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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Romanesco, Neither Broccoli Nor Cauliflower

Isn’t it beautiful?

Romanesco looks like it’s been sculpted by an artist. It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetables family (Brassicaceae) that includes broccoli and cauliflower, among others. If it seems exotic, that’s because we rarely find it in U.S. markets. But romanesco grown in California is in season now.

In the U.S., it’s also called broccoflower, Roman broccoli, romanesco broccoli, romanesque cabbage and romanesque cauliflower. So is it broccoli or cauliflower? Actually, it’s neither.

Remember high school botany taxonomy: kingdom, order, family, genus, species and sometimes, subspecies? The Brassica genus is unusual in that instead of individual species, it bundles its members into one species. Thus, the species Brassica oleracea includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe) and turnips. What might be called a subspecies elsewhere are known here as cultivars, and don’t have a separate botanical name.*

So the answer is: romanesco is neither broccoli nor cauliflower; it is its own cultivar. While you’ll see it called broccoli or cauliflower, you now know better.

   

romanesco-melissas-230sq

If you can’t find it locally, order romanesco online as a special treat. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

 

Botanists believe that Italian farmers in the 16th century developed romanesco through cross-breeding (it was initially called broccolo romanesco). As with cauliflower or broccoli, the pointy “florets” (often called fractals after fractal art) that comprise the head are of varying sizes. They are actually individual buds of the plant’s flower.

Romanesco tastes more like cauliflower, with a nutty, earthy flavor nuance and a crunchier texture. It is about the same size of a regular head of cauliflower. There is also a smaller variety, which is about half the size. The pale green shade keeps its color through cooking.

Look in your farmers markets or specialty produce stores; the crops from California are in. You can treat yourself or send a gift from Melissas.com.

 

romanesco-simplymcghie.blogspot-230r

It’s almost to pretty to cut! Enjoy it as a centerpiece for a day or two. Photo courtesy SimplyMcGhie.Blogspot.com.

 

HOW TO SERVE ROMANESCO

Romanesco can be served raw, lightly cooked, or cooked through, and can be substituted in any recipe calling for cauliflower or broccoli. It’s a shame to destroy the architecture by dicing or puréeing: We wouldn’t want to turn it into soup, for example, when we could use regular cauliflower. Instead, consider:

  • Crudités
  • Lightly steamed (recipe)
  • Marinated
  • Mixed vegetable salads (with mixed greens or other vegetables)
  • Roasted
  • Sautéed (here’s an easy recipe with garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese)
  •  
    RECIPE: ROMANESCO SALAD

    This recipe is from Mariquita Farm in Watsonville, California, which grows romanesco.

     
    Ingredients

  • 1 head romanesco
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or other favorite olive, pitted and sliced
  • Capers, 1 tablespoon per 4 cups of florets
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion or to taste: green onion, red onion, shallot
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (basil, cilantro and/or parsley are our favorites here)
  • Lemon juice vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: shaved Parmesan or crumbled Gorgonzola
  • Optional garnish: toasted sunflower seeds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY STEAM the florets to desired consistency. While you can use them raw, a blanching or light steaming makes the texture more uniform with the other ingredients.

    2. TOSS with the other ingredients and the vinaigrette, taking care not to damage the pointy “fractals.” Serve chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: LEMON VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the lemon juice, zest, mustard, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended.

    2. TASTE and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle over the salad and toss to coat thoroughly.
     
    WHY ARE CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES SO GOOD FOR YOU?

    The Brassicaceae family of vegetables contains powerful antioxidants that prevent the build-up of free radicals, atoms with unpaired electrons in the body that are destructive, engendering disease.

    Along with their nutritional elements, cruciferous vegetables aid with alkalinization (making the body less acidic), bone health, cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction and detoxification (neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants). The high fiber content aids in digestion, heart health, lowering blood sugar, reducing allergy reactions and inflammation, and more.

     
    *Other members of Brassicaceae belong to a different genus. These include arugula, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, cress, daikon, horseradish, mizuna, radish, rutabaga, tatsoi and wasabi.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Global Foods To Try This Year

    causa-perudelifhts-230

    Causa: humble mashed potatoes are
    transformed into a snazzy appetizer or side.
    Photo courtesy PeruDelights.com.

     

    For more than 15 years, the magazine Flavor & The Menu has been the trusted authority on flavor trends for food and beverage menu developers. Here’s their list of 10 items from around the world that are “primed for carrying a new wave of global flavors” in 2015.

