Archive for June, 2012

Roasted Artichokes with Mayo-Free, Gluten-Free Melt® Dipping Sauce!

Friday, June 29th, 2012

“Life is like eating artichokes, you have to go through so much to get so little.” – Thomas Aloysius Dorgan

. . . or you go through so much to experience SO MUCH MORE!

We are in the middle of artichoke season; what better way to enjoy this delicious food than with Rich & Creamy Melt® Organic Spread?

Ingredients:

1-2 gorgeous artichokes

1 bay leaf

1 lemon

2 garlic cloves

~½ cup total Melt® Organic Spread

4-5 Capers, rinsed in cold water, mashed with fork (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking the Artichoke:

1. Optional: If you are worried about a prickly artichoke, you can cut off the thorns using kitchen scissors.

2. Slice ¾ to 1 inch off of the top of the artichoke.

3. Cut off excess stem so there is no more than 1 inch length left. If you don’t have much stem, then slice off enough so the stem cutting is “fresh.”

4. Slice the artichoke soundly in half lengthwise.

5. Rinse the artichoke halves in cold water.

6. Place your steamer insert into a large pot that has a snug lid (I like using a soup pot) and fill with water to just below the level of your steamer insert. Add the bay leaf, one garlic clove and a slice of lemon to rest on the steamer insert.

7. Add artichokes to the pot, bring water to a boil, and steam the artichoke halves on medium to low-medium heat for 40 minutes, covered snugly with a lid.

8. Towards the end of the steaming, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

9. Remove the artichokes from the steamer, discard the garlic, bay leaf, and lemon slice, and peel off the tiny, tough, meatless outer leaves of the artichoke.

10. Schmear a generous spoonful of Melt on the open faces of the artichoke halves, being sure to spread it on the entire surface of the open face. To really double down, you can stuff small pats of Melt® in between the larger outer leaves.

11. Place face-down on a cooking sheet. Cover the artichoke halves with foil to prevent them from losing moisture.

12. Place in oven and roast artichokes for 25-30 minutes.

13. Remove from oven, and get ready to enjoy! Your artichokes should be nice and golden brown on the open face, but the leaves still full of moisture. Now take a spoon, remove the inedible fuzzy part from the hearts. I also remove many of the inside purple petal leaves since they have no artichoke meat. This step can be done after the artichokes are steamed, but I wait until after they are roasted in order to keep it as moist as possible.

Making Mayo-Free, Gluten-Free Melt® Organic Dipping Sauce:

How much Melt dipping sauce is needed depends on how many artichokes you cook along with how glutinous you are. Personally, I find that more is more, so I err to the generous side.

Side note: This Melt dipping sauce is excellent for more than just artichokes; it is delectable with crab, lobster, clams, shrimp . . .

1. Gently melt ¼ cup of Rich & Creamy Melt® Organic Spread in a sauce pan over low heat or microwave for 15 seconds, or until Melt® is just barely liquefied and still opaque – whisk/stir with a fork to complete the liquefaction instead of heating it longer. This will keep the dipping sauce a little “thicker” instead of a little “thinner”.

2. Turn off the heat.

3. Add 1 clove of freshly crushed garlic and whisk/stir it in with a fork so the garlic oil diffuses into the Melt.

4. Add fresh lemon juice to taste, starting with 1 teaspoon and working up to 2 teaspoons depending on how you like it (approximately ¼ to ½ of a lemon).

5. Optional: rinse off 4-5 capers under cold water, mash with fork (I use my thumb and fore finger); add to the dipping sauce and whisk with a fork.

6. Peel off the leaves, starting from the outer layers and working in; dip the base of the artichoke leaf into the Melt® dipping sauce, saving the heart for last…

Buon appetito!

