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TIP OF THE DAY: Rice Paper For Fun Food & Serious Food

Shrimp Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

rice-paper-wrappers-c-denzelGreen-cooksinfo-230

Rice Paper For Spring Rolls

Top: Vietnamese Summer rolls with shrimp (here’s the recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Second: Vietnamese Spring Rolls with added fruit (photo California Strawberry Commission). Third: Rice paper wrappers (photo © Denzel Green | CooksInfo.com). Bottom: Traditional packaging (photo Three Ladies Brand).

 

ABOUT RICE PAPER

Rice paper is a name for everything different products, including edible paper and decorative papers, including wallpaper. The edible kind, made from rice flour, is the white, translucent wrapper used for Vietnamese spring and summer rolls, chilled and raw or fried and hot. They can be used to wrap savory or sweet ingredients—or a combination.

Here’s more about rice paper from CooksInfo.com.

Beyond traditional spring and summer rolls rolls (here’s the difference between spring rolls and summer rolls), you can make lots of fusion food. Some of the uses we’ve tried:

  • Asian ravioli (i.e., dumplings) with an Asian sauce or an Italian sauce (pesto or olive oil).
  • Baked salmon in “parchment” (the rice paper becomes “edible parchment”—recipe).
  • Gluten-free lasagna.
  • “Leftovers” rolls: proteins, noodles/pasta, salmon usually) and soba noodles, raw or cooked vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, etc.
  • Salad rolls/crudité rolls, with your favorite raw veggies.
  • Wrap “sandwiches”: curried chicken salad, smoked salmon, tuna salad, BLT (bacon, butter lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes).
  •  
    Some supermarkets carry rice paper in the Asian products aisle; or get them from an Asian grocer or online. They may be called spring roll wrappers or spring roll skins.

     
    RECIPE: DIY SPRING ROLLS

    This is a fun dish made by each person at the table, like Moo Shoo Pork. We first had it at a Vietnamese restaurant in Paris in our late teens, and it was love at first bite: grilled beef and fresh mint wrapped in butter lettuce leaves with condiments.

    We’ve since added rice paper for do-it-yourself spring rolls. You can make them vegetarian or add a grilled protein of choice.

    Set the table with ingredients of choice. You can use them all (we do) or make a selection of five or so.

  • Basil or cilantro, freshly minced or shredded
  • Butter lettuce leaves
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Chiles, thinly sliced
  • Chopped peanuts
  • Cucumber, julienned
  • Fresh fruit: mango, blueberries, strawberries, apple
  • Fresh mint sprigs (substitute basil leaves)
  • Daikon, shredded
  • Green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • Protein: grilled beef or tuna slices, shrimp, crab, etc.
  • Red cabbage, shredded or made into slaw with Asian vinaigrette*
  • Rice noodle vermicelli, cooked
  • Rice paper wrappers with bowls of warm water
  • Optional: Asian chili sauce, sambal olek†, watercress or baby arugula, whatever appeals to you
  •  
    Plus

  • Dipping sauce: choose from Nuoc Mam Cham (recipe below), peanut sauce, chimichurri sauce (especially with grilled proteins), Asian-style vinaigrette†, or other sauce of choice.
  •  
    __________________
    *Asian vinaigrette: For 1/2 cup, combine 2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 cup olive oil or other salad oil, 1/2 teaspoon dark/toasted sesame oil, 1/2 small garlic clove finely grated. You can also add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and/or grated lime zest.

    †You can make your own sambal olek simply by grinding chiles with water to form a paste. We used a mortar and pestle.

     

    RECIPE: NUOC MAM CHAM, VIETNAMESE DIPPING SAUCE

    Nuoc cham is Vietnamese for “dipping sauce.” Nuoc mam cham is specifically a fish sauce-based dipping sauce.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bird’s eye chile†, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  •  
    _______________________
    †Bird’s eye is a very hot chile, 100,000 ~ 225,000 Scoville Heat Units. You can substitute the less hot jalapeño or serrano—pick the smallest ones. (See the different types of chiles.)

     
    RECIPE #2: HUMMUS & CRUDITÉS “CLOCK”

    Whether you have kids or a sense of whimsy, this Hummus and Crudités “Clock” is a fun and good-for-you snack (photo above).

