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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Summer Squash Chips (Zucchini & Yellow Squash)

Summer squash—zucchini and yellow squash—are available year-round, but are never more affordable than now.

In addition to your other favorite summer squash recipes*, make lots of squash chips for low-calorie nibbling. They’re also great to serve with beer, cocktails and wine, and as garnishes.

But start with a small batch. Try the chips plain and with different seasonings (cayenne? curry? garlic?). If you’re using a dehydrator or microwave, just divide the batch.

Make your first batch at 1/8″ thick. The thinner the chips, the crisper they are.
 
USE A DEHYDRATOR, MICROWAVE OR ACTIFRY

If you have a dehydrator, you know what to do.

You can also bake chips in the oven.

We have no space for a dehydrator, but for the past five years we’ve been devoted to Mastrad’s microwave chip maker. Chips are ready in just 3-5 minutes.

Here’s more about microwave chips, and where to get the Mastrad chip trays. We say trays, rather than tray, because they’re sold in a set of two, and we bought a second set. They’re made to stack.

Thanks to Willow Moon of CreateMindfully.com for the recipe.

RECIPE: SALT & VINEGAR ZUCCHINI CHIPS

Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow squash or zucchini, washed and peeled if desired
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (omit if using another seasoning)
  • Salt to taste (regular or flavored)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the squash to 1/8-thick, preferably with a mandoline slicer. Toss them with the olive oil, vinegar and salt, to coat thoroughly.
     
    OVEN VARIATION

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F/190°C). Place the coated zucchini slices on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
     
    DEHYDRATOR VARIATION

    1. PLACE the coated squash slices on Teflon sheets on the dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 110° for 12 hours or until crisp.

     

    Squash Chips

    Zebra Zucchini

    Mastrad Microwave Chip Maker

    [1] Yellow squash chips (photo courtesy CreateMindfully.com. [2] Just slice and season (photo of zebra squash courtesy Burpee.com). [3] The Mastrad microwave chip maker.

     
    ACTIFRY VARIATION

    1. PLACE the olive oil and sliced parsnips in the ActiFry and cook for 35 minutes, or until brown and crisp.

    Here’s more about the Actifry, which comes in basic and deluxe models.
     
    IN ADDITION TO SQUASH CHIPS, TRY THESE VEGETABLE CHIPS

  • Cabbage Chips
  • Cinnamon Apple Chips
  • Microwave Kale Chips
  • Parsnip Chips
  •  
    These recipes may specify a particular technique, but you can slice any root vegetable and use any of the techniques above. You can also use a broad spectrum of veggies (fruits, too). Our colleague Laura makes jalapeño chips (tip: look for very large jalapeños).
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SQUASH
     
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    *Our favorite is fried zucchini, but our favorite low-calorie zucchini dish is Steamed Microwave Zucchini Parmesan. Cut slices to desired thickness and team the zucchini (or yellow squash, or mixed) to al dente; you can salt them or not. Top with pasta sauce, mozzarella and a sprinkle of oregano. To save even more calories, hold the mozzarella and sprinkle with a smaller amount of grated Parmesan cheese before serving.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Beer & Pretzel Hot Dog Buns

    Pretzel Hot Dog Rolls Recipe

    Split the roll, add the hot dog and bite! Photo of pretzel hot dog rolls courtesy DomesticGothess.com.

     

    Want to be the hostess with the hostess or the host with the most?

    Want to give friends and family a memorable hot dog experience?

    Want to bring the best gift to a cookout?

    Follow the path of the Domestic Gothess, who turned soft pretzel dough into hot dog buns. “They are surprisingly easy to make.” says the Gothess.

    Yes, you can buy pretzel rolls at some stores, but these have much more pretzel flavor. They can also be used as sandwich rolls.

    Don’t want beer in your bread? Just substitute water for the beer, like conventional soft pretzels.

    Here’s the recipe. Ready, set, bake!

    July is National Hot Dog Month!

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Coconut Bowls

    According to Chalkboard Magazine, a food trend this summer is Coconut Bowls: coconut halves filled with grains, fruits and/or vegetables. The concept was developed by Amazing Bowls, a Los Angeles food truck.
     
