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Archive for Rice/Beans/Grains/Seeds

TIP OF THE DAY: Americanize Fried Rice

To celebrate the 2016 Chinese New Year, a holiday that runs through February 13th, here’s a fusion idea: a fried rice fusion of Chinese and American ingredients.

For the home cook, the beauty of fried rice is that it is very adaptable. Like chow mein, it’s perfect for those nights when you’re cleaning out the refrigerator and want to get rid of leftover meat and vegetables.

As a side dish, fried rice is an alternative to steamed rice. The most basic dish consists of rice, chopped green onions and eggs, stir-fried in a wok with some oil, and optionally seasoned with soy sauce or sauce.

Fried Rice becomes a main meal by adding meat, poultry, seafood and/or vegetables. At Chinese banquets, fried rice is often the last dish of the main meal, served right before the dessert course.
The oil may be seasoned with aromatics such as garlic before the rice and other ingredients are stir-fried together in a wok. Other

  • Meats often include beef, chicken, or pork; and lobster and shrimp on the seafood side.
  • Popular vegetables include bean sprouts, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, corn, mushrooms and green peas.
  • Seasonings include chiles, spices and soy sauce or oyster sauce, plus aromatics such as onions or green onions and garlic.
  •  
    HOW DO YOU “AMERICANIZE” FRIED RICE?

    You forge a path by combining anything that appeals to you—not just traditional Chinese ingredients, but your favorites from any of the world’s cuisines.

  • What’s in your fridge or pantry is unique to you. We found black beans, chicken sausage with apples, ham, hard-boiled eggs, pickled vegetables (including sweet gherkins), prosciutto and turkey. We even added orzo, tiny pasta shaped like grains of rice.
  • Add nuts and dried fruits. Almonds or cashews, dried apricots or prunes are a nice touch. Cashews pair well with canned pineapple chunks. “Trail Mix Fried Rice” works, as does this recipe for Pork Fried Rice with Dried Apricots & Pistachios.
  • Veggies can be the biggest “Americanization”: In addition to the popular Chinese ingredients), look at American produce. Cauliflower and roasted root vegetables go nicely. We added uncooked grape tomatoes at the very end of a recipe, and liked the freshness. Fennel and radicchio add a gourmet touch. Don’t rule anything out—with the possibility of beets, which can “bleed.” Kale fried rice, anyone?
  •    

    Chicken Fried Rice

    Shimp Fried Rice With Brown Rice

    Top: Chicken Fried Rice with diced chicken and proscuitto and chiles from Melissa’s The Great Pepper Cookbook. Second: Shrimp Fried Rice made with brown rice and dried apricots, from CalRice.org.

  • Use your favorite source of heat, from chopped jalapeños to sriracha sauce. Anchos and chipotles (smoked jalapeños) add smoky flavors. Default to fresh-ground black pepper or cayenne from your spice rack.
  • Instead of using leftover white or brown rice, try saffron rice or a more exotic rice, such as black or red rice (here are the different types of rice). You can try any leftover cooked grain, from couscous to quinoa. It won’t be fried rice, per se; but it will be good!
  • Consider a sauce or gravy. Fujian rice, a popular dish in China, is served with a brown sauce.
  • Pick an interesting garnish. In China, popular garnishes include fried shallots, cilantro, parsley, sliced chiles, or carrots carved into flowers or other shapes. We especially like cilantro and parsley, as well as fresh basil. Fresh herbs bring brightness to the dish. But you can forge that path with other garnishes. We’ve used strips of pimento as well as citrus zest (any citrus works) and sliced black olives.
  •  

    Ginger Fried Rice With Fried Egg

    Pineapple Fried Rice With Edamame

    Top: A twist from Spice Market in New York City. Leaving out soy sauce keeps the rice white. It’s topped with a fusion concept: a fried egg and crushed panko bread crumbs. Bottom: Pineapple Ginger Fried Rice from Whole Foods Market incorporates Japanese edamame, miso, brown rice and cilantro.

     

    FRIED RICE HISTORY

    While the exact origins of fried rice are lost to history, it’s believed that it was invented sometime during China’s Sui dynasty (589-618 C.E.) in Yangzhou (Yangchow), an eastern coastal province. Yangchow Fried Rice is still the standard by which all other Chinese fried rice dishes are judged, the rice tossed with roast pork, prawns, scallions and peas.

    Thanks to Rhonda Parkinson of ChineseFood.About.com for these tips on cooking fried rice.
     
    THE SCOOP ON FRIED RICE

    The key to making good fried rice is to use rice that has been previously cooked. Day-old rice is fine, but rice that is two or three days old is even better. Older rice is dryer, ensuring that the dish will be neither wet nor mushy. Long grain rice, which is fluffier and less sticky than other types of rice, is ideal.
     
