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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 The Nibble

EARTH DAY: 5 Green Things You Can Do To Help Save The Planet

The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Yet 45 years later, the need to save the planet is even greater. Here are five painless food-related things you can do to live greener:

1. CARRY A REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE

Bottled water purchases continue to grow in the beverage category. A plastic water bottle takes 1,000 years to degrade in landfill; if burned in a furnace, it releases harmful toxins into the air.

Carry a refillable water bottle. If you don’t like your municipal water, get a home water filtration system.
 
2. MAKE CARBONATED BEVERAGES AT HOME

Beyond water bottles, how much soda or sparkling water do you consume? There’s a Sodastream waiting for you!

In addition to making just about any flavor of soda—regular, diet, decaffeinated—or flavored water, you’ll save lots of money and work carrying those heavy bottles.

   

reusable-shopping-bag-stylehive-230

Avoid taking stores’ plastic shopping bags for your purchases. Instead, tuck reusable, folding nylon bags into pockets, purses, glove compartments. Photo courtesy StyleHive.com.

 
3. CARRY REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS

Don’t take plastic shopping bags from the grocery store; bring your own reusable bags instead. Most of them, like these, fold up to fit into a pocket.

 

sodastream-fizz-230

Make as many different flavors as you like, with reusable bottles. Photo courtesy Sodastream.

 

If you buy a lot of groceries, here are options for the trunk of your car.

Be sure to check out Hannah Grocery Cart Bags, which fit into the shopping cart. You fill them as you shop, unload them to pay, then fill and wheel to your car. They’re sturdy and don’t fall over as you drive home.
 

4. MAKE BETTER CHOICES IN TAKE-OUT FOOD & FAST FOOD

Take-out and fast food generate more landfill that won’t biodegrade in your lifetime. Avoid styrene, or any type of plastic, in coffee cups, plates and delivery containers.

Patronize stores and restaurants that use paper coffee cups and plates, and cardboard or recyclable metal take-out containers. Wash and reuse the plastic utensils.

And when you place your order, tell the establishment not to include any utensils with your order (or soy sauce, fortune cookies, ketchup packets and other things you just toss out automatically).

 

5. RECYCLE YOUR TRASH

If your community doesn’t have a mandatory recycling programs, call your Department of Sanitation to see what the options are to recycle paper, tin cans and other metals, glass and plastic.

  • Some retailers, like Whole Foods, recycle #5 plastic yogurt cups when local municipalities don’t.
  • You can also buy a gadget that cuts K-cups apart for recycling the plastic and composting the grounds.
  • There’s also a program that lets you mail in your used K-cups for recycling.
  •  
    BONUS TIP: CUT BACK ON HOME ENERGY USE

    The average American household spends more on home energy bills and gasoline for cars, than for health care or property taxes. You can live greener, saving energy (and money!), by being aware of how you waste it.

    Turn off lights, computers, televisions and other energy-users when you don’t need them. Use this online tool to see how easy it is for you to cut back.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Jelly Bean Day

    April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day. If you’re craving a sugar fix, Jelly Belly’s jelly beans have just 4 calories apiece.

    While there are numerous producers of tasty jelly beans, Jelly Belly, launched in 1976, was the first to sell them in single flavors (as opposed to mixed). The original flavors: Cream Soda, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice, Root Beer, Tangerine and Very Cherry (today there are 50 flavors).

    The company also invented the “gourmet jelly bean.” The difference: gourmet jelly beans tend to be softer and smaller than traditional jelly beans, and are flavored in both the shell and the middle (traditional jelly beans typically contain flavor only in the shell).

    There are pronounced flavor preferences the world over. The number one flavors by region:

  • Americas: Very Cherry*
  • Asia: Lemon Lime
  • Australia: Bubble Gum (what’s up with that, Australia?)
  • Europe: Tutti-Frutti mix
  • Middle East: Berry Blue
  •  
    *In 1998, Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans.

       

    jelly-bean-bark-tasteofhome-230

    Make jelly bean bark with this recipe. Or, use jelly beans to top a cupcake. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     
    You can tour the Jelly Belly factories in Fairfield, California and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The two locations produce 362,880 pounds of jelly beans per day, equivalent to the weight of 24 elephants.

