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TIP OF THE DAY: Stovetop Kabobs In A Cast Iron Pan

Who needs a grill to make kabobs?

With the recipe below from Good Eggs, you can make delicious and healthful kabobs on the stovetop, using a cast iron pan to char the meat. A hot cast iron pan yields all of the smoky flavor of a grill—and a lot more.


Cast iron vessels have been used for two thousand years. The first known use was during the Han Dynasty in China, 206– 220 C.E.

Cast iron cookware was prized for its durability and ability to retain heat—a challenge when cooking in a hearth or an even iffier open fire (the kitchen stove was not created until the mid-19th century).

The original cast-iron vessels were cauldrons and pots. The flat cast iron skillet as we know it appeared in the late 19th century.

While cast iron cookware was popular among home cooks during the first half of the 20th century—along with affordable aluminum and expensive copper—the second half led to stainless steel, less durable and flexible but more attractive.

Even more attractive and less durable was the pricier enamel-coated cast iron, like Le Creuset (the enamel coating will chip if dropped and can’t be repaired).

Nonstick, easy to clean Teflon-coated cookware became the choice of housewives beginning in the late 1960s, although cast iron, copper and stainless continued to be used in professional kitchens.

Here’s a longer history of cookware, which began with animal hides in prehistoric times.

And they’ll endure forever. Ours was purchased by our grandmother in the 1920s! Today, a 15-inch cast iron skillet, large enough for steaks and chops, is $40.

Cast iron skillets are available from the petite (6 inches in diameter) to the jumbo (17 inches). Lodge, a top producer of cast-iron cookware, sells them in one-inch increments (6, 7, 8, 9, etc). Lodge-brand pans, our favorites, are pre-seasoned and ready-to-use, eliminating the main objection to buying cast iron.

In addition to a lifetime of service for an affordable buy-in, cast iron:

Skillet Cookbook

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

Top: A cast iron skillet is the beginning of a cooking odyssey. Three cookbooks from Lodge are also a good start. Bottom: A 15-inch cast iron skillet from Lodge Manufacturing in Tennessee. A line with beautiful craftsmanship, it is the only cast iron cookware manufacturer still in the U.S.

  • Delivers the best heat distribution, which is why it’s the choice of professional chefs. The ability of cast iron to withstand and maintain very high cooking temperatures makes it best for searing or frying. Using cast iron ensures that there’s no “hot spot” on the pan, when some of the food cooks faster, overcooking or burning it before the rest of the contents are ready.
  • Versatility: Excellent heat retention makes cast iron preferable for braises, stews and other long-cooking, as well as quick-cooking dishes like eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. Before there was bakeware, cast iron skillets were used to make breads, cakes, cobblers, pies, and so forth.
  • Is a “grill” for apartment dwellers, providing char, smoky flavor and a perfect crust on fish and meat.
  • Is nonstick after seasoning. Seasoning must be done before first using the cookware, to create a nonstick surface and prevent rust. It is the process of covering the cooking surface with vegetable oil and baking it at 250°F for 90 minutes. When the pan cools down, the oil is wiped off. After each use, the pan is not washed, but wiped. While this is very easy to do, the concept is foreign to many modern cooks, who therefore avoid cast iron.
  • Can be heated beyond 500°F, the limit of stainless steel. Campfire temperatures average 1,571°F.
  • Provides great performance at a low price for a long time. You can cook anything in it, and it goes from stovetop to oven. If a minuscule amount of iron leaches into your food, that’s a good thing—like taking an iron supplement.

    Chicken Yogurt Kabobs Recipe

    Spring Red Onions

    Top: Healthful and delicious: yogurt-marinated chicken kabobs with charred vegetables. Bottom: Spring red onions. Spring onions are immature onions, harvested early. If left in the ground, these would grow into conventional red onions. You are more likely to find white spring onions, but Good Eggs specializes in fine produce. Photos courtesy GoodEggs.



    Feast on tender chicken and charred vegetables. Prep time is just 20 minutes, and you can marinate the chicken overnight. This dish pairs well with a side of grains—ideally whole grains (barley, brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, etc.), but is fine with good old, less nutritious white rice.
    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

    For The Chicken & Marinade

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2” cubes
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Optional: pinch cayenne or other heat
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Bamboo skewers*
    For The Charred Vegetables

    Three of the four vegetables here are spring vegetables. You can substitute any veggies you like.

  • 1 bunch spring onions†, roots and outer layer pared away
  • 1 bunch carrots, peeled and (if larger) halved
  • 1 pound whole fava beans, rinsed
  • ¼ pounds ramps (wild leeks), greens intact but roots pared away
    *If you don’t have skewers, you can cook the chicken pieces without them.

