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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.

GADGET: Olive Stuffer

Olive connoisseurs: If you’re disappointed with the quality of commercial stuffed olives—rubbery blue cheese, cheap and fishy anchovies, chewy jalapeños—you can now stuff your own premium ingredients with the Swissmar Olive Stuffer.

Anchovies, feta, garlic, goat cheese, pecans, plus fresh herbs: Have fun creating your own stuffed olive creations. The spring-loaded olive stuffer lets you fill large pitted olives with anything.

Simply load the stainless steel device with the stuffing(s) of your choice, place the plunger into the pitted olive, and release.

Buy it at Williams-Sonona.com for $14.65.

If you don’t have an olive pitter, you should pick one up, too.

 

olive-stuffer-WS-230

Become a master olive stuffer. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

 

  

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FOOD 101: Food Fillers

white-bread-Aaron-Bobrow-Strain-230

Avoid puffy white bread, made with
potassium bromate. And read this book!
Photo courtesy Beacon Press.

 

The website Healthcare Management Degree sent us the 411 on food fillers, and we’re happy to pass it on. You can also view it in infographic form.

Their article, called “Food Isn’t Food Anymore: The Frightening World of Fillers,” explains the types of fillers found in prepared foods at grocery stores and restaurants. Fillers are also called additives. The goal of the fillers is to add a cheaper ingredient to a costlier one to help bulk up the weight of the food, thus lowering the overall cost.

Fillers are mostly found in processed meats, and can lower the cost of meats by 10%-30%. The ground beef you buy likely contains filler, they write.

While lowering the cost of food can sound like a great idea, here are the pros and cons of food fillers. This is not an exhaustive list, but highlights the most common fillers. And of course, not all brands use fillers: Read the nutrition label!

CARRAGEENAN

Carrageenan is a gel extracted from seaweed. It Is used as a thickening agent and emulsifier in dairy products such as chocolate milk, cottage cheese and ice cream. It is also injected into raw chicken and other meats to make them retain water, which makes the meat weigh more. You’re paying for water weight! (A similar trick is used to inject scallops with chemicals. Be sure that you are buying “dry” scallops, not “wet” scallops.)

 

ISSUE: Seaweed generally has no adverse health effects, but it can trick the consumer into paying more.

CELLULOSE

Cellulose is a natural component of many plants. Much of the cellulose used as a food additive is derived from wood pulp, which is used in the production of paper! This cellulose is used in the manufacture of cereal, shredded cheese, salad dressing and ice cream. Cellulose appears in many high-fiber snacks, and eating organic won’t help you avoid it.

Humans can’t digest cellulose, so adding it to food makes for a no-calorie, nonfat filler. Some may see that as a benefit.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Ingredients like microcrystalline cellulose (MCC), cellulose gel, cellulose gum or carboxymethyl cellulose.

 

OLESTRA

Olestra is a fat substitute synthesized by Procter and Gamble in 1968; its chemical name is sucrose polyester. The human body can’t digest its large molecules, so Olestra contributes no calories. It now used in Fat Free Pringles and Frito-Lay Light chips.

It can have a laxative effect. Products containing Olestra were originally required to warn customers of the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years of introduction, 15,000 people had called a hotline set up specifically to take adverse-reaction complaints; however, in 2003, the FDA removed the warning label requirement following lobbying by P&G.

ISSUE: In addition to digestive issues, Olestra appears to interfere with the body’s absorption of critical nutrients such as beta-carotene and lycopene.

 
POTASSIUM BROMATE

Potassium bromate is a chemical compound that helps bread to rise quickly and puff up during baking. Bread made with potassium bromate is fluffy, soft and unnaturally white. It is found in supermarket and fast food breads.

 

hot-fudge-sundae-230

Wood pulp in your ice cream? Could be! Photo by Lauri Patterson | IST.

 

If the bread is not baked long enough, or if too much potassium bromate is added before baking, the amount in the end product can be much higher than recommended. In 1982, Japanese researchers published the first study linking potassium bromate to thyroid and kidney cancer in mice.

ISSUE: Potassium bromate is illegal in China, the European Union, Canada, Brazil and many other countries. But it is legal in the U.S.

