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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

RECIPE: Classic Peach Pie

To us, summer means fresh peach pie—a flavor that’s not easy to come by commercially. To enjoy its pleasures, you’ve got to bake your own.

When summer peaches are ripe and juicy, they don’t need a whole lot else to make a terrific pie. In this recipe, an optional tablespoon of dark rum “takes it over the top,” says Annie.

Serve the pie warm with vanilla ice cream—or if you can find it or want to make it, peach ice cream (an exquisite flavor that’s even hard to come by than store-bought peach pie). You’ll be making summer memories for everyone who tastes it.

This recipe is by Annie of Annie’s Eats, for Go Bold With Butter.

RECIPE: Classic Peach Pie

Ingredients For A 9-Inch Pie

  • 2 rounds basic pie dough (recipe below)
  • 2-1/4 pounds ripe peaches (about 10-12 medium peaches)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Dash of grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  •    

    peach-pie-goboldwithbutter-230

    Serve homemade peach pie with a side of vanilla or peach ice cream. Photo courtesy Anna | Go Bold With Butter.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F and place a baking sheet on the lowest oven rack to catch dripping juices. Roll out half of the pie dough to approximately 12-inches round so that it fully lines a 9-inch pie plate with some overhang. Transfer the lined pie plate to the refrigerator until ready to use.

    2. PREPARE the filling. Peel* the peaches and slice them to 1/4-inch thick slices. In a large bowl, combine the peach slices with the sugar, flour, cornstarch and nutmeg. Toss to coat. Add in the lemon juice and rum and stir once more until well combined.

     
    *If the peaches are not quite ripe or are not peeling easily, score the bottom surface of each with an “X”. Pop them into boiling water for 30 seconds, remove with a skimmer and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. This should help make the peels come off more easily. See “How To Ripen Peaches,” below.

     

    869382-colander-SXC-230

    Peaches fresh from the orchard. Photo by
    Alaina Cherup | SXC.

     

    3. REMOVE the lined pie plate from the refrigerator and pour in the peach filling in an even layer. Dot the top of the peaches with the pieces of cold butter.

    4. ROLL out the remaining pie dough to a 12-inch round. Cut into strips with a pastry cutter or paring knife and weave together to form a lattice top (here are step-by-step photos and instructions.) Trim away excess dough and crimp the edges together. Lightly brush the top and edges of the pie dough with the egg wash.

    5. BAKE for 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 350°F; continue baking until the pie is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 30-40 minutes more. Check on the pie a few times during baking. If it is browning too quickly, tent loosely with foil and continue baking as directed.

    6. REMOVE the finished pie to a wire rack and let cool until just warm, about 2 hours. Slice and serve.

     
    RECIPE: BASIC PIE DOUGH

    Pie crust dough can be made ahead and frozen for up to two months.

    Ingredients For 2 Nine-Inch Pie Crusts

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons very cold water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly to blend. Add in the butter pieces and mix on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the largest butter pieces are not much bigger than peas. Mix in the cold water on low speed just until the dough comes together.

    2. DIVIDE the dough in half and shape into 2 balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

    3. REMOVE dough from the refrigerator. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface. Use as directed in the pie recipe.
     
    HOW TO RIPEN PEACHES

    Simply leave hard peaches on the kitchen counter, but here’s a tip: Set them upside down, on their shoulders instead of their bottoms, not touching one another. If you have a spot where they will receive some direct sunlight, that will speed the ripening (but be sure it’s not hot, baking sunlight).

    To really speed the ripening, place the peaches in a paper bag. The ethylene gas given off by the fruit hastens ripening. A banana added to the bag will provide even more ethylene, for even faster ripening.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Eggplant, Three Ways

    From noodle-free lasagna to vegetable soup or gumbo to a goat cheese and eggplant sandwich, eggplant is a versatile ingredient. It can find its way into caponata*, casseroles, dips, mixed grilled veggies, pasta dishes, stews and more.

    Eggplant is low in calories and fat, while boasting a high fiber content. While available year-round, summer is peak harvesting time for the familiar purple “globe” eggplant, so the prices are the best. Look for shiny, smooth skin that isn’t wrinkled or dimpled.

    Executive Chef Tom Leo of Grecian Delight, producer of delicious Mediterranean specialties, shares his tips for perfecting eggplant preparation, plus a delectable baba ganoush recipe.
     
