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TIP OF THE DAY: Banza Chickpea Pasta

Banza Penne Bolognese

Mac and Cheese

Banza Rotini

Enjoy your favorite pasta dishes with more protein and fiber, fewer carbs, and no gluten! [1] Penne Bolognese. [2] Mac and Cheese. [3] A box of rotini, one of five Banza pasta shapes (all photos courtesy Banza).

 

Toward the end of 2016, we went on a gluten-free pasta-thon, tasting every type of GF pasta we could find.

We love rice noodles: gluten free, but they don’t complement European pasta sauces and other noodle dishes.

So we tried pasta made from brown rice, brown rice-kale blends, corn, farro, lentils, soybeans, even quinoa. (We found the last, which we like as an earthy grain, undesirable as pasta.)

The winner by far: chickpea pasta, which looks, cooks, and tastes like regular pasta.

Yes, the same lovely legume that gives us hummus makes the best pasta!

The pasta has a slight chickpea flavor if you eat it plain; but covered with sauce, cheese and perhaps meatballs, sausage or anchovies (or sausage and anchovies, for surf and turf), most people aren’t likely to notice a difference.

Bonus: Chickpea pasta has double the protein, four times the fiber and almost half the net carbs.

Interestingly, Banza was not developed because the founder sought a GF pasta, but because he wanted more nutrition from pasta, one of his favorite foods.

He achieved just that: The nutrient-dense pasta boasts 25 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber and just and C43 grams of carbs in each serving.

It has been embraced by athletes and vegans looking for more protein in their diets, by the gluten-sensitivite community, by parents trying to sneak more “good stuff” into the family’s diet via their favorite carbs.

The line includes:

  • Elbows
  • Mac And Cheese: Classic Cheddar, White Cheddar, Deluxe Rich & Creamy
  • Rotini
  • Penne Rigate
  • Shells
  • Spaghetti
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    There are delicious recipes on the brand’s blog. You can buy the pasta on the website, or at some 5,000 retailers and etailers nationwide.

    Even if you aren’t looking for gluten-free pasta, how about some high-nutrition pasta—for hot dishes, cold pasta salads, even a sweet noodle pudding, made with elbows, ricotta and raisins?

    The brand is certified kosher by OU.

     

     
      

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    GLUTEN FREE: Cheryl’s Cookies

    Cheryl's Gluten Free Cookies

    Gluten Free Cookies

    You can’t tell that these gluten-free cookies are gluten free! Photo courtesy Cheryl’s.

     

    We have dear friends and readers with gluten sensitivity, so we keep an eye out for anything above the ordinary that they might enjoy.

    When Cheryl’s offered us a taste test of their conventional versus gluten-free cookies in advance of National Gluten Free Day (January 13th), we didn’t hesitate to bite.

    They said we wouldn’t be able to taste the difference, and they were correct.

    No one could tell that the GF cookies were gluten free. The texture had no graininess or other telltale sign of most gluten free cookies.

    The one difference is that the GF cookies are less sweet than the conventional ones. But this feature would only be noticed in a side-by-side tasting.

    So if you want cookies for yourself, or are looking to Valentine’s Day gifts, head to Cheryl’s.

    There are gift boxes of every description, filled with:

  • Brownie walnut cookies
  • Snickerdoodle cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Buttercream-frosted sugar cookies
  • Fudge brownies
  •  
    (We tasted only the chocolate chip and snickerdoodle GF flavors.)

    The cookies are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and are individually wrapped for grab-and-go as well as freshness.

    Check out the selection at Cheryls.com.

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat More Fish With Sashimi Salad

    If you want to eat more fish but don’t like cooking it, here’s an easy idea: sashimi salad.

    Just toss sliced fish over greens.

    Instead of opening a can or searing the fish tataki-style (briefly seared), sashimi salad is an easy alternative.

    A decade ago one of our favorite neighborhood sushi bars closed, taking with it one of our favorite foods, “marinated salmon”—was a mesclun salad with onions dressed in vinaigrette and topped with slices of salmon sashimi.

    It was deliciousness, low in calories, and had eye appeal: a culinary home run. We had it several times a week.

    When the restaurant was replaced by a cupcake parlor, we had to make it at home. Aside from fetching fresh salmon, it couldn’t have been easier.
     
     
    1. SELECT YOUR FISH.

    Ask for recommendations at the fish counter. The staff can also slice the salmon or tuna loins into sashimi-thickness slices.

    The typical sashimi slice is 2 inches by 1/16 inch, but you can have them sliced longer and thicker as you prefer (longer is also better to drape over a mound of salad, as in photo # 2).

