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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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

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

Archive for NutriNibbles/Organic

TIP OF THE DAY: Cauliflower Mac & Cheese


Forget the pasta: This “mac and cheese”
substitutes better-for-you cauliflower. Photo
courtesy Castello.


Chef Michael Symon has a solution for mac and cheese lovers who want to cut back on the pasta: Substitute cauliflower for the pasta.

For some time now, cauliflower “mashed potatoes” have been a favorite substitute for mashed potatoes: lower in calories, higher in nutrition.

In this recipe, Chef Symon does a vegetable-for-starch switch with macaroni.

His recipe has the creamy cheesiness of mac and cheese (Chef Symon uses used Castello Creamy Havarti), the crunchiness of the bread crumbs, extra cruciferous* vegetables in your diet and and delicious comfort food with reduced calories.

Make it tonight!


Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup mascarpone (if you cannot find it, cream cheese will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup havarti
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs


    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the florets to the water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler to high. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a 2-quart Dutch oven† over medium heat. Add the cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce to the pot and bring it to simmer. (Chef Symon used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, but adjust the seasonings to your liking.) Reduce the cream by 1/3, about 3 minutes.

    3. WHISK in the mascarpone and havarti and stir to incorporate. When the cheese is melted and incorporated, keep the sauce at a simmer. The sauce will be slightly thickened at this point.



    Turn it into “mac and cheese.” Photo courtesy


    4. ADD the cauliflower and chives, stirring well to coat the cauliflower. Pour into an ovenproof dish; then top with the bread crumbs, sprinkling them in an even layer. Place the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the broiler and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the cruciferous family from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” Their flowers consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!

    †Also called a French oven, a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron. In France it is called a cocotte, the French word for casserole.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Hummus Salad


    Use hummus as the base of a salad. Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen | NYC.


    Last month we featured 20 different ways to use hummus. But we left off at least one: this hummus salad.

    This appetizer concept, by Executive Chef Joe Isidori of Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City, piles crunchy veggies atop a base of hummus, served with a side of pita wedges.

    First, consider the hummus. Chef Isidori makes his own, but if you’re buying yours, check out the myriad of flavored hummus—everything from roasted garlic to spicy chipotle.

    Cut up your “salad”—beets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, olives, pickled vegetables (Chef Isidori used pickle onions, we used dilly beans), radishes, etc.—and toss it lightly in a vinaigrette. You can top the hummus with romaine or other crunchy lettuce before adding the other vegetables.

    For a final flourish, top with minced fresh herbs and some optional feta cheese, and serve with toasted pita chips.

    You can easily turn this into a light lunch or vegan dinner, and feel good that you’re eating healthfully, sustainably and tastily.

    We’ve also got 20+ ways to make a hummus sandwich.


    There’s no need to buy bottled vinaigrette. Just open a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of vineagar—two kitchen staples—measure them in a ratio of 3:1 and whisk vigorously.

    Start with 3 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a pinch of dry mustard. The latter helps the emulsion stay together and contributes a wee bit o flavor.

    The magic comes when you use different oils—flavored oils, nut oils—and vinegars; substitute lemon or lime juice for some or all of the vinegar; and add other flavor dimensions such as condiments (chopped olives, mustard, relish), heat, herbs and sweetness (honey, maple syrup).

    Here’s our master article on how to create great vinaigrette.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The New “Dirty Dozen”

    The “dirty dozen” of produce refers to those fruits and vegetables that have the most pesticide residues. If you’re going to buy organic versus conventional produce, these are the foods to buy.

    Since agricultural practices change, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates an annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides to reduce your exposure to chemical pesticides.

    It ranks 48 popular fruits and vegetables by their pesticide loads. The rankings are based on lab tests done [mostly] by the USDA, which tests more than 34,000 samples of common food crops for pesticide residue.

    Rinsing and peeling conventional produce does not remove all of the chemical residue. Some plants absorb pesticides through the peel.

    Nor does washing and peeling change a food’s ranking, because the USDA lab tests produce as it is typically eaten: washed and, when applicable, peeled.

    But the EWG underscores that the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks from pesticide exposure. In other words, eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating enough fruits and vegetables at all.

    Crops differ in their hardiness—whether they’re more or less susceptible to intense heat, cold, rainfall, drought, fungus or other disease, etc.



