THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TIP OF THE DAY: K-Cup Coffee Club


[1] Try Illy’s K-cup line of Medium and Dark Roast blends, and the new single origin Colombia and Brasile (photo courtesy Illy).

Nespresso Compatible Capsules
[2] Six varieties of Nespresso-compatible capsules from Rosso Caffe (photo courtesy Rosso Caffe).

Java House Cold Brew K Cups
[3] There’s liquid cold brew inside these K-cups. Use them in the machine, or pour over cold water and ice for iced coffee (photo courtesy Java House).

 

Boxes of K-cups for single-serve coffee makers are not inexpensive. You may be buying the same variety over and over again, because you don’t want to risk $10 or $12 on a box of K-cups you may not like as much (or up $38 on a box of Nespresso capsules).

Here’s an idea for picky palates: Create a K-cup club with a group of friends or co-workers. At regular intervals (monthly? quarterly?), a different selection of K-cups are purchased, the pods divided, and the cost split among participants.

With 10 K-cups in a box, each box can be split in half, among five people, or any other way you want to apportion.

If you want to try Illy’s new single origin coffees, for example, but aren’t sure if you’d prefer Columbia or Brasile, the group can try both—or perhaps, all four options, adding in the medium roast and dark roast blends.

You can have a “theme month,” for example, trying different brands of pumpkin or spice coffees, or all the Christmas blends.

It’s also an opportunity to try your regular pod variety across brands; for example, the dark roasts of Green Mountain, Illy, Starbucks, etc.

You decide how often it makes sense to meet or otherwise exchange. If you meet only quarterly for most of the year, it may make more sense to meet more often during the fall season, when so many specialty flavors are stocked.

How you structure your exchange is as simple as “whatever works for you.” Get the group members together and decide.

The goal remains: Try more varieties of coffee with minimized financial outlay. And the related benefit: Discover new favorites you wouldn’t have purchased on your own.
 
AN INNOVATION IN K-CUPS: COLD BREW FROM JAVA HOUSE

We’d also like to suggest an innovative K-Cup, Java House Cold Brew.

The brand recently launched new Dual-Use Liquid Cold Brew Coffee Pods [photo #3]. The pods hold cold brew concentrate instead of the conventional coffee grounds.

Cold brew, as its fans well know, creates a less bitter, less acidic, smoother cup of coffee. Now, cold brew buyers will be able to make their coffee in single-serve machines.

The all-natural concentrate is available in Columbian medium roast, Ethiopian light roast, Sumatran dark roast, and decaf medium roast..

Get yours at JavaHouse.com.
 
 
FOR MORE ABOUT COFFEE, CHECK OUT OUR COFFEE GLOSSARY
 
THE HISTORY OF COFFEE

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Peach Ice Cream

Today is the last day of August, the last day of National Peach Month, and the last day—or rather, weekend—we’ll have to make peach ice cream.

We’ve been meaning to it make all summer.

Growing up, peach was our favorite ice cream flavor. Available seasonally at Howard Johnson’s, we indulged as often as we could get someone to drive us there.

(When summer ended, we switched to Howard Johnson’s pistachio ice cream.)

Peach is one of those flavors that have fallen off the flavor board, along with butter brickle, maple walnut, mocha and tutti frutti.

They’ve been replaced by au courant flavors: cheesecake, chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream, ginger, green tea, and a host of fringe flavors from bacon to charcoal.

O.K.: Time marches on, and with it, consumer tastes. But we still miss peach ice cream, more than any other food from our past.

Artisan ice cream companies that make peach as a summer specialty are located nowhere near us.

And we just haven’t been able to grapple with the $79.95 to get six pints shipped overnight from Graeter’s.

(It’s not the money; it’s the challenge of being alone with six pints of peach ice cream.)

So, plan B: Make our own peach ice cream.
 
PEACH ICE CREAM RECIPES

Here are three recipes we’ve used in the past.

For variation, we’ve added peach schnapps to the classic recipe—a nice occasional touch. We add it straight, or marinate diced peaches in it before adding to the mix.

We’ve also made a variation with chopped fresh raspberries.

