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Archive for February, 2017

TIP OF THE DAY: Breakfast Salad

Breakfast Salad

Breakfast Salad

Granola Breakfast Salad

[1] Bacon and egg over Caesar Salad. [2] Deconstructed Eggs Benedict: poached egg, julienned Canadian bacon and English muffin crouton atop a mixed green salad. [3] Romaine, apples and grapes with a honey-yogurt dressing, topped with granola (all photos courtesy Food Network; the recipes are below).

 

We first heard of breakfast salad in 2014. Someone sent us a recipe, but it got lost in the shuffle.

In the ensuing two-plus years, the concept has spread. So if you’re ready to move on from the last breakfast trend—overnight oats—here’s a roundup of the latest.

Breakfast salad is a fusion of conventional breakfast items with salad greens or other raw or cooked vegetables. Example: bacon and eggs on a lettuce wedge, or yogurt and fresh fruit salad atop mesclun greens.

For years we have served what we never thought to call “breakfast salad”: an omelet topped with lightly dressed baby arugula and watercress; and for brunch, poached egg on top of a frisée salad with lardons, or on top of a Caesar salad.

So we decided to take a look at what other people were eating. We found:

  • Some were following the breakfast food-and-greens or vegetables concept.
  • Some were serving up fresh fruit atop greens.
  • Some were throwing an egg on top of a grain bowl.
  • Some were featuring luncheon salads (Cobb, spinach-egg-bacon) for breakfast.
  • Some were medleys of cooked vegetables (bell peppers, potatoes, root vegetables) with chickpeas for protein.
  • Some were featuring sandwich ingredients (smoked salmon and avocado) atop greens.
  • Some served what we would call side salads breakfast salads (diced squash and pomegranate arils atop greens, with some almond butter in the dressing).
  • Some tossed greens atop avocado toast.
  • Some even featured a liquid salad, i.e., a green smoothie.
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    BREAKFAST SALAD RECIPES

    We decided to go purist. Here are some recipes that fit our bill of breakfast salad fare:

  • Bacon & Egg Breakfast Caesar Salad, the egg yolk served cooked on top of the salad instead of raw in the traditional Caesar dressing.
  • Egg, Sausage & Avocado Breakfast Salad.
  • Eggs Benedict Breakfast Salad, deconstructed Eggs Benedict.
  • Frisée Salad With Eggs & Bacon (what’s frisée and another recipe).
  • Greens, Grapes & Granola Breakfast Salad, romaine, apples and grapes tossed with a yogurt dressing and garnished with granola.
  • Grilled Wedge Salad With Fried Egg & Cranberry Feta Cheese.
  • Potato Breakfast Salad, an opportunity to eat pan-fried potatoes with some egg white and chickpeas for protein.
  • Quinoa, Ham & Pepper Breakfast Salad, a Western Omelet deconstructed on top of quinoa (or greens, if you prefer).
  •  
    Do you have a favorite breakfast salad recipe? Please share!

    And feel free to eat breakfast salad for lunch or dinner. The concept is no different from an omelet or any luncheon salad.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Find A CSA & A CSF

    Oops: We missed National CSA Day, which was held this year on February 24th.

    It’s a floating holiday, the last Friday in February, so it’s a different day each year. Our calendar of food holidays, first created in 2005, doesn’t accommodate variable dates, so it served up today’s date.

    Still, CSAs deserve as much attention as they can get, so today’s tip is:

    Head to the CSA DAY website and find a CSA near you.

    You can also check on LocalHarvest.org.

    If you currently browse farmers markets for the best local produce, the next step is to join a CSA and have the farmers market come to you (not literally).

    WHAT’S A CSA

    CSA stands for community supported agriculture, which is a direct-to-customer business model for farmers.

    The concept originated in Europe and Asia in the 1980s as an alternative financing arrangement, to help sustain small-scale farmers.

    It was first adopted in the USA by a some biodynamic farmers in Massachusetts, in the mid 1980s. They coined the term CSA.

    The concept spread, and more and more food enthusiasts became excited to have the freshest produce while supporting local small farmers.

    In a CSA, farmers and consumers bypass commercial supply lines (middlemen, warehouse storage) and deal directly with each other.

    HOW A CSA WORKS

    In a CSA, the consumer buys a share of a farm’s output in the form of a weekly (or biweekly) box filled with freshly harvested produce.

