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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
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TIP OF THE DAY: Key Limes Are In Season

persian-key-napkins-230

Darker green Persian/Tahitian limes and the
smaller, yellower Key limes. Photo by Evan
Dempsey | THE NIBBLE.

 

We love the filling of Key lime pie. Not especially a crust fan, we often make the filling alone, to serve crustless in pots de crème or ramekins.

If you’ve had Key lime pie made with fresh-squeezed, as opposed to bottled, juice, you know what an exquisite difference that is. But for many years, Key limes weren’t available nationwide, and then, they were limited to their season of June through August.

So great is America’s love of Key lime pie that the fruits are now available year-round. That means no more bottled juice!

Key limes (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle), also known as Mexican limes and West Indies limes, are grown in the Florida Keys, Mexico and the West Indies. They are much smaller than standard supermarket limes, known as Persian or Tahitian limes (Citrus x latifolia). You can see the relative sizes in the photo. (See all the different types of limes in our Lime Glossary.

About the size of a ping pong ball, the Key lime is rounder and more fragrant than the Persian/Tahitian lime, with a much thinner rind. It has more seeds, and we’ll keep it that way: Breeding out features like seeds tends to breed out flavor as well.

But the real reason people love Key lime is that it’s less acidic than the Persian/Tahitian: pleasantly tart rather than puckery sour. It makes a big difference in a dessert. You can make Key lime pie with regular lime juice, but it will have more tang.

 

When purchasing Key limes, don’t worry if the skin is more yellow than green, or vice versa. Choose limes that are heavy for their size, which indicates more juice. The limes can be kept at room temperature for several days, or will keep for a week or more in the fridge (keep them in a plastic storage bag or wrap them in plastic wrap).

As a general tip, before you juice limes or any citrus, bring them to room temperature; then roll them on the counter under firm pressure from your hand. This will release more juice from the sacs.
 
THE HISTORY OF KEY LIMES

The Key lime, a.k.a. Mexican lime and West Indies lime, originated in neither the Florida Keys nor Mexico nor the West Indies, but in the Indo-Malayan region of southern Asia. It was unknown in Europe before the Crusades and is presumed to have been brought to North Africa and the Near East by Arabs.

It was brought by European Crusaders from Palestine to the Mediterranean countries. In the mid-13th century, the lime was cultivated and well-known in Italy and probably also in France. It was taken to the Americas by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the early part of the 16th century, where it became naturalized in southern Florida, notably in the Florida Key. It was grown in southern Florida at least since the early half of the 1800s, often as an ornamental yard tree.

By 1883 Key limes were being grown commercially on a small scale. When pineapple cultivation was abandoned in the Florida Keys because of soil depletion and the 1906 hurricane, farmers began to plant Key limes as a substitute crop. Because transporting delicate fruit was iffy in those days, Key limes were pickled in salt water and shipped north, where they became a popular children’s snack. (Remember Amy March in Little Women pining for pickled limes?)

 

HOW TO USE KEY LIMES

Use them wherever you might use regular lime juice: in cocktails like Gin & Tonics and Margaritas, in salad dressings (including fruit salad, where just a squeeze will suffice), on chicken and fish/seafood, in marinades, sauces and soups.

But the flavors soar in desserts. Try these Key Lime Bars (recipe adapted from Martha Stewart).

 
RECIPE: KEY LIME BARS

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 2-1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice (about 23 limes)
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish: 2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons
  •  

    Key-Lime-Pie-Bars-mybakingaddiction-230

    Replace the ubiquitous lemon bars with Key lime bars. This recipe from My Baking Addition incorporates coconut into the crust. Photo courtesy My Baking Addition.
    .

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. MIX the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Do not turn off the oven.

    2. MAKE the filling: Put the egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium. Add the condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise the speed to high and mix until thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low. Add lime juice and mix until just combined.

    3. SPREAD the filling evenly over the crust with a spatula. Bake until the filling is just set, about 10 minutes, rotating the baking dish halfway through. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Cut into 2-inch-square bars. Ungarnished bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.

    4. MAKE the optional whipped cream prior to serving. Place the cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Garnish the bars with whipped cream and serve.
    Cook’s Note

     
    MORE KEY LIME RECIPES

  • Key Lime Pie Recipe
  • Key Lime Pot de Creme Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: An Ice Cream Cake For National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

    strawberry-shortcake-ice-cream-waitrose-recipe-230

    Celebrate National Strawberry Ice Cream Day! Photo courtesy Waitrose.

