Archive for February, 2011
By ANNIE CORRIGAN
Finding Variety In Your Salad Bowl
Winter farmers markets may lack the colorful fruits and vegetables that make summer markets so fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find variety in food in the cold months as well.
Late-winter greens are chock-full of nutrients, and they have a much stronger flavor than Oak Leaf Lettuce, for instance. They also store well when wrapped in wet paper towels and stored in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator. You can enjoy the greens this way for another couple weeks.
Since the taste can be so robust, using a combination of flavors is important, especially in salads. Get a smokey flavor with rich fattiness by adding bacon, and the sweetness of honey will cut the astringency of the greens.
Various nut oils (like walnut, pistachio, or pumpkin seed oil) also pair well with late-winter greens.
Spotlight On Collard Greens
Collard greens are a hearty plant that can survive in the garden into January.
Many preparations involve cooking the greens for two or three hours with a knob of pork shank. That is indeed delicious, but it is also tasty to enjoy them like the Brazilians do.
Brazilian Style Collard Greens (“Couve a Mineira”) involves slicing the greens into thin strips and sautéing them with garlic and ginger. This dish is served with orange slices.
Cooking Spinach Two Ways
No more soggy spinach! These two methods for wilting spinach do the trick without any added water.
Before cooking, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, garlic powder, and a dash olive oil. But, remember that all types of greens will cook down from a heaping plate-full to a manageable serving, so it’s best to under-season them initially. You can always add more flavor later.
Microwave: In a plastic container, cook the spinach for 4-5 minutes. This length of time wilts the greens completely (depending, of course, on the strength of the microwave).
Broiler: Place the spinach in a metal pan under the broiler. It will begin to wilt immediately. Remove it at your desired consistency. The greens will continue to cook slightly after you remove them from under the broiler.
Get creative in your plating by sprinkling the dish with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and a dash olive oil. (Instead of olive oil, consider adding bacon fat or butter if you prefer). Make sure to serve it with wedges of lemon. The acidity opens up the flavor even more!
In its simplest form, the spinach is wonderful as a warm salad, or you can serve it as a bed for smoked trout, roast beef or sliced veal.
Tuscan-Style Roasted Broccoli
Broccoli can often be shoved to the side of a dinner plate, especially if it’s competing with a foil-wrapped baked potato and a big hunk of meat. “But in Italy,” says Chef Daniel Orr, “they treat broccoli more as the star of the show.”
This dish is served with enough extra goodies that it can stand strong as a main course: anchovies, Gorgonzola cheese, black olives, toasted pine nuts, and tomatoes. It’s also a quick dish to prepare. Since we have blanched the broccoli ahead of time, it will only take 2-3 minutes under the broiler for them to slightly caramelize.
- 1 head of broccoli
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 10-12 basil leaves
- 2-3 sprigs of rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- gorgonzola cheese
- black olives
- toasted pine nuts
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- Cut broccoli florets into thirds and blanch them. (Cook them in salted water, al dente. Then plunge them in ice water to stop the cooking.)
- Tear the basil leaves and spread them and the rosemary on a pan. Place blanched broccoli on top. Sprinkle with olive oil.
- Cook broccoli under broiler for 2-3 minutes. Watch for caramelization on broccoli to know when it’s done.
- Arrange broccoli, basil, and rosemary on a platter. Top with anchovies, Gorgonzola cheese, black olives, toasted pine nuts, and tomatoes. Finish the dish off with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.
So you have booked you and your family on a walking food tour but you don’t have any idea what all needs to be brought to insure a successful event? Fear no more. Our culinary concierges put their tour guide minds together and came up with 10 Things to Bring on your upcoming food tour:
1. Your printed ticket with confirmation code you received from your email confirmation.
2. Comfortable walking shoes…….tennis shoes are perfect!
3. Bottled water for each of your family members including yourself.
4. A handy-dandy fanny pack, or something to carry your belongings in.
5. Sunglasses/hats and other protective gear. Sunscreen is highly recommended.
6. Extra money to shop with……you won’t want to pass up our local artisan items in the shops we visit.
7. Your camera and or video…..beautiful architecture, parks, fountains, and the artistic dishes presented in front of you are worth a thousand words….and photos!
8. Your appetite…..food tours typically sample between 6 to 8 dishes all in one tour. Come hungry!
9. Umbrella or rain coat if weather is predicting showers. We hold all our tours rain or shine.
10. Your sense of humor – our culinary concierges love to tell great stories along the way and love to receive a few laughs for their jokes!
Our Local Roots Food Tours offer 3.5 hour walking tours throughout Sacramento’s downtown districts. You can purchase tickets by visiting GetInSellOut, our third party ticketing agency. We hope you will join us for a gastronomic adventure!
