Salivating Over Sea Salt

With the official start of summer all I’ve been thinking about is the ocean breeze, soft shell crabs and other tasty treats from the sea. Hard to believe perhaps but I’m especially salivating over Sea Salt.

Unrefined, natural and nutrient rich, sea salt offers more than a salty bite. As someone who serves up heaps of flavor, the right sea salt adds color, texture and grain too, taking a dish over the top. Here’s a sprinkling of salts and salt blends that are sure to melt in your mouth:

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Fleur de Sel

Fleur de Sel or ‘Flower of Salt’ is fine, fluffy salt crystals hand-harvested from France’s Atlantic Coast. This moist French salt has a delicate flavor, distinct taste and refined quality, making it one of the best finishing salts. It is beloved by cooks all over. Use it to prepare dishes or sprinkle on just before serving.

Himalayan Pink Salt    

Himalayan Pink Salt is another gem in the kitchen. Known for its taste and rich trace minerals, this rock salt ranges in size from small crystals to large stones. Because of this, it offers a multitude of uses – mills and grinders to large stones for grating table side, to chunks that are best for brining. Himalayan pink salt range in color from white to deep pink – even red, and makes for a vibrant finish. It is said to be the purest of all sea salts.

Smoked Salt

Smoked sea salts add an extra layer of flavor to foods. Smoked on a variety of woods including apple, hickory and oak, these salts offer more to savor. Lightly smoked salts are great on veggies, while the more robust work wonders atop grilled meats. Boost your backyard BBQ to a new level this grilling season with smoked sea salt.

Flavored Sea Salt

Whatever your creative culinary mind can conceive it probably exists as a salt blend. Among my favorites are Habanero Salt, Black Truffle Salt and Lime Salt, but there are literally dozens on the market. Sriracha Salt, Rosemary Salt and Merlot Salt are a few others.

With so much to choose from it can be difficult to make that choice. Hawaiian-style Red Sea Salt and Mediterranean Black Sea Salt are eye-catching with their deep, bold color. Talk about making an entrance! Whatever you fancy you can just about find it. Not sure what you fancy? No worries. Ideas and inspiration abound at SaltWorks and Williams-Sonoma.

To be balanced, research is crystal clear that too much sodium is not good for you. But cooking without any salt whatsoever is just plain blah. You can take that with a grain of salt or you can find your perfect pinch.

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The MVP of the Super Bowl

Who will nab the top spot at Super Bowl 50? With so many candidates vying for MVP, it is anyone’s guess. Will it be a runaway quarterback, the halftime show, a blow-out team performance or will a commercial steal the show? Perhaps it will be something else altogether? Let’s run the plays.

In years past, super bowl commercials have made the game worth watching, especially when the game itself was a letdown. When the only saving grace is a bag of Doritos or a heart-warming doggie adventure, commercials can have just as big an impact on game night. In fact, the ad themselves have a way of picking up the slack after an epic fumble. With host city San Francisco predicting bright skies and warm temps, there’s a chance Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” could ride in and save the day.

Perhaps it will be the halftime show. It is expected to be an extraordinary performance as Coldplay will be joined by Beyonce on stage. We can look forward to a lot of rocking and popping at Levi’s Stadium. Here’s hoping everyone’s jeans stay up and there are no wardrobe malfunctions.

Noteworthy is the fact that 2016 marks a special super bowl celebrating the 50th anniversary of American football. Will the moment create a thrilling game for the record books or will one man stand and deliver? All eyes have been on star QB Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, which is the team favored to win. But the chatter has left fans wondering if there is just way too much pressure. We’ll find out soon enough when the game gets underway this Sunday.

But for those not sitting in the stands at kickoff, there is always that fifth option: the food!

