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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 Vegetables/Salads/Fresh Herbs

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

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Before cooking, bright green. Photo
courtesy SpoonForkBacon.com.

 

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.

HOW TO SERVE SHISHITO PEPPERS

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.
  •  

    WAYS TO SERVE SHISHITO PEPPERS

  • 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.
  •  

    shishito-peppers-nutmegnanny-230

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

     
    IS IT “CHILE” OR “PEPPER?”

    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.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Peach & Chicken Salad

    Chicken Salad Grilled Peaches

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

     

    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!).

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD WITH PEACHES &
    WHOLE GRAINS

    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,
    chopped
  • 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.

     

    Preparation

    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.
     
    LIST OF WHOLE GRAINS

    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 WholeGrainsCouncil.org.
     
     
    WHAT ARE STONE FRUITS?

    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?

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Stovetop Elote

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    Elote, Spanish corn on the cob. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    Elote is the Mexican version of corn on the cob, a popular street food. It is often grilled, then served on a stick with lime wedge, ancho chili powder and crumbled queso fresco.

    Elote is the Aztec (Nahuatl) word for what the corn on the cob. It is pronounced ee-LOW-tee. Removed from the cob, the recipe has a different name, esquites, from the Nahuatl word for toasted corn, ízquitl.

    This hack from Good Eggs in San Francisco eliminates the need for a grill. Just use a gas range to turn ears of fresh corn into this Mexican street treat.

    Here’s more about elote, including an off-the-cob elote salad.
     
    RECIPE: STOVE TOP ELOTE

    Ingredients

  • Ears of fresh corn, husked
  • Butter
  • Ancho chili powder (substitute regular chili powder)
  • Crumbled queso fresco (substitute cotija, feta or grated Parmesan)
  • Lime wedges (substitute lemon)
  • Optional: skewers (because corn is heavy, you need thick skewers; you can also use conventional cob holders or these disposable cob holders)
  • Preparation

    1. USE tongs to hold the ears of corn directly over the stove top flame, turning to to blister the kernels.

    2. REMOVE from the heat, slather with butter, roll in crumbled queso fresco and finish with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of ancho chile powder.
     
    ELOTE CONDIMENTS

    In Mexico people serve the classics: ancho chili powder, lime, queso blanco. But in the U.S., some people substitute mayonnaise or sour cream (crema) for the butter.

    Pepper or seasoned salt are also options (lemon pepper is popular in Texas, per Wikipedia). Other options: cilantro, fresh parsley, oregano.

    Or for a true American take, how about crumbled bacon?

     
      

    Comments

    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.
     
    CLASSIC POZOLE RECIPES

  • 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.
     
    RECIPE: POZOLE SALAD

    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
  •  
    Preparation

    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.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Okra’s In Season, What Should You Cook?

    Most people think of gumbo is a soup or stew from Louisiana, typically made with chicken or shellfish, Andouille sausage, bell peppers, celery and onions, and thickened with okra pods.

    But in the beginning, “gumbo” was simply the word for okra in the African Bantu language.

    Okra came to America with the slave trade and was introduced to the Southern white population by their African cooks. Okra became the vegetable associated with the American South*.

    Okra is a flowering plant in the mallow family, Malvaceae, which also includes cacao, cotton, hibiscus, the kola nut (the base flavor of cola drinks) and the “king of Asian fruits,” the durian, known for its strong aroma and large, thorny husk.

    The valuable part of the okra plant is its edible green seed pods. The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with champions of Ethiopian, West Africa, even South Asia. Today, the vegetable is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world. [Source]

    Okra is used in casseroles, soups, stews and sides; added, cooked, to salads and sandwiches (try an okra grilled cheese). They can be fried or stuffed (like poppers).

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/red and green okra starlingyardsFB 230

    Okra pods were originally green, but mutations have led to the development of red and burgundy varieties. Look for them in your farmers market. Photo courtesy Starling Yards.

     
    But perhaps our favorite way to enjoy okra is Rick’s Picks Smokra, the most amazing smoked okra pickles. We always buy the six-packs and love them as low-calorie snacks, as exciting garnishes for dinner guests and to give as gifts.
     
