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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

Supermarket Sleuth

Amazingly Fresh Dried Pasta

Courtesy of Cipriani
Courtesy of Cipriani

Courtesy of Cipriani

F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

I usually associate dried egg noodles with hearty meat stews, like goulash or Stroganoff, and mostly in a side-dish context. Of course, this is odd, because when I make fresh pasta, I always make egg noodles, and they are always destined for the center of the plate.

After sampling the pastas from Cipriani—the real Cipriani, from the legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice—however, I may never make fresh fettuccine again. The noodles are so light and elegant, so silky and slippery-soft but still truly al dente when cooked right. Apparently, they get that texture from being passed through the rollers 100 times and then dried slowly over a period of 17 hours. What’s truly amazing is that the pasta is fantastic in delicate preparations that feature fish, lobster, oysters, uni, eggs and vegetables, but it can stand up to a hearty lamb or veal ragù just as well. Be sure to look for the pasta in the rectangular box, as there is another brand that goes by almost the same name.

Related: Fast Pasta
Healthy Pasta
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Supermarket Sleuth

Best Popcorn Crunch Ever!

Courtesy of Pop'd Kerns.
Courtesy of Pop'd Kerns.

Courtesy of Pop'd Kerns.

F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

I’m a sucker for popcorn and all other toasty, savory corn snacks, from chips to corn nuts, to Halfpops and those Spanish imports called Quicos. Recently, one of my favorite versions, which was called Glad Corn and sold in pocket-size bags, disappeared from my health food store, only to reappear in a larger format and renamed Pop’d Kerns.

It resembles classic popcorn without the fluff, and with the kernel portion fried (I assume) until exploded and super-crispy. I’ve only had the plain version—and I think I’ll stick to that. They’re awesome and addictive straight out of the bag, but they also make wicked-good, nut-free, sweet-and-salty bark or rochers if you fold them into melted dark, milk or even white chocolate.

Related: F&W Editors' Favorite Snacks
Healthy Snacks
Tasty Snacks

Supermarket Sleuth

Dreamy Yogurt

Courtesy of Dreaming Cow Creamery
Courtesy of Dreaming Cow Creamery

Courtesy of Dreaming Cow Creamery

F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

Given a choice of yogurt flavors, I’ll always opt for plain, and I prefer it tangy and unstrained. I don’t even mind if it’s runny. That said, I’m always on the lookout for new brands and new flavors, hoping I’ll find one that I like. I just discovered Dreaming Cow—made in Georgia by dairy farmers who learned about yogurt-making on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s a farmstead yogurt, made exclusively from the milk from their grass-fed Jersey-cross herd.

Since there was no plain to be had, I picked up the ginger-maple. Two spoonfuls are enough to get a good sense of what a yogurt has to offer, but I ended up eating the entire container (it was small). It was the best flavored yogurt I’ve ever tried—not too sweet but with a lovely hint of maple and a clean, just-pungent-enough fresh ginger flavor. The texture is luscious and light, somewhere between a light custard and a just-barely-set panna cotta. Of course, it’s not low-fat—that would be asking too much!—but I can’t wait to try the other flavors.

Related: How to Make Homemade Yogurt
How to Cook with Yogurt
Yogurt: The New Superfood

Supermarket Sleuth

Best New Butter

Best New Butter

Butterfat-rich cultured butters with additions like maple and sea salt are a tasty upgrade from plain unsalted butter.

read more
Supermarket Sleuth

Fantastic Frozen Quinoa

Quinoa-Leek Pilaf

Village Harvest's precooked frozen quinoa takes the guesswork out of preparing hearty grains for F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki.

