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Food

Food

Ah, the bread basket. You sit down for a nice meal out, and there it appears: piping hot, giving off a waft of yeasty divinity.

Who can resist?

There's a reason this age-old tradition prevails. Even in the era of paleo and gluten-free, there are still hordes of us who will gladly nosh on crusty, chewy, soul-warming bread.

But the downside may be more than just some extra calories. Turns out, eating all those carbs before a meal can amp up our appetites and spike our blood sugar.

By Mindy Segal with Kate Leahy 
 
Makes 56 cookies
 

Serves 4 as a main course salad
 
A simple baked fish dish -- but if you wanted, you could serve it equally as well as a marinated raw dish. Remove the skin from the fish, slice it small enough, and there’s no need to actually cook the fish at all.
 
Ingredients
 
· 1 lb 5 oz (600 g) snapper fillet, scaled and pin-boned (ask your fishmonger to do this for you)
· 1 large grapefruit (any variety)
· 1/4 cup (50 ml, 2 fl oz) fish sauce
· 1/4 cup (50 ml, 2 fl oz) soy sauce
· 1 tablespoon superfine (caster) sugar

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: Making delicious, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs in only about an hour — with a surprising piece of kitchen equipment.

In the U.S., Tea Party politics refers to a certain strain of Republican conservatism. But in Japan, tea politics are of an altogether different sort: The ritual drinking of this ancient beverage — often thought of as the epitome of Japanese restraint and formality — has long been entwined with issues of power and national identity.

Weeknight Kitchen: Live Habanero Tomato Soup

Jun 18, 2015

Makes 1 quart
 
It’s so easy, when you eat primarily raw food, to end up having a lot more sweet things in your diet. Many raw savory dishes take a lot of time and planning to execute. This spicy raw soup, on the other hand, takes mere minutes to whip together, and it packs plenty of essential fatty acids from the hemp seeds and flax oil.
 
· 3 ripe medium tomatoes
· 1 small habanero pepper (If you like it less spicy, remove the stem and seeds.)
· 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
· 2 tablespoons flax oil
· 1 garlic clove

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday announced that food companies have three years to remove all trans fats from processed food. The long-expected move is aimed at making food more healthful.

Back in the day, this saying applied to pretty much everyone: "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream."

Nowadays, though, one friend is probably screaming for gelato, another for a vegan frozen dessert and yet someone else for sherbet.

But it's gelato, ice cream's Italian cousin, that's keeping more customers coming back. Gelato sales rose from $11 million in 2009 to an estimated $214 million in 2014, which has kept frozen dessert sales afloat, according to the market research firm Mintel.

Boston's North End neighborhood is a popular destination for authentic Italian food. But this weekend, local eateries got some unlikely competition: the Olive Garden food truck.

The green truck, emblazoned with the words "Breadstick Nation" and "Italian Kitchen," found a parking spot on the edge of the Boston neighborhood where Italian food is most sacred.

That's right: Olive Garden is jumping on the food truck craze. The Italian restaurant chain is sending trucks around the country to hand out free samples of its newest menu item: breadstick sandwiches.

Many American towns put the "Closed" sign up by 6 p.m. But night markets are drawing people out in Minnesota, Oklahoma and Virginia, with food, art and music from the local community.

The model for the nocturnal markets is the Asian night market, where people eat, shop and socialize and tourists discover delicacies like live scorpions and roasted sea horse until the wee hours of the morning.

Weekend Kitchen: Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie

Jun 8, 2015

Makes 1 pie, about 8 to 10 slices
 
This recipe came to me from my dear friend Margie. We became fast friends the day our family moved onto the block. You couldn't ask for a better neighbor, and when I found out she was a keen baker I knew she was one for keeps! I think this may be my all-time favorite pie. The combination of sour cream, rhubarb and crumb topping is so good, it should be illegal.
 
· 1 Butter's All Butter Pastry single crust pie (recipe follows)
· 1 1/4 cups sugar
· 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
· 1/2 teaspoon salt

Serves 4
 
Grilling a salad might sound counterintuitive, but it adds a whole new flavor experience. Developing a nice char on the outside of the romaine not only enhances the presentation, but it also adds a nice depth of smoky flavor. Instead of using croutons, I pan-fry capers, which add a salty, nutty crunch. Without letting anything go to waste, I also fry the capers in the reserved oil from the jarred sun-dried tomatoes, which lends a honeyed flavor to the capers. Of course, the sun-dried tomatoes bring a pop of color and sweetness to help round out the dish.
 

Weeknight Kitchen: Fish Kabobs

May 29, 2015

Serves 2 to 3
 
Soaking the skewers in water prevents them from catching fire during grilling. If you have metal skewers, use those instead.
 
· 6 (6-inch) wooden skewers
· 1 (8-oz.) tuna fillet
· 1 (8-oz.) grouper fillet
· 1 (8-oz.) salmon fillet, skinned
· 1 (8-oz.) bottle olive oil-and-vinegar dressing
· 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
· 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
· 1 Tbsp. pink peppercorns
· 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
· Fresh herb sprigs (optional)
 

Game For Ancient Grain: Palestinians Find Freekeh Again

May 26, 2015

In early May, Nasser Abufarha drove through the rural farmlands around Jenin in the northern West Bank and noticed the timeless features of village life. Young boys harvested cauliflower bigger than their heads, a sun-beaten old man passed on foot with a hoe propped against his shoulder and middle-aged women strolled to their modest homes on a path between waving wheat fields.

