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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 Gourmet News

FOOD FUN: Peeps Cocktail

peeps-cocktail-xbarhyattregencyLA-230L

A Peeps cocktail for Easter. Photo courtesy
XBar | Hyatt Regency | Los Angeles.

 

This idea came to us from X Bar at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Los Angeles.

They use a Pink Lady cocktail, but you can use other pink cocktail recipes, including two different pink Martinis.

The first step is to make the special “Easter grass” rim. It combines lime zest with the sugar for a textured “grass.”

Alternatively, you can buy green sanding sugar, which is available in both emerald green and pastel green.
 
RECIPE: COLORED SUGAR RIM

Ingredients

  • Table sugar
  • Green food color
  • Lime zest
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the sugar in a plastic sandwich bag or quart bag with a drop of food coloring. Shake well to infuse the color. Add more color (green or yellow) as required to reach the desired hue. (Color the sugar lighter shade of green than the lime zest.)

    2. ALLOW the sugar mixture to air dry. Spread it on a paper towel or a plate. When ready to make the sugar rim…

    3. GRATE the lime zest and mix it 50:50 or as desired with the green sugar. Place on a plate.

    4. DIP the rim of a Martini glass or sherbet champagne glass 1/4-inch deep in a shallow bowl of water. Remove, shake to eliminate drips and place in the sugar mix, twisting the glass to coat the rim.
     
    RECIPE: PINK LADY COCKTAIL ~ EASTER VERSION

    The Pink Lady is a classic gin-based cocktail that may have been named after a 1911 musical of the same name. The pale pink color comes from grenadine; the foamy top is created by an egg white.

    A favorite of society ladies of the 1930s, the drink was widely known during Prohibition (1920-1933) but fell out of favor in the 1960s. One theory is that the [typically male] journalists who wrote about cocktails and the [typically male] bartenders who mixed them had little interest in pink, “girly” drinks.

    The original recipe had only three ingredients—gin, grenadine and egg white—shaken and strained into a glass. Over time, some versions added lemon juice, applejack (apple brandy) and even cream (which could be substituted for the egg white or used in addition to it). Here’s more Pink Lady history.

    We’re opting for the version with apple brandy, for more flavor. If you don’t have apple brandy, you can substitute apple schnapps (apple liqueur), which Appletini lovers will have on hand.

    If you don’t want to use any apple brandy, make the cocktail with two ounces of gin. If you don’t want to use an egg white, use heavy cream (but don’t use lemon juice—it will curdle the cream).

     

    The classic recipe uses a maraschino cherry for garnish, but for our Easter cocktail, the cherry gets replaced by a pink Peep.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce applejack, Calvados, other apple brandy or apple schnapps
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 2 dashes grenadine or more to desired color
  • 1 egg white or 1/2 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 cup crushed ice or ice cubes
  • Easter garnish: 1 pink Peeps chick
  • Optional side: miniature jelly beans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until everything is mixed well (the shaker should be frosted over). Strain into a rimmed Martini glass.

     

    PomBlush-pomwonderful-230

    Shake the cocktail vigorously so the egg white foams into a creamy top. Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     
    2. SLICE a notch into the bottom of the Peeps chick. Place on the rim of the glass.

    3. SERVE with a shot glass or ramekin of miniature jelly beans.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Modern Black Forest Cake

    National Black Forest Cake Day is March 28th, but we’re far from cherry season in the U.S.

    While you may still be able to find some fresh cherries, shipped from some far-away orchard overseas, consider this modern approach to Black Forest Cake by one of our favorite bloggers, Vicky of Stasty.com.

    It includes a garnish of cherries dipped in white chocolate and coated with popping candy. Call it modern Black Forest Cake.

    If you’re up for making it, here’s the recipe.

    Otherwise, head for our classic Black Forest Cake recipe. If it’s for an audience of adults only, use lots of Kirschwasser (clear cherry brandy—you can substitute regular brandy).

