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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: Make A Trifle

Want to make a fancy dessert but don’t want to turn on the oven? Make a trifle.

TRIFLE HISTORY

A trifle is a classic English dessert, called by a variety of names including Tipsy Cake, Tipsy Parson, Tipsy Squire and Tipsy Hedgehog. “Tipsy” indicates the addition of spirits, typically sherry.

Trifle was an evolution of the fool, a simpler dessert of puréed fruit and whipped cream. The trifle emerged as a way to use stale cake.

Today, a classic English trifle layers fruit, whipped cream, egg custard and sponge cake that’s been soaked in sherry. Zuppa inglese is the Italian version.

According to What’s Cooking America, the recipe was brought to America in the mid-1700s by Brits settling in the coastal South. The combination of cake or biscuits with custard and alcohol became a popular dessert, served in an elegant cut-glass trifle bowl.

The recipe below is an evolution still, using modern America’s outdoor grills to add another note of flavor to the fruit. Of course, you can make the recipe without cooking the fruit. The recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable.

   

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Chocolate trifle with grilled strawberries. Photo courtesy QVC.

 

RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BERRY TRIFLE

Strawberries are usually the most economical berry, but you can substitute other berries (and matching preserves). While this recipe uses whipped topping, we vastly prefer whipped cream.

Use a large glass trifle bowl or salad bowl to assemble the trifle. If you don’t have one or can’t borrow one, a glass mixing bowl works, too; the idea is to show the visual appeal of the layers. But you can default to a lovely [opaque] porcelain bowl or soufflé dish.

There’s no sherry in this recipe, but if you want it, sprinkle it over the cake.

Ingredients For 14-16 Servings

For The Grilled Strawberries

  • 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  •  
    For The Trifle

  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cold strong coffee
  • 2 packages (3.9 ounces each) chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
  • 1 container (16 ounces) whipped topping, or whipped cream stiffened with gelatin (recipe below), divided
  • 1 chocolate cake, cut into 1″ pieces*
  • 1 package Oreos (14.3 ounces), crumbled
  •  
    *We typically buy an uniced loaf cake or bake a bundt—it’s easier to cut into cubes than an iced cake.

     

    whipped-cream-kuhnrikonFB-230sq

    For all you Cool Whip lovers: Fresh whipped cream is so much better! For fillings and icings, you just need to stabilize it with gelatin (recipe below). Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the grilled strawberries: Preheat an outdoor grill over high heat. Place the halved strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in a medium-size bowl. Toss until the strawberries are fully coated and place them in a nonstick grill pan. Cook for 5–6 minutes, tossing constantly.

    2. PLACE the berries back into the bowl and add the strawberry preserves. Mix until evenly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until completely cold.

    3. PREPARE the pudding: Whisk together the milk, coffee and instant pudding in a large bowl until the mixture is thick. Fold in half of the whipped topping until fully incorporated. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until completely cold.

     
    4. ASSEMBLE the trifle: Place 1/3 of the chocolate cake pieces into the bowl; then layer 1/3 of the pudding mixture, 1/3 of the grilled strawberries and 1/3 of the remaining whipped topping. End with 1/3 of the crushed Oreos. Repeat this process 2 more times, finishing with the whipped topping and crushed Oreos. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
     
    RECIPE: STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM WITH GELATIN

    Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 4 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1?4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the gelatin and cold water in a small pan; let stand until the mixture is thick. Then place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat. Let it cool, but do not allow it to set.

    2. WHIP the cream with the sugar until slightly thick. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream. Whip at high speed until stiff.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sandra Lee Cocktail Time Margaritas

    You could bring a bottle of wine as a house gift, or you could bring a bottle of ready-to-drink Margaritas.

    We really enjoyed the new Sandra Lee Cocktail Time Margaritas, in Key Lime or Strawberry. We’ll be buying more to bring to our Memorial Day hostess—and to enjoy ourselves, at home.

    The ready-mixed Margaritas taste like freshly-made, top-self drinks. A blend of premium blue agave silver tequila and triple sec liqueur, infused with real Key limes or strawberries, these open-and-pour Margaritas hit the spot with us.

    We prefer the classic (Key Lime) to the Strawberry, but if you want a strawberry Margarita, Ms. Lee’s is delicious.

