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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.

TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce

summer-rolls-peanut-butter-sauce-lizziemabbot-ILPB-230r

A three-ingredient peanut sauce. Photo
courtesy Lizzie Mabbot | Lizzy Eats London.

 

If you’re a fan of peanut sauce for dipping, making sesame noodles or drizzling over steamed vegetables, and diluted with salad oil for a salad dressing.

While the preparation is simple—just combine the ingredients in a bowl and blend—depending on the recipe, you can spend more time or less time measuring ingredients.

We discovered this super easy recipe version on ILovePeanutButter.com, contributed by blogger Lizzie Mabbot of Lizzy Eats London. She serves it with homemade summer rolls.

RECIPE: EASY PEANUT SAUCE

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients with a whisk. If sauce is too thick, add a little water.

     

     

    RECIPE: STANDARD PEANUT SAUCE

    This recipe, from McCormick, has more layers of flavor and takes a few more minutes to prepare—plus fish sauce and sesame oil, which you may not have on hand. McCormick uses it in their sesame noodles recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  •  

    sesame-noodles-mccormick-230sq

    Seasame noodles with peanut sauce. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Get Better Crackers

    raincoast-crisps-boxes-230

    The Nibble’s reigning favorite cracker. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    We’ve eaten more than our share of supermarket crackers—Carr’s Water Biscuits, Keebler Club Crackers, Nabisco Saltines, Ritz Crackers and the like. They’re good, but sometimes we want amazing.

    Special occasions deserve special crackers—to accompany cheese, dips, salads, soups, spreads, whatever. They may be pricier than the supermarket varieties, but if your palate craves excitement and your eyes want visual allure, it’s money well spent.

    Otherwise stated, Cracker Barrel makes perfectly tasty Cheddar cheese. But if we want a great Cheddar experience, we’ll spring for Fiscalini Farmstead, a great artisan wheel from California.

    It can be a challenge to find great crackers, even when you know what you’re looking for. Recently we raced through three specialty food stores in search of Raincoast Crisps, our current favorite cracker. We finally found them at Dean & Deluca retail and etail, and also online at iGourmet.com.

    They’re $6.79 for a six-ounce box at iGourmet, and a whopping $10 at DDL. The amazing flavors and textures and small batch production make it worth the special-occasion splurge. They’re exquisite absolutely plain or however you wish to serve them.

     
    Three more-affordable brands of special crackers we favor, all natural and artisan (small batch, better ingredients):

    Dr. Kracker

    Rolled by hand, these artisan flatbreads are long on flavor and unique in their appearance. Each cracker is topped a generous number of attractive—and healthy—seeds, sesame, sunflower, and/or pumpkin.

  • Company Website
  • Our Review
  •  

    Mary’s Gone Crackers

    Mary’s Gone Crackers are gluten-free and vegan, yet packed with so much flavor you start to wonder what is in them that makes them taste so vibrant and delicious (the answer: whole grain brown rice, whole quinoa, flax seeds and sesame seeds). They’re also organic, whole grain and OU kosher.

  • Company Website
  • Our Review
  •  
    La Panzanella Croccantini

    Unlike the previous recommendations, which are whole grain and laden with seeds, nuts or fruits, La Panzanella Croccantini provide classic Italian flare. Made from white flour, even the plain version is wonderful, but cracked pepper, garlic and rosemary versions add extra flavor. The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

  • Company Website
  • Our Review
  •  
    You can also browse the shelves at specialty food stores and try whatever looks good.

     

    raincoast-crisps-blue-cheese-230

    Raincoast Crisps with cheese. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    As with government, people get the crackers they deserve. If no one wants to pay more for better products, the shelves get stacked with more varieties of Ritz and saltines.
     
    HOW TO RE-CRISP SOGGY CRACKERS

    As crisp as they begin, crackers will attract moisture over time and get soggy. But you can easily re-crisp them:

    1. Put the crackers in the microwave on a paper towel. Don’t overlap.

    2. Microwave them for 40 seconds on medium/high.

    3. Allow the crackers to cool for 3-5 minutes. They will crisp up as they cool down.

    Crunch away!

      

    Comments

    TIP: 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip Or Spread

    spinach-mascarpone-dip-vermontcreamery-230

    What do you like to do with spinach dip?
    Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    Many people enjoy spinach dip; they just don’t enjoy it often enough.

