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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

blueberry-cheesecake-mini-jennifer-bakeorbreak-colorfulharvestFB-230

Way cool: a no bake blueberry cheesecake.
Photo courtesy Bake Or Break | Colorful
Harvest.

 

As the heat soared yesterday, we turned to our tried-and-true summer recipes, including this No Bake Cheesecake from Jennifer of BakeOrBreak.com, (via Colorful Harvest).

The crust is a simple combination of crushed vanilla wafers and melted butter. While baking the crust helps it to set more firmly, the purpose of this recipe is to keep the heat out of the kitchen.

Similarly, the cheese filling isn’t baked, but sets in the refrigerator. Prep time is 30 minutes.

RECIPE: NO BAKE BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKES

Ingredients For One 8 Inch Or
Two 4-1/2 Inch Cheesecakes

For The Crust

  • 5 ounces finely crushed vanilla wafers* (about 40 cookies)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries (2 to 2-1/2 cups)†
  •  
    For The Optional Garnish

  • Whipped cream
  • Fresh blueberries
  •  
    *Jennifer prefers Trader Joe’s vanilla wafers, but you can default to the ubiquitous Nabisco Nilla Wafers.

    †Set aside the nicest blueberries for the garnish.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust: Mix together vanilla wafer crumbs and melted butter until mixture is combined and the crumbs are moistened. Divide crust mixture evenly between two 4-1/2-inch diameter springform pans or one 8-inch pan. Press into bottom and about halfway up the sides of each pan. Set pan(s) in the freezer for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

    2. MAKE the filling: Place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined. Add blueberries and pulse until thoroughly mixed. Divide filling between each prepared crust (if making two cheesecakes). Cover and refrigerate overnight.

    3. REMOVE sides of pans before serving. Garnish with a dab of whipped ream and a few fresh blueberries.

     

    the-ultimate-no-bake-dessert-cookbook-230

    An entire summer’s worth of desserts. Check out the book. Photo courtesy Grand Central Life & Style.

     

    MORE NO COOK, NO BAKE RECIPES

    Imagine quick and easy no cook, no bake savory meals plus cakes, pies, ice cream cakes, cookies and more more no-bake cheesecakes. Make tasty desserts in minutes that taste like you have worked for hours. Feed your family fast, stove- and oven-free, in the heat.

    Sound good? Then check out:

  • “The No-Cook No-Bake Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes for When It’s Too Hot to Cook” (more information)
  • “No Bake Cookies, Bars & Pies” (more information)
  • “No Bake Makery: More Than 80 Two-Bite Treats Made with Lovin’, Not an Oven” (more information)
  • “No Bake Cookies” (more information)
  • “32 No Bake Pie Recipes” (Kindle only—more information)
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Radish & Stone Fruit Salad

    Fruit-and-Radish-Salad-gentyHyers-chefscollectiveFB-230

    A salad can be much more than dressed
    leafy greens. Photo courtesy Gentyl & Hyers
    | Chefs Collaborative.

     

    Chef’s Collaborative is a nonprofit, national network of member chefs who work to promote clean, sustainable food. They’ve created a cookbook of recipes that are imaginative and refreshing, yet can be enjoyed every day. Sign up for the newsletter on the website for additional ideas.

    The unconventional “salad” recipe below strays from the well-worn path of green vegetables.

    There’s nothing leafy, instead presenting a mélange of peppery radishes, tangy feta cheese, sweet peaches and earthy almonds. You can substitute mangoes or strawberries when peaches are not in season.

    The recipe is the creation of member chef Michael Schwartz of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. You can serve it as a separate salad course or as a side dish. Prep time is 20 minutes.

     
    RECIPE: RADISH & FETA SALAD WITH STONE FRUIT SALAD

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 3 to 4 radishes
  • 2 pounds fresh peaches, strawberries, or mangoes, peeled or stemmed as needed) and cut into 1/4-inch slices or wedges
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or other mild vinegar like white balsamic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup mild feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  •  

    PREPARATION

    1. CUT the onions into thinly slices, using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. You should end up with about 1/4 cup.

    2. FILL a small bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes and soak the onions for 5 minutes. This mellows the sharp bite typical of raw onions and makes them crisp. Drain the onions and pat dry with paper towels. Thinly slice the radishes.

    3. COMBINE the oil and vinegar in a bowl with some salt and black pepper and whisk to combine. Add the peaches, onions, radishes, and basil, tossing gently to evenly coat the ingredients. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired.

