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Archive for August 1, 2015

FOOD FUN: Watermelon Sushi

We just finished National Watermelon Month (July), but National Watermelon Day is coming up on August 3rd. Here are two ways to enjoy it that may not yet be in your repertoire.
 
WATERMELON SUSHI ROLL

Mango has been a familiar ingredient in sushi rolls for years. But it’s summertime, the season for for watermelon.

In the spirit of eating seasonally, Haru Sushi substitutes fresh watermelon for the mango in a roll made with snow crab, green onion and mint. It’s topped with shrimp and served with a lemon dressing in addition to (or instead of) soy sauce.

If you want to make something similar at home, cantaloupe and honeydew work equally well.

Haru pairs the Watermelon Roll with Watermelon Lemonade, a sweet-tart blend of lemon-infused vodka, saké, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur (a NIBBLE favorite), fresh watermelon, lemon juice and thyme-infused simple syrup. The recipe is below.

   

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Watermelon combines with conventional ingredients in this sushi roll. Photo courtesy Haru.

 
If you’d rather have someone make them for you, head to one of Haru’s five locations in Manhattan and one in Boston.

And if you’d like to know the different types of sushi better, check out our Sushi Glossary.

RECIPE: WATERMELON LEMONADE

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 5 fresh watermelon cubes
  • 1½ ounces Absolut Citron vodka
  • ½ ounce St.-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce thyme-infused simple syrup
  • Soda water to fill
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: thyme sprigs wrapped with lemon peel, skewered (see photo above)
  •  
    For The Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
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    It’s not so innocent: This watermelon lemonade has watermelon and lemonade, but also citron vodka and elderflower liqueur. Photo courtesy Haru.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: Combine the thyme, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the thyme from the syrup and refrigerate in an airtight container.

    2. MUDDLE the watermelon cubes in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients (except garnish) and ice, and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds

    3. POUR into a tall, ice-filled glass. Garnish with thyme and lemon peel.
     
    THE HISTORY OF WATERMELON

    Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus, is believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa (it covers much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa). An ancestor of the modern watermelon still grows wild there.

    Watermelon is a member of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. Its cousins include cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins and squash.

     
    Watermelons are about 92% water—that’s how they got their English name. In ancient times, travelers carried watermelons as a substitute for potable water, which was not easy to find.

    Watermelon was cultivated as early as 2000 B.C.E. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt. You can tell how much the Egyptians enjoyed watermelon: Seeds were found in the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, so his farmers could grow it in the afterlife.

    Thirsty traders passing through the Kalahari, refreshed by the fruit, began to sell the seeds along the trade routes. The cultivation of watermelon spread throughout Africa.

    Most culinary historians believe that watermelon spread from Egypt to other Mediterranean basin countries on merchant trading ships. According to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, the word first appeared in English dictionaries in 1615. Watermelon seeds came to the U.S. with African slaves as well as with British colonists.

    Watermelon was cultivated in China and other parts of Asia by the end of the 9th century C.E. or the early 10th century. Today China is the world’s number one producer of watermelon, Turkey is the second-largest producer and Iran is third. The U.S. is the world’s fourth-largest producer of watermelon, tied with Brazil.

    Watermelons come in a variety of shapes and sizes: Oval, round, even square, developed in Japan for smaller refrigerators. The flesh can be red or yellow; botanists have also developed varieties with orange and white flesh and even this multicolored blue-green watermelon.
     
    Here’s more about watermelon history, nutrition and tips.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Our 20+ Favorite Ways To Use Mustard

    National Mustard Day is the first Saturday in August—which happens to be today. The holiday was initiated in 1988 by a mustard lover named Jill Sengstock, and was taken under the wing of the National Mustard Museum in 1991. If you’re anywhere near Middleton, Wisconsin, you can join in the day of mustard-centric family activities (or is that family-centric mustard activities?).

    Mustard has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, beginning in India in 3000 B.C.E. It grew wild in the foothills of the Himalayas.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans used mustard as a condiment; some actually chewed the mustard seeds with their meat. Egyptian pharoahs were buried with seeds to use in the afterlife.

    Fast forward: By the 1400s, mustard had spread through Europe, with each region making its own style. Mustard came to the U.S. with European immigrants. Mustard came to America in the 1700s and immigrants established mustard businesses. The style of the day was strong, spicy and brown, but later, the yellow “ballpark” mustard style was born in the U.S.A. Here’s more history of mustard.