    WHAT TO SERVE IN COCONUT BOWLS
    We’ve been playing with the concept, and have used the bowls for a memorable presentation of conventional foods:

  • Breakfast/Brunch: Cereal, cottage cheese, fruit and/or yogurt
  • Lunch: Asian chicken/shrimp salad
  • Cocktails: Mai Tai, Piña Colada, Planters Punch and other tiki bar specials
  • Dinner Entrée: Curry: chicken, fish, lamb or vegetable
  • Soup: Indian (such as Mulligatawny), Thai (such as Tom Kha Gai) and Western cream of vegetable soups, from broccoli to vichyssoise
  • Dessert: Conventional fruit salad with sorbet or frozen yogurt, exotic* fruit salad, coconut ice cream, sorbet or pudding
  •  
    CREATE A DIY COCONUT BOWL BAR

    For a gathering, set out the coconut halves with the fillings. Aim for a rainbow of colors, from:

  • Cooked grains
  • Dried fruits (raisins, cherries, blueberries)
  • Edible flowers and/or shredded fresh basil for garnish
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Granola
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butters (almond, peanut, etc.)
  • Poached fish or seafood
  • Salads: Asian noodles (with or without chicken or seafood), avocado and citrus, chicken with pineapple and Greek worked for us
  • Shredded/grated dried coconut
  • Yogurt, plain and flavored
  • Anything else that works for you
  •    

    Coconut Bowls

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/coconuts opened thehomegrowncollective 230r

    [1] Too pretty to eat…almost (photo courtesy Chalkboard Magazine). [2] Crack open the coconuts with a heavy kitchen knife (photo courtesy HomeGrownCollective.com).

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    *Exotic fruits you can find in the U.S. include Asian pear, cactus pear, cherimoya, dragonfruit, gooseberry, kiwi, lychee, mango, mangosteen, passionfruit, prickly pear, rambutan and starfruit, among others.
     
    COCONUT 101

    All coconuts come from the same tree, the coconut palm tree (Cocos nucifera). It’s a member of the Arecaceae family, the Palm Family.

    The coconut is not a nut, but a fruit—a drupe, along with stone fruits.

  • Green coconuts are filled with coconut water (a.k.a. juice) and the meat is soft, translucent and scoopable. The off-white coconuts you can purchase, to drink the coconut water, have been carved to remove the green skin.
  • Mature coconuts are covered with a dried brown husk. There is less coconut water and the coconut meat is firm and an opaque white color.
  • Coconut milk is not the liquid inside the mature coconut. Coconut milk and coconut cream are made from pressing the coconut meat. Commercial coconut milk is thinned with water.
  •  

    Tropical Shrimp Salad

    Yogurt Coconut Bowl

     

    RECIPE: COCONUT BOWLS

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 whole coconut
  • Food of choice (see the list above)
  •  
    TO MAKE A COCONUT BOWL

    1. PUNCTURE a small hole into one or two of the coconut eyes with an ice pick. Drain the coconut water into a container and refrigerate for another use.

    2. HOLD the coconut in your palm and rotate as you use the blunt side of a heavy kitchen knife to tap firmly along the midsection (the “waist”).

    3. CONTINUE to rotate and tap until a crack appears. After a few more rotations and taps, the coconut should break into two equal halves.

    4. WRAP and freeze the coconut bowls if you won’t be using them immediately, so the meat doesn’t dry out. You can serve cold foods in frozen bowls; they’ll defrost slowly while keeping the drink, ice cream, etc. cold.
     
    PHOTOS: [1] Rice noodles topped with shrimp, pineapple chunks and Chow Mein noodles. [2] A dessert bowl with strawberry yogurt and Oreo pieces (photos courtesy Alex Jollie | Britco.

     
    WHAT TO DO WITH THE COCONUT SHELLS?

    Check out how our colleague, Hannah Kaminsky, turned hers into beautiful bowls.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red, White & Blue Ice Cubes For July 4th

    Here’s an easy way to turn any cold drink into a July 4th drink: red, white (clear) and blue ice cubes.

    You don’t have to purchase special star-shaped ice cubes trays, but they add to the fun. You can use whatever trays you have.

