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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

cauliflower-mac-and-cheese-michaelsymon-castello-230

Forget the pasta: This “mac and cheese”
substitutes better-for-you cauliflower. Photo
courtesy Castello.

 

Chef Michael Symon has a solution for mac and cheese lovers who want to cut back on the pasta: Substitute cauliflower for the pasta.

For some time now, cauliflower “mashed potatoes” have been a favorite substitute for mashed potatoes: lower in calories, higher in nutrition.

In this recipe, Chef Symon does a vegetable-for-starch switch with macaroni.

His recipe has the creamy cheesiness of mac and cheese (Chef Symon uses used Castello Creamy Havarti), the crunchiness of the bread crumbs, extra cruciferous* vegetables in your diet and and delicious comfort food with reduced calories.

Make it tonight!

RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER MAC & CHEESE

Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup mascarpone (if you cannot find it, cream cheese will work in a pinch)
  • 1 cup havarti
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • ½ cup chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the florets to the water and cook until tender but still crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry. Set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler to high. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a 2-quart Dutch oven† over medium heat. Add the cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce to the pot and bring it to simmer. (Chef Symon used 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, but adjust the seasonings to your liking.) Reduce the cream by 1/3, about 3 minutes.

    3. WHISK in the mascarpone and havarti and stir to incorporate. When the cheese is melted and incorporated, keep the sauce at a simmer. The sauce will be slightly thickened at this point.

     

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn it into “mac and cheese.” Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    4. ADD the cauliflower and chives, stirring well to coat the cauliflower. Pour into an ovenproof dish; then top with the bread crumbs, sprinkling them in an even layer. Place the dish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the broiler and let set for 5 minutes before serving.

     
    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the cruciferous family from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” Their flowers consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!

    †Also called a French oven, a Dutch oven is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid. It is usually made of cast iron. In France it is called a cocotte, the French word for casserole.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Havarti, A Great Melting Cheese

    havarti-danishblue-emmirothusa-230

    A tower of regular and flavored havartis. Photo courtesy Emmi Roth USA.

     

    Americans love cheese: atop pizza, on burgers, in mac and cheese. But most of us don’t know that havarti, a Danish cow’s milk cheese, is a great melter as well as a table cheese.

    The semisoft, rindless cheese with small eyes is popular as a table cheese and a sandwich cheese. Now, get to know it as a recipe cheese.

    We actually know who created havarti: Hanne Nielsen, who operated an experimental farm called Havarthigaard, north of Copenhagen, in the latter half of the 19th century. She kept it close, though; havarti was not introduced commercially until around 1920.

    With its buttery aroma and flavor, the cheese was a hit. As it ages, it becomes saltier and nutty, with a slightly crumbly texture.

    Havarti pairs well with beer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and light-bodied Pinot Noir.

    If you like havarti, also try Danish tilsit, also known as tilsit havarti. It’s a more intensely flavorful version of havarti, but milder than German tilsit.

     
    Like havarti, tilsit is a good melter, excellent on regular and grilled sandwiches, burgers, and delightful melted over potatoes and other vegetables.

    We recommend that you avoid a product called cream havarti, which may sound tempting but isn’t. It’s made from ultrapasteurized milk to raise yields. The process produces more cheese, but alters the taste and texture.
     
    FLAVORED HAVARTI

    Havarti blends beautifully with other flavors. As a result, there’s a wealth of flavored havartis: basil, caraway, chive, coconut, cranberry, dill, garlic jalapeño and red pepper, among others.

    Beyond the cheese plate, how should you serve havarti? For starters, use it instead of other cheeses in your favorite recipes.

     

    WAYS TO USE HAVARTI

  • Breads: Use havarti to make cheese bread, biscuits and muffins.
  • Cocktails: Skewer cubes of havarti as a garnish for Bloody Marys and Martinis. Try caraway or dill havarti.
  • Crostini: Crunchy crostini are a perfect medium for melted or unmelted havarti. While most crostini are savory, for a delicious snack or dessert use plain havarti with sour cherry preserves or Nutella.
  • Grilled cheese and other sandwiches: With regular or flavored havarti. Try plain havarti with Nutella!
  • Fondue: It’s especially fun with flavored havarti.
  • Ravioli: Fill cheese ravioli with havarti in any flavor. Chef Michael Symon makes “Reuben ravioli” with corned beef and caraway havarti.
  • Other cheese dishes: Use havarti in casseroles, gratins, mac and cheese. Consider flavored havarti for even more flavor.
  •  

    crostini-beer-castellohavarti-230

    Havarti crostini with beer. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     
    Find recipes at CastelloCheese.com, whose delicious, award-winning havartis—plain and flavored—are available in food stores nationwide.
     
