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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cheese/Yogurt/Dairy

TIP OF THE DAY: Prosciutto & Peaches

prosciutto-peaches-charliepalmer-briscola-230sq

Peaches with prosciutto and a drizzle of
balsamic, from Briscola by Charlie Palmer in
Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort.

 

Juicy summer peaches beg to be enjoyed in as many ways as possible. For a delicious first course or a dessert, pair them with prosciutto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar—an update to the classic melon or figs with prosciutto.

To amp up the first course, add fresh chèvre and some lightly dressed mesclun.

You can also replace the prosciutto with serrano ham. Here’s the difference.

Serve the dish with prosciutto-friendly Italian white wines such as Italian Moscato, Pinot Grigio or Prosecco; or look northward and grab an Alsatian-style Pinot Gris, Gewürtztraminer or Riesling.

WHAT IS PROSCIUTTO

Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham; specifically a dry-cured, uncooked ham that is aged for 400 days or longer. It originated in the hills around Parma, Italy.

 

 

The pigs are fed a special diet of whey and grains, and the hams are trimmed and massaged with natural sea salt before aging. Prosciutto is served in thin slices, showing off rosy-colored meat with a pearl-white marbling of fat.

Prosciutto di Parma, called Parma ham in English, is made from only two ingredients—pork leg and sea salt. What makes a great prosciutto is the artisan curing that creates prosciutto crudo (raw prosciutto, distinguished from cooked ham, or prosciutto cotto).

The pork leg is carefully hand-rubbed with salt. It then passes through a series of curing rooms of different temperatures and humidity levels.

Prosciutto made in the Parma and Langhirano areas of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna province is D.O.P.-protected by the European Union (in English, it’s D.P.O. or Domaine of Protected Origin). Prosciutto from other cities is also D.O.P. protected, but Prosciutto di Parma is the most famous export.

Prosciutto-style products are made elsewhere in the world. La Quercia, in Iowa, is a fine domestic producer.

 

proscuitto-laquercia-murrays-230


American-made prosciutto from LaQuercia in Iowa. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

 

MORE WAYS TO ENJOY PROSCIUTTO

Prosciutto is served plain as part of an antipasto or appetizer plate. In Italy, restaurants serve prosciutto in overlapping folded-over slices with bread or bread sticks as an appetizer, or wrapped around melon slices, with dates, figs or pears.

The ham is incorporated into many recipes: wrapped around chicken, rolled with veal scallopini and diced into pasta and risotto. Find recipes at ParmaHam.com.

But if you want to enjoy it as an Italian ham sandwich—on crusty baguette-style bread with arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella or provolone and a sprinkle of vinagrette—we think it’s an improvement on the American version.

A drizzle of honey or some honey mustard also works.

  

Comments

RECIPE: Blue Cheese BLT Sandwich

blt-blue-cheese-castelloUSA-230

Add blue cheese for a tangy twist to the BLT.
Photo courtesy Castello.

 

We’ve had chicken salad BLTs and turkey BLTs, but were only recently inspired by Castello USA to make this blue cheese BLT.

It’s a lovely a new take on a BLT:

  • Blue Castello (or other rich, creamy blue cheese)
  • Sliced heirloom tomatoes
  • Arugula
  • Bacon
  • Mayonnaise
  • On a toasted baguette
  •  
    You can make it vegetarian by substituting Baconnaise [a NIBBLE favorite] or Nasoya’s Nayonaise and optional vegan bacon, such as Smart Bacon from Lightlife.

    Enjoy it open face or not, with a cold beer.

     

    It may be the perfect sandwich to enjoy over July 4th holiday: It’s red (tomato), white (bread and blue cheese) and blue (blue cheese again).

    You can apply the same principle to the red, white and blue burger in the photo below, adding a slice of red onion.

