Seafood of the Week – Abalone

October 22, 2013 at 9:44 AM | Posted in seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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Dorsal (left) and ventral (right) views of the blacklip abalone

Dorsal (left) and ventral (right) views of the blacklip abalone

 

Abalone (æbəloʊniː/ or /ˌæbəˈloʊniː/; via Spanish abulón, from the (Rumsen language) aulón), is a common name for any of a group of small to very large edible sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Haliotidae. Other common names are ear shells, sea ears, and muttonfish or muttonshells in Australia, ormer in Great Britain, Abalone and venus’s-ears in South Africa, and pāua in New Zealand.
The family Haliotidae contains only one genus, Haliotis, which contains about 4 to 7 subgenera. The number of species recognized worldwide ranges between 30 and 130 with over 230 species-level taxa described. The most comprehensive treatment of the family considers 56 species valid, with 18 additional subspecies.
The shells of abalones have a low open spiral structure, and are characterized by several open respiratory pores in a row near the shell’s outer edge. The thick inner layer of the shell is composed of nacre (mother-of-pearl), which in many species is highly iridescent, giving rise to a range of strong changeable colors, which make the shells attractive to humans as decorative objects, jewelry, and as a source of colorful mother-of-pearl.
The flesh of abalones is widely considered to be a desirable food, and is consumed raw or cooked in a variety of dishes.

 

 

Abalone with a live sponge in its shell

Abalone with a live sponge in its shell

The shell of abalones is convex, rounded to oval shape, and may be highly arched or very flattened. The shell is generally ear-shaped, presenting a small flat spire and two to three whorls. The last whorl (known as the body whorl) is auriform, meaning that the shell resembles an ear, giving rise to the common name “ear shell”. The “ass’s ear” abalone has a somewhat different shape, as it is more elongated and distended. The shell of Haliotis cracherodii cracherodii Leach, 1814 is also unusual: it has an ovate form, it is imperforate, shows an exserted spire, and has prickly ribs.
A mantle cleft in the shell impresses a groove in the shell, in which are the row of holes characteristic of the genus. They are respiratory apertures for venting water from the gills and for releasing sperm and eggs into the water column. These holes make up what is known as the selenizone which form as the shell grows. This series of 8 to 38 holes is near the anterior margin. Only a small number are generally open. The older holes are gradually sealed up as the shell grows and new holes form. Each abalone species has a typical number of open holes in the selenizone. There are four to ten of these holes, depending on the species. Abalone have no operculum. The aperture of the shell is very wide and nacreous.
The exterior of the shell is striated and dull. The color of the shell is very variable from species to species, and may reflect the animal’s diet. The iridescent nacre that lines the inside of the shell varies in color from silvery white, to pink, red and green-red, through to Haliotis iris, which shows predominantly deep blues, greens and purples.
The animal shows fimbriated[disambiguation needed] head-lobes. The side-lobes are fimbriated and cirrated. The rounded foot is very large. The radula has small median teeth, and the lateral teeth are single and beam-like. There are about 70 uncini, with denticulated hooks, the first four very large. The soft body is coiled around the columellar muscle, and its insertion, instead of being on the columella, is on the middle of the inner wall of the shell. The gills are symmetrical and both well developed.
These snails cling solidly with their broad muscular foot to rocky surfaces at sublittoral depths, although some species such as Haliotis cracherodii used to be common in the intertidal zone. Abalones reach maturity at a relatively small size. Their fecundity is high and increases with their size (from 10,000 to 11 million eggs at a time). The spermatozoa are filiform and pointed at one end, and the anterior end is a rounded head.
The larvae are lecithotrophic (i.e. feed off a yolk sac). The adults are herbivorous and feed with their rhipidoglossan radula on macroalgae, preferring red or brown algae. Sizes vary from 20 mm (Haliotis pulcherrima) to 200 mm (or even more) (Haliotis rufescens).
Abalones are herbivorous on hard substrata.
By weight, approximately 1/3 of the animal is edible meat, 1/3 is offal, and 1/3 is shell.

 

 

The haliotid family has a worldwide distribution, along the coastal waters of every continent, except the Atlantic coast of South America, the Caribbean, and the East Coast of the United States. The majority of abalone species are found in cold waters, off the Southern Hemisphere coasts of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, and Western North America and Japan in the Northern Hemisphere.
However, the species of sea snail which is known in the seafood trade as the “Chilean abalone“, Concholepas concholepas, is from another family altogether. It is not a true abalone, but a carnivorous muricid, or rock snail. It lives in rocky areas.

 

 

The meat (foot muscle) of abalone is used for food, and the shells of abalone are used as decorative items and as a source of mother of pearl for jewelry, buttons, buckles, and inlay. Abalone shells have been found in archaeological sites around the world, ranging from 75,000 year old deposits at Blombos Cave in South Africa to historic Chinese abalone middens on California’s Northern Channel Islands. On the Channel Islands, where abalones were harvested by Native Americans for at least 12,000 years, the size of red abalone shells found in middens declines significantly after about 4000 years ago, probably due to human predation. Worldwide, abalone pearls have also been collected for centuries.

 

 

An abalone farm

An abalone farm

Farming of abalone began in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Japan and China. Since the mid-1990s, there have been many increasingly successful endeavors to commercially farm abalone for the purpose of consumption. Over-fishing and poaching have reduced wild populations to such an extent that farmed abalone now supplies most of the abalone meat consumed. The principal abalone farming regions are China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Abalone is also farmed in Australia, Hawaii, Canada, Chile, France, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States.

