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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

PRODUCT: Easier Homemade Pretzels

Here’s help if you want to make homemade pretzels (see the recipe below): the Silpat baking sheet for that Perfect Pretzel Baking Sheet.

Just lay the dough over the outlines for uniform-shaped pretzels every time.

The sheet is 16.5 inches x 11.6 inches.

While the first group of pretzels is cooling down, put the next batch in…and count the moments until you can bite into a warm pretzel.

 

pretzel-mat-230-amz

Turn out uniform shapes. Photo courtesy Silpat.

 

  

Comments

RECIPE: Homemade Soft Pretzels

homemade-pretzels-ws-230

Bake a batch for National Pretzel Day. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

 

April 26th is National Pretzel Day. Bake a batch of delicious soft pretzels and serve with grainy mustard and beer.

This recipe is courtesy Williams-Sonoma. See more photos of the process.

Find more delicious recipes at WilliamsSonoma.com.
 
RECIPE: SOFT PRETZELS

Ingredients For 12 Large Pretzels

  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 3-1/4 cups (16 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (2-1/2 ounces) baking soda
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • Grainy mustard for serving (you can substitute Dijon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together in the bowl of a stand mixer the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    2. ADD the olive oil, flour and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

     

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F with the rack placed in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the parchment with oil. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 18 inches long. Position each rope positioned horizontally.

    4. BRING the 2 ends of the rope up and toward the center as if forming an oval. Cross one end over the other, and press each end into the bottom of the oval to create a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared pan.

    5. FILL a large, wide saucepan with 7 cups of water. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Gently drop 2 or 3 pretzels at a time into the boiling water (be careful not to overcrowd them). Boil for just under 1 minute, turning once with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return the boiled pretzels to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly, top side up.

    6. SPRINKLE the pretzels with coarse salt. Bake until beautifully browned, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Serve warm with big spoonfuls of grainy mustard.

     

    homemade-pretzels-mustard-ws--230

    BYOB and dig in! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     
    GRAINY MUSTARD & MUSTARD HISTORY

    The origins of mustard are lost to history, but it is a Northern Hemisphere plant, the seeds of which have been found in Stone Age settlements.

  • Egyptians tossed the seeds onto their food, and sent King Tut to the great beyond with a good supply in his tomb.
  • The Sumerians ground it into a paste and mixed it with verjus, the juice of unriped grapes.
  • Wealthy Greeks and Romans ground mustard seeds and mixed them with wine at the table.
  •  
    Cultivated for thousands of years, mustard was the primary spice known to Europeans before the advent of the Asian spice trade. Westerners had mustard long before pepper, which originated in India. Once trade routes were established, ancient people from India to Egypt to Rome chewed mustard seeds with their meat for seasoning.

    Our word mustard comes from the Middle English mustarde, meaning condiment; which in turn comes from the Old French mostarde. Mosto derives from the Latin mustum, the word for grape must, or young, unfermented wine, which was the liquid mixed with ground mustard seed by French monks who made the condiment. The monks’ word for mustard was mustum ardens, meaning burning wine.

    By the 1400s, mustard-making had spread through Europe; each region made its own style.

    One of the earliest versions was grainy mustard, a more casual name for what is known as old-style or old-fashioned mustard, and moutarde à l’ancienne in French.

    Grainy mustard is prepared from a base of mixed mustard seeds, verjus or white wine, spices and herbs. The ingredients are ground coarsely in order to leave the seeds whole.

    Grainy mustard has a dark color and a slightly milder flavor than other mustards. It has a slightly sweet taste, making it a good accompaniment for rustic foods like sausages or country-style pates and cornichons. It can be mixed with melted garlic butter and fresh thyme to create a sauce to drizzle over fish, and many other creative preparations.

    Here’s more on the history of mustard and the different types of mustard.

     
    *Today, white wine and verjus are used to make some mustard varieties; vinegars are used to make most others.

      

    Comments

    CINCO DE MAYO: Chocolate Churros Recipe

    Add cocoa powder to make chocolate churros. Photo courtesy MommieCooks.com.

     

    A churro is a fried-dough pastry snack, typically made from choux pastry (pâte à choux). While churros are most often found on the dessert menus at Mexican restaurants, served with chocolate dipping sauce, their origin may be far away from Mexico.