     

    Other “patriotic” ways to serve blue cheese and tomatoes (you can subtsitute peppadews or red bell pepper):

  • Bagel with blue cheese/cream cheese spread (mix half and half), tomato and red onion
  • Blue cheese nachos (with red salsa)
  • Breakfast omelet or scrambled eggs (use halved cherry or grape/pear tomatoes—and add red onion)
  • Blue cheese-stuffed peppadews
  • Fruit and cheese plate, with red apples and grapes
  • Green salad with red onion, tomato and blue cheese garnish
  • Grilled cheese and red apple panini
  • Plain Greek yogurt with red onion, tomato and blue cheese toppings
  • Stuffed radicchio or red endive leaves (mash blue cheese with a bit of mayo or yogurt)
  •  

    blue-cheese-burger-castello-230

    Red, white and blue burger. Photo courtesy Castello.

     
    MORE RECIPES FROM CASTELLO

    Castello has a long heritage of making creatively crafted cheese in Denmark. Each type of cheese is made at a single dairy, which specializes in the production of that particular cheese.

    There are many more more delicious recipes with all of Castello’s cheeses at CastelloCheese.com.

    We especially earmarked:

  • Baked Apples With Blue Cheese (Recipe)
  • Blue Cheese-Pineapple Souffle (Recipe)
  • Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Sandwich (Recipe)
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Plate With Bacon

    cheese-carpaccio-w-bacon-castello-230

    A cheese course with bacon. Photo courtesy
    Castello.

     

    Thanks to Castello, a Danish producer of classic cheeses, for this cheese plate inspiration. The cheese is sliced into thin, carpaccio*-like slivers.

    For the cheese course, Castello used its Castello Alps Selection Classic, an Alpine-style cheese (the category of semifirm cheeses that includes Appenzeller, Gruyère, Raclette and Vacherin Mont-d’Or, among others).

    It’s easy to make.

  • Fry up the bacon, ideally a specialty brand such as Edwards, Niman Ranch or Nueske.
  • If you have a mandoline, use it to slice the cheese into carpaccio-like pieces. Otherwise, slice cold cheese as thinly as you can.
  • You can turn it into the salad course by adding some lightly dressed mesclun or frisée.
     
    *Carpaccio is a dish of raw meat or fish, thinly sliced or pounded thin and typically served mainly as a first course.

  •  
    RECIPE: CHEESE PLATE “CARPACCIO” WITH BACON

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 ounces (100 g) semihard cheese, very thinly sliced
  • 4 bacon slices, cooked and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 lemon wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ARRANGE cheese and optional salad on two plates. Add bacon.

    2. TOP with capers. Sprinkle cheese with olive oil and fresh-cracked pepper.

    3. ADD the lemon wedges and serve.

     

    WHAT IS SEMIHARD CHEESE?

    Semihard is a classification of cheese based upon the body of the cheese, based mainly on the moisture content. Most semihard (and hard) cheeses are pressed during production to remove moisture. As they age, they become firmer, more pungent and crumbly.

    What about semisoft cheeses? Semisoft cheese contains more than 45% water, while semihard cheese contains 30% to 45%. A cheese can start as semisoft, then move to semihard as it ages and moisture evaporates.

    Because semihard cheeses contain less moisture than the soft and soft-ripened types, they hold their shape much better and can be easily sliced—a requirement for the recipe above.

    The semihard category includes a broad range of textures and ages, from semifirm to very firm and from cheeses that are only weeks old to those aged for several months or more.

     

    castello_alps_classic-230

    Use Castello Classic or other Alpine-style or semihard cheese. Photo courtesy Castello.

     
    Examples include Abondance, Appenzeller, young Asiago, Beaufort, Caciotta, Caerphilly, Cantal, Cheddar, Cheshire, Colby, Comté, Danbo, Derby, Edam, Emmental, Fontina, Fontinella, Gjetost, Gloucester, aged Gouda, Gruyère, Idiazabal, Jarlsberg, Lancashire, Leicester, Leyden, Manchego, Provolone, Raclette, Saint Nectaire, Tête de Moine, Queso Blanco and Wensleydale, among others. So you’ve got lots of choices for the cheese plate “carpaccio.”

    Find more of the different types of cheese in our Cheese Glossary.

