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TIP OF THE DAY: Guasacaca Sauce

Guasacaca Sauce Ingredients

Blender Sauce

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Top: The ingredients for guasacaca. Center: Simply add them to a blender or food processor. Bottom: The finished sauce in its original consistency. Photos courtesy Cory of TheAmuseBouche.com. Here’s her recipe.

 

A few nights ago we had a revelation. A great chef did an irresistible spin on guasacaca, the popular Venezuelan green sauce for grilled meats.

Chef Karlos Ponte, who ws born in Venezuela and worked at El Bulli and Noma, is now executive chef at Taller in Copenhagen. He and his team came to New York City to cook a one-night-only tasting dinner at The Pines in Brooklyn.

Chef Ponte changed the proportions of the classic guasacaca sauce: less avocado, more vinegar. In fact, we tasted herbs and acid instead of avocado.

While Venezuelan guasacaca is often made thick and chunky like guacamole, his interpretation is thin and acidic, like a French persillade (parsley, garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar).

This balance was perfection: We actually turned our backs to the room and licked the sauce off the plate. Thanks go to Taller’s general manager Jacob Brink Lauridsen (born in Venezuela, raised in Denmark), for taking this as a compliment.
 
WHAT IS GUASACACA SAUCE?

Guasacaca (wa-sa-KA-ka) combines avocado with vinegar and herbs. It can be made with with bit of jalapeño or hot sauce, although like guacamole, it is not intended to be a hot and spicy sauce.

Guasacaca is served with beef, chicken and sausage grilled on a parilla.* It’s also a popular condiment with arepas and empanadas.

We generously received a container of the sauce “to go,” and have since served it with eggs, fish and seafood; as a salad dressing; and as a dip with crudités.

Chef Ponte’s sauce was so splendid, that our group of sophisticated palates used it with the breads (Chef Ponte’s recipes, also splendid), and drank some of it from the container on the way home from the restaurant.

Here’s the catch: We now have to work out proportions similar to Chef Ponte’s. We started by eliminating one avocado and doubling the red wine vinegar. Our first batch was delicious, but not yet perfection.

In the interim, here’s the classic guasacaca recipe, a real find for summer grilling. Add less oil for a dip.

 
RECIPE: GUASACACA SAUCE

Prep time is just 10 minutes, no cooking involved!

Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 2 ripe Haas avocados, roughly diced
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, roughly chopped
  • Optional: 1 medium jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves†
  • 1 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves†
  • 1/3 cup red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup olive oil olive oil‡ (start with 1/3 and add more oil—or water—to desired consistency)
  • 1 tablespoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients except the olive oil, salt and pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the container as needed. Process until smooth.

    2. DRIZZLE in the olive oil in a continuous stream through feed tube (or top of blender), with the motor running. Process until smooth.

    3. TASTE and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand at room temperature for an hour for the flavors to blend. Taste again and add more seasoning as desired.

    4. SERVE the sauce at room temperature. You can make it in advance and store it in the fridge, but bring the sauce to room temperature before serving.

    NOTE: If made in advance, the avocado portion can darken. Tamp a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the sauce.
     
    _____________________
    *A a parilla is a simple grill comprising an iron grate over hot coals.

    †You can use less herbs—as little as 1/2 cup parsley and 1/4 cup cilantro—to taste. Save the stems for stock, soup or other recipes. You can also chop them and toss them into green salads.

    ‡In Venezuela, corn oil is used instead of olive oil.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: French Toast Sandwiches

    With Father’s Say tomorrow, we couldn’t wait to test these French Toast recipes.

    First up: French Toast sandwiches. Use French Toast slices as bread to make a sandwich.

    We made a wonderbar French Toast sandwich with smoked salmon, soft goat cheese (substitute cream cheese), onion and tomato. Then we tried other favorite fillings:

  • Brandied Peaches (sauté sliced peaches in butter; add Grand Marnier or other brandy to taste)
  • Chicken Liver Mousse & Sliced Vidalia Onion
  • Cream Cheese & Jelly
  • Fried Egg, Bacon & Baby Arugula
  • Grilled Ham & Cheese
  • Grilled/Roasted Vegetables
  • Mascarpone & Caramelized Onions
  • Mozzarella, Tomato & Fresh Basil
  • Nutella & Bananas
  • Peanut Butter & Bananas
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Sautéed chicken livers, mushrooms and onions
  • Add your favorite filling here
  •  
    To make Grilled Cheese French Toast: Sauté the second side of the bread to a lighter “toast,” add the cheese (and ham or other meat), add the top slice, and grill until the cheese melts.

