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Archive for International Foods

TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Burritos & Burrito History

April 7th is National Burrito Day. You don’t have to twist most arms to enjoy one.

THE NIBBLE is having a lunch of gourmet burritos. We share the ingredients below, but first, a bit of…

BURRITO HISTORY

A step back in history: In 1519 the Spanish conquistadors arrived in what today is Mexico, bringing with them wheat flour and pigs. This enabled flour tortillas and carnitas. Flour tortillas are more flexible than corn tortillas, and therefore, easily rollable.

A modern question is: Why are carnitas in a flour tortilla called burrito—“little donkey” in Spanish?

No one knows for sure, but the leading guess is that it was named for its shape, which resembles the bedrolls carried on the back of donkeys.

While the modern burrito is no more than 100 years old, Mesoamericans often rolled their food in tortillas for convenience (no dishes or utensils needed). Avocados, chili peppers, mushrooms, squash and tomatoes were sliced and rolled.

The Pueblo peoples of the Southwestern U.S. were even closer to the mark. They made tortillas with beans and meat sauce fillings, prepared much like the modern burrito [source].

But the word “burrito” doesn’t appear in print until 1895, in the Spanish-language Dictionary of Mexicanisms. It was as a name used in the region of Guanajuato, in north-central Mexico. It is described as “a rolled tortilla, with meat or other food within, called coçito in Yucatan and taco in the city of Cuernavaca and in Mexico City.”

That there was a rolled food called burrito in 1895 dispenses with the folk tale of a man named Juan Méndez, who sold tacos from a street stand during the Mexican Revolution (1910–1921) in Ciudad Juárez. As he used a donkey for transport, customers began to call his tacos “food of the burrito,” the little donkey, and the name eventually stuck.

Food historians opine that the modern burrito may actually have been invented in the U.S., as a convenient lunch for Mexican agricultural workers.

The Modern Burrito: Born In The U.S.A.

The precise origin is not known, but it is generally believed to have originated in a Mexican-American community in the U.S., among farm workers in California’s Central Valley (Fresno, Stockton).

According to Wikipedia, the farm workers who spent all day picking produce in fields would bring lunches of homemade flour tortillas, beans and salsa picante (hot sauce)—inexpensive and convenient.

Burritos first appeared on American restaurant menus in the 1930s, beginning with El Cholo Spanish Cafe in Los Angeles. El cholo is the word used by Mexican settlers in California for field hands.

Burritos were mentioned in the U.S. media for the first time in 1934, appearing in the Mexican Cookbook, a collection of regional recipes from New Mexico by historian Erna Fergusson.

The book includes “celebrated favorites such as enchiladas, chile rellenos, and carne adovada, as well as the simple, rustic foods traditionally prepared and served in New Mexican homes.”

It was “inspired by the delight and enthusiasm with which visitors to the Southwest partook of the region’s cuisine.” You can still buy a copy.

In 1999, food writer John Mariani wrote that “What makes burritos different from most other Mexican-American foods is the metamorhpasis of this dish.

“We tracked down the earliest print references for ‘burritos’ cited by food history in American/English reference books. They are nothing like the burritos we are served today…

“When and where did the change happen? Early 1960s, Southern California. The who and why remain a mystery. Our survey of historic newspapers suggests food trucks played a roll. Burritos are efficient, economical, easy and delicious.” [Source: Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 48)]
 
TODAY’S BURRITOS

In Mexico, meat and beans or refried beans can be the only burrito fillings. In the U.S., things get more elaborate.

American burrito fillings may include not only the refried (or other) beans and meat, but rice, lettuce, salsa (pico de gallo, salsa picante), guacamole, shredded cheese (cheddar or jack), sour cream and vegetables. Burrito sizes vary—they’re super-sized in the U.S., up to 12 inches. You can also find them in 9- and 10-inch diameters.