       

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    Five of the 20+ types of mustard made
    by Maille Mustard.

     
    Today, there are dozens of different types of mustard—far beyond the all-American yellow mustard (like French’s), brown mustard (Chinese mustard, like Colman’s), Dijon (like Grey Poupon) and whole grain (like moutarde à l’ancienne—one variety, moutarde de Meaux, is called the “king of mustards” by connoisseurs).

    For National Mustard Day, commit to trying any of these you aren’t familiar with, plus a flavored mustard. Beyond honey mustard, look for Roquefort mustard, tarragon mustard and walnut mustard—three of our favorites.

    20+ WAYS TO USE MUSTARD

    Beyond hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches, mustard is a natural complement to many foods. Before we start the conventional list, take a look at this first course: gravlax with mustard ice cream. There’s no sugar in the ice cream, just novelty. Think of it as a cold mustard cream sauce!

     

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    Pâté with whole grain mustard (also called grainy mustard and in French, moutarde a l’ancienne). Photo courtesy Dusek’s |
    Chicago.

     
  • Barbecue: The essential in South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce, and a help to tomato-based barbecue sauces, to cut the sweetness.
  • Butter: Blend mustard with butter and lemon for a compound butter topping for toast, grilled meat or sauteed meat and seafood.
  • Canapés: Spread a base of bread or cucumber with a flavored mustard, then top with cheese, pâté, meat or other ingredients.
  • Charcuterie: As a condiment with bacon, ballotines, confits, galantines, ham, pâtés, sausages and terrines.
  • Cheese: Serve mustard as a condiment with strong cheeses (more about cheese condiments).
  • Chicken: Mustard brightens chicken stews and makes a delicious glaze for chicken breasts and wings.
  • Dip: Serve it straight or mixed with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt, with crudités, chips, fries and pretzels. Mustard is also an ingredient in beer and Cheddar dips. You can also add it to a Mexican queso dip.
  • Eggs: Mustard adds complexity to deviled eggs. It also makes a delicious sauce for poached eggs.
  • Fish: Sturdy fish like salmon and tuna are wonderful with a mustard crust. As a glaze, brush it on salmon fillets before broiling or on tuna before searing. Here’s a recipe for a mustard glaze for fish.
  • Glaze: In addition to fish, glaze chicken, ham, pork and lamb.
  • Grilled meats: Use mustard as your condiment for meats (including sausages) and poultry.
  • Ground Meat & Seafood: Add a spoonful along with other seasonings, to burgers, crab cake, meat loaf, etc.
  • Mussels: Swirl mustard into lager-steamed mussels and garnish with dill. Here’s a mussels and mustard recipe from Pierre Franey, chef of the legendary (and belated) Le Pavillon restaurant in New York City.
  • Mustard Sauce: Here’s a recipe for mustard sauce.
  • Pan Sauces: After sautéing chicken breasts or searing steaks, whisk the fond (the browned bits at the bottom of the pan) with a splash of wine and a dollop of mustard, into a tasty sauce.
  • Pasta: Add acidity to a cream sauce for pasta with a spoonful of mustard. Make a butter-mustard sauce for noodles with grainy mustard.
  • Potatoes: Add a spoonful of mustard to mashed potatoes. Then top it with crumbled bacon and minced chives or scallions! Add Dijon mustard to a gratin; add a bit to a sour cream or yogurt sauce for potatoes and vegetables.
  • Roasts: To create a beautiful crust for a leg of lamb, pork loin or turkey breast, rub it with an herb mustard before roasting.
  • Salads: Add a spoonful to the “protein” salads—chicken, egg, ham, tuna—and the side salads—cole slaw, potato salad and macaroni salad.
  • Sandwich Spread: Mix mayonnaise with mustard, half and half or to taste. It adds flavor and cuts the calories and fat of the mayo in half.
  • Soup: Add a spoonful to a pot of dull soup.
  • Tartar Sauce: Here’s a zingy recipe from Colman’s.
  • Vinaigrette: A mustard dressing is a classic with salad greens, but it’s also delicious with roasted vegetables (try it with parsnips and turnips!).
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    Thanks to Colman’s Mustard for some of these yummy ideas. Click the link for recipes.

      

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