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Food (179 posts)
Why we're thinking of these two things: Salt's BFF goes into everything we cook, and lately we've been combining strawberries with balsamic vinegar.
Putting them together: Instead of giving the berries a sharp bite, pepper lends a subtle warmth.
Add one more element: A drizzle of orange juice over pepper-dusted strawberries creates a luscious sauce for ice cream.
Why we're thinking of these two things: It's common to match the salty Greek cheese with olives, tomatoes or cucumbers, and eat the melon on its own or in a salad with other fruit.
Putting them together: The sweet, juicy watermelon takes on an almost savory edge with sharp feta.
Add one more element: Mint brightens both foods' flavors.
But don't let this news douse your BBQ enthusiasm: there are some easy steps you can take to keep yourself and your guests healthy at your July 4th get-together. The USDA and the US Department of Health and Human Services have teamed up with the Ad Council to produce this Independence Day-themed infographic with the most important steps to handling and serving summertime party food: clean, separate, cook (the food thermometer is key) and chill. (In addition to the helpful advice, we also appreciate that the George Washington character appears to be holding either a teensy tri-corner hat, or a very well-done steak stolen from the grill...).
Cooking safely with turkey
1. Eat what makes you happy.
Barbara Lynch may run the kitchen at the Boston fine dining restaurant Menton, but when she's in a wet bathing suit, she wants a tuna fish sandwich on white bread with tons of mayo, a jar of Vlasic pickle spears, a Diet Coke and Utz potato chips.
2. You get extra points for drawn butter.
Dipping steamed or grilled shellfish--whether steamed clams (which are Annisa chef Anita Lo's choice) or lobster (Marc Murphy of Ditch Plains' pick)--into melted butter is messy, fun...and probably not something you do at home on a typical February evening.
A Non-Squishy Sandwich
The heartier the bread, the more likely it won't get soggy. You can also take a few precautions: spread each slice with butter or mayo, keep meat and vegetables on the inside and cheese on the outside, and make sure lettuce is completely dry before building your sandwich.
Snack Mix That Won't Leave a Trail
Unless you want the car covered in orange fingerprints, save the Doritos and Cheetos for once you reach your destination. Instead, try making your own salty-sweet nosh. This mix from Cat Cora includes cereal (such as Cheerios or shredded wheat), mini pretzels, popcorn, peanuts and wasabi-coated dried peas for a spicy kick.
While you can buy many foods already smoked--chicken, turkey and salmon come to mind--doing it yourself isn't difficult, just time-consuming (you've heard the phrase "low and slow," right?). Smokers run anywhere from $50 to more than $400, but it isn't difficult to turn a basic charcoal grill into one using wood chips you've soaked in water.
To make your own smoker, first remove the grill's grate. Push the charcoal to once side of the grill and light it; the coals are ready when they're glowing red or starting to turn grey. Set a heavy-duty aluminum pan, filled halfway with water, on the other side of the coals. Gently lay a handful of wet hardwood smoking chips over the coals; replace the grate, and place the food on the grate.
NPR's food blog, The Salt, talked to a food science expert who says there isn't much evidence that trace residues--which often show up on foods on EWG's signature "Dirty Dozen" list--are dangerous. For instance, just 1 of 744 apple samples tested had a pesticide residue level higher than the government limit, and most were far below the permissible level. (Check out the post to see other results, including for fruits and vegetables in baby foods).
Unsurprisingly, the guide says you'll lower your exposure to chemicals by eating organic produce--but with summer superfoods like blueberries and bell peppers (which, in their conventional versions, are both on the Dirty Dozen list) now in season, it's a relief to know it's better to eat them than to avoid them.
Dr. Oz's list of foods you should always buy organic
How genetically modified foods affect your health
Cut your grocery bill and save the planet
Espresso BellaVitano from BellaVitano in Wisconsin
The rub: Ground espresso beans
The taste: Nutty, coffee-like
Eat it with: Sweet pastries, bagels, chocolate, nuts, dried apricots
Barely Buzzed from Beehive Cheese Co. in Utah
The rub: A blend of South American, Central American and Indonesian beans, plus French lavender buds
The taste: Slightly sweet, with a faint butterscotch flavor
Eat it with: Espresso, honey, stout beer or Sangiovese wine
Cocoa Cardona from Carr Valley Cheese Co. in Wisconsin
The rub: Cocoa powder
The taste: Milky and sweet (though not overly chocolate-y)
Eat it with: A dab of hot fudge sauce, Shiraz wine, cherries
Why you should try pairing rum and cheese
9 recipes for crispy, amazing, gooey grilled cheese
11 ways to make mac 'n' cheese
Pair them with sesame. As every sushi chef knows, cucumber and sesame seeds are a winning combination. This easy salad incorporates both ingredients. Just don't skimp on the chilling time: part of the dish's charm comes from the cool, juicy texture of the marinated cucumbers. Let the sweet-tart interplay of the vinegar and sugar really sink in.
Get the recipe: Sesame Cucumber Salad
Chop them up for gazpacho. Tomatoes are traditional, but cucumbers and onions also make for a refreshing warm-weather soup. Serve the icy, chunky blend with crunchy, garlic-rubbed country bread.
Get the recipe: Cucumber and Onion Gazpacho
Eat them with salty cheese. Minerally halloumi cheese comes from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where locals enjoy it with cold watermelon. Its slight saltiness also makes it a good match for the fresh taste of cucumber and lemon.
Get the recipe: Halloumi Cheese with Cucumber Lentil Salad
Despite wacky spring weather interfering with the cherry crop in some areas of the country, the ripe, juicy fruit--from intensely sweet, mahogany-red Bings to yellowish-red, delicately flavored Rainiers--is still hitting markets around the country this month. The healthy little orbs are fantastic for snacking, whether you serve them over ice on a sweltering summer day or take them out of the fridge and let them warm up first for maximum flavor. But since you should eat cherries within four days of buying them (turns out moldy cherries are nothing to fool around with), you may want to consider putting some of them in an ultra-simple cake or cinnamon-y ice cream. The only catch: how do you remove those darn pits (that is, if you don't have a cherry pitter)?
There are many ways to pit a cherry if you don't have a dedicated tool. You can use a toothpick, a pointy chopstick or a skewer. But the maneuver I like best employs a classic beauty tool: the bobby pin. First, halve the cherry with a sharp knife; the pit will remain in one half. Next, bend a (very clean) bobby pin so it's open a little wider than usual, then angle it slightly to scoop out the pit. I've found this technique is safer than others (no splintered toothpicks, for one), but even better, it minimizes both the amount of fruit remaining on the pit...and the quantity of blood-red juice on your fingers.
Which is why I was happy to stumble upon the Snack Database, which launched in April and now has close to 200 entries. In an interview with Bon Appetit, the site's creator, Beau Johnson, says he would like the tool to be "ever-growing, documenting all snacks and perhaps aiding in the development of new ones." Clicking through the foods, from apples to banana pudding, is inspiring, though not because the photos are necessarily drool-worthy (they're simple graphic images) or the descriptions and tasting notes are enticing (though they're funny; about a peach, for instance, Johnson writes, "It has a very light orange colored interior and a seed in the center that resembles what the core of earth would look like if it were sliced in half.").
Johnson describes the database as "contemporary art, except with a grain of craft and usefulness." Or, as I prefer to think of it, a lookbook for snacks.
4 crunchy treats to go with a cup of tea or a glass of wine
Keep a few of these goodies in your purse at all times
The most ridiculously easy (and delicious) snack ever