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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: Savory Jam

savory-beauty2-230

Savory jams. From top, clockwise: tomato
jam, garlic jelly, onion jam and pepper jelly.
Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

 

Jam is a preserve of crushed whole fruit, boiled with sugar into a sweet spread. The use of jam to describe a food dates at least from the 1730s, and probably derives from the verb jam, which refers to something tightly pressing between two surfaces (in this case, referring to crushing the fruit).

Over the centuries, there have been jams based on vegetables: garlic, onion, tomato and more recently, bacon jam, often made by adding luscious bacon to an onion base. Caramelized onions or shallots are a chunkier form of onion jam.

Some jams are both sweet and savory. Pepper jelly, for example, adds bell peppers or hot chiles into a sweet base. Savory herbs—basil and rosemary, for example—can be combined with fruits to add a savory dimension.

House-made savory jam is trending at fine restaurants nationwide. It won’t appear on supermarket shelves any time soon, but look for them at specialty food stores, farmers markets and online. If you can’t find what you want, look for recipes and make your own savory jam.

Why pay attention to savory jam? Versatility, and an easy way to add flavor to numerous recipes. Savory jams work as general condiments, dips, glazes, spreads and thickening agents for sauces.

 
12+ WAYS TO USE SAVORY JAM

You can use savory jams to enliven food at every meal. Sure, you can spread them on toast; but you can also:

  • Add to the pan when sautéeing. Since the flavors of savory jam are so concentrated, only a teaspoon is needed. Try shrimp sautéed with tomato jam, garlic and a pinch of harissa.
  • Add to sauces, especially when deglazing a pan.
  • Serve as a meat condiment, an update of mint jelly.
  • Use as a burger or sandwich (including grilled cheese!) condiment instead of ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard.
  • Serve as a fish/seafood condiment (especially onion or garlic jam).
  • Make a jelly omelet.
  • Add to a vinaigrette (try pepper jelly).
  • Serve as a condiment with cheeses (especially saltier cheese) and charcuterie.
  • Create canapés, with bits of meat or vegetable (try tomato jam with roasted sweet potato rounds).
  • Make crostini appetizers or snacks.
  • Serve with grains.
  • Fold into mac and cheese (especially bacon jam!).
  • Combine with cream cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt for a creamy spread or dip.
  • Dilute with vinegar or soy sauce into a dipping sauce.
  •  
    Flavor And the Menu, a magazine for chefs, reports chefs using bacon-chile jam in a Brussels sprouts salad, for example, bacon marmalade crostini topped with blue cheese, tomato marmalade on a BLT, tomato-jalapeño jam on flatbread and savory tomato jam as a dip for fries.

     

    JAM, JELLY, PRESERVES: THE DIFFERENCE

    The jam and jelly group falls into the category of spreads.

  • Jelly is sweetened and jelled fruit juice, a clear product that will hold its shape.
  • Jam is a mixture of crushed fruit and sugar, cooked to the texture of a thick purée.
  • Preserve is similar to jam but contains large chunks of fruit.
  • Conserve is similar to a preserve but usually contains more than one kind of fruit and often nuts.
  • Marmalade is citrus-based and contain the fruit’s rind as well as the flesh.
  • Fruit spread is made with fruit juice concentrate or low-calorie sweetener replacing all or part of the sugar.
  • Fruit butter cooks fresh fruit with sugar spices until thick and then blends it to a smooth consistency.
  • Fruit curd is a creamy spread made with sugar, eggs and butter.
  • Chutney is a spiced condiment made of fruit or vegetables. It is typically served as an accompaniment to food, not as a spread.
  •  

    sundried-tomato-jam-spiceamecooksWP-230r

    Sundried tomato jam on goat cheese or cream cheese: a quick and easy crostini. Photo courtesy SpiceAmeWordpress.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

    Check out our Jam & Jelly Glossary for more information and other types of spreads.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Make Your Own Gummies

    tart_cherry_gummies-choosecherries-230

    Fun project: Make your own gummies. Photo
    courtesy ChooseCherries.com.

     

    Gummy fan? We admit to a gummy habit.

    We were happy to discover that in 15 minutes, we could make our own gummies, with top-quality ingredients (including honey instead of refined sugar) and for less expense than purchasing them.

    It’s easy, so try it—perhaps inviting your favorite child to participate in the joy of making sweets. Prep time is just 5 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

    The only thing you need to do is buy a candy mold—although you could use a sheet pan/jelly roll pan and cut the solid rectangle into squares. You also can try a mini ice cube tray. This recipe used a sheet mold tray with 64 molds of 3/4″ x 1″.

