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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: Wine Glass Types

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Ideally, you’ll have three wine-specific
glasses for red, white and sparkling. Photo
courtesy Brinvy.biz.

 

“Why the different shapes and sizes of wine glasses?” writes a reader. “Can’t I just use one generic glass?”

The bottom line is: You can serve wine in a juice glass, if that’s what you have. It’s how wine is served in many working class eateries the world over.

Just as you can drink soup from a bowl or a mug, you can drink wine from a tea cup, a vessel used by some during Prohibition lest the neighbors spot them drinking alcohol.

But for more elegant consumption that helps show off the qualities of the wine, three different shapes work best. Here’s why:

Larger Bowl Wine Glasses For Red Wine

Red wine glasses hold a minimum of 12 ounces. The wider bowl shape allows the wine to breathe more, opening up the flavors of red wine.

Those balloon glasses at 24 ounces may look impressive and appeal to major imbibers; but they take extra space to store, extra care to wash, and are more showy than useful.

 
Narrower Bowl Wine Glasses For White Wine

White wine glasses range between 10 and 12 ounces. The shape’s narrower bowl helps to keep the wine cool longer.
 

Flutes For Sparkling Wine

Champagne and other sparkling wines are best served in an 8- to 12-ounce flute. The narrow shape keeps the bubbles from dissipating quickly (which is exactly what happens in a Champagne coupe), and focuses the bubbles to rise in a festive display.

In some better stemware lines, tiny dimples are etched into the bottom of the bowl, which produce more bubbles and help to improve the way it tastes.

In fact, the added effervescence increases the volatile compounds that are released when the bubbles burst, enhancing the bouquet.

 

The Science Of Stemware

For some time, the design of the best wine glasses has been a matter of science. At Riedel, the pioneer in stemware engineering and the glass of choice among connoisseurs, the bowls are designed to show off the qualities of each style of wine, enhancing the flavors and aromas. It’s scientific, and it works (it’s easy to do a side-by-side comparison between Riedel and a generic glass).
 
More Wine Glass Tips

Stems. The stem length will vary based on the designer. While tall stems look elegant, they may not be the most comfortable to hold. Also consider if they will fit easily into your cabinet and, if you hope to wash them mechanically, your dishwasher. On a similar plane, novelty stems—in the shape of cubes or diamonds, for example—are not as easy to hold.

Bowl designs. Avoid colors and designs. If you’re serious about wine, you need to be able to focus on the subtleties of its color.

Engineering. Experts look for thinner glass and a lip that curves in slightly to focus the aroma.

A final tip: Wine glasses should be filled only about two-thirds full, not to the brim.

 

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Riedel engineers each glass to show of the quality of the varietal—Cabernet versus Zinfandel, for example. Photo courtesy Riedel USA.

 

  

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RECIPE: Gourmet Potato Tots (A.K.A. Tater Tots)

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Heaven: sandwich, beer, potato tots. Photo
courtesy Red Duck Ketchup.

 

They’re not quite senior citizens, but Tater Tots® hit the big 6-0 this year. You could buy a box to celebrate, or you could make your own, tastier tots—bite-size potato croquettes—from scratch.

The Idaho Potato Commission salutes the tot as both an inspired potato product and a springboard for potato creativity. Its website boasts a collection of innovative tot recipes and variations on the theme.

For example, enhance the potato mixture with:

ROBUST SEASONINGS

  • Aromatics, such as truffles
  • Herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme)
  • Onion or scallion—lots more than in Tater Tots*
  •  
    ELABORATE STUFFINGS

    Stuffed Tots with elaborate fillings:

  • Simple proteins (crumbled bacon, shredded crab, Parmesan, blue cheese)
  • Braised pork
  • Curried chicken
  •  
    HEARTY TOPPINGS

  • Breakfast scrambles
  • Chili
  • Nachos
  • Poutine (brown gravy and cheese curds†)
  •  
    *The ingredients in Tater Tots are potato, vegetable oil, salt, corn flour, onions, dextrose (a simple sugar also known as glucose), disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (an antioxidant that prevents potatoes from turning brown) and natural flavoring.

