by Kate Heyhoe
Every great chef knows that a fresh, classic sauce can lead to menus brimming with creativity. A good sauce can cap even the simplest dish with flavor and elegance. Pesto, for instance, has moved from pasta onto breads, pizzas, grilled vegetables, roasted meats, soups, and even egg-y breakfasts. And with a classic sauce on hand, the main dish can be seasoned with just salt and pepper, or marinated in the sauce, or served with the sauce napped on the plate or spooned on the side.
Such is the brilliance of an innovative line of sauces that are freshly made, yet refrigerator stable for weeks—even after opening. The Le Grand brand creates unique, artisan-quality pesto, savory tapenades and aromatic sauces with all natural, raw ingredients, but it's their packaging that keeps the freshness alive. Each sauce comes in a soft pouch with a spout and twist-off cap. Squeeze as much as you want, recap, and refrigerate again until ready to use (up to 3 weeks). Jarred pesto (which always tastes a bit stale to me) is shelf stable, but after opening you should film it with oil to prevent mold or discoloration. With the Le Grand pouches, you simply squeeze out the air, and recap to keep oxygen and light out. Originally distributed in glass bottles, Le Grand's modern stand-up pouches are more environmentally friendly (even though they're made in Canada). One truckload of pouches is equivalent to 11 truckloads of glass jars, and since they're fresh and raw, these sauces retain more nutrients. The pouch itself is BPA-free, so it's safe, unlike most cans which are lined with BPA.
Le Grand products are made fresh every week with no added sugar or preservatives, and the attention to quality shines. They're available in the United States at Whole Foods stores. Six varieties include Garden Pesto, 4 Nuts & Cheese Pesto, Sun-dried Tomato Pesto, Mild Olive and Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade, Spicy Olive and Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade, and Lemon Confit & Pumpkin Seed Aromatic Sauce. Try them on flatbreads for instant pizzas, in quesadillas, as the flavor-punch in a cheese spread, salad dressing, or marinade, or with fish or artichokes. (The Lemon Confit sauce has a pleasant bitterness to it, so I paired it with maple syrup to offset the bitterness, and napped both around a pan-grilled salmon fillet; the result was a $20 entrée, for a fraction of the cost.)
The website of Maison Le Grand is worth visiting for its inspiring recipes (and photos) using their products, and retail sources. At a price of around $7, these 6-ounce pouches are a good deal: A little pesto or tapenade goes a long way, and since you can add a dab here or there without even dirtying a spoon, you'll be popping, drizzling or slurping the sauce on everything. Bon appétit in a bag!
A food's color makes an impact on consumer acceptance, and the normal color isn't always the preferred one. Food coloring, for instance, is added to some farmed salmon to make it look bright rosy-red (not the dull, pastel pink it would be otherwise). Even so-called "natural" foods can be processed, bleached or dyed to enhance their appeal, which is somewhat oxymoronic.
I recently received a bag of Navitas Naturals Organic Stevia Powder. The bag is printed with a pleasant graphic design on all sides, obscuring the contents, which I didn't notice until I looked inside. The stevia was green! Not what I was expecting, but not bad at all, as it turns out.
We all know that green is good, yet when a food we're used to seeing as white arrives green, it can be jolting. But this stevia's green color also makes it greener in a cookprint-shrinking way.
A few years ago, stevia was barely known; today, white stevia is sold in major supermarkets under various brand names as a sugar substitute, and it's a widespread ingredient in beverages, baked goods and other products.
What's the appeal of stevia? Zero-calorie, zero-carb and no spikes in blood-sugar levels. It's made from a South American herb with a sweetening power a hundred times that of sugar. As one person said, "Stevia is God's gift to diabetics."
Wes Crain of Navitas Naturals explained why they sell green stevia...(more at Stevia)
What would American culture and cuisine be like without gumbo? It's been said that making food is all about giving. Room in the Bowl: The Gumbo Giveback Project is a volume of passion, beauty, charm, wit, and recipes about a dish of unique American heritage, from its African roots to the post-Katrina rebirth.
This 132-page book is created by members of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), each with his or her own perspective (all done for free, including a few pieces of my own). See it, love it, eat it up.
How did this book come about? The IACP held its April 2008 annual conference in New Orleans. Under the editorial guidance of Jamie Tiampo and David Gallent, dozens of IACP photographers, food stylists and food writers canvassed the region (by car, van, bike, foot, and even boat). They created permanent records of their visit by documenting the components of gumbo—meaning gumbo in the largest sense of the word. All of the contributors donated their work and time. Room in the Bowl is the result.
It's a book any food lover would love to own, and sales go to a great cause. Proceeds from the book are split equally between the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) and The Culinary Trust, the philanthropic partner to IACP.
Don't forget about the impact of Katrina: the people of New Orleans and the South haven't, and there's still much work to be done. This book is a good reminder, and buying it is one way to help; if you haven't been to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, be sure to visit it, and don't miss a permanent collection housed there: The Museum of the American Cocktail.Buy Room in the Bowl at our Global Gourmet store on Amazon or directly from the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
LEDs are "in" and it's time to get the word out about their energy-saving profile. Unlike compact fluorescent bulbs, they don't contain mercury and they're even more energy efficient. And if you use a MacBook Air (like me), you're seeing this by the light of an LCD screen backlit by LEDs.
LED stands for light emitting diode, and everything from traffic lights, billboards, automotive running lights, laptop computers and TVs are increasingly beaming with LEDs. So are countries and municipalities, including the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Technology advancements mean consumers will soon be using LEDs even more routinely.
Sapphire, it seems, is the secret behind 90 percent of LEDs......(more at LEDs)
July 4th and Summer Grilling Tips
Copyright © 2009, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified July 2009
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