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fresh magazine web exclusive fresh magazine web–exclusives nov - dec 2011

 

Q&A: Food Freshness - Wendy Ward,
Local Sourcing Specialist, Hannaford Supermarkets

Wendy Ward

As Hannaford's Local Sourcing Specialist, Wendy Ward works with a deep network of farmers and producers of fresh (and value-added) foods. She monitors local sources and keeps an eye on trends for our Close to Home® program, which aims to bring the freshest local options to Hannaford customers. When you buy local produce, you're supporting neighboring farms and your local economy, and keeping farmland open and viable.

— Erin Graham

Are there any misconceptions about food freshness?
People often think that fresh produce is always better than frozen. The better question to ask is "How long has it been since this product was harvested?" For example, buying fresh, locally grown produce at Hannaford often means you're getting produce that has been harvested within hours, and hasn't had a chance to lose nutrients. When local produce is not an option, fresh produce is still a good choice, being packed with lots of nutritious qualities. Frozen produce is an attractive option as well, since the produce is usually frozen soon after harvest and nutrients are locked in.

How do refrigeration and travel time affect nutritional content?
Refrigeration of fresh produce helps retain nutrients by slowing down the natural degradation that occurs once a product is harvested. Close to Home produce is more likely to have higher nutritional value, since it's been more recently harvested and has had less time for nutrient loss during a long shipping time.

How does the Close to Home program work?
Hannaford has been working with local growers since our inception — more than 125 years ago. Because local foods come from smaller producers, the selection and distribution of these products varies across stores and regions. Hannaford works with about 200 farmers and 600 producers of local products, from very small businesses to those with much larger distribution. Some producers deliver directly to stores, while others have enough volume to deliver to our warehouse.

Are there any natural preservatives to look for on ingredient lists?
Honey, salt, sugar, and antioxidants such as tocopherols and ascorbic acid are natural preservatives that are often added to foods. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an antioxidant used to retard browning in certain fruits and vegetables. Vinegar and salt are traditional methods of food preservation, and sugar itself can be a preservative; it's used in preserving fruit, for example.

Are any foods better off unrefrigerated?
With some exceptions — like tomatoes, basil, bananas, peaches, and avocados — it's best to immediately refrigerate fresh produce to preserve freshness by "stopping the clock" on microbial growth and delaying product deterioration. Usually consumers should store produce at home using the same methods as the store: if it was under refrigeration at the store, that's where you put it at home.

What steps does Hannaford take to maximize freshness preservation before food reaches the shelf?
Produce is carefully monitored for correct temperatures and proper handling throughout its journey to the store. To offer optimum freshness and quality, Hannaford uses a seven-day "just in time" delivery schedule from its warehouses, ensuring every store receives the freshest produce seven days a week. In addition, our retail and warehouse teams are trained in food safety procedures that support optimal product rotation and refrigeration methods. Food is kept at the appropriate temperature and humidity levels from the source to the warehouse to the store.

 

Discovering Rutabaga

By Valentina Palladino

Discovering Rutabaga

Don't let the rutabaga's hard exterior fool you — this root vegetable steams, bakes, and roasts into a creamy, soft, sweet dish. Also known as yellow turnip or "swede," rutabaga grows well in colder climates and can be stored long after harvesting. Probably the result of a cross between turnips and wild cabbage, nutritious rutabagas are an abundant source of vitamins and nutrients. They are naturally fat free and cholesterol free, low in sodium and calories, and rich in beta-carotene. Rutabagas contain more vitamin A than turnips, and one serving has 35 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.

 

The Versatile Root

Rutabagas are available year-round but are most popular during the autumn and winter months. When rutabaga is prepared for selling, the top foliage is removed, and the vegetable is coated with a layer of paraffin or wax to keep it fresh longer. Before cooking rutabagas, be sure to slice the whole root in halves or quarters and peel the layer of protective wax.

 

Typically rutabagas are boiled, mashed, roasted, or simmered in stews and soups. Their mild yet sweet flavor makes them a great side to hearty beef or pork dishes, and they pair well with potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. A popular dish in Sweden is rotmos (literally "root mash"), made by boiling rutabaga with potatoes and mashing them into a purée with butter and stock, milk, or cream. Rutabagas can also be enjoyed raw, cut into strips, and served with dip. Cooks discovered rutabagas back in the 17th century, and now they are enjoyed in northern Europe, Ireland, Canada, and the northern United States. In many of these countries rutabaga became a staple during WWII because it was so easy to grow, store, and cook.

Rutabaga Fun Facts

  • Jack-o'-lanterns originated in Ireland, where people hollowed out rutabagas and filled them with coals on All Hallows' Eve. In North America, pumpkins were plentiful and easy to carve and soon became the preferred Halloween favorite.
  • Rutabagas are rolled along the wooden floors of the farmers' market in Ithaca, N.Y., each year during the International Rutabaga Curling World Championship.
  • Cumberland, Wis., has hosted a Rutabaga Festival for more than 75 years, complete with the Rutabaga Run, Rutabaga Olympics, and Grande Parade.

 

fresh magazine web exclusive fresh magazine web–exclusives Sep - Oct 2011

 

Q&A: Tim Stone, Geat Hill Dairy Inc., Marion, MA

Tim Stone

Tim and Tina Stone started out in the dairy business producing wholesale milk at their dairy farm in Marion, Mass. Thirteen years ago they saw an opportunity to make gourmet blue cheese, and Great Hill Blue was born. They are now solely focused on creating artisanal nonhomogenized blue cheese from raw cow's milk. We talked to Tim about all things blue — cheese, that is.

— Jean Mattes

Does cheese really get better with age?
TS: Some cheeses do get better with age, but others don't & fresh cheeses can go bad. Specifically to our cheese, it gets better up until a point; there's no set time frame to what that point is because it really depends on the characteristic of that individual batch. Generally, it should be good up to about 45 days. After that, the main thing that would happen &# at least with our cheese because it's blue cheese & would be some external mold growing on the rind, which is more of an aesthetic fault as opposed to a health hazard. We tell people just to scrape that off. The cheese is still good, but there probably will be some flavor changes from when it's first brought home to a month and a half later. It may taste a little stronger, but certainly should still be good to eat.

What is your favorite part of the cheese-making process?
TS: Seeing the transformation from a liquid state into a solid cheese is pretty amazing. Early in the morning the cheese vat is filled with milk and I get to see that milk turning into cheese curd and then later in the day it's been transformed into a wheel.

What should I think about when pairing blue cheese with wine, fruit, or other foods?
Tim Stone: Generally, blue cheese is a bit acidic by nature so you might tend to pair it with a wine along those lines and fruits like apples and grapes. It also pairs well with a sweeter wine, a dessert-type of wine & Rieslings go well with blue cheese. Blue cheese can pair well with a variety of foods. Customers will top steaks and filets with it, some will put it into a salad, others will offer a cheese course at the beginning or end of a meal. It does melt well so often people will put it on a burger instead of another type of cheese. My family's favorite way of having it is as an hors d'œuvre on a plain cracker because we feel we get the best of the cheese taste that way.

