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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 Recipes

TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Fresh Spring Peas

Lovers of green peas (also called English peas and garden peas), you’re in for a treat. Spring is the season.

It’s time to serve sides of fresh-steamed green peas and make some delicious fresh pea soup.

But what else should you be doing with these bright green jewels? Their sweet flavor and bright color can grace your table in so many other ways.

You can use almost any cooking method, from boiling, braising or microwaving, to sautéing, steaming and stir-frying. Add them raw to salads and pop them into your mouth as a snack.

They take only a few minutes to cook. In fact, you need to watch them to avoid ending up with mushy peas (if this happens, make a quick pea purée; and if they’ve lost their bright hue, add a teeny drop of food color). We aim for “al dente.”

Create recipes with these flavor accents:

  • Cured meats: bacon, chorizo, pancetta, prosciutto, smoked ham
  • Fresh herbs: basil, chervil, dill, mint, tarragon
  •    

    English-peas-3-thechefsgarden-230w

    Fresh picked and divine. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden.

  • The onion group: chives, garlic, green onions, leeks, ramps (spring onion), shallots; red, yellow or white onions
  • Proteins: chicken, duck, lamb, fish (especially cod and, salmon), seafood (especially scallops), tofu
  • Spring produce: asparagus, fava beans, fennel, fiddlehead ferns, Meyer lemon, morels, mustard greens
  •  
    We can’t think of anything more delicious than fresh peas with asparagus, fiddleheads, morels and ramps—or as many of these as you can get hold of—sautéed with garlic in olive oil. Garnish with a chiffonade of fresh mint.

    Don’t dally: The season is short! For inspiration, here are just ways to use the bounty of fresh peas.
     
    GREEN PEAS AT BREAKFAST

  • In an omelet
  • As a side with fried, poached or scrambled eggs
  • Atop Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
  • In a green smoothie
  •  
    GREEN PEAS AT LUNCH

  • In macaroni, potato or rice/grain salad
  • In a green salad or Greek salad*
  • Pea soup (try a spring recipe, with fresh mint)
  • Spicy fresh pea salad (recipe)
  •  
    Plus:

  • As a snack, raw
  •  
    *Romaine, bell pepper, red onion and feta, with a fresh dill garnish. Add some lemon zest to the vinaigrette.

     

    ricotta-pea-toast-chalkpointkitchen-230

    Easy, peasy: an appetizer or snack of crostini
    with ricotta and fresh peas. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen |
    NYC.

     

    GREEN PEAS AT DINNER

  • Asian style: blanched or sautéed with ginger; then tossed with a soy, wasabi, ginger and garlic marinade
  • Bibb or butter lettuce salad with radish and green onion (scallion)
  • Blended half-and-half with cooked rice or other grain, topped with grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Spring pea risotto, with pancetta or bacon plus garlic and onion
  • Cooked in olive oil and stock (recipe)
  • Pasta, especially with a white or olive oil sauce (add some prosciutto, bacon or a few grilled shrimp)
  • Pea & mint soup
  • Pea pesto, as a sauce or dip (recipe)
  • Pea purée as a side
  • Quickly sautéed in olive oil or steamed and tossed with butter
  •  

    RECIPE: GREEN PEA & RICOTTA TOAST

    Enjoy this for breakfast, as a first course or a snack. We chose a rustic Italian loaf with sesame seeds, but any peasant bread will do.

    Ingredients

  • Rustic bread loaf
  • Ricotta cheese (see if you can find it freshly made, at a cheese store or Italian market)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Green peas
  • Optional: lemon zest
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: baby arugula, pea shoots, microgreens or sprouts
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STEAM the peas to al dente and let cool. Combine the ricotta with salt, pepper and lemon zest to taste. Stir in peas to taste (few or many).

