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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Thanksgiving Cheeses

Jack O'Pumpkseed Cheese

Cranberry Chevre Goat Cheese

Gouda With Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkinseed Gouda Cheese

[1] Jack O’Pumpkinseed, a mountain-style cheese from Switzerland. [2] Cranberry goat cheese log from Montchèvre. [3] Pumpkin spice goat cheese log from Montchèvre. [4] Another Pumpkinseed Gouda from The Netherlands, at Sam’s Club.

 

If you read our articles on Halloween Cheeses, you know that many of them are colorful representation of the Harvest Season.

They certainly work for Thanksgiving. But for a smashing Thanksgiving-specific cheese plate, check out these holiday-themed cheeses: a blue, a goat, and semihard cheeses (Cheddar, Gouda, Swiss).

  • Blue Cheese. No cranberries or pumpkin seeds here, but blue cheese lovers will appreciate the hot chiles mixed into Carr Valley Glacial Wildfire Blue, an artisan cheese from Wisconsin.
  • Cranberry Cheddar, Jack, Stilton and Wensleydale: different retailers will carry one or the other. Seek them out: They’re sure to be a hit.
  • Swiss-Style: Jack O’Pumpkinseed. This washed rind cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland has chopped roasted pumpkin seeds in both the paste and the rind. The paste is very smooth with a creamy mouthfeel. Bonus: tiny eyes. Available at iGourmet and elsewhere.
  • Goat Cheese. A number of cheese factories make fresh goat cheese logs rolled in dry cranberries. The Cranberry Chevre Log at Trader Joe’s is just $3.99.
  • Gouda-Style: From The Netherlands, Kaamps Gouda-Style Cheese With Pumpkin Seeds is a popular item at Sam’s Clubs (more information).
  •  
    The semi-hard cheeses are great for a seasonal cheeseburger.

     
    SEASONAL ACCOMPANIMENTS

  • Apple chips. Our favorite brand is Bare Fruit.
  • Breads. cranberry orange, cranberry walnut, herb, nut, semolina
  • Fall fruits. apples, figs, pears, persimmons, pomegranate
  • Plate garnish. Decorate with cinnamon sticks, fresh sage, pomegranate arils, star anise
  • Pumpkin butter.
  • Seasonal crackers. We especially like the Oat Cakes and Rye Cakes from Effie’s Homemade.
  • Spiced pumpkin seeds. You can buy them (our favorite is Superseedz or season and roast your own.
  •  
    HOW TO ROAST PUMPKIN SEEDS

    You can bake raw, hulled pumpkin seeds at 300°F for 45 minutes until golden brown, or roast them in a skillet on the stove top.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Spices of choice
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  •  
    Preparation: Oven Technique

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Toss the seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet or in a baking pan.

    2. BAKE for about 45 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

     
    Preparation: Skillet Technique

    1. PLACE the seeds in a dry heavy skillet, 9- to 10-inches, over moderate heat. Stir constantly until the seeds are puffed and golden, 4 to 5 minutes.

    2. TRANSFER to a bowl. Stir in the oil and seasonings; toss thoroughly until all seeds are coated.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Spice Up National Spicy Guacamole Day

    November 14th is National Spicy Guacamole Day. If you don’t like heat, regular National Guacamole Day is September 16th.

    Most people make guacamole to taste, adding crushed red chile flakes, some hot sauce, or minced jalapeños.

    But you can use different types of heat, all of which provide slightly different nuances to the heat.

     
    WAYS TO SPICE UP GUACAMOLE

    1. HOT MIX-INS

    Add more heat in your favorite forms. You can divide the batch to test your preferences.

  • Alpeppo pepper: Crushed red crushed flakes from Syria (and to a lesser extent, Turkey) with a deep, rich aroma some compare to ancho, plus a sweet fruitiness.
  • Cayenne and/or red chili flakes: The longstanding classics.
  • Gochujang: A pungent and savory condiment made from fermented soy beans and red chili peppers. It is traditionally used to season Korean foods like kimchi.
  • Harissa: A paste typically made from various dried red chili peppers, cumin, coriander, caraway seeds and garlic.
  • Hot mustard: A hotter mustard, like Chinese mustard. Look for Colman’s in powder or prepared mustard.
  • Hot oil: chile-infused oil and mustard oil are two options. Alternatively, you can drizzle them on top of the bowl as a garnish.
  • Hot sauce: Note that more than a few drops of red hot sauce will darken the guacamole. If you want to use a lot, look for a green hot sauce, made from green chiles.
  • Jalapeño, habanero or other hot chile: Use green to blend in or red for contrast (red chiles have more heat). Mince them.
  • Onions: White onions are the hottest, followed by red onions. Mince them.
  • Prepared white horseradish: Save the red for a garnish.
  • Sriracha: A hot sauce that originated in Thailand, made from chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar.
  • Wasabi: Paste or powder, this relative of western horseradish, from Japan, adds heat without prominent horseradish flavor.
  •  
    2. SPICY TOPPINGS/GARNISHES

