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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.

TIP OF THE DAY: Shishito Chile (Or Pepper Or Chile Pepper)

/home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/shisito spoonforkbacon 230

Before cooking, bright green. Photo
courtesy SpoonForkBacon.com.

 

The shishito pepper is a relative newcomer to American cuisine. Finger-shaped, slender and sweet (not hot), it is growing in popularity as a snack, blistered on the stove top or grill.

The shishito is named after its shape: The tip of the chili pepper was seen to resemble the head of a lion (shishi) and the word for chile is togarashi. Combine the words into shishitogarashi, which is often shortened to shishito (pronounced she-SHE-toe).

Bred in Japan, this East Asian variety of the New World Capsicum annuum, like many chiles, is harvested when green. It would turn red if left to ripen on the vine (that’s the difference between green and red jalapeños).

While shishitos are mild, every so often a hot one will surprise you. We found one estimate that heat can occur in one out of every ten chiles, the anomaly attributed by one botanist to “stress on the vine.” Think of eating shishitos as a fun game, “Shishito Roulette.” The winners gets an extra beer!

The shishito is very similar to the Spanish padrón chile, in both looks and flavor. So if you can find the latter but not the former, use the information below and cook away.

 
Where to find them? We found ours at Trader Joe’s, and have also seen them at farmers markets. If you garden, you can grow your own.

HOW TO SERVE SHISHITO PEPPERS

If you can make roasted or charred vegetables of any kind, you can cook shishito peppers.

  • Poke a tiny hole in each chile so they don’t burst from the build-up of hot air inside, or skewer them for grilling. We used a cake tester to poke a hole in the bottom cleft of each chile, although it won’t be visible after cooking so you can poke it anywhere.
  • Sauté the chiles in oil in a hot pan on the stove top, under the broiler, or on a grill. We used canola oil with a splash of dark sesame oil (it’s a strong flavor and you’ll want just a hint).
  • Turn the chiles frequently until they are blistered all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Because the walls of the shishito are thin, they cook quickly. When cooked, toss with a bit of salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • You can also roast them in an oven or toaster oven.
  • To eat, pick up a chile by its stem (but you won’t want to eat the stem). If you want to be elegant, use chopsticks or a fork.
  • Enjoy while hot; as they cool, the chiles lose their crispness.
  • If you want to add some spice, the ideal one is Japanese 7 Spice, shichimi togarashi. It’s a blend of black and/or white sesame seeds, dried nori seaweed, hot red pepper, ginger, orange peel and other ingredients such as hemp seed, poppyseed and white pepper. You can blend your own or buy it.
  •  

    WAYS TO SERVE SHISHITO PEPPERS

  • Appetizers and sides. Shishitos are popular in Japanese cuisine as appetizers, like edamame.
  • Deep-fried. If you like fried food, deep-fry them and serve with a wedge of lemon. (Go ahead, bring out the ketchup, too.)
  • Tempura. Serve as a tempura snack or as part of a tempura entrée.
  • With a beer. A match made in heaven.
  • With a yogurt dip. Blend 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot sauce.
  • Sandwiches. Add a cooked shishito between the bread of a grilled cheese sandwich or pannini.
  • Breakfast. Slice and add the cooked chiles to an omelet or scrambled eggs, a good use for leftovers that are no longer crisp.
  • Salad. Ditto.
  • Side. Serve in medley with other roasted vegetables.
  •  

    shishito-peppers-nutmegnanny-230

    Cooked: delightful! Photo courtesy Nutmeg Granny, who sautés her shishitos in coconut oil. Here’s her recipe.

     
    IS IT “CHILE” OR “PEPPER?”

    Chiles were “discovered” in the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus, who called them “peppers” (pimientos, in Spanish) because of their fiery similarity to the black peppercorns with which he was familiar.

    However, there is no relationship between the two plants (or between chiles and Szechuan pepper, for that matter).

    “Pepper” is wrong, but in the U.S., it seems to have taken over. Some people use “chile pepper,” a bit of a correction.

    The term “pepper” is not used in Latin America. There, the word is chili, from chilli, the word in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs.

    But, we’d rather hear the partially incorrect “chile pepper” than the totally incorrect wrong “pepper.”

    Here’s more on the history of chiles.

    Is It Chile, Chili or Chilli?

    The original Nahuatl (Aztec) word is chilli. The conquering Spanish spelled it chile.

    In the U.K., chilli is the popular spelling. In the U.S., many people use chili, a seeming middle ground between chilli and chile.

