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Archive for Spreads/Dips/Salsa

TIP OF THE DAY: Serve A Guacamole Trio

Guacamole Recipes

Chunky Guacamole

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Top: Serve three different guacamole “flavors” at once (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). Center: Chunky guacamole (photo courtesy Calavo Growers). Bottom: Guacamole in cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy FronteraFiesta.com).

 

So many guacamole recipes, so little time!

The solution: Make guacamole trios, three different recipes at a time. Here are some favorites of ours:

  • Bacon Cheddar Guacamole Recipe
  • BLT Guacamole Crostini Recipe and Deconstructed Guacamole Crostini
  • Roasted Corn Guacamole Recipe
  • Sour Cream Guacamole Recipe
  • Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe
  •  
    You can also go for the Do-It-Yourself option: a Guacamole Party Bar. With the mashed avocado, lime juice and salt, provide some of the following:

  • Tomato group: tomato, tomatillo, salsa, sundried tomatoes
  • Onion group: chives, onion, green onion/scallion, pickled onions, red onion, shallots
  • Heat: chili flakes, minced chiles, hot sauce
  • Cheese: blue cheese, cotija, queso fresco, grated cheddar (try jalapeño cheddar) or jack
  • Creamy: crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Fruit: dried fruits, mango, melon, papaya, pomegranate arils, strawberry
  • Herbs: basil, bell pepper, cayenne, cilantro, garlic cloves, mint, parsley, sage, tarragon
  • Vegetables: asparagus, corn, jicama, radish/daikon
  • Wild card: bacon, crab meat, minced pork or ham, olives, toasted nuts
  • Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe
  •  
    And then, there’s Crocamole, a crodadile-shaped presentation for kids.

    Serve a trio of chips, too: perhaps yellow tortilla chips, blue tortilla chips and pita chips.

     
    Also check out this fusion recipes from California Avocado Growers for Cajun Guacamole, French Guacamole, Greek Guacamole, Italian guacamole, Japanese guacamole.

    There are 21 pages of guacamole recipes on the website, including a Cranberry Guacamole recipe for the holidays.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the wild avocado, a tree fruit that had grown in the region for millions of years. Dating back to Mayan times (pre-Aztec), guacamole was made from avocado, onion, chiles, fresh tomato, and salt, a recipe that is still made today.

    The conquering Aztecs called the avocado ahuacatl. The “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language, hence, ah-hwa-CAH-tay. AhuacamOlli (ah-waka-MOLE-ee) is a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

     
    When the Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés arrived in 1519, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they used. In Spanish, ahuacamOlli became guacamole (huac-ah-MOE-lay).

    Guacamole ingredients were mashed in a molcajete (mol-cah-HET-tay), a Mexican pestle carved from volcanic stone (today granite is an easier-to-clean option). Over time, different regions of Mexico mixed in local ingredients, creating countless variations.

    Ahuacatl, avocado, first meant “testicle” in Nahuatl. The Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant.

    According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by any genteel person concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the polite name, “alligator pear.”
     
      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPES: Irish Spuds & Green Dip With Green Beer

    Green Beer & Fries

    Green Food Color

    St. Pat’s snack: wedge fries, green dip and a green beer. You can color any light-hued food green. Photos courtesy McCormick.

     

    For St. Patrick’s Day you’ll be able to buy green-tinted bagels, beer, donuts, and more; but you can also plan to color your own foods.

    Chocolate chip cookies? Mashed potatoes? Milk? Oatmeal? Pancakes? With a bottle of green food color you can have a blast/

    Here are three recipes from McCormick, maker of that green food color, to add to the collection: Irish Spuds With Green Ranch Dip, Green Beer and Leprechaun Lemonade.

    For St. Patrick’s Day fun, color your food green.

    Here, roasted potato wedges and crudites are dipped in a green-tinted ranch dressing and served with green beer or “Leprechaun Lemonade.”

     
    RECIPE: IRISH SPUDS WITH GREEN RANCH DIP

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 pounds russet* baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon dried parsley or other green herb
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup ranch dressing†
  • 1/4 teaspoon green food color (20 to 25 drops)
  • Crudités: 2-3 varieties of raw vegetables
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Cut the potatoes into 3-1/2-inch wedges and place them in a large bowl. Add the oil and toss to coat well.

