Cinco de Mayo means margaritas and guac (yes, I believe there’s a real holiday in there somewhere), but the recent surge in lime prices has been stealing the show. Let’s bring the celebrations back to the important things: avocados.
Avocados are native to Mexico and are, thankfully, available year-round. They shine on holidays like Cinco de Mayo when we see them in dips, but usually avocados are totally underutilized in the kitchen. Not that we don’t all love guac or avocado toast, but sometimes you need to take a step back and think about how to really use a fruit. Avocados are high in good-for-you (mono-unsaturated) fats and just taste darn great.
Learn more about avocados here and master the art of avocado pit removal here. Once you’ve learned all there is to know about avocados, hit the kitchen. Get the most out of your Cinco de Mayo with these awesomely avocado-filled recipes.
- Avocado Melts swap out the tuna and add avocados and pesto for a vegetarian twist on a classic.
- The Effen Avocado cocktail is a mix of avocado puree, cucumber vodka, agave and a splash of lemon juice — the perfect drink for Cinco de Mayo during the lime crisis of 2014.
- Chocolate Avocado Pudding (pictured above) admittedly sounds awful. Who wants veggies in their dessert? But really, it’s delicious, rich and creamy — and you’ll be able to trick the family into thinking it’s plain ol’ chocolate pudding. FYI, jungle peanuts are a type of heirloom legume grown in the Amazon.
- Sunny Anderson’s Mango and Avocado Salad is like a very chunky salsa that you can eat without chips.
- Keep it simple with five-ingredient Avocado Salsa or garlicky Avocado Salsa.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Avocados
Farmers’ markets, grocery stores and restaurants are flooded for a few weeks every year with ramps, the wild-grown, subtly-flavored cousin of leeks, onions and garlic. Ramps are the official marker of spring in the culinary community and are found in forests up and down the east coast.
But what can you do with them? Substitute for onions, leeks or garlic, or put ramps in the spotlight of your meals by blanching, grilling, sauteing or eating raw. Get some extra info on ramps here or just dive into these 25 ways to ramp up your spring menu.
- Simply grilling or sauteing ramps (toss with olive oil, salt and pepper) are some of the best ways to get the ramps from the backyard into your belly in record time. Take it one step further and top them on crostini for apps.
- Ramp season is only a few weeks long, so extend the shelf life of these babies with a quick Pickled Ramps recipe.
- You can put those pickled ramps from the previous recipe on just about anything, but why not go all the way and shoot for Pan Roasted Skirt Steak with Fingerlings and Ramp Leaves with a Pickle Sauce (pictured above)?
- Or toss those pickled ramps into Egg-Fried Rice with Pickled Vegetables.
- Even better, add the pickled ramps to Sauteed Skate with Indian Lime Pickle. If you’re filleting the skate yourself, be sure to use an old rag to hold it steady — not only is skate super slippery, but it also has prickers that can hurt your hands!
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Plantains are bananas’ starchier older cousin and, unlike bananas, thrive in savory applications. These guys are high in fiber and potassium, and chock full of vitamins A, B and C. Plantain chips are a delicious and nutritious alternative to potato chips (but generally still fried, so stay mindful when snacking).
Green plantains are super starchy — almost like a potato — and can be fried or boiled and then mashed. Grill or bake yellow plantains, which are slightly sweeter. Almost black plantains are the sweetest and are best in dessert applications. For more info on some Caribbean pantry staples check out Pantry: Caribbean Essentials. Plantains always need to be cooked before consuming, giving you the perfect excuse to peruse these 25 ways.
- Roger Mooking’s Plantain Gratin is topped with quick pickled shallots and jalapenos.
- Kelis utilizes leftover cooking liquid from her Plantain Mash to thin out the sauce from her Jumbo Shrimp with Tomato Fricasse and Strawberries (pictured above).
- Alton Brown’s Fried Plantains are fried, soaked in water and then fried again, while Emeril sticks to the simple single-fry method in his Fried Plantains.
- Sunny Anderson uses a combo of butter and canola oil for her Sauteed Plantains, the perfect side dish for Oxtail Stew.
- Lita Oliver’s Plantains a la Gloria is a simple dessert with a depth of flavor from cinnamon nutmeg, vanilla extract and just a bit of lemon juice.
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Have you already run out of Passover-friendly meals and never want to see another piece of brisket again? (Okay, maybe just one more slice). To help you avoid the Passover food rut and the twice-a-day matzo pizza, we’ve gathered recipes to fill your 8 days of unleavened bread. Because you can really only eat so much matzo ball soup before becoming an actual matzo ball.
- Matzo Brei is a mix between French toast and scrambled eggs in the best sort of way. You can go sweet and add some cinnamon and sugar while you scramble, or go savory with Matzo Brei with Creamed Spinach and Crispy Onions.
- Up the ante in the search for the afikomen, a game played during the Passover Seder, by hiding Chocolate Coconut Matzo Bark (pictured above) instead of a plain piece of matzo.