    One theory says that churros were brought to Europe from Ming Dynasty China by the Portuguese. Another theory is that churros were created by Spanish shepherds, easy to make and fry over an open fire in the mountains.

    Beyond Mexico and the rest of Latin America, they are popular in France, the Philippines, Portugal, the Southwestern United States and Spain. Depending on region, they can be longer and thinner or shorter and thicker.

    Ed Engoron, co-founder of Choclatique gourmet chocolates and author of Choclatique: Simply Elegant Desserts, sent us his recipe for chocolate churros.

    “This is my favorite Mexican fast food dessert and it’s perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration,” says Ed. “They are a common street food and can also be found at fairs and carnivals in both America and Mexico.

     
    “In recent years many vendors have resorted to frozen churros, choosing to just fry them off. I think my freshly made version presented here is far better than frozen. I made them even more delectable with the addition of Choclatique Rouge Unsweetened Cocoa Powder to give it a light chocolate flavor (and Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate for the drizzle).

    “Fried chocolate-how bad could it be?”

    Prep time is 10 minutes, fry time is 30 minutes.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE CHURROS

    Ingredients For 24 Churros

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup margarine (not butter)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  •  

    Preparation

    1. STIR together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl; set aside.

    2. PREHEAT the oil to 360°F in a heavy deep skillet or deep-fryer (use a kitchen thermometer). The oil should be at least 1-1/2 inches deep. While the oil is heating…

    3. HEAT the water and margarine to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour/cocoa mixture. Reduce the heat to low and stir vigorously until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs one at a time.

    4. SPOON the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Carefully squeeze out 4-inch long strips of dough directly into the hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove from hot oil to drain on paper towels. Roll each of the churros in the cinnamon-sugar mixture while still hot.

     

    chopped-chocolate-nothinbutfoods-230

    Chop a quality chocolate bar to make the chocolate sauce. Photo courtesy Nothin But Foods.

     
    *Note that if the oil isn’t hot enough, the churros will be greasy. If the oil is hotter than 460°, they will not get fully cooked on the inside. So be sure to use a thermometer!
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE

    Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white vegetable shortening
  • Optional garnish: fresh seasonal berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate and shortening in a small resealable freezer bag. Microwave on HIGH for about 30 seconds until chocolate is melted. Massage the chocolate and shortening together in the bag.

    2. SNIP off corner and drizzle over the fried churros in cinnamon-sugar.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Miso Paste

    sweet-white-miso-crumbsandtales-230

    White miso paste, also called mild or sweet
    miso. Photo courtesy CrumbsAndTales.com.
    Try their recipe for carrot, miso and ginger
    salad dressing.

     

    Almost everyone who has been to a Japanese restaurant has had miso soup. But today’s tip includes other things to do with miso (MEE-zoe).

    Thanks to the popularity of miso, you can find at least one type of miso paste in many supermarkets and all natural foods stores (Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, for example).

    Miso is a paste made from soybeans and grains (typically barley or rice), koji (a fungus that serves as a fermenting agent) and sea salt. It can ferment from a short time (for mild homemade miso) to three years (for red miso). The result has the consistency of hummus.

    The fermentation produces an enzyme-rich, living food that contains many beneficial microorganisms. However, it also has a relatively high salt content.

    Miso should be refrigerated and added to cooked foods just before they are removed from the heat.

     

    TYPES OF MISO PASTE

    Different types of miso paste are available in Japanese markets (like Sunrise Mart in New York City). Natural food stores typically carry the three most common.

    The deeper the color, the higher the percentage of soybeans and the stronger the flavor.

  • White miso paste, shiromiso, is the most common form. It has just a small amount of soybeans; the majority ingredient is riceor barley. White miso is also called mild miso and sweet miso, and is used mostly in salad dressings and marinades. It is also incorporated into Japanese and vegan desserts.
  • Yellow miso paste is stronger than white miso. It is a combination of barley and rice, and the most versatile of the varieties, used for glazes, marinades and soups.
  • Red miso paste is the strongest, fermented the longest to a deep red or deep brown color, made from mostly soybeans. The more percentage of soybeans, the longer the fermentation and the deeper the color. It is used to add heartier flavors to vegetables asparagus, eggplant and kale; dips, sauces and spreads.
  •  
    WAYS TO USE MISO PASTE

    In Japan, miso soup is a culinary staple, whisked into dashi (stock) and enjoyed at any meal, starting with breakfast. It is also used to give an earthier flavor to noodle soups, such as ramen and udon.