    *A Sicilian dish of eggplant, tomatoes, capers, pine nuts and basil, usually served as a side dish or relish.

    RECIPE: SIMPLE ROASTED EGGPLANT

    Oven roasted eggplant requires only a few ingredients and simple steps to deliver a rich, smoky flavor.

    Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley etc.
  •    

    roast-eggplant-Elena_Danileiko-230

    Simple roasted eggplant. Dress it up with tomato sauce and cheese. Photo by Elena Danileiko | IST.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. While the oven is heating, trim the stem and the bottom off of the eggplant and cut it in half, lengthwise.

    2. SCORE the flesh of the eggplant, but not all the way through to the skin. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake for 30-40, minutes depending on the size. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

    3. SEASON with salt, pepper, oregano or other favorite spices and herbs. Optionally drizzle with a bit of olive oil or top with crumbled feta, goat cheese or an Italian grating cheese. Or, top with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan for Eggplant Parmesan.
     
    RECIPE: EASY GRILLED EGGPLANT

    The optional yogurt mint sauce can be made two days in advance.

    Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley etc.
  •  
    For The Yogurt-Mint Sauce

  • 7 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  

    homemade  Baba Ghanoush

    Babaganoush, one of our favorite dips. Photo
    © Fanfo | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the yogurt sauce (recipe below).

    2. TRIM the eggplant by cutting off the stem and bottom, then cut the eggplant into thick, one-inch slices.

    3. SEASON the slices with a generous amount of salt and place them on a paper towel-lined sheet or colander for 30 minutes. This is to draw moisture out of the eggplant. Rinse and pat dry.

    4. COAT the sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side. Top with a refreshing yogurt and mint sauce or enjoy it on its own.
     
    Preparation: Yogurt Mint Sauce

    1. COMBINE the green onions, mint, dill, red pepper flakes, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor and puree until into a coarse paste.

    2. ADD the yogurt, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined.

    3. TRANSFER to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop.

     

    RECIPE: PURÉED EGGPLANT DIP, BABAGANOUSH

    Babaganoush (pronounced baba-gah-NOOSH) is hummus’ eggplant cousin, a creamy spread based on eggplant instead of chickpeas. It can be used as a dip or spread, and added to sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.

    Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: chopped parsley
  • Pita, crackers, crudités, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ROAST a whole eggplant (about 1 pound) at 450°F: Prick in several places with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet; bake for 20 minutes and let cool.

    2. CUT the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process until smooth and transfer to a bowl.

    3. COMBINE the garlic and salt until a paste forms; add to the eggplant along with the parsley, tahini and lemon juice. Season to taste.

    4. GARNISH with optional chopped parsley and serve with fresh or toasted pita wedges, pita chips, crackers and/or crudités.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Outer Spice No Salt & Low Salt Spice Blends

    Outer Spice aims to be the gourmet’s version of Mrs. Dash.

    Low Salt and No Salt seasoning blends are made from the finest, quality ingredients. The blends are made from whole, freshly ground herbs and spices.

    The line debuts with two no-salt blends, original and spicy, and two low-salt blends, ditto. The blends are all-natural, gluten-free, free of MSG and rich in antioxidants.

    These well-balanced spice mixes can transform and improve the taste of any dish, without adding any—or much—sodium.

    LOW SALT SPICE BLENDS

    Both low salt versions use pink Himalayan sea salt. They contain 95mg of sodium per serving, 4% Daily Value of sodium.

  • Outer Spice Original Low-Salt is a blend of Himala pink sea salt, garlic, black pepper, onion, allspice, nutmeg, thyme, scallions, red pepper, onion powder, peppers, cinnamon, dill, caraway and spices.
  • Outer Spice Spicy Low-Salt, for those who like a bit of heat, is a blend of Himala pink sea salt, garlic, black pepper, onion, allspice, nutmeg, thyme, scallions, red pepper, onion powder, peppers, cinnamon, dill, caraway, cayenne pepper and spices.
  •  

    outer-spice-no-salt-outerspice-230

    Season your foods with a choice of two blends, regular and spicy, with no salt or low salt. Photo courtesy Outer Spice.