  • Horseradish: Grated fresh horseradish or prepared red horseradish, which is white horseradish colored with beets. It makes a bright rim around the surface perimeter of the bowl.
  • Microgreens: arugula or mustard.
  • Radishes: a fine dice.
  • Red horseradish: White
  • Spicy pumpkin seeds: Make your own or buy SuperSeedz in Somewhat Spicy or Super Spicy.
  • Szechuan peppercorns: The tingling sensation has a slow onset and lingers for a long time. Crush it as a garnish. Szechuan peppercorn is not a true peppercorn, but a member of the citrus family typically. The different types of pepper.
  •  
    BEYOND TORTILLA CHIPS: WAYS TO SERVE GUACAMOLE

    Before it became a dip with tortilla chips, guacamole was an all-purpose sauce (see the History Of Guacamole in the next section). Today, you have a broad choice of how to use it, beyond Tex-Mex, with:

  • Anything grilled
  • Avocado toast (with or without a fried egg) or omelet filling
  • Baked potatoes
  • Burger topping (photo #4 above)
  • Chicken salad: blend with mayonnaise
  • Cobb salad, instead of sliced avocado
  • Condiment/topping for fish
  • Deviled eggs
  • Flatbread: with any topping from arugula and bacon to sliced hard-boiled eggs
  • Guacamole mayonnaise: half and half, or however you like it
  • Hot dog topping
  • Hummus: ditto
  • Mayonnaise substitute
  • Pizza: instead of tomato sauce, topped with bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, corn, jalapeño, red onion, chicken, whatever
  • Sandwich spread: on a BLT, ham, turkey, veggie or other favorites sandwich
  • Stacked appetizer: alternate with layers of salmon or tuna tartare (photo #3 above)
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Tortilla chip alternatives: Japanese black sesame rice crackers, Swedish flatbread like Wasa crispbread
  •  

    Guacamole With Crudites

    Guacamole-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

    Tuna Tartare On Guacamole

    Burger With Guacamole

    Tuna Guacamole Hors d'Oeuvre

    Avocados On Tree

    [1] Spicy guacamole with crudités (photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog). [2] Guacamole-stuffed cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy Frontera Fiesta). [3] Spicy guacamole under tuna tartare (photo courtesy Chicago Cut Steakhouse). [4] Burger with guacamole (photo courtesy The Organic Grill). [5] Guacamole-tuna hors d’oeuvre (photo courtesy Ippudo | NYC). [6] Avocados on the tree (photo courtesy Avocados From Chile).

     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown in the area for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs called it ahuacatl (ah-ha-kwa-tay); the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard the word as aguacate, ah-hwah-cah-tay, the spelling and pronounciation they adopted. The sauce made from it evolved into was ahuacamOlli, a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce].

    Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

    According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gravlax

    It’s easy to look at gravlax and think it’s smoked salmon. Both have that bright pink-orange color, both are served in thin slices.

    The differences: One is smoked over wood, the other is cured in brine; one requires a smoker, the other is cured in the fridge. Another distinction: Gravlax is always cured with fresh dill. Consider it as dill-cured salmon. Another: Gravlax tends to be more pale in color; but the color of smoked salmon varies and depends on factors from farmed vs. wild to diet of the fish.

    Our first introduction to gravlax was in college. Invited to a dinner party, we arrived early to help, and were proudly shown the first course: gravlax. It had been cured for three days in the fridge, under a brick!

    It looked like smoked salmon, a favorite of ours; but the taste was so much more delicate. Without the infusion of smoke, a more pure salmon quality came through.
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF GRAVLAX

    During the Middle Ages, gravlax was made by fishermen, who salted the salmon and lightly fermented it by burying it in the sand on the beach above the high-tide line. The word gravlax comes from the Scandinavian word gräva/grave, to dig; and lax/laks, salmon.

