THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.

TIP OF THE DAY: Seacuterie

Every foodie knows charcuterie: meats crafted into pâtés, rillettes sausages, terrines and more.

In the U.S., it is served as a first course and often appears on appetizer boards alongside cheeses and cold cuts.

But whether for palate preference, avoidance of so much animal fat or pescatarianism, a new trend is redefining charcuterie: seacuterie, an appetizer platter* of seafood.

Seacuterie is a new term for smoked and cured fish and shellfish dishes prepared with techniques typically associated with meats.

The first example we know of was the salmon pastrami developed by pioneering chef David Burke at Park Avenue Cafe in New York City, in the early 1990s (photo #4—he called it pastrami salmon).

It was adopted by other chefs, and led to other fish pastrami, culmimating in the most gorgeous mosaic of octopus pastrami from Chef Markus Glocker at Bâtard in New York City (photo #3). Now, chefs from coast to coast—especially seafood specialists—offer seacuterie plates (photo #2).

While you may not be up for making salmon pastrami or octopus pastrami (we couldn’t even find a recipe for it!), you can put together a “seacuterie” board of assorted appetizer fish. We did it for New Year’s Eve—it’s great with champagne and other sparkling wines—and are planning it again for Valentine’s Day.

CREATING A SEACUTERIE PLATTER

This is not an exercise for the faint of pocket, but you can save money by seeking out frozen seafood and limiting your choices (photo #1).

Everything should be easy: nothing in the shell, like crab claws; nothing drippy, like calamari salad.

Select five types of seafood. Some suggestions:

  • Anchovies (we like Cento brand, delicious on buttered bread)
  • Cold smoked salmon (types of smoked salmon)
  • Gravlax (recipe)
  • Hot smoked salmon
  • Salmon pastrami (David Burke’s original recipe)
  • Salads: crab, herring, shrimp, tuna, whitefish
  • Sardines (look for the flavored ones from BELA-Olhão
  • Shrimp
  • Taramasalata (Greek caviar spread, from the supermarket)
  • Tuna or salmon tataki (recipe)
  •  
    ACCOMPANIMENTS

  • Cocktail sauce (recipe)
  • Dill spread (recipe)
  • Horseradish spread (recipe)
  •  
    Plus

  • Assorted breads, flatbreads, specialty crackers
  • Capers or caperberries, drained
  • Lemon or lime, thin slices or wedges
  • Olives
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ARRANGE the items on a large serving platter or board. Some items (capers, olives, salads) will require ramekins or small bowls).

    2. GARNISH the platter with sprigs of dill.

    3. SET OUT cocktail forks or picks, small spoons (like espresso spoons) and spreaders; plus cocktail plates and napkins.

    4. SERVE the breads and crackers on a separate plate or basket, unless you have a jumbo plate that holds everything.

     

    Seacuterie Plate

    Seacuterie

    Octopus Pastrami

    Salmon Pastrami

    [1] You can put together a basic seacuterie board with fresh or frozen seafood (here, formerly frozen shrimp and tuna tataki from Provigo, with dill dip). [2] An elegant seacuterie board from Chef Aaron Black of PB Catch in Palm Beach. [3] Octopus pastrami by Markus Glocker (photo by NY Eater). [4] The original seacuterie: salmon pastrami from Chef David Burke.

     
    ________________
    *A seacuterie platter is different from a plateau de fruits de mer, a platter of shellfish—lobster, oysters, shrimp, etc.—served on a bed of ice, along with condiments such as mignonette sauce, cocktail sauce and lemon wedges. It is usually served on a silver stand instead of a flat plate or platter.

      

    Comments

    GLUTEN FREE: Cheryl’s Cookies

    Cheryl's Gluten Free Cookies

    Gluten Free Cookies

    You can’t tell that these gluten-free cookies are gluten free! Photo courtesy Cheryl’s.

     

    We have dear friends and readers with gluten sensitivity, so we keep an eye out for anything above the ordinary that they might enjoy.