    The choice is yours. We choose “chile” because it’s the spelling by which Europeans were introduced to the chilli.

    How many types of chiles have you had? Check them out in our Chile Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Peach & Chicken Salad

    Chicken Salad Grilled Peaches

    Inspired feasting: grilled chicken salad with
    grilled peaches. Photo courtesy Good
    Eggs.

     

    There are so many ways to approach an entrée salad. This suggestion, from our favorite artisan grocer, Good Eggs of San Francisco, combines grilled proteins with grilled fruit. (They can be oven-roasted instead.)

    Good Eggs also suggests that instead of an all-green salad, you add whole grains for fiber, texture and flavor.

    Grilled or roasted, the season’s peaches add a wallop of sweet juiciness to a salad. If the peaches in your store aren’t great, you can substitute apricots, mangoes, pluots or nectarines (all are stone fruits like peaches; see details below).

    We happened to have some beautiful red rice from Lundberg on hand, and used it in our first version of this recipe (a hit!).

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD WITH PEACHES &
    WHOLE GRAINS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 peaches, ripe but still firm
  • 1 cup whole grains (see list below)
  • 2 cups mixed greens (we include 1/3 cup spicy greens like
    arugula and watercress, or radishes)
  • Optional: 3-4 tablespoons basil, cilantro and/or parsley,
    chopped
  • For The Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac or za’atar, or a combination of lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes (more about sumac and za’atar)
  • Optional: minced herbs (some of what you use in the salad)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    For Serving

  • Crusty bread
  • Olive oil for dipping, seasoned per taste*
  •  
    *Use infused olive oil (basil, garlic, rosemary, etc.) or season your own with dried herbs and spices.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the yogurt dressing. Blend the ingredients and refrigerate to let the flavors meld. You can make this a day in advance. If the dressing is too thick at room temperature, thin it a tablespoon at a time with milk or plain kefir.

    2. GRILL the chicken breasts and sliced peaches, or roast them at 400°F, for 20 minutes. You can grill the bread at the same time. When cool enough to work with, shred or julienne the chicken.

    3. COOK the grains to al dente; you don’t want mushy grains with your crisp greens. While the grains are cooking, wash and pat dry the greens.

    4. TOSS and plate the chicken, cooked grains, salad greens and herbs. Garnish with the peaches. Pass the yogurt dressing.
     
    LIST OF WHOLE GRAINS

    Whole grains that are common in the U.S. include barley, buckwheat, bulghur, corn, oats, quinoa, rice (only colored rice, e.g. black, brown, red), rye, wild rice and whole wheat.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/red quinoa spoon pour 230

    Read this if you need to be convinced of the benefits of whole grains. Photo of red quinoa courtesy Village Harvest.

     
    Whole grains that are less commonly used in the U.S. include amaranth, einkorn, farro/emmer wheat, freekeh, Kamut® Khorasan wheat, kañiwa (a cousin of quinoa), millet, sorghum, teff and triticale.

    Learn more about these grains at WholeGrainsCouncil.org.
     
     
    WHAT ARE STONE FRUITS?

    Stone fruits exist in two different botanical families. The temperate climate-based Rosales order, Rosaceae family, includes what we think of as European stone fruits plus almonds, pecans and walnuts. The tropical/subtropical-based order Sapindales, family Sapindaceae, includes familiar fruits, nuts and spices such as cashew, lychee, mango, mastic, pistachio and sumac.

    Stone fruits from the Rosaceae family are members of the Prunus genus, and include apricots, cherries, nectarines, olives, peaches, plums, and cherries and cross-breeds such as apriums, plumcots and pluots.

    A stone fruit, also called a drupe, is a fruit with a large, hard stone (pit) inside a fleshy fruit. The stone is often thought of as the the seed, but the seed is actually inside the stone.

    In fact, almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts are examples of the seeds inside the stones. They’re also drupes, but a type in which we eat the seed inside the pit instead of the surrounding fruit.

    Not all drupes are stone fruits. The coconut is also a drupe, as are bramble fruits such as blackberries and raspberries. June through September is prime stone fruit season in the U.S.

    Enough botany for you?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Tortilla Bowls (Fill With Grilled Chicken Salad!)

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/chicken salad in tortilla ingridhoffmannFB 230

    Make your own tortilla baskets. They’re
    tastier than the commercial variety
    served at many Tex-Mex restaurants.
    Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.