    The cocktails, which are 13% ABV/26 proof, have fewer than 150 calories per 4-ounce serving.

    The suggested retail price is $15.99 per 750ml bottle. Learn more at CocktailTime.com.

     

    Sandra-Lee-Cocktail-Time-Margaritas-230

    A great-tasting Margarita, poured straight from the bottle. Photo courtesy Diageo.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Rhubarb Ketchup

    rhubarb-ketchup-tasteofhome-230

    Rhubarb and tomato ketchup. For a smooth texture, use an immersion blender or food processor. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     

    Need something to bring to a Memorial Day cook-out? How about homemade ketchup? Pack it into mason jars and tie a ribbon around the neck.

    Go one step further and make rhubarb ketchup, a condiment from yesteryear.

    A combination of the familiar tomato and the less-familiar tang of rhubarb (now in season), the recipe below adds notes of cinnamon and pickling spices to burgers, fries, sandwiches and other foods.

    It’s how ketchup used to taste, before the bland tomato sweetness of major national brands took over.

    It’s very easy to make ketchup at home. Prep time is just five minutes, plus an hour to simmer and another hour to chill.

    This recipe is courtesy of Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE: RHUBARB KETCHUP

    Ingredients For 6-7 Cups

  • 4 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except the pickling spice in a large saucepan.

    2. PLACE the pickling spice on a double thickness of cheesecloth, gather the corners of cloth to enclose and tie securely with string. Add to saucepan.

    3. COOK 1 hour or until thickened. Discard the spice bag. Cool the ketchup. Smooth with an immersion blender, if desired.

    4. STORE in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

     
    MORE KETCHUP

  • Here’s a homemade tomato ketchup recipe that uses honey instead of sugar. It includes variations for chipotle, cranberry, curry, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño and sriracha ketchup flavors.
  • Check out the history of ketchup, a condiment and table sauce that originated in Asia and wasn’t made with tomatoes until centuries after it was brought to the West. The Asians made it with pickled fish and the Brits made it with mushrooms. Tomato ketchup was born in the U.S.A.
  •  

    rhubarb-trimmed-beauty-goodeggsNY-230

    Rhubarb, ready to turn into ketchup. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | New York.

     

    BEYOND BURGERS & FRIES: 10 USES FOR KETCHUP

    Burgers, fries and other fried or breaded food—chicken, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, zucchini fries—are obvious. Meat loaf sandwiches are a given, as are breakfast eggs. Here are ten more everyday condiment uses for ketchup.

  • Baked Beans: Mom topped her baked beans recipe with ketchup and bacon strips before placing the dish in the oven.
  • Barbecue Sauce: Read the labels—most have a ketchup base! Browse homemade BBQ sauce recipes and add your own favorite ingredients.
  • Cocktail Sauce: Mix with horseradish.
  • Dip: Mix ketchup with plain yogurt, or serve it straight with potato chips.
  • Hot Dogs: We grew up with mustard on hot dogs, and discovered well into adult hood that many people use ketchup instead.
  • Meat Loaf Glaze: A favorite topping in American meat loaf recipes: Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of ketchup.
  • Russian Dressing: Combine equal proportions of ketchup and mayonnaise.
  • Steak Sauce: Melt a stick of butter in a sauce pan, add three minced garlic cloves, simmer a bit and stir in a cup of ketchup. Serve hot or room temperature.
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce: Add Thai fish sauce and fresh lime juice.
  • Thousand Island Dressing: Combine ketchup with mayonnaise ans sweet pickle relish.
  •   

    Comments

    TRENDS: Current Favorites & Next Wave Foods

    bento.com.sg-230sq

    Will kimchi, Korean hot pickled vegetables,
    be replaced by Mexican hot pickled
    vegetables as a topping for burgers,
    sandwiches, eggs and other fusion dishes?
    Photo courtesy Bento.com.sg.

     

    What’s next after the current food trends?

    Parade magazine took a look at What America Eats with predictions from Mimi Sheraton, author of 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List.

    She takes a peek at what’s coming next. Here are current trends and what Mimi thinks will follow.

    1. HOT SAUCE

    Now: Sriracha, the fiery Thai chile sauce.

    Next: Piri-piri, the fiery African chile sauce. A Peruvian version is spelled peri-peri.