In 1964, Duane R. Roberts of Orange County, California sold the first frozen burrito. He made so much money that he was eventually able to buy Riverside’s iconic Mission Inn and refurbish it.

The U.S. even developed the breakfast burrito, and astronauts eat them in outer space!

   

Steak Cilantro Burrito

Shrimp Burrito

Wet Burritos

Green Chili Chicken Burrito

[1] Steak and cilantro burrito. Here’s the recipe from Half Baked Harvest. [2] Gourmet burrito: grilled shrimp and avocado cream. Here’s the recipe from Foodie Crush. [3] Breakfast burrito: Now an American staple, it first appeared in 1975. Here’s a recipe from She Wears Many Hats. [4] Chipotle restaurants brought burritos and burrito bowls across America (photo courtesy Chipotle). [5] Wet burritos: definitely not grab-and-go. Here’s the recipe from Hezzi D’s Books & Cooks. [6] Not wet, but smothered in a poblano-cheeese sauce. Here’s the recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch.

 
Tia Sophia’s, a Mexican café in Santa Fe, New Mexico, claims to have invented the original breakfast burrito in 1975, filling a rolled tortilla with bacon and potatoes. It was served “wet,” topped with chili and cheese.

Many Americans had their first breakfast burrito when McDonald’s introduced the Sausage Burrito in 1991: a flour tortilla, sausage, American cheese, scrambled eggs, onions and peppers. Taco Bell didn’t introduce a breakfast burrito until 2014.

Which brings us to the choice of the grab-and-go burrito, eaten by hand, and wet burritos, on a plate covered with sauce and other garnishes, eaten with a knife and fork.

And then there’s the burrito bowl, pioneered by Chipotle: the fillings of a burrito eaten with a fork, no tortilla.

Chipotle now sells more bowls than conventional burritos. The bowls save 300 calories [source].

 

Burrito Bowl

Kale & Bean Burrito

[7] A burrito bowl provides the fillings without the tortilla. Photo courtesy Simply Recipes. [8] Trendy and vegan: a kale burrito with black beans and avocado. Here’s the recipe from Cookie and Kate.

 

GOURMET BURRITO INGREDIENTS

We’re not the type to put gold leaf, foie gras and sturgeon caviar on food just to create the world’s most expensive [fill in the blank]. But we do enjoy the luxury of playing with top-drawer ingredients.

Rice and beans are fillers. You can make a burrito without them, or can serve them on the side.

Or, you can take them up a notch with fancier rice and beans.

Here are typical burrito ingredients and their upscale variations. If you don’t like our ingredients, tell us what you’d use instead.

  • Beans (kidney, pinto, refried) > heirloom beans: cranberry, scarlet runner, yellow Indian woman…or lentils.
  • Carnitas (braised pork) > pork belly.
  • Cheese (cheddar or jack) > gruyère.
  • Diced tomatoes > heirloom tomatoes, marinated yellow cherry tomatoes, fresh tomato sauce (diced tomatoes with seasonings), tomato jam.
  • Chicken (thigh meat): ditto, with the skin removed, crisped and tossed into the burrito (cracklings).
  • Cilantro > cilantro plus basil and parsley.
  • Diced onions > Caramelized onions, onion preserves.
  • Fried fish > roasted or grilled salmon.
  • Garlic > roast garlic cloves, whole or mashed.
  • Iceberg or romaine lettuce > butter lettuce, curly leaf lettuce, mesclun mix with baby arugula, red endive or radicchio, red leaf lettuce, watercress.
  • Lime wedge > lime zest sprinkled on top before rolling.
  • Rice > jasmine rice, multigrain rice, saffron rice, wild rice, other grain (barley, quinoa, e.g.).
  • Exotic rice > Bhutanese red rice, black rice (forbidden rice), Kalijira rice from Bangladesh (considered the finest tiny aromatic rice in the world) (types of rice)
  • Shrimp the same (it’s hard to improve on grilled shrimp).
  • Steak (skirt or hanger) > filet mignon, roast lamb.
  •  
    For lunch today, we’re having:

  • Filet mignon and wild rice burritos with shredded gruyère and [leftover] beluga lentils.
  • Grilled shrimp burritos with romaine and arugula, green rice (parsley), gruyère and dilled sour cream.
  • Grilled salmon, with dilled rice, sour cream, salmon caviar and [leftover] yellow lentils.
  •  
    Have whatever burrito you like, but definitely have a burrito. Where would be be without them?

