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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/Herbs

RECIPE: Crispy Fried Cauliflower (Lashooni Gobi)

Junoon is one of the most popular Indian restaurants among gourmand New Yorkers. The name, which means passion, interprets Indian cuisine with a modern spin. The space is large and comfortable, unusual for New York City. And the food: Well, it inspires passion.

While many American home cooks are wary of taking on Indian cuisine without the benefit of a class or an expert friend, here’s one of Junoon’s dishes that’s easy to make. The Indian name is Lahsooni Gobi, but Crispy Fried Cauliflower sounds so much more tempting.

We love cauliflower in all its forms, plain and fancy. But here, lightly battered and tossed in a tomato garlic sauce, this hearty appetizer or side will make even those who don’t typically crave cauliflower want more.

No eggs are used in the batter because in India, eggs are not part of a vegetarian diet (this recipe is actually vegan). This recipe is also gluten-free. Chef Vikas Khanna notes, “I use rice flour here, not just for its superior crisping quality but also for people who are gluten sensitive. It’s a warm and homey dish and can easily be adjusted in terms of heat and garlic to suit anyone’s palate.”

 

crispy-fried-cauliflower-junoon-worleygig-ps-230

Junoon’s delicious Crispy Fried Cauliflower. Photo courtesy Worleygig.

 

RECIPE: LAHSOONI GOBI, CRISPY CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil for frying, plus 2 tablespoons to make the sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup tomato purée
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Two pinches salt
  • Two pinches sugar
  • Two pinches ketjiap spice (recipe below)
  • Garnish: 2 sprigs cilantro
  •  

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn an everyday cauliflower into something special. Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SPRINKLE 2 teaspoons of sea salt evenly over the cauliflower and let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 350°F: Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

    3. ADD the tomato purée, water, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and ketjiap spice; mix well with a whisk until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary just before serving.

    4. PREPARE the batter by quickly blending the rice flour and water together in a large bowl. Coat the florets in the batter by placing all of the florets in the bowl. Toss gently and then carefully drop the florets into the hot oil. Fry the cauliflower until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    5. BRING the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and then add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir and toss gently to coat the cauliflower with the sauce until well combined. Serve the cauliflower in a bowl garnished with cilantro.

     

    KETJIAP SPICE MIX

    Ketijap is a traditional Indonesian spice mix used for the many different sauces that are loosely called cat-siop and ketjiap (and other spellings*). A pinch or two livens up soups and sauces. You can keep the spice tightly covered in a cool, dark place for up to two months.

  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon mace flakes†
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, preferably tellicherry
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY TOAST the whole spices in a small heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat for about one minute.

    2. COOL, then grind to a fine powder with the cinnamon in a spice grinder.
     
    *Yes, this is the origin of our word catsup/ketchup, although our familiar tomato ketchup was a New World invention. Here’s the history of ketchup.

    †It can be difficult to find mace flakes, also called mace blades, in consumer markets. Use ground mace instead.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Romanesco, Neither Broccoli Nor Cauliflower

    Isn’t it beautiful?

    Romanesco looks like it’s been sculpted by an artist. It’s a member of the cruciferous vegetables family (Brassicaceae) that includes broccoli and cauliflower, among others. If it seems exotic, that’s because we rarely find it in U.S. markets. But romanesco grown in California is in season now.

    In the U.S., it’s also called broccoflower, Roman broccoli, romanesco broccoli, romanesque cabbage and romanesque cauliflower. So is it broccoli or cauliflower? Actually, it’s neither.

    Remember high school botany taxonomy: kingdom, order, family, genus, species and sometimes, subspecies? The Brassica genus is unusual in that instead of individual species, it bundles its members into one species. Thus, the species Brassica oleracea includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe) and turnips. What might be called a subspecies elsewhere are known here as cultivars, and don’t have a separate botanical name.*

    So the answer is: romanesco is neither broccoli nor cauliflower; it is its own cultivar. While you’ll see it called broccoli or cauliflower, you now know better.

       

    romanesco-melissas-230sq

    If you can’t find it locally, order romanesco online as a special treat. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    Botanists believe that Italian farmers in the 16th century developed romanesco through cross-breeding (it was initially called broccolo romanesco). As with cauliflower or broccoli, the pointy “florets” (often called fractals after fractal art) that comprise the head are of varying sizes. They are actually individual buds of the plant’s flower.