    When Cheryl’s offered us a taste test of their conventional versus gluten-free cookies in advance of National Gluten Free Day (January 13th), we didn’t hesitate to bite.

    They said we wouldn’t be able to taste the difference, and they were correct.

    No one could tell that the GF cookies were gluten free. The texture had no graininess or other telltale sign of most gluten free cookies.

    The one difference is that the GF cookies are less sweet than the conventional ones. But this feature would only be noticed in a side-by-side tasting.

    So if you want cookies for yourself, or are looking to Valentine’s Day gifts, head to Cheryl’s.

    There are gift boxes of every description, filled with:

  • Brownie walnut cookies
  • Snickerdoodle cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Buttercream-frosted sugar cookies
  • Fudge brownies
  •  
    (We tasted only the chocolate chip and snickerdoodle GF flavors.)

    The cookies are produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility, and are individually wrapped for grab-and-go as well as freshness.

    Check out the selection at Cheryls.com.

     

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: More Ways To Enjoy Carrots

    What’s up, Doc?

    The humble carrot, dressed to impress.

    Winter, with its paucity of produce choices, is the best time to enjoy root vegetables. The most familiar—and the easiest to convince family members to eat—is the carrot. Here, some ideas from the familiar to the less so. First…

    A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO ROOT VEGETABLES

    Root vegetables most common in the U.S. include the beet, carrot, celery root (celeriac), Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, kohlrabi, onions (use baby onions), parsnips, potato (use small waxy potatoes), radishes, rutabaga, salsify, and turnip.

    Root vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, which they absorb from the ground. Many are high in vitamin A, B complex and C; plus antioxidants. Root vegetables are an excellent source of fiber.

    Many of these can be eaten raw, steamed, sautéed, baked, roasted, stir fried, or fried.

    In the case of carrots, Whether baby, heirloom or standard, carrots and their root kin are waiting at your nearest market.

    COOKING CARROTS

    Beyond boiled carrots, carrot salad and crudités, consider these preparations:

  • Brochette: Parboil and skewer them, then grill them and serve as a fun brochette.
  • Classic: Steam them and toss in butter with fresh dill or parsley.
  • Gratinée: Roast or steam, top with shredded Gruyere or other cheese and broil until melted.
  • Fancy cut: Cooked the carrots shredded, as you wood a slaw; or use mini vegetable cutters to make small flowers and other shapes.
  • Roasted/Grilled: Roast them in garlic butter and garnish with chopped parsley.
  • Pan-fried: We just tried this for the first time. Here’s a recipe.
  • Pickles: Pickle carrots as you would cucumbers or any vegetables. You can quick-pickle in just an hour.
  • Purée: A terrific way to eat most dense vegetables.
  • Raw: as crudites or grated into a slaw/mixed slaw, or mixed into a salad. Just grate them or slice thinly. Beyond carrots, think beets and radishes. Anything sold fresh with the greens attached—kohlrabi, turnips—will be moist, sweet and of course, crunchy, when raw. While not sold with its greens, rutabaga is mild and often sweet. Although drier than turnips or kohlrabi, it contributes a pale yellow color to the mix.*
  • Soup: When was the last time you made soup? Carrot soup is a perennial favorite. Make it chunky—like a thin purée. Garnish with fresh herbs and, as desired, a slice of bacon or sausage.
  • Sandwich:
  • Different choices here: Roasted carrot or mixed roasted vegetable sandwich, with or without goat cheese; or carrot pickles or carrot slaw on a ham, turkey or other sandwich.