    An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it also has the highest amount of pesticide residue. The solution: Buy organic! Photo courtesy US Apples.

    In the case of bugs, some crops are more readily attacked and destroyed by the hungry little critters. So chemical pesticides are used to kill the bugs, fungus, etc. before they kill the crop.

    Organic farmers use natural pesticides and fertilizers—no chemicals. The expense of growing crops this way leads to the higher cost of organic produce.

    Some shocking statistics:

  • The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 diffent pesticides.
  • A whopping 99% of apple samples, 98% of peaches and 97% of nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide.
  • Single samples of cherry tomatoes, nectarines, peaches, imported snap peas and strawberries each showed 13 different pesticides.


    Eat all the asparagus you like: They’re one of the most pesticide-free veggies. Photo courtesy California Asparagus Commission.



    Ranked from highest (dirtiest) to lowest (cleanest of the Dirty Dozen) are some of our favorite fruits and vegetables:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Imported Snap Peas
  • Potatoes

    We’ve been buying organic celery for years (it’s been on the Dirty Dozen list for a long time). But we’re going to go our of our way for organic apples and strawberries, two fruits we eat almost daily.

    We’ll also buy more of the Clean Fifteen, produce with the least amount of pesticide residue.

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Frozen Sweet Peas
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes
    As an American consumer, the choice is yours!


    TIP OF THE DAY: Go Nuts With Non-Chocolate Easter Treats


    Fill an Easter basket with all six flavors.
    Photo courtesy Ricky’s Lucky Nuts.


    It’s hard to believe, but not everyone likes chocolate. Our friend Maria, for example would rather have something salty, or a combination of sweet and salty.

    So she, and other salt fans, are getting salted nut treats in their Easter baskets.


    We don’t know why they’re lucky, but they sure taste good! One of the co-founders is a chef and restaurateur who knows how to please palates.

    Ricky’s, of Durango, Colorado, takes non-GMO jumbo runner peanuts from Texas and turns them into distinctively flavored, all-natural treats. Flavors include:

  • Black Pepper & Sea Salt
  • Real Coffee
  • Spicy Chile Chipotle
  • Sweet & Smoky BBQ
  • Sweet Chai
  • Thai Red Curry
    Even the sweet flavors have enough balance to please the yen for savory.

    The packages, in a rainbow of different colors, deliver 7 grams of protein per ounce and a host of vitamins and minerals from this nutrient-dense food. Take that, chocolate bunny!

    Fill an Easter basket with one or more packages of each flavor. Get them at

    Beyond snacking from the pack from the pack, toss them into salads (green and grain), mix them into cooked rice, add them to stir-frys and create ice cream sundaes (or toss them on a plain scoop). Yum!



    Planters is known for salty nuts, sweet nuts and spicy nuts. Add to that tart nuts!

    Two zesty new flavors deliver a pleasing pucker to persnickity palates.

  • Planters Sea Salt & Vinegar Peanuts look like regular peanuts; but oh, what a nice punch of vinegar!
  • Planters Chili Lime Peanuts have a red-orange tint from the chili powder, which adds moderate heat to natural lime flavor.
    In pastel colors (green for Chili Lime, blue for Sea Salt & Vinegar), they deserve a place in any Easter basket.

    As with Ricky’s, each serving contains seven grams of protein and the other peanut nutrients.

    The flavors are packaged in six-ounce cans with re-sealable tops. You can find them at retailers nationwide.



    One of two delicious new flavors from Planters. Photo courtesy Planters Nuts..




    FOOD FUN: Sashimi Cubes, 21st Century Sashimi Art


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

    What Is Sushi?

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dave’s Killer Bread

    Milwaukie, Oregon, founded in 1847 on the banks of the Willamette River and now a suburb of Portland, is also known as the the birthplace of the Bing cherry. But soon, it may be known as the birthplace of Dave’s Killer Bread.

    Dave’s Killer Bread is “the best bread in the universe,” according to the company website.

    While we might add other favorite breads in the tie for “best,” Dave’s Killer Bread is up there. It’s the #1, best-selling organic bread in the U.S.

    And it is, indeed, killer: all natural, whole grain breads packed with protein, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and great flavor. Whole grain bread has never tasted better.

    The line of organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan whole grain breads began 10 years ago with Blues Bread (with blue cornmeal). You can tell how much the locals love “DKB”: That original loaf has expanded to 14 different killer breads ranging in flavor and texture, plus dinner rolls and a whole grain cinnamon roll. The line now sold nationwide.