    2. TOAST the bread and slice as desired (depending on the diameter of the loaf, cut the toast into manageable pieces).

    3. SPREAD toast with the pea-ricotta mixture. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Garnish and serve.
     
    HOW TO BUY & STORE FRESH PEAS

    Buying Fresh Peas

    For the best flavor, choose small peas. They’re younger, sweeter and more tender than large ones. Look for medium-size pods that are firm and green, with no yellowing. Break open a pod and check the peas. They should be small, bright green and firm. Taste the peas in the pod: They should be tender and sweet.

    Freshness counts. As with corn, once picked the peas’ high sugar content begins to convert to starch. Don’t pay for mature peas. You might as well use frozen peas.

    Don’t pay extra for shelled peas. You don’t know how fresh they are; and since you aren’t shelling peas day in, day out, it’s a fun activity.
     
    Storing Fresh Peas

  • Store the pods in the crisper drawer of the fridge in a plastic storage bag. Use them within two days.
  • Once they’re shelled, the best way to store peas is to freeze them. First blanch them for a minute or two in boiling salted water and then shock them in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking and maintain ther bright color. Drain and freeze them in freezer storage bags for up to six months.
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Spinach Day

    Popeye may have enjoyed his spinach straight from the can, but for today, National Spinach Day, we can come up with 20 better suggestions.

    BREAKFAST

  • Spinach omelet or fritatta (recipe)
  • Eggs Benedict With Spinach (recipe)
  •  
    DIPS & SPREADS

  • Green Mayonnaise (Julia Child’s recipe)
  • Spinach Dip With Walnuts (recipe)
  • Spinach Pesto (substitute spinach for the basil in this recipe)
  • Warm Crab & Spinach Dip (recipe)
  • Warm Spinach & Mascarpone Dip (recipe)
  • 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip Or Spread
  •  
    LUNCH & FIRST COURSES

  • Curried Spinach Tart (recipe)
  • Grilled Cheese With Spinach (recipes)
  • Mac & Cheese With Spinach (recipe)
  • Spanakopita (Greek spinach pie—recipe)
  •    

    spinach-mascarpone-dip-vermontcreamery-230

    A warm spinach dip, creamy with mascarpone cheese. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    beet-spinach-apple-salad-butterball230

    Beet, spinach and apple salad. Photo courtesy Butterball.

     

    MAINS

  • Pasta With Spinach: penne pasta with a garnish of fresh spinach leaves and cherry tomatoes (recipe), bow tie pasta with chicken and spinach (recipe) or cheese tortellini with spinach (recipe)
  • Spinach Stuffed Pork Roast (recipe)
  •  
    PIZZA

  • Feta & Spinach Pizza (recipe)
  • Spinach & Grilled Shrimp Pizza (recipe)
  •  
    SIDES

  • Wilted Spinach With Tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip—recipe)
  •  
    SALADS

  • Beet, Spinach & Apple Salad (recipe)
  • Spinach & Grapefruit Salad (recipe)
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Leftover Grains As A Soup Garnish

    When we have leftover cooked grains—barley, bulgur, kasha, quinoa, rice, etc.—we start using them the next morning in breakfast omelets. By the time lunch comes, we’re ready to make grain salad.

    If we don’t have enough for a salad, we add the grains to soup. They can make quite a handsome garnish, and most grains go with any type of soup.

    In the photo, Brazilian steakhouse chain Texas de Brazil topped a mound of rice with a shrimp garnish.

    But you can use the grain plain, with a simple sprinkling of green herbs or something equally colorful (halved cherry tomato, sliced jalapeño or bell pepper).

    Or, take the occasion to use up leftover proteins to top the grain: bacon, fish, seafood, poultry, steak. It’s a great way to repurpose small bits of leftovers you can’t do much else with.

    Vegetarians can substitute a cube of grilled tofu, a cherry tomato, olive or leftover steamed vegetables.

    And, you can use leftover beans and pulses (chickpeas, lentils, peas) instead of the grains.

    Whatever you choose, a sprig of green—shredded basil (called chiffonade) or a small basil leaf, rosemary or parsley sprig, cilantro, chives, chopped green onions (scallions) or microgreens–is the final crown on what started out as a conventional bowl of soup.

