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TIP OF THE DAY: Bibimbap, A Korean Classic For The Lunar New Year

We love bibimbap (bee-bim-BOP), a signature Korean dish. It’s a variation of our currently trending rice bowl. The word literally means “mixed rice”—rice mixed with several other ingredients.

We’ve written about bibimbap previously, but for the eve of the lunar new year (this year, it’s Sunday, February 7th), it’s especially appropriate. It’s what Koreans traditionally eat on their new year’s eve.

It also happens to be Super Bowl Sunday; if your friends are foodies, this is a good dish for a crowd.
 
WHAT IS BIBIMBAP?

A bowl of warm white rice is topped with seasoned vegetables*; sliced beef, chicken or seafood; and a raw or fried egg. The yolk of the egg (or the entire raw egg) binds the ingredients when they are mixed together.

Chile paste, fermented soybean paste or soy sauce are served as condiments. After the ingredients are blended each individual diner, condiments added at the table.

For visual appeal, the vegetables are often placed so that adjacent colors complement each other.

The recipe below, from Good Eggs, requires 15 minutes of active time, and a total of 35 minutes. It doesn’t require you to be handy with a knife: Instead of thin slices of beef, you use ground beef.

If you like bibimbap as much as we do, you can experiment with other grains. Quinoa bibimbap with kale, anyone?

RECIPE: BIBIMBAP RICE BOWL

Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 2 cups of sushi rice
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons of mirin (rice wine†)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce, plus a little more for seasoning
  • 1 cup kimchi
  • 4 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch radishes, shaved thinly
  • 1 bunch of scallions, both green and white portions, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Raw or fried egg for each serving
  • Optional: other vegetables as desired
  •    

    Bibimbap

    Bibimbap

    Top: Bibimbap served with a raw egg at Kristalbelli | NYC. Bottom photo: The ingredients mixed together. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

  • Optional: chili paste/red pepper paste (gochujang), sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds
  • ____________________________________
    *Commonly vegetables used include bean sprouts, julienned cucumber, julienned or shredded daikon (Japanese radish), julienned zucchini, nori (dried seaweed), shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms or whole enoki mushrooms, and spinach. Diced tofu, either uncooked or cooked, can be added.

    †Mirin and saké are both called “rice wine.” Both are fermented from rice; mirin has a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content (as an analogy, thing of sweet and dry vermouths. If you have saké but no mirin, make a substitute by adding a half teaspoon of sugar to the saké, and warm it slowly to dissolve the sugar.

     

    Bibimbap

    Dolsot bibimbap, bibimbap served in a very
    hot stone bowl (our favorite way to enjoy
    bibimbap at restaurants). Photo courtesy
    Souschef.co.uk.

     

    Preparation

    1. RINSE the rice a few times in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Add the rice to a pot and cover with water. Let it soak for 20 minutes, then strain it again. Add the rice back to the pot and add 3 cups of water. Bring the rice and water to a boil, uncovered. When the water reaches a rolling boil…

    2. TURN the flame to low, cover the pot and let the rice simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it steam for 10 minutes with the cover on. After 10 minutes, fluff the rice with a fork: It’s ready. While the rice cooks

    3. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the meat and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down and add the soy sauce and mirin, and stir. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the heat.

    4. SERVE: Spoon some rice into a bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds, a splash of mirin and a little bit of soy sauce. Top with beef, cilantro, scallions, radishes, cilantro and a spoonful of kimchi.

     

    BIBIMBAP HISTORY

    Bibimbap was traditionally eaten on the eve of the lunar new year, to enable households to use up all of their leftovers before the start of the new year. All of the leftovers were put in a bowl of rice and mixed together.

    Use up your leftovers, or buy fresh ingredients. Or plan a party: Like paella and other rice main dishes, bibimbap is a good dish for a crowd.

    Of course, bibimbap can be made from scratch with chosen ingredients. Each region and each cook has a preferred mix of ingredients.

    At Korean restaurants you can get dolsot bibimbap (stone pot bibimbap), served in a stone bowl so hot that the ingredients sizzle. The raw egg cooks as soon as it’s mixed in.

    Before the rice is placed in the bowl, the bottom can be coated with sesame oil, which makes the bottom of the rice cook to a crispy state, like the soccorat at the bottom of the paella pan.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Really Good Chinese Egg Rolls

    Egg Rolls

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/egg rolls redstixs 230r

    Top: Egg rolls with BBQ pork and sweet and
    hot chili dipping sauce, from the National
    Pork Board. They’re baked, not fried (recipe).
    Bottom: Egg rolls from Red Stix | NYC, served
    with a mix of rice vinegar and soy sauce.

     

    For the Chinese New Year, why not make your own egg rolls? Serve them as an appetizer, or as a snack with a cold beer.

    EGG ROLL HISTORY

    Like Chinese chicken salad, crab wontons, duck sauce, fortune cookies, General Tso’s chicken and sweet and sour pork—not to mention the pu pu platter—the egg roll is a Chinese-American invention. Food historians believe it was first created in New York City in the early 1930s.

