Pork Loin with Spinach & Goat Cheese

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A sophisticated stuffing of creamy goat cheese, silky spinach, and lemony herbs give this lean and mighty pork loin 5-star flavor. Topped with apricot-infused sweet and sour sauce, we tip our hats to the slow cooker for coaxing out this degree of decadence. To achieve the coveted crisp-tender texture of the pork, we recommend browning it on all sides before placing it in the slow cooker. Once cooked, use a serrated knife to slice the pork with ease. Pair this divine main with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans or garlicky Brussels for a well-rounded meal that is sure to impress.

 

How to Make It

Step 1

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add shallots, garlic, and thyme; cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until shallots are caramelized. Add spinach; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until wilted. Remove from heat.

Step 2

Combine goat cheese, chives, parsley, and lemon rind in a small bowl.

Step 3

Holding knife flat and parallel to cutting board, cut horizontally through the center of pork loin, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Open flat, as you would a book. Starting at the center seam, cut horizontally through each half, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Open flat on either side. Place pork between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to an even 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small, heavy skillet. Remove plastic wrap.

Step 4

Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread goat cheese mixture evenly over pork; top with the shallot mixture. Roll up pork jelly-roll fashion. Tie with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Step 5

Wipe pan clean. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add pork; cook 3 minutes per side or until browned. Place stuffed pork in a 5-quart slow cooker.

Step 6

Add apricot preserves, butter, and mustard to pan; reduce heat to medium. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until butter melts. Pour over pork loin in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 7 to 8 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of pork registers 145°F. I cooked mine in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes and it was just great. 

Step 7

Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 15 minutes. Skim and discard fat from sauce in the slow cooker. Pour sauce into a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. Cook 5 minutes, until reduced to about 1 cup. Stir in vinegar.

Step 8

Remove and discard twine. Slice pork into 12 slices; serve with sauce.

Pork Loin with Spinach & Goat Cheese

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

I found this article online and made a few corrections and additions, but it has great information.

These baking mistakes threaten your beautiful bundts, bread, and bar cookies. Here’s what you should do instead…

In cooking, you’re encouraged to riff: Edamame in your stir-fry? Sure! A splash of rice wine vinegar in your pan sauce? Why not! Curious about herbes de Provence in your chicken rub? Give it a whirl!

In baking, however, creativity should be directed toward what you decide to make and how you decorate it—not how you cook it. That’s because baking is a science; cooking is an art. Science has rules. Art? Not so much.

You don’t read the recipe.

As you do with any IKEA furniture, you should read through the steps and gather your tools before you start mixing and whipping. Otherwise, you might get started and realize you’re one short a cup of cocoa powder of what your recipe needs. Or worse, you’ll start mixing up the dough for the birthday party you’re going to tonight and then realize it’s supposed to chill overnight. Oops!

The fix: Pull your recipe up on your phone, or get it from your cookbook. Read the ingredient list, and assemble everything that’s listed. Then, read the directions. You can even go so far as to “pretend” each step. This way, you can double check you have every ingredient and every appliance or tool you need.

You decide to wing it instead of measuring the ingredients.

The “a little of this, a little of that” mentality may suit you well in cooking, but in baking, it could backfire. After all, consider this: cookies, cakes, and bread contain many of the same ingredients: eggs, flour, sugar, butter, for example. In the right ratios, they make a specific type of baked good. In the wrong ratios, they could be a disaster. That’s why it’s vital to measure every ingredient, from the flour to the tiniest bit of cinnamon.

The fix: Use your measuring spoons and cups. You need the right ratios to get the best results. Save the winging it for your salad dressing.

You don’t respect the comma.

Has the comma in “1 cup flour, sifted” ever confused you? What about the comma in “1/2 cup pecans, chopped”? The comma is telling you something very important. Do you know what?