    Recipes vary greatly (here’s a super-rich spinach-mascarpone dip). Zabar’s, the famed food emporium in New York City, is known for its vegan spinach-arugula spread, a garlicky spinach dip variation with peppery arugula punch, made with Tofutti instead of a dairy product. The ingredients are spinach, arugula, Tofutti, pesto, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, salt and pepper.

    Zabar’s chefs recommend it to liven up favorite comfort foods, weeknight dinners and entertaining staples. You can use your favorite spinach dip variation, based on using cream cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt or a combination.

    Then, use it in any of these 13 ways:

    1. Stir spinach dip into macaroni and cheese for extra color and flavor.

    2. Spread it onto split French or Italian bread loaves, cover with minced garlic mixed with a little olive oil and broil, for a twist on garlic bread.

    3. Mix with boiled halved or quartered potatoes and scallions for zesty potato salad.

     

    4. Use instead of mayo on a BLT or other sandwich.

    5. Use instead of mayo in chicken, egg, tuna, salmon or pasta salad for pumped-up flavor.

    6. Mix into mashed potatoes.

     

    7. Spread on sliced, toasted bread or crostini and serve as appetizers or with a salad.

    8. Spread on crostini, cover with Gruyère or other melting cheese and broil\; then float the crostini in your favorite soup.

    9. Use instead of cream cheese on a bagel with lox.

    10. Fill an omelet.

    11. Mix with low-fat plain Greek yogurt for a healthy crudité or chip dip.

    12. Mix with ricotta for a lasagna filling.

    13. Add to a baked potato instead of butter or sour cream.
     
    Would you like to add a tip or two to this list? Let us know.

     

    spinach-arugula-spread-zabars--230

    Spinach dip spread on crostini. Photo courtesy Zabars.com.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Seasonal Cider

    Angry-orchard-elderflower-carton-230

    Get it before it disappears from the shelves.
    Photo courtesy Angry Orchard Cider
    Company.

     

    This may well be your last weekend to pick up seasonal summer hard ciders, before producers replace them with fall blends.

    We received a shipment of Angry Orchard Elderflower Hard Cider, and have been saving it to serve this weekend.

    Elderflower is a flower that in homeopathy as well as in cooking. The white berries are used to flavor jam and other cooked fruit; the tiny white flower blossoms are distilled into liqueur (elderflower cordial was enjoyed in ancient Rome), which in turn can be added to recipes.

    We love the flavor of elderflower, which reminds us of lychee. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is a favorite that we like to serve to guests, especially mixed with sparkling wine.

    Now, for the first time, elderflower been added to cider, by Angry Orchard.
     
    *ABV means alcohol by volume.

     
    The cider is made with a combination of domestic bittersweet and culinary apples†. The apples are shredded and the pulp is pressed into juice. Wine yeast is added and the juice is fermented, then wood aged. Elderflower and other natural flavors are added before bottling.

    The finished product is pale yellow and 5% ABV*. Open the bottle and an apple aroma wafts up, along with elderflower floral.

    Light and refreshing, the flavors of crisp apple marry with the elderflower to produce semi-dry sweetness with a bit of tartness. The cider pairs nicely with smoked salmon, braised pork and a fresh berry dessert.

    You can also mix it into cocktails. Here are two from Hayley Jensen, a mixologist at Taproom No. 307 in New York City,

     
    †Bittersweet apples are not edible, but do very nicely when fermented into cider. Culinary apples are the varieties we eat.

     

    RECIPE: ORCHARD SPRITZER

    This drink is versatile: You can kick it up a notch with two ounces of any white liquor: cachaça, gin, rum, tequila or vodka.

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 ounces lychee juice/purée
  • 4 ounces Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider
  • Optional: 2 shots white spirit
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR both over ice into a pint glass. Stir and serve.
     
    RECIPE: ANGRY ELDERBERRY MOJITO

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 blueberries
  • 4 mint leaves, plus more for optional garnish
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 ounce white rum
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bottle) Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider
  • 4 slices strawberry
  •  

    rosy-cooler-cocktail-230

    Mix up a beertail or a cocktail. Photo courtesy Angry Orchard Cider Company.

     

    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE berries and mint in a pint glass. Fill glass with ice. Add rum and cider.

    2. POUR into mixing cup and stir. Pour back into pint glass and garnish with strawberry and mint leaves.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Tropical Fruit Skewers

    Here’s something special for Labor Day weekend: Turn grilled fruit into tropical fruit skewers. Thanks to Melissas.com, purveyors of premium produce, for the recipe.

    We’ve also got dessert shots to go with the fruit: delicious coconut- or banana-flavored rum from Blue Chair Bay.

