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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Choucroute Garnie

Now that there’s as chill in the air, the people of Alsace have been cooking up their famous recipe, Choucroute Garnie—pronounced shoo-CROOT gar-NEE and translating to dressed sauerkraut.

The “dressing” consists of sausages and other salted meats and, typically, potatoes. It’s stick-to-your-ribs goodness on a chilly day. You know it’s autumn when the dish appears on restaurant menus (call your local French restaurant to check). If you don’t have time or inclination to make your own, it’s available throughout France microwavable packages and canned form.

Sauerkraut originated in German and Eastern Europe, the but the French annexation of Alsace and Lorraine added it to the repertoire of French chefs. It has since become popular throughout France.

Like cassoulet and pot au feu, it’s an inexpensive, everyday dish. Any combination of hot sauerkraut, meat and potatoes works, but traditional recipes utilize:

  • Three types of sausage, such as Frankfurt sausages, Strasbourg sausages and Montbéliard sausages (use whatever sausages you like—we used boudin blanc, knockwurst and smoked sausage).
   

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Pork chop, back bacon, potatoes plus a bonus of baby carrots on a bed of sauerkraut. Photo courtesy TourDeFranceNYC.com.

  • Fatty, inexpensive or salted cuts of pork: back bacon, ham hocks or shank, pork knuckles and shoulders, salt pork.
  • Boiled potatoes (toss them with fresh parsley).
  • Seasonings: bay leaf, black peppercorns, cloves, garlic.
  • Sauerkraut, simmered in Riesling and juniper berries (we added some caraway seed, a personal favorite with sauerkraut).
  • Optional: chopped onion, sliced apples.
  • Mustard: we served three options, Dijon, grainy and horseradish mustards.

 
Plain shredded cabbage can be added along with the sauerkraut to produce a less tangy, less acidic version. Hungarian recipes include stuffed cabbage leaves in addition to the other ingredients.

 

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Individually plated, with sliced potatoes. Photo © Quentin Bacon | Food & Wine. Here’s the recipe.

 

For a high-end variation, Choucroute Royale is made by augmenting the basics with some more expensive ingredients:

  • Champagne instead of Riesling
  • Foie gras, goose, wild game
  • Fish
  • Duck choucroute garni, replacing the pork products with duck confit leg, duck sausage and duck breast.
  • A newer riff, seafood sausage choucroute is a meat-free option that includes seafood sausage, scallops, shrimp and flaky white fish on a bed of braised cabbage (not sauerkraut) with lobster sauce.

While it takes a bit of time to prepare, the steps to a delicious choucroute garnie are easy:

1. SIMMER sauerkraut with Riesling and juniper berries. Riesling has a very distinctive flavor, but if you don’t want to buy a bottle and drink the rest with dinner, use another dry white wine. We like to snip fresh parsley, sage or thyme into the cooked sauerkraut before plating.

2. COOK your favorite cuts of pork: pork belly, pork chops, sausages, whatever. Boil the potatoes.

3. PLACE the sauerkraut on a serving plate and top with the meat and potatoes. Uncork a bottle of Rieling. Voilà.

 

Choucroute garnie can be served individually plated or family style, on a large platter.

Here’s a complete recipe from Jacques Pépin for Food & WIne magazine.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Custard With Maple Pecan Crunch

As an alternative to pumpkin pie—or perhaps in addition to it—how about some pumpkin custard? It’s eggier and richer than conventional pumpkin pie filling, and because there’s no crust, it’s gluten free.

This lovely recipe, from Nielsen Massey, is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. If you don’t have ramekins or custard cups, use 6-ounce tea cups.

How is this custard different from flan and other custards? Check out the different types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary.

RECIPE: PUMPKIN CUSTARD WITH MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1½ cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
  • 4 large eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (15-ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  •    

    pumpkin-custard-maple-pecan-crunch-nielsenmassey-230

    Pumpkin custard topped with maple pecan crunch. Photo courtesy Nielsen-Massey.