    4. DIVIDE the salad equally among six plates and top with the crumbled feta and toasted almonds.

     

    The-Chefs-Collaborative-Cookbook-230

    Chefs Collaborative Cookbook: Local, Sustainable, Delicious: Recipes from America’s Great Chefs. The cookbook is a cornucopia of recipes with bright, fresh flavors. Photo courtesy Taunton Press.

     

    GET THE COOKBOOK

    We rarely thumb through a cookbook and want to make everything. Get this one as a gift for yourself or anyone who likes imaginative seasonal cuisine.

    You can purchase it on Amazon.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey & Food Pairings

    honey-colors-230-NHB

    Based on the plant from which the pollen is
    harvested, each varietal honey has a distinctive
    flavor and color. Photo courtesy National
    Honey Board.

     

    Mass produced “supermarket honey” is blended specifically to have a generic flavor. As with table sugar, it delivers a uniform, sweet, simple taste to consumers time after time.

    But raw varietal honey—varietal referring to the variety of plant from which it was derived—can be compared to wine, tea and coffee in its character and complexity. Different varietals produce different flavors (and colors, too).

    As wine aficionados pair different flavors of wines with specific foods, so do honey sophisticates. The pairings can be revelations, similar to discovering how well a fruity red wine goes with grilled salmon.

    The pairings below were developed by Zeke Freeman of Bee Raw Honey, using his American honey varietals. They just beg to be served at a honey-pairing brunch.

    You may find other pairings you like even better. Make a party of it!

    And check out the recipes at Bee Raw Honey, which recommend, among other ideas, blueberry honey for glazed carrots, buckwheat honey for salmon fillets and orange blossom honey for a chicken or turkey glaze.

    Basswood Honey

    Basswood honey is light in color, delicate and mild, with warm herbal notes and a clean finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Fromage blanc
  • Fruit Pairing: Fresh green apples
  • Dairy Pairing: Vanilla ice cream
  • Tea Pairing: Mint and spice teas
  •  
    Black Sage Honey

    Golden in color, black sage honey is mild, with a mouth-warming hint of pepper and a smooth clean finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Parmaggiano Reggiano
  • Fruit Pairing: Wine-poached pears
  • Dairy Pairing: Goat cheese ice cream
  • Tea Pairing: Black tea, especially Ceylon
  •  
    Blueberry Honey

    A medium amber in color, blueberry honey is strong and sweet, with earthy components.

  • Cheese Pairing: Stilton and other milder blue cheeses
  • Fruit Pairing: Lemon, melons
  • Dairy Pairing: Crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Tea Pairing: Oolong tea
  •  
    Buckwheat Honey

    You can tell from the deep brown color that this honey is a different experience from the “simple sweetness” most people expect. Strongly-flavored like sorghum or molasses, this honey has hints of mossy earth, malty notes and less sweetness in general.

  • Cheese Pairing: Fresh goat cheeses, ricotta cheese
  • Fruit Pairing: Broiled grapefruit
  • Dairy Pairing: Greek yogurt
  • Tea Pairing: Elderflower tea
  •  

    Clover Honey

    Lighter yellow in hue, delicate, sweet and buttery, a top yellow clover honey can deliver warm undertones of cinnamon and nutmeg.

  • Cheese Pairing: Chevre
  • Fruit Pairing: Figs
  • Tea Pairing: Hot and iced chai
  •  
    Cranberry Honey

    True to its floral source, this medium amber honey has a delicate cranberry aroma and amildly tart flavor with subtle floral hints and a light, fruity finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Gruyère
  • Fruit Pairing: Apples and tangerines
  • Tea Pairing: Chamomile tea, iced green tea
  •  

    butternut-squash-buckwheat-honey-beeraw-230

    Stout and complex buckwheat honey, with earthy notes like sorghum or molasses, pairs nicely with sweet butternut squash. Photo courtesy BeeRaw.com.

     
    Orange Blossom Honey

    The light amber color and subtle flavor notes of citrus are a hint that you’re enjoying orange blossom honey.

  • Cheese Pairing: Manchego and other aged sheep’s milk cheeses
  • Fruit Pairing: Lemon, lemonade
  • Tea Pairing: English Breakfast, Ceylon
  •  
    Raspberry Honey

    Light amber-hued raspberry honey is delicate and floral with a raspberry finish.