    Have a great time cooking with havarti!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Green (Pesto) Lasagna For Spring

    pesto-asparagus-lasagna-liguria-eatalychicago-230

    “Green” lasagna, made with pesto and spring asparagus. Photo
    courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    Have you ever had green lasagna? We order lasagna every time we see it on a menu, trying to find one that’s better than Mom’s (which has only been bested once). We find them with the mainstay tomato-meat sauce, southern Italian-style; and with béchamel, a white sauce preferred in Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna (and preferred by us).

    But in Liguria, the home* of basil, they use pesto for the sauce, creating a green lasagna.

    While basil is available year-round, take advantage of the spring harvest and make a green lasagna with other spring treats: asparagus, fava beans, fiddleheads, morels, ramps, and of course, green lasagna noodles instead of the conventional white.

    Here’s a recipe from chef Mario Batali, an owner of the Italian food experience that is Eataly. In Italian the recipe is called Lasagne al Pesto con Asparagi: Lasagna with Asparagus and Pesto (and anything else you want to add).

     
    In this recipe, Chef Batali makes four personal lasaganas in gratin dishes, instead of one large, rectangular casserole as shown in the photos.
     
    *Basil may actually be native to India, where it has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years.
     
    RECIPE: ASPARAGUS & PESTO LASAGNA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound asparagus, medium-sized
  • 20 fresh lasagna sheets
  • 2 cups besciamella (béchamel, recipe below)
  • 1 cup pesto (recipe below)
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Sardo† cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  •  
    For The Pesto Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  •  
    †Pecorino sardo, also known as fiore sardo, is a firm cheese sheep’s milk cheese from the Italian island of Sardinia. It’s sold at Eataly; but if you can’t get it, use Pecorino Romano instead. Here are the main Italian grating cheeses.

     

     
    For The Besciamella

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the pesto. In a large stone mortar, combine the pine nuts, basil, garlic and salt and grind with a pestle until it forms a paste. Add the cheeses and drizzle in the olive oil, beating with a wooden spoon. This can be made in advance and stored in a tightly-capped jar in the fridge, topped off with a layer of extra virgin olive oil.

    2. BRING 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Set up an ice bath next to the boiling water. Boil the asparagus for one minute. Remove the asparagus, retaining the water in the pot, and refresh in an ice bath. Remove the asparagus from the ice bath, drain well, cut into ½-inch to 1-inch pieces on a bias and set aside.

     

    pesto-lasagna-eatalychicago-230

    Pesto lasagna is sold by the piece at Eataly. Photo courtesy Eataly | Chicago.

     

    3. DROP the lasagna sheets into the same boiling water as the asparagus. Cook one minute until tender. (If using dried lasagna, cook according to package directions.) Remove and refresh in the ice bath. Drain on towels and set aside.

    4. MAKE the besciamella. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat until light golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile…

    5. HEAT the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth and bring to a boil. Cook 30 seconds and remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg and set aside.

    6. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F.

    7. ASSEMBLE the lasagne. In a mixing bowl, stir the besciamella and pesto together until well combined. Butter 4 gratin dishes and place one piece of 5-inch pasta on the bottom of each one.

    8. TOP the pasta with some pieces of asparagus, followed by 2 tablespoons of pesto, followed by another piece of pasta. Continue with this layering until you have 4 pieces of pasta and 4 layers of asparagus and pesto mixture. Lay one more piece of pasta on top, followed by a spoonful of pesto mixture and sprinkle each of the 4 gratin dishes with bread crumbs and the Pecorino Sardo.

    9. PLACE all 4 dishes in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown on top. Remove and serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Different Egg Dishes

    frittata-applegate-230r

    A frittata, made on the stove top and
    finished in the oven or under the broiler.
    Photo courtesy Applegate Natural &
    Organic Meats.