     
    NO SALT SPICE BLENDS

  • Outer Spice Original No Salt is a blend of garlic, black pepper, onion, allspice, thyme, lemon thyme, basil, scallions, red pepper, peppers, dill, caraway, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and other spices.
  • Outer Spice Spicy No Salt kicks it up a notch with chile. It combines garlic, black pepper, onion, allspice, thyme, lemon thyme, basil, scallions, red pepper, peppers, dill, caraway, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and other spices.
  •  
    WAYS TO ENJOY OUTER SPICE

  • Sprinkle on eggs, grains, pastas, salads and vegetables.
  • Rub on beef, chicken, fish and pork.
  • Mix into dips, dressings and marinades.
  • Pick up instead of the salt shaker.
  •  
    A 3.75-ounce jar is $6.99. Gift a bottle to anyone who should be cutting back on salt.
     
    Get yours at OuterSpiceIt.com.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chillsner Beer Cooler

    chillsner-230

    Chill that beer in a minute. Photo
    courtesy Hewy Wine Chillers.

     

    We’re quite enamored of the Corkcicle, a reusable, gel-filled plastic icicle. Kept in the freezer until you need it, it becomes a wine cooler and bottle stopper that chills down a bottle of wine or maintains the temperature of an already chilled bottle.

    Forget a bulky ice bucket: This the perfect way to keep opened bottles of wine at just the right drinking temperature. It’s available in a standard edition, Corkcicle Classic, and a deluxe edition, Corkcicle One, which has a built-in aerator and pouring spout. Either is a great gift for wine lovers.

    Now Corkcicle has a beer brother: the Chillsner, for standard long neck beer bottles. The stainless steel frame contains the same proprietary thermal gel used in the Corkcicle. As with the Corkcicle, you keep the Chillsner in the freezer until you need it; then, simply insert it into the bottle.

    You can place the Chillsner in a warm bottle of beer and immediately sip cold beer through the spout (or pour it into a glass). Or, use the Chillsner to keep a pre-chilled bottle cold.

    If you’re drinking alfresco, the Chillsner also keeps the bugs out.

    Give as a summer gift, or plan for the holidays. Any beer drinker will be delighted.

     

    The list price is $29.95 for a two-unit gift box; but you’ll find the Chillsner for $20.95 on Amazon.com.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook Frozen Steaks

    A tip just heard on the Today Show: A Cook’s Illustrated taste test on cooking frozen versus thawed steaks.

    Conventional wisdom is that frozen meat should be thawed before cooking. But when testing frozen versus thawed strip steaks on the grill, the Cook’s Illustrated test showed that, while they took longer to cook, the frozen steaks were better: juicier and more evenly cooked.

    The technique also produced less overcooked meat, specifically the so-called “gray band” near the seared edge.

    Here’s the step-by-step:

    1. PREHEAT oven to 275° (135°C).

    2. FILL a skillet with 1/8″ oil and heat.

    3. SEAR meat until browned, about 90 seconds per side.

    4. TRANSFER meat to an oven safe wire rack, set upon a rimmed baking sheet.

    5. COOK in the oven to desired doneness, 18 to 20 minutes for a 1-inch-thick steak.

     

    porterhouse-on-grill-omahasteaksFB-230

    But will it work on the grill? Try the test yourself. Photo of Porterhouse steaks courtesy Omaha Steaks.

     
    Here’s the original article, along with a video.

    So try it yourself—not just with steaks but with burgers and other frozen meat and fish. And then, see how it works on the grill, and let us know.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

    cheese-stuffed-portobello-wmmb-230

    A grilled portabella entrée, stuffed with
    bacon, onions, potatoes, cheese and
    prosciutto. Photo courtesy
    EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    For a meaty vegetarian entree, stuff a grilled portabella mushroom. The stuffing can be simple, from breadcrumbs to cheese to salad.

    Or, it can be a complex layering of flavors, as in the recipe below for Grilled Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Bacon And Caramelized Onion Purée, Mashed Potatoes, Wisconsin Fontina Cheese And Sliced Italian Prosciutto.

    The recipe, by Chefs Michael Smith and Debbie Gold, is courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com. While there are several steps, they are easy ones (caramelize the onions, mash the potatoes).

    PORTABELLA, PORTABELLO OR PORTOBELLO?

    How can one mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, be known by so many names? All three spellings are used; we prefer portabella, which flows off the tongue most easily.

    Portabellas are mature cremini mushrooms, tan to brown in color. The immature cremini is variously called a baby portobello, baby bella, brown mushroom, crimini, Italian mushroom, mini bella, portabellini, Roman mushroom, Italian mushroom, or brown mushroom.

    Whew!

