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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Tony Roma’s Heat & Eat Barbecue

Tony Roma's Ribs

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Spare Ribs

Top: We love these meaty boneless ribs. Center: Look for this package in your supermarket. Bottom: Baby back ribs. All photos courtesy Tony Roma’s.

 

We try to avoid barbecue joints because way beyond the barbecue, we fill up on cornbread, buttermilk biscuits, cole slaw, mac and cheese and banana pudding. We feel overstuffed now, just by thinking of it.

That’s why it was our lucky day when we accepted Tony Roma’s offer of heat-and-eat pork ribs to consider for THE NIBBLE. They’re available at supermarkets nationwide, and we’re thankful for that! (Here’s a store locator.)

They’re as good or better than what we get in restaurants…and we don’t face a menu of tempting, high-carb, high-sugar, high-fat choices. And we don’t have to make anyone’s brother’s award-winning recipe.
 
ABOUT THE RIBS

The ribs and barbecue are marinated and slow-cooked. Fully cooked and nicely sauced, we microwaved them and they were ready in minutes. We tried:

  • Tony Roma’s Baby Back Pork Ribs
  • Tony Roma’s Boneless Pork Ribs
  • Tony Roma’s BBQ Pulled Pork
  •  
    There are other choices we didn’t taste—but look forward to:

  • Pulled Chicken
  • St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs
  •  
    All are available in with either Sweet & Spicy or Sweet Hickory barbecue sauces, and all made us happy. But the boneless ribs are by far our favorite: thick slices of tender meat with no bones to contend with.

    We were in hog heaven, and the boneless ribs have joined our “addiction list”—Top Picks that we continue to buy regularly at the grocer’s.

    Now, we can enjoy delicious ribs without all the empty carb sides and without sticky fingers: We eat them with a knife and fork. We…

  • Ate them with a big, crunchy salad and homemade cole slaw (purchased a package of shredded cabbage and tossed with a light vinaigrette—and sometimes blue cheese dressing).
  • Rolled them in lettuce leaves with shredded carrots, shredded daikon and watercress.
  • Served them with sides of sweet potatoes and sautéed apples* or caramelized onions.
  • Made burritos and tacos.
  • Served three slices atop a bed of [variously] sautéed vegetables, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, grits and San Gennaro polenta.
  •  
    ___________________________
    *We bought a jar of Grandma Hoerner’s Big Slice, delectable and time-saving.
     
    A QUICK PORK RIBS TUTORIAL

    There are two types of barbecue preparation: dry and wet. Dry ribs are rubbed with a mixture of herbs and spices. The rubs don’t require advance preparation; they can be applied just before barbecuing. Wet ribs are basted with sauce prior to and during the barbecuing process.

  • Baby Back Ribs are sourced from the loin area. These ribs tend to be smaller in size than spare ribs, but are considered to be more tender than other rib cuts. Think of them as tender and tasty.
  • Spare Ribs, also called side ribs, are from the belly area. They are longer and fatter than baby back ribs, but less meaty. The mix of meat and fat add to their tenderness and make slow-cooking a great way to enjoy these pork ribs. They’re what you want if you love to chew on the bones.
  • Boneless Ribs are sourced from the shoulder-area of the hog. They are slow cooked at low heat until tender and then portioned into various size boneless rib pieces. Most often, boneless ribs are marinated and seasoned for tenderness.
  • St. Louis-Style Ribs are a particular cut of the pork rib. The shape is almost rectangular and bone has been removed. These are meaty and tasty ribs, typically marinated for tenderness.
  • Pulled Pork is made with meat sourced from the shoulder area. It is slow cooked at low heat until it becomes tender enough to be “pulled” apart. Most often, pulled pork is marinated and seasoned for tenderness and tastiness.
  • Types Of Pork Ribs Chart

     
    Glossary information and chart courtesy Rupari Foods, maker of Tony Roma’s retail barbecue products.
     
    LOVE PORK?

    Check our the different cuts of pork in our Pork Glossary.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Mac & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    We’re so glad that B and S are in the kitchen! Brother (B) and sister (S) Bob and Carlene Deutscher of Saskatchewan are authors of the food blog BsInTheKitchen.com.

    They’ve inspired us to whip up some mac & cheese—to turn into a special grilled cheese sandwich for National Grilled Cheese Month.

    RECIPE: MAC & CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 2 slices rustic bread
  • 1 cup leftover macaroni & cheese
  • 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • Generous ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Option: bacon or pulled pork (we bought Tony Roma’s Pulled Pork)
  • Butter, softened or bacon grease
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garnish: ketchup
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRILL the bacon or heat the pulled pork.

     

    Mac & Cheese Grilled

    Sandwich mashup: Grilled Cheese with Mac & Cheese. Bacon optional. Photo © Bs In The Kitchen.

     
    2. MELT some butter in a skillet over medium heat. While the pan is heating/butter is melting…

    3. MIX the macaroni & cheese, 2 tablespoons of panko crumbs, a couple pinches of cheese in a bowl, with salt and pepper to taste. Form into patties and place in heated pan.
    Cook until golden brown on each side. While the patties cook…

    4. BUTTER the outside of each slice, place the panko on a plate and press the buttered side of each slice into the panko to crust the sandwich.

