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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Honey + A Raspberry Honey Mojito Recipe

September is National Honey Month. Celebrate by replacing table sugar with honey in your tea, in baking and other recipes.

But don’t do it because you think honey is better for you. Truth to tell, honey and sugar are so close in calories, nutrition (both have none or marginal nutrients) and glycemic index* that it really makes no difference.

Some websites maintained by honey enthusiasts or vendors—as opposed to nutritionists or healthcare professionals—tout the vitamins and minerals. But these are only trace amounts. Here’s more information.

So why use honey? For the flavor, of course! Start with this Raspberry Honey Mojito:

This recipe is from Bee Raw Honey, which used its delicious Wild Raspberry Honey in the recipe. You can substitute the honey you have on hand.


Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 tablespoon fresh raspberries
  • 10 mint leaves
  • Juice of one half lime
  • 1 tablespoons Bee Raw Wild Raspberry Honey
  • 1 shot (1-1/2 ounces) white/silver rum
  • 2 shots (3 ounces) cranberry juice
  • Ice
  • Garnish: mint leaves, raspberries

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/honey spoon beerawhoneyFB 230

    Celebrate National Honey Month in every way you can. Photo courtesy Bee Raw Honey.



    1. MUDDLE the raspberries, mint leaves, lime juice and honey in a cocktail shaker.

    2. ADD the rum, cranberry juice and ice. Shake well and serve in a Collins glass with fresh ice.

    3. GARNISH with a sprig of mint and a few whole raspberries.

    *The glycemic index of agave is 32 GI and 60 calories per tablespoon (but it’s twice as sweet as sugar, maple syrup is 54 GI and 52 calories per tablespoon, honey is 58 GI and 64 calories per tablespoon and sugar is 60-65 and 48 calories per tablespoon. Calorie data source:



    Raspberry Honey Mojito. Photo courtesy Bee Raw Honey.



    Honey In Cooked Food & Drinks

  • Up to one cup, honey can be substituted for sugar in equal amounts. For example, replace a half cup sugar for a half cup of honey.
  • Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you can also use a little less. If you prefer less sweetness to more, experiment until you find the substitution proportion that suits you.
  • If the recipe calls for more than one cup, use 2/3 or 3/4 cup of honey for every cup of sugar.
  • You can also match the type of honey to your recipe. Here are examples of honey-food pairings.
  • In general, the darker honey, the more assertive the flavor. Lighter color honeys are have more subtle flavor. Check out Bee Raw Honey to see the different colors of the “honey rainbow.”
    TIP: Before measuring the honey, generously coat measuring spoons and cups with cooking spray to prevent the honey from sticking.
    Honey In Baking

    In baking, honey typically makes the product more moist and flavorful. Because baking is science, and the chemistry must work, it’s better to look for a tested recipe rather than doing your own replacements. Reduce the oven temperature by 25°F when using honey in place of sugar.

    The Mojito (mo-HEE-toe) hails from Cuba; the name comes from the African word mojo, which means to cast a small spell. One story says that slaves working in Cuban sugar cane fields in the late 19th century invented the drink.

    However, historians at Bacardi Rum trace the cocktail’s roots to 1586, the year that Sir Francis Drake and his pirate crew made an unsuccessful attempt to sack Havana. Drake’s colleague, Richard Drake (no relation), was said to have invented a Mojito-like drink known as El Draque (The Drake). The recipe included aguardiente (a spirit similar to cachaça), sugar, lime and mint. As with most drinks of the time, it was initially consumed for medicinal purposes.

    Sometime in the mid-1800s, with the refinement of rum, rum was substituted and El Draque became known as El Mojito.

  • Beet Mojito Recipe
  • Classic Mojito Recipe
  • Cranberry Mojito Recipe
  • Pomegranate Mojito Recipe


    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Custard

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/parmesan custard arugula salad thesecretmenu.wordpress 230

    Parmesan quiche with arugula salad: as a
    light lunch or a first course for dinner. Photo
    courtesy The Secret Menu. Here’s the recipe.


    Custard is one of our favorite dishes: a symphony of cream, eggs and flavorings.

    Most people consider custard to be sweet—a dessert that ranges from good old American chocolate pudding to crème brûlée, crème caramel, flan and others (see all the types of custard in our delectable Custard Glossary).

    The same mixture of cream and eggs that forms the base of sweet custard replaces the sugar with savory inclusions to become a delicious savory custard that can be eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    From a lunch dish with a salad, to a first course or side at a fine dinner, savory custards deliver a lot of bang—especially since most people haven’t yet had them.

    Well, not exactly: Many people have had savory custard in the form of quiche, a variation that’s baked in a pie shell.

    But today’s focus is on savory custard made in individual ramekins.

    While you can make them in casserole dishes, individual portions look so much better than the same recipe scooped from a casserole and plopped on a plate. (Of course, you can neatly slice it from a casserole and place it on the plate like a slice of pie, but we still prefer ramekins.)