     

     

    nielsen-bourbon-230

    Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Place 8 six-ounce ramekins onto a rimmed sheet pan or a roasting pan; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the half-and-half and liqueur in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat and stir, just until the mixture is warmed. Remove from the heat.

    3. COMBINE the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly until well combined. Add the pumpkin and whisk until it is incorporated. Slowly pour the heated half-and-half mixture into the pumpkin mixture; whisk continuously until combined.

    4. POUR the custard mixture into ramekins. Place in the oven; then carefully pour warm water into the sheet pan, so custards are surrounded and the water depth is about ¾-inch high (this technique is known as a bain-marie). Bake until done, about 40-45 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan, cool completely on wire rack and place in the refrigerator to chill. You can serve the custard chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: MAPLE PECAN CRUNCH

    Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • Garnish: coarse sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. COMBINE syrup, vanilla and cayenne pepper in a small bow. Whisk to combine; set aside.

    3. LIGHTLY COAT a large skillet with cooking spray; place over medium heat. Add the nuts to skillet and toast until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    4. CAREFULLY POUR the syrup mixture over the nuts. Cook and stir until the nuts are coated; then remove from heat. Place the nut mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and cool.

    5. TO SERVE: Top the cooled custards with Maple Pecan Crunch. Finish with a pinch of coarse salt.

    Store any unused Maple Pecan Crunch in an airtight container. You can use it to top anything from baked sweet potatoes to green salad to vegetables to ice cream.
     
    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VANILLA

    Did you know that vanilla beans are the fruit of a species of orchid? Of the 110 species in the orchid family, the vanilla orchard is the only one used for food.

    While the fruit is called a vanilla “bean,” it has no close relationship to the actual bean family. After the plant flowers, the fruit pod ripens gradually for 8 to 9 months, eventually turning black-brown in color and giving off a strong aroma. Both the exterior of the and the seeds inside are used to create vanilla flavoring.

    Check out the history of vanilla, types of vanilla products (including vanilla paste and different terroirs of vanilla extracts and vanilla beans), how to buy vanilla, and our reviews of the best vanilla extracts and vanilla beans.

    Start here.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Beer & Pumpkin Ale

    pumpkin-beer-w-pumpkin-craftbeer.com-230

    Even George Washington was a fan of
    pumpkin beer. He brewed his own, of course.
    Photo courtesy CraftBeer.com.

     

    Thanks to Julia Herz of CraftBeer.com for today’s tip: Pick up some pumpkin beer or ale. In fact, have a pumpkin beer tasting for Halloween (with or without costumes), and bring it instead of wine to your Thanksgiving dinner hosts.

    This seasonal brew is so well liked that in the month of October, it rivals the popularity of India Pale Ale (IPA), the top-selling craft beer style in the U.S.

    The body is richer, thanks to the addition of actual pumpkin into the vat; and brewers typically add hints of pumpkin pie spices. The flavors can vary widely depending on whether the brewer uses fresh, frozen or canned pumpkin (or a related squash).

    But pumpkin beer is no recent craft beer invention. It’s been made since the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock Colony discovered pumpkins (indigenous to the Americas) and added them to their brews.

    Why did they brew with pumpkin?

    There were plenty of them. Since good malt was not readily accessible in the early days of the colonization of America, fermentable sugars had to come from elsewhere. In those early pumpkin beers, the flesh of the pumpkin took the place of malt. (Later, with dependable supplies of malt, both were used.)

    Pumpkin beer remained a staple throughout the 18th century, but its popularity began to wane by the early 19th century as quality malts became accessible everywhere.

     

    Fast forward 200-plus years to the Bay Area in the 1980s. The father of American micro-brewing, Bill Owens, read in a brewing book that George Washington added pumpkin to his mash. Owens thought it was an idea in need of resurrection. The result, Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale, is an amber-style ale based on Washington’s recipe (and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week).

    Although most pumpkin ale and beer are brewed with pumpkin and flavored with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, don’t expect pumpkin pie in a bottle. With most products, there’s no obvious pumpkin taste analogous to the pronounced flavors of fruit beers.