     

    Portabellas are meaty in both taste and appearance, with more complex flavors than the young creminis. They can be 3 to 10 inches in diameter; the large portabellas can be grilled or stuffed as an entrée.

    Like meat, portabellas release juices when cooked. Vegetarians enjoy them grilled in lieu of beef, and they make wonderful grilled vegetable sandwiches. They can be served whole or sliced, stuffed or as “burgers.”

    For a simple starter, serve sliced grilled portabellas drizzled with a balsamic reduction. They are available fresh from December to March and cultivated year round.

    Check out the different types of mushrooms in our Mushroom Glossary.

     
    RECIPE: GRILLED STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    This recipe is made with “baby bellas,” three-inch diameter portabellas, and can be served in appetizer portions. But you can use larger portabellas for an entrée.

    Ingredients

    For The Bacon Purée

  • 1 cup diced bacon (about 6 ounces)
  • 4 cups sliced yellow onions
  •  

    For The Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled, diced (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  •  
    For The Grilled Mushrooms

  • 4 baby bella mushrooms, 2-1/2 to 3-inch diameter
  • Olive oil
  • 4 slices Wisconsin fontina cheese, 3 inches square (substitute Emmental, Gruyère, Provalone
  • 4 slices Italian prosciutto
  • 4 wedges radicchio lettuce
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  •  

    Portobello-Mushroom-stuffed-230

    For a simpler preparation or a first course, try this recipe: Portabella stuffed with goat cheese and herbed mesclun. Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the bacon purée: In large heavy skillet, combine bacon and onions. Cook over medium heat until onions are very soft and dark brown. While hot, purée in food processor. Set aside and keep warm. You will need 1 cup purée for this recipe.

    2. MAKE the mashed potatoes: Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Meanwhile, scald heavy cream. Drain and rice potatoes in food mill. Transfer potatoes to large bowl, add cream and stir vigorously. Add butter, continuing to stir potatoes. Stir in olive oil. Adjust seasoning with salt and white pepper. Set aside and keep warm. You will need 3 cups for this recipe.

    3. GRILL the mushrooms: Prepare a hot grill. Remove stems and gills from mushrooms. Brush mushrooms with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill.

    4. STUFF the mushrooms: Fill mushrooms with bacon purée. Spoon a good size dollop of mashed potatoes over the bacon. Top with a slice of cheese and a slice of prosciutto, pleated to fit. Place mushrooms on cooler part of grill until cheese is melted and gooey. While mushrooms are warming, season radicchio with salt and pepper. Grill both sides until slightly wilted and starting to turn brown.

    5. DRESS the salad: In medium bowl, toss grilled radicchio, arugula, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Divide onto four plates. Top each with a stuffed mushroom. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Buy Silly Kitchen Gadgets

    grape-cutter-230

    A special gadget slices grapes in half. A
    better gadget: a sharp knife and a cutting
    board. Photo courtesy OXO.

     

    We have the greatest respect for OXO Good Grips. They, and other manufacturers, produce kitchen gadgets that make food preparation easier.

    But some work better than others. We had great hopes for the mango splitter we purchased; it didn’t work and was promptly donated to Goodwill. While peeling mangoes is a pain, it’s still easier to use a knife and a vegetable peeler.

    Then, starting with the guacamole masher—a device made by Amco and other companies—as well as the separate OXO avocado slicer, without the mashing component, we began to wonder what was going on in the invention of new kitchen gadgets.

    They seemed to be unnecessary—drawer-clutterers that didn’t do any better job than the standard gadgets we already have. Yet, manufacturers won’t make these gadgets unless consumers will buy them.

    With the Caprese salad maker—a tomato and mozzarella slicer from Jed Mart, and another from Rösle—we noticed that things were getting out of hand. If you can’t evenly slice a mozzarella cheese or a tomato, you simply need to practice with a knife.

    A corn stripper/shucker? Don’t even think of it: Some ears of corn are simply too plump to fit through the one-size-does-not-fit-all kernel remover. Here’s how we cut corn kernels from the cob.

     

    The Basics Work Best

    We can’t imagine who would buy gadgets like these, because everyone we know who prepares food at home knows how to hold a knife and slice.

    And that’s all you need: a good knife and a cutting board. So today’s tip is: Please, save your money!

    The gadget that inspired today’s tip is the OXO Good Grips Grape and Small Tomato Slicing Guide (photo above).

    You fill the Guide (the container) with up to 1 cup of grapes, grape tomatoes, or other small fruits like kumquats, pitted cherries or pitted olives.