    5. PLACE about half of the cheese onto the bottom slice. Once the patties are cooked, add them on top of cheese, then top with more cheese. Add the other slice of bread and fry until golden brown on each side.

     
    Photo and recipe © copyright BSInTheKitchen.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Spring Rolls

    Spring Rolls

    Vietnamese Summer Rolls

    Shrimp Summer Rolls

    Fried Spring Rolls

    Top: Vegetarian spring rolls with shredded daikon, carrots, cucumber trips and peanuts (photo IST). Second: Vietnamese Summer Rolls (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers). Third photo: Shrimp spring rolls (photo courtesy Three Ladies Rice Paper). Bottom: Chinese-style fried spring rolls (photo courtesy Davios | Boston).

     

    Spring rolls are one of our favorite appetizers at Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. Even if we buy them at the take-out sushi counter at Whole Foods, they’re still $6 for two vegetarian rolls.

    So why don’t we make them at home?

    Yesterday, a lazy Sunday, we held a Spring Roll Brunch in our home, along with wine pairings.

    You can create a do-it-yourself spring roll buffet, but given the crowd, we enlisted one dexterous friend to help us with the wrap-and-roll.

    That said, they are easy to make and have a very high prep time:delicious factor.

    So first: What’s a spring roll?
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EGG ROLLS, SPRING ROLLS & SUMMER ROLLS?

    Identifying spring rolls can be confusing, and here’s why:

    While some countries, including China, make fried spring rolls, Thailand and Vietnam use the oncooked wrapper.

    The term “spring roll” is not synonymous with “egg roll,” which is always fried. An egg roll has a heavier pastry wrapper that can be sliced into sections; a fried spring roll is very fragile and can shatter like phyllo.

  • Egg rolls are deep fried; the wrappers are thicker, making egg rolls more of a filled pastry (most are vegetable, egg and/or meat or seafood filling). Spring roll wrappers are thinner, the shape is narrower and when fried the rolls are more finger-like. If you want to make egg rolls, here’s how.
  • Spring rolls are an Asian appetizer, eaten either Vietnamese-style, in an uncooked* rice noodle wrapper, or fried Chinese-style. They are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival in China, hence the name; but also are popular in Cambodia and Indonesia.
  • Vietnamese and Thai spring rolls use rice paper wrappers, which can be found in Asian markets. The dry hard wrappers are moistened into pliancy and translucency, and filled with seafood; red lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves; fresh mint, basil and cilantro leaves and shredded carrot. They are served with a chili dipping sauce.
  • Summer rolls are made in the style of spring rolls, but with more seasonal ingredients. They are not fried.

    Vietnamese spring and summer rolls are like eating a fresh salad roll, more complex in flavor (thanks to the fresh herbs) than fried Chinese spring rolls. They are served with a spicy dipping sauce known as nuoc cham, of which there are many variations.
     
    Spring rolls and summer rolls are made from a rice wrapper: tapioca starch, rice flour, salt and water. They are gluten-free and vegan. Egg roll skins are made from wheat flour and egg.

    The ingredients show through the translucent wrapper and create lovely eye appeal. You can roll anything in the soft rice flour wrappers—the stiff rice wrapper becomes soft after dipping in water. You can find the rice flour wrappers at Asian markets or the Asian products section of a good supermarket.
     
    Customize Your Spring & Summer Rolls

    Vietnamese spring rolls generally contain seafood such as cooked shrimp, accompanied by any combination of rice sticks, carrot, cucumber, daikon, shiitake mushrooms and fresh, leafy herbs: basil, cilantro and mint. Iceberg lettuce or green cabbage can be added for crunch.

    We also like adding toasted chopped peanuts (salty or honey-roasted) to half the batch, to our rolls.

  •  
    How did spring rolls get their name?

    Originally, they were special snacks served to visitors with tea at the Chinese New Year, which is the beginning of lunar spring.

    Both spring rolls and egg rolls date back to ancient China, and both are traditionally served with hot Chinese mustard or a dipping sauce.
     
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    *Vietnamese spring rolls, or cha gio, are not fried—although some Vietnamese and Thai restaurants in the U.S. have taken to serving Chinese-style spring rolls as well, catering to the American taste for fried food.

     

    RECIPE: CHICKEN & AVOCADO SPRING ROLLS

    Ingredients For 4 Rolls

  • 4 spring roll skins
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado†, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 chicken breast (4 ounces), pre-grilled or baked and sliced thin
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup soy ginger sauce, peanut sauce or other dipping sauce (recipe below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEED, peel and slice the avocado.

    2. SOFTEN the spring roll skin in cold water for 5 seconds then place flat on cutting board. Place the sliced avocado and chicken breast, romaine and shredded carrots in the center of the spring roll skin. Gently fold over one side of the spring roll skin, fold in the edges and gently roll to the other end of the spring roll skin as though you are wrapping a burrito.

