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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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

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

Archive for Vegan

RECIPE: Tipsy Chestnut Cake ~ A Chestnut Loaf Cake

This wintery cake combines chestnuts and red wine, and has no added fat. Contributing blogger and cookbook author Hannah Kaminsky, who developed the recipe, explains:

“Infused with a generous pour of Cabernet from the start and doused with an additional slug of brown sugar-enriched wine syrup—soaking each nook and cranny with a strong dose of sweet red wine—this cake knows how to party.

“Studded with large pieces of roasted chestnuts, it’s a seasonal treat perfectly for the cold winter months. Though the jubilant days of Christmas and New Year’s feel like a lifetime ago, the current series of snow days are an excellent excuse to batten down the hatches and drown your sorrows—not in a stiff drink, but a strong slice of this tender cake.”

We also recommend it as a gourmet Super Bowl dessert.

 

chestnut-cake-hannah-kaminsky-ps-230

Chestnut loaf cake with no added fat. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky.

 

If you don’t want cake for “happy hour,” enjoy it as a snack at any time of day, or for dessert with a bit of whipped cream. Don’t forget—the cake is fat free.

“Purely by accident,” explains Hannah, “the recipe became much leaner than intended by my inadvertent omission of any added fat. So while this isn’t diet fare, it is a better-for-you cake.

“Happily, the texture doesn’t suffer one bit without the oil. I would have never realized my mistake if not for my recipe notes. I guess it’s obvious that not all of the wine made it into the cake!”

 

roasted-chestnuts_histomil-230

Chestnuts roasted in a specialty chestnut
pan. Photo courtesy Histomil.com.

 

RECIPE: TIPSY CHESTNUT CAKE

Ideally, prepare the cake a day in advance to allow the wine syrup to thoroughly meld with the crumb. Since you need less than 1-1/4 cups wine, you can use up leftover wine—or serve the rest of a new bottle with the cake.

Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder (recipe below)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) very coarsely chopped roasted chestnuts (fresh or canned)
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine (Such as Cabernet
    Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Noir)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Crimson Wine Syrup

  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • Pinch salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F with rack in the center. Lightly grease and flour an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.

    2. WHISK together the flour, sugar, five-spice powder, baking powder and soda and salt in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Add the chopped chestnuts and toss to coat with the flour blend to prevent the pieces from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Set aside.

    3. MIX the wine, applesauce and vanilla in a separate bowl; then add to the wet goods into flour mix. Use a wide spatula to combine, stirring just enough to blend without over-mixing. It’s perfectly fine to have a few lumps remaining.

    4. TRANSFER the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top before sliding the pan into the oven. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until deeply browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. While the cake is baking…

    5. PREPARE the red wine syrup by combining the wine, brown sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. If you’’d like the wine to retain a bit of its alcoholic bite, cook just until the sugar has dissolved. Alternatively, allow it to simmer for 5-10 minutes for the alcohol to boil out.

    6. PREPARE the baked cake while it is still warm by poking it numerous times with a skewer. Go deep to allow the syrup to penetrate far into the crumb. Pour the hot syrup over the cake and let cool completely before removing from the pan. Although the cake tastes best the next day after soaking a bit, it’s quite delicious to slice and serve as soon as it’s cool.

    RECIPE: CHINESE FIVE-SPICE POWDER

    Like adobo, chili powder, curry powder, fines herbes, garam masala, herbes de provence, ras-el-hanout, togarishi, za’atar and other spice blends, ingredients and the proportion of ingredients vary based on the cook or the manufacturer. Some five-spice recipes include anise seed, black or white pepper, cardamom, galangal, ginger, licorice, mandarin peel, nutmeg and turmeric.

    Since five-spice powder is also used in other Asian cuisines and in Middle Eastern cooking, there are regional preferences as well.

    Blend together:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground
  • 1 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
  •  
    Store any extra spice in an airtight jar.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Clementines

    Today’s tip comes from guest blogger Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog. Her recommendation: clementines, a small mandarin. Note that it’s a “mandarin,” not a “mandarin orange”; the two are separate genuses (more about that below). But even Produce Pete calls clementines and mandarins “oranges,” so do what you can to spread the truth.

