Hot Tips From Food Network Kitchens’ Katherine Alford:
Here’s an easy way to expose pesky bones in fish: Lay the fillet over an upside-down small bowl, then run your fingers over it to feel for bones. Pull them out with small pliers or fish tweezers, pressing down around the bone with your other hand so the fish doesn’t tear. Give it a try with this Cornmeal-Crusted Trout from Food Network Magazine.
If ever a food needed a brand overhaul, it’s salt cod.
Because nothing about that name inspires cravings. It actually sounds like something you spread on an icy walkway to keep people from slipping.
But salt cod actually has a rich history, especially in Portuguese and Spanish cuisine, which treat this simple ingredient with near reverence. Read more »
If you think you’ve done nearly everything a cook can with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it might be time to talk turkey.
Other than the big bird at Thanksgiving and ground turkey when they’re craving a healthier burger, most people overlook turkey.
Fair enough. Ground turkey can be dry and tasteless. And who has time to roast a bird (or even a massive breast) most nights of the week?
But the turkey tenderloin — a thick strip of meat cut from between the bird’s breasts — turns out to be a convenient, delicious and healthy alternative.
Because the tenderloin doesn’t get much of a workout when the bird is alive, the meat is particularly tender.
And like chicken breasts, it is incredibly versatile, taking well to the grill, skillet or oven and working well with any flavor or marinade.
Get the recipe for Chopped Smoky Turkey Burgers
Last Sunday night on the premiere episode of Chopped All-Stars, the Iron Chef contestants opened up their baskets to find sour trahana. I quickly found myself Googling the term, only to find out several minutes later from Ted Allen that it’s a traditional Greek pasta that is essentially flour kneaded with sour milk, buttermilk or yogurt and some salt.
I couldn’t get a good glimpse of the grain on TV, but imagine a substance similar to couscous.
According to The Food and Wine of Greece by Diane Kochilas, “Until a generation ago, sour trahana was the shepherd’s and farmer’s breakfast. It was made at the end of every summer all over Greece in preparation for the winter months.”
So what can you do with sour trahana? Try cooking it in a soup, like Cat Cora’s Chicken Soup. The longer you cook the grain, the thicker it becomes.
If you can’t find sour trahana in the international aisle of your local supermarket, try searching for it online at a Greek specialty store.
Tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c when four gourmet globetrotters — Keegan Gerhard, Marcela Valladolid, Jeffrey Saad and Aarti Sequeira — take their place on the Chopping Block.
Wild boar: a tasty way to do a good deed.
It’s true — across at least 39 states there are an estimated four million feral pigs and wild boars (they are close relatives and prone to interbreeding) roaming about.
And they are laying ruin to vast acres of land. The problem with wild pigs is they are voracious eaters — shocking, I know — and destroy natural ecosystems.
There is no one solution, but eating them certainly helps. It’s what I like to call taking a bite out of swine.
Bad pig puns aside, people throughout Europe and Asia have been eating feral oinkers for years. Italians are particularly fond of them, turning them into all manner of salumi.
Now Americans are starting to catch on. Feral pig is showing up on more restaurant menus, especially in the South, the epicenter of the problem.
Get the recipe for Fettuccine With Wild Boar Ragu
Peeps get all the glory this month (just check out this Peep Cake), but their plain-old marshmallow cousins can get dressed up for Easter, too. We found this fun trick in the new cookbook Sugarlicious ($18; Harlequin) by Meaghan Mountford: Insert lollipop sticks into marshmallows, then submerge one marshmallow at a time in water. Blot off the excess water with a paper towel, hold the marshmallow over a plate and shake sprinkles over it to coat. Prop up in a cup or foam block to dry.
(Photograph by Charles Masters)
When it comes to food, “recooked” isn’t generally a term met with much affection. The dairy world, however, gives us a fine exception in ricotta cheese.
Ricotta — Italian for recooked — isn’t exactly a stranger to most Americans, who tend to love it in their lasagna and stuffed pasta shells.
But as cheeses go, its versatility is vastly underappreciated, mostly because few people realize how it’s made, or why that matters for how they use it.
So let’s start there. Ricotta got its name because it is made literally by recooking the liquid left over from making other cheese, often mozzarella. This is possible because when the mozzarella or other cheese is made, most but not all of the protein is removed from the liquid, usually cow’s milk.
That leftover protein can be recooked and coagulated using a different, acid-based process (a rennet-based method is used to make the first batch of cheese). The result is a soft, granular cheese with a texture somewhere between yogurt and cottage cheese. The taste is mild, milky, salty and slightly acidic.
Get the recipe for Ricotta-Crab Bites
I am always seduced by the honey stand at my local green market. The beeswax candles, the pollen and the different flavors of honey — how can so much good stuff come from such small creatures?
Here are some of my guidelines for buying honey:
— When I get the chance, I buy the single variety, usually yielded from only one type of flower, from a local producer that I trust. I find color speaks louder than words. Darker honeys, like chestnut and fir varieties, are rarer and have a stronger flavor. I use those on top of pancakes or add to braised carrots or roasted squash. Lighter-colored varieties, like acacia and clover, are mellower and great in tea. They add their honey “note,” but don’t obscure the tea.
Read more of Alex’s tips
Let’s get the hard part out of the way. This week, I’m suggesting you eat something most people spend the better part of their adult lives trying to eradicate from their lawns: dandelion greens. Not the flowers or stems or the puffy white seeds kids love to blow (thereby complicating your eradication efforts).
Just the long, green leaves that grow toward the base of the plant.
While we know it better as a weed, since prehistory the leaves of this plant have been gathered and consumed around the world.
Americans have been cooking with them for many years. In fact, Fannie Farmer included them in the first edition (1896) of her classic cookbook.
The taste is a bit of a cross between arugula and kale — slightly bitter and robustly peppery. They are about a foot long with a saw-tooth edge.
Get the recipe for Cumin-Dandelion Green Cornbread
The problem with buttermilk is there isn’t a lot of real buttermilk around.
The good news is that the newfangled buttermilk available at most grocers isn’t all that bad. Better yet, it’s easy to make the real stuff yourself.
But first, a buttermilk primer.
As its name suggests, buttermilk is the tangy milk-like liquid left behind when cultured cream is churned to make butter. At least that’s how they made it in the old days. Today, it’s usually commercially produce by adding cultures (think yogurt) to low-fat or fat-free milk. Either way, you end up with an acidic, thick milky liquid. But why is this off the beaten aisle? After all, we’ve all had buttermilk pancakes and waffles.
Because what most people don’t realize is just how versatile an ingredient buttermilk is. And it belongs on the dinner table as much as at breakfast.
Read more »