What's a classic mistake people make when storing cheese?
TS: Storing it in the wrong place in the refrigerator. Blue cheese should be kept down in one of the produce drawers at the bottom, where it's a little bit more humid. I think when cheese is stored on an upper shelf it can tend to dry out.

What does nonhomogenized mean and why is it important in cheese making?
TS: It's important to us. Basically, homogenization is a process where milk is run through a homogenizer, which shears the fat globules that exist so they're dispersed throughout the milk, thereby making it the same. By not homogenizing the milk to make blue cheese, we have to age the cheese longer because it takes longer for these whole fat globules to get broken down by the enzymes and proteins that are released from the mold. We feel the end result is a much smoother and creamier product. We age our blue cheese five to six months to get the flavor that we like.

Why unpasteurized (raw) milk?
TS: We felt it would lead to a better, more flavorful product by not pasteurizing and heating the milk. There are lots of naturally occurring enzymes that can get killed off by pasteurization, and those can contribute to a flavor profile that we felt was important to get in the end product.

Do you still have a dairy farm? Do you raise cows for the cheese?
TS: No, we discontinued the dairy farm before the cheese-making operation started. We purchase cow's milk from local farms to make our blue cheese. We still do some agricultural activities here; we make hay. We have fields that were grazed for the cows when they were here. So we cut the crops and make bales of hay.

 

Discovering Golden Raisins

By Caitlin Bueller

Golden Raisins

Raisins are not exactly a space-age innovation. The process of drying grapes has been practiced since ancient times and is even mentioned in the Bible. Of course, the procedure has evolved over time, which brings us to the golden raisin.

Golden raisins are often made from the same type of grape as dark raisins — most commonly the white (actually green) Thompson, or sultana (seedless) grape. But they are processed differently in order to retain their original light color. While dark raisins are sun-dried for about three weeks, golden raisins are dried in an oven or by flame instead and treated with sulfur dioxide, a preservative used on most light-colored dried fruits to prevent them from darkening during the drying process. This treatment is not harmful and actually helps to maintain the vitamin A and vitamin C content. Organic golden raisins are not treated with sulfur dioxide.

Because golden raisins are dried using artificial heat, they are often more moist and plump than the average dark raisin. Golden raisins also have a sweeter and tangier flavor than darker raisins, often making them a good choice in recipes for cookies, cakes, and breads.

Raisins are known around the world as "nature's candy," and for good reason. When grapes are dried, their natural fruit sugars (fructose) becomes very concentrated and the result — raisins are more than 70 percent pure fructose, which is easily digested for a quick energy boost. Sweet! They also contain boron, iron, fiber, and antioxidants. Raisins can also help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. They can be good for your teeth too! The compounds found in raisins help prevent bacteria from adhering to tooth enamel, and research has shown that raisins also contain phytochemicals and antioxidants that can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bacteria growth.

Those antioxidants also help protect cells from many damaging compounds, and studies have shown that they may act as an anti-aging boost for both your brain and body. Some research suggests they can even help prevent serious diseases like cancer.

Though there's no solid research to prove that it works, golden raisins are part of a folk remedy for relieving arthritis pain and joint inflammation. The method involves soaking golden raisins in gin made with juniper berries until the raisins have absorbed all the alcohol, and then consuming about nine of the "drunken" raisins per day. This remedy garnered popularity after radio celebrity Paul Harvey mentioned it during one of his broadcasts in the 1990s. Golden raisins may or may not make you feel better, but you can count on them for a tasty, nutritious snack.

 

hassle-free hors d'oeuvres

hassle-free hors d'oeuvrestasty, easy, few-ingredient bites for any casual gathering
By Jolyon Helterman

NOT EVERY OCCASION calls for hours of chopping, cooking, and baking. Add some quick and easy hors d'oeuvres to your repertoire, and even the kids will be able to help with the party preparation.

Spiced pecans and roasted edamame
Toss some pecans with olive oil and Inspirations Northwoods Garlic Pepper Rub, then bake at 300ºF for 20 minutes. Separately, toss shelled edamame with olive oil and more rub, and roast at 425 degrees F until browned. Combine with the pecans and serve warm.

Pinwheel canapés
Slice fresh mozzarella rolled with prosciutto (found with specialty cheeses) into thin disks and place in the center of sea salt bagel crisps. Bake at 475 degrees F until cheese melts and starts to brown. If desired, garnish with thinly sliced scallions and minced lemon zest and serve.

Cheesy-peppery triangle crisps
Working with thawed puff pastry is a breeze if you roll it out on top of parchment paper, then transfer it together. For this simple snack, spread Taste of Inspirations® Honey Mustard, shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese, and Hannaford Mild Sliced Pepperoncini on an unbaked sheet of pastry, and top with a second sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes, cut into triangles, and serve.

LITTLE CUP OF HORRORS
There's nothing wrong with bowls of orange candy. But Hannaford's Seasonal aisle makes it easy to raise your party-favor game. Halloween-themed paper cups become party-ready treasure troves of devilish (and delicious) delights. A few ideas to get you started:

  • Plastic spiders
  • Skull-shaped rings
  • Teddy graham crackers
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Spooky stickers

 

 

fresh magazine web exclusive fresh magazine web–exclusives Jul - Aug 2011

 

Q&A: Richard Pfeffer and Ed Stebbins, Gritty McDuff's

Richard Pfeffer and Ed Stebbins

Stepping into the world of craft beers for the first time can be a bit daunting, especially when you're faced with the range of choices at many Hannaford stores. But craft breweries — outfits that produce no more than 6 million barrels of beer per year — make delicious products worth exploring. For a primer we turned to Richard Pfeffer and Ed Stebbins, owners of Gritty McDuff's, a craft brewery and namesake brew pubs headquarted in Portland, Maine.

— Andrew Eitelbach

Why did you become brewers?
Richard Pfeffer: I liked beer a lot; we both did. I wanted to open a pub, and back in 1986, a guy told me about brew pubs. The idea of a pub that brewed its own beer was a pretty new concept at the time, at least around here. It seemed like such a good idea that Ed and I went for it. Ed apprenticed at the Geary Brewing Company in Portland and became our brewer — he has a knack for it.

What criteria do you use for finding beers you like, or testing your own beers?
RP: We give it the ol' liver test. Ed Stebbins: (laughing) It works pretty well for us.

What goes into producing a new flavor of beer?
ES: We're really fortunate that when we brew a beer we get instant feedback from our customers in the brew pubs. We're pretty small so we like to let our brewers express themselves. We do small-batch brews all the time, and when we find one that people really like, we tend to stick with it.

What's the difference between ales and lagers?
RP: Ales and lagers are the two main types of beer. Ales are fruity, sweet, a little bitter, and full-bodied. Lagers tend to be crisp, less bitter than ales, and are served at colder temperatures.

