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TIP OF THE DAY: Eat More Legumes

Spring Chopped Salad

Prosciutto Salad

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

 

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

WHAT ARE LEGUMES?

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

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

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

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

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

EATING MORE LEGUMES

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

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

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

 
Where To Start

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Lentil Arugula Salad

    Salmon With Beluga Lentils

    Calamari & Beans

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

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Green Bean & Potato Salad

    If you’re thinking of potato salad for game day, how about upping the flavor, color, texture and nutrition with green beans, a.k.a. string beans and snap beans (more about that below).

    Fresh green bean crops are harvested year-round, but are best in early winter, early summer and early fall. Beans picked early in the season are smaller and sweeter. As they mature, they lose flavor and get thicker and tougher.

    “The combination of green beans and red potatoes, sometimes known as Green Beans Pierre, is one of my go-to side dishes,” SAYS Preci D’Silva, who contributed the recipe to Taste Of Home.

    The recipe calls for dried herbs, but trust us: fresh herbs give a much more wonderful punch of flavor. You can use a combination of fresh and dried, depending on what you have on hand (e.g., fresh basil and parsley, dried tarragon). While this recipe uses an oil and vinegar dressing, you can also add green beans into mayonnaise-dressed potato salad.

    While the recipe was developed to serve warm, it is equally delicious at room temperature. Prep time is 30 minutes.

    RECIPE: WARM GREEN BEAN & POTATO SALAD

    Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon each garlic powder, ground mustard and pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon each dried basil, parsley flakes and tarragon
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  •    

    potato-green-bean-salad-tasteofhome-230r

    Add crunch and flavor to potato salad. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     
    *We love balsamic vinegar so much that we often use it, even though it adds a dark color. White balsamic, created to solve this problem, isn’t real balsamic, and doesn’t taste anything like it. Here’s more about balsamic vinegar.
     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the potatoes in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile…

    2. WHISK together the oil, vinegar and seasonings in a large bowl.

    3. ADD the green beans to the pot of potatoes; return to a boil. Cook 3-5 minutes longer or until the vegetables are tender. Drain.

    4. ADD to the dressing and toss to coat. Stir in the tomatoes and onion. Serve warm.

     

    organic-bush-burpee-2-230

    Before breeding eliminated it, green beans had a fibrous “string” atop the long ridges and were known as string beans. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    GREEN BEANS OR STRING BEANS: THE DIFFERENCE

    String beans got their name because they originally had a string, a tough fiber that ran from one tip to the other. The string had to be removed before cooking. The task was onerous enough that the string was bred out of most varieties. But the name, handed down from generation to generation, lives on.

    The beans also got the name of snap beans, because when you bend them, they snap.

    There are two types of green beans:

  • Bush beans, which have a rounded pod (see photo).
  • Pole beans, which are usually large and relatively flat.
  •  
    Pole beans are also more tender, so if you have a choice, go for the flat beans.

    But whether bush or pole, raw green beans are tender enough to be eaten raw. They are a standard on our crudité platter, and whenever we have them on hand, we add them to green salads, other vegetable salads, grain salads and protein salads (chicken, egg, tuna, etc.).

     

    HOW TO HANDLE GREEN BEANS

    Here’s advice from Produce Pete:

  • Selection: Choose small to medium-size pods that are velvety-looking and bright green, with no signs of wilting or wrinkling. If you’re not sure of the freshness, bend one and see if it snaps. If it’s rubbery and bends, it’s past its prime.
  • Storage: Don’t wash green beans (or any produce) until you’re ready to use them. While it’s always best to use them as soon as you buy them, you can refrigerate them in a paper bag an or unsealed plastic bag for a day or two. If you’ve had them longer and they start to wilt, you may be able to revive them in ice-cold water. Otherwise, you can purée them or add them to soups or stews.
  • Preparation: To cook, simply steam or cook in a small amount of water in a covered pan for five to eight minutes (we steam them in the microwave), adding a dab of butter (or good olive oil), salt and pepper. Don’t overcook or you’ll get a canned green bean flavor.
  • Freezing: String beans freeze well if blanched for two minutes before freezing.
  •   

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    TIPS: How Do You Properly Cook A Turkey?

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 80% of foodborne illnesses are linked to meat and poultry. Since we want to give thanks for our health, NSF International, a public health and safety organization, has provided food safety tips to help you properly thaw, cook and store your holiday turkey. We’ve combined them along with some of our own turkey-cooking tips.