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Get Creative With A Basic Recipe

    Causa Morada Recipe

    Causa Morada Recipe

    Causa Morada Recipe

    Causa Morada Croquettes

    Causa Morada Appetizer

    [1] Glamorizing potatoes and chicken salad. Here’s the recipe from Potato Goodness. [2] Don’t feel like stacking? Just place the ingredients on a plate, as in this recipe from Live Naturally Magazine. Or, layer them in a glass dish. [3] At Raymi Peruvian restaurant in New York City, a Japanese accent is added via julienned nori (dried seaweed sheets), togarashi mayo for the chicken salad, and ponzu syrup. Here’s the recipe via Star Chefs [4] Croquettes: the chicken is inside! See the recipe at Sweet Cakes Toronto. [5] Turned into an appetizer with a pretzel stick, at Piscomar restaurant in Madrid.

     

    Causa morada is a South American classic, a layered dish of potato-and-chicken salad. (The fancy layering in Photo #1 is restaurant style. At home, layering is more casual.)

    It is served cold (room temperature) as an appetizer or as a lunch entrée.

    Make the mashed potatoes with Purple Peruvians, and you’ve got a dish that screams “Easter week!”

    You can substitute other salads (crab, egg, shrimp, tuna) and add other touches as you wish. We’ve included some variations below.

    The name of the dish comes from the Quechua* word kausay, which means “life” or “sustenance of life.” Potatoes originated in Peru and number hundreds of cultivars. They were the sustenance of life in pre-Hispanic Peru, as rice was in China.

    Morada means purple, referring to the purple potatoes. As you can see in Photo #7 below, there are also blue potatoes.

    The original dish was simply boiled potatoes eaten with slices of aji amarillo (the principal Peruvian chili). Meat was scarce in the Andes Mountains. Much of the cuisine was vegetarian.

    This most basic recipe of boiled potatoes illustrates today’s tip: The simplest foods can be made more flavorful and appealing, with a few twists.

    The recipe below is Adina, a modern Peruvian restaurant in Portland, Oregon. Peruvian cuisine is an interesting fusion, not just of Spanish and Inca cuisines, but of Japanese cuisine, from the immigration of Japanese laborers at the turn of the [20th] century. You’ll see how Japanese touches grace some of the variations.

    This recipe came to us via Potato Goodness, the recipe website of Potatoes USA, the nation’s potato marketing and research organization.
     
    RECIPE: CAUSA MORADA, PERUVIAN CHICKEN SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds purple potatoes
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup aji amarillo purée†
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1-1/2 cups semi-ripe avocados, thinly sliced
  • Garnish: spicy sprouts, such as daikon (radish) or clover
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until very tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

    2. PEEL the potatoes and pass through a food mill or ricer (or simply mash very finely) into a large bowl. Knead lightly with gloved‡ hands, slowly drizzling in oil, as needed, to a dough-like consistency. Add the lime juice and season to taste with salt. Refrigerate until cold and firm, about 2 hours.

    3. PLACE the chicken, onion, carrot and mint into a large saucepan, adding just enough water to cover. Bring to a slow boil. Cook until the chicken is fork tender and can be pulled apart, about 20 minutes.

    4. TRANSFER the chicken to a medium bowl. Once cool enough to handle, shred with fingers or a fork. Mix in the mayonnaise, aji amarillo, celery, and red onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

    5a. For individual servings, layer ring molds with potato mixture, then chicken mixture, then potato mixture. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

    5b: For a single dish, use a 2-quart glass casserole. Layer the ingredients, as above. Refrigerate until ready to serve; let warm to room temperature first, as desired.

