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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Winter Fruits & Vegetables

Here’s our final installment of seasonal fruits and vegetables. We began this series with spring produce, then summer produce, then fall produce.

With the winter season, our “year of produce” is complete. But don’t think of winter produce as bleak and limited. It’s time to revel in different types of citrus, try new fruits and winter squash varieties, and take a look at recipes for items you rarely buy: cherimoya and chestnuts, cardoons and collards.

Then, look online for interesting ways to prepare them.

If your main food market doesn’t have some of the more specialized items, check international markets that focus on Chinese, Indian, Latin American and other specialties. You can also check online purveyors like Melissas.com.

The list was created by the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Take a look at their website, FruitsAndVeggiesMoreMatters.org, for tips on better meal planning with fresh produce.

A final tip: Know where your produce comes from. While some imported produce is excellent, others are picked too early and have a long ocean voyage. If you buy something that’s lacking flavor, speak with the produce manager and get recommendations.

WINTER FRUITS

  • Cactus Pear
  • Cherimoya
  • Clementines
  • Date Plums*
  • Dates
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwifruit
  • Mandarin Oranges
  • Maradol Papaya
  • Oranges
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pear
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranate
  • Pummelo
  • Red Banana
  • Red Currants
  • Sharon Fruit*
  • Tangerines
  •    

    Persimmons

    When was the last time you had a persimmon? Persimmons can be eaten as hand fruit, made into tarts and sorbet, baked into muffins, sliced into salads, turned into mousse and more. Photo courtesy Foods From Spain.

     
    *The date plum, also known as the lotus persimmon, is the variety known to the ancient Greeks as “the fruit of the gods.” Its English name probably derives from the Persian khormaloo, literally “date-plum,” referring to its flavor, reminiscent of both dates and plums. Sharon fruit is an Israeli cultivar of persimmon, called Triumph. The fruit is named for the Sharon Plain where it is grown. Sharon fruit” has no core, is seedless and particularly sweet. It can be eaten whole. You may find still other varieties of date plums in your market.

     

    Cardoons

    Not a variety of celery, these stalks are
    cardoons, a member of the artichoke family.
    If you’re an artichoke lover, snap them up:
    They taste like artichokes without the bother
    of the thorns and the fur. Photo courtesy
    Johnnyseeds.com.

     

    WINTER VEGETABLES

  • Belgian Endive
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Buttercup Squash
  • Cardoon
  • Chestnuts
  • Collard Greens
  • Delicata Squash
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turnips
  •  
    DON’T OVERLOOK FARMERS MARKETS

    Farmers markets are our go-to place for something different. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask the farmers if they know where you might find it, or to suggest other items in the market that you shouldn’t pass up.

     

    You can search the National Farmers Market Directory for locations near you.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cacio E Pepe

    In addition to National Pasta Day on October 17th, there’s a National Spaghetti Day and it’s today, January 4th. Today’s tip is to celebrate a preparation that is rarely found on restaurant menus: Cacio e Pepe.

    Cacio e Pepe, “Cheese and Pepper,” is a Roman dish from central Italy. Cacio is a dialect word for a sheep’s milk cheese (like Pecorino Romano), and pepe refers to black pepper. The recipe is that simple: long, thin spaghetti*, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and freshly-ground pepper.

    The only other ingredient in the dish is a bit of olive oil to bind the ingredients. It whips up very quickly when you don’t have time or energy to make a more elaborate recipe.

    SUBSTITUTES

    If you don’t have the ingredients in the classic recipe—or prefer others—here’s what we would substitute:

  • For the spaghetti: any thin flat noodle such as bavette, bavettine, fettucelle, linguine, linguettine, tagliatelle, taglierini.
  • For the Pecorino Romano: any hard Italian grating cheese.
  • For the black pepper: red chile flakes, dried chipotle or jalapeño flakes.
  •  
    RECIPE: CACIO E PEPE

    In this recipe from Good Eggs, the Pecorino Romano cheese is blended with some Parmigiano-Reggiano for more depth of flavor.

    Ingredients

  • 10 ounces fresh spaghetti (substitute dried)
  • 1-3/4 cups of Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 10-12 grinds of black pepper peppercorns, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried chile (more to taste)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  •    

    Cacio e Pepe

    Pecorino Romano

    Top photo: Cacio e Pepe, a classic Roman pasta dish. Photo courtesy Good Eggs. Bottom photo: Pecorino Romano cheese from Fulvi, the only company still making the cheese in greater Rome. Photo courtesy Pastoral Artisan.

     
    *Long, thin spaghetti has different names in different regions of Italy; for example, capellini, fedelini, spaghetti alla chitarra and tonnarelli. In the U.S., you’re most likely to find spaghettini, vermicelli and of course, spaghetti. The widths of all of these strands vary, but not in a significant way to impact the recipe.
     