    This season, retailers will sell some 400 pumpkin beers from craft brewers. You can put together a nice selection for a tasting party. Or, pick up a selection for your own personal enjoyment. Just a sampling of what you might find:

     

    buffalo-bill-6pack-pumpkin-230

    Bring a six-pack or two to your Halloween or Thanksgiving host(s). Photo courtesy Buffalo Bill’s Brewery.

    • Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter | Starr Hill Brewery | Crozet, Virginia
    • Flat Jack Pumpkin Ale | Flat 12 Bierwerks | Indianapolis, Indiana
    • Gourd Shorts (pumpkin ale) | Florida Beer Co. | Cape Canaveral, Florida
    • Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale | Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company | Lexington, Kentucky
    • Mavericks Pumpkin Harvest Ale | Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. | Half Moon Bay, California
    • Oak Jacked (imperial pumpkin ale) | Uinta Brewing Co. | Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Potosi Stingy Jack Pumpkin Ale | Potosi Brewing Co. | Potosi, Wisconsin
    • Pumking | Southern Tier Brewing Co. | Lakewood, New York
    • Post Road Pumpkin Ale | Brooklyn Brewery | Brooklyn, New York
    • Pumpkin Ale | Blackstone Brewing Co. | Nashville, Tennessee
    • Pumpkin Ale | Buffalo Bill’s Brewery | Hayward, California
    • Pumpkin Ale | Rivertown Brewing Co. | Lockland, Ohio
    • Pumpkinfest | Terrapin Beer Co. | Athens, Georgia
    • Punkin Ale | Dogfish Brewery | Milton, Delaware
    • Roadsmary’s Baby (rum-aged pumpkin ale) | Two Roads Brewing Co. | Stratford, Connecticut
    • Rum Punk (Rum barrel-aged pumpkin beer) | Joseph James Brewing Co., Inc | Henderson, Nevada
    • Samhain Pumpkin Porter | DESTIHL Brewery | Bloomington, Illinois
    • Samuel Adams Fat Jack (double pumpkin ale) | Samuel Adams | Boston, Massachusetts
    • Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale | Smuttynose Brewing Co. | Hampton, New Hampshire
    • Wick for Brains Pumpkin Ale | Nebraska Brewing Co. | La Vista, Nevada
    • Witch’s Hair Pumpkin Ale | Twisted Manzanita Ales & Spirits | East County San Diego, California

     
    KNOW YOUR BEER TYPES

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Apple Cider Donuts

    apple-cider-glaze-donuts-karosyrup-230

    Fresh, warm donuts with an apple cider
    glaze. Photo courtesy Karo Syrup.

     

    On Thursday we purchased an apple cider donut at our local farmers market. It was just OK, with no detectable hint of apple cider. So we went home, got out the recipe file and made our own with a recipe from Karo Syrup.

    That’s the difference between these and the one we purchased: corn syrup and apple cider combine for a delicious glaze.

    Prep time is 35 minutes, rest time is 45 to 60 minutes. You can fry them or bake them (bake time is an additional 15 minutes).

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER DONUTS

    Ingredients For 15 Doughnuts

    • 3-1/4 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 envelopes Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 3 egg yolks
    • Corn oil for frying

    For The Apple Cider Glaze

    • 1 cup apple cider
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large mixer bowl.

    2. HEAT milk and butter to very warm (120°F to 130°F). Add to flour mixture with egg yolks; beat for 2 minutes at low speed. Continue adding flour until a soft dough forms.

    3. KNEAD on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (4 to 6 minutes). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

    4. ROLL out the dough on a lightly floured counter into a 12-inch circle, about 1/2-inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible. Cut out the centers with a 1-inch cookie cutter (or poke a hole through the center with your finger).

    5. PLACE the doughnuts 2 to 3 inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Re-roll and cut the remaining dough. Cover the doughnuts and let rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

    6. TO FRY: Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 350°F in a deep fryer or deep pan. Fry 2 to 3 doughnuts at a time, turning occasionally until well browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. TO BAKE: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake the risen doughnuts for 8 to 10 minutes. FOR BOTH: Cool a few minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

     

    karo-light-corn-syrup-230

    Light corn syrup. Photo courtesy ACH Food Companies.

