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Archive for April, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: Lobster Caesar Salad

Looking for something special to serve for Mother’s Day or other occasion?

Make the ever-popular Caesar salad into an elegant first course or main dish by adding lobster.

1. You’ll need two cooked 2-pound lobsters for 4 luncheon servings or 6 first courses.

2. Slice the tail meat lengthwise to place atop the salad; the claw meat can be tossed with the romaine.

3. You can also add 2 cups of peeled, coarsely grated celery root or parsnip to the tossed romaine.

Here’s the traditional Caesar Salad recipe and the history of caesar salad.

Find more salad recipes.

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Can’t afford lobster? Go for chicken or rare-
grilled salmon. Photo © Okea | Dreamstime.

 

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FOOD UNIVERSITY: The Mother Of All Cacao

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Kakawa Cocoa Beans from Cocoa Puro.
Photo by Kent Lacin | Cocoa Puro.

With Mother’s Day little more than a week away, our friend Tom Pederson of Cocoa Puro, creator of the wonderful Kakawa Cocoa Beans, reminds us that “the mother of all cacao” came from the area of what is today the largest city in the Peruvian rainforest, Iquitos, with a population of 370,962. (Located on the Amazon River, it is also the most populous city in the world that cannot be reached by road.)

Researchers have determined that millions of years ago, one particular tree whose pods contained what we now call cacao beans is the actual mother tree responsible for all the cacao and chocolate in the world.

Cacao now grows worldwide in the “cacao belt,” 20 degrees north and south of the equator, in humid jungle lowlands. It can be found from South America to Madagascar.*

Amid the three categories of cacao beans—criollo, forastero and trinitario, a hybrid of the two—there are many thousands of clonal varieties because the trees crossbreed naturally. The pods range from elongated to squat, and yellow to yellow-green to orange to deep burgundy (see photos.)

 

If Mom is a chocolate lover, she’ll relish some Kakawa Cocoa Beans for Mother’s Day: fresh roasted whole cocoa beans enrobed in white chocolate, then milk chocolate, then dark chocolate and rolled in velvety cocoa powder.

*A comprehensive list of cacao-producing countries and cities includes Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Hawaii, Honduras, Jamaica, Java, Madagascar, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Saint Vincent and Grenadine, Samoa, Santa Lucia, São Tomé and Principe, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Windward and Leeward Islands. Not all is top quality; only 5%-10% of the world’s cacao falls into this category.

 

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FOOD UNIVERSITY: Soup’s On

Do you know a bouillon from a consommé? A chowder from a gumbo? A menudo from a mulligatawny?

Our new Soup Glossary is the latest of our 70+ food glossaries: mini-courses in learning in everything from A (antioxidant foods) through Y (yogurt—there’s no Z yet, but zucchini is in our Squash Glossary).

You’ll have fun perusing pretty pictures of soup as you learn the different types of soups and the history.

Instant ramen noodle soup was invented in Japan in 1956 (and where would the college students of America be without it?). Before then everyone in Japan enjoyed fresh ramen noodle soup with hand-cut noodles, which came from China at the turn of the 20th century.

The very word “supper” comes from “soup,” which used to be the evening meal for less affluent people (i.e., most people).

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Can you name this soup? Photo courtesy
MackenzieLtd.com. (It’s bouillabaisse.)

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TIP OF THE DAY: Pepper Jelly Uses

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This hot dog needs garlic pepper jelly!
Photo by Sarah Lewis | SXC.

If you’ve never discovered the charms of pepper jelly, don’t put it off. Supplying sweet heat from chiles (which can range from mild to hot), it’s a very versatile condiment.

While one of the most popular recipes is to serve the glistening jelly on top of a block of cream cheese or Brie with crackers, we have dozens of suggestions in our review of Aloha From Oregon pepper jellies, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

Just a few mouthwatering uses: serve pepper jelly with omelets, spread it on roast meats, add it to any salad with mayo (chicken, potato, tuna, etc.), use it as a spicy topping for cheesecake.

Read the review and you’ll learn not just about the products and uses, but where the quirky name came from.

Since April is National Garlic Month, we’ve got to call out Aloha’s Garlic Pepper Jelly and one of our favorite uses for it: on a hot dog! The garlicky jelly pairs with the garlic in the hot dog and is quite the gourmet touch—no mustard required.

Get some pepper jelly for Mom for Mother’s Day, and for any other small gift needs you have (they’re great teacher gifts).

 

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MOTHER’S DAY: Another Gift Idea

If you didn’t find what you were looking for in our five pages of Mother’s Day gifts, we’d like to highlight one that every woman should have:

A frilly, retro Flirty Apron. It:

  • Fits everyone
  • Comes in colors and patterns to suit every woman (and every kitchen)
  • Is so cute that it makes a fashion statement (we’re going to wear ours out on the street)
  • Also makes a great shower gift, bridesmaid’s gift, etc.FlirtyAprons.com even has mother-daughter aprons—and we mean for little girls, although your mom would probably love it if the two of you had matching aprons.

    Check out the selection at FlirtyAprons.com. There’s still time to send Mother’s Day gifts.

    And don’t forget to pick up a few pairs of those fetching rubber gloves: so nifty you’ll enjoy scrubbing pots and pans.

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There are lots of colors, but we like
our apron in “basic black.” Photo courtesy FlirtyAprons.com.

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