     

    lobster-bisque-rice-garnish-texasdebrazil-230

    Turn rice into a base for even more garnishes. First mound the grain in the center of the bowl, then carefully pour the soup around it. Photo courtesy Texas de Brazil.

     
    It’s a nice change from croutons.

    Here are 20+ more ways to garnish soup.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Fish Garnish

    mahi-mahi-garnish-spin-crumbs-crab-bonefishgrill-230

    Dorado (mahi-mahi), garnished with
    creamed spinach, toasted breadcrumbs and
    crabmeat. Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

     

    You may be eating more grilled, pan-sautéed or poached fish for health or for Lent. But it doesn’t have to be dull.

    The photo at left shows “Dorado Rockefeller,” a riff on Oysters Rockefeller, which tops oysters with creamed spinach and toasted breadcrumbs.

    At Bonefish Grill, a piece of dorado (mahi mahi) gets a similar treatment. But because Bonefish Grill is a seafood palace, they crowned the dish with crab meat.

    Since most fish is bland in color, use the garnish as an opportunity to add brightness to the plate.
     
    PLACE THE FISH ON A BED

    Instead of—or in addition to—garnishing the top of the fish, create visual interest by placing grains or vegetables under the fish:

  • Asparagus, string beans, carrots
  • Lentils or other legume or pulse (beans, chickpeas, peas, etc.)
  • Mashed potatoes or cauliflower
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Ratatouille
  • Succotash
  •  
    CHOOSE A COLORFUL SAUCE

  • Diced, seasoned canned tomatoes
  • Red pasta sauce, from mild marinara to spicy puttanesca
  • Salsa, red or green
  • Sautéed, steamed or creamed spinach (standing in as a sauce)
  • Sliced cherry/grape tomato vinaigrette with minced fresh herbs (see photo below)
  •  

    GARNISHES FOR FISH

    When you use a lightly-dressed salad as a garnish, the vinaigrette serves as a sauce.

  • Baby greens salad
  • Diced green, orange, red and/or yellow bell peppers
  • Fresh herbs or herb salad
  • Fruit: halved grapes, lemon or lime slices, olives, pink/red grapefruit segments
  • Lemon-lime slices
  • Toasted bread crumbs (recipe below)
  • Sliced grape/cherry tomatoes with fresh herbs
  • Sautéed red jalapeño slices (remove the seeds and white pith)
  • Thin-sliced vegetables: chiles, cucumber, sauteéd mushrooms with herbs, summer squash, tomato
  •  

    steamed-cod-asian-sauce-salsa-bonefishgrill-230

    Steamed cod, citrus Thai sauce, tomato salsa. Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

     

    RECIPE: TOASTED BREAD CRUMBS

    These taste best with a rustic or sourdough loaf. The bread can be fresh or day-old. The recipe can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups fine bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the crust and cut or tear the bread into chunks approximately one inch in size. Pulse in a food processor to desired consistency.

    2. TOAST the crumbs in the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

    3. TOSS the breadcrumbs frequently until golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes,. Season with a bit of salt to taste.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Sashimi Cubes, 21st Century Sashimi Art

    sashimi-cubes-RASushi-230

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

     

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

     
    RECIPE: SASHIMI CUBES

    Ingredients

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

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

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

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

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

     

    SQUARE PLATES

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

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

    What Is Sushi?

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

     

    sashimi-bamboosushi-portland-230

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

  • Comments

    RECIPE: Pretzel Crusted Tuna

    pretzel-crusted-ahi-bonefishgrill-230r

    A delicious way to prepare tuna steaks: with
    a pretzel crust! Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

     

    Beyond panko: Turn pretzels into a tasty crust for seared fish.

    We love the appeal of this seared tuna recipe from Bonefish Grill. Not only do we love tuna; but the pretzels offer a fun alternative to the sesame crusted tuna recipe we typically use.