     

    jelly-beans-paper-cup-WS-230

    For the sweet-toothed, jelly beans are made
    mostly from sugar. Photo courtesy Williams-
    Sonoma.

     

    WHO INVENTED THE JELLY BEAN?

    The modern jelly bean is believed to have been invented in the U.S., sometime after 1850. The earliest recorded advertisement for jelly beans is from Boston confectioner William Schrafft, who may have also been the creator. The ad promoted sending jelly beans to Union Soldiers engaged in the Civil War (1861-1865).

    By the early 1900s, jelly beans had become a staple penny candy. Possibly, they were the first bulk candy. They became part of the Easter tradition in the 1930s, when somebody connected their egg shape with the eggs symbolic of the spiritual rebirth of Easter. Their festive colors made them a perfect celebratory candy.

    During World War II, much of the chocolate produced in the U.S. was sent overseas to soldiers. Americans focused on other sweets; flavorful, colorful jelly beans became popular.

     
    And, if you’re old enough to remember, they were the favorite candy of president Ronald Regan. He persuaded the Jelly Belly company to make a blueberry jelly bean so that he could serve red, white and blue jelly beans in the Oval Office.

    Here’s more on the history of jelly beans.
     
    JELLY BEAN TRIVIA

    Each year, U.S. manufacturers produce more than 16 billion jelly beans for Easter, enough to completely fill a plastic Easter egg 89 feet high and 60 feet wide—about the height of a nine-story office building.

    Christmas is the second largest jelly-bean-eating holiday. Who knew?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Celery Salt, Emeril’s Favorite Spice

    Who’d have guessed that celery salt was the must-have spice of chef Emeril Lagasse?

    In an interview in Nation’s Restaurant News, called “5 Things I Can’t Live Without,” celery salt was at the top of his list.

    “I use it in almost everything,” says Chef Emeril. “People don’t usually guess that it’s in there, but I can tell you that it adds oomph to many dishes. My test kitchen team was very surprised when I shared this secret with them.”

    His other four must-haves include an electric deep fryer, an instant-read thermometer, Julia Child’s The Way to Cook and an immersion blender. You can read the full article here.

    But today we’re expanding on Number One, celery salt.

    WHAT IS CELERY SALT

    Celery salt is a seasoned salt made from ground celery seeds*. It can be used to add flavor to just about anything: eggs, salads, soups, fish and seafood, vegetables. It’s used by manufacturers of hot dogs and sausages. It’s the primary ingredient in Old Bay Seasoning.

    It can be used as a table seasoning in cooking or as a table salt, like garlic salt, onion salt, rosemary salt, truffle salt, saffron salt and so forth.

       

    celery-salt-mccormick-230

    Does Emeril use a supermarket brand, an artisan brand or his own homemade celery salt? Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    Celery salt adds a note of fresh flavor. Some might call it subtly tangy or grassy.
     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CELERY SALT

    You can use whatever salt you have, including a salt substitute. Gourmet brands use a more flavorful salt—fleur de sel or French grey sea salt, for example.

    If you use a coarse salt, including kosher salt, grind it to the consistency of table salt (or to match the consistency of your ground celery seed).

    You can also purchase ground celery seed, but for the freshest flavor, grind your own as you need it.

    If you find that there’s too much celery flavor for your taste, you can use a 2:1 proportion of salt to celery seed, instead of the 1:1 in our recipe.
     
    *It can also be produced using dried celery or celery root. Large commercial brands can include anti-caking agents like
    sodium bicarbonate, sodium silicoaluminate, and sugar (dextrose).

     

    Celery_Seeds-silkroadspices.ca-230

    Celery seed is ground and mixed with salt to produce celery salt. Photo courtesy SilkRoadSpices.Ca.

     

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • 1/4 cup celery seed
  • 1/4 cup salt or substitute (e.g. reduced sodium salt)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the celery seed in a spice grinder and process to desired consistency.

    2. BLEND with the salt.

    3. STORE in a tight-lidded container.
     
    If you end up using a lot of celery salt, you can buy celery seed inexpensively in bulk. We found three one-pound bags on Amazon.com for $15.08.

    You can also give your homemade celery salt as gifts to friends who cook.

     
    WHERE TO USE CELERY SALT

    Note that when adding celery salt in recipes, the amount of regular salt should be reduced.