What makes a beer light or dark?
ES: It comes down to the malted barley. Think of it like bread in a toaster: the longer you roast the grain, the darker the malt becomes, and the darker the resulting beer will be.

Is a dark beer stronger and heavier than a light-colored beer?
RP: That's a misconception. The heaviness of a beer is determined by the amount of unfermented sugars that remain after brewing — not the color. When you make a dark beer like a stout, the roasted malt isn't heavy because most of its sugars have been converted into alcohol. ES: Look at a famous dark beer, the stout. It's smoother and has a lower alcohol content than Budweiser.

How do you decide what you're going to brew?
RP: We brew what people tell us they want. We've been brewing English style ales in our pubs for 23 years, and we find it difficult to veer from that because we have only so much capacity to produce, and when we run out of one of our base brews, our customers get a bit vocal about it. ES: What sells in the pubs tells us what's going to sell in the package.

What do you mean by English style ales?
ES: Gritty's brews what are known as session beers, which have a balanced taste .— not too malty, not too hoppy — and a moderate alcohol content, so you can drink more of them in a sitting without objecting to the taste or consuming too much alcohol.

Where do you get your ingredients?
ES: The water comes from Sebago Lake, where Portland gets all its water, and we don't have to touch it. It's excellent brewing water. Our barley is imported from England and Scotland, since that's the style of beer we do, and most of our hops come from the Pacific Northwest, an area that produces some of the greatest hops in the world. Our yeast culture is a centuries-old yeast culture imported from Yorkshire, England.

What are hops?
ES: Where the malt barley is the body of the beer, hops are known as the soul of the beer. They grow on a vine much like grapes, in the same regions as grapes. Hops give beer its characteristic bitterness and aroma. There are two kinds of hops used by craft brewers: aromatic hops and bittering hops. One of the unique things about craft brewed beers in America is that they are brewed without bittering hops. The average craft brewer will use a large amount of aromatic hops, which adds a subtle amount of bitterness.

What's the difference between English style beers and Belgium beers?
ES: It's hard to summarize in a few sentences but basically it comes down to the yeast culture. Belgium yeast cultures tolerate much higher alcohol levels, and traditionally they're served in bottles. You can find American Belgian-style beers on draft, but that's a unique case. In Belgium they are almost always served in the bottles because the fermentation process happens right in the bottles.

What Gritty's beer should a newcomer try first?
ES: I'd encourage going with our Pub Style first — that's our flagship beer. It's a nice, well-balanced ale. And then I'd encourage you to try the Vacationland Summer Ale. We call it serious lawn mowing beer. Summer seasonals are a treat on a hot day, and our Vacationland is a really tasty golden ale.

What's your favorite food/beer pairing:
RP: In winter, I like our shepherd's pie paired with Black Fly Stout. ES: I like fish and chips with a cold Vacationland in the summer. We use our beer in the recipe for battering the fish. We incorporate our beer into most of our food recipes — it's easy to do, and it's a great way to update a recipe. Swap stock for beer, or even water for beer when it's called for. That's one of the beauties of craft brewing, we can do so much with the kinds of beers we produce, but that's also something great about Maine. We have so many great local foods, and you can pick them up at Hannaford when you're buying your Gritty's.

That's a pretty good plug for Hannaford.
RP: Well, we really appreciate the relationship we've formed with Hannaford. ES: We know how important they are to us, and it's clear Hannaford understands how important local businesses are to them. And that's great to see.

What's next for you?
ES: A drink! RP: We may move into canning beer, and we may open a few more brew pubs. We're looking into expanding our operation; we're near to outgrowing our facilities and that's a problem.

That's a good problem to have.
ES: It's definitely a good problem to have. RP: We're pretty excited to keep moving the company forward. ES: We certainly are. It's thirsty work.

 

Timeless Rosemary

By Vanessa J. Descalzi

Rosemary

The ancient Greeks may have been onto something when they picked fragrant sprigs of rosemary along the Mediterranean shore and offered the herb as a sacrifice to the gods (its Latin name means "dew (ros) of the sea (marinus)"). If any herb could make you immortal, it's this one. Rosemary contains caffeine and rosmarinic acid, both potent anti-inflammatory agents that help fight liver and heart disease. It's also a good source of vitamin E and other natural acids that fight free radicals. So sprinkling rosemary on your favorite dishes not only adds great flavor — it also contributes to a healthy lifestyle.

Buying
Fresh rosemary tends to be superior in flavor to its dried counterpart. When picking out fresh rosemary, make sure the sprigs are a deep sage green. They should be free from yellow or dark spots. While many prefer fresh rosemary, don't count dried rosemary out. The dried form of the herb is great sprinkled over roasted potatoes, added to garlic-infused olive oil, or blended into the batter of baked goods.

Storing
Fresh rosemary and dried rosemary require different storing techniques. Leave fresh rosemary in its original packaging and store it in the refrigerator. If something happens to the original packaging, it's fine to wrap the herb in a slightly damp paper towel. Dried rosemary, on the other hand, should be kept in a cool, dark, and dry place in a tightly sealed container, where it will stay fresh for up to six months.

Season-Spanning Flavor
The rosemary plant is a small evergreen shrub, and because it grows year-round, this popular herb is always available to add a fresh note of flavor. Check out the table below to find a variety of rosemary-inspired seasonal recipes.

Winter Spring Summer Fall
Rosemary Prosciutto Wrapped Filet Mignon >>
Lemon Rosemary Chicken Tenderloins. >>
Rosemary Roasted Garlic Butter >>
Linguine with Spinach, Garlic, and Rosemary >>
Roasted Chickpeas with Rosemary and Sea Salt >>
Lemon-Rosemary Quinoa Pilaf >>
Herb-Apple Jelly >>
Walnut Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken >>

Tender Loving Cook: Finding inspiration at home

By Meghan Rowley Little

Dolores Farrington

A pharmacist for 28 years, Dolores Farrington knows there are often many cures for someone's ailments. As a mother and grandmother, she feels that many times the best cure is a home-cooked meal. Perhaps that's why this pharmacist is taking a break from filling prescriptions and is now focused on fulfilling a dream — to start a catering business. "It would be great to cook for a living," she says. "There is nothing better than cooking a meal and seeing people's reactions. I just love making everyone smile."

Raised in a large Italian family, Delores grew up in a home where cooking and eating were integrated into all aspects of life. While she learned to cook Italian favorites from her mother and grandmother, her sister, Marie, was her most influential teacher. "She cooked all types of food and taught me to experiment," she says.

Dolores's Meatballs with Chianti Tomato Sauce >>
These meatballs are made with packaged meat loaf mix, a blend of ground beef, pork, and veal that can be found in the Butcher Shop. Serve with pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine. Dolores says she also makes a version of the meatballs her family calls Sicilian, which includes 1 cup raisins and 3 oz. pine nuts and is served without sauce. Recipe may be halved and may be frozen.

