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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cinnamon Apple Chips

apple-chips-beauty-kaminsky-230

Make delicious apple chips. Photo by Hannah
Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

 

We love apple chips, a better-for-you sweet snack. We’re big fans of the Bare Fruit brand, which we buy online in both single serve and family size bags. The apples they use are so sweet that there’s no added sugar.

When we’re out of Bare Fruit apple chips, we make our own with this easy recipe from Zulka Morena sugar. If you’re cutting back on sugar calories, you can make half with sugar, half without, and combine them; Splenda fans can try the noncaloric sweetener.

RECIPE: CINNAMON APPLE CHIPS

Ingredients

  • 3-4 apples, sweetest variety
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 225°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

    2. REMOVE the apple cores with an apple corer. Use a sharp knife or mandolin slicer to thinly slice the apples into rings.

     
    3. PLACE the slices next to each other on the trays (they can overlap a bit). Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the apples.

    4. PLACE the sheets on the oven racks and bake for one hour. Remove each tray of apple slices, flip the slices and return the tray to a different oven rack than before to ensure even baking.

    5. BAKE for one more hour. Turn off the oven, leaving the apple chips inside for another 2-3 hours or until dried out. Store the chips in an airtight container for up to one week.
     
    Find more delicious recipes at Zulka.com.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY & FOOD HOLIDAY: National Kale Day

    kale-varieties-nationalkaleday.org-230r

    Three stems of curly kale with one of red
    Russian kale. Photo courtesy
    NationalKaleDay.org.

     

    Yesterday we focused on kale’s cousin, kohlrabi. But today is National Kale Day. If you’re one of the few better-eating-oriented food enthusiasts who hasn’t yet tried kale, today’s the day.

    This is the second annual National Kale Day, established as the first Wednesday in October. The holiday was established by Drew Ramsey, M.D. and chef Jennifer Iserloh, authors of 50 Shades of Kale.

    Their objective was to draw attention to the superfood, which continues to grow in popularity in both the retail and foodservice (restaurants, schools and other institutions, etc.) markets.

    The kale trend has driven up sales 20%-30% in the last year alone. As an illustration of how popular kale has become, mainstream producer Dole Fresh Vegetables recently rolled out new six salad mixes, all with kale, including a Kale Caesar salad kit.

    Kale is grown around the world, and has been cultivated for some 6,000 years. It’s easy to grow and hearty: A kale plant continues to produce late into winter, and after a frost, kale becomes even sweeter.
     
    TYPES OF KALE

    If you’re already a fan of green kale, visit farmers markets for specialty varieties. There are more than 50 varieties of kale, but in the U.S. you’re most likely to find:

     

  • Curly kale, the variety typically found in grocery stores. It can be bright green, dark green or purple in color with tight ruffled leaves. The fibrous stalks can be difficult to chop, but they’re easy to tear if fresh. The flavor is pungent, peppery and bitter. Seek out younger looking leaves for less bitterness.
  • Lacinato kale, also called black kale, dinosaur kale, Tuscan kale and other names*. It’s an Italian heirloom with blue-green leaves. Slightly sweeter and more delicate in flavor than curly kale, it has nutty, earthy notes.
  • Redbor kale, best known as ornamental kale, dark red or purple in color. It is certainly edible. You can grow it as a garden decoration and pick leaves as you need them, for cooking or garnishing.
  • Red Russian kale with flat leaves that resemble arugula leaves. It gets its name because the stems can have a red or reddish-purple tinge. It is considered one of the more flavorful kales, sweet and mild with just a bit of pepperiness. The stems, however, are too tough to digest and should be removed before cooking.
  •  
    *Lacinto kale is also called black kale, black Tuscan palm, cavolo nero (which means black cabbage in Italian), dinosaur kale, flat back cabbage, Italian kale, palm tree kale, Tuscan cabbage and Tuscan kale.

     

    To celebrate National Kale Day, make your favorite kale dish. Have you ever tried colcannon, a traditional Irish dish of kale (or cabbage) and mashed potatoes? We’re making it for dinner tonight, along with this kale salad:

    RECIPE: SHREDDED KALE WITH DATE PURÉE & PINE NUTS

    This recipe is from Svitana of ArtDeFete.com. She enhances a conventional vinaigrette with date purée for an exciting new flavor combination.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Date Purée

  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  •  

    shredded-kale-salad-with-date-puree-artdefete-230r

    Shredded kale salad with date purée. Photo courtesy ArtDeFete.com.