    †Spring onions are not the same as green onions (a.k.a. scallions). Spring onions are immature onions, harvested early in the season. They are milder than regular onions. You can substitute sweet onions or shallots.(



    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Place the bamboo skewers in a large bowl of water and soak for 5 minutes. (Or cook the chicken without skewers. It will taste the same, but skewers are a more special presentation.) Mix the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, add the chicken and toss to combine.

    2. THREAD five cubes onto each skewer. You can do this in advance and store the prepped kebabs in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

    3. HEAT a large cast-iron skillet, then add enough two tablespoons of olive oil, or as much as you need browning. Brown the chicken on all sides, about 2 minutes per side; then place the entire pan into the oven. Bake for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F. Remove the kebabs from the skillet and set aside.

    4. HEAT a second large pan (or wipe the first pan clean), adding the olive oil when the pan is very hot. Add the vegetables in one layer without crowding (cook in two batches if necessary). Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. When the vegetables are a bit tender, very browned and (hopefully) a bit charred, remove them from the pan. Dress with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, and serve alongside the kabobs.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Authentic Mexican Recipes For Cinco De Mayo

    Mexican Ceviche

    Chicken Fajitas

    TOP: Ceviche Acapulqueno, from the Pacific Coast of Mexico (photo courtesy BOTTOM: Tex-Mex foods like fajitas are not authentic Mexican (photo courtesy Wild Oats), but Tex-Mex cuisine that originated in Texas.


    Chef Johnny Gnall’s mother is from Mexico, so he grew up eating the real deal: authentic Mexican cuisine. So today’s tip is: Cook something authentic for Cinco de Mayo.

    It’s easy to default to Tex-Mex favorites: most “Mexican” food North of the Rio Grande is Tex-Mex, a cuisine developed by Mexicans who moved to Texas (Tejanos). For example, beef, cheese-stuffed burritos and wheat [white] flour are not common in Mexico. You won’t find chili con carne there; or chimichangas, for that matter.

    Queso dips and fajitas were born in the U.S.A. Nachos were invented in 1943 on the Mexican side of the border, as a spur-of-the-moment solution to feed a group of Army wives from Texas who stopped at a restaurant when the kitchen was closed.

    Anything with beef, black beans, Cheddar or other yellow cheese, cumin, wheat flour, black beans, and canned tomatoes are Tex-Mex, a term that first appeared in print in the 1940s. Tex-Mex was developed by Tejano restaurateurs using local ingredients to appeal to gringos (there’s plenty of beef in Texas). The fusion cuisine began to expand nationwide when food writers “discovered” it in the 1970s.

    While cooking Mexican cuisine is often a multi-step process, there are some simple yet authentic dishes you can make. Also note: There is no single “Mexican cuisine.” As it is everywhere, different regions of any country have different specialties, based on local ingredients.



    Ceviche can be found throughout Mexico (and the rest of Central and South America). Its origins lie along the country’s coastlines, where fresh fish was a staple. Recipes vary according to the local catch.

    This recipe is a popular Pacific Coast ceviche. The distinguishing characteristic of Pacific ceviches is the use of tomato juice and, often, pickled chilies in the recipe. Eastern ceviches, from Mexico’s Gulf Coast, are less complex, using fresh chilies and foregoing the tomato juice.

    You can serve ceviche as an appetizer, as a light entrée (especially at lunch), or a snack. Chef Johnny’s mother eats a big bowl for breakfast when vacationing in Acapulco.

    Always buy the freshest fish you can find for ceviche.

    Ingredients For 4 One-Cup Servings

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless fish fillets, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican* oregano
  • Optional: 1 bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and minced
  • 20 green Manzanilla olives, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Optional garnish: sliced avocado
  • Optional: tortilla chips
    *Mexican oregano is a different herb than Mediterranean/European oregano. It is in a different botanical family and has different flavor notes. Mediterranean oregano is sweeter, with anise notes. Mexican oregano is grassy, with citrus notes. That being said, you can substitute Mediterranean oregano; just use a little less of it. You can also substitute dried marjoram, which comes from the same botanical family as Mexican oregano and also has citrus notes. Dried lemon verbena is another option.


    1. PLACE the fish in a non-reactive mixing bowl and cover it with the lime juice. Let the fish marinate for 3 hours. (This part of the process is curing—essentially, cooking—the fish).

    2. ADD to the bowl: the onion, tomato, orange juice, half a cup of the tomato juice, 1 tablespoon of minced serranos, a few tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch or two of dried oregano, bay leaf, olives, cilantro, and a pinch of salt. Cover the bowl and let everything marinate overnight. The next day…

    3. TASTE and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Garnish with avocado and serve with tortillas chips.



    The Mexican state of Veracruz on the Gulf Coast is known for its fine cuisine. While recipes can be quite elaborate, this one is quick and easy.