     

    HOW TO CHANGE IT

    Color: Purple or blue potatoes add so much more punch to Causa Morada than white varieties. As another example, how about a yellow gazpacho, using yellow tomatoes and bell peppers instead of the conventional red?

    Size: Turn a full dish or side into an appetizer: Causa Morada bites (chicken salad stuffed into baby potatoes) or gazpacho shots? Or gazpacho sorbet?

    Format: Change the shape and purpose, like the plated Causa Morada in photo #2, the croquettes in Photo #4, and the appetizers in Photo #5. Can you turn it into a drink? You can make a Caprese Cocktail by reformatting the ingredients of Caprese Salad: a mix of tomato and lettuce juices, with a garnish of mozzarella balls on a pick.

    Another ingredient: The avocado in Photo #1 adds new personality to the dish. What about a surf and turf variation, adding something from the sea (scallops? shrimp?).

    Crunch: If the dish has no crunch, add some. Anything from a side of jicama batons or radish slices, to an artisan cracker or potato plantain chip on top, will do the trick. One of our secrets: Japanese rice cracker snack mix, which is also one of our favorite things to serve with wine and cocktails.

    Sweetness: Add some fruit, minced into the chicken salad, grilled as an extra layer or garnish, or pureéd into a sauce.

    Salty: Blend in olives or capers, for example.

    Condiments: Add chutney; cornichons or gherkins; pickled vegetables; or relish to the plate.

    Vegetables: For Causa Morada, some red color cherry or grape tomatoes, or some texture a bit of frisée or arugula salad.

    Sauce: There are countless types of sauces for every dish. Sweet, savory, herbal, matching, contrasting.

    Bread: Could bread or crackers enhance the dish? For example, Causa Morada could be served with toasts or flatbread on which to spread the soft layers. Consider what would enhance your recipe: anything from garlic crostini (garlic bread) to sesame breadsticks to

    Garnish: Garnish can change the personality of a dish. Imagine Causa Morada topped julienned nori (photo #3), honey peanuts, diced melon, shoestring fried onions. For fun: a few Goldfish?

    ________________

    *Quechua is the language of the Incas. It is still spoken by their ancestors in the Andes Mountains.

    †You can substitute other fresh chile. If you don’t want to take the time to purée the chile, just add minced pieces to the chicken salad.

     

    Purple Peruvian Potatoes

    Blue Peruvian Potatoes

    Aji Amarillo Chile

    [6] Purple Peruvian potatoes. [7] Blue Peruvian potatoes. [8] Aji amarillo, the chile of Peru.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Quick & Easy Paella Recipe For National Paella Day

    March 27th is National Paella Day. Many people think that paella is a complex, time-consuming dish—and classic recipes can be.

    But you can make this simplified version from Good Eggs easily on any weeknight.

    After 20 minutes of prep time, 20 mins active time plus 40 minutes simmer time.

    RECIPE: SPRING SHRIMP PAELLA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • Optional: 1/2 pound mussels or clams
  • ¾ cup arborio rice, rinsed
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon (generous) saffron threads
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 12 ounces fresh spring peas or snap peas, cut on a diagonal (or a mix)
  • 1¼ cups chicken broth
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, more as desired
  • Garnish: 1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped (save the stems*)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE a large pan over medium heat (a skillet or roasting pan will do). Add in 2-3 Tbsp of olive oil, and add the onions. Crush the saffron threads between your fingers and sprinkle over the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.

    2. ADD the rice, broth, lemon juice and zest, and stir until well combined. Turn the heat to high and bring liquid the to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes.

    3. ADD the peas and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir to blend. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Taste and season with more salt if desired.

