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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: Strawberry Salsa

How about something special for National Strawberry Day (February 27th): strawberry salsa.

In addition to serving with tortilla chips, strawberry salsa is delicious over grilled chicken, fish or pork.

This recipes was adapted from TasteOfHome.com. You can customize it by adding other fruits to the strawberries. Mango, grapes, pineapple, pomegranate arils and stone fruits are a few options.

TIP: Wear disposable gloves when cutting and seeding hot chiles; then clean the cutting board and knife, wash your gloved hands and dispose of the gloves. Accidentally touching your eye with the most minute amount of capsaicin fom the chile is an experience you never want to have.

RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SALSA

Ingredients

  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (do not substitute)
  • Optional: green, orange, red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  •  

    strawberry-salsa-tasteofhome-230

    Strawberry salsa made with optional bell pepper. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the ingredients. Refrigerate and let the flavors meld for an hour or more.

    2. SERVE with chips or as a protein garnish.

     
    Variations

  • Chunky Strawberry Salsa With Quartered Cherry Tomatoes Recipe
  • Strawberry Mango Salsa Recipe
  • Strawberry Salsa With Grape Tomatoes & Corn Kernels Recipe
  • Strawberry Salsa With Plum Tomatoes Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPES: Vegan, Delicious Tempeh

    asian_noodle_bowl_with_seared_tempeh_lightlife-230

    Make this delicious Asian Noodle Bowl for lunch or dinner. Photo courtesy Lightlife.

     

    You may have read last week that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its 2015 report. The Committee urges Americans to eat less processed meat and turn to plant-based diets for a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

    Remember Meatless Mondays? If you’re not already observing them, here’s a nudge via a delicious recipe for net Monday. It uses tempeh, a meat substitute made from soybeans.

     
    TEMPEH VS. TOFU: THE DIFFERENCES

    Tempeh is a soy-based product that originated in Indonesia, where it is a staple protein. It is made by a natural culturing and a controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty.

    Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. It has a higher content of protein, dietary fiber and vitamins.

    Tempeh has a firm texture and an earthy flavor, and is used worldwide as a meat substitute.

     

    TOFU VS. TEMPEH

  • Production: Tofu, also known as been curd, is made by curdling fresh, hot soy milk* with a coagulant. Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a mold. Because it is fermented, it is easier to digest than tofu among people with a sensitivity to beans.
  • Format: Tofu is sold in pillowy blocks packed in water, in five different degrees of softnes from silken to extra firm. Tempeh is sold in flat, rectangular pieces, about eight inches long, with a chewy consistency like meat.
  • Color: Tofu is white, smooth and moist. Tempeh is brownish, rough (you can see the whole soybeans ) and dry.
  • Consistency: Tofu is soft, smooth and spongy. Tempeh is firm and chewy.
  • Flavor: Tofu has hardly any flavor; it takes on the taste of other ingredients. Tempeh has a slight earthy/nutty, sweet flavor. You can find versions mixed with brown rice, flax or other grains.
  •  
    How Do they Differ From Seitan?

    Seitan is made from wheat gluten. Like tempeh, it is high in protein with a texture similar to meat,

     
    *Soy milk in turn is made from dried, ground, filtered and boiled soybeans.

     

    RECIPE: ASIAN NOODLE BOWL WITH SEARED TEMPEH

    This delicious recipe can be served as a main course or a first course. It makes two main courses or four first courses or wraps.

    The recipe is courtesy of Lightlife, which used its organic soy tempeh.

    Ingredients

    For The Sweet & Sour Sauce

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
  •  
    For The Tempeh Noodles

  • 1 package (8 ounces) soy tempeh
  • 6 ounces thin rice noodles (vermicelli style)
  • 1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  •  

    lightlife-organic-tempeh-230

    Look for tempeh in any natural foods market, including Whole Foods. Photo courtesy Lightlife.