    Cooking the Eggs

    There are two main techniques, and either is fine:

  • Scramble the egg and mix it in with the rice during the final stage of cooking.
  • Fry the beaten egg and cut it into strips to use as a garnish. We’ve happily substituted tamago, Japanese egg custard, for this.
  •  
    Cook The Ingredients Separately

    Each of the ingredients in fried rice is cooked separately and combined in the final stages of cooking. This is to maintain the distinct flavors of each. Simply remove each ingredient from the pan after you cook or heat it and set it aside while you cook the others.
     
    Choosing The Seasoning

    Some cooks use only a pinch of salt, believing that the flavor should come from the stir-fried ingredients. Others season the dish with soy sauce or oyster sauce. Thick soy sauce gives the rice a dark color. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

     
    You Can Freeze Fried Rice!

    Just reheat the frozen rice in a frying pan, or microwave it with a bit of broth (whatever you have—beef, chicken or vegetable).

     
    No Wok Required!

    Finally, you don’t need a wok! A deep skillet will do. We use this teflon-coated “wok pan” with a handle. We vastly prefer it to a conventional wok.

      

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    RECIPE: Pork & Apricot Fried Rice

    If you’re a fan of pork fried rice, how about whipping up a batch of Pork and Apricot Fried Rice for the Chinese New Year?

    This recipe is from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann, who serves it as a light lunch with just add a salad. You can play with the recipe and substitute other grains.

    You can roast a pork loin just for this recipe, or roast one for dinner the day before and make enough extra to use in the fried rice.
     
    RECIPE: PORK & APRICOT FRIED RICE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings
     
    For The Rice

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  
    For The Pork

  • 1½ tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1½ pounds boneless pork loin, cut into ¼-inch chunks
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sherry wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
  • Garnish: ¼ cup pistachios, toasted (substitute chopped or sliced
    almonds)
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    Pork Apricot Fried Rice

    Dried Apricots

    Top: Pork and Apricot Fried Rice from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann. Bottom: Dried apricots for the pork fried rice. Photo by Olha Afanasieva | IST. Have extra apricots? They’re one of our favorite snacks. You can turn them into candy by dipping them halfway in melted chocolate. Set them on wax paper until they dry.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the rice: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice looks chalky, about 2 minutes. Add the pineapple juice, water, apricots and salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid is below the surface of the rice and tunnels form in the rice. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until the rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

    2. COOK the pork: Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the pork with the salt and pepper. In batches, add the pork chunks to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

    3. ADD the garlic, ¼ cup of cilantro, celery, scallions, soy sauce, sherry vinegar and ginger to the skillet. Stir-fry until the celery is tender, about 3 minutes.

    4. RETURN the pork to the skillet. Add the rice and stir-fry until well mixed, 3 to 5 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with the pistachios and the remaining 1/4 cup of cilantro and serve hot.

      

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    RECIPE: BIBIMBAP RICE BOWL

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

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

    Bibimbap

    Bibimbap

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

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

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

     

    Bibimbap

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

     

    Preparation

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

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

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

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

     

    BIBIMBAP HISTORY

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

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

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

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

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

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat More Legumes

    Spring Chopped Salad

    Prosciutto Salad

    Top: A chopped salad with spring peas. You
    can substitute sugar snap peas, or any other
    legume. Photo courtesy The Foster’s Market Cookbook. Bottom: This creative salad wraps
    leafy greens in prosciutto, with a side of
    cannellini beans in vinaigrette.

     

    Nutritionist advise that we eat more legumes. But most people don’t know what a legume is, so here’s an overview:

    WHAT ARE LEGUMES?

    First, some food trivia: Peas are not green vegetables, but legumes, a botanical category that includes beans, peas and lentils.

    They are ancient foods that have been eaten for more than 8,000 years. Man the hunter-gatherer began eating legumes as soon as he created vessels to cook them in.

    Back then, in the Neolithic Era, agriculture and permanent settlements evolved as nomadic hunter-gatherers realized the benefits of stable communities. As they tilled the earth, legumes were among the first cultivated crops.*

    Legumes used to be called “wonder foods,” now they’re “superfoods.” Versatile, they are used in soups, stews, salads, side dishes, dips/spreads and more (bean burgers and lentil cakes are yummy!).

    They’re also a good source of protein and fiber, low on the glycemic index, and can be a fat- and cholesterol-free substitute for meat.

    EATING MORE LEGUMES

    Nutritionists recommend that we consume up to three cups of legumes a week. They are one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and are inexpensive, too.
     
    Eliminating The Gas

    Some people shy away from beans because they are gassy. But there’s a solution for that: Just soak the beans for several hours or overnight in cold water and change the water several times, including right before you cook them. This helps to rinse away the indigestible complex sugars that create intestinal gas.