     
    For The Salad

  • 1 bunch kale, center ribs removed, leaves finely shredded
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Optional garnish: ¼ cup Panko bread crumbs, toasted
  •  
    For the Dressing

  • 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon date purée
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the date purée: In a food processor, combine dates, water, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and lemon juice. Blend until it resembles a smooth paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can keep date purée refrigerated up to two weeks or freeze for three months. Use the rest in smoothies or stir into yogurt.

    2. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and date purée until well combined. Season to taste.

    3. COMBINE the dressing and shredded kale in a large bowl; toss until well coated. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

    4. ASSEMBLE the salad: Spread a thin layer (1 tablespoon) of date purée on each plate and top it with kale salad. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and toasted bread crumbs. Serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kohlrabi

    kohlrabi-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Violet kohlrabi. There’s also a light green variety. Photo courtesy The Good Eggs.

     

    You’ve just gotten used to kale. Are you ready for another cruciferous vegetable, kohlrabi?

    A member of the powerful anti-carcinogenic Brassica family (formerly Crucifera), which also includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips and others) to emerge on mainstream menus in a big way.

    Kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea), also called German turnip or turnip cabbage. It tastes like cabbage but is sweeter. The flavor has been described as a cross between apples and mild turnips, to broccoli stems with a hint of radish and cucumber. What look like bulbs, beet-shaped, are actually swollen stems that grow just above the ground.

    Kohlrabi typically is served cooked in Europe. But American chefs and recipe developers, understanding how much we enjoy crunchy foods, have taken to serving it raw:

     

  • Shaved, julienned or cut into disks or matchsticks as a salad garnish.
  • Shredded or julienned and dressed as “kohl slaw,” mixed purple and green kohlrabi, mixed with shredded cabbage and carrots, etc.
  • Cut into cubes or wedges, marinate in vinaigrette and served with toothpicks instead of crudites.
  • Cut into batons, cubes or wedges and pickled in your favorite pickling recipe, and served instead of cucumber pickles or other pickled vegetables.
  •  

    Flavor & The Menu, which covers food trends for chefs, encourages the preparation of hot kohlrabi dishes as well. Their recommendations:

  • Add cubes or wedges to meat-based soups and stews.
  • Braise the mild green tops using your favorite greens recipe. The leaves are a milder version of collards.
  • Julienne and stir fry.
  • Quarter, oven roast and toss with butter and herbs.
  • Shave and deep fry or bake for kohlrabi chips.
  •  

    kohlrabi-sweet-vienna-burpee-green-230

    Green kohlrabi. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     
    KOHLRABI HISTORY

    Although it has been cultivated for several thousand years, the first written record of the domesticated plant dates to Greek and Roman times, when it was a popular garden vegetable.

    According to Wikipedia, kohlrabi was bred into other Brassica cultivars, including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

    The name derives from the German words kohl, cabbage and rabi, turnip. This unusual looking vegetable originated in northern Europe and was not known 500 years ago. Kohlrabi did not become known in the United States until 1800. Kohlrabi tastes like cabbage but is sweeter.
     
    FINDING KOHLRABI: If your regular grocer doesn’t carry it, head for the nearest farmers market.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Apple Crisps Are Easy To Make

    You may not make homemade pie because you don’t like crust that much—or just don’t like wielding it.

    You can enjoy the same baked apple flavor with a betty or crisp (a.k.a. crumble). The differences, along with dough-topped variations such as cobbler, grunt, pandowdy and slump, are below.

    BEST APPLES FOR BAKING

    When you bake apples, you need a variety with balance of sweet and tart flavors and, more importantly, flesh that doesn’t become mushy when cooked. These include:

  • Braeburn, with firm flesh and spicy-sweet flavor, also great for applesauce.
  • Cortland, related to the McIntosh (which is better for applesauce), both an eating and baking apple.
  • Fuji, sweet and juicy, good for eating and baking.
  • Gala, great for eating and baking, is sweeter than other apples, so you can cut back on added sugar.
  • Granny Smith, one of the most popular eating and baking apples.
  •    