 

 

Ask the Healthy Cook: Smart Carbs

By Susanne D'Angelo Cooley MS, RD, CDE, Hannaford Nutrition Coordinator

Susanne D'Angelo Cooley

In my practice as a registered dietitian, carbohydrates are an endlessly hot topic. Clients come in with all these rules they've read in magazines or heard on TV: I can't eat anything white, I can't have fruit, bread is evil. And I always tell them: There's nothing you can never eat, even if you're looking to lose weight. What's key is knowing there's a time and place for every carb.

Do carbs cause weight gain?
The bottom line, plain and simple, is that you gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn. It's about eating a balanced diet. I follow a rule of threes: Each day, aim for three food groups at each meal (including carbs), three pieces of fresh fruit, and three cups of fresh veggies.

What's the difference between "good" carbs and "bad" carbs?
Whole grains are more nutrient-dense and fill you up with fewer calories. While I still encourage clients to enjoy everything in moderation, desserts, candy, and foods made with processed flours should be eaten in small quantities. Good carbs include fruit, milk, and whole grains. But it's also OK to have white rice or white pasta once or twice a week, even if you're trying to lose weight. I often feel as if I have to give my clients permission to eat a baked potato, but a baked potato has never been unhealthy.

Why do low-carb diets work?
Your body produces water in order to metabolize carbohydrates and give you energy. Low-carb diets eliminate all the water. So you may lose weight quickly, but you're also dehydrating yourself. In addition, eliminating carbs can put your body into what we call ketosis, which can work to suppress the appetite by making you feel nauseated. But too much protein and fat can stress the kidneys and contribute to heart disease.

Is it true I shouldn't eat carbs after 7 p.m.?
There are studies showing that we burn more calories during the day and that eating too many carbs at night can slow weight loss. At night, your metabolism is starting to wind down.

What should I look for when reading food labels for carbohydrates?
The big thing to focus on is total carbohydrates — not just total sugars. Some sugar-free foods are very high in carbs. For weight maintenance, a good estimate for total carbs per day is 130 grams, unless you're an athlete, in which case you need more. Athletes should remember that protein is just the bricks; the carbs are the mortar and the masonry.

I'm diabetic. Can I eat carbs?
Yes. But you need to consider the amount of carbs you eat, and when you eat them. As a diabetic, you should aim to spread out your carbohydrate intake evenly throughout the day.

Why do I crave ice cream and bread (and how can I make it stop)?
The reason people crave and eat certain foods in excess is because they do not eat a balanced diet. The way to minimize the cravings is to eat a little bit of everything. If you have the forbidden foods occasionally, you will crave them less. The more satisfied you are, the easier it will be for you to lose weight.

Is there a healthy way to follow a low-carb diet?
Be reasonable. Try to include three fruits a day, two sources of dairy, and some whole grains. Do not go below 30 grams of carbs per meal.

 

fresh magazine web exclusive fresh magazine web–exclusives may - jun 2011

Recipes

Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Kefir Pancakes >>
Fiddlehead and Mushroom Salad
with Pecan Vinaigrette
>>

 

Q&A: Rich Page, general manager, Smiling Hill dairy farm

Rich Page

At Hannaford, we pride ourselves on supplying our customers with the finest one-of-a-kind products from local vendors. In our Maine stores, the delicious, wholesome, all-natural dairy products from Westbrook's Smiling Hill Farm are a customer favorite. Smiling Hill has operated in the same location on the outskirts of Portland, Maine, since the 18th century. Today, it's a classic all-American farm that offers family-friendly activities for visitors, including cross-country skiing in the winter and pumpkin picking in the fall. We spoke with Rich Page, general manager of Smiling Hill, about the farm's back-to-basics approach.

— David Plunkett

How long has this farm been in business?
Smiling Hill Farm has been in the Knight family since the 1700s — it's believed to be the ninth oldest family business in North America. We are constantly evolving: last year we sold the majority of our herd to focus on developing sustainable farming methods. While we concentrate on developing those methods, we partner with neighboring farms and jointly milk their cows.

What are some of your products that shoppers can find at Hannaford?
We sell all our all-natural milk in glass bottles: whole, 2 percent, and skim, in half gallons, quarts, and pints. We also have lots of flavored milks, including chocolate, strawberry, coffee, vanilla creme, blueberry, and banana. We have a creamery on the farm, so there's half and half and heavy cream products.

What are some of the advantages of using local dairy products?
Local milk comes fresh from the farm to you. We milk our cows one day, process the milk the next, and it's in the store later that day. Plus, like us, many local farms believe in all-natural farming.

What does ”all-natural” farming mean?
We use organic fertilizer, from cows — in other words, manure. We don't use any synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. In addition, our cows aren't given hormones. Also, our barn is as nice an environment as you can have to raise an animal and produce milk — we even have classical music playing for the animals. It's as close to organic as you can get, though we have not received certification.

But Smiling Hill processes organic milk from other farms.
In addition to our own milk production, we process the milk for MOOMilk (Maine's Own Organic)—meaning we take the raw milk from the cows and make it drinkable. MOOMilk includes milk from a number of organic farmers in New England, including Harris Farm in Dayton and Sherman Farms in North Conway. These are farms whose processor dumped them because they thought making organic milk isn't viable. Our truck can covers 900 miles in a single trip going to the farms we work with. We process the milk the day it gets here and it goes right to Oakhurst, which distributes it to Hannaford stores. It's another local product supporting all-natural methods. Hannaford plays the biggest role in selling MOOMilk across the state. It's important to us to help support the organic movement and help produce milk for customers who want to make that choice.

You also use low-heat pasteurization. What does that mean?
In low-heat pasteurization, we bring the milk to a temperature of about 160°F for 15 to 20 seconds. That provides a fresh shelf life of 15 to 21 days. In contrast, ultra-high-temperature pasteurization heats the milk to 275°F for 1 second. That gives the milk a 70-day shelf life. The difference is in the freshness. You're drinking our milk soon after it's produced, compared to a product that might have been processed a month ago halfway across the country.

Do you welcome visitors to the farm?
We give visitors from all over New England a chance to see how a working farm runs. We have a barnyard where kids can see and feed goats, sheep, baby calves, and small horses. We also make our own ice cream and have a shop where we sell our own artisanal cheeses. For more information, visit www.smilinghill.com.

Kefir: drink to your health

Kefir The intriguing oblong bottles located near the yogurt in our Dairy aisle may be new, but kefir, a fermented milk drink originally brewed in the Caucasus Mountains, has been around for centuries. According to legend, the first kefir grains (not actual grains, but a combination of beneficial bacteria and yeasts in granule form) were a gift from the prophet Muhammad. The people of the Caucasus region used the grains to cure illness and promote good health for centuries — a smart move, considering that modern research has shown that kefir bestows a variety of blessings: it can improve blood health, strengthen the immune system, and potentially suppress the development of some cancers. As time went on, word of kefir's many benefits spread, and more people discovered the drink. Today, companies like Lifeway and Evolve offer a refreshing assortment of flavored drinks that make kefir a delicious and healthy addition to any diet.