    2. MIX the chili powder, optional parsley and salt. Sprinkle over the potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

    3. BAKE for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden brown. While the potatoes are baking, slice the crudités.

    4. MIX the ranch dressing and food color in medium bowl until well blended. Serve it as a dip with the potato wedges and crudités.
    _______________________________
    *Idaho is a brand name for russet potatoes grown in Idaho.
    †If you want to make your own dressing, here’s a ranch dressing recipe.

     
    RECIPE: GREEN BEER

    Ingredients Per 12-Ounce Beer

  • 1 can (12 ounces) light-colored beer (Pale Ale, Pilsner or other Pale Lager, Wheat Beer)
  • 5 to 6 drops green food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the food color in a glass. Add the beer and stir gently until evenly tinted.

     

    RECIPE: LEPRECHAUN LEMONADE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups lemonade‡
  • 1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract
  • 15 drops green food color
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients in a pitcher. Pour into ice-filled glasses.
     
    Variations

  • For Strawberry Leprechaun Lemonade, use replace the raspberry extract with strawberry extract.
  • For an adult version, stir in 1/2 cup Limoncello or a clear spirit (cachaça, gin, rum, tequila, vodka); or 1/4 cup of each.
  •  

    Green Lemonade Recipe

    Leprechaun Lemonade can be turned into a cocktail with Limoncello and/or a clear spirit. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    __________________________
    ‡Here’s a recipe for homemade lemonade.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Make Beet Yogurt For Your Valentine

    Beet Yogurt - Samin Nosrat

    pita-wedges-thepioneerwoman-ps

    Top: The secret ingredient is popped
    mustard seeds. Photo courtesy Samin
    Nosrat. Bottom: Serve either recipe with
    homemade pita wedges. Photo courtesy
    The Pioneer Woman
    .

     

    Our supermarkets are filled with cooked, packaged, ready-to-eat beets brought in for Valentine’s Day. While we love fresh-roasted beets, they’re the most time-consuming root vegetables to prepare.

    We got the message. We’re using the pre-cooked beets to make Valentine dips and spreads. If you want to roast your own, we salute you.

    This recipe, by California chef and author Samin Nosrat, is adapted from one published on BonAppetit.com (and further adapted by us). We received it from Good Eggs in San Francisco, an outstanding grocery delivery service.

    Good Eggs recommends it as an addition to a composed salad, a spread for a cheese board or a tangy addition to a sandwich. “Once you start stirring popped mustard seeds into your savory cooking, you’ll never stop,” they assure us.

    RECIPE #1: MASHED BEETS WITH MUSTARD SEEDS

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 pound red beets (you can use other colors for other occasions)
  • Salt
  • Cooking oil of choice
  • 1 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 lemon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT a small pan over medium heat for a minute. Pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the mustard seeds. Swirl the pan until the mustard seeds begin to pop, cover the pan so the seeds don’t escape, and reduce the heat to low. After about 30 seconds, you’ll hear the popping slow down.

     

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat and let the seeds cool, uncovered, for a minute or two. Cut the beets into large chunks and place them in the bowl of a food processor, along with the garlic. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. You can use a potato masher if you prefer it to a food processor: The mashed beets will be a much rougher texture (like hand-mashed potatoes) but still fine for all purposes.

    3. ADD the popped mustard seeds, yogurt, a big squeeze of lemon juice, and some salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.

     

    RECIPE #2: BEET YOGURT DIP, SPREAD OR TOPPING

    This is the yogurt to whip up for Valentine’s Day. You can make it with any color of beets, but save the orange and yellow for another occasion and use red beets. You can make the recipe a day in advance.

    Use beet yogurt as a dip, a spread, or as a topping—for baked potatoes, cottage cheese, grains, veggies, sandwiches, etc.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 pound beets (about 3 medium)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (your choice of 0%, 2% or full fat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint plus torn leaves for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon*
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Crudités: cucumber slices, carrots, anything good for scooping
  •  

    Beet Yogurt Recipe

    A very romantic dish of yogurt. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

  • Whole wheat pita, cut into triangles and toasted (recipe below, or substitute pita chips)
  • ____________________
    *If you don’t like the licorice notes in tarragon, substitute basil or chervil.
     

