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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Gourmet News

TIP OF THE DAY: Top 10 Pasta Cooking Tips

It seems like a no-brainer to boil pasta, yet there are several “best practices.”

For National Pasta Month, here are some basic pasta tips that many people—including our interns—don’t know.

1. USE A LARGE, LIDDED POT. Pasta needs room to cook without sticking: 4-5 quarts of water per pound of pasta. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, after the pasta is added, a larger pot of water will return to a boil faster. Especially with long cuts (strand or ribbon pasta), more water helps to reduce sticking, by washing away the exuded starch* from the pasta surface more efficiently. A six-quart stock pot is perfect for boiling pasta.

2. SALT THE WATER. Salt the water before you boil it—1-2 tablespoons for a large pot. You need the salt or the pasta will be bland.

3. NEVER ADD OIL TO THE POT. This longstanding “tip” was a marketing ploy from a salad oil company back around the 1960. The company sought ways for consumers to use more oil, and convinced many people that adding oil to the water prevents the pasta from sticking. However, the practice covers the pasta with a slick of oil so the sauce doesn’t stick.


Stock Pot for Pasta

This six-quart stock pot from Tramontina has a removable drain spout: No colander is needed to drain the pasta.


4. PLACE A LID ON THE POT to EFFICIENTLY bring the water to boil. It takes long enough boil with a lid holding in the heat. You’ll be waiting forever (and water will evaporate) without one.

5. SCOOP UP A CUP OF PASTA WATER and set it aside before you drain the pasta. This starchy water can thicken your sauce. Add a tablespoon to the sauce, or more as desired. This is especially important with egg-based sauces like carbonara, since it also helps prevent the egg from curdling when it touches the hot pasta.

6. NEVER RINSE THE PASTA AFTER YOU DRAIN IT. This washes away the remaining surface starch, which you need in order for the sauce to stick to the pasta.



Another tip: Cut down on carbs by serving smaller portions of pasta as a first course, followed by a protein course. Photo courtesy Steak & Whisky.


7. QUICKLY TOSS THE HOT PASTA WITH THE HOT SAUCE. While restaurants in the U.S. often place the sauce on top of the pasta, that’s a visual enhancement rather than a flavor enhancement. A top restaurant will serve the pasta already tossed with the sauce. The hotter both the pasta and the sauce are, the more flavor the pasta will absorb. Have the sauce heated in a covered pot (or in the microwave), ready to go when you drain the pasta.

8. USE THE POT TO BLEND THE PASTA AND SAUCE. After you’ve drained the pasta pot, dump the pasta back in, along with the sauce. Cover the pot and let the pasta absorb the sauce for a minute; then stir again and serve immediately.

9. ADD SOME MINCED FRESH HERBS. You can toss them with the pasta and sauce, or use it as a garnish on top of the dish. We also have a peppermill filled with crushed red chili flakes, to grind into the pasta or for self-service at the table.

10. USE REAL PARMESAN CHEESE. The best way to get the most robust cheese flavor is to keep a wedge and pass it around the table with a grater, so people can freshly grate as much as they like.


Here’s advice from Barilla:

  • One pound of dry short-cut pasta (bow ties, elbows, penne, rigatoni, etc.) yields nine cups cooked. One pound of spaghetti or linguine yields seven cups cooked.
  • As a main course, plan for 1/4 cup of dried pasta (4 ounces) per person. A one-pound package should provide four dinner-size servings.
  • If you’re serving pasta as a first course or a side dish, plan for 1/8 cup of dried pasta (2 ounces) per person.
  • The final cooked amount will vary by shape. Spaghetti and macaroni shapes (short cuts) can double in volume when cooked. Read the package information. For example, it may say that 1/2 cup elbow macaroni = 1 cup cooked pasta, 3/4 cup penne = 1 cup cooked pasta, 1/8 pound spaghetti = ¼ cup cooked pasta, etc.
  • Egg noodles do not expand significantly when cooked; and fresh pasta, which contains a lot of moisture, doesn’t expand at all. For these varieties, plan three ounces for a first course or side dish and five ounces for a main dish.
    Rule Of Thumb Measurements

  • Small to Medium Pasta Shapes (bow ties, elbow macaroni, medium shells, mostaccioli, penne, radiatore, rigatoni, rotini, spirals, twists, wagon wheels): 8 ounces uncooked = 4 cups cooked.
  • Long Pasta Shapes (angel hair, bucatini, fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti, vermicelli): 8 ounces uncooked or 1½ inch diameter bunch = 4 cups cooked.
  • Egg Noodles: 8 ounces uncooked = 2½ cups cooked.


