snack that hits the spot any time of the day. Click here for our review, and
check out our NutriNibbles and Diet Nibbles sections for other smart choices.
Easy Cheeses If you‘re lactose-intolerant, or have guests who are, it‘s generally due to the larger protein
molecules in cow‘s milk. Goat‘s milk and sheep‘s milk have smaller, more easily digestible molecules. Offer
those cheeses along with mozzarella di bufala, from water buffalo‘s milk. The same principle applies to yogurt.
Redwood Farms (goat), Old Chatham Sheepherding Company (sheep) and FAGE Total (sheep) make delicious
yogurts, as does Spoondance Creamery (formerly Woodstock Water Buffalo Yogurt). Click here for more
Bloody Good Oranges From the name, blood oranges should be in season at Halloween. But these wonders
are in stores right now. Even our local supermarket has them! They look exactly like regular oranges on the
outside, but their inside flesh is a deep rosy red color; and the flavor is a cross between orange and
raspberry—some people call them ―raspberry oranges.‖ Whatever you call them, be sure you buy some before
the season is over. Eat them for breakfast instead of grapefruit (or squeeze them for heavenly juice); add them to
fruit salads, green salads, and seafood and chicken salads for beautiful color and flavor; use sections to garnish
grilled fish or create a concasse; enjoy them for dessert and snacks; and make a memorable blood orange
sorbet (Ciao Bella has one available year-round). Click here for a recipe for Blood Orange Vinaigrette.
Kitchen Diary Keep a diary in your kitchen—or a document on your computer—of entertaining occasions and
what you‘ve served to which guests. It serves as a mind-jogger of what was popular, what dishes didn‘t fly, who
didn‘t like fish, who has peanut allergies, et cetera. It also will remind you not to serve the same thing to the same
people next time! We retrofitted our old Filofax to include sections for events, menus and guest lists; ideas for
future events and pockets for clipped recipes and tips.
Bad Wrap January 20th is Cheese Lover‘s Day, so be sure to give your favorites the respect they deserve. Fine
cheese is a living food that breathes and ages. Most cheese should not be kept in plastic wrap, which essentially
suffocates the cheese, allows moisture to condense on the inside of the wrap and hastens spoilage. Stores may
wrap cheese in plastic for efficiency, but their inventory turns over quickly. The one exception to the plastic wrap
rule is dry, aged cheese like Parmesan, where the cheese‘s moisture is largely evaporated. Wrap all other
cheeses in waxed paper or butcher paper, both of which are protective but porous. Never buy more cheese than
you plan to consume over the next few days: Enjoy cheese at its peak flavor. Click here to explore the wonderful
world of cheese.
Banana Hot Chocolate Purée a ripe banana and add it to hot chocolate. One banana is enough for two eight-
ounce cups (it stretches further if you want just a little banana flavor). Add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a grind of
fresh nutmeg to the banana purée; then divide the mixture evenly between the mugs. Pour the hot chocolate
over it and stir well. You can garnish with a side of banana chips; or for kids, marshmallows and graham
crackers. We‘re not saying this is a health drink, but it combines potassium and antioxidants and it sure is a
mood elevator. Click here for 25 ways to glamorize your hot chocolate.
Count Plates, Not Calories Restricting your food intake to meet those weight loss goals? Treat yourself to
beautiful dishes, cups, and glasses. What you eat will look more exciting and taste that much better. Even a cup
of plain yogurt looks tempting in a beautiful red bowl (don‘t forget a sprig of dill). It‘s how they make the most
meager victuals look wonderful at the poshest spas. Click here to see some of our favorite dishes. They also
make entertaining more fun.
Hedging Your Bets If you want to serve ethnic foods or spicy foods but are concerned that not all your guests
will enjoy them, serve them as hors d‘oeuvres, along with other choices. The foodies can feast, and you don‘t
have to worry about other guests going hungry. Click here to see some of our favorite international specialty
Gourmet Kids Children as young as five can learn the joy of cooking. Companies like Sassafras and Pelican
Bay make junior chef kits that let kids turn out truly delicious cookies, pizzas, pancakes and fun projects like
flowerpot cakes complete with gummy worms and chocolate dirt. Share your love of food and empower a kid with
a cooking kit. Add the gift of time and be the adult ―supervising chef,‖ too. Click here to see some of our favorite
specialty foods products that you can give kids—educate their palates to the ―good stuff.‖
Irish Coffee Day This popular drink isn‘t for waist-watchers, but we‘re happy to celebrate the ―holiday.‖ Combine
6 ounces of hot coffee with 1-1/2 ounces Irish whiskey and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Stir to dissolve and float
heavy cream on top (don‘t mix it in). Irish Coffee is traditionally served in a glass-handled mug so you can enjoy
watching the layers, but it tastes great in any vessel. Click here for the history of Irish Coffee and a group of Irish
Onion Protection If your eyes water when you chop onions, the best kitchen gadget is a pair of swimmer‘s
goggles. They keep the sulfur enzymes away from your eyes like magic! To remove the smell of onions (or
garlic) from your hands, squeeze lemon juice on them (or if you‘ve squeezed lemon juice for a recipe, rub the
squeezed pulp) and then rub your hands against stainless steel—your sink, faucet, a serving spoon. The ―kitchen
chemistry‖ works. While swimmer's goggles may not qualify as kitchen gadgets, you can click here to see some
of our favorite traditional (and not-so-traditional) gadgets.
Truffle Paste To enjoy some heavenly truffle flavor without breaking the bank, black or white truffle paste can
be spread like a condiment on canapés, roasted meat and poultry. Stir a spoonful into risottos and sauces—it
works wonders. We toss angel hair pasta with butter and truffle paste (you can use truffle butter to achieve the
same effect). The tube or jar has a shelf life of a year and lasts about a week once opened. It‘s a wonderful little
luxury and a great birthday gift for your favorite foodie. If there‘s any left, squeeze it onto your morning toast. To
try a tube, click here.
Be Color-Blind To Oil Don‘t judge an olive oil by its color. Many of us have been led to believe that the darker
and greener an olive oil is, the better the quality. It‘s not true: The dark green color is just a characteristic of some
cultivars (varieties) of olives. Other top olive cultivars yield lighter-colored, and equally delicious, oils. Plus,
knowing how people are attracted to the dark green oils, some producers add color to lesser oils. Try to research
brands before buying, and buy at specialty stores where you can taste the oils. For more information about olive
oil, click here .
Souper Gifts When you‘re cooking your homemade soups, stews and sauces, make a double batch and give
the other half as a gift. Delicious home-cooked food makes a welcome gift for birthdays, get well pick-me-ups,
tired new parents, housewarmings, and is a nice touch to bring to a party for the host to enjoy the next day. If you
want to make the gift even more elaborate, buy a special serving dish, ladle or set of soup bowls; or deliver the
food in a handsome thermal container. Click here for to see some of our favorite soups and soup recipes.
Cookie Cocoa Garnish Place cute character cookies (the gourmet version of animal crackers) on the whipped
cream topping of a cup of hot chocolate. Look for small, lightweight cookies with interesting shapes in your
specialty food store. For many more ways to spruce up cocoa, click here.
Gourmet Super Bowl Grub Still seeking inspiration for your Super Bowl party? Click here to see how New York
City‘s most glamorous Chinese fusion restaurant, Ruby Foo‘s, puts an Asian twist on all-American football fare.
Kobe beef burgers, anyone? By the way, if anyone offers you Kobe beef in the U.S., it isn‘t Kobe. The famous
Japanese beef isn‘t exported to the U.S. What we have is Wagyu, or ―American Kobe.‖ It‘s from the same type of
steer as the Japanese beef, but it‘s raised in America.
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Soups Sweet Potato Soup February is Sweet Potato Month, so take the time to
explore some new recipes, rather than leaning on the good old mashed and
baked preparations. A great start is sweet potato soup. Roast or steam the
potatoes, purée and combine as you wish with vegetable stock, cream or milk
(vegans can add tofu). Season with sea salt plus maple syrup, cinnamon and
nutmeg. Or, go Mexican with cinnamon and chili powder. Garnish with fresh,
snipped herbs. It can be served cold in the summer, like vichyssoise, which is
made with white potatoes. Click here for one of our year-round favorite sides,
sweet potatoes with cherry glaze. You‘ll be able to follow a link in the recipe to
learn the difference between sweet potatoes and yams (and it‘s a big one).
Desserts Super Super Bowl Snacks It doesn‘t take much planning to scale up your game
plan from everyday to gourmet. Click here for some super Super Bowl recipes.
Super BowlMini Pies February is Great American Pies Month. Instead of buying or baking
one large pie, serve guests a trio of different mini-tartlets you can make as easy
as 1-2-3. Buy tartlet shells at any specialty food store and fill them with lemon
curd, orange curd and lime curd. Or choose three different berries or other fruits
and melt a jar of red currant or raspberry jelly (not jam or preserves) to glaze the
fruit (use apple or apricot jelly for light-color fruits like apricot, pear and kiwi). You
can also fill the tartlets with mousse, yogurt, ice cream or gourmet pie fillings like
pumpkin, sweet potato, or apple; and mix and match your trio instead of serving
three of the same type. Clearbrook Farms makes it easy: Click here for our
review of their fruit tartlets.
Soup Impressive Soup Today is Homemade Soup Day. But on any day, soup is a
great course for entertaining because of the variety of choices and ease of
serving. It can be made in advance and takes no time to plate. For an exciting
soup course, serve each guest a trio of soups in demitasse cups: three different
seafood soups or vegetable purées, three different ethnic soups or fruit soups, or
one chicken, one beef, one pork. Whatever theme you choose, you‘ll have as
much fun selecting soups and garnishes and serving your guests as they‘ll have
consuming them. You can buy colorful, inexpensive demitasse cups at outlets
and discount stores and use them for other purposes, like mini panna cottas,
mousse, pots de creme and sorbet. Click here for photo of soups in demitasse
4 cups and shot glasses.
Beverages Cocoa vs. Hot Chocolate There is a difference between cocoa and hot
chocolate. Cocoa is made from cocoa powder and hot chocolate is made from
shaved chocolate bars or other bits of whole chocolate. Hot chocolate is much
richer because of the higher cocoa butter content of the solid chocolate. You can
buy shaved chocolate or shave your own from your favorite chocolate
bars—dark, milk, white or flavored. The better quality of the bar, the better quality
of the hot chocolate. That‘s why some of the finest brands are $25 a box. Click
here for our review of 65 different brands. By the way, both cocoa and hot
chocolate can be made with either milk or water; milk, of course, makes it richer.
Desserts Multipurpose Mini Scoops Buy a medium-size cookie dough scoop—but not
just to make cookies. Use it to serve three smaller scoops of different ice creams
or sorbets, or to top slices of pies and cakes with a more elegant—and less
caloric—scoop à la mode (we use Oxo‘s—click here to see it). Also use it to
make savory foods more artistic. For example, instead of ―plopping‖ food on the
plate, add small scoops of cottage cheese at compass points around a fruit
salad, or create a ―flower cluster‖ of three scoops. Use a small-size cookie scoop
for smaller portions—we‘ve created beautiful presentations with semicircles of
round scoops of mashed potatoes and stuffing. Add tiny sprigs of rosemary or
small basil leaves to the top of each scoop, and you‘ll look like you work at a top
restaurant. Of course, you can use the scoop to make cookies: If you haven‘t
used a trigger cookie scoop before, you‘ll never nudge dough off of a teaspoon
again! They‘re great gifts for your favorite bakers.
Presidents Cherry Bonanza It‘s National Cherry Month. Even though fresh cherry season is
in July, you can guess that National Cherry Month honors George Washington.
Celebrate with delicious dried cherries, made from last summer‘s harvest. We put
them in everything from breakfast yogurt, cereal and pancakes; to luncheon
salads; to sauces for meats and poultry at dinner. For snacks, make cherry
caramel corn by tossing hot popcorn with sweet butter and adding dried cherries
and honey-roasted pecans; then drizzle with caramel. Click here to read all about
7 cherries .
Sandwiches Elvis‟s Favorite February 8th is Elvis Presley‘s birthday, and Elvis‘s favorite
snack was a peanut butter and ―nanner‖ sandwich—mashed bananas and PB on
white toast, fried in butter. We prefer a slightly more gourmet version: PB Loco‘s
yummy Peanut Butter with Jungle Banana on toasted brioche or raisin bread.
Click here for our review of PB Loco. Happy Birthday Elvis!
9 Valentine Sorting Out Smoked Salmon February 9th is National Bagels and Lox Day.
―Lox‖ is an old generic term that is fading away, replaced by much more
complicated choices. So how does one decide among the Irish, Danish, Nova
Scotia, Norwegian, Scottish and other smoked salmon contenders? They differ in
saltiness, smokiness and fishiness; the only way you‘ll know is to taste. If it‘s
sliced-to-order, you can try a piece at the counter; but packaged salmon (which
can be equally fine or better quality depending on manufacturer) is often less
expensive because factory slicing is cheaper than store labor). Buy small
amounts of each and compare. You don‘t need bagels: Slices of salmon with a
A Chocolate Cake capers, Click here to and your sweetie a devil‘s food
10 Valentine sprinkling of dill andTo Lovea lemon wedgebake an optional garnish of crème
chocolate cake with our recipe from Michael Recchiuti. It uses a heart-shaped
cookie cutter to cut mini-heart cakes from a sheet cake. For one large cake,
heart-shaped cake pans are available at any kitchen supply store. Write a
customized message on the top of your Valentine cake and decorate with
seasonal candies (cinnamon red-hots, Hershey‘s kisses).
Fish Marshmallow Valentine If your Valentine doesn‘t like chocolate, how about
marshmallows? Gourmet marshmallows come in a variety of flavors that will
delight the young and charm the food sophisticate. In addition to Valentine gifts,
we like serve them as ―petit fours‖ after dinner with coffee. The medley of
available colors and flavors match holiday themes and other occasions. And the
flavors are heavenly. Click here for our review of America‘s best artisan
Candy Pâte de Fruits Instead of chocolate, give wonderful pâte de fruits (pronounced
pot duh froo-ee), or gourmet fruit jellies, for Valentine‘s Day—and keep a box in
your own pantry. They‘re so versatile: instead of (or in addition to) cookies and
petit fours when friends drop by for tea or coffee; as an accent on a dessert plate;
when guests can‘t eat your regular dessert due to nut or chocolate allergies. In
fact, if you‘ve forgotten the dessert, or the soufflé flops, bring out a plate of these
beautiful, jewel-colored sweets and no one will be the wiser. Click here to read
about one of our favorite brands.
Valentine Valentine‟s Day Hors D‟Oeuvres Take those heart-shaped cookie cutters and
make heart-stopping hors d‘oeuvres—or a first course—with toast, sour cream
and red caviar. Buy the best white bread or brioche, toast it, let the toast cool, and
then cut the heart shapes. Spread with sour cream or crème fraîche, then top
with one or several different red caviars: salmon, tobiko, beet-colored whitefish
roe, lumpfish or capelin. Drape a chive across each heart as the ―arrow.‖ Click
13 here to see the full recipe.
Valentine Heart-y Celebration Each year, the Peanut Butter & Co. Sandwich Shop in the
heart of New York‘s Greenwich Village helps lovers celebrate Valentine‘s Day
with a special Sweetheart‘s Snack. It includes heart-shaped PB sandwiches, milk,
PB cookies, and other goodies. You can create the treat at home with a large
heart-shaped cookie cutter, your favorite PB and J, and a mix tape of romantic
tunes. Keep your lover guessing: Use a different flavor of peanut butter on each
sandwich. Click here to read our reviews of flavored peanut butters.
Diet Fruit Kabobs If you‘re ready to switch gears after chocolate-filled Valentine‘s
Day festivities, fruit kabobs with yogurt dip are a sweet transition—low-calorie and
healthy, too. Simply skewer pineapple chunks, melon balls, berries, grapes,
orange segments—whatever catches your eye in the produce section—in
interesting patterns (or, serve them as fruit salad). You can make an easy yogurt
dip from one cup of vanilla yogurt, 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 teaspoon of
cinnamon. The diet dip version substitutes plain, fat-free yogurt and 2 packets of
sweetener—hold the honey. Our favorite plain, fat-free yogurt, FAGE Total, is so
delicious, we‘re happy with the fat-free version. Click here for our review of FAGE
Salts Go Nuts It‘s National Almond Day. This versatile nut is not just a snack or
baking ingredient but a flavor-enhancer in sandwiches and salads—and of
course, slivered on green beans. Almonds can purchased whole, slivered,
chopped and in stick form (we like the elegance of slivers). Try smoked almonds,
too: They really perk up egg, tuna, chicken and green salads. Click here for
16 interesting salad recipes.
Hors Foie Gras Sandwiches A favorite hors d‘oeuvre at Maison Nibble: pâté
sandwiches! Make them like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but instead of
PB, spread foie gras pâté on high quality white bread or brioche (or chicken liver
mousse pâté, if you don‘t eat foie gras or want a less expensive alternative).
Then add the ―J‖—our favorite is Sauternes jelly (foie gras and Sauternes wine
are a perfect pairing), but it can be hard to find. You can substitute fig jam,
available in almost every specialty food store. Quarter the sandwiches and serve
them with Champagne. Our guests love these treats so much, they‘d rather eat
an entire plate of them than have dinner. Click here for more hors d‘oeuvre
Seafood Cherry Salsa Salmon It‘s a myth that the young George Washington cut down a
cherry tree—the legend was invented by an early biographer of Washington,
Parson Mason Weems. But that wasn‘t well known when February, George‘s
birth month, was named National Cherry Month. George might have liked a
delicious dish of Caramelized Salmon with Mango Cherry Salsa—click here for
18 the recipe.
Presidents Cherry Chips Make a cherry version of your favorite chocolate chip cookies to
celebrate George Washington‘s birthday—February 22, 1732. Look for cherry
chips in baking supply stores, or at BackToTheCountryStore.com. Then, make
your recipe, dividing the chip quantity between chocolate chips (or white
chocolate chips) and cherry chips. Another variation on the theme is to add an
extra 1/2 cup of dried cherries to your recipe (with or without the cherry chips).
You also can sprinkle the cherry chips on cupcakes, use them to decorate cakes
and puddings, garnish ice cream and add them to muffin and pancake batter.
19 Click here for the full recipe.
General Gourmet Pot Luck Invite food-loving friends to a fun, ―pot luck‖ brunch,
cocktails or coffee klatsch. Ask everyone to bring a favorite specialty food or
beverage appropriate to the occasion, that the other guests would enjoy tasting,
plus the accoutrement (bread or crackers, e.g., for spreads, crudités for dips and
dressings). For brunch, for example, guests might bring quince preserves, sun-
dried tomato peanut butter, Swedish flatbread and guava nectar—foods most
guests haven‘t experienced. Or, they could bring their favorite brand of artisan
sausage. Set the foods on a sideboard, cart or other ―tasting bar‖ along with
cards that indicate who chose them and where they can be purchased.
Participants can click here for inspiration among our more than 70 categories of
20 specialty food.
Hors Date Hors d‟Oeuvres For quick hors d‘ouevres that are also perfect for tea
parties, after-dinner petit four plates, or delicious with a cup of coffee instead of a
cookie, fill dried dates with rich, creamy mascarpone cheese and garnish with
chopped green pistachios. If there are any leftovers (not likely), they make great
breakfast treats and midday snacks. Kids love them, too. Click here to learn more
about mascarpone and our favorite mascarpone, from Mozzarella Fresca.
Presidents Cherries to a “T” Russians have traditionally sweetened their tea with a
spoonful of cherry preserves. It‘s delicious, but if you‘d like to avoid the calories,
an alternative is premium Chinese black tea with sour cherry pieces from
AdagioTeas.com. You also can steep a teaspoon of dried cherries with your
favorite black, green or white tea. If you‘d rather have no-sugar-added cherry
preserves, Chukar Cherries makes two excellent ones—click here to read more.
It‘s George Washington‘s birthday—have a cup in his honor.
23 Presidents Raising The Bar We‘re referring to the chocolate bar, of course. Yesterday may
have been Washington‘s birthday, but why not extend the celebration one more
day and treat yourself to Chocolove‘s Cherries and Almonds bar? It‘s a 55%
cacao Belgian chocolate bar—a semisweet chocolate not far over the borderline
between milk and dark, so milk chocolate lovers can enjoy it too. It‘s available at
many fine retailers; or you can buy them online. Get enough to share—you‘ll be
very popular. Click here to read our review of Chocolove.
Oscar “Diet” Oscars It‘s too easy to pile on the calories over a long evening of
watching the Oscars. So eschew the nachos and feature some healthy snacks.
For a ―diet‖ menu, start with crudités and a nonfat yogurt and spinach dip (mix
thawed, drained frozen spinach with dry vegetable or onion soup for seasoning).
Move to chicken skewers with lots of mushrooms, peppers and onions. For
dessert, get a jumbo fruit basket from Edible Arrangements: it‘s great taste and
glamour, all-in-one. Click here to read our review of Edible Arrangements.
Beverages Make Your Own Flavored Water If you can‘t find the flavored water you want in
a store—or if you want to save the amount of plastic you consume—you can
make it yourself and save both money and the environment. Refill a 16-ounce
water bottle with water and start by adding 5 drops of flavor extract (from the
spice department) with a clean medicine dropper. We love making mint water this
way! If you want to sweeten your water, add a few drops of low-glycemic agave
syrup (you‘ll find it in the supplements department of natural food stores), or use
a liquid non-caloric sweetener. Click here to read about the water that inspired us
to make our own, Hint Water, a Top Pick Of The Week.
Beverages Blender Cappuccino If you love the foamy stuff but don‘t have the time or
funds to keep running to the coffee emporium, try this variation: Brew Italian
Roast coffee (to make just one cup, get a Melitta drip cone) and let it cool to room
temperature. Add nonfat milk plus a tablespoon of powdered skim milk. If you use
sugar or sweetener, add it next. Pour the mixture into a blender and run on Low.
It will mix up nice and foamy. Pour into a cup. op with cinnamon if you like. Click
here to read about the different types of cappuccino and espresso drinks.
Chocolate Chocolate & Wine Entertain your friends in a way they‘ll never forget: Host a
chocolate and wine tasting party. Click here to read our step-by-step instructions
to pair wine and chocolate, and you‘ll be tasting perfect pairs (and impressing
27 guests) in no time!
Beverages Hot Chocolate Tasting Here‘s a fun way to entertain kids and adults alike: Get
five or six different brands of cocoa or hot chocolate—from supermarket brands
up to the best gourmet products. Use a magic marker on paper cups (or a china
marker if you have enough ceramic cups) and give everyone a half cup of each to
taste blind. Start with the first cup and discuss it: flavor elements, likes, dislikes.
Taste them all, have everyone rank their favorites, then reveal the what they are.
Not only is this a fun (and tasty!) activity, it helps people develop their palates and
learn how to discuss food. Click here to get an idea of which cocoas and hot
28 chocolates to test.
Rosemary Pepper Bacon Winter days beg for hearty breakfasts and brunches,
and this tasty bacon recipe is sure-to-please. Put strips of bacon on a baking
sheet. Strip leaves from one sprig of rosemary per half pound of bacon and
sprinkle them over the bacon. Add fresh-cracked pepper to taste and roast at
400°F until crisp, about 10 minutes. Click here to read about more of our favorite
29 pork products.
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Date Category Tip
Pastas Saucy Gifts March is National Sauce Month, so share the love. If you make a
favorite pasta sauce—or if you‘ve been thinking of trying a new recipe—all of that
work can make many more people happy. Just make double or triple the amount
you usually would. You can freeze the extra sauce in pint containers, not just for
your own use but as gifts. Birthday celebrants, sick friends, new parents and new
neighbors are just a few people who would appreciate something easy-to-make
for dinner. Sending guests home from a dinner party with a pint of your
homemade sauce is a nice party favor—something they‘ll re-thank you for when
they enjoy a second delicious dinner. Click here to read about our favorite ready-
Snacks Peanut Pairing March is National Peanut Month. We love goobers with beer,
but there‘s an art to pairing peanuts with libations. German Hefe-Weizen beers,
with their scent of roasted hops and wheat, echo the same notes in peanuts. A
perfect match! Sherry is known for its nutty qualities, so serve roasted peanuts
with a sherry aperitif. Honey-roasted peanuts match a fruitier wine, and hot chili
peanuts also beg for a wine with residual sugar to offset the heat of the chilies.
Click here to find our favorite gourmet peanuts.
Meat Artisan Hams The Chinese may have been the first to cure hams—or it might
have been the ancient Egyptians. Whoever deserves the honor, we tasted
dozens of hams to select a few that deserve the honor to grace your table.
There‘s a huge difference between supermarket hams and artisan hams, which
deliver rich meat flavor with much less salt. This Easter, buy the most delicious
3 artisan ham you can find. Click here to see our favorites.
Cookies Birthday Cupcakes Instead of a birthday cake, consider a platter of cupcakes.
Beloved by children and adults alike, they eliminate the need to cut and serve,
and an assortment provides guests with a choice of flavors. You can further
dazzle by serving highly-decorated cupcakes—for example, topped with
chocolate medallions or marzipan animals (click here for an example). If you
don‘t have a large tiered plate to present the cupcakes, ask around to see if you
can borrow one. Otherwise, any round platter will do. The cupcake at the center
4 should hold the candle(s).
Beverages Decaf or Caf? If you only have one coffee maker and can‘t brew both
caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee for your guests, it‘s better to opt for decaf.
More people have caffeine restrictions or simply don‘t want to stay up late. For
those who need the caffeine kick, use a Melitta cup-top filter or a French press.
5 Click here to learn more about what to do with coffee.
Cookies St. Pat‟s Cheesecake We don‘t know that St. Patrick had a favorite
cheesecake recipe, but you can make a special version of your own for March
17th by dotting your it with green baking chips (mint or lime). Just mix a cup into
the cheesecake batter. You can get the bits at a baking supply store, or from
BackToTheCountryStore.com. Serve the cheesecake with a cup of Irish tea.
Fish The Ultimate Club Sandwich Lightly toast and very lightly butter (with unsalted
butter) three large slices of brioche, sliced to medium thickness. Carefully cover
two layers of toast with sliced terrine of foie gras and smoked salmon. Sprinkle
the smoked salmon with Sevruga or American Sturgeon caviar roe. Cut into
quarters and secure with long party picks. Serve with home-made or home-style
(non-salty) potato chips like William Poll‘s Potato Thins (to see our review, click
here). Pour two glasses of Champagne and share with a friend.
Hors Shamrock Cookies You‘ve got plenty of time to find a shamrock cookie cutter
before the St. Patrick‘s Day festivities begin. Then, bake up a batch of delicious
butter cookies. (If you don‘t have a shamrock cookie cutter, you can always
make regular shapes with green décor.) Use your own favorite recipe, or click
here for one from Land O‘ Lakes. Unless you need to use margarine for dietary
reasons, always use butter—fresh butter, not a bar that‘s been sitting in the
refrigerator for a month, picking up flavors from other foods. You can also use
the shamrock cookie cutter to make shamrock toasts for hors d‘oeuvres,
shamrock pancakes and even vegetable cut-outs.
Fish Dark & Crabby It‘s National Crabmeat Day! Here‘s a way to indulge and still
have change to spare. Those pretty puffs of lump white crabmeat on the buffet
are up to three times the price of the darker body crabmeat—but the darker meat
is actually tastier. If you‘re mixing the crab into a salad for sandwiches or to stuff
eggs or omelet, save money—and enjoy crab more often—by using dark
crabmeat. Click here to read more about the different types of crab and
Oils Jazzy Vinaigrette Looking to add a little pizzazz to your everyday dressing? Try
a raspberry vinaigrette—two parts raspberry vinegar, three parts olive oil. The
sweet raspberry fruit shines through, as does its ruby color. While raspberry
vinegars are available for as little as $3.50 a bottle, we splurge on the opulent
French vinegar of J. Leblanc, made from the juice of fresh raspberries blended
into white wine vinegar, then aged in oak barrels. It also makes a splendid
addition to fish sauces, marinades and luncheon salads—especially with sliced
duck or chicken. It adds magic when you substitute it for cider vinegar, for
example, in cole slaw, potato salad and gazpacho. It can be drizzled on fruit,
cheese, bread, ice cream, cheesecake...in fact, you can mix a spoonful into
apple juice, iced tea, lemonade and other beverages. Click here to try some.
Eggs St. Patrick‟s Day Eggs You don‘t have to hunt for green bagels for St. Patrick‘s
Day breakfast. Start your day with a nutritious green breakfast by adding pesto
sauce to the eggs beaten for scrambled eggs, omelets, a frittata or quiche—one
teaspoon per egg. Decorate the plate with fresh basil or spinach leaves. Click
11 here to read about our favorite pestos.
St. Patrick Chip Of The Irish Bake extra-special chocolate chip cookies for St. Patrick‘s
Day, March 17. You don‘t have to be Irish to celebrate with a batch of mint
chocolate chip cookies, dividing the amount of chips to 50% regular morsels and
50% green mint morsels. (Or, if you want to pack in the goodies, keep the
regular amount of chocolate morsels and add 50% incremental mint morsels.)
Guittard Chocolate makes green mint morsels. If you can‘t find them locally, you
12 can click here to purchase them.
St. Patrick Irish Cream Icing Celebrate the 17th with Irish Cream Icing. You can bake or
buy brownies or a loaf cake and add this tasty homemade topping. Take 1/3 cup
Irish cream liqueur (such as Bailey‘s) and 8 ounces of top-quality white
chocolate. Buy a good chocolate bar instead of baking chips, which can be
vegetable oil instead of real chocolate. You can buy Green & Black‘s, one of our
favorites (organic, too), in Whole Foods Markets. In a small pan, bring the
liqueur to a slow boil; then remove from the heat and whisk in the chopped white
chocolate until it‘s completely melted and the icing is smooth. Refrigerate until it
becomes thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally. Spread the icing over the
brownies or cake. Keep refrigerated until 30 minutes before serving. Click here
to make Irish Coffee to go with your dessert.
Snacks Chips Ahoy It‘s National Potato Chip Day and that means only one thing: a
tasting party! If you can‘t celebrate today, set up a potato chip tasting bar for your
next party, or whenever you‘re having the crowd over to watch a game or a
movie. Buy different brands of gourmet chips and present them ―blind,‖ marking
bowls from 1 to 5 (or more, if you like). Over the course of the evening, guests
can taste and re-taste to decide on their favorites. Before the end of the evening,
reveal the brands. Everyone will have had a fun time debating preferences, and
they‘ll go home with new-found knowledge of what they‘re going to buy for
themselves. For more information on gourmet potato chips, click here.
Desserts Eatin „O‟ The Green Still thinking about a special dinner for St. Patrick‘s Day,
but not up to cooking Irish specialties? Go green via Italy, with spinach pasta and
a pesto sauce. Add with fresh basil leaves and/or green vegetables: broccoli,
snow peas, zucchini. Call it the Italian homage to St. Patrick‘s Day—and enjoy it
with an Irish beer (click here to learn more about Irish beer).
St. Patrick Irish Ice Cream Sandwiches Bake or buy a chocolate loaf cake and cut it into
sandwich-size slices. Soften a pint of vanilla ice cream, place the contents in a
bowl and blend in 1/4 cup Irish Cream liqueur. Return the ice cream to the
freezer. When ready to assemble the ―sandwiches,‖ let the ice cream soften for
5 minutes; then add 1" of ice cream to one slice of cake and top with a second
slice. Cut the ―sandwiches‖ on the diagonal and serve with a mint leaf garnish
and a drizzle of top- quality chocolate or caramel sauce (like The King‘s
Cupboard sauces—click here for our review). If you have a really cold freezer
and a panini press, you can make these in advance, freeze them solid and then
grill them lightly for a minute to toast the cake. We promise, you‘ll want every day
to be a holiday so you can have this treat.
St. Patrick Irish Stout Happy St. Patrick's Day! Feel free to celebrate today responsibly
with Guinness, a stout, and perhaps the best-known Irish beer. But in the opinion
of many, including THE NIBBLE, award-winning O‘Hara‘s, from a 10-year-old
Irish brewery, makes a richer, smoother, more complex stout that pairs well with
everything, including seafood (we even continued to drink it with our dessert,
apple pie). Try some with a cheese selection custom-tailored for stout. For
information on the differences between stout, lager, ale, porter and other styles
17 of beer, click here.
Seasonings Re-Thinking Salt Bid adieu to one of America‘s food icons, the Morton Salt
Girl, whose iodized salt is too salty. Instead, accent your food with the far more
vivid flavors of sea salts. There are dozens, each with its own flavor and beauty.
Some of our favorites are grey Celtic salt, coral-hued Hawaiian sea salt, beige
and ochre smoked sea salts and Himalayan pink salt. These are general
categories: Each type of salt can be found under different brand names. Sea
salts are not as refined (processed) as table salts, so contain nutritious traces of
calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc (that also
add to the color). They have bright, pure, clean flavor and the flavor subtleties
from the minerals. The grains are generally too large for salt shakers, so take
pinches from salt dishes, like great-grandma did. It makes it all the more a
gourmet experience, and you‘ll notice flavors in your food you never have before.
Click here for our glossary of artisan salts.
Seasonings Pesto Trick There‘s nothing better than a fresh basil plant on the windowsill, that
you can snip whenever you‘d like some fresh herb garnish. However, if a green
thumb isn‘t one of your talents, keep a jar of versatile pesto sauce in the cabinet
for plate accents. Drizzle a bit across the plate, or use a medicine dropper to
apply ―polka dots‖ around the perimeter of the plate. You can also use it, of
course, with pasta, hors d‘oeuvres and as a bread spread. If you don‘t use the
entire jar, keep it fresh by pouring a layer of olive oil on top of the pesto and
capping it tightly. The opened jar will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Pour off the olive oil before using the pesto, and use it to make a delicious salad
dressing. Click here to read about some of our favorite pestos.
Easter Spring Brunch Cocktail Celebrate Spring by switching your brunch cocktail to
a Passion Mimosa: Substitute passion fruit juice for the orange juice in a
standard Mimosa. You can purchase the juice or squeeze it from fresh passion
fruit. Add 2 ounces of juice to each flute or wine glass; then top with chilled
Champagne. Most bartenders don‘t stir because it destroys the bubbles, but if
you want to blend the drink prior to serving, use a swizzle stick and give it half a
very gentle stir from the bottom. Click here to see more cocktail recipes.
Easter Spring Salad Spring has officially sprung; a citrus salad is a festive way to
celebrate. Use baby lettuces or a mixture of arugula, endive, mâche and
radicchio plus red onion. For the citrus, select grapefruit (ideally ruby red or
pink), blood oranges and/or navel oranges, and toss in a few kumquats. Section
the citrus (kumquats are eaten unpeeled). Offer guests whole raw or toasted
almonds, shredded coconut and raisins or dried cherries as optional garnishes,
to sprinkle as they wish. Make a honey vinaigrette from 3 T sherry, cider or
balsamic vinegar; 5 T olive oil; and 1 T honey. For a slam dunk, try one of O
Olive Oil‘s citrus olive oils. You can toss all of the ingredients together, or
arrange them individually on the plate as a salade composée. Then, take a bite
of springtime. Click here for our review of O Citrus Olive Oils, a NIBBLE Top
Pick Of The Week.
Fish Smoked Fish In A Pinch Smoked fish has a long shelf life, works in any
course except dessert and is a popular treat. Keep some on hand for
unexpected guests and emergencies (like when a planned dish falls apart). You
can serve it with eggs, on sandwiches, in salads and chowders, on a dinner plate
or as an hors d‘oeuvre. Unopened cold-smoked salmon keeps in the refrigerator
for up to two months. Hot-smoked salmon, trout and halibut can stay in the
pantry for up to 5 years! Click here for a review of one tasty brand with
―longevity,‖ and visit our Seafood Section to read about the difference between
22 cold-smoked and hot-smoked salmon.
Diet Diet Jigglers If you‘ve ever made Jell-O® brand Easter eggs for kids—Jell-O
poured into egg-size molds—those molds make colorful and tasty diet food when
you fill them with Diet Jell-O, and are perfect any time of the year. Choose your
favorite flavors and make up a batch—we love cranberry, strawberry banana,
orange, lemon and lime. You can serve the eggs whole or cut them with an egg
slicer. If you don‘t have a mold, you can prepare the Egg Jiggler recipe in a 9x13
pan and then cut shapes with cookie cutters. Serve Diet Jiggers with fruit, yogurt
and cottage cheese, for snacks or for dessert. Fun food takes the sameness out
of dieting (remember that resolution you made a couple of months ago? stick
with it!); and at just 10 calories a serving, Diet Jell-O is a caloric bargain. To buy
the mold and find the recipe, click here.
Oils Dip, Dip, Hurray! Bread dippers—seasoned oil and vinegar mixes—are a
fashionable replacement for butter with a bread basket, and also are a popular
hors d‘oeuvre with cocktails, served with slices of your favorite loaf. There are
many delicious prepackaged bread dippers, but it‘s easy (and far less expensive)
to make your own by blending oil and balsamic vinegar in a 4:1 proportion. Use a
flavored olive oil if you have one and snip in some fresh herbs. The best breads
to dip are baguette, sourdough, ciabatta and focaccia. Since dippers are oil and
vinegar, they have tendency to separate. Serve them in a flatter dish or saucer
rather than a bowl, so people can connect the bread to both components. You
also can drizzle the dippers on roasted potatoes, vegetables and pasta, and use
them as a salad dressing and a marinade. Click here for some of our favorite oils
24 and vinegars.