     

    January 15th is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day. We love this easy strawberry ice cream cake adapted from British upscale grocery giant Waitrose. The company has a royal warrant to supply groceries, wine and spirits to Queen Elizabeth II and to Prince Charles.

    In this recipe, shortbread cookies substitute for the cake; but if you prefer, you can substitute finely cubed pound cake. You also can use strawberry ice cream instead of the vanilla.

    This dessert is also spot-on for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and summer celebrations. Prep time is 15 minutes plus several hours or overnight for freezing.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE ICE CREAM “CAKE”

    Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1 pint strawberries, washed, patted dry and hulled
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream
  • 7 ounces all butter shortbread cookies, broken into small pieces
  • 4 tablespoons caramel sauce (or fudge sauce if you prefer)
  • Optional garnish: caramel sauce or strawberry purée
  •  
    Preparation

    1. THINLY SLICE 4 of the strawberries and roughly chop the remainder. Line a loaf pan with a double layer of plastic wrap, allowing for some overhang. Arrange the sliced strawberries on the bottom (it will become the top when unmolded).

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP the ice cream using a large knife, then mix it with the chopped strawberries and the shortbread pieces. Spoon half of the mixture into the loaf pan, patting down firmly so there are no air bubbles.

    3. DOT the caramel sauce on top of the ice cream, then cover with the remainder of the mixture, firmly smoothing over the surface. Fold over the overhanging plastic wrap and place the pan in the freezer for several hours or overnight, until the ice cream very firm.

    4. TO SERVE: Gently lift out the ice cream using the plastic wrap as handles, and remove the plastic wrap. Allow to soften for 10–15 minutes as needed; then cut slices with a large knife.

    5. PLATE the slices with an optional drizzle or dotting (use a squeeze bottle to create dots around the rim of the plate) of caramel sauce or strawberry purée.

     
    More than 5,000 recipes can be found at Waitrose.com/recipes.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Romanesco, Neither Broccoli Nor Cauliflower

    Isn’t it beautiful?

    Romanesco looks like it’s been sculpted by an artist. It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetables family (Brassicaceae) that includes broccoli and cauliflower, among others. If it seems exotic, that’s because we rarely find it in U.S. markets. But romanesco grown in California is in season now.

    In the U.S., it’s also called broccoflower, Roman broccoli, romanesco broccoli, romanesque cabbage and romanesque cauliflower. So is it broccoli or cauliflower? Actually, it’s neither.

    Remember high school botany taxonomy: kingdom, order, family, genus, species and sometimes, subspecies? The Brassica genus is unusual in that instead of individual species, it bundles its members into one species. Thus, the species Brassica oleracea includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe) and turnips. What might be called a subspecies elsewhere are known here as cultivars, and don’t have a separate botanical name.*

    So the answer is: romanesco is neither broccoli nor cauliflower; it is its own cultivar. While you’ll see it called broccoli or cauliflower, you now know better.

       

    romanesco-melissas-230sq

    If you can’t find it locally, order romanesco online as a special treat. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    Botanists believe that Italian farmers in the 16th century developed romanesco through cross-breeding (it was initially called broccolo romanesco). As with cauliflower or broccoli, the pointy “florets” (often called fractals after fractal art) that comprise the head are of varying sizes. They are actually individual buds of the plant’s flower.

    Romanesco tastes more like cauliflower, with a nutty, earthy flavor nuance and a crunchier texture. It is about the same size of a regular head of cauliflower. There is also a smaller variety, which is about half the size. The pale green shade keeps its color through cooking.

    Look in your farmers markets or specialty produce stores; the crops from California are in. You can treat yourself or send a gift from Melissas.com.

     

    romanesco-simplymcghie.blogspot-230r

    It’s almost to pretty to cut! Enjoy it as a centerpiece for a day or two. Photo courtesy SimplyMcGhie.Blogspot.com.