    Preparation

    1. FILL a large pot with water about 3/4 full. Add 1/4 cup of salt and taste the brine. The rule of thumb is that the cooking water should be as salty as ocean water. Add up to an additional 1/4 cup salt as desired—but don’t over-salt, since the cheese is very salty. Cover the pot and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Meanwhile…

    2. GRATE the cheese into the bottom of a large bowl. This will be the bowl in which you’ll toss and serve the pasta, so choose accordingly. When the cheese is grated, add about 10 grinds of fresh black pepper to the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

    3. REDUCE the heat and add the pasta to the boiling water. Fresh pasta will take about 3-5 minutes to cook, while dried spaghetti will 10-12 minutes, per package directions. When the pasta is at the right state of al dente, dip a mug into the pot to reserve a bit of the pasta cooking water; then strain the pasta in a colander. (Why do cooks reserve some of the pasta cooking water for blending? The heat melts the cheese, while the starches in the water help to bind the cheese and pepper to the pasta.)

    4. ADD the strained pasta to the bowl, along with a splash of the pasta water and a drizzle of olive oil. Use a large fork or soft tongs to toss the pasta, pepper and cheese. (We love our silicone pasta tongs). When the spaghetti is well coated, taste it and adjust the cheese and pepper levels as desired. If the texture is a little dry, add another splash of pasta water or a bit more olive oil. Serve immediately.

     

    Pouring Olive Oil

    Cacio e Pepe has no formal sauce; just a bit
    of olive oil that binds the grated cheese into
    a coating. Photo courtesy North American
    Olive Oil Association.

     

    ABOUT PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE

    Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty, full-flavored Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk (pecora is the Italian word for sheep). An ancient cheese, Pecorino Romano was a dietary staple for the Roman legionaries. Today’s Pecorino Romano is made from the same recipe, albeit with pasteurized milk.

    The method of production of the cheese was first described by Latin writers like Pliny the Elder, some 2,000 years ago. It was made in Roman countryside until 1884, when a city council ruling over cheese salting in shops caused producers to move to the island of Sardinia.

    One brand, Fulvi, is still made in the countryside outside of Rome. It is known as genuine Pecorino Romano. Like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano is made in very large wheels, typically 65 pounds in weight.

    Today, the designation “Pecorino Romano” is protected under the laws of the European Union. [Source]

    Pecorino Romano is often used in highly flavored pasta sauces, particularly those of Roman origin such as Bucatini all’Amatriciana and Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.

     
    Like Asiago, Parmesan and other grating cheeses, Pecorino Romano is often served on a cheese plate, accompanied by some hearty red wine. Typically, a younger cheese (five months of maturation) is used for table cheese, and a more mature, sharper cheese (eight months or longer) for grating and cooking.
     
    Don’t Confuse These Cheeses

    There are two other well-known pecorino cheeses, which are less salty and eaten as table cheese or in sandwiches. Don’t confuse them with Pecorino Romano:

  • Pecorino Sardo from Sardinia
  • Pecorino Toscano from Tuscany
  •  
    And beware of “Romano” cheese sold in the U.S. This is a mild, domestic cow’s milk cheese, bland and not right for this recipe. If you can’t find Pecorino Romano, the best bet is to substitute Asiago or Parmesan.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: White Whole Wheat

    White Whole Wheat Flour

    White Whole Wheat Flour Comparison

    Top photo: White whole wheat flour may
    soon become one of the hot “better for you”
    foods. Bottom photo: white whole wheat
    flour compared to whole wheat flour from red
    wheat. Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

    We always start January with better-for-you tips of the day. There are a few weeks between the holidays and Valentine’s Day temptations where we can actually focus on better-for-you foods.

    Americans say that their number one resolution for the new year is to lose weight. “Eat healthier” is in the top five.

    One of the easiest switches Americans can make is to whole wheat flour in daily bread products—bagels, sandwiches, pasta, pizza crusts; baked goods like chocolate chip cookies and brownies; and family favorites like pancakes and waffles. Whole wheat provides lots of nutritional benefits and helps to mitigate the guilt of enjoying carbs.

    But many Americans don’t like the stronger taste of whole wheat.

    Enter white whole wheat flour, also called whole white wheat flour and marketed by some bread manufacturers as whole grain white bread. It’s milder in flavor and whiter in color than conventional whole wheat, and is a terrific option for nutrition-oriented people who aren’t crazy about the flavor of conventional whole wheat.

    Aren’t “white whole wheat” and “whole grain white bread” contradictions in terms?

    Friends, it’s only confusing at first. Just think of white whole wheat as “albino whole wheat.”

    WHAT IS WHITE WHOLE WHEAT?

    Most of the wheat grown in the U.S. is hard red winter wheat. In Australia, most of the wheat grown is hard white spring wheat. Both genuses of wheat are milled into whole grain flour (containing the bran, endosperm and germ) that is equally nutritious.

    While white wheat has been grown in Australia for decades, different varieties needed to be developed to do well in American soil and climate. It has been slowly creeping into retail America, both in sacks of flour and baked goods. Even Wonder Bread now sells whole grain white bread!