Soups Honey Fried Pecans Today is Pecan Day, a holiday worth going nuts over.
Whip up a tasty pecan treat by combining 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons honey
and 1/2 cup water and cooking until the consistency is syrup-like. Then, add 2
cups of pecans to the mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a stainless steel
colander. Heat 6 cups of peanut oil and, when the oil is hot, fry the coated nuts
for 1-2 minutes. Drain in the colander. Once the pecans have cooled and
hardened, you can serve them as a snack or a dessert topping. Alternative:
Before the fried pecans have cooled, sprinkle them with toasted sesame seeds
or your favorite seasoning (from sweet, like cinnamon, to savory, like chili
powder) and toss. The pecans can be kept for several weeks in an airtight
container. Click here to read about our favorite flavored flavored pecans, where
someone else has done all the work.
Pasta Gourmet Mac & Cheese Today is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day, and we
can't think of a more deserving candidate than creamy, delicious macaroni and
cheese. Kick it up a notch by using gourmet cheeses—goat cheese, Roquefort,
or any of your favorites (we adore truffle cheese, and use some truffle butter as
well). Add scallions and any form of bacon for even more dimension. For even
more dazzle, use colored macaroni and enjoy a vibrant plate of red, green and
orange hues. Click here to read more about mac & cheese, including Ronald
26 Reagan‘s favorite recipe.
Pasta Quality Croutons If you use croutons in a salad, difference that homemade
croutons the make is tremendous. You can buy ―gourmet‖ croutons, but they can
be pricey, especially when it‘s so easy to make them at home. Simply cut day-old
French bread, Italian bread or even white bread) into 1-inch cubes. (Now you
know what to do with leftover French and Italian bread!) Lightly brush the tops
with olive oil and and crushed garlic, plus salt and pepper. You also can sprinkle
them with herbs like oregano and rosemary. The quality of ingredients is key:
The better the olive oil and bread, the better the croutons. We like to use infused
olive oils—citrus, basil, rosemary or chile. Place the croutons on parchment
paper on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes until the
croutons are lightly golden. For extra-crunchy croutons, bake a minute longer.
Remove from the oven and let cool. They‘ll keep crunchy in a tightly-covered
container for a couple of days. Click here for salad recipes.
Salad Baby Spinach Food fads are cyclical: spinach salad with mushrooms, bacon,
hard-boiled eggs and red onion was very popular in the 1970s and 1980s,
running neck and neck with the chef salad. It was then overshadowed by the
new chic food, mesclun, a mixture of 11 baby lettuces, topped with grilled tuna.
Then the resurgence of the Cobb salad (invented in 1936) and the Caesar
(invented in the 1920s) topped with grilled chicken, tuna or shrimp overtook the
spinach salad as the popular luncheon salads. Now that there‘s such lovely baby
spinach, it‘s time to bring back the spinach salad, as a main or a side. Baby
spinach is flavorful and more nutritious than lettuces, and it‘s lovely under a
vinaigrette. You can start by adding a tablespoon of Dijon mustard to your basic
recipe. But you can make dazzling vinaigrettes with Boyajian‘s maple vinegar
and olive oil, or tarragon vinegar and one of O Olive Oil‘s citrus vinegars. For a
gourmet turn on the original spinach salad, add pancetta, prosciutto or Serrano
ham and serve with quail eggs. We found a jar of grilled onions at a local
gourmet shop and added those around the spinach with a deviled egg and
28 pancetta, plus some colorful grape tomatoes. See how creatively you can depart
Salad Flavored Pastas If you love pasta, you may love flavored pastas even more.
Beyond spinach pasta (the most popular flavor), there are dozens to try, from
artichoke to lemon pepper to wasabi (curry, rosemary and jalapeño are among
our favorites). They make cooking a gourmet meal a snap: You can create a
complex main dish around them or use the pasta as an exciting side. Or, enjoy
them simply, with butter or olive oil and fresh-grated Parmesan cheese. Click
here to learn more about flavored pastas.
Cheese Honey Goat Heaven One of our favorite spreads is goat cheese mixed with
honey. Blend fresh goat cheese with honey to taste (you can use beaters on low
speed for a whipped effect). Keep the mixture in an airtight container or a crock
sealed with plastic wrap. It‘s heavenly on toast, muffins or bagels for breakfast;
on crustless bread for tea sandwiches; and it makes a lovely canapé on
crackers. For added excitement, use an infused honey, like Lavender, Chili, or
Star Anise from Palette Fine Foods (click here for our review).
Beverages Secret To Better Coffee If you‘re buying the best beans, using a great coffee
machine and still wish your coffee tasted as good as it does at coffee bars,
here‘s a tip: Install a carbon filter under your kitchen sink. It removes the
chlorine and fluorine from your tap water. Fluorine reacts with the tannins in the
coffee beans to create bitterness. For less than $200 and some labor—or 12
weeks worth of a daily Venti at Starbucks—you can enjoy every cup at home that
much more. Click here to learn how to make better coffee.
rish Cream Truffles. Since January 25th is Irish Coffee Day, it is only fitting that you make a batch of Ir
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itting that you make a batch of Irish cream chocolate truffles to celebrate: it doesn‘t take long, and it‘s easy to enlist volunteer help. Start with
nlist volunteer help. Start with 12 ounces of chopped fine bittersweet chocolate (you can use bars from Lindt, Scharffen Berger, Valrhona or o
harffen Berger, Valrhona or other chocolatiers), 1 cup of whipping cream, 4 tablespoons of softened sweet butter, 3 tablespoons of Irish Crea
er, 3 tablespoons of Irish Cream liqueur, and to coat the truffles, 1 cup of unsweetened, quality cocoa. Put the chopped chocolate into a bowl
hopped chocolate into a bowl. Bring cream to a boil and stir in the liqueur. In a seperate bowl, pour the cream over the chopped chocolate a l
ver the chopped chocolate a little at a time, stirring with a whisk. When the cream is fully incorporated and the mixture is completely smooth,
ixture is completely smooth, whisk in the butter, bit by bit. Cool the chocolate mixture in the refrigerator in a covered plastic container for sev
ered plastic container for several hours. Then dip a melon-baller in hot water, shake off the excess moisture and scoop balls of chocolate. Ro
d scoop balls of chocolate. Roll them in
Date Category Tip
VegetablesTastier Tomatoes It‘s National Florida Tomato Month and we‘d love to take part,
but often the tomatoes in the supermarket aren‘t very inspiring. If you want sliced
tomatoes on your sandwich but they‘re not as tasty as they could be, marinate
them for a few minutes in a good vinaigrette. When drained, the moistness from
the marinade may eliminate the need for mayonnaise or other spreads. (Better
yet, use marinated sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers.) Use the rest of
the vinaigrette for a side salad or toss with green beans or crudités to go with
your sandwich. Click here for other garnish ideas.
Sandwiches lavored Peanut Butter April 2nd is Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. If you haven‘t
tried the flavored, gourmet varieties, the best brands are amazing! For a
delicious lunch, serve halves of three different PB sandwiches, selecting flavors
like raisin cinnamon PB, sun-dried tomato PB, and Asian curry spice PB. For tea
or snacks, you can offer both sweet and savory flavors, or go for three different
spins on chocolate (how about dark chocolate, white chocolate, and raspberry
chocolate). We know it‘s also ―Jelly‖ Day, but these great PBs stand on their
own. Click here to read more about flavored peanut butters.
Easter Caviar Easter Eggs The kids may enjoy colored Easter eggs, but we prefer
caviar eggs. Take your favorite deviled egg recipe and mix in crunchy red or
green tobiko (wasabi-flavored tobiko adds an extra kick); then decorate the tops
with red salmon caviar (some high-rollers upgrade to sturgeon caviar). Or, buy
different infused whitefish caviars to make colorful Easter egg tray. Click here for
our review of infused caviars, and see our Caviar Section under Main Reviews
for more information on different kinds of caviar you can use.
Easter Sugar-Free Gourmet Marshmallows There‘s great sugar-free chocolate for
those who can‘t have sugar, and there are also great sugar-free marshmallows
for the Easter basket. If you can‘t have Peeps®, you can have something that
tastes even better and is almost as cute: the perky pink and white sugar-free
marshmallows from La Nouba. Click here for our review.
Easter Easter Bread Several cultures have a celebratory Easter bread—often a rich,
sweet yeast style baked with yeast, eggs, fruits and nuts. Think of English hot
cross buns, the dove-shaped Italian colomba di Pasqua, Greek tsoureki plaited
with nestled red Easter eggs (symbolic of the blood of Jesus), and Russian
kulich, a cake-like yeast loaf filled with candied fruit and often iced. Even if you
don‘t celebrate Easter, enjoy its culinary treasures by sampling these delicious
baked goods. If you can‘t find them at bakeries in your town, find recipes on the
Internet. Assign different breads to friends and have everyone bring one—you
can start an exciting ―Easter Saturday‖ tea tradition. Click here for more tasty
Easter Easter Cupcakes Make a fun and easy Easter dessert that kids and adults will
enjoy. Buy plain frosted cupcakes, shredded coconut and malt ball ―Easter eggs‖
(or any kind of small ―egg‖ candy, including jelly beans or small chocolate eggs).
Dye the coconut green with food coloring and let it dry for a few hours. Then,
create green coconut nests on top of the cupcakes; put one large malted milk
ball egg or three small jelly bean-size eggs in the nest. If guests ask what they
can bring, tell them to bring the cupcakes. Then, as an activity, have an adult
supervise the kids as they create the cupcake ―nests‖ for dessert. Now that you
have the dessert ready, click here to read about our favorite cookies, brownies,
cakes and pies.
Easter Crudité Basket Baskets aren‘t just for Easter candy: Turn your crudité platter
into a crudité basket. With bright-colored red and yellow bell peppers, red
radishes, red and yellow grape or cherry tomatoes, green broccoli and white
cauliflower florets, plus Peter Rabbit‘s favorite—baby carrots—your basket will
look as tempting as any filled with jelly beans. For an equally bright-colored dip,
try yogurt-curry dip made with nonfat yogurt. It‘s also very low-calorie, so your
crudité basket is more than a pretty still life—it‘s health food. Into one cup of
yogurt (you can substitute sour cream, mayonnaise, or mix half-yogurt, half-
mayo), add 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, one clove minced
garlic or equivalent garlic juice or garlic salt. Optional: Snip in fine pieces of fresh
tarragon. Chill 3 hours or overnight to let the flavors mix. Adjust seasonings and
add salt as necessary. Click here for more spring entertaining tips.
Easter Edible Table Decor Three easy ideas to perk up your spring tabletop: (1) A
perky chocolate Easter bunny or a pretty egg does double duty as a place setting
and party favor. Buy good chocolate! (2) Fill shot glasses or liqueur glasses with
gourmet jelly beans (Jelly Belly makes a sugar-free version for people on
restricted diets). Stick small silk or paper flowers in each glass to make
―flowerpots.‖ After the dinner, you can recycle the flowers to your gift wrap bin.
(3) If you have a glass fruit bowl or other deep glass dishes, assemble a few
green Granny Smith apples, a red pomegranate, and brown and white boiled
eggs into a lovely natural —and completely edible—centerpiece. Click here to
read about Edible Arrangements—an edible ―flower basket.‖
Sandwiches ancier Fillings The difference between ordinary sandwich fillings and catered
affairs is largely seasoning. For a French take on egg salad, take 8 hard boiled
eggs and mash with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 T Dijon mustard, 1 T mayonnaise, and
truffle salt instead of regular salt. Rub each slice of bread with a cut garlic clove
before assembling. For an Indian touch, use curry mayonnaise and add currants
and slivered almonds. Go British with half mayonnaise, half Dijon mustard and
some capers. For Asian-style, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil to the mayonnaise and
mix in diced pineapple and/or mango, mandarin orange segments and some thin
Chinese noodles for crunch. Trim crusts from the bread, cut each sandwich into
3 long ―fingers‖ and serve one of each variety, topped with a halved grape
tomato or olive. The same approach works with tuna and chicken salads. Click
here to read about some of our favorite breads to add even more panache to
Salad Mix Cocktails Like A Pro You can serve the same cocktails as the hippest bars
do, with no skill beyond opening a bottle of top-quality mixer. Companies like
Mixerz, Stirrings and Urban Accents make it easy to create great drinks—from
Cosmopolitans to Espresso Martinis to Mojitos. Your cocktails will look even
more professional if you use glass rimmers—flavored and colored seasonings
that coat the rim of the glass to decorate and flavor drinks (they‘re like Margarita
salt, but are complex sweet or savory flavors). Just moisten the rim of the glass
and dip it in the rimmer tin. Click here for reviews of our favorite cocktail mixers.
Beverages Water Glass Garnishes Take a tip from stylish restaurants and add slices of
lemon, lime or cucumber (or a plump strawberry) to the rim of water glasses.
After you‘ve cut the slices, make an additional cut from the center to the edge,
and use that notch to affix the slices to the rims. Guests can remove and float
the pieces in their water for added flavor. If you keep a water pitcher at the table,
citrus or cucumber slices and strawberries provide flavor and look elegant inside,
too. Click here to read about our favorite bottled waters.
Cheese Zippier Grilled Cheese Today is a holiday you can really sink your teeth into:
Grilled Cheese Day! Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of our favorite comfort
foods—for lunch, light supper, or snacks (cut them in quarters for casual hors
d‘oeuvres, too). Ask at your cheese counter for a tastier alternatives to American
cheese, and test to find your favorites. We love smoked mozzarella and
Jarlsberg, a Swiss-type cheese from Norway; and we find that making our
sandwiches in a panini press in the best method. Otherwise, a frying pan will do
just fine. Assemble the sandwiches and butter the outsides with softened butter.
Fry: When the bottom slices are golden brown (2 to 3 minutes), flip them over,
press down with a spatula and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. We like tomatoes
on our sandwiches: We first sprinkle them with oregano or marinate them briefly
in a vinaigrette for added flavor. Click here for gourmet grilled cheese recipes.
Beverages Juicy Tip No wonder orange juice sales are dropping: There are so many other
delightful juice choices (we love blood orange and a grapefruit-strawberry blend).
If you don‘t see them in the store, you can make them at home. Citrus fruits need
a ream-type cone to extract the most liquid from halved fruit, but a juice extractor
is required to remove juice from non-citrus fruits (apples, pears, berries and
vegetables). If you‘re going to get serious about juicing, study the alternatives
and buy a heavy-duty extractor. Maybe Mom would like one for Mother‘s Day? If
you don‘t want to juice, click here to read about our favorite ready-to-drink
Cheese Gourmet Cream Cheese When we serve flavored cream cheeses at brunch,
scallion cream cheese is the first to disappear. But commercial brands are
gummy and specialty store fresh-made is pricey. Here‘s our trick: Buy plain
cream cheese, preferably organic. Using electric beaters on slow, blend 8
ounces of cream cheese with 2 T of sour cream (you can add more for a more
fluid spread). Add 2 T chopped scallions, or more to taste. That‘s it! (And if you
don‘t have 10 minutes to make scallion cream cheese, do the next best thing:
Snip chives into a small dish so that guests can sprinkle them on top of the
cream cheese. It takes two minutes to wash and snip the chives.) We also love
olive cream cheese: Purée roasted peppers and, instead of the sour cream,
14 blend 2T or more of purée to taste. Add chopped green olives stuffed with
Meat New Ham Glaze April 15th is National Glazed Spiral Ham Day. For your next
ham, do something new and exciting. Moosewood Hollow‘s infused maple
syrups, a Top Pick Of The Week—in flavors like Lavender, Chai, Sweet Autumn,
Sweet Ginger and Sweet Heat—provide culinary excitement. Just pour the syrup
over the ham, and baste once with the syrup from the bottom of the pan. It
couldn‘t be easier—or tastier. Click here for our review.
Diet Low-Cal Glamour Dieting is a time to become a creative food stylist: When it
looks better, it tastes better. Line a basket with greens; then arrange cubes,
sticks, slices and rolls of low-fat cheeses with crudités. You can also make
kebabs of cheese cubes and melon balls, tangerine sections, berries, kiwi, pear
and apple slices (dip the latter in lemon juice to prevent browning). The fun of
kebabs, stacked in a basket, vase, or pierced into an inverted half watermelon,
eliminates the need for crackers or bread. Flavored mustards (tarragon,
lemon—there are dozens), by themselves or mixed with nonfat yogurt, make
elegant savory condiments. Use nonfat yogurt mixed with sugar-free fruit
spreads and a touch of no-cal sweetener for sweet dips. No one but you will
realize it‘s ―diet food.‖ Click here to find delicious low-calorie foods in our Diet
16 Nibbles Section.
Say Hi To Herb Plant a window herb box or buy a few pots of your favorite
herbs. Once you start snipping fresh herbs into your food, you‘ll never go back to
dried. If you have space, grow larger pots of basil, rosemary and thyme—the
plants are beautiful as well as fragrant. Rosemary is hardy and can grow into
quite a large household plant—you may notice tabletop rosemary ―topiary‖
Christmas trees for sale at holiday time. Click here for ideas for garnishes.
Easter Holland Mints Pretty Holland mints taste like gourmet, minty M&Ms and look
like their more elegant relatives. In pastel colors of lavender, pink and pale
green, they practically scream spring. Use them as décor on ice cream and
cupcakes, fill liqueur or shot glasses and place them at individual table settings,
or simply offer them in a candy bowl with coffee after dinner. You can find
Holland Mints at most candy stores, or at Marich.com. The inventor, Marinus van
Dam (the ―Mar‖ in Marich) emigrated to California from Holland—hence the
name of the mint. Click here for our review.
National Garlic Day We‘re celebrating with three of our favorite garlic products:
Garlic Jelly from Aloha From Oregon (a savory jelly that‘s great on frankfurters
and everything else), Garlic Aïoli from Restaurant Lulu and Garlic Valley Farms
Garlic Juice, a spray that jazzes up any dish from salads to pizza to pasta to
cocktails. You can find the product reviews by searching for the company names
in the search box at the top of the page. Or, click here for our review of Garlic
Valley Farms Garlic Juice—a truly amazing product.
Desserts Presto: A Parfait Transform ice cream and cookies, brownies or pound cake
into a delectable parfait. If you don‘t have parfait or sundae dishes, use wine
goblets. Crumble the cookies into chunks and add alternating layers of ice cream
and cookies, or cubes of cake. Top with whipped cream, or anchor a whole
cookie in the top scoop of ice cream, like a crown. You can do as beautiful a job
as any ice cream parlor! Click here for more ice cream recipes.
Salad Antipasto Salad Create a fusion dish by using Italian antipasto ingredients to
dress up your salad course. Marinated tomatoes, roasted peppers or artichokes
from a high-quality manufacturer like Divina are wonderful on their own, but are
even more grand atop greens. You can use the oil marinade from quality jarred
vegetables as your salad dressing and shave some Parmesan on top to finish
your dish. Click here for more salad recipes.
Desserts Curdelicious Lemon curd and its siblings, like lime curd and blood orange curd,
are a versatile addition to the pantry. Serve them with strawberries and other
dipping fruit for a casual dessert or a snack. Or spoon curd into tart shells for an
instant fancy dessert—instead of one large tart, serve three mini tarts with
different curd flavors, topped with a different type of berry. Use curd to garnish
bundt cakes and pound cake. Serve it with plain cookies. And of course, spread
it on toast, muffins and scones. We even use it to make ―dessert pasta‖ with
angel hair and slivered almonds. Keep a jar or two on hand and you‘ll always
have something interesting to serve to guests. Click here for more dessert
Cheese Butter Ramekins Instead of bringing butter to the table in a rectangular brick,
serve it in ramekins, like some fine restaurants do. In addition to plain butter, you
can easily make and serve different flavored butters (click here for our article)
with style. Use a knife to score decorative cross-hatches on the top; and if you‘re
of an artistic nature, add a few fresh herb leaves or capers to the center or
edges. Or, sprinkle the top of sweet butter with sea salt. Click here to find recipes
23 for flavored butters.
Desserts Fruit Soup One of our favorite desserts is also the simplest to make. Combine
mixed fruit juices (we use Knudsen‘s black cherry and raspberry) or melted
sorbet with yogurt, milk or cream. You can make the soup as rich or as dietetic
as you like, by using nonfat dairy products. If you want a thicker consistency,
reduce the juice in a saucepan with a cinnamon stick, some lemon and other
spices to taste. Then, add chopped seasonal fruits, whole berries, melon balls,
and/or scoops of ice cream or sorbet for a festive presentation. Click here for
24 more soup recipes.
Beverages Infini-Tea If you enjoy drinking fine tea, you may also want to try cooking with
it—as a spice, like bouquet garni, brewed in a marinade, as a coating for meat,
fish or poultry, to flavor cakes and shortbreads or to infuse foods with a smoky
quality (using Lapsang Souchong or Russian Caravan teas). You also can eat
tea directly by sprinkling green or white tea leaves directly on food. Try it on
yogurt for crunch and flavor (add a few raisins). Ditto on salads, vegetables and
baked potatoes. Think of dried tea as you would dried herbs, and be creative.
You may enjoy inventing Dragon Well popcorn or topping sweet dishes like fruit
compotes with a few Earl Grey tea leaves. Click here to read more about fine
Desserts Pretzel Power Pretzel Power Today is National Pretzel Day. Make special
celebration pretzels by spreading a bag of any variety on a lightly buttered cookie
sheet. Drizzle melted chocolate (mixed with peanut butter if you like) over the
top. You can add honey roasted peanuts, too. Let cool in the fridge until the
chocolate is set, and presto, snacko! Crumble them over ice cream for a sweet,
salty and satisfying sundae. If you like jumbo, soft pretzels, click here for a recipe
26 to bake them at home.
27 Caviar Caviar Endive Flowers Looking for a standout hors d‘oeuvre for your next
soirée, or something special for Mother‘s Day or Father‘s Day? Caviar endive
―flowers‖ are so tasty, so pretty, so Spring-like, so easy-to- make and low-calorie!
Line up endive leaves on a platter. Place a tablespoon of crème fraîche about 1"
from the bottom of each leaf, and top it with colored caviars, alternating the color
on each leaf—red salmon caviar, green wasabi tobiko, golden whitefish caviar,
etc. (If you only want to purchase one type of caviar, it works, too.) If you can‘t
find crème fraîche (there‘s a recipe in our Cheese Section) and don‘t have time
to make it, you can substitute sour cream. Click here here for our article on
Cheese Cheese Tour The next time you serve a cheese course, why not take a ―tour‖ of
different cheeses from the same region—for example, Spanish cheeses, Italian
cheeses or Swiss cheeses? From Switzerland, to take just one, beyond the well-
known hard cheeses like Emmental and Gruyère, there are semi-hard cheeses
like Appenzeller, Tête de Moine and Tilsiter. Vacherin Mont d‘Or is semisoft and
Gala is a soft cheese. While these are the most commonly-found in the U.S.,
your cheese shop may carry others. Show your guests that ―Swiss cheese‖
means more than hard cheeses with ―eyes‖ (the holes). Click here to learn more
28 about cheese.
Desserts Dessert Cups Turn everyday yogurt into a spectacular dessert with ice cream
waffle cups. Top with fresh berries or diced fruit and a mint sprig. Waffle cups
are fairly low in calories, so they taste as good as they look without the guilt
factor. Instead of buying individual containers of yogurt, you can buy economical
quarts of lowfat plain or vanilla yogurt and blend in your own fresh fruit and
sweetener. Click here to learn more about yogurt and our favorite artisan
Condiments aviar Burrito One of our favorite fusion foods (and a very popular appetizer) is
a luxurious smoked salmon and salmon caviar burrito with sour cream or crème
fraîche. Combine smoked salmon, sour cream and salmon caviar in an 8" tortilla
(we like Tumaro‘s). Roll, snip a few chives on the plate and add a few beads of
caviar atop the burrito for decor. It looks especially smashing with a red or green
flour tortilla, but a white tortilla is just fine. You can also slice the burrito for finger
food. Pair with Champagne. You can serve this elegant first course anytime, but
it‘s especially appropriate for Cinco de Mayo. Click here to read more about
By Date Url
KH 1 http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/garnish-glamour.asp
KH 3 http://www.thenibble.com/zine/archives/tsar-nicoulai-whitefish-caviars.asp
Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo
Tip By Date
Festive Flavored Butter The strawberry butter and herb butter you enjoy at fine KH
restaurants is so easy to make at home. Just soften a stick of butter and blend in
your favorite puréed fruits, chopped herbs, spices, ground nuts, grated cheeses,
even sauces. Flavored butters can be used on breads, potatoes, rice and
steamed vegetables; to cook eggs, fish and poultry; to add touches of flavor
wherever you like. Click here for our article with recipes for 40 flavored butters
(garlic butter is only the beginning). May is National Strawberry Month, so make
plenty of strawberry butter for your pancakes, biscuits, scones and toast.
Crab-Tarragon Deviled Eggs May is Egg Month, so scramble, boil, poach and KH
fry away! Here‘s a dressed-up variation on deviled eggs for an hors d‘oeuvres
platter or first course. Cut 8 jumbo hard-boiled eggs lengthwise. Carefully
remove yolks and mash 4 of them with: 3 tablespoons quality mayonnaise, 2
teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, 1/8 teaspoon
cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon minced shallot and 1-1/2 tablespoons snipped
fresh tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 8 ounces of
crabmeat. Fill each egg white with a mound of the mixture and garnish with a
tarragon leaf. Set eggs on a mesclun bed. Crumble the remaining yolks and
sprinkle them on the plate to decorate, along with snipped tarragon leaves and
diced lemon rind. Click here for more hors d‘oeuvre ideas. 2
Cinco de Mayo Make plans to celebrate May 5th or Cinco de Mayo, a holiday KH
that began in Mexico but now is celebrated by more people in the U.S. Even if
you‘re not Mexican-American, you can join the festivities: Put on some Mexican
tunes and enjoy some great food. If you can‘t go out or cook Mexican food at
home, you can serve guacamole as a starter and Mexican ice cream flavors for
dessert. We love Palapa Azul Mexican ice creams, sorbets and frozen fruit bars.
If you can‘t find them at Whole Foods and elsewhere, try Häagen-Dazs‘s yummy
Mayan Chocolate ice Cream, or shop for interesting Mexican flavors at Latin
American supermarkets. Click here here for some salsas worth celebrating
Salsa Too Hot? If you‘ve bought or made a salsa that‘s too hot for you to enjoy, KH
calm it down. We have two techniques: The first is to add half a can or more of
diced tomatoes—it dilutes the spiciness. The second is to make a creamy salsa
by adding nonfat plain yogurt. The yogurt brings some coolness without adding
many calories to this very low-cal condiment and sauce. Click here for some of
our favorite yogurts. 4
Cilantro Yogurt Dip & Dressing Happy Cinco de Mayo! Make a low-cal dip KH
with a popular Mexican herb, cilantro. Mix 1/4 cup finely-minced fresh cilantro
with 2 cups of plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt (our favorite is FAGE Total—it‘s as
thick and creamy as sour cream with the calories of yogurt). Add a 1/2 teaspoon
of salt and blend in a food processor. Serve with crudités, as a salad dressing or
as a condiment with beef, fish, lamb, pork or poultry. Click here for more
condiment ideas. 5
Splurge For Mom Think of Mom‘s favorite food or something she loves to cook KH 6
with or serve. Then head to your local specialty food store or to the fine food
section of a department store and buy Mom a ―splurge gift‖: luxury tea, artisan
olive oil, great balsamic vinegar, set of gourmet mustards, brandy-marinated
cherries, e.g. Experienced sales staff can guide you: price and packaging are
not indicative of what tastes the best. In general, pre-made gift baskets don‘t
contain the very best products either, so don‘t hesitate to ask. Click here for
more gift ideas.
National Salsa Month May is National Salsa Month, honoring America‘s most KH
popular condiment—more salsa is sold than ketchup! Salsa is the Spanish word
for a sauce of finely chopped vegetables, that dates back to the ancient Aztecs.
Red salsas are tomato-based, green salsas are tomatillo based, and there are
dozens of different types. Fruit salsas, such as cherry, mango, peach and
pineapple, are a modern invention, enjoyable with grilled meats and breakfast
eggs. Click here to see the many different types of salsa, in our Salsa Glossary.
Ample Asparagus May falls right in the middle of asparagus season (April to
June), so head to the store and stock up on this versatile vegetable. Although
asparagus can be featured in everything from soups to tarts, one of the easiest
preparations is also the most delicious. Begin by bending the stalks gently until
they break: that‘s where the tough part should be trimmed. The leafy top part
cooks faster, which is why asparagus should be steamed sanding up. You don‘t
need to buy an asparagus steamer: Cut the bottom off a coffee can and set it in
a pot with a few inches of water, using a small pot lid to hold in the steam. You
can add lemon wedges to the water to infuse the asparagus with a gentle citrus
flavor. Steam the asparagus for three to six minutes until tender, then serve with
coarse sea salt and lemon. This delicious vegetable needs no butter, but you
can add a dab. Click here for more vegetable recipes. 8
Infinite Yogurt Plain yogurt is one of the most versatile foods in the kitchen: It KH
can be used for dips, soups, salad dressings, sauces, dessert toppings, and
anywhere you‘d use sour cream or crème fraîche. At dinner alone, one quart of
plain yogurt, variously flavored, can take you from an appetizer veggie dip (with
spinach, curry, dried soup mix or the seasoning of your choice) to a salad
dressing base. You can use it as a soup base (yogurt-cucumber soup, e.g.) or to
garnish a baked potato (add snipped chives or parsley). As a finale, make a
sweetened topping for fruit salad or pound cake, a yogurt trifle, or your own
frozen yogurt from scratch. Yogurt can do a dozen things and never taste the
same way twice. Triple-strained Greek-style yogurt is the most sour cream-like,
without the added fat and calories (try the 0% or 2%). Click here to read more
about yogurt and ways to use it.
“Healthy” Sundae Make a quick, crowd-pleasing dessert with ice cream or KH
frozen yogurt atop a toaster waffle, adding some berries or diced fruits. Try a
multigrain or oat waffle: The texture of the fiber and the more substantive flavor
add a lot. We enjoyed Van‘s all-natural Hearty Oats Waffles. In the Berry Boost
flavor, the bits of blueberry and raspberry in the waffle were an added bonus.
Use fruit purée or a dab of maple syrup as a sauce—the infused maple syrups
from MoosewoodHollow.com (a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week) are divine!
Click here for more ice cream and dessert ideas.
Rescuing Sour Fruit If you buy some berries or other fruits that turn out to be CB
too tart or bland, drizzle a small amount of sweetened condensed milk on them.
It brings out the natural fruit flavors and adds a slightly creamy taste. Drizzle the
condensed milk right before serving, to avoid soggy fruit. If you want to make the
fruit sweeter without calories, sprinkle it very lightly with Equal or Splenda. The
fruit will appear to be ―naturally‖ sweet, rather than sugary. Serving the fruit
chilled also helps by heightening the natural fruit acids. Click here to see other
ideas in our Dessert Section.
Eat The Flowers You weathered the April showers, now enjoy the May flowers! ML
Edible flowers add beauty and excitement to salads, desserts,
breakfasts—almost any meal. Sprinkle them on salads, decorate an ordinary
cake, cupcake or pudding or just add a blossom or two to garnish a breakfast,
lunch or dinner plate. You can purchase edible flowers at specialty food stores
and farmers markets, or order them online. Violets, roses, pansies and about
two dozen other blossoms are edible. But not all flowers can be eaten, and no
flower flowers sprayed with pesticide should be consumed. Click here to read
our article. 12
Sorrel Salad It‘s National Salad Month, but that doesn‘t mean you should break KH
out the iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing. Experiment! A sorrel salad, with its
tangy, lemony flavor notes, will make everyone take notice. This lovely, leafy
herb, a member of the buckwheat family, is in season in the late spring and early
summer. RECIPE: Take 1 bunch mesclun greens, 3/4 cup chopped sorrel, 3/4
cup thinly-sliced radishes, 1 pound roasted beets and 1/4 pound fresh goat
cheese. Toss ingredients except the goat cheese, which you can serve on top of
top of the salad as a slice or crumbled. Dress with a lemon-garlic vinaigrette: Mix
1/2 cup lemon juice and 2 cloves garlic in a blender and add 1/2 cup olive oil in a
slow, steady stream until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also
sauté sorrel as a side dish for meat and fish. Click here for more salad recipes.
Don‟t Age Your Beer May 14th-20th is American Beer Week, so take some KH
time to celebrate. Unlike wine, beer is meant to be drunk fresh, within 90 days of
bottling. Over time, beer oxidizes; while some bottles are perfectly drinkable a
year later, others are ―skunky‖ or flat and watery. Some major brewers print ―best
by‖ dates on their labels, but foreign and craft brewers generally don‘t. What can
you do? Don‘t ―stock up‖: Buy only what you need each month. Purchase fine
beers at stores that have good turnover. E-mail your congressional reps that all
beers should be dated, just like other foods. And if there‘s a code on the bottle,
try to crack it—often the company‘s website will provide a translation key. Click
here for more information about beer.
America‟s Favorite Cookie Tomorrow is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. KH
We‘re celebrating by making a batch of delicious Macadamia Chocolate Chunk
Cookies, a recipe from San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti. Click here
for the recipe. 15
Personalized Pops Celebrate the warm weather by investing in something
you‘ll use all season long: an ice pop mold. Exercise your creativity and impress
guests with your own frozen treats. Homemade lemonade and fresh raspberries
make a great combination, as does strawberry yogurt with semi-sweet chocolate
chips. Try your hand at multi-layered pops by filling the mold only partially, letting
the liquid freeze, then re-opening the molds and filling them with a second (or
even third) liquid. For example, try alternating bands of spicy ginger ale and fresh
lime aid. The endless array of flavor combinations will keep you experimenting
throughout the summer. And the brine from pickle bottles makes delicious,
refreshing ice pops. Freeze it, don‘t toss it! Click here to read more about ice
cream and sorbet. 16
Fiddlehead Ferns For eight weeks each spring, deep green fiddlehead ferns KH
appear in the shady forests of the Appalachians, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northern
California and the Pacific Northwest. If you see them in the produce section, try
them! They‘re called fiddlehead ferns because they resemble the scrolled tops of
stringed instruments, providing great visual interest as well as color on the plate.
Their taste is nutty and firm: Sauté them in butter or olive oil with a dash of sea
salt and a little lemon juice. Pair them with morels, mixed seasonal mushrooms
or asparagus; add them to a risotto. They‘re as versatile as any spring vegetable.
We love them with lamb chops. Have fun fiddling! Click here to see more special
Queso Magnifico Most people don‘t think of Spain as a leading cheese KH
producer, but it produces knockout cheeses. One of our favorite blues of all time
is Cabrales, and we‘ve developed a passion for the oozing, bloomy-rinded Nevat
goat cheese. Goat cheese lovers should also look for Cabra Romero, Pata de
Cabra, Ossera Serrat Gros and Torta de la Merendera. The great Spanish
sheep‘s milk cheeses include Grazalema and Manchego—try Manchego both
young and aged. From cow‘s milk there are Arzua Ulloa, La Peral (a rare and
powerful blue) and Los Beyos. To complement Spanish cheeses, pick up
Marcona almonds, a Matiz fig torta and some membrillo (quince paste). If you
can‘t find them locally, all of these cheeses and condiments are available online
from MurraysCheese.com. Click here to read more about great cheese.
Beer For Dessert? Absolutely! Stouts are beers made with malts that have KH
been roasted like coffee beans. They have notes of coffee and chocolate, and
they‘re perfect matches for chocolate desserts (but not Guinness—the world‘s
most famous stout is a lighter style, not robust enough for dessert). You can
match stouts to other desserts too—whatever would pair with their coffee
overtones. Fruit beers from Belgium, called lambics, have real fruit added,
generally cherries or raspberries (kriek is a cherry lambic). The beer picks up the
flavor, aroma and sweetness of the fruit. They‘re perfect with chocolate, ice
cream and cheesecake. Next time you‘re looking for a dessert wine, try a
dessert beer! Click here for more information about beer.
