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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Spice Blends You Should Know, Part 2

Yesterday we presented the first five of the world’s 10 spice blends you should know: adobo from Mexico, chili powder from Mexico, five spice from China, garam masala from India and jerk from Jamaica.

Even if you won’t be cooking with them anytime soon, you should know them: They’re popular global, popping up in fusion dishes outside their native cuisines.

The second half of the Top 10 include nori shake from Japan, pimentón from Spain, quatre épices from France, ras el hanout from Morocco and za’atar from the Middle East.

NORI SHAKE

Nori shake is made from sheets of nori seaweed (the type used to wrap sushi rolls), ground with with salt and sesame seeds. Nori is the seaweed, furi means shake. Beyond its traditional use as a rice seasoning, shake it on other grains, cooked vegetables, plain yogurt and dips.

  • Traditional uses: Cooked rice seasoning.
  •  

    Quatre_Epices-silkroadspices.ca-230

    Quatre epices, a bend of cloves, ginger, nutmeg and pepper. Photo courtesy Silk Road Spices | Canada.

  • Traditional ingredients: Seaweed, sesame seeds, salt. Some recipes include sugar or shiso leaves
  • Bittman’s recipe: Toast 4 nori sheets (one at a time) in a hot skillet for a few seconds on each side; coarsely grind them. Toast 2 tablespoons sesame seeds until golden; combine in a bowl with 2 teaspoons coarse salt, the ground nori and cayenne to taste. Note that unlike other blends, this keeps for only a week or so.
  •  

    PIMENTÓN MIX

    Pimentón is the Spanish word for what is better known as paprika, a spice ground from dried New World chiles (Capsicum annuum). Although paprika is often associated with Hungarian cuisine, in Europe it was first used in Spanish recipes. The story has it that Christopher Columbus brought the ground chiles back to Spain at the end of his second voyage. It was served to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who found it too hot and spicy; but local monks shared it with other monasteries. It spread throughout Spain, and subsequently to Hungary and elsewhere.

  • Traditional uses: A universal seasoning for casseroles/stews, eggs, meats, salads, soups, tapas and vegetables.
  • Traditional ingredients: Pimentón is usually sold as pure ground chile, not blended, in sweet, medium and hot levels.
  • Bittman’s recipe: Combine ¼ cup pimentón, 2 tablespoons granulated garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper. Before using, add some freshly grated lemon zest.
  •  

    ras-el-Hanout-spiceandtea.com-230

    Ras el hanout can be a blend of 30 or more
    spices. Photo courtesy SpiceAndTea.com.

     

    QUATRE ÉPICES

    Quatre épices (kahtr-ay-PEECE) is a French spice mix that is also used in some Middle Eastern cuisines. The name literally means “four spices,” and they are cloves, ginger, nutmeg and pepper.

  • Traditional uses: A universal spice, used for everything from soup and salad to broiled chicken and fish to vegetables.
  • Traditional ingredients: The traditional version uses white pepper; black pepper can be substituted.
  • Bittman’s recipe: Grind the following (no need to toast): 2 tablespoons each black and white peppercorns, 1 tablespoon allspice berries and 1 teaspoon cloves. Combine with 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
  •  
    RAS EL HANOUT

    There is no one recipe for ras el hanout: Every Moroccan spice merchant has a proprietary recipe, and the cooks who buy the spices debate who has the best version. The name translates as “top of the shop” and the mixture often includes 30 or more of a spice merchant’s best ingredients: whole spices, dried roots and leaves, ground together.

     
    Some of the 30 can be exotics as cubeb berries, grains of paradise, and rose petals; or more the more familiar ingredients listed below. The complex blend delivers many subtle undercurrents of floral, peppery and sweet.