     

    You can have your breakfast eggs baked in a nest, boiled, fried, poached or scrambled or stuffed.

    You can make breakfast burritos and pizzas, Eggs Benedict and a library of other egg dishes.

    Which brings us to today’s tip: the differences among the egg casserole, frittata, omelet, quiche, strata and torta/tortilla.

    OMELET

    The simplest of this group of egg dishes, an omelet consists of beaten eggs mixed with a small amount of cream, milk or water. The mixture is cooked in an omelet pan until set, then folded around a pre-warmed filling (see “inclusions” in the Casserole section), cooked a minute more and served.

    An omelet pan is important to success. A shallow pan with sloped edges, it can vary in diameter.

    For those who don’t make omelets enough to develop the technique to flip, there’s a hinged omelet pan.

    Omelette is the French spelling. It evolved from the earlier amelette and alemelle, literally a thin plate, from the Latin lamella.
     
    CASSEROLE

    A casserole is a beaten egg dish with inclusions, that is baked in the oven.

    “Inclusions” are anything else you want to include in addition to the eggs: bacon, ham or sausage; cheese; herbs; and any number of vegetables, such as asparagus, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, spinach and summer squash. Toss in leftover veggies, too, like carrots, peas and edamame.

     
    It is the easiest of these egg dishes to make, since it requires no flipping. Just put the ingredients in a casserole dish and bake until ready. See the photo below.

    The word origin is French, from casse, a small saucepan, derived from the Medieval Latin cattia, crucible, a metal container for heating substances to high temperatures.
     
    FRITTATA

    A frittata is an Italian-style omelet, often cooked in a large pan to create multiple portions. Like the rest of the egg dishes featured here, it can have a variety of inclusions; some Italian cooks also include leftover pasta.

    All of the ingredients are cooked at once on the stove top. The frittata is then flipped. (If you don’t like to flip—it takes practice to do it well—then make a casserole.)

    Unlike an omelet, a frittata is not folded; the inclusions are cooked with the eggs, not a separate filling (see the photo above). The frittata is typically finished in the oven or under the broiler.

    The result is dense like a crustless quiche, which is cut and served in wedges. It can be eaten hot or cold, as can the strata and torta (the later is often served as tapas).

    The word comes from the Italian fritto, fried.

     

    STRATA & TORTA

    A strata is cooked on the stovetop and flipped in the pan; then, like a frittata, finished under a broiler or salamander.

    The Spanish torta or tortilla is similar, but always includes sliced potatoes (an option with a strata) cooked in olive oil, and is not finished under a broiler.

    Strata means layer in Italian; “torta” is the Spanish word for cake and some regions use the diminutive tortilla. Before the 16th century, before the availability of sugar in Europe (it originated on the Indian subcontinent and was affordable only by the wealthy until the 18th century), cake often referred to a savory dish.

    A tip: instead of stove top, you can cook the whole thing from scratch in a springform pan. This doesn’t work for a casserole, which is not as solid in consistency (see photo at right).

     
    QUICHE

    A quiche is a savory baked custard pie, made with cream and eggs to achieve a delicate custard texture. It is cooked in a pie shell, although if you don’t want the carbs, you can make a crustless quiche in a pie plate.

     

    egg-bake-kraft-230

    A strata, also called a casserole and an egg bake. Photo courtesy Kraft.

     

    A quiche includes cheese, as well as other ingredients: bacon or ham, seafood (crab, lobster, shrimp), vegetables (leeks, mushrooms and spinach are popular).

    The French word was derived from the German Küche, a diminutive of the word for cake, Küchen.
     
     
    You’ve got a couple of days to research recipes and decide what you’d like to cook for Mother’s Day.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Use More Fresh Herbs

    asian-basil-siam-queen_bonnieplants-230-L

    Asian cooks add basil to summer rolls. Add
    them to your own wraps and sandwiches.
    Photo courtesy Bonnie Plants.

     

    The first week in May is National Herb Week, a time to focus on using more fresh herbs in your cooking.

    Fresh herbs offer tons of flavor and good nutrition with virtually no calories. The flavor they provide lets you cut back on salt. They can be used in any savory dish (and some sweet ones).

    So, why not use more fresh herbs?

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HERBS & SPICES

    The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are important differences.