    Learn more about Castello cheeses, and check out the delicious recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE SAY: Season Your Feta

    feta-beauty-eatwisconsincheese-230

    Feta, plain and seasoned. Photo courtesy
    EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    If you enjoy a homemade Greek salad or other recipes accented with feta cheese, here’s how to make them even better:

    Roll the feta cheese in dried or fresh herbs before cutting into cubes or strips, or crumbling. It adds instant flavor and dimension. For starters, consider basil, chives, cracked black pepper, dill, oregano and thyme. If you like heat, consider red chili flakes.

    While you’re at it, develop your own signature Greek salad recipe by adding complex flavors and textures beyond the classic six ingredients: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, feta, Kalamata olives and stuffed grape leaves.

    RECIPE: CLASSIC GREEK SALAD

    Ingredients

  • Romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
  • Tomatoes, cut into wedges (or cherry tomatoes)
  • Cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • Red onion or sweet onion, sliced
  • Bell pepper, sliced into strips or diced into squares
  • Radishes, sliced
  • Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves)
  • Anchovies/sardines
  • Feta, cut into cubes or crumbled
  • Kalamata olives
  • Peperoncini
  • Capers
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Oregano plus optional dill and/or flat-leaf parsley
  • Dressing: extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  •  
    The one thing you don’t need is salt: Feta, which is cured in brine (salt water), has enough on its own.

    In Greece, the dish is horiatiki, which translates into country, peasant salad or rustic salad.

    Serve it with crusty peasant bread and a dish of good olive oil for dipping.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOSS lettuce with bell pepper, black pepper, capers, cucumber, herbs olives, radishes and tomato.

    2. DRESS with oil and vinegar/lemon juice if desired (or serve dressing separately). Plate.

    2. TOP with anchovies/sardines, feta and peperoncini.
     
    WHAT IS FETA CHEESE

    Feta is Greece’s most famous cheese*, a pure white, aged curd cheese that crumbles easily. While the cheese has been made since antiquity, the modern name came into the Greek language in the 17th century, from the Italian word fetta, slice, referring to slicing the cheese from the brick.

    Authentic feta is a sheep’s milk cheese, or a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milks. Outside of the European Union, where it is protected designation of origin (PDO) product, it can also be made of cow’s milk. The cheese is semi-hard, with a flavor that can range from mild and milky to salty with a very tangy acidity.
     
    *Other Greek cheeses.

     

    greek-salad-its-all-greek-to-me-book-230

    Feta cheese with olives, a drizzle of olive oil and bread: a delicious mezze (appetizer). Photo by Frente | Wikimedia.

     

    Authentic feta is formed into bricks and salted and cured in a brine solution. It is aged in wood barrels for 60 days, creating a creamy, tangy cheese with citric notes.

    Only 2% of the feta consumed in the U.S. actually comes from Greece. Much of it is saltier feta from Bulgaria and other countries. Some feta is simply too salty. You can soak oversalted pieces it in water or milk to remove some of the saltiness.

    Find more favorite types of cheese in our Cheese Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit & Cheese Bites

    dried-apricots-parmigianoreggianoFB-230r

    Dried apricot and Parmesan “sandwiches.”
    You can sandwich almost any cheese
    between the fruit. Photo courtesy
    ParmigianoReggiano.com | FB.

     

    Fruit and cheese is a popular dessert in Europe’s best foodie countries, including France and Italy. But you don’t need to put together a platter. We found this quick idea on the Parmigiano Reggiano Facebook page.

    Make fruit and cheese “bites.” Stuff dried apricots, fresh or dried figs or other dried or fresh fruits with a piece of cheese—with anything from creamy goat cheese to salty, tangy Parmigiano Reggiano.

    These suggestions from EatWisconsinCheese.com provide pairing ideas along with drink ideas beyond the conventional beer, red or white wines most people serve with cheese:
     
    Soft-Fresh Cheeses
    Cheeses: Chevre, Feta, Mascarpone, Ricotta
    Fruits: Figs (fresh, dried or stewed), Fresh Peaches, Plums
    Garnishes: Pistachios, Toasted Almonds or Walnuts*, Fruit Jam
    Drinks: Chenin Blanc, Green Tea
     
    *Raw nuts have a slight bitterness. The best way to serve nuts with cheese is toasted or candied/caramelized. Almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts go best with cheese.

