Enjoying the Chic
Ted Allen may be the longtime host of "Chopped," the Food Network's most produced show, but as far as he's concerned, you don't need to chop, slice or mince anything to experience the trendiest "it" flavor on the planet.
It's centuries-old smoked spicy paprika from Spain, and it's as easy to use as shaking a few dashes from a seasoning bottle onto everything from eggs to sauces to casseroles to vegetables to baked tortilla chips.
The spice, and some cheddar cheese, is all it takes to perk up Allen's chips, which he serves with a swirled black-and-white bean dip featured in his book, In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks (Clarkson Potter, $35).
So many of his recipes-like mini twice-baked potatoes with a bacon appetizer-feature the seasoning, which, in his view, is a kitchen staple. "Amp up the smokiness and spice with the 'it' flavor from Spain, spicy smoked paprika (look for 'picante' on the label)," advises Allen, who first emerged as one of the hosts of the hit self-help show "Straight Eye" a decade ago.
Much of the crop from Spain is naturally smoked over traditional oak fires. Long-used traditional paprika is often made in Hungary and used in that cuisine. Prepared from the tamest member of the Capsicum pepper family and due to its deep red color, other than in Hungarian recipes, it's often just relegated to being a garnish.
Not so with the smoky Spanish variety.
Cindy Pawlcyn, who, as owner of three top restaurants including Mustards Grill, has long been one of Northern California's Napa Valley's top chefs. She has always been on the cutting edge and currently is also a huge fan of "hot" paprika. The following walnut sauce from her new Cindy's Supper Club: Meals from Around the World to Share with Family and Friends gets its pizzazz from a teaspoon of the spice. She adds a full tablespoon to a unique sherry aioli as well.
Pawlcyn even tries to imitate the flavor when she's temporarily out of the ingredient that's available at some supermarkets, ethnic markets and online. "If you only have sweet paprika on the shelf," she directs, "add a touch of cayenne pepper along with the paprika."
Smoked Paprika Walnut Sauce
Yields 6 servings
1 cup Walnuts
1 or 2 cloves Garlic
1Ω teaspoons ground Coriander
1 teaspoon smoked spicy Paprika
2 to 3 teaspoons Cider vinegar
Up to 1 cup water
Sea salt, to taste
In a blender, combine the walnuts, garlic, coriander, paprika and 2 teaspoons of the vinegar. With the motor running, slowly add the water, stopping when the sauce is the consistency of thick cream. It should be thinner than mayonnaise but thicker than a rich broth. Taste and season with the remaining 1 teaspoon vinegar and coriander, if needed, and with salt. Good served with poultry.
Recipe from Cindy's Supper Club: Meals from Around the World to Share with Family and Friends by Cindy Pawlcyn (Ten Speed, $35).
Two Bean Dip With Smoked Paprika Chips
Yields 6 dozen chips and 4 cups dip.
3 slices thick-cut Bacon
1 medium Red onion, chopped
1 Yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 tsp Chili powder
Ω tsp ground Cumin
Ω tsp dried Oregano
2 tsps chopped canned Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
3 Tbsps Cilantro leaves, chopped
1 (15oz) can Black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup Chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
1 (15oz) can white Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black Pepper, to taste
Ω cup Sour cream
6 (6-inch) Flour tortillas
4 ounces Sharp Cheddar cheese,
finely grated (1 cup)
Ω teaspoon Smoked spicy paprika
1 large Egg white
To prepare chips: Preheat oven to 350∞ F. Stack the tortillas, cut in half, and then cut each half into 6 wedges. Arrange the tortilla wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together the cheese and smoked paprika. Using a brush, lightly brush the chips with the egg white and then sprinkle with the cheese mixture.
Bake for 12 minutes, until golden and crispy. Let cool before serving.
To prepare dip: In a skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Put the bacon on a cutting board, coarsely chop and set aside.
Remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon drippings from the pan. SautÈ the onion and bell pepper until soft, about 6 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin and oregano, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Divide onion mixture in half and scoop one-half into a second skillet. Divide chipotle chilies between skillets. Add black beans, with half of the chicken stock, to one skillet and the white beans, with the remaining stock, to the other. Simmer both mixtures over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Scoop 1 cup of the white-bean mixture into a food processor and purÈe until smooth. Mix back into the cooked white beans. Repeat this step with the black beans, keeping the black and white mixtures separate. Season each mixture with salt and pepper and refrigerate in separate bowls, covered, for 2 hours.
Divide the bacon between the bowls and stir it into the bean mixtures. In a shallow presentation bowl, spoon the white bean dip into one side and the black bean dip into the other. Using a large spoon, swirl the black beans about halfway around the edge of the bowl into the white beans and with a clean spoon, do the same with the white beans in the same direction-making two interlocking comma shapes in the bowl (or a yin and yang symbol). Spoon half of the sour cream into the fat part of each "comma," and sprinkle equal part cilantro over each dollop and serve.
Recipe courtesy of In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks by Ted Allen with Barry Rice (Clarkson Potter, $35). Smoked spicy paprika is the only spice needed to make these homemade tortilla chips special.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook and The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook. She also writes the Creators News Service "Cooks' Books" column.