Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday's Top Ten

Today I was thinking about all the wonderful new foods that I discovered just over the past year. As my passion has grown deeper for foods on every level, my adventurous spirit has helped me to find and try some new taste sensations. A few of these items were completely unknown to me at first but have now become a very familiar friend in my fridge and pantry. A couple I have been aware of my whole life but never truly had any appreciation for them. Actually I just thought I didn't like them, but come to find out they really aren't that bad after all. To round out the list are a couple of recipe based qualifiers, actual dishes that are composed of a variety of ingredients, that together created a flavor profile I had never been acquainted with until now.

Here is my Top Ten List of Newly Discovered Tastes from 2009

1. Celeriac- It is a the vegetable world's "Ugly Duckling" for underneath its root like appearance is the most flavorful and wonderful treat. A cousin to carrots and turnips this is very tasty roasted, pureed and even in sautes or soups. Don't let its appearance intimidate you. I got my very first introduction to this tasty wonder from my CSA share his summer. We will be culinary friends for a long time! "picture courtesy of NPR.org

Celeriac is also known as celery root, knob celery and turnip-rooted celery

2. Tempeh- This is a product that is made from cooked ad slightly fermented soybeans but don't let that scare you. Normally known for being apart of a vegetarian's diet it is great in sandwiches, salads, stirfry's and more. I had it for the first time on a sandwich from our local Natural Foods store- Oryana- It is a great alternative to processed meats and the tempeh bacon that I made at home for the family was a huge hit! (pic courtesy of delicioustv.com)

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3. Risotto- A dish made with arborio rice and broth that is added only a half a cup at a time- usually there is a wine component and then whatever flavors you want to add in. Saffron is traditionally a beautiful addition to what I now refer to as a culinary masterpiece! So one evening I went to my friend Kristin's house for a girls get together evening. Kristin decided to make a risotto and even took the time to show me how it was made. Up until that point I had no idea what went into making this rice dish. Though it takes some time and attention, all the stirring and stirring- the payoff is definitely there when you deliver the finished product- OM GOODNESS. I am hooked on this stuff and find it very hard to even share when I make it for my family. I would be content to sit on my couch with the whole pot and eat it up into an oblivion of satiety.

4. Cumin- This seed that is typically found as a ground spice in your local market has become a mainstay in my cooking artillery. It takes Hummus to a whole new level. It adds layers of flavor in my chili and tastes amazing in just about any thing I use it in. I believe everyone should have Cumin in their spice rack- its simply an amazing spice!

5. Mango- I have been aware of the mangoes existence for some time now but never really paid attention to buying it ever. That is until my son Riley asked me if we could buy some one day while we were out shopping at Sams. Now we all know there is no buying "one" thing at Sams club so we ended up with an entire box of these fruits. I got online, did my research on how to slice a mango and dice it- easy to do once you try it on a few. Now we have learned Mangoes only seem to be good during certain times of year- mid to late spring is best, but they freeze really well so we have bought up many when they are at their best, freeze them up and they make the best smoothies! Trust me on this one!

6. Persimmons- Ok so I got sucked in to buying a few at Meijers one day because they were on sale and I thought how I had never really ever had one. I brought them home and cut them up to try and fell in LOVE! I made the best salad dressing with persimmons- they really are a unique fruit to play with. Here is a link to that recipe if you want to try:

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7. Baklava- This is a dessert that is very traditional to my cultural heritage as an Armenian and I have always heard my Grandma and Mom talk about it but never really cared to try it. Then I stopped at a local Mediterranean themed deli one summer afternoon and my whole life changed. They had Pistachio Baklava in their bakery case and I thought "Well lets just see what the big deal really is with this stuff" WOW was I instantly amazed. If you haven't tried this stuff in your life, get over to The Silver Swan this instant and buy a piece or find a local pastry chef who has the patience to make it in the traditional style- I hope you receive the same experience too! The layers and layers, sweet crispiness, rich honey dipping goodness is sometimes more than I can handle! (Picture courtesy of ocdeals.freedomblogging.com)


8. Olives- Never liked olives EVER in my life and then I had an olive plate set in front of me at a very nice Italian restaurant in Manhattan so I said "What the Heck, might as well give them another try." That "try" was a very pleasant surprise, a flavor I have found hard to duplicate, but when I do it is very delicious. Kalamata olives are apparently the variety that I like. (photo courtesy of blisstree.com)

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9. Tomatillas- These green tomato-like fruits are truly lovely. You might recognize them in the green sauce you see at your local mexican restaurant. What is so great about my new experience with them is that I decided to grow tomatillas this year in my garden and the variety I ended up with produced a purple fruit!! It made the most wonderful salsa ever. I made two different kinds- one was a very special recipe from my friend Matt who shared it with me after seeing my pictures of roasted Tomatillas during the summer. I can't share that recipe because it is very special but I will share another one I tried that was equally as nice.

10. Ginger- Ginger tea, Ginger snaps, Ginger, Ginger, Ginger!!!! I love this root that has so much zest and zing. It has been one of the most flavorful additions to my cooking repertoire in the past year and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it into my dishes. My friend Rachael recently showed me how you can just slice it up fresh and put it into hot water and steep in a tea pot. It is great to help with digestion and over all adds a real zip to anything you decide to use it within. I LOVE IT!!! Especially in cookies too. I have decided that it may not be wise for me to learn how to make gingerbread cookies since I would probably eat the whole batch right out of the oven. We made gingerbread pancakes one morning that were out of this world- if you get a chance check this recipe out! (Photo courtesy of seshdotcom.wordpress.com)

The Ginger at its best!!!!!