Tea Party Treat When was the last time you had afternoon tea? Most of us have KH
forgotten about the ritual that used to be part of everyday genteel life. Even if you
prefer coffee to tea, this elegant social and gustatory delight should be
experienced more often—if only as a reason to get out the good china, see your
friends and enjoy those delightful little sandwiches and pastries. Revive the art of
the tea party: Be the kick-off host and get your circle of friends to take turns
hosting tea on the last Sunday of the month (or whenever). It‘s much easier than
preparing brunch, and since tea begins at 4 p.m., you don‘t have to wake up
early. Click here for a good book to start you on your way (the book can be
passed from host to host). 20
Brunch Kabobs Why should Bloody Marys catch the brass ring (or celery stick) KH
as the most popular brunch cocktail? Add fun to juice and sweet brunch drinks
with fruit kabobs. Skewer berries, grapes and cut fruits into 1" pieces, spear
them onto wooden skewers and set them across the cocktail glass. You can
create different kabob personalities for every occasion—e.g., the ―Tropical‖ with
mango, papaya and pineapple; the ―Exotic‖ with star fruit and kiwi; the
―Independence Day‖ with raspberries, apple and blueberries. The skewers can
also be served as a garnish with eggs and pancakes, or with dessert. Click here
for more fruit ideas. 21
Designer Ice Make your ice cubes a focus of attention by freezing fruit, herbs or
small vegetables in the cubes. For sweet drinks, add a raspberry, small
strawberry, red grape, mint leaf or lemon peel curl to each section of the ice
cube tray. For savory drinks like Bloody Marys, use a grape tomato, small basil
leaves or a snip of rosemary. For ice water, quartered cucumbers (leave the peel
for color), mint and lemon curls are pretty. Click here for our favorite ice cube
trays. KH 22
Goat or Sheep Tasting The next time you‘re deciding on what cheeses to KH
serve, select the entire group from either goat‘s or sheep‘s milk. From fresh
chèvre to blue to Parmesan- and Cheddar-like goat cheeses, for example, you
and your guests will experience goat (or sheep) cheeses in a new light. People
who may only be familiar with fresh chèvre logs and aged pyramids will be
surprised and delighted by what the milk produces in other styles of cheese.
Include quark, a yogurt-like cheese, for a complete picture. As an added bonus
for those who have lactose problems, goat‘s and sheep‘s milk cheeses are
easier to digest than cow‘s milk cheeses. Click here to learn more about fine
Salsa Savior Keep jars of different flavored salsas on hand—not just for chips
and crudités. They‘ll come in handy when dieting guests or those with serious
food restrictions request plain broiled chicken or fish. Salsas, which have very
few calories and no fat or sugar (except for fruit salsas), are an easy way to
spruce up any meat (try them on burgers instead of ketchup) or other protein like
seafood, eggs and tofu and on vegetables and salads. Mix them into nonfat
yogurt for low-cal dips, spreads and toppings. Click here for some of our favorite
salsas—and be sure to check out the Salsa Glossary to discover the dozens of
different types of salsa. KH 24
Put a Cork In It Today is National Wine Day. If you haven‘t finished a bottle of
wine, it will keep for 2 to 3 days if you replace the cork and put it in the
refrigerator. But it will keep better if you use a vacuum pump that removes the
air, or a nitrogen sprays that puts a blanket of gas on top of the wine. You can
even freeze wine! The higher the alcohol and sugar content, the longer your wine
will keep: Ports, Sauternes, and SGN wines can still taste wonderful months
later. Click here to learn more about wine.
Gourmet Nachos Try a variation of your regular recipe by using blue and red KH
tortilla chips and adding some blue cheese or goat cheese, along with white
Cheddar or other good white melting cheese. The Red, White and Blue theme is
especially festive for holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day. Click
here to read about our favorite tortilla chips. 26
Better Burgers Getting ready for summer grilling? Thickly fold a paper towel, KH
dampen it with salad oil and wipe the hot grill grates to create a nonstick surface.
Grill a 6-ounce burger for 6 to 8 minutes total for rare to medium-rare. Add
cheese during the final 2 minutes. Leave a separate area on the grill to toast
buns; otherwise you‘ll need to clean the grill before toasting. Toast buns on the
cut side only, for just 1 minute. Click here for more burger tips, guaranteed to
create the perfect burger. 27
Mustard Mix-In For additional flavor and zest—and virtually no added calories KH
(unless you use honey mustard)—add a tablespoon of your favorite mustard the
next time you make potato salad. First mix it into the mayonnaise, then combine
the mustard/mayo with the other ingredients. Have you never been bowled over
by an amazing mustard? Click here for our review of Anton Kozlik‘s Canadian
Mustards. There are more than thirty delectable flavors. We‘re crazy about them.
Bring some as gifts to hosts of barbecues and picnics.
Mango Salsa Peach salsa is always a top-seller, but we think mango salsa is KH
even more exciting. It‘s so sophisticated on top of fish, chicken, with pork or
tortilla chips—and it‘s easy to make a delicious version at home. Combine diced
tomatoes, mango, red onion, chopped mint and lime juice. Add a splash of cider,
red wine vinegar or flavored vinegar. Click here for a mango chili vinegar from
Gennari‘s that‘s also splendid for fruit salads, green salads, bread dippers and
anyplace else you need vinegar and extra flavor.
Make Popeye Proud Here‘s a variation on a spinach salad that‘s especially KH
spring-like: Take a bag (10 ounces) of baby spinach, 2 cups of sugar snap peas
or pea pods and 2 cups of sliced strawberries. Cut half a medium red onion or a
sweet Vidalia onion into thin slices. Add a 1/2 cup of sliced unsalted almonds,
raw or toasted. Toss with a honey vinaigrette: 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2
tablespoons of vinegar (balsamic, wine or cider) and 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon
of honey, depending on how sweet you like it. If you have lavender honey, it‘s a
home run! Click here for more salad ideas.
Designer Cupcakes You and your guests are the designers when you present KH
a ―decorate your own cupcake‖ dessert event. Adults and kids alike will have a
super time designing—then eating—their cupcakes. Go to a good candy store
and buy mini nonpareils, mini malt balls and other treats. You can include fresh
fruit like raspberries and strawberries and top-quality chocolate chips like those
from Guittard (which also are available in white, mint, butterscotch and
cappuccino chips at Chocosphere.com). The key is quality of ingredients: Buy
the best and your dessert will be the best. Click here for another exciting way to
decorate cupcakes. 31
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/vegetables/index.asp Lindsay Nelson
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/desserts/index.asp Lindsay Nelson
Cinco de Mayo
Tip By Date
Gourmet Iced Tea June is Iced Tea Month. It takes just minutes to brew at KH
home the quality gourmet iced teas you enjoy at restaurants and cafés. The
same tea leaves that brew hot tea—green, blackberry, herbal—make delicious
iced teas too (and using them up faster keeps your tea supply fresher). Or, buy
tea in popular iced tea flavors flavors like raspberry and peach. Enjoy
experimenting to see what you like best ―on the rocks,‖ with and without lemon or
lime wedges. These delicious cold beverages are also a treat for your guests.
And, they‘re calorie-free! Click here for a review of our favorite bottled teas.
Mozzarella Napoleon The most impressive courses can also be the simplest to KH
make, a point that this easy dish proves. Starting with roasted or grilled red and
orange bell peppers, alternate slices of fresh salted mozzarella, prosciutto and
peppers to make a layered ―napoleon.‖ Top with whole basil leaves. You can
make a short stack or, for a heartier course, make a tall stack and skewer with a
long toothpick. Sprinkle the plate with shredded basil and extra virgin olive oil or
a balsamic vinaigrette. In the summer, use delicious local tomatoes instead of
peppers; when tomatoes aren‘t in season, decorate the plate with a few yellow
and orange grape tomatoes. Click here for salad ideas for first courses.
Quail Egg Salad June 3rd is National Egg Day, and an opportunity to expand KH
our horizons. Quail eggs are small and beautifully speckled in blue and brown.
They make a spectacular first course or salad course, hard-boiled and nestled at
the front of a lightly-dressed mesclun salad (set 3 eggs in a lettuce leaf ―cup‖).
Check locally for quail eggs or search for them online. Boil the eggs for 5
minutes with a teaspoon of vinegar, and serve them warm or at room
temperature in the shell. Provide ramekins of salt water so diners can
simultaneously rinse and salt their eggs after they‘ve peeled them. Snip some
fresh herbs (chives, parsley, dill) into the salad, and you have an exciting dish
that takes very little time to make. Click here for more salad ideas.
Tart Art Turn plain tarts into ravishing beauties with creative garnishing. Some KH
chocolate curls or rolls, a mint sprig, a few raspberries or a slice of star fruit,
combined with a dab of crème fraîche or whipped cream, can turn something
simple into something special. Click here to read our article on Garnish Glamour
for dozens of ideas for both sweet and savory foods. 4
Ultimate Tuna Sandwich Not your mother‘s tuna sandwich, this one can be KH
served at a formal dinner or a fancy lunch. Start with thin rounds of toasted
brioche topped with garlic mayonnaise (add some minced ginger, too) or
rémoulade sauce. Add a one-inch thick square of seared tuna. Top the tuna with
papaya relish and a sprig of cilantro (dice and mix together 1/2 cup fresh papaya,
1/3 cup each cucumber and plum tomatoes, 2 tablespoons each red onion and
cilantro leaves and juice from 1/2 lime). Make brioche and tuna portion sizes
larger or smaller for a first or main course. Click here for more sandwich and
bread ideas. 5
Frozen Fruit Frenzy Stock up on bags of your favorite frozen fruits. You can CB
use them for cold soups, with stewed meats, in marinades and much more. To
make fruit popsicles, combine semi-melted frozen fruit and your favorite fruit
juice, spritzer or juice cocktail in a blender. Press ―chop‖ a few times until the
mixture is smooth but still has visible chunks of fruit. Transfer into popsicle
molds and freeze. Click here for more dessert ideas.
Foodie Gift Registry If you already have your household necessities but there‘s KH
a special occasion looming— your 10th anniversary or the big 4-0, perhaps—you
may be expecting some gifts. Why not set up a Foodie Gift Registry for the
special treats you wouldn‘t buy for yourself? For example, the best tradizionale
balsamic vinegar can cost $125 for just 3.5 ounces. Truffles and collector wines
also make lovely additions. At a smaller level, luxurious pots of jam, infused oils
and vinegars and a large collection of gourmet tea can now be yours. Talk with
the manager at your specialty food store about setting up a ―registry‖ list. For
general food gift ideas, click here.
Fresh-Baked Pie You may not have the time or technique to bake an amazing KH
pie, but the folks at Frog Hollow Farm have plenty of both. They grow some of
the most delicious fruit in America, just steps away from their kitchen. We had
the best peach pie with a beautiful braided crust almost too pretty to eat—but we
devoured every crumb. In fact, we usually prefer crumbles, because many pie
crusts aren‘t worth the calories. Frog Hollow Farms proves that not only is great
pie crust alive and well, but it arrives frozen to bake up hot and fresh. Need a
great gift idea? Visit FrogHollow.com and send a pie! Click here to visit our Pies
& Pastry Section.
Dressed to Thrill It‘s amazing what a change of vinegar can do for your daily KH
salad. Like wearing different ties or scarves with the same suit, great vinegars
will dress up your salads in dozens of different ways. Possibly the best vinegars
in the world are from Vienna‘s Brauerei Gegenbauer. Produced with the care
given to fine wines, they will redefine what you think of as ―vinegar.‖ Gegenbauer
makes an extensive line, so you can dress up your salad in different finery
almost every day of the month. More accessible are Boyajian‘s infused vinegars,
available at many specialty stores. Start with half a dozen small bottles and see
how much more you enjoy your greens. Click here to read our review.
Spice Things Up Today is Herbs & Spices Day, so be sure to season liberally!
Become a spice mixologist and create your own custom blends. Rosemary and
thyme work well together, as do dill and tarragon; but these are just two of
countless starting points. Experimenting is key—you may have to adjust
proportions and combinations numerous times before you strike gold. Another
tip: Make sure your spices are fresh. They aren‘t meant to last forever. Click
here to read spice care advice from McCormick. 10
Trade Ketchup for Chutney It‘s a no-brainer to substitute high-quality KH
specialty ketchups for the corn-syrup-laden ones from the supermarket. But an
even better idea is to top your burger or sandwich with tomato chutney. A savory,
not sweet, chutney has deep tomato intensity along with spiciness to add real
zing to that burger. Coriander chutney is another super condiment for burgers. In
fact, divide your burger and enjoy half and half! Click here to read more about
gourmet condiments—including our review of more than 42 gourmet ketchups.
Virtual Cocktails When you‘d like to take someone out for a drink to celebrate, KH
but you have scheduling or geography challenges, send him or her the fixings to
enjoy one in your absence. Several companies make professional-quality mixes
for classic drinks (Bloody Marys, Dirty Martinis) as well as the latest cocktails
(Appletinis, Chocolate Martinis, Mango Margaritas, Mojitos, and dozens of other
choices). Most include festive glass rimmers as well. You may not be there, but
your friend will enjoy the celebration! Click here for reviews of our favorite
Chilling Thought Whether you drink spring water, single malt scotch or KH
premium vodka, using an ice cube made of tap water drops chlorine and fluorine
into your deluxe beverage. The solution: Fill your ice cube tray with good bottled
water. The cost is negligible compared to the cost of the rest of the contents of
the glass. ISI North America makes nifty color-coded ice cube trays with a built-
in lid that stack easily, so you can tell tell your ―designer ice‖ from the everyday
ice you‘d drop into your cola. Click here for our review.
Top Tequilas Top Tequilas Looking for a Father‘s Day gift? How about a fine KH
tequila? The best are made from 100% agave juice (the other kind, ―mixtos‖ are
mixed with cane sugar). They are distilled into (1) blancos (―whites‖), which are
not aged, although some are colored gold with caramel to make them look aged,
and are known as joven abocado or oro, (2) reposados (―rested‖), which are
aged for two to nine months and (3) añejos (―olds‖), which are aged from 18
months for up to 4 (some up to 5) years. Margaritas are made with mixtos or
blancos; reposados and añejos are enjoyed straight for their oaky, complex
qualities. Many añejos are aged in old cognac or bourbon casks, and pick up
some flavors from the barrels. Someone who enjoys a fine scotch or bourbon
would appreciate an añejo. Herradura Seleccion Suprema Muy Añejo Tequila is
considered one of the world‘s great spirits. El Tesoro de Don Felipe Paradiso
Añejo Tequila is also top-ranked. They can cost upwards of $125. In the $50
range, and almost as good, look for Espolon Añejo Tequila and El Diamante del
Cielo Añejo Tequila. Serve fine tequila in a snifter—no salt, no lime. By the way,
the spiky agave plant, from which tequila is made, is not a cactus—it‘s a member 14
Lobster Cobb Today is Lobster Day, so buy a few crustaceans and get
creative! How about dressing one of America's favorite salads with lobster
instead of chicken? Here's a Lobster Cobb Salad recipe from Wolfgang Puck: 2
heads romaine lettuce cut into thin strips, 2 heads watercress, 1 lb. diced cooked
lobster meat, 1/2 lb. cooked chopped bacon, 1/2 lb. cut green beans, 2 medium
diced tomatoes, 6 hard-boiled eggs (separated into yolks and whites and then
chopped), 2 diced avocados and 1/4 lb. crumbled Roquefort cheese. Assemble
the ingredients in stripes across a dinner plate and serve with a balsamic
vinaigrette on the side. Here‘s Wolfgang‘s recipe:1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2
tbsp. sherry vinegar, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. chopped shallots, 1/2 cup + 2
tbsp extra virgin olive oil, salt ajnd pepper to taste. Enjoy! Click here for more
gourmet seafood. 15
Mix Dad A Martini While an endless parade of fancy cocktails occupies bar
menus these days, Dad may wish to follow Agent 007 and have a martini,
―shaken, not stirred.‖ Bond set himself apart because the traditional way to
create a martini is to stir all of the ingredients in a mixing glass, not shake them
in a cocktail shaker. James Bond‘s martini was not the classic; like many people
today, he preferred a vodka martini to the classic gin. For a classic martini, mix 2-
1/2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce dry vermouth. For a dry martini, reduce or eliminate
the vermouth. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well
and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a green olive or a lemon twist.
For James Bond‘s preferred vodka martini, substitute vodka for the gin. Click
here for more variations on the martini.
Burger Bar Whether for barbecues or indoor parties, set up a ―burger bar,‖ like
a salad bar. Let guests customize their own from a vast and exciting display,
including different cheeses, sliced tomatoes, bacon, barbecue sauces, chili,
gourmet ketchups, mayos and mustards, caramelized mushrooms and onions,
sliced jalapeños, horseradish sauce, raw Vidalia onions, gherkins and other
pickles, relishes, sea salt and a pepper grinder. Doesn‘t that sound a whole lot
more exciting than the usual burgers, for not very much work on your part? The
―bar‖ concept works works for frankfurters, too—don‘t forget the sauerkraut!
Click here to read about gourmet condiments.
Cheese & Veggies Fruits are frequently served with cheese, but vegetables are KH
also a traditional accompaniment. Italians serve goat cheeses with radishes and
pecorino romano with fava beans. Tomatoes in season are always delicious.
Marinated vegetables—always part of a good antipasto—are a refreshing
complement. Experiment to see what pairings you like best. Click here to learn
more about fine cheese. 18
Berry Good Berry sauces—blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and KH
strawberry—are multitaskers that can top (1) pancakes, waffles and blintzes; (2)
breads (toast, biscuits, muffins, scones); (3) fruit salads, (4) yogurt and more.
For desserts, drizzle them over ice cream and serve them warm or at room
temperature over cobblers, pastries, tarts and pound cake. But there‘s more:
The tartness of the berry sauces makes a wonderful complement to baked Brie
and as a glaze for roasted chicken, pork and grilled fish. All that from one little
bottle! Click here for more favorite sweet sauces and toppings.
Whozu? The Yuzu Daiquiri is poised to be a new favorite. Buy yuzu juice (an kh
Asian citrus) at your specialty food store and make this recipe, courtesy of Riingo
restaurant in New York City: Take 4 sprigs of mint, 4 raspberries, 2 tablespoons
sugar, a dash of simple syrup, 1/2 ounce yuzu juice and 2.5 ounces of Bacardi
rum. In a mixing glass, muddle the mint, raspberries, sugar, simple syrup and
yuzu juice. Add ice and rum and shake vigorously. Strain and serve up in a
martini glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Click here for more cocktail recipes.
Best Soda Pop Boylan‘s old-fashioned sodas are simply a revelation of flavor. KH
We don‘t drink mass-marketed soda—we find it to be uninteresting sugar-water
and spend our calories elsewhere. But these sodas are special, made with all-
natural ingredients—see what cola really tastes like! The calorie-conscious and
the sugar-restricted will be able to enjoy the sugar-free flavors, which taste so
good you can‘t tell the difference. They‘re kosher, too. Click here to discover
more great soft drinks. 21
Best Onion Tip Today is Onion Rings Day (yes, there‘s an official holiday for KH
every food). If you‘re ready to start cutting onions today or any day, try this tip:
Put onions in the freezer for 15 minutes before you chop them. This helps
reduce the spray of culprit onion oils that vaporize and sting your eyes when you
cut into the onion. Click here to read more about veggies. 22
Ice Cream Toppings The next time you have caramel or toffee popcorn, pop KH
some on top of vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Spiced nuts, salted peanuts and
honey peanuts are also yummy toppings. You can go full-throttle and add
caramel, chocolate or marshmallow sauce to make a festive sundae. Click here
to see our favorite dessert sauces. 23
Red Pepper Sour Cream Enjoy your baked potato with something special. KH
Take one cup of roasted red peppers (pimentos), well drained; combine in a food
processor with one cup of sour cream (or substitute reduced-fat sour cream or
fat-free yogurt). Blend until smooth and add 1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Top
with minced green onions. Also try this delicious topping on nachos, as a dip and
a general garnish. Click here for more garnish ideas.
Waffle Wonderland It‘s International Waffle Day! Make your favorite waffles for KH
breakfast, lunch or dessert (with ice cream, chocolate or caramel sauce, or
simply a touch of powdered sugar or jam). You won‘t believe how many different
types of waffles there are. Click here to see them in our Pancake & Waffle
“Champagne” Sorbet Create an easy but elegant dessert by filling your KH
champagne glasses (or wine goblets) with 3 or 4 different flavors and colors of
sorbet. Even supermarket brands taste good, but if you can, buy specialty
brands in flavors like apple mint or pear cognac. It‘s all the more special for your
guests. For something really special, get the real champagne and wine sorbets
from Wine Cellar Sorbets—use the search box at the top of the page to find our
review. Serve with a fancy cookie and garnish with something interesting—a
blackberry or a sprig of rosemary. Tip: As you‘re scooping sorbet for six or eight
people, things can start to melt down. You can scoop balls in advance and keep
them on covered plates or in containers in the freezer; then assemble quickly in
the goblets and serve. Don‘t pre-assemble and freeze the glasses because
moisture will condense on the glass when you remove them to room
temperature. Click here for more sorbet and ice cream ideas.
Dressing The Cheeses It‘s National Cheese Day, so invite a few friends over KH
for a cheese-tasting party. Many people dress up the cheese tray with fruits and
nuts—but why not dress up the cheeses themselves? Soft and semisoft
cheeses like chèvres and blues lend themselves to toppings. Press finely- or
coarsely-chopped nuts into the tops—pistachios and almonds go well with most
cheeses. Or try chopped sun-dried tomatoes moistened with just enough olive oil
to hold their shape, a dry pesto or sweet or savory chutneys. You don‘t need to
dress up every cheese on the platter, but one or two will add pizzazz to your total
presentation. Click here to learn more about cheese condiments.
Balsamic & Fruit Balsamic vinegar—plain or flavored, like strawberry balsamic KH
or fig balsamic vinegar—makes a great dressing for fruit salad. Some fruit
salads are splendid by themselves, but if you feel yours needs a little pick-me-
up, pick it up with a splash of balsamic vinegar. You can splash a few drops of
fruit balsamic on vanilla ice cream, too, as well as on fresh strawberries. Click
here to learn more about fine oil and vinegar. 28
Diet Fruit Soup Make a delicious, low-calorie fruit soup by puréeing 2 pounds KH
of cantaloupe (two melons—reserve some melon balls for garnish). Then add
3/4 cup of herbal fruit tea and 1 to 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Garnish with
chopped mint and melon balls or berries. Enjoy it at any meal as a first course or
dessert, or anytime as a snack. For protein, add fat-free plain yogurt, which you
can sweeten with a no-cal sweetener. If the cantaloupe isn‘t sweet enough, add
a small amount of sweetener to the soup, too. This is one of our favorite diet
treats! Click here for other low-calorie foods.
Key Lime Pies & Tarts Key lime pie is one of the most popular desserts, and is KH
also one of the easiest to make. For individual portions at a party or barbecue,
try tarts or mini tarts instead of a more cumbersome-to-serve pie. While using
fresh key limes is ideal (their season is June through August), you can use Nellie
and Joe‘s Key West Lime Juice—available in most supermarkets and specialty
stores. Mix 1/2 cup juice with 3 egg yolks and a can of sweetened condensed
milk and bake in a 9" graham cracker crust for 15 minutes at 350°F (12 minutes
for tarts). If you don‘t want any crust, bake the filling in custard dishes. Let stand
10 minutes, then refrigerate; serve with whipped cream. The custard will be
yellowish, looking more like lemon pie. Key lime pie was first made in Key West,
Florida before there were cattle on the island. Most of the available milk was
canned, hence the canned milk recipe. The key lime is also called the Mexican
lime; our common everyday green lime is the Persian lime. Click here for easy
pie and tart ideas.
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/desserts/index.asp Caitlin Barrett
www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/salts/spice-freshness-checklist.asp Lindsay Nelson
Tip By Date
Unusual Ice Creams Today is Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day. Our wine editor KH
is in demand for his beet, lavender and saffron ice creams! If you don‘t have time
to make something special, look in your specialty foods store. One of our
favorites, Reed‘s Ginger Ice Cream (available at Whole Foods Markets, Trader
Joe‘s and elsewhere), comes in Original, Green Tea Ginger and Chocolate
Ginger—each exquisite. One scoop of each—a dance of ginger ice
creams—would make a memorable dessert. You can use them to top regular or
chocolate pound cake, and apple pie, too. To read about some really creative ice
cream flavors, click here. 1
Scream For Ice Cream July is National Ice Cream Month and THE NIBBLE has LN
done all the hard work to track down the very best. Perhaps you‘d like a scoop of
Molasses Tipsycake from LaLoo‘s, or a cone of Strawberries, Sour Cream, and
Brown Sugar from Dr. Bob‘s. The Sweet Corn from Palapa Azul is another
winner. Click here to visit our Desserts section and learn about these
scrumptious flavors and many more. 2
Red, White & Blue Cocktail With Stolichnaya‘s Blueberi vodka, a whole world KH
of red, white and blue cocktails opens. You can find recipes at
StoliBlueberiVodka.com, and start the fireworks with this Stoli Blue-Tini: 1-1/2
parts Stoli Blueberi and 1-1/2 parts Stoli Vanil. Stir with ice and strain into a
martini glass. Garnish with blueberries...and for July 4th, some red raspberries,
too. Click here for more cocktail ideas. 3
July 4th Pound Cake It couldn‘t be easier to make this holiday dessert. Cover KH
rectangular slices of pound cake with whipped cream. Line up blueberries and
raspberries (or strawberries diced to the size of blueberries) in ―stripes‖ like the
American flag. If the fruit isn‘t as sweet as you‘d like, toss it in a bit of sugar first
(which is what the restaurants do—we use Equal or Splenda to save the
calories). If you have room in the freezer, you can make the ice cream cake
variation of this dessert, substituting vanilla ice cream for the whipped cream.
Click here for more dessert recipes. 4
Gourmet Ketchup When you grill, chances are you serve regular ketchup with KH
burgers. That‘s O.K., but why not offer guests a choice of ketchups? You can
make curry ketchup by adding curry powder or pungent ketchup by mixing in
prepared horseradish. Yes, that‘s also known as ―cocktail sauce,‖ but it‘s not just
for seafood. Look in the spice cabinet, and use your favorite spices to spice up
your ketchup. Click here for more interesting condiments.
Ice Cream Mix-Ins A people-pleasing dessert that takes no trouble is an ice KH
cream mix-in ―bar.‖ Buy basic flavors and set out bowls of mix-ins: M&Ms,
chopped peppermint patties and peanut butter cups, chocolate and butterscotch
morsels, mini malt balls, cookie dough, walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans,
bananas, coconut. Chocolate and caramel sauces can be overkill with mix-ins,
but a little whipped cream is a perfect topper. Set the ice cream containers in a
punch bowl or other large container full of ice with a scooper for each flavor, and
let your guests help themselves to ice cream, mix-ins and fun. Click here to read
about our favorite dessert toppings.
Iced Coffee Cubes Don‘t throw out pots of cold coffee and tea. If you don‘t KH
have room to refrigerate it as an iced beverage, turn it into ice cubes. Then, you
can cool off your next glass of iced tea or coffee without diluting the liquid. We
keep the different cubes in color-coded trays from iSi Orka (and do the same
with Bloody Mary mix and spring water cubes). Click here here for iced coffee
tips and recipes. 7
Gourmet S‟Mores Step over to the wild side and make your s‘mores with exotic
chocolate bars, flavored with chili, ginger, curry, coconut, even wasabi. Check
out the flavored chocolate bars from Vosges Chocolate and Chocolove. Use
great marshmallows too: We love the ones from Recchiuti, or the Tiny Trapeze
brand from Whole Foods. Click here for ideas on having a memorable s‘mores
Snazzy Spinach Salad These basic ingredients combine magically: spinach, KH
Granny Smith apples, walnuts (toast them if you have time) and goat cheese or
blue cheese. Fig balsamic vinegar and olive oil are a perfect dressing; serve a
whole fig or two as a garnish. To make it even more of a meal, add Serrano ham
or prosciutto and some fine artisan bread. Popeye never ate so well! Click here
to read about more of our favorite veggies, plus salad recipes.
Cheese Ice Cream If you love cheese, try making savory cheese ice creams. KH
They don‘t contain sugar, but they‘re ice cream heaven! We‘re addicted to
superstar chef Ferran Adria‘s Parmesan ice cream sandwiches (our editor
makes it every year for her birthday), but we also love Roquefort ice cream with
poached pears and cheddar ice cream with apple tarts. Click here for recipes.
Tortellini Kabobs Tortellini and cheese kabobs are a different twist on a party KH
favorite—and go great with wine and beer. Cook, cool and marinate cheese
and/or spinach tortellini in a vinaigrette or bottled Italian dressing. Drain and
alternate on skewers with cubes of ham, salami, cheese (small mozzarella balls
or perlini are perfect) and chunks of bell peppers...and watch them disappear.
You can serve the skewers on a tray or stick them in a crusty round loaf of
bread, a brick of cheese, a halved winter squash or a pumpkin in season. Click
here for more hors d‘oeuvres ideas. 11
Lavender Iced Tea There‘s nothing more heavenly than a glass of lavender KH
iced tea. To 2-3 quarts of brewed tea, add a 1/2 cup of culinary lavender. When
the tea cools, strain out the lavender. If you have one or two large spice infusion
balls, use them hold the lavender buds for easier clean-up. Otherwise, it‘s easy
to pour the tea through a conventional strainer. If you‘re making a single cup of
hot tea, add a half teaspoon of buds to the cup—lavender tea is delicious hot as
well. To purchase culinary lavender, click here.
Adult-Rated When you‘re entertaining friends, you look for the best cheeses, KH
breads, desserts…so why serve average cola and ginger ale? Bottles of ―adult
sodas‖ from boutique manufacturers like Fizzy Lizzy, GuS, Izze and Steaz may
cost more than mass-marketed fizz, but they‘re many times more exciting. Made
with all-natural flavors and other pure ingredients, they use far less sugar (read:
lower calories and carbs). Treat your friends and yourself to these gourmet
sodas—so delish, they‘re paired with courses at some of America‘s finest
restaurants! Click here to learn more.
Ham & [Goat] Instead of Swiss or Cheddar on your ham or turkey sandwich, KH
spread an ounce of fresh goat cheese (chèvre). Add your lettuce and tomato,
and for an exciting extra dimension, some chopped fresh basil. Fresh goat
cheese is so moist, you may not need mustard or mayonnaise; but look to mayo
rather than mustard so as not to overpower the flavors of delicate chè vre. Our
favorite: Lemonaise or Lemonaise Light from The Ojai Cook—you‘ll never go
back to regular mayonnaise again! If you don‘t like fresh chèvre, get an aged
goat cheese—there are goat cheddars, goat blues, glorious goats in almost
every style of cheese, just waiting to be discovered. Click here to learn more
about goat cheese. 14
Salad Event Think of making your salad course a daily ―special.‖ Instead of a KH
simple, dressed green salad, look for something special to add to it each day.
Add strips of chicken or beef from a prior day‘s roast, marinated grilled
vegetables, gherkins or pickled vegetables, a slice of duck prosciutto, chopped
dried fruit, bean sprouts or daikon marinated in a sesame vinaigrette, water
chestnuts or bean sprouts, cubes of cheese. You don‘t need to look far for
inspiration: It‘s probably already in your refrigerator and cabinets. Keep your
family guessing as to what the next day‘s ―salad surprise‖ will be. Click here for
interesting salad recipes. 15
Cupcake Toppers Insert ―character cookies‖ into the tops of cupcakes to KH
create an innovative and memorable dessert or snack. Animal cookies, people
cookies, flowers and fanciful shapes turn cupcakes into edible sculptures that
delight children and adults alike. You also can use the cookies on top of cakes or
around the sides of a cake to create an entire story. Click here to see other ideas
in our article, ―Things To Do With Cookies.‖
Collect More Tips All food lovers talk about restaurants when they get together, KH
but what about food tips? The next time you‘re with one friend or ten, ask for
their best food tips. What are their favorite specialty foods? Their sure-fire
cocktail recipes? Have they discovered a new bakery, cheese shop, wine store,
gourmet emporium? What‘s their favorite easy-to-make hors d‘oeuvre or
dessert? Keep this list of questions in your PDA or date book, and keep adding
new ―tips‖ every time you meet someone for coffee or cocktails. Click here to
submit your own Tip Of The Day. 17
Bargain Caviar It's Caviar Day, but don't worry—you can still celebrate without KH
taking out a second mortgage. Pressed caviar is the ripest beluga, osetra and
sevruga eggs, which were broken or otherwise damaged in handling. The eggs
are pressed together until they become spread-like, and are sold for substantially
less money. Because three pounds of eggs are pressed into one pound of
pressed caviar, it is much oilier, saltier and more pungent than whole caviar
eggs, but many people find it a good substitute for a pricier caviar fix. A bit of
creme fraiche can diffuse the saltiness. Try some on toasted brioche, and see if
you agree. Pressed caviar also works well in canapés (we like it with slices of
foie gras terrine). Read more about caviar and affordable serving suggestions in
our Caviar Section. 18
Sculpted Fruit. Fruits don‘t have to be exotic to seem like a special dessert. KH
While a dish of star fruit, mango and papaya may be a treat, so is an
architectural sculpture of everyday fruits. A glass dish of melon balls rimmed with
vertical quarters of strawberries and dotted with a few berries is a treat for the
eyes and the palate. Wine goblets are also a great showcase for fruit salads.
Click here to see a beautiful sculpted fruit basket. 19
Summer Sorbet If you eat a lot of ice cream, try moving to lighter sorbets for KH
the summer. The pure fruit flavors are more in keeping with the spirit of the
summer, especially if you buy artisan flavors bursting with seasonal fresh fruit.
No milk or cream means that sorbet is fat free and cholesterol free (although
some products are milk sherbets, made with a bit of dairy—read the label), and
has lower calories than ice cream. And, the pretty colors look jewel-like when
served in a martini glass or wine goblet. Click here to read about Wine Cellar
Sorbets, a truly different spin on sorbet.
Kids‟ Kabobs Make cheese and fruit kabobs for the kids by using thin pretzel KH
sticks instead of toothpicks or skewers. Use an ice pick to pierce a hole in
cheese cubes and fruit (melon balls, grapes, berries) and alternate cheese and
fruit on the pretzel stick. Show older kids how to assemble them: It makes a fun
project as well as a tempting alternative to less nutritious snacks. Serve the
kabobs with a fat-free yogurt dip. You can mix chopped pretzels into FAGE Total
yogurt (a Greek yogurt that‘s less tangy) and sesame seeds for a dip that goes
with both the cheese and the sweet fruit. If the grown-ups want to enjoy the
kabobs too, it‘s O.K. with us. Click here to see our favorite kids‘ foods.
Fresh-Squeezed So many things taste better with a squeeze of fresh lemon or KH
lime…but you don‘t always have a fresh one at hand. Plan ahead by freezing
fresh wedges. When you need a squeeze, microwave a wedge for 20 seconds.
The juice will taste as fresh as the day you put the citrus in the freezer. Squeeze
the juice on salads or seafood, in your margarita, anywhere. While the frozen
wedge doesn‘t look as pretty as fresh, the juice tastes great. Freezing wedges is
also a trick for saving unused portions of lemons and limes that might otherwise
deteriorate in the refrigerator. To read about what we do with fruit purées, click
Table Art From 18th-century to ultra-modern, sugar bowls, creamers, salt-and- KH
pepper shakers and other accessories add personality to any table. Why not
collect them and use a different one each month? They don‘t have to match your
dishes, they don‘t take up much storage space, and you can find them at yard
sales. In fact, look for old-fashioned salt cellars for the newly-popular artisan
salts. (Click here to see the many different kinds of artisan salt.) Let the kids
make the monthly selection, and give them the job of switching over the sugar,
salt and pepper on the first day of the month.
Better Burgers Most cookbooks advise using ground chuck for burgers, but KH
many top chefs use brisket. It has a better proportion of fat and better flavored-
meat. It‘s a tough cut, so have it ground twice. When shaping patties, do it
lightly—squeezing them into a solid mound makes them tougher and less juicy.
Click here to read more burger tips. 24
Better Cubes Some purists make ice cubes from the actual mineral water they
consume, so as not to compromise their mineral water, Scotch or other fine
beverage. Others make ―better‖ ice cubes from gallon-size spring water. If you
use generic tap water, you can improve the flavor just by letting the tray sit on the
counter for five minutes prior to freezing. This way, the scent of the chlorine gas
used by municipalities to purify the water supply can evaporate. Better yet, put a
filter on your tap! (Click here to see our favorite ice cube trays—we won‘t use
any others.) sally (anon reader)25
Yogurt Marinade Yogurt is not just a healthy food, a tasty food, a diet food and KH
a multitasking dip and partner for fruit and granola. It‘s also a great marinade for
meat. In addition to imparting flavor, it has excellent tenderizing properties. Add
garlic, herbs, macerated onion and any other favorite seasonings to your yogurt
marinade. Your ―secret blend‖ may become as sought-after as your special
barbeque sauce! Click here to read more about yogurt.
Rubbed The Right Way If you‘re invited to a barbecue, bring the hosts a gift KH
sampler of different- flavored rubs. Even if they like to blend their own herbs and
spices, they‘re certain to discover something new...and invite you back soon!
Click here to see a continuation of this tip, which features one of our favorite gift
Rosemary Shrimp Add beauty and flavor to grilled shrimp with this simple trick: KH 28
Use fresh rosemary as your skewer. Look for large, woody rosemary bunches
and soak the sprigs in water for 15 minutes prior to grilling, to prevent burning.