    But over time, what was initially a richly layered roll with a mix of bamboo shoots, roast pork, scallions, shrimp and water chestnuts evolved into a bland cabbage roll—a stuffing of shredded cabbage, flecked with bits of pork and carrot. [Source]

    If you’d like to go back to the golden age of egg rolls, make your own! If you don’t like to deep fat fry, you can bake them.

    This recipe came to us via Melissas.com, from Chef Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook.
     
    RECIPE: CHEF MARTIN YAN’S EGG ROLLS

    Ingredients For 12 Pieces

  • 12 egg roll wrappers
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • ¾ pound ground pork, chicken or beef
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 12 ounces green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Cooking oil for frying
  •  
    Don’t forget the condiments: hot mustard, jalapeño pepper jelly, plum sauce, ponzu sauce, sweet and sour sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce (sweet and hot) or just plain soy sauce. We like to serve two different options: Colman’s prepared mustard (a better version of “Chinese mustard”) and Thai sweet chili sauce (you can buy it or make your own).
     
    OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

    You can add just about anything to an egg roll, as long as it’s finely chopped and well drained (don’t add moisture).

  • There are fusion egg rolls that include pastrami (a Reuben egg roll) and corned beef and cabbage egg roll.
  • The menu at Rhode Island’s Egg Roll Cafe features the classic egg roll plus these flavors: Bacon-Egg-Cheese, Cheeseburger, Crab Rangoon, Fajita, Ham-Egg-Cheese, Pizza, Shrimp, Spinach & Feta, Steak & Cheese and Taco, among others.
  • Check out this recipe, featured in the Merced [California] Sun Star, which includes classic ingredients plus peanut butter and cinnamon. The creator, Fanny Go, was born and raised in Southern China (where there are no egg rolls) and now lives in Chicago.

    In addition to her basic recipe, she suggests these optional extras which you can incorporate into Chef Yan’s recipe:

  • ½ cup boiled shrimp, cut into dime-size pieces
  • ½ cup shiitake mushrooms, soaked, squeezed and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup well-drained bamboo shoots, julienned
  • ¼ cup water chestnuts, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup bean sprouts, well drained
  • Editor’s choice: Chinese sausage (if you can get hold of it)
  •  
    Once you get the hang of it, you can experiment with your favorite fillings, from vegetarian to Swiss cheese—or anything that goes well with beer or wine.

    Back to Chef Yan’s recipe:

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a wok or stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides of the pan. Add the pork, ginger and garlic; stir-fry until meat is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Drain the excess oil.

    2. COMBINE the pork, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a medium bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes.

    3. COMBINE the cabbage, carrot and green onions in a large bowl. Add the meat mixture; toss well and let it cool slightly.

    4. FILL the rolls: Place a wrapper on a clean flat surface in front of you so that it looks like a diamond. Place 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Fold the bottom point up over the filling and roll once. Fold in the right and left points. Brush the beaten egg on the top point. Continue rolling until you have a tight cylinder. Place the filled rolls on a baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth while filling remaining rolls.

    5. FRY: Heat 2-3 inches of cooking oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or wok, to 350°F. Add the egg rolls, a few at a time, and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    Serve with sweet and sour sauce, plum sauce, hot mustard or jalapeño pepper jelly.

    Recipe copyright Yan Can Cook, Inc., 2014
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EGG ROLLS, SPRING ROLLS & SUMMER ROLLS

    It can be very confusing, but we’ve done our best here to explain the differences.

    While some countries, including China, serve fried egg rolls and spring rolls, the terms are not synonymous. An egg roll has a heavier pastry wrapper of wheat dough that contains eggs—hence the name. The cooked roll can be sliced into sections. Spring roll wrappers are made without egg. A fried spring roll is very fragile and can shatter like phyllo.

  • Egg rolls are deep fried. The wrappers are thicker, making egg rolls more of a filled pastry. They can have a vegetable, egg, meat and/or seafood filling. The filling varies by chef, and can include chopped shrimp, ground beef, ground chicken or turkey, matchstick-sliced pork or Chinese sausage, minced cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger and mushrooms.
  •  

    Egg Rolls

    Spring Rolls

    Top: Chef Martin Yan’s egg rolls, served with sweet and sour sauce. Photo courtesy Melissas.com | Yan Can Cook. Bottom: Translucent rice paper enables spring and summer rolls to show off the ingredients inside. Photo courtesy Nature Box.

     

  • Spring rolls can be fried or not. The fried versions use thinner wheat wrappers and are narrower and more finger-like. They can be filled with pork and/or shrimp. Spring rolls can also be served in an uncooked rice noodle wrapper. These are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival in China, hence the name; and are also popular in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Thee rice noodle wrappers are moistened into pliancy and translucency, then filled with seafood, bean thread vermicelli, red lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves, shredded cabbage and carrot, plus wonderfully refreshing herbs—fresh mint, basil and cilantro leaves. They are served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
  • Summer rolls are made in the style of spring rolls, but with more seasonal ingredients. They are always in a rice noodle wrapper and never fried. The ingredients can be cooked, raw or a mixture, and the colors and shapes show through the translucent wrapper. Ingredients typically include pork and/or shrimp or vegetables, rice vermicelli (noodles) and fresh herbs (basil, cilantro and mint). The dipping sauce for summer rolls is typically a blend of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce or tamari, with minced scallions and a splash of toasted sesame oil.
  •  
    The dipping sauces for the different rolls can be mixed and matched. Our favorites include peanut sauce, a blend of peanut butter and hoisin sauce with garlic; sweet and hot red chili sauce; and rice vinegar/soy sauce.
     