    Seriously: one cup of grapes or tomatoes? That’s not very much to slice by hand. A sharp kitchen knife will slice them faster and better.

    While we haven’t tried it (we’ve tried too many new-fangled gadgets, with no success), we opine that in the time it takes to load, slice, remove and clean the container, you can slice the grapes on a cutting board with your kitchen knife.

     

    Stop The Insanity

    The next time you’re tempted by a nifty-looking kitchen gadget, ask yourself:

    Will a sharp knife do as well? Then sharpen your knives, or treat yourself to a new paring knife if you must buy something.

    And don’t buy cheap knives: The edge isn’t great to start with, and will dull quickly. It’s no bargain.
     
    The Grand Finale

    A couple of months ago we received this pitch: “Nik of Time, Inc., introduces PantryChic™—a sleek and modern kitchen appliance line designed for precise ingredient measuring and simplified food preparation through its intuitive and innovative engineering. PantryChic promises to re-introduce families to the joy of baking, cooking and sharing a meal by addressing some of the tedious preparation steps to save time and allow for better more consistent results.”

    As you can see in the photo, this comprises a canister on a stand, that you place over a base with a mixing bowl. You dial the amount of flour or other ingredient and it is dispensed into the bowl.

     

    canisters-pantrychic-230

    Does this look like a better option for your kitchen? Photo courtesy Pantrychic.

     

    Seriously once more: Is this an improvement over a conventional canister and a measuring cup? Have we gotten to the point where we can’t scoop and measure with a spatula and achieve “consistent results?”

    And, as the company claims, will this “re-introduce families to the joy of baking?”

    Perhaps we just don’t get it, but you can find out more at PantryChic.com.

    MORE KITCHEN GADGETS TO AVOID.

      

    Comments

    FILM: The Hundred Foot Journey

    THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY

    Papa Kadam (Om Puri) brings his family and
    their cuisine from Mumbai to a small
    French town. Photo courtesy Dreamworks.

     

    We didn’t know about the international best-seller, The Hundred-Foot Journey, a novel by Richard C. Morais. But after seeing the film version twice, we were so captivated that we ordered a copy.

    The main story, of an immigrant Indian restaurant family taking on the finest Michelin restaurant in 50 miles of their town in the south of France, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as a “favorite summer read” in 2010. Oprah brought the book to Steven Spielberg, and we are the beneficiaries of the film, The Hundred Foot Journey. If you love a warm story, beautiful cinematography, spot-on performances and direction and of course, great cuisine, you’ll cherish this charming film.

    Let others write about the cultural divide and the ability to walk in somebody else’s shoes. We’re here for the food, which is glorious. From the just-harvested produce and fresh proteins in the town market, to the activity in the kitchens of two very different restaurants, this film is a feast for food lovers.

    The actual distance from the [fictitious] elegant Michelin one-star Le Saule Pleureur* to the boisterous newcomer, Maison Mumbai, is brief: one hundred feet, says the title. It refers to both the actual distance and the cultural divide and battlefield.
     
    *The Weeping Willow.

     
    But the distance seems shorter. Just walk out the front door of the elegant maison de maître that is Le Saule Pleureur, cross the country road and enter the more modest premises of the upstart neighbor. It’s Pigeon aux Truffes versus Goat Curry.

    There are several journeys: the Kadam family’s, from Mumbai to France; young Hassam’s, from his modest family restaurant to the pursuit of three stars at a top Paris restaurant; the pursuit of the craft of great cuisine; and two love stories. The haughty restaurateur, Madame Mallory, feisty Papa Kadam, and even the beautiful sous-chef in Madame’s kitchen, Marguerite, discover new paths.

     

    The story takes place in the real town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in the south of France.

    The words “charming,” “picturesque” and “quaint” are not clichés here: You will want to go online and book your next vacation. Many of the actual vendors who work in the local market appeared as extras in the film, along with their produce, cheeses, flowers and wines.

    However, as happens in motion pictures, some locations are not what they may seem.

    The center of town is Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val, but the breathtaking outskirts where the two restaurants face off amid green fields, is actually a composite, a miracle of digital art that placed a farmhouse some 10 km away across the street from the 19th century pink mansion that stands in for Le Saule Pleureur.

     

    THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY

    Across the street: one-star French cuisine at the elegant Le Saule Pleurer: Papa, Hassan and Madame Mallory (Om Puri, Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren). Photo courtesy Dreamworks.