    3. SERVE on platter and serve with dipping sauce.

     
    RECIPE: DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar‡
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce, nam pla (you can substitute soy sauce**)
  • 1 garlic clove minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed chilies (you can use red pepper flakes)
  •  

    avocado-spring-rolls-hassavo-230

    Rice Spring Roll Wrappers

    Top: Avocado Spring rolls (photo courtesy Chiquita Brand). Bottom: Spring roll wrappers, made from rice flour (photo courtesy Rose Brands).

     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the vinegar, water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and chilies.

    2. COOL and serve, or else refrigerate.

     
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    †Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

    ‡Depending on your personal palate, you can reverse the quantities of rice vinegar and lime juice. One good-size lime will yield 1/2 cup of juice.

    **Soy sauce will obviously taste different from fish sauce, but it still works as an Asian dipping sauce.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Malbec

    Glass Of Malbec In Riedel Malbec Glass

    A glass of Malbec in the specially designed Riedel Malbec glass. Photo courtesy Riedel.

     

    Celebrated on April 17th, World Malbec Day is the perfect opportunity to open up a bottle of the wine that is Argentina’s claim to varietal fame.

    Malbec is a black grape that produces red wine—a deep purple-red in color and nearly opaque, similar to Syrah and Mourvedre.

    The original Malbec rootstock came from France, where it was widely planted in the Cahors region in the Midi-Pyrénées region of south-central France, with some in the Loire Valley of central France. Argentina now has 75% of the world’s Malbec acreage.

    Argentine Malbec is very different from its French parent. As is true among all wine grapes (and some other crops), planting the same vines in different terroirs* yield different results.

  • Argentine Malbec is fruit forward, with notes of black cherry, black plum and currant. They have lower acidity, more tannins, and fuller body than French Malbec.
  • French Malbec has moderate tannin, higher acidity and flavor notes of black pepper and spice. Because of their moderate tannin and acidity with lower alcohol, French Malbec wines tend to age longer.
  •  
    World Malbec Day commemorates April 17, 1853, when President Domingo Faustino Sarmiento of Argentina launched a mission to transform Argentina’s wine industry. To start that endeavor, a French soil expert bought grape varietals from France, one of which was Malbec. During the experiment period, which planted different wines in different terroirs, Malbec proved to be a star. It flourished in the Mendoza region of Argentina, in the northwest part of the country at the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
     
    Malbec Is A Very Well-Priced Red

    As a result of the volume produced and the economics of wine production in Argentina, Malbec also proved to be a bargain. It’s a well-priced alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon. You can find many good Malbecs for $10 a bottle or less.

    You can also find bottles at twice that price, and even pricier—for example, $95 for a bottle of Cheval des Andes, a joint venture between Bordeaux’s great Chateau Cheval Blanc and Argentina’s Terrazas de los Andes.

  • Some Argentine Malbecs, like the latter, are blended with some Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and/or Petit Verdot—classic grapes of Bordeaux, to give some Bordeaux style to the wines.
  • But there’s a fifth Bordeaux grape: Malbec is also grown there as a blending grape. Because the varietal has poor resistance bad weather and pests, it never became a top French varietal like Merlot and Caber.
  • Some vintners blend in a bit of Petit Syrah instead. Petit Syrah, now grown largely in Australia and California, is a cross that originated in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France.
  •  
    Three Favorite Malbecs From Argentina

    Our wine editor, Kris Prasad, has a fondness for Altos Las Hormigas and Alamos (one of the wines with Syrah, depending on the vintage). Both can be found for $10 or less, although special bottling (e.g., certain vineyards) cost more.

    He also likes Tinto Negro “Limestock Block,” pricier at around $15. He calls it an “interesting wine”; it is two-thirds Malbec. We haven’t had it, but we do love the label, with part of the name spelled backwards (see the photo of the label above).

     

    PAIRING MALBEC WITH FOOD

    Steak—of which Argentina has a bounty—is a classic pairing (give us a T-bone, please!). But Malbec is much more flexible than a pairing with beef. Try it with:

  • Any grilled red meat or pork (serve with some Argentine chimichurri sauce).
  • Duck and other dark-meat poultry like game birds.
  • Full-flavored fish such as salmon and tuna.
  • Braised short ribs.
  • Burgers and barbecue.
  • Pasta and pizza.
  • Blue cheese, washed rind and other strong cheeses.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Dishes with earthy or smoky flavors.
  • Dishes spiced with clove, cumin, garlic, juniper berry, smoked paprika or sumac.
  •  
    Serve it instead of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Syrah and other full-bodied reds.

    For an even bigger celebration, put on some tango music—which developed in Argentina—and dance!
     
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    *ABOUT TERROIR: The same rootstock that is grown in different locations produces different flavors; for example, depending on where it is grown, Sauvignon Blanc can have grass or grapefruit notes—or neither. Terroir, pronounced tur-WAH, is a French agricultural term referring to the unique set of environmental factors in a specific habitat that affect a crop’s qualities. It includes climate, elevation, proximity to a body of water, slant of the land, soil type and amount of sun. These environmental characteristics gives the wine its character. Terroir is the basis of the French A.O.C. (appellation d’origine contrôlée) system.