    This recipe is made with tart cherry juice. If you like the result, you can try it with other juice flavors–apple, cranberry, grape, etc.

    This recipe is courtesy of Mitzi Dulan, RD, of NutritionExpert.com, via ChooseCherries.com.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE GUMMIES

    Ingredients For 128 Pieces

  • 1-1/4 cups tart cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup honey
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the juice and gelatin in a small bowl, stirring until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Pour the mixture into a small saucepan over low-medium heat and add the honey. Continue stirring until well mixed. Be sure not to boil!

    2. REMOVE from the heat, allowing the mixture to slightly cool before pouring into the mold.

    3. LET cool for about 10 minutes or until it begins to gel before transferring into the refrigerator. Place in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes to allow it to set.

     

    WOW: A GUMMY-MAKING MACHINE!

    As we were looking for candy molds online, we came across this Gummy Candy Maker, $29.75.

    It includes the silicone molds to make gummy fish, worms and small bears—as well as a jumbo bear—with easy-to-use silicone molds. The central heated base holds the gelatin pot with a spout for easy pouring; the entire unit disassembles for easy cleaning.

    Reviews from 60 customers gave it 4.4 out of five stars, with many giving it five stars. If we can convince ourselves that this is an important appliance to bring into our small kitchen, we may be buying one soon.

    We think it makes a great Valentine gift.

     

    gummy-candy-maker-amz

    This gummy maker has molds of favorite shapes. Photo courtesy Nostalgia Electrics.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pizza & Beer Flight

    pizza-beer-flight-bowery-st.com-230r

    Enjoy different beers with your pizza. Photo courtesy Delancey Hollywood.

     

    Why don’t all pizza restaurants offer a beer tasting flight?

    Delancey Hollywood has it right: a tasting of four different beers to enjoy with your pizza.

    If you can’t make it to Hollywood, create the concept at home. How about debuting it during the Super Bowl?

    Since most people don’t want to consume four entire beers with a pizza, buy plastic tumblers for shorter pours.

    The biggest challenge is what beers to offer. You can do a tasting of four different lagers or other beer types to compare brands, or mix it up: an ale, IPA, lager and stout, for example.

    We’re so into this idea, we’re going to have it for lunch today.

    Now, the second biggest challenge: What type of pizza to order?

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Moroccan Baked Chicken & Olives

    If you love to snack on olives, look for ways to add them to your main courses. We enjoy everything from olive mashed potatoes to olive omelets and olives in pasta.

    This classic Moroccan dish, courtesy of OlivesFromSpain.us, combines chicken with briny olives and preserved lemons, which contribute their own special pickled taste. The result: rustic flavors layered with citrus accents.

    Manzanilla olives are the Spanish green olives are available in most supermarkets, often pitted and stuffed with pimento or garlic. You can substitute other green olives or even caperberries.

    You can buy preserved lemons at many olive bars, or make your own with this preserved lemons recipe.

    RECIPE: MOROCCAN CHICKEN & OLIVES

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Manzanilla or other green olives
  • 2 preserved lemons, rinds removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  

    chicken-olives-olivesfromspain-230

    How delicious does this look? Photo courtesy Olives From Spain.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

    2. HEAT a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. When hot, add the chicken breasts skin side down. Cook until skin is golden brown and the skin is crispy, about 4-5 minutes.

    3. FLIP chicken breasts over, add the rosemary sprigs to the pan and place the entire pan in the oven. Cook until the chicken is just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes, or until a thermometer placed in the chicken reads 150°F.

    4. REMOVE the chicken from the pan, add the olives, preserved lemons, lemon juice, parsley and about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil to the pan. Whisk to combine; this will be the sauce.

    5. DIVIDE the chicken among four plates, heat the sauce over medium heat and spoon evenly over the chicken breasts. Serve while hot and enjoy with a vegetable side such as roasted onions or carrots, plus a optional starch—rice or other grain, or crispy roasted potatoes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Rethink Your Sandwiches

    PBJSliderTheShedatGlenwood-NatlPeanutBoard-230

    The new PB&J, battered and fried. Elvis
    would approve. Photo courtesy National
    Peanut Board.

     

    As reported in Restaurant-Hospitality.com, chefs nationwide are adding new life to sandwiches with simple ingredients switches. Some of them are fusion (adding an ingredient from a different culture’s cuisine), others are simply new interpretations of classics.

