A Fresh Summer Meal: Tomato, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato Tart with Caramelized Onions & Goat Cheese

Plump tomatoes, buttery crust and creamy goat cheese? Yes, please! Tomato Tart with Caramelized Onions & Goat Cheese. Photo credit: Laura Bolton for Fork Knife Swoon, http://www.forkknifeswoon.com.

We’re all about fast, delicious summer dishes this month at Gourmet Food World, so to continue on that trend, this week we’re featuring a great recipe that combines fresh flavors with delicious ingredients, and that essential touch of sophistication that all our gourmet customers look for. This week: Tomato, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Tart, by Fork Knife Swoon.

Savory tarts, or quiches, as they’re also widely known, are probably one of the most versatile dishes you can turn out. First off, they’re light, but you can pack them heavy with veggies, so you get a nice, healthy serving of greens. A tart can work perfectly for brunch, lunch – we love it paired with a baby green salad – and can also serve as a nice appetizer for dinner. It’s even a great light summer dinner option when paired with a more consistent side dish, like quinoa or couscous.

Creamy and tangy goat cheese

Creamy & tangy goat cheese. Photo: GourmetFoodWorld.com

This Tomato, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese tart recipe is a perfect example of a classic savory tart.  It masterfully combines the freshness of tomatoes with the sweetness of a perfectly caramelized onion,  but the truly outstanding ingredient here is the goat cheese – tangy, yet superbly creamy and indulgent, with its winning tanginess. All of these perfectly-cooked ingredients are contained in a flaky pastry shell, the perfect buttery vessel to contain all these flavors.  The result is pretty and colorful, making it a beautiful dish to serve to guests.

Pair this mouthwatering tart with a chilled glass of your favorite crisp white wine, and toast to Laura from Fork Knife Swoon, who was kind enough to share her fabulous recipe with us.  Visit her blog at http://www.forkknifeswoon.com, where you’ll find delicious recipes for the home cook, with a focus on seasonal produce and whole foods.

Tomato, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Tart

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe paté brisée
  • 6-8 medium-sized tomatoes
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • kosher salt
  • freshly-ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 425º F.
  2. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 1/8″ thick. Using a saucer as a guide, cut out four 6″ circles of dough. Place each one over a 5″ tart pan, and gently use your fingers or a dry pastry brush to smooth the dough into the pan. Using a knife, trim the dough so that it is flush with the edge of the pan. Place tarts on a sheet pan and place in the refrigerator.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Peel the onion and slice it into thin rings. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Let cook, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic, turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid. Cook an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the onions become golden.
  4. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes cross-wise into thin rings, about 1/8″ thick.
  5. Remove the tart shells from the refrigerator. Crumble 1 oz of the goat cheese into the bottom of each tart in an even layer.
  6. Add 1/4 of the onions to each tart. Arrange the tomato slices in an overlapping circular pattern, with one slice in the middle. Top with 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake until the tarts begin to bubble and the crusts are golden brown, about 45-50 minutes. Let cool on a baking rack for 15 minutes before serving.
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/a-fresh-summer-meal-tomato-caramelized-onion-goat-cheese-tart/

Products from this post:

Goat Cheese >
Tart  Shells >
Olive oil >
Kosher salt >

Jerk Spices & Fabulous Jamaican Jerk Spiced Nuts

Jamaican Jerk Spiced Nut Mix

Cocktail perfect! Jamaican Jerk Spiced Nut Mix, by Sue Moran of Theviewfromthegreatisland.blogspot.com

This blistering city summer gets us hankering for warm breezes in our hair, soft sand between our toes, and delicious regional cuisines. Instead of concentrating on work, we found ourselves fantasizing about an island vacation…somewhere divine, like the gorgeous beaches of Jamaica. And, because we are also constantly thinking about food, the next natural thought after Jamaica was, “oh, Jerk spices, yummy!”

Unfortunately, there was nary a Jamaican beach nor restaurant in the horizon for us, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t bring a taste of it to our tiny apartment. So, the challenge arose, how to get the warm heat of Jerk spices into a dish suitable for summer? Something with heat, but also heat-friendly.