read more
Supermarket Sleuth

Bottled Umami: Blis Barrel-Aged Fish Sauce

© Wendell T. Webber

© Wendell T. Webber

F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

For centuries, Southeast Asian cooks have relied on deeply savory fish sauce as a primary seasoning in many of their dishes. Here, in the past couple of years, fish sauce, like so many other uniquely ethnic ingredients, has wandered into the universal pantry and is now used as a seasoning in non-Asian dishes as well. Red Boat has been my favorite brand of fish sauce because it’s fresh tasting, vibrant and light, and unlike some brands, there’s actually nothing fishy about it. Now, Red Boat has teamed up with the artisans at Michigan-based Blis Foods: They start with Red Boat’s finest 40*N fish sauce, which has already spent a year aging in wooden barrels, and age it for another 17 months or so in proprietary bourbon barrels previously used to age Blis maple syrup. Between the smoke from bourbon and wood and the mellow sweetness from the maple, the fish sauce becomes a rich-tasting, deeply nuanced condiment that’s as delicious in aioli and vinaigrette as it is in the classic Vietnamese condiment called nuoc cham.

Here are some great ways to use it:

Pok Pok Fish Sauce Chicken Wings
Fish Sauce Caramel
Grilled Rib Eyes with Mushrooms and Fish Sauce

Related: How to Cook with Fish Sauce
Delicious Southeast Asian Recipes
More Chicken Wings Recipes

Supermarket Sleuth

Party-Ready Red Walnuts

© Con Poulos

Red walnuts' bright hue gives party dishes a festive touch. / © Con Poulos

F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

I was shopping for stemmed artichokes at Eataly the other day when I came across the most beautiful walnuts I've ever seen. They were grown and packaged by the appropriately named Sanguinetti family in the Central Valley of California.

When you see their vibrant purplish-red color, you would swear they had been dyed (like they sometimes dye pistachios). The color actually comes from their red-skinned Persian parentage. With closed eyes, these large walnut halves taste just like a very fresh, crisp version of the brown English walnuts we”re familiar with, but they're so festive for parties—especially in nut mixes, salads, brittles, barks, breads and in other baked goods. Here are a few recipes that I love that would show off their gorgeous hue:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts and Anchovies
Smoked-Duck Salad with Walnuts and Raspberries
Aged Gouda Biscotti with Walnuts

Related: Crunchy Nut Recipes
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Editor Picks

Top 10 Food Products of 2012

Nine Sons Rising Frozen Biscuits

Biscuits! Courtesy of Nine Sons Rising.

F&W executive food editor and Supermarket Sleuth Tina Ujlaki names the year's best products for home cooks and last-minute gift givers.

1. PASTA: Molino e Pastificio Poschiavo
This is my favorite pasta at the moment, and everyone I’ve introduced it to has been equally smitten. Both the high price tag and the pretty, modern packaging kept me away until earlier this year, when I was looking for vermicelli and couldn’t find another brand. It definitely takes longer to cook than other pastas, but the wait (and the cost) are well worth it. The flavor is amazing and it's very easy to cook it just right.

2. BREAD MIX: Dumbo Delicious from Baked Better
I love hearty, rustic super-grainy/-seedy bread, but a lot of the loaves I buy are too sweet for me. What I love about this organic mix, aside from the fact that it produces a hefty, grainy loaf with just a 5-minute time investment, is that I can sweeten it—or not—to suit my taste.

3. CHEESE: Challerhocker
Stocked by Murray’s, Challerhocker translates to “sitting in the cellar,” and this rich, wine-washed wonder is one of the most delicious Swiss cheeses I’ve ever had. It’s nutty and caramelly, with incredible depth and the most luscious texture you’ll find in a firm cheese.

4. CHOCOLATE: Dandelion Bars & Askinosie’s Black Licorice CollaBARation
Nothing tricked out about the bean-to-bar chocolate made by Dandelion in San Francisco, just deep, dark, pure chocolate flavor and a luscious mouthfeel. As for bars with add-ins, a week in Iceland convinced me that chocolate and licorice are actually great partners. The collaboration between Missouri’s Askinosie Chocolate and a licorice artisan in Ramlösa, Sweden, led to the incredibly balanced Dark Milk Chocolate + Black Licorice CollaBARation. The licorice is made with rice instead of the more typical wheat, so it’s also gluten-free!;

5. FROZEN BISCUITS: Nine Sons Rising
One of my favorite finds at the Natural Foods Expo last summer was the frozen biscuits from Nine Sons Rising company. Available in plain, buttermilk and cheese varieties, the small, square biscuits bake up super-tender, flaky and moist all at once, with a wonderful buttery flavor.