    You can color ice for any occasion. McCormick even makes black ice cubes for Halloween! Ideas:

  • Orange and black ice cubes for Halloween
  • Fall leaf colors for Thanksgiving
  • Blue and white ice for Chanukah
  • Red and green ice for Christmas
  • Red and pink ice for Valentine’s Day
  • Green ice for St. Patrick’s Day
  •  
    Yes, we do feel a bit silly providing the recipe for ice…but here it is:

    RECIPE: COLORED ICE CUBES

    Ingredients

  • Ice cube trays
  • Water
  • Food colors
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE one color at a time. First, measure the amount of water your ice cube tray holds. Fill the tray and pour the wanter into a glass measuring cup.

    2. USE food color to tint the water to the desired color. Pour it into the ice cube tray(s) and freeze.

    3. REMOVE the frozen ice to a storage bag, and repeat until you have the amount of ice that you need.
     
    OTHER WAYS TO COLOR YOUR ICE

  • ADD colored fruit to conventional ice: raspberries and blueberries for July 4th, cranberries and rosemary sprigs for Christmas, strawberries, raspberries and/or pomegranate arils for Valentine’s Day, and so forth.
  •  

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/red white blue jello ice cubes in glassshakentogetherlife 230

    Colored Ice Cubes

    Ice Cubes

    [1] Color your cubes for July 4th (photo courtesy MeetTheDubiens.com. [2] Three colors, one cube (photo courtesy OneMartiniAtATime.com). [3] You can make ice in any color (photo courtesy GlassShakenTogetherLife.com).

     

  • FREEZE the fruits, herbs or vegetables without the surrounding ice (i.e., just freeze the strawberries or use frozen strawberries, sliced peaches, etc.).
  • LAYER each ice cube with the colors. First freeze 1/2 or 1/3 of the individual cubes with one color; then add the second color. If you have the desire but not the patience, delegate the task to the kids.
  •   

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    RECIPE: Bacon Sticky Buns

    Here’s one of the easiest, tastiest “sticky buns” recipe. It was developed by the master bakers at King Arthur Flour.

    Simple biscuit dough is dropped atop a sweet and salty maple-bacon-brown sugar syrup. Once baked, the biscuits are turned out of the pan upside down, so the sticky topping drips down their sides.
     
    BACON STICKY BUNS

    Ingredients For The Syrup

  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked until medium-brown
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  •  
    For 16 Small Biscuits

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 1 cup cold milk or cold buttermilk*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Preheat the oven to 475°F. Lightly grease an 8″ square or 9″ round pan; whichever size you choose, make sure it’s at least 2″ deep, to prevent any boil-over.

    2. MAKE the syrup: Chop the cooked bacon into 1/2″ pieces. Combine the bacon with the remaining syrup ingredients, stirring until well combined. Spread in the bottom of the prepared pan.

    3. MAKE the biscuits: Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Work in the butter until the mixture is crumbly; some larger, pea-sized pieces of butter may remain intact. Add the milk or buttermilk, stirring to make a sticky dough.

     

    Bacon Maple Sticky Buns

    Maple Syrup

    Top: Bacon sticky buns. Bottom: Maple syrup and bacon go into the sticky bun syrup.

     

    4. DROP the dough in heaping tablespoonfuls atop the syrup in the pan. A tablespoon cookie scoop, slightly overfilled, works well here.

    5. BAKE the biscuits for 10 minutes. Turn the oven off, and leave them in the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove the biscuits from the oven and immediately turn the pan over onto a serving plate. Lift off the pan, and scrape any syrup left in the pan onto the biscuits. Pull biscuits apart to serve.
     
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    *You can easily make buttermilk at home. For one cup of buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes. You can also use 1 cup of plain yogurt or 1-3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar plus 1 cup milk.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Biscuits & Gravy

    If you’re from the South, or have friends and family who hale from there, you know the pleasures of biscuits and gravy, a popular breakfast dish.

    Soft biscuits are smothered in:

  • Sausage gravy, made from the drippings of cooked pork sausage, white flour, milk, black pepper, and in the best recipes, bits of sausage, bacon, or ground beef. The gravy is often flavored with black pepper.
  • Sawmill gravy (a.k.a. country gravy, cream gravy, milk gravy, sausage gravy and white gravy) a carnivore version of béchamel sauce with meat drippings added to the roux, and black pepper plus bits of breakfast sausage or chicken livers (our fave!) added to the finished sauce.
  •  
    It’s loaded with with carbs and fat, but on a special day like Father’s Day, it’s a treat. While Biscuits & Gravy are a standalone main dish, you can serve smaller portions with eggs or other favorite breakfast foods.
     