  • 2/3 cup matchstick-cut red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrot, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, thin diagonally sliced
  • 2 large green onions, diagonally sliced
  • Optional garnish: fresh basil leaves chiffonade, cilantro sprig, 1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE sauce; set aside.

    2. PLACE the noodles in large bowl. Pour boiling water over the noodles to cover. Let stand about 10 minutes or until softened. Rinse with cold water; squeeze to drain well.

    3. CUT the noodles in half or thirds; return noodles to the bowl. Add the sesame oil; toss until evenly coated. Set the noodles aside. Meanwhile…

    4. HEAT 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in medium-heavy skillet. Add half of the tempeh in a single layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and crisp, turning the pieces over halfway during cooking. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with another tablespoon of the oil and the remaining tempeh. Pour half of the sauce over the tempeh; toss to coat and set the tempeh aside.

    5. ADD the remaining teaspoon of oil to the hot skillet, along with the bell pepper, carrot, green onions and snow peas. Cook and stir about 1 minute or until crisp-tender. Transfer to the bowl with the noodles. Add the tempeh mixture; gently toss until combined.

    6. SERVE: Spoon the noodle mixture into individual bowls and drizzle with the remaining sauce. Garnish with basil, cilantro or sesame seeds.
     
    Variation: Asian Noodle Wraps with Seared Tempeh

    Serve the tempeh in lettuce leaf wraps.

    1. PREPARE the noodle mixture as directed above.

    2. SPOON about 1/2 cup of the noodle mixture onto each of 12 large leaf or iceberg lettuce leaves; fold or roll up. Serve with remaining sauce for dipping. Makes about 12 wraps or 4 servings.

    For more delicious tempeh recipes, head to Lightlife.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Eggplant Caponata

    Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant relish or eggplant salad, made from capers, eggplant, onion, pine nuts and tomatoes, usually served as a side dish or relish, part of an antipasto. In Sicily it’s called capunata.

    As with any recipe, there are numerous variations, including the addition of carrots, celery, green bell peppers, olives, potatoes, or raisins.

    According to food writer Clifford A. Wright, the famed Italian dish may be of Spanish origin. He quotes the Sicilian food authority Pino Correnti, that the dish is derived from the Catalan word caponada, a similar type of relish

    Th Catalan word means “something tied together like vines.” In Sicily, it first appears in 1709. Another contender is the word capón; capón de galera is a gazpacho or a caponata-like dish.

    A Sicilian cuisine scholar, Giuseppe Coria, suggests that the word derives from the Latin caupo, tavern, which served cauponae, a tavern food for travelers.

    Wright notes: “The earliest recipe I am familiar with of … a kind of caponata is the cappone di galera alla siciliana in Francesco Leonardi’s L’Apicio Moderno (The Modern Apicius), published in 1790. Here is his recipe:

       

    salmon-on-caponata-olionyc-230

    Caponata moves from appetizer dip or spread to a sauce for fish or poultry. You can place the caponata on top of the protein or use it as a bed, as shown in this photo. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | New York City.

     

    “Dip a few fresh new beans [freselle maiorchine, an esteemed bean from Majorca] in Malaga wine, then arrange them on a serving platter, and put over them a garnish of anchovy fillets and thin slices of tuna salami, rinsed of its salt, capers, pieces of citron zest, stoned olives, fried shrimp and squid, oysters poached slightly in their own liquid and several fillets of fried linguattola [Citharus linguatula, a kind of flatfish] until the platter is well garnished and full. At the moment of serving pour over it a sauce made as follows: in a mortar pound two ounces of peeled green pistachios soaked in olive oil, vinegar, and tarragon or vinegar, salt, and ground pepper.”

    Whatever the origin and ingredients, today’s caponata easily moves from antipasto relish (our grandmother favored it with crackers or toasted baguette slices) to the main plate.

    This delicious and healthful garnish adds bright color to pale proteins. It works well on grilled, poached or sautéed fish, poultry or tofu.
     