  • Beverages: Bloody Marys, tomato juice, vegetable juice
  • Eggs: deviled, frittata, poached, scrambled
  • Fish and seafood, especially crab dishes and seafood stews
  • Meats: burger and meat loaf seasoning; atop hot dogs†, in addition to the mustard, sauerkraut, etc.; roast chicken and turkey, sausage
  • Salads: chicken, cole slaw, egg, potato, pasta, tuna salad
  • Salad dressings, marinades and rubs
  • Sauces, including barbecue sauces and cream sauces
  • Soups (add to the recipe or sprinkle as a garnish, including atop America’s favorite chicken noodle soup)
  • Snacks: dips, pickles, popcorn
  • Starches: baked potatoes (sprinkle it on), French fries, rice
  • Cooked vegetables
  •  
    Have we left out your favorite use? Let us know!
     
    †A Chicago-style hot dog, or Chicago Red Hot, is a frankfurter on a poppy seed bun that is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled peppers and a dash of celery salt.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Green, Purple & Red Salad

    There’s no lettuce in this salad, but plenty of color!

    It was created by Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian churrascaria (steakhouse) with locations in the U.S. and Brazil.

    The chefs have combined three bright colors tossed in a light vinaigrette. It’s easy to do the same at home.

  • For the green: sugar snap peas (whole pods) and shelled English peas (a.k.a. green peas, garden peas).
  • For the putplr: shredded red cabbage; you can also red onion to taste.
  • For the red: halved cherry tomatoes; you can substitute or add red bell peppers.
  •  
    You can add additional seasonings as you wish—anything from fresh herbs to toasted sesame seeds.

     

    sugar-snap-pea-green-pea-salad-fogo-de-chao-230

    Put spring colors in your salad bowl. Photo courtesy Fogo de Chão.

     

    Serve it as a side with your favorite main. It will set off conventional proteins—typically shades of beige and brown—nicely.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun With Nonalcoholic Beverages

    lavender-lemonade-230-drm

    Lavender lemonade, a truly great experience
    (as is lavender iced tea). Here’s the recipe.
    Photo © Edith Frimcu | Dreamstime.

     

    Many home trends in foods and how to serve them come from restaurants, where chefs are constantly on the look for new ways to tempt customers.

    While mixologists have long been creating menus of specialty cocktails, nonalcoholic customized beverages are moving to the foreground as well.

    In addition to being a money-maker for margin-squeezed restaurants, customers can view these beverages as novel and better for them, tempting some to trade up from tap water.

    Recently, the National Restaurant Association polled nearly 1,300 chefs about nonalcoholic happenings in their restaurants. The top five answers follow.

    For us at home, it’s an opportunity to follow the trend and treat family and guests to something special.

    1. GOURMET LEMONADE

    Chefs point to gourmet lemonade as the hottest nonalcoholic beverage trend in restaurants. The “gourmet” aspect usually comes from adding another fruit or an herb (or both: rhubarb basil lemonade, anyone?), via a syrup or preferably, fresh fruit infused with the tea.

     
    As fruits come into season, make blueberry, mango, raspberry, stone fruit (nectarine, peach, plum), strawberry and watermelon lemonade. Add herbs like basil, lavender and mint. Add heat with jalapeño slices.

    For people who want something more potent, add a shot of eau de vie, gin, lemon liqueur (like Limoncello), saké, tequila or vodka (regular or lemon-infused).

    To start you off, here’s a basic lemonade recipe that you can customize into your signature beverage, plus a recipe for lavender lemonade, made with organic dried lavender.

     
    2. SPECIALTY ICED TEA

    A minor upgrade can turn the ubiquitous liquid refreshment into something special. It was second on the list of trending beverages, both at fine restaurants and chains (Friendly’s offered mango iced tea nd raspberry iced tea as limited-time offers last summer).

    It’s easy to use flavored syrups, but the best taste comes from infusing the fruit with the hot water and tea. You can also try cold infusion, adding the fruit to the cooled brew tea and letting it infuse overnight in the fridge.

    Alternatively, you can buy You can buy fruit-flavored tea bags, loose tea or ice tea mixes (mango, passionfruit, peach, raspberry and more); but when peaches are in season, use the fresh fruit.

