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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: Cooking In Parchment (En Papillote)

carrots-en-papilotte-paperchef-230r

Proteins and vegetables cook easily and
mess-free in parchment pouches. Photo
courtesy PaperChef.

 

Many of us use parchment paper to line baking sheets. But if you haven’t yet used that parchment for en papillote cooking, you’re in for a treat: less mess and fewer calories, for starters, along with juicier, moister food.

Cooking en papillote (pah-pee-YOHT), French for “in parchment,” is a classic technique where food, often in individual portions, is enclosed in a folded pouch and steamed in the oven.

This simple yet refined culinary tradition works by trapping the moisture from the food in the pouch. It helps the food cook quickly, with little or no added fat, without losing flavor and retaining luscious aromas.

And there’s no pot or pan to clean. Just dispose of the pouch.

The technique dates to the early days of cooking food, where people took local foliage—banana leaves, corn husks and grape leaves, for example—and wrapped food in them prior to placing them on the fire. The leaves/husks took the place of pots and pans.

These days in the U.S., aluminum foil and parchment paper are the wrappings of choice, and the food is placed in the oven (or microwave) along with herbs and/or other seasonings. No special equipment is required. Poultry, seafood and vegetables are popular foods for en papillote cooking.

 

You’ll immediately discover the joy of infusion. Topping a piece of fish with a slice of lemon or fresh herbs infuses the protein with those flavors. You’ll have fun playing with the flavors of broths, herbs, juices and spices.

Steaming en papillote (pah-pee-YOHT) requires no special equipment, just the food and a roll of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

  • Parchment can be used with any food, but is especially important when steaming foods with a salt rub or acid (citrus juice, vinegar). Anything but the lightest touch of the latter can cause discoloration or a chemical aroma from reaction with aluminum.
  • Another benefit of parchment is environmental: it decomposes easily in landfill.
  • And if you’re not good at folding paper into pouches, Paper Chef has a solution: parchment bags. Just put the ingredients inside and fold the top to close. (See the photo below.)
  •  
    Why doesn’t the paper bag or folded pocket leak? Parchment baking paper has been treated with an acid and coated with silicone. The result is a liquid-proof, burn-resistant paper (the parchment will brown but not burn, up to 450°F). It’s also nonstick; hence, its popular use as a baking sheet and cake pan liner.

     

    How To Buy Parchment Paper

    You can buy parchment in rolls, bags and individually-cut sheets. Rolls provide the most flexibility for baking sheets as well as pockets.

    What about bleached versus unbleached parchment paper?

    Environmentalists go for unbleached parchment. It’s more expensive, but also more environmentally friendly.

    Bleached parchment uses not only chlorine, but typically employs both chlorine and Quilon®, a cheaper alternative to silicone.

    Quilon is a chemical solution that contains chrome, a heavy metal. When incinerated it becomes toxic and leaves trace elements. It is approved by the FDA and the USDA, but that doesn’t mean it’s environmentally friendly.

    If you have leisure time this weekend, get some parchment and cook en papillote. You can start with these videos from PaperChef.com, which also has plenty of recipes.

     

    parchment-bag-paperchef-230r

    No more need to fold pouches: Just add the ingredients to parchment bags. Photo courtesy PaperChef.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Slow Cooker Short Ribs

    We love short ribs, but they do take a long time to cook and tenderize. If you have a pressure cooker, you can do it in 45 minutes (here’s a recipe). If not, a slow cooker does just as nicely.

    With this recipe from McCormick, prep time is 30 minutes, slow cooker time is 8 hours.

    This short ribs recipe is “Asian fusion.” The inspiration is Sauerbraten (sour beef), the German classic that marinates the beef in a mixture of vinegar or wine (the “sour”), spices and seasonings.

    Here, the Asian twist comes from the use of rice vinegar, soy sauce and bok choy.

    Consider this dish for Super Bowl Sunday or Valentine’s Day. For Valentine’s Day, garnish the dish with some pomegranate arils.

    RECIPE: ASIAN-STYLE SLOW COOKER SHORT RIBS

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 jar (1-1/2 ounces) mixed pickling spices (see recipe below)
  • 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  •    

    Slow_Cooker_Asian_Style_Beef_Short_Ribs_mccormick-230

    It’s easy to make short ribs in a slow cooker. Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 2 cups)
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-1/2-inch chunks (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups beef stock
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 cup crushed gingersnaps, about 20 cookies
  • 1/2 head bok choy, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the pickling spice in the center of a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Tie tightly with a long piece of string. Set aside. Coat the short ribs with flour.