     

    Los Altos Malbecs

    Malbec Label

    Top: Look for Los Altos Las Hormigas Malbecs, a favorite of our wine editor. Photo courtesy Los Altos. Bottom: The quirky label of another favorite Malbec, Tinto Negro.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: First Course, Small Bites

    Ravioli Hors d'Oeuvre

    san-marzano-tomatoes-can

    Fancy Appetizers

    Top: A Swordfish-Ravioli Stack with Mexican garnishes. Photo courtesy Chef Eric LeVine. Center: Canned San Marzano tomatoes. Bottom: Chef LeVine’s delectable cookbook; photo courtesy Lyons Press.

     

    Today’s tip is that it’s easy to be creative in food preparation. Start with a first course/appetizer/starter (use the word of your choice).

    This recipe may look complicated, but putting it together is easy. The hard part was thinking it up, and that was done by Chef Eric LeVine, Food Network Chopped Champion and ICA* Chef Of The Year.

    He used Mexican seasonings, so think of serving a mini Margarita (in shot glasses or other small glasses) with the course.

    Chef Eric is also author of Small Bites Big Flavor: Simple, Savory, And Sophisticated Recipes For Entertaining. He wrote it for the home cook who wants to make imaginative and fun dishes. It’s a great start on a path to cooking more creative food.

    We’ve created our own version of his recipe.

  • If you don’t eat shellfish, substitute a ravioli of choice. For surf and turf, use meat ravioli.
  • Chef Eric made a spicy shrimp sauce. We took a simpler approach: crushed San Marzano tomatoes with minced fresh herbs.
  • The amount of fish you need will vary based on what portion size you want to serve. You can also serve the recipe as a main, by purchasing a 6-ounce swordfish steak for everyone and adding more ravioli.
  • We purchased the ravioli, pico de gallo and guacamole, making the assembly pretty speedy.
  •  
    RECIPE: TEQUILA-LIME SWORDFISH & RAVIOLI STACKS.

    Ingredients

  • Swordfish steaks, 2-4 ounces per person
  • Shrimp ravioli or substitute
  • Sauce (recipe below)
  • Fresh pico de gallo
  • Guacamole
  • Garnish: lime wedges
  •  
    For The Marinade

  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup tequila
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1 can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (or substitute basil or parsley, if you have them on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the marinade and marinate the swordfish steaks for 30 to 40 minutes, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge. Use a glass or ceramic dish to marinate, or plastic storage bags. While the swordfish marinates, cook the ravioli.

    2. BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil, and add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep the ravioli from sticking. Add the ravioli and stir constantly for 5 minutes, taking care not to break the ravioli. Cook to al dente, since you’ll be reheating it before serving. Remove the ravioli one-by-one with a slotted spoon and place, not touching, on a microwavable baking sheet, tray, or in a glass baking dish. Cover with foil and set aside.

    3. MAKE the sauce: Combine the tomatoes and seasonings and blend thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

    4. GRILL the swordfish over medium heat to desired doneness, 10 to 12 for medium (we like ours medium rare). Cut into pieces. We cut 6-ounce swordfish steaks into 3 pieces for a portion size of 2 stacks. You may wish to serve only one stack.

    5. MICROWAVE the ravioli and the sauce briefly to warm them.

    6. ASSEMBLE the stacks. Place a small pool of sauce on the plate, topped with a piece of swordfish, a ravioli, and a garnish of guacamole and pico de gallo. Add the lime wedge and serve.

     
    __________________
    *The International Caterers Association
     
      

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    RECIPE: Beef & Broccoli Pizza

    We love fusion dishes, and this Beef & Broccoli Pizza from McCormick tops a pizza crust with a Chinese restaurant fave. Use a whole wheat crust for maximum nutrition.

    Western broccoli was not available in China, and for a long time Chinese broccoli, kai-lan, was not available in the U.S. Thus, Beef & Broccoli is “American Chinese,” or known in the U.S. simply as Chinese food.
     
    RECIPE: BEEF & BROCCOLI PIZZA

    IngredientsFor 6 Servings

  • 1 prepared thin crust pizza (12-inch)
  • 1/2 cup marinara or pizza sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed (ideally toasted)
  •  
    Side Dish

  • Green salad with Italian dressing (recipe below)
  •  
    __________________________
    *We had fresh ginger root on hand, so substituted very thin slices of it for the dried ground ginger. Instead of mixing it in, as in step 2 below, we added it to the broccoli stir-fry.

       

    Beef & Broccoli Pizza Recipe

    Chinese Cabbage, Kai-Lan

    Top: Italy, meet China in this fusion dish. Photo of Beef & Broccoli Pizza courtesy McCormick. Bottom: Chinese broccoli, kai-lan, is a different species with leafy tops instead of florets. Photo courtesy Jing Fong Restaurant | NYC.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Place the pizza crust on a baking sheet. Spread the tomato sauce over the crust; then sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the mozzarella. Set aside.

    2. MIX the water, soy sauce, cornstarch, ginger and garlic powder in small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

    3. HEAT the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef; stir fry 3 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove the beef from the skillet.