    *Traditional poutine consists of these toppings on fries, but we’re borrowing them for tots.
     

    TATER TOTS VS. POTATO TOTS

    The term Tater Tots is used generically, like Kleenex; although it’s a trademark of Ore-Ida, which invented the little potato bites in 1953. If you’re referring to anything but the Tater Tots brand, call them “potato tots.”

    Tater Tots are made from deep-fried, grated potatoes, resulting in crisp little cylinders of hash brown-style potatoes. Tater is American dialect for potato, and “tots” came from their small size.

    Ore-Ida founders, brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, were considering what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes from their signature French fries. They chopped them up, mixed them with flour and seasonings, and pushed logs of the grated/mashed potato mixture through a form, slicing off and frying small pieces.

    Tater Tots began to arrive in grocery stores in 1954. They quickly caught on as a snack food, a side dish and the foundation for casseroles at dinner tables across America.

    The Ore-Ida brand was acquired by H. J. Heinz Company in 1965.

     

    LOADED POTATO TOTS

    This potato tot recipe borrows from the “loaded baked potato” concept, adding bacon, chives, shredded cheese and sour cream.

    Ingredients

  • 2½ pounds russet potatoes, divided
  • 2 ounces bacon, double-smoked, cooked, chopped
  • 6 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, as needed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 each eggs, lightly whipped
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  •  

    loaded-potato-tots-idahopotatocomm-230r

    Loaded Potato Tots. Photo and recipe courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. BOIL 2 pounds of potatoes. Cool, peel and mash.

    2. COMBINE bacon, cheese, chives, butter, cream, pepper and salt to taste in a large bowl; blend well. Roll into 1-ounce pieces, place on wax paper-lined sheet pan and chill overnight.

    3. SHRED remaining potatoes, using a box grater, into a shallow bowl.

    4. PLACE flour in another shallow bowl. Roll potato tots in flour to lightly coat then coat in egg. Roll in shredded potatoes to form crust. Return to sheet pan and chill.

    5. HEAT oil to 375°F in a heavy-bottomed pot, and fry balls until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel to drain. Season with salt and serve.
     

    AND THERE’S MORE

  • Recipe: Baked Potato Tots
  • History of potatoes
  • Potato Types
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Nutella French Toast

    nutella-jam-french-toast-bauli-230

    Nutella, jam and panettone French toast.
    Photo courtesy Bauli.

     

    Panettone (pah-neh-TOE-nay) began in medieval Italy as a Christmas bread; but today, the fluffy yellow yeast bread variously filled with raisins, other dried fruit and orange peel, is available year-round. There’s also a version with chocolate bits—an ingredient not available until the latter half of the 19th century.

    Bauli, whose panettone are imported into the U.S., creates year-round recipes Raspberry Jam & Hazelnut Spread Stuffed Panettone French Toast.

    We have more panettone recipes, too: Panettone Bread Puddin, Panettone Classic French Toast and a Panettone Nutella Sandwich.

    RECIPE: PANETTONE FRENCH TOAST WITH NUTELLA & JAM

    Think of this as the most indulgent peanut butter and jelly sandwich you’ve ever had—except that it’s chocolate hazelnut spread instead of peanut spread.

    You can make it for breakfast, but also eat it for dessert.

     
    Ingredients For 2 French Toast Sandwiches

    For The Whipped Cream

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  •  
    For The French Toast

  • ½ cup milk or cream
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 slices Bauli Panettone, left out overnight if possible
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  •  
    For The Filling

  • ¼ cup hazelnut spread
  • ¼ cup raspberry jam or preserves
  •  

    Preparation

    1. WHIP the cream and vanilla with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and mix until incorporated.

    2. WHISK together the milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Soak Panettone slices in mixture for 30 seconds on each side. Place bread into the pan and cook until bottom is golden and crisp. Turn, and repeat with other side. Repeat with all of the bread, keeping it warm in a 200° oven.

    3. SPREAD 2 tablespoons of hazelnut spread and 2 tablespoons of jam on two of the bread slices. Top with remaining slices and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Serve warm.
     