    THE HISTORY OF BISCUITS & GRAVY

    Early European settlers to America had to rely on basic, simple cooking. During the best times they had meat, and every part of the animal that could be eaten was eaten.

    Biscuits and Gravy emerged as a Southern regional dish after the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), when foodstuffs and money were in short supply. Breakfast was necessarily the most substantial meal to fuel people for the work day. Biscuits covered in gravy made from meat drippings, and possibly bits of meat, fit the bill.

    This recipe, adapted from one in Breakfast: Recipes To Wake Up For by George Weld and Evan Hanczor.

    RECIPE: BISCUITS & GRAVY

    You can make the biscuits from scratch or buy refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. The biscuits are served warm.

    While some people make the gravy with cream, whole milk is rich enough.
     
    Ingredients Per Main Serving

  • 2 biscuits
  • 4 ounces fresh pork sausage (2 sausage patties or 1-2 large links)
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Optional topper: cooked bacon, ham, sausage patties or other meat
  • Optional topper: fried egg or side of scrambled eggs
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley, chives or other herb
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE sausage links in half, remove the meat and discard the casings.

    2. HEAT a small or medium stainless steel sauce pan (do not use nonstick) over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot (we use the water test*—see footnote below), add the sausage and use a spatula or wooden spoon to break it into chunks; then press down on the meat. As you brown the sausage, some brown bits will stick to the pan. This is the fond.

     

    Biscuits & Gravy

    Biscuits & Gravy

    Biscuits & Gravy Recipe

    Fried Egg, Biscuits & Gravy

    Top: Biscuits smothered in gravy from Chef George Weld (photo © Rizzoli). Second: You can go lighter on the gravy, with this recipe from Pillsbury. Third: Make more of a meal by topping the biscuits with sausage patties, ham, bacon or other meat (photo courtesy Pillsbury). Bottom: Top with a fried egg or serve scrambled eggs on the side (photo St. Louis Magazine).

     
    3. REDUCE the heat to medium and sprinkle the flour into the pan, stirring for 1 minute. Pour in the milk and scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan. Bring the gravy to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the gravy thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. It should look velvety and have the thickness of heavy cream. Season the gravy with salt, black pepper and cayenne.

    4. COOK the optional eggs and bacon or other meat.

    5. Split the biscuits and arrange on plates or in shallow bowls. Top with the optional meat and eggs, pour the gravy over the biscuits and serve immediately. While fresh herbs are not a Southern tradition, we always sprinkle them as a garnish for flavor and color.
     
    _____________________
    *THE WATER TEST: Drop 1/8 teaspoon water into the hot pan. If it forms into balls that sizzle, the pan is not hot enough. Keep heating, and when the water forms a single ball that rolls around the pan, it’s ready.
     
    DIFFERENT TYPES OF GRAVY

    Gravy is a sauce made in its simplest form from flour (a thickener), fat and seasonings (salt and pepper). Vegetables can be added, as well as wine and additional thickeners such as cornstarch.

    The word originally referred to a sauce made from the drippings (fat and uses) from cooked meat and poultry, there are now vegetarian and vegan gravies.

    Gravy has long used meat drippings (or in current times, a vegetarian substitute), as opposed to:

  • Sauces, which are made from fruits, vegetables and/or their juices.
  • Jus (pronounced ZHOO), the French term for a meat gravy that has been refined and condensed into a clear liquid.
  • Coulis, a thin fruit or vegetable purée used as a sauce.
  •  
    In American cooking, gravies are white or brown. Popular gravies include:

  • Brown gravy, made with the drippings from roasted meat or poultry.
  • Cream gravy is the white gravy used in Biscuits and Gravy and Chicken Fried Steak. It is a béchamel sauce made with meat drippings and optionally, bits of mild sausage or chicken liver. Other names include country gravy, milk gravy, sawmill gravy, sausage gravy and white gravy.
  • Egg gravy is a béchamel sauce that is served over biscuits, essentially cream gravy with a beaten egg whisked in. The egg creates small pieces in the gravy.
  • Giblet gravy is a brown gravy that includes the giblets of turkey or chicken, and is served with those fowl. It is the traditional Thanksgiving gravy.
  • Mushroom gravy is a brown or white gravy made with mushrooms.
  • Onion gravy is made from large quantities of slowly sweated, chopped onions mixed with stock or wine. Commonly served with bangers and mash, eggs, chops, or other grilled or fried meat which by way of the cooking method would not produce their own gravy.
  • Red-eye gravy is a gravy made from the drippings of ham fried in a skillet, a Southern specialty served over biscuits, grits or ham. The pan is deglazed with coffee, and the gravy has no thickening agent.
  • Vegetable gravy isa vegetarian gravy made with boiled or roasted vegetables plus vegetable stock, flour and fat. Wine and/or vegetable juice can be added.
  •  
    And let’s not forget our favorite dessert gravy: chocolate sauce, made with fat (butter), flour, cocoa powder and sugar.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Crostini For Brunch

    Most people think of crostini as nibbles to be served with wine or beer—“cocktail food.”

    Crostini the Italian word for “croutons,” which refers to any toast breads. They can be medium or large slices, plain or garnished.

    They are not the miniature bread cubes that garnish green salads and bowls of soup. Instead, medium or large crostini, plain or garnished, would be served with the salad or soup.

    In fact, Italy’s crostini are appetizer size, for with drinks, soup, and snacking. Cheese crostini are Italy’s “grilled cheese sandwich.” A topping of olive oil and garlic is Italy’s “garlic bread.”

    Crostini are a scrumptious breakfast choice, too. We especially like DIY crostini, where we put out toasted bread along with bowls of toppings, and let each person construct his or her own.

    First, plan your toppings from the list below, or add your own.

    Next, get the best bread you can find. We like thick slices of a crusty rustic sourdough loaf for breakfast crostini. It makes a nicely crunchy toast.

    Remember that this is a do-it-yourself recipe, so you can serve sweet ingredients (fresh cheeses, fruits and honey, for example), savory ingredients (bacon, eggs, hummus, sautéed spinach), or some of each.
     
    TOPPING SUGGESTIONS

  • Breakfast fish: gravlax, marinated herring, smoked salmon, taramasalata
  • Breakfast meats: bacon, ham, sliced sausage or sausage patties
  • Breakfast spreads: avocado, hummus, spreadable cheese, yogurt, etc.
  • Cooked vegetables: sautéed or steamed kale, spinach, zucchini
  • Eggs: boiled, fried, poached
  • Fresh cheeses: burrata, cottage cheese, cream cheese, farmer’s cheese, fromage blanc, goat cheese, labné, Neufchatel, ricotta, quark (anything spreadable)
  • Fresh fruits: berries, citrus sections, diced pears, sliced figs, sliced stone fruits
  • Fresh vegetables: breakfast radishes, chopped green onions, sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes, sundried tomatoes marinated in olive oil
  •  
    PLUS CONDIMENTS

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Butter
  • Chili flakes
  • Fresh herbs
  • Lemon or lime wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (especially flake salt or seasoned salt) and pepper
  • Lemon or lime wedges
  • Sweet condiments: honey, marmalade, preserves
  •  
    PREPARATION

    1. SET OUT the toppings.

    2. TOAST the bread; cook the eggs and breakfast meats. That’s it!
     
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    Photo credits: Top, Fig & Olive restaurant. Second, Safest Choice Eggs. Third: Mixed Greens Blog. Bottom: Locanda Verde Restaurant.

     

    Fig Crostini

    Egg Avocado Crostini

    Sundried Tomato Crostini

    Ricotta Crostini

    Top: Fresh figs, goat cheese and a drizzle of honey. Second: Mashed avocado and boiled egg with a drizzle of EVOO. Third: Ricotta topped with sundried tomatoes marinated in olive oil and herbs. Bottom: Serve plates of toast and ricotta, and let people top their own.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Can You Substitute Kosher Salt Or Sea Salt For Table Salt?

    Salt Comparison

    While salt can be ground into fine, medium or coarse textures, table salt (top) is always a fine grain, kosher salt (center) a coarser, flat grain, and sea salt anything from finely ground to naturally extra-coarse (bottom photo shows medium-coarse). Photo courtesy Saltworks.us.