    “I’m infusing every morsel that crosses my path with a bit of edible sunshine while the real thing plays hard to get,” says Hannah. “Grapefruits, oranges, lemons and limes are always close at hand, spilling out of the refrigerator fruit bin and lining the kitchen counters with a cheerful spray of neon colors. Their natural luminescence does wonders to lift spirits through the most gloomy of days. But it’s truly the bold, bright, astringent flavors that sustain me through winter.

    “This year, I’ve added a newcomer to that lineup: the petite yet powerful clementine. Cuties Clementines [in California’s San Joaquin Valley] were generous enough to ship an entire crate of these glowing orange orbs straight to my door.

    “Not to be overly dramatic, but what a revelation! Gone are the days of meticulously picking at the stringy pith of oranges before the segments become edible. The skin practically falls off of these juicy half-moons, nary a seed in sight.”

     

    Clementines are mandarins, not oranges. “Tangerines” are a made-up term for a mandarin in general—see why below. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Clementines from California are available from November through April. Not only are they naturally sweet and delicious; they’re also seedless, compact, and easy to peel. This makes them perfect for fruit bowls, backpacks, lockers, glove compartments, tote bags and even back pockets.

    You can use clementines anywhere mandarins and oranges are called for, from a breakfast yogurt parfait to sorbet to the clementine tart below.

     

    A clementine-matcha tapioca tart. Photo and
    recipe © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet
    Blog.

     

    RECIPE: CLEMENTINE & MATCHA TAPIOCA TARTLETS

    “Bursting with flavor, sweeter and more mellow than an orange but still plenty punchy, clementines sounded like the ideal pairing with matcha,” says Hannah, whose sweet spot (pun intended) is vegan desserts. She has published several books on the topic.

    “Cutting through the bitter powdered tea and balancing out the whole dessert, clementine segments top chewy tapioca pearls, cradled in the easiest mini tart shell you’ll ever slap together. There’s no need to break out the rolling pin: This crust is merely pressed into the pans and won’t slip or slide under the heat of the oven. There’s no need for pie weights.”

    The recipe is cholesterol-free and vegan (although you can use conventional milk and butter).

     
    Ingredients For 10-12 Tartlets

    Press-In-Pan Olive Oil Pastry Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  •  
    Matcha Tapioca

  • 1/2 cup small tapioca pearls
  • 2-1/2 cups vanilla coconut milk beverage, plain non-dairy milk or cow’s milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy margarine or butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    To Finish

  • 4-5 clementines, peeled and segmented
  • Garnish: fresh mint leaves (optional)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F; lightly grease 10-12 three-inch tartlet molds.

    2. MAKE crust: Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and lemon juice, stirring thoroughly to incorporate. Drizzle in the water very slowly, adding just enough to bring the dough together without making it wet or sticky.

    3. BREAK off 2-3 tablespoons of dough for each tartlet and press it evenly across the bottoms and up the sides of the molds. Make sure there aren’t especially thick edges left around the base, so that the entire crust cooks evenly.

    4. BAKE for 10-15 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through the process to ensure even baking, until golden brown all over. Let cool completely before popping the shells out of the molds.

    5. MAKE the tapioca: Pour 2 cups of very hot water over the pearls and allow them to soak for 2-3 hours. This will soften them and prevent hard centers from remaining after cooking. Rinse with cold water and thoroughly drain.

    6. PLACE the soaked pearls in a medium saucepan along with the milk. Whisk together the sugar, matcha, cornstarch and arrowroot in a separate bowl and break up any clumps of matcha.

    7. ADD mixture to the pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Allow the mixture to come up to a boil, whisking periodically. Be sure to scrape along the sides and bottom to prevent sticking and burning. Once the mixture bubbles vigorously for a full minute, turn off the heat; then add the butter/margarine and vanilla extract. Stir until the butter/margarine has completely melted; then distribute the mixture between the baked tart shells, filling them to the top.