    We endeavored to recreate the recipe at home, and discovered that:

  • The recipe can be used with any thick fish fillet or steak.
  • It is easiest to crush pretzel sticks; thin and uniform, they crush quickly and evenly.
  • But you can use any pretzel. We also tried the gluten-free Pretzel Crisps we had on hand, and whole wheat pretzels from Snyder’s Of Hanover (which also makes GF pretzel sticks).
  • Our favorite crust was made from Utz sesame pretzels. But we think our choice going forward will be to add some toasted sesame seeds to whole wheat pretzels.
  • Don’t add much salt to the red wine sauce, unless you’re using salt-free pretzels. Otherwise, there’s plenty of salt in the pretzel crust.
  • Check out the history of pretzels, below. Without prayers and kids, we wouldn’t have them.
  •  
    RECIPE: PRETZEL-CRUSTED TUNA

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 tuna steaks
  • 1 cup crushed pretzels
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1 shallot
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or canola oil
  • Pinch salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. Pulse the pretzels in a food processor to the consistency of bread crumbs. Set aside.

    2. MAKE the sauce: Mince the shallot and heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft. Then add the wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer the sauce for three minutes so the alcohol evaporates and the sauce thickens.

    3. HEAT a cast iron skillet over high heat and add the butter or oil. Press the tops of the tuna steaks into the pretzel crumbs to coat. When the fat starts to smoke, place the fish face down in the pan.

    4. COOK for 4-5 minutes top down, then flip over and cook for another 3 minutes to serve rare, as they do at Bonefish Grill.

    5. SERVE with the sauce on the side, so the crumbs stay crisper.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SKILLET & A FRYING PAN

    It’s this easy: A skillet has slanted sides. A frying pan, also called a sauté pan, has straight sides that are higher than the skillet’s. (For this recipe, use whatever you have.)

    Why the two different side shapes?

    Frying/Sauté Pan Benefits

     

    homemade-pretzels-ws-230

    Dough for the original pretzels, called pretiola, were twisted to resemble a child’s arms folded in prayer. Photo courtesy Williams Sonoma. Here’s a recipe to bake your own homemade soft pretzels.

     
    If both pans are the same size, the frying/sauté pan will have a slightly larger surface area. In a 12-inch diameter pan, it can make the difference when fitting in pieces of chicken or other food, so you can cook everything in one batch.

    The other benefits of a frying/sauté pan: Liquids are less likely to splash out of the higher, straight sides; and lids fit more tightly, limiting evaporation.

    Skillet Benefits

    Chefs prefer the sloping sides of a skillet for quick cooking techniques like stir-frying, where the ingredients need to be moved around continuously. A skillet is also a better option for a frittata, served straight from the pan.

    It is a fun fact in cooking that a skillet is better for sautéeing than a sauté pan. The sloping sides make it easier to move pieces of food around while constantly stirring, and to more easily shake the pan to toss the food for even cooking. For the best sear, choose a cast iron skillet. It gets hotter than other metals.

    You can, of course, sauté your food in a straight-sided sauté pan, but it requires more work: constant stirring and turning.

    Guessing that the straight-sided frying pan may have come first, and the skillet adapted for greater flexibility, we tried to locate the facts. What we found was this, in Wikipedia:

    Before the introduction of the kitchen stove in the mid-19th century, a commonly used cast iron cooking pan called a spider had a handle and three legs used to stand up in the coals and ashes of the fire. Cooking pots and pans with legless, flat bottoms were designed when cooking stoves became popular; this period of the late 19th century saw the introduction of the flat cast iron skillet.

    Related Pans

    Professionals use a sauteuse (saw-TOOZ), a pan that combines the best higher sides of the sauté pan and the sloping sides of the skillet. It is also called a fait-tout (fay-TOOT), which literally means that it “does everything”.”

    Finally, mention must be made of the grill pan. It’s a frying pan with very low sides and series of parallel ridges on the cooking surface, which both enables cooking with radiant heat like a grill, and allows the fat to drain down.

     
    THE HISTORY OF PRETZELS

    It was all for the kids. In 610 C.E., monks in the what is today southern France northern Italy twisted and baked scraps of dough as a reward for children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers.

