THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TIP OF THE DAY: How Chefs Are Using Pickles

Pickled Beet Crostini
[1] Pickled beets and blueberries on goat cheese crostini (photo courtesy Rick’s Picks).

Pickled Radishes
[3] Pickle radishes and layer sour with spicy (here’s the recipe from Simple Delicious Food).

Homemade Pickles
[2] Pickle any fruit or vegetable you like (photo courtesy Typhoon).

DIY Pickling Book
Basic pickling is easy (here’s how). But if you want ideas on how to layer herbs and spices, get a book like this.


Pickles and sauerkraut have been consumed in America for centuries, along other sour foods such as buttermilk, sour cream, sourdough bread, vinegar, and tart fruits like grapefruits, kumquats, lemons and limes.

But sour has grown even more in favor over the past few decades with kefir, kimchi, kombucha, plain yogurt, tamarind and tart cherry juice becoming everyday foods.

This week, Flavor And The Menu, a magazine and website for creative chefs, highlights how chefs nationwide are using the humble pickle.

And by pickle, we mean pickled anything. In the U.S. “pickles” evokes pickled cucumbers; but elsewhere in the world, any pickled vegetable is a “pickle.”

And, happy news: You can pickle anything in an hour. These are called quick pickles, but you can leave them in the brine as long as you like (days, weeks…).

Our favorite things for quick pickling: apples, asparagus, beets, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, onions and pears. And for burgers and sandwiches, garlic cloves.


With the continued popularity of fried chicken, chefs have paired pickles as a flavor strategy. The subtle sour contrast complements anything fried or fatty (that’s why cornichons are paired with pâté).

Beyond pickled vegetables with chicken, Fellow restaurant in Los Angeles serves buttermilk and pickle juice-brined chicken sandwiches paired with aged cheddar, oven-roasted tomato, dill pickles and iceberg lettuce on sourdough bread.


Our taste buds love the counterbalance of sweet and sour. Creative kitchens are now brining any and all fruits, from berries to apples and pears to mangos and melons.

Taiwanese-American restaurant Win Son in Brooklyn tops its butter-grilled shrimp cake with pickled pineapple, layered on a mian tuan bun.


Adding a tangy element to a creamy dip or spread adds an extra hit of flavor on burgers, fish sandwiches or anything fried.

At Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica, California, pickled aïoli is slathered on the brioche burger bun, adding special flavor to the cheeseburger layered with aged cheddar, caramelized onions and house-made pickles.


Consumer demands for more plant-based dishes has led to innovation on the menu. Pickling offers a major flavor boost to vegetarian menu items.

At Bar Annicka in Brooklyn, the entrée of charred cauliflower is accompanied by a pickled beet pâté, blackened cabbage and garlic confit.


Adding a pickled ingredient where one might not expect it is one of the charms of accenting with pickles.

Freebird Kitchen & Bar in White Plains, New York serves a side dish of roasted Brussels sprouts with pickled shallots, for a surprising spike of flavor.


Crudité platters have been advanced with everything from baby vegetables to unusual varieties: They are now joined by pickled vegetables.

In fact, Canon restaurant in Sacramento serves an entire pickled crudité plate: a variety of house-pickled seasonal veggies served over crushed ice.


The sourness of pickles complements the fattiness of cheese. Take the tip from the previous tip and serve pickled vegetables with your cheese plate.


Pickle juice adds a modern tang to cocktails. The White Heat, served at Jordan Hotel’s Sliders in Sunday River, Maine, combines cucumber-infused vodka, pickle juice, peppadews and olives.


We’ve long advocated pickle slices in ice cubes for Bloody Marys, and saving pickle brine to freeze into ice cubes.

Pickles are becoming more of a player on restaurant drink menus. The flavors of pickle brine provides a slow melt of sour, as at Milk Money Bar & Kitchen in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

You don’t need to make the ice cubes of 100% pickle juice. In fact, try that to see if it’s too strong for you.