Toss jumbo shrimp with olive oil; skewer 3 onto each sprig. Salt and pepper to
taste. You can use a grilling pan or the outdoor grill, on medium hot. Grill until the
shrimp are lightly curled, pink and opaque (approximately 2 to 3 minutes per
side). Add a squeeze of fresh lime and serve. They‘re so delicious, no sauce or
condiment is required. But if you love condiments, click here to check out our
Give A Cheer Ginger ale lovers who want more spice in their life should get to
know ginger beer, a more intensely-flavored, spicier brew. Historically fermented,
today‘s ginger beers, like Reed‘s Original Ginger Brew, are alcohol-free,
sophisticated soft drinks that can be enjoyed straight from the bottle, or as
cocktail mixers. Try a Moscow Mule, with 2 ounces of vodka, 1 tablespoon of
lime juice and a bottle of ginger beer. Add the vodka and lime juice to a highball
glass filled with ice. Fill with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge. Click
here for more cocktail ideas. KH 29
Spicing Up Store-Bought If you buy salads—tuna, chicken, lobster, cole slaw, KH
potato, etc.—no matter how tasty, there‘s generally room for improvement. Add
diced onion for flavor and celery for crunch...lemon or lime zest or a squeeze of
lemon or lime for spark...fresh tarragon, chives, basil or parsley for fresh herbal
flavor...dried celery seed or toasted sesame seed for nuance...or a tablespoon of
mustard, wasabi, vinegar or capers for spice or tang. Select two or three
seasonings to layer flavor. Click here to read more about seasonings and spices.
Goat Cheese “Caprese” Mozzarella, tomato and basil, the classic ―Caprese KH
salad‖ (named after the Italian island of Capri) is a popular first course. For a
change, substitute goat cheese. Its creaminess pairs beautifully with the sweet
acidity of tomatoes. For a beautiful dish, slice circles from a log of goat cheese
and plate with sliced heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil leaves; drizzle with fine
olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Variations include substituting the sliced tomatoes
for a ―salad‖ of red and yellow tomato wedges (or sliced cherry tomatoes) in a
red wine vinaigrette. Or, you can stack the cheese, basil and sliced tomatoes in
a ―napoleon.‖ When tomatoes aren‘t in season, substitute roasted red peppers.
Click here to read more about goat cheese.
Tip By Date
Brownie Brunch August is Brownies at Brunch Month, a designation that may
sound unusual, but who can complain? If you can‘t bake up a fresh batch,
consider the Cinnamon Blonde Sweeties from Sugardaddy‘s Sumptuous
Sweeties. They‘re as moist and dense as your favorite coffee cake, and have
streusel topping. Click here for our review. KH 1
Watermelon Margarita For the perfect summer margarita, purée 2 cups (16
ounces) of seeded watermelon in a blender and add 6 ounces of tequila, 3
ounces of triple sec and the juice of 1/2 lime. Dip the rim of the glass in salt. Add
ice, pour in the drink and serve. For an instant watermelon cocktail, simply pour
Stirrings‘ watermelon martini cocktail mixer into a glass with vodka. Click here to
read more about cocktail mixers. KH 2
Ice Cream Sandwiches One of our favorite desserts is a simple ice cream KH
sandwich, made by layering ice cream between two great cookies. On the rustic
side are chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies with vanilla or chocolate ice
cream, or chocolate cookies with mint ice cream. But the gourmet side of us
loves Tiny Trapeze graham crackers with vanilla or ginger ice cream (Reed‘s
Ginger Ice Cream is wicked—click here to read our review). The molasses clove
cookies from Dancing Deer are another favorite. Don‘t hesitate to be creative:
Try snickerdoodle cookies with rum raisin ice cream, lemon cookies with berry
ice cream, etc. Give your guests two or three small ice cram sandwiches with
different flavors rather than one jumbo sandwich. The best thing is, with a bag of
cookies perpetually on hand and ice cream in the freezer, you can turn out this
simple yet exciting treat into dessert or snacks at the drop of a hat. There‘s no
need to roll the edges in chips or nuts: top quality cookies and ice cream don‘t
need further enhancement.
Mustard Day Today is National Mustard Day. Grab that jar of Grey Poupon and KH
spice up everything on the menu. Mix coarse-ground mustard into potato salad
and deviled eggs. Stir spicy mustard into baked beans and coleslaw. Add honey
mustard to yogurt for a dip for crudités and pretzels. Click here to read the
history of mustard. 4
Super Shellfish Today is National Oyster Day, so feast on a few. Oysters are KH
chock full of protein and are low in calories. Oysters on the half shell make a
great first course with Champagne or Chablis. Buy the largest, freshest oysters
you can find and shuck them right before serving. Serve them with fresh lemon
wedges. Very fresh oysters need nothing more, but you can make mignonette
sauce (there‘s a recipe in our Oyster Glossary) or cocktail sauce by mixing
ketchup with prepared grated horseradish like Gold‘s (find it in the refrigerator
case). Click here to read about the different types of oysters, in our Oyster
Just Peachy August is National Peach Month, so if you normally enjoy a KH
Mimosa (Champagne and orange juice), try a Bellini instead—it‘s white peach
purée and Prosecco, a sparkling Italian wine. Many specialty stores sell white
peach purée or you can click here to order it online. If you can‘t get your hands
on the peach purée quickly enough, you can make it: Boil 3/4 pound ripe
peaches (preferably white) with 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 2
teaspoons sugar. The white peaches are delicious now!
A Little Bit Nutty Add 4 ounces of slivered almonds to tuna, egg and chicken KH
salads for a crunchy gourmet twist. Use fresh herbs: Snip basil, chives, cilantro,
dill or parsley into your salad for more great flavor with no added calories.
Another secret—use a great mayonnaise like our Top Pick Of The Week from
The Ojai Cook. Click here to read the review. Their delicious Lemonaise Light
has half the calories, but you can use half mayonnaise, half fat-free yogurt to cut
down on the calories, too. 7
Ice Cream Cupcakes Instead of making an ice cream cake, try ice cream KH
cupcakes—they‘re even more fun! Use a cake mix and muffin pans to get a
larger cupcake bottom. After baking and cooling, put the cupcakes in the freezer
for 15 minutes to firm, before topping with ice cream. If your quart of ice cream is
hard, soften in the microwave for 20 seconds and stir with a large spoon to get a
malleable consistency. Put a scoop atop each cupcake and work with a spatula
to achieve a frosting effect. (It‘s good to have two people working here if you
need to make a lot.) Top with a strawberry, raspberry, chocolate wafer, Junior
Mint, mini PB cup or other tasty garnish. Freeze or serve immediately. Click here
to read about our favorite gourmet cake mixes.
Rice Pudding Perfection August 9th is National Rice Pudding Day, and LN
nobody does the creamy, comfort food quite like Rice to Riches. It‘s the only item
on the menu in their shop in New York City‘s SoHo, and they‘ll ship overnight to
anywhere in the U.S. The ever-changing menu features more than a dozen
flavors daily. You might find ―Fluent in French Toast,‖ ―Honey Graham for Mr.
Smith‖ and ―Take Me to Tiramisu.‖ Click here for our review.
Fiery Ketchup A decade ago, ketchup, with its sweet flavor profile, lost ground KH
to spicy salsa as America‘s favorite condiment. If you love the tomato flavor of
ketchup but also like the spice, you can have the best of both worlds with spicy
ketchup. You can buy it (Tabasco makes one, and there are a number of
specialty brands). But if you don‘t have room on the refrigerator door, it‘s easy to
make it by adding hot pepper sauce to your regular ketchup. A gourmet
approach is to add fresh or canned chopped chiles (like jalapeños)—they
provide a nice texture as well as a more complex flavor. You can snip in some
fresh herbs for color. We serve spicy ketchup in ramekins or add it as a plate
garnish. Whichever recipe you use, it‘s great on a burger or fries! Click here for
our review of Tabasco hot pepper sauces. Click here for our review.
Watermelon Martini It‘s watermelon season, so get out that cocktail shaker for KH
some watermelon drinks! Combine one part vodka (or citrus vodka) to 1-1/2
parts puréed watermelon juice. Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a
chilled cocktail glass, garnished with a sprig of mint. For a quicker cocktail, we
keep diced watermelon cubes in the freezer, then shake with vodka. You can
also try a variation with 1 part vodka and 1/2 part Dekuyper Pucker Watermelon
Sweet and Sour Schnapps—handy during the months when fresh watermelon
isn‘t available (when it is, add crushed fresh fruit to the drink). Click here for
more cocktail ideas. 11
Snappy Side Salads Never underestimate the impact of a side salad—a tasty KH
and low-calorie addition to your meal. Garnish fish and seafood dishes with
small, colorful salads for added color and texture. Buy a mesclun mix with red
oak-leaf lettuce and other colors and textures; or for pungent flavor, mix arugula,
mustard greens, radish sprouts and radicchio. Dress the salads lightly before
plating. Click here for more salad recipes. 12
Summer Salad For a special but easy summer salad, add grapefruit or orange KH
sections and avocado and red onion slices to your favorite greens. Toss with a
light vinaigrette. We love to use one of O Olive Oil‘s citrus olive oils (click here
for our review) with red wine vinegar. 13
Horseradish Mayonnaise A classic with roast beef, this mayo pairs well with KH
seafood, burgers, turkey, cheese, veggies and is a zippy general sandwich
spread and dip. Plus, it‘s so easy to make—including a diet version with lowfat
mayo. Stir together 1 cup of mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish
(more if you like) and 1/4 cup minced chives or scallions. Add a teaspoon of
lemon juice or some grated lemon zest, and you have a winner. For a ready-
made zesty mayo, click here for our review of the Top Pick Of The Week
mayonnaises from The Ojai Cook 14
Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail It‘s Lemon Meringue Pie Day. You can KH
celebrate with pie, or try a delicious Lemon Meringue Pie Cocktail, also known as
a Lemon Meringue Martini. Our recipe was created by Dylan Prime steakhouse
in New York City. With a graham cracker rim on the glass and a top layer of
cream, it looks just like a lemon meringue pie in a glass (and tastes like lemon
meringue with a kick). Click here for the recipe.
Elegant Summer Lemonade It‘s National Lemonade Day, so whip up a pitcher. KH
The ratio is 1 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1 cup of water and 2/3 cup of
sugar for a tart lemonade—you can add more sugar to taste. However, we prefer
not to sweeten the lemonade since quite a few people prefer calorie-free
sweeteners or even honey. We provide a bowl of superfine sugar (it dissolves 16
quickly) plus Equal or Splenda and some fine artisan honey. If you‘re using a fruit KH
Easy Fruit Ice Cream No ice cream machine is needed here, just very ripe
and a quart of vanilla ice cream (No Sugar Added works fine, too). Lightly purée
(don‘t liquefy) 3 cups of peaches, berries, stone fruit or bananas. Scoop the ice
cream into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat it with the paddle attachment
for 2 minutes, until soft. Add the fruit purée and blend for 1 minute. Transfer the
mixture back into the original ice cream container (plus another container for the
excess), and return the ice cream to the freezer for 2 hours or more. It will taste
just like long-churn, homemade ice cream! Click here for more ice cream
Cheese Kabobs Cheese kabobs are a festive way to serve different cheeses at CB
parties, and are a fun family snack (and save the calories and carbs of bread
and crackers). Buy slabs of different-color cheeses that can be cut into 1-inch
cubes. Put 3 different cubes on a skewer or jumbo toothpick, alternating with a
fruit (melon ball, grape or berry) or veggie (grape tomato, broccoli floret or
zucchini cube). Create a variety of different skewers and arrange them in an
inverted half watermelon or winter squash on a tray, or in a large round loaf of
crusty bread. You can also arrange the skewers in a shallow vase or an ikebana
dish. Click here for more information about cheese.
Drink Your Dessert Some of the most refreshing desserts are the simplest. Put KH
fruit salad in a wine goblet and cover it with a fizzy Moscato d‘Asti, a sweet
sparkling wine from Italy (our favorite is La Spinetta from Rivetti, with an
amazingly low alcohol level of around 6%). The sparkling wine elevates the fruit
salad to elegance, and is the perfect ending to a light dinner or a heavy meal.
After guests finish the fruit, they can drink the remaining wine from the goblet: It‘s
a dessert and a dessert wine in one (though have an extra bottle on hand for
guests who want more of this intensely fruity, exuberant wine). If you don‘t drink
alcohol, you can use Fizzy Lizzy Fuji Apple sparkling juice. Click here for our
review of Fizzy Lizzy.
Passion Cocktails Balmy August nights call for refreshing cocktails, and this KH 20
passionfruit cocktail is just the ticket. For two cocktails, you‘ll need one cup of
chilled passion fruit purée or nectar (if you can‘t find the nectar at your regular
market, try a natural food or specialty food store) and a bottle of chilled sparkling
wine or Champagne. Immediately before serving, fill two champagne flutes half
full with the passionfruit and add a few dashes of bitters. Then add the
Champagne. Garnish with a strawberry (slice a notch halfway up from the tip and
perch it on the rim of the flute) or some raspberries on a cocktail pick or stirrer.
Click here for more cocktail recipes.
Enlist The Kids Involve the kids in meal planning. Let them pick out dishes that KH 21
appeal to them, and develop their interest in cooking and entertaining. Younger
children can be offered simple choices—should we have A or B, and which side
dishes along with it, e.g. Older children can browse through cookbooks—click
here to check out Rachel Ray‘s 30-Minute Meals For Kids. Discuss dishes at the
table: how they like this sauce or pairing compared with others, what foods they
might be interested in trying and cooking techniques. The next step is to identify
regular dishes they may enjoy taking charge of—salads, perhaps, and prepping
other ingredients. Check to see if there is a kids‘ cooking class in your town.
Involving kids in food preparation and teaching basic cooking skills teaches the
joy of cooking, lets the kids help out the family in an important way, impresses
their friends and ensures that when your children leave home, they know how to
do more than order take-out.
Perfect Peaches August 22nd is Eat a Peach Day, so here are some tips on LN 22
how to choose the perfect one. First, take a deep whiff—the peach should smell
sweet and perfumey. Then, give it a once-over. The skin should be covered with
an even, downy fuzz and shouldn't be bruised. Finally, handle with care! Ripe
peaches are delicate. Even if they feel hard, place them on top of all the other
groceries in the bag to protect them from blemishes. Click here to read the
history of the peach: It comes from China!
Key Lime Delights One of the most popular desserts, Key lime pie, is also one KH 23
of the easiest to make. Fresh Key limes are ideal, but if not, Key lime juice is
available in most supermarkets and specialty stores. Click here for recipes for
Key lime pie, tarts, Key lime meringue pie or crustless pots de crème (which you
can serve in martini glasses for extra panache). Key lime season is June through
August, so make pie while the sun shines!
Double Fruit Dessert It‘s easy to create a special dessert in minutes. Sauté CB
seasonal fruit (now, stone fruit like peaches, plums and nectarines; in the fall,
apples, pears and quince) in unsalted butter until soft; then place in a shallow
bowl. In a small saucepan or microwave, heat a cup of your favorite jam, splash
with a tablespoon of rum and pour over the fruit. It‘s easy enough to make every
day, and special enough for company. The better the jam, the better the
sauce—less expensive jams are mostly sugar. Click here for some of our
favorite jams and preserves. 24
Caramelized Onions One of our favorite homemade condiments is KH
caramelized onions. They make an ordinary sandwich a gourmet treat; they‘re a
plate garnish for everything from eggs and luncheon salads to dinner meats. And
they‘re so easy to make and keep until you need them! Cut two large onions into
1/2-inch-thick slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons of
unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add
the onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally until well caramelized, 15 to 20
minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container. People will love
them on their Labor Day burgers. Click here for other special ideas for Labor Day.
Hot Dog Bar Make your Labor Day barbecue something special with a gourmet KH
hot dog bar. Instead of the same old franks, look for different franks, plus
gourmet sausage or bratwurst, in your supermarket or specialty food store. We
did a quick tour and found organic beef, bison, salmon, lamb, chicken with wild
rice, chicken with feta and sundried tomato, chicken with apples, Thai and Indian
chicken sausages, smoked andouille sausage, and lots more. Put more
excitement in those buns—and buy whole grain or organic buns, along with
some great mustards. Your guests will be thrilled. Click here for our favorite
organic franks. 26
Great On The Grill If you have an outdoor grill, you already know that there‘s CB
nothing better than a thick tuna or swordfish steak grilled rare over the coals. But
they‘re even better with a great relish or sauce. Check out the selection at your
specialty foods store. We love Made In Napa Valley‘s Roasted Corn with Red
Bell Pepper Condiment. For meats, try the Roasted Portobella Tapenade. Click
here for more of our favorite condiments. 27
Lamb Burgers If you love lamb and don‘t serve lamb chops often enough (too KH 28
expensive and/or not enough to eat), you can find the same wonderful lamb
flavor in rare-cooked ground lamb. We make lambburgers, which are delicious
and can be seasoned in so many ways. We serve them plain with lettuce, tomato
and onions, just like a regular burger. But we make them Greek-style, with
chopped Kalamata olives, crumbled feta and a bit of dill mixed in. Or Indian-
style, with curry, turmeric and ginger (plus optional onions, raisins and almonds);
or Asian-style with scallions, a drop of sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, with
hoisin sauce and pickled ginger on the side instead of pickles and ketchup. Click
here for tips on making good burgers.
Grilling Tips Here‘s a quick checklist: (1) Clean the grill properly. Always KH
scrape the grill and rub it with oil to ensure that food won‘t stick. (2) Pat the food
dry before placing it on the grill, and don‘t use a lot of oil. Food with excess
moisture can cause the flames to smoke, and result in a burned taste. Smoke
may look picturesque when food is cooking, but it‘s not a good thing. (3)
Similarly, rid meats of as much marinade as possible before placing them on the
grill. (4) Don‘t sprinkle fresh herbs on the cooking food—the fire will burn them.
Instead, add them as an attractive garnish before serving. You can place herbs
inside the cavity of a whole fish, or mix them into ground meat. Want to go make
barbecue? Click here for tips from a barbecue expert.
Watermelon Martini Celebrate the end of summer with this delightful cocktail. KH
Combine one part vodka (or citrus vodka) to 1-1/2 parts puréed watermelon.
Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with
a sprig of mint. You also can keep pitted watermelon cubes in the freezer to
purée or mix in a blender for a frozen-style drink. If you don‘t have watermelon,
try a variation with 1 part vodka and 1/2 part DeKuyper Pucker Watermelon
Schnapps—handy during the months when there‘s no fresh watermelon to be
had. When there is, you can use this recipe and add some crushed fresh
watermelon. Click here for more cocktail recipes.
http://www.thenibble.com/zine/archives/rice-to-riches.asp Lindsay Nelson
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cheese/cheese2/index.asp Caitlin Barrett
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/fruits/peach-facts.asp Lindsay Nelson
http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/jams/index.asp Caitlin Barrett
New York, New York
Brooklyn, New York
New York, NY
Truffle Honey September is honey month, and honey and truffles are a match
made in heaven. A jar of truffle-infused honey is a true pleasure: The earthy
truffle melts into the rich sweetness of the honey. Serve it with hunks of
Parmigiano-Reggiano for dessert, with fresh strawberries, or over vanilla, coffee
or strawberry ice cream (you can add chopped hazelnuts as a topper). For an
hors d‘oeuvre, drizzle it over crostini that have been spread with a triple-crème
cheese, or pair it with salty foods like prosciutto. You can also use truffle honey
to caramelize chicken or duck skin. Any honey can be infused with truffles, but
generally a less assertive honey is used, so the flavor of the truffles shines
through. Click here to learn more about pairing honey with food.
Sautéed Mushrooms It‘s Mushroom Month! In addition to their normal place in KH
recipes, mushrooms can be served as a side dish, on sandwiches, with eggs at
breakfast, as a plate garnish with most dishes—even as a snack on a slice of
toast with a cup of tea. We sauté a large batch mixed mushrooms and keep
them in the refrigerator, microwaving them as needed. Depending on what we
find at the store, some times we‘ll thickly slice porcinis, portabellas, shiitakes,
criminis or cultivated white mushrooms. Other times we‘ll cook up whole
chanterelles or trumpets. Whatever captures your fancy, sauté 1 pound of
mushrooms in 1/4 cup of butter or olive oil with 2 sliced garlic cloves and 1
tablespoon fresh herbs—sage, rosemary or thyme. Cook over high heat until
browned, stirring frequently. Remove from the flame and stir in a 1/8 teaspoon of
fresh lemon juice. The mushrooms will keep up to a week or more and you can
use them anywhere, including in pastas or on toasted baguette as an hors
d‘oeuvre with some fresh chives or parsley. Click here to see an exciting variety
Dessert Pu Pu Platter In the same way the retro-sounding Pu Pu Platter made KH
it fun to get one of every starter at the Chinese restaurant (and sounded so much
more interesting than ―assorted appetizers‖), the same concept can be applied to
dessert. Instead of serving one big piece of cake or pie, provide 4 or 5 tastes of
assorted favorites: bites of lemon squares or brownies, mini tarts or flans,
mousse or a smoothie in a shot glass, a bite-size key lime cookie, a piece of
toffee. No one will pooh-pooh this dessert. Click here for dessert ideas.
Food Forum Did you know that vinegar is mentioned twice in the Bible? That KH
Cleopatra dissolved a pearl in it and drank it on a bet with Marc Antony? That the
Roman legions drank it every day to ward off illness? Turn the dinner table into a
food education forum: Use the resources of the Internet to research what you
eat. Make one night a week the ―Food Forum‖ and take turns presenting
interesting facts and anecdotes. It will enliven dinner conversation, and you‘ll
never look at a jar of mustard or an apple pie the same way again. You can find
a ton of food facts in every section of THE NIBBLE. Click here to choose your
favorite section and dig up some fun food facts.
McSundae A jigger of Scotch poured over plain vanilla ice cream may sound KH
unusual, but it creates a delicious dessert. And, it‘s a ―rabbit out of the hat‖
culinary magic trick when you need something quick and interesting for
company. Porter (the beer) also works well. If your guests are culinary
adventurers, give them one smaller dish of each, and let them decide their
preference. You can put the ice cream in rocks glasses or sherbet champagne
glasses to add to the fun, and serve them already ―sauced‖ or provide guests
with jiggers of the alcohol so they can pour their own. Click here for other ice
cream and dessert ideas.
Gourmet Sausage Snacks Buy flavored gourmet sausages (black bean, KH
sundried tomato, portobello, spinach feta and others) and cut them into bite-size
chunks. Serve them with toothpicks and flavored mustards or other dipping
sauces. The sliced sausages can be frozen and then microwaved in seconds for
guests or family snacks. Chicken sausages like Bilinski‘s (click here for our
review) are not only delicious, they‘re low-fat and low-calorie too.
Pet Gourmet In addition to delicious snacks for your human visitors, keep KH
special gourmet pet treats in the pantry for animal guests. Their human
companions will be extra-appreciative that you‘ve thought to provide more than
an ordinary Milk Bone for your animal visitor. Click here to see our favorite
Shapely Pasta When using decorative pastas (pumpkins, hearts, grape KH
clusters), you don‘t need to serve a full bowl of the special shapes. Use just 1/4
to 1/3 of the decorative shapes and fill the majority of the bowl with a standard
―short cut‖ like elbows, orechiette (ears) or conchiglie (small shells). The special
shapes will actually stand out better against the regular pasta than they do all by
themselves, especially if you mix and match pasta colors. And it‘s easier on the
budget—decorative pasta can costs five times or more what the bow ties do.
Click here to learn more about decorative pasta.
Caesar Twist Try new approaches with salad favorites. Instead of tearing up KH
romaine to toss a Caesar salad, for example, cut hearts of romaine in half and
give each person an elongated ―boat‖ of romaine. Shave large curls of parmesan
on top, and pour the Caesar dressing over it. Replace croutons with slices of
baguette garlic toast. And since not everyone loves anchovies as much as we
do, offer the more mild bottarga (dried cod roe), pancetta or prosciutto as an
alternative. It‘s a handsome presentation that tastes great. Click here to see a
photo in our article about Parmigiano-Reggiano and other Italian cheeses.
Juice Jolt If you grew up turning to orange juice for vitamin C, you should know KH
that tropical fruits like guava and mango have even more vitamin C per serving.
They also have more layers of flavor. Natural food markets and chains like
Whole Foods are one source to find tropical juices, but international
supermarkets catering to Latino, Indian, and Pac Rim customers have many
exciting products to discover. Don‘t overlook frozen juice concentrates—they‘re
generally just as delicious and less expensive (many bottled juices are
reconstituted from concentrate—read the labels). While not tropical (it comes
from Washington and Michigan), currant juice has four times the vitamin C of
O.J. and twice the antioxidants of blueberries. Tthe best juice you can drink is
Montmorency cherry juice, with the highest antioxidants of all fruits. Click here to
see some of our favorite juices.
Developing Younger Palates Even if your fledgling gourmets shirk from KH
stronger cheeses, you can begin ―cheese appreciation‖ at an early age by
teaching them quality in the cheeses they do like. Buy different brands of
cheddar, Swiss and/or cream cheese, e.g., and let the kids evaluate the
differences between regular supermarket brands, organic brands and artisanal
brands. After they taste, discuss flavors and form opinions, share the prices and
discuss price/value. If they prefer the most expensive cheese, e.g. do they prefer
it enough to pay 50 percent more? You can do this with other foods they
like—frankfurters and peanut butter, for example. It‘s never too early to develop
an analytical palate.
Dessert Picks We‘re talking about repurposing the cocktail picks used for KH
skewering olives, also known as fruit picks and party picks. We use them to
stack berries and grapes to garnish a dessert. Embellish cakes, ice cream,
puddings...you can stand a pick vertically in a cupcake or add one to the saucer
of a cup of tea or coffee. Picks are creative hostess gifts—just choose generic
designs so you won‘t be skewering your grapes with ceramic olives or
raspberries. Click here for some picks that are long enough for large berries and
cheese cubes and can be set across the rim of the largest martini glass.
Party Brie Brie is America‘s favorite gourmet cheese. You can make a beautiful KH
party Brie in less than five minutes. Take an uncut 17" wheel and top it with a
layer of pepper jelly or chutney. For a finished look, edge the rim with pecan or
grape halves. If you prefer something savory, use a bruschetta topping and finish
the rim with nuts or chopped scallions. You can add a short sprig of rosemary as
a ―plume‖ in the center or make an ―asterisk‖ design across the top with whole
chives. Or prepare a trio of 4.5" Bries with different toppings—try honey Dijon
mustard sprinkled with chopped almonds, pesto and pine nuts for an Italian
accent or a Pan-Asian-style with mango chutney, coconut, honey roasted
peanuts and chopped scallions. To warm the Brie before adding the topping,
place it on a microwave-safe dish and heat it on high for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.
Serve immediately with thin slices of baguette (lways serve Brie at room
temperature or warmer). Click here to learn the difference between Brie and
Eat The Decorations Use small cookie cutters to make tasty platter decorations KH
and plate garnishes from fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. Stars, crescents,
diamonds and flowers are good all-purpose shapes. Use leaves, snowflakes,
hearts and lobsters for seasonal accents. Make garnishes that contrast in color
with the foods and plates they‘ll decorate: RED beets, watermelon radishes and
watermelon; YELLOW pineapple and bell pepper; ORANGE persimmon,
cantaloupe and carrots; WHITE cucumber, daikon, radishes and zucchini;
GREEN kiwi, honeydew and star fruit. Choose firm items that can be sliced flat,
eaten raw and won‘t turn brown (like apples do). Select easy-to-slice, semi-firm
cheeses like Cheddar (yellow or white), Edam and Gouda (yellowy-white) or
provolone (white). You‘ll find more ideas browsing through your produce and
cheese departments. For more information on garnishing, click here.
Vinaigrette Tricks Adding 1/8 teaspoon of dry mustard (like Coleman‘s) to a KH
cup of vinaigrette helps the emulsion of oil and vinegar from breaking apart after
you have whisked it together. It also adds a small amount of flavor. Any fine
prepared mustard adds flavor to a vinaigrette, too, but you need dry mustard for
the emulsion trick. Another trick: Mix the vinaigrette in a blender. It won‘t
separate for a day! Click here to learn more about vinegar.
Magic Mushrooms In celebration of Mushroom Month, take a walk on the wild KH
side. While most people think of mushrooms as a winter dish, wild mushroom
season actually begins when winter ends: They pop up from March through
September. Thankfully, cultivated wild mushroom varieties like cinnamon cap,
enoki, hen of the woods, morel, oyster, porcini and shiitake are available year-
round. A mélange of mushrooms sautéed in butter with garlic and a pinch of
rosemary makes an elegant first course. It‘s a heavenly side to almost any grilled
or roasted meat, poultry or fish; and a delicious topping for linguini or angel hair
pasta. Pair mushroom dishes with earthy wines like Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. To
learn more about mushrooms, click here.
Online Gifting The next time you attend a party, you don‘t have to scramble to KH
purchase a hostess gift or birthday present. The following day, just shop online.
You save time traveling, parking, wrapping and toting; and the recipient gets
another gift a few days later, when the excitement of the party is over and all of
the guest-brought gifts have been put away and forgotten. Plus, the note
delivered with your gift doubles as a thank-you note. Click here to see some of
our favorite gifts.
Double Duty Dishes that seem to be of limited use can multitask to serve KH
several purposes. Soy sauce dishes, for example, can be used to serve lemon
slices, individual condiments like chutney and tartar sauce, mini sides or accents
like applesauce, cocktail nibbles and assortments of savory or sweet toppings
(chocolate chips, nuts, coconut). Place them on larger plates to contain runnier
foods. Or, use them to serve individual portions of after-dinner mints or other
treats with coffee. Click here to see some of our favorite condiments.
Sprouted Centerpiece Neglected garlic and onions that have sprouted greens CB
can be transformed into a table centerpiece or room accent when they are
placed in a rustic bowl, terra cotta dish or other pottery. Don‘t toss those over-the-
hill veggies just yet: Turn them into an accent piece! Click here for an even more
glamorous centerpiece, Edible Arrangements.
Bag The Baguette Do the French eat their cheese with a crusty baguette? KH
Some do, but true connoisseurs need only a knife and fork to enjoy their cheese.
If they do reach for bread, the choice might be a walnut or walnut-currant loaf.
The nut and fruit accents are better complements to the cheese than the bland
white flour baguette, and there‘s no crackly crust to interfere with the texture of
the cheese (or require a crumb-sweeper). Click here for some terrific cheese
Caviar Trio A quick and easy first course is a trio of miniature blinis or toast KH
points, each with a different color of caviar. Put a dab of crème fraîche on each
and top with a different caviar. Depending on your budget, try salmon, golden
whitefish and a flavored whitefish caviar; or treat your guests to American
sturgeon. Without the sturgeon caviar, it‘s a relatively inexpensive and high wow-
factor dish. The caviar blinis or toast points also make exciting or hors d‘oeuvres.
Click here to read about the wide world of caviar and fish roes.
Want more soy in your life? Steamed green edamame (the Japanese word for KH
green soybeans), once found only at Japanese restaurants, are now available
almost everywhere, in the frozen vegetable case. (Guess what—the restaurants
buy them frozen, too.) Steam them and eat them as a snack or an appetizer
Japanese-style, squeezing the beans from the pod into your mouth. Or, mix the
beans into rice and mashed potatoes, soups and salads. They make attractive
garnishes on hors d‘oeuvres and other dishes. We love that something this tasty
and fun is so good for us. Click here to see more tasty vegetables.
Wonderful White Chocolate Today is White Chocolate Day, but did you know KH
that is only since 2002 that the FDA classified this ivory delight as chocolate? It
used to be a ―confectionary coating,‖ because white chocolate contains no cocoa
solids (that‘s why it‘s white). The FDA finally agreed that the cocoa butter
qualified it as chocolate (the other components are milk, sweetener such as
sugar, and vanilla, plus a dab of lecithin as an emulsifier). And it‘s a delightful
beverage as well, thanks to Vosges Haut Chocolat‘s exquisite Bianca Cocoa, a
rich blend of white chocolate and lavender, with hints of lemon myrtle. It‘s
heavenly! Click here for our review.
Truffle Oil Treat Truffle oil is an inexpensive way to get the flavor of truffle into KH
foods. But when you buy a bottle, make it ―truffle season‖ in your house. The
aroma dissipates quickly after opening, so use up the oil within a few months.
Fortunately, it works almost everywhere—as a bread-dipper, in salads or on
meat, fish, eggs, chicken, corn and other vegetables. Don‘t cook with truffle
oil—the scent evaporates when the oil is heated. Instead, brush it onto the food
when it comes off the flame, or drizzle it into soups. Truffle oil‘s ―companion,‖
truffle vinegar, can be used to deglaze, but vinegar is not the ideal form in which
to enjoy a hint of the fungus. Click here to read all about truffles—and see some
Infused Honeys We can‘t end National Honey Month without talking about KH
infused honey. Whether you like subtle flavors like lavender and anise or hot
chile spice, there‘s a specialty honey for you. It‘s hard to find a food that honey
can‘t enhance. A tablespoon or two of infused honey can be the star of
marinades and glazes, salad dressings, cocktails, honey mustards and dessert
toppings. Click here to read about three of our favorite flavors, from Palette Fine
Foods—a Top Pick Of the Week.
Salade Frisée. One of our favorite salad greens, not seen often enough in the KH
U.S., is the classic French frisée (curly endive). It is traditionally served with
Roquefort and lardons, which are crisp, browned chunks of pork belly (you can
substitute bacon or pancetta). Toss the salad with a classic vinaigrette. For even
more panache, add some fan-sliced red pear and a few toasted walnut halves.
Click here for more salad recipes.
Sweet & Salty Most people prefer sweet butter at the table, but there‘s a KH
contingent that favors salty. A solution to please everyone: Serve sweet butter
and provide a cellar of delicious sea salt. Salt butter lovers can sprinkle a few
grains on their butter, and enjoy the superior flavor and crunch of the sea salt. In
fact, some award-winning salted butters are made by blending creamery butter
with sel gris or another fine sea salt...and some top restaurants serve sweet
butter with sea salt on top. Be artistic with black or red lava salts. Click here for
our glossary of sea salts.
Wine Buddies Instead of giving a friend a bottle of wine as a birthday, KH
congratulatory or holiday gift, take him or her to a wine tasting. Share the
experience and the memories, and build your wine knowledge together. If your
budget allows, you can add a bottle of wine as a surprise at the end of the
tasting. Most cities have regular tasting events and classes. If you don‘t know
where to find them, ask at wine stores. For some pointers on wine, click here to
visit our Wine Section.
Kings of Coffee Liqueur September 30 is Coffee Day, so celebrate not with an KH
everyday cup of Joe, but with a coffee cocktail. For generations there was
Kahlua, an ingredient of the Black Russian and the Mud Slide. More recent
challengers are Starbucks and Illy liqueurs and the elegant Patrón XO Café,
which comes from a small, family-owned distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, home of
tequila (the liqueur is tequila-based). All three newcomers do a better job than
the old standby. Starbucks is sweeter, Illy and Patrón are espresso-like. Try
them straight; or for a Black Russian, mix 1 ounce of coffee liqueur with 1 ounce
OctoberCategory Tip By
General Pasta Trade-Up Most people are tempted to save money on ―staples‖ like pasta. KH
But pasta isn‘t a staple any more than beef or produce—you get what you pay for.
The best companies pay for the best strains of durum wheat, and spend lots on
equipment that retains the most protein and texture as the dough is processed
into pasta. If you‘re not already using the best brands, next time, test a better
brand against what you generally use. See if the extra dollar or even three dollars
for a package that serves four people isn‘t more than worth it for the extra-
delicious taste and texture. Italians are so demanding about the taste of their
pasta, the sauce is secondary—and they use very little of it. Celebrate National
Pasta Month with some great pastas. For our reviews of some top brands, click
Dessert Toppings Caramel It‘s National Caramel Month, not that we needed another excuse
to dig in to this tasty tan treat. A jar of caramel sauce is an excellent companion
for plain pound cake, brownies, pie, ice cream or as a dip for fresh fruit. Play
―pastry chef‖ and drizzle microwaved caramel back and forth across the plate
before adding the main dessert. ―Just fruit‖ becomes a deluxe fruit platter with
caramel dipping sauce: A small warming dish with a tea candle keeps the
caramel hot. For individual fruit plates, put the caramel in shot glasses, sake cups
or espresso cups and warm the filled cups briefly in the microwave. We love the
deluxe sauces from The King‘s Cupboard (click here for our review), but you can
add chopped pecans and a teaspoon of rum or brandy to jazz up even average
2 grocery store caramel sauce.
Cheese Better Butter All butters don‘t taste the same—although they do have the same KH
calories and cholesterol. For your calories, eat the best. Buy small amounts of two
different butters and taste them against each other: straight or on bread. Then
use up the butter you didn‘t prefer and buy a third butter to test against the
―winner.‖ Like finding your favorite Chardonnay, keep trying every brand you
come across until you find the one that stands out. If you think there aren‘t a lot of
choices out there, we gathered 80 butters, sweet and salted, domestic and
imported, from 5 specialty food stores plus chains like Whole Foods and Trader
Joe‘s. The right one does make a difference, whether on toast or pancakes,
buttered vegetable or in mashed potatoes. Keep butter tightly wrapped in the
waxed paper it comes in, and then in a Ziploc-type bag—butter absorbs flavors
easily. Click here for more butter tips.
Pasta Instant Italian You‘ll always have a deluxe pasta dinner on hand if you tuck away
a bag or two of gourmet pasta in beautiful shapes and colors, along with some
jars of roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts and good breadsticks. Keep a
container of quality grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese in the
freezer, along with some sliced gourmet sausages (we love Bilinski chicken
sausages—click here for our review). When you need an impressive dinner in 15
minutes, just cook the pasta and zap the sausage in the microwave. You can
open a jar of sauce, but you don‘t even need a formal sauce—just toss the pasta
with the grated cheese (straight from the freezer) plus butter or fine olive oil, and
offer diners a grind of fresh pepper. Serve with the breadsticks and a roasted
pepper and artichoke ―antipasto,‖ drizzled with balsamic vinegar. If you happen to
have a loaf of Italian bread and fresh salad greens, so much the better!