    RECIPE: EGGPLANT CAPONATA

    Use fresh tomatoes in season. In the off season, use diced, canned tomatoes.

    Caponata tastes best the day after it is made, once the flavors have had a chance to blend and mellow. The recipe can be made two days in advance and refrigerated, covered. It can also be frozen.

    You can serve caponata warm, chilled or at room temperature, or cold.

     

    eggplant-caponata-black-bass-davidburkefromagerie-230

    Grilled bass with eggplant caponata. Photo courtesy David Burke Fromagerie.

     

    Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 eggplant (about 1-1/2-pounds), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, cubed
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can (14-1/2-ounces) diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings, including the juice
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Pine nuts, toasted
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in heavy pot over medium heat. Add the eggplant, onion and garlic. Sauté until the eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.

     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in heavy pot over medium heat. Add the eggplant, onion and garlic. Sauté until the eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.

    2. ADD the diced tomatoes, vinegar and drained capers. Cover and simmer until the eggplant and onion are very tender, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    3. SEASON the caponata to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the basil. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

    This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com.

     
    MORE WAYS TO USE CAPONATA

  • On bruschetta or crostini (the difference).
  • On omelets (or as a filling), or other egg preparations.
  • In a grilled cheese sandwich or panini.
  • Atop pasta, rice or other grain.
  • In a baked potato.
  • In crêpes.
  • In tartlets or phyllo pockets.
  • In lettuce cups.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Banana Bread

    banana-bread-chips-nuts-LuluDurand-230

    Banana bread with chocolate chips and nuts.
    We highly recommend the optional chocolate
    glaze in the recipe (not shown). Photo
    by Lulu Durand | IST.

     

    You’d think we could get a decent piece of banana bread in this town, but it’s surprisingly tough. Most of what we purchase at specialty food stores has only a nodding acquaintance with bananas. With no banana punch but a high level of spices, it could be zucchini bread.

    One does do better at bakeries; but alas, bakeries are fast becoming extinct here due to low margins and astounding rents. So since today is National Banana Bread Day, grab the bananas and a loaf pan and start baking.

    One reason that some recipes fall short on banana flavor is that the recipe requires overripe bananas. When they’re brown and splotchy and unappealing, that’s when you want to bake. The more brown/overripe, the sweeter the banana flavor.

    A trick for always having the perfect ripeness on hand: Buy the bananas before you need them. (If you’re lucky, you’ll find overripe ones that have been marked down.) Once they become overripe, peel them, wrap them tightly and freeze them. They thaw quickly at room temperature when you’re ready to bake.

    We always bake a double batch and put the second one in the freezer; although work colleagues, hairdressers, friends and neighbors would be grateful for a slice.

    This recipe was adapted from one by Charles Masters for the Food Network.

     
    Ingredients For the Bread

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup mashed banana (2-3 very ripe bananas)
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

    2. COMBINE the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the chocolate chips.

    3. WHISK the eggs, melted butter, sour cream, vanilla and orange zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the mashed banana, then fold the mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

    4. ADD the batter to the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan on a rack, then turn the bread out onto the rack to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Pour over the cooled banana bread and let set, 15 to 20 minutes.

     

    overripe-bananas-bakinglibrary.blogspot-230

    Make banana bread with overripe bananas. These are just beginning to get ripe enough. The splotchier, the better. Photo courtesy Baking Library | Blogspot.

     

    DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “BREAD” & CAKE

    There is a transition between sweet breads and lower-sugar cakes that are baked in loaf pans, such as carrot bread and banana bread.

    What’s the difference between a banana bread and a banana cake? The obvious difference is that the bread is baked in a loaf pan while the cake is baked in a round, square or rectangular cake pan.

    A less obvious distinction is that the bread style of cake, as a quickbread*, is leavened with baking soda instead of yeast, which makes them quicker to rise.