Instead, make the cubes one-third or one-half pickle juice.

And if you find yourself wanting to do more and more pickling, get a book!

We don’t have the time or space to “put up” pickles in jars, but we do make quick pickles every week.



RECIPE: Apple Rose Mini Pies

If you’re considering what to bake for Mother’s Day, how about these pretty mini pies for Mother’s Day, or for National Apple Pie Day (May 14th)?

We received the recipe from My Baking Addiction, a site with such tempting recipes that you’ll want to make them all.

Currently featured on the home page are Banana Oatmeal Cookies, Marshmallow Treat Cupcakes, Rosé Cheesecake and Rumchata Cheesecake Pudding Shots.


  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice*
  • 1 standard pie crust (make or buy)
  • 6 Honeycrisp apples, thinly sliced (substitute Granny Smith)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3-inch round cookie cutter
  • Muffin tin
    *Make your own apple pie spice with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves and an optional dash of cardamom. These ingredients are very similar to pumpkin pie spice, which often contains some ginger. You can use them interchangeably.

    1. PREPARE the pie dough as instructed (here’s a pie crust recipe if you need one). Once ready, roll out on a lightly floured surface. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, punch out rounds of dough. Gently press the rounds into muffin tin wells.

    2. GENTLY TOSS the sliced apples in the lemon juice.

    3. PLACE the brown sugar, spice and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir and cook until the butter is melted, the sugar dissolved and the apples cooked through, about 4-5 minutes. Pour the mixture over the apples slices.


    Mini Rose Apple Pie

    Pie Spice Mix

    Homemade apple pie is always a treat, but this recipe raises the bar (photos courtesy My Baking Addiction).

    4. GENTLY coat the apples (we used our hands); then let sit for 10 minutes. Strain the apples slices and discard the liquid. Heat the oven to 350°F.

    5. FORM the roses: Arrange 6-8 apple slices in a straight row, with each slice overlapping the next to create a 12-inch line. Starting with one end, gently roll the apples (see a video on how to roll roses) (here’s another one). Transfer each rolled apple onto an individual pie crust.

    6. REPEAT until all the pie crusts are filled. Place the tin in the oven and bake until the crust is golden and apples have cooked, about 30 minutes.



    PRODUCT: Sourdough Hot Dog Buns Kit

    Sourdough Hot Dog Buns

    New England Style Hot Dog Buns

    Sourdough Hot Dog Buns

    New England Hot Dog Buns Rolls
    New England-style sourdough hot dog buns from King Arthur Flour.


    For the fast-approaching grilling season (in the Northeast, it begins unofficially with Memorial Day Weekend), here’s a way to impress your guests and enjoy your hot dogs even more:

    Sourdough hot dog buns.

    You can bake them easily with King Arthur Flour’s kit, which includes:

  • Sourdough starter
  • Baker’s Special Dry Milk*
  • SAF brand yeast
  • Potato flour
  • New England hot dog bun pan (makes ten 5½” buns)
  • Recipe and tips
    Get the kit for yourself or as a gift.

    You also need a hot dog bun pan, available from King Arthur Flour and elsewhere. (Note that these are New England-style hot dog rolls with straight edges, as opposed to classic rounded edges. The technique for the latter is at the end of the article.)

    The result is hot dog buns that are just as soft and moist as the packaged ones, with so much more flavor.

    If you already have a pan and just want the recipe, here it is.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, total rising time is 1.75 to 2.5 hours, bake time is 20 minutes to 23 minutes.

    But first: the difference between buns and rolls.

    *This special dry milk has extra-fine granules that provide For more flavor, tenderness, nutrition and freshness.

    Ingredients For 10 Buna

  • 1/2 cup ripe (fed) sourdough starter
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup potato flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast

    1. WEIGH out the flour; you’ll find its weight by toggling to “ounces” at the top of the ingredient section above. Or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

    2. COMBINE all the ingredients, and mix and knead by hand, mixer, or bread machine set to the dough cycle, adding more flour or water if necessary to make a soft, smooth dough.

