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Pretzel-Crusted Pork Chops with Orange-Mustard Sauce

Pretzel-Crusted Pork Chops with Orange-Mustard Sauce


  • 1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups crushed pretzel sticks (about 5 ounces)
  • 8 1-inch-thick center-cut pork rib chops
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided

Recipe Preparation

  • Simmer balsamic vinegar in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 2/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Transfer to small pitcher. DO AHEAD Balsamic reduction can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

  • Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from oranges (orange part only) in long strips. Slice peel lengthwise into very thin strips. Place peel in heavy small saucepan and add enough cold water to cover peel by 1 inch. Bring to boil; strain. Repeat 2 more times. Return peel to same saucepan. Add 3/4 cup water and sugar. Boil until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Drain. DO AHEAD Candied orange peel can be made.

  • Mix cream, mustard, and 2 tablespoons candied orange peel in heavy small saucepan. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to 1 cups, about 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

  • Place flour in shallow bowl. Whisk eggs to blend in another shallow bowl. Spread crushed pretzels on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Working with 1 pork chop at a time, press 1 side of chop into flour, dip floured side only into eggs, then press into pretzels, coating 1 side only. Transfer to baking sheet, coated side up. Repeat with remaining pork chops, flour, eggs, and pretzels. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in each of 2 large ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat. Add 4 pork chops to each skillet, coated side down, and cook until brown, about 2 minutes. Turn chops over and transfer both skillets to oven. Roast until pork is cooked through and thermometer inserted horizontally into chop registers 140°F, about 10 minutes. Let chops stand 5 minutes.

  • Rewarm sauce. Spoon 2 tablespoons sauce onto each plate and place chop atop sauce. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and garnish with remaining candied orange peel.

Recipe by Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek COReviews Section


Make this easy entree using Tazo Chai tea from the national supermarket if you can, or brew your own.

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Grouse Mountain Grill, in the Pines Lodge, is getting better. I have eaten there many, many times and have always enjoyed it, but last night was especially enjoyable. We asked for a table in the bar, where Tony Gulizia performs jazz classics most nights.

The Grill's special bread service includes parmesan crisps, focaccio and sourdough with spreads of butter, sweet red onion marmalade and hummus. Service is attentive but not intrusive. You can take as much time as you like listening to Tony before ordering (we made the evening a two and a half hour affair) or ask for expedited service.

My wife started with Crispy Sweet Corn, Cheese & Bacon Fritters with sauteed Chanterelle mushrooms and thyme butter sauce -- real comfort food and simply delicious. My appetizer was a dish I nearly always order -- Warm Lobster & Mascarpone with baby red lettuce and tomato vinaigrette. This night it was over-the-top good. Moist, rich and tasty!

My wife's Pan Seared Scallops with roasted carrott and ricotta raviolis, sauteed carrot, fennel and saffron cream sauce was excellent, but with the richness of the scallops and the raviolis, four huge scallops was simply too much for my wife to eat. Fortunately she had someone with her to take up the slack. I had one of the signature dishes which I have had often -- Pretzel Crusted Pork Chops with house-made chorizo, crispy cauliflower, spinach spatzle and orange mustard sauce. The chops were thick and juicy and perfectly cooked.

For dessert we shared a rich chocolate cake with raspberries, whipped cream and chocolate ice cream. It was also great. All the food was great, the service top notch and the entertainment was, as it always is, just wonderful. If you are in the Beaver Creek - Vail area, don't miss this very special restaurant.

Local Flavors: Beaver Creek - #108

Every town in the world has a local flavor a flavor that comes from the signature dishes of the place, from a group of preferred ingredients, or a type of restaurant that is popular in the area. It is a flavor that comes from appreciating a particular piece of cooking equipment, or a technique. There are dozens of influences, but to a great extent, the local flavor is always the result of history, geography and economics.

This is the village of Beaver Creek, Colorado. It is one of the most celebrated winter resorts in the world. Set in the Gore and Sawatch Mountains, about 110 miles west of Denver, the terrain has been designed for a number of winter sports. The alpine slopes offer downhill courses for all skill levels. From the demanding world cup course known as The Birds of Prey, to a slightly inclined mound of snow for three-year-olds.

WOMAN SKI INSTRUCTOR: Well done. Keep going.

And there is a mountaintop shared by cross country skiers and snowshoers that sits in the magnificent McCoy Park. It's an outdoor setting that will work out your body and work up your appetite. So please join me, Burt Wolf, for a taste of the Local Flavors of Beaver Creek, Colorado.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: By the middle of the 1860s, the gold rush that had begun in California in 1849 was coming to an end. The miners realized that the gold they were taking out of the creeks had been washing down from the mountains. And they figured if it was washing down on the California side, it might also be washing down on the Colorado side. And they began to move east. The miners who came into Beaver Creek were unusual. Most miners liked to live on their claim in the mountains. These guys built small villages in the valleys. As soon as they settle in, ranchers arrived. They raised cattle, did a little farming potatoes, spinach and peas. A special relationship developed between the miners and the ranchers. Every night, the miners would come back into town and have dinner in restaurants that had been set up by the ranchers. They'd have a big steak dinner with side orders of potatoes, spinach and peas.

The cast of characters has changed, but the theme is still the same.

The part of the ranchers is being played by the restaurateurs. The folks coming out of the mountains each night are played by the skiers. The gold is still being played by the gold.

Now when someone has been up in the mountains all day prospecting in the mines or plowing in the snow, they build up a colossal appetite and a mighty thirst. And when they get down to the valley at night, they start looking for something good to eat. It was going on here over 100 years ago and it's going on again today. The eateries in Beaver Creek range from informal spots to restaurants with sophisticated cooking and prize-winning wine lists.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: In the three weeks I stayed in Beaver Creek I tried to eat in as many places as I could. But you know, there are limits. A man can do just so much. And a pair of pants can be let out just so far.