  • Herbs are the leaves of a plant (although stems may also be used). They grow in any climate warm enough to grow vegetables.
  • Spices are from the seeds, roots, fruit or bark, and typically used in dried form. Most originate in tropical or semi-tropical regions.
  •  
    It’s possible for one plant to contain both herb and spice. For example:

  • The coriander plant’s leaves are the herb cilantro, while coriander seeds are a spice in their own right.
  • Dill weed, an herb, and dill seed, a spice, come from the same plant.
  •  

    TIPS FOR COOKING WITH FRESH HERBS

  • Remove any twiggy, wiry or woody parts of the herb. Unless the recipe specifies otherwise, you can chop up soft stems. At any rate, don’t throw them away: They add deliciousness to soups and stews.
  • Avoid over-chopping herbs into teeny pieces. The diameter should measure between 1/8 and 1/4 inches.
  • Strip the leaves off of rosemary branches, but don’t throw the branches away. Freeze them for when you need a skewers. Cut the bottom at an angle to better skewer the food.
  • Plant some basic herbs; they grow well indoors and outdoors. For starters, plant basil, parsley, spearmint and English thyme. Avoid pre-planted pots that contain an assortment of herbs; their need for water varies.
  • Use flat-leaf (Italian) parsley for cooked dishes: It’s more strongly flavored than curly leaf parsley.
  • Add delicate herbs (basil, dill) to a hot recipe towards the end of cooking.
  •  
    Converting Dry Measures For Fresh Herbs

    In recipes, if dried herbs are specified, a larger quantity of fresh herbs is required. Here’s are the equivalents:

  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried herbs
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground dried herbs
  • 1 tablespoon finely cut fresh herbs
  •  

    EVERYDAY USES FOR FRESH HERBS

  • Breakfast: A must in omelets, frittatas and baked egg dishes.
  • Lunch: Add punch to grain salads, green salads and protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna, etc.). Place a few basil leaves in a sandwich or wrap. Garnish soups with fresh-snipped herbs.
  • Dinner: Add herbs to everything you cook! Just a few: Toss cooked pasta, rice and other grains with flat-leaf parsley. Add dill to roasted vegetables. Snip chives onto baked potatoes and vinaigrettes.
  • All Meals: Sprinkle or snip herbs as garnishes for just about everything. If your herbs blossom, use the blossoms as well.
  •  
    POPULAR HERB & FOOD PAIRINGS

  • Basil: pasta sauce, peas, pesto, tomatoes, zucchini
  • Chives: dips, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Cilantro: salsa, tomatoes, plus many Asian, Caribbean and Mexican dishes
  • Dill: carrots, cottage cheese, fish, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Mint: carrots, desserts, fruit salad, parsley, peas, tabouli, tea
  • Oregano: peppers, tomatoes
  •  

    chive-blossoms-moreguefile-230

    When herbs blossom, like these chive blossoms, don’t cut and toss them. They’re beautiful plate garnishes. Photo courtesy Morguefile.

  • Parsley: egg salad and other protein salads, potato salad and other vegetable salads, tabouli, sandwiches
  • Rosemary: chicken, fish, lamb, pork, roasted potatoes, soups, stews, tomatoes
  • Thyme: eggs, lima and other beans, potatoes, poultry, summer squash, tomatoes
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream Bar

    How about a make-your-own-sundae ice cream and/or sorbet bar for Mother’s Day?

    It’s easy to put together. The biggest challenge is how to keep the ice cream cold on a buffet table. We use a punch bowl filled with ice, and nestle pints into the ice.

    Use a hot plate to keep caramel and chocolate sauces warm.

    Then, make these decisions:

    SELECT THE ICE CREAM

    For a group of 8, we recommend four pints of ice cream and/or frozen yogurt. If your group includes people who avoid dairy, make one or two of them sorbet. Easy decisions:

  • Chocolate ice cream/yogurt
  • Vanilla ice cream/yogurt
  • Mango sorbet
  • Raspberry sorbet
  •    

    pretzel-sundae-smuckersFB-230

    The most fun dessert: make your own sundae. Photo courtesy Smucker’s.

     

    SELECT THE DRY TOPPINGS

    Easy decisions:

  • Candies: M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, toffee bits
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts
  • Sliced strawberries
  •  
    For a more elaborate offering, consider brownie cubes, crushed almond nougat or peanut brittle, mini meringues and other favorites.