    Check out what they’re up to, and adapt the ideas to your own sandwiches.

    PB&J. At South Water Kitchen in Chicago, the PB&J stands for Pears, Brie and Jam. The sandwich is composed of sliced pear, Brie and blueberry jam on whole wheat bread. If you want a “real” PB&J, Chef Todd Richards of The Shed at Glenwood, Atlanta, batters and fries a conventional PB&J sandwich (see the photo).

    Grilled Cheese. At Cannery Brewing Company in Monterey, California, the Short Rib Grilled Cheese combines braised short rib, oven-roasted tomatoes, goat cheese and Provolone, along with balsamic onions and pickled peppers on sourdough bread.

    Dagwood. How about a piled-high Dagwood with lamb instead of cold cuts? Chef Rodney Scruggs of The Occidental in Washington, D.C. combines thinly sliced lamb shoulder with goat cheese, arugula, pickled ramps and strawberry jam. (That sounds awfully gourmet for a Dagwood!)

     
    Steak Sandwich. Chef John Tesar of Knife in Dallas reinterprets the steak sandwich with braised beef cheeks. Or go for a bulgogi steak sandwich, Korean grilled beef, topped with pickled red onions and kimchi.

    Panini. Italian grilled sandwiches—panini—go fusion filled with Middle Eastern and Asian ingredients such as grilled tofu. The Peanut Panini from Parish in Atlanta combines green peanut “hummus,” tomato jelly and prosciutto on ciabatta bread.

    Pulled Pork. Chef Allison Leono of Goodyear, Arizona transfers classic Carolina pulled pork in mustard sauce from its classic bun into Thai rice paper wraps—with fresh mango!

     

    You don’t have to travel the country to try these sandwiches. Here are the latest hot recipes described above:

  • Beef Cheek Sandwich Recipe
  • Bulgogi Steak Sandwich Recipe
  • Fileo Fish Sandwich Recipe
  • Green Peanut Panini Recipe
  • Honey and Garlic Grilled Tofu Panini Recipe
  • Lamb Dagwood Sandwich Recipe
  • PB&J (Pears, Brie and Jam) Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe
  • PB&J Slider Recipe
  • Potato-Stuffed 1-Pound Burger Recipe
  • Pulled Pork and Mango Rolls with Carolina Mustard Sauce Recipe
  • Short Rib Grilled Cheese Recipe
  •  

    pulled-pork-mango-rolls-natlmangobd-230

    Carolina pulled pork in a Thai fusion recipe. Photo courtesy National Mango Board.

     

    Read the full article.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: How Many Of These International Foods Have You Had?

    Grilled Halloumi cheese on rocket salad

    Grilled halloumi cheese, which doesn’t lose
    its shape when heated. Photo by Ina Peters |
    IST.

     

    No matter where it originated, you know a food is mainstream if you can find it in an English language dictionary. Burrito, sushi and quiche, for example, have been around for a while.

    But in 2014, other foodie favorites were added to our lexicons: You can read the full article here.

    Some of these foods have been available in the U.S. since we were in grade school, but familiar only to those who frequented say, bistros (Croque Monsieur, anyone) or Sicilian-style restaurants (arancini).

    The criterion for inclusion in the dictionaries, according to the article, is how widely the term is now used. That is, has it reached mainstream America via everyday cookbooks, or mentions in broadcast cooking segments, digital and print articles?

    Thanks to a proliferation of cooking shows, and of food media in general, the answer is often yes. (The article points out that few people had heard of ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend, before Top Chef. Thanks to its frequent use on the popular cooking show, it entered the American Heritage Dictionary in 2011.)

    So grab an imaginary fork and knife and dig in!