    3. PLACE the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise at warm room temperature until it’s nearly doubled in bulk, 60 to 90 minutes. While the dough is rising, lightly grease a hot dog bun pan.


    4. TRANSFER the dough to a lightly greased work surface, gently deflate it, and stretch it until it’s about 15″ long and 6″ wide. Place the dough into the pan, stretching it to the edges.

    5. LET the dough rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until it comes to within 1/2″ of the top of the pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

    6. GREASE a baking sheet, and place it on top of the risen buns. Put the covered buns into the oven, weighing the baking sheet down with something heavy and oven-safe (a cast iron skillet works well).

    7. BAKE the buns for 18 minutes, remove the weighted baking sheet, and bake for 2 to 5 minutes longer, if necessary to brown the buns. Remove the pan from the oven and cool the buns in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn them out onto a rack, rounded side up, to cool completely.

    8. SLICE each bun down the middle vertically, without cutting through the bottom; then cut between the buns to separate them.
    You can store the buns wrapped in plastic for several days; freeze for longer storage.

  • Need sourdough starter? You can purchase and feed King Arthur Flour’s sourdough starter; or create your own starter.
  • To make regular (not New England-style) hot dog buns without a special pan:
    1. DIVIDE the dough into 10 equal pieces (if you have a scale, each piece will weigh about 2 3/4 ounces), and form each piece into a cylinder 6″ in length.

    2. TRANSFER the buns to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the buns slightly (dough rises more in the center, so this will give them gently rounded tops), then allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy.

    3. BAKE in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one bun reads at least 190°F. Note that buns baked without a hot dog bun pan will have a more uneven texture, with smaller and larger gas bubbles on the inside. The buns may have a speckled appearance due to those gas bubbles under the surface.


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    RECIPE: Guava Cocktail

    Enjoy this sunny cocktail from one of our favorite restaurants, Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian churrascaria with locations worldwide (and many in the U.S.—send someone a gift card!).

    It’s called Guava do Sul, guava sunshine. You can stop in for a cocktail or have it as the beginning of an entire wonderful dinner.

    We liked it so much, we had two!

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce honey
  • 1/4 ounce gum syrup (see below)
  • 1 ounce guava fruit purée (substitute canned guava juice)
  • Ice
  • 1 ounce prosecco (substitute other sparkling wine)
  • Sugar for rim

    Guava Cocktail

    Guava purée, vodka and honey topped off with prosecco. What could be sunnier? (Photo courtesy Fogo de Chão.)

  • Garnish: pineapple leaf (substitute sprig of mint or rosemary, a pick of lychees or tropical fruit cubes, or a lime wheel)
  • Barware: jigger, cocktail shaker, strainer, coupe glass

    1. RIM the coupe glass with sugar. (Moisten the rim of the glass 1/4″ in water, and twist in a plate of sugar.)

    2. COMBINE the vodka, lemon juice, honey, gum syrup, guava fruit purée, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain the drink into the glass. Top with prosecco.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

    You might think from the ingredients that the drink is very sweet, but it’s simply…sweet.

    Gum syrup, spelled gomme in the U.K., is a sweeter simple syrup. Instead of the 1:1 proportion of sugar to water, it is 2:1, and is combined with gum arabic, an all-natural resin (gum) harvested from the acacia tree.

    The gum, which is comprised primarily of fiber and protein, adds weight and silky mouthfeel. It acts as an emulsifier in the syrup and subsequently in the cocktail.

    Bartenders like it because it means that all of the drink components are uniformly blended.

    Gum syrup is also used in sweet non-alcoholic drinks such as sweet iced tea and the Arnold Palmer; and is also used in baking.

    Commercially, it is made by Lieber & Co and other brands.
    © 2018 Fogo de Chão, Inc. All rights reserved.



