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Archive for January, 2012

SUPER BOWL & BEYOND: Lentil Chips & Hummus Chips

Hummus chips and lentil chips are each
available in three flavors. Photo by Elvira
Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


How many different ways do you enjoy hummus? As a dip, of course; but also as a bread spread, on sandwiches, on a mezze plate, as a dip, as a canapé (as filled cherry tomatoes or on crostini with ham or turkey, for example), as low-cholesterol deviled eggs (replace the mashed yolk filling with hummus) and [add your own favorite use here].

And then, there are hummus chips. While hummus chips have been around for a few years, there’s a new hummus chip in town. And it’s brought its lentil-based brother.

Simply7* bakes chickpeas into all-natural, bite sized hummus chips, and does the the same with lentils. The result: two flavorful, nutritious chip alternatives for the Super Bowl and beyond.

Each variety is made in three flavors:

  • Hummus Chips: Hummus Sea Salt, Hummus Tomato Basil, Hummus Spicy Chili Pepper
  • Lentil Chips: Lentil Sea Salt, Lentil Creamy Dill, Lentil Bruschetta

    *The name does not stand for seven ingredients, but for the seven core standards that the chips must live up to: (1) simple ingredients containing (2) no trans fat or cholesterol, (3) no artificial flavors or colors, (4) no additives or preservatives, (5) gluten-free ingredients, (6) all-natural recipes and (7) simply delicious.

    Both chickpeas and lentils have long been appreciated for their nutritional value. Chickpeas are packed with protein, fiber and other important minerals, as are lentils. Both are low in sodium and are cholesterol-free.

    If your Super Bowl crowd likes things on the healthier side—or simply likes to try new and different foods—introduce them to Simply7.

    Simply7 Hummus Chips and Lentil Chips are available nationally in select stores and on

    We also enjoyed baked lentil chips in six flavors from Mediterranean Snack Foods: Cracked Pepper, Cucumber Dill, Parmesan Garlic, Roasted Pepper, Rosemary and Sea Salt. Is this the beginning of a new chip trend?

    Learn more at and Mediterranean Snack

    Find more of our favorite snacks.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Those Carrot Peelings To Make Carrot Oil & Carrot Stock

    Says chef Johnny Gnall: “One of the most important roles a chef can play in a restaurant is that of dumpster diver. Sometimes the scraps you throw away are potential ingredients in other foods. Making use of of them, instead of throwing them into the compost pile, can mean added revenue—as well as some tasty results.

    ”A perfect example of such trash-into-treasure scraps is carrot peelings. Though most people would consider them to be inedible and useless, there are actually different things you can do with them that create nice culinary accents.”

    Here are Chef Johnny’s tips to turn carrot peelings into something special.


    Carrot oil, with its brilliant orange color, is a lovely addition to many a dish. Drizzle it to finish soups and entrée plates, use it in vinaigrettes and otherwise add a gourmet accent. Depending on the sweetness of the carrots, the oil will deliver sweetness and carrot essence that add a little je nais se quoi to any meal. You can also use it to punch up the carrot flavor in your favorite carrot recipe.


    After you peel the carrots, don’t toss the peelings! The cutting board is made from recycled products such as yogurt containers, by


    The color of your carrots and their peelings will have a large effect on the oil’s color and clarity. Look for bright orange carrots, or the red or purple varietals. They are great specimens with which to infuse your oil.


    1. Clean. Clean carrots before peeling (we scrub the skins with a vegetable brush). Take at least one packed cup of carrot peelings and plunge them into ice cold water; then remove and leave them to dry on a paper towel. One time-saving trick: Use a hair dryer to dry the peels! Thorough drying is important, as any excess water left on the peels will create beads in the oil.

    2. Sautée. Place the dry carrot peelings in a sautée pan and add at least enough grapeseed oil to cover them: a volume ratio of one cup of oil per cup of peelings. Turn the heat to low and keep an eye on it. At the beginning, you may have to play with the heat level until you get it just right: You want to see tiny bubbles form on and around the peelings, but you don’t want the oil to sizzle and pop. The goal is not to fry the peelings, but to soak them in the oil.

