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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 Cooking

TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Tagine

A tagine (tah-ZHEEN) is a Moroccan stew of vegetables with meat, poultry, fish or seafood. More specifically, it’s a Berber dish from North Africa that is named after the type of earthenware pot in which it is cooked, originally over coals. (A similar dish, tavvas, is made in Cyprus.)

There are traditional clay tagines, some so beautifully hand-painted as to double as decorative ceramics; modern tagines, such as Le Creuset enamelware; and even electric tagines for people who don’t have stoves or ovens.

You can buy a tagine, but you can make the stew in whatever pot you have.

 
HOW A TAGINE WORKS

The traditional tajine pot is made of clay, which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts: a round, flat base pot with low sides and a large cone- or dome-shaped cover that covers it during cooking.

The cover is designed to promote the return of all the liquid condensation back to the pot, allowing for a long simmer and moist chunks of meat. The stew is traditionally cooked over large bricks of charcoal that have the ability to stay hot for hours.

 

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A modern enamelware tagine. Photo courtesy Le Creuset.

 
Tajines can also be cooked in a conventional oven or on a stove top. For the stove top, a diffuser—a circular piece of aluminum placed between the tajine and burner—is used to evenly distribute the stove heat to permits the browning of meat and vegetables before cooking. Modern tajines made with heavy cast-iron bottoms replace them.

 

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A traditional hand-painted tagine. You can
buy this one online.

 

MAKE A TAGINE

This vegetarian tagine recipe is from FAGE Total Yogurt. You can serve it as a side or as a main dish with sliced grilled chicken, lamb or salmon.

Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 1 hour, 10 minutes. Serve with couscous and a crisp salad.
 
RECIPE: MOROCCAN CHICKPEA & VEGETABLE
TAGINE WITH YOGURT DRESSING

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, cinnamon and turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1-3/4 cup chickpeas
  • 1-3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1-1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup eggplant, diced
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, diced
  • 1/4 cup baby corn
  • 1/4 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1/4 cup baby carrots
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley and coriander
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT half of the oil in a tagine or other pan. Add onion, garlic, and spices. Fry over a low to medium heat for 5 minutes until golden.

    2. ADD the chickpeas, tomatoes and stock. Cook for 20 minutes.

    3. STIR FRY the vegetables in a separate frying pan or wok with remaining oil, and then add to the chickpea mixture.

    4. BRING to a boil, cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes.

    5. MAKE the herb yogurt dressing: Mix the yogurt, chopped parsley and coriander together. To finish, add half the yogurt, adjust seasoning to taste and serve with the rest of the yogurt on the side. NOTE: Don’t boil the stew after adding the yogurt or it may separate.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Ways To Separate Eggs

    egg-separator-oxo-bowl-230

    A conventional egg separator (strainer).
    Photo courtesy Oxo.

     

    Everyone has a technique to separate eggs. We’ve tried five:

    1. Hand Method. Crack the egg and pour it into the palm of your hand; let the whites drain through your fingers (this was probably the original technique). It’s a great technique to know if you can’t find the egg separator! If you don’t like the idea of using your hands, you can use a slotted spoon; but you’ll probably need an assistant to hold the spoon.

    2. Shell Transfer Method. You’ve seen chefs do this: cracking the egg, separating the shell and pouring the yolk back and forth between the halves as the whites drain into a bowl. It’s considered the “professional” way; with practice, anyone can do it. Here’s a video.

    3. Funnel Method. Stand a large funnel up in a cup and crack the egg. The white will slip through.

    4. Egg Separator Method. This is the one we use, relying on a gadget that allows the white to easily strain through into a bowl. This one from OXO can also clip to the rim of a mixing bowl. Here’s a video.

     

    5. Plastic Bottle Method. A video circulating the Internet in fun engendered today’s tip. Squeeze some of the air from a clean plastic water bottle or soft drink bottle. Crack the egg in a bowl and, squeezing the bottle slightly, place mouth of the bottle on top of the yolk. Slowly release your grip; the air pressure will push the yolk into the bottle. You can also buy small, attractive yolk extractor (photo at right) that does the same thing.