SOY

Soy derivatives can be found filling a variety of foods, from frozen yogurt to ground beef, and are estimated to be in almost 60% of the processed food sold in supermarkets. In ground meats, soy acts as a cheap filler, lowering both the price and overall quality of the protein,

Soy contains high levels of phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that actually eliminates important vitamins and minerals from the body.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Soy is often listed as “vegetable protein.”
 
THE FINAL WORD

1. A good rule of thumb: The more ingredients are in a product, the less natural it is likely to be.

2. Educate yourself on what you’re eating. Read those nutrition labels!

  

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RECIPE: Figgy Blue Cheese Bacon Bites

fig-blue-cheese-bacon-bites-litehouse-230

Bacon, blue cheese, figs and…Fig Newtons!
Photo courtesy Litehouse Foods.

 

Here’s what we’re making this weekend to go with Olive Oil Martinis: Figgy Blue Cheese Bacon Bites.

The recipe was developed by Jennifer Fisher for Litehouse Foods. You can see the whole photo spread here.

These appetizers are simple to make from just four ingredients that you can easily keep on hand. Says Jennifer, “An insanely delicious bacon aroma wafts through the house to alert everyone that good things are about to happen!”

Prep and cooking time is 35 minutes.

RECIPE: FIGGY BLUE CHEESE BACON BITES

Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 6 strips of hardwood-smoked thickly sliced maple bacon
  • 12 fig cookies (like Fig Newtons)
  • 4 ounces blue cheese
  • 6 dried Turkish brown figs
  • Plus:

  • Toothpicks
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.

    2. CUT bacon in half crosswise so that the 6 strips become 12 shorter strips.

    3. CUT blue cheese into 12 approximate ½ teaspoon chunks.

    4. SLICE dried figs in half lengthwise.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Top one fig cookie with blue cheese. Top blue cheese with fig, cut side down. Wrap with bacon, using a toothpick to secure.

    6. PLACE on the prepared baking sheet. If you have a rack or crisper sheet, set this on top of baking sheet for more even cooking. Place Figgy Blue Cheese Bacon Bites on the sheet and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until bacon is crisped and cheese is bubbling.

     

    fig-bacon-bites-raw-litehouse-230

    Ready to go into the oven. Photo courtesy Litehouse Foods.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP: Ways To Add More Flavor To Food

    caperberries-2-elvirakalviste-230

    Caperberries or capers (capers are the flower
    bud of the plant, caperberries are the fruit
    with seeds inside) are brined and thus
    contribute saltiness as well as flavor to
    dishes. They and other ingredients (olives, soy
    sauce, etc.) reduce the need to add table
    salt. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Today’s tip comes from Flavor & The Menu, a magazine and website for chefs of fine dining restaurants.

    They “employ every trick in the flavor toolbox to get explosive taste and texture,” according to author Pam Smith, co-chair of The Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Menus R&D Collaborative. “Creating flavor is no magic trick,” she says, “but certain ingredients and techniques can magically make reduced-calorie dishes satisfying—even indulgent.”

    The advice:

  • Acids. High-acid ingredients lend sharp, bright flavor to replace salt or fat. Reduce wines and vinegars to concentrate their flavor; add a squeeze of citrus to finished dishes.
  • Cooking meats. Spices added to rubs and marinades brings out surface flavor, as does caramelization from grilling or searing meats.
  • Healthful fats. Beneficial fats and oils—nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, avocados—enhance mouthfeel and flavor.
  • Herbs. Savory* herbs (basil, dill, oregano, thyme, sage, cilantro) enable the reduction of salt. Finishing a dish with fresh herbs punches up the flavor.
  • High-sodium ingredients. Replace the salt in a recipe with more flavorful sodium: capers, feta, olives, olives or soy sauce, for example.
  • Onions. Members of the onion family, which also includes chives, garlic, scallions (green onions) and shallots, lend a sharp taste and aroma to dishes, whether raw, caramelized, roasted or grilled (how to caramelize onions).
  •  

  • Spices. Use spice and heat to distract the palate. Make use of strong flavors like cayenne, cumin, curry, ginger, horseradish/wasabi, mustard seed, and peppercorn. Toast whole spices before grinding to heighten the flavor and aroma.
  • Umami. Go for “exponential umami” by combining two nucleotide compounds, such as a burger made with beef and roasted mushrooms or tuna with a dash of soy sauce (more about umami).
  •  
    What are you cooking this weekend? Employ as many of these tricks as you can and see how they improve your recipes.