    Preparation

    If you want to roast your own beats, follow the first three steps. Otherwise, skip to Step 4.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F.

    2. SCRUB and trim the beets, but leave the skins on. Place them in a small baking pan or casserole and fill it with 1/2″ hot water. Sprinkle with salt, cover with a piece of parchment paper, and then cover dish tightly with foil.

    3. ROAST the beets until tender, about 1 hour. Remove them from the baking pan and let them cool until they are comfortable to grasp. Then, using a paper towel, rub off the skins.
     
    4. GRATE the beets coarsely with a box grater, Microplane or the grating disc of a food processor. Blend with the yogurt, mint, tarragon, olive oil, and vinegar. Taste and season with salt and vinegar as desired.

    5. COVER and chill the yogurt for 3 hours or overnight for the flavors to meld.
     
    RECIPE: TOASTED PITA WEDGES

    Ingredients

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (optional)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT each pita round into 6 wedges and place them on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt as desired.

    2. BAKE for 5 minutes or until crisp.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Your Own Hummus

    Garnished Hummus

    Hummus With Garnishes

    Hummus Sandwich

    Hummus Flatbread

    Top: Hummus, lightly garnished at Shaya | New Orleans. Second: Hummus with sophisticated garnishing at Shaya. Third: Hummus on a sandwich from EatWellEnjoyLife.com. Bottom: Hummus flatbread with arugula, at The Purple Carrot.

     

    Hummus, a dip and spread made from chickpeas, has been eaten for millennia: Chickpeas and the sesame seeds used to make tahini were among man’s first cultivated crops.

    Hummus has long been served in every Greek and Middle Eastern restaurant in the U.S. But following its endorsement by nutritionists as a healthful snack and better-for-you dip, the once-niche product’s sales have grown dramatically in the U.S., following the trajectory of another food from its neck of the woods, Greek yogurt. Unlike yogurt, hummus is accessible to lactose-intolerant and vegan customers, and is a pareve ingredient for kosher diets.

    Smaller brands like Abraham’s and Yorgo’s have been around for 30 years or more. But Sabra, another modest brand begun 30 years ago, had the good fortune to be purchased by Israeli food giant, Strauss Group, in 2006. Strauss, in turn, sold a 50% interest to Pepsico in 2008.
     
    BEYOND CLASSIC (PLAIN) HUMMUS

    With the best marketing clout of any hummus in the world—from distribution, advertising and promotion to endorsements such as becoming the NFL’s Official Dip [whatever that means]—Sabra had the resources not only to become the top seller in the hummus category, but one of the top healthful snacks and dips in the U.S. It also had the ability to make more consumers seek flavored hummus, an explosive category that is very American.

    Sales of the refrigerated flavored spreads alone, a category dominated by hummus, grew 21% in 2015 to almost $700 million. [Source: IRI]. And oh, the flavors! New ones seem to appear monthly to keep customers interested, often as limited editions which may then become permanent parts of the line.

    Tribe Hummus, our personal favorite, has done an exemplary job of turning hummus into a fun food beyond a plain spread. Consider these flavors:

    Everything (one of our favorites, like an “everything” bagel), Fiery Sriracha, Forty Spices, Garlic, Harvest Carrot, Lemon Rosemary Focaccia, Mediterranean Olive, Mediterranean Style, Spicy Red Pepper, Sweet Roasted Red Peppers, Vine Ripened Tomato & Basil and Zesty Spice & Garlic, among others.

    Tribe’s latest limited edition is Ranch, which provides amazing ranch flavor in what is a dairy-free spread (authentic ranch dressing has a base of buttermilk).

    Other brands have featured beet, cilantro chimichurri, edamame, guacamole, horseradish, kalamata olive, lemongrass chili, pumpkin, sundried tomato, Thai chili and spinach artichoke hummus flavors. The lesson is: If you like a particular flavor, try stirring it into hummus.
     