The fix: The comma is telling you to first measure the ingredient and then perform the task. Measure the cup of flour, then sift it. Or measure the half cup of pecans, then chop them. There’s a big difference between half a cup of chopped pecans and half a cup of pecans that were measured, then chopped. It can dramatically affect your final result.

You use liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients (or vice versa).

Liquid measuring cups and dry measuring cups measure things differently. Though it’s not a significant amount, it’s enough that it could affect the texture of your final product.

The fix: Use wet measuring cups (typically, the glass type you pour from) for everything liquid: water, oil, honey, milk, molasses, corn syrup, etc. Use dry cups for everything else, from flour and sugar to chocolate chips and yogurt. With the dry cups, be sure to use a flat surface, like the back of a knife, to swipe across the top of the cup to remove excess before adding to the batter.

You dip your measuring cup into the flour.

Dipping a measuring cup into a bag or jar of flour packs the flour into the well of the measuring cup. It may seem like the easiest way to scoop flour, but you’re actually getting more flour than you really need. Too much flour will turn into dense bread, hard cookies, and stiff cakes.

The fix: You need the same amount of flour each time to get consistent results, and you can do this in two ways: The less accurate option is to use a spoon to lightly scoop flour into a dry measuring cup, then use a flat edge (like a knife) to level off the flour. The most accurate way to measure flour is with a digital scale. A cup of all-purpose flour should be 130 grams.

You don’t preheat your oven.

We’ve all been there: You’ve just finished rolling out a tray full of cookie dough only to realize your oven is cool as a cucumber. So to save time, you turn the oven on and just stick the pan in any way. Bad idea. The quick and sudden heat is an important part of the baking process. If the dough heats slowly, you may have a mess on your hands.

The fix: If you realize the oven isn’t pre-heated when you’re ready to bake, just let the dough or batter sit while the oven heats up. Most ovens can be heated in about 10 minutes time. If you’re working with a temperature-sensitive dough, pop it in the fridge until the oven is ready.

You’ve never measured your oven’s temperature.

I have some bad news: Your oven could be lying to you. Just because it says 350°F doesn’t mean it really is. That means your brownies or pastries may not bake properly because your oven could be too hot, or even too cool. And 25°F in one direction can make a big difference in the final product.

The fix: Invest in an oven thermometer. Hang it from the grates in your oven the next time you turn it on. Let the oven pre-heat fully, and then see what the thermometer says. That will give you an idea of how correct your oven is—and how you need to adjust the oven when you bake in it.

You substitute baking powder for baking soda.

They might share a similar name, and they even look similar out of the box. But baking soda and baking powder are quite different. Baking soda must have an accompanying acid (lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, for example) to activate it; baking powder, on the other hand, has that acid already. If you use the wrong one, your baked goods will take a hit.

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

Romaine Could Be Hiding

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Americans are being told to avoid romaine lettuce at all costs for the second time this year, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a new outbreak of E. coli associated with the leafy green in 11 different states. Earlier this spring, it took federal investigators upwards of six months to track down where a similar outbreak, which claimed the lives of five individuals and sickened more than 200. This latest announcement by the CDC, coming Thanksgiving week, is a blanket ban on all forms of the lettuce, and details have yet to emerge beyond the fact that it has caused 30 plus individuals to fall ill.

Currently, the CDC is advising that any romaine is disposed of or avoided, regardless of when or where it was harvested. Many of you seemed prepared to do so—Cooking Light readers shared their frustrations in the comments section of a Facebook post yesterday, with many expressing that they had already consumed romaine recently.

CDC Recommends Blanket Ban on ALL Romaine Lettuce, E. coli Discovered Once Again
Do not eat any form of romaine lettuce from any region, CDC warns.

With federal investigators unable to pinpoint an exact source of the outbreak yet, the risk of E. coli poisoning—and the chance of developing HUS, a rare form of kidney failure associated with a toxin in this viral E. coli strain—is particularly troublesome to many shoppers.