In 1881, George Townsend settled down in Beaver Creek and built himself a house. And it's still here. Today, it's the home of Chef Daniel Joley, his wife Nathalie, and the restaurant Mirabelle which has a reputation for serving some of the finest food in the Rockies.

Daniel is from Belgium and trained with a number of the finest chefs in Europe. Today he's preparing one of his favorite meals.

The first course is steamed mussels with a julienne of vegetables. The main dish was a seared Dover sole with vegetables and a creamy citrus sauce. Dessert was a lemon tart. I'll tell you how to get the recipes for those dishes and all the other dishes in this series at the end of this program.

Another award winning restaurant is The Grouse Mountain Grill located in The Pines Lodge. It is considered to be one of the top hotel restaurants in the U.S. The executive chef is Rick Kangus who has a talent for taking very simple ingredients and turning them into great tasting dishes.

His first course was a crisp onion cup filled with a bacon and spinach salad that has been tossed with warm maple vinaigrette. The main course was a pretzel-crusted pork chop with an orange mustard sauce. Rick starts by cutting one bone off a double-bone pork chop. The chop is set between two pieces of plastic wrap and pounded with a mallet until it's about an inch thick. Then the chop is seasoned with kosher salt and pepper, dredged in flour, dredged in beaten egg, and given a light coating of crushed pretzels.

And it's pan-fried for five minutes on each side. And finished off in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for ten minutes, or until it reaches the internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. A sauce is made by reducing some cream and mixing in some honey mustard and some teeny strips of candied orange rind. The mustard sauce goes onto a serving plate, then the pork chop, and a few slices of orange.

There were two side dishes with the pork a white cheddar grit cake with smoked tomatoes and peppers, and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts with honey-cured bacon. They were the best Brussels sprouts I ever tasted.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The Brussels sprouts are cooked in a sauté pan comes from a French word that means to jump or leap. And that's a pretty good description of what happens to food when you're sautéing it. The pan moves up and back across the burner and the ingredients bounce up and down inside. The action keeps the food from sticking or scorching. When you're going to buy a sauté pan, there are a number of things to consider. First of all, size. You want to buy a pan that's big enough to fit all of the food that you're going to cook in one layer without crowding. Think about the food you sauté most often and how big it is. Buy a pan for that size. And if you're going to have additional guests, do two or three batches. The bottom should be perfectly flat so the pan will slide over the burner easily. And straight sides will help when you're cooking a sauce. The sides help reduce evaporation and spilling. You want a metal that is highly heat conductive. Of course copper is wonderful. Regular aluminum is good. But you want to make sure that there is a lining of stainless steel on the inside so the regular aluminum doesn't interact with your food. Anodized aluminum like this is fine. I am not a fan of non-stick surfaces on sauté pans. I think they cut down on the transference of heat and you lose the crispiness that is so important in food that is being sautéed.

It's important to have a comfortable handle made of metal that won't melt or burn when you put it in the oven. It's nice to have an assist handle when you're lifting something heavy. And a tight fitting lid so you can use this as a brazier.

There were two desserts. One was an apple bread pudding with cinnamon ice cream and a bourbon caramel sauce. The other was a stir-fried strawberry banana sundae with candied ginger and brandy.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Beaver Creek's food history is not just limited to ranching and restaurants. During the 1920s a group of farmers began experimenting with high altitude lettuce. Because the temperature stays lower in the mountain valleys during the summer, farmers here could grow lettuce when farmers at lower and hotter elevations couldn't. And the shipments arrived in the markets of the Midwest and the south at just the right moment.

The experiment was so successful that by the spring of 1923 Beaver Creek had become lettuce country. The demand exceeded the supply and money came rolling in. But not for long. The Beaver Creek farmers were not experienced. And within three years, the land was exhausted. The lettuce years were over. However, lettuce is making a comeback but only on the local restaurant menus. A good example is the Caesar salad at Splendido.

Splendido is another example of a restaurant that is elegant, but not stuffy. The chef is David Walford who was born in England, raised in Colorado and trained by some of the best cooks in France, Napa Valley and San Francisco. The local flavor that he has brought to Beaver Creek reflects that history. When he came here, there was a wood burning oven in the kitchen. So he began to tailor parts of his menu toward oven-roasting with oak.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We started with Splendido's classic Caesar salad. David begins by chopping and crushing garlic. He always uses a chef's knife to do the work. I'm going to chop the anchovies, but I am not going to use a chef's knife. I'm going to use a mechanical chopper. This one's called a Zyliss and I've used something like this for about 20 years. Inside is a zig zag stainless steel blade connected to a plunger. When you push the plunger down, the blade goes down over the food and chops it. All the food is held in place by this circular disc on the outside. And the more times you press it down, the finer the chopping. This new model, which I didn't have 20 years ago, comes with a little cup so you can put your food inside there and when you finish chopping, it will be held in it. And it also comes with a little cover so you can store it. All right. Anchovies. I love anchovies. The garlic and anchovies go into a bowl. Then an egg, which has been boiled in its shell for one minute. It's known as a coddled egg and it helps the dressing emulsify. A mixture of lemon juice, Worcestshire sauce, mustard, kosher salt and black pepper is mixed in. Finally, olive oil is whisked in to complete the emulsion. And that's the dressing which is added to the dried greens.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The key word in describing the greens is dry. Oil and water do not mix. So if the lettuce is wet, all of that wonderful dressing is just going to drain down to the bottom of the bowl and your lettuce is going to end up naked rather than properly dressed. You can dry those greens by wrapping them in terry cloth, or in paper toweling. But the easiest way is to use a salad spinner. Salad spinner.