    *Okra is also an important ingredient in cuisines in areas as far-flung as Africa, Asia and Latin America.
     
    HOW SHOULD YOU COOK OKRA?

    We consulted the experts on the best ways to use okra. Here are Southern Living’s recommendations of the 12 best okra recipes:

  • Baked Polenta With Cheese & Okra, a special brunch casserole
  • Fried Okra Salad
  • Fried Pecan Okra
  • Okra & Corn Maque Chou (a corn and okra salad)
  • Okra Creole
  • Okra Rellenos, fried okra filled with cheese
  • Peppery Grilled Okra with lemon-basil dipping sauce
  • Pickled Okra
  • Pickled Okra & Shrimp
  • Shrimp & Okra Hush Puppies, fried cornbread bites
  • Skillet-Roasted Okra and Shrimp
  • Smashed Fried Okra
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/okra fries ulelerestaurant 230

    Okra fries. Photo courtesy Ulele Restaurant |
    Tampa.

     

    But where’s the gumbo?

    We looked into THE NIBBLE archives and found:

  • Chicken Andouille Gumbo from Chef Emeril Lagasse
  • Easy Chicken & Sausage Gumbo from Chef David Venable
  • Easy Chicken & Sausage Gumbo using Swanson Louisana Cajun
    Flavor Infused Broth
  •  
    HOW TO ELIMINATE OKRA “SLIME”

    Some people avoid okra because of the “slimy” texture. That okra just hasn’t been cooked correctly. Here are slime-busting tips from Okra, a Savor the South cookbook by Virginia Willis.:

  • Choose small fresh okra pods. The smaller the okra, the less slime.
  • Cook okra at high heat: roasting at high temperatures, searing in a cast iron pan, deep fat frying or grilling are techniques that limit the slime.
  • Wash and dry the pods very thoroughly. Wet okra will steam, causing it to “slime.”
  • Cook okra in small batches. Overcrowding brings the heat down, which starts steaming and sliming the okra/
  • Add an acid when cooking okra. Citrus juice, tomato, vinegar and wine add flavor while limiting the slime.
  •  
    Up first for us: fried okra with ketchup!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Savory Tomato Pie Or Tart

    Tomatoes are the second most widely consumed vegetable in the U.S., after potatoes. That’s not all sliced tomatoes, mind you, but tomato sauce on pasta and pizza, tomatoes in ketchup and salad.

    According to the USDA, Americans consumed 31.1 pounds of tomatoes per capita in 2013, 59% of them in canned form (much of which, presumably, went into tomato sauce).

    Botanically speaking, the tomato is a fruit, but 122 years ago the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it, for tax reasons, a vegetable. (Ah, if the enlightened justices of today would just reverse that misguided decision. More about it is below.)

    Thanks to Restaurant Hospitality for passing along this recipe from Chef Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen in Austin, Texas.

    Serve it as you would a quiche: in small wedges as a first course, as a main with a salad.

    RECIPE: TOMATO BASIL PIE

    Ingredients

  • 3 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 prepared pie shell (purchased or homemade)
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut or torn into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/tomato basil pie jackskitchenAustinTx 230r

    This pie is filled with sweet summer tomatoes and three types of cheese.
    Photo courtesy Jack Allen’s Kitchen |
    Austin.

     

    Preparation

    1. SEASON the tomato slices lightly with salt and pepper, and allow them to drain on a paper towel (the salt draws out the water).

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Combine the cheeses in small bowl.

    3. LAYER the tomatoes in the pie shell. Place basil pieces on top of them. Sprinkle the cheese mixture on top of the basil.

    4. WHISK together the eggs and mayonnaise in small bowl, and pour evenly over the pie ingredients. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.
     

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/cherry tomato tart unpetitchefwordpress 230

    Here’s a showier concept—a cherry tomato tart with Gruyère and a crust of pâte brisée. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy UnPetitChef.Blogspot.com.