    The Black Forest region of southern Germany is known for its sour Morello cherries and for the Kirschwassermade from them. Hence, the inspiration for this old-fashioned classic:

    Yummy chocolate cake with cherries and whipped cream.

     

    black-fores-nouvelle-stasty-230

    A modern take on Black Forest Cake. Photo courtesy Stasty.com.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Spinach Day

    Popeye may have enjoyed his spinach straight from the can, but for today, National Spinach Day, we can come up with 20 better suggestions.

    BREAKFAST

  • Spinach omelet or fritatta (recipe)
  • Eggs Benedict With Spinach (recipe)
  •  
    DIPS & SPREADS

  • Green Mayonnaise (Julia Child’s recipe)
  • Spinach Dip With Walnuts (recipe)
  • Spinach Pesto (substitute spinach for the basil in this recipe)
  • Warm Crab & Spinach Dip (recipe)
  • Warm Spinach & Mascarpone Dip (recipe)
  • 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip Or Spread
  •  
    LUNCH & FIRST COURSES

  • Curried Spinach Tart (recipe)
  • Grilled Cheese With Spinach (recipes)
  • Mac & Cheese With Spinach (recipe)
  • Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie—recipe)
  •    

    spinach-mascarpone-dip-vermontcreamery-230

    A warm spinach dip, creamy with mascarpone cheese. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    beet-spinach-apple-salad-butterball230

    Beet, spinach and apple salad. Photo courtesy Butterball.

     

    MAINS

  • Pasta With Spinach: penne pasta with a garnish of fresh spinach leaves and cherry tomatoes (recipe), bow tie pasta with chicken and spinach (recipe) or cheese tortellini with spinach (recipe)
  • Spinach Stuffed Pork Roast (recipe)
  •  
    PIZZA

  • Feta & Spinach Pizza (recipe)
  • Spinach & Grilled Shrimp Pizza (recipe)
  •  
    SIDES

  • Wilted Spinach With Tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip—recipe)
  •  
    SALADS

  • Beet, Spinach & Apple Salad (recipe)
  • Spinach & Grapefruit Salad (recipe)
  •  

      

    Comments

    TRENDS: Restaurant Focus For 2015

    orange-peel-lolalovesgreen-230r

    No more waste: In restaurant kitchens, everything can have a second life. Citrus peel
    is turned into marmalade. Photo courtesy Lola Loves Green.

     

    What are the top culinary concerns for restaurateurs this year?

    According to a survey by Nation’s Restaurant News, the top five focus on gluten-free and sustainability.

    1. ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

    Safeguarding natural resources is a growing concern across the globe, and the number one culinary issue cited in a survey of American chefs. It’s not just with fine dining: Fast casual concepts like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Sweetgreen have been on the bandwagon since their inception. Chipotle recently stopped serving pork when it couldn’t find enough sustainable meat!

     
    2. NATURAL INGREDIENTS/MINIMALLY PROCESSED FOODS

    “Clean” labels and minimally processed food appeal to more and more customers. Chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association named natural ingredients and minimally processed food as a major theme. Last year, fast food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s took the concept mainstream, adding an all-natural burger to the menu. Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts have responded to consumer complaints by doing away with additives.
     
    3. HYPERLOCAL SOURCING

    Locally sourced and house-grown food are becoming more and more important to customers. “Hyperlocal” fruits, vegetables and herbs are grown in restaurant gardens. Some restaurants have beehives as well. We’ve even seen chickens strutting around rooftops (fresh eggs!).

     
    4. FOOD/WASTE REDUCTION MANAGEMENT

    Food costs are rising and consumers are growing more concerned about how what they eat affects the planet. Both have become major concerns among the dining public.

    Chefs are practicing more “root-to-stem” cooking, the logical next step to “nose-to-tail” cooking, in which restaurants utilize the entire animal (or vegetable). It’s an effective way to avoid waste and manage costs.

