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Archive for the category “Ingredients”

Horchata in Barcelona

As we were planning our trip to Spain for this past July, our good friends Jen and James gave us a great suggestion.

“You must try horchata!”

Horchata?  The Wikipedia entry explained that it is a beverage made from tigernuts.

In Barcelona, we found a cafe advertising horchata.  We entered and ordered one to share.  We were much more excited than the woman who served us, as evidenced from the photo above.

Verdict?  Yummy (me) or “umm… you can have the rest” (Husband).  It reminded me of homemade almond milk, with very small bits of nut discernible, and not too sweet.

Five Super Spices

A site called Chicago Healers (www.chicagohealers.com) emailed me today to let me know about five of the most nutritious spices, compiled by practitioner Dr. Helen Lee. I don’t always agree with these types of superlatives, but I appreciated the refresher of which benefits certain spices have. (I say “spices” as a general term, encompassing herbs/seasonings/etc.)

1. Cinnamon
· Reduces blood glucose level in Type 2 diabetics
· Lowers triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol
· Great anti-inflammatory helping to reduce pain and discomfort, soreness, and muscle aches

2. Oregano
· Powerful anti-oxidant and cancer-fighting herb
· Phytochemcals in oregano act as anti-bacterial/viral/fungal/parasite chemicals which also aid in optimal digestive health

3. Ginger
· Powerful antioxidant properties which help to reduce damage from free radicals that causes aging and degeneration
· Helps heartburn, morning sickness and nausea/motion sickness

4. Tumeric/Curcumin
· Decreases inflammation of arthritis
· Increases immune function, healthy liver
· Research is also finding it may prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

5. Garlic
· Helps to improve immune system, improve blood sugar, improve skin conditions such as acne & warts
· Reduces triglycerides and reduce arterial plaque between 5-18%

I frequently use cinnamon, ginger and garlic in my cooking, but not so much oregano and tumeric. Note to self.

Muir Glen Reserve 2009 Tomatoes


As a very enthusiastic tomato (and canned tomato) eater, I was thrilled when Julie from Muir Glen offered to send me a limited-edition 2009 Reserve tomato kit.

The prestige and quality of reserve wine, now available in tomato form!

Each 2009 Reserve kit includes:

1. One can each of the Muir Glen Organic Yolo Red diced and Muir Glen Organic Brigade whole peeled tomatoes.  The Yolo Red diced and the Brigade whole peeled canned tomatoes were grown specifically for Muir Glen under certified organic practices and hand-harvested in Yolo County, California. These two exclusive varieties of 2009 Reserve tomatoes were picked at the peak of ripeness and packed the same day.  Yolo Red Diced Tomatoes are sweeter than most, high in lycopene and allow you to create wonderful bruschettas, salsas and soups.   Brigade Whole Peeled Tomatoes are full and plump, have consistent bright red color and are perfect to use in your favorite lasagna, pasta sauce or stew recipes.

2. One can each of the Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted diced and Adobo Seasoned petite diced tomatoes: the classic favorites!

3. Recipe cards from award-winning chefs and The Diary of a Tomato booklet with 25 delicious tomato recipes

When I received this kit, I was blown away.  It is beautifully packaged and would make a fabulous gift.  The tomatoes are all delicious and the recipe booklet is inspiring.  And, best of all, the kit could easily sell for $30, yet it is only $7.  Even more amazing, $3 of each purchase through March 31, 2010 will be donated to worthy causes.

Here is the website to order but hurry, since Reserve 2009 will only last so long!

Himalasalt Zen Salt Cube with Zester

Salt gets a bad rap- especially in NYC now that Bloomberg announced his anti-salt campaign- but the truth is that not all salt is created equal.

Himalasalt is to white table salt as farm-fresh cream is to Crisco.

Follow me?  One is a natural earthly product, healthy in moderate quantities and capable of turning a ho-hum dish into something incredible.  The other is the highly processed factory step-child of the first, leaving little to none of the original intact.  Yet, somehow it’s become common to lump the two together under the banner of poor health and sinful hedonism.

Himalasalt is a pale pink finishing salt that was created 250 million years ago when the earth was still pristine.  In addition to many pre-crushed salts, Himalasalt also has two new products that are in larger slab- or cube- form:

  • Zen Cube, pictured above, comes with a cute “zester” so that cooks (and eaters) can freshly grate the pink salt cube onto food.  Mine has lasted a very long time and stores well.
  • Sushi Salt Slabs are large (think dessert plate-sized), square, 1+-inch thick slabs of pink salt for making and serving sushi.  I also used mine for serving other foods such as appetizers.

