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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: BLT Slaw With Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes & More!

bistro-blt-slaw-safeeggs-230r

A BLT salad with blue cheese and avocado in
addition to bacon, lettuce and tomato. In this
photo, the tomato is blended into the
dressing; but we added extra cherry
tomatoes as a garnish for a pop of color.
Photo courtesy SafeEggs.com.

 

We tend to use either shredded cabbage (packaged cole slaw) or romaine as a base for our lunchtime salads, loading them with an assortment of whatever ingredients we have on hand. But we never thought to combine the two until we saw this recipe for BLT Slaw.

In the basic, the tomato of the “BLT” is blended into the dressing. But we added extra cherry tomatoes as a garnish for a pop of color.

WHAT’S A SLAW?

Long part of the culinary repertoire, “koolsla” or “koolsalade” in Dutch means cabbage salad. Cabbage, the “kool” is pronounced “cole.” “Sla” is short for “salade.”

Instead of being pulled into bite-size pieces like lettuce, the cabbage was sliced.

The term got anglicized in the 18th century as cole slaw (and sometimes, cold slaw). Over time, shredded cabbage slaw was joined by other options, like broccoli and carrot slaws. In English, “slaw” came to specify a salad of shredded vegetables.

We adapted this recipe from one called Bistro BLT Slaw on the SafestEggs.com website.

 
The recipe accessorizes slaw with not just with bacon and tomato, but accents of avocado and blue cheese. Blended with a homemade, mayo-like slaw dressing, this combination of fresh flavors is high in fiber and low in carbs. (If you don’t offer extra dressing in Step 4, it’s lower in calories, too.)

You can also add diced chicken or other protein to turn the salad into a main course.

USING PASTEURIZED EGGS

Because the dressing contains raw eggs, like Caesar salad, pasteurized eggs like Safest Choice guarantee against the possibility of rare, though still plausible, salmonella poisoning.

To pasteurize eggs, an all-natural, gentle water bath kills the potentially harmful bacteria in the eggs without changing the texture or nutrition. The eggs still look, cook and taste like raw eggs. Here’s more on pasteurized eggs.

RECIPE: BLT SLAW
 
Prep time is 25 minutes.

Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

For The Slaw

  • 1 package (10 ounces) cole slaw (plain shredded cabbage, or broccoli slaw if you prefer)
  • 6 cups thinly sliced hearts of romaine lettuce
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 6 crisp cooked bacon strips, coarsely crumbled
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute goat cheese)
  • 1 pint sliced cherry tomatoes or equivalent diced heirloom tomatoes in season
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon celery seeds (encouraged!)
  • Optional: extra cherry tomatoes for garnish
  •  

    For The Dressing

  • 2 pasteurized eggs
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

    2. MAKE the dressing. Place the eggs in a food processor or blender and process about 30 seconds. Add the tomato, vinegar, parsley, mustard, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in thin steady stream until combined.
     

     

    coleslaw-dole-230

    Shredded cabbage, the traditional base for cole slaw. As an alternative, use a food processor to shred a whole head of cabbage, and consider red cabbage for color and the fun factor. Photo courtesy Dole.

    3. TOSS half of the dressing with slaw to coat. Garnish with the optional cherry tomatoes.

    4. PASS the remaining dressing for those who want more.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Salmon Sashimi Hors d’Oeuvre

    salmon-sashimi-tuille-maille-230

    Delicious bites. Photo courtesy Maille.

     

    Maille, the venerable French producer of fine mustards, added a European spin to this, placing Japanese-style raw fish on a Parmesan tuile. It also combines substitutes the traditional wasabi for Maille Dijon Mustard With Honey.

    If you don’t eat cheese, or want to shave time from making the recipe, instead of making tuiles you can substitute KA-ME Rice Crunch Crackers in Original, Seaweed or Sesame.

    You can serve these bites anytime, from brunch to cocktails to a first course. Prep time is 25 minutes, including making the tuiles.