    Consider if your guests are the types who’d want maraschino cherries as the crown on the sundae. We prefer these Bahlsen Waffeletten, rolled waffle cookies dipped in milk or dark chocolate.

     

    ice-cream-party-bar-theinspiredroom.net-230

    The Inspired Room knows how to do it up right. They pre-pack the ice cream into hinged jars and keep them cold in a tub of ice. For neatness, the sauces go into syrup dispensers. Check out their article on the topic. Photo courtesy The Inspired Room.

     

    SAUCES

    Easy decisions:

  • Chocolate/fudge
  • Raspberry or strawberry sauce/purée (for the sorbet)
  • Salted caramel
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    SERVEWARE

    You may need to borrow some extra ice cream scoops, or use serving spoons.

    Use whatever dishes you have: bowls, mason jars, wine glasses or the easiest option, 9-ounce hard plastic party cups.

    Check out these hinged-lid storage jars. A set of 12 is $48, which is a reasonable investment if you’re planning on summer entertaining.
     
    Send us your ice cream party tips!

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grow Your Own Stevia

    Stevia is a sweet herb from South America, 20 to 30 times sweeter than sugar cane. Yet, it has no calories. It’s been a boon to many people who want a calorie-free sweetener but don’t want the chemically-derived aspartame (Equal), saccharine (Sweet ‘n Low) or sucralose (Splenda).

    (Check out the different sugar substitutes.)

    A wholesome alternative to processed sugar and chemically-derived sweeteners, Stevia is becoming more and more popular among health-conscious individuals.

    The plant Stevia rebaudiana has been used for more than 1,500 years by the Guaraní peoples of South America. For hundreds of years, it has been used in Brazil and Paraguay to sweeten teas and medicines, and to chew as a sweet treat.

    It came of notice to Europeans in 1899, when Swiss botanist Moisés Santiago Bertoni, conducting research in Paraguay, first described the plant and the sweet taste in detail. He named the genus in honor of the Spanish botanist and physician Petrus Jacobus Stevus (Pedro Jaime Esteve, 1500–1556).

       

    stevia_rebaudiana_wiki-230

    The sweet leaves of Stevia rebaudiana. Photo courtesy
    Wikimedia.

     

    Stevia is also known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf and sugarleaf. It is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), which includes:

  • Other food products, including artichokes, coffee substitutes, herbal teas, lettuce, sunflower seeds and cooking oil.
  • Flowers such as chrysanthemums, dahlias, daisies, marigolds and zinnias.
  •  

    stevia-sweetleaf-potted-burpee-230

    Grow your own pot of stevia. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    GROW YOUR OWN

    Stevia is an easy care plant that grows well indoors in a sunny window (and in the garden, of course), yielding small white blossoms in summer.

    You can dry and grind the leaves into a powdered sugar substitute. Or, do what the South Americans have been doing for generations: Pluck a leaf from the plant and drop it into your hot or cold beverage.

    You can also use it like a bay leaf to sweeten dishes as they cook.

    You can buy the seeds from Burpee.

    The plant reaches maturity, 12-20 inches, in 40-60 days.

    Or, you can buy plants that are already growing. Here’s one online source.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mexican Cheese Course

    We’ve been asked how to put together a cheese plate for Cinco de Mayo. Truth to tell, Mexico’s signature cheeses, from fresh to aged, are white cheeses made for cooking. They’re not intended to be nibbled during cocktail hour or as a cheese course.

    To learn about Mexican cheeses for cooking, read our article, Cooking With Hispanic Cheese.

    For a cheese course, we have three recommendations. You can serve one or all:

  • Panela. A fresh cow’s milk cheese, queso panela is used for snacking and in recipes. Similar in taste and texture to mozzarella, it’s commonly served with fruit. You can get creative and toss cubes of panela in a fruit salad or with berries, or serve it with bread or crackers and a light white wine.
  • Queso Criollo. This semi-hard yellow cheese is similar to Munster, but not easy to find in the U.S. If you want to be flexible, substitute a Monterey Jack made with jalapeño or other chile, and a hearty red wine.
  •  

    manchego-membrillo-thebestspanishrecipes-230

    Creative presentation: wedges of Manchego cheese topped with wedges of membrillo and a sprinkling of chili powder. Photo courtesy The Best Spanish Recipes.