    Romanesco tastes more like cauliflower, with a nutty, earthy flavor nuance and a crunchier texture. It is about the same size of a regular head of cauliflower. There is also a smaller variety, which is about half the size. The pale green shade keeps its color through cooking.

    Look in your farmers markets or specialty produce stores; the crops from California are in. You can treat yourself or send a gift from Melissas.com.

     

    romanesco-simplymcghie.blogspot-230r

    It’s almost to pretty to cut! Enjoy it as a centerpiece for a day or two. Photo courtesy SimplyMcGhie.Blogspot.com.

     

    HOW TO SERVE ROMANESCO

    Romanesco can be served raw, lightly cooked, or cooked through, and can be substituted in any recipe calling for cauliflower or broccoli. It’s a shame to destroy the architecture by dicing or puréeing: We wouldn’t want to turn it into soup, for example, when we could use regular cauliflower. Instead, consider:

  • Crudités
  • Lightly steamed (recipe)
  • Marinated
  • Mixed vegetable salads (with mixed greens or other vegetables)
  • Roasted
  • Sautéed (here’s an easy recipe with garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese)
  •  
    RECIPE: ROMANESCO SALAD

    This recipe is from Mariquita Farm in Watsonville, California, which grows romanesco.

     
    Ingredients

  • 1 head romanesco
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata or other favorite olive, pitted and sliced
  • Capers, 1 tablespoon per 4 cups of florets
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion or to taste: green onion, red onion, shallot
  • Fresh herbs, chopped (basil, cilantro and/or parsley are our favorites here)
  • Lemon juice vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: shaved Parmesan or crumbled Gorgonzola
  • Optional garnish: toasted sunflower seeds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY STEAM the florets to desired consistency. While you can use them raw, a blanching or light steaming makes the texture more uniform with the other ingredients.

    2. TOSS with the other ingredients and the vinaigrette, taking care not to damage the pointy “fractals.” Serve chilled or at room temperature.

     

    RECIPE: LEMON VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the lemon juice, zest, mustard, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended.

    2. TASTE and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Drizzle over the salad and toss to coat thoroughly.
     
    WHY ARE CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES SO GOOD FOR YOU?

    The Brassicaceae family of vegetables contains powerful antioxidants that prevent the build-up of free radicals, atoms with unpaired electrons in the body that are destructive, engendering disease.

    Along with their nutritional elements, cruciferous vegetables aid with alkalinization (making the body less acidic), bone health, cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction and detoxification (neutralization and elimination of unwanted contaminants). The high fiber content aids in digestion, heart health, lowering blood sugar, reducing allergy reactions and inflammation, and more.

     
    *Other members of Brassicaceae belong to a different genus. These include arugula, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, cress, daikon, horseradish, mizuna, radish, rutabaga, tatsoi and wasabi.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Savory Squash Cobbler With Cheddar Chive Biscuits

    squash-cobbler-goboldwbutter-230r

    The cobbler biscuits look familiar, but
    underneath is a savory vegetable blend
    instead of sweet fruit. Photo courtesy Go
    Bold With Butter.

     

    We never even thought of a savory cobbler before seeing this recipe from Taylor Takes a Taste on GoBoldWith Butter.com.

    A cobbler is a fruit dish cooked in a casserole. Shortcake batter or biscuit dough is dropped onto the fruit before baking. The dish got its name because the lumps of cooked dough resembled cobblestones.

    So it’s a short leap to substitute vegetables for the fruit and have a delicious savory cobbler.

    You don’t have to wait for the warm weather to make this Summer Squash Cobbler. It makes a great side dish for a weekday family meal or a large gathering. You can add optional chicken, ham, tofu or other protein cubes.

    In the original recipe, zucchini, yellow squash, and sweet summer corn are sautéed with onions and tossed with Parmesan cheese. You can substitute winter vegetables in the off season.

    This delicious filling is then topped with a layer of buttery cheddar and chive biscuits. Any leftovers are delicious the next day.

    For this recipe, prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 1 hour, 10 minutes

     
    RECIPE: SUMMER SQUASH COBBLER

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

    For The Squash Mixture

  • 5 cups chopped zucchini (bite size pieces)
  • 5 cups chopped yellow squash (bite size pieces)
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (you can substitute something else when corn is not in season—edamame, lima beans, peas, etc.)
  • 3/4 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for casserole pan
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Optional: 2 cups cubed ham or other protein
  •  
    For The Biscuits

  • 4 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups buttermilk
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°degrees. Butter a 9×13 casserole dish. Set aside.

