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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: You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It, Too

devils-food-layer-mackenzieltd-230a

We’d have to eat this devil’s food cake: The
temptation is too great! Photo courtesy
MackenzieLtd.com.

 

You can’t have your cake and eat it too, is a popular English proverb. Some of us wonder why it isn’t reversed, to the more logical “You can’t eat your cake and have it too.”

The earliest known variation is clear. A letter dated March 14, 1538 from Thomas, Duke of Norfolk to Thomas Cromwell, expresses that “a man can not have his cake and eate his cake.”

But in either form, people understand that it means that you can’t have it both ways (another proverb). It’s a trade-off.

This proverb appears in other forms, in other languages. Here’s a partial list from one we found in Wikipedia:

HAVING IT & KEEPING IT TOO, IN 25 OTHER
LANGUAGES

Wolf & Sheep Theme

  • Bosnian: You can’t have both a lamb and money.
  • Bulgarian and Polish: Both the wolf is full, and the lamb is whole.
  • Czech: The wolf is full and the goat stayed whole.
  • Estonian: The wolves have eaten, [and] the lambs are whole.
  • Lithuanian: To have the wolf fed and the lamb safe.
  • Macedonian: Both the wolf is full, and the sheep are intact.
  • Russian: The wolves are full, and the lambs are whole.
  • Slovenian: The wolf [is] full, and the lamb [is] whole.
  •  

    Goat Theme

  • Hungarian: It is impossible that the goat has enough to eat and the cabbage remains as well.
  • Romanian: You can’t reconcile the goat and the cabbage.
  • Serbian: You can’t have both the goatling and money.
  •  
    Butt Theme

  • Hungarian and Russian: It is impossible to ride two horses with one butt.
  • Serbian: You can’t sit on two chairs with one butt.
  •  

    Assorted Themes

  • Chinese: To want a horse that both runs fast and consumes no feed.
  • Danish: You cannot both blow and have flour in your mouth.
  • French: To want the butter and the money from (selling) the butter.
  • German: You can’t dance at two weddings (at the same time).
  • Greek: You want the entire pie and the dog full.
  • Italian: To have the barrel full and the wife drunk.
  • Persian: Wanting both the donkey and the sugar dates.
  • Portuguese: Wanting the sunshine on the threshing floor, while it rains on the turnip field.
  • Spanish: Wishing to be both at Mass and in the procession (or, wishing to be both at Mass and in the belfry, bell-ringing).
  • Spanish (Argentine): You can’t have the pig and the twenties (a reference to old piggy banks that held 20-cent coins; the only way to get the coins was to break the piggy bank open).
  • Swiss (French): You can’t have the five cent coin and a Swiss bread roll.
  •  

    sushi-takibun-OOB-230

    Our contribution: You can’t both fry the fish and have a sushi dinner. Photo courtesy Sushi Takibun.

  • Tamil: Desire to have both the moustache and to drink the porridge.
  •  
    How about making up your own versions as a dinner table activity? Ours is: You can’t both fry the fish and have a sushi dinner.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Margarita Day

    What’s your idea of the perfect Margarita? In anticipation of National Margarita Day, February 22nd, Milagro Tequila asked 100 Margarita drinkers, 51 men and 49 women, to share their preferences.

  • Ninety-one percent of them prefer Margaritas made with fresh ingredients over those made with a pre-packaged mix.
  • One third of respondents prefer drinking their Margarita in a rocks glass rather than a big Margarita glass (which actually was invented for frozen Margaritas—see more below).
  • Nearly 2/3 of the survey participants prefer salt on the rim.
  • Seventy percent of respondents prefer drinking from the salted rim rather than through a straw.
  • More than half of respondents take their Margaritas blended, which is the industry term for a frozen Margarita.
  • The majority of people prefer a classic Margarita to a fruit-flavored one (guava, passionfruit, peach, strawberry, etc.).
  • Forty percent like having an extra tequila shot mixed into their Margaritas.
  • Two-thirds of respondents prefer a Margarita made with blanco/silver tequila rather than the lightly aged reposado.
  •  
    Here’s more 411 on Margaritas:

     

    chili-rim-richardsandovalrestaurants

    Something different: a chili powder rim instead of salt. Or, mix the two. Photo courtesy Richard Sandoval Restaurants.