- Matzo meal, finely crushed pieces of matzo, is a game-changer during Passover. Although pretty bland on its own, matzo meal is the base for delicious dishes like Matzo Apple Tea Cakes.
- Matzo farfel is a Passover-friendly egg pasta dough (often sold pre-made) that is mainly used in kugel, soups and side dishes, but it can also be used to make Chocolate Matzo Farfel Haystacks, an easy sweet treat.
- These ain’t your grandmas’ matzo ball soup recipes: Bobby Flay adds flair to Throwdown’s Matzo Ball Soup with the addition of jalapenos. You can also go the mushroom route with Truffled, Shiitake Matzo Ball Soup and gribenes, the kosher version of pork rinds. Alternatively, Sephardic Chicken Soup with Sofrito and Herbed Matzo Balls give matzo balls a saffron makeover.
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Beets somehow perfectly manage to transition from winter to spring, seeming just as appealing roasted in cold weather as alongside fresh greens when the sun is out. Though many may remember sad salad bar beets with disgust, we promise that freshly roasted beets are so much better than that: sweet, slightly earthy and vividly bright — what else could you want from a root vegetable?
Cook beets any which way — steam, roast or fry — just be wary that they have a tendency to dye anything they touch bright pink, so take care to peel them using an old towel or rubber gloves. It may sound silly and extreme but beets have been used as a natural dye for good reason.
If you can get them with the leafy greens still attached, they’re like a two-for-one deal. Don’t know what to do with those beet greens? Prepare as you would Swiss chard or any other type of leafy green. Once you’ve mastered the saute, up the ante with Beet Green Gratin and Beet Green, Prosciutto and Feta Quiche.
Whether the start of spring has brought extreme cold, heat, rain or snow, beets have got you covered.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Beets
Oranges are available year-round, but during winter (when citrus is in season) they give us the little burst of tropical elements and vitamin C that we need to stave off cabin fever and colds alike. So while you’re sifting through these recipes and deciding which ones you need to make immediately, put on the Beach Boys and channel your inner tropical paradise.
- Crepes Suzette with Vanilla Ice Cream and Orange Butter Sauce is a classic combo. Crepes should be paper thin, so just use a small ladle of the batter in a smoking-hot pan — it may take a few tries to get them looking perfect, but even mess-ups will taste good with some ice cream.
- Quick-cooking Grilled Pork Tenderloin a la Rodriguez with Guava and Orange-Habanero Mojo (pictured above) will be a winner with the whole family. Habaneros normally hit around 200,000 on the Scoville scale, which means they’re super-hot — don’t touch your face or eyes after chopping!
- A quick blender ice cream cools down Tyler Florence’s Orange Cream Mimosa. Substitute the Champagne with sparkling cider or ginger ale for an under-21-friendly libation.
- Orange zest can be just as important as the fruit itself, as it gives off a strong fruity-floral flavor without the sweetness from the juice. Experiment with orange zest in everything from marinades to salad dressing to desserts like Toasted Coconut and Orange Icebox Cookies.
- Nothing chases away the winter blues like fiery San Diego-Style Blue Corn Salmon Tacos with Orange-Habanero Hot Sauce.
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Several months into one of the worst winters we’ve seen in a while, I’ve been noticing a collective hostility growing around me. Yes, I live in NYC and people are supposed to be pushy and rude all the time, but we’re not. I swear. People on the subway who would normally hold a door for one another are pushing fellow riders out of the way. So what’s behind the bad attitudes? I’m no psychologist, but I think it’s the weather. We can really only handle so many layers of clothing, snowstorms and days in a row of temperatures hitting the midteens before we start to get a little cranky.
With Valentine’s Dayhere, the most we can do is spread a little love to ourselves and hope that other people start catching the love bug. The best way I know to do this is a homey and comforting winter meal to warm me up from the inside out. At the center of these meals you’ll often find a few parsnips, which are at their peak throughout the winter. Parsnips are cousins to carrots, with the same woody texture as and similar flavor to turnips, and are often used in a manner similar to potatoes.
Pull on your snow boots, pick up some parsnips and get some love cooking in your kitchen.
- Let parsnips shine on their own with simple Herbed Butter Parsnips.
- In a pickle for some pickles? Make quick Pickled Root Vegetable Salad (pictured above).
- Parsnip-flecked Egg “Barley” Farfel isn’t really barley; farfel is an egg-noodle dough grated to resemble barley in size and shape.
- Roasted root veggies are simple side dishes that pair with everything: Try Rosemary-Roasted Root Vegetables and Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts.
- Winter staples (parsnips, butternut squash and fennel) are present and accounted for in Rachael Ray’s Creamy Winter Vegetable Soup.
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Whether your team is playing in the Super Bowl or you’re just there for the food, the real star of the day is blue cheese. Whether it’s gorgonzola, Roquefort or stilton, stinky and creamy blue cheese has you covered for all of your party needs. And when the party’s over? There are recipes for that hunk of leftover blue cheese as well.