    The way to best learn the differences, of course, is to go out and eat them, or make them at home. But note that even restaurants and retail establishments can abel these different rolls incorrectly.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Stack Cake Party

    Stack Cake

    Stack Cake

    Stack Cake

    Top: Strawberry Jam Stack Cake from Sweet Auburn Desserts, photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn. Here’s the recipe. Middle photo from TheSimpleElements.com. Here’s the recipe. Bottom photo from Maman Bakery Cafe | NYC.

     

    Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day? If you have nothing going on, why not round up a group of friends and neighbors and have a stack cake party?

    What’s a stack cake?

    STACK CAKE HISTORY

    Stack cake is an old-fashioned concept from the Southern Appalachian Mountains. It originated as a wedding cake alternative in that economically-challenged region.

    Each guest or family would bring a layer for the cake, and the bride’s family would provide the filling. The layers would be assembled at the party.

    The result: a rustic layer cake with no icing but lots of heart.

    Beyond weddings, stack cake parties were another way for people to get together to exchange recipes and gossip.

    Many types of cake layers could be brought, from sponge-like layers to cookie-like layers. In order stop the typical seven or eight layers from toppling over, each layer was sometimes pressed very flat.

    These days, another un-iced cake, called naked cake, is enjoying its moment. Unlike stack cake, the whole naked cake is made by one person, in one flavor. The sides of the cake aren’t iced, although the top usually is.

    Rather than an economical way to assemble a cake, naked cake economizes on calories and labor, by not frosting the sides.

    YOUR STACK CAKE PARTY

    You never knew exactly how the layers would add up. Even if you told everyone to bring an eight-inch layer of yellow cake or chocolate cake…well, what are the odds that they’d match, even if you provided a recipe?

    Besides, isn’t it more fun if to have a pot luck cake with different layers: carrot, chocolate, devil’s food, gingerbread, red velvet, vanilla and, well, we’d like a layer with big chocolate chunks?

    All you have to do is:

  • Tell everyone what size to make their layer cake (eight inches is standard).
  • You can cap the layers at four or five, or make two cakes.
  • You can assign flavors, or let the universe decide what you get.
  • You provide the filling and some icing to decorate the top.
  • Or you can delegate those, too, and just focus on the beverages.
  •  

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Egg Drop Soup

    Chinese Egg Drop Soup

    Fresh Cilantro

    Top: Egg drop soup is known for its strands
    of eggs. Bottom: A fresh herb garnish
    —chives/green onion, cilantro or parsley—
    makes a big difference. Photos courtesy
    Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    Chinese egg drop soup is a very simple concept: chicken broth with thin strands of cooked egg. The strands are created by pouring a thin stream of beaten eggs into hot broth at the end of cooking.

    It’s the easiest dish you can make to celebrate the Chinese New Year—also called the Lunar New Year, since other countries in Asia celebrate the holiday. With no added fat or carbs, it’s also spot-on for new year’s diet resolutions—American or Chinese versions.

    The recipe below, from Good Eggs in San Francisco, is more sophisticated than what you get at Chinese restaurants in the U.S. Star anise and miso give the soup so much flavor, it becomes a knock-your-socks-off alternative to the standard American version—typically a bland, gummy (from too much cornstarch) soup.

    While you’re at it, make your own Chinese fortune cookies for dessert!
     
    EGG DROP SOUP HISTORY

    In China, the dish that we call egg drop soup is called egg flower soup. Food historians can’t pin a date on the emergence of the recipe, but the domestication of fowl for eggs was recorded as far back as 1400 B.C.E.

    Similar recipes combining chicken broth and eggs appear in other cultures as well.

  • In France, tourin, a garlic soup, is made with chicken stock that is drizzled with egg whites and thickened with an egg yolk. Unlike egg drop soup, the egg whites are whisked in rapidly to prevent strands from forming.
  • The Greeks added fresh lemon juice to create avogolemono soup. The eggs are added for body and don’t create strands.
  • In Italy, the addition of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese created stracciatella. As with egg drop soup, the eggs form strands.
  •  
    In China, versatility is the name of the game.

  • Tastes vary across regions, with southern Chinese preferring to thicken the broth with cornstarch, and northerners favoring a thinner soup without it.
  •  

  • Tomatoes, corn and green peas may get tossed in as well.
  • Other add-ins can include bean sprouts and tofu cubes.
  • Familiar garnishes may include black pepper, chopped green onions (scallions), and a drizzle of sesame oil, but that’s just the beginning of a whole slew of possibilities.
  •  
    In the U.S.:

  • The soup is thickened with cornstarch, as is done in southern China.
  • It is typically served without a garnish or extra add-ins—but make yours as customized as you like.
  • We like to add cooked chicken strips and chopped green onions, plus fresh cilantro or parsley—whichever we have on hand.
  •  
    As with any recipe, you can (and should!) make it your own.