    Today fermentation is no longer used in favor of brining. The salmon is “buried” in a dish in the fridge, in a dry marinade of salt, sugar and dill. In three days, it’s cured. That’s it!

    Some people like to add grated beets, to color the gravlax red.

    Don’t toss the brine produced during curing: Use it to make a sauce for other seafood recipes.

    Beyond salmon, you can use this technique to cure any fatty fish, such as arctic char, black cod/sablefish, butterfish/pompano, Chilean sea bass, Florida pompano and mackerel. For an interesting first course that’s full of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Here’s a list of (fatty vs. lean fish.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE GRAVLAX

    Wild salmon is the most delicious, but you can use any salmon, fresh or frozen, with the skin on (but remove any scales and small bones). If frozen, defrost it first, ideally overnight in the fridge.

    If you’re concerned about eating raw fish, freeze the salmon before preparing it. This kills any harmful bacteria.

    If you want to take this recipe for a test-drive, halve the ingredients. You can also make two half batches, testing different curing times (12 hours versus 48 hours, e.g.).

    Ingredients For 10 Three-Ounce Servings

  • 2 pounds salmon (skin on, defrosted if previously frozen)
  • 1 bunch of dill, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • Optional: 2-3 raw beets, grated, for a red color (see photo)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-ground black pepper
  •  
    Variation

    Some recipes add vodka and citrus zest.

    Preparation

    1. MAKE a few cuts in the skin so the marinade will better penetrate.

    2. MIX all ingredients except the salmon in a bowl until you have a gooey paste. Cover each piece of the salmon’s flesh side (not the skin side) with a thick layer of paste. If using two fillets, sandwich them together, flesh-side to flesh-side, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap to keep out any air.

    3. PLACE the salmon on a tray or plate (we used a glass baking dish) and let it marinate for 2-4 hours at room temperature. Then place it in the fridge with a very weight on top of it. If you have a couple of bricks, great: Stick them in plastic bags and use them as weights.

    4. CURE for 12-36 hours, depending on how cured a taste you want. Turn the salmon occasionally.

  • 12-24 hours is a light cure that will yield a very fresh tasting gravlax.
  • 48 hours will yield a gravlax with sharper flavor from the seasonings.
  • Slice off a small piece and taste it. If you want more flavor, rewrap the salmon and put it back in the fridge.
  •  
    5. TO SERVE, wipe off the extra seasoning, rinse the fillets and pat them dry. Using a sharp knife, slice the gravlax vertically, cut into thin slices without getting too close to the skin. Serve it with your choice of ingredients; see the list below.
     
    RECIPE #2: MUSTARD SAUCE FOR GRAVLAX

    You can serve horseradish cream with the gravlax, Swedish mustard sauce, or both.

    We adapted this recipe from Sweden.se.

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper*
  • 1 cup olive or other vegetable oil
  • Chopped dill
  •    

    Salmon Fillet

    Gravlax

    Gravlax Plate

    Gravlax Eggs Benedict

    Gravlax Tartine

    Beet-Dyed Gravlax

    [1] Turn this salmon fillet into [2] gravlax (photo #1 courtesy Seabee Salmon; photo #2 courtesy Sweden.se). [3] Gravlax can be served plain or fancy, as in this first course from Eataly | Chicago, or [4] Gravlax Eggs Benedict (photo courtesy Jarlsberg). [5] You can serve a simple open- (or closed-) face sandwich, or an elegant presentation like this one from C Chicago. [6] Beet-dyed gravlax with some of its traditional accompaniments (photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco).

     
    Preparation

    1. MIX the mustard, sugar and vinegar together thoroughly; season with salt and fresh-ground pepper.

    2. POUR the oil in a steady, thin stream, stirring constantly. When the sauce reaches a mayonnaise-like consistency, mix in the chopped dill.
     
    ________________
    *The recipe called for white pepper, a popular ingredient in Swedish cooking but not often used by American home cooks. We used black. Peppercorns are the fruit of a vine, Piper nigrum. White pepper is a conventional peppercorn with the black husk removed. While much of the piperine—the compound that gives pungency to the peppercorn—is in the husk, French chefs of yore chose to remove it to avoid black specks in pure white dishes like white sauces and puréed potatoes. Frankly, we like the specks and the extra flavor from the husk, and use black peppercorns universally. Here are the different types of pepper, including pink peppercorns, green peppercorns and dozens of others, none of which is Piper nigrum.

