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RECIPE: Spaghetti With A Surprise Cream Sauce

The first surprise in this spaghetti dish with creamy tomato sauce (photo #1) is that there’s no cream, butter or cheese in the sauce.

This San Marzano tomato-based pasta sauce recipe from DeLallo is so creamy, you’d think it would be loaded with cream, butter, and/or cheese.

The second surprise is that the creaminess comes from a vegetable: cauliflower.

It’s not “just” a vegetable: Cauliflower is one of the anti-carcinogenic Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, which also includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radishes, rapeseed/canola, rapini, rutabaga and turnips, among others.

So if you’ve embarked on a more sustainable diet for the new year, try this vegan recipe. You won’t notice the absence of dairy.

Using whole wheat pasta gives it another better-for-you bonus.
 
 
RECIPE: SPAGHETTI OR LINGUINE WITH CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can DeLallo Imported San Marzano Tomatoes (or substitute—photo #2)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ medium head cauliflower, broken into medium florets
  • 1 pound DeLallo Organic Whole Wheat Linguine Pasta, spaghetti, or your favorite whole wheat pasta
  • Garnishes: fresh basil or oregano, red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese (or vegan substitute)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE a large pot of water seasoned with salt to boil. This will be used to cook the cauliflower and pasta. Meanwhile…

    2. ADD the olive oil and garlic to a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and tomato paste, and sauté for another 30 seconds. Finally, add the San Marzano tomatoes. Cook until bubbling, then remove from the heat and set aside.

    3. ADD the cauliflower to the boiling water, lower the heat and boil for 5-8 minutes, or until fork-tender. Transfer to the tomato sauce with tongs, leaving the water in the pot to boil.

    4. USE the boiling water to cook the pasta, according to package instructions. Meanwhile…

    5. CAREFULLY TRANSFER the tomato sauce mixture to a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour the sauce back into the pan. Once your pasta is al dente

    6. DRAIN and add it to the tomato sauce. Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
     
     
    TIP: KEEP THE CAULIFLOWER STALKS

    Don’t throw away the rest of the cauliflower. The stalks, base and leaves comprise some two-thirds of the cauliflower.

    They’re just as delicious as the florets.

  • Cut them into pieces, steam, then mash with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper for another delicious dish.
  • Purée and use as the base for cauliflower soup, with cream, milk or vegetable stock.
  • Chop them to toss into a salad.
  • Slice them and make cauliflower tempura (or other battered cauliflower).
  • The leaves taste like kale, but sweeter. Steam or sauté them, or roast them into crunchy “chips.”
  •  

    Spaghetti Creamy Tomato Sauce
    [1] Make spaghetti or linguine in this creamy, dairy-free sauce (photos #1 and #2 © DeLallo).

    San Marzano Tomatoes Can
    [2] San Marzano tomatoes. Why are they the most flavorful? See below.

    San Marzano Tomatoes
    [3] Fresh San Marzano tomatoes (photo © The Heirloom Tomato Company).


    [4] Don’t toss the rest of the cauliflower: stems, base and leaves (photo © Melissa Breyer. See how she uses them.).


     
    WHAT ARE SAN MARZANO TOMATOES?

    These prized Italian tomatoes, which are D.O.P.-protected (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta), are grown in the nutrient-rich volcanic soil around Mt. Vesuvius.

    An heirloom variety of plum tomatoes, they are naturally so sweet that you’d swear that a can of San Marzanos has added sugar—but it doesn’t.

    Tomatoes originated in Peru. The story is that the first seeds to become San Marzano tomatoes came to Campania, Italy in 1770, as a gift from the Kingdom of Peru to the Kingdom of Naples.

    The seeds were planted in the area that is the present-day commune of San Marzano, a small town southeast of Naples at the base of Mount Vesuvius. The volcanic soil is believed to act as a filter for water impurities, producing a lower-acidity, brighter-flavored tomato.

    The pulp is dense, and because of the lower acidity, the tomatoes have a deeper tomato flavor and a natural sweetness. Sauces made with them require no additional sugar.

    Even the juice in the can that streams from the diced tomatoes tastes like the best tomato juice!

    While the varietal is grown in the U.S. and worldwide, the original San Marzanos, imported canned from Italy (photo #2), benefit greatly from the volcanic soil.

    If you grow the seeds in your own soil, you may not get the same level of sweetness. But try it: The seeds are easily available online.
     