  • Traditional uses: As a dry rub for grilled meats, in starches (couscous, potatoes, rice) and traditional Moroccan dishes like b’stilla and tagines.
  • Traditional ingredients: A “secret” recipe that can include anise, cardamom, cayenne and other chiles, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, lavender, nutmeg, mace, pepper, saffron and turmeric.
  • Bittman’s recipe: Toast and grind 4 teaspoons each coriander seeds and cumin seeds. Combine with 2 teaspoons each ground cinnamon, ginger, paprika, turmeric and salt; add 2 tablespoons ground pepper. It’s a stripped-down version, but feel free to add what you like—you have 22 more slots available.
  •  
    ZA’ATAR

    Za’atar (also spelled zahtar) is a spice blend that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisines, including Israeli. Za’atar is actually the word for Lebanese oregano, a member of the mint family Lamiaceaea, and known since antiquity as hyssop. The za’atar blend includes spices well-known in European cuisines, with the unique components of Lebanese oregano and sumac berries. The latter grow in the Mediterranean and parts of the Middle East. They impart a tart, fruity flavor that differentiates za’atar from other spice blends.

  • Traditional uses: As a seasoning for meat and vegetables or mixed with olive oil and spread on pita wedges or flatbread. Add to hummus or for a modern touch, sprinkle on pizza (especially with feta cheese).
  • Traditional ingredients: Marjoram, oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, savory and sumac.
  • Bittman’s recipe: Toast and grind 2 tablespoons each cumin seeds and sesame seeds. Combine with 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 2 tablespoons sumac, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper.
  •  
    Your homework: Plan to use at least one of these blends for the first time this week.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Spice Blends You Should Know, Part 1

    Today we present spice blends you should know, even if you aren’t about to use them immediately. Seasonings are the easiest ways to add different flavors to foods. If you’re looking at dieting with a month of broiled chicken or fish, for example, each of these blends will make each plate taste different.

    While the blends originated in specific countries, they are cross-cultural. You can change the perspective of a classic French dish by adding Indian spices, for example. The basic ingredients and technique are still French, but with a nice touch of fusion flavor.

    You can also use spice blends in non-traditional ways: to flavor mayonnaise or yogurt or on fruit, for example. Our tip is: Be adventurous with spices, and conquer the world. (At least, the culinary world.)*

    Several months ago in the New York Times, Mark Bittman recommended making your own spice blends. He recommends whole spices, which are typically of better quality than ground spices, and stay fresh longer in their whole state.

    If you buy them in bulk, they can be surprisingly inexpensive. You can give what you don’t need as gifts to friends and neighbors, and you may still be ahead. Check at local international markets, on Amazon.com or the websites of specialists like Penzeys. Their website has plenty of options, but is surprisingly bare-bones, with no photos of the spices. For beautiful spice photos, check out SilkRoadSpices.ca, a Canadian e-tailer.

       

    chinese-five-spice-230b

    Chinese Five Spice, used to cure artisan pork. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    *Mark Bittman advises: “…don’t feel as if you have to relegate these mixtures solely to their original uses, like jerk spice on chicken or garam masala in curry. Rub them on meat, poultry, seafood, tofu or vegetables before grilling, broiling or roasting; cook them in oil or butter to begin braises or stir-fries; or just sprinkle them on almost anything. My recently regenerated enthusiasm for these came about when I sampled a couple of blends on raw apple slices with ice cream, which was transformational.”
     
    HOW TO START

    You can blend and then grind your spices as needed. This is traditionally done with a mortar and pestle, but you can repurpose an old coffee grinder just for spices. First, clean it and then fill it with raw white rice; grind and then toss the rice. If you still find residual coffee aroma, do it again.

    You’ll get more flavor from your spices if you toast them first. Place them whole in a small skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan occasionally until the fragrance rises, 2 to 5 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then grind.

    Store all ground spices in tightly sealed jars in a dark, cool place. While some will keep well for months, for the most potency make only what you need for a few weeks.

    Here are the first five spice blends: adobo from Mexico, chili powder from Mexico, five spice from China, garam masala from India and jerk from Jamaica.

     

    kashmiri_masala_spice_blend_mccormick-230r

    Garam masala, an Indian spice blend that
    varies by region and individual cook. Photo
    courtesy SilkRoadSpices.ca.

      ADOBO

    Adobo is a popular Mexican spice mix: spicy and rich in flavor, but not hot. Traditional blends have no added salt. People on low-salt diets can use it in place of salt (but check the label).

  • Traditional uses: Rub on chicken, fish or pork with a bit of lime juice and salt to taste, then grill or broil. Add to chili or taco fixings, or perk up guacamole.
  • Traditional ingredients: garlic, onion, black pepper, oregano, cumin and cayenne red pepper.
  • Bittman’s recipe: 2 tablespoons granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, 4 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons onion powder and 2 teaspoons ground ancho.
  •  

    CHILI POWDER

    There are different strengths of chili powder, depending on the heat of the chiles used. Some are labeled medium or hot.