    Chefs have long used bits and scraps—in soups, chicken salad and so forth. But now, they’re making marmalade from citrus skins and bitters from plum and peach pits. This parallels the new law in Seattle, which as of January 1st ordered no more food waste in the garbage. Instead, residents are expected to recycle and compost.

    5. GLUTEN-FREE CUISINE

    Fewer than 7% of Americans are sensitive to gluten; about 1% of people worldwide suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which gluten consumption can cause life-threatening intestinal damage.

    Yet, 63% of Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports said they believed following a gluten-free diet would improve their physical or mental health*. About a third of those said they buy gluten-free products or try to avoid gluten.

    Gluten-free cuisine was the culinary theme chefs pointed to fifth most often in the NRA survey. Restaurants are responding with a growing array of gluten-free options, including gluten-free burger buns.

     
    *Note that no scientific studies to date confirm or deny a positive impact of gluten-free diets among condition-free consumers.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Dip Sweet Chips On National Chip & Dip Day

    sweet-potato-chips-strawberry-dip-tablespoon.com-230

    Cinnamon sweet potato chips with
    strawberry yogurt dip. Photo courtesy
    Tablespoon.com.

     

    March 23rd is National Chip and Dip Day. When we think of chips and dip, salty chips pop into mind, with creamy dips, guacamole or salsa.

    But today’s tip is: For snacking or a fun dessert, go sweet with cinnamon-sugar flavored chips and a sweet dip.

    Just a quick glance of some of the better brands on store shelves:

  • Bare Cinnamon Apple Chips (a NIBBLE favorite, and gluten-free)
  • Cabo Chips Churro Tortilla Chips
  • Glenny’s Apple Cinnamon Low Fat Soy Crisps
  • Glutino Cinnamon and Sugar Gluten Free Bagel Chips
  • Kay’s Naturals Cinnamon Toast Protein Pretzel Sticks
  • Popchips Cinnamon Twist Sweet Potato Chips
  • Popcorners Whole Grain Chips
  • Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips
  • Terra Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Chips
  •  

    WHAT DIP SHOULD YOU USE?

    Here are some suggestions from Cabo Chips and THE NIBBLE:

  • Caramel Sauce: Cinnamon and caramel are a delicious combination. Simply warm a bowl of caramel sauce in the microwave.
  • Chocolate Sauce: Melt chocolate chips or a chopped chocolate bar in the microwave for 45 seconds. You can dip chps in the warm chocolate, or dip the chips and place on wax paper until the chocolate sets.
  • Dulce de Leche Sauce: As with caramel sauce, simply warm a bowl of dulce de leche in the microwave.
  • Mexican Fried Ice Cream: Warm the chips in a toaster oven for 5 minutes on low heat. Place in individual bowls and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Garnish with chocolate or caramel sauce a drizzle of honey. You can also add fresh berries.
  • Nutella: Place a few spoonfuls in the microwave for 30 seconds, then drizzle over the chips or simply dip them.
  • Sweet “Nachos”: Warm the chips, drizzle with warmed sauce, and garnish with butterscotch or chocolate chips or mini marshmallows.
  • Yogurt Dip: Use fruit or vanilla yogurt straight, or augment it with mini chocolate chips or other inclusions.
  • Your own recipe for a sweet dip. Cheesecake dip, anyone?
  •  

    apple-chips-salted-caramel-dip-dizzybusyandhungry-230

    Apple chips with a salted caramel dip. Photo © DizzyBusyAndHungry.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Sashimi Cubes, 21st Century Sashimi Art

    sashimi-cubes-RASushi-230

    A sushi chef interprets sashimi for the 21st
    century. Photo courtesy RA Sushi | Orlando.

     

    The sashimi tradition dates back to Japan’s Muromachi period, approximately 1337 to 1573 C.E. In the 1500s, when someone thought to cut up raw fish and dip the pieces into soy sauce, sashimi was born.