    It is also used as a condiment/seasoning:

  • Braising meats, seafood (try miso-braised cod) and vegetables (try eggplant and mushrooms)
  • Compound butter: East meets West (how to make compound butter)
  • Dips and spreads: season with spices and use with crudités and rice crackers
  • Dressing: whisked into a dressing for salads and cooked vegetables
  • Grilling, as an overnight marinade and a glaze (coat corn on the cob, wrap in foil and grill)
  • Pickling, for a sweeter variety of vegetables pickles
  • Sauces: misoyaki is a variant of teriyaki
  •  

    Americans have incorporated miso into Western cuisine, from gravy to risotto and quich. For inspiration, pick up a book like The Miso Book: The Art of Cooking with Miso. It not only has many recipes, but shows you how to make your own miso paste from scratch.

    Start by making miso soup and salad dressing with the recipes below.

    RECIPE: EASY MISO DRESSING

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil (peanut, vegetable)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons white miso
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey or 1/4 teaspoon agave
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  •  

    miso-soup-2-sushiloungeNJ-230

    A familiar bowl of miso soup. Photo courtesy Sushi Lounge | NJ.

  • Optional additions: chili flakes/sriracha, grated fresh ginger, peanut butter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Taste and add more honey or vinegar as you prefer.

    2. STORE leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

     
    RECIPE: EASY MISO SOUP

    Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dashi granules*
  • 1/4 cup red miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried seaweed, reconstituted in water and drained
  • 1/2 cup cubed tofu
  • 2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the water into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the instant dashi; whisk to dissolve. Turn the heat to medium-low and add the tofu and seaweed. Simmer for 2 minutes. While the soup simmers…

    2. SPOON the miso paste into a bowl. Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot dashi broth into the bowl and whisk until the miso paste melts and is the mixture smooth.

    3. TURN off the heat and add the miso paste to the pot. Stir well. Taste the soup and whisk in another 1-2 tablespoons of miso paste as desired. Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.

     
    *This is the easy version; the soup will be ready in 10 minutes. When you have time, try a recipe that uses homemade dashi stock, made from fish and kelp. For quick recipes, dashi is also available in a bouillon cube format.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Spatter Guard For Mixers

    spatter-guard-kuhnrikon-230

    No more cake mix spatters! Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

    Love to bake, but hate the messy mixer splatters?

    Kuhn Rikon, which has helped keep kitchens clean with its Splatter Guard cover for skillets and woks and a combination spatter shield and strainer, now brings neatness to baking.

    There’s a new spatter guard for electric mixers!

    You can keep the batter in the bowl with the Mixer Splatter Guard, which protects your work area from spatters generated by electric mixers.

    It works with bowls up to 12 inches in diameter. The transparent lid fits most handheld and stand mixers and allows you to see inside the bowl.

     
    For Immersion Blenders, Too

    The new mixer shield also works with immersion blenders, bringing neatness to soup-making as well.
     

    Head to Amazon.com to order yours, and perhaps a few extras as gifts for your favorite bakers.
     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Confetti Cake

    With the success of The Flintstones television series, Post Foods obtained a license from Hanna-Barbera for Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles breakfast cereals. Introduced in 1971, the crisp rice cereal bits are still going strong.

    And not just for breakfast, either. They’ve made their way into a variety of baked goods, from donuts to Rice Krispie Treats. Fruity Pebbles, in particular, provides a rainbow of six colors to add brightness and crunch. The cereal has generated a plethora of Fruity Pebbles cakes.

    Depending on your crowd, you may prefer to call them confetti cakes.

