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

Mandarinquats
[1] Mandarinquats at Eataly | Chicago (photo courtesy Eataly).

Mandarinquat
[2] Mandarinquats close up (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

 

Cross-breeding fruits and vegetables to discover a desirable hybrid is an ongoing task among breeders everywhere. (Hybridization is the same as cross-breeding.)

You may have come across apriums and plucots, both of which are crosses of apricots and plums, with different percentages of genes.

We just saw our first mandarinquat, a cross between an mandarin and a kumquat.

The hybrid created a very juicy, larger fruit.

“If you’re into tart fruit, this is a great one to eat out-of-hand, but it also lends itself to preserving, juicing or zesting,” says Good Eggs, which retails the fruit.

They suggest using a mandarinquat instead of an orange or lime in cocktails for some added acidity.

The fruits in photo #2 were grown at Deer Creek Heights Ranch in Porterville, California.

We always drool at the produce of Good Eggs, which, from its headquarters in the Bay Area of California, has access to many dedicated family farmers who grow wonderful produce.

Our idea of a vacation: Head to the Good Eggs warehouse and walk up and down the aisles for a taste-a-thon. (That’s just a fantasy—the company is a delivery service only.)
 
 
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PLANT BREEDING

Plant breeding dates back to the domestication of the first agricultural plants, somd 9,000 to 11,000 years ago.

Early farmers selected plants with desirable characteristics and used their seeds to propagate subsequent generations.

Over time, a better plant was produced: hardier, bigger, tastier, etc.

 

In modern times, the science and understanding of genetics, and how to crossbreed, was established by the Augustinian monk and scientist Gregor Mendel (1822-1884).

Today, plant breeding goes beyond genetics, with a scientific basis that incorporates molecular biology, cytology, systematics, physiology, pathology, entomology, chemistry, and biometrics.

Here’s more about it.

  

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PRODUCTS: Great Gluten-Free Breads, Crackers & Cookies

Only one of us at THE NIBBLE follows a gluten-free diet, but all of us like to taste the products that are so good, no conventional eater would notice they were GF.

This week’s product selection is certified gluten free, but anyone at any table should be happy to eat them.

We present them in alphabetical order.
 
 
1. CANYON BAKEHOUSE COUNTRY WHITE BREAD

Several loaves of bread arrived from Canyon Bakehouse one Friday afternoon. Rather than have them sit all weekend, we asked if anyone wanted to take them home.

No one in attendance pursued a gluten-free diet, but our colleague Bingo Wyer volunteered.

“I almost didn’t take the loaves because I don’t typically buy white bread, and I have no gluten issues.

“And ‘Country’ as an adjective for white bread seemed a bit of an over-promise. However…

“They’re very good: a nice texture, good crust and very good flavor. I’m surprised: I really, really liked them.

“My favorite is the gluten-free Ancient Grain (photo #2). It’s dense and while it’s pre-packaged, sliced bread, it’s moist, tasty and has heft [i.e., dense, not airy].

“My loaves were happily turned into toast, French toast, sandwiches, stuffing and bread pudding.”

The line is certified kosher by Circle V (Vaad Hoeir of St. Louis).

Discover more, including recipes and coupons, at CanyonGlutenFree.com.
 
 
2. JANE BAKES GLUTEN-FREE COOKIES

A few months ago, Jane Bakes cookies were our Top Pick Of The Week. We ate all the traditional varieties, but had not yet tried the gluten-free cookies.

Not surprisingly, given the amazing quality of those first cookies, the gluten-free varieties are just as good:

  • Gluten-Free Amaretto & Oatmeal
  • Gluten-Free Double Chocolate
  •  
    You can buy them in bags, boxes (photo #3) or gift jars.

    These artisan cookies are pricier than some others, but the quality and experience are worth every penny.

    Get them at JaneBakes.com.

     

    Canyon Bakehouse Ancient Grains
    [1] Canyon Bakehouse’s dense and tasty gluten-free Ancient Grain bread (photo E. Bingo Wyer | THE NIBBLE).

    Canyon Bakehouse Gluten Free Bread
    [2] Canyon Bakehouse makes more than 15 types of gluten-free bread products (photo courtesy Canyon Bakehouse).

    Jane Bakes Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies
    [3] Jane’s outstanding cookies are available in conventional and gluten-free varieties (photo courtesy Jane Bakes).

     

    Gluten-Free Fig Bars
    [3] (photo courtesy Gluten Free Boston & Beyond).

    RW Garcia Artisan Crackers
    [4] RW Garcia’s gluten-free snack chips are a hit with us (photo courtesy RW Garcia).

     

    3. PAMELA’S FIGGIES & JAMMIES

    Our grandfather’s favorite cookie was Fig Newtons, and in our childhood, we enjoyed them together.

    Over time, as ingredients were perhaps downgraded and our palate was upgraded, we no longer ate them. We tried Fig Newmans, better but no cigar.

