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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cooking

TIP: How To Remove That Burnt Popcorn Smell

October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. We love popcorn, a whole grain snack that’s low in calories when seasoned simply with spices and herbs. You can also use your FDA-sanctioned two daily tablespoons of heart-healthy olive oil.

But chief among our kitchen foibles is burnt microwaved popcorn. It not only imparts a horrendous lingering odor; it also stains the inside of the microwave with yellowish blotches. We sought help from

Ready to begin? Gather your weapons.

For The Odor

  • Fresh-ground coffee
  • White vinegar
  • Mug and small bowl as a saucer
    For The Stains

  • Dish detergent
  • Bowl or small bucket
  • Soft cloth or paper towels
  • Nail polish remover (100% acetone)
  • Soapy and clean water
  • Optional: rubber gloves
    Now get to work.


    Heirloom Popcorn Kernels

    Because burnt popcorn is so ugly, we elect to show only beauty, like these heirloom kernels. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.


    To rid your home of that burnt popcorn smell, there are two approaches: the coffee method and the vinegar method. Ground coffee absorbs odors, and vinegar neutralizes them.
    The Coffee Method

  • Fill a coffee mug or small bowl with 2 tablespoons of ground coffee and ½ cup of water. Set the cup in a small bowl to catch any overflow as it boils, and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the hot mug. Repeat as necessary with fresh ingredients.
    The Vinegar Method

  • Fill the bowl halfway with vinegar. Heat it in the microwave until it develops a good amount of steam. Stop the heating and let the steam diffuse for 10 minutes.
  • Wipe out the microwave with water and a soft cloth or paper towels. A vinegar smell may remain in the microwave, but it will dissipate in a day or two and is far more pleasant than the burnt popcorn smell.
  • If the odor gets into the vents of a microwave, it may just take some time to air out. If you can take it outside and open the microwave door to fresh air—or set it in front of an open window—do so.
  • To neutralize the smell in the kitchen, add half a cup of vinegar to a quart of water and simmer on the stove for a 10 minutes.You can also burn a cinnamon stick in an ashtray.
  • If the odor still lingers, check out the article, Removing Smoke Smells, on

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/popcorn beauty bellechevreFB 230r

    No burnt popcorn here! Photo courtesy Belle Chevre | Facebook.



    This method should remove most, if not all, of the discoloration of the inside walls of a microwwave.

  • Mix a few drops of dish detergent with hot water in a large bowl or small bucket. Dip the cloth in the soapy water and wring it out thoroughly.
  • Wipe down the inside and outside of the microwave to remove any surface dirt and grime.
    If you have manicured nails, put on rubber gloves for the next step:

  • With a clean cloth or paper towel, apply nail polish remover to the walls and scrub away the yellowish stains. Wipe any residue from the walls with the soapy water and rinse.
  • You may need to repeat a couple of times depending on the severity of the discoloration.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Channel Peeler

    Like to garnish? It’s one of the easiest ways to make everyday foods look special.

    For quick citrus peel garnishes, get a channel peeler (a.k.a. channel knife), an inexpensive kitchen gadget. (The channel peeler in the photo below is on sale for less than $6.)

    The channel knife was originally devised so that bartenders could easily peel citrus strips for cocktails. You can use the citrus peel—grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange—to make garnishes for everything you serve.

  • The small but sharp holes at the top head that remove the zest from the pith of lemons and other citrus fruits easily.
  • The lip underneath it peels wider, long strips the entire length of the fruit.
    Beyond citrus, you can cut strips from any firm fruit or vegetable: apples, cucumbers, zucchini, etc. The thin strands can be used to garnish anything, including:

  • Chops
  • Desserts
  • Fish
  • Green salads
  • Hot and cold beverages
  • Potatoes
  • Rice and grains
  • Vegetables

    orange peel garnish

    Orange peel “knots” garnish a cocktail. Photo courtesy Boulud | Boston.


    Channel Peeler

    A channel peeler or channel knife. Photo courtesy



  • Candy it.
  • Add it to cake or muffin batter.
  • Dry it to add to cookies, or to keep on the spice shelf.
  • Freeze it inside ice cubes.
  • Make gremolata.
    Longer strands can be knotted into fancy garnish, as in the photo above, a Cosmo from Bar Boulud in Boston.