    IT’S EASY TO MAKE HUMMUS AT HOME

    We can go through an eight-ounce container of hummus in a day. Our friend Jerry teased us, because he has been making hummus in his food processor for 20 years—for a lot less than it costs to buy it.

    We also listened to Steve Sando of RanchoGordo.com, who sells the world’s great heirloom beans and legumes (check out his retail store when you’re in San Francisco or Napa Valley—you’ll buy many pounds’ worth). Canned chickpeas are not even in his vocabulary.

    “You may think I am biased,” says Steve, “but first and foremost, you need to start with good, recent-crop garbanzos. You can use the dusty old bag [of dried chickpeeas] you picked up at the supermarket or you can use ours. They cook quickly, they have a fresh, almost nutty flavor and you don’t need to rinse them the way you must with canned beans.

    “I understand that some people want to soak the beans, others don’t. Some salt up front, some brine, some salt later. Whatever makes you happy and inspires you to make [it] is what works for me—except for one thing: baking soda.

    “Many recipes call for a pinch or more of baking soda to help soften the garbanzos. Only if your beans are old, or if you live in the desert where beans age very quickly, may this be a good idea.”

     
    CANNED VS. DRIED CHICKPEAS

    Canned chickpeas are more convenient to buy and faster to work with. But they are canned in salt and don’t have the same “fresh” flavor as dried chickpeas.

    Dried chickpeas have better flavor and texture, which is especially noticeable in plain (unflavored) hummus.
     
    RECIPE: RANCHO GORDO HOMEMADE HUMMUS

    Fresh garbanzos (chickpeas) make the best-tasting hummus, but if you can’t get them or don’t have the extra time to cook them, default to the best canned brand. Canned chickpeas need to be rinsed to remove the salt solution.

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound fresh garbanzos (chickpeas)
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 tablespoons tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnish: extra virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: smoked Spanish paprika
  • Other garnish (see below)
  • Dippers: crudités, toasted pita, pita chips, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the garbanzos and onion in a large pot, cover by two inches of water and bring to a strong boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, add the bay leaf and cook until tender. Add more water, boiled in a tea kettle, if needed.

    2. DRAIN the garbanzos, reserving a quarter cup for garnishing if you want. Add them to a food processor* with the tahini, lemon, garlic and salt; pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust the tahini, lemon and salt to your liking.

    3. TRANSFER the hummus into a shallow bowl and with a chopstick or other tool, draw a swirl pattern on top. Alternatively, use the back of a large spoon to create a large center indentation (see photos above). Gently drizzle your best extra virgin olive oil over the top, letting it flow as it may. Dust with Spanish paprika and/or other garnishes or dot with the reserved, whole garbanzos. Serve with crudités, toasted pita, pita chips, etc.
     
    *Steve prefers to blend his hummus in a deep bowl using an immersion blender.

     
    HUMMUS GARNISHES

    Use whatever you like, in any combination that you like. In addition to the options below, don’t rule out anything else that appeals to you.

  • Citrus zest
  • Minced herbs of choice (flat parsley is terrific here and mint is a revelation, but follow your taste buds)
  • Olives, sliced
  • Pickled vegetables (including jalapeños and peppadews)
  • Pine nuts or pistachios (also try topping with cooked ground lamb and ground flat-leaf parsley)
  • Sauce: chiles in adobo, yogurt sauce, or other that you’d enjoy combining with hummus)
  • Spices of choice: aleppo pepper, red chili flakes or other hot chile; cumin; paprika
  • Whole cooked garbanzos
  •   

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    RECIPE: Hot Cheese & Bacon Dip

    When the weather gets cooler, the foods get warmer.

    Here’s a flavorful hot fall and winter dip from Kraft. You serve it warm and bubbly, with crudités, crackers, cocktail franks or cut-up regular franks or brats.

    Kraft developed it with their brands: Kraft Real Mayonnaise, Oscar Mayer Brand bacon, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Shredded Three Cheese and Kraft Natural Shredded Three Cheese With Touch Of Philadelphia, which combines Cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack with a touch of cream cheese.

    We grated what we had at home: a combination of Emmental (the real Swiss cheese) and Sharp Cheddar.