    This dish was adapted from a Spanish dish called Frita that uses chicken, not fish. The Veracruzeños substituted fish and also added the spicy chilies, as is typical when “Mexicanizing” a dish.


  • Snapper fillets (substitute tilapia or other white fish)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 limes
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2-3 pickled jalapeños
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced green olives (pimiento-stuffed is fine)
  • Garnish: avocado or lime slices
    Serve With:

  • White rice

    Mexican Tilapia Recipe

    Tilapia Veracruz Style (photo courtesy


    1. SEASON the filets by rubbing salt, pepper, and lime into the flesh; let sit fit for 15 minutes. The goal here is not to fully cook the fish as in ceviche, but rather to infuse it with a bit of flavor. While the fish is sitting…

    2. CHOP half a white onion, the garlic, bell pepper, pickled jalapeños and tomatoes. Sweat the onion, garlic, and peppers in a pot until soft; then add the tomatoes with as much of their liquid as possible. Add the olives, bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes.

    3. ADD the fish to a pot, covering the filets as best you can with the sauce. Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the fish is done. Garnish and serve.



    TIP: Asian Dumplings & Italian Ravioli, The Difference

    While the historical record is scant, it is believed that the pasta Marco Polo brought back from China in 1295 was pillow pasta: stuffed and crimped sheets of pasta dough, a.k.a. dumplings.

    And a.k.a. ravioli, too. The difference is largely local ingredients.

    Noodles (spaghetti or other “long cut” pasta) had been introduced to the West centuries* before Marco Polo.

    Arab traders brought the long noodles back home over the Silk Road, and then to Sicily during the Arab invasions of the 8th century.

    In addition to being an everyday food, dried pasta was a boon for travelers, including soldiers. It was lightweight and required only boiling water to turn it into a hot meal. As in Asia, pasta was also added to soups.

    In Italy, Chinese dumplings evolved into agnolotti, cannelloni, mezzalune (crescents), ravioli (plus the smaller raviolini and larger ravioloni), sacchette (beggar’s purses) and tortellini.

    Instead Asian sauces made from soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, rice wine and/or hot sauce, among other ingredients, Italian pasta was accented with sauces made from local ingredients: cream, olive oil, Parmesan and tomatoes.
    Pillow Pasta/Stuffed Pasta

    Pillow pasta is stuffed pasta (pasta ripiena in Italian), but not all stuffed pasta is pillow pasta. In addition to the stuffed “pillows,” the other stuffed category includes large tubes and other shapes that are stuffed and baked, like cannelloni and jumbo shells. Other tube pasta, such as penne, rigatoni and ziti, are too small to be stuffed.

    Pillow pasta can be stuffed with almost any kind of filling, either a single seasoned ingredient or combinations of different meats, cheeses, vegetables, seafood and herbs.

    Here’s a brief history of pasta.


    This recipe, from Chef Eric B LeVine could be ravioli. But because of the dough used (wonton wrappers) and the Asian ingredients—soy sauce, fresh ginger, lime, scallions—it could be a dumpling.

    But wait: There’s also basil and Parmesan cheese, two Italian specialties.

    This recipe, a fusion of Asian and Italian, illustrates how close Italian and Chinese (and other Asian) pastas can be; and not just in stuffed pasta, but in long cuts as well (mai fun = angel hair, chow fun = pappardelle, etc.).

    Check out Chef Eric’s book, Small Bites, Big Flavor.

  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 32 wonton wrappers

    1. MAKE the dipping sauce: Combine the lime zest, juice, honey, soy sauce, canola oil, sesame oil and pepper flakes. Whisk or shake well to combine and set aside.

    2. WHISK together the Parmesan, basil, ginger, garlic, scallions, nutmeg and egg in a large bowl. Add the pork and mix very gently with your finger tips until just blended. Place the pork mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm.

    3. MAKE the dumplings, one at a time. Brush the flour side of the wrapper with water. Place a heaping tablespoon of the pork mixture in the center of the wrapper. Place another wrapper on top and press the edges together to seal. Use a pastry cutter† or ravioli stamp otherwise trim the edges with a zigzag pastry wheel. Repeat with the remaining filling and wraps.

    4. COOK: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and cook the ravioli for 6 minutes.


    Ravioli With Cherry Tomatoes

    Edamame Ravioli

    Pork Ravioli Recipe

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/tortellini mezzaluna eatalychicago 230 1

    Chinese Potsticker Dumplings

    Top: classic ravioli (photo courtesy Delfino Restaurant). Second: round ravioli (photo courtesy Ristorante Morini. Third: The recipe below: Pork-Ginger Ravioli…or are they dumplings? (photo courtesy Chef Eric LeVine. Fourth: Italian mezzalune pasta (half moons or crescents) plus tortellini. Photo courtesy Eataly Chicago). Bottom: Chinese potstickers (photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd).


