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Archive for Salts-Seasonings-Herbs-Spices

TIP OF THE DAY: Use “Everything” Bagel Topping On Everything Else

Everything Fish Fillet

Everything Burger Bun

Everything Bagel Spice Blend

Everything Topping

[1] At OB Surf Lodge in San Diego, the “Everything” salmon entrée, has the spice topping with a variety of sides (*below). [2] and [3] Homemade burger buns from King Arthur Flour, which sells the topping. [4] What should you top first (photo courtesy Take Two Tapas).

 

First there was the “everything” bagel (history and recipe below), for people who wanted it all: onion, garlic, poppy seed, salt and sesame seed.

Then it ported to everything crackers, lavash, hamburger buns, bagel chips, dips, pretzels, popcorn…and now, to protein.

You can purchase it ready-blended (see photo #3 and check Trader Joe’s and other stores) or customize your own topping, e.g., leave out the salt and add red pepper flakes. If you mix up a lot, you can give it as gifts.

Then, here’s what you can do with it. Notes:

  • A little goes a long way, so start small.
  • When baking, the garlic can burn after a while. Keep an eye on it and cover with foil when it turns light brown.
  • For baking bread, use an egg wash before sprinkling on the topping.
  •  
    EVERYTHING BREAKFAST

  • Avocado toast.
  • Cream cheese: Top the brick with the seasoning.
  • Eggs: For fried, first toast the seasoning mix in a non-stick pan with a bit of oil. Then add the eggs and sprinkle more seasoning on top. When ready, flip. For scrambled eggs, add more at the beginning; then no need to sprinkle on top.
  • Plain yogurt and cottage cheese.
  • Buttered toast.
  • Regular bagels (sprinkle it on the cream cheese, or brush the bagel with water and adhere to the top).
  •  
    EVERYTHING LUNCH

  • Burgers: Bake “everything” buns, or brush plain buns with water and sprinkle on the topping.
  • Cole slaw and potato salad.
  • Green salads.
  • Pasta: Sprinkle on mac and cheese.
  • Pizza: Mix into the dough, or sprinkle on the top.
  • Salad dressing.
  • Sandwich filling garnish.
  •  
    EVERYTHING DINNER

  • Grilled chicken or fish.
  • Pan-fried fish: Rub an inch-thick tuna or other steak with olive oil and everything mix. Sear in a very hot cast iron skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil, two minutes per side.
  • Pasta: Use with butter, olive oil, red or white sauce
  • Soup: Spread some Dijon mustard on the top, add the seasoning, drizzle with olive oil and roast in a 400°F oven for 5-8 minutes.
  •  
    EVERYTHING SIDES & SNACKS

  • Corn on the cob.
  • Dips.
  • Hard boiled eggs.
  • Focaccia.
  • Hummus.
  • Popcorn.
  • Potatoes and grains.
  • Soft cheeses: goat cheese log, ricotta.
  •  

     
    RECIPE: EVERYTHING BAGEL TOPPING

    Ingredients For About 1/3 Cup

  • 2 tablespoons black or white sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons minced dried garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced dried onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon† coarse salt (kosher, sea salt)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST the sesame seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat, until lightly browned, stirring occasionally (3 to 5 minutes). Transfer to the storage container and let cool.

    2. ADD the poppy seeds, onion, garlic and salt to the bowl and stir or shake to combine.

    3. STORE in an airtight container. As with all spices and dried herbs, store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.

     
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE “EVERYTHING” BAGEL

    When a high school student, David Gussin had a part-time job in a bagel shop in Howard Beach, Queens. He says he invented the “everything” bagel sometime around 1980.

    One of his jobs was to sweep out the the seeds that had fallen off bagels. Instead of throwing them out, he swept them into a bin and snacked on them, enjoying the toasty mixed flavors.

    One day, in a stroke of inspiration, Gussin envisioned a new bagel topping: poppy and sesame seeds mixed with other toppings. He proposed the “everything” bagel to the owner, and it was an instant hit with customers.

    Following a 2008 New Yorker article with his story, the digital marketing pioneer Seth Godin wrote on his blog, “Unfortunately, I worked in a bagel factory in 1977…baking bagels…including the “everything” bagel.