One of the highlights of winter is the abundance of sweet, seasonal oranges — though you can find them year-round, they’re at their peak between December and April. And nothing compares to the taste of fresh oranges.
Oranges, which are not only an excellent source of vitamin C but also a good source of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and a wide variety of phytonutrients, don’t have to be a bright orange color to be good. But look for specimens with smoothly textured skin and those that are firm and heavy for their size (they’ll be juicier). Store oranges either at room temperature or in the fridge.
Thick-skinned oranges like Navels can be hard to peel with your fingers; try paring away the skin with a sharp knife. To create membrane-free sections called “supremes,” run your knife along the membranes separating each section and release the sections into a bowl. Thinner-skinned tangerines and clementines are easily peeled with your fingers.
Fresh orange juice is unparalleled in recipes. Always juice room temperature oranges, you’ll get the most juice out of them. And just as you would with a lemon, you can press and roll an orange on a flat surface to extract more juice. Whether you use a juicer or squeeze oranges by hand, you can save any leftover juice for later use by freezing it in ice cube trays and then storing the cubes in a plastic bag in the freezer.
To give your recipes the most intense orange flavor, use the zest of oranges (preferably organic ones, to avoid pesticides). The zest also boasts some unique beneficial compounds along with all that concentrated flavor and aroma. A zester, grater or microplane tool will all do the job nicely. Just be sure to take off only the orange peel and leave the bitter white pith behind when zesting.
Of course, oranges are also great on their own. Don’t fancy peeling them? Enjoy them like my grandmother did – simply cut in half and scooped out with a serrated spoon, as you would with grapefruit. And be sure to branch out from breakfast and add them to recipes for all times of the day. From starter courses to entrees to desserts, here are six recipes with the sweet goodness of oranges.
Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins
These citrusy, glazed muffins are studded with chocolate chips; is there a better way to start your day?
Read more: http://www.thedailymeal.com/6-zesty-orange-recipes-winter#ixzz1EuQMWDBh”>
These citrusy, glazed muffins are studded with chocolate chips; is there a better way to start your day?
Read more: http://www.thedailymeal.com/6-zesty-orange-recipes-winter#ixzz1EuQMWDBh
Food newsletters, recipes, TV cooking competition recaps, new burgers and pizzas to devour, and old favorites to celebrate. Gordon Ramsey has not one, but two shows on primetime, and the Food Network recently launched a brand new channel. Technorati lists 12,489 food blogs — there’s perhaps more food writing now than ever. It’s part of the reason some are speculating that food is the next bubble. But when you look at the number of people reading all this food writing, trading recipes, and gaping at some of the gorgeous food photography out there, it’s hard to believe this online interest in food is going anywhere anytime soon.
Amidst all this online eating, shutter clicking, and typing, there are some clear winners, bloggers whose sites everyone else compulsively measures their stats against. Who are the leaders in the field, from a quantitative standpoint? What are the 25 top food blogs online today?
In order to determine this, The Daily Meal’s editorial team waded through no fewer than 13 “Best Of” lists that named more than 130 food blogs and looked at the results in tandem with Google page rankings. Then we averaged the number of unique visitors throughout the past year using Compete.com’s monthly statistics.
Many sites won’t surprise you. Near the top: Serious Eats, 101 Cookbooks, and Simply Recipes. While stalwarts of the gastrorati like Eater and Grub Street were on the list, it might surprise you to see them below Smitten Kitchen and Cake Wrecks. Similarly, for all the love out there for sweets, and seeking out the next big dessert trend, it’s surprising too that renowned blogger and author, David Lebovitz didn’t rank higher, and that Dorie Greenspan didn’t make the cut at all. So who did make the list?
The Dollar-Wise Gourmet: If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Tacos
For the budget-minded—and these days, doesn’t that include nearly everyone?—Taco Tuesday is cause for a weekly fiesta. Here aresome local spots that have jumped on the TT trend.
By Cathy Cassinos-Carr
The Place: Azul Mexican Food & Tequila Bar 1050 20th St., Sacramento
The Tacos: Steak, al pastor, carnitas, veggie, chicken and chorizo
Hours: 4–10 p.m.
What Else?: A salsa bar, plus $2.50 beers, $5 margaritas—all in the ultrahip MARRS building.
The Place: Blue Cue 1004 28th St., Sacramento
The Tacos: Chicken
Hours: 4–11:30 p.m.
What Else?: $2 domestic drafts, $3 premium drafts—and you can shoot pool, too.
The Place: Carmelita’s 204 Riverside Ave., Roseville
The Tacos: Chicken and carnitas
Hours: 6–9 p.m.
What Else?: House-brewed beer is a specialty, and on Tuesdays it’s only $1.
The Place: MIX Downtown 1525 L St., Sacramento
The Tacos: Shredded chicken with spicy guacamole
Hours: 4 p.m.–midnight
What Else?: $6 margaritas, including prickly pear and peach-blackberry.