  • Fruit Pairing: Raspberries, peaches, pears
  • Dairy Pairing: Sour cream
  • Tea Pairing: English Breakfast, Earl Grey
  •  
    Sourwood Honey

    Sourwood honey is dark amber: highly floral, rich and buttery with a maple finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Camembert and other bloomy rind cheeses
  • Fruit Pairing: Grilled peaches
  • Dairy Pairing: Clotted cream
  • Tea Pairing: Classic iced tea, strong green tea
  •  
    Star Thistle Honey

    One of the palest gold honeys, yet thick and creamy, star thistle honey has soft notes of cinnamon and a long, sweet finish.

  • Cheese Pairing: Fresh cheeses: chèvre, ricotta
  • Fruit Pairing: Oven-roasted apples, pears
  • Drink Pairing: Hot apple cider
  •  
    MORE ABOUT HONEY

    Honey was treated as a fine edible in ancient Egypt, with its terroir noted on each honey vessel. How did it become a product of simple, sticky sweetness?

    As with much of the food in our culture, our palates have become dulled by over-salted, over-sweetened, processed food. Since producing and harvesting honey is extremely labor intensive; one worker honey bee makes just 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime!

    So producers give most consumers what they want—an acceptable price, as opposed to superior quality. Some honey isn’t even 100% honey, but has been cut and extended with fillers to keep the price down.

    Pick up a copy of The Honey Connoisseur: Selecting, Tasting, and Pairing Honey, With a Guide to More Than 30 Varietals.

    And if you’re a honey fan, start to look at honey the way you look at wine: Spend less on the honey you use in baking or cooking, spend more on the honey you enjoy on a piece of toast.

    Each region is known for honey derived from their local crops: blueberry honey from Maine, lavender honey from Provence (France), orange blossom honey from Florida, sourwood honey from Georgia.

    Check out farmers markets and specialty food stores that let you taste different honeys. You’ll find herbal, floral, spicy, tart and other nuances that will sing to you.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Martini

    olive-oil-martini-foodista-230

    A slick of olive oil may seem unusual atop a
    Martini, but it adds a nifty layer of texture
    and flavor. Photo courtesy Foodista.com.

     

    Many people enjoy an olive or two in their Martinis. Whether you do or you don’t, try an Olive Oil Martini.

    It’s a relatively new concept developed by the Chile Olive Oil marketing folks, to create a new cocktail experience and showcase the high quality of olive oils from Chile.

    A drop of top-quality extra-virgin olive oil is floated atop the drink, adding a bit of fruity olive oil flavor and providing a balm-like slick to the lips.

    You can use any premium EVOO you have to mix up a special Father’s Day cocktail. Simply mix your favorite Martini recipe, and float a quarter-teaspoon of oil on top.

    Or, try this fusion of a Martini and a Margarita (via the Cointreau), a recipe from Chile Olive Oil:

     
    RECIPE: CHILEAN EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL MARTINI

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 orange segment
  • 3-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/4 ounce Chilean Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the orange segment and basil leaves in a cocktail shaker.

    2. ADD vodka, vermouth, Cointreau, simple syrup and olive oil; then add ice and shake well.

    3. STRAIN into a martini glass and float a drop of Chilean extra virgin olive oil over the top.

     

    ABOUT OLIVE OIL FROM CHILE

    Chile’s unique geography provides valleys to successfully grow any olive cultivar under optimal growing conditions in a Mediterranean-like climate, with cold rainy winters and hot and dry summers.

    The country grows Arbequina, Arbusana, Barnea, Coratina, Empeltre, Frantoio, Koroneiqui, Leccino, Manzanilla, Picual and Racimo varieties. The summer heat lets the olives reach optimum maturity, with great fruit expression.

    Because of the quality imparted by the climate, the country produces extra virgin oil exclusively. There are no oils that have to be classified in lower rankings such as Virgin or the generic Olive Oil. (See the different types of olive oil.)

    Streamlined New World production enables the olives to go from tree to oil in less than twenty-four hours—important to preserve the qualities that enable the oils to be classified as extra-virgin. The olives are picked, cold-pressed and bottled right at the orchard, delivering great freshness.

     

    olive-and-co-chile-230

    There are scores of Chilean olive oil brands available in the U.S. Photo courtesy Olive Oil & Co. | Chile.

     

    As a result, Chilean oil has become well known around the world for its quality, racking up awards in internationally recognized olive oil competitions.
     
