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July is National Horseradish Month: The bitter herb that confers high taste, low fat

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Comic book character Dagwood Bumstead loved it on his huge sandwiches. It’s the bitter herb of seder tables at Passover. And, it was considered an aphrodisiac in the ancient world.

Horseradish (or “sting nose” as it was known in early America) is a root vegetable, largely planted and harvested by hand, that has played a part in human cuisine since early people hunted and gathered it. Known for its nip and heat, horseradish root is generally grated and mixed with vinegar to make a spicy sauce for sandwiches, beef and seafood; especially cocktail sauce for dipping shrimp.

A member of the mustard family of veggies, the nip of horseradish comes from a compound called isothiocyanate that emits a bite when it hits air and saliva. There is no aroma or bite when horseradish is harvested and grated, but when the root is crushed, the spicy compound is released. Vinegar is added to the crushed root to stop the oxidization and stabilize the flavor. Even the leaves of the horseradish are edible, although they are rarely prepared as a dish.

According to the Horseradish Information Council, about 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish are produced annually in the U.S., seasoning enough for sandwiches that would wrap 12 times around the globe.

For a zesty change of pace, try prepared horseradish on grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and cheeseburgers. Add a dash to deviled eggs.
But its main use is in sauces. Here’s a recipe from horseradish.org that will spice up French fries, onion rings and any sandwich.

Texas Tulip Dip
1 cup mayonnaise
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
Juice of 2 limes
1 to 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions:
Mix mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, lime juice, prepared horseradish, black pepper, dry mustard and garlic powder in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a small container and cover. Allow flavors to meld for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator. Makes about 1-1/2 cups. Serve with French fries, onion rings or sandwiches.

Food

The misunderstood Brussels sprout

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Don’t you love it when the kids find out you are serving Brussels sprouts for dinner and they run to the table and demand a big helping?

Nah. That doesn’t happen.

Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation for being bitter, mushy little veggies.

But, according to the gourmets and foodies, this is all because they are cooked incorrectly. If they are boiled too long or otherwise overcooked, you get the mushy foul-smelling gunk that everyone hates.

But if they are cooked properly, the cute little cabbage buds turn bright green and slightly crisp with a nutty and sweet flavor.

You can lightly steam them whole for five minutes. Or they turn out well when cut in half and oven-roasted with butter and garlic at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. For a pan saute, halve the sprouts and, over moderate heat, cook for 15 minutes with butter and garlic until lightly brown.

Sprouts are members of the cabbage, broccoli and kale family, but don’t hold that against them. Brussels sprouts have been the little heroes of European civilization. Okay, that might be a bit strong, but they were frequently the last greens available during winter for the Romans in the 12th century and the Belgians and Germanic peoples in the 13th century and later. And since they are loaded with Vitamins C, K, and A, they deliver excellent nutrition,.

Sprouts actually grow as little buds on a cabbage-type plant stalk. They have a long growing season of about 100 days and they are extremely frost tolerant.

Last, but not least, they are an excellent choice for a low-carb diet. They have about 9 carbs per cup, but 5 carbs is all fiber, bringing the net carb total to 4 per cup.

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Start the new year with this light, nutritious sprout salad

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Change gears from the traditionally sweet and heavy holiday cooking with this fresh and bright Brussels sprout slaw.

According to the Food Network, these tiny cabbage buds get their name from their supposed cultivation in Belgium as early as the 13th century. They bring a nutty or earthy flavor to a variety of dishes whether they are cooked or raw. Rich in vitamins A, K, C, and B6, be sure to add Brussels sprouts to as many dishes as possible before they go out of season at the end of March.

Here is a delicious recipe by Martha Stewart:

Brussels Sprout Slaw

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives (or 1/4 cup scallions)
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded
1 small head of radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, whisk together mustard, honey, vinegar, sunflower seeds, and oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
2. Add shredded sprouts and sliced radicchio to the mixture.
3. Finely chop chives and add to the mixture.
4. Mix thoroughly with tongs and enjoy immediately or place in fridge to let the flavors marinate for an even better experience!

