A Smoky Pantry Staple
In Extremadura, Spain, cooks turn the region’s signature smoked paprika into a flavorful paste for adding bold pops of smoky richness to just about everything. While explaining the recipe, sous chef Miguel Angel Bernal told us that his family spreads it on bread for gilled ham and cheese, mixes it with vinegar for salad dressing and slathers it on seared steaks. He even drizzles it on sweet treats such as huesillos, a sugar-coated fried dough similar to churros. We also like it brushed on roasted salmon, mixed into softened butter for melting over steamed cauliflower or drizzling on popcorn, or mixed into mayonnaise as a dip for french fries and potato chips. To make it, heat 1⁄4 cup neutral oil over medium until warm and just beginning to ripple, about 3 minutes. Off heat, whisk in 1⁄4 cup smoked paprika until combined. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month; stir well before using.
A Fresh Take on Tonic Water
The market is awash with artisanal tonic water—a key mixer for many cocktails— but the basic product hasn’t changed much since it first was formulated as a malaria treatment back in the 1800s: soda water, sweetener and quinine, a bark extract that has a bitter-floral flavor. So we were excited to see that several companies are rethinking this mixology staple. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a “Classic Tonic Syrup” that can be mixed with soda water to create a tonic as strong or mild as you like. In addition to quinine and sugar, Jack Rudy also adds lemon grass and orange peel to create a particularly floral, aromatic tonic that pairs perfectly with gin. Available for $16 at jackrudycocktailco.com. And El Guapo Bitters in New Orleans makes a similar “British Colonial Style Tonic Syrup” flavored with lemon, lime, grapefruit and ginger for a particularly citrusy and sweet take on tonic. Available for $17 at elguapobitters.com.
A Slicker Way to Slice Scallions
When we want thin shavings of carrots, zucchini or even broccoli the solution is simple—a vegetable peeler. But scallions? The thin, tender greens can be difficult if not impossible to shave. Yet those shavings are delicious made into a scallion salad or used as a garnish on Asian soups or stir-fries. We discovered a solution at London shop Kitchen Provisions: a scallion shredder. Though the tool comes in different styles, most involve some sort of handle topped by a series of close-set tiny metal blades. Simply hold the scallion flat on the cutting board and drag the shredder down its length, quickly reducing it to fine filaments. Available at most Asian markets and on Amazon starting around $6.
Canned Tuna with a Kick
We love a spicy tuna salad, so we were intrigued when we discovered Dongwon Tuna with Kimchi Sauce. Made in Korea, this canned dolphin-safe tuna combines the classic chunk fish with a pleasantly spicy sauce, a combination that was meaty and piquant. The tuna needed no additional seasoning, and we happily forked it over greens and into wraps. Available online and in Asian markets for about $5 for two 5.3-ounce cans.
Aussies Sip in Style
It takes a lot to get us excited about what essentially is a travel mug, but the Frank Green Stainless Steel Reusable Cup is no typical travel mug. When we discovered this Australian-made mug, we realized it solves two of the most annoying designs of similar products. First, it replaces the usual pop-top lid with a screw top that seals perfectly. Second, its push-button valve means drinking from it really is a one-handed operation. The stylish, matte finish mug also fits perfectly in your hand and keeps liquids hot or cold for up to 12 hours. When ordering at us.frankgreen.com, select your size, base and lid, mixing and matching colors as desired. Total price: about $40.
Mole Sauce In Minutes
During a visit to Mexico City’s Coyoacán Market, we came across a vendor selling a wide selection of mole powders. The powders are mixed with warm water to create flavorful pastes and sauces, a shortcut to the laborious process of creating Mexico’s most famous sauces, which can include over 20 ingredients. The powders also can be added directly to soups and stews as you would a seasoning blend. We tried a number of them at the market in Mexico and were impressed by their depth of flavor. Back home, we were pleased to discover that Manitou Trading Company sells six mole powders, including Mole Poblano Paste, Pipian Mole Verde Sauce Starter and Oaxacan Mole Amarillo Sauce Starter. One of our favorites was the Oaxacan Mole Negro Sauce Starter, which is a blend of chilies, nuts, seeds, aromatics, spices and dark chocolate. It has a fruity, sweet chocolate aroma when simmered, and a strong—but pleasant— chili flavor. It’s great as a braising sauce for chicken legs or drizzled over braised beef. We also liked the Pipian Mole Verde Sauce Starter, which is made from a blend of mild green chilies, herbs, spices and ground hemp seeds. It has a bright aroma of tomatillo and sesame when you simmer it. The flavor is fresh, with a medium heat. It is fantastic on pork, and would be a great stir-in for green rice or as a sauce over steamed or lightly roasted vegetables. Available at woodlandfoods.com as 8-packs of 1.58-ounce pouches for about $12.