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Archive for October, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: More Uses For Squash

Now that we’re into winter squash season, expand your use of squash beyond a dinner vegetable. Squash can be sauteed, steamed, oven roasted, grilled, mashed, puréed and made into soup.

But don’t overlook savory or sweet squash soufflé and squash pie (pumpkin is a squash, but you can make pies with butternut squash and other varieties). Add squash to stews and casseroles. Season it with your favorite spices (we like nutmeg and cinnamon) and fresh herbs. Make squash fries (like sweet potato fries).

Acorn and butternut squash are delicious vegetables that also can be puréed into a dip or hors d’oeuvre.

SQUASH DIP RECIPE
1. Bake or steam a 2-pound squash.
2. Place the flesh in a food processor with 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon orange rind and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Blend on high for one minute or until smooth.
3. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.

Autumn Comfort Mac & Cheese incorporates
butternut squash, pancetta, cavatappi and a
variety of cheeses. Photo courtesy Tillamook Cheese.

4. Spoon or pipe into vegetable chips (Terra Chips are excellent), potato chips or mushroom caps; or serve with crudités.

Try these squash recipes, too:

Dessert Recipes

 

Check out our Squash Glossary, THE NIBBLE’s most popular article.

 

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Cacao Cuvée Chocolate Truffles

Excellent chocolate truffles from Cacao
Cuvée. Photo by Katharine Pollak |
THE NIBBLE.

Most chocolate lovers can’t resist chocolate truffles, balls of ganache (chocolate mixed with heavy cream) that melt in your mouth.

Many chocolate truffles are pure chocolate-on-chocolate—ganache enrobed in cocoa or a hard chocolate shell. That’s fine for some people, but we need more excitement. Chocolatier Susan Pitkin has provided it.

She makes more than 20 flavors of truffles, from Coconut, Espresso and Lemon to newer flavors like Chili Pepper, Matcha, Saké and Sesame. And yes, there are classic Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate; and Peanut Butter truffles for Reese’s fans.

Many companies make truffles. The difference here is the quality of ingredients that makes the best ganache and a deft hand in flavoring it. We often find chocolate truffles boring, but we couldn’t stop eating these.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Learn About Fair Trade

October is Fair Trade Month. If you don’t know about Fair Trade, it’s important enough to devote a minute to read this.

Small family farmers in developing-world countries grow much of the world’s cacao, coffee, tea, fruits and vegetables, cotton, flowers, ingredients for beauty products—more than 3,000 products in all.

The vast majority of family farmers must take whatever brokers or other buyers offer for their crops, which can be less than market price and less than what it costs the farmer to grow them. Conventional trade practices traditionally discriminate against these poorest farmers.

Fair Trade policies address these injustices. Fair Trade establishes practices that provide these farmers with fair terms of trade: fair prices—so they can make a small profit and send their children to school—decent working conditions and local sustainability.

Fair Trade Certified, the logo of Transfair,
is one of the global Fair Trade certifying organizations.

Manufactured products that sport a Fair Trade logo participate in these fair practices, enabling poor farmers to improve their financial position and send their children to school (instead of needing them as farm laborers). There are several global Fair Trade certifying organizations, the logos of which ensure that standards have been met, including Fair Trade Federation, Fairtrade Foundation, Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO), Transfair and The World Fair Trade Organization.

When you’re making a choice at the retail shelf and see a Fair Trade logo, think of the good that you’ll do by purchasing that brand.

 

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COOKING VIDEO: Turkey Salad With Celery Root & Apple Recipe

 

It finally feels like fall: our local farmers market is full of our favorite Honeycrisp apples.

For a dynamic duo of flavor and crunch, pair crunchy apples with crunchy celery root, also known as celeriac (and céleri in French).

Celery root, a relative of celery, is a root vegetable. Leafy stalks somewhat like celery grow above the ground, but the part that is eaten grows beneath, looking like a large, bulbous, misshapen turnip. (Use the stalks, which are hollow, as straws in Bloody Marys; they’ll add a bit of celery flavor.)

Like celery, celery root is very low in starch.

