Carrot Cake with Bitterman’s Chocolate Fleur de Sel

Bitterman’s Chocolate Fleur de Sel is an infused fleur de sel that’s been blended with chocolate. This salt, like many infused salts, is made using a fleur de sel (in this case, our house Fleur de Sel from Guatemala). It is then combined with high quality chocolate. This original recipe was concocted in 2008 by The Meadow’s owner Mark Bitterman, our house Selmelier and master infusion-mixer. This chocolate salt has a strong chocolate aroma with hints of cocoa that gives your food a deep richness and full-bodied flavor. The small, irregular crystals dissolve in waves across the palate, lending a delicate chocolate chip-like crunch to any dish. Sprinkle it on sweets, like strawberries and cream, hazelnut scones, cupcakes, fruit parfaits or homemade granola. Or anywhere you might make a mole, such as tender beef or chicken.

Or try using up your lingering winter carrots and spring into summer with this rooty Carrot Cake recipe!

 

Carrot Cake with Bitterman’s Chocolate Fleur de Sel

Serves 10

4 eggs
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons each baking powder and baking soda
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup each chopped walnuts and chocolate chips
2 two-finger pinches Bitterman’s Chocolate Fleur de Sel

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch cake pan.

Crack the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and sugar and beat together until nice and creamy. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, spices, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, combining gently with a wooden spoon or spatula. Once incorporated, fold in the carrots, nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 45 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes and then top with your favorite frosting (we like cream cheese!)
Sprinkle with Bitterman’s Chocolate Fleur de Sel and enjoy!

 

Curious about our other flavored salts? Take a peek at all of ‘em here!

New American Salt: Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt

The first salt produced in what is now the United States was made, of course, by native people, though in many cases we don’t know the particular techniques used.

Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto observed people living along the Mississippi Delta boiling brine they made from salt dried on the sand. Avery Island, nestled in the Louisiana bayou, is home to the oldest known saltworks in North America - the people living there used broken pottery, some of which is carbon dated to 2500 BCE, to make salt. Along the East Coast, salt and the colonization of the eastern seaboard went hand in hand. English sailors made their first regular trips there not to settle, but to fish. And explorers Lewis and Clark became the first known men to produce salt on the West Coast during their epic expedition of the early 19thcentury.

Today, we’re seeing a resurgence of new American saltmakers, making salt much in the same way that makers did centuries ago. From Mendocino, California, to Hawaii, from rooftops in New York City to the small island of Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt, a fairly new venture from husband and wife team Curtis Friedman and Heidi Feldman, gets its unique mineral richness from the waters surrounding the Atlantic Ocean island. Vineyard residents Heidi and Curtis, a tech consultant and carpenter who started Down Island Farm on their Tisbury property, started researching sea salt a few years ago and formally launched theirs in the spring of 2013.

Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt revives a lost tradition on the island, which, like many places in New England, has a long, storied history in salt. As far back as the late-1600s, colonial settlers began to produce sea salt on Martha’s Vineyard, also referred to as Noepe by the Native American Wampanoag tribe. Residents of the Vineyard used sea salt to preserve and season food and tan animal hides, all extremely critical to survival. By 1807, salt manufacturing was the island’s second largest industry, but it declined after the War of 1812 when large, industrial companies began popping up along the coast. Since that time, a few Islanders have produced sea salt for personal and even restaurant use, but none have attempted to reintroduce 100% natural sea salt. Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt is the first known saltworks on the Vineyard to produce sea salt commercially since the 1800s.

Heidi and Curtis use a deceptively simple evaporation process to produce their salt. Every few weeks, they pump sea water from the ocean into a plastic tank, drive it back to their farm, and funnel it into a 76-by-12 evaporator Curtis built on the outskirts of their property. Once the water is in, it’s just a matter of time – and sun. Slowly (but surely), most of the water evaporates until only residual salt granules are left. Heidi and Curtis then rake the salt crystals by hand and put them through a short dehydrator in small batches before packaging.