    4. ADD the broccoli to the skillet; stir-fry for 3 minutes or until tender-crisp. Return the beef to the skillet. Stir the soy sauce mixture and add it to the skillet. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute, or until slightly thickened.

    5. SPOON the stir-fried beef and broccoli evenly onto the pizza crust with a slotted spoon. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup of mozzarella. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. While the pizza bakes…

    6. TOAST the sesame seeds for much more exciting flavor. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Immediately remove seeds from the hot pan to avoid over-toasting.

    7. SPRINKLE the pizza with the sesame seeds and serve.
     
    VARIATIONS

  • For a spicier kick, sprinkle with crushed red pepper.
  • For more vegetables, stir-fry 1/2 cup each of thinly sliced onion and red bell pepper, along with the broccoli.
  •  

    Wishbone Italian Dressing

    Wish-Bone, the original Italian dressing in the U.S. Photo courtesy Pinnacle Foods.

     

    ITALIAN DRESSING RECIPE

    Just as cooks in China don’t use American broccoli, cooks in Italy don’t make American-style Italian Dressing.

    Italian dressing is a vinaigrette with minced bell peppers; herbs including dill, fennel and oregano, plus sugar or corn syrup and a touch of salt. Minced onion and garlic, fresh are dried, can be added for more layers of flavor.

    It is often bought bottled, or prepared by mixing oil and vinegar with a packaged flavoring mix consisting of dehydrated vegetables and herbs.

    American-style Italian dressing is believed to date back to the Wishbone Restaurant in Kansas City, MO, in 1948. The recipe was based on the owners’ family recipe from Sicily, which combined oil, vinegar, herbs and spices.

    Demand for the salad dressing proved so great that the owners started a separate business to produce it commercially. The brand was eventually purchased by Lipton and and is currently made by Pinnacle Foods. [Source]

     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE ITALIAN DRESSING

    This dressing can be prepared a day ahead, covered and refrigerated.
     
    Ingredients For 1/2 cup

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crumbled
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Optional: Pinch of sugar or splash of agave
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in small bowl and whisk to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    2. DRESS your favorite green salad.
     
    The difference between homemade and Wish-Bone:
    Wish-Bone Ingredients: WATER, DISTILLED VINEGAR, SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, SALT, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: GARLIC*, ONION*,RED BELL PEPPERS*, XANTHAN GUM, SPICES, SORBIC ACID AND CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (USED TO PROTECT QUALITY), DL ALPHA TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E),REB A (PURIFIED STEVIA EXTRACT), LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, CARAMEL COLOR, MALTODEXTRIN (CORN), MODIFIED CORN STARCH. *DEHYDRATED

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Chickpea Salad

    You can round out the Moroccan Chicken recipe we just published with a green salad, and you can also add another cold salad.

    We’re not sure how this Chickpea Salad recipe came to us. Easy and tasty, it’s from Meaghann McGoun of Love With Food. Thanks, Meghann.

    We especially like this as a spring and summer side with anything Mediterranean-inspired, including simple grilled proteins. Chickpeas themselves, which are seeds of the plant, are also high in protein.
     
    RECIPE: EASY CHICKPEA SALAD

    The recipe can be made a day in advance. Prep time is 30 minutes.

    You can add more veggies to the salad: carrot and, celery, for starters.
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 2 cans chickpeas (15 ounces each)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion (better for the color) or 1 bunch green onions (scallions)
  • 1 bell pepper (color of choice)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • Optional: fresh jalapeño chile
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon sugar (we omit it)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN and rinse the chickpeas.

    2. CHOP the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and pepper to bite-sized pieces. Finely chop the jalapeño and cilantro. Combine the chickpeas and vegetables in a large bowl.

    3. WHISK together the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and and cilantro. Add to the bowl and mix until the salad is coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour for the flavors to blend.
     
    HISTORY OF CHICKPEAS

    The Oxford English Dictionary lists a 1548 print reference to chickpeas (“Cicer may be named in English Cich, or ciche pease, after the Frenche tongue.” But the bean has been eaten since long before recorded history.

     

    Chickpea Salad Recipe

    Dried Chickpeas

    Fresh Chickpeas

    Top: A nutritious and toothsome Chickpea Salad (photo courtesy Meaghann McGoun | LoveWithFood.com. Center: Dried chickpeas from Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans. Bottom: Fresh chickpeas from Melissas.com.

     
    Chickpeas were among the first crops cultivated by man, known as the eight founder crops of the Fertile Crescent. It is one of the earliest cultivated legumes: 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.

    (Cicer arietinum) is a legume of the family Fabaceae family, known variously as the legume, pea, or bean family. You may have seen some of its other names: ceci or cece (Italian), chana or Kabuli chana (Northern India), Egyptian pea, garbanzo or garbanzo bean (Spanish), gram or Bengal gram (British India).
     
    The Evolution Of The Name

    The word chickpea in English came from the French chich, found in print in English in 1388. “Chick-pea” is found in print in the mid-18th century.