Cheese Cream Cheese Tasting Cheese lovers spend time deciding which Cheddar or KH
chèvre they like best, but never think to compare cream cheeses. There can be a
noticeable difference in flavor—not only among mass brands, but with organic
and specialty brands too. The next time you‘re planning to have friends over for
bagels, get one of each brand. Cut off a small slice of each brick and taste it
plain, noting the differences. Some are sweeter, some are saltier, some are
gummier, some taste fresher and more natural. Just as you prefer the bagels
from Store X to the ones from Store Y, you‘ll also find your favorite cream cheese.
It will make a difference in your cheesecake recipe, too. Click here to learn more
5 about cheese.
Cheese Fruit Pastes Love cheese? Devote an evening to matching cheeses with fruit KH
pastes. Spanish membrillos made of quince are the most famous, but there are
orange, lemon, fig and more delights from India, Brazil and other global spots.
The concentration of fruit satisfies the need for a little something sweet at the end
of dinner, when a cheese course is served instead of dessert. Click here to learn
more about fruit pastes and other cheese condiments.
Pastas White Truffle Pizza It‘s National Pizza Festival Month. There‘s no reason not to KH
have your own festival at home—it‘s easy to make gourmet pizzas! Start with a
flat pizza crust like Boboli and top it with fresh sliced mozzarella and truffle
cheese (available at fine cheese stores). Add fresh mushrooms—pass by the
white button mushrooms and go for the more flavorful wild varieties ( click here
for our Mushroom Glossary). Bake until golden brown and slightly bubbling.
Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil, and for more flavor excitement, drizzle with
7 white truffle oil prior to serving.
The Right Fluff Today is Fluffernutter Day, which honors the classic peanut LN
butter and marshmallow creme sandwich. The original Marshmallow Fluff was
introduced more than 75 years ago and is still made by Durkee-Mower Inc. But
better, gourmet marshmallow cremes can be had. Our favorite, Tiny Trapeze
Marshmallow Creme from Whole Foods Markets, is a must! For a special
fluffernutter, cut thick slices of challah, spread with crunchy peanut butter and
marshmallow creme and toast in a panini press. For a fancier fluffernutter, use
slices of banana bread with apricot peanut butter and marshmallow creme. Click
here to check out some of our favorite gourmet peanut butters. For an opulent
fluffernutter, use chocolate pound cake as the bread.
Cheese Blue Mold = Good Mold It‘s Moldy Cheese Day—yes, it‘s an officially declared KH
food holiday—so it‘s time for a little mold education. If a blue mold develops on
your cheese, that‘s good and natural (think blue cheese). You can eat it; or it you
aren‘t into blue, scrape it off and enjoy the rest of the cheese. Red or black mold,
however, indicates a cheese that‘s past its prime. Cut it away. The rest of the
cheese is still fine, though. Click here to read more about blue cheeses.
Hors Deconstructed Mary Here‘s a beautiful, fun and delicious cocktail snack that‘s KH
simple to make. We think of it as a deconstructed Bloody Mary; others call it
―drunken tomatoes.‖ It helps if you have a jumbo martini glass, but a small
pedestal bowl works nicely too. Fill the glass with red and yellow cherry or grape
tomatoes; add a quality vodka to just cover the tomatoes. Provide attractive
toothpicks in a shot glass or other holder, so guests can spear the tomatoes, and
a small bowl for discarded picks. This one is always a hit! For more abut the
Bloody Mary, including history and classic recipes, click here.
Cheese Egg-cellent October 11th is World Egg Day. Try some organic eggs and savor KH
their flavor. They taste so much better than regular eggs, that one NIBBLE editor
calls them ―a different species entirely.‖ Use any eggs quickly: regardless of the
expiration date on the carton, the fresher the eggs, the better they taste (just buy
fresh eggs from the farmers market to see the difference—in eating, cooking and
baking). For breakfast we cook fresh organic eggs in Plugrá European Style
Butter, sprinkled with a touch of Maldon sea salt, and serve Wolferman‘s English
Muffins with preserves from our article on ―The Best Strawberry Jam And
Preserves.‖ It‘s like being at a country inn! Click here for our review of
Wolferman‘s, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
Kitchenware ools of the Trade Get a set of great kitchen knives and you‘ll instantly be a
better cook—everything you cut will look terrific. Dull blades don‘t let you slice
finely or crisply. They‘re also dangerous—they require more force, which can lead
to slips and cuts. At least, sharpen the knives you have. Look in your yellow
pages directory or ask at your local hardware store for a blade-sharpening
service. If you‘re going to invest in a set of knives, don‘t skimp: You may only buy
them once in a lifetime, so get the best, even if that means starting with just the
five basic blades. What are the best brands? There are old standards, and new
ones come onto the market each year as technology improves. The new ceramic
blades win raves, as do ergonomic handles. Read all the reviews you can, and
ask chefs and caterers. Don‘t fall for celebrity-endorsements just because of the
name. But unless you‘re a fanatic about care, leave the high-maintenance carbon
steel to the professionals. Click here to read about some of our favorite kitchen
Oils Balsamic Vinegar Dessert Sauce Your balsamics can multitask as dessert KH
sauces: Strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar have been a classic Italian
dessert for centuries. To go a step further, add cracked pepper and whipped
cream or vanilla or chocolate ice cream (fig ice cream is great if you can find it or
make it). Another balsamic dessert: Reduce fig balsamic vinegar by boiling it with
some red wine to half its volume; drizzle it on pound cake and top with whipped
cream or ice cream with a macedoine of fruit or a fruit compote on the side.
These desserts are classic, yet fresh and modern. Click here to read more about
13 balsamic vinegar.
Meats “Exotic” Meat Treat your favorite meat lover (yourself?) to a gift of something KH
meaty, new and interesting. Boar, bison, elk, emu and ostrich are readily
available. Farmed, usually raised naturally and low in fat, what may sound exotic
is actually sweet, tender and not in the least gamey. Cooking an unusual cut is a
good reason to invite fellow food-lovers for dinner—and tell them to bring some
14 good Burgundies.
Cookies Birthday Cupcakes Instead of a birthday cake, consider a platter of cupcakes. KH
Beloved by children and adults alike, they eliminate the need to cut, have built-in
portion control and can provide guests with their favorite flavors (chocolate or
vanilla cake, different icings, some Splenda-based for those who can‘t have
sugar, gluten-free for those who can‘t have wheat). Even with a tray of highly
decorated cupcakes (e.g. topped with chocolate medallions or marzipan figures),
you can leave an unadorned cupcake in the center to hold the candle(s). Click
here to read about Divvies cupcakes—you can send a box as a gift.
Tabletop Season‟s Greetings No matter what the season, holiday-themed dishes perk up KH
everyday meals—and there‘s a major holiday every month or two. If you don‘t
have the space or budget to buy several sets of themed holiday dishes (turkeys,
bunnies et al), mix-and-match colored glass or ceramic plates. Eight dinner plates
in four different colors—red, orange, green and blue—will take you through the
entire year. Red for Valentine‘s Day, Independence Day and Christmas also
mixes with orange and green for a fall foliage theme. The orange doubles for
Halloween and Thanksgiving, the green for St. Patrick‘s Day, spring, summer,
and Christmas. Blue is beautiful for Chanukah and all Jewish holidays—and for
Easter, the blue skies of summer and Independence Day. Each family member
can pick his or her favorite color for birthday dinners and other celebrations, too.
Click here to see some seasonal designs.
Pasta Flavored Pastas It‘s National Pasta Day, but think twice before breaking out that KH
box of regular old rigatoni. If you love pasta, you may love flavored pastas even
more. There are dozens to try, from artichoke and lemon pepper to jalapeño and
wasabi. They‘re delicious, and they make cooking a gourmet meal a snap. Create
a main dish around them, use them as an exciting side or enjoy them simply with
butter or olive oil and fresh Parmesan cheese. Click here to read our article on
17 flavored pastas.
Pasta Leftover Pasta We hope that you had a tasty National Pasta Day yesterday. If KH
you were a little overzealous in your pasta preparation, any leftover, unsauced
pasta can be turned into a pasta salad. Or, serve it as a side with a totally
different sauce. Cold tortellini make a tasty hors d‘oeuvre—provide toothpicks and
a dip (we especially love pumpkin tortellini this way). Or, add ―short
cuts‖—shaped pasta—to a green salad. If the pasta is already sauced, adding
cubes of grilled chicken, pork, ham, seafood or vegetables turns it into a brand-
new dish. Click here to see our Pasta Section, with recipes, cooking tips and
18 other articles about pasta.
Chocolate Halloween Planning If you‘re thinking of baking a sweet treat, here‘s a trick to KH
add a special Halloween touch: Make a cake or cupcakes with a spooky black
frosting. It used to be that you had to create black frosting with blue food color,
adding it to chocolate frosting drop by drop until the color turned black. But now,
McCormick makes pure black food color, sure to make life easier (especially for
those who can‘t have chocolate). Decorate the top(s) with candy corn, or check
candy shops for marzipan spiders and other edible decor. Click here to visit our
19 Cookies, Cake & Pastry Section.
Beverages Halloween Planning, Cont‟d The easiest way to scoop out a pumpkin is with an KH
ice cream scoop. Whether you‘re removing only the pulp and seeds or all the fruit,
the right-sized scoop makes the job go faster. If you‘ll be turning the pumpkin into
a Jack o‘lantern, you can make the vegetal scent fragrant by sprinkling cinnamon,
nutmeg or allspice inside. The lit candle will diffuse the scent, and you can refresh
the spices each day when you light the wick. Try cinnamon today, nutmeg
tomorrow, then cloves, allspice, etc. Click here to to add more pumpkin fragrance
to your Halloween with scented candles.
General Pumpkin Table Settings Scatter miniature pumpkins and gourds to dress up the KH
dining table from October through Thanksgiving weekend. They also can be used
to hold place cards: either cut a slit on the top with a sharp knife to insert the card,
or use strong double-stick tape to affix one. Click here to see our favorite
21 chocolate table settings (turkeys, acorns and more).
Beverages Super-Rich Cocoa For a super-rich cup of cocoa, always use whole milk, and KH
mix a teaspoon or more of sweet butter into each cup. This produces a better
result than using cream or half-and-half. The butter transforms average cocoa
into a really good cup, and good cocoa into a memorable experience. If you‘re
watching your cholesterol and need to hold the butter and use reduced-fat milk,
buy the ultrapasteurized variety. It‘s more expensive, but it tastes like milk that‘s
two levels higher in fat content. Click here to read about some of our favorite
Oils Flavor Boosters Don‘t save your infused oils only for salads. Use them in KH
marinades, as basting oils and as anointing oils. Drizzle them on cooked fish,
poultry, meats and vegetables, including potatoes. It‘s fun to have a variety of
flavored oils to work with—garlic, basil, rosemary, wasabi, lemon and jalapeño,
for example. Since oils begin to lose their freshness six months after the bottle is
first opened—the more often you use them and the more frequently you replace
them, the more lively they‘ll be. One of our favorite companies, Boyajian, sells
small bottles flavored olive oil that are a better way to buy flavored oils.
General The Dish On Cups & Glasses Food looks more exciting served when it‘s well KH
packaged. That means the right garnishes, but also the right plates and glasses.
You can use your nice cups and glasses to serve food—including the ones you
have packed away in the ―good china‖ closet. Use beautiful tea cups to serve
yogurt, fruit salad, soup, ice cream, seviche or sides. Think of how many different
foods you can serve in a martini glass—from shrimp cocktail to rice pudding. Any
food—and especially plain and diet foods—look more elegant and will seem to
taste that much better when served in something other than the same old bowl.
But click here to see some of our especially tasty diet foods.
Salad Simply Dressed You don‘t need a traditional vinaigrette on a salad. Try a KH
―deconstructed‖ dressing. A drizzle of fine olive oil or a squeeze of fresh lime juice
with a few snipped chives is eye-openingly good. Many oils have personalities
that can be enjoyed on their own, unblended with vinegar. We‘ve been using
grassy extra-virgin olive oils from Sicily and Australia (they‘re also great bread-
dippers). And of course, brands of fine olive, grapeseed and avocado oils come
pre-infused with flavors like basil, garlic, rosemary and chile. For more
25 information about fine salad oils, click here.
Chocolate Storing Chocolate Fine chocolate is far too sensitive to be stored in a KH
refrigerator: It absorbs odors and reacts to changes in temperature. Moving from
cold to warm and back again can cause chocolate to develop a grayish-white
―bloom‖ on the surface (that‘s the cocoa butter separating out from the
chocolate). It still tastes fine, but it mars the appearance. Find a cool place to
store chocolate (the ideal place for both temperature and humidity is a wine
storage unit). The best advice is not to buy more filled chocolates or truffles than
you‘ll eat in a week; and if you‘re given a large box, don‘t hoard it, share it. The
finest chocolates are made without preservatives and should be consumed within
two weeks. They‘ll still be edible in a month, but the fillings will have started to
break down and won‘t be as flavorful. Plain chocolate bars with no filling or nuts
can stay fresh for a year or more, wrapped well in foil and kept in the right ―wine
refrigerator‖ environment. For more information about chocolate, click here.
Oils Oil Spritz For ease in pan frying, put your cooking oil in a stainless steel spray KH
pump bottle—you can find one in in almost any housewares store or cosmetics
aisle. (Don‘t use plastic bottles: Chemicals from the plastic leach into the oil and
can alter the taste.) Spraying coats the pan quickly and you‘ll use much less oil
than by pouring it from the bottle. There‘s no comparison between your own
quality oil and the supermarket spray varieties. We have four spray bottles filled
with different grapeseed oils: regular, garlic, lemon and hot chili. Click here for our
review of Salute Santé flavored oils.
Cookies The Secret of Great Bakers The difference between a good cookie or cake and KH
a great one generally isn‘t a ―secret ingredient.‖ The secret is using the best basic
ingredients: top-grade chocolate or cocoa, fresh organic eggs, artisan flour, real
Madagascar (bourbon) vanilla and fresh-ground spices—not pre-ground ones that
have been sitting on the shelf for a year or more. It doesn‘t cost not much more to
use the finest ingredients. Try them with your favorite recipe and see if they make
a big impact. Tough as it is to ―waste food,‖ don‘t use old ingredients—toss spices
and baking chocolate. Even if the carton says that the eggs are still usable, the
fresher they are, the better they bake up. When you factor in your labor and the
cost of all ingredients, using the best and the freshest is worth it. Click here to
visit our Cakes Section.
Beverages Observe & Serve Look for serving pieces that double as objets d’art. Bowls, KH
pitchers and trays fall into this category: You can showcase them all year as room
decor, then put them to use as needed during formal dinners. If you like to collect
and have more items than room to display them, rotate pieces on a schedule so
family and visitors will enjoy different pieces of your collection. Click here to read
28 more in our article, ―Fun With Tabletop.‖
Hors Calorie-Free Food Gifts If you need to celebrate a birthday or other special KH
occasion with a foodie friend who is seriously dieting, a cake, other food gift or
celebration dinner may not be the best idea. Consider something with a delicious
food fragrance—bath product, room fragrance or personal fragrance. Click here
to see some of our favorites. You can also check out our Diet Nibbles section for
29 real calorie-free food gifts.
Cheese Freeze The Cheese Buy good Parmesan or other Italian grating cheese from KH
your cheese store, have it grated at the store and keep it in the freezer. It‘s
instantly usable for pasta, omelets, soups, whatever. Don‘t by pre-grated cheese
at a supermarket—it isn‘t top quality cheese, yet you pay more for the service. Of
course, the best solution is to keep a wedge of cheese to grate as needed, but
the pre-grated cheese convenience works for us! We love mixing grated cheese
with leftover rice and a bit of milk and fresh-ground pepper; add cooked
mushrooms or ingredients if you like, and heat it in the microwave for a mock
―risotto.‖ Click here to learn more about Italian grating cheeses.
Cocktails A Happier Halloween While the kids are out trick-or-treating, you deserve a KH
treat, too. Serve your adult guests more than the usual glass of wine or beer.
Check out our special Halloween cocktails, including the Bloody Scream, Ghost,
Satan‘s Whiskers, Swamp Demon and Witches‘ Brew. The Bloody Scream is a
variation of a Bloody Mary: 2 ounces of gin, 2/3 cup top-quality tomato juice, the
juice of half a lemon, 5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 5 dashes of hot pepper
sauce, a healthy splash of red wine, black pepper and celery salt to taste. Mix
ingredients in a cocktail shaker, stir, and pour into an ice-filled collins glass.
Garnish with a celery stalk. Click here for the other cocktail recipes.
Date URL Reader
8 http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/jams/index.asp Lindsey Nelson
November Category Tip
Zone Multitasking Sushi Sets Today is National Sushi Day. If you own a set of sushi
plates and soy sauce dishes but rarely have sushi at home, put them to other
uses. Serve food on sushi plates as you would any interesting plate: Give
sandwiches and desserts an interesting new presentation. To use the complete
set, think of fruit or vegetables with dipping sauces, a first course with a relish or
slaw or seafood with cocktail sauce. Use the soy sauce dishes separately as
individual nut or condiment dishes, mint dishes or tea bag holders. And don‘t
forget to celebrate today with some delicious and healthy sushi. Click here to
read all about sushi in our Sushi Glossary.
Cheese Devilishly Good Eggs It‘s National Deviled Egg Day, so here are tips to make
perfect boiled eggs. (1) Test eggs for freshness: A fresh egg will sink in a bowl of
water. Raw eggs that float are over the hill. (2) Fresh peel more easily, but not
farm-fresh: Make sure they‘re more than 3 days old. (3) To avoid a green ring
around the yolk, don‘t overcook. Try this technique for easy-to-peel eggs with
beautiful yellow centers: Place eggs in a pot of cold water, add a teaspoon of salt
and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and remove from heat; let sit for 13 minutes.
Drain and immediately place eggs in an ice water bath until completely cooled.
They should be perfect, and you can proceed with your favorite deviled egg
recipe. Click here for our favorite deviled egg recipe, with caps of flavored
Beverages Spiced Hot Chocolate Enjoy this yummy recipe courtesy of top chocolatier
Larry Burdick. Per serving, mix 1.5 cups milk, 2 heaping teaspoons of top quality
cocoa powder, 1/4 cup of ground dark chocolate with 60% or higher cacao
content (chop and grind a good dark chocolate bar in a spice mill or a food
processor) and ground nutmeg and/or cinnamon (fresh-grind using a microplane
grater for great flavor). Heat the milk to just below boiling. Whisk in the cocoa
powder and ground chocolate. Add nutmeg and cinnamon to taste—we like a lot
of each. If you like ―Aztec‖ spice, add some chili powder, too. Click here to read
our review of Burdick‘s hot chocolate, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week and our
favorite hot chocolate.
Caviar Caviar “Cigar” A simple-to-make, impressive-to-serve first course is a smoked
salmon roll filled with salmon caviar and crème fraîche. Ask the counter person
to slice the salmon in wide pieces instead of narrow strips—explain that you‘re
going to fill the slices and roll them up. Spread the inside of each slice with
crème fraîche and a teaspoon of caviar, but leave the last inch on each end clear
of filling so it doesn‘t spill out when you roll up. Then roll! Put a few beads of
caviar on top of the ―cigar‖ for decor (consider some contrasting caviar, e.g.
flavored whitefish roe or tobiko). Garnish the plate with a sprinkle of snipped
chives and dill and some finely diced red onion. This cigar is smokin‘ ! Click
here to learn more about smoked salmon.
Beverages Holiday Ice You can make festive ice cubes for holiday drinks without investing
in special pumpkin- or holly leaf-shape ice cube trays. And you can do it more
elegantly, too! Just freeze a whole cranberry, a mint or basil leaf, a rosemary
sprig or a piece of curly lime or lemon peel in each section of a regular ice cube
tray. We create different trays of ―designer ice cubes‖ to match to different sweet
or savory beverages. It‘s easy to keep the garnishes straight in our favorite color-
coordinated ice cube trays from iSi Orka (click here to read about them).
Desserts Something Old, Something New Match traditional desserts like apple pie,
brownies, chocolate cake and pound cake with very modern flavors of ice cream.
Vosges Chocolat‘s Naga (sweet Indian curry and coconut ice cream) and Red
Fire (chocolate with chilies and cinnamon) are heavenly with classic cakes and
pies. Vosges will overnight-deliver them to you in dry ice, but your local
creameries may offer similar delights. Another of our favorites, Reed‘s Green
Tea Ginger Ice Cream, is available at specialty stores nationwide including
Whole Foods Markets and Trader Joe‘s. To learn more about ice cream,
6 including our review of Vosges, click here.
Cocktails Save That Single Malt The same nitrogen aerosol sprays used to prevent
oxidation in opened bottles of wine can also be used to protect single-malt
Scotch, Cognac and other precious liquors. Just spray into the bottle before
returning it to the shelf: The gas adds a layer of protection from oxygen for
weeks and even months. If the bottle is something special you open rarely,
sealing over the cap with paraffin (available at any drug store) prevents
evaporation as well. You can buy wine protection sprays at most wine and
household products stores. Click here to learn more about Scotch—and how it
7 differs from Bourbon, rye and Irish whiskey.
Cheese Savory Chèvre Truffles These are one of our favorite, fun-to-make hors
d‘oeuvres. Take a Montrachet log or other soft chèvre, cut it into slices and roll
the slices into truffle-size balls (if you don‘t want to hand-roll them, you can press
all of the cheese into a small bowl and use a melon baller to scoop them). Chill
to make them easier to roll in toppings. Pick four or five toppings with varied
flavors and textures—finely chopped pistachios, macadamias, almonds or
walnuts; black, white or toasted sesame seeds; shredded coconut or sweet curry
powder; Hungarian paprika and garlic powder; minced parsley or rosemary;
unsweetened cocoa powder (you can add a pinch of ginger); or other favorite
flavors. The coating process works best on waxed paper. Arrange the ―truffles"
on a plate. They‘ll look like a beautiful box of bonbons—and each ―flavor‖ will
taste different. Click here to learn more about goat cheese.
Oils Fruity Balsamics Flavored balsamic vinegars do more than create tasty salad
dressings, marinades and glazes. They can make sophisticated desserts: drizzle
cherry, strawberry and raspberry balsamics over berries and other fresh fruit,
over vanilla ice cream, and even slices of fresh goat cheese. You can reduce the
vinegar and add stock to make a sauce for duck or pork. Or, drizzle it onto a
duck or pork sandwich (add some arugula!). Perk up a soup, stew or casserole
by adding a spoonful. Look for fruit balsamics at fine supermarkets and specialty
stores. One of our favorites is the delicious Cherry Balsamic from Restaurant
LuLu Gourmet Products. Click here to learn more about vinegar.
Meats Foie Gras Kisses You can buy these gourmet delights ready-made from
Dartagnan.com, or make them easily—and more cost-effectively—yourself. Buy
plump, pitted prunes and mousse de foie gras (duck or goose liver mousse—or
substitute less expensive chicken liver mousse). A classic preparation is to first
marinate the prunes overnight in Armagnac, but this step is optional. With a
pastry bag or small spoon, stuff each prune with mousse. These tasty tidbits are
perfect for special-occasion cocktails with Champagne or sweet sherry, or as
part of a first course on an assorted hors d‘oeuvres plate. We could make an
entire dinner of them! Click here for another gourmet treat, chef David Burke‘s
smoked salmon ―lollipops,‖ Gourmet Pops.
Sundae Celebration November 11th is National Sundae Day, so why not make
something special? We‘re starting with a S‘mores Sundae—chocolate ice
cream, marshmallow creme, crumbled graham crackers and chocolate sauce.
To celebrate the season, we‘re following with a Gingerbread
Sundae—cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla ice creams with cubes of fresh-baked
gingerbread, topped with whipped cream, candied ginger and chunks of
Chocolove‘s crystallized ginger and dark chocolate bar. (The truly indulgent can
add caramel sauce). Whatever your favorite flavors, combine them, indulge and
enjoy! Click here to see some of our favorite ice cream brands.
Hors Counting The Hors Plan 4 to 6 cocktail hors d‘oeuvres per person if you‘re
following drinks with dinner; 8 to 10 pieces if it‘s just a cocktail party. Some
brands of frozen hors d‘oeuvres available to consumers are the same brands
caterers use. They‘ll cook up hot and crispy in your oven in just 7 or 8 minutes.
Just try the products in advance of the event so there are no surprises. Not only
do you want to be sure that the products taste as good as they look; different
ovens produce different results, and you don‘t want to experiment while guests
are waiting to be fed! Click here to read more about planning hors d‘oeuvres.
Party Chocolate Place Cards For Thanksgiving dinner, it‘s easy to make place cards
that are good enough to eat. Buy place cards at any card shop or stationery
store. Then look for candies the size of a quarter: flat chocolate turkeys or
pumpkins, nonpareils or colorful white chocolate pastilles. Affix a piece of candy
to the left side of each place card, using a paste of 2T confectioner‘s sugar and 3
to 4 drops water. The cards add fun and anticipation from the moment people
see the table. Guests can remove and eat the chocolate at the end of dinner. For
other holidays, you can attach Christmas trees, hearts, bunnies, etc. If you don‘t
want place cards, use chocolate place settings. Click here to read our article on
Salad Watermelon Radishes Thanks to farmers markets, we‘re seeing more of the
watermelon radish, a large Chinese radish—up to 3 inches and more in
diameter—with reverse radish coloring. It has a white exterior and a beautiful
rosy-magenta flesh, which resembles a watermelon and captivates everyone
who sees it. A sweet radish, without the peppery bite, its color and mildness
make it a lovely surface for hors d‘oeuvres and a beautiful garnish (sliced,
quartered, or julienned). Serve it in lieu of mozzarella with sliced tomatoes, basil
and balsamic vinegar—a change of pace that saves calories and fat. Toss thin
slices with mâche or microgreens in a Dijon-honey vinaigrette; add them to
sandwiches for color, flavor and crunch (try watercress and radish sandwiches
with unsalted butter). You can eat them cooked, like turnips, too. To store,
discard the leafy tops and wrap the radishes in plastic. They‘ll keep for several
weeks. By the way, the Chinese name is shinrimei, and the radish is known by
several other names including Rose Heart and Beauty Heart. Click here for more
Sandwiches andwich Splendor When serving sandwiches, offer a variety of condiments
and recommend that diners mix and match: one half of a roast beef, ham or
turkey sandwich with chutney, one half with Roquefort Dijon mustard, for
example. It‘s like having two different sandwiches, and just one way in which
specialty condiments transform everyday foods into gourmet treats. We love the
Dijon mustards of Laurent du Clos so much, we can eat them from the
jar—especially the amazing Roquefort mustard. Other favorites include the
Saffron Aïoli mayonnaise from Restaurant Lulu. Click here for more of our
15 favorite condiments.
SeasoningsBrown Sugar Trick A pinch of brown sugar is a delightful garnish on top of
yogurt, fruit salad, cereal, pancakes, sweet potatoes, ice cream and much more.
But it has a tendency to lose moisture and solidify into a hard brick. When brown
sugar gets hard, put it into a microwave-safe container and zap it for 60 seconds.
The old-fashioned method, placing a slice of fresh apple into the sugar canister,
still works; but it takes overnight or longer for the moisture from the apple to
absorb into the sugar. Click here to read about the different types of brown
sugar—and other sugars and syrups—in our Sugar Glossary.
VegetablesTomato Stand-Ins When tomatoes are out of season—or you just don‘t have
any at hand—simply substitute roasted red peppers (pimientos) or marinated
sundried tomatoes. Both are available in jars, and can be kept on your shelf at
the ready for sandwiches, salads, plate garnishes, hors d‘oeuvres, pastas—any
need you have. Try peppadews too, a cherry pepper-sized African fruit that looks
like a small, round red pepper and is available in sweet and hot styles. They can
be stuffed for hors d‘oeuvres and even used as cocktail garnishes. Click here for
17 our review.
VegetablesTruffle Juice Add truffle flavor to a dish by adding some of this brilliant juice,
available at specialty food shops. Created by soaking Italian and French truffles
in a brine, it‘s an easy way to introduce the heady flavor of truffles to a dish. We
use it in sauces, soups and stocks where we don‘t want the added fat from our
other favorite truffle-enhancement truffle butter, a delicious and affordable
18 solution. Click here to read more about it.
Desserts Sweet Oloroso From the Jerez-Xérès-Sherry region of Spain, a sweet oloroso
sherry can be the perfect dinner apéritif and multitask as the dessert wine
afterwards. The typical sweet, rich fig and nut flavors can complement a dessert
or be savored on their own. Pair it with pecan pie; honey, toffee or buttercrunch
ice-cream; or for the cheese course, serve the sherry with blue cheese and figs.
It‘s a treat for the holidays or any time of year. Click here to see our favorite
19 dessert and wine pairings.
Cooking for Thanksgiving? Cooking fires are the number one cause of house
fires in the U.S. Here‘s an important tip from The National Consumers League.
Keep an oven mitt and a large pot lid next to the stove. If a small fire starts in a
pan, turn off the burner. Wear an oven mitt while carefully sliding the lid over the
pan to smother the flame. Never pour water on a grease fire and never use a fire
extinguisher on a pan fire—it can spray or shoot burning grease around the
kitchen and end up spreading the fire. Click here to see Tundra, our favorite
20 handy fire extinguisher.
Guest Check When inviting guests to dine, always ask if there are foods they
avoid. Some guests won‘t be impolite by telling you up-front, but why prepare
food they will only decline (and leave you scrambling to find them something
else)? If guests with special needs offer to bring their own food rather than have
you prepare it, allow them to do so. It makes them comfortable, and it doesn‘t
reflect on your hospitality. Do, however, ask if they can have specific garnishes,
and make their plates look festive when you bring their food to the table. Click
21 here for our favorite garnishes.
Cranberry Mayo Enjoy those turkey sandwiches (or turkey burgers,
veggieburgers or regular burgers) with cranberry mayonnaise instead of other
condiments. Just blend regular mayonnaise with cranberry sauce in a 3:1
proportion. Some people like even more cranberry—experiment down to a 2:1
proportion. Click here for more condiment ideas.
Cranberry Royale Instead of a Kir Royale—Champagne with framboise
(raspberry liqueur)— serve Cranberry Royales as an apéritif this holiday season.
Mix cranberry liqueur with any sparkling wine. Add the liqueur first, then the
sparkling wine, and don‘t stir—it destroys the bubbles. An alternative, make your
favorite rum drink with Prichard‘s Cranberry Rum; it‘s made with Ocean Spray
Cranberry Juice. You can make your own cranberry liqueur with two weeks‘ lead
time: There are many recipes online. You‘ll have it in time for Christmas! Click
23 here for more cocktail ideas.
Holiday “Mocktail” For an alcohol-free cocktail for adults and minors this
holiday season, mix equal parts of cranberry juice, apple cider and club soda (or
ginger ale for the kids). Serve in a wine goblet with an optional cinnamon stick.
Turn it into a real cocktail by substituting an ounce of vodka and a 1/2 ounce of
Calvados (apple brandy) for the club soda or ginger ale. For more holiday
cocktails, click here to visit our Cocktails Section.
General A Sprig of...Grape? Remember when a garnish meant parsley? Today, part of
the creativity in cooking is the choice of edible garniture. Just a bit of garnish
makes any plate look better. Try whole or halved cherry or grape tomatoes or
actual grapes, caperberries with stems (or scatter small capers on the plate),
beads of whitefish caviar, edible flowers...there are dozens of tasty choices
whether your course is sweet or savory. For more ideas, click here to see our
25 article on glamorous garnishes.
Snacks Multi-Tasker Snackers Keep multi-tasking snack foods handy—they‘ll help you
out in numerous ways. Gourmet potato chips go beyond quality snacks: They
impress guests when served with cocktails, plain or as a base for hors d‘oeuvres
like smoked salmon and fresh goat cheese. Whether standard salted or in a
dozen different flavors from Thai to Gorgonzola, they dress up everyday soups,
salads, and sandwiches too. Click here for our article on flavored chips.
Cocktails A Sweeter Hostess Gift Find out if your host, hostess, a family member or
another guest is on a sugar-restricted diet. Let other guests bring a bottle of
wine: You can make a big difference by bringing a box of fine sugar-free cookies
or candy that can be enjoyed by those with restrictions. Click here to see some
27 of our favorites in the Diet Nibbles Section.
BreadstuffsFrench Toast Day November 28th is National French Toast Day, so celebrate!
This tasty treat is great made with plain white bread, but even better with thick-
sliced challah, brioche or cinnamon swirl bread. Beat an egg with some milk,
soak the bread thoroughly in the mixture and fry in butter on both sides. If you‘re
up to it, try caramelizing the toast with extra butter and sugar in a hot pan. For a
special twist, serve with an infused maple syrup from Moosewood Hollow, like
Sweet Chai, Sweet Ginger, Sweet Lavender or Sweet Autumn (a blend of sweet
spices and vanilla). Click here for our review of these wonderful maple syrups, a
NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
Pastas Truffle Peelings Truffle season has begun. If you‘re jonesing for the heady
aroma and taste of black truffles but going out for a plate of truffled pasta isn‘t an
affordable fix, look for a jar of truffle peelings and make your own special dinner
entrée or first course. Toss angel hair pasta with unsalted butter and the
peelings—and use one of your nicest plates. A hearty red wine is a perfect
companion. You also can use the peelings in sauces, scrambled eggs, mashed
potatoes and as garnishes. Be careful—it could become a habit! Click here to
29 learn all about truffles.
Cheese Our Daily Truffle One way to enjoy truffles every day is to spread truffle butter
on your bread. D‘Artagnan‘s black truffle butter is our favorite little indulgence.
For the price of a cocktail, you can have a tub of precious, sweet butter, chock-
full of black truffle pieces. It‘s as satisfying as a truffle dish and lasts a week (or
more, depending on the number of people in our household). We spreading it on
French rolls or fresh baguette and are ecstatic. Or, toss it with angel hair pasta,
add it to a baked potato and butter your vegetables. Put a tablespoon in sauces
and create masterpieces. You‘ll be in truffle heaven for $9.99. Click here for our
By Date URL
KH 2 http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/fish/caviar/recipes.asp#r4
KH 3 http://www.thenibble.com/zine/archives/burdick-hot-chocolate.asp
Date Category Tip
General Chai Hot Chocolate If you like chai and hot chocolate, try this ―fusion‖ recipe
from San Francisco chocolatier Michael Recchiuti. Grate 2 ounces of a quality
chocolate bar in the 40% to 50% cacao range. Brew 3 ounces of chai tea for 5
minutes in a cup of boiling water. Strain into a quart vessel, pressing a spoon
against the leaves to extract the most tea. Simmer a cup of whole milk over
medium heat and add to the tea, then add the chocolate. Mix with an immersion
blender until the chocolate has melted. Pour into cups; warm briefly in the
microwave if you want it piping hot. Serves two. Click here for our review of more
1 than 60 hot chocolates.
Cocktails Scotch & [Bottled] Water Don‘t serve tap water with that single malt! Evian isn‘t
right, either. You need a water with character and terroir, like the Scotch. Think
Cloud Juice, Gleneagles, Hildon or Oregon Rain waters. Give a bottle of each to
your favorite Scotch drinker as a holiday gift. Click here to read more about the
exciting world of bottled waters, and about pairing specific types of waters with
2 specific foods.
Diet Caveat Egg Nog Egg nog has month-long celebration status: December is
National Egg Nog Month. Unfortunately, the tasty nog (nog is a beverage made
with beaten eggs) is one of the most caloric foods on earth—not due to the eggs
but to the cream. Our recent survey of five supermarket brands showed 190 to
230 calories per tiny four-ounce portion. That‘s without the rum and brandy, not to
mention the vanilla ice cream and whipped cream added to many egg nogs. Have
a full-size cup and ―seconds,‖ and you can easily consume 1,000 egg nog
calories. Click here for a diet egg nog recipe and the history of egg nog.
Magazines Crazy for Cookies Today is National Cookie Day, so bake up a batch or two to
share with your friends and loved ones. We love Michael Recchiuti‘s Brown Sugar
Macadamia Nut Cookies with chocolate chunks—a very sophisticated chocolate
chip cookie. Click here for the recipe. If you don‘t have time to bake, pick up
some of your favorite bakery cookies to enjoy for dessert this evening.
Cheese Deck the Hors Be ―seasonal‖ and include some red and green hors d‘oeuvres at
your holiday party. Some crowd-pleasers are very easy to make. Take long
toothpicks and bocconcini (1" mozzarella balls—the word means ―mouthfuls‖ in
Italian) and stack one ball with a piece of red roasted pepper, a small basil leaf
and a pitted picholine olive. For a canapé, spread thin slices of baguette or
flatbread with soft goat cheese, top with a marinated roma tomato (more tender
and mild than sun-dried tomato, which can be substituted), and garnish with baby
arugula. Roasted red peppers and mozzarella with green basil leaves (or
mozzarella balls with pesto dip) are simple to organize on a tray, bruschetta is
easy, and bright red peppadews can be stuffed, skewered or used to decorate
cheese and canapé plates. Click here to read about one of our favorite brands of
mozzarella, Mozzarella Fresca.