     
    Soft-Ripened Cheeses
    Cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Other Double Crèmes
    Fruits: Dried Apricots
    Garnishes: Dried Cherries or Cranberries
    Drinks: Cherry Kriek, Kir Royale, Lillet (fortified wine)
     
    Blue Cheeses
    Cheeses: Cabrales, Danish Blue, Gorgonzola, Roquefort
    Fruits: Dried Apricots, Figs (fresh or dried, or any dried fruit), Stone Fruit, Apples
    Garnishes: Caramelized Hazelnuts or Walnuts, Dried Cherries or Cranberries, Honey, Fruit Jam, Membrillo, Toasted Almonds
    Drinks: Chocolate Stout, Gin Gibson

     

    Semisoft Cheeses
    Cheeses: Fontina, Havarti, Monterey Jack, Muenster
    Fruits: Apples, Pears (fresh, dried or spiced and preserved), Quince
    Garnishes: Toasted Hazelnuts or Walnuts, Tomato Jam, Vegetable Tapanade
    Drinks: Gewürtztraminer, Kirsch Royale (with Champagne)
     

    Hispanic Cheeses
    Cheeses: Asadero, Cotija, Queso Bresco
    Fruits: Dried Apricots or Figs
    Garnishes: Toasted Nuts
    Drinks: Cava, Mead (honey wine), Mexican Beer
     
    Semihard Cheeses
    Cheeses: Cheddar, Edam, Gouda
    Fruits: Dried Apricots, Honeycrisp Apples, Pears
    Garnishes:Caramelized or Toasted Nuts, Jams/Compotes (apricot, blueberry, fig, quince)
    Drinks: Ale (especially fall’s spiced ales), Riesing, Small Batch Bourbon, Sparkling Cider

    Alpine/Swiss Cheeses
    Cheeses: Comté, Gruyère, Emmenthaler
    Fruits: Any Dried Fruit
    Garnishes: Toasted Nuts
    Drinks: Lambic, Manhattan Cocktail

     

    comte-figs-compteUSAfb-230

    Fresh figs with Comté wraps. Photo courtesy Comté USA | FB.

     
    Hard Cheeses
    Cheeses: Asiago, Grana Padano, Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano
    Fruits: Dates, Figs (fresh or dried)
    Garnishes: Fig Jam, Honey, Membrillo, Toasted Almonds or Marcona Almonds
    Drinks: Sparkling Prosecco, Nebbiolo
     
    MORE ABOUT CHEESE

    Check out our delicious Cheese Glossary and much more about gourmet cheeses.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Creme Fraiche, Mascarpone, Sour Cream

    creme-fraiche-in-pail-beauty-vtcreamery-230

    In photos, four cream-based products look
    alike. But the flavor, weight and production
    techniques differ. Vive la différence! Photo
    courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    Cream is easily whipped into a delicious topping or filling. With a bit more effort at the dairy, it can be turned into enriched creams, including clotted cream, crème fraîche, mascarpone and sour cream. Each has its own distinct character, each is a gift to people who love a bit of richness.

    IT STARTS WITH MILK

    Cream starts with milk, a suspension of whey proteins, casein proteins and globules of fat in water. The largest amount of the suspension is fat, which is also the lightest component. If the milk is not homogenized, it rises to the top to a rich cream layer. The longer the milk sits at warm temperatures (which speed separation), the richer and thicker the cream becomes.*

    Cream can also be thickened by fermenting with Lactobacillus bacteria, which is how three of our four featured, enhanced creams are made.