    4. PLACE the shrimp in an even layer on top of the mixture. Don’t stir, but cover and cook another 10 minutes.

    5. REMOVE the cover and turn the heat to medium. Continue to cook without stirring until the shrimp are fully cooked. Watch carefully to avoid burning the bottom, although a golden-brown crunchy, crusty rice bottom crust—called soccorat—is ideal.

    ________________

    *Save the parsley stems: They add excellent flavor to soups and stews. Parsley stems also prevent artichokes from browning. Just drop them in a bowl of water with the cut artichokes. You can store the stems in the freezer.
     
    MORE ABOUT PAELLA

  • Paella History & Types
  • Paella On The Grill
  •  
     
    WHAT IS ARBORIO RICE

    If you want a creamy risotto or paella, you need to use Arborio rice.

    This medium-length, round-grained rice is named after the town of Arborio, in Italy’s Po Valley, where it is grown. The grains have a more beige color with a characteristic white dot at the center of the grain.

     

    Easy Shrimp Paella

    Shrimp Paella

    Scoop Of Arborio Rice

    [2] You don’t need a special paella pan like this one; but here’s why it helps—plus other uses for it (photo courtesy Imusa). [3] Arborio rice: more beige, and much more creamy when cooked (photo courtesy A Sassy Radish).

     
    Developed to create creamy risottos, Arborio rice develops its creamy texture around a chewy center (the creaminess comes from a high starch content). It has an exceptional ability to absorb flavors.

    Arborio is a cultivar of japonica rice, the same variety that produces the other “sticky rices” including mochi and sweet rice.

    Pricier, creamier rices developed by Italians for their beloved risotto are canaroli rice and vialone nano.

    Rice pudding fans: These three rice varieties make creamier rice pudding, too.

    Here are the different types of rice.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Seed & Mill Halva Is Halva Heaven

    Seed + Mill Halva

    Seed + Mill Halva

    Seed + Mill Halva

    Seed + Mill Halva

    Halva With Ground Coffee Beans

    Halva With Pop Rocks

    Halva Dessert Plate

    Halva Dessert Plate

    Halva Cake

    [1] Clockwise from top: rose, cinnamon, pistachio and coffee. [2] Chocolate chile halva. [3] Lavender halva. [4] From the front: chocolate orange, date, lemongrass and marble. [5] Caffeinated, with ground coffee beans. [6] Vanilla topped with Pop Rocks. [7] A halva dessert plate: mixed flavors and fruits. [8] Dessert plate of halva with dried fruit. [9] For a special occasion cake, just add a candle. All photos courtesy Seed + Mill.

     

    Halva versus halvah? Who cares how to spell it*, when it tastes this good.

    The sweet confection’s name derives from the Arabic word halwa, which means…sweet confection.

    The best halva we can imagine comes from a relatively new company, Seed + Mill, founded by three friends in New York City, one of whom grew up in Israel.

    The company was born when the latter friend couldn’t find quality tahini in the U.S., and decided to grind her own. Fresh tahini is ground on-site at their store in Chelsea Market, New York City, and sold along with other sesame-based products.

    The company says that theirs is the only store in the U.S. that solely purveys sesame seed products (although we noted a frozen yogurt machine with goat’s milk yogurt).

    While all products are excellent, our food-life-changing experience was engendered by the sesame-based confection, halva(h). Seed + Mill makes the most ethereal, exquisite halva we can imagine—and we have been halva-deprived, for reasons we’ll explain in a bit.
     
    ARTISAN HALVA

    Seed + Mill distinguishes its products using white sesame seeds from Ethiopia, considered the world’s best. Known for their richness of flavor, they are grown in the area of Humera, a city in the northwest corner of Ethiopia, at the borders of Sudan and Eritrea.

    Most of the sesame used for halva and tahini sold in the U.S. is made from seeds from India and Mexico, and are not as flavorful. Hence, our disappointment with the halva available to us.