Himalasalt‘s packaging is beautiful and they offer gift boxes too.  Thanks to Sue for having samples sent my way.

The Spife: To cut and eat kiwifruit

We’ve all heard of sporks (spoon + fork), but how about spifes?

As Alanis Morissette mourns, “Isn’t it ironic?  It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife…”

Not a problem anymore, Alanis!  The spife (by Zespri) is a spoon + knife.  It’s perfect for eating kiwifruit: the knife slices the fruit in half, and the spoon scoops the flesh for eating.

Plus, how cool is the yellow kiwi above, compared to the more common green?

Apparently kiwis pack more nutrients per bite than the 27 most popular fruits.  And, a Rutgers University study concluded that the kiwifruit is one of the most nutrient-dense fruits on earth. Kiwis are high in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, and have low glycemic levels.

So now we really don’t have as many excuses for not eating as much kiwifruit as we should.

Thanks to Cynthia and the Zespri team for the samples.

Matcha Source Green Tea Powder

Most of us have had green tea, but how about green tea powder?

I had been noticing all sorts of recipes that called for the stuff, but couldn’t locate it at any grocery stores.  I even popped into some tea/spice shops in Chinatown to no avail.

Matcha Source to the rescue!  They sell a powdered green tea that is made of Japanese whole leaves, picked in the springtime and then ground into a fine dust.

I used a sample Wendy sent me to whip up some delicious hot green tea lattes.  The green tea flavor, as expected, is pronounced–but not overpowering, and not bitter at all.

The website has myriad other recipes using powdered green tea, too, ranging from butternut squash and flavored salt to ice cream and truffles.  And remember, anything made with green tea is healthy!

Wedding Cake Test Run

My cousin is making my wedding cake in a few weeks and this is a trial run of the first two tiers.

She is not a professional baker, though she might as well be!

This cake contains: 30 whole eggs, 36 egg whites, 13 pounds of butter, half a gallon of milk, over 10 pounds of flour, 2/3 of a cup of vanilla and 2 cups of espresso. Total servings: 123. Total Weight: 44 pounds. Total Time: 15 hours (approx.)

I am a lucky, lucky girl.  And indebted to my cousin for the rest of my life!

myECOfarmer.com Organic Apple Delivery

One day last week I was feeling kinda blah.  You know how that is.

I got back to my apartment and had a package waiting for me.  Inside that package was a bounty of organic apples shipped from independent family orchards in Washington state via myECOfarmer. My mood lifted.

The apples were of two varieties: pink lady and fuji.  Both were absolutely crisp and delicious, and tasted as though I had picked them myself moments earlier (a taste I recall from October’s apple picking adventure).

My Eco Farmer offers various memberships and giftboxes.  Seasonally, they also ship pears and cherries.

Red Beets, Golden Beets, Oven-Roasted

I do not understand how anyone dislikes beets.

I like vegetables more than most, I admit.  Yet, with most vegetable aversions I can sympathize.

Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus?  I get it.  I hated these growing up.

Brussels sprouts, green beans, spinach?  I can see it.  They’re bad when overcooked.

Radishes, dandelion greens, raw cabbage?  I hear you.  I still don’t love these myself.

But beets?  Beets are delightful.  Beets are sweet.  Beets are the candy of vegetables.  Beets are nearly impossible to overcook. Beets can be eaten plain, sliced into salads, blended into soups, tossed with hard-boiled eggs, pickled sweet or gussied up with olive oil and garlic.  Beets are delicious and lovely.  They taste like dessert, did I mention that?

And, beets are pretty.  These beets are a surprise hybrid born out of roasting red and golden beets together in a packet of tinfoil, thrown into a 400F oven for an hour.

Dwarf Orange, Lemon, Lime Trees

A citrus tree would be a great buffer against the letdown that generally comes after the holidays.  January and February are loooong months, even in non-Leap Years.

Unfortunately they’re only recommended for planting in Zones 8-11, which are least affected by Seasonal Affect Disorder.  And are home to the tannest people.  Unfair.

Varieties available: Meyer Lemon, Clementine Mandarin, Trovita Orange, Yuzu and Mexican Lime.

Sur La Table, $60

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