    Our local Japanese restaurant makes a celestial lemongrass iced tea (and for what we’ve been spending on two or three glasses each visit, we’d better start brewing our own).

    We added the syrup from canned lychees to iced tea (yum!) and when fresh lychees arrive in June and July, we’ll be making fresh lychee iced tea.

     

    3. HOUSE-MADE SODA

    One tactic restaurants use to get guests to trade up from water is to offer a soft drink that they can’t get anywhere else. For several years, we’ve been tempted by house-made sodas, both to see what “real” cola and root beer tasted like before their flavors were fixed on our palates by commercial brands; and to experience the new (to us) and different (celery and basil, for example).

    The easy way to start at home is to get a Sodastream, practice with their syrups and then create your own.

    Get a recipe book like Homemade Soda, with 200 recipes for making fruit sodas, fizzy juices, flavored sparkling waters, root beer, cola and more.

     
    4. ORGANIC COFFEE

    Consumers are increasingly interested in foods that are healthy and sustainable: two words that describe organic products. Organic coffee is a hot trend.

    Instead of a simple cup of coffee at the end of the meal, some chefs at better restaurants are offering coffee brewed from better beans: organic beans or single-origin beans.

     

    jalapeno-peach-iced-tea-canard-230

    Fresh peach iced tea is a treat, but for a kick, add some jalapeño slices (remove the seeds and white pith). Photo courtesy Canard Inc. | NYC.

     
    Instead of asking your guests, “Who wants coffee?” you can say, “Who’d like a cup of Blue Moon organic, Rain Forest Alliance coffee from Bali?”

    Tiny Footprint is a brand that hits the trifecta: Certified Organic, Fair-Trade and part of the Rainforest Alliance, which is carbon negative and replants forests. It’s also delicious coffee (here’s our review). You can buy it online.
     
     
    5. COCONUT WATER

    Americans are now buying some $400 million in coconut water annually.

    Coconut water is the clear juice of young coconuts, as opposed to opaque white coconut milk, used for Piña Coladas (among other purposes). Here’s more about coconut water.

    The trendy liquid is sought for its high content of potassium and other nutrients, as well as its relatively low calorie content. It’s drunk straight or added to smoothies.

    While coconut water is sold in flavors (peach mango, pineapple, etc.), you can flavor your own. Lemon Cayenne, anyone?

     
    Now that warmer weather is here, it’s time to begin your journey to creating signature nonalcholic beverages. Have fun!

     
    *Coconut water is simply drained from young coconuts. Coconut milk is made by steeping the grated flesh of mature coconuts in water, then puréeing and straining.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sorrel

    fresh-sorrel-goodeggsSF-230

    Green goddess: fresh-picked sorrel. Photo
    courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    If you hadn’t read the headline or the caption, would you have been able to identify the leafy green in the photo?

    Growing wild in grassland habitats, sorrel has long been cultivated as a garden herb and leafy green vegetable. It’s a member of the Polygonaceae family of flowering plants, which include foods such as buckwheat and rhubarb.

    In older times, sorrel was also used as medicine. The leaves contain oxalic acid, which provides both the tart flavor and medicinal properties (respiratory tract and bacterial infections, diuretic).

    Sorrel used to be consumed widely as both herb and vegetable, but has fallen out of style. Some recipes still use it in a sauce for lamb, sweetbreads or veal. Occasionally a chef will offer sorrel soup.

    But it’s time to revisit sorrel at home. Both the stems and leaves can be eaten, raw or cooked.

     

    Depending on your farmer’s market or produce store, you can find:

  • Common sorrel (Rumex acetosa), with large, arrow-shaped leaves (see photo above).
  • French sorrel (Rumex scutatus), milder than common sorrel, with smaller and more rounded leaves.
  • Red-veined sorrel (Rumex sanguineus), the handsomest and the mildest of the three. It has subtle notes of lemon, and should be saved for salads and plate garnishes, to show off its beauty.
  •  
    Or, you can plant sorrel in your garden: It’s a perennial that will bloom for years. It grows well in containers, too.
     
    WAYS TO USE SORREL

    Since it can be used as a herb or a vegetable, you’ve got a lot of flexibility when cooking with sorrel.

