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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: 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

    manchurian-cauliflower-230

    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

    RECIPE: Date Nut Cookies

    Recently, for National Date Nut Bread Day (September 8th), we whipped up a batch of these date nut cookies. The last one met its maker yesterday, and we just may make another batch this weekend.

    If you like oatmeal raisin cookies, try them for a nice change of pace: Here, sweet dates and salty nuts combine with chocolate and oatmeal for a happy holiday treat.

    Food trivia: Before sugar arrived in Europe* from the Asia, dates were widely used as a sweetener in baked goods.

    RECIPE: DATE NUT COOKIES

    Ingredients For 5 Dozen Cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick or old fashioned oats (uncooked)
  • 3/4 cup dates, chopped
  • 3/4 cup salted pistachios
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks or morsels
  •    

    medjool-superior-nut-company-amz-230

    Dates: the world’s first sweetener. Photo courtesy Superior Nut Company.

     

    date-nut-cookies-horiz-wmmb-230

    Tasty cookies with whole-grain oats. Photo
    and recipe courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing
    Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Beat together the butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and almond extract; mix to combine.

    2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in separate bowl. Add to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats until combined. Add dates, pistachios and chocolate; mix well.

    3. SHAPE the dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in a shallow bowl containing 1 cup sugar.

    4. PLACE on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool cookies on pan for one minute or until set; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

    Store the cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

     
    Here’s a recipe for date nut bread.
     
    *Sugar arrived in Europe around 1100, but was in very limited quantity and was not widely available until the 16th century.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Veggie Fries

    If the only way to get the family to eat more veggies is to feed them fries…well, Veggie Fries should become a very big brand.

    You can make veggie fries, which substitute all or some of the potato for a more nutritious vegetable, from scratch at home.

    Or, you can buy Veggie Fries, a new line that has debuted offering:

  • Broccoli fries (27% broccoli and beans)
  • Carrot fries (32% carrots and beans)
  • Chickpea & Red Pepper fries (25% chickpeas and bell peppers)
  • Tuscan Bean & Herb fries (29% beans and herbs)
  •  
    The all natural line mixes better-for-you vegetables and legumes in with potato, to deliver more fiber and vitamins. The fries are low in sodium and gluten-free.

    The company tried more than 300 recipes to create the perfect veggie fries: extra crispy on the outside, fluffy and tender on the inside. We hope you love them as much as we do.

    Learn more at EatVeggieFries.com.

       

    broccoli-fries-plate-bag-230

    One of the new fries in town: Broccoli Veggie Fries. Photo courtesy Healthy Life Brands.

     

    chickpea-red-pepper-plate-230sq

    Chickpea & Red Bell Pepper Fries. Photo
    courtesy Healthy Life Brands.

     

    The fries bake in the oven, and in just 18 to 23 minutes you’ll have crispy fries to enjoy with your favorite foods—or all by themselves as a lower-guilt fry snack.

    Serve them with your favorite condiments, or try a new one, like ponzu sauce—an Asian alternative to the malt vinegar preferred by the Brits instead of ketchup. Or take a look at these more unusual, sophisticated condiments from Chef Johnny Gnall.

    If ketchup is your condiment, take a look at the best ketchup brands. For example, blend your own chili paste and honey or hot sauce, a dip of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, or flavored mayonnaise.

    And consider creating a signature fries recipe with different toppings.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Quick Quinoa “Paella”

    quinoa-paella-kaminsky-230

    A delicious vegetable “paella” of quinoa.
    Photo © Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    Paella is a Spanish pilaf traditionally made with saffron-seasoned white rice and, depending on regional preferences, different combinations of meat and seafood (here’s the history of paella and popular variations).

    Vegetarians can make vegetable paella with tofu. And in this recipe, from Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes, you can replace the white rice as well with far more nutritious and quick-cooking quinoa.

    “Every last recipe packed into this carefully crafted text are all worth making, not a single bit of fluff or page-filler to be found,” says NIBBLE contributor Hannah Kaminsky.

    “One recipe that stands out is the deceptively simple Quick Quinoa Paella, an excellent example of author Nava Atlas’s skill for presenting a sound foundation that can be adapted, reinterpreted, and recreated a hundred different ways with equal success.”

    You can add a conventional proteins—chicken, duck, fish, seafood. We happened to have leftover roast chicken, and added some fresh scallops and shrimp.

    But quinoa is the most protein-rich grain, a complete protein with more protein per serving than milk (and perhaps the most nutritious food on earth).

    Prep time is 30 minutes.

    RECIPE: QUINOA PAELLA

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or 3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 1 cup sliced baby bella (cremini) mushrooms
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric or saffron (see note below)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed in a fine sieve
  • 2 teaspoons fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can (14-ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
  • 2 cups diced ripe tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Optional proteins: poultry, seafood, etc.
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil, broth, or water in a large, deep skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the garlic, bell peppers, and mushrooms, if desired, and sauté over medium-low heat until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

    2. ADD the broth, turmeric, and quinoa. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

    3. STIR in the thyme, artichoke hearts, peas, tomatoes, scallions, and half the parsley. Check if the quinoa is completely done; if not, add 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring frequently, just until everything is well heated through, about 5 minutes.

