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Posts tagged ‘Himalayan Salt Block’

The “R” word… Riesling, a Pre Holiday Guide to Wine

Quite frankly this year has flown by, in a true “New York minute” , so I can’t believe it’s already October with Halloween around the corner! This marks the start of the holiday season which is fun, wonderful, stressful and sometimes overwhelming so I wanted to share some wine tips along with a time-saving recipe that will leave you with time to relax.

During the holidays we often say to ourselves, “if I only had more hours in the day…” but how often do we say, “me, myself and I are going on a break!”? It’s challenging with all of life’s responsibilities to be thoughtful about ourselves, however, without this precious luxury we fall out of balance. Now I know we all experience a little guilt when taking “me time” but trust me, it will be your saving grace this season and with this recipe you’ll find you might just have that time… to relax!

For this recipe make a batch on Sunday and you’ll have lunch/dinner ready in minutes leaving time for that glass of wine!!!



6-8 large carrots, peeled

2-3 large yams or sweet potatoes

4 cups vegetable stock

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 large shallots

1-2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup pure maple syrup (skip/add to taste)

1 teaspoon ground ginger (add more to taste)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1 handful of flat leaf parsley

1 package fresh goats cheese

2 baking sheets

1 blender or food processor

1 sauce pot

Set your oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse the yams and place them on a baking sheet completely naked. Peel the carrots and place them on another baking sheet again naked. Roast the yams and carrots until when pierced with a knife there is no resistance. (I found that my carrots took longer than my yams so keeping them separate will give you better control) Although, if you like your soup a bit more rustic, cook the carrots until they are almost done, they will grind up a bit courser than the potatoes.  Once the vegetables are cooked to perfection, take a pairing knife to slit open the yam skins and peel them off, careful to not burn yourself. Set aside…

In a saucepan, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Set the pan to medium high. Zest the garlic and shallots with a microplane into the olive oil (now you don’t have to chop or blend up the  mixture!) Once it’s lightly golden brown you can reduce the heat to low and begin blending the soup.

Adding the carrots and yams in batches, blend with enough stock to make it loose. Once all the carrots, yams and stock are blended together, return the soup to the saucepan with the garlic and onions. Add the spices except for the salt and pepper, stir to combine. Add the maple syrup and taste…then add the salt/pepper. Return heat to medium to heat through.

At this point you could spoon yourself a bowl but this soup will only benefit from a night in the fridge…just cool before storing.

Serve with a garnish of goat cheese, basil oil, and fresh parsley, serve hot!



Riesling is best known for its German roots however, other countries like France produce some amazing bottles. Feel free to explore, you will find Riesling from all over the world  with benchmarks coming from Germany and France… Things to keep in mind, not all Riesling is sweet but it is generally high in acid and sugar with low alcohol.

On the label you will find one of these terms. This will give you insight to how ripe these grapes were at harvest and respectively, that equates to sugar content.

Trocken = dry

Tafelwein = Table wine…a bit harder to find as most imported Riesling is at least Qualitatswein or higher.

Qualitatswein = Quality wine…somewhat subjective here so ask your wine shop geek if they have tasted this before buying

Kabinett = First off the block in delicious dry quality Riesling. It’s dry, not sweet and generally fantastic with seafood or light game, hint, hint, like turkey.

Spatlese = Harvested riper than Kabinett, the term Spatlese means “late picking”. It’s sometimes sweet and sometimes not, so ask your wine shop if a particular bottle is sweet.  Try pairing the dry with poultry and lobster and the sweet with indian food, the sweet plays well with heat!

Auslese = Almost like a late harvest wine, its name means “out picked” since the berries harvested are hand-picked berry by berry. Most often, this wine is sweet and slightly fuller bodied (thicker) but some are dry and incredibly complex. The acid in this wine disguises the sugars so feel free to experiment with pairings…Perfect for spicy foods, but the dry could charm a pork or veal chop beautifully.

Berenauslese = A favorite of mine…this sweet high acid wine is the perfect pairing for rich foods like foie gras and pork belly.