The Place: Vive! Cocina Mexicana & Ultra Lounge 723 K St., Sacramento
The Tacos: Chicken, steak and carnitas
Hours: 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
What Else?: Hey, big spender: There’s also a $2.49 taco supreme.
Crop Freezes in Mexico Affect Grocery Prices in the U.S.
Posted by Leah Douglas, February 21, 2011 at 5:15 PM
“World food prices are reaching all-time highs.”
The last couple of weeks have brought unexpectedly low temperatures to the growing region of Sinaloa, Mexico. As a result, many growers have experienced crop loss of up to 80 or even 100%. Not all growers and crops have been affected, but the industry is nervous and wary of significant price hikes in the coming weeks.
Tomatoes, bell peppers, beans, and eggplant are among the vegetables most devastated, according to The Packer, an industry news website. Watermelon, sweet onions, and grapes have stood up relatively well to the cold.
During the winter months, the U.S. sources the bulk of its vegetable supply from Mexico and Florida. During December and January, Florida experienced a cold snap that wiped out much of the state’s sweet corn, bell pepper, eggplant, and green bean crop. More purchasing was consequently shifted to Mexican growers. This most recent freeze is therefore even more compromising to the produce industry.
resh vegetable supplies will “remain below normal for the next month or two,” accompanied by higher prices for at least the next six weeks.
Beginning in late March or early April, most growing and purchasing is centered in California—but in the meantime, vegetable prices are expected to rise as stock goes down. The extent of the damage done to Mexican crops is so far unknown, but the most recent “Vegetable and Melons Outlook” report from the USDA predicts that fresh vegetable supplies will “remain below normal for the next month or two,” accompanied by higher prices for at least the next six weeks.
Some purveyors are decidedly more spooked, though. Distribution giant Sysco released a bulletin to its buyers, entitled “Mexico’s Big Freeze,” that speaks of “weather disasters” leading to “volatile prices” and “mediocre [produce] quality.” Yikes.
The latest official reports, however, indicate that prices spiked earlier in the month and are now stabilizing. The USDA noted that two-layer cartons of vine-ripe field-grown Mexican tomatoes were $22.95 on Feburary 8—a staggering jump from $6.95 only a week earlier. By February 16, however, this price had dropped to $10.95.
Consumers should therefore be aware of which crops have been affected, but stored produce and expansion to other vegetable-growing regions should lead to less pressure on shoppers.
In the past year, several weather events have led to agricultural disasters. World food prices are reaching all-time highs. In the U.S., we are largely shielded from global market fluctuations. However, environmental factors beyond our control are a strong force, and could lead to dramatic effects for our food supply. Hopefully this particular crop freeze will have only short-term impact on grocery prices.
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work is also featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.
A late-night eatery celebrating the virtue and flavor of garlic is expected to open soon on J Street – replacing Plum Blossom, which mysteriously closed this week.
The Garlic Shack will offer a funky, low-key vibe, with an under-$15 menu starring garlic in everything from Caribbean rice bowls and burgers to dessert, said owner Ken Powers.
“It’s going to be a fun place to come eat some food, drink some beer,” he said. “Almost everything we have will have garlic in it.”
After 20 years in the food industry, Powers is opening his first restaurant on a prime Midtown corner at 18th and J streets. The Sierra foothills resident has mainly worked at restaurants in the foothills and the Sierra Nevada, such as the restaurant at Rainbow Lodge. He also owns a garden store in Lake of the Pines.
On Friday afternoon, Powers and a crew of workers were busy cleaning and preparing for a renovation. A garage door will be installed in front, and a server station will be removed from the dining room. The restaurant will be able to seat 50 to 60 people inside and about 20 outside, with an indoor-outdoor dining room when the garage door is open, he said.
The interior will be painted gold and different shades of red. Powers is hiring Sacramento artist Mikey Dwitt, who’s also a tattoo artist, to paint a giant garlic man in silver and white on an interior wall and possibly smaller “garlic dudes” in a bunch of other places.
The Garlic Shack’s menu is still being developed and will include vegetarian items, soups, salads, rice bowls, burgers, entrees, appetizers and dessert. Items include a Caribbean rice bowl featuring pork, yams and black beans; a portabello Reuben with mushrooms replacing meat and garlic cheesecake. The items will range from $3 to $14.
The Garlic Shack is expected to open in mid- to late March. The restaurant will be open daily. Hours will be 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday or Thursday. Hours on Friday and Saturday, and possibly Thursday, will be 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. or “whenever people stop coming in,” Powers said.
He hopes to create a “very homey” ambiance for diners with details like serving beer in tall cans, which he’s still exploring to see if he can make happen.
“We want to make you feel at home,” he said.
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.