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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Cooking With Coconut Oil

If you like coconut, have you cooked with coconut oil?

We’re not talking about hydrogenated coconut oil, a trans fat long been used in American processed foods, which has been phased out of use over the past few years.

We’re talking extra virgin coconut oil, which is 90% saturated fat but of a type that metabolizes in the body similar to an unsaturated fat. It thus does not increase LDL (bad) cholesterol.

  • Pressed from the fruit (the “flesh” or “meat”) of the coconut, coconut oil is very popular in India and throughout Southeast Asia. It adds a hint of coconut flavor and aroma to cooked dishes.
  • If you don’t want the coconut aroma and flavor, you can use refined coconut oil. But since we only use coconut oil for that hint of coconut, why bother when there other neutral oils in the pantry?
  •  
    At room temperature, coconut oil solidifies but turns liquid as soon as it hits the heat (or if your room is warmer than 76°F). Don’t put it in the fridge: It will turn rock-hard.

    You can find liquid coconut oil, which is fractionated coconut oil that has had the good-for-you lauric acid removed so it doesn’t solidify. It stays liquid, even in the fridge. Use it on your hair and skin if you want, but not for cooking.

       

    Coconut-oil-dr-bronner-230

    The same coconut oil that is used to cook is also used as a beauty product to make skin soft and hair shiny. Photo of virgin coconut oil—Fair Trade, organic and certified kosher—courtesy Dr. Bronner.

     

    DIFFERENT TYPES OF COCONUT OIL

    When you’re in the store, you may discover a confusing list of options, including extra virgin coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, expeller-pressed coconut oil, the aforementioned liquid coconut oil, and generic products simply called “coconut oil.”

    Go with the virgin or extra virgin. According to Health Impact News, they’re the same thing. There’s no industry standard for “extra virgin”; it’s simply better marketing that leverages consumers’ preference for extra virgin oil oil.

    Here’s a detailed explanation of the different types of coconut oil.

     

    Coconut-and-oil-w-coconut-PhuThinhCo-230

    Refined coconut oil is pale yellow in color; unrefined (virgin) coconut oil is white.
    Photo courtesy Phu Thinh Co.

     

    WAYS TO USE COCONUT OIL

    Manufacturers use coconut oil in candies, cookies, whipped toppings, nondairy creamers and other foods. At home, we use it to add a hint of coconut flavor in:

  • Baked goods
  • Sautéed veggies: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, root vegetables, potatoes
  • Stir fries
  • Sautéed chicken or fish (if you’re making a breading, use half bread crumbs and half flaked unsweetened coconut)
  • Stir fries
  • Marinades
  • Popcorn drizzle (add flaked coconut and toasted almonds!)
  • Bread spread (a vegan friend uses it to make delicious cinnamon toast)
  • Grains, as a butter alternative (we love what it adds to rice, regular and fried)/li>
  •  
    The same coconut oil that is eaten is also used as a beauty product. You can use it to soften skin, shine hair or as a massage oil.
     
    BAKING WITH COCONUT OIL

    You can replace other oils or butter at a 1:1 ratio in baked goods. For shortening, replace 1 part with 3/4 part coconut oil.

    Solid coconut oil will mix like softened butter with other ingredients are at room temperature; but to be sure to please the gods of baking chemistry, we melt it first.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun With Radishes

    Low in calories, high in crunch, often with a hot pepper spiciness, radishes (Raphanus sativus) can be a fun food. They’re nutritious*, too.

    If you’re old enough, you may remember the time when radish “roses” were almost as common a plate garnish a sprig of parsley. You sliced the rose in a certain way (or used a radish cutter), then dropped the radish into cold water, where the slices opened up into “petals.” As a child, we ate them petal by petal.

    There are numerous varieties of radish beyond the red globe “supermarket radish” (Burpee alone sells 30 varieties). They have different levels of heat-spiciness, mostly depending on growing conditions: soil, water, hot vs. cold weather, early vs. late harvest and other factors. Some people like them hot, others not so much. Unfortunately, you have to sample one to know what you’ve got.