    Even with beans cooked elsewhere, or those from a can: The more often you eat beans, the more your system accommodates them without digestive incident. You can get there in just three weeks of eating beans. [Source]
    ____________________
    *The first cultivated crop is believed to be figs, followed by wheat and barley, grapes, olives, sugar, tea, rice and sesame.

     
    Where To Start

    There are more than 4,000 cultivars of beans in the U.S. (and many more worldwide). See our Bean Glossary to discover some of them.

    Beyond supermarket beans, take a look at heirloom beans. These are varieties grown from old strains, and have more flavor, better texture and a beautiful appearance. Due to lower yield, more demanding growing requirements or other factors, these strains have been passed by by large-scale commercial growers.

    Many heirloom varieties have been rescued from extinction by dedicated specialty growers. For a beautiful bean selection, check out:

  • Rancho Gordo of Napa Valley (our review).
  • Zursun Beans of Twin Falls, Idaho.
     
    Their heirloom beans are sold in specialty food stores and online. They’re one of our favorite gifts for cooks.
     
    Finally, here’s a tip to help you eat more legumes in general:
  • Create a meal-planning calendar with your online calendar system (Google Calendar is free).
  • Map out the weekly food categories you want to include, from Meatless Monday to baking and weekend cooking projects. Add the word “legumes” every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for example. The calendar software can block out the whole year for you. Then, as you come across interesting recipes, fill them in on particular dates, along with the URLs or other sources of recipes.
  • Incorporate all forms of legume recipes. For example, instead of hummus make white bean purée, which is also delicious as an appetizer on crostini.
  • And of course, use the calendar planner for all other foods as well.
  •  

    RECIPE: LENTIL, OLIVE & ARUGULA SALAD

    This is one of the many ways in which legumes can be combined with other ingredients for fresh, tasty results. This filling salad is both hearty and flavorful. The lentils give it a nice heartiness, and two different types of olives give it a briny punch.

    If you don’t like olives, substitute something you do like: cherry tomatoes, pimento, sliced gherkins, whatever. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 bunch arugula
  • 1 cup of beluga or green lentils
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup castelvetrano olives, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. RINSE the lentils in a sieve, then add to a pot with 2 cups of water, a few pinches of salt and a bay leaf. Bring the lentils to a simmer over medium heat and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. If all of the water is absorbed before the lentils are fully cooked, add a bit more along the way. When the lentils are done, set them aside in a mixing bowl. While the lentils cook…

    2. HEAT a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan until hot; then and add the red onions. Cook the onions for 5-7 minutes, until they’re translucent and starting to brown. At this point, add the carrots and turn the heat down to medium.

    3. COOL the carrots and the onions together for 5 minutes, until they’re tender but still a bit crunchy in the center (overcooking is worse than undercooking, so take them off the heat sooner rather than later). When the carrots and onions are done, add them to the bowl with the lentils. Add the olives, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, add a few pinches of salt and stir gently.

    4. COOL the lentil mixture. When it has cooled completely, gently combine with the arugula. Add more lemon if you like, plus salt and pepper to taste.

     

    Lentil Arugula Salad

    Salmon With Beluga Lentils

    Calamari & Beans

    Top: Lentil and arugula salad from Good Eggs | San Francisco. Center: Salmon with beluga lentils from Gourmet Attitude. Bottom: Grilled calamari atop heirloom beans and avocado cream (think puréed guacamole lightened with cream or yogurt), with dressed vegetables, from Bestia | LA.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Grain Bowls With Roasted Vegetables

    Grain Bowl With Squash

    Grain Bowl With Squash

    Top: Grain bowl with delicata squash.
    Bottom: Wild rice bowl with kabocha squash.
    Photos courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    Did grain bowls originate in healthy “salad” food chains? All we know is that in the last few years, grain bowls have become a go-to light and nutritious meal, whether you buy yours from a food shop or bring it from home.

    Make one of your new year healthy food switches a weekly grain bowl. The options are endless, and you’ll get to try different grains and explore other ingredients, including different varieties of squash. (Squash and grains are a great marriage.)

    Grain bowls can be served at lunch or dinner; hot, warm or chilled. They can be:

  • Meatless for meatless Monday
  • Topped with small amounts of meat, poultry, fish or seafood
  • Vegan
  •  
    You can top it with your favorite garnishes (olives, please!). You can use up leftovers.

    No time to cook grains? Look at precooked grains; add or substitute canned beans.

     
    GRAIN BOWLS: HOW TO MIX & MATCH

    The formula is simple: cooked grain topped with vegetables and proteins, drizzled with dressing, and garnished.