  • Manchego. The famous sheep’s milk cheese from Spain (the breed of sheep is manchega) is also popular in Mexico, served for dessert with dulce de membrillo (quince paste*) and marcona almonds†. The cheese can be aged from six months to two years; the older the cheese, the more complex. Serve it with Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine.
  •  
    We’re already getting hungry for this cheese plate!
     
    *Quince paste, often made in a loaf form, is a sweet, thick, jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit. It is sliced and served with the cheese.

    †Marcona almonds, imported from Spain, are a variety of sweet almond. They’re slightly shorter and plumper in appearance compared to the almonds typically found in U.S. markets. But you can serve any raw or roasted almonds with manchego or any cheeses.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Artisan Chips For Cinco De Mayo

    original-bag-on-chips-230

    A line of chips made from the best-available ingredients. Photo courtesy Cabo Chips.

     

    If you’re having tortilla chips on Cinco de Mayo, celebrate with a better chip. We received a sample of Cabo Chips, and the toughest part has been restraining ourselves so there are still chips left on May 5th.

    Cabo Chips were born during a beach vacation to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico. Created by a college student who set out to make “the best,” these are artisan chips. The company actually grinds whole corn kernels, makes tortillas, and cuts and batch-fries them into the chips.

    The seasonings are top drawer, too: fresh lime juice, sea salt, powdered mango (not “mango flavor”), organic cinnamon and sugar. You’ll taste the difference: fresh and natural.

    There are currently four flavors:

  • Original, with delicious corn flavor.
  • Blue Corn, ditto, with a hint of lime.
  • Churro, with a light touch of organic cinnamon and sugar, for a sweeter chip that can be paired with ice cream for a riff on buñuelo.
  • Mango Lime, tangy, fun and, we believe, the only mango chip out there.
  • Ancient Grain launches in June, a complex blend of teff, chia and amaranth with sea salt and lime.
  •  

    The line is certified kosher by KSA, gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan and whole grain.

    If you can’t find Cabo Chips locally, you can buy them online at CaboChips.com, in 1.5-ounce snack packs and 5.5-ounce bags.

    WHY BLUE CORN IS BETTER FOR YOU

    Long ago, we bought our first bag of blue corn chips because we were attracted to the color, and then the naturally sweeter flavor. Much later, we learned that blue corn was better for you than white or yellow corn.

    Blue corn-based foods were originally developed by the Hopi natives of Arizona and New Mexico, who bred the blue corn. Blue corn is actually regular yellow corn that has a high level of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that give the corn (and blackberries, blueberries, etc.) its blue hue.

  • Blue corn contains 20% more protein and has a lower glycemic index than white corn.
  • It is a more complete protein source than white or yellow corn.
  • The anthocyanins metabolize toxins, inhibit DNA damage, reduce inflammation, metabolize carcinogens and more.
  •  

    THE HISTORY OF TORTILLA CHIPS

    Surprisingly, tortilla chips are not a traditional Mexican food. They were first popularized and mass produced in southwestern Los Angeles in the late 1940s by Rebecca Webb Carranza, who, with her husband, owned a Mexican deli and tortilla factory.

    Misshapen tortillas were rejected from the tortilla manufacturing machine, so Ms. Carranza turned them into snack chips. She cut them into triangles, fried them and sold them in snack-size bags.

    Needless to say, they sold well and became a popular appetizer in California’s Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants. They expanded across the U.S. in a big way in the late 1970s, with the growth of Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants. They replaced corn chips like Fritos as America’s favorite corn chip* snack.

    And yes, they made their way to Mexico.

     
    *The main difference between the two types of chip is that a tortilla chip is cut from a whole tortilla. A corn chip is corn meal that is processed into a particular shape.

     

    blue-corn-on-chips-230

    Why is blue corn better for you? See the explanation above. Photo courtesy Cabo Chips.

