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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

RECIPE: Green, Purple & Red Salad

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

     

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

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sorrel

    fresh-sorrel-goodeggsSF-230

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    sorrel-field-marquitafarm-230

    A field of sorrel. Photo courtesy Mariquita Farms.

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

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Salad With Prosciutto

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

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

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

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

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Cooked Version

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

    parma-style-scarfatta-parmacrown-230

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

     

    For The Raw Version

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

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

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

    †The artichokes should be plain, not marinated.

     

    P6

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

     

    Preparation

    For The Cooked Salad

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

    For The Raw Salad

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

    For Either Salad

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

     
    PROSCIUTTO & SERRANO HAMS: THE DIFFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pimento Cheese Ball With Pecans

    It’s National Cheese Ball Day. Here’s a classic recipe to whip up and serve with wine or cocktails. The cheese ball serves 5-8 people.

    The recipe is from Taylor Takes a Taste for EatWisconsinCheese.com.

    RECIPE: PIMENTO CHEESE BALL WITH SALTED PECANS

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 ounces pimentos, drained and chopped
  • 3 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  •  

    Pimento-Cheese-ball-pecans-wmmb-230

    Pimento cheese ball with pecans. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a non-stick skillet. Add the pecans and toast until fragrant, but not burned. Remove from the heat and toss in the salt. Allow to cool, then chop into medium to small pieces. Set aside.

    2. PLACE the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. With a fork, mix until creamy. Chill for 1 hour.

    3. LAY about 12 inches of plastic wrap on a level surface. Scoop out the chilled pimento cheese and form into a ball on top of plastic wrap. Roll the cheese ball in the chopped pecans, making sure the entire surface of ball is covered.

    4. WRAP the ball tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. Before serving, allow the frozen ball to thaw for half an hour. Serve with your favorite crackers, chips or pretzels.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches For Dessert

    bananafostergrilledcheese-grilledcheesesocial-230

    Bananas Foster on French toast. Photo
    courtesy Heidi Larsen | Foodie Crush.

     

    April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Wisconsin, American’s premier cheese-producing state (California is runner-up), even has a chef-spokesperson for the occasion.

    She is MacKenzie Smith of the blog Grilled Cheese Social, where she creates recipe after recipe for innovative grilled cheese sandwiches. She’s also the sandwich expert for About.com.

    Mackenzie developed five new grilled cheese sandwiches for National Grilled Cheese Month—made with delicious Wisconsin cheese of course. The first is what we’d call “dessert grilled cheese,” although you can certainly have it as your main for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    It takes the idea of Bananas Foster—bananas sautéed in butter with brown sugar, banana liqueur and rum. Mackenzie combines these ingredients with sweet, creamy mascarpone and cream cheese on a sandwich of French toast.

    It’s a smash, and our tip of the day is dessert grilled cheese.

     
    RECIPE: BANANAS FOSTER GRILLED CHEESE

    Ingredients For 1 Sandwich

  • 1 ounce (about 1/8 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 ounce cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon banana liqueur or brandy
  • 1/2 small banana, thickly sliced
  • 2 slices brioche bread
  • Sea salt flakes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the mascarpone and cream cheese in bowl. Set aside.

    2. PREPARE the French toast batter: In bowl, beat egg, milk and vanilla and set aside in a shallow bowl wide enough to hold sandwich for dipping.

    3. MELT 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add the liqueur and bring to a simmer. Once the mixture begins to thicken, add the banana, stirring constantly to evenly coat bananas. Cook 2-3 minutes, until the bananas are well coated in sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

    4. PREPARE the sandwich: Spread the mascarpone mixture evenly on one side of each bread slice. Top one mascarpone-covered slice with the banana mixture, a sprinkle of sea salt and the remaining bread slice, mascarpone-covered slice down.

    5. SOAK (gently!) each side of sandwich in the French toast batter for a 1 minute. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwich in the skillet and grill 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and allow to rest 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

     

    RECIPE: DULCE DE LECHE GRILLED CHEESE

    Dulce de leche fans will enjoy this dessert grilled cheese sandwich, made with mascarpone and the addictive Argentinian dessert (made by caramelizing sugar in milk).

    The recipe is courtesy of the Grilled Cheese Academy.

