THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Cheese Folios, Wraps Made From Cheese & Lactose Free!

Once every five or ten years we see a product innovation that we would be delighted to consume regularly.

Some never make it commercially.

We still lament the pizza cone, made from pizza crust shaped like an ice cream cone. You could stuff with your favorite pizza ingredients—mozzarella, pepperoni, sauce, etc.—and eat your cone on the go.

The latest innovation that we hope will be a big success:

Folios Cheese Wraps. The Gourmet Retailer awarded them the 2017 Editor’s Pick for Best New Products.

You can take the 100% cheese wraps and use them to wrap, roll, melt, crisp, or crisp and shape. See their versatility in the photos.
 
 
WHAT ARE FOLIOS CHEESE WRAPS?

Folios Cheese Wraps (photo #7) are all natural, 100% cheese circles/slices.

They are used instead of bread, flour-based wraps or corn-based tortillas; and can be shaped into bowls, pockets and taco shells.

They have no fillers or additives and are rBST free and gluten free (all cheese is gluten-free; gluten only occurs in certain cereal grains).

And, they are also lactose free. That takes an extra step in production, for which lactose-sensitive cheese lovers will be grateful.

The wraps are 7 inches in diameter, but are not simply sliced from a block of cheese.

Rather, a lot of research and development went into a process involving baking the slices (that’s the only secret divulged), to end up with a slice a cheese that looks like…a slice of cheese.

They are made in three varieties: Cheddar, Jarlsberg and Parmesan.

Each slice has 13g of protein, plus just 1g of carbs and 150 calories per slice.
 
 
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE CHEESE WRAPS?

Use them instead of bread, wraps, tortillas and other carb-laden bread substitutes. You can:

  • Make wrap sandwiches (photo #1), filling the cheese wrap with whatever you like. You can also heat it a bit to make a melt.
  • Cut the wraps into pinwheels (photo #5).
  • Make salad wraps.
  • Bake them into salad bowls (photo #2), or a cheese bowl for vegetables, risotto, bean dishes, etc.
  • Bake them into taco shells (photo #3).
  • Have them as a snack wrapped around a mix of crudités or much larger vegetables: whole or halved carrots, celery stalks, steamed broccoli/broccolini spears, pickle spears, etc.
  • Melt them over bowls of soup.
  • Serve them as a fruit-and-cheese course.
  •  
    You can shape, bake, microwave or enjoy them in their natural state.

    Some ideas:
     
    For The Cheddar Wraps

    In addition to the uses above, substitute in Tex-Mex dishes:

  • Fajitas
  • Nachos (cut into triangle “tortilla chips”)
  • Taco shells
  •  
    You can get even more creative by, for example, pressing jalapeño slices into the Folios (photo #6).
     
    For The Jarlsberg Wraps

  • Wrap it around a hot dog instead of a conventional roll. It makes a better cheese dog, unless you prefer Velveeta processed cheese.
  • Use one or two slices with a burger patty (instant cheeseburger!).
  • Fold up into pockets, like a square tart or galette (photo #4), sweet or savory.
  • Make a dessert with a slightly warmed slice spread with preserves and topped with fresh fruits.
  •  
    For The Parmesan Wraps

  • Make antipasto rolls, filling them salami, pepperoni and arugula.
  • Use as a base for cheese-on-cheese “pizza”: Warm a slice and top with sauce and mozzarella.
  • Roll and stuff as “cannelloni.”
  •  
    A natural pairing is with foods that typically contain Parmesan cheese.

  • Caesar salad.
  • Pasta.
  • Risotto.
  •  
    Experiment to your heart’s desire. For recipes and videos, head to CheeseFolios.com.
     
     
    ABOUT LOTITO FOODS

    Folios Cheese Wraps are made by Lotito Foods, a fourth-generation family business that sells retail, consumer and private label food product lines.

    Their products are available nationwide.

     

    Folio Parmesan Wrap Sandwich
    [1] Jarlsberg Folios Cheese Wrap with roast beef and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. You can make it or buy balsamic glaze (all photos courtesy Lotito Foods).

    Caesar Salad in Parmesan Bowl
    [2] A Parmesan Folios Cheese Wrap is turned into a bowl for a Caesar salad. Just heat it and shape it over a bowl.

    Taco Shell Made From Cheese
    [3] A Cheddar Folios Cheese Wrap becomes a taco shell. Heat it and shape it over a form.

    Swiss Chard Tart
    [4] Fold up into a tart or galette.

    Turkey & Spinach Wrap
    [5] Cut a wrap into pinwheels.