     

    WHY A TOMATO IS CALLED A VEGETABLE INSTEAD OF A FRUIT

    Who would think, when looking at the seriousness of the Supreme Court’s docket today, that in 1893 they would take up the argument of whether the tomato should be classified as a vegetable rather than a fruit. The eight or nine cases the Court can adjudicate each year cover Constitutional rights and federal law.

    United States Supreme Court decisions have shaped history. So how does the classification of the tomato fit in? It made it onto the docket because of a federal law regarding import taxes.
     
    It Was All About The Import Tax

    The Tariff Act of 1883 stipulated that a 10% import tax be paid on imported vegetables, but no tax was levied on imported fruit*. John Nix, an importer of tomatoes, filed the action against Edward L. Hedden, Collector of the Customs House for the Port of New York. Nix wanted to recover back taxes he had paid on tomatoes. His case asserted that he was importing a fruit, but being taxed as if it were a vegetable.

     
    *We’ve tried to research why fruit was exempt, but haven’t yet found the answer. Typically, it involves special interests.  

    How To Tell If It’s A Fruit

    Botanically speaking the tomato is a fruit. A fruit is the ripened ovary, formed together with seeds, from from the flowers of a plant. This how the tomato is formed.

    In easier terms, here’s how to think of a fruit:

  • Does it carry its seeds inside, like apples, citrus, melons, squash and tomatoes?
  • If the seeds are absent from the produce—as in beets, carrots, celery, herbs, lettuce and potatoes—it is botanically a vegetable.
  •  
    The issue is not how any particular culture chooses to consume a particular item of produce (sweet or savory, raw or cooked, etc.), but the botanical structure of the item. Thus, avocado is a fruit (it’s a tree fruit, like apples and pears) as are cucumbers (relatives to melons).

    With science on his side, vendor Nix sued customs collector Hedden, and the case made its way through the court system—all the way to the Supreme Court.
     
    But The Court Disagreed With Science

    In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that the Tariff Act of 1883 used the ordinary meaning of the words “fruit” and “vegetable,” as people thought of them, instead of the scientific, botanical use. The opinion delivered by Justice Gray stated:

    “Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.” (Source: caselaw.lp.findlaw.com)

    Wrong perspective, Justice Gray. The laws of nature should stand as is, not subjected to interpretation to fit cultural norms. Today, you can find tomato desserts (ice cream and sorbet, for starters). There are other crossovers. For example, rhubarb, a vegetable, is often prepared for dessert.

    And you should have had better clerks do your research: Beans and pea are legumes, not vegetables.

    Politically, the decision also meant more tax revenue for the United States. We guess we’re not going to get the Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

    From our friends at Good Eggs in San Francisco, here’s how to enjoy cherry tomatoes when the tomatoes are at their sweetest and the prices are at their lowest.

    Slow-roast them and all of that rich, summer tomato sweetness will get concentrated into each bite.

    Buy two or three times as many as you need this week—ideally, an assortment of red, orange and yellow. Set aside what you’ll use fresh. Then:

  • Slice the rest of the cherry tomatoes in half.
  • Place them cut-side up on a baking sheet or pan lined with a sheet of parchment. Slow roast at 225°F for three hours.
  • Let cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Cover with olive oil if desired.
  •  
    But before those two weeks are up, you can easily use them up:

  • In scrambled eggs and omelets
  • On plain yogurt, with oregano and/or fresh basil and dill
  • On sandwiches and burgers
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/slow roasted cherry tomatoes goodeggs 230

    It’s easy to slow-roast a batch of cherry tomatoes. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/dried tomatoes crostini mixedgreensblog 230r

    Crostini with sundried tomatoes and fromage blanc. Photo courtesy Mixed Greens Blog.

     
  • In green salads and protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna, etc.)
  • On pasta and pizza
  • On canapés
  • On crostini (see photo)
  • As a colorful polka-dot-like garnish for any savory food
  •  
    RECIPE: SUNDRIED TOMATO CROSTINI

    One of our favorite snacks, crostini with sundried cherry tomatoes, can be made in a minute (or as fast as it takes to toast the bread.

