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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

FOOD FUN: Watermelon Sushi

We just finished National Watermelon Month (July), but National Watermelon Day is coming up on August 3rd. Here are two ways to enjoy it that may not yet be in your repertoire.
 
WATERMELON SUSHI ROLL

Mango has been a familiar ingredient in sushi rolls for years. But it’s summertime, the season for for watermelon.

In the spirit of eating seasonally, Haru substitutes fresh watermelon for the mango in a roll made with snow crab, green onion and mint. It’s topped with shrimp and served with a lemon dressing in addition to (or instead of) soy sauce.

If you want to make something similar at home, cantaloupe and honeydew work equally well.

Haru pairs the Watermelon Roll with Watermelon Lemonade, a sweet-tart blend of lemon-infused vodka, saké, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur (a NIBBLE favorite), fresh watermelon, lemon juice and thyme-infused simple syrup. The recipe is below.

   

watermelon-roll-snow crab-greenonion-mint-shrimp-haru-230

Watermelon combines with conventional ingredients in this sushi roll. Photo courtesy Haru.

 
If you’d rather have someone make them for you, head to one of Haru’s five locations in Manhattan and one in Boston.

And if you’d like to know the different types of sushi better, check out our Sushi Glossary.

RECIPE: WATERMELON LEMONADE

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 5 fresh watermelon cubes
  • 1½ ounces Absolut Citron vodka
  • ½ ounce St.-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce thyme-infused simple syrup
  • Soda water to fill
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: thyme sprigs wrapped with lemon peel, skewered (see photo above)
  •  
    For The Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/watermelon lemonade 230 haru

    It’s not so innocent: This watermelon lemonade has watermelon and lemonade, but also citron vodka and elderflower liqueur. Photo courtesy Haru.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: Combine the thyme, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the thyme from the syrup and refrigerate in an airtight container.

    2. MUDDLE the watermelon cubes in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients (except garnish) and ice, and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds

    3. POUR into a tall, ice-filled glass. Garnish with thyme and lemon peel.
     
    THE HISTORY OF WATERMELON

    Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus, is believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa (it covers much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa). An ancestor of the modern watermelon still grows wild there.

    Watermelon is a member of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. Its cousins include cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins and squash.

     
    Watermelons are about 92% water—that’s how they got their English name. In ancient times, travelers carried watermelons as a substitute for potable water, which was not easy to find.

    Watermelon was cultivated as early as 2000 B.C.E. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt. You can tell how much the Egyptians enjoyed watermelon: Seeds were found in the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, so his farmers could grow it in the afterlife.

    Thirsty traders passing through the Kalahari, refreshed by the fruit, began to sell the seeds along the trade routes. The cultivation of watermelon spread throughout Africa.

    Most culinary historians believe that watermelon spread from Egypt to other Mediterranean basin countries on merchant trading ships. According to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, the word first appeared in English dictionaries in 1615. Watermelon seeds came to the U.S. with African slaves as well as with British colonists.

    Watermelon was cultivated in China and other parts of Asia by the end of the 9th century C.E. or the early 10th century. Today China is the world’s number one producer of watermelon, Turkey is the second-largest producer and Iran is third. The U.S. is the world’s fourth-largest producer of watermelon, tied with Brazil.

    Watermelons come in a variety of shapes and sizes: Oval, round, even square, developed in Japan for smaller refrigerators. The flesh can be red or yellow; botanists have also developed varieties with orange and white flesh and even this multicolored blue-green watermelon.
     
    Here’s more about watermelon history, nutrition and tips.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Our 20+ Favorite Ways To Use Mustard

    National Mustard Day is the first Saturday in August—which happens to be today. The holiday was initiated in 1988 by a mustard lover named Jill Sengstock, and was taken under the wing of the National Mustard Museum in 1991. If you’re anywhere near Middleton, Wisconsin, you can join in the day of mustard-centric family activities (or is that family-centric mustard activities?).

    Mustard has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, beginning in India in 3000 B.C.E. It grew wild in the foothills of the Himalayas.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans used mustard as a condiment; some actually chewed the mustard seeds with their meat. Egyptian pharoahs were buried with seeds to use in the afterlife.

    Fast forward: By the 1400s, mustard had spread through Europe, with each region making its own style. Mustard came to the U.S. with European immigrants. Mustard came to America in the 1700s and immigrants established mustard businesses. The style of the day was strong, spicy and brown, but later, the yellow “ballpark” mustard style was born in the U.S.A. Here’s more history of mustard.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/5 open jars mailleFB 230

    Five of the 20+ types of mustard made
    by Maille Mustard.

     
    Today, there are dozens of different types of mustard—far beyond the all-American yellow mustard (like French’s), brown mustard (Chinese mustard, like Colman’s), Dijon (like Grey Poupon) and whole grain (like moutarde à l’ancienne—one variety, moutarde de Meaux, is called the “king of mustards” by connoisseurs).

    For National Mustard Day, commit to trying any of these you aren’t familiar with, plus a flavored mustard. Beyond honey mustard, look for Roquefort mustard, tarragon mustard and walnut mustard—three of our favorites.

