Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is upon us, and tradition dictates eating apples dipped in honey to represent a sweet new year. But why limit yourself to apples? And really, why limit yourself to this one holiday to enjoy the sweet stuff?
Honey has been collected and devoured for tens of thousands of years by humans, but bees have been producing honey for millions of years. (Learn a little bit about the bees who make honey.) Honey has many functions: it has been used as a sweetener, medicine and even as an ingredient in early embalming fluid. It is a natural preservative, so it will stay good indefinitely; pots of edible honey have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs!
Bee sure to buy 100 percent pure honey, with pollen listed on the bottle — some products that are sold as honey are really watered-down, high-fructose-corn-syrup-filled Frankenstein versions of the good stuff. Crystallization in your honey indicated that you’ve stumbled across some of the aforementioned, minimally-processed good stuff; if you prefer to drizzle your honey, simply place the container in a pot of water over medium heat on the stove until it all melts down.
Whether you’re celebrating the holiday or the start of the school year, everyone could use a touch of something (or 25 somethings) sweet.
- Kelsey Nixon cooks her chicken wings under the broiler to achieve the classic crispy skin in her Honey Hoisin Glazed Wings recipe.
- Sesame Honey Candy are super easy and great for a sweet snack. Be sure to use a candy thermometer to keep track of the syrup’s temperature!
- Spicy Honey Glazed Peking Style Duck is the perfect meal, if you’re up to the challenge and have room to spare in your fridge. The meat drys out overnight in the fridge coated in a honey glaze. From there everything gets easier. Roast the duck and then serve with caramelized blood oranges and braised turnips.
- Abraco’s Honey Saffron Cake is simple luxury, with saffron flavoring both the cake itself and the syrup that it soaks in.
- The Southern classic Honey Butter is a delicious staple; keep some on hand in case of emergency brunch situations. Start with scones and, from there, I personally suggest trying it on everything else. Beware: It’s addictive.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Honey
A tomatillo is a lot like a present in fruit form. You unwrap the sticky husks and are left with a super versatile, slightly sour golf-ball-size green fruit. Tomatillos are available year-round, but you can find them local and ripe at the end of the summer — the perfect time of year for endless salsas on everything from homemade tortilla chips to barbecued meat and shellfish. Store tomatillos in the fridge for up to a week with the husks still intact. When you’re ready to use, peel the husks off of your tomatillos and gently rinse them (and your hands at that point) to remove the sticky residue left behind. All parts of the fruit are edible except for the husk, so you can just toss the seeds and all of that good stuff into whatever you’re making. Cape gooseberries are the smaller and sweeter, but similarly husked, cousin of the tomatillo, and they also start to pop up in very limited quantities toward the end of summer and beginning of fall. Get peeling!
- Wow your guests with handmade olive tortillas or, if you’re running short on time, buy premade tortillas for the Olive Oil Poached Shrimp with Olive Tortillas, Cumin-Scented Black Beans and Tomatillo Avocado Salsa recipe.
- Cuban Bowl with Tostones is a labor of love. The meat marinates overnight and then is cooked low and slow for six hours. But those bowls of pork, rice, fried plantains and black beans will be SO satisfying that this might just become your go-to slow-cooked meal for fall.
- Substitute tomatillos for tomatoes next time you make salsa for a slightly sour and tangy end product: Fresh Fried Corn Chips with Tomatillo Salsa, Tomatillo Salsa or Salsa Verde: Green Tomatillo Salsa (pictured above).
- Start the day with a balanced meal. Nuevos Huevos Rancheritos are served with black beans, grilled tomatillos, guacamole and a dollop of Cilantro Cream sauce on top.
- Similar to the salsas above, add tomatillos to your guac, then serve Tomatillo Guacamole with everything, especially Skirt Steak Quesadillas.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Tomatillos
Although there is no official season for clams, to me summertime has always meant sitting out on the porch with some fresh clams: grilled and dipped in a beer sauce, raw clams on the half shell with butter, or steamed clams in a white wine and tomato sauce with some fresh bread to “zup up the sauce,” as my family has always said. These little guys are low in fat, high in protein and have crazy amounts of vitamin B12. The best part about clams is that the greatest preparations are often the most simple (and they cook in about 5 minutes)! There are over 150 varieties of clams, but the most popular are quahog, littleneck, steamers, Manila and razor clams.
It may seem tedious, but you need to tap any open clams on the counter to make sure they’re still alive. If the shell is cracked or the clams don’t shut their trap, discard and move on with the prepping process. Because clams live under the sand and use their body as a filtration system, you’re going to want to soak them in fresh water for about an hour to clear out the sand. Everyone has different theories on what to add to the water to get the most sand out; my favorites are cornmeal or baking soda. Pick each clam out individually and rinse its shell under running water (dumping them all out will pour the sand right back into what you just cleaned out). Feeling clammy yet? Here are 25 things you can do with those clean clams:
- Put those suckers straight onto the grill. They’ll steam in their own delicious juices. Try out Grilled Clams and Oysters (pictured), Grilled Clams with Garlic Butter, Grilled Clams with Charred Zucchini and Garlic, and Grilled Razor Clams with Meyer Lemon-Chive Vinaigrette.