  • Traditional uses: Chili powder is the backbone of traditional Mexican dishes such as red chili and tamales. It is added to mole sauce, stews, beans and rice.
  • Traditional ingredients: ancho chili pepper, red pepper, cumin, crushed red pepper, garlic and Mexican oregano.
  • Bittman’s recipe: Toast and grind 4 teaspoons cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns and 4 teaspoons coriander seeds; stir in 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano, 4 tablespoons ground ancho chiles and 1 teaspoon cayenne.
  •  
    CHINESE FIVE SPICE

    Five spice powder is a versatile Chinese seasoning. The five spices vary by region and individual preference.

  • Traditional uses: stir-frys. The spice has traveled far beyond that with innovative chefs. You’ll find it in artisan chocolate bars, for example.
  • Traditional ingredients: cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves. Sichuan peppercorns and fennel seeds are also commonly included.
  • Bittman’s recipe: Grind the following (no need to toast): 2 tablespoons , 12 star anise, 3 teaspoons whole cloves, two 3-inch cinnamon sticks and ¼ cup fennel seeds.
  •  

    GARAM MASALA

    As with other all-purpose spice blends, including curry and five spice, the ingredients in this Indian spice vary by region and individual cook.

  • Traditional uses: very popular on cauliflower, fish, lamb, pork, poultry and potatoes.
  • Traditional ingredients: coriander, black peppercorns, cardamom, cassia cinnamon, kalonji, caraway, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
  • Bittman’s recipe: Toast and grind the seeds of 20 cardamom pods, 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, 1 teaspoon nutmeg pieces, 2 tablespoons cumin seeds and 2 tablespoons fennel seeds.
  •  

    JERK

    Jerk seasoning is a hot Jamaican spice blend. There are different blends for chicken, fish and pork.

  • Traditional uses: grilled chicken, fish, pork chops, pork tenderloin, whole roast pig; also.
  • Traditional ingredients: paprika, allspice, ginger, red pepper, sugar, ground Grenadian nutmeg, black pepper, garlic, thyme, lemon grass, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and mace.
  • Bittman’s recipe: Grind the following (no need to toast): 2 tablespoons allspice berries, ½ teaspoon nutmeg pieces, 2 teaspoons black peppercorns and 4 teaspoons dried thyme. Combine with 2 teaspoons cayenne, 2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons sugar and ¼ cup salt. Before using, add some minced fresh garlic and ginger.
  •  
    Continue to Part 2 the next five blends: nori shake from Japan, pimentón from Spain, quatre épices from France, ras el hanout from Morocco and za’atar from the Middle East.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Create Your Fantasy Custom Ice Cream Flavors

    chocolate-raspberry-jam-mcconnellsicecream-230

    No fresh raspberries? Make chocolate
    raspberry jam. Photo courtesy McConnell’s
    Ice Cream.

     

    When you’re peering into the ice cream case at the market, do you ever long for flavors that don’t exist? Maybe you want chocolate cookie dough, or rum date instead of rum raisin.

    How about vanilla orange marmalade, a riff on the Creamsicle, or salted caramel candy corn? We’re personally considering coffee-chocolate chip- brownie-Heath Bar.

    Make them yourself!

    You don’t have to own an ice cream maker. Just buy the base flavor at the store, along with the inclusions (the mix-ins) to make your flavor.

  • Start with a pint of chocolate, vanilla or other base flavor, soften it on the counter, and when it’s soft enough to mix, scoop it into a mixing bowl.
  • Then, pile in your inclusions, blend with a couple of large cooking spoons, taste and adjust as desired. Be cautious: add smaller amounts first, especially with alcohol and sauces.
  • Repack the ice cream into the pint and return to the freezer.
  • Work on your recipes over time, adding more or less of some ingredients and introducing new ones.
  •  

    WHAT CAN YOU MIX IN?