The spinners work on centrifugal force. There’s an inner basket, and as it spins the greens in the water are forced out from the center to the sides. The greens are trapped against a grid and the water flies out against the inside of the outer basket.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Choose a salad spinner that's big enough to hold the amount of salad that you normally use. Make sure that the construction is solid, that the top fits on securely and most important, you have a dependable spinning device. This model will let you push down with one hand. The downward pressure and the ring of non-skid rubber on the bottom of the outer bowl, keeps the dryer secure on the counter. It's a brake button on the lid that brings the spinning basket to a halt. The pump knob locks down for easier storage and you're ready to continue.

The greens are dressed and tossed with grated Parmesan cheese. A few homemade breadsticks are used to garnish the salad.

The main course is Colorado rack of lamb that has been marinated in pomegranate juice and roasted in a wood oven. But since I do not have a wood oven in my kitchen, David has been kind enough to tell me how to make it in a standard oven.

DAVID WALFORD ON CAMERA: This is the pomegranate juice, the base of the marinade.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: If I can't get pomegranate juice, what can I use?

DAVID WALFORD ON CAMERA: You could use a red wine or maybe try, uh, cranberry juice. I haven't ever used that, but I always thought it might be nice.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Okay. The marinade is made from pomegranate juice, olive oil, chopped lemon zest, lemon juice, shallots, garlic, rosemary, thyme and crushed black pepper.

DAVID WALFORD ON CAMERA: You can marinade it for eight hours, 12 hours, 24 hours is the best, not more than that.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Then the lamb is drained and the bones are wrapped in aluminum foil.

DAVID WALFORD ON CAMERA: So we want to wrap the bones with foil because the wood oven is so hot they would go up in flames.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The rack is seasoned with black pepper. At which point the lamb is roasted in the wood oven for 12 to 20 minutes, or browned in a hot skillet with a little oil and then roasted at a 450 degree oven. The lamb comes out of the oven, rests for ten minutes, gets sliced and served with seasonal vegetables, a sheep's milk cheese soufflé, and a sauce made from stock and some of the marinade.

For dessert we had a pear ginger upside down cake and an amaretto zabaglione.

The next valley over from Beaver Creek is Bachelor Gulch. It was settled in the early years of the 20th century by five bachelors who were ranchers, farmers and timber cutters. They often worked together to improve their property.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: To say the least, they were unique personalities. Ed Howard used to keep his chickens in his bedroom. Jimmy Howard, no relation to Ed, had retired from the railroad, so he got a regular pension check. He would cash it, take part of it to go into town to the local bar, and give the rest to his neighbor with the instructions that no matter what he said or did, that money was not to be given back to him until he sobered up. And of course a couple of hours later he would come back dead drunk screaming for his money. But the neighbors, being good neighbors, would not give it to him. And the Howards were two of the more normal guys.

Today Bachelor Gulch is part of the Beaver Valley ski area. And the old Anderson cabin is now available as a private dining facility, which of course is exactly what it was when John Anderson lived there.

The guys in Bachelor Gulch liked the beauty and solitude of being alone in the mountains. And if you'd like that experience on the most luxurious level, you can rent Trapper's Cabin.

Set back in the trees at 9,500 feet, it's just what a trapper's cabin would be after his IPO.

It comes with its own full-time chef, cabin master, and housekeeper. And let me tell you, this is the kind of house I'd like to keep.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: And no matter who's doing the cooking, they're going to be adjusting those recipes. That's because most cookbooks are written for people who live and cook at sea level. When you take those recipes up in the mountains, strange things happen. The barometric pressure up here is lower. That's because the blanket of air above you is thinner. It's actually a pound lower for every thousand feet you go up. And that has a strange effect on your cooking.

First, water and other liquids evaporate faster and boil at lower temperatures. It's not your imagination if you think your coffee isn't as hot in the mountains as it is at sea level. Second, rising or leavening agents used in baking, like the carbon dioxide in baking soda or yeast or the egg and whipped whites expand more. At sea level, water boils at approximately 212 degrees Fahrenheit. In Beaver Creek water boils at 203 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means here, it takes longer to cook food in boiling water. And more water must be added to make up for the greater evaporation. As a general rule, for every thousand feet above sea level, you need to increase the cooking time by about ten percent.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: And above certain altitudes, some foods like dried beans won't cook at all without the help of a pressure cooker. That's because the water boils at such a low temperature that it just vaporizes before the beans are cooked.

And high altitude baking is the biggest challenge. The reduced air pressure makes bread dough and cake batters rise too much or too quickly. Bread and cakes just fall. The answer is to decrease the amount of yeast, baking soda, or baking powder. And if the leavening agent is the air and beaten egg whites, only beat the egg whites to soft peaks. And speaking of peaks, allow me to introduce you to a couple that are still at the peak of their skills.

Helmut Fricker is well known in Beaver Creek. Each afternoon he arrives at the center of the village and treats passersby to an alpenhorn concert.

Less well-known, but just as great a treat is his wife Ursula's cooking, especially her linzer torte.

URSULA FRICKER ON CAMERA: And we start with 300 grams of flour, sifted jour. Just regular flour.


URSULA FRICKER: And 300 grams of sugar. And then we will add one egg. And you just . you know, like kneading. It's like kneading the dough. And then slowly put the butter in it. That's also 300 grams.

BURT WOLF: It’s an easy recipe. 300 grams…

URSULA FRICKER: Everything is 300 grams.

BURT WOLF: Making a basic pastry dough.