    Gussin’s response: “The last thing I want is a brouhaha over the ‘everything’ bagel. It brings smiles to people’s faces. It doesn’t deserve controversy. It’s a nice thing’.”

    _______________

    *In this dish, the chef has crusted the salmon with “everything,” and sauté it until the topping is toasted. The salmon is finished in the oven and served with crisp fried capers, lightly wilted arugula with red onion, polenta and buttermilk sauce.

    †We use much less salt than most recipes. We find “everything” bagels to have too much salt.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Different Margarita Rimmers

    chili-rim-richardsandovalrestaurants

    Half Rim Chipotle Salt Guava Margarita

    Smoked Salt Margarita Rim

    [1] Something different: a chili powder rim instead of salt. Or, mix the two. At Richard Sandoval restaurants. [2] A cayenne rim (Tajin seasoning) on a guava Margarita at Dos Caminos restaurants. [3] Smoked salt rims a classic Margarita from Noble Tequila.

     

    What’s your idea of the perfect margarita? With so many choices offered from salt to flavor, Milagro Tequila conducted a survey for National Margarita Day, February 22nd, and found that:

  • 91% of people prefer Margaritas fresh over those made with a pre-packaged mix (no surprise there!)
  • 1/3 of respondents prefer drinking their Margarita in a rocks glass rather than a big Margarita glass (you folks are the minority).
  • Nearly 2/3 of people prefer salt on the rim.
  • 70% of respondents prefer drinking from the salted rim rather than through a straw.
  • The majority of people prefer a classic Margarita to a fruit-flavored one (guava, passionfruit, peach, strawberry, etc.).
  • 40% like having an extra tequila shot mixed into their Margarita.
  • 2/3 of respondents prefer a Margarita made with blanco/silver tequila rather than the lightly aged reposado.
  •  
    THINK BEYOND THE COARSE SALT

    First, there’s no need to buy “Margarita salt”: It’s just kosher salt with a higher price. You can also use coarse sea salt.

    But how about something other than coarse salt? The 70% of survey participants who want a salt rim might like a change of pace.

    Here are some options that complement a Margarita.

    You can use another rimmer that still maintains the spirit of the Margarita (and maybe attracts people who don’t want the extra salt).

    Flavored salt. There’s flavored salt, of course, in scores of variations from bacon, chipotle, smoked salts (alderwood, chardonnay oak, hickory or mesquite-smoked).

    Colored salt. You can get dramatic, with black lava or Cypress black salt, or red Hawaiian alaea salt. You can get pretty, with pink Himalayan salt.

    Heat. You can add heat with ghost pepper, habanero, jalapeño, and sriracha-flavored salts.

    Or just use “hot” spices from your kitchen for the rim: cayenne, Tajin seasoning (cayenne-based), chili powder or crushed chile flakes—straight or mixed with kosher salt.

    If you think hot rims might be too intense, make the currently trending half-rim (photo #2).

    Fruitiness. You can add fruitiness with lemon, lime and mango-flavored salts.

    Herbaceousness. You can buy blends of salts and herbs, or mix your own. Or use straight minced cilantro, or other fresh herbs.

    For starters, take a look at Seasalt.com.

    MORE ABOUT MARGARITAS

  • Is It A Margarita Or Not?
  • Margarita History
  • Deconstructed Margarita Shots
  • Frozen Grape Margarita
  • Frozen Margarita Mocktail
  • Smoky Margarita
  •  

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet & Spicy

    Watermelon Agua Fresca With Tajin

    Mango WIth Tajin

    Mango Ice Cream With Tajin

    Mango Paletas With Tajin

    Tajin Seasoning

    Cheese and Honey

    [1] Watermelon agua fresca with a spicy rim. Or, switch out the salt on your Margarita (recipe).[2] Fresh fruit perks up with a sprinkle of Tajin. [3] On ice cream or sorbet: cool with sweet heat (photos #1, #2 and #3 courtesy Tajin). [4] A sprinkle of Tajin is a must on paletas—Mexican ice pops. Here’s the recipe for these mango-lime paletas sfrom Christy Wilson Nutrition. [5] Tajin: Buy a bottle of mix your own (see bingrediengs below; photo courtesy PicClick). [6] Mix it into condiments, from ketchup to honey (photo of cheese board courtesy Martha Stewart Living).