     
    *As opposed to savory herbs, sweet herbs are typically used to flavor beverages and desserts. Examples include apple mint, lavender, peppermint, pineapple mint, pineapple sage and rose geranium. Savory herbs used in sweet applications include anise, basil, licorice and rosemary. Stevia is a sweet herb that is largely a sugar substitute, adding sweetness without additional flavor.
     
      

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    RECIPE: Kimchi Fried Rice

    kimchi-fried-rice-eastandwest-yotelNYC-230

    Enjoy this for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
    Photo courtesy Yotel New York.

     

    Kimchi or kimchee is a traditional Korean fermented vegetable dish, the most common side dish in Korean cuisine. It is also a main ingredient in many popular Korean dishes, such as kimchi stew.

    Kimchi has always been made year-round, but in earlier times it was made in larger quantities during the winter months, when fresh vegetables were few. Like many societies pre-refrigeration, pickled vegetables were a winter mainstay. Here’s more about kimchi.

    In addition to Asian markets, you can now find kimchi at natural food stores, including chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

    This fusion recipe from East & West at Club Lounge combines Korean kimchi with Chinese fried rice with a western fried egg.

    RECIPE: KIMCHI FRIED RICE WITH FRIED EGG

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 8 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 cup kimchi vegetables, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 bok choy stem, chopped
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal olek)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 fried eggs, sunny side up, crispy edges, salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: julienned green onion
  • Preparation

    1. SAUTÉ garlic in canola oil and add rice. Stir fry rice for 2 minutes, then add kimchi.

    2. STIR fry for an additional minute; then add scallions, bok choy and sambal.

    3. SEASON with salt and pepper, and portion into four individual bowls or one large serving bowl.

    4. TOP with crispy fried egg(s) and green onions and serve.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Asian Pears

    In the spring, when the blossoms fall from the Asian pear trees, the nascent pears are the size of peas. Now, at harvest time, many are as large as croquet balls, some varieties the size of softballs (and yet low in calories—about 50 per 4 ounces).

    If you see a red and white Subarashii Kudamono, the fruits haven’t crossed the Pacific Ocean: They’re grown in Pennsylvania.

    While on business in Japan in 1973, American inventor Joel Spira received a gift of Asian pears. Upon returning home, he tried to obtain more of the crunchy, juicy fruit but couldn’t find it. So, he decided to grow his own.

    Spira and his wife Ruth (who has a botany degree) purchased orchard land in the fertile Lehigh Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, and set about growing traditional varieties of Asian pears as well as creating new varieties. They named their company Subarashii Kudamono, Japanese for “wonderful fruit.”

    Today, thousands of their trees yield numerous varieties of Asian pears. The 2014 harvest has begun, and the fruit is now available at gourmet grocers from New York and New Jersey down to Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, and nationally online at WonderfulFruit.com.

       

    AsianPears_bluebowl_230

    A simple yet elegant dessert. Serve with an optional drizzle of honey. Photo courtesy WonderfulFruit.com.

    Asian pears are also grown in California, Oregon and Washington, in addition to orchards worldwide.

    So today’s tip is to try Asian pears.
     

    ARE ASIAN PEARS PEARS, APPLES OR A HYBRID?

    “Asian pear” is the generic name for more than 25 different varieties of a pear species that originated in Asia. The fruit was first cultivated in what are now China, Japan and Korea, beginning as far back as 330 B.C.E.

    Although the shape is reminiscent of some varieties of apples and has the crunchy flesh of apples, the Asian pear, Pyrus pyrifolia, belongs to the same genus as European pears, Pyrus communis. This means you can eat them in the same way, in recipes or as hand fruit, with the skin or peeled.

