Eat consciously. Eat joyously. Eat well.
October 20th
9:00 AM EST

Membrillo (Iberian Quince Paste)

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Quince. Membrillo. What are they and why should you care?

Once upon a time quince trees were a homesteader’s delight. While inedible raw (it is unpleasantly sour), the fruit contains high amounts of pectin, an essential ingredient in jams and jelly. Cooked, quince has a pleasant floral flavor with notes of apples and pears (the fruit’s relatives). With industrialization and the development of commercial pectin, the tree fell out of favor and is today scarcely known. At least in the United States.

The Spanish and Portuguese (and to a lesser extent, the Italians) still commonly use quince and membrillo is the jewel in the crown of quince cuisine. Also known as ducle de membrillo or carne de miembrillo (Spanish), marmelada (Portuguese), cotognata (Italian) and quince paste/jelly/candy/meat (English), membrillo is the result of slowly cooking quince with sugar until the fruit changes color from white to rosy orange and the natural pectin sets the confection. Sweet, tart and with notes of apple blossoms, membrillo naturally pairs with Iberian sheep’s milk cheeses like manchego.

Despite its reputation for being a gourmet food, membrillo is quite easy to make – it just takes some time. The most difficult aspect of this recipe will be tracking down fresh quince.

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Cydonia vulgaris (quince) from Franz Eugen Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen. Quince is in the same taxonomic family (Rosaceae) as apples and pears.


Membrillo in its simplest form is just quince and sugar. Our recipe, however, also includes lemon for citrus brightness, warm and spicy Indian long pepper and saffron for its honeyed earthy notes. Instead of exact amounts we rely on ratios. Plan on 1 part quince purée to 1 part (or a little less) sugar, and for every 3 quince plan on 3 long peppers, half a lemon and a small pinch of saffron. A few black peppercorns can be substituted for the long peppers.

• Quince
• Indian long pepper (optional)
• White sugar
• Lemon
• Saffron (optional)
• Bay leaves (optional)
• Cooking spray
• Parchment paper
• Offset spatula
• Wax paper

Prepare the Quince
Scrub the quince then slice off and discard a quarter inch of the blossom end of each fruit. Cut the fruits in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Roughly chop the quince and place in a large pot along with one long pepper for each quince. Cover the quince with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 30-40 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain, reserving both quince and long pepper. Purée the quince along with 1 long pepper for every 3 fruits. At this point the quince will have oxidized slightly, changing from white to slightly brown.

Cook the Purée: Part I
Combine the purée and an equal volume of sugar in a large pot. For every three quince also add the juice and zest of half a lemon and a pinch of saffron. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and continue to cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. We recommend loosely placing a piece of foil over the pot as the purée may splatter. Also, membrillo’s characteristic rosy orange color is related to heat. There is nothing wrong with pale membrillo but if you want a darker product, increase the heat and be vigilant with your stirring as the thickened purée will scorch.

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Cook the Purée: Part II
After about 2 hours the purée will have noticeably thickened. At this point stir constantly, slightly increasing the heat to medium-low. Separately, prepare a deep baking tray by lining it with parchment paper and giving it a spray with cooking spray. When you can drag a spoon across the bottom of the pan without the “parted sea” filling in, the purée is ready for the next step. Be patient.

Cook the Purée: Part III
Carefully pour the thickened purée into the prepared baking tray. Using an offset spatula coated with cooking spray, evenly distribute the purée. Next, place the baking tray in an oven pre-heated to 150° F / 65° C and bake for 1 hour or until quite firm. If your oven’s lowest temperature is greater than 150° F / 65° C, jamb the door slightly ajar with a spoon.

Finishing the Membrillo
After an hour turn the oven’s heat off but allow the membrillo to completely cool while it remains in the oven. Once cooled, remove the solid block of membrillo from the baking sheet and cut into portions (a pizza cutter works well). Press a bay leaf into each portion and wrap with waxed paper. Membrillo can be stored in the refrigerator for several months or even longer in the freezer. Serve with cheese, spread on bread, or use as a filling in pastries.

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October 15th
6:23 AM EST
We’re pleased to announce that 500 Tasty Sandwiches’ founder is getting married this weekend!In case you were wondering, yes, there will be tacos at the reception.

We’re pleased to announce that 500 Tasty Sandwiches’ founder is getting married this weekend!

In case you were wondering, yes, there will be tacos at the reception.

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October 14th
2:41 PM EST

Making bagels by hand in Brooklyn, NY (1979).