    RECIPE: APPLE PECAN FRENCH TOAST

    This recipe isn’t a sandwich, but was such a delight that we had to include it.

    The recipe is from Zulka Morena, producers of top-quality, minimally processed sugars (granulated, confectioner’s, brown) made with freshly-harvested sugar cane. The sugars are not refined, which helps preserve the fresh flavor and natural properties of the sugar cane. You can taste the difference in a cup of tea. Zulka makes.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 loaf day old French bread, sliced into 1 inch thick pieces
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 medium apples
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Garnish: maple syrup for drizzling
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CORE, peel and quarter the apples, then slice into ¼ inch thick slices. Place in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon cinnamon and ¼ cup of the sugar, making sure the apples are well coated. Set aside.

    2. WHISK together the eggs, ¼ cup of sugar, remaining tablespoon of cinnamon, vanilla, milk and cream in a large bowl.

    3. GREASE the bottom of a large baking pan with the butter. Dip half of the slices of bread in the egg mixture quickly so they are not saturated, one at a time, and place in the pan. Spread half of the apple mixture over the bread. Repeat with the remaining bread and apple mixture. Then pour the remaining egg mixture over the top of the pan.

    4. SPRINKLE the top with the chopped pecans and remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

    5. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Remove the pan from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking, to warm to room temperature. nd bake 45 minutes, covered. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm, drizzled with maple syrup.
     
    FIND MORE FRENCH TOAST RECIPES

     

    French Toast Sandwich

    Nutella French Toast

    Pepper Jack French Toast

    Apple Pecan French Toast

    Top: French Toast sandwich with fig jam. Second: French Toast sandwich with Nutella and jam on pandoro yeast bread with fruit (photo courtesy Bauli). Third: Grilled Cheese French Toast—even richer than grilled cheese because of the egg-milk batter (photo courtesy Arla USA). Bottom: Not a sandwich but a delicious recipe with apples and pecans (photo courtesy Zulka).

  • Pull down the “Gourmet Foods” menu at the right; select “Breakfast.”
  • Go to TheNibble.com main website and search for “French Toast Recipe.”
  •   

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    FOOD FUN: Whimsical Mac & Cheese Recipe

    Fully Loaded Mac & Cheese

    Baked Macaroni & Cheese

    Take your choice: innovative Mac & Cheese (photo courtesy Chef Eric LeVine) or a conventional preparation (photo courtesy Dietz and Watson).

     

    What’s on this plate?

  • A base of macaroni and cheese.
  • Surrounded with a ring of duck and mushrooms in hoisin sauce.
  • Topped with 5 jumbo grilled, bacon-wrapped shrimp.
  • Garnished with fresh rosemary (substitute chopped green onions or chives.)
  •  
    This may be just the thing for a fun food-loving dad on Father’s Day.

    The concept is from one of our favorite innovative chefs, Eric LeVine.

    Chef Eric is the author of Small Bites Big Flavor: Simple, Savory, And Sophisticated Recipes For Entertaining.

    This imaginative cookbook is written for home chefs who want to expand their repertoire with fun and unconventional dishes.

    The 100+ recipes also include mid-sized, larger and sweet bites, and even some signature cocktails. It demonstrates how much fun it can be to prepare, present, share, and of course, eat food.
     
    MORE FUN MAC & CHEESE RECIPES

    These are a bit more conventional, yet still fun food:

  • Apple, Texas & Truffle Mac & Cheese Recipes
  • DIY Mac & Cheese Party Bar
  • Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Mac & Cheese Potato Skins
  •  

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Off-Season Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Dipped Macaroons Recipe

    Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroon Inside

    Top: Chocolate-dipped macaroons (photo courtesy McCormick). Center: Plain coconut macaroons (photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections). Bottom: Up close (photo by Georgie Grd | Wikipedia).

