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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.

TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Eggplant Caponata

Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant relish or eggplant salad, made from capers, eggplant, onion, pine nuts and tomatoes, usually served as a side dish or relish, part of an antipasto. In Sicily it’s called capunata.

As with any recipe, there are numerous variations, including the addition of carrots, celery, green bell peppers, olives, potatoes, or raisins.

According to food writer Clifford A. Wright, the famed Italian dish may be of Spanish origin. He quotes the Sicilian food authority Pino Correnti, that the dish is derived from the Catalan word caponada, a similar type of relish

Th Catalan word means “something tied together like vines.” In Sicily, it first appears in 1709. Another contender is the word capón; capón de galera is a gazpacho or a caponata-like dish.

A Sicilian cuisine scholar, Giuseppe Coria, suggests that the word derives from the Latin caupo, tavern, which served cauponae, a tavern food for travelers.

Wright notes: “The earliest recipe I am familiar with of … a kind of caponata is the cappone di galera alla siciliana in Francesco Leonardi’s L’Apicio Moderno (The Modern Apicius), published in 1790. Here is his recipe:

   

salmon-on-caponata-olionyc-230

Caponata moves from appetizer dip or spread to a sauce for fish or poultry. You can place the caponata on top of the protein or use it as a bed, as shown in this photo. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | New York City.

 

“Dip a few fresh new beans [freselle maiorchine, an esteemed bean from Majorca] in Malaga wine, then arrange them on a serving platter, and put over them a garnish of anchovy fillets and thin slices of tuna salami, rinsed of its salt, capers, pieces of citron zest, stoned olives, fried shrimp and squid, oysters poached slightly in their own liquid and several fillets of fried linguattola [Citharus linguatula, a kind of flatfish] until the platter is well garnished and full. At the moment of serving pour over it a sauce made as follows: in a mortar pound two ounces of peeled green pistachios soaked in olive oil, vinegar, and tarragon or vinegar, salt, and ground pepper.”

Whatever the origin and ingredients, today’s caponata easily moves from antipasto relish (our grandmother favored it with crackers or toasted baguette slices) to the main plate.

This delicious and healthful garnish adds bright color to pale proteins. It works well on grilled, poached or sautéed fish, poultry or tofu.
 
RECIPE: EGGPLANT CAPONATA

Use fresh tomatoes in season. In the off season, use diced, canned tomatoes.

Caponata tastes best the day after it is made, once the flavors have had a chance to blend and mellow. The recipe can be made two days in advance and refrigerated, covered. It can also be frozen.

You can serve caponata warm, chilled or at room temperature, or cold.

 

eggplant-caponata-black-bass-davidburkefromagerie-230

Grilled bass with eggplant caponata. Photo courtesy David Burke Fromagerie.

 

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 eggplant (about 1-1/2-pounds), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, cubed
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can (14-1/2-ounces) diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings, including the juice
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Pine nuts, toasted
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in heavy pot over medium heat. Add the eggplant, onion and garlic. Sauté until the eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.

     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in heavy pot over medium heat. Add the eggplant, onion and garlic. Sauté until the eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.

    2. ADD the diced tomatoes, vinegar and drained capers. Cover and simmer until the eggplant and onion are very tender, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    3. SEASON the caponata to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the basil. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

    This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com.

     
    MORE WAYS TO USE CAPONATA

  • On bruschetta or crostini (the difference).
  • On omelets (or as a filling), or other egg preparations.
  • In a grilled cheese sandwich or panini.
  • Atop pasta, rice or other grain.
  • In a baked potato.
  • In crêpes.
  • In tartlets or phyllo pockets.
  • In lettuce cups.
  •   

    Comments

    TREND: Sriracha, The New “It” Flavor

    Each year, we notice a hot new food trend. Often it’s a new flavor, blasting through everything from salad dressing to popcorn. Notable past flavor explosions like chipotle, jalapeño and wasabi introduced new kinds of heat to the American palate.

    The current “it” flavor seems to be sriracha.
     
    WHAT IS SRIRACHA?