    The marriage with pads of rice (nigiri sushi) and in seaweed-wrapped rolls, both known as sushi, came later. Modern sushi was created by Hanaya Yohei (1799–1858) at the end of the Edo period (1603 and 1868). He invented it in Edo, the city that is now Tokyo. It was an early form of fast food.

    Today, sushi chefs train for years to achieve a level 1 certification, and prepare both sushi and sashimi (see the differences below). But back to sashimi:

    In this beautiful evolution from RA Sushi (see photo), the fish is cut into cubes. If you think you don’t have the knife skills to make sashimi at home, think again.

     

    This is much easier for a home cook to do than cutting the thin slivers of fish in a way that sushi chefs take years to master.

    A Japanese saying, “kasshu hojo,” means that cutting is the most important; cooking skill comes second. But fear not: All you need to can serve this beautiful plate at home is a sharp knife and an eye for straight lines. (Don’t have an eye? Use a washed ruler or other straight edge.)

    Then, enjoy this “special occasion” dish that is so easy to make, you can enjoy it anytime.

     
    RECIPE: SASHIMI CUBES

    Ingredients

  • Fillets of salmon, tuna and yellowtail
  • 2 shrimp per person
  • Soy sauce
  • Wasabi
  • Optional: grated ginger
  • Optional: grated lemon or lime zest
  • Optional garnish: microgreens
  • Optional: lemon or lime wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STEAM or use other technique to lightly cook the shrimp (or for contrast, you can grill them). To get the elongated shape shown in the photo, cook the shrimp on skewers.

    2. CUT the fish into bite-size cubes, about one inch square.

    3. PLATE, ideally in a square grid on a square plate, as shown in the photo. But large round plates work, too. Garnish with the shrimp some pretty microgreens.

    4. SERVE with soy sauce and wasabi. To make the soy sauce more interesting, mix it with fresh grated ginger (lots!) and a bit of lemon or lime zest. We always serve sushi and sashimi with lemon or lime wedges, and squeeze the fresh juice over the fish before dipping the pieces in soy sauce.

     

    SQUARE PLATES

    You can buy square plates with angled rims or without rims.
     

    Or, if you don’t want to make an investment, pick up some very inexpensive yet attractive white plastic square plates, in 8-inch or 10-3/4-inch sizes.
     
    SUSHI & SASHMI: THE DIFFERENCE

    What Is Sushi?

    Sushi is a dish made of vinegared rice (it also has a bit of sugar to counter the vinegar) that can be variously combined with thin slices of seafood, vegetables, egg and, in the world of nouvelle cuisine, other items from beef to barbecue chicken to fresh fruit.

     

    sashimi-bamboosushi-portland-230

    A traditional deluxe sashimi plate. Photo courtesy Bamboo Sushi | Portland, Oregon.

     
    Sushi does not mean “raw fish,” but “vinegar[ed] rice.” While much of the fish used to make sushi is raw, some of the items are blanched, boiled, broiled, marinated or sautéed, either for a tender consistency or to kill any microscopic parasites.

    Sushi was originally developed as a snack food—as the story goes, to serve at gambling parlors so the gamblers could take quick bites without stopping the action. There are different styles of sushi:

  • Chirashi-sushi, fish and other items served on top of a bowl of vinegared sushi rice (chirashi means to scatter).
  • Maki-sushi, rolled sushi (including hand rolls, temaki—maki means roll).
  • Nigiri-sushi, slices of fish or other foods on pads of rice (nigiri means hand-formed).
  • Oshi-sushi, squares or rectangles of pressed rice topped with vinegared or cooked fish, made in a wooden mold (oshi means pushed or pressed).
  • Stuffed sushi, including chakin-zushi or fukusa-sushi, ingredients wrapped in a thin egg crêpe; and inari-sushi, with ingredients stuffed into a small pouch of fried bean curd (tofu).
     
