THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Blondie Day

January 22nd is National Blondie Day, a confection also called blond brownies and butterscotch brownies. (To add to the confusion, May 9th is National Butterscotch Brownie Day.)

The shape and texture are similar to chocolate brownies, but the ingredients are different.

  • Blondies substitute vanilla for brownies’ cocoa powder.
  • They contain brown sugar instead of white sugar (photo #1).
  • There is no chocolate or cocoa in the batter, but chocolate chips can be mixed in.
  • In addition chocolate chips (any type-photo #2), popular mix-ins include coconut, pecans or walnuts, toffee chips, even M&Ms.
  • Some people add a second sweetener: honey, for example, or maple syrup blondies.
  •  
    Blondies tend not to be frosted, since the brown sugar is sweet enough. However, chocolate ganache is a nice (if messier) alternative to chocolate chips (photo #3). Since the beginning of recent food trends, some bakers use salted caramel ganache or dulce de leche.

    Blondies differ from white chocolate brownies, since the latter have white chocolate in the batter. We’ve encountered some blondies with chocolate chips called Congo Bars, but accurately, Congo Bars have both chocolate chips and walnuts; coconut can be substituted the walnuts.

    Like brownies, blondies are bar cookies cut into rectangles or squares. They’re great as a base for a sundae, topped with butterscotch, caramel or chocolate sauce.

    We know the history of brownies, but where did blondies originate?
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF BLONDIES

    Like brownies, blondies originated in the U.S. We’re just not absolutely certain of their creator.

    As bar cookies evolved in the late 19th century, molasses was a popular sweetener. Molasses bars were

    The first person publish a recipe for the brownies we know today was Fanny Farmer, in the 1896 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook (the history of brownies).

    But that recipe contained no chocolate; it was essentially what we today call a Blondie.

    According to Food Timeline, blonde brownies predate the chocolate version by about 10 years. Around 1896, a molasses-flavored bar cookie (no chocolate, cocoa or chocolate chips) called a brownie appeared. The name honored the elfin characters featured in popular books, stories, cartoons and verses of the time by Palmer Cox (the Eastman Kodak Brownie camera was also named after these elves).

    According to [another source], in the 1906 edition of her cookbook, Farmer published an updated version of her cookbook that included a blondie recipe and a brownie recipe, both called brownies. Alas, we’ve only been able to get our hands on the 1896 version, reprinted and available on Amazon (link above), so we can’t do our own fact-checking.

    After the later introduction and popularity of chocolate brownies, the molasses brownies became known as blonde brownies. Subsequently, some bakers started to substitute brown sugar for the molasses, providing a butterscotch taste and a new name, butterscotch brownies.

     

    Blondies
    [1] Blondies with pecans, served with dulce de leche. Blondies can have a finer crumb (texture) if cake flour is used instead of all-purpose flour (photo courtesy Valrhona).

    Blondies
    [2] A classic, rustic blondie with chocolate chips and walnuts (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).


    [3] Blondies iced with chocolate ganache, at Baked NYC.

     
    Also according to Food Timeline, the name “Blondie” surfaces in the 1980s. It was not named for Dagwood Bumstead’s wife.

    Although we grew up in the food wonderland that is New York City, we don’t recall seeing a blondie or a butterscotch brownie until the mid 1970s or early 1980s.

    Then, some time around then, an artisan bakery whose name, alas, we can’t remember (and is no longer in business) began selling packaged blondies, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and other baked beauties in small grocery stores and delis. The line was superior to anything else being sold—and they introduced the New York we knew to blondies.

    If you’re that bakery and are reading this, tell us your name…and thanks for the memories!
     
     
    BLONDIE RECIPES

  • Classic Blondie Recipe
  • Maple Syrup Blondies
  •  

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Use More EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

    Olive Oil Cruet
    [1] Our mother and grandmother always served olive oil and vinegar in cruets, so people could serve themselves at the table. They’re becoming a thing of the past, as salads come pre-dressed from the kitchen—or as more people use commercial dressings (photo courtesy Flavor For Life).

    Lemon Olive Oil Bread Dipper
    [2] The easiest switch is to serve EVOO with bread, instead of cholesterol-packed butter. You can add a splash of lemon juice or seasonings to enhance the oil—that’s what commercial bread dippers do (photo THE NIBBLE).