    *The oldest written reference to noodles is in a Chinese dictionary from the third century C.E. However, these noodles were not made from what we know as noodle dough, but from bread dough. The dough was shaped into little bits and cooked in a wok of boiling water. Called mian pian, they are still eaten in China. [Source]

    †If you need to buy a pastry cutter, consider the double-wheel type that cuts both straight and zigzag edges.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Spring Rolls

    Spring Rolls

    Vietnamese Summer Rolls

    Shrimp Summer Rolls

    Fried Spring Rolls

    Top: Vegetarian spring rolls with shredded daikon, carrots, cucumber trips and peanuts (photo IST). Second: Vietnamese Summer Rolls (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers). Third photo: Shrimp spring rolls (photo courtesy Three Ladies Rice Paper). Bottom: Chinese-style fried spring rolls (photo courtesy Davios | Boston).


    Spring rolls are one of our favorite appetizers at Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. Even if we buy them at the take-out sushi counter at Whole Foods, they’re still $6 for two vegetarian rolls.

    So why don’t we make them at home?

    Yesterday, a lazy Sunday, we held a Spring Roll Brunch in our home, along with wine pairings.

    You can create a do-it-yourself spring roll buffet, but given the crowd, we enlisted one dexterous friend to help us with the wrap-and-roll.

    That said, they are easy to make and have a very high prep time:delicious factor.

    So first: What’s a spring roll?

    Identifying spring rolls can be confusing, and here’s why:

    While some countries, including China, make fried spring rolls, Thailand and Vietnam use the oncooked wrapper.

    The term “spring roll” is not synonymous with “egg roll,” which is always fried. An egg roll has a heavier pastry wrapper that can be sliced into sections; a fried spring roll is very fragile and can shatter like phyllo.

  • Egg rolls are deep fried; the wrappers are thicker, making egg rolls more of a filled pastry (most are vegetable, egg and/or meat or seafood filling). Spring roll wrappers are thinner, the shape is narrower and when fried the rolls are more finger-like. If you want to make egg rolls, here’s how.
  • Spring rolls are an Asian appetizer, eaten either Vietnamese-style, in an uncooked* rice noodle wrapper, or fried Chinese-style. They are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival in China, hence the name; but also are popular in Cambodia and Indonesia.
  • Vietnamese and Thai spring rolls use rice paper wrappers, which can be found in Asian markets. The dry hard wrappers are moistened into pliancy and translucency, and filled with seafood; red lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves; fresh mint, basil and cilantro leaves and shredded carrot. They are served with a chili dipping sauce.
  • Summer rolls are made in the style of spring rolls, but with more seasonal ingredients. They are not fried.

    Vietnamese spring and summer rolls are like eating a fresh salad roll, more complex in flavor (thanks to the fresh herbs) than fried Chinese spring rolls. They are served with a spicy dipping sauce known as nuoc cham, of which there are many variations.
    Spring rolls and summer rolls are made from a rice wrapper: tapioca starch, rice flour, salt and water. They are gluten-free and vegan. Egg roll skins are made from wheat flour and egg.

    The ingredients show through the translucent wrapper and create lovely eye appeal. You can roll anything in the soft rice flour wrappers—the stiff rice wrapper becomes soft after dipping in water. You can find the rice flour wrappers at Asian markets or the Asian products section of a good supermarket.
    Customize Your Spring & Summer Rolls

    Vietnamese spring rolls generally contain seafood such as cooked shrimp, accompanied by any combination of rice sticks, carrot, cucumber, daikon, shiitake mushrooms and fresh, leafy herbs: basil, cilantro and mint. Iceberg lettuce or green cabbage can be added for crunch.

    We also like adding toasted chopped peanuts (salty or honey-roasted) to half the batch, to our rolls.

    How did spring rolls get their name?

    Originally, they were special snacks served to visitors with tea at the Chinese New Year, which is the beginning of lunar spring.

    Both spring rolls and egg rolls date back to ancient China, and both are traditionally served with hot Chinese mustard or a dipping sauce.
    *Vietnamese spring rolls, or cha gio, are not fried—although some Vietnamese and Thai restaurants in the U.S. have taken to serving Chinese-style spring rolls as well, catering to the American taste for fried food.



    Ingredients For 4 Rolls

  • 4 spring roll skins
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado†, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 chicken breast (4 ounces), pre-grilled or baked and sliced thin
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup soy ginger sauce, peanut sauce or other dipping sauce (recipe below)

    1. SEED, peel and slice the avocado.

    2. SOFTEN the spring roll skin in cold water for 5 seconds then place flat on cutting board. Place the sliced avocado and chicken breast, romaine and shredded carrots in the center of the spring roll skin. Gently fold over one side of the spring roll skin, fold in the edges and gently roll to the other end of the spring roll skin as though you are wrapping a burrito.