    San Marzano Vs. Roma Tomatoes

    They look similar, but compared to the well-known Roma variety of plum tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes have an elongated oblong shape—thinner and pointier, believed to be a mutation (photo #3).

    San Marzanos have only two seed pockets, while most tomatoes have five to seven. Since seeds contribute acidity, this feature also accounts for the lower acidity.

    The San Marzano is so distinctive and high quality that it is the only variety that can be used to make certified Neapolitan pizza.

    Here’s more about San Marzano tomatoes.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Wonder Melon Watermelon Drink


    [1] Wonder Melon watermelon juice in two flavors (all photos © Wonder Melon).


    [2] Enjoy a glass of straight juice, or blended into a smoothie.


    [3] Make Watermelon Margaritas (photo from Wonder Melon | Facebook).

     

    Some 10 years ago, a California company called Sundia sold the most delicious pure watermelon juice.

    Alas, they got out of the juice business, and we lost our favorite juice.

    It’s quite time-consuming to juice a watermelon at home, so since then we’ve tried every watermelon juice and blend we came across. Nothing made the grade.

    Finally, Wonder Melon: two varieties of watermelon juice blends: Watermelon Cucumber Basil and Watermelon Lemon Cayenne.

    The cold pressed juices are are refreshing drunk plain, in smoothies or cocktails. They are:

  • 100% all natural and organic
  • Certified Fair Trade
  • Certified kosher parve by OU
  • Gluten Free
  • Non GMO Verified
  • Vegan
  •  
    WATERMELON CUCUMBER BASIL WONDER MELON

    This juice is expertly blended with Watermelon Juice, Lemon Juice, Apple Juice, Cucumber Juice, and Basil for an incredibly refreshing juice that’s perfectly sweet with a touch of tartness and light herbaceous. With only 80 calories a bottle, it’s a drink you can’t resist.

    Food Trivia: Cucumbers and watermelons are first cousins.

    Both are from the binomial order Cucurbitales and family Cucurbitaceae, differing only at the genus level.

    That’s why if you eat the white portion of watermelon rind, it tastes just like cucumber.
     
    WATERMELON LEMON CAYENNE WONDER MELON

    A touch of tartness from lemon and hint of heat from cayenne pepper, the juice has just 4 ingredients: watermelon juice, lemon juice, apple juice and a dash of cayenne. An 8.45-ounce bottle has 100 calories.

    There’s a store locator on the website.

    You can purchase Wonder Melon on Amazon.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF WATERMELON

    Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus, is believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. An ancestor of the modern watermelon still grows there.

    That ancestor is not tasty at all: bitter and with many seeds. It was cultivated for the water inside, to quench thirst in the desert.

    Mutations over thousands of years of cultivations created the sweet flesh we enjoy today.

    Watermelons are about 92% water—that’s how they got their name. In ancient times, travelers carried watermelons as a replacement for water—a watermelon canteen, as it were.

     

    Watermelon has been cultivated as early as 2000 B.C.E. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt. Watermelon seeds have been found in the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen (King Tut).

    Here’s more of the watermelon’s history.

    Check out watermelon nutrition.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Meatless Mondays As A New Year’s Resolution


    [1] Acorn squash stuffed with Brussels sprouts, dried cranberries and almonds (photo © Chef Eric LeVine).

    Spinach Stuffed Portabella
    [2] Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms. Here’s the recipe from Healthy Recipes Blog (photo © Healthy Recipes Blog).


    [3] Potato latkes with grilled root vegetables, applesauce, sour cream and Maille mustard (substitute nondairy sour cream—photo © Maille).


    [4] Quinoa and beans salad with roasted heirloom carrots (photo © Obra Kitchen Table | Miami)



    [5] Angel hair pasta with San Marzano tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil (photo © Davio’s | Boston).

     

    New year, new goals.

    As advocates for sustainability, our first tip of the year focuses on Meatless Mondays.

    If you’re not already in the fold, now’s the time to open the gate.

    It’s not just about meat. Cheese and other dairy products, including yogurt and cottage cheese, contribute the same greenhouse gases that meat does.

    Yes, you could eat fish; in fact, substituting more seafood for meat is another important resolution.

    So if you really want to help Planet Earth, we propose to make Meatless Monday, Vegan Monday.

    Almost every health, nutrition and sustainability expert advises: Eat a plant-based diet. Here, we’re only asking you to eat a plant-based Monday.
     