  • Alcohol: beer, liqueur, spirits, wine
  • Candy: baking chips (mix the flavors!), chocolate chips/chunks/shavings, mini marshmallows, marzipan, toffee bits, candies of choice
  • Cookies, Cake: broken or cut into small pieces
  • Fruits: diced fruits, jam/preserves, purées, shredded coconut, zest
  • Ice Cream & Sorbet: make a blend of favorite flavors; add a sorbet swirl to ice cream
  • Nuts: raw, roasted or candied nuts, mixed nuts
  • Sauces: balsamic, caramel/salted caramel, chocolate, fruit, honey, marshmallow
  • Spices: cayenne, chili flakes, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, sea salt
  • Vegetables/Herbs: basil, carrots (shredded/purée), mint, tomato
  • Wild Card: granola/other cereals, potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, trail mix
  •  
    More? You tell us!
     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Adult Ice Pops

    Here’s a way to enjoy Happy Hour in the heat: Turn your favorite fruit cocktail into an adult ice pop.

    We started with the Margarita, re-interpreting the Strawberry Frozen Margarita as a Strawberry Margarita Ice Pop. You can substitute the fruit and spirits to adapt your favorite cocktail.

    Prep time: is 15 minutes plus freezing time (overnight).

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY MARGARITA ICE POPS

    Ingredients For 8 – 10 Pops

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 package (16 ounces) fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons tequila
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  •  

    strawberry-margarita-pops-driscolls-230

    Truly frozen cocktails: Strawberry Margarita Ice Pops. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     
    Preparation

    1. BRING water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Cool completely.

    2. PURÉE strawberries in a blender or food processor. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to yield 1-1/2 cups purée.

    3. COMBINE strawberry purée with sugar syrup, lime juice, tequila and orange liqueur. Pour into ice pop molds.

    4. FREEZE for 2 hours, then sprinkle the base of the pops with salt and add the sticks. Let freeze at least 12 hours longer or overnight until frozen solid.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Salad With Berries & Mandarins

    A salad so fruity, you could have it for
    dessert. Photo courtesy
    PeachValleyCafe.com.

     

    Doesn’t this salad from Florida-based Peach Valley Café burst with summer?

    Blueberries, mandarin segments, strawberries, frisée and baby greens are garnished with shaved Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds and homemade peach ginger dressing.

    You can add or substitute any other seasonal fruits: bananas, peaches, kiwi or other favorites.

    GINGER PEACH DRESSING

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons flaked coconut
  •  

    OPTIONAL SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • Lettuce: bibb/Boston, endive/radicchio, frisée, mesclun, romaine
  • Fruit: bananas, berries, kiwi, mandarin or orange, nectarines, peaches, pineapple
  • Onion: chive, green onion, red onion, sweet onion
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, chia, flaxseed, pecans, pepitas
  •  
    Mix, match and enjoy.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Drink Covers For Bug-Free Drinks

    We love this simple trick from gourmet caterer Pinch Food Design:

    To keep pesky bugs out of your drink at poolside or other outdoor leisure, poke a hole in a cupcake liner with a straw.

    If you want to create a perfect opening, get out the three-hole-punch.

    These multicolored cupcake liners from Wilton are well priced and ready to party.

    They’re available in different colors and designs, including polka dots, damask/zebra and a very festive color wheel.

    Don’t need a straw? Consider reusable plastic drink covers.

    These plastic drink covers, shaped like flowers. They have a tight, spill-proof seal, and thus have no opening for a straw.

    More subtle designs include these lily pads.

     

    lemon-cocktail-cupcake-wrapper-pinchfooddesign

    Keep the bugs away with cupcake liners. Photo courtesy Pinch Food Design.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sea Urchin

    Today’s tip is sea urchin: beyond the sushi bar. It was inspired by a story in this month’s Smithsonian Magazine.

    At the sushi bar, we always order an uni sushi or two. If they were less pricey, we would toss down half a dozen.

    Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin, an ancient shellfish, found worldwide. In the U.S., sea urchins are harvested in the oceans off California, Florida and Maine. They’re expensive to gather, and the price is passed along.

    More than a few of the world’s sea urchin sites have been overfished. But in the waters off of Norway lie a king’s ransom of sea urchin.

    Evidently, Norwegians are not as fond of sea urchin as we are, and until Roderick Sloan began to develop a trade among Europe’s fine restaurants, they had no market. Once cursed as a pest by lobstermen, they were routinely smashed with hammers and tossed overboard.

