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Archive for March 10, 2014

FOOD HOLIDAY: National Popover Day & National Cherry Popover Day

popover-pan-chefs-catalog-230

Dried Tart Cherries

Sour Cherry Preserves

[1] You can use a regular muffin pan to make popovers. Special popover pans, like the one above, have deeper wells and make a taller, more dramatic looking popover (photo courtesy Chefs Catalog). [2] For National Cherry Popover Day, add dried cherries (photo courtesy Murrays Cheese. [3] Don’t forget the cherry preserves (photo courtesy Chukar Cherries).

 

March 10th is National Popover Day. September 1st is National Cherry Popover Day. What are we celebrating here?

Popovers are delicate, almost hollow “rolls” that majestically rise up over the tops of the pans they’re baked in, somewhat like a soufflé. Like a soufflé, they also collapse as they cool.They have outsides are crisp and brown, the interior soft and airy.

In the U.K. they’re called Yorkshire pudding and are often served as a side with a slice of prime rib or other beef. In the U.S., they’re enjoyed as a substitute for a roll or biscuit and are often served at brunch with butter or jam (although neither is required).

Popovers are not difficult to make. The only challenge is to serve them quickly, since as they cool they deflate. You can reheat them in the microwave. They won’t return to their original puffiness, but they’ll still be yummy.

RECIPE: POPOVERS

Ingredients For 12 Popovers

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt (not coarse salt)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Optional: 1/4 cup dried cherries (for cherry popovers—or serve cherry preserves with plain popovers)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Place one rack in the lower third position, topped with an empty baking sheet

    2. PLACE 1/2 teaspoon of butter into each well of a 12-well muffin pan; set aside.

    3. PLACE the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, eggs, milk, sugar and salt in a blender and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Turn off the blender, add the flour, replace the lid and blend until just smooth, about 30 seconds. Set the mixture aside in the blender. If you don’t have a blender, whisk thoroughly in a bowl.

    4. PLACE the muffin pan on the heated baking sheet in the oven, and bake until the butter sizzles, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the muffin pan and the baking sheet from the oven (you can place them on the stove top). Fill the wells of the muffin pan halfway with batter.

    5. RETURN the muffin pan and baking sheet to the oven. Note: After you do this, do not open the oven door at any time during the baking period! Bake until the popovers have puffed up and the tops are starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the popovers are golden brown all over, about 15 minutes more.

     
    6. REMOVE the muffin pan and baking sheet from the oven and place them on a wire rack. Remove the popovers from the pan and serve immediately.
     
    MAKE POPOVERS WITH ALTON BROWN

    Here’s a second popover recipe, from Alton Brown. Watch him make it in the video.

      

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    RECIPE: Drink Your Kale!

    It’s the perfect smoothie for St. Patrick’s Day and a way to drink kale.

    This “Lean, Mean, Green Smoothie” is from chef David Venable at QVC. It’s a more healthful libation than green beer and Irish coffee.

    “This smoothie is packed with good-for-you fruits and vegetables, but tastes like a sweet treat,” says David. “The bright color is perfectly festive and would be a great way to start your St. Paddy’s Day. Be sure to serve this in clear glasses so that everyone can see your holiday spirit!”

    RECIPE: GREEN SMOOTHIE

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups seedless green grapes
  • 1-1/2 cups honeydew chunks (1/2″ chunks)
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped kale, stems removed
  • 1 cup loosely packed baby spinach, stems removed
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and halved
  • 1 ripe pear, cored and quartered
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1-2 cups ice
  •  

    green-smoothie-davidvenableQVC-230

    This “lean, mean, green smoothie” is ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the grapes, honeydew, kale, spinach, banana, avocado, pear, water, and ice in a blender, in the order listed.

    2. BLEND on high speed until the mixture is smooth and pourable. Serve immediately.

      

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    TIP: It’s Time To Consider Less Salt

    red-mound-230

    Anglesey salt, sold here under the brand
    name Halen Mon, is evaporated from Welsh
    sea water. Note that the crystals are square,
    not round. Photo by River Soma | THE
    NIBBLE

     

    What’s the deal with salt, and why is the government trying to limit it in prepared foods?

