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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: Ways To Add More Flavor To Food

caperberries-2-elvirakalviste-230

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

 

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

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

The advice:

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

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

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

    Comments

    RECIPE: Kimchi Fried Rice

    kimchi-fried-rice-eastandwest-yotelNYC-230

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

     

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

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

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

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

    RECIPE: KIMCHI FRIED RICE WITH FRIED EGG

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

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

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

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

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

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

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Asian Pears

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

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

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

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

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

       

    AsianPears_bluebowl_230

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

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

    So today’s tip is to try Asian pears.
     

    ARE ASIAN PEARS PEARS, APPLES OR A HYBRID?

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Asian_Pear_PA_sticker-230

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

     

    RECIPE: SALAD WITH ASIAN PEARS

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

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

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

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

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

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

    3. ADD cheese to top and serve.
     

    TRADITIONAL ASIAN PEAR VARIETIES

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

    These conventional varieties are grown by Subarashii Kudamono:

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

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

    MORE ABOUT ASIAN PEARS.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Covered Bridge Cookies

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

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

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

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

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

    hermits-230

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

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

     

    ginger-snaps-box-230

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

     

    WHAT ARE HERMITS, AND A BRIEF COOKIE HISTORY

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

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

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

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

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

     
    Hermits Appear

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

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

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

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

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

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Asian Lettuce Wraps With Steak

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

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

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

    RECIPE: STEAK LETTUCE WRAPS

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

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

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

    steak-lettuce-wraps-melissas-230

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

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

    the-great-pepper-cookbook-melissas-230

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

     

    Preparation

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

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

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

     

      

    Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The most widely cultivated species include, in order:

       

    millet-horiz-bobsredmill-230r

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

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

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

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

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

     

    RECIPE: MILLET STIR-FRY

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

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

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

    Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweetened Condensed Milk

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

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

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

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

    sweet-condensed-milk-growingnaturals-230

    Homemade sweetened condensed milk. Photo courtesy GrowingNaturals.com.

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

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

    Ingredients

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

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

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

    Ingredients For Scant 1 Cup

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

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

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

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

     

    sweetened-condensed-milk-nestle-230s

    Keep a can in the pantry. Photo courtesy
    Nestlé.

       
    SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK TIPS

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

     
    HOW TO CARAMELIZE SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK

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

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

    Comments

    RECIPE: Bread Salad #3, Grilled Chicken Panzanella

    We are fans of panzanella, and this is our fourth recipe of the year. The others:

  • Summer Bread Salad, with tomatoes and basil
  • Summer Panzanella #2, with zucchini, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes
  • Panzanella With Fruit
  •  
    Panzanella is a Tuscan-style bread salad made with a loaf of day-old (or older) bread, cubed into large croutons and tossed with vinaigrette or other dressing to soften it. The translation we have found for “panzanella” is “bread in a swamp,” the swamp being the water or vinaigrette in which it was soaked.

    While Italian loaves are used in the original, you can use any bread from baguette to challah to semolina raisin to sourdough. Chopped salad vegetables are then added.

    In this recipe, adapted from one by Annie of Annie’s Eats for Go Bold With Butter, a protein is added to make it into a luncheon salad. Annie (and we) use grilled chicken; we also like grilled salmon. But you can use any protein and it’s a great way to use up leftovers.

       

    chicken-panzanella-salad-goboldwbutter-230

    Instead of a Chicken Caesar, try a Chicken Panzanella. Photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com..

     
    Annie grills the bread. We live an apartment without a grill, so we baked the croutons in the oven (recipe below).

    We save time by buying pre-grilled, shrink-wrapped chicken breasts at Trader Joe’s.

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHICKEN PANZANELLA

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

    For The Chicken

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup olive or canola oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
  •  
    For The Salad

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 thick slices (1-inch) sourdough bread (about 4-5 cups when cubed)
  • 1 large or 2 small cucumbers, sliced and quartered into wedges
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, diced, or halved cherry tomatoes*
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Optional: fresh herbs of choice
  •  
    *Off-season tomatoes tend to be bland. When tomatoes aren’t in season, you can substitute red bell pepper, grilled red pepper (pimento) or sundried tomatoes.