 

 

Abalone have long been a valuable food source for humans in every area of the world where a species is abundant.
The meat of this mollusk is considered a delicacy in certain parts of Latin America (especially Chile), France, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and East Asia (especially in China, Japan, and Korea). In Chinese speaking regions, abalone are commonly known as bao yu, and sometimes forms part of a Chinese banquet. Similar to shark fin soup or bird’s nest soup, it is considered a luxury item, and is traditionally reserved for special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations. However, the availability of commercially farmed abalone has allowed more common consumption of this once rare delicacy.
In Japan, live and raw abalone are used in awabi sushi, or served steamed, salted, boiled, chopped, or simmered in soy sauce. Salted, fermented abalone entrails are the main component of tottsuru, a local dish from Honshū. Tottsuru is mainly enjoyed with sake.
In California, abalone meat can be found on pizza, sautéed with caramelized mango or in steak form dusted with cracker meal and flour.

 

Braised abalones

Braised abalones

 

Sport harvesting of red abalone is permitted with a California fishing license and an abalone stamp card. New in 2008, the abalone card also comes with a set of 24 tags. Legal-size abalone must be tagged immediately. Abalone may only be taken using breath-hold techniques or shorepicking; scuba diving for abalone is strictly prohibited. Taking of abalone is not permitted south of the mouth of the San Francisco Bay. There is a size minimum of seven inches (178 mm) measured across the shell and a quantity limit of three per day and 24 per year. A person may be in possession of only three abalone at any given time.
Abalone may only be taken from April to November, not including July. Transportation of abalone may only legally occur while the abalone is still attached in the shell. Sale of sport-obtained abalone is illegal, including the shell. Only red abalone may be taken; black, white, pink, and flat abalone are protected by law.
An abalone diver is normally equipped with a thick wetsuit, including a hood, bootees, and gloves, and usually also a mask, snorkel, weight belt, abalone iron, and abalone gauge. Alternatively, the rock picker can feel underneath rocks at low tides for abalone. Abalone are mostly taken in depths from a few inches up to 10 m (33 ft); less common are freedivers who can work deeper than 10 m (33 ft). Abalone are normally found on rocks near food sources (kelp). An abalone iron is used to pry the abalone from the rock before it can fully clamp down. Divers dive out of boats, kayaks, tube floats or directly off the shore.
The largest abalone recorded in California is 12.34 inches, caught by John Pepper somewhere off the coast of San Mateo county in September 1993.
The mollusc Concholepas concholepas is often sold in the United States under the name “Chilean abalone”, though it is not an abalone, but a muricid.

 

 

Abalones have been identified as one of the many classes of organism threatened with extinction due to overfishing, acidification of oceans from anthropogenic carbon dioxide, as reduced pH erodes their shells. It is predicted that abalones will become extinct in the wild within 200 years at current rates of carbon dioxide production.

 

 

Fall Harvest: Pomegranates

October 12, 2013 at 8:15 AM | Posted in fruits, vegetables | 2 Comments
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Pomegranates only ripen in warmer climates. They are in season starting in October and are usually available fresh through December.

 

A pomegranate fruit

A pomegranate fruit

The pomegranate /ˈpɒmɨɡrænɨt/, botanical name Punica granatum, is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between 5–8 meters (16–26 ft) tall.
The pomegranate is widely considered to have originated in the vicinity of Iran and has been cultivated since ancient times. Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, the Middle East and Caucasus region, northern Africa and tropical Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and the drier parts of southeast Asia. Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is also cultivated in parts of California and Arizona.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the fruit is typically in season from September to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, the pomegranate is in season from March to May.
The pomegranate has been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably in Babylonian texts, the Book of Exodus, the Homeric Hymns and the Quran. In recent years, it has become more common in the commercial markets of North America and the Western Hemisphere.
Pomegranates are used in cooking, baking, juices, smoothies and alcoholic beverages, such as martinis and wine.

 

 

The Punica granatum leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, glossy, narrow oblong, entire, 3–7 cm long and 2 cm broad. The flowers are bright red, 3 cm in diameter, with four to five petals (often more on cultivated plants). Some fruitless varieties are grown for the flowers alone. The edible fruit is a berry and is between a lemon and a grapefruit in size, 5–12 cm in diameter with a rounded hexagonal shape, and has thick reddish skin. The exact number of seeds in a pomegranate can vary from 200 to about 1400 seeds, contrary to some beliefs that all pomegranates have exactly the same number of seeds. Each seed has a surrounding water-laden pulp—the edible aril—ranging in color from white to deep red or purple. The seeds are embedded in a white, spongy, astringent membrane.

 

 

Pomegranate in cross section

Pomegranate in cross section

After the pomegranate is opened by scoring it with a knife and breaking it open, the arils (seed casings) are separated from the peel and internal white pulp membranes. Separating the red arils is easier in a bowl of water because the arils sink and the inedible pulp floats. Freezing the entire fruit also makes it easier to separate. Another very effective way of quickly harvesting the arils is to cut the pomegranate in half, score each half of the exterior rind four to six times, hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and smack the rind with a large spoon. The arils should eject from the pomegranate directly into the bowl, leaving only a dozen or more deeply embedded arils to remove.
The entire seed is consumed raw, though the watery, tasty aril is the desired part. The taste differs depending on the subspecies of pomegranate and its ripeness.

The entire seed is consumed raw, though the watery, tasty aril is the desired part. The taste differs depending on the subspecies of pomegranate and its ripeness. The pomegranate juice can be very sweet or sour, but most fruits are moderate in taste, with sour notes from the acidic tannins contained in the aril juice. Pomegranate juice has long been a popular drink in Armenian, Persian and Indian cuisine, and began to be widely distributed in the United States and Canada in 2002.
Grenadine syrup is thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice and is used in cocktail mixing. Before tomatoes (a New World fruit) arrived in the Middle East, grenadine was widely used in many Iranian foods, and is still found in traditional recipes such as fesenjān, a thick sauce made from pomegranate juice and ground walnuts, usually spooned over duck or other poultry and rice, and in ash-e anar (pomegranate soup).