     

    This film has received only average reviews from many reviewers. We don’t agree with their comments, and can only imagine that these individuals aren’t interested in chefs, great cuisine or stories built around them.

    To lovers of great cuisine, who thrill to the flavors and aromas of fine kitchens, it’s a sensory delight—a very joyous journey indeed. Not to mention, a fine story that seems very real.

    Directed by Lasse Hallström, the film stars Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal and Charlotte LeBon. But the gifts of all cast members and the production team, tfrom cinematographer Linus Sandgren and production designer David Gropman to the food stylists and the location scouts, deserve three stars.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: S’Mores Pie, Ice Cream Cake & More

    no-bake-smores-pie-browneyedbaker-230

    A no-bake s’mores pie. Photo courtesy Brown
    Eyed Baker.

     

    You don’t need a campfire to celebrate National S’mores Day. Here are recipes that are just as much fun.

    First, a no-bake S’mores Pie, the creation of Brown Eyed Baker, Lauryn Cohen. Here’s her recipe, shown in the photo.

    The marshmallows are browned with a chef’s torch (most popularly used to make crème brûlée).

    Prefer cake to pie? Here’s a S’mores Ice cream Cake recipe from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

    RECIPE: S’MORES ICE CREAM CAKE

    Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs,* divided
  • 1 loaf pound cake or chocolate pound cake
  • 1 rectangular container (1-1/2 quarts) chocolate ice cream
  • 10 ounces mini marshmallows
  • Optional garnish: chocolate sauce
  •  
    *You can substitute a prepared graham cracker crust for the crumbs, sugar and butter. You will still need some graham cracker crumbs for garnish.

    Preparation

    If you have a chef’s torch, use it instead of the broiler in Step 3.

    1. LINE a broiler-safe 8×8-inch glass or metal baking dish with foil, overlapping the edges of the dish with the foil (to help lift out the cake). Cut the pound cake into 1-inch slices (or as thick as desired) and tightly pack into a layer.

    2. SOFTEN the ice cream at room temperature for 5 minutes; remove the carton from the ice cream and cut the ice cream in half. Place both halves on top of the cake layer, trimming as necessary. Use a spatula to press and spread the ice cream evenly. Add a layer of graham cracker crumbs. Cover and freeze solid, 30 minutes or more.

    3. PREHEAT the broiler with the rack in the lower part of oven. Remove the ice cream cake from freezer; top with marshmallows (tightly placed together), spreading to edges of pan, pressing down to seal. Place cake under broiler, 8 to 10 inches from heating element. Broil until marshmallows are puffed and golden, 2 to 3 minutes, watching constantly.

    4. REMOVE from oven, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs and drizzle with optional chocolate sauce. Cut and serve immediately.

     

    RECIPE: S’MORES CUPCAKES

    Ingredients

  • Chocolate cupcakes
  • Marshmallow creme
  • Graham crackers
  • Chocolate bar
  • Optional: mini marshmallows
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BAKE or buy chocolate cupcakes. Frost with marshmallow creme. Add optional mini marshmallows and brown with a chef’s torch.

    2. DECORATE with pieces of chocolate bar and graham cracker.

     
    Ice Cream Cupcakes Variation

    Instead of marshmallow creme, substitute vanilla or marshmallow ice cream. Garnish with mini marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.

     

    smores-cupcake-ps-230

    It’s easy to assemble s’mores cupcakes. Photo courtesy Crumbs.

     

    RECIPE: S’MORES ICE CREAM

    Some brands offer s’mores ice cream; but you can make your own. You get to add your preferred form of marshmallow into this recipe: either a marshmallow creme swirl or mixed-in mini marshmallows.

    Ingredients

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate chips or chunks
  • Graham crackers, crumbled
  • Mini marshmallows or marshmallow creme
  • Optional: waffle cones
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SOFTEN ice cream on counter. If using mini marshmallows, cut them in half in half.

    2. SWIRL marshmallow creme through the ice cream; alternatively, mix mini marshmallows into the ice cream.

    3. MIX in chocolate chips and graham crackers. Return ice cream to freezer.

    4. SERVE in bowls, with chocolate pound cake, or in a waffle cone.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tataki, Plus Salmon Tataki Salad

    tuna-tataki-seared-haru-230

    Tataki means briefly seared. Photo of tuna
    tataki courtesy Haru | NYC.