  • Stew: For Meatless Mondays, try this hearty Carrot-Mushroom-Barley Stew from Food Network.
  •  
    WAYS TO TREAT ANY CARROT PREPARATION

  • Blended: Combine with other root vegetables†: beet, celery root (celeriac), Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, kohlrabi, onions (use baby onions), parsnips, potato (use small waxy potatoes), radishes, rutabaga, salsify, turnip, etc.
  • Garnishes: Beyond herbs, consider toasted breadcrumbs, pecans, raisins, seeds or a mix. For color, try dried cranberries, dice red bell pepper or pomegranate arils. Rings of red jalapeño with the seeds and pith remove also work. Those who don’t like heat can set them aside.
  • Heat: Add your choice of heat—cayenne, chile flakes, hot sauce, etc.—to the dish.
  • Herbs: Basil, dill, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme are naturals with carrots.
  • International: From Indian to Moroccan, French to Japanese, your favorite international flavors work with carrots.
  • Spices: “Fall” spices such as allspice, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are delicious with carrots. Also try coriander.
  • Sweet: Add a bit of brown sugar, honey or maple syrup.
  •  
    Do you have a favorite carrot preparation?

    If it’s not listed here, please let us know!

    CARROT HISTORY

    The original wild carrots were white, like parsnips. According to Colorful Harvest, marketer of rainbow carrots, the cultivated purple and yellow carrots—mutations—were eaten more than 1,000 years ago in what is now Afghanistan.

    Other colors are the product of generations of traditional plant breeding. Orange carrots were first successfully bred in Holland from an orange mutation by Dutch farmers. Here’s the history of carrots.

    FROM WHERE DO CARROTS GET THEIR COLOR?

     

    Shredded Cooked Carrots

    Grilled Carrots & Radishes

    Pan-Fried Carrots

    Glazed Carrots With Pomegranate

    Grilled Carrot Sandwich

    Colored Carrots

    [1] “Cooked” carrot salad. Here’s the recipe from Walnut Frog. [2] Carrots with other root vegetables (here, radishes and baby onions). Here’s the recipe, with a maple-honey glaze, from Kalamazoo Gourmet. [3] Pan-fried carrots with parsley. Not the red skin: It’s an heirloom variety. Here’s the recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet. [4]. These glazed carrots are accented with sesame seeds and pomegranate arils for more color. Here’s the recipe from The Café Sucre Farine. [5] Grilled carrot sandwich on crusty bread with goat cheese, apricot jam and toasted pine nuts, at The Wayfarer | NYC. [6] This picture is not Photoshopped: These are natural mutations. See how it happens, below (photo courtesy The Wayfarer).

     
    Deeply colored produce are rich in nutrients, including antioxidants. Different antioxidants produce the different colors or carrots:

  • Red carrots get their color from lycopene, an antioxidant that may promote healthy eyes and a healthy prostate.
  • Orange and tangerine carrots get their color comes from beta-carotene, an antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A.
  • Purple carrots get their color from anthocyanins, the same potent phytonutrients (antioxidants) that makes blueberries blue,. Anthocyanins are flavonoids that may help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood and may help maintain good brain function.
  • Yellow and white carrots get their color from lutein, which studies suggest may promote good eye health.
  •  
    ________________
    *Tenderness, moistness and delicacy depend in part on how and where a vegetable is grown. Those grown in a hot, dry climate without sufficient irrigation can turn out to be pretty hot and spicy. If you end up with that character, you can reduce the spiciness by blanching the cut pieces in salted, boiling water. (Source)

    †Other common root vegetables, that don’t necessarily lend themselves to these preparations, include include daikon, ginger, horseradish, jicama and turmeric.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Citrus Salads

    Beet & Citrus Salad

    Citrus Onion Salad

    Pear Gorgonzola Salad

    [1] Citrus with beets and greens have eye appeal and taste great (here’s the recipe from Southern Living). [2] Pretty as a picture (here’s the recipe from Today). [3] An elegant take on ambrosia (recipe at right, from Fosters Market).

     

    When cold weather limits the choices of both fruits and vegetables, a sprightly citrus salad can be a treat for the eyes and the palate.

    It can be served for lunch or dinner:

  • As the salad course
  • As the main course with a protein—poached salmon, scallops, shrimp or other shellfish a salad course, as a main with seafood
  • As dessert, with burrata, goat or other soft cheese
  •  
    When you mix colors, the results are truly glorious. They’re pretty, taste and good for you!