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Much like the super bowl, party hosts are relying on the pros to deliver the goods, hiring personal chefs and private caterers to feed big game appetites. But game day has gone gourmet, dishing up more than just pizza and wings. I for one will be leaving it all on the field with a spread that includes Mini Crab Cakes & Mango Sauce, Pan-seared Salmon with Fresh Lemon Drizzle, and fall-off-the-bone Pineapple Teriyaki Short Ribs. And that’s just some of the highlights.

No one knows how this will all shake out. And of course there’s bound to be the usual monday morning quarterback post game. But what’s not up for debate? Sitting down to a feast and not lifting a finger except to reach for a scrumptious bite. Touchdown! When it’s all said and done the MVP of your Super Bowl may very well be the food!

 

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Thanksgiving Made Over Easy

Decisions, decisions, decisions! What to do with all the leftovers after Thanksgiving?

A few years ago I received a call from my friends at FOX Philadelphia. They were doing a Thanksgiving Leftover Extravaganza and were asking a handful of area chefs to come up with creative ways to enjoy the remains of the holiday feast.

The premise was to create a dish using four traditional Thanksgiving foods: turkey, stuffing, mashed potato and cranberry. To make it interesting, each chef could add one secret ingredient of their choice. Watch as I rolled over these four holiday staples and my secret ingredient into a savory gourmet delight – all while having a little fun with my spicy cohort Mike Jerrick, Co-host of Good Day Philadelphia.

 

How cool was that? Thanksgiving made over easy!

Want more to savor this holiday season? Start with these Tuna Pastry Cups. They are inexpensive, easy to make and are a great first bite to the festivities. Be sure to include my Candied Sweet Potatoes & Raisins – a savory side even the pickiest eater will love.

For still more ways to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers post your questions in the comments section or email flavors@jadegrill.com!

 

Brought to you by JADE… Food, Flavor, Fun!

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Tuna Pastry Cups

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The holidays are fast approaching. Oh what fun it is serving up something new and exciting. Lucky for you, your foodie and chief flavor head at JADE has you covered! These flaky and flavorful Tuna Pastry Cups are delicate and delectable all in the same bite. Why not spread some gourmet goodness this season?

2 Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed

2-4oz. cans Albacore Tuna in Water, drained

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. mayonnaise

2 tsp. spicy brown mustard

2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

1/4 tsp. paprika

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch ground black pepper

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  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, add tuna, paprika, salt, ground pepper, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil and mix evenly. Set aside.
  3. Using a round, crinkle cookie cutter, cut out 12 rounds from each pastry sheet. (Yields fewer for supermarket pastry sheets. Refer to Note below).
  4. Stuff cutouts into muffin pan to form 24 cups.
  5. Using a teaspoon, fill cups with tuna mix. Press gently with finger.
  6. Bake pastries until nicely browned.
  7. Remove from oven and let sit 3-5 minutes.
  8. Remove from muffin pan and serve.

Baking time: 18-20 minutes

Servings: 8
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Note: This recipe was made using two large, restaurant-style puff pastry sheets. When using pastry sheets from your local grocer, substitute about 8 pastry sheets to yield 24 rounds. Recipe requires a 24-cup Nonstick Mini Muffin Pan (or two 12-cup pans) and a round cookie cutter (crinkled or plain). 

 

Tips & Techniques

When thawing pastry, remove paper underneath sheets.

Dust cutting board (or other surface) with flour to prevent sticking.

Frozen puff pastry generally thaws within 10-15 minutes.

 

These Tuna Pastry Cups present like crab but for a fraction of the cost and are the perfect appetizer to get your holiday party started! Visit www.JADEGRILL.com for more Food, Flavor, Fun!

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The Flavor of Fall

Summer hasn’t officially ended, but with Labor Day behind us and the weather already showing signs of cooling, I think we are well on our way to Autumn. The change in season ushers in much to delight in; fruits and vegetables in vibrant display, rows of apple trees ripe for the picking, hayrides through pumpkin patches, and the most fragrant of culinary herbs.