     

    HOW TO SERVE ROMANESCO

    Romanesco can be served raw, lightly cooked, or cooked through, and can be substituted in any recipe calling for cauliflower or broccoli. It’s a shame to destroy the architecture by dicing or puréeing: We wouldn’t want to turn it into soup, for example, when we could use regular cauliflower. Instead, consider:

  • Crudités
  • Lightly steamed (recipe)
  • Marinated
  • Mixed vegetable salads (with mixed greens or other vegetables)
  • Roasted
  • Sautéed (here’s an easy recipe with garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese)
  •  
    RECIPE: ROMANESCO SALAD

    This recipe is from Mariquita Farm in Watsonville, California, which grows romanesco.

     
    Ingredients

  • 1 head romanesco
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or other favorite olive, pitted and sliced
  • Capers, 1 tablespoon per 4 cups of florets
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion or to taste: green onion, red onion, shallot
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (basil, cilantro and/or parsley are our favorites here)
  • Lemon juice vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: shaved Parmesan or crumbled Gorgonzola
  • Optional garnish: toasted sunflower seeds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY STEAM the florets to desired consistency. While you can use them raw, a blanching or light steaming makes the texture more uniform with the other ingredients.

    2. TOSS with the other ingredients and the vinaigrette, taking care not to damage the pointy “fractals.” Serve chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: LEMON VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the lemon juice, zest, mustard, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended.

    2. TASTE and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle over the salad and toss to coat thoroughly.
     
    WHY ARE CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES SO GOOD FOR YOU?

    The Brassicaceae family of vegetables contains powerful antioxidants that prevent the build-up of free radicals, atoms with unpaired electrons in the body that are destructive, engendering disease.

    Along with their nutritional elements, cruciferous vegetables aid with alkalinization (making the body less acidic), bone health, cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction and detoxification (neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants). The high fiber content aids in digestion, heart health, lowering blood sugar, reducing allergy reactions and inflammation, and more.

     
    *Other members of Brassicaceae belong to a different genus. These include arugula, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, cress, daikon, horseradish, mizuna, radish, rutabaga, tatsoi and wasabi.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: WTRMLN WTR

    Back in 2006, we reviewed a wonderful product called Sundia Watermelon Juice. It was celestial, tasting like fresh-squeezed watermelon.

    Alas, the company discontinued the product, and it took until 2014 for another commercial brand to come our way.

    World Waters debuted its WTRMLN WTR (someone’s idea—not ours—of a clever way to spell “Watermelon Water”). The product was named “Best Juice” at the recent BevNET Best of 2014 Awards.

    WTRMLN WTR is an all natural cold-pressed watermelon water that is more than refreshing: It’s packed with electrolytes (the same amount as coconut water and six times the electrolytes of sports drinks) and L-citrulline, a powerful amino acid that aids in workout performance and muscle recovery. Vitamin C and lycopene contribute antioxidant and anti-inflammatory health benefits.

    There’s no added sugar. The product is certified kosher by OU.

    WTRMLN WTR is a pleasant departure from the never-ending stream of coconut waters we are pitched.

    The line debuted New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Los Angeles, expanding to San Francisco and other areas this year.

     

    wtrmln-wtr-bottle-glass-arizona-230

    Drink your watermelon. Photo courtesy World Waters.

     
    A 12-ounce bottle is $4.99 at Whole Foods Markets and other fine retailers. You can buy it online at WtrmlnWtr.com, 12 bottles for $72.

    So is it as heavenly as Sundia’s version? Not to us: It tastes more “green,” which may or may not be due to the varying sweetness levels of watermelon, or the fact that watermelon rind is pressed along with the flesh.

    But it’s still grab-and-go watermelon juice. If your only other option is to juice your own, WTRMLN WTR is a great choice.

    Discover more at WTRMLNWTR.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Make Cream From Milk

    cream-cartons-wmmb-230

    No cream? No problem! Make it from milk
    and butter. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    Here’s a fun kitchen trick. Say you need some heavy cream for a recipe (or even a cup of coffee), but have none.

    If you have whole milk and unsalted butter, you can combine them to make cream. The difference between milk and cream is the amount of butterfat. The butter, which is at least butterfat, supplies what the milk lacks.

    This recipe makes heavy cream, approximately 36% butterfat.

     
    HOW TO MAKE HEAVY CREAM AT HOME

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop.

    2. PLACE in a mixing bowl with the milk.

    3. BLEND with electric beaters or an immersion blender.

    It’s that simple!

