Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog Appetit Goes to the Winter Fancy Food Show

Opening day crowd. Photo by NASFT, used with permission
My feet are sore.  My belly is bulging.  My mind is full of great recipes I'd like to create, products I'd like to highlight and human interest stories I'd like to write.  That's because I spent two days at this year's National Association for the Specialty Food Trade's Winter Fancy Food Show here in San Francisco.  

That's a convention center full of goodies to sample, discuss, photograph and ponder.  I can't believe I covered so much and still missed the guy in the bacon costume or the cheese company making free flip books with participants costumed as over endowed milk maids or saucy cows. 

The place was packed and more than a little overwhelming with more than 80,000 products, so I tried to concentrate on just a few subjects and just take the rest in.

Here are just a few of my favorite new-to me products. I'll be featuring more in the coming weeks, but these made a mighty good first impression on me:

Numi Organic Tea's new savory tea line:  These are flavorful light vegetable broths I think taste amazingly good and are nice restoratives or refreshers by themselves, I think they would be interesting to work into recipes for everything from soups to curries to aspics.  I hope to play with these veggie teas a bit and develop a few recipes.  The line is not listed on the website yet.  The beverages just use vegetables and seasonings for flavor and do not contain any tea so they are naturally caffeine free. Each variety has five calories or less.  Introductory flavors are Tomato Mint, Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice, Spinach Chive, Beet Cabbage and Broccoli Cilantro.Watch for more info from Numi (and me) on this.

Brad's Raw Kale Chips: Kale chips were not hard to find at the show, but these were raw, relatively unprocessed and addictive.  I also liked Brad's raw flavored onion rings and the company's zucchini sticks.  At some point I realized I was eating an inappropriate amount of samples because they were so tasty.  I rationalized it by saying I'd mention them on my blog, so here you go.

Coconut Bliss:  This company managed to combine two of the biggest themes I saw on the convention floor -- coconut and salted caramel flavor.  Unlike many of the flavor combos involving these trendy tastes, though, Coconut Bliss pulled them off in an amazing vegan ice cream. The flavor is so new it's not on it's website yet, but watch for it in local stores.

Oh, and a special shout out to Hudson Valley for it's rich and delectable foie gras product and for the generosity in which they welcomed (repeat) samplers. (Please go to their site to read about their cage free and other innovative methods of humane raising of the ducks that provide the livers they market.)

Watch for me from me on the show and related goings on.  Below are excerpts from the NASFT news release for what it's "trendspotters" saw as up and coming at the show.  To see the complete news release, please go here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Take 2 Bowls and Call Me in the Morning -- Chicken Soup Recipes that are Good for What Ails You or a Friend

These chickens make house calls, so to speak.
With cold and flu season in full force, its good to know chicken soup aka “Jewish penicillin,” is good for what ails you according to both your mother and science. Turns out hot soup not only relieves congestion and helps with hydration but amps up the body’s immune system.

While any hot, broth-based soup will help, chicken soup has an added benefit. Research shows cooked chicken contains a chemical that may help keep bronchial tubes clear.

Most commercial brands of chicken soup have been found to be effective, but to me a bowl of homemade soup is the best medicine. So consider making friends and family who are under the weather one of the prescriptions for soup below. The recipes incorporate cold-fighting ingredients such as:

Red bell pepper, lemon juice, spinach:  Reduce a cold’s duration.
Green, leafy vegetables:  Help fight off infection.
Carrots: Bolster immune system.

Garlic: Combats infections and aids immune system.

Turmeric: Boosts immune system.

Salt: Aids hydration. (A little is good, a lot isn’t.)

Cayenne pepper:  Relieves congestion.

Ginger: Reduces nausea and is said the help rid toxins from the body.

If desired, replace raw chicken with 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (add when shredded chicken is called for). Use homemade or low-sodium store-bought broth.  Serving sizes will vary depending on the appetite of the patient.

Oh, and you don’t have to be sick to enjoy these soups. Multiply recipes for family-size servings.

Get Well Chicken Soup
Serves 3-4

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper  
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbs. grated lemon rind
6 cups chicken broth
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
2 large carrots, chopped
1 medium-large red bell pepper, chopped
2 large zucchinis, chopped
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until beginning to turn translucent. Add garlic. Sauté until garlic is beginning to brown. Add cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, lemon rind and chicken broth. Bring to simmer. Lower heat to keep at a simmer. Add chicken breast, cover, and simmer until cooked through. Remove chicken and shred. Return soup to simmer and add chopped vegetables. When vegetables are just tender, add shredded chicken and simmer until vegetables are softened and chicken is heated through. Add lemon juice. Stir well. Taste and correct seasonings.

Chicken and Egg Garlic Lemon Soup
Serves 3-4

6 cups chicken broth
8-10 peeled whole garlic cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1 lb. chicken breast
1/2 uncooked orzo or other  very small pasta
6 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 egg yolks
2 cups chopped spinach or arugula (optional)

Bring broth to a simmer in large pot over medium high heat. Add garlic cloves, salt, pepper, cayenne, ginger and chicken. Cover. Lower heat to keep at simmer. Remove chicken as soon as it is cooked through and shred. Keep cooking garlic until very soft. Let soup cool until safe to handle and puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth. Return to stove and bring to a simmer. Add orzo, cover and simmer until pasta is cooked. Return shredded chicken to pot. Keep at simmer. Beat lemon juice and egg yolks together until combined. Slowly drizzle into soup while stirring soup at the same time. Stir in greens, if using. Simmer until wilted. Stir. Taste and correct seasonings.