    We adapted the idea from a photo on the Tio Gazpacho Facebook page, and created the face of the clock from hummus.
     
    Ingredients

  • Rice paper sheets
  • Hummus (flavor of choice)
  • Cucumbers, sliced
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Scallion tops
  • Optional garnish: minced parsley
  •  

    Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
    Crudites

    Top: Nuoc mam cham sauce (photo and recipe variation from GastronomyBlog.com). Bottom: Hummus “clock” on rice paper (photo Tio Gazpacho | Facebook).

     
    Preparation

    1. SOFTEN the rice papers according to package directions. Spread with hummus and place on a plate. (It’s difficult to make a perfectly round clock face, so the we use the rice paper for a clean look).

    2. ADD the crudités as shown in the photo to make the face of the clock.

    3. SPRINKLE the the rest of the plate with minced parsley if you need to “fill out the plate.”

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Avocado Toast

    Avocado Toast

    Cherry & Grape Tomatoes

    Mini Cucumbers

    Top: Fully Loaded Avocado Toast. Center: A medley of cherry and grape tomatoes. Bottom: Mini cucumbers. Photos courtesy Sunset Produce.

     

    Over the last few years, Avocado Toast has been spreading from casual dining spots to coffee bars. The concept started as part of the trend to eat more nutritiously (avocado nutrition). It falls in the “nutritious and delicious” category.

    We first saw Avocado Toast in the form of seasoned, chunky mashed avocado on whole grain toast—perhaps garnished with sprouts or halved cherry tomatoes. As its popularity grew, so did the creativity.

    Today’s tip is: Design your ideal Avocado Toast recipe. Ours includes capers, fresh basil, pimento, sweet onion, tomato or sundried tomato, and a balsamic drizzle on crusty country loaf toast. Sometimes we add slices of hard-boiled egg.

    Avocado toast can be served for breakfast or snacks, or as smaller hors d’oeuvre (crostini).

    Here are two more takes on Avocado Toast:

    RECIPE #1: LOADED AVOCADO TOAST Loaded Avocado Toast OR CROSTINI

    This recipe, from Chef Roger Mooking for Sunset Produce, uses the brand’s mini cucumbers and Wild Wonders mix of cherry and grape tomatoes in red and orange. Prep time is 15 minutes.

     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed, thinly sliced shallots (substitute sweet onion)
  • 2 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 2 cup halved cherry and/or grape tomatoes
  • 4 slices bread
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse-cracked black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse or flake sea salt (the different types of sea salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds (we ground whole seeds in a mortar with a pestle)
  • 1/2 cup quality extra virgin olive oil (we used basil-infused olive oil)
  • Preparation

    1. SEPARATE the shallot slices into individual rings. Submerge them in a bowl of cold water and let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and discard the water.

    2. TOAST the bread lightly, place a slice on each plate and spread 2 tablespoons of avocado on each slice. Top the avocado with a pinch of smoked paprika.

    3. DIVIDE the tomatoes, then the cucumbers, on top of the avocado. Sprinkle with a pinch each of cracked black pepper (you can crush peppercorns in the mortar, too), lemon zest, sea salt and ground fennel seed. Place the shallot slices on top or to the side.

    4. DRIZZLE 1 teaspoon of olive oil on top of each slice to finish. Serve immediately.

     

    RECIPE #2: AVOCADO-MISO TOAST

    Miso may seem an unusual pairing with avocado, but the flavors are very complementary. This recipe from Quinciple features an unusual ingredient: hozon, a proprietary miso-style spread made by David Chang’s Kaizen Trading Company.

    Hozon isn’t yet available to consumers outside of Quinciple’s meal delivery service, but you can substitute regular miso. The difference is that traditional miso is made from fermented soybeans, and hozon is made from fermented legumes, nuts and seeds.

    You can easily whip up miso compound butter or hozon compound butter (recipe below). It gives umami flavor and savory contrast to the avocado toast.

    Ingredients For 2 Slices

  • 2 slices rustic bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower hozon or traditional (recipe below)
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and peeled
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • Flake sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST the bread until golden and crisp. If using hozon…

    2. WHISK together the butter and hozon in a small bowl, until combined. Otherwise, coat each piece of toast generously with miso compound butter (recipe below).