One of the things that bring me great appreciation this time of year is the peppy
glow of fall. To behold the leaves on the trees as they change color beneath the sun’s rays. The breathtaking view driving up the New York State Thruway – as I did in college – and seeing the warm hues of red, orange, yellow and brown as the trees slowly shed their summer green. The earthy fragrance of allspice mixed with cloves that awakes you each morning and lets you know, yes, it’s fall. For me fall just has a special way of coming to life. That’s the flavor of fall.
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More than the vivid nature of the season is the food. Although you can find just about every eat year round in today’s global marketplace, nothing is as satisfying as enjoying it in season, at its due. Everything is better when it’s at its best. Pomegranate and cranberries are redder in color and richer in taste. Apples and pears are just peachy. Brussels sprouts and bok choy are crisper, and giant pumpkins serve up big, bold taste.

Oh, the dishes you can dig into this time of year. Soups, stews, compotes and cobblers rooted in home-cooked goodness. If there’s ever a season readymade for a hearty meal it’s fall. Chunky, chicken vegetable soup made with butternut squash, potatoes, carrots, turnip, and celery, and flavored with fresh parsley and thyme. And after dinner, a generous slice of Cranberry-Apple Pie or a heap of warm fruit compote to top two scoops of your favorite ice cream.

If home is where the heart is and there’s no place like home, fall is the season you get to come home. Welcome home.

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Grilled Baby Bella Mushrooms

Looking for a succulent side dish to serve on that summer plate? These Grilled Baby Bella Mushrooms in Garlic Butter make the perfect addition. They’re earthy, flavorful, from the grill and pairs nicely with that fillet of fresh fish!

1-10oz. pkg. baby bella mushrooms

4 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

½ tsp vegetable oil

½ tsp sea salt

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  1. Shave (cut thin) garlic.
  2. On the stovetop, heat 10” skillet at medium temperature.
  3. Add butter, shaved garlic and sauté for about 4 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, wipe mushrooms with slightly damp paper towel, snip stems and cut into ¼ inch slices.
  5. Heat grill at high temperature.
  6. Brush grates with vegetable oil.
  7. Grill mushroom s for about 90 seconds on each side.
  8. Remove sautéed garlic from stovetop.
  9. Add sea salt and grilled mushrooms and toss.
  10. Serve as a flavorful side dish.

Servings:  4

Mushroom Facts

Baby Bella mushrooms are a type of brown mushroom. They are young, not fully matured Portobello mushrooms. Also known as Cremini mushrooms they are low in calories and a good source of antioxidants and other nutrients.

Note: Tableware provided by Libbey Foodservice.

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Savory & Sweet Summer Salads

Summertime is the absolute best time to enjoy salads. From light, crisp and cool to straight from the grill, these six salads can be a refreshing start, a savory side, or flavorful finish to any meal.

Grilled Corn Salad                                                                                                    

Grilled yellow corn (cut from the cob), chopped iceberg lettuce, diced cucumber, tomato, and avocado, and finely chopped scallion tossed in sea salt, ground pepper, fresh squeezed lime juice and avocado oil.

Grilled Corn Salad

Citrus Garden Salad

Spring mix (or your favorite salad greens), sliced cucumber, bell peppers and avocado, grape tomatoes and shredded carrot tossed in a zesty citrus dressing made with a Dijon Honey Mustard, fresh squeezed lime and orange, sea salt, ground pepper and vegetable oil blend.

Summer Fruit Salad                                                                                            

Cut peaches, pineapple, watermelon, mango, kiwi, strawberry and blueberry drizzled with balsamic reduction and sprinkled with Chia Seeds.

Cucumber Salad                                                                                                    

Chopped cucumber, tomato, and scallion tossed in white vinegar and sea salt and dusted with ground pepper.

Grilled Vegetable Salad                                                                                  

Summer Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant, Asparagus, Porcini Mushroom, Bell Peppers, Corn and Shallots sprinkled with coarse sea salt and drizzled with olive oil.