     

    WHAT’S A MARGARITA GLASS?

    A Margarita glass (see photo below) is style of cocktail glass used to serve Margaritas and other mixed drinks. It is also repurposed as tableware, to serve dishes from ceviche, guacamole and shrimp cocktail to sundaes and other desserts.

    The Margarita glass is a variation of the classic Champagne coupe, and was developed specifically for for blended fruit and frozen Margaritas. The capacity is larger than the rocks glass used for classic Margaritas, and the wide rim accommodates plenty of salt.

    There is no need to own Margarita glasses: rocks glasses are just fine for classic Margaritas, and the larger Collins glasses—or whatever you have—do well for frozen Margaritas.

    Why was a different glass created?

    From the Victorian Age until the Second World War, people of means dined very fashionably. Elaborately prepared foods were served on fine tableware with many different utensils—different fork and knife shapes for meat, fish, seafood, and so on.

  • Even in middle class homes, the “good silver” could include a dinner fork, salad fork, fish fork, oyster fork; dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife, butter knife; soup spoon, tea spoon, iced tea spoon, espresso spoon, grapefruit spoon; and so on.
  • Some were truly useful—a serrated grapefruit spoon spared the time of cutting each half with a grapefruit knife prior to serving; a lobster pick is an important aid to removing the leg meat.
  • Others were merely rationalizations, as those of us who eat meat, fish and salad with the same fork can testify.
  •  
    Along similar lines, cocktail, glassware was created for specific drinks.

  • In the tumbler category alone (not stemware) there are Collins glasses for a tall mixed drink; highball glass, taller but not as tall as the Collins; Old Fashioned glass for an “on the rocks” drink; the dizzy cocktail glass, a wide, shallow bowl like a champagne coupe but without the stem; the shot glass and the whiskey tumbler.
  • Then there are the stemmed cocktail glasses: absinthe, cordial/liqueur, Hurricane, Martini (a.k.a. cocktail glass), sherry, snifter and single malt scotch whiskey glasses.
  • Not to mention a dozen different wine glasses, three different shapes for Champagne and other sparkling wines; and ten or so different beer glass shapes.
  • How about non-alcohol glassware: water glass, iced tea glass, juice glass and fountain glass—oversized for ice cream sodas, malts, shakes and now, smoothies.
  • Whew!

     

    dual-margarita_1321375-230

    The Margarita glass, actually developed for
    blended fruit and frozen Margaritas. Photo by
    Eugene Bochkarev | BSP.

     

    WHO INVENTED THE FROZEN MARGARITA?

    The original Margarita began appearing in bars and restaurants along the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1930s. The first elecric blender had appeared in 1922, and improved upon in 1935 with the invention of the Waring Blender. That device, which could efficiently chop ice, enabled the creation of “frozen” drinks”—a conventional cocktail made in a blender with chopped ice.

    By the 1960s, slushy soft drinks became the craze among kids and adults alike. The machine to make them was invented by Omar Knedlik in the late 1950s. The World War II veteran from Kansas bought his first ice cream shop after the war. In the late 1950s he bought a Dairy Queen that did not have a soda fountain, so he served semi-frozen bottled soft drinks, which became slushy and were immensely popular.

    This gave him the idea to create a machine that made slushy sodas, resulting in the ICEE Company. Yet no one made the leap to using the machine for frozen cocktails.

    At that time, frozen Daiquiris and Margaritas were made by bartenders in a blender with ice cubes. But it wasn’t a great solution.

     

    A young Dallas restaurant manager, Mariano Martinez, couldn’t master the consistency of frozen Margaritas to the satisfaction of his customers—who no doubt were comparing them to the Slushies from 7-Eleven. His bartenders complained that the blender drinks were too time-consuming to make.