    Why is it whiter?

    Hard white wheat lacks the genes for bran color. Traditional red wheat has one to three bran color genes.

     
    The bran of white wheat is not only lighter in color but it’s also milder in flavor, because it also lacks the strongly-flavored phenolic compounds in red wheat. The milder flavor also means that products made with white whole wheat require less added sweetener to attain the same level of perceived sweetness.

    The flavor of whole white wheat flour is more appealing to people who prefer refined white flour. If that’s you, you can now have your cake [or bread] and eat it, too.

    In sum:

  • Hard white spring wheat flour yields milder-tasting baked goods than the red winter wheat flour traditionally used in the U.S.
  • Breads and cakes made with whole white wheat flour are lighter in color than those made with whole red winter wheat.
  • White whole wheat provides the same nutrition and fiber as flour made from red winter wheat.
  •  
    Here’s more information from The Whole Grains Council.

     

    TIPS FOR BAKING WITH WHITE WHOLE WHEAT

    Use it as you would regular whole wheat flour. Try these tips from King Arthur Flour, useful for both red and white whole wheat flours:

  • If you substitute whole wheat flour in a yeast bread recipe calling for refined white flour, let the dough rest for 15 minutes before kneading.
  • Substituting orange juice for some of the water in a whole wheat bread recipe tempers any potential strong flavor in the wheat.
  • Whole wheat dough shouldn’t be kneaded as long or as vigorously as dough made with all-purpose flour. That’s because whole wheat bran particles are sharp, and can potentially cut the developing gluten strands if the dough is handled roughly.
  • If the recipe is a bit too sweet (from the naturally sweeter white flour), cut down on the sugar next time.
  •  

    Cinnamon Swirl Bread

    Plan ahead for brunch next weekend: Try this cinnamon swirl bread recipe from King Arthur Flour.

     
    YOUR NEXT STEP

    Pick up a sack of white whole wheat flour and try it with some favorite recipes. See if you can tell the difference in flavor.

    If you can’t find it at your supermarket, look at natural food stores.

    Get yours at KingArthurFlour.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Delicious Vegetable Mix At Breakfast (Ratatouille)

    Fried Egg Ratatouille

    ratatouille-theformerchef-230r

    You can dice your ratatouille fine or chunky.
    A fine dice is a better base for the egg,
    crostini, etc.; a larger dice is better as a side
    dish. Top photo courtesy Elegant Affairs
    Caterers. Bottom photo courtesy
    TheFormerChef.com.

     

    Nutritionists expend lots of effort to get their clients to achieve nutrition goals. Americans are major under-consumers of vegetables.

    There are numerous ways to add good vegetables into every meal (fried onion rings don’t count!) You don’t have to twist our arm to adopt this one: ratatouille at breakfast.

    WHAT IS RATATOUILLE

    Ratatouille (rah-tah-TOO-ee) is a vegetable side dish that originated in the Provence region of France. The classic recipe consists of sautéed eggplant, onions, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini plus garlic and herbs.

    Sometimes, each vegetable is sautéed separately, then layered into a baking dish and baked. Modern recipes make it easier: We fully sauté groups of vegetables with similar densities, combine them and don’t bake them. can customize the dish as you like—for example, with bell peppers, celery, fennel, olives, onions and yellow squash.

    There are similar dishes in other Mediterranean countries, including tourlou or briami in Greek cuisine, türlü in Turkish cuisine, samfaina in Catalonia and in ciambotta in southern Italy.

    OUR FAVORITE RATATOUILLE RECIPE

    We misplaced our nana’s ratatouille recipe card; but the recipe below, adapted from TheFormerChef.com, looks almost identical.

    Ratatouille is delightfully colorful when you use red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers and tomatoes/cherry tomatoes.

    Regarding the tomatoes: Ratatouille has traditionally been a summer dish, when tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash are plentiful. While you can find decent squash in the off season, imported tomatoes can be both pricey and lacking in flavor. You can substitute cherry, grape or sundried tomatoes; or use diced canned San Marzano tomatoes. Canned tomatoes don’t need to be sautéed; just drain them and add them to the final heating.

     
    TIP: Don’t throw away the liquid you drain off. You can freeze it into ice cubes for Bloody Marys, or add a bit of gin, tequila or vodka for a mini cocktail treat.
     
    RECIPE: RATATOUILLE

    We make double recipes and microwave the ratatouille (or other sautéed vegetables) from the fridge while the eggs are cooking.

    Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups onions diced (about 1.5 large onions)
  • 1 6 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
  • 3 cups bell peppers (1 each, red, yellow, green), diced
  • 8 cups zucchini and yellow squash, large diced
  • 6 cups eggplant (about 1.5 lbs), diced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded as necessary
  • 3 6 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, basil, thyme)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground coriander fennel seeds
  • Optional garnish: capers or caperberries (the difference*)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet†, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

    2. RETURN the pan to the heat and add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add them to the onions and bell peppers.