 

Kefir vs. Yogurt
Both kefir and yogurt are cultured milk products. The difference lies in the type of beneficial bacteria each contains. Yogurt boasts transient bacteria that help keep the digestive system in balance by nourishing the good bacteria already there. Kefir contains several major strains of bacteria not typically found in yogurt, and includes yeast. These extra bacteria one-up yogurt by colonizing your digestive tract with probiotics, so the beneficial effect lasts longer.

Perfect for a grainy day
Revitalizing kefir drinks start off as kefir grains, granules of several different bacteria and yeasts embedded in a complex matrix of protein and carbohydrates. The kefir grains ferment milk, causing a change in texture and taste. Before the kefir is ready to drink, the grains are removed. While many people enjoy kefir plain, the flavor can be enhanced with fruits like raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, and pomegranate.

Pro (good) + bio (life) = a good thing
Kefir is a tremendous source of probiotics, also known as "good" bacteria. Probiotics act like a SWAT team against the bad bacteria in your digestive tract. They limit the amount of space where these detrimental pathogens could grow, effectively reducing diarrhea, gas, and bloating, as well as inhibiting salmonella and E. coli. Kefir is also chock-full of essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins A, K, D, and B, and it breaks down lactose especially well, allowing lactose-intolerant individuals to potentially enjoy the benefits of some dairy foods.

Wake up to the benefits of tryptophan
For too long the amino acid tryptophan has suffered a bad rap, known for being the culprit in turkey that puts you to sleep after your Thanksgiving feast. Thankfully, tryptophan-rich kefir is here to give the healthful amino acid a much-needed image boost. Positive effects of tryptophan include its ability to relax the nervous system and decrease the chance of stomach problems. Additionally, tryptophan has been shown to help regulate appetite, improve sleep, and elevate mood. Because of kefir's stellar reputation as a health drink, tryptophan may finally start getting the positive recognition it deserves.

 

Ask the Healthy Cook: Cutting Cholesterol

By Kris Lindsey MPH, RD, LD

Kris Lindsey

The American Heart Association reports that more than 35 million Americans have high cholesterol — for most people, that means over 200 mg/dL — a major health risk. That's why the National Cholesterol Education Program suggests that all adults over 20 have their cholesterol profiled once every five years in a test called a fasting lipoprotein profile. But take heart: what you choose to eat (and not eat) can play a major role in preventing or controlling your cholesterol levels.

Do I really need a fasting lipoprotein profile? My cholesterol was checked at work.
Cholesterol screenings are often provided at health fairs or worksite wellness programs and can provide information on total cholesterol and sometimes HDL (good) cholesterol. But screenings tell only part of your cholesterol story. Fasting lipoprotein profiles measure levels of LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.

What's the difference between good and bad cholesterol?
These terms actually refer to the lipoproteins that transport cholesterol in our blood to our cells. When too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) circulates in the blood, it can build up on the inner walls of arteries and lead to the formation of dangerous plaque — hence the term bad cholesterol. Conversely, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is thought to transport excess blood cholesterol to our liver for our body to excrete — earning the term good cholesterol.

How do I know if my cholesterol is high?
Ideally, your total cholesterol is less than 200 mg/dL. HDL should be at least 50 mg/dL for men and at least 60 mg/dL for women, LDL less than 100 mg/dL, and triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL. However, to get the best cholesterol evaluation and course of action, have your doctor consider all your lab values together with your age, gender, weight, genetics, current diet/lifestyle, and other health conditions.

So what should I eat (or not eat) to keep my cholesterol in check?
Current research suggests that the types of fats on our plate are more important than the total amount of fat eaten. That being said, it is important to consume on average only the number of calories our body needs daily to maintain a healthy weight. Visit mypyramid.gov to get a customized food guide, including guidance on daily calories.

Which types of fat are unhealthy?
Too much saturated fat and cholesterol will raise LDL cholesterol. When shopping, use our Hannaford Guiding Stars symbols to select lean versions of meat, poultry, and dairy products. At home, trim or remove excess visible fat and skin from meat and poultry. Minimize fat by broiling, roasting, or baking and discard rendered fat. Replace egg yolks with egg whites to cut out more cholesterol. Saturated fats also come from some plants (look for these ingredients: palm oil, palm kernel oil, coconut oils, and cocoa butter). Missing cheese? Try Cabot's 50 percent and 75 percent reduced-fat Cheddar bars.

Trans fat delivers a double whammy by not only raising LDL cholesterol but also decreasing HDL cholesterol. Fortunately, manufacturers have removed a great deal of trans fat from products. However, to avoid consuming too much "trace" trans fat, scan ingredient lists for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and vegetable shortening in processed foods. U.S. labeling laws currently allow manufacturers to list zero grams of trans fat if the amount is less than 0.5 grams per serving. We should all aim for 0 (best) to 2 grams daily.

What about butter or margarine?
Look for stick and tub margarine with low saturated fat and zero trans fat.

So some fats are healthy?
Yes! Unsaturated liquid vegetable oils, like olive and canola, provide cholesterol-lowering benefits. Also, omega-3-rich foods can decrease triglycerides and slow the growth rate of plaques in your arteries. Some ground flaxseed in your oatmeal, a handful of nuts (especially walnuts) for a snack, or salmon for dinner are all ways to get your daily dose. Our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, so we need to eat them. Worried you don't eat enough? Consult your doctor about taking a fish oil or vegetarian omega-3 supplement.

Can other foods help lower my cholesterol?
Yes. Some studies have shown a 2g daily intake of plant stanols/sterols may reduce LDL cholesterol if eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet — they appear in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains and are available in specially fortified spreads, orange juice, granola bars, and cereals. Foods high in soluble fiber can help, such as oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and apple pulp. Although some studies have suggested that components in red wine may be associated with a reduced rate of mortality due to heart disease, alcohol consumption is not a recommended therapy because of the potential negative effects.

Anything else?
Exercise, and don't smoke! With the consent of your doctor, start slowly and work toward 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most days by doing activities such as walking, jogging, gardening, and biking.

Winning Recipe: Rack of Wild boar and Braised Cheek

Jaime Ortiz.jpg

By Jaime Ortiz

Caramelized Squash, Bacon and Goat Cheese Hash, crisp fried Polenta Cakes over Creamy Herbed Grits, young French green beans and Thumbelina carrots, chanterelle mushrooms and a Boar Stock Reduction combine in this impressive winning recipe.