     

    Certain recipes specify kosher salt or sea salt instead of table salt. What if you don’t have any? Isn’t all salt the same?

    Yes and no. All salt is virtually 100%* sodium chloride (NaCl), so in this sense they are the same. Table salt and kosher salt come from salt mines. The salt was deposited when ancient seas dried out, leaving behind the salt that had been dissolved in the water. After mining, the salt is refined and ground to size, with anti-clumping additives added to table salt.

    Sea salt is evaporated from sea water. Each body of water contains different levels of trace elements, so the salts are different from each other and from mined salts.

    And, each type of salt has a different level of saltiness, so they are not interchangeable in recipes. Recipes developed with one type of salt need to be adjusted if another type is used.

  • Table salt is mined, refined and ground finely, to fit into salt shakers. It dissolves a bit more quickly in liquid, and sticks better to food when sprinkled on top. Look at it under a microscope and you’ll see tiny, even cubes, shaped to enable the grains to pack together tightly. Table salt has Table salt has a sharper, more chemical flavor, than kosher and sea salts. It is the least expensive salt.
  • Kosher salt is a coarse-grained salt. Grains of mined salt have been compressed, creating a flatter flake that cannot be tightly packed. Different companies produce different size grains; for example, Morton’s Kosher salt flakes are smaller than Diamond kosher salt. Kosher salt is more expensive than table salt, but still affordable for everyday use.
  • While all salt is kosher, the product got its name from the practice of koshering meat. Salt with a coarse and rough surface adheres to the meat easily, enabling the blood within to be drawn out (this, plus killing technique, makes it kosher).
  • Kosher salt is saltier than table salt and it dissolves more easily on a food (when seasoning a protein); thus many chefs prefer it. Its larger, visible flakes also make good toppers for food like pretzels; and its adhering qualities make good salt crusts on fish and rims on cocktail glasses. Kosher salt is not iodized. Most kosher salt sold is not sea salt, although some specialty producers do make kosher sea salt.
  • Sea salt is a broad term that refers to unrefined or minimally refined salt that is naturally evaporated from a living ocean, sea or bay. It is harvested by channeling ocean water into large clay trays and allowing the sun and wind to evaporate it naturally. Sea salt contains minute amounts of trace elements*, which vary based on the particular sea water from which the salt was evaporated.
  • The terroir of the water also makes the crystals different in shape, size and color. Sea salt is a premium product, for its purity, texture and crunch; and is thus pricier than table and kosher salts. Some salts are quite beautiful and can be used as garnishes: black and red lava salts from Hawaii; pink Himalayan and Peruvian sea salts; pyramid-shaped Maldon and Cyprus sea salts; and long-standing favorites of French chefs, crunchy Fleur de Sel and Sel Gris (grey salt) from Brittany.
  • Artisan salt is a relatively new category of sea salts, which adds flavor. The salt can be smoked over wood fires or infused with “gourmet” seasonings such as fennel, saffron, thyme and truffles. Some vendors of mined salt also sell salt blended with flavors like barbecue, chipotle and mesquite.
  •  
    COMPARISON BY WEIGHT†

  • Table Salt: mined; small-grained cubes; 10 ounces/280 grams per cup
  • Morton’s Kosher Salt: mined; small flakes; 8 ounces/225 grams per cup
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt: mined; wide flakes; 5 ounces/140 grams per cup
  • Maldon Sea Salt (from the Maldon, England); large, flaky pyramids; 4 ounces/115 grams per cup
  • Fleur de Sel Sea Salt (from Brittany, France); large crystals; 8 ounces/225 grams per cup
  •  
    When the different salt types are dissolved in water, they will taste identical.

    THE DIFFERENCE IN USE

    However, if you are measuring by volume for a recipe, the different types of salt are not interchangeable because of the difference in size. The finer the salt, the more will fit into a measure (teaspoon, cup, etc.). A measure of table salt, finely ground, will have twice the saltiness of the same measure of kosher salt.

    On the other hand, fine-grained sea salt can substitute for table salt, and coarse-grained sea salt can substitute for kosher salt.