But there was one new element, says Abufarha, a Palestinian-American businessman and the founder of the largest fair trade exporter for Palestinian produce.

Weeknight Kitchen: Chickpea Masala & Saffron Rice

May 22, 2015

Serves 4
 
· 1 Tbsp ground cumin
· 1/4 tsp saffron threads
· 1 cup (7 oz/220 g) basmati rice
· 1 3/4 cups (14 fl oz/430 ml) chicken or vegetable stock or water
· Kosher salt
· 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 small red onion, finely diced
· 1 garlic clove, minced
· 1 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
· 2 Tbsp curry powder
· 1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) heavy cream
· 1 can (151/2 oz/485 g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
· 3 oz (90 g) spinach
· Juice of 1 lemon

The case against trans fats is not new. For years, health experts have been telling us to avoid them.

And as retailing behemoths such as Wal-Mart have committed to the removal of all remaining, industrially produced trans fats in the products they sell, the food industry has stepped up its pace to reformulate its offerings.

There are two drinks most people associate with Russia — vodka and tea, prepared in a giant hot-water urn known as a samovar.

Yet while vodka may have actually originated in Russia (Poland is another contender), tea is a thoroughly foreign product.

Most historians believe the Chinese first brought tea to Russia sometime in the 1600s. As for the samovar? "The origins are shrouded in mystery," says Maria Zavilova, curator at the Museum of Russian Art in Minnesota.

The most luscious watermelon the Deep South has ever produced was once so coveted, 19th-century growers used poison or electrocuting wires to thwart potential thieves, or simply stood guard with guns in the thick of night. The legendary Bradford was delectable — but the melon didn't ship well, and it all but disappeared by the 1920s. Now, eight generations later, a great-great-great-grandson of its creator is bringing it back.

Flowering meat that unfolds when plopped into hot broth, beef "yarn" that can be knitted directly onto your plate and fried nuggets made from the extinct dodo bird are just a few of the menu options at the Bistro In Vitro.

Weeknight Kitchen: Radish Sandwiches with Butter and Salt

May 13, 2015

Makes 6 to 8 small sandwiches or 20 to 24 hors d'oeuvres
 

Although it's a tropical island, perhaps surprisingly, Puerto Rico produces very little of its own food. After decades of industrialization, the U.S. territory imports more than 80 percent of what's consumed on the island. There are signs, though, the trend is changing.

Weeknight Kitchen: Oven-Baked Tarragon-Scented Salmon

May 6, 2015

Serves 6 to 8
 
Fennel seeds and fresh tarragon quietly infuse a yogurt marinade in this delicate fish supper. After it has spent a few hours in the fridge, slide the salmon into the oven and stir together the golden bread-crumb topping. You’ll be rewarded with a meal completely out of proportion to the amount of effort expended.
 
· 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
· 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
· 1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek), preferably whole-milk
· 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Journalist Barry Estabrook knows how to enjoy a juicy heritage pork chop. He'll also be the first to tell you what intelligent, sensitive creatures pigs are. "I had no idea how smart they were until I got in the research," Estabrook tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

Sandwich Monday: We're Full

May 4, 2015

In 2010, we started eating sandwiches. Five years later, we are officially full. From now on, Sandwich Monday is going to be an occasional feature here on The Salt, rather than a regular one.

There are many reasons, but mostly it's because Miles knows a guy who knows a guy who says he can replace all of our blood with gorilla plasma and this will undo everything we've done to our bodies since the series began, but he only works on Mondays.

Rapeseed, an oilseed known in North America as canola, has a mild reputation as a cooking oil. Maybe that's because the version that most consumers know is a pale, neutral-flavored oil used for frying and baking.

But in the U.K., a more colorful and flavorful version has made its way onto store shelves: cold-pressed rapeseed that goes for £5-7 per 500 milliliters (about $9-12 for 17 fluid ounces).

While many kids are lucky if their parents send them off to school with a ham and cheese sandwich and an apple in their packed lunches, for some, the midday meal is a work of art.

Some parents include paper napkins with hand-drawn illustrations so elaborate that children have preferred to use their own clothing to wipe up spills. Others decorate the once-boring brown paper bag with fanciful dragons and scenes from Star Wars or re-create great works of art in food. (Think Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring rendered in sushi.)

Weeknight Kitchen: Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Apr 29, 2015

  • 8 ounces pancetta or thick bacon, diced
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 1/2 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the pancetta and cook until it is browned and the fat has rendered, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and keep warm.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, cheese, and pepper until uniform. Set aside.

As we reported earlier this month, a fascinating project called Blue Zones is documenting and disseminating the lifestyle secrets of the communities with the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world.

A version of this story was first published on April 5, 2014. It has been updated.

The majority of Americans now live in cities and have very little to do with the production of their food.

Sandwich Monday: Deep-Fried Cheese Curds

Apr 27, 2015

Whenever people from the edges of the country come to visit me in the Midwest, I don't let them leave until they have tried deep-fried cheese curds.

If you're not familiar with them, cheese curds are a byproduct of the cheddar cheese-making process, and "deep frying" is a method by which anything is made into a better version of itself.

You can find deep-fried cheese curds all over the states surrounding Wisconsin. But today we're eating the exceptional beer-battered ones from Farmhouse in Chicago.

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