- Giada creates pasta perfection with her Conghilie with Clams and Mussels.
- Fresh mayo is just one of those things that probably doesn’t seem worth the effort. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is not very hard and might just be one of the most amazing things you’ll ever eat. Try Alton Brown’s Clams on the Half Shell with Fresh Mayonnaise.
- Pasta with clam sauce is a family favorite. Giada’s Spaghetti with Clams features a white wine sauce while Nadia G. sticks with a rustic tomato sauce in her Linguine with Clams.
- New Haven-Style White Clam Pizza is truly an American classic. Italian immigrants brought the thin-crust pizza to this Connecticut city and the local clams ended up on the square slices.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Clams
Tahini is the glue that holds hummus together — at least that’s what I’ve always thought of it as. But tahini paste, ground-up hulled sesame seeds, isn’t just an ingredient in a dip. This rich and slightly bitter paste stands on its own as a salad dressing, marinade and even as a cooking sauce for meat. Tahini is a staple in North African, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean (Greek, Turkish, Israeli) cuisines, and it pairs well with eggplant, cilantro and yogurt (all popular in those cuisines, as well). Store tahini in a cool, dry place like a cabinet. It is particularly resistant to rancidity, which is an amazing quality for a pantry item. Did I mention that it’s a near-perfect substitute in recipes for people with peanut allergies? Like some natural peanut butters, the oil will float to the top of your jar. Don’t worry about that; just mix it in and go on your merry, sesame-filled way.
- Let the battle of the canned chickpea hummus versus dried chickpea hummus (pictured) begin.
- Once you’ve conquered hummus, try it out in every single variation: Sour Cream and Onion Hummus, Buffalo Wing Hummus, Edamame Hummus and Green Herb Hummus.
- Pickled jalapenos and guava jam stuffed into Black Bean Hummus and Gouda Grilled Cheese is a flavor explosion of the best kind.
- A tofu twist on classic falafel, Tofu Edamame Falafel, Tofu Tahini with pickled shallots makes for lovely hors d’oeuvres.
- Lamb’s earthy flavors pair well with the bright, garlicky sauce in Nigella Lawson’s Lamb with Spinach and Garlicky Tahini Sauce.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Tahini
Beery Chorizo Queso Fundido
Just as the hot dog is an American classic, chorizo is a traditional favorite in Spain, Portugal and Mexico. And just as hot dog styles (red hots versus NYC-style versus all-beef versus pork-beef combo versus skinless — you see my point) vary throughout the country, the ingredients in chorizo vary depending on the part of the world you’re in.
The staple ingredients of this dry-cured (read: ready-to-eat) sausage in Spain are pork, garlic and paprika. Chorizo in La Rioja, in the north of Spain, contains both sweet and hot paprika, while chorizo in Andalusia, in the south of Spain, contains black pepper, cloves and dry white wine along with the standard ingredients.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Chorizo
There are many reasons to make your own ketchup. The bottled stuff (even the most top-shelf variety) has an indeterminate amount of sugar and “natural flavorings” — what does “natural” taste like, anyway?
The easiest way to find out is to make your own, out of strictly natural ingredients. You’ll be able to tweak the flavors to your preference, pulling back on sweetness, if you prefer, or dialing up the spices. And one thing’s for sure: You won’t find bourbon in your grocery store squeeze bottle.
Maple-Bourbon Ketchup Recipe
Continue Reading More Bourbon, Less Sugar: A Ketchup Worth Making
When I was a senior in high school, I spent a week abroad, staying with a family in Nantes, at the mouth of the Loire River on the Western shore of France. It was a world-expanding trip on many levels, but one of the things that surprised me the most was that the food was nothing at all like I expected. Somehow, I figured that in every French household, dinner was a multi-course affair of meats bathed in rich cream sauces, washed down with flagons of claret and followed by mighty towers of croquembouche.
In fact, of course, French home cooking is simple, straightforward and delicious. Humble fare like roast chicken and potatoes is the norm. One evening we had a meal of sausages, poached and then seared, accompanied by tart gherkins and a healthy dollop of grainy Dijon mustard. Previously, my idea of Dijon mustard was Grey Poupon. This was no such thing. It unleashed a chemical blast that crept up the sinuses and seared the backs of the eyeballs, causing involuntary deluges of tears to well forth.
I was hooked.