Wild pomegranate seeds are used as a spice known as anardana (from Persian: anar + dana, pomegranate + seed), most notably in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, but also as a substitute for pomegranate syrup in Persian cuisine. Dried whole arils can often be obtained in ethnic Indian subcontinent markets. These seeds are separated from the flesh, dried for 10–15 days and used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry preparation. Ground anardana is also used, which results in a deeper flavoring in dishes and prevents the seeds from getting stuck in teeth. Seeds of the wild pomegranate variety known as daru from the Himalayas are regarded as quality sources for this spice.
Dried pomegranate arils, found in some natural specialty food markets, still contain the seed and residual aril water, maintaining a natural sweet and tart flavor. Dried arils can be used in several culinary applications, such as trail mix, granola bars, or as a topping for salad, yogurt, or ice cream. Chocolate covered arils may be added to desserts and baked items.
In the Caucasus, pomegranate is used mainly as juice. In Azerbaijan, a sauce from pomegranate juice (narsharab) is usually served with fish or tika kabab. In Turkey, pomegranate sauce (Turkish: nar ekşisi) is used as a salad dressing, to marinate meat, or simply to drink straight. Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads and sometimes as garnish for desserts such as güllaç. Pomegranate syrup or molasses is used in muhammara, a roasted red pepper, walnut, and garlic spread popular in Syria and Turkey.
In Greece, pomegranate (Greek: ρόδι, rodi) is used in many recipes, including kollivozoumi, a creamy broth made from boiled wheat, pomegranates and raisins, legume salad with wheat and pomegranate, traditional Middle Eastern lamb kebabs with pomegranate glaze, pomegranate eggplant relish, and avocado-pomegranate dip. Pomegranate is also made into a liqueur, and as a popular fruit confectionery used as ice cream topping, mixed with yogurt, or spread as jam on toast. In Cyprus and Greece, and among the Greek Orthodox Diaspora, ρόδι (Greek for pomegranate) is used to make koliva, a mixture of wheat, pomegranate seeds, sugar, almonds and other seeds served at memorial services.
In Mexico, they are commonly used to adorn the traditional dish chiles en nogada, representing the red of the Mexican flag in the dish which evokes the green (poblano pepper), white (nogada sauce) and red (pomegranate arils) tricolor.

 

Green salad with roast beef, pomegranate vinaigrette, and lemon juice

Green salad with roast beef, pomegranate vinaigrette, and lemon juice

 
In preliminary laboratory research and clinical trials, juice of the pomegranate may be effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation. In mice, “oxidation of LDL by peritoneal macrophages was reduced by up to 90% after pomegranate juice consumption…”.
In a limited study of hypertensive patients, consumption of pomegranate juice for two weeks was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme. Juice consumption may also inhibit viral infections while pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.
Despite limited research data, manufacturers and marketers of pomegranate juice have liberally used evolving research results for product promotion, especially for putative antioxidant health benefits. In February 2010, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to one such manufacturer, POM Wonderful, for using published literature to make illegal claims of unproven antioxidant and anti-disease benefits.

 

 

 

Fall Harvest: Persimmon

October 11, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Posted in fruits | 1 Comment
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Persimmons are available for a short window in the fall and early winter – look for bright, heavy-feeling fruits.

A branch heavily laden with persimmons

A branch heavily laden with persimmons

Persimmons are the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. Diospyros is in the family Ebenaceae. In color the ripe fruit of the cultivated strains range from light yellow-orange to dark red-orange depending on the species and variety. They similarly vary in size from 1.5 to 9 cm (0.5 to 4 in) in diameter, and in shape the varieties may be spherical, acorn-, or pumpkin-shaped. The calyx generally remains attached to the fruit after harvesting, but becomes easy to remove once the fruit is ripe. The ripe fruit has a high glucose content. The protein content is low, but it has a balanced protein profile. Persimmon fruits have been put to various medicinal and chemical uses.
Like the tomato, persimmons are not popularly considered to be berries, but in terms of botanical morphology the fruit is in fact a berry.

Commercially and in general, there are two types of persimmon fruit: astringent and non-astringent.
The heart-shaped Hachiya is the most common variety of astringent persimmon. Astringent persimmons contain very high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatably astringent (or “furry” tasting) if eaten before completely softened. However, the sweet, delicate flavor of fully ripened persimmons of varieties that are astringent when unripe, is particularly relished. The astringency of tannins is removed in various ways. Examples include ripening by exposure to light for several days, and wrapping the fruit in paper (probably because this increases the ethylene concentration of the surrounding air). Ethylene ripening can be increased in reliability and evenness, and the process can be greatly accelerated, by adding ethylene gas to the atmosphere in which the fruit are stored. For domestic purposes the most convenient and effective process is to store the ripening persimmons in a clean, dry container together with other varieties of fruit that give off particularly large quantities of ethylene while they are ripening; apples and related fruits such as pears are effective, and so are bananas and several others. Other chemicals are used commercially in artificially ripening persimmons or delaying their ripening. Examples include alcohol and carbon dioxide which change tannin into the insoluble form. Such bletting processes sometimes are jumpstarted by exposing the fruit to cold or frost. The resultant cell damage stimulates the release of ethylene, which promotes cellular wall breakdown.