    Decades later, however, Pamela, the doyenne of premier gluten free baked goods, produced her own versions, Figgies & Jammies. And even with no gluten, they’re better than any other brand we’ve tried.

    Figgies & Jammies are made in four flavors:

  • Blueberry & Fig
  • Mission Fig
  • Raspberry & Fig
  • Strawberry & Fig
  •  
    The first three are also available in Big Fig bars, 1.41 ounces compared to .9 ounces for Figgies & Jammies.

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by OU. Discover more at PamelasProducts.com.
     
     
    4. RW GARCIA’S 3 SEED CRACKERS

    What’s a cross between a cracker and a chip? RW Garcia’s snack crackers, which can be eaten like a chip: from the bag or bowl, with or without a dip.

    Or, serve them like a cracker, with cheeses, spreads, or turned into a canapé.

    The crackers are all natural and gluten free. Each has added seed nutrition via a mix of black sesame seed, brown flaxseeds and chia seeds.

     
    Don’t choose; have them all:

  • 3 Seed Harvest Crackers (pumpkin and blue corn)
  • 3 Seed Kale Crackers
  • 3 Seed Sweet Beet Crackers
  • 3 Seed Sweet Potato Crackers
  •  
    The company also makes delicious Pulse Tortilla Chips, made with legumes and ancient grains. The chips are high in protein, high in fiber, and low in fat.

  • Black Bean
  • Lentil
  • Chickpea and roasted red pepper
  •  
    The line is certified gluten-free and certified kosher (dairy) by OU. Discover more at RWGarcia.com.

    Stay tuned for more gluten-free favorites!

      

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    RECIPE: Cherry Tart Or Summer Fruit Tart With Lemon Mascarpone Filling

    Skip the cherry pie for George Washington”s Birthday (February 22nd). Make this delicious cherry tart instead.

    The recipe, sent to us by Vermont Creamery via the New England Open House Cookbook, actually works with any fruit.

    When berry season arrives, make it with blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries; or call in the stone fruits—apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums. Fig lovers: Use fresh figs.

    Your fruit of choice—rest atop a filling of lemon-mascarpone cream. Is your mouth watering yet?

    The cherry tart can be frozen or canned cherries, or fresh cherries in season.
     
     
    COOKING WITH CHERRIES

    While cherries are a summer fruit and we love eating the sweet ones—Bing, Queen Anne [a.k.a. Royal), Rainier—the cherries that are best for baking and cooking are the sour/tart cherries.

    They are rarely sold fresh: Most taste too tart to eat without sweetening and cooking. But they are superior to sweet varieties when when cooked or baked, and are the type used for making jams and preserves.

    Sour cherries like the Montmorency (which accounts for more than 95% of the U.S. sour cherry market) are pitted and then canned in water or syrup, or frozen. The frozen cherries generally have a better texture and taste than the canned options.

    Here’s more on the different types of cherries.
     
     
    RECIPE: FRUIT TART WITH LEMON MASCARPONE FILLING

    Serve the tart the same day it is made, preferably within a few hours of making it. If that’s too much to do with other cooking needs, save this recipe for when you’re invited to dinner and can bring it as dessert.

    Ingredients For A 9-Inch Crust

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting the work surface
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • About 3 tablespoons ice water
  •  
    Ingredients For The Lemon Mascarpone Cream Filling

  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 5 ounces (2/3 cup) mascarpone
  • 1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  •  
    Ingredients For The Topping

  • 3 cups fresh raspberries or other fresh fruit of choice
  • 1 cup seedless berry or red currant jelly
  • 1/3 cup cassis (black currant liqueur)
  •  
     
    Preparation

     

    Cherry Tart
    [1] Hungry yet? Get ready to make this cherry tart (photo courtesy New England Open House Cookbook).

    Vermont Creamery Mascarpone
    [2] The cherries lie atop a filling of lemon mascarpone. We use Vermont Creamery’s mascarpone (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Frozen Cherries
    [3] Pick up a bag of frozen cherries (photo courtesy Dole).

    New England Open House Cookbook
    [4] Get a copy of the New England Open House Cookbook (photo courtesy Workman Publishing Company).

     
    1. PLACE a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. This recipe makes enough dough for two nine-inch tarts. Half the pastry can be stored in the freezer, where it is easily thawed for the next tart.

    2. PLACE the flour, sugar, pinch of salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse the machine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running, drizzle in enough ice water to make the dough begin to form into a ball.

    3. DIVIDE the pastry dough in half and, working on a lightly floured work surface, shape each half into a flat disk. Wrap each pastry disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate the disks for at least 45 minutes and up to 24 hours or freeze them for up to 3 months.