    It’s spring, it’s almost Mother’s Day: It’s time to think of making a confetti cake:

  • Bundt cake (recipe)
  • Cake roll (recipe)
  • Cheesecake: as a topper, mixed into the batter or both.
  • Cupcake toppers (recipe)
  • Ice cream cake (recipe)
  • Ice cream pie (recipe)
  •  

    strawberry-fruity-pebble-bunt-cake-lecremedelacrumb-230r

    Sophisticated: a Fruity Pebbles bundt. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Le Creme De La Crumb.

  • Layer cake: top only, sides only, atop the filling layer(s) inside, or over the whole surface of the cake; mixed into the batter and atop the frosting (recipe)
  • Sheet cake: mixed into the batter and as a garnish atop the frosting
  •  

    MORE CONFETTI CAKE

    Check out Pillsbury’s Funfetti cake mix.

    We love these neon confetti cake decorations.

    The easiest default: mixed sprinkles.

      

    Comments

    CINCO DE MAYO: Make Menudo, A Hearty Mexican Soup

    menudo-tripe-norecipes-230

    Menudo, a Mexican stew made with tripe
    (chuck roast can be substituted). Photo
    courtesy NoRecipes.com.

     

    Chef Johnny Gnall’s mother grew up in Mexico City. She discovered her talent for cooking at a young age, and amassed recipes from friends and family while still a young girl.

    Her greatest teacher, however, was her nanny, Eulalia, a native Mexican. A tremendous source of knowledge on authentic Mexican cooking, many of Eulalia’s recipes dated back several hundred years. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, Johnny shares this one.

    “Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made from tripe (cow stomach). It is very hearty and lore suggests it as a hangover cure. Foreign to most Americans, tripe is actually a lot better than it sounds. If cooked right, its flavor and texture become like that of great pot roast.

    “Buttery and velvety on your palate, the meat almost melts in your mouth and gives an unmistakable richness to the whole dish. If you’re still not convinced and the thought of stomach is a bit much (or your butcher doesn’t have any on hand), you can substitute chuck roast for a more American-friendly menudo.

    “Traditionally, you would use a casuela, a large earthenware pot; but any pot will do if you’re short on Mexican earthenware.”

    There is also an unrelated Philippine menudo, a stew made with sliced pork and calf’s liver in tomato sauce.

    RECIPE: MENUDO

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chuck roast or tripe
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 bulb of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 tablespoon each: marjoram, oregano and thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few pinches of salt
  • 4 cups of Peruvian corn (maiz—see note below)
  •  
    For The Chile Sauce

  • 5 fresno chiles
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    Garnishes

  • Chili powder
  • Chopped white onion
  • Lime wedges
  • Oregano
  • Salsa(s)
  •  
    Plus

  • Warm tortillas
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the bay leaf, garlic and onion in a piece of cheesecloth tied with kitchen twine, or other device for easy removal.

    2. DICE the beef into half-inch pieces and place in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, herbs and salt and fill the pot the remainder of the way with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 4 hours, or until the meat is fall-apart tender. Then turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf, garlic and onion.

    3. BOIL the corn in a separate pot until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

    4. COOK the corn. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

    5. MAKE the chile sauce. Soak the chiles in hot water for 20 minutes. Then combine them in a blender with the other ingredients plus enough of the beef broth to keep things spinning with ease. Once blended, strain and add to the pot of beef. Simmer for 20 more minutes, then add the corn.

    6. SERVE with the garnishes on the side so people can add what they like. Add some warm tortillas into the mix and you are good to go!

     

    peruvian-corn-choclo-peruviandelights-230r

    This is maiz, also called choclo in Peru and Peruvian corn in the U.S. Photo courtesy PeruvianDelights.com.

     
    MORE ABOUT MENUDO

    In Mexico, there are regional variations, which have been brought to Mexican-American communities in the U.S.

    There’s annual Menudo Festival in Santa Maria, California, where you can feast on the different varieties. Here’s more about menudo.
     
    WHAT IS PERUVIAN CORN

    Most historians believe that maize was domesticated in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico. Numerous varieties were cultivated by the Olmecs and Mayas. Corn had spread throughout Mesoamerica by 2500 B.C.E.

    In a region with so many varieties of corn, names evolved. The type of corn grown in the U.S. is called elote (ee-LO-tay). Peruvian-style corn, with giant white kernels, is called maiz (ma-EES).