    3. Return the pan to the heat and add the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the eggplant and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of water; the eggplant will absorb all the oil very quickly and the water will help it cook before it burns. When the water is absorbed and the eggplant begins to soften (about 5 more minutes), add the chopped tomatoes to the eggplant.

    4. COOK the tomatoes until they start to break down and the eggplant is soft, but not mushy. Add the rest of the vegetables back into the pan, folding it all together with a large spoon.

    5. Cook for another 5 minutes and add the fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Don’t overcook; you want the flavors to remain fresh and distinct. Plus, if you plan to reheat the ratatouille at a later time, it will cook more then.
     
    __________________________________________
    *Capers are the flower bud of the caper bush, Capparis spinosa. Caperberries are the fruit with seeds inside. Both are brined and thus contribute saltiness as well as flavor to dishes. They are members of the same botanical order as cruciferous vegetables, Brassicales, but a different family.

    †While the pans can usually be used interchangeably, a skillet or frying pan has slanted sides and a sauté pan has straight sides. A skillet has a larger bottom surface area, and its straight sides are better for making an omelet or frittata—even though you may see slope-sided pans marketed as “omelet pans.”

     

    RECIPE VARIATIONS

  • Serve with a poached or soft-boiled egg instead of a fried egg.
  • Mix the vegetables into an omelet or scrambled eggs.
  • Add with cooked eggs to a breakfast burrito or pita breakfast sandwich.
  • Combine eggs and toast: Make ratatouille crostini (toast topped with ratatouille topped with the egg).
  •  
    SUBSTITUTES FOR RATATOUILLE

    Serve any of the following, and don’t hesitate to mix them together.

  • Any leafy green vegetable(s), such as kale, spinach and/or watercress.
  • Shredded Brussels sprouts.
  • Sautéed cherry or grape tomatoes, halved.
  • Cauliflower steak.
  • Sautéed mushrooms.
  • Sweet potato or purple potato hash with beets and leeks (or default to white potatoes).
  •  
    OTHER THINGS TO DO WITH RATATOUILLE

    Ratatouille is a side dish that’s great with grilled fish or seafood on Meatless Monday, or as a side anytime with grilled or roasted beef, chicken, lamb or pork. But you can also:

  • Us it as a topping for pancakes or waffles—savory instead of sweet.
  • Serve it as a vegan main course with a whole grain, couscous‡, polenta, beans or legumes.
  • Use it to top bruschetta, crostini (the difference) or flatbread.
  • Use it instead of tomato sauce, chunky or puréed, on pasta, grains and other dishes.
  • Use as a topping for burgers, grilled cheese and other sandwiches.
  • Use the purée as a base for vegetable soup (add broth to desired consistency.
  •  

    Fried Egg On Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

    Fried Eggs On Toast

    Top photo: Go cruciferous: Place your egg atop sautéed Brussels sprouts, collards or mustard greens. At Olio e Piú | NYC, the Brussels sprouts are mixed with radicchio. Bottom photo: Combine the toast and eggs into ratatouille crostini, or as shown above, with asparagus in season. Photo courtesy Urban Accents.

     
    We’re off to make breakfast: ratatouille and fried eggs (no surprise).
    ___________________________________
    ‡You can find whole grain couscous; but most supermarket products are not whole grain.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Bloody Mary Garnishes

    Aquavit Bloody Mary

    Bloody Mary Crab Claw

    Garnished Bloody Mary

    TOP PHOTO: Aquavit Bloody Mary with beets, a half-sour pickle spear and fresh dill; photo Flavor & The Menu. MIDDLE PHOTO: Mary garnished with crab claw and dilly beans from Ramos House. BOTTOM PHOTO: Surf and Turf Bloody Mary with bacon and shrimp, plus an antipasto skewer and, as a nod to the past, a celery stalk. From The Wayfarer | NYC.

     

    As if everyone who drinks didn’t have enough on New Year’s Eve, January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day. Each year we feature a different Bloody Mary recipe.

    Some time ago we read about a famed Bloody Mary served at Ramos House in San Juan Capistrano, California.

    It was made with shochu instead of vodka, lower-proof and lower in calories. It was garnished with lots of dilly beans (pickled green beans) and a crab claw.

    So today’s tip is: Move past the celery stalk to more interesting Bloody Mary garnishes.
     
    RECIPE: ADAPTED FROM THE RAMOS HOUSE
    BLOODY MARY RECIPE

    Ingredients For 2.25 Quarts

  • 1 liter tomato juice*
  • .5 liter clam juice*
  • 1 bottle (750ml) vodka
  • 1 ounce prepared horseradish (from the refrigerator section
    of your market)
  • 1.5 ounces hot sauce
  • 1/4 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • Zest of 1-1/2 lemons
  • 6 tablespoons minced garlic
  • Garnish: crab claws, lobster claws or shrimp; dilly beans and/or pickled asparagus†
  • Optional garnishes: bacon strips and/or “antipasto skewers” (a cheese cube, grape tomato mozzarella ball, olive, pickled onion, sausage chunk or other antipasto ingredients—see bottom photo above)
  • Optional: ice cubes
  • Optional: cocktail straws‡
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients (except for garnishes) in a pitcher and chill before serving.