    Apple_Pear_Crisp-mccormick-230

    Apple crisp: With a crumb topping, it is easier to make than a pie. Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • Honeycrisp, an all-around apple we love for eating, with a crispness and firmness that works for baking.
  • Jonagold, a cross of the Jonathan and Golden Delicious varieties; also great for applesauce.
  • Melrose, a cross between Red Delicious and Jonathan varieties.
  • Newtown Pippin, crisp with sweet-tart flesh.
  • Rhode Island Greening, very tart and distinctively flavored.
  • Northern Spy, harder crunchy and a great baking apple.
  • Rome Beauty, mildly sweet and tart, with a milder flavor than others.
  • Winesap, a tart-and-spicy apple that was our Nana’s favorite for baked apples.
  •  

    apple-streusel-betty-crocker-230

    Apple crisp à la mode. Photo courtesy Betty
    Crocker.

     

    RECIPE: EASY APPLE CRISP

    Ingredients

  • 7 cups apples peeled cored and sliced (you can substitute Asian pears)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  •  
    For the Cinnamon Topping

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2-1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
  •  
    Plus

  • Optional garnish: crème fraîche, mascarpone, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Combine apples, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon in a large baking dish. Pour water over apples.

    2. PREPARE the topping. In a separate bowl, using a fork, cut the butter into the other listed ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

    2. SPREAD the topping over fruit mixture. Bake in a 350°F preheated oven 50 minutes or until topping is golden brown. It’s that easy!
     

    CRISP, CRUMBLE, COBBLER, ETC.: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

    A crisp is a deep-dish fruit dessert made with a crumb or streusel topping and baked. Similar dishes include:

  • Betty, a crisp topped with buttered bread crumbs instead of streusel. Some later recipes substitute graham cracker crumbs.
  • Buckle, a baked, bottom cake-like layer with the fruit mixed in, topped with a crumb layer (alternatively, the cake, fruit and crumbs can be three separate layers).
  • Cobbler, with a pastry top instead of a crumb top. The pastry is dropped from a spoon, the result resembling cobblestones.
  • Crisp, baked fruit filling covered with a crunchy topping which is crumbled over the top.
  • Crumble, the British word for crisp.
  • Grunt, a spoon pie with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit (fruit which is steamed, not baked).
  • Pandowdy or pan dowdy, a spoon pie with a rolled top crust that is broken up to allow the juices to come through.
  • Slump, another word for grunt, which can be baked or steamed, and can be made upside down.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Medjool Dates, Nature’s Candy

    Foodies who like lusciousness—not to mention fitness fans looking for a natural source of post-workout muscle recovery—may want to reach for one of the world’s oldest-cultivated fruits: Medjool dates.

    Sure, they’re delicious. But dates and other foods rich in potassium are linked to reduced exercise-induced muscle soreness and connective tissue damage, and enhanced athletic performance going forward. Nutritionists are touting the health and muscle-recovery capabilities of dates as a natural replacement for sports drinks and energy bars that are loaded with processed sugar.

    According to Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author of Eat Your Way to Happiness and Eat Your Way to Sexy, dates are one of nature’s best recovery foods.

    “A serving of dates speeds recovery after exercise, replacing needed potassium and other electrolytes, and helping to restock glycogen stores,” explains Somer. “In addition, the potassium and manganese help balance blood-sodium levels that support muscle contraction, reduce fatigue and stimulate recovery.”

    Who knew? We’ve been eating them plain and with cheese simply because we love them. But now, we’ll look at them a guilt-free sweet snack! For those watching their sugar intake, Medjools rate low to low/medium on the Glycemic Index (GI).

       

    bowl-dates-beauty-230

    A great anytime snack. Photo copyright Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association.

     

    ABOUT DATES

    Among the sweetest fruits in the world, with a concentration of natural sugar that has earned them the sobriquet “nature’s candy,” dates are one of the earliest crops to be cultivated, in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East.

    Dates are the fruit of the date palm (photo below), a tree that thrives in desert conditions—including the Bard Valley of Southern California, which produces premium Medjools.

    Several varieties are easy to find in the U.S., but the best are Medjools, larger, plumper, moister and more tender, with caramel notes. They are are considered the best-tasting, most luscious dates in the world, and have long been called the “Fruit of the Kings.”

    You may also come across Deglet Noor, Halawy and Khadrawy, all chewier varieties. We like them all, but prefer the larger, softer Medjool.