    In the U.S., the raw milk is heated (pasteurized) and the fat (cream) is separated (leaving nonfat milk). It can then be processed into different products:

  • Clotted cream/Devon cream, which relies on boiling and resting time to thicken (double cream is similar to clotted cream but with a higher fat content).
  • Crème fraîche, cream cultured/thickened with Lactobacillus bacteria, a lighter, thinner alternative to sour cream†.
  • Mascarpone, the Italian version of crème fraîche, but thicker and sweeter, soured by a lactic culture or an acid like vinegar or cream of tartar.
  • Sour cream, cream that gets its sharp, tart edge by adding Lactobacillus culture.
  •  
    *Historically, dairy farmers skimmed the cream from shallow pans of milk, let it sit again, and did this repeatedly to get the richest cream. Modern dairies use massive centrifuges to perform the same task in seconds (and produce creams with a consistent percentage of milk fat).

    †Note that depending on the producer, crème fraîche can be thicker than sour cream, or vice versa.
     

    The three cultured creams all have a delightful, piquant edge. We like them even better than the simple, often-too-sweet whipped cream, to garnish chocolate cakes and other sweet, rich desserts.
     
    MILK FAT COMPARISONS

    These comparisons help to explain the difference among products created from milk. Note that the percentages are averages; different dairies can manage their recipes to include more or less fat. (Note that milk fat/milkfat is the same as butter fat/butterfat.)

  • Nonfat milk: 0%-1% fat
  • 1% and 2% milk: 1%-2% fat
  • Lowfat milk: 2%-4% fat
  • Whole milk: 4% fat
  • Half-and-half: 12%-15% fat (it’s half milk, half cream)
  • Sour cream: 18%-20% fat
  • Light cream: 18%-30% fat
  • Heavy cream (whipping cream): 30%-36% fat
  • Crème fraîche: 35%-40% fat
  • Heavy whipping cream: 36%-44% fat
  • Manufacturer’s cream: 44% fat or higher (not available in consumer markets)
  • Double cream: 43%-48% fat or higher
  • Clotted cream/Devon cream: 60% fat
  • Mascarpone: 70%-75% fat
  • Butter: 80%–84% fat
  •  
    CLOTTED CREAM or DEVON CREAM

    Heavy whipping cream is warmed gently to a near boil, so the fat globules float to the top and form a firm layer. It is then left to cool for a day. This is the famed clotted cream of Devon and Somerset, England: a very rich, thick delight of about 60% milk fat, with flavors both creamy and buttery.

    Clotted cream is popularly enjoyed with fruit preserves on scones, on other baked goods, or as a topping for fresh fruit.
     
    CRÈME FRAÎCHE

    Developed in France, crème fraîche (pronounced crehm fresh) is an often-thinner form of sour cream, with a more delicate texture and tartness.

    Cream is gently heated and then inoculated with bacterial cultures. The bacteria consume the cream’s natural sugars, producing lactic acid in exchange. This gentle acidity thickens the cream and imparts a mild, refreshing tang (less tang than sour cream because the amounts of the bacterial cultures used are far fewer).

    Crème fraîche is used as a topping, in sauces and other recipes. Aside from the celestial taste, the best thing about crème fraîche is that it can be heated and used in sauces without curdling.

    And, you can make it at home. Here’s a crème fraîche recipe; a quicker alternative is to blend equal amounts of heavy whipping cream and sour cream.

     

    MASCARPONE

    Mascarpone takes a third approach to thickening cream. The result is the richest, sweetest and most luscious; and spoonable, spreadable mascarpone is actually classified as a fresh cheese (a triple-crème).

    The cream is brought to a simmer until approximately a third of its original volume has evaporated. Then, an acid ingredient such as vinegar or cream of tartar is mixed into the warm, extra-rich cream. The acidity causes the cream to congeal to a thick, almost stiff texture, while retaining its mild and creamy flavor. It is the thickest and richest enriched cream, at 70%-75% milk fat.

    Mascarpone is intensely rich and used for desserts (cannoli filling, tiramisu, cheesecake, with fresh fruit) as well as in savory recipes (dips, sauces, spreads). It is often called “Italian cream cheese,” but the two products are technically different.

     

    mascarpone-berries-230

    Mmm, mmm, mascarpone! Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    SOUR CREAM

    To make sour cream, cream is fermented by lactic acid bacteria, which sours and thickens the cream. The production of lactic acid by bacterial fermentation is called souring. The taste of sour cream is only mildly sour—tangy would be a better word.