    Sriracha, pronounced see-RAH-jah, is a Thai hot chili sauce. It’s made from red chiles, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt; and is aged for three months or longer.

    Unlike American hot sauces such as Tabasco, which are vinegar sauces that are infused with hot chiles, sriracha is primarily puréed chiles, making it a much thicker sauce.

    The sauce is named after the coastal city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand, where it was first made and marketed. Different brands can be found in the Asian aisle of many supermarkets and in Asian groceries.

    The most popular brand is Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. It looks imported but it’s made by a California manufacturer (it was created in 1980 by Chinese-Vietnamese Californian). It has a large rooster logo in the center of the bottle. The rooster has been knocked off by Red Rooster Louisiana Hot Sauce, a product of Louisiana-based Bruce Foods.

    The History Of Sriracha Sauce

       

    fiery-sriracha-background-230

    Tribe adds Asian-style hot sauce to Middle Eastern hummus. Photo of new Fiery Sriracha Hummus courtesy Tribe.

     
    According to multiple sources, including an article in Bon Appétit, the sauce was made more than 80 years ago in by a local woman, Thanom Chakkapak. She initially made the condiment for her family, and then for friends, to enjoy with the local seafood (think of it as a much hotter counterpart to American cocktail sauce).

    As is a common story in the specialty food business, they encouraged her to sell it commercially—and it became the best-selling chile sauce in Thailand. In 1984, Ms. Chakkapak sold her business to a major food company, Thai Theparos Food Products.

    What’s the correct spelling: sriraja, si-racha, sriracha or siracha?

    According to Andrea Nguyen, who wrote the article for Bon Appétit: Since Thailand does not adhere to one romanization system for Thai words, many variants have emerged, chosen by manufacturers who have created their own version of the original sauce.

    However, the most commonly accepted spelling is sriracha.
     
    NEW PRODUCT: TRIBE LIMITED EDITION FIERY SRIRACHA HUMMUS

    Tribe’s latest hummus flavor, Limited Batch Fiery Sriracha, is heatint up the hummus category when it hits grocery store shelves later this month.

    In addition to blending sriracha sauce into the hummus, the flavor is topped with red pepper flakes for an extra splash of heat.

    Is America going flavor-crazy with its hummus? According to Tribe, non-traditional hummus flavors represented nearly half of total hummus sales in 2014! Discover more at TribeHummus.com.

     

    sriracha-lime-230

    Snack Factory has introduced Sriracha Lime
    Pretzel Crisps. Photo by Faith Tomases | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    NEW PRODUCT: PRETZEL CRISPS IN SRIRACHI LIME

    Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps are one of our favorite ways to enjoy pretzels. We like them for dipping, topping and pairing with soups and salads.

    The brand’s bevy of flavors (Original, Buffalo Wing, Everything, Honey Mustard & Onion, Jalapeño Jack, Sesame) have been joined by new Sriracha Lime.

    Discover more at PretzelCrisps.com.
     
    More sriracha to watch for:

  • Rogue Ales has added a sriracha beer to its line-up.
  • UV Vodka has introduced sriracha-flavored vodka.
  • Kettle brands sells sriracha chips.
  • Heinz has just launched Sriracha Tomato Ketchup.
  • Jack Links and other beef jerky brands feature a sriracha flavor.
  • Sugar Plum and other chocolatiers are making sriracha-infused chocolates.
  • Even fast food is taking it on: Pizza Hut is offering a honey sriracha sauce, and Taco Bell has debuted the Sriracha Quesarito.
  •  
    And we wouldn’t be surprised if American mayonnaise manufacturers hop on the sriracha bandwagon, following the mainstream expansion of sriracha mayonnaise beyond Japanese markets. (It’s the mayo used in spicy rolls at sushi bars.)

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roots & Shoots

    Even when nature isn’t in full bloom, you can add interest to meals by seeking out less ordinary versions of conventional foods.

    All you have to do is look for them—at specialty produce stores, farmers markets and online (check out Melissas.com and OmahaSteaks.com, among others).