     

    New Food Terms In The American Heritage Dictionary

  • Bahn-mi, Vietnamese baguette made from wheat and rice flour, and also the sandwich served on it (more).
  • Halloumi, a brined Greek cheese that keeps its shape when fried (more).
  • Mochi, a doughy Japanese sweet treat made from rice of the same name (more).
  • Saison, a fruity Belgian farmhouse ale, typically made in the summer (more).
  •  

    New Food Terms In The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

  • Aji, a native word for chile, these days often refers to the aji amarillo, a yellow version popular in Peru (more).
  • Brat, a shortened term for bratwurst (more), the popular sausage brought over by German immigrants in the late 1800s.
  • Croque-Monsieur, a classic French grilled ham and cheese sandwich that is dipped into beaten egg then sautéed in butter. With a fried egg on top, it is called a Croque-Madame. “Croque” means crispy.
  • Crudo, an Italian preparation of sliced raw fish/shellfish (more).
  • Pepita, toasted pumpkin seed (more).
  • Pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup based on oxtail broth (more).
  • Poutine,a Canadian dish of French fries topped with gravy and cheese curds (more).
  • Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, known best here via its bottled juice (more).
  •  

    arancini-rice-balls-230

    Arancini, fried rice balls. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    New Food Terms In The Oxford Dictionaries Online

  • Arancini, small balls of rice and mozzarella (and possibly other ingredients like peas or meat), breaded and fried; a popular Southern Italian appetizer.
  • Cavatelli, cappellaci and trofie, pasta shapes representing a miniature hot dog bun, a tortellini-like stuffed pasta and a thin twist, respectively (see more in our Pasta Glossary).
  • Queso-cheese, a shortened form of “Chile con Queso,” a melted cheese dip served with nachos.
  • Guanciale, an Italian cured meat made from pork jowl, not the cheek, as often reported (more)
  • Izakaya, the Japanese version of tapas, small plates served in a restaurant that specializes in them.
  •  
    It’s still January, and you’ve got time to make more new year’s resolutions. Resolve to try everything above that you haven’t yet had!
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Microwave Scrambled Eggs

    microwaved-scramble-eggs-aeb-230

    Yes you can…make scrambled eggs in the microwave. Photo courtesy American Egg Board.

     

    Don’t like to scrub pans? Make scrambled eggs in a mug in the microwave. Here’s how from the American Egg Board:
     
    RECIPE: MICROWAVE SCRAMBLED EGGS

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish or mix-in: fresh herbs or shredded cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the eggs, milk, salt and pepper in microwave-safe bowl or 12-ounce coffee mug, until blended. Add cheese or herbs as desired.

    2. MICROWAVE on HIGH for 45 seconds, then stop and stir. Continue to microwave until the eggs are almost set, 30 to 45 seconds longer. Serve immediately.

     
    NOTES

  • Microwave ovens vary in strength. Cook time may need to be adjusted.
  • Even if the eggs look like they can use a few more seconds, don’t overcook. Scrambled eggs will continue to cook and firm up after removed from microwave.
  •  

    Variations For Any Scrambled Eggs Recipe

  • For rich creamy scrambled eggs, you can use cream instead of milk, or add small cubes of cream cheese or a dollop of cottage cheese before cooking. Chef Wylie Dufresne adds cream cheese to his scrambled eggs recipe.
  • For added flavor, stir a bit of creamy salad dressing, pesto or salsa into the egg mixture.
  •  
    MILK VERSUS NO MILK

    Always add milk (ideally whole milk) or cream to scrambled eggs. The fat in the milk/cream slows down the cooking process, and the additional water (milk is approximately 87% water) adds to the tenderness.

    On the other hand, don’t add milk to omelets. They have a more compact structure; adding milk can make them harder.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Crispy Fried Cauliflower (Lashooni Gobi)

    Junoon is one of the most popular Indian restaurants among gourmand New Yorkers. The name, which means passion, interprets Indian cuisine with a modern spin. The space is large and comfortable, unusual for New York City. And the food: Well, it inspires passion.

    While many American home cooks are wary of taking on Indian cuisine without the benefit of a class or an expert friend, here’s one of Junoon’s dishes that’s easy to make. The Indian name is Lahsooni Gobi, but Crispy Fried Cauliflower sounds so much more tempting.

    We love cauliflower in all its forms, plain and fancy. But here, lightly battered and tossed in a tomato garlic sauce, this hearty appetizer or side will make even those who don’t typically crave cauliflower want more.

    No eggs are used in the batter because in India, eggs are not part of a vegetarian diet (this recipe is actually vegan). This recipe is also gluten-free. Chef Vikas Khanna notes, “I use rice flour here, not just for its superior crisping quality but also for people who are gluten sensitive. It’s a warm and homey dish and can easily be adjusted in terms of heat and garlic to suit anyone’s palate.”

     

    crispy-fried-cauliflower-junoon-worleygig-ps-230

    Junoon’s delicious Crispy Fried Cauliflower. Photo courtesy Worleygig.

