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Archive for September, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Salad With Goat Cheese

Salad with a creamy, fresh goat cheese
crottin, halved. Photo courtesy Vermont
Creamery, one of America’s greatest
producers of goat cheese. Read our review.


Whenever we see a goat cheese salad on a menu (chèvre is the French word), we order it.

Typically served with mesclun or frisée, sometime with beets, sometime with toasted walnuts or pecans, it’s one of our favorite foods. And it’s so easy to make.

We’ve hesitated to make it at home too often, because we love creamy, fresh goat cheese so much that an entire 10.5-ounce log can disappear at one meal.

But we devised a new strategy: Buy one or two crottins at a time.

A crottin (crow-TAHN) is a small, individual-size goat cheese shaped like a drum. But the name means something earthier in French: “dropping” or goat/horse dung.

Why stick a cheese with a name like that? As the crottin ages, it becomes dark and hard and bears a resemblance to the animal dropping. Mostly, though, it’s enjoyed when fresh or moderately aged, resembling only a delicious, drum-shaped cheese.

The small size makes a crottin, whole or halved, a popular pairing with a salad.


Crottin is the signature goat cheese shape of the Loire Valley; Crottin di Chavignol, an AOC-designated cheese, has been produced in and around the village of Chavignol since the 16th century.


Use a crottin or a one-inch slice from a log of goat cheese. You can buy a plain log or one rolled in ash, herbs, peppercorns and other spices. Or, roll a plain log in the coating of your choice before slicing,


  • Room temperature, plain or rolled in herbs, spices or chopped nuts
  • Warm cheese, baked plain or breaded in panko bread crumbs and fried (see footnote*)
  • Fresh or aged
    *To bake goat cheese: Preheat oven to 375°F. Season panko with a pinch of sea salt and add just enough olive oil to moisten. Roll cheese in crumbs; place cheese on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until soft.


    Salad Greens

  • Arugula
  • Frisée
  • Mesclun
  • Spinach
  • Watercress


  • Grilled vegetables
  • Portobello mushrooms (see recipe for Grilled Portobello Mushroom With Herbed Salad & Goat Cheese
  • Roasted beets (substitute canned sliced beets or whole baby beets)


    Goat cheese crottins aging. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.



  • Apple slices
  • Berries (especially blueberries and strawberries)
  • Figs, whole, halved or sliced
  • Pear slices
  • Melon slices (including watermelon)
  • Tomatoes: grape tomatoes, halved cherry tomatoes, quartered heirloom tomato wedges
    Nuts, Raw Or Toasted

  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Hazelnut or walnut oil vinaigrette with wine vinegar
    On The Side

  • Thinly-cut, toasted baguette slices

    Long considered an alternative for those with cow’s milk sensitivities, people who are lactose-intolerant (or otherwise have difficulty digesting milk products) can often enjoy goat cheese with impunity.

  • Goat’s milk is more digestible due to its smaller, naturally homogenized fat globules.
  • Goat’s milk also has a higher percentage of short- and medium-chain fatty acids than cow’s milk and is lower in cholesterol.
  • Goat cheese is higher in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and B. Goat’s milk has virtually the same calories as cow’s milk.
    Here’s an overview of goat cheese and why it’s good for you, plus yummy recipes for goat cheese caramels and goat cheese fudge.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Whole Wheat Flour For Baking

    Snack on raisin walnut bread made with the
    more nutritious whole wheat flour. Photo
    courtesy U.S. Apple Association.


    For some reason, a lot of people don’t like the idea of whole wheat. They think that refined white flour tastes better.

    But whole wheat is more flavorful in a good way—not to mention much more nutritious. Give it a try, whether you choose whole grain pretzels for snacking or whole grain flour for baking.

    Whether it’s your famous apple pie, blueberry muffins, brownies, or cupcakes of other baked delights, you can up the nutrition by switching to whole wheat flour. Before you think you won’t like it, try it.

    Here’s why we all need more whole grains in our diets.



  • Substitute Equal Amounts. As a rule of thumb, you can replace white flour with the same amount of whole wheat flour. Just use the same type of flour, e.g. whole wheat bread flour for white bread flour or whole wheat all purpose flour for white all purpose flour.

    Bob’s Red Mill is one brand that sells whole wheat flour in all purpose, bread and pastry varieties. You can find them easily in natural food stores and online. If you can’t find whole wheat bread flour or pastry flour, use equal parts of all purpose whole wheat flour and regular bread or pastry flour.