    Sloan, a 44-year-old émigré Scot, lives 88 miles north of the Arctic Circle, outside the town of Nordskot (population 55). It’s one of Norway’s darkest, bleakest, most remote coastal villages. He is the only full-time sea urchin diver in Norway, with one employee to tend the boat.

    Sloan dons scuba equipment and swims down to depths of 50 feet, diving among treacherous waves and gutsy squalls. The local species, called Norwegian greens (for the hue of the shell—the binomial name is Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), are at their prime from November to the end of February (imagine how cold the water is!).

       

    live_uni_nigiri_ILBSea-230

    Sea urchin, fresh from the sea. Photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.

     

    More than 100,000 tons of the delicacy are consumed a year worldwide. France and Japan are big consumers; the Japanese exchange urchins as gifts during New Year celebrations.

    In the center of the hard shell is a row of five roe or coral (sometimes called tongues), which are the gonads of both males and females. Exotic, briny and grainy, the meat has nuances of iodine and metal and a custardlike, pillowy consistency. Uni is a love-it-or-hate-it food.

    Of the 800 species of sea urchin, some are much more palatable than others. As a sea urchin lover, we are chagrined that the flavor of expensive sushi bar uni can be wildly inconsistent. It is based on gender, season, terroir and even the particular seaweed the animal eats.

    When all the factors are united, uni are celestial. At other times, they are as are as bland and disappointing as a mealy apple.

     

    sea-urchins-open-shell-smithsonian-230

    Sea urchins brought up from the floor of the
    ocean. Photo by Karoline O.A. Pettersen |
    Smithsonian.

     

    HOW TO ENJOY SEA URCHIN

    Here are culinary ideas from around the world for how to enjoy sea urchin:

  • Raw in New Zealand; with a squeeze of lemon in the Mediterranean; and with lemon, onions and olive oil in Chile.
  • In pasta sauce in Italy.
  • In omelets and scrambled eggs, mayonnaise, béchamel and Hollandaise sauces and the boullie (egg foam) for a soufflé in France.
  • As sashimi or sushi, with soy sauce and wasabi, in Japan; or in a donburi (rice bowl) with ikura and shiso leaf.
  •  
    It’s up to the cook to decide how to use them in recipes. Think baked, ceviche, chowder/soup, croquettes, custard, grilled fish, mousse, oyster stew, pasta, sauce and tempura.

    Here’s an interesting surf and turf: raw sea urchin wrapped in roast beef. Just as it sounds, wrap a thin slice of roast beef around a raw sea urchin or two; lay on a bed of boiled spinach and serve with ponzu (a combination of soy sauce, vinegar and citrus juice).

     

    For a delightful hors d’oeuvre or first course, make uni toast: Spread crostini with quality unsalted butter and uni, garnished with scallions and a sprinkling of sea salt.

    Uni burrata combines creamy burrata cheese with with the briny flavor of uni, then sides it with button mushrooms and yuzu for balance.

    Here are some sea urchin recipes.
     
    ABOUT SEA URCHINS

    Sea urchins, sometimes called sea hedgehogs (for their protruding spiny needles) and krakebolle, “crow’s balls,” in Norwegian, are among the earliest known forms of life. The fossil record dates back some 450 million years. The creatures can be found in almost every major marine habitat from the poles to the Equator, and from shallow inlets to ocean depths of more than 17,000 feet.

    Sea urchins “look like squash balls encased in pine thistles” according to Franz Lidz, who wrote the Smithsonian article (you can read it in full here).

    The shell is round and spiny, typically from 1.2 to 3.9 inches in diameter. The colors vary: black, blue, brown, green, olive, purple, red. The animals lack brains.

    Sea urchins have hundreds of adhesive tube feet and move slowly over the sandy sea floor pursuing a diet of kelp. They are members of the botanical class Echinoidea, and are cousins of sand dollars (there are some 950 species of echinoids, and 800 species of sea urchins).

    And the pricey critters will no doubt get pricier. The French and Irish exhausted their resident stocks of sea urchin years ago. In Maine, Nova Scotia and Japan, urchin populations have been drastically reduced by overfishing and disease.