     

    BUTTERFAT CONTENT

    Butterfat, also called milkfat, is the fatty portion of milk. The components of milk include:

  • Carbohydrate, 4.9% (this is lactose, or milk sugar)
  • Fat, 3.4% (approximately 65% saturated fat, 29% monounsaturated fat and 6% polyunsaturated fat)
  • Protein, 3.3% (82% casein and 18% whey)
  • Water, 87%
  • Vitamins (cobalamin [vitamin B12], folate, niacin [vitamin B3], pantothenic acid [vitamin B5], pyridoxine [vitamin B6], thiamin [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2, vitamins C, D, E and K)
  • Minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc)
  • Minor biological proteins and enzymes (lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, lipases, lactase) [Source]
  •  

    Dairy Products; milk,cheese,ricotta, yogurt and butter

    It’s easy to make cream from milk and butter. Photo © Siberkorn | DRM .

     
    The USDA imposes federal standards for the minimum butterfat content of commercial dairy products. Here are the standards:
     

    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF BUTTER

  • Butter, including whipped butter, must contain at least 80% butterfat.
  •  
    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF CREAM

  • Half and half contains 10.5%–18% butterfat.
  • Light cream and sour cream contain 18%–30% butterfat.
  • Light whipping cream (often called simply “whipping cream”) contains 30%–36% butterfat.
  • Heavy cream contains a minimum of 36% butterfat.
  •  
    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF MILK

  • Skim milk contains less than 0.5% butterfat, typically 0.1%.
  • Lowfat milk (1% and 2% varieties) contain between .5% and 2% butterfat.
  • Whole milk contains at least 3.25% butterfat.
  •  
    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF CHEESE

  • Dry curd and nonfat cottage cheese contain less than 0.5% butterfat.
  • Lowfat cottage cheese contains .5%–2% butterfat.
  • Cottage cheese contains at least 4% butterfat.
  • Swiss cheese contains at least 43% butterfat relative to the total solids.
  • Cheddar cheese contains at least 50% butterfat relative to the total solids.
  •  
    BUTTERFAT CONTENT OF FROZEN DESSERTS

  • Sherbet contains 1%–2% butterfat.
  • Lowfat ice cream, also called ice milk, contains no more than 2.6% butterfat.
  • Ice cream contains at least 10% butterfat.
  • Frozen custard contains at least 10% butterfat, but it also must contain at least 1.4% egg yolk solids.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Savory Squash Cobbler With Cheddar Chive Biscuits

    squash-cobbler-goboldwbutter-230r

    The cobbler biscuits look familiar, but
    underneath is a savory vegetable blend
    instead of sweet fruit. Photo courtesy Go
    Bold With Butter.

     

    We never even thought of a savory cobbler before seeing this recipe from Taylor Takes a Taste on GoBoldWith Butter.com.

    A cobbler is a fruit dish cooked in a casserole. Shortcake batter or biscuit dough is dropped onto the fruit before baking. The dish got its name because the lumps of cooked dough resembled cobblestones.

    So it’s a short leap to substitute vegetables for the fruit and have a delicious savory cobbler.

    You don’t have to wait for the warm weather to make this Summer Squash Cobbler. It makes a great side dish for a weekday family meal or a large gathering. You can add optional chicken, ham, tofu or other protein cubes.

    In the original recipe, zucchini, yellow squash, and sweet summer corn are sautéed with onions and tossed with Parmesan cheese. You can substitute winter vegetables in the off season.

    This delicious filling is then topped with a layer of buttery cheddar and chive biscuits. Any leftovers are delicious the next day.

    For this recipe, prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 1 hour, 10 minutes

     
    RECIPE: SUMMER SQUASH COBBLER

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

    For The Squash Mixture

  • 5 cups chopped zucchini (bite size pieces)
  • 5 cups chopped yellow squash (bite size pieces)
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (you can substitute something else when corn is not in season—edamame, lima beans, peas, etc.)
  • 3/4 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for casserole pan
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Optional: 2 cups cubed ham or other protein
  •  
    For The Biscuits

  • 4 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups buttermilk
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°degrees. Butter a 9×13 casserole dish. Set aside.

    2. MELT melt 4 tablespoons of butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft. Raise heat to medium high and add zucchini and yellow squash. Stirring constantly, cook squash for 5 minutes.