    Ingredients For 4 Sandwiches

  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons dulce de leche
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 8 slices cinnamon-raisin bread
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry preserves or 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
     
    Preparation

  •  

    mascarpone-dulce-raspberry-grilledcheeseacademy-230

    Mascarpone and dulce de leche on cinnamon raisin bread. Photo courtesy Grilled Cheese Academy.

    1. COMBINE the mascarpone, dulce de leche and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

    2. BUTTER one side of each slice of bread. Spread the mascarpone mixture on the non-buttered side of 4 of the bread slices. Spread raspberry preserves on the non-buttered side of the remaining 4 slices of bread.

    3. PLACE one slice of bread with raspberries or preserves on each mascarpone-topped bread slice, buttered sides out. Place the sandwiches on an electric griddle heated to 350°F, or in a preheated skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Cook 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until bread is lightly toasted.

    4. REMOVE and serve immediately, unsliced, since cheese is very soft.
     

    WANT MORE?

    Here’s another dessert recipe: Mascarpone Grilled Cheese With Chocolate “Soup.”

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Surf & Turf Eggs Benedict

    Eggs Benedict is a popular Mother’s Day or Father’s Day brunch entree. The classic recipe combines a poached egg and ham or Canadian bacon atop a toasted English muffin slice, topped with hollandaise sauce.

    There are many variations to the original recipe, including portabella mushrooms for vegetarians (recipe) and corned beef hash (recipe).

    Since today is National Eggs Benedict Day, here’s a festive recipe to try in advance of upcoming celebrations. You can serve it for lunch or everyday dinner as well.

    RECIPE: SURF & TURF EGGS BENEDICT

    Ingredients For One Serving

  • 1 poached egg
  • 1/4 cup poached crab or lobster
  • 1/4 cup sliced, cooked filet mignon
  • Hollandaise sauce (recipe)
  • 1/2 English muffin, toasted
  • Optional: poached/steamed asparagus or other vegetable
  •  

    surf-turf-eggs-benedict-filet-lobster-bonefishgrill-230

    Surf & turf Eggs Benedict. Photo courtesy Bonefish Grill.

  • Optional garnish: minced fresh chives or parsley or chiffonade of tarragon
  •  
    Preparation
     

    1. PREPARE or heat the hollandaise sauce; cook the Canadian bacon or heat the ham.

    2. POACH the egg and toast the muffin half. Place the beef atop the muffin, followed by the seafood and the egg. Spoon the hollandaise sauce on top.

    3. GARNISH with fresh herbs and serve with an optional side of asparagus or other vegetable.
     
    THE HISTORY OF EGGS BENEDICT

    Credit for this recipe is given to Chef Charles Ranhofer of Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City—which also happened to be the first restaurant opened in the U.S., starting with a small pastry café in 1827 and expanding into a restaurant two years later.

    At that time there were no public dining rooms or restaurants. Men could stop into a tavern for a beverage and what amounted to “bar food.” People ate all their meals at home or, if traveling, at the inn or hotel. Otherwise, hungry people got food from street vendors.

    In the 1860s, a regular patron of Delmonico’s, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, arrived for lunch and found nothing appealing on the menu. She discussed her tastes with the chef, who created on the spot what would become an iconic recipe. In his cookbook, The Epicurean, published in 1894, he called the recipe called Eggs à la Benedick, inadvertently misspelling her name.

    The recipe is relatively easy: toasted English muffins topped with a round of cooked ham “an eighth of an inch thick and of the same diameter as the muffins one each half.” A poached egg is placed atop each each muffin half, and the whole is covered with Hollandaise sauce.

    The dish became very popular, and April 16th was established as National Eggs Benedict Day.

    You can vary the ingredients to make your own signature Eggs Benedict recipe. Here are some substitutions.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Steamed Mussels (Moules Marinière)

    mussels-fried-moules-frites-duplexonthird-230

    A classic bowl of mussels. Photo courtesy
    Duplex On Third | Los Angeles.

     

    Recently we joined a group for dinner at a French bistro.

    Others dug into rilletes and onion soup hidden under a heavy layer of Gruyère, cassoulet and steak frites. We, still feeling guilty about all the Easter candy consumed pre- and post-holiday, opted for the steak tartare and moules marinière, steamed mussels.

    As we devoured mussel after plump mussel, we pondered:

    This is such an easy to make, better-for-you, delicious dish. Why do we no longer make it at home?

    It turns out that our chief obstacle, sand, no longer exists.

    Wild mussels can be quite sandy, requiring soaking after soaking. We lacked the patience for it, especially when after all the soaking we still bit into grains of sand.