    2. MELT melt 4 tablespoons of butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft. Raise heat to medium high and add zucchini and yellow squash. Stirring constantly, cook squash for 5 minutes.

    2. ADD corn, chicken stock, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook vegetables, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from heat and let them cool to room temperature. While vegetables are cooling…

    3. MAKE the biscuit dough. Place the self-rising flour in large bowl. Add the cayenne pepper. Stir until flour mixture is well blended. Cut cold butter into 16 pieces and add to flour mixture. Using pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal. Add grated cheese and chives to flour mixture and stir until well mixed.

    4. MAKE a well in the center of the flour. Add 1-1/2 cups of buttermilk and pull the flour from sides of bowl toward the center. Stir until dough starts to form. If the mixture seems too dry, add additional buttermilk.

     

    camouflage-zucchini-burpee-basket-230

    Pretty camouflage zucchini. The seeds are available from Burpee.com. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    5. KNEAD the dough in the bowl for 2 or 3 turns until a ball forms. Remove dough from bowl and place on floured surface. Pat dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/2-inch thick. Let the dough rest for a moment while preparing cobbler filling.

    6. MIX the Parmesan cheese and flour together in small bowl. Add the Parmesan mixture to the cooled squash mixture and stir to blend. Empty the squash filling into prepared casserole pan, smoothing into even layer.

    7. CUT the biscuit dough into circles. Place the biscuits on surface of squash so that edges of biscuits are just touching each other.

    8. BAKE the cobbler at 400°F for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes, until squash is soft. Cover the top of the cobbler with foil if the biscuits begin to brown too much.

    9. REMOVE the casserole from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tuna Salad With Poached Egg & Vinaigrette

    We love Ozery Breads, and as we were checking out recipes on the company’s website we came across this tasty idea: Tuna Salad With Poached Egg.

    Hard boiled eggs are included in various salads—Chef Salad, Cobb Salad and Spinach Salad, for example—and chopped into egg, potato and tuna salads. So why not experiment with a poached egg, with a runny yolk that can augment the dressing?

    At Ozery, they enjoy this salad with their Zero Low Low Light Rye OneBun.

    Optional avocado slices also contribute to the richness of the dish.

    RECIPE: TUNA SALAD WITH POACHED EGG

    Ingredients

  • Mixed salad greens
  • 1 egg per person
  • Tuna
  • Olive oil vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Optional: avocado slices
  • Garnish: sunflower seeds
  • Bread of choice for toast
  •    

    tuna-salad-poached-egg-ozery-230

    A new way to enjoy salad: with tuna and a poached egg. Photo courtesy Ozery.

     

    Preparation

    1. FILL a larage pan with water and a pinch of salt, and bring it to a light simmer over a medium heat. Crack the egg and gently float it into the water. Cook for about 3-4 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. While the egg poaches…

    2 TOAST the bread. Cut into 4 pieces.

    3. PLACE the greens on a plate and drizzle with the dressing. Top with avocado, tuna and poached egg. Sprinkle with sunflowers seeds and season with fresh-ground pepper.

     

    salad-vinaigrette-230

    A vinaigrette will separate easily. To keep it emulsified, whirl it in the blender. Photo by Elena Thewise | ISP.

     

    BASIC VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    Recently, a dinner guest asked us the “secret” to making a good vinaigrette. It’s simple: Good ingredients make good vinaigrettes. Use the best olive oil and vinegar in the right proportions (3:1) with a bit of seasoning.

    But we like more elaborate flavors in our vinaigrettes. We have an entire shelf of oils and vinegars. In the vinegar category: balsamic, champagne, fruit, herb, malt, red and white wine, rice, sherry and white balsamic. In the oil category: different EVOOS with different flavor profiles (grassy, herbal, mild, peppery and infused—with basil, rosemary, chile, etc.), flavored avocado oils, sesame and roasted nut oils (almond, pecan, pistachio, walnut).

    We do have canola and grapeseed oils, but we don’t use them in salad dressing—not enough flavor.

    When we’re ready to make a vinaigrette, we consider the main course and pick a complementary oil and vinegar. There’s no right or wrong answer as long as you don’t pair heavily-flavored oils and vinegars with delicate dishes. For example, you wouldn’t want a sesame oil vinaigrette with an omelet.