    20+ WAYS TO USE MUSTARD

    Beyond hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches, mustard is a natural complement to many foods. Before we start the conventional list, take a look at this first course: gravlax with mustard ice cream. There’s no sugar in the ice cream, just novelty. Think of it as a cold mustard cream sauce!

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pate ground mustard duseks chicago 230

    Pâté with whole grain mustard (also called grainy mustard and in French, moutarde a l’ancienne). Photo courtesy Dusek’s |
    Chicago.

     
  • Barbecue: The essential in South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce, and a help to tomato-based barbecue sauces, to cut the sweetness.
  • Butter: Blend mustard with butter and lemon for a compound butter topping for toast, grilled meat or sauteed meat and seafood.
  • Canapés: Spread a base of bread or cucumber with a flavored mustard, then top with cheese, pâté, meat or other ingredients.
  • Charcuterie: As a condiment with bacon, ballotines, confits, galantines, ham, pâtés, sausages and terrines.
  • Cheese: Serve mustard as a condiment with strong cheeses (more about cheese condiments).
  • Chicken: Mustard brightens chicken stews and makes a delicious glaze for chicken breasts and wings.
  • Dip: Serve it straight or mixed with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt, with crudités, chips, fries and pretzels. Mustard is also an ingredient in beer and Cheddar dips. You can also add it to a Mexican queso dip.
  • Eggs: Mustard adds complexity to deviled eggs. It also makes a delicious sauce for poached eggs.
  • Fish: Sturdy fish like salmon and tuna are wonderful with a mustard crust. As a glaze, brush it on salmon fillets before broiling or on tuna before searing. Here’s a recipe for a mustard glaze for fish.
  • Glaze: In addition to fish, glaze chicken, ham, pork and lamb.
  • Grilled meats: Use mustard as your condiment for meats (including sausages) and poultry.
  • Ground Meat & Seafood: Add a spoonful along with other seasonings, to burgers, crab cake, meat loaf, etc.
  • Mussels: Swirl mustard into lager-steamed mussels and garnish with dill. Here’s a mussels and mustard recipe from Pierre Franey, chef of the legendary (and belated) Le Pavillon restaurant in New York City.
  • Mustard Sauce: Here’s a recipe for mustard sauce.
  • Pan Sauces: After sautéing chicken breasts or searing steaks, whisk the fond (the browned bits at the bottom of the pan) with a splash of wine and a dollop of mustard, into a tasty sauce.
  • Pasta: Add acidity to a cream sauce for pasta with a spoonful of mustard. Make a butter-mustard sauce for noodles with grainy mustard.
  • Potatoes: Add a spoonful of mustard to mashed potatoes. Then top it with crumbled bacon and minced chives or scallions! Add Dijon mustard to a gratin; add a bit to a sour cream or yogurt sauce for potatoes and vegetables.
  • Roasts: To create a beautiful crust for a leg of lamb, pork loin or turkey breast, rub it with an herb mustard before roasting.
  • Salads: Add a spoonful to the “protein” salads—chicken, egg, ham, tuna—and the side salads—cole slaw, potato salad and macaroni salad.
  • Sandwich Spread: Mix mayonnaise with mustard, half and half or to taste. It adds flavor and cuts the calories and fat of the mayo in half.
  • Soup: Add a spoonful to a pot of dull soup.
  • Tartar Sauce: Here’s a zingy recipe from Colman’s.
  • Vinaigrette: A mustard dressing is a classic with salad greens, but it’s also delicious with roasted vegetables (try it with parsnips and turnips!).
  •  
    Thanks to Colman’s Mustard for some of these yummy ideas. Click the link for recipes.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Reduced Sugar Raspberry Pie

    July 31st is National Raspberry Cake Day. You can make one easily, by using raspberry jam as a filling between two layers, using whipped cream to frost the cake, and decorating the top with fresh raspberries.

    But for calorie counters, substitute the cake for a pie, and make this reduced calorie raspberry pie from Driscoll’s. It replaces some of the sugar with a noncaloric sugar substitute. And August 1st is National Raspberry Cream Pie Day.

    You can add a garnish of whipped cream from an aerosol can. With all the air whipped into the sweetened cream, it has just eight calories per tablespoon.

    For this recipe, prep time is 25 minutes; cook time is 1 hour 5 minutes.

    If you don’t want a reduced-sugar pie, try this raspberry cream pie recipe.

    RECIPE: REDUCED-CALORIE RASPBERRY PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings
     
    For The Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
  •  

    raspberry-pie-flower-crust-driscolls-230

    Raspberry pie with a leafy crust. Use small cookie cutters to cut leaves from dough scraps. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     
    For The Filling

  • 3 packages (6 ounces each) Driscoll’s raspberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated Splenda (not from individual packets)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  •  
    Optional Garnish

  • Aerosol whipped cream
  •  

    raspberries-cartons-MF-jeltovski-230

    Just-picked raspberries. Photo by J. Eltovski | Morguefile.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the ater, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough comes together (be careful not to over-mix). Pat the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

    2. MAKE the filling: Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large circle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out a 13-inch circle and gently transfer the dough to a 9-1/2-inch pie plate. Fold the edge of dough under the rim of the plate and crimp to make a decorative crust. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Cut the remaining dough into various small cutouts, using cookie cutters. (Here’s a set of mini leaf cutters. We use this linzer cookie cutter set with a heart, moon, sun and star.)

