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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Supermarket Sleuth

Whole-Wheat Pasta That You Can Cook Perfectly

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

I love the flavor of whole-wheat pasta, and I have the patience to stand over the pot while pasta is cooking to get the texture just right. Unfortunately, I’ve been largely unsuccessful with most of the brands of dried whole-wheat pasta I’ve tried. It’s not that the flavor is bad, but I just can’t find that perfect al dente window, when the pasta offers just the slightest bit of elastic resistance when you eat it, but it no longer has a true crunchy bite. I finally found the magic al dente window in the hard red winter wheat linguine from the San Francisco Bay Area company Community Grains. I don’t know whether it is the wheat itself (California grown and milled), the fact that the whole grain is milled together (rather than separated and then recombined, as is often the case in commercial whole-wheat milling) or that the pasta is cut and dried in the traditional (old-fashioned) manner, but the texture is at once hearty, slippery smooth and chewy, and the wheat flavor is super-prominent. We had it with a sauce of spicy sausage, broccoli rabe and pecorino, which stood up to the almost nutty flavor of the wheat.

Related Links: F&W's Favorite Pasta Recipes
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Supermarket Sleuth

Blond Can Be More Fun!

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

You may have recently begun to see caramelized white chocolate listed on dessert menus, in sauces and glazes, in puddings, and in truffles and other bonbons. On its own, it is rich and creamy, with toasty hints of caramel, dulce de leche and browned butter. We’ve made it a few times in our Test Kitchen; it takes a long time to get the chocolate just right, and it needs to be watched carefully at the very end. Thankfully, for home bakers and pastry chefs alike, Valrhona has done the work for us with its new signature version called Dulcey. They’ve named the category “blond chocolate” and it’s available in 3-ounce bars and baking pastilles. The chocolate is delicious on its own, but it makes amazing barks, truffles, sauces, puddings, and ganache fillings and frostings. The other night I chopped some and added it to blondie batter for a creamy hit of caramel flavor, then sprinkled the rest over the top of the hot blondies for an awesome instant glaze.

Related Links: Chocolate Desserts
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Supermarket Sleuth

Microgreens: Size Isn't Everything

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

For years, microgreens have been in the flavor-burst arsenal of every chef worth his fleur de sel, but recently they’ve started showing up in specialty markets and in grocery stores for home cooks. These leaves and sprigs are just infant versions of familiar mature plants, but their flavor is super-intense (and their nutrient density is impressive too). Sprinkle them judiciously for best effect, or toss them in a tiny salad as a garnish for fish, vegetables, egg dishes or chicken. (Prices vary considerably.)

Related Links: Terrific Summer Salads
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Supermarket Sleuth

The New Blue

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

It’s been well over a decade since the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company released California’s first classic-style blue cheese, its amazing Original Blue. I was thrilled to try the company’s new Bay Blue Cheese at the Good Food Awards in San Francisco in January. Now it’s going to be tough to choose between the two blues! (I haven’t had the chance to try them side by side.) The new Bay Blue, made exclusively with milk from Point Reyes’s herd, of course (that’s where the “farmstead” comes in), is dense and creamy with a wide, deep flavor and a savory, balanced tang. It’s delicious on its own, in salads, on burgers, or paired with honey, fresh and dried fruits, and nuts.

Related Links: Fantastic Cheese Recipes
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Supermarket Sleuth

Fantastic Austrian Pumpkin Seeds

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

When you think about Austrian cuisine, pumpkin seeds (and pumpkin seed oil) aren’t the first ingredients that pop to mind. Since pumpkin seeds seem to be everywhere right now, in sauces, on breads and rolls, and sprinkled on every salad I see, it’s a good time to get acquainted with these beauties. Not only are they five shades darker and triple in size to the pumpkin seeds you know, they're mineral-rich and three times as tasty too. You can used them any way you would use pepitas—for snacking, in baking, in granola, in Mexican dishes or toasted and sprinkled on just about everything from salads and pilafs to breakfast porridge. About $16 per pound at natural foods markets nationwide.

Related Links: Healthy Snacks
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Supermarket Sleuth

Luscious Lemon Yoghurt

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

Just in time for berries, cherries and all the beautiful stone fruits, Noosa has come out with a new lemon yogurt that does double time—it’s perfect for breakfast, of course, but it can also turn seasonal fruit into a dessert parfait in seconds. The yogurt is super-luscious and satiny-smooth, yet light on the tongue, and the lemony flavor is pucker-perfect. All it needs is a good stir once you lift the lid and it’s ready to go. The company, founded in Australia (hence the “h” in the spelling) but now Boulder, Colorado-based, makes all of its yogurt from milk from local, pasture-raised cows.