    2. HEAT the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 of the short ribs; cook 5 to 10 minutes or until browned on all sides. Add the short ribs to slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining short ribs.

    3. PLACE the vegetables and the spice bundle over the short ribs. Mix the beef stock, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger. Pour over the top.

    4. COVER and cook for 8 hours on LOW or 4 hours on HIGH, or until the short ribs are tender. Stir in the crushed gingersnaps during last 30 minutes of cooking. Stir in the bok choy during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Discard the spice bundle. Serve the short ribs and vegetables over cooked Asian noodles.

     

    pickling-spices-chilefoundry-230

    Pickling spices. Buy them or blend your own using the recipe below. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    WHAT ARE ASIAN NOODLES?

    Ribbon pasta—long cut pasta—originated in Asia. This is the type of pasta “discovered” by Marco Polo and brought back to Venice.

    Because communications were not so great in those days, he didn’t know that Arab traders had brought pasta back with them centuries before, and introduced it to Southern Italy when they invaded in the 8th century. Pasta was a convenience food for travelers: One only needed to boil water to turn the dried pasta in one’s pocket into a nutritious meal.

    An even earlier Italian pasta was an Etrusco-Roman noodle made from durum wheat called lagane, the descendant of the modern word lasagna, which was mentioned way back in the first century C.E. It was not boiled, as it is today, but baked in an oven.

    But back to Asia, the motherland of pasta:

     
    There are numerous types of Asian noodles based on ingredients alone: arrowroot starch, bean curd skin, bean starch (cellophane noodles), buckhwheat (soba), mung bean threads, rice noodles, sweet potato starch, tofu and yes, wheat noodles (udon).

    Asian noodles are also made in a broad variety of shapes and sizes. The type of noodle used depends on country and purpose.

    Some Chinese noodles contain eggs, e.g. Chinese egg noodles, although the majority of Asian noodles do not.

    Unlike Italian noodles and other Western pasta, Asian noodles are generally not eaten with a sauce on top, but are stir-fried or used in soups and salads.
     
    WHAT ARE PICKLING SPICES?

    Picking spices are a blend of different spices, ground or whole. They are added to vinegar for making cucumber pickles and other pickled foods.

    You can purchase them ready-blended, or make your own from this easy combination:

  • 1 tablespoon each of black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seed and mustard seeds
  • 3 dried red chiles
  • 1-inch piece dried ginger root
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 3 dried bay leaves, broken up
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients; measure and use as needed.

    2. KEEP the unused blend in an airtight container, away from light and heat.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Way To Thaw Meat

    frozen meat

    We’ve got the two best ways to go from
    freezer to plate. Photo courtesy
    Mart2Go.com.

     

    Many of us keep meat in the freezer and thaw it overnight in the fridge when we’re ready to use it.

    But how long can you keep that thawed meat before cooking it?

    Here’s the scoop from AG Local, which sells pasture-raised animals from family farms.

    The best way to thaw meat is overnight in the fridge. Slow thawing retains the flavor and texture and keeps bacteria from growing quickly. Bacteria grows above 40°F, which is why thawing it on the kitchen counter isn’t a good idea.

    But when you don’t have that much time, here’s the tip we learned from one of THE NIBBLE’s resident chefs, who in turn learned it in school in his food safety class:

    Fill a bowl with tepid water and add the unwrapped, frozen meat. Place the bowl in the sink and let slightly cool water from the faucet drip over it. The dripping water keeps the water in the bowl at a constant temperature, which speeds up thawing; and the moving water helps to deter bacteria growth on the surface of the meat.

    Leave the meat under the dripping water until it is completely thawed. Approximate thawing time with this method:

  • A chicken breast: 20 minutes
  • A thick steak: 1 hour
  •  

    You need to keep watch, though, and be sure not to leave the meat out for more than four hours to prevent bacteria growth.

    After the meat is thawed, be sure to scrub the bowl and the sink to avoid any contamination from the raw meat.
     
