Smoked Paprika Almonds

Win a Bag of Gary & Kit’s Smoked Paprika Almonds!

They come in three flavors–Sun-Dried Berry and Cherries with Roasted Almonds; Roasted Pistachios and Almonds Tossed with Rosemary; and Smoked Paprika Almonds–each made specifically to pair with one of their wines. You can’t get much easier for hors d’oeuvres or a cocktail party.

I especially like these Smoked Paprika Almonds. They’d be delicious served with a slice of Manchego, or chopped up and pressed into a log of goat cheese. Or, ooohhh, with chocolate. But I have a hard time saving them for anything but eating out of hand.

So here’s the deal. Normally, I’ll have a link here where you can go to the Weekly Giveaway group forum and sign up to win. But we’re having a bit of a glitch setting up new forums at the moment, so just leave a comment here to be entered to win (important: be sure you’re signed in to NOURISH Evolution so we can find you … or sign up, if you haven’t already–only members are eligible to win).

I’ll announce the winner in next Friday’s Friday Digest!

Good luck!

(NOTE: This contest is now closed)

Salted Pistachio Brittle

Traditional brittle recipes call for corn syrup, but we’re not exactly fans of the stuff. Agave nectar makes a good substitute. Since it’s twice as sweet as corn syrup, you can use half as much in this recipe, adapted from Chef Guy Reuge of Three Village Inn in Stony Brook, New York. You can use different nuts or seeds and add a dash of spice (Reuge’s original version uses pumpkinseeds and cumin with delicious results). Here’s your chemistry lesson for the day: baking soda is the key ingredient that gives brittle its characteristic snap. Our version uses pistachios and coarse sea salt for a salty-sweet treat that’s delicious on its own or crumbled over ice cream or our Chai-Spiced Amaranth Pudding.


NN at NABJ Conference!

We’re so excited! NOURISH Evolution will be on the panel for the “Food for Thought” workshop on Thursday at the National Association of Black Journalists’ annual convention in San Diego. Catch our editorial director Alison Ashton as she and other journalism pros discuss the many ways in which food and health issues make front-page news, and the need for journalists of color to report on the food stories in the African-American community.

Love is a Bowl of Sweet Cherries: A Primer

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I love cherries. Favorite yogurt flavor? Cherry vanilla. Favorite Starburst? You guessed it. So when, at the farmers market yesterday, the man with the cherries kept offering me deals, I happily obliged and arrived home with three—count ‘em, three—pints of cherries. That’s a pint per person in my household. (Just for the record … Noemi was no help. She’d already polished off a pint of strawberries, an apricot and a plum and was totally egging me on with the cherries. And we’d been at the market no more than ten minutes.)

Cherries are actually a tiny stone fruit, of the same family as plums and peaches and even almonds. They’ve been cultivated around the Mediterranean region for over 2,000 years; probably as prized then as they are now for their thin skin, luscious bite and full, sweet flavor. They’re also a good source of both vitamin C and lutein, so they’re beauty’s more than skin deep. Here are three sweet types to try:

Bing Cherries – Bing cherries are the ubiquitous plump, blackish-red variety. They’re firm and plump and burst with a ridiculous amount of flavor for such a tiny fruit. Seek out ones that are dark and firm, without brown spots or blemishes and eat them out of hand or, if you can keep them around, use in the sorbet below.

Oxheart Cherries – I had a funny introduction to Oxhearts; a description given to sweet red cherries with a distinctive heart shape. We have a tree growing next to our driveway that began bearing heart-shaped red fruit. Christopher didn’t want me to eat them (he was convinced they were some exotic poisonous fruit), but then a friend identified them as Oxheart cherries and I forged forth. My reward was a tender, super-juicy fruit with an intense flavor not unlike a Bing. And it had been right there under my nose all along.

Rainier Cherries –  Rainiers, pioneered at Washington State University in 1952, are gorgeous. I think they look a bit like oversized red currants … or as if the sun were shining from within a Bing. Rainers’ rosy skin encloses sweet golden flesh with a slightly more subtle flavor than its red counterparts. They’re fun to experiment with, but also fussy on the tree and priced at a premium.

So live it up with a bowl of cherries while you still can this summer!