    *When you drop pasta into a pot of boiling water, the starch granules on the surface of the pasta instantly swell up and pop. This discharges the surface starch and briefly, the pasta’s surface is sticky with the released starch. Most of this surface starch will dissolves into the water.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sunchokes Are In Season

    Fresh from California, sunchokes are in season. Their flavor gets even better after at a light frost. This brings us to the question:


    Sunchokes, a modern term for Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) are edible tubers that grow underground, similar to potatoes. The word is a contraction of “sunflower chokes”; sunchokes are close relatives of sunflowers. They are both in the botanical family Asteraceae and the genus Helianthus.

    Sunchokes taste like a cross between potatoes and artichoke hearts (although they are related to neither), with a slightly nuttiness. Although many people peel them before cooking, we enjoy the earthy flavor of the skins. (We also loved baked potato skins, if that’s any measure.)

    Root vegetables are generally storage organs, enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrates. True roots include:

  • Taproots, such as beet, burdock, carrot, celeriac, daikon, dandelion, jicama, parsley root*, parsnip, radish, rutabaga, salsify and turnip, among others not well-known in the U.S.
  • Tuberous roots, such as cassava/yuca/manioc, Chinese/ Korean yam, and sweet potato, among others.
  • Other root vegetables include:

  • Bulbs (fennel; garlic, green onion/scallion, leek, onion, shallot and the rest of the Allium family)
  • Corms (Chinese water chestnut, taro)
  • Rhizomes (arrowroot, galangal, ginger, ginseng, lotus root, turmeric)
  • Tubers (Chinese artichoke/crosne, Jerusalem artichoke/ sunchoke, potato, ube, yam)
    Sunchoke tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 3-4 inches long and 1.2–2 inches thick. The color is often light brown, but some varieties are purple, red or white. Brown sunchokes vaguely resemble ginger root in appearance, and can be eaten raw or cooked.
    *Parsley root is not related to parsley, the herb, but is a beige root vegetable that resembles a parsnip or turnip. The edible leaves that grow above the ground do resemble curly parsley leaves, but taste like celery. Parsley root is also called turnip-rooted parsley. In Germany it is known as Hamburg parsley, and is a popular winter vegetable in Germany, Holland and Poland.


    Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke)

    Jerusalem Artichoke Plant

    TOP PHOTO: The Jerusalem artichoke, or sunchoke, is the root of a sunflower-like plant. Some subscpecies are purple, red or white. Photo courtesy Culinary Vegetable Institute. BOTTOM PHOTO: You can see the resemblance of this Jerusalem artichoke plant to its cousin, the sunflower. Photo by PJF | Wikimedia.



    Sunchokes & Kale


    TOP PHOTO: Mix sunchokes with mashed potatoes or other roots, or combine it into a hash with kale and farro. Recipe from Food & Wine. BOTTOM PHOTO: Crispy Jerusalem Artichokes from Here’s the recipe.



    Jerusalem artichokes are native to eastern North America and were first cultivated by Native Americans, long before the arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans. The plant grew wild along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Nova Scotia.

    The explorer Samuel de Champlain first encountered it in 1605, growing in a Native American vegetable garden in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Native Americans called the food sun roots, and introduced them to the Pilgrims, who grew them as a staple food.

    By the mid-1600s, Jerusalem artichokes had become a common vegetable for human consumption in France, where they were transported by de Champlain. In New England, they were a staple for the settlers. They were also used as livestock feed on both continents.