    You don’t have to wait for your local restaurants to feature these foods. You can find recipes online and be the trendsetter in your area.

    Bobo Chicken From China

    Like food on a stick? Not to be confused with the Brazilian dish, Chicken Bobó, this spicy snack and street food comprises skewers of chicken, often with vegetables, are marinated in sauces teeming with Sichuan peppers, grilled, then served at room temperature. It can be plated at home without the skewers, with rice or noodle. Here’s more.
     
    Causa From Peru

    Love potatoes? This popular potato dish, served cold or room temperature, is composed of mashed potatoes, sometimes seasoned with lime, onion and chiles, stuffed with various ingredients, then formed into cakes or terrines. Here’s a recipe from PeruDelights.com.

     
    Cemita From Mexico

    This torta from Puebla, Mexico, is a sandwich on a brioche-like roll that is also called cemita. The sandwich is filled with avocado, meat (carnitas, beef Milanesa and pulled pork are popular) plus a fresh white cheese like panela. Here’s a recipe.

     

    Feijoada From Brazil

    If there’s a Brazilian restaurant in your area, it most likely serves feijoada, pronounced fay-ZHWAH-dah. The national dish of Brazil is a rich, smoky stew of black beans, salted pork, bacon, smoked pork ribs, sausage and jerked beef. It’s a one-bowl, comfort-food meal. You can make it at home and serve with sides like fried plantains, hot pepper sauce, pork rinds and stewed greens. Here’s a recipe.
     
    Medianoche From Cuba

    A variation of the popular Cubano pork sandwich, the Medianoche (which means “midnight,” as it was a snack that followed a night of dancing) switches out the crusty French bread for a soft, sweet, yellow egg dough bread. It’s often smaller than the typical Cuban sandwich. It’s easy to make: Just combine roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, sliced pickles and mustard on sweet Cuban bread (no lettuce, no tomato, no mayo!). Here’s the recipe.

     

    Okonomiyaki from Japan

    These savory pancakes are typically made with white flour, grated yam and dashi. Toppings and batters can vary but generally stay on the savory side. Examples include shrimp, green onion and pickled vegetables. The name is a combination of okonomi, “what you like” or “what you want” and yaki, meaning grilled or cooked. Here’s a recipe.
     
    Paratha From India

    Available at any Indian restaurant, this unleavened flatbread from India is traditionally pan-fried. It can be eaten plain, like any flatbread; but it is popularly turned into the Indian version of a knish, filled with boiled potatoes, vegetables, radishes or paneer cheese. Crisp, flaky and endlessly customizable, here’s a recipe.
     
    Piada From Italy

    Also called piadina, this Italian street food, originally from the Emilia-Romagna region, is a thin flatbread that serves as a wrap for fillings: cheeses, cold cuts and vegetables as well as with sweet fillings such as jam or Nutella. Here’s a recipe.

     

    popiah-spring-roll-rasamalaysia-230

    Popiah, a Malaysian spring roll. Photo courtesy Rasa Malaysia.

     

    Popiah From Malaysia

    Malaysia’s answer to the fresh spring roll, the popiah has a thin wrapping, often made with tapioca flour and egg, that is rolled around a variety fillings (shrimp, jicama and fried shallots are popular). Dipping sauces range from sweet to spicy to savory. In mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan there are home-based popiah parties, where the ingredients are laid out and guests roll their own popiah to their own personal liking. Spring roll lovers: This one’s for you. Here’s a recipe.
     
    Simit From Turkey

    A kind of Turkish sesame bagel—but so much more intensely sesame—the simit is a ring of chewy dough that’s perfect for breakfast. In Turkey, it’s purchased as a street food on the way to work or during the day as a snack bread. In the U.S., it’s been turned into a base for sandwiches (see our simit article and the difference between simits and bagels). Here’s a recipe.

    Here’s the full article, with many more ideas on how to enjoy these global delights.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Fish Or Chicken With Salsa

    Salsa has been America’s favorite condiment since 2000, when it supplanted ketchup in sales. But it actually has been a favorite condiment for thousands of years.

    The wild chile was domesticated about 5200 B.C.E. and tomatoes by 3000 B.C.E., both in Central America. The two ingredients were combined into a condiment, incorporating other ingredients like squash seeds and even beans (the predecessor of one of our favorites, tomato, corn and bean salsa). The Spanish conquistadors, taking over in 1529, called it “salsa,” the Spanish word for sauce.