    Sour cream is used in recipes and as a garnish. When Little Miss Muffet ate her curds and whey, she was enjoying cottage cheese. We’d have topped it off with sour cream, which is how we enjoyed cottage cheese before we made the diet switch to nonfat yogurt.
     
    YOGURT

    Yogurt is milk—not cream—that is fermented with Lactobicillus bacteria. It can be used as sour cream is used, to cut back on cholesterol (fat) and calories.

    Some material in this article was adapted from GlobalPost.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Poached Egg With Lentils & Arugula

    lentils-poached-egg-theculinarychronicles-230

    A delicious trio of tastes: poached eggs,
    lentils and arugula. Photo courtesy
    CulinaryChronicles.com.

     

    We love to discover new food blogs and introduce our readers to their bounty. Today, we’d like to present a recipe from Nam of Culinary Chronicles. We encourage you to visit her blog for more.

    Nam used Safest Choice pasteurized eggs in this recipe. Pasteurized eggs are recommended in dishes that use raw eggs without further cooking (Caesar salad, mousse and steak tartare, for example). In this recipe the eggs are fully cooked, so pasteurized eggs are a nice luxury.

    Consider this tasty trio of protein, legume and green, leafy vegetable for weekend brunch or lunch, and a celebration of National Egg Month (see all the May food holidays).

    RECIPE: POACHED EGGS OVER LENTILS &
    ARUGULA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, thoroughly washed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup lentils
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 cups fresh arugula leaves
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese shavings
  • Quality extra virgin olive oil
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter with the olive oil in a heavy bottom pot, over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, leeks and garlic. Sauté until softened but not browned—about 5-7 minutes.

    2. ADD the red chili flakes, thyme sprigs, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the lentils and then pour in the wine. Continue simmering until the wine has reduced and is nearly evaporated.

    3. ADD the vegetable stock and bay leaf and bring the liquids to a boil. Partially cover the pot and reduce to a simmer. Cook the lentils for about 25-30 minutes or until tender. While the lentils cook…

    4. BEGIN POACHING the eggs. Fill a separate pot 3/4 full of water and bring to a rolling boil. Pour in the vinegar and slightly lower the heat. Crack one egg into a small bowl. Take a spoon and swirl it around quickly in the pot to make a whirlpool in the water. Slowly pour the egg into the center of the whirlpool. The movement of the whirlpool will help the egg form but you can also use a spoon to help it along.

     

    arugula-salvatica-wild-burpee-230

    There are different varieties of arugula available. We prefer baby arugula, which has just enough pepperiness and none of the bitterness of some other varieties. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    After about 2 minutes…

    5. USE a slotted spoon to remove the egg and set aside in a warm bowl of water. Cook the eggs just under of how you’d normally like your eggs. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Once done, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low to keep the water hot.

    When the lentils are tender…

    6. REMOVE the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Drain any excess stock that may remain. Season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Toss the lentils with the arugula leaves and use a slotted spoon to plate into 4 dishes. Using the slotted spoon…

    7. DIP each poached egg into the pot of hot water to rewarm it. Gently blot them dry with a paper towel and place on top of each lentil mound. Place Parmesan cheese shards over plate and drizzle the tops with a bit of the olive oil. Garnish with additional thyme sprigs and serve immediately.

     
    FOOD TRIVIA: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PARMESAN AND PARMIGIANO REGGIANO

    In the European Union, Parmigiano-Reggiano is a D.O.P.-protected term that can only be used by members of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano, which approves each and every wheel of cheese as meeting the highest Consorzio standards (substandard cheeses are removed from the process before aging concludes).

    However, in 2008 the E.U. also defined the term “Parmesan” to refer to the genuine Consorzio cheeses. Prior to then, Parmesan referred to Parmigiano-Reggiano-style cheeses made outside the D.O.P.-designated regions of Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy. Thus, within the E.U., Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano are the same cheese. (Why ask why?)

