Monday, February 08, 2016

Savory Yogurt Recipes


I enjoy Greek yogurt and have been eating a lot of it lately. But I’ve also been cutting back on sugar. While fruit, granola, jam or honey are classic toppings for yogurt, I’ve been wanting to take yogurt in another direction. Since I tend to favor savory breaktasts rather than sweet ones I decided to try some savory Greek yogurt toppings, something I've seen around the web recently. 

I brainstormed some ideas and was inspired by flavors from Korea, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Morocco--and everything I tried turned out really well. I imagine that the variations are really endless, I just stopped at four. That said, a little flaky salt really helps to marry the flavors. Use kosher salt or your favorite flaky sea salt for added crunch. While I choose to eat these for breakfast, they are also very good as an afternoon snack or as part of a light lunch. I recommend using 1/2 cup of yogurt as the base, but you could use more if you prefer. Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt so it holds the toppings particularly well. I use 2% but any Greek yogurt should be fine so you use whichever you prefer. I also suggest not serving the yogurt straight from the fridge, but letting it warm up slightly and approach room temperature. 

The recipes I’ve created are really just guidelines, try one out and then experiment! Consider shredded raw or roasted vegetables, nuts or seeds and any favorite condiments to be fair game. I'm thinking raw or cooked beets, thinly sliced celery, cooked greens and roasted winter squash would all be tasty with yogurt. If you come up with your own variation, please do leave a comment and share it. 

Yogurt with Kimchi & Sesame 
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon roughly chopped kimchi, mild or spicy
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
Flaky salt

Top the yogurt with the kimchi, drizzle with sesame oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. 

Yogurt with Peppers, Olives & Capers
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 sliced peppadew or roasted peppers
4 sliced kalamata olives (or other olive of your choosing)
1/4 teaspoon capers
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Place the peppers, olives and capers on top of the yogurt. Drizzle with olive oil.

Yogurt with Carrot Salad
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons shredded carrots
1/4 teaspoon harissa 
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 slice or wedge lemon
Flaky salt

Mix the carrots, harissa and olive oil and spoon onto the yogurt. Top with a squeeze of lemon and pinch of salt.  

Yogurt with Cucumber, Radish & Dill
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon diced cucumber
1 Tablespoon diced radish 
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh dill 
Flaky salt
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 

Top the yogurt with the cucumber and radish. Sprinkle with dill, a pinch of flaky salt and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Enjoy!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Fancy Food Show Winter 2016 Favorites: Part 2

I've written about the overall food trends, my favorite sweet and savory finds and now the final post about the show, with the rest of my picks. 

SWEET


I’ve long been a fan of Oregon Growers' great fruit jams and butters. Now they’ve collaborated with Dragonfly Chai and the result is luscious apple butter and pumpkin butter tinged with chai spices. They are both really good, not too sweet with warm spices like cardamom, ginger and black pepper to complement the flavors or apple and pumpkin. Perfect to swirl into yogurt, oatmeal or slather on toast. 

I’m a complete honey fanatic and love the way honey reflects the aroma and flavor of flowers. I also enjoy the way honey combines beautifully with lots of other ingredients such as nuts, fruits and spices. While I love truffle honey, this saffron honey from KL Keller Foodways really made me swoon. Saffron with honey makes perfect sense, since saffron comes from the stigma from the crocus flower. In this case orange blossom honey combines with powdered saffron to create something very rich and exotic. Use it on cheese, roast chicken or pork, or to sweeten ice cream, yogurt, or whipped cream. It should be available from Market Hall Foods


Making caramel out of coconut is becoming a thing. The product that impressed me the most in this category were the coconut caramel candies from Hey Boo, known for making delectable coconut jams. Cristina Widjaja is a bit of a kitchen ninja and her soon to be introduced coconut caramels come in flavors like Ginger Rum, Thai Iced Tea and Sea Salt, but my favorite was the Vietnamese Coffee which seemed the least sweet to me and had a very pleasant and rich coffee flavor. 

I was excited to try Treehouse Chocolate Company’s hot chocolate and it did not disappoint. This product was part of the Food Fete event which takes places concurrently with the show. Aaron Koch imports organic cacao and makes a truly luxurious and yet convenient hot chocolate. It comes in various flavors including one with a pinch of cherrywood salt and another with coffee. It’s everything you want hot chocolate to be, rich, creamy and very chocolate-y. It would be a great thing to include in a gift basket. 
Purple power! I had no idea there was a whole company dedicated to beets. Love Beets makes a number of interesting and delicious beet based foods. While the panel chose the Smoky BBQ Shredded Beets for the trend report, I was even more impressed with their beet bars which come in apple, blueberry and cherry. They have an interesting mix of ingredients including beet juice concentrate, fruit, chicory root fiber, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, whole grain protein powder and orange pulp. They are nut free, gluten-free and a good source of fiber. Most importantly, they are really tasty! 