    EGG SEPARATING TIPS

    Buying

  • Size. Buy large, as opposed to extra-large or jumbo, eggs. The smaller the egg, the thicker the shell, the less likely you are to get shell fragments in the separated egg.
  • Freshness. Fresh eggs separate more easily. The younger the egg, the tighter the yolk. The older the egg, the thicker and more gluey the white. Fresher eggs have stronger proteins, which are needed if you’re making meringues, soufflés or other recipes that require stiffly-beaten egg whites.
  •  

    egg-separator-niceshop-230

    The newest egg separating device: a suction cup. Photo courtesy Niceshop.

     
    Using The Eggs

  • Chill first. The yolk is less likely to break when it’s cold. If you need the whites or yolks at room temperature, just let them sit after separating.
  • Freeze leftovers.You can freeze any unused whites or yolks. Freeze them separated in small containers, labeled with how many whites or yolks are stored.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Arrope

    arrope-beauty-mieldepalma.com-230

    Arrope syrup. There’s also an arrope
    preserve with pumpkin (see photo below).
    Photo courtesy Miel de Palma.

     

    Arrope (ah-ROE-pay), a cooking and condiment syrup, is a product that few of us have in our kitchens. Yet, if you’re a serious cook (or eater), it’s an ingredient you should know about.

    If your parents are serious cooks/eaters, it’s an idea for a Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift—so much tastier than another scarf or tie.

    And if no one cooks, there’s a delicious arrope pumpkin preserve, a recipe that derives from the ancient use of arrope to preserve or stew fruits. The pumpkin is cooked in the arrope until it is candied. It’s delicious as a sweet-and-earthy bread spread or a condiment with creamy goat’s or sheep’s milk cheeses (see photo below).

    In fact, when you go to purchase arrope, you need to be specific. Otherwise, you can easily be sold the preserve instead of the syrup, or vice versa. Tip: If the word “pumpkin” appears, it’s the preserve.

    WHAT IS ARROPE

    A reduction of grape must, arrope is a condiment that dates to ancient Rome, where it was called defrutum or sapa. It survives as a gourmet Spanish condiment. The name comes from the Arabic word rubb, syrup.

     
    Arrope is closely related to saba (also called sapa, mosto d’uva cotto and vin cotto). This group comprises ancient precursors to “modern” balsamic vinegar, which appeared in the 11th century.

    So if you’re a balsamic vinegar fan, chances are good that you’ll be happy to discover arrope.

     

    Like honey* and saba, in the days before sugar was widely available arrope was used to add sweetness. Today it is used in everything from drinks to salad dressings to sauces to desserts (try it with fruit salad or drizzled over ice cream). We use it as a glaze for roast poultry and meats. It easily substitutes in cooking for sweet wines such as sherry and marsala.

    As civilization embraced massed-produced foods over artisan products in the latter half of the 20th century, the craft of making arrope—which involves carefully cooking down the must into a syrup over a period of weeks—has almost disappeared. It survives among a handful of artisan producers, carrying on family traditions. (Before modern times, arrope was made by the cook of the family.)

    In Spain, the few remaining artisans produce arrope syrup (grape must reduction) and preserved pumpkin.

    While it’s no leap to combine arrope in Spanish recipes, you can port it over to any cuisine—just as with Italy’s saba and France’s verjus.

     

    arrope-jam-forevercheese-230

    A Spanish cheese plate with typical condiments: fig cake, fresh figs, and in the back, a bowl of arrope preserve with candied pumpkin.

     
    *Honey is sweet and syrupy straight from the hive (or straight from the hive and pasteurized). Arrope and saba are cooked to develop sweet-and-sour flavors including notes of cooked caramel.
     
    HOW ARROPE IS MADE

    It starts with a large quantity of grape must, freshly pressed grape juice that still contains all of the skins and seeds and stems. The must is very flavorful with high levels of sugar.