    Don’t expect a creamy European pear texture, though, or any apple flavor from the fruit that is also known as apple pear, Korean pear, Chinese pear and sand pear, among other names.

    And unlike European pears, Asian pears don’t soften when ripe. They remain crunchy, even when cooked.
     
    HOW TO SERVE ASIAN PEARS

    This fruit is very versatile, pairing well (no pun intended) in savory and sweet recipes. For starters, consider:

  • Breakfast: Sliced as your morning fruit, atop cereal, baked like a baked apple.
  • Lunch/Dinner: Sliced into a green salad with blue cheese or feta; diced into chicken salad; julienned into cole slaw; added to stuffing; cooked and puréed into soup; in stir-fries or Asian dishes seasoned with curry powder, five-spice powder, ginger, soy sauce and/or star anise; instead of sautéed apples with ham, pork chops and other proteins.
  • Dessert: Poached, using your favorite poached pears recipe, baked in tarts, with a cheese plate, served plain with a drizzle of honey.
  •  
    There are dozens of Asian Pear recipes at WonderfulFruit.com: desserts, salads, slaws, spreads, combined with favorite proteins, even Asian pear fries!

     

    Asian_Pear_PA_sticker-230

    If there’s no sticker, ask the produce
    manager about the variety and provenance
    of the Asian pears. Photo courtesy
    WonderfulFruit.com.

     

    RECIPE: SALAD WITH ASIAN PEARS

    You can turn this side salad into a main course by topping it with a grilled protein: chicken breast; fish fillet, scallops or shrimp; lamb, etc.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups of mixed baby greens
  • 1 head radicchio
  • 2 medium Asian Pears, diced
  • Blue cheese, feta or goat cheese, crumbled, diced or sliced
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TEAR the radicchio into bite-sized pieces and combine with greens in a salad bowl (also tear greens if not using baby greens). Add the diced pears.

    2. WHISK the vinegar and mustard, then whisk in the olive oil. Add honey, salt and pepper. Toss with the salad.

    3. ADD cheese to top and serve.
     

    TRADITIONAL ASIAN PEAR VARIETIES

    Depending on the variety, Asian pears can range from medium to large to extra large. Most colors vary from yellow to tan-brown; some have green or russet hues. Their skin may be smooth or speckled. Some of the most popular varieties grown in the U.S. include Hosui (Golden Russet Brown), Kosui (Golden Russet), Nijiseiki or Twentieth Century (Yellow-Green), Shinseiki (Yellow) and Shinsui (Russet Brown).

    These conventional varieties are grown by Subarashii Kudamono:

  • Atago, often heart-shaped,is exceptionally flavorful. Ripening late in the season, it has a lovely butterscotch colored skin. This fruit is juicy and crunch, with subtle tropical flavors of mango, kiwi and passionfruit plus notes of citrus and melon.
  • Hosui has a mild, clear, sweet flavor. This crisp and juicy fruit is golden tan in color with a slight conical shape. In Japanese Hosui means sweet water.
  • Niitaka is a golden light brown in color with a distinctive peaked top. Another very crisp juicy variety, it is sweet with a hint of a nuttiness.
  • Olympic is very round, khaki (brownish-green) color with a blush of dark red. It has a rich flavor, is lightly crisp and displays a delicate amount of juiciness.
  • Yoinashi is very sweet, with a hint of butterscotch. It is golden-orange in color and is slightly oval in shape.
  •  
    The company has also bred and patented five additional varieties: It’s an Asian pear lover’s paradise. One of them, Asaju, is grown artisan-style in a wax-lined bag, so the skin is wafer thin and very crisp.

    You can buy them online for yourself or as gifts. A 5-pound gift box is $29.95; a 9-pound gift box is $39.95.
     

    MORE ABOUT ASIAN PEARS.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Covered Bridge Cookies

    It began in the summer of 1992, when Carl Goulet began making cookies to sell at a local farmers market in Windsor, Vermont. Then employed as executive chef at a local hospital, Carl had been a pastry chef and baker for most of his working life. He had a part-time venture on the side, Christopher’s Cakes & Pastries. His employer allowed him to rent time in the kitchen after hours.