    In the traditional CSA model, participants pay for a season’s worth of produce (called a membership or a subscription), in advance. The CSA member then receives a box of fruits and vegetables every week throughout the harvesting season.

    This model helps stabilize the farm’s income. It’s a boon for small family farms, which get ash in hand to run the farm when they most need it (in advance having something to harvest and sell). The farmer commits to give the best a committed set of customers.

    In return, members receive a weekly box of locally-grown produce. The contents differ each week and members never know what they’ll get, but seasonal harvests root vegetables in the fall, tomatoes and berries in the summer, etc.

    Some people join a CSA for the freshest fruits and vegetables, to support local farmers and to know where their food comes from. Each farmer selects his/her own model, but in general:

  • You can buy a whole-share or a half-share.
  • You can get weekly or biweekly boxes.
  • With some farmers, the members can pick and choose what they wants in the box).
  • Some farmers offer add-on farm products like bread, eggs, honey and flowers.
  • Members can cancel at any time.
  • Some farmers invite members to visit and help work the farm.
  • Some farmers drop off the boxes at central locations in the community; others can deliver to homes and offices.
  • Shares are reasonable, generally about $30, depending on region.
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    CSF: A CSA FOR SEAFOOD

    There are also CSFs—community supported fisheries—that use the CSA model to support their small, local fisheries. Use this locator to find one near you.

    Members support sustainable, transparent supply chains of ethically sourced or captured fish.

     

    CSA Box

    CSA Box

    CSA Box

    CSA Box

    Fresh-Caught Fish

    [1] Farmers pick what’s ready, shortly before delivery (photo courtesy Halas Farm). [2] Boxes get packed and labeled at the farm, then trucked to the delivery spots (photo courtesy Driftless Organics). [3] and [4] You open the box, and decide what to make with the week’s bounty (photos courtesy Urban Tilth and The Chef’s Garden). [5] A similar concept for fish delivers the fresh catch (photo courtesy Inhabitat | Shutterstock).

     

    As with CSAs, you get the most local, most fresh products: “from dock to dish,” as the motto goes.

    Here’s more about CSFs.

    CSAs: HOW YOU BENEFIT

  • You get the freshest food: pulled from the ground or off the tree right before you get. It hasn’t been sitting in cold storage or traveling for weeks by boat.
  • You get organic produce (not all farms are organic), and non-GMO varieties.
  • You become more green by keeping down your total food miles.
  • You make a conscious choice to support the small farmers, which keeps open farmland in your area.
  • You become part of a community with reverence for the land.
     
    The fun aspects include:

  • The surprise of what’s in the box.
  • The impetus to try foods you normally don’t buy.
  •  
    And if there’s something in the box that you absolutely won’t eat, score points by gifting fresh produce to a neighbor, teacher, etc.
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Seafood Gravy With Biscuits Or Toast

    Biscuits & Gravy

    Biscuits & Oyster Gravy

    Fried Egg, Biscuits & Gravy

    Biscuits & Gravy Recipe

    Shucked Oysters

    [1] Elevate your biscuits, like these kabocha sage biscuits. Here’s the recipe from Betty S. Liu. [2] Simple oyster gravy. Here’s the recipe from Anson Mills. [3] Put an egg on it (photo courtesy Pillsbury). [4] Surf and turf: oyster gravy over ham and biscuits (photo courtesy Pillsbury). [5] Shucked oysters. Your store may also sell a container of shucked oyster meats (photo courtesy The Spectator Hotel).

     

    Biscuits and gravy is a popular breakfast dish in the southern United States, a comfort food of biscuits smothered in sawmill or sausage gravy (see the different types of gravy, below).

    It’s a hearty gravy, made from the drippings of cooked pork sausage, white flour, milk, and often bits of sausage, bacon, ground beef or other meat. The meat gives heft to the dish as a main dish.

    Last year we featured biscuits and gravy as a Tip Of The Day. Check out a classic recipe and the history of biscuits and gravy.

    This week, Anson Mills sent us a recipe for oyster gravy on toast, using their local Sea Island oysters. It sure is an improvement on butter or jam.