     

    RECIPE: CHINESE EGG DROP SOUP

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    You can buy the broth or make it with this recipe.

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek, halved and sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 quart chicken broth/bone broth
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 4 eggs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat in a big soup pot. When the oil is hot, add the leek and cook for about 6 minutes, until it is soft and starting to turn golden brown. At this point, turn the heat down to medium and carefully add the broth. Then whisk in the star anise, soy sauce and vinegar.

    2. ADD the miso: Pour a ladleful of the broth into a small bowl and add the miso. Whisk to incorporate, then pour the enhanced broth back into the pot. Simmer for about 15 minutes. While the broth cooks…

    3. WHISK the eggs vigorously in a mixing bowl that has a pouring spout, until the whites and yolks are completely (and we mean completely) combined. When the broth has simmered and you’re ready to eat, turn the heat to high and bring the broth to a boil. As soon as it’s boiling, turn the heat back down to low and wait until the broth is at a steady simmer.

     

    Star Anise

    Midget Corn

    Star anise is perhaps the most beautiful spice. Photo courtesy SilkRoadSpices.ca. Bottom: Customize your soup with ingredients like baby corn. Photo courtesy Alibaba.com.

     
    4. At this point, hold the bowl of eggs in your left hand and slowly stir the broth with a whisk in your right hand. Pour the egg into the broth in a slow and steady stream and watch it form an eggy ribbon as soon as it hits the broth. (If it doesn’t immediately form a ribbon, the broth needs to be hotter—so stop pouring and turn up the heat for a few minutes before trying again.) Continue to pour and stir slowly until all of the eggs are in. Let the broth stand for a few minutes for the eggs to finish cooking, then garnish with parsley and serve.
     
    WHAT IS STAR ANISE?

    Perhaps the prettiest spice, star anise (photo above) comes from an evergreen tree native to Vietnam and China. Although it is not related to the herb anise, it closely resembles anise in flavor since both contain the organic compound anethole.

    Star anise, the seed of the tree, is harvested from the star-shaped pericarp*.

    It is widely used in China, where it is a component of Chinese five-spice powder; in India it is a major component of garam masala. It is also prominent in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines. In Vietnam, you’ll find it in our favorite soup, pho. It is widely grown for commercial use in China, India, and most other countries in Asia.

    The French use it in mulled wine (vin chaud).
     
    *Pericarp is a type of plant tissue, the outer layer of the flower’s ovary wall. It surrounds the seeds, in this case, the star anise.
      

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    RECIPE: Bhaji, Indian-Style Onion Rings

    Onion Rings Indian Style

    A yummy twist for onion ring fans: spiced onion rings with spicy ketchup. Photo colurtesy Maya Kaimal.

     

    If you’re looking for interesting Super Bowl fare, add a spin to onion rings with this recipe from Indian food doyenne Maya Kaimal.

    Serve it with spicy ketchup—store bought or home made, by mixing some heat into your regular ketchup.

    RECIPE: BHAJI, INDIAN-STYLE ONION RINGS

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable oil for deep frying, or as needed
  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia), peeled, cut into ½-inch thick rings
  • Maya Kaimal Spicy Ketchup or make your own spicy ketchup
  • Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in a wok or 4-quart pot over medium heat, to 350°F.

    2. MIX the chickpea flour, cumin, cayenne, turmeric and salt in a medium bowl. Add the water and stir until batter is formed. It should be just thick enough to coat an onion ring without sliding off too quickly. Adjust with more water if necessary.

    3. DIP the onion rings into batter and coat each thoroughly. Deep-fry the rings, in 3 or 4 batches, in the oil until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

    4. SERVE with spicy ketchup.

    FIND MORE RECIPES AT MAYAKAIMAL.COM.

     
      

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    SUPER BOWL RECIPE: Football Calzone

    What have you planned for the Super Bowl? How about this Football Calzone: layers of pizza crust topped with pepperoni, sauce and mozzarella.

    It was created by Beth of HungryHappenings.com for Tablespoon.com, part of Pillsbury. Beth who says that it is “super simple” to make and recommends it as a hearty appetizerg.

    First, you’ll need a Wilton First And Ten Football Pan. Made for cakes, it’s also happy to bake your calzone.

    A calzone is essentially a “pocket pizza”: It has the same ingredients as pizza, but the crust is folded over, similar to an empanada or turnover.

    You also can stuff more ounces of ingredients into a calzone than you can add to a pizza crust. Although Beth doesn’t include ricotta in this recipe, we love to pile in ricotta as well as mozzarella.

    RECIPE: FOOTBALL CALZONE

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

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 tubes Pillsbury refrigerated thin pizza crust
  • 3 ounces pepperoni, sliced
  • 3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1-1/2 cups pizza sauce
  • 1 string cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Spray a football-shaped cake pan with cooking spray.