     
    MEATLESS MONDAY: WHERE TO BEGIN

    There are countless online recipe troves to tempt you. You can make—or take out, or order in:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Grain bowls
  • Grilled vegetable plates
  • Pasta
  • Salads
  • Stir-frys
  •  
    For protein, add:

  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • When you look at recipes, you’ll discover that quite a few popular foods are on the Meatless Monday menu.

  • Casseroles, soups and stews galore are vegan and vegetarian.
  • Cauliflower steaks, kale, quinoa and other trending foods are easy to make. Our local Chinese restaurant has Kung Pao Cauliflower.
  • Chili is made from beans.
  • Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines have many vegan options. Falafel, anyone?
  • Hummus is made from chickpeas, a legume. A lunch of hummus and raw vegetables, or a hummus and veggie sandwich, does the trick.
  • Meatless burgers are ubiquitous. Try different brands to see which you prefer.
  • Pasta Primavera tossed with olive oil is a winner. (O.K., you can have a teaspoon of grated parmesan.)
  •  
    Restaurant chains nationwide from Burger King to Chik-Fil-A to KFC offer meatless options. Hooters just debuted Meatless Wings (just as crisp and half the calories of its chicken wings).

    Here are 147 chains with vegan options.

    Here’s a Whole Foods article, 9 Easy Ways to Eat More Plants at Every Meal.
     

    MEATLESS MONDAY HISTORY

    It may seem like Meatless Monday is a 21st-century idea, but it originated during World War I.

    Before formal rationing began, the U.S. Food Administration promoted reduced consumption of key staples to aid the war effort.

    President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for every Tuesday to be meatless and for one meatless meal to be observed every day, for a total of nine meatless meals each week [source].

    “Food Will Win the War,” proclaimed government ads. “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” were introduced to encourage Americans to do their part.

    The effect was overwhelming. More than 13 million families signed a pledge to observe the national meatless and wheatless conservation days.

    During World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt relaunched the campaign to help the war efforts. In the immediate post-war years, President Harry S. Truman continued the campaign to help feed war-ravaged Europe [source].

    Most of us alive today hadn’t heard the term until 2003, when the concept was relaunched by a former advertising executive turned health advocate, Sid Lerner.

    In association with Johns Hopkins University (The Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future), the concept was reintroduced as a public health awareness campaign.

    The “new’ Meatless Monday was launched to addresses the prevalence of preventable illnesses associated with excessive meat consumption.

    With the average American eating as much as 75 more pounds of meat each year than in generations past, the message of “one day a week, cut out meat” became a way for people to do something good healthwise. The health benefits of reducing meat consumption became regular stories for the nation’s news outlets.

    With awareness of global warming and the causes of greenhouses gases, Meatless Monday has achieved even greater promotion as an environmental campaign, and has been growing worldwide.

    The growing vegan movement has greatly helped the movement. Even for omnivores, cafeterias and restaurants offer meat-free options not only on Mondays, but everyday.

    Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to join in.

     

      

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    FOOD HISTORY: Galette Des Rois, Epiphany Cake (The Original King Cake)

    Epiphany, a Christian holiday celebrated on January 6th, marks the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Carnival (which concludes with the beginning Lent).

    January 6th, which is 12 days after Christmas in the Gregorian calendar, is also known as Twelfth Night.

    It can get confusing to those not schooled in the tradition. Epiphany is also known as Three Kings Day, the Day of Kings and Feast Of The Kings (Fête des Rois in French). It’s the day that the Three Kings (les rois) appeared in Bethlehem bearing gifts for Baby Jesus.

    And it’s celebrated with a special cake, Galette des Rois (Cake Of The Kings, a.k.a. King Cake).
     
     
    HOW TO CELEBRATE EPIPHANY

    Epiphany is celebrated with parties for children and adults alike. Whatever the food served, the “must have” is a Galette Des Rois (photos #1 and #2), otherwise known as an Epiphany Cake.

    The cake is a frangipane* tart. In France, people enjoy it throughout January, regardless of religious background.

    Composed of two circles of puff pastry (pâte feuilleté) with frangipane (almond-enhanced pastry cream) in between, each cake comes with a hidden charm or other trinket, called a fève, or bean†, baked into it. A gold paper crown, provided by the baker, sits on top.