    EXTRA VIRGIN VS. VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

    Extra Virgins are the fruitiest, finest, most olive-y oils, and are priced at a premium. “Fruity” means that the oils have pleasant, spicy fruit flavors characteristic of fresh ripe or green olives. Ripe fruit yields oils that are milder, aromatic, buttery and floral.

    To be classified as Extra Virgin, the olive oil must have low acidity—a maximum free acidity of 0.8%. Anything higher is simply “virgin” olive oil—good enough for cooking but not for savoring.

    Chilean extra virgin olive oils have acidity levels as low as 0.2%! Discover more at ChileOliveOil.com.
     
    KNOW YOUR OLIVE OIL

    Check out these olive oil terms.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Stone Fruit Salad

    “Everybody must get stoned!” sang Bob Dylan in Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.

    Someone, whip him up a stone fruit salad!

    1. MIX together your favorite greens. We like to add something peppery as a counterpoint to the sweet fruit, such as baby arugula, daikon/radish and/or watercress. We also like to add crunch, in the form of celery, jicama or water chestnuts (the radish does double duty with pepperiness and crunch).

    2. TOSS the salad with a light vinaigrette. Try this champagne vinaigrette, or a traditional balsamic vinaigrette, both of which add a bit of sweetness. You can also add a tablespoon of orange juice to a regular vinaigrette.

    3. LAYER with sliced stone fruits—either a single fruit or an assortment. You can leave on the skin.

    4. SERVE as a side salad or as a main salad with the addition of goat cheese (or other favorite cheese), chicken breast or other protein.

    It’s stone fruit season. Dig in!

       

    stone-fruit-spring-mix-melissas-230

    A stone fruit salad with nectarines and peaches. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    WHAT ARE STONE FRUITS?

    Stone fruits are members of the Prunus genus, and include apricots, cherries, nectarines, olives, peaches, plums, and cherries and cross-breeds such as apriums, plumcots and pluots.

    A stone fruit, also called a drupe, is a fruit with a large, hard stone (pit) inside a fleshy fruit. The stone is often thought of as the the seed, but the seed is actually inside the stone.

    In fact, almonds, pecans and walnuts are examples of the seeds inside the stones. They’re also drupes, but a type in which we eat the seed inside the pit instead of the surrounding fruit.

    Drupes are members of the Rosaceae family—the rose family—which includes shrubs as well as other prominent fruits (in other genuses) such as apples, loquats, pears, quinces and strawberries.

    Not all drupes are stone fruits. The coconut is also a drupe, as are bramble fruits such as blackberries and raspberries. June through September is prime stone fruit season in the U.S.

     

    scarlet-nectarines-thefruitcompany-230

    Nectarines, bursting with flavor, ready for a
    salad. Photo courtesy The Fruit Company.

     

    HOW TO ENJOY STONE FRUITS

    Chef Johnny Gnall says:

    “I like to eat stone fruit raw whenever possible. But grilled stone fruit is also delicious; peaches and nectarines are exquisite.” His advice:

  • To grill, halve, pit and cook the fruits just long enough to mark them. The sweetness comes out with the heat and the earthy char in the markings complements them.
  • Another great way to take advantage of stone fruits is to purée them and turn them into emulsified vinaigrettes. Purée the fruit with a bit of hot water, just enough to get things spinning smoothly. Then add the acid and seasonings, and finish with oil as you would a conventional vinaigrette.
  • Bright flavors from a dressing like this work for salads and also as meat marinades: Think pork chops!
  • Here’s a stone fruit salsa recipe.
  •  

    Don’t forget a regular fruit salad, ice cream, smoothies and sorbet!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Think Inside The Sub

    diane-goat-cheese-230

    Diane is a personal favorite, filled with
    radicchio, grilled onions, roasted tomato,
    roasted zucchini, goat cheese, balsamic
    vinegar and olive oil. Photo courtesy City
    Sandwich | NYC.

     

    We recently wandered into City Sandwich, a New York City sub shop with a different perspective: top-quality ingredients sandwiched without any mayonnaise or fatty sauces.

    Chef Michael Guerrieri, who was born in Naples, raised in New York and cooked in Lisbon, has created a menu of Italian-Portuguese fusion sandwiches. He swapped the mayo for yogurt sauces and a splash of olive oil, and traded conventional submarine rolls for those from a Portuguese bakery, working with the baker to perfect the consistency of the bread.