     
    2. INTERNATIONAL SNACK

    Now: Hummus, now ubiquitous in an every-expanding number of flavors, including fusion flavors like chipotle, jalapeño and wasabi.

    Next: Khachapuri, a Georgian* comfort food of cheese-filled bread. Leavened bread is filled with cheese, eggs and other ingredients. According to Wikipedia, in a 2009 survey, 88% of Georgians preferred khachapuri to pizza.

     
    3. PICKLED VEGETABLES

    Now: Kimchi, Korea’s spicy-hot fermented vegetables, enjoyed as a condiment.

    Next: Mexican hot pickled vegetables, a take on Italian giardiniera that combines garden vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, celery, onions) with jalapeños, garlic, oregano and cider vinegar. A condiment with tacos, it has been ported to American burgers and sandwiches.

     

    4. GREEK YOGURT

    Now: Thick, creamy, tangy Greek-style yogurt, a category so hot, there’s no more room in the grocer’s dairy case.

    Next: Labneh, a thick, creamy, tangy fresh cheese, often called “yogurt cheese” in the U.S., that’s a mainstay for breakfast and snacking in the Middle East.

     
    5. BEVERAGE

    Now: African ginger beer, which is even spicier than Caribbean ginger beer. If you’d like a much more intense ginger ale experience, pick some up.

    Next: Matcha, the mellow, powdered green tea that’s drunk hot in Japan (it’s part of cha no yu, the Japanese tea ceremony), but available hot, cold, sparking, in green tea lattes and more in the U.S.
     
     
    It’s up to you: Keep eating what’s hot today, or get ahead of the trend!

     

    labneh-crackers-thewhitemoustache-goodeggsNY-230

    Labneh looks like tangy Greek yogurt and tastes like it, but it’s a spreadable cheese. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | New York.

     
     
    *From Georgia, the country that lies between Russia and Turkey.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Classic Cheese Soufflé

    comte-Souffle-comte-USAfb-230L

    A cheese soufflé, golden, fragrant, cheesy and hot. Photo courtesy Comté USA.

     

    Today is National Cheese Soufflé Day.

    We spent most of our 20’s making soufflés, both sweet (chocolate, vanilla, fruit) and savory (cheese, fish, spinach). The frenzy with which we turned them out was, in retrospect, our own mash-up of Julie & Julia and Groundhog Day.

    Modern soufflés were developed in France in the 18th century. The cheese soufflé, initially one course of a larger meal, evolved in modern times to a light main course, served with a green salad and a glass of rosé or white wine.

    To make a cheese soufflé, grated cheese is mixed into a béchamel (a type of white sauce).

    In the course of making cheese soufflés over and over again, we tried different cheeses, from Comté and Gruyère to Cheddar and Stilton. The cheese you prefer will depend on how mild or sharp you like your cheeses, but start with Comté or Gruyère, two French basics.

     
    There are a few “givens”:

  • You need a straight-sided soufflé dish.
  • You need to butter the entire inside thoroughly so the soufflé will rise evenly instead of sticking.
  • After you butter the dish, coat the butter with grated Parmesan or bread crumbs; then turn the dish upside down and tap out the extra crumbs. It’s just like buttering and flouring a cake pan.
  • You can make an optional collar from parchment or foil, and tie it around the dish with kitchen twine. This enables the soufflé to rise up perfectly, but it isn’t essential unless you’re really aiming to impress picky gourmets.
  • Always place the rack in the center of the oven before preheating.
  •  
    The following recipe uses a 10-cup soufflé dish or six individual ramekins (individual soufflé dishes).
     
    RECIPE: CHEESE SOUFFLÉ

    Ingredients For 4 to 6 Side Servings Or 2 Mains

  • Grated Parmesan cheese and softened butter for soufflé dish
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter for the béchamel (white sauce)
  • 5 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons, packed)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 large egg whites
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the rack in the center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Generously butter one 10-cup soufflé dish or six 1-1/4-cup ramekins. Sprinkle the dish(es) with Parmesan cheese to coat and tap out the extra. If using ramekins, place all six on a rimmed baking sheet for easy removal from the oven.

    2. MELT the half stick of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Cook without browning until the mixture begins to bubble, whisking constantly, about 1 minute.

