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Archive for August, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Whip Up A Simple Gazpacho Recipe


Ajoblanco, white gazpacho. Photo courtesy
Foods From Spain.


Before summer ends, make gazpacho: high in taste and vegetable quota, low in calories. Get the ripest tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and other favorite vegetables such as green onions and red peppers; toss them into the blender or food processor with fresh herbs and vinegar to taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. You can even leave out the olive oil.

The recipe doesn’t matter: In Spain, home of gazpacho, there are as many recipe variations of the chilled soup as you can count.

Don’t like tomatoes or bell peppers? Make white gazpacho. Here’s a recipe from chef John Fraser at Dovetail, a top New York City restaurant, that doesn’t rely on summer produce and can be made year-round. It’s not the lowest calorie gazpacho, but you can substitute fat-free yogurt Greek yogurt.



  • ¼ cup whites of leeks, sliced thin and washed
  • 3 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 10 green grapes, washed
  • ¼ cup blanched almond slivers
  • 1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 cups cucumbers
  • ½ cup English cucumbers, peeled and juiced
  • ½ tablespoon sour cream
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more as needed
  • Garnishes

  • Fresh dill, slivered almonds, julienned leek tops.
  • Droplets of a dark green oil (certain olive oils, avocado oil or homemade parsley oil, a blend fresh dill or parsley with a bit of olive oil.

    1. Sauté leeks in a medium-size pan over medium-low heat until translucent and tender. Chill in the fridge.

    2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender; purée until smooth.

    3. Season with salt to taste.

    4. Pass through a fine mesh sieve or chinois. Plate, garnish and serve cold.

    Yield: 6 portions.


  • COCKTAIL: Serve in a cocktail glass with a stick of celery, like a Bloody Mary.
  • VODKA: Add a tablespoon of vodka (or gin or Tequila) for Bloody Mary gazpacho.
  • SEAFOOD: Add cooked shrimp, a large sea scallop/several bay scallops or some crabmeat to make for a seafood soup.
  • PASTA SALAD:Toss over cold pasta.
  • COCKTAIL SHOT: Turn extra gazpacho into a full-blown cocktail shot, called a gazpachito (recipe).

  • Avocado gazpacho recipe.
  • Melon gazpacho recipe.

    Even a small amount of soup can add another portion of veggies to your daily intake.

    How many fruit and vegetable servings do you need each day? The government’s prior “five a day” recommendation has been modified based on age, gender and physical activity.

    Use this fruit and vegetable calculator from the Centers For Disease Control to calculate your personal requirements.
    Find more of our favorite soup recipes.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Head To The Farmers Market

    What’s up, Doc? Beautiful produce at the farmers market, in non-conventional colors.

    Look for burgundy, maroon, white and yellow carrots. Orange and yellow beets. Purple “green” beans and bell peppers. Green, orange and purple cauliflower. Heirloom tomatoes in burgundy, green, yellow and stripes.

    Some of the unusual hues are the original colors—carrots, for example, were originally white. Others are natural mutations or have been specially bred.

    No matter how they arrived, these beautiful veggies deserve a place on your table. Before summer fades into fall, gather ye produce while ye may.


    Try something different, such as maroon carrots. Photo courtesy


    When you get your treasures home, consider how to enjoy them. We especially like an “heirloom” crudité plate, enjoying the color as well as the flavor of these summer treasures.

    With some vegetables, cooking fades the color. If you have your heart set on purple cauliflower soup, for example, steam a small piece in the microwave to see how the color responds.



    COOKING VIDEO: Bobby Flay’s Grilled Peach Cobbler


    Before the lush summer peaches disappear, make a grilled peach cobbler outside on the grill. You don’t have to turn on an oven and heat up the kitchen. And, it’s delicious!

    Chef Bobby Flay demonstrates how easy it is, in this video:



    Find more of our favorite pie, cobbler and dessert recipes.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Healthier Cupcakes

    Reduce calories and add nutrition: cupcakes
    with nonfat cream cheese frosting and sliced
    almonds. Photo courtesy La Tourangelle.


    Cupcakes are everywhere: cute, tempting, but no pillar of nutrition and healthful eating. Yet, by making a few substitutions, they can be just as much fun.

    To assuage the guilt, consider adding some healthier touches to your cupcakes:

  • Whole wheat pastry flour instead of refined all-purpose flour or cake flour.
  • Dried fruit (cherries, raisins) instead of chocolate chips or other refined sugar inclusions.
  • Nut garnish, fresh berries or dried fruit garnish instead of sprinkles, chips, maraschino cherries and other sugary choices.
  • Unsweetened applesauce for butter.
  • Carrot cake instead of conventional vanilla cake (use the fat-free cream cheese frosting recipe below).
    You can find numerous healthy cupcake recipes online. But the best place to start is to substitute the frosting—many recipes are just too cloying—with an option that has less sugar and less saturated fat.