    8. COOL the tapioca filling fully; then top with clementine segments and optional mint leaves (if the leaves are large, cut into a chiffonade [finely cut strips]). Serve at room temperature or chill for 2 hours.
     
     
    CLEMENTINES ARE NOT ORANGES

    There are three basic citrus types—citron, mandarin and pummelo—from which all modern citrus derives via hybrids or backcrosses.

    While they look like small oranges and are often called “mandarin oranges,” mandarins are a separate species that includes the clementine, mineola (red tangelo), murcott (also called honey tangerine), tangelo, temple and satsuma, among others.

  • Oranges are from the order Sapindales, family Rutaceae, genus Citrus and species C. × sinensis.
  • Mandarins are from the order Sapindales, family Rutaceae, genus Citrus and species C. reticulata (clementines are C. clementina).
  •  
    Clementines alone have numerous sub-species, some more commercial than others (the Clemenules Clementine is the largest commercially grown variety). “Cuties” are a marketing name for clementine mandarins generally sold before Christmas. The same fruit is called a murcott or tango mandarin after the holidays. Why ask why?

    More Confusion

    Mandarins are also called loose-skin oranges—a usage which is both unfortunate and confusing given the numerous, highly distinctive differences between the two genuses. According to the experts at U.C. Davis:

  • In the U.S., where the name tangerine first came into common usage, mandarin (or “mandarin orange”) and tangerine are used more or less interchangeably to designate the whole group. Since mandarin is the older and much more widely employed name, its use is clearly preferable.
  • The term “tangerine” was coined for brightly-colored sweet mandarins that were originally shipped out of the port of Tangiers, Morocco to Florida in the late 1800s; the term stuck.
  • Presumably because of the orange-red color of the Dancy variety, which originated in Florida and was introduced in the markets as the Dancy tangerine, horticulturists have tended to restrict the use of the term tangerine to the mandarins of similar deep color. However, this is a usage of convenience only and the tangerines do not comprise a group of natural significance.
  •  
    The mandarin probably originated in northeastern India, home of the Indian wild mandarin, Citrus indica Tan. As with all agriculatural products, many hybrids followed. The King and Kunenbo mandarins, for example, originated in Indo-China and the Satsuma mandarin originated in Japan. The Mediterranean mandarin is believed to have been cultivated in Italy.

    The mandarin reached the Mediterranean basin in the early 1800s, and about 1825 in Florida. Thanks to the University of California Davis for providing this information. You can read more here.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Winter Vegetable Kabobs

    Yes, we’re past Thanksgiving, but these “Thanksgiving Kabobs” work all fall and winter and are equally fun for Christmas dinner. They may even have people who don’t like to eat vegetables asking for more!

    Our friend Hannah Kaminsky of BittersweetBlog.com created “Thanksgiving kabobs” from all the classic Thanksgiving (and Christmas) accoutrements. They’re threaded onto portion-controlled, dippable skewers.

  • Serve them as a side with the main course; as a vegetarian meal atop a bed of mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or whole grains.
  • For a non-holiday dinner, you can add cubed turkey to the skewers for the a main course.
  • Serve them on a platter as an appetizer
  • Hannah adds cubes of sourdough or sturdy cornbread to evoke stuffing.
  • Sweet potato can substitute for acorn or butternut squash or pumpkin.
  • Trimmed green beans can be added.
  •  


    Photo © Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    “These kebabs are limited only by a lack of imagination,” says Hannah. She loves gravy for dipping on the side; the choice is yours.

    RECIPE: THANKSGIVING KABOBS

    Ingredients

    Quantities will vary depending on how many people you plan to serve and which vegetables/add-ins you choose.

  • Small Brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
  • Butternut squash, cubed
  • Turkey cubes or vegan options, including seitan or tempeh
  • Large fresh cranberries*
  • Optional: mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes, whole grain (barley, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • Optional: Gravy
  •  

    If you regularly use skewers, invest in the
    steel variety. Unlike wood skewers, they
    don’t have to be presoaked and they’re
    sustainable: no trees are sacrificed. These
    are from Norpro.