Dried fruit usually has a chewy texture but the fruit from California Crisps is crunchy and true to the name, crisp. Paper thin slices of fruit are dehydrated to create a perfect snack or garnish for dessert or a cheese plate. I would definitely buy these and hope they find greater distribution since they are mostly available in Southern California at the moment.

CREAMY


KL Keller is now importing the most succulent cod fillets in olive oil from the Basque region. Bacalaos Alkorta cooks the cod gently in olive oil, so that the result is much like confit--tender, flavorful and rich. A perfect pantry staple for dinners on the fly. Find the cod at Market Hall Foods.

This was my first time trying the products from Miyoko’s Kitchen. They produce a variety of vegan creamery products. I liked the various “cheeses” it but was most impressed with her European style Cultured VeganButter.  It’s made from organic coconut oil, safflower or sunflower oil, organic cashews, soy lecithin, sea salt and cultures. It was amazing how much it tasted like butter! I’m not giving up butter but I would certainly recommend this product to anyone who is interested in a plant-based diet. 

OTHER 


I love using tortillas, rice paper and even sheets of nori to make wraps instead of traditional sandwiches. Now there’s another option, from Pure Wraps, made from coconut. It’s mild and very flexible. I hope this product becomes more widely available soon. 

A few years ago I wrote about some elegant charcoal crackers I discovered at the Fancy Food Show. I expected to see more products with charcoal but I really haven’t seen that much more in the charcoal department. This year The Republic of Tea launched new matcha tea with charcoal. It’s part of their U-Matcha line. I didn’t try all the teas, but the charcoal version was particlarly gentle and light with none of the bitterness I sometimes associate with matcha. The green tea and activated bamboo charcoal is supposed to be supportive as part of a “detox” program. I’m not so sure about detoxing, but am I sure this is a lovely new tea. 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Fancy Food Show Winter 2016 Favorites: Part 1

While it’s interesting to identify trends at the Fancy Food Show, it’s even more gratifying to discover delicious things you've never seen before. As I was trying to decide how to organize my finds, I realized the vast majority of my favorite products had something common. They were both sweet and savory. Without further ado, here they are.

CRUNCHY THINGS
You have probably tried Dang Foods addictive coconut chips. Now they have introduced onion chips that are equally dangerous. The crisp pieces of onion are available plain or in a variety of flavors. A colleague of mine who doesn't even like onions was won over by these treats
In a section of the show dedicated to emerging businesses was Kaleidoscope kale chips. While this business of kale chips flavored with ingredients like bone broth, miso and pesto might seem like something straight out of Portlandia, the truth is, the products are delicious! Lemon, miso, ginger kale chips and sweet potato bone broth kale chips have lots more flavor than plain kale chips and according to company founder Alexandra Hudson, they also have rejuvenating properties.

I wrote about Dan Fruin's Genuine Grub pickles last year. This year he is introducing a new flavor, Turmeric Radish, made with fresh turmeric, ginger, daikon and apple. These zesty and crunchy pickles don't have heat but a funky sweet edge. Look for the product in February. The rest of the line is currently carried at Whole Foods.
There is a category of biscuits that falls in between cookies and crackers.  I particularly like Effie's Homemade. I don't believe they are new, but they were new to me. Their blend of sweet and savory make them very intriguing and versatile. They can pair with cheese or ice cream, or fruit. I'd love to try them with charcuterie or smoked salmon. Depending upon the flavor, they go pair well with ice cold milk, coffee, beer or even whisky. Flavors include rye, oat, cocoa and nut, each with their own slightly different personality.

MEAT & FISH
There was a lot of buzz about bakkwa. What is bakkwa? It's a Chinese style of jerky that's sweet and soft. Little Red Dot makes their Singapore style version by a combination of marinating, grilling and roasting. It's hard to explain how ridiculously good it is. Their version is made with different meats and some different flavors like lemongrass ginger and chipotle. But the name "uncured spicy candied bacon" might just be the most apt description of their best seller. Curious about the name Little Red Dot? It's a nickname for Singapore.

Dear North (love the name!) has introduced Alaska Salmon Bites from wild Coho salmon. It's tender yet chewy with really interesting flavors like sea kelp and sesame and my favorite, salted rhubarb and raspberry. It's a very unexpected combination but somehow works.

