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Archive for August, 2011

COOKING VIDEO: Make A Black Bean Salsa Dip


Why spend money on small jars of “specialty” bean dip when it’s so easy to make your own? You can use black beans (also known as common beans and turtle beans, among other names) or white beans (use cannellini, Great Northern or marrow bean varieties).

The cooking video below demonstrates a chunky black bean salsa dip: a combination of beans, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice and zest. (The word “dip” is extraneous, except when necessary to explain to non-Mexicans what to do with it.)

Personally, we skip the last step in the video recipe, which adds the juice, zest and segments of an orange. It’s a “fusion” addition: The orange originated in Southeast Asia* and although available in modern Mexico, isn’t part of traditional Mexican cuisine. Instead, add a cup of cooked or raw corn kernels (corn is indigenous to Mexico).

How To Use Black Bean Salsa/Dip

In addition to a dip for chips, it’s a delicious salsa (the word means sauce) for broiled or grilled fish, burgers, chicken, over rice and in a salad with greens and/or vegetables. (Beans are legumes, not vegetables.)

For an even better flavor, plan a day ahead and start with dry beans: They need to soak overnight and cook for up to 90 minutes, until soft and ready to purée.

Want a white bean dip? Try this recipe. This spreadable, puréed dip is delicious on bruschetta and sandwiches as well as for dipping chips.

Beans are a guilt-free food. Among the most inexpensive and nutritious foods available, beans are a great source of protein that can substitute for meat. They are typically low in [beneficial] fat and are cholesterol free, while delivering folate, iron, magnesium and potassium and fiber.

  • Check out our Bean Glossary for the many different types of beans.
  • All about bean nutrition.
  • Make a vegetarian sandwich with white bean dip, using our recipe for a hummus sandwich.

*For those who point out that the lime also originated in Southern Asia: OK, but it’s been a flavor in Mexican cooking for hundreds of years.



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TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Hummus Sandwich

On whole wheat bread or whole wheat
pita, a hummus sandwich is delicious and
better for you. Photo by Night And Day
Images | IST.


Looking for a healthier sandwich? Try a hummus sandwich. It has nutrition* galore, no cholesterol (unless you add cheese or turkey), lots of fiber and the versatility to pair with other ingredients for a different hummus sandwich every day of the month.

So enjoy a simple hummus and cucumber sandwich in pita, or become a creative sandwich artist with this list of sandwich ideas:

Choose Your Hummus

There are so many different flavors of hummus that you can choose from dozens, including artichoke, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño, olive, pesto, red pepper and sundried tomato.

Choose Your Bread

Go for a good-for-you bread: whole wheat bread/roll/pita or other whole grain bread (look for the ingredients: corn, flaxseed, hemp, oats, rye, spelt (farro) or whole wheat).


Add Some Of These 20+ Items To Your Hummus Sandwich

  • Almond slices, chopped pecans or other favorite nut
  • Apple or pear matchsticks
  • Avocado slices
  • Cheese: crumbled feta cheese, a slice of Jarlsberg or other Swiss cheese, shaved goat or sheep cheese
  • Dried fruit: blueberries, cherries, cranberries or chopped dried apricots
  • Cucumber slices
  • Grilled veggies (bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, zucchini)
  • Edamame
  • Herbs: chopped fresh basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, parsley, tarragon, thyme
  • Heat: chopped or pickled jalapeños or other chile, chipotle, fresh-ground peppercorns
  • Microgreens
  • Pickled vegetable slices (we like pickled carrots; see this easy recipe for any pickled vegetables or herbs, like pickled garlic)
  • Roasted red peppers (pimiento) from jars
  • Shredded carrots or red cabbage
  • Sliced or chopped olives
  • Spices (caraway seed, cumin, toasted sesame seeds, za’atar)
  • Sprouts
  • Sweet onion, diced
  • Tomato slices or chopped dried tomatoes
  • Turkey or ham slices
  • Other fresh veggies: lettuce, mixed leaf lettuces, sliced bell pepper, spinach leaves

    What else would you add to this list?

    Let us know, and enjoy your sandwich!

    *Hummus is loaded with vitamins and minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc; vitamins B6, C, E, folate, K and thiamin [B1]), plus 20 essential amino acids. It is low glycemic. The add-ons are also rich in nutrition. The calories in hummus: 27 per tablespoon, according to


    In Arabic, hummus means “chickpea,” the principal ingredient of hummus. Falafel means “fluffy.”