URSULA FRICKER: Making a basic dough. Yes. And now we will do the almonds.

BURT WOLF: 300 grams.

URSULA FRICKER: 300 grams of almonds.

BURT WOLF: I got this.

URSULA FRICKER: You got this.

BURT WOLF: Do you know if my slice will have 300 calories? And if so, I'll remember everything.

URSULA FRICKER: Two teaspoons of cocoa.

BURT WOLF: One German knife tip of cinnamon.


BURT WOLF: Sure. Everybody's going to love this recipe.

URSULA FRICKER: One to two. Just a dash of ground cloves.

BURT WOLF: Cloves.

URSULA FRICKER: That I put in. And then we have .

BURT WOLF: Cherry flavored brandy.

URSULA FRICKER: Cherry flavored brandy, but not sweet. It's real Schnapps.

BURT WOLF: Schnapps. Two tablespoons, did you say?

URSULA FRICKER: Two tablespoons.

BURT WOLF: Ursula is using a very practical piece of equipment. It's called a counter board. You use one side when you're chopping onions, garlic, anything that would be strong. You use the other side for pastry.


BURT WOLF: And your real counter surface, which in this case is marble, is always protected. Now, the best of these cutting boards are made of laminated sugar maple and have two bars on the side. One projects up, and the other projects down. When you put the board on the counter, the front bar holds it in place and keeps it from sliding to the other side. And the back bar keeps the ingredients from spilling over.

URSULA FRICKER: And then it has to rest for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

BURT WOLF: Put it in the fridge for an hour.


BURT WOLF: An hour later .

URSULA FRICKER: It has chilled. And it's very workable now. This will be the bottom. So now we roll this out, if you can . I like this rolling pin, it's very nice.

BURT WOLF: That's called an American rolling pin. And that weight does all the work for you. You don't have to .

URSULA FRICKER: Very, very, very well.

BURT WOLF: . put any pressure on it. It has ball bearings on the inside. And so the barrel rolls independently of the handles. I like these handles particularly because they are a full five inches.

URSULA FRICKER: Yes. Very good.

BURT WOLF: You get a good grip on it, right? Well…

URSULA FRICKER: Best one I ever had.

BURT WOLF: I brought along a French rolling pin so we could we could have a comparative roll-out. It's longer than yours.


BURT WOLF: It's much lighter and thinner. The French chefs like this because they feel that it puts them closer to the dough and they get a better feel of the way it's rolling out.

URSULA FRICKER: And then you just take it and put it in your form.

BURT WOLF: That's a pretty extraordinary guess on what ten inches is.

URSULA FRICKER: It's that German guess again. I put five heaping tablespoons of jam. Raspberry. It has to be raspberry jam.

BURT WOLF: Has to be.

URSULA FRICKER: Not going all the way to the . to the pan rim. Yes. And then I have made some cutouts that are little leaves. And I make the rim with it. And then I form like flowers in the middle.

BURT WOLF: That's so pretty.

URSULA FRICKER: Then I go ahead and put some, egg yolk on it. The crowning is those little balls that are . the little center of the flower.

BURT WOLF: And then it's into a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 50 minutes. The torte comes out of the oven, rests for ten minutes, and then comes out of the pan. Ursula is using the ideal pan for delicate cakes like tortes and cheesecakes it's called a spring form pan.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: On a spring form pan, the sides of the pan are separate from the bottom. When you release the spring, the sides open up and the torte comes away easily. The sides of the rim are symmetrical. So you can use it if you're right handed, and then flip it, and use it if you're left handed.

All properly made models have a groove in the base where the side pieces rests. But the best ones have an extra trough that circles the sides and will catch any drips that come off the base. They're also coated with a non-stick surface.

The Linzer torte was named after the town of Linz in Austria where it was first baked. It was shaped in a circle to celebrate the warmth of the sun. Graham introduced his cracker in the 1820s. Seventy years later, the ranchers of Beaver Creek began corralling their cattle. And at almost the same moment, John Hershey was conching his first milk chocolate. We needed the marshmallow.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: But once the hand of fate is in motion, it is impossible to stop. And when the Hyatt Regency Hotel opened its fire pit in Beaver Creek, the world epicenter for s’moring was created. There's even an official recipe. Hershey e-mailed it to me.

Place a half bar of milk chocolate on a half of a graham cracker and keep it at the ready. Carefully toast a marshmallow and place it on top of the chocolate. Place a second graham cracker on top of the marshmallow and gently press the sandwich together. The Hyatt even sells a s’mores kit with all the essential components including a three-foot long stick for the marshmallows. And you thought everything had already been invented. In truth, there really is no end to America's ability to create.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Of course some creative undertakings are more significant than others. It's obvious that the people who created Beaver Creek had a good understanding of what people want in a winter vacation, and what they want to eat during those vacations. If you've enjoyed this edition of Local Flavors and you'd like some more, please join me next time. I'm Burt Wolf.

10 Snacks You Thought Were Healthy but Really Aren’t

Bad news: Drenching your salad in fat-free dressing or eating granola by the handful isn’t doing you any favors. The good news? We’re here to bust some snacking myths—and provide you with truly healthy alternatives


In small doses, granola is super satisfying and can provide many health benefits (it’s high in fiber and unsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol). But add in excess sugar and chow down portions that could feed three people, and this iconic hippie-friendly snack isn’t so wholesome anymore. Look for brands that are low in sugar like 18 Rabbits, artisanal mixes sold at your nearest farmers market, or make your own, and keep in mind that a 1/2 cup serving averages about 200-250 calories.