6. POPCORN: Halfpops
Popcorn is certainly having a moment right now—we’ve had popcorn in every size and flavor it seems. My favorites of all have been Halfpops from Seattle, and they taste (and crunch) like a cross between a piece of popcorn and a CornNut, without the Styrofoam-like white portions.

7. FLAVORED SYRUPS: Morris Kitchen
Syrup is easy enough to make, for sure, but I just don’t do it. That’s why I love having the fantastically pure-flavored syrups from Morris Kitchen in my pantry. Made by a brother-and-sister team in Brooklyn, in flavors including rhubarb, ginger and spiced apple, the syrups are great in cocktails or sparkling water, in/on desserts, and I’ve used them in sauces for pork.

8. FISH SAUCE: Red Boat
The small batch, bourbon-barrel-aged fish sauce from Red Boat is amazing. I first tried it in Aspen this year at the F&W Classic, and I’ve been using it ever since in dishes that traditionally call for fish sauce, as well as in many Western dishes that don’t. It’s like my own personal secret ingredient!

9. CARAMEL SAUCE: Spoonable
I love the chewy sesame caramel sauce from this company—it has a deep roasty sesame flavor that is so nice with the rich caramel—I’ve even used it to make Bananas Foster. The peppered orange caramel sauce is great as well, especially with fresh strawberries and butter pecan ice cream.

10. PANFORTE: Marabissi Italian Panforte
Perfect for the holidays, and excellent on its own with coffee or Cognac or even paired with some cheeses, this particular panforte has it all in balance—it’s super-fresh tasting, not too dry or too moist and the nut-to-fruit ratio is just right. It’s best enjoyed in thin slices, so a good, sharp knife is key, whether you’re snacking or serving.

Related: 2013 Restaurant Preview: Biggest Trends, Openings and Recipes
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Supermarket Sleuth

Amazing Spices, Sold in Just the Right Amounts

Courtesy of Spicely Organic Spices.

Courtesy of Spicely Organic Spices.

F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

Buying spices can be a big investment in two ways—spices tend to be pricey, and you sometimes have to buy way more than you need for a specific recipe you’re curious to try. I discovered Spicely Spices when I needed 1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns, and I was so thrilled to find a tiny box of them that contained just a little more than the recipe called for. The company packs its all-organic spices in larger jars too, but I’ve come to rely on the small boxes to sample spices I’m not familiar with, for spices that I don’t use very often and also for seasonings to pack in my bag if I’m going away for a week, or even just heading off to cook part of a holiday meal at a friend’s house.

Related: How to Cook with Spices
Mild to Spicy Recipes
Spicy Recipes

Supermarket Sleuth

The Perfect Party Olive

Courtesy of The Cooper Square Hotel

Courtesy of The Cooper Square Hotel

F&W Executive Food Editor Tina Ujlaki applies her incredible cooking knowledge to explaining what to do with a variety of interesting ingredients.

When I was in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, last year doing some restaurant research for Best New Chefs, every single dish I had that included olives featured Castelvetranos, the rich, buttery, bright green, round olives from the town of the same name in Sicily. What makes them so remarkable probably has a lot to do with the variety itself, the soil and the terroir overall, but because they’re harvested young and salt-brined lightly, their delicious, distinctive olive flavor also isn’t overshadowed by vinegar or salt. You can serve them on their own, in salads and really in any dish where the mild flavor won’t be eclipsed—and they’re fantastic in cocktails, too!

Related: Delicious Olives Recipes
Holiday Cocktail Party
F&W's Ultimate Holiday Guide

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