  • Enjoy it raw in green salads and fruit salads, cut into matchsticks.
  • Celery root can also be roasted, alone or in a melange of root vegetables. They can also be boiled and mashed—a delightful alternative to mashed potatoes.
  • Added it to soups and stews, or make hot or chilled celery root soup.
  • Make one of our favorite appetizers, Céleri Rémoulade (here’s a recipe).

    In this week’s cooking video, Amy Topel of The Green Guide combines apples and celery root in a salad with turkey and a Dijon-yogurt dressing. Use this as an opportunity to try a new vegetable.

  • Find out more in our exotic vegetable glossary.
  • For more salad and veggie recipes, visit our Gourmet Vegetables Section. Check out Spicy Spinach & Grapefruit Salad and Scallop and Bacon Salad.
  • For more recipes and how-tos, visit our Cooking Videos Section.

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    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Browniepops

    There’s a delicious brownie underneath the
    ghosts and pumpkins. Photo
    courtesy Browniepops.

    Want to do something special this Halloween? Serve these memorable and delicious Browniepops: ghosts, goblins and other “seasonal buddies.”

    This week, Browniepops—a NIBBLE Top Pick of the Week (read the review)—is giving three lucky readers six of their Halloween brownies-on-a-stick.

    The concept behind Browniepops is, like many big ideas, quite simple: Take a scoop of brownie, coat it in hard chocolate and add festive decoration.

    Then put it on a stick—because food on a stick is always that much more special—and you’ve created something that will have children and adults out-maneuvering each other to get to them.

    We won’t blame you if you refuse to share!

    • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gourmet Halloween Candy page and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. Retail Value Of Prize: Approximately $35.00. This contest closes on Monday, October 25th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
    • For more information about Browniepops, visit Browniepops.com.

     

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Jazz Up The Crudités With Red Celery

    Savvy party-givers always provide some low-calorie snacks. A platter or basket of crudités (croo-dih-TAY, French for raw vegetables) attracts dieters, vegetarians, the generally health-conscious and those who are reminded that they should be eating more veggies.

    While there’s nothing wrong with the standard repertoire of baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks and broccoli florets, you can dazzle by trading up to specialty produce:

    EAT THE RAINBOW

    Look in farmers markets and specialty produce stores for maroon and yellow carrots; green, purple and yellow cauliflower; baby broccoli (a cross between broccoli and Chinese broccoli); baby heirloom tomatoes (the size of grape tomatoes in colors from yellow to purple); yellow and white beets; watermelon radishes; radicchio di Treviso (which looks like red romaine); baby summer squash; and oyster mushrooms.

    And look in your supermarket for Red Celery, a brand-new, all-natural variety of celery developed from heirloom seeds by Duda Farm Fresh Foods, the world’s largest grower of celery. It’s available year-round. Learn more at DudaFresh.com.

     

    Available in supermarkets from coast
    to coast. Photo courtesy DudaFresh.com.

     
    Find more specialty vegetables and recipes in our Gourmet Vegetables Section.

      

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    HALLOWEEN: Pumpkin Jam & Cheese

    Lightly-sweetened jams make delicious
    cheese garnishes. Photo courtesy
    Artisanal Cheese.

    What do your foodie friends want for Halloween?

    Portuguese pumpkin jam is a delicate, autumn-spiced cheese condiment. It’s a colorful addition to any cheese platter and pairs especially well with aged sheep’s milk cheeses.

    Artisanal Cheese sells an artisanally-produced pumpkin jam, made in small batches using a generations-old family recipe. The jars are $9.00 each at ArtisanalCheese.com.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bread Bags That Keep Bread Fresh

    You’ve just purchased or baked a delicious artisan bread, but have only eaten part of it. How do you preserve the rest?

    One option is to wrap it and stick it in the freezer. But bread easily picks up freezer odors; and even half a loaf takes up a decent amount of room.

    To the rescue: Bread Armor artisan bread bags that are reusable and recyclable. These FDA approved, high-performance storage bags keep your artisan loaves fresh longer. They’re sized to fit baguettes and other French breads, ciabatta, rustic loaves and more.