    3. GRADUALLY WHISK in the milk, then the wine. Whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth, thick and beginning to boil, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    4. BLEND the egg yolks, salt and pepper in small bowl. Add the yolk mixture all at once to the white sauce and whisk quickly to blend. Fold in the Gruyère and the Parmesan cheeses (the cheeses do not need to melt—they’ll melt in the oven).

    5. BEAT the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer, until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into the [lukewarm] cheese base to lighten. Fold in the remaining egg whites.

     

    sancerre_rose_Wine-thor-wiki-230ps

    Rosé is our favorite wine with a cheese soufflé. Photo by Thor | Wikimedia

     

    6. TRANSFER the soufflé mixture to the buttered dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Gruyère.

    7. PLACE the soufflé in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake the soufflé until puffed, golden and gently set in center—about 40 minutes for the large soufflé or 25 minutes for the ramekins.

    8. REMOVE the baked soufflé with oven mitts to a heatproof platter (or individual plates for the ramekins), and serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pasta Made Tricolor With Veggies

    mediterranean-chicken-pasta-urbanaccents-230

    Mediterranean Pasta With Chicken. Photo
    courtesy Urban Accents.

     

    Doesn’t this pasta dish look more exciting than a conventional red-sauced plate? It uses vegetables to make “tricolor pasta” instead of pasta colored green and red with spinach and tomatoes.

    Tricolor pasta—green and red plus white—looks appealing in the bag but typically fades when cooked. So try a more colorful approach with veggies!

    In this recipe, color comes from red cherry tomatoes, purple kalamata olives and green spinach. If you want to use a red sauce, simply switch out the red tomatoes for orange or yellow varieties.

    Whether you use a red, white or colorless sauce (e.g. olive oil), adding two, three or four vegetable colors to your pasta dish provides great eye appeal as well as more flavor and nutrition.

     
    YEAR-ROUND COLORFUL VEGETABLES

    While green ingredients are a given, look for ingredients from the other produce “color groups.” For reference with other recipes, we’ve included fruits along with vegetables in this list.

  • Green: edamame (soybean), herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, parsley), Granny Smith apples, grapes, green beans, green peas (frozen are fine), mesclun or other salad greens, olives, snow peas, sugar snap peas
  • Orange: bell pepper strips, carrots (baby carrots, sliced or shaved carrots), kumquats, grape tomatoes, mandarin wedges, mango, sweet potatoes (cubed or sliced)
  • Purple/blue: blackberries, blueberies, cauliflower, grapes, kalamata olives, kale, Peruvian potatoes, red cabbage red raisins (plumped in cider)
  • Red: beets, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, dried cherries or cranberries, grape tomatoes, lady apples, mini red jacket potatoes, pomegranate arils, radicchio/red endive, radishes, red grapes/champagne grapes (currants), red onion
  • Yellow: bell pepper strips, golden raisins (plumped in cider), lemon peel, miniature pattypan squash, star fruit (carambola)
  •  

    RECIPE: TRICOLOR MEDITERRANEAN PASTA
    WITH CHICKEN

    This Mediterranean Pasta With Chicken is an easy one-pot dinner, with a goat cheese-based sauce accented with sundried tomatoes, olives and Mediterranean herbs. It was adapted from Urban Accents, which used its Athenian Herb Dryglaze seasoning blend, which pairs sundried tomato with honey and thyme flavors.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 packet Urban Accents Athenian Herb Dryglaze, divided seasoning
  • 1 pound penne, rigatoni or other medium tubular pasta
  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes (not oil-packed), roughly chopped
  • 5 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise and pitted
  • 1/3 cup chopped arugula, parsley or spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    For The Seasoning

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
  •  

    penne-rigate-sxc-230

    Penne rigate. Rigate refers to the ridges, which help the sauce adhere. They give their name to rigatoni, ridged tubes. The difference between penne rigate and rigatoni and is the end cut: Penne (“quills”) are cut at an angle, rigatoni are cut straight. Also, rigatoni tend to be slightly larger. See the different pasta shapes in our Pasta Glossary.