    In the U.S. and other parts of the world, the word “Parmesan” is not regulated. A cheese labeled as Parmesan in the U.S. is a domestic cheese approximating Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    Why is the word capitalized? It’s an editorial choice. Both Parmesan and Parmigiano are adjectival forms of Parma, the city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna where the cheese originated. We would apply the same style, for example, to an Iowan cheese or a Chicagoan cheese (as opposed to an iowan cheese or chicagoan cheese).

    Here’s more about Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gougères, An Elegant Hors d’Oeuvre

    gougeres-pancetta-thyme-fontina-gougeres-aidamollenkamp-230

    Fragrant, warm and irresistible. Photo
    courtesy Chef Aida Mollenkamp.

     

    Gougères (goo-ZHAIR) are airy French cheese puffs, savory choux pastry that is mixed with grated cheese and baked.

    The cheese is most often a hearty Swiss mountain cheese: Gruyère, Comté or Emmentaler and a hint of nutmeg is added to the recipe. Served warm from the oven, gougères are simple yet elegant hors d’oeuvres—a perfect choice to serve with Champagne, other sparkling wine, or any wine or craft beer.

    In fact, we received the recipe below from Moet et Chandon, courtesy of Cooking Channel’s Aida Mollenkamp.

    There are many variants of the recipe, from plain cheese to mix-ins. Here, Chef Mollenkamp adds pancetta and fresh thyme, and opts for a mix of Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fontina cheeses instead of one of the Swiss cheeses.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, total time is 50 minutes. And it’s worth it! You may want to double the recipe in case your crowd clamors for more. (You can freeze any extra dough.)

     

    PANCETTA, THYME & FONTINA GOUGÈRES

    Ingredients For 32 Cheese Puffs

  • 4 ounces pancetta, cut into small dice
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk or water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs plus 1 yolk, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 ounces shredded Fontina cheese
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 375°F and arrange racks in the upper and lower third. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.

    2. PLACE pancetta in a medium nonstick frying pan and cook until crisp. Remove pancetta to paper towel-lined plate and set aside to drain. Meanwhile…

    3. COMBINE 1 cup of the milk or water with the butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, dump in all the flour, and stir vigorously until flour is incorporated. Cook, stirring constantly, until dough comes together in a ball and feels dry to the touch, about 2 minutes.

    4. TRANSFER dough to a food processor fitted with a blade or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Pulse or beat in five of the eggs, one by one, letting each egg completely incorporate before adding the next. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the Parmigiano cheese then add pancetta, remaining cheese, and thyme; pulse or mix on low until thoroughly incorporated.

     

    gruyere-roth-kase-230

    The versatile Swiss cheese Gruyère, named after the Swiss town of Gruyères. Photo courtesy Emmi Roth USA.

     

    5. DROP tablespoon-size portions of dough on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart. Whisk remaining egg yolk with the remaining 1 tablespoon milk and brush tops of cheese puffs then evenly sprinkle reserved Parmesan cheese over top.

    6. PLACE in oven and bake, rotating halfway through, until puffed and golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. (Can be made up to 4 days ahead. Store, covered, at room temperature.)

    TIP: Freeze the pancetta for 5 to 10 minutes to facilitate dicing. If you can’t find pancetta, use Canadian bacon or cooked ham instead (don’t crisp it in the pan, though).
     
    MORE GOUGÈRES

    Here’s a classic gougères recipe with Gruyere and nutmeg.

    Goat cheese fans: Substitute a semi-hard chèvre.

      

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    RECIPE: Egg-Stuffed Peppers

    We’re always looking for new brunch recipes. This one, a different take on stuffed peppers from Heidi of FoodieCrush.com, lets you prep ahead and let the oven finish the dish.

    “Colorful, sweet bell peppers are the mainstay of the show,” says Heidi, “but the flavor melds of butternut squash with thyme and sweet hint of brandy are what makes this meal memorable.”

    RECIPE: BAKED EGGS IN STUFFED PEPPERS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 sweet bell peppers, red, orange or yellow
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  •  

    Baked-Eggs-Peppers-FoodieCrush-GoBoldwithbutter-230

    A refreshing variation on stuffed peppers. Photo courtesy FoodieCrush.com | Go Bold With Butter.