Some retailers have previously gone to great lengths to remove tainted romaine lettuce from their shelves, but romaine lettuce is a ubiquitous ingredient and can be found in many ready-to-eat products. In the coming weeks, as investigators work to discover what is causing illnesses in what’s sure to be more than just 11 states, taking the time to thoroughly check your meals for romaine could help you stay safe.

Salad Greens and Salad Bar

If you’re dining out, be sure to ask your server about any use of romaine in the food’s preparation (even if it’s not evident) and if the establishment has updated their menus. Pour over any ingredient list on pre-made or frozen food products to ensure that romaine isn’t a concern. And when you’re in the supermarket, check these eight products for romaine lettuce to be sure that all are safe for consumption:

1) Salad Bars

Whole Foods Salad Bar Tongs
Whole Foods

You may be anxious to visit a salad bar, and for good reason—E. coli bacteria can transfer on contact, so take good care when eating from any salad bar in the coming days. On the off chance that your supermarket has yet to dispose of romaine, do not buy ingredients in proximity to romaine, and remember that self-serve utensils can easily become cross contaminated. This is a good time to make romaine-free salads at home.

2) Bagged Salad Mixes

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The CDC was careful to include this in their bulletin: bagged mixes like Fresh Express’ “American” blend contains chopped romaine, which could be contaminated with E. coli.

3) Ready-to-Eat Salads

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Many supermarkets, as well as fast-casual chains and other food retailers, sell pre-made salads that have been massed produced in the last month. Double check the ingredient list before enjoying pre-made salads, even if you can’t see romaine in the container upon first glance.

4) Ready-to-Eat Sandwiches and Wraps

Lettuce is in nearly all pre-made sandwiches, and so it goes without saying to check these before buying. Lettuce wraps, as well as tortilla-based wraps, are of concern.

5) Grain Bowls and Noodle Bowls

Retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s offer a full selection of ready-to-eat entreés in their deli selections, including noodle bowls and grain bowls that contain lettuce.

6) Green Juice and Blended Beverages

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You should take time to inspect all smoothies and blended beverages for romaine—while V8 juice contains an ambiguous “lettuce” callout on the ingredient list, some ready-to-drink beverages—especially green juices—contain romaine alongside servings of kale and spinach. This might also be a good time to make blended green juice at home, where you can swap romaine for other hearty greens.

7) Soup

This is rarer than other items on this list, but blended, chilled soups, including items like packaged gazpacho, could contain romaine lettuce.

8) Refrigerated and Frozen Prepared Entreés and Appetizers

Romaine may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind in the frozen section, but it could be of concern in prepared foods that are available for purchase in your supermarket. Take the time to double check the ingredient list, and when in doubt, ask an employee for help.

Romaine Could Be Hiding

Olive Oil Tips & Tricks

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Olive oil is one of the world’s most ancient foods and it’s one of the most common cooking ingredients. In fact, along with salt and pepper, olive oil is one of the best pantry staples, because it’s an essential element to so, so many recipes. You can use it to roast veggies, grill chicken, make a super simple salad dressing, drizzle over crostini. In addition to being a baller ingredient that elevates any and all food, olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which are an essential component to any well-rounded diet.

Choosing an olive oil from a shelf of bottles at wildly varied price points can be tricky. Olive oil is so versatile because there are many flavors, notes, and colors. In that respect, it’s like wine. And like wine, it can be intimidating.

We hear words like extra and virgin thrown around a lot, but most people couldn’t tell you what that actually means. And with tons of fraudulent bottles clogging the market, it can be hard to tell which olive oils are actually worth your time and your money. Let’s face it, olive oil is NOT cheap.

1. Only buy oil labeled extra-virgin. This is not a guarantee that the oil will be the best, but at least it will probably not be among the worst. Bottles labeled just plain “Olive Oil” and “Light Olive Oil” are refined oils and, like vegetable oil, while they’re not bad in any way, they are not very interesting.