     
    7. MAKE the glaze: Boil the apple cider in a small saucepan until reduced by half, 7 to 10 minutes. Place the powdered sugar in medium bowl. Whisk in the hot cider and corn syrup until smooth.

    8. GLAZE: Drizzle the donuts with the apple cider glaze or, using tongs, dunk the doughnuts into the glaze. Serve warm.
     
    Enjoy the donuts warm, with a hot cup of coffee or a cool glass of milk or apple cider.
     
    CORN SYRUP VERSUS HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP

    Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are two different sweeteners. The latter is a sweeter form of corn syrup made from corn starch. It is 20% cheaper and easier to transport than sugar; hence, a more profitable sweetener for manufacturers to use. The process was developed in the 1970s and introduced widely into American processed foods in the 1980s. Here’s more about high fructose corn syrup.

    Corn syrup, called glucose syrup outside the U.S. and Canada because it is composed mainly of glucose, is made from corn starch. It was invented in 1812 by a German chemist, Gottlieb Kirchhoff, and has long been used to sweeten soft drinks, ice cream, ketchup, breads and many other mass-produced foods. Before commercial brands (Karo Light and Dark Corn Syrup products were introduced in 1902), housewives would carry their syrup jugs to the grocery store to be filled from the barrel.

    Light corn syrup is almost clear, with a delicate flavor; dark corn syrup has a more pronounced, molasses-like flavor. They can be used interchangeably in most recipes.

    Corn syrup is a good product that is often confused with the highly processed high fructose corn syrup. The best manufacturers use it in because corn syrup doesn’t crystallize and turn grainy in cold temperatures. It thus keeps a good consistency for products like fudge and caramel sauces and and candies. In mass production, baked goods made with corn syrup are moister and stay fresher longer than those made with sugar.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SWEETENERS IN OUR SUGAR & SWEETENERS GLOSSARY.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pair Cheese & Nuts

    candied-walnuts-asiago-wmmb-230

    Asiago cheese with candied walnuts and
    raspberries. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    Yesterday was National Nut Day, so the folks at the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board sent us some popular cheese and nut pairings.

    In addition to fruits, breads and crackers, nuts a flavor and crunch counterpoint. Try these pairings the next time you serve cheese:

    • Almonds: Available in several forms—candied, raw, roasted, salted, smoked, spiced—almonds are a great choice for pairing with most cheese varieties that are semi-soft to firm (hard).
    • Pecans: With their natural sweetness, pecans complement the salt in cheese. Try a candied or spiced pecan (recipe) alongside salty cheeses, such as feta or romano.
    • Pistachios: The delicate, buttery flavor of these popular nuts goes best with soft cheeses such as brie or ricotta .
    • Walnuts: The earthy flavor and dry texture of walnuts pair nicely with aged cheeses, such as an aged asiago or cheddar. Or, drizzle with honey to pair with a softer cheese, especially blue cheeses like gorgonzola.

    MORE TO MUNCH ON

  • Candied Nuts Recipe
  • Cheese Condiments: many more foods to pair with cheese
  • Glossary Of Cheese Terms
  • The History Of Cheese
  • How To Taste Cheese
  •  
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Halloween Ice Cream

    While crafty cooks are inspired to turn ice cream cones into witches’ hats and use candies to create ghost and black cat faces on a scoop of vanilla or chocolate, specific Halloween ice cream flavors don’t typically come to mind. (When did you last see pumpkin ice cream?)

    Baskin Robbins will sell you an ice cream cake in the shape of a jack o’lantern or a haunted house.

    But our friends at Talenti inspired us by carving a jack o’lantern face into their Alphonse Mango Sorbetto, naturally colored like a harvest moon.

    Perfect, we thought; and promptly bought a few pints to carve and then pass, lid on, around the dinner table as a Halloween surprise.