    Seed + Mill’s sesame seeds are shipped from Humera to Israel, where they are roasted. Some stay in for a bit in Israel, to be ground in small batches and turned into halva. Whole roasted seeds are shipped to New York, to be ground into tahini.

    The halva is made by small Israeli producers to the company’s specifications. The producers use ancient artisan technique—no machines, but caldrons, paddles and troughs. The sugar is boiled and whipped into a foam that produces the melting lightness of the confection. Vigorous hand-kneading produces the finest, fluffiest halvah.

    Although halva is approximately half sesame paste and half sugar, you can assuage some of the guilt with sesame’s enviable nutrition† and heart healthy fats.

    The confection is only mildly sweet, the opposite of fudge and American candy bars.

    And let us add: Seed + Mill has as much in common with halva brands like Joyva as McDonald’s has with Per Se.

    Even the large halva cakes sold at Zabar’s and shops on the Lower East Side have become so mediocre through the use of cheaper ingredients, that we gave up eating halvah several years ago.
     
    THE HISTORY OF HALVA

  • Some scholars suggest that an early form of halva originated before the 12th century in Byzantium, the ancient Greek colony that later became Constantinople, and now Istanbul.
  • Evidence exists that the original was a somewhat gelatinous, grain-based dessert made with oil, flour and sugar.
  • The first written halvah recipe appeared in the early 13th century, and included seven variations.
  • In the same period, a cookbook from Moorish Spain describes rolling out a sheet of candy made of boiled sugar, honey, sesame oil and flour; sprinkling it with rose water, sugar and ground pistachios; and covering it with a second layer of candy before cutting it into triangles.
  • Halva spread across the Middle East to the Mediterranean, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. In each locale, its name and ingredients changed slightly to include regional products.
  • Depending on local preferences, different recipes ground different seeds or nuts to make the halva. For example, Egyptians added pistachios, almonds or pine nuts. Indians flavored their halva with ghee, coconuts and dates.
  • Flour and oil disappeared from the recipe.
  • One recipe, made with sesame tahini, was favored by the Ottoman-ruled Romanians. Their Jewish population passed it on to Ashkenazi Jews throughout Europe. It was this sesame halva recipe that was brought to the U.S. in the early 20th century by Jewish immigrants.
  •  
    Here’s more halvah history.
     
     
    SEED & MILL’S MOST HEAVENLY HALVA

    Halva is made when tahini (ground sesame paste) is blended with sugar at a high temperature, and then hand-stirred.

    The company boasts 27 flavors, including two sugar-free varieties. They’re all available online, and the retail shop in Chelsea carries about ten them at a time. Some are seasonal; for example, expect cranberry in the fall and lavender in the summer.

    Wile many Seed + Mill flavors are vegan, about half of the flavors do include a bit of butter, which makes the halvah even lighter and melt-in-your-mouth. These are noted on the website.

    The non-butter flavors meet dietary preferences including dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo and vegan.

    If this seems like a lot of flavors, note that Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566), the Ottoman Empire’s longest-reigning sultan, had a special kitchen built next to his palace that was dubbed the helvahane, house of halva. It produced some 30 varieties of the confection.

    At Seed + Mill, you’ll find traditional and modern flavors:

  • Cardamom Halva
  • Chia Halva
  • Chili Chocolate Halva
  • Chocolate & Orange Halva
  • Chocolate Pistachio Halva
  • Cinnamon Halva
  • Coconut Dark Chocolate Halva
  • Crunchy Peanut Butter Halva
  • Dates Halva
  • Dulce de Leche Halva
  • Ginger Halva
  • Goji Berry Halva
  • Lemongrass Halva
  • Marble Halva
  • Mixed Chocolate Halva (dark, milk and white chocolate)
  • Nutella & Hazelnuts Halva
  • Pistachio Halva
  • Rose Oil Halva
  • Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Halva
  • Sweet Pecans Halva
  • Vanilla Halva
  • Whiskey Halva
  • White Chocolate & Lemon Halva
  • White Chocolate Raspberry Halva
  • Yummy Flaky Halva (for garnish)
  •  
    Sugar-Free Flavors

  • Sugar Free Coffee Halva
  • Sugar Free Pistachio Halva
  •  
    Seed + Mill is certified by United Kosher Supervision. You can purchase a piece as small as a quarter-pound, or order an entire halva cake.