     

    Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup†
  • 2 tablespoons olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch rubbed sage
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE wooden skewers by submerging in water for at least 20 minutes. This prevents them from burning (or worse, catching fire) while in the oven. If using metal skewers, skip this step.

     

    2. PREHEAT oven to 400°F and lightly grease a shallow baking dish that can accommodate the full length of the skewers. Thread individual vegetables on the skewers in any pattern or proportion you like. Just ensure that all your components are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly. Place the finished skewers in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. If you’re making enough for a big party, consider a second baking dish.

    3. WHISK together the ingredients for the marinade and brush it generously over the skewered “meat” and veggies. If you have any leftover marinade, reserve it to baste the skewers halfway through the cook time.

    4. BAKE for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, flipping after 10 and basting if desired. The vegetables should be nicely browned and tender when done. Serve immediately over hot mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes or grains with a small bowl of gravy for dipping.
     
    *When selecting cranberries, look for particularly large berries and skewer them precisely in the center, as they have a tendency to wither and/or split while baking.

    †Hannah prefers Grade B maple syrup in this recipe.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Bare Fruit Apple Chips

    An apple never tasted better. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Our favorite packaged sweet snack, Bare Fruit apple chips has expanded the line to two new “flavored” chips. The lineup now includes

  • Chili Lime Apple Chips
  • Cinnamon Apple Chips
  • Fuji Red Apple Chips
  • Granny Smith Apple Chips
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips
  •  

    They’re as satisfying as candy—in fact, much more so, since they’re a guilt-free, all fruit and just 50 calories per bag. Each bag is the equivalent of eating an apple, so you also contribute to your recommended daily fruit and fiber servings.

    Caramel Apple is perfect for Halloween; all varieties of these naturally sweet chips (no sugar added but a special baking process caramelizes the apple’s natural sugar) are great for:

  • Dieter Gifts
  • Glove compartment, desk drawer, gym bag, etc.
  • Stocking Stuffers
  •  

    Here’s our favorite packaged salty snack, which also should be on your stocking stuffer radar: HalfPops, fiber-filled half-poppped popcorn that we like even better than conventional full-popped.

      

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Chocolate Covered Orange Peel

    For a sophisticated Halloween treat, consider dark chocolate covered orange peels from Lake Champlain Chocolates of Vermont.

    Chocolate-covered orange peel is one of our favorite chocolate treats. You bite into the refreshing taste of citrus, covered in rich dark chocolate.

    Fresh Valencia orange peels are sliced and candied before they are dipped into the chocolate, in a process that takes three days. One taste assures you that it’s been worth every minute.

    The 7.25 ounce gift box, tied with a green satin ribbon, contains approximately 25 pieces and is $35.00.

    Beyond Halloween gifting, we love to serve these at the end of a fine dinner, with coffee or tea. A couple of pieces are more satisfying; no other dessert is required!

     

    Chocolate-covered candied orange peel is a treat for Halloween or after-dinner coffee. Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Chocolates.

     

    Lake Champlain chocolates are certified kosher by Star-K. Buy them online at LakeChamplainChocolates.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Cashew Milk

    Slide over, almond milk, soy milk and rice milk. There’s a new milk in town: cashew milk. We got the 411 from Hannah Kaminsky of BittersweetBlog.com. It’s a boon for kosher, lactose-intolerant and vegan food enthusiasts. Hannah writes:

    Well, it’s about time! Considering the proliferation of non-dairy milks populating grocery stores, it seems unthinkable that cashews have been entirely missing in action. Until now.

    Who better to unleash the world’s first commercial cashew milk than So Delicious, having proven their mastery of both frozen and refrigerated dairy-free delights? Before I even realized my own unfulfilled nut milk desires, this turned out to be the creamy drink I had been waiting for all along.

    Almond milk is my typical go-to milk alternative, the prime candidate for drinking, baking, cooking, and yes, ice cream-ing.

     

    New cashew milk from So Delicious. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | BittersweetBlog.com.

     

    From here on in, consider that prime spot in my fridge under serious reconsideration, because So Delicious’ cashew milk performs all of those tasks with equal grace, and of course, great taste.