    Tortilla Chip With Jalapeno
    [6] Press in slices of jalapeño.

    Folios Cheese Wraps
    [7] The varieties of Folios Cheese Wraps: Cheddar, Jarlsberg and Parmesan.

     
    ABOUT LOTITO FOODS

    Folios Cheese Wraps are made by Lotito Foods, a fourth-generation family business that sells retail, consumer and private label food product lines.

    Their products are available nationwide.

      

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    PRODUCT: Simple Mills Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gluten Free

    Simple Mills Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies
    [1] Tender and irresistible cookies from the box.

    Simple Mills Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
    [2] A mix to bake your own (both photos courtesy Simple Mills).

     

    In celebration of National Chocolate Chip Day, May 15th, I ventured where I would not normally go: to the land of soft-baked chocolate chip cookies.

    Simple Mills sent me their vegan, gluten-free and paleo-friendly Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies (photo #1) and their Chocolate Chip Cookie Almond Flour Mix (photo #2), along with the promise of something revolutionary.

    The use of almond flour in both products piqued my interest. I ate the ready-made cookies from the box, and I baked a batch from the other.

    Both products are Certified Gluten-Free and Non GMO Project Verified.
     
    Simple Mills Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies

    That first tender bite, still firm enough and not over-chipped, got my attention. But the cookie simply disappeared before I had a chance to process all of its various gifts.

    So I reached for another, and another…and it pretty much went on like this until the box was half gone.

    My first impression was the yielding softness of the cookie, followed soon after by an appreciation of the its almost amaretti-like airiness: a moist delicacy balanced by hearty almond undertones.

    But this is not an esoteric cookie experience. It’s a cookie that will appeal to young and old; accessible enough for the Cookie Monster in all of us, but dimensional and subtle enough for a foodie.

    As it wins your heart with its tenderness, its flavor and slightly lower sugar content will appeal to your reason. The Soft Baked cookies contain 6 grams of sugar per 2-inch-diameter cookie. That’s 25% less sugar than in natural cookie counterparts
     
    Simple Mills Chocolate Chip Cookie Almond Flour Mix

    Want to bake? The Cookie Mix, with a very quick assembly and bake time, resulted in a slightly crunchier outer rim and a softer middle.

    The advantage of the mix is its ability to customize crunchy-to-soft ratios and include enhancements. I made half of my mixture chips-only and tossed a handful of chopped pecans into the rest. Future plans include ground coffee and dried apricot add-ins.

     
    The cookie mix’s delicious and soul-satisfying flavor is enhanced by a slightly higher 8 grams of sugar per single cookie serving. While I appreciate Simple Mills’ sugar-consciousness per cookie, I do think that limiting yourself to just one cookie will be a worthy challenge.

    Simple Mills cookie products (which are also soy-free and dairy-free) are available via the Simple Mills website as well as at stores nationwide (store locator).
     
    —by Georgi Page-Smithr

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Celebrate American Craft Beer Week

    This year, American Craft Beer Week is celebrated from May 14th through 20th. It’s about celebrating the artisan ingredients, and techniques, that make a craft beer so much more tasty and special than a mass brew.

    There are more than 6,000 breweries in the U.S., and 99% of them are defined by the Brewers Association as small*, traditional and independent.

    One of the problems in Beerland is that the huge global beer companies purchase hot independent beer brands†, and then apply their corporate protocols to chip away at the quality. Two we once enjoyed, Blue Point and Goose Island, simply aren’t as exciting as they used to be.

    How can you tell if a beer is made by an independent U.S. craft brewer or is part of a global conglomerate? Look for the independent craft brewer seal on the packaging (photo #2).

    The independent craft brewer seal was launched in June 2017 by the Brewers Association, the membership organization dedicated to promoting and protecting small and independent craft brewers in the U.S., and publishers of CraftBeer.com.
     
     
    7 WAYS TO CELEBRATE CRAFT BEER WEEK

    1. Try a new beer style. See if you can find one of the new coffee beers or tea beers, which add coffee or tea to the brew.

    2. Get a growler to go and invite some friends.

    3. Try new beer and food pairings.

  • Overview
  • Cheese & Beer Pairings
  • Ice Cream & Beer Pairings
  • Pizza & Beer Pairings
  • Sausage & Beer Pairings
  •  
    4. Take a brewery tour. More than 80% of drinking-age Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery, according to the Craft Brewers Association. Find one with their interactive guide to breweries. Or, try a simple browser search for “craft breweries near me.”