     

    If you like coconut, don’t wait until Passover* to make coconut macaroons. They’re a great treat year-round, and gluten-free. Bring them as house gifts: They travel well without breaking.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Serena Rain of VanillaQueen.com, purveyor of top-quality vanilla beans, extracts, pastes, powders, sugars and salts.
     
    RECIPE: COCONUT MACAROONS

    You don’t need to add chocolate to macaroons; but if you want to, there are two options:

  • Dip the macaroons in a chocolate glaze.
  • Mix chocolate chips into the dough. This is an especially good option for warm-weather months.
  •  
    Ingredients For About 24 Cookies

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond meal†
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (for the dough)
  • Optional: 4 ounces quality chocolate bar (for a glaze)
  • Option: 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  •  
    Preparation

    You can incorporate the orange peel into the dough or the glaze. We like the “lift” it gives to the recipe.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well incorporated. Use a spoon to scoop tablespoon-sized mounds of the coconut “dough.” Shape into round balls and place on the parchment paper. Alternative: You can drop the dough as unshaped mounds. See the difference between the top photo (dropped) and the bottom photo (shaped).

    3. BAKE for about 20 minutes or until golden brown (aim for the color in the center photo). Let cool.

    4. MAKE the glaze. Place the chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and if necessary, heat for 30 more seconds until fully melted. Dip the bottoms of the cooled macaroons into the chocolate. Alternatively, place the cookies on a tray lined with parchment paper and drizzle the tops with chocolate; let cool until set. Some people prefer the glaze on top: a chocolate dome. Take your pick.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    Macaroons appeared in the late 15th or early 16th century in Italy. The historical record isn’t clear, but they are believed to have been created by monks. There were thousands of monasteries in medieval Europe, and monks created different types of beers, brandies and liqueurs, cheeses, pretzels, sweets, wines and spirits.

    The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s amaretti cookies, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it had no flour or leavening‡, so could be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet. Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in some recipes, replaced them. Today in the U.S., coconut macaroons are the norm.

    Macaroons came to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of France’s King Henri II. In France they evolved into delicate meringue cookie sandwiches filled with ganache or jam.

    Here’s more about the different types of macaroons.
     
    _____________________
    *During the week of Passover, in April, celebrants eat no leavened grains. Macaroons (all varieties) are grain free.

    †Almond meal, or almond flour, is ground from whole, blanched sweet almonds. The nuts are very low in carbohydrates and very nutritious.

    ‡Leavening is the agent that raises and lightens a baked good. Examples include yeast, baking powder and baking soda. Instead of these, macaroons (all types) are leavened with egg whites.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake Doughnuts For Father’s Day

    National Doughnut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June, but there’s an even better reason to make doughnuts on the third Sunday: Father’s Day.

    If Dad loves doughnuts, get up an hour earlier and bake a batch for his breakfast.

    Yes, bake them—no frying required with these cake-like doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    To bake doughnuts you’ll need a doughnut pan to hold their shape. If you don’t want to invest in one (they’re $16.95 at King Arthur Flour), see if you can borrow one.

    You can serve them plain, with a sugar coating or with a chocolate glaze.

    What could be better? We added crisp, chopped bacon to top the doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    RECIPE: BAKED DOUGHNUTS, CAKE-STYLE

    Prep time is 20 to 30 minutes; bake time is 15 minutes; icing time is 5 minutes, then a few minutes to let the icing set.

    Ingredients For 12 Doughnuts

  • 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional: 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder (substitute instant coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter (substitute 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
  •  
    For The Optional Sugar Coating

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  •  
    For The Optional Chocolate Icing

  • 1 cup good chocolate bar*, chopped (substitute chocolate chips)
  • 4 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
  •    

    Chocolate Fudge Doughnut

    Bacon Doughnuts

    Apple Cider Donuts

    Top: It’s easy to bake doughnuts (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). Center: We added chopped bacon as a garnish (photo courtesy d’Artagnan | Facebook). Bottom: Don’t want chocolate? These apple cider doughnuts pre-date chocolate in history (photo Karo Syrup).