SAUCES & CONDIMENTS
I noticed more new high quality Latin American products at the show this year and one notable new line of Mexican sauces came from Salsaology. They have wonderful flavors like Chile Negro & Hibiscus and Ancho Chile & Tamarind, my favorite is the soon-to-be-launched Tres Chiles & Mezcal. It's a simmer sauce but can be used as a marinade or even for dipping. It was the most complex with layers of flavor and had the right balance of heat. It will be available this Spring, mostly from retailers around LA but also from Hatchery.co

Another favorite of mine was the line from Gran Luchito. Fergus Chamberlain might not be a name you associate with Mexican food, but you'd be wrong. Though born in Scotland he fell in love with the Oaxacan Pasilla chile while spending time in Oaxaca. He worked with local farmers and adapted recipes to develop a modern line of smoky yet not too hot spicy sauces and condiments using non-traditional ingredients like balsamic vinegar. My favorites were the smoked chili pickle and the smoked chili paste. Both can be used as a spread, in rubs or smeared onto anything you want to imbue with smoky heat and are available on Amazon.
I've written about The Preservatory at Visa d'Oro before and their wild and wonderful preserves that combine fruit with unexpected ingredients that range from garam masala to Pinot Noir. Their latest flavor, Moroccan Spiced Sour Cherry has those surprising savory elements that elevate a simple cherry jam into something both familiar and exotic, that is as good on toast as it is with cheese. Sadly these are not easy to find though some are available online.

Coco aminos are nothing new, just new to me. They are made from coconut sap and serve in place of soy sauce for people with soy or gluten allergies. But I found the salty sweet flavor particularly compelling. It has a fruitiness missing from soy sauce. It's more expensive than soy sauce but could be a fun condiment for experimenting with in the kitchen. The coco aminos I tried were from Big Tree Farms who also offer a number of coconut sugar products which are lower on the glycemic index.

A winner of a Good Food award, Wei Kitchen shallot oil is a nice option for creating vinaigrettes with an Asian accent. It has that very distinct mildly savory and sweet oniony flavor of shallots. Despite the sweetness, I  would only use it with savory dishes like greens or noodles. There's a spicy version of the oil as well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Fancy Food Show Trends Winter 2016

This year at the Winter Fancy Food Show I was honored to contribute to the Specialty Food Association trendspotting report. It’s a group effort and each person on the panel saw something slightly different. In addition to that collaborative report, here is what made impressed me: 

Pulse pastas
The United Nations has declared 2016 to be the International Year of Pulses and the American Pulse Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council and Pulse Canada are promoting the “Pulse Pledge”. While non-wheat pasta has been around for a while, I was amazed at all the pulse pastas and actually how good it tasted. In particular there were three products that stood out. They each had very good texture, much better than the rice and quinoa pastas I’ve tried in the past. 
The two dried pastas I liked best were the organic edamame spaghetti from Explore Asian, and the chickpea pasta from Modern Table, which is also available in meal kits. 
The best fresh pasta I had came from RP's Pasta and at this point is only available regionally. 

Alternative milks
If you’re interested in a plant based diet or have issues with conventional cows milk there are some new options since current popular non-dairy milks can be unsatisfactory. While I do drink dairy milk I have tried the alternatives and have mostly not been impressed. I find the flavor or soy milk and the texture of almond milk very unappealing. Other milks like rice and coconut don't have much protein. These milks were all new to me:
Dahlicious Lassi is made from Organic Valley grassmilk and very high in probiotics which can make it easier to digest, even for this who are lactose intolerant. It comes in eight divine flavors such as banana masala, and cucumber, mint, lemon.

I liked both the flavor and texture of the macadamia nut milk from Royal Hawaiian Orchards.  Because the macadamia nuts are grown on the Big Island where there is lots of lava the milk has a slight black cast and higher mineral content. It’s not available quite yet, but will be soon.

Leaner Creamer is made from coconut and includes a blend of citrus aurantium extract, hoodie and green tea extract to support weight loss. It's a dry powder, but dissolves easily in hot or warm liquid. 
Camel milk from Desert Farms is very expensive but might be an option for some. The flavor was mild. Camels raised by the Amish in Missouri! Who knew? 

Whole grains in a cup
Forget about cup a noodles, there are now much healthier whole grain options for eating on the go. 
While I didn’t get to try either of the quinoa cups, I was intrigued by the high protein quinoa in a cup from Cucina & Amore. They have savory toppings mango and jalapeƱo and artichoke and roasted piquillo pepper and also from Right Foods quinoa salads with lentils and sweet potatoes. 
An interesting and very different product were brown rice cups with unusual fruit and vegetable combinations from RiceBliss, that can be served cold like pudding or hot like porridge. Flavors include pineapple and quinoa (with brown rice base) and pumpkin pie.
While there were a ton of oatmeals, the one that impressed me was steel cut oats in a cup from San Gennaro Foods. And also the launch of savory oatmeal cups with flavors like Indian curry and Jamaican lime from Straw Propeller, launching in February--sorry no photo of those!