2. Read the label. Even if it’s written in Italian, French or Spanish, you can probably figure out enough to recognize harvest and “use by” dates. The finest producers always put the harvest date proudly on their olive oil. The use-by date can be a little deceptive since it is usually 18 months from bottling, rather than from harvest.

Check for the region the oil was produced in. If you see more than one country, region, or even city listed, put the bottle back on the store shelf. You don’t want the olives blended from all different countries. Because when it comes to the olives used in olive oil, the things that grow together go together.

You want to look for the olive cultivar. This is just a fancy way of saying which type of olives were used to make the oil. The more specific information the producers display on the bottle, the more likely that extra-virgin claim is legit.

Remember to always check the harvest date, and opt for the freshest you can find.

3. Avoid anything in a clear glass bottle, no matter how pretty and enticing the label. Light is the great enemy of olive oil and the oil inside will likely have lost most of its flavor and aroma. Look for extra-virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles or, better yet, opaque tins. Olive Oil does not like light, so keep yours out of the sun.  Your kitchen counter is not a good place to keep it.

4. Know that the term “first cold pressing,” although widely used, is redundant. By legal definition, the extra-virgin oil must come from the first (usually the only) pressing, which must be accomplished with no added heat (at ambient temperatures no higher than around 80ºF.

5. Extra-virgin olive oil does not improve with age. Fresher is better, and right out of the mill, olive oil is a fabulous experience. Fresh oil may have unexpectedly assertive flavors of bitterness and pungency that sometimes override the fruitiness. These challenging flavors are treasured by connoisseurs because they indicate high quality, and by nutritionists, because they’re evidence of lots of healthful polyphenols.

6. Light is the enemy and so is heat. Keep your precious bottles in a cool, dark environment. I have a couple of tin containers within reach of my stove, each of which holds 1 ½ cups of oil, enough for a couple of days in my kitchen. They get refilled from the bulk of my oil, which I keep in a cupboard in an unheated pantry.

7. Use your oil! And don’t be afraid to cook with extra-virgin. It is perfectly stable up to about 420ºF. The Joy of Cooking says 360ºF is the optimum temperature for deep-frying, I use extra-virgin comfortably for almost all of my cooking. And because it doesn’t get better with age, I use last year’s oil for cooking, and this year’s fresh oil for garnishing.

8. Use it liberally! Learn to love a hot baked potato, cracked open and topped with lots of the freshest finest oil you can buy, a sprinkle of fleur de sel and freshly ground Telicherry pepper. Or try my favorite Catalan breakfast—grilled rustic bread with a ripe tomato crushed into the top, then salt and pepper and a glug of extra-virgin over it all.

9. Buy from trusted retailers who know how to maintain quality. I find the best quality olive oil from online sources. Here are a few good ones: olio2go.com,
dipaloselects.commarkethallfoods.comcortibrothers.com,
zingermans.com, and www.gustiamo.com

10. Like with other juices, fresher is always better when it comes to olive oil.

Olive oil is adversely affected by several factors including time passed since its pressing, heat, light, and air. Luckily the shelf life is a little bit longer than that of the kale, apple, and parsley blend you love olive oil is at its best in its first two years. An older bottle probably won’t hurt you, but it slowly loses its beautiful flavors and health benefits with every passing day.

Olive oil harvests in the northern hemisphere (usually in countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy) take place in October and November. This means if you’re looking for the freshest bottle, you’ll want the harvest date listed on the label to be from the previous year. Anything earlier than that indicates an old bottle unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t get better with age

11. But know that if you go for just regular “virgin,” you’ll still get all the health benefits.

While the lower quality virgin olive oil may not taste as good as its extra-virgin counterparts,  there isn’t any nutritional difference between the two. Pure olive oils, on the other hand, have been chemically processed which means you may want to avoid them altogether. When you see a bottle labeled pure, light, or olive oil, this can be an indicator that it is a refined, lesser quality product.