    In general, loaf cakes or “breads” also have a denser crumb, a rougher texture and often less sugar than their cake counterparts.

    While the origin of the “bread” style of cake is unknown, food historians believe that it was originated in the 18th century with housewives experimenting with pearl ash. Banana bread became common in American cookbooks in the 1930s, with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder, and very popular in the 1960s, when variations with simple inclusions (nuts, chocolate morsels) created simple but delicious snack cakes.

     
    *Other quickbread examples include biscuits, cornbread, muffins, scones and soda bread.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cherry Cheesecake With Chocolate Glaze

    chocolate-cherry-cheesecake-bettycrocker-230

    Cherry cheesecake with chocolate accents.
    Photo and recipe courtesy Betty Crocker.

     

    Next in our choice of cherry recipes for Washington’s Birthday (February 22nd) is a cherry cheesecake with a twist: a chocolate crust and chocolate glaze.

    Prep time for this Betty Crocker recipe is just 35 minutes, plus another 5 hours and 50 minutes for baking and chilling.

    You can make this recipe ahead of time and freeze it. To do so, first bake the cheesecake; cool and glaze. Freeze it until the glaze is set. Then wrap it tightly and freeze it for up to 1 month. Before serving, unwrap and thaw the cheesecake in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.

    RECIPE: CHERRY CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

    Ingredients For The Crust

  • 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 can or jar (21 ounces) cherry pie filling—or make your own with the recipe below
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. In medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients; mix well. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 10-inch springform pan.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sugar and almond extract until smooth. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream; blend well.

    3. SPOON 3-1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture into crust-lined pan, spreading evenly. Carefully spoon 1 cup of the pie filling evenly overthe cream cheese layer (reserve remaining pie filling for the topping). Spoon the remaining cream cheese mixture evenly over the pie filling.

    4. BAKE for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until the center is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour.

    5. MAKE the glaze: In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup whipping cream to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate chips until melted.

    6. LINE a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Remove the side of the springform pan. Place the cheesecake on the paper-lined cookie sheet. Spread the glaze over the cooled cheesecake, allowing some to flow down the side.

    7. REFRIGERATE at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve topped with the remaining pie filling.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN CHERRY PIE FILLING

    Some brands of pie filling are distinctly better than others. A safe bet is to pick up an organic brand. The extra cost is worth it.

    For a luxury experience, we use a jar of sour cherry pie filling from Chukar Cherries (it’s $14.95).

    But if your discriminating palate doesn’t like any canned cherry filling, it’s easy to make your own with just 20 minutes of prep time, and 1 hour 10 minutes of cook time.

    RECIPE: CHERRY PIE FILLING

    Ingredients For An 8-Inch Pie

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen tart (Montmorency) cherries; or canned cherries in water (see photo at right)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 tablespoon almond extract (optional)
  •  

    oregon-specialty-fruit-red-tart-cherries-230

    Make your own cherry filling with fresh or frozen cherries, or canned cherries in water. Photo courtesy Oregon Specialty Fruit.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cherries in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer. After the cherries lose considerable juice (several minutes—stir occasionally), remove from the heat.

    2. COMBINE in a small bowl the sugar and cornstarch. Pour into the hot cherries and combine thoroughly. Add the almond extract and stir. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water. It it’s too thin, add a bit more cornstarch.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mushroom Salad

    You may be chomping at the bit for the first spring vegetables to arrive in the market (we’re waiting for asparagus and ramps). But until then, there is veggie excitement to be had; and we’ll be talking about them for the next two days.