     

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    Add radish matchsticks for crunch and spice. Photo courtesy Duda Farm Fresh Foods.

     
    The wild radish may have originated somewhere in southeast Asia, and developed by farmers in central Asia, China and India. Radishes enter the written record in the third century B.C.E. and appear in Greek and Roman texts in the 1st century C.E., which describe small, large, round, long, mild and sharp varieties.

    Burpee currently sells 30 varieties of differing shapes, sizes and colors. Our favorite is the watermelon radish: When sliced, it resembles a slice of watermelon. Runner up: Mardi Gras radishes, a mix of seeds that yield black, purple, white and yellow radishes. And we love Candy Stripe radishes—concentric circles of red and white—but can never find them.
     
    *Radishes are rich in folic acid, potassium and vitamin C.
     
    WAYS TO SERVE RADISHES

    Appetizer & Snack

  • Crostini or tea sandwiches. For crostini, toast slices of baguette and top with sweet butter or pesto, thinly-sliced radish, a bit of cress or other green, and a pinch of sea salt. For tea sandwiches, trim the crusts from un-toasted white or whole wheat bread.
  • Raw, with butter and sea salt. It’s a popular dish in France. If you can find longer-shape radishes, cut a slice lengthwise, drop into cold water to open a channel, and pipe in softened butter. Otherwise, slice round radishes in half horizontally, butter the bottom half and serve like poppers.
  • Pickled. Any type of radish can be quickly and easily pickled, for snacking, sandwiches, garnish, etc. Here’s the recipe.
  • With ricotta. Put together a plate of fresh radishes and a dish of mild ricotta drizzled with olive oil. We enjoy this as a weekend breakfast with crusty rustic bread.
  • Crudités and dip! In decades past, the predecessor of the crudité plate was the relish tray, with celery, radishes and olives.
  •  

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    Three varieties available from Duda Fresh Farm Foods: whole with ends trimmed, crinkle-cut coins and matchsticks. Photo courtesy Duda.

     

    Lunch & Dinner

  • Julienned. Toss radish strips into salads, scrambled eggs, rice and grains and anything that needs some color and crunch. Duda Farm Fresh Foods sells radishes already trimmed, sliced into matchsticks and coins (see photo).
  • Boiled or steamed. Top with a cheese sauce, Eastern European-style.
  • Garnishes: Sandwiches (a must on Vietnamese bánh mì), burgers, tacos, soups, sides.
  • Salads: In addition to green salads, see the Radish Salad recipe below.
  • Roasted or braised: A great solution to deal with radishes that are too hot. The heat of the oven removes much of the heat from the radishes, making them sweet and buttery. If you don’t want to turn on the oven, braise on the stove top in butter until tender.
  • More: Kabobs, chilled radish soup and as many options as you can research or invent.
  •  
    RECIPE: RADISH & CUCUMBER SALAD

    This recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen is a Ukranian influence.

    The sour cream dressing helps to neutralizes the pungency of the radishes. Easy to make, prep time is just 10 minutes. It goes very nicely with grilled meats and anyplace you’d serve cole slaw.

    Ingredients For 6 Side Servings

  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or whole grain mustard (more to taste)
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste (substitute half garlic salt for a touch of garlic flavor)
  • Fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped dill (more to taste)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cucumbers, radishes, bell pepper and green onion in a medium salad bowl

    2. COMBINE the sour cream, dill and salt in a small bowl.

    3. STIR the sour cream dressing into the salad just before serving.
     
    WHAT ABOUT THE RADISH TOPS?

    If the radish leaves are fresh and sprightly, consider leaving them on. They’re edible and pretty.

    In fact, the leaves are the most nutritious part of the plant. They have a very mild flavor, like lettuce.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fried Cheese For The Cheese Course

    Sophisticated diners in the U.S.—and many people in Europe—have long finished dinner with a cheese course and small salad, instead of a sweet dessert.

    How about a twist: fried cheese with salad on top—or underneath?