Smoothies / Yogurt Drinks

Sugar bombs strike again. The typical bottled yogurt drink you’ll find on grocery shelves (organic or not), contains about 40 grams of sugar. (That’s 10 teaspoons!) To put that in perspective, a healthy adult’s entire day’s recommendation of sugar is 48 grams. Grab an “all-natural” fruit smoothie for lunch and you might be downing upwards of 500 calories. Ditch the extraneous sugar and calories and make a shake or smoothie at home using fresh or frozen fruit and a touch of honey for sweetness.

Bran Muffins

High in fiber yes, but also potentially way too high in fat, sugar, preservatives (if they’re pre-packaged) and calories (if they’re the size of a softball). Let’s be honest, oftentimes they’re essentially a piece of cake in a muffin cup. Go retro and think back to muffins like your grandmother might have made, which were probably about 1/3 of the size. Bob’s Red Mill offers a great muffin mix if you’re short on time, otherwise check out some of BA’s easy recipes for home-baked goodness.

Whole Wheat Wraps

They might sound high-and-mighty in terms of health value, but whole wheat wraps can be deceiving depending on the brand. Many skimp on the fiber—actually, many brands have virtually nil—and add up to nearly 300 calories…and that’s before the turkey, avocado and cheese. Look for wraps with at least four grams of fiber and around 150 calories each.

Fat-Free / Reduced-Fat Cheese

If you’re looking to drop a few pounds or eat more healthfully, fat-free or reduced fat cheese may not be your answer. It tends to be less flavorful and satisfying than full-fat cheese, so you have to eat more to feel full, which can translate to overdoing it on calories. A recent Harvard study (viewable here) published in the Annals of Internal Medicine also found that full-fat dairy products, cheese included, may lower the risk of diabetes. So go ahead and eat that beloved gorgonzola or gouda—in small portions.

Fat-Free Salad Dressing

These “light” dressings line grocery store shelves, beckoning dieters with a healthy halo of sorts. But they’re generally crammed with extra sugar or high fructose corn syrup to make up for flavor, and they are too often missing all the heart-healthy olive oil (or grapeseed, canola, walnut or avocado oil) that makes vinaigrettes both good for you and delicious. Opt for real, full-fat dressings and you’ll fill up much faster (likely on less food) with good-for-you fat. Aim for 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing per serving.

Rice Cakes

At a mere 60 calories a pop, rice cakes are crunchy, light, and semi-tasty. But at the end of the day, they’re also fairly void of any decent nutrients, plus, the favored versions pack in extra sugar. They’re essentially empty calories…and most of us can chomp down a whole lot of them (which turns 60 calories into an easy 240 calories). If you love them, make them more filling and nutrient-dense by smearing on some natural almond butter or hummus. Or opt for the crunch of fresh fruit or whole grain crisp bread crackers with some cheese, peanut butter, or hummus.


Once a staple of the fat-free diet, pretzels don’t add much to the fiber category. Like rice cakes, you’re dealing with a snack that’s not filling in a satisfying way, and that could lead you to consume too many empty carbs. And while we all love a little salt sometimes, sodium totals can rack up if you’re eating a lot of pretzels. Look for oat bran or whole grain pretzels and for a more satisfying snack, stick to a standard serving size (10-15 depending on the brand and size). Dip them in natural peanut butter, hummus, or guacamole.

Veggie Burgers

They sound inherently healthy, but frozen veggie burgers can contain more processed filler ingredients and sodium than actual vegetables or beans. Look for low-sodium veggie burgers that have short ingredient lists (with real ingredients that you recognize and can pronounce). Or try to make your own.

Diet Sodas, Drinks, and Teas

Zero calories isn’t always a good thing, particularly when diet or sugar-free drinks are loaded with artificial sweeteners. (Not exactly an all-natural, wholesome additive!) Sweeteners may increase sugar or carbohydrate cravings, and if consumed in great quantity, may actually impact weight gain. Instead, choose a naturally sweetened soda (on occasion, it does contain calories), or unsweetened iced tea. Or, have fun making your own iced tea and flavored sodas at home with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Local Flavors: Miami - #102

Every town in the world has a local flavor, a flavor that comes from its signature dishes, from a group of preferred ingredients, or a type of restaurant that is popular. It is a flavor that comes from appreciating a particular piece of equipment or a technique. There are dozens of things that impact on the local flavor. But the most important influences are always the result of history, geography and economics. Greater Miami and the Beaches has become one of the most celebrated vacation spots in the world. At the southern tip of the United States, and pointing towards the Caribbean and South America, as if to indicate the direction it wants to go in, Miami has become a paradise for food lovers. So, please join me, Burt Wolf, for a taste of the local flavors of Greater Miami and the Beaches.

When Ponce de Leon showed up in Florida in 1513, he was looking for the Fountain Of Youth. He must have missed Miami's South Beach. Ah, yes, shapes not found in nature.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Too bad about De Leon. Florida did little for him. But he and his fellow explorer, Hernando De Soto, did a lot for Florida, especially when it comes to eating and drinking. They were the first two guys to bring cattle and pigs to North America, and the Franciscan missionaries who followed them brought in Spanish recipes, rice and European spices. So, the Spanish influence on the food of Miami goes back for well over 500 years.

BURT WOLF: Today the best place to see and taste that influence is in Miami's Little Havana, and the best place to start is the bakery at Versailles. My guide is Herb Sosa, a Cuban-American, a friend, and a serious eater.

HERB SOSA ON CAMERA: Well, Burt this is breakfast in Little Havana for us, a variety of fried and baked goods. We've got everything from croquetas over here, croquettes, pastelitos, which, again, are a nice, light, flaky, pastry, that can be filled with anything from meat to guava to cream cheese or a combination of both. Empanadas, over here, those are the guava pastries over there. And this is fun. This is a type of bread. It's a version of the Cuban bread. We call it a patines, which is a roller skate because it resembles a roller skate with the wheels. And again, the codfish fritters are also a delicacy and, certainly, a favorite, and all of that has to get washed down with Cuban coffee, of course.

