With dozens of different store-bought dips and spreads, I decided to give myself plenty of time to taste test for Super Bowl Sunday. I’ve tried five kinds of hummus, including zesty lemon and chipotle, black bean dip, babaganoush (eggplant dip), and guacamole. The Whole Foods Guac is definitely your best choice. The recipe– a creamy blend of avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, and a bit of salt– looks like it could be served tableside in their produce section. No garlic– so this version is safe for lots of cheering and yelling, game day! The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
Whole Foods Brand Guacamole
Appearance: This guac maintains its iconic green color because it’s packaged in an air-tight plastic container. Make sure it stays that way. You don’t want to serve brackish brown guac to your guests!
Texture: Buttery and thick texture, with nice chunks of fresh tomato
Flavor: Rich, fresh flavor. Packs some heat, so be prepared with extra dippers and water.
Cost: $ 5.59 for a pound, at Whole Foods Market stores
Health: Great source of potassium and vitamins E, A and C. Guacamole is a tasty, healthy snack. It’s really the fried chips and sour cream that pack on the pounds. For a more healthful Super Bowl party, serve the dip alongside red bell pepper slices and whole-wheat pita chips.
Recommendation: For a snack or appetizer, try a guacamole tostada. Spread the guac over mini toasts with fresh salsa, sliced tomato and a sharp cheese. Also, an ideal match for the classic chips and salsa. Definitely buy the guacamole the day of the game, because even with the acidity of the lime juice, the dip will eventually turn.
Resolution Stats: 23 new food stuffs tried, 82 more to go
Final Verdict: Everybody loves guacamole, so just make sure you have enough in the dip bowl!
I had no idea that falafel balls were made with such healthy ingredients. Most falafel recipes start with chickpeas, garlic, onion, fresh cilantro and parsley. The deep fryer is what transforms these ingredients into delicious, crunchy, not-so-healthy fritters. So, I decided to experiment with baking rather than frying the batter. This recipe is adapted from a homemade falafel recipe from Mark Bittman’s Bitten Blog. Note: If you are looking for an authentic, deep-fried falafel experience, I recommend going to your favorite falafel joint or investing in a deep fryer.
Makes about 12 falafel patties
1 cup dried chickpeas (original recipe called for 1 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (original recipe called for 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed)
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup chopped parsley or cilantro leaves
a sprinkling of cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
juice of half a lemon
1 egg (added)
about 1 cup chickpea flour (added)
a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds (added)
a sprinkling of dried thyme (added)
a sprinkling of chopped walnuts (added)
olive oil cooking spray
1. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.
2. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with water by 3 or 4 inches; they will triple in volume. Soak for 24 hours, adding water if needed to keep beans submerged.
3. Drain beans well and transfer to a food processor. Add garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, cilantro, salt, pepper, cayenne, chickpea flour, the egg, and lemon juice.
4. Pulse until minced but not pureed, scraping sides of bowl down. Keep pulsing until mixture comes together. Taste, adding salt, pepper, cayenne or lemon juice to taste.
5. Make the mixture into falafel balls or patties and put them on an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds, thyme and chopped nuts on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the patties are golden brown on both sides.
6. Serve warm in a toasted pita, with tahini sauce and/or hummus, and a simple Israeli salad made with chopped tomato, chopped cucumber and chopped onion, a sprinkling of cilantro, simply dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste (pictured below).
You would think that the UWS neighborhood, home to a large Jewish community, would have lots of great, local falafel joints. But I have yet to find better chickpea fritters than at Maoz Vegetarian— the international veggie falafel chain, located on 70th and Amsterdam. For just $4.95 you can get a falafel sandwich with your choice of tasty toppings and sauces from their– the best part— do-it-yourself salad bar. Their falafel has the perfect balance of cilantro and parseley and is fried to perfection in heart-friendly canola oil. For more flavor– dress your sandwich with the classics, tabouli salad, hummus and tahini sauce, and add some spicy hot green chili dressing for heat. Stay tuned for a Creative Delites do-it-all-yourself falafel sandwich recipe!
Jarlsberg is nothing new, but right now, I can’t get enough of this Norwegian skim-milk cheese. It tastes like a mild form of Swiss. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Jarlsberg has it’s own facebook fan page! Most low-fat, no-fat and reduced-fat cheeses lack flavor and have a plastic texture, but Jarlsberg, even the lite variety, melts beautifully in grilled cheese. Is the reduced-fat version flavorful enough for your palate? The rating goes 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
Appearance: Sold in a plastic wrapped block at Whole Foods Market. This cheese has large holes similar to Swiss, but thankfully, it doesn’t have the same stinky cheese smell
Texture: Semi-firm and smooth. Melts smoothly without being greasy.