    Mushrooms offer flavorful excitement, and are a cook’s delight: They absorb a lot of flavor quickly, and can be prepared in so many ways. For starters, consider:

  • Carpaccio (try this recipe from chef Claire Robinson)
  • Casseroles
  • Fried (try these portobello fries)
  • Omelets, scrambled eggs
  • Mushrooms Parmigiania, prepared like Eggplant Parmigiania
  • Quesadillas
  • Pasta dishes (add it to fettuccine, lasagna, ramen, ravioli, anything)
  • Risotto or pilaf
  • Roasted or grilled
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Sautéed alone (with red wine and fresh herbs!) or with other favorites (broccoli, spinach, turnips, whatever)
  • Sautéed with any protein (Chicken Marsala is a favorite)
  •    

    cooked-mushroom-salad-olionyc-230

    Mushroom salad atop a bed of baby arugula. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | New York City.

  • Soup (try cream of mushroom with chunks of sautéed mushrooms)
  • Stews/ragouts
  • Stuffed, with vegetarian, cheese, meat or seafood fillings (try bacon or sausage)
  • Stuffing, savory bread pudding, savory tarts, crostini
  • Topping for grains or polenta and of course, pizza
  •  

    Today’s tip requires no cooking; that is, no heat. It’s marinated mushrooms, also known as mushroom salad: delicious as an appetizer, a side, a sandwich topper or as part of an antipasto.

    You can add other raw vegetables; we’ve provided options below.

    Marinated mushrooms can be made with any mushroom (here are the different mushroom types). Unless you’ve got deep pockets, go for the least expensive, which are typically white button mushrooms. Smaller are better, since you’ll be cutting them up.

    Of course, you an use any mushroom: cremini, oyster, portabello, shiitake or a mixture. We’ve even used enoki mushrooms for an exotic garnish.

    The only given is that the mushrooms be fresh. Those that are beginning to brown or wither are best used in a cooked dish.

     

    marinated-mush-tahini-yogurt-colliersmarket-230r

    Marinated mushrooms with walnut and tahini
    yogurt. Photo courtesy Collier’s Market. Here’s
    the recipe.

     

    RECIPE: RAW MUSHROOM SALAD

  • 1 8-ounce container white mushrooms (or other mushroom)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine or sherry vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh herbs (basil, chives, dill, oregano, parsley, thyme), minced (we use two different herbs)
  • Optional ingredients for color: diced red pepper or pimento, red onions, sliced green onions or chives
  • Optional ingredients for variety: broccoli or cauliflower florets, edamame, sliced olives
  • Optional heat: 1 chili, seeded and white pith removed, finely sliced
  • Baby arugula, baby spinach, mesclun, watercress or lettuce/cabbage cups
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CLEAN the mushrooms and pat dry. Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the sea salt. Toss to coat thoroughly. Let stand for about 30 minutes so the salt can remove excess water from the mushrooms. Brush any remaining salt from the mushrooms.

    2. COMBINE the marinade ingredients in a bowl: olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest, pepper and herbs. Toss the mushrooms in the marinade to coat. (We don’t add salt at this stage because of the residue salt from the mushrooms.)

    3. COVER the bowl refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

    4. SERVE as desired. We enjoy it atop a bed of greens or in a lettuce cup.

    Variation

    Try this recipe for Marinated Mushrooms with Walnut and Tahini Yogurt from Kristin Collier of the blog ColliersMarket.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Vegetable “Raft”

    Build a vegetable “raft” to make a serving of plain grilled or sautéed protein look like fancy restaurant fare.

    This chef’s trick makes it easy to add glamor to a piece of cooked protein—beef, fish, lamb, pork, poultry, tofu. Not to mention, it gets people to eat more veggies!

    Here, branzino in padella (branzino cooked in a skillet/frying pan) from Olio e Piú in Greenwich Village, New York City gets the raft treatment.

    MAKE IT AT HOME

  • Choose three “long” vegetables of contrasting colors. For your consideration: asparagus, carrots, celery, green beans, fennel, hatch or shishito chiles or other mild chiles, leeks, long radish, okra, parsnips, pea pods, spring onions.
  • You can also cut long rectangles of other favorites: bell pepper (red or yellow bell pepper), eggplant, yellow squash, Yukon Gold potatoes or zucchini.
  • All the vegetables should be 3-1/2 to 4 inches in length. They don’t have to be even; and they’re more visually arresting if they aren’t.
  •  

    branzino-vegetable-layer-olioNY-230

    Branzino on a vegetable raft with a grilled lemon. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | NYC.