    Salsa was not used as a dip for tortilla chips, which weren’t invented until the late 1940s in Los Angeles. It was a general sauce for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. (Here are the history of salsa and the history of tortilla chips.)

    So today’s tip is: Take salsa back to its origins and use it as a sauce for fish and poultry. Here’s the easiest way, from Jillipepper, a New Mexico-based salsa maker.

  • Fish steaks or fillets, 4-6 ounces each
  • 1 salsa, jar or homemade
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRUSH the fish liberally with the salsa.

       

    montreal-salsa-chicken-mccormick-230

    Salsa-coated chicken. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    2. COOK on a grill over medium heat or under the broiler. Turn and brush with salsa every 5 minutes until fish is done.
     

    When you use salsa with chicken or fish, it can be traditionally savory, or sweetened with fruit. (See the different types of salsa.)
     

    SWEET SALSA

    If you like things sweet—and easy—McCormick has a popular Salsa Chicken recipe that combines canned tomatoes with apricot preserves, and a Montreal Salsa Chicken that combines mild salsa with peach preserves.

    Both of those combine tomatoes with fruit, but you can also make a pure fruit salsa with no tomatoes.

    Peach salsa is the best-selling fruit salsa flavor in the U.S., beating mango and pineapple. While most bottled peach salsa is tomato-based salsa roja, you can make fresh peach salsa without tomatoes. Wait for peach season, though; then combine 2 cups peeled, finely diced peaches, 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion, 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 de-seeded and finely chopped jalapeño, juice of 1 lime, 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or basil leaves and 1 clove minced garlic. Add salt to taste.

    Mango pineapple salsa is also easy to whip up. Combine 1 diced mango and 2 cups of diced pineapple with ½ medium onion, diced; ½ cup cilantro, diced; the juice of one lime, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add minced jalapeño for heat.

    Cherry salsa goes nicely with chicken or fish. You can use fresh cherries in season, but frozen cherries work fine. Here’s a salmon recipe with cherry mango salsa.

    And when watermelon season returns, how about a watermelon, corn and black bean salsa?

     

    Grilled fish with a savory salsa. Photo from the cookbook, South American Grill, courtesy Rizzoli USA.

     

    SAVORY SALSA

    We prefer a largely savory salsa with grilled fish, sometimes with diced fruit—mango, peach or pineapple tossed in for balance, but never, ever with added sugar.

    While you can use salsa from a jar, making your own is easy and you can customize it with your favorite ingredients. You can also create your preferred texture, from chunky hand-diced to puréed in the blender.

    The possible combinations are [almost] endless”

    POSSIBLE SALSA INGREDIENTS

  • Tomatoes: in the off season, use cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit: grape, mango, melon, peach, pineapple or other fruit
  • Onions: green onion, red onion, sweet onion
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley
  • Acid: wine vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice
  • Heat: jalapeño or other fresh chile
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic
  • Enhancements: black beans, capers, corn kernels, gherkins, olives
  •  

    HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 pounds tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • Optional: 1/2 pound diced fruit
  • 1/2 small red onion (more to taste), small dice
  • 2 or 3 small jalapeño chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 of a lemon or lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup or more cilantro (if you don’t like cilantro, substitute parsley)
  • 2 splashes of red wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
     
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems from the cilantro. Remove the white membrane and seeds from the jalapeños and mince the flesh.

    2. COMBINE the tomatoes, fruit, onions, jalapeño and garlic. Add the seasonings (vinegar, citrus juice, salt, pepper, cilantro) and toss to thoroughly combine. Allow flavors to blend for a half hour or more (overnight is fine); then taste and adjust seasonings. You may want more vinegar, more jalapeño, etc.

    3. Pulse until desired consistency.
     
    This is making us hungry. Guess what we’re having for lunch!

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Baked Oatmeal With Blueberries & Almonds

    Last year we published a recipe for baked oatmeal with strawberries. It was a big hit.

    Here’s a baked oatmeal dish with a different flavor profile: blueberry and almond, courtesy of the London-based blog, Pip & Little Blue. You’ll find many other delicious recipes on the website.

    “Pip” created this recipe to be heart-healthy, child-friendly and easy to make. “It has to be both one of the yummiest and healthiest breakfasts in my repertoire,” she says. “It may feel like you’re indulging and eating cake for breakfast, but this is jam-packed full of blueberries, oats, soy milk and almonds, all proven to be good for your heart and low in fat to boot. Way way better than [plain] porridge [see note below].

    You can reheat slices in the microwave at home or at work, for a nutritious breakfast every day in 30 seconds.