  • The fresh-pressed grape juice can be strained and sold as verjus, where it is used instead of citrus juice or vinegar.
  • Or, it can be cooked down into arrope or saba.
  • To make arrope, the must is boiled until the volume is reduced by at least 50%, and its viscosity is reduced to a thick syrup. There is no added sugar or pectin.
  • Saba is similarly boiled down into a syrup.
  •  
    Ready to try it? Check at your local specialty food market or order it online:

  • Arrope syrup (grape must reduction)
  • Arrope with pumpkin (preserve)
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Deconstruct Your Favorite Foods

    deconstructed-carbonara-foodrepublic-230

    Deconstructed carbonara. Here’s the recipe.
    Photo courtesy Christopher Hirsheimer and
    Melissa Hamilton.

     

    Today’s tip is to have fun deconstructing a favorite family dish.

    Deconstruction is an avant-garde culinary trend of the last 15 years or so, championed by the famed Catalan chef Ferran Adrià, who has referred to his cooking as “deconstructivist.”

    Hervé This, the “father of molecular gastronomy,” reintroduced the concept in 2004 as “culinary constructivism.” Essentially, all of the components and flavors of a classic dish are taken apart and presented in a new shape or form.

    The idea is art plus fun, and the deconstruction must taste as good as the original. For example:

  • Deconstructed pecan pie could be brown sugar custard [emulating the filling], with crumbled shortbread cookies [for the crust] and a side of caramelized pecans.
  • Deconstructed key lime pie could be the key lime filling in a Martini glass, topped with graham cracker crumbs.
  • >Deconstructed stuffed cabbage: our favorite way to make stuffed cabbage. We’ve done this for some 25 years—who knew we were so avant garde of culinary deconstruction? We slice the cabbage and cook it in the tomato sauce along with rice-filled meatballs. It saves hours of blanching cabbage leaves, filling them with chopped meat and rice, rolling and cooking. All the flavors are there, and it’s also easier to eat (you often need a steak knife to saw through those blanched cabbage leaves).
  •  

    SOME DECONSTRUCTED RECIPES

  • Deconstructed Bloody Mary: recipe
  • Deconstructed Buffalo Wings: recipe
  • Deconstructed Caesar Salad: recipe
  • Deconstructed Coffee Ice Cream (an affogato):
    recipe
  • Deconstructed Crab Cake: recipe
  • Deconstructed Fruit Loops Cereal: recipe
  • Deconstructed Guacamole: recipe
  • Deconstructed Ratatouille: recipe
  •  
    When you’ve finished your own deconstructed dish, send us a photo.

     

    deconstructed-cheesecake-garretkern-230

    Deconstructed cheesecake maintains the flavors and textures of the original. Photo courtesy Garret Kern. See more.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Oreo Day

    Today is National Oreo Day, honoring the world’s most popular cookie. We almost feel like ditching work to celebrate—with Oreo cheesecake, cookies and cream ice cream and an Oreo milkshake—and then running a marathon to work off the calories.

    However, we’re limiting ourselves to one Oreo-packed chocolate bar from Chocomize, a chocolate e-heaven where you can take your favorite type of chocolate bar (dark, milk, white) and top it with your favorite candies, nuts, spices and special luxuries (gold leaf, anyone?).

    You pay a base price for the bar ($4.50, or $6.50 for a heart shape), and then for each add-on topping—up to 5 selections from a menu of 90 options.

    If you don’t like to make choices, there are plenty of ready-made choices, like the Cookie Bar in the photo.

    In honor of National Oreo Day, Chocomize has two special offers running through March 10th:

  • FREE Oreo pieces. You can add Oreo cookie pieces for FREE to any chocolate bar you make.
  •  

    oreo-white-chocolate-230

    The popular Cookie Bar: Belgian white chocolate bar with Oreos and malted milk balls. Photo courtesy Chocomize.

     

  • FREE chocolate bar with $40 order. Any order of $40+ gets a FREE Cookie Bar with the code OREO. The Cookie Bar, one of Chocomize’s most popular, is Belgian white chocolate, cookie dough bits and Oreo cookie pieces.
  •  

    oreos-stack-froyo-230

    Imagine if lemon meringue had been the
    favorite flavor of Oreos! Photo courtesy
    Froyo.