    Extra peel can be frozen. Here’s more on zesting peel.

    And the next time someone requests a cup of tea with lemon, add a tablespoon of lemon peel instead.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Lemon

    Grilled Lemon Half

    A grilled lemon half with roast chicken. Photo courtesy The Fillmore Room | NYC.


    One thing we’ve been noticing at restaurants: grilled lemons. Instead of a plain lemon half to squeeze over food, the lemon comes nicely charred.

    Why? In addition to eye appeal, the heat from grilling or pan-charring a sliced lemon helps soften the juice sacs. The result: more juice spritzing onto your food.

    A grilled lemon also provides a bit of charred flavor. If you use a Meyer lemon, which is higher in sugar content, the cut surface will actually lightly caramelize. This makes its juice taste even sweeter.

    Grilled lemons are particularly tasty alongside other grilled or roasted foods—chicken, salmon or other fish and seafood, and vegetables.


    If you want a noticeable olive oil flavor on the lemon, use a strong olive oil; otherwise, go for a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed.


  • 1 lemon per 2 people, halved, top seeds removed
  • Cooking oil: canola, grapeseed, olive
  • Optional: sea salt


    1. HEAT a grill or frying pan over medium-high heat. Brush the cut sides of the lemon with oil and sprinkle with salt.

    2. PLACE the lemons cut side down on the grill/in the frying pan. Cook until the lemons are heated through and charred on the cut side, about 3 minutes.

    How easy is that?



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory Popcorn Garnish

    Before it was a popular snack, popcorn was a whole grain food. In Colonial times, it was eaten in a bowl with milk or cream, like modern puffed rice and other puffed cereal grains.

    In the 18th century, after the corn harvest, farmers would toss corn kernels, some fat and a little molasses into a cast iron pot. Voilà: the first kettle corn. (Today, special popcorn strains create big, fluffy kernels.)

    By the 1840s, corn popping had become a popular recreational activity in the U.S. By the 1870s, popcorn was sold in grocery stores and at concession stands at circuses, carnivals and fairs. The first commercial popcorn machine was invented in 1885; by the early 1920s, popcorn machines turned out hot buttered corn at most movie theaters.

    Here’s the history of popcorn.

    Considered a humble food accessible to all, it now used by fine chefs as a garnish for both sweet and savory food.

    Recently we featured an elegant savory corn custard, made from fresh corn and garnished with popcorn.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/popcorn garnish mac and cheese 230

    Add some whole grain popcorn to your mac and cheese,perhaps flavored garlic or jalapeño. Photo: DK.

    But a recipe doesn’t have to be made from corn—or be savory—to dazzle with a popcorn garnish. You can use popcorn as a fun food garnish.

    While a popcorn garnish is not yet ubiquitous, it has long been a standard on cheese and beer soup. Here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, who makes spicy popcorn for the garnish. But if you don’t have the time, plain popcorn works just fine.

    Any thick soup—bean, lentil, vegetable—is ready to wear a popcorn garnish; as is a bowl of chili.

    A second level of fun in using a popcorn garnish: You can flavor the popcorn to complement the dish. Just a sample of popcorn flavors you can pair:

  • Savory flavors: bacon-chive, garlic, herb, jalapeño, mustard, parmesan-rosemary, sesame, truffle
  • Sweet flavors: caramel/salted caramel, chocolate, cinnamon-sugar, maple, peanut butter, peppermint, pineapple-coconut
    If there’s a flavor you want, just toss it with popcorn. Here are 50 ways to season plain popcorn.