    While you’re at it, treat yourself to a jar of the company’s rich, silky tahini in herb, organic and organic whole seed; and two sesame spices, mixes of sesame with salt or za’atar.

     

    RECIPE: HALVA ICED COFFEE

    Seed + Mill adapted this recipe from Ben of Havoc In The Kitchen. He found it in a Russian food magazine, where it was originally made with peanut halva.

    The shake-like drink does nicely as a snack, a dessert or, with the whiskey, an after-dinner drink.

    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 2 cups strong brewed coffee, chilled
  • 1/3 cup peanut or sesame halva
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • Optional: 2-3 tablespoons whiskey (or to taste)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the coffee, halva, ice cubes and ice cream in a blender. Process for 5 minutes or until smooth and foamy.

    2. STRAIN and discard the tiny pieces of halva and the coffee will be silky and smooth.

     

    Halva Iced Coffee

    [105] Serve halva iced coffee with alone or with halva dessert plate.

     
    3. RINSE the bowl of the blender, return the strained coffee and blend for another 2 minutes and to foam.
     
    ________________

    *The word is transliterated from Arabic, so either halva or halvah is correct.

    †Sesame seeds are one of the world’s healthiest foods. Here’s a nutrition profile.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Piperade & Espelette Pepper

    Pipérade (French) or piperrada (Spanish) is a French Basque dish made from green bell pepper, garlic, onion and tomato, sautéd together and seasoned with red espelette pepper.

    The word derives from piper, the Basque word for pepper. The colors—red, white and green—are those of the Basque flag (said to be a coincidence).

    Basque Country straddles the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast, Pyrénées-Atlantiques north and south of the Pyrenees Mountains.

    The area has a rich culinary heritage, including some 40 Michelin-starred restaurants and a sheep cheese, Ossau-Iraty, named best cheese in the world at the World Cheese Championships in 2011.

    Pipérade is a dish from the Northern Basque Country (French Basque Country), which lies entirely within France and known as Pays Basque Français in French.

    Pipérade is related to the Provençal ratatouille, which adds zucchini and eggplant to the mix. Both are colorful and versatile dishes that can be enjoyed any time of the day (and are a delicious way to add to your daily vegetable servings).

    WAYS TO SERVE PIPERADE

    While many of these applications may not be traditional Basque, they show the flexibility of piperade.
     
    Pipérade At Breakfast

  • With eggs, any style
  • Atop polenta, with or without a fried egg
  • With cheese grits or other porridge (cream of wheat, cream of rice)
  • A Basque version of shakshsouka
  • On toast
  •  
    Pipérade At Lunch

  • On a burger
  • On a sandwich: grilled cheese, turkey, ham
  • On pizza
  • As a vegetable sandwich (instead of grilled vegetables), with or without mozzarella or other cheese
  • As a vegetable plate, with rice or other grain
  •  
    Pipérade At Dinner

  • As an appetizer, on crostini or bruschetta
  • As an appetizer, in tartlet shells
  • As a side, alone or with grains or potatoes
  • Atop grilled, roasted or sautéed chicken*, fish or pork
  •  
    ________________
    *In French Basque cuisine, piment d’espelette with ham is often served over braised chicken.
    ________________

     
    RECIPE: PIPERADE

    When bell peppers are on sale, we load up and make a batch of pipérade (it can be frozen). We’re flexible on the color of the bell peppers (in fact, we prefer a mix of colors ).