    Since we’re getting to the end of corn season, here’s your opportunity to start your adventures in savory custard with corn custard. If you didn’t see it a few weeks ago, here’s a rerun of our corn custard recipe. If your Labor Day fare is more elegant than hot dogs and hamburgers, you can make it.



  • Asparagus & Parmesan Custard with Tarragon, or Green Pea and Shallot Custard (recipes).
  • Chawan-mushi, Japanese savory custard (the name means “steamed in a tea bowl”). Here’s a recipe with shrimp and green peas. There’s also a steamed savory egg custard in Chinese cuisine.
  • Gorgonzola and Leek Crème Brûlée recipe,
  • Gruyère, Garlic & Thyme Custard recipe.
  • Herb Custard (recipe).
  • Lobster Custard—substitute crab, scallops or shrimp (recipe).
  • Pumpkin Custard (recipe), the savory version. Pumpkin pie is a sweet pumpkin custard.
    How Is Bread Pudding Related To Custard?

    Bread pudding is a sweet or savory dish bound with custard. Put this recipe on your “to be tried” calendar: a mushroom bread pudding. You can serve it as the dressing with turkey.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/onion flan foie gras cream jamesbeard 230

    Special occasion savory custard, with sauced with foie gras cream. Although it’s fancier to unmold the custard, you can serve it in the ramekin. Photo courtesy James Beard Foundation.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Shishito Chile (Or Pepper Or Chile Pepper)

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    Before cooking, bright green. Photo


    The shishito pepper is a relative newcomer to American cuisine. Finger-shaped, slender and sweet (not hot), it is growing in popularity as a snack, blistered on the stove top or grill.

    The shishito is named after its shape: The tip of the chili pepper was seen to resemble the head of a lion (shishi) and the word for chile is togarashi. Combine the words into shishitogarashi, which is often shortened to shishito (pronounced she-SHE-toe).

    Bred in Japan, this East Asian variety of the New World Capsicum annuum, like many chiles, is harvested when green. It would turn red if left to ripen on the vine (that’s the difference between green and red jalapeños).

    While shishitos are mild, every so often a hot one will surprise you. We found one estimate that heat can occur in one out of every ten chiles, the anomaly attributed by one botanist to “stress on the vine.” Think of eating shishitos as a fun game, “Shishito Roulette.” The winners gets an extra beer!

    The shishito is very similar to the Spanish padrón chile, in both looks and flavor. So if you can find the latter but not the former, use the information below and cook away.

    Where to find them? We found ours at Trader Joe’s, and have also seen them at farmers markets. If you garden, you can grow your own.


    If you can make roasted or charred vegetables of any kind, you can cook shishito peppers.

  • Poke a tiny hole in each chile so they don’t burst from the build-up of hot air inside, or skewer them for grilling. We used a cake tester to poke a hole in the bottom cleft of each chile, although it won’t be visible after cooking so you can poke it anywhere.
  • Sauté the chiles in oil in a hot pan on the stove top, under the broiler, or on a grill. We used canola oil with a splash of dark sesame oil (it’s a strong flavor and you’ll want just a hint).
  • Turn the chiles frequently until they are blistered all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Because the walls of the shishito are thin, they cook quickly. When cooked, toss with a bit of salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • You can also roast them in an oven or toaster oven.
  • To eat, pick up a chile by its stem (but you won’t want to eat the stem). If you want to be elegant, use chopsticks or a fork.
  • Enjoy while hot; as they cool, the chiles lose their crispness.
  • If you want to add some spice, the ideal one is Japanese 7 Spice, shichimi togarashi. It’s a blend of black and/or white sesame seeds, dried nori seaweed, hot red pepper, ginger, orange peel and other ingredients such as hemp seed, poppyseed and white pepper. You can blend your own or buy it.


  • Appetizers and sides. Shishitos are popular in Japanese cuisine as appetizers, like edamame.
  • Deep-fried. If you like fried food, deep-fry them and serve with a wedge of lemon. (Go ahead, bring out the ketchup, too.)
  • Tempura. Serve as a tempura snack or as part of a tempura entrée.
  • With a beer. A match made in heaven.
  • With a yogurt dip. Blend 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot sauce.
  • Sandwiches. Add a cooked shishito between the bread of a grilled cheese sandwich or pannini.
  • Breakfast. Slice and add the cooked chiles to an omelet or scrambled eggs, a good use for leftovers that are no longer crisp.
  • Salad. Ditto.
  • Side. Serve in medley with other roasted vegetables.


    Cooked: delightful! Photo courtesy Nutmeg Granny, who sautés her shishitos in coconut oil. Here’s her recipe.


    Chiles were “discovered” in the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus, who called them “peppers” (pimientos, in Spanish) because of their fiery similarity to the black peppercorns with which he was familiar.