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY & ALMOND BAKED OATMEAL

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1/2 cup butter (plus extra for greasing)*
  • 2/3 cup soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 2 cups cow’s milk or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups rolled oats†
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder**
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds
  •    

    baked-oatmeal-pipandlittleblue-230

    It may look like cake, but it’s baked oatmeal for breakfast! You can use an oblong pan, but doesn’t the oatmeal look prettier in a round one? Photo © Pip & Little Blue.

     
    *Substitute margarine for a heart-healthy version, or dairy-free spread for a dairy-free version. (Many margarines have small amounts of dairy- or milk-derived ingredients in them.)

    †For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free certified oats and gluten-free baking powder.

     

    blueberries-basket-balduccis-230sq

    Fresh blueberries are not in season until summer. Instead of pricey imports, consider buying frozen blueberries. If they’re not sweet enough for you, toss them in your sweetener of choice before adding them to the recipe.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F/190°C and grease a 9-inch baking pan or dish.

    2. CREAM together the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Stir in the oats, ground almonds, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until all the ingredients are incorporated.

    3. ARRANGE 1 cup of blueberries on the bottom of your baking dish. Spoon the oatmeal mixture on top, even the surface out and scatter the flaked almonds and remaining blueberries on top.

    4. BAKE for 40-45 minutes, or until the oatmeal is springy and golden on top. Serve warm , with extra fruit or a splash of milk.
     
    WHAT IS PORRIDGE?

    Porridge is a dish made by boiling ground, crushed, or chopped cereal grains in water or milk. Optional flavorings can be added, from spices to fruits or cheese.

    Porridge is usually served hot for breakfast, in a bowl or dish. It may be sweetened with sugar or served as a savory dish (cheese grits is an example).

     

    Any cereal grain can be turned into porridge. Buckwheat, oats, wheat (Cream of Wheat, Wheatena) and rice (Cream of Rice) are most popular in the U.S. Worldwide, barley, fonio, maize, millet, rice, rye, sorghum, triticale and quinoa are also made into porridge.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Enjoy Tofu Fritters

    Some people wrinkle their noses at the suggestion of tofu. It’s bland, they say. But it’s only bland if you don’t know how to cook it. In a good recipe, tofu becomes healthy comfort food.

    So today’s tip is to try one of these recipes for tofu fritters—hot comfort food on a cold day. If you decide you like it, great: It’s an inexpensive, lower-calorie and earth-friendly source of protein.

    AGE TOFU

    Short for agedashi tofu and pronounced AH-gay DOE-foo (in transliteration, tofu is sometimes dofu), these hot tofu fritters have us hooked. Silken tofu is cut into cubes, which are lightly dusted with potato starch or cornstarch and deep fried until golden brown. The result is a crisp outside with a creamy, soft inside.

    The tofu is served with a hot tentsuyu broth (dashi, mirin and and soy sauce)—sometimes coming to the table in a pool of broth-like sauce, sometimes with the broth served on the side. The tofu arrives garnished with finely chopped green onion, grated daikon, dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and sometimes grated ginger.

    The tofu soaks up the broth, and along with the garnishes, becomes a complex layering of delicate flavors. If you like spicy, you can add shichimi togarashi, a blend of seven spices including hot red pepper (togarishi) and sansho pepper pods.

       

    agedashi-tofu-justonecookbook-230

    One of our favorite comfort foods: age tofu. Photo courtesy JustOneCookbook.com.

     

    This recipe is adapted from JustOneCookbook.com, where you can see the step-by-step preparation in photos. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.

    RECIPE: AGE TOFU (AGEDASHI TOFU)

    Ingredients For 3 Servings

  • 1 block (14 ounces) silken tofu/soft tofu
  • 4 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1 cup dashi stock (make it with dashi powder, available at Asian markets or online; use kombu dashi if vegetarian)
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • 1″ (2.5 cm) piece daikon radish, grated
  • 1 green onion/scallion, thinly sliced
  • Dried bonito flakes or grated ginger root
  • Optional: shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice)
  •  

    tofu_fritters-housefoods-230

    Alexander’s Tofu Fritters. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy House Foods

     

    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the tofu by wrapping it in 3-4 layers of paper towels and placing the block on a plate. Place a flat plate on top of the tofu for 15 minutes to squeeze the liquid out.

    2. CUT the green onion into thin slices. Peel and grate the daikon.

    3. ADD the dashi, soy sauce and mirin to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and set aside. Remove the tofu from the paper towels and cut tofu into 8 cubes.