  • Sift It More. Whole wheat flour produces a more dense crumb. To incorporate more air, sift whole wheat flour 1-2 times in addition to what the white flour recipe calls for and don’t over mix, which toughens the final result.
  • Spoon It, Don’t Scoop It. Another tip for keeping it light: Don’t scoop the flour with a measuring cup. Instead, use a spoon to transfer the flour from the bag to the measuring cup. This technique introduces more air into the mixture.
  • Substitute Half For Starters. For general baking, you can start by substituting just part or all of the all-purpose flour, e.g. if two cups of flour are called for, use one cup of all purpose flour and one cup of whole wheat flour.
  • For 100% Substitution: When completely substituting whole wheat flour for white flour, use a bit less: 7/8 cup of whole wheat instead of one cup of white flour, for example.


    This tasty recipe from the U.S. Apple Association is a treat for breakfast, brunch, snacks and the dinner bread basket or cheese plate. It’s a cousin of carrot bread and other healthier alternatives.

    While the original recipe didn’t include dried fruit, we love raisin-walnut bread so added raisins. You can use blueberries, cherries or cranberries, or cut up larger dried fruits such as apricots and dates.

    This bread is delicious with almost any cheese, and makes delightful tea sandwiches with cream cheese.


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup bran flakes
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup 100% apple juice or cider
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup raisins

    It’s easy to find whole wheat flour in natural food stores. Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.



    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

    2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, bran flakes, wheat germ, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and cloves. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

    3. In a small bowl, mix the apple juice, applesauce, yogurt, honey, oil and eggs. Beat well and pour in to the center of the dry ingredients. Stir to combine without over mixing.

    4. Fold in the nuts and raisins and spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes; turn out of the pan onto a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting.

    Yield: 12-15 slices.

    Find more apple recipes from the U.S. Apple Association.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Exciting Vegan Sushi Ideas

    Pickle Me: a recipe with six grain rice,
    avocado, carrot, gobo, and pickled daikon.
    Photo courtesy Beyond Sushi.


    In our book, to say you were a contestant on the Gordon Ramsay bleepfest TV show, Hell’s Kitchen, is not a status credential. The majority of cheftestants, who can curse expertly but can’t consistently cook a simple piece of fish or beef, engender incredulity that they hold down professional jobs.

    But Guy Vaknin, who was eliminated early on in the show’s recently concluded Season 10, proves that a Ramsay reject can open an inspired specialty eatery and do a terrific job. Who can get excited about Hell’s Kitchen’s pasta or scallop dishes when there’s Vaknin’s innovative sushi to be had?

    No Fish

    Beyond Sushi, the vegan sushi restaurant in New York City created by Vaknin (who was previously a kosher chef/caterer), offers an aesthetic alternative to traditional sushi. Yes, there‘s no fish in this sushi. Sushi simply means vinegared rice: su = vinegar, shi = rice.

    The fare is an inspired approach to sushi that just happens to be low in sodium: No soy sauce is used. Instead, Chef Vaknin uses flavored vegetable purées as sauces for the sushi.


    Vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike will be charmed by these vegetable and fruit beauties. If the idea excites you, visit Beyond Sushi’s Facebook page, check out the photo gallery and roll your own.

    No White Rice

    There’s also no white rice in Vaknin’s sushi. In the name of nutrition, flavor and aesthetics, Chef Vaknin employs black Chinese forbidden rice and a six grain rice made from rye berries (the whole kernel, which is ground to make rye flour for baking), two types of barley, black rice, brown rice and red rice. (Check out the different types of rice in our Rice Glossary, along with an overview of whole grains).

    No Soy Sauce

    Vaknin also cuts down on the sodium inherent in classic sushi, via the soy sauce. Even low sodium soy sauce has more than a meal’s allotment of sodium (Kikkoman’s low sodium soy sauce, for example, has 575 mg sodium per tablespoon, compared with 920 mg for its regular soy sauce).

    Instead, all rolls are served with sauces made from tofu or veggie purée, such as carrot-ginger, jalapeño-wasabi, mango-chili, shiitake-teriyaki, toasted cayenne and white miso.

    Vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike will be charmed by these vegetable beauties, some with fruit accents. If the idea excites you, visit Beyond Sushi’s Facebook page, check out the photo gallery and roll your own.

