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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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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.

Related: Healthy Snacks
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Supermarket Sleuth

A Crispy Convert

© Atsushi Tomioka

© Atsushi Tomioka

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

I’ve never been a fan of the crisp freeze-dried fruits that line the snack racks at natural food markets and airport convenience shops. I sort of understood them in breakfast cereals when they were first introduced—usually strawberry and raspberry—and they made sense as an alternative when fresh berries were hard to come by. However, there’s a new fruit in the game, recently introduced by Crispy Green, that’s made me a convert: tangerines!

They certainly wouldn’t win any beauty contests—it fact they don’t look very appetizing at all, but don’t let that put you off. They’re loaded with great citrus flavor, with a perfect balance of sweet and tang. They’re light and crunchy and delicious right out of the bag, but I especially like them crumbled into salads (good with smoked duck!), or over ice cream, yogurt or anything else you might want to gussy up with a hit of tangerine flavor as the citrus season fades.

Related: Frozen Fruit
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Fruit Desserts

Supermarket Sleuth

The Chocolate Bar Hidden in My Desk Right Now

Courtesy of Theo Chocolate

Courtesy of Theo Chocolate

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

Theo is one of my favorite chocolate companies: Not only does it make organic, fair-trade bars and truffles in its Seattle factory, but Theo also is just so creative (its Bread and Chocolate bar, made with crispy crumbs, is a longtime love of mine). The company recently relaunched its Classic collection of bars, which mainly focuses on dark chocolate.

My favorite, however, is the milk chocolate made from 45 percent cacao and blended with crunchy bits of roasted almonds as well as pink Himalayan salt and ground vanilla. In an age when chocolate bars can be as fetishized as bottles of wine (and cost almost as much), I love that this bar is simple and tasty, and, at $4, is an affordable indulgence.

Related: Amazing Chocolate Desserts
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Supermarket Sleuth

Best Baby Snacks: Little Duck Organics Tiny Fruits

Courtesy Little Duck Organics

Courtesy Little Duck Organics

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

I'm one of those crazy moms that makes all of my ten-month-old daughter's food, except for the occasional treat. My favorite packaged baby snack out there are the Little Ducks Organics Tiny Fruits. Unlike some snacks, which contain a lot of different ingredients, these are just pencil-eraser-sized bits of freeze-dried organic fruit. They are actually so delicious, I can’t help snagging a few myself.

Related: Frozen Fruit Recipes
Tasty Snacks
Healthy Snacks

Supermarket Sleuth

The Next Sriracha: Mama O's Kimchi Paste

© Michael Harlan Turkell
© Michael Harlan Turkell

© Michael Harlan Turkell

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

New York City-based Mama O’s makes fantastic kimchi—I especially love the bok choy version. I recently picked up a jar of the company’s kimchi paste—an intense, salty, sweet, funky blend of Korean red pepper, garlic, lime juice, sugar and fish sauce. The idea is to just add cabbage to make your own kimchi, but I love the paste so much that I use it as a condiment. I’ve served it with scrambled eggs, tossed it with stir-fried vegetables and mixed it with mayonnaise to make my own secret sauce.

Related: Korean Recipes
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Supermarket Sleuth

Kale Made Convenient

Courtesy of Earthbound Farm
Courtesy of Earthbound Farm

Courtesy of Earthbound Farm

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

Last year was undoubtedly the year of kale. It seemed like there were kale salads on every menu and F&W included a recipe for the greens in almost every issue. Earthbound Farms said the demand for their boxes of mixed baby kales just keeps growing: Their sales are up 220 percent this year over last.

When I’m feeling lazy, I love this mix: The greens are tender enough to eat raw (no salt-massage needed) and they wilt down when cooked almost as quickly as baby spinach. The only trick is finding a supermarket that can keep a supply of the baby kale on the shelf.

Related: More Kale Recipes
Delicious Green Salads
F&W's Best Salad Recipes Ever

Supermarket Sleuth

If You Like Lamb Shanks, Try Lamb Shoulder Chops

© Tina Rupp

In this succulent recipe, lamb shoulder is braised in Syrah with kalamata
olives and dried sour cherries that have been soaked in red wine. The unusual
combination makes the sauce deliciously sweet and savory. © Tina Rupp

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

Lamb shanks find themselves all over restaurant menus this time of year. Cooked low and slow, the luscious meat pulls effortlessly from the bone. When I’m craving something meaty and warming, I’ve recently turned to lamb shoulder chops, because they’re often even less expensive than shanks. Good butcher shops almost always have lamb shoulder and I’ve started to see it around supermarkets as well. The entire thing can be cooked whole—like in this Syrah-Braised Lamb Shoulder—but 1-inch thick chops will braise in a fraction of the time and they can even be grilled if you don’t mind a little bit of chew. When you can, buy the chops with the round bones in the center. They’re occasionally more expensive but they come with a little bonus: luscious marrow to flavor your sauce or spread on toast.

Related: More Delicious Lamb Recipes
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Supermarket Sleuth

Ten Minutes to Whole Grains

Courtesy of Pedon
Courtesy of Pedon

Courtesy of Pedon

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

I’m always looking for quicker ways to cook whole grains. Executive food editor Tina Ujlaki has extolled the awesome Village Harvest frozen grains. I also love Pedon’s bags of dried grains that magically cook in a pot of water (just like pasta) in 10 minutes. I particularly love the blend of five different grains, which I recently sautéed with shallots and mushrooms to serve as a superfast side dish. But Pedon’s products are great in any recipe that calls for farro, barley or wheat berries.

Related: How to Cook with Grains and Legumes
Quinoa Recipes
More Delicious Farro Recipes

Supermarket Sleuth

A $10 Olive Oil That Tastes Like a $50 One

Courtesy of California Olive Ranch.
Courtesy of California Olive Ranch.

Courtesy of California Olive Ranch.

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

“Whoa, did you splurge on spendy olive oil?” my husband asked me recently while eating a very simply dressed salad. I hadn’t, actually. I had just tossed the greens with the California Olive Ranch (COR) Everyday oil I had picked up on a whim for about $10. The oil was so fresh and fruity—it really did taste more expensive.

On the back of the bottle, I noticed a harvest date—something most olive oil producers leave as a mystery unless you’re paying top dollar. That harvest date—it matters. In general, the more recent the harvest, the better the oil tastes. For example, I once tasted COR’s 2010, 2011 and 2012 oils at the same time. The 2010 was definitely more muted. The 2011 was still delicious, but the 2012 was even more vibrant.

It also helps that COR rushes its olives from the fields to the presses so they’re turned into oil within hours. I may never spend more on olive oil again.

Related: Great Recipes that Use Good Oil
100 Best-Ever Salad Recipes
Healthy Green Salads

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