    4. HEAT 1½ inch of the oil in a deep fryer to 350°F (175°C). Coat the tofu with potato starch/cornstarch and deep fry until the cubes turn light brown and crispy. Remove from the fryer with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil.

    5. PLACE the cubes in a shallow individual bowls and top with the garnishes. Pour the sauce into the dish or serve on the side.

     

    RECIPE: ALEXANDER’S TOFU FRITTERS

    This recipe is from Alexander Weiss, season one winner of “MasterChef Junior,” FOX’s hit cooking competition series for kids. Alexander makes tofu fritters with a different flavor profile: smoked paprika, chili flakes and red bell peppers.

    Ingredients

  • Canola or grapeseed oil for frying
  • 3 large red bell peppers
  • ½ package soft tofu, patted dry with paper towels
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons whole milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dash of smoked paprika
  • ½ cup fresh corn, stripped off the cob (or substituted drained canned/thawed frozen kernels)
  • 3 tablespoons sliced scallions, or chives
  • Pinch of chili flakes
  • Optional: dipping sauce
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT 3-4 inches of oil to 325°F in large pot or deep fryer.

    2. CHAR/BURN the skin of the peppers on all sides over a gas burner on high heat. Once done, cover the peppers in a heatproof bowl and set aside for 10 minutes to steam. Rub the peppers under cold water to remove the skin. Remove the core, seeds and white membrane and dice into small cubes. Set aside.

    3. MASH the tofu with fork in large bowl. Whisk to smooth the tofu; then mix in the baking powder and flour until well combined. Add the milk and beat until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Fold in corn, peppers, scallions and chili flakes with spatula.

    4. DROP the batter into the fryer using a 1½-inch ice cream scoop or two spoons. Fry for approximately 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season as needed with more salt and pepper, and serve with a dipping sauce.

    5. DIPPING SAUCE: We whisked the recipe ingredients—chili flakes, paprika and scallions, salt and pepper—plus a spoonful of tomato paste, into plain Greek yogurt.
     
    Find many more tofu recipes at House-Foods.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bone Broth

    Suddenly, everyone is talking about bone broth. Rich in nutrition, nourishing for body and soul, bone broth has long been used by cultures throughout the world for millennia, to sip straight or as cooking stock.

    Yes, bone broth is an alternative to stock, a flavorful liquid made by slowly simmering chicken or turkey bones, cartilage and tendons (with some bits of meat). The difference is that while stock can be made in three or four hours, bone broth is simmered for 24 hours or more, extracting the maximum amount of nutrition from the bones.

    Bone broth can be made from any type of animal bones, including fish. But Pacific Foods uses only the bones from organically raised, pastured or grass-fed animals. It is seasoned with onions, rosemary and apple cider vinegar.

    The Bone Broth is available in six delicious flavors:

  • Organic Bone Broth Chicken
  • Organic Bone Broth Chicken with Ginger
  • Organic Bone Broth Chicken with Lemongrass
  • Organic Bone Broth Chicken Original
  • Organic Bone Broth Turkey
  • Organic Bone Broth Turkey with Rosemary, Sage & Thyme
  •    

    chicken-lemongrass-bone-broth-pacificoraganics-230

    A quick hot drink as well as a cooking ingredient, Pacific’s Bone Broth comes in six varieties. Photo courtesy Pacific Foods.

     
    On a cold winter day like today, it more than hits the spot. And it’s a great base for leftovers: We variously added leftover barley, chicken, pasta, rice, shrimp and veggies to turn a cup of bone broth into a light meal.
     
    Sold in eight-ounce cartons, it is a hearty drink to sip it by the cup. Pour from the carton and enjoy instead of coffee or tea.

    Want to cook with it? It’s also sold in 32-ounce cartons. You can cook beans and legumes, pasta, rice and other grains in it for added protein and flavor, or use it as a base for soup. You can garnish plane bone broth with a splash of basil oil or chili oil.
     
    Why bone broth? Why now?

    According to a 2014 study by NDP Group, more than seven out of 10 consumers are looking to add more protein to their diets. With high protein, low calories and a myriad of reported wellness benefits, it’s in demand by health enthusiasts, Paleo diet practitioners and CrossFit-ers, many of whom have taken up the practice of making bone broth from scratch. (Want to make your own? Here’s a recipe. Note that we have seen comments that cage-raised chickens tend to produce stock that doesn’t gel as well. So try to find bones from organic or free-range poultry.)