    If a recipe calls for kosher salt, you need to cut the amount by half to get a similar level of saltiness. Similarly, you need about 1-1/8 to 1-1/4 teaspoons of kosher salt to substitute for table salt or fine-grain sea salt.

     
    FOR MORE ABOUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SALT—SEE OUR SALT GLOSSARY.
     
    ____________________________
    *Some 85 trace minerals have been found in sea salts, depending on the water from which it was evaporated. They includeboron, bromine, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, silicon and zinc, among others. Mined salt is refined and its trace minerals are removed. It is available plain or iodized, the latter to counter goiter (enlarged thyroid gland from iodine deficiency), which is easily prevented by iodine. Since table salt has additives to prevent caking, some health-conscious people prefer sea salt.

    †Information from SeriousEats.com.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Easter Salad

    Easter Salad

    Gold Beets

    Top: Pastel beet salad for Easter, from the Oyster Club. Middle: Gold beets is the name given to the orange varieties. Bottom: Chioggia beets, pronounced KYO-jah, sometimes called candy cane beets. Beet photos from Good Eggs.

     

    We adapted this charming salad concept from the Oyster Club in Mystic, Connecticut, as our Easter salad. Look in specialty produce stores or farmers markets for the beets.

    RECIPE: EASTER SALAD

    Ingredients

  • Chioggia, orange [a.k.a. gold], pink, red and/or yellow beets
  • Mesclun or frisée
  • Blood orange or mandarin segments, peeled
  • Fresh orange for orange vinaigrette (Step 5, below)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Garnish: toasted pine nuts or chopped pistachio nuts
  • Optional garnish: dyed hard-boiled quail eggs, ideally two in different colors for each person
  •  
    Preparation

    The first three steps can be done a day in advance.

    1. ROAST the beets and cut into batons, approximately 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch x 2-1/2 inches.

    2. TOAST the pine nuts. Pistachios, which we personally prefer, don’t need to be chopped.

    3. BOIL and dye the optional quail eggs.

    4. SUPRÊME the orange. Suprême (soo-PREHM) is a technique that removes the membrane from citrus fruit segments* so they can be served in slices. Slice off the top and bottom of the orange with a very sharp knife. Set the fruit on one of the flat ends and carefully cut the skin from the flesh, beginning at the top and following the curves down.

     
    Carefully cut out each section of the fruit by inserting the blade of the knife between the flesh and the membrane on both sides. The wedges should come out easily. Be sure to capture the juice. It may be enough for the vinaigrette. Here’s a video.

    5. MAKE the vinaigrette, in the proportion of three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to 1 tablespoon of orange juice. Using fresh-squeezed orange juice is noticeably better. When ready to assemble:

    6. WASH and pat dry the greens. Place the beets and orange segments in an arrangement as shown, with a plume of greens. With a tablespoon, spoon the vinaigrette in a circle around the plate. Garnish with nuts. If using quail eggs, tuck them under the other ingredients, peeking out. Serve.

     
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    *In French cooking, suprême refers to the best part of the food. In the case of citrus, you’re removing the peel, pith and membranes to get to the best part—the juicy segments.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cheese At Home Today

    Farmer Cheese

    Make it today, enjoy it tomorrow. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    What are you doing this weekend? How about making some farmer cheese? Do it today and enjoy it for Sunday brunch. All you need is buttermilk, cheesecloth and a sieve (strainer).

    This recipe, from Alice Waters via Good Eggs in San Francisco, illustrates how much fun making fresh cheese can be. It’s much easier than mozzarella, so it’s a good “first cheese.”

    Prep time is just 25 minutes, but the curds need to drain for 12 to 24 hours, depending on how soft or crumbly you like your farmer’s cheese. Alice Waters drains hers for 16 hours, at which point the cheese is still soft enough to spread, but dry enough to crumble onto salads.

    The cheese should be flavored with a bit of salt, but can be made salt-free. Go gourmet with added chives, black pepper or other favorite seasonings. It can also be sweetened, for something like cannoli cream or ricotta cheesecake.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE FARMER’S CHEESE

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups Cheese

  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • Salt
  • Optional: olive oil
  • Optional savory seasonings: herbs, spices
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  • Optional sweet seasonings: agave, honey, maple syrup, noncaloric sweetener, table sugar
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    Preparation

    1. POUR the buttermilk into a 1-quart canning jar and put the lid on tightly. Place the jar in a pot and cover with enough water to keep it submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until little bubbles appear on the jar and in the water, but before the water reaches a boil.