Watermelon & Goat Cheese Salad                                                                        

Cubed watermelon, wetted with balsamic reduction, topped with crumbled goat cheese and adorned with fresh mint.

Watermelon & Goat Cheese SaladEnjoy these savory and sweet summer salads all season long. For more recipes visit us at www.jadegrill.com for these and other recipes.

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Go from Garnish to Gourmet

It’s that time of year when the weather begins to warm, local farmers’ market are getting ready for their season opening, and the seeds you started indoors weeks ago have sprouted. Today, however, I’m dishing out more than just your garden variety veggies. We’re going gourmet with edible botanicals – leaves, flowers, herbs, plants, and plant mixes that do more than just pretty up the plate.

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Since we eat with our eyes long before we take a bite, we appreciate the role garnish plays on a plate. Think color, freshness and overall presentation. But, why pick useless shrub when the right trim can work wonders?

Edible botanicals – leaves, flowers, greens, herbs, and plants add vibrancy, flare, flavor and function. Dressing up a dish with an orchid – neutral in taste and lavender or purple in color, adds snap without sacrificing flavor. A begonia mix boasts a zesty, crisp, tart finish – the perfect blend for a delightful citrus salad. Or spread it around a savory seafood platter in place of lime or lemon. The pretty pink petals of begonias (comes in white too) with bright yellow centers adds just the right amount of radiance for spring and summer entertaining.

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The appropriate finish can also take fare from palatable to perfection. For example, a mint mix will enhance the flavor of lamb, while it’s small, delicate, bright green leaves create a stark contrast to the seared, crusted exterior of the meat.

Island Inspired

I’m an island girl so whenever possible or as appropriate I mix in as much of the Caribbean into my culinary creations as I can get away with. And with edible botanicals I get away with quite a bit! Shoot, it’s literally a field of dreams. And the spring and summer seasons my playground – with plenty of plants to play with on my plate. The bounty of veggies and flowers found in the Caribbean are endless. Hibiscus, sorrel, cilantro, onion, turnip, thyme, mint, rosemary, orchid… Did you know Jamaica has over 200 species of orchid? Not to mention herbs. You know Jamaica has herb!

Taking Care

Now that you’re familiar with what’s on the market, here’s how to ensure you get the most use of your petite produce. Keep fresh by refrigerating immediately. Suppliers generally guarantee freshness for up to a week. However, I find that by keeping them in their original packaging, sealing in an airtight zipper bag then storing in the refrigerator you can squeeze out an extra 2 or more days.

Whatever your taste, go for plating that’s more than pretty. Elevate the experience by choosing the right green and go from garnish to gourmet!

Note: Samples for the attached photo provided by Gourmet Sweet Botanicals.

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The Green Goddess of Cooking Oils

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Move over Olive! There’s a new girl in town. And she’s not just any ole gal. She’s rich, refined, smoking hot, and best of all, she’s real good to ya.

Avocado is a super food. And its sleek, smooth, buttery oil is heating up the culinary cosmos. But this tropical fruit is not just for Mediterranean diets and health nuts. With lots to love,everyone should be digging it. Get a load of some of what this green goddess has going on:

  1. Good source of antioxidants like vitamins E and beta-carotene
  2. High in monounsaturated fatty acids (good fats that help lower cholesterol)
  3. Packed with protein
  4. Lots of potassium – more than that of a banana
  5. No cholesterol, no trans fat and no sodium
  6. Offers more benefits than olive oil

When fired up Avocados leave nothing to be pitied. With a high smoke point, Avocados are perfect for high-temperature cooking like frying and searing. But don’t be fooled. This versatile oil comes dressed to impress, and adds her own brand of flavor to salads, seafood and more.

Avocado oil does dishes well. But it does the body even better. As far as edible oils go, this virgin girl has got the competition beat. Eat your heart out!

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