    His menu of sandwich is named for friends and family, suggesting an idea for a sandwich-making party at home. Lay out the ingredients, let everyone design his or her own sandwich, and email the results and ingredients to all participants.

    Here’s a sampling of the menu at City Sandwich—a long list with choices among eggs, meats, raw food, vegetarian and vegan ingredients—clearly a different mix inside the sub. But we wanted to eat everything, and even after cuts, the list is:

     

  • Adriana: sautéed eggplant, fresh ricotta, sautéed red onion, fresh basil, roasted garlic, olive oil
  • Alex: spicy sopressata, red and white sliced onions, roasted red and yellow peppers, julienned spinach, julienned Parmigiano, capers, piri piri peppers
  • Altan: fresh mozzarella, tomato, seasonal lettuce, basil-pesto-yogurt sauce
  • Antonio: roasted zucchini, roasted onions, roasted tomato, melted mozzarella, olive oil
  • Auntie: homemade pickled sardines, sautéed onions, cilantro, olive oil
  • Bench Girl: omelet, alheira* sausage, grilled onions, spinach, melted mozzarella, olive oil
  • Breakfast: linguiça sausage, egg white or regular omelet, spicky kale, sauteed onions, melted mozzarella, olive oil
  • The Buckle: an all-raw sandwich with alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, garlic, green and red shredded cabbage, green beans, kale, shaved carrot, watercress, yellow squash, zucchini and black bean lemon vinaigrette
  • The Chef: soaked codfish, tomato, seasonal lettuce, sautéed onions, capers, black olive pesto, olive oil
  • Chrissy: sliced free range chicken breast, steamed kale, pancetta, melted mozarella, sautéed onions, olive oil
  • Christina: roasted eggplant, fresh basil, roasted tomato, melted mozzarella, garlic, olive oil
  • Cornelia: roasted seasonal, vegetables, roasted tomato, fresh rosemary, olive oil
  •  

  • Diane: radicchio, grilled onions, roasted tomato, roasted zucchini, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, olive oil
  • Dave: fresh sausage, broccoli rabe, tomato, peperoncino, melted mozzarella, garlic, olive oil
  • Fatima: octopus salad, diced onions, diced peppers, arugula, fresh parsley, mustard vinaigrette
  • Franco: prosciutto, mozzarella, roasted peppers, arugula, raw garlic, olive oil
  • Gary & Phil: ham, turkey, onions, tomato, watercress, honey-Dijon-yogurt sauce
  • Henrique: alheira sausage*, steamed collard greens, grilled onions, melted mozzarella, olive oil
  • Helena: homemade linguiça* sausage spread, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, sautéed onions, watercress, olive oil
  • Italian-Portuguese Steak Melt: thinly sliced beef, roasted peppers, pancetta, caramelized onions, melted fresh mozzarella, olive oil
  •  

    salvatore-230

    Photo courtesy City Sandwich | NYC.

  • James: roast beef, roasted peppers, broccoli rabe, melted mozzarella, sautéed onions, olive oil
  • Jerry: smoked salmon, tomato, chopped onions, seasonal lettuce, shallot-dill-yogurt sauce
  • Jo & Nairobi: sliced free range chicken breast, stewed zucchini, stewed tomato, stewed onions, melted mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil
  • Ken: steamed Italian sausage (crumbled), stewed garlic and tomatoes, melted mozzarella, sautéed onions, sliced jalapeños, olive oil
  • Lenten Loaf: smoked salmon, sliced tomatoes, mesclun salad, ranch dressing
  • LGBT: linguiça* spread, goat cheese, Portuguese bacon, tomato, lettuce, sauteed onions, olive oil
  • LGBT Vegan: sautéed leeks, sautéed garlic, beets in aged balsamic and olive oil marinade, tofu in piri piri marinade, lettuce, olive oil
  • Lucy: steamed shrimp, watercress, chopped onions, tomato-honey-basil yogurt sauce
  • Maria: cooked egg whites, paio* sausage, broccoli rabe, sautéed onions, melted mozzarella, tomato, olive oil
  • Michael: crumbled sausage, home-roasted tomatoes and red and yellow peppers, melted mozzarella
  • Monica: cooked egg whites, sautéed onions, fresh oregano, melted mozzarella, olive oil
  • Nonna: omelet, sautéed onions, fresh oregano, melted mozzarella, olive oil
  • Nuno: morcela* sausage, broccoli rabe, tomato, collard greens, melted mozzarella, garlic, olive oil
  • Pavia: cooked egg whites, spinach, melted Brie, sautéed onions, tomato
  • Roberto: roast suckling pig, Portuguese bacon, caramelized onions, fresh baby spinach and optional chopped jalapeños
  • Rudy: turkey, roasted red and yellow peppers, fresh mozzarella, capers, basil pesto, fresh basil, garlic, ollive oil
  • Salvatore: chicken breast, roasted peppers, homemade prosciutto spread, watercress, sautéed onions, olive oil
  • Sofia: battered zucchini blossoms, salted zucchini, Portuguese linguiça sausage, sautéed onions, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil
  • Todd: smoked pancetta, seasonal lettuce, tomato, honey-Dijon-yogurt sauce
  • Victoria: chicken breast, broccoli rabe, tomato, sautéed onions, melted mozzarella, olive oil
  •  
    If the choice seems overwhelming: It is!