    2. UNROLL 2 pizza crusts onto baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Cut football shapes out of crusts, one larger than the other, which will fit inside the cake pan. Tip: First cut a football shape from parchment, check the size against the pan, and use it as a cutting template.

     

    Football Pizza

    string-cheese-daytondailynews-shutterstock_46018177-230

    Top and middle: Football Calzone. Photos courtesy Tablespoon.com. Bottom: String cheese for the football laces. Photo courtesy DaytonDailyNews.com.

     
    3. UNROLL and drape the third tube of pizza dough over the inside of football pan. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the pepperoni, cheese, and sauce. Top with the smaller football crust. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the remaining pepperoni, cheese, and sauce. Top with larger football-shaped crust. Sprinkle on the remaining pepperoni, cheese, and sauce.

    4. UNROLL and drape the fourth tube of pizza dough over top of the pan. Cut off the dough around the edge of pan and pinch the dough together along the edge.

    5. BAKE for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven off, cover the calzone with foil, and leave in oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the string cheese to create the laces of the football.

    6. REMOVE the calzone from the oven and un-mold it onto a serving platter. Add “laces” of string cheese. Serve hot.

     
    HERE ARE STEP-BY-STEP PHOTOS AND INSTRUCTIONS.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Easy Roasted Spiced Carrots

    Love roasted root vegetables? Who doesn’t!

    Turn a humble bag of carrots into delicious roasted carrots, spiced and fragrant with cinnamon, cumin and ginger.

    RECIPE: CUMIN-SPICED ROASTED CARROTS

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. DICE the carrots into ½-inch thick pieces. Leave the skin on as desired.

    2. MIX all ingredients together and bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

     
    WHAT IS CUMIN?

    Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. Its botanical family, Apiaceae, is also known as the celery or carrot family, a family of mostly aromatic plants with hollow stems.

    Caraway and dill are also members of the family.

     

    Cumin Spiced Carrots

    Cumin

    Top: Cumin-spiced carrots from Evolution Fresh. Bottom: Whole and ground cumin seeds. Photo courtesy Silk Road Spices.

     
    Cumin grew wild from the east Mediterranean to India, and is common in the cuisines of those areas. Seeds excavated in Syria have been dated to the second millennium B.C.E. Cumin seeds are also found in ancient Egyptian archaeological sites.

    Flavorful and aromatic, cumin was popular throughout the ancient world.

  • It is mentioned in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 28:27) and the New Testament (Matthew 23:23) of the Bible.
  • The ancient Greeks kept cumin in a container on the dining table, much as we keep pepper today.
  • Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine.
  • In India, it has been used for millennia as an ingredient and is part of curry powder and garam masala spice blends.
  • It is also added to other spice blends, including achiote, adobo, bahaarat, chili powder and sofrito.
     
    Cumin was brought to the New World by Spanish and Portuguese colonists, and has become a popular ingredient in Latin American cuisines.

    Several different varieties of cumin are cultivated today, the most popular of which are are black and green cumin.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Your Own Hummus

    Garnished Hummus

    Hummus With Garnishes

    Hummus Sandwich

    Hummus Flatbread

    Top: Hummus, lightly garnished at Shaya | New Orleans. Second: Hummus with sophisticated garnishing at Shaya. Third: Hummus on a sandwich from EatWellEnjoyLife.com. Bottom: Hummus flatbread with arugula, at The Purple Carrot.

     

    Hummus, a dip and spread made from chickpeas, has been eaten for millennia: Chickpeas and the sesame seeds used to make tahini were among man’s first cultivated crops.

    Hummus has long been served in every Greek and Middle Eastern restaurant in the U.S. But following its endorsement by nutritionists as a healthful snack and better-for-you dip, the once-niche product’s sales have grown dramatically in the U.S., following the trajectory of another food from its neck of the woods, Greek yogurt. Unlike yogurt, hummus is accessible to lactose-intolerant and vegan customers, and is a pareve ingredient for kosher diets.

    Smaller brands like Abraham’s and Yorgo’s have been around for 30 years or more. But Sabra, another modest brand begun 30 years ago, had the good fortune to be purchased by Israeli food giant, Strauss Group, in 2006. Strauss, in turn, sold a 50% interest to Pepsico in 2008.
     
    BEYOND CLASSIC (PLAIN) HUMMUS

    With the best marketing clout of any hummus in the world—from distribution, advertising and promotion to endorsements such as becoming the NFL’s Official Dip [whatever that means]—Sabra had the resources not only to become the top seller in the hummus category, but one of the top healthful snacks and dips in the U.S. It also had the ability to make more consumers seek flavored hummus, an explosive category that is very American.

    Sales of the refrigerated flavored spreads alone, a category dominated by hummus, grew 21% in 2015 to almost $700 million. [Source: IRI]. And oh, the flavors! New ones seem to appear monthly to keep customers interested, often as limited editions which may then become permanent parts of the line.