    2. FILL glasses with ice cubes, as desired. We prefer to pre-chill the drink rather than dilute it with ice cubes. Another option: Make the ice cubes from tomato juice.

    3. POUR into tall glasses, 3/4 full. Arrange the garnishes on top.
    _______________________________________________
    *Mott’s Clamato Juice is packed with HFCS—so sweet you could churn it into sorbet (see our review). It’s easy to mix plain tomato juice with plain clam juice.

    †We buy Tillen Farms’ Crispy Dilly Beans and Crispy Asparagus by the case, but you can pickle your own vegetables in just an hour or two. Here’s how to pickle vegetables.

    ‡If you pack the top with garnishes, a straw makes it easy to get to the drink below. How about these red cocktail straws? You can also provide inexpensive bamboo cocktail forks if your guests are too formal to eat the garnish with their fingers.

     
    MORE BLOODY MARYNESS

  • Bloody Mary Drink Bar Or Cart
  • Bloody Mary Ice Pops
  • Bloody Mary History
  • Bloody Mary Variations: Bloody Bull, Bloody Maria, Danish Mary, Highland Mary, Russian Mary
    and numerous others
  • BLT Bloody Mary
  • Deconstructed Bloody Mary
  • Michelada
  • More Bloody Mary Garnishes
  •  
    If you have a favorite Bloody Mary creation, please share.
     
    HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE NIBBLE!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Black-Eyed Peas For New Year’s Day

    It’s a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for prosperity in the new year. It may actually stem from an ancient Sephardic Jewish custom of eating them on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

    This “good luck” tradition is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled circa 500 CE., and includes other good luck foods such as beets, dates, leeks and spinach. This custom is still followed by Israeli Jews and Sephardic Jews the world over.

    Black-eyed peas are also called black-eyed beans, because they are a subspecies of the cowpea, called a pea but botanical a bean (here’s the difference). The beans are beige with a black “eye” on one side.

    Beans are a nutritional powerhouse as well as a very economical source of protein. Making an effort to have them on New Year’s Day may give you more luck, in the form of adding beans at least once a week to your diet.

    Beans can be enjoyed in a cold bean salad or mixed into a green salad, as a hot bean side or main dish, pureed into a dip and made into soup. There are even bean desserts; you may have encountered red bean ice cream and topping at Japanese restaurants (they’re azuki beans, sometimes mis-translated as adzuki beans).

      black-eyed-peas-iSt20474723-c-ViktorLugovskoy-230r

    Black-eyed peas are actually beans. Photo © ViktorLugovskoy | IST.

     
    Take a look at the cookbook Bean By Bean: More than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans.

    Peas and beans are both members of the same botanical family, Fabaceae, but belong to different genuses. Here are the details. Here’s the surprise: Peas and beans are actually fruits in botanical taxonomy, since they contain seeds and developed from the ovary of a flower.
     
     
    “LUCKY” RECIPE: HAM WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS & COLLARD GREENS

    Black-eyed peas and other beans are typically sold dried, and must be soaked a day in advance before cooking. Here’s a tip: rinsing the soaking water every few hours removes the compounds that cause flatulence in some people!

    You can also buy pre-soaked black-eyed peas and even pre-steamed back-eyed peas, ready to heat and eat. But these will cost more than buying dried beans.

    This recipe takes just 15-20 minutes of active prep time, plus several hours of passive soaking time. See the photo below for your finished meal.
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 12 ounces black-eyed peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • Pinch of chile flakes
  • 2 bunches of collard greens or substitute*
  • 24 ounces or more ham†
  • Dijon mustard
  • 1 tube of biscuit dough (or make biscuits from scratch)
  • Lemon half or wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For Serving

  • Butter for the biscuits
  • Dijon mustard for the ham
  •  
    *Collard greens are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, Brassicaceae, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and other commonly-enjoyed, anti-carcinogenic vegetables. Collards are most similar to kale, although bok choy and mustard greens are also good substitutes. Food trivia: Collards contain as much calcium as milk!

    †A typical serving is 4 ounces of ham per person. If your group likes larger portions, plan accordingly.

     

    Ham, Collards, Black-Eyed Peas

    Bean by Bean Cookbook

    TOP PHOTO: Have black-eyed peas with
    collards and ham for brunch, lunch or dinner
    on January 1st. Photo and recipe courtesy
    Good Eggs | San Francisco. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    A cookbook about beans is an asset,
    nutritionally and economically. Photo
    courtesy Workman Publishing.

     

    Preparation

    You can do the first two steps a day or two before you serve the dish.