    With its deep orange color, we nominate mango a Halloween flavor, served plain or with a scoop of vanilla for a delicious “Creamsicle” effect. For extra panache, layer the flavors in a glass parfait or sundae dish or a wine goblet.

    More Halloween ice cream ideas:

       
    talenti-mango-jack-o-lantern--230

    Mango sorbet: a great holiday color. Photo courtesy Talenti.com.

     

     

    Carmel-Apple-Pie-talenti-230

    Another seasonal option: Caramel Apple Pie.
    Photo courtesy Talenti.

     
    • Substitute orange sorbet for mango, or serve them together.
    • Freeze orange or mango sorbet into balls and make jack o’lantern faces with a tube of black decorating gel.
    • Top ice cream with a Halloween cookie, such as Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies (soft, oversize cookies you can use as a base for the ice cream), or Lucy’s Gluten Free Pumpkin Patch Cookies. We also discovered a local brand of ginger snaps shaped like jack o’lanterns (plain ginger snaps will do) and pumpkin spice cookie mixes from Betty Crocker and Pillsbury.
    • Candy corn: a few kernels create a seasonal garnish for vanilla or chocolate ice cream.
    • Try eyeball candy instead of a maraschino cherry.

     
    Other ideas? Let us know!

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Pumpkin Cider

    pumpkin-cider-hkaminsky-230

    Pumpkin cider, with or without rum. Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    People speak of comfort foods; this is a comfort drink. Thick, flavorful, fragrant pumpkin cider made with pumpkin purée is a seasonal treat that can be served to kids or turned into a cocktail with spiced rum.

    RECIPE: SPICED PUMPKIN CIDER

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix, which is seasoned)
  • 2-1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • Cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup spiced rum (or substitute more apple cider)
  • Garnish: whipped cream, fresh-ground nutmeg
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the pumpkin, cider, spice and cinnamon stick in a medium-large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil; then simmer for 20 minutes. If you’d prefer a thinner drink, add more cider to achieve desired consistency.

    2. REMOVE the cinnamon stick; strain the mixture to remove any clumps. Add the rum stir. Garnish with optional whipped cream or nutmeg. Serve warm.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Burger

    Pumpkin is the not-so-secret ingredient in these veggie burgers, which have real nutritional heft thanks to the addition of chickpeas and pumpkin seed protein powder.

    Whether you’re determined to keep the spirit of summer alive or looking to transition into more autumnal foods, these pumpkin burgers span both worlds. You can make a double batch: The finished patties freeze beautifully.

    The recipe was developed by Hannah Kaminsky.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN PROTEIN BURGERS

    Ingredients For 6-8 Burgers

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 14-ounce can (1-3/4 cups cooked) chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seed protein powder
  • Salt and pepper
  •    

    pumpkin-burger-kaminsky-230

    Make your veggie burger a pumpkin burger. Recipe and photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

  • Optional condiment: pumpkin hummus (mix pumpkin purée into plain hummus)
  •  

    organic-pumpkin-puree-can-farmersmarket-230

    We like this organic pumpkin purée. Photo
    courtesy Farmer’s Market Foods.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly grease and set aside.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. When it is shimmering, add the garlic and onions, sautéing until aromatic and lightly golden brown. This should take no more than 6 to 8 minutes; be careful not to overdo it or you could burn the garlic.

    3. DEGLAZE the pan with the balsamic vinegar, turn off the heat and let the mix cool for 10 minutes.

    4. ROUGHLY MASH the chickpeas in a separate bowl, with a fork or potato masher. Keep the texture fairly coarse so that the burger maintains a satisfying bite. Add in the pumpkin purée, mustard, spices and herbs, mixing well to incorporate. When cool enough to handle…

    5. ADD the sautéed vegetables and pumpkin seed protein powder; stir to combine. Mix thoroughly, making sure that there are no pockets of dry ingredients. The mixture should be soft but manageable—something you can fairly easily mold into patties that will hold their shape. Season with salt and pepper to taste. With slightly moistened hands…

     
    6. MEASURE between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of the burger mixture for each patty, and form into round, flat pucks. Space them out evenly on the sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake 10 more minutes, until golden brown. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the sheet.