     

    Mankind has been combining sweet and spicy flavors since ancient times…and up to just yesterday (2016), when Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili tortilla chips appeared on store shelves.

    The combination of sweet heat has been part of global cuisines from Asia to Mexico. If you’ve never sprinkled a mango or lime paleta—a Mexican ice pop—with spicy heat, you’ve been missing out!

    Cultures around the world variously use black pepper, chiles, horseradish, mustard, wasabi and white pepper for heat.

    Whatever the combination with whatever sweet element (agave, honey, sugar, fruit), after an initial bite of sweet, the heat builds into a kick: a combination that appeals to many.

    For Cinco de Mayo, we’re focusing on the famous heat of Latin America: hot chiles (all about chiles).

    At the restaurant level, sweet and spicy has been showcased in casual fare (burgers, chicken wings, pizza), chocolate (bars, bonbons, desserts and spicy hot chocolate).

    Ketchup and other sweet condiments are good candidates to combine sweet and heat.

    Small manufacturers have long been featuring sweet and spicy, from jerky flavors to rice chips, tortilla chips and crackers.

    Even chocolate bars, a standard bearer for sweet, has been combined with spicy for at least 20 years. Today, you’ll find this combination in everything from savory Mexican mole sauce to desserts.

    In fact, the first chocolate consumed—an Aztec beverage for the elite—ground roasting cacao beans, with and vanilla—plus chiles, allspice and spicy petals from a local tree (Cymbopetalum penduliflorum, a member of the custard apple family known in English as sacred earflower.

    While honey only arrived with the Conquistadors in 1519, the local agave sap was not used as a sweetener.

    SWEET & HEAT PAIRINGS

    Some of our favorites:

  • Cocktails: start with fruity (mango, pineapple) and look online for tons of ideas
  • Fresh fruit slices (including cucumber) and fruit salad (sprinkled)
  • Fruit sauces for proteins (chicken, duck, pork, turkey)
  • Fruit sauces for desserts (mango, orange, pineapple)
  • Ketchup and other sweet condiments (barbecue sauce, chutney, honey, glaze, hot pepper jelly, fruit preserves, maple syrup, marinade, teriyaki sauce)
  • Mexican hot chocolate
  • Red salsa with chopped berries, mango, stone fruits (e.g. peaches), pineapple
  • Spicy cheese (pepper jack, cheddar with habanero, horseradish or jalapeño) or fresh-to-aged cheesewith spicy honey
  •  
    Why sweet heat? Why now?

    More and more Americans are enjoying spicier foods, due to the growth in popularity of International cuisines (not just Mexican, but Indian, Thai and numerous others).

    They ported the sweet-heat combinations found in ethnic dishes to provide a more complex depth of flavor to traditional, European-based foods.

  • When sweet is added to spice, the heat is mitigated, allowing the taste of the spice to be better captured and appreciated without burning one’s taste buds.
  • When spice is added to sweet, it gives food an unexpected kick.
  • Mexican hot chocolate, anyone?

    If you’re ready for some sweet heat, start with a spice mix. You can play with hot sauce and sliced of pureed jalapeños later.

    Mix your own hot spice blend (more about that below), or buy a bottle of Tajin seasoning.

    WHAT IS TAJIN SEASONING?

    Made by Tajin Products, a Mexican company, this mildly spicy seasoning combines chili, lime and salt. It is delicious on fruits: citrus, cucumber, melon, and tropical fruit (mango, papaya, pineapple, etc.); and in cooked fruit recipes.

    It’s a versatile seasoning. In addition to its popularity as a glass rimmer for cocktails or juice drinks, try it on:

  • Eggs
  • Fries
  • Ice pops and sorbet
  • Popcorn
  • Proteins
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Salads
  • Vegetables and grains
  • Wherever you want a kick of heat
  •  
    A Mexican staple, you can find Tajin seasoning in the Mexican foods aisle in supermarkets, in Latin American food stores, and online.