    1. PLACE the dried beans in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Soak them overnight; if you forget, you can soak them for at least 4 hours the day of preparation. When done soaking, strain the beans in a colander, rinse the pot, return the beans to the pot and cover them with fresh water.

    2. ADD 2 bay leaves to the pot and set it over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, until the beans are velvety tender but not mushy. Dip a mug into the pot and reserve a bit of the starchy cooking liquid; then strain the beans and set aside.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the biscuits on the sheet. While the oven is preheating, slice the ham to 1/2″ thickness as desired: full slices, ham fingers, etc. When the oven is ready…

    4. BAKE the biscuits for about 30 minutes or per package directions, until they’re golden brown. Meanwhile…

    5. HEAT 3 tablespoons of olive oil, more as needed, in a heavy-bottom pan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and a pinch of chile flakes and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until they’re softened and translucent.

    6. ADD the collard greens and turn the heat down to medium. Cook the greens and the onions together, occasionally tossing with tongs, for 10-12 minutes, until the greens are soft and tender.

    7. ADD the beans to the pan and cook together for a few minutes, until the beans have warmed through. It it seems too dry, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking water instead of more olive oil. Remove from the heat and season with a squeeze or two of lemon, plus a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste.

    Perhaps the most often-consumed black-eyed pea recipe for the New Year is…

     
    HOPPIN’ JOHN

    Hoppin’ John is a traditional Southern dish enjoyed on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to usher in a year of prosperity. It combines several good luck foods: beans, greens, pork and rice.

    Some recipes substitute ham hock, fatback, or country sausage for the conventional bacon; some add green peas, a splash of vinegar and/or favorite spices.

    Make Hoppin’ John as a hearty side with your favorite protein and a green salad. Here’s a Hoppin’ John recipe, plus a list of other “good luck” foods.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEANS in our Bean Glossary.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Berries In Champagne

    For an easy, light dessert to cap off your New Year’s Eve dinner, we nominate berries marinated in Champagne or other sparkling wine.

    Some sparkling wines are vinified to be sweet (see below). But if you can’t find one, or have dry sparkling wine on hand, you can mix it with a bit of agave (a great low-glycemic sweetener) or honey to sweeten the marinade.

    You can also use simple syrup if you have it on hand. It’s more difficult to dissolve sugar; but if that’s all you have, pulse it to a superfine consistency in a food processor.

    If you sweeten the marinade, note that agave is twice as sweet as honey and sugar, so you need less of it. Agave is like honey in sweetness and viscosity, but without the unique honey flavor.

    Final tip: Champagne is expensive, so for the marinade you can substitute a more affordable sweet wine like Moscato. It can be found for just $8 or $9 a bottle. Splurge on a sweet-style Champagne to serve with the berries; or continue on with the Moscato.

       
    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/berries whipped cream truwhip 230

    Marinate berries for 30 minutes before serving. Photo courtesy TruWhip.

     

    RECIPE: CHAMPAGNE MARINATED BERRIES

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1/2 cup sweeter-style Champagne or other sparkling wine
  • Optional: agave or honey to taste
  • 2 pints berries—ideally assorted raspberries, sliced strawberries, and whatever else tastes good
    seasonally
  • 2 cups whipped cream (substitute 8 ounces mascarpone)
  • Optional garnish: 8 amaretti cookies, coarsely crumbled
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the Champagne and agave in a large bowl. Add the berries; toss gently to combine. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or longer.

    2. PLACE 3/4 cup berry mixture in each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 cup whipped cream or a dab of mascarpone. Divide the crushed amaretti cookies among servings.
     

     

    Brut Champagne

    Veuve Cliquot Demi Sec Champagne

    TOP PHOTO: Brut Champagne is the most
    commonly-purchased style, but it’s too dry
    and acidic to go well with desserts. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Instead, look for a demi-sec
    Champagne, which has more residual sugar
    to match the sweetness of the dessert.

     

    THE SEVEN LEVELS OF SWEETNESS IN CHAMPAGNE

    Champagne is made in seven styles, or levels, of sweetness. The sweetness comes from a step in the secondary fermentation of Champagne, when the bubbles are created. The process is called dosage (doe-SAZH): a small amount of sugar is added into the wine bottles before they are corked. The sugar also reduces the tartness/acidity of the wine.

  • Primary fermentation of Champagne: In the classic méthode champenoise used to make Champagne, Cava and American sparkling wines, the primary, or alcoholic, fermentation of the wine transforms the grape must (the pressed juice of the grapes) into wine. Natural yeast consumes the natural grape sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Secondary fermentation of Champagne: To create a secondary fermentation, the dosage is added to the wine. The the added yeasts eat the added sugar, again creating alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  •  
    Based on the amount of sugar in the dosage, the seven levels of sweetness based on residual sugar (what’s left after the secondary fermentation) are:

  • Brut Nature/Brut Zero: 0-3 g/l* residual sugar
  • Extra Brut: 0-6 g/l residual sugar
  • Brut: 0-12 g/l residual sugar
  • Extra Dry†: 12-17 g/l residual sugar
  • Dry: 17-32 g/l RS residual sugar
  • Demi-Sec: 32-50 g/l residual sugar
  • Doux: 50+ g/l residual sugar
  •  
    ________________________________________
    *Grams per liter.