    2. TURN off the heat and let the buttermilk cool in the pot until the water reaches room temperature. Meanwhile…

    3. LINE a nonreactive* sieve with a few layers of cheesecloth, or a single layer of butter muslin, and set it in a nonreactive bowl deep enough that there is an inch or two between the sieve and the bowl. Once the water has cooled, remove the jar of buttermilk and pour the contents into the sieve. You should have firm white curds. You can add a pinch of salt or salt substitute to the curds at this point.

    4. COVER the curds with the tails of the muslin and refrigerate the sieve over the bowl for 12 to 24 hours, depending on how soft or crumbly you like your farmer’s cheese.

    5. SPREAD and enjoy, or top it with yogurt.

     
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    *Reactive vs. Non-Reactive Cookware: Aluminum, cast iron and copper are popular for cookware because of their superior heat-conducting properties. However, these metals can react with acids in a recipe (citrus, tomato, vinegar, etc.), imparting a metallic taste and discoloration of light-colored foods. This is also true with mixing bowls and utensils. Non-reactive materials include enameled metal, glass, plastic and stainless steel.
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    WHAT IS FARMER CHEESE OR FARMER’S CHEESE

    Farmer cheese or farmer’s cheese is a fresh (unaged), simple, cow’s milk cheese that’s the “child” of cottage cheese (see below), and a relative of paneer, queso blanco (more solid, like feta) and queso campesino (Spanish for farmer’s cheese, more like cottage cheese with curds). The texture is much dryer and the curd is tiny, such that it is molded into loaves and sliced.

    It is so versatile, we could eat it twice a day!

    Farmer cheese is made by pressing most of the moisture from cottage cheese. It can be flavored with herbs or puréed fruits. In fact, mixed with purée and baked, it is similar to ricotta cheesecake. Another variety is paneer, or Indian farmer cheese, which is easily made at home. It should be consumed fresh, as it goes stale if kept too long, and becomes brittle and useless with refrigeration. In Canada, the term “farmer’s cheese” refers to a different type of white cheese that does not have a rind and is firm but springy in texture. It is mild, milky and buttery in flavor. Canadian “farmer’s cheese” may be used in a similar fashion to Colby or Cheddar.

    Once a staple of Middle European cuisine, farmer cheese was made in the U.S. by Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants; but any cheese maker can make it; but not many do. It can be hard to find outside of strongholds of Jewish cuisine.

     

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    Here’s what the final product looks like. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     
    WAYS TO USE FARMER CHEESE

  • Blintzes: first and foremost, the filling for blintzes, flavored with cinnamon, sugar and vanilla (or other flavor profile)
  • Cheesecake
  • Cheese pierogies
  • Dip, mixed with mayonnaise or sour cream
  • Green salad or roast vegetables: a crumbled garnish
  • Noodle kugel (noodle pudding): another Jewish delight that incorporates cottage cheese or farmer cheese
  • Spread on bagels, crusty sourdough bread or toast, with or without jam
  • Substitute for cotija, paneer or ricotta
  • Sandwich: in pita or on toast with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and plain or pickled sliced onions
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    SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT FRESH CHEESES

  • Cottage cheese: The fresh, drained curds of slightly soured, pasteurized milk. The whey is drained from the curds, and the remaining curds are known as cottage cheese.
  • Pot cheese: Drained longer, cottage cheese becomes a drier-curd product known as pot cheese.
  • Farmer cheese: When the remaining moisture is pressed out of cottage cheese, causing it to become dry and crumbly, it is called farmer cheese.
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    WHAT IS CHEESECLOTH?

    Cheesecloth is a loosely woven cloth used for lining colanders and other purposes in home cheesemaking. It is used for draining, bandaging cheeses and covering air-drying cheeses.

    Butter muslin is a more tightly woven cloth used for draining, pressing, and bandaging both hard and soft cheeses. It is better for holding in small, soft curds and for making fresh cheeses and soft cheeses, because the tighter weave keeps some of the necessary moisture in.

    Here are more tips for using cheesecloth and butter muslin.

      

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