One traditional misconception is that persimmons are to be ripened till rotten. This is a confusion of the processes of controlled ripening with the processes of decay, possibly arising from problems of translation from Asiatic languages onto English. Rotting is the action of microorganisms such as fungi, and rotting persimmons are no better than any other rotting fruit. Sound persimmons should be ripened till they are fully soft, except that the carpels still might be softly chewy. At that stage the skin might be splitting and the calyx can easily be plucked out of the fruit before serving, which often is a good sign that the soft fruit is ready to eat.
Astringent varieties of persimmons also can be prepared for commercial purposes by drying. Tanenashi fruit will occasionally contain a seed or two, which can be planted and will yield a larger more vertical tree than when merely grafted onto the D. virginiana rootstock most commonly used in the U.S. Such seedling trees may produce fruit that bears more seeds, usually 6 to 8 per fruit, and the fruit itself may vary slightly from the parent tree. Seedlings are said to be more susceptible to root nematodes.
The non-astringent persimmon is squat like a tomato and is most commonly sold as fuyu. Non-astringent persimmons are not actually free of tannins as the term suggests, but rather are far less astringent before ripening, and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Non-astringent persimmons may be consumed when still very firm, and remain edible when very soft.
There is a third type, less commonly available, the pollination-variant non-astringent persimmons. When fully pollinated, the flesh of these fruit is brown inside—known as goma in Japan—and the fruit can be eaten firm. These varieties are highly sought after and can be found at specialty markets or farmers markets only. Tsurunoko, sold as “chocolate persimmon” for its dark brown flesh, Maru, sold as “cinnamon persimmon” for its spicy flavor, and Hyakume, sold as “brown sugar” are the three best known.
Before ripening, persimmons usually have a “chalky” taste or bitter taste.

A ripe hachiya persimmon fruit

A ripe hachiya persimmon fruit

Persimmons are eaten fresh, dried, raw, or cooked. When eaten fresh they are usually eaten whole like an apple or cut into quarters, though with some varieties it is best to peel the skin first. One way to consume very ripe persimmons, which can have the texture of pudding, is to remove the top leaf with a paring knife and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Riper persimmons can also be eaten by removing the top leaf, breaking the fruit in half and eating from the inside out. The flesh ranges from firm to mushy, and the texture is unique. The flesh is very sweet and when firm due to being unripe, possesses an apple-like crunch. American persimmons and diospyros digyna are completely inedible until they are fully ripe.
In China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam after harvesting, ‘Hachiya’ persimmons are prepared using traditional hand-drying techniques, outdoors for two to three weeks. The fruit is then further dried by exposure to heat over several days before being shipped to market.

In Korea, dried persimmon fruits are used to make the traditional Korean spicy punch, sujeonggwa, while the matured, fermented fruit is used to make a persimmon vinegar called gamsikcho (감식초). The hoshigaki tradition traveled to California with Japanese American immigrants.
In Taiwan, fruits of astringent varieties are sealed in jars filled with limewater to get rid of bitterness. Slightly hardened in the process, they are sold under the name “crisp persimmon” (cuishi 脆柿) or “water persimmon” (shuishizi 水柿子). Preparation time is dependent upon temperature (5 to 7 days at 25–28 °C (77–82 °F)). In some areas of Manchuria and Korea, the dried leaves of the fruit are used for making tea. The Korean name for this tea is ghamnip cha (감잎차).
In the state of Indiana (US), persimmons are harvested and used in a variety of dessert dishes most notably pies. It can be used in cookies, cakes, puddings, salads, curries and as a topping for breakfast cereal. Persimmon pudding is a dessert using fresh persimmons. An annual persimmon festival, featuring a persimmon pudding contest, is held every September in Mitchell, Indiana. Persimmon pudding is a baked pudding that has the consistency of pumpkin pie but resembles a brownie and is almost always topped with whipped cream. Persimmons may be stored at room temperature 20 °C (68 °F) where they will continue to ripen. In northern China, unripe persimmons are frozen outside during winter to speed up the ripening process.

Compared to apples, persimmons have higher levels of dietary fiber, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese, but lower levels of copper and zinc. They also contain vitamin C and provitamin A beta-carotene (Nutrient table, right).
Persimmon fruits contain phytochemicals, such as catechin and gallocatechin, as well as compounds under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity, such as betulinic acid. In one study, a diet supplemented with dried, powdered triumph persimmons improved lipid metabolism in laboratory rats.

13 Fruits and Vegetables to Buy in Fall

September 20, 2013 at 8:30 AM | Posted in fruits, vegetables | Leave a comment
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From Reader’s Digest a guide to fruits and vegetables that are at their peaks in fall. I left the link at the bottom of the post.

 
13 Fruits and Vegetables to Buy in Fall
Just because summer is over, doesn’t mean you can’t buy fresh produce. Here are 13 fruits and vegetables that are at their peaks in fall.
1. Apples
Visit your local farmers’ market or take a trip to the apple farm for the freshest apples. They’re perfect for snacking, baking, and more…
2. Oranges
From Florida to California, autumn is the best time to enjoy this citrus favorite….
3. Grapes
Fall’s harvest brings in a bounty of grapes in all varieties. Either as a snack or made into your favorite jam, now is the perfect time to bag a bunch….
*Click the link below to see the entire list along with recipes.

 
http://www.rd.com/slideshows/13-fruits-and-vegetables-to-buy-in-fall/#slideshow=slide1

Fish of the Week – Pike (Esox)

July 2, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Posted in fish | 1 Comment
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Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only living genus in the family Esocidae—the esocids which were endemic to North America,

Northern pike (E. lucius)

Northern pike (E. lucius)

Europe and Eurasia during the Paleogene through present.
The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike. The species of this genus are known as pike and pickerel, and in heraldry they are usually called lucy.
The big pike species are native to the Palearctic and Nearctic ecozones, ranging across northern North America and from Western Europe to Siberia in Eurasia. They have been found in many urban lakes in Western Europe, reported to be in the Rostrum (Lucerne) and the Serpentine, (London).
Pike can grow to a maximum recorded length of 1.83 metres (6 ft 0 in), reaching a maximum recorded weight of 35 kilograms (77 lb). The UK record pike of 21 kilograms (46 lb) was caught on a Creek Chub Pikie lure by Roy Lewis at Llandegfedd Reservoir in Wales in 1992. Individuals have been reported to reach 30 years in age. All pike over 5 kilograms (11 lb) in body weight are females. They have the elongated, torpedo-like form of predatory fishes, with sharply-pointed heads and sharp teeth. Their coloration is typically grey-green with a mottled or spotted appearance with stripes along their back, perfectly camouflaged among weeds. Individual pike marking patterns are unique, like fingerprints.