- I’ll start you off with some buffalo wings: Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce and Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches with Blue Cheese Aioli, Buffalo Chicken Lollipop Wings with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dip and Bobby’s Buffalo Chicken Sliders.
- And if you wanted those wings without the Buffalo sauce? You know I’ve got you covered: Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Yogurt Sauce, Spicy Chicken Wings and Chicken Wings with Red Hot Honey Glaze and Blue Cheese Celery Dipping Sauce.
- Nigella Lawson’s Universally Useful Blue Cheese Dressing is a great tool to have in your arsenal. What’s better to add to wings or dress up a weeknight salad?
- There a time and place for a classic grilled cheese, and then there’s always time for Great Hill Blue Grilled Cheese, filled with prune jam, fresh pear slices and blue cheese on cranberry walnut bread. It’s all cooked in clarified butter, which is easy to make: heat a stick of butter over low heat until the solids float to the top. Spoon off those solids and you should be left with clarified butter, which has a higher smoke point than the stick of butter you started out with.
- Sweet, savory and on a stick, Date and Blue Cheese Stuffed Meatballs (pictured above) will be a hit at your next party.
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Pantry staple cinnamon is a superstar, particularly over the winter when you’re craving a warm, spicy escape from whatever that week’s weather brings. You may already mix cinnamon with sugar and sprinkle it on toast, or put it in a cheesecloth bag along with orange peel, cloves and star anise for some homemade mulled wine to warm up on a cold night, but we both know it sits in your spice rack the majority of the time.
The cinnamon most-often found in the grocery store is cassia, which usually comes from China and is the best cinnamon variety to use in baking due to its potent aroma (when ground, it has the classic cinnamon aroma, and as a whole stick is so tough that it normally requires a knife to break). Ceylon cinnamon, often referred to as true cinnamon, comes from Sri Lanka and is more subtle and citrusy than other varieties. It’s also thought to have many health benefits, like helping to stabilize blood sugar in diabetics.
Spices really don’t go bad and expiration dates are just a guideline. Spices lose their flavor over time, but generally stay good for a year or two when kept in a cool, dark place. The best way to tell if your cinnamon is still good is to take a sniff or dip your finger in and taste it. If it doesn’t taste as strong as you remember, it’s probably time for a new jar.
Sift through your spice cabinet and warm up with these 25 ways to use cinnamon:
- A sprinkle of cinnamon brings a layer of flavor and warmth to an Italian classic that comes together in minutes: Cinnamon-Pancetta Carbonara.
- Homemade doughnuts are way easier than you would have expected. Start Cinnamon-Spiced Doughnuts (pictured above) the night (or at least a few hours) before you want to eat them, so they have time to proof and get all fluffy.
- Orange veggies and cinnamon are a match made in heaven, like Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon and Roasted Squash with Brown Butter and Cinnamon.
- Stick to your New Year’s resolution with Stone Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips. Making your own pita chips is simple: Toss flour tortillas with butter, cinnamon and sugar, and pop in the oven until crispy!
- Mexican wedding cookies are normally nutty cookies rolled in powdered sugar. Michelle Branch’s Cinnamon- and Chocolate-Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies step that up a notch with the addition of cinnamon and cocoa powder.
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Ring in the new year with some pomegranates, which are eaten in Turkey to bring luck, health and prosperity for the coming year (and coincidentally, are at the peak of their season). Similarly, on New Year’s Eve in Greece, a whole pomegranate is smashed on the floor for good luck at the stroke of midnight. But it’s not just luck that these thick-skinned fruits will bring you; they have loads of antioxidants and are a super sweet-tangy addition to everything from salads to homemade lollipops.
There are a few ways to remove the seeds from the pith of pomegranates. My favorite way (the best option to work out some anger management issues) involves whacking pomegranate halves with a large metal ladle over a sturdy bowl. You can also cut the pomegranate in quarters and stick them in a bowl of water. Peel the seeds from the pith to easily release them. If you need further brushing up on your pomegranate skills, watch this video.
So even if you don’t buy into the whole pomegranate-brings-good-luck thing, there’s no harm in adding some extra antioxidants to your new year with the following recipes:
- Nadia G.’s DIY Vodka Bar with Spicy Pomegranate and Lemongrass Limeade Mixers (pictured) is the perfect (stress free) setup for a New Year’s Eve bash.
- Pear Crumble with Pomegranate Sauce utilizes pantry staples like all-purpose flour and steel-cut oats for a quick dessert.
- Raita is an Indian yogurt condiment that can be used as a dip, dressing or sauce. Nigella Lawson makes Pomegranate Raita to drizzle over Mughlai Chicken, Muttar Paneer and Pilaf for a Curry Banquet (though you could always just eat the raita on its own as a snack).
- Butter Lettuce, Mache and Pomegranate Seeds Dressed with Champagne Vinaigrette is exactly what your New Year’s resolutions called for.
- If you’re not ready to start on those resolutions yet, make a batch of frozen Pomegranate Margaritas or take your Pomegranate Margarita on the rocks.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Pomegranates