12. Different olives produce oils that taste different.

Olive oil adds depth and dimension to virtually any dish. And experts make careers tasting and assessing the subtleties of olive oil. Hundreds of olive varieties are cultivated around the world, and dozens are valued for producing delicious oil.

Knowing which olives were used can also help you determine what the oil will taste like. If you see an oil made with a taggiasca olive, it’s going to be light and delicate and sweet. But if you see an oil made with a nocellara olive,  it will be leafy, herbaceous, and robust.”

Different varieties absolutely have different flavor profiles and personalities, but the end result of the oil is determined by much more including geography, the method of harvesting and pressing, as well as blending and storage. Again, think wine, there are plenty of luscious Pinot Noirs and plenty of bad Pinot Noirs.

To really use this knowledge to your advantage, you’ll need to have a bit of olive intel in your back pocket. A quick Google search of the different types should give you enough flavor info to make a decision. Or try a new type each time you buy a bottle and see what you like best. There hundreds of different olive varieties out there and olive oils vary greatly from region to region, so there are a lot of flavors to be had. If you’re at a store that allows you to taste olive oil, take advantage! The more you taste, the more you’ll discover what styles make you happy.

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13. You can’t tell how an olive oil will taste by looking at it.

Just as you wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you don’t want to judge an olive oil by its color. A greener olive oil isn’t necessarily a better or fresher olive oil, though this is commonly thought to be the case. Color is determined by factors like the type of olives used and when the oil was extracted. The only way to truly judge the quality of an oil is to crack it open and give it a taste.

14. You don’t want to cheap out on olive oil, but it shouldn’t break the bank either.

As you’re scanning the oil aisle, there’s definitely the potential for sticker shock, but there’s a wide range of prices and you don’t have to drop a ton of dough for a decent bottle. As for how much you should be spending in general, Try not to drop below $15 per liter, which is about 34 ounces. You’ll often find bottles that size at the supermarket and it’s a good amount to have on hand if you cook regularly. (If you don’t cook that often, it’s easy to find smaller bottles, too.)

15. Use cheaper bottles for cooking and pricier oils for drizzling.

If you do decide to splurge on a pricier bottle one between $20 and $40 you may want to reserve it for drizzling and finishing dishes. When you cook olive oil, you cook the nuances out of it. So if you really want to savor the flavor of an oil soaked into a piece of bread or poured over a bowl of hummus, keep one nice bottle on hand for that, and use another (cheaper) bottle for all your cooking needs.

Many chefs tend to cook with cheaper (but still totally respectable) EVOO, like California Olive Ranch, and save the truly mind-blowing stuff, like Castillo de Canna for drizzling and finishing.

16. And finally, you absolutely should use olive oil for way more than just salads.

Olive oil is an incredible ingredient and the cornerstone of the famous Mediterranean diet. Exquisite olive oil elevates everything it touches: salads, grilled veggies, meat and seafood, soups, stews, pasta, and risotto really do go from good to awesome when anointed with yummy EVOO. It’s the perfect bridge between tradition and innovation. It can be utilized in a plethora of culinary applications with astounding results.

From cooking with to finishing to everything in between, olive oil can elevate many dishes.

Olive Oil Tips & Tricks

Tricolor Beet-and-Carrot Salad

 

Here is my version of the salad.  It is interesting if you actually put it together with the way they suggest, you don’t see the carrots, which are very pretty.

Tricolor Beet-and-Carrot Salad

Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime

Going to make this tonight for dinner. I will post my photo later, for a comparison.

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Ingredients

2 big handfuls fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1/2 jalapeno, sliced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 garlic clove, grated

2 limes, juiced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Pinch sugar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 (6-ounce) block sushi-quality tuna

1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, and sliced

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir the ingredients together until well incorporated.
  2. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and coat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper. Lay the tuna in the hot oil and sear for 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust. Pour 1/2 of the cilantro mixture into the pan to coat the fish. Serve the seared tuna with the sliced avocado and the remaining cilantro sauce drizzled over the whole plate.
Pan-Seared Tuna with Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime

Balsamic Beet Salad with Marcona Almonds

Made this Ina Garten recipe for dinner the other night and it was delicious. I actually used the bright yellow beets but forgot to take a photo of it. 