  • The number of pieces you need per serving depends on the length of the protein. The long piece of fish in the photo rests atop a dozen individual veggies.
  • Decide how you want to cook them. Our own technique is to steam them lightly in the microwave, then coat them quickly in a sauté pan with butter (you can substitute good olive oil).
  •  

    If you want to include a grain or potato, there’s plenty of room on the plate (just move the lemon).

    In his television show “Kitchen Nightmares,” Chef Gordon Ramsay has said that he gets worried when he is presented with a plate scattered with chopped parsley. While we love Chef Ramsay, perhaps he’d agree that this plain plate would look better with a dusting of minced parsley or chives around the rim. Or perhaps, a sprinkling of pink or smoked sea salt!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Best Cherry Pie

    cherry-pie-lattice-cherrymktginst-230

    This cherry pie gets a fancy lattice top. Photo courtesy Cherry Marketing Institute.

     

    It’s National Cherry Pie Day, and we’re honoring both the holiday and Jean Van’t Hul by publishing her recipe for “the best cherry pie ever.”

    Like all good cooks, Jean has worked on this recipe for years, adapting recipes from prominent sources like Rose Levy Beranbaum and Cook’s Illustrated.

    Jean notes that her recipe uses cherries canned in water. “not that dreadful canned cherry pie filling.”

    RECIPE: THE BEST CHERRY PIE

    Ingredients

    For The Pie Crust

  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 8 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 8 tablespoons ice water
  • For The Filling

  • 3 cans tart cherries in water (Jean likes Oregon Fruit Products Red Tart Cherries, which she often finds with the canned fruit instead of in the baking aisle)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  •  
    Plus

  • Optional garnish: crème fraîche, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the pie crust. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor (or use a pastry blender). Cut the butter into smaller pieces and add to food processor. Pulse a few times. Cut the shortening into smaller pieces and add to food processor. Pulse a few more times, until butter and shortening are the size of peas or smaller. Transfer to a large bowl.

    2. SPRINKLE 3-4 tablespoons of ice water over the dough mixture at a time, mixing and pressing with a sturdy rubber spatula until the dough comes together. Divide into two and wrap each half in plastic wrap. (Tip: Dump the semi-formed dough onto plastic, wrap it up, knead it bit until it forms a ball, then flatten it into a disk.) Refrigerate until ready to use.

    3. MIX the 3 cans of cherries plus the juice from 1-1/2 cans with sugar, cornstarch, salt and almond extract in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, or until the liquid is thick and bubbly (partially jelled). Set aside to cool.

     

    oregon-specialty-fruit-red-tart-cherries-230

    Look for pitted cherries in water, not “glop.” Photo courtesy Oregon Specialty Fruit.

     

    4. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and place on a lower rack, to catch any drips.

    5. SPRINKLE the counter with flour and roll out the bottom pie crust. Arrange in a pie pan. Pour the cooled pie filling into the crust.

    6. ROLL out the top crust. Use a sharp knife to cut the top crust into strips for a lattice crust or use a cookie cutter to make other designs. Either drape your top crust over the pie, if you used a cookie cutter design, or weave your traditional lattice crust (here’s a YouTube video).

    7. TRIM Tthe edges of the top and bottom crust to 1/2-1 inch beyond the pie pan and then fold them under. Either press around the perimeter with the tines of a fork or crimp it with your fingers.

    8. BRUSH the crust with a beaten egg white (or cream) and sprinkle sugar on top.

    9. BAKE for 20 minutes at 425°F, then lower the oven temperature to 375°F and add a pie crust shield (or a foil tent with the center cut out) to protect the outer edges of the crust from burning. Bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the crust looks nicely browned and the juices bubble up thickly.

