Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March is noodle month, so slurp ‘em up

March is noodle month. Look it up if you don’t believe me. Go beyond pre-fab ramen and experiment.
Frieda’s has fresh ones, like yakisoba. The noodles came in a two-serving package, but shredded cabbage helped stretch it to three when my daughter came home from work and caught me cooking. The family agreed Frieda’s Yakisoba Pre-Cooked Noodles, in teriyaki flavor, were simple and simply amazing.
We’d already fetched a pot out to boil them, then read the directions they were to stir-fry. No wonder they’re ready in five minutes. It took a fifth of that time to dig the pot out and put it back. The flavor packet made them taste like a dish from a trendy restaurant.
The family was also thrilled with Frieda’s chow mein noodles, also sold in a refrigerated block of freshness. I boiled these and tossed them with sesame oil and ginger.
I added strips of orange peel I keep in the freezer. Just seeing the baggie full of bright orange peels of vitamin C makes my mood sunny when I open the freezer door.

Passion fruit
As per instruction, I waited until Frieda’s passion fruit looked like something from a horror movie: little purple orbs of wrinkly leather. This is when the South American fruit, a key flavoring in Hawaiian Punch, delivers the sweetest golden pulp, accented by edible black seeds. Inside the flesh, it looked like an alien movie, but everyone loved it so much we ate it plain, leaving no leftovers to play at making passion fruit drinks, dressings and ice cream toppings. Use this spring as a time to try new things. You’ll likely like them, or at least have an anecdote at your next party.

Crepe easy
Those who make crepes claim they’re easy, those who watch think not. While I have sometimes made a perfectly thin pancake without even trying, I’ve never made a perfect crèpe when I meant to. Frieda’s Specialty Produce Co. comes to the rescue again with Frieda’s French Style Crepes in a resealable bag. Only 50 calories make up these rounds you can fill with egg and spinach or something sweet. I’ve tried lots of stuff and it’s great to have the bag ready with more for the next day. I simply toasted one and broke off the thin, crispy pieces to dip into an almond syrup. I was on my couch, but pretended I was at a Paris sidewalk café.

Chef’s Coffee
When students and entrepreneurs brewed up the idea to make a better coffee, they devoted the same precision that goes into making a fine wine. Chef’s Coffee Company got help from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration students and produced something they say changes with the environment. Environment counts, so the same cup will taste different at the beach, on a mountain top or at a horse race, Chef Craig Shelton of Ryland Inn in New Jersey, says. That’s the first time I’ve heard someone say what I’ve long thought. It sure tastes good at home on a Sunday morning. My theory is that you can taste more levels when you can relax more. Beans in this blend come from Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

The above word is Greek for “to lead one’s life,” and is the concept for our “dirty word,” diet. Ancient Greeks included a love of sports, theater, sculpture, wine, philosophy and health care into this concept. “The Park Avenue Diet” shares a concept that grooming, self confidence, fashion and fitness all play a role in what makes the so-called idle rich successful. Stuart Fischer’s book points out that these rich folk can afford great food, but they can control overdoing the bad stuff to keep up an image. We can do the same because it helps us lead a healthier, happier life. Experts offer advice and self-assessment questions and lots of recipes inspire readers toward culinary improvements. Here’s an easy one:
Spinach with Walnuts and Balsamic Vinegar
6 cups fresh spinach
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch of nutmeg
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the three tablespoons of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and nutmeg in a large bowl. Season to taste and set aside.
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of the spinach and quickly sauté until barely wilted. Transfer the spinach to a platter. Heat the remaining oil and spinach and sauté until barely wilted. Add the first batch to ht e pan and blend in the vinaigrette. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the walnuts and serve immediately.

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