    3. Cook. Once you have the heat right, leave the oil and peelings to “cook” for about 15 minutes; then turn off the heat and let the peelings steep for an hour or longer. Then strain the oil into a bottle, discarding the peelings.


    Another easy and useful trick to get some magic out of carrot peelings is to make carrot stock. For this application, you will want to have a lot more peelings on hand; so unless you happen to have just made several pounds’ worth of carrot soup, collect the peelings over time in an airtight plastic bag or storage container and stash them in the freezer. Once you have at least a couple of quarts, you’re good to go.


    1. Combine. In a large stockpot, combine carrot peelings, a couple of bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, a quartered onion and a sprig of thyme. Fill the pot the rest of the way with water. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat, uncovered, to a low simmer, and allow the stock to reduce.

    2. Reduce. The more you reduce your stock, the more concentrated its flavor will be; so let at least a third of the liquid evaporate. When it’s done, strain everything out. The liquid that remains is an instant sweetener.

    3. Use. If you are making a dish that would benefit from a nice, mild sweetness in its early stages, this stock is a terrific option. It will help create a more well-rounded dish than water would in its place, and it is a vegan and vegetarian-friendly base for soups, sauces and more. The carrot flavor is not strong, but its round, soft sweetness is what you want to utilize to balance any dish.

    These two ideas are just the beginning of what’s possible when you “repurpose” what you would have thrown out. Your fruit and vegetable scraps are keeping some valuable secrets. We’ll discuss more in future tips.


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    RECIPES: Pork Fajitas With Apple Salsa

    Pork fajitas with homemade apple salsa.
    Photo and recipe courtesy U.S. Apple


    Peach salsa is one of the best-selling salsa flavors. But if you like to make your own salsa, summer peach season is a ways off. Mangoes are a delicious replacement; but how about apple salsa?

    Crisp apples provide some crunch in the salsa, and apple salsa is delicious with pork dishes and chicken dishes. Try this recipe, courtesy of the U.S. Apple Association.

    We also added julienned apple slices into the green salad we served on the side.


    Yield: 4 servings, 2 fajitas each.

    Prep & Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes (includes chilling and marinating time).


    Apple Salsa Ingredients

    Makes 2-1/2 cups.

  • 3 unpeeled apples, cored and diced (more for optional garnish)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onion, including top
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: fresh or sautéed apple slices for plate garnish
    Fajita Marinade Ingredients

    Combine in a small bowl and mix well:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 6 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 teaspoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    Pork Wrap Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin or lean pork roast
  • Fajita marinade
  • 8 flour tortillas (8-inch)

    1. Combine. Place all salsa ingredients in bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate several hours to meld flavors.

    2. Marinate. Place pork in large sealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours or more, turning occasionally.

    3. Preheat grill. Drain marinated pork, saving excess marinade. Place pork on grill and brush with leftover marinade. Grill over hot coals, turning frequently, for 8-10 minutes, until internal thermometer reads 155-160°F. Remove from heat and place on clean plate.

    4. Warm. Wrap tortillas tightly in foil and heat on upper grill rack for 10 minutes.

    5. Assemble. Cut pork diagonally across grain into thin slices. Arrange one-eighth of pork slices and 2 or 3 tablespoons salsa in center of tortilla. Fold bottom half of tortilla over filling and overlap sides on top. Arrange on serving plate. Garnish as desired.

    Serve with a side of brown rice and beans.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Different Focaccia Toppings

    Focaccia (foe-KAH-cha) is a thick Italian snack bread that is served with meals, used as a base for pizza and as sandwich bread. A basic focaccia is simple, sprinkled with salt; it can be topped with fresh herbs and ingredients as elaborate as any pizza. Popular toppings include sautéed onions and mushrooms, diced tomatoes, prosciutto and cheese—or they can be anything that appeals to the maker.