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Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap the beets individually in aluminum foil and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them for 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size, until a small sharp knife inserted in the middle indicates that they are tender. Unwrap each beet and set aside for 10 minutes, until cool enough to handle. Peel the beets with a small, sharp knife over a piece of parchment paper to prevent staining your cutting board.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and set aside. While the beets are still warm, cut each one in half and then each half into 4 to 6 wedges and place them in a large mixing bowl. As you’re cutting the beets, toss them with half of the vinaigrette (warm beets absorb more vinaigrette), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Taste for seasonings.

Place the arugula in a separate bowl and toss it with enough vinaigrette to moisten. Put the arugula on a serving platter and then arrange the beets, almonds, and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with additional vinaigrette, if desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve warm or at room temperature.

I did the beets the day before and they were perfect.  It is an easy make-ahead dish for dinner.  Usually, I have beets in my garden, but they were not happy this year, so bought mine at a local Farmer’s Market.

 

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Balsamic Beet Salad with Marcona Almonds

10 Bite-Size Spring Appetizers

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Spring is in full swing, and if you haven’t yet jumped into the depths of all of the great seasonal produce, we’re thrilled to let you know some great ways to enjoy it all. These bite-sized spring appetizers are perfect for that backyard party you’ve been waiting to have all winter. Check out the roundup of our ten favorites that have truly given us Spring Fever.

1.) Radish and Arugula Crostini with Brie

One word: radishes.  It simply wouldn’t be spring without a heaping helping of radishes on our plates and of course, in our appetizers. These crostini bites pair radishes, brie, and arugula leaves on toast for a crunchy and bright flavor experience.

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2.)  Savory Carrot Ribbon Tart

You know it’s spring when suddenly carrots are everywhere. Easter is this Sunday (can you believe it?) and a tart like this makes for a perfect pick-me-up before dinner is served. Serve up a hearty and clean appetizer like this that fits in all of the festive carrot flavors of the season on one pan. Using rainbow carrots is a great tip that incorporates all different kinds of colors into this festive spring tart.

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3.) Buttery Deviled Eggs

What kind of meal would it be without deviled eggs around Easter? Keep in mind that deviled eggs (or any recipe requiring hard-cooked eggs) are great.

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4.) “Spring Roll” Pot Stickers

Turns out you can get the fabulous flavors of takeout from your very own kitchen with these awesome pot stickers. The extra crispy-ness of this classic takeout item is enough in itself, but when you factor in all of the homemade goodness packed inside, they become out-of-this-world good.

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5.) Spinach-and-Green-Pea Empanadas

While these empanadas are a little heartier than the average appetizer and can definitely be served as an entree if desired, their fun hand-sized nature makes them a great grab-and-go food for backyard parties or get-togethers. Not only are they a delicious golden-brown, but they’re chock full of great spring veggies.

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6.) Blackberry-Brie Pizzettas

It’s true, blackberries reach their prime in the summer months, but if you’re lucky enough to be able to snag some blackberries from your local market right now, they go wonderfully with brie on these golden-brown personal sized pizzas. Not only do these colorful appetizer pizzas bring out even more of that Spring Fever, but they’ll get you all excited for the vast array of yummy produce still to come in the summer months.

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7.) Grits-and-Gumbo Tarts

All of the iconic flavors of this southern stew come together in perfect bite-sized portions with these tarts. Shrimp, okra, and polenta rounds pair perfectly in one bite and would make a great accompaniment to this warm spring weather.

These bright and colorful crostini appetizers are reminiscent of spring with their bright green colors and fresh flavor. Appetizers like this are a great way to combine multiple seasonal flavors in one bite. Fava beans get the spotlight here, but the goat cheese balances out the overall flavor.