    We also added what we think is the perfect hot, tangy complement: prepared horseradish (from a jar, not fresh root). If you want more tang and don’t like horseradish, try Dijon mustard (not Honey Dijon).

    Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.

    RECIPE: HOT CHEESE & BACON DIP

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese, divided
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled, divided
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish or Dijon mustard
  •  
    Plus

  • Dippers: crackers, crudites, hot dogs, etc.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/hot cheese bacon dip kraft 230

    How yummy! Photo courtesy Kraft Foods.

     

    Preparation

    If you have a warming tray, hot plate or other tabletop item with a heat source, get it out to keep the dip warm.

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Reserve 2 tablespoons each of the bacon, cheese and onions for garnish.

    2. MIX the remaining ingredients until blended, and spread onto bottom of 9-inch pie plate sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly around the edges.

    3. GARNISH with the reserved ingredients and serve with the dippers.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Artichoke Dip With Sun-Dried Tomatoes

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/artichoke dip sundried tomatoes mooneyfarms 230

    Artichoke dip with sun-dried tomatoes. Photo courtesy Mooney Farms.

     

    After yesterday’s recipe for spinach and artichoke dip appeared, our friend Rachel emailed to say: “I don’t like spinach. Do you have a recipe for artichoke dip without it?”

    This one’s for you, Rachel: an award-winning recipe courtesy of Mooney Farms. The recipe uses Mooney’s Bella Sun Luci brand of sun-dried tomatoes (a brand we favor).

    RECIPE: SUN-DRIED TOMATO & ARTICHOKE DIP

    Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed or diced
  • 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, diced
  • 6 Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves in Oil, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh basil leaves, diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning*
  • Optional: ¼-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For serving: bagel chips, pita chips or crackers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. In a glass 9-inch pie pan or baking plate, mix the cream cheese, garlic and artichoke hearts. Use a large fork to blend together.

    2. ADD the sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and basil. Stir together until well blended.

    3. FLATTEN the dip with a fork or spatula, so the dip is an even layer in the pan. Sprinkle top with the Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper to taste.

    4. BAKE for 16-18 minutes; the dip should be golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

     
    *You can make your own Italian seasoning by combining equal parts basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Store in an airtight jar.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP: Uses For Artichoke Hearts Beyond Spinach & Artichoke Dip

    If you shop at a club store, you may run across large cans of artichoke hearts or artichoke pieces, nicely priced. There are also occasional sales on regular formats (13.85 ounce cans). Grab them!

    Should you grab marinated or plain? It’s a toss-up. Canned artichokes, packed in water, are more bland out of the can, but fine for dips, soups and other recipes where you don’t want the vinaigrette that comes with marinated artichoke hearts.

    Marinated artichoke hearts are marinated in white vinegar and cheaper oil: soybean, sunflower or lower-quality olive oil. If your palate notices the difference, you’re better off marinating your own, adding salt and spices to taste. They’re best in antipastos, salads and on sandwiches.

    If you score a jumbo size, what should you do with all that artichoke?

    The good news is that artichokes are low in calories: a 14 ounce can has 165 calories. So use them wherever and whenever. Here’s a starter list. A recipe for spinach artichoke dip (with a few calories) is below.

       

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/spinach artichoke thegirlwhoateeverything 230

    The Girl Who Ate Everything uses cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream in her spinach and artichoke dip. Here’s her recipe. See ours ?below.