BURT WOLF: Ah! I'm ready.

HERB SOSA: Like some?


HERB SOSA ON CAMERA: There you go. Nice and strong and hot.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: What makes it Cuban coffee?

HERB SOSA: The way that it's brewed.

BURT WOLF: Strong and sweet.

HERB SOSA: Absolutely. Lots of sugar and the foam also is . is a mixture of the sugar beaten before you pour it into the coffee and then makes it come up to the top. Before we go, I want to show you one more thing.

HERB SOSA: A variety of omelets and sandwiches here, references to our Spanish heritage. You've got the sandwiches, and the omelets filled with everything from prosciutto hams to the salmons, tomatoes, just about anything you'd like.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: And they're formed like a cake. Built up. And then sliced in triangles.

HERB SOSA ON CAMERA: Absolutely. Layers, nice and filling, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late-night, any time you're hungry.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Interesting. I've never seen a sandwich presented quite like that.

BURT WOLF: About midday, you can pop into Fritas Cubana.



BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: What does that mean?

COUNTERMAN ON CAMERA: Well, it's a tradition in Cuba. It's a . it's a patty, U.S. choice ground beef. It has spices in it, which is a recipe that we have, that my father showed me. It's got onions and home-made potatoes on a Cuban . on a Cuban bread, Cuban roll.


BURT WOLF: If you enjoy the food in Little Havana, you might like to look at some plates for it to go on, in which case you should stop into the workshop of the Curras twins. Ronald and Nelson are identical twins. But they were born a day apart, which put them under different astrological signs, very unusual for identical twins. Also one is right-handed and the other left-handed, which makes one the mirror image of the other. But those are about the only differences between them. They were born in Havana in 1940 and came to Miami in 1980. They are ceramists, and they make plates, tables and lamps in their home in Little Havana.

TRANSLATOR: Our grandfather who lived in Spain started a ceramics business, and we carried on in the tradition.

BURT WOLF: Where do you draw your ideas from?

TRANSLATOR: The flora and fauna of Cuba, their native homeland, the colors, the architecture, the plants, the animals, everything, that reminds them of their old Cuba. Our colors are inspired by the Tropics. They're hot. They're vibrant, like the Tropics that we come from. We work simultaneously and, together on both the concepts as well as in the actual work. One would start the design. The other one would continue, or vice versa, and also, when it comes to the murals with the ceramic tiles, we lay the tiles out, and, again, we don't have any preconceived ideas or notions on what the design will be. We just start and take it, as whatever inspires us at the time.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The next major gastronomic influence came from the thousands of Black Africans who were brought to the New World as slaves. They began arriving in Florida during the 1500s and brought with them the first eggplants, yams, sesame seeds and okra. The African word for okra, by the way, is gumbo. So, every time you're looking at a bowl of gumbo, you are looking at a recipe with a strong African influence.

BURT WOLF: These days you can get a taste of the Black African influence at Ortanique in Coral Gables. An ortanique, by the way, is a citrus fruit that is indigenous to Jamaica, it’s a cross between an orange, a tangerine and a grapefruit. The fruit at Ortanique is described as New World Caribbean cuisine. We opened with a Tropical mango and hearts of palm salad with passion fruit vinaigrette topped with candied pecans. Main course was grouper that had been marinated in an orange liqueur teriyaki sauce and then sauteed. Dessert was chocolate Tia Maria mousse and cinnamon cream rolled in a chocolate sponge cake and garnished with raspberries and mint. At the end of this program, I'll show you how to get the recipes for the dishes in this show.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Since the 1920s, Miami Beach has been associated with Jews coming down from the Northeast. But the truth of the matter is the first Jews came to Florida in the middle of the 1700s. They came as fur traders and stayed on to become merchants and farmers. It's impossible to find any gastronomic evidence of that first group. But the Jews that came down in the 1920s left an extraordinary menu.

BURT WOLF: One of the places you can order from that menu is the Rascal House.

MAN EATER ON CAMERA: Whenever I’m in town I always had the stuffed cabbage, and on Mondays the split pea soup is really terrific as well.

MAN EATER ON CAMERA: Has the best potato pancakes there is in town.

MAN EATER ON CAMERA: The pastrami is wonderful, it’s wonderful, wonderful here at the Rascal House.

MAN EATER ON CAMERA: The corned beef is great. The pickles are great, and I love 'em all.

WOMAN EATER ON CAMERA: I love matzoh ball soup. I eat it all the time.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: What am I? Chopped liver? During the 1880s, wealthy industrialists in the Midwest and Northeast began taking an interest in Florida. Flagler built a railroad all the way down to the tip of Key West. By the early 1900s, Miami was attracting the rich and famous and many of the great hotels were being put up, and many of those great hotels had excellent restaurants.

BURT WOLF: The idea of a hotel with a great restaurant is still part of the Miami tradition. A perfect example is a restaurant called Wish located at a hotel called The Hotel. The executive chef is Andrea Curto, and she taught me a few of her signature dishes. The first course was a goat cheese tart. We started with goat cheese in a mixing bowl and added in eggs, cream, roasted garlic cloves, chopped mushrooms, chive, thyme and a little salt and pepper. That gets spread out onto a pre-baked sheet of tart dough which goes into the oven for about 15 minutes. When it comes out, it cools for half an hour, at which point it is sliced, garnished and served.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: That tart was baked in a jelly-roll pan. A jelly-roll pan is basically a baking sheet with sides that turn up for about an inch. When you're picking one out you want one that will conduct heat evenly all over the surface. You want sturdy construction, a rolled edge, so it will hold its shape. I always like the shiny ones rather than the dark ones. I think they will give you a better surface on the food you are cooking, and if you butter it properly, you won't have any problems with release. In terms of size, get the biggest one that will fit into your oven but make sure there's two inches of space completely around the pan and the walls of your oven.