    10. REMOVE the pie from the oven and let cool for 3 hours or so before eating, so the filling will gel properly. Garnish as desired and serve.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Hungarian Rice Pudding

    rice-pudding-LittleBucharestBistro-230

    Hungarian Rice Pudding. Photo and recipe courtesy Little Bucharest Bistro | Chicago.

     

    A bone-chilling day like today calls for extra helpings of comfort food. One of our favorites is rice pudding. We’ve made it every way, including conventional, with rum-soaked raisins, with dried cherries and cranberries replacing the raisins, and a Thai-inspired version with black rice and coconut milk.

    Today, it’s Hungarian rice pudding. This is the recipe made by the Hungarian grandmother of Branko Podrumedic, owner of Little Bucharest Bistro in Chicago. In Hungarian, the recipe is called budinca de orez.

    Rice pudding is usually served as a dessert, but Branko notes that it also makes a delicious breakfast. If you’d like an eggier pudding for breakfast, you can increase the eggs to four, and reduce the honey for a less dessert-like (sweet) dish.

    For a richer rice pudding, use half and half instead of regular milk. For a non-dairy version, use coconut milk.

     
    Whether for dessert or breakfast, you can serve it with fresh fruit or a spoonful jam (our own grandmother was partial to cherry preserves).
     
    RECIPE: HUNGARIAN RICE PUDDING

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup rice (uncooked)*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • Optional garnishes: chopped toasted nuts, toasted coconut, fresh fruit, preserves or fruit sauce (purée)
  •  

    *We prefer white basmati rice, which makes a creamy rice pudding but holds its texture.

    Preparations

    1. COOK the rice. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    2. BEAT the eggs in a large bowl. Add the milk, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Beat very well with a whisk or electric beaters, ensuring that no honey remains at the bottom of the bowl. Add the rice and raisins to the liquid mixture. Stir until combined.

    3. GREASE a baking dish, and gently pour in the rice mixture.

    4. SPRINKLE nuts on top and dust top with cinnamon.

    5. PLACE the baking dish in a pan of warm water and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Serve hot or cold with cream, fresh berries, fruit sauce and/or toasted coconut garnish.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Goat Cheese For Breakfast

    It’s the second day of the Year Of The Goat, and we’re focusing on goat cheese for breakfast.

    We love goat cheese so much, that a log or tomme of fresh goat cheese with toasted baguette (and fresh tomato and basil in the summer) is our kind of meal.

    But you can incorporate goat cheese into conventional breakfast recipes, as this tip attests.

    At the simplest, there are goat cheese crostini with jam or preserves. If you want to bake, there are goat cheese and mushroom tarts. You can make a breakfast sandwich, or your favorite egg dish.

    RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE & PRESERVES CROSTINI

    This recipe is from Smucker’s, which uses its Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest Northwest Triple Berry Preserves. You can use your favorite berry preserves or jam.

  • Here’s the difference between jam and preserves.
  • Here’s the difference between crostini and bruschetta.
  •  
    RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE & JAM BREAKFAST CROSTINI

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 6 minutes.

    Ingredients For 12 Slices

  • 1/4 cup berry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme*, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 baguette (8 ounces), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • Optional: fresh thyme leaves for garnish
  •  
    *You can substitute fresh basil, marjoram, oregano or savory for the thyme.

       

    goat-cheese-crostini-smuckers-230

    Crunchy, sweet and savory: These crostini are an alternative to toast with spreads. Photo courtesy Smucker’s.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the preserves, shallots, balsamic vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper in small bowl.

    2. SLICE the baguette into 1/2-inch slices. Brush both sides of each slice lightly with olive oil. Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Grill baguette slices, four at a time, 2 to 3 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Place on serving platter.