  • Optional garnish: crumbled bacon, chopped nuts, dragées, pretzel pieces, sprinkles, etc.
  •  
    Plus

  • Doughnut pans
  •  
    ______________________
    *If your palate knows great chocolate, a good bar (Chocolate, Dove, Green & Black’s, Godiva, Guittard, Lindt, Perugina, Scharffen Berger, etc.) is better than chips—unless you use Guittard chocolate chips, our favorite.

     

    Lemon Glazed Donut

    Pretzel Donuts

    Top: For a lemon glaze, add a teaspoon of lemon juice and grated peel to the icing (photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com). Bottom: Another sweet-and-salty doughnut, topped with pretzels (photo courtesy ACozyKitchen.com).

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have two pans, just bake the batter in two batches.

    2. WHISK together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

    3. WHISK together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and vinegar in a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl. You may notice some curdling of the milk, which is normal.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter or vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. There’s no need to beat the batter; just make sure everything is well-combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling them between 3/4 and full.

    5. BAKE the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove the doughnuts from the oven; after 30 seconds, loosen their edges, turn the pan upside down over a rack, and gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.

    5a. For sugar-coated doughnuts, immediately shake the doughnuts in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; add 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder to the sugar for an additional touch of chocolate.

    6. COOL the doughnuts completely before icing. Combine the chocolate chips and milk or half-and-half in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Heat until the half-and-alf is steaming and starting to bubble. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chips have melted and the icing is smooth.

    7. DIP the top of each doughnut in the icing; or spread icing over the top. Garnish as desired.
     
    A BIT OF DOUGHNUT HISTORY

    Although dough was fried in oil as far back as ancient Rome, food historians generally credit the invention of deep-fried yeast doughnuts to Northern Europeans in Medieval times. The word “doughnut” refers to the small, round, nutlike shape of the original doughnuts—the hole came later. “Donut” is an American phonetic rendering from the 20th century.

     

    Doughnuts were introduced to America in the 17th century by Dutch immigrants, who called them oliekoecken, oil cakes (i.e., fried cakes). In the New World, the doughnut makers replaced their frying oil with lard, which was plentiful and produced a tender and greaseless crust.

    Other immigrants brought their own doughnut variations: The Pennsylvania Dutch and the Moravians brought fastnachts to Lancaster, Pennsylavnia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, respectively; the French brought beignets to New Orleans.

    The word “dough-nut” first appeared in English in the 17th century. The word evolved from dough-nut to doughnut to donut. The airy, yeast-leavened dough-nuts (like Krispy today’s Kremes), were joined by cake doughnuts, leavened with baking powder or baking soda (like Dunkin Donuts).

    By 1845, recipes for “dough-nuts” appeared in American cookbooks. Chemical leavening (baking powder) was substituted for yeast to produce a more cakelike, less breadlike texture; and inexpensive tin doughnut cutters with holes came onto the market.

    Why a hole? For efficiency, the cooked doughnuts were staked on wooden rods.
     
    The Dawn Of National Doughnut Day

    Spell it doughnut or donut, the holiday was created in 1938 by the Salvation Army, to honor the women who served donuts to servicemen in World War I (at that time, it was called the Great War).

      

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    FOOD FUN: Birthday Shots

    What a nifty idea for birthdays! It’s from Julie Albert and Lisa Gnat, the sisters who authored Bite Me. This recipe is from their second book, Bite Me Too. Their latest book, Lick Your Plate, has recently hit the shelves.

    Combine vodka, chocolate liqueur, cream and white cake mix, and top it with whipped cream and sprinkles. That’s a celebration!

    And you don’t have to wait for the birthdays of friends and relatives. You can find hundreds of famous people any any given month. In June alone, there are:

  • Adam Smith, economist
  • Alan Turing, mathmetician
  • Alanis Morisette, musician
  • Allen Iverson, NBA star
  • Angelina Jolie, actor
  • Anne Frank
  • Anthony Bourdain, chef and television host
  •  
    Here’s the full list.

     

    Birthday Shots

    Celebrate birthdays with these yummy Birthday Shots (photo courtesy McArthur & Co).

     
    And that’s just a small portion with a first name beginning with A.
     