  • Grains: Make them whole grains, and expand your experience. Barley? Couscous? Kamut? Quinoa? Peruse the choices at your regular food store, and seek out natural food stores for even more options.
  • Proteins: beans/other legumes*; crumbled/shaved/shredded cheese; fried, hard cooked or poached eggs; fish/seafood; meat or poultry; tofu.
  • Vegetables: marinated, pickled, raw (avocado, cucumber, radish), roasted, steamed, wilted.
  • Garnishes: baby arugula, capers, cherry/grape tomatoes, dried fruit (apricots, dates, cherries, cranberries, raisins), fresh herbs, green onions, green peas/edamame, hummus, kimchi, nuts/seeds, olives, plain yogurt, sprouts, sundried tomatoes, watercress.
  • Heat: chile flakes, chipotle, hot sauce, minced jalapeño.
  • Dressing: lemon/lime wedges, regular or flavored oil and vinegar, tahini.
  •  
    RECIPE: WILD RICE & ROASTED SQUASH SALAD

    This recipe, from Good Eggs, takes 15 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of cook time. It specifies kabocha squash; but as mentioned above, you can take the opportunity to try any squash you like.

    Ingredients

  • 1 kabocha squash (or substitute)
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup arugula, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    *The difference between beans and legumes: All beans are legumes, plants with pod fruits. But the category also includes peas, pulses (like lentils), even pod-based vine nuts like peanuts.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Using a sturdy knife and a steady hand, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. (Save ‘em to roast if you like!) Slice kabocha halves into 1” thick wedges and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Toss with a pinch of salt and a bit of olive oil—just enough to coat each piece—and place the sheet in the oven. They should take about 30 minutes to cook.

    2. PUT the rice in a pot with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. When the water boils, cover the pot and turn down to a simmer until the rice is cooked (about 25-30 minutes). While the rice and the squash cook…

    3. WASH and dry the watercress and arugula. Chop them very roughly and set aside. Toast thewalnuts until they’re golden brown (about 4-5 minutes in the toaster oven or 3 minutes in the oven—they’re deceptively fast toasting nuts). Chop once they’ve cooled.

    4. CHECK the rice. If it’s fully cooked, turn off the flame and let it sit for a few minutes in the covered pot. If all of the water is absorbed but the grains are not yet cooked, add a bit more water and continue to cook it with the cover on for a few more minutes. When it’s done, scoop the rice into a bowl and place in the fridge for a few minutes.
    Step 5

    5. CHECK the squash. When it is fully cooked (golden brown and tender) after about 30 minutes, remove it from the oven. Let it cool slightly if you don’t want to wilt the greens. In a bowl, combine the rice, squash, greens, sesame seeds, parsley, walnuts and feta. Dress with a couple splashes of rice vinegar, a bit of olive oil, and a few drops of sesame oil. Mix gently with a large spoon.

    6. ADJUST seasonings (salt and pepper) to taste and serve.

     

    A SQUASH ODYSSEY

    What do these have in common: acorn, Australian blue, banana, buttercup, butternut, calabaza, carnival, chayote, delicaza, gold nugget, hubbard, kabocha, orangetti, red kuri, spaghetti, stripetti, sweet dumpling and turban?

    They’re all winter squash—but you probably guessed that from the headline. Do you know how delicious they all are, though? We went on a two week squash odyssey and found a personal favorite (carnival squash, so good we ate the rind; sweet dumpling squash was our runner-up).

    Squash Is A Guilt-Free Food

  • It’s good for you, with tons of vitamin A (one serving has four times the RDA—and 52% of vitamin C) and a good source of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
  • The calories are just 80 to 100 per cup, depending on variety.
  • Read more about these gorgeous vegetables in our Squash Glossary.
     
    WHAT ARE KABOCHA SQUASH?

    Kabocha is also called Japanese pumpkin, especially in Australia and New Zealand. It is the variety of squash used in tempura. You may find different varieties in farmers markets. We’ve included photos of three varieties.

    Many of the kabocha in the market are kuri kabocha, a variety bred from seiyo kabocha, buttercup squash. It has a strong yet sweet flavor; its texture and flavor have been described as a combination of pumpkin and sweet potato. The rind of a kabocha is edible.

    Kabocha is available year-round but peaks in the late summer and early fall.

    Squash History

    The ancestors of all squash originated, and were domesticated, in Mesoamerica, some 8000 to 10,000 years ago. That’s 4,000 years earlier than the domestication of maize and beans, other local staples.

    Christopher Columbus brought squash back to Europe, along with tobacco, potatoes and tomatoes. From there, the vegetable was dispersed around the world.

     

    Gray Kabocha Squash

    Red Kabocha Squash

    Sunshine Kabocha Squash

    Top: gray kabocha squash. Center: red kabocha squash. Bottom: sunshine kabocha squash. Photos courtesy Good Eggs.