    ABOUT PANETTONE

    Panettone is a medieval Italian Christmas yeast bread, filled with candied fruits and raisins. The Milanese specialty, is tall, dome-shaped and airy, in contrast to the other famous Christmas bread, panforte, which is is short and dense (although there is a less common, flat version of panettone).

     

    bauli-panettone-box-230

    Panettone: It’s not just for the holidays! Photo courtesy Bauli.

     
    Panettone means “large loaf” in Italian. While the origins of a sweet leavened bread date back to Roman times, and a tall, leavened fruitcake can be seen in a 16th century painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, the first known mention of panettone with Christmas is found in the 18th century writings of Pietro Verri, who refers to it as “pane di tono.”

    The dough is cured for several days (like sourdough), giving the cake its distinctive fluffiness. Raisins, candied orange peel, citron and lemon zest, are added dry; some modern versions add chocolate (which was not available when the recipe originated); others are plain.

    The classic Panettone accompaniment is a sweet hot beverage or a sweet wine such as spumante or moscato; but any dessert wine will do. Some Italians add a side of crema di mascarpone, a cream made from mascarpone cheese, eggs, and amaretto (or you can substitute zabaglione).
     
    SEE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAD IN OUR BREAD GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Donut Ice Cream Sandwich

    holey-cream-donut-c-jean-philippe-gerbi-230sq

    A donut ice cream sandwich from Holey
    Donuts in New York City. Photo ©
    Jean-Philippe Garbi.

     

    Holey Cream in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City (a block west of the theatre district) is known for its donut ice cream sandwiches.

    Customers pick up to three flavors of ice cream (standards and specialties like coffee mud pie, dulce de leche and red velvet), the icing flavor (chocolate or vanilla) and the topping—many choices from M&Ms and sprinkles to gummi bears.

    But you know how to slice a donut and scoop ice cream. Make your own!

    Thanks so much to Jean-Philippe Garbi for taking this yummy photo. We could almost eat it—but instead, we’re heading down to Holey Donuts at lunch time.

    MORE DONUT SANDWICHES

    A little less appetizing, to our eye, are the nine donut sandwiches featured in Women’s Day magazine.

     
    They range from a bacon cheeseburger with peanut butter on a glazed Krispy Kreme to Sloppy Joe on the same.

    Take a look.
     
    DONUT SANDWICH TRIVIA

    Paula Deen is [in]famous for creating The Lady’s Brunch Burger: hamburger, bacon and a sunnyside-up fried egg sandwiched between two Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.

    To add alarm, it is served with a side of cheesy fries.

    We’ll stick with the ice cream donut—thank you very much.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Asian Vinaigrette

    Hungering for a salad dressing served at a local Asian restaurant, we made our own this weekend. It was so easy and delicious, we made up an extra-large batch to keep on hand for regular use.
     
    For lunch we tossed it with a package of shredded cabbage, essentially creating Asian cole slaw to go with sandwiches. Delicious! That evening, we served it with a conventional romaine tossed salad, with bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and red onions (plus some dried cranberries and slivered almonds we wanted to use up).

    This vinaigrette awaits everything from mesclun to Asian chicken salad, steamed vegetables to steamed rice.

    RECIPE: ASIAN VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons dark sesame oil*
  • 9 tablespoons canola or other salad oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ clove garlic, crushed
  • Optional: dash of sriracha or other hot sauce
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Optional: fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
  •  

    balsamic-vinaigrette-33073960-JuanMonino-230

    Asian vinaigrette is delicious on any salad. Photo by Juan Monino | IST.

     
    *About The Oil

    We love the flavor of Asian dark sesame oil. It’s very strong, so you only need a touch. We mix a smaller proportion of it with a larger proportion canola oil; you can use your salad oil of choice.

    Don’t try to solve the problem by purchasing light sesame oil: The ones we’ve had tend to be bland and don’t deliver delicious sesame flavor.

    You can use olive oil instead of canola—but not your best EVOO, since the sesame flavor will cover up its flavor nuances.
     