     

    For many years of our youth, one of our favorite restaurant lunches was Mexican-style chicken salad in a tortilla bowl. As our palate evolved, we realized that a lot of those tortilla bowls (a.k.a. tostada bowls) didn’t taste that great. The best restaurants made their own, but others used pre-made commercial bowls, greasy and bland. So we moved on to Cobb Salad.

    Later, we discovered that you can make tortilla bowls at home, and that baking rather than frying cut out the grease. Mexican Chicken Salad was reborn!

    Here’s Mexican chef Ingrid Hoffmann’s recipe. You can customize it as you like: with corn kernels or Inca corn, with raw onion, with spicy salad (arugula, watercress, radishes), with pickled jalapeños or pepperoncini, with your favorite cheese, olives, whatever!

    First: Save four empty 15-ounce cans. You’ll use them to shape the tortilla bowls. This recipe will give you one empty can, from the pinto beans.

    RECIPE: CHICKEN SALAD IN TORTILLA BASKET

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 deboned chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon of delicious marinade
  • Canola oil spray
  •  
    For The Adobo Seasoning

    If you already have a commercial adobo seasoning, use it. If not, Chef Ingrid’s recipe is so much fresher; and you can use up the remainder on other meats and poultry, eggs, rice, soups, etc.

  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder or flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon achiote powder or substitute*
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  •  
    *If you don’t want to purchase achiote powder, substitute equal amounts of turmeric and sweet paprika. It won’t have the same tartness of achiote powder, but it’s a decent hack.

     

    For The Salad

  • 4 10-inch tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 chiles in adobo† (canned), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 cups of mesclun, baby spinach or other salad greens
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) of queso blanco, cotija or feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Garnish: lime wedges
  •  
    †Remove the seeds to cut down on the heat, if desired.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/tortillas hotbreadkitchen.org ps 230

    Tortilla chips were originally made as a way to use broken or misshapen tortillas. Here’s the history of tortilla chips. Photo of artisan tortillas courtesy Hot Bread Kitchen.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the adobo seasoning. Combine the ingredients in a small glass jar with an airtight lid and shake to blend. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

    2. SEASON the chicken breasts with adobo seasoning. Coat a ribbed grill pan with the oil spray (or vegetable oil) and heat over medium heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 3-6 minutes on each side, until slightly golden (test for doneness—170° on a meat thermometer). Set aside to cool, then slice into strips ½ inch wide.

    3. MAKE the tortilla baskets. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a small dish of water on your work surface. Place 4 empty (15-ounce) cans, open side down, on a baking pan. Using a pastry brush, soften the tortillas by brushing both sides with a little water, and then brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Drape the tortillas over the cans and bake until firm, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn the tortilla bowls right side up, discard the cans, and continue to bake until golden and crisp, another 4 minutes.

    4. PREPARE the beans. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, chipotles with adobo sauce, and 1/2 cup water, cooking until slightly thick, (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Mix in the beans and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

    5. PLACE the tortilla bowls right side up on plates and fill each with a handful of greens. Divide the bean mixture among the tortilla bowls and top with a sprinkle of queso blanco or cotija. Fan the sliced chicken on top and garnish with chopped cilantro. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve with lime wedges.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blueberry Smoothie With Almond Milk

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blueberry almond milk ingridhoffmannFB 230

    A smoothie with our favorite fruits plus almond milk. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.

     

    Having just published an article on why we love almond milk, we hasten to follow it up with an easy recipe.

    Your nutritionist would approve of this smoothie, from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann. She adds flaxseed meal for extra nutrition and enjoys it for breakfast. We enjoyed ours for mid-morning and mid- afternoon snacks.

    If you don’t have all the ingredients, just use what you have in proportion. Powdered ginger isn’t celestial like fresh ginger, but it will do.

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY BANANA MANGO SMOOTHIE

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 banana, quartered and frozen
  • ½ cup frozen mango cubes
  • ½ cup blueberries, plus more for garnish
  • 1 cup nonfat plain kefir (drinkable yogurt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 fresh mint sprigs for garnish
  • Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients except the mint in a blender and purée until smooth. Pour immediately into chilled tall glasses.

    2. GARNISH with a few berries and mint sprigs before serving.
     
     
    Find more delicious recipes at IngridHoffmann.com.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Rich, Creamy Almond Milk

    Some people never touch a glass of milk, but we love it. We can drink two eight-ounce glasses a day. That’s in addition to cereal milk, yogurt and other milk-based products.