    You can have a base of greens:

  • Baby arugula and/or spinach
  • Endive and/or radicchio
  • Mesclun
  •  
    The dressings can be:

  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Blue cheese (add a pinch of brown sugar)
  • Fruit yogurt
  • Vinaigrette with a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup
  •  
    Garnishes can add:

  • Crunch (grated carrots, sliced or julienned celery or radish, nuts)
  • Color (carrots, dried cranberries or cherries, green sprouts or cress, pomegranate arils, red bell pepper, red chili flakes or jalapeño)
  •  
    You can also add another colorful winter favorite, beets, to the salad.

    There are endless variations of citrus salads. Here are two classic combinations; elaborate on them as you wish.

    RECIPE #1: AMBROSIA WITH CITRUS & FLAKY COCONUT

    In Greek mythology, the gods ate ambrosia and drank nectar, fragrant foods that were typically reserved for divine beings.

    While no descriptions of either these foods survive (the word ambrosia means delicious or fragrant and nectar indicates a delicious or invigorating drink), scholars have long believed that both ambrosia and nectar were based on honey.

    The elegant recipe that follows (photo #3) is from Fosters Market Cookbook, recipes from a fine market and café in Durham, North Carolina.

    Here’s a recipe for another style of ambrosia from Alton Brown, with a sour cream dressing, pecans, grapes, mini marshmallows and more.

    Ingredients For 8 To 10 Servings

  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 cara cara oranges
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 2 red grapefruits
  • 2 clementines
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 Meyer lemon (substitute other lemon or lime)
  • Preparation

    1. PEEL the citrus. First cut off the tops and bottoms with so the fruit sits flat. Then place on a cutting board and cut away the skin and pith, working around the circle between the fruit and the pith.

    2. SLICE each fruit into rounds or half rounds, depending on the size. Remove any seeds.

    3. PLACE on a large platter or individual plates, and sprinkle with any juice that has collected on the board. Sprinkle the dried cranberries/cherries and coconut over the top.

    4. ZEST the lemon over the salad; then cut in half and squeeze the juice over the citrus.

    5. SERVE, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

     

    RECIPE #2: AVOCADO GRAPEFRUIT SALAD WITH MACADAMIA NUT DRESSING

    Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog developed this recipe by browsing the produce aisle and picking up what was available.

    “Something about the acidic, subtly sweet citrus, creamy avocado, and crunchy macadamia nuts make this salad utterly unforgettable,” Hannah says. “Don’t just take my word for it, because I’m afraid I can’t do it full justice in a few short sentences. It’s just too good to fully explain in words. This simple, invigorating combination will brighten short winter days.”

    If you don’t like avocado, or can’t find a ripe one, she recommends:

    “Mix citrus segments with any other fruits that are available; or make an all-citrus salad, combining segments from grapefruits, oranges, blood oranges, cara cara oranges, and so forth. The mix of colors is absolutely gorgeous.”

    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

    For The Macadamia Nut Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup raw macadamia nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  
    For The Salad

  • 8 cups arugula
  • 2 cups thinly sliced fennel
  • 1 small sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 large pink or red grapefruit, sliced into segments
  • 1 large, ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/3 cup toasted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Grapefruit Avocado Salad

    Grapefruit Avocado Salad

    [4] Grapefruit and avocado with macadamia nut dressing (photo courtesy Bittersweet Blog). [5] A pretty preparation: dressed TexaSweet red grapefruit segments in an avocado half (photo courtesy Texasweet).

     
    1. MAKE the dressing. Combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor and purée on high, until creamy and completely smooth.

    2. PLACE the arugula and fennel in a bowl and toss with the dressing; or if you prefer, serve the dressing on the side. Divide the greens between 2 or 3 bowls.

