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Archive for Snacks

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Homemade Pork Rinds

Homemade Pork Rinds

Pork Rind Garnish

Pork Cracklings

Top: Don’t these homemade pork rinds look so much better than store-bought? Photo and recipe courtesy PaleoLeap.com. Center: Pork rinds are also a delicious garnish for soups and salads. Photo courtesy Culinary Vegetable Institute. Bottom: Pork cracklings are made from the skin and fat; pork rinds are the skin (rind) only. Photo courtesy Padaek.com. Check out the recipe.

 

As we think ahead to Father’s Day, we’re mulling over some homemade versions of popular snack foods from potato chips to pork rinds.

Pork Rind Appreciation Day, established by Rudolph Foods (which sells pork rinds), is held on Super Bowl Sunday. But we like the idea of homemade pork rinds and a cold beer on Father’s Day.
 
PORK RINDS VS. PORK CRACKLINGS

Pork rinds (chicharrónes) are made from pork skin, with the attached fat removed.

That’s the difference between pork rinds and pork cracklings. Cracklings (called grattons in Cajun cuisine) include the fat that adheres to the skin. Because of the extra fat, cracklings are greasier, denser and a bit chewy. Pork rinds are airy like cheese puffs, and they dissolve in your mouth.

Here’s an idea: Buy pork belly to make grilled pork belly or pork belly skewers, and turn the skin into pork rinds. You can also buy the skin only from butchers (it’s quite inexpensive).

Be sure to use skin within three days of purchase, as its high moisture content means it can spoil quickly. The finished pork rinds will keep for a long time if cooked long enough for all the fat to be rendered out.

Check out this video.
 
RECIPE: HOMEMADE PORK RINDS

Here’s a recipe for homemade pork rinds from Paleo Leap, which serves it as a crispy Paleo Diet snack with dilled mayonnaise or tartar sauce.

Some pork rinds are deep-fried. Others, like this recipe, are roasted (the difference between roasting and baking).

With homemade pork rinds, you control the salt. You don’t need to use any salt at all; the pork rinds will still be delicious. You can supply a salt shaker for those who must have it.

Or, you can choose another seasoning. Garlic? Pepper? Curry?

Ingredients

  • Pork skin
  • Optional: salt
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper to make clean-up easier.

    2. SLICE the skin into 1″ x 2″ strips—longer if you like—and place the strips on the baking sheet. Roast for 1-1/2 hours, then taste a piece. Many recipes call for 3 hours, but Sébastien Noël of Paleo Leap advises: “…most of the time they’re ready after 1.5 hours. You want them to be crispy but you don’t want them to be hard as a rock.”

    3. REMOVE from the oven and cool until they’re warm to the touch; enjoy them warm.

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    Scrunchions, popular in Newfoundland, are pieces of fried fat (no skin).

     
      

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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
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    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.
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    *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
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    †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.”

      

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    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.
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    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)
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    *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.

      

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    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).
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    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.

     
      

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