    RECIPE: BIRTHDAY SHOTS

    Ingredients Per Shot

  • 1/2 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce cream
  • 2 tsp dry white cake mix
  • Garnishes: whipped cream and sprinkles
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX the first four ingredients in a shaker with ice; strain into a shot glass. Garnish with whipped cream and top with sprinkles.
     
    Variation

    If there are children in attendance, give them chocolate milk or a shake, garnished with the whipped cream and sprinkles.
     

    DISCOVER MORE AT BITEMEMORE.COM.

      

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    RECIPE: Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

    Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/naked chocolate peanut butter slice thebakerchick 230

    Audra’s magnificent naked cake: chocolate and peanut butter. We’re about to eat the computer screen. Photo courtesy TheBakerChick.com.

     

    Oh, how we love you Audra, The Baker Chick. Your emails with such beautiful photos of your recipes make the day better. Even if we don’t have time to make them, just looking at them is sheer satisfaction.

    In time for Father’s Day, Audra created one of our favorite cakes*: a rich chocolate naked layer cake with peanut butter filling and a brush of frosting. Thank you, thank you!

    A naked cake is related to a stack cake. Both are layer cakes, and are so newly trendy that the terms are used interchangeably. A stack cake has zero outside frosting; a naked cake can have a light swath of frosting on the outside with some naked cake showing through, like this one.

    And now…to the kitchen!

    RECIPE: NAKED CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER LAYER CAKE

    Ingredients For 10-12 Servings
     
    For The Cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 4½ tablespoons safflower or canola oil
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Frosting

  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  •  
    For The Ganache

  • 4.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Optional garnish: mini peanut butter cups, halved
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two cake pans, lining with a circle of parchment paper. You can use 6-, 8- or 9- inch pans; of using 6-inch pans, make at least 3 layers.

    2. WHISK together in a large bowl the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the water, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs, continue to stir until batter is smooth.

    3. DIVIDE the batter among the pans and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

    4. MAKE the ganache: Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer on the stove top and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool and thicken before using (you can pop it into the fridge or freezer).

    5. MAKE the frosting: Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Cream together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Fold in the whipped cream until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Using a serrated knife, level each cake layer, slicing off the “dome” to make the layers even. Place the bottom later on a piece of parchment paper, on a cake turntable (you can use a pedestal cake stand, but invest in an inexpensive turntable). Spread a layer of ganache over the first layer of cake, sticking it into the fridge or freezer as needed between each frosting layer, to firm it up.

    7. CONTINUE with a layer of frosting, then another layer of cake, more ganache, more frosting etc. Add some frosting to the outside of the cake, smoothing with a spatula. Top with chopped peanut butter cups.

     
    _____________________
    *She adapted the base cake recipe from a Martha Stewart cake.

      

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    RECIPE: Sweet & Sour Cucumber Salad

    June 13th is National Cucumber Day. How about a refreshing cucumber salad? It’s a perfect accompaniment to almost everything: a great sandwich side, hot dog topping, cookout and picnic fare, and a complement to grilled foods and Asian dishes.

    This recipe is from Sunset Growers, which used their One Sweet mini cucumbers. The mini cukes are seedless or have limited seeds, and the petite slices are nice visually. But conventional cucumbers are fine.

    It’s also much lower in calories and higher in fiber than mayonnaise-based side salads.

    This cucumber salad is dressed with a yummy sesame vinaigrette. You can make the recipe a day before serving. Turn it into a first course or luncheon salad with cooked shrimp.
     
    RECIPE: ASIAN CUCUMBER SALAD

    Ingredients For 4 to 6 Side Servings (3-1/2 Cups)

  • 6 mini cucumbers or 1-1/2 large convention cucumbers
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Optional: dash of Asian chili sauce
  • 1 green onion (scallion), very thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup tiny-diced red or yellow bell peppers
  •  
    For A Luncheon Salad Or First Course

  • 8 ounces cooked shrimp
  • Green salad for base (we use mesclun)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the vinaigrette. Heat the oil in a small saucepan heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add the sesame seeds and stir until toasty, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cool to room temperature; then stir in the chili sauce. Meanwhile…

    2. THINLY SLICE the cucumbers. Combine the cucumbers, green onions and bell peppers in a bowl and add the cooled sesame dressing. Toss well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve using a slotted spoon.