    You can also coat the popcorn in chocolate, or use purchased popcorn: chocolate-covered, chocolate-peppermint or maple for the holidays, and so forth.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/Carrot cake with Caramel and Popcorn honestcooking 230

    Use caramel corn or a popcorn/pecan praline mix to top a cheesecake or (shown above) a carrot cake. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy



    Beverages: Hot chocolate, on a cocktail pick, on milkshakes

  • Breakfast: Grits or other hot cereal with sweet or savory corn (cheese popcorn on cheese grits, anyone?), pancakes and waffles with caramel corn, yogurt and cottage cheese with sweet or savory popcorn
  • Lunch/Dinner: Chicken breasts, chili, fish fillets, mac and cheese, soups, salads, grains, stews
  • Desserts: Crème brûlée, cupcakes, ice cream (here’s actual popcorn ice cream), layer cake, pudding (especially popcorn pudding)
    If you’re not yet convinced, here’s a simple way to try out popcorn garnishes:

    The next time you roll down the supermarket snack aisle, check out the popcorn selection. Buy a savory (plain salted popcorn) and a sweet variety (caramel corn or kettle corn) and start using them as garnishes.
    *Leave off the butter and sugar, and season with spices or herbs, and you’ve got a fiber-filled, healthful snack.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

    From our friends at Good Eggs in San Francisco, here’s how to enjoy cherry tomatoes when the tomatoes are at their sweetest and the prices are at their lowest.

    Slow-roast them and all of that rich, summer tomato sweetness will get concentrated into each bite.

    Buy two or three times as many as you need this week—ideally, an assortment of red, orange and yellow. Set aside what you’ll use fresh. Then:

  • Slice the rest of the cherry tomatoes in half.
  • Place them cut-side up on a baking sheet or pan lined with a sheet of parchment. Slow roast at 225°F for three hours.
  • Let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Cover with olive oil if desired.
    But before those two weeks are up, you can easily use them up:

  • In scrambled eggs and omelets
  • On plain yogurt, with oregano and/or fresh basil and dill
  • On sandwiches and burgers

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/slow roasted cherry tomatoes goodeggs 230

    It’s easy to slow-roast a batch of cherry tomatoes. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/dried tomatoes crostini mixedgreensblog 230r

    Crostini with sundried tomatoes and fromage blanc. Photo courtesy Mixed Greens Blog.

  • In green salads and protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna, etc.)
  • On pasta and pizza
  • On canapés
  • On crostini (see photo)
  • As a colorful polka-dot-like garnish for any savory food

    One of our favorite snacks, crostini with sundried cherry tomatoes, can be made in a minute (or as fast as it takes to toast the bread.

  • SPREAD toasted or grilled slices of baguette with goat cheese, other soft cheese, even Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • TOP with sundried cherry tomatoes in olive oil.
  • GARNISH with minced basil or a shake of oregano.
    It’s easy enough for snacking, and impressive enough to serve as an hors d’oeuvre or a first course.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Avoid Grill Toxins With Organic Grilling

    August 16th is National Bratwurst Day. Before you throw some brats on the grill, here are tips on organic grilling from Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc., a publisher of health and wellness magazines, books, and digital content*.

    Not surprisingly, she’s committed to organic living. This article is adapted from a larger article:


    Grilling in America needs an organic makeover—independence from exposure to conventional grilling toxins, says Maria. We need to apply that spirit of revolution to our health and the environment and take it organic every time we fire up the grill!

    Sure, you can find throw a grass-fed, certified-organic steak or an Applegate Farms organic hot dog on the grill. But there’s more to organic grilling than just what you cook.

    Organic grilling is a complete process that minimizes toxic chemicals from beginning to end, as it maximizes flavor and healthful benefits for you and the environment.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/hot dogs grill hillshirefarmsFB 230

    Avoid toxic charcoal briquettes; use organic charcoal. Photo courtesy Hillshire Farms.

    Here Maria demystifies the grilling process and detoxifies it as much as possible. Her tips are safe and simple.
    *This article was originally published on June 24, 2015 on Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen blog.

    You can use any grill; Maria uses a Big Green Egg charcoal grill with certified-organic charcoal. Big Green Egg sells organic charcoal, as do other companies.

    Whatever the brand, always use charcoal that’s made from natural materials like wood (look for “lump charcoal,” bamboo or coconut). You can use wood logs instead of charcoal; just make sure you have time to let them burn down a bit first. Avoiding toxic briquettes is the most important organic choice you can make for the environment and for your health.