    What will you find? The bounty varies by region, but you can find these veggies nationwide:

  • Baby leeks
  • Celery root
  • Microgreens
  • Mixed potatoes
  • Multicolor* beets
  • Multicolor* bell peppers
  • Multicolor* carrots
  • Multicolor* hothouse cherry tomatoes
  • Specialty radishes
  •  
    *Typically, they’re available in orange, purple, red or yellow. You can also find white carrots and brown bell peppers and tomatoes.

       

    celery-root-salad-kaminsky-230

    A double salad: celery root remoulade topped with vinaigrette-dressed baby greens. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Purple potatoes

    Purple potatoes can be served in any style conducive to waxy potatoes. How about purple mashed potatoes! Photo by Mona Makela | IST.

     

    You may also be able to find:

  • Garlic roots
  • Garlic shoots
  • Micro popcorn shoots†
  • Pea tendrils
  •  
    Whether you use these veggies to make exciting salads, roast them for sides or more complicated vegetable recipes, most of these artisanal veggies will add color splashes to the table during the winter doldrums.

    Proteins and starches tend to be brown or beige. That’s why you need the right veggies to enliven your meals.

    There are countless vegetable recipes online; or treat yourself to a vegetable cookbook. Take a look at Williams-Sonoma’s Vegetable of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year.

     
    *Used for many years in European, popcorn shoots are gaining popularity among top chefs in the U.S. The shoots are intensely sweet and attractive. They make a surprise garnish for any dish. Here’s more about them; click the second photo.

      

    Comments

    ISSUE: Seafood Fraud

    There’s a reason you may not want to buy grouper or snapper, unless the establishment has purchased the whole fish and done its own filleting.

    Something similar goes for anything touted as wild shrimp or Gulf shrimp: There’s a 30% chance or more that it’s plain old farmed shrimp.

    It’s easy to fall victim to seafood fraud, a costly problem that won’t go away because of unscrupulous suppliers. Restaurants and retailers are victims, and unwittingly sell cheaper, mislabled varieties to consumers.

    The fraud exists when fish distributors deliberately mislable cheaper varieties for more expensive, popular ones. Imported basa and swai (whitefish species you’ve probably never heard of) are substituted for the much-in-demand grouper and snapper.

    Why the bait-and-switch? Because there isn’t enough domestic supply of the desirable varieties. Imported “fakes” are substituted, and the difference only becomes clear only after the fish is cooked. The flavor and texture is simply not as good.

    It’s easy to tell these varieties apart when they come out of the water. But once the fish is filleted, or the shrimp is cleaned, there is no head, scale, or other visual identifier to prove its variety.

    It’s not that you won’t get an edible piece of fish. It has no deleterious effect. But it won’t taste as good as the original, and you’ll the price of the better species.
     
    Studies & Solutions

       

    Fennel-Crusted-Grouper.ashx-230

    Grouper is a very popular fish, but unscrupulous dealers sell cheaper fish and claim it’s grouper. Photo of fennel-crusted grouper courtesy McCormick. Here’s the recipe.

     

    Food Hospitality, a restaurant industry website, reports on new studies conducted separately by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Oceana, the international ocean conservation organization. Both studies found extensive mislabeling problems at the wholesale level, largely focused on the easy-to-substitute species grouper and snapper.

    Last year, Oceana looked at 1,200 fish samples from across the U.S. and found that roughly one-third were mislabeled according to FDA standards. A separate study of shrimp, America’s most-consumed fish or seafood, showed that 31% of restaurants sold misrepresented products, while 41% of retail markets sold misrepresented products.

    Whatever species is being mislabled, retailers and restaurants get duped off as well as the consumer. Everyone overpays for lesser-quality fish and shellfish. Consumers, finding their dish less palatable than they had hoped, can bash the establishment online. Everyone loses.

    The FDA says that slow progress is being made on the mislabeling front. A presidential task force is looking at the problem.

     

    basa-timescolonist-230

    Basa, a type of catfish, is a cheaper fish often sold as grouper. Unfortunately, it lacks grouper’s particular flavor. Photo courtesy TimesColonist.com.

     

    But there is hope around the corner for fans of grouper.