    3. SLICE each avocado half as shown in the photo, and press down gently to fan out the slices.

    4. ARRANGE each fanned avocado half atop a piece of toast. Garnish with scallions, sesame seeds and salt.

     

    Avocado Toast

    Miso Butter

    Top: Avocado Toast with hozon butter, an alternative to soybean miso paste. Photo courtesy Quinciple. Bottom: Miso butter, a compound butter. Photo courtesy MomofukuFor2.com.

     
    RECIPE: MISO BUTTER, A COMPOUND BUTTER

    Compound butter is classic French ingredient: a blend of unsalted butter with another flavor ingredient that complements the particular recipe. It can be anything from blue cheese to nuts, herbs, spices and citrus. Here’s more about compound butter.

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste (any type—see the different types of miso)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Optional minced seasonings: chives or green onions, garlic, ginger; citrus zest; red pepper flakes.
     
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the butter, miso and pepper with a small whisk or a fork.

    2. BUTTER the bread; roll the remainder into a log shape in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. You can cut off slices to garnish chicken, fish or steak (lots of umami); vegetables; potatoes or rice.
     
    AVOCADO FUN FACTS

  • The avocado is a tree that is native to south central Mexico. Botanically, the fruit is a large berry containing a single seed (the pit).
  • Avocados have been cultivated in Central America for some 7,000 years, although they didn’t arrive in the U.S. until in 1833 in Florida. They were planted in California in 1856. Today California is the largest producer of avocados in the U.S., followed by Florida and Hawaii.
  • Although we only see a handful in supermarkets, there are more than 80 varieties of avocado. The most popular is the Hass avocado.
  • Americans eat an average of 4.5 pounds of avocado per year. About 50 million pounds of avocados are consumed in the U.S. on Super Bowl Sunday.
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Easter Popcorn Recipe

    For an Easter weekend snack, how about some “Easter” popcorn?

    Just combine plain popcorn with an Easter-theme confection: pastel sprinkles, mini pastel jelly beans or baking chips. We use pastel mint chips from Guittard, but a trip to the nearest candy store will yield other choices.

    You can go one step further and make white chocolate popcorn bark with an Easter candy garnish. Because the candies adhere to the chocolate, you can use pastel M&Ms and other heavier confections (without the chocolate they’ll sink to the bottom of the bowl). This recipe is from Popcorn.org.

     
    RECIPE: WHITE CHOCOLATE POPCORN BARK

    Ingredients For 1 Pound (Twelve 3-Inch Squares)

  • 5 cups popped popcorn (purchased or home-popped)
  • 12 ounces white chocolate baking chips, chopped white chocolate or white candy coating*
  • 1 cup pastel candy (less for sprinkles)
  •  
    ________________________________
    *We use Guittard white chocolate chips or chop Green & Black’s or Lindt white chocolate bars. We avoid white candy coating because it substitutes vegetable oil for the cocoa butter in real chocolate (and that’s the reason many people dislike “white chocolate,” as they’re actually eating white candy coating).

     

    popcorn-rainbow-sprinkles-urbanaccents-230

    Easter popcorn. This batch is made with white chocolate and pastel sprinkles. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     
    Preparation

    1. COVER a baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside. Place the popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.

    2. MELT the chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. When the chocolate is melted, stir in the candy.

    3. POUR the chocolate mixture over the popcorn and stir to coat. Spread the popcorn onto the prepared pan and allow to cool completely. When chocolate is cooled and set…

    4. BREAK into chunks for serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easter Candy Apples

    M&Ms Caramel Apple

    Easter Chick Chocolate Apple

    Easter Candy Apples

    TOP: Roll a caramel apple in M&Ms (photo Amy’s Apples). Center: Turn the apple into a chick with yellow sprinkles (photo Amy’s Apples). Bottom: You can make a hard candy coating like the red Halloween apples, switching the red food color for pastels. Photo courtesy Rose Bakes.

     

    Candy apples have a strong association with Halloween. But the treat, which adds a good-for-you apple to the candy components, can be embellished for any occasion.

    It’s the first full day of spring and a week from Easter, so what are you waiting for?