  • To start the grill, you will need a chimney starter, which lets you light the charcoal without poisonous lighter fluid. A chimney starter and organic charcoal solve most of your toxin problems.
  • Everything else you need: paper to stuff under the chimney, matches, organic food to grill, tongs and a silicone hot pad. Maria recommends tongs that are long, non-locking and without plastic parts.

    Make sure your grill is in a safe place, all your materials are handy, and the grill is clean enough.

  • Never use a wire cleaning brush to clean your grill. Those little wire bits can break off and get stuck in your stomach. Instead, use a heavy-duty sponge, a wood grill scraper or a natural-fiber scrub brush.
  • When the grate is clean, rub it with some high smoke point oil on the grill—Maria likes coconut oil but canola, peanut, soybean, sunflower and others are fine—to keep your food from sticking.

    First, remove the grill grate. Put a few pieces of crumbled dry paper (or one piece of newspaper) at the bottom of the chimney; then load the charcoal on top. Spread a bit of charcoal around the sides, too. Light the paper on fire underneath.

  • Keep checking to make sure that it’s burning hot enough. For example, in damp weather, it might take a few tries to get the paper burning hot enough to light the charcoal.
  • You will know if it’s caught fire when you see smoke coming out of the top of the chimney and/or feel the heat.

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/grilled shrimp thesmokedolive 230

    Put some shrimp on the barbie… Photo courtesy The Smoked Olive (try their terrific smoked olive oil!).


    STEP 4: WAIT

    It will take 10 to 15 minutes for the charcoal to get hot enough. You’ll know it’s ready when you can see red coals glowing through the chimney holes.

  • During that time, make sure all your food is ready to be put on the grill.
  • When the fire is hot enough, grasp the handle of the chimney with a hot pad and dump the burning coals into the grill.
  • Remove the chimney, which will be burning hot, to a safe place, out of the reach of anyone (adults as well as children).

    STEP 5: GRILL!

    Put the grill grate back on the grill. It will need a few minutes to warm up, so don’t rush. Spread some oil on the grill to prevent sticking and add the food.

  • You can use aluminum foil if you want, but it’s not necessary. The important thing is to give the food the time it needs to cook properly.
  • Remove the food from the grill onto a clean platter and get ready to dig in.

  • Keep a squirt bottle or squirt gun handy in case the fire gets too hot. This is especially important if you are using wooden logs—they can get really hot. If they do, give the grill a squirt. Most natural or organic charcoal doesn’t get super-hot, unless you use lots of it.
  • Don’t put cooked meat on the same platter you used for raw meat without washing it first. That’s just good food safety.
  • Don’t get distracted. You can’t grill successfully while trying to get the rest of the meal ready. You need to keep an eye on the food or it can easily burn (or not cook fast enough). If you have no other hekp, make sure all of the other items on your list are ready before you start to grill.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Cedar Paper Grilling Wraps


    Halibut wrapped in cedar grilling paper, for
    cooking on the stove top. It’s served with
    citrus pesto. Here’s the recipe. Photo
    courtesy Fire & Flavor.


    No grill? If you want an infusion of cedar flavor in your food, that’s no problem. Instead of a grill with cedar chips, get some cedar grilling papers.

    Made from a very thin, pliable slice of cedar, cedar grilling papers infuse a subtle but clear flavor while keeping food moist and tender.

    Wrap your favorite seafood, meats, vegetables, and fruits in Fire & Flavor’s All Natural Western Red Cedar Papers. One hundred percent all-natural western red cedar was chosen because it provides the best flavor and compliments the widest variety of foods.

    You can use the grilling papers indoors, in the oven, stove-top skillet or pannini press; or outdoors on the grill without the need for wood chips.

    A package of eight single-use grilling papers, 6″ x 7.25″, and 8 cotton strings for tying is $8.99 at

    Cedar papers are easy to use and can be prepared in four easy steps: soak, heat, smoke, eat.