    There are many fried cheese recipes; today’s is a Sicilian specialty. Caciocavallo, which means “cheese on horseback,” is a cheese that dates back to Roman times. Two large, pear-shaped cheeses are tied with rope and slung over a wooden board to drain and age.

    Believed to have been so shaped to make it easy to transport by slinging over pack animals, the cheese duo evokes the image of saddlebags, hence the name (here’s a photo).

    Caciocavallo is hard to find in conventional U.S. markets, although you can find it at Italian specialty stores and online from cheesemongers like Murray’s Cheese.

       

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    Fried caciacavallo cheese topped with salad. Photo courtesy E-squaredhospitality.

     
    Or, substitute halloumi, kasseri, provolone, scamorza, smoked mozzarella or queso de freier (Mexican frying cheese). You’ve got plenty of options!

    RECIPE: FRIED CHEESE COURSE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3/4 pound of Caciocavallo, cut into 4 slices
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • Pinch of pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • Italian bread, sliced
  • Salad of choice (we like arugula, basil, cress, endive, chives or sliced green onions and sometimes, fennel; but you can use absolutely anything, very lightly tossed with vinaigrette to slightly moisten)
  •  

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    Fried caciacavallo served atop the salad. Photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and slices of cheese and lower the heat.

    2. COOK covered for 1 minute; then turn the cheese over and cook covered for an additional minute, or until the cheese is golden in color.

    3. REMOVE the skillet from the heat, add the oregano and pepper and transfer the fried cheese to the serving plates.

    4. ADD the vinegar and sugar to the hot oil in the pan and cook for about 1–2 minutes until some of the liquid evaporates. This creates a sweet and sour sauce.

    5. DECIDE if you want your salad on top or underneath the cheese. Add the salad accordingly.

    6. TOP the cheese with the sauce if the cheese is on top of the salad; or use it to dot the plate if the salad is on top. Use the garlic as garnish and serve immediately with slices of fresh Italian bread.

     

    ABOUT CACIOCAVALLO CHEESE

    Caciocavallo, a popular cheese in southern Italy and Sicily, is typically made from unpasteurized cow’s or sheep’s milk. Two pear-shaped cheeses, about 4 pounds each, are joined at the neck by a rope to age.

    Like burrata, mozzarella, provolone and scamorza, caciocavallo is a pasta filata, a cheese made by stretching and forming the curd by hand.

    It is then aged for two to three months, and optimally for one year. Because the pairs of tied cheeses hang from rods in the air to age, instead of sitting on shelves like other cheeses, more microbes can enter the cheese, where they help to develop sharp, spicy flavors, deep, earthy undertones and fruity aromas.

    The result is a layered, complex cheese that is typically sliced and served with fresh fruit, plus a glass of hearty red wine. The yellow rind is edible.

    There are different types of caciocavallo:

  • Caciocavallo Silano, a PDO* cheese made in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise and Puglia.
  • Caciocavallo Ragusa, a PDO* cheese made in Ragusa, Sicily.
  • Caciocavallo affumicato, smoked caciocavallo.
  • Caciocavallo piccante, spicy caciocavallo.
  • Caciocavallo primaverile, made from milk gathered in the spring, which has subtle flavors of the aromatic herbs in spring pastures.
  •  
    MORE FRIED CHEESE RECIPES

  • Cashew-encrusted fried cheese recipe.
  • Fried cheese curds recipe.
  • Grilled halloumi cheese recipe.
  •  
    *PDO, Protected Designation of Origin, is a designation of authenticity from the European Union. In the case of Caciocavallo Silano or Ragusa, it guarantees that the milk used comes only from local herds.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Chicken Or Fish With Pico De Gallo

    There are many different types of salsa, but our favorite is the finely chopped fresh salsa called pica de gallo.

    Pico de gallo, pronounced PEE-coh-deh-GAH-yo, is Spanish for “rooster’s beak.” How did it get that name? It once was eaten between the thumb and finger in a way that resembled a pecking rooster. (Salsa as finger food?!)