Enter the AMAZING Jamaican Jerk Spiced Nuts, by blogger/chef extraordinaire Sue Moran from “The View From Great Island”!

This recipe works on so many levels, it’s amazing. Perfect as a poolside snack with a chilled soda, or for summer cocktails at sunset, these jerk spiced nuts give us a bold taste of the Islands and take old boring cocktail nut mixes to the next level.  And her personal twist to the traditional jerk spices of adding a bit of brown sugar to offset the heat, and lemon for contrasting tang? Culinary genius!

Heaven! And definitely tropical and exotic!

All the ingredients for a fabulous jerk spices mix.

Spice set-up: all the ingredients for a fabulous jerk spice mix. Photo by: Sue Moran, www.theviewfromthegreatisland.blogspot.com.

Jerk Spices & Fabulous Jamaican Jerk Spiced Nuts - Sue Moran

Jerk Spices & Fabulous Jamaican Jerk Spiced Nuts - Sue Moran

Ingredients

  • Nuts
  • 5 cups mixed raw nuts (Sue used walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamias, cashews, hazelnuts and almonds)
  • Jerk Spices
  • 3 Tbsps. coconut oil (Sue used virgin oil)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp. ground dried red peppers
  • 1 Tbsp. ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsps. smoked sea salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Put the nuts in a large skillet and roast them for about 15 minutes over medium heat. Stir them often, and shake the pan gently. After about 10 minutes you should start to see a hint of color on the nuts. You will hear the crackle of skins crisping, and begin to smell the aroma. Continue roasting for another 5 minutes, being extra careful not to let them burn. Don’t walk away; nuts can burn in an instant.
  2. Gently transfer the nuts onto a baking sheet.
  3. In the same pan, add the oil, sugar and lemon juice. Heat until sizzling, and all the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add the nuts and the rest of the spices back into the pan and continue to roast for a few more minutes, stirring to combine everything.
  5. When the nuts have absorbed all the liquids, transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet and spread them out to cool.
  6. After they have cooled you can store them in an airtight container.
  7. Just before serving, heat the nuts on a dry baking sheet at 300 for about 5 minutes. Serve warm.
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/jerk-spiced-nuts/

Jamaican Jerk Spiced NutsClose-up on the finished product: Jamaican Jerk Spiced Nuts, by Sue Moran of Theviewfromthegreatisland.blospot.com

We are eternally grateful to have found this recipe for, THANK YOU, Sue, for letting us share it with our readers! For more fabulous recipes by Sue, along with gorgeous and instructive pictures, go to her blog at www.theviewfromthegreatisland.blogspot.com. To view her original recipe click here.


Products from this post:
Jamaican Jerk Spice >
Allspice >
Ginger powder >
Ground Cloves >
Saigon Cinnamon, ground >
Garlic Powder >
Smoked Sea Salt >
Brown sugar >
Macadamia nuts >
Almonds >
Walnuts >
Pecans >
Hazelnuts >
Pistachios >
Cashews >
Peanuts >

Summer Moments: Perfect Summer Cocktails!

bouleymartini22 Fiesta Margarita22

Left: The Bouley Apple Martini, photo compliments of Bouley Restaurant. Right: The Fiesta Fatale Margarita, compliment of Patricia Richards.

Late in the day, right after the sun has set, comes the most magical hour of summertime: twilight. That perfect time of day when the temperature has cooled, crickets start chirping, fireflies twinkling, and the day winds down. It’s the perfect time to sit on the porch while sipping a cocktail, watching another summer day come to an end. This special summer moment got us (of course!) thinking about cocktails, and inspired us to bring you two refreshing summer-evening cocktail recipes. They both use refreshing fresh fruit purees, and have been designed by two of the top restaurants in the country.

apple decor

Photo: apple décor at The Bouley Restaurant in NYC, photo by Michael T.

THE BOULEY APPLE MARTINI: Fresh Sophistication

Where to find it: The Bouley Restaurant, NYC, NY

Apples. That’s the first thing that comes to mind once you enter the famous Bouley Restaurant in Tribeca. This modern French eatery by four-star chef David Bouley is all about classic romance, with silver candelabra, vaulted ceilings and sumptuous velvet chairs, but it also has one very distinct, signature décor item: apples. Lined up in wooden shelves at the entrance of the restaurant, fresh, juicy apples welcome you, scenting the air and preparing your senses for the gastronomic adventure to come.

