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Alice Waters, the patron saint of all foods good and green, has banned bottled water from her legendary restaurant Chez Panisse. Most bottled water brands are owned by two giants, Coca Cola and Nestle. But that’s not the issue. It turns out that public water systems, regulated by the EPA, undergo testing for bacteria and contaminants several times a day. The FDA, though, controls bottled water, and only requires a once weekly test of the source, the results of which can be kept private. So restaurants from NYC to SF Bay are going back to filtered tap water, and even converting it to sparking water in-house. This makes such good sense at home, too. With tap water, you help keep the recycling bin clear, and you’re drinking locally (instead of trucking in water to grocery stores from some distant plant, then driving to the store yourself to buy plastic bottles of the stuff, and sending the empties on yet another journey to a recycling center or landfill. By the way, if you do have plastic water bottles on hand, fill them up and stick them in your fridge. They’ll keep the refrigerator from working so hard to chill the vacant spaces, and you can always pull them out when you need more room.
This nutty, nutritious sandwich travels well for lunches and picnics because it uses ingredients that don't spoil quickly. Even the youngest of young chefs can help make this sandwich, but adults may need to chop the apple and toast the nuts and seeds. To toast and skin the hazelnuts ahead of time, see the "Toasting and skinning hazelnuts" sidebar or substitute bits of pecans, walnuts, or cashews instead.
Toast and crush hazelnuts into small bits (see the "Toasting, skinning, and crushing hazelnuts" below).
Shred 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, or use pre-shredded cheese.
For the most flavor, toast and bruise 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (see the "Toasting seeds and spices" below). Or, use untoasted caraway seeds.
Ingredients and steps:
1 medium Granny Smith or other tart apple 1/2 cup crushed, toasted hazelnuts 1/4 cup plain yogurt 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard, or mustard of preference 1/2 teaspoon toasted caraway seeds 2 pita breads Lettuce leaves, as desired
Core and coarsely chop the apple into small bits, about 1/4 to 1/2-inch in size. Place in medium mixing bowl.
Stir in the crushed hazelnuts and yogurt.
Stir in the cheese, mustard, and caraway seeds.
Cut each pita in half and fill each pocket with the apple mixture and a piece of lettuce.
Vary It! Try the following variations:
For a sweeter taste, use honey-mustard.
Serve the spread on rye bread to enhance the caraway flavor.
Try different cheeses.
Replace the caraway seed with toasted cumin or fennel seed.
Serve the mixture as a salad, on shredded lettuce.
Meal Morphing: To meal-morph the main ingredients into a differently seasoned salad, triple the amounts of apple, yogurt and hazelnuts. After Step 2 in this recipe, reserve 2/3 of the mixture and use it in Yogurt-Waldorf Salad.
Toasting, skinning, and crushing hazelnuts
Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are sweet and flavorful with a thin, brown skin that must be removed before using them in salads, sauces, desserts, and other recipes. If you can't find already-skinned hazelnuts, remove the skin yourself by spreading the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a 275 degrees oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the skin cracks all over and begins to flake off.
At this point, kids can be a big help by rubbing the nuts in an old, clean towel -- the skins slip off easily (do this outdoors for easy clean-up). Don't be concerned if some of the skin stays on -- iit adds a pleasant contrasting color and flavor. To crush hazelnuts into smaller pieces, place them in a plastic bag and smash them with the side of a can or rolling pin. After skinning, store the prepared hazelnuts in a zipper bag in the freezer. Look for hazelnuts in bulk at whole food stores and some farmers' markets.
Toasting seeds and spices
Toasting spices such as whole caraway, fennel, cardamom, and cumin seeds brings out their flavorful oils. To do this, try the following:
Toast the seeds in a small, dry skillet on medium heat, shaking the pan often, until the seeds release their aroma and darken slightly (this can take from a few seconds to three minutes - different spices release their oils at different times).
Be careful not to burn the seeds, which gives them a bitter taste. If they taste bitter, discard them and start again.
To further draw out the toasted flavor, bruise or crush the seeds on a cutting board with a rolling pin, or in a mortar and pestle. To grind them to a fine powder, use a clean electric coffee bean grinder or mortar and pestle.
Did you now that roughly 14.1 million children in the U.S. live in poverty? We at Domino Sugar have teamed up with Share our Strength to help fight childhood hunger! You can get involved in the cause by holding a bake sale in your community. Have any of you taken part in the Great American Bake Sale before?
My mother is a huge Olive Oil advocate. She has rubbed off on me and now Olive Oil is one of my main staples in cooking. I'm a firm believer in its health benefits and I enjoy the taste! Try it, you will be happy you did