     

    Preparation

    1. BLEND the seasoning ingredients. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, for the pasta. As the water heats…

    2. RUB the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in resealable plastic bag. Add the seasonings, reserving 2 tablespoons of seasoning for later use. Seal the bag tightly and gently shake so that breasts are coated evenly; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    3. PREHEAT the stovetop grill pan for medium heat; spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook chicken breasts, turning once, until cooked through and instant read thermometer indicates 170F. Slice cooked chicken breasts on angle. While chicken cooks…

    4. COOK the pasta for 3 minutes less than package instructions. Add the sundried tomatoes to water and cook for 3 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta; return the pasta and the sundried tomato mixture to the pot.

    5. ADD the goat cheese, reserved seasoning and cup of pasta water to hot pasta. Wait 1-2 minutes, then stir gently to combine. Add additional pasta water if you prefer a saucier dish. Stir in the olives and sprinkle with the arugula/parsley/spinach. Divide the pasta among 4 plates and top with slices of chicken.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Crisp, Crumble, Cobbler ~ The Difference

    peach-cobbler-zulkasugarFB-recipe-230sq

    Peach cobbler: The biscuit dough dropped
    on top resembles cobblestones. Photo
    courtesy Zulka Sugar.

     

    Do you know the difference between a cobbler, a crisp and a crumble? Have you ever had a betty, bird’s nest pudding (a.k.a. crow’s nest pudding), buckle, grunt, pandowdy or slump?

    There are many kinds of baked fruit desserts, from the simplest—cored fruits, baked or roasted—to pies and tarts, which cradle the baked fruit between one or two crusts.

    But one group of recipes gets confusing: deep dish baked fruit, made in pans or casseroles. There’s no crust, per se; but each variety is distinguished by its topping.

    These desserts can be made with any type of fruit, but are typically made with apples, berries or stone fruits—cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums.

    In observance of National Cherry Cobbler Day, May 17th, we explain the differences among the different baked fruit dishes.

    Baked in early American kitchens, these dishes were simple to make, using seasonal fruits, flour and sugar. According to What’s Cooking America, colonists often served them for breakfast, as a first course or even a main course. It was not until the late 19th century that they were served primarily as desserts.

     
    PAN-BAKED FRUIT DISHES

  • BETTY, or brown betty, alternates layers of fruit with layers of buttered bread crumbs. Some modern recipes use graham cracker crumbs.
  • BIRD’S NEST PUDDING is a bit different: A pan of fruit is covered with a batter that bakes into an uneven top with the fruit poking through. It’s served in a bowl topped with heavy cream and spices.
  • BUCKLE, very similar to the French clafoutis (often spelled clafouti in the U.S.), adds fruit, usually berries, to a single layer of batter. When baked, it becomes a cake-like layer studded with berries. It is topped with a crumb layer (streusel), which gives it a buckled appearance. Alternatively, the cake, fruit and crumbs can be made as three separate layers.
  • COBBLER has a pastry top instead of a crumb top. Biscuit pastry is dropped from a spoon, the result resembling cobblestones.
  •  

  • CRISP is a deep-dish baked fruit dessert made with a crumb or streusel topping. The crumbs can be made with bread crumbs, breakfast cereal, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, flour or nuts.
  • CROW’S NEST PUDDING is another term for bird’s nest pudding. In some recipes, the fruit is cored, the hole filled with sugar, and the fruit wrapped in pastry.
  • CRUMBLE is the British term for crisp.
  • GRUNT is a spoon pie with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit. Stewed fruit is steamed on top of the stove, not baked in the oven. The recipe was initially an attempt to adapt the English steamed pudding to the primitive cooking equipment available the Colonies. The term “grunt” was used in Massachusetts, while other New England states called the dish a slump.
  • PANDOWDY or pan dowdy is a spoon pie made with brown sugar or molasses. It has a rolled top biscuit crust that is broken up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to seep up. It is believed that the name refers to its “dowdy” appearance. Sometimes it is made “upside down” with the crust on the bottom, and inverted prior to serving.
  • SLUMP is another word for grunt.
  •  

    crumble-230r

    An apple crumble. Photo courtesy Spice Islands

     
    And don’t overlook:

  • SONKER or ZONKER, a North Carolina term for a deep-dish cobbler made of fruit or sweet potato.
  •  
    As Kim Severson, writing in The New York Times about sonkers and zonkers, notes: “These dishes are so regional that people within the same county will disagree on the proper form.”

    Your family may call it a particular dish by a particular name, correct or not. But the most correct thing is: Bake fruit in season, and bake it often!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Salsa For National Salsa Month

    Five_Pepper_Salsa-melissas-230

    Salsa fresca, made with raw ingredients. Other salsas are cooked. Photo courtesy Melissa’s.