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October 13th
6:19 AM EST

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We were introduced to the enchanting Indian sweet soan papdi* years ago and have wanted to incorporate its flavor profile into a familiar Western dessert ever since. Shortbread is the perfect canvas for such an endeavor and we feel the addition of coconut, pistachios, cardamom, aniseed and cassia results in a phenomenal East-West dessert. Just in time for Diwali, 500 Tasty Sandwiches presents its Soan Papdi Shortbread.

As much as we hate recipes that depend on expensive kitchen equipment, an electric stand mixer is essential for creating tender shortbread. We also use a bit of sweet rice flour to give the cookie a nice crispiness; if unavailable simply use a total of 2½ cups all-purpose flour.

• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (chilled), cubed
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, dry roasted
• 1/2 cup pistachios, crushed (but not pulverized)
• 5 green cardamom pods, crushed seeds only
• 1/2 teaspoon aniseed, dry roasted
• 1½ teaspoon ground cassia (or cinnamon)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 egg (room temperature), beaten (optional)
• Rock candy, crushed or coarse sanding sugar (optional)**
• Special equipment: stand mixer, 8”-diameter or 8” square cake pan, pastry brush, wire cooling rack

Preheat your oven to 350° F / 175° C and place rack in center. Separately, combine the butter, white sugar and confectioners’ sugar in the stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 9 minutes or until very light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add flour, coconut, pistachios, cardamom, aniseed, cassia and vanilla. Mix until dough is uniform. Note that shortbread dough will be crumbly – resist the temptation to over-mix or add moisture.

Press the dough into the cake pan. For a golden top, brush the shortbread’s surface with egg and sprinkle with crushed rock candy. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the shortbread pulls from the side of the pan. Allow the shortbread to cool before inverting the pan on a wire cooling rack. Invert once more onto a plate and either cut into pieces or serve as a break-apart treat.
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*Soan papdi has an interesting texture (similar to halva) that is at once feathery and dense. Ingredients include gram (i.e., chickpea) flour, ghee (our recipe here), milk and cardamom and the sweet is traditionally served during Dawali, the Hindu festival of lights. For 2014, Dawali begins on Thursday, October 23.
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**The test kitchen uses Chinese rock candy which is available at most larger Asian grocery stores. It goes by various names like crystal sugar, lump sugar, rock sugar, ice candy and, in Chinese, bing tang (冰糖). It is quite hard and we use a metal meat hammer to break it into manageable pieces. We then transfer these pieces to a mortar and pestle to create even smaller pieces. Avoid rock sugar sold in gourmet shops for tea and coffee as it is very expensive.

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October 9th
7:11 AM EST

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This Halloween why not try some of our scariest (don’t worry – they’re still tasty) recipes. After baking, our Grissini Neri, Italian breadsticks made with squid ink, look like bones. And if you’re going experiment with squid ink you might as well try our delicious Linguine al Nero di Seppia, squid ink pasta and striking Pizza della Vedova made with arugula and pearl bocconcini mozzarella.

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We’ve got cocktails covered, too. Our Spiked Pie features pumpkin pie soda and Kraken rum while our Margarita Esotérica gets its unique flavor from Velvet Falernum and mezcal. While you have the mezcal out, fix one of our favorite cocktails, the smoky and spicy Cinder.

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Then there’s our Devil’s Cauldron, a fantastic spicy dish of black rice and chicken seasoned with red pepper and wine. And if you’re feeling twisted, serve some Bear’s Paw. Don’t worry, it’s vegetarian. Or is it?

Finally, we won’t lie: our favorite Halloween treat is the divine combination of candy corn and roasted salted peanuts.

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October 8th
7:48 AM EST
Title: Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Schools do not open until the potatoes are harvestedPhotographer: Jack DelanoDate: October 1940Notes: Title from FSA or OWI agency caption. Transfer from U.S. Office of War Information, 1944Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.Part Of: Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Collection 12002-51 (DLC) 93845501

Title: Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Schools do not open until the potatoes are harvested

Photographer: Jack Delano

Date: October 1940

Notes: Title from FSA or OWI agency caption. Transfer from U.S. Office of War Information, 1944

Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Part Of: Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Collection 12002-51 (DLC) 93845501

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October 6th
10:00 AM EST

Roasted Curried Whole Cauliflower

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Roasted whole cauliflower has become quite the trendy menu item. Flavorful, meaty in texture, and gorgeous on the plate, they’re actually worth all the hype (unlike, say, cupcakes). Consider our recipe a template – master the method then have fun with the ingredients. We select smaller cauliflower heads from the farmers market for quicker roasting times and more practical serving options.