Related Links: Yogurt: The New Superfood
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Supermarket Sleuth

Olive Oil Primer: Healthy Smoke in a Bottle

Smoke in a Bottle

Photo © Sara Julian (Holy Smoke). © Lee McLaughlin (The Smoked Olive).
Courtesy of oliveoillovers.com (Castillo de Canena)

These olive oils are a clever way to add smokiness to all types of food.

Holy Smoke (left)
Smoked over hickory and pecan wood. $15 for 8.5 oz; holysmokeoliveoil.com.

The Smoked Olive Sonoma (middle)
Fruity and a little spicy. $24 for 6.75 oz; thesmokedolive.com.

Castillo de Canena (right)
Fantastic on roast potatoes. $21.50 for 250 ml; oliveoillovers.com.

Try it in a Recipe: Smoky Salmorejo
This chilled, no-cook Spanish soup is similar to gazpacho but blended instead of chopped. Smoked olive oil adds meatiness to the vegetarian dish. GET THE RECIPE »

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Supermarket Sleuth

Jamaica in a Bottle

© Jasmin Sun

© Jasmin Sun

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

I’ve been grilling this best-ever Jamaican Jerk Chicken regularly since we first published the recipe almost 20 years ago. I often serve it with Jamaican Rice and Peas and Crab Curry Rundown, for an all-Jamaican summer feast.

The rest of the year, I get my Jamaican fix at Miss Lily’s, a great little corner spot in Soho that’s also home to a record store, a radio station and New York City’s maverick Juice Master, Melvin. The restaurant’s consulting chef has cleverly figured out how to bottle all that Jamaican goodness in a new line of marinades and sauces. The jerk marinade is chunky, fresh tasting and fiery, as it should be, packed with scallion, allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers—a one-stop flavor fix for marinating chicken, pork, shrimp, lamb, and my favorite, goat. If you’re not sure you’re into jerk, you’ll love the more familiar BBQ sauces—I like the super Rass Hot BBQ sauce, with its habanero kick, but there’s a milder version, too, for beginners.

Related: Spicy Recipes
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Supermarket Sleuth

Super Seasoning

Courtesy of Scrumptious Pantry

Courtesy of Scrumptious Pantry

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

In the Food Department here, many of the products we try every week are condiments—jams and jellies, oils and vinegars, sauces, pickles and relishes, spice blends and flavoring salts. It’s actually a huge field, and a hard one to stand out in because there are so many good products. I normally wouldn’t use a seasoning salt, as I have a huge arsenal of herbs and spices at home, but there is one exception that I’ve bought again and again. It’s made by a company called the Scrumptious Pantry that’s based in Chicago, but sources its products from family farms in Italy in addition to the Midwest and California, where the owner used to manage a biodynamic winery.

Of course, it makes me feel good to know that the salt comes from a good place, but what I really love is the fresh, vibrant flavor that gets Italy just right. Whether you’re seasoning porchetta or bistecca, or just sprinkling the Herbed All-Purpose Salt on olive oil-roasted carrots and potatoes, its balance of salt, sage, rosemary, bay, lemon and garlic is just right; there's nothing musty about it. The salts are available at specialty food shops or by mail order from thescrumptiouspantry.com.

Related: F&W Masters: Lessons from Salt Guru Mark Bitterman
Recipes Featuring Salt
Fantastic Condiment Recipes

Supermarket Sleuth

Taking a Cue from Pistachios

Courtesy of Blue Diamond Almonds

Courtesy of Blue Diamond Almonds

F&W food editors apply their incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

A big part of the pleasure of eating pistachios is getting them out of the shell. It slows you down, of course, and spares you from mindlessly grabbing a handful, which is good. Plus, every pistachio presents its own little challenge of how to get the nut out in one piece without hurting your fingers or your teeth, or cracking a nail. Now the folks at Blue Diamond have jumped into the game with dry-roasted thin-shell almonds, which come salted and unsalted. I can’t tell you how they make the shells thinner, because they weren’t willing to share their secret. But the almonds we tried were superfresh and crisp, with great almond flavor, and they definitely made mindful snacking on almonds a lot more fun.

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Editors' Top Snacks
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