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Archive for August, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Whip Up A Simple Gazpacho Recipe

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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.

WHITE GAZPACHO FROM DOVETAIL

Ingredients

  • 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.
  •  
    Preparation

    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.

    WAYS TO DRESS UP YOUR GAZPACHO

  • 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).
  •  
    SPECIALTY GAZPACHO RECIPES

  • Avocado gazpacho recipe.
  • Melon gazpacho recipe.
  •  
    GAZPACHO ADDS TO YOUR VEGGIE COUNT

    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.
     
      

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    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 Melissas.com.

     

    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.

      

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    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.

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    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.

    HEALTHIER FROSTING: EVAPORATED MILK GLAZE

    Ingredients

  • 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
  •  
    Preparation

    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.
     
    FAT FREE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

    Ingredients

  • 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
  •  
    Preparation

    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.
     
      

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    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).
      
    ROASTED NUT OILS VS. REFINED NUT OILS

    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.
      
    HOW TO STORE NUT OILS

    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.

      

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