    What Is Sashimi?

    Sashimi is sliced fish that is served with a bowl of regular boiled rice (no vinegar) on the side. The word sashimi means “pierced body”: sashi means pierced or stuck, and mi means body or meat. It may derive from the culinary practice of keeping the fish’s tail and fin with the cut slices to identify the fish being eaten.

    Sashimi fish is cut into thicker pieces, since it neither has to drape over a rice nor curve into a roll.

    Check out the different types of sushi and sashimi in our glossary.

      

  • Comments

    RECIPE: Pretzel Crusted Tuna

    pretzel-crusted-ahi-bonefishgrill-230r

    A delicious way to prepare tuna steaks: with
    a pretzel crust! Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

     

    Beyond panko: Turn pretzels into a tasty crust for seared fish.

    We love the appeal of this seared tuna recipe from Bonefish Grill. Not only do we love tuna; but the pretzels offer a fun alternative to the sesame crusted tuna recipe we typically use.

    We endeavored to recreate the recipe at home, and discovered that:

  • The recipe can be used with any thick fish fillet or steak.
  • It is easiest to crush pretzel sticks; thin and uniform, they crush quickly and evenly.
  • But you can use any pretzel. We also tried the gluten-free Pretzel Crisps we had on hand, and whole wheat pretzels from Snyder’s Of Hanover (which also makes GF pretzel sticks).
  • Our favorite crust was made from Utz sesame pretzels. But we think our choice going forward will be to add some toasted sesame seeds to whole wheat pretzels.
  • Don’t add much salt to the red wine sauce, unless you’re using salt-free pretzels. Otherwise, there’s plenty of salt in the pretzel crust.
  • Check out the history of pretzels, below. Without prayers and kids, we wouldn’t have them.
  •  
    RECIPE: PRETZEL-CRUSTED TUNA

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 tuna steaks
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or canola oil
  • Pinch salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Pulse the pretzels in a food processor to the consistency of bread crumbs. Set aside.

    2. MAKE the sauce: Mince the shallot and heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft. Then add the wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer the sauce for three minutes so the alcohol evaporates and the sauce thickens.

    3. HEAT a cast iron skillet over high heat and add the butter or oil. Press the tops of the tuna steaks into the pretzel crumbs to coat. When the fat starts to smoke, place the fish face down in the pan.

    4. COOK for 4-5 minutes top down, then flip over and cook for another 3 minutes to serve rare, as they do at Bonefish Grill.

    5. SERVE with the sauce on the side, so the crumbs stay crisper.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SKILLET & A FRYING PAN

    It’s this easy: A skillet has slanted sides. A frying pan, also called a sauté pan, has straight sides that are higher than the skillet’s. (For this recipe, use whatever you have.)

    Why the two different side shapes?

    Frying/Sauté Pan Benefits

     

    homemade-pretzels-ws-230

    Dough for the original pretzels, called pretiola, were twisted to resemble a child’s arms folded in prayer. Photo courtesy Williams Sonoma. Here’s a recipe to bake your own homemade soft pretzels.

     
    If both pans are the same size, the frying/sauté pan will have a slightly larger surface area. In a 12-inch diameter pan, it can make the difference when fitting in pieces of chicken or other food, so you can cook everything in one batch.

    The other benefits of a frying/sauté pan: Liquids are less likely to splash out of the higher, straight sides; and lids fit more tightly, limiting evaporation.

    Skillet Benefits

    Chefs prefer the sloping sides of a skillet for quick cooking techniques like stir-frying, where the ingredients need to be moved around continuously. A skillet is also a better option for a frittata, served straight from the pan.

    It is a fun fact in cooking that a skillet is better for sautéeing than a sauté pan. The sloping sides make it easier to move pieces of food around while constantly stirring, and to more easily shake the pan to toss the food for even cooking. For the best sear, choose a cast iron skillet. It gets hotter than other metals.