    One day in 1971, Martinez stopped for a cup of coffee at a 7-Eleven and saw the Slurpee machine. The light bulb flashed on, and Martinez bought and retrofitted an old soft-serve machine, porting the technology to make frozen Margaritas. The rest is history.

    The frozen Margarita was responsible for the growth of tequila in America, as well as the growth of Tex-Mex cuisine to go with all those frozen Margaritas.

    According to Brown-Forman, in 2006 the Margarita surpassed the Martini as the most ordered alcoholic beverage, representing 17% of all mixed-drink sales. Martinez’ historically significant, original machine was acquired by The National Museum of American History in 2005.
     
    MORE ABOUT MARGARITAS

  • The History Of The Margarita
  • Margarita recipes: original, classic, frozen, non-alcoholic and more
  •  
    Finally, there’s no need to buy “Margarita salt”: It’s just coarse sea salt or kosher salt.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Snow Ice

    One of our favorite writers, bakers and photographers—that’s all one person, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog—is on sabbatical in Hawaii. The photos she’s been posting are such a treat.

    One of her favorite discoveries is snow ice. “A distinct and entirely different dessert than shave ice,” she writes, “snow ice is also a sweet frozen snack, but made of paper-thin ribbons of ice flakes already infused with flavor. Thus, no syrup is required.” [There’s more about the differences below.]

    “This creates a sensational, light texture that’s incredibly easy to eat, even after a big meal. The technique actually comes from Taiwan but has taken root in Hawaii, particularly in downtown Honolulu.”

    Hannah has been hanging out at Frostcity, a small chain with lot of flavors. The base can be milk- or water-based.

    There you’ll find an abundance of flavors, some milk-based and some water-based (vegan):

     

    watermelon-snow-ice-hannahkaminsky-230

    A mountain of snow ice. Photo © Hannah
    Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

  • Classic flavors: almond, chocolate, coffee, cookies & cream, green tea & azuki, mint, nutella, peanut and vanilla
  • Conventional fruits: assorted Berry and melon flavors, banana, lemonade, limeade, mango, pineapple
  • Exotic flavors: avocado, black sesame, calamansi*, haupia†, purple sweet potato
  • Combinations: caramel apple, choco hazelberry (strawberry and Nutella), piña colada, strawberry cheesecake toffee-choco mac
  • Seasonal flavors: egg Nog, gingerbread, nectarine
  • Savory flavors: natto, pickle, sriracha, watercress
  •  
    Colorful garnishes include azuki beans, jellies, mochi balls, tapioca pearls and a sauce of sweetened condensed milk.

     

    blueberry-dramatic-frostcity-230

    Blueberry shaved ice, garnished with “the
    works.” Photo courtesy Frostcity | Honolulu.

     

    SNOW ICE & SHAVE ICE: THE DIFFERENCE

    While both are frozen treats, snow ice is an entirely different dessert than shave ice.

    Snow ice, made in a special machine, consists of paper-thin ribbons of ice flakes that are already infused with flavor. There’s no syrup—which is how shave ice gets its flavor.

    The machine creates a sensational, light texture that’s incredibly easy to eat. The technique actually comes from Taiwan but has taken root in Hawaii, particularly in downtown Honolulu.

    Shave ice or Hawaiian shave ice is made by shaving a block of ice. (That’s “shave ice,” not “shaved ice”—a fact more grammar-conscious people may stumble over. On the Big Island it is also referred to as “ice shave.”)

    Shaving produces a very fine, snow-like ice that easily absorbs the flavored syrup poured over it. Shave ice resembles a snow cone; but there’s a significant difference. Snow cones are made with crushed, rather than shaved, ice and have a rougher texture.

    Which would you prefer? You may have to buy a ticket to Honolulu to begin your voyage of discovery.