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Top the pie dough shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. (This large pie weight from Chicago Metallic avoids having to pick up the individual weights or beans.)

     
    4. BAKE the crust for 10 minutes, remove the foil and weights and continue to bake about 10 minutes more or until lightly golden.

    5. REDUCE the oven temperature to 350°F. Place the raspberries, Splenda, brown sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl and stir until evenly combined. Spoon into prebaked crust. Brush crust with beaten egg and top with small cutouts. Brush cutouts with beaten egg.

    6. BAKE for 40 to 45 minutes or until the juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving, or chill completely.
     
    Find more delicious berry recipes at Driscolls.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Salad Topping For Fish

    Today’s tip was inspired by this dish (photo at left) at The Sea Fire Grill, in Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center.

    At its simplest, the tip is: Serve fish fillets—baked, grilled, pan-fried, roasted or sautéed—topped with a salad of baby greens, very lightly dressed in vinaigrette or olive oil and lime juice.
     
    ADD COLOR TO EVERY PLATE OF FOOD

    The salad adds vibrant color to a plate of beige, brown and/or white foods, a longstanding practice of chefs (even if times past, the color was a sprig of parsley). You can add even more color a side of yellow squash, carrots, sautéed heirloom cherry tomatoes or any of these “Rainbow Vegetables.”

    The Sea Grill adds fun and flavor by layering the dish with a south-of-the-border spin:

  • A house-made tortilla shell, filled with corn and bean salad (corn salad recipe).
  • A drizzle of basil olive oil under the tortilla shell.
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/salad topped sea bass theseafiregrillFB 230

    Salad-topped grilled black sea bass in a corn salad-filled tortilla bowl. Photo courtesy The Sea Grill | NYC.

  • Dots of balsamic vinegar reduction (or purchased balsamic glaze—check your local Trader Joe’s).
  • Chipotle aïoli (add chipotle powder powder to taste, to this aïoli recipe (aïoli is garlic mayonnaise). You can substitute chile powder for the chipotle, but it won’t have the signature chipotle smokiness.
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/sauteed cherry tomatoes leitesculinaria 230

    Sautéed cherry tomatoes are another
    easy way to add color and flavor to a fish
    fillet dish. Here’s a sautéed cherry tomato
    recipe
    from Leite’s Culinaria.

     

    You don’t need to make tortilla bowls: You can place the fish on top of the corn salad, or substitute cucumber salad, beans/legumes/bean purée, guacamole, rice or other starch, or vegetables/vegetable purée. But if you want to make the bowls, here’s how:

    RECIPE: TORTILLA BOWLS

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Lightly spray both sides of 8-inch corn tortillas with nonstick cooking spray.

    2. PRESS each tortilla over a custard cup, ramekin or other oven-safe bowl; crimp to form the fluted bowl shape. Place on a baking sheet.

    3. BAKE for 10 minutes or until the edges are browned. Remove from the oven and cool for 3 minutes. Remove the tortillas from the bowls and cool completely.
     
    For larger tortilla bowls that you can use for entrée salads, purchase burrito-size wraps and drape them over a 1-quart ovenproof bowl (we use Pyrex).

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Paella On The Grill

    We love paella and don’t make it often enough. So when Fagor wrote to us about their paella pan and included a recipe to make it on the grill, our ears perked up.

    PAELLA HISTORY

    Paella (pronounced pie-AY-ya) originated in Valencia, a region on the Mediterranean (east) coast of Spain. It was originally a peasant dish, made by agricultural laborers who cooked a mixture of rice, snails and vegetables in the fields. Cooked in a pan over an open fire. it was a communal dish, eaten directly from the pan with wooden spoons.

    Valencianos who lived closer to the coast added local eel plus butter beans (lima beans). Paella is the type of dish that lends itself to adding whatever you have on hand, so can change seasonally. Recipes thus evolved in many directions.
     
    MODERN PAELLA

    The paella we know today—saffron rice mixed with chorizo, chicken and seafood—did not evolve until the late 18th century century, when living standards rose affording the use of more expensive ingredients—especially saffron, the world’s costliest spice.

    It’s easy to vary the ingredients to create any type of paella, including vegetarian and vegan recipes. But three main styles developed in the 19th century:

  • Paella Valenciana combines rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck), snails, beans and seasoning
  • Paella de marisco, a seafood paella that replaces meat and snails with seafood, and omits the beans and green vegetables
  • Paella mixta, a freestyle combination of meat, seafood and vegetables. Note that in the U.S., dishes called “Paella Valenciana” are actually paella mixta, the combination of ingredients preferred by most people.
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/paella on grill acouplecooks. 230

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/fagor paella pan 230

    Above, paella on the grill; photo courtesy A Couple Cooks. Underneath, the Fagor paella pan; photo courtesy Fagor America.