    Which brings up another point: There are different ways to manufacture oil. You have to know what you’re buying.

     
    Seeking walnut oil for a holiday vinaigrette—it delivers a rich, nutty, toasty flavor—we recently purchased a bottle made by International Oils. We were looking for a French import, but it was the only walnut oil on the shelf at Fairway. (Boo, Fairway!) When we got it home, it was bland, with scarcely any walnut flavor.

    Most health food store oils are produced in this style. If you want the true flavor, you need a traditionally produced oil, either imported or from La Tourangelle, a California producer and a NIBBLE Top Pick.

    A final tip: If you’re using a strongly-flavored oil or vinegar, you can omit the mustard and shallot. However, we enjoy complex layerings of flavor, so tend to keep them.

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine, other)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot or capers
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together in a small bowl the vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper and sugar.

    2. SLOWLY whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Or, if you’re not going to dress the salad immediately, do a more intense emulsification: Shake the ingredients vigorously in a jar; or better, whirl them in a blender or use an immersion blender (an Aerolatte milk frother works great).

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Elvis Burger

    January 8th marks the birthday of “The King,” Elvis Presley. Today he’d have been 80 years old.

    Loyal fans celebrate the day with Elvis’s favorite sandwich: a fried peanut butter sandwich with sliced bananas and bacon. (The recipe: Make a PB sandwich on white bread, with sliced bananas and fried bacon. Brush the outsides with softened butter and fry until golden brown.)

    Elvis was a big cheeseburger fan, too, so here’s an Elvis Cheeseburger recipe.

    But Helen Graves of FoodStories.com put her own spin on an “Elvis Burger”, topping a burger with bacon and peanut butter. She contributed the recipe to the wealth of PB recipes on ILovePeanutButter.com.

    Unlike the Elvis Sandwich, banana slices don’t work here. But a side of fried plantains, related to bananas and substituting for French fries, works just fine. See the recipe below.

    RECIPE: ELVIS BURGER

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound grams ground beef
  • 8 slices smoked bacon
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili flakes
  • 4 tablespoons Old Fashioned Smooth peanut butter
  • ¼ iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 burger buns
  •    

    Peanut-Butter-Elvis-Burger-helengraves-foodstories-230

    The Elvis Burger, with bacon and peanut butter. Photo courtesy Helen Graves | Food Stories.

     

    Preparation

    1. DIVIDE the ground beef into 4 equally sized balls, then flatten into patties and set aside. Grill the bacon rasher until crisp, then chop into smallish pieces and set aside.

    2. HEAT a pan until very hot. Season the burger patties with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes each side, or to taste. While the burgers are cooking…

    3. MAKEe the peanut butter sauce by heating a tablespoon of oil in a pan and gently softening the ginger and garlic for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add the chipotle flakes for a further minute, then take the pan off the heat and add the peanut butter, along with a tablespoon of hot water (don’t use cold water). Mix well. When the burgers and sauce are ready…

    4. PLACE some iceberg lettuce on each bun, followed by some onion, a burger, then some of the peanut butter sauce. Top with crispy bacon pieces and the top half of the bun. Eat immediately.

    See more prep photos at ILovePeanutButter.com.

     

    Peanut-Butter-Elvis-Burger-toppings-helengraves-foodstories-230

    The Elvis Burger, topless. Photo courtesy Helen Graves | Food Stories.

     

    RECIPE: FRIED PLANTAINS

    Plantains are cousins of bananas, a staple in most Latin American cuisines. Plantains are larger and green; they don’t ripen to yellow. They are firm and served cooked like a vegetable, not eaten as a raw fruit.

    Ingredients

  • Fresh plantains
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.

     
    2. PEEL the plantains and cut them into round slices (coins) or vertical slices (slice in half lengthwise and then into halves again to desired thickness). halves lengthwise into thin pieces.

    3. FRY the pieces until browned and tender. Drain excess oil on paper towels. Season with salt as desired.
     
    Here’s a recipe for tostones, double-fried plantains that are popular in Puerto Rico.

     
    MORE ELVIS TRIBUTE DISHES

  • Elvis Presley Birthday Sundae Recipe
  • Elvis Cheeseburger Recipe
  • Peanut Butter Banana Cake Recipe
  • Peanut Butter & Banana Quesadilla Recipe
  •  
    How about an Elvis portrait made from toast?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Store Fruits & Vegetables

    berries-bowl-230

    Berries are fragile. Don’t buy them unless
    you plan to eat them within two days. Photo
    courtesy California Strawberry Commission.