    4. FLOUR the work surface lightly. Roll out 1 pastry disk to form an approximately 11-inch circle. Ease the pastry into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Crimp the edge decoratively, trimming away any excess dough. Refrigerate the tart crust for about 30 minutes before baking it.

    5. LINE the chilled tart crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill it with ceramic pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart crust until the edges begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and liner and continue baking until the bottom is a light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. When finished, transfer the tart crust to a wire rack and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. As the crust bakes…

    6. MAKE the filling. Combine the eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, mascarpone, cream, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat with a hand-held electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Pour the filling into the baked tart crust.

    7. BAKE the tart until the filling is set, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the tart cool completely on the wire rack.

    8. ARRANGE the fruit in a tight, attractive concentric circles on the top of the tart. Place the jelly and cassis in a small saucepan, stir to combine, and heat over medium-low heat until melted and smooth.

    9. BRUSH the warm jelly mixture gently over the fruit with a pastry brush. Refrigerate the tart until ready to serve.

      

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    RECIPE: Cherry Cocktails For Presidents Day


    [1] Cherry Chiller cocktail made with rosé champagne (photo courtesy Moet et Chandon).

    Cherry Cocktail Recipe
    [2] Herradura Diablo, made with tequila and cherry liqueur (photo courtesy Herradura).

     

    Presidents’ Day is upon us, and George Washington’s birthday is February 22nd. Let’s celebrate with some cherry cocktails.

    Although the story of George Washington and the cherry tree is apocryphal, made up by his biographer, everyone can still enjoy cherries on Washington’s birthday. The layer of red liqueur is also an homage to George Washington and the apocryphal cherry tree (link).

    You can create cocktails with cherry juice, cherry liqueur, and frozen cherries (thawed!).

    If you particularly like these recipes, make them again when cherries come into season.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: CHERRY CHILLER CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

    This recipe came to us courtesy of Moet et Chandon champagne. It was created by Kim Haasarud of Liquid Architecture, a restaurant consulting firm.

    Rosé Champagne or other rose bubbly makes this a beautiful cocktail for Presidents Day (or a belated Valentine’s Day).

    Cherry season is months away, so defrost frozen cherries.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 basil leaves, sliced into thin strips (chiffonade)
  • 3 pitted bing cherries, plus 2 extra for garnish
  • 1/2 ounce gin
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 3-4 ounces Moët & Chandon Rosé Imperial, or other rosé sparkling wine
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the basil, cherries, lime juice, gin and simple syrup in a mixing glass. Muddle. Top with ice and shake vigorously.

    2. POUR the contents into a highball glass and top with campagne.

     
     
    RECIPE #2: HERRADURA DIABLO

    This cocktail uses cherry liqueur for its vibrant red color.

    We’re not sure why it’s called “diablo,” since the ginger syrup doesn’t provide much heat. But you can always add droplets of chile oil as a garnish, or use a slice of red jalapeño as a rim garnish.

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1½ ounces Herradura Silver Tequila or substitute
  • ½ ounce Cherry Heering or other cherry liqueur
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¾ ounce ginger syrup (buy it or make it)
  •  
    Preparation

    Place all ingredients in to a cocktail shaker filled with cubed ice. Shake hard and strain over ice into a chilled coupe glass.
     
     
    WHAT IS CHERRY HEERING?

    Erroneously called Cherry Herring, this cherry liqueur is named for its Danish creator, liqueur manufacturer Peter Heering.

    It has nothing to do with a herring.

      

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    RECIPE: Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower

    Roasted cauliflower is a popular side dish in our home. Leftovers can be reheated, served cold with a vinaigrette, or added to a green salad.

    Our most recent discovery: Add some blue cheese dressing and toothpicks, and serve them with wine and beer.

    This recipe is from Chef Adrianne Calvo, of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar in Miami.

    Note about the cauliflower: While you only use the florets in this recipe, the stems and the core are equally delicious.

    Save them to chop into green salads, or steam/boil and purée.

    Bonus: Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetables group, packed full of anti-carcinogen antioxidants.
     
     
    RECIPE: GARLIC-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

    Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper freshly-groumd, to taste
  •  
    For The Dip

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon capers
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
  •  

    Roasted Cauliflower With Garlic Recipe
    [1] As a side or a snack, low in calories, high in cruciferous-vegetable antioxidants (photo courtesy Chef Adrianne).

    Garlic Cloves
    [2] Garlic cloves, roasted in the oven, become mellow (photo courtesy Domain-Image.com).

     
    This is essentially flavored mayonnaise. It’s nice, it needed something, so we added capers. Very good!

    For a low-calorie version, substitute Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise.

    We were also happy when we substituted this blue cheese dip and dressing recipe.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Toss the cauliflower, garlic cloves and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper.

    2. PLACE on a cookie sheet and bake for 17-20 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile…

    3. WHISK the mayonnaise and lemon juice in a small bowl or ramekin. Top with freshly-cracked black pepper.

      

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