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• 3 small whole cauliflower heads
• 1 teaspoon cayenne
• 1 tablespoon cumin (more/less to taste)
• 2 teaspoons garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1½ cups plain Indian or Greek (i.e., thick) yogurt
• Zest and juice of 1 lime
• Cooking spray or about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat your oven to 400° F / 205° C and prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with cooking spray or applying a thin coating of vegetable oil. Separately, whisk together the dry spices. In a bowl combine the yogurt, lime juice and lime zest and fold in the spice mixture. 

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Remove the outer leaves of the cauliflowers, if any, and enough of the stem so that each head can sit evenly on a baking tray. Dip the cauliflower heads in the yogurt mixture and use your finger to ensure the entire head is evenly coated.

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Place the cauliflower on the baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes or until the yogurt mixture is near-dry to the touch and forms a nice crust. Remove from the oven and allow the cauliflower to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Small heads can be served whole or sliced in half or in quarters.

Note: Save the extra yogurt mixture for marinating proteins or other vegetables.

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October 2nd
3:32 PM EST

Pork Knuckles and Weisswurst: MUNCHIES Presents Oktoberfest

When it comes to beer, Oktoberfest is the ultimate destination—but with brews at center stage, most visitors forget to eat their way through the delicious food stands. Host Michel Niknafs travels to Munich to explore the culinary aspects of the world’s biggest folk festival.

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October 1st
12:25 PM EST
Hungry for more? Follow 500 Tasty Sandwiches on Facebook and Twitter!

Hungry for more? Follow 500 Tasty Sandwiches on Facebook and Twitter!

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September 29th
6:18 AM EST

Spicy Northern-Style Tofu | Guo Ta Dou Fu (鍋塌豆腐)

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Spicy Northern Style Tofu (鍋塌豆腐, guo ta dou fu) is second only to Korean Yangnyom Dobu (양념 두부; our recipe here) as the test kitchen’s favorite tofu dish. The tofu’s delicate golden exterior wonderfully contrasts with its silken interior. But what we really love is the sauce. The sauce! At its base is Pixian doubanjiang (郫县豆瓣酱), a special fermented chili and broad bean paste from China’s Sichuan region which provides the sauce with its layers of complex savory, earthy and spicy flavors along with a subtle sweetness. We add a bit of Sichuan pepper (花椒)for its characteristic numbing heat known as málà (麻辣) and sesame oil for warmth and richness. The only thing that prevents us from making this dish more often is the fact that it is fried and therefore a bit messy.

• 1 block of extra firm tofu (approximately 16 oz / 454 g)
• Peanut oil for frying
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 tablespoon minced ginger
• 1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper (花椒), dry roasted and ground
• 1½ cups chicken stock (our recipe here)
• 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
• 2 tablespoons Sichuan chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
• 1/2 teaspoon white sugar or pulverized Chinese rock sugar (冰糖)
• 1 teaspoon sesame oil
• 2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
• Special equipment: candy/fry thermometer

Prepare the Tofu
For best results, remove as much moisture from the tofu before frying. Wrap the entire block in paper towel and place between two plates. Stack a heavy book on top of the plate and allow the tofu to drain for 20 minutes. Unwrap and slice into rectangles approximately 1½” long, 1/2” wide and 1/2” thick (4 cm x 1.25 cm x 1.25).

Fry the Tofu
Get organized for frying: have at the ready separate bowls filled with cornstarch and egg. Separately, bring a pot of oil (we prefer using a smaller pot – less oil – which requires, however, working in batches) to 375°F / 190°C. When the oil’s temperature is stable, gently toss the tofu in the cornstarch, dip into the egg and drop into the oil. Only prepare the tofu immediately before you fry it. Once the tofu is golden remove with a slotted spoon or kitchen spider (pictured) and transfer to paper towel to absorb excess oil. Pierce each piece of fried tofu with a fork.

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The Sauce
In a separate pan fry the ginger and Sichuan pepper in a bit of oil until fragrant, just a few seconds. Next, add the stock and whisk in the Shaoxing wine, chili bean paste and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a vigorous simmer. Fold in the tofu and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, remove the pan from the heat, drizzle the sesame oil over the tofu and give it a final stir. Transfer the tofu to a serving dish and garnish with scallion. Serve with steamed rice.

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