    3. TOP with equal amounts of grapefruit, avocado, and macadamia nuts. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper as needed, or simply place the shakers on the table for self-service.
     
    MORE WAYS TO USE CITRUS

  • As a garnish on everything from vegetables to mains.
  • Recipes from chiles rellenos to sushi.
  •  
    THE HISTORY OF GRAPEFRUIT

    But the grapefruit’s ancestor, the pummelo (also pomelo or shaddock), comes from far away—it’s native to Malaysia and Indonesia. Pummelo seeds were brought from the East Indies to the West Indies in 1693 by an English ship commander. The grapefruit may have been a horticultural accident or a deliberate hybridization between the pummelo and the orange

    Here’s more.
     
    HOW TO SEGMENT CITRUS

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Poach Your Proteins

    Poaching Salmon

    Poached Tenderloin

    Poached Chicken

    Poached Salmon

    [1] Poaching salmon is the easiest way to enjoy moist, tender fish, without cooking fish aromas. Here’s a recipe from Cooking Light. [2] Our favorite way to make beef tenderloin is to poach it. Here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart. [3] If you make chicken in a pot, or chicken soup with pieces of chicken, you’ve poached a bird. Here’s a recipe from Enki Village. [4] Our first poaching attempt was inspired by classic French dish (here’s the recipe from Buck Cooks).

     

    Poaching food is a topic that doesn’t come up much these days.

    The age-old moist-heat cooking technique simply submerges raw food in a liquid. The technique cooks the food without pulling the moisture from it: The protein is moist, never dry.

    The food cooks at a relatively low temperature (about 160°–180°F), which is especially good for delicate foods (eggs, fish) that might fall apart or dry out with other cooking methods.

    Heartier foods—an entire beef tenderloin or chicken—work equally well.

    Decades ago, when we tried to master the art of French cooking, we purchased a large, oblong fish poacher, a pan created to poach a whole fish.

    Cold poached salmon was a mainstay of French cuisine, served with dill sauce and marinated cucumbers. We loved it and ate it regularly, at the numerous classic French restaurants that graced New York City back then. It looked easy to make, and it was.

    But we subsequently discovered that serving it nicely takes a bit of training. The captains at the French restaurants new how to cut neat slices, avoiding the bones. Our salmon looked like it had been hacked by starving hordes. Sigh.

    We stuck the poacher in the cupboard (until, 10 years later, we learned to poach an entire beef tenderloin, a cinch tot slice), and stuck to poaching fillets. They require zero skill to serve.

    START POACHING TODAY

    Just about any food can be poached, poaches up moist and flavorful, and can be served warm or cold.

    Poaching proteins are an easy and healthy preparation; all your healthcare providers and trainers approve. Poaching has:

  • No added fat.
  • No unwanted aromas drifting through the house.
  • No “watching the pot” (or the grill).
  • Clean-up is easy: nothing sticks to the pan.
  •  
    Bonus:

    You end up with an extra dish, or part thereof.

    The poaching liquid becomes a delicious broth that can be served later, thickened into a sauce, or used in other recipes.

    WHAT’S IN THE POACHING LIQUID?

    The poaching liquid can include whatever flavors you want, from the base to the add-ins.

    Our wine editor, Kris Prasad, who taught us to poach a tenderloin, advised: “Toss in whatever you have: leftover wine, herbs, soy sauce instead of salt, a splash of balsamic, citrus juice or vinegar for tartness. Anything works.”

    The poaching liquid can be:

  • Water or stock/broth
  • Milk, as appropriate
  • Plain or blended with wine (including leftover sparkling wine), beer, dry vermouth, fruit juice
  • In terms of add-ins: Add in whatever flavors you like, from classic mirepoix—carrots, celery, onions—and fresh herbs, to the less obvious—cardamom, cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole nutmeg, etc.

     
    There are recipes galore online, and plenty of videos on YouTube, for anything you might want to poach.

    Don’t wait to try them: You may discover that poaching proteins is your favorite food discovery of the year.

     
      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.