    “Focaccia is the canvas upon which you can paint,” says chef Johnny Gnall, “and your artistic freedom should know no bounds. Sure, everyone loves some herbs or cheese on their focaccia. But if you’re interested in really expanding your palate (pun intended), try looking beyond the everyday and reach a bit further into your fridge—and your imagination.”

    Check out the suggestions below as a jumping off point, then survey your own on-hand ingredient list and get to topping! Focaccia is delicious any day of the year. If you’re a Super Bowl host, your guests will love it.


    Focaccia: a canvas upon which you can paint
    your favorite flavors. Shown with heirloom
    grape tomatoes. Photo courtesy


    Start with a basic focaccia recipe and try the toppings below. Enjoy a batch as you watch the Super Bowl.


    When you’re making a batch of focaccia, you don’t have to limit yourself to one type of topping. Feel free to “mix and match.”

    Apples And Pears
    Apples and pears, in season right now, work as focaccia toppings. Slice them very thin and lay them flat on the dough, then brush heavily with olive oil so they don’t dry out. Keep an eye on the focaccia as it bakes so that you can reapply some olive oil if the fruit gets too dry. Dust lightly with cinnamon if you’d like, but stop from heading too far in the direction of focaccia apple pie.

    Take your favorite cooked beans (canned black beans always work); toss them in olive oil and a generous amount of your favorite herbs, then sprinkle them atop the focaccia. You’ve just added protein and fiber that tastes like olive oil and herbs: a home run.

    Canned Tuna And Sardines
    Italian tuna brands are typically terrific. But as long as you use a top-grade brand, tuna is an outstanding focaccia topping. Moreover, you can use the oil it’s packed in to brush on the focaccia. The same goes for sardines or any other canned seafood. Clams and squid may seem like pushing it, but Italians will tell you otherwise. Just make sure the seafood is properly cooked and seasoned; toss it with roasted garlic to add more flavor and add some grated lemon zest.

    No orange segments on your focaccia; instead, think of different ways to prepare citrus that would work well on soft bread with a hint of olive oil. Almost any citrus zest has a place, especially with a hearty green like kale or chard. Julienned pieces of preserved lemon rind are delicious, their intense flavor and saltiness softened with some crumbled goat cheese. For even greater wow factor, top your focaccia generously with rosemary and paper-thin slices of grilled lemon or blood orange.

    Custom Sauces
    Create your own sauces for focaccia. An easy one is sour cream mixed with mustard and seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s a great way to add moisture to the focaccia and it goes well with most any vegetable. Another option: Mix roasted garlic with olive oil or a bit of chicken stock to make a spreadable paste. If you’re stuck for ideas, grab an armful of jars out of the fridge and just start mixing!

    Dried Fruit
    Chop dried apricots and dried cherries, toss them in olive oil and sprinkle them over the focaccia, followed by a very light dusting of cinnamon. The key here is knowing that less is more; too much fruit or cinnamon will taste like a failed attempt at dessert. With just a bit of both, you still get a light olive oil flavor from the bread. It also works as breakfast focaccia.

    Seaweed on pizza? Paired with the right ingredients, it works: Nori has umami, which pretty much makes anything better. Try a focaccia with anchovy filets, thin strips of nori, sesame seeds, chile flakes and sea salt. You won’t find focaccia in Tokyo; but if you did, this is probably what it would be like.

    Pickled Peppers
    Be they jalapeños, banana peppers, pepperoncini or other favorite, pickled peppers can bring a lot to an otherwise one-dimensional focaccia. They add brightness and acidity, both of which balance richer toppings. For a killer tag team, try focaccia with pickled peppers and shredded bacon or turkey bacon.

    Pine Nuts
    Not many nuts work on focaccia, but pine nuts—an Italian favorite—do. They get incredibly buttery when roasted and they also go well with fresh herbs. If you put basil, pine nuts and a little Parmesan cheese on focaccia, you basically have a deconstructed pesto. Add some grated lemon zest for a final flourish.