    Whether you’re a seasoned cook who would like a refresher or it’s your first time preparing the big bird (sorry, Big Bird!), these tips will help you follow proper food safety guidelines for a safer Thanksgiving and a tastier bird:

  • Buying The Turkey. Don’t let uncooked turkey sit at room temperature. Put the turkey in the cart last and get it home and refrigerated promptly. Bag the turkey separately and place it below other food in the refrigerator. For crisper skin, unwrap the turkey the night before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator.
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    organic-turkey-freshdirect-230

    A fresh, organic, free-range turkey from FreshDirect.com.

  • Thawing The Turkey. Don’t attempt to thaw a frozen turkey quickly by leaving it to sit overnight on the kitchen counter—bacteria will grow. Either place the covered turkey in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator (the safest method—but note that it takes approximately 3 days for a 20 pound turkey to fully defrost) or place the plastic-wrapped turkey in a pan of cold water, changing the water about every 30 minutes. Another option is to completely submerge the turkey under a stream of lukewarm (70°F) running water, but that’s not a good use of water.
  • Avoiding Bacterial Contamination. To avoid bacterial contamination, never place the turkey (or any raw poultry) directly on the counter. Keep it on a platter or in a roaster. Clean and sanitize the counter and utensils after handling raw turkey. Don’t use turkey utensils for other purposes until they have been cleaned. Similarly, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw turkey, using plenty of warm water and soap.
  • Roasting. Trussing also helps any bird roast more evenly. Then, coat the skin with olive oil or other vegetable oil, season with salt and pepper and tightly cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent drying. About 45 minutes before the turkey should be done, remove the foil from the breast to allow it to brown. Don’t open the oven to baste; it isn’t needed, and the temperature fluctuation only increases cooking time and dries out the bird.
  • Stuffing. Wait to stuff the turkey until right before putting it in the oven. Use only pre-cooked meats and vegetables in the stuffing mixture. Don’t pack the cavity; the turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Cook overflow stuffing in a casserole dish—or cook all the stuffing in a separate casserole—it makes serving easier. Then, instead of stuffing, place some aromatic vegetables in the cavity (carrots, celery, garlic and/or onion) and tuck some fragrant herbs under the skin (we love rosemary). If cooked inside the bird, cook the stuffing until it reaches at least 165° F at the center. A Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with work nicely — or by carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin. For the stuffing lovers, cook the dressing in a casserole dish on the side.
  • Is It Ready? At 350°F, a defrosted turkey should take about 20 minutes per pound, and a fresh turkey 10-15 minutes per pound. Use a meat thermometer to check the turkey for doneness, even if the turkey has a pop-up timer. When the temperature reaches 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh away from the bone (that deep spot between the leg and the breast), the turkey should be done. Remove it from the oven, tent it with foil and let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving to preserve the juices.
  • Carving Knife. Is your carving knife sharp? Dull knives cause accidents. There’s still time to sharpen those blades before the big day.
  • Turkey Leftovers. For food safety, refrigerate any leftovers immediately. Large portions should be separated into smaller containers and covered loosely to speed cooling.
  • A tip from THE NIBBLE: For a moister, juicier turkey, consider brining. We’ll try to post instructions; or else, they’re easy to find online.

    Need More Help With Your Turkey? Foster Farms, producers of both fresh and frozen turkeys, has its Foster Farms Turkey Helpline experts on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, now through November 30, including Thanksgiving Day. They can be reached at 1.800.255.7227.

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    PRODUCT: All About Cinnamon




    Grade A Korintje (Indonesian) cinnamon from PreparedPantry.com.
      A bit of news that may surprise you: The spice you know as cinnamon– the one you sprinkle on sugared toast and into cookie and cake batters; the one that adds depth to curries and bite to marinades– is not real cinnamon at all! In fact it’s from a tree called cassia. While professionals distinguish between cassia and true cinnamon, to the consumer, what is often sold as ground cinnamon is cassia (it doesn’t curl into cinnamon sticks like true cinnamon, so what you see in stick form is the real deal). Learn more about the differences between cassia and cinnamon (and the best ways to cook and bake with both) in our complete review of this complex spice and its history.

    You know how to cook with cinnamon. But do you know how to drink with it? Try the Cinnamon Cider Martini, one of our favorite spicy cocktails.