    Join confectioners across the nation who make seasonal apples, typically caramel or caramel coated with chocolate. White chocolate can be used as is or tinted in Easter and spring colors.

    You can also use a milk or dark chocolate coat, but some decorations look better against white. However, if you’re totally covering the apple with coconut or M&Ms, the color of chocolate underneath doesn’t matter matter.

    You can also make a hard candy apple coating like the red Halloween apples, but with pastel spring colors instead of red. Here’s how.

    You can use any candy apple, caramel apple or chocolate apple recipe.

    The apples of choice are sweet-tart varieties: Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith.

    If you’re using chocolate, you can melt baking chips; but if your palate is sensitive to the difference, spring for Lindt bars or other well-priced “premium” brands.
     
    WHERE TO BEGIN

    Click the links to take a look at different approaches to decorating Easter apples. Most are very easy to make; adding bunny ears does take some technique.

    Popular decorations include:

  • Colored chocolate shavings or baking chips.
  • Himalayan pink sea salt. For a sweet and salty apple you can use 100% pink sea salt or blended with pink sparkling sugar), lavender sparkling sugar, etc.
  • Mini candy Easter eggs or jelly beans, placed around the stick end of the apple. First add with other decorations like sprinkles or green tinted coconut.
  • Pastel candy pearls.
  • Pastel sprinkles and confetti. Wilton has a nice Easter mix.
  • Pink or mixed color sparkling sugar (a.k.a. decorator sugar and sanding sugar).
  • Something exotic, like pink bunny sprinkles, or an actual marshmallow Peep sitting atop the decorated apple (the stick is pushed through it).
  •  
    CANDY APPLES HISTORY

    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) probably date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century. Inexpensive toffee and caramels became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence confirms soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner.

     
    Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born. The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.

    Later, coatings evolved to include caramel and chocolate, along with candy decorations ranging from simple to elaborate.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Boulder Canyon Potato Chips With Healthier Oils

    March 14th was National Potato Chip Day, a good time to focus on what’s new in chips. We spent the day tasting Boulder Canyon chips fried in 100% better-for-you oils: avocado oil, coconut oil and olive oil:

  • Avocado Oil Chips: Canyon Cut, Jalapeno, Malt Vinegar & Sea Salt, Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper
  • Coconut Oil Chips: Kettle Chips, Sea Salt
  • Olive Oil Chips: Canyon Cut,
  •  
    They are variously made in standard cut kettle chips or “Canyon Cut,” with ridges. The potato chips are thicker (less breakage), very crisp, much less greasy and lower in sodium. We couldn’t stop crunching away.

    Find a retailer near you.

     
    ABOUT THE OILS

    Mass-market brands use different oils to fry their chips: canola, corn, cottonseed, sunflower or soybean oil, depending on price and availability. These are O.K., but are not better-for-you oils.

  • If you care about genetically modified foods, be aware that canola, corn, cottonseed and soybean oils are often made from them.
  • Sunflower oil is rich in vitamin E antioxidants, but it’s also high in inflammatory compounds.
  •  
    On the other hand, avocado, coconut and olive oils are among the healthiest oils you can use.

    Yes, some of Boulder Canyon’s other chips use sunflower and/or safflower oil, but the new specialty oil chips are for consumers who care about the difference.

    The entire Boulder Canyon line is:

  • Certified gluten free
  • Non GMO
  • No MSG
  • No Trans Fat
  • Certified Kosher (by OK)
  • No Cholesterol
  • Low Sodium
  • Vegan
  •  

    Boulder Canyon Olive Oil Chips

    Boulder Canyon Coconut Oil Chips

    Olive oil and coconut oil, two of the three better for you oils used by Boulder Canyon potato chips. Photos courtesy Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods.

     

    ABOUT BOULDER CANYON FOODS

    Since its inception in 1994, Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods has focused on premium snacks sold through the natural foods channel, where consumers were looking healthier alternatives to traditional snacks.

    The ingredients are top quality, non-GMO and minimally processed. The chips are cooked in small batches, in kettles instead of mammoth factory vats.

    A good community citizen, the company offsets 100% of its energy usage with Renewable Energy Credits. The purchase prevents as many as 3,421,989 pounds of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere annually.