     

    By the mid-1800s, paella included short-grain white rice and a mix of proteins: chicken, duck, rabbit and snails (less affluent people often made do with snails alone). The dish was actually a “rice and beans” dish, with a mix of butter beans, Great Northern beans (white beans) and runner beans (green beans). Artichokes and tomatoes replaced runner beans in the winter. Spices included garlic, pimentòn (sweet paprika), rosemary, saffron and salt. The dish was cooked in olive oil.

    The recipe continued to evolve as chorizo, green peas, olives and roasted red pepper found their way into the dish. We’ve seen recipes with chopped chard or escarole, eggplant, fennel, mushrooms, oives, onion, piquillo chiles, red or green bell pepper, snow peas, tomatoes (fresh diced or roasted) and seasonal (spring asparagus and winter squash, e.g.). Some cooks garnish the top of the paella with sliced hard-boiled eggs and lemon wheels.

    The cook’s favorite ingredients were sure to be included. The chef at Soccorat, Soccarat, a group of tapas and paella restaurants in New York City, devised a paella menu that includes:

  • Arroz negro (black rice): calamari, fish, scallops, piquillo peppers and shrimp with squid ink rice.
  • Carne (meat): chicken, chorizo, mushroom sofrito, short ribs and snow peas.
  • De la huerta (from the orchard, i.e., vegetarian*): artichokes, cauliflower, eggplant, snow peas and tomatoes.
  • Fideuà† de mar y montana (ingredients from the sea and mountains): Brussels sprouts, chicken thighs, cuttlefish and shrimp, with noodles instead of rice
  • Langosta (crustacean): lobster, roasted peppers, scallops, shrimp and squid.
  • Pescados y mariscos (fish and seafood): cockles, English peas, mussels, scallops, shrimp, squid and white fish.
  • Socarrat‡ (house signature recipe): beef, chicken, cockles, cuttlefish, fava beans, mussels, shrimp and white fish.
  • Valenciana: asparagus, pork ribs, rabbit, scallions and snails.
  •  
    *The word vegetariano does exist in Spanish, but there is some poetic license involved with the orchard reference.
     
    †Fideuà denotes the a type of cuisine from Catalonia, the northeastern part of Spain (north of Valencia). The style originated in the 1920s in the city of Gandia, when thin noodles like vermicelli (fideu in the Catalan language) were used instead of rice in the paella. The pasta is broken into short lengths and cooked in the paella pan. There are many variations of it, and it is optionally served with allioli sauce, the traditional Catalan garlic and olive oil sauce. Other examples of the cuisine: calçots—barbecued spring onions with romesco sauce—cured anchovies, embutidos y butifarras (cured meats and sausages), sparkling Cava wine and anything made with the local bolet mushrooms. Canelons, Spanish cannelloni, and Pa amb tomaquèt, bread rubbed with tomato (and sometimes with with garlic and olive oil), and Escudella de carn d’olla, is a hearty Catalan stew, round out the list of “must trys” when you’re next in Barcelona.
     
    ‡Soccorat is the hard, crunchy rice crust that develops on the bottom of the pan from its proximity to the heat. Some people particularly enjoy it.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/chicken Wm Son paella 230

    Paella is a freestyle dish: Whatever you have on hand can go into the pan. Here, chicken legs and thighs, green beans and corn are included. Our personal favorite combination: a mixto with pimento (red bell pepper in a jar), black and green olives, artichoke hearts and green peas, plus fresh asparagus in the spring. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.com.

     

    RECIPE: PAELLA ON THE GRILL

    This recipe, sent to us by Fagor, takes about 40 minutes. Created by ACoupleCooks.com, can easily be made as a vegan dish. You can also add the traditional mixto ingredients, chicken thighs and sliced chorizo.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 15-inch paella pan or any large, shallow, flameproof pan (stainless steel or aluminum preferable)
  • 12 mussels or clams
  • 12 high-quality deveined shrimp (or substitute cooked chickpeas for a vegetarian version)
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 zucchini
  • ½ head cauliflower or any vegetables of your choice (we used a classic blend of roasted red peppers [pimento], peas and olives)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup tomato purée
  • 5½ cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups Arborio (short grain) rice
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 tablespoons pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the grill to medium high heat. Prepare the ingredients: Scrub the mussels or clams; place them in a bowl with the shrimp. Slice the zucchini and mushrooms; chop the cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Place the vegetables in a bowl.

    2. MINCE 4 cloves of garlic and put them in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons olive oil. In a medium bowl, place ½ cup tomato purée and 5½ cups broth; mix to combine. In a another bowl, add 2 cups arborio rice, 1 pinch saffron, 2 tablespoons pimentón, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a good amount of fresh ground pepper.

    3. ASSEMBLE the paella: Bring the bowls of ingredients and the paella pan to the grill. Prior to cooking, add about 15 briquettes to the fire to keep the temperature up. Place the pan on the grill and add the olive oil and garlic; cook for about 30 seconds. Add the vegetables; cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the seafood; cook for about 2 minutes, flipping the shrimp once. Pour in the rice and spices so that they cover the pan. Add the broth and purée mixture and stir to combine.