    The person who gets the slice with the charm becomes “king” or “queen” for the day, and gets to wear the gold paper crown. But it’s an entailed honor: By tradition, the king or queen has to provide next year’s galette.

    Most people head to the nearest French bakery to buy a Galette Des Rois.

    But you can bake one: Here’s an Epiphany Cake recipe from the two-Michelin-star French chef Héléne Darroze.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF GALETTE DES ROIS

    Hiding some type of token in food is a pre-Christian tradition, with roots in the Roman feast of Saturnalia‡. When the Church later instituted the Feast of The Epiphany to celebrate the arrival of the three wise kings, the tradition of the bean in the cake remained.

    The Galette Des Rois as we know it first appeared in the 14th-century [source].

    Before the custom of the gold paper crown emerged (probably in the 19th century), the cake was covered with a white napkin and carried into the dining room.

    The tradition was adopted by other countries, to a more or less extent.

  • In the south of France, the preference is for a brioche-style cake covered with candied fruit. In Western France, the cake is shortbread-style with fillings such as chocolate-pear and raspberry [source and recipe].
  • In the U.K., in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, fruitcakes with a hidden bean were covered in marzipan and topped with crowns. The day was reserved for revelry and games.
  • During the French Revolution, when King Louis XVI was beheaded, the feast still occurred—but the cake was renamed “Gâteau de l’Egalité” (cake of equality). Even though the cake referred to the Three Wise Men, since the cry of the people was “Down with the King,” anything called “king” was renamed.
  • In New Orleans a similar cake, called King Cake, is used for Mardi Gras, the bookend to the Carnival season. The cake is different—a yeast cake decorated in sugars the colors of New Orleans: purple, gold and green. There’s no crown. (Here’s the history of Mardi Gras and King Cakes.)
  •  
     
    TRADITIONAL VS. MODERN

    While traditionalists like the cakes in the photos, others bake outside the box.

  • Fauchon has created a galette in the shape of a giant pair of lips, adding passion fruit, raspberry and rose petals to the recipe.
  • Dalloyau created a “crystal galette,” with touches of bitter orange and Papua New Guinean vanilla. They’ve even added crystals to the crown (photo #5)
  • Chef Laurent Fau placed a Black Forest Cake cherry rim around the galette.
  • Lenôtre created a charmer called À l’heure du goûter (“time to eat),(photo).
  • Scroll down on this page to see innovative Galettes Des Rois.
  •  
    Are you inspired to create your own Epiphany Cake? Traditional or not, January 6th is a day to celebrate with a good piece of cake.

    Don’t eat sugar? Make a vegetable filling, like creamed spinach with a hint of nutmeg.

    ________________

    *WHAT IS FRANGIPANE? Frangipane is a dense pastry cream flavored with almond paste. The almond paste base is enriched with sugar, butter and eggs. (Alternatively, milk, sugar, flour, eggs and butter are mixed with ground almonds). It is related to marzipan, which also has a base of almond paste. A key difference is that frangipane is a spreadable cream, and marzipan is a semi-hard almond candy.

     

    Galette Des Rois
    [1] Famed patissier Ladurée fills the puff pastry with almond cream, then garnishes the top with a confit of mandarin orange topped with a crunchy biscuit (cookie) of nougatine (almond croquant).

    Galette Des Rois
    [2] Beautiful galettes with different patterns, from the great Parisian pâtissier Pierre Hermé.


    [3] Pierre Hermé adds some color—and two chocolate treats—to this galette.

    [4] Modern chefs add their own creative touches (photo © Breads Bakery | NYC).


    [5] After centuries of tradition, some pastry chefs are ready for a major change, like this “Crystal Cake” from French pâtissier Dalloyau. (photo © Dalloyau).

     
    †Modern trinkets can include anything from a charm to a coin to a plastic Baby Jesus. In earlier days, a bean was more available. Today, any meltable trinket is inserted into the bottom of the cake after baking.

    ‡Saturnalia, a festival spanning December 17-23, honored Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. Festivals were organized in honor of the gods between late December and early January. A dry bean would be hidden in a dish prepared for the household staff (slave servants). The slave who got that helping would be given the “kingship,” which included drinking, gambling and general bawdiness.

    Many Christian celebrations date back to pagan customs. They were adapted by Christians to make religious conversion more familiar to pagans. The Christian festival of the Epiphany is even older than Christmas and Easter [source].

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Crudo, Low-Calorie Raw Fish


    [1] Tuna and salmon crudo, simply garnished (photo © Elea | NYC).