    Then, serve your beautiful and healthful creations for lunch, dinner, snacks and cocktail fare. It will have special fans among:

  • Vegetarians, vegans and pregnant women who are tired of the limited vegetarian options in conventional sushi bars: asparagus, avocado, carrot, cucumber and pickled vegetable rolls.
  • Kids who like sushi but not fish.
  • Foodies who want something different and exciting.


    Vaknin scours farmers markets for the inspiration to combine great flavors, colors and textures. On the Beyond Sushi menu you’ll find:

  • CRUNCH N MUNCH: Black rice with alfalfa, baked tofu, English cucumber and kiwi, with white miso sauce.
  • GREEN MACHINE: Six grain rice with English cucumber, basil leaf, marinated veggies and white asparagus,with jalapeño wasabi sauce.
  • LA FIESTA: Black rice with avocado, chayote, cilantro and picked red onion, with mango chili sauce.
  • HARICAT: Black rice with carrot, grilled haricots vert (green beans) and mango, with sweet soy mirin sauce.
  • MIGHTY MUSHROOM: Six grain rice with arugula microgreens, enoki and shiitake muchrooms and tofu, with shiitake teriyaki sauce.

    Black rice, avocado, cucumber, mango and spicy veggies, topped with toasted cayenne sauce. Photo courtesy Beyond Sushi.


  • NUTTY BUDDY: A wrap roll with avocado, baked tofu, buckwheat noodles, carrots, cilantro, crushed peanuts, jalapeño peanut butter and romaine dressed with sesame oil and served with sweet soy mirin sauce.
  • PICKLE ME: Six grain rice with avocado, carrot, gobo, and pickled daikon, served with carrot ginger sauce.
  • SPICY MANG: Black rice, avocado, cucumber, mango and spicy veggies, served with toasted cayenne sauce.
  • SWEET ANGEL: A wrap roll with angel hair whole wheat noodles, alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, baked sweet potato, chili flakes and romaine, served with toasted cayenne sauce.
  • SWEET TREE: Six grain rice with alfalfa sprouts, avocado and sweet potato, served with toasted cayenne sauce.
    There are also a special Rolls Of The Month. You can enter your idea for the chance to win dinner for two. Some recent winners:

  • Broccolini, beets, mango, sautéed Swiss chard and coriander-tumeric chickpea purée with chia seed encrusted black rice, topped with roasted red pepper sauce and fresh tarragon.
  • Tamarind-red wine vinegar heirloom tomato marmalade with six grain rice, garnished with a dehydrated cherry tomato chip.
  • Roasted cumin cauliflower with six grain rice and coriander chickpea purée, topped with roasted red pepper sauce and cilantro.
    September’s special roll is black rice with Dijon-crusted roasted celery root and peaches topped with a blend of red cabbage, cilantro and celery and finished with celery root purée and whiskey marinated mustard seeds.

    Are you ready to roll?

    Check out our Sushi Glossary.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Añejo Tequila With Dessert

    Añejo Tequila is delicious with chocolate.
    Photo courtesy Partida Tequila.


    Yesterday we suggested adding spirits to baked goods. Today, it’s a shot of Tequila with dessert. More specifically, enjoy a small snifter of añejo (aged)Tequila with your favorite dessert (the different types of tequila).

    Añejo is not mixing Tequila; it’s sipping Tequila. Last night we enjoyed some añejo with an iced chocolate square and vanilla ice cream.

    Wafting up from the snifter, the nose delivered light notes of almond, cherry, dried fruit and spice. The palate included banana, chocolate, honey and pear. Any wonder that this Tequila is so dessert-friendly?

    Añejo Tequila is aged 1 year or longer, during which time it acquires complex aromas, intense flavors and coppery color from the oak barrels. Partida Añejo, one of the greatest Tequila brands, is aged in used Jack Daniels barrels for 18 months.


    Enjoy a glass of añejo Tequila with apple pie, banana desserts, chocolate desserts (including churros), crème brûlée, ice cream, poached pears—try it with any dessert. If the pairing is a hit with you, get to work on these other dessert and alcohol pairings.

    A simple but wonderful “dessert” is top-quality dark chocolate with a side of añejo.

    You can also infuse dessert sauces with Tequila, such as this Tequila-custard sauce for fresh berries.


    While Tequila has been distilled in Mexico since the arrival of the Conquistadors in the late 1520s, the aged Tequila styles, reposado and añejo, were developed in the early 1900s.