    3. SERVE on platter and serve with dipping sauce.



  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar‡
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce, nam pla (you can substitute soy sauce**)
  • 1 garlic clove minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed chilies (you can use red pepper flakes)


    Rice Spring Roll Wrappers

    Top: Avocado Spring rolls (photo courtesy Chiquita Brand). Bottom: Spring roll wrappers, made from rice flour (photo courtesy Rose Brands).


    1. HEAT the vinegar, water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and chilies.

    2. COOL and serve, or else refrigerate.


    †Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

    ‡Depending on your personal palate, you can reverse the quantities of rice vinegar and lime juice. One good-size lime will yield 1/2 cup of juice.

    **Soy sauce will obviously taste different from fish sauce, but it still works as an Asian dipping sauce.



    RECIPE: Chickpea Salad

    You can round out the Moroccan Chicken recipe we just published with a green salad, and you can also add another cold salad.

    We’re not sure how this Chickpea Salad recipe came to us. Easy and tasty, it’s from Meaghann McGoun of Love With Food. Thanks, Meghann.

    We especially like this as a spring and summer side with anything Mediterranean-inspired, including simple grilled proteins. Chickpeas themselves, which are seeds of the plant, are also high in protein.

    The recipe can be made a day in advance. Prep time is 30 minutes.

    You can add more veggies to the salad: carrot and, celery, for starters.
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 cans chickpeas (15 ounces each)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion (better for the color) or 1 bunch green onions (scallions)
  • 1 bell pepper (color of choice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • Optional: fresh jalapeño chile
    For The Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon sugar (we omit it)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. DRAIN and rinse the chickpeas.

    2. CHOP the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and pepper to bite-sized pieces. Finely chop the jalapeño and cilantro. Combine the chickpeas and vegetables in a large bowl.

    3. WHISK together the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and and cilantro. Add to the bowl and mix until the salad is coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to blend.

    The Oxford English Dictionary lists a 1548 print reference to chickpeas (“Cicer may be named in English Cich, or ciche pease, after the Frenche tongue.” But the bean has been eaten since long before recorded history.


    Chickpea Salad Recipe

    Dried Chickpeas

    Fresh Chickpeas

    Top: A nutritious and toothsome Chickpea Salad (photo courtesy Meaghann McGoun | Center: Dried chickpeas from Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans. Bottom: Fresh chickpeas from

    Chickpeas were among the first crops cultivated by man, known as the eight founder crops of the Fertile Crescent. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes: 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.

    (Cicer arietinum) is a legume of the family Fabaceae family, known variously as the legume, pea, or bean family. You may have seen some of its other names: ceci or cece (Italian), chana or Kabuli chana (Northern India), Egyptian pea, garbanzo or garbanzo bean (Spanish), gram or Bengal gram (British India).
    The Evolution Of The Name

    The word chickpea in English came from the French chich, found in print in English in 1388. “Chick-pea” is found in print in the mid-18th century.

    The name evolved from traces through the French chiche to cicer, Latin for chickpea. Fun fact: The Roman cognomen Cicero came from cicer. Yes, the great orator Roman Marcus Tullius Cicero—also a consul, constitutionalist, lawyer, philosopher, political theorist and politician—was a member of the Chickpea family.

    More seriously, a cognomen was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome—the hereditary name that we call a surname, which passed from father to children. The second name—the family name or clan name—identified a particular branch within a family, or family within a clan.

    Peas and beans are both legumes and seeds, both members of the Fabaceae botanical family. Chickpea, also called garbanzo bean, is actually a bean. Some key differences:

  • Pea plants (genus/species Pisum sativum) have hollow stems. Beans (genus/species Cicer arietinum) have solid stems.
  • Peas have leaf tendrils which they use to twine. In general, beans lack tendrils.
  • The taller varieties both peas and beans need trellises to support them as they grow. Most beans just twine themselves over their supports while peas use their tendrils to climb. At each node along their stems, they generate two or three one-inch-long tendrils, which grab and then wind themselves around something a narrow trellis.
    Read the full article on



    TIP OF THE DAY: Moros y Cristianos, Cuban Rice & Beans

    Disclaimer: This is a traditional recipe based on a historical event. It is not a commentary on any religion or ethnicity.

    Why the disclaimer? The recipe is Moros y Cristianos, a dish commemorating the Islamic Conquest of Spain by Moors in the early 8th century, the ongoing wars between the two sides and the subsequent Reconquista by Spanish Christians in the 15th century.