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Lemon Wheel Vs. Lemon Wedge

    A reader writes: “When I order a beverage, sometimes it comes with a wedge of lime or lemon, sometimes a wheel (a circular slice). Is there a substantive difference or is it just an individual choice?”

    The difference is style over substance.

    Whether your beverage is a soft drink, juice, water, tea/iced tea or a cocktail, a garnish adds a nice touch.

  • Wheel. As an attractive garnish, the elegant wheel has it all over the clunky wedge. With a slit cut from the rind to the center, a wheel perches on the glass without falling off, even as you consume the drink.
  • Wedge. As a source of juice to squirt into the drink for flavor (in club soda, for example), the wedge provides more juice and a neater way to squeeze it. (You can twist a wheel, but you’ll need to touch the juice sacs with your fingers instead of holding on to the rind of a wedge.)

    A bit of citrus enhances water, juice, soda, iced tea and other beverages. Photo by Chris Johnson | SXC.


    Some bartenders do the work for you by squeezing the juice and then adding the squeezed wedge to the drink. Others notch the wedge from the fruit edge to the rind, and affix it to the rim of the glass for you to squeeze.

    Here’s Option 3

    If you don’t need the citrus flavor, garnish with a slice of cucumber, which goes with just about any drink. It’s elegant in appearance and is a crunchy edible bonus.

    Orange wheels, berries, melon and fruit slices are other options. Look at contrasting colors, such as the attractive green of a kiwi wheel.

    And don’t overlook one of our favorite tips:

    Fill your water pitcher with any combination of sliced fruits and berries. You’ll get an absolutely delicious infused water that’s calorie-free.


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    FOOD HOLIDAY & RECIPE: Sweet And Sour Mix Recipe For A Whiskey Sour

    [1] You can make a whiskey sour with or without egg whites, for a foamy top (photo © Lognetic | Fotolia).

    Whiskey Sour With Egg White Foam
    [2] With egg whites, the foamy drink is called a Boston Sour (photo © Lognetic | Fotolia).

    Classic Whiskey Sour
    [3] The classic Whiskey Sour garnish is half an orange wheel and a maraschino cherry (photo courtesy Fillmore Room | NYC).


    Today is Whiskey Sour Day. What’s a Whiskey Sour?

    Sweet and sour mix, also known as sour mix or bar mix, is an ingredient in many cocktails—and not just those called “sour,” such as Apricot Sour, Bourbon Sour, Brandy Sour, Southern Comfort Sour, Whiskey Sour and Vodka Sour.

    Sour mix is found in numerous other cocktail recipes that require sweetness (sugar) and tartness (lemon or lime juice). Long Island Iced Tea, Margarita, Mai Tai, Texas Tea and Singapore Sling are examples.

    Ready-to-use sour mixes are available in supermarkets and are used in many bars.

    We think it’s far better to make your own sour mix. There’s nothing better than fresh-squeezed citrus juice. If your Margarita (or other sweetened cocktail) tastes better in certain establishments, it’s probably not because of better tequila, but due to the use of fresh lime juice instead of a mix.


    Mixes use bottled, reconstituted juice (concentrate and water) or citrus oil from the peel (a very different flavor profile from the juice). Real Lemon brand reconstituted bottled lemon juice is made from lemon juice concentrate, water, lemon oil and the preservatives sodium benzoate, sodium metabisulfite and sodium sulfite.

    The prominent Mr. and Mrs. T brand of sweet and sour mix uses bottled lime juice, bottled lemon juice, corn syrup, sugar and artificial coloring. Thanks, but no thanks.

    There’s no substitute for fresh citrus juice in any recipe—unless the goal of substituting is to cut down on the cost of ingredients, and by extension, deliver a finished product that doesn’t taste anywhere as good.

    If you aren’t keen on juicing, consider an electric juicer, which makes juicing a snap (and fun, too). Take a look at this Oster juicer, moderately priced with a small footprint.

    While an electric juicer will get every last drop of juice from the citrus, here are techniques that anyone can use to get the most juice.

    So, start juicing and then kick back with a well-deserved Whiskey Sour.

    Making sour mix is just one step tacked on to a simple syrup recipe: It’s half simple syrup and half lemon and/or lime juice.

    1. MAKE simple syrup by combining 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly as the water begins to simmer, until completely dissolved. Remove from heat.

    2. ADD 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice and 1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice. You may also wish to try batches with only lemon juice or only lime juice, to see if you prefer either to the blend.