    The move to aging happened when tequila producers thought to use the leftover brandy, rum and red wine casks that had been shipped from Spain to supply the Spanish aristocracy. This innovation changed the overall quality and taste of Tequila, which until then had been raw (unaged blanco/silver/white tequila) and without complexity.

    More history of Tequila.


    You can even enjoy añejo Tequila with simple shortbread or sugar cookies. Here, the rim of the glass is dipped into brown sugar. Photo courtesy Partida Tequila.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Add Bourbon To Dessert

    You can simplify this fancy Cherries &
    Bourbon dessert and still enjoy the delicious combination of flavors. Photo courtesy Trace
    Restaurant | Austin.


    Adding spirits to baked goods—Bourbon, Grand Marnier, liqueur, rum—adds a subtle nuance. We serve spiked desserts with a shot or liqueur glass of the featured spirit. It‘s a lovely end to an evening. And it can be as simple as drizzling the spirit over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

    September is Bourbon Heritage Month. Bourbon and cherries are a wonderful pairing, as demonstrated by this recipe from Janina O’Leary, executive pastry chef at Trace restaurant in the W Hotel in Austin, Texas.

    Cherries and Bourbon features an airy cupcake dipped in tres leches milk and fried. Alternatively, you can bake the cake in a pan and serve it as squares.
    The cake is then topped with cherry sorbet and Bourbon ice cream swirl with meringue and cherry pie filling.

    If this sounds like a lot of work (it is!), try the simplified version. Don’t fry the cake. Don’t swirl the sorbet and ice cream together, but serve two separate, small scoops. Don’t have time to make the cherry sorbet? Just make the vanilla-Bourbon ice cream. Don’t have time to make the ice cream? Buy a pint of vanilla, soften it and stir in the Bourbon.



    Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.

    2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.

    3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven; for cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.

    4. Fry at in shortening oil at 350°F. Serve warm




  • 4 cups pitted sour or sweet cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar or superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • For garnish: cherry pie filling (go for a natural brand or make our easy recipe below)

    Mix all ingredients, strain and process in an ice cream machine.


    You can substitute any fruit for the cherries. Whatever the fruit, this will be far better than most canned products.


  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups cherries + 1 cup, fresh or frozen

    No time to make your own vanilla Bourbon ice cream? Buy vanilla ice cream, soften and stir in the Bourbon. Photo by FunkyBG | Dreamstime.



    1. COMBINE. Add the ingredients to a medium sauce pan; stir to combine.

    2. HEAT. Cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Raise heat and bring to a gentle boil; cook until desired consistency.

    3. ADD. Stir in the final cup of cherries. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve.



  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Bourbon

    1. COMBINE. Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat.

    2. WHISK. Put the egg yolks in bowl and whisk lightly.

    3. COMBINE. When the cream mixture is starting to steam and tiny bubbles have formed along the edge of the pot, whisk a cup or so, ¼ cup at a time into the yolks, to temper the eggs.

    4. WHISK. Once the eggs are tempered, whisk them into the cream mixture. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat or until the cream mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

    5. ADD. Turn off heat and stir in the bourbon and vanilla extract. Process according to your ice-cream maker’s instructions


    1. Place cake in center of plate or bowl. Surround with spoonfuls of cherry pie topping.

    2. Top cake with cherry sorbet and vanilla ice cream.

    3. Garnish with bourbon whipped cream or cherry whipped cream. Chef O’Leary has also garnished with cherry powder and edible flowers.

  • Bourbon Pecan Pumpkin Pie
  • Spiced Bourbon Pecans
  • Bourbon Cherry Butter With Orange—delicious with ham, pork, poultry and veggies: acorn squash, beets, carrots and sweet potatoes
  • Bourbon Roasted Oysters
  • Classic Bourbon Cocktails


    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Your Kitchen Scissors

    Pizza scissors. You can use regular kitchen
    scissors to cut your pizza. Photo courtesy
    Sur La Table.


    We saw these pizza scissors and thought: Hmm. If we were stuck for a gift for a pizza enthusiast, we might consider them. But most kitchens don’t need—much less have room for—single-purpose gadgets such as pizza scissors, avocado slicers and mango pitters.

    The special-purpose scissors have a nonstick spatula base that “slides and lifts the slice.” You can buy them on Amazon or at Sur La Table.