    You can do this by substituting evaporated milk for butter and fat-free cream cheese and Greek yogurt for regular cream cheese frosting. And use less frosting: As attractive as those swirly mounds look piled high atop a cupcake, a flatter 3/8″ to 1/2″ of frosting topped by a healthful garnish is just as appealing.



  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or substitute whole wheat flour), sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. Whisk evaporated milk, flour and salt in a small saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 2 to 5 minutes, until mixture resembles a thick paste.

    2. Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for 30 seconds. Add chocolate and whisk until completely blended.

    3. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Beat until smooth with an electric mixer.

    4. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 hours or longer. The recipe can be made up to three days in advance.


  • 6 ounces nonfat (or reduced-fat) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt or nonfat/reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup packed confectioners’ sugar, sifted

    1. Beat cream cheese, yogurt/sour cream and confectioners’ sugar with electric beaters until smooth.

    2. Refrigerate 2 hours or longer to harden. Can be made up to three days in advance.

    Find more of our favorite cupcake recipes.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Nut Oils For Cooking

    We discovered wonderfully flavorful nut oils as a college student taking culinary trips to France. Our first experience was a mesclun and goat cheese salad with a walnut oil vinaigrette. The flavor was a revelation that inspired us to tote back numerous bottles of walnut oil, not knowing if we’d find it in the U.S.

    Today, fine nut oils are readily available at specialty food stores, waiting for you to discover the glories of almond oil, hazelnut oil, pecan oil, pistachio oil and walnut oil.* There are nut oil recipes galore for appetizers, salads, mains and desserts (here’s a good starter collection of recipes from La Tourangelle, a California producer of the finest nut oils).

    The production and use of nut oils is a time-honored tradition in France. Originally, each village had a mill that roasted and extracted the oil from nuts gathered by the area’s farmers. These exquisite oils were used in both the local, hearty, rustic fare and in the haute cuisine of the finest restaurants of Paris.


    Not just for salad: Nut oils add deep flavor to desserts and other courses. Photo courtesy La Tourangelle.


    *All nuts contain oil. Almond oil, beech nut oil, cashew oil, hazelnut oil, macadamia oil, pecan oil, pistachio oil and walnut oil are the most popular for culinary use. They are packed with omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, which significantly reduce the risk of a cardiovascular related disease (olive oil is an excellent source of omega 9 but has no omega 3). Nut oil is also used in cosmetics, and was used by Renaissance painters to make their oil paints.

    Following the industrialization of food production, just a handful of mills remain. The roasted artisan oils they make are very different from the far less expensive refined nut oils that are readily available in natural food stores and other markets (more about that below).

    Think of it as the difference between extra virgin olive oil and refined olive oil:

    Roasted nut oils, which are artisan produced from the best quality nuts available, require much more effort to extract the oil. The nuts are hand roasted in cast iron kettles, then expeller-pressed, lightly filtered and bottled. The result is a rich color, aroma and taste. Roasted nut oil is costly; but you need only a small amount to add flavor.

    Refined nut oils are made from what the industry calls nut oil stock: substandard nuts sold at discounted prices to oil manufacturers. The nuts are expeller-pressed in a screw press and then refined to remove impurities. Many of the antioxidants are removed during the refining process. The result is 100% pure nut oil but with no flavor, no aroma and pale color.

    Nut oils have a short shelf life. Buy a small bottle at a time, unless you find yourself using larger quantities.

    A bottle of nut oil should be stored in a cool, dark place and used within four months. It can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for a year.

    If refrigerated, the oil will become cloudy. This doesn’t affect its taste or use; and left at room temperature for 20 minutes, it will become clear again.


    Discover more about nut oils in our review of La Tourangelle nut oils, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

    Find more of our favorite oils and recipes in our Gourmet Oil & Vinegar Section.



    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Keep Garlic Fresh

    To keep garlic fresh, store it in dark, dry,
    cool place. Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian | SXC.


    Garlic powder is a pale substitute for fresh garlic. Some people use it because of the convenience: A jar of garlic powder is always on hand, whereas one can be out of fresh garlic—or worse, discover that the cloves have become dry, hard and unusable.


    Garlic needs a cool, dry place, away from the light. Those ceramic garlic keepers with vent holes actually work. The vent holes enable proper air flow to keep the garlic cool and dry; glazed ceramic will not absorb moisture or odors; and the bulbs are protected from light.