     
    In 1541 squash was brought to Japan from Cambodia on Portuguese ships. The sailors then went to Japan, where they introduced the squash as Cambodia abóbora, (Cambodian pumpkin). The name was shortened by the Japanese to kabocha, and kabocha became the generic term for all squash. [Source]

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Black-Eyed Peas For New Year’s Day

    It’s a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for prosperity in the new year. It may actually stem from an ancient Sephardic Jewish custom of eating them on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

    This “good luck” tradition is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled circa 500 CE., and includes other good luck foods such as beets, dates, leeks and spinach. This custom is still followed by Israeli Jews and Sephardic Jews the world over.

    Black-eyed peas are also called black-eyed beans, because they are a subspecies of the cowpea, called a pea but botanical a bean (here’s the difference). The beans are beige with a black “eye” on one side.

    Beans are a nutritional powerhouse as well as a very economical source of protein. Making an effort to have them on New Year’s Day may give you more luck, in the form of adding beans at least once a week to your diet.

    Beans can be enjoyed in a cold bean salad or mixed into a green salad, as a hot bean side or main dish, pureed into a dip and made into soup. There are even bean desserts; you may have encountered red bean ice cream and topping at Japanese restaurants (they’re azuki beans, sometimes mis-translated as adzuki beans).

      black-eyed-peas-iSt20474723-c-ViktorLugovskoy-230r

    Black-eyed peas are actually beans. Photo © ViktorLugovskoy | IST.

     
    Take a look at the cookbook Bean By Bean: More than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans.

    Peas and beans are both members of the same botanical family, Fabaceae, but belong to different genuses. Here are the details. Here’s the surprise: Peas and beans are actually fruits in botanical taxonomy, since they contain seeds and developed from the ovary of a flower.
     
     
    “LUCKY” RECIPE: HAM WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS & COLLARD GREENS

    Black-eyed peas and other beans are typically sold dried, and must be soaked a day in advance before cooking. Here’s a tip: rinsing the soaking water every few hours removes the compounds that cause flatulence in some people!

    You can also buy pre-soaked black-eyed peas and even pre-steamed back-eyed peas, ready to heat and eat. But these will cost more than buying dried beans.

    This recipe takes just 15-20 minutes of active prep time, plus several hours of passive soaking time. See the photo below for your finished meal.
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 12 ounces black-eyed peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • Pinch of chile flakes
  • 2 bunches of collard greens or substitute*
  • 24 ounces or more ham†
  • Dijon mustard
  • 1 tube of biscuit dough (or make biscuits from scratch)
  • Lemon half or wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For Serving

  • Butter for the biscuits
  • Dijon mustard for the ham
  •  
    *Collard greens are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, Brassicaceae, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and other commonly-enjoyed, anti-carcinogenic vegetables. Collards are most similar to kale, although bok choy and mustard greens are also good substitutes. Food trivia: Collards contain as much calcium as milk!

    †A typical serving is 4 ounces of ham per person. If your group likes larger portions, plan accordingly.

     

    Ham, Collards, Black-Eyed Peas

    Bean by Bean Cookbook

    TOP PHOTO: Have black-eyed peas with
    collards and ham for brunch, lunch or dinner
    on January 1st. Photo and recipe courtesy
    Good Eggs | San Francisco. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    A cookbook about beans is an asset,
    nutritionally and economically. Photo
    courtesy Workman Publishing.

     

    Preparation

    You can do the first two steps a day or two before you serve the dish.

    1. PLACE the dried beans in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Soak them overnight; if you forget, you can soak them for at least 4 hours the day of preparation. When done soaking, strain the beans in a colander, rinse the pot, return the beans to the pot and cover them with fresh water.

    2. ADD 2 bay leaves to the pot and set it over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, until the beans are velvety tender but not mushy. Dip a mug into the pot and reserve a bit of the starchy cooking liquid; then strain the beans and set aside.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the biscuits on the sheet. While the oven is preheating, slice the ham to 1/2″ thickness as desired: full slices, ham fingers, etc. When the oven is ready…

    4. BAKE the biscuits for about 30 minutes or per package directions, until they’re golden brown. Meanwhile…

    5. HEAT 3 tablespoons of olive oil, more as needed, in a heavy-bottom pan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and a pinch of chile flakes and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until they’re softened and translucent.

    6. ADD the collard greens and turn the heat down to medium. Cook the greens and the onions together, occasionally tossing with tongs, for 10-12 minutes, until the greens are soft and tender.

    7. ADD the beans to the pan and cook together for a few minutes, until the beans have warmed through. It it seems too dry, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking water instead of more olive oil. Remove from the heat and season with a squeeze or two of lemon, plus a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste.