    If you want to make your own, mix lime zest with cayenne, chile flakes, chile powder, jalapeño—or go beyond Mexico to layer on international heat: black pepper (India), horseradish (Mediterranean), hot paprika (Spanish Basque region), mustard powder (China) or wasabi (Japan).

    You can add yet another layer your spice mix—perhaps some cumin or curry powder.

     
    THE SENSORY CHARACTERISTICS OF SPICES

    Spices don’t have a single flavor profile: They have several. Thanks to Spices Inc. for this analysis of the 15 most commonly used sensory characteristics when describing the flavor and aroma profiles of spices.

    Both spices and herbs are obtained from plants.

  • Spices are seeds, fruits, roots, barks, or other plant substances, primarily used for flavoring, coloring or preserving food.
  • Herbs are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants, used for flavoring or as a garnish.
  • While pepper is a spice (it’s the fruit of a vine), salt is neither an herb nor a spice. It is a mineral, mined underground (from ancient, dry lake beds) or evaporated from sea water (i.e., sea salt). It is thus not included with these taste characteristics, as its flavor in foods doesn’t come from spices (or herbs).
  •  
    Spices have secondary functions as well, for coloring and as a preservative, antioxidant or medicine. The focus here is on their culinary uses: flavor and color.
     
    THE SENSORY CHARACTERISTICS OF SPICES

    The flavors:

  • Bitter: ajwain, bay leaf, celery, clove, cumin, epazote, fenugreek seeds, horseradish, juniper, lavender, mace, marjoram, oregano, savory, Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, turmeric, thyme.
  • Cooling: anise, fennel, sweet basil.
  • Earthy: achiote, cumin, saffron, turmeric.
  • Floral: coriander, lemongrass, rose petals, saffron, sweet basil thyme.
  • Fruity: anise, fennel, nigella, savory, star anise, tamarind.
  • Herbaceous: dill weed, lavender, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon and thyme
  • Hot: black pepper, chiles, horseradish, mustard, wasabi, white pepper.
  • Nutty: ajwain, black cardamom, coriander seed, cumin seed, fenugreek seeds, mustard seed,poppy seed, sesame seed.
  • Piney: bay leaf, rosemary thyme.
  • Pungent: allspice, epazote, garlic, ginger, grains of paradise, horseradish, marjoram, mustard, onion, paprika, spearmint, star anise, wasabi.
  • Sour: amchur, pomegranate, sumac, tamarind.
  • Spicy: bay leaf, cassia cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, curry leaf, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg.
  • Sulfury: asafoetida, chives, garlic, onion.
  • Sweet: allspice, anise, caraway, cassia cinnamon, chervil, clove, dill seed, fennel, green cardamom, nutmeg, poppy seed, sesame seed, star anise.
  • Woody: cardamom, Ceylon cinnamon, clove, juniper, lavender, rosemary, Sichuan peppercorns.
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    PRODUCTS: 5 New Favorite Specialty Foods

    Four of this month’s roundup of favorite products will brighten your dinner table, and the last will satisfy your sweet tooth.

    In alphabetical order, they are:

    1. CRACKER BARREL Oven BAKED MACARONI & CHEESE

    Cracker Barrel Cheese’s premium mac & cheese line has launched Oven Baked Macaroni & Cheese (photo #1) in three flavors:

  • Sharp Cheddar, seasoned with paprika and ground mustard.
  • Sharp White Cheddar, seasoned with black pepper and ground mustard.
  • Cheddar Havarti, seasoned with garlic and chives.
  •  
    Fans of oven-baked mac and cheese prefer it for the crispy edges and the toasted bread crumbs. The bread crumbs are included, as well as flavorful seasonings; and the level of crispiness is up to you.

    Just boil the noodles and mix the seasoning packet with melted butter and milk. Add the cheese sauce and the flavor mix, spoon into a baking dish and top with the toasted breadcrumbs.

    Get yours at major retailers nationwide. Suggested Retail Price is $3.99 for a 12.34-ounce package.

    For more information visit the Cracker Barrel Cheese website.
     
     
    2. DELTA BLUES RICE GRITS

    Delta Blues Rice (that’s the Mississippi Delta) is a fourth-generation family business that grows artisan rice. If you think that all white rice tastes the same, you won’t believe how much more flavorful it is than supermarket brands.