    Pico de gallo is made with finely diced raw tomatoes, onions, lime juice and cilantro. Jicama and other raw ingredients can be added. It differs from salsa fresca and salsa cruda in that the ingredients are uniformly chopped; but the terms are often used interchangeably. Another term is salsa mexicana.

    Most Americans not of Mexican ancestry limit their use of pico de gallo to Tex-Mex recipes—chips, nachos, tacos, tortilla chips, quesadillas, etc.

    But this better-for-you condiment provides great flavor and nutrition to everyday better-for-you foods, like grilled chicken and fish.

    Those in the know use fresh salsa to complement grilled meats—especially pork and steak—egg dishes, rice and other recipes.

       

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    Grilled chicken breasts topped with pico de gallo salsa. Delicious and good for you! Photo courtesy QVC.

     
    We make a lower-calorie dip by blending it into nonfat Greek yogurt, and serve it with crudités as well as chips. When people hesitate to eat salad, we mix it into a vinaigrette.

    This recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable. Serve it with a large salad, other sides of choice, and a few tortilla chips for crunch.

    If you’re pressed for time, buy the salsa (it’s in the refrigerator case). Then just grill, top and enjoy!

     

    A bowl of pico de gallo surrounded by tortilla chips

    Pico de gallo is delicious with so much more than tortilla chips—and low in calories, too. Photo © WayMoreAwesomer | Fotolia.

     

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHICKEN OR FISH WITH PICO DE GALLO

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Pico De Gallo

  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: tortilla chips
  •  
    For The Chicken Or Fish

  • 4 (5–6 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breasts/fish fillets
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Preparation

    1. MAKE the pico de gallo: Toss all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl until evenly combined. Place into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

    2. PREPARE the chicken or fish. If chicken, place the breasts between 2 pieces of wax paper. Use a meat mallet to pound them to a 3/4″ thickness.

    3. PLACE all the ingredients into a large zip-tight bag. Gently toss so the marinade evenly coats the chicken/fish. Place in a bowl in the refrigerator and marinate at least 8 hours, or up to 12 hours.

    4. PREHEAT the grill to high. Place the chicken breasts onto the hot grill and cook for 4–5 minutes until char marks appear. Flip the chicken and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the chicken reads 165°F, about 4–5 more minutes. Top each chicken breast with pico de gallo before serving.
     
    HOW TO GET CROSSHATCH GRILL MARKS ON THE MEAT

    Most people are happy with simple horizontal grill marks. But if you’d like to get fancy and create crosshatch marks, just rotate the meat.

    Position the piece(s) at a 45-degree angle (the 1 o’clock position), sear, then turn 90 degrees (back to about the 11 o’clock position). Flip and repeat.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Kabob Sandwiches

    For your grilling pleasure, here’s an alternative to burgers and other red meat from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

    Food on a stick is great fun for kids, and the entire family can help prepare this simple kabob recipe.

    Children can skewer the meat, which cooks in minutes on a grill or indoor George Foreman-type grill. Then everyone assembles his/her own pita sandwich, customizing the garnishes to their preferences.

    This recipe is classic Greek: roasted meat with tzatziki, the Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce, and whatever garnishes you like:

  • The basics: lettuce, onion, tomato
  • The “extras”: bell pepper rings, thin-sliced cucumber, radish or cucumber salad
  • The “whatevers” from the fridge: fresh or pickled chiles, crumbled feta, pepperoncini, pickles and of course, “whatever”
  • And did we mention, it’s quick?

       

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    Find more delicious recipes at Williams-Sonoma.com. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    RECIPE: QUICK KABOB PITA SANDWICHES WITH TZATZIKI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt (more to taste)
  • 1 pound filet mignon, lamb loin or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 pita bread rounds
  • Garnishes: shredded romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes and shaved red onion
  • More garnishes: bell pepper, chiles, feta, pepperoncini, pickles, whatever you’ve got
  •  
    For The Tzatziki (Yogurt Sauce)

  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons total chopped fresh dill and/or mint
  • Salt to taste
  •  

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    Iconic Greek lamb (shish) kabobs, made even easier with these stainless sliding skewers. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the tzatziki. Combine all ingredients and stir well. Add salt to taste and set aside. This can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge; serve it at room temperature.