    Perhaps the most often-consumed black-eyed pea recipe for the New Year is…

     
    HOPPIN’ JOHN

    Hoppin’ John is a traditional Southern dish enjoyed on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to usher in a year of prosperity. It combines several good luck foods: beans, greens, pork and rice.

    Some recipes substitute ham hock, fatback, or country sausage for the conventional bacon; some add green peas, a splash of vinegar and/or favorite spices.

    Make Hoppin’ John as a hearty side with your favorite protein and a green salad. Here’s a Hoppin’ John recipe, plus a list of other “good luck” foods.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEANS in our Bean Glossary.

      

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    PRODUCT UPDATES

    blue-diamond-sriracha-230

    FSTG_bean-chips-generalmills-230

    TOP PHOTO: Almonds with a sriracha kick.
    Photo courtesy Blue Diamond. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Bean & Tortilla Chips from Food
    Should Taste Good.

     

    Brands we enjoy and have previously reviewed are busy launching new lines. Here’s what we tasted lately.

    BLUE DIAMOND BOLD SRIRACHA ALMONDS

    Companies that have jumped on the “hot” bandwagon have figured out how to make products hot enough to please hotties, but not so hot that they loses sales from the other segments.

    These “bold” roasted almonds are delightful, and not as intense as the can indicates, or we would not have been able to eat them (medium salsa is the hottest we go).

    Consider them as stocking stuffers. Almonds are a healthful nut, so this is a guilt-free snack. The line is certified kosher by OK. More information.
     
    FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD BEAN CHIPS

    Our favorite line of tortilla chips, known for deftly combining other foods with corn-based tortilla chips, is now adding beans to the mix.

    Food Should Taste Good Black Bean Chips and Pinto Bean Chips combine nutritious, fiber-filled beans to deliver real bean flavors.

    Food Should Taste Good Bean Chips are gluten free, have zero grams trans-fat and are certified kosher by OU. More information.

    We must shout out to the line of tortilla chips in flavors galore. Beyond Cantina chips, there are Cheddar, Falafel, Guacamole, Harvest Pumpkin, Jalapeño, Jalapeño With Cheddar, Kettle Corn, Lime, Multigrain, Olive, Sweet Potato, The Works and White Cheddar.

    Love those chips!

     

     

    NASOYA CHIPOTLE BAKED TOFU

    Who says tofu isn’t flavorful? Nasoya, the country’s largest producer of tofu, has added a new flavor to its line of TofuBaked.

    Chipotle TofuBaked is ready to eat, sliced cold into salads or sandwiches, or heated for scrambles, omelets and Tex-Mex favorites (burritos, fajitas, tacos). Recipes on the website include Seven Layer Chipotle Dip, Southwest Breakfast Bake and Chipotle Tortilla Soup.

    We’re also fans of Ginger TofuBaked.

    The product is USDA certified organic and certified kosher by Star K.

    More information.
     
    POPCHIPS CRAZY HOT

    Quite hot, if not crazy hot, these chips are also quite tart, with as much vinegar as heat.

    In addition to red chili pepper flavor, there are hints of Cheddar cheese. We think it’s a winner for hot stuff lovers.

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K and certified gluten free. More information.
     
    RUNA ICED TEA

    Runa Clean Energy has no sugar added iced teas, which, thanks to the guayusa from which the tea is brewed, has a natural sweetness as well.

    The line is certified kosher by OU, Fair Trade Certified and a Certified B Corporation.

    In 8.4-ounce/250 ml cans, flavors include Berry, Orange Passion and Original. More information.

     

    chipotle-tofu-nasoya-230

    popchips-crazy-hot copy-230

    TOP PHOTO: Spicy tofu, ready to eat from Nasoya. BOTTOM PHOTO: More hot stuff, this time in crunchy potato chips from Popchips .

     

      

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    RECIPE: Moroccan Quinoa & Roasted Carrots

    October 1st is World Vegetarian Day, the annual kickoff to Vegetarian Awareness Month.

    Vegetarian diets have proven health benefits, are kind to animals and help to preserve the Earth (meat production is a major source of greenhouse gas and deforestation).

    According to ProCon.org, some prominent vegetarians include/have included: Lord Byron, Bill Clinton, Leonardo da Vinci, Ellen DeGeneres, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Dick Gregory, Steve Jobs, Carl Lewis, Franz Kafka, Paul McCartney, Martina Navratilova, Pythagoras, Voltaire and Leo Tolstoy.

    But you don’t need to have particular beliefs to enjoy this delicious vegetarian (actually vegan) side or main course. The quinoa supplies excellent nutrition, and the Moroccan spices are irresistible.

    The recipe is from Good Eggs, a San Francisco purveyor of artisan foods.

    RECIPE: MOROCCAN QUINOA & ROASTED CARROTS

    The addition of allspice, cinnamon and raisins impart a wonderful North African flavor profile and fragrance to this simple dish.
     
