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Food

Food

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.

Danny Kou, the executive chef at La Mar, an upscale Peruvian restaurant in San Francisco, says it's a good time to be him.

Kou moved from Lima to the United States when he was 21. It was 2001, and back then, Peruvian cuisine was still unfamiliar in North America.

For the salad, assemble:
 
· 2 1/2 ounces mixed baby salad greens (e.g., watercress, chard, and red oakleaf lettuce)
· 2 roasted potatoes, chopped
· Handful of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
· 2 scallions, sliced
 
For the dressing, mix:
 
· 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
· 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
· Pinch of salt and pepper
· Pinch of dried red pepper flakes
 
Vegetarian Alternative:
 
Add 2 ounces feta, Parmesan, or pecorino.
 

Weeknight Kitchen: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Apr 24, 2015

Serves 8 to 12
 
You can make upside-down cakes with all kinds of fruit, but you just can’t beat our take on the classic. We make it in a cast-iron skillet and add bourbon to the salted-caramel pineapple topping. Sprinkle in almonds for added flavor and texture.
 
For the Caramel Pineapple Topping
 
· 1 pineapple
· 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
· 1 cup packed light brown sugar
· 1 tablespoon bourbon (rum or vanilla works too)
· 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
· 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted 
 
For the Cake

Serves 4
 
We serve this dish in my restaurants in Dublin, Clodagh’s Kitchen, during the cold winter months, and it’s akin to a big, warm hug in your tummy! The sweet sharpness of the Irish whiskey cuts through the cream and earthy wild mushrooms. Serve with any variation of my creamed potatoes.
 
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
· 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
· 4 supreme chicken filets (breast with wing bone attached), skin on
· sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
· creamed potatoes, to serve
 

Here's how popular craft brewed beer is these days: On average, a new brewery opens its doors every single day in the the U.S.

Coffee and tea both landed in the British isles in the 1600s. In fact, java even got a head start of about a decade. And yet, a century later, tea was well on its way to becoming a daily habit for millions of Britons — which it remains to this day.

So how did tea emerge as Britain's hot beverage of choice?

Serves 4
 
I sometimes think I could live on Vietnamese food. I love the key flavors and I adore the balance of hot, sour, salty, and sweet that is such a dominant characteristic. This is incredibly easy, somewhere between a stir-fry and a sauté, with just enough sauce to coat the pieces of chicken.
 
· 1 3/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, or chicken tenders
· 2 lemongrass stalks
· 1/4 cup fish sauce
· 2 1/2 tbsp superfine sugar, to taste
· 2 red chiles, halved, seeded, and shredded, divided
· 4 garlic cloves, crushed

Colorado is famous for its beer and its beef. But what about its farm drones?

My father usually starts off his curries by roasting a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, anise, cumin and bay leaves. Then he incorporates the onions, garlic and ginger — and then tomatoes and chilies and a touch of cream.

The North Indian cuisine I grew up eating is about melding together distinct, disparate flavors and building up layer upon layer of spice and seasoning. Much of European cuisine, by contrast, is about combining complementary flavors — think potatoes with leeks, or scallops with white wine.

A planet that is warming at extraordinary speed may require extraordinary new food crops. The latest great agricultural hope is beans that can thrive in temperatures that cripple most conventional beans. They're now growing in test plots of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, or CIAT, in Colombia.

More than 1,000 guests in gowns and tuxedos crowded into a two-story hall on Saturday night at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Standing among a pack of well-preserved African elephants, they sampled the delicacies offered by waiters wending their way through the throngs. They had come for the annual dinner of the Explorers Club — and the cocktail-hour fare certainly required an adventurous palate: All of it was made of insects.

Weeknight Kitchen: Lamb & Pistachio Patties

Mar 20, 2015

Makes about 10
 
Based on the Turkish fistikli kebap, this is my quick-and-easy version of the classic recipe. I add a few extra ingredients that work well with the pistachios. In the absence of a barbecue or flame grill, I like to shape the mixture into patties, which are easy to cook in a frying pan, but you can shape it into meatballs, larger patties or elongated kebabs if preferred. Serve this dish with Cacik or yogurt.
 
· 150g (5oz) shelled pistachio nuts
· 2 large free-range eggs
· 500g (1lb 2oz) minced lamb

In the heart of California's Central Valley, a vast expanse of orchards, vineyards, and vegetable fields, lies a small collection of aging peach trees. Farmer Mas Masumoto's decision to preserve those trees, and then to write about it, became a symbol of resistance to machine-driven food production.

Yet the Masumoto farm's story isn't just one of saving peaches. It's become a father-daughter saga of claiming, abandoning, and then re-claiming a piece of America's agricultural heritage.

Editor's note: A version of this story was published in March 2011.

Get ready to roll out some dough, because it's almost Pi Day.

Surely, you've heard of making food in space. Astronauts have to eat, right?

But perhaps you hadn't considered making space out of food. Navid Baraty, a freelance photographer in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, arranges common pantry items to create strikingly accurate-looking photos of an imaginary cosmos.

"I'm a really big space geek," Baraty tells The Salt. "I'll look at NASA images or Hubble images to see how things were placed in the sky, and I try to make things as realistic as possible."

More people are moving toward a plant-based diet, owing in part to evidence about human health and environmental sustainability, and in part to the emerging scientific consensus on the breadth and depth of animal consciousness and sentience.

Serves 4
 
The combination of pickled beets and horseradish is common in eastern Europe, and its popularity has been co-opted by German cooks, who have long used both elements in the kitchen. If possible, use homemade pickled beets to create the robustly flavored topping for this simple salmon dinner.
 
· 1 cup/155 g sliced pickled beets, homemade (recipe follows) or store-bought, roughly chopped
· 3 tbsp freshly grated horseradish or prepared horseradish
· 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh curly-leaf parsley
· Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Did you take a lunch break yesterday? Are you planning to take one today?

Chances are the answer is no. Fewer American workers are taking time for lunch. Research shows that only 1 in 5 five people steps away for a midday meal. Most workers are simply eating at their desks.

Scientists have learned a lot about our distant ancestors from DNA that's thousands of years old. Like the fact that we've inherited some Neanderthal DNA, so apparently our ancestors mated with them. Now there's new research from DNA that moves on from paleo-mating to paleo-eating.

About 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers in the Near East figured out how to grow cereal crops like wheat. The farming culture spread, and wherever it went, people traded in their spears for plows.

That's the conventional view. Apparently, it was more complicated than that.

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