    If fish for breakfast sounds strange, think of:

  • American shrimp and grits, bagels and lox, smoked salmon scramble (a.k.a. lox and eggs), and brunch dishes like seafood quiche or frittata and crab casserole and smoked salmon Eggs Benedict.
  • British kedergee—smoked fish with rice and eggs (based on the Indian khichri, from the days of the Raj).
  • Chinese congee (porridge).
  • Japanese grilled fish*.
  • Scandinavian smoked fish and pickled fish.
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    GRAVY CULTURE

    Time out for an accolade: Anson Mills, founded by food visionary Glenn Roberts, has managed to reclaim America’s heirloom grains from oblivion. Bred for flavor, not for efficiency and profit, whatever products bear their name are the best of breed.

    If you want the best, or know someone who does, take a look. You’ll be overwhelmed at the riches, so be prepared to return.

    Says Glenn Roberts: “We won’t quibble with anyone outside our region over Southern ownership of gravy culture. But we will go to the mat defending the high art and undervalued virtues of seafood gravy.

    “Stop and think about it: When was the last time you heard anyone talk about seafood gravy? When did you last hear someone utter the phrase ‘gravy culture’?”

    Oyster Gravy Recipe

    Seafood gravy “flowed exclusively from the Sea Islands of Carolina and Georgia,” says John. About the oyster gravy recipe, he elaborates:

    “…This recipe is really about secret ingredients within a lost cannon of Sea Island slave food culture: one from the big house larder, the other from hidden gardens.

    “From the big house, the aforementioned beurre manié—made with local butter and white lammas wheat flour grown on the Sea Islands—to thicken this gravy and create a silk and satin finish to match the voluptuousness of fresh shucked oysters.”

    In his recipe, the deglazing liquid is white wine and the flour is added at the end, in the form of beurre manié (a mash of flour and butter).

    And, he serves the oyster gravy over toast (photo #2), in the manner of another old breakfast favorite, creamed chipped beef on toast. But biscuits are an easy substitute.

    Here’s the recipe. Try it for breakfast or brunch, or:

  • As a first course at dinner.
  • As a tea-time snack, instead of tea sandwiches.
  • When you need some comfort food, more elegant than mac and cheese.
  • Whenever life gives you a bounty of oysters.
  • As surf-and-turf, topping a slice of ham on the biscuit.
  • With specialty biscuits, like these sage and kabocha squash biscuits, or these dill biscuits with smoked salmon.
  •  
    Which Oysters To Use?

    The freshest ones! If you live on or near one of the coasts, ask for the best. Size doesn’t matter since you’ll be quartering them. Any plump, briny-aroma oysters will do.

    Anson Mills chose local oysters, but you can make seafood gravy with any fish or shellfish or snails. Or, order the best oysters, whole or already shucked, from Willapa Oysters.

    Seafood Gravy

    Fish gravies are parts of global cuisines from Indian fish curries to African fish gravy, a breakfast and dinner dish.

    TIP: You can add oysters or other seafood to a hearty mushroom gravy recipe.

    DIFFERENT TYPES OF GRAVY

    Gravy is a category of sauce made in its simplest form from flour (a thickener), fat (and pan drippings) from meat and poultry and seasonings (salt and pepper). Vegetables can be added, as well as wine and additional thickeners, such as cornstarch.

    The word originally referred to a sauce made from the drippings (fat and uses) from cooked meat and poultry, there are now vegetarian and vegan gravies, and gravies that add milk or buttermilk, even tomato.

    Jus (pronounced ZHOO), is the French term for a meat gravy that has been refined and condensed into a clear liquid.

    All gravies are sauces, but not all sauces are gravy.
     
    In classic American cooking, gravies are white or brown. Popular gravies include:

  • Brown gravy, made with the drippings from roasted meat or poultry.
  • Cream gravy is the white gravy used in Biscuits and Gravy and Chicken Fried Steak. It is a béchamel sauce made with meat drippings and optionally, bits of mild sausage or chicken liver. Other names include country gravy, milk gravy, sawmill gravy, sausage gravy and white gravy.
  • Egg gravy is a béchamel sauce that is served over biscuits, essentially cream gravy with a beaten egg whisked in. The egg creates small pieces in the gravy.
  • Giblet gravy is a brown gravy that includes the giblets of turkey or chicken, and is served with those fowl. It is the traditional Thanksgiving gravy.
  • Mushroom gravy is a brown or white gravy made with mushrooms.
  • Onion gravy is made from large quantities of slowly sweated, chopped onions mixed with stock or wine. Commonly served with bangers and mash, eggs, chops, or other grilled or fried meat which by way of the cooking method would not produce their own gravy.
  • Red-eye gravy is a gravy made from the drippings of ham fried in a skillet, a Southern specialty served over biscuits, grits or ham. The pan is deglazed with coffee, and the gravy has no thickening agent.
  • Vegetable gravy is a vegetarian gravy made with boiled or roasted vegetables plus vegetable stock, flour and fat. Wine and/or vegetable juice can be added.
  •  
    And let’s not forget our favorite dessert “gravy”: chocolate sauce, made with fat (butter), flour, cocoa powder and sugar.
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    *A traditional Japanese breakfast is what Americans might order or dinner at a Japanese restaurant: rice, grilled fish, miso soup, pickles and a Japanese-style omelette (tamago). Here’s more information.

      

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    RECIPE: Chocolate Sea Salt Almonds

    February 25th is National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day.

    While you can easily head to the nearest store to pick up some chocolate-covered nuts, nut clusters or turtles, chocolate-covered nuts are something that you can easily make at home.

    Prefer to buy them?

    Our favorites are the Triple Chocolate Almonds from Charles Chocolates, coated in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and cocoa powder.

    They’re also made in Mint Chocolate Almond and in Dark Chocolate Hazelnuts.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE-COVERED SEA SALT ALMONDS

    The recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction, a wonderful place to find delicious baking ideas.

    Prep time is 25 minutes, plus setting time; total 1 hour.

    Ideally, use the 3-pronged tool from the chocolate tool set to lift the nuts out of the chocolate pool and shake off the excess chocolate. We used fondue forks; but if we make these again, we’re going for the chocolate tools.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, high quality*/li>
  • 1 and 1/2 cups raw, unsalted whole almonds*
  • Sea salt
  • Turbinado sugar or other raw sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST the almonds by spreading them on a large baking sheet; bake for 10-12 minutes in a preheated 300°F oven. Allow to slightly cool before coating with chocolate.

    2. LINE a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

    3. MELT the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in a heat-proof bowl at 30-second increments. Stir every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.

    4. STIR the almonds into the chocolate, making sure to coat each one. Using a dipping tool or a fork, lift the almonds out one by one. Gently tap the fork against the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, and place the nut onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining almonds.

    5. SPRINKLE the almonds with a bit of sea salt and turbinado sugar. Allow the chocolate to completely set. You can place the baking sheet in the fridge to speed up the setting.

    6. STORE the almonds in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, in an airtight container.

     

    Chocolate Covered Almonds

    Chocolate Covered Almonds

    Sally's Candy Addiction

    [1] Warning: addictive!. Photo and recipe © Sally’s Baking Addiction. [2] For you or a friend: Sally’s Candy Addiction, the cookbook. [3] Our favorites to buy, Triple Chocolate Almonds from Charles Chocolates.

     
    ________________

    *Dark, milk, white: Use whatever chocolate you prefer, as long as it’s a premium brand. Ditto with the nuts: You can substitute hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, mixed nuts, etc.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Aïoli, The Original, The Modern & A Party

    Aioli Dip With Seafood

    Basil Aioli

    Aioli Platter

    Saffron Aioli

    Habanero Aioli

    [1] As a sauce or dip with boiled potatoes (photo courtesy Quinciple). [2] Tarragon aïoli as a dip with shrimp (here’s the recipe from Real Simple). [3] Le Grand Aioli: make a platter for your next gathering (here’s a story from Edible Seattle). [4] Just open the jar and use these flavorful aïoli from Delicious And Sons: Basil Lemon Aïoli and Saffron Orange Aïoli. [5] Southern Europe meets South America: Habanero Aïoli from Salsa Maya (remember that in Spanish, salsa is a generic word for sauce).

     

    Americans eat a lot of mayonnaise, but not enough aïoli: garlic mayonnaise.

    The word is pronounced eye-OH-lee from the French word for garlic, ail (pronounced EYE).

    What we think of as a bread spread is used as a dip and sauce from Catalonia (the northeast tip of Spain; think Barcelona) through Provence (Marseilles along the coast through Toulon, Cannes, Nice and Monaco.