    However, there is no relationship between the two plants (or between chiles and Szechuan pepper, for that matter).

    “Pepper” is wrong, but in the U.S., it seems to have taken over. Some people use “chile pepper,” a bit of a correction.

    The term “pepper” is not used in Latin America. There, the word is chili, from chilli, the word in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs.

    But, we’d rather hear the partially incorrect “chile pepper” than the totally incorrect wrong “pepper.”

    Here’s more on the history of chiles.

    Is It Chile, Chili or Chilli?

    The original Nahuatl (Aztec) word is chilli. The conquering Spanish spelled it chile.

    In the U.K., chilli is the popular spelling. In the U.S., many people use chili, a seeming middle ground between chilli and chile.

    The choice is yours. We choose “chile” because it’s the spelling by which Europeans were introduced to the chilli.

    How many types of chiles have you had? Check them out in our Chile Glossary.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Peach & Chicken Salad

    Chicken Salad Grilled Peaches

    Inspired feasting: grilled chicken salad with
    grilled peaches. Photo courtesy Good


    There are so many ways to approach an entrée salad. This suggestion, from our favorite artisan grocer, Good Eggs of San Francisco, combines grilled proteins with grilled fruit. (They can be oven-roasted instead.)

    Good Eggs also suggests that instead of an all-green salad, you add whole grains for fiber, texture and flavor.

    Grilled or roasted, the season’s peaches add a wallop of sweet juiciness to a salad. If the peaches in your store aren’t great, you can substitute apricots, mangoes, pluots or nectarines (all are stone fruits like peaches; see details below).

    We happened to have some beautiful red rice from Lundberg on hand, and used it in our first version of this recipe (a hit!).


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 peaches, ripe but still firm
  • 1 cup whole grains (see list below)
  • 2 cups mixed greens (we include 1/3 cup spicy greens like
    arugula and watercress, or radishes)
  • Optional: 3-4 tablespoons basil, cilantro and/or parsley,
  • For The Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac or za’atar, or a combination of lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes (more about sumac and za’atar)
  • Optional: minced herbs (some of what you use in the salad)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    For Serving

  • Crusty bread
  • Olive oil for dipping, seasoned per taste*
    *Use infused olive oil (basil, garlic, rosemary, etc.) or season your own with dried herbs and spices.



    1. MAKE the yogurt dressing. Blend the ingredients and refrigerate to let the flavors meld. You can make this a day in advance. If the dressing is too thick at room temperature, thin it a tablespoon at a time with milk or plain kefir.

    2. GRILL the chicken breasts and sliced peaches, or roast them at 400°F, for 20 minutes. You can grill the bread at the same time. When cool enough to work with, shred or julienne the chicken.

    3. COOK the grains to al dente; you don’t want mushy grains with your crisp greens. While the grains are cooking, wash and pat dry the greens.

    4. TOSS and plate the chicken, cooked grains, salad greens and herbs. Garnish with the peaches. Pass the yogurt dressing.

    Whole grains that are common in the U.S. include barley, buckwheat, bulghur, corn, oats, quinoa, rice (only colored rice, e.g. black, brown, red), rye, wild rice and whole wheat.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/red quinoa spoon pour 230

    Read this if you need to be convinced of the benefits of whole grains. Photo of red quinoa courtesy Village Harvest.

    Whole grains that are less commonly used in the U.S. include amaranth, einkorn, farro/emmer wheat, freekeh, Kamut® Khorasan wheat, kañiwa (a cousin of quinoa), millet, sorghum, teff and triticale.

    Learn more about these grains at

    Stone fruits exist in two different botanical families. The temperate climate-based Rosales order, Rosaceae family, includes what we think of as European stone fruits plus almonds, pecans and walnuts. The tropical/subtropical-based order Sapindales, family Sapindaceae, includes familiar fruits, nuts and spices such as cashew, lychee, mango, mastic, pistachio and sumac.

    Stone fruits from the Rosaceae family 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, cashews, 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.

    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.

    Enough botany for you?



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Tortilla Bowls (Fill With Grilled Chicken Salad!)

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/chicken salad in tortilla ingridhoffmannFB 230

    Make your own tortilla baskets. They’re
    tastier than the commercial variety
    served at many Tex-Mex restaurants.
    Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.


    For many years of our youth, one of our favorite restaurant lunches was Mexican-style chicken salad in a tortilla bowl. As our palate evolved, we realized that a lot of those tortilla bowls (a.k.a. tostada bowls) didn’t taste that great. The best restaurants made their own, but others used pre-made commercial bowls, greasy and bland. So we moved on to Cobb Salad.

    Later, we discovered that you can make tortilla bowls at home, and that baking rather than frying cut out the grease. Mexican Chicken Salad was reborn!