     

    We adapted this article from the original on Vegetarian Times because we’re guilty of throwing out a lot of spoiled produce.

    But we’re no different from the rest of America. Back in 2002, researchers at the University of Arizona, working with the United States Department of Agriculture, spent a year tracking families’ food-use habits.

    What they discovered: The average family tossed out 470 pounds of spoiled food per year, about $600 worth, representing some 14% of the food brought into the home. Nationally, we dump $43 billion worth of food every year.

    It seems that intentions were good, because families bought lots of fresh fruit and produce. But every day, researches discovered, these households discarded more than half a pound of fruits and vegetables that had gone bad. The spoiled food represented a staggering one-fourth of all the produce purchased.

    So how can you waste less produce, and equally as importantly, consume the nourishment that gets tossed along with the money spent?

    For starters, you could buy only what you need for a day or so, and then be sure to eat it. Put it front and center on the refrigerator shelf.

    But many of us are too busy to shop that often, so Plan B is: Take better care when you buy and store produce. Here’s what to do:

     

    BE AWARE OF ETHYLENE

    Be aware that more than a few fruits give off high levels of ethylene gas, an odorless, colorless gas that speeds the ripening and decay of other, ethylene-sensitive, produce. That’s why you can quickly ripen ethylene-sensitive fruits, like stone fruits, by enclosing them in a paper bag with an ethylene-generating fruit like an apple or a banana. Here’s how to divide and conquer:

  • Ethylene Generators/Refrigerate The Produce: apples, apricots, cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, kiwi, mangoes
  • Ethylene Generators/Don’t Refrigerate The Produce: avocados, bananas (unripe), nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes
  • Ethylene Sensitive/Keep Away From Ethylene Generators: asparagus, bananas (ripe), berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce/leafy greens, parsley, peas, peppers, squash, summer squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon
  •  

    For longer life:

  • Keep the ethylene-producing fruits apart from ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep the produce whole; don’t even remove the stem of an apple until you’re ready to eat it. As soon as you damage the integrity of the fruit or vegetable, create an environment where microorganisms start to grow.
  • Never refrigerate potatoes, onions, winter squash or garlic. Keep them in a cool, dark, place, but separate them so their flavors and smells don’t migrate. They can keep up to a month or more.
  • Store cold-sensitive fruits and vegetables on the counter; they’ll lose flavor and moisture in the fridge. These include garlic, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. The first three should be stored in cool, dark places.
  • The worst thing to do is to seal fruits and vegetables in an airtight bag. It stops their respiration—yes, produce does breathe—suffocating them and speeding up decay.
  • Check the vegetable bins for mold and decay. Mold proliferates rapidly and will contaminate other produce.
  • Consider an ozone-generator like BerryBreeze, which reduces the ethylene.
  •  

    apple-basket-230

    Apples have great staying power, especially when refrigerated. Stock up; but if the apples are turning soft, turn them into baked apples or compote. Photo courtesy USA Apple.

     
    We use a Berry Breeze in the fridge, and also place an ethylene gas guardian (E.E.G., also called an ethylene gas absorber) in the produce crisper drawers. These products actually absorb ethylene. Check out Bluapple and ExtraLife.

    There are also produce bags are also on the market, such as those by Debbie Meyer Evert-Fresh Green Bags and BioFresh, which absorb ethylene and support respiration.
     
    SHOPPING TIPS

  • If you’ll be making several stops between the market and kitchen, get a cooler for your car. When you get home, put the produce into the fridge as soon as possible.
  • Shop farmers markets early in the day. Just-harvested greens wilt rapidly once they’ve been in the sun for a few hours.
     
    EATING TIPS

  • Eat more perishable items first: Berries last only a few days, oranges can last for months. Cucumbers will remain fresh longer than leafy greens. Before you put the item in your shopping cart, think of its longevity and when you will consume it.
  • If your produce has peaked and you still haven’t eaten it, quickly cook it. Make fruit compote or soup, and toss it into the freezer.
  • Produce with the best staying power: apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, onions, potatoes, winter squash.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Sugar Snap Pea & Tuna Salad

    This “anytime salad” is fresh, crisp and light, thanks to an ingredient we don’t use often enough: sugar snap peas.