     

    *A rarity in the continental U.S. but common in Hawaii, calamondin (also called calamansi) is a Pacific Rim lime that looks like an orange. It was grown in Florida and California until the easier-to-cultivate Bearss/Persian/Tahitian lime became the standard supermarket lime. Some heirloom fruit can still be found in farmers markets. Learn more about the calamondin in our Lime Glossary.
     
    †Haupia is a traditional coconut milk-based Hawaiian dessert often found at luaus and other local gatherings. Made from coconut milk, heated with a thickening agent, it is also a popular topping for white cake, including wedding cake. Although technically a pudding, the consistency approximates a gelatin dessert and it is usually served in blocks like gelatin.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Crab Stuffed Flounder

    Print

    Crab-stuffed flounder is actually easy to
    make. Photo and recipe courtesy Westside
    Market | New York City.

     

    February 18th is National Crab-Stuffed Flounder Day. The recipe is easy to make, and gives the appearance of a “fancy” preparation. You can stuff any white fish filet with crab meat.

    Before buying crab, note that there are four grades of meat. In order of expense, they are:

  • Jumbo lump crab meat, the largest, snow-white lumps.
  • Lump/backfin crab meat, the same color, flavor and texture of jumbo lump, but is in slightly smaller pieces
  • White crab meat, smaller white pieces ideal for recipes where the size and shape of the crab flake becomes indistinguishable, such as crab cakes.
  • Claw crab meat, the reddish-brown claw and leg meat which is actually more flavorful and is preferred by many (who also and appreciate the lower price) and is the best to use in spicy dishes, where the flavor best holds up to the spices,
  •  
    So the best crab meat to use is this recipe is claw or white, depending on preference and availability.

    Here’s more on the different types of crab meat.

    Thanks to the Westside Market in New York City for this easy recipe.

    RECIPE: CRABMEAT STUFFED FLOUNDER

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley or dill plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 8 ounces crab meat, picked over
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 tablespoon cayenne
  • 4 8-ounce flounder or tilapia fillets
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4-8 toothpicks
  • Optional garnish: lemon slice or wedge, parsley or dill sprigs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Lightly oil 9 x13-inch ovenproof dish.

    2. MELT butter in skillet. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft. Stir in parsley or dill. Remove skillet from heat and stir in breadcrumbs, crab meat, lemon juice and cayenne.

    3. DIVIDE crab meat mixture among fillets and roll up. Hold together with toothpicks. Place fish seam side down in baking dish. Sprinkle paprika over fish.

    4. BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with dill and lemon before serving.
     
    CRAB MEAT OR CRABMEAT?

    You’ll see both uses. Which is correct?

    “Crab meat” is more correct, although the incorrect “crabmeat” has eased into acceptance over time (spell or pronounce something incorrectly enough and people accept it as right).

     

    claw-meat-phillips230

    Claw meat and leg meat are darker but more flavorful and less expensive. Use it in recipes where the crab gets fully blended with other ingredients. Photo courtesy Phillips Crab.

     

    Whenever you’re confused about how to write something, think of other uses. For example, lobster meat is the correct form; you’d never write “lobstermeat.”

      

    Comments

    PRESIDENT’S DAY: Dine & Drink With George Washington & Abraham Lincoln

    steak-and-kidney-pie-chatterboxenterprises-230

    You won’t often find steak and kidney pie in
    the U.S. these days. But if you want to eat
    one of George Washington’s favorites, here’s
    the recipe. Recipe and photo courtesy
    Chatterbox Enterprises.

     

    Some of us remember life before Presidents Day. Until 1971, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was a state holiday, celebrated in many states on the his birthday—Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 in Kentucky in that iconic one-room cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. It was a bank, government and school holiday, not to mention a day of retail sales specials.

    George Washington had a separate holiday on his birthday, February 22nd (he was born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to a wealthy planter family).

    In 1971, both presidential holidays were shifted to the third Monday in February and combined as Presidents Day, to allow federal employees a three-day weekend. The private sector followed. Adieu, Lincoln’s Birthday; and yours too, George Washington’s Birthday. You holidays are now part of a vague Presidents Day celebration.