    It is also called choclo in Peru (more than 30 varieties of corn are grown in every color and size imaginable). These jumbo kernels have a different texture than American corn varieties and are less sweet. They were first cultivated in Cusco, the city high in the Andes that was once the capital of the Inca empire.

    Choclo has been a staple of the Peruvian diet for thousands of years. It is used to make everything from tamales to soups and pastries.

    It can typically be found frozen or dried at Latin markets and online.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Poached Eggs On Vegetables

    poached-eggs-asstd-veg-ellarysgreensNYC-230

    Poached eggs atop a medley of sautéed vegetables. Photo courtesy Ellary’s Greens | NYC.

     

    When was the last time a plate of poached eggs looked this tempting?

    On the brunch menu at Ellary’s Greens in New York City, the chef changes vegetables with the seasons and uses them as a base for poached eggs.

    If your thoughts are with weekend brunch or what to serve for Mother’s Day breakfast, adapt this idea from Chef Kurt Alexander.

    The photo shows more of a winter palate, with Brussels sprouts, fingerling potatoes, pattypan squash and sunchoke purée, garnished with fresh dill. You can switch these out for spring vegetables.

    We went to our farmers’ market and came back with asparagus (green, purple and white!), cardoons, fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, morel mushrooms and ramps—a veritable spring feast.

    At any supermarket, you can find broccoli, fennel, pea pods, snow peas, spring peas, Swiss chard and Vidalia onions—and maybe some fava beans or lima beans plus some halved grape tomatoes for color.

     
    ANOTHER TREAT: FARM-FRESH EGGS

    If you do hit the farmers market, bring back farm-fresh eggs. You’ll marvel at how much better they taste than factory-farm eggs that can be in storage for a while before they hit the supermarket shelf.

    We steamed our vegetables and then tossed them in parsley butter with lemon, known in French cuisine as beurre à la maître d’hôtel.
     
    HOW TO POACH EGGS

    1. FILL a large, deep saucepan with 2 inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium.

    2. BREAK 1 egg into small dish. Carefully slide the egg into the simmering water (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach the eggs for 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken.

    3. CAREFULLY REMOVE the eggs with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

    If you’re not adept at poaching eggs, get an egg poacher insert. The uniform roundness it creates isn’t as eye-pleasing as a naturally-poached egg, but it beats the frustration of trying to harness meandering egg whites until you perfect the technique.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Mexican Haystacks

    Seeking something fun for Cinco de Mayo?

    A food haystack uses a starchy base (tortilla chips, saltines or rice), topped by a protein (beans, grated Cheddar cheese, taco-seasoned meat, and/or a vegetarian meat alternative), and fresh vegetables (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, peppers). It is garnished with condiments (guacamole, sour cream, salsa).

    Mexican Haystacks are like a deconstructed tostada. The haystack ingredients are served individually and assembled on the plate by the person who will be eating it. There are other variations, like Hawaiian haystacks with ham and pineapple.

    Good for a crowd, the concept been popular for at least 60 years. According to Wikipedia, they are particularly popular among Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites and Latter-Day Saints.

    You can assemble the haystacks and bring them to the table, or simply lay out the ingredients and have each person assemble their own haystack, using as little or as much of any particular ingredient.

    RECIPE: MEXICAN HAYSTACKS

    This recipe courtesy of Ginny Stevenson, adapted by Winner Dinners.
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 package (1 ounce) taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (16-ounces) refried beans
  • 1 bag tortilla chips or cooked, seasoned rice for base*
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced grape tomatoes
  • Sliced green onions
  • 1 can (2.2-ounces) sliced olives
  • 1 container (8 ounces) sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh salsa
  •  

    mexican-haystack-planet-rice-230

    Mexican Haystacks with a rice base. Photo courtesy Planet Rice.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE all of the cheeses, vegetables, and toppings as directed, placing each item in its own small bowl. Store in the fridge while you prepare the beef and beans.