One advisory about including chunks of peach: It looks exciting, but the peaches freeze much harder than the ice cream. So you don’t have to sink your teeth into a rock-hard chunk of peach, dice them as small as you can.

  • Classic Peach Ice Cream
  • Peach Ice Cream With Honey
  • Peach Ice Cream With Sweetened Condensed Milk
  •  
    Plus:

  • Everything Peaches: History, Varieties, Nutrition
  •  

    Peach Ice Cream

    You can make peach ice cream year-round with frozen peaches, but it’s simply heavenly made with fresh summer peaches (photo courtesy Bourbon And Honey).

    California Peaches
    Organic California peaches, straight from the tree (photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Travels With Triscuit…And New Ways To Enjoy Them

    Wheat In Field
    [1] A field of winter wheat, right before harvesting to make Triscuits (photo courtesy Ben Hon).

    Wheatberries
    [2] Wheatberries after processing (photo courtesy Ben Hon).

    Triscuit Box
    [3] Wheatberries become Triscuits, currently in 20 flavors/varieties (photo courtesy Triscuit).

    Organic Triscuits
    [4] Two of the three new organic Triscuit flavors: Original, Thin Crisps With Sea salt and Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil (photo courtesy Triscuit).

     

    Triscuit is one of America’s favorite snack crackers—and they’re certainly a favorite of ours!

    That’s why in July, we were delighted to accompany several food lovers and writers out to the “thumb” of Michigan to meet the Triscuit team, a dedicated group of agronomy experts and product professionals who make the tasty little squares in the yellow box such an addictive treat.

    The first thing we were surprised to learn is that your basic Triscuit has but three (the “tri” in Triscuit) simple ingredients: wheat, canola oil, and a touch of salt. But what wheat! You can’t just toss any wheat into a Triscuit hopper and have it come out a star.

    Traveling to Pigeon, Michigan, we were invited to the Kretzchmer* family farm, one among hundreds of select wheat growers who comprise the Cooperative Elevator Company. These growers work hand-in-hand to seed, care for, implement, and harvest the most perfect crop possible. (The “Elevator” is what brings wheat up to be processed.)

    Join us on a trip to the farm, and a perspective on how a Triscuit ends up in the box on your table.
     
     
    IT STARTS WITH WHEAT

    Wheat has come a long way since its start in faraway lands, mainly Syria, Jordan, and Turkey, about 9,000 years ago.

    Triticum wheat, which is what we are most familiar with today, likely evolved from natural crossings with other ancient grains, such as spelt and durum. Today’s version is hearty enough to withstand harsh climates, and it is now the third most-grown crop in the world.

    The Kretzchmer family owns 900 beautiful acres of white winter wheat (photo #1), also known as “soft white wheat.” (Harder wheat varieties are more favorable for making pastas, noodles, and grinding into baking flour.)

    In Michigan, wheat is seeded in April and harvested in July. How do wheat growers know when it’s time to reap? By simply plucking a shaft of wheat from the ground, rolling it between their hands to get rid of the chaff, and biting into the kernel.

    Every drop of dewy moisture has to have evaporated, and the kernel must provide a nice crunch before the wheat is harvested by GPS-enabled combines. Each combine’s header is 40 feet wide, equipped with dozens of frighteningly long steel teeth.

    Once the harvest has been reaped, it is weighed and processed in a gas-heated tower that blows warm air up until the wheat is completely dried. It is then cooled.

    What’s left are the tiny firm, but chewy wheat berries (photo #2) —the very heart of every Triscuit.

  • To make a Triscuit, the wheat berries are first boiled.
  • Once they’re softened, they stretch out so that they are easily shredded, which is what gives Triscuit their snappy texture and crunch.
  • The shreds are then pressed, cut, and formed into squares, given a dash of salt, and baked until firm enough to hold an hors d’oeuvre.
  • A little non-GMO canola oil is added, then they’re put into boxes and shipped to your local supermarket. That’s it.
  •  
     
    HEALTHFUL SNACKING

    Each of the nearly 1,000 participating wheat growers in the Cooperative adheres to Triscuit’s strictly-followed promise to consumers: all wheat used is 100% whole grain, and all ingredients used are non-GMO verified.