    The French worked their culinary magic on the tuber, which reached peak popularity at the turn of the 19th century. But if you fast-forward two centuries, some glory remains: The Jerusalem artichoke was named “best soup vegetable” at the 2002 Nice Festival For The Heritage Of The French Cuisine. [Source]

    The Jerusalem artichoke is not part of the artichoke family but is a member of the sunflower family. The tall yellow flowers are decorative; the tasty part is the root in the ground.

    Why is it called Jerusalem, when the Jerusalem artichoke is native to North America?

    De Champlain felt the tuber tasted like artichokes, and he brought plants back to France with the name Jerusalem artichokes (the modern French name is topinambour). The Puritans referred to their settlement as “New Jerusalem” (after the Book Of Revelations), which may account† for the first part of the name.

    †The Italian word for sunflower is girasole (gee-rah-SO-lay), which could have evolved to “Jerusalem” over time. However, Jerusalem artichokes predated any significant Italian immigration to America by two centuries. A better explanation for the name is that it derives from the Puritans gave their New World settlement: New Jerusalem.

    Around the 1970s, California growers realized that they had a marketing problem with Jerusalem artichoke. Just as the unexciting “prunes” became “dried plums”—and the Patagonian toothfishbecame the very popular Chilean sea bass—a more tantalizing name was sought. A suggestion of “sunflower artichoke” was contracted to sunchoke.

    Other names include earth apple, and sunroot.

    Sunchokes can be cooked like potatoes: boiled, fried, grilled, mashed, microwaved or steamed. Raw, it is reminiscent of jicama, and can be added raw to salads. in stir-fries and soups and simply blanched and sauteed with garlic. They can be mashed or blended into mashed potatoes.

    And there’s nothing like a medley of roasted root vegetables, such as beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips and sunchokes. Here are more elaborate recipes:

  • Brioche-Crusted Fish With Sunchoke Purée and Sunchoke Pickles (recipe)
  • Fried Sunchoke Chips With Rosemary Salt (recipe)
  • Hanger Steak With Shallots & Sunchokes (recipe)
  • Olive Oil Poached Salmon With Sunchoke Purée (recipe)
  • Roast Sunchokes (recipe)
  • Sunchoke & Arugula Salad (recipe)
  • Sunchoke & Kale Hash With Farro (recipe)
  • Sunchoke Purée (recipe)
  • Sunchoke Soup WIth Pumpkin Seeds (recipe)
  • Tamarind-Braised Short Ribs with Truffle Sunchoke Purée, Watercress Purée, and Glazed Chanterelle Mushrooms (recipe)
    Before cooking, scrub sunchokes well with a vegetable brush under running water. They can be eaten raw, but have been known to cause gastric upset in some people. It you have a tender tummy, first try a small piece of the raw root.

    Choose chokes that are firm, with no soft spots. As with potatoes, avoid nicks or cuts in the peel.

    Store in a cool, dry place, or keep the sunchokes in the crisper drawer of the fridge, wrapped in a paper towel to absorb excess moisture.

    One cup of sunchokes has 109 calories, 0 fat or cholesterol, 6 mg sodium, 643 mg potassium, 26 g total carbohydrte, 2.4 g dietary fiber, 14 g sugar and 3g protein.

    Most significant among vitamins and minerals, one cup contains 10% DV of vitamin C and 28% DV of iron.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Liqueur Day

    It’s National Liqueur Day, so celebrate with a shot of your favorite.

    But first, what is liqueur?

    Pronounced lih-CUR in French and lih-KYOOR by some Americans, it’s one of a group of after-dinner drinks that also includes eau de vie, cordial and schnapps.

    Most people—including American producers and importers—use these terms interchangeably. But there are differences:


  • Schnaps/schnapps, a generic German word for liquor or any alcoholic beverage, is more specific in English, where it refers to clear brandies distilled from fermented fruits. The English added a second “p,” spelling the word as schnapps. True Schnaps has no sugar added, but products sold in the U.S. as schnapps may indeed be sweetened. As one expert commented, “German Schnaps is to American schnapps as German beer is to American Budweiser.”
  • Eau de vie is the French term for Schnaps. American-made brands labeled eau de vie (“water of life”) are often heavily sweetened, and have added glycerine for thickening.