    2. PLACE the ground beef, taco seasoning mix and the amount of water indicated on the seasoning package into a skillet and cook them all together, until the meat is cooked and tender and most of the water has evaporated. While the beef is cooking…

    3. PLACE the refried beans in a microwave-safe bowl and heat.

    4. BRING ingredients to the table and assemble. Place a thin layer of refried beans on a plate and then sprinkle some tortilla chips over the beans. Add the remaining ingredients in whatever order you wish. A recommended order: beef, lettuce, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, tomatoes, olives, green onions, guacamole, sour cream and salsa.
     
    *Even if you don’t use the tortilla chips for the base, you can serve them on the side.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Simple Syrup

    lemon-vanilla-twist-vodka-nielsenmassey-230

    This cocktail uses homemade lemon-vanilla
    simple syrup. Photo courtesy Nielsen-
    Massey. The recipe is below.

     

    Granulated sugar does not dissolve easily in cold beverages. That’s why simple syrup (also called bar syrup, sugar syrup or gomme, the French word for gum) is used to add sweetness to drinks such as cocktails, lemonade, iced tea and iced coffee.

    Over the last decade, flavored simple syrups have become popular with mixologists. In addition to sweetness, they’re also used to add an extra layer of flavor to drinks.

    There are lots of flavored simple syrups on the market. In addition to common flavors—blood orange, lavender, mint, pomegranate, raspberry—you can find cardamom, peach basil, pineapple jalapeno cilantro, saffron and tamarind.

    Most people buy a bottle of premade simple syrup (also available in sugar-free.) Others simply make their own—not only because it’s easy and so much less expensive, but because they can create special flavors—everything from ghost chile to strawberry rose.

    It couldn’t be easier: Just bring equal parts of water and sugar to a boil and simmer, then add any flavorings. You can even make agave or honey simple syrup by replacing the sugar.

    SUGAR TIP: Superfine sugar dissolves much more quickly than granulated table sugar. You can turn granulated sugar into superfine sugar by pulsing it in a food processor or spice mill.

     

    RECIPE: SIMPLE SYRUP

    Ingredients

  • 2 parts sugar
  • 1 part water
  • Optional flavor: 1-1/2 teaspoons extract (mint, vanilla, etc.)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly until dissolved completely. (Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or it will be too thick.)

    2. ADD the optional flavor once the sugar is fully dissolved. To infuse fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary), simmer them in the hot water for 20 minutes and remove before adding the sugar.

    3. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Allow to cool completely and thicken.

    4. STORE in an airtight container in the fridge for up to six months.

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: LEMON LIME RASPBERRY TWIST

    For spring, try this Lemon Lime raspberry Twist cocktail (photo above). The recipe from Nielsen-Massey, using their Pure Lemon and Tahitian Vanilla extracts.

    If you like heat, add some jalapejalapeñoo slices as garnish.

    Ingredients For ½ Cup Lemon-Vanilla Simple Syrup

  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Ingredients For 1 Cocktail

  • 6 fresh raspberries
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce Lemon-Vanilla Simple Syrup
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 2 ounces lemon-flavored sparkling water
  • Lime twist
  • 2 frozen raspberries
  • Orange wedge
  • Optional garnish: sliced jalapeño (remove seeds and pith)
  •  

    simple-sugar-ingredients-zulka-230

    Just mix equal parts of sugar and water, plus any flavorings. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup. Combine the water, sugar and lemon extract in a small saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup reduces, about 10-15 minutes.

    2. REMOVE from the heat. After the syrup has cooled, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Refrigerate the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge.

    3. MUDDLE in a cocktail shaker the fresh raspberries, lime juice and simple syrup. Add vodka and sparkling water; shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Drop the lime twist and frozen raspberries into glass. Top with a freshly squeezed orange wedge.
     
    WAYS TO USE SIMPLE SYRUP IN BEVERAGES

  • Cocktails
  • Nonalcoholic drinks: agua fresca, iced coffee and tea, lemonade, mocktails, sparkling water (for homemade soda)
  •  
    WAYS TO USE SIMPLE SYRUP TO SWEETEN FOODS

  • Candied peel (grapefruit, orange, etc.)
  • Glaze baked goods
  • Snow cones
  • Sorbet
  •  
    Bakers brush simple syrup on layer cakes to keep the crumb moist. If you use flavored simple syrup, it adds a nuance of flavor as well.

      

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