    You can also consider the kaku-zukuri cut (“square slice”, photo #5) of 3/4-inch cubes (photos #1, #3 and #4).

    The sashimi sold in sushi restaurants in North America is flash-frozen, whether it is local or flown in from elsewhere. It is thawed before preparation. You can purchase flash-frozen fish in your supermarket, slowly thaw it overnight in the fridge and eat it the next day.

    You may also find live salmon and other varieties at Asian fish markets, where they can filet them for you.

     
    2. PICK YOUR GREENS.

    Are you in the mood for something more mild, like a mesclun mix; or a peppery arugula and watercress? A mixture is always a good idea.

    If you like crunch, consider shredded cabbage (cole slaw mix).

    We like onion in our salad. Japanese recipes use green onions (scallions); but you can add your allium of preference (the different types of onions).
     
     
    3. ADD OTHER VEGETABLES & FRUITS.

    Use whatever you have, or add whatever you like. We personally like:

  • Avocado
  • Baby beets
  • Blueberries and/or blackberries
  • Carrot curls
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Chinese vegetables: bamboo shoots, bok choy, napa cabbage, etc.
  • Diced honeydew
  • Edamame
  • Japanese pickles (oshinko and tsukemono, available online or at Asian food stores)
  • Lychees or rambutans
  • Mango or papaya
  • Orange or mandarin segments (particularly blood orange)
  • Radish slices, or shredded daikon (Japanese radish)
  • Seaweed salad or kimchi
  • Snow peas or sugar snap peas
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    Sashimi Salad

    Sashimi Salad

    Sashimi Salad With Quinoa

    Sashimi Salad

    Square Cut Toro Sashimi

    [1] Mesclun with tuna cubes, at Kabuki Restaurants. [2] Conventional sashimi strips over a mounded salad, garnished with cherry tomatoes and tobacco, at Natsumi | NYC. [3] Double the nutrition: Sashimi salad over quinoa (or your whole grain of choice), at Sushi Samba. [4] Sashimi salad with wasabi & passionfruit dressing. Here’s the recipe from from Delicious | Australia. [5] kaku-zukuri, square-cut sushi; here, toro from Fish For Sushi.

     

    Shichimi Togarashi

    Nori Strips

    [6] Shichimi Togarashi, a blend of seven Japanese spices (photo courtesy Yahoo). [7] Nori strips, scissor-cut from nori sheets (photo courtesy Food Sharing With Little One).

     

    4. PICK YOUR DRESSING.

    Rice vinegar and/or lime juice with olive oil (and a splash of sesame oil if you have it) make an excellent basic vinaigrette for sashimi salad.

    You can also add salad oil to ponzu sauce.

    Here are some more-elaborate favorites:

  • Wasabi-passionfruit dressing.
  • Yuzu dressing.
  • Nobu’s sashimi salad dressing is simple: onion, rice vinegar, water, mustard and pinches of granulated sugar, sea salt and black pepper.
  • For something more lively, take a look at this mint cilantro vinaigrette.
  • This gluten-free ginger dressing uses tamari instead of soy sauce, plus green onions and a splash of sake.
  • If you like things spicy, check out spicy Korean sashimi salad, hwe dap bap, which uses gochujang, spicy red pepper paste.
  • Or, simply splash some sriracha into the vinaigrette. This fusion recipe combines soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, lime juice and sriracha.
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    5. PICK YOUR GARNISH.

  • Citrus zest or julienned strips
  • Crispy Chinese noodle or wonton strips
  • Nori strips (photo #7)
  • Scallions, finely-sliceds
  • Sesame seeds—black, white, regular or toasted
  • Shichimi togarishi, Japanese spice blend (red chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger and seaweed)
  • Tobiko (flying fish roe), available in different colors (green, orange, red, yellow) and flavors, like wasabi tobiko
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    6. BEVERAGE PAIRINGS

  • Green tea or black tea, hot or iced (but no milk and sugar in the black tea). We especially like Genmaicha, green tea with toasted rice that gives it a lovely, nutty; flavor.
  • Mineral water, especially sparkling with a high level of minerals.
  • Rosé, sparkling wine or white wine.
  • Sparkling water/club soda, plain or citrus-flavored.
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    GIFTS OF THE DAY: Rum Cake, Espresso Cake, Bundt Cake, Gift Cake

    Rum Cake

    Espresso Bundt Cake

    Espresso Bundt Cake

    [1] Divine rum cakes in 6 flavors from Rum Sisters. [2] This expresso cake from 1812 House: a coffee lover’s dream cake. [3] A duo of small espresso bundt cakes with caramel sauce.