     

    RECIPE: LAHSOONI GOBI, CRISPY CAULIFLOWER

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 medium sized head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil for frying, plus 2 tablespoons to make the sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup tomato purée
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Two pinches salt
  • Two pinches sugar
  • Two pinches ketjiap spice (recipe below)
  • Garnish: 2 sprigs cilantro
  •  

    cauliflower-beauty-goodeggs-230

    Turn an everyday cauliflower into something special. Photo courtesy GoodEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SPRINKLE 2 teaspoons of sea salt evenly over the cauliflower and let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 350°F: Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and ginger, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

    3. ADD the tomato purée, water, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt and ketjiap spice; mix well with a whisk until combined. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary just before serving.

    4. PREPARE the batter by quickly blending the rice flour and water together in a large bowl. Coat the florets in the batter by placing all of the florets in the bowl. Toss gently and then carefully drop the florets into the hot oil. Fry the cauliflower until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    5. BRING the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and then add the cauliflower to the pan. Stir and toss gently to coat the cauliflower with the sauce until well combined. Serve the cauliflower in a bowl garnished with cilantro.

     

    KETJIAP SPICE MIX

    Ketijap is a traditional Indonesian spice mix used for the many different sauces that are loosely called cat-siop and ketjiap (and other spellings*). A pinch or two livens up soups and sauces. You can keep the spice tightly covered in a cool, dark place for up to two months.

  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon mace flakes†
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, preferably tellicherry
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY TOAST the whole spices in a small heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat for about one minute.

    2. COOL, then grind to a fine powder with the cinnamon in a spice grinder.
     
    *Yes, this is the origin of our word catsup/ketchup, although our familiar tomato ketchup was a New World invention. Here’s the history of ketchup.

    †It can be difficult to find mace flakes, also called mace blades, in consumer markets. Use ground mace instead.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Mashed Potato Stuffed Burger Recipe

    You’re used to fries or potato chips with your burger. But how about mashed potatoes?

    For some food fun, executive chef Craig (Andy) Beardslee of Hash House A Go Go in San Diego suggests a layer of Parmesan mashed potatoes between two eight-ounce burgers. This one-pound burger with mashed potatoes is not quite Paula Deen (who famously sandwiched a burger, fried egg and bacon between Krispy Kreme donuts), but it’s fun.

    About the name: It’s not really a potato-stuffed burger. It’s more of a potato-layered burger; otherwise, the potatoes would be stuffed inside the burger patties. As in recipe ingredients, in naming, strive for accuracy!

    We like onion with our burger; so when we tried this recipe, we added thinly sliced green onions (scallions) to the mashed potatoes. We also mashed the potatoes with basil oil, and on another occasion with truffle oil. Both are inspired choices, with or without the Parmesan cheese.

    RECIPE: MASHED POTATO STUFFED BURGERS

    Ingredients For 1 Serving

     

    mashed-potatoStuffed-burger-IdahoPotCom-230

    Mashed potato stuffed burger: Just in time for Super Bowl supping. Photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

  • 2 8-ounce ground prime beef patties
  • 6 ounces mashed potatoes with fresh shaved Parmesan cheese, griddled
  • 2 bread and butter plank pickles
  • 2 tomato slices
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 red onion slices
  • 2 applewood-smoked bacon strips
  • 1 ciabatta or sesame bun
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the mashed potatoes on a griddle in a pancake shape. Brown and turn.

    2. LAYER the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles on bottom bun. Top with one beef patty.

    3. LAY on a mound of griddled mashed potatoes and add 2 strips cooked bacon. Top with the second beef patty, then the top half of the bun.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Pork Ramen Soup

    ramen-soup-ws-230

    Get out your slow cooker and create this
    delicious Japanese comfort food. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    While many Americans think of ramen soup as one of the cheapest ways to feed oneself comfort food, in Japan the finest Japanese ramen soups take considerable culinary skill and many hours to create. Ramen is hearty enough to be a proper main course with some vegetable sides; but you can also use it as a soup course.

    The Williams Sonoma cookbook, “Quick Slow Cooking,” offers a simplified, yet still delicious, version that uses plenty of succulent braised pork. Another key to a glorious dish is high-quality, fresh ramen noodles, available at Asian markets. If you can’t find them, use fresh thin Chinese egg noodles or fresh linguine. If you can’t get any fresh pasta, you can default to packaged ramen noodles.