    4. COOK the paella for 20 to 30 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Cook uncovered on a charcoal grill or with the cover down on a gas grill. Make sure not to stir, since this when the soccorat develops. (Editor’s note: Soccorat is the rice crust on the bottom of the pan, which some people find very exciting. We personally don’t like hard, crunchy rice).

    5. CHECK to see that the rice on the bottom does not burn; it cooks fairly quickly. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for about 5 to 10 minutes to cool.
     
    WHY BUY A PAELLA PAN?

    Why not make paella in a roasting pan or other vessel you already have?

    You can, of course; but a paella pan is specifically designed for seamless heat conduction and retention. Fagor’s, with a heavy weight and enamel-on-steel design, is a great heat conductor on the grill, oven or stovetop.

    You can buy it Fagor Paella Pan or at retailers like Bed, Bath & Beyond. Be sure to get the 15-inch size. With a dish like paella, you want to make as much as you can and enjoy the leftovers.

    A paella pan is a versatile piece of cookware that can also be used to make:

  • Eggs and bacon
  • Pancakes
  • Roast chicken (the pan goes from oven to table)
  • Stir-frys (or anything you’d use a wok for)
  • Pizza: grease and flour the pan well or use nonstick spray
  •  
    And the pan easily goes from stove to table (don’t forget a trivet).
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry Cheesecake Pops

    strawberry-lime-cheesecake-pops-kraft-230

    Make frozen strawberry cheesecake pops to celebrate National Cheesecake Day. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

     

    July 30th is National Cheesecake Day, and we’re baking our Cheesecake Recipe Sour Cream Topping, which happens to be our mom’s recipe. It’s a heavy cream cheese cake with a sour cream topping that isn’t found often these days—probably because most people don’t want to take the extra step.

    If you don’t want to bake any type of cheesecake, how about these Strawberry Lime Cheesecake Pops from Philadelphia Cream Cheese? They give you a summery cheesecake experience without turning on the oven.

    Not all cheesecakes are sweet, by the way. We love savory cheesecakes—basil, blue cheese, corn and provolone, lobster Gruyère, salmon and tuna. Serve one with cocktails, as an appetizer, or as the cheese course with a salad. They’re memorable!

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY LIME CHEESECAKE POPS

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups strawberries, divided
  • 1-1/2 packages (12 ounces) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, cubed, then softened
  • 1 tablespoons lime zest and 2 tablespoons juice from 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (heavy cream)
  • Plus:

  • 12 paper or plastic cups, 3 ounces each
  • 12-cup muffin tin
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE a 3-ounce paper or plastic cup in each of 12 muffin pan cups. Cut each of 3 strawberries into 4 slices; place in the cups.

    2. PLACE the remaining strawberries in a food processor. Add the cream cheese, lime zest, juice and sugar; process until smooth. Spoon into medium bowl.

    3. BEAT the whipping cream in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently stir into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon into the prepared cups. Tap the cups on the counter to remove any air bubbles.

    4. INSERT a wooden pop stick or a plastic spoon into the center of each cup. If they won’t stand up straight, freeze for an hour and try again.

    5. FREEZE for 4 hours or until firm. Remove the frozen pops from cups just before serving.

     

    CHEESECAKE TRIVIA

  • Cheesecake (savory) was popular in ancient Greece. Neufchatel, ricotta and other soft, fresh cheesecake-friendly cheeses have existed in Europe for centuries, engendering a variety of savory and sweet cheesecake recipes.
  • Cream cheese was invented by accident in New York, in 1872, and later given the Philadelphia brand name (learn more). In the early 20th century, the company promoted the first cream cheese cake recipe, and an icon was born.
  • Cheesecake is actually a cheese custard pie. There is no cake made with flour, but a bottom crust like an open face pie.
  • Cheesecake is often served with fresh or cooked fruit. Blueberries, mango, raspberries and strawberries are fan favorites.
  • Want more? Take our cheesecake trivia quiz.
  •  

    philadelphia_cream_cheese-box-ps-230

    Cream cheese is an American invention. Cream cheese-based cheesecake owes its popularity to Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which launched in 1872. The brand promoted the recipe on its packages. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

     

    18 DELICIOUS CHEESECAKE RECIPES

    We love cheesecake, and have published quite a few recipes over the years. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake recipe
  • Burnt Caramel Cheesecake recipe
  • Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake recipe
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake (recipe) and the history of cheesecake
  • Cranberry Cheesecake recipe with whiskey buttercream sauce
  • Easy Blueberry Cheesecake Topping recipe
  • Grand Marnier Mascarpone Cheesecake recipe
  • Individual Cheesecakes With Fresh Orange Or Grapefruit (recipe)
  • Individual Eggnog Cheesecakes recipe
  • Irish Coffee Cheesecake recipe
  • Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake recipe
  • Mango Cheesecake recipe
  • Michael Chiarello’s Mascarpone Cheesecake recipe
  • Milk Chocolate Cheesecake recipe
  • Mocha Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe
  • My Mom’s New York Cheesecake With Sour Cream Topping recipe
  • Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake with gingersnap crust recipe
  • Red Velvet Cheesecake recipe
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chimichurri Sauce

    Each country in Latin America has a national salsa, or sauce. In Argentina, it’s chimichurri.