    The shape represented the monks’ concept of a child’s arms folded in prayer. The monks called this soft, baked dough a “pretiola,” Latin for “little reward.”

    The word evolved into the Italian “brachiola,” which means “little arms.” Over the next few centuries, the pretiola journeyed through the French and Italian wine regions, crossed the Alps, traveled through Austria and arrived in Germany, where it became known as the Bretzel or Pretzel.

    Here’s more of pretzel history.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Raw Scallops With Grapefruit

    raw-scallops-grapefruit-estela-glen-allsop-230r

    Raw scallops and grapefruit. Use dill or fennel fronds for decoration. Photo by Glen Allsop courtesy Estela Restaurant | NYC.

     

    Before the tastiest citrus goes away until next season, consider this super-easy yet elegant (and low-calorie!) first course. Estela Restaurant in New York City made it with small “cocktail” grapefruits, but we added some blood orange (rosy red) and cara cara orange (deep pink) for color.

    Sauvignon blanc white wines are known for their grapefruit or grassy notes. We poured one of each style—a grapefruity wine from California, a grassy one from France—although you’ll need to consult your wine store if you want to be sure your wines have these flavor profiles.

    A drizzle of olive oil, expecially a grassy one, is a great complement.

    RECIPE: RAW SCALLOPS WITH CITRUS

    Ingredients

  • Sea scallops, the largest you can find
  • Citrus of choice (blood orange, cara cara orange, pink/red/white grapefruit)
  • Sea salt
  • Seasoning of choice: chili flakes or fresh-ground pepper, fresh dill, other favorite
  • Optional condiment: extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional garnish: dill sprig or citrus zest
  • Preparation

    1. PEEL the citrus and remove the pith. Slice the fruit into widths that will match the scallops (to the extent possible).

    2. RINSE the scallops and slice horizontally. Your can choose how thick or thin to slice them, but aim for four slices per scallop.

    3. PLATE the fruit and scallops. Depending on their comparative sizes, you can plate them as shown in the photo, or place the scallops atop the sliced fruit.

    4. DRIZZLE a small amount of the optional olive oil over the food, or in a circle or droplets around it. Sprinkle with sea salt and optional chili flakes. Garnish as desired (you can grate citrus zest over the dish, or sprinkle it around the rim of the plate) and serve.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat Sunny Food

    It’s no fun looking out the window on the first day of spring, waiting for the snowfall to begin. So to counter the gray skies and eat something bright and sunny.

    Anticipating the weather, we acquired a ripe papaya and other fruits for this recipe from Hannah Kaminsky, who is wintering in Hawaii.

    “At the Salted Lemon Smoothie & Juice Bar,” she writes, “they’ve perfected the art of building an unsinkable papaya boat. Local orange and pink-hued fruits, more brilliant than a sunrise in paradise, are hollowed out and stuffed to the brim with granola, yogurt, banana slices and blueberries, and finished with a light shower of chia seeds.

    “The contrast between creamy yogurt and crunchy cereal, flavored with the ripe and juicy fresh fruits, is so simple yet so satisfying,” she concludes.

    And on a day like today, in the gloomy Northeast, it provides something bright that says “Happy spring!”

    RECIPE: PAPAYA BOAT

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 medium or large papaya, peeled and seeded
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1 6-ounce yogurt, fruit, plain or vanilla
  • 1 medium banana, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries or raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  •    

    papaya-boat-hannahkaminsky-230

    Have papaya as part of a sunny breakfast or lunch. Photo © Hanna Kaminsky.

  • Optional: sweetener to taste* (agave, honey, maple syrup)
  •  

    *If the fruit isn’t sweet enough.

     

    papaya-cut-hannahkaminsky-230

    A halved papaya with a fanciful cut. Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    Preparation

    1. DIVIDE a half cup of granola between two plates to set up a “foundation” for the papaya boat. This will help prevent it from capsizing when you eat it, and it also provides a layer of crunchy cereal to enjoy.

    2. PLACE the remaining granola inside the papaya halves (1/4 cup inside of each) and top that with the yogurt, spooning equal amounts into the two boats.