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9.) Cucumber-Tomato Skewers with Dill Sauce

It doesn’t get much easier than these super simple veggie skewers. If you’re planning on serving a heavy meal, these light and fresh appetizers are the perfect pairings to round out the flavor palate, and the creamy dill sauce is a great accompaniment.

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10.) Fresh Spring Rolls with Pork, Mango, and Mesclun

This great appetizer comes with an essential peanut sauce, which lends a sweet and spicy flavor to these bright and fresh spring rolls. These rolls are held together with clear rice-paper wrappers, which allow for tons of great flavor to be packed into one edible snack.

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10 Bite-Size Spring Appetizers

GENIUS SOUS-VIDE COOKING HACKS

These tips will turn you into a sous-vide superstar
Genius Ways to Use Your Sous-Vide Circulator

The Instant Pot might be the most powerful kitchen gadget since the microwave, but for home cooks everywhere, there’s one thing that talented little pressure cooker just can’t replace: the almighty sous-vide machine.

There’s a special place in our heart for a tool that can effortlessly cook steak too a perfect medium rare then turn around and make the smoothest crème brûlée. In fact, an immersion circulator is probably one of the most versatile pieces of kitchen equipment on the market.

New to the world of sous vide? Or perhaps you’re looking for a little help mastering your latest holiday score? Follow these six innovative hacks, and you’ll be a sous-vide superstar in no time.

① Poach Eggs with PrecisionNobody ever said whipping up eggs Benedict was easy, but add an immersion circulator to the mix and achieving perfect, yolk-y gooeyness is painless. Just dump your eggs directly from the carton into an awaiting water bath, no vacuum bag needed. Their shells will protect them from cracking, and the consistent, well-circulated heat will keep them from overcooking. In less than an hour, they’ll be done and ready to top your English muffins, creamy risotto or spaghetti carbonara.

② Temper Chocolate like Jacques Torres

If there was ever a more hair-pulling task, it’d be the tricky art of tempering melted chocolate. But, frustrating as it may be, there’s just no better way to give your homemade candies the snappy, illustrious and markedly professional shine. Though this method usually involves carefully raising and lowering temperatures at specific intervals,

③ Infuse Spirits, Oils and Extracts in an Instant

We’re all for DIY-ing infused spirits and extracts, but waiting weeks for them to age? Not so much. Thankfully, using your sous vide to warm tasty concoctions at a low, steady heat shortens this painful waiting period to just under a few hours, and the method is gentle enough to infuse all those same complex flavors the lengthy aging process produces. You can also employ this hack when making rich homemade tinctures like red pepper and fresh herb extracts.

④ Create Smooth, Foolproof Custards

Making silky pots de crème or sleek lemon curd presents quite the conundrum: You need to heat your eggs for maximum thickness, but raise the temperature a few degrees too high, and you’ll wind up with scrambled yolks. With a sous-vide machine, however, you can kiss curdled custard goodbye. Just seal the ingredients, drop them into the water bath for an hour, then transfer them to a blender for a quick spin. The next thing you know, you’re looking at a custard more akin to a creamy ice cream base than a stringy breakfast dish.

⑤ Pickle Vegetables on the Double

Pickle fiends, it’s time to celebrate: Brining your beloved veggies has never been easier. Rather than waiting weeks for your cukes to ferment, a sous-vide machine’s steady temperatures can cut the process down to a mere few hours. And if you prefer quick chilled pickles, a half hour in a vacuum-sealed bag with just a fraction of the brine is all you need.

⑥ Get Icy-Cold Drinks in Minutes

Say sayonara to that college-era, ice-filled bathtub. If you happen to have a Nomiku-brand machine, its minimum temperature can activate the motor without turning on the heating element. Fill a bucket with your favorite Super Bowl beverages, and the machine will churn icy water to chill them right in time for kickoff.

GENIUS SOUS-VIDE COOKING HACKS