    Chimichurri sauce is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, white or red vinegar and red pepper flakes. Oregano can be added. Cilantro can replace parsley in some regions; vegetable oil can replace the olive oil.

    The original sauce is green from the parsley; later red versions add tomatoes, red bell peppers and/or hot chiles.

    In beef-endowed Argentina chimichurri is the steak sauce of choice, also used with other beef-based dishes and any grilled meats.

    As one story goes, the name name evolved from “Jimmy McCurry,” an Irishman who developed the recipe in Argentina. However, there is no written documentation of this.

    Purportedly, McCurry was sympathetic to the cause of Argentine independence in the 19th century, and served in a troop under the command of General Jasson Ospina. The sauce was popular but “Jimmy McCurry” was difficult for Argentineans to say, so it became “chimichurri” sauce (pronounced chimmy CHOO-ree).

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/grilled rib eye steak with chimichurri sauce dartagnan 230r

    Classic: grilled beef with chimichurri sauce. Photo courtesy D’Artagnan.

     
    Another theory is that the name comes from the Basque settlers who arrived in Argentina in the 19th century. According to grilling expert Steve Raichlen, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order.” [Source: Raichlen, Steven, “Planet Barbecue!,” Workman Publishing Company. p. 159. ]

    It’s easy to make chimichurri in a blender or food processor; but purists may want to make it the original way, with a mortar and pestle. We find that pesto made this way tastes better than food processor pesto, even when the exact same ingredients are used.
     
    RECIPE: BASIC CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    Ideally, make the chimichurri sauce a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 2 cups fresh Italian parsley leaves, tightly packed
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh oregano leaves or 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, about 1 minute total.

    2. ADD the oil in a steady stream, with the motor running. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few times to combine.

    3. TRANSFER the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day, allowing the flavors to meld. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

     

    Grilled Halloumi With Chimichurri Sauce

    This chimichurri sauce has been made elegant by pureeing. It’s served with a vegetarian dish, Grilled Halloumi And trumpet Mushrooms. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.

     

    CREATE YOUR SIGNATURE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    You can adding or substitute other ingredients to create a signature chimichurri:

  • Substitute lemon or lime juice for the vinegar.
  • Use fresh or roasted chiles instead of the red pepper flakes.
  • Add minced onion.
  • Try balsamic or flavored vinegar instead of wine vinegar
  • Give it an Asian spin with fresh ginger and mint, or an Indian influence of green curry and cilantro.
  • Turn it into mint sauce by substituting mint for the parsley; or make a parsley-mint blend.
  • Substitute basil for “Caprese sauce.”
  • Add a spoonful of Dijon mustard.
  • Make red chimichurri sauce by adding red bell peppers and/or raw or roasted tomatos (Red Chimichurri Rcipe).
  • For elegance, purée the naturally textured sauce into a smooth one (see photo at left).
  •  
    21+ WAYS TO USE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    Like Italy’s pesto, chimichurri is a bright green, herb-based, versatile sauce that you can use with:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Burgers
  • Caprese salad dressing
  • Crostini (serve the toasts with grilled meats)
  • Eggs, any style
  • Egg salad, chicken salad, potato salad, tuna salad, etc.
  • Fries and onion rings
  • Grilled fish or seafood (recipe: Mango Grilled Shrimp With Chimichurri Grilled Mango-Citrus Chimichurri Shrimp)
  • Grilled halloumi or other grilling cheese (see photo above)
  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken, lamb, pork
  • Hot dogs, brats and other sausages
  • Marinades (add more oil, vinegar, citrus juice or and/or water to thin out)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pasta (toss pasta lightly with EVOO before adding the chimichurri)
  • Rice and other cooked grains
  • Soup and stew garnish
  • Tacos
  • Tofu
  • Sandwich spread (mix with mayo or mustard)
  • Vegetarian dishes, including veggie wraps
  • Vinaigrette
  • Yogurt sauce (blend into plain Greek yogurt)
  •  
    Other ideas? Post them here.
     
    SEE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SALSA IN OUR SALSA GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Blend Your Own Seasoned Salt

    If you shake salt on your food, one of the easiest ways to add more flavor is to use a seasoned salt. Why not add other seasonings at the same time?

    Perhaps that’s why Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, created in 1938 to season the prime rib served at Lawry’s restaurant in Beverly Hills, has remained a prominent fixture on the spice rack in many households.

    The blend of salt, herbs and spices (garlic, onion, paprika and turmeric, plus sugar—here’s the copycat Lawry’s Seasoned Salt Recipe) adds more flavor than salt alone.

    Home cooks found that it worked on everything, from breakfast eggs to any grain, protein, starch or vegetable.
     
    BUYING FLAVORED SALTS

    Over the last decade, numerous specialty food artisans—Urban Accents, Saltworks and quite a few other—have created collections of seasoned salts, with a base of sea salt. Even McCormick has joined in, with 11 McCormick sea salt grinders from Chipotle to Sweet Onion.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/salts ritrovo 230w

    Casina Rossa seasoned sea salts from
    Italy—Porcini, Saffron, Edible Flowers,
    and others, are available from Seasoned
    Sea Salts
    . Photo by Naheed Choudhry |
    THE NIBBLE.