    Serve with beer, Martinis, saké or wine.

    RECIPE: SALMON SASHIMI HORS D’OEUVRE

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

  • ½ cup Maille Dijon Mustard with Honey (or other honey mustard)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 8 ounces salmon fillet, skin removed and salmon cut into 24 thin slices
  • 4 ounces coarsely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the mustard with soy sauce in medium bowl; gently stir in the salmon. Let stand 10 minutes.

    3. MAKE the tuiles: Drop the cheese by teaspoonfuls into 24 mounds onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and looks lacy. Remove the baking pan to a wire rack and let cool.

    4. COMBINE the basil, mint, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper; set aside. To serve:

    5. ARRANGE the tuiles on serving platter, then top each with piece of salmon. Garnish with the herb salad and a piece of cherry tomato.
     
    Find more delicious recipes at Maille.com.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Jumbo Croutons

    Most croutons are miniature cubes. Some crouton lovers would like them much larger: more flavor, more crunch.

    And they certainly make salads more fun.

    So today’s tip is. Make jumbo croutons. They make salads more fun. And you can customize the flavors each time, so there’s no “crouton fatigue.”

     
    GENERAL CROUTON TIPS

  • Pick your bread. While baguette is a standard, you can use whole grain, seeded, raisin-semolina or whatever you like.
  • Pick your texture. Crunchier croutons come from drier bread. For the crispest crouton, use day-old or two-day-old bread. Fresh bread takes longer to dry out in the oven; so if that’s what you have, adjust the baking time accordingly.
  • Use a flavored oil. If you have basil oil, chili oil, etc., use it to add more flavor. Whatever oil you select, more oil creates a heavier, more sumptuous crouton.
  • Spice it up. Herbs and spices take your croutons in any direction you like, from the heat of cayenne or red pepper flakes, to the elegance of fines herbes, to exotic notes of curry or Chinese five spice. One of our favorites is toasted sesame seed. You can also add grated cheese.
  •  
    RECIPE: GARLIC CROUTONS

    Ingredients

  • 1 baguette or ficelle*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  •  

    salad-long-croutons-morningstarfarmsFB230r

    Make jumbo croutons any shape you like. These are crouton “fingers.” Photo courtesy MorningStar Farms.

     
    *Ficelle is slender French loaf, thinner than a baguette, no more than two inches wide. The word is French for “string.” It’s a better shape if you want to make round croutons with a diameter of two inches or so.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cut the bread into rounds or fingers.

    2. TOSS the ingredients in a large bowl, coating bread thoroughly. Bake until toasted to your preference (light or dark), 15-20 minutes.

    3. PREPARE and dress the salad. Top with warm croutons and serve. You can store croutons in an airtight container for a day or two.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Berry Croissants

    croissant-fruit-cheese-castelloUSA-230

    Berry croissants: a yummy idea. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     

    For Sunday brunch or afternoon tea*, here’s a fun alternative to a chocolate croissant that provides another reason to enjoy seasonal berries.

    RECIPE: BERRY CROISSANTS

    Ingredients

  • Croissants
  • Berries: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or a mix
  • Mascarpone, fresh chèvre (goat cheese), cream cheese or other spreadable cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPLIT the croissant and spread the bottom half with cheese.

    2. ADD the berries, whole or sliced, depending on size.

     
    Thanks to Castello USA for the idea (they used blue cheese).

     
    *Who has afternoon tea, you say? Well, THE NIBBLE is a far cry from Downtown Abbey, but we serve afternoon tea daily. Not everyone drinks tea, but it’s our chance to sample some of the many foods that arrive at our doorstep—baked goods, candy, jam, crackers, cheese, pâté and so forth—including coffee, tea and other beverages. If you want to serve a proper afternoon tea, here’s how.

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asparagus & Prosciutto Wraps

    asparagus-prosciutto-rolls-castelloUSA-230

    We love these delicious, fancy yet very easy Asparagus & Prosciutto Wraps. Photo courtesy Castello USA.