    The company sells the rice in white and brown rice and rice grits, all made in small batches and milled for freshness.

    We’ve enjoyed cornmeal grits since we were small fry, but had never tasted rice grits until the folks at Delta Blues Rice sent us a sample (photos #2 and #3).

    We devoured the package and ordered more. For those who avoid corn-based foods, they’re a real find.

    If you come from a grits-loving family, load up on them as gifts or favors for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

    Get yours at DeltaBluesRice.com.
     
     
    3. ENTUBE FLAVOR PASTES

    Big flavors come from little tubes. Entube is a line of flavorful pastes in three international flavors: curry, harissa and umeboshi (photos #4 and #5).

    These are great to have on hand and are so easy to use. Instead of adding more salt when a dish needs some pizzazz, just add a bit of flavor paste—to anything from grains to cheese fondue to soups and stews.

    We tried two of the three flavors: Curry and Harissa. Here’s how we used them.

    3a. Entube Harissa Paste

  • Dip: Combine with yogurt to your desired spice level and use as dip for crudités or tortilla chips.
  • Sauce: Stir some paste into pasta sauce or the hollandaise sauce for Eggs Benedict (quite wonderful). With a mushroom sauce for roast chicken, add 1-1/2 teaspoons for 1 cup sauce.
  • Spread: Add to mayo for a great sandwich spread.
  •  
    Roast Chicken: About 15 minutes before the chicken is due to come out of the oven, combine harissa-flavored plain yogurt with the hot drippings. Baste the chicken twice, five minutes apart. For the second basting, add the juice of 1/2 lemon to the yogurt and drippings, along with a bit of kosher salt to taste. This will slightly caramelize and crisp the skin.

    Grilled Lamb: Morroccan lamb dishes are classically made with a harissa spice rub. We made a rack of lamb with the yogurt-Harissa Paste mix (4 tablespoons yogurt with 1 teaspoon paste) and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Brush it in on at the start of roasting and once more 5 minutes from the end. It perks up the slightly gamy flavor of lamb beautifully. (Cooking time for medium rare lamb is 22 minutes in a 425°F oven.)

       

    Cracker Barrel Baked Mac & Cheese

    Delta Blues Rice Grits

    Rice Grits

    Entube Flavor Pastes

    Paella With Harissa

    [1] We love baked mac & cheese with crispy edges (photo courtesy Cracker Barrel). [2] Calling all grits lovers for great rice grits (photo courtesy Delta Blues Rice). [3] Rice grits (photo courtesy Neniemi Food). [4] Entube flavor pastes and [5] Entube harissa spices up paella (photos courtesy Entube | Facebook).

     
    Moroccan Chicken Kabobs: Cube 1 pound of chicken breasts and marinate for 3-4 hours in 3 teaspoons Harissa Paste, juice of 1 lemon, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, with an optional teaspoon of smoked paprika. Skewer onto pre-soaked (30 minutes) wooden skewers or lightly oiled metal skewers. Broil or grill, turning often. Brush with the marinade halfway through and continue until browned and cooked through, 16 minutes total. Serve hot.

    3b. Entube Curry Paste

    Mushroom Sauce: Boost the umami flavor in creamy mushroom sauces. Add as much paste as you like, tasting as you go in 1/2 teaspoon increments. The curry flavor was not overpowering and added depth to the character of the mushrooms. This combination also works in mushroom tarts.

    Grilled Shrimp: Marinate 1 pound deveined shrimp in a yogurt marinade made with 1/2 cup yogurt and 2 teaspoons of curry paste, the juice of 1 lime, mustard oil or coconut oil, chili powder to taste and 2 teaspoons of grated, peeled ginger root. Marinate in the fridge for 2-4 hours. Just before grilling (on medium-high), remove shrimp and wipe off the excess marinade with paper towels. Grill until black spots begin to appear, about 3 minutes per side. Delicious!

    The one complaint we have with the pastes is that there is too much added ascorbic acid (vitamin C)—almost 20%. If you have a sophisticated palate, you may notice a slightly medicinal acidic tang that is not as clean and lively as would have been given by lemon or lime. You can mask it by adding some real lemon or lime juice.

    Find a store locator on the company website.