    Currently offered in Unsweetened and Unsweetened Vanilla, my only hope would be that the line takes off and expands to include a chocolate option.

     

    Cashews: ready to be “milked.” Photo by
    Midori | Wikimedia.

     

    Both flavors have an excellent viscosity, a moderate thickness without any cloying sensation. Though considerably less rich than homemade cashew milk, for a mere fraction of the calories (35 per cup) cashew milk tastes surprisingly creamy and luscious.

    A very subtle nutty flavor defines thee background flavor, distinctly cashew in essence, and easily minimized when mixed into other recipes. Bearing a clean flavor with no sugar to speak of, they can seamlessly work in any application, a testament to their versatility.

    In short, if you don’t give these cashew milks a try, you’re seriously missing out! They may very well replace my almond standby, at least once they gain wider distribution in more mainstream grocery stores.

    So Delicious products are certified Kosher (parve) by Kehilla Kosher.

    —Hannah Kaminsky

     

    WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT CASHEWS?

    Surprise: Cashew “nuts” are not true nuts but seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree.

    Another surprise: Cashews are always sold shelled, because the inside lining of the shells contains an inedible, caustic resin. This “cashew balm” is used to make varnishes and insecticides!

    But the bounty inside the shell is a most delicious, nutritious nut/seed, with one-quarter cup providing copper (37.5% DV), magnesium (25% DV), manganese (28.4% DV), phosphorus (20.3% DV) and tryptophan (DV 28.1%), as well as iron, selenium and zinc.

    Cashews’ high antioxidant components also help to lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases.

    Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, and most of it comprises heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (the same fats found in olive oil).

    So dig in—or drink up!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Substitute Tofu For Cream & Try This Dairy Free Chocolate Pudding Recipe

    Soft tofu can be turned into a substitute for
    heavy cream. Photo courtesy House Foods.

     

    We learned from Japanese and Asian-influenced restaurants that you can have lush, creamy tofu-based desserts and not even notice there’s no cream. Substituting tofu for heavy cream helps to save calories and avoid cholesterol. It produces recipes that support kosher, lactose-free and vegan diets. It’s also less expensive than cream, and is available in organic and conventional varieties.

    Erin Dow of Guiding Stars shared how to make a heavy cream substitute from soft (silken) tofu.

    “Abstaining from heavy cream, regardless of the reason, can pose a serious challenge in the kitchen,” Erin notes. “Its thickening power, its silky rich mouth feel, and the flavor-balancing power of its fat content, are tough to replicate with plant-based alternatives. But for certain applications, a substitute made with silken tofu can help. The recipe is simple.”

     

    RECIPE: SOFT/SILKEN TOFU “HEAVY CREAM”

  • Combine one part silken tofu with one part liquid of your choice (see last two bullets) in a blender and process until smooth.
  • If desired, strain through a fine mesh strainer before using.
  • For sweet recipes, use coconut milk or unsweetened vanilla soy milk for the liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla for every cup of cream you make.
  • For savory recipes, use almond or oat milk. They will help balance out the flavor without risking a curdled mess.
  •  
    Soft/silken tofu heavy cream is a great substitute for pastry creams and other desserts, quiches and chocolate truffles and for thinning out frostings and dips. Use it to add body to sauces, gravies and smoothies. Extra firm or firm tofu is used for scrambles, kabobs, stirfries and other mains.

     

    And pudding—chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, etc.: Tofu substitutes easily for cream. The following recipe is dairy free and cholesterol free. It’s a companion to the tofu chocolate mousse recipe we published last year for National Chocolate Mousse Day.

    It was created by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, hosts of Cooking Channel’s show “Extra Virgin.” Budino is the Italian word for pudding.

    RECIPE: TOFU CHOCOLATE BUDINO

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 package (14 ounces) soft/silken tofu
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •  

    No cholesterol, no lactose. Photo courtesy Cooking Channel.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE sugar, water, and cocoa water in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cool slightly.