    The cookies expanded in distribution, from the farmers market to local stores, and developed an enthusiastic following. In five years he had outgrown the time and space available at the hospital, and Carl decided to take the plunge to baking full time, investing in a facility and equipment.

    His Covered Bridge Cookies taste of homemade goodness, using the finest ingredients from Vermont producers: butter from Vermont-based Cabot Creamery, chocolate from Barry Callebaut, a French company with U.S. headquarters in St. Albans, Vermont, and unbleached and unbromated flour from King Arthur Flour in Norwich.

    Superior ingredients and small batch production techniques that produce delicious, old fashioned goodness—as if you (or your grandmother) had just baked them.
     
    The line is small, comprising New England favorites:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Ginger Snaps
  • Hermits
  • Maple Shortbread
  • Shortbread
  •    

    hermits-230

    Hermits: a New England cookie favorite that deserves to be baked more often. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    While we love them all, we have to give a shout-out to the hermit, starting with…

     

    ginger-snaps-box-230

    Old-fashioned goodness in a box. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    WHAT ARE HERMITS, AND A BRIEF COOKIE HISTORY

    English and Dutch immigrants brought cookies to America in the 1600s. The Dutch used the word koekje, while the English primarily referred to cookies as small cakes, seed biscuits, tea cakes, or by specific names, such as jumble (a spiced butter cookie) or macaroon.

    By the early 1700s, koekje had evolved to cookie or cookey, and was well-entrenched in New York City, then the nation’s capital—a factor that resulted in widespread use of the term.

    During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, most cookies were baked at home as special treats, both because of the amount of labor and the high cost of sugar. Recipes for jumbles, macaroons and gingerbread are found in early cookbooks. Our simple butter cookie recipes are similar to English tea cakes and Scottish shortbread (the term “tea cake” is used to describe that type of cookie in the Southern U.S. as well).

    During the 19th century, affordable sugar and flour, plus the introduction of chemical raising agents such as bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), led to the development of other types of cookie recipes.

    Another explosion of cookie recipes took place in the early 1900s, not surprisingly paralleling the introduction of modern ovens with thermostats. Cookbooks yield recipes for cinnamon-accented Snickerdoodles, raisin-filled Hermits, Sand Tarts and many varieties of butter cookies including Southern-style Tea Cakes.

     
    Hermits Appear

    Cookies called hermits appear in New England cookbooks by 1880. Those first Hermits were made with raisins, spices—cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg—and white sugar.

    Most recipes that continue in use will evolve. It is a rare for a recipe not to change, whether from creativity of cooks, the availability of new ingredients or changing tastes.

    According to NewEnglandRecipes.org. Hermits is a classic example: New York bakers replaced white sugar with more flavorful brown sugar. By the 1950s, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook uses white sugar and molasses in place of brown sugar, providing a stronger molasses flavor than with brown sugar alone.

    A mix of currants and raisins, optional citrons and nuts become Hermit variations. Later versions of Hermits offer the option of dates, figs and dried apricots. Today, the cookies are typically large, chewy molasses cookies with raisins. We wish they were more available in our neck of the woods (or maybe, we should be thankful that they’re not!).

    Covered Bridge Cookies are $6.99 for a 9-ounce box, about 10 cookies. You can buy them online at VTStuff.com.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKIES IN OUR DELICIOUS COOKIE GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asian Lettuce Wraps With Steak

    East meets West in these Vietnamese-style steak and lettuce wraps, delicious for lunch, a first dinner course or main course.

    The recipe comes from The Great Pepper Cookbook, one of our favorite new cookbooks from the produce experts at Melissas.com, available in hardcover, paperback and Kindle editions.

    This recipe was created by Melissa’s chef Tom Fraker. Prep time is 35 minutes; total Time including marinating, is 8 hours, 40 minutes.

    RECIPE: STEAK LETTUCE WRAPS

    Tri-tip comes from the bottom side of the sirloin and can sometimes be hard to find. You can substitute beef tenderloin. The serving size is about 1¼ cups.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced (about ½ cup), divided
  •    

    steak-lettuce-wraps-melissas-230

    Steak & lettuce wraps. Photo and recipe courtesy Melissas.com.