    But these days, most mussels don’t grow on the ocean floor; they’re farm raised, in bags that hang vertically on ropes above the ocean floor. They’re pretty sand-free. (Yay!)

    All you need is a good fish store; and you can even find quality frozen mussels that do the trick (check out VitalChoice.com—no thawing required, just pop them in the pot).

     
    The two most popular recipes hail from France and Italy:

  • Classic Mussels (Moules Marinière), made with garlic, onions/shallots, parsley, tarragon, white wine.
  • Mussels Fra Diavolo, made with fresh basil, crushed chili flakes, garlic, olive oil and tomatoes.
  •  
    Many Recipe Variations

    After you’re comfortable with the basic recipe, you can go all out with seasonings.

    Flex Mussels in New York City serves 21 different recipes, from the classics to cuisine-specific riffs from Indian (cinnamon, curry, garlic, star anise, white wine) to Thai (coconut broth, coriander, curry, kaffir lime, lemongrass, lime, ginger, garlic).

    If you’re old enough to remember Alice’s Restaurant—the hit song, which begat the feature film and cookbook—Alice liked to vary her recipes. On steamed mussels, she commented:

    “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”

    Now, let’s get ready to make mussels!

    HOW TO BUY & CLEAN MUSSELS

    For dinner, figure two-thirds of a pound of mussels in the shell per person—more for hearty eaters. Leftover mussels are delicious the next day, either warmed or chilled with a green salad and vinaigrette.

    Mussels and other some other bivavles (clams, cockles, oysters) are sold live, kept cold on ice. Unlike other seafood, once a bivalve is no longer alive, the flesh decomposes quickly.

    Buy mussels with moist shells (not dry-looking) that are tightly closed, with no external blemishes. Western mussels have black shells. You may find New Zealand mussels, which have green shells and tend to be meatier.

    Even if you buy farm-raised mussels, you may want still want to go through the classic rinsing process.

  • Set them in a pot filled with cold water with a tablespoon of dry mustard. After 20 minutes, drain and move them to a colander.
  • Srub them under running water to eliminate any debris.
  • Check for beards, straw-like filaments that can get protrude from the two halves of the shell. Pull them off and discard. (Most farm-raised mussels won’t have beards.)

  • What about partially opened mussels?

    Most people who cook bivalves know to discard these: They may be dead. But here’s a trick:

    Tap them firmly a few times with a spoon or other implement. If they’re alive, they will slowly close their shells. If there’s no motion, consider them dead and toss them in the trash.

    And definitely toss any mussels with cracked shells prior to cooking. Bacteria may have entered through the crack.

    What if you’re not going to cook the mussels immediately?

    You can keep the mussels for a few days if you place them in a bowl or other container in the coldest part of the refrigerator (generally the rear of the bottom shelf). First line the bowl with a plastic storage bag filled with ice resting on top. Cover with a damp paper towel.

     

    RECIPE: MOULES MARINIÈRE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallot (about 6 shallots)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley and/or tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Optional: garlic cloves, sliced celery and/or carrot
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 4 dozen mussels
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley
  • Optional garnish: halved cherry tomatoes or strips/dice of red bell pepper for color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the first six ingredients (through the cayenne) in a large pot, and simmer until reduced to a half cup. Strain into a large pot and add the mussels.

     

    spicy-mussels-barnjooNYC-230

    Spicy mussels. If you like heat, add sliced jalapeno or crushed red pepper flakes—or make Mussels Fra Diavolo. Photo courtesy Barnjoon | NYC.

     

    2. COOK 5 to 10 minutes or until the shells open, shaking the pot from time to time. With a slotted spoon, remove the mussels to individual soup bowls (ideally, large and shallow), retaining the liquid in the pot.

    3. MAKE the sauce: Add the butter and optional salt to the liquid in the mussels pot.

    MUSSELS FRA DIAVOLO

    Fra diavolo means “brother devil” in Italian, a nickname given to a Neapolitan guerrilla leader in his feisty childhood. The spicy-hot recipe was named in his honor. (The Italian word for mussels is cozza, plural cozze, pronounced CUT-sah and CUT-say).)

    The recipe features marinara sauce (you can use tomato paste and tomato purée) and heat from crushed red pepper.

    Here’s a recipe from Chef Jasper White.