     

    serrated-knife-bread-SLT-230

    We prefer a crusty loaf, but any day-old
    bread can be used for panzanella. Photo
    courtesy Sur La Table.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a grill to medium-high heat. While the grill is heating, make the marinade.

    2. COMBINE the lemon juice, canola oil, salt, pepper and garlic in a medium bowl. Stir well to combine. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, mixing briefly to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Meanwhile…

    3. PREPARE the bread slices. Combine the butter, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix until evenly combined. Spread a thin layer of the garlic butter on both sides of each slice of bread.

    4. GRILL the chicken on the heated grill until browned on the outside, turning once. The internal temperature should register 160°F. Remove the cooked chicken to a plate or cutting board to rest briefly. Meanwhile…

     

    5. PLACE the bread slices on the grill and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes total. Keep a close eye on the bread to prevent charring. Remove the finished bread pieces to a plate or cutting board.

    6. CUT up the chicken and the bread into bite-size pieces and add to a large bowl. Add the cucumber, tomatoes and feta; toss gently just until evenly combined. Serve immediately.
     
     
    CROUTONS RECIPE

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

    2. CUT bread into cubes and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you like heat, add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Mix well.

    3. SPREAD cubes in a single layer on a shallow pan or cookie sheet pan and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Ceviche Vs. Tiradito

    When you live in a ceviche culture, what do you do for something new?

    Ceviche, raw seafood marinated in lime juice with onions and other vegetables, is the national dish of Peru—and our favorite food. While the variations in ceviche recipes seem never-ending—there’s a seeming infinite combination of seafood, vegetables and marinade recipes—Peruvian chefs have taken the concept further.

    They’ve created tiradito, a dish of raw fish similar to carpaccio, ceviche, crudo and sashimi, but garnished with a piquant or spicy sauce. It reflects the influence of Japanese immigrants on Peruvian cookery. It also differs from ceviche in the way in which the fish is cut (sashimi-style slices) and in the lack of onions. The fish can also be lightly seared.

    Both are typically served as a first course. Cool and refreshing, they are ideal summer dishes but delicious year-round (not to mention easy to make, healthful and low in calories).

    The classic tiradito sauce is made from citrus juice and a zesty paste of aji amarillo, made from the Peruvian yellow chile pepper (Capsicum baccatum) plus seasonings—grated garlic or ginger, salt and pepper. Of course, chefs can create a myriad of sauces with other ingredients.

    Unlike ceviche, the fish isn’t marinated in the sauce; the sauce is used as a dressing—think sashimi with sauce and garnishes. Common garnishes include sweet potato and jumbo white corn kernels, both native to Peru.

       

    ceviche-scallop-shells-raymiNYC-230

    Ceviche preparation of white fish with two different marinades. Photo courtesy Raymi | NYC.

     

    The key to both dishes is the freshest fish. Ask your fishmonger what’s best.

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF CEVICHE & TIRADITO

    In South America, marinated raw fish dishes date to pre-Colombian times, when seafood was “cooked” (acid-cured) with a fruit called tumbo (Passiflora tarminina, a relative of passionfruit). The Incas cured fish in salt and fermented corn.

    In the 16th century, the Spaniards arrived with lemons for the marinade, creating modern ceviche: cubed or sliced, lightly marinated raw fish. Recently, a variation has morphed into tiradito, cutting the fish sashimi-style and adding a spicy dressing.

    Tiradito derives from the Spanish verb tirar, which means to throw—throwing together raw fish with a sauce.

     

    tiradito-cucharasbravas.com.pe-230r

    Tiraditio of mackerel with a sauce of yellow
    aji chile paste. Photo courtesy
    CucharasBravas.com.pe.

     

    Here’s a tiradito recipe from Peru Delights. Prep time is 20 minutes.