    HOW LONG YOU CAN KEEP THAWED FOOD BEFORE COOKING
     
    thawed-meat-chart-aglocal-520

     
    A FOOD-THAWING GADGET

    Recently, we received information about a gadget called the Vortex that helps with thawing foods.

    You measure the food thickness, enter the corresponding number, submerge the frozen food in a bowl of water and click “start.” The Vortex accurately predicts when the food will be thawed and alerts you when done.

    It does this via thermodynamics, circulating the cold water, which thaws the foods more quickly. We haven’t tried it, but you can check it out on Kickstarter.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Thanksgiving Tips

    taylor-classic-meat-thermometer-230

    You need to use a meat thermometer when you cook a turkey. Photo courtesy Taylor.

     

    If you’re cooking for Thanksgiving, take a look at these 50 tips from top American chefs, courtesy of the Food Network. A sampling:

  • Plan ahead for leftovers by cleaning out the fridge today. Be sure you have enough foil, plastic wrap and storage containers.
  • Be sure you have a meat thermometer.
  • Leave the turkey unwrapped in the fridge overnight. The skin will turn out crispier.
  • Coffee beans in the turkey cavity? One prominent chef adds half a cup of coffee beans to creates “great depth of flavor.”
  • Rub the interior of the turkey for more flavor. Use concentrated chicken base (such as Knorr) or a homemade chicken-stock reduction and butter.
  • Insert metal skewers in the turkey thighs before roasting. Insert several skewers into each thigh. They direct heat to the thighs more efficiently, so the thighs cook more quickly (and the less time in the oven, the less time the breast has to dry out).
  •  

  • Spread a mixture of breadcrumbs, fresh herbs and pork fat under the skin of the bird. Particularly under the skin of the breasts, the pork fat keeps the breasts moist and adds flavor.
  •  
    Check out the rest of the tips. While some require advance prep, it will be next Thanksgiving before you know it!

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook As A Family

    The family that prays together stays together, according to a post-World War II prayer movement called Family Rosary Crusade.

    But the family that cooks together eats better, and trains the kids to be self-reliant in the kitchen.

    As we enter the season of nonstop holiday treats, teaching balance and good eating practices can offset bad habits. So, at least for one meal a week—more if you can manage it—gather the entire family in the kitchen.

    If kids learn to cook from a young age, it gives them confidence and skills essential for leading a healthy life—not to mention, it saves a fortune in take out and restaurant meals.

    Even if there are no kids in the house, the odds are that there’s an adult who could stand to eat better.

    Ditch the fast food and store-prepared take-out (laden with fat, salt and hidden sugar). Start with this list of tips:

  • Cook together. So many families find cooking to be a chore at the end of the day. Make it an enjoyable teaching experience, and use meal preparation time to connect with your children and partner.
  •    

    chefs-oven-risotto-WS-230

    The family that cooks together eats better. Photo courtesy Le Creuset.

     

    • Show kids that spending time preparing fresh foods is fun. Tie into the notion of being attractive, which [alas] is pervading the consciousness of children increasingly younger ages. Explain how actors and models are very careful about their food choices, and often employ health-focused cooks, nutritionists and trainers to keep them looking good.

     

    new-junior-cookbook-betterhomesgardens-230

    It’s easy to start with a cookbook targeted to kids. Photo courtesy Better Homes & Gardens.

     
    • Bring kids to the grocery store and explain how you choose better ingredients and products. If they’re old enough, teach them to read the ingredients labels. They might evolve into the “ingredients checker” for the family, gaining awareness and knowledge on nutrition in the process.
    • Find ways for them to participate. At any age, they can do some prep, be it rinsing and drying produce, measuring ingredients, stirring or tearing lettuce leaves.
    • Show them how to make their favorite recipes: burgers, fruit skewers, pasta, pizza, salads, sandwiches, smoothies, etc.
    • Make soup from scratch. Kids can see how easy it is, how delicious it is, and that soup does not naturally come from a can.
    • Bake together. What better way to get kids interested in cooking than the promise of a cookie or piece of cake as the payoff!
     

    When they get proficient, they can invite friends over for a home cooked meal and impress them. (Our mom was throwing elaborate dinner parties at age 12. Alas, we didn’t get to that level until after college.)

    TRENDING?