    4. SEASON with salt and pepper, then transfer the mixture to a large shallow serving container, or serve straight from the pan. Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top and serve at once.

     

    plant-power-230

    Plant Power: delicious vegan recipes. Get it
    on Amazon.com. Photo courtesy HarperOne.

     
    Saffron Or Tumeric?

    As another departure from tradition, Hannah says that you can use turmeric rather than the customary saffron of paella. Saffron is harder to obtain and very expensive; but if you have it, by all means, use it. Dissolve the saffron threads in a small amount of hot water before adding to the recipe.
     

    GET THE BOOK

    Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes,” by bestselling vegan author Nava Atlas, was published last week.

    Pick up a copy and add more plant power to your diet.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Delicious Appetizers With Wonton Wraps

    buffalo-chicken-cups-230

    An even more delicious way to enjoy the
    flavor of Buffalo wings. Photo courtesy
    Nasoya.

     

    You may not be ready to take on homemade dumplings, as we suggested yesterday.

    But if you’re looking for easy, impressive hors d’oeuvres for entertaining? Make them with won ton wraps.

    Of course, you’d buy won ton wraps to make homemade won tons. Savvy cooks know you can also use them to make ravioli. Like pasta, the wraps are made from wheat flour, eggs and salt, plus water, wheat gluten, vinegar and cornstarch.

    But did you think of making clever appetizers with them? They’re surprisingly easy. And the crispy baked wontons are far superior to other alternatives we’ve tried, like phyllo cups.

    Nasoya, an American producer of tofu, Asian-style noodles and wraps and Nayonaise vegan sandwich spread, treated us to the recipes below, created for Nasoya by blogger Kris Schoels of TheChicWife.com. We loved every bite.

    Look for the wraps in the produce section, next to Nasoya tofu. The all-natural wraps are easy to use. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    These three recipes are delicious for hors d’ouevres or a first course. Find more delicious recipes at Nasoya.com.

     
    RECIPE: BUFFALO CHICKEN CUPS

    These were so good, we were sorry we hadn’t made a double batch. (The photo is above.)

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

  • 12 ounces cooked chicken, diced
  • 3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup of wing sauce (mild or hot)
  • 1/2 cup of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup of ranch dressing
  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • Extra blue cheese crumbles for topping
  • Cupcake pan
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken and blue cheese in a bowl and set aside.

    2. COMBINEthe hot wing sauce, softened cream cheese, and ranch dressing in a small bowl. Pour the cream cheese mixture over top of the chicken and crumbled blue cheese. Stir until just combined.

    3. PLACE one wonton wrapper in each cupcake opening; press down until it creates a cup. Fill each wrapper cup 3/4 of the way with the chicken mixture.

    4. BAKE for 10 minutes, or until the wrappers are golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Top with more crumbled blue cheese for garnish, if you wish. Serve warm.

     

    RECIPE: BAKED AVOCADO & FETA WONTONS WITH
    AVOCADO-LIME DIPPING SAUCE

    We’d never have thought of combining avocado and feta, but the result is delicious!

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

  • 24 wonton wrappers
  • 2 large avocados, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, very finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Small bowl with water for sealing
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the chopped avocado, sun dried tomatoes, feta, garlic, onion, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl, taking care to not smash the avocado pieces too much.

     

    avocado-feta-wraps-230

    A delicious marriage of avocado and feta, for an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. Photo courtesy Nasoya.

     

    3. FILL the wrappers: Working one wrapper at a time place 1 tablespoon of filling in the top third of the egg roll wrap. Brush the edges with water and roll like a burrito. Seal with more water. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat until all of the filling has been used.

    4. BAKE for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned.

    5. MAKE the dipping sauce (recipe below).
     
    RECIPE: AVOCADO-LIME DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1 small ripe peeled avocado
  • 1/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Optional: hot sauce
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients into a food processor; process until smooth. Season with additional salt, pepper and optional hot sauce.
     
    RECIPE: HAM & CHEESE BITES

    Think beyond “ham and cheese”: The flavor of these bites is quite sophisticated.

    Ingredients For 30 Pieces

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup cooked ham, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg white (set aside to be used later)
  • 30 wonton wrappers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the egg in a bowl whisk and add the cottage cheese, mixing until smooth. Stir in the ham, cheddar, salt, and pepper. Place in the refrigerator until ready to cook the wontons.

    2. Prepare the wontons: Working one wrapper at a time, brush the outer edge of the wrapper with egg white (this will help seal the bites). Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the cheese mixture in the center of the wrap. Fold the wrapper in half into a triangle and seal with more egg wash if needed.
    3. PLACE on a baking sheet until ready to cook (note, these can be frozen and cooked later). Repeat until all of the cheese mixture has been used.

    4. HEAT a large skillet over medium heat, spray skillet with nonstick spray or use 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the skillet is warm, place the wonton wrap in the pan, being careful not to overcrowd it. Do it in several batches.

    5. COOK for 1 minute on each side; the outside will be lightly browned. Place on a paper towel lined plate, keeping warm until ready to serve. Here’s a photo of the cooked dumplings.

      

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