    2. MELT chocolate in a glass bowl set over a saucepan of lightly simmering water.

    3. PLACE all ingredients in a blender and purée until completely smooth. Divide the chocolate mixture among ramekins and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
     
    ABOUT TOFU

    Tofu was first created from soybeans more than 2,000 years ago in China. While lots of tofu and soy sauce are consumed, approximately 85% of the world’s soybean crop is processed into soybean meal and vegetable oil.

    In Japan, edamame (immature soybeans), miso (soybean paste), natto (fermented soybeans) and kinako (roasted soybean flour) are popular foods. Soy milk, tempeh and textured vegetable protein are increasing in popularity in the U.S.

    If you’re ingredient-conscious, look for organic tofu, made from sustainably grown, non-GMO soybeans. Commonly used tofu processing aids such as defoamers, bleaches and preservatives are not used in organic tofu.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Avocado Boat

    An avocado boat, Southwestern style. Photo
    courtesy Avocado Central.

     

    If your principal enjoyment of avocado is in the form of guacamole, allow us to suggest an avocado “boat”—a stuffed avocado half.

    When our grandmother held her weekly card parties with “the ladies,” their choice of luncheon was Avocado Boat With Crab Salad. Not surprisingly, that fancy recipe became a favorite first course when, in our first apartment, we staged dinner parties. Today it seems retro, but still delicious.

    You can stuff anything into an avocado half, starting with scrambled eggs or tofu at breakfast, your favorite salad (egg, shrimp, tuna) at lunch, or anything as a first course at dinner (we’ve long since replaced the crab salad with ceviche, a contemporary take, as well as barley/quinoa/rice salad).

     
    Here’s an easy vegetarian stuffed avocado for a first course, a light lunch or brunch. Try it, then create your own signature avocado boat recipe.

    Large avocados are recommended for this recipe (a large avocado averages about eight ounces). If using smaller or larger fruits, adjust the other ingredients accordingly.

    SOUTHWESTERN SALAD IN AN AVOCADO BOAT

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2/3 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup corn, drained if canned
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup chunky salsa
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 10 drops hot sauce
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, halved and seeded
  • Garnish: radish or alfalfa sprouts or halved olives
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE beans, corn, carrots, cilantro, salsa, green onion and red pepper sauce in a bowl.

    2. SPOON into avocado boats. Garnish and serve.

    TIP: Cut a thin lengthwise slice off of the bottom of the avocado halves to make them stable on the plates.

    Find more avocado recipes at AvocadoCentral.com.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Isabella’s Cookie Company

    Jennifer Palmer began baking as a young girl and “always thrived on the happiness brought to others by my cookies.” What a lovely thought!

    Turning avocation into career, in 2001 she founded Isabella’s Cookie Company, so that everyone could enjoy her fresh baked, all natural cookie creations.

    The company is based in Redondo Beach, California, and the cookies are carried by many local retailers (here’s the store locator).

    You can order online and send a gift box of luscious cookies to friends, family, hosts, campers and others deserving of sweet, buttery goodness. Don’t want butter? There are seven vegan varieties. And if you need a themed cookie, there are hand-decorated cookies in every shape imaginable (we love the billy goats). The entire line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

    The only problem is what to order. We tried two delicious flavors (Limey and Muffy—see below), but everything sounds soooo good. For starters are the the flavors you’d anticipate (chocolate [including chipotle chocolate], peanut butter, chocolate chip-PB chip and oatmeal with both chocolate-covered and regular raisins).

     

    The Muffy: a blueberry-muffin inspired cookie. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    But then, the surprises: Isabella’s creates flavor combinations that you won’t find elsewhere. A sampling:

  • Apple Fritter, an oatmeal cookie with apples, white chocolate chips and a hint of cinnamon, also available in Cran-Apple
  • B-Nana, a cookie version of the banana split, with banana flavor, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and dried strawberries
  • BOB, a chewy oatmeal cookie with butterscotch chips and dried blueberries
  • Chocolate Haze, dark chocolate and crunchy hazelnuts
  • Dark Mocha Monster, a soft brown sugar cookie with dark chocolate chunks and roasted espresso beans
  • Fluffy, a Fluffernutter in a cookie—banana cookie with peanut butter chips and marshmallows
  • Limey, a graham cracker base with white chocolate chips and a lime-vanilla drizzle
  • Maui Wowie, macadamia nuts, pineapple, coconut and white chocolate chunks
  • Muffy, a blueberry muffin-inspired cookie with dried blueberries, milk chocolate-covered blueberries and white chocolate chips.
  • Orange Dream Cream, an orange and vanilla cookie packed with white chocolate chips
  • Paddy, green mint chips added to a classic chocolate chip cookie—one of our favorite recipes
  •  