With that inspiration in mind, Bouley serves up a famous (and delicious!) signature drink: the Bouley Apple Martini. This electric green cocktail is the perfect beverage for summer, with fresh apple notes and a touch of sweetness. It’s made using apple fruit puree, giving it a distinct fresh touch.  Not travelling to NYC anytime soon? No worries! They were nice to enough to share the recipe with us, so that you can enjoy your very own Bouley Apple Martini at home, while listening to the cicadas sing on a hot summer night! 

BOULEY APPLE MARTINI

2 oz. Ravifruit Apple puree
2 oz. Apple Vodka
½ oz. Pommeau de Normandie
Apple chip

Fiesta Fatale MARGARITA: Exotic summertime heat

Where to find it: Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas

Las Vegas is all about excess, luxury and indulgence, and the food and drink at the Encore Wynn Hotel is no exception. The drink design at the Las Vegas Wynn properties (all 25 of them!) is helmed by Patricia Richards, master mixologist and drink crafter extraordinaire. With over 20 years in the business of mixing delicious drinks, Patricia is not only at the top of her field, but is also a pioneer for women in the industry.

She describes her tequila-based “Fiesta Fatale Margarita, as a cocktail with “a hint of spice with bright citrus notes and subtle savory notes from the fresh basil. It blends the intensity of the tequila with the sweetness of the agave nectar and Passionfruit fruit puree. The spicy twist is compliments of the Creole Shrubb Liqueur, a blend of white and aged Agricole Rhums macerated with Creole spices and bitter orange peels. Finally, some fresh sour notes of lemon and limejuice. Fresh, spicy and exotic, every sip of Fiesta Fatale brings on the heat and evokes sultry, sweaty nights in the Mexican Caribbean!

Fiesta Fatale Margarita

1 ½ oz. Milagro Anejo Tequila
¾ oz. Clement Creole Shrubb Liqueur
¼ oz. Ravi Fruit Frozen, Sweetened, Passion Fruit Puree
5/8 oz. Milagro Light Agave Nectar
5/8 oz. Freshly Squeezed & Strained Lemon Juice
1 oz. Fresh Squeezed & Strained Lime Juice
3 Fresh Basil Leaves
1 good pinch of Kosher Salt

Freshly squeeze & strain lemon juice and then combine it with equal parts of Milagro Light Agave nectar to make an agave sour mix. Set aside. In a mixing glass, muddle basil leaves with freshly squeezed limejuice. Add the remaining ingredients listed, including the agave sour that you just made (1.25 oz.). Shake well with ice to chill and strain over fresh ice into a tumbler glass. As garnish, top with a small basil top and several dried Chile threads.


Want to try your hand at more summer cocktails? Just use any fruit puree in the flavor that like the best, combine it with your favorite spirit like vodka, gin or tequila, lots of ice, and concoct refreshing drinks sure to beat the heat!

Products from this post:

Green Apple Puree >
Passion Fruit Puree >
Pomegranate Puree >
Lychee Puree >

How To Grill the Perfect Steak

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us once again, and that can only mean one delicious thing: Barbeque! Ladies and gentlemen, brush out the grills, and sharpen those knives, because grilling season is now open! We show you the way to your best Memorial Day barbeque, with tips, tricks and techniques to grill perfect, juicy, sizzling steaks, all summer long! We consulted with the experts and prepared the essential how-to guide to grilling like a pro.

perfect wagyu steaks for grillingAustralian wagyu steaks

Step 1: Get the best meat possible

This is perhaps the simplest and most important thing to do to achieve the perfect steak. Look for high grade cuts with lots of marbling (the white fat than webs across the meat). That beautiful marbling means gorgeous flavor and lots of juiciness.  Also look out for grass-fed beef, as it’s more intense and flavorful than grain-fed.

