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Food

Weeknight Kitchen: Stir-Fried Cauliflower Rice

Nov 19, 2015

Serves 4

I’m a firm believer in the mantra “butter makes everything better,” but there are some days when I fancy something a touch lighter. True to my Asian roots, I regularly rustle up a stir-fry from a fridge raid of leftovers when I want a quick bite; using cauliflower as a rice substitute makes the dish even healthier.

The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is generally celebrated with a bounty of food — and a mountain of leftovers, some of which, let's face it, will end up in the trash.

Grocers know this: Cheap turkeys will get customers into the store.

So this Thanksgiving, despite an avian flu that killed 8 million turkeys, shoppers are having no trouble finding bargain birds priced lower than last year.

In fact, store managers have been slicing all sorts of holiday-related food prices this fall.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Daphne makes these pretty much every time she comes over, and the entire family hovers around the oven like vultures, waiting for them to be done. They get their captivating flavor from the tiny black nigella seeds sprinkled liberally over the top.

Chef and food writer Kenji Lopez-Alt recently paid a visit to old stomping grounds: the Boston area, home to his alma mater, MIT.

He helped prepare one dinner at Roxy's Grilled Cheese, a small, hip sandwich shop in the Allston neighborhood, to share a recipe from his new book The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.

There are only two diseases that humans have wiped from the face of the earth. One is smallpox. The other one, you may not have heard of.

It's a cattle disease called rinderpest. Even the name sounds scary. It's German for "cattle plague." It was once one of the most fearsome diseases on the planet.

From the Jakarta Ritz-Carlton to Kerala guesthouses to the Detroit Marriott, environmental journalist and educator Simran Sethi has eaten more room service meals than she can count. "I'm sure it's in the thousands," she says.

And why was she so often eating alone in her hotel room?

"I was always ashamed to go to a restaurant alone and ask for a table for one," she says.

Beekeeping is pretty hip these days among urbanites (even NPR has rooftop bees). And bees play a vital role in modern agriculture. It turns out, farmers have been fostering a sweet relationship with these honey producers for at least 9,000 years, according to a study in the journal Nature. That's a couple of thousand years earlier than previously thought.

True confession: I joined Twitter to follow a curry truck while I was living in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area had plenty of Indian buffets, but Indian street food was hard to find.

Back here in Kolkata, India, there's street food everywhere. Puffed rice tossed with pungent mustard oil, onions and chilies. Indian wraps with a layer of egg, crispy phuchka shells dunked in tangy, tamarind water.

What I didn't expect to find: a food truck.

Campbell Soup is changing the recipe of one of its chicken soups, but says it isn't quite ready to tinker with its classic chicken noodle version.

NPR's Allison Aubrey contacted the company, which clarified that it is changing the ingredient list of the Healthy Kids Shaped Pasta with Chicken in Chicken Broth — in cans with Star Wars- and Frozen-themed labels.

Salad-Making Is Performance Art At The Getty In Los Angeles

Nov 9, 2015

If the Getty Center in Los Angeles is going to treat salad as art, then you can bet iceberg lettuce is not part of the equation. And indeed, from now through January 11, the Salad Garden performance art stage features artists making salads from more than 50 exquisite heirloom herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. Part of the spectacle is also the artists devouring their salads on site.

The West Coast's historic drought has strained many Californians — from farmers who've watched their lands dry up, to rural residents forced to drink and cook with bottled water. Now, thanks to a blazing hot summer and unusually warm water, things are looking pretty bad for salmon, too – and for the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on them.

Preliminary counts of juvenile winter-run Chinook are at extreme low levels. These are salmon that are born during the summer in California's Sacramento River and begin to swim downstream in the fall.

Weeknight Kitchen: Salted Cashew Caramels

Nov 6, 2015

Makes 64 pieces

· Neutral oil, such as safflower, for the pan
· 3/4 cup heavy cream
· 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
· 1 cup sugar
· 1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
· 1/4 cup water
· 5 ounces (1 cup) roasted, salted cashews, coarsely chopped
· 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
· 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
· Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Serves 4

I was rummaging through my pantry and fridge one evening, trying to come up with an accompaniment for the pork chops I was cooking. This dish fit the bill, with creamy beans, salty pancetta, and bright color from the spinach. A winning combination on the fly!

· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 4 ounces pancetta or smoky bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
· 3 garlic cloves, minced
· 1 (28-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
· 6 cups baby spinach
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· Freshly ground black pepper

Setting out to cook a meal from Felicia Campbell's new book, The Food of Oman, can take you to a range of places: Middle Eastern grocers (black limes, rosewater), Asian markets (powdered coconut milk), and even the hardware store (a paint chipper, the closest hack for the tool used to make the region's distinctive flatbread).

As this varied shopping list hints, Oman is a small country whose history and geography have opened it up to flavors far beyond its borders.

In Orange County, Calif., there's no shortage of restaurants selling bánh mì, that delicious Vietnamese sandwich of meat, pate, fresh and pickled vegetables on a crunchy baguette. The OC's Little Saigon is home to the largest Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam. One shop in the town of Westminster stands out from the rest: It's got an actual pop star behind the counter, a woman known as the Vietnamese Madonna.

Lynda Trang Dai is certainly glamorous for a sandwich maven. She sports stiletto heels, a short skirt, and perfect make-up — including false eyelashes.

So if I say Aunt Jemima, you think what? Fluffy pancakes and waffles?

For sure.

Loving hospitality?

Perhaps.

But for some, the title, the image, even the updated version sans headwrap, evokes other feelings, including anger, over a racial stereotype of a black woman with no apparent life of her own. One who is happiest in the kitchen getting ready to serve her white folks.

Well, just who were the real Aunt Jemimas, the real black cooks and chefs whose craft and skill did so much to define American cuisine?

Like all business owners, farmers want to get paid for their work. Sometimes, that work creates problems for the environment, so regulators are advancing the idea of creating environmental markets to allow farmers to make money off of their conservation practices.

Under plans in development, farmers could generate environmental credits by farming in ways that store carbon, filter out water pollution, or preserve wildlife habitat. Those credits could be bought, sold, and traded by companies that need to balance out their own emissions or pollution.

In mid-November, diners at the New York restaurants Gramercy Tavern and The Modern may notice something new on their menus: higher prices, across the board.

Weeknight Kitchen: Carrot Soup with Anise

Oct 9, 2015

Serves 6

· 2 teaspoons anise seeds
· 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
· 1 large yellow onion, chopped
· 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
· 6 cups vegetable stock (below), chicken stock (below), or water
· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 1 cup heavy whipping cream
· 5 tablespoons anise-flavored liqueur, such as sambuca, ouzo, or Pernod
· 1/4 cup crème fraîche
· 2 tablespoons chopped chives

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