     

    Salsa, which has been America’s favorite condiment since 2000 (when it supplanted ketchup),actually has been a favorite condiment for thousands of years.

    The chile was domesticated around 5200 B.C.E., and tomatoes by 3000 B.C.E. both in Central America. The Aztecs combined the two, often along with other ingredients like beans and squash seeds, into a condiment, which the Conquistadors named “salsa,” or sauce. Here’s the history of salsa.

    May is National Salsa Month. If you’ve never made salsa at home, now’s the time.

    Basic salsa couldn’t be easier: salsa fresca, “fresh salsa” made with raw ingredients, is a combination of chopped tomatoes, onions, chiles and lime juice.

  • You can customize your salsa with beans, bell peppers, cilantro, corn kernels, and fresh herbs.
  • You can vary the texture: uncooked salsas can be puréed until smooth, chopped finely like pico de gallo or be served semi-chunky, in which case it is called a salsa cruda.
  •  

  • You can include Old World ingredients like garlic and olives.
  • You can add fruit—mango, nectarine, peach and pineapple are the most popular—for sweet heat.
  • You can make salsa verde, green salsa, by substituting tomatillos or avocado for tomatoes (guacamole is avocado salsa; the tomatillo is not a small green tomato but a relative of the gooseberry).
  • You can vary the chile flavor and strength, from mild to hot, from green and vegetal to smoky chipotle.
  •  
    If you want to make a cooked salsa, another world of ingredients opens, including roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes to.
     
    USING MORE THAN ONE CHILE

    There are many easy recipes for salsa fresca; most use jalapeño chiles. But you can layor the chile flavors by adding other varieties.

    We adapted this recipe from one for Five Chile Salsa from Melissas.com. It adds an Anaheim chile to the jalapeño.

    The Anaheim chile was developed around 1900 in Anaheim, California from New Mexican pasilla chiles. (See the different types of chiles.)

    The Anaheim is not a hot chile. It has a modest heat level, as low as 1,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Jalapeños are about 10,000 SHU, while habaneros are 100,000 SHU or more.

    Bell peppers are also chiles (all chiles come from the genus Capsicum), but they have no heat. Chiles, new world fruits, were mis-named “peppers” by Columbus’s sailors, who compared their heat to black pepper (no relation).

    While much of the world continues to use the misnomer “pepper,” we use it only for bell peppers, calling all other varieties by their proper name, chile.

     

    RECIPE: THREE CHILE SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 3 roma* (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 Anaheim chile
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • Juice of one lime or lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEED and dice the tomatoes and peppers, chop the cilantro and red onion.

    2. MIX the tomatoes and peppers in a bowl with the cilantro and red onion.

     

    salsa-baked-potato-TexaSweet-230

    Top a baked potato with salsa, with or without sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt). Photo courtesy TexaSweet.

     
    3. JUICE the lime or lemon over the other chopped ingredients, and season with salt and pepper.

    4. MIX the ingredients until well combined, serve with tortilla chips, or as a garnish.

     
    *Named after the city of Rome, Roma tomatoes are also known as Italian tomatoes or Italian plum tomatoes.
     
    WAYS TO ENJOY SALSA

    Breakfast

  • On eggs as a garnish
  • Mixed into frittatas and omelets
  •  
    Lunch

  • As a sandwich condiment—especially with grilled cheese or roasted veggies
  • Mixed into chicken, egg, macaroni, potato or tuna salad
  • With fries, instead of ketchup
  • With anything Tex-Mex
  •  
    Dinner

  • As a sauce for seafood cocktail (add some horseradish!)
  • Atop a baked potato, or mixed into mashed potatoes
  • Made into compound butter and served as a pat atop grilled meats
  • Mixed with cooked rice or other grains
  • With mac and cheese
  •  
    Snacks

  • Mixed into deviled eggs
  • Mixed into a dip with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt
  • On nachos
  • With chips
  • With crudités
  •  
    What’s your favorite use? Let us know!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: BLT Slaw With Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes & More!

    bistro-blt-slaw-safeeggs-230r

    A BLT salad with blue cheese and avocado in
    addition to bacon, lettuce and tomato. In this
    photo, the tomato is blended into the
    dressing; but we added extra cherry
    tomatoes as a garnish for a pop of color.
    Photo courtesy SafeEggs.com.