    Moros y Cristianos means “Moors and Christians” and refers to the popular white rice and black beans dish of Cuba. It was inspired by historic events that are commemorated annually with battle re-enactments across the southern coast of Spain.

    Platillo Moros y Cristianos is a staple served at virtually every Cuban restaurant and home. It is the Cuban version of the rice and beans dishes that are consumed throughout the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, and in the southern United States. It can be simply called arroz moro, moros, moro or congrí.

    The black beans, or Moros, represent the darker-skinned Moors; the rice, Cristianos, represents the lighter-skinned Spaniards. They are simmered together or separately with herbs and vegetables: a sofrito* of bay leaf, bell pepper, garlic, onions and oregano. Bacon can also be added.

    This nicely seasoned side is often served with grilled or roasted meat, poultry and seafood. It’s a good party dish, too: It can be made well in advance and be served at room temperature.

    In the traditionally preparation, the Moros and Cristianos are prepared separately; they don’t meet up until they’re placed side by side on the plate. In the variation called Congrí, the rice and beans are cooked together†.

    These days, many cooks make the rice and beans together Congrí-style, but call it Moros y Cristianos.

    There’s no need to split hairs. Both methods work fine, although Steve Sando, the proprietor of Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans who has cooked bean dishes in every way possible, prefers “the sharper, more distinct flavors the old-fashioned technique delivers.”

    We’ll start with his recipe, and follow with a very quick version from Kraft.

    *Sofrito is the Spanish version of mirepoix, a chopped vegetable mix that is cooked in oil or butter to add flavor to sauces, soups, stews and stocks. Similar flavor bases include the Italian soffritto and the Portuguese refogado. Depending on the country, ingredients can include bell peppers, carrots, celeriac, celery, onions, and seasonings; refogado includes tomatoes. Cajun and Creole cuisines use what is called the “holy trinity”: onions, celery and bell peppers.

    †The beans are first boiled in water; the rice is cooked in another pot with some of the water from the beans. The cooked ingredients are combined with a flavorful sofrito (see footnote above).


    Moros y Cristianos

    Moros y Cristianos

    Moros y Cristianos

    Top photo of Moros y Cristianos courtesy Savoir Faire Los Placeres Del Paladar. Center: Side-by-side Moros y Cristianos from Bottom: A creative side-by-side from


    This traditional recipe from Rancho Gordo adds another layer of flavor from bacon. Visit for an exquisite selection of heirloom beans, spices and dazzling bean recipes.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 4 slices lean bacon, chopped
  • Olive oil, if needed
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder (see note‡)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups cooked black beans in their broth
  • Salt
  • 1½ cups hot cooked white rice
    ‡You can buy New Mexican Red Chile Powder from Rancho Gordo as well as from McCormick. New Mexican Red Chile Powder, also simply called red chile powder, is made from hot red chiles that have been dried and ground. It should not be confused with chili powder, a mixed spice for making chili. If you don’t have red chile powder, substitute cayenne pepper or the milder paprika.


    Moros y Cristianos Recipe

    Easy Moros y Cristianos from Kraft. It saves time by using canned beans. The recipe is below.



    1. GENTLY COOK the bacon in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is cooked through, about 10 minutes. You should have about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. If there is less, add olive oil as needed until you have 2 tablespoons of fat.

    2. ADD the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook gently, stirring occasionally until the bell pepper is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the red chile powder and oregano and stir until incorporated. Add the beans and their broth and stir gently until mixed.

    3. COOK over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust the salt if needed.

    4. TO SERVE: Spoon some of the rice and the beans alongside each other on each individual plate. Serve immediately.



    This quick recipe, from Kraft, uses canned black beans. You can save even more time by using precooked frozen rice.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, total time 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Half-Cup Servings

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, undrained
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper

    1. COOK the bacon, onions and garlic in large skillet on medium-high heat until the bacon is crisp.

    2. STIR in the rice, the beans with their liquid, and the oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil.

    3. REDUCE the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.



    RECIPE: Korean Spaghetti & Meatballs

    Korean Meatballs

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/rice noodles indochine kitchen 230r

    Peacock Rice Spaghetti

    Top: Spicy Korean meatballs from Noodles & Company. Center: Cooked rice noodles from Indochine Kitchen. Bottom: Peacock Brand rice noodles, one of our favorites.


    March 9th is National Meatball Day. Suggestion: Try something different, instead of the very familiar Italian-American pork blend meatballs with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

    How about a Korean interpretation of Meatballs & Spaghetti? The meatballs are flavored with spicy gochujang sauce (pronounced Go-CHOO-jang); the spaghetti is made from gluten-free rice noodles.