    5. Check out how to make a homebrew. It could become your new hobby.

    6. Give a shout-out to your favorite craft beer in social media.

    7. Plan a summer beercation.

     

    Glass Of Lager
    [1] Craft lager (photo courtesy Uno).

    Independent Craft Brewers Seal
    [2] This seal establishes that the beer was made by an independent craft brewer (image courtesy Craft Brewers Association).

     
     
    Happy American Craft Beer Week to all the small and independent brewers and the everyone who loves great beer.

    If you want to receive communications from the American Craft Beer association, send them your email.
     
     
    BRUSH UP YOUR BEER KNOWLEDGE WITH OUR BEER GLOSSARY.
    ________________

    *There are four different category classifications. A regional brewery is defined by an annual production of 15,000 to 6,000,000 barrels. A microbrewery is one that produces less than 15,000 barrels. The other two categories are brewpubs, which produce the smallest amount, and contract brewing companies, which producer beer for companies that don’t have their own facilities [more].

    †In the space of four years, for example, Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased beloved local breweries like Chicago’s Goose Island, Patchogue, New York’s Blue Point Brewing Co., Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel and Seattle’s Elysian Brewing [more].
     
    Craft Beer On Tap

    The beer taps at West End Hall, a beer garden in New York City that sells craft beers on tap and in bottles (photo courtesy West End Hall).
     

      

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    FOOD 101: Baking Powder History (Where Would We Be Without It?)

    Buttermilk Biscuits
    [1] Fluffy biscuits need baking powder (photo of buttermilk biscuits Robyn Mackenzie | Fotolia).

    Banana Bread Pancakes
    [2] There would be no fluffy pancakes without baking powder. Here’s the recipe for these Banana Bread Pancakes from The Baker Chick.

    Clabber Girl Baking Powder
    [3] Baking powder from Clabber Girl, one of the original brands still going strong—it’s the number-one seller in the U.S. (photo courtesy Handle The Heat).

    Tablespoon Of Baking Powder
    [4] A tablespoon of baking powder. Here’s how to tell if your baking powder and baking soda still have potency, from Still Tasty.

     

    May 14th is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. Head to your grocer’s refrigerator section to buy a tube, or make buttermilk biscuits from scratch.

    Either way, these high-rising biscuits, along with tall layer cakes and fluffy pancakes, owe their height to baking powder. When first patented in 1856, it was a revolutionary product.

    Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent, a mixture of an alkaline sodium (e.g. bicarbonate) and a weak acid salt (e.g. cream of tartar).

    When combined with a liquid, the acid-base reaction releases carbon dioxide into the batter or dough, which increases the volume and lightens the texture. This is the definition of a leavener: a substance that creates this chemical reaction.

    It was so important to cooking, that a vicious battle for brand domination in America arose in the latter half of the 19th century. Read about it in Baking Powder Wars: The Cutthroat Food Fight that Revolutionized Cooking.
     
     
    Before The Invention Of Baking Powder

    According to a review of the book in Extra Crispy, which begins its story in 1700s colonial America, the mark of a woman’s cooking skill was the quality of her bread. Was it soft or leaden?

    Bread was a large component in Colonial meals. A woman who couldn’t bake a good loaf was not a good woman, wife or mother.

    Yet, housewives had only wild yeast for leavening—an ingredient used since the dawn of baking.

    However, it required that the wild yeast fly through the window and settle on the dough. Commercial yeast from the Fleischmann Brothers would not be sold until 1868 (the history of yeast).

    Desperate housewives experimented with other household options.

  • Smelling salts were hard to dissolve.
  • Ammonia raised the bread, but made the food smell like…ammonia. And so forth, with no success.
  •  
    One day in the late 1700s, some Native Americans shared the technique of leavening bread using pearl ash or pearlash, potash, carbonate of potash, salts of tartar and soda ash. These are the chemical compound potassium carbonate.

    Scoop out the ashes from the fireplace (or use other burned plant material), soak them in water and you get a dilute form of lye. This mixture was used to make soap and gunpowder.

    It turned out to be the best-so-far leavener for baking.
     
     
    But We’re Eating Lye?

    Some readers will recognize potassium carbonate as the base ingredient of lye. For those wondering about how people can eat lye:

    It works in dilute forms (low concentrations) and is used to make other food products. Olives are traditionally brined in lye water. Pretzels get a lye bath, as do hominy, ramen and nixtimalized corn/masa that is used to make tortillas. The Scandinavian specialty, lutefisk, is soaked in water and lye. O.K.

    However, pearl ash wan’t perfect. It didn’t dissolve that easily, and wasn’t good for batters that contained ample fat (butter or oil).