    Look for the aji amarillo paste in supermarkets with a large Latin American products section (Goya makes it), at a Latin American grocer, or online. If you can’t get hold of it, use a mixture of fresh yellow bell peppers and serrano chilies to approximate the hot and fruity flavor of the aji amarillo.

    RECIPE: TIRADITO DE PESCADO

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound white fish fillets (e.g. tilapia)
  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon aji amarillo paste, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon diced chile pepper (e.g. serrano)
  • ½ teaspoon grated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garnish: 1 sweet potato cut in thick slices
  • Garnish: microgreens or sprouts
  •  

    Preparation

    1. SLICE the fish fillet very thin and divide among four plates. Sprinkle with salt.

    2. COMBINE lime juice in a bowl with the aji amarillo paste, diced chile, garlic, ginger, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spoon over the fish to cover.

    3. TOP each portion with two sweet potato slices, cover with microgreens and serve, chilled or room temperature.

     
    MORE CEVICHE

  • Types of ceviche.
  • How to create your signature ceviche recipe.
  • Shrimp ceviche recipe.
  • What to drink with ceviche.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Scuffins

    apricot-scuffin-230

    Surprise: a center of apricot conserve. The
    black flecks are flaxseeds. Photo courtesy
    Frog Hollow Farm.

     

    Today’s tip comes from Frog Hollow Farm, a beloved grower of organic fruit in Brentwood, California, an hour east of San Francisco in the fertile Sacramento River Delta.

    Before there was the cronut, there was the scuffin. Necessity was the mother of invention.

    Some five years ago, Frog Hollow Farm began to make frozen purées from fruit that wasn’t cosmetically attractive enough to sell to consumers. They then set about creating products from the purées, and the winner was the scuffin.

    What sounds like a cross between a scone and a muffin is actually a triple hybrid, which includes the center of a jelly donut— substituting conserve, jam or preserve for the jelly. (Here are the differences between jelly, jam, conserve, etc.)

    A hearty, sconelike dough formed into a muffin shape, a scuffin is more dense than a muffin, with a texture that goes from a crisp exterior and crumbly scone interior to center of smooth fruit filling, made from the purée. It eliminates the need to choose between a scone and a muffin. They can be breakfast bread, snack or dessert.

    Served at the Frog Hollow Café in San Fransicso’s Ferry Building, the scuffin was an instant hit. The whole grain flour and flaxseeds, add healthful elements and a nuttiness that pairs well with the jam.

     
    Total prep and baking time is 1 hour.

    RECIPE: SCUFFINS

    Ingredients For 12 Scuffins

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons for buttering muffin cups
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (4 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal or wheat germ (1 ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown or raw sugar (2 ounces), plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup fruit jam, conserves, preserves or fruit butter (do not use jelly or marmalade)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave or over very gentle heat. Using a pastry brush, butter the cups of a standard-size 12-cup muffin tin (3-1/2-ounce-capacity). Let each coat of butter cool, then apply another coat; continue until the 2 tablespoons are all used.

    2. COMBINE dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, add to the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just combined.

    3. WHISK together the egg, milk and cream in another bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix to combine (the dough will be quite sticky).

    4. RESERVING about a quarter of the dough for topping, scoop 2 tablespoons dough into each cup. Using the back of a spoon, press the dough gently down into the cups. The dough will move up the sides, and there should be a shallow well in each dough cup. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up to the top; there should be about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the dough and the rim of the cup.

     

    nectarine-scuffin-froghollowfarm-230

    Scuffins filled with blueberry preserves. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm.

     
    5. SPOON about 1 tablespoon of jam into each well. Using your fingers, pinch the remaining dough into small clumps and scatter evenly over the jam in each cup, making a bumpy topping. Sprinkle sugar over the tops.

    6. BAKE 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned. Let cool in the pan on a rack; run a blade around the sides of each scuffin before turning out.

    Variations

  • Try different flavors of jams and preserves.
  • Use different spices—nutmeg, ginger or allspice, for example, instead of cinnamon or cardamom.
  •   

    Comments

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