BURT WOLF: The main course was crispy snapper. A little vegetable oil is heated in a frying pan. As soon as it's hot, in goes in a few filets of snapper, skin-side down. They cook for about a minute and then go into the oven for five minutes more. When it comes out, it's served with a sweet corn risotto, cilantro butter sauce, bok choy, a grilled shrimp and a little roe.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Andrea cooked that fish in a cast iron pan. Now, the first time you use a cast iron pan, you're gonna have to season it. What you do is you rub a light coating of oil on the inside and put the pan into a 200 degree oven for about a half an hour. The oil will bake into the little holes in the surface of the pan and give you a better release surface. Now, there was a time where almost all of the pots and pans in the United States were made out of cast iron, and every time you cooked, a little iron came out of the pan and into the food and into you. And then we started using other metals for our pots and pans and covering the cast iron with enamel, and suddenly, people began developing iron deficiencies. Maybe we should cook a little more in cast iron.

BURT WOLF: Dessert was a strawberry shortcake made by Chef Everardo Villa. A tender shortcake is cut in half and one side is given a splash of simple sugar syrup, then surrounded with creme anglaise and a little more simple syrup. An avalanche of strawberries that have been marinating in a sugar syrup arrives, followed by a mound of freshly whipped cream. The top disk of shortcake goes on, a dusting of confectioner's sugar, and finally, a sprig of mint. I'm often reminded that one of the ways in which a society defines itself is by the things it manufactures. Till the middle of the 1700s, almost everything was made one at a time. But the Industrial Revolution changed that. Mass production required each product to have a specific design and that all examples of that product be uniform. Eventually, governments and corporations realized that they could use design to influence the public and right here in Miami Beach, is an extraordinary museum dedicated to that idea. It's called the Wolfsonian Collection of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, and it has over 70,000 objects that show you how the things that a society creates illustrates its political and cultural values.

CATHY LEFF ON CAMERA: Our interest is, in looking at objects as agents or reflections of political, technological and social change. So, we're really interested in the idea behind the object and the context in which it was created, or the message of the maker, as opposed to the maker or the aesthetic movement.

BURT WOLF: I was particularly interested in the history of the cocktail shaker. It appears that one of the consequences of the First World War was a fear of foreigners, a fear that contributed to the passage of the Volstead Act, which prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages. In part, Prohibition was an attempt to Americanize the country by curbing the drinking habits of immigrants. However, 14 years of Prohibition only contributed to the rise of drinking and especially of the cocktail. A range of mixes were developed to mask the rough taste and extend the supply of the bootleg liquor. Bartenders created rickeys, slings, smashes, and fizzes. The modern cocktail became the hot drink in American Jazz Age speakeasies and home parties.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The objects that are mass-produced by a society tell you a lot about what's going on or was going on in that community. So does its architecture, and in terms of architecture, that is particularly true here in Miami.

BURT WOLF: The stock market crash of 1929 introduced the Great Depression, the period of economic hardship for the entire nation during which there was very little consuming by the average consumer. For the majority of Americans, any form of luxurious living during the 1930s was out of the question. The Great Depression ended as the Second World War began, and once again conspicuous consumption was unavailable or unacceptable. It was not until the early 1950s that the nation was ready to start spending, and it came up to the cash register with a shopping list that had been building up for twenty years. We had it and we wanted to flaunt it. On Miami beach, the buildings that best expressed that pent-up need for opulence were the Fontainebleu and the Eden Roc hotels, both named after great buildings in France and both outrageous. The Deauville which was named after a resort area in France was right in there with them and has been restored to its original splendor as the Radisson Deauville Resort. It was built as a movie set for the common people to play in, and boy! did it work. The staircase is a perfect example. You took the elevator down from your room to the mezzanine, then, in your mink stole, made your grand entrance. The wall of the room you entered looked modern but luxurious, a difficult trick because modern was supposed to be sparse. But sparse wouldn't sell to the masses. The columns are also unusual. Normally, columns are supposed to look like they are holding up something heavy. These are clearly designed to look like they are not. All they want to say is: "Hey, look! we got columns."

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: They even have a barber shop that's right out of the 50s. The chairs are like two-tone Chevy Belair. They even have a handbrake. Vrmm. Vrmm. I love this place.

BURT WOLF: The idea of opulence is still very much alive in Miami, and these days it often shows up in a restaurant.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Now, the most recent group to immigrate to Miami came from Southeast Asia, and they helped create something called fusion cuisine. But instead of showing up in small places in the Asian community, it often shows up in some of the city's most luxurious restaurants.