     

    bone_broth-chicken-veg-wholesomeness.com.au-230

    Turn bone broth into a meal by adding proteins and vegetables. Photo courtesy Wholesomeness.com.au. Here’s their recipe for beef bone broth.

     

    THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF BONE BROTH

    Rich in amino acids and minerals and fat-free, the broth delivers 9 grams of protein per cup for only 355-40 calories. While the actual recipe simmers for days, you can enjoy this snack or first course in little more than 30 seconds.

    nourishing for both your body and your soul. If you’re fighting off a cold or the flu, homemade bone broth is excellent for speeding healing and recuperation from illness.

  • Digestion. The gelatin in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thus supporting proper digestion
  • Pain. Bone broth contains chondroitin sulfates and glucosamine—the components of joint pain pills—plus other compounds from the boiled down cartilage. They reduce joint pain and inflammation. The amino acids in bone broth—arginine, glycine and proline—also have anti-inflammatory effects
  • Bone Health. Bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium and other nutrients that help with healthy bone formation.
  •  

    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BROTH, BONE BROTH, STOCK & MORE

    If you’re wondering how bone broth fits into the broth pantheon that includes aspic, bouillon, consomme and stock, here’s the scoop:

    Broth. Broth is typically made with meat and can contain a small amount of bones. It is typically simmered for a far shorter period of time—45 minutes to 2 hours. The result is very light in flavor and thin in texture, although rich in protein.

    Aspic. Aspic is jellied broth made from meat or fish stock. It is refrigerated, where it becomes solid, like gelatin; then is cubed and used as a relish for meat, fish or vegetable dishes. Or, it is used as a filler mold that holds meat, fish or vegetables.

    Bouillon. Bouillon is a clear, thin broth made typically by simmering chicken or beef in water with seasonings. It can be consumed in this state, or used as a base for other dishes, sauces, etc. Bouillon can be made from mixed sources, e.g. chicken and vegetables. Bouillon (not to be confused with bouillon cubes) is a stock that is strained, and then served as a clear soup. It can be enhanced with other flavors—for example, sherry, herbs and spices—and this is the key difference between bouillon and plain broth.

    Stock. Stock is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat that adheres to the bones. The bones are often roasted before simmering, which improves the flavor. Stock is typically simmered for a longer time than broth, 3 to 4 hours. The result is rich in minerals and gelatin and more flavor than broth, extracted from the longer cooking time.

    Consommé. Consommé is a clear liquid made by clarifying stock for a more elegant presentation. Typically, egg whites are added to the stock; the cloudy particles in the stock attach themselves to the egg whites and rise to the surface, where they are skimmed off. The word means “consumed” or “finished” in French, indicating a more finished soup than a stock or a broth. In classic French cuisine, a bowl of consommé was often served at the beginning of a meal.

    Bone broth. Like stock, bone broth is typically is made with bones and the small amount of meat adhering to them. As with stock, bones are typically roasted first to improve the flavor of the broth. The key difference is that bone broth is simmered for a much longer time, 24 hours or more. This long cooking time helps to extract the maximum amount of minerals and other nutrients from the bones.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A New Soup & The History Of Soup

    It’s well below freezing in much of the country today: a good day to focus on soup.

    Every culture makes soup. It’s easy, filling and nutritious, and can be inexpensive. In much of the world it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    January is National Soup Month. Rather than fall back on your favorites today, discover something new. Start with our delicious Soup Glossary, featuring many different types of soups.

    Then, check out our soup garnishes: ways to add flavor and excitement to your soup.

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF SOUP

    Mankind is up to 200,000 years old. For the majority of our existence, we have had no soup.

    The earliest humans had no cookware—nothing to boil water (or anything else) in. Boiling was not easy to do until the invention of waterproof containers, probably pouches made of clay or animal skin, about 9,000 years ago. One of the first types of soups can dates to about 6,000 B.C.E.—some 8,000 years ago.

    Our word soup comes from French soupe, which derived from Vulgar Latin suppa, from the post-classical Latin verb suppare, to soak. This indicated bread soaked in broth, or a liquid poured onto a piece of bread. The bread added heft to the meal.

       

    Choabani

    Since its beginnings, soup was a poor man’s
    dinner. The name of the meal evolved to
    souper, than supper. Red lentil soup from
    Chobani | Soho.

     

    reggiano-soup-230

    Soup gets its name from “sop,” the piece of bread regularly added to sop up the soup. Photo courtesy ParmigianoReggiano.com.