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the ingredients together in a bowl (or use a blender). Let stand for 30 minutes or more to let the flavors meld.

    2. WHISK again before serving.

      

    Comments

    RESTAURANT: Fast Casual Indian Food At Baluchi’s Fresh

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    Cauliflower so good, people who never eat
    it will beg for more. Photos were taken at a
    reception where the food was served party-
    style. Photo courtesy Baluchi’s Fresh.

     

    Baluchi’s Fresh promises to change the way New Yorkers think about Indian food. Established by the son of a New York-based Indian restaurant family (including Devi, the first Michelin star Indian restaurant in the U.S.), it brings fresh, high quality Indian food (including hormone-free meats) to a fast food venue.

    There are rice bowls, wraps, salads and sides, using only farm-fresh vegetables; vegetarian and vegan options.

    Everything is so delicious, we can easily skip the china, silverware and ambiance and dash in whenever we need a fix of flavorful Indian fare.

    The vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices are in top form, representing both traditional dishes and street food (chaat). They include favorites such as:

  • Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Rogan Josh, Goan Shrimp, Goat Currry.
  • Vegetarian choices such as Aloo Papri, Bhel Puri, Cauliflower Manchurian, Chana Masala, Daal, Kale & Onion Pakoras, Masala Fries, Paneer Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer and Tandoori Stuffed Aloo.
  •  
    There are meat and vegetarian samosas, daily specials, and absolutely celestial onion naan, hot from the tandoor oven.

     

    Baluchi’s Fresh is located in Manhattan at 37 West 43rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The hours are:

  • Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 midnight.
  • Sunday 12 noon to 10 p.m.
  •  
    For more information and daily specials call 1.212.921.7979. The website is coming soon.

    You can take out or eat in; delivery is in the works. Baluchi’s Fresh is a great addition to the neighborhood. We hope the concept spreads far and wide.

     

    WHAT’S IN THE RECIPE?

    Here’s a quick demystification of the dishes served at Baluchi’s Fresh:

  • Aloo Papri: potato crisps.
  • Bhel Puri: puffed rice and vegetables in a tangy tamarind sauce.
  • Chana Masala: spicy chickpeas.
  • Dal: spicy lentils.
  • Chicken Tikka Masala: roasted chunks of chicken in a spicy, creamy sauce colored orange with tomato paste.
  • Goan Shrimp: tangy, spicy sauteed shrimp with coriander, cumin and coconut.
  • Lamb Rogan Josh: braised lamb chunks in a brown gravy of garlic, ginger, onions, yogurt and aromatic spices.
  • Naan: a leavened and puffy oven-baked flatbread.
  • Pakora: fritter.
  •  

    bhel-puri-230

    Bhel puri, made with puffed rice. Photo courtesy Baluchi’s Fresh.

  • Paneer Tikka Masala: cubed paneer (a fresh Indian cheese) in spiced sauce.
  • Saag Paneer: paneer cheese in a spinach sauce (or other dark green, such as broccoli or mustard greens.
  • Samosa: a savory stuffed, fried pastry.
  • Tandoori Stuffed Aloo: potatoes stuffed with paneer and spices.
  •  

    Now, head to Baluchi’s Fresh and try them all for yourself!

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Matcha To Go

    aiya-matcha-to-go-pkg-230

    “Instant” matcha tea: a luxury we love.
    Photo courtesy Aiya-America.

     

    “Japanese Matcha Remade For The Modern World,” says the box of Matcha To Go.

    Isn’t that the truth! Until very recently, matcha, the ceremonial powdered green tea of Japan, was consumed only by whisking

    Matcha to Go, imported from Japan, is produced to dissolve in a glass of hot or cold water or in your water bottle—no whisking required. The vibrant green color is unmistakably matcha, as is the color.

    The 100% matcha tea is blended with some dietary fiber, which eliminates clumping, whether you stir it with a spoon or shake it in a water bottle. It couldn’t be easier.

    We received two individual packets as a sample. We’ve finished them, and placed an order for more on Amazon.

    It isn’t inexpensive: A box of 10 single serving packets is $21.99. Matcha is a pricey tea in general.