    Dr. Nimali Fernando is a pediatrician who founded The Doctor Yum Project. Here’s her medical perspective:

    “Childhood obesity is just the tip of the iceberg,” she says. “Under the surface lies the other 70 percent of children, many who may be of normal body weight but suffer from diet-related illnesses. In my practice I see these illnesses like chronic constipation, gastroesophageal reflux, anxiety, and difficulties with attention and concentration. So many of these symptoms are directly related to the diet.”

    Her innovative practice, Yum Pediatrics, also houses a 1000 square foot teaching kitchen, designed to inspire the most reluctant eater. In the kitchen she teaches her patients how to cook and offers classes to the community at large through the Doctor Yum Project.

    Behind the office is a teaching garden meant to be an outdoor waiting space for her patients and a place for her cooking students to learn how food grows and to inspire a love of locally grown produce.

    Can this be turned into a trend among pediatricians nationwide? We hope so!

    COOKBOOKS FOR KIDS

    If you need a nudge, check out these cookbooks, developed for kids:

    • Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Cook Book (details)
    • Betty Crocker Kids Cook! (details)
    • ChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family (details)
    • Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook (details)
    • Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up (details)

      

    Comments

    TIP: Ways To Add More Flavor To Food

    caperberries-2-elvirakalviste-230

    Caperberries or capers (capers are the flower
    bud of the plant, caperberries are the fruit
    with seeds inside) are brined and thus
    contribute saltiness as well as flavor to
    dishes. They and other ingredients (olives, soy
    sauce, etc.) reduce the need to add table
    salt. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Today’s tip comes from Flavor & The Menu, a magazine and website for chefs of fine dining restaurants.

    They “employ every trick in the flavor toolbox to get explosive taste and texture,” according to author Pam Smith, co-chair of The Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Menus R&D Collaborative. “Creating flavor is no magic trick,” she says, “but certain ingredients and techniques can magically make reduced-calorie dishes satisfying—even indulgent.”

    The advice:

  • Acids. High-acid ingredients lend sharp, bright flavor to replace salt or fat. Reduce wines and vinegars to concentrate their flavor; add a squeeze of citrus to finished dishes.
  • Cooking meats. Spices added to rubs and marinades brings out surface flavor, as does caramelization from grilling or searing meats.
  • Healthful fats. Beneficial fats and oils—nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, avocados—enhance mouthfeel and flavor.
  • Herbs. Savory* herbs (basil, dill, oregano, thyme, sage, cilantro) enable the reduction of salt. Finishing a dish with fresh herbs punches up the flavor.
  • High-sodium ingredients. Replace the salt in a recipe with more flavorful sodium: capers, feta, olives, olives or soy sauce, for example.
  • Onions. Members of the onion family, which also includes chives, garlic, scallions (green onions) and shallots, lend a sharp taste and aroma to dishes, whether raw, caramelized, roasted or grilled (how to caramelize onions).
  •  

  • Spices. Use spice and heat to distract the palate. Make use of strong flavors like cayenne, cumin, curry, ginger, horseradish/wasabi, mustard seed, and peppercorn. Toast whole spices before grinding to heighten the flavor and aroma.
  • Umami. Go for “exponential umami” by combining two nucleotide compounds, such as a burger made with beef and roasted mushrooms or tuna with a dash of soy sauce (more about umami).
  •  
    What are you cooking this weekend? Employ as many of these tricks as you can and see how they improve your recipes.

     
    *As opposed to savory herbs, sweet herbs are typically used to flavor beverages and desserts. Examples include apple mint, lavender, peppermint, pineapple mint, pineapple sage and rose geranium. Savory herbs used in sweet applications include anise, basil, licorice and rosemary. Stevia is a sweet herb that is largely a sugar substitute, adding sweetness without additional flavor.
     
      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: How To Avoid Salmonella & Other Food Poisoning

    People tend to worry about food poisoning during the summer months, when eating outdoors exposes food to greater bacterial growth from the heat. But you can get food poisoning year round, including in your own kitchen.

    The Partnership for Food Safety Education helps consumers get the facts, deflating common myths about cross-contamination and the growth of harmful pathogens that cause food poisoning. Here are their myth busters for 2014:

    Myth 1: It’s O.K. to wash bagged greens if I want to. It’s even better for them.