    We tried samples of two varieties and are converts. This is the best seeded, whole grain bread we can imagine. We wouldn’t use anything else for sandwiches and toast.



    Photo courtesy Yvonne |




    PowerSeed has 6g protein, 6g fiber and 500 mg omega 3 per slice. And it’s delicious! Photo courtesy Dave’s Killer Bread.


    A Cornucopia Of Delicious, Better-For-You Breads

  • Blues Bread, rolled in organic blue cornmeal, giving it a crunchy crust and sweet flavor. 5g protein, 4g fiber, 340mg omega 3, 130 calories per slice.
  • Good Seed, with the boldest texture and sweetest flavor of the breads. 6g protein, 4g fiber, 670mg omega 3, 130 calories per slice.
  • 100% Whole Wheat, with a smooth texture and a touch of sweetness (try it as French toast). 4g protein, 3g fiber, 90mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • Powerseed, sweetened with organic fruit juices instead of sugar, 6g protein, 6g fiber, 500 mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • Rockin’ Rye, with a seedless crust and soft texture. 6g protein, 4g fiber, 130mg omega 3, 120 calories per slice.
  • Seeded Honey Wheat, with nearly 4 tablespoons of pure organic honey packed into each loaf, the sweet taste and crunchy texture make Seeded Honey Wheat an instant favorite. 5g protein, 5g fiber, 100mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • Spelt, with a smooth texture and an earthy, nutty flavor. 5g protein, 4g fiber, 410mg omega 3, 130 calories per slice.
  • Sprouted Wheat, with bold flavor and crunchy texture. 6g protein, 4g fiber, 840mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • 21 Whole Grains and Seeds, with a hearty texture, subtle sweetness, and a seed-coated crust. 6 protein, 5g fiber, 220mg omega 3, 110 calories per slice.
  • It that’s not enough, there are:

  • Thin Slice Breads, five versions of the most popular loaves, with calories from 60-90 slice (compared to 110-130 for the regular breads).
  • Buns, dinner rolls and hamburger buns.
  • Cinnamon Roll, called Sin Dawg, a whole grain, baguette-shape treat.
    What’s in those breads? Depending on the loaf, you’ll get:

  • Whole grains: barley, blue cornmeal, brown rice, buckwheat, cracked rye, cracked whole wheat, Kamut khorasan wheat, millet, quinoa, rolled oats, rye, spelt, sorghum, triticale, whole wheat flour, yellow cornmeal
  • Seeds: amaranth, black sesame seeds, brown sesame seeds, flaxseeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, unhulled sesame seeds
    Bread lovers: Get up, go out and get some! Here’s a store locator.

    Or, order online.

    Thanks, Dave, for each delicious bite.



    RECIPES: Vegan, Delicious Tempeh


    Make this delicious Asian Noodle Bowl for lunch or dinner. Photo courtesy Lightlife.


    You may have read last week that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its 2015 report. The Committee urges Americans to eat less processed meat and turn to plant-based diets for a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

    Remember Meatless Mondays? If you’re not already observing them, here’s a nudge via a delicious recipe for net Monday. It uses tempeh, a meat substitute made from soybeans.


    Tempeh is a soy-based product that originated in Indonesia, where it is a staple protein. It is made by a natural culturing and a controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty.

    Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. It has a higher content of protein, dietary fiber and vitamins.

    Tempeh has a firm texture and an earthy flavor, and is used worldwide as a meat substitute.



  • Production: Tofu, also known as been curd, is made by curdling fresh, hot soy milk* with a coagulant. Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a mold. Because it is fermented, it is easier to digest than tofu among people with a sensitivity to beans.
  • Format: Tofu is sold in pillowy blocks packed in water, in five different degrees of softnes from silken to extra firm. Tempeh is sold in flat, rectangular pieces, about eight inches long, with a chewy consistency like meat.
  • Color: Tofu is white, smooth and moist. Tempeh is brownish, rough (you can see the whole soybeans ) and dry.
  • Consistency: Tofu is soft, smooth and spongy. Tempeh is firm and chewy.
  • Flavor: Tofu has hardly any flavor; it takes on the taste of other ingredients. Tempeh has a slight earthy/nutty, sweet flavor. You can find versions mixed with brown rice, flax or other grains.
    How Do they Differ From Seitan?