    3. ARRANGE the sliced banana and berries as desired. Top with a sprinkle of chia seeds.

    4. FINISH with a light drizzle of syrup as desired.
     
    HOW TO BUY PAPAYA

    1. When papaya ripens, the green skin will turn mostly yellow with patches of red. Smell the fruit at the stem end; a ripe papaya will be fragrant.

     
    2. Squeeze the papaya gently; it will give a little if it is ripe. Avoid papayas that are overly soft. You can ripen the papaya on the counter in a brown paper bag overnight, or place it in a sunny spot for a day or two.

    3. You can refrigerate a ripe papaya in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.
     
    CAN YOU EAT PAPAYA SEEDS?

    You can use papaya in any number of recipes, or simply eat it like a melon. Wash the outside, cut the fruit lengthwise and discard the seeds.

    But do the seeds have any other use?

    While there is no scientific evidence, in some circles the seeds have caught on as a potential health food. They are nontoxic, should you want to try them.

    You can eat papaya seeds whole, or can grind them up. Here’s how to do it from WikiHow, which claims that the taste is “fairly similar” to ground pepper.

    The skin should not be eaten.
     
    MORE SUNNY FRUITS & VEGETABLES

  • Yellow/Orange fruits: apples, apricots, cape gooseberries, cantaloupe, golden kiwi, grapefruit, lemons, mangoes, nectarines, oranges/mandarins, papapyas, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, tangerines, yellow figs, yellow watermelon.
  • Yellow/Orange vegetables: acorn/butternut/pumpkin/other squash varieties, beets, bell peppers, carrots, corn, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, summer squash, Yukon gold/other yellow potatoes, yellow tomatoes, yellow winter squash varieties.
  • Red/pink fruits: apples, blood oranges, cherries, cranberries, grapes, grapefruit, pears, pomegranates, raspberries, red pears, strawberries, watermelon.
  • Red/pink vegetables: beets, bell peppers, radicchio, radishes, red onions, red potatoes, rhubarb, tomatoes.
  •   

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    TIP: The New Linguine & Clam “Sauce”

    If you make linguine and clam sauce the way most Americans do—with canned clams—try it the way they serve it at Olio e Piú in New York City.

    Eight whole steamed clams surround a plate of linguine.

    The linguine is cooked and tossed in olive oil with fresh parsley and placed in the center of the plate.

    The clams, lightly cooked in a garlic broth, surround the linguine. EVOO is poured into the other half of each clam shell.

    In our interpretation of this dish, we made clams in garlic broth (vongole in brodetto). We also grilled up a side of crostini; the crunch of the bread is a nice counterpoint to the soft pasta and clams, and the arugula adds some color to the plate. You can substitute your favorite garlic bread recipe.

    RECIPE: LINGUINE & CLAMS

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for tossing with the pasta
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons red chili pepper flakes
  • 8-10 clams in shell per person
  • 1-1/4 cups white wine
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 package linguine (or fresh linguine)
  •    

    linguine-alla-vongole-clam-olionyc-230

    A modern interpretation of linguine and clam sauce. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | NYC.

     

    For The Garlic Crostini

  • 1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch-thick pieces
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 to 1 cup ricotta
  • 1-2 cups baby arugula, cleaned and dried
  •  

    ricotta-truffle-oil-arugula-blackpepper-olionyc-230

    Garlic-ricotta-arugula crostini. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | NYC.

     

    Preparation

    First, make the clams in garlic broth.

    1. WASH the clams to remove any dirt or sand.

    2. COOK the clams. In a heavy pot over moderate heat, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and sauté until golden brown (about three minutes). Add the salt, pepper and chili flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    3. INCREASE the heat to moderately high and add the clams, white wine, water and thyme. Cover and bring to a boil. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the clams open (5 to 7 minutes). Discard clams that do not open. Drain the clams and toss with the chopped parsley.