Candy Artful Candy Pretty candies in a beautiful candy dish do double duty as an objet
d‘art—something not just to eat, but to admire. In honor of today, National Hard
Candy Day, find candies in shapes and colors that add interest to your decor, or
that celebrate the season or holiday at hand. For Christmas and other holidays,
old-fashioned ―cut rock‖ hard candies—the ones with pictures in the center—are
still made by Hammond‘s Candies (click here for their website). Like the ship in
the bottle, people marvel at how the designs (e.g. Christmas, tiny Santas,
evergreen trees, gold stars and poinsettias) get into the small pieces of candy.
Each hand-made piece is a little work of edible art.
Meats Foie Gras Variées On festive occasions we serve ―Foie Gras Variées,‖ small
amounts of different preparations that make a luxurious course. A prune stuffed
with duck liver mousse, some mousse on a square of toasted brioche, a small
slice of terrine of foie gras and some warm foie gras liver with quince (or other
fruit garnish) make guests very happy. Serve two different wines—Sauternes,
Riesling, Gewürtztraminer or Late Harvest Vouvray—so your guests experience
different pairings. The same can be done with chicken liver mousse, terrine, and
livers (and it‘s much more affordable).
Magazines Brownie Bonanza December 8th is National Chocolate Brownie Day. If you
have the time, bake your own favorite recipe—or try a new one. Sophisticated
treats are just a click away with Dolcielo Brownies, which combine liqueur-soaked
fruits and nuts. Their creator calls them ―brownies for adults‖ and we agree—so
you‘ll still have to get something for the kids. To read our review of these brownie
8 beauties, click here.
Home Deck the Table Pretty topiary ―Christmas trees‖ made of rosemary, a foot high or
slightly taller, are available at florist shops and Christmas tree lots. Use them to
decorate tables and add fragrance to rooms through the holidays and the winter.
The rosemary, of course, can be snipped and used to flavor and garnish dishes
9 when the season is over.
Magazines Beer & Zymurgy December 10th is National Lager Day, which might have you
wondering, ―What exactly is a lager?‖ It‘s just one of some 30 styles of beer, and
you may have been drinking it for years without knowing how it‘s different from
the ales or pilsners we commonly quaff. Our Beer Section has enlightening
articles, including a glossary of beer terms. Click here to find definitions from A
10 (Ale) to Z (zymurgy, which is the study of fermentation).
Cookies Holiday Cookie Twist For a seasonal change of pace, add dried cranberries to
your chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie recipe. You can find loose dried
cranberries in many specialty food stores, and Ocean Spray Craisins® in most
supermarkets. Split the amount of chocolate chips in your recipe by half, making
up the remainder with the cranberries. Do the same with the raisins in the
oatmeal cookie recipe. The cranberries add not just holiday flavor but color, too.
Beverages Cocoa Cup Rimmers December 12th is National Cocoa Day. Take your
presentation to the next level with cocoa rimmers, which add an extra touch of
flavor and a festive look to the cup. There are rimmers just for cocoa, but cocktail
rimmers for chocolate martinis, espresso martinis, peppermintinis and orange
blossoms are essentially the same product. Or, make your own rimmer by
grinding peppermint, chocolate or coffee hard candies to a fine gravel. You can
mix flavors or keep them separate. Then, just moisten the rim of the cup or mug
with water, dip it onto a plate of rimmer powder to coat, add the cocoa and serve.
Yes, you certainly can top it with whipped cream and sprinkles!
Reviews Gadget Gifts If you have a favorite kitchen gadget, give it as a gift. It may seem
small, but if it does a big job, the recipient will be grateful to have it (our friends
were thrilled to get those inexpensive garlic-peeler tubes). To make it a more
important gift, package it with the food it‘s meant to help—e.g., the garlic peeler
with imported French garlic or a silicone barbecue brush with gourmet barbecue
General Holiday Marys When planning a holiday cocktail party, consider a Bloody Mary
bar with everything from Virgin Marys to variations like the Bloody Bull (beef
bouillon), Blood Mariner (clam juice), Danish Mary (aquavit instead of vodka, plus
dill), Highland Mary (with Scotch) and Russian Mary (with yogurt). In addition to
being highly popular, the red color is seasonal, along with the green garnishes of
14 celery stalks and rosemary sprigs.
Desserts Cupcake Surprise Today is National Cupcake Day, so enjoy a cupcake—in fact,
make some with a chocolate ―surprise.‖ Fill the cupcake liner halfway with batter,
then insert a piece of chocolate from your favorite gourmet chocolate bar (the size
should be equivalent to a miniature-sized chocolate bar, about 1" x 3/4"). Then
top off the cup 2/3 to 3/4 of the way with batter and bake as instructed. The
chocolate bar will melt during the baking process. After you ice the cupcakes, you
can add another piece of chocolate to decorate the top. We love making a
chocolate cupcake recipe and using a spicy ―Aztec‖ chocolate bar, like Jacques
15 Torres‘ Wicked Bar.
VegetablesChristmas Salad Make a beautiful red-and-green Christmas salad by adding
―red‖ greens to your vegetable mix. If you can‘t find the more exotic red
lettuces—red leaf lettuce, red oak lettuce and red romaine—most stores carry the
naturally red-veined chard, baby kale and radicchio, and you can add them to
regular leaf lettuces. You also may find red endive and red mustard greens. For
more color, slice very thin rings of red and green bell peppers, and slice water
chestnuts into thin disks as ―tree ornaments.‖ Use an elegant vinaigrette: fine
olive oil with a sherry or Champagne vinegar in a 3T:2T proportion and a pinch of
dry mustard, with salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste.
Beverages Crushed Peppermint Magic Crush a package of red spiral peppermints with a
rolling pin between waxed paper (we like Brach‘s mints). Keep them in an air-tight
jar. Then, use them to apply a touch of holiday flavor to ice cream, the rims of hot
chocolate mugs, cupcake icing, vanilla yogurt...whatever strikes your fancy. It‘s as
if the Good Peppermint Fairy touched her wand to make things a bit more special.
Condiments veryday Yummies While many people search high and low for one Very
Special Gift, there‘s often nothing better to give food-lovers than the most
delicious versions of everyday products they really enjoy. The best gourmet
peanut butters, jams, chocolate bars, maple syrups, teas or mustards, e.g., are
treats that recipients can appreciate every day of the year—and they‘ll think of you
with every delicious bite or sip. Put together a selection of the best in a gift box. In
addition to the foods, your gift will be the joy of discovery.
Fruits Exotic Fruit-Of-The-Month Club Dragonfruit, Korean pears, pomegranates and
cinnamon persimmons are just four fruits in season now that most people have
never tried. Others, like cherimoya, jackfruit and coquitos, are available year-
round. You can give these fruits as gifts (at Melissas.com). But give them to your
own household, too. Pick a specific day of the month—the first Monday, the third
Sunday, e.g.—to be Exotic Fruit Day in your home. Have your featured fruit for
dessert or at brunch, experience different tastes and build your knowledge base.
If there‘s no market in your town that specializes in exotic produce, Melissas.com
19 is happy to oblige.
Candy Peppermint Patties If you love peppermint patties, making them at home is
easy. Combine 1 lb. confectioner‘ssugar, 3 T softened butter, 3 tsp. peppermint
extract and 1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract. Mix in 1/4 cup evaporated milk. Roll into 1-
inch balls, place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet and chill for 20 minutes.
Next, flatten with the bottom of a glass to 1/4" thick, so they look like peppermint
patties. Now prepare the chocolate coating in a double boiler: 12 ounces of good-
quality semisweet chocolate (you can use chocolate morsels, but the key is to get
the best-tasting chocolate you can find, like Guittard or Valrhona) with 2 T
shortening. Dip the patties and place them back on the waxed paper to harden. If
you want to go all-out, you can decorate the tops of the patties with candied mint
leaves: Dip tiny leaves or cut pieces of leaf and crystalize in sugar syrup. Makes
about 5 dozen peppermint patties. Be sure to make extra for friends and
family—these are so good, you‘ll want to eat the whole batch.
Beverages Dessert Tree Use a small artificial Christmas tree to create a ―dessert tree‖
centerpiece. Hang edible ornament cookies, fudge, petit fours, mint patties and
other treats. The easiest technique is to tie cellophane-wrapped treats with ribbon
and hang them on the tree with ornament hooks; but it makes an even prettier
presentation if you cut pliable pieces of clear plastic from the craft store, punch
holes for the hooks, and ―glue‖ the treats to them with a paste of confectioners
Magazines Wine & Beer Make a gift of a wine-tasting course or a home microbrewery kit
even better: give it in tandem with a subscription to a relevant magazine (we love
Robert Parker‘s Wine Advocate—subscribe at eRobertParker.com). The recipient
will enjoy being able to build on his or her new expertise on an ongoing basis.
Desserts Holiday Shortcake Use your cookie cutters to make a special holiday
―shortcake.‖ Slice regular or chocolate pound cake into 1/2"-3/4" slices and use
cookie cutters to cut shapes into the cake—trees and stars are especially nice.
Top with vanilla, mint or candy cane ice cream, fresh strawberries and mint
leaves, drizzled with chocolate sauce if you like. Use heart cookie cutters and
other theme shapes to make these special (and easy) desserts for every holiday.
If the cake isn‘t dense, you may have to toast it lightly in order to cut out the
shapes—but toasted cake is just as delicious.
Desserts Alcohol-Free Cocktail Instead of relegating non-drinking guests to an evening
of mineral water, create a special alcohol-free cocktail menu to make their
evening more festive. One option is a ―Great Wall,‖ a combination of brewed
jasmine tea and ginger ale. Brew a pot of jasmine tea and cool it in a pitcher like
iced tea (1 teaspoon of tea per 2/3 cup water). Then mix 2/3 cup tea in a tall
glass with 2/3 regular or diet ginger ale, ice, and a twist of lemon. This special
drink will make your guest feel special, too...and is a good option for guests
24 who‘ve had their second or third regular cocktail.
BreadstuffsToasty Panettone Did you get a Panettone for Christmas? Panettone is the
Italian version of fruitcake, very popular at Christmas. it‘s a fluffy, sweet yeast
bread dotted with raisins, candied lemon and orange peel. The classic
accompaniment is a sweet hot beverage or a sweet wine such as spumante or
moscato—any dessert wine will do. Some Italians add a side of crema di
mascarpone, a cream made from mascarpone cheese, eggs, and Amaretto (or
substitute zabaglione). If you have more panettone than you can enjoy, cut it into
slices and freeze it: after seconds in the microwave, it‘s deliciously warm and
fluffy again. We enjoy it toasted—buttered for breakfast or made into a luxurious
piece of French toast, or for dessert a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Merry
Beverages Deluxe Hot Chocolate We love those luxury, super-rich hot chocolates that can
cost up to $25 a box. Some are simply chopped up bits of fine chocolate, so you
can make your own for far less money by chopping up a good chocolate bar.
Combine 1 ounce (3 tablespoons) of chopped chocolate with 1 ounce of whole
milk in mug. Microwave for 30 seconds and whisk thoroughly to blend. Add
another 6 ounces of milk, stir, and heat for 60 seconds. You can use any
chocolate: dark, milk, or white, including flavored bars (or add a dash of
cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, and chili powder for ―Aztec‖ hot chocolate). You can
use chocolate morsels, but the key is, the finer the chocolate, the more delicious
the drink. For a richer beverage, don‘t use cream: The secret is to add a
tablespoon of sweet butter to the milk before you heat it. Don‘t try to make luxury
hot chocolate with 2% or fat-free milk: The purpose is to enjoy a sumptuous
beverage. If you‘re cutting back, sugar-free ―diet‖ cocoas are the best route,
topped off with some whole milk. Click here to read our reviews of the best diet
Alcohol Flaming Eggnog We ring in the New Year with Champagne. But before the
clock strikes midnight, you can dazzle guests with flaming eggnog. Make or buy
the nog (if you purchase it, spice it up with 1-1/2 ounces of spiced rum per 4
ounces of nog). Chill and pour into a martini glass if you don‘t have traditional
glass cups. The key to flaming is 150-proof rum (different from the spiced rum, or
the 80-proof rum most people have in the house). Float half an ounce of this high-
proof rum on top of the nog. Grind fresh nutmeg to garnish. Ignite the drink in
front of the guest, using a long wooden fireplace match. It‘s holiday magic! Click
here to find eggnog recipes.
Hors Deviled Deluxe If you‘re making deviled eggs, serve them in flavors. Fresh dill,
curry, infused tobiko roes and wasabi are popular choices. Just divide the
mashed yolks mixture after you‘ve added the binder (mayo, dijon, sour cream)
and salt. But filling the eggs—even just one flavor—can be a devilish chore.
Instead of struggling to spoon in the filling, do what caterers do and put it in a
Ziploc-type bag. Cut off a corner of the bag and simply squeeze the filling into the
egg whites. Now that you know the easy way, here are more favorite flavors to try:
bacon (―bacon and eggs‖), chopped chives, chutney, crab, crumbled blue cheese,
jalapeño, kalamata olives, lemon herb and smoked salmon. Click here for a
28 caviar deviled egg recipe.
Seasonings Nuts for Nutmeg Just as freshly-ground pepper bears no resemblance to the
bland, pre-ground powder, freshly-ground nutmeg is a vibrant spice that perks up
sweet and savory dishes alike. We use it to flavor apples and other seasonal
fruits (pies, compotes, sautéed sliced fruit), to make cookies and pastries and in
custards. We love it in egg dishes and vegetable purées. It‘s our favorite
seasoning with spinach in any form, and on pasta with broccoli rabe. For
beverages, use it in addition to (or instead of) cinnamon on hot chocolate, coffee,
cappuccino, mulled cider, warm milk, cold milk, chocolate milk and of course,
eggnog! While some cooks grate the whole nutmeg against a fine plane kitchen
grater, we value our skin and use a nutmeg grinder or mill—the same principle as
a peppermill, but accommodating the larger nutmeg, which is the size of an
unshelled hazelnut. If you‘ve had the nutmeg for several years, you can check the
quality by piercing it with a needle. If the skin pierces slightly and a drop of oil
flows out, the nut is still fresh. If the skin won‘t pierce, it‘s dried out. Click here to
see how to check your other spices for freshness. By the way, mace is the milder-
tasting dried hull of the nutmeg—the part you peel off to get to the nut, and the
nutmeg is the nut of a tree fruit.
General New Year‟s Plan You can spend more time with friends and family in the New
Year by entertaining more often and more easily. Don‘t focus on a formal event
that takes time to plan and costs a lot of money. Think casual, and simply set
aside 2 hours a month to catch up with people you don‘t see often enough, or with
those you‘ve met but haven‘t had the chance to see again. Make it a regular
event and set aside the second Friday evening or third Sunday afternoon of the
month, for example. Invite 4 to 8 people over for a mini-tasting: Try different teas,
mineral waters, Spanish cheeses, single-origin chocolate bars—whatever you‘d
like to learn more about. The group will enjoy mixing and discovering new
specialty foods; small groups are easier and less expensive to manage and
guests mix more easily. THE NIBBLE is full of ideas—almost every food category
section has suggestions for tastings. Click here to see our Main Nibbles index of
Books A Bubbly Book Today is National Champagne Day. Most people bring a bottle
of Champagne as a gift to New Year‘s Eve parties. Add a book about
Champagne, and your gift will be remembered long after the bubbles are gone.
Click here to see one of our favorites. Happy New Year from all of us at THE
By Date URL
KH 3 http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/diet/beverages/diet-egg-nog.asp
Drink The ―Red Carpet‖ You may not be able to walk the Red Carpet on Oscar
night, but you can drink it with this recipe from Eben Klemm, mixologist for the
B.R. Guest group of restaurants. Combine 1 ounce peach vodka, 1 ounce
cognac, ½ ounce peach schnapps, 1 ounce blood orange juice (click here for our
review of Italian Volcano Blood Orange Juice). Shake, strain and serve up. Eben
puts a drop of edible 24 karat gold glitter on surface for extra Oscar Sparkle.
These ―Red Carpets‖ are so good, you won‘t care if your favorites win or not.
Alcohol Improving Bad Bubbly If you open a bottle of sparkling wine and find it‘s not
too your liking, there‘s no need to drink bitter or too-dry bubbly. Add a bit of
Framboise—raspberry liqueur—and create Kir Royale. Pour an inch of the
liqueur into a flute or other wine glass, then add the Champagne or other
sparkler. White wine with Framboise makes a regular Kir, so use this trick to turn
so-so white wine into a festive party drink. If you don‘t have Framboise, you can
use any fruit liqueur, although framboise and sparkling wine are especially
magical together—and the pastel purple color is perfect for Easter.
Alcohol Saké Sangria A fusion update, perfect for a barbecue or an afternoon break,
this recipe is courtesy of Riingo, a Japanese fusion restaurant in New York City.
As with vodka, you can infuse saké with any fruit by steeping it for 2 to 3 weeks
in a jar with fresh and/or dried fruit (we infused pear—keep the jar airtight in a
cool, dark place, then decant the saké into the original bottle). For one cocktail,
combine 2 oz rosé wine, 1-1/2 oz nfused saké, 1/2 oz peach liqueur, 1
tablespoon mixed fresh fruit ( apples, blood oranges, blueberries), a splash of
pomegranate juice, a splash of orange juice. Place ice cubes and fruit in large
wine glass. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and enjoy! Click here to see
interesting cocktail recipes.
Watermelon Martini Celebrate the end of summer with this delightful cocktail.
Combine one part vodka (or citrus vodka) to 1-1/2 parts puréed watermelon.
Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with
a sprig of mint. You also can keep pitted watermelon cubes in the freezer to
purée or mix in a blender for a frozen-style drink. If you don‘t have watermelon,
try a variation with 1 part vodka and 1/2 part DeKuyper Pucker Watermelon
Schnapps—handy during the months when there‘s no fresh watermelon to be
had. When there is, you can use this recipe and add some crushed fresh
Alcohol watermelon. Click here for more cocktail recipes.
Iced Tea With A Kick Instead of adding a simple squeeze of lemon to your iced
tea, try lemon or orange liquer. Start with a teaspoon in an 8-ounce glass and
add more to taste. While you can create a tea-based cocktail with a shot of
liqueur, using a smaller amount creates iced tea with nuanced flavors. Add a
Beverages slice of fresh lemon or orange to garnish.
Juice Course Think presentation and turn a glass of juice into a mini-course. All
you need is the right juice (fresh-squeezed blood orange juice, mangosteen, your
own blend of pear and apricot nectars spiced with a cinnamon stick, or
something savory like tomato and key lime with a fennel spear), a spiffy glass, a
Beverages service plate and a cocktail napkin.
Spicy Lemonade Flavor your all-American lemonades with your favorite exotic
spices: ginger, cardamom, clove. After making fresh lemonade, mix in powdered
spices to taste. Start with a teaspoon per quart and let the spice blend into the
chilled lemonade for an hour or two before tasting and adjusting to your
preferred strength. Instead, you can infuse fresh slices of ginger and whole
cloves, chiles, cardamom, etc. We hope you like these ―spicy lemonades‖ as
Beverages much as we do. Click here for more beverage ideas.
Lemon Cucumber Water Who needs bottled water—serve your guests an
elegant pitcher of lemon cucumber water, evoking centuries past. In a two-quart
pitcher, cut half a cucumber into 1/8" slices (it it‘s a waxed cucumber, use a
carrot peeler to remove most of the waxy peel before slicing, but leave some
peel to form decorative ―stripes.‖ Cut a lemon or lime in 1/8" slices, removing
seeds. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more to let the flavors infuse. We drink a quart
of this daily. You can re-infuse the cucumbers and lemon for a second
time—although you‘ll get a lighter infusion—and can enjoy the cucumbers as
Beverages crudités or in a salad. Click here for more information about water.
Less Bitter Coffee The level of bitterness in coffee is a result of the bean
variety, how it is processed and roasted, the brewing method, temperature and
the chemical content of the water. If you‘d like a less bitter cup, here are some
tips from the Coffee Research Institute: Buy a medium-roast arabica coffee,
brew using a drip system and try a coarser grind. Don‘t use distilled water: While
logic might say it makes better coffee, hard and soft water have chemicals that
Beverages cancel out the bitterness. Click here for lots more information about coffee.
Beverages Peppermint Stick & Candy Stick Stirrers We can think of no better way to
celebrate National Chocolate Mint Day than stirring a sweet peppermint stick into
a rich cup of cocoa (coffee works fabulously as well). Give a quick stir for just a
hint of extra flavor (and eat the candy on the side), or leave the stick in to melt
completely. And although peppermint is especially suitable today, a variety of
flavors awaits you: butterscotch, rum, raspberry, and other beautiful candy sticks
are available year-round in specialty food stores and candy shops.
Beverages Syrup Sensations Flavored sweeteners and syrups can add dimension to the
entire span of hot and cold beverages. Become a mixologist: mix and match
flavors in coffees, teas, diet cocoas, club sodas, diet sodas. Read recipes for
―full test‖ beverages and adapt the concepts to diet drinks. Or follow your
instincts and combine the flavors you enjoy.
When Life Gives You Lemons… Make lemonade! Why purchase inferior-
tasting premade lemonade or mixes, when it‘s so easy to make spectacular
homemade lemonade? This recipe makes 15 8-ounce glasses, and you can
adjust the sweetening (and use non-caloric sweetener). Combine in a pitcher
and mix thoroughly: 1.5 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6 large lemons
at room temperature—roll them on the counter before squeezeing to maximize
the juice output), 6 cups cold water and 1 cup of table sugar or equivalent (more
or less to taste). Ideally, chill the mixture so it will be cold and require less ice (or
no ice) to dilute the flavor. Slice one lemon into wheels for garnish, and cut
notches so they sit on rim of glasses. Other garnishes include fresh mint,
raspberries and/or strawberries, blueberries and watermelon cubes (you can fit a
straw through the larger fruit). Add ice to glasses and fill with lemonade and
Cocktails Bloody Mary Makeover Ditch that celery stick—add a pickled vegetable will
add more excitement to your Bloody Mary. Pick a dilly bean, pickled asparagus,
or go Southern and go okra. Read our review of Tillen Farms pickled vegetables.
Cocktails Watermelon Martini Combine one part vodka (or citrus vodka) to 1-1/2 parts
puréed watermelon juice. Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled
cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint, and serve. As a variation, we keep
diced watermelon cubes in the freezer, then shake with vodka and pour into the
glass. You can also try a variation with 1 part vodka and 1/2 part watermelon
Dekuyper Pucker Watermelon Sweet and Sour Schnapps—handy during the
months when fresh watermelon isn‘t available; when it is, add crushed fresh fruit
to the mix.
Beverages VisualiTea We love our porcelain tea cups and our pretty mugs, but the more
we drink fine tea Asian-stylerink tea in glass mugs or cups makes a big
difference in visual appreciation of this beautiful beverage.
Beverages Water-Tasting Party Want a great way to entertain adults and kids that‘s filling
and has no calories? Have a mineral water tasting—comparing domestic and
imported waters to your local tap and club soda. It can be a formal sit-down or a
walk-around event, open or ―blind,‖ where you mask the bottles in wine bags so
tasters aren‘t biased and you reveal the results at the end. You can taste up to
12 waters and a great time will be had by all. What should tasters look for? Click
here for our article, ―How To Evaluate Water.‖
Bread Bagel Garnish Dill is offten used to garnish a plate of smoked salmon—it‘s a
perfect pairing. So we tried snipping fresh dill our bagel with cream cheese and
smoked salmon. The verdict: amazing, the more dill, the better. The pretty,
fragrant herb also has a heap of health benefits. It has compounds that fight free
radicals, neutralize particular types of smoke carcinogens (such as those in
cigarette, charcoal grill and trash incinerators smoke) and act as an anti-
bacterial. It‘s also an excellent source of calcium, which prevents bone loss.
Pass the bagels! And click here to make them whole grain, organic bagels from
French Meadow Bakery.
Bread HALF & HALF. one turkey, one curried tuna
Cupcakes For Grown-Ups Cute as they are, cupcakes aren‘t just for kids.
With gifted bakers creating cupcake works of art, you can find cupcakes to fit
every mood from dramatic—like dark chocolate frosting with gold and silver
dragees—to whimsical colors and icing patterns, as well as thematic designs
matched to the theme of your dinner or event—like marzipan flowers or birds.
Cheese Champagne‟s Cheesy Side Looking for the perfect nibble to serve with the
champagne leftovers from your New Year's celebration? Go with a triple-crème
cheese. Sensual, creamy and rich (it contains a minimum of 75 percent butterfat
per gram, compared to a mere 60 percent for a double crème), it‘s de rigueur
with bubbly. A lush, ripe Boursault, Brillat-Savarin, Explorateur or Saint-Andre is
a an ideal pairing. Crackers are too rough for such a silky cheese: slice a
baguette, walnut bread, or semolina raisin bread.
Cheese CHEESE PLATE. For variety on your cheese plate, serve dried fruits and shelled
almonds, walnuts, and pecans in addition to fresh fruits.
Cheese Cheee Scraps What to do with those bits of cheese left over from the party
cheese board? Don‘t wrap them up and stash them away—plan some recipes to
use them up ASAP. Our favorites: fondue, cheese omelets, ―mixed grill‖ grilled
cheese sandwiches or quesao asado (baked cheese, but you can microwave it),
a dip for tortilla chips. Don‘t hesitate to mix up the cheese flavors—some of the
tastiest fondues are blends of four or five different cheeses.
Cheese Eating the Rind Soft white rinds on cheese—called bloomy rinds—are meant to
be eaten. If you‘ve been cutting them away, try them. Connoisseurs consider
them part of the unique character of the cheese. The Bloomy Rind category of
cheese refers to those cheeses with snowy white, downy rinds and soft, creamy
interiors. Along with the fresh cheeses, it comprises the Soft Cheese category.
The rind is composed of one of the greatest cheese molds, Penicillium
candidum, which grows naturally as the cheese ages. The rind is produced by
spraying the surface of the cheese with Penicillium candidum before the brief
aging period (about two weeks). The mold grows on the outside of the cheese,
breaking down the protein and fat inside, making it soft, runny and more
complex. Two of the most famous bloomy rind cheeses are Brie and
Camembert. Click here to learn the difference between Brie and Camembert.
Cheese Egg & Toast Cups Make breakfast special with easy ―toast cups‖ that you fill
with scrambled eggs. Preheat your oven to 400°F and melt a half stick of butter.
Flatten 12 slices of sandwich bread (white, wheat or both) with a rolling pin, and
cut 1-inch slits in each slice of bread, cutting from the corners towards the
center. Brush both sides of each slice lightly with melted butter. Carefully place
each slice into ungreased 12-cup muffin pan, overlapping the sides as needed to
line each cup of the pan and create your ―toast cups.‖ Bake for 8 to 10 minutes
or until lightly browned. Make eggs while the cups bake. Add small dice of ham,
bell peppers, onions and/or your other favorite ingredients to the scrambled egg
mix. Garnish with grated cheese curls, a halved graped tomato or olive slice.
Serve 2 or 3 cups per person. You can also oven-poach eggs in the cups.
Cheese Farmhouse Cheddar Americans tend to pair fine Cheddars with apples and
grapes. But these complex, full-flavored cheeses go well with a wide range of
accompaniements. Try fresh figs and dates. Or mostardo, glazed fruits in a
mustard sauce. In summer months, a sliced vine-ripened tomato drizzled with
sea salt, some celery stalks, cheddar and crusty bread make a lovely, light
lunch. Or, combine Cheddar with prosciutto, fruit chutney and fennel and raisin
bread or a crusty farmhouse loaf.
Cheese Gourmet Nachos Try a variation on your regular recipe by using blue and red
tortilla chips and adding some blue cheese or goat cheese along with a white
cheddar or other good white melting cheese. The Red, White and Blue theme is
especially festive for holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day. Click
here to read about our favorite tortilla chips.
Cheese Multi-Tasking Parmigiano Parmigiano-Reggiano is more than a great cheese
for pasta, pesto, risotto and Alfredo sauce. Shave it onto salads, put it on cheese
plates, enjoy it with a glass of hearty red wine. It loves to be paired with apples,
figs, grapes, kiwi, peaches, pears and walnuts. Italians enjoy it for dessert,
drizzled with a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar. Guests love large chunks of
the cheese with a variety dipping sauces—like pesto, garlicky tomato sauce,
olive tapenade, parsley sauce and fruit chutney—on individual plates, or on a
communal plate of skewers. Click here to learn more about this great cheese.
Cheese ONLINE SAVIOR. If you can‘t get the best selection of fine dairy products in your
area, don‘t worry. Many artisanal dairies and cheese makers have e-commerce
capabilities and can send their products to gourmets everywhere. If you‘re well-
provisioned, think of sending gifts to foodie friends living in non-foodie-focused
Cheese Skinny Cheese Course You needed serve a huge cheese course with 3 or
more selections and everyone helping himself to half a pound of cheese. A
―skinny‖ cheese course, of just a small sliceof one or two lovely cheeses, will
suffice. You can drizzle a slender chunk of parmigiano-reggiano with some fine
balsamic and a small frisee salad; or your favorite blue with a wild honey
condiment. Read our Cheese Condiments article for more ideas.
Cheese Storing Cheese The finest cheese is made on a farm or creamery, where it is
stored in a cool, damp environment. So keep it in the warmest part of the
refrigerator: usually the top shelf unless it there is a top a freezer compartment,
in which case use the vegetable bin at the bottom. If it‘s kept too cold, the
cheese will lose flavor. Except for aged, dry cheeses, most cheeses should be
wrapped in parchment, not plastic, so they can breathe. Of course, the best tip is
to buy only what you need. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator and let
stand at rom temperature for two hours (or a minimum of one hour) prior to
serving, to allow the full range of flavors to emerge.
Cheese Summer Cheese Course Looking for a new cheese to try this summer? Try
light, lemony Caerphilly, a relative of ___.
Cheese THE NOUVELLE CHEESE COURSE. Your cheese course doesn‘t always have
to be a plate of cheeses. Consider individual buttons or small crottins of chevre
with a small salad (our a gourmet novelty like David Burke‘s goat cheese
lollipops—see the Cheese section of our Food Files.
Cheese Truffled Eggs For a special occasion, it‘s easy to make a ―fancy‖ restaurant
dish like truffled scrambled eggs. Add an ounce of buttermilk for each egg and
scrambles them in truffle butter (click here for a review of our favorite). If you
can‘t find truffle butter, scramble in equal parts olive oil and truffle oil. Garnish
with finely snipped parsley, and serve with lardons of bacon and a 1" or 2"
toasted baguette ―crouton― spread with garlic butter.
Chesse Yogurt Parfaits. If you have parfait or sundae dishes, use them to enjoy your
yogurt, granola and fruit salad instead of piling the ingredients into a regular
bowl. Layer the ingredients for an attractive visual presentation. Bordeaux
goblets and tall glasses also do the trick—use iced tea spoons to scoop down
into tall glasses.
Christmas Chocolate Treats If you have friends who love chocolate, seek out new and
unusual gifts—like chocolates from great chocolatiers in other cities, or specialty
items from local shops. Like finding a book or a CD in someone‘s area of
interest, you may well introduce them to something they‘ll treasure for years to
Christmas Holiday Cookie Swap.
Cinco de Mayo
Guac Rock Make an eye-opening guacamole: add diced mango to your regular
recipe. If you‘re concerned about mixing it it, add the mango to the perimeter of
the bowl, and dippers can scoop it up or not.
Condiments Condiment Sauces Mix condiments with nonfat yogurt to create tasty, low-
calorie, creamy dressings, dips and sauces. While flavored mustards, chutneys,
pestos, salsas, et cetera are great flavor-enhancers by themselves, transforming
them into a creamy sauce adds versatility to your dishes. Using nonfat yogurt
adds few calories compared with cream or sour cream. However, yogurt will
separate when heated, so if you want a warm sauce, have the yogurt at room
temperature and warm it ever-so-slightly.
Condiments Flavored Mustards Flavored mustards can transform a dish, adding intense
notes of tarragon, basil, Roquefort or lemon to sandwiches, potato, tuna and egg
salads, vinaigrettes, dips, meats, vegetables and more. Think of classic Dijon as
basic vanilla, and start to expand your mustard horizons. As a bonus, they‘re
extremely low in calories, too. Click here to read more about mustard in our
Condiments In A Jam? A jar of good jam in your pantry can help out in many ways. Fig and
cherry jams make good condiments for pork and poultry; and can be whisked
into sauces and glazes. Most jams make delicious fillings for breakfast or
dessert crepes, or toppings for pancakes and waffles (add some some crème
fraiche or mascarpone make for an elegant touch—or sour cream or sweetened
plain yogurt in a pinch). Pair goat cheese and Brie with blackberry or other
preserves. The key is to purchase top-quality jams and preserves—the kind that
are made with the lowest percentage of sugar, so that you‘re enjoying the fruit
flavor and not a mouthful of cloying sugar. Click here to see our favorites in our
Jam & Jelly Section.
Cookies Cookie Dough Party On some lists, cookie dough ice cream is America‘s 4th
favorite flavor after vanilla, chocolate and butter pecan. Treat your guests to a
special cookie dough ice cream desert: let them mix and match their favorite
flavors of ice cream with different flavors of cookie dough. Buy pre-made logs of
chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter, et al, cut them into cubes, and set out the
bowls of cubes as well as containers of ice cream so people can make their own
fantasy cookie dough mixes.
Cookies Refreshed Cookies Make your cookies taste good-as-fresh by microwaving
them for five seconds before serving.
Christmas Holiday Guacamole For a red and green holiday look, sprinkle pomeganate
seeds (arils) on top of the guacamole. You‘ll need about 1-1/2 tablespoons per
avocado. If you don‘t have a favorite guacamole recipe, here‘s a simple one:
mash 1 large, ripe avocado, 1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, seasoned
with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Add salt and peper to taste. Serve with
toasted pita chips, a switch from tortilla cips. You can toast the pita by brushing
with oil, sprinkling with oregano and broiling until the top turns golden. Recipe
Desserts Adult Rice Pudding Add a lift to your rice pudding by soaking the raisins in
Armangac or other favorite liqueur. Add a medley of dried fruits beyond the
raisins: blueberries, cheries, cranberries, currants and Sultanas (golden raisins).
Try a different rice—elegant, long-grained basmati and jasmine or short, oval
arborio (used for risotto). Use coconut milk with black rice or red rice for
something even more exotic.
Desserts Mad For Mascarpone For a simple yet unforgettable dessert, serve
mascarpone with fruit and biscuits. Mascarpone, called ―Italian cream cheese‖
(but so much more elegant than cream cheese), is cousin to the British clotted
cream. Thick, rich and luscious, it is wonderful served with ginger snaps and
strawberries, or as a topping for fresh berries, poached fruit or compote. It
makes a divine filling for ―cookie sandwiches.‖ Use it to stuff figs, dates or dried
apricots. Or, fill tart shells and top with fresh or dried fruit. In just a few minutes,
you have something heavenly.
Desserts Nuts For Chestnut Desserts Don‘t wait for chesnuts roasting on an open
fire…enjoy them for dessert. Buy cooked, peeled chestnuts in vacuum packs or
jars that are ready to use, in ice cream, cakes, cookies and tarts. Click here for a
recipe for Mont Blanc, the great, classic chestnut desserrt.
Desserts Dessert Composée Make your dessert plates look as attractive as those at fine
restaurants. Just employ a few garnishing tricks of the trade: sprinkle finely
chopped pistachios or colored party sugar on the plate, add a fruit or herb
garnish (a strawberry, a lemon peel curl, a rosemary or mint sprig for decor) and
a small, interesting cookie. If you‘re serving a sauce (raspberry, chocolate or
caramel, e.g.), first put it in a squeeze bottle, pastry bag or Ziploc-type bag with a
cut-off corner and create a zigzag pattern on the bare plate (sometimes, the
sauce looks better on top of the dessert). Or, using a medicine dropper, create
an attractive circle of dots around the border of the plate. Click here for more
Desserts Drunken Fruit As part of a dessert course, as a ―palate cleanser‖ between a
meat course and a very sweet dessert, or as a finale before after-dinner drinks,
serve a small glass of mixed colored grapes or cherries (in season), soaking in
Myers‘s Rum, a dark, mellow rum. Serve the fruit in small snifters, demitasse
cups, sake cups, jiggers or anything that looks good. Use a citrus drink rimmer
to decorate the glass rims for an even snazzier effect. If you have cocktail picks
or small lobster picks, use them to spear the fruit; otherwise toothpicks are fine.
Yes, you get to drink the rum too! Click here for more dessert ideas.
Desserts End Dinner With Chocolate Cups An easy, light, and elegant dessert at the
end of a sumptuous dinner is a simple scoop of ice cream in a molded chocolate
cup. Garnish with a berry and a mint sprig, and you've got a crowd-pleaser. You
can find chocolate cups at specialty food and baking supply stores;
NiftyFoods.com has a broad selection. Meringue cups can substitute for the
chocolate variety and are available at most French bakeries.