Step 2: Fire It Up

In the battle of man versus meat, the most powerful weapons in your arsenal are…a grill and good, hot fire! Keep in mind that as soon as you start putting meat, the grill will start cooling down. Pre-heat your grill well before tossing those steaks on top. Get it really hot, so hot you can barely put your hand over it, and then start grilling. Next, create grill zones using the 2-Zone technique, where you have a hotter side of the grill (direct radiant heat), and a less hot zone on the other size (indirect convection heat).

smoked sea salt for grilling the perfect stake

Smoked sea salt

Step 3: Seasoning

Keep it simple. Season on BOTH SIDES with salt and pepper, which will help it develop that beautiful brown crust. If your meat is high in fat and marbling (like Wagyu beef, for example), it already has enough natural oils to develop the crust, so don’t brush it with olive oil, as it will only hide that delicious flavor. Don’t start with a steak right out of the fridge; let it come to room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Step 4: It’s Grill Time

Your steak is seasoned, your grill is hot, and it’s game time! First, make sure that there’s plenty of room on the grill that you can move the steaks from one heat zone to another, otherwise there’s no point to the 2-Zone technique. Second, leave it alone! Don’t move the meat around the grill or flip it around until it’s good and ready, or otherwise it will stick to the grill, and you won’t get that delicious flavor from the grilling. Only move it from one zone to another, and to flip it. We consulted our expert, The Reluctant Gourmet, who recommends: “start with the hot side for a quick sear, and then finish cooking on the indirect side”.

Step 5: Cooking Times

How long do you cook a steak for? The Reluctant Gourmet had this to say about proper grilling times for steaks, “I start by grilling for 2 1/2 minutes, then turning it 90 degrees and cooking for another 2 1/2 minutes, flip the steak over to it’s other side and repeat the process thus giving the steak the classic grill marks”.

THE TOUCH TEST

To test if the steak is done, you’ll compare it with how the fleshy part of your hand feels in certain positions.

Rare: a rare steak should feel like the fleshy, spongy triangular area between your thumb and index finger (relax your hand when doing this).

Medium: make a loose first, and touch that same triangle area. See how much firmer it is? That’s the feel of a steak when it’s medium-done.

Well done: make a hard fist, and try again. The area is now tight and hard, which is how a well-done steak should feel like.

Step 6: Rest

Once the steak is done, take it out of the fire and set it on a plate. And wait. At least five minutes. We know you’re hungry, but trust us; it’s worth the wait. The juices need to settle inside the steak, if you cut into it too soon, you’ll lose those delicious juices.

Step 7: Eat!!

You now have the perfect steak, cooked to perfection, enjoy!

Shop Grilling Essentials:

Australian Wagyu Steaks >
Grilling Salts >
Gourmet Pepper and Peppercorns >

Our grilling expert: The Reluctant Gourmet is G. Stephen Jones, a self-taught chef and stay-at-home dad from Philadelphia, attempting to overcome his own “reluctant” tendencies in the kitchen. You can find more great cooking info on his website, http://reluctantgourmet.com/.

Top Molecular Gastronomy Techniques Deconstructed, Plus The Best Molecular Gastronomy Recipes For Amateur Modernist Chefs

Molecular gastronomy is a cross between cooking and science, using scientific experimentation to deconstruct food to its simplest elements, only to reconstruct it in new and unexpected ways.

Those who delve in it are in part mad scientists and gourmet chefs, but the best molecular gastronomy chefs are those that find the perfect balance between flavor and artistry, without neglecting the showmanship that comes with this type of cooking.  The premise is exploration, expanding the boundaries of food by using a scientific approach to cooking.

There are many different techniques used in molecular gastronomy, all developed to create delicious dishes in surprising new presentations.  Below we explore the most popular techniques: spherification, gelification, emulsification, transformation, and sous vide.

1. Pearls & Caviar: Spherification

honey-caviar QC molecular recipes

Spherification is arguable the commonly seen molecular gastronomy technique. It basically uses chemical reactions to “trap” liquid ingredients with an extremely thin, tasteless membrane, forming clear “beads”, which look like pearls or caviar eggs. The technique is based on the reaction between calcium chloride and alginate, two substances that when mixed together gel together. The main ingredient– for example, orange soda – is mixed with the calcium chloride, and then dropped into a mixture of alginate and water, one drop at a time, each drop immediately forming a bead. You’ll need a molecular gastronomy kit, but spherification is fairly simple, and any liquid concoction can be transformed into a delicious edible bead to accompany dishes and drinks.

