Sandwich Monday: The Hanukkah Miracle

Dec 15, 2014

[Today's post comes to you from Dan Pashman, a friend of Sandwich Monday. You may know him from his spots on Weekend Edition; his WNYC podcast, The Sporkful; his book, Eat More Better; or the time he stole a piece of your sausage when you weren't looking.]

A government-appointed group of top nutrition experts, assigned to lay the scientific groundwork for a new version of the nation's dietary guidelines, decided earlier this year to collect data on the environmental implication of different food choices.

Congress now has slapped them down.

Weeknight Kitchen: Chocolate-Coconut Almond Bites

Dec 10, 2014

Makes about 30 bites
Welcome to the very sweet union of the macaroon and the candy bar. These coconut bites are essentially no-bake cookies (save for roasting the almonds). The coconut is sweet and crunchy, and the melted chocolate is the little bit of glue needed to hold the almond in place. Such good bites! It’s impossible to eat just one.
30 almonds
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut

Weeknight Kitchen: Pan-Roasted Hake

Dec 10, 2014

Serves 4
A member of the cod family, hake has long taken a back seat to the more popular cod. But, because so much pressure has been put on other New England fish species, alternatives like hake are becoming popular. This is a simple preparation, but because the butter and lemon enrich the sauce, it’s satisfying during the cold, winter months.
1/4 cup canola oil
4 (7-ounce) hake fillets, skin removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Take a moment to imagine platters of andouille sausage, barbecue ribs and bacon. Now think of all of those dishes without meat.

It might seem like a contradiction, but brother and sister Kale and Aubry Walch — yes, Kale — are opening the first vegan butcher shop next spring in Minneapolis, to be called the Herbivorous Butcher. They plan to bring their customers all of those delicious meat flavors, minus the meat.

When it needs to serve 75,000 raw oysters to 3,000 people in one weekend, Washington D.C.'s landmark Old Ebbitt Grill calls in reinforcements. It hires expert oyster shuckers to help out with its Oyster Riot event each year. And for most of the last 20 years, those experts have included 59-year-old George Hastings.

You can lead a child to vegetables, but can you make her eat them?

A child, for instance, like Salem Tesfaye, a first-grader at Walker-Jones Educational Campus in Washington, D.C. Tesfaye picked up a lunch today that's full of nutrition: chicken in a whole-wheat wrap, chopped tomatoes and lettuce from local farms, a slice of cantaloupe and milk.

But, she confesses, sometimes she throws her lunch out. I ask her what she did today. "I threw all of it away," she says softly.

Sandwich Monday: Taco Bell Dessert Nachos

Dec 1, 2014

Depending on where you are in the world, Taco Bell can be as many as 2 miles away. Fortunately the chain has started selling make-at-home kits, and today we're trying the Dessert Nacho Kit. It's a great chance to make your own cuisine, and you can keep the box around to help you stop spelling "dessert" like "desert" all the time.

Miles: It's a little disconcerting that the box has two expiration dates, one for the product, and one for the person eating it.

Thin Mints, Do-si-dos and Samoas just became easier to buy: Girl Scouts will now be able to use Digital Cookies to sell the treats online.

"Girls have been telling us that they want to go into this space," said Sarah Angel-Johnson, chief digital cookie executive for the Girl Scouts of the USA. "Online is where entrepreneurship is going."

Her comments were reported by The Associated Press.

If you want to give your taste buds a gustatory tour of Mexico, then Margarita Carrillo is ready to be your guide.

The Mexican chef and food activist has spent years gathering hundreds of recipes from every region of the country for Mexico: The Cookbook, her new, encyclopedic take on her country's cuisine.

Dave Arnold can work some serious magic with a cocktail shaker. But he's no alchemist — Arnold, who runs the Manhattan bar Booker and Dax, takes a very scientific approach to his craft.

Weeknight Kitchen: Fried Chickpea Salad

Nov 26, 2014

Serves 4
Make sure to dry the chickpeas very well, which will allow them to get crisp and golden on the outside while remaining creamy inside. This salad is best served when the chickpeas are slightly warm or at room temperature.
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried very well
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, sliced

Serves 4
Chicken Marsala is one of those dishes that's found on just about every Italian restaurant menu, but the dish is usually swimming in butter. So I've lightened it up, resulting in a tender chicken dish with a rich pan sauce made with a touch of Marsala wine and fresh parsley. Trust me, you'll be happy you decided not to order out!
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil

Urban agriculture is clearly taking off around the world — in backyards, on rooftops and on local farms.

But just how much of the world's cropland can we really call urban? That's been a big mystery.

The federal government is about to put $100 million behind a simple idea: doubling the value of SNAP benefits — what used to be called food stamps — when people use them to buy local fruits and vegetables.

This idea did not start on Capitol Hill. It began as a local innovation at a few farmers' markets. But it proved remarkably popular and spread across the country.

"It's so simple, but it has such profound effects both for SNAP recipients and for local farmers," says Mike Appell, a vegetable farmer who sells his produce at a market in Tulsa, Okla.

Sandwich Monday: The Dunkin' Donuts Cronut

Nov 10, 2014

The Cronut croissant-doughnut hybrid was the food phenomenon of 2013. There were long lines at the bakery where Cronuts were invented, and they were going for hundreds of dollars on the black market. They even inspired spinoffs like the doughscuit — a doughnut-biscuit hybrid — and the bronut, which was just a doughnut wearing an Ed Hardy T-shirt.

There's an apple renaissance underway, an ever-expanding array of colors and tastes in the apple section of supermarkets and farmers markets.

Less visible is the economic machinery that's helping to drive this revolution. An increasing number of these new apples are "club apples" — varieties that are not just patented, but also trademarked and controlled in such a way that only a select "club" of farmers can sell them.

To understand the new trend, start with the hottest apple variety of recent years: Honeycrisp.

David Edwards has been called a real-life Willy Wonka. The biomedical engineer has developed, among other things, inhalable chocolate, ice cream spheres in edible wrappers, and a device called the "oPhone," which can transmit and receive odors.

Edwards is based at Harvard, but much of his work has been done in Paris, at a facility he calls Le Laboratoire. Now he's opened a similar "culture lab" closer to home: Le Laboratoire Cambridge in Cambridge, Mass.

Cultural Research And Development

From Swiss to cheddar, cheeses depend on the action of microbes for their flavor and aroma. But it's far from clear how these teams of microbes work together to ripen cheese.

To a cheese-maker, that's just the beauty of the art. To a scientist, it sounds like an experiment waiting to happen.

A handful of scientists who study cheese recently gathered to share their latest findings at a farm in the English county of Somerset. They know cheese well here — after all, Somerset invented cheddar.

Appalachia may be one of the poorest regions of the U.S., but when it comes to heirloom crops, it's got the riches.