    Tribe Hummus, our personal favorite, has done an exemplary job of turning hummus into a fun food beyond a plain spread. Consider these flavors:

    Everything (one of our favorites, like an “everything” bagel), Fiery Sriracha, Forty Spices, Garlic, Harvest Carrot, Lemon Rosemary Focaccia, Mediterranean Olive, Mediterranean Style, Spicy Red Pepper, Sweet Roasted Red Peppers, Vine Ripened Tomato & Basil and Zesty Spice & Garlic, among others.

    Tribe’s latest limited edition is Ranch, which provides amazing ranch flavor in what is a dairy-free spread (authentic ranch dressing has a base of buttermilk).

    Other brands have featured beet, cilantro chimichurri, edamame, guacamole, horseradish, kalamata olive, lemongrass chili, pumpkin, sundried tomato, Thai chili and spinach artichoke hummus flavors. The lesson is: If you like a particular flavor, try stirring it into hummus.
     
    IT’S EASY TO MAKE HUMMUS AT HOME

    We can go through an eight-ounce container of hummus in a day. Our friend Jerry teased us, because he has been making hummus in his food processor for 20 years—for a lot less than it costs to buy it.

    We also listened to Steve Sando of RanchoGordo.com, who sells the world’s great heirloom beans and legumes (check out his retail store when you’re in San Francisco or Napa Valley—you’ll buy many pounds’ worth). Canned chickpeas are not even in his vocabulary.

    “You may think I am biased,” says Steve, “but first and foremost, you need to start with good, recent-crop garbanzos. You can use the dusty old bag [of dried chickpeeas] you picked up at the supermarket or you can use ours. They cook quickly, they have a fresh, almost nutty flavor and you don’t need to rinse them the way you must with canned beans.

    “I understand that some people want to soak the beans, others don’t. Some salt up front, some brine, some salt later. Whatever makes you happy and inspires you to make [it] is what works for me—except for one thing: baking soda.

    “Many recipes call for a pinch or more of baking soda to help soften the garbanzos. Only if your beans are old, or if you live in the desert where beans age very quickly, may this be a good idea.”

     
    CANNED VS. DRIED CHICKPEAS

    Canned chickpeas are more convenient to buy and faster to work with. But they are canned in salt and don’t have the same “fresh” flavor as dried chickpeas.

    Dried chickpeas have better flavor and texture, which is especially noticeable in plain (unflavored) hummus.
     
    RECIPE: RANCHO GORDO HOMEMADE HUMMUS

    Fresh garbanzos (chickpeas) make the best-tasting hummus, but if you can’t get them or don’t have the extra time to cook them, default to the best canned brand. Canned chickpeas need to be rinsed to remove the salt solution.

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound fresh garbanzos (chickpeas)
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 tablespoons tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnish: extra virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: smoked Spanish paprika
  • Other garnish (see below)
  • Dippers: crudités, toasted pita, pita chips, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the garbanzos and onion in a large pot, cover by two inches of water and bring to a strong boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, add the bay leaf and cook until tender. Add more water, boiled in a tea kettle, if needed.

    2. DRAIN the garbanzos, reserving a quarter cup for garnishing if you want. Add them to a food processor* with the tahini, lemon, garlic and salt; pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust the tahini, lemon and salt to your liking.

    3. TRANSFER the hummus into a shallow bowl and with a chopstick or other tool, draw a swirl pattern on top. Alternatively, use the back of a large spoon to create a large center indentation (see photos above). Gently drizzle your best extra virgin olive oil over the top, letting it flow as it may. Dust with Spanish paprika and/or other garnishes or dot with the reserved, whole garbanzos. Serve with crudités, toasted pita, pita chips, etc.
     
    *Steve prefers to blend his hummus in a deep bowl using an immersion blender.

     
    HUMMUS GARNISHES

    Use whatever you like, in any combination that you like. In addition to the options below, don’t rule out anything else that appeals to you.

  • Citrus zest
  • Minced herbs of choice (flat parsley is terrific here and mint is a revelation, but follow your taste buds)
  • Olives, sliced
  • Pickled vegetables (including jalapeños and peppadews)
  • Pine nuts or pistachios (also try topping with cooked ground lamb and ground flat-leaf parsley)
  • Sauce: chiles in adobo, yogurt sauce, or other that you’d enjoy combining with hummus)
  • Spices of choice: aleppo pepper, red chili flakes or other hot chile; cumin; paprika
  • Whole cooked garbanzos
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A Popcorn Bar For Healthy Snacking

    We’ve been getting daily pitches for Super Bowl snacks, none of which would pass muster with New Year’s healthy eating resolutions (crudités with yogurt dip instead of pizza and wings, for example).

    So we’ve decided to publish one of our favorite good-for-you snack (see below) that’s also lots of fun: the Popcorn Bar.

    Popcorn is a whole grain snack, and low in calories unless caloric toppings/mix-ins are added. But provide an assortment of healthy toppings along with the candy, and there will be something for everyone.

    WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR POPCORN BAR

    Better-For-You Toppings/Mix-Ins

  • Apple chips (our favorite is Bare Fruit)
  • Cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg (blend it yourself)
  • Chopped cilantro or other herb
  • Corn Nuts/Inka Corn
  • Diced jalapeño
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Mini pretzels or pretzel sticks
  • Nuts (pine nuts, peanuts, pistachios, slivered almonds)
  • Pepper or chile flakes
  • Seasoned salt
  • Seeds: chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, etc.
  • Other spices
  • Trail mix
  •  
    Fun & Sweet Toppings/Mix-Ins

  • Candy: gummy bears, jelly beans, Junior Mints, mini
    marshmallows, mini peanut butter cups, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces
  • Chocolate-covered or candied nuts; candy-coated seeds
  • Coconut flakes
  • Chocolate chips and other baking chips (butterscotch, mint,
    peanut butter, vanilla)
  • Cinnamon sugar (blend it yourself: cinnamon, sugar and a bit
    of nutmeg)
  • Dried fruit (blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc.)
  •    

    Popcorn Toppings

    Popcorn Toppings

    Popcorn Bar

    Top: Popcorn bar; photo courtesy Brit.co. Middle: Candy-focused toppings for kids, courtesy Family Fresh Meals. Bottom: Popcorn bar from Popcorn.org.

  • Goldfish or other cheese crackers
  •  
    Plus

  • 3 cups of popped corn per person (it’s much better to pop the corn yourself and serve it fresh, than to buy it)
  • Bowls for ingredients and bowls for serving
  • Spoons for ingredients and for mixing them in individual bowls
  • Napkins
  •  
    RECIPE: EASY MICROWAVE POPCORN

    Plan on three cups per person. Instead of trying to make a mega-batch in the microwave, try no more than 1 cup of kernels at a time. Microwaves differ in power, so if you want to pop more than one cup at a time, do a test batch.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable* oil
  • Brown paper lunch bag
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the popcorn and oil in a bowl and mix to coat. Add to bag and sprinkle in the salt. Fold the top of the bag over twice to seal in the ingredients.

    2. MICROWAVE on full power for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes, listening until you hear pauses of 2-3 seconds between pops. Remove the bag from the microwave. Even though there may be some unpopped kernels, to continue cooking risks burning the popped kernels.

    3. OPEN the bag carefully, releasing the hot steam; then pour into a serving bowl.
     
    *For an interesting twist, experiment with other oils you may have on hand: nut oils, sesame oil, etc.

     

    Popcorn Kernels

    It’s easy to make all-natural popcorn in the
    microwave with a brown paper bag. The
    result: additive-free corn. Photo courtesy
    Squawkfox.

     

    STOVETOP POPPING INSTRUCTIONS

    1. COVER the bottom of a 3- to 4-quart pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil (don’t use butter, it will burn). Place 3 kernels of popcorn in the pan, cover with a loose lid that allows steam to escape, and heat. When the kernels pop…

    2. POUR in enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan, one kernel deep. Cover the pan and shake to evenly spread the oil. When the popping begins to slow to a few seconds apart, remove the pan from the stove top. The heated oil will still pop the remaining kernels.

    3. COOL for at least 5 minutes before serving.
     
    WHY POPCORN IS GOOD FOR YOU

    It’s a pleasant surprise: home-popped popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks you can enjoy.

    It’s full of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help to neutralize the free radicals that contribute to aging. In fact, popcorn has one of the highest levels of polyphenols of any plant food.

    It’s also a whole grain, packed with fiber. If you use just a little butter or cheese, you’re adding a bit of cholesterol; but it’s just as easy to skip the cheese, use olive oil, and pile on lots of herbs and spices.

    Note that prepackaged, store-bought microwave popcorn is less good for you, made with chemicals and synthetics for flavoring and coloring.

    So pop it yourself—it’s easy enough!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grain Bowl For Breakfast & Brunch

    Poached Egg Grain Bowl

    A new approach to breakfast: egg with grain
    and veggie. Photo and recipe courtesy Good
    Eggs
    | San Francisco.

     

    A BRIEF BACKGROUND ON BREAKFAST TRADITIONS

    Traditional American breakfasts are echoes of the elaborate breakfasts of the English gentry, which fortified them for a day of sport. They’re much less elaborate today, but regular Brits can still enjoy a heaping plate of eggs, bacon, black and white sausage, beans, kidneys, kippers, mushrooms, potatoes and tomatoes, with a side of fried bread.

    In the late 19th century, the morning fare for wealthy Americans was similar: eggs with cutlets, ham, fried fish, deviled kidneys, black pudding (sausage), cold grouse or pheasant, fruit and pie. The less affluent made do with eggs or porridge.

    No wonder thousands of the well-to-do headed to spa-like sanitariums for rejuvenation. At one sanitarium, a physician named Caleb Jackson changed the way his clients breakfasted.

    In 1863, he developed a healthful, spartan, fiber-filled breakfast—the first cold breakfast cereal. Granula, as he called it, was an early version of Grape-Nuts, whose inventor, C.W. Post, first had it when a patient at another sanitarium.

    To make granula, baked sheets of graham flour dough were dried, broken into nuggets, baked again, and broken into smaller pieces. The resulting dense, chewy grain clusters had to be soaked overnight in milk before serving.