    Another point of differentiation from packaged ramen soups: yummy toppings. These can include baby corn, baby spinach, bean sprouts, boiled egg, kamaboko*, kimchi, nori (the dried seaweed used to make sushi rolls), sliced braised pork, sliced green onions or deep-fried green onions, soft-boiled eggs, toasted sesame seeds and wakame seaweed.

    When you make your own soup, you can customize the toppings as you wish, and offer other diners the option to customize their own bowls of soup. This recipe specifies green onions and soft boiled eggs, but you can switch them out or add other toppings.

     
    This recipe uses a slow cooker. For more inspiring slow cooker recipes, check out Quick Slow Cooking by Kim Laidlaw.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE PORK RAMEN SOUP

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 3 pounds (1.5 kg) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 equal pieces
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2-inch (5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 8 cups/64 ounces (2 l) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 leek, white and green parts, halved lengthwise and coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces (125 g) cremini or button mushrooms, brushed clean and coarsely chopped
  • Low-sodium soy sauce for seasoning
  • Sesame or chile oil for seasoning
  • 1-1/2 pounds (750 g) fresh ramen noodles
  • Topping: 8 soft-boiled eggs
  • Topping: 4 green onions, white and pale green parts, finely chopped
  •  
    *Kamaboko is a type of surimi, a Japanese processed seafood product of which crab stick is another variety. To make surimi, white fish are pureed and mixed with flavor and color. Kamaboko is formed into a half moon-shaped loaf and the outside is colored pink over a white center.

     

    Preparation

    1. SEASON the pork with salt. Place a large sauté pan or the stove top–safe insert of a slow cooker on the stove top over medium-high heat. Add the oil and warm until hot. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, add the pork pieces and sear them on the first side without moving them until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces and sear on the second side until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

    2. POUR off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the insert or sauté pan and return the insert to medium-high heat. Add the yellow onion and sear, without stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and 1 cup (250 ml) of the broth. Deglaze the sauté pan or insert, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the insert bottom; then let simmer for 1 minute. If using a sauté pan…

    3. TRANSFER the contents of the pan to the insert of a slow cooker. Add the leek, mushrooms and the remaining 7 cups (1.75 l) of broth; stir to combine. Cover and cook on the low setting for 8 hours. The pork should be very tender and the broth should be fragrant.

     

    quick-slow-cooking-ws-230

    Make complex-flavored dishes in your slow cooker. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    4. TRANSFER the pork to a cutting board. Using 2 forks, break the pork into bite-size chunks, removing and discarding any large pieces of fat. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard any fat from the surface of the broth. Return the pork and broth to the slow cooker and season to taste with soy sauce and sesame or chile oil. Cover and cook on the low heat setting for about 30 minutes to warm through.

    5. COOK the ramen noodles according to the package directions. Put the eggs into boiling water and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water, let cool until they can be handled and peel them. Cut each in half lengthwise.

    6. TO SERVE: Divide the noodles evenly among individual bowls. Ladle the broth and pork over the noodles, dividing them evenly, then sprinkle with the green onions. Top each bowl with two soft-boiled egg halves and serve immediately.
     
    THE HISTORY OF RAMEN

    Ramen is a dish of noodles in meat broth—chicken or pork—that originated in China. It differs from native Japanese noodle soup dishes, in that until ramen appeared, Japanese broth was based on either vegetables or seafood.

    The type of noodles and toppings used in ramen also came from China. It is believed that “ramen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “lamian,” meaning “hand-pulled noodles” (as opposed to noodles that are sliced with a knife).

    While some ramen dishes began to appear in Japan in the late 1600s, they didn’t become widespread until the Meiji Era (1868 through 1912), when Japan moved from being an isolated feudal society to a modern nation. Foreign relations and the introduction of meat-based American and European cuisines led to increased production of meat, and played a large role in the growing popularity of ramen. Almost every locality or prefecture in Japan created its own variation of the dish, served at restaurants.

    The growth of ramen dishes continued after World War II, but was still a special occasion that required going out.

    In 1958, instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water. Exported, these ramen soup packages soon became a pop culture sensation across the globe.

    Soup recipes and methods of preparation are closely-guarded secrets in many restaurants. Beyond regional variations, innovative Japanese chefs continue to push the boundaries of ramen cuisine. Curry ramen, invented in the Hokkaido region, became a national favorite, as has ramen based on the Chinese dish of shrimp in chili sauce. Non-Japanese ingredients such as black pepper and butter have found their way into recipes.

    Check out this article, which details the different type of ramen by region.

      

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