    That includes all of those used in an irresistible variety of 20 flavor profiles: Original (photo #2) plus flavors as varied as Smoked Gouda; Rosemary & Olive Oil; Avocado, Cilantro & Lime, Roasted Garlic—and 15 other versatile flavors.

    The original Triscuits have just 120 calories per 6-cracker serving. You will not find trans fats or cholesterol in a Triscuit, and because they are made of whole grain, each cracker retains its full high fiber content (review the nutritional information on each box for exact amounts).

     
    In July, Triscuit introduced three flavors that are 100% USDA Certified Organic to meet the needs of consumers who solely shop for organic snack foods: Original With Sea Salt, Thin Crisps With Sea Salt, and Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil (photo #4).
     
     
    MORE THAN JUST A SNACK

    Cooking with Triscuit? Absolutely. THE NIBBLE and other farm table guests shared a magnificent dinner prepared by Chef James Rigato, whose Detroit, Michigan restaurant, Mabel Gray, recently won Eater’s “Best New Restaurant in America” and was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award’s “Best New Restaurant.”

    Almost every dish was prepared using Triscuit as an ingredient, and the results were superb. Not just Triscuit as a base for canapés, but in cookies, trifle, and more.

    Among many choice offerings, our favorite was Chef Rigato’s Lamb Meatballs with Triscuit Crackers, which also included a spicy green tomato sugo, marinated sweet peppers, and fresh herbs, but are just as spectacular when braised in a light, fresh tomato sauce. The recipe is below.

    Fun Fact: The first Triscuits were made by Henry Perky, who opened his factory in Niagara Falls, New York in 1893.
    Fun Fact: Triscuits got their name because the first biscuits (crackers) were triangular. Triangle + Biscuit = Triscuit.
    Fun Fact: There are about 54 Triscuit crackers per 9 ounce box. Based on the recommended serving size of 6 crackers, this equates to about 9 servings.
    Fun Fact: In 2017, Nabisco Triscuit sales were $341.5 million, earning it fourth place in the cracker category behind Sunshine Cheez-It, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and Nabisco Ritz Crackers (source).
    Fun Fact: Eating Triscuit is fun at every meal of the day.

    —Rowann Gilman

     

    RECIPE: LAMB MEATBALLS MADE WITH TRISCUIT

    This yummy recipe (photo #5) is courtesy of Chef James Rigato, Mabel Gray Restaurant, Hazel Park, Michigan.

    Hazel Park is located in the “thumb” of Michigan, the southeast corner of the state. The city is home to Hazel Park Raceway, currently the only track in Michigan offering live thoroughbred racing.

    How about dinner and a race?

    Ingredients For About 2 Dozen Meatballs

    Chef Rigato served these meatballs to us in a green tomato sauce, but he also serves them in a light tomato sauce. Use your own homemade tomato sauce recipe or your favorite prepared tomato sauce.

    Serve with pasta, rice or other grain, as you prefer.

  • 1/2 cup Original Flavor Triscuit, crushed into fine crumbs
  • 1/3-1/2 cup milk
  • 1¼ pounds ground lamb
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the crushed Triscuit crumbs with the milk in a small bowl. Let sit until crumbs have absorbed the milk. Set aside.

    2. COMBINE the lamb, egg, Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and parsley in a medium bowl, combine. Use your hands to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

    3. SAUTÉ the onions and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the wine, raise heat to high, and add the crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano. Allow liquid to reduce until it is almost evaporated. Allow to cool. When cool enough to handle…

    4. ADD the onion mixture to the meat mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the Tabasco sauce to taste, and the Worcestershire sauce. Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

    5. FORM the mixture into 1½- to 2-inch balls. Add the oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Sauté the meatballs, shaking the skillet often to sear on all sides. When browned…

    6. ADD the meatballs to your preferred sauce until heated through. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
     
     
    MORE WAYS TO USE TRISCUITS

  • Buffalo Chicken Nachos
  • Canapes (photo #7)
  • Chocolate-Caramel Triscuits With Sea Salt (photo #8)
  • Dipper with guacamole, hummus and other dips
  • Crumbled croutons
  • Layered dip, crumbled as a layer or whole as a dipper)
  • Reuben spread
  • Salted Chocolate Caramel Triscuits
  • S’mores
  • Soup Garnish
  • Taco Triscuits (salsa, cheese, etc.)
  • Triscuit Pizza With Pepperoni
  • Triscuit Pizza With Any Topping
  •  

    Lamb Meatballs
    [5] Lamb meatballs, made with Triscuit “breadcrumbs” (photo courtesy Ben Hon)

    English Trifle
    [6] A layer of Triscuit in a trifle, for sweet-and-salty crunch (photo courtesy Ben Hon).