     
    The Urban Accents blends tend to mirror popular cuisines: Caribbean, Indian (curry and mango), Mediterranean, Provençal (herbes de Provence), Spanish (smoked paprika).

    The Fusion line of sea salts from Saltworks goes farther, with gourmet salts such as Black Truffle, Espresso, Ginger, Lemon, Lime, Maple, Matcha, Merlot, Sriracha, Sundried Tomato, Vanilla and White Truffle.

    But at $15 or so per 3.5-ounce jar (more for pricier items like porcini and truffle), you might want to try blending your own with what you have on hand.

    We’re addicted to truffle salts, and to Casa Rossa’s saffron salt. A pinch of salt lets us enjoy these two favorite flavors in everything from scrambled eggs to mashed potatoes and vinaigrette.

    Unfortunately for us, it’s so costly to purchase dried saffron or truffles—two of the priciest ingredients in the world—that there’s no money to be saved by blending our own.

    But there’s much more to blend than saffron and truffles.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/beauty 230

    Coarse sea salt as a base for your seasoned
    salts. Photo by Dhanraj Emanuel | THE NIBBLE.

     

    START BLENDING!

    It takes just five minutes to blend salt, herbs and spices in a spice grinder. You can make them on an ad hoc basis, or make larger batches to store and use as needed.

    Pick A Salt

    If you don’t have sea salt on hand, start with kosher salt or table salt. After you get the hang of blending, you can try more exotic salts, such as:

  • Fleur de sel or sel gris from France
  • Black lava or red alaea salts from Hawaii
  • Pink Himalayan or kala namak salts from India
  • Smoked salt
  •  
    See our Salt Glossary for the different types of salts).
     
    Pick Your Seasonings

     
    Start with flavors you use in daily cooking: basil, chipotle, oregano, paprika, parsely, whatever. Pick as many as you like, although when starting out, limit your blends to salt plus four or five herbs/spices.
     
    You can also add ground pepper, although if you’re making enough to store, you may want to add it freshly ground. You can also add a pinch of white or brown sugar.
     
    Some basic blends to try:

  • Basic Seasoned Salt: salt plus garlic powder, onion powder and paprika
  • Lemon Pepper Salt: salt plus dried lemon peel and ground pepper
  • Rosemary Salt: salt plus garlic and rosemary
  • Celery Salt: salt plus dried celery leaves and celery Seeds (so much better than off-the-shelf celery salt!)
  • Hot & Smoky Salt: smoked sea salt plus ancho chiles and smoked paprika
  • Wild Mushroom Salt: salt plus dried chanterelles, dried porcinis, tarragon and white pepper
  •  
    Then, decide on ratios: which flavors do you want to be dominant, which flavors should be background hints.

    Start with twice as much salt as other flavors, and even less of hot flavors. You may find, after making different blends, that you’re using less salt and more herbs/spices.
     
    RECIPE: SAMPLE FLAVORED SALT BLEND

    Ingredients

  • ½ cup salt
  • ¼ cup each garlic and onion powders
  • ¼ cup ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder, chipotle, red pepper flakes, etc.
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until well-combined. Working in batches, add the blend to a spice grinder and process into a fine powder. If you don’t have a spice blender, you can try a regular blender.

    2. STORE the salt in an airtight container. Store away from heat and light (as all herbs and spices should be stored!).
     
    If you want to make other blends but already have too much of homemade seasoned salt on hand, give it as gifts!

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Ice Cream Bar Trifle

    There are only a few days left of this year’s National Ice Cream Month. Here’s something a bit off the beaten track: an ice cream trifle. Is it a form of ice cream sundae or a variation of ice cream cake? Make it and take a vote.

    Trifle is an English dessert dish made from layers of custard, diced fruit, syrup or fruit juice and cubes of sponge cake, topped with whipped cream. It was traditionally served in a footed glass bowl.

    In QVC chef David Venable’s recipe, below, ice cream bars replace the custard and chocolate-covered pretzels replace the fruit and caramel takes over for the syrup.

    Adapt the recipe as you like, for example, trading the pretzels for sliced strawberries, and exchanging the chocolate cake for pound cake or ladyfingers. Instead of caramel, we tried a version with custard sauce (crème anglaise).

    David used Klondike bars in this recipe, easy to chop because there’s no stick. We prefer Magnum ice cream bars: better quality ice cream and chocolate coating, more flavor choices.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/Klondike Bar Triffle qvc 230

    Ice cream bar trifle: Is it a jumbo ice cream
    sundae or a different approach to ice cream
    cake? Photo courtesy QVC.

     
    RECIPE: ICE CREAM BAR TRIFLE

    Ingredients

  • 3 packages frozen double-chocolate cake (10.8 ounces each) cut into 1″ pieces; we substituted fresh chocolate loaf cakes
  • 6 ice cream bars, each cut into 6 squares
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate-covered pretzels
  • 12 ounces caramel sauce
  • 16 ounces whipped cream or frozen topping
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/magnum almond icecreamBar 230

    Our favorite ice cream bar: Magnum. Photo courtesy Unilever.

