Chocolate

Worth its Salt

Kicking up chocolate with a savory crunch

by

When I was in culinary school, I learned that the tools of any pastry chef are flour, butter, milk, and eggs. With these four ingredients, you can make nearly anything in a pastry shop: flaky croissants, moist cakes, toothsome breads and more. The ingredients are few; the execution nuanced and complex.

Similarly, with two basic ingredients: cacao beans and sugar, plus the occasional dash of lecithin or vanilla, bean-to-bar chocolate makers create chocolate. Cacao beans are fermented, dried, roasted, and crushed into small pieces called nibs. The nibs are then ground into a paste, to which sugar and lecithin is added, and the resulting chocolate is refined until it’s silky smooth.

In the examples below, these chocolate companies add salt and nibs to their chocolate. The result is chocolate in two forms—the kind that melts on your tongue, plus the kind that crunches between your teeth—kicked up with a salty crackle. And tasters diligent (or curious) enough to pry the nibs from the bar can taste chocolate’s more primitive form.
MORE

The Larder homemade soft pretzels

When I was first out of college, I spent exactly $.85 on breakfast each morning. On my way to work, I’d stop at the food truck parked outside the front door of the building and order a small coffee with cream and a soft pretzel. I’d hand over a short stack of quarters and dimes and get a brown paper sack with my order tucked neatly inside.

By the time I got to my desk, the pretzel would be slightly warm from the coffee and ready to shed large grains of salt all over my keyboard. I loved the ritual of starting my day that way.

Pretzels, whether hard or soft, have long been a staple in my life. When I was young, skinny pretzel sticks were the first solid food my sister and I would be allowed to have after a bought of stomach flu. Throughout high school, I bought those terrible, long-frozen-and-defrosted Super Pretzels from the cafeteria as an afterschool snack. And during college, my roommates and I would devour large bags of crunchy mini-twists during our study sessions, thinking them a healthier snack than the potato chips we truly craved. MORE

New Nordic TM_NN_NNHOME_FI_001

Raw shrimp, moss foam, pine oil, and unfamiliar herbs. These are the hallmarks of a bigger trend currently sweeping Nordic-inspired restaurants all around the world. As a Dane I tend to ask myself: are these really the only things people should associate with the New Nordic Cuisine?

I say, emphatically, no. In fact, I am on a mission to show the world what New Nordic Cuisine can mean to a home cook. I’ve been teaching cooking classes on the topic for several years, and I’m surrounded daily by the research and development of the New Nordic diet and cuisine at my home university in Copenhagen, where I’m a graduate student in Food Science and Technology. The research underway is mainly focused on the potential nutritional benefits of the New Nordic diet. MORE

The Larder

Flavored Salts

Simple seasonings make a big difference

by

I grew up in a household where there was just one kind of salt. It was your basic, run of the mill iodized table salt. My mom kept ours in a vintage ceramic shaker that lived by the stove. It didn’t then occur to me that salt could come in any other format.

I discovered kosher salt in my 20s. By that point, I was living in Philadelphia and had taken something of a shine to food television. I watched Nigella Lawson, Rachael Ray and Sara Moulton with something close to religious dedication. One thing I began to notice that they all had in common was the way they salted their food. They used kosher salt, kept it in a small bowl by the stove and added it by the pinch, not the shake.

Since those early days, I’ve added a number of different salts to my kitchen.  I use fine sea salt on popcorn and prepare a chicken for roasting with coarse sea salt. I add smoked salts to savory jams for a bit of campfire char and keep moist gray salt on the table for mealtimes. However, one of the very best things I learned about salt is that it takes nearly no effort to infuse it with various flavors right in your kitchen. MORE