    In Italy, it is often served atop a dish of linguine.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Polenta Pesto Lasagna, Gluten Free

    Polenta-Pesto-Lasagna-saucesnlove-230

    Lasagna that substitutes sliced polenta (gluten-free, made from corn) for wheat lasagna noodles. Photo courtesy Sauces’n Love.

     

    We love lasagna, and try most recipes we come across to see if they’re better than Mom’s.

    Here’s a vegetarian version with polenta and pesto (you of course can add sausage or other meat). Gluten-free polenta replaces the traditional wheat noodle lasagna.

    The recipe was created by Loretta Lamont for Sauces ’n Love, one of our favorite lines of Italian sauces, Loretta used Sauces ‘n Love marinara and pesto sauces.

    We made our own variation, sprinkling oregano over the ricotta layer and adding crumbled sausage over the second pesto layer.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: POLENTA & PESTO LASAGNA

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • Pam or other cooking spray
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • 2 packages (18 ounces each) polenta, cut into 1/4” slices
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 1 jar pesto sauce
  • Optional: oregano or sausage, thinly-sliced or crumbled
  • 1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (substitute shredded
    mozzarella)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Spray a 11” × 7” baking dish with Pam.

    2. MIX the ricotta with the egg, garlic powder, pepper and 1/2 cup mozzarella.

    3. PLACE a little sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, topped with a single layer of polenta. Spread a layer of pesto on top of the polenta.

    4. SPREAD the ricotta over the pesto; sprinkle on the optional oregano or the sausage. Arrange the sliced mozzarella on top of the pesto. Add a layer of sauce on top of the mozzarella followed by another layer of polenta.

    5. TOP with the shredded Italian cheese and sauce Bake for 40 minutes. Top with the remaining cheese and pine nuts and broil until the cheese and nuts are browned. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.

     
    WHAT IS POLENTA?

    Polenta is the Italian word for cornmeal as well as a cooked dish made from it. In the first two centuries of America, our diets contained much cornmeal—in bread, breakfast cereal (cornmeal mush is cooked polenta) and other recipes.

    In the 19th century, cornmeal was largely replaced by refined wheat flour. Polenta is also refined: It is degerminated cornmeal, with the germ and endosperm removed.

    Here’s a delicious polenta stack appetizer recipe, and more ways to use polenta.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Quinoa Fried Rice

    Fried rice is a typically made from leftover steamed rice, stir-fried in a wok with leftover vegetables and meats. This leads to countless variations, not just in China but throughout the Pacific Rim.

    There’s American fried rice (with sliced hot dogs, popular in Thailand), curry fried rice, Filipino garlic fried rice, Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng), kimchi fried rice and much, much more. Take a look.

    Then, perusing some online photos from PF Chang’s, we found this photo of quinoa fried rice, topped with a fried egg. So today’s tip is:

    When you have leftover cooked grains of any kind, turn them into “fried rice.”

    Of course, you don’t need leftovers. You can cook the grains from scratch for the recipe. In addition to those you commonly cook, this is an opportunity to try something new from this list:

  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Kasha
  • Rice (black, brown, red, wild, white)
  • Quinoa
  •    

    quinoa-fried-rice-pfchangs-230

    Have “fried rice” topped with an egg for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Photo courtesy PF Changs.

     

    RECIPE: QUINOA FRIED RICE

    If you want to serve a cooked egg on top of the quinoa, you can opt to leave out the raw eggs that get scrambled into the grain at the end. We prefer using both.

    You also can add leftover corn, beans, or what-have-you. If the item is soft (cooked zucchini, e.g.), add it at the end to warm it, without cooking it further.

    And of course, dice any leftover meat or seafood and add it at the end, also to warm.

    Ingredients For 3 Servings

  • 2½-3 cups cooked* quinoa or other grain
  • 1½ tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • ¼ small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 scallions, chopped and divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 eggs, raw
  • ½ cup peas, fresh, cooked or frozen/thawed
  • Optional: 3 eggs, cooked
  •  
    *If cooking from scratch for this recipe, cool the grain to room temperature, or preferably overnight in the fridge.

     

    quinoa-methylsoy-wiki-230

    Quinoa grows in black, red and white varieties. Above, raw white quinoa seeds. Photo by Methyl Soy | Wikimedia.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX the sauce: Combine the teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

    2. FRY or poach the eggs and keep warm.

    2. HEAT ½ tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté or frying pan over a high heat. Add onion and carrots and cook for two minutes.

