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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.

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 Amazon.com.

    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 Simply7Snacks.com and Mediterranean Snack Foods.com.

    Find more of our favorite snacks.

      

    Comments

    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.

    MAKE CARROT OIL

    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 PreserveProducts.com.

     

    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.

    Preparation

    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.

    MAKE CARROT STOCK

    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.

    Preparation

    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.

      

    Comments

    RECIPES: Pork Fajitas With Apple Salsa

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

     

    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.

    PORK FAJITAS WITH APPLE-CILANTRO SALSA

    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)
  •  
    Preparation

    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.

      

    Comments

    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 HotBreadOven.org.

     

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

    FOCACCIA TOPPINGS: MIX AND MATCH

    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.

    Beans
    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.

    Citrus
    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.

    Nori
    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.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Bánh Mì Sandwich

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

     

    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 sammies 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.

    Bread

    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!

    Pork

    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.

    Spread

    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.

    A RECIPE TAILORED TO PERFECTION

    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.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Emulsify Salad Dressing & Champagne Vinaigrette Recipe

    Chef Johnny Gnall shares a professional tip for making the best salad dressings: Emulsify them! The oil and vinegar won’t separate—at least, not for a while.

    “A velvety, fully emulsified dressing can really make a big difference when it comes to presenting a salad,” says Chef Johnny. “Its creamy texture and body cling better to the salad ingredients, making each bite that much more flavorful. Even the look is nicer: Emulsified dressings have a really lovely sheen that is nothing short of sexy.

    “But most people don’t bother to create emulsified dressings at home. Perhaps there is simply a lack of familiarity with the process; or maybe people just don’t know what they’re missing.

    “At any rate, there’s no need to whisk your arms to exhaustion when you make vinaigrettes. Simply grab the blender!”

    Here’s the easy process from Chef Johnny, including four salad dressing recipes. Two of them—Champagne Vinaigrette and Truffle Vinaigrette—are just right for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

     

    This vinaigrette was not emulsified, and
    has separated into two layers. Photo by
    Elena Thewise | IST.

     

    CHAMPAGNE VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    The biggest factor in getting a dressing or vinaigrette to emulsify (and stay that way) is some patience early in the process. It’s all about incorporating the oil and vinegar together gradually. Here’s an example, using champagne vinegar and champagne (or other sparkling wine) to make a glamorous champagne vinaigrette:

  • Start by combining 1/4 cup of champagne vinegar and 1/8 cup of champagne into a blender on medium speed.
  • Slowly drizzle the oil into the vinegar as it spins, creating as thin and consistent a stream as possible (use a measuring cup with a lip). Start with a couple of tablespoons at a time. The more oil you incorporate into your vinaigrette, the more stable it will become, and the more quickly you can incorporate the rest of the oil.
  • When everything is mixed, season with salt and pepper (while still spinning in the blender). The result should be a smooth, unified dressing with a nice, velvety mouthfeel. Without any stabilizers (chemicals like xanthan gum, which professional chefs often use), it will not stay emulsified forever; so for best results, you should wait until close to serving time to emulsify the dressing.
  • Use this recipe as a template for any vinaigrette. Substitute balsamic vinegar for the Champagne vinegar, use cider or wine vinegar with a half teaspoon of Dijon mustard, or the variations below.
     
    MORE GOURMET VINAIGRETTE RECIPES

    For more salad flourish, try these gourmet vinaigrette recipes from Chef Johnny.

  • Cherry Vinaigrette: Bring 1 cup of dried cherries to a boil in 1 cup of pomegranate juice. Steep for ten minutes, then cool. Blend cherries until smooth (use only as much juice as you need to facilitate puréeing the cherries) with 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar, then drizzle in 1-1/2 cups of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Honey Lime Vinaigrette: Add 1/4 cup lime juice and 1/8 cup honey to a blender and mix. Slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, plus chile powder or cayenne, as desired.
  • Truffle Vinaigrette: Reduce half a bottle of champagne to high viscosity (about 1/2 to 1/4 of original volume). Blend with an equal amount of champagne or white wine vinegar (altogether you should have about 2 cups of liquid in the blender). Add 1/4 cup of canned truffle peelings, then drizzle in 3 cups of “truffled” oil (1 cup of truffle oil blended with 2 cups of olive or canola oil). Season with salt, pepper and lime juice, as desired.
  •  
    THE PROPORTION OF OIL TO VINEGAR

    The traditional vinaigrette ratio is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar; the recipes above are written as such. But the important thing to keep in mind is that you are the only one who knows exactly how acidic and how viscous you want your dressing to be.

    More oil will mute flavors but add body and mouthfeel; more acidity can be helpful if the salad ingredients have stronger flavor (think chicories or heartier greens).

    Just pay attention to the dressing as you work and add ingredients in small increments at first. Once you become comfortable with the process, you’ll get the feel of exactly how much of each component you want.
     
    Find more recipes and our favorite oils and vinegars.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Healthy Onion Dip Recipe

     

    Have you planned your Super Bowl menu yet? Are you looking for healthy options?

    In the chips-and-dips department, we save on fats with Popchips potato chips and go for the more nutritious whole wheat pretzels. Both products are just as delicious as their less-healthy counterparts.

    Making a yummy fat-free or low-fat dip is easy. In this video recipe, you’ll see how to make a delectable onion dip with caramelized onions, fresh chives and nonfat yogurt.

