THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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RECIPE: Clear Pumpkin Pie

Alinea Clear Pumpkin Pie
[1] Alinea’s clear pumpkin pie (photo Alinea | Chicago).

Semi-Clear Pumpkin Pie
[2] Hannah Kaminsky’s version, recipe below (photo Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).


Perhaps the most innovative restaurant in the country, Chicago’s Alinea set the internet on fire once again with another avant-garde culinary masterpiece, propelling pumpkin pie it into a viral video hit.

It’s a perfectly clear pumpkin pie, glossy and ethereal, served in a tiny wedge. It looks like clear gelatin, but has the consistency of pumpkin pie—as well as all the flavor.

“Curiosity got the best of me,” says our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog. “My copycat rendition would never be able to stand up to original for lack of fancy equipment. I don’t happen to have a centrifuge and rotary-evaporator lying around to extract clear, condensed liquid from pumpkin purée, but that doesn’t mean I can’t play with the concept.

“My take is admittedly more translucent than transparent, but nonetheless a whimsical departure from the expected slice of pumpkin pie.”

Plus, while Alinea customers got only a bit of pie, Hannah’s recipe gives you a conventional slice.


Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 eight-inch graham cracker crust, baked
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons pumpkin spice extract
  • 1 tablespoon agar powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

    1. COMBINE the water, sugar, pumpkin spice extract, agar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk periodically until the sugar has fully dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 2 more minutes.

    2. GENTLY POUR the mixture into the baked crust so as not to kick up lots of loose crumbs. Let the pie cool to room temperature before moving it into the fridge to chill. Once fully set (about 1 to 2 hours), slice and serve.



    TIP OF THE DAY: 35+ Food & Beverage Pairings

    We love pairing flavors to their best advantage. Here are our previous pairing recommendations, with a new one below for potato chip lovers:

  • Beer & Summer Food Pairings
  • Breads & Spreads Pairings
  • Cake & Wine Pairings
  • Cheese & Beer
  • Cheese & Bread Pairings
  • Cheese & Cheese Condiments Pairings
  • Cheese & Chocolate Pairings
  • Cheese & Wine Pairings
  • Chocolate & Scotch Pairings
  • Chocolate & Tea Pairings
  • Chocolate, Wine & Spirits
  • Coffee & Cheese Pairings
  • Gouda Pairings With Food & Beverages
  • Ice Cream & Beer Pairings
  • Ice Cream, Wine & Spirits Pairings
  • Indian Food & Wine Pairings
  • Malbec & Food Pairings
  • Moscato & Food Pairings
  • Oloroso Sherry Pairings
  • Oysters & Wine Pairings
  • Pasta & Sauce Pairings
  • Peanut, Beer & Wine Pairings
  • Pizza & Beer Pairings
  • Popcorn & Wine Pairings
  • Sake & Food Pairings
  • Sausage & Beer Pairings
  • Sauvignon Blanc & Food Pairings
  • Single Malt Scotch With Food Pairings
  • Sorbet & Wine Pairings For Cocktails
  • Tequila, Cheese & Chocolate Pairings
  • Thanksgiving Food & Wine Pairings
  • Turkey & Water Pairings
  • Teas & Foods Pairings
  • Varietal Honeys Pairing With Foods & Beverages
  • Varietal Honeys Pairing #2
  • Water & Chocolate Pairings
  • Wine & Desserts Pairings

    When you reach for a bag of chips to go with your sandwich, did you ever wonder which flavor of potato chips pairs best with your BLT or your ham sandwich?

    Probably not. But get ready for a consciousness-raising:

    The Herr’s flavor development team created these potato chip pairing guidelines for a variety of popular sandwiches.

    “You’ve got a sandwich, and you’re staring at a rack of chip flavors, but which one do you choose?” said Pete Graziano, Herr’s Research & Development Manager and Corporate Chef. “It’s not always an easy decision.”

    Some pairings, like a ham sandwich and salt and vinegar chips, are all about contrast, while others, like tuna fish and Old Bay chips, are more complementary.

    Despite the pressure of picking the right crunchy snack, there are no wrong choices.

    “In the end, just like wine-and-food pairings, it’s really all about your personal preference,” said Graziano. “But the right combination, with similar tastes and perfectly balanced flavor profiles, can make the difference between a good lunch and a great one.”

    Herr’s makes some 30 varieties of potato chips and kettle-cooked potato chips. Check out the flavors. Party idea: Order a selection of Herr’s chips online for a tasting event.