    Matcha To Go is a luxury we’re willing to spring for.

     

    MATCHA TEA BENEFITS

    Matcha is the only tea that is ground into fine powder form, and incorporates the entire tea leaf; the powder is whisked into water to create a frothy drink.

    Other teas are consumed via steeping the tea leaves with hot water. The water is infused with the essence of the tea leaves, but the leaves themselves are disposed of.

    Only a small portion of the health benefits of tea are water soluble. According to Aiya, makers of Matcha To Go, depending on the tea variety and preparation, only 10% to 20% of the healthy nutrients are consumed when drinking steeped tea.

    Thus, matcha is far more healthful than other teas, delivering many more green tea antioxidants, amino acids including L-Theanine, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Here’s a comparison chart from the manufacturer:

    matcha-nutrition-comparison-aiya-america

    Find more matcha health information at Aiya-America.com.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Cider Instead Of Beer

    Instead of beer, try hard cider. It’s a natural for quaffing or food pairing, and replaces the flavors of malt and hops with apple or pear (cider made with pears is called perry).

    First, the difference between hard cider and fresh cider.

  • Hard cider is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from the unfiltered juice of apples. The alcohol content varies from a low 1.2% ABV* to 8.5% or higher—some imported ciders can be up to 12% ABV, an average level for table wines.
  • Fresh apple cider is raw apple juice, typically unfiltered. Thus, it is cloudy from the remnants of apple pulp. It is also typically more flavorful than apple juice—although of course, the particular blend of apples used in either has a big impact on the taste.
  • Apple juice has been filtered to remove pulp solids, then pasteurized for longer shelf life.
  •  
    *ABV is alcohol by volume. It is doubled to get the proof. For example, a 40% ABV spirit is 80 proof.

     

    bottle-glass-original-230

    Classic Crispin. Photo courtesy Crispin Cider Company.

     
    While it may not seem so today, America has a history of hard cider. The English who originally settled the country brought their love of cider, and America was a hard cider country until the 19th century.

    Then, waves of German immigration brought the lager makers, and soon enough more Americans were lifting steins of beer instead.

    Prohibition dealt hard cider a final blow from which it is just now making a comeback, with impressive annual growth figures. Aiding the effort is Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams beer and the Angry Orchard cider brand.

    Since Prohibition, “cider” in the U.S. has referred to the unfermented, unpasteurized apple juice; with “hard cider” used to indicate the alcoholic beverage. In the U.K. it is the opposite, with “cider” indicating the alcoholic drink for which special cider apples are used.

    CIDER VERSUS BEER

    Cider is a gluten-free option; beer is made from gluten-rich grains. However, beer is sugar-free, while cider can be quite high in sugar.

  • Crispin, one of our favorite brands, has 15 grams (three teaspoons) of sugar per serving. Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple jumps to 23 grams (7 teaspoons of sugar).
  • Dryer ciders contain less sugar and carbs, and a higher alcohol content because the yeast have been allowed to consume the majority of the natural sugars and convert them to alcohol.
  •  
    Comparatively, the calories in beer versus hard are similar higher; but cider is higher in carbohydrates due to the higher levels of sugar.

     

    angry-orchard-cinnful-6pack-230

    Angry Orchard’s Cinnful Apple has a touch of
    cinnamon. Photo courtesy Boston Brewing
    Company.

     

    CIDER APPLES ARE DIFFERENT

    Cider can be made from any variety of apple, but the better ciders are typically blends of culinary apples—the kinds we eat—and cider apples, which are not palatable to humans. Cider makers balance the flavors of different apples and different proportions to produce their blends.

  • Culinary apples are fruits with a juicy, luscious apple character. The varieties used contribute sweetness as well as a bright acidity, which provides part of the crisp, refreshing backbone. Examples include Braeburn, Elstar, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonagold and Red Delicious.
  • Bittersweet apples are grown solely for making cider. These apples provide more complexity and wine-like characteristics to a cider, like grapes do to a wine, imparting aroma and contributing to the color. They also provide acidity, tannins that impact mouth feel, astringency, and real fruity cider notes. Bittersweet apples in the blend are often unfamiliar to us. For example, Angry Orchard uses French varieties called Amere de Berthecourt, Beden, Binet Rouge, Brairtot Fuji, Medaille d’or and Michelin.
  •  

    CIDER HISTORY

    In the days before refrigeration, fresh juice would spoil quickly. The only option to preserve it was to ferment it into cider; the alcohol acts as a preservative.