  • SPREAD toasted or grilled slices of baguette with goat cheese, other soft cheese, even Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • TOP with sundried cherry tomatoes in olive oil.
  • GARNISH with minced basil or a shake of oregano.
  •  
    It’s easy enough for snacking, and impressive enough to serve as an hors d’oeuvre or a first course.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Burger Salad & Salad Burger

    For years we have been enjoying the Burger Salad at Five Napkin Burger in New York City. It’s evolved over time, but initially consisted of a big bowl of beautifully arranged baby greens and colorful veggie complements, in a perfect vinaigrette. Atop was a plump burger: beef, salmon, turkey, veggie or a solid piece of grilled tuna.

    We love good bread and can [alas] eat loaves of it. But burger buns—even when heavily seeded or made of brioche—rarely fall into that group. And they get soggy.

    So when Five Napkin Burger presented a menu of burger salads in addition to conventional burgers, we tried a salad and were hooked. We were never a neat burger eater, so enjoyed the bonuses: no meat juices or ketchup dripping onto us when we raised the burger to our mouth.

    While it could be a calorie- and carb-cutting alternative for some, let us hasten to say that we enjoy our burger salad along with the establishment’s excellent onion rings, sweet potato fries, and a beer.

    Today’s tip is not just a burger salad, but for those who still want their bun, a salad burger (below).

       

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    Our favorite way to enjoy a burger this burger salad from Five Napkin Burger. Photo courtesy Five Napkin Burger | NYC.

     
    HOW TO CREATE A GREAT BURGER SALAD RECIPE

    To start, think of your favorite salad and assemble the ingredients. Is it spinach salad? Cobb salad? Chopped salad? Salade Niçoise? Spicy greens (arugula, radish, watercress)? Tortilla salad?

    Create your burger salad from those ingredients; and if the original salad contained chicken, turkey or other meat, consider adding small amounts of them—a mixed grill burger salad, as it were.

    You can make a bacon cheeseburger salad or a diet burger burger salad. You can add seeds for more nutrition. And there are ways to cut calories. But here’s a list of options for starters:

     
    BASIC SALAD INGREDIENTS

  • Lettuce: mixed greens (we love to add arugula and cress, but have peaked on kale)
  • Salad veggies: bell pepper, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley), radishes
  • Tomatoes: cherry, grape, sliced, sundried—or substitute pimento (roasted red pepper)
  • Onions: green (scallions), red, sweet
  •  
    SALAD ADD-ONS

  • Cheese: crumbled, cubed, julienned, shaved ribbons or shredded
  • Extra veggies: broccoli florets, cauliflower, chiles, fennel, green beans, mushrooms—raw, pickled, roasted or steamed
  • Fruits: berries, dried fruit, mandarin or orange segments, sliced stone fruit, apples or pears
  • Luxury veggies: artichoke hearts, avocado, endive, hearts of palm, radicchio, water chestnuts
  • Seasonal veggies: for example, asparagus and green peas in spring; corn, yellow squash and zucchini in summer
  • Proteins: bacon, beans or legumes (chickpeas, lentils), ham, hard-boiled eggs, tofu/seitan, seafood (we recently created a modern surf and turf burger salad with grilled shrimp), slices or cubes of poultry, salami, sausage, etc.
  • Starch: boiled potatoes, cooked grains, small pasta shapes
  • Garnishes: anchovies, croutons, nuts, olives, peppadews, pepperoncini, pickles, seeds (chia, flax, pepita/pumpkin, sunflower, toasted sesame), sprouts
  •  
    SALAD DRESSING

    A burger salad begs for a delicious vinaigrette. Here’s our template for making a vinaigrette recipe you’ll love.

  • Some people are calorie and fat counters. If that’s you, go for a dressing of plain balsamic vinegar (conventional or white balsamic). It makes a delicious dressing with just 14 calories per tablespoon.
  • Another direction is to use lemon, lime or yuzu juice. Yuzu is imported from Japan and pricey, but worth it.
  • Low-calorie salsa also works, plain or mixed with a bit of salad oil. For a creamy dressing, mix salsa with plain Greek yogurt.
  •  
    However, before you avoid salad oil, ask any nutritionist, the FDA or the American Heart Association: Two tablespoons daily of a heart-healthy oil are important for general health and specific conditions*. The recommended oils are monounsaturated, and include avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil.