    Fact: While intuition says that giving ready to eat, washed or triple washed salad couldn’t possibly hurt, the truth is otherwise. An extra rinse will not enhance safety, but could potentially lead to cross-contamination from pathogens that could be on your hands or on kitchen surfaces. Ready-to-eat greens are just that: ready!
     
    Myth 2: Cross-contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator. It’s too cold in there for germs to survive!

    Fact: Some bacteria can survive cold environments like the fridge. In fact, Listeria monocytogenes grows at temperatures as low as 35.6°F. A recent study from NSF International reveals that the refrigerator produce compartment is one of the germiest place in the kitchen, containing salmonella and listeria bacteria.

       

    Raw_whole_chicken-chicken.ie-230

    Don’t rinse raw chicken before cooking it. Salmonella can contaminate other items in the sink. Photo courtesy Chicken.ie.

     
    To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, clean the bins regularly with hot soap and water; clean the other surfaces of the fridge likewise, including the walls and undersides of shelves; and clean up any food and beverage skills immediately. Be sure to keep fresh produce separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.

     

    salmonella-kosmix.co-230r

    Not fun: the salmonella bacterium. Photo
    courtesy Kosmix.co.

     

    Myth 3: It’s only important to rinse fresh fruits and vegetables for safety. I don’t need to dry them too.

    Fact: Using a clean cloth or paper towel to blot dry fruits and vegetables after rinsing is more important than you might realize. Research has found that taking a minute to dry the produce reduces the level harmful bacteria that can remain on the surface.

  • Just before use, rinse under running water only that produce that you plan to eat, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten (like melon or citrus).
  • Dry with a clean cloth or a paper towel.
  •  

    Myth 4: I don’t need to rinse this melon for safety, since the part I eat is on the inside.
    Fact: There are many pathogens on the rind that can contaminate the edible portion. A knife or peeler passing through the rind can carry them from the outside to the inside. The rind also touches the flesh when sliced pieces of melon are stacked on a platter. Play it safe and rinse the melon under running water while rubbing it with your hands or scrubbing it with a clean brush and then dry it before slicing.

     

    FOOD SAFETY TRIVIA

  • 65% of people don’t wash their hands before starting meal preparation.
  • 1/3 of people only use water to rinse their hands. You need to use soap!
  • 45% of consumers rinse raw chicken. This spread germs and isn’t a food safety step. Don’t rinse it! (Big surprise—we intuitively rinsed the chicken.)
  • Don’t guess: Use a food thermometer. The safe temperature for cooked chicken is 165°F.
  •  
    For more food safety information, visit FoodSafety.gov.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make It A Trio

    Once upon a time there was a magical restaurant in Wheeling, Illinois, Le Français, the creation of chef-owner Jean Banchet. There, among other glories, we were first introduced to the “trio” approach he brought from his classic French training:

    Whatever protein you hungered for—beef, duck, seafood, veal—would be served in three different preparations on one plate. For example, the lobster trio might include truffled lobster, Lobster Thermidor and lobster sausage.

    By varying cuts, preparations and sauces, Banchet created a symphony of flavors and visual appeal. It became our favorite way of eating.

    The trio approach never took great hold in the U.S. In New York City, we find them mostly in seafood preparations:

  • The trio of fish tacos at Haru Japanese restaurants.
  • A trio of mussels, variously prepared as a seasonal special from Anita Lo of Annisa (see photo).
  • Wild salmon sushi with three different garnishes (fresh ginger and scallion, concasse of tomato and a lemon and vodka marinade topped with lemon zest) at Sushi Seki.
  •  

    mussels-trio-annisa-230

    Photo courtesy Annisa Restaurant | NYC.

     
    Following our enlightenment from Banchet way back in the 1980s, we took to making trios at home for dinner parties. You don’t need a large kitchen staff to turn out three completely different preparations. Here are some tricks:
     

  • Include a sausage as one of the trio. It requires only a quick grilling and an interesting flavored mustard, chutney or other condiment.
  • Consider poaching one of the other two, and grilling, pan frying or roasting the other two. Poultry, filet of beef and seafood are delicious when poached, and the texture is very tender.
  • Use a marinade. A very well-seasoned marinade (lots of herbs, spices, balsamic, etc.) on one of two remaining proteins will differentiate the flavor.
  • Use a dairy based sauce (butter, cheese or cream) and a non-creamy one. The choices are vast: caper, horseradish, mushroom, olive, tomato and wine reduction aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. Browse the sauces section in your cookbooks and check out the mother sauces of France.
  • Think garnishes. The options are endless, but go for good color contrasts.
  •  
    Today’s homework: Start to sketch out some trios: protein, preparation, sauce, garnish. Keep on the refrigerator door and update it as inspiration strikes.
     