    The meatball and sauce recipes are from Executive Chef Nick Graff of Noodles & Company. THE NIBBLE put them together rice noodles to create the Meatballs & Spaghetti. The substitutions are:

  • Korean BBQ sauce instead of tomato sauce
  • Rice noodles instead of wheat noodles
  • Shredded basil or chopped cilantro instead of grated cheese
    Don’t want spicy Korean meatballs? Try this Italian-influenced veal meatball recipe.

    Ingredients For 32 One-Ounce Meatballs

  • Korean BBQ sauce (recipe below)
  • Meatballs (recipe below, or use your favorite recipe)
  • Rice noodles (spaghetti or vermicelli—Peacock Brand rice noodles are available at Amazon, Walmart, Wegmans and retailers nationwide)
  • Garnish: black and white sesame seeds, fresh basil chiffonade or cilantro
    Ingredients For The Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
    Ingredients For The Korean BBQ Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled & minced
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang sauce/paste (or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water

    1. MAKE the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the ground chicken and beef with the eggs, salt and white pepper. Portion and roll into 1 ounce-size balls (the size of golf balls) and place on an oiled sheet pan. Bake for about 20 minutes.

    2. MAKE the BBQ sauce. Place the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, gochujang paste and red chili flakes in a pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile…

    3. WHISK the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl and add to boiling sauce. Stir until thickened. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the heated meatballs and toss to coat completely with the sauce.

    4. COOK the rice noodles according to package directions, while the BBQ sauce is coming to a boil.

    5 COMBINE the spaghetti, meatballs and sauce, garnish and serve.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Gochujang Sauce, The Next Sriracha

    Over the past five years, sriracha, a Thai hot sauce which most of us had never heard of previously, has emerged as the hot sauce of choice. It’s more flavorful than many of the big-brand American hot pepper sauces that had long been the norm.

    But climbing up the ladder is a new (to most Americans) hot sauce alternative: gochujang (go-CHOO-jang). This Korean fermented hot sauce is a mixture of red chili powder, glutinous rice powder, fermented soy beans, salt, other seasonings like garlic and onion, and a bit of sugar syrup or malt. It is then aged.

    As a result, it is even more complex in flavor than sriracha. Some chefs call it “an umami bomb,” combining spicy, salty, sweet and earthy notes.

    Gochujang is a staple Korean condiment also known in English as Korean hot pepper paste. Sweet heat with the consistency of hoisin sauce, it’s used in a wide range of Korean dishes, from bibimbap to dukbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) to tteokbokki to something more familiar: fried chicken. And of course, it can be used in American recipes instead of barbecue sauce, ketchup and other condiments.

    It deepen the flavors (and color!) of everything from broth to noodle dishes and vegetables. Incorporate it into a recipe, or serve it as a table condiment so people can add their own.

    A group of 18 recipes from Bon Appetit includes recipes for, among others:

  • Bibimbap
  • Chicken Wings
  • Congee
  • Grilled Sesame Shrimp
  • Hangar Steak
  • Kimchi
  • Pork Ribs and Pork Shoulder
  • Stews, including Sundubu with Clams and Tofu
  • Veggies: Brussels Sprouts and Tofu Stir-Fry, Roasted Winter Squash, Sautéed Cabbage
    When mixed with Korean red miso (doenjang), it creates ssamjang, a condiment for lettuce wraps (ssam) and raw or blanched vegetables.


    Gochujang Sauce

    Gochuchang Sauce

    Korean Fried Chicken

    Top: Gochuchang sauce, also called paste because of its consistency. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it online or make your own. Center: A bowl of gochuchang, served as a condiment. Photo courtesy Bottom: Spicy fried chicken. Here’s the recipe from

    Add some gochujang to mayonnaise as a spread or a dip for crudités or fries. Serve it plain with eggs. Put it on a burger or hot dog. You can blend in fruit for an even more complex sauce.

    Add it to dressings, marinades and sauces to add some spicy flavor. You can make a Korean-style arrabiata sauce for pasta, or pair it with other noodle dishes and rice.

    Although it contains no tomatoes, some Americans think of gochujank as spicy Korean ketchup.

    What are you waiting for? Add it to your shopping list!

    All commercial gochujang is imported, and some labels are only in Korean.

    “The best gochujang” is a matter of personal taste. You may like more sweetness, we may like less. That said, if you’re in an Asian market with multiple options, you could ask a clerk to explain the differences.

    If you pursue a close relationship with gochuchang, you may discover different styles, including chalgochujang (sweet rice gochujang) and taeyangcho (sundried, i.e. the paste is actually dried under the sun).

    However, as with ketchup, mustard, soy sauce and other condiments, you won’t find a disappointing one.



