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Archive for September, 2014

TIP OF THE DAY: Kohlrabi

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Violet kohlrabi. There’s also a light green variety. Photo courtesy The Good Eggs.

 

You’ve just gotten used to kale. Are you ready for another cruciferous vegetable, kohlrabi?

A member of the powerful anti-carcinogenic Brassica family (formerly Crucifera), which also includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips and others) to emerge on mainstream menus in a big way.

Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea), also called German turnip or turnip cabbage. It tastes like cabbage but is sweeter. The flavor has been described as a cross between apples and mild turnips, to broccoli stems with a hint of radish and cucumber. What look like bulbs, beet-shaped, are actually swollen stems that grow just above the ground.

Kohlrabi typically is served cooked in Europe. But American chefs and recipe developers, understanding how much we enjoy crunchy foods, have taken to serving it raw:

 

  • Shaved, julienned or cut into disks or matchsticks as a salad garnish.
  • Shredded or julienned and dressed as “kohl slaw,” mixed purple and green kohlrabi, mixed with shredded cabbage and carrots, etc.
  • Cut into cubes or wedges, marinate in vinaigrette and served with toothpicks instead of crudites.
  • Cut into batons, cubes or wedges and pickled in your favorite pickling recipe, and served instead of cucumber pickles or other pickled vegetables.
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    Flavor & The Menu, which covers food trends for chefs, encourages the preparation of hot kohlrabi dishes as well. Their recommendations:

  • Add cubes or wedges to meat-based soups and stews.
  • Braise the mild green tops using your favorite greens recipe. The leaves are a milder version of collards.
  • Julienne and stir fry.
  • Quarter, oven roast and toss with butter and herbs.
  • Shave and deep fry or bake for kohlrabi chips.
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    Green kohlrabi. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     
    KOHLRABI HISTORY

    Although it has been cultivated for several thousand years, the first written record of the domesticated plant dates to Greek and Roman times, when it was a popular garden vegetable.

    According to Wikipedia, kohlrabi was bred into other Brassica cultivars, including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

    The name derives from the German words kohl, cabbage and rabi, turnip. This unusual looking vegetable originated in northern Europe and was not known 500 years ago. Kohlrabi did not become known in the United States until 1800. Kohlrabi tastes like cabbage but is sweeter.
     
    FINDING KOHLRABI: If your regular grocer doesn’t carry it, head for the nearest farmers market.

      

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    RECIPE: Zucchini Nachos, “Healthy Nachos”

    Zucchini Nachos

    Replace the tortilla chips with zucchini slices.
    Photo courtesy The Pampered Chef.

     

    Here’s some food fun that makes better-for-you “nachos.” Replace replace the salt-and-refined-carb tortilla chips with slices of grilled zucchini. The recipe is courtesy The Pampered Chef.

    RECIPE: ZUCCHINI NACHOS

    Ingredients

  • 3 large zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
  •  
    Optional Toppings

  • 1 large avocado, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
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    Preparation

    1. HEAT a grill to medium for 3 to 5 minutes. Cut the zucchini into ¼”-thick rounds, ideally using a crinkle cutter.

    2. TOSS the zucchini in a bowl with enough oil to moisten, plus salt and pepper to taste. Place zucchini in a single layer in a grill pan or directly on the grill. Cook 4 to 6 minutes, turning once, until tender.

    3. SPRINKLE with ½-cup shredded cheese and cook until the cheese is melted, about one minute.

    4. ARRANGE nachos on a platter and add toppings: half (or more) of the black beans, chopped tomato and other favorite toppings. Squeeze with lime juice and serve immediately.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Better Coffee…& Mocha Truffles

    One hundred million Americans drink coffee daily. Sixty-eight percent of us have a cup within the first hour of waking up. (Here are more coffee statistics.)

    So for all of us making our first cup at home—from ground beans, not K-Cups—here are some helpful tips from Melitta Coffee:

    1. Buy coffee weekly. Once coffee is ground or the vacuum can is opened, coffee begins to grow stale in about 24 hours. To slow this process, store coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. We use this Friis Coffee Vault.

    2. Don’t refrigerate or freeze the coffee. It will acquire moisture unless it’s stored in a moisture-proof and airtight container (like the Friis). While some “tips” say that you can freeze beans in airtight containers, the results won’t be glorious when you defrost them. Freezing coagulates the natural oils in the beans and crystallizes the moisture inside them, which adversely affects the flavor and aroma. In espresso, those oils need to emulsify to produce the body and mouthfeel of the coffee. So don’t be tempted buy jumbo-size bargains in coffee, unless you’re going to use it up quickly.

       

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    Have an extra cup today to celebrate National Coffee Day. Photo courtesy Derby Pie.

     
    3. Buy (or grind your own) extra fine grind coffee. When using finer grinds, it’s possible to use less coffee due to higher extraction levels. You get fuller flavor. Melitta recommends two level teaspoons per six ounces of water.

    4. Use paper filters to effectively trap bitter sediments. Cone shaped paper filters allow for full saturation of the grounds, but all good, quality paper will ultimately enhance the final cup more than gold or other metal filters.