This salt is an honest expression of the island itself: wet and rocky and a tad non-traditional. The couple seems intent to keep it that way. They’ve struck a beautiful balance, negotiating between climate, process, and history, letting the island do the work (with a pump or two at the beginning and a shake or two of the rake at the end). The resulting salt is one that’s fresh, briney, and abundant with minerals. . I use it on hearty meats, like beef and bison or on roasted vegetables, like potatoes with herbs, much like I would use a Sel Gris de L’Ile de Re or Pangasinan Star. I also like it mixed into hearty bean stews or chilis, or sprinkled on top of springy grain salads, like quinoa with apples, feta, scallions and a lemon vinaigrette. A pinch or two on rich, buttery baked goods like pretzels or crostatas is also wonderful.

The secret of this new American salt is out: locals are going crazy about it, chefs can’t seem to sprinkle enough on their dishes, and media from half way around the world are knocking down the evaporator door to get their hands on some. And I happen to be over-the-moon about this American salt as well – the flavor of New England reverberating on the island, and across the country, stronger than ever.

 

You can find Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt and other new American salts for sale at The Meadow’s online shop.

 

Island Photos courtesy Heidi Feldman.

Flank Steak with Sel Gris de L’Ile de Noirmoutier & Parsley Pesto

Sel gris is a vehicle for exploring hearty and meaty foods. The name sel gris comes from the French gros sel grisor, which literally translates to “coarse gray salt.” Sel gris is distinguished by its coarse crystals and high moisture content, typically around 13%. This salt is made by raking crystals from the bottom of a crystallizing pan soon after they form, which gives them an irregular yet natural crystal structure. Hefty, moist crystals with a minerally saltiness make this a beautiful finishing salt for steaks, lamb, and root vegetables. It’s also the ultimate salt for pasta water, grilling meats, and can be ground up for baking or used for salt crusts.

A good steak needs sel gris.  A great steak needs to be cooked just to medium-rare and flecked with a beautiful gray salt, like Sel Gris de l’Ile de Noirmoutier. While comparable to Sel Gris de Guerande, this finishing salt has a slightly less moisture content, and is almost imperceptibly paler in color. The flavor differences between the Guerande and Noirmoutier are all but impossible to distinguish, though the Noirmoutier is just barely lighter bodied, striking that perfectly crunch on top of grilled steak. Explore the crunchy minerality this gray salt has to offer at your next meal. The moisture levels in this sel gris prevent it from overly dehydrating other ingredients,  and the crystal size lends a satisfying crunch to every bite, making it an ideal finishing salt for steak.

 

Flank Steak with Sel Gris de l’Ile de Noirmoutier & Parsley Pesto

Serves 4

 

For the steak:

1 lb flank or skirt steak

1 tbsp Almazara Luis Herrera Olive Oil

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Crack of Parameswaran’s pepper

2-finger pinch Sel Gris de l’Ile de Noirmoutier

 

For the Pesto:

1 bunch of flat leaf Italian parsley

1 clove of garlic

1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup of Almazara Luis Herrera Olive Oil

1-finger pinch of Meadow Fleur de Sel

 

In a large pan or cast iron skillet, heat oil and butter on medium-high heat. Lightly pepper your steak on both sides. Once the pan is hot and the butter is melted, add your steak and let cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until medium-rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes, until cooled slightly. For the pesto, combine parsley, garlic, cheese and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine, then turn to lowest setting and slowly drizzle in olive oil.

To serve, slice the steak against the grain and sprinkle with two-finger pinch of Sel Gris Noirmoutier. Scoop a spoonful of parsley pesto on top or serve on the side, if desired.

 

Sel Gris de l’Ile de Noirmoutier, Meadow Fleur de Sel, and a selection of other artisan finishing salts can be found at The Meadow’s online shop.

Popcorn with Kala Namak Salt

You probably haven’t run across Kala Namak in the United States, but in India you can find it at just about any street corner food vendor. In its coarser rock forms, Kala Namak (“black salt” in Hindi) is a deep purplish-black color. Once ground, it becomes more of a pinkish-brown, and on your food, it takes on a redder hue. This color-shifting salt, however, leaves a longer lasting impression on the palate than on the retina.