    7. SERVE while still hot, or cool completely before freezing and storing (for up to 6 months).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Veggies More Flavorful

    Vegetable lovers tend to love their veggies cooked in any way: grilled roasted, steamed, stir-fried, however. Others need more convincing to eat their minimum three servings of veggies a day. (Serving recommendations vary by age group. Here’s the latest government Food Pyramid.)

    One way to get people to eat more vegetables is to combine them with popular flavors. That doesn’t mean fried zucchini and ketchup, however. Here are several better-for-you ways to amp up the flavors and make veggies sexy. They come from Flavor & The Menu, a magazine that delivers ideas and trends to professional chefs.

    FOR GREEN SALADS & SLAWS

    Here are four ideas to that add appeal to your salads:

  • Garnish or toss a green salad with shredded cheese or toasted nuts/seeds and fresh or dried berries. If you don’t have time to make a salad from scratch, buy a ready to eat salad or slaw mix.
  • Caramelize your lettuce. Grill romaine hearts as a base for your salad. You can lightly grill other salad ingredients (bell peppers, tomatoes) or simply add croutons, shredded cheese or any other ingredients. Here’s a recipe for Grilled Caesar Salad.
  •    

    masala-cauliflower-paperchef-230

    Yummy caramelized cauliflower. Photo courtesy PaperChef.com.

  • Serve crudités as a first course—baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florets, snow peas and other favorites—with hummus, a simple aïoli (garlic mayonnaise—here’s the recipe) or balsamic vinaigrette dip*.
  • Make wilted salads: Add a warm dressing to spinach, kale or a baby braising greens mix. It will slightly wilt the greens. Here’s a recipe hot bacon vinaigrette that you can use with lettuce, kale or other greens.
  •  

    *Easy balsamic vinaigrette recipe: Blend together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 3/4 cup olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper (or to taste). Optional: Add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic and/or fresh parsley or other herb.

     

    pancetta-hazelnut-green-beans-goboldwithbutter-230

    Some bits of bacon and sautéed onions add
    great flavor to green beans. Photo courtesy
    Go Bold With Butter.

     

    FOR COOKED VEGGIES

  • Add umami elements to roasted, steamed or sautéed vegetables: bacon, Parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, sautéed onions or soy sauce (flavor it with minced ginger, garlic and chives/green onions). Fish-friendly families should try chopped anchovies, anchovy paste or Asian fish sauce*.
  • Caramelize your veggies. Caramelization is what happens when the natural sugar in a food break down under heat and forms new compounds. The food turns brown and becomes caramel—a broad term that extends to more than just candy and sauce. Roasting, grilling and pan-searing add flavorful caramelization and soften the bite of vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts. You can even cramelize a slaw mix. Here’s how to caramelize.
  • Please the spice-lovers with Asian flavors like sweet chile sauce, Sriracha and kimchi. Use chili and Sriracha sauces in your recipes or as condiments. Mix kimchi—Korean pickled vegetables—with grains, potatoes and vegetable medleys.
  • Stir-fry sturdy greens (those which have tough ribs and leaves, such as bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, collards, kale, mustard greens, spinach) to create an easy side dish or a bed for proteins.
  • Create a colorful warm “salad” using on-trend healthy vegetables such as sliced or diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash, beets and kale.
  • Pan-sear sliced mushrooms with shallots, then add cream and cheese for an elegant à la carte addition to steaks and chops.
  •  
    Read more about food, glorious food at GetFlavor.com.

    †Fish sauce was the favorite condiment of the ancient Romans (read all about it). Today, it remains a favorite condiment in Asia, with each country varying the recipe: Vietnamese nuoc nam, Thai nam pla and Cambodian tuk trey, Burma’s ngan-pya-yem, Korea’s jeotgal, Laos’s nam pa and The Philippines’ patis and bagoong. Related products include the Malaysian shrimp paste belachan and a similar product in Myanmar called nga-pi.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Stone Crab

    Our friends at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City remind us that stone crab is now in season. Florida stone crabs are legal for harvest from October 15th through May 15th. Frozen stone crab is available year-round, but the true palate pleaser is the fresh crab.