How to Make Traditional Korean Kimchi

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

What do fermented foods and Melt® Organic buttery spreads have in common? They make me feel GREAT from the inside-out, but for very different nutritional reasons. Fermenting (pickling) foods brings out the wondrous child within me. I love watching sauerkraut transform from raw, shredded cabbage to a tangy probiotic superfood full of complexity and character.

I have used Kitchen Wench Ellie Won’s recipe and techniques below, with personal interpretation added. Thank you Kitchen Wench!

There must be a thousand ways to make kimchi, with variations that include using dried shrimp, bok choy instead of Napa cabbage, carrot, and many others, but a few standard concepts seem to filter out:

1. Korean chili powder (gochugaru) CANNOT be replaced with hot chili flakes. Gochugaru peppers are far less spicy than our red pepper flakes with a much brighter color. Much higher quantities of gochugaru are used than hot chili flakes. Because gochugaru lacks some of the palate-numbing capsaicin, the true flavor of the chilies shines with a brightness, richness, fruitiness and robustness all at the same time.  To summarize: it is not traditional kimchi if it doesn’t have gochugaru and so it’s worth the effort to obtain it. If you do not have an Asian market in your area you can order it online very easily from Amazon.com.

2. Fish sauce is essential for both the traditional flavor and, I suspect, as the innoculant for fermentation. It’s the secret ingredient that makes Thai curries so amazing and delicious. Fish sauce is available in most grocery stores.

3. The target flavor profile is tangy, spicy, and slightly sweet.

Ingredients and Instructions

(adapted from Ellie Won)

1 large head Napa cabbage, or 2 smaller heads (I used about 3 lbs)

1 ½ cups salt

1 cup Korean chili powder (gochugaru), not hot chili flakes

1 rounded tbsp rice starch powder (I used tapioca starch powder with success – this is the only substitution I made)

½ cup fish sauce

2 tbsp white sugar

6 spring onions/scallions, washed and sliced on an angle into slices about 1-2” long

5 cloves garlic, crushed

1 knob ginger, peeled

¼ nashi/Asian pear, cored and peeled

¼ brown onion, peeled

~ ½ lb white/Chinese radish, long and white not small, round and pink-tinged, peeled

***1 pair latex gloves***

DSCF0498

  • Clean and sanitize kitchen surfaces; the cleaner your environment the better. Clean and sanitize the equipment (fermentation jar, weights) to ensure the absence of pathogenic bacteria. Be sure to rinse off the equipment after sanitizing it so doesn’t kill off the beneficial bacteria needed for fermentation.
  • Cut cabbage into quarters, and carve most of the core out. You want to keep enough of the core intact so the leaves are still attached. This is important for later steps.
  • Combine about 1 quart of water with ½ cup salt into a large bowl and plunge the cabbage quarters one at a time. I used a little boiling water to dissolve the salt first, then added cold water to achieve a luke warm temperature. Carefully separate the leaves of each cabbage segment layer by layer; make sure that you get the salted water right to the base of the leaves. This is also a good time to check for debris.
  • Drain the water from the cabbage segments. With the cabbage segment on its back (outer leaves on the counter), gently separate the leaves layer by layer and flick a light layer of salt over each leave with special care to get more salt towards the thick, white base rather than the green leafy end. The motion is similar to spreading flour on the counter before rolling out pie crust. Only use the amount of salt that is needed to layer salt on all of the leaves – you are not under any obligation to use a full cup of salt; I ended up using a little more.
  • Place the cabbage leaves in a large bowl and leave covered for 4-6 hours or until the cabbage is floppy enough so that the leaves can be bend over, but still make a crisp “snapping” noise when snapped.
  • Rinse the wilted cabbage segments in clean water at least twice to remove salt, then squeeze as much water out of the cabbage as humanly possible (yes, squishing the cabbage is perfectly alright and it can take the abuse); leave the cabbage segments in a strainer for another 15-30 minutes to drain the last of the water out. ***If you are not careful to thoroughly rise the salt out of the cabbage segments, your kimchi will be a salty nightmare. I used my large mixing bowl to submerge the segments so I could thoroughly flush out the salt.***
  • The sauce can be made while you are waiting for the cabbage to wilt. I made mine while my cabbage was wilting so it could sit out on the counter (covered), which allowed the flavors to marry. Combine 1 heaping tbsp of glutinous rice powder with ½ cup water in a pot, stir vigorously and continuously over a low heat until the mixture has turned white and has a very thick consistency like rubber cement or glue. I used tapioca starch powder because that was all I could find and it worked very well. This was the only substitution I made to this recipe.
  • Let the rice powder glue cool down completely. While it is cooling down, use a food processor to blend the garlic, ginger, nashi/ Asian pear, brown onion, and diakon radish into a pulpy liquid. (Leave the scallions for now, they are added later and not included in this blend).
  • Once the rice powder glue is completely cool, stir in the chili powder (gochugaru), sugar, and fish sauce.
  • With latex gloves on (!), use your hands to combine all of the ingredients (scallions, chili/ fish sauce, and pear/daikon radish mix) in a mixing bowl until thoroughly mixed together.