    4. MAKE the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss lightly with olive oil and a pinch of salt. While the pasta cooks, grill the bread:

     

    5. PREHEAT the broiler or grill to high. Brush the crostini slices on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill, flipping once, until golden brown and crisp. While the bread is grilling…

    6. SEASON the ricotta with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the crostini from the broiler/grill and rub each slice on the top side with the raw garlic. Spread with ricotta and top with arugula.

    6. PLATE the pasta in a mound in the center of the plate. Serve clams with the crostini.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake Irish Soda Bread

    Having published a recipe for Irish soda muffins for St. Patrick’s Day, we hadn’t planned to feature Irish soda bread this year.

    Then, we received this recipe from The Baker Chick and realized how much we wanted to tear into a warm loaf of soda bread and slather it with Kerrygold butter from Ireland.

    So we bumped our previously scheduled Tip Of The Day for this suggestion: Bake a loaf of Irish soda bread. If you’re already at work, bake it when you get home. It’s delicious with dinner—or in our case, instead of dinner. (We can make a joyous meal of great bread and butter.)

    Traditional Irish soda bread, the recipe below, has just four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. Other recipes add butter, caraway seeds, chocolate, eggs, orange peel or zest, raisins and/or sugar.

    The style of soda bread we enjoy in the U.S. is American-style, developed by Irish immigrants with butter, sugar and raisins.

    We adapted the recipe to meet in the middle: no butter or egg, but a bit of raisins and caraway.

    RECIPE: TRADITIONAL IRISH SODA BREAD

    Ingredients For 1 Loaf

       

    irish-soda-bread-thebakerchick-230

    Traditional Irish soda bread has no raisins or caraway. Photo courtesy The Baker Chick.

  • 1 pound (3-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups buttermilk
  •  
    We couldn’t help ourselves: We added these optional, non-traditional ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raisins, sultanas or dried cherries, currants or cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  •  
    But in the name of tradition, we held back on the butter, egg and sugar.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F.

    2. STIR together the flour, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and pour in 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk. Use a wooden spoon or your hand to combine the ingredients. You want the dough to be soft, so don’t over-mix it. Add more buttermilk if needed to get the dough to come together.

    3. TURN the dough onto a floured surface and give it just a few kneads (more will result in a tougher crumb). Shape it into a 6-inch diameter disk, about 2 inches high. Use a sharp knife to score a shallow X on the top of the loaf. Transfer to a cookie sheet or pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes.

    4. REDUCE the heat to 400°F and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden, and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it.

     

    kerrygold-brick-230

    For St. Patrick’s Day, spring for Kerrygold butter, made with milk from cows who graze
    on the green grass of the Emerald Isle. Photo
    courtesy Kerrygold.

     

    THE HISTORY OF IRISH SODA BREAD

    Baking soda, called bread soda in Ireland, was invented in the early 1800s. In those days most people didn’t have an oven—they cooked in a fireplace over coals or a peat fire (called turf fire in Ireland). They placed the dough in a lidded cast-iron pot which went right on top of the fire.

    In County Donegal and County Leitrim, there was a tradition of adding caraway seeds to bread. Immigrants brought that recipe to the U.S. In America, the recipe evolved to include butter, eggs, raisins and sugar—ingredients which frugal housewives in Ireland wouldn’t have thought to add to the dough.

    Today, the soda bread recipe options include:

  • White soda bread: all-purpose flour, baking soda, salt, buttermilk and optional caraway seeds.
  • Brown soda bread, also a traditional recipe that substitutes whole wheat flour for part or all or all of the white flour.
  • Irish soda bread with raisins and caraway, the classic Irish-American version also made with sugar, butter, and eggs.
  • Numerous modern recipes, from healthier variations of whole grains, flax and sunflower seeds to walnut soda bread to oat soda bread with browned butter, rosemary and black pepper.
  •  
    Check out these and other recipes here.

    FOOD TRIVIA: The cross cut into the top of the loaf before baking allows the heat to penetrate into the thickest part of the bread. As a bonus, in a Catholic country it adds the symbolic note of giving thanks.

      

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