    You can drink liqueur from any glass, but this is one of the classic liqueur glass shapes. Photo courtesy Bourbon Blog.

  • Liqueur is an already distilled alcohol made from grain which has already been fermented, into which fruits are steeped. It is sweeter and more syrupy than a European eau de vie or schnapps.
  • Cordial, in the U.S., almost always refers to a syrupy, sweet alcoholic beverage, a synonym for liqueur. In the U.K., it refers to a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink or the syrup used to make such a drink. Rose’s Lime Cordial, a British brand, is called Rose’s Lime Juice in the U.S. so Americans don’t think it’s alcoholic.
    The distillation of alcohol may have taken place as early as 200 C.E., possibly by alchemists trying to make gold (the history). Because spirits were initially intended to be medicinal, “water of life” was a reasonable name for distilled alcoholic preparations.

    The Russian term zhiznennia voda, which was distilled down (that’s a pun) into “vodka,” also means water of life (the literal translation of vodka is “little water”).

    The Gaelic uisce beatha, pronounced ISH-ka BYA-ha, too, means “water of life.” The pronunciation evolved into the more familiar term, whiskey.



    TRAVEL: Destination Dining In The Dominican Republic

    Ask a room full of people what they think a vacation at a Caribbean luxury resort might be like, and you’d probably hear comments about lying under a palapa all day with waiters bringing endless glasses of Champagne, or having a personal genie who caters to their every wish.

    How about consulting a pillow menu for the just-right cloud to rest your head on as you slip into your rose petal-strewn bed? He might mingle with the aromas of the cigar lounge, she might watch her diamonds refract in the sun over the pool with a swim-up refreshment bar.

    One thing no one would likely say is that they’d expect an unforgettable gourmet experience.

    Iberostar’s Grand Hotel Bavaro in easily reached Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is a white-glove, 5-star resort that offers all of the above, but it has done something to make it a little different. It has become a gastronomic destination.

    At the Grand Bavaro, as well as at Iberostar’s dozens of luxury resorts sprinkled throughout Mexico and Latin America, the family-owned company wanted to showcase its Spanish history and sensibility. What better way to emphasize these two ingredients? Write up a menu!


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/iberostar menu rowanngilman 230

    The menu from Chef Jordi Cruz. Photo by Rowann Gilman | THE NIBBLE.



    When you’re not focused on gourmet dining, there are beautiful grounds and a sparkling blue ocean. Photo courtesy Iberostar.


    Iberostar’s Chefs on Tour program lets gastronomes enjoy special menus created and prepared by a roster of multi-Michelin starred chefs from Spain throughout the year.

    These world-class dining occasions with exquisite Spanish wine pairings use local ingredients and visiting chefs’ own techniques.

    A recent seven-course dinner put the spotlight on Jordi Cruz who, at age 37, is the world’s youngest 4-Michelin-star chef.

    A bit of a maverick, Barcelona-born Chef Cruz took up some formal culinary training but quickly realized that the best way to learn was to do.

    And so he did, in some of Spain’s most highly praised restaurants, working with chefs such as Ferran Adrià and Martín Berasategui.

    The charismatic Cruz has won more than four major awards in his young career, and from what I tasted, all were well-deserved.

    For more information, visit the resort’s website.

    — Rowann Gilman




    TRIVIA: For National Popcorn Month

    For National Popcorn Month, here’s some trivia from The Popcorn Factory, based on a survey conducted online by Toluna Quick Surveys:

  • Favorite Flavor: Caramel corn is favored 2:1 over the second most popular flavor, cheese. If you add in the Butter Almond Toffee flavor (caramel and almonds), its 3:1. Here are the stats: Caramel 19.82%, Cheese 9.91%, White Cheddar 9.91%, Butter Toffee Almond 8.27% and Butter 8.17%.
  • Pronunciation: 27% say caramel in three syllables—car-a-mel—while 44% pronounce it car-mel. Really, people? Look it up: it’s pronounced as it’s spelled: car-a-mel. Carmel is a city in Monterey County, California. Clint Eastwood was the mayor, 1986-1988.
  • Sharing: 76% like to share their popcorn, 24% like to snack alone.
    The favorite time to eat popcorn:


    Caramel Corn

    Caramel corn is the #1 flavor. Photo courtesy The Popcorn Factory.