    Salmon Carpaccio
    [2] Like a painting: salmon crudo from Mihoko’s 21 Grams | NYC.


    [3] Creative plating: avocado, pink grapefruit, hamachi and garnish of microgreen and radish (photo © Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse| NYC).


    [4] Add some salad on the side or on top (photo © Catch | NYC).

     

    Looking for low-calorie deliciousness? Or an easy-to-make, sophisticated first course?

    We nominate crudo. It’s raw fish, kin to sashimi, but with a different cut and very varied garnishes.

    It’s the fish version of carpaccio, made from beef (although chefs have adopted the term for vegetable and other meat carpaccios). A recipe is .
     
     
    TYPES OF RAW FISH DISHES

  • Crudo is the term for raw fish or seafood. You will find fish “crudo” on restaurant menus, but that doesn’t make it correct. Raw fish consumption is an ancient practice, beginning with fisherman who would fillet their catch while out on the boat and season it with a bit of salt.
  • Ceviche, seviche or sebiche, from South America, is a marinated raw fish dish that date to pre-Colombian times. Then, seafood was “cooked” (acid-cured) with a fruit called tumbo (Passiflora tarminina, a relative of passionfruit). The Incas cured fish in salt and fermented corn. The Spanish brought onions limes, which are essential to today’s ceviche.
  • Crudo is analogous to sashimi—plain raw fish, although the fish is cut differently.
  • Poke is a Hawaiian dish that recently has made its way from coast to coast. A mix of raw fish and vegetables are served as an appetizer or salad course. It is different from tiradito or ceviche in that the fish is cubed with a soy sauce and sesame oil dressing, and Hawaiian garnishes like roasted crushed candlenut and limu seaweed, along with chopped chiles. It is pronounced poe-KEH. Here’s more about it.
  • Sashimi is Japanese-style sliced raw fish, generally served with a bowl of plain, steamed rice (not sushi rice, which is prepared with vinegar and sugar). The word literally means “pierced body.” No one is certain of the origin, but it may have come from the former practice of sticking the tail and fin of the fish on the slices, to let it be known which fish one was eating.
  • Tataki is a fillet of fish that is lightly seared; just the surface is cooked, with the majority of the fish eaten in its raw state.
  • Tiradito is a more recent dish, fusing the concepts of ceviche and sashimi. Fish is sliced in pieces that are longer and thinner than sashimi. They are artfully arranged on a plate on top of a light sauce, and garnished (with cilantro, fresh corn kernels, thin slices of hot chile, etc.). The name derives from the Spanish verb tirar, which means to throw (i.e., throwing together raw fish with a sauce). Here’s a recipe.

  •  
    RECIPE: CRUDO OF TUNA & SALMON

    Tailor this recipe to your preferences. For example, you can replace the conventional olive oil drizzle with flavored olive oil, add balsamic vinegar, use a Dijon vinaigrette, etc. Garnish with arugula, citrus, herbs, mango, mesclun salad, microgreens, salmon caviar, watercress, etc.

    For a larger dish, you can add salad on top or on the side, dressed very lightly. We like a lemon vinaigrette—half vinegar, half lemon [or lime] juice), or just a flavored olive oil, before topping the fish.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound sushi-grade fish loin or steaks, sliced as desired
  • Quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, plus peppermill
  • Minced chives
  • 2 cups baby greens, loosely packed: arugula, watercress or mesclun mix (more as desired)
  • Vinaigrette as desired
  • Garnishes: capers, microgreens, thinly-sliced hot chile and lemon wedges, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Combine vinegar and mustard in small bowl; whisk in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Season dressing to taste with sea salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.

     
    2. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on a damp work surface (the moisture prevents the plastic from slipping).

    Arrange the tuna slices on the plastic as you would like them to be on the plate (this makes plating them easy). Cover with a second sheet of plastic wrap.

    3. USING the flat side of a mallet, gently pound the fish slices until they are to your desired thinness. Do this in batches as necessary.

    Refrigerate the fish in the plastic for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 hours.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Remove the top plastic sheet from each serving of fish and place a plate upside-down on top of the fish.

    Invert the fish onto the plate and peel off the remaining plastic. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, chives and pepper.

    Toss watercress and 2 tablespoons dressing in medium bowl; season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

    4. MOUND the salad greens on top and serve.

      

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