    1. Soak
    Soak the grilling papers in a shallow dish for 10 minutes. Use a small bottle to weight down the papers to keep them fully submerged. Cedar grill papers only need to be soaked long enough to become pliable, but it’s fine to soak for several hours before use. You can also soak in tequila, wine and other liquids—details below.
    2. Heat
    Heat a grill, oven or skillet to 400°F or medium-high heat. Place the food face down in the center of a soaked cedar paper, parallel to the grain of the wood. Fold the paper’s edges toward each other until they overlap. Tie the paper together with cotton string (included with the papers) or butcher’s twine; or place them seam side down on the grill grate, skillet or pan.

  • Place citrus slices or other flavor infusions below the fillets before wrapping. This will push more of their flavor into the food above them.
    3. Smoke
    Smoke the wrapped food directly on the grill grates or in the grill pan. Cook fish for 3-4 minutes per side until food is done to your liking (close the lid if using a grill). During cooking, the cedar papers will blacken. This makes for great presentation.

  • Cedar paper can withstand high heat because the cooking times are usually short: 6-8 ounce chicken fillets can be cooked in less than 10 minutes.
  • Food will continue to conce removed from grill, so remove it from the heat a minute or two early. If unsure about the cook time, use recipe-suggested cook times.
    4. Eat
    Place the packets on plates or a platter, bring to the table and enjoy. Cedar wrapped foods will stay warm and moist for long periods of time.

  • Drizzle flavored oils, vinegars, or citrus juice on the foods right after unwrapping.


    You can soak the papers in any liquid you like. Experiment with these soaking ideas from the Fire & Flavor Test Kitchen, and dream up your own.

  • Soak the papers in tequila. Then wrap shrimp, crab or lobster with some mango salsa. The acid of tequila and sweetness of the salsa pair perfectly.
  • Soak the papers in white wine. The subtle flavor of the fish will be enhanced with cedar notes. Wrap any white fish with asparagus or your favorite green veggie.
  • Soak the papers in red wine. Then wrap more flavorful fish like salmon, sea bass or red snapper with sliced lemon and thyme. The bold flavor of these fish withstands the influence of lemon and red wine.
  • Soak the papers in saké. Think beyond fish and meat to your favorite vegetables. Wrap mushrooms with goat cheese and your favorite spices.
  • Soak the papers in juice. Citrus juices like orange or lime add refreshing flavors. Wrap a spiced salmon fillet with salsa in “juiced” papers.


    Give cedar grilling paper as gifts to friends who cook. Photo courtesy Fire & Flavor.



  • Nonstick Spray. Spray cedar papers with non stick spray before wrapping to prevent foods from sticking to the papers as they dry.
  • Indoor Grilling. Grill pans and panini presses with deep grill grooves allow for the best air circulation.
  • Best Flavor. Before closing the wrap, top fish with julienned vegetables and a spiced butter or rub. As the fish cooks, the flavors meld together with the smokey cedar.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Add More Flavor To Everything You Grill

    Ready, set, grill! While you may have had the grill on for a while, Memorial Day is considered the launch of grilling season in the Northeast, where we live.

    McCormick & Company, a leader in what’s hot in flavor, has released a grilling edition of its 2015 Flavor Forecast, with links to yummy recipes.

    Of course, they have all the hot flavors you need to perk up your food, from burger mix-ins to marinades to seasoned grilling salts.

    The the hottest trends to enhance your grilled flavors all season are:

  • Backyard Brunch: Bacon, eggs and even donuts are grilled to add smoky flavor and and served outside.
  • Boss Burgers: Forget plain ketchup and sliced onions. Now, it’s all about the build. Add mix-ins to burgers, then build flavor with toppers and condiments like grilled avocado, mango slaw or lime mayo. Check out this Southwestern Smoky Ranchero Burger with Grilled Avocado and this Vietnamese Banh Mi Burger with Sriracha Mayo.


    Grill your bacon and eggs, with spinach and Gruyère cheese. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • Grilling Salts: Shake up classic salt and pepper by adding other flavors to the shaker. McCormick makes it easy with pre-filled sea ssalt grinders. See more about them below, and use them to add texture and flavor.
  • Reverse Sear: There’ll be no more dry chicken coming off your grates with this technique. Check out this recipe for Sweet Soy Bourbon Chicken infused with bourbon, brown sugar and soy sauce.