    Fresh sugar snap peas are available almost year-round. We often buy them for a crudité platter, but don’t think to add them to salads.

    This recipe is adapted from a tuna-less version at Robin’s Restaurant in Cambria, California, a seaside village in San Luis Obispo County. (All of the food looks great!)

    RECIPE: FRESH SNAP PEA & TUNA SALAD

    Ingredients For 8-10 Side Salad Servings

  • 3 cups fresh sugar snap peas
  • 2 cans tuna, drained and flaked
  • Optional: 1 ball fresh mozzarella*, shredded
  • 1/3 cup roasted red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 1 large sweet onion (like Vidalia), thinly sliced
  • 3/4 tablespoon capers
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  •    

    snap-pea-salad-robinsrestaurant-230r

    Use more snap peas in your salads! Photo courtesy Robin’s Restaurant.

     
    Preparation

    1. TOSS all ingredients together and serve. It doesn’t get any easier than this!

     
    *You can substitute shredded white Cheddar or crumbled goat cheese. Instead of cheese, substitute chicken, shrimp or other seafood.

     

    super-sugar-snap-burpee-230

    Sugar snap peas. Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     

    WHAT ARE SUGAR SNAP PEAS?

    Popular in Asian stir-fries, sugar snap peas, called snap peas for short, are a relative of the familiar, everyday English peas, also known as garden peas or green peas.

    Both are pod peas, but English peas are removed from the pod; the pod of sugar snap peas is less fibrous, and edible when young. Mature snap pea pods may need to be “stringed,” removing the membranous string that running along the top of the pod from base to tip.

    Sugar snap peas are a hybrid, developed in the 1970s by crossing Chinese snow peas with a mutant shell pea plant. This was done by Dr. Calvin Lamborn and Dr. M.C. Parker of Twin Falls, Idaho. Thanks, gents: We love sugar snap peas! [Source]

    When purchasing, look for pods that are firm and crisp. They shouldn’t bend but should snap (hence the name). Don’t worry about any white scarring on the pod; it doesn’t affect the flavor, and depending on your point of view, adds visual interest.

     

    To store: refrigerate the peas in a tightly sealed plastic bag. They’ll last for four or five days.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Kale Sprouts

    kale-sprouts-melissas-230

    Kale sprouts: a new hybrid. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    Just when you thought it couldn’t get trendier, there’s a new kale in town: kale sprouts, grown in California and available year-round.

    A hybrid cross of Russian red kale and Brussels sprouts, kale sprouts look like a very tiny head of kale, much smaller than baby kale.

    Kale sprouts—also known as lollipop sprouts or lollipop kale—are harvested when the first leaves of the plant have developed around a tiny, compact central head. This small, leafy delicacy has the same striking coloring as Red Russian Kale; silvery-green to blue-gray leaves with pronounced crimson veins.

    Kale sprouts have a sweet peppery flavor and crispy fresh texture. Use them as a tasty garnish for meat entrées, mixed with spring greens in a salad, or sautéd lightly with mushrooms and garlic.

     
    Choose sprouts that show no wilting, have a firm texture and are bright in color. If kept refrigerated, these durable little leaves with stay fresh for five days.

    Send them as a gift to your favorite kale lover. You can buy three packages for $22.95 at Melissas.com.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Lettuce Wraps

    We love to start the new year with lettuce wraps instead of bread-based sandwiches.

  • If you use the right lettuce—a soft variety like butter or bibb lettuce—you can roll the filling like a burrito.
  • If you prefer a crunchier lettuce like romaine, you can fill the leaves boat-style; or you can create a lettuce cup and serve the filling salad-style.
  •  
    Here are two variations on a similar recipe—Asian turkey wraps—from Jennie-O, a specialist in turkey products from ground to whole to burgers and bacon.

    You can substitute your meat of choice (it’s a great way to use up leftovers) or create vegetarian versions.

    The first recipe is simpler in flavor profile, and uses ground turkey cooked from scratch. The second recipe is more complex in flavor, and uses leftover roast turkey.

    RECIPE: CHINESE LETTUCE WRAPS

  • 1 package (20 ounces) lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ cup sweet and spicy hot pepper sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 12 butter lettuce leaves
  •    

    thai-turkey-lettuce-wraps-jennie-o-230

    Chinese lettuce wraps with turkey, flavored with hoisin sauce, soy sauce and hot sauce. Photo courtesy Jennie-O.