    There, it generated a soapy taste, which was no surprise since soap was then a combination of lye solution and fat. So the search continued.
     
     
    The Birth Of Baking Powder

    Let’s start with baking soda, the chemical compound sodiumm bicarbonate.

    We know that as far back as 3500 B.C.E., the ancient Egyptians used a form of it (natron, primarily comprised of sodium carbonate) as a soap-like cleaning agent and in the mummification process.

    Sodium bicarbonate expanded in use: to brush teeth, to wash laundry, as an antacid and more. More recently, it has been turned into a deodorant for self, and fridge and cat litter.

    It’s also a main ingredient in fire extinguishers, which is why consumers are told to dump baking soda on grease fires.

    In 1843, baking soda crossed over to food.

     
    Alfred Bird, a British chemist, used it as the base to make the first baking powder leavener for his wife, who was allergic to yeast [source].

    Around the same time, Dr. Austin Church, an American medical doctor from Connecticut, developed his own version. In 1946 he joined with his brother-in-law John Dwight, who had his own Cow Brand of “aerated salt,” called Dwight’s Saleratus. Salertus is a combination of pearl ash had carbonic acid, which creates potassium bicarbonate.

    The brand eventually became Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.The familiar logo of Vulcan’s* flexed right arm holding the hammer wasn’t added until 1878, after an earlier family venture, Vulcan Spice Mills, which used a similar logo [source].

    Baking powder is a combination of baking soda, also a leavener (sodium bicarbonate), mixed with an acid salt, usually cream of tartar, and cornstarch (as a thickener).

    Baking powder was not just an American phenomenon. It was commercially launched in England in 1843 by Alfred Bird (better known for his invention of Bird’s Custard, an egg-free powder that was reconstituted with water.

    In 1856, a Harvard chemistry professor, Eben Horsford, developed an improved baking powder under the Rumford name, using monocalcium phosphate, a compound he patented. By 1896, the U.S., population 76 million, was using some 120 million pounds of baking powder annually.
     
     
    What About Egg Whites?

    French chefs used whisk-whipped egg whites to add lightness to baked goods like sponge cakes, and other foods like mousse.

    But unless you had major upper arm muscles, you waited until the end of the 19th century, when mechanical egg beaters were invented. (The first U.S. patent was in 1859, with an improved version patented in 1870. Cooks had to wait until 1908 for the first electric mixer.)
     
     
    BAKING SODA VS. BAKING POWDER

    Baking soda and baking powder are the two modern leaveners. They’re not interchangeable; they have different additives and strengths. Here’s the difference.
     
     
    FOOD TRIVIA: STALE BREAD

    Because modern food preservatives did not exist, bread quickly became stale.

  • Recipes like bread pudding, bread salad (panzanella) and French toast softened stale bread in liquid.
  • Stale bread was also used to make bread crumbs and to thicken soups like gazpacho.
  • According to the book, some families scrubbed the walls with their rock-hard bread crusts.
  • ________________

    *Vulcan is the Roman god of fire and metalworking. He came to be known as a symbol of industry. Variations of the arm and hammer are used by other companies, universities, and organizations in the U.S. and Europe. It’s on the state flag of Wisconsin and the symbol of the Socialist Labor Party of America. Here’s the history of the arm-and-hammer image.

      

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    FOOD 101: Fruit Cocktail History

    May 13th is National Fruit Cocktail Day.

    We’re all familiar with cans of fruit cocktail from Del Monte, Dole and Libby’s. But who first created it, and why is it called “cocktail?”

    First: There is no alcohol in a conventional fruit cocktail. So why is it called fruit cocktail, instead of simply fruit salad?

    There’s a second definition of “cocktail,” as in shrimp cocktail: “An appetizer made by combining pieces of food, such as fruit or seafood.”

    However, the smart money says that when you’re selling canned fruit, “fruit cocktail” sounds more exciting than “mixed fruits.”

    While fruit cocktail is sold canned, it can be made fresh and served in a coupe glass or other stemmed glass, where it puns on an alcoholic cocktail. Serve fresh fruit salad in a stemmed glass, tossed with some Grand Marnier—one of our mother’s favorite preparations, garnished with a fresh mint leaf—and it’s even more so.