     
    WAYS TO USE ARTICHOKE

  • Antipasto: Create a platter with marinated artichokes, cheese, pimento (roasted red peppers), salami, olives, etc.
  • Crostini: Combine plain or marinated chopped artichoke hearts with seasoned ricotta (lemon zest, pepper, salt) and spread on grilled or toasted bread. Or, first spread the seasoned ricotta on the bread and top with a whole or sliced artichoke.
  • Fish topping: Do a quick sauté of plain artichoke hearts in olive oil with halved cherry/grape tomatoes, minced garlic and olives. Or, make a more intense sauce with brown butter, capers and sage.
  • Grains: Add plain artichoke hearts to cooked whole grains (barley, couscous, brown rice, quinoa, etc.), either hot or a grain salad. Mix with other ingredients of choice, from raisins to nuts
  • Gratin: Place plain artichoke hearts in a baking dish, with or without other cooked vegetables; top with shredded Gruyère and breadcrumbs, and bake at 400°F until the cheese is melted and the artichokes are warmed through.
  • Omelet: Toss in plain artichokes alone, with other vegetables and/or with cheese (feta, Gruyère, mozzarella, etc.): an easy, fancy side dish.
  • Pasta and risotto: Mix plain artichoke hearts with chopped or whole artichoke hearts and olive oil or sauce of choice.
  • Pizza: top with plain artichoke hearts, optional anchovies, capers, olives, red onion, etc.
  • Salads: Add plain or marinated artichoke hearts to a green salad.
  • Sandwiches: Top the main filling with marinated artichoke hearts.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/can roland artichoke hearts 2301

    Use canned, unmarinated artichoke hearts in recipes where you don’t want the soybean oil. Photo courtesy Roland Food./font>

     

    THE HISTORY OF SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DIP

    Spinach and artichoke dip can be served hot or cold, in a bowl or in a hollowed-out bread bowl (use a round loaf), along with crackers, pita chips, toasts and crudités.

    Spinach and artichoke dip is one of the most popular dips in the U.S, so it’s surprising that we can’t find information on its origin. If you know it, please let us know.

    Our mom recalls that in the 1950s or 1960s, a recipe appeared on the containers of mayonnaise or sour cream, and possibly on packages of Knorr or Lipton dry soup mixes, both of which featured spinach dip with sour cream, mayonnaise and chopped water chestnuts. Such recipes were typically developed by home economists employed by food producers, to encourage popular new ways to use their products.

    Mom’s recipe, transferred from the package to an index card, is below.

    Some recipes include cream cheese, Parmesan or other cheese. We prefer the a less cheesy cold dip but do like grated Emmental or Gruyère cheese in the hot dip.
     

     
    RECIPE: SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DIP

    Ingredients

  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained and squeezed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (and zested if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion and/or parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: a few dashes of nutmeg or Worcestershire Sauce
  • Optional for hot dip: grated Emmental, Fontina, Gruyère, Jarlsberg or similar cheese
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (we use canned)
  •  
    Plus

  • Baguette slices, crackers, pita chips/wedges, toast points, tortilla chips, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the spinach in a strainer and press with the back of a large spoon to press out the remaining water. Further blot with paper towels if needed.

    2. COMBINE the spinach in a food processor with the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice and optional zest and nutmeg; blend. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    3. ADD the artichokes and pulse a few times. For a cold dip, refrigerate spread in a tightly-capped container for several hours or overnight, to enable the flavors to blend.

    4. FOR A HOT DIP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend in the grated cheese and fresh-ground black pepper. Place in an oven-proof dish, top with more grated cheese and bake at until golden brown, about 15–20 minutes.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Create A Guacamole Party Bar

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/guacamole sabrinamodelle calavocomm 230

    Guacamole with crispy bacon and shredded
    cheddar. Here’s the recipe. Photo and recipe
    courtesy Sabrina Modelle | The Tomato Tart
    via California Avocado Commission.

     

    National Guacamole Day is September 16th, and we wondered: If there are salad bars and frozen yogurt bars, cereal bars, baked potato bars and chili bars*, why not a guacamole bar? Who doesn’t love the opportunity to customize their foods?

    Individual bowls and an array of ingredients enable each person to start with a base of smashed avocado, and pile on the fixings. They can then be mixed in or eaten as is—a mountain of flavors and textures.

    Whether for a general party or drinks, we like to include a crunchy salad base, to make a more substantial dish. We prefer shredded cabbage, a.k.a. coleslaw mix. You end up with “guacamole coleslaw” at the bottom of the dish.
     
    INGREDIENTS FOR A GUACAMOLE PARTY BAR

    To encourage creativity, mix some non-traditional items (bacon? mint? pineapple?) with traditional ones.