Recipe: Honey Caviar with Fourme D’Ambert and Black Tea  by Quantum Chef of MolecularRecipes.com

2. Foams and Airs: Emulsification

Foams, or ‘airs’ as they’re sometimes called, are used in molecular gastronomy to add an extra touch of flavor, an almost ethereal quality to a dish. Super light, you almost don’t eat them, but rather the foam dissolves in your mouth, enveloping your taste buds in a flavor that disappears seemingly into thin air. The technique is not hard to master, as it mainly relies on using a hand blender to mix your ingredient of choice with soy lecithin. An emulsifier derived from soybeans, lecithin has little flavor so it will not affect the taste of the foam you’re creating, but finding the right proportion is key.  The applications are endless, from balsamic foam to put over strawberries, to a citrus air to top a margarita cocktail, to the inventive chive foam recipe below.

Broiled Mussels with Chive FoamRecipe: Broiled Mussels with Chive Foam by Popartichoke.com

3. Molecular Gastronomy = Slow and Easy: Sous Vide

Sous vide is the technique of slow cooking meat under a water bath, at low even temperatures (55 to 60 °F), and for an extended period of time. The technique has existed since the late 1700s, but was lost over time and only rediscovered in the mid 1960s. Because the meat is immersed in water that is at a constant temperature, every part of it cooks evenly, no juices escape and it is never overdone, and because the temperature is so much lower, the food cells do not rupture, rendering the texture superbly succulent and tender. The cooking times can vary, but sometimes can last for as long as two or three days! Sous vide requires special equipment, most specifically a “sous vide machine” or some type of immersion circulator. They’re available for sale home use. Once you have the technical side figured out, the tenderest steak you’ve ever had can be cooked right in your kitchen!

Sous Vide Steaks Molecular GastronomyRecipe: Sous Vide Steaks by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Seriouseats.com

4. Gels: Gelification

This technique is one of the more intricate of those used in molecular gastronomy, and it relies on jellifying agents like Agar Agar or Carrageenan.  The purpose is to turn liquids into a more solid state. This allows the cook to serve what are typically liquid dishes in a new, more solid and unpredictable format.  We love this application, since it allows you to experience food in such a completely different and fun way, especially the “noodle” technique. For this technique, the gelling agent is mixed with the liquid ingredient of your choice (say, tomato soup or papaya juice) and brought to a boil, then later passed through a clear silicone tube (to achieve that spaghetti shape) under an ice bath.  The result is perfectly shaped gel ‘noodles’!

Papaya Noodle Molecular GastronomyRecipe: Papaya Agar Agar Noodles by Jason Logsdon of ModernistCookingMadeEasy.com

peanut butter powder jelly noodles
Recipe: Peanut Butter Powder & Jelly Noodles by Mira Mi of Mirauncut.com

5. Transformation:  Transglutaminase

Though it sounds less than appetizing, one of the best and most fun techniques in molecular gastronomy uses something known as “meat glue”, known also by its technical name, transglutaminase. This is a tasteless enzyme that can bind together protein-rich foods like meats.  It comes in the form of powder that is brushed into the two sides of meat to bind, which are then pressed tightly together for certain period of time to fully set. The fun part is that you can form meat into different new shapes (like bacon spirals!), or even bind together two typically thin cuts (like flap steak) to get a nice thick steak.

Baconspiral Momofukufor2 Molecular GastronomyRecipe: Bacon Spiral by Stephanie Voon of Momofukufor2.com

Traditional cooking is great, but there’s something to be said about experimentation and the science of cooking with molecular gastronomy. A few key essential ingredients and some equipment are all that’s needed to create new, innovative and delicious new dishes!

Hypertension – Reducing Your Risk For High Blood Pressure

Intro: April 7th is international World Health Day and we’re talking high blood pressure.

World Health Day is celebrated internationally on April 7th, and each year, the organization picks a theme that “highlights a priority area of public health concern in the world”. For 2013, the issue of concern is high blood pressure. One in three adults around the world suffer from high blood pressure, so chances are high that you, or someone in your family, has it or is at risk of having it. Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure can cause increase the risk of serious health conditions, like stroke, heart attacks and heart failure. If you have diabetes, then those risks are even higher.  Plus, for older women at risk of Osteoporosis, excessive sodium might cause the body to excrete calcium.