    Homemade Sweet Potato Chips
    [3] For tastier homemade chips, use olive oil instead of canola or other neutral oils (photo courtesy My Name Is Yeh | California Olive Ranch).

     

    It’s still the month for resolutions, our annual hopes of changing parts of our lives for the better.

    Adding more extra virgin olive oil to your life is one way, switching out less healthy fats.

    EVOO is a heart-healthy fat, high in polyphenols. It can lends extra flavor and textures to your favorite dishes.

    Olive oil is a versatile ingredient, and can replace other fats like butter and canola oil in almost all recipes, for a health boost.

    Think bread with an EVOO dipping oil instead of butter. Eat salad with an EVOO vinaigrette instead of creamy, heavy dressings. Use it as a pasta sauce.

    Here are three suggestions from California Olive Ranch to swap in extra virgin olive oil.
     
     
    1. BAKING

    Using olive oil in baked goods may seem strange to Americans, but it’s the fat used in Greece, Italy, southern France and the other olive oil-rich lands around the Mediterranean.

    EVOO adds a nuanced flavor to sweet treats, keeps cakes moist, and adds a luscious crumbly texture to crumbles.

    Some baking recipes will call specifically for extra virgin olive oil, but you can also substitute olive oil in recipes that call for butter for the flavor and health benefits.

    Try these recipes:

  • Lemon Olive Oil Poppyseed Muffins
  • Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake
  • Olive Oil Dark Chunk Loaf
  •  
     
    2. HOMEMADE VINAIGRETTE

    Homemade vinaigrette takes two minutes to make, at a mere fraction of the cost of buying bottled dressing. And no bottled dressing can beat the taste (or the quality of ingredients) of a simple homemade vinaigrette.

    Here’s a recipe that uses lemon juice instead of vinegar. It’s more sprightly. You can substitute lime juice, which is a classic Mexican variation.

    Homemade Vinaigrette Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (ideally Meyer lemon)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  •  
    Preparation
    Just place all ingredients in a sealed jar and shake to combine. Is so easy: How can you not make your own vinaigrette?
     
     
    3. SAUTÉ & FRY

    It’s not true that you shouldn’t cook with extra virgin olive oil. It’s perfectly suitable for frying, poaching and sautéing.

    The accurate statement is that you shouldn’t cook with your $20 bottles of it—save the pricey bottles for salads or drizzling.

    Good olive oil will stand up well to high frying temperatures. A general rule of thumb is that the higher the quality of the oil and the fresher it is, the higher the smoke point will be.*

    Quality olive oil has a high smoking point upwards of 425°F, well above the ideal temperature for frying food of around 350°F. See the comparison chart below.

    In addition to frying eggs in olive oil, EVOO is a great choice for a simple stir-fry.
     
    Can we entice you to make this recipe for Olive Oil Sweet Potato Chips?

     
    Smoke Point Chart
     
    Chart courtesy California Oil Ranch.

    _______________

    *A high quality oil loaded with antioxidants will hold its form longer, while a lower quality oil with high free fatty acid content will smoke at a lower temperature.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Posole, A Mexican Stew That Sticks To Your Ribs

    On a freezing day like today, cook something that will stick to your ribs. One option is the Mexican dish, posole (also spelled pozole).

    While Americans eat lots of burritos, enchiladas, tacos and tostadas, not many outside the Southwest are familiar with posole, a dish made from hominy.

    Posole means “hominy” in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. It’s a cross between soup and stew (here’s the difference between soup and stew).

    Hominy, which is cooked like beans, is made from shelled, dried maize (corn) kernels that have been treated with an alkali—lye or lime solution—in a process called nixtamalization, that makes the kernels puff up.

    The kernels are then washed to remove the excess solution, the hull, and often the germ. The hominy (photo #3) has a chewy texture and is often likened to the flavor of a corn tortilla.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF POSOLE

    The Aztecs believed that humans were made out of masa (cornmeal dough) by the corn gods. Since maize (corn) was a sacred plant for the Aztecs and other Mesoamericans, posole was a special-occasion dish.

    There’s a gruesome bit about the origin of the dish, in the footnote* below.

    Posole was mentioned in the Florentine Codex by Bernardino de Sahagún, a 16th-century Franciscan friar, missionary priest and pioneering ethnographer of the Aztec culture.