    In addition to sweet recipes—cakes, compotes, cookies, fruit breads, ice cream, puddings, smoothies, etc.—dates add a sweet accent to braises and roasts, and can be substituted for prunes. (Unless otherwise specified, date varieties are interchangeable in recipes.)

    One serving of Medjool dates (two whole dates) provides 8% of the daily recommended value (DRV) for potassium, 12% for dietary fiber and 4% for magnesium, as well as important vitamins and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and vitamin B6.

     

    date-laden-trees-230

    Here’s how the fruits grow on the Date Palm.
    Photo copyright Bard Valley Medjool Date
    Growers Association.

     

    HOW TO BUY DATES

    Dates are harvested according to stages of ripeness. Once fully ripened, they need to be picked: The longer they stay on the tree, the drier they become.

    Delicate, just-ripe dates are sold fresh at some farmers markets and Middle Eastern grocers, but they’re most commonly sold partially dried, often with the pit removed.

    Choose dates that are plump and glossy. They can look wrinkled, but shouldn’t feel hard. A thin coating of sugar on the outside is okay, provided it’s not crystallized. If the dates smell sour, pass them by.

    Like dried fruits, dates have a long shelf life and will keep at room temperature for about two months if sealed in plastic.
     
    The Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association (BVMDGA), a consortium of family growers in the southwest, is responsible for more than 60% of the Medjool dates grown in the U.S. For more information, visit NaturalDelights.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Asian Pears

    In the spring, when the blossoms fall from the Asian pear trees, the nascent pears are the size of peas. Now, at harvest time, many are as large as croquet balls, some varieties the size of softballs (and yet low in calories—about 50 per 4 ounces).

    If you see a red and white Subarashii Kudamono, the fruits haven’t crossed the Pacific Ocean: They’re grown in Pennsylvania.

    While on business in Japan in 1973, American inventor Joel Spira received a gift of Asian pears. Upon returning home, he tried to obtain more of the crunchy, juicy fruit but couldn’t find it. So, he decided to grow his own.

    Spira and his wife Ruth (who has a botany degree) purchased orchard land in the fertile Lehigh Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, and set about growing traditional varieties of Asian pears as well as creating new varieties. They named their company Subarashii Kudamono, Japanese for “wonderful fruit.”

    Today, thousands of their trees yield numerous varieties of Asian pears. The 2014 harvest has begun, and the fruit is now available at gourmet grocers from New York and New Jersey down to Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, and nationally online at WonderfulFruit.com.

       

    AsianPears_bluebowl_230

    A simple yet elegant dessert. Serve with an optional drizzle of honey. Photo courtesy WonderfulFruit.com.

    Asian pears are also grown in California, Oregon and Washington, in addition to orchards worldwide.

    So today’s tip is to try Asian pears.
     

    ARE ASIAN PEARS PEARS, APPLES OR A HYBRID?

    “Asian pear” is the generic name for more than 25 different varieties of a pear species that originated in Asia. The fruit was first cultivated in what are now China, Japan and Korea, beginning as far back as 330 B.C.E.

    Although the shape is reminiscent of some varieties of apples and has the crunchy flesh of apples, the Asian pear, Pyrus pyrifolia, belongs to the same genus as European pears, Pyrus communis. This means you can eat them in the same way, in recipes or as hand fruit, with the skin or peeled.

    Don’t expect a creamy European pear texture, though, or any apple flavor from the fruit that is also known as apple pear, Korean pear, Chinese pear and sand pear, among other names.

    And unlike European pears, Asian pears don’t soften when ripe. They remain crunchy, even when cooked.
     
    HOW TO SERVE ASIAN PEARS

    This fruit is very versatile, pairing well (no pun intended) in savory and sweet recipes. For starters, consider:

  • Breakfast: Sliced as your morning fruit, atop cereal, baked like a baked apple.
  • Lunch/Dinner: Sliced into a green salad with blue cheese or feta; diced into chicken salad; julienned into cole slaw; added to stuffing; cooked and puréed into soup; in stir-fries or Asian dishes seasoned with curry powder, five-spice powder, ginger, soy sauce and/or star anise; instead of sautéed apples with ham, pork chops and other proteins.
  • Dessert: Poached, using your favorite poached pears recipe, baked in tarts, with a cheese plate, served plain with a drizzle of honey.
  •  
    There are dozens of Asian Pear recipes at WonderfulFruit.com: desserts, salads, slaws, spreads, combined with favorite proteins, even Asian pear fries!