  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into a large dice, about 2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

    2. CUT peppers in half and remove ribs and seeds. Place cut side up in shallow microwave safe bowl or dish. Add 1/3 cup water to bowl. Sprinkle peppers with kosher salt and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

    3. HEAT large skillet over medium high heat and melt butter and olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring after 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add butternut squash, thyme leaves and kosher salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add brandy.

    4. RETURN to heat and cook for 4-5 more minutes until brandy has cooked down and squash has softened and is easily pierced with a fork. Keep warm and add Ricotta and Feta cheese. Taste and season with more salt if desired.

    5. POUR marinara sauce in bottom of 9 x 12 inch baking dish. Place peppers cut side up and spoon 1/2 to 3/4 cup of butternut squash mixture into each pepper, creating a hollow for egg. Bake peppers and squash mixture for 10 minutes or until warmed through. Remove from oven.

    6. CAREFULLY BREAK egg into small ramekin or measuring cup and slowly pour into each pepper taking care not to overflow egg. Repeat until each pepper is filled. Season with freshly ground black pepper and bake peppers for 10-12 minutes or until whites of eggs are set. Serve each pepper with marinara sauce and extra feta cheese as desired.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Egg-spressions

    May is National Egg Month. How many of these egg-spressions do you use?

    This content was developed by Dictionary.com, one of our favorite resources for words and word fun.

    Egghead

    This term entered English as a reference to a bald person. But it gained traction in the 1952 presidential campaign as a pejorative term for “intellectual,” used to describe Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson (who was bald) and his followers. Stevenson responded cheekily, “Via ovum cranium difficilis est,” roughly translated as “the way of the egghead is hard.”
     
    Egg Someone On

    This expression, meaning “to incite or urge; encourage,” has nothing to do with eggs. Instead, it derive from the Old Norse word eggja with a similar verbal meaning.
     
    Egg Sucker

    A flatterer or sycophant.
     
    Go Suck An Egg

    American slang, meaning “get lost.”

     

    farmers-eggs-pullet-freshdirect-230

    Originally, “egghead” referred to a bald person. Photo courtesy Fresh Direct.

     

     

    1079140_sxc-AndreaKratzenberg

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Photo
    by Andrea Kratzenberg | SXC.

     

    Have Egg On One’s Face

    This expression conveys humiliation or embarrassment, resulting from having said or done something foolish or unwise. It came into usage in the mid-1900s, and its origins are uncertain. One theory is that it evolved from teenage slang, and that it referenced a messy manner of eating that might leave food around one’s mouth.
     
    Lay An Egg

    This expression means to be unsuccessful, especially in front of an audience. Its origins are obscure, but its association with failure had been firmly established in the lexicon by the early to mid-1900s, as evidenced by Variety magazine’s famous headline from October 30, 1929, the day after the stock market crash: “Wall St. Lays an Egg.”

     
    Nest Egg

    This phrase been around since the late 1500s. When it entered English, it referred to an actual egg placed in a nest to induce a hen to continue laying eggs; it was often used in figurative contexts to refer to an object used as a decoy or an inducement. Today, it refers to money saved for emergencies, retirement, etc.

     

    Put All One’s Eggs In One Basket

    English speakers have been using this turn of phrase, if not heeding its wisdom, since the mid-1600s. This idiomatic expression means to venture all of something that one possesses in a single enterprise. It is often used in negative constructions, such as “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” to caution against the risk of such behavior.

     
    Teach Your Grandmother To Suck Eggs

    This curious expression emerged in the 1700s, meaning to presume to teach someone something that he or she knows already (i.e., elders know more than their juniors imagine). Its first recorded use was Henry Fielding’s “Tom Jones,” published in 1749.
     
    Walk On Eggs

    This expression means to walk or act very cautiously, especially so as not to offend or upset anyone. The expression first appeared in the 1740s as “trod upon eggs.” By the mid-1800s, people were walking on eggshells in addition to eggs. Around 1990 this changed, and the expressions “walking on eggshells” skyrocketed in use, while “walking on eggs” waned in popularity.

      

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