    The name evolved from traces through the French chiche to cicer, Latin for chickpea. Fun fact: The Roman cognomen Cicero came from cicer. Yes, the great orator Roman Marcus Tullius Cicero—also a consul, constitutionalist, lawyer, philosopher, political theorist and politician—was a member of the Chickpea family.

    More seriously, a cognomen was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome—the hereditary name that we call a surname, which passed from father to children. The second name—the family name or clan name—identified a particular branch within a family, or family within a clan.
     
    IS THE CHICKPEA A BEAN OR A PEA?

    Peas and beans are both legumes and seeds, both members of the Fabaceae botanical family. Chickpea, also called garbanzo bean, is actually a bean. Some key differences:

  • Pea plants (genus/species Pisum sativum) have hollow stems. Beans (genus/species Cicer arietinum) have solid stems.
  • Peas have leaf tendrils which they use to twine. In general, beans lack tendrils.
  • The taller varieties both peas and beans need trellises to support them as they grow. Most beans just twine themselves over their supports while peas use their tendrils to climb. At each node along their stems, they generate two or three one-inch-long tendrils, which grab and then wind themselves around something a narrow trellis.
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    Read the full article on DifferenceBetween.net.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Farro, The Original Wheat & A Moroccan Chicken Recipe

    With all the focus on quinoa as the “it” grain, don’t hold yourself back from trying other ancient grains.

    Farro, an early, very tasty wheat subspecies, is also known as emmer wheat. Some people also confuse it with spelt (more about that below).

    But it shouldn’t keep you from seeking it out at better supermarkets, specialty food stores, natural foods stores or online. If you don’t like the flavor of quinoa but want more nutrition, this is a must-try.
     
    WHAT IS FARRO?

    An unhybridized ancestor of modern wheat, farro was one of the first grains cultivated by man in the Fertile Crescent, also known as The Cradle Of Civilization.

    Here’s more on the earliest cultivated crops.

    Farro was a mainstay of the daily diet in ancient Rome, and it sustained the Roman legions as they conquered Europe. It was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times.

  • Farro has a mild, nutty flavor, is high in fiber content and nutrients.
  • It can be tolerated by lightly wheat-sensitive people because it has less gluten and the glutenis more easily digested (check with your healthcare provider).
  • It has slightly more protein than modern wheat: 7 grams per 1/4 cup uncooked farrow.
  • Farro cooks like rice and other grains: Rinse, add to a pot with water or stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  •  
    So Why Did Farrow “Go Away?”

    Because the yields aren’t as high as with other wheat species.

    Over the millennia, the tastier and more nutritious strains of many crops were abandoned in favor of strains and hybrids that produced greater yields and were less resistant to weather fluctuations, diseases and pests. Farro ceased to be cultivated, except in a few remote areas.

    (This selective breeding process was also conducted with animal species, both food animals, work animals and companion animals.)

    The growing interest in better-for-you foods has brought farro back.

       

    Farro

    Farro

    Top: A field of farrow (photo courtesy Institute For Plant Sciences | Zurich. Bottom: Farro from Anson Mills.

     
    FOOD 101: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPELT & FARRO

    It’s easy to confuse farrow and spelt. Farro looks rather like spelt, another early species of wheat; but they are not the same. Farro is emmer wheat, the original wheat. The botanical name for farro and emmer wheat is Triticum dicoccum; spelt is Triticum spelta; the most common modern wheat is Triticum aestivum.

  • Farro must be soaked (except for quick-cook brands), whereas spelt can be cooked directly from the package.
  • Cooked farro is firm and chewy; spelt is soft and becomes mushy when overcooked.
  •  
    But note: To be sure you’re getting whole grain farro, look for “whole” or “whole grain” on the label. “Pearled” or semi-pearled farrow, which is quicker cooking, is not whole grain and lacks the fiber and nutrition from the germ and bran of whole grains.

    Pearling removes the inedible hull that surrounds the grain, but the process also scours off part (semi-pearled) or all (pearled) of the nutritious germ and bran. Whole-grain farro is hulled using a gentler process that leaves the germ and bran intact.

     
    WAYS TO SERVE FARRO

    Today’s demands for better foods are bringing back some of the oldies. You can find:

  • Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro at Whole Foods.
  • 10 Minute Farro at Trader Joe’s (see note below re pearled farro).
  • Fargo adds heft and, mouth feel and “chew” to recipes, or as a standalone side. You can serve it hot or cold, as a substitute for rice, quinoa, pasta, or other grain or starch.

  • Farro has a nutty flavor and chewy texture, similar to barley.
  • It can be added to any soup or stew.
  • It can be substituted for rice salad or pasta salad.
  • It is more flavorful than pasta.
  • Whole grain farro is high in fiber plus magnesium and vitamins A, B, C and E. It has less gluten than other varieties of wheat, making it easier to digest. As with other grains, it can be ground into flour to make bread and pasta.
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    Farro For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

  • Breakfast: Use farro in place of your morning oatmeal. Top it with apples, maple syrup and cinnamon.
  • Leftovers: Add any type of leftovers to farro to create a new side or salad, as we did in the photo above.
  • Lunch Salad or Side: Combine cooked farro with olive oil, tomatoes, feta and olives for a Mediterranean-inspired salad. Or try this delicious farro and beet salad recipe.
  • Rice Substitute: Cook and serve as you would serve rice.
  • Soups & Stews: Use farro in soups and stews for a heartier, earthier flavor.
  • Soup Meal: Cook farro with vegetable or chicken stock and your favorite vegetables for a warming and delicious light meal.
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    Moroccan Chicken Recipe

    Farro Salad

    Top: Fragrant and flavorful: Moroccan Chicken recipe from Good Eggs. Bottom: A farrow salad can be served hot or cold. Photo © Dreamtime.