    While the nonstick base prevents scratches on metal pizza pans, at home, we use our everyday kitchen scissors to separate those clingy slices. (Pizza wheels never worked for us.)

    An eight-inch kitchen knife like the one from Wustoff can do much more than slice pizza. If your knife skills aren’t as good as a culinary professional’s, you may find that a scissors can be your best friend in the kitchen.


    You’ll find many uses for kitchen scissors, including:

  • BAKING: Cut pastry dough.
  • HERBS: Snip basil, chives, cilantro, parsley and other herbs for recipes, into salad (they make a huge difference in flavor), as a garnish, etc.
  • MEAT & POULTRY: Cut the skin off of chicken and the fat off of any meat.
  • PIZZA: Separate the slices.
  • SWEET FOODS: Cut dried fruit, trim marshmallows into mini marshmallows.
  • TORTILLAS: Cut whole tortillas into wedges to toast or pan fry (we use them instead of croutons to top salads).
  • VEGGIES: Cut the leaves off celery, cut celery and fennel stems, snip the ends off green beans and the thorns from artichoke leaves, cut the tops off just about anything, cut salad greens into “chopped salad” size pieces.

    Make sure it’s stainless steel. Otherwise, you’ll find that rust spots crop up.

    For a come-apart scissors, look for a screw mechanism rather than a metal bolt. A come-apart scissors design makes it easy to separate the two blades for cleaning or sharpening. But we’ve found that scissors secured with a simple bolt closure (turn and lift) may seem easier at first glance, but come apart in your hand when you don’t want them to—when you’re using the scissors!

    That’s why we like the screw design of the Wustoff kitchen scissors. While Wustoff is a premier manufacturer of cutlery, the scissors are only $19.95 on Amazon.

    Blade. You get what you pay for: The scissors associated with good cutlery manufacturers have blades that hold their sharpness longer.

    How do you use your kitchen scissors?


    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: BelVita Breakfast Biscuits

    At the beginning of the year, Nabisco launched BelVita breakfast biscuits, a nutritious alternative to cereal and bread products. They’re whole grain, calorie-friendly, and have been designed to release sustained energy.

    We highly recommended them. We didn’t foresee then that these nutritious, slightly sweet, crunchy and flavorful biscuits would become our favorite grab-and-go breakfast and snack. (We also enjoy them as a sit-and-relax breakfast and snack.)

    So we’ve promoted BelVita to Top Pick Of The Week. Read the full review and see of BelVita, which means beautiful life, can become part of yours.

    The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Find more of our favorite:

  • Cookies
  • Crackers and bread products
  • Cereals, pancakes, waffles and other breakfast foods

    Grab a packet of BelVita biscuits for breakfast. Photo courtesy Nabisco.




    COOKING VIDEO: Japanese Miso Soup For American Breakfast


    Asians drink soup for breakfast (Japanese miso soup and Thai pho, for example). Americans looking for something quick, hot, nutritious and comforting should consider the option.

    All you need to make a bowl of miso soup is hot water and a spoonful of miso paste, available in many supermarkets as well as in Asian food stores.

    You can add nutritious vegetables to your miso soup, as shown in the video, or have it plain, as it’s served at Japanese restaurants. The soup can be made in advance and microwaved in a minute, which is especially convenient if you want your soup with veggies.

    Beyond a quick cup of soup before you dash out, you can carry a thermos, thermal mug or a portable coffee mug full of soup as you leave. Your soup supply can also be part of a low-calorie, healthful lunch, snack or dinner.

    Here are more ways to use the miso paste.



    Find more of our favorite soups in our Soup Section.

    Want a more conventional breakfast? Check out our Cereals, Pancakes & Waffles Section.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Add Refreshment, Deduct Carbs With Cucumber Hors d’Oeuvres

    When pulling together hors d’oeuvres for cocktails, it’s easy to reach for baguette slices or crackers and pile on a topping.

    But here’s an alternative that doesn’t get soggy, has better nutrition and fewer carbs: the cucumber. You can place sliced meat and cheese, a shrimp with dill sauce, or other favorite directly atop a slice of cucumber instead of the bread or cracker. You can even make bite-size “cucumber sandwiches” using two slices of cucumber and a filling.

    Or, you can “stuff” the cucumber for a more impressive presentation:


    1. Peel and cut cucumbers into half-inch circles and carefully scoop out a well with a melon baller or other device.

    2. Optionally, you can use a small cookie cutter to make scalloped/floral shapes, as in the photo (do this before you scoop out the well).