Trockenberenauslese = Alas, this wine get’s its intense consentrative flavors from botrytis, a noble rot that sucks the moisture out leaving a perfect raisin in its place. Once pressed this tiny berry has just a drop or two to give but what it gives is legendary! Referred to as the “Sauterne” of Germany, entirely botrytised, this super sweet wine is amazingly balanced with striking acid, it’s perfection in a glass.  Savor this wine with a cheese plate post Thanksgiving dinner and your guests will be raving about it for years! (If you want to save a few bucks, go for a similar approach with the berenauslese, just make sure it’s sweet)

So there you have it, Riesling is not that complicated now that you know what to look for and since you have a spare moment thanks to my time-saving soup recipe, you can finally relax!




How to Cook with a Himalayan Salt Block…

The amount of overwhelming joy I experienced while testing out a salt block was substantial! I almost skipped to the little salt shop to pick my block. The shop I am referring to is called The Meadow. They have two locations, one in Manhattan New York and one in Portland Oregon. You may already know a little about the owners as they released a James Beard awarded book entitled Salted. The book is an incredible journey through the production of commercial and artisanal salts with beautiful photos of the people, places and salts spoken of. The recipes are delightful and expressive of the absolute highlight a finishing salt can make to an everyday simple dish. The folks at Meadow are very helpful and skilled at selecting salts and blocks for serving or cooking which made the adventure all the more carefree. So with my fabulous (and heavy) salt block in hand, I embarked on a wildly fascinating salt encrusted adventure!

Pink Himalayan Salt Blocks

Some tips for your new salty beast:

  • slowly heat your block on top of the stove’s burner (gas ranges only) if electric or heat induction use a protective cooking ring or cast iron pan to elevate the block for air circulation and even heating. You want to make sure it’s not in direct contact with the heating element.
  • start at low heat and crank it up every ten minutes to the next heat level ie: medium low, medium, medium high etc.
  • do not salt your food when cooking on a salt block! It will impart a nice saltines to whatever you are cooking so it’s not necessary
  • use a metal utensil to turn over your ingredients (plastic might melt as the blocks get very hot)
  • allow the block to completely cool (several hours) before cleaning in warm water only. (Scraping gently to remove bits)
  • store your dried block wrapped in a towel or paper towels when not in use. (I actually stored mine in a cool oven while not in use)
  • the block can also be used for serving at the table either cold or hot. (use a trivet or wood cutting board under hot blocks) One idea for a hot service option would be to heat the block and allow your guest to cook their own meats &veggies while at the table! Or chill it and serve sushi or sashimi right off of the block!
  • Notes: Your block will never look as amazing as it does when you buy it, the color will change cracks may appear and a smoothness will happen on the side you cook, a result of washing. Salt is expressive so be free with it and if you like the clear look of your block, buy a second one for cooking and keep the other for service.

Armed with this information, a brand new salt block and fresh little shrimps I whipped this up…

Cracked Pepper Salt Block Shrimps with Market Salad and Cool Radish

(serves 4 people)

20 large (20 count) shrimps, peeled & cleaned

As much fresh cracked pepper as you like

No salt!

For the Salad:

several bunches of little gem lettuces or 1 box of organic mixed field greens (washed and dried)

4-8 radishes sliced thinly

1 handful of fresh basil or micro basil

1 handful of micro beet greens (skip if you can’t find them)

Juice of 1 lemon

olive oil (roughly 1/4 -1/2 cup)

Finishing salt or Himalayan Pink salt

Crack of fresh pepper

Shrimps on Salt

Preheat your salt block, this will take some time about 35-45 minutes. You will know it’s hot enough when you can only hold your hand above it for 2-3 seconds. While heating the block, clean & peel your shrimps and place in a bowl. Crack the pepper over the shrimps and toss to coat. Set aside. Wash and dry the greens and add to a big bowl. Wash and slice the radishes and add to the bowl of lettuce. Juice the lemon into a small bowl once juiced whisk in the olive oil until emulsified add the salt and pepper to the lettuce and a pinch of both to the dressing. When the shrimps are ready to be cooked, add the dressing to the greens, toss in the basil & beet greens and combine gently with your hands. Once the block is ready to go place the shrimps on top of the block and be ready to turn them after a minute or so. They will cook up fast, turning white and pink when ready. Place the salad and shrimps on plates and enjoy!