    Seasonal Vegetables
    Try butternut or your favorite squash: Peel it, cut it into a very small dice, coat generously with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle it onto the focaccia along with your favorite herbs (rosemary works great) and bake. Hearty winter greens (kale, chard, spinach and even Brussels sprouts leaves) are also ideal focaccia toppings; their edges get crispy in the oven and add a pleasant dimension of texture.

    Check out the different types of bread in our Bread Glossary.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Bánh Mì Sandwich

    Bánh-mi, a Vietnamese submarine sandwich
    on a baguette. Photo © Ppy2010ha |


    A Brief History Of Bánh Mì Sandwiches

    When Europeans colonized Asia, they brought Western bread to the table. In French Indochina, Vietnam, that emblem of French cuisine, the baguette, was introduced; as were sandwiches.

    Baguette-based sandwiches were called bánh mì (pronounced bon MEE), a Vietnamese word that refers to all types of bread. For sandwiches, it is made in individual portions, like hero sandwich rolls. The recipe is more airy than the conventional baguette, with a thinner crust. It actually uses a combination of rice and wheat flours, cutting back on the gluten.

    In recent years, bánh mì have made their way west, to the U.S. From hole-in-the-wall bánh mì sandwich shops to trendy lunch bistros to Whole Foods Markets, these fresh, tasty sandwiches have become the rage in neighborhoods lucky enough to have them.

    More often than not, pork is the meat of choice. But the defining characteristics of these sandwiches are their abundance of pickled vegetables and fresh herbs.

    Chef Johnny Gnall shares the basics of making bánh mì—just in time to serve them as Super Bowl fare.



    Some cooks hold that the bread is the most important part of this sandwich, so go out of your way to find the right type. If you don’t live near a Vietnamese bakery or grocer, look for semolina flour rolls, which give you more room for fillings than a classic baguette. The roll should be crisp on the outside (if not, then juices from the ingredients will make it soggy) and very soft on the inside.

    Vietnamese bakeries create a roll that is more crust than center (as opposed to American breads that tend to be the opposite). So if you have a roll with an excess of soft white inside, tear some out: You want as much room for your fillings as possible!


    Braised is the name of the game here: a slow braised pork shoulder works great, cooked to the point that you can pull it apart. The seasoning is up to you, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping it simple: salt, pepper, maybe a few chiles. Once the pork is mouthwateringly tender, pull it apart so that you can build layers easily. Let it drain for a few minutes to remove wetness that will create a mushy sandwich.

    Pickled Vegetables

    Here’s an easy recipe to pickle vegetables. As for choice of vegetables, you can’t go wrong with carrots and cucumbers. You can julienne both or, for contrast, thinly slice the cucumber in circles. Radishes are also a great addition; and pickled onions make almost anything better.

    Fresh Cilantro

    You really won’t find a bánh mì sandwich without cilantro. Its leafy, flavorful goodness helps to round out the other flavors in the sandwich and makes it taste just right. But if you are not a cilantro fan, follow your own path by substituting other fresh herbs. Basil, mint or parsley will do the trick.


    Every sandwich needs a spread. Chef Johnny’s favorite for bánh mì is sambal– (chile paste) or sriracha– (hot sauce) flavored aïoli (garlic mayonnaise).

    Just whisk together aïoli (store bought mayo works fine, whether or not you add garlic) and your preferred amount of the spicy paste or sauce. If spicy isn’t your thing, try honey, a little soy sauce, even some teriyaki sauce. Just mix in small amounts at a time: You want flavor, but you don’t want a teriyaki sandwich.


    Once you’ve perfected the basic bánh mì sandwich, feel free to make it a bánh you, personalizing your culinary creation to suit your needs.

    Gluten-free? Turn the bánh mì into a wrap with a corn tortilla or rice paper. Watching the cholesterol? Substitute chicken or fish for the pork and use a lowfat spread.

    You can even leave the meat out altogether and just up the amount of veggies and toppings. It may not be traditional, but it’s tasty.

    Now start building: bread, spread, pork/other protein, veggies, herbs, spread. Enjoy!

    Check out all the types of sandwiches in our delicious Sandwich Glossary.

    Here’s a recipe from McCormick.


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