THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Oatmeal Cookie Day

We like oatmeal cookies, so we need no excuse to bake up a batch to celebrate Oatmeal Cookie Day. Our favorite variations are oatmeal chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin, where we substitute dried cherries for half of the raisins. But other people (specialty food companies, to be specific) have done a darn good job of baking their own variations on the oatmeal cookie. Here are some of our favorites:- Try the oatmeal cookies from Najla’s Kosher Gone Chunky. They arrive frozen, to be baked up whenever you need one or more. We must admit, they were so good, we ate the frozen dough from the freezer.   Oatmeal Whoopie Pie
Wicked Whoopies’ Oatmeal Whoopie Pie: creme sandwiched in-between two crunchy, cinnamon-flavored oatmeal cookie.
– The makers of our favorite chocolate chip cookies, Levain Bakery, also make an oatmeal raisin cookie—huge, moist and delicious.

– Yee hah, these spicy Ancho Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Sparx are good.

– If you need a sugar-free oatmeal cookie, Curious Cookie has good ones.

– And if you want a whoopie pie made with two oatmeal cookies and a creamy filling between them, Wicked Whoopie Pies will oblige (photo above). Find more of our favorite cookies in the Cookie Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Re-Think Your Salt

Alaea Hawaiian Sea SaltAlaea red lava salts from Hawaii are colored and flavored by clay in the local water. Photo courtesy of Saltworks.us.   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. You’ll have a great time perusing our glossary of artisan salts in the Salts & Seasonings Section on THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Nuovo Pasta Gourmet Ravioli

Ravioli lovers, dinner-party givers, and foodies of all inclinations: It doesn’t get more exciting than this. The word “ravioli” typically conjures up the image of pleasant pasta pillows stuffed with some vague meat or cheese. Not any more! Be prepared to be blasted to a higher level of ravioli consciousness by the artisans at Nuovo Pasta. For years we have lusted after Nuovo Pasta’s visually stunning, palate-tantalizing ravioli. We have longed to introduce them to you, dear NIBBLE reader. Heck, we have longed to get our own hands on them, but have been limited to tasting them at trade shows. The unmovable obstacle has been that Nuovo sells its gorgeous products only to restaurants, caterers and distributors. But now, we all can buy the same amazing ravioli that the professionals do, and wow our families and guests in the way that diners are wowed at top restaurants. Our good fortune is thanks to Marx Foods, a distributor of gourmet products to fine food establishments. They’ve made their wares available to consumers nationwide, through their online store.   Gourmet Ravioli
A trio of gourmet raviolis: from the top, a regular round ravioli, a girasole (sunflower) and a pansotti (trainagle).
As we sit here eating giant ravioli (a.k.a. ravioloni—a single piece is an entire first course), one stuffed with osso bucco and one with Point Reyes blue cheese (a prior NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), we are eternally grateful. There are plenty of regular-sized ravioli, too, but there is nothing “regular” about these beautiful pastas—triangular, round and rectangular, flecked, striped and marbled. They are stuffed with veal Bolognese, crawfish and andouille sausage, Grand Marnier roast duck, portabella mushrooms and Asiago cheese and dozens of other wonders. They’re irresistible, and will make your dinner parties the talk of the town. Read more and see all the photos in the full review. Pick your favorite and order a memorable first course for Easter dinner. And find more of our favorite pastas and sauces in the Pasta Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine. Want to know the difference between ravioli, ravioloni, girasoles, pansotti, sacchette and a hundred other types of pasta? See our Pasta Glossary.

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GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Win A Key Lime Tart & Tostitos

Key Lime Tart
This tasty key lime tart could be yours.
  We just selected the winner of last week’s Gourmet Giveaway, who is now the proud owner of a delicious Easter ham (at least, it will soon be on its way to her). So if you’d like to win the Key lime tart at the left—which, owing to the strangeness of Easter falling this Sunday, will be your post-Easter gift from THE NIBBLE—enter this week’s Gourmet Giveaway and answer a few trivia questions about limes. The Q&A isn’t exactly trivial: You’ll learn fun facts about the tart green fruit (although some varieties are as sweet as oranges), without which there would be no Margaritas, either.