     

    We tend to use either shredded cabbage (packaged cole slaw) or romaine as a base for our lunchtime salads, loading them with an assortment of whatever ingredients we have on hand. But we never thought to combine the two until we saw this recipe for BLT Slaw.

    In the basic, the tomato of the “BLT” is blended into the dressing. But we added extra cherry tomatoes as a garnish for a pop of color.

    WHAT’S A SLAW?

    Long part of the culinary repertoire, “koolsla” or “koolsalade” in Dutch means cabbage salad. Cabbage, the “kool” is pronounced “cole.” “Sla” is short for “salade.”

    Instead of being pulled into bite-size pieces like lettuce, the cabbage was sliced.

    The term got anglicized in the 18th century as cole slaw (and sometimes, cold slaw). Over time, shredded cabbage slaw was joined by other options, like broccoli and carrot slaws. In English, “slaw” came to specify a salad of shredded vegetables.

    We adapted this recipe from one called Bistro BLT Slaw on the SafestEggs.com website.

     
    The recipe accessorizes slaw with not just with bacon and tomato, but accents of avocado and blue cheese. Blended with a homemade, mayo-like slaw dressing, this combination of fresh flavors is high in fiber and low in carbs. (If you don’t offer extra dressing in Step 4, it’s lower in calories, too.)

    You can also add diced chicken or other protein to turn the salad into a main course.

    USING PASTEURIZED EGGS

    Because the dressing contains raw eggs, like Caesar salad, pasteurized eggs like Safest Choice guarantee against the possibility of rare, though still plausible, salmonella poisoning.

    To pasteurize eggs, an all-natural, gentle water bath kills the potentially harmful bacteria in the eggs without changing the texture or nutrition. The eggs still look, cook and taste like raw eggs. Here’s more on pasteurized eggs.

    RECIPE: BLT SLAW
     
    Prep time is 25 minutes.

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

    For The Slaw

  • 1 package (10 ounces) cole slaw (plain shredded cabbage, or broccoli slaw if you prefer)
  • 6 cups thinly sliced hearts of romaine lettuce
  • 1 large avocado, diced
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 6 crisp cooked bacon strips, coarsely crumbled
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (substitute goat cheese)
  • 1 pint sliced cherry tomatoes or equivalent diced heirloom tomatoes in season
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon celery seeds (encouraged!)
  • Optional: extra cherry tomatoes for garnish
  •  

    For The Dressing

  • 2 pasteurized eggs
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

    2. MAKE the dressing. Place the eggs in a food processor or blender and process about 30 seconds. Add the tomato, vinegar, parsley, mustard, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in thin steady stream until combined.
     

     

    coleslaw-dole-230

    Shredded cabbage, the traditional base for cole slaw. As an alternative, use a food processor to shred a whole head of cabbage, and consider red cabbage for color and the fun factor. Photo courtesy Dole.

    3. TOSS half of the dressing with slaw to coat. Garnish with the optional cherry tomatoes.

    4. PASS the remaining dressing for those who want more.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Chef Tips For Exciting Sandwiches

    porchetta-Hilton-Chicago-flavorandthemenu-230

    A porchetta sandwich served with fennel
    slaw, roasted red pepper, crispy fried onion
    threads and sriracha aïoli. Photo courtesy
    Flavor & The Menu.

     

    What’s trending in restaurant sandwiches?

    Proteins are still a first-round decision: Do you want chicken, ham or roast beef, for example.

    But these days, according to chefs interviewed by restaurant trade magazine Flavor & The Menu, produce makes the sandwich.

    Here are five quick tips and a link to the full article. We’ll tell you what chefs are doing, then offer some easier home solutions.

    1. CONDIMENTS COUNT

    Sweet, sour, savory and pungent: Chefs use any number of chutneys, conserves, marmalades, pestos, pickles, salsas and sauces for a creative flavor boost.

    Chefs create special condiments like broccoli marmalade, celery leaf pesto, fried caper aïoli and pumpkin agrodolce*. At home, we make an easy mayo substitute nonfat Greek yogurt, flavored with diced smashed garlic and dill (creating a form of “yogurt aïoli”).