     

    Asian_Pear_PA_sticker-230

    If there’s no sticker, ask the produce
    manager about the variety and provenance
    of the Asian pears. Photo courtesy
    WonderfulFruit.com.

     

    RECIPE: SALAD WITH ASIAN PEARS

    You can turn this side salad into a main course by topping it with a grilled protein: chicken breast; fish fillet, scallops or shrimp; lamb, etc.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups of mixed baby greens
  • 1 head radicchio
  • 2 medium Asian Pears, diced
  • Blue cheese, feta or goat cheese, crumbled, diced or sliced
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TEAR the radicchio into bite-sized pieces and combine with greens in a salad bowl (also tear greens if not using baby greens). Add the diced pears.

    2. WHISK the vinegar and mustard, then whisk in the olive oil. Add honey, salt and pepper. Toss with the salad.

    3. ADD cheese to top and serve.
     

    TRADITIONAL ASIAN PEAR VARIETIES

    Depending on the variety, Asian pears can range from medium to large to extra large. Most colors vary from yellow to tan-brown; some have green or russet hues. Their skin may be smooth or speckled. Some of the most popular varieties grown in the U.S. include Hosui (Golden Russet Brown), Kosui (Golden Russet), Nijiseiki or Twentieth Century (Yellow-Green), Shinseiki (Yellow) and Shinsui (Russet Brown).

    These conventional varieties are grown by Subarashii Kudamono:

  • Atago, often heart-shaped,is exceptionally flavorful. Ripening late in the season, it has a lovely butterscotch colored skin. This fruit is juicy and crunch, with subtle tropical flavors of mango, kiwi and passionfruit plus notes of citrus and melon.
  • Hosui has a mild, clear, sweet flavor. This crisp and juicy fruit is golden tan in color with a slight conical shape. In Japanese Hosui means sweet water.
  • Niitaka is a golden light brown in color with a distinctive peaked top. Another very crisp juicy variety, it is sweet with a hint of a nuttiness.
  • Olympic is very round, khaki (brownish-green) color with a blush of dark red. It has a rich flavor, is lightly crisp and displays a delicate amount of juiciness.
  • Yoinashi is very sweet, with a hint of butterscotch. It is golden-orange in color and is slightly oval in shape.
  •  
    The company has also bred and patented five additional varieties: It’s an Asian pear lover’s paradise. One of them, Asaju, is grown artisan-style in a wax-lined bag, so the skin is wafer thin and very crisp.

    You can buy them online for yourself or as gifts. A 5-pound gift box is $29.95; a 9-pound gift box is $39.95.
     

    MORE ABOUT ASIAN PEARS.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Millet, A Gluten Free Whole Grain

    Today’s tip comes from Bob’s Red Mill, where there’s always something new and delicious to discover. Our recent discovery: millet, a gluten free, ancient whole grain.

    Easily used as a replacement for rice and bulgur wheat with millet in a salad with dates and pistachio to benefit from the whole grain, gluten free and high protein goodness. The nutty sweet flavor is an added bonus!

    Millet, an ancient grain, was first farmed some 10,000 years ago in East Asia. A staple crop in Asia and Africa—then and now—it was revered as one of five sacred crops in ancient China. It’s mentioned in the Old Testament, the writings of Herodotus and the journals of Marco Polo.

    Millet grows well in poor, droughty and infertile soils, and are more reliable than most other grain crops under these conditions.

    It fell out of fashion in the cuisines of America and Europe, but it’s always been available in health food stores. A small, round, yellow seed, you also find it in natural food stores like Whole Foods Market, and in many general grocery stores.

    Millet has a mild, sweet flavor and cooks quickly, making it a tasty, convenient whole grain for sides, salads and stir fries. Its light flavor enables it to be prepared as a sweet or savory recipe. In addition to fiber, it’s packed with B vitamins, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.

    The most widely cultivated species include, in order:

       

    millet-horiz-bobsredmill-230r

    Millet, a grain to discover. Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.

  • Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), what you’re most likely to find in the U.S.
  • Foxtail millet (Setaria italica)
  • Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum), also called broom corn millet, common millet, hog millet and white millet)
  • Finger millet (Eleusine coracana)
  •  
    Easy Ways To Enjoy Millet

  • Breakfast: Substitute millet for a bowl of oatmeal; bake raw millet seeds into breads and muffins for a healthful crunch.
  • Salad: Substitute millet in any grain salad; add a scoop as a garnish for a green salad or cooked vegetables.
  • Side: Serve millet with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh-cracked pepper and an optional sprinkle of grated Parmesan. We also enjoyed a side of millet, chopped dates and pistachio nuts.
  •  

    millet-spring-roll-salad-bobsredmill-230L

    Millet salad: Serve it as a side or top with a
    grilled protein. Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.

     

    RECIPE: MILLET STIR-FRY

    Use this recipe from Bob’s Red Mill to turn a simple stir-fry into something special, replacing rice with millet. You can add an optional protein (chicken, tofu, etc.).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • 5 ounces canned water chestnuts
  • 1/4 cup cashew pieces
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING water and salt to a boil in a pot. Add millet and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes.

    2. COMBINE soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and cornstarch. Set aside

    3. HEAT oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute. Add broccoli, carrots and water chestnuts. Cook until vegetables are al dente to tender, depending on preference, 7-10 minutes. Add millet and cashews.

    4. POUR soy sauce mix over the stir-fry and cook until the sauce is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
     
     
    MORE MILLET RECIPES

    Here are three delicious recipes from Bob’s Red Mill:

  • Millet Salad, a combination of grain and crunchy veggies (recipe)
  • Sweet Millet Congee with apples and bacon, for breakfast (recipe)
  • Spinach and Lemon Millet Arancini, fun party fare (recipe)
  •  
    Let us know what you think of millet!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Scuffins

    apricot-scuffin-230

    Surprise: a center of apricot conserve. The
    black flecks are flaxseeds. Photo courtesy
    Frog Hollow Farm.

     

    Today’s tip comes from Frog Hollow Farm, a beloved grower of organic fruit in Brentwood, California, an hour east of San Francisco in the fertile Sacramento River Delta.

    Before there was the cronut, there was the scuffin. Necessity was the mother of invention.

    Some five years ago, Frog Hollow Farm began to make frozen purées from fruit that wasn’t cosmetically attractive enough to sell to consumers. They then set about creating products from the purées, and the winner was the scuffin.

    What sounds like a cross between a scone and a muffin is actually a triple hybrid, which includes the center of a jelly donut— substituting conserve, jam or preserve for the jelly. (Here are the differences between jelly, jam, conserve, etc.)

    A hearty, sconelike dough formed into a muffin shape, a scuffin is more dense than a muffin, with a texture that goes from a crisp exterior and crumbly scone interior to center of smooth fruit filling, made from the purée. It eliminates the need to choose between a scone and a muffin. They can be breakfast bread, snack or dessert.

    Served at the Frog Hollow Café in San Fransicso’s Ferry Building, the scuffin was an instant hit. The whole grain flour and flaxseeds, add healthful elements and a nuttiness that pairs well with the jam.

     
    Total prep and baking time is 1 hour.

    RECIPE: SCUFFINS

    Ingredients For 12 Scuffins

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons for buttering muffin cups
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (4 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal or wheat germ (1 ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown or raw sugar (2 ounces), plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup fruit jam, conserves, preserves or fruit butter (do not use jelly or marmalade)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave or over very gentle heat. Using a pastry brush, butter the cups of a standard-size 12-cup muffin tin (3-1/2-ounce-capacity). Let each coat of butter cool, then apply another coat; continue until the 2 tablespoons are all used.

    2. COMBINE dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, add to the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just combined.

    3. WHISK together the egg, milk and cream in another bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to combine (the dough will be quite sticky).

    4. RESERVING about a quarter of the dough for topping, scoop 2 tablespoons dough into each cup. Using the back of a spoon, press the dough gently down into the cups. The dough will move up the sides, and there should be a shallow well in each dough cup. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up to the top; there should be about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the dough and the rim of the cup.

     

    nectarine-scuffin-froghollowfarm-230

    Scuffins filled with blueberry preserves. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm.

     
    5. SPOON about 1 tablespoon of jam into each well. Using your fingers, pinch the remaining dough into small clumps and scatter evenly over the jam in each cup, making a bumpy topping. Sprinkle sugar over the tops.

    6. BAKE 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned. Let cool in the pan on a rack; run a blade around the sides of each scuffin before turning out.