    The company also participates in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, with a certification audit that the corrugated cardboard packaging used to transport and store products meets the standards of the Initiative.

    Here’s more about Boulder Canyon Foods.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Lucky Charms Pudding Parfait

    Lucky Charms Parfait

    Lucky Charms Parfait for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.

     

    We love this idea from Elegant Affairs Caterers: a St. Patrick’s Day dessert or snack with Lucky Charms!

    Just use a green filling layer: pistachio Jell-O pudding, vanilla pudding or whipped cream tinted green, mint chip ice cream, etc.

    RECIPE: LUCKY CHARMS PARFAIT FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY

    Ingredients

  • Cake layer: brownie or chocolate cake cubes, crushed chocolate cookies or non-chocolate alternative
  • Filling layer: green pudding, whipped cream, ice cream
  • Optional: chocolate sauce or other dessert sauce
  • Garnish: Lucky Charms cereal
  • Optional garnish: gold foil chocolate coins
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the optional chocolate coin at the bottom of a sundae or parfait dish. You can use any other glass vessel, from a mug to a goblet wine glass.

    2. ALTERNATE layers of cake, filling and optional dessert sauce.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

     
    This is not just kid stuff. Adults will love it, too: It’s magically delicious!

     
      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Curate Snack Bars

    America doesn’t need another “good for you” snack bar. The $6.2 billion U.S. snack market is plenty crowded as it is. The Curate brand’s research turned up more than 1,000 varieties of snack bars.

    But when you taste Curate, you’ll be delighted that management decided to enter the premium snack bar market.

    The brand took a chef’s approach to developing recipes, testing combinations of ingredients that are both nutrient-dense and luscious, with a bonus of eye appeal.

    All-natural, gluten free, non-GMO, soy free and lightly sweetened, the bars contain 4 to 7 grams of protein and are a good source of plant-based fiber.

    Each bar comprises some six ingredients including quinoa supergrain, omega 3-packed seeds, a fruit and a nut. They’re non-GMO and gluten-free.

    Each of the first six flavors out of the gate is equally tempting, depending on whether your temptation is chocolate or a fruit profile:

  • Dark & Tempting Balsamic Fig & Hazelnut: balsamic vinegar, hazelnuts, Mission figs, orange zest, quinoa, sunflower kernels
  • Harmonious Blend Marcona Almond & Apricot: apricot, balsamic vinegar, honey, lemon, Marcona almonds, quinoa
  • Indulgent Dark Chocolate & Hazelnuts: almond butter, dark chocolate, hazelnuts, quinoa, sea salt, vanilla
  • Irresistible Dark Chocolate Strawberries & Pistachios: almond butter, dark chocolate, pistachios, quinoa, strawberries, toasted oats
  • Salted Decadence Dark Chocolate & Almonds: almond butter, dark chocolate, hemp, Marcona almonds, quinoa, sea salt
  • Sweet & Tart Berry Bliss: almonds, blackberries, blueberries, chia, cranberries, flaxseed, quinoa, raspberries
  •  
    The line is certified kosher by OU.

    More products are in the works, including bars designed for kids, with plans to extend the offerings with other better-for-you snacks.
     
    You can buy the bars at retail (here’s the store locator) or online on Amazon.com, Soap.com and Target.com.

     
    WHO MAKES CURATE SNACK BARS

    Curate bars are made by Abbott Laboratories, a $20+ billion global company that makes healthcare products as well as nutritional products: from Glucerna, PediaSure and Similac to as Zone Nutrition Bars and EAS Sports Nutrition.

    The company decided to further its nutrition heritage with a consumer snack brand. A new division, Curate Snacks, was born.

    As big as the snack category is, the company feels that the opportunity for delicious, nutritious snacks has “tremendous” potential.

    Take a bite, and you’ll discover why.

    Learn more at CurateSnacks.com.

     

    Curate Dark & Tempting Bar

    Curate Indulgent Bar

    Curate Irresistible Bar

    Curate bars in three of the six flavors: Dark & Tempting Bar, Indulgent Bar and Irresistible Bar. Photos courtesy Curate Snacks.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Green Candy Apples

    Green Chocolate Apple

    For St. Patrick’s Day, make chocolate-covered apples with green-tinted white chocolate. Photo courtesy Aiya Matcha.