    2. PREHEAT the outdoor grill to medium-high. For an indoor grill, place the grill plate on the lower level and the griddle plate on the upper level (Williams-Sonoma used the Cuisinart Elite Griddler). Preheat both sides to 450°F.

    3. STIR together in a small bowl the paprika, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In another bowl, toss the meat with the oil and 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture.

    4. THREAD 5 or 6 meat cubes onto each skewer and place on the grill (or the grill side of the electric griddle). Cook, turning the skewers occasionally, until the beef/lamb is cooked to medium, about 8 minutes, or the chicken is cooked through, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Meanwhile…

     

    5. LIGHTLY toast the pita bread rounds on the grill or the griddle side of the electric griddle, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

    6. CUT the toasted pita rounds in half crosswise, then pry open. Fill the pockets with the meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onion other garnishes. Top with the tzatziki and serve immediately.

     
    OUR FAVORITE NEW SKEWERS

    Grilled kabobs is easy until it’s time to remove the cooked food from the skewer. New skewers from Williams-Sonoma (photo above)solve the problem with a sliding disk that lets you push food onto the plate in one swift motion.

    An added bonus: The square shape of the rod prevents foods from spinning when you turn kabobs on the grill. You’re guaranteed even cooking!

    This Williams-Sonoma exclusive is dishwasher safe, too. A great gift for grilling enthusiasts.

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Pizza The Right Way

    When you fire up the grill, make a pizza! Grilled pizza is celestial, with a crispy, chewy and slightly charred crust and the light, smoky flavor picked up by the cheese and toppings.

    Grilling caramelizes the crust the way a wood burning pizza oven does. But you don’t need the wood-burning oven—just the backyard grill you already have.
     
    IT’S EASY TO GET THE RIGHT RESULTS

    Some people have tried grilling pizza at home without success. The new cookbook Grilled Pizza The Right Way provides the fail-safe technique to do it perfectly.

    Award-winning chef and barbecue pitmaster, John Delpha, has been grilling pizza for 20 years. He honed his skills at the famed Al Forno pizzeria in Providence, Rhode Island that is credited with popularizing* grilled pizza.

    Loaded with photos, this book of more than 85 grilled pizza recipes gets you started with the right techniques. Hot off the presses, it’s a must-have for home grillers, and a great gift to bring whenever you’re invited over by a griller.

       

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    The book that will change your summer grilling. Photo courtesy Page Street Publishing.

     

    Once you know Chef Delpha’s technique, the grilling combinations are endless, including sweet dessert pizzas (oh, the Bananas Foster pizza!).

    The instructions are easy to follow; you can make the dough and toppings ahead of time for a quick weeknight pizza, or use store-bought dough for even quicker eating.
     
    CONVENTIONAL & CREATIVE TOPPINGS

    Channel your inner pizza chef with varieties galore, from pizza parlor standards to gourmet toppings (goat cheese, lamb and many others) to porting over concepts from other favorite foods—Reuben and cheeseburger pizzas for example.

    This weekend we’re making our own combo of ingredients we had in-house—asparagus, bacon, caramelized onions and corn—plus the book’s recipe for pickled jalapeño crema.

    We’re are also experimenting with toppings of pâté, cornichons and Dijon crema thanks to a gift of luscious pâtés we received from the pâté pros at Le Trois Petits Cochons.

     

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    Beyond pepperoni, here’s a creative grilled pizza and the recipe. Photo courtesy Details.com.

     

    GET YOUR COPY

    Hungry yet? Click over to Amazon.com to get your copy of “Grilled Pizza the Right Way,” plus more for gifting.

    Then plan to throw grilled pizza parties all summer. Guests will clamor for the next flavor to come off the grill.