    Triscuit Canapes
    [7] Triscuit canapés. Here’s the recipe from Foodie Crush.

    Chocolate Triscuits
    [8] Salted Chocolate Caramel Triscuits. Here’s the recipe from Dancing Through The Rain.

     
    ________________

    *No relation to the Kretschmer wheat germ family.

      

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    SUMMER RECIPES: Cucumber & Melon Salad, Grilled Zucchini

    Grilled Zucchini
    [1] Grilled zucchini, given a Moroccan touch with cumin (photos #1, #2, #3, #5 courtesy Good Eggs).

    Cucumber Melon Salad
    [2] Refreshing cucumber-melon salad, accented with serrano chiles and mint.

    Melon Salad
    [3] Both dishes on the picnic table.

    Painted Serpent Cucumbers
    [4] Painted Serpent cucumbers are an heirloom Asian cucumber. You can buy the seeds from Born To Grow.

    Grilled Peaches & Ricotta
    [5] For dessert: grilled peaches and ricotta. Here’s the recipe.

     

    While summer actually lasts until September 21st, many people see Labor Day as “the end of summer.”

    Here are two interesting recipes with flavor highlights beyond the standard Labor Day Weekend fare. Both are better-for-you dishes that add special touches to the basics.

    And you can still enjoy them after Labor Day!
     
     
    RECIPE #1: GRILLED ZUCCHINI WITH CUMIN & MINT

    Add a Moroccan touch to grilled zucchini (photo #1).

    It’s the oil that really makes this dish says Good Eggs, which sent us these recipes. The cumin is toasted, ground, and mixed with olive oil to form a thin paste that gives the charred zucchini a subtle smokiness.

    Serve it as a side, or as a filling for vegetarian tacos.
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch planks
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • Fresh herbs (scallion, mint, parsley, cilantro, or basil),
    roughly chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a grill, or for stove top, heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan, over medium-high heat. Toss the zucchini with olive oil to coat, and season with sea salt.

    2. SEAR the zucchini on the grill until caramelized and browned, roughly 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the planks and repeat. Remove them from the grill and set on plate to cool. While zucchini is cooling…

    3. TOAST the cumin seeds in a skillet. Crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, and combine with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to form a thin paste. Fold in the grated garlic.

    4. DRIZZLE or spread the zucchini with the cumin paste, and top with fresh herbs to serve.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: CUCUMBER & MELON SALAD WITH LEMON & MINT

    A refreshing fruit* salad of soft melon and crunchy cucumber are bound with a dressing of olive oil and lemon (photo #2).

    Slices of serrano chile and some fresh herbs add a punch to the mellow melon and cukes.

    While this recipe specified a chanterais or galia melon, specialty items sold by Good Eggs, they are not found everywhere.

    An easy substitute: honeydew or, for a bright accent of color, cantaloupe.

    The recipe also called for Painted Serpent cucumbers, an heirloom variety from Asia. Use whatever long, thin cucumber is in your market.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 honeydew or cantaloupe melon†
  • 2 long, thin cucumbers, sliced into ½-inch coins<†/li>
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of flaky salt
  • ½ fresh serrano pepper, sliced, or pinch of dried chili flakes
  • Fresh mint or basil, roughly chopped†
  •  
    Note: The comparative sizes of melons and cucumbers vary, and the melon cubes will be larger than the cucumber coins.

    Eyeball the proportions and combine them “to taste.” If you have extra, you’ll have melon and cucumber for tomorrow.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the melon: Cut the top and bottom off of the melon with a serrated knife. Stand the melon upright, then cut around it to remove the skin. Cut in half, then scoop out the seeds. Cut the flesh into bite-size cubes.