    Our brother is the same. So we were surprised recently when he asked if we’d like a few quarts of almond milk; he had purchased too much.

    Why? A physician had suggested that he cut back on cholesterol. He found that he preferred the rich, creamy taste of almond milk to fat-free cow’s milk (plant-based foods are cholesterol free). He also likened the flavored varieties—Chocolate, Coconut, Vanilla—to milkshakes without the calories.

    Almond milk can be used in just about any recipe calling for cow’s milk: in baking, hot and cold beverages, sauces and soups. The only significant limitation is in recipes that require cow’s milk starches to thicken, such as custard, pudding and yogurt. You need to add other thickening agents.

    Another benefit: You need never run out of milk. Brands like Almond Breeze have shelf stable versions. Just store extra cartons in the pantry. Like Parmalat brand cow’s milk, no refrigeration is required until the container is opened.

    TRENDS: WHAT’S HAPPENING TO MILK IN AMERICA

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/almond milk juicequeen 230

    Almond milk is our favorite of the nondairy milk alternatives. Photo courtesy Juice Queen.

     
    For decades, cow’s milk consumption per capita has been on the decline, as newer generations—even pre-teens—drink coffee and soft drinks instead of a glass of milk. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consumption across all age groups dropped 25% in the 37 years between 1975 and 2012.

    Since 1999, according to market research firm Euromonitor, plant-based alternatives, called non-dairy milks, have grown in annual sales by an average of 10.9%. They are now a $1 billion-plus category in domestic retail sales.

    The trend is based on personal factors, largely allergies, kosher and vegan diets, lactose intolerance and sustainable lifestyles*.
     
    *Cow manure and flatulence produces huge amounts of methane, a major greenhouse gas. Here’s more information.
     
    NON-DAIRY MILKS

    Twenty years ago, the option for non-dairy milk at supermarkets was soy milk. Then rice milk arrived. Today, the list is threefold larger:

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Oat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  •  
    Which one you choose should depend on two factors: taste preference and nutritional components. For example, if you want the milk to supplement your protein intake, look at the nutrition label. Some have more protein and other nutrients, some add nutrients equal to fortified cow’s milk (cow’s milk usually has added vitamin D; reduced fat varieties have added vitamin A). Some may contain additives you don’t want, from lecithin to sugar.

    As the disclaimer goes, speak with your healthcare professional before making any changes.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/Califia Chocolate and Vanilla 2301

    The problem with flavored almond milk: It tastes so much like a shake, you can drink buckets of it. The good news: These 10.5- ounce portions have only 30 calories and 6 grams of protein. Photo courtesy Califia Farms.

       
    HOW THE MILK ALTERNATIVES COMPARE

    Almond milk doesn’t have the protein of cow’s milk, but it is lower in calories and some brands add calcium and vitamins during processing. The key benefit for us is the mild taste. You probably wouldn’t even notice if someone replaced almond milk for cow’s milk in your coffee. A close second to soy in terms of sales, almond milk is the non-dairy milk with the largest annual sales increases.

    Coconut milk (the drinkable milk in a carton, not to be confused with the canned coconut milk for cooking and cocktails) has a noticeable amount of coconut flavor. If coconut is one of your favorite flavors and you want to taste it every time you use milk, then this is your milk alternative. While coconut milk is low in calcium and protein, on the good side it is also low in calories.

    Hemp milk is a product that people either love or hate. Personally, we don’t like the earthy flavor in a milk product. Like rice milk, it is an option for people who have nut and soy allergies.

    Rice milk can be gritty and watery. It is also higher in calories, carbs and sugar, lower in calcium and a poor source of protein. It is best for people who have nut and soy allergies.

     
    Soy milk is tasty when flavored, but in its plain form, we don’t like the beany aftertaste. Perhaps that’s why Starbucks eschews plain soy milk in flavor of sweetened vanilla soy milk as its only non-dairy alternative. Soy milk has the most protein of the non-dairy milks; but on the down side, processed soy isoflavones can affect hormones, raising the risk for breast cancer; they can also depress thyroid function. Unless it’s organic, soy milk is likely made with GMO soybeans. Soy is the highest milk alternative in sales, but that’s because it’s been around for so long and anyone who has drunk it for years has no incentive to change. But almond milk is closing in!

    Other non-dairy milks are on the shelves, and no doubt more will follow.

    Cashew milk is beloved by our vegan expert Hannah Kaminsky, who drinks and cooks only with non-dairy milks. We should have tried it by now, but are too enthralled by almond milk.