    PRODUCTS: This Week’s Favorites, Most Gluten Free

    Bob's Red Mill Muesli Cup
    [1] One of three flavors of new Muesli Cups—two are gluten free—from Bob’s Red Mill (photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill).

    Califlour Cauliflower Pizza Crusts
    [2] Cali’flour cauliflower pizza crusts, including new Jalapeno (photo courtesy Cali’Flour Foods).

    Snikkidy Baked Cheese Puffs
    [3] Snikiddy’s baked cheese puffs, organic and gluten-free (photo courtesy Snikiddy).

    Trader Joe's Birthday Cake Bar
    [4] Trader Joe’s Birthday Bar: white chocolate, cookie crumbs and sprinkles (photo courtesy Trader Joe’s).


    Today’s list of favorite new products, in alphabetical order:

    If you like granola or oatmeal, you’re a potential fan of muesli (MEW-slee).

    Created by a Swiss physician in the late 19th century, muesli is a blend of whole grains, toasted seeds and dried fruits. It’s a comfort food that’s good for you (more about museli).

    Bob’s Red Mill has created a gluten-free muesli that is just as delicious and nourishing. You can eat it hot like oatmeal, like any cold cereal topped with milk or yogurt, or the traditional Swiss way: topped with apple and soaked in milk overnight.

    Take the 2.12-ounce cups with you or enjoy them at home. The three flavors are also available in 14-ounce bags.

  • Gluten Free Muesli Cup (gluten free)
  • Tropical Muesli Cup (gluten free)
  • Paleo Muesli Cup
    The muesli is currently exclusive at Whole Foods Markets, or online at

    If you miss conventional pizza because of a diet plan, check out Cali’Flour, gluten-free pizza crusts made from…fresh cauliflower! (The business is based in California; hence, Cali’Flour.)

    Add cheese and your favorite toppings, pop the pizza into the oven, and you’ll soon snack or dine on a crisp, totally satisfying low-carb, low-glycemic pizza. You can also use the crusts more creatively, for example, to make gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches and panini.

    The all-natural, grain-free crusts have 60 calories and 1 net carb per serving, and are hand-crafted from simple, fresh ingredients: vegetables, mozzarella, eggs, basil. There is no added sugar.

    The brand has added a new flavor to its line-up, which now includes:

  • Jalapeno Pizza Crusts (new)
  • The Original Italian Cauliflower Pizza Crusts
  • Sweet Red Pepper Cauliflower Pizza Crusts
  • Plant-Based Italian Pizza Crusts (vegan: dairy-free, egg-free, 100% plant-based)
    More news: The line, which was originally frozen, is now shelf stable (no refrigeration required) for up to two weeks.

    There are also gift cards. Order yours at (also on Amazon).

    If you like cheese puffs, we’d like to introduce you to the more elegant puffs from Snikiddy.

    Organic Baked Cheese Puffs are USDA-certified organic, Certified Gluten Free, and available in two flavors:

  • Organic Grilled Cheese Baked Puffs
  • Organic Mac N’ Cheese Baked Puffs
    “Grilled Cheese” and “Mac N’ Cheese” are marketing fluff, rather than an indication of the cheese flavor. Neither tastes like grilled cheese or mac and cheese, but both taste really good. The Mac N’ Cheese is airier and our preference; Grilled Cheese has a more assertive cheese flavor.

    Discover more at

    Warning: Trader Joe’s Birthday Cake Bar is addictive. We no sooner had our first bite than we were ready to head to the store to buy out the remaining stock.

    The finest white chocolate (trust us—we’ve tried every white chocolate we’ve ever seen) is topped with vanilla cookie crumbs and multi-colored pastel sprinkles, the latter naturally colored with beet juice, beta carotene and turmeric, rather than chemically-produced colors.

    The two-inch chocolate bars are just $1.49—the lowest price imaginable for chocolate this good.

    Don’t head to Trader Joe’s just yet: We’ve got to get there first!



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