A version of this post first appeared as an article in the j. weekly.
Need a vegetarian soup? See my not-chicken soup recipe.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

If Your New Year's Resolution is to Learn to Cook, Then Susie Fishbein Has a Design for You!

Asparagus Fries Ready for the Oven
The New Year is traditionally the time to start thinking about resolutions and if your vows for 2013 include learning kitchen basics or tackling some new recipes, Susie Fishbein’s “Kosher by Design Cooking Coach” (Artscroll) can take you from vow to wow.  

Fishbein’s new book, the latest in her Kosher by Design series, is not just for the novice.  The popular cookbook author has designed a book that works for any level by starting each chapter out with a “game plan” that covers the basic knowledge as well as more advanced techniques the home cook will need for appetizers, soup, salad, poultry, meat, fish, desserts and more.  She also includes information on kitchen equipment such as choosing and sharpening knives, stocking a pantry and planning menus.  Fishbein also has a chapter that lists ideas for repurposing leftovers for most recipes.

The cookbook is also not just for kosher or even Jewish cooks.   Fishbein’s recipes reflect America’s wide-ranging palate with dishes including Slow-Roasted Shiitake Asparagus Salad, Kansas City Ribs, Tandoori Salmon, Kale Chips, Chocolate Peanut Butter Molten Cakes and Thai Sticky Rice and Mangoes.   Jewish-inspired recipes include Vegetable Stuffed Cabbage, Yemenite Beef Soup, Israeli Eggplant Pepper Salad, Lamb Couscous, Shakshouka (a tomato and egg dish), Sweet Spaghetti Squash Kugel, and Chocolate Babka Meltaway.

Thanks to her clear and straight forward directions and the full-color photos of techniques and finished dishes, the recipes I tried were easy to follow and delicious. 

I really enjoyed her Green Bean and Asparagus Fries (although I skipped the dipping sauce in favor of a garlic aioli) as an appetizer or hors d'oevere.  For a main course, try the Pomegranate-Honey Chicken.  Be sure to line the pan with foil for easy clean up.  I would add a little salt and pepper to the recipe, but it was delicious even without it.  Leftovers made a scrumptious casserole with the chicken pulled off the bone and mixed with pomegranate molasses, sauteed onions, garlic and carrots and cooked wild rice mix then baked until heated through.

The recipes for both dishes are below and are from “Kosher by Design Cooking Coach: Recipes, Tips and Techniques to Make Anyone a Better Cook” by Susie Fishbein  (Artscroll Mesorah Publications/October 2012) The recipes have been edited for space.  The recipes are used with permission.  A version of this article appeared in j weekly.

Kosher by Design Cooking Coach’s Pomegranate-Honey Chicken
Serves 8-10

I used the silan (date honey) which added a lot of dimension to the sauce.

12 chicken parts, bone-in, with skin (legs, thighs, breasts) 1/2 cup silan (date syrup) or honey 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 tsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. margarine
Fresh pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Use foil to line a broiler-safe baking dish that holds the chicken snugly.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small pot over medium heat, wisk the silan, brown sugar, juice, terikyaki sauce, cornstarch, tomato paste, thyme and garlic. Bring to simmer for a minute or two until thickened.  Whisk in margarine. Reduce heat slightly.  Cook for 1 minute.  Generously brush the mixture on each piece of chicken.  Drizzle additional sauce over the top of each piece.

Bake uncovered 45 minutes until chicken is no longer pink at the bone (dark meat may take longer, if so remove white meat to a platter and cook dark until done).  Brush the chicken with the sauce in the baking pan every 15 minutes while cooking.  After 45 minutes, turn on broiler and broil chicken until skin is brown and crispy; keep a close eye on it.  Transfer to platter, baste again with pan sauce.  Garnish with seeds and more pan sauce.

Kosher by Design Cooking Coach's Green Bean and Asparagus Fries with Dipping Sauce
Serves 8-10

4 large eggs, whisked well
1 3/4 cups panko bread crumbs
1 lb. green beans, stem ends sliced off
1 bunch (20-28 spears) medium-thick asparagus, bottom 2”cut off
Non-stick oil spray
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs. yellow mustard
1 tbs. finely chopped dill or Israeli pickles
2 tsp. pickle juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place eggs in large bowl, bread crumbs in a second.  Dip a small handful of green beans at a time into eggs and then panko, patting to adhere the panko to the vegetables.  Place in a single layer on large baking sheet(s).  Repeat with remaining green beans and asparagus.  Spray non-stick cooking spray over vegetables.  Bake, uncovered, for 12 minutes, until crisp and light golden brown.  In the meantime, prepare dipping sauce by whisking together mayonnaise, mustard, chopped pickle and pickle juice.  Serve fries with dipping sauce.