     

    OREO HISTORY

    Oreos are 102 years old. According to Time magazine, the National Biscuit Company (later shortened to Nabisco) sold its first Oreo sandwich cookies to a Hoboken grocer on On March 6, 1912. They weren’t an original concept: Sunshine’s Hydrox cookies* (among others) preceded them in 1908.

    There were two original Oreo flavors: original (chocolate) and lemon meringue. The original was far more popular, and Nabisco discontinued lemon meringue in the 1920s.

    Today Oreo is the world’s most popular cookie, sold in more than 100 countries†. More than 450 billion Oreos have been sold to date.

    Yes, there were other chocolate sandwich cookies. But what made Oreos stand out was the thick, creamy filling invented by Sam J. Porcello, the principal food scientist at Nabisco. (He also created the “stuf” in Double Stuf Oreos and the chocolate-covered and white chocolate-covered Oreos. Now that’s bragging rights for generations of kids, grandkids and great-grands to come.)

     

    WHAT ABOUT THE DESIGN ON THE COOKIES?

    Nabisco says that an unnamed “design engineer” created the current Oreo design, which was updated in 1952‡. Other sources name him as William A. Turnier, who worked in the engineering department creating the dies that stamped designs onto cookies.

    Here’s the story of the design and its meaning.
     
    THE NAME IS A MYSTERY

    No one knows for certain the origin of the name “Oreo.” Some believe it was derived from the French word for gold, “or,” because the original packaging was mostly gold.

    The bigger curiosity to us is, in The Wizard Of Oz film, why did the guards at the castle of the Wicked Witch Of The West sing a chorus of “Oreo?”

     
    *The Oreo became kosher in 1998, when the lard in the original recipe was replaced with vegetable shortening. Prior to then, Sunshine Bakeries’ Hydrox cookies had long been the kosher alternative. But most people preferred the taste of Oreos, and Hydrox cookies were discontinued by Keebler in 2003.

    †In terms of sales, the top five Oreo-nibbling countries are the U.S., China, Venezuela, Canada and Indonesia. In some countries, like China, Nabisco’s parent company, Kraft, reformulated the recipe to appeal to local tastes, including green tea Oreos.

    ‡The current design replaced a design of a ring of laurels, two turtledoves and a thicker, more mechanical “Oreo” font.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Ways To Eat “Mediterranean Diet” Healthy

    While our “day job” is to try lots of specialty foods and cook and bake alluring recipes, we aim to make the right choices when we’re not working.

    If we’ve been heavy on the healthful eating tips lately, it’s because we’re struggling even harder after the onslaught of Valentine chocolate.

    So today we’re passing along five Mediterranean Diet tips, adapted from an original article by Ashley Lauren Samsa on Care2.com.

    For about 30 years, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals have encouraged Americans to follow the “Mediterranean Diet,” a heart-healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats.

    Substituting olive oil for butter, fish for meat, vegetables for starch, fat-free dairy products and a limit on carbohydrates is said to explain why Mediterranean dwellers have a lower incidence of heart disease. Here’s more from the Mayo Clinic.

    What if you’re young, healthy and have no family history of heart disease? Hedge your bets. You don’t know how your system will change as you age…and even if your kin live to 100, you may have a partner and kids to plan for.

     

    bottle-with-tree-flavoryourlife-230

    Olive oil can do whatever butter can do, and it’s better for you. Photo
    courtesy FlavorYourLife.com.

     

    1. SUBSTITUTE OLIVE OIL FOR BUTTER

    A few decades ago, journalists seized on the fat in the American diet as a no-no. A cascade of media proliferated and a generation of people grew up thinking fat is bad.

    That’s not the whole truth. Saturated fat (cholesterol and other sources) is bad. Monounsaturated fats (avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and others) is good for you. The government recommends two tablespoons a day as part of a heart-healthy diet.