     

    Preparation

    1. CUBE the cake first, then the ice cream bars. If using a fresh cake, freeze it first; it will be easier to cut. Freeze the cubes separately until ready to assemble.

    2. CRUSH the chocolate-covered pretzels gently into smaller pieces. Don’t over-crush—you want small pieces, not dust. Reserve 2 ounces to decorate the top of the trifle.

    3. PLACE 1/3 of the chocolate cake squares into a large trifle dish. Place 1/3 of the ice cream bar cubes on top, followed by 1/3 of the crushed chocolate-covered pretzels. Drizzle 1/4 of the caramel sauce over the pretzels and top with a 1/3 of the whipped cream. Repeat this order two more times, finishing with the whipped cream.

    4. ADD the rest of the caramel sauce and top with the reserved crushed chocolate-covered pretzels. Freeze immediately. David suggests that before serving, you should let the trifle sit at room temperature for 3–4 minutes so the cake can thaw slightly. We like eating frozen cake (especially in small cubes), and brought the trifle straight to the table.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Elote & Esquites, Mexican Corn Recipes

    Elote is the Mexican version of corn on the cob, a popular street food. The ear of corn is roasted or boiled in the husk, then husked and served on a stick with condiments. If the kernels are removed from the corn and served in a bowl, the dish is called esquitas. These recipes are also made at home, where corn holders often replace the stick.

    Corn on a stick has become popular in the U.S. at state fairs, and as street food in areas as disperse as Chicago and Texas.

    Elote is the word for corn in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs (the Spanish word for corn is maíz). The cooked corn is served with a range of condiments: butter, cotija cheese (and/or feta in the U.S.), chili powder, lemon or lime juice, mayonnaise, sour cream (crema in Mexico) and salt. Popular combinations include chili powder and lime juice in Mexico, butter and cheese in the U.S.

    In some areas of Mexico, the cooked kernels are cut into a bowl, topped with the same condiments and eaten with a spoon. This variation is called esquites (or ezquites) in southern and central Mexico, and troles or trolelotes in the north. (The word esquites comes from the Nahuatl word ízquitl, toasted corn.)

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/elote iwashyoudry 230

    Make elote at home. Photo courtesy IWashYouDry.com.

     
    CORN PORN

    Our colleague Hannah Kaminsky created what she calls “corn porn.”

    “The simplest elements of a meal,” says Hannah, “those unassuming side dishes that are all too often overshadowed by flashier, more expensive or more complex main dishes, serve up far more nuance than they’re given credit for. A perfect example of this is the humble ear of corn.

    “As summer marches on and those golden yellow kernels swell larger, juicier and sweeter underneath the hot sun, truly sumptuous fresh corn is a rare treat despite its ubiquity. A whole world of flavor can be found within those pale green husks, just beyond the tangled forest of corn silk, if only one knows how coax it out.

    “Finesse is the key to letting such a pared-down dish shine, accentuating the inherent flavor of is base ingredients without covering them up with a heavy-handed smattering of seasonings. Elote, served up either straight on the cob or sheared off and mixed up in the trolelotes presentation, is worth getting excited about.”

    A vegan, Hannah eschews the butter, cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream used to bind the seasonings. Instead, she created the vegan sauce recipe below and serves the corn esquitas-style, as kernels in a bowl.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/trolelotes shopcookserve 230

    Trolelotes, garnished with butter, cheese, chili powder, lime and mayonnaise. Photo courtesy ShopCookServe.com. Here’s their trolelotes recipe.

     

     
    RECIPE: ELOTE OR ESQUITAS WITH CASHEW SAUCE

    Don’t want cashew sauce? Load up on the original condiments: butter, cotija cheese (substitute feta or use both), chili powder, lemon or lime juice, mayonnaise and sour cream.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 8 ears sweet corn, husked
  • 2 tablespoons oliveoil
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 clove garlic, eoughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • Optional garnish: chili powder
  • Preparation

    1. SOAK the cashews for 3 hours and thoroughly drain them.

    2. MAKE the sauce. Place the cashews, garlic and lime juice in a food processor and pulse to combine. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula so that the nuts are fairly well broken down. Add the nutritional yeast, agave, paprika, cayenne and salt, pulsing to incorporate.

    3. DRIZZLE in the water, allowing the motor to run slowly to blend thoroughly. The sauce should still be a bit coarse in texture, and the small pieces of cashew that remain will emulate the traditional curds of cotija cheese.

    4. COOK the corn on a hot grill, or indoors on a large griddle over high heat. Depending on the size of your cooking surface, you may need to work in batches since the corn must make full contact directly with the surface. Lightly brush the corn with oil and grill the corn until lightly charred, turning as needed. This process should take approximately 10 minutes, but let the color of the corn serve as your guide. Set aside to cool.

    5. CUT the kernels off the corn cobs and place them in a large bowl. Pour the cashew sauce on top and mix thoroughly. Add the fresh cilantro, tossing to combine. Divide the corn into 6 to 8 cups or bowls and top with a sprinkle of chili powder.

      

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