    DINING WITH GEORGE WASHINGTON

    The planter and surveyor who would become the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Washington was known for keeping a bountiful table. He was fond of fine food and enjoyed fresh fish almost daily (often for breakfast with hoe cakes).

     
    Steak and kidney pie, mashed sweet potatoes and string beans almondine were a popular dinner, served with pickles and other condiments, particularly mushroom catsup (tomato catsup came much later—see the history of ketchup). Favorite desserts included tipsy cake (trifle), Martha Washington’s whiskey cake and yes, cherry pie.

    What did Washington drink with his meals?

    Beer was a favorite drink of George Washington, as it was for many people living in 18th century America and Europe. Before municipal water supplies, the water supply was unreliable, with the water from lakes, rivers and wells carrying harmful pathogens. Even young children drank beer.

    Washington was particularly fond of porter, a dark ale, but Madiera and wine were usually present at the table as well. Beer was brewed at Mount Vernon, and hops were grown there. In addition to grain-based beer, persimmon beer and pumpkin beer were brewed in season.

    Washington’s notebooks include a recipe for small beer, which was a weak beer (lower alcohol content) consumed by servants and children. The full-alcohol beer was called strong beer.

     

    WHAT ABOUT THE HARD STUFF?

    In the era before cocktails*, punch was the way to combine spirits, sugar, lemon juice, spices and other ingredients.

    Washington also enjoyed eggnog. His own recipe included brandy, rum and rye, the latter of which was made on the estate. A little-known fact about the Father Of Our Country: At the time of his death, he was the country’s largest producer of rye whiskey. The restored still at Mount Vernon continues to produce un-aged rye whiskey using Washington’s original recipe.
     
    So the choice is yours: Toast to our first president with beer, eggnog, punch or a glass of rye.
     
    Thanks to MountVernon.org for this information. You can read the full article here. And if you’re in the DC area, do plan a visit to this wonderful heritage site.

     

    oyster-stew-wmmb-230

    Dining with Lincoln? You might be served a bowl of oyster stew. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    DINING WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN

    Given the choice of a good meal with George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, opt for Washington.

    Abraham Lincoln’s father, Thomas, was an illiterate farmer. Meals in the family’s one-room cabin comprised simple farm fare.

    Thus, Lincoln was not bred to be a connoisseur of fine food like Washington. His colleagues on the law circuit noted his indifference to the boardinghouse fare. As president, focused on work, he hardly remembered to eat; often, his sustenance was a nibble of apples, nuts, cheese and crackers. Chicken fricassee with biscuits and oyster stew were favorites when he took the time to for a formal meal.

    Lincoln’s favorite beverage was water. He didn’t drink alcohol and it was seldom served at the White House. He did enjoy coffee, perhaps for the energy as much as the flavor.

    A glass of water is fine, but we’d rather have a crisp white wine with our fruit and cheese.

     
    *Cocktails as we know them date back to the early 1800s. Here’s a brief history and some retro cocktails.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Almond Butter Cookies (Chinese Almond Cookies)

    almonds-bowl-niederegger-230

    We buy jumbo packages of raw almonds at
    Costco. Photo courtesy Niederegger
    Marzipan.

     

    February 16 is National Almond Day. Almonds are great for snacking, roasted or raw; and are so flavorful they don’t need added salt or salted seasonings.

    Enjoy some almond triva, and scroll down for a butter-enhanced recipe for Chinese Almond Cookies.