     

    Salt With Sea Vegetables

    Werther's Cocoa Creme Caramels

    Werther's Sugar Free Caramels

    [6] Sea salt meets seaweed in these tasty blends (photo courtesy Sea Veg). [7] Werther’s new Cocoa Crème Soft Caramels and [8] longtime favorites, the sugar-free caramels line (photos courtesy Werther’s Original).

     

    4. MAINE MADE SEA SEASONINGS

    This naturally iodized sea salt has a little something extra: sea vegetables, including dulse and kelp, seaweeds known for their high vitamin and mineral content.

    The entire line of seaweed-based products are harvested in Maine waters; and the line is targeted to people who want to get the most nutrition they can from their foods.

    Here are the nutritional values of both seaweeds.

    Not that we don’t want the best nutrition; but we like these sea salts for their flavor, especially with rice and other grains and starches. And, we’re big flavor fans of Japanese seaweed, dried or fresh [which is actually reconstituted dry seaweed].

    The company offers variations of the sea salt with added cayenne or garlic; and with other seaweeds. Another product of interest is the applewood-smoked nori sheets.

    Find out more at SeaVeg.com.
     
     
    5. WERTHER’S ORIGINAL NEW COCOA CREME SOFT CARAMELS

    Werther’s newest flavor can be attributed to American palates: a survey of more than 1,000 American adults found that 44% chose caramel as their favorite candy flavor to combine with chocolate. The next closest is mint, at 19%.

    Werther’s Original Cocoa Crème Soft Caramels pair their yummy soft caramel with a cocoa crème filling.

    They join Werther’s other dual-flavor caramels, including Caramel Apple and Coffee Caramel.

    We love soft caramels. Aside from the pricey ones from artisan chocolatiers, Werther’s is our favorite everyday brand.

    Another thing we love about the brand is the sugar-free options.

    The line includes hard, chewy, soft and filled caramels, as well as the sugar-free caramels in seven flavors (the chewy sugar-free caramels and chocolate caramels are a must-try) and caramel popcorn.

    As they say at the company, they’re a treat that’s truly “werth it.”

    For more information visit Werther’s Original USA.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Piperade & Espelette Pepper

    Pipérade (French) or piperrada (Spanish) is a French Basque dish made from green bell pepper, garlic, onion and tomato, sautéd together and seasoned with red espelette pepper.

    The word derives from piper, the Basque word for pepper. The colors—red, white and green—are those of the Basque flag (said to be a coincidence).

    Basque Country straddles the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast, Pyrénées-Atlantiques north and south of the Pyrenees Mountains.

    The area has a rich culinary heritage, including some 40 Michelin-starred restaurants and a sheep cheese, Ossau-Iraty, named best cheese in the world at the World Cheese Championships in 2011.

    Pipérade is a dish from the Northern Basque Country (French Basque Country), which lies entirely within France and known as Pays Basque Français in French.

    Pipérade is related to the Provençal ratatouille, which adds zucchini and eggplant to the mix. Both are colorful and versatile dishes that can be enjoyed any time of the day (and are a delicious way to add to your daily vegetable servings).

    WAYS TO SERVE PIPERADE

    While many of these applications may not be traditional Basque, they show the flexibility of piperade.
     
    Pipérade At Breakfast

  • With eggs, any style
  • Atop polenta, with or without a fried egg
  • With cheese grits or other porridge (cream of wheat, cream of rice)
  • A Basque version of shakshsouka
  • On toast
  •  
    Pipérade At Lunch

  • On a burger
  • On a sandwich: grilled cheese, turkey, ham
  • On pizza
  • As a vegetable sandwich (instead of grilled vegetables), with or without mozzarella or other cheese
  • As a vegetable plate, with rice or other grain
  •  
    Pipérade At Dinner

  • As an appetizer, on crostini or bruschetta
  • As an appetizer, in tartlet shells
  • As a side, alone or with grains or potatoes
  • Atop grilled, roasted or sautéed chicken*, fish or pork
  •  
    ________________
    *In French Basque cuisine, piment d’espelette with ham is often served over braised chicken.
    ________________

     
    RECIPE: PIPERADE

    When bell peppers are on sale, we load up and make a batch of pipérade (it can be frozen). We’re flexible on the color of the bell peppers (in fact, we prefer a mix of colors ).