    Seitan is made from wheat gluten. Like tempeh, it is high in protein with a texture similar to meat,

    *Soy milk in turn is made from dried, ground, filtered and boiled soybeans.



    This delicious recipe can be served as a main course or a first course. It makes two main courses or four first courses or wraps.

    The recipe is courtesy of Lightlife, which used its organic soy tempeh.


    For The Sweet & Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
    For The Tempeh Noodles

  • 1 package (8 ounces) soy tempeh
  • 6 ounces thin rice noodles (vermicelli style)
  • 1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil


    Look for tempeh in any natural foods market, including Whole Foods. Photo courtesy Lightlife.

  • 2/3 cup matchstick-cut red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrot, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, thin diagonally sliced
  • 2 large green onions, diagonally sliced
  • Optional garnish: fresh basil leaves chiffonade, cilantro sprig, 1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds


    1. PREPARE sauce; set aside.

    2. PLACE the noodles in large bowl. Pour boiling water over the noodles to cover. Let stand about 10 minutes or until softened. Rinse with cold water; squeeze to drain well.

    3. CUT the noodles in half or thirds; return noodles to the bowl. Add the sesame oil; toss until evenly coated. Set the noodles aside. Meanwhile…

    4. HEAT 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in medium-heavy skillet. Add half of the tempeh in a single layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and crisp, turning the pieces over halfway during cooking. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with another tablespoon of the oil and the remaining tempeh. Pour half of the sauce over the tempeh; toss to coat and set the tempeh aside.

    5. ADD the remaining teaspoon of oil to the hot skillet, along with the bell pepper, carrot, green onions and snow peas. Cook and stir about 1 minute or until crisp-tender. Transfer to the bowl with the noodles. Add the tempeh mixture; gently toss until combined.

    6. SERVE: Spoon the noodle mixture into individual bowls and drizzle with the remaining sauce. Garnish with basil, cilantro or sesame seeds.
    Variation: Asian Noodle Wraps with Seared Tempeh

    Serve the tempeh in lettuce leaf wraps.

    1. PREPARE the noodle mixture as directed above.

    2. SPOON about 1/2 cup of the noodle mixture onto each of 12 large leaf or iceberg lettuce leaves; fold or roll up. Serve with remaining sauce for dipping. Makes about 12 wraps or 4 servings.

    For more delicious tempeh recipes, head to



    TIP OF THE DAY: Unconventional Valentine Treats

    You don’t have to give chocolate or cupcakes on Valentine’s Day. In fact, some people may prefer a less conventional gift. Think outside the [chocolate] box.

    As a smaller gift to bring to pals at the office, we particularly like red berry jam. You can go for a pricey artisan brand, or look for an organic brand like Santa Cruz Organic Seedless Red Raspberry Fruit Spread.

    We love raspberry jam, but not the seeds. So we were very happy to discover Santa Cruz Organic’s Seedless Red Raspberry Fruit Spread. Not only is it seedless, it’s thick and lush with raspberry flavor. As a fruit spread, it’s also lower in sugar than most raspberry jams (and 40 calories per tablespoon). You taste the fruit, not the cloying sugar. (Here’s the difference between fruit spreads, jam, preserves, etc.)

    The fruit spreads are also made in Apricot, Blackberry Pomegranate, Concord Grape, Mango and Strawberry. In addition to being certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO, the line is certified kosher by OU. Look for it at natural food markets or online.




    A quality jar of strawberry or raspberry jam says “Be My Valentine.” Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

    On the savory side, look for something red and spicy. It could be a jar of artisan arrabiata pasta sauce, or something as much fun as sriracha ketchup.

    Lee Kum Kee, maker of terrific soy sauce, has added Sriracha Chili Ketchup to its line. It gives the ketchup lover another dimension of flavor and heat on burgers and fries, and in spreads and dips. We think it’s a great “guy gift.”

    Look for it in the Asian products aisle at your supermarket, at Asian markets or online.
    For a more generous gift, a bottle of red wine is always welcome, or a pink rosé.

    Personally, we’d like a jar of red caviar.



    RECIPE: Crispy Fried Cauliflower (Lashooni Gobi)

    Junoon is one of the most popular Indian restaurants among gourmand New Yorkers. The name, which means passion, interprets Indian cuisine with a modern spin. The space is large and comfortable, unusual for New York City. And the food: Well, it inspires passion.

