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Any Recent Sparks to Pass Along?

One of the main things I get from 52 is Inspiration, so in these frigid winter days, I find myself scouring cookbooks that I don't already own, for topics that caught my eye on 52. I have two surprises to share from recent books and googling. Hoping others will chirp in!:
--Cocoa powder. the 52 Hotline has had many inquiries about natural v.s. dutched. Just when I thought I had it in my head- the chemical side of it- I read a 2011 interview with Alice Medrich (I am a big fan, so I pay attention to what she says) where she explained that Natural Cocoa is her fav now (it used to be Dutched, but Natural has become more complex and better). So if I ever work through a considerable inventory of both, I know what to buy , when it is the appropriate cocoa powder for a given recipe, of course!
-- Neat pie idea: In How to Build a Better Pie, Millicent Souris has a neat Sweet Potato Pie recipe (I've been learning how sweet potatoes are nutritionally at the top of the game) where she finishes the filling with a topping of sesame praline. It reads like it may be more a sesame caramel
but it does set up so it can be cut. I'm intrigued; never read of something like this before!
I know that what's 'new' for me may be 'old hat' for you, but hope you'll still share some of your own neat sparks from time to time.

asked by LE BEC FIN over 1 year ago
10 answers 875 views
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added over 1 year ago

I forgot to mention the other neat tart idea in Souris' book. She makes a tart where the crust is ("won't get soggy) saltines crust and the filling is grape tomatoes anchored in a base of homemade mayonnaise! I was thinking about that- oil, eggs,lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, mustard. hmmmm. Made me think about my Warm Artichoke, Parmesan, GARLIC spread which is somewhat like the tomato pie filling because the mayo somewhat equals the artichokes and garlic in volume, like the mayo ~ equals the tomatoes in volume. Anyway, baking mayo, hmmmm, interesting!

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added over 1 year ago

Basically all of my food "sparks" come from fresh, seasonal produce at my town's weekly farmers market which operates all year long, not from books or online forums.

Just go to the market and see what the local farmers are selling.

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added over 1 year ago

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added over 1 year ago

cv you are lucky. Right now (January through March) in NC we have meat, sweet potatoes, collard greens and baked goods at the farmer's market. Some eggs and sausage but no local fruit or vegetables. It's hard to be inspired by that week after week The cold inspires soups and stews but it may be time to look for some new ones.

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added over 1 year ago

I am always on a look out for Sparks and the praline and cocoa powder are interesting ideas, though cooking mayo is not my thing. I like to keep the Sparks reasonably low fat & low sugar. If I come across something interesting I will definitely share.
At the same time I would like to add to CV's comment about fresh and seasonal produces.
I like to search for interesting and new recipes but I found the Weeknight Meal Planners a waste of time.
All my meals are based on what I found looking fresh and good at the supermarket, better if seasonal and local but sometimes imported is ok. If I feel in an adventurous mood, I buy an ingredients I never used before.
The Supermarket is often where my Spark starts!

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added over 1 year ago

And with a few exceptions, most 52ers don't have anywhere near the local sparks available to them as you do at this time of year. Never having lived and shopped on the Riviera, I wonder if there are ANY bad times for finding sparks in your local markets? That could certainly be a naive thing to say, but plse "explain me" !

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added over 1 year ago

I don't think the there is much difference between Europe and USA in terms of produces.
A simple example of my latest spark is Curled Parsley. I never tried it before last summer. I couldn't find the normal parsley for my Tabbouleh and the supermarket shop attendant convinced me to try it.

Crunchy and sweet, I am now using it everywhere.

You can still find it at the supermarket at this time of the year and I am sure this is not the season, but if it looks good and it is reasonably price I am buying it.

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added over 1 year ago

This time of year, I tend to scour my pantry and freezer for things that have been forgotten and try to use them up. Also, I will often find a recipe that looks good but I can't get all the ingredients so I get creative with substitutions. I may never know what the recipe was intended to taste like, but it usually come up with something that tastes good anyway.

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Kristen W.

Kristen W. is a trusted home cook.

added over 1 year ago

A recent spark came from getting two fennel bulbs in my CSA that were so small that even together they hardly yielded a usable portion. I decided to slice them and cook them over very low heat for a loooong time (basically while I cooked the whole rest of the meal), until they were pretty well melted - they cooked down to scarcely 2-3 tablespoons - then added a splash of sherry vinegar and a pinch or two of sugar, cooked it for a couple more minutes, then used it as little garnish for a pork tenderloin - not exactly pretty, but what an intense and delicious little pop of flavor! I never would have tried taking the fennel that far if I had received a larger portion in the first place. In this case it was the constraint of having a tiny portion that inspired, and it makes me curious about treating other vegetables in ways that are non-habitual for me.

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added over 1 year ago

Caramel popcorn ice cream.

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