     

    Need something fancy—and easy? Here’s a lovely first course to make with spring asparagus. We serve the wraps individually plated with some watercress salad, to which we add some snipped chives or thin-sliced green onion.

    The recipe is from Castello Cheese, which crumbles their Danish blue cheese as a garnish.

    RECIPE: ASPARAGUS & PROSCIUTTO WRAPS

    Ingredients

  • 8 slender* asparagus per person
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 slice prosciutto or other Serrano ham
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled blue cheese per person
  • Optional: watercress plus chives or green onion
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TRIM the woody ends from the asparagus. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus for 30 seconds (90 seconds for thick spears), until the asparagus just bends. Alternatively, lightly steam the asparagus in a microwave.

     

    2. PLUNGE the asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking. Blot dry with paper towels and set aside.

    3. WHISK together the olive oil, vinegar and garlic and roll and marinate asparagus in vinaigrette 30 minutes at room temperature. Make extra vinaigrette if you are serving the watercress.

    4. GATHER the asparagus into bundles of 8 (if thin, 4 if thick) and wrap each bundle with a prosciutto slice. Arrange on a platter or individual plates. Decorate with crumbled blue cheese.

    5. TOSS the optional watercress with vinaigrette and add to the plate.

    6. PASS a peppermill for fresh-ground black pepper.
     
    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROSCIUTTO & SERRANO HAM

    This is a complex question, because the authentic breeds of pig and curing techniques differ in Europe from what is permitted in the U.S. But a simple answer is: Both products are air-cured hams, with some differences in the breed and diet of the pig.

  • Prosciutto, from Italy, tends to be fattier and more mild.
  • Serrano, from Spain, tends to be more flavorful.
  •  
    But it’s hard to state something definitively when you buy the product in the U.S. The best approach: Buy a small amount of each and decide which you prefer. If you’re buying it freshly carved (not pre-packaged), ask the counterperson what the brand is, and keep notes.
     
    *Slender asparagus are easier to wrap; but if you can only find thick spears, use half as many.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Roasted Fish

    Have you ever roasted (or baked—here’s the difference*) a whole fish? It’s easy and a lot less expensive than fillets.

    Here are the simple steps to serving succulent, low-caloric, healthful roast fish (or grilled, if you prefer). Our tip was inspired by these photos from Eataly Chicago.

    1. CHOOSE A FISH

    Start with one of these varieties, which should cost around $11-12/pound. Plan on one pound per two people.

  • Branzino, flaky and slightly firm with a mild, buttery flavor.
  • Dorade (a.k.a. orata and sea bream), a flaky white flesh with a rich, succulent, meaty flavor, similar to pompano or red snapper.
  • Rainbow trout, delicate and tender flesh with a mild flavor.
  •  
    Have your fishmonger remove the guts and scales. See the next section, on how to pick the freshest fish.

    Then, choose your aromatics.

    But first, some tips on how to select the freshest fish.

       

    branzino-whole-for-roasting-eataly-chicago-230

    Branzino with aromatics, ready to roast. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     
    *ROASTING VS. BAKING: Roasting and baking are both dry heat cooking methods that employ hot air, typically at 300°F or higher. Today the terms are synonymous, but before modern ovens and broilers, roasting referred to food food cooked over an open flame. Today, both roasting and baking are done in an oven, where the heat browns and crisps the exterior of the food. While used interchangeably, each term sounds better for certain types of foods. Would you rather have baked vegetables or roasted vegetables?
     
    How To Pick Fresh Fish

    Here’s the scoop, straight from our grandmother:

    1. LOOK at the eyes. They should be clear and plumped out, not cloudy and sinking down.

    2. CHECK the gills. They should look wet fresh-looking (like pulled from the water), the color red, orange or brown, depending on the fish. If they look dark brown and/or dried out, pick something else.