  • While watching a movie, 65%
  • As an after-dinner snack, 11%
  • While relaxing or participating in a hobby, 6%
  • At a social event, 2%
  • As a special reward, 2%
  • With a meal, 1%
  • Other, 3%
    Check out the history of popcorn, an all-American snack. Air-popped without butter, it’s a low-calorie, high-fiber whole grain snack. You can add a bit of plain or flavored olive oil, and all the herbs and/or spices you like.



    FOOD FUN: Spaghetti & Meatball Sundae

    For National Pasta Month try this “spaghetti sundae” inspired by a dish from VP3 Restaurant in Jersey City, New Jersey.



  • Spaghetti or linguine
  • Pasta sauce
  • Optional: meatballs or sausage
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Minced fresh basil “sprinkles”

    1. COOK the spaghetti according to package directions and drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water. While the pasta cooks, heat the sauce and the meatballs.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/spaghetti meatballs burrata VB3 ps 230

    Spaghetti and meatball “sundae.” Photo courtesy VB3 Restaurant | Jersey City.

    2. RETURN the drained pasta to the pot and add the sauce. Mix to coat all the pasta with sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water, tablespoon by tablespoon, to reach the desired consistency.

    3. MOLD the spaghetti into a tower. You can do this freehand with tongs and a large fork, or use whatever mold you have. We used a chinois (SHEEN-wah—French for “Chinese,” referring to the Chinese-style strainer). You can also try a large funnel, jumbo martini glass or a sundae dish.

    4. ADD the meatballs, sprinkle with the grated cheese and top with the mozzarella ball. For a final touch, add the basil “sprinkles.”


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/chinois foxrunAMZ 230

    We used a chinois to create the pasta tower. It’s actually a great kitchen tool for straining. Photo courtesy Fox Run.



    The easiest way to differentiate them: Spaghetti is round, linguine (the proper Italian spelling–linguini is an incorrect Americanization) is flat. It is sometimes referred to as flat spaghetti.

    All pasta evolved regionally into different shapes and sizes.

  • Spaghetti and linguine are “long cuts.”
  • Round long cuts like spaghetti are called strand pasta; flat long cuts are called ribbon pasta.
  • Short cuts are shapes like elbows, shells, wagon wheels, etc.
  • The better-known round pasta ribbons, from thinnest to thickest, include: angel hair, capellini, vermicelli, spaghettini, spaghetti and bucatini.
  • The better-known flat/ribbon long cuts are, from thinnest to thickest: linguine, fettuccine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, mafalda and lasagna.

    For the “cherry on the sundae,” you want a mozzarella ball, not a slice. Fortunately, mozzarella balls are made in several sizes, from perlini, the size of pearls, to bocconcini, large bites. They are sold fresh in water by Bel Gioso, Lioni and other companies.

    You can use any size with this recipe. We prefer the largest, bocconcini, because it will sit on the top of a mound of pasta, as in the photo at the top of the page. But even the smallest size, perlini, can be scattered around the base of the plate.


    From left to right: perlini, perle, nocciolini, ciliegini, bocconcini, ovoline, half pound, one pound. Image courtesy Lioni Mozzarella. Visit their website for a greater description of the different sizes of mozzarella.



    PRODUCT: Keurig Kold Cold Beverage Machine

    Thanks to Keurig, 20 million American households make their coffee of choice—or tea, cocoa, chicken soup, even iced tea brewed into a cup of ice—one K-Cup at a time.

    Six years ago, fans and industry observers asked Keurig: What can you do for cold beverages?