    Checking The RNA Of The Fillet

    Researchers at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science have come up with a solution to the grouper problem. Their new product, GrouperChek, is a handheld sensor capable of sniffing out fish fraud on the fly.

    Wholesalers and others can assay seafood samples using real-time nucleic acid sequence-based amplification. The instrument identifies whether the RNA is a match.

    The researchers say the device is so sensitive, it can detect fake grouper even after the fish has been cooked, breaded and sauced.

    Hopefully, now, the seafood supplier will do this testing before agreeing to buy the fish.

    And hopefully, devices will be developed to test shrimp and other often-misrepresented species. Finally, there may be a cessation of the passing off of inferior species, which causes restaurants and retailers to unwittingly mislead and overcharge customers.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Black Radish

    As part of our Winter Vegetable Doldrums Series, today’s focus is the black radish*, Raphanus sativus niger. It’s a member of the anti-carcinogenic Brassica family of cruciferous† vegetables.

    Available year round, black radishes peak in winter and early spring. Significantly larger than traditional radishes, it average threes to four inches in diameter or length, and can be round or cylindrical and elongated, depending upon the variety.

    The skin is black or dark brown and the flesh is familiarly radishy, crisp, white and slightly bitter with a hot bite. A lot of the bite is int he skin, so the radish can be peeled for a milder flavor.

    SERVING IDEAS

    Black radishes can be enjoyed raw or cooked in a variety of different preparations.

  • Sauté or braise them as a side dish.
  • Cook them like turnips, and toss with butter.
  • Dice and add them to soups, stir-fries and stews. They’ll add some bite.
  • Grate or chop them into matchsticks and add to mixed green salads.
  • Slice them and add to the crudité plate.
  • Use slices as the base for canapés.
  •    

    black-radish-thechefsgarden-230

    It’s a black radish. Look for it in better produce sections (we found ours at Whole Foods) and farmers markets. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden.

     
    Here’s a general radish tip: If the radish has too much bite, you can tone down the peppery heat. Simply slice, salt and rinse with water.
     
    *Other names include Spanish radish, Gros Noir d’Hiver, Noir Gros de Paris and the Black Mooli.

    †Other Brassica family members include bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale and mustard greens, among others.

     

    black-radish-salad-thechefsgarden-230

    Black radish salad. Photo courtesy The Chef’s
    Garden.

     

    BLACK RADISH RECIPES

  • Baked Black Radish Chips Recipe
  • Blood Orange & Black Radish Salad Recipe
  • Black Radish & Potato Salad Recipe
  • Black Radish & Shrimp Salad Recipe
  • Sauteed Black Radish Recipe
  • Smoked Fish, Horseradish & Black Radish Terrine Recipe
  •  
    BLACK RADISH HISTORY & NUTRITION

    Believed to be a relative of the wild radish, the black radish was first cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean. An ancient vegetable, radishes were grown in Egypt before the pyramids were built.

    Black radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C and also provide iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, E and B. They are known for their ability to fight off infection and promote healthy digestive function. A component, raphanin, has been shown to be beneficial in treatment of thyroid imbalances. The leaves have a liver detoxifying effect.

     

    The black radish has long been used in folk medicine in both Europe and China, to stimulate bile function and improve gall bladder health promoting. In Chinese medicine, the black radish is also used to promote pulmonary and respiratory health.

    To store black radishes, remove the greens and wrap the bulbs in plastic. They will keep crisp if refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Carrots & Peas

    Here’s some food fun that was created at the 2014 Roots Conference held by the Culinary Vegetable Institute.

    In Project Carrot, gifted chefs took a look at the under-utilized yet extremely versatile carrot, creating everything from cocktails to Carrot Rigatoni with Carrot Bolognese.

    While this photo looks like pasta, it is trompe l’oeil: What looks like carrot fettucine is actually made of long strands of blanched carrots. The “English peas” are an emulsion of English peas (a technique that essentially adds oil to pea purée so that it keeps the round shape).

    To create this dish requires some culinary chops. But if your kitchen techniques are less than professional level, you can still make your own version of “Carrots and Peas”—with actual carrot pasta and green peas.