Cherry-Basil Buttermilk Sherbet

This sherbet is like summer in a bowl: light, refreshing, sweet and perfumed with the quintessential summer herb (which has a surprising affinity for cherries). It’s also ridiculously simple to make. It can get icy when frozen too hard, so eat it fresh from the ice cream maker or leave it on the counter to soften a bit if pulling it from the freezer. And here’s a little food trivia for you: Did you know that sherbet goes back to the Middle Eastern fruit-juice-and-water drink charbet? It has evolved into a dessert that’s lighter than ice cream — though in this case, low-fat buttermilk lends it a rich, tangy note.


VIDEO: Sourcing Sustainable Seafood

Lia talks with Spencer and Janelle about sourcing sustainable seafood (and cooks up our tasty Curried Mussels) on ABC’s View from the Bay. Watch this video to discover how easy it is to cook mussels — and what you should ask the folks at the fish counter.

Salmon Terroir

I’ve been eating a lot of salmon lately. When the first catch from Copper River came in, I couldn’t resist jumping on the bandwagon. Then I discovered Taku River Sockeye at my local market. And Dave, my fish guy at the farmers market, has had a run of king salmon from Washington that’s so buttery rich I practically gobble it up before it hits the grill.

Up until a couple of years ago though, salmon was salmon was salmon to me; some better than others, of course, but it was hit or miss as to why. And then I visited Cordova, Alaska on the Copper River Delta and had an enlightening talk with local fisherman Bill Webber.

Bill said that Copper River salmon have a certain quality to them because of the heavy sediment in the river and I said, “you mean like terroir?” He gave me a funny look and I explained that the term meant a certain ephemeral quality imparted on a wine by the place the grapes were grown. Somewhere during my explanation Bill’s head began to bob in agreement and, voila, my salmon-wine analogy was born.

1) There are “varietals” of salmon. For those of you who are fishermen, forgive me. But I really had no idea there were different types of salmon all swimming around in one place. I thought, conveniently, that one type existed in Alaska, another in California, and yet another in the Atlantic. Yet lo and behold, I come to find there are five species—King (Chinook), Sockeye (Red), Coho (Silver), Keta (Chum) and Pink (there are also Steelhead, often referred to as Rainbow Trout, and Atlantic Salmon, which is no longer wild here in the U.S.). These are like the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrahs and such of the salmon world, each one with its own inherent set of qualities common amongst the species.

2) Terroir exists in fish too. As I mentioned, Bill—and several other people from fishermen to cannery-men to chefs—talked about the unique quality of Copper River salmon, and that began to make a lot more sense to me when I flew over the river and saw it spreading like a spilt latte into the delta. The mineral-rich brew and high headwaters here gives the fish a succulent flavor and silken texture that not all salmon possess. However, as with grapes, this isn’t necessarily a “good” or “bad” scenario . . . it’s simply a unique taste and texture that reflects the place it’s from.

3) There are “appellations” in the fishing industry too. When Bill was explaining the various associations and labels to me, yet another parallel became clear: salmon displays terroir too. I began thinking of Alaska salmon as the equivalent of “California wine.” A bit tighter geographic area and I had the “Sonoma County” equivalent of the Prince Williams Sound area around Cordova. The particular appellation of Copper River would be akin to Alexander Valley or Dry Creek Valley here in Healdsburg. That was a revelation for me.

So while we’re at the peak of salmon season, try several different “varietals” (from either Washington or Alaska, since California and Oregon are under a voluntary hiatus to let stocks replenish) and see which ones you prefer. If you want to talk about what kind of wine to sip with your salmon … you’ll have to ask my husband.

Cold Salmon Sandwich with Lemon-Caper Mayo

Buy a little extra salmon the next time you’re fillet-shopping and cook it all up at once. The next day, pair the cold leftover fish with a hit of lemon-spiked mayo and briny capers for a fancy-looking salmon sandwich that’s  perfect lunch for one.


Dukka Mix

I tasted this on a mad rush through the farmers market this weekend and am glad I did. Dukka is a Middle Eastern spice blend of nuts and seeds, and these guys include local fennel in theirs (of which I’m a big fan … I’m known for pulling off on the side of the road and snipping fennel heads for dinner). If you’re local to Healdsburg, you can get it at the farmers market or Big John’s. If not, you can order here.