    We tried oat milk once, and didn’t care for it. Ditto with flax milk. Be your own judge.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Eton Mess, A School Tradition

    In recognition of back-to-school recipes, we offer the Eton Mess.

    Eton Mess is a traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, pieces of meringue and whipped cream. It is traditionally served at Eton College’s annual cricket game against rival Harrow School (both are among the most prestigious secondary schools in the U.K.), and on any other day that one wants to eat it.

    The recipe has been known by this name since the 19th century. Variations include bananas instead of strawberries and a scoop of ice cream, which actually preceded the addition of the meringues.

    Why is it called a “mess?” According to Merriam-Webster, the word may refer to the appearance of the dish or may be used in the older sense of a prepared dish of soft food.

    The recipe version below was sent to us by Safest Choice pasteurized eggs—the eggs to use when the recipe requires eggs that aren’t cooked, like Caesar salad, eggnog, mousse and steak tartare. (You can also pasteurize eggs at home.)

       

    chocolate-covered-strawberry-eton-mess-safeeggs-230

    A mess indeed, but a delicious mess! Photo courtesy SharedAppetite.com.

     
    The recipe was developed by Chris of SharedAppetite.com, who added his own touch: a garnish of a chocolate-covered strawberry in addition to the diced strawberries in the Mess. Active time is 20 minutes, total time is 1 hour. You can save time buy buying the meringues, if you can get your hands on good quality ones. Since they will be smashed, you can substitute Pavlovas (individual meringue dessert cups).

    RECIPE: ETON MESS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Chocolate Chip Meringues

  • 4 egg whites, ideally pasteurized
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dark chocolate or mini chocolate chips
  •  
    For The Chocolate Covered strawberries

  • 2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped dark chocolate
  • Garnish: 8 chocolate covered strawberries (instructions below)
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/crushed meringues eton mess sharedappetitecom 230

    Crushed meringues give the dish texture. Photo courtesy SharedAppetite.com.

     

    For The Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 275°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy and soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat, adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until all the sugar has been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. The meringue is done when the peaks are stiff, hold their shape, and no grit is felt from the sugar. Gently fold in the chopped chocolate.

    2. LINE two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Drop the meringues by the spoonful (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the meringue easily peels away from the parchment paper. Cool completely on a wire rack. Meringues can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for several days.

     

    3. MAKE the chocolate-covered strawberries. Melt the chocolate in a microwave; dip the whole strawberries and set on wax paper or parchment to dry.

    4. COMBINE the diced strawberries, sugar and vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl. Let sit for approximately 15-30 minutes to macerate.

    5. MAKE the whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. To avoid splashing, start on a lower speed and increase the speed as the whipped cream begins to take shape. Beat to the desired stiffness. If you won’t be using it right away, cover and place in the refrigerator. It will keep for several hours, and might need a quick whip with a whisk to regain its shape.

    6. BREAK 8-12 meringues by hand: A good variety of big and small pieces creates good texture in the dessert.

    7. LAYER approximately 1/2 cup whipped cream in 8 dessert bowls. Top with a few spoonfuls of macerated strawberries, and a generous sprinkling of dark chocolate and crushed meringues. Top with a chocolate covered strawberry and serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gyros At Home

    September 1st is National Gyro Day, and the first thing you need to know is that gyro is pronounced YEE-ro, not JY-ro.

    A gyro is a Greek lamb sandwich on pita bread, roasted on a vertical spit and served with tomato, onion, and tzatziki, a yogurt-cucumber sauce (recipe). Other condiments and sauces can be added or substituted.

    Eating food off of pita bread or wrapping food in pita is an Ancient Greek tradition; the pita served as an edible plate. The tradition continues today—although you’ll also get a piece of foil or kitchen parchment to hold the pita from a street vendor, and a plate in a restaurant.

    Most people eat gyros made by food vendors, but for National Pita Day, try making your own at home. The recipe below is adapted by one from Maria Benardis, award-winning author, chef and founder of Greekalicious, Sydney, Australia’s first exclusively Greek cooking school.

    Traditionally, the deboned leg of lamb is grilled on on a rotating vertical spit (see photo below), and shaved off the leg in thin slices. In fact, the Turkish name for the same sandwich, döner kebab, literally means “rotating roast.”

    But for Maria’s recipe you don’t need a spit: Roasting the lamb is just as delicious.
     
    DO YOU NEED LAMB FOR A GYRO?