    †It’s a paradox in the Champagne industry that “dry” indicates a sweeter wine; as do sec (which means dry in French) and demi-sec. Doux, the sweetest style of Champagne, does mean sweet.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Preserved Meyer Lemons

    In addition to other splendid winter citrus, it’s Meyer Lemon season, through March.

    Meyer lemons are much sweeter and more flavorful than the Bearss and Lisbon varieties commonly found in American grocery stores (here are the different types of lemons). They have much less acid, making the juice sweeter and brighter.

    Here’s the history of Meyer lemons, discovered as an ornamental houseplant in China; along with how to use them, how to grow your own and a delicious recipe for Meyer Lemon Sorbet.

    Today’s tip: Make preserved lemons, for yourself and as gifts. If you read this when Meyer lemons are not in season, grab any supermarket lemons.

    Preserved lemon is a condiment made of whole lemons that have been pickled in a brine of water, lemon juice, salt and sometimes, spices (essentially they’re pickled lemons, and the same treatment makes the pickled limes beloved of Amy March in Little Women).

    The lemons then ferment at room temperature for weeks, or even months. The result is a concentrated and earthy lemon flavor without too much tartness when made with regular lemons; and even sweeter when made with Meyer lemons.

       

    Meyer Lemon Tree

    Meyer lemons were discovered as house- plants in China. You can continue the tradition in your own home. This mini tree is from BrighterBlooms.com.

     
    Preserved Meyer lemons are an umami food that have been called an “amazingly tasty ingredient,” guaranteed to convert you to their allure.

    The salt mellows out the bitterness in the rind and pith, and punches up lemonness, which is often described as “sunny”—just what’s needed during gray winter days.

    WAYS TO USE PRESERVED LEMONS

    Preserved lemons are popular in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisines. But you don’t have to make a tagine; you can use this bright condiment in Western cuisines, with anything from meatballs to tortellini.

    Preserved lemons can replace regular lemons—juice, slices or zest—in any savory recipe, from meat (beef, chicken, lamb, stews) and poultry to fish and seafood (a perfect pairing), grains (think beyond couscous to any cooked grains you enjoy), vegetarian stews, even salad dressing.

     

    Preserved Lemons

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/preserved meyer lemons in jar goodeggs 230

    It takes just 5 minutes to prepare preserved
    lemons. Then they sit for 3-4 weeks in the
    fridge until soft and succulent. Photos and
    recipe courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    PRESERVED LEMON RECIPES

    From TheNibble.com

  • Dips: Add a fine dice to guacamole, hummus and salsa. Try one teaspon per cup, and adjust to your preference.
  • Israeli Salad: Preserve lemon is added by North African Jews.
  • Garnish for Fried Green Tomatoes.
  • Grain salads and pilafs: Add a dice of preserved lemon to barley, farro, rice, quinoa and other grains.
  • Kebabs: Add them to the skewers of any meat, fish/seafood or vegetable kabobs. Try these Moroccan Potato Kebabs.
  • Moroccan Baked Chicken & Olives is a classic. You can substitute fish fillets for the chicken.
  • Pesto and other sauces: Start with a teaspoon or less. You want to add mystery rather than wallop.
  • Pasta: Toss any pasta with olive oil, sliced garlic and diced or sliced preserved lemon. Here’s a recipe for Tortellini With Bay Leaf & Preserved Lemon.
  • Soup Garnish: Slice and serve in ramekins along with chopped cilantro, croutons, green onions, chopped parsley and tomatoes, so people can customize their bowls of soup (here’s a recipe for Tunisian Chickpea Soup).
  • Stews of any kind: Add a tablespoon or more to taste, even if no lemon is specified in the original recipe.
  • Vinaigrette: Use a blender or food processor to combine diced preserved lemon with olive oil and vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
  •  
    Here are more recipes from Bon Appetit and the Huffington Post.

    What About Pizza?

    Of course! No recipe list would be complete without a pizza with preserved lemon.

    It can be as simple as fresh basil, smoked mozzarella and preserved lemon; or fresh ricotta, preserved lemon, basil and za’atar*. Trust us: These are well worth making.

     
     
    RECIPE: PRESERVED MEYER LEMONS

    It requires just 5 minutes of active time to make preserved lemons. Then, they sit and ferment for 3-4 weeks.

    Instead of making them in a quart jar, you can use two pint jars and give one as a gift.

    Ingredients For 1 Quart

  • 6 Meyer lemons, cut into quarters
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • Juice of 3 Meyer lemons†*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried chile
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the lemons, chile and bay leaves and salt in a bowl, then pack them tightly into a sterilized quart jar with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the juice then seal the jar.