High blood pressure is most commonly associated with a high-salt, high sodium diet. The recommended intake of sodium is below 2,300 mg per day and if you think of it terms of quantity, consider this: just one teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 milligrams (mg) of sodium and a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup a whopping 890mg.  Odds are, you’re getting more sodium than is healthy.  As a matter of fact, most Americans get DOUBLE the recommended amount.

So, should you never look at a saltshaker or can of soup again? That’s not realistic, nor necessary, since you shouldn’t cut out sodium entirely from your diet. Sodium is essential to your body, helping it maintain the right balance of fluids. The key is to make sure you keep the quantity you consume low, and that means making a few chances in your diet.

Cut Back on Processed Foods


The main culprit for the rise of high blood pressure in the US is the massive consumption of processed and packaged foods. These foods are PACKED in salt, to preserve them and to enhance the flavor. Avoid especially anything that comes in a can or frozen (like packaged pizzas or frozen portioned meals). Of course, your busy modern lifestyle might not allow you to make homemade dishes for every meal, so if you eat a prepared frozen meal, like Lean Cuisine, make sure you choose one that has under 600mg of sodium, and watch your salt intake the rest of the day.

Binge on Veggies


Fruits, too.  Most non-processed foods like fresh vegetables and fresh fruits have negligible amounts of sodium. They’re full of vitamins, minerals, and are just overall the best types of foods you can eat.  There are certain vegetables that even help lower your high blood pressure, thanks to some key vitamins and minerals, especially potassium and magnesium. What veggies to buy in bulk? Anything rich in potassium and magnesium, both great allies for lowering blood pressure. For example: spinach, beans (black, white, navy, pinto, lima and kidney), potatoes, and bananas (high in potassium).

Be A Dairy Queen (or King)


Fruits and vegetables are not the only foods that help lower blood pressure. Skim milk and other low-fat milk-derived products like yogurt and cottage cheese can reduce the risk of hypertension. These foods contain Vitamin D and calcium, two powerhouses that work together reduce blood pressure, sometimes by as much as 10%.  Replace or supplement your usual breakfast with a bowl of cottage cheese with some mixed berries (also delicious for a dessert!).

One Square a Day Keeps the Doctor Away


Another great, unexpected and delicious heart-helping, high-blood-pressure-busting food? Dark chocolate! Just one little square of dark chocolate can help to lower your blood pressure in just 18 weeks, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. The trick is to choose chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa powder, and to keep it to one piece a day, since chocolate is high in calories.

Love the Labels

The best and easiest way to control your salt and sodium intake is to read labels. Nutrition labels must state you how much sodium is in one serving of any given food. Note: keep an eye too on how many servings you’re consuming.  The renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota recommends that you keep to under 200mg per serving. A slice of whole wheat bread, for example, has about 132mg of sodium, so that’s a good breakfast choice.  Want to know the sodium content of most foods? Check out the super useful USDA National Nutrient Database sodium reference chart, here.

Masters in Marketing

Beware of gimmicky marketing claims that some food companies like to use, with words like “reduced” or “light” in sodium. Yes, a food might be reduced in sodium, but how much sodium did it have to begin with? 25% less sodium out of 1000mg is still 750mg of sodium, a pretty high amount. Go instead for “Sodium Free” (less than 5mg), Very Low Sodium (less than 35mg) and Low Sodium (less than 140mg).

trader_joes_ingredients

Photo credits: The Allergista

Move That Body

It’s not just what you eat; lowering your high blood pressure also means living a healthy lifestyle, which goes beyond diet. Exercise is an integral part of maintaining a healthy body weight, so make sure you get the recommended 30 minutes daily.

No Smoking Allowed

If you’re looking for another reason to quit, consider this: every cigarette you smoke temporarily increases your blood pressure while you’re smoking it and for several minutes afterwards. So if you have high blood pressure or at risk, quit. If you’re not at risk, quit anyway!