    There are also 12 different egg sandwiches, and seasonal specialties. Check out the menu on the website.

    You need to study the menu and make choices before showing up to order.

     
    *Alheira is a Portuguese sausage made with meats other than pork (usually veal, duck, chicken, quail or rabbit) and bread; linguiça is a smoke-cured pork sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika; morcela is a traditional Portuguese and Brazilian black sausage; paio is a smoked Portuguese and Brazilian sausage made of pork loin, garlic, bell pepper and salt.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ponzu Sauce

    ponzu-fotoosvanrobin-flickriver-230

    Ponzu sauce. Photo © Fotoos Van Robin |
    Flickriver.

     

    Following our recent endorsement of rice vinegar as an everyday condiment is this one for ponzu sauce.

    Ponzu is a thin, dark brown citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine. Often mixed with soy sauce (shoyu), it is a popular all-purpose condiment and dipping sauce.

    If you’ve ordered tempura in a Japanese restaurant, it was likely served with a small dish of ponzu.

    Ponzu sauce is traditionally made with rice vinegar, mirin (rice wine), katsuobushi (bonito tuna flakes) and konbu (seaweed). Some recipes use saké, a less sweet rice wine with a higher alcohol content.

    The ingredients are simmered and strained, and then citrus is added, typically yuzu, a bitter orange, or sudachi, a mandarin. (You can use lemon if you’re making it at home.)

    USES FOR PONZU SAUCE

    Mark Bittman of The New York Times calls it the rough equivalent of vinaigrette.

    Ponzu is an attractive condiment with both Western cuisine and its native Eastern cuisine. We recently substituted it for malt vinegar with French fries, and instead of mignonette sauce with oysters on the half shell.

     
    More ways to enjoy ponzu sauce:

  • With cooked and raw fish or seafood (try it with tataki, sashimi or a raw bar; it’s great with lightly-grilled fish and as a ceviche marinade.
  • With broiled or grilled beef, pork or poultry (baste with it).
  • As a dipping sauce for anything, from dumplings and tempura to nabemono and shabu-shabu from the East, to crudités and French fries from the West.
  • In marinades.
  • In stir-frys and stews (add during the last few minutes of cooking).
  • Instead of Worcestershire sauce in recipes.
  • Mixed into a dressing (with a little olive oil) for salads or cooked vegetables.
  •  

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE PONZU SAUCE

    This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman. It presumes you won’t have access to yuzu juice and uses commonly-available citrus. But in many cities, bottled yuzu juice (another of our favorite condiments) is readily available at specialty food stores and Asian markets.

    Ingredients For 2-1/2 Cups

  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, more to taste
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup quality soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (or 1/4 cup saké and 1 tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 3-inch piece kelp (konbu)
  • 1/2 cup (about 1/4 ounce) dried bonito flakes
  • Pinch cayenne

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a bowl. Let sit for 2 hours or overnight to let flavors meld.

    2. STRAIN before using. Refrigerated in an airtight container, ponzu will keep for at several days.

  •  

    ponzu-bottle-yakamiorchard-230

    Yakami Orchard makes very high quality Ponzu. Nicely packaged, it makes a fine gift for a good cook. You can buy it online. Photo courtesy Yakami Orchard.

     

    PONZU VS. CHIRIZU SAUCE

    Chirizu is a spicier variation of ponzu, made with daikon, lemon juice, saké, scallions, soy sauce and shichimi togarashi, a table spice made of seven ingredients, including red pepper (togarishi) and sansho pepper pods (which provide heat).