    Man has fermented fruit into alcohol since prehistory. But apple cider was raised to an art in France and the U.K. Apple trees were plentiful in both areas. The Romans, arriving in force in Britain in 43 C.E., introduced apple cultivation.

    But it was another group of invaders, the Normans, who improved cider making, following their conquest of England in 1066. Apple juice had been fermented into an alcoholic drink earlier in English history, under the Anglo-Saxons. The Normans (from Normandy, France), improved the drink by using cider-specific apples.

    The beverage grew in popularity, new varieties of apples were introduced, and cider began to replace wine (the English climate favors apples over grapes). Every farm grew cider apple trees as well as culinary apples, and in the 18th century it became customary to pay part of a farm laborer’s wage in cider.

    How did cider get its name? The English word “cider” comes from the Old French sidre, which in turn was adapted from medieval Latin sicera, based on the Greek sikera, from the Hebrew shekar, meaning “strong drink.” What we call fresh cider (not fermented) was known as ciderkin or water-cider.
     

    It’s time to have a glass!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ají Sauce

    Hot sauce lovers should take a closer look at ají sauce, a standard in Ecuador and Peru. Aji amarillo is one of the most common types of chiles in the area, and is also one of the most important ingredients in the two countries.

    While, like all salsas, there are as many variations as there are cooks, a basic ají criollo is made from the ají amarillo (yellow ají*), along with cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.

    Each region and city has its own unique recipe. For example, ají de tomate de árbol—tree tomato or tamarillo ají—uses tamarillo as well as ají amarillo. (A recipe is below.)

    Andrés Dávila, executive chef of Casa Gangotena, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top Ten Hotel, offers tourists a journey through the different types of ají, with a selection of six sauces carefully paired with a dish that heightens the flavors of the local cuisine. He’s also sent us a standard recipe so you can make your own.

    Great for sauces and to kick up any meal with a great flavor and medium heat. Chewing on the chiles adds more heat.

  • Ají mixed with passion fruit, which colors the sauce a spectacular yellow, goes well paired with chicken or pork.
  • Ají with sambo squash seeds, a light green cream with a subtle smell and taste that goes well with white meats.
  •    

    aji-amarillo-perudelights-230r

    Ají amarillo, in shades of yellow and orange. Photo courtesy PeruDelights.com.

  • Manaba-style pickled ají, flavored and colored with carrots, is the perfect accompaniment to fish.
  • Orange ají is made with tree tomato (tamarillo) and chochos (lupines).
  • Purple ají, colored with beets, has a complex layering of fruit vinegar, grated carrots and pickle slices, goes well with both seafood and red meats.
  •  
    PICK UP A JAR OF AJÍ AMARILLO (YELLOW AJÍ) PASTE

    You can probably find a jar of ají paste in the Latin foods section of your supermarket. Goya makes it, of course, and you can find specialty brands such as Costa Peruana and Inca’s Food online.

    Aji paste is simply a purée of fresh ajis. “American fusion” uses include:

  • Mix a tablespoon with a cup of Alfredo or other white sauce, red sauce or brown sauce or gravy.
  • Add to soup (including chicken soup).
  • Add to a ceviche marinade.
  • Mix into condiments to add flavor and heat.
  •  
    *While ají is Spanish for chile pepper and amarillo means yellow, the color changes to orange as the chiles mature. You can see the deepening colors in the photo above.

     

    aji-amarillo-paste-incasfood-230

    Add bold flavor to many dishes with ají
    amarillo (yellow chile) paste. Photo courtesy
    Inca’s Food.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE AJÍ SAUCE

    This classic ají sauce combines tree tomato (tamarillo), ají amarillo and chochos (lupines, or lupin beans). Lupins are a large yellow Italian bean. You can substitute lima beans or fava beans for the lupins.