    In modern times, posole remains a beloved dish throughout Mexico. It is considered festive and and is commonly enjoyed for special occasions—Christmas, Independence Day, weddings, etc.—but can also be dished up whenever you feel like it. You’ll find specialty restaurants called pozolerias in Mexico.

    The dish is spelled pozole or posole in different parts of the country.
     
     
    RECIPE: POSOLE ROJO (RED POSOLE) WITH CHICKEN

    This recipe for classic Mexican posole (poe-SO-lay) comes to us from Rancho Gordo, our favorite source for dried artisan beans and related products.

    It uses dried hominy. Don’t be tempted to use canned hominy: It cooks up with a rubbery or gummy texture.

    Posole Rojo is Mexican comfort food, a stew of shredded pork or chicken and hominy in a red chile broth. Aside from the time it takes to soak and cook the hominy, the recipe is easy to make—and it’s loaded with authentic Mexican flavor.

    Posole Verde is made with green chiles. Posole Blanco, has no chiles in the broth but is served with a salsa of manzano chiles on the side.
     
    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium white onions, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons red chile powder†
  • 1 tablespoon oregano†
  • 3-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups cooked white corn posole/prepared hominy
  •  

    Red Posole
    [1] Posole typically is an overnight affair: up to 10 hours to soak the hominy. This recipe from Budget Bites gives you a version that takes just 30 minutes.


    [2X] Posole with four garnishes. Here’s the recipe from Food & Wine.

    Hominy - Posole
    [3] Hominy from heirloom corn, at Anson Mills.

  • 7 cups (approximately, about 2 pounds) poached chicken, shredded
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garnishes of choice: chile powder, chopped cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, diced avocado, finely chopped onions, lime wedges, shredded lettuce, thinly-sliced radishes, tortilla chips
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft. Add the tomato paste, chile powder and oregano, stirring until all ingredients are warmed through and well mixed.

    2. ADD 4 cups water, the broth and the posole. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for half an hour.

    3. ADD the chicken, stir, and then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with garnishes on the side, so each diner can use his/her favorite toppings.
     

    To Cook Dried Posole

    1. SORT through and rinse the posole/hominy. Soak from 6 to 10 hours in cold water, then strain. In a large pot…

    2. ADD the soaked posole (about 2 cups), 3 quarts of water and a roughly chopped onion. Bring to a hard boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for about 4 hours. The posole will flower, like popcorn, when it’s finished.

    3. STRAIN and use in any recipe calling for cooked posole. You can freeze any extra drained, cooked posole.
     
    ________________

    *Mesoamerican people conducted ritual human sacrifice. Originally, pozole was made from the meat of prisoners whose hearts had been ripped out in ritual sacrifice. After the Spanish conquest in 1519, cannibalism was banned and the meat in the dish was replaced with pork [source].

    †New Mexican red chile powder and Mexican oregano are available from RanchoGordo.com.
     

    Comments

    RECIPE: Jean-George’s Fried Eggs

    Gourmet Fried Eggs
    [1] Fried extras with extra dazzle from Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

    Spring Onions
    [2] Spring onions, not to be confused with green onions, a.k.a. scallions (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    How does the great Chef Jean-George Vongerichten enjoy his fried eggs?

    With asparagus, bacon and crisp croutons. He recipe is quite simple. Since asparagus isn’t in season, feel free to substitute broccolini, broccoli rabe or green beans.
     
     
    RECIPE: JEAN-GEORGE VONGERICHTEN’S FRIED EGGS

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 slices bacon, preferably double-smoked, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 slice sourdough bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • 2 larger asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced 1/8 inch thick at an angle
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 white new (spring) onion or scallion*, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced at an angle
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh long red (finger) chili
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  •  
     
    ________________

    *Here’s the difference between spring onions, green onions (scallions) and their relatives.
    ________________

     
    Preparation

    1. COOK the bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to separate the pieces, until golden and the fat is rendered, 2 to 3 minutes.

    2. ADD the bread and asparagus and season with a small pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon and bread are evenly browned and crispy, about 7 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook until tender and fragrant, about 2 minutes.

    3. BREAK the eggs into the pan, letting the whites run together. When the bottom just sets, sprinkle the chili, dill and a small pinch of salt over the eggs. Cook until the white are set and the yolks are runny, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.
     