Continue Reading Mustard That Passes Muster
Guilty confession: Despite my nearly fanatical devotion to all things DIY food, there are a handful of store-bought canned goods that I have a soft spot for. I still occasionally enjoy those bland, waxy black olives, for example. You know, the kind you used to stick on your fingers when you were a kid. (Or maybe you still do that. Don’t let me cramp your style.)
I also love pickled jalapenos. They’re an absolute necessity for all things Mexican, most especially nachos, and I all too often find myself simply plucking them out of the jar and eating them right off the fork. I’m a glutton for punishment that way.
But, hey, when the peppers are popping, there’s no reason not to can a bunch of your own. It’s easy, they’re tasty, and you can tinker a bit with the seasoning to suit your tastes. For example, a touch of honey or sugar helps temper the natural fire of the chiles’ capsaicin while allowing the natural sweetness of the pepper to shine through. Or, leave it out for the full-force burn. (Again, don’t let me cramp your style.)
Pro tip: Be sure to wear latex or plastic gloves while handling hot peppers. If you don’t, there is approximately 100-percent chance you will promptly touch your eyes (or other mucous membranes, ahem). Trust me, it’s not a pleasant experience.
Pickled Jalapenos Recipe
Continue Reading Hot Stuff, Comin’ Through: Pickled Jalapenos
Cajun Okra Gumbo
As a native New Yorker, my first experience with okra was as in culinary school not too long ago. We got a huge crate of these green, fuzzy pods during the summer, and I was supposed to make a family meal for the rest of the culinary school. No big deal. Panic was setting in when one of our chefs came over and taught me a valuable life lesson: When you don’t know how to cook something, you can usually fry it. I cut into one of the pods and tasted it. The earthy, slimy insides just didn’t do it for me. But I followed the chef’s instructions: I dipped them in buttermilk and cornmeal, then tossed them into the deep fryer and finished with some kosher salt. It was love at first bite.
Okra is a staple in Southern cuisine, whether it’s stewed with tomatoes or in a Creole gumbo. But it’s also popular in African, Indian and Caribbean cuisines, acting as a thickening agent in stews and served over rice. Okra is a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Pick out young, small okra pods (about 3 inches in length), as the larger and older pods become very woody in flavor and texture. Store the pods in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for two to three days. Avoid using copper, iron or brass cookware, which turns the color of okra to an unappetizing brown. Although okra is available in many parts of the country year round, it’s at its peak throughout the summer. Start stocking up, because here are 25 ways to use okra:
- Emeril’s Spicy Pickled Okra or Aaron McCargo, Jr.’s Pickled Peppers and Okra make for fantastic Bloody Mary garnishes.
- A seamless blend of Spanish and Creole cuisine: Mila’s Paella Jambalaya
- Make a batch of Alton Brown’s Pickled Okra and use some for Southern tea sandwiches like Pickled Okra Sandwiches.
- Another way to use up the pickled okra you just made: Georgia Rainbow Trout with Butter Bean Succotash, which utilizes lots of summer veggies for a light and quick meal.
- South Indian Spicy Lentil Stew takes Meatless Monday to the next level with the addition of tamarind paste. If you can’t find any tamarind paste at your local Asian specialty market, substitute with lime or lemon juice mixed with brown sugar. Sambhar masala is often a spicy curry powder used in Southern India, usually available at specialty Indian markets. To avoid confusion in this recipe, know that cilantro seeds and coriander seeds are the same thing.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Okra
Even though we’re only a few weeks into the summer, I don’t think I can handle another hamburger or hot dog. Or even a piece of grilled chicken. I need something new, something that will remind my taste buds that there is more to life than beef. Lamb is the answer to your (okay, my) summer prayers — its rich flavor just begs to be cooked over an open flame. Lamb is a good source of zinc, iron and B vitamins. Look for lamb that is pinkish and firm, with white fat. Grass-fed lamb will have a more pronounced (gamy) flavor, so ask your butcher if you’re catering to picky eaters. Be the start of a BBQ revolution with 25 of our favorite lamb recipes.
- Roger Mooking’s Five-Spice Lamb Burgers with Pickled Cucumber Relish and Five-Spice Aioli (pictured above) is a refreshing change from the standard burger. Five-spice powder is a blend of spices that usually includes star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns and fennel seeds.
- Forget about chicken or beef kebabs; try out Lamb Kebabs with Tamarind Sauce.
- Sliders are a barbecuer’s best friend, like Mini Moroccan Lamb Burgers on Brioche with Lemon Yogurt Sauce.
- Abbacchio o Capretto Brodettato: Baby Lamb with Egg Sauce is a simple traditional Italian dish that celebrates spring and is often found at the Easter table in Italy from Rome to Calabria.
- Emeril’s Spicy Lamb and Eggplant Lasagna uses sliced eggplant instead of sheets of pasta for a low-carb (yet still mouthwatering) option.
Continue Reading 25 Ways to Use Lamb