    Here’s more on the good fats. Here are tricks to cut down on cholesterol:

  • Sauté in heart-healthy olive oil, not valve-clogging cholesterol (butter or lard).
  • Replace the butter in sauces, glazes and marinades with oil. Look at adding a bit of highly flavored oils, like sesame oil and nut oil.
  • Cook your eggs in oil. We grew up on butter-fried or scrambled eggs in butter every morning—it was what our mother preferred. We love the taste of butter, but it was easy to make the switch.
  • Use olive oil instead of other salad dressings. Make your own vinaigrette with a 3:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar. Use a quality vinegar—we prefer flavored vinegar or balsamic. We often add a pinch of dried mustard, which helps to keep the emulsion. You can add a small amount of Dijon or honey mustard, or a small amount of honey or the better-for-you agave nectar.
  • Mash potatoes in plain or flavored olive oil. Basil olive oil is our favorite for this!
  • Use olive oil as a condiment instead of a pat of butter.
  • Instead of butter with bread, serve olive oil, like Mediterranean restaurants do. A delicious, full-flavored oil is just fine served plain. If your olive oil is on the bland side, add spices add/or herbs.
  • Check out Italian olive oil cake recipes—they’re delicious (especially with fresh basil and rosemary—seriously!).
  •  
    Get past “generic” olive oil. It’s fine for sautéing, but doesn’t add good flavor for vinaigrette and condiment use. If you can afford better oils, go for them. The ones we use are so delicious, we relish the two tablespoons we drink at breakfast each day.

    Seek out an olive oil bar and taste the different varieties; also try flavored olive oils. If someone asks what you want for a birthday gift, ask for a bottle of basil olive oil (or the flavor of your choice).

     

    grilled-chicken-salad-230

    Grilled chicken atop a tasty salad. Photo
    courtesy Just Bare.

     

    2. EAT YOUR PROTEINS ON A BED OF GREENS.

    Get into the habit. Instead of a side salad, often an afterthought topped with too much dressing, plan for a salad-based meal.

  • Slice the beef, chicken, lamb, pork or other protein and serve it atop a salad of mixed dark, leafy greens and bright colored veggies, lightly dressed with olive oil, vinegar and/or lemon juice. Slicing the meat can also help to cut down on portion size. The recommended size is three ounces—the “deck of cards”—which seems very meager. It can look like more when it’s sliced, diced and added to vegetables or grains.
  • “Greens” should always include two colors in addition to green. It’s easy to add red cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, or radiccho; or yellow/orange cherry tomatoes, bell peppers or summer squash.
  • Alternatively, dice the meat into a chopped salad tossed with homemade vinaigrette. The flavors blend so much better, it’s no surprise that chopped salad is a menu favorite.
  • Place an entire fish filet on top of the salad.
  • Instead a sandwich of grilled chicken or steak, use a lettuce wrap.
  •  

    With this switch, you both reduce your carb intake and increase your vegetable intake. As an added bonus, you are intake more olive oil, too.

    3. REPLACE MEAT WITH FISH & VEGETARIAN MEALS

    Not only is the cholesterol in meat bad for you; breeding animals is the single largest cause of greenhouse gas. It also is responsible for pollution of the water tables and destruction of the rainforest to ranch cattle and grow feed for them. Not only are we a society of carnivores; as third world countries grow more affluent, they want more meat. The environmental impact is growing bigger each year, despite educational efforts and interest in sustainability.

    What can a meat lover do? Start by replacing two meals a week with fish, seafood or vegetarian dishes. There are many vegetarian and vegan favorites, from pasta primavera to bean-based chili and stir-frys. Pick up a cookbook of tempting vegetarian and vegan recipes, or look at the many online. Don’t be swayed by a preconception of vegan as “weird.” In the hands of good cooks, the food is so good you don’t notice there are no animal-derived ingredients.

    Fish are generally high in omega-3 fatty acids, another very powerful ingredient. This easy switch will keep you healthier as it helps the planet.

    4. TRY VEGGIE SMOOTHIES THAT TASTE LIKE FRUIT

    If you simply don’t like the taste of vegetables, blend them into sweet smoothies. Toss vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale or celery into a blender. Add a liquid like milk or fruit juice, along with yogurt or a banana and some nut butter (almond butter and sunflower seed butter are nice alternatives to PB). Flavor with cinnamon and honey.

    All you’ll taste are the banana, cinnamon and honey, but you’ll be getting all the benefits of the veggies.