    Start with some Barilla Veggie Pasta, made from puréed carrots and tomatoes (each serving has 20% of your daily requirement of vegetables). Serve it with a green pea pasta sauce an a scattering of green peas (they’re not yet in season, so go for frozen rather than canned).

    If you prefer, you can make a version of the Carrot Bolognese Sauce, adding five chopped carrots to the popular tomato sauce with ground beef. Here’s a recipe.

     

    carrots-and-peas-food-fun-thechefsgarden-230

    A new approach to carrots and peas. Photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden | Culinary Vegetable Institute.

     

    You can also use a classic tomato-based sauce, a carrot sauce (substitute carrots for peas in the green pea sauce recipe) or a simple dressing of butter or olive oil. Just scatter those peas on top!

    The Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI), located in Milan, Ohio, is devoted to sustainable agriculture and building strong relationship between farmer and chef, is a premier venue for the finest in culinary experiences including dinners, wine tasting, weddings, events and functions. The combination of our commitment to

    Here are the other creations from Project Carrot.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Banana Bread

    banana-bread-chips-nuts-LuluDurand-230

    Banana bread with chocolate chips and nuts.
    We highly recommend the optional chocolate
    glaze in the recipe (not shown). Photo
    by Lulu Durand | IST.

     

    You’d think we could get a decent piece of banana bread in this town, but it’s surprisingly tough. Most of what we purchase at specialty food stores has only a nodding acquaintance with bananas. With no banana punch but a high level of spices, it could be zucchini bread.

    One does do better at bakeries; but alas, bakeries are fast becoming extinct here due to low margins and astounding rents. So since today is National Banana Bread Day, grab the bananas and a loaf pan and start baking.

    One reason that some recipes fall short on banana flavor is that the recipe requires overripe bananas. When they’re brown and splotchy and unappealing, that’s when you want to bake. The more brown/overripe, the sweeter the banana flavor.

    A trick for always having the perfect ripeness on hand: Buy the bananas before you need them. (If you’re lucky, you’ll find overripe ones that have been marked down.) Once they become overripe, peel them, wrap them tightly and freeze them. They thaw quickly at room temperature when you’re ready to bake.

    We always bake a double batch and put the second one in the freezer; although work colleagues, hairdressers, friends and neighbors would be grateful for a slice.

    This recipe was adapted from one by Charles Masters for the Food Network.

     
    Ingredients For the Bread

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup mashed banana (2-3 very ripe bananas)
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

    2. COMBINE the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the chocolate chips.

    3. WHISK the eggs, melted butter, sour cream, vanilla and orange zest in a medium bowl. Stir in the mashed banana, then fold the mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.

    4. ADD the batter to the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan on a rack, then turn the bread out onto the rack to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Pour over the cooled banana bread and let set, 15 to 20 minutes.

     

    overripe-bananas-bakinglibrary.blogspot-230

    Make banana bread with overripe bananas. These are just beginning to get ripe enough. The splotchier, the better. Photo courtesy Baking Library | Blogspot.

     

    DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “BREAD” & CAKE

    There is a transition between sweet breads and lower-sugar cakes that are baked in loaf pans, such as carrot bread and banana bread.

    What’s the difference between a banana bread and a banana cake? The obvious difference is that the bread is baked in a loaf pan while the cake is baked in a round, square or rectangular cake pan.

    A less obvious distinction is that the bread style of cake, as a quickbread*, is leavened with baking soda instead of yeast, which makes them quicker to rise.

    In general, loaf cakes or “breads” also have a denser crumb, a rougher texture and often less sugar than their cake counterparts.

    While the origin of the “bread” style of cake is unknown, food historians believe that it was originated in the 18th century with housewives experimenting with pearl ash. Banana bread became common in American cookbooks in the 1930s, with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder, and very popular in the 1960s, when variations with simple inclusions (nuts, chocolate morsels) created simple but delicious snack cakes.

     
    *Other quickbread examples include biscuits, cornbread, muffins, scones and soda bread.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cherry Cheesecake With Chocolate Glaze

    chocolate-cherry-cheesecake-bettycrocker-230

    Cherry cheesecake with chocolate accents.
    Photo and recipe courtesy Betty Crocker.