    3. PRESS the flesh gently. If it springs back, the fish is fresh. If it leaves a permanent dent, pick something else.

    4. AROMA. A fresh fish aroma is fine; a “fishy” aroma or whiff of ammonia is not.
     
    What Are Aromatics?

    Aromatics are herbs and vegetables that release delicious aromas and impart deep flavors into the dish.

    They provide the flavor foundation in many dishes. Braises, sauces, sautés, soups, stews, stir-fries and stocks are some of the dishes that rely on aromatics.

    For roasting fish, you don’t have to use one selection from every category below. We do use them all; but if you want to simplify your purchases, choose just one citrus and one herb.
     
    2. PICK SOMETHING FROM THE CITRUS FAMILY

    Slice it and insert it into the cavity (slice the grapefruit to fit). Buy an extra to cut into wedges for garnish.

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange
  •  

    branzino-finished-roasting-eataly-chicago-230

    One of the branzinos above, roasted and ready to eat. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    3. PICK SOMETHING FROM THE CELERY FAMILY†

  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  •  
    4. PICK A FRESH HERB

  • Basil
  • Ginger
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  •  
    Save some extra sprigs for garnish.
     
    †The Apiaceae family of plants is commonly known as the celery, carrot or parsley family—mostly aromatic plants. Others of the more than 3,700 species are anise, caraway, chervil, coriander/cilantro, culantro, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage and parsnip.

     
    5. PICK SOMETHING FROM THE ONION FAMILY

  • Chive
  • Garlic cloves
  • Green onion
  • Red onion
  •  
    6. OPTIONAL: USE WHITE WINE

    If you have an open bottle with two cups of white wine you want to use up, use a baking dish instead of the baking sheet indicated below. Add the wine before the fish.

     
    7. ROAST THE FISH

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Soak the entire fish in salted water for 10 minutes. Pat it dry. If the fish is particularly thick, cut three half-inch slashes on each side, no more than a half inch deep, to help the heat penetrate. Rub olive oil over the surface. Sprinkle the surface and the cavity with salt and pepper.

    2. STUFF the aromatics into the cavity of the fish and transfer it to a rimmed baking sheet. You can cover the sheet with foil or parchment for easier cleanup. If you have leftover aromatics (other than the pieces for garnish), you can place them in the center of the tray and lay the fish on top.

    3. ROAST the fish until the fish is just cooked through (we actually prefer ours rare), and a cooking thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fish reads about 135°F. The skin should be crispy. Cooking time will vary based on the weight and thickness of the fish, but it will be ready to test at 30 minutes.

    4. GARNISH with citrus wedges and herb sprigs and serve. While this article may be long, once you’ve done it the first time, roasting whole fish is a snap!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

    cauliflower-mac-and-cheese-michaelsymon-castello-230

    Forget the pasta: This “mac and cheese”
    substitutes better-for-you cauliflower. Photo
    courtesy Castello.

     

    Chef Michael Symon has a solution for mac and cheese lovers who want to cut back on the pasta: Substitute cauliflower for the pasta.

    For some time now, cauliflower “mashed potatoes” have been a favorite substitute for mashed potatoes: lower in calories, higher in nutrition.

    In this recipe, Chef Symon does a vegetable-for-starch switch with macaroni.

    His recipe has the creamy cheesiness of mac and cheese (Chef Symon uses used Castello Creamy Havarti), the crunchiness of the bread crumbs, extra cruciferous* vegetables in your diet and and delicious comfort food with reduced calories.

    Make it tonight!

    RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup mascarpone (if you cannot find it, cream cheese will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup havarti
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the florets to the water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler to high. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a 2-quart Dutch oven† over medium heat. Add the cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce to the pot and bring it to simmer. (Chef Symon used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, but adjust the seasonings to your liking.) Reduce the cream by 1/3, about 3 minutes.

    3. WHISK in the mascarpone and havarti and stir to incorporate. When the cheese is melted and incorporated, keep the sauce at a simmer. The sauce will be slightly thickened at this point.