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Discover the benefits of veganism

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Strict vegans often have ethical or environmental motivations to avoid consuming, wearing or otherwise procuring animal products. But studies show that a plant-based vegan diet also has many health benefits including the following:

  • It provides more nutrients. A vegan diet includes eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and soy products. People following a healthy vegan diet have to eat a larger variety of foods to acquire the recommended daily caloric intake. This translates to consuming more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • It prevents disease. When you adopt a plant-based diet, you lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and many types of cancer. You’ll also likely lower your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • It encourages weight loss. Going vegan will help you lose weight and avoid gaining it back. You’ll lower your body mass index and have more energy. In addition, your skin and hair will look healthier.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to adopt a vegan lifestyle. If you’re thinking about going for it, make sure you eat a varied diet to guarantee you get the right amount and kinds of protein, vitamins and minerals. Ask you doctor for guidance when making the change.

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Cranberry orange baked french toast casserole

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Cranberries and oranges have long been a part of many family Christmas traditions and they are still a fun way to inject a little history into the celebration.

According to The Kitchen, for instance, oranges have been used as special treats for centuries. Great-grandparents today might be able to tell stories of the Great Depression and the incredible gift of sweet oranges on Christmas Day.

According to Colonial Williamsburg, meanwhile, cranberries were often used during the holidays because their bright red color was the perfect addition to decorations. It was common to see them strung alongside popcorn on Christmas trees. Slow to spoil, cranberries keep well throughout the winter season and will likely be available for many holiday treats.

Here is a recipe, courtesy of the Taste and Tell blog, that incorporates both oranges and cranberries into a delicious breakfast casserole that is perfect to make ahead. Pop it in the oven on Christmas morning to avoid the hassle of extra prep on a day already full of festivities and activity.

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries, divided
1 (1 lb) loaf white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups milk
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
powdered sugar, for serving

Directions

1. Pour the melted butter evenly into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cranberries over the top of the brown sugar. Add the cubed bread to the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cranberries over the top.

2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, orange zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and orange extract (if using), and beat lightly to combine. Pour the mixture evenly over the top of the bread in the baking dish. Press the bread down into the liquid mixture if needed to make sure all of the bread is soaked. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate overnight, at least 8 hours.

3. Bring the dish out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the casserole, still covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is browned and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, another 15-20 minutes.

4. Let the casserole sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serve topped with powdered sugar.

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Let them eat local: sourcing holiday delicacies your guests will love

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Good cheese, excellent wine and decadent sweets. The holidays are the perfect time to indulge your inner epicurean. To please your senses—and those of your favorite foodies—plate local products.

Whether you’re hosting an intimate gathering for family and friends or a cocktail party for colleagues, you want to offer your guests the best. Look to local producers who put hard work and passion into creating their breads, beers, chocolates and other delicacies that will undoubtedly impress those who try them.

A responsible choice
Because the products don’t have to travel vast distances to reach your kitchen, when you buy local, you end up lowering your carbon footprint.

Additionally, by eating and drinking locally, you encourage your region’s economy. Instead of giving money to large corporations, you’ll help your neighbors make a living and foster employment in your area.

But altruism aside, one of the best reasons to buy food items locally is that they’re fresher—and tastier!—than those bought at the grocery store.

For these reasons, and so many more, serve and gift delicious eats and treats that were made close to home.

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Food

Holiday recipes you’ll love: Campari spritz

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This lively cocktail is the perfect drink to kick off your holiday parties—or to treat yourself with after a day of Christmas shopping.

Start to finish: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients

• Ice cubes
• 1 ounce Campari
• 3 ounces sparkling wine
• 2 ounces lemon-flavored soda or sparkling water
• 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
• 1 lemon peel twist (optional)

Directions
1. In a glass, place several ice cubes.
2. Pour in the Campari and sparkling wine.
3. Top with your choice lemon-flavored soda or sparkling water.
4. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary and lemon peel twist, if you choose.

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