 

 

The generic name Esox (pike fish) derives from the Greek ίσοξ (a kind of fish), itself a word of Celtic origin related to the Welsh eog and Irish Gaelic iasc (fish). Pliny uses the Latin form esox in reference to a large fish in the Rhine normally identified with lax (salmon). It is likely that Carolus Linnaeus‘s application of Esox to the pike is thus a misnomer. he English common name “pike” is an apparent shortening of “pike-fish”, in reference to its pointed head, Old English píc originally referring to a pickaxe. The plural of pike is pike.
A northern English and Lowland Scots name for the pike, ged, similarly derives from Old Norse gaddr (spike) (cf. the modern Swedish name for the pike, gädda, the Danish “gedde”, the Norwegian “gjedde” and Scottish Gaelic: geadais). The Dutch name for the pike (snoek) has been given to a wide variety of fish reminding sailors of the pike (see snoek, snook).
The English “pike” originally referred specifically to the adult fish, the diminutive form “pickerel” (now used to name some of the smaller pike, E. americanus and E. niger) referring to the young. The walleye (Sander vitreus) is sometimes called a pickerel by Gerard, but it is unrelated to the pike, being a member of the perch family (family Percidae). Pike are not to be confused with the unrelated pikeminnows (traditionally, and perhaps better, known as squawfish) of genus Ptychocheilus (family Cyprinidae) or pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) which is more akin to walleye than to pike. Pike are also called “Jackfish” in North America and informally “Slough Shark” in Western Canada.

 

 

Pike feed on a wide range of food sources, predominantly smaller shoal fish. Pike are also cannibalistic, sometimes preying upon smaller members of their own species.
They will also prey on insects and amphibians such as newts or frogs in times when their usual food is scarce, and occasionally on small mammals like moles or mice when caught water-borne. Small birds such as ducklings may become a target for hungry pike. Pike are also known to prey on swimming snakes.
They are, however, undeserving of their reputation for being overly vicious predators. There are few substantiated incidents of pike ‘attacks’ on people. Pike’s further reputation as a pest seems to lie predominately amongst anglers who seek more desirable species.

 

 

Effective methods for catching this hard-fighting fish include dead baits, live baits, and lure fishing. Pike can easily be damaged when handled since they are not as robust as their reputation would suggest. Colour of lure can be influenced by water clarity and weather conditions. Since pike have numerous sharp teeth it is wise to take extreme care when unhooking them. The use of a wet leather gauntlet and surgical forceps to remove hooks is highly recommended on safety grounds. If practising catch and release fishing, care for the pike should be the pike angler’s utmost concern. The formerly recommended practice of grasping a pike by its eye sockets (tragically interpreted as “its eyes”) resulted in countless released pike that quickly died from inability to see prey any longer.
The current recommended method of grasping pike is to close the hand firmly over the gill covers, and to make the period of handling as short as possible before release. Grabbing a pike by the gill covers is not feasible when a pike is very big, but it is easy to handle a pike by inserting the fingers at the bottom of the gill opening and grabbing the lower jaw. Big pike should also be supported at the belly. When a pike is held this way it is also easier to keep the mouth open to remove a hook. Many anglers now use special grips to grab the pike’s front lower jaw, which can add to the safety of an anglers because of the danger imposed by the hooks of the lure or tackle and the pike’s teeth. The Pike Anglers Club was formed in 1977 to campaign for the preservation of pike and the sport of pike fishing.
A practice known as gut hooking was previously widely used in catching pike. Upon taking the bait, the pike will hold it for a short time in its mouth as it moves off. The pike will then, usually, turn the bait in its mouth, so that it sits in alignment with its throat to ease swallowing. It is recommended that when pike fishing the process is not allowed to go this far and a strike is recommended as soon as a bite is indicated. For this it is necessary to attach hooks on the head side as well as the middle of the baitfish. Otherwise, what is known as gut hooking will result, which will normally kill or seriously injure the fish. Dutch research shows that cutting the line immediately when the fish is gut hooked will still give low mortality (14%). The hooks in the gut or stomach were either encapsulated or removed from the body.
Other methods of catching and handing pike that are now frowned upon are the gaff and the gag. The gaff is a metal hook on the end of a pole used to hook through the fish’s body in place of a more humane landing net. A gag is a device for holding open the pike’s mouth whilst unhooking. These are now illegal in Scotland, as they put a huge amount of pressure on a pike’s jaw, thus causing irreparable damage.
Catching a 10 kg pike, kymppihauki (Finnish for “ten pike”), is considered as “earning one’s spurs” as a fisherman in Finland.

 

 

Although generally known as a “sporting” quarry, some anglers release pike they have caught because the flesh is considered bony,

A caught pike

A caught pike

especially due to the substantial (epipleural) “Y-bones”. Larger fish are more easily filleted, and pike have a long and distinguished history in cuisine and are popular fare in Europe. Historical references to cooking pike go as far back as the Romans. The flesh is white and mild-tasting. Fishing for pike is said to be very exciting with their aggressive hits and aerial acrobatics. Pike are among the largest North American freshwater game fish.
Because of their prolific and predatory nature, laws have been enacted in some places to help stop the spread of northern pike outside of their native range. For instance, in the states of Maine and California, anglers are required, by law, to remove the head from a pike once it has been caught. In Alaska, pike are native north and west of the Alaska Range, but have been illegally introduced to the south central Alaska by game fishermen. In south central Alaska, there is no limit in most areas. Pike are seen as a threat to native wild stocks of salmon by some fishery managers.
Notably in Britain and Ireland, pike are greatly admired as a sporting fish and they are returned alive to the water in order to safeguard future sport and maintain the balance of a fishery.[clarification needed] The Pike Anglers Club has campaigned to preserve pike since 1977, arguing that the removal of pike from waters can lead to an explosion of smaller fish and to ensure pike removal stops, which is damaging to both the sport fishery and the environment.