    RECIPE: GRILLED TROPICAL FRUIT SKEWERS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large ripe papaya, peeled seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 firm ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
  • Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons dried coconut chips
  •  

    mango-papaya-kabobs-melissas-230

    Grilled fruit skewers topped with coconut chips. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     
    Variation: Pineapple is also a tropical fruit. Feel free to add some.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the brown sugar, orange juice and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add the cubes of mango, papaya and bananas, tossing gently to coat thoroughly.

    2. THREAD the fruit onto skewers alternating the fruits.

    3. GRILL over a medium hot barbeque or hibachi for approximately 4-5 minutes per side. You can also use a grill pan or broiler. Be sure to watch closely so the fruit does not burn.

    4. REMOVE to a serving plate and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavored Shots

    blue-chair-bay-banana-rum-230

    Delicious by the shot: No mixers needed!
    Photo courtesy Blue Chair Bay Rum.

     

    While spiced rum has been around since the 1940s*, the more modern trend of flavored spirits began with vodka in the 1980s.

    The first flavored vodka, that inspired scores of other flavors, was Absolut Peppar, in 1986. Absolut Citron followed in 1988, and then the floodgates opened as Stolichnaya and other brands created their own versions. Absolut has launched 17 different flavors†; and newer brands like Pinnacle, Three Olives and Van Gogh focus only on flavored vodkas.

    Flavored tequilas arrived more quietly—first chile and coffee flavors and now, vodka-style, they’re branching out to fruit (we’re fond of El Jimador’s new Mango Mango and Mexican Lime).

    While the distillers of these flavored spirits provide plenty of cocktail recipes and expect bloggers and mixologists to develop many more, the plain truth is that they are delicious as shots.

    So today’s tip is: Enjoy flavored shots as you relax over the weekend (in moderation, of course).

    This weekend, we’ll be serving two tropical flavors from Blue Chair Bay, a brand created by singer Kenny Chesney. The line has four expressions: Banana Rum, Coconut Rum, Coconut Spiced Rum and White Rum (plain).

     
    At 53 proof (as opposed to 80 proof or higher with conventional rum and other spirits), Blue Chair Bay Rum is made for sipping straight. All three flavors are delicious, but as an avid fan of the Piña Colada, the Banana Rum captured our fantasy. It’s rum with caramelized banana flavor, but you’ll also find hints of coconut and plenty of sweetness.

     
    *The Levy brothers, pharmacists in Kingston, Jamaica, created the original recipe for aged spiced rum in the 1940s. The brand was purchased by Seagram’s (now Diageo) and marketed as Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. The spices include cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The original Levy recipe also included medicinal herbs.

    †Absolut flavors, in order of launch: Peppar, Citron, Kurant, Mandrin, Vanilia, Raspberri, Apeach, Ruby Red, Pears, Mango, Berry Açaí, Wild Tea, Orient Apple, Grapevine, Cherrykran, Hibiskus and Cilantro. Note that flavored vodkas have been home-infused in Russia and elsewhere for centuries; but Absolut was the first flavored vodka sold commercially in the U.S.

     

    IF YOU REALLY WANT A COCKTAIL…

    Blue Chair Bay enlisted the help of selected bloggers to create recipes, which they sent to us along with a sample of the rum.

    This ice cream cocktail, from The Blond Cook, can substitute for dessert:

    RECIPE: SPICED BANANA CREAM COCKTAIL, A DESSERT
    COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 4 Drinks

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into about 1″ chunks
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut (e.g. Coco Lopez)
  • 1 cup Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum
  • Optional garnish: banana chips or flaked/shaved coconut
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

    2. GARNISH and serve with a straw.

     

    spiced-banana-cream-theblondcoook-230

    Enjoy this one for dessert. Photo courtesy TheBlondCook.com.

     
    If you’d like some chocolate in your cocktail, try this one from ThePinkFlour.com:

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BANANA COCONUT COLADA

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 1/2 cup chocolate milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  • 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup
  • Optional: chocolate cookies on the side
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour and serve. For dessert, serve with chocolate cookies.
     
     
    Here’s something very creamy from ANightOwlBlog.com. Note that while it’s called a Martini, there’s nothing Martini about it (serving something in a Martini glass does not a Martini make).

    RECIPE: COCONUT CREAM MARTINI

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • 2 ounce half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional rim garnish: honey and coconut flakes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the rum, half and half and vanilla over ice in a shaker; shake to blend.