    Of course not! Cuisine evolves constantly, and each cook can put his or her spin on a recipe. If you don’t like lamb, or don’t want to roast a whole leg, you can use any of the following:

  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken or pork
  • Lamb sausage or other sausage variety
  • Grilled portobello mushrooms
  • Grilled fish fillet
  •  
    PLUS

  • Traditional condiments: lettuce, onion, tomato, tzatziki
  • Cilantro or parsley
  • Feta cheese
  • Black olives (pitted), pickles, pepperoncini
  • Shredded red cabbage or yogurt-based slaw
  • Tahini sauce (recipe)
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/lamb sausage gyro kevineats 230

    Gyros can contain any protein other than lamb lamb. Here, lamb sausage is the protein (any sausage works). Photo courtesy Kevin Eats.

     

    RECIPE: FETA-CRUSTED LAMB GYROS WITH HERBED YOGURT SAUCE

    This recipe is more layered than your typical gyro. A salty feta crust forms on the lamb with some heat from the red chili flakes. Instead of the standard tzatziki yogurt-cucumber-garlic-dill sauce, Maria makes a herbed yogurt sauce which eliminates the cucumber but adds basil, mint and parsley. (It’s also a delicious dip.)

    Maria also adds the baby potatoes to the gyro, but we prefer to serve them on the side. You can replace them with an all-American side of fries.
     
    Ingredient For 8 Servings

  • 8 pocketless whole wheat pita breads
  • 2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby arugula, washed and patted dry
  •  
    For The Lamb

  • 2-pound leg of lamb, de-boned
  • Salt and freshly-cracked pepper
  • Extra olive oil for drizzling
  • 16 bite size potatoes
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/giro stand Eaeeae Wiki 230

    A traditional lamb gyro is made from lamb roasted on a vertical spit. Photo by Eaeeae | Wikimedia.

     

    For The Feta Mixture

  • 6 ounces Greek feta, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions or shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  •  
    For The Herbed Yogurt Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup dill fronds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 355°F (180°C). Place the lamb and potatoes in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

    2. PLACE all ingredients for the feta mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth and thick. Coat the lamb well with the feta mixture. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of the lamb and the potatoes. Add enough water to the baking dish to just cover the base.

    3. COVER the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 300°F (150°C). Bake for at 2 to 2-1/2 hours until the lamb is cooked through: 155°-160° on a meat thermometer for medium, 160° for well done. Because ovens vary, it is important to use a meat thermometer! Uncover and cook for a further 30-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.

    4. COMBINE the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a food processor and blend until all the herbs are chopped and the sauce is smooth and thick. Place in a bowl and refrigerate. When the lamb is ready…

    5. SLICE the lamb thinly. Warm the pita; if you like, you can lightly brush each side with olive oil and place the bread on a hot grill or in a grill pan for warming and grill marks.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place some yogurt sauce in the center of the pita, arugula and slices of tomato and onion. Top with some lamb and some more yogurt sauce. Serve flat, with an optional side of roasted potatoes.

     
    Find more of Maria’s delicious recipes at Greekalicious.com.au.

      

    Comments

    NEWS: Italian Food Remains #1 With Americans

    Nation’s Restaurant News (NRA) reports something that may not even be news: Italian food remains America’s favorite “ethnic” restaurant cuisine. No other cuisine comes close, although Mexican and Chinese round out the “big three.”

    Sixty-one percent of the 1,000 people surveyed said they eat Italian food at restaurants at least once a month. By comparison, Mexican cuisine was eaten at least once a month by 50%, and Chinese cuisine by 36%.

    We couldn’t find an official survey of the most popular Italian dishes, but one informal survey we found nominated the following as the Top 10 favorite Italian restaurant entrées in the U.S. (excluding pizza, the majority of which is consumed at pizzerias* rather than conventional Italian restaurants):

    1. Chicken Parmigiana
    2. Fettuccine Alfredo
    3. Lasagna
    4. Linguine With Clam Sauce
    5. Veal Marsala
    6. Chicken Saltimbocca
    7. Pasta Primavera
    8. Shrimp Fra Diavolo
    9. Penne Alla Vodka
    10. Spaghetti Marinara (with tomato sauce)

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/chicken parmsesan cookingclassy 230

    Chicken Parmesan, the American spelling
    of Parmigiano. Here’s the recipe. Photo
    courtesy CookingClassy.com.