    Chipotle Sea Salt, one of four trending flavored sea salts available in grinders.
    Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • Smokin’ Veggie Starters: Most people love grilled veggies, but don’t wait for the main course and sides to serve them. For starters, try this Grilled Vegetable Antipasto Bruschetta, a fusion of Italian bruschetta on top of Middle Eastern hummus.

    One of the easiest ways to add flavor, during and after cooking, is with seasoned salts.

    McCormick’s easy-to-use sea salt grinders are favorites of ours. Flavors include:

  • Chipotle Sea Salt Blend
  • Lemon Zest Sea Salt Blend
  • Smoked Sea Salt
  • Sweet Onion Sea Salt Blend
    As gifts for grilling hosts, we like to package all four inside a related gift like this Weber grilling basket that keeps mushrooms, chiles and other small vegetables from falling onto the coals




    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Roasted Fish

    Have you ever roasted (or baked—here’s the difference*) a whole fish? It’s easy and a lot less expensive than fillets.

    Here are the simple steps to serving succulent, low-caloric, healthful roast fish (or grilled, if you prefer). Our tip was inspired by these photos from Eataly Chicago.


    Start with one of these varieties, which should cost around $11-12/pound. Plan on one pound per two people.

  • Branzino, flaky and slightly firm with a mild, buttery flavor.
  • Dorade (a.k.a. orata and sea bream), a flaky white flesh with a rich, succulent, meaty flavor, similar to pompano or red snapper.
  • Rainbow trout, delicate and tender flesh with a mild flavor.
    Have your fishmonger remove the guts and scales. See the next section, on how to pick the freshest fish.

    Then, choose your aromatics.

    But first, some tips on how to select the freshest fish.



    Branzino with aromatics, ready to roast. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

    *ROASTING VS. BAKING: Roasting and baking are both dry heat cooking methods that employ hot air, typically at 300°F or higher. Today the terms are synonymous, but before modern ovens and broilers, roasting referred to food food cooked over an open flame. Today, both roasting and baking are done in an oven, where the heat browns and crisps the exterior of the food. While used interchangeably, each term sounds better for certain types of foods. Would you rather have baked vegetables or roasted vegetables?
    How To Pick Fresh Fish

    Here’s the scoop, straight from our grandmother:

    1. LOOK at the eyes. They should be clear and plumped out, not cloudy and sinking down.

    2. CHECK the gills. They should look wet fresh-looking (like pulled from the water), the color red, orange or brown, depending on the fish. If they look dark brown and/or dried out, pick something else.

    3. PRESS the flesh gently. If it springs back, the fish is fresh. If it leaves a permanent dent, pick something else.

    4. AROMA. A fresh fish aroma is fine; a “fishy” aroma or whiff of ammonia is not.
    What Are Aromatics?

    Aromatics are herbs and vegetables that release delicious aromas and impart deep flavors into the dish.

    They provide the flavor foundation in many dishes. Braises, sauces, sautés, soups, stews, stir-fries and stocks are some of the dishes that rely on aromatics.

    For roasting fish, you don’t have to use one selection from every category below. We do use them all; but if you want to simplify your purchases, choose just one citrus and one herb.

    Slice it and insert it into the cavity (slice the grapefruit to fit). Buy an extra to cut into wedges for garnish.

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange


    One of the branzinos above, roasted and ready to eat. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.



  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Fennel

  • Basil
  • Ginger
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
    Save some extra sprigs for garnish.
    †The Apiaceae family of plants is commonly known as the celery, carrot or parsley family—mostly aromatic plants. Others of the more than 3,700 species are anise, caraway, chervil, coriander/cilantro, culantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage and parsnip.


  • Chive
  • Garlic cloves
  • Green onion
  • Red onion

    If you have an open bottle with two cups of white wine you want to use up, use a baking dish instead of the baking sheet indicated below. Add the wine before the fish.


    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Soak the entire fish in salted water for 10 minutes. Pat it dry. If the fish is particularly thick, cut three half-inch slashes on each side, no more than a half inch deep, to help the heat penetrate. Rub olive oil over the surface. Sprinkle the surface and the cavity with salt and pepper.