     
    OUR TOP 10 FAVORITE WAYS TO USE TORTILLA CHIPS

    Some are obvious, some are new:

  • With dips: guacamole, salsa, queso and others.
  • With soups, as a garnish or on the side instead of crackers.
  • As a base for canapés, topped with cheese, meats, spreads, etc.
  • Crushed or pulsed into a gluten-free crust or coating for chicken and fish or pork†.
  • Crumbled into omelets, used instead of tortilla strips with migas, or served as
    an egg dish side with salsa.
  • As a casserole topping.
  • As a meatloaf filler or in stuffing.
  • As a salad garnish.
  • Nachos and nacho dogs: hot dogs topped with shredded cheese, salsa and crumbled nachos.
  • With ice cream, especially sweeter flavors; or plain chips with a drizzle of honey.
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    Have we left out your favorite uses? Let us know!
     
    †A great use for the broken pieces! Shake ‘n Bake was created to use Kraft’s supply of cereal crumbs.

    ‡Pulse in a food processor into a flour.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Turkey Chorizo

    Love spicy sausage but have been told to avoid the cholesterol? How about turkey chorizo?

    Made by family-run Diestel Turkey Ranch, it has lots of flavor and less calories, cholesterol and sodium* than conventional pork or beef chorizo.

    Whether in a Cinco de Mayo recipe or everyday breakfast burritos or scrambled eggs, it has only 2g fat per serving.

    The all-natural, Mexican-style chorizo is made from 100% pure ground turkey, is minimally processed and is gluten free. The family’s seasoning blend adds dimensions of flavor as well as a spicy kick.

    The Diestel Family Turkey Ranch has been sustainably raising turkeys for over four generations. Their turkeys and turkey products are humanely raised on GAP rated farms, without hormones, antibiotics or growth stimulants, resulting in tender and juicier turkeys with old-fashioned flavor and great texture.

    The products are sold at independent, natural and upscale food stores nationwide. Here’s a store locator.
     
    *A two-ounce serving has 60 calories, 15 from fat; 0g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, 360mg sodium, 2g diegary fiber, 8g protein.

    MEXICAN CHORIZO VS. SPANISH CHORIZO

       

    diestel-turkey-ranch-chorizo-230r

    Turkey chorizo, cholesterol free. Photo courtesy Diestel Turkey Ranch.

     
    Don’t confuse Mexican- and Spanish-style chorizos. They have different uses.

    Mexican chorizo is a spicy ground meat sausage, sold fresh and uncooked. It can be purchased either loose or in a casing: Many traditional Mexican recipes call for the chorizo casing to be removed and the meat to be crumbled while cooking.

    The traditional chorizo meat is pork, but you can find beef and turkey versions. Use Mexican-style chorizo as you would any ground meat.

    Spanish chorizo is a cured, dried, ready-to-eat pork sausage. The casing is not removed prior to eating. Dense and chewy, Spanish-style chorizo is made in smoked, unsmoked, sweet and spicy varieties. It can be served as tapas, with other charcuterie, with a cheese plate, or added to recipes (paellas, soups, tortas, etc).

    Spanish chorizo is seasoned with smoked paprika, which is responsible for the vibrant color. Other traditional herbs and spices include cumin and garlic. Here’s a photo.

     

    chorizo-scrambled-eggs-bettycrocker-230

    Chorizo scrambled eggs. The recipe is below. Photo courtesy Betty Crocker.

     

    THINGS TO MAKE WITH CHORIZO

  • Cheese dishes: grilled cheese, mac and cheese
  • Eggs: baked, omelets, frittatas, scrambled
  • Stuffed: chiles, mushrooms, potato skins
  • Ground meat recipes: burgers, casseroles, meat loaf, stuffing
  • Tex Mex: enchiladas, nachos, tacos
  • Dips: onion dip, queso
  • Pasta and pizza
  • Soups: black bean, white bean with kale
  • Torta/tortilla
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    RECIPE: TURKEY SCRAMBLED EGGS

    In Mexico, chorizo is often served at breakfast with scrambled eggs. Here’s a recipe from Betty Crocker that’s ready in 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 6 ounces chorizo sausage
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices thick-sliced bread or 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste
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    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the casings from the sausage and cook the sausage on 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook about 5 minutes until the meat is no longer pink, stirring and breaking up the sausage.

    2. BEAT the eggs in a medium bowl until blended. Begin to toast the bread or warm the tortillas.

    3. ADD the beaten eggs to the chorizo in the skillet and stir. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the eggs are scrambled and set. Taste and add salt as necessary.

    4. SPREAD the butter on the toasted slices of bread and place toast on individual plates. Spoon the eggs over the toast. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

      

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