    It can be served with stronger-flavored sashimi that hold up to the heat (mackerel instead of fluke, for example); as well as with fried fish.

    Here’s a recipe if you’d like to make your own.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Rice Vinegar

    marukan-rice-vinegar_230

    Rice vinegar: It’s not just for Asian dishes.
    Photo courtesy Marukan.

     

    Sometimes you buy an ingredient for a particular recipe and then it sits on the shelf, forlorn, waiting for you to make that one dish again.

    Such was the case with the rice vinegar we purchased. It took us a while to integrate it into our daily cooking, but the results have been splendid. It’s less acidic than other vinegars.

  • Its well-balanced acidity makes it compatible not only with Asian dishes, but also with classic American, European and Hispanic foods.
  • Rice vinegar is milder than other vinegars, with a hint of sweetness that comes from the rice. It can thus dress even fruit dishes without overpowering the taste buds.
  • The higher vinegar content of white rice vinegar makes it the best choice for sweet and/or tangy dishes.
  •  
    WAYS TO USE RICE VINEGAR

    With zero fat and no calories, rice vinegar is a healthy way to add flavor to your dishes.

  • Substitute rice vinegar for other vinegar in salad dressings and for pickling vegetables. For a simple yet zingy salad dressing, combine two tablespoons of rice vinegar and one tablespoon of salad oil.
  •  

     

  • Add a spoonful to liven up soups, stews, and stir-fries.
  • Sprinkle rice vinegar over cooked vegetables.
  • Zest up marinades, barbecue and dipping sauces.
  • Add a touch to stir frys, in addition to any other sauce.
  • Sautés: Cook beef, chicken, beef and vegetables in equal amounts of soy sauce and rice vinegar.
  • Fruit Salad: Use rice vinegar to make fruit salad dressing—it’s not only lighter, but lacks the saltiness of other vinegars.
  • Use it in place of lemon juice.
  • Perk up or heighten flavors in anything that needs a lift.
  •  
    Do you have a favorite use for rice vinegar? Let us know!

     

    chicken-thighs-on-grill-kikkoman-230

    Use rice vinegar in your marinades. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Kikkoman.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Apricots

    chicken-apricot-rice-salad-riceselect-fb-230

    For a light lunch or a dinner first course:
    chicken and rice salad with apricots. Photo
    courtesy Rice Select.

     

    It’s apricot season! Full of beta-carotene, vitamin C and fiber, fresh apricots are one of the early signs of summer. They’re in season in the U.S. from May through August. Check your local farmers markets for the sweetest, tree-ripened fruits.

    Relatives of peaches, apricots are small, golden orange fruits, with velvety skin and flesh. A good apricot is sweet with a flavor that is described as somewhere between a peach and a plum.

    APRICOT NUTRITION

    Apricots are an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, copper, dietary fiber, and potassium, as well as other vitamins and minerals.

    The fruit’s phytochemicals (carotenoids, powerful antioxidants, including lycopene) help to prevent heart disease, reduce LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels and offer protection against some cancers

     

    WAYS TO ENJOY APRICOTS

  • As a hand fruit, for snacking.
  • Slice atop hot or cold cereal or granola.
  • Chop into pancake batter.
  • Add to a green salad or cooked grains (barley, couscous, quinoa, etc.).
  • Churn into ice cream or sorbet.
  • Make into a dessert sauce.
  • Soak in wine and cook with duck or pork.
  • Make jam.
  •  
    Dried apricots are available year-round, and are handy to:

  • Give a Middle Eastern flavor to chicken or vegetable stews.
  • Dip in chocolate.
  • Add to oatmeal cookies, white chocolate chip cookies, bar cookies, muffins, scones, breads and pastry.
  • Chop and added to stuffing.
  •  
    Apricots are also distilled into brandy and liqueur. Essential oil from the pits is sold commercially as bitter almond oil.
     
    Try this Chicken Apricot Rice Salad from RiceSelect.com. You can make it with fresh or dried apricots (or a combination of both, for varying tastes and textures). Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 25 minutes.