    *Jean Banchet, a French chef, founded Le Français in 1973, and soon earned a rare five-star distinction from Mobil. In 1980, it was named the best restaurant in America by Bon Appetit magazine. Banchet retired from Le Français in 2001 and passed away last year.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Check Your Cooking Spray Ingredients

    Some 50 years ago, the debut of the first spray cooking oil, PAM, was a game changer for many cooks. But over the years, the joy of convenience and calorie savings gave way to wariness of the chemical propellants—petroleum, propane and isobutene—said to be 11% of the contents in the aerosol spray can. Today’s tip is to look at the ingredients in the can.

    If you’ve never used it, here’s the 411: Cooking spray is applied to frying pans and other cookware to prevent food from sticking. The virtually calorie-free spray spare the calories and saturated fats of butter, oil or other fat because the sprayed layer is so thin.

    PAM and the cooking spray brands that followed made other tasks a breeze, too—in the kitchen and beyond. We’ve listed some of the popular uses for cooking spray, below.

    In recent years, consumers have become more aware and fussy about the quality of the ingredients they consume. Two companies have decided to lose the controversial chemicals: major brand Bertolli and artisan producer La Tourangelle.

    Opting for compressed air to propel 100% oil (instead of 89% oil and 11% chemicals), these products deliver even better taste without the hint of chemicals.

    The original sprays were a greasing agent; these new, all natural sprays are also salad spritzers, finishing oils* (especially the top-quality La Tourangelle line) and more—for example, a cholesterol-free, mess-free condiment for corn on the cob. In every case you use far less oil than in another type of application.

     
    BERTOLLI 100% OLIVE OIL SPRAY

    The new sprays launch in three varieties:

       

    bertolli-cooking_spry_extravirgin_230

    Spray away, without chemical propellants. Photo courtesy Bertolli.

  • Bertolli 100% Classico Olive Oil Spray, to spray directly on the pan before sautéing proteins and vegetables
  • Bertolli 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray, to spray onto salads and pastas
  • Bertolli 100% Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil Spray, for baking tins and preparations that require high heat
  •  
    You can purchase a six-pack on Amazon.com for $37.52 ($6.25 per five-ounce can), or a three-pack, one of each flavor, for $21.99 ($7.33 per can).

     
    LA TOURANGELLE ARTISAN OIL SPRAYS

    La Tourangelle, the California-based artisanal oil company and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, has launched the first-to-market line of gourmet spray oils that are also all-natural and propellant-free. The company’s top-selling bottled oils are now sprayable:

  • 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Spray
  • Grapeseed Oil Spray
  • Roasted Pistachio Spray
  • Organic Canola Spray
  • Roasted Walnut Oil Spray
  • Thai Wok Spray
  •  
    The products are now available online at LaTourangelle.com and will be hitting store shelves soon. The prices range from $6.99 to $9.99 SRP. Consider them as stocking stuffers for friends with good palates.

     
    *A finishing oil is one that is added to cooked food as a condiment, to add flavor and mouthfeel. It is an oil with especially fine natural flavor and aroma that should be enjoyed as a surface accent, and not used for cooking or baking where the nuances will dissipate under heat. It can be used on carpaccio, legumes, porcini mushrooms, pasta, rice and other grains, roasted meats and fish, vegetables and other foods. Fine olive oil can be drizzled atop vanilla ice cream and garnished with a sprinkle of sea salt.

     

     

    la-tourangelle-sprays-230

    Four of the six new artisan-quality spray oils
    from La Tourangelle. Photo courtesy La
    Tourangelle.