     

    We received a recipe from Aiya Matcha, for Matcha White Chocolate Candy Apples. The matcha tea powder colors the chocolate green. Voilà: a snack for St. Patrick’s Day.

    We whipped up a batch. Matcha imparts a sophisticated flavor to the chocolate, but not all tasters were fans of green tea. For them, we went to Plan B, using green food color instead of matcha. Depending on how many drops of food color you use, you can get a much deeper green hue.

    Whichever you prefer,
     
    RECIPE: GREEN CHOCOLATE APPLES

    Ingredients For 6 Apples

  • 6 small granny smith apples
  • 6-8 ounces white chocolate chips (we use Guittard)
  • 1 teaspoon matcha tea or green food color
  • Choice of garnishes: chopped nuts, coconut, mini chips, sprinkles, or the St. Patrick’s garnishes below
  • Ice pop sticks or substitute (check out these bright green sticks)
  •  
    St. Patrick’s Day Theme Garnishes

  • Green Sanding Sugar
  • Green Sprinkles
  • Shamrock sprinkles
  • St. Patrick’s Nonpareils
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems and wash the apples. Pierce the sticks into the stem end.

    2. PLACE 6-8 ounces (about ½ bag) of white chocolate chips into a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, then microwave for 30 more seconds. If the chocolate chips are not yet melted, microwave in 10 second intervals, stirring in-between.

    3. SIFT the matcha over the melted chocolate, or add green food color drop by drop to the desired hue. Stir with a spoon until blended.

    4. DIP and coat the apples with white chocolate mixture (it may be helpful to use a spatula to smooth the chocolate mixture over the apple). Roll or dip the bottom third of the apple in the garnish. Place onto parchment or wax paper to dry.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Farinata, Chickpea Pancake Snacks

    Like pizza but not the gluten? Try farinata.

    Called by different names around the world, farinata is a thin, unleavened pancake or crêpe made of chickpea flour. Originating in Genoa, it become a popular food on the Ligurian coast, from Nice to Pisa.

    It’s not like a conventional, airy European pancake. Without leavening, it’s dense, and enjoyed not for breakfast but as a snack food, served hot.

    It is baked in bakeries and pizzerias on tinned copper pans the size of a large pizza pan. Triangular slices are sold and enjoyed as handheld snack, like a slice of pizza. They typically have a light seasoning or pepper and herbs. That’s tasty (think of plain foccaccia); but you Americanize yours with different toppings.
     
    TRADITIONAL COOKING METHOD

    Farinata is made by stirring chickpea flour into a mixture of water and olive oil to form a loose batter. At bakeries and pizzerias, the batter is baked in a wood-burning oven in a tin-plated baking pan. In its simplest form, farinata is seasoned with fresh rosemary, salt and pepper.

    You can make farinata in your kitchen oven with skillets, as noted in the recipe below. We didn’t try it with a pizza pan, but we may do that next.
     
    REGIONAL VARIATIONS

    Variations of chickpea pancakes are found the world over. Some examples sourced from Wikipedia:

  • Algeria: Karantita are garnished with cumin and harissa.
  • Argentina and Uruguay: Fainá is often eaten on top of pizza (known as a caballo, on horseback).
  •    

    Pine Nuts & Pepper Farinata

    Zucchini Farinata

    Top: with plenty of pepper, plus pine nuts and red onion at Vegan Lifestyle Associates. Bottom: Topped with zucchini and cut into wedges at AskGeorge.com. In the U.S., chickpea flour (garbanzo flour) is sold in many supermarkets and natural food stores, as well as in Indian and Middle Eastern markets.

