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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: Healthier Grilling Options

turkey-burger_salad-cheesecakefactory-230

Topped with garnishes, most people will
enjoy a turkey or veggie burger as
much as beef. Photo courtesy Cheesecake
Factory.

 

At the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago, creating “better for you” cuisine is a hot topic of discussion. Many culinary schools first train students in classic French technique. But today’s trend is to learn how to cook foods that are healthier—still mouth-watering and satisfying, but with lower saturated fat, calories or sodium, more dietary fiber, or all of these.

Kendall’s resident nutrition expert and dean, Chef Renee Zonka, RD, CEC, CHE, notes that barbecuing and grilling are excellent opportunities to serve more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, leaner meats and antioxidant-rich seafoods. No one notices this better-for-you food, because virtually everything tastes better when cooked on a grill. Her 10 tips:

1. Non-Beef Burgers. Burgers do not have to be beef in order to be delicious. Turkey, veggie, shrimp and salmon taste great yet have far less fat and cholesterol. Many stores sell them pre-made at the meat counter; look for Chef Big Shake shrimp burgers, loaded with peppers and spices, in the freezer case.

2. Trim the fat, skin the bird. If you must have beef, try ground sirloin for burgers, which contains less saturated fat than 80/20 (20% fat) ground beef. Choose leaner steaks like top sirloin for grilling; with fattier steaks such as Porterhouse, trim all visible fat.

 
Do the same for loin pork chops (pork tenderloin is naturally leaner than beef). Skin chicken and duck breasts, thighs and legs before marinating and tossing on the grill to lock that just-grilled flavor into the meat.

3. Go fish. Oily fin fish like cod and salmon fillets are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Tilapia is not only a sustainable species, but is naturally lean, and can accept virtually any flavor from a marinade or rub before grilling. Heartier fish fillets can go right onto an oiled grill, and more delicate fish can rest on aluminum foil or even sturdy lettuce or banana leaves. Shellfish such as oysters and scallops can be grilled right in their shells. With any lean fish, watch grilling times, as less-fatty species cook quickly.

4. Grill your veggies. Vegetables taste better when grilled, and can tempt even stalwart veggie-avoiders. From asparagus to zucchini, grilling coaxes out vegetables’ natural sugars. Other favorites include bell peppers, corn on the cob, eggplant, mushroom caps, onion, yellow squash, and even sturdy long-leaf lettuces like romaine and endive. Marinate for an hour in the refrigerator first or brush fresh veggies with olive oil on both sides. Experiment with grill times, turning once for those beautiful caramelized grill marks, until done.

 

5. Serve fruit for dessert. Stone fruits like apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums (halved and pitted) and seeded tree fruits like apples and pears, become more exciting when grilled (over medium heat). Fruit’s natural sugars caramelize nicely for a tantalizing smoky/sweet flavor. Pineapple rings, strawberries and even sliced mango and watermelon wedges can go on the grill. Skewer smaller fruits for easy turning and serving. When grilling any fruit, make sure to lightly spray a clean grill with vegetable oil spray to prevent sticking. For softer fruits like stone fruits and mango, leave the peel on to help the fruit stay together on the grill. Serve with optional garnishes such as vanilla yogurt, fat-free plain Greek yogurt sweetened to taste, and pistachios or other nuts.

6. Marinate! Before grilling, marinate meats, seafood and vegetables in citrus juice, vinaigrette, wine, or a simple brine of salted water, for a few minutes to a few hours in the refrigerator. Marinating both tenderizes and adds bolder flavors, so you can use less salt while grilling.

 

grilled-plums-peaches-healthyinahurrybook

Grilled fruit with Greek yogurt and pistachios. Photo courtesy Healthy In A Hurry.

 
Adding a little sweetness to the marinade—like brown sugar, fruit juice, honey or molasses—helps balance the flavor. Add just a touch; you don’t need to “dump the sugar bowl” onto proteins and veggies. Or consider a homemade spice rub from dry herbs and seasonings for a delicious and salt-free flavor boost. For cut fruits, soak in water with a splash of lemon juice (and, if desired, a little cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove or ginger) for up to a half-hour before grilling to maintain their natural juiciness and color.

7. Whole grains salads. Instead of high-fat potato and macaroni salads, a lightly dressed quinoa side dish not only delivers fresh, bright flavor; but whole-grain quinoa is packed with protein and all eight essential amino acids for optimal human health. Available in white, black and red varieties, it is naturally gluten free. Take a look at —like Chef Zonka’s Quinoa & Lentil Salad with Sherry-Dijon Vinaigrette—and Pomegranate Quinoa Tabouli). Make other cold salads with trending whole grains like barley, farro, freekeh and wheat berries. Wild rice, often relegated to autumn and winter, is delicious served cold, studded with fresh veggies and spiked with zesty citrus dressing.

8. Watch your buns. Replace hamburger and hot dog buns made with refined white flour with whole-grain varieties. You’ll get added fiber plus enhanced flavor.

9. Bake beans without the bacon. A hearty and satisfying side dish of baked beans need not rely on animal fat to taste delicious. Beans are a naturally good source of meatless protein and dietary fiber. You can add smoky flavor with a touch of liquid smoke.

10. Watch the sauce. Most commercial brands of barbecue sauce are loaded with sugar (often in the form of high-fructose corn syrup) and sodium. Check the labels and go for those sweetened with agave or Splenda, or consider making your own sauce. Blend canned tomato paste with agave (or much less sugar than commercial brands), spices, vinegar and, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, fruit juice and/or mustard. Taste as you go. For portion control, don’t pour liberally over meats: Brush the sauce on.

Now, your cook-outs will be better-for-you, and you didn’t have to go to culinary school to learn how to do it!