    Smoothies can be made in advance and frozen. Toss one in your lunch bag in the morning to keep your food cold while it thaws, and it’ll be ready to drink by noon. (By the way, this is a great way to trick kids into eating more vegetables.)

    And…stay tuned for our Top Pick Of The Week, Veggie Blend-Ins from Green Giant. We couldn’t believe that a chocolate cupcake made with added spinach purée resulted in…a really delicious chocolate cupcake!

    5. SNACK SMART

    If you’re not the type to grab a banana or other piece of fruit, you’ve got choices that give you “snack satisfaction”:

    Popcorn, baby carrots or mixed crudités with lowfat or nonfat dip, Bare Fruit apple chips (our favorite—so sweet yet there’s no added sweetener) and dried fruit and nut mixes are easy and very tasty. There are books and websites of “healthy snacks.”

    As a fun challenge, print out a calendar page and research a different healthy snack for every day. It’s not as daunting as you think: garlic popcorn and jalapeño popcorn are three separate snack ideas.

    Here are some of our favorite healthy snacks for the office. Send us your favorite better-for-you snacks.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Garlic Oil

    Boyajian was a pioneer in infused oils and vinegars, introducing its delicious condiments to the marketplace some 25 years ago. From the beginning, their basil oil, chile oil, garlic oil, oregano oil and rosemary oil added zing to our everyday cooking—pure olive oil infused with fresh herbs.

    Moving with the times, Boyajian has added chipotle, habanero, jalapeño, roasted chili and scallion oils. (Alas, our beloved wasabi oil, the easiest way to make wasabi mashed potatoes, has been discontinued.)

    Not everyone has an ongoing need for oregano oil or chipotle oil, but one that you can count on using every day is garlic oil. For some people, it’s a pantry essential.
     
    Appetizers & Snacks

  • Bread: Add herbs to create a dipping oil for baguette or pita slices or crudités
  • Dips: Add a dash to guacamole, hummus, or yogurt dip
  •  

    garlic-oil-beauty-kingarthurflour-230

    You can use garlic oil in just about every savory dish. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     
    Mains

  • Fish & Seafood: As a seasoning, cooking oil or garnishing oil, garlic oil goes great with grilled salmon, swordfish, shrimp and other favorites
  • Meats: Rub on beef, lamb, pork or poultry before roasting or grilling
  • Main Salads: Top a salad of raw and roasted veggies and lean protein with an egg fried in garlic oil
  • Pizza: Drizzle on pizza, hot from the oven
  •  

    garlic-rosemary-mashed-potatoes-mccormick-230

    For simply smashing mashed potatoes, mash
    with garlic oil, then add minced chives or
    rosemary. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Sides

  • Flatbread & Garlic Bread: Drizzle or brush on
  • Grains: Use garlic oil as a dressing for whole grains, like farro or quinoa
  • Starches: Use garlic oil in place of butter in mashed potatoes or drizzle over rice instead of a pat of butter
  • Vegetables: Drizzle over roasted cauliflower, sauteed kale or other veggies
  •  

    Find many more recipes at Boyajian.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun Ways To Use Healthy Foods

    Mmmm…a fun way to eat more veggies.
    Photo courtesy Nature Box.

     

    Trying to turn over a new leaf, eating more kale and other good-for-you veggies, without giving up flavor and fun?

    One of the major paths to better eating is to eat less meat and more vegetables. Yet many of us are veg-averse. Even if we like them, there’s always something we’d rather have (think pasta, pizza or a burger and fries, where the only veggies might be slices of tomato and onion and a piece of lettuce).

    The secret is to serve recipes where the veggies can be “disguised” (see our favorite ideas below). Bright colors also work. What doesn’t seem to work with many people today is Mom’s approach: putting a protein on the plate with a side of string beans and a side of broccoli. So get creative on how to serve the beans and broccoli.

    We picked up this idea from NatureBox.com, an e-tailer that delivers wholesome snacks and blogs on tasty, better-for-you foods. The fun and tasty spring rolls were developed by Lori Yates, a Detroit-area recipe developer, food writer and cooking instructor. She contributes healthier recipes with lots of visual appeal to the NatureBox blog, such as Thai Tofu Pizza and Salmon & Crispy Chickpea Salad and on her own blog, Foxes Love Lemons.