    3. BLEND thoroughly, pour into a clean bottle or other container (we reuse the bottles from grapefruit juice), cap and refrigerate. It will last for weeks. If you have too much, you can also freeze it.

    4. ASSEMBLE the cocktail: Shake 1-1/2 ounces whiskey (Bourbon, Canadian, Jack Daniels, Irish whiskey or Scotch) with three ounces sour mix. Pour over ice cubes or crushed ice into your choice of a rocks or a collins glass.

    5. GARNISH with a maraschino cherry (these are the best!) or a fresh cherry in season; or go 21st-century and sprinkle with dried cherries.
    How Many Lemons & Limes Do You Need?

    It depends on the size of the fruit. There are 16 tablespoons in a cup.

  • A medium lime yields 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons of juice; 1 cup requires 8 to 10 limes.
  • A medium lemon yields 2 tablespoons of juice; a large lemon can deliver up to 4 tablespoons.

    Sours are one of the old families of original mixed drinks described in Jerry Thomas’ seminal 1862 book, The Bartender’s Guide. A 1962 a Spanish-language article cited a prior article in the Peruvian newspaper, El Comercio de Iquique, giving credit to Elliott Stubb for creating the Whisky Sour in 1872—10 years after Thomas’ book [source].

    One might deduce that many other bartenders who purchased The Bartender’s Guide created whiskey sours. But this was pre-Information Age, so history is wiggly, at best.

    The oldest English printed mention of a Whiskey Sour was in the Waukesha [Wisconsin] Plain Dealer in 1870 [source].

    Sours are mixed drinks containing a base liquor, lemon or lime juice (the “sour”), and a sweetener (grenadine, simple syrup, sugar, pineapple juice, triple sec). Some of the varieties:

  • A Whiskey Sour uses bourbon, lemon juice and sugar, shaken and served straight up or over ice. The traditional garnish is half an orange wheel and a maraschino cherry.
  • A Scotch Sour trades the bourbon for scotch.
  • A Boston Sour adds a dash of egg white.
  • A Brandy Sour, mentioned by Jerry Thomas in 1887, combines brandy, curaçao, sugar and lemon juice, shaken and strained into a wine glass.
  • A Gin Sour substitutes gin for whiskey. Adding carbonated water turns it into a Gin Fizz.
  • A Midori Sour: Honeydew melon liquor, grenadine, lemon juice. While generally a bright green, it can be poured into layers resembling a green Tequila Sunrise (recipe).
  • A Pisco Sour, the national drink of Peru, pisco (an un-aged grape brandy, key lime or lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white, and bitters (recipe).
  • A Santa Cruz Sour (Jerry Thomas, 1887): Santa Cruz rum, sugar, lemon juice, shaken and strained into a wine glass.
  • A Ward 8 uses bourbon or rye whiskey, both lemon and orange juices, and grenadine syrup instead of sugar.
    More sours by other names include the Caipirinha, Daiquiri, Margarita and Sidecar. The White Lady (also known as a Chelsea Sidecar) is a sidecar made with gin in place of brandy, different from a gin sour by switching triple sec for sugar.

    You can invent your own sour and name it after yourself. Just use the template of spirit, citrus juice and sweetener, with optional liqueur, bitters and garnishes.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Lamb Burgers Instead Of Hamburgers

    Make your Labor Day cookout different this year: Serve lamb burgers instead of hamburgers. (O.K., serve them in addition to hamburgers).

    If you love lamb and don’t eat it often enough, you can get as much enjoyment from a lamb burger as from pricier lamb chops and legs of lamb. The same wonderful lamb flavor comes through in ground lamb.

    A lamb burger is delicious plain with lettuce, tomato and onions, just like a regular burger.

    But lamb burgers can be accessorized in a variety of ways. Try these favorites:

  • Greek-style, mixed with chopped Kalamata olives, crumbled feta, oregano, fresh dill and a touch of mint.
  • Indian-style, with curry powder, turmeric and ginger, plus optional onions, raisins and almonds.

    A luscious lamb burger from Built Burger, a NIBBLE Top Pick.


  • Asian-style, with scallions, a drop of sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, served with hoisin sauce and pickled ginger on the side instead of pickles and ketchup.
  • And of course, add salt and pepper to taste.

    We can’t wait for Labor Day: We’re heading to Whole Foods Market to pick up some ground lamb for a lamb burger lunch.

    Tips for making great burgers.


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