     

    Gravlax With Mustard Sauce

    Horseradish Sauce

    Prepared Horseradish

    [7] Swedish mustard sauce from The Galanter’s Kitchen. [8] Horseradish sauce (photo courtesy Food Network), made with [8] prepared horseradish (photo courtesy Koops).

     

     
    RECIPE #3: HORSERADISH SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons prepared (jarred) horseradish
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Extras virgin olive oil
  • Pinch salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the sour cream, horseradish and lemon grated horseradish and lemon juice from in a small bowl. Mix well, season with a pinch of salt and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

    2. COVER and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

     
    WAYS TO SERVE GRAVLAX

    Gravlax is a mainstay of the Swedish smorgasbord. You can serve it that way with some of the ingredients below; or use it as you would smoked salmon. Yes, it works on a bagel, a sandwich, a canapé, Salmon Eggs Benedict, etc.

  • Blini or other savory pancakes
  • Capers
  • Crème fraîche
  • Cucumber salad
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Potatoes, boiled and dressed with parsley and/or dill, or in a vinaigrette
  • Radishes, sliced (look for candy-stripe of watermelon radishes)
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Sauerkraut (look for an artisan/probiotic brands)
  • Watercress
  •  
    Plus

  • Lemon wedges
  • Horseradish cream
  • Mustard sauce
  • Rye bread (dark and/or light rye)
  • Optional: unsalted butter
  •  
    Optional: Other Seafood

  • Anchovies
  • Herring
  • Mackerel gravlax
  • Sardines
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12+ Unusual Pizza Toppings

    Greek Pizza Toppings

    Tuna & Capers Pizza

    Kimchi Pork Belly Pizza

    [1] From Italy’s neighbor: Greek pizza with feta, kalamata olives, onions and more (here’s a recipe from Cooking Classy). [2] Sorry, Charlie: tuna pizza with onions and capers (here’s the recipe from the New York Times). [3] Go Korean with pork belly, kimchi, scallions and cilantro (here’s a recipe from No Recipes).

     

    November 12th is National Pizza With Everything Day.

    Set aside the usual toppings for the moment, and consider a pizza topped with “everything unusual.”

    While these recipes come from our own kitchen inventions, you can find recipes for many of them and adjust them to your tastes.

  • Bacon & Egg Pizza: Top a white pizza with bacon, eggs (fried or scrambled); garnish with cherry tomatoes (or ketchup!) and large toast croutons.
  • Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza: A white pie topped with ground beef or meatballs or bacon, onion, halved cherry tomatoes and your favorite BLT cheese (Cheddar? Swiss?). Add thin-sliced romaine hearts or fresh arugula if you like lettuce on your burger.
  • BLT Pizza: Top the pie with bacon and fresh* or sundried tomatoes; garnish with fresh arugula when it comes out of the oven.
  • Caviar & Smoked Salmon Pizza: Top a white pie with boiled potato slices, smoked salmon and red onion; garnish with salmon caviar when it comes out of the oven.
  • Chicken Livers & Caramelized Onions. Liver lovers will love it; here’s a recipe.
  • Cobb Salad Pizza: Top a white pie with thin-sliced romaine hearts, avocado, cubed chicken breasts, sliced hard-boiled eggs and crumbled blue cheese.
  • Greek Pizza: Top a white pie with feta, kalamata olives, peperoncini, fresh dill and optional ground lamb. Here’s a recipe for starters; we added more toppings.
  • Indian Pizza: On a regular pizza crust or naan, flavor the marinara with Indian spices (curry, garam masala) and top it with paneer cheese and your favorite dishes, from tandoori chicken to any of the dozens selections in pouches: channa masala, khatta aloo, palak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese), vegetable korma, etc.
  • Korean Pizza: Pork belly, kimchi, fresh chiles, green onions, cilantro. Garnish with sriracha or hot sauce of choice. Here’s a recipe to add to.
  • Paté Pizza: Top a white pie with chicken liver mousse or other pâté. The pâté will melt on top of the pizza, creating a new way to enjoy paté. Add wild mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil. Here’s a recipe to use as a base.
  • Seafood Pizza: Beyond clams, you can top a white pie with the finest: bay scallops or sliced scallops, calamari, lobster, mussels, octopus, oysters and shrimp. Add the toppings during the last 10 minutes in the oven.
  • Tex-Mex Pizza: Mix salsa into the marinara and top the pie with refried beans, avocado, shredded chicken or protein of choice, sliced jalapeños (substitute bell pepper), fresh cilantro and shredded jack cheese. If you can find a cornmeal crust, great; otherwise garnish the cooked pizza with some tortilla chips.
  • Tuna Pizza: Hold the mayo, but top the pie with flaked tuna, sliced red onion and capers. You can add anchovies, too. Here’s a recipe to use as a guide.
  •  
    What’s your favorite unusual topping?
    ________________
    *Use cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes when tomatoes are not in season.