    2. ADD corn, chicken stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook vegetables, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from heat and let them cool to room temperature. While vegetables are cooling…

    3. MAKE the biscuit dough. Place the self-rising flour in large bowl. Add the cayenne pepper. Stir until flour mixture is well blended. Cut cold butter into 16 pieces and add to flour mixture. Using pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Add grated cheese and chives to flour mixture and stir until well mixed.

    4. MAKE a well in the center of the flour. Add 1-1/2 cups of buttermilk and pull the flour from sides of bowl toward the center. Stir until dough starts to form. If the mixture seems too dry, add additional buttermilk.

     

    camouflage-zucchini-burpee-basket-230

    Pretty camouflage zucchini. The seeds are available from Burpee.com. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    5. KNEAD the dough in the bowl for 2 or 3 turns until a ball forms. Remove dough from bowl and place on floured surface. Pat dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/2-inch thick. Let the dough rest for a moment while preparing cobbler filling.

    6. MIX the Parmesan cheese and flour together in small bowl. Add the Parmesan mixture to the cooled squash mixture and stir to blend. Empty the squash filling into prepared casserole pan, smoothing into even layer.

    7. CUT the biscuit dough into circles. Place the biscuits on surface of squash so that edges of biscuits are just touching each other.

    8. BAKE the cobbler at 400°F for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes, until squash is soft. Cover the top of the cobbler with foil if the biscuits begin to brown too much.

    9. REMOVE the casserole from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Global Foods To Try This Year

    causa-perudelifhts-230

    Causa: humble mashed potatoes are
    transformed into a snazzy appetizer or side.
    Photo courtesy PeruDelights.com.

     

    For more than 15 years, the magazine Flavor & The Menu has been the trusted authority on flavor trends for food and beverage menu developers. Here’s their list of 10 items from around the world that are “primed for carrying a new wave of global flavors” in 2015.

    You don’t have to wait for your local restaurants to feature these foods. You can find recipes online and be the trendsetter in your area.

    Bobo Chicken From China

    Like food on a stick? Not to be confused with the Brazilian dish, Chicken Bobó, this spicy snack and street food comprises skewers of chicken, often with vegetables, are marinated in sauces teeming with Sichuan peppers, grilled, then served at room temperature. It can be plated at home without the skewers, with rice or noodle. Here’s more.
     
    Causa From Peru

    Love potatoes? This popular potato dish, served cold or room temperature, is composed of mashed potatoes, sometimes seasoned with lime, onion and chiles, stuffed with various ingredients, then formed into cakes or terrines. Here’s a recipe from PeruDelights.com.

     
    Cemita From Mexico

    This torta from Puebla, Mexico, is a sandwich on a brioche-like roll that is also called cemita. The sandwich is filled with avocado, meat (carnitas, beef Milanesa and pulled pork are popular) plus a fresh white cheese like panela. Here’s a recipe.

     

    Feijoada From Brazil

    If there’s a Brazilian restaurant in your area, it most likely serves feijoada, pronounced fay-ZHWAH-dah. The national dish of Brazil is a rich, smoky stew of black beans, salted pork, bacon, smoked pork ribs, sausage and jerked beef. It’s a one-bowl, comfort-food meal. You can make it at home and serve with sides like fried plantains, hot pepper sauce, pork rinds and stewed greens. Here’s a recipe.
     
    Medianoche From Cuba

    A variation of the popular Cubano pork sandwich, the Medianoche (which means “midnight,” as it was a snack that followed a night of dancing) switches out the crusty French bread for a soft, sweet, yellow egg dough bread. It’s often smaller than the typical Cuban sandwich. It’s easy to make: Just combine roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, sliced pickles and mustard on sweet Cuban bread (no lettuce, no tomato, no mayo!). Here’s the recipe.

     

    Okonomiyaki from Japan

    These savory pancakes are typically made with white flour, grated yam and dashi. Toppings and batters can vary but generally stay on the savory side. Examples include shrimp, green onion and pickled vegetables. The name is a combination of okonomi, “what you like” or “what you want” and yaki, meaning grilled or cooked. Here’s a recipe.
     
    Paratha From India

    Available at any Indian restaurant, this unleavened flatbread from India is traditionally pan-fried. It can be eaten plain, like any flatbread; but it is popularly turned into the Indian version of a knish, filled with boiled potatoes, vegetables, radishes or paneer cheese. Crisp, flaky and endlessly customizable, here’s a recipe.
     