    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • 2 bunches carrots, tops cut off, halved lengthwise
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1 handful* parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • Squeeze of lemon†
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: plain or seasoned yogurt‡
  •    

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/roasted carrots quinoa goodeggs 230

    Delicious, nutritious and good-looking: quinoa and carrot salad with Moroccan seasonings. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    *What is a “handful” of parsley? It’s an indefinite amount; please don’t write recipes like this! The size of “a bunch” varies widely by retailer. Try this: For “a bunch,” use one cup loosely packed herbs and 1/2 cup for “a handful.”

    †What’s a “squeeze” of lemon? Is it a squeezed half lemon or a wedge of lemon? A medium lemon has 2-3 tablespoons of juice, a large lemon can have 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup). For a “squeeze,” try 1-2 teaspoons. Take notes and adjust both parsley and lemon measurements next time, as needed.

    ‡Give plain yogurt some savory flavor by stirring in one or more of the following: roasted garlic, chopped fresh parsley, minced chives or thin-sliced green onions (scallions). You can also use the zest from the lemon.

     

    Raw White Quinoa

    Uncooked white quinoa. Photo | Wikimedia.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Soak the quinoa in water for 15 minutes.

    2. PLACE the carrots on a baking sheet and toss with some olive oil. Roast for 20-30 minutes.

    3. STRAIN the quinoa and add it to a pot with the water. Turn the flame to high and bring to a boil, uncovered. As soon as it boils, reduce the flame to a simmer and cover the pot.

    4. CHECK after 15-20 minutes. When all of the water has been absorbed and the grains are still slightly opaque in the center, turn off the heat and let the quinoa steam with the cover on for 5 minutes.

    5. PLACE the quinoa in a bowl with the parsley, 1/2 teaspoon each of allspice and cinnamon, the raisins and lemon juice. Add a drizzle of olive oil and salt. Adjust the salt and spices to taste and add pepper to taste.

     
    6. REMOVE the carrots when they begin to caramelize and crisp up. Toss them gently with a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of allspice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. To serve, spoon the quinoa onto a serving plate or individual plates and top with the carrots. Pass the optional yogurt as a condiment.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Peach & Chicken Salad

    Chicken Salad Grilled Peaches

    Inspired feasting: grilled chicken salad with
    grilled peaches. Photo courtesy Good
    Eggs.

     

    There are so many ways to approach an entrée salad. This suggestion, from our favorite artisan grocer, Good Eggs of San Francisco, combines grilled proteins with grilled fruit. (They can be oven-roasted instead.)

    Good Eggs also suggests that instead of an all-green salad, you add whole grains for fiber, texture and flavor.

    Grilled or roasted, the season’s peaches add a wallop of sweet juiciness to a salad. If the peaches in your store aren’t great, you can substitute apricots, mangoes, pluots or nectarines (all are stone fruits like peaches; see details below).

    We happened to have some beautiful red rice from Lundberg on hand, and used it in our first version of this recipe (a hit!).

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD WITH PEACHES &
    WHOLE GRAINS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 peaches, ripe but still firm
  • 1 cup whole grains (see list below)
  • 2 cups mixed greens (we include 1/3 cup spicy greens like
    arugula and watercress, or radishes)
  • Optional: 3-4 tablespoons basil, cilantro and/or parsley,
    chopped
  • For The Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac or za’atar, or a combination of lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes (more about sumac and za’atar)
  • Optional: minced herbs (some of what you use in the salad)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    For Serving

  • Crusty bread
  • Olive oil for dipping, seasoned per taste*
  •  
    *Use infused olive oil (basil, garlic, rosemary, etc.) or season your own with dried herbs and spices.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the yogurt dressing. Blend the ingredients and refrigerate to let the flavors meld. You can make this a day in advance. If the dressing is too thick at room temperature, thin it a tablespoon at a time with milk or plain kefir.

    2. GRILL the chicken breasts and sliced peaches, or roast them at 400°F, for 20 minutes. You can grill the bread at the same time. When cool enough to work with, shred or julienne the chicken.

    3. COOK the grains to al dente; you don’t want mushy grains with your crisp greens. While the grains are cooking, wash and pat dry the greens.

    4. TOSS and plate the chicken, cooked grains, salad greens and herbs. Garnish with the peaches. Pass the yogurt dressing.
     
    LIST OF WHOLE GRAINS

    Whole grains that are common in the U.S. include barley, buckwheat, bulghur, corn, oats, quinoa, rice (only colored rice, e.g. black, brown, red), rye, wild rice and whole wheat.

     

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/red quinoa spoon pour 230

    Read this if you need to be convinced of the benefits of whole grains. Photo of red quinoa courtesy Village Harvest.

