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Archive for January 12, 2017

TIP OF THE DAY: Poach Your Proteins

Poaching Salmon

Poached Tenderloin

Poached Chicken

Poached Salmon

[1] Poaching salmon is the easiest way to enjoy moist, tender fish, without cooking fish aromas. Here’s a recipe from Cooking Light. [2] Our favorite way to make beef tenderloin is to poach it. Here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart. [3] If you make chicken in a pot, or chicken soup with pieces of chicken, you’ve poached a bird. Here’s a recipe from Enki Village. [4] Our first poaching attempt was inspired by classic French dish (here’s the recipe from Buck Cooks).

 

Poaching food is a topic that doesn’t come up much these days.

The age-old moist-heat cooking technique simply submerges raw food in a liquid. The technique cooks the food without pulling the moisture from it: The protein is moist, never dry.

The food cooks at a relatively low temperature (about 160°–180°F), which is especially good for delicate foods (eggs, fish) that might fall apart or dry out with other cooking methods.

Heartier foods—an entire beef tenderloin or chicken—work equally well.

Decades ago, when we tried to master the art of French cooking, we purchased a large, oblong fish poacher, a pan created to poach a whole fish.

Cold poached salmon was a mainstay of French cuisine, served with dill sauce and marinated cucumbers. We loved it and ate it regularly, at the numerous classic French restaurants that graced New York City back then. It looked easy to make, and it was.

But we subsequently discovered that serving it nicely takes a bit of training. The captains at the French restaurants new how to cut neat slices, avoiding the bones. Our salmon looked like it had been hacked by starving hordes. Sigh.

We stuck the poacher in the cupboard (until, 10 years later, we learned to poach an entire beef tenderloin, a cinch tot slice), and stuck to poaching fillets. They require zero skill to serve.

START POACHING TODAY

Just about any food can be poached, poaches up moist and flavorful, and can be served warm or cold.

Poaching proteins are an easy and healthy preparation; all your healthcare providers and trainers approve. Poaching has:

  • No added fat.
  • No unwanted aromas drifting through the house.
  • No “watching the pot” (or the grill).
  • Clean-up is easy: nothing sticks to the pan.
  •  
    Bonus:

    You end up with an extra dish, or part thereof.

    The poaching liquid becomes a delicious broth that can be served later, thickened into a sauce, or used in other recipes.

    WHAT’S IN THE POACHING LIQUID?

    The poaching liquid can include whatever flavors you want, from the base to the add-ins.

    Our wine editor, Kris Prasad, who taught us to poach a tenderloin, advised: “Toss in whatever you have: leftover wine, herbs, soy sauce instead of salt, a splash of balsamic, citrus juice or vinegar for tartness. Anything works.”

    The poaching liquid can be:

  • Water or stock/broth
  • Milk, as appropriate
  • Plain or blended with wine (including leftover sparkling wine), beer, dry vermouth, fruit juice
  • In terms of add-ins: Add in whatever flavors you like, from classic mirepoix—carrots, celery, onions—and fresh herbs, to the less obvious—cardamom, cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole nutmeg, etc.

     
    There are recipes galore online, and plenty of videos on YouTube, for anything you might want to poach.

    Don’t wait to try them: You may discover that poaching proteins is your favorite food discovery of the year.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Kale & Chocolate, Kale As A Steak Garnish

    Since it became a media darling in 2011, kale has found its way into every type of recipe imaginable. Even chocolate bars.

    Compartes Chocolatier in Los Angeles makes artisan chocolate bars with what have become more or less mainstream add-ins: Brownie, Coconut Macadamia, Coffee & Cacao Nibs, Crispy Rice, Matcha, Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel, Salted Pretzel, Smoked Sea Salt and Whisky, among others.

    Some are quite fun: Animal Cookies, Cookies & Cream, Granola, Malt Ball, Piña Colada, Popcorn, S’mores.

    There are the “seen here first” flavors, the chocolate bars taking a cue from trendy cupcakes: Birthday Cake, Biscuits & Honey, Cereal Bowl, Donuts and Coffee, Hazelnut Toast.

    And then there’s the Vegan* Zen Bar, a 75% dark chocolate bar filled with kale crisps, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, and no added sugar.

    Check it out here.

    While not particularly edgy, a second kale preparation that caught our eye was this chopped kale and herb garnish on a strip steak, from Upper Story restaurant in New York City.

    The balsamic-glazed steak sits on a bed of sautéed greens and garlic smashed potatoes, with a Port sauce and fried onion rings.

    Not exactly health food, but the kale makes it on trend.

    Until the “next kale” hits the store shelves.
     
    WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO WITH KALE?

    While cooks have been using kale on everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to pesto, here are some more fun applications:

  • Chocolate Banana Smoothie With Kale
  • Kale & Black Bean Brownies
  • Kale Enchiladas
  • Kale Guacamole
  • Kale Pizza
  • Mean Green Kale Margaritas
  •  

    Kale Chocolate Bar

    Strip Steak With Kale

    [1] A chocolate bar with kale crisps, seeds and no added sugar from Compartes (the bar has no Brussels sprouts and tomatoes; they are just photo props). [2] A New York strip steak topped with chopped kale and herbs, at Upper Story | NYC.

     
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    *Most dark chocolate bars have no added powdered milk. Most mix-ins—nuts, fruits, etc.—are not animal-based. If you watch out for those sweetened with honey or with added bacon, for example, a dark chocolate bar naturally contains no animal products and therefore is vegan.

      

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