    Can’t wait for the book to arrive? Start this weekend with a recipe and tips from Jim Lahey of New York City’s Co Pane restaurant and pizzeria.

    His grilled beauty in the photo at left uses béchamel sauce, grated Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, fresh basil and red-pepper flakes, topped with cherry tomatoes and raw corn.

    Find the full recipe at Details.com.

     
    *A QUICK HISTORY OF PIZZA: Al Forno didn’t invent the grilled pizza, as often attributed, but reinvented it. The precursor of pizza predates written history, but flatbread topped with cheese and cooked in the fire could date as far back as 5500 B.C.E.

    Melted cheese on bread was common fare for millennia around the Mediterranean, but the tomato didn’t arrive from the New World until the 16th century. The fruit was the size of modern cherry tomatoes and thought to be poisonous; the plant was used as house decor!

    During a famine the 18th century, the starving poor of Naples were reduced to eating anything. They tried the tomatoes, found they were not poisonous but delicious, and began to add it to their cheese and flatbread (often with anchovies!). Thus, modern pizza was born. Here’s the history of pizza plus 12 gourmet pizza recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Add More Flavor To Everything You Grill

    Ready, set, grill! While you may have had the grill on for a while, Memorial Day is considered the launch of grilling season in the Northeast, where we live.

    McCormick & Company, a leader in what’s hot in flavor, has released a grilling edition of its 2015 Flavor Forecast, with links to yummy recipes.

    Of course, they have all the hot flavors you need to perk up your food, from burger mix-ins to marinades to seasoned grilling salts.

    The the hottest trends to enhance your grilled flavors all season are:

  • Backyard Brunch: Bacon, eggs and even donuts are grilled to add smoky flavor and and served outside.
  • Boss Burgers: Forget plain ketchup and sliced onions. Now, it’s all about the build. Add mix-ins to burgers, then build flavor with toppers and condiments like grilled avocado, mango slaw or lime mayo. Check out this Southwestern Smoky Ranchero Burger with Grilled Avocado and this Vietnamese Banh Mi Burger with Sriracha Mayo.
  •    

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    Grill your bacon and eggs, with spinach and Gruyère cheese. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy McCormick.

  • Grilling Salts: Shake up classic salt and pepper by adding other flavors to the shaker. McCormick makes it easy with pre-filled sea ssalt grinders. See more about them below, and use them to add texture and flavor.
  • Reverse Sear: There’ll be no more dry chicken coming off your grates with this technique. Check out this recipe for Sweet Soy Bourbon Chicken infused with bourbon, brown sugar and soy sauce.
  •  

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    Chipotle Sea Salt, one of four trending flavored sea salts available in grinders.
    Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
  • Smokin’ Veggie Starters: Most people love grilled veggies, but don’t wait for the main course and sides to serve them. For starters, try this Grilled Vegetable Antipasto Bruschetta, a fusion of Italian bruschetta on top of Middle Eastern hummus.
     
    GRILLING SALTS

    One of the easiest ways to add flavor, during and after cooking, is with seasoned salts.

    McCormick’s easy-to-use sea salt grinders are favorites of ours. Flavors include:

  • Chipotle Sea Salt Blend
  • Lemon Zest Sea Salt Blend
  • Smoked Sea Salt
  • Sweet Onion Sea Salt Blend
  •  
    As gifts for grilling hosts, we like to package all four inside a related gift like this Weber grilling basket that keeps mushrooms, chiles and other small vegetables from falling onto the coals

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Put Bourbon In Your Barbecue Sauce

    makers-mark-beauty-whiskey-wikia.com-230

    Add bourbon to your barbecue sauce. Photo courtesy Whiskey.Wikia.com.

     

    Are you making barbecue sauce for the holiday weekend? Consider adding some bourbon, which is trending with chefs.

    According to Datassential MenuTrends, bourbon barbecue sauce, which first became popular in the South and Midwest, appears on 32% more restaurant menus than it did four years ago. The trend is spreading nationwide.