  • Avocado: mashed, smashed or diced†
  • Cheese: crumbled cotija, goat cheese, queso blanco, queso fresco or queso oaxaca; shredded cheddar or jack
  • Diced veggies: bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, green and/or red onion, jicama, radish, tomatillo, tomato/sundried tomato
  • Seasonings: cayenne, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and/or minced garlic, hot sauce, lemon and/or lime wedges, paprika, salt/seasoned salt, Worcestershire sauce
  • Heat: chile flakes, minced chipotle and jalapeño‡
  • Herbs: chives, cilantro, mint, parsley
  • Salad base: arugula, chicory, escarole, iceberg, radicchio, romaine, shredded cabbage, watercress
  • Toppings: bacon, corn, crushed pineapple, diced mango, olives, salsa, sour cream or plain yogurt, toasted nuts
  •  
    Plus:

  • Chips and dippers: celery sticks, crostini (toasted or grilled baguette slices), endive leaves, pita chips, tortilla chips, flatbread
  • Drinks: beer, white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or other crisp, medium-body white wine), white sangria
  •  
    Set the dishes on a table or buffet in this order: bowls, salad, avocado, veggies, heat, seasonings and toppings; include serving utensils with each option.

    At the end of the table, place the forks and spoons for blending and napkins, and dinner plates for the individual bowls and chips. Place large bowls of chips or other dippers on the tables.
     
    ___________________________
    *More food bar ideas: Breakfast & Brunch Bar, Lunch & Dinner Bar and Dessert Bar.

    †Hass avocados are preferred. While other varieties are larger, the Hass variety is creamier, a desired characteristic for guacamole.

    ‡To accommodate those who just like a little heat, have two bowls of jalapeño: one minced and served as is, one with the heat-carrying seeds removed before mincing.

     

    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown in what we now call Central America for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs‡‡ called it ahuacatl; the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they adopted.

    The name guacamole comes from Mexican Spanish via the Nahuatl “ahuacamOlli,” a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant. According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.

     

    Guacamole On Spoon

    Custom-blending guacamole is not only fun; you get exactly what you want. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”
     
    ‡‡The Aztecs, who probably originated as a nomadic tribe in northern Mexico, arrived in Mesoamerica around the beginning of the 13th century.

     
    FUN FACTS

  • Avocados been cultivated for over 10,000 years.
  • Avocados have more potassium that a banana, plus many other health benefits (here are the 12 health benefits of avocado).
  • Leaving the pit in to keep it from browning doesn’t really work.
  • The largest-ever serving of guacamole weighed 2,669.5 kg (5,885.24 lbs), created by the Municipality of Tancítaro Michoacan in Tancítaro, Mexico, on April 4th 2013. But how many tortilla chips were needed?
  • During festivities for the last Super Bowl, 104.2 million pounds of avocados were consumed nationally, mostly as guacamole.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chimichurri Sauce

    Each country in Latin America has a national salsa, or sauce. In Argentina, it’s chimichurri.

    Chimichurri sauce is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, white or red vinegar and red pepper flakes. Oregano can be added. Cilantro can replace parsley in some regions; vegetable oil can replace the olive oil.

    The original sauce is green from the parsley; later red versions add tomatoes, red bell peppers and/or hot chiles.

    In beef-endowed Argentina chimichurri is the steak sauce of choice, also used with other beef-based dishes and any grilled meats.

    As one story goes, the name name evolved from “Jimmy McCurry,” an Irishman who developed the recipe in Argentina. However, there is no written documentation of this.

    Purportedly, McCurry was sympathetic to the cause of Argentine independence in the 19th century, and served in a troop under the command of General Jasson Ospina. The sauce was popular but “Jimmy McCurry” was difficult for Argentineans to say, so it became “chimichurri” sauce (pronounced chimmy CHOO-ree).

       

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/grilled rib eye steak with chimichurri sauce dartagnan 230r

    Classic: grilled beef with chimichurri sauce. Photo courtesy D’Artagnan.

     
    Another theory is that the name comes from the Basque settlers who arrived in Argentina in the 19th century. According to grilling expert Steve Raichlen, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order.” [Source: Raichlen, Steven, “Planet Barbecue!,” Workman Publishing Company. p. 159. ]

    It’s easy to make chimichurri in a blender or food processor; but purists may want to make it the original way, with a mortar and pestle. We find that pesto made this way tastes better than food processor pesto, even when the exact same ingredients are used.
     