    For a quick fix, pop the garlic into a small brown paper bag or a cloth bag or pouch (we use a drawstring bag that originally held a gift item). If you don’t have a paper bag, create a makeshift pouch with a cloth napkin and an elastic band.

    Keep fresh garlic out of the fridge. Garlic gets bitter when refrigerated.

    What if the garlic sprouts? The shoots are delicious. Cut them off and use them in a salad, in scrambled eggs or as a garnish.



    Freeze It. Peel and slice the cloves in half and freeze them in a freezer-weight storage bag or other container. When you need garlic, just drop the frozen clove(s) into the pot or pan; the liquid ingredients will “defrost” it.

    Dry It. Dry sliced garlic in a dehydrator and keep it in an airtight container in the pantry. The liquid in a recipe will reconstitute it. You also can grind your dried garlic into garlic powder that will taste much better than store-bought, which contains anti-caking agents and possibly other additives.

    Chop or Purée It. Peel the cloves and chop or purée them. Acidify the peeled cloves in vinegar in the refrigerator for a day; then pour the vinegar off and use it for a salad dressing. Place the garlic in an airtight jar and cover with a small layer of olive oil, which further preserves the garlic by keeping air away. Or, you can store either in the freezer without the olive oil.

    Make Pickled Garlic. It’s delicious in salads, relish trays, with sandwiches, as a garnish, with cocktails, on pizza, in pasta and more. Here’s a recipe.
    Have garlic tips to add to this list? Let us know!



    FOOD HOLIDAY: Tequila Lemonade For National Lemonade Day

    We recently published a recipe for lavender lemonade, a gourmet recipe you can use to celebrate National Lemonade Day, August 20th.

    But perhaps you’d prefer to celebrate with a lemonade cocktail. Here’s a quick and easy recipe from Tequila Avión:


    Ingredients For One Drink

  • 2 parts silver/blanco Tequila
  • 4 parts fresh lemon juice
  • ½ part agave nectar
  • Ice/cocktail shaker
  • Garnish: lemon wheel

    1. Combine Tequila, lemon juice and agave nectar in a shaker; shake.

    2. Strain into a tall glass of ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel and celebrate!

    With Alcohol

  • Blueberry Lemonade recipe (with blueberry vodka).
  • London Lemonade recipe: with gin and triple sec.

    Adult lemonade for National Lemonade Day. Photo courtesy Tequila Avión.


    Alcohol Optional

  • Arnold Palmer/Shandy recipe: half lemonade, half iced tea.
  • Classic Homemade Lemonade recipe.
  • Cranberry-Lemonade Spritz recipe.
  • Homemade Flavored Lemonade recipes.
  • Mint Lemonade recipe.
  • Spicy Lemonade recipe.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Versatile Parsley Vinaigrette

    Mince extra parsley for a vinaigrette and
    sauce. Photo courtesy Andrews McMeel


    Have leftover parsley? Many of us keep unused stalks until they wilt, yellow and lose their flavor.

    Don’t let that happen: Fresh parsley adds punch to a vinaigrette—and not just for salads. Use a parsley vinaigrette with:

  • Bean salad
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Cole slaw
  • Green salad
  • Potato salad
  • Chicken, tuna or seafood salad salad
  • Grilled meat or poultry
  • Grilled or sautéed fish and seafood
  • Cooked vegetables
    Here’s a recipe from chef Seamus Mullen’s inspired cookbook, Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better.




  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves and stems, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tablespoon Champagne vinegar (substitute: white wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

    1. COMBINE. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and bright green.

    2. WHISK. Add mixture to a bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Chimichurri, a spicy vinegar-parsley sauce, is essentially the same recipe without the lemon juice: finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, vinegar (red or white), plus red pepper flakes for heat.

    Chimichurri is the leading condiment in Argentina and Uruguay. It’s the national equivalent of ketchup in the U.S. or salsa in Mexico, served with grilled meat and fish.

    As the story goes, the name evolved from “Jimmy McCurry,” an Irishman who developed the recipe. The sauce was popular but “Jimmy McCurry” was difficult for Argentineans to say, so it became “chimichurri.”



    TIP OF THE DAY: Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich

    We enjoy making ice cream sandwiches with chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies.

    But we’ve grown to prefer brownie ice cream sandwiches. They become more of an ice cream cake experience, and ice cream cake (or ice cream and cake) just might be our favorite comfort food.

    Brownie ice cream sandwiches will be a hit at your next party or special event; or keep them in the freezer as a regular treat. Either way, make them in advance (see note below for a party activity); then wrap in plastic (individually or the whole tray/sheet) and freeze.