    3. SPREAD about 2 teaspoons of goat cheese over each baguette slice. Top each slice with 1 teaspoon of the preserves mixture. Garnish with additional fresh thyme. Serve immediately.

    TIP: The preserves-vinegar-thyme spread can be prepared up to two days ahead and refrigerated, covered.

     

    crustless-breakfast-tarts-kalynskitchen-230

    These Crustless Breakfast Tarts with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese are elegant enough for a special occasion. Photo courtesy Kalyn’s Kitchen.

     

    Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen was inspired by a new tart pan to make breakfast tarts, combining cream, eggs, goat cheese, green onions, mozzarella, mushrooms and Parmesan. You can also use a muffin pan or individual gratin dishes.

    There’s no pastry, so you can save the carbs for your toast or muffin.

    The tarts will keep in the fridge for at least a week and can be reheated in a microwave or hot toaster oven. It only takes a about 70 seconds in the microwave; don’t microwave too long or the eggs will get rubbery.

    RECIPE: CRUSTLESS BREAKFAST TARTS WITH GOAT
    CHEESE & MUSHROOMS

    Ingredients For 6 Breakfast Tarts

  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese (e.g. from a log), crumbled and softened
  • 1/4 cup milk, half and half, or cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 12 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 2-3 teaspoons olive oil (depending on your pan)
  • 1 teaspoon Spike Seasoning (see below, or use any all-purpose seasoning blend that’s good with eggs)
  • Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons mozzarella cheese, crated
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the goat cheese from the fridge, cut off 4 ounces, crumble and place in a bowl to start to soften. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Spray the tart pan (or other cookware) with olive oil or nonstick spray.

    2. USE a fork to mix the milk/cream into the softened goat cheese; then mix in the Parmesan. Beat the eggs in a different bowl and mix 1/3 at a time into the goat cheese mixture, stirring each time you add more egg. (The mixture doesn’t need to be completely smooth.)

    3. WASH and pat dry the mushrooms and slice about 3/8 inch thick. Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan to avoid crowding the mushrooms. Cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat until all the released liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Divide the mushrooms between the wells in the tart pan.

    4. POUR the custard mixture over the mushrooms and gently stir to distribute the mushrooms evenly. Sprinkle a generous pinch of green onions on top of each tart, followed by one tablespoon of grated mozzarella.

    5. BAKE for 25-27 minutes (or slightly longer if you don’t have this tart pan and your tarts are a little thicker). Cook just until the tarts are starting to barely brown on the top; the custard mixture should be soft. Serve hot.
     
    SPIKE SEASONING

    Spike Seasoning was created by more than 50 years ago and still has a huge fan base; it gets a five-star review on Amazon. You can buy it online or at retailers nationwide. There’s also a salt-free, gluten-free version.

    Original Spike Seasoning a blend of 39 ingredients: Salt and sea salt, de-fatted nutri-soy granules, granular toasted onion, nutritional yeast, granular garlic, celery root granules, ground dill, horseradish granules, mustard powder, lemon peel, orange powder, parsley flakes, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, white pepper, rose hips powder, summer savory, mushroom powder, safflower, parsley powder, white onion powder, spinach powder, tomato powder, sweet Hungarian paprika, ground celery seed, cayenne pepper, ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground ginger, ground coriander, ground fenugreek, ground cloves, cinnamon powder, oregano, tarragon, sweet basil, marjoram, rosemary and thyme.

    If you don’t see it in the spice section, look near the health foods.
     
    MORE GOAT CHEESE BREAKFAST RECIPES

  • Breakfast tarts with mushrooms and goat cheese (recipe)
  • Goat cheese scrambled eggs (recipe)
  • Goat cheese and fresh herb omelet (recipe)
  • Goat cheese and prosciutto strata (recipe)
  • Grilled goat cheese sandwich with honey and figs (recipe)
  • Poached eggs on toasted baguette with goat cheese (recipe)
  •   

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