    While waiting for summer tomatoes (and after they’re gone), we use whole canned San Marzano† tomatoes instead of the bland plum tomatoes in the market. Drain them, but save the juice and drink it, plain or with a splash of gin.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Chef Aida Mollenkamp. She peels the tomatoes. We’re lazy and often skip this step (and usually use use the peeled, canned San Marzano tomatoes, anyway).

       

    Chicken With Piperade

    Piperade Poached Eggs

    Piperade Crostini

    Sirloin With Piperade

    [1] Pipérade crostini (here’s the recipe from The New York Times, and another recipe for piperade with Arctic char). [2] Eggs poached in pipérade, shakshouka-style (here’s the recipe from Au Petit Gout). [3] Chicken with pipérade, a basque classic (here’s the recipe Williams-Sonoma). [4] Sirloin with pipérade and arugula pesto (photo from Sun Basket meal delivery service).

     

     

    Fresh Espelette Pepper

    Ground Espelette Pepper

    [5] Fresh espelette peppers in the marketplace (photo courtesy Lurrak). [6] Ground espelette pepper, used in recipes (photo courtesy La Maison du Piment).

     

    Ingredients

  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced Bayonne ham, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium dried bay leaf
  • 2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cleaned and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, cleaned and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons piment d’espelette
  • Optional: Bayonne‡ ham or substitute (2)
  • ________________

    †The San Marzano is an heirloom variety of plum tomato, originally planted in the town of the same name at the base of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples. The volcanic soil and sunny climate grow tomatoes that are among the most sought-after on earth, with remarkable, sweet, intense tomato flavor. The canned variety are also delicious.

    ‡Bayonne ham is a cured ham from the French Basque country. If you can’t find it, substitute prosciutto or other ham.
    ________________

    Preparation

    1. PEEL the fresh tomatoes. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a medium bowl halfway with ice and water. Using the tip of a knife, remove the stem and cut a shallow X-shape into the bottom of each tomato. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch until the skin just starts to pucker and loosen, about 10 seconds. Drain and immediately immerse the tomatoes in the ice water bath. Using a small knife, peel the loosened skin and cut each tomato in half. With a small spoon, scrape out any seeds, then core and coarsely chop the remaining flesh. Set aside.

     
    2. PLACE a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a tigh-fitting lid over medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ham to a plate and set aside.

    3. RETURN the pan to the heat, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, and, once heated, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring a few times, until soft and beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Stir in the herbs and bell pepper slices and season well with salt. Cover and cook, stirring a few times, until the peppers are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

    4. STIR in the diced tomatoes, browned ham, and piment d’Espelette, and season with salt to taste. Cook uncovered until the mixture melds and the juices have slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and serve.
     
    THE ESPELETTE PEPPER

    The espelette pepper, called piment d’espelette in French and ezpeletako biperra in Basque, is a variety of species Capsicum annuum that is cultivated in the French commune of Espelette in the Northern Basque Country (Pays Basque Français).

    Chiles, which are native to Central and South America, were brought to France in the 16th century. It is believed that the chiles were introduced into the Basque Nive Valley in 1523 by Gonzalo Percaztegi, a navigator who voyaged with Christopher Columbus (who brought chiles to Spain in 1494). It became popular as a condiment and is now a staple of Basque cuisine, where it has gradually replaced black pepper.

    This pepper has only a maximum of 4,000 SHUs on the Scoville Scale and is therefore considered only mildly hot—at the level of cayenne and Louisiana hot sauce.

    Espelette pepper can be purchased as fresh or dried whole peppers (photo #5), as ground pepper (photo #6), as purée in jars or pickled in jars. For fresh espelette, look for non-AOC espelette peppers grown in California.

    Growing in French soil, its unique qualities have earned it AOC and APO classifications. An annual pepper festival organized by Confrérie du Piment d’Espelette, held the last weekend in October since 1968, attracts some 20,000 tourists [source].

    If you can’t find it, substitute hot paprika or cayenne.

    See the different types of chiles in our Chile Glossary.

      

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