    Here’s Mexican chef Ingrid Hoffmann’s recipe. You can customize it as you like: with corn kernels or Inca corn, with raw onion, with spicy salad (arugula, watercress, radishes), with pickled jalapeños or pepperoncini, with your favorite cheese, olives, whatever!

    First: Save four empty 15-ounce cans. You’ll use them to shape the tortilla bowls. This recipe will give you one empty can, from the pinto beans.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 deboned chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon of delicious marinade
  • Canola oil spray
    For The Adobo Seasoning

    If you already have a commercial adobo seasoning, use it. If not, Chef Ingrid’s recipe is so much fresher; and you can use up the remainder on other meats and poultry, eggs, rice, soups, etc.

  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder or flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon achiote powder or substitute*
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
    *If you don’t want to purchase achiote powder, substitute equal amounts of turmeric and sweet paprika. It won’t have the same tartness of achiote powder, but it’s a decent hack.


    For The Salad

  • 4 10-inch tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 chiles in adobo† (canned), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 cups of mesclun, baby spinach or other salad greens
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) of queso blanco, cotija or feta, crumbled
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Garnish: lime wedges
    †Remove the seeds to cut down on the heat, if desired.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/tortillas ps 230

    Tortilla chips were originally made as a way to use broken or misshapen tortillas. Here’s the history of tortilla chips. Photo of artisan tortillas courtesy Hot Bread Kitchen.


    1. MAKE the adobo seasoning. Combine the ingredients in a small glass jar with an airtight lid and shake to blend. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

    2. SEASON the chicken breasts with adobo seasoning. Coat a ribbed grill pan with the oil spray (or vegetable oil) and heat over medium heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 3-6 minutes on each side, until slightly golden (test for doneness—170° on a meat thermometer). Set aside to cool, then slice into strips ½ inch wide.

    3. MAKE the tortilla baskets. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a small dish of water on your work surface. Place 4 empty (15-ounce) cans, open side down, on a baking pan. Using a pastry brush, soften the tortillas by brushing both sides with a little water, and then brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Drape the tortillas over the cans and bake until firm, about 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs, turn the tortilla bowls right side up, discard the cans, and continue to bake until golden and crisp, another 4 minutes.

    4. PREPARE the beans. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, chipotles with adobo sauce, and 1/2 cup water, cooking until slightly thick, (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Mix in the beans and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

    5. PLACE the tortilla bowls right side up on plates and fill each with a handful of greens. Divide the bean mixture among the tortilla bowls and top with a sprinkle of queso blanco or cotija. Fan the sliced chicken on top and garnish with chopped cilantro. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve with lime wedges.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Rich, Creamy Almond Milk

    Some people never touch a glass of milk, but we love it. We can drink two eight-ounce glasses a day. That’s in addition to cereal milk, yogurt and other milk-based products.

    Our brother is the same. So we were surprised recently when he asked if we’d like a few quarts of almond milk; he had purchased too much.

    Why? A physician had suggested that he cut back on cholesterol. He found that he preferred the rich, creamy taste of almond milk to fat-free cow’s milk (plant-based foods are cholesterol free). He also likened the flavored varieties—Chocolate, Coconut, Vanilla—to milkshakes without the calories.

    Almond milk can be used in just about any recipe calling for cow’s milk: in baking, hot and cold beverages, sauces and soups. The only significant limitation is in recipes that require cow’s milk starches to thicken, such as custard, pudding and yogurt. You need to add other thickening agents.

    Another benefit: You need never run out of milk. Brands like Almond Breeze have shelf stable versions. Just store extra cartons in the pantry. Like Parmalat brand cow’s milk, no refrigeration is required until the container is opened.



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    Almond milk is our favorite of the nondairy milk alternatives. Photo courtesy Juice Queen.

    For decades, cow’s milk consumption per capita has been on the decline, as newer generations—even pre-teens—drink coffee and soft drinks instead of a glass of milk. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, consumption across all age groups dropped 25% in the 37 years between 1975 and 2012.

    Since 1999, according to market research firm Euromonitor, plant-based alternatives, called non-dairy milks, have grown in annual sales by an average of 10.9%. They are now a $1 billion-plus category in domestic retail sales.

    The trend is based on personal factors, largely allergies, kosher and vegan diets, lactose intolerance and sustainable lifestyles*.
    *Cow manure and flatulence produces huge amounts of methane, a major greenhouse gas. Here’s more information.

    Twenty years ago, the option for non-dairy milk at supermarkets was soy milk. Then rice milk arrived. Today, the list is threefold larger:

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Oat milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
    Which one you choose should depend on two factors: taste preference and nutritional components. For example, if you want the milk to supplement your protein intake, look at the nutrition label. Some have more protein and other nutrients, some add nutrients equal to fortified cow’s milk (cow’s milk usually has added vitamin D; reduced fat varieties have added vitamin A). Some may contain additives you don’t want, from lecithin to sugar.