    It hopped the border of Monaco to the Liguria region of Italy. It spread to the south of Catalonia to Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia and eastern Andalusia, and offshore to the Balearic Islands. It crossed the sea to Malta.

    In fact, mayonnaise was invented in France by the great chef Marie-Antoine Carême, around 1800. You may think of mayo as a spread, but it was created as a sauce (the history of mayonnaise).

    But before then, the original sauce was made with just garlic and olive oil, which, by the way, was not an easy combination to emulsify into a sauce in the centuries before blenders.

    Later, possibly inspired by Carême’s mayonnaise, Provençal cooks incorporated egg yolks and lemon juice and voila: a richer, more flavorful, more stable mixture than mashed garlic and olive oil. (When you look at your food processor or blender, remember that everything prior to modern times was done in a mortar and pestle.)

    There are numerous seasoning variations. In France, it can include a bit of Dijon mustard. In Malta, some tomato is added.

    Everywhere, aïoli is served at room temperature.

    Ingredients vary by region, too. Catalan versions leave out the egg yolk and use much more garlic. This gives the sauce a more pasty texture, while making it considerably more laborious to make as the emulsion is much harder to stabilize.
     
    AÏOLI USES

    Yes, you can put it on your sandwich or burger; but aïoli can be used instead of mayonnaise anywhere, from canapés to to dips to potato salad.

    You can even plan a luncheon or dinner party around it. And you can buy it or make it.

    Then, serve it:

  • With escargots, a French favorite.
  • With fish and seafood: boiled fish (in France, cod and aïoli are a popular pair), bourride (Provençal fish soup).
  • In the U.S. with broiled, poached or grilled fish and shellfish, crab cakes, shrimp cocktail
  • Spread on hard-cooked eggs.
  • On vegetables, especially artichokes, asparagus, boiled potatoes and green beans.
  • As a substitute for butter, oil or vinaigrette.
  • Fries!
  • Salted boiled potatoes and bay leaf (a Ligurian specialty).
  • Mixed into chicken salad, egg, tuna and potato salads.
  • As a crudités dip.
  • On Mexican corn (elote).
  •  
    SERVE LE GRAND AÏOLI

    In Provence, Le Grand Aïoli (a.k.a. Aïoli Garni or Aïoli Monstre) is a special-occasion dish consisting of boiled vegetables (artichokes, beets, carrots, green beans, potatoes); salt cod or other poached fish, snails, canned tuna, other seafood; hard-boiled eggs, and a large dish of aïoli.

    In Provence, the dish is served in a celebration around August 15th, after the garlic has been harvested. If you like the idea, plan an occasion.

    You don’t have to wait until August. A room-temperature dish, Le Grand Aïoli delightful in the spring or summer with a lightly-chilled Côtes de Provence rosé or a red Bandol.

    If you like crème de cassis (cassis liqueur, made from blackcurrants), it’s a local product; so serve a Kir or Kir Royale as an aperitif.
     
    AIOLI HISTORY

    Aioli, aïoli, alhòli, aiòli or allioli, arjoli or ajjoli: Depending on the country and region, they are different spellings for a Mediterranean sauce (in southeastern Spain, it’s called ajoaceite or ajiaceite).

    Made of garlic and olive oil—two staple ingredients of the area—the name means garlic and oil in Catalan and Provençal.

     
    There are numerous flavored mayonnaises. Since the expansion of specialty food producers in the late 1980s, it became fashionable for producers and chefs to call all flavored mayonnaises—basil, chili, cilantro, red pepper, saffron, etc.—aïoli.

    While purists insist that only the garlic-seasoned recipe should be called “aïoli,” we think, logically, that as long as there’s garlic in the recipe, it can still be called aïoli. Consumers will understand.

    Otherwise, you’ll find even purer purists who insist that only the original garlic-oil sauce—no egg, no lemon juice—be called aïoli.

    RECIPE: A QUICK AÏOLI WITH STORE-BOUGHT MAYONNAISE

    If you want to make your aïoli from scratch, here’s a recipe.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil or other herb*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • Pinch salt
  • Optional: 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon olive oil (to thin)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLANCH the basil in boiling water for 15 seconds. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    2. REFRIGERATE, covered, for at least 1 hour or overnight, to allow flavors to meld.

    ________________

    *If you want a spice instead of an herb, season to taste.
     
      

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