    3. ADD the greens for lunch or an appetizer, top with the cucumber salad and garnish with the shrimp.

     

    Asian Cucumber Salad Recipe

    Mini Cucumbers

    Gulf Shrimp

    Top: Cucumber is refreshing, versatile and low in calories: a win-win-win. Center: OneSweet mini cucumbers (photos courtesy Sunset Growers). Bottom: Cook some shrimp for a luncheon salad or first course (photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.

     
    MORE FOR NATIONAL CUCUMBER DAY

    Here’s a cucumber cocktail recipe—Cucumber Lemonade made with gin—and the different types of cucumbers.

      

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    RECIPE: Beer Batter Sweet Potato Chips

    Homemade Sweet Potato Chips

    Beer Batter Sweet Potato Chips: Slice ‘em, fry ‘em and enjoy them with spicy ketchup (photo courtesy Maya Kaimal).

     

    What to serve with a cold beer? Why, beer-batter sweet potato chips.

    This recipe, from Chef Maya Kaimal, has an Eastern touch: rice flour instead of wheat flour (bonus: it’s gluten free), and spicy ketchup.

     
    BEER BATTER SWEET POTATO CHIPS

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • ¾ cups rice flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 fluid ounces (½ bottle) lager or other beer
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • Spicy ketchup
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the sweet potatoes and cut them crosswise into ¼-inch thick circles

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

    3. COMBINE the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the beer until well combined. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. Stir before proceeding. Working in batches…

    4. DIP the sweet potatoes in the batter. Use a fork to transfer the slices to the hot oil. Fry the chips for a total of 2½ minutes or so, turning once or twice. The coating will be thin and crispy and only very lightly golden.

    5. USE a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer to the slices to paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Continue until all sweet potatoes are cooked. Serve hot with spicy ketchup.
     
    SPICY KETCHUP

    Chef Maya sells her own spicy ketchup, and there are others on the market: from Tabasco, Huy Fong (with sriracha) and other brands.

    Or, do what we do: Add hot sauce to your regular ketchup. You can make the it sizzle as little or as much as you like.

     
      

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    RECIPE: All-In-One Bloody Mary & Shrimp Cocktail

    If Dad’s drink is a Bloody Mary and he loves a shrimp cocktail, combine both concepts into this two-in-one “cocktail.”

    The recipe was inspired by Farm To Market Bloody Mary Pickles. But you can use your favorite Bloody Mary recipe and add the pickles and shrimp. Here’s THE NIBBLE’s favorite Bloody Mary mix recipe.

    While the top photo shows only 1 shrimp (the original Farm To Market idea was a cocktail garnish), we recommend 3-4 large shrimp (or jumbo, as the budget allows).

    BLOODY MARY SHRIMP COCKTAIL RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • Peeled, deveined, cooked medium shrimp, 3-4 per drink
  • Pickle chips, stuffed olives, peppadews and/or other garnishes
  • Bloody Mary mix and vodka, chilled
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    Preparation

    1. CHILL the Bloody Mary mix and the vodka in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. (We normally keep our vodka in the fridge. Eighty-proof spirits will not freeze.)

    2. TOSS the shrimp with 1 tablespoon lemon juice in large bowl. Thread 1 shrimp and 1 pickle chip on a long toothpick or cocktail pick. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and pickles. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    3. PREPARE the Bloody Mary mix (or open the store-bought bottle) and combine with vodka.

    4. POUR into glasses and garnish each with a shrimp skewer.
     
    MORE BLOODY MARY EXCITEMENT

  • Bloody Marys Without Vodka
  • Eleven Bloody Mary Garnishes
  • New Bloody Mary Garnishes
  • History Of The Bloody Mary
  • Set Up A Bloody Mary Bar Or Cart
  • Surf & Turf Bloody Mary
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    Shrimp Cocktail Bloody Mary

    Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail

    Garnish a Bloody Mary with shrimp—as many as you like (photo courtesy Farm To Market). Center: Use your julep glasses, stemware, or whatever you have that works (photo MackenzieLtd.com). Bottom: More jumbo shrimp, less Mary (photo MackenzieLtd.com).

      

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