    2. DIP the rim of the Martini glass in honey and then in coconut flakes for garnish. Add rum blend and serve.
     
    You can find more delicious recipes at BlueChairBayRum.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Russian Iced Coffee

    russian-iced-coffee-delonghi-230

    In a tall glass or a short one, iced coffee
    lovers will get a kick from this drink. Photo
    courtesy DeLonghi.

     

    For years, we’ve enjoyed Black Russians and White Russians, two venerable vodka-based cocktails. The Black Russian, invented in 1949, combines vodka and coffee liqueur; the subsequent addition of cream created a White Russian.

    Neither cocktail recipe is Russian in origin; the name is an homage to the vodka. Both recipes are below.

    Only recently did we come across this iced coffee version, courtesy of DeLonghi, producer of fine espresso machines.

    To beat the heat, have an iced coffee. To make the day happier, make Russian iced coffee, with a shot of vodka. If you’re not keen on espresso, use regular coffee.

    RECIPE: RUSSIAN ICED COFFEE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce/30 ml espresso coffee
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1 shot vodka
  • Crushed ice
  • Light cream or half and half to taste
  • Optional garnish: sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg, or go over the top with whipped cream
  •  

    You can also use:

  • Coffee-flavored vodka, such as Van Gogh’s Espresso and Double Espresso Vodkas
  • Coffee-flavored tequila, such as Avion Espresso or Patron XO Café
  • Coffee liqueur, like Kahlùa or Tia Maria
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the espresso coffee. Add the sugar and the vodka.

    2. POUR into a glass of crushed ice. Add the cream and stir.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

     

    RECIPE: BLACK RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 once coffee liqueur
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.

    2. For a sweeter drink, add more coffee liqueur.
     

    RECIPE: WHITE RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 once coffee liqueur
  • Heavy cream
  • Ice
  •  

    white-russian-kahlua.com

    A White Russian cocktail. Photo courtesy Kahlùa.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.

    2. TOP with a large splash of heavy cream and stir.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Roasted Cherry Tomato Cups

    roastedtomato-solo-triscuit-230

    Crunchy Triscuit cups. Photo courtesy
    Nabisco.

     

    Just in time for Labor Day lounging, the folks at Triscuit sent us this fun appetizer idea. Who’d have thought of soaking Triscuits to form crunchy cups?

    You can fill the cups with anything, from hummus to artichoke dip; but start with colorful cherry tomatoes and enjoy with a glass of wine or beer.

    Prep time is 25 minutes, total time is 45 minutes. You can find more recipes on the Triscuit website.

    RECIPE: ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO CUPS

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

  • 24 Triscuit Rosemary and Olive Oil Crackers
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (recipe follows)
  • 24 tiny sprigs fresh thyme, optional for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F.

    2. FILL a 9-by-13-inch pan halfway with warm water. Add Triscuit crackers in 2 batches and soak, turning twice until just soft, about 2 minutes, no more than 3 minutes.

    3. OIL two 12 cup or one 24 cup mini muffin tins. Press a softened Triscuit into each cup, pressing and molding any cracks together. Sprinkle each with cheese. Bake until firm and slightly more golden, about 25 minutes. When ready to serve…

    4. FILL each cup with a roasted cherry tomato, and drizzle a little sauce over top of each one. Garnish with thyme and serve immediately.
     

    RECIPE: ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

    Prep time 5 minutes, cook time 40-45 minutes.

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Arrange tomatoes and garlic in a non-reactive 9×5-inch baking dish/loaf pan (see note below on non-reactive cookware).

    2. WHISK together olive oil, vinegar, thyme, sugar and salt. Drizzle over tomatoes and garlic.

    3. BAKE until the tomatoes are wilted and caramelized, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool. You can pre-make and store cooled tomatoes and juices in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

    WHAT IS A NON-REACTIVE PAN?

    Cookware can be made of reactive or non-reactive materials. Reactive materials can interact negatively with acidic foods and light-colored foods, and should be avoided in preparing these them.

  • Reactive Pans: Aluminum and copper are two popular cookware metals that conduct heat extremely well, but react chemically with acidic foods, imparting a metallic taste. They also can discolor light-colored foods like soups and sauces. (Metal utensils—spoons or whisks, for example—can also react with these food, so opt for silicone or silicone-coated.)
  •  

    Triscuit_BOX_Rosemary_Olive_Oil-230

    How many different varieties of Triscuit are there? The answer is below. Photo courtesy Nabisco.