    You can, of course, sauté your food in a straight-sided sauté pan, but it requires more work: constant stirring and turning.

    Guessing that the straight-sided frying pan may have come first, and the skillet adapted for greater flexibility, we tried to locate the facts. What we found was this, in Wikipedia:

    Before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the mid-19th century, a commonly used cast iron cooking pan called a spider had a handle and three legs used to stand up in the coals and ashes of the fire. Cooking pots and pans with legless, flat bottoms were designed when cooking stoves became popular; this period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet.

    Related Pans

    Professionals use a sauteuse (saw-TOOZ), a pan that combines the best higher sides of the sauté pan and the sloping sides of the skillet. It is also called a fait-tout (fay-TOOT), which literally means that it “does everything”.”

    Finally, mention must be made of the grill pan. It’s a frying pan with very low sides and series of parallel ridges on the cooking surface, which both enables cooking with radiant heat like a grill, and allows the fat to drain down.

     
    THE HISTORY OF PRETZELS

    It was all for the kids. In 610 C.E., monks in the what is today southern France northern Italy twisted and baked scraps of dough as a reward for children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers.

    The shape represented the monks’ concept of a child’s arms folded in prayer. The monks called this soft, baked dough a “pretiola,” Latin for “little reward.”

    The word evolved into the Italian “brachiola,” which means “little arms.” Over the next few centuries, the pretiola journeyed through the French and Italian wine regions, crossed the Alps, traveled through Austria and arrived in Germany, where it became known as the Bretzel or Pretzel.

    Here’s more of pretzel history.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Bock Beer Day

    sam-adams-double-bock-juliatomases-230ps

    A double bock beer from Samuel Adams, shown with a scattering of the hops used to brew it. Photo by Julia Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Bock is the German word for strong, referring to a strong beer brewed from barley malt. It’s a dark, heavy, rich, sweet, complex beer, similar to Münchener* beers, but stronger. A true bock-style beer has a foam collar “thick enough to steady a pencil.”

    Bock is a style that originated in Saxony (capital Dresden), on the eastern border of central Germany, adjacent to Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Originally used to celebrate the end of the brewing season† (May), bock beer (Bockbier in German) was brewed in the winter for consumption in the spring.

    It was originally brewed by top fermentation in the Hanseatic League‡ town of Einbeck (beck bier became bock bier) in Lower Saxony, where it is still brewed and known as Ur-Bock, the original bock.

    But the style has evolved. Initially brewed with top fermenting yeast (“ale yeast”), German bock beers are now brewed by bottom fermentation (with “lager yeast,” which weren’t discovered until the 15th century). and are usually dark brown.

    A modern bock can range from light copper to brown in color. There are varieties that can be very different in style:

     

  • Doppelbock (double bock), a stronger and maltier recipe.
  • Eisbock (ice bock), a much stronger variety made by partially freezing the beer and removing the ice, thus concentrating the flavor.
  • Maibock (pronounced MY-bock), also called helles bock or heller bock, a paler, more hopped version generally made for consumption at spring festivals (hence Mai, the German word for May).
  •  
    Pale bocks are increasing in popularity, and a distinction is sometimes made between light bock beer and dark bock beer. Because the word bock also means billy goat in German, a goat is often found on the labels of bock beer brands.

     
    *Munich is the capital of Bavaria, in southeast Germany; the German name is München. A Münchener is a beer from Munich; for example, Münchener Dunkel, a full-bodied, malty and sweet-style dark lager beer that is a model for other Bavarian-style beers.

    †Modern refrigeration enabled brewers to make a uniform product year round. Previously, brewers had to work with the natural temperature of caves to provide an environment cold enough for the yeast to ferment. As a result, styles evolved to work with seasonal temperatures (lighter beers in the summer, for example).