    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ
    WHY: The smoky combo of the mesquite barbeque sauce in the chips and bacon go together like, well, two delicious smoky things.


    Beer & Cheese Pairings
    [1] Which cheeses pair best with beer (photo courtesy Cabot Creamery)?

    Chocolate & Scotch Pairings
    [2] How do you pair Scotch with chocolate (photo gy Laszlo Raksorkerti | IST)?

    Oysters & Wine Pairings
    [3] Are there different wine pairings for oysters? Yes indeed (photo courtesy Champagne Bureau).

    Beer & Pizza

    [4] How do you pair beer styles with pizza toppings (photo courtesy Bowery Street).


    Cheesesteak & Chips
    [5] Cheesesteak with jalapeño chips (photo courtesy Herr’s).

    Turkey Sandwich & Chips
    [6] Turkey sandwich with sour cream and onion chips (photo courtesy Herr’s).


    SANDWICH: Bologna & Cheese
    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Original
    WHY: Simple, tried-and-true and reliable, Kettle Cooked Original is a classic, no-nonsense chip for a classic, no-nonsense sandwich.

    SANDWICH: Cheesesteak
    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Jalapeño
    WHY: The hearty combo of meat and cheese blends seamlessly with bites of the spicy jalapeño-flavored snack.

    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Boardwalk Salt & Vinegar
    WHY: Contrast is the name of the game in this battle between a powerful, salty-snack flavor and a lighter, classic sandwich staple.

    Italian Sandwich (Hero, Sub, Etc.)
    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt
    WHY: In Italy, salt and pepper are often the only addition to meats and cheeses. This chip-and-sandwich combo pays homage to that tradition.

    SANDWICH: Meatball
    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Ripple Chips
    WHY: The extreme crunch of the Ripple Chip is the perfect textural contrast to the meat, cheese and sauce of a meatball sub.

    SANDWICH: Roast Beef
    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Cheddar Horseradish
    WHY: Roast beef plus cheddar, or roast beef plus horseradish? Both are perfect pairings, but why choose, when there’s a combo flavor of both?

    SANDWICH: Tuna
    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Old Bay
    WHY: The aromatic and flavorful punch of Old Bay is the ideal partner for a sandwich packed with flavors of the sea.

    SANDWICH: Turkey
    CHIP PAIRING: Kettle Cooked Sour Cream & Onion
    WHY: One of the most popular sandwiches pairs perfectly with one of the most popular chip flavors.
    The History Of Potato Chips.




    THANKSGIVING: 10 Gift Ideas For Hosts & Hostesses

    You may traditionally bring your Thanksgiving hostess/host a bottle of wine; and that’s a traditionally acceptable hostess gift.

    But unless you’re bringing something memorable (if it’s a Mouton Rothschild, please come to our house for Thanksgiving!), your bottle will be grouped with all the other bottles of wine. After the cards are removed and the bottles tucked away, the recipient will forget that it’s from you.

    A homemade gift—cookies or sugarplums, for example—is always welcome. But if it’s easier for you to buy something, here are some suggestions

    With the assumption that most people who host a dinner like to cook—or at least, like to entertain—here are some holiday-themed edibles and drinkables:

    Nordicware’s Harvest Bounty loaf pan with a bag of King Arthur Flour pumpkin spice muffin mix (photo #1), lets your hosts easily bake themselves a treat after the hubbub is over

    The pan has built-in decoration, so there’s no frosting required if you choose the cake option. The cake can be enjoyed plain for breakfast and brunch, and with some whipped cream or ice cream for dessert.

    Order from King Arthur Flour.

    Our wine writers group prefers French wines at our monthly dinners; but at Thanksgiving we have a rule: only American wines—and we give thanks for them.

    The same is true with spirits (photo #2). Over the past 20 years, the American craft distillery movement has grown to offer scores, if not hundreds, of spirits made by small American distilleries.

    And, unlike a bottle of wine, it won’t be finished in an hour. Your local store should have a selection on hand, and your sales associate can make recommendations.

    For those who aren’t stuffed to the gills, a shot of spirits is a long-favorite digestif.

    A box of fine chocolates—even half a pound—is always a treat for chocolate lovers (photo #3). If you don’t have an artisan confectioner in town, here are a few of our favorites, which have Thanksgiving-themed packaging:

  • Burdick Chocolate
  • John & Kira’s (currently a 20% discount on Thanksgiving items)
  • Lake Champlain Chocolates (certified kosher)
  • Recchiuti Chocolate

    Made by a venerable French confectioner, Boissier, these confections were a favorite in Victorian England. That they’re still being made shows they remain a popular holiday gift.