     
    Our own Top 10 list would be different, but we wouldn’t turn any of these down! And we’d add our own Top 10 Italian Desserts list: cannoli, panna cotta, zabaglione, tiramisu, berries with mascarpone, riccota cheesecake, biscotti, gelato/semifreddo/spumoni/tortoni, sorbetto/granita and bomboloni.

    The NRA defines “ethnic” cuisine broadly as any cuisine originating in a different country or within a specific region of the United States. We prefer the term “international cuisine” (it’s hard to think of French and Italian food as “ethnic”), but that doesn’t always work. American cuisnes—think Cajun and Creole—are ethnic but not international, as are California, Hawaiian, New England, Southern and Southwestern cuisines, among others.

    Choose the term you like better and read the full article at NRN.com.

     
    *Pizzerias serve other more casual fare as well, including calzones, stromboli and submarine sandwiches.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Stovetop Elote

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

    Elote, Spanish corn on the cob. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    Elote is the Mexican version of corn on the cob, a popular street food. It is often grilled, then served on a stick with lime wedge, ancho chili powder and crumbled queso fresco.

    Elote is the Aztec (Nahuatl) word for what the corn on the cob. It is pronounced ee-LOW-tee. Removed from the cob, the recipe has a different name, esquites, from the Nahuatl word for toasted corn, ízquitl.

    This hack from Good Eggs in San Francisco eliminates the need for a grill. Just use a gas range to turn ears of fresh corn into this Mexican street treat.

    Here’s more about elote, including an off-the-cob elote salad.
     
    RECIPE: STOVE TOP ELOTE

    Ingredients

  • Ears of fresh corn, husked
  • Butter
  • Ancho chili powder (substitute regular chili powder)
  • Crumbled queso fresco (substitute cotija, feta or grated Parmesan)
  • Lime wedges (substitute lemon)
  • Optional: skewers (because corn is heavy, you need thick skewers; you can also use conventional cob holders or these disposable cob holders)
  • Preparation

    1. USE tongs to hold the ears of corn directly over the stove top flame, turning to to blister the kernels.

    2. REMOVE from the heat, slather with butter, roll in crumbled queso fresco and finish with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of ancho chile powder.
     
    ELOTE CONDIMENTS

    In Mexico people serve the classics: ancho chili powder, lime, queso blanco. But in the U.S., some people substitute mayonnaise or sour cream (crema) for the butter.

    Pepper or seasoned salt are also options (lemon pepper is popular in Texas, per Wikipedia). Other options: cilantro, fresh parsley, oregano.

    Or for a true American take, how about crumbled bacon?

     
      

    Comments

    TIP: The Right Beer Glass Makes A Big Difference

    We’re one of the many people who likes to drink beer straight from the bottle. We believed, as with sparkling wine, that the narrower the opening, the more the carbonation stays in. A cold bottle from the fridge keeps the beer colder than a room-temperature glass. And, we don’t particularly care for a foamy head.

    But according to Spiegelau, a manufacturer of fine glassware in Bavaria, Germany, we have it all wrong. You only get about 15% of the flavor of the beer when you drink it from the bottle.

    That’s because smell, not palate, is the major component of taste (and explains why you can lose your taste when you have a badly congested nose and can’t smell). You get zero aroma through the narrow neck of the beer bottle, covered by your mouth as you take each sip.

    When you pour beer into a glass, the head* releases the bubbles (carbon dioxide) that burst into aroma.

    On top of that, different types of beer benefit from different shaped glasses, engineered to bring out the special attributes of the beer (Riedel, the parent company of Spieglau, was the pioneer in developing different wine glass types).

       

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    Engineered to bring out the best in American craft beers: from left, IPA, wheat beer and stout glasses. Photo courtesy Spiegelau USA.

     

    Different regions have long made different glass shapes for their beers. Think beyond the German stein to the British pint glass; the tall, tapered Pilsner† glass; the stemmed snifter for Belgian ales and IPAs; the tankard for ales, lagers, stouts and porters; and others. See the different types of beer glasses in the chart below.

     
    *The head is produced by bubbles of carbon dioxide gas that rise to the surface. The carbon dioxide is produced during fermentation.
    †Pilsner is the English spelling of Pilsener, the German spelling. The name derives from the town of Pilsen, a city in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic, where the style was originally brewed in October 1842—a new, clear, pale golden beer created from new malts, Pilsen’s remarkably soft water, Saaz noble hops and Bavarian-style lagering. It was a sensation. The Czech spelling of the town is Plzen.