  • Slice the brownie in half horizontally, and use a spatula to fill with slightly softened ice cream and lop off the excess ice cream. If you’re using ice cream in a rectangular package, you can remove the block of ice cream and slice the ice cream into pieces that fit the brownie.

    Yummy: a chocolate chip brownie ice cream sandwich. Photo courtesy Beverly Hills Ice Cream Company.


  • If you cut the brownies into two-inch squares instead of a larger size, you’ll be able to have the treats more frequently with fewer calories.
    Have fun mixing and matching brownie and ice cream flavors: a chocolate chip brownie with chocolate chip mint ice cream, a peanut butter brownie with peanut butter ice cream, a raspberry brownie with raspberry ice cream, and so forth.

    You can add an extra layer of “inclusions”: chopped nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, crushed toffee, mini M&Ms and so forth.

    As an alternative, dip the edges of the ice cream in them. But while the dipped edges look more exciting, when you layer the extras you won’t have bits of them falling onto the floor.

    PARTY DESSERT: Set up a brownie ice cream sandwich bar with halved brownies, pre-cut ice cream rectangles (place the tray of ice cream atop a tray of ice) and bowls of inclusions. It can get messy, but it’s fun.

    Find more of our favorite brownie recipes in our Cookies & Brownies Section.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Omelets & Frittatas For Dinner

    A classic Italian frittata (recipe below).
    Photo courtesy National Potato Board.


    Omelets and frittatas seem like leisurely brunch or lunch fare. But don’t hesitate to serve them for dinner.

    An hearty egg dish with a large salad is a tasty and nutritious meal at any time of the day. Vegetable fillings (see the list below) add variety, not to mention nutrients and fiber—and are one way to get vegetable-wary family members to eat more of them.

    What’s the difference between an omelet and a frittata?

  • Omelet. With an omelet, the added ingredients are a filling, added to the beaten eggs as they set in the pan. As the omelet continues to cook, it is folded with a spatula into semi-circular or rectangular shape.
  • Frittata. With a frittata, the eggs and ingredients are mixed together, then cooked more slowly. The egg mixture completely fills a round pan, giving a round shape to the frittata, which looks like the cousin of a quiche (as with a quiche, a frittata can also be enjoyed at room temperature). “Frittata” comes from the Italian verb “friggere,” “to fry.”
    Both can be made in the same frying pan or special omelet/frittata pan.



    Sautéed Vegetables: The list is more inclusive than exclusive: artichoke, bell pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, chard, eggplant, kale, mushroom (use the wild varieties for more flavor), onion/leek/green onion, potatoes (boiled/roasted), spinach, zucchini—heck, anything you have in the fridge. Add minced jalapeño or chili flakes if you like heat.

    Cheese: Some favorite cheeses work well: melting cheeses (Emmenthal/“Swiss,” mozzarella, Provolone; grating cheeses (Asiago, Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano/Parmesan, Pecorino Romano); soft cheeses (goat cheese/chèvre).

    Meat: ham/prosciutto, roast chicken/turkey, salame, sausage. When you make chicken or ham, set some aside for the next night’s frittata.




  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper strips
  • 5 eggs (the fresher the eggs, the tastier the omelet)
  • Optional: grated Parmesan cheese

    To make a rectangular omelet, pick up this special Nordicware omelet pan at Willliams-Sonoma. There’s also a microwave version.


    1. PREHEAT. Preheat oven to 350°F.

    2. SAUTÉ. In an 8” nonstick sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the potato and cook, turning often, until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the potato slices with a slotted spatula and set aside in a bowl.

    3. FRY. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same pan and fry the zucchini, turning once, until tender and slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the basil and season with salt and pepper. Using the slotted spatula, add the zucchini to the potatoes.

    4. SAUTÉ. Add enough oil to the pan to total 2 tablespoons and return to medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Remove with the slotted spatula and add to the potatoes. Add the bell pepper strips to the vegetable mixture.

    5. BEAT. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until well blended, adding a little of the optional Parmesan. Add to the vegetables. Pour the mixture into an oiled baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees until set and golden, about 25 minutes. Cut in half and set aside half. Cut the remaining half into wedges and enjoy for dinner. Cover the other half and refrigerate for up to 2 days for another supper.

    TIP #2

    If you’re not good at flipping a frittata or omelet, use your broiler to cook the top side. Place the pan in the broiler under a low flame. When the top is golden brown, it’s time to dig in.


    Treat yourself to this excellent egg cookbook.

    How many different types of eggs have you had? Check out our Egg Glossary.

    Find more egg recipes in our Eggs Section.



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