     

    RECIPE: RICE SALAD WITH CHICKEN & APRICOTS
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 6 cups cooked Texmati Light Brown Rice*, prepared with
    low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked
    and shredded
  • 1 cup chopped fresh or dried apricots
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • Lettuce leaves
  •  
    *Texmati Light Brown Rice, from Rice Select, is the quicker-cooking alternative to traditional brown rice. It cooks like white rice, yet tastes like brown rice and appeals to the nutrition-conscious consumer. You can substitute white rice or wild rice, or use another grain (barley, couscous, quinoa, etc.).

     

    apricots_plate-230r

    Fresh apricots are a fleeting summer treat. Photo courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. WHISK together lime juice, oil, honey and ginger in small bowl; set aside.

    2. COMBINE rice, chicken, apricots, onions and raisins in large bowl. Chill at least 1 hour. Just before serving, drizzle dressing over salad.

    3. COVER individual plates with lettuce leaves and top with salad.

     
    APRICOT HISTORY

    Like peaches, apricots are originally from China. They arrived in Europe via Armenia*, where they have been cultivated since ancient times. Their botanical name is Prunus armenaica. (The Prunus genus of trees and shrubs includes the stone fruits: apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and plums, plus almonds.) The Greeks called apricots “golden eggs of the sun.”

    The first American apricot tree arrived in Virginia in 1720, but it was thanks to the Spanish missions of California that the crop became widely planted, beginning around 1792. The sunny California climate is perfectly suited to the tree, and most tree-ripened apricots sold in the U.S. come from California orchards. Turkey, Italy, Russia, Spain, Greece and France are other leading growers.

     
    *Armenia is a mountainous country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. It is bordered by Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to the east, and Iran to the south.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Whole Carrots

    roasted-whole-rainbow-carrots-ohmyveggies-colorfulharvestFB-230r

    Rainbow carrot colors, including the
    now-standard orange, were bred centuries
    and millennia ago from mutations. Photo
    courtesy Colorful Harvest | FB.

     

    Why carrots, you may ask, when such summer bounty abounds? And with all the vegetables to throw onto the grill, how often do you think of carrots?

    Grilling carrots brings out their natural sweetness; the grill contributes a mellow smokey flavor. These grilled rainbow carrots are perfect drizzled with the basil vinaigrette or served with the vinaigrette on the side for dipping.

    And, you can add leftovers to simple green salads for a splash of color and flavor.

    You’re looking for rainbow carrots, that transform the ordinary root veg into something quite spectacular. If you can’t find rainbow carrots (in a specialty produce store or farmers market), simply substitute standard orange carrots. You can also find rainbow baby carrots.

    THE ORIGINAL CARROTS WERE WHITE!

    That’s right: The iconic orange carrot began life as a wild white carrots, similar to parsnips*. With natural mutations, purple and yellow carrots were cultivated more than 1,000 years ago in what is now Afghanistan.

    Other colors are the product of generations of traditional plant breeding. Orange carrots were first successfully bred in Holland from an orange mutation by Dutch farmers. Here’s more history of carrots, plus an explanation of how the different hues of carrots get their colors.

     

    Try this recipe for Grilled Rainbow Carrots with Basil Vinaigrette: an eye- and palate-pleaser. It’s from In Sonnet’s Kitchen. Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time 10 minutes.

    As a variation from the vinaigrette, you can use pesto or a honey glaze.
     
    RECIPE: GRILLED RAINBOW CARROTS WITH BASIL VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 2 bunches rainbow carrots
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: snipped herb such as chervil, parsley, rosemary, tarragon or thyme
  •  

    Preparation

    This dish can be served warm or at room temperature. The carrots can also be sliced into smaller pieces before serving.

    1. PREHEAT grill to medium-high. Trim carrot tops as desired and slice carrots in half lengthwise (this decreases cooking time).

    2. TOSS carrots with oil (or oil the grill as needed) and grill for 4-5 minutes, until the carrots develop sear marks and are beginning to soften. Flip, cover and grill for another 4-5 minutes. Carrots should be softened, but still retain their crunch. Meanwhile…

    3. BLEND the vinegar, basil and olive oil into a vinaigrette. Season to taste. Serve drizzled over the carrots or on the side for dipping.

    4. GARNISH with herbs and serve.

     
    *Carrots (Daucus carota) and parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) are both members of the Apiaceae family, which includes caraway, celery, chervil, dill and fennel.

     

    roasted-carrots-kristin-theendlessmeal-colorfulharvestFB-230

    Yellow carrots were bred from a mutation of the original white carrots. Here, they’re served with pesto. Photo courtesy The Endless Meal.

     

      

    Comments

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