     

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn it into “mac and cheese.” Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    4. ADD the cauliflower and chives, stirring well to coat the cauliflower. Pour into an ovenproof dish; then top with the bread crumbs, sprinkling them in an even layer. Place the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the broiler and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

     
    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the cruciferous family from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” Their flowers consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!

    †Also called a French oven, a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron. In France it is called a cocotte, the French word for casserole.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Green (Pesto) Lasagna For Spring

    pesto-asparagus-lasagna-liguria-eatalychicago-230

    “Green” lasagna, made with pesto and spring asparagus. Photo
    courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    Have you ever had green lasagna? We order lasagna every time we see it on a menu, trying to find one that’s better than Mom’s (which has only been bested once). We find them with the mainstay tomato-meat sauce, southern Italian-style; and with béchamel, a white sauce preferred in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna (and preferred by us).

    But in Liguria, the home* of basil, they use pesto for the sauce, creating a green lasagna.

    While basil is available year-round, take advantage of the spring harvest and make a green lasagna with other spring treats: asparagus, fava beans, fiddleheads, morels, ramps, and of course, green lasagna noodles instead of the conventional white.

    Here’s a recipe from chef Mario Batali, an owner of the Italian food experience that is Eataly. In Italian the recipe is called Lasagne al Pesto con Asparagi: Lasagna with Asparagus and Pesto (and anything else you want to add).

     
    In this recipe, Chef Batali makes four personal lasaganas in gratin dishes, instead of one large, rectangular casserole as shown in the photos.
     
    *Basil may actually be native to India, where it has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years.
     
    RECIPE: ASPARAGUS & PESTO LASAGNA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound asparagus, medium-sized
  • 20 fresh lasagna sheets
  • 2 cups besciamella (béchamel, recipe below)
  • 1 cup pesto (recipe below)
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Sardo† cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  •  
    For The Pesto Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  •  
    †Pecorino sardo, also known as fiore sardo, is a firm cheese sheep’s milk cheese from the Italian island of Sardinia. It’s sold at Eataly; but if you can’t get it, use Pecorino Romano instead. Here are the main Italian grating cheeses.

     

     
    For The Besciamella

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the pesto. In a large stone mortar, combine the pine nuts, basil, garlic and salt and grind with a pestle until it forms a paste. Add the cheeses and drizzle in the olive oil, beating with a wooden spoon. This can be made in advance and stored in a tightly-capped jar in the fridge, topped off with a layer of extra virgin olive oil.

    2. BRING 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Set up an ice bath next to the boiling water. Boil the asparagus for one minute. Remove the asparagus, retaining the water in the pot, and refresh in an ice bath. Remove the asparagus from the ice bath, drain well, cut into ½-inch to 1-inch pieces on a bias and set aside.

     

    pesto-lasagna-eatalychicago-230

    Pesto lasagna is sold by the piece at Eataly. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    3. DROP the lasagna sheets into the same boiling water as the asparagus. Cook one minute until tender. (If using dried lasagna, cook according to package directions.) Remove and refresh in the ice bath. Drain on towels and set aside.

    4. MAKE the besciamella. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile…

    5. HEAT the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

    6. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F.

    7. ASSEMBLE the lasagne. In a mixing bowl, stir the besciamella and pesto together until well combined. Butter 4 gratin dishes and place one piece of 5-inch pasta on the bottom of each one.

    8. TOP the pasta with some pieces of asparagus, followed by 2 tablespoons of pesto, followed by another piece of pasta. Continue with this layering until you have 4 pieces of pasta and 4 layers of asparagus and pesto mixture. Lay one more piece of pasta on top, followed by a spoonful of pesto mixture and sprinkle each of the 4 gratin dishes with bread crumbs and the Pecorino Sardo.

    9. PLACE all 4 dishes in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown on top. Remove and serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Cupcake Garnishes

    candy-garnish-cupcakes-sweetstreetdesserts-230

    Easy Mother’s Day cupcakes. Photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts.