    Everyone needs to eat a certain amount of salt. The body doesn’t produce sodium (salt), but it requires it in order to perform a variety of essential functions.

    Salt helps to maintain the fluid in blood cells and is used to transmit information in nerves and muscles, among other functions.

    HOW MUCH SALT IS TOO MUCH?

    The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium (salt) per day. That’s one single teaspoon.

    But the average American’s salt intake is more than twice that: 3,436 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily. Here’s more information from the USDA.
     
    It’s not from the salt shaker, typically, but from the large amounts of salt hidden in prepared foods—packaged foods, take out and restaurant meals.

    Whatever the source, nine out of 10 Americans eat too much salt, according to The Centers for Disease Control.

     
    Starting today, the World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) is sponsoring its sixth annual Salt Awareness Week to gain worldwide recognition of the health risks associated with consuming too much salt. So today’s tip involves awareness and action.

    A diet that contains more than that one teaspoon of salt per day is associated with high blood pressure, a potentially fatal condition that affects one in four Americans. While other factors, such as age, family history and race, play a role in your risk of high blood pressure, lowering your sodium intake can help significantly reduce the risk.

     
    SALT IS “THE SILENT KILLER”

    The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure will be, leading to heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.

    According to Consensus Action for Salt and Health, high blood pressure is the leading global risk factor for mortality, resulting in seven million deaths per year.

     

    WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?

    Thanks to LoSalt, a leading reduced sodium salt, for these tips.

  • Get checkups for adults and kids. Think you’re too young to worry about high blood pressure? Our 22-year-old intern has it; fortunately, it was discovered at age 10 in an annual checkup and she learned to watch her salt intake at a young age. According to the American Heart Association, 97% of children eat too much salt, resulting in a predisposition to high blood pressure.
  • Find alternatives to salty snacks. If you wait until you’re 40, your habits will be very hard to break. Children learn from what their parents eat, and this creates a cycle that that is hard to stop.
  • Cut back on processed foods. More than 75% of our sodium intake comes from processed foods—canned, frozen and otherwise prepared; condiments, mixes, pickles, soups, tomato sauce and any prepared meals. Check the labels of products and look for low-sodium versions. Better yet, cook from scratch—dried beans vs. canned beans (which have added sodium), for example, and fresh herbs to add flavor usually filled by the far cheaper salt.
  •  

    seared-yellowfin-tuna-maldon-davidburkefromagerie-230

    It’s not the salt you can see, it’s the salt you can’t see, hidden in purchased foods (prepared foods, packaged foods, restaurant meals). Photo courtesy David Burke Fromagerie.

  • Cut back on salt in your own cooking. Use half as much as recipes require, and see how you feel. Augment with a product like LoSalt (more information below).
  • Cut back on restaurant meals. You’ll never know how much hidden salt is in each dish. Single items sold by fast food restaurants can typically have 2,000 mg of sodium. If you need to eat out for convenience, ask for your protein to be grilled without salt, or head for a plate of sashimi with low-sodium soy sauce or a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  •  

    TIP: WHEN USING LOTS OF SALT IN THE KITCHEN IS A GOOD IDEA

    Salt can be used to extinguish a grease fire. Pour salt on the flames; never use water. We keep a large salt server with kosher salt on our stove to add pinches in cooking, but also to help in a crisis. (Yes, we also have a fire extinguisher.)

    ABOUT LOSALT

    LoSalt, a tasty alternative in the reduced-sodium category, has 66% less sodium than regular salt. This is achieved by using a ratio of 33% sodium chloride and 66% potassium chloride.

    As long as you don’t need to avoid extra high levels of potassium (e.g. endocrine or kidney disorders), this natural ingredient is a good filler. Consult with your healthcare advisor to be sure it’s O.K. for you.

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