     
    CRAFT BEER GLASSES FOR SPECIFIC STYLES OF BEER

    Spiegelau has developed a Craft Beer Glass Collection, with custom-designed glasses for the three most popular American craft beer styles: IPA, Stout and Wheat Beer. Each glass is designed, according to the company, to highlight “the complexity of aromas on the nose while demonstrating the optimum beer texture, balance and flavor intensity on the palate.”

    Riedel has done this for wine glasses with great success (you won’t believe how much better the wine tastes in a specially engineered wine glass than on a generic one). Now, they’ve done the same for beer.

    An expert panel of master brewers tested multiple glass shapes before finding the optimum shape for each beer type. Here’s what resulted:

  • The IPA glass was engineered to “showcase the complex and alluring aromatic profiles of American ‘hop-forward’ IPA beers, preserve a frothy head, enhance taste and mouth feel, and present a comfortably wide opening for the drinker to savory each beer.”
  • The Stout glass is designed to “accentuate the roasted malt, rich coffee and chocolate notes that define the Stout beer style.”
  • The Wheat Beer glass (wheat beer is one of the world’s most popular styles‚, has a large, voluminous bowl to harness the delicate aromas. The mouth opening was designed to spread the beer across the palate to “enhance mouth feel and harmony of sweetness and acidity.” The “open bottom glass base drives beer and aromatic foam upward into the main bowl after every sip.”
  •  
    And you thought a glass was just a glass!

    Custom-shape beer glasses isn’t hype: It’s precision engineering and it works. Buy yourself a set and test it against what you’re currently using. We had great results with the Spiegelau glasses.

    Beer glasses are a great gift for beer connoisseurs, and other companies have gotten the custom-shape message.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/three types of beer in pilsner glasses wisegeek 230

    Wrong! These are traditional Pilsner glasses, specifically designed to bring out the best qualities in a Pilsener beer. That means that they won’t enhance the flavors of stout (left) and amber ale (center). But wait: The Lenox Pilsner glasses are totally different—a stemmed tulip glass! Photo courtesy WiseGeek.com.

     

    MORE BEER STYLE-SPECIFIC GLASSES

    Lenox has a new line of beer glasses in four styles: IPA, Pint With Crown, Stemmed Pilsner and Wheat Beer. And surprise: The shapes are totally different from conventional designs—as well as from the Spiegelau designs.

    The Pilsner is a stemmed tulip, like the traditional Belgian Ale glass. The IPA and Wheat Beer glasses are tall and narrow with a tapered waist, like the conventional Pilsner glass. The Pint With Crown is a sleeker version of the pub pint glass.

    Here’s what they say about their shapes:

  • The Stemmed Pilsner’s tulip shape “traps the rich aromas and helps maintain a frothy head. The thin flared rim places the beer evenly on the palate, elevating the overall taste experience.” Lenox also recommends the shape for stouts and dark beers.
  • The India Pale Ale glass, tall and slender, “is a perfect complement for IPAs and lighter ales. The contoured shape preserves a frothy head, while maximizing aroma and enhancing taste.”
  • The Wheat Beer glass has a large mouth and a narrow body, “making it the ideal vessel for wheat beers and most pale or blonde beers. By tipping the glass back, the aromas that characterize these brews are pushed to the nose, thus allowing the drinker to enjoy the beer’s full flavor.”
  •  

  • The Pint With Crown is the English-style pub glass that serves an official imperial pint, approximately 20 ounces. “Ideally sized for generous pours of pale ales and lagers, this pint’s curved lip cultivates foamy heads.
  •  
    Frankly, we bet on the precision of the Spiegelau glasses. We’ve tasted with them, and they work! There are no better glassware engineers on earth than Riedel, the parent company of Spiegelau.

    We haven’t tried Lenox or other contenders, and you can’t be sure without trying. So we’ll keep testing, and will keep you posted.
     
    CAN’T WAIT TO TRY THE GLASSES?

  • Lenox Tuscany Beer Glass Collection, set of four styles, $32.12
  • Spiegelau Tasting Glasses, set of four styles, $34.99 (includes the glasses described above plus a lager glass)
  •  
    If you don’t care about precision engineering but like the idea of different glass shapes for different beers, try:

  • Libbey, set of six styles, $19.99 (these glasses are traditional styles, not made with modern engineering to optimize the flavors and aromas)
  •  

    TRADITIONAL BEER GLASSES
     
    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/beer glasses dailyinfographic.eu original copy

    See the original chart at DailyInfographics.eu.

      

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