    Piada From Italy

    Also called piadina, this Italian street food, originally from the Emilia-Romagna region, is a thin flatbread that serves as a wrap for fillings: cheeses, cold cuts and vegetables as well as with sweet fillings such as jam or Nutella. Here’s a recipe.

     

    popiah-spring-roll-rasamalaysia-230

    Popiah, a Malaysian spring roll. Photo courtesy Rasa Malaysia.

     

    Popiah From Malaysia

    Malaysia’s answer to the fresh spring roll, the popiah has a thin wrapping, often made with tapioca flour and egg, that is rolled around a variety fillings (shrimp, jicama and fried shallots are popular). Dipping sauces range from sweet to spicy to savory. In mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan there are home-based popiah parties, where the ingredients are laid out and guests roll their own popiah to their own personal liking. Spring roll lovers: This one’s for you. Here’s a recipe.
     
    Simit From Turkey

    A kind of Turkish sesame bagel—but so much more intensely sesame—the simit is a ring of chewy dough that’s perfect for breakfast. In Turkey, it’s purchased as a street food on the way to work or during the day as a snack bread. In the U.S., it’s been turned into a base for sandwiches (see our simit article and the difference between simits and bagels). Here’s a recipe.

    Here’s the full article, with many more ideas on how to enjoy these global delights.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Better-For-You Mac & Cheese

    White_Cheddar_Mac_and_Cheese-mccormick-230

    Mac and cheese with less guilt. Photo courtesy Nicole Morrissey | Prevention RD.

     

    While your January better eating resolutions are still active, consider this remake of a family favorite recipe, macaroni and cheese. This mac and cheese recipe is better for you in three ways. It uses:

  • Whole wheat macaroni.
  • Reduced fat milk and cheese.
  • Cauliflower puréed into the cheese sauce, thickening it without the butter-flour roux (it also adds fiber).
  •  
    RECIPE: BETTER-FOR-YOU MAC & CHEESE

    Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1 package (16 ounces) whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups reduced fat 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (3-1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces reduced fat white Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 ounces (1/4 package) Neufchâtel cheese (1/3 less fat than cream cheese), softened
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta in large saucepan as directed on the package for al dente pasta. Drain well and return to the saucepan. Keep warm. Meanwhile…

    2. MIX the milk and flour in a medium saucepan with a wire whisk. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Add the cauliflower florets; cook 12 to 15 minutes or until fork-tender, stirring occasionally.

    3. PURÉE the mixture in batches in blender on high speed until smooth, with the center part of the cover removed to let steam escape. Return the puréed mixture to the saucepan. (Alternatively, purée the mixture in a saucepan with an immersion blender.)

    4. STIR in the remaining ingredients; whisk until smooth. Pour the cheese mixture over the hot cooked macaroni; mix well. Let stand 2 minutes before serving.
     
    Variations

    You can customize the recipe with some equally good for you ingredients that add flavor and color. Mix them in or use them as a garnish.

  • Capers
  • Chopped herbs: basil, parsley
  • Caramelized onions
  • Chopped red onion
  • Diced pimento (roasted red pepper)
  • Diced fresh tomatoes or quartered cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced green onion (scallions)
  • Sliced olives
  • Sliced green onion (scallions)
  •  
    Idea: Set the options out in ramekins and let everyone customize his or her own recipe.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Fish Or Chicken With Salsa

    Salsa has been America’s favorite condiment since 2000, when it supplanted ketchup in sales. But it actually has been a favorite condiment for thousands of years.

    The wild chile was domesticated about 5200 B.C.E. and tomatoes by 3000 B.C.E., both in Central America. The two ingredients were combined into a condiment, incorporating other ingredients like squash seeds and even beans (the predecessor of one of our favorites, tomato, corn and bean salsa). The Spanish conquistadors, taking over in 1529, called it “salsa,” the Spanish word for sauce.

    Salsa was not used as a dip for tortilla chips, which weren’t invented until the late 1940s in Los Angeles. It was a general sauce for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. (Here are the history of salsa and the history of tortilla chips.)

    So today’s tip is: Take salsa back to its origins and use it as a sauce for fish and poultry. Here’s the easiest way, from Jillipepper, a New Mexico-based salsa maker.