    As the disclaimer goes, speak with your healthcare professional before making any changes.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/Califia Chocolate and Vanilla 2301

    The problem with flavored almond milk: It tastes so much like a shake, you can drink buckets of it. The good news: These 10.5- ounce portions have only 30 calories and 6 grams of protein. Photo courtesy Califia Farms.


    Almond milk doesn’t have the protein of cow’s milk, but it is lower in calories and some brands add calcium and vitamins during processing. The key benefit for us is the mild taste. You probably wouldn’t even notice if someone replaced almond milk for cow’s milk in your coffee. A close second to soy in terms of sales, almond milk is the non-dairy milk with the largest annual sales increases.

    Coconut milk (the drinkable milk in a carton, not to be confused with the canned coconut milk for cooking and cocktails) has a noticeable amount of coconut flavor. If coconut is one of your favorite flavors and you want to taste it every time you use milk, then this is your milk alternative. While coconut milk is low in calcium and protein, on the good side it is also low in calories.

    Hemp milk is a product that people either love or hate. Personally, we don’t like the earthy flavor in a milk product. Like rice milk, it is an option for people who have nut and soy allergies.

    Rice milk can be gritty and watery. It is also higher in calories, carbs and sugar, lower in calcium and a poor source of protein. It is best for people who have nut and soy allergies.

    Soy milk is tasty when flavored, but in its plain form, we don’t like the beany aftertaste. Perhaps that’s why Starbucks eschews plain soy milk in flavor of sweetened vanilla soy milk as its only non-dairy alternative. Soy milk has the most protein of the non-dairy milks; but on the down side, processed soy isoflavones can affect hormones, raising the risk for breast cancer; they can also depress thyroid function. Unless it’s organic, soy milk is likely made with GMO soybeans. Soy is the highest milk alternative in sales, but that’s because it’s been around for so long and anyone who has drunk it for years has no incentive to change. But almond milk is closing in!

    Other non-dairy milks are on the shelves, and no doubt more will follow.

    Cashew milk is beloved by our vegan expert Hannah Kaminsky, who drinks and cooks only with non-dairy milks. We should have tried it by now, but are too enthralled by almond milk.

    We tried oat milk once, and didn’t care for it. Ditto with flax milk. Be your own judge.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gyros At Home

    September 1st is National Gyro Day, and the first thing you need to know is that gyro is pronounced YEE-ro, not JY-ro.

    A gyro is a Greek lamb sandwich on pita bread, roasted on a vertical spit and served with tomato, onion, and tzatziki, a yogurt-cucumber sauce (recipe). Other condiments and sauces can be added or substituted.

    Eating food off of pita bread or wrapping food in pita is an Ancient Greek tradition; the pita served as an edible plate. The tradition continues today—although you’ll also get a piece of foil or kitchen parchment to hold the pita from a street vendor, and a plate in a restaurant.

    Most people eat gyros made by food vendors, but for National Pita Day, try making your own at home. The recipe below is adapted by one from Maria Benardis, award-winning author, chef and founder of Greekalicious, Sydney, Australia’s first exclusively Greek cooking school.

    Traditionally, the deboned leg of lamb is grilled on on a rotating vertical spit (see photo below), and shaved off the leg in thin slices. In fact, the Turkish name for the same sandwich, döner kebab, literally means “rotating roast.”

    But for Maria’s recipe you don’t need a spit: Roasting the lamb is just as delicious.

    Of course not! Cuisine evolves constantly, and each cook can put his or her spin on a recipe. If you don’t like lamb, or don’t want to roast a whole leg, you can use any of the following:

  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken or pork
  • Lamb sausage or other sausage variety
  • Grilled portobello mushrooms
  • Grilled fish fillet

  • Traditional condiments: lettuce, onion, tomato, tzatziki
  • Cilantro or parsley
  • Feta cheese
  • Black olives (pitted), pickles, pepperoncini
  • Shredded red cabbage or yogurt-based slaw
  • Tahini sauce (recipe)

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/lamb sausage gyro kevineats 230

    Gyros can contain any protein other than lamb lamb. Here, lamb sausage is the protein (any sausage works). Photo courtesy Kevin Eats.



    This recipe is more layered than your typical gyro. A salty feta crust forms on the lamb with some heat from the red chili flakes. Instead of the standard tzatziki yogurt-cucumber-garlic-dill sauce, Maria makes a herbed yogurt sauce which eliminates the cucumber but adds basil, mint and parsley. (It’s also a delicious dip.)

    Maria also adds the baby potatoes to the gyro, but we prefer to serve them on the side. You can replace them with an all-American side of fries.
    Ingredient For 8 Servings

  • 8 pocketless whole wheat pita breads
  • 2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby arugula, washed and patted dry
    For The Lamb

  • 2-pound leg of lamb, de-boned
  • Salt and freshly-cracked pepper
  • Extra olive oil for drizzling
  • 16 bite size potatoes

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/giro stand Eaeeae Wiki 230

    A traditional lamb gyro is made from lamb roasted on a vertical spit. Photo by Eaeeae | Wikimedia.