 

Wild idea Buffalo recipe of the Week -Buffalo Piadina

May 1, 2013 at 7:49 AM | Posted in bison, Wild Idea Buffalo | 1 Comment
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A big thank you to Wild Idea Buffalo for another delicious Buffalo recipe. Don’t forget to check their site out for all the recipes and the online store for all Buffalo cuts and products.   http://wildideabuffalo.com

 

 

Buffalo Piadina
By: Jill O’Brien
(Serves 8 )

Piadina is Italian Flat bread that is delicious by itself or used in replace of bread to make a sandwich or as a crust for pizza. The dough is

Piadina Dough

Piadina Dough

wonderful to work with and the aroma will bring volunteer taste testers to your door. Great for easy entertaining, just prepare your crust, have toppings ready and have guests build their own!

Piadina Dough Ingredients:

1 pkg. quick yeast
½ cup warm water
½ cup flour
3 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Buffalo Piadina Toppings:

Wild Idea Buffalo Piadina Toppings

Wild Idea Buffalo Piadina Toppings

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 portabella mushroom, sliced
1 lb. Buffalo Italian Sausage, coarse crumbled and sautéed
4 Roma Tomatoes, sliced, sprinkle with salt & pepper
1 cup fresh basil, julienned
4 oz. parmesan, grated + more for passing

 

 

 

 

Directions

 

Mix yeast, water and ½ cup flour together.
Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Mixture will be double in size and bubble.

Wild Idea Buffalo Piadina

Wild Idea Buffalo Piadina

Add remaining flour, salt, water and olive oil, knead together for 5 minutes.
Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow dough to double in size. About 2 hours.
Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll out on a lightly floured surface into 8 inch circles.
Place grill tiles or bricks on grill grates and turn heat to 400*.
Place rolled dough on tiles and grill for 1 minute each side, or until dough has puffed slightly and become lightly browned. Keep grill lid closed during cooking.
Place crust on pizza stone or make individual pans of foiled parchment and top with favorite toppings. Keep toppings in balance so all flavors are equally represented.
Return prepared pizza to 400* grill. Close lid and continue to cook for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Remove from grill. Cut each pizza into 4. Serve with green salad for a complete meal.

 

Wine Pairing:

California, Estancia Merlot, Keyes Canyon Ranch 2009

Full fruit nose with hints of cherry and earth on the palate. Well rounded with a smooth, lingering finish.
http://wildideabuffalo.com/2012/buffalo-piadina/

One of America’s Favorites – Nuts

February 11, 2013 at 9:53 AM | Posted in nuts | Leave a comment
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A nut is a fruit composed of a hard shell and a seed, where the hard-shelled fruit does not open to release the seed (indehiscent). So,

Hazelnuts from the Common Hazel

Hazelnuts from the Common Hazel

while, in a culinary context, a wide variety of dried seeds are often called nuts, in a botanical context, only ones that include the indehiscent fruit are considered true nuts. The translation of “nut” in certain languages frequently requires paraphrases as the concept is ambiguous.
Most seeds come from fruits that naturally free themselves from the shell, unlike nuts such as hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns, which have hard shell walls and originate from a compound ovary. Culinary usage of the term is less restrictive, and some nuts as defined in food preparation, like pistachios and Brazil nuts, are not nuts in a botanical sense. Common usage of the term often refers to any hard-walled, edible kernel as a nut.
A nut in botany is a simple dry fruit with one seed (rarely two) in which the ovary wall becomes very hard (stony or woody) at maturity, and where the seed remains attached or fused with the ovary wall. Most nuts come from the pistils with inferior ovaries (see flower) and all are indehiscent (not opening at maturity). True nuts are produced, for example, by some plant families of the order Fagales.
Order Fagales
*Family Juglandaceae
Walnut (Juglans)
Hickory (Carya)
Wingnut (Pterocarya)
*Family Fagaceae
Beech (Fagus)
Chestnut (Castanea)
Oak (Quercus)
Stone-oak (Lithocarpus)
Tanoak (Notholithocarpus)
*Family Betulaceae
Hazel, Filbert (Corylus)
Hornbeam (Carpinus)

 
A small nut may be called a nutlet. Nutlet may refer to one of the following. In botany, this term specifically refers to a pyrena or pyrene, which is a seed covered by a stony layer, such as the kernel of a drupe.
A nut in cuisine is a much less restrictive category than a nut in botany, as the term is applied to many seeds that are not botanically true nuts. Any large, oily kernels found within a shell and used in food are commonly called nuts.
Nuts are an important source of nutrients for both humans and wildlife. Because nuts generally have a high oil content, they are a highly prized food and energy source. A large number of seeds are edible by humans and used in cooking, eaten raw, sprouted, or roasted as a snack food, or pressed for oil that is used in cookery and cosmetics. Nuts (or seeds generally) are also a significant source of nutrition for wildlife. This is particularly true in temperate climates where animals such as jays and squirrels store acorns and other nuts during the autumn to keep from starving during the late autumn, all of winter, and early spring.
Nuts used for food, whether true nut or not, are among the most common food allergens.
Some fruits and seeds that do not meet the botanical definition but are nuts in the culinary sense:
*Almonds are the edible seeds of drupe fruits — the leathery “flesh” is removed at harvest.
*Brazil nut is the seed from a capsule.
*Candlenut (used for oil) is a seed.
*Cashew is a seed.
*Chilean hazelnut or Gevuina
*Horse-chestnut is an inedible capsule.
*Macadamia is a creamy white kernel (Macadamia integrifolia and Macadamia tetraphylla).
*Malabar chestnut
*Mongongo
*Peanut is a seed and a legume of the family Fabaceae.
*Pine nut is the seed of several species of pine (coniferous trees).
*Pistachio is the seed of a thin-shelled drupe.
Several epidemiological studies have revealed that people who consume nuts regularly are less likely to suffer from coronary heart