    Variations

  • Try different flavors of jams and preserves.
  • Use different spices—nutmeg, ginger or allspice, for example, instead of cinnamon or cardamom.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A New Apple

    apple-cider-230

    SweeTango juice and apples, now in stores
    nationwide. Photo courtesy The Next Big
    Thing.

     

    While October is National Apple Month, today, September 20th, is International Eat An Apple Day. There are so many varieties of apples, our tip is to step outside of your apple comfort zone and try something new.

    Our favorite apple, Honeycrisp, has an offspring: SweeTango. Introduced in 2009, SweeTango combines the best qualities of the Honeycrisp (released in 1991) and Zestar (released in 1998) varieties. It has the crisp texture of Honeycrisp and the juiciness of the Zestar, with notes of citrus, honey and spice.

    The SweeTango was born at the University of Minnesota, where expert apple breeders, using time-honored horticultural techniques, struck gold by marrying the Honeycrisp and Zestar varieties. If you were about to ask, the brand tells us that Honeycrisp was the bride, Zestar the groom, both varieties with crisp flesh.

    The offspring of marrying the rootstocks created the Minneiska, a hybrid tree. But since “Minneiska” doesn’t have a commercial ring to it, the apples were christened (and trademarked) SweeTango.

     

    A growers cooperative was formed, includes some of the best apple growers in the world and called Next Big Thing. They are the only farmers who can grow SweeTango—an arrangement that allows the breeders to maintain top quality.

    A seasonal apple harvested in early fall, SweeTango is available during apple season across the U.S. and Canada. Enjoy it as a hand fruit, or with stronger cheeses such as blues and Cheddar.

    For more information, visit SweeTango.com. Use the store locator to find a retailer near you.

     

    DOES AN APPLE A DAY KEEP THE DOCTOR AWAY?

    According to HowStuffWorks.com, the first printed mention of this saying was in the February 1866 issue of the British publication Notes and Queries, still in print and still focused on reader questions about the English language and literature, lexicography, history and scholarly antiquarianism.

    The publication printed the proverb thusly: “Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” But does it, really?

    No more so than many other fruits. Most ailments cannot be cured by diet alone, and nutritionists would recommend a varied selection of fruits: citrus fruits, tropical fruits like mangos and a variety of berries, which pack a nutritional punch.

    Here’s what the nutrients in apples can do for you.

  • An apple a day can reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and many types of cancer. Various studies show health benefits when participants eat an apple between three and five times a week.
  •  

    sliced-apples-shropshireblue-230s

    Sliced SweeTango apples with Shropshire Blue cheese and almonds. Photo courtesy The Next Big Thing.

  • The pectin in apples is a soluble fiber than lowers both blood pressure and glucose levels. It can also lower the level of LDL, or bad cholesterol. Like other forms of fiber, it helps maintain the health of the digestive system.
  • Boron, an abundant nutrient in apples, supports strong bones and a healthy brain.
  • Quercetin, a flavonoid (antioxidant), may reduce the risk of various cancers, including breast and lung cancer. It may also neutralize free radical damage, which has been implicated in a variety of age-related health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The phytonutrients, including vitamins A, E and beta carotene, also fight free radical damage, reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
  • Last but not least, the vitamin C boosts immunity, which helps maintain overall health.
  • Other fruits have specific benefits.

  • Bananas are loaded with potassium, which is important for a healthy heart and proper muscle function.
  • All berries are good for you. Apricots, fresh or dried, are high in beta-carotene. Blackberries are loaded with fiber. Blueberries and cranberries help prevent and fight urinary tract infections. Strawberries contain lots of vitamin C and fiber.
  • In terms of juice, apple juice is at the bottom of the top 10 beverages in antioxidant power. Pomegranate juice, wine and purple grape juice at the top, with apple juice in the tenth spot, right behind tea. One of the healthy benefits of apples—the high amount of fiber—is lost during juicing.
  •  
    So why the adage, and why has it been passed from generation to generation for 148 years?

    First, at the time the expression emerged, understanding of nutrition profiles was not what it is today. Next, apples were a bountiful crop in England; once harvested, they could remain in storage for nearly a year, providing one of the few sources of fresh fruit during the winter months.

    And, within that longevity is truth: Recent studies have shown that, unlike many fruits and vegetables, the nutritional benefits of apples remain relatively stable as long as 200 days after harvest.