    2. STUFF the aromatics into the cavity of the fish and transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet. You can cover the sheet with foil or parchment for easier cleanup. If you have leftover aromatics (other than the pieces for garnish), you can place them in the center of the tray and lay the fish on top.

    3. ROAST the fish until the fish is just cooked through (we actually prefer ours rare), and a cooking thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reads about 135°F. The skin should be crispy. Cooking time will vary based on the weight and thickness of the fish, but it will be ready to test at 30 minutes.

    4. GARNISH with citrus wedges and herb sprigs and serve. While this article may be long, once you’ve done it the first time, roasting whole fish is a snap!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Use More Fresh Herbs


    Asian cooks add basil to summer rolls. Add
    them to your own wraps and sandwiches.
    Photo courtesy Bonnie Plants.


    The first week in May is National Herb Week, a time to focus on using more fresh herbs in your cooking.

    Fresh herbs offer tons of flavor and good nutrition with virtually no calories. The flavor they provide lets you cut back on salt. They can be used in any savory dish (and some sweet ones).

    So, why not use more fresh herbs?


    The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences.

  • Herbs are the leaves of a plant (although stems may also be used). They grow in any climate warm enough to grow vegetables.
  • Spices are from the seeds, roots, fruit or bark, and typically used in dried form. Most originate in tropical or semi-tropical regions.
    It’s possible for one plant to contain both herb and spice. For example:

  • The coriander plant’s leaves are the herb cilantro, while coriander seeds are a spice in their own right.
  • Dill weed, an herb, and dill seed, a spice, come from the same plant.


  • Remove any twiggy, wiry or woody parts of the herb. Unless the recipe specifies otherwise, you can chop up soft stems. At any rate, don’t throw them away: They add deliciousness to soups and stews.
  • Avoid over-chopping herbs into teeny pieces. The diameter should measure between 1/8 and 1/4 inches.
  • Strip the leaves off of rosemary branches, but don’t throw the branches away. Freeze them for when you need a skewers. Cut the bottom at an angle to better skewer the food.
  • Plant some basic herbs; they grow well indoors and outdoors. For starters, plant basil, parsley, spearmint and English thyme. Avoid pre-planted pots that contain an assortment of herbs; their need for water varies.
  • Use flat-leaf (Italian) parsley for cooked dishes: It’s more strongly flavored than curly leaf parsley.
  • Add delicate herbs (basil, dill) to a hot recipe towards the end of cooking.
    Converting Dry Measures For Fresh Herbs

    In recipes, if dried herbs are specified, a larger quantity of fresh herbs is required. Here’s are the equivalents:

  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried herbs
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground dried herbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely cut fresh herbs


  • Breakfast: A must in omelets, frittatas and baked egg dishes.
  • Lunch: Add punch to grain salads, green salads and protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna, etc.). Place a few basil leaves in a sandwich or wrap. Garnish soups with fresh-snipped herbs.
  • Dinner: Add herbs to everything you cook! Just a few: Toss cooked pasta, rice and other grains with flat-leaf parsley. Add dill to roasted vegetables. Snip chives onto baked potatoes and vinaigrettes.
  • All Meals: Sprinkle or snip herbs as garnishes for just about everything. If your herbs blossom, use the blossoms as well.

  • Basil: pasta sauce, peas, pesto, tomatoes, zucchini
  • Chives: dips, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Cilantro: salsa, tomatoes, plus many Asian, Caribbean and Mexican dishes
  • Dill: carrots, cottage cheese, fish, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Mint: carrots, desserts, fruit salad, parsley, peas, tabouli, tea
  • Oregano: peppers, tomatoes


    When herbs blossom, like these chive blossoms, don’t cut and toss them. They’re beautiful plate garnishes. Photo courtesy Morguefile.

  • Parsley: egg salad and other protein salads, potato salad and other vegetable salads, tabouli, sandwiches
  • Rosemary: chicken, fish, lamb, pork, roasted potatoes, soups, stews, tomatoes
  • Thyme: eggs, lima and other beans, potatoes, poultry, summer squash, tomatoes


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