  • 4 fresh serrano chile peppers, stems and seeds removed, finely diced (about 3 tablespoons), divided
  • 1¼ cups lime juice, divided (about 8 limes)
  • 1½ pounds beef tri-tip
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1½ cups fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 6 green onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 8 butter lettuce leaves
  • Optional: 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
  •  

    the-great-pepper-cookbook-melissas-230

    A great cookbook for chile lovers! Photo
    courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. WHISK together in a bowl the brown sugar, soy sauce, oil, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, half of the garlic, half of the chile, and 1 cup juice. In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine the beef with the marinade. Seal the bag and turn it several times to mix well and coat beef. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

    2. PREHEAT the grill to medium-high heat. Oil grill rack. Remove beef from zip-top plastic bag; discard marinade. Place beef on grill rack; grill until both sides are marked, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Turn off all but one burner; move beef to cool side of grill rack and partially cover. Grill until desired doneness (125°F for rare, 135°F for medium, or 145°F for well done), about 15 to 25 minutes. Let meat rest 15 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.

    3. MAKE the sauce. In a bowl, combine the remaining half of the garlic and chile, the remaining ¼ cup juice, cilantro, green onions, tomato and onion. Top the lettuce leaves evenly with beef slices and the chile mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, if desired. Serve.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Millet, A Gluten Free Whole Grain

    Today’s tip comes from Bob’s Red Mill, where there’s always something new and delicious to discover. Our recent discovery: millet, a gluten free, ancient whole grain.

    Easily used as a replacement for rice and bulgur wheat with millet in a salad with dates and pistachio to benefit from the whole grain, gluten free and high protein goodness. The nutty sweet flavor is an added bonus!

    Millet, an ancient grain, was first farmed some 10,000 years ago in East Asia. A staple crop in Asia and Africa—then and now—it was revered as one of five sacred crops in ancient China. It’s mentioned in the Old Testament, the writings of Herodotus and the journals of Marco Polo.

    Millet grows well in poor, droughty and infertile soils, and are more reliable than most other grain crops under these conditions.

    It fell out of fashion in the cuisines of America and Europe, but it’s always been available in health food stores. A small, round, yellow seed, you also find it in natural food stores like Whole Foods Market, and in many general grocery stores.

    Millet has a mild, sweet flavor and cooks quickly, making it a tasty, convenient whole grain for sides, salads and stir fries. Its light flavor enables it to be prepared as a sweet or savory recipe. In addition to fiber, it’s packed with B vitamins, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus.

    The most widely cultivated species include, in order:

       

    millet-horiz-bobsredmill-230r

    Millet, a grain to discover. Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.

  • Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), what you’re most likely to find in the U.S.
  • Foxtail millet (Setaria italica)
  • Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum), also called broom corn millet, common millet, hog millet and white millet)
  • Finger millet (Eleusine coracana)
  •  
    Easy Ways To Enjoy Millet

  • Breakfast: Substitute millet for a bowl of oatmeal; bake raw millet seeds into breads and muffins for a healthful crunch.
  • Salad: Substitute millet in any grain salad; add a scoop as a garnish for a green salad or cooked vegetables.
  • Side: Serve millet with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh-cracked pepper and an optional sprinkle of grated Parmesan. We also enjoyed a side of millet, chopped dates and pistachio nuts.
  •  

    millet-spring-roll-salad-bobsredmill-230L

    Millet salad: Serve it as a side or top with a
    grilled protein. Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.

     

    RECIPE: MILLET STIR-FRY

    Use this recipe from Bob’s Red Mill to turn a simple stir-fry into something special, replacing rice with millet. You can add an optional protein (chicken, tofu, etc.).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced carrot
  • 5 ounces canned water chestnuts
  • 1/4 cup cashew pieces
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING water and salt to a boil in a pot. Add millet and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes.

    2. COMBINE soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and cornstarch. Set aside

    3. HEAT oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute. Add broccoli, carrots and water chestnuts. Cook until vegetables are al dente to tender, depending on preference, 7-10 minutes. Add millet and cashews.