    2. LET sit at room temperature for three days, turning the jar over once or twice a day. After three days, place the jar in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, until the rind has softened. They’re then ready to use.

    If you want to give them as gifts before the three weeks are up, tie a ribbon around the jar with a tag that tells the date on which the lemons will be ready; and that they’ll keep for a year in the fridge.
     
    *Also spelled zahtar, za’atar is a spice blend that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. It 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, which impart a tart, fruity flavor that differentiates za’atar from other spice blends. Traditional ingredients include marjoram, oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, savory and sumac. Za’atar is used to season meat and vegetables, mixed with olive oil and spread on pita wedges or flatbread, added to hummus, and for a modern touch, sprinkled on pizza, especially ones with feta cheese.

    †You can first zest the lemons and use the zest in anything else you make today, from grains and vegetables to hot tea or sparkling water.

      

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    RECIPE: The Easiest Seasonal Bundt Cake

    If you’re home from work for the holidays with guests dropping by, here’s a very easy seasonal bundt cake recipe. It freezes well, so you can stick it in the freezer and cut slices whenever you need them. It’s a delicious alternative to coffee cake, and a homey cake to bake for friends.

    What makes it so easy is starting with a cinnamon bundt cake mix. The best one we’ve tried is the Cinnamon Streusel Bundt Mix from Nordicware, makers of the bundt pan. At $15 a box it isn’t inexpensive, but it’s as good as homemade. As an alternative, Krusteaz and Betty Crocker have a mix for $2.50.

    For a seasonal touch, Chef Tom Fraker of Melissas.com added dried cranberries; we added pecans.

    For a fancier dessert, you can drizzle the slices with butterscotch or caramel sauce and garnish with whipped cream or mascarpone.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY-APPLE CINNAMON BUNDT CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1 box cinnamon bundt cake mix
  • Eggs, milk, and butter per cake mix directions
  • 2 Gala* apples, peeled and diced small
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Optional garnish: powdered sugar
  •  

    Cranberry Apple Bundt Cake

    A cinnamon streusel bundt, loaded with seasonal cranberries and pecans. Photo courtesy Melissas.

     
    *You can substitute the more tart Granny Smith or the more sweet Empire apples. All three hold their shape when baked.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the cake batter according to package instructions.

    2. TOSS the diced apples in flour and shake off the excess. Fold the apples, cranberries and pecans into the cake batter. Bake the cake as directed on the package.

    3. DUST the cake with powdered sugar right before serving (otherwise it will absorb into the cake). Place the sugar in a small sieve (mini strainer), hold it over the cake and tap it to dust the top.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Make Cranberry Mimosa cocktails or mocktails. Photo courtesy Ocean Spray.

     

    There’s still time to create a signature drink for Christmas: a Cranberry Mimosa cocktail or mocktail. It combines cranberry juice with sparkling wine (or ginger ale), instead of the orange juice of a traditional Mimosa.

    Or use cranberry liqueur for a Cranberry Kir Royale, a.k.a. Kir Royale à la Canneberge (if you haven’t guessed, canneberge [can-BERZH] is French for cranberry). Note that using liqueur instead of juice creates a stronger drink.

    You can also serve a Mimosa mocktail with cranberry juice and ginger ale, and a diet version with diet cranberry juice and diet ginger ale.

     
    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS MIMOSA, CRANBERRY KIR ROYALE OR CRANBERRY MOCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces cranberry juice or cranberry liqueur
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine*, regular or rosé, chilled
  • Optional garnish: lemon curl, strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cranberry juice/liqueur and the sparkling wine in a Champagne flute or wine glass. Add the juice first. If you need to stir, do so gently, once, so as not to collapse the bubbles.

    2. GARNISH as desired and serve.
     
    *Well-priced sparkling wines include Asti Spumante and Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France and our Top Pick Of The Week, Yellow Tail Bubbly.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented circa 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, by bartender Frank Meier. Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar color to the drink.

    The optional addition of a small amount of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier complements the juice and gives the drink more complexity.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. A Grapefruit Mimosa with grapefruit juice is a popular variation. A related drink, the Buck’s Fizz†, has two parts Champagne to one part juice—and sometimes a splash of grenadine. Created at London’s Buck’s Club by bartender Pat McGarryhe, the Buck’s Fizz predates the Mimosa by about four years.

    If you’re making Mimosas, fresh-squeezed orange juice makes a huge difference. One expert recommends trying different types of orange juice: The sweeter Navel juice vs. the more acidic Valencia, for example. Blood oranges, with their rosy color and raspberry notes, will provide a different experience entirely (and a wonderful one!).

    [Source]
     
    †Buck and mule are old names for mixed drinks made with ginger ale or ginger beer, plus citrus juice. They can be made with any base liquor. Why buck? Why mule? That answer is lost to history, but here’s a detailed discussion.
     
      

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