     

    GIFT #1: RUM SISTERS, RUM CAKES & MORE

    We’ve tried lots of rum cake. But the Rum Sisters make the best we’ve tried in recent memory.

    The business was begun by two friends who shared a love of baking, cake and alcohol.

    Not to mention the skills to make truly great whiskey-infused cakes.

    Not to mention the premium ingredients, including fine rum, bourbon, Irish whiskey and Kahlúa.

    These rum cakes are so good, we ate the whole sampler box—6 mini bundts-in two days. When there was not a crumb left, we cried plaintively: More! More!

    There’s a tempting selection:

  • Bushwacker: Named after the coastal frozen drink, this rum cake has a delicious infusion of coconut and chocolate..
  • Drunken Monkey: Touted as “the best banana bread ever,” this cake is infused with bourbon.
  • Keel Over: This version of a classic rum cake is infused with dark rum.
  • Spice It Up: Think of the carrot cake with raisin and spiced rum.
  • The Big “O”: Aged Irish Whiskey and Irish Cream distinguish combine in this special flavor.
  • Twisted Sista: This dark chocolate cake is infused with Kahlúa and finished with white chocolate rum, a “twisted” medley of flavors.
  • Gluten Free Cakes: Keel Over and Twisted Sista are both made in GF versions.
  •  
    Cakes are $25 (small) and $50 (large). Get acquainted with all six flavors in the Sumptuous Sampler of mini bundts, $30. (Regular folks might split one with a cup of tea, or eat half at a time.)

    Head to RumSisters.com.
     
    GIFT #2: ESPRESSO CAKE FOR COFFEE LOVERS

    Matthews 1812 House is a second-generation family business. The Matthews family started in 1979 in the family farmhouse in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut (the house was built in 1812).

    From a line of two fruitcakes, “baking racks in the hallways and people sorting apricots and pecans on the dining room table,” the company now has a dedicated facility a mile away, and a full line of specialty cakes into cookies, bars, and other sweet treats.

     
    The flavor we haven’t seen before is the Espresso Bundt Cake. If a cup of espresso can be transformed into a cake, this is it.

    The moist cake has a bold coffee flavor, a hint of cinnamon, and less sugar than most bundt cakes. That’s why you can easily add caramel sauce, ice cream or whipped cream.

    A large bundt cake is $29.00; two mini-bundts, called Duo Cakes, $15.00, are packaged with espresso caramel sauce that fits nicely in the top wells.

    Order at 1812House.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Coconut Milk & The Different Types Of Soups

    Twenty-five years ago, people who needed an alternative to dairy milk turned to soy milk. Then rice milk arrived.

    Today there’s quite a selection of non-dairy milks: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, hemp, oat, rice and soy.

    Since 1999, according to market research firm Euromonitor, plant-based alternatives milks have grown in annual sales by an average of 10.9%. They are now a $1 billion-plus category in domestic retail sales.

    The trend is based on personal factors: allergies, kosher and vegan diets, lactose intolerance and sustainable lifestyles (the manure and flatulence of dairy animals produce huge amounts of methane, a major greenhouse gas. Here’s more information).

    As with dairy milks*, each plant-based milk has a different flavor and nutritional profile.

    Although we drink a large amount of cow’s milk, we like plant-based milks for different reasons: chocolate and green tea almond or soy milk for a refreshing drink, cashew milk as a delicious newcomer, coconut milk for cooking.

    We especially like coconut in creamy soups. It gives a slight Thai twist; add hot chile slices and lemongrass for the full Thai experience.

    Some of our favorite thai dishes include coconut rice, coconut curried chicken, coconut pumpkin soup, and our beloved tom ka gai, coconut chicken soup. All get their coconut flavor from unsweetened coconut milk.

    But for today, here’s a fusion soup: chowder with coconut milk. It has another popular Thai ingredient too: hot chile slices.