    4. ADD 2/3 of the scallions, the garlic and the ginger to the pan. Cook for another two minutes. Add the rest of the olive oil and the quinoa. Stir-fry about two minutes.

    5. ADD the sauce and stir-fry until incorporated, about two minutes. Make a well in the center of the quinoa; add the raw eggs and stir to scramble.

    6. ADD the peas and stir until they are warmed through. Top with the optional fried/poached egg, garnish with the remaining scallions and serve.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream

    Happy birthday Thomas Jefferson! Born April 13, 1743, this Founding Father became America’s third president; but he was America’s First Foodie.

    According to culinary historian Karen Hess, Jefferson was “our most illustrious epicure, in fact, our only epicurean President.”

    He loved his veggies, stating that they “constitute my principal diet.” His favorites: tennis-ball lettuce, Brown Dutch lettuce, prickly-seeded spinach and for fruit, Marseilles figs. He sought out new produce varieties from the foreign consuls in Washington, and is credited with introducing broccoli to mainstream America.

    He is credited with popularizing fried eggplant, French fries, johnny-cakes, gumbo, mashed potatoes, peanuts, sesame seed oil and sweet potato pudding, among other dishes, blending colonial cuisine with African (slave), Colonial, Creole, European and Native American traditions.[Source]

    At the time Jefferson left to serve as minister to France, in 1784, the mainstays of American colonial cooking were primarily meats—baked, boiled, roasted or stewed—breads, heavily sweetened desserts and [generally] overcooked vegetables. [Source]

    The sophistication of French cuisine and his travel to another culinary stronghold, Italy, broadened his perspective. He returned to America with recipes, foodstuffs (French wine, olive oil and vanilla beans) and cooking gear, including a pasta machine.

       

    vanilla-scraped-from-pot-nielsenmassey-230

    Long before the invention of the crank ice cream machine, strong-armed kitchen staff would whisk the mix in a vat set in a bowl of ice. Photo courtesy Nielsen Massey.

     
    And with a French-trained chef: his slave James Hemings, brother of Sally. As a member of Jefferson’s Paris household, the 19-year-old was trained in French cooking at the direction of his master, with the promise that he would be given his freedom after returning to Monticello and training a successor.

    Ultimately taking charge of the kitchen at Jefferson’s Paris home, the gifted young man cooked for some of the most distinguished and discriminating people in France. As a freed man, he continued to work as a chef.

     

    thomas-jefferson-recipe-smithsonian-230

    In his own hand, Jefferson’s ice cream recipe. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

     

    JEFFERSON BRINGS ICE CREAM TO AMERICA

    Upon his return from France in 1789, Jefferson brought 200 vanilla beans and an ice cream recipe. [Source: IceCream.com]

    There were no ice cream machines—the hand-cranked version had yet to be invented, in 1843—so strong-armed kitchen staff would hand-whisk the mixture in a bowl placed in a vat of ice.

    The result had a mousse-like consistency rather than the freezer-hardened ice cream we know today. But chilled and creamy, and flavored with exotic vanilla beans, it was a delight of high society (only the wealthy could afford the vanilla, the labor and the ice).

    Jefferson’s original, hand-written recipe is housed in the Library of Congress. Nielsen-Massey, vendor of premium vanilla beans from around the world, adapted the original recipe so you can make it at home.

    It calls for 1¼ cups of sugar, a saucepan and an ice cream maker, instead of a half-pound of sugar, an open cooking fire and a very strong person or two to churn it by hand.

     
    RECIPE: THOMAS JEFFERSON’S VANILLA ICE CREAM

    Ingredients

  • 2 quarts heavy cream
  • 6 yolks of eggs
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and lightened in color. Set aside.

    2. PLACE the cream in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with the tip of a small knife. Scrape both sides of the bean with the knife’s dull side and add the seeds and bean to the cream. Place the saucepan over medium heat until the mixture is nearly boiling.

    3. REMOVE the cream mixture from the heat, and very slowly add ½ cup of the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the now-warmed egg yolk mixture into the hot cream, whisking to combine.

    4. RETURN the saucepan to the stove, stirring constantly over medium heat until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Allow mixture to chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

    5. CHURN the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

     
    *You can use Tahitian or Mexican vanilla beans in place of the conventional Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans to highlight different vanilla flavors. You can also susbstitute vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract: 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste is equivalent to 1 vanilla bean.

      

    Comments

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