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Unconventional Sundae Ingredients

    Cornflakes Sundae

    Beef Sundae

    Tomato Basil Sundae

    [1] Not your typical vanilla ice cream sundae (photo courtesy Ogawa Coffee. [2] How about a beef sundae with cheddar (photo courtesy Dairy Max). [3] Tart frozen yogurt like Pinkberry is an opportunity to try savory toppings, like marinated cherry tomatoes and basil (photo courtesy Pinkberry).

     

    For National Sundae Day, November 11th, commemorates the history of the ice cream sundae, which dates to around 1892 in Ithaca, New York.

    While we love conventional ice cream sundaes (particularly hot fudge over pistachio ice cream), there are novel approaches as well.

    Why not think beyond the conventional and create a delicious ice cream sundae with at least one “different” ingredient.
     
    WHAT IS NOT DIFFERENT

  • Berries and other sundae fruits
  • Crushed cookies and cake cubes
  • Popular candies, sprinkles, dragées
  • Any fruits or nuts—fresh, dried, raw, roasted, etc.
  • Any conventional ice cream sauce (butterscotch, chocolate, strawberry, etc.)
  • Marshmallow cream or whipped cream
  •  
    WHAT IS DIFFERENT

  • Cereals and granola
  • Crushed honey sesame bites
  • Exotic fruits: carambola/star fruit, dragon fruit, lychee, rambutan, etc.
  • Honey (especially flavored honey), preserves, pie filling
  • Jell-O or other gelatin cubes, including cubed Jell-O shots
  • Scoops of other frozen desserts (granita, sorbet, yogurt)
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, chia
  • Flavored whipped cream: recipes for bourbon, five spice, lavender, pumpkin pie spice, etc.); mascarpone
  • Garnishes: colored sanding sugars, peanut butter cream
  •  
    Photo #1 shows a sundae, from Ogawa Coffee in Boston, an offshoot of a Japanese chain.

    It’s made in a pint glass with two unconventional ingredients: coffee gelatin (a Boston specialty, originating as a way to use yesterday’s leftover coffee) and Corn Flakes. As a coffee house, the coffee gelatin makes perfect sense. It’s made with coffee and unflavored gelatin; here’s a recipe.

     
    RECIPE: OGAWA MOCHA CORNFLAKE ICE CREAM SUNDAE (PHOTO #1)

    Ingredients

  • Vanilla ice cream (substitute coffee, chocolate, or a small scoop of each)
  • Cubes of house-made coffee gelatin
  • Cubes of chocolate terrine (substitute brownie or chocolate cake cubes
  • Chocolate/fudge sauce
  • Corn Flakes
  • Whipped cream
  • Garnish: dried cranberries (substitute dried cherries, chocolate-covered espresso beans or pomegranate arils
  • Preparation

    1. PLACE some chocolate sauce on the very bottom. Then add one scoop ice cream, topped with chocolate terrine. Add more chocolate sauce, the second scoop of ice cream and the gelatin cubes.

    2. ADD the third scoop of ice cream and the Corn Flakes. Top with more gelatin, whipped cream and garnish.

     
    HOW ABOUT A SAVORY SUNDAE?

    You can make savory sundaes as well. Some are made with savory ice cream; others are sundae in name, but aren’t cold.

    We have recipes for a:

  • Beef Stew Sundae (Photo #2)
  • Spaghetti & Meatball Sundae
  • Savory Yogurt Sundae (Photo #3)
  • Sour cream ice cream with salmon caviar garnish (we’re still working to perfect the amount of herbs in the sour cream ice cream, but here’s an Ideas In Food recipe for sourdough ice cream they top with caviar)
  •  
    But we’re not suggesting that you whip up a caviar sundae. Yet.

      

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