     

    USES FOR COOKING SPRAY

    Cooking spray is godsend for anything that calls for greasing, from skillets to bundt pans. Popular kitchen uses include:

  • Baking & Roasting: baking sheets, baking dishes/casseroles, cake and muffin pans, roasting pans and broiler pans
  • Cookware, with or without non-stick coating: barbecue grills, frying pans/skillets, gelatin molds, griddles, pots
  • Food preparation: preventing food from sticking to spatulas, wooden spoons, skewers, measuring cups (especially when measuring sticky things like honey, syrup and agave), food processor blades and blender blades
  •  
    Adventurous people found uses beyond the kitchen: everything from unsticking doors to preventing fresh nail polish from smudging.

    How about using cooking spray for removing dead bugs from your car, and other unconventional uses?

     
    COOKING SPRAY HISTORY

    PAM, America’s first aerosol cooking spray, was launched in 1961 by entrepreneur Leon Rubin who, with Arthur Meyerhoff, started Gibraltar Industries to market the spray. The name is an acronym for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff. The brand is currently owned and distributed by ConAgra Foods.

    With canola oil as its main ingredient, the appeal of PAM was immediate.

  • For calorie counters, it provided a zero-calorie*, fat-free option for greasing the pan, instead of other fats at 100 calories per tablespoon.
  • For bakers, it was the way to prevent cakes and muffins from sticking.
  • For recipes like vegetables, mozzarella sticks and the like, it helped the seasonings to stick thoroughly.
  • For utensils, coating the inside of a measuring cup with the spray allows sticky substances such as honey to pour out more easily.
  •  
    Not only did it spawn imitators (Baker’s Joy, Crisco, Emeril, Mazola and Smart Balance, for example), but PAM itself developed eight varieties: Original plus Baking, Butter, Canola Oil, Organic Canola Oil, Grilling, Olive Oil, Organic Olive Oil Professional.

    And now, welcome to Cooking Spray 3.0: chemical free.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilling Tips

    quadruple-burger-grilling.com-230

    Burgers are the number one item grilled–
    although few are quadruple burgers, like this
    one. Photo courtesy Grilling.com.

     

    Labor Day, just around the corner, is the third most popular grilling holiday of the year. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s most recent State of the Barbecue Industry Report:

  • 51% of grill owners used their grill on Labor Day last year
  • 52% grilled on Memorial Day
  • A whopping 68% lit up their grills on July 4th
  •  
    It doesn’t stop at the end of summer: Statistics show that 60% of grill owners use their grills year-round.

    What are all of these grills cooking up? The most popular foods for cooking are

  • Burgers, 85%
  • Steak, 80%
  • Hot dogs, 79%
  • Chicken, 73%
  •  
    The side dishes most commonly prepared on the grill are:

  • Corn, 41%
  • Potatoes, 41%
  • Other vegetables, 32%
  •  

    The Association’s website has information including

  • Choosing the Right Grill
  • Popular Accessories
  • Grill Features
  • Knowing Your Fuels
  • Grilling Facts and Figures
  • General Grilling Safety
  • Gas Grill Safety
  • Charcoal Grill Safety
  • Electric Grill Safety
  • Food Handling Safety
  • Easy Grill Clean-Up
     
    The most popular flavors of barbecue sauce? Hickory, followed by mesquite, honey, and then spicy-hot.

  •  

    Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale_1805_230-wiki

    Thomas Jefferson, the First Griller, in 1805. Portrait by Rembrandt Peale | Wikimedia.

     
    Not surprisingly, HPBA has a variety of resources for grillers, including:

  • BBQ 365 Grill Guide.
  • BBQ 365 Calendar featuring barbecue trends, stats, holidays and events throughout the year.
  •  

    GRILLING AT THE WHITE HOUSE

    Barbecues have been a White House tradition since Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the U.S. Fast forward some 160 years: Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president, hosted the first barbecue at the White House that featured Texas-style barbecued ribs.

    Jimmy (the 39th president) and Rosalyn Carter hosted a “pig pickin’” for about 500 guests including visiting foreign dignitaries. Ronald (the 40th) and Nancy Reagan also were avid barbecuers who entertained with barbecues at their ranch.

    George H. Bush, 41st president, held a barbecue for Members of Congress annually on the South Lawn of the White House, a tradition continued by his son, President George W. Bush (43rd). However, that tradition was interrupted on September 12, 2001, the day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    Secret Service agents, who had evacuated the White House a day earlier, cancelled the barbecue. The White House kitchen donated the 700 pounds of beef tenderloin to feed the hundreds of rescue workers who had traveled to Washington.

      

    Comments

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