    For The Feta Mixture

  • 6 ounces Greek feta, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions or shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
    For The Herbed Yogurt Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup dill fronds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 355°F (180°C). Place the lamb and potatoes in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

    2. PLACE all ingredients for the feta mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth and thick. Coat the lamb well with the feta mixture. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of the lamb and the potatoes. Add enough water to the baking dish to just cover the base.

    3. COVER the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 300°F (150°C). Bake for at 2 to 2-1/2 hours until the lamb is cooked through: 155°-160° on a meat thermometer for medium, 160° for well done. Because ovens vary, it is important to use a meat thermometer! Uncover and cook for a further 30-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.

    4. COMBINE the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a food processor and blend until all the herbs are chopped and the sauce is smooth and thick. Place in a bowl and refrigerate. When the lamb is ready…

    5. SLICE the lamb thinly. Warm the pita; if you like, you can lightly brush each side with olive oil and place the bread on a hot grill or in a grill pan for warming and grill marks.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place some yogurt sauce in the center of the pita, arugula and slices of tomato and onion. Top with some lamb and some more yogurt sauce. Serve flat, with an optional side of roasted potatoes.

    Find more of Maria’s delicious recipes at



    TIP: The Right Beer Glass Makes A Big Difference

    We’re one of the many people who likes to drink beer straight from the bottle. We believed, as with sparkling wine, that the narrower the opening, the more the carbonation stays in. A cold bottle from the fridge keeps the beer colder than a room-temperature glass. And, we don’t particularly care for a foamy head.

    But according to Spiegelau, a manufacturer of fine glassware in Bavaria, Germany, we have it all wrong. You only get about 15% of the flavor of the beer when you drink it from the bottle.

    That’s because smell, not palate, is the major component of taste (and explains why you can lose your taste when you have a badly congested nose and can’t smell). You get zero aroma through the narrow neck of the beer bottle, covered by your mouth as you take each sip.

    When you pour beer into a glass, the head* releases the bubbles (carbon dioxide) that burst into aroma.

    On top of that, different types of beer benefit from different shaped glasses, engineered to bring out the special attributes of the beer (Riedel, the parent company of Spieglau, was the pioneer in developing different wine glass types).


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    Engineered to bring out the best in American craft beers: from left, IPA, wheat beer and stout glasses. Photo courtesy Spiegelau USA.


    Different regions have long made different glass shapes for their beers. Think beyond the German stein to the British pint glass; the tall, tapered Pilsner† glass; the stemmed snifter for Belgian ales and IPAs; the tankard for ales, lagers, stouts and porters; and others. See the different types of beer glasses in the chart below.

    *The head is produced by bubbles of carbon dioxide gas that rise to the surface. The carbon dioxide is produced during fermentation.
    †Pilsner is the English spelling of Pilsener, the German spelling. The name derives from the town of Pilsen, a city in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic, where the style was originally brewed in October 1842—a new, clear, pale golden beer created from new malts, Pilsen’s remarkably soft water, Saaz noble hops and Bavarian-style lagering. It was a sensation. The Czech spelling of the town is Plzen.


    Spiegelau has developed a Craft Beer Glass Collection, with custom-designed glasses for the three most popular American craft beer styles: IPA, Stout and Wheat Beer. Each glass is designed, according to the company, to highlight “the complexity of aromas on the nose while demonstrating the optimum beer texture, balance and flavor intensity on the palate.”

    Riedel has done this for wine glasses with great success (you won’t believe how much better the wine tastes in a specially engineered wine glass than on a generic one). Now, they’ve done the same for beer.

    An expert panel of master brewers tested multiple glass shapes before finding the optimum shape for each beer type. Here’s what resulted:

  • The IPA glass was engineered to “showcase the complex and alluring aromatic profiles of American ‘hop-forward’ IPA beers, preserve a frothy head, enhance taste and mouth feel, and present a comfortably wide opening for the drinker to savory each beer.”
  • The Stout glass is designed to “accentuate the roasted malt, rich coffee and chocolate notes that define the Stout beer style.”
  • The Wheat Beer glass (wheat beer is one of the world’s most popular styles‚, has a large, voluminous bowl to harness the delicate aromas. The mouth opening was designed to spread the beer across the palate to “enhance mouth feel and harmony of sweetness and acidity.” The “open bottom glass base drives beer and aromatic foam upward into the main bowl after every sip.”
    And you thought a glass was just a glass!

    Custom-shape beer glasses isn’t hype: It’s precision engineering and it works. Buy yourself a set and test it against what you’re currently using. We had great results with the Spiegelau glasses.