Flavor: The overall taste is mild. Since Jarlsberg is a skim-milk cheese, it lacks the same intensity as Swiss but has the same nutty, slightly sweet flavor. Great paired with other ingredients.
Cost: $ 3.59/lb
Health: Jarlsberg Lite is the low-fat version of Jarlsberg. High in calcium, and only has 70 calories and 3.5 grams of fat, while regular Swiss has about 100 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving.
Recommendation: You can use Jarlsberg (regular or lite) in any recipe that calls for Swiss. Store in the fridge. If eating in a cheese course, best served at room temperature. Delicious in a grilled cheese sandwich with a pumpernickel raisin roll and a drizzle of honey, melted over a veggie burger with sliced tomato and spicy mustard (pictured below), or shaved over scrambled eggs.
Resolution Stats: 22 new food stuffs tried, 83 more to go
Final Verdict: Doesn’t taste as flavorful as full-fat cheese, but if you are seeking a healthy alternative, Jarlsberg is great option for your everyday cheese fix.
In a world where “veggie burger” means a flattened block of soy protein, studded with carrots and peas whose flavor is thankfully masked with ketchup, mustard and lots of relish, it doesn’t take a lot to build a better burger. All you really need to make a delicious, homemade one is a can of beans, some eggs, and rolled oats or breadcrumbs. The good news is that you probably have most, if not all, of these ingredients at home. Add some different spices and fresh herbs, and the burgers can be flavored in a variety of ways. My favorite one starts with lentils, fresh cilantro and ginger, and is topped with melted Jarlsberg cheese. Check out my recipe featured on Good Bite! If you are looking for more ingredient and preparation ideas for burgers, check out a recent blog post in The New York Times “The Burger Experience Without Beef”.
Baked Lentil Cheese Burgers
MAKES: 4 to 6 servings
TIME: 20 minutes
One 14-ounce can of lentils, drained (feel free to use a different kind of cooked bean)
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon chile powder (less or more depending on how spicey you want it)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon crushed fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt (less or more depending on how salty you want it)
1 teaspoon sugar in the raw or brown sugar
freshly ground black pepper
grapeseed oil spray (or any neutral oil)
1 tomato, sliced
black sesame seeds
regular or lite Jarlsberg cheese, sliced
onion sandwich rolls
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with the oil.
2. Combine the lentils, onion, oats, ginger, cilantro, spices, salt, pepper and sugar in a food processor and pulse until chunky. You want a mixture that is moist but not wet.
3. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes, then shape into patties.
4. Bake the burgers until they are deeply brown, about 8 – 10 minutes. Then flip and bake for 8 – 10 more minutes.
5. Serve with melted Jarlsberg cheese and sliced tomato on a toasted onion roll.
One of my favorite Indian restaurants is Hampton Chutney Co., Upper West Side location. Their dosas are excellent, especially with the vegetarian masala filling and mango chutney. As you can imagine, I was delighted when the owners Gary and Isabel MacGurn decided to share a recipe that they make at home with Creative Delites. The recipe is for Punjabi Shrimp– a spicy, richly flavored dish, inspired by the tomato based sauces of northern India. In trying out the recipe I took Gary’s suggestion for making a vegetarian version, substituting eggplant (or you could use tofu) for the shrimp. Dosas and uttapas are the restaurant’s specialties, but if you would like to make Indian food at home and try out some of the classic spices, like turmeric and cumin, Punjabi is a great introduction.
Punjabi Eggplant Recipe
Makes: 4 servings
Courtesy of Gary & Isabel MacGurn, Hampton Chutney Co.
1 large eggplant
Salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons veggie oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 fresh curry leaves
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro
1. Season the eggplant with salt. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the eggplant and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the eggplant to a plate.
2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to moderate.
3. Add the turmeric, cumin, and coriander and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Stir in the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds longer.
5. Add the onion, ginger, jalapeno, and garlic and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes; if the mixture seems dry; add up to ¼ cup of water to prevent sticking.
6. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste and cook until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes.
7. Return the eggplant to the skillet and cook, stirring, until they are opaque throughout, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.
8. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
Rather than post about cooking or recipes today, I’d like to draw your attention to the food blog, The Pioneer Woman, and what Ree Drummond is doing to help Haiti:
There’s not a person alive who doesn’t have Haiti on his mind today, and I encourage all of you to research the very best charities and aid organizations—those whose funds will go directly to help the people who need it—and give as your situation allows.
Today I’m having a different kind of giveaway here on Pioneer Woman. Rather than give away Amazon gift cards or an iPod or shiatsu massagers, I’m giving away two (2) $500 donations to the Haitian-related charity of the winners’ choice.
In addition, so that all of you can help make a difference, I will donate one dime (10 cents) for every entry received in this giveaway to Haitian recovery efforts.
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