    ALMOND TRIVIA

  • Historians generally agree that almonds and dates, both mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, were among the earliest cultivated foods. The only other nut mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11) is the pistachio nut.
  • Between 600 and 900 C.E., almond trees began to flourish in the Mediterranean, in Greece, Israel, Spain and Morocco. Because of their portability, explorers consumed them while traveling the Silk Road between the Mediterranean region and China.
  • Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, plums and peaches. In this case, it’s the “stone” that is eaten. The botanical name of the almond tree is Prunus amygdalus.
  •  

  • California produces 80% of the world’s supply of almonds. The world’s largest almond factory is in Sacramento; it processes 2 million pounds of almonds a day. California produced 998 million pounds of almonds in 2004. The largest crop on record was in 2002: 1.084 billion pounds.
  • It takes more than 1.2 million bee hives to pollinate California’s almond crop, which spans more than 550,000 acres.
  • Chocolate manufacturers use 40% of the almond crop (and 20% of the world’s peanuts).
  • It takes 1,000 pounds of almonds to make 1 pint of almond oil.
  • There are 5,639 people in the U.S. listed on Whitepages.com with the last name “Almond” (source: Mark Morton, “Gastronomica,” Fall 2010).
  • The Jordan almond, a large plump variety of almond from Malaga, Spain, is considered to be the finest cultivated almond. It is frequently sold with a hard colored sugar coating.
  •  
    ALMOND NUTRITION

  • Almonds are the most nutrient-dense tree nut. One ounce of almonds (20-25 almonds) contains 160 calories and only 1 gram of saturated fat and no cholesterol. The unsaturated fat in almonds is “good” fat, with 13 grams per one-ounce serving.
  • Almonds are also an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium, and a good source of protein and potassium.
  • Almonds are highest in protein and fiber of all the tree nuts.
  • The protein in almonds is more like the proteins in human breast milk of all the seeds and nuts, which is why it is the choice of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine as the base for its baby formula.
  • Almonds are known for high satiety, almonds provide the perfect pre-workout boost, are easy to keep in your office drawer stash, for snacking alone or with yogurt or fruit.
  •  

    RECIPE: ALMOND BUTTER COOKIES

    These almond butter cookies are a whole-wheat and almond butter version of the classic Chinese almond cookie. The recipe was developed by Ellie Krieger, author of So Easy:Luscious Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week.

    You can find more almond-based recipes at the Almond Board of California’s website..
     
    Ingredients For 36 Cookies

  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, or regular whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth, unsalted almond butter
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 36 raw whole almonds (a heaping 1/4 cup)
  •  

    almond_butter_cookies-almondboard-230

    Almond butter cookies. Photo courtesy The Almond Board.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.

    2. WHISK together the flours, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In another large bowl beat together the butter, almond butter and sugars until fluffy.

    3. ADD the vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, bending well.

    4. SHAPE the dough into 3/4 inch balls, and place on the baking sheets. Place an almond in center of each cookie and press down lightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Red Lentil Soup, Other Greek Yogurt Delights & Aleppo Pepper

    Choabani

    Red lentil soup is golden and glorious. Photo
    by Marcus Nilsson | Chobani.

     

    What do you do after your start-up Greek-style yogurt brand becomes the number one brand in the country?

    You continue to share your love of your homeland’s foods by opening a café.

    Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya moved to New York from his native Turkey and couldn’t find thick yogurt as widely available as it was back home. The rest is yogurt history; now, hopefully, the other wonderful yogurt-based foods at his Chobani Soho café* will find as many fans.

    The current café is a revision of the initial concept, which focused on yogurt with savory or sweet toppings†. They’re still on the menu, not joined by soups and simits—the bagel-like, sesame-topped street food of Turkey, available with a variety of fillings.

    We’re a sucker for a simit—we had our first one just a year ago when a simit sandwich shop opened on our block.

    Chobani Soho’s simits include “Bagel + Cream Cheese” (the cream cheese is actually labne, also spelled labneh, and called “Lebanese cream cheese”; Seasonal Preserves + Labne, Smoked Salmom + Herbed Labne; Spiced Chicken + Pomegranate Onion; and Tomato + Olive Tapenade.

     

    We were invited to a media reception where we got to taste everything, all of it terrific. But for us, the star on the menu is the red lentil soup—easy to make, and so luscious and comforting that you’ll be making it again and again. Thanks to Chobani for sharing the recipe.