    2. SLICE the cucumbers, skin-on, in 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces.

    3. SLICE the serrano peppers very thinly—careful, they’re hot so wash your hands thoroughly after touching them.

    To remove some of the heat, remove the seeds and the pith. Add the salt and fresh herbs to taste. Toss and serve.
     
     
    A COMPLEMENT FOR DESSERT

    Try this delicious recipe for grilled peaches or nectarines, served with sweetened ricotta.

    They’re an American approach to the European dessert of fruit and cheese.

    ___________________
    *Botanically, cucumber is classified as a fruit. It is closely related to watermelon, which is why the white rind tastes like cucumber and is made into watermelon pickles. Here’s the difference between fruits and vegetables.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Golden Cannoli Chips

    Our favorite discover of the summer is Golden Cannoli Chips, The Original Cannoli Chip.

    The sweet chips provide the cannoli experience without our having to go out for cannoli, a dessert we simply can’t resist.

    At home, we dip them into some sweetened ricotta cheese, to enjoy “deconstructed” cannoli (the full recipe follows).

    Golden Cannoli Chips are triangle-shaped, crimped edge cookie chips, in four flavors:

  • Cinnamon & Sugar
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Lemon
  • Powdered Sugar
  •  
    For authentic cannoli taste, get the Powdered Sugar or possibly Cinnamon & Sugar. The Cookies & Cream and Lemon are tasty, but not “cannoli.”

    Ready to make the dip?
     
    RECIPE: CANNOLI CREAM DIP

    If all you have is ricotta, sweeten it to taste and start dipping. Otherwise, here is the full cannoli cream recipe.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1 container (15 ounces) whole milk ricotta cheese, strained*
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • For dipping: cannoli chips, graham crackers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHIP the cream in a mixing bowl, until stiff peaks form. Move to a small bowl and set aside.

    2. ADD the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Fold in the whipped cream and chocolate chips.

    3. CHILL the cannoli cream for at least 2 hours. Serve with the cannoli chips (or, use it to fill cannoli shells).
     
    ABOUT GOLDEN CANNOLI

    The predecessor of Golden Cannoli was founded by cousins in greater Boston in 1970, as an Italian bakery. Cannoli shells were part of the product line.

    The bakery soon was asked to produce cannoli for local bakeries. Production expanded so much that the cousins sold bakery and opened Golden Cannoli, to focus on cannoli shells, cannoli filling and related items.

     

    Golden Cannoli Chips
    [1] Golden Cannoli Chips are made in four flavors. Shown: Powdered Sugar, the “authentic” cannoli flavor (all photos courtesy Golden Cannoli).

    Cannoli Chips
    [2] Our favorite “chips and dip” (sorry, potato chips).

    Cannoli Ice Cream Sandwiches
    [3] Mini ice cream sandwiches are just one fun use for Golden Cannoli Chips.

     
    The cannoli chips were a happy accident. The company was selling their products at a trade show, handing out samples of filled cannoli. The samples quickly ran out (who can resist a free cannoli?).

    The solution was to break up cannoli shells up and put them in cups of cannoli cream as a dip…and The Original Cannoli Chips were born!

    Back from the show, the company quickly got to work to make Golden Cannoli Chips a reality.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT GOLDENCANNOLI.COM

     
    WAYS TO USE CANNOLI CHIPS

    have fun with them, as decorations, garnishes and more:

  • Cake Pop and Ice Cream Cone garnish
  • Cake Decoration (cover the sides)
  • Dessert “Canapes” (top the chips with cannoli cream)
  • Dipping
  • Mini Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Parfaits and Sundaes
  • Pie Crust (try it with cheesecake†)
  • Popcorn Mix-In
  • Snacking From Bag
  • Yogurt Mix-In
  • ________________

    *To strain, set a strainer over a bowl or a pot, and add the ricotta. Let it drain naturally, and then use a spatula to lightly press out most of the remaining liquid. You can substitute low-fat ricotta.

    †Cheesecake is an open-face pie, not a cake; as Boston Cream Pie is a cake, not a pie. The terms originated long ago, when naming conventions were not so precise.

      

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