Desserts Goat Cheese Goat cream cheese combined with fruit is a classic French
dessert. Mild, soft goat cheese pair well with raspberry mousse, berries, and
exotic fruits. Try mango with a goat cream cheese or pineapple with a Chabicou
Desserts Grilled Fruit If you‘ve got that grill fired up for burgers, chickens, fish and corn,
grill up some dessert as well. Grilled peaches and plums are delicious for
dieters, and great on top of ice cream or frozen yogurt for those who care to
indulge. Serve them with vanilla or a fruit-flavored ice cream.
Desserts Gold Glitter Add some excitement to your desserts with edible gold glitter. Real
24 karat gold leaf glitter is pricy, at $75 a gram, but we found sparkly gold glitter
for just $4.89 (click here to buy it). Perfect for Mother‘s Day cakes and cocktails.
Desserts Homemade Chocolate Syrup Make delicous chocolate syrup by mixing 1/4
cup gourmet hot chocolate or cocoa mix with 1/4 cup boiling water. Whisk until
smooth. Depending on the sugar content of your mix, adjust sweetness (you also
can add cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, chile, allspice, pepper and other spices). Use
the syrup in beverages or to garnish desserts, dessert plates
Desserts ICE CREAM BON BONS. These are so good, it's hard not to eat them all during
preparation. You‘ll need to buy candy
Desserts Ice Cream Wrap If you won‘t be polishing off that pint in a day or two, store your
ice cream ―airtight‖ with a layer of plastic wrap pressed onto the surface (not just
over the top of the container, but actually pressed onto the ice cream itself. This
prevents ice crystals from forming.
Desserts It‟s a Wrap (Dessert, That Is) Sandwich wraps have swept the country by
storm: Instead of two slices of bread, many people prefer to roll their favorite
sandwich fixings in a large tortilla. You can roll dessert fillings in the same
manner to make a dessert wrap: sweetened ricotta with chocolate shavings
(instead of a cannoli), bananas, fruit salad and yogurt. There are even flavored
dessert tortillas: Tumaro‘s makes Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate, and Pineapple.
Click here for our review or Tumaro‘s, which leads to some recipes for dessert
Desserts Mock Strawberry Shortcake With cookies from Starr Ridge
Desserts Serving Sorbet Sorbet is a popular, easy, light and low-calorie dessert. The
only challenge is that if you‘re serving a table full of people, the first dishes can
start to melt while you‘re still scooping. The solution: Scoop the balls in advance,
onto a tray, cookie sheet or plate covered in waxed paper. When you‘re ready to
serve, just plop them into the dish or—for a special presentation—into a wine
goblet. We like to serve three scoops, and pick flavors with contrasting colors.
Add a crisp, elegant cookie or shortbread to the service plate.
Diet Simple, Elegant, Healthy! For a special, flavorful yet low-calorie and healthy
appetizer, slice blocks of soft Japanese tofu and sprinkle them with toasted black
sesame seeds, soy sauce and nori flakes. For even more flavor, add bonito
flakes. Arrange on a large platter and let guests help themselves, or serve
individual plates with two slices (the tofu looks especially beautiful on Asian-style
dishes). If your regular supermarket doesn‘t have an Asian products section, buy
nori and bonito flakes at an Asian grocer. As with any condiment, a good brand
of soy sauce makes a big difference. Click here for our review of the best.
Diet Diet Dressing Tasting. If your food plan includes low-calorie salads, remember
that regular salad dressings can zero-out the calorie savings. There are
countless diet dressings out there: the good, the O.K., and the not-so-great. If
you don‘t like spending money on bottle after bottle trying to find ones that are
good, turn your search into a ―tasting party.‖ Invite friends over for a salad lunch
or dinner and taste ten or more different diet dressings at once. You‘ll discover
new products, and get your friends together for a good time, too. You can assign
everyone to bring a different interesting "salad bar‖ item, too.
Diet Fruit Snack Cut melon and stone fruits into small chunks and freeze in snack-
size ziploc bags with berries and grapes. When you need a grab-and-go snack,
grab a back of frozen fruit. By the time you get into the car, your fruit will be
frozen and ready to eat.
Easter Easter Buffet
If you make a sit-down Easter dinner, think about having a buffet this year.
Setting everything out at once and letting people serve themselves gives you
more time to spend with your guests. Put the food on a sideboard and seat
guests at the main table, or set food on the main table and have a lap-style
seating around the sofa or wherever guests want to group and talk. If it‘s a nice
day and you have a yard, some people may enjoy dining alfresco.
Easter Easter Wine
Pour something special to talk about with Easter dinner, like Lachryma Christi
(―Tears of Christ‖) or Saint Joseph ―Offerus‖ from Jean Louis Chave. It comes
from France‘s great Rhone appellation named after Joseph of Arimathea, who
donated his own prepared tomb for the burial of Jesus after the crucifixion. Both
wines are delicious and can precipitate a dinner table discussion about the
meaning of Easter. Click here for our review.
Easter Gourmet Marshmallows
Marshmallow Peeps® are an Easter tradition in many homes; but if your palate
demands the best, you deserve a marshmallow that tastes out of this world. The
marshmallows handmade by the great Belgian chocolatier Pierre Marcolini are
an ethereal experience. They‘re available plain or with chocolate sprinkles from
MarcoliniChocolatier.com. You‘ll never look at a marshmallow the same way
Easter Lime, not Lemon
Easter Scored Hams
Easter Sorbet Easter Eggs For a quick and delicious dessert, scoop sorbet in three
Easter colors (orange or mango, raspberry or strawberry and lime or kiwi, for
example) into oblong-shaped ―Easter eggs.‖ Shape the sorbet into egg shapes
(use plastic gloves or put your hands in thin plastic bags from the produce
section) and let them freeze hard, on a tray covered with plastic wrap, until
serving time. Put one ―egg‖ of each color on a plate and sprinkle with jelly beans.
(You can create a ―nest‖ of lettuce cups.) You can do the same with ice cream or
frozen yogurt, but it‘s harder to find three bright colors. Serve with tiny cookies,
like Byrd‘s Key Lime Coolers and Razzberry Tarts (click here for our review).
Eggs Egg-cellent To make fluffier scrambled eggs, add up to 5 teaspoons of milk per
egg. As the eggs cook, the milk turns into steam, puffing up the eggs.
Egg “Taco” Eggs Instead of taco shells, fill an omelet with traditional taco fixings
and top it with salsa, low-fat sour cream or guacamole. Or roll up scrambled
eggs and fajita vegetables in a tortilla and make your own ―breakfast burrito.‖
Eggs That‟s No Yolk If you have egg yolks that you won‘t be using immediately, they‘ll
keep longer if you store them under a layer of water or milk. Drain off the liquid
before using. You can freeze them too, but you need to keep them from drying
out by adding the equivalent of a teaspoon of salt per pint or a tablespoon of
sugar or honey. (Tip within a tip: freeze individual yolks in ice cube trays; when
frozen, remove and store them in Ziploc bags.) What can you do with your
yolks? Make hollandaise, aioli or other sauces (you can use them to enrich
sauces that don‘t call for yolks), creme brulee, mousse, zabaglione.
Desserts Yogurt Parfait Make a healthy ―yogurt parfait‖ dessert or snack by putting your
favorite flavored yogurt in a pretty dish and topping with 2 tablespoons of
crumbled cookies that pair well with the flavor. The cookies add sweetness,
flavor and crunch, and using yogut as a base provides six grams of protein per
serving—more than most desserts bring to the table. YoCrunch makes a similar
product with candiy mix-ins. Click here for our review.
Home Zone The Difference A Dish Makes You know that gifts look better when they‘re
wrapped in something exciting. It‘s the same with food, but the ―wrapping‖ is the
dishes and garniture. The finest restaurants match the plate to the food being
served. Buy dinner plates in solid colors or versatile patterns and find smaller
plates in rectangular and square shapes for first courses and desserts. Find an
artistic garnish for each plate—a few strands of chive, a squash blossom, even a
bright red chili pepper (with an announcement that it‘s just there for design). If
you‘re artistic, there are books on vegetable garniture where you can indulge
your talent for carving to create edible masterpieces for each plate.
PRODUCT DISCONTINUED?Passionate Caviar What‘s our favorite Valentine
gift? We love chocolates, but we must give top honors to Grand Passion Caviar.
Trust caviar pioneer Collins Caviar to keep pushing the envelope by creating a
―dessert caviar.‖ Whitefish caviar is rinsed free of its curing salt, then sweetened
with fresh passion fruit and orange juices and a heady splash of passion fruit-
infused Armagnac liqueur. Serve it with blini or dessert crepes and whipped
cream. It‘s an evening of ―passion‖ you‘ll remember. Available at Mackenzie
Limited, it won‘t break the bank: 3.5 ounces are $34.95. Click here to purchase.
Fruit Pomegranate Pound Cake November is National Pomegranate Month, which
reminds us that adding a few arils (pomegranate seeds) perks up any dish. Take
a simple pound cake and garnish slices with arils, mint leaves and whipped
cream. You‘ll need a cup of arils per pound cake. Sprinkle arils over the pound
cake, serve with a side of whipped cream, garnished with a sprig of fresh ming.
You also should sprinkle arils over fruit salad.
Fruit Juicy Tip Double the amount of juice you get from a lemon or lime with these
tips: (1) The citrus should be at room temperature. (2) Roll it on the counter,
applying firm pressure with your hand. (3) Microwave it for 15 seconds. Each of
these releases more juice from the sacs.
Organic Zest If you‘re zesting lemons or oranges for a recipe, buy organic fruit
if you can. Conventional citrus crops are heavily sprayed with pesticides and a
simple rinse won‘t dislodge all of it from the nooks and crannies of citrus rinds/
General CABINET OF MAGIC TRICKS. Never be caught empty-handed when guests
arrive unexpectedly, or there‘s a snafu with a planned course. Keep a cabinet of
―magic tricks‖ that will pull a rabbit out of the hat no matter what the meal. See
our article under Product Reviews > Main Nibbles.
General Food Book of the Month Club New householders, cooks and younger folk just
learning to appreciate cuisine may prefer a cookbook or food book ―club‖ gift
instead of apparel or another traditional gift. Not only will they thank you every
month when their new selection arrives—you may even benefit from what they
learn! You can enroll them in existing food book clubs, or make arrangements
for custom selections at your local book store.
General Tidy Up Our shelves are packed with magazines that we can't bear to part with
because they are filled with so many great recipes and guides. In order to help
with the clutter, many magazines put out a yearly compilation of the recipes that
appeared in the magazine. At the end of each year, we replace our stack with a
beautiful new book and enjoy looking at a clean shelf—for a little while. Recycle
the old magazines by giving them to food-loving friends or a local community
Gifts A Buffet of Buffet. A fab foodie gift with no calories is anything by Maui
painter Guy Buffet. His chef, waiter, and food-themed paintings end up on
menswear from shirts to ties to shoes. There‘s an occasional piece of
womenswear, plus pillows and housewares like rapid-ice coolers. Or get a print
or poster for the wall (if you can‘t buy the originals, that is).
Honey Gourmet Flavored Sugars You can buy fancy sugars, or make them yourself.
Just store sugar in an airtight container with a vanilla bean, lemon peel or a tea
ball of culinary lavender. The sugar will absorb the scent and add an extra
dimension of flavor to iced tea, cereal and other foods that get a sprinkle of table
sugar. You can re-use the vanilla pod and lavender for other applications. Click
here for our sugar glossary and discover some types of sugars you may not yet
Honey Honey Julep When there‘s just a bit of honey left in the jar, fill it halfway with hot
water, put the cap on and shake until the honey is dissolved. Pour the ―honey
water‖ over ice, add liberal amounts of fresh-squeezed lime juice and add a sprig
of fresh mint. This tip comes from our friends at Savannah Bee Company. Click
here to read our review of their delicious honeys.
Honey Honey Sticks A fun and tidy way to serve honey is in honey sticks, plastic
straws filled with the sweet, sticky stuff. It‘s easy to dispense single servings to
guests who want honey in their tea or on biscuits. Some companies have
flavored honey sticks as well (chai, raspberry, peppermint, cinnamon); and Stash
Tea has a sampler with mixed flavors—click here to purchase.
Hors Diet Bruschetta Here‘s a way to enjoy delicious bruschetta flavor without the
carbs from those thick slabs of bread: Serve the bruschetta topping in hearts of
romaine or endive leaves. You can pre-fill the leaves or arrange them on a
platter with a bowl of bruschetta topping in the center and let guests help
themselves. To make the topping, seed and chop 2 large ripe tomatoes, (in a
pinch, buy canned chopped tomatoes), 1/2 cup finely-chopped fresh basil, 1/2
cup chopped black olives and 1 tablespoon capers. If you like, add 1 tablespoon
freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (if you‘re pre-filling the leaves, sprinkle the
cheese on top); if your crowd likes anchovies, add two, finely-chopped. Let the
flavors blend for an hour or more; taste and add salt and fresh-ground pepper, if
needed. Eat as many as you like! Click here to discover our favorite low-calorie
foods in the Diet Nibbles section.
Hors Easy Hors D‟Oeuvres When you‘re having guests for cocktails or dinner,
minimize your workload by making easy hors d‘oeuvre. If you want to serve
something more interesting than crudités and dip or a cheese board, e-mail
friends for their most impressive, easy hors d‘oeuvre recipes. Encourage your
friends to forward your e-mail to their friends, and offer to send the compiled
collection back to everyone who sends you a recipe. You‘ll end up with a great
Hors Savory Mascarpone Mascarpone, the thick and delicious ―Italian cream
cheese,‖ is the key ingredient in tiramisu and a favorite for topping berries. But it
has a savory application too, as a a cocktail spread. Blend it with mashed
anchovies, Dijon mustard and herbs to taste (rosemary, oregano) and serve it on
crackers or with crusty bread. Delicioso!
General Caviar Dreams The tiniest amount of caviar can turn something typical into a
special event. Just a few pearls of bright red salmon caviar on oysters, scallops,
smoked salmon rolls, stuffed or poached eggs, tea sandwiches, or baked,
roasted, or mashed potatoes confer the dazzle of a two-star kitchen. Sturgeon
caviar is wonderful; but you don‘t need to spring for Russian or even American
sturgeon. Paddlefish caviar is an attractive and tasty substitute, and there are a
dozen other caviars to grace your plates. Click here to go to our Caviar section
for information about different caviars and how to use them.
General Magic Tricks Read our ―Cabinet of Magic Tricks‖ article. For the rest of the
year—and all the years after—you‘ll never be caught empty-handed when guests
arrive unexpectedly, or there‘s a snafu with a planned course. You‘ll be able to
pull a rabbit out of the hat no matter what the meal. Click here to read the article.
Home Zone Separating Eggs If you don‘t have an egg separator or a chef‘s skill to separate
the whites from the yolks in their shells, break the eggs in a funnel. The whites
will fall through the chute, and the yolk will remain in the bowl of the funnel.
IndependenceBarbecue Banana S‟mores If you‘re planning a barbecue today, here‘s an easy
dessert: Split a banana down the middle and fill the center with mini
marshmallows and chocolate or peanut butter morsels. Wrap it in in foil,
punching a hole in the top for steam to escape. Allow five or more minutes on
the grill for the marshmallows and chocolate melt, remove and serve—with a
spoon! Click here for more dessert ideas.
Meat Foie Gras Burger A big hit at Chez Nibble is the foie gras "burger"—our guests'
favorite first course and so easy to make. Get small brioche rolls, cut thick slabs
of foie gras, sear briefly, and insert into the roll. We add a dab of spicy gourmet
ketchup, some frisée and grape tomatoes and a gherkin on the side. You can
serve fries (Alexia's gourmet frozen ones are easy to make), or William Poll
potato thins in eleven wonderful flavors. The new Moroccan flavor goes great
with foie gras burgers.
Meat Meaty Gift When the next gifting opportunity comes around and your friend or
loved one is a carnivore, consider a gift of organic beef. Even the burgers and
franks we‘ve had from Dakota Beef taste like they come from a superior species.
As for the rib-eyes, strip steaks and tenderloins...we hope someone we know
orders them and invites us! If there‘s no retailer in your area, click here to order
Meat Perfect Steak, No Grill You don‘t have to have an outdoor (or indoor) grill to
make a great steak. For two strips steaks or rib eyes (1-1/2" thick) or filet
mignons (2-1/2" thick): Remove steaks from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking,
and pat dry with a paper towel. Ten minutes before cooking, preheat oven to
400°F. heat a heavy, cast-iron skillet over medium high heat, until a few dros of
water evaporate within 3 seconds. Coat the bottom with 2 teaspons of
grapeseed or canola ol. Salt each steak with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and sear
for 2 minutes on each side, flipping once. Transfer steaks in pan to the oven for
8 to 9 minutes for medium-rare (125 to 135 °F). Remove and let rest under a
tent of aluminum foil for 5 minutes before serving.
Meat Love Me Tender Buttermilk and yogurt are natural meat tenderizers. Use them
to marinate poultry, lamb, even beef.
Mothers Day Still Need Mother's Day Gifts? If you still need gifts but don‘t have time to
shop, you can order online today and have them delivered to you or Mom(s)
before Sunday. Click here for our recommendations for delicious choices,
including sugar-free and non-edibles.
Oil OIL TRIAGE. Keep different grades of oil and vinegar for different purposes. For
example, basic* balsamic vinegar is slightly acidic and best used for salad
dressings. The next grade up is significantly smoother, and should be used for
ideal for finishing and for marinades. Trade up one more step and the balsamic
has a well rounded, full-bodied flavor, ideal to make warm sauces over meats
Oscar and fish. The top grade, made from the the best reserves, should itself be
Make a ―theme menu‖ for your Oscar party based on Best Picture nominees. If
you‘re rooting for ―Brokeback Mountain,‖ for example, serve jerky (click here for
our favorite from Gary West, plus serving ideas) chili, grilled steak, and biscuits.
"Good Night and Good Luck" lets you recall 1950‘s-era food: stuffed celery,
deviled eggs, punch bowls. ―Capote‖ traveled in sophisticated New York circles,
but was a southern boy at heart. There‘s fusion opportunity there!
Pasta Pasta and...Breadcrumbs? In southern Italy, toasted breadcrumbs, instead of
grated cheese, are often sprinkled over pasta tossed in extra-virgin olive oil. Buy
gourmet seasoned breadcrumbs or make your own. If you make them,
experiment with favorite seasonings. Garlic, parsley, lemon zest and parmesan
are classic; but you can try cayenne, chili, or other flavors you especially enjoy.
Also look for seasoned panko, the wonderful Japanese breadcrumbs. Why not
offer guests both breadcrumbs and grated cheese with their pasta—who says
you can't have both?
Pasta Pasta Décor Make your everyday dish of pasta look like a fine restaurant dish
with a bit of garnishing. After you plate the pasta and add the sauce, add some
ingredients to the plate that bring excitement with almost no calories. Exampes:
wedges of fresh tomato that complement the cooked sauce, fresh basil or
rosemary sprigs, arugula leaves, black olives, a few nuts (pine nuts, used to
make pesto, are small and decorative. Click here for a photo of what you can
create in minutes.
Pasta Pasta Sides Pasta is always a treat. It doesn‘t need to be a main course: serve
small portions of interesting-shaped pasta as a side dish. You can serve it in
ramekins or as pasta-stuffed peppers: Red, orange or yellow bell peppers make
especially attractive containers, and you can mix assorted colors of peppers at
the table. Roast peppers for 20 minutes to soften (you can do this step in
advance and then fill with hot pasta). Or, fill crunchy raw peppers with cold pasta
Pasta Smoked Pasta & Rice Pasta and rice can be elegantly flavored with tea, just by
adding a tea bag to the water. Lapsang souchong ads a wonderful smoky taste,
fruit tea bags add fruity taste (try pomegranate). Earl Grey gives a subtle taste of
bergamot. Experiment to see what you like (we‘re huge fans of smoky lapsang
souchong, which is also one of our favorite drinking teas and the tea used in
Chinese tea-smoked duck).
Pastas PASTA MAGIC. Keep a bag or two of beautiful imported pasta in an interesting
shape—we love Tradizioni di Puglia and Castellana, but there are several fine
PB brands. When you need to pull somethingsandwich and it‟sthe hat, much the
If you think you can put anything on a impressive out of pretty just boil the
same, think again. Trading up to gourmet PB&J is like trading up from Two
Buck Chuck to the good stuff. call this dish, which we created from two of our
Oysters Royale That‘s what we
favorite foods—oysters and caviar (ot the pricey sturdeon caviar, but affordable
Shrimp Cocktail whitefish caviars). For American shrimp cocktail: Try the
trout, salmon and Olé Forget that classic each guest, plan six oysters onthis half
Cinco de Mayo
exciting coctel de camaron, Mexican-style. Fill a sundae glass or wine goblet
with lots of plump shrimp, sliced sweet onions and avocado slices. Create a
sauce with Heinz chili sauce, fresh lime juice and cilantro. You can make it a
mixed seafood cocktail with scallops, crabmeat, mussels, octopus and poached
fish. Delicious—and low-calorie, too.
Seasonings Too Salty? If you‘ve over-salted your dish, add some lemon zest. It will help
balance out the flavor. Keep adding the zest—lemon is wonderfully refreshing,
and the dish can‘t get "too lemony.‖
Seasonings Ideally, you should use a separate grinder for spices than for coffee beans. But if
you find yourself with only one grinder and need to grind coffee beans, clean the
grinder by grinding a few spoons of dry white rice.
Soup BLENDER GAZPACHO.
Soup Crunchy Soup Dress up a bowl of soup with seasoned croutons. The crunch
makes a fun contrast, and the seaonings—garlic, cheese, herbs—adds an extra
flavor dimension. Gourmet seasoned croutons can be pricey, but they‘re very
easy to make. Just mix your favorite herbs (garlic, oregano, basil), spices, or
chees with 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter. Lightly brush the oil on both sides of
white bread slices. Cut into cubes, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 300°
for about 45 minutes, until dry and crisp (time will depend on thickness of bread).
Let cool and store in an airtight container and use within a week, or freeze. You
can use them on salads, too, of course.
Soup Summer. Take advantage of the beautiful tomatoes to make a golden heirloom
gazpacho. Buy 5 pounsds of yellow heirloom tomatoes, 3 yellow bell peppers
and 1 English cucumber. Seed and dice vegetables and puree Add 1 to 2
tablespoons of a flavored vinegar—Boyajan‘s ginger or plum vinegar are
delicious (click here), but raspberry or sherry work well too. We keep the soup
low-fat by leaving out oil, but if you want an oil-based soup, add ½ cup of a high-
quality olive with a distinctly delicious flavor. A flavored oil, e.g. basil, rosemary or
chili pepper, will add more dimension of flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste.
You can garnish with fresh, snipped herbs, or make more of a statement with a
whole shrimp, scallop, or mussel. While this soup is especially beautiful in
golden yellow, it can be made with any red tomato.
Spring Asparagus For Us Take advantage of asparagus season be eating these
delicious, low-calorie treats as often as you can. In addition to asparagus soup,
asparagus tarts and asparagus as your main vegetable with dinner, try that
famous French favorite, chilled asparagus vinaigrette, as a first course (add hard-
boiled egg sices and fresh herbs like dill, sage and thyme). Asparagus are
popular crudites before dinner, and what isn‘t eaten can be cut into the dinner
Super Bowl Super Bowl Sweets Who doesn‘t love cupcakes—and they‘re easy to serve
and eat while concentrating on the game. Frost yours with your team‘s colors.
Or, if you want a fun activity, bake unfrosted cupcakes and let people frost their
own. You can even award a prize for the best design.
Tea VisualiTea. We love our porcelain tea cups and our hearty mugs, but the more
we drink fine tea without milk, as it is meant to be, the more we enjoy looking at
the color in glass mugs or cups. It makes a big difference in visual appreciation
of this beautiful beverage. Buy yourself some as a holiday gift, and give some to
tea-loving friends as well. The Yo-Yo glass mug from Bodum is one of our
favorites—it‘s sturdy and comes with an infuser insert as well.
X Tea Pairing Carrot Cake: Sencha, Dragonwell, Vietnamese Green, Ceylon Green and Black,
Darjeeling, Ceylon, Assam. Click here to see the rest of our recommended tea
and food pairings.
Tea Pairing Cheesecake: Sencha, Dragonwell, Vietnamese Green, Ceylon Green and Black,
Tea Pairing Orthodox Easter: Baklava: Darjeeling, Pouchong, Oolong (any), Ceylon Black
and Green. Click here to see the rest of our recommended tea and food pairings.
Tea Pairing Pecan Pie: Oolong (any), Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon. Click here to see the rest
of our recommended tea and food pairings.
Tea Pairing Pumpkin Pie: Dragonwell, Ceylon Green and Black, Darjeeling. Click here to
see the rest of our recommended tea and food pairings.
Tea Pairing What goes best with that apple pie or other apple desserts? Darjeeling,
Dragonwell, Ti Kuan Yin. Click here to see the rest of our recommended tea and
TeaPairing What goes best with strawberries desserts? Darjeeling, Dragonwell, Ti Kuan Yin.
Click here to see the rest of our recommended tea and food pairings.
Aril Nice Touch The edible seeds of pomegranates are called arils (aril actually
refers to the red pulpy sac surrounding the seed, the edible part). You don‘t have
to laboriously hack open pomegranates: you can find arils in packages, ready-to
eat as snacks. We love to use them as garnishes: Toss them into salads for
color and flavor, use them as plate garnishes for any course. Sprinkle them on
fish or chops. Top ice cream and sorbet, pies and other desserts (they add an
especially nice touch to chocolate and brown desserts like pecan and pumpkin
pies). The juice is very healthy, but take care: it stains!
Thanksgiving Can the Canned! As you prepare your Thanksgiving feast, go the extra mile
when it comes to the cranberry sauce. It may have devoted followers, but
canned cranberry sauce doesn't hold a candle to the fresh-made stuff. It‘s so
easy to make: simply combine 1 pound of fresh (or frozen) cranberries, 2 cups of
water and 2 cups of sugar (be sure to check for stems on the cranberries). Boil
the water and sugar mixture over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring
occasionally, and then add the cranberries. Return to a boil for another 5
minutes. Let the sauce cool to room temperature (or refrigerate, if you prefer)
and serve to happy guests! If you have the time, look for more complex recipes
that incorporate orange rind, pecans, and other goodies.
Thanksgiving Holiday Place Cards #2 Decorate plain place cards, available at any stationery
store or card shop, with fresh cranberries and bay leaves. Write the names on
the cards first, then use white glue to affix the berries and leaves to the left side
of the card. While you‘re at the store, pick up a pen that writes in gold or silver
metallic ink, or other metallic color that matches your table decor.
Thanksgiving The Great Pumpkin (Cocktail) Mix 2 ounces of apple juice, 1 ounce Calvados
(apple brandy), 1 tablespoon pumpkin purée
Champagne 1 Tbsp.
Grenadine 1 Tbsp.
Cinnamon stick 1
Combine apple juice, brandy and pumpkin purée in a shaker. Shake; pour into
martini glass. Add champagne and grenadine; garnish with cinnamon stick.
Thanksgiving Pumpkin Balsamic Vinaigrette Pumpkin Balsamic Vinaigrette Perfect for fall
and holiday dinners. Blend e tablespoons of pumpkin seed oil—a delicious oil
you can find at a specialty food store or online—with one tablespoon of balsamic
vinegar. season with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and a few grinds of fresh black
pepper. You can add toasted pumpkin seeds to the salad as well. Click here for
our pumpkin oil review.
Thanksgiving Stuffing Omelet What will you do with all that leftover stuffing? Make a
delicious omelet or cheese omelet. Beat two eggs, and melt 1/2 tablespoon
butter in a nonstick pan. Add the eggs and let them set; then add 1/3 cup stuffing
and a slice of cheese (we like fresh mozzarella) to one half of the pan. Gently flip
the other half of the omelet over, and cook to the desired consistency. No, don‘t
pour gravy on it, but a garnish of cranberry sauce will taste great!
Valentine Chocolate-covered strawberries (edible arrangements)
Valentine Foie gras stuffed prunes from D'Artagnan
Valentine Melt His or Her Heart
If you still don‘t have a Valentine‘s Day surprise for your loved one, you could
grab the nearest box of candy off the shelf—or you could whip up a delicious
chocolate fondue. Fondue comes from the French word fondre, to melt. Click
here for our recipe.
Valentine Red Heart Doilies Buy small red heart-shaped doilies and use them to present
crottins of chevre, serve individual desserts (panna cotta, cupcakes) and other
dishes on your Valentine table. The lacy ones are very elegant. Use them for just
one course: Too much of anything is overkill. Click here to order doilies.
Valentine Red Drinking Straws
Valentine The ―Other‖ Valentine‘s Day Roses
Actually, we mean rosés, as in rosé champagnes. The perfect apéritif for
Valentine‘s Day, they can travel through the entire dinner, if you plan a menu of
seafood, fish, pasta, and chicken in light sauces that complement the
champagne. Wine lovers have been known to plan an all-rosé champagne
dinner, tasting two different wines with each course. Even if it‘s a romantic dinner
for two, champagne preservation re-corkers are excellent at preserving the
bubbles in your bubbly, so you can enjoy the rest of the champagne in the bottles
over the next week or so. It also makes your Valentine‘s celebration last more
than one day.
Vegetables Berry Good Salad Seasonal berries are delicious tossed into green salads.
Most berries pair well with a balsamic vinaigrette. Red strawberries look fetching
against the greens. Surprise your family and guests with a berry new approach to
Vegetables Nuts For Chestnuts Don‘t wait for chesnuts roasting on an open fire…buy
cooked, peeled chestnuts in vacuum packs or jars that are ready to eat. They‘re
wonderful in stuffing, but a delightful surprise tossed into soups, casseroles,
salads as ―croutons.‖ We love a few tossed onto a plate with poultry, pork and
veal chops—or we make an easy chestnut puree and add a whole chestnut on
top for decor. Chestnuts are wonderful for dessert, too....but that‘s another tip!
Vegetables Hot Tomato Never put tomatoes in the refrigerator: The cold will kill their
delicate flavor. If you‘ve used half a tomato, it‘s better to keep the other half
covered in plastic wrap on the counter and consume it the following day. You can
ripen tomatoes on a sunny windowsill; or to ripen them fast, place them in a
paper bag, which traps the ethylene gas emitted by the tomatoes (this technique
works for all fruits that ripen—bananas, peaches, pears and plums, e.g.).
Monitor the fruit daily because it can go from rock hard to overripe in a few days.
Apples produce an unusually large amount of ethylene, so you can add an apple
to the bag to speed ripening. By the way, it's important to store apples apart from
green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and leafy greens, as
their qualities can be affected by the gas. That‘s why there are separate fruit and
vegetable bins in the refrigerator.
Vegetables Onion Magic You may have seen ―onion stones‖ in the gadget department, that
remove the smell of onions from your hands by acting as a ―soap.‖ You rub your
hands under running water with the soap-shaped stainless steel onion stone.
Well, you don‘t need to buy a gadget: just do the same thing with a stainless
Vegetables Tubular Polenta Polenta tubes, sold nationwide under the San Gennaro brand
plus private labels, in sausage-type tubes (in Traditional, Sundried Tomato and
Garlic, and Basil and Garlic) make easy and delicious hors d‘oeuvres, first
courses and sides. While a favorite Italian preparation is simply a topping of your
favorite tomato sauce and fresh-grated cheese, just slice and pan fry or
microwave, and you have a firm base for anything. Top it with a grilled shrimp,
scallop, smoked salmon and salmon caviar, or grilled mushroom and some fresh
herbs for an elegant first course. Melt cheese over them for a snack, or use
them as a base for an open face mini burger. We serve them as hors d‘oeuvres,
first courses and sides. The tubes chubs need no refrigeration before they are
opened; the polenta is fat free, gluten free and kosher.
Vegetables Versatile Squash Acorn and butternut squash are delicious vegetables that
also can be puréed into a dip or hors d‘oeuvre. Bake or steam a 2-pound squash
and place the flesh in a food processor with 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1
tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon orange rind and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Blend on
high for one minute or until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or
more. Spoon or pipe into vegetable chips (Terra Chips are excellent), potato
chips or mushroom caps; or serve with crudités.
Vegetables Want Crispy Fries With That? Make your French fries or sweet potato fries
crispier by doing what the chefs do: Let the raw potatoes stand in cold water for
at least 30 minutes before frying.
Vegetables White As Snow A trick from the chefs: To keep cauiflower white while cooking,
add a little milk to the cooking water.
Washington Premium Dried Cherries. A fabulous tin of Northwest Bing, Rainier, and Totally
Tart Cherries from Chukar Cherries, a leading northwest producer. No added
sugar, just pure, sweet fruit. Sprinkle on yogurt or ice cream, make a great duck
with cherry sauce, or snack straight. B0006I8HH4
Washington Savory Cherries
We begin a week of cherry ideas in honor of our first president, who was born on
February 22. No cherry trees were harmed to create these tips!
If your cherry repertoire is limited to pies, jams and chocolates, try savory cherry
condiments from Chukar Cherry: Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette and Cherry
Chipotle BBQ Sauce.
Washington Spiced Cherries For George
In America, spiced cherries in a brandy marinade are used as a dessert topping.
In France, cerises au vinaigre, spiced and pickled in vinegar, are served with
charcuterie instead of, or along with, gherkins. Australians like spiced cherries as
a condiment with cheese, and 34° Foods with Attitude, a specialty food producer
you‘ll be seeing a lot more of, makes one that‘s sweet-and-sour—you can use it
either way. Click here for our own NIBBLE recipe for spiced cherries. It adds red
wine and a dab of sugar to the marinade instead of all-vinegar, so the cherries
work as both a savory condiment with hot and cold meats and sandwiches as
well as a dessert sauce on ice cream or sorbet. Or, add them to a pound cake
with some whipped cream to celebrate George Washington‘s Birthday, February
22. The story about the cherry tree is totally apocryphal, made up by his early
biographer, Parson Mason Weems; but that‘s no reason not to enjoy delicious
Complex Wine, Simple Food If you‘re tempted to cook a fabulous meal to
enjoy a great bottle of wine, remember the formula: complex wines demand
simple food, so the wine will be the focus of attention. Simple grilled steak, roast
beef or lamb for a great red, and seafood or fish for a white; subtle herbs and
spices on the vegetables, no heavy sauces. restraint and simplicity.
Wine Leftover Wine Don‘t toss those few ounces of leftover wine—pour it into ice
cube trays. Then, when a sauce calls for a few tablespoons or 1/4 cup of wine,
just pop and drop one or two into a saucepan. It saves you from opening a bottle
of wine—and it‘s much better wine than you might open. We keep a red wine
tray and a white wine tray in color-coded iSi Orka ice cube trays (click here to
Wine & Chiles Many people are encouraged to drink beer with chile-flavored
dishes, but if you like wine, there are options. With ancho or chiptole flavors, try
a low-tanin zinfandel or another red varietal with smoky characteristics. With hot
chiles, try wines that have a bit of residual sugar, such as an off-dry riesling, off-
dry gewürztraminer or pinot grigio. If the sauce supports say, grilled pork, you
might attempt a lighter, jammy zinfandel.
PR Agency http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/beverages/juices/organic-italian-volcano.asp
KH x 99
KH x 99 every/nutri/beverages/index.asp
Diet Fun Fruit. A snack that might seem not-so-special, like a fruit bowl, becomes
very exciting just by re-configuring it into these engaging fruit kabobs—served
with a low calorie dip (sugar-free yogurt, e.g.).
5/15/06 Cheese Bread & Cheese
Expand beyond the crusty baguette when serving cheese. Country and peasant
bread, olive bread, walnut, raisin and sesame-topped loaves are all wonderful
pairings. Rather than detract from the cheese, they enhance enjoyment of the
Snacks cheese course. SNACKS. Keep mult-tasking snack foods handy—they‘ll help
you out in numerous ways. For example,gourmet potato chips are good for
snacky yet impressive with cocktails. You can serve them on the side with soups,
salads and sandwiches; and use them as baes for hors dC"oeuvres like smoked
salmon and fresh goat cheese. Look for exotic flavors like Moroccan and Asian
spiced chips as well as standards slike rosemary and garlic herb.
X Vegetables TRUFFLE BUTTER = TRUFFLE BARGAIN. You don‘t have to spend hundreds
of dollars a pound to enjoy the incomparable flavor of truffles. Very good products
contain the bits that have fallen off of the big guys, or were pared from truffles that
weren‘t fit enough to be sold for top dollar. Truffle butter, containing flecks of
truffles, imparts the heady truffle flavor. Use it to cook scrambled eggs, spread it
on toasted brioche for breakfast or as a base for canapes; brush it over meats
before serving; make truffled mashed potatoes to die for. Truffle cheese also hit
the spot: make it your next grilled cheese sandwich. You may not want to spring
for a $200 black truffle to grate over your pasta; but for 10% of that you can have
a pasta truffle experience with a box of dried pasta made with black truffle bits (at
specialty stores and http://www.agferrari.com). Truffle oil, however, gives at a
pale hint of flavor.
5/1/06 Beverages Juiced
We grew up turning to orange juice for our vitamin C, but guava and mango are
two fruits that have more C per serving than O.J. Investigate rich tropical fruits as
nutritious alternatives that also offer up more layers of flavor. Natural food
markets are one source, but there are many exciting products to discover in
KH changed 9/17 JUICY CUBES. Freeze brightly colored juices like cranberry, pomegranate or
orange in ice cube trays; then use them to chill lemonade, iced tea, other fruit
juices, natural soda, and even club soda or mineral water. The ―ice‖ won‘t dilute
the drink as it melts, but instead enhances the beverage with an additional kick of
flavor. Presented in clear glass, the cubes also make the drink look arty.