    It’s time to stop looking old-school at “calories” and “fat”—an old school way of looking at diet—and focus your choices on health and nutrition.
     

     

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    Plan B: Top your burger with a salad.
    Photo courtesy Umami Burger | Hudson
    Eats.

     

    THE SALAD BURGER

    Instead of topping salad with a burger, you can top a burger with salad.

    Far more than a bunless burger or “diet burger”—the type served by our local diner and others, which plates a burger patty with lettuce, tomato, onion and a scoop of cottage cheese—a salad burger tops your burger with a flavorful salad.

    As you can see in the photo, it can be simple mixed greens, very lightly dressed. Since the burger is America’s favorite food, if you’ve been meaning to add more salad to your diet, here’s your chance.
     
    *A BIG FOOTNOTE ON HEALTHY FATS

    Monounsaturated fats deliver many health benefits, including:

  • Decreased risk for breast cancer.
  • Reduced cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of monounsaturated fats to improve one’s blood lipid profile.
  • Lower risk for heart disease and stroke. The FDA recommends that .8 ounce daily—about 2 tablespoons—may “possibly prevent coronary disease.”
  • Weight loss, when switching to monounsaturated fat from polyunsaturated fats (corn oil, safflower oil and soybean oil, among others) and saturated fats (largely from animal products: meat, dairy, eggs).
  • Less severe pain and less stiffness for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. Diet plays a role in reducing the pain and stiffness of those who already have rheumatoid arthritis.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tomatillos

    The tomatillo, like the tomato, is an edible berry—it’s the size of cherry tomatoes. (Trivia: the original tomatoes were the size of cherry tomatoes, and were developed into larger sizes).

    Round and tart, it is erroneously thought of as a green tomato; and is called a husk tomato, a Mexican tomato and other names.

    While both tomatoes and tomatillos originated in Latin America (the tomato in Peru and the tomatillo in Central America), they are second cousins. They share a botanical family, Solanaceae (the Nightshade family), but belong to different genuses.

  • The tomato’s genus and species is Solanum lycopersicum. The tomatillo is Physalis ixocarpa, and is closely related to the smaller, sweeter cape gooseberry.
  • Like the orange-colored gooseberry, the tomatillo is surrounded by a papery husk.
  • The ripe tomatillo can be green, purple, red or yellow.
  •  
    Tomatillos were a staple of Maya and Aztec cuisines. They are still enjoyed today in chili, enchiladas, gazpacho, guacamole, salsa and tostadas, among other specialties.

       

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    Fresh tomatillos in their papery husks. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     
    But, you can create a fusion dish, adding it to anything that begs for a tart accent and green color. We just finished the last bite of a tomatillo quiche for breakfast.
     
    COOKING WITH TOMATILLOS

    It’s very easy to cook with tomatillos: They don’t need to be peeled or seeded. Their texture is firm when raw, but soften when cooked.

    You can incorporate tomatillos in different ways:

  • Raw, they add a fresh, citrus-like flavor to sauces.
  • Blanched, they are more mellow. Boil in water for five minutes or until soft. Drain and crush or purée.
  • Fire roasted under the broiler or over an open flame, the charred skins will give sauces a smoky flavor.
  • Dry roast them for an earthy, nutty flavor. Place the tomatillos in a cast iron or other heavy pan; roast over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  •  
    Just remember to remove the husk and rinse the berry before using tomatillos.

     

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    One of the easiest ways to enjoy tomatillos: Make salsa verde. Poto courtesy DomenicaCooks.com.

     

    WHERE TO START?

  • Start with breakfast: Add tomatillos to omelets, scrambled eggs or Huevos Rancheros; or grill or sauté them and serve as a side with the eggs.
  • Make salsa verde as a condiment for eggs or anything else: fish and seafood, meat and poultry, rice and grains, sandwiches, vegetables.
  • Make corn salad or salsa or guacamole
  • Add them to any Tex-Mex dish.
  • Slice them as a soup garnish.
  • Use them as a drink garnish for Bloody Marys and Margaritas.
  •  

    RECIPE: SALSA VERDE

    For an easy salsa verde, remove the papery tomatillo husks and roast the tomatillos for a few minutes. Then, blend with lime, cilantro and green chiles to taste.