    Bourbon adds notes of smokiness and wood (like oak does for wine). Other ingredients to add to your sauce include brown sugar, garlic, liquid smoke, maple syrup, molasses, onion, sriracha sauce (or fresh chiles) and tamarind.

    In addition to burgers, chicken, pulled pork, ribs and wings, bourbon barbecue sauce is also ending up in “Texas Eggs Benedict,” inspired by the classic with pulled pork instead of Canadian bacon and bourbon barbecue sauce instead of the hollandaise (or along with it).

    For starters, try the recipe below. It’s extremely easy to make—just combine the ingredients and heat!

    If you’ve already purchased a bottle of barbecue sauce, you can use it as a base. Place it in a saucepan with the bourbon and any of the other ingredients below, to taste.

     
    RECIPE: BOURBON BARBECUE SAUCE

    This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com. It can be made up to two weeks in advance.

     

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light (mild) molasses
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING all ingredients to boil in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
     

     

    ribs-sauce-EZForyu-IST-230

    Make your own barbecue sauce, or enhance one that you’ve purchased with bourbon. Photo by E.Z. Foryu | IST.

    2. LOWER the heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced to 2 cups, stirring often (about 10 minutes).

    3. REMOVE from the heat; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Trifle

    Want to make a fancy dessert but don’t want to turn on the oven? Make a trifle.

    TRIFLE HISTORY

    A trifle is a classic English dessert, called by a variety of names including Tipsy Cake, Tipsy Parson, Tipsy Squire and Tipsy Hedgehog. “Tipsy” indicates the addition of spirits, typically sherry.

    Trifle was an evolution of the fool, a simpler dessert of puréed fruit and whipped cream. The trifle emerged as a way to use stale cake.

    Today, a classic English trifle layers fruit, whipped cream, egg custard and sponge cake that’s been soaked in sherry. Zuppa inglese is the Italian version.

    According to What’s Cooking America, the recipe was brought to America in the mid-1700s by Brits settling in the coastal South. The combination of cake or biscuits with custard and alcohol became a popular dessert, served in an elegant cut-glass trifle bowl.

    The recipe below is an evolution still, using modern America’s outdoor grills to add another note of flavor to the fruit. Of course, you can make the recipe without cooking the fruit. The recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable.

       

    chocolate-strawberry-trifle-qvc-230

    Chocolate trifle with grilled strawberries. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BERRY TRIFLE

    Strawberries are usually the most economical berry, but you can substitute other berries (and matching preserves). While this recipe uses whipped topping, we vastly prefer whipped cream.

    Use a large glass trifle bowl or salad bowl to assemble the trifle. If you don’t have one or can’t borrow one, a glass mixing bowl works, too; the idea is to show the visual appeal of the layers. But you can default to a lovely [opaque] porcelain bowl or soufflé dish.

    There’s no sherry in this recipe, but if you want it, sprinkle it over the cake.

    Ingredients For 14-16 Servings

    For The Grilled Strawberries

  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  •  
    For The Trifle

  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cold strong coffee
  • 2 packages (3.9 ounces each) chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
  • 1 container (16 ounces) whipped topping, or whipped cream stiffened with gelatin (recipe below), divided
  • 1 chocolate cake, cut into 1″ pieces*
  • 1 package Oreos (14.3 ounces), crumbled
  •  
    *We typically buy an uniced loaf cake or bake a bundt—it’s easier to cut into cubes than an iced cake.

     

    whipped-cream-kuhnrikonFB-230sq

    For all you Cool Whip lovers: Fresh whipped cream is so much better! For fillings and icings, you just need to stabilize it with gelatin (recipe below). Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the grilled strawberries: Preheat an outdoor grill over high heat. Place the halved strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in a medium-size bowl. Toss until the strawberries are fully coated and place them in a nonstick grill pan. Cook for 5–6 minutes, tossing constantly.

    2. PLACE the berries back into the bowl and add the strawberry preserves. Mix until evenly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until completely cold.