    Limey: graham crackers, white chocolate
    chips and a vanilla-lime drizzle. Photo
    courtesy Isabella’s.

     

    There’s even a chocolate chip cookie with half the sugar! And a purchase of a bag of Milk + Bookies Chocolate Chip Cookie sends books to children in need.

    Nut Allergies?

    While the bakery does use nuts in some of the cookies, they follow a strict allergen control program: a chemical cleanup upon the completion of using the nuts, and no co-mingling of ingredients.
     
    TOO MANY COOKIES?

    You don’t have to eat them all at once: You can freeze them. Here’s how to store cookies.

    HOW MANY TYPES OF COOKIES HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out some of the world’s favorite types of cookies in our delicious Cookie Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tofu Scramble Recipe Instead Of Scrambled Eggs

    Recently at the breakfast bar at our Whole Foods Market, we had a delicious tofu scramble that was just as satisfying as scrambled eggs—but so much more healthful. So in the name of reduced cholesterol and sustainability of the planet,* we’ve switched. Try it, you’ll like it!

    Tofu is made in different firmnesses that suit different recipes—from silky smooth tofu for puddings and mouse to extra firm tofu that keeps its shape in stir frys. Scrambled tofu works best with a medium firmness.

    As with omelets and scrambled eggs, you can customize scrambled tofu with your favorite flavors and vegetables. Cumin, curry and tumeric are a popular seasoning mix. Consider garlic, onion powder, and pretty much anything from the spice rack. Any fresh herbs work: Basil, cilantro, dill and/or parsley are our favorites.

    You can add as many or as few veggies as you like. Bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, onions/green onions, snow peas, spinach, cherry tomatoes or any favorites work. And of course, many people welcome breakfast meats or their vegetarian equivalents.

     

    Scrambled tofu: Yummy! Photo © Bigio | Dreamstime.

     
    The yellow color of the tofu comes from the addition of nutritional yeast and turmeric. The nutritional yeast doesn’t impact the flavor; so if you don’t have any, just enjoy your scramble a bit less yellow.

    RECIPE: TOFU SCRAMBLE

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 block (14 ounces) medium firm tofu, drained, pressed and patted dry
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons oil (use some sesame oil for an Asian flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin or curry
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions)
  •  

    Turn your tofu scramble into a breakfast
    burrito. Photo courtesy OhMyVeggies.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SLICE the tofu into one inch cubes and crumble lightly with a fork or your fingers.

    2. SAUTÉ onion, pepper and tofu in oil in a skillet for 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onion and pepper soften. Add the remaining ingredients.

    3. REDUCE heat to medium and cook 5-7 more minutes as needed, until tofu is hot. Stir frequently; add more oil as needed.

     

    VARIATIONS

    Add your favorite ingredients to customize your tofu scramble. Some ideas for starters:

  • Breakfast Burrito: Wrap the scramble in a tortilla and serve it with a side of salsa, hot sauce and fat-free plain Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream. Also see the Mexican tofu scramble, below.
  • Cheese Tofu Scramble: Add your favorite shredded cheese, or some grated Parmesan.
  • Mexican Tofu Scramble: Season with cumin, paprika, turmeric and fresh cilantro. Add bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes. Top with salsa and fat-free plain Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream.
  • Primavera Tofu Scramble: Make a colorful scramble with red bell pepper, sliced cherry or grape tomatoes, broccoli florets, shredded carrots and fresh dill and basil.
     
    *The methane from animal manure—including chickens—is the number one contributor to greenhouse gas and the erosion of the ozone layer.

      

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