    Beer glasses are a great gift for beer connoisseurs, and other companies have gotten the custom-shape message.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/three types of beer in pilsner glasses wisegeek 230

    Wrong! These are traditional Pilsner glasses, specifically designed to bring out the best qualities in a Pilsener beer. That means that they won’t enhance the flavors of stout (left) and amber ale (center). But wait: The Lenox Pilsner glasses are totally different—a stemmed tulip glass! Photo courtesy



    Lenox has a new line of beer glasses in four styles: IPA, Pint With Crown, Stemmed Pilsner and Wheat Beer. And surprise: The shapes are totally different from conventional designs—as well as from the Spiegelau designs.

    The Pilsner is a stemmed tulip, like the traditional Belgian Ale glass. The IPA and Wheat Beer glasses are tall and narrow with a tapered waist, like the conventional Pilsner glass. The Pint With Crown is a sleeker version of the pub pint glass.

    Here’s what they say about their shapes:

  • The Stemmed Pilsner’s tulip shape “traps the rich aromas and helps maintain a frothy head. The thin flared rim places the beer evenly on the palate, elevating the overall taste experience.” Lenox also recommends the shape for stouts and dark beers.
  • The India Pale Ale glass, tall and slender, “is a perfect complement for IPAs and lighter ales. The contoured shape preserves a frothy head, while maximizing aroma and enhancing taste.”
  • The Wheat Beer glass has a large mouth and a narrow body, “making it the ideal vessel for wheat beers and most pale or blonde beers. By tipping the glass back, the aromas that characterize these brews are pushed to the nose, thus allowing the drinker to enjoy the beer’s full flavor.”

  • The Pint With Crown is the English-style pub glass that serves an official imperial pint, approximately 20 ounces. “Ideally sized for generous pours of pale ales and lagers, this pint’s curved lip cultivates foamy heads.
    Frankly, we bet on the precision of the Spiegelau glasses. We’ve tasted with them, and they work! There are no better glassware engineers on earth than Riedel, the parent company of Spiegelau.

    We haven’t tried Lenox or other contenders, and you can’t be sure without trying. So we’ll keep testing, and will keep you posted.

  • Lenox Tuscany Beer Glass Collection, set of four styles, $32.12
  • Spiegelau Tasting Glasses, set of four styles, $34.99 (includes the glasses described above plus a lager glass)
    If you don’t care about precision engineering but like the idea of different glass shapes for different beers, try:

  • Libbey, set of six styles, $19.99 (these glasses are traditional styles, not made with modern engineering to optimize the flavors and aromas)

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/beer glasses original copy

    See the original chart at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Pozole (Posole) ~ Not Just For Special Occasions

    Much of what we know about Aztec customs is thanks to Bernardino de Sahagún (1499-1590), a Franciscan friar, missionary priest, scholar and ethnographer who traveled to New Spain* (current-day Mexico) after its conquest. Arriving in 1529, he learned the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs and spent more 61 years documenting their beliefs, culture and history.

    He wrote extensively about Aztec cuisine. This article focuses on pozole (poe-SOE-leh, and often spelled posole in the U.S.), a hearty soup or stew made of hominy, meat, chiles and other seasonings.

    The dish has either a red or green color depending on the chiles used for the soup base; there’s also white pozole. In addition to the traditional pork, later variations used beans, beef, chicken and seafood.

    Pozole† is actually the Aztec word for hominy, corn that is hulled (the bran and germ have been removed) by bleaching the whole kernels in a lye bath (called nixtamalization).

    In Sahagún’s time, pozole was cooked only on special occasions. Later, it became a popular holiday and “Saturday night” dish.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pork pozole chefIngridHoffmann 230

    Pork pozole, garnished with cabbage,
    cilantro, lime and radishes. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.

    Today, pozole is customized by each individual at the table, with garnishes that include avocado, cilantro, diced red onion, lime or lemon wedges, oregano, radishes, salsa, shredded cabbage, sour cream and tortilla chips or tostadas.

    NOTE: Don’t confuse pozole with pozol, a porrige-like drink made from fermented corn dough.
    *After an 11-year struggle for independence, New Spain became the sovereign nation of Mexico in 1821.

    †Also spelled posole, pozolé and pozolli; the original Nahuatl spelling is name is potzolli.

  • Beef Pozole With Red Chiles (Pozole Rojo)
  • Green Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Verde)
  • Red Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Rojo)
  • Red Pozole With Pork (Pozole Rojo)
  • Shrimp & Scallop Pozole (Pozole Blanco)
  • Vegetarian Pozole With Beans (Vegan Pozole Rojo)
  • White Pozole With Chicken (Pozole Blanco)
    A modern variation:

  • Pozole-Stuffed Grilled Onions

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pozole salad kaminsky 230

    Pozole interpreted as a salad, for a first course or side. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.


    Today we feature a vegan pozole salad from Hannah Kamimsky of Bittersweet Blog. It is intended as a first course or a side dish.