     

    In Germanic languages, the word sop referred to a piece of bread used to soak up soup or stew. The word entered the English language in the seventeenth century exactly as that: soup pored over “sops” of bread or toast (which evolved into croutons). Prior to then, soups were called broth or pottage. The bread or toast served as an alternative to using a spoon.

    Today’s soup croutons evolved from sops.

    While the rich enjoyed elaborate soups, basic soup was a poor man’s dinner. Until recent times, the evening meal was the lighter of the two meals of the day; a soup or sop would be a typical evening dish. The name of the meal evolved to souper, than supper.

    It began to be fashionable to serve the liquid broth without the sop (bread), and in the early eighteenth century, soup became a first course.
     

    EATING VS. DRINKING SOUP

    Since it’s a liquid, why do we “eat” soup rather than “drink” soup?

    Because it’s served in a dish. If you consume it from a mug or cup, then you can be deemed to be drinking your soup.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Switch Up That Sandwich With Fusion Condiments

    You may love ham and Swiss cheese on rye with mustard, or a chicken sandwich with mayo on whole wheat toast. These sandwich and condiment pairings descend from the venerable English tradition of the sandwich (here’s the history of sandwiches).

    But it’s a new year, so how about a new approach? How about a chicken katsu sandwich served with pickled daikon, arugula and tonkatsu aïoli (garlic mayo mixed with tonkatsu sauce, also delicious with fries). It was on the menu at Sushi Samba’s Coral Gables, Florida location.

    Or, make a ham or chicken sandwich with spicy Asian peanut sauce, satay-style. Or a turkey sandwich with hoisin sauce and green onions, Peking Duck-style.

    Curried tuna and egg salads seem like something from your grandmother’s generation, and they were early fusion. Punch it up by adding chutney, as well.

    Today’s tip: Look at the ingredients you have in your fridge and pantry for:

  • Chutney
  • Hoisin sauce
  •    

    beef-grilled-tri-tip-doubleRranch-230

    Instead of mustard on a steak sandwich, go fusion with wasabi mayonnaise or green sriracha sauce. Photo courtesy Double Ranch.

  • Sriracha, including the splendid new green sriracha we reviewed recently
  • Wasabi
  •  
    Mix them into conventional spreads—mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream, Greek yogurt—or directly spread them onto sandwiches with conventional fillings.

    Don’t forget the kimchi or pickled jalapeños!

    Get inspiration from the many types of sandwiches in our delicious Sandwich Glossary. And tell us what your favorite new combination is.

     

    chicken-katsu-sandwich-sushisasmbaFB-230

    It looks like a regular chicken sandwich and fries. Look more closely! Photo courtesy SushiSamba | Coral Gables.

     

    WHAT IS FUSION CUISINE?

    According to an article in Nation’s Restaurant News, Florida chef Norman Van Aken claims to have coined the term in the late 1980s, writing a treatise on the subject in late 1988 or early 1989. In it, he described how he incorporated the flavors and dishes of the Caribbean with European cooking techniques and traditions.

    He wanted to salvage the vibrant Caribbean flavors of old Key West by fusing them—his words—with contemporary American cuisine. The idea was a cornerstone of the “Floribbean” cuisine that emerged in South Florida, developed by Van Aken, Allen Susser, Mark Militello and Douglas Rodriguez, among others. Even before then, we remember a French restaurant that used Japanese ingredients in New York City (alas, long closed).

    Fine dining pioneers like these began to evolve American cuisine 1990s, crossing their French culinary training with global ingredients. It led to fusion dishes like wasabi mashed potatoes, served at top restaurants, down to the barbecue chicken pizza, Thai pizza and numerous other fusions at California Pizza Kitchen.

    Fusion is alive and well in more recent creations like cronuts, Korean tacos, ramen burgers and Thanksgiving tortillas (turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce rolled in a tortilla). The younger generations may thing of fusion as culinary mash-ups.

     
    Whatever you cook this year, look to fusion for fresh new flavors.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Switch To Olive Oil

    Here’s a New Year’s resolution that isn’t tough to keep: Switch from olive oil to butter for your everyday fat.

    You’ve been hearing it for 10 years: olive oil is a heart healthy fat. Here’s what the Harvard School Of Public Health has to say:

    It’s time to end the low-fat myth. That’s because the percentage of calories from fat that you eat, whether high or low, isn’t really linked with disease. What really matters is the type of fat you eat.