     

    Next in our choice of cherry recipes for Washington’s Birthday (February 22nd) is a cherry cheesecake with a twist: a chocolate crust and chocolate glaze.

    Prep time for this Betty Crocker recipe is just 35 minutes, plus another 5 hours and 50 minutes for baking and chilling.

    You can make this recipe ahead of time and freeze it. To do so, first bake the cheesecake; cool and glaze. Freeze it until the glaze is set. Then wrap it tightly and freeze it for up to 1 month. Before serving, unwrap and thaw the cheesecake in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.

    RECIPE: CHERRY CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

    Ingredients For The Crust

  • 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 can or jar (21 ounces) cherry pie filling—or make your own with the recipe below
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. In medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients; mix well. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 10-inch springform pan.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the sugar and almond extract until smooth. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream; blend well.

    3. SPOON 3-1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture into crust-lined pan, spreading evenly. Carefully spoon 1 cup of the pie filling evenly overthe cream cheese layer (reserve remaining pie filling for the topping). Spoon the remaining cream cheese mixture evenly over the pie filling.

    4. BAKE for 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until the center is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour.

    5. MAKE the glaze: In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup whipping cream to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate chips until melted.

    6. LINE a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Remove the side of the springform pan. Place the cheesecake on the paper-lined cookie sheet. Spread the glaze over the cooled cheesecake, allowing some to flow down the side.

    7. REFRIGERATE at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve topped with the remaining pie filling.

     

    MAKE YOUR OWN CHERRY PIE FILLING

    Some brands of pie filling are distinctly better than others. A safe bet is to pick up an organic brand. The extra cost is worth it.

    For a luxury experience, we use a jar of sour cherry pie filling from Chukar Cherries (it’s $14.95).

    But if your discriminating palate doesn’t like any canned cherry filling, it’s easy to make your own with just 20 minutes of prep time, and 1 hour 10 minutes of cook time.

    RECIPE: CHERRY PIE FILLING

    Ingredients For An 8-Inch Pie

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen tart (Montmorency) cherries; or canned cherries in water (see photo at right)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 tablespoon almond extract (optional)
  •  

    oregon-specialty-fruit-red-tart-cherries-230

    Make your own cherry filling with fresh or frozen cherries, or canned cherries in water. Photo courtesy Oregon Specialty Fruit.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cherries in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer. After the cherries lose considerable juice (several minutes—stir occasionally), remove from the heat.

    2. COMBINE in a small bowl the sugar and cornstarch. Pour into the hot cherries and combine thoroughly. Add the almond extract and stir. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water. It it’s too thin, add a bit more cornstarch.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cherry Home Fries

    fried-w-cherry-homefries-choosecherries-230

    Cherry home fries. Photo courtesy ChooseCherries.com.

     

    One of our beefs with Presidents Day is that it obliterates the birthdays of two great presidents, Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and George Washington (February 22nd).

    Both birthdays used to be bank, government and school holidays. In 1971, both presidential holidays were shifted to the third Monday in February and combined as the vague Presidents Day, to allow federal employees a three-day weekend. Hmpf.

    It’s tough to tie a food story to Lincoln, who ate only “incidentally.” He grew up poor without an excess of food. As an adult, he was so focused on work, it was tough to get him to eat at all. When he did eat, he nibbled simply, on apples, nuts, cheese and crackers.

    Although he never chopped down the apocryphal cherry tree, George Washington grew up the son of a wealthy planter, with all the victuals he could desire. While he was no foodie, he did in fact love cherries and other fruits from the groves of Mount Vernon.

    So we’re keeping up with the tradition of cherry recipes, starting with an unusual one:

     
    Cherry home fries! These use dried tart cherries, which play off nicely against the potatoes as well as eggs. We particularly like them with scrambled eggs or omelets. For extra fun, we made a jelly omelet with fresh goat cheese (you can use cream cheese) and cherry preserves.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: CHERRY HOME FRIES

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 2/3 to 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 5 medium waxy potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (plus 1 to 2 tablespoons extra, as needed)
  • Optional: 1 to 2 teaspoons crushed red chiles or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SAUTÉ the cherries and onions over low to medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the onions become a deep brown. While onions and tart cherries are cooking…

    2. BOIL the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain.

    3. ADD the potatoes to the skillet with the cherries and onions. Add extra oil if needed. Sauté for 5 minutes on high until the potatoes are crisp.