There’s a special bonus this week: 10 MORE PRIZES! In honor of National Chip & Dip Day, March 23 (coincidentally, that’s Easter Sunday this year), Tostitos® is giving ten lucky winners second prizes of Tostitos Chips & Dip gift sets.

So, if you’ve refrained from entering the Gourmet Giveaway in the past because you think your chances of winning the one big prize aren’t so great: Now we may pull your name out of the hat (actually, it’s a computerized random selector) for one of 11 prizes. See our favorite fruits in the Fruits & Nuts Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine…or check out the chips in our Snacks Section.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Coconut Torte Day

March 13th, Coconut Torte Day, begs the question: What is a torte? Is it just a pretentious word for cake, something to make you think the torte is more special than an everyday cake?

Nein, mein freund. While torte is the German word for what the British (and Americans) call cake and the French call gâteau, they don’t refer to identical confections.

Different cooking traditions led to different styles of baking.

  • British cakes, German tortes and Italian tortas are generally hardier creations than delicate French gâteaux.
  • The French, those keen culinarians, went for light, rich, layered affairs stuffed with custard, whipped cream or butter cream, frosted, and decorated with fresh fruit—oh la la, but very perishable.
  • While British culinary tradition created sturdier, longer-lasting pound cakes and fruit cakes, tortes are rich, dense cakes made with many eggs and little or no flour, using ground nuts (and sometimes breadcrumbs) for texture.
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    A torte is thus easily recognizable because it’s one layer that’s shorter than a typical cake layer, often no more than 2-1/2 inches high because there’s not much, if any, flour to rise. Flourless cakes are tortes. The crumb is denser than the airy crumb of a layer cake; it’s similar to the density of a Bundt cake.

    And a torte is wider than a cake—usually 10 to 12 inches in diameter compared to the typical 8-to-9-inch cake. That’s to compensate for the shorter height, so each short wedge will be a good portion.
     
    KNOW YOUR TORTES

    Alas, many people, including some bakers, use terms incorrectly. The following may be called “torte” by their makers and/or sellers, but are not tortes:

  • Bundt cakes
  • Layer cakes
  • Sheet cakes
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    Remember these words: one short, dense, round layer.
     
     
    TORTE VS. TART: THE DIFFERENCE

    These two are not related except broadly: both are filled baked goods that can be sweet or savory.

  • A torte (photos 1, 2 and 3) is a type of cake. It does not have a separate crust, as do tarts and pies. It is baked in a tin with smooth edges.
  • A tart (photo #4) is related to a pie: a filled crust. A tart has no top crust but it may have a lattice. A pie can have a top crust, no top crust, or a lattice. It is baked in a tin with crimped edges (more difference between tarts and pies).
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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/coconut torte sweetsmarts 230
    [1] A torte can be plain or iced. Here, a plain coconut torte from SweetSmarts.com; it’s also sugar-free.

    Coconut Torte
    [2] A Key Lime Coconut Torte from Pixilated Crumb.

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    [3] A flourless almond and coconut torte from Food52.com.

    Linzertorte
    [4] A linzer tart. A tart is NOT a torte. See the difference at left.

     
    Unlike a pie, which has a soft, thin crust and—often—a soft filling that will ooze out once sliced, tarts have a hard, thick crust and a firm filling.

  • The entire tart stands erect on its own, with no pan to hold it. In fact, the baking pan is removed before the tart is brought to the table.
  • Similarly, the firm filling of a sliced tart will not ooze.
  •  
    What to remember: torte is a cake, tart is a [relative of] open-face pie.
     
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CAKES IN THE NIBBLE’S TASTY CAKE GLOSSARY.

      

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