A walnut, left, and its seed, right, having been removed from its pericarp

A walnut, left, and its seed, right, having been removed from its pericarp

disease (CHD). Nuts were first linked to protection against CHD in 1993.[6] Since then many clinical trials have found that consumption of various nuts such as almonds and walnuts can lower serum LDL cholesterol concentrations. Although nuts contain various substances thought to possess cardioprotective effects, scientists believe that their Omega 3 fatty acid profile is at least in part responsible for the hypolipidemic response observed in clinical trials.
In addition to possessing cardioprotective effects, nuts generally have a very low glycemic index (GI). Consequently, dietitians frequently recommend nuts be included in diets prescribed for patients with insulin resistance problems such as diabetes mellitus type 2.
One study found that people who eat nuts live two to three years longer than those who do not. However, this may be because people who eat nuts tend to eat less junk food.
Nuts contain the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic acids, and the fats in nuts for the most part are unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated fats. Nuts also provide Arginine, a substance that may help make the walls of the arteries more flexible and less prone to blockage from blood clot formation.
Many nuts are good sources of vitamins E and B2, and are rich in protein, folate, fiber, and essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium.
Nuts are most healthy in their raw form. The reason is that up to 15% of the healthy oils that naturally occur in nuts are lost during the roasting process. Roasting at high temperatures could also cause chemicals that advance the aging process to form.[citation needed]
Raw or unroasted walnuts were found to have twice as many antioxidants as other nuts. Although initial studies suggested that antioxidants might promote health, later large clinical trials did not detect any benefit and suggested instead that excess supplementation of antioxidant supplements is harmful.
The nut of the horse-chestnut tree (Aesculus species, especially Aesculus hippocastanum), is called a conker in the British Isles. Conkers are inedible because they contain toxic glucoside aesculin. They are used in a popular children’s game, known as conkers, where the nuts are threaded onto a strong cord and then each contestant attempts to break their opponent’s conker by hitting it with their own. Horse chestnuts are also popular slingshot ammunition.
Nuts were a major part of the human diet 780,000 years ago including the wild almond, prickly water lily, acorns, pistachio and water chestnut. Prehistoric humans developed an assortment of tools to crack open nuts during the pleistocene period. Aesculus californica was eaten by the Native Americans of California during famines after the toxic constituents were leached out.

One of America’s Favorites – the Corn Dog

September 4, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Posted in Hot Dogs | Leave a comment
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A corn dog is a hot dog sausage coated in a thick layer of cornmeal batter and deep fried in oil, although some are baked. Almost all

Corn Dog on a stick

corn dogs are served on wooden sticks, though some early versions had no stick.

There is some debate as to the exact origins of the corn dog; they appeared in some ways in the US by the 1920s, and were popularized nationally in the 1940s. A US patent filed in 1927, granted in 1929, for a Combined Dipping, Cooking, and Article Holding Apparatus, describes corn dogs, among other fried food impaled on a stick; it reads in part:
“I have discovered that articles of food such, for instance, as wieners, boiled ham, hard boiled eggs, cheese, sliced peaches, pineapples, bananas and like fruit, and cherries, dates, figs, strawberries, etc., when impaled on sticks and dipped in batter, which includes in its ingredients a self rising flour, and then deep fried in a vegetable oil at a temperature of about 390°F., the resultant food product on a stick for a handle is a clean, wholesome and tasty refreshment.”

In 300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles, author Linda Campbell Franklin states that a “Krusty Korn Dog baker” machine appeared in the 1929 Albert Pick-L. Barth wholesale catalog of hotel and restaurant supplies. The ‘korn dogs’ were baked in a corn batter and resembled ears of corn when cooked.

A number of current corn dog vendors lay claim that credit for the invention and/or popularization of the corn dog. Carl and Neil Fletcher lay such a claim, having introduced their “Corny Dogs” at the Texas State Fair sometime between 1938 and 1942. The Pronto Pup vendors at the Minnesota State Fair claim to have invented the corn dog in 1941. Cozy Dog Drive-in, in Springfield, Illinois, claims to have been the first to serve corn dogs on sticks, on June 16, 1946. Also in 1946, Dave Barham opened the first location of Hot Dog on a Stick at Muscle Beach, Santa Monica, California.

Corn dogs are often served as street food or as fast food. Some vendors or restaurateurs dip and fry their dogs just before serving. Corn

Corn dog (cross section)

dogs can also be found at almost any supermarket in North America as frozen food that can be heated and served. Some corn dog purveyors sell these premade frozen corn dogs which have been thawed and then fried again or browned in an oven. Premade frozen corn dogs can also be microwaved, but the cornbread coating will lack texture.[8][9] Corn dogs may be eaten plain or with a variety of condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, relish and mayonnaise.

Both vegetarian corn dogs and corn dog nuggets are made as meatless alternatives by many of the same companies that produce veggie dogs.
A breakfast version of the corn dog consists of a breakfast sausage deep-fried in a pancake batter.
In Argentina they are called panchukers and are sold mostly around train stations, and are more popular in the inner country cities. They are often consumed on the street, and may contain cheese. They are served with a number of sauces.
In Australia, a hot dog sausage on a stick, deep fried in batter, is known as a Dagwood Dog, Pluto Pup or Dippy Dog, depending on region.[citation needed] Variants exist that use wheat-based or corn-based batters.[10] These are not to be confused with the British and Australian battered sav, a saveloy deep fried in a wheat flour based batter, as used for fish and chips, which generally does not contain cornmeal.[11] In New Zealand and South Korea, a similar battered sausage on a stick is called a “hot dog”, whereas a “frankfurter” sausage in a long bun is referred to as an “American hot dog”.
In Japan, something like a corn dog can be found at many supermarkets and convenience stores as “American Dogs” for their American origin. These American Dogs, however use a wheat-flour based batter with no cornmeal at all.
In Canada, corn dogs may be referred to as “pogo sticks”, or “pogos”, after a popular brand name.
Another version comes with either melted cheese between the hot dog and the breading or the hot dog is replaced with a cheese-filled hot dog.
Yet another version is the “cornbrat” (or “corn brat”), which is a corn dog made with bratwurst instead of a wiener or hot dog.
Hot dogs can also so be covered in a potato and egg coating; fried and served on a stick like a corn dog. In effect, the cornbread component is replaced with a latke.
Small corn dogs, known as “corn puppies,” “mini corn dogs,” or “corn dog nuggets,” are a variation served in some restaurants, generally on the children’s menu or at fast food establishments. A serving includes multiple pieces, usually 10. In contrast to their larger counterparts, corn puppies are normally served stickless as finger food.