    RECIPE: SPICY SEA BASS CHOWDER WITH COCONUT MILK

    Sea bass is poached in coconut milk for this extra rich and velvety hearty chowder. DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com, which gave us the recipe, suggests that it be paired with California chardonnay or viognier.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon (15g) coconut oil
  • 5 spring onions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small red jalapeño, thinly sliced into rounds (substitute the slender Thai or birdseye chiles if you can find them)
  • 5 medium Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes (about 1½ pounds/675g), peeled and cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes
  • 3 cups (720ml) unsweetened coconut milk, well stirred
  • ½ cup (125ml) water
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces/225g), peeled and cut into ½-inch (1.25cm) cubes
  • 1½ pounds (680g) sea bass fillets, cut into 2-inch (5cm) pieces
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
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    Preparation

    1. HEAT the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking

    2. ADD the onions, garlic, and jalapeño; cook, stirring for 1 minute.

    3. ADD the potatoes; cook and stir for 1 minute.

    4. STIR in the red bell pepper, coconut milk, water and salt. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 5 minutes

    5. ADD the zucchini and bass. Bring to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes.

    6. DIVIDE the chowder among 4 bowls. Squeeze the juice of one lime wedge over each serving.
     
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    *The list of animal milks drunk worldwide includes camel, cow, donkey, goat, horse, llama, reindeer, sheep, water buffalo and yak.

       

    Sea Bass & Coconut Chowder Recipe

    So Delicious Coconut Milk

    Coconut Banana Smoothie

    Coconut Milk Flan

    [1] Fish chowder with coconut milk (photo courtesy Discover California Wines). The recipe is below. [2] Coconut milk is available in cartons and cans (photo courtesy So Delicious). [3] Try coconut milk in your next banana smoothie (this recipe has pineapple as well, from Makes And Takes). [4] Many desserts can be made with coconut milk, from ice cream to this coconut milk flan (here’s the recipe from Care 2).

     

    Seafood Broth

    Corn & Zucchini Chowder

    Lobster Bisque

    [1] Consommé, clarified into an elegant, clear liquid (photo courtesy Picholine | NYC. [2] Chowder, here the chunkiest soup, packed with goodies. Here’s the recipe for this corn and zucchini chowder from LittleBroken.com. Some, like Manhattan clam chowder, do not contain dairy. [3] Bisque is a creamy seafood soup, pureed into smoothness (photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com).

     

    THE DIFFERENCES: BROTH, CHOWDER, SOUP & MORE

  • Bisque: A thick, creamy soup that traditionally was made from puréed shellfish. Today bisques are also made from fruits, game fish and vegetables.
  • Broth & Stock: Liquids in which meat, fish, grains or vegetables have been simmered. The difference between a broth and a stock is that broth is made from the desirable ingredients; stock is made from “leftovers” such as bones and skin; thus broth is richer and more nourishing than stock. Both are used as a base for soups and gravies.
  • Chowder: Chunky soups thickened with flour. The main ingredient chowder can range widely, including chicken, corn, fish and seafood.
  • Consommé: A broth that has been clarification. This means that egg whites or other ingredients are boiled in the broth to coagulate the sediment, resulting in a clear, elegant-looking soup.
  • Gumbo: A dish that can fall into the soup or stew category, a strong stock of meat and/or fish/seafood, with pieces of the protein and a variety of vegetables, served over rice. Gumbo is traditionally thickened with okra or filé powder (from the sassfras tree) and vegetables. A gumbo is traditionally served over rice.
  • Gravy: Gravy is not a soup, but a sauce; although Americans have often turned canned soups into sauces. Gravies are made from the juices of cooked meat or vegetables after they have been cooked. Almost all gravies start with a roux (ROO), a mixture of flour and butter; and are thickened with starch (flour, corn starch, arrowroot, etc).
  • Purée: Some soups are puréed into smoothness. A purée can be considered a vegetable or grain/pulse counterpoint to a bisque. The technique also produces smooth apple sauce, whipped potatoes and puréed vegetables (carrot purée, broccoli purée, etc.).
  • Ragout: The French term for a main-dish stew. Note that in Italian, n Italian cuisine, ragù is a meat-based pasta sauce.
  • Soup: Any combination of ingredients cooked in a liquid base: fish/seafood, fruit, meats, starches and vegetables. Soups can be thick and hearty or thin and delicate. While cooked ingredients can remain in the soup, the objective of the ingredients is to flavor the liquid. Soup can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. Fruit soups can be served for starters or desserts.
  • Stew: A hearty dish made from proteins, vegetables, pulses, etc., simmered in a liquid (water, broth, stock, wine, beer) and then served in the resulting gravy. Stewing is a technique to cook less tender cuts of meat: The slow cooking method tenderizes the meat and the lower temperature allows the flavors to combine. There is a thin line between soups and chunky soups; generally, stews contain less liquid. Sometimes the name is adopted for a soup. Oyster Stew, for example, is a thick soup with butter and milk or cream, like a bisque.
  •  
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SOUP

    THE HISTORY OF SOUP

     

      

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