     

    RECIPE: BRAISED MOROCCAN CHICKEN WITH FARRO-CARROT SALAD

    This fork-tender braised chicken recipe from Good Eggs is packed with flavor and ready in an hour.

    Don’t be fooled by the number of ingredients: This dish is deceptively simple and easy to put together. Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.
     
    Ingredients

  • 3 pounds whole chicken legs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Marash* chile flakes
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems sliced into thin rounds and and kept apart from the leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 bunch carrots, one diced and the rest cut into matchsticks
  • 1 dried espelette chili pepper
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ½ can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups farro
  • Handful of almonds, lightly toasted & roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 12 Castelvetrano olives, pitted
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  •  
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    *Marash chile flakes are red pepper flakes from Turkey. They have a complex flavor—fruit and smoke—with moderate heat. Marash is both smokier and a bit hotter than Aleppo pepper, but you can use them interchangeably. The flakes can be blended with lemon juice and salt for a meat rub, or added to olive oil to make a vinaigrette, pasta or rice sauce. Blend the flakes with olive oil for a bread dipper, add to soups and stews, chili or any meat dish. See the different types of chiles and the different types of peppercorns.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Combine the spices—cumin, coriander, fennel, turmeric, cinnamon and Marash chile—in a small bowl and set aside. Pat the chicken legs dry and season with salt, pepper and about half of the spice mix.

    2. ADD 2 tablespoons of olive oil (more if needed) to an oven-safe pan large enough to fit the chicken legs and all of the vegetables. Turn the heat to medium, and when the oil is hot add the diced onion, carrot, celery and cilantro stems (not the leaves). Add a pinch of salt, the remaining spice mix, the dried espelette chile and the bay leaves. Cook until the vegetables are completely soft and the onion is a bit translucent.

    3. ADD half a can of crushed tomatoes and olives to the pan, then the chicken legs, skin-side up. Pour the chicken broth into the pan until the liquid is halfway up the chicken—you’ll want to leave some skin above the liquid so that it can crisp up in the oven.

    4. BRING the ingredients to a boil on the stovetop, then place the entire pan uncovered on the middle or bottom rack of the oven (to prevent burning) for about 30 minutes. Check every 10 minutes to ensure that the skin is getting crispy but not burnt: The pan can be covered with aluminum foil or a lid if it is browning too quickly. If the chicken doesn’t seem to be browning at all, move it up a rack in the oven, but watch it closely.

    5. REMOVE the pan from the oven after 30 minutes and check for doneness using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be 165°F. If not, place the pan it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. When it’s done, set it aside to cool for 10 minutes. While the chicken is braising in the oven…

    6. BRING a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with 2 tablespoons of salt and add 2 cups of farro. Cook according to the package instructions until al dente, then drain and let cool. Toss with a bit of olive oil to help prevent clumping.

    7. COMBINE the carrots, cilantro leaves, farro, almonds, a generous squeeze of lemon and 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a mixing bowl. Toss gently and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the farro salad alongside a chicken leg, with some braising liquid spooned over it.
     
    HERE’S ANOTHER FARRO SALAD RECIPE

    Try this Farro & Beet Salad Recipe.
      

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    TIP: Melt The Butter For Grilled Cheese

    April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day but all of April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Here are some tips from Sara Lee Artesano Bread: the three “Bs” for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich:

  • Base. The bread you choose guides the personality of your sandwich. Use one that crisps nicely on the outside—ideally not supermarket white bread.
  • Butter. While most recipes direct you to spread softened butter on the outside of the bread slices, Sara Lee recommends melting it in the pan first, then moving the bread over the melted butter. This enables every corner of bread to be coated for an even, edge-to-edge sear.
  • Blend. In grade school, grilled cheese sandwiches were most often American cheese or Velveeta, with a slice of tomato and some bacon on a lucky day. But we have grown-up palates now, and those two cheeses should go the way of Puff The Magic Dragon.
     
    THINK OUTSIDE THE VELVEETA BOX

    We respect anyone’s right to use American or Velveeta cheeses, but here are a dozen better choices: Brie, Cheddar, Emmental, Époisses, Fontina, Gruyère, Havarti, Halloumi, Mozzarella, Pepper Jack, Provolone and Taleggio (among others).

    Our personal favorite of the moment: Beecher’s Flagship—a slightly nutty blend of Cheddar and Gruyère cultures—on raisin-walnut bread; or any of those 12 cheeses on slices of a rustic loaf with tomato* and fresh basil leaves. Our forever favorite: truffle cheese!