    3. PREPARE the pudding: Whisk together the milk, coffee and instant pudding in a large bowl until the mixture is thick. Fold in half of the whipped topping until fully incorporated. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until completely cold.

     
    4. ASSEMBLE the trifle: Place 1/3 of the chocolate cake pieces into the bowl; then layer 1/3 of the pudding mixture, 1/3 of the grilled strawberries and 1/3 of the remaining whipped topping. End with 1/3 of the crushed Oreos. Repeat this process 2 more times, finishing with the whipped topping and crushed Oreos. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
     
    RECIPE: STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM WITH GELATIN

    Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 4 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1?4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the gelatin and cold water in a small pan; let stand until the mixture is thick. Then place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat. Let it cool, but do not allow it to set.

    2. WHIP the cream with the sugar until slightly thick. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream. Whip at high speed until stiff.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Rhubarb Ketchup

    rhubarb-ketchup-tasteofhome-230

    Rhubarb and tomato ketchup. For a smooth texture, use an immersion blender or food processor. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    Need something to bring to a Memorial Day cook-out? How about homemade ketchup? Pack it into mason jars and tie a ribbon around the neck.

    Go one step further and make rhubarb ketchup, a condiment from yesteryear.

    A combination of the familiar tomato and the less-familiar tang of rhubarb (now in season), the recipe below adds notes of cinnamon and pickling spices to burgers, fries, sandwiches and other foods.

    It’s how ketchup used to taste, before the bland tomato sweetness of major national brands took over.

    It’s very easy to make ketchup at home. Prep time is just five minutes, plus an hour to simmer and another hour to chill.

    This recipe is courtesy of Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE: RHUBARB KETCHUP

    Ingredients For 6-7 Cups

  • 4 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except the pickling spice in a large saucepan.

    2. PLACE the pickling spice on a double thickness of cheesecloth, gather the corners of cloth to enclose and tie securely with string. Add to saucepan.

    3. COOK 1 hour or until thickened. Discard the spice bag. Cool the ketchup. Smooth with an immersion blender, if desired.

    4. STORE in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

     
    MORE KETCHUP

  • Here’s a homemade tomato ketchup recipe that uses honey instead of sugar. It includes variations for chipotle, cranberry, curry, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño and sriracha ketchup flavors.
  • Check out the history of ketchup, a condiment and table sauce that originated in Asia and wasn’t made with tomatoes until centuries after it was brought to the West. The Asians made it with pickled fish and the Brits made it with mushrooms. Tomato ketchup was born in the U.S.A.
  •  

    rhubarb-trimmed-beauty-goodeggsNY-230

    Rhubarb, ready to turn into ketchup. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | New York.

     

    BEYOND BURGERS & FRIES: 10 USES FOR KETCHUP

    Burgers, fries and other fried or breaded food—chicken, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, zucchini fries—are obvious. Meat loaf sandwiches are a given, as are breakfast eggs. Here are ten more everyday condiment uses for ketchup.

  • Baked Beans: Mom topped her baked beans recipe with ketchup and bacon strips before placing the dish in the oven.
  • Barbecue Sauce: Read the labels—most have a ketchup base! Browse homemade BBQ sauce recipes and add your own favorite ingredients.
  • Cocktail Sauce: Mix with horseradish.
  • Dip: Mix ketchup with plain yogurt, or serve it straight with potato chips.
  • Hot Dogs: We grew up with mustard on hot dogs, and discovered well into adult hood that many people use ketchup instead.
  • Meat Loaf Glaze: A favorite topping in American meat loaf recipes: Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of ketchup.
  • Russian Dressing: Combine equal proportions of ketchup and mayonnaise.
  • Steak Sauce: Melt a stick of butter in a sauce pan, add three minced garlic cloves, simmer a bit and stir in a cup of ketchup. Serve hot or room temperature.
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce: Add Thai fish sauce and fresh lime juice.
  • Thousand Island Dressing: Combine ketchup with mayonnaise ans sweet pickle relish.
  •   

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