    3. Then, fill the well with anything you like. Some of our favorites:


    Cucumbers stuffed with salsa. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers | New York.

  • Caviar: Use any affordable caviar, but especially flavored capelin or whitefish caviar (ginger, truffle, saffron, wasabi, etc.). See the different types of caviar.
  • Cheese: Try blue cheese spread topped with a toasted pecan or walnut (recipe below), or flavored goat cheese (mix in dill or chopped olives), topped with a strip or square of smoked salmon.
  • Salad: Crab, egg, tuna or shrimp salad becomes special with a touch of curry or other exotic seasoning.
  • Salsa: Look for chipotle, corn and bean or other stand-out salsa flavor.

    The better quality the blue cheese and cream cheese, the better this tastes. We use organic cream cheese (less gumminess, more flavor) and Gorgonzola or Roquefort (check out our favorite blue cheeses).


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • Base: cucumber slices, crackers or toasted baguette
  • Garnish: sliced figs, toasted pecans or walnuts

    1. COMBINE: In a medium bowl, mash softened cream cheese until softened. Mash in blue cheese.

    2. TASTE: Blue cheese is typically salty, but adjust with salt and pepper if needed. You can make this up to a week in advance. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

    3. ASSEMBLE. Top cucumber slices with cheese spread. Since this is a thick mixture, you don’t need to create wells; but you can certainly do so if you like the aesthetic.

    4. GARNISH: Top with a thin slice of fig and/or a toasted nut.

    Find more of our favorite hors d’oeuvre recipes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Tortillas With The Salad Course

    Adapt this dinner plate as a first course or
    snack. Photo courtesy Weldon Owen.


    We saw this healthful lunch or dinner plate in the book, Healthy in a Hurry: Simple, Wholesome Recipes for Every Meal of the Day, by Karen Ansel and Charity Ferreira. We repurposed the idea as a snack or first course.

    The authors suggest a healthful meal of two small tortillas topped with salsa and chicken, and a side of nutritious beans.

    We especially like this idea to use up leftover chicken, grilled seafood or tofu.

    Once you have your protein, make or buy fresh mango salsa (you can substitute peach salsa, but mango provides more complex flavor).

    Then, just cook the tortillas, assemble and serve. If you’d like to turn this into a salad course, replace the beans in the photo with dressed greens.


    Serving size for a snack, first course or salad course: 1 tortilla. The mango salsa recipe makes 1-1/2 cups, enough salsa for 8 tortillas.



  • 6″ corn tortillas
  • Mango salsa
  • 1-2 ounces grilled chicken or tofu, 1 large shrimp or scallop or two smaller pieces
  • Garnish: thinly-sliced radishes or jicama matchsticks

    Mango Salsa Ingredients

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (how to cut a mango)
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. MAKE SALSA. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and blend.

    2. COOK TORTILLAS. Heat a dry cast iron skillet or other small, heavy pan over medium high heat. Add 1/6 teaspoon (half of the 1/8 teaspoon measure) olive oil to the center of the pan. Place the tortilla in the pan and swish it around so that the oil evenly coats the pan. Cook the tortilla for 5 seconds, flip and cook the other side for 5 seconds.



    1. Place the tortilla in the center of on a luncheon-size plate; if including a green salad, use a dinner plate and place the tortilla on one side of the plate.

    2. Top with 2 tablespoons of drained salsa; top salsa with the protein and garnish. Add optional green salad and serve.

    Corn is a whole grain, so corn tortillas are more nutritious—and more flavorful—than those made from refined white flour.

    If you enjoy snacking on tortilla chips, making your own corn tortilla bowls is a better option: Chips can have quite a bit of added salt.


    Want to make healthy, meals? Pick up a copy of Healthy In A Hurry. Photo courtesy Weldon Owen.


    For more tortilla fun, you can buy tortilla bowl molds in large, for salads and other foods, or mini size to hold salsa, individual portions of guacamole, etc.

    We really enjoy a “tortilla salad”—like the ones served in restaurants in jumbo tortilla bowls. Add lettuce or other greens and a protein, and you have an appealing light lunch or dinner. Eat as much of the tortilla as you like—it’s better for you than most bread.

    To make your own, get a set of these nonstick tortilla bowl molds.



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