    They are not always welcome: The colonies can be destructive. Off the coasts of California and Tasmania, overfishing of the animal’s natural predators and large-scale change in ocean circulation (believed to be an effect of climate change) have turned vast stretches of the sea floor into moonscape-like “urchin barrens.” The urchins multiply, chew down the kelp and devastate marine ecosystems.

    No doubt, those species are not among the tasty species, or divers would appear to reap the wealth on the ocean floor.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Soup

    You don’t have to turn on the stove or the oven to make this refreshing dessert: fruit soup.

    Made from fresh or dried fruit, served hot or cold, fruit soups are underrepresented on American menus. Yet, they offer variety year-round.

  • Cold soups tend to be made with seasonal fruit and are thus served in warmer weather.
  • Soups made of dried fruits, such as Norwegian fruktsuppe (made of raisins and prunes), can be served hot or cold in any season.
  • Fruit soups can be cream soups or purées with or without the addition of fruit juice, and can include alcohol such as brandy, champagne, Port or wine.
  • Sweet fruit soups can include meat; and in at least one instance, a fruit soup can be completely savory, like \Chinese winter melon soup.
  • While fruit soup can be served for dessert, it also can be a first course or an intermezzo between fish and meat courses.
  •    

    blackberry-gazpacho-driscolls-230sq

    Fruit soup in a footed bowl. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Here’s a no cook light summer dessert dessert recipe from berry king Driscoll’s. Made primarily of blackberries, it adds red wine for a sophisticated layer of flavors (some red wines are often described to have hints of blackberry flavor).

    Prep time is 5 minutes. Serve with a piece of shortbread on the side.

     

    http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-blackberries-image11753307

    Fresh blackberries. Photo © Ninette Luz |
    Dreamstime.

     

    RECIPE: BLACKBERRY FRUIT SOUP

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) blackberries
  • 1 cups dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, or substitute a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cups sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 package (6 ounces) Driscoll’s Raspberries
  • 1 package (6 ounes) Driscoll’s Blueberries
  • Fresh mint for garnish
  • Optional topping: crème fraîche, thin lime slice, mascarpone, sour cream, toasted sliced almonds, vanilla yogurt or frozen yogurt
  • Optional: shortbread or other cookie
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PURÉE blackberries, wine and sugar in blender or food processor until smooth. Press through a strainer to remove the seeds. Discard solids.

    2. STIR in lemon juice; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and chill several hours or overnight.

    3. LADLE soup into chilled bowls, footed glasses or wine goblets. Drizzle or spoon sour cream on top, and scatter with raspberries and blueberries.

    4. GARNISH each serving with a mint sprig or coarsely chopped mint.
     
    MORE FRUIT SOUP RECIPES

  • Chilled Papaya and Watermelon Soup Recipe
  • Chilled Raspberry Yogurt Soup Recipe
  • Diet Fruit Soup Recipe
  • Simple Fruit Soup Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: How To Enjoy Guava

    As we did an online search for “guava” recently, we were surprised to find that “What color is guava?” scored 2,900 searches last month. There’s obviously an interest in guava. But have you ever tried one?

    Guava, also known as guayaba (the Spanish name) and Bangkok apple, is a round to oval shaped subtropical fruit that is actually classified as a berry.

    Guava is native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America, but is now cultivated in tropic and subtropic belts around the world.

    The skin of the immature fruit is bright green in color, but becomes yellowish green, maroon or yellow when ripe. The flesh is creamy white or rosy pink, depending on the variety. The taste is reminiscent of a cross between an Asian pear and a crab apple: refreshing, fruity, mildly sweet and tart. The texture is firm and crisp, like an Asian pear.

    Guava can be eaten fresh, used in desserts or for nectar/juice, preserves or sauces. A guava contains about four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.

       

    GUAVA-baldorfood-230

    Some guava varieties have white flesh, others have rosy flesh. Photo courtesy Baldor Food.

     
    Some varieties have an edible rind and small seeds which are also edible. When ripe, the exotic aroma is alluring. One bite will transport you to the tropics!

    Guavas are ripe when the aroma wafts up from the fruit: You can smell it, sweet and musky, without putting it to your nose. Ripe guavas have a two week shelf life if refrigerated, or about a week if left at room temperature.

     

    guava_cake_kuki-s-cookbook-230

    Guava cake, made with guava nectar. Photo courtesy My Recipe Magic. Here’s the recipe.