    In addition to preserving leftover bread for a week or more, it also keeps your fresh bread from drying between the time you purchase it in the morning or afternoon, until dinnertime.

    Bread Armor keeps bread fresh for a week
    or more. Photo courtesy Bread Armor.

    The company claims that Bread Armor keeps a loaf fresh for more than two weeks. We tried it for one week. At the end of seven days, our loaf was still soft and edible. An optional quick zap in the microwave made it just like fresh-baked.

    You can order the bags at BreadArmor.com. They’re $2.99 each, with discounts for quantities.

    While plastic bread bags may seem an unexciting house gift or stocking stuffer, anyone who receives a set will be grateful to you.

     

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    PRODUCT: Do You Need Four Prunes A Day?

    Sunsweet Ones make it easy to tote
    healthy, individually wrapped prunes. Photo
    courtesy Sunsweet.

     

    Today is Four Prunes Day. It may sound like a funny name for a food celebration. But four prunes are the minimum of what people who want more “digestive regularity” should take per day (up to a maximum of 9 prunes a day).

    We love prunes and prune juice. But many Americans steer clear of them, perhaps because of their association with regularity, which goes back to before great-grandmother’s day. A campaign several years back tried to change the name of prunes to “dried plums” (which is what prunes are) to make them more appealing.

    But as anyone who has ever made a pork or chicken roast with stuffed prunes knows, the dried fruits are delicious on their own. One of our favorite hors d’oeuvre is prunes stuffed with chicken liver mousse (you can marinate the prunes in Cognac overnight before stuffing).

    The 21st-century view of healthy prunes should be as a high-antioxidant* fruit full of fiber†, potassium‡ and magnesium. A clinical study currently underway indicates that prunes may have the ability to reduce bone loss in post-menopausal women and may help fight osteoporosis.

    While dried fruits such as prunes are easy to tote around for a healthy snack, Sunsweet Growers has made it even easier with Sunsweet Ones, which are individually wrapped. Four prunes have approximately 100 calories.

    Some say that prunes are a good remedy for a sore throat. With cold season approaching, we’ll have to try that!

  • Find more of our favorite snacks in our Snacks Section.
  • Visit our Fruits & Nuts Section for more healthy treats.
  •  

    *Its high betacarotene content can help prevent cancer and help slow aging of the brain and body.
    †Prunes are a good source of whole fruit fiber, and this may help keep hunger pangs at bay.
    ‡Studies suggest that potassium may help prevent hypertension and stroke. It may also play a role in helping support cell energy by regulating fluid balance, nerve impulses and muscle contraction to increase energy. Source: Sunsweet.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Halloween Cocktail Party

    You won’t need a fork to enjoy this pumpkin pie—it’s a cocktail.

    Developed by Haru Sushi as an October special, it shows that “Halloween spirits” can be delicious.

    If you can’t get to your nearest Haru Sushi, make the recipe at home.

    PUMPKIN PIE COCKTAIL RECIPE

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 3 tablespoons Absolut Pear Vodka
  • 2 tablespoons fresh pumpkin purée
  • 2 teaspoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1.5 teaspoons simple syrup
  • Dash of bitters
  • Sprinkle of nutmeg and/or cinnamon
    (preferably fresh-ground)
  •  
    Preparation

     

    For Halloween and Thanksgiving: a great pumpkin cocktail. Photo courtesy Haru Restaurant.

    1. Pour all contents except nutmeg/cinnamon in a shaker over ice. Shake thoroughly.

    2. Pour into a rocks glass or martini glass, straight up.

    3. Garnish with nutmeg/cinnamon.
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    We were inspired by the Pumpkin Pie Cocktail—and THE NIBBLE’s supply of other Halloween cocktail recipes—to invite friends to a Halloween cocktail party. You’ve got plenty of time to plan a party: Go for it! You can assemble a memorable Halloween cocktail menu from the recipes below.

  • Bloody Eyeball Martini
  • Halloween Brandy Cocktails
  • Halloween Gin Cocktails
  • Halloween Kahlúa Cocktails
  • Halloween Vodka Cocktails
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