  • Fish steaks or fillets, 4-6 ounces each
  • 1 salsa, jar or homemade
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRUSH the fish liberally with the salsa.

       

    montreal-salsa-chicken-mccormick-230

    Salsa-coated chicken. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    2. COOK on a grill over medium heat or under the broiler. Turn and brush with salsa every 5 minutes until fish is done.
     

    When you use salsa with chicken or fish, it can be traditionally savory, or sweetened with fruit. (See the different types of salsa.)
     

    SWEET SALSA

    If you like things sweet—and easy—McCormick has a popular Salsa Chicken recipe that combines canned tomatoes with apricot preserves, and a Montreal Salsa Chicken that combines mild salsa with peach preserves.

    Both of those combine tomatoes with fruit, but you can also make a pure fruit salsa with no tomatoes.

    Peach salsa is the best-selling fruit salsa flavor in the U.S., beating mango and pineapple. While most bottled peach salsa is tomato-based salsa roja, you can make fresh peach salsa without tomatoes. Wait for peach season, though; then combine 2 cups peeled, finely diced peaches, 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion, 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 de-seeded and finely chopped jalapeño, juice of 1 lime, 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or basil leaves and 1 clove minced garlic. Add salt to taste.

    Mango pineapple salsa is also easy to whip up. Combine 1 diced mango and 2 cups of diced pineapple with ½ medium onion, diced; ½ cup cilantro, diced; the juice of one lime, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add minced jalapeño for heat.

    Cherry salsa goes nicely with chicken or fish. You can use fresh cherries in season, but frozen cherries work fine. Here’s a salmon recipe with cherry mango salsa.

    And when watermelon season returns, how about a watermelon, corn and black bean salsa?

     

    Grilled fish with a savory salsa. Photo from the cookbook, South American Grill, courtesy Rizzoli USA.

     

    SAVORY SALSA

    We prefer a largely savory salsa with grilled fish, sometimes with diced fruit—mango, peach or pineapple tossed in for balance, but never, ever with added sugar.

    While you can use salsa from a jar, making your own is easy and you can customize it with your favorite ingredients. You can also create your preferred texture, from chunky hand-diced to puréed in the blender.

    The possible combinations are [almost] endless”

    POSSIBLE SALSA INGREDIENTS

  • Tomatoes: in the off season, use cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit: grape, mango, melon, peach, pineapple or other fruit
  • Onions: green onion, red onion, sweet onion
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley
  • Acid: wine vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice
  • Heat: jalapeño or other fresh chile
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic
  • Enhancements: black beans, capers, corn kernels, gherkins, olives
  •  

    HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 pounds tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • Optional: 1/2 pound diced fruit
  • 1/2 small red onion (more to taste), small dice
  • 2 or 3 small jalapeño chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 of a lemon or lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup or more cilantro (if you don’t like cilantro, substitute parsley)
  • 2 splashes of red wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
     
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems from the cilantro. Remove the white membrane and seeds from the jalapeños and mince the flesh.

    2. COMBINE the tomatoes, fruit, onions, jalapeño and garlic. Add the seasonings (vinegar, citrus juice, salt, pepper, cilantro) and toss to thoroughly combine. Allow flavors to blend for a half hour or more (overnight is fine); then taste and adjust seasonings. You may want more vinegar, more jalapeño, etc.

    3. Pulse until desired consistency.
     
    This is making us hungry. Guess what we’re having for lunch!

      

  • Comments

    FOOD FUN: Sushi Lollipops

    Here’s a fun idea from RA Sushi in Orlando: sushi lollipops!

    While you may not have the skill to roll your own, it’s easy enough to buy ready-made sushi rolls and add this special spin to enjoy with cocktails.

    Just pick up some bamboo skewers and mix a dipping sauce. It could be as simple as soy sauce and wasabi or soy sauce, grated ginger, sesame seeds and minced chives (wasabi optional).

    Depending on the rolls, you could use sweet chili sauce or citrussy ponzu sauce.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade ponzu sauce—so much more delicious than store-bought (except for the deluxe ponzu sauce from Yakami Orchard).

    As always, have fun with it!

     

    sushi-lollipops-RASushi-orlando-230sq

    Sushi lollipops with a sweet chili dipping sauce. Photo courtesy RA Sushi | Orlando.

     

      

    Comments

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