    Ingredients

  • 4-5 tomatillos
  • 2 ajís (you can substitute serranos or other red chilies, or yellow habaneros for extra heat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: cooked and peeled chochos (lupin beans)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the tomatillos and boil them for 5 minutes.

    2. BLEND the tomatillos with ají chiles. For a milder sauce, seed and devein the chiles. You can always save a few seeds and add them in if it’s too mild.

    3. TRANSFER the mix to a small sauce pan, add the water (you can add more if you want a more liquid sauce) and cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. You can also skip the cooking part; the sauce will be fresher in taste, but will need to be consumed more quickly.

    4. ADD the onion, lime juice, cilantro, optional chochos and salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.

    VARIATION: Replace the water with oil (avocado, light olive oil or a mild flavored oil) for a creamier Cuencano-style ají, and do not cook it after blending.

    Recipe courtesy Laylita.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: How To Avoid Salmonella & Other Food Poisoning

    People tend to worry about food poisoning during the summer months, when eating outdoors exposes food to greater bacterial growth from the heat. But you can get food poisoning year round, including in your own kitchen.

    The Partnership for Food Safety Education helps consumers get the facts, deflating common myths about cross-contamination and the growth of harmful pathogens that cause food poisoning. Here are their myth busters for 2014:

    Myth 1: It’s O.K. to wash bagged greens if I want to. It’s even better for them.

    Fact: While intuition says that giving ready to eat, washed or triple washed salad couldn’t possibly hurt, the truth is otherwise. An extra rinse will not enhance safety, but could potentially lead to cross-contamination from pathogens that could be on your hands or on kitchen surfaces. Ready-to-eat greens are just that: ready!
     
    Myth 2: Cross-contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator. It’s too cold in there for germs to survive!

    Fact: Some bacteria can survive cold environments like the fridge. In fact, Listeria monocytogenes grows at temperatures as low as 35.6°F. A recent study from NSF International reveals that the refrigerator produce compartment is one of the germiest place in the kitchen, containing salmonella and listeria bacteria.

       

    Raw_whole_chicken-chicken.ie-230

    Don’t rinse raw chicken before cooking it. Salmonella can contaminate other items in the sink. Photo courtesy Chicken.ie.

     
    To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, clean the bins regularly with hot soap and water; clean the other surfaces of the fridge likewise, including the walls and undersides of shelves; and clean up any food and beverage skills immediately. Be sure to keep fresh produce separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.

     

    salmonella-kosmix.co-230r

    Not fun: the salmonella bacterium. Photo
    courtesy Kosmix.co.

     

    Myth 3: It’s only important to rinse fresh fruits and vegetables for safety. I don’t need to dry them too.

    Fact: Using a clean cloth or paper towel to blot dry fruits and vegetables after rinsing is more important than you might realize. Research has found that taking a minute to dry the produce reduces the level harmful bacteria that can remain on the surface.

  • Just before use, rinse under running water only that produce that you plan to eat, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten (like melon or citrus).
  • Dry with a clean cloth or a paper towel.
  •  

    Myth 4: I don’t need to rinse this melon for safety, since the part I eat is on the inside.
    Fact: There are many pathogens on the rind that can contaminate the edible portion. A knife or peeler passing through the rind can carry them from the outside to the inside. The rind also touches the flesh when sliced pieces of melon are stacked on a platter. Play it safe and rinse the melon under running water while rubbing it with your hands or scrubbing it with a clean brush and then dry it before slicing.

     

    FOOD SAFETY TRIVIA

  • 65% of people don’t wash their hands before starting meal preparation.
  • 1/3 of people only use water to rinse their hands. You need to use soap!
  • 45% of consumers rinse raw chicken. This spread germs and isn’t a food safety step. Don’t rinse it! (Big surprise—we intuitively rinsed the chicken.)
  • Don’t guess: Use a food thermometer. The safe temperature for cooked chicken is 165°F.
  •  
    For more food safety information, visit FoodSafety.gov.

      

    Comments

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