    In addition to classic uses, think of it especially with dairy, duck, goose and pork, where its acidity counters the fattiness. For the same reason, it goes well with stronger fish. Try sorrel in a side, a sauce or a plate garnish.

    Sorrel recipes from Mariquita Farms, a grower of sorrel, include:

  • Apple Sorbet With Sorrel
  • Beet Salad with Sorrel with Pistachio Dressing
  • Carrot-Sorrel Juice
  • Fish Fillets With Chard, Spinach & Sorrel
  • Leek and Sorrel Pancakes with Smoked Salmon
  •  

  • Penne with Mushrooms and Fresh Sorrel
  • Sorrel and Goat Cheese Quiche
  • Sorrel Omelet
  • Sorrel Pesto
  • Sorrel Risotto
  • Sorrel Soup
  • Split Pea Soup with Sorrel
  •  
    Also use sorrel in your own recipes for:

  • Casseroles
  • Dairy (cream, sour cream, yogurt)
  • Egg Dishes (omelets, quiche)
  • Fish (especially with oily or smoked varieties like bluefish,
    mackerel or smoked salmon)
  • Green Salads
  • Green Vegetable (alone or with other cooked greens like
    chard, kale and spinach)
  •  

    sorrel-field-marquitafarm-230

    A field of sorrel. Photo courtesy Mariquita Farms.

  • Legumes (like lentils)
  • Marinades and Salad Dressings
  • Puréed As A Sauce With Duck, Goose Or Pork
  • Puréed Into Mashed Potatoes (or other potato dishes)
  • Salads
  • Sautéed In Butter
  • Sandwiches (instead of lettuce)
  • Stir Fries
  • Whole Grains
  •  
    If we’ve overlooked your favorite use for sorrel, please let us know!

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Joe’s Half & Half, Tea & Lemonade Drink

    Red-jacket-Half-and-Half_230

    The new Half & Half champion. Photo courtesy Red Jacket Orchards.

     

    Arnold Palmer, make way for Joe Nicholson: There’s a new tea and lemonade blend in town.

    In the 1960s, with his order of a glass of half lemonade, half iced tea at a country club, golf legend Arnold Palmer established the soft drink that bears his name. Others who overheard him said “I’ll have what he’s having,” and Arnold Palmer, the drink, has been popular ever since.

    Manufacturers and restaurants have created their spin on the drink, also called a Half & Half. But no one has done it better than Red Jacket Orchards, which debuted Joe’s Half & Half this month.

    Named for company founder Joe Nicholson, the drink fuses the company’s NY Style Lemonade with guayusa tea, a NIBBLE favorite.

  • The lemonade is a mix of lemons with the company’s cold-pressed apples, giving Joe’s Half & Half a delectable hint of apple juice as well.
  • Guayusa tea comes is made from an indigenous leaf that is hand-picked by the Kichwa community in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. It is delicious and even better for you than conventional tea; it’s known for natural caffeine that doesn’t give you jitters.
  •  
    Every bottle of Joes’s Half & Half contains more than twice the antioxidant levels found in green tea, and has no added sweeteners—just the national sweetness of the apples. The final product is delicious juice that gives you healthy energy.

    Available in 12-ounce (individual) and 32-ounce bottles, Joe’s Half & Half is a new favorite of ours, for sure. Thanks, Joe!

    Discover more at RedJacketOrchards.com. You can also send someone a gift of the Cold Pressed Juice Of The Month Club.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCE: Spring Fruits & Vegetables

    Here’s what’s in season for Spring. Not everything may be available in your area, but what is there should be domestic—not imported from overseas.

    Some of the items are harvested for only a few weeks; others are around for a while.

    So peruse the list, note what you don’t want to miss out on, and add to your shopping list.

    The list was created by Produce for Better Health Foundation. Take a look at their website, FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org for tips on better meal planning with fresh produce.

    SPRING FRUITS

  • Apricots
  • Barbados Cherries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherimoya
  • Honeydew
  • Jackfruit
  • Limes
  • Lychee
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  •    

    open-jackfruit-showing-bulbs-wisegeek-230b

    It’s jackfruit, and it’s in season. Your most likely to find it at Asian markets. Here’s more about it from WiseGeek.org.