     
    Whole grains that are less commonly used in the U.S. include amaranth, einkorn, farro/emmer wheat, freekeh, Kamut® Khorasan wheat, kañiwa (a cousin of quinoa), millet, sorghum, teff and triticale.

    Learn more about these grains at WholeGrainsCouncil.org.
     
     
    WHAT ARE STONE FRUITS?

    Stone fruits exist in two different botanical families. The temperate climate-based Rosales order, Rosaceae family, includes what we think of as European stone fruits plus almonds, pecans and walnuts. The tropical/subtropical-based order Sapindales, family Sapindaceae, includes familiar fruits, nuts and spices such as cashew, lychee, mango, mastic, pistachio and sumac.

    Stone fruits from the Rosaceae family are members of the Prunus genus, and include apricots, cherries, nectarines, olives, peaches, plums, and cherries and cross-breeds such as apriums, plumcots and pluots.

    A stone fruit, also called a drupe, is a fruit with a large, hard stone (pit) inside a fleshy fruit. The stone is often thought of as the the seed, but the seed is actually inside the stone.

    In fact, almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts are examples of the seeds inside the stones. They’re also drupes, but a type in which we eat the seed inside the pit instead of the surrounding fruit.

    Not all drupes are stone fruits. The coconut is also a drupe, as are bramble fruits such as blackberries and raspberries. June through September is prime stone fruit season in the U.S.

    Enough botany for you?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pozole (Posole) ~ Not Just For Special Occasions

    Much of what we know about Aztec customs is thanks to Bernardino de Sahagún (1499-1590), a Franciscan friar, missionary priest, scholar and ethnographer who traveled to New Spain* (current-day Mexico) after its conquest. Arriving in 1529, he learned the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs and spent more 61 years documenting their beliefs, culture and history.

    He wrote extensively about Aztec cuisine. This article focuses on pozole (poe-SOE-leh, and often spelled posole in the U.S.), a hearty soup or stew made of hominy, meat, chiles and other seasonings.

    The dish has either a red or green color depending on the chiles used for the soup base; there’s also white pozole. In addition to the traditional pork, later variations used beans, beef, chicken and seafood.

    Pozole† is actually the Aztec word for hominy, corn that is hulled (the bran and germ have been removed) by bleaching the whole kernels in a lye bath (called nixtamalization).

    In Sahagún’s time, pozole was cooked only on special occasions. Later, it became a popular holiday and “Saturday night” dish.

       

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pork pozole chefIngridHoffmann 230

    Pork pozole, garnished with cabbage,
    cilantro, lime and radishes. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.

     
    Today, pozole is customized by each individual at the table, with garnishes that include avocado, cilantro, diced red onion, lime or lemon wedges, oregano, radishes, salsa, shredded cabbage, sour cream and tortilla chips or tostadas.

    NOTE: Don’t confuse pozole with pozol, a porrige-like drink made from fermented corn dough.
     
    *After an 11-year struggle for independence, New Spain became the sovereign nation of Mexico in 1821.

    †Also spelled posole, pozolé and pozolli; the original Nahuatl spelling is name is potzolli.
     
    CLASSIC POZOLE RECIPES

  • Beef Pozole With Red Chiles (Pozole Rojo)
  • Green Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Verde)
  • Red Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Rojo)
  • Red Pozole With Pork (Pozole Rojo)
  • Shrimp & Scallop Pozole (Pozole Blanco)
  • Vegetarian Pozole With Beans (Vegan Pozole Rojo)
  • White Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Blanco)
  •  
    A modern variation:

  • Pozole-Stuffed Grilled Onions
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pozole salad kaminsky 230

    Pozole interpreted as a salad, for a first course or side. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Today we feature a vegan pozole salad from Hannah Kamimsky of Bittersweet Blog. It is intended as a first course or a side dish.
     
    RECIPE: POZOLE SALAD

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 Savoy cabbage ((1-1/4 pounds), shredded
  • 1 can (29-ounces) cooked white hominy kernels (not hominy grits), drained and rinsed
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
  •  
    For The Cilantro Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes depending on size and juiciness)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Toss the cherry tomatoes and onion with the olive oil and oregano, and spread them in one even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15-25 minutes, until the tomatoes are blistered and beginning to burst. Let cool. Meanwhile…

    2. PREPARE the dressing: Add the cilantro, sundried tomatoes and garlic to a food processor or blender, and slowly pour in the lime juice while running the machine on low. Thoroughly purée, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender jar as needed. Once the purée is mostly smooth, add the agave, chili powder, cumin and salt next, and drizzle in the olive oil (with the motor running) to emulsify.

    3. TOSS together the tomatoes and onions, cabbage, hominy, avocados, and jalapeños in a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Chill for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to fully meld.

      

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