    So by all means, enjoy an apple a day. It’s still one of the better sweet things you can munch on.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Leeks

    When was the last time you cooked leeks?

    Leeks are closely related to onions and shallots, although they are not interchangeable in recipes, as their flavors and intensities differ.

  • Leeks look like jumbo green onions (scallions). The long, thick stalks are mild. Leeks are hardier than onions and shallots, and are also more difficult to clean and cook. Unlike onions, leeks don’t produce bulbs or grow underground.
  • Onions come in many different shapes, sizes, colors and tastes, from sweet and mild to pungent, spicy and even acrid. Easy to grow, it is used in cuisines worldwide. The bulb grows underground, revealing itself by a single, vertical shoot above ground.
  • Shallots look like small yellow onions, a bit more oblong in shape. They grow underground. Their flavor is onion-like—sharper when raw but much more sweet and delicate when cooked, an onion-garlic hybrid. Like garlic, the bulbs grow in cloves. Unlike onions, shallots normally bloom white or violet flowers.
  •  
    Leeks are often called “gourmet onions” because they are harder to find and costlier than onions. They can be prepared easily—boiled, braised, fried, sautéed or poached—or in elaborate recipes, or served raw as a milder substitute for onions.

       

    roast-leeks-latourangelle-230

    Roasted leeks are delicious, low in calories and easy to make. Photo courtesy La Tourangelle.

     

    The only rub is cleaning them. Leeks grow in sandy soil and don’t have a protective skin cover like onions and shallots; so you’ve got to be sure to get the sand out. Here’s a video showing how to clean leeks.

    Leeks are available throughout the year, although they are in greater supply from the fall through the early spring. Purchasing tips:

  • While larger leeks may look more impressive, they are generally more fibrous in texture. Select leeks with a diameter of one and one-half inches or less.
  • In a recipe where the leeks are cooked whole (like the one below), select leeks that are of similar size to ensure consistent cooking.
  •  
    Try this easy recipe from La Tourangelle, producers of the finest culinary oils and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. The recipe tastes extra-special using their Roasted Walnut Oil or Roasted Hazelnut Oil, but is certainly delicious with EVOO. You can serve it as a side or a first course.
     
    RECIPE: ROASTED LEEKS WITH MUSTARD-TARRAGON VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds small leeks, trimmed, rinsed and halved lengthwise
  • 2.5 tablespoons walnut oil, hazelnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh tarragon
  •  

    leeks-organic-goodeggs-230ps-r

    Leeks, fresh from the field. Photo courtesy
    GoodEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare an ice bath in a bowl.

    2. BRING a 2-quart pot of salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to the ice bath. Let chill completely, about 1 minute. Transfer the leeks to a paper towel-lined plate to drain about 3 minutes.

    3. DRIZZLE the leeks with the oil and toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet or baking pan and roast the leeks until they become slightly golden brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl…

    4. WHISK together the vinegar, mustard, garlic and lemon zest to make a vinaigrette.

    5. REMOVE the leeks from the oven and transfer to a platter. Spoon the vinaigrette over the leeks and garnish with the black pepper and tarragon. Serve hot or at room temperature. Enjoy!

     
    MORE LEEK RECIPES

  • Fried Leeks Garnish
  • Leek & Giblet Stuffing
  • Leek Soup
  • Leek & Seaweed Salad
  • Vichyssoise (leek and potato soup)
  •  
    ABOUT LEEKS

    Leeks are a member of the Allium genus, which includes garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions. Their botanical family, Amaryllidaceae, comprises herbaceous, perennial and bulbous flowering plants including the amaryllis, from which it takes its name.

    Leeks look like large scallions, having a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of superimposed layers that flows into green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves. Cultivated leeks are usually about 12 inches in length and one to two inches in diameter and feature a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of shallots but sweeter and more subtle.

    Wild leeks, known as ramps, are much smaller in size, but have a stronger, more intense flavor. They are available for a short period of time each year and are often widely sought out at farmers markets when they are in season.

    Believed to be native to Central Asia, leeks have been cultivated in there and in Europe for thousands of years. They were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were thought to be beneficial to the throat. The Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger.

    The Romans most likely introduced leeks to Britain; they were so esteemed in Wales that they became country’s national emblem. As the story goes, during a battle against that Saxons in 1620, Welsh soldiers placed leeks in their caps to differentiate themselves from the enemy—and won the battle, of course.

      

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