7:16 AM EST
Hominy, Hominy, Hominy!
Hominy is a polarizing ingredient: folks are either very familiar with it or have no idea what it is. A key ingredient in Mexican and Central American kitchens, hominy is dried corn treated with an alkali solution (a process known as nixtamalization). The corn is then either prepared whole (variably termed posole, nixtamal, mote, or maíz en estilo mexicano), ground coarsely (i.e., grits) or ground into a flour (i.e., masa seca or masa harina) which forms the base to familiar foods like tamales.
Whole kernel hominy takes center stage in dishes such as the Mexican pork stew pozole where it lends a subtle sweetness and chewy texture. Preparing hominy is easy though you will need to plan ahead as it does take some time. One cup of dry hominy will yield three cups of prepared hominy.
Preparing Hominy: Soak one cup of dry whole kernel hominy in plenty of cold water (use filtered or bottled water if your tap water tastes funny) for 8-12 hours. Drain, transfer the hominy to a large pot and add enough fresh water to cover by 2 inches (5 cm). Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cover the pot. Simmer for 1½-2 hours. Hominy is ready when soft but still chewy (similar to al dente pasta).
11:54 AM EST
Know Your Ingredients: Mace
If all you know of mace is that it is a self defense spray, you’re missing out. Culinary mace, completely unrelated to the tear gas, is actually the lacy outer seed membrane (the botanical term is aril) of the nutmeg seed. The flavor of mace is predictably similar to nutmeg (sweet, sharp – the predominant flavor in “pumpkin pie” spice) though more pungent and with predominate notes of cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. A key reason for using mace over nutmeg is that it imparts a lovely saffron hue to dishes. Mace’s unique biting spiciness tempered with a warming sweetness has made it an interesting addition to desserts and baked goods in both Asian (mace is native to Indonesia) and European cooking traditions. In India, grated mace is added to spiced tea (masala chai), spiced milk (masala paal/ukala) and is sometimes a component in the spice mixture garam masala. Mace also finds its way into various pickles and curries throughout Southeast Asia and is even used to spice up the Scottish national dish, haggis.
When purchasing whole mace (pieces are called blades) look for a bright orange to red color. While grated mace can be added directly to dishes, whole blades of mace are plucked out before serving. An advantage of store-bought grated mace is that it will retain its pungency considerably longer than most ground spices. One teaspoon of ground mace equals approximately 1 tablespoon of mace blades.
Mace is known as javitri (जावित्री) in Hindi, jathipattiri (சாதிப்பத்திரி) in Tamil, kembang pala in Malay and sekar pala in Indonesian.
7:47 AM EST
Our Favorite Egg Recipes
Easter is upon us which means many of us will have more eggs on hand than we know what to do with. Don’t worry, we have great recipes to help you turn this ubiquitous holiday ingredient into something special.
Moving on to breakfast we have the Lebanese Muffin dressed with labneh and za’atar and a Baked Sunday Brunch Frittata, a great dish for entertaining. Our Uovo Scozzese, a play on the Scotch Egg, a sausage wrapped hard-cooked egg, is a tasty breakfast treat but also an over-the-top snack (the Scotch Egg is traditional pub fare).
Who doesn’t love deviled eggs? We have two interesting variations: the kimchi and gochujang spiked Haechi Egg and a spicy Thai Curry Deviled Egg which gets its vibrant magenta egg from pickled beet juice.
7:08 AM EST
Multi-Bean Soup with Ham and Sweet Potatoes
Our Multi-Bean Soup with Ham and Sweet Potatoes is a riff on classic U.S. Senate Soup which, to be honest, is a bit boring. According to Senate’s own webpage, the soup’s origins are unclear but the tradition (it is served in the Senate’s restaurant every day) likely began with either Senator Fred Dubois (R/D - Idaho) or Senator Knute Nelson (R - Minnesota) in the early 1900s. If you’re unfamiliar with the soup it is a simple dish of white beans and potato cooked in a ham stock.
When do most folks just happen to have a ham bone lying around? After Easter and Christmas – so save what remains of that spiral ham!
We make the soup more interesting without turning it into something fussy. We use a widely available mixture of 16 beans, swap the potatoes out for heirloom purple sweet potatoes and change the flavor profile with the addition of whole-grain mustard (ham and mustard are a match made in heaven). This soup is equally fitting for those still brisk days of early spring and bitter cold winter nights.
• 1½ cups mixed dry beans*
• 7 cups cold water
• 1 ham bone with meat or ham hock
• 1 onion, diced
• 3 celery stalks, diced
• 3 carrots, peeled and diced
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1 sweet potato (purple, if available), peeled and diced
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard (our recipe here)
• Chopped parsley (optional) for garnish
Prepare the Beans
Place the beans in a pot and cover by two inches with boiling water. Cover and let stand until beans have swelled to double their size, about an hour. Drain well.
Cook the Beans and Ham
Return the beans to the pot along with the ham and 7 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce and cook until beans are tender, 1-1½ hours. Remove, but do not discard the ham. Skim the soup’s surface.
Finishing the Soup
Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, 20-30 minutes. In the mean time, pick the ham of lean meat and return it to the pot. When the potatoes are soft, mash them, along with the beans, with a potato masher so that the soup becomes somewhat creamy. As ham can vary in saltiness, wait to season the soup with salt until minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsely.
*We use Jack Rabbit brand 16-bean mix for convenience though you can use any combination of beans and legumes you’d like.