Serves 4

1 32 oz. boar rack frenched, submerged in 2 C game brine for 24 hrs (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 cups game brine (recipe follows)
1 cup Squash, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Hash (recipe follows)
4 1-inch cubes of Stiff Polenta Cakes (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup Creamy Herbed Grits (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp. butter
20 pcs. baby French green beans snipped, blanched, and ice bathed
4 baby Thumbelina carrots with 1 inch top stem (steamed and peeled)
truffle salt to taste
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter
1/4 lb. chanterelle mushrooms
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp. shallots minced
1/2 tsp. garlic minced
4 Braised Boar Cheeks (recipe follows)
1/4 cup finished braising sauce 6 Tbsp. Boar Stock Reduction (recipe follows) 4 Tbsp. Chanterelle Cream (recipe follows)

1. Remove boar rack from brine and pat dry.
2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
3. Heat butter in a large sauté pan and brown the boar rack on all sides until a dark crust forms.
4. Place pan in oven and cook boar to an internal temperature of 135°F.
5. Let boar rest.
6. Meanwhile heat a medium sauté pan with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and 1 tsp of butter.
7. Cook chanterelle mushrooms over high heat until caramelized.
8. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme and cook for 2 minutes.
9. Remove from heat, remove and discard thyme sprig, and keep warm.
10. Heat the braising jus in a small pan with the veal cheeks.
11. When hot and boiling remove from heat and set aside to keep warm.
12. Heat 1 Tbsp. of butter each in 2 separate small sauté pans.
13. In one pan, add French beans and cook until hot, season with truffle salt.
14. In the other, add carrots (that have been quartered) and sugar and season with kosher salt and pepper.
15. Cook until sugar is dissolved and carrots are glazed.
16. In a small sauté pan heat the 1/4 c of canola oil.
17. Dredge the polenta squares in flour and fry until crisp on each side.
18. Remove them from the oil onto paper-towel-lined vessel and keep warm.
19. To serve warm the rack of boar and then cut slices according to the bones and their layout, 1 bone per cut.
20. Arrange some warm squash hash on the left side of the plate.
21. Lean 2 rack chops against the hash, crisscrossed.
22. Spoon 1 Tbsp. of chanterelle cream behind the rack.
23. Spoon 1 Tbsp. of boar stock reduction along the front of the boar rack.
24. On the right side of the plate spoon 1 Tbsp. of grits onto the plate.
25. Top each mound of grits with 1 square crispy polenta.
26. Top each polenta with a veal cheek and spoon braising sauce over the top.
27. Top each cheek with 2–3 chanterelle mushrooms.
28. Lean 5 French beans against the right side of the boar chops.
29. Arrange the hot carrot quarters around the boar chops and serve.

Game Brine
4 cups water
2 oz. salt
1.5 oz. sugar
10 juniper berries
10 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
1 cinnamon stick

1. Bring all ingredients to a boil.
2. Strain into a container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Squash, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Hash
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and small diced
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 strips bacon cut into thin strips
1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 oz. goat cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Toss squash with honey and salt and pepper to taste in a mixing bowl.
2. Oil a small sheet pan with the olive oil and spread the squash onto the sheet pan.
3. Roast in an oven at 400°F until lightly browned.
4. Remove from oven and set aside.
5. Heat bacon in a nonstick pan over low heat.
6. Cook bacon until crisp.
7. Using a slotted spoon, remove the crisp bacon from pan leaving the bacon fat behind.
8. Set the crisp bacon aside for a moment.
9. Return pan to stove and add the squash to the pan.
10. Cook squash until caramelized and fully cooked.
11. Add shallots and cook until shallots are cooked.
12. Add brown sugar and cook 1 minute.
13. Add bacon back and remove to a mixing bowl.
14. Add chives and goat cheese and keep warm until ready to serve.

Polenta Cakes
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
11/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp parsley, chopped fine

1. Heat chicken stock until boiling.
2. Whisking vigorously, add cornmeal to the stock.
3. Let simmer 1 minute.
4. Whisk together cream and cornstarch until combined and smooth.
5. Quickly whisk the cream mixture into the polenta and let boil.
6. Once boiled, it will seize into a stiff mixture.
7. Whisk in the butter, cheese, and parsley until fully incorporated.
8. Line a small, 4–5 inch square vessel with plastic wrap and pour in the polenta.
9. Make sure the polenta doesn't go any thicker than 1 1/2 inches.
10. Place in a refrigerator and cool until firm, then remove from cooler and turn onto a cutting board.
11. Remove plastic wrap and using a knife or cookie cutter cut into desired shape and size.
12. Set aside until ready to fry for the dish.

Creamy Herbed Grits
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup hominy grits
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. chives, chopped fine
1 tsp. parsley, chopped fine

1. Bring chicken stock to a boil.
2. Whisking vigorously add grits to stock.
3. Let simmer 5 minutes.
4. Add cream and let simmer 3 more minutes.
5. Stir in remaining ingredients and let sit warm and covered until ready to use.

Braised Veal Cheeks
8 pieces (3–4 oz) boar or pig cheeks, trimmed of excess fat and sinew
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup celery, small dice
1/4 cup carrot, small dice
1/2 cup white onion, small dice
1 tsp. garlic, minced
6 peppadew peppers
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 pint Boar Stock (recipe follows)
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
pepper to taste

1. In a braising pot heat canola oil.
2. Season cheeks with salt and pepper and brown in canola oil until dark brown.
3. Remove from heat and add celery, carrots, and onion and cook until well caramelized.
4. Add garlic and cook 4 minutes.
5. Add tomato paste and cook 2 minutes.
6. Add peppadews, wine, and vinegar and cook for 3 minutes.
7. Add boar stock, bay leaf, and thyme and bring to a simmer.
8. Cover and place in a 300 degree oven for 2 hours.
9. Remove from oven and carefully remove the cheeks from the braising liquid.
10. Purée the braising liquid and strain until smooth.
11. Set cheeks aside and reserve the braising liquid until ready to heat and plate.

Boar Stock Reduction
Stock
8 lbs. boar bones (or pig bones)
2 lbs. pig trotters
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 large onions, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic
10 black peppercorns, whole
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs thyme
3 gal. water

Reduction
1 cup white onion, small dice
1/2 cup carrots, small dice
1/2 cup celery, small dice
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Place boar bones in a roasting pan and bake until dark brown.
3. Smother bones in tomato paste and cook until tomato paste begins to caramelize.
4. Remove roasting pan from oven and place on stove over medium high flame.
5. Transfer bones to a deep 5 gallon stock pot.
6. Add wine to the roasting pan using a wooden spoon to deglaze and pick up all the brown bits.
7. Pour wine and drippings into the stock pot.
8. Add water and bring to a boil.
9. Simmer for 2 hours, skimming the coagulated proteins off of the top every 20 minutes with a ladle.
10. Add trotters, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, black pepper, and thyme.
11. Simmer for 1 hour, skimming often.
12. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer, chill and reserve.
13. When ready to make the reduction, cook stock over medium high heat until reduced by half.
14. Add the onion, celery, carrots, bay leaf, thyme, and tomato paste and cook until reduced to the point where it coats the back of a spoon.
15. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
16. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and reserve until ready to use.