    While waiting for summer tomatoes (and after they’re gone), we use whole canned San Marzano† tomatoes instead of the bland plum tomatoes in the market. Drain them, but save the juice and drink it, plain or with a splash of gin.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Chef Aida Mollenkamp. She peels the tomatoes. We’re lazy and often skip this step (and usually use use the peeled, canned San Marzano tomatoes, anyway).

       

    Chicken With Piperade

    Piperade Poached Eggs

    Piperade Crostini

    Sirloin With Piperade

    [1] Pipérade crostini (here’s the recipe from The New York Times, and another recipe for piperade with Arctic char). [2] Eggs poached in pipérade, shakshouka-style (here’s the recipe from Au Petit Gout). [3] Chicken with pipérade, a basque classic (here’s the recipe Williams-Sonoma). [4] Sirloin with pipérade and arugula pesto (photo from Sun Basket meal delivery service).

     

     

    Fresh Espelette Pepper

    Ground Espelette Pepper

    [5] Fresh espelette peppers in the marketplace (photo courtesy Lurrak). [6] Ground espelette pepper, used in recipes (photo courtesy La Maison du Piment).

     

    Ingredients

  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced Bayonne ham, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium dried bay leaf
  • 2 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cleaned and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, cleaned and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons piment d’espelette
  • Optional: Bayonne‡ ham or substitute (2)
  • ________________

    †The San Marzano is an heirloom variety of plum tomato, originally planted in the town of the same name at the base of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples. The volcanic soil and sunny climate grow tomatoes that are among the most sought-after on earth, with remarkable, sweet, intense tomato flavor. The canned variety are also delicious.

    ‡Bayonne ham is a cured ham from the French Basque country. If you can’t find it, substitute prosciutto or other ham.
    ________________

    Preparation

    1. PEEL the fresh tomatoes. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice water bath by filling a medium bowl halfway with ice and water. Using the tip of a knife, remove the stem and cut a shallow X-shape into the bottom of each tomato. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch until the skin just starts to pucker and loosen, about 10 seconds. Drain and immediately immerse the tomatoes in the ice water bath. Using a small knife, peel the loosened skin and cut each tomato in half. With a small spoon, scrape out any seeds, then core and coarsely chop the remaining flesh. Set aside.

     
    2. PLACE a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a tigh-fitting lid over medium heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ham to a plate and set aside.

    3. RETURN the pan to the heat, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, and, once heated, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring a few times, until soft and beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Stir in the herbs and bell pepper slices and season well with salt. Cover and cook, stirring a few times, until the peppers are slightly softened, about 10 minutes.

    4. STIR in the diced tomatoes, browned ham, and piment d’Espelette, and season with salt to taste. Cook uncovered until the mixture melds and the juices have slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and serve.
     
    THE ESPELETTE PEPPER

    The espelette pepper, called piment d’espelette in French and ezpeletako biperra in Basque, is a variety of species Capsicum annuum that is cultivated in the French commune of Espelette in the Northern Basque Country (Pays Basque Français).

    Chiles, which are native to Central and South America, were brought to France in the 16th century. It is believed that the chiles were introduced into the Basque Nive Valley in 1523 by Gonzalo Percaztegi, a navigator who voyaged with Christopher Columbus (who brought chiles to Spain in 1494). It became popular as a condiment and is now a staple of Basque cuisine, where it has gradually replaced black pepper.

    This pepper has only a maximum of 4,000 SHUs on the Scoville Scale and is therefore considered only mildly hot—at the level of cayenne and Louisiana hot sauce.

    Espelette pepper can be purchased as fresh or dried whole peppers (photo #5), as ground pepper (photo #6), as purée in jars or pickled in jars. For fresh espelette, look for non-AOC espelette peppers grown in California.

    Growing in French soil, its unique qualities have earned it AOC and APO classifications. An annual pepper festival organized by Confrérie du Piment d’Espelette, held the last weekend in October since 1968, attracts some 20,000 tourists [source].

    If you can’t find it, substitute hot paprika or cayenne.

    See the different types of chiles in our Chile Glossary.

      

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