    In the U.S., they’re available from Le Panier Français, a site for French products.

    Between Thanksgiving and the end of winter, there’s plenty of time to make mulled wine or cider: a beverage which fills the house with spice aromas and offers a warm drink to those coming in from the cold.

    Look for mulling spices in gift tins (photo #4), like these Mills Mulling Spices.

    This balsamic vinegar from Modena has added pumpkin spice (all natural). It’s a delight for salad dressing, bruschetta, reductions and glazes.

    You can find it online at Amazon.

  • After-dinner mints. These fit in with the occasion, and are a delightful bite after any dinner. While we’re perfectly happy with After Eight, your local confectioner may have something even more special.
  • Cream liqueur. Always a yummy nip: Look for Baileys Irish Cream Pumpkin Spice Liqueur.
  • Holiday blend coffee or tea. If you know your hosts like one or the other, a gift of specialty flavors should be welcome. Holiday coffee is available in whole bean, ground and K-cup options.
  • Seasonal craft beer. For beer lovers, look for seasonal brews: Pumpkin beers and ales are perfect. For a more impressive gift, look for 750ml formats (the size of a wine bottle), like those from Rogue Ale (photo #5).

    Harvest Loaf Cake
    [1] This holiday-themed pan from Nordicware turns out beautiful cakes: No frosting needed! It comes with a box of premium cake/muffin mix from King Arthur Flour (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Yellow Rose Premium American Whiskey
    [2] Yellow Rose premium American whiskey, crafted in Texas (photo courtesy Yellow Rose). The company also makes bourbon and rye.

    Mulling Spices
    [3] Nothing says “the holidays” like mulling spices, filling the house with spice aroma while it offers a hot drink (photo courtesy Mills Gourmet).

    Thanksgiving Chocolates Recchiuti
    [4] Most people will be delighted with an artisan chocolate gift (photo courtesy Recchiuti Chocolates).

    Rogue Pumpkin Patch Ale
    [5] For beer lovers, the gift of an artisan pumpkin ale will be most appreciated (photo courtesy Rogue Ales & Spirits).




    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Give-Back Gifts

    Greyston Chocolate Brownies
    [1] Greyston’s very fine brownies are nut-free. there’s also a vegan chocolate brownie version (all photos courtesy Greyston).

    Greyston Snickerdoodle Brownies
    [2] All of the brownies are individually wrapped for freshness, and grab-and-go.

    Brownie Sundae

    [3] Greyston’s are the brownies in Ben & Jerry’s Double Fudge Brownie ice cream.


    As you contemplate gift-giving this holiday season, how about gifts that give back?

    For people who have everything, we have long advocated gifts with a social impact.

    These are gifts that support organizations like Feeding America, which provides meals to hungry people in our own country; and Heifer International, which provides livestock to third-world families so that they have food as well as eggs, milk, wool, etc. to sell and generate income.

    Heifer International has a catalog (and website) that showcases the different animals that can be donated, and how they help the families who receive them. Our friends and family enjoy choosing a different animal every year; or fund education for a girl to go to school, or a woman to start up her own small business.

    Some people prefer a donation to help others. Some people want a gift for themselves.

    An easy compromise: products that give a portion of their revenue to help others, and products made by companies that give both job training and permanent jobs to chronically jobless Americans: released felons, former addicts, teen mother dropouts, and others who need a leg up.

    Last week we presented the Women’s Bean Project, which trained women to be exemplary workers for other employers.

    Today, we have two more companies worth your time.

    There are numerous endeavors across the U.S. that have the same mission: to turn Americans who are not wanted by employers into those who are. If you want to support a local cause, or a help particular type of people, simply look online or ask in your community. There are always local food banks and job training programs.

    “We don’t hire people to bake” says Greyston Bakery. “We bake brownies to hire people.”

    For 25 years, Greyston has been a pioneering social enterprise based on Open Hiring: providing jobs to individuals who face barriers to employment.

    The bakery is staffed entirely by people offered a job opportunity through Open Hiring. Trained at the facility, they operate a world-class food processing facility.

    Greyston’s was chosen over all “contestants” to supply 35,000 pounds of brownies daily for Ben & Jerry’s Double Fudge Brownie flavor! Their award-winning brownies and cookies can be purchased online and at Whole Foods Markets.