     

    Tataki, also called tosa-mi, is a Japanese style of preparing fish or meat. The protein is seared very briefly over a hot flame or in a pan, briefly marinated in rice vinegar, sliced thinly and served chilled or at room temperature.

    The traditional presentation includes garnishes of thinly sliced scallions and finely shredded ginger, with soy sauce for dipping.

    The word “tataki,” meaning “pounded,” actually refers to the ginger condiment: It was originally pounded with a mortar and pestle. While some still prepare it that way, modern cooks can choose to purée it in a food processor or grate it with a zester or other fine grater.

    The port of Nagasaki was the first point of entry for foreigners in feudal Japan. Legend says that tataki was developed by Sakamoto Ryoma, a 19th-century samurai, who picked up the European technique of grilling meat from the foreigners in that city.

    In feudal times, bonito (skipjack tuna) was the preferred fish for tataki. Although bonito is still frequently used in Japan, in modern times, ahi tuna and salmon have taken over in popularity. [Source: WiseGeek] Beef, typically filet mignon or sirloin strip, is also be prepared tataki-style.

     

    RECIPE: FISH OR BEEF TATAKI

    1. CUT the fish or beef into thick pieces. Marinate in rice vinegar or mirin (a low-alcohol rice wine).

    2. SEAR each side for five seconds over an open flame or pan-sear on a stovetop burner. The grill or pan should be very hot, and the meat or fish should be quickly seared on all sides to cook only the outer surface, leaving the flesh raw.

    3. COOL the protein in a bowl of ice water; remove, pat dry and thinly slice for serving.
     

    Dipping Sauce

    1. COMBINE equal amounts of soy sauce and rice vinegar, or to taste. Add finely sliced or minced green onion (scallion).

    2. SEASON as desired with grated ginger (you can substitute wasabi).
     
    RECIPE: SALMON TATAKI SALAD

    You don’t have to go to Nobu in Los Angeles to enjoy this delicious salmon tataki salad. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Nobu Magazine, previously published in the Nobu West cookbook:

    “The Salmon Tataki with Paper Thin Salad is a work of art,” says Nobu. “Incorporating skillfully sliced vegetables and seared salmon, this dish is light and flavorful. With a little help from a mandolin slicer and fresh ingredients, you can impress dinner guests with a beautiful and delicious meal.”

     

    As with sushi or beef tartare, the fish or meat needs to be extremely fresh. Asian specialty stores sell frozen tataki fish slices. Vacuum packed and frozen immediately for freshness, they can be a lot more affordable than fresh tuna and salmon.

    Ingredients For 1 Or 2 Servings

  • 7 ounces boneless, skinless fresh salmon fillets
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Jalapeño dressing (recipe below)
  • 2 baby beets
  • 2 baby carrots
  • 2 baby green zucchini
  • 2 baby turnips
  • 4 red radishes (watermelon radishes are ideal)
  • Bowls of ice water
  •  

    salmon-tataki-nobu-3

    This salmon tataki salad is easy to make. Photo courtesy Nobu Magazine.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a nonstick skillet until medium-hot. Season the salmon fillets with black pepper, then sear them for 5 seconds on each side. Make sure the outside is completely seared and turns white. Immediately plunge the seared slices into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry with paper towels, then cover and refrigerate.

    2. PREPARE the salad: Keep the beets to one side. Slice the baby vegetable lengthwise very thinly (about 1/32 inch thick) on a mandolin grater, into a bowl of ice water. Leave them in the ice water for 1 hour; this will cause them to tighten up and become crunchy.

    3. REPEAT the same process with the beets, but place the slices in a separate bowl of water, to stop the color from running into other vegetables. Rinse until the water becomes clear; then add some ice to chill. You might want to wear disposable gloves for this, to prevent staining your hands.

    4. DRAIN the baby vegetables and the beets separately, then mix them together.

    5. POUR some of the dressing on the bottom of a serving dish, so it completely covers the bottom. Cut the chilled seared salmon into slices about 1/4 inch thick and arrange across the middle of the plate, then place the vegetable salad in the middle on top of the salmon.

     
    RECIPE: JALAPEÑO DRESSING

    Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño, seeded (you can substitute cilantro)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 6-1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PROCESS the jalapeño, salt, garlic, and vinegar in a food processor until well mixed and the jalapeño is finely chopped. Slowly add the grapeseed oil and process until well blended.

      

    Comments

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