Chanterelle Mushroom Cream
2 strips bacon, chopped small
2 tsp. butter
1 lb. chanterelle mushrooms or stems
1/2 cup white onion, small dice
1/2 cup carrot, small dice
1/2 cup celery, small dice
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. shallots, minced
1/4 cup sherry wine
1 cup boar stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. thyme chopped fine

1. In a nonstick pan, render bacon over medium heat until crisp.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer crisp bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate.
3. Add butter to the remaining bacon fat and cook mushrooms over medium high heat.
4. Cook mushrooms until browned and well caramelized.
5. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and shallots and cook until lightly caramelized.
6. Add sherry and cook 1 minute.
7. Add boar stock and cook until reduced by half.
8. Add cream and cook until reduced by half.
9. Add thyme and remove from heat.
10. Purée sauce with an immersion blender or carefully in a regular blender.
11. Strain sauce through a medium mesh strainer.
12. Season and reserve until ready to use.

 

Calculate your carbon footprint

The website www.carbonfootprint.com helps you figure out the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases you generate each year. You'll need to answer a wide range of questions that might make you think twice about your everyday habits, like how often you drive (and fly), the kinds of foods you eat, how often you buy new clothes, whether you buy products with packaging, and how often you buy tech products.

 

fresh magazine web exclusive fresh magazine web–exclusives Mar–Apr 2011

 

Interview with Jim Amaral of Borealis Breads

Jim Amaral

Sometimes called “the staff of life”, bread is a food that’s basic to every culture – but that doesn’t mean it has to be ordinary. Shoppers in our stores love the variety of fresh–baked breads we offer, including the artisanal choices from our Close to Home providers. Our customers in Maine and New Hampshire rave about the delicious, hearty, loaves from Borealis Breads of Wells, Maine. Borealis makes all–natural breads using Maine–grown wheat and other local products. We spoke with Jim Amaral, founder and president of Borealis, to find out what it takes to make good bread, and why he believes in supporting local producers.

– David Plunkett

What are some of the varieties you produce?
We bake a multigrain, Italian, rye with caraway seeds, French peasant, baguette. Our Aroostook bread uses Maine–grown wheat, and we’ve introduced a seasonal pumpkin–raisin, which is a fairly unusual combination – there’s nothing quite like it on the market. It’s great for toasting, and also for French toast. All our breads are presliced except for the baguettes. The multigrain and French peasant are probably our two most popular.

How important is using local ingredients in your breads?
We’ve been working with local farmers for 10 years. That’s something that distinguishes our bakery, and it ties in with people’s interest in supporting local producers and small farmers. Using locally grown wheat, like we do in some of our breads, is something that hadn’t happened in New England since the 19th century. In general, one thing customers like about our bread is that it’s all natural, with no preservatives. They have no added dairy products or eggs. Looking at the health aspects of eating breads, these are great. And all are suitable for vegetarian and some are suitable for vegan diets. We also make all our own deliveries, to more than 25 Hannaford stores in Maine and New Hampshire. The focus is on delivering fresh bread locally produced with local ingredients. We appreciate that Hannaford is helping us sell a great local product.

Who supplies your Maine–grown wheat?
Aurora Mills in Aroostook County, on the Canadian border. Matt Williams at Aurora grows grain and mills it, and he also has a number of other farmers shipping him grain to mill. It’s created a market opportunity for him because he mills grain from several growers for us. The nice thing about local wheat is that we know exactly what kind it is. We’re able to choose varieties to our specifications. Working with a local miller means we get to bake with freshly milled flour that is delivered on a timely basis as we need it. The result is flour that has better taste and nutritional value than if we ordered from a commercial wholesaler supplying Midwestern wheat.

Do you have any interesting new offerings?
One winter seasonal bread we do is a Maine potato. It’s unique for us because all our other breads (except the baguette) are made with sourdough starter. Potato bread is a little different. We throw everything in – the peel, the potato water – so it’s got a great potato flavor. It has a very soft crumb, and because of the potatoes it keeps well on the shelf – it doesn’t go stale as fast.

Do you have any recommended preparations using Borealis breads?
Sandwiches are good with our sliced breads. If you’re having a party, flavorful fresh bread like this really bumps up the quality of your sandwiches. In terms of fillings, the nice thing about these breads is you can put in any kind of wet filling –chutney, relish – and these hold up well. If you’re grilling a sandwich, or just a grilled cheese, these hold up. Also, there’s a big focus nowadays on getting kids to eat healthier. Kids like these breads because they have a lot of flavor, and a nice chewy texture. Parents tell me all the time that the kids ask to bring the breads home. This is the healthiest choice you’ll find for lunchbox meals.

Smooth yet Spicy

AgaveAgave is a native Mexican plant that resembles yucca or aloe vera. It may be best known as the source of tequila, but agave also yields another tasty liquid: agave syrup, sometimes called agave nectar, is a simple, natural sweetener.

Because it is a real sugar and not an artificial sweetener, agave syrup can be used as a sugar substitute in cooking and baking. It has the same properties as regular white or brown sugar, which is important in caramelizing and browning – things artificial sweeteners cannot do. Agave syrup isn’t just good in the kitchen – it’s good for you. Agave syrup has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar, making it a healthier option.

Agave syrup is made by extracting sap from the heart of the agave plant, filtering it, and then heating it at a low temperature until the carbohydrates have been converted into simple sugars. These sugars are a form of fructose called inulin, the same sugars found in fruit and vegetables.

With a consistency that’s slightly thinner than honey, agave syrup is easy to pour and measure. The taste is also similar to that of honey, but not as strong and without the aftertaste honey sometimes has. In fact, in Mexico, where the agave plant is most often harvested, agave syrup is known as aguamiel, or “honey water.”

While some brands offer a variety of flavored agave syrups, there are two basic types: light and dark. Light syrups are filtered more and heated less, resulting in a more neutral flavor that’s great for sweetening coffee, tea (hot or cold), cereals, and other foods. The neutral flavors of lighter syrups are also good for cooking and baking. The dark syrups are filtered less, producing a more robust flavor, with a taste and consistency similar to maple syrup.

Agave Syrup Fun Facts:

  • The Aztecs used a mixture of agave nectar and salt as a balm for skin infections.
  • Agave syrup is about 40 percent sweeter than white or brown sugar.
  • Agave syrup is completely vegan. The syrup is refined without using any bone–based charcoal.
  • Agave syrup, while similar to honey, will not crystallize or harden the way honey often does while being stored, making it easy to store and use.
  • Agave syrup is safe for children of any age.


– Tura Linderholm

Spring Desserts

Superfine Sugar Cake Flour Basics
Superfine sugar is easier to incorporate into the egg whites and allows for a lighter–textured cake. Look for it in the Baking aisle. You can also make superfine sugar at home by placing regular white sugar in the food processor and processing for thirty seconds. Cake flour is also available in the Baking aisle. To make homemade cake flour, remove 2 Tbsp. from 1 cup all–purpose flour and replace it with 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and mix.