    On Monday the company launched its long-awaited cold beverage system, Keurig Kold. The result involved 250 engineers and scientists, 10,000 consumers who participated in research, 50 patents issued and another 100 pending globally.

    This plug-in machine offers Keurig’s same ease and convenience for single-serve cold beverages: carbonated sodas and flavored seltzers, still flavored waters, iced teas and sports drinks.

    The good news:

  • Keurig Kold makes delicious soft drinks, perfectly carbonated without a CO2 canister, at the push of a button.
  • The beverages are delivered perfectly chilled, in 8-ounce glasses. Most servings are 100 calories or less, and there’s an excellent variety of low- and zero-calorie options.

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/KeurigKOLDdrinkmaker DietCoke 230

    Keurig Kold: the coolest way to make cold drinks. Each Kold Pod makes an eight-ounce drink. Photo courtesy Keurig.

  • The Kold Pods create favorites like Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Dr Pepper and Canada Dry; craft sodas (e.g. Orange Cream, Spiced Root Beer, regular and diet, from brands like Flynn’s and Red Barn); plus plus lemonade, flavored waters, seltzers and iced teas (Tierney’s).
  • There are also sports hydration drinks; cocktail mixers are coming soon, starting with Margarita and Mojito.
  • Keurig Kold is imposing, cool, and at $369.99, a status symbol. You can get one at and selected retailers, in black or white.
    What’s less than ideal:

  • The price tag. Even if it’s ultimately discounted, it would take a household with money to burn to choose this system over the 99¢ two-liter bottles or club store bargains (or the $59-and-up Sodastream).
  • Depending on the beverage, the pods are $4.49 to $4.99 for a four-pack. That’s $1.12 to $1.25 plus tax for an eight ounce drink.
  • The machine’s footprint is larger than anything else on your kitchen counter. The pods are similarly oversize.
  • The pods are recyclable #7 plastic, but not every municipality recycles #7.

    Keurig KOLD Wire Carousel

    The pods for Keurig Kold are big: at least three times the size of the K-Cups. Photo courtesy Keurig.



    Insert a drink pod, press a button and the water in the reservoir is drawn into a proprietary chilling mechanism. When the water is cold enough (39°F), it gets pushes though Karbonator beads that are inside each pod—small, round beads that are perhaps the coolest part of the invention.

    Water + beads = perfect carbonation. A secret imparted by Keurig: Carbonation absorbs into water best when the water is really cold.

    Keurig Kold is impressive. It’s fun. And the drinks are delicious—they seem even tastier than if you purchased the same drink in a bottle or can.

    The big question that vexes the NIBBLE folks who tried Keurig Kold is: Who is the customer for this machine? It must be a household that:


  • Doesn’t look for bargains.
  • Wants the latest, coolest wow item.
  • Has space for it.
  • Isn’t into sustainability.
    Alternatively, it’s a wonderful plaything, a gift for people who have everything. If they already own one, there are other rooms in their home that could make use of another.

    Would we want one? In an ideal world, yes; in our particular practical world, no. Even if someone gave us a Keurig Kold, where would we put it in our small home or office?



    RECIPE: Moroccan Quinoa & Roasted Carrots

    October 1st is World Vegetarian Day, the annual kickoff to Vegetarian Awareness Month.

    Vegetarian diets have proven health benefits, are kind to animals and help to preserve the Earth (meat production is a major source of greenhouse gas and deforestation).

    According to, some prominent vegetarians include/have included: Lord Byron, Bill Clinton, Leonardo da Vinci, Ellen DeGeneres, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Dick Gregory, Steve Jobs, Carl Lewis, Franz Kafka, Paul McCartney, Martina Navratilova, Pythagoras, Voltaire and Leo Tolstoy.

    But you don’t need to have particular beliefs to enjoy this delicious vegetarian (actually vegan) side or main course. The quinoa supplies excellent nutrition, and the Moroccan spices are irresistible.

    The recipe is from Good Eggs, a San Francisco purveyor of artisan foods.