     

    WAYS TO SERVE GUAVA

    The first way to test the waters could be with a simple box of guava nectar. Ceres, Goya, Hero, Jumex, Kern’s and other brands are available in many food stores.

    You can drink the nectar or use it in recipes: baking, sauces, smoothies, etc.

    If you’re keen on the guava flavor, the next step is to buy a fresh guava and let it ripen. Use it in everyday recipes:

  • Barbecue sauce and salsa (replace other fruit with guava)
  • Cocktails and mocktails
  • Crêpes
  • Dip (mix equal parts of guava preserves and mayonnaise as a dip with shrimp, chicken fingers or crudites)
  • Fruit tarts, bars, fruit breads, etc.(replace peaches with guava in most recipes)
  • Glaze for chicken and pork
  • Sauce: a sweet sauce on cheesecake, ice cream, French toast and pancakes
  • Smoothies and shakes
  • Sorbet and ice cream
  •  
    Here are dozens of recipes from Emeril Lagasse and other Food Network chefs, who use guava in everything from grilled fish to pound cake.

    And here’s an easy savory sauce for grilled proteins from Melissa’s chef Ida Rodriguez.

    RECIPE: SAVORY GUAVA SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 6 ripe guavas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT each guava in half. Scoop out the pulp and place in a bowl.

    2. HEAT oil in a suacepan and sauté onions until they are soft and translucent. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.

    By the way, guava is delicious with cream cheese. In our youth, our mom had a passion for cream cheese sandwiches with guava preserves. We always joined in.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Prosciutto & Peaches

    prosciutto-peaches-charliepalmer-briscola-230sq

    Peaches with prosciutto and a drizzle of
    balsamic, from Briscola by Charlie Palmer in
    Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort.

     

    Juicy summer peaches beg to be enjoyed in as many ways as possible. For a delicious first course or a dessert, pair them with prosciutto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar—an update to the classic melon or figs with prosciutto.

    To amp up the first course, add fresh chèvre and some lightly dressed mesclun.

    You can also replace the prosciutto with serrano ham. Here’s the difference.

    Serve the dish with prosciutto-friendly Italian white wines such as Italian Moscato, Pinot Grigio or Prosecco; or look northward and grab an Alsatian-style Pinot Gris, Gewürtztraminer or Riesling.

    WHAT IS PROSCIUTTO

    Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham; specifically a dry-cured, uncooked ham that is aged for 400 days or longer. It originated in the hills around Parma, Italy.

     

     

    The pigs are fed a special diet of whey and grains, and the hams are trimmed and massaged with natural sea salt before aging. Prosciutto is served in thin slices, showing off rosy-colored meat with a pearl-white marbling of fat.

    Prosciutto di Parma, called Parma ham in English, is made from only two ingredients—pork leg and sea salt. What makes a great prosciutto is the artisan curing that creates prosciutto crudo (raw prosciutto, distinguished from cooked ham, or prosciutto cotto).

    The pork leg is carefully hand-rubbed with salt. It then passes through a series of curing rooms of different temperatures and humidity levels.

    Prosciutto made in the Parma and Langhirano areas of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna province is D.O.P.-protected by the European Union (in English, it’s D.P.O. or Domaine of Protected Origin). Prosciutto from other cities is also D.O.P. protected, but Prosciutto di Parma is the most famous export.

    Prosciutto-style products are made elsewhere in the world. La Quercia, in Iowa, is a fine domestic producer.

     

    proscuitto-laquercia-murrays-230


    American-made prosciutto from LaQuercia in Iowa. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

     

    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY PROSCIUTTO

    Prosciutto is served plain as part of an antipasto or appetizer plate. In Italy, restaurants serve prosciutto in overlapping folded-over slices with bread or bread sticks as an appetizer, or wrapped around melon slices, with dates, figs or pears.

    The ham is incorporated into many recipes: wrapped around chicken, rolled with veal scallopini and diced into pasta and risotto. Find recipes at ParmaHam.com.

    But if you want to enjoy it as an Italian ham sandwich—on crusty baguette-style bread with arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella or provolone and a sprinkle of vinagrette—we think it’s an improvement on the American version.

    A drizzle of honey or some honey mustard also works.

      

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