The aroma and taste of Indian black salt are those of sulfur mined from the belly of a slumbering volcano, which in fact is not all that far from the truth. The base of Kala Namak is the more familiar Himalayan Pink salt from Pakistan; this is then melted down with several India spices, in particular harad or haritaki, the seed of the Black Myrobalan tree. The sulfur compounds in the harad seeds are what impart the unique flavor to black salt, as well as its healing properties. The brine is allowed to cool, and then stored to let the flavors meld. This process brings added complexity to the already mineral-rich Himalayan Pink salt, which by itself contains over 84 trace minerals.

Kala Namak is deeply entrenched in South Asian cultures. It can be traced back to the time during with the Vedic scriptures were written and today is an important component of ayurvedic medicine, where it is believed to alleviate digestive ailments. The harad fruit is also used in Ayurveda as part of triphala, an herbal elixir that is used to treat intestinal disorders as well as eye disease and to promote immune system health. Whether it works or not is beyond my domain of expertise, but from the comfort of my kitchen I can tell you that Kala Namak brings something unequaled to both traditional Indian dishes and more familiar fare. It brings a certain fullness to chutneys, and sweeter ones especially take on a quality of roundedness when spiced with this salt. Chaat masala, a spice mix used to enhance fried street food (chaat) and fruit salad, also commonly contains this salt alongside ingredients such as coriander, ginger, chili powder, and cumin. Jal Jeera, a refreshing summertime drink and appetite opener, is a minty, spicy-sweet concoction that also calls for Kala Namak as well as cumin and cilantro.

Kala Namak can bring the unique flavors of the subcontinent to more typical American dishes as well. I especially like it on popcorn; a generous pinch or two of this salt on freshly popped kernels really amps up this savory snack, lending a warm richness and subtle, sulfuric hints of egg with each bite (in the best possible way). Once you’ve had popcorn popped in butter or olive oil and shaken with finely ground Kala Namak you’ll never go back to Pop Secret. You may even consider bringing a small rock of black salt and a salt shaver to the movie theater with you!

 

Popcorn with Kala Namak Salt

Serves 2 hungry people

 

2 tbsp canola or olive oil, for popping

1/3 cup popcorn kernels

2 tbsp olive oil or unsalted butter, for popcorn

3 two-finger pinches of fine Kala Namak

 

Put a large 3-quart pot on your stove top on medium-high heat. Place two tablespoons of oil in the pot, then arrange your kernels in an even layer at the bottom. Cover with a lid and shake gently back and forth, until all kernels are popped. Alternately, you can pop your kernels in any standard popcorn popper. If you’re using an air popper, omit the first two tablespoons of oil. Once the kernels are popped, drizzle the remaining two tablespoons of oil or melted butter on the popcorn, and sprinkle generously with Kala Namak.

 

This Indian black salt and other artisan finishing salts can be found at The Meadow’s online shop.

Caramels with Meadow Fleur de Sel

Fleur de sel is the ultimate cooking salt.  Distinguished by fine, glistening crystals in a pale shade of white, it’s best when sprinkled on food at the end of preparation.  The name “fleur de sel” means “flower of salt” in French. It is also known by the Spanish name “flor de sal” and the Italian “fiore di sale.” The most famous examples of this salt are French sea salts from the coast of the French Atlantic coast, where a thousand years ago Trappist monks perfected a salt making process that had been evolving for millennia across the pristine salt marshes. We use the term fleur de sel to describe the type of crystal and quality of salt. Fleurs de sel are produced around the world, including Portugal, Mexico, Italy, and Philippines.

The most versatile of finishing salts, imparting an extraordinary level of complexity to food, fleur de sel gives your fingers the tactile pleasure of working with a super premium ingredient, and your taste buds gustatory pleasure of the fullest possible flavor in every recipe you prepare.  It works well on foods like fish, poultry, cooked veggies, eggs, or bread and butter.