     

    SPRING VEGETABLES

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus: Green, Purple, White
  • Belgian Endive
  • Bitter Melon
  • Broccoli
  • Boston/Butterhead Lettuce
  •  

    manoa-lettuce-sunset.com-230

    Butterhead or Boston type has a loose head with green, smooth outer leaves and yellow inner leaves. Popular varieties include Bibb (Limestone), Buttercrunch, Mignonette (Manoa) and Tom Thumb. Here’s more about them from Sunset.com.

     
  • Cactus
  • Cardoons
  • Chayote Squash
  • Chives
  • Collard Greens
  • Corn
  • Fava Beans
  • Fennel
  • Fiddlehead Ferns
  • Garlic Scapes
  • Green Beans
  • Morel Mushrooms
  • Mustard Greens
  • Nettles
  • Pea Greens
  • Pea Pods
  • Peas
  • Radicchio
  • Ramps
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Rhubarb
  • Snow Peas
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Spring Baby Lettuce
  • Swiss Chard
  • Vidalia Onions & Other Sweet Onions
  • Watercress
  •  
    Here’s more on spring fruits and vegetables. Get inspiration for meals and enjoy what’s best and freshest!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Salad With Prosciutto

    If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to roll out spring recipes.

    Scafata is a dish from the Umbria region of Italy, typically made with spring vegetables such as artichokes, escarole, fava beans, green peas and Swiss chard, and flavored with basil, mint and often, guanciale (bacon made from the jowl of the pig).

    We’ve adapted a recipe from ParmaCrown.com into a spring vegetable salad with prosciutto (Parma ham). In our version, you can:

  • Serve the vegetables raw, cooked (to al dente) or blanched.
  • Customize it with your favorite spring veggies, for example fava beans.
  • Substitute the chard and escarole with kale or romaine.
  • Top it with a poached egg, for a lunch entrée.
  •  
    RECIPE: SPRING SALAD WITH PROSCIUTTO

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Cooked Version

  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  •    

    parma-style-scarfatta-parmacrown-230

    Make this spring salad, raw or cooked. Photo
    courtesy ParmaCrown.com.

     

    For The Raw Version

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup vinegar (or divide between vinegar and fresh lemon juice)
  •  
    Vegetables For Both Versions

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups (about 4 ounces) snow peas
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 8 canned artichokes†, drained and halved
  • 4 ounces (about 3/4 cup) asparagus spears cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup green onion cut into 1/2-inch pieces (do not include in cooked version)
  • Optional: 1 cup Swiss chard or escarole, torn into bite-size pieces
  •  
    Toppings

  • 8 slices prosciutto di Parma
  • Optional: 4 poached eggs
  • Optional garnish: chopped or chiffonade of fresh basil and/or mint
  •  
    *If serving the salad raw or blanched, substitute 1/2 cup green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, for the cooked onion.

    †The artichokes should be plain, not marinated.

     

    P6

    Prosciutto in the making: hams hanging to cure in the air. Photo courtesy ParmaHam.com.

     

    Preparation

    For The Cooked Salad

    1a. COMBINE the wine, oil and onion in large skillet; cover and bring to boil over medium- high heat. Add the zucchini, snow peas, peas, artichokes, asparagus, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, simmer partly covered about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until vegetables are al dente (or, if you prefer, tender).

    For The Raw Salad

    1b. MAKE a the vinaigrette: Whisk the oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. A pinch of dry mustard helps keep the emulsion from separating. Toss the vegetables in vinaigrette just to moisten. Place the remaining vinaigrette in a small pitcher for those who would like more.

    For Either Salad

    2. POACH the eggs. Divide the vegetables among four plates. Top each with two slices of prosciutto di Parma and an egg. Garnish with chopped fresh mint, if desired.

     
    PROSCIUTTO & SERRANO HAMS: THE DIFFERENCES

    Both prosciutto and Serrano hams are dry-cured: salted and hung in sheds to cure in the air. Both are served in very thin slices. Country ham, preferred in the U.S., is smoked, and a very different stye from dry-cured hams.

    While prosciutto and Serrano hams can be used interchangeably, they are different.