Leading a healthy, active lifestyle and following a low sodium diet is the best, proven way to reduce not only your high blood pressure, but also your risk of many diseases.  So on April 7th, go your neighborhood pharmacy, have your blood pressure checked, and see what chances you need to make to your life to be as healthy as you can possibly be.  Happy Health Day 2013!

Happy Birthday, Oreo! Our favorite Oreo recipes list

Oreo cookies turn 101 years old on March 6th, and we thought to honor this most delicious treat by giving you some fun facts about these extremely popular cookies, along with our favorite Oreo recipes!

oreo cake recipe

Photo credit: TheKitchn

What’s in a Name?

The name “Oreo” is a household name, but what does it really mean? Well, nobody really knows! It seems that the origin of the name has been lost over time, and today we can only guess where it came from. Some think it comes from the Greek, where the word “oreo” means beautiful, and others claim it comes from the French word “or”, which means gold (the original packages were gold). One thing’s for sure, whatever Oreo means, it must be synonymous with “delicious”!

International Flair

We all know and love the chocolate-and-cream flavor of Oreos, but a lot of countries have taken the original flavor and adapted it to the local palate. Argentina, for example, has a Dulce de Leche Oreo that comes with caramel filling; Canada has a Strawberry Milkshake Oreo with strawberry flavor; Japan and China have a Green Tea Oreo; Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia have a Blueberry Ice Cream Oreos and Orange Ice Cream Oreos! And that’s just a few of Oreo Cookies international offerings.

Shift-Shaper

Although the traditional shape of the Oreo is round, there have been some variations throughout the years. In 1976 Nabisco introduced Football Oreos, in the shape of, you guessed it, an American football. There’s also Oreo Fudge Rings, Oreo WaferStix, Oreo Sippers (in the shape of “straws”), Oreo Fudge Cremes, and many other variations!

Twist and Dunk

During the Super Bowl blackout of February 3, 2013, Oreo’s official Twitter account tweeted, “power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark”. That tweet was re-tweeted almost 15,000 times!

And finally, here’s our favorite Oreo Recipes

Chocolate Oreo Mousse

Ingredients

  • 1 dozen Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 5 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 14 ounces cold heavy cream
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1oz sugar

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate in a large bowl on a double boiler or bain-marie, on very low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat and let cool until almost room temperature.
  2. 2. Beat the cream to soft peaks. Leave at room temperature. Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites until you get soft peaks, then slowly add the sugar as you continue to whip. Whip until firm.
  3. 3. Whisk the egg white mix into the chocolate, and whisk until completely incorporated, then slowly fold the whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate until set (1 hour approx.).
  4. 4. Add a layer of crushed Oreos to an old-fashioned goblet or tumbler glass, and then add a thicker layer of chocolate mousse. Top with another layer of crushed Oreos. You can garnish with whipped cream or chocolate sauce!
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/happy-birthday-oreo-our-favorite-oreo-recipes-list/

Oreo & Ice Cream Milkshake

Ingredients

  • 4 Oreo Cookies, divided
  • 4 Oreo cookies, finely chopped
  • 4 tsps. chocolate syrup
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream

Instructions

  1. Drizzle one tablespoon of chocolate syrup at the bottom of each glass, rolling the glass to coat it thoroughly. Quarter 4 cookies and add to blender with milk and ice cream. Blend until smooth. Pour into short glasses, top with chopped cookies whipped cream (optional!).
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/happy-birthday-oreo-our-favorite-oreo-recipes-list/

Oreo Cookie Balls

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 cups crushed Oreos
  • 1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Instructions

  1. Other Oreo Recipes from around the web:
  2. You’ll also need wax paper and toothpicks for this. With an electric mixer, mix cream cheese and crushed Oreos until blended (not whipped). With your hands, roll into small balls, approximately 1-inch thick. Put in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, melt chocolate using a double boiler or bain-marie. Remove from heat and let cool, but not solidify. Take the balls out of the freezer, and insert a toothpick in each one. Holding by the toothpick, dip the balls in the chocolate, until fully coated. Place on a pan lined with wax paper. Sprinkle with leftover cookie crumbs. Refrigerate until firm.
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/happy-birthday-oreo-our-favorite-oreo-recipes-list/

Oreo cake recipes from around the web

oreo cake slice

Bakerita’s Oreo Cake is a little slice of Heaven

decadent Oreo cakeJamie from MyBakingAddiction made this splendid decadent Oreo cake.

cake with crushed oreo

The folks at TheKitchn crushed a few Oreos into this delicious looking cake

Whether you twist them, lick them, dunk them, or blend them, Oreo cookies are always delicious! So thisMarch 6th, raise your glass of milk and toast to America’s favorite cookie!