The Meadow’s Fleur de Sel works beautifully on salted caramels.  The small crystals dissolve quickly on the tongue, pouring out a surge of salty intensity that’s backed by the buttery richness and creamy texture of the caramel. The resulting confection is one that’s flavorful, lusciously smooth, salty, yet sweet, and perfectly balanced on the tongue. The quality of Meadow Fleur de Sel rivals any salt from the famous salt producing regions of Guérande or Camargue. Though many people believe that a fleur de sel must be from France, these caramels will show you that’s not the case.

 

Caramels with Meadow Fleur de Sel

Recipe adapted from the “Fleur de Sel and Smoked Salt Caramels” recipe in Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes.

Makes 32 caramels

 

1 cup heavy cream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

2 three-finger pinches Meadow Fleur de Sel, for finishing

 

Line an 8×8 inch square dish with wax paper and then slightly oil the paper. Combine butter and heavy cream in a small saucepan on low heat until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large saucepan, melt sugar, water, and corn syrup together on medium-high heat, until mixture dissolves, begins to bubble and turns slightly brown in color (350 degrees F on a candy thermometer).  Remove from heat and gently stir in the cream mixture. Place back on the burner and boil, stirring vigorously, until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F (about 10 minutes). Pour into prepared 8×8 dish, then let sit at room temperature until cooled and slightly firm. After 1 1/2 hours, invert dish onto cutting board. Peel off wax paper and cut into 1×2 inch rectangles. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and wrap in 4×5 inch wax paper squares.

 

Meadow Fleur de Sel and other artisan finishing salts can be found at The Meadow’s online shop.

How to Salt Your Coffee

Salt accentuates sweetness, mutes bitterness, and reveals depth in the flavor of virtually any dish it touches. Salt also brings out the best in your coffee, from the strongest of black brews to the most elaborate of coffee drinks.

Salt comes in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, which has a tremendous impact on your coffee. Some crystals are dry and paper thin, while others are heavy, grey, and moist. The structure of the crystal will regulate how much salt hits your tongue and how quickly it dissolves. Flake salts, for example, dissolve quickly and go great with  more complex coffee drinks, like lattes. Fleur de sel has highly irregular crystals and a moderate amount of moisture and minerals, giving it a mellow taste and making it the best all-around finishing salt for coffee.

The best way to salt your coffee is to do so right before drinking. Swirl it in and dissolve it with a spoon, sprinkle it on top with your fingers, or rim the edge of the cup like you would a margarita. I recommend sprinkling one of the following five salts on your coffee the next time you find yourself reaching for a cup.

Shinkai Deep Sea – The best choice for all around coffee salting. This Japanese salt is made from seawater harvested from a depth of 2,000 feet, where the warm and cold currents of the Pacific Ocean collide to form the halocline, an area of high salinity that is especially rich in minerals like magnesium. This minerality gives Shinkai Deep Sea a shimmering, bittersweet flavor perfect for everyday salting.

Takesumi Bamboo – The most sophisticated salt for coffee. This is another Japanese deep-sea salt that has been packed into the hollows of bamboo and incinerated for three days and nights in a charcoal kilm. The end result yields a salt with a carbonated mouth-feel and a texture reminiscent of Pop Rocks.

Halen Mon Gold – Sprinkle it as a finishing touch atop the foam or crema of your coffee, swirl inside your mug with a spoon, or coat the rim. This phyllo-flakey smoked salt gives a bright, balanced, salted caramel effect to coffee and coffee drinks. Halen Mon’s exciting texture pairs with the woody smokiness of Welsh oak to create as salt that coaxes the nuances from virtually any dish it finds.

Fleur de Sel de l’Ile de Re – Sprinkle this rosy tinted salt atop froufrou drinks topped with whipped cream or added flavorings. Moist and extremely delicate, this salt adds a balanced mineral sophistication and a playfully salty presence to your cup.

Lemon Flake – A frou frou salt for a non frou frou coffee, crush this salt between your fingers and sprinkle gently over bright, fruity Kenyans or the like. This giant Cyprus flake salt is infused with lemon juice and lends a bright, candy-sweet flavor to your favorite blend.

 

You can read more about finishing salts in our Guide, and shop our complete selection of artisan salts at The Meadow’s online shop.

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