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    TIDBITS: The Truth About Daurade

    Daurade
    Identity crisis? The fish is variously called daurade, d
    orade, porgy, sea bream, tai, zeebrasem….
      Daurade: When you see it on a menu, doesn’t it sound elegant and exciting? Would it sound as exciting if it were called porgy or sea bream? We think not. We bring it up because a reader wrote to ask if daurade referred to the fish or the preparation. It’s a fish. In France, daurade refers to Sparus aurata, the gilthead seabream, a member of the porgy family. Daurade, also spelled dorade, is ubiquitous in France, where there are four varieties: gray, pink and marble dorade, known by their coloring, and royal dorade. The “royal” is so named because it has a gold-yellowish bump between the eyes that, with imagination, can be considered a crown. While “royal” also has the firmest flesh, the flesh of all varieties is delicate and can fall apart if filleted. Thus, monsieur le daurade is often cooked and served whole.
    The Japanese black porgy is a different species (Acanthopagrus schlegelii), as is the American porgy (Lagodon rhomboides). The flesh is firmer, so you’ll find daurade fillets in America (sometimes it’s flown ove from France, sometimes it’s porgy—because daurade sounds a lot better), and tai sushi and sashimi (tai being the Japanese word for porgy). No matter what part of the Sparidae fanily it comes from, you can tell from its teeth that the daurade/porgy is a carnivore (if you don’t like the eyes staring up at you from your plate, wait until you see those choppers). Those teeth help it feast on other fish, oysters and mussels (hey, save some for us). While the flesh can be delicate, the flavor of the fish is not shy. Cook it with lemon, wine, garlic, tomatoes, rosemary—any of your favorite hearty herbs and spices work. Learn more about fish, fisch, pesce, pescado, poission, etc. in the Fish, Seafood & Caviar Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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    TIDBITS: The Difference Between Kettle Chips And Conventional Potato Chips

    What exactly are “kettle chips,” such as those made by Boulder Canyon, our Top Pick Of The Week (see the previous post)? Let’s start at the beginning. Potato chips, invented in 1853 in Saratoga, New York, were originally called Saratoga chips. Chips got soggy quickly in the days before vacuum packaging (or even airtight bags), and needed to be purchased fresh. By the 1920s, every town in the U.S. had its own chip maker, or “potato chipper.” The chip maker sliced up potatoes and fried them one batch at a time in a small kettle. The continuous fryer was invented in 1929, creating tremendous economies of scale and driving most of the small, kettle cookers out of business. By the 1940s, automation had evolved to change much of America’s artisan food production into mass production, including potato chips. Potato farmers bred the natural sugars out of potatoes to accommodate mass production, because the natural, variable sugar content required individualized attention to know when the batch was done. The result: Chips like Lay’s and Wise, which sell many millions of bags a year, but are only a shadow of the former gustatory glory of the potato chip.   Potato Chip Hors d’Oeuvre
    The right chip is not just a good snacker: It creates sexy hors d’oeuvres. Photo courtesy of Kettle Brand chips.
    Today’s “kettle chips” are a return to the thicker, small-batch chips made with top ingredients (you can use some of the best brands to construct fancy hors d’oeuvres, as shown in the photo). While today’s “kettles” are fryers much larger than the original stovetop kettle, they are still small in comparison to mass-produced chips.
    – Read more about potato chips in the Snacks Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.
    – Read the history of the potato chip (you’ll learn how the potato chip bag was invented—a technology breakthrough of the time)
    – Fry your own kettle chips with this recipe.

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    TIDBIT: Chocolatier Vs. Confectioner

    What’s the difference between “chocolates” and “confections?” Is a “chocolatier” or chocolate shop the same as a “confectionary?” A confectionery (also spelled confectionary) is a confectioner’s shop—more popularly called a candy store or sweet shop. A chocolatier (a French word, pronounced cho-co-la-tee-YAY) is both the chocolate shop and the person who makes the chocolate. While both of these words are commonly used in American chocolate circles, the French words for confectioner, confiseur, and candy shop, confiserie, are not.

    – The term “confection” refers to all candies and sweets, including candy bars, candied nuts, chocolate, fudge, hard candies, licorice, lollipops, marshmallows, marzipan, nougat, mints, toffee and other products, from cotton candy and candy canes to gum drops and gummi bears.

    – The term applies to snack items, so any baked goods and ice cream sold at a confectionery are included.
      Nougat - Burdick ChocolateNougat (from Burdick Chocolate) is a confection.
    So…if chocolate is a confection, what’s the difference between a chocolate shop and a confectioner’s shop?

    – A chocolatier is a chocolate specialist, and generally makes some or all of the chocolates sold on the premises.

    – While a chocolatier often makes marshmallows, marzipan, toffee and other confections, most of what is sold is chocolate-based or chocolate-coated.

    – In a confectionary, you’ll find a balance of sweets, of which only a portion are chocolates.

    Read more about chocolate in the Chocolate Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine. If you want to find the confectionery, you’ll have to look in the Candy Section and under Cookies, Cakes & Pastries.

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