    The addition of allspice, cinnamon and raisins impart a wonderful North African flavor profile and fragrance to this simple dish.
    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 2 bunches carrots, tops cut off, halved lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 handful* parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • Squeeze of lemon†
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: plain or seasoned yogurt‡

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/roasted carrots quinoa goodeggs 230

    Delicious, nutritious and good-looking: quinoa and carrot salad with Moroccan seasonings. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.


    *What is a “handful” of parsley? It’s an indefinite amount; please don’t write recipes like this! The size of “a bunch” varies widely by retailer. Try this: For “a bunch,” use one cup loosely packed herbs and 1/2 cup for “a handful.”

    †What’s a “squeeze” of lemon? Is it a squeezed half lemon or a wedge of lemon? A medium lemon has 2-3 tablespoons of juice, a large lemon can have 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup). For a “squeeze,” try 1-2 teaspoons. Take notes and adjust both parsley and lemon measurements next time, as needed.

    ‡Give plain yogurt some savory flavor by stirring in one or more of the following: roasted garlic, chopped fresh parsley, minced chives or thin-sliced green onions (scallions). You can also use the zest from the lemon.


    Raw White Quinoa

    Uncooked white quinoa. Photo | Wikimedia.



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Soak the quinoa in water for 15 minutes.

    2. PLACE the carrots on a baking sheet and toss with some olive oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes.

    3. STRAIN the quinoa and add it to a pot with the water. Turn the flame to high and bring to a boil, uncovered. As soon as it boils, reduce the flame to a simmer and cover the pot.

    4. CHECK after 15-20 minutes. When all of the water has been absorbed and the grains are still slightly opaque in the center, turn off the heat and let the quinoa steam with the cover on for 5 minutes.

    5. PLACE the quinoa in a bowl with the parsley, 1/2 teaspoon each of allspice and cinnamon, the raisins and lemon juice. Add a drizzle of olive oil and salt. Adjust the salt and spices to taste and add pepper to taste.

    6. REMOVE the carrots when they begin to caramelize and crisp up. Toss them gently with a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. To serve, spoon the quinoa onto a serving plate or individual plates and top with the carrots. Pass the optional yogurt as a condiment.



    DAY OF THE DEAD: Skull Mug

    Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead or All Souls Day, has has been an important festival in Mesoamerica since pre-Columbian times.

    It is a time of festivity and joy, not mourning. Families gather to welcome the souls of the dearly departed—human and animal—who return from the spirit world for an annual visit home to the loved ones they’ve left behind. What a nice concept!

    The celebration begins on November 1st and ends on November 2nd. Despite the timing and skulls, it has no relation to Halloween (here’s the history of Halloween). Analogies to the Celtic-based Halloween are purely coincidental.

    The celebration of the Mayas and Aztecs evolved into what today is a large Mexican festival, incorporating:

  • Photos and mementos of the deceased, placed on special altars along with…
  • Cempasúchil (marigold flowers).
  • Candles and copal incense (made with resin from a local tree).

    dia de los muertos mug

    Drink your coffee from a joyful skull. Photo courtesy Inked Shop.

  • There are music and dancing, plus special offerings for people who have died.

    Crystal Head Vodka Bottle

    Not into coffee or sugar skulls? Perhaps a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka is for you. Photo courtesy Crystal Head.


    Special foods include:

  • Pan de muertos (bread of the dead—recipe).
  • Sugar skulls, usually brightly painted.

    You’ve got time to order a celebratory mug.

    The Mexican Sugar Skull Giant Mug in the photo above costs just $14.95 from

    High quality ceramic, dishwasher and microwave safe, it’s inspired by the Day of the Dead sugar skulls, but perfectly at home year-round.

    Or perhaps you’d prefer a skull full of vodka?




    TIP: How To Remove That Burnt Popcorn Smell

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

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

    Ready to begin? Gather your weapons.

    For The Odor

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

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


    Heirloom Popcorn Kernels

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


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

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

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

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/popcorn beauty bellechevreFB 230r

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



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

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

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



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