  • Prosciutto, from Italy, is cured for 10-12 months with a coating of lard. Serrano, from Spain, can be cured for up to 18 months (and at the high end, for 24 months). The differing times and microclimates affect the amount of wind that dries the hams, and thus the character of the final products.
  • They are made from different breeds of pigs: Prosciutto can be made from pig or wild boar, whereas Serrano is typically made from a breed of white pig.
  • The diet of the pigs differs. Parma pigs eat the local chestnuts, and are also fed the whey by-product of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Italian-made prosciutto is never made with nitrates. American made prosciutto, as well as both domestic and Spanish Serrano-style hams, can have added nitrates.

  • Prosciutto is considered more salty and fatty. Serrano is considered more flavorful and less fatty.
  •  
    MORE

  • Find more Parma ham recipes at ParmaCrown.com.
  • Bitter greens salad with prosciutto recipe.
  • The different types of ham.
  •   

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    RESTAURANT: Death Ave

    Now that spring is really here, New Yorkers and visitors to the city are heading to the High Line, the elevated train tracks that have been turned into a unique urban park.

    Built in 1934 to transport goods through Manhattan, the High Line ran from 34th Street to Spring Street in SoHo. The elevated tracks were built through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue.

    By 1980, interstate trucking was the preferred mode of commercial transportation, and the trains ceased to run. Over time, the tracks covered with wild vegetation. Property owners wanted the tracks torn down.

    In 1999, two neighborhood residents began to advocate for the High Line’s preservation and reuse as public open space. The first part of the renovation opened to the public in 2009 and it is now complete—and magnificent.

    The High Line is part of the renaissance of the far west side of Chelsea, long a bleak industrial area. A decade ago, art galleries priced out of other neighborhoods led the gentrification, followed by boutique hotels.

       

    vertical-horiatiki-deathave-230

    One of Death Ave’s deconstructed dishes, a stacked Greek salad. Photo courtesy Death Ave | NYC.

     

    Then the high rise residential buildings began to pop up, many along the High Line. If you’re going to live far west in Chelsea, having a neighborhood park—especially such a hip, trendy one—is an amenity unmatched by other ‘hoods.

    Along with the burgeoning numbers of visitors and residents came the restaurants. We recently visited a particularly charming one, Death Ave.

    A RESTAURANT NAMED “DEATH?”

    First, you’ll say: What kind of name is Death Ave for a restaurant, much less a modern Greek one?

    Its location, Eleventh Avenue, was nicknamed “Death Avenue” in the late 19th century.

    In the mid-1800s, the Hudson River Railroad built freight train tracks, to transport meat and other goods to the city’s bustling Meat Packing District (today, there’s no more meat packing but a loft and condo neighborhood).

    Although inconceivable today, the train tracks ran at street level, right through the same avenue that was used by pedestrians and carriage traffic. Inevitably, hundreds of people were hit and killed by the trains. By the 1890s, the street was nicknamed “Death Avenue.”

    The stretch of avenue where the restaurant is located is drab, but gentrification will come. And until then, restaurateur Michael Tzezailidis has built a beautiful new restaurant. A 120-year-old tenement building has been transformed into an urban oasis.

     

    death-ave-dining-room-230

    The dining room at Death Ave, looking out onto the patio. Photo courtesy Death Ave | NYC.

     

    The restaurant has been built with old world craftsmanship. We envied the bronze floor tiles and the handsome stone walls. The room tables are reclaimed wood.

    There’s a bar for drinking and nibbling; private, curtain-enclosed booths; a main dining room with and a splendid patio with a retractable roof for rainy days. It has a large bar and lounge area along with table seating.

    The menu is a creative modernization of Greek fare: a deconstructed Greek salad and souvlaki “tacos” for dinner and deconstructed ham and eggs for breakfast and brunch.

    There is also more conventional fare, from a mezze plate to braised octopus and lamb shank, all stylishly served.

    The cocktails are impressive (be sure to have the current specialties); and although we have to return to try the beer, there’s an in-house brewery. Death Ave is an “estiatorio and zythopoiia”; in Greek, estiatorio is a restaurant, zythopoiia is a brewery.

    It’s a lovely place to relax after your stroll on the High Line.

     

    Death Ave is located at 315 10th Avenue between 28th and 29th Streets (not on 11th Avenue, “Death Avenue”); 212.695.8080. You can also reserve via Open Table on the Death Ave website.

      

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