    RECIPE: BASIC CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    Ideally, make the chimichurri sauce a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 2 cups fresh Italian parsley leaves, tightly packed
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh oregano leaves or 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, about 1 minute total.

    2. ADD the oil in a steady stream, with the motor running. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few times to combine.

    3. TRANSFER the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day, allowing the flavors to meld. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

     

    Grilled Halloumi With Chimichurri Sauce

    This chimichurri sauce has been made elegant by pureeing. It’s served with a vegetarian dish, Grilled Halloumi And trumpet Mushrooms. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.

     

    CREATE YOUR SIGNATURE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    You can adding or substitute other ingredients to create a signature chimichurri:

  • Substitute lemon or lime juice for the vinegar.
  • Use fresh or roasted chiles instead of the red pepper flakes.
  • Add minced onion.
  • Try balsamic or flavored vinegar instead of wine vinegar
  • Give it an Asian spin with fresh ginger and mint, or an Indian influence of green curry and cilantro.
  • Turn it into mint sauce by substituting mint for the parsley; or make a parsley-mint blend.
  • Substitute basil for “Caprese sauce.”
  • Add a spoonful of Dijon mustard.
  • Make red chimichurri sauce by adding red bell peppers and/or raw or roasted tomatos (Red Chimichurri Rcipe).
  • For elegance, purée the naturally textured sauce into a smooth one (see photo at left).
  •  
    21+ WAYS TO USE CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    Like Italy’s pesto, chimichurri is a bright green, herb-based, versatile sauce that you can use with:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Burgers
  • Caprese salad dressing
  • Crostini (serve the toasts with grilled meats)
  • Eggs, any style
  • Egg salad, chicken salad, potato salad, tuna salad, etc.
  • Fries and onion rings
  • Grilled fish or seafood (recipe: Mango Grilled Shrimp With Chimichurri Grilled Mango-Citrus Chimichurri Shrimp)
  • Grilled halloumi or other grilling cheese (see photo above)
  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken, lamb, pork
  • Hot dogs, brats and other sausages
  • Marinades (add more oil, vinegar, citrus juice or and/or water to thin out)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pasta (toss pasta lightly with EVOO before adding the chimichurri)
  • Rice and other cooked grains
  • Soup and stew garnish
  • Tacos
  • Tofu
  • Sandwich spread (mix with mayo or mustard)
  • Vegetarian dishes, including veggie wraps
  • Vinaigrette
  • Yogurt sauce (blend into plain Greek yogurt)
  •  
    Other ideas? Post them here.
     
    SEE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SALSA IN OUR SALSA GLOSSARY.

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Pineapple Salsa

    blueberry-pineapple-salsa-blueberrycouncil-230

    A salsa with something special: blueberries! Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    July is National Blueberry Month, and the price of the little blue nuggets should be at its lowest. In fact, experts recommend that blueberry lovers with lots of freezer space buy and freeze them to enjoy in winter. (Freezing tip: First freeze the berries in one layer in baking pan or rimmed cookie sheet so they don’t stick together; then store in freezer bags.)

    But our focus today is on summer and fruit salsa, with this recipe from the Blueberry Council. Use it with tortilla chips or to top grilled fish or chicken. We also like it as a topping for lemon sorbet (without the red onion)!

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY PINEAPPLE SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the blueberries, pineapple, jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and red onion. Season with salt, taste and add more lime juice as needed.

    2. SERVE with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.

    Find more delicious recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org. Check out the savory blueberry pizza!
     
    BLUEBERRY BUYING TIPS

    When you buy fresh blueberries, look for berries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned, with a silvery white surface bloom. If the bloom is gone, the berries are old.

    If you see juice stains on the bottom of the container of blueberries, the fruit can be bruised. Pick another carton.

    Berry size isn’t an indicator of maturity, but color is: The berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black. Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe, and won’t ripen after they are picked (but you can use them in cooking).

    Refrigerate fresh blueberries when you get them home, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container. Wash the blueberries just before using.

    Don’t buy more than you’ll use, and and eat them within 10 days of purchase (the sooner, the better).

     
      

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