BURT WOLF: Bambu is an example. Two stories high, with a Zen-like decor, it was put together by a group that included the actress, Cameron Diaz. The chef is Rob Boone whose menu focuses on the foods of Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand. Sushi, with freshly grated wasabi, Shanghai noodle pad thai with shrimp, green curry chicken with lime juice and coconut milk. A nice assortment of teas. And for dessert, a selection of ripe tropical fruits with a mint drizzle. A Miami chef with an unusual ability to take the Asian influence and turn it into something new and special is Michael Schwartz. His restaurant, called Nemo, is in South Beach, a block from the Atlantic Ocean. But considering the Chinese and Japanese elements, it could easily be on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. The main course was wok charred salmon on a four-sprout salad. The recipe starts with a marinade of chopped garlic in sesame oil. A boneless, skinless filet of salmon is spread with the marinade and allowed to sit in the refrigerator overnight. Salmon was cut on an extreme angle in order to create as much surface as possible. When you're ready to cook, a salad is made from four different kinds of sprouts, which are placed into a bowl along with a few slices of Bell peppers, red onion, and escarole and dressed with a soy lime vinaigrette. A little oil is heated in a hot wok. The salmon is set into the wok. The side with the garlic marinade goes down. And the fish cooks for two or three minutes. You want the garlic and the ginger to char but not burn. Then another minute of cooking on the other side, and it's on to the salad. The heat of the salmon wilts the salad.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: That fish was cooked in a wok. So, let me say a few words about woks. Traditional Chinese stoves have a round hole in the top. So, the wok is round to fit on it. It's also wider than the hole, so it won't slide in. We don't have that problem in the United States, and the best woks for us are flat on the bottom so they will sit firmly on our gas and electric ranges. It's also nice to have a Western-style long handle. Gives you a better grip, and a handle that won't respond to the heat is pretty good, too. You also want a helper handle so you can move it more easily. This one is about 14 inches wide, which is generally the best dimension for the average home. It has a non-stick surface. The black surface on the outside helps conduct heat better, and the shape of the wok is designed so that the foods will slide in to the center, which is the hottest part of the wok. Nice stuff. We can use it for deep fat frying, for stir frying. You can put a steamer basket on it, or, if you pop a top on it, it's good for braising.

BURT WOLF: For dessert, we had freshly-baked biscotti with fruit sorbets. Hedy Goldsmith is the pastry chef, and she started the recipe by whipping egg whites and lemon juice together until the whites began to stand in soft peaks, at which point sugar is slowly added until the whites form stiff peaks. Egg yolks, vanilla and lemon zest are mixed together then folded into the egg whites. Flour is folded in, then a little more sugar and, finally, dried cherries, toasted almonds and dried cranberries.

HEDY GOLDSMITH ON CAMERA: There's a real easy way to line the foil in the loaf pan. You just invert the loaf pan. Take your foil. And actually, what you're gonna do is you're gonna make the shape of the loaf pan out of the foil.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Ah, it's so cool.


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Even at my age, I can learn something new every day.

HEDY GOLDSMITH ON CAMERA: Turn it over, and you already have the shape of the loaf pan. Just place it right in. And that's it.

BURT WOLF: Super. The batter goes into a foil-lined loaf pan. Then the pan goes into a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. At which point, it comes out and gets covered with foil and then goes back in for 30 minutes more. When it comes out, it rests. The foil on top keeps the cake from forming a crust. Then it's sliced and goes back into the oven for another half hour to dry.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: One of the keys to the success of this recipe is the accuracy of your oven, and the only way you're gonna know if your oven is accurate is to have an oven thermometer. When you pick one out, make sure it has sturdy construction and a base, so you can sit it on the rack and a hook, so you can hang it on the rack. You want a big, easy-read face with lots of contrast between the numbers and the background. A third color should be there to the pointer. You want it to have a temperature range of 100 degrees to over 500 degrees. One of the reasons I like this one a lot is it responded quickly but not too quickly. Remember, to get a reading, you're going to open the oven door. Cold air is gonna come in. If it responds too quickly, you'll never know what the actual temperature was when you were baking. You should always have an oven thermometer in your oven.

BURT WOLF: When they come out, they're served with an assortment of fruit sorbets. That recipe was adapted from Maida Heatter's "Brand New Book Of Great Cookies." And let me tell you, Maida Heatter is one great cookie baker. Every culture has a clear set of rules about how certain ingredients should be combined and when they should be eaten. It’s fine to take flour and water and yeast and make it into a slice of bread that comes to breakfast with strawberry jam and a glass of milk. But if I take the same ingredients and have strawberry shortcake for breakfast, people might think that's strange. Now, the reason I've been thinking about this is because I saw these two little kids heading off to school at eight o'clock in the morning with ice cream cones. I wondered why. Excuse me. Where did you guys get these ice cream cones?

BOY 1 ON CAMERA: Over there at my dad's ice cream shop.

BOY 2 ON CAMERA: It’s great. You should get some.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: And he gives you ice cream?

BOY 1 and 2 ON CAMERA: Yeah.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: And it's . right over there?



BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: And you're on your way to school?


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: I love this. Thank you.

BOY 1 and 2 ON CAMERA: You're welcome.



BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: I just saw two young men walking off to school with ice cream cones. They said you were their father, and that you give them ice cream cones for breakfast.

RICHARD ESPESO ON CAMERA: Yeah. And I'm sure. And I'm proud of it also.

BURT WOLF: I found out that their father owned one of the best ice cream and sorbet shops in Miami, and they stop in each morning on the way to school to get their breakfast milk, fruit and waffle in the form of an ice cream cone. Okay , I'll have a banana.




BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: See, that's a part of breakfast. You always have bananas.

RICHARD ESPESO ON CAMERA: That's right. You have bananas for breakfast. But these even are better. These have . these are sorbets. So, it's a non-fattening breakfast.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Oh! Okay. Well, now I know where I’ll be having my breakfast in Miami. How much is that?


BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Okay. There you are. Thanks a lot.

RICHARD ESPESO ON CAMERA: Well, thank you very much.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Nutritionists tell us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that we shouldn't miss it, and let me tell you. Those two kids never do. And speaking of not missing things, I hope you have enjoyed this visit to Greater Miami and the Beaches and that you will join us next time on Local Flavors. I'm Burt Wolf.

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