    We have three tips to add to those in the video:

  • Use nonfat Greek yogurt—it’s thicker, creamier and closest to sour cream.
  • Caramelize the onions in heart-healthy olive oil. Here’s the separate recipe to caramelize the onions. While you’re at it, caramelize lots of onions and keep them in the fridge to add to baked potatoes, burgers, eggs, main course proteins, sandwiches and more.
  • Never use pre-ground pepper. Always freshly grind it with a pepper mill.
  •  
    MORE DIP RECIPES

    Find them in our Salsas & Dips Section. Another healthy recipe is this white bean dip, which is dairy-free and packed with bean protein, fiber and other nutrition.

    And don’t over look the Tequila Guacamole!

       

       

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Some Napa Cabbage In Your Recipes

    In the course of our New Year’s resolution to eat a low-calorie, fiber-packed salad twice a day, we’ve been scouring produce departments for variety.

    As an alternative to red cabbage, we’ve been buying napa cabbage, originally from China and a common ingredient in Chinese recipes.

    Even if you don’t like cabbage, try it: Napa cabbage has a mild, sweet flavor—a cross between cabbage, iceberg lettuce and celery (it’s sometimes called “celery cabbage”). The leaves are very crisp and are equally enjoyable raw or cooked.

    In the fridge, keep the cabbage in a different compartment from ethylene-producing fruits such as apples and bananas, which will speed up the deterioration. Otherwise, a head can last for a week or more.

     

    Whole and half heads of napa cabbage.

     

    THINGS TO MAKE WITH NAPA CABBAGE

  • Salads, with chopped cabbage as an ingredient, as the base for an Asian chicken salad, or as the main ingredient in your favorite cole slaw recipe.
  • Kim chee, “Korean cole slaw,” a spicy pickled cabbage. Combine chopped napa cabbage, a tablespoon of chili paste (sambal olek), 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, 4 sliced cloves of garlic and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir well to combine. Let the flavors mix overnight in a sealed container. The longer it sits (several days to several weeks), the more flavorful it becomes.
  • Wraps: blanched as a wrap for meat and fish (in Korea, pork and oysters are popular), dipped in a sauce made with hot pepper paste (look for Annie Chung’s Americanized version, Go-Chu-Jang, Korean Sweet & Spicy Sauce), or use another dipping sauce.
  • Stir-frys: mixed with Asian or European vegetables.
  • Soup: We love cabbage soup, a flavorful, filling and low calorie food, using a chicken, beef or tomato base.
  •  
    NAPA CABBAGE: IT’S NOT FROM NAPA VALLEY

    Napa cabbage originated in the region of Beijing, China. Both napa cabbage (Brassica rapa, subspecies pekinensis), which grows in a head, and bok choy (Brassica rapa, subspecies chinensis), which grows in leaf-topped stalks (think celery), are referred to as “Chinese cabbage.” For clarity, avoid using that term.

    Both are related to the Western cabbage, Brassica oleracea, and are part of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family, Brassicaceae, that also includes broccoli, cauliflower, horseradish, mustard, radish, rapeseed and others.

    Why is a Chinese vegetable called “napa,” which sounds like it comes from California’s Napa Valley?

    The word derives from nappa, a colloquial Japanese term that refers to the leaves of any vegetable. In Japan, what we call napa cabbage is called hakusai.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tips For Baking Cakes

    You need “technique” to bake a great cake. Photo courtesy ValerieConfections.com.

     

    Want to make a cake as good as this one? Today’s tips for successful baking come from Pat Sinclair, a food consultant and author of Baking Basics and Beyond: Learn These Simple Techniques and Bake Like a Pro, and co-author of Scandinavian Classic Baking.

    The tips apply to cookies, muffins, bread and anything else you’re baking.

  • Use The Best. Always use high quality ingredients, such as pure vanilla extract and fresh, unsalted butter. The better your ingredients, the better your results. While saving money is tempting, your time and effort deserve the most delicious outcome.
  • Read Up. Read the entire recipe before beginning. You’ll want to review it enough in advance to be sure that if you’re missing an ingredient or a utensil, you have time to get it.
  • Assemble. Assemble all of the ingredients on the counter before starting, so you are aware of anything that’s missing. This is your mise en place—you’ve heard TV cheftestants refer to it.
  •  

  • Follow. The first time you prepare it, carefully follow the directions and prepare the recipe exactly as written. You can try variations next time.
  • Measure. Measure ingredients accurately. Use dry measuring cups for solids and glass measuring cups for liquids. Baking is chemistry: Don’t “approximate” or you won’t get the proven result.
  • Don’t Switch. Always use the size pan specified in the recipe. If your pan isn’t the right size, the baking time won’t be accurate.
  • Thermometer. Use an oven thermometer and check your oven temperature for accuracy. If possible, adjust the thermostat on the oven properly.
  • Check. Take a quick peek one or two minutes before the timer goes off. Your oven may bake faster than others. And remember, carryover heat will continue to cook when removed from the oven. The larger and denser the item, the greater the amount of carryover cooking. (That’s why roasts and turkeys need to rest before carving, to allow heat to distribute from the warmer outside to the cooler middle, which allows the juices to distribute throughout the meat.)
  •  
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    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Best Granola & Muesli

    Our intrepid reviewer tasted her way through 49 granola and nine muesli brands to find the best—including gluten-free, kosher, organic and raw varieties. Wow, that’s a lot of fiber!

    The good news: Seven granolas and four mueslis were selected as “favorites.”

    In this review, you’ll discover:

  • The difference between granola and muesli
  • If granola is really “healthy”
  • A brief history (both products were invented by
    doctors at sanatoriums)
  •  
    Head for the review.

    Make your own granola at home: a video
    demonstration and recipe.

     
    Find more of our favorite cereals.

     

    Fiber-rich granola is a popular way to start
    the day. Photo by Lynn Seeden | IST.

     

      

    Comments

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