3 luxury gourmet treats for Valentine’s Day

This is the time of year where everywhere you look, you see red. Red hearts, red candy, red flowers! It’s almost Valentine’s Day! I love (no pun intended) Valentine’s Day, especially food-wise, since it’s an excuse for indulging in delicious chocolates, treats, special cocktails, and corny, heart-felt cards. This is a holiday almost designed for bakers to let their imagination free, to find the most luxurious, positively indulgent recipes, using the richest ingredients available.

baking pink cupcakes valentines-t

The problem is that you don’t get to see your honey for every meal of the day, so you really can’t stuff them full of chocolates and Valentine’s Day themed food for breakfast, lunch and dinner (admit it, you would if you could). So this year I designed a more minimalist approach (food-wise), divided in the meals where I WOULD have my sweetheart to myself. This basically consists of breakfast, and a late-night treat.

Easy Valentine’s Day Breakfast

If you’re not a morning person, then there’s no way that you’ll get up early to bake a fresh croissant in the morning.
The solution: pre-made (but unbaked) croissants.

Frozen French Croissants

They’re made in the French style, super flaky, buttery, and always bake beautifully. They come already shaped but raw, frozen and boxed, so just pop them in the oven, and wait for the aroma of fresh-baked pastries to wake up your honey.
I’m going with the mini croissant (1.5oz) version, just cause I think it’s cuter, and I’m serving it with some different kind of gourmet jams to go with, as well as cream cheese.

Evening Encounters

Chances are you’re having dinner at a fancy restaurant (who wants to slave over a stove on Valentine’s Day?), but you can have a surprise for later on. Some delicious Chocolate Rum Truffles (yum!), made luxurious Valrhona baking chocolate, with a super-special champagne toast with flecks of REAL gold! I’ve wanted to use these fabulous Edible Gold Sheets made with 23K gold forever, and this is just the occasion. Plus, it’s so ridiculously easy and fancy and glamorous! Present it in your most fancy serving platter or plate. Just follow the recipe below for the chocolate truffles, and the instructions for the Gilded Champagne Toast.

CHOCOLATE RUM TRUFFLESchocolate truffles

CHOCOLATE RUM TRUFFLESchocolate truffles

Ingredients

  • 5 1/3 oz (2/3 cup) Heavy Cream
  • 6.75 oz Valrhona Caraibe 66% pistoles/feves
  • 1 oz Butter, room temperature (try this one)
  • 1 oz Honey
  • 1 oz RUM
  • Cocoa Powder for dusting

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, boil the cream and the honey. Slowly, pour 1/3 of this mixture over the chocolate, mixing rapidly but gently with a spatula or wooden spoon. The hot cream will slowly melt the chocolate. Keep stirring and mixing, and gradually add the remaining cream, until you obtain a smooth and glossy texture. Finally, stir in softened butter and Rum, and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with film, and chill, about 2 hours, until set.
  2. Sift cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Start rolling! Grab a small amount of the ganache (chocolate) mixture, and roll between your hands into small balls. Roll over the cocoa powder to fully cover it. Place in the cookie sheet and leave to chill in the fridge. Serve!
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/3-luxury-gourmet-treats-for-valentines-day/

Gilded Champagne Toast (with real gold!)

Gilded Champagne Toast (with real gold!)

Ingredients

  • 1 Edible gold sheet, crumbled to flecks or dust
  • 1 bottle chilled Rose Champagne

Instructions

  1. Take the edible gold sheet and crumble it into small pieces or flecks
  2. Pour the champagne into two flutes
  3. Sprinkle gold flecks into flutes
  4. Toast
http://www.gourmetfoodworld.com/gourmet-food-blog/3-luxury-gourmet-treats-for-valentines-day/