4/29/06 Beverages Lavender Tea
Lavender is a delicious herb for cooking: it has been connected to fertility since
the olden days and has been added to wedding cakes for that reason. We love it
in ice cream, lemonade, crème brûlée, cookies and pound cake. One way to
enjoy lavender every day is to steep it in tea—it‘s especially heavenly with Earl
Grey. You can find teas pre-mixed with lavender, but we haven‘t yet found one
with either enough lavender or enough bergamot in it for us. We prefer to mix our
own! Click here to buy 2 ounces of culinary lavender.
X Beverages NON-ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES. No matter how sophisticated a wine crowd
you‘ve invited, have plenty of mineral water and even some soft drinks on hand
(try the ―adult‖ sodas like GUS, Izze, and Fizzy Lizzy). Reason: designated
drivers, pregnancies, medications, allergies, and spouses/dates who don‘t drink
USE 10-6 Cocktails UNDILUTED MARYs. Make ice cubes from tomato juice or vegetable juice and
they won‘t dilute your Bloody Marys. Beef bouillon ice cubes create a ―Beefy
Mary.‖ Add shredded basil or dill to the cubes — it adds zing to your drink as the
12/9/05 Books Book Pairings
Package food gifts like chocolate, wine, tea, coffee or olive oil with an informative
book on the topic. Your friends will appreciate learning more about something
they enjoy so much.
5/2/06 Cheese Cheese Rap
There‘s much debate over whether or not cheese should be wrapped in plastic.
Here‘s the skinny: hard cheeses (Parmesan, Asiago) and fully ripened cheeses
(Cheddar, Emmental) can be wrapped in plastic as tightly as you desire. Bloomy-
rind cheeses like Brie and Camembert, and other cheeses that are still aging,
need to interact with air. Wrapping them in plastic can cause off odors and tastes.
Cheeses with high water content, like most Chevres and Blues, shouldn‘t be
wrapped in plastic because the water leaches into the wrap, changing the
cheeses‘ consistency. Wrap these cheeses in wax paper, and if they are pungent,
follow that loosely with plastic wrap, preserving the layer of air. And plan ahead:
buy only as much cheese as you will consume in a few days. To enjoy it at peak,
no fine cheese should sit around too long, no matter how it‘s wrapped. Click here
to read more in our Cheese Section.
5/16/06 Cheese What About The Rind?
Should you eat the rind of cheeses? Sometimes! Some are splendid, some not.
But even if the rinds are considered edible, there‘s no obligation to eat them: like
the skin of an apple, you can exercise your right to cut it off. Rules of thumb: the
bloomy, white rinds of bries and camemberts are considered part of their
deliciousness. Many connoisseurs love moldy rinds, especially on aged chevres.
The rinds of washed-rind cheeses are edible, if one enjoys their crusty,
sometimes grainy texture. Hard rind cheeses are too tough to eat, but but can be
tossed into soups and stews to add flavor. With wrapped cheeses, common
sense says don‘t eat the cloth or wax! Click here for more information cheese.
11-13-05 NEW Scallion Cream Cheese
When our specialty food store stopped making their excellent scallion cream
cheese and brought in a line of flavored cream cheeses and tofus with inferior
ingredients and potassium sorbate preservative we could taste—at $3.89 for a
tiny container—we were not happy. We knew that for 5 minutes of effort and a lot
less money, we could make a perfect version. Start with an 8-ounce package of
organic or artisanal cream cheese (better-tasting, no preservatives). Beat in on
low, 1/4 cup sour cream for spreadability, and as much chopped scallions as you
like (we use 1/2 cup). Double the recipe and you‘ll have enough for two weeks of
brunches. Quadruple the batch and have gifts for friends and neighbors. Save
small plastic containers from the deli or small glass jars to deliver your treat.
12/14/05 Cocktail Snacks Appetizer “Lollipops”
Mini skewers of anything are fun. One tasty twist is stuffed cherry tomato
―lollipops.‖ Take large cherry tomatoes and slit them 3/4 through. Scoop out half
the pulp and replace it with herbed goat cheese (kids like them with potato salad).
Insert a wooden skewer into the tomato to create a lollipop. You can buy 1000
skewers for $12.00 at PickOnUs.com; and also use them for fruit skewers,
assorted cheese cube skewers, bocconcini/olive/grape tomato combos, and any
creative pairing you like. http://www.PickOnUs.com
X Cocktails GLASS RIMMERS. For extra dazzle at the table, dip the rims of your water
glasses in cocktail rimmers. They look festive and add flavor to the water. Pick
savory flavors like Bloody Mary or Dirty Martini rather than sweet drink rimmers,
which are sugary.
Cocktails GLASS RIMMERS. While Margarita glasses have traditionally been rimmed with
salt, the new generation of flavored glass rimmers adds extra visual and flavor
pizzazz to cocktails. From a simple upgrading to lime-flavored Margarita salt, to
complementary rimmers for Martinis, Cosmos, and cocktails of every description,
glass rimmers are also formulated to bring festivity to hot beverages and kids'
Cocktails beverages Cocktails Some people have s gianture ―house cocktail,‖ but you can
become known for surprising guests with a different theme cocktail every time
you entertain. Make it seasonal—whether colors or flavors, mixers like Stirrings
and Urban Accents can help you pick apple for fall, peppermintinis for Christmas,
champagne cocktails for new years eve, red cosmos for Valentine's Day, ___
tbasil, rose and lavender for summer. The simplest thing is to take a gourmet
syrup from robert lambert, mix it with vodka or gin, and add a sprig of herb
4/26/06 Cookies Toffee Chocolate Chip
One of the great under-served cookie flavors is toffee chocolate chip. The next
time you get a box of toffee, bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. You can
either mix pieces of toffee into the dough, or embed a large piece onto the top of
the hot cookie when it comes out of the oven. Enstrom‘s, one of our favorite
toffees, sells its glorious ―toffee crumbs‖ for baking (click here for our review); and
most supermarkets carry Heath Bar® chips.
Desserts CHAMPAGNE FLOAT. For a quick, easy, and sophisticated dessert, take a
couple scoops of sorbet and immerse them in a tall elegant glass of champagne
or Italian soda. The champagne will be enhanced with a light flavor, while the
sorbet will be dressed in fancy fizz or a subtle wine taste.
X Desserts CLASSY CARAMEL. More so than chocolate, caramel or butterscotch sauce is a
versatile partner to just about any dessert—ice cream, pudding, pies, cakes,
brownies, fruit. Keep a couple of jars of top quality sauces on hand; as well as a
jar of sugar-free for guests who are restricting their sugar intake but can have
fresh fruit. Introduce them to a delicious sugar-free caramel sauce and you‘ll be a
hero as well as a great host(ess).
6//28/08 Desserts Fruit Soup #2
Fruit soup is a perfect dessert for spring and summer, and is simple to make
when you start with a base of fruit juice like Sundia Watermelon Blackberry Juice,
a sophisticated and not-too-sweet blend (you can buy cherry juice, Pom juice and
other fruit juices and blend your own). Add diced fruits, top with yogurt or sorbet,
and dot with snipped mint leaves.
10/15/05 Desserts ICE CREAM COUPE. Ice cream can be a great dessert solution for two reasons.
First, it‘s not filling at the end of a big dinner; and second, it‘s a no-fuss
proposition. To make it glamorous, do what fine restaurants do: serve smaller
scoops of three different flavors in a wine goblet, a martini glass, or a dish with
panache. Take a casual approach and serve it with a homestyle cookie, sliced
fruit and berries; or dress it up with a fancy cookie and a candied orange peel
crown. Great artisanal ice cream stands on its own, but just-nice ice cream can
be made memorable with exciting dessert sauces. Click here to read about some
of our favorite brands. http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/dessert-
6/30/06 Desserts Something Old, Something New
If you‘re planning a traditional American dessert over the holiday weekend—apple
pie, brownies, chocolate cake, pound cake—go à la mode with some not-so-
traditional flavors of ice cream. Think lavender, coconut or lemon mint. Häagen-
Dazs‘s new Mayan Chocolate with cinnamon is one of our favorite H-D flavors.
Reed‘s Ginger and Green Tea Ginger Ice Creams, with chunks of crystallized
ginger, are available at specialty stores nationwide including Whole Foods and
Trader Joe‘s. If you can find Creme Fraîche ice cream or gelato—grab it!
X Desserts WHAT‟S FOR DESSERT(S)? Most people look forward to dessert, and several
small dessert courses add even more excitement at the end of a dinner party.
Different types of plates also contribute to the fun—for example, a scoop of bright
sorbet in an egg cup, flan in a brandy snifter, a macedoine of fruits in a Bordeaux
goblet, espresso mousse in an espresso cup. The only limit is your imagination!
Gift A BOTTLE AND A BOOK. A bottle of champagne is always a nice gift. But add a
great book about champagne, and your gift will be remembered long after the
bottle is gone. The recipient will appreciate learning a few things about the bubbly,
Diet COLD BEVERAGE CREATIVITY. Make club soda and diet drinks more festive
by making ice cubes of colored diet sodas. They add both fun colors and flavors
to other beverages. If you don‘t want the flavors, make bright colored ice cubes
with food color and get mini-cube trays so you can have ice cube ‖confetti.‖
Diet DIET CHEESE. Kabobs wth low fat cheese, fruit and nonfat yogurt dip are a fun
and dietetic way to enjoy cheese.
4/2/06 Easter Caviar Easter Eggs #2
A popular appetizer served at top restaurants is a small boiled egg in its shell with
a caviar garnish. Snip off or crack off the top of a room-temperature egg and
spoon on half a teaspoon of sturgeon caviar. (It‘s just as impressive with
inexpensive salmon caviar.) You don‘t need egg cups either: fill any small cup,
bowl or dish halfway with kosher salt and stand the egg up in it. Dot the salt with
4/6/06 Easter “Easter Egg” Salad #3
Grape tomatoes are egg-shaped and in bright yellow and red colors, they have a
festive Easter-egg appeal. Add them to your salad along with small basil leaves. It
will be tempting enough to attract Peter Rabbit to the door.
3/26/06 Easter Fruit Curds For Easter
Americans don‘t eat enough lemon curd: it‘s a wonderful substitute for jam:
smooth, silky, buttery, and intensely lemony, balancing tart and sweet. Popular
from the time of Queen Elizabeth I, you now can find curds in blood orange,
raspberry, and key lime as well. Celebrate spring—or your Easter brunch—with
one or more of them. In addition to breakfast duty, they fill tartlet shells for dessert
and garnish fresh berries, pound cake, shortbread, ice cream and sorbet. You‘ll
find them in any fine food store, or click here.
From a series of Spring-Easter Tips
4//17/96 Easter Leftover Easter Eggs
Have more boiled eggs than you know what to do with? They‘ll go quickly in these
preparations: egg salad, tuna salad, ham salad, any of those in stuffed tomatoes
or stuffed bell peppers, potato salad, deviled eggs, and in one of our favorite
lunches, a Cobb salad on a bed of iceberg lettuce with rows of sliced chicken,
Easter tomatoes, bacon, avocado, diced tomato, and sliced eggs. Serve with blue
Spring Bloody Mary After our recent tastings of tomato juices and Han Asian
Vodka, we created a Spring Bloody Mary, perfect for Easter or any rite of spring.
For each drink, take 2 to 3 ounces vodka, 2/3 cup Knudsen‘s Tomato Juice
(available at Whole Foods Market and other natural food stores), 1 teaspoon
balsamic vinegar (instead of Worcestershire sauce), the juice of 1/2 large lime, a
6/3/06 Fish shake or two of salt and a sprig of fresh rosemary (rush theroe, in of piece like
Bottarga Bottarga is salted, pressed and dried grey mullet stem a the rosemary
shad roe. Whether shaved, sliced, chopped or grated, a small amount of bottarga
provides a world of flavor on salads, with simple pastas or sprinkled
on a fish fillet.Branzino alla Bottarga, Fillet of Mediterranean seabass finished with
a Vermentino sauce and a sprinkling of grated mullet bottarga, is a popular
2/15/06 Fruits Sardinian dish.
For light desserts or snacks, fruit kabobs with yogurt dip are a sweet
transition—low-calorie and healthy, too. Simply skewer pineapple chunks, melon
General Flower Flourish strawberries, of edible flowers, but vivid coral nasturtiums
balls, raspberries, There are lotsgrapes, orange segments—whatever catcheswith
their yellow accents enliven any plate. In addition to scattering in salads and using
as basic plate décor and a peppery flavor accent, you can use both their color
and their flavor to make a special mayonnaise. If you make mayo from scratch or
use a commercial variety (we love Restaurant Lulu‘s French or Garlic Aoli,
General SERVING BEAUTY. There are three ways to turn everything you serve with
coarsely chop a 15 blossoms and leaves and add to a up of mayo. Try itinto a
work of art: contents, vessel, and garnish. For example, a mint sprig is OK as a
garnish for a holiday Kir Royale, but a sprig of champagne grapes is even more
festive. Instead of a plain champagne flute, serve in an etched martini glass, like
Harlequin crystal martini glasses from Artel(see Home Zone > Drinkware). A light
etching (not a heavy overall frosting) enhances the artistic presentation, but
X Hors DOUBLE DUTY. Your decorative cocktail picks do double duty when they
skewer garnishes for sandwiches, lunch and dinner plates, as well as for desserts
(substitute grapes and berries for the olives).
X Hors HORS D‟OEUVRES VARIEES. In addition to serving canapes with cocktails, a
plate of 5 or 6 assorted canapes makes an enjoyable first course or appetizer.
Guests love variety, and impressive purchased hors d‘ouevres make this one less
course you have to prepare. Visit Everything Gourmet > Food Files > Hors
D’Oeuvres for some great recommendations.
Hors STUFFED TOMATO LOLLIPOPS. For a fun gourmet hors d‘oeuvre, take large
cherry tomatoes in red and yellow. Slice 3/4 in half (but not alal the way through)
and scoop out some of the pulp. Stuff some with herbed goat cheese, some with
scallion cream cheese. Now take lollipop or candy apple sticks and create
―lollipops.‖ Use an ice pick to pierce through the tomato before inserting the stick.
x Hors Serve on a tray, standing up in an old-fashioned a few items from vase, or stuck
VEGETARIAN KABOBS. Cheese tortellini and glass or shallow the crudite plate
transform into exciting vegetarian kabobs. Skewer tortellini on long toothpicks
with button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and black olives, Serve with a pesto
Kids GOURMETS-IN-TRAINING. Teach kids to develop their palates by having a
weekly tasting of something familiar to them. it can be different brands of cream
cheese, vanilla ice creams, chocolate bars, cupcakes, muffins. Create a list of
terms–sweet/salty, dense/light, spicy/bland, dry/moist, and different flavors that
they can look to identify. Rather than just "I don't know why, I just like it," they‘ll
X Kids soon JOY OF COOKING. Teach kids the joy of preparing food for themselves
THE be more articulate than most adults. Make it a game to keep adding to your
and their friends. As soon as they‘re coordinated enough to handle them, buy
them milk mixers to make chocolate milk and jumbo cookie cutters to cut out
shaped sandwiches. Look at the book ―Play With Your Food‖ for more ideas. The
more fun you make making food, the more foodie joy—and independence—you‘ll
5/1/06 Meat impart to your children.
Heirloom meats are a great gift for a meat-lover—and doubly great for one who
cooks. They‘re a splurge that your friends and family might not give themselves,
and they‘ll be wowed by the difference. Even the barbecue chef who just makes
11/11/05 Meats makes steaks and burgers will appreciate an introduction to organic or natural
A Soupçon of Sausage
Slice flavorful gourmet sausages and toss them into eggs, pasta, soups, and
stews; add them to sandwiches (especially grilled cheese!) and pizza; and serve
chunks with dipping sauces and specialty mustards for an instant tasty hors
10/9/05 Chocolate Chocolate Tastings Chocolate in containers labeled by flavor. They defrost
d‘oeuvre. Freeze slices or chunks tastings are becoming as popular as winein
tastings, and the language is just as complex. Before you head out to a
chocolate tasting or tackle your next box of fine chocolate, study a good
glossary and the components of chocolate. We just happen to have created
them for you in our chocolate section: Click here and you'll be a chocolate
connossieur in no time!
A Meats GO WILD (FARMED WILD). When was the last time you had
ostrich…bison…emu? Just because they sound exotic doesn‘t mean they don't
11/16/05 Oils Gettin‟ Figgy With It
Fig-infused balsamic vinegar is wonderful with duck and other savory dishes, but
here‘s how to use it for a spectacular dessert: Reduce equal amounts of vinegar
and sugar into a syrup. Separately, marinate for several hours or overnight, sliced
Oils fresh figs and Oils & Vinegars Thecut as fine or chunky as sprays usedan un-
Protect Your other seasonal fruits, same nitrogen aerosal you like, in to
prevent oxidation in opened bottles of wine can also be used to protect precious
oils and vinegars from oxidation for weeks and even months at a time. Under
normal conditions, flavors start to fall off after 6 months. If you use a special flavor
of oil or vinegar sparingly, keepit longer by spray the contents before returning the
KH bottle toOUTSIDE THE $9 spray can besurprised totimes: a tinya tasting of oliveto
THINK the shelf. One JAR. We were used 100+ discover in cost compared
oils from Australia, California, Puglia, Sicily, Spain, Tuscany, and Ubria that we
did not prefer our favorite green and grassy Sicilian. We by far preferred the
Australian, which had much greater depth of the green and grassy notes we like.
The lesson: never assume generalities. Keep tasting! Click here for our article on
10-12-05 TIP& changed KH
Pastas conducting our own olive aretasting interesting shapes of pasta, but did you know
PASTA SHAPES. There oil many party.
they were designed to suit specific types of sauces? Pair thin, delicate pastas like
angel hair, linguini and spaghetti with light, delicate sauces. Middle-weight shapes
like fettuccini, elbow macaroni, bowties, and wagon wheels match best with
middle-weight sauces. Shapes with holes or ridges like penne, radiatore, shells
Pastas and ziti were designed to provide clinging surfaces for pastas in seasonal and
SPECIALTY PASTAS. Colored and shaped specialty chunky meat and
holiday motifs are a real treat for family and guests. But rather than a whole
bowlful of valentines, pumpkins, grape clusters, or Santas, use a mix of 20%
colored holiday pasta and 80% white pasta in a fun shape like bowties, radiatore
(ridged pasta), wagon wheels, spirals, or small shells. The colored holiday shapes
Salad will actually beMODE.moreadd a ball or slice ofthe white shapes than our salad and
SALAD A LA much We noticeable against fresh goat cheese to in an entire
call it a la mode. Cut 1" slices from a log of fresh goat cheese. If you like, you can
roll the log in fresh snipped herbs, crushed nuts or peppercorns before slicing.
Place the slice directly on the plate or on a slice of toasted baguette. Or, roll the
cheese into balls, then roll in herbs or finely chopped pistachios.
Salsas SPECTACULAR SALSAS. There are so many great salsas to try—not only
different brands, but such a variety of flavors from olive to pineapple. Have a
salsa tasting at your next get-together. Set up a ―salsa bar‖ with place cards that
introduce the salsas: peach-mango, spicy chipotle, green olive, roasted corn and
bean. Salsas are extremely low calorie: provide crudites in addition to tortilla chips
5/6/06 Salad and dieting guests will be in heaven. Add mini chicken and fish kabobs and it
Fresh Salad Herbs
Cut one or two fresh herbs like parsley, dill or basil into your salads. Use a
scissors and just snip away; then toss with the other ingredients. The flavor they
Soups SEA SALT, VOLCANIC SALT. If you passed into the 21st century without
converting to sea salt, it‘s time to bid adieu to iodized table salt. Sea salt brings
out flavors like nothing else--even better than kosher salt. Use it for cooking as
well as sur le table . Try different sea salts from different parts of the world—they
impart different flavors and degrees of salinity. And try tiny pinches of black and
3/15/06 St. Patrick red volcanic salts on top of your food for accents—the flavors are as attractive as
―Irish‖ Fruit Skewers
A healthy way to celebrate St. Patrick‘s Day: serve fruit skewers and yogurt for
dessert or snacking—you can bring them to work, too. Cubes of honeydew,
Spices KEEPING IT SPICY. If your herb and spice bottles aren‘t dated flavors plus a
oblong grapes, and slices of kiwi provide contrasting shapes andfor expiration,
mark the purchase dates on the labels when you buy them. Whole spices will
keep their flavor indefinitely (in airtight containers away from heat and light) and
whole herbs can keep for 2 years. However, once ground, both spices and herbs
begin to lose their flavor, even if the jar is still factory sealed. At room
12/17/05 Wine temperature, they remain strong for only about 6 months. So don‘t buy more than
Save That Single Malt
The same preservative aerosol sprays used to prevent oxidation in opened
bottles of wine can also be used to protect sherry, port, cognacs and single malts.
Just one spritz can keep the contents fresh for months. Keeping opened bottles in
Beverages the refrigerator adds to their longevity as well. The sprays are inexpensive and
NICE ICE BABY. Today‘s water connoisseurs won‘t accept an ice cube even
though they‘d like to cool down the glass of Ferrarelle or Ramlosa. The simple
solution: make ice cubes from the same bottled water. It will be frozen in three
hours, so you can do it the day you‘re expecting guests. Making just a tray at a
time keeps the ice tasting fresh—another reason water aficionados don‘t like
Cheese DELUXE CUBES. If you serve cheese cubes for into a plastic storage bag or
cubes. If you do it in advance, pop the cubes into snacks, turn the ordinary into
something special by adding fixing a grape and or a grape tomato to the top with
a toothpick. You don't have to garnish every cube: even a dozen ―deluxe cubes‖
scattered among the regulars will make the plate look more festive. Use different
colored grapes and tomatoes for maximum impact.
Iced Tea Ideas
If you‘re preparing a Father‘s Day celebration—or if Dad just likes iced
tea—prepare something special. Fruit-flavored teas are delicious on ice (in fact,
we prefer fruit teas cold to hot). Rooibos (redbush) teas are herbal (caffeine-free)
and make tastier iced teas than some traditional herbals (although we like iced
4/4/06 Easter peppermint Tasting Zinger). Mango rooibos is a crowd-pleaser, as are any
Chocolate and Red
Instead of a traditional dessert after Easter dinner, serve the best of both worlds:
a cheese course with fruit, followed by a chocolate tasting. Most specialty food
1/2/06 Seasonings Out With The Old Every January, toss out all of your dried herbs and ground
spices and start the year with fresh ones. After jars are opened, ground spices
and dried herbs lose their potency—that‘s why those jumbo jars are rarely a
bargain. Buy only what you use regularly. If you rarely use mace, e.g., wait until
you need it for a recipe. Even unopened jars of spices and herbs will degrade on
the shelf after a couple of years. If exposed to heat or light, they deteriorate even
faster (store your spices away from the stove and oven, and eschew countertop
spice carousels). Whenver you can, buy whole spices and grind them in a spice
mill as needed (we use a peppermill, a nutmeg grinder, and a multipurpose spice
and herb grinder). Some ground spices can be perked up a bit by quick toast in a
dry skillet over a low flame.
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Scotch & Chocolate Pairing A special way to entertain, pair single-malt Scotch with chocolate. We
paired Laphroig, known for its smoky peat and creamy, sweet oak flavors, with some smoky, creamy
single-origin chocolates. It‘s a special way to entertain a small group and for a special gift idea for your
single-malt loving friends. It‘s a great way to spend Christmas, New Year‘s Eve and Valentine‘s Day,
too. Click here for more details on our tasting.
Peach Raspberry Lemonade Make this summer favorite even more special with three fruits! Per
2 lemon wedges. 2 tbsp. peach purée
1/2 oz. lemon juice
Muddle lemons, peach purée, raspberries and lemon juice in a water glass. Add ice and fill the glass
with cold water. Shake and serve with a straw. To make a whole pitcher full, multiply the ingredients
by the number of people you want to serve, muddle in the pitcher, add ice and water, and shake or stir
ICE CREAM BON BONS. These are so good, it's hard not to eat them all during preparation. Scoop
small balls of ice cream and freeze ice cream hard. Dip the ice cream into lukewarm melted
chocolate—use a good chocolate bar or good morsels in dark, milk, and/or white chocolate. Put on a
plate and return to freezer until the chocolate starts to harden but is still tacky. Then roll in your
favorite toppings: contrasting chopped chocolate, chopped sliced nuts (almonds, pistachios),
shredded coconut or sprinkles.
Ice Cream Floats Most people are comfortable adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream into a root beer
or chocolate soda; but exciting new combos await. The "lime rickey," Lemon-lime soda with raspberry
ice cream, the ―the chocolate cherry,‖ cherry soda with chocolate ice cream, the ―peach melba,‖
raspberry or cream soda with peach ice cream with cream soda, the ―tropical paradise,‖ ginger beer
with mango ice cream, and the ―creamsicle,‖ orange soda with vanilla ice cream.
If your family loves ice cream, try moving to lighter sorbets for the summer. Sorbet has no milk or
cream, which means it‘s dairy-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free and has fewer calories than ice cream.
And, the pretty colors look like jewels served in a martini glass or wine goblet (with an optional
sprinkling of berries). If a local shop makes handmade ice cream, you may find special sorbet flavors
bursting with seasonal fresh fruit.
Berry sauces—blackberry, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry—are multitaskers that can top
pancakes, waffles and blintzes; breads (toast, biscuits, muffins, scones); fruit salads and yogurt. For
desserts, drizzle them over ice cream and serve them warm or at room temperature over cobblers,
pastries, tarts and pound cakes. But there‘s more: the tartness of the berry sauces makes a wonderful
complement to baked brie, and as a glaze for roasted chicken, pork and grilled fish. All that from one
little bottle from your specialty store.
Easy Dessert Topping When you need a quick topping for cake, pie, or bread pudding, melt vanilla
ice cream! Melt a pint (2 cups) of ice cream at room temperature or in the refrigerator, and stir in 2
ounces (jiggers) of bourbon. Coffee and chocolate also work as sauces, and you can match coffee
liqueur, Godiva liqueur, rum or other spirit that picks up accents in your dessert—be a creative
―mixologist.‖ You also can serve these heavenly ―sauces‖ in the jiggers or liqueur glasses as part of
the dessert courses: add one to the dessert plate or servve them as ―chasers‖ to the dessert, right
There‘s a lot of good No Sugar Added ice cream out there, but not much in the sorbet department. If
you‘re on a sugar-free diet and miss sorbet, you can make it, with unsweetened fruit juice. Freeze 2
liters of unsweetened juice in your ice cream maker, along with artificial sweetener equivalent to one
cup of sugar (you can adjust the sweetener to taste—the less you use, the better). Use maltitol if you
can get it—Steel‘s Gourmet sells the crystals online. The taste is much better than Splenda®, which is
a good second choice.
Add Some Color. Add a little color to every dish … green from fresh basil or other herbs, red or
yellow from halved cherry or grape tomatoes or some rings of bell peppers. In the doldrums of winter,
or when you have nothing fresh in the house, take roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes from
the jar. If you like things hot, keep some cans of chile peppers. A plain plate or diet food is instantly
more appealing with the color...and the color tastes great and adds few (or no) calories to boot!
There are lots of edible flowers, but vivid coral nasturtiums with their yellow accents enliven any plate.
In addition to scattering in salads and using as basic plate décor and a peppery flavor accent, you can
use both their color and their flavor to make a special mayonnaise. If you make mayo from scratch or
use a commercial variety (we love Restaurant Lulu‘s French or Garlic Aoli), coarsely chop 15
blossoms and leaves and add them to a up of mayo. Try it with seafood salad, potato salad, or more
subtly-flavored and colored foods that will benefit from its vivid color and added kick. Keep a few
blossoms and add one or two to each plate. Nasturtiums are in season in the summer, but available
from greenhouses that specialize in edible flowers all year long.
Be Delicate With Delicate Herbs There are two ranges of fresh herbs, delicate and hearty, which
refers to the sturdiness of the plant and thus their durability in cooking, not to their flavor. Delicate
herbs (basil, chives, dill, cilantro, parsley, e.g.) are generally chopped, snipped, or torn and added at
the end of cooking to provide the most flavor impact. Don‘t add them too soon in the cooking process.
Heartier herbs like bay leaf, oregano, rosemary and thyme can be added earlier in the cooking
process to allow their flavors to completely infuse a dish. They can be added whole, and removed
before serving; although the flecks of green add to the visual beauty of the dish.
Herb Pots. A window herb box may sound trite, but once you start snipping fresh herbs, you'll never
go back to dried. We fill flowerpots with basil, rosemary, thyme and tarragon--the plants are beautiful,
fragrant and easy-to-grow (rosemary is hardy and can grow into quite a large household plant, and
spawn cuttings for all of your friends). We snip fresh basil into eggs, salads, on pizzas, sandwiches,
use the fresh leaves with caprese (mozzarella and tomatoes), and as garnishes for everything—even
sorbet. Check back for more fresh herb ideas.
Herb Pot: Rosemary
We love our pot of rosemary—it‘s a beautiful and fragrant houseplant (woodsy, like pine) as well as a
delicious fresh herb, at the ready several times a week to add fresh flavor notes to whatever we‘re
cooking. Use it with olive oil and garlic for a delicious focaccia; with lamb, poultry and fish; in pasta
and potatoes; in Mediterranean soups and stews. You don‘t need to be cooking anything complex: the
springs make beautiful garnishes for any course, from eggs to sandwiches (they can work like
toothpicks) to cocktails (think swizzle stick) and desserts.
Herb Pot: Chives While it‘s generally easy to find chives at the market, if you have room to grow a
pot, they‘re ―the perfect garnish.‘ They add color and subtle onion favor to just about any dish, from
egs in the morninf to salads and soups at lunch, to vegetables, poultry, fish, and compound butters at
dinner. A sprinkling of snipped chives adds a festive garnish dusting to any plate, and in their ‗long
form,‖ they can tie asparagus or green beans in bundles, make ―X‖ designs over steaks, chops, and
fried eggs, combine with roasted red or yellow peppers or a slice of red tomato to make a tasty color
statement, and generally challenge your creativity.
Herb Pot: Dill Looking feathery and fern-like, dill imparts a unique flavor to many dishes. It‘s a natural
with scrambled eggs and omelets (add cheese, especially feta), tuna, egg and chicken salad, yogurt
and cucumber salad (tzatziki), to toss with vegetables; and a beautiful pairing with lamb and poultry.
Snip fresh, or add to hot dishes like soups just before serving.
Herb Pot: Mint
Native to the Mediterranean and popular in western sweets like ice cream and chocolate, mint has
migrated east to become a basic ingredient in the meat and vegetables dishes of the Pacific Rim. We,
too, love it in savory dishes, most famously with lamb and buttered peas. A few sprigs will enliven a
green salad, a beet salad or spicy arugula. Mint mixes well with basil and tomatoes too. And it‘s so
refreshing in iced or hot tea or mineral water. But remember when cooking with mint—less is more.
Herb Pot: Sage Sage is a wonderfully aromatic plant that most people buy during the holiday season,
for the turkey, goose or duck. But it's more than a holiday stuffing (or a sausage stuffing). Think of
sage for ______
Herb Pot: Parsley Flat leaf Italian parsley is more flavorful than the curly variety, so choose it instead
to flavor your dishes. It also has a more modern sensibility as a garnish. If you need parsley for
cooking and don‘t use the whole bunch, it will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator if you stand it
upright in a glass or plastic container with its roots in water. However, use it daily to add flavor: Snip it
into scrambled eggs and omelets, into green salads and sandwich fillings, soups, pastas, potato
salad, vegetables...and if ―parsley potatoes‖ isn‘t in your repertoire, boil new potatoes, toss lightly with
butter and lots of fresh-snipped parsley. If you like, add chives or scallions and minced garlic, with salt
and pepper to taste.
Herb Pot: Oregano If you enjoy cooking with oregano, try it fresh. You can buy fresh oregano, but it
dries out quickly and is often one step removed from what youcan buy in a jar. Try growing it in a pot
at home. While it‘s most familiar in Italian dishes (the green, earthy flavor balances the acid of
tomatoes), experiment with eggs, salads, vegetables, lamb and beef. Oregano is a more pungent
relative of marjoram—if you‘re out of one, you can substitute the other.
Herb Pot: Tarragon A versatile herb, the first flavored vinegar most of us have bought, tarragon is
perhaps so popular because it‘s reminiscent of anise—licorice! Yet, it's a sophisticated flavor that
goes well with eggs and sauces—in fact, the difference between hollandaise and béarnaise is the
tarragon! Use it with all fish and seafood, vegetables and ____
Herb Pot: Thyme Thyme is so minty and citrussy that it makes a great addition to a cirys sorbet. But
it also works with everything else, from eggs to seafood, poultry, soups and stews. Toss sprigs into
the water before you cook rice. A cook's trick: pull the stems through fork tines to strip the leaves.
Keeping Herbs Fresh When you buy fresh herbs, they‘ll last longer if you keep them hydrated. It‘s
simple to do so: If the herbs have roots, place them in a cup of water covered with a plastic bag
before refrigerating, or wrap them in damp paper towels before bagging. For a no-spill solution,
instead of the cup, we use a re-cycled quart-size plastic take-out container (or the right piece of
Tupperware will do).
Using Dried Herbs Dried herbs have more intense flavor than fresh herbs, so you can use 1/3 as
much in a recipe. However, twhile convenient, they rarey have the same purity of flavor as fresh
herbs. If you‘re going to spend time cooking from scratch, go the extra yard when you can and get
fresh herbs—they make all the difference. Even when you use dried, you need to check for freshness:
they have a shelf life of just 6 to 12 months. Crush a few leaves to see if the aroma is still strong.
Always store them in an airtight container away from light and heat/ While supermarket herbs are
often sold in glass jars for visual impact, it's the worst way to store herbs: metal cans are the best.
The Scoop On Whole Spices While ground spices lose their potency quickly and need to be
replaced every six months, whole spices can retain their flavor for up to five years. They can
be ground quickly in a spice grinder (a coffee grinder used just for spices) or with a simple
mortar and pestle. Before grinding, toast whole spices in a dry skillet over low heat, stirring
frequently, until they start to release their aromas. The extra flavor they‟ll give you is worth the
five minutes of time.
Rockin‟ Rice. You can serve rice a different way each day of the month and never run out of ideas.
Think of it this day: on Monday mix a different fresh herb into it. On Tuesday cook it in a different tea.
On Wednesday mix in a different salsa or chutney. On Thursday a different spice. On Friday stir in a
different dried fruit. On Saturday, choose a different type of gourmet rice—arborio, California Mochi,
Indian basmati, Black Rice, Bhutanese Red Rice, brown long grain, Thai jasmine, japonica, kalijira,
wild. On Sunday a nut, or a fruit and nut mix. And reward yourself every now and then with a delicious
rice pudding—made from whatever rice you like!
By Date Url
Dr Wang & Scrip
Michael Steele photos from disk
Proper table settings
Allergy girl links
Google and Amazon money
Fix zine pages
Press release for gourmet news, others … 3rd anniversary; call Bambe, Steve re where to release cheap or free and objectives
WHAT IS HAPPENING with the PB Cup update
Momma Reiner Fudge - read the history of fudge would not turn white
Divine Pasta Sauces and other sauces
to release cheap or free and objectives
23-Jul Robert Allen 9/29 Ruben BNI
24-Jul Eric Lituchy/Deligtful Deliveries 9/21 Teresa Reilly
25-Jul Theresaa Reilly
26-Jul Brian Werther
27-Jul David Hazan, LHH, David Hazan <email@example.com>
28-Jul Ron Mazursky
CALL PHILIP REISS
Ellen Howse re Godiva HowseBusiness@worldnet.att.net
O: 212 873 8596
1-Aug Ron Mazursky
2-Aug Keith Kohler
3-Aug Marcia Johnston-Browniepops - The Ingredients guys from CT (Andy's friends)
Ed Levin ref David Kutz
8-Aug Jessica Diaz, Little Pearl Caviar, wrote re linking Caviar Glossary, among other things
9-Aug Emailed Alex Tyler; sent Brian Werther BP re representing us
10-Aug Tracy Wachsler - send BP
15-Aug Wrote to Golden Seeds per Andy
4-Sep Brian Werther >Guy in Diller Organization
5-Sep Joan McGeogh > Ladies who sell ads
6-Sep David Schoenberger > Mark Kahn, Traffiq.com ad placement, emailed
6-Sep Phillip Reiss, left message, 646-613-9623
Abrams, Philip Weiss, Laura CHET VAN WERT -- maybe Brian can contact
Alan Hochman, Alan Brody Levitan, Laura
Denise O'Neill Miller, Linda
Klein, Sharorn Miller, Amanda
Harris, Steve Linked in
Jacobs, Steve Columbia GSB
Tayor, Sam Columbia Women
Stevens, Ruth Janet Stanton
Raman, Russ Jamie Weldon
Hubscher, Ron - MENG Speaker
/29 Ruben BNI
/21 Teresa Reilly
Speak to connie o'keefe re kagome, molson, cadbury, heinz,
RT -- maybe Brian can contact
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