     

    If you still haven’t settled on a dessert for Mother’s Day, here’s the easy way out.

    You can make cupcakes like these, from SweetStreetDesserts.com, simply by purchasing plain cupcakes and topping them with a large piece of candy.

    Instead of sprinkles, the idea is to have one chocolate “centerpiece” to top the cupcake. Consider:

  • Baci
  • Bonbons
  • Chocolate-coverd cherries
  • Chocolate disks
  • Hershey Kisses (unwrapped)
  • Non-pareils
  • Toffee or brittle (large piece)
  •  

    Of course, you can bake your own cupcakes from scratch or a mix. But with this concept, the busiest dad or young child can “make cupcakes” for Mom.

     
      

    Comments

    Spring Salad: Asparagus & Radishes

    Most of us are familiar with the crimson radish, and maybe even black radish and white radish (the shredded daikon served with sashimi).

    If you’re lucky, you’ve enjoyed the beauty of candy stripe radish (chioggia) and watermelon radish.

    But if you’re a radish lover, take a look at these heirloom radishes. We’d never seen the Chinese Green Luobo Radish (Qingluobo), with lime-green skin and flesh; and the purple-skinned Malaga Radish that looks like a beet.

    Some radishes are small globes, others have pointy tips, still others are the shape of carrots or turnips.

    The amazing Rat’s Tail Radish from Thailand doesn’t look like a radish at all. It’s a very long, slender green pod with radish “seeds” inside, and was grown in U.S. gardens in the 1860s. The Zlata Radish from Czechoslovakia is the color of gold beets.

    Radishes, botanically known as Raphanus sativus, are actually cabbage relatives that originated in Asia. They are a member of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables that is famed for its anti-carcinogenic properties.

    There are small varieties for salads and radishes the size of potatoes that in pre-refrigeration times could be stored through the winter.

       

    radish-portrait-thechefsgarden-230

    Less familiar radish varieties. Photo courtesy SweetGreen.

     
    Growing radishes is easy. You can plant salad radishes in spring through fall in most locations. Repeated plantings ensure you’ll have fresh radishes until the frost.

    Whether you buy them or grow them, celebrate spring with this refreshing radish and asparagus salad. It’s from Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, New York, which uses its micro arugula in the recipe.

     
    RECIPE: SPRING RADISH SALAD WITH ASPARAGUS & BLOOD ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 3 Servings

  • 1 bunch specialty radishes (or substitute)
  • 2 blood oranges*
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 1 cup micro arugula‡
  •  
    For The Blood Orange Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar†
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 9 tablespoons olive oil
  •  
    *If you can’t find blood oranges, see if the fresh juice section of the store has blood orange juice. Or, substitute orange or tangerine juice.

    †Substitute white wine vinegar.

    ‡Substitute other microgreens or sprouts.

     

    radish-beauty-sweetgreen-230

    The familiar radish. Photo courtesy SweetGreen.

     

    Preparation

    1. PEEL the asparagus and blanch in salted boiling water then shock in ice water, drain and reserve.

    2. PREPARE the Blood Orange Vinaigrette. Whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, minced shallot, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil while continuing to whisk. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

    3. TOSS a bit of the vinaigrette with the asparagus.

    4. WASH and trim the tops of the radishes so that some of the green is left. Cut each radish into four wedges and reserve. Peel the oranges, being careful to remove all of the pith, then separate the segments. Set aside and keep the orange remnants to use for the vinaigrette.

    5. TOAST the pistachios in a dry skillet over medium heat. Remove and set aside to cool.

     

    6. PLACE the radishes, oranges and pistachio in a salad bowl, then add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss together and adjust the seasoning to taste.

    7. PLATE: Place four asparagus on each plate. Spoon the radish mixture on top. Garnish with some micro arugula and drizzle with vinaigrette.

      

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