     
    Other spas followed suit; and as prepared, packaged foods became more common, granula paved the way for Bran Flakes (1915), All Bran (1916), Rice Krispies (1927) and Raisin Bran* (1942), eaten with milk and sugar. In 1951 the onslaught of heavily sugared cereals targeted to kids began, producing Corn Pops, Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks and Cocoa Krispies. Here’s a detailed history of breakfast cereal.

    Around the world, there’s less of a distinction in foods served for breakfast versus other meals.

  • In China, there is a savory rice porridge called congee, but breakfast also can include dumplings, soup with rice and sweet items like fried sponge cake and steamed custard bun.
  • The traditional Japanese breakfast has rice, fish, miso soup, sticky soy beans and nori dried seaweed.
  • A common South Indian breakfast has vegetable stew served with steamed lentil and rice bread, and dosa, a thin crunchy crepe with spicy potato filling. [Source]
  •  
    A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO BREAKFAST

    Today’s tip is for a hybrid breakfast, combining breakfast eggs with dinner items: cooked grains and vegetables.

    This recipe was devised by Good Eggs in San Franciso, as a light dinner entrée: a poached egg with quinoa and broccoli rabe. They call it a grain bowl. But we make it for breakfast, to replace butter-fried or -scrambled eggs and hash browns (or bagels and cream cheese) with better-for-you chow.

    You can replace the poached egg with another style, the quinoa with other grains or legumes, and the broccoli rabe with your vegetable of choice.

    And you can serve it at breakfast, brunch, even for lunch.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, total time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: POACHED EGG WITH QUINOA AND BROCCOLI RABE

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe, stems cut off (substitute spinach)
  • 2 pinches chile flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste†
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa or other whole grain
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter), melted‡
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons dill or other fresh herbs (basil, chervil, mint, roughly chopped
  • Garnish: flake salt, a pinch of chile flakes
  • _______________________________________
    *We substituted chopped pistachio nuts, untoasted. You can substitute other nuts or seeds.

    †If you plan to garnish with flake salt, under-salt the rabe and quinoa.

    ‡We didn’t have time to clarify, so used melted butter.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOAST the pine nuts: Heat a pan over medium heat and add the pine nuts. Toast for 3-5 minutes, tossing them in the pan occasionally to ensure an even color. Remove when they’re golden brown and transfer to a bowl.

    2. RETURN the pan to the stove, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn the heat to high. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes. As soon as the garlic starts to turn golden brown, turn the heat down to medium and add the broccoli rabe and a pinch or two of chile flakes.

    3. TOSS the rabe in the oil and garlic using tongs, and sauté together for 5-7 minutes. Add a pinch or two of salt and taste. You want the leaves to be tender and the flavor to be a bit bitter, but delicious. If the rabe still has too much kick for your taste, cook for a few minutes longer. When the rabe is done, remove from heat and set aside. While the broccoli cooks…

    4. SEASON the quinoa. Add the ghee and herbs to the quinoa and stir thoroughly. Finish with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper to taste.

    5. COOK the eggs. You may have your own way of poaching eggs (we use an egg poacher; the result is less pretty but it’s a lot easier). Otherwise, here’s a technique from Good Eggs.

  • Fill a wide and deep pan about ¾ of the way with water. Put it over high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the water is boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer. Crack the first egg into a metal ladle and submerge it in the water while holding the handle of the ladle upright. Poach the egg in the ladle for about 5 minutes (more or less depending on your yolk consistency preference.
  • To check on progress, lift the ladle to just above the water level and tip it gently to pour out excess water. Gently touch the yolk with the tip of your finger to get a sense of how runny it will be. When the egg is poached, gently transfer it to a slotted spoon and slide the egg onto a paper towel. Repeat with the second egg.
  • 6. ASSEMBLE: Spoon the quinoa into the bottom of a bowl, then the broccoli rabe, then the egg. Finish with some flake salt, a pinch of chile, fresh herbs and nuts.

     
    BROCCOLI, BROCCOLINI & BROCCOLI RABE:
    THE DIFFERENCE

  • Broccoli is a member of the Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, which includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens and turnips, among other veggies. It has thick stalks and large, dense florets. It grows with large outer leaves, which are usually stripped away prior to hitting store shelves. However, they are edible and delicious.
  • Broccolini, which has long, slender stalks and small, less dense florettes, is hybrid developed in California by crossing conventional broccoli with Chinese kale. Unlike broccoli and broccoli rabe, it doesn not have leaves.
  •  

    Head Of Broccoli

    Raab

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/broccolini bodecology.com 230

    Top: Broccoli, with thick, shorter stalks and large florets. Photo courtesy Burpee. Middle: Broccoli rabe, which has long stems, small florets and elegant leaves, can look like a bouquet. Photo courtesy Conscious Life Force. Bottom: Broccolini has long stems but no leaves. Photo courtesy Bodecology.com.

     

  • Broccoli rabe or rapini (pronounced robb and sometimes spelled raab) is popular in Southern Italy, where it is often served with pasta or polenta. It looks like a very leafy broccolini but is actually a member of the turnip genus. It is more bitter than broccoli and broccolini.
  •   

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