Tart Pans vs. Pie Pans
A tart pan generally has straight sides. Round is most common, but there are also square and rectangular tart pans. Some metal pans have a removable bottom, so it’s easy to separate the tart from the pan and achieve an elegant presentation. When you remove the sides of the pan shortly after taking the tart from the oven, the pastry shell cools more quickly, preventing condensation buildup and the possibility of a soggy crust. Pie pans have slightly higher, slanted sides and do not have removable bottoms.

Once viewed as an exotic delicacy by most Americans, sushi has broken through to mainstream popularity over the past couple of decades. But these meticulously prepared tidbits still make for a festive, delicious, and healthy meal that can make any occasion special. Many of our stores have a sushi bar, which makes it easy for you to enjoy flavorful sushi at home. We spoke with Masa Ichikawa, who oversees the expert sushi chefs in our stores, to learn more about what goes inside those delicious rolls and get some tips for shoppers who want to make their own at home.

– David Plunkett

fresh magazine web exclusive fresh magazine web–exclusives Jan–Feb 2011

 

Interview with Sushi Master Masa Ichikawa

Masa Ichikawa

Once viewed as an exotic delicacy by most Americans, sushi has broken through to mainstream popularity over the past couple of decades. But these meticulously prepared tidbits still make for a festive, delicious, and healthy meal that can make any occasion special. Many of our stores have a sushi bar, which makes it easy for you to enjoy flavorful sushi at home. We spoke with Masa Ichikawa, who oversees the expert sushi chefs in our stores, to learn more about what goes inside those delicious rolls and get some tips for shoppers who want to make their own at home.
– David Plunkett

Can people safely prepare raw fish at home for sushi?
Yes, but it depends on the quality and grade of the raw fish. Sashimi grade is what you need for sushi. All the fish we sell for sushi are frozen for a minimum of seven days to ensure quality. We only use suppliers who can create the right conditions.

What types of fish are good for making sushi at home?
Tuna, salmon, and shrimp are the most popular, but others are good to try. We also carry barbecued eel, which is very popular in Japan. Yellowtail, snapper, and fish roe are all good too.

What do people need besides the fish?
Seaweed for wrapping. Sushi rice – short–grain rice is the best. Cucumber and avocado are good. Sushi vinegar for seasoning. And wasabi and ginger for the side. We sell a sushi kit in a box at Hannaford that includes everything, with instructions. Besides seaweed, we also can use a rice paper for wrapping.

What special knives or other tools do people need?
You need a sharp knife and a bamboo mat. Any sharp knife is fine. Most people use a mat to roll the sushi.

Do you have recommendations for vegetarian sushi?
We have a special vegetable–only sushi. Usually we include carrot, cucumber, and avocado. That is the most popular combination, and it’s easy to do at home.

Are there good condiments besides wasabi and ginger?
Scallion is good to give it some punch. You can also use a spicy sauce, or even mayonnaise.

Any suggestions for things people can try that they won’t find at a sushi restaurant?
You can choose whatever you want, such as sausage, corn, or other Western food products. I recommend hand–rolled sushi. If you invite some friends and do hand–rolled sushi, people choose whatever they want – that way, if someone doesn’t like cucumber, they can make a California roll their way.

What’s the difference between hand–rolled sushi and regular?
A regular sushi roll is made using a bamboo mat to roll it. We usually see this product at a restaurant sushi bar. Anybody can do a hand–rolled sushi. No special technique is necessary. You put rice on top of seaweed, place your favorite ingredient on top of the rice, roll it, and eat.

Is there any special technique for preparing sushi rice?
When you mix sushi rice and vinegar, you’ll want to avoid mashing up the rice with a spatula. We use the side part of the spatula to mix the rice. This movement looks like cutting the rice rather than mixing it. If the rice gets mashed, it becomes sticky, like a rice cake, and loses its texture. Each rice grain should be coated by vinegar, and grains should easily separate from each other.

Do you have to buy the fish for homemade sushi the same day you make it? Or how long can you keep the fish at home before making the sushi?
If you buy frozen fish, keep the fish under 41°F when defrosting. You should use the fish within two days after defrosting. Take time to defrost fish in the refrigerator to enjoy better taste – keeping the fish in a fridge overnight is better than microwave defrosting. If you buy defrosted or fresh fish, ask a store employee how soon you should consume it.

Are there any safety precautions people should take when making sushi?
As with any kind of food preparation, always wash your hands. Vegetables and fish should be prepared with different knives and cutting boards to avoid cross–contamination and allergy issues.

What are some good fish–veggie combos?
Minced fatty tuna with chopped green onions is popular in Japan. The combination of oily fish and the pungent taste of green onion is very good. Or smoked salmon and thin–sliced onion is a good one for Western tastes.

Pick a Papaya

Papaya

Sweet, pear–shaped papayas deliver a healthy taste of the tropics in midwinter – or any time. Sunny yellow, yellow–green, or reddish–orange on the outside and orange on the inside, with edible peppery black seeds, colorful papayas earn “Gold Medal“ status on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s list of Fantastic Fruits. Enjoy them much like a melon, or slice and dice for recipes like Shrimp Papaya Salad with Vanilla Vinaigrette.

Sometimes mistakenly called pawpaws, papayas are widely enjoyed in tropical and subtropical countries, where they grow plentifully, and the regional folklore celebrates the health benefits of this nutritious fruit. As one legend has it, when Christopher Columbus and his crew first arrived in the New World, they gorged themselves on too many local delicacies. After a papaya relieved the explorer’s indigestion, Columbus supposedly pronounced it “fruit of the angels.“ Sure enough, papayas contain papain, an enzyme that’s used today in digestive dietary supplements.

Papayas also contain several other digestive enzymes and antioxidants that have been shown to reduce inflammation, which can aggravate conditions like arthritis and asthma. Fiber–rich papayas promote digestive health, and the folate, beta–carotene, and vitamins C and E in the fruit have all been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. Add the fruit’s vitamin A to these powerful antioxidants, and you have a combination that may help prevent heart and circulatory disease.

Choosing – and Using – Papayas

Ripe papayas have the most antioxidants, so look for fruits that are slightly soft and no longer green (unripe papayas aren’t eaten raw, but cooked green papayas are popular in Asian cuisine). If they have patches of color, give the papayas a few days to ripen. Store ripe papayas in the fridge and enjoy them within a couple of days. Papayas are also available as frozen slices or canned chunks. Here are some ideas:

  • Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice over a seeded papaya half and scoop it with a spoon or melon baller, or slice into wedges or cubes
  • Mix with other fruits in salads
  • Blend with yogurt and berries for a super smoothie
  • Add peppers and cilantro to make a tasty salsa
  • Season and bake a ripe papaya for a unique side dish
  • Freeze sweetened cubed papaya for dessert
  • Preserve in jams and chutneys
  • Pickle for a tasty condiment
  • Serve papaya juice and nectar as refreshing drinks
  • Blend the peppery seeds into salad dressings and sauces


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