    4. SEASON with salt, pepper and chiles to taste.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mushroom Salad

    You may be chomping at the bit for the first spring vegetables to arrive in the market (we’re waiting for asparagus and ramps). But until then, there is veggie excitement to be had; and we’ll be talking about them for the next two days.

    Mushrooms offer flavorful excitement, and are a cook’s delight: They absorb a lot of flavor quickly, and can be prepared in so many ways. For starters, consider:

  • Carpaccio (try this recipe from chef Claire Robinson)
  • Casseroles
  • Fried (try these portobello fries)
  • Omelets, scrambled eggs
  • Mushrooms Parmigiania, prepared like Eggplant Parmigiania
  • Quesadillas
  • Pasta dishes (add it to fettuccine, lasagna, ramen, ravioli, anything)
  • Risotto or pilaf
  • Roasted or grilled
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Sautéed alone (with red wine and fresh herbs!) or with other favorites (broccoli, spinach, turnips, whatever)
  • Sautéed with any protein (Chicken Marsala is a favorite)
  •    

    cooked-mushroom-salad-olionyc-230

    Mushroom salad atop a bed of baby arugula. Photo courtesy Olio e Piú | New York City.

  • Soup (try cream of mushroom with chunks of sautéed mushrooms)
  • Stews/ragouts
  • Stuffed, with vegetarian, cheese, meat or seafood fillings (try bacon or sausage)
  • Stuffing, savory bread pudding, savory tarts, crostini
  • Topping for grains or polenta and of course, pizza
  •  

    Today’s tip requires no cooking; that is, no heat. It’s marinated mushrooms, also known as mushroom salad: delicious as an appetizer, a side, a sandwich topper or as part of an antipasto.

    You can add other raw vegetables; we’ve provided options below.

    Marinated mushrooms can be made with any mushroom (here are the different mushroom types). Unless you’ve got deep pockets, go for the least expensive, which are typically white button mushrooms. Smaller are better, since you’ll be cutting them up.

    Of course, you an use any mushroom: cremini, oyster, portabello, shiitake or a mixture. We’ve even used enoki mushrooms for an exotic garnish.

    The only given is that the mushrooms be fresh. Those that are beginning to brown or wither are best used in a cooked dish.

     

    marinated-mush-tahini-yogurt-colliersmarket-230r

    Marinated mushrooms with walnut and tahini
    yogurt. Photo courtesy Collier’s Market. Here’s
    the recipe.

     

    RECIPE: RAW MUSHROOM SALAD

  • 1 8-ounce container white mushrooms (or other mushroom)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon wine or sherry vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh herbs (basil, chives, dill, oregano, parsley, thyme), minced (we use two different herbs)
  • Optional ingredients for color: diced red pepper or pimento, red onions, sliced green onions or chives
  • Optional ingredients for variety: broccoli or cauliflower florets, edamame, sliced olives
  • Optional heat: 1 chili, seeded and white pith removed, finely sliced
  • Baby arugula, baby spinach, mesclun, watercress or lettuce/cabbage cups
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CLEAN the mushrooms and pat dry. Place in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the sea salt. Toss to coat thoroughly. Let stand for about 30 minutes so the salt can remove excess water from the mushrooms. Brush any remaining salt from the mushrooms.

    2. COMBINE the marinade ingredients in a bowl: olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest, pepper and herbs. Toss the mushrooms in the marinade to coat. (We don’t add salt at this stage because of the residue salt from the mushrooms.)

    3. COVER the bowl refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

    4. SERVE as desired. We enjoy it atop a bed of greens or in a lettuce cup.

    Variation

    Try this recipe for Marinated Mushrooms with Walnut and Tahini Yogurt from Kristin Collier of the blog ColliersMarket.com.

      

    Comments

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