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: 7 Uses For Broth Or Stock

Digging in the back of the pantry, we found several cartons of beef, chicken and vegetable broth and stock stock nearing expiration. We grabbed a pencil and created this list of how to use them:

Braise & Glaze. Braise meats, glaze vegetables. Any savory recipe that calls for the addition of water can probably be improved by substituting stock.

Cook Grains. Substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the cooking water and your grains will taste so much better. Use two parts stock to one part barley, couscous, rice, quinoa or other favorite grain.

Drink A Cup. Beef and chicken broth are protein-packed alternatives to a hot cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy a cup plain or with cracked pepper, minced herbs and/or a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Spice it up with a splash of hot sauce or minced chiles.

Make Pasta En Brodo. An Italian classic, soup pasta or tortellini cooked in broth and served in the cooking broth with generous amounts of pasta. You can substitute barley, quinoa or other nutritious grain for the pasta. (Add spaghetti to chicken broth and you’ve got chicken noodle soup.)

 

swanson-chicken-broth-carton-230b

A versatile pantry sample. Photo courtesy Swanson.

 

imagine-vegetable-broth-carton-230

For recipes or a cup of pick-me-up. Photo
courtesy Imagine Foods.

 

Make Polenta. While we typically save time by purchasing premade rolls of polenta, the homemade version is so much better—and even better when made with stock instead of water. (In cooking school, which followed French techniques, we were instructed to make it with cream. Nope!)

Make Risotto. We love an excuse to whip up a risotto. You need arborio, carnaroli or vialone nano rice (these starchier varieties create risotto’s creaminess—see the different types of rice). While plain risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano or other Italian grating cheese is delicious, wild mushroom risotto or seafood risotto is submlime. Seasonal vegetables are another fine addition. Here’s a recipe for asparagus and shrimp risotto.

Make Soup. Add pasta and veggies for homemade chicken noodle soup; use as a base for anything from minestrone to hot and sour soup.

 
STOCK & BROTH: THE DIFFERENCE

The difference between a stock and a broth is the seasoning. Stock is not seasoned; it is an unfinished product that is an ingredient in another dish. For example, stock is used to make gravy (beef stock is use used for au jus), marinades, risotto, sauces and other soups.

So, if you’re using stock, you’ll need to add salt to your desired level. Broth already contains salt.

Broth is a thin soup is made from a clear stock foundation. The terms bouillon and broth are used interchangeably. However, a bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantive with the addition of a grain (corn, barley, rice) and vegetables.

Here are the related types of soups, including consommé and velouté.

 

  

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TIP: Save Your Olive Pits

olive-pits-flheritage.com-230r

Save those olive pits! Photo courtesy Florida
Department Of State.

 

Here’s something new to try this barbecue season: olive pits.

Who knew:

Dropping a few olive pits (a.k.a. stones) onto the barbecue coals adds a really special aroma that will have people guessing as to its origin.

Here’s all you have to do:

  • Collect the olive pits, clean them and dry them.
  • Store them in an airtight jar until ready to use.
  • Toss onto the hot coals before adding the food.
  •  
    Let us know how you like it.

     

    What else can you do with olive pits?

    If the climate is right, you can grow a tree from scratch. Otherwise, we’re stumped. If you have suggestions, let us know!

      

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    TRENDS: What’s New In Barbecue

    Spell it barbecue, barbeque or the short form BBQ, May first is the start of the May-September peak outdoor cooking season. Not surprisingly, it’s National Barbecue Month.

    According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), nearly 14 million grills and smokers were shipped in 2013. This year’s industry expo, held in March, displayed more innovative grills, smokers and outdoor living products to tempt gung-ho grillers.

    Here are the 2014 barbecue trends:

  • Wood pellets are on the rise. Made from compressed sawdust, wood pellets are heating up grills and smokers across the country. An all-natural product, wood pellets produce a strong, slow-burning source of heat that gives a unique smoky flavor to foods. This year, new wood pellet grills and smokers are making it easier to cook outdoors no matter what time of year. Wood pellets grills and smokers use a variety of pellet forms to create different smoky tastes, all with a simple and easy cleanup process.
  •  

    grilled-flank-steak-quesadillas-kingsfordcharcoal-230

    Grilled flank steak quesadillas. Photo courtesy Kingsford Charcoal. Here’s the recipe.

     

  • Grills and smokers are more portable. Whether for tailgating, campsites or cooking on the beach, manufacturers have made it easier to take the party anywhere. The new, lightweight grills and smokers are easily collapsible and portable, with all-terrain features that make it simple to cook and smoke foods on-the-go.
  •  

    grilled-pizza-grilling.com-230

    Grill your pizza. Here’s the recipe. Photo
    courtesy Grilling.com.

     
  • Outdoor ovens. Innovations in outdoor gas and wood-fired ovens make it easier to cook anything you can make on the inside. Use your outdoor oven for baked desserts, pizza and roasted (as opposed to grilled) vegetables. Outdoor ovens also provide an extra cooking space during the holidays and other special occasions.
  • Organized accessories. When entertaining outdoors, it’s important to have everything you need right at your fingertips. New innovations such as countertops with drawer storage and drink coolers make it easy to party outside. With full sinks, refrigerators and lighting, you can be equipped outdoors with all the amenities of your indoor kitchen.
  •  
    THINGS TO BARBECUE

    Beyond proteins and veggies, have you grilled bread, desserts, pizza and quesadillas?

    Get yourself a barbecue recipe book, like The Barbecue! Bible, which has more than 500 recipes.

    Or, check out blogs like 100 Things To Barbecue.

     

      

    Comments

    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.

     

    chicken-tagine-lecreuset-230

    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.

     

    black-white-tagine-230

    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.

      

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    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).

     

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    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.

      

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