    We add our own endorsement, to the:

  • Chocolate Fudge Brownies
  • Brown Sugar Blondies
  • Snickerdoodle Brownies
  • Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownies

    As a blondie lover, the blondies are currently our “favorite blondie.” Thank goodness it’s a long walk to our nearest Whole Foods.

    Learn more at; order your gift packages online at Shop.Greyston.Org.

    The brownies are packed in a reusable covered wicker basket. Corporate and event gifts can be customized.



    Light a candle, transform a life says Bright Endeavors. The Chicago not-for-profit’s mission is to train teen moms in job skills.

    So many young, single moms lack access to quality education or job opportunities. Battling homelessness and poverty, their barriers to opportunity can be limited.

    Bright Endeavors transforms their lives through a paid job training program, teaching them to craft premium soy candles. Lovely, fragrant candles are what they make, but the job skills they learn are universal.

    Through guidance and job skills, the young moms learn what they need to secure and maintain quality employment, to begin working toward professional success.

    The candles are made in four sizes, from $7.99 to $24.99. The two smaller sizes make great stocking stuffers.

    There are 12 fragrances, including four holiday-specific ones:

    four seasonal scents plus eight popular year-round options. For the holidays:

  • Almond Berry Galette
  • Holiday Citrus
  • Pumpkin Chai
  • Whitebark Pine
    Sizes include:

  • 3-ounce Mini Signature, burn time 12 hours
  • 4-ounce Spa Tin, burn time 15 hours
  • 8-ounce Retreat Tin, burn time 30 hours
  • 11-ounce Signature Glass, burn time 40 hours
    Order yours at


    Bright Endeavors Holiday Candle
    [4] Signature Glass is the largest size, with 40 hours of burn time. Shown in the photo: Whitebark Pine. All 12 fragrances are available in all four sizes (both photos courtesy Bright Endeavors).

    Bright Endeavors Pumpkin Chai Candle

    [5] The smallest candle size, Mini Signature, burns for 12 hours. Shown here: Pumpkin Chai.

    One hundred percent of the proceeds support the young moms who create the candles.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Boozy Cupcakes, For National Vanilla Cupcake Day & Parties

    Boozy Cupcake
    [1] Insert booze into cupcakes (all photos courtesy Crown Royal).

    Crown Royal Vanilla

    [2] Crown Royal Vanilla: blended Canadian whiskeys infused with the Madagascar Bourbon vanilla.


    November 10th is National Vanilla Cupcake Day, and we have a purely adult celebration in mind:

    Buy a cupcake and a miniature “airline” bottle of your favorite spirit (it’s 1.7 ounces).

    Place the cupcake in a dish to catch any drippings. Remove the cap of the miniature and, holding your finger to prevent a deluge, turn the bottle upside down, pushing it into the cupcake.

    You may want to eat your treat with a spoon or fork.

    This idea comes from Crown Royal Vanilla. Bursting with vanilla flavor, it’s a perfect pairing for most cupcakes.


    Can’t get to the liquor store to buy minis? Store has no mini flavors you want?

    Here’s a work-around:

  • Measure out 1-1.5 ounces of spirit in measuring cup with a spout.
  • Place the cupcake in a dish.
  • Insert a small funnel into the top of the cupcake and pour in the spirit.

    Use your palate—and the spirits you have—to create different pairings. Some suggestions:

  • Any favor cupcake + cream liqueur
  • Banana cupcake + banana or vanilla liqueur
  • Chocolate or red velvet cupcake + chocolate liqueur
  • Chocolate cupcake + amaretto or mint liqueur
  • Lemon cupcake + Grand Marnier or Limoncello liqueur
  • Pumpkin or seasonal spice flavor + spiced rum or ginger liqueur
  • Vanilla cupcake + cassis, Kahlúa, raspberry or vanilla liqueur
  • Vanilla cupcake + raspberry liqueur and fresh raspberries on the icing
    TIP #2:

    If straight alcohol is too strong for you, dilute it with some water.

    Or, if you like things sweet, make a sugar syrup by heating equal parts sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Then mix in the spirit to your desired flavor intensity.


    Have a boozy cupcake party.

    Put all the ingredients on a table:

  • Dishes
  • Cupcakes
  • Utensils
  • Miniatures
    Encourage everyone to create a DIY celebratory cupcake.

    You can also provide extra bowls of frosting for the frosting fans.


    If you like the idea of boozy cupcakes, here are 21 recipes to make “cocktail cupcakes”—from Cosmopolitan to Margarita.


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