     
    *The cafe is located at 150 Prince Street at West Broadway in New York City; 1.646.998.3800.

    † SWEET CREATIONS: Blueberry + Power, Fig + Walnut, Fresh Fruit + Granola, Peanut Butter + Jelly, Pistachio + Chocolate, Toasted Coconut + Pineapple. SAVORY CREATIONS: Hummus + Za’atar, Mango + Avocado, Pomegranate + Caramelized Onion (our favorite!) Red Pepper Harissa + Feta, Zucchini Pesto + Tomato.

    RECIPE: CHOBANI RED LENTIL SOUP

    Red lentils (which range in color from yellow to orange to red) are sweeter than the green lentils typically used in American lentil soup, and the brown lentils used elsewhere.

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups lentils
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon salt
  • Pinch Aleppo pepper‡
  • 4 quarts water
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup plain 2% Chobani Greek yogurt
  •  
    ‡A substitute for Aleppo pepper is 4 parts sweet paprika and 1 part cayenne. See the section below on Aleppo pepper.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE lentils in a strainer and rinse under cold water.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 25 minutes.

    3. ADD yogurt. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.

    4. COOL in an ice bath and then refrigerate. Reheat before serving. Blend with immersion blender after reheating to eliminate lumps and smooth out soup.

    5. MAKE garnish: Melt ¼ pound butter in a small sauce pan until foaming. Add ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper and remove from heat. Drizzle ½ teaspoon (for an 8-ounce portion) or ¾ teaspoon (for a 12-ounce portion). Keep butter warm and garnish with a spoon of Aleppo pepper butter before serving.

     

    Choabani

    Simit, the “Turkish bagel,” ready to meet thick labne. Photo by Marcus Nilsson | Chobani.

    WHAT IS ALEPPO PEPPER?

    Also called halab pepper, halaby pepper, Near Eastern pepper and Syrian red pepper flakes, Aleppo pepper hales from Turkey and northern Syria. The town of Aleppo, a famous food mecca, is located in Syria near the Turkish border.

    Aleppo pepper is used to add heat and pungency to Middle Eastern dishes. It is not a berry, like peppercorns, but a moderately hot red chile that is sun-dried, seeded and crushed. (Ever since someone in the crew of Christopher Columbus came across a chile in the New World and called it “pepper,” the confusion has endured. Here’s the scoop on pepper, here’s the story on chiles.)

    The Aleppo chile’s high oil content provides a deep, rich aroma, somewhere between coffee and smoke; it has been compared to the ancho chile. It has fruity notes with mild, cumin-like undertones. It can be compared to—but is much more flavorful, complex, and less harsh than—that generic pizza staple, crushed red pepper.

    USES FOR ALEPPO PEPPER

    The moderate heat of Aleppo pepper is used:

  • With proteins: fish stews, roast chicken, grilled meats (including kabobs)
  • In veggie dishes: rice pilaf, simmered beans and lentils, to add kick to green salads (it’s delicious with yogurt and cucumbers or melon and mint salad)
  • As an attractive red garnish: on deviled eggs (or with any eggs), on potato, chicken, tuna and pasta salads
  • In any Mediterranean dish: tagines and couscous, for example
  • In classic American dishes: chili, pizza, soup, stews
  • As an everyday seasoning: add the flakes to olive oil to infuse for a vinaigrette, marinade, rub or for sautéing
  •  
    If you can’t find Aleppo pepper locally, you can buy it online. When you empty your jar of crushed red pepper flakes, replace it with Aleppo.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Carrots In Love

    Who would want to eat these carrots and destroy their charm? But wiser minds argue that if they aren’t eaten, they’ll just wither away.

    Point taken, and it’s a moot point too, since we are not in possession of these carrots in love.

    But we do have a bag of baby carrots, and the photo inspired us to create a healthful carrot snack, tricked out for the occasion.