     
    These spring rolls are a better-for-you snack or first course. Crunchy veggies are rolled in rice paper wrappers and served with a spicy creamy dipping sauce. The sweet potatoes are raw and sliced thin, for a texture like jicama but with more flavor and nutrients. Prep time is 25 minutes.
     
    RECIPE: KALE & SWEET POTATO SPRING ROLLS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings (18 Rolls)

    For The Spring Rolls

  • 18 rice paper wrappers
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into large pieces
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kernels from 2 ears of corn (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  •  
    For The Dipping Sauce

  • 1/2 cup light sour scream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons hot sauce
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dipping sauce: Stir together sour cream or yogurt and hot sauce. Set aside.

    2. WORKING one at a time, wet wrappers for 15 seconds and transfer to damp towel. Place kale in center of each wrapper and top with some beans, corn, sweet potato and onion.

    3. BRING the bottom edge of the wrapper tightly over the filling, rolling from bottom to top until the top of the sheet is reached, being careful not to tear the wrapper. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Serve immediately.
     
    MORE WAYS TO EAT BETTER: FAMILY CONTEST

    Get everyone into the act, thinking about how to “healthify” family favorites. Provide “healthy cookbooks” for reference: Cooking Light, Giada’s Feel-Good Food and the Eating Well Healthy In A Hurry Cookbook. Give a monthly prize to the best idea.

     


    Another better-for-you dish: chili that’s heavy on the veggies. Photo courtesy Swanson.

     

    Some of our most popular switches:

  • Chili that is more veggie than beef or beans. Here’s a tasty recipe from Swanson that “disguises” the veggies among the bean.
  • Mashed cauliflower with olive oil and Greek yogurt instead of mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream. Many people just assume the mashed cauliflower is potatoes.
  • Pasta primavera, with at least 50% veggies (aim for whole wheat pasta).
  • Salad pizza,” piled high with six or more of your favorite veggies (and a whole wheat crust!).
  • Stir frys—check out the Everything Stir Fry Cookbook with 300 recipes!
  • Also see:

  • Sneak More Veggies Into The Pasta
  • 5 Ways To Sneak More Veggies Into Your Diet
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD 101: What America Cooks

    mccormick-chili-sourcream-chives-230r

    America’s favorite recipe to cook at home:
    Chili? Photo courtesy McCormick.com.

     

    Cook much? While so many people rely on take out foods, others are still cooking up a storm. In fact, the website TheDailyMeal.com has put together America’s 25 Favorite Recipes to Make at Home.

    By using data collected from common food searches at The Daily Meal and many of the country’s other leading search engines and food websites, the writers developed a comprehensive list of the most searched food terms of 2013. They then took the research a step farther to find out what recipes America loves to make with those foods and how many times each recipe was searched.

    Finally, they crafted a unique algorithm to yield a search score and rank.

    AND THE FAVORITES ARE…

    25. Chicken wings
    24. Deviled eggs
    23. Guacamole
    22. Fish tacos
    21. Mashed potatoes
    20. Crock pot chicken

     

    Continuing on, we get to the two sweets that made the list (which doesn’t mean we don’t eat a lot of sweets—we just may be buying them for immediate gratification.
     
    19. Apple pie
    18. Choc chip cookies
    17. Mac and cheese
    16. Hummus
    15. Baked chicken
    14. Burgers
    13. Beef stew
    12. Pasta sauce
    11. French toast
    10. Chicken soup
    9. Chocolate chip
    8. Spaghetti
    7. Pizza
    6. Meatball
    5. Banana bread
    4. Meat loaf
    3. Lasagna
    2. Pork chop
    1. Chili
     
    So what are you cooking tonight?

     

    apple-pie-cut-centerville-230r

    When we bake, it’s usually apple pie or chocolate chip cookies. Photo courtesy Centerville Pie Co.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pink Party Food

    We’ve been invited to a “pink party” for Valentine’s Day: All the food and drink are in shades of pink, with some touches of deeper rose and red. If you want to hold your own party, menu options are below.