  • Genoa: The birthplace of farinata goes for fainâ co i gianchetti, farinata with whitebait. Alternative toppings are onions or artichokes. Fainâ is local dialect. A variation is panissa/paniscia, a thicker batter like polenta. When cut into strips and fried, it is called called panissette.
  • Gibraltar: The pancake is called calentita when baked and panissa when fried. Considered Gibraltar’s national dishes, they are typically eaten without toppings.
  • India: The name varies by region based on the local word for chickpea. The batter of chickpea flour and water is cooked on an oiled skillet. Cabbage, green chiles, onions are added, along with different and herbs and spices.
  • Nice: Socca is a specialty in southeastern France. It is topped generously with black pepper.
  • Sardinia: La fainé genovese reflects the island’s historical ties with Genoa.
  • Savona: This seaport town near Genoa prefeers farinata bianca (white farinata), made with wheat flour instead of chickpea flour.
  • Tuscany: Cecina (“made of chickpeas”) or torta di ceci (chickpea pie) is baked and served plain.
  • Pisa and Livorno: The pancake is stuffed into small focaccia or between two slices of bread (similar to the Argentinian “en caballo”).
  •  

    Pizza Oven Farinata

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/farinata puttanesca blossomNY 230sq

    Top: Farinata fresh from the pizza oven, from OnMilwaukee.com. Bottom: Turned into a puttanesca “crepe” at Blossom Restaurant | NYC. We found it easier to eat with the filling on top!

      RECIPE: FARINATA, CHICKPEA SNACK PANCAKES

    Here’s a recipe from Food and Wine for a lightly seasoned farinata. To turn the snack into lunch, top it like a mini pizza. We quickly steamed mushrooms, red onions and zucchini in the microwave with diced San Marzano tomatoes and baked it on top of the pancake, like pizza.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, passive time is 2 hours, baking time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 3 cups (15 ounces) chickpea flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the water into a bowl. Whisk in the chickpea flour slowly, until you have a smooth batter. Let the batter stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 500°F. Skim any foam off the top of the batter. Stir in the salt, rosemary and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. (Note that using a different oil, such as canola, gives the pancake a notably different taste.)

     
    3. HEAT two 10-inch cast-iron skillets in the oven for 10 minutes. Carefully add 2 tablespoons of the oil to each skillet, swirling to coat. Divide the batter between the skillets; it should be less than 1/2 inch thick.

    4. BAKE for 25 to 30 minutes, until crisp around the edges. Slide the farinata onto a board; cut into wedges. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.
     
    MORE RECIPES

  • Farinata With Sage, Olives & Onion
  • Sage Farinata With A Side Of Olives & Feta
  •   

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    RECIPES: It’s Cherry Time!

    Fresh cherry season begins in May; but today is George Washington’s Birthday, a traditional occasion for cherry pie and other cherry recipes.

    We started the day with a Cherry Yogurt Parfait. Chobani, Dannon and Yoplait, among others, sell cherry-flavored yogurt; but one can easily make a more festive yogurt parfait. And we did! We prefer our parfait to a cup of cherry yogurt.

    RECIPE: SUPER-EASY CHERRY YOGURT PARFAIT

    Ingredients

  • Yogurt brand of choice, in plain or vanilla; if you can find cherry yogurt, great
  • Cherries: fresh in season, frozen in the off-season
  • Optional: dried cherries (alone or in combination)
  •  
    What about canned or jarred cherries or cherry pie filling?

    You can mix cherries in water or light syrup into plain yogurt, but sweet, gloppy pie filling is over the top.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the yogurt and cherries in a mixing bowl, in your preferred proportions. Reserve a few cherries as a topping for the parfait. Stir to combine.

    2. SCOOP into a dessert dish, parfait dish, Martini glass or other festive vessel. Garnish with the reserved cherries and serve.
     
    HOW TO ENJOY YOUR CHERRY YOGURT PARFAIT

  • In the “normal” way—as a yogurt parfait.
  • Atop dry cereal (we eliminate the milk, and enjoy the cereal at its crunchy best).
  • As a topping for pancakes or waffles.
  • As a garnish for fruit salad.
  • Spooned over pound cake or angel food cake.
  • Atop frozen yogurt.
  •  
    DON’T WANT CHERRY YOGURT?

    Pick up some Welch’s Fruit & Yogurt Snacks in the new Cherry flavor.

     

    Cherry Yogurt Parfait

    Welch's Fruit 'n Yogurt - Cherry

    Top: Make a Cherry Yogurt Parfait like this one from ChooseCherries.com. Bottom: Want something that’s grab-and-go? Have fun with these yogurt-covered cherry snacks from Welch’s.

     
    Small, round and chewy, they are, alas, addictive. There’s more information on the Welch’s Fruit Snacks website.

      

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