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 Savoy cabbage ((1-1/4 pounds), shredded
  • 1 can (29-ounces) cooked white hominy kernels (not hominy grits), drained and rinsed
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
    For The Cilantro Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 limes depending on size and juiciness)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon light agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Toss the cherry tomatoes and onion with the olive oil and oregano, and spread them in one even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15-25 minutes, until the tomatoes are blistered and beginning to burst. Let cool. Meanwhile…

    2. PREPARE the dressing: Add the cilantro, sundried tomatoes and garlic to a food processor or blender, and slowly pour in the lime juice while running the machine on low. Thoroughly purée, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl or blender jar as needed. Once the purée is mostly smooth, add the agave, chili powder, cumin and salt next, and drizzle in the olive oil (with the motor running) to emulsify.

    3. TOSS together the tomatoes and onions, cabbage, hominy, avocados, and jalapeños in a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Chill for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to fully meld.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Blueberry Salt

    Sea salt is produced by simple evaporation of sea water. Depending on the body of water, the salt will have different qualities: not just in flavor, based on the minerals in the local water, but also in the size and shape of the crystals. See our Salt Glossary for more on the different types of salt.

    A subset of sea salt is artisan salt, which is created with added flavor is added. With the growing enthusiasm of chefs and home cooks, the flavor options have exploded. Saltopia, an online seller, offers dozens of flavored salts, including:

  • Fruit flavored salt: caper, coconut, habanero, jalapeño, lemon, lime, orange, peach, pineapple, pomegranate, strawberry, tomato
  • Herb flavored salt: basil, cilantro, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, lemongrass, mint, peppermint, rosemary, saffron, thyme, wasabi
  • Spice flavored salt: Aleppo pepper, anise, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, curry, ginger, mustard, sumac, vanilla
  • Smoked salt: applewood, alderwood
  • Sweet flavored salt: brown sugar, honey, maple
  • Vegetable flavored salt: mushroom, onion, truffle

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blueberry salt saltopia 230

    Blueberry salt: You can buy a jar or make your own. Photo courtesy Saltopia.

  • And beyond: balsamic vinegar, Cabernet Sauvignon, chocolate, rose
    Today, how about making a batch of blueberry sea salt? All you need are blueberries and salt!

    There isn’t extensive blueberry flavor because the salt overwhelms it; but the color is gorgeous—a glorious garnish or finishing salt.

    Sprinkle it as in ingredient or a garnish:

  • Baking, especially with lemon (lemon muffins, shortbread, garnish a lemon tart)
  • Bread dipper with olive oil and herbs
  • Confections: salted caramels and salted chocolate
  • Cottage cheese, soft cheeses, yogurt
  • Dessert: cobblers, puddings
  • Finishing salt: beef lamb, pork, poultry, seafood, smoked fish
  • Food garnish
  • Fruit salad or grilled fruit (a bit of salt brings out the sweetness)
  • Glass rimmer: Blueberry Mojito, lemonade, Margarita, etc.)
  • Ice cream
  • Pasta
  • Plate garnish (sprinkle bits on the plate for splashes of color)
  • Popcorn seasoning
  • Potatoes: baked, mashed, any pale recipe
  • Rice and other pale grains
  • Salted nuts
  • Sorbet
  • Salads and cooked vegetables

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blueberry salt saltopia 230

    Are you inspired to make your own? Photo courtesy Saltopia.



    You can buy the blueberry sea salt or make your own. You can make batches as gifts, too.

    Start with a small batch (this recipe makes one cup of blueberry salt). Prep time is 35 minutes, cook time: is 1 hour to 1 day, depending on whether you choose to oven dry (1 hour) or let dry naturally (24 hours or more).

    After you make this recipe, you can customize it with other ingredients: balsamic vinegar, citrus peel, thyme, rosemary or any of the ideas above.

    The recipe is courtesy of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, which has lots of delicious blueberry recipes

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup coarse sea salt (substitute kosher salt, or for a beautiful flake salt, use Maldon salt, with unique, pyramid-shaped crystals)
  • Preparation

    1. LINE two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

    2. SIMMER the berries and water in a saucepan over medium heat until the berries pop and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    3. PRESS the blueberries with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, reserving the juice. Further strain the berries with a fine wire sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. Line the sieve with cheesecloth and strain out the finer particles.

    4. RETURN the juice to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer (watching closely so the juice doesn’t burn) until the juice is reduced to a syrup thick enough to coat a spoon. You should have 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice.

    5. REMOVE from the heat. Stir in the salt until the crystals are evenly coated, then spread the salt onto baking sheets. Let it air dry, stirring occasionally, until dry. This will take 4-24 hours, depending on the humidity. Alternatively, bake the salt in a 150° convection oven, stirring frequently until dry, about 1 hour.

    TIP: For a deeper purple salt, add food color to the blueberry juice in Step 4.



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