    There’s also a National Pink Day on June 23rd, so we’ve been included some summery dishes.

    You can make anything more pink with beet juice, red food color or rosy accents like pomegranate arils, raspberries and strawberries. You can make sauces and soups pinker with a touch of crème fraîche, mascarpone, sour cream, or plain yogurt.

    You are encouraged to wear something pink to the party. Owning nothing pink, we’re donning pink nail polish.

    PINK PARTY MENU

    PINK & RED COCKTAILS

  • Champagne cocktail with pink sparkling wine
  • Cosmopolitans
  • Pink Champagne and strawberry punch
  •  
    PINK & RED WINES

  • Pink sparkling wine (Yellowtail and Martini are great values)
  • Red Wine
  • Rosé
  •  

    lobster-bisque-mackenzieltd-230

    Lobster bisque. You can serve soup shooters on a buffet. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

  • Cranberry or pomegranate juice spritzers (with white wine) or mocktails
  • Pomegranate Martini
  • Vodka and pink lemonade
  •  
    There are scores and scores of other pink cocktails—just search online.
     

    RED & PINK APPETIZERS

  • Bruschetta with strawberry-basil or tomato topping
  • Crab cocktail
  • Crudités: red bell peppers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, red Belgian endive, etc., with spicy pink dip (recipe below); you can include some celery, fennel or other pale vegetables for variety
  • Goat cheese log rolled in pink peppercorns
  • Hot dogs in jelly-mustard dip
  • Pink deviled eggs (soak peeled whole eggs in beet juice or food color)
  • Poached shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • Red pepper dip
  • Salume platter
  • Shrimp spread with crackers
  • Shrimp tea sandwiches
  • Smoked salmon or gravlax platter
  • Smoked salmon pinwheels or tea sandwiches
  • Smoked salmon rillettes
  • Strawberry bruschetta (recipe)
  • Taramasalata (Greek caviar dip) with crackers or party breads
  • Tuna sushi and spicy tuna rolls
  •  

    olive-oil-poached-salmon-pomwonderful-230

    Think pink with poached salmon. Photo
    courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

    PINK & RED BUFFET
     
    PROTEINS & OTHER MAINS

  • Pasta in pink sauce
  • Poached salmon
  • Rare beef (we’re poaching a filet mignon)
  • Shrimp & strawberry salad (recipe in footnote* below)
  • Steak tartare or tuna tartare
  •  
    PINK & RED SIDES

  • Beet salad or pickled beets
  • Cherry tomato salad
  • Radicchio and radish salad with pickled red onions
  •  
    *Combine 3 cups cooked rice, 1/2 pound cooked, sliced shrimp and 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery in a large bowl. Make dressing with 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt to taste. Dress the salad and then fold in 1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries. Chill and serve on a bed of greens.

     

    PINK & RED SOUPS

  • Borscht (you can turn it from red to pink with sour cream)
  • Cream of tomato soup
  • Lobster or shrimp bisque
  • Red bell pepper purée
  • Red gazpacho
  • Tomato or watermelon gazpacho
  •  
    PINK & RED DESSERTS

  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Fresh strawberries and raspberries
  • Pears poached in red wine
  • Pink frosted cake or cake pops
  • Pink ice pops (freeze your own from cherry or pomegranate juice)
  • Raspberry or strawberry mousse
  • Red velvet cake, cupcakes, donuts, ice cream
  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Strawberry ice cream/cupcakes
  • Strawberry milkshake shooters
  • Strawberry sorbet
  • Watermelon: granita or fruit salad
  •  
    RECIPE: SPICY PINK DRESSING OR DIP

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups mayonnaise (full fat)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sherry wine (not cooking sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon, finely crushed or 1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce sauce, or to taste
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring or beet juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX mayonnaise, sour cream, sherry, tarragon, garlic powder and hot sauce until well blended.

    2. ADD a few drops of food coloring to desired shade of pink. If the dressing is too thick, you can thin it with a small amount of milk. Chill well before serving.

    Recipe courtesy Food.com.
      

    Comments

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