    5. Drink coffee as soon as possible after brewing. If left on a burner, the coffee will continue to cook and starts to degrade in as little as 20 minutes.

    Another way to celebrate National Coffee Day is with a coffee or mocha dessert. Consider affogato, brownies, candy (we love these hard coffee candies), coffee ice cream, milkshake, mousse, panna cotta and tiramisu. Here’s a recipe collection from Folger’s.

    From Melitta, here’s a recipe for easy mocha truffles.

     

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    Mocha truffles: a marriage of chocolate and
    coffee.

     

    RECIPE: MOCHA TRUFFLES

    Ingredients For Approximately 50 Truffles

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 squares (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon rum or coffee liqueur
  • 1¼ cup chocolate wafer crumbs
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    Preparation

    1. CREAM butter and sugar thoroughly and add melted chocolate. Add coffee and rum; mix well. Chill for 3 to 4 hours, until mixture is firm enough to handle.

     

    2. DROP mixture by small teaspoonfuls and form into balls. Roll each in crumbs until well coated. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator, tightly covered.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: U.S. Coffee Drinking Statistics For National Coffee Day

    How about a cup or two of coffee drinking statistics for National Coffee Day, September 29th? This survey was conducted in July by Live Science.

    For starters, about 83% of adults drink coffee in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer of coffee, up from 78% a year earlier, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 online survey. That’s an average of three cups a day per person, or 587 million cups.

    Who’s Drinking Coffee & When

  • Total number of U.S. daily coffee drinkers: 100 million
  • Americans over the age of 18 who drink coffee every day: 54%
  • Percentage of U.S. coffee drinkers who claim to need a cup of coffee to start their day: 60%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who have a cup within the first hour of waking up: 68%
  • Percentage of coffee consumption that takes place during breakfast hours: 65%
  • Percentage of coffee consumed between meals: 30%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who drink 13 or more cups of coffee each week: 24%
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    Thirty-five percent of Americans drink their coffee black. Photo courtesy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

     

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    Thirty million Americans drink a cappuccino,
    latte, mocha or other specialty drink. Photo
    courtesy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Thermal
    glass cup from Bodum.

     

    How Americans Drink It

  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who prefer their coffee black: 35%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who add cream and/or sugar: 65%
  • Number of daily coffee drinkers who drink specialty beverages (lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, etc.): 30 million
  • Percent of coffee drinkers who go to premium places (Starbucks, Coffee Bean) when they get coffee: 34%
  • Percent of people who go to lower-price outlets (McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) when they get coffee: 29%
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    What Do We Pay For Our Coffee?

  • Average price of an espresso-based drink: $2.45
  • Average price for cup of brewed coffee: $1.38
  • Total average of money spent on coffee each year by coffee drinker: $164.71
  • Total amount of yearly money spent on specialty coffee in the U.S.: $18 billion
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    Find more statistics on StatisticBrain.com.

      

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    FOOD 101: What Are Hops?

    September 28th is Drink Beer Day. Only a few ingredients are needed to make beer; typically, barley malt, unmalted grain, hops, yeast and water.

    We were explaining to a friend that our favorite beers are heavily hopped IPAs. “What exactly are hops?” he asked.

    We turned to Samuel Adams, the pioneering craft beer brewer, and to USA Hops, a nonprofit organization of growers, for an education.

    A hop is a flower that looks like a soft, green pine cone. It grows on a long vine. The flowers are almost exclusively used as a brewing spice in the production of beer.

    But what’s important to the brewer is not the whole flower or the petals, but the lupulin glands inside, which contain a golden resin. This resin is the depository of the alpha acids necessary for the hops to impart their signature bitterness and flavor to the beer. It also acts as a natural preservative.

     

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    Hops on the vine. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

     
    In mass brews, hops lend bitterness and not a lot more. But craft brewers select very specific types of premium hops, for their special aromatic flavor qualities over their bittering value. Aroma hops, as they are known, have lower alpha acid levels and produce an array of complex flavors and aromas—from citrus and fruit to pine and eucalyptus.

    Like any agricultural product, the unique conditions of soil, moisture, elevation and sunlight of the particular field have a direct impact on the quality and character of the hops. Hop varieties grown in their original regions will impart different flavors when grown elsewhere. The “hop belt,” where the most flavorful hops thrive, falls along the 48th parallel.

    Each region’s hop varieties impart different flavors, from the aromatic piney notes in German hops to earthy ale hops in England and the citrus brightness of American hops.

    SOME HOPS HISTORY

    The oldest hop growing region in the world is located in Bavaria, a temperate region in southeast Germany, just west of the Alps (Munich is the capital). The local Noble aroma hops varieties, low in bitterness and high in aroma, are prized worldwide.

    The earliest beers weren’t made with hops. The earliest mention of hop growing dates only to 1000-1200 C.E. in Germany. Prior to hops, other bittering agents, from juniper to roots and pine, were used. None could create the layers of flavor that hops impart, and it was a lucky day when the first brewer tossed those green flowers into the brewing vat.

      

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