    The stone crab (Menippe mercenaria), also known as the Florida stone crab, lives in the western North Atlantic, from Connecticut down to Belize; and the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico.

    The stone crab is a cousin of the Maryland blue crab (Callinectes sapidus, also known as the blue crab, Atlantic blue crab or Chesapeake blue crab) and the Gulf stone crab (Menippe adina), a closely related species. It tastes like a cross between the blue crab and the Maine lobster—less definitive than lobster but more so than crab.

    The body is relatively small without much meat; the part that is eaten is the big, meaty claw, which is very distinctive in appearance with black tips. When harvesting, one or both claws are removed on the boat and the live crab is returning to the ocean, where it will regenerate its claws.

    Sustainability-oriented fishermen remove only one claw, so the crab can protect itself while the other regenerates. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has given the Florida stone crab industry its highest rating of “Best Choice,” for maintaining high fishing standards and working hard to keep the stone crab population viable.

    The claws are strong enough to break an oyster’s shell—like us, stone crabs love to eat oysters. Claws are sold by size, generally in four sizes: medium, large, jumbo, and colossal.

       

    Florida-Stone-Crab-claw-frugeseafood-230r

    A stone crab claw. Photo courtesy Fruge Seafood.

     

    RECIPE: STONE CRAB CLAWS

    The easiest way to serve stone crab claws is to boil them, and serve them hot or chilled with melted butter or other sauce (the two most popular are mustard sauce and remoulade sauce).

    What looks like a very impressive dish couldn’t be easier to make. The difficult part comes when the diners have to extract the meat from the shell—you may have heard of the “Maryland crab bash,” where diners get a bib and a hammer. Or, you can remove the shells yourself, prior to serving (instructions are below).

    Note that there is a hard center membrane inside the meat, so take care if biting into what looks like a large lump of meat. It’s better to pull the meat off with a fork.

     

    stone-crab-claws-cracked-uberstonecrabs-230

    Ready to dip and eat. Photo courtesy
    UberStoneCrabs.com.

     

    Ingredients

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds stone crab claws per person
  • 1/4 stick butter per person
  • Lemon or lime wedges
  • Optional garnish: dill or parsley
  •  
    Serve With

  • Cole slaw
  • Mixed green salad
  • Mixed vegetables: Brussels sprouts, carrots, other favorites
  • Garlic bread
  •  
    Optional Dips

  • Compound butter: chipotle, olive, red pepper, shallot herb, etc. (recipes)
  • Mustard sauce (recipe)
  • Remoulade sauce (recipe)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a pot of 12 cups of water, plus a teaspoon of salt, to a rapid boil; remove from the heat. When the water stops bubbling, place the crab claws in the water for about five minutes. Do not submerge the claws into the rapidly boiling water, as they can toughen.

    2. DRAIN the crab claws into a colander (warning: the claws and water will be very hot) and rinse under cold water to make them easier to handle.

    3. PREPARE the dip. The easiest is to combining 4 tablespoons of butter with minced garlic and salt or other seasoning of choice (for example, Old Bay Seasoning). Microwave butter mixture until melted, about 90 seconds (time will vary by microwave).

    4. SERVE with melted butter and wedges of lemon.
     
    How To Crack The Crab Claws

    1. PLACE the claw on a cutting board or other hard surface. Then, place a plastic bag over the claw to prevent the juices from splattering.

    2. USE a mallet or hammer (cleaned, of course!) and lightly crack the claw in the first and second knuckles; then crack slightly harder in the center of the claw.

    3. PEEL the shell from the claw and then separate the two knuckles from the main pincher. Serve with sauce and citrus wedges.

    NOTE: Crack only as many as claws as you plan to eat at one meal. Once cracked, the claw meat will not hold up well for a long period of time.

     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CRAB: A CRAB MEAT GLOSSARY

      

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