National Corndog Day is a celebration of the corn dog, tater tots, and American beer that occurs on the first Saturday of March of every year.

‘Extreme Chef’ launches second season August 16 on Food Network

July 12, 2012 at 9:12 AM | Posted in Food | Leave a comment
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Extreme Chef’ launches second season August 16 on Food Network
Seven chefs, extreme locations? What we have here is a new season of ‘Extreme Chef’ debuting August 16 on Food Network.

The series, launching its second season on cable 58, takes seven fearless chefs out of the kitchen and sends them to locations that include the deserts of California and the jungles of Thailand for a competition that will test all of their skills – physical, mental and culinary.

For example, challenges include pulling needles from a cactus pad and using them to create a dish, creating a meal in one hour while on a floating dock while rescuing their ingredients from a capsized fishing boat.

In each episode, the chefs will be judged by a rotating panel of guest judges and the bottom two chefs will face off in a showdown challenge to determine which goes home.

At the season finale, one chef will be declared the most Extreme and take home a $50,000 grand prize.

Special guest judges include Simon Majumdar (‘Next Iron Chef‘ judge and food journalist), Ben Sargent (host of Cooking Channel‘s ‘Hook, Line & Dinner’), and Troy Johnson (host of ‘Crave’ and a food critic and journalist).
The contestants are: Scott Brandolini (Mass.), Susanne Dillingham (N.C.), Terry French (N.J.), Lance Knowling (N.J.), Viet Pham (Utah), Isadora Sarto (Vt.) and, Tiffany Ward (Hawaii).

In the premiere episode, the chefs are dropped into Salton City, Calif., by helicopter and have to scavenge for ingredients and tools in an abandoned wasteland.

They have ’60 minutes to raid a deserted tent village for on-perishable ingredients, build their own cooking stations, and use items like steel wool, batteries and tumbleweed to start a fire. Two chefs will be sent into the Final Showdown where they must create the perfect bite – only one will survive the apocalypse and advance to the next location,’ according to Food Network.

The series will air at 9 p.m. p.m. Thursdays.

Dakota Buffalo Company

June 23, 2012 at 9:57 AM | Posted in bison, Food | Leave a comment
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For all you Bison Lovers out there I thought I would pass along some info on the Dakota Buffalo Company. They have a terrific selection of Bison Meat and reasonable shipping. Check out their site I left the link below.

 

Dakota Buffalo Company

We love the great outdoors and when we aren’t personally packing your shipments or answering your calls and questions about buffalo meat, you’ll find us hiking, biking, running, RVing, golfing, camping, hunting and enjoying the good life. Dakota Buffalo Company, LLC is a family owned and operated business, with each of us devoted to living a healthy lifestyle with a diet that isn’t deprived of red meat.

Dakota Buffalo Company is based in South Dakota with a business office in California. The partners, cousins Gary Colbath and Susan Roll, and Dana Chaiken, are passionate about the taste and health benefits of buffalo meat. Our families love to cook and BBQand found that when we served buffalo meat, our guests couldn’t wait to come back.Dakota Buffalo Company was born from our enthusiasm and passion, and it’s now our mission to conveniently supply high quality buffalo meat at low prices so you can enjoy it too.WHY EAT BUFFALO
Rarely is something that tastes so good actually good for you. Buffalo meat is the perfect way to enjoy all the advantages of beef without the guilty negatives. Buffalo meat is America’s healthy red meat — the one your taste buds can enjoy and allow your brain and body to feel good about it!

Unlike other so-called exotic meats, buffalo does not have that “gamey” taste. Rather, it has a full, rich, juicy flavor that is often characterized as sweet despite its low fat content. Many people characterize the flavor as like the best grass-fed beef they have ever tasted, but appreciate that buffalo meat is a healthier choice.
Buffalo meat is naturally 85-90% lean and is lower in calories, fat and cholesterol than skinless chicken, pork, beef or salmon
Buffalo has only 245 calories and 4.2 grams of fat per 6 oz. serving
Buffalo meat meets the American Heart Association certification requirements. It is also included on most acceptable meat lists for those who have cholesterol challenges (ask your doctor), and is one of the low fat meats recommended by the USDA as part of a balanced and nutritious diet
Buffalo meat is high in protein and iron, low in sodium and cholesterol
Buffalo meat is naturally gluten-free and MSG-free (Whole cut meat only, such as steaks, roasts, ribs and burgers. Processed meats such as jerky, hot dogs, brats, etc. may have trace detectable amounts.)

BUFFALO VS. BEEF
Buffalo meat is much healthier than beef. It fits right in with a healthy, active lifestyle and because it has less fat than beef, is better at helping you control a healthy weight.

Depending on the cut, buffalo is…
60-80% lower in fat with up to half the calories of beef
Higher in protein, vitamin B and iron, and lower in cholesterol
Sweeter and juicier, with a fresh, non-greasy taste
Much more tender with a deeper red color and less marbling
Faster to cook (due to lower fat), and should be cooked at a lower temperature
More meat per ounce after cooking, as it doesn’t shrink as much as beef does

http://www.dakotabuffalocompany.com/

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