  • Lay out the wrung out cabbage and coat the front and back of each and every leaf with this chili paste, making sure that each layer is well coated on the front and back, not missing any areas, bits, or pieces.
  • Once all of the cabbage has been thoroughly coated, press down the cabbage segments into an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place for 3 days to aid the fermentation process.  I like to use a gallon glass jar with an airlock, since I make sauerkraut regularly and it makes the sanitation of fermentation practically dummy proof; it also cuts down on the smell. Taste after 3 days and if the cabbage tastes tangy, soft but with some crunch and spice, then bottle up in mason jars and store in your refrigerator. These can be stored for up to 3 months if it lasts that long!

Side note: My kimchi fermented at the same temperature I ferment sauerkraut, between 68 to 72 degrees F for 3 days. You may have to experiment on the fermentation time that works for you. If it’s very warm, 24 hours may be all that it takes, if it’s cooler, then it will take longer. Some go for 5 days or even 10 days. You will have to experiment to see what tastes the best for you.

3 Days Later…
I just cracked open my vessel of bubbling kimchi… oh my, this is a wonderful success! It certainly isn’t bland, texture food like your mom or grandmom cooked to death: this kimchi is tangy, spicy, slightly sweet, with a very rich, robust flavor. I am eating it right now with steamed beans that my husband just cooked up. The kimchi makes a complex, flavorful, highly nutritious condiment on just about anything from steamed vegetables to refried rice to whatever your imagination can come up with. I definitely recommend this recipe. With experimentation you can perfect the amount of spiciness and tanginess that is just right for you and do your body a huge favor eating lacto-fermented foods. Bon Appetit!

Humble Beginnings

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Official survey results are in: Melt® Organic Spread is a huge hit with consumers! Over 52% surveyed saying they would definitely (18%) or probably (34%) buy the product (any score over 50% total is a “hit”). Despite the availability of other new butter and margarine alternatives, Melt is seen as very new and different and meets a growing, universal desire for healthier, everyday food options that taste amazing. Melt even has one of the highest word-of-mouth scores in the test database! Melt® On!

Back in the early days when I began to develop Melt® on my own, without a team, and with one consultant providing me with expertise, how do you think we conducted consumer research? On Facebook! Yes, I had just joined the social network giant and relied on my very generous friends as a sounding board for developing the brand name and getting feedback on prototype formulations (you know who you are). The original list of prospective brand names we presented to my close group of friends came back with a big fat “NO! Try again” response – thank God, because they did us a favor.

That was when we went back to the drawing board and looked more closely at people’s comments to come up with a new list of brand name prospects. I have never told my cousin Rebekah this before, but it was out of  her comment, something like, “I see myself melting into my comfy couch, and enjoying a yummy piece of toast…” that we created “Melt” as the brand name.

Such humble beginnings…

 

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