     
    *Tabasco makes a sweet and spicy version of its original hot sauce. It’s much milder than original Tabasco: (100-600 on the Scoville Heat Scale as opposed to 2500-5000 for original Tabasco. There are other brands of “sweet heat,” including Sweet Sunshine, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.
     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the turkey as specified on the package. (Always cook turkey to well-done, 165°F, as measured by a meat thermometer.)

    1. HEAT the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes or until they begin to brown. Mix in the turkey, sweet and spicy pepper sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and cucumber. Heat through.

    3. MAKE the wraps: Spoon the turkey mixture onto lettuce leaves and the wrap leaves around filling.

     

    thai-turkey-lettuce-wraps-cup-jennie-o-230

    Turkey wraps with the filling spooned into a lettuce cup, salad style. Photo courtesy Jennie-O.

     

    RECIPE: THAI LETTUCE WRAPS

    This recipe uses leftover cooked turkey, although you can cook raw, ground turkey as in the previous recipe. There are more ingredients, resulting in more authentic, complex flavors.

    The reason this is a “Thai” wrap instead of a “Chinese” wrap is the Thai cuisine ingredients and seasonings: lime juice, grated ginger, fresh mint and cilantro, shredded carrots, fish sauce and sweet chili sauce.

    Prep time is less than 15 minutes; total time is less than 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2½ cups shredded leftover cooked turkey
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (here’s an easy recipe if you don’t want to buy it)
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ¾ cup coarsely shredded carrot
  • 8 large butter lettuce leaves
  • ¼ cup peanuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the onion and lime juice in small bowl; let stand 15 minutes.

    2. HEAT a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, ginger and garlic. Cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Remove the skillet from the heat.

    3. COMBINE the onion mixture, turkey, mint, cilantro, sauces and carrot in large bowl. Spoon the turkey mixture into each lettuce leaf and sprinkle with peanuts.
     
    WHAT IS HOISIN SAUCE?

    Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet-and-pungent condiment that’s used in Asia much the way we use barbecue sauce (but the taste is completely different). It can be used to coat meat and poultry prior to cooking, it can be stirred into dishes and, as in the case of Peking Duck, it can be used as the principal condiment—a very elegant “ketchup.”

    The flavor of hoisin sauce has always seemed pruny-plummy to us (in the sense of a sweet fruitiness of roasted plums). In fact, recipes for a hoisin sauce substitute can include prunes.

    However, there’s no fruit in traditional hoisin sauce; unless you count a touch of chiles, which are, by botanical definition, fruits. The base of hoisin sauce is soybean paste, which is flavored with garlic, vinegar and sometimes some other spices. The resulting sweet-and-spicy paste is extremely flavorful and may overwhelm people who try it the first time. But keep trying; you’ll learn to love it.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Christmas Red Cabbage

    red-cabbage-bacon-foodswinesfromspain-230r

    Red cabbage with sausage and pork. Photo courtesy Foods And Wines From Spain.

     

    This red cabbage dish is a Christmas specialty in Spain, where it is called Lombarda navideña. To make it festive, sausage and bacon are added.

    All over Europe, red cabbage is a delicious pairing with duck, goose, ham and pork roast. This recipe has Spanish touches of chorizo, Spanish olive oil and sherry vinegar.

    Daisy Martinez, who cooks Puerto Rican style, makes a Lombarda navideña with more layers of flavor, including brandy, lemon, pears and raisins, plus bay leaf and thyme. Here’s her recipe. We adapted the recipe below to include the thyme.

    Foods and wines From Spain recommends enjoying it with a dry Cava, Spain’s famed sparkling wine. It’s one of the few wines that can be matched with red cabbage, they say.

    RECIPE: RED CABBAGE WITH CHORIZO & BACON

    Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup chorizo, finely diced (substitute: andouille
    or any smoked, garlicky sausage)
  • 2/3 cup bacon, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
    (substitute: cider vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Preparation

    1. FINELY CHOP the cabbage and wash it thoroughly. Add it to a pan full of boiling water and cook until it becomes soft. Drain the cabbage and place it in a saucepan.

    2. HEAT the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic briefly. Add this mixture to the red cabbage followed, by the chorizo and the bacon. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes.

    3. ADD the vinegar and thyme, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook for a further 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning as necessary before serving.
     
    This recipe was adapted from the original by Sonia Fuentes/©ICEX. Find more delicious recipes at FoodsWinesFromSpain.com.

     
      

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