    There are trending condiments that you can buy in the store: bacon mayonnaise, fig Dijon mustard, onion marmalade (caramelized onions) and sriracha ketchup.

    Any of them will add “wow” notes to a sandwich.

     
    *Agrodolce is an Italian sweet and sour sauce made by reducing vinegar and sugar with other ingredients.
     

    2. GO VIBRANT WITH VEGGIES

    Forget bland lettuce and out-of-season tomatoes. Chefs are substituting specialties like tempura turnips, fried shallots and Vidalia onion purée, and are also getting creative with veggie sandwiches.

    They’re using root vegetables for bold sandwich flavors. The new tuna melt may just be a roasted broccoli and cauliflower melt.

    Whatever the base, it works with pickled vegetables. From pickled carrot slices to pickled beets, it’s easy to pickle vegetables at home. Don’t forget to pickle your favorite hot chiles!

    Home-pickled veggies can be ready in an hour; but if you have no time, just pick up a jar of giardiniera, assorted pickled vegetables that typically include carrots, cauliflower, celery, red bell pepper and optional hot chiles.

    At home, you may already add sliced avocado or guacamole to sandwiches. But how about:

  • Asian vegetables: Asian pear slices, bean sprouts, blanched bok choy, shiso or water chestnuts.
  • Fresh herbs: Basil, cilantro, dill, green onion†, parsley or sage.
  • Potato: Add lots of fresh herb and onion to potato salad and put it on the sandwich, instead of to the side. Try curried potato salad with currants and sliced almonds. Or, slice leftover plain white or sweet potatoes, season and add to the sandwich instead of tomato.
  • Slaw: Go beyond traditional to Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and other flavors. Try this BLT Slaw recipe with a ham or turkey sandwich.
  • Shaved vegetables: Shave raw asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots and/or celery as a “crudité” addition that adds crunch and flavor.
     
    While they’re not exactly vegetables, a trending sandwich addition is:
  • Chips: potato, tortilla or veggie chips.
  •  
    †Onion is botanically classified as a perennial herb that grows from a bulb. So are other members of the Allium genus, including chives, garlic, leek, scallion and shallot.

     

    3. ADD FRUIT

    Who says that a slice of fruit doesn’t belong on a sandwich, along with—or instead of—the lettuce and tomato.

    Raw, roasted or pickled, fruit flavors are a perky counterpoint to meaty, salty and savory ingredients.

    Start with apples, pears, plums or other stone fruit in season, and try them alternative raw (sliced thin) and pickled. Both provide a nice crunch.

    If you want fruit without effort, you can default to a jar of fig conserve or red pepper jam. Peruse the shelves of specialty food stores to see what calls your name.

     
    4. USE NUT OR SEED SPREADS

    The explosion of hummus flavors at the grocer’s was the first hint that you can season old standards to deliver new flavors.

    Certainly, use flavored hummus as a spread. But chefs are also mixing peanut butter with Middle Eastern spices, hummus with chocolate and sunflower butters with fruit preserves.

     

    roast-beef-sandwich-mccormick-230

    Roast beef panini with sage pesto and pickled onions. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    Take spreads made from nuts and seeds and enhance them with your own favorite flavors, to deliver new punch to everyday sandwiches.

    One of THE NIBBLE’s first Top Picks Of The Week, back in 2004, was a line of savory peanut butters called Peanut Better (alas, it is no longer produced).

    Think onion parsley peanut butter on turkey or ham sandwiches, Southwestern-spiced PB on roast beef sandwiches, hickory smoked PB with hot or cold turkey, ham, and roast chicken. Go Thai by adding ginger, crushed red pepper and a splash of soy sauce.

    Next step: Get a jar of plain peanut butter and get to work!

     
    5. BEANS & LEGUMES

    Chefs are spreading sandwiches with mashed curried chickpeas, white bean purée and pickled black-eyed peas.

    Beans and legumes provide velvety texture and lots of extra protein. Turn your leftover beans and legumes into sandwich spreads or fillings—with cheese or grilled vegetables as well as with meats.

    We added leftover lentil salad to a turkey sandwich along with some pickled onions. Delicious!
     
    OUR FINAL TIP

    Think outside the box, like a creative chef. Every recipe we eat didn’t exist until someone first put the ingredients together.

      

    Comments

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