    Don’t hesitate to pile anything on top of the cheese, from bacon and ham to condiments (caramelized onions, chiles (slices or flakes), chutney, Dijon, olives, pickles, prepared horseradish, preserves, sautéed mushrooms, tapenade, whatever) to fresh herbs, berries and apple slices. Look through the fridge and the pantry. Got capers? Use ‘em. Pickled jalapeños? Ditto.
     
    ON-TREND GRILLED CHEESE RECIPES

    Sara Lee Artesano Bread has taken three of the top food trends of 2016—Hawaiian flavors, vegetable-centric dishes and fermentation—and turned them into grilled cheese recipes.

  • Hawaiian Grilled Cheese: Pair a sharp, salty cheese with meat and fruit. For starters, try Cheddar with ham or turkey and tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple. Sara Lee’s Aloha Pork Grilled Cheese layers Hawaiian Chili Pepper Havarti (substitute Pepper Jack) with tangy pork, barbecue sauce and pineapple rings. Here’s the recipe.
  • Vegetable Grilled Cheese: Pair a sweet-and-slightly-salty cheese with leafy greens. The sweetness and saltiness of a cheese like Gruyère blends nicely with fresh greens. Try a Farm-To-Table Grilled Cheese with Gruyère, microgreens and a fried egg. Here’s the recipe.
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    Fontina Grilled Cheese

    Gruyere Grilled Cheese

    Top: “Fermentation” grilled cheese with Fontina, pickles and charred red onions. Bottom: “Farm To Table” grilled cheese with Gruyère, baby arugula and cracked pepper. Both sandwiches are made with Sara Lee Artesano bread. Photos courtesy Sara Lee.

  • Fermentation Grilled Cheese: Pair a semi-soft cheese with any type of pickled vegetables. This Zesty Grilled Cheese sandwich combines Fontina cheese with spicy pickle slices, charred red onion and aïoli (garlic mayonnaise). Here’s the recipe.
  •  
    We have many more ideas for grilled cheese sandwiches. Just type into the search box at the top of the page, and get lots of options for National Grilled Cheese Month.
     
    ___________________________
    *When there are no decent tomatoes to be had, we default to sundried tomatoes or roasted red pepper (pimiento).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Best Roast Chicken Recipe

    Our mom was a terrific cook, of everything from the simple to the elaborate. On weekday nights, meals would be more simple: grilled meats and fish, salad, a vegetable, a starch. Once or twice a week she roasted a plump whole chicken in a countertop rotisserie, similar to this one but bigger, and without today’s multi-tasking options. It grilled meat on a spit, period.

    She gave it to us one year, when she upgraded to a new model. But as much as we loved roasting a juicy Bell & Adams chicken, taking up two feet of counter space was a hardship in a typical New York City kitchen. So one day, we passed it on to someone with enviable counter space.

    It’s easy to pick up a roasted chicken in a supermarket these days, and some markets use quality birds with a quite satisfactory result. But it’s not in our DNA to buy a pre-cooked chicken. We tried a vertical roaster from Cuisinart which saved us eight inches of footprint—but that was still too much forfeited counter space for us.

    More recently, we came across a simple broiler-and-oven roasting technique from GFF Magazine. If you have a butcher who can debone the chicken for you—or you like to do it yourself (here’s a video tutorial)—you’ll find that the roasting technique delivers the most delicious chicken: very crisp skin and very moist meat.

    The recipe was developed by Chef Daniel Patterson, whose San Francisco restaurant, Coi, earned two Michelin-stars.

    Chef Daniel finished the dish with fried herbs and an herb vinaigrette. We took a shortcut and sprinkled the cooked chicken with fresh herbs.

    It’s not Mom’s beloved rotisserie chicken, seasoned with paprika and garlic salt that scented the air, but it’s time to move on.

    RECIPE: CHEF DANIEL PATTERSON’S ROAST CHICKEN

    Ingredients For 4 to 6 Servings

  • 1 whole chicken, about 4-1/2 pounds, deboned
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Garnish: minced fresh parsley or other herb of choice
  •  

    Roast Chicken

    Whole Raw Chicken

    Top: Chef Daniel Patterson’s easy roast chicken (photo courtesy GFF Magazine). Bottom: If you have a good palate, it pays to spend extra on the best chicken (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     
    Preparation

    This recipe was made in an oven with a top broiler element. If your broiler is in a separate unit, preheat your oven to 250°F.

    1. SALT the chicken 1 to 3 hours prior to cooking and place it in the fridge. Remove it 10 minutes before cooking and place it in a rimmed pan, skin side up.

    2. ADJUST the oven rack to 3 inches from the broiler heating element, and preheat the broiler. Place the pan under the heat for 10 minutes. This browns and crisps the skin. Rotate the pan a few times for even browning.

    3. TURN the oven temperature down to 250°F and cook for an additional 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest for 5-10 minutes, cut the chicken into pieces and serve.

     
    CAN YOU NAME THE CUTS OF CHICKEN?

    There’s much more beyond breast, drumstick, thigh and wing. Check out the parts of a chicken in our Chicken Glossary. Cluck, cluck, cluck.

      

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