  • Choose foods with healthy fats, limit foods high in saturated fat, and avoid foods with trans fat.
  • “Good” fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—lower disease risk. Foods high in good fats include vegetable oils (such as olive, canola, sunflower, soy, and corn), nuts, seeds and fish.
  • “Bad” fats—saturated and, especially, trans fats—increase disease risk. Foods high in bad fats include red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream, as well as processed foods made with trans fat from partially hydrogenated oil.
  • And if you have lactose sensitivity, remember that butter is dairy.

       

    Olive_Oil_vs_Butter_Olive-OilEmporium-230

    The choice is yours, but make the right choice. Photo courtesy Olive Oil Emporium.

     

    In 2004, the FDA allowed this health claim:

    “Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.”

    Last year, researchers at Glasgow University in Scotland suggested that two teaspoons (20 ml) per day of extra virgin olive oil for 6 weeks “would be enough to see beneficial effects for the heart.”

     

    olive-oil-bread-loaf-flavoryourlife-230

    Dip bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter. Use a more flavorful EVOO, and add seasonings—herbs, pepper, salt, spices—as well as a splash of balsamic vinegar if you like. Photo courtesy FlavorYourLife.com.

     

    NUTRITIONAL COMPARISON: OLIVE OIL VS. BUTTER

  • Butter: 100 calories per tablespoon, 12 grams fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 3 grams monounsaturated fat. 31mg cholesterol, 82 mg sodium.
  • Olive Oil: 120 calories per tablespoon, 14 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fats, 12 grams healthy fats, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium.
  •  
    Breads, eggs, grains, meat and poultry, popcorn and just about anything cooked with butter can all be cooked in, or accented with, heart-healthy oils instead.

    If you miss the flavor of butter, transition away from it by cooking in oil and finishing the dish by adding a small amount of butter at the end.

    You don’t need to cook with extra virgin olive oil: The heat destroys the delicate flavors that you pay for. Instead of EVOO, look to virgin olive oil or what is known as ordinary olive oil—the major supermarket brands like Bertolli and Filippo Berio. Here are the different grades of olive oil.

    Do, however, use EVOO as a garnish: toss it with pasta, rice and vegetables; use it as a bread dipper. Select olive oils with the flavor profile you prefer—fruity, herbal, peppery, etc. (Alas, since flavor information is rarely on the label, you need to experiment or get recommendations from your retailer.)

    Use the appropriate grade of olive oil for different types of food preparation.

     

    WHAT ABOUT BAKING?

    We use butter for cakes and cookies, because our palate wants butteriness in those foods. But, as everyone who follows the cake mix directions to mix the dry ingredients with olive oil, oils work just fine. Unless you want the flavor of olive oil (Italian olive oil cakes are delicious!), use a neutral oil like canola.

    While you won’t get buttery flavor with oil, it does produce a moist cake, which tends to be be lighter and taller than a cake made with butter. The texture is is a bit more coarse and the crumb is more open (less dense).

    Butter produces shorter, more compact cakes, with a finer texture and a smaller crumb due. The texture will be a bit creamier, and of course it sports that rich, buttery taste.

    Here’s a conversion chart for baking, courtesy of Castillo de Piñar, which has many tips for cooking with olive oil:
    butter-olive-oil-conversion-chart-castillodepinar

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pita Tartine

    With the goal of eating lighter, we love this idea from Ozery Bakery: the pita tartine.

    Tartine is the French term for an open-face sandwich. In this version, Ozery piles on the healthful ingredients: black beans, radishes, grape tomatoes, red onions, greens and guacamole.

    You can add:

  • Fruit: thinly-sliced apples, figs, pears
  • Greens: arugula, baby spinach, fresh herbs, mesclun mix, shredded lettuce, watercress
  • Proteins: beans; flaked tuna; diced or shredded chicken, ham or prosciutto; seafood (use up your leftovers!), shredded cheese
  • Vegetables: grilled, sautéed and/or pickled
  •  
    For a spread, hummus adds protein; a slick of chipotle mayonnaise adds kick.
     
    You can slice the pita in half horizontally for even less bread, or use a wrap. Then, roll and enjoy!

    Family-owned Ozery Bakery started 15 years ago, its delicious products making their way to the U.S. in recent years. It was a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, and continues to be a favorite here.

     

    pita-tartines-ozery-230r

    Fetchingly delicious: turn your sandwich into art. Photo courtesy Ozery.

     
    For more information, or to find a retailer near you, visit OzeryBakery.com.

    Here are more tartine sandwich ideas.

      

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