     
    >>>CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EGGS<<<

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Re-Envision Your Favorite Salad (We Picked Greek Salad)

    It’s the month of good eating resolutions. One of the easiest to follow: add more salads.

    Whether it’s a main salad or a side salad, just avoid creamy dressings, stick to vinaigrettes, and you’re set.

    One of our favorites is a Greek Salad, so here are some ways to approach it—and get creative ideas for your own favorite salad(s).
     
     
    CLASSIC GREEK SALAD WITH SPIRALIZED CUCUMBER

    This salad (photo #1) has classic ingredients with a variation in texture: Get out your spiralizer and spiralize the cucumbers, instead of slicing them.

    It adds a fun element with different texture that leads to a slightly different taste experience. Be sure to drain the spiralized cucumbers on paper towels to keep water out of the salad.

    Other salad vegetables to spiralize—and one fruit—are apple, beet, bell pepper, carrot, red onion and zucchini/yellow squash.

    What about tomatoes? hard to find decent tomatoes in the winter, so look to cherry tomatoes or sundried tomatoes, plumped up in olive oil.

    Thanks to The Pampered Chef for this recipe.
     
    Ingredients For 8 One-Cup Side Servings Or 3-4 Main Salads

    For The Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon (2 mL) dried oregano leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.5 mL) each salt and black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  •  
    For The Salad

  • 2 English cucumbers, cut in halves or thirds
  • 1 small red onion (or ½ medium onion), peeled and ends trimmed
  • 1 pint (2 cups/500 mL) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 jar (7.5 oz/212 g) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) Kalamata olives, pitted and halved, or pitted ripe olives, sliced
  • 4 ounces (125 g) crumbled feta cheese
  • Garnish: oregano
  • Optional garnishes: anchovies, pepperoncini
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together all the ingredients and set aside.

    2. SPIRALIZE the cucumbers. Snip the cucumber noodles occasionally to shorten the strands. Place the cucumbers on paper towels and blot any excess moisture. Allow the excess water to drain prior to assembling the salad.

    3. SPIRALIZE the red onion, then cut the spirals in half. Rinse the spirals under water to remove the bite. Drain and set aside.

    4. SLICE the tomatoes in half. Combine the cucumber, onion, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, and cheese in a large bowl. Toss to combine.

    5. DRIZZLE the mixture with half of the salad dressing and garnish with oregano. Serve the remaining dressing on the side.
     
    Italian Variation

    The two neighboring peninsulas share a number of ingredients, including artichokes, olives and oregano. Their cheeses are different, though, so:

  • ADD 1 ounce (30 g) finely grated Parmesan cheese to the dressing.
  • SUBSTITUTE Castelvetrano olives for the Kalamata olives
  • ADD 3 ounces (90 g) salami, cubed
  • SUBSTITUTE 4 ounces (125g) ciliegine (cherry-size fresh mozzarella balls), cut in half, for the feta
  •  
     
    MORE GREEK SALAD RECIPES

  • Authentic Greek Salad Recipe
  • Greek Salad With Fries & Tzatziki
  • Greek Salad Variations
  •  
    Plus

  • Greek Potato Salad
  • How To Choose Feta Cheese
  •  
     
    >>>HERE’S THE HISTORY OF GREEK SALAD<<<
     
     
    >>>HERE’S THE HISTORY OF SALAD IN GENERAL<<<

     

    Spiralizer Greek Salad
    [1] Spiralize your cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, etc. (photo and recipe courtesy The Pampered Chef).

    Greek Cobb Salad
    [2] Adapt the style of another favorite salad, the Cobb Salad. Here, the Greek Salad ingredients—feta, olives, onions, tomatoes—substitute for traditional Cobb ingredients—avocado, bacon, hard-boiled eggs and roquefort cheese (photo courtesy The Tuck Rooom | L.A.).

    Deconstructed Greek Salad
    [3] Make your salad sliceable: Use romaine “boats” as the base to be covered with the other ingredients (photo courtesy DeLallo).

    Vertical Greek Salad
    [4] Get fancy with this vertical—horiatiki is a Greek salad without the lettuce. The word means village salad or rustic salad (photo courtesy Death Ave | NYC).

    Greek Salad Sandwich
    [5] Familiar ground: Greek salad in a pita. Here’s the recipe from Girl Versus Dough, using homemade pita.

     

     

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2019 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.