    The USDA actually stipulates the ingredients in canned fruit cocktail. It must contain grapes, peaches, and pineapples; optional maraschino cherries and other fruits are permitted. The percentages are dictated [source]:

  • 30% to 50% diced peaches, any yellow variety
  • 25% to 45% diced pears, any variety
  • 6% to 16% diced pineapple, any variety
  • 6% to 20% whole grapes, any seedless variety
  • Few to no cherry halves, any light sweet or artificial red variety
  •  
    The original fruit cocktail sat in a sugar syrup. More recently, with consumer demands for less sugar, lower-sugar varieties are available in natural fruit juices (“no sugar added,” although fruit juice has natural sugar).

    The difference between fruit cocktail and fruit salad is that the latter contains larger pieces of fruit, while fruit cocktail is diced into like-size pieces.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF FRUIT COCKTAIL

    Who first named this childhood delight?

    Well: According to ancient Greek philosopher Plato, necessity is the mother of invention.

    The canning industry generally agrees that fruit cocktail was developed as a way make use of the fruit scraps left when bruised or otherwise damaged fruits could not be used in canning.

    Fruit cocktail has been a staple of the canned fruit industry since at least the 1940s, and was one of the most popular products Del Monte produced at the plant, from 1941 until the plant’s closure in 1999.

    What company first came up with the mix of fruits, and named the result “fruit cocktail”, is not absolutely certain.

    Here are the contenders:

  • 1893: Canner J.C. Ainsley of Campbell, California began marketing a canned “fruit salad” in 1893, under the Golden Morn label. According to the Campbell Historical Museum, the fruit salad contained cherries as well as diced fruits. The name was not fruit cocktail; however, the Golden Morn Fruit Cocktail Label below, from the San Jose Museum, purports to be from 1920.
  • 1930: Herbert Gray of San Jose’s Barron-Gray Packing Company. A 1958 article in the journal Canner and Packer, “100 Years of Canning in the West,” credited Gray with invention of fruit cocktail in 1930. Gray himself restated this in an interview with the San Jose Mercury News in 1969.
  • 1938: Calpak’s “new” Fruit Cocktail debuted under the Del Monte label in 1938.
  • TBD: Food science academics give credit for fruit cocktail to Dr. William V. Cruess, a pioneer in the field and professor at U.C. Berkeley from 1911 until 1954. Dr. Cruess’ research focused on the use of fruit culls (culling out the bruised and damaged) and by-products.
  •  

    Del Monte Fruit Cocktail
    [1] Del Monte Fruit Cocktail, in the modern “no sugar added” recipe. You can still buy it in its original sugar syrup (photo courtesy Del Monte).

    Fruit Cocktail Cupcakes
    [2] Fruit cocktail as a cupcake topper. Here’s the recipe from Yummy.

    Ambrosia Fruit Salad
    [3] Ambrosia, a retro fruit salad popular at ladies’ lunches. It adds mini marshmallows, sliced bananas, shredded coconut and sour cream (the modern take is vanilla yogurt or, eek, Cool Whip) to fruit cocktail. Here’s the recipe from Taste Of Home.

    Fruit Cocktail Fluff
    [4] The advent of Marshmallow Fluff engendered this version of ambrosia. Here’s the recipe from The Kitchen Is My Playground.

     
    It may be that Herbert Gray or Del Monte read his recommendations in a trade article.

    Whomever the father of fruit cocktail may be, consumers were introduced to the product as a stylish dessert suitable for formal dinner parties and entertaining (source).

    In the 1930s, canned foods were appreciated for their convenience and did not have the “not as good as fresh” association that evolved in the 1970s, thanks to the proselytizing of Alice Waters and the evolution of “California cuisine.”

    Take your pick!
     
     
    USES FOR CANNED FRUIT COCKTAIL

    We’re big on fresh fruits and vegetables, but we keep some cans of each in the pantry to use “in a pinch.”

    We admit to keeping canned pineapple chunks in case we run out of fresh melon for our morning cottage cheese or plain yogurt. And there’s always a can of no-sugar-added fruit cocktail for when we’re having a fruit attack, but have no fresh fruit.

    We took a quick survey and found that others we know use canned fruit cocktail:

  • In yogurt.
  • As a sauce for ham.
  • As a topping for frozen yogurt or sorbet.
  • Chopped and added to plain salsa for a quick fruit salsa.
  • As a stuffing for avocado halves.
  • Tossed into dump cake or muffin mix (here’s a recipe for fruit cocktail coffee cake).
  • Added to Stovetop Stuffing.
  • Used to make sweet and sour chicken or pork.
  •  
    And of course…

  • Added to Jell-O.
  •  
    Golden Morn Fruit Cocktail label
    [5] Golden Morn Fruit Cocktail label, ca. 1920 (photo courtesy San Jose Museum).
     

      

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