Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Enter to Win: How Salty Are You? Contest--CLOSED

A friend of mines tried my carrot ginger soup recipe awhile back. She was all excited by the picture I posted of my version using French carrots I’d gotten at the farmers market. She tried to be nice when she told me that it turned out OK.

I quizzed her about how she prepared it, trying to see whether I needed to tweak my recipe. She used regular carrots (which is fine, but I’ve come to realize that French carrots do make a difference—they’re more intense in taste) and she used chicken bouillon cubes to make her broth. I suspect that it might be that her broth base wasn’t enough to boost the flavor of the soup, but what I really suspected was that she needed a bit more salt.

When I asked her how she added salt to her soup, she said she sprinkled some from her salt shaker. I told her that I didn’t think she could get much salt into her pot of soup from a shaker, which is really designed for adding salt at the table. But I’ve found that many people are used to adding salt from their shaker. Sure, you don’t want to go crazy adding salt (especially if you have high blood pressure), but I believe salt is the flavor of life (Phoebe said that once on “Friends”) and you need a good amount to salt things like a pot of soup, bland mashed potatoes, or when roasting beef.

I love salt. I’m a very savory person. (When I was growing up, I used to love everything sour like vinagrettes.) And I recently checked to see how many types of salt I had in my pantry. Turns out I have seven different varieties. (Note to self: Remember to keep salt out in the open so I remember to use them.) I think salt can be very beautiful too, so I think that’s why I bought so many. The salt I use in my cooking are often natural sea salt because the coarseness feels nice when I grab the grains to toss them into my recipes. Also, natural sea salt doesn’t contain additives and is less processed (or is unprocessed) than Morton salt.

Below are photos of the different salt I have. I thought it might be fun to do a contest (my first!) to see who can match the varieties of salt with the photos. Below the photos are names and descriptions of the salt. Email me with your guesses and the first person to get a perfect score wins! (The prize is a sample kit of four different salts in this nice tin box I got at my recent visit to the Copia gift shop in Napa. It’s not big, but it’s pretty. Hey, I have no sponsors so the prize is what it is! Send me money and maybe I can have bigger prizes next time.) Contest closes on April 15, 2007 (tax day). At that time, I’ll see who got the perfect score. If there is more than one, then the winner will be the one who emailed me first with the right answers. If there’s no perfect score, it’ll go to the person with the closest number of guesses. Good luck! (Contest now closed. Thanks for playing. Go here for the answers.)
The How Salty Are You? Contest:
Match the letters of the photos with the numbers to the correct description below. Email your guesses to singleguychef@comcast.net before 6 p.m. (PDT), April 15. Be sure to include your mailing address so I know where to send the prize. (Click on the photo to enlarge the image to get a better view.)

1) Hawaiian Sea Salt—Made from evaporated sea water of the Hawaiian islands. I grew up with this salt, which is the key ingredient in roasting pig (or pork) to make kalua pig. (When I had a sore throat, my mom would make me gargle with salt water using Hawaiian sea salt because of its intensity. Eck! I rather cook with it.)

2) Fleur de Sel—Considered the Diamond standard of sea salt, this French sea salt means “flower of salt” and the particular version I have is from the Island of Re. I love its flakiness and I use it for roasting, like when I roast vegetables with Herbs de Provence and olive oil.

3) Murray River Pink Flake Salt—This might be obvious, but I thought this salt was so beautiful when I saw it at Dean & Deluca a few years back. It’s from Australia and has this light pink color. The variety at Dean & Deluca is more pink than what I’ve seen at other stores. It’s used primarily as a finishing salt added at the end of a dish or at the table. So pretty!

4) Kosher salt—This is my main everyday salt. It’s a little coarser than regular Morton salt and does not contain any additives. Kosher salt doesn’t get its name because it’s Kosher (virtually all salt is Kosher) but because it’s the type of salt often used to make things Kosher such as curing meats.

5) Lavender Sea Salt—OK, you guys who read this blog regularly should know by now that I love lavender, so of course I have to have lavender sea salt in my kitchen. The one I have on hand is from The Girl & The Fig and lavender salt is best used at the table side to accent a nice pork or lamb dish.

6) Alaea Sea Salt—Another salt from Hawaii, this one gained popularity over the last few years and has this beautiful color it gets from red clay, where the salt is dried and scraped off of. Because of the red clay influence, it’s a bit more earthy in taste. I gave it to a friend once in a bottle and she thought it was candy!

7) Sel Marin “Grey Salt”—This is naturally harvested unprocessed sea salt from Brittany, France. It’s a step below Fleur de Sel but is just as flavorful.

Disclaimer: No employees (yeah, like there really are) or family members of Cooking With The Single Guy may enter. All entrants must be over 18 years old and reside in the United States. Mailing of prizes will occur within 15 days of the announcement of the winner. Cooking With The Single Guy is not liable for damage of prize that may occur in transit (namely the postal service). All products and products name mentioned in this contest should not be considered a recommendation or endorsement but simply a recitation of what’s in the kitchen of the Single Guy Chef. Rules are clearly stated above and Cooking With The Single Guy is not liable for people who can’t read properly or have difficulty comprehending or even knowing what the word comprehend means.

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