    You can use salsa verde on just about any savory dish, and of as a snack with chips raw vegetables. Turn it into a creamy dip with a bit of sour cream or plain yogurt.

     
    MORE TOMATILLO RECIPES

  • Ají Sauce, a favorite hot sauce in Ecuador and Peru
  • Enchiladas Suizas
  • Gazpacho Verde
  • Salsa
  • Tomatillo Guacamole
  • Tomatillo Guacamole With Roasted Corn
  • Tostadas
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: American Bruschetta & Beet Swath

    This beautiful plate from Gardenia restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village is a composition of grilled mackerel, butternut squash and endive, garnished with baby greens dressed in vinaigrette and a dollop of pesto.

    But what really stood out to us is what we’ve named “American bruschetta,” a square of crustless white toast, topped with pickled vegetables, a gherkin and an herb leaf tossed in vinaigrette (shown on the bottom left of the plate).

    If this is “American bruschetta,” what’s Italian bruschetta? Here’s the scoop, including the difference between bruschetta and crostini. (NOTE: Pronounce it broo-skett-a, not broo-shett-a.)

    You don’t need a baguette or other crusty loaf that serves as the foundation of classic bruschetta.

  • Toast anything—from ordinary white bread to raisin walnut bread.
  • Top it with anything that complements the entrée. Look in your fridge, pantry, freezer.
  • Use up leftovers.
  • Have fun with your creation.
  •  
    RECIPE: AMERICAN BRUSCHETTA

    Ingredients

       

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    Check out the crustless toast topped with veggies. This bruschetta, along with the, orange squash and swath of burgundy beet purée, add vibrant color to the plate. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.

  • Cheese: goat cheese, crème fraîche, fromage blanc or other mild cheese on raisin bread or walnut bread (or a raisin-walnut-semolina combination)
  • Condiments: chutney, compound butter, olives
  • Fish: anchovies, caviar/roe, sardines, shellfish
  • Meat: bacon, sausage, other charcuterie
  • Spreads: egg salad, guacamole, Middle Eastern (babaganoush, hummus, tzatziki, etc.), spreadable pâté, tapenade, pimento cheese or other cheese spread
  • Vegetables: fresh (baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or watercress are easy), pickled, puréed cooked vegetables
  • Whatever you have at hand (yesterday we used leftover creamy polenta garnished with sliced olives and pimento
  •  
    Plus

  • Butter, mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, vinaigrette, yogurt or other binder as needed, to anchor dry ingredients to the bread
  • Garnishes: sliced chiles, herbs, gherkins, spices, etc.
  •  

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    Duck breast with carrot purée. Photo courtesy CopperBox.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. ASSEMBLE the ingredients. Grill or toast the bread (in a toaster or under the broiler). Remove the crusts as desired.

    2. SPREAD a binder, if necessary, on the bread.

    3. TOP with the featured ingredients and serve.
     
     
    RECIPE: HOW TO MAKE A SWATH OF VEGETABLE OR FRUIT PURÉE

    Painted swaths of fruit or vegetable purée are clever ways to add color to a plate. Use them along with entrées that are beige, brown or white—which includes every protein we can think of except crab, shrimp and lobster (fish, meat, poultry, seitan, tofu).

    That also goes for most standard starches: beans, potatoes, noodles, white and brown rice and most other grains.

    Even if you have another bright color on the plate—butternut squash, carrots, corn, green beans, etc.—you can round out the plate with a swath of a different color.

    No time to cook vegetables for your color splash? Canned beets and carrots work well: Just drain and purée.

     
    Ingredients

  • Bright colored fruit or vegetable—green, orange, red, yellow
  • Seasonings to taste—anything from salt and pepper to curry, garlic, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE and seasonthe cooked vegetable.

    2. USE a silicon basting brush to paint a swath of purée across the plate.

      

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