    VALENTINE CARROTS

    Ingredients

  • A bag of baby carrots
  • Red food color or beet juice* (from the can of beets)
  • A dip base—plain Greek yogurt or hummus, for example
  • Optional chives, dill or other herb for yogurt dip
  • Optional garnish or mix/in: finely diced cooked beets (sliced canned beets work)
  •  

    carrots-in-love-doleFB-230s

    Isn’t nature grand? Photo via Dole | Facebook.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE yogurt dip: If choosing plain Greek yogurt, season with herbs and garlic.

    2. COLOR the dip (yogurt or hummus) with food color or beet juice.

    3. CREATE a very small dice of beets. Mix them into the yogurt or hummus.

    4. GARNISH the dip bowl with a rim of diced beets, if desired; and scatter with minced herbs.
     
    *Beet juice is available at some supermarkets and at most health food stores. It’s delicious, high in antioxidants and low in calories. For a yogurt dip especially, beet juice adds flavor that red food color does not.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE: Rice Krispie Treats Pops

    valentine-rice-krispie-treats-bellabaker-230

    Rice Krispie Treats on a stick for your
    Valentine. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.

     

    Thanks to BellaBaker.com for these fun Valentine Rice Krispie treats. Just grab your heart-shake cookie cutter, some red-striped straws and a box of Rice Krispies.

    They’re sweet and sticky and oh so satisfying, and in the shape of a heart and stuck onto a striped straw, they’re a perfect addition to your V-day celebration.

    RECIPE: VALENTINE RICE KRISPIE POPS

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies
  • Heart shaped cookie cutter
  • Optional decoration: candy melts, red or other
    colors, cinnamon candies or chocolate chips
  •  
    Plus

  • 9″ x 13″ baking pan
  • Red and white striped straws or lollipop sticks
  • Squeeze bottle(s) for candy melts
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MELT butter in a saucepan over low heat, then add in the marshmallows.

    2. SPRAY a rubber spatula with nonstick cooking spray (to avoid marshmallows sticking to the spatula), then stir the marshmallows until melted. Add Rice Krispies and stir until cereal is well coated in marshmallow.

    3. LIGHTLY SPRAY a 9″ x 13″ pan with nonstick spray, then turn the Rice Krispie mixture out into the pan. Press down with the palm of your hand to flatten the Rice Krispies evenly into the pan. Allow 15 minutes to cool.

    4. CUT into heart shapes, then gently insert a striped straw into the base of each shape.
     
    Decorating Options

    1. CANDY MELTS. Melt candy melts in the microwave and then transfer to squeeze bottles. Decorate the Rice Krispie heart with various colors and patterns.

    2. CINNAMON CANDIES or CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cinnamon candies (like Red Hots) or mini chips atop the Rice Krispie mixture in the pan; then press down with palms to flatten.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Valentine Pizza

    You can use a giant heart-shape cookie pan, pressing into the dough like a cookie cutter, to cut a heart-shaped crust (which also works for anniversaries, bridal showers, birthdays, Mother’s Day and other festivities).

    Or you can freehand it.

    Use your Valentine’s favorite toppings or stick to a red theme:

    RED VEGETABLES

  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Diced San Marzano tomatoes (canned)
  • Grilled red pepper (pimiento)
  • Mini red jacket potatoes, cooked and halved
  • Pepperoni
  • Pimento-stuffed olives
  • Red bell peppers
  • Red chiles (Anaheim, Fresno or jalapeño, e.g.)
  • Sliced plum tomatoes
  • Sundried tomatoes
  •  

    heart-pizza-dueforni-lasvegas-230

    We [heart] pizza. Photo courtesy Due Forni | Las Vegas.

     

    PINK-RED PROTEINS

  • Pepperoni
  • Prosciutto/Serrano ham
  • Salmon caviar
  • Shrimp
  • Smoked salmon
  •  
    One of our favorite pizzas: sliced boiled potatoes, smoked salmon strips, salmon caviar and fresh dill with white sauce.

    It’s perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day!

      

    Comments

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