    4. POUR soy sauce mix over the stir-fry and cook until the sauce is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
     
     
    MORE MILLET RECIPES

    Here are three delicious recipes from Bob’s Red Mill:

  • Millet Salad, a combination of grain and crunchy veggies (recipe)
  • Sweet Millet Congee with apples and bacon, for breakfast (recipe)
  • Spinach and Lemon Millet Arancini, fun party fare (recipe)
  •  
    Let us know what you think of millet!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweetened Condensed Milk

    Sweetened condensed milk is cow’s milk from which the water has been removed; sugar is been added for sweetness. In parts of Asia, it’s the milk used in iced coffee and iced tea. It’s the dairy used to make Key Lime Pie—because before modern refrigeration, there were no cows in the Florida Keys and canned milk was a staple. It’s the special ingredient in Magic Bars and Tres Leches Cake.

    Recipes abound to use sweetened condensed milk: in beverages, brownies and other bars, cakes, candy, cookies, pies and puddings. Check out the Eagle Brand website, for starters.

    When we have leftover sweetened condensed milk after baking, we use it:

  • As a dip for fresh fruit and cookies (try oatmeal cookies!)
  • On oatmeal and other porridge
  • On toast
  • In French toast (substitute for milk)
  • In coffee and iced coffee
  • As a topping for ice cream and pound cake
  •    

    sweet-condensed-milk-growingnaturals-230

    Homemade sweetened condensed milk. Photo courtesy GrowingNaturals.com.

  • Caramelized into a delicious dessert sauce or dip (recipe below)
  •  
    Lactose intolerant? Here’s a non-dairy version of sweetened condensed milk from GrowingNaturals.com.
     
    RECIPE: SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK SUBSTITUTE

    If you find yourself stuck without a can of sweetened condensed milk, here’s a substitute recipe from Cooks.com.

    Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients thoroughly and use in bars, cookies, cakes, etc.
     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK

    This homemade version isn’t as thick as canned sweetened condensed milk, but it does have the same sweet, milky flavor.

    Ingredients For Scant 1 Cup

  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, mix together the milk and sugar. Take note of where the milk reaches on the side of the pan.

    2. HEAT the milk and sugar mixture over medium heat until it’s just steaming, then lower the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the mixture has thickened slightly. When the mixture has reduced by about half, stir in the vanilla extract.

    3. COOL completely. As it cools, the milk with thicken. Pour into a clean, dry airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

     

    sweetened-condensed-milk-nestle-230s

    Keep a can in the pantry. Photo courtesy
    Nestlé.

       
    SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK TIPS

  • Because it is a natural product, sweetened condensed milk may vary in color and consistency from can to can.
  • To measure, remove the entire lid and scrape the milk into a glass measuring cup, using a rubber spatula.
  • Transfer any leftover milk into a storage container, cover and refrigerate. It will keep for about one week.
  • Sweetened condensed milk will become thicker and more caramel-colored when kept on the shelf for a long time. These changes won’t affect its quality, and when used in recipes with peanut butter, butterscotch, or chocolate, the rich caramel flavor and color will blend with these ingredients.
  •  
    Tips and caramelizing instructions courtesy Eagle Brand.

     
    HOW TO CARAMELIZE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK

    First, do not cook it in a regular pan on the stove; it will scorch. Instead, use one of these methods.

  • Oven Method: Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Pour sweetened condensed milk into 8 or 9-inch pie plate. Cover with foil; place in larger shallow pan. Fill outer pan with hot water. Bake 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until thick and light caramel-colored; check water level in pan during baking time and refill if necessary. Remove foil. Cool and chill. Refrigerate leftovers.
  • Stovetop Method: Pour sweetened condensed milk into top of double boiler; cover and place over boiling water. Over low heat, simmer 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until thick and light caramel-colored. Beat until smooth, if desired. Cool and chill. Refrigerate leftovers.
  • Microwave Method: Pour sweetened condensed milk into an 8 cup glass measure. Cook, uncovered, at Medium (50%) for 4 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Reduce power to Medium Low (30%) and cook, uncovered, 12 to 16 minutes or until thick and light caramel-colored. Stir briskly every 2 minutes until smooth. Cool and chill. Refrigerate leftovers.
  •   

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