    RECIPE: Eggplant & Tomatoes With Indian Seasonings

    Eggplant and tomato dishes have found their way into world cuisines: ratatouille and tian in France; caponata from Sicily; Middle Eastern eggplant, tomato and chickpea casserole; among so many others.

    In this recipe, Maya Kaimal, the doyenne of fine prepared Indian foods in the U.S., adds layers of flavor with Indian spices. Slices of fried eggplant are folded into a spicy tomato sauce. Use a nonstick skillet to minimize the amount of oil needed for frying.

    You don’t have to wait until tomato season to enjoy this recipe. You can use canned tomatoes, and fresh in the summer. (We use diced canned San Marzano tomatoes in the off season.)

    Find more of Maya’s authentic recipes at


    Use a heart-healthy oil (coconut oil, olive oil, Malaysian palm oil) and this is a “good for you” way to eat your veggies. Prep time is 40 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 thin Japanese* eggplants cut into ¼-inch rounds (about 4 cups)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • ¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, drained
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water as needed
    For The Spice Mixture

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ____________________
    *You can substitute a standard Italian eggplant, cut into ¾-inch chunks.

    1. HEAT 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add enough eggplant to cover the pan in a single layer. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, adding more oil as needed for each batch to prevent sticking.


    Eggplant & Tomato Recipe

    Brown Mustard Seeds

    Fennel Seeds

    Top: Eggplant in a spicy tomato sauce. Photo courtesy Maya Kaimal. Center: Brown mustard seeds from Maille. Bottom: Fennel seeds from

    2. WIPE the pan clean. Over medium-high heat, heat the mustard and fennel seeds in 1 tablespoon oil until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the tomatoes, ginger, garlic, salt and spice mixture. Continue frying over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes turn orange and pieces break down to form a soft paste, about 5 minutes.

    3. ADD the reserved eggplant and stir very gently to combine with the tomato mixture. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the eggplant is cooked through, adding water in small amounts if the mixture becomes too dry. Taste and add salt as desired.



    FOOD HOLIDAY: International Pancake Day

    Scallion Pancakes

    Scallion Pancakes

    Monte Cristo Pancakes

    Top: American-style scallion pancakes. Photo and recipe by Joelen Tan for Krusteaz. Middle: Chinese-style scallion pancakes from Zesty South Indiana Kitchen. Here’s the recipe. Bottom: Monte Cristo Pancakes, like the sandwich but with pancakes instead of bread. Photo courtesy


    International Pancake Day is held each year on Shrove Tuesday, also called Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras (which is French for Fat Tuesday) and in the U.K., Pancake Day. The date changes each year according to the date of Easter Sunday, and can vary from February 3rd to March 9th.

    Shrove Tuesday is the last day of feasting before Lent begins, on Ash Wednesday. It is observed mainly in English speaking countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. But it is also observed elsewhere.

    Each country has its own customary food.

  • In Spain it’s an omelet (tortilla) made with sausage or pork fat.
  • In Lithuania, Poland and Portugal, it’s doughnuts (fried dough pastry), a custom brought to Hawaii by Portuguese laborers in the late 1800s.
  • Pastry or sweet buns are consumed in Estonia, Finland and Sweden.
  • In the U.K., Canada and Australia, the custom is eating a meal of pancakes.
    Why pancakes?

    They’re a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. (The same applies to doughnuts and other pastry). The Lenten fast emphasizes eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure. In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy or eggs.

    Your Pancake Day celebration does not have to include conventional pancakes with a sweet syrup. Here are ideas for the savory palate.


    This recipe adds garlic powder and sliced scallions to regular pancake batter (or use a conventional Chinese Scallion Pancakes recipe).

    Serve them alongside steak and eggs or simply top with butter. Can you serve them with bacon and sausage? Absolutely!

    This recipe was developed by Joelen Tan for Krusteaz, who used its Buttermilk Pancake Mix. Prep time is 5 minutes, total time is 10-12 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4-8 Pancakes

  • 1 cup buttermilk pancake mix
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions or green onions


    1. HEAT a pancake griddle or skillet over medium heat and grease lightly. Whisk together pancake mix, water, garlic powder and scallions until combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy; do not overmix.

    2. POUR 1/4 cup of batter onto the preheated griddle and cook pancakes for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
    We enjoyed ours served with Korean beef bulgogi and a fried egg, adding an Asian twist to American steak and eggs.

  • Bacon, Corn & Cheese Pancakes recipe
  • Bacon Potato Pancakes With Corn Salsa recipe
  • Monte Cristo Pancakes, with ham and cheese recipe
  • Potato Chips & Beer Pancakes recipe
  • Potato Pancakes (Latkes) recipe
    *Shrove is a form of shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and penance. It was/is customary for Christians to be “shriven” before the start of Lent.



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