    While many American home cooks are wary of taking on Indian cuisine without the benefit of a class or an expert friend, here’s one of Junoon’s dishes that’s easy to make. The Indian name is Lahsooni Gobi, but Crispy Fried Cauliflower sounds so much more tempting.

    We love cauliflower in all its forms, plain and fancy. But here, lightly battered and tossed in a tomato garlic sauce, this hearty appetizer or side will make even those who don’t typically crave cauliflower want more.

    No eggs are used in the batter because in India, eggs are not part of a vegetarian diet (this recipe is actually vegan). This recipe is also gluten-free. Chef Vikas Khanna notes, “I use rice flour here, not just for its superior crisping quality but also for people who are gluten sensitive. It’s a warm and homey dish and can easily be adjusted in terms of heat and garlic to suit anyone’s palate.”



    Junoon’s delicious Crispy Fried Cauliflower. Photo courtesy Worleygig.



    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil for frying, plus 2 tablespoons to make the sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup tomato purée
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Two pinches salt
  • Two pinches sugar
  • Two pinches ketjiap spice (recipe below)
  • Garnish: 2 sprigs cilantro


    Turn an everyday cauliflower into something special. Photo courtesy



    1. SPRINKLE 2 teaspoons of sea salt evenly over the cauliflower and let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 350°F: Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

    3. ADD the tomato purée, water, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and ketjiap spice; mix well with a whisk until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary just before serving.

    4. PREPARE the batter by quickly blending the rice flour and water together in a large bowl. Coat the florets in the batter by placing all of the florets in the bowl. Toss gently and then carefully drop the florets into the hot oil. Fry the cauliflower until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    5. BRING the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and then add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir and toss gently to coat the cauliflower with the sauce until well combined. Serve the cauliflower in a bowl garnished with cilantro.



    Ketijap is a traditional Indonesian spice mix used for the many different sauces that are loosely called cat-siop and ketjiap (and other spellings*). A pinch or two livens up soups and sauces. You can keep the spice tightly covered in a cool, dark place for up to two months.

  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon mace flakes†
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, preferably tellicherry
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

    1. LIGHTLY TOAST the whole spices in a small heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat for about one minute.

    2. COOL, then grind to a fine powder with the cinnamon in a spice grinder.
    *Yes, this is the origin of our word catsup/ketchup, although our familiar tomato ketchup was a New World invention. Here’s the history of ketchup.

    †It can be difficult to find mace flakes, also called mace blades, in consumer markets. Use ground mace instead.



    PRODUCT: Plum Vida Fruit & Veggie Pouches


    A delicious and better-for-you snack alternative for adults. Photo courtesy Plum Organics.


    Squeeze tubes of fruits and veggies are not just for kids. While they started out targeted to the junior set, moms and other adults started to enjoy the benefits of the easily portable, wholesome fruit and vegetable snacks.

    So Plum Organics, which had been making products for kids, developed the Plum Vida line for grown-ups. The flavors are more complex and sophisticated, and the portions are larger. The five-ounce pouches can be kept in pockets, purses, lockers, glove compartments, desk drawers—pretty much anywhere.

    Each pouch delivers a light, flavorful, refreshing and healthful snack, made entirely from organic fruits and vegetables with a hint of herbs and spices.

    You can sip it from the pouch or mix it with hot tea or club soda. You can even use it as a sweet salad dressing (we added a splash of good vinegar). We eat it at room temperature, but on a hot summer day, you can chill it in the fridge.

    Plum Vida pouches are available in three delicious flavors:

  • Pear, Kale, Spinach & Celery, a base of leafy greens softened by the natural sweetness of juicy pear.
  • Cherry, Berry, Beet & Ginger, a mix of natural sweetness and tartness with a subtle ginger zing.
  • Pineapple, Carrot & Mint, a burst of tropical flavor with a refreshing minty kick.
    Each pouch delivers:

  • 1/2 cup fruits and veggies in every pouch
  • 3g fiber
  • A snack for 70-90 calories
    The line is certified kosher by OU, certified USDA Organic and Non GMO verified. It is currently sold exclusively at target stores (in the beverage aisle), for $1.99 a pouch.

    And there’s a $1.00 coupon on the Plum Vida website to make your first pouch even sweeter.



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