    ‡The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds in Northern Europe. Created to protect commercial interests and privileges, it existed from the 13th through 17th centuries.

      

    Comments

    RESTAURANT: Vermillion

    Last night, while others were enjoying corned beef and cabbage with green beer, we broke with tradition in a big way.

    We dined at Vermillion in midtown Manhattan. The soaring, bi-level space is the New York branch of the Chicago Vermillion established by Rohini Dey, a former international banker and McKinsey consultant.

    Serving a unique Indian-Latin fusion menu, the flavors and presentation are as stylish as Ms. Dey herself. First, the cuisine:

    In a complete relaunch of the menu, Ms. Dey’s concept to fuse the two colorful cuisines has been interpreted by co-executive chefs Anup Patwal and Aseema Mamaji from India, and sous chef Javier Alvarez from Latin America. The gifted young team brings verve, energy and an elegant touch to the food.

    Beyond the flavorful, there’s a “wow” experience in the presentation. Thought has been given to turning each dish into culinary art; whether it’s a specially crafted chrome rack from which four different types of kabobs hang in alluring fashion, or a slice of tree trunk used as a charger.

     

    caldeirada-de-peixe-vermillion-230

    Caldeirada de peixe, a traditional Brazalian seafood stew accented with Indian spices and a side of coconut rice. Photo courtesy Vermillion Restaurant.

     

    Absolutely everything demands to be consumed. Even garnishes of pickled red onion or green chile are exciting. We didn’t leave a scrap on the plate!

    The seasonings are spectacular. There’s just enough of the custom-blended spices and heat to blend perfectly, appropriately understated without providing a punch not wanted in fine dining. It’s not often that we encounter such finesse with spices. Kudos to the chefs!

    In addition to fusion dishes, there’s a menu of classic Indian entrées. There is nothing we don’t want to try, and we can’t wait to go back.

    While dinner can cost what you’d expect for such fine cuisine, lunch is quite affordable: two courses for $20 or three courses for $24.

    Wine tip: The Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling, made with grapes from Washington’s Columbia Valley, is perfect with the cuisine. Off-dry, with notes of sweet lime, peach and subtle minerality, it is a charming complement to the spice and heat.

    There’s a comfortable cocktail lounge downstairs and a private dining room upstairs, on the main dining floor. The restaurant is at 480 Lexington Avenue at 46th Street. Visit the company website or call for reservations: 212-871-6600.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Artichoke Hearts Day

    artichoke-baked-potato-bonefishgrill-230

    Celebrate with an artichoke baked potato. Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

     

    Today is National Artichoke Heart Day, an occasion to mix up our favorite luxurious yet low-calorie dishes, “Luxury Salad.” It combines artichokes with hearts of palm, roasted red pepper, red onion and black olives in a white wine vinaigrette. Here’s the recipe.

    But we’re all about options, and we’re making a stuffed baked potato from some of the artichoke hearts.

    We were inspired by this photo from Bonefish Grill. The elaborate recipe topped with an artichoke heart seems an elegant way to celebrate National Artichoke Hearts Day.

    The potato is stuffed with some sautéed spinach, then crowned with a poached egg and the artichoke heart.

    RECIPE: ARTICHOKE STUFFED POTATO

    Ingredients For One Serving

  • 1 baked potato
  • 3 tablespoons sautéed spinach
  • 1 poached egg
  • 1 artichoke heart, drained
  • Optional: hollandaise sauce (recipe)
  • Garnish: tarragon chiffonade
  • Preparation

    1. BAKE the potato(es). When the potatoes are almost done…

    2. Sauté the spinach and poach the egg(s). Warm the artichoke heart(s) in the microwave.

    3. SLICE the top off the potato(s) to provide an even platform. Scoop out a bit of the potato to create a shallow well for the spinach.

    4. FILL the well with the spinach, top with the poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Crown with the artichoke heart, sliced in half as necessary. Garnish with the tarragon.

      

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