  • Most copper pots and pans are lined with tin to prevent any reaction, but the tin can scratch easily and expose the food to the copper underneath. Similarly, anodized aluminum provides some protection; but it’s best to choose a different vessel. Note that while cast-iron is considered reactive, we and our colleagues have cooked tomato-sauce based recipes for years in a heavy cast iron pot, with no problem whatsoever.
  • Non-Reactive Pans: Non-reactive cookware is made from clay (terracotta), enamel, glass, plastic and stainless steel. While they don’t react with food, these materials don’t conduct or retain heat as well as the reactive metals. Stainless steel cookware can be made with an aluminum or copper bottom to better conduct the heat. Glass cookware retains heat well but conducts it poorly. Enamelware is non-reactive but can easily scratch and chip.
  •  
    TRISCUIT TRIVIA

    When you think Triscuit, do you think “shredded wheat?” That’s what they’re made from!

    Now made by Nabisco, Triscuit snack crackers were invented in 1900 at the Shredded Wheat Company of Niagara Falls, New York. They were awarded a patent in 1902, and commercial production began in 1903.

    For their first 20 years, Triscuits were not today’s two-inch squares, but 2-1/4 by 4-inch rectangles. In 1935, the manufacturer began spraying the crackers with oil and adding salt.

    In 1984, new flavors were introduced, and the crackers were made even crisper. We counted 21 varieties:

  • Whole Grain Wheat Line: Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil, Dill & Olive Oil, Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil, Garden Herb, Hint of Salt, Original, Original Minis, Reduced Fat, Rosemary & Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic, Wheat Rye With Caraway Seeds.
  • Brown Rice & Wheat Line: Cinnamon Sugar, Roasted Red Pepper, Roasted Sweet Onion, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Sour Cream & Chives, Sweet Potato & Sea Salt, Tomato & Sweet Basil, BWasabi & Soy Sauce.
  • Thin Crisps Line: Original, Parmesan Garlic.
  •  
    In terms of where you find the supermarket shelf with all of these tempting choices, we know not!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Plum Poppyseed Cake

    plum-poppyseed-cake-goboldwbutter-230

    Old-fashioned and delicious: Plum Poppyseed
    Cake. Photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com.

     

    Poppy seeds or plums: Which is less commonly found in baked goods?

    We don’t have the answer, but our response is: Both should be used more often, starting with this delicious recipe. And don’t tarry: plums are a summer fruit.

    Poppy seeds, obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), have been harvested for thousands of years. The seeds are used, whole or ground, in recipes and are pressed into poppyseed oil.

    Poppy seeds have long been cultivated in the Middle East; the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians farmed them. The Minoans, a Bronze Age civilization on Crete (circa 2700 to 1450 B.C.E.), cultivated poppies as a sleeping aid, and also for their effect on fertility, wealth and the magical power of invisibility. (Gee, how did those work out?) [Source]

    Plums are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Enjoy them as a hand fruit, sliced into green salads or fruit salad, served with cheese, and of course, baked into something sweet. In addition to the recipe below, consider a plum Tatin* or a plum tart with a base of crème pâtissière.

     
    Popular plum cultivars include:

  • Damson plum, with purple or black skin and green flesh
  • Greengage plum, firm green flesh and skin
  • Mirabelle plum, a flavorful dark yellow plum largely grown in northeast France, it’s a banned import†, but you can find them at farmers markets and buy trees to grow your own
  • Satsuma plum, with firm red flesh and red skin
  • Victoria plum, yellow flesh with a red or mottled skin
  • Yellowgage or golden plum, a yellow sibling to the greengage plum
  •  
    *Tarte Tatin is a one-crust fruit pie invented by accident in France in the early 1880s. It is served upside-down; the apples are on the bottom with the crust on top. The Tatin sisters, Caroline and Stéphanie, ran the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, southwest of Paris in the Loire Valley, not far from the town of Chambord. Stéphanie, preparing an apple tart, erroneously put the apples in the pan without the crust underneath. The apples caramelized, the customers loved it and the Tarte Tatin was born. You can adapt this recipe for Quince Tatin.

    †The ban is based no particular reason we could find, but likely has historic roots that are no longer relevant, but remain mired in bureaucracy that no one is motivated to resolve.

     

    This recipe, by Karen of FamilyStyleFood.com for Go Bold With Butter, calls for red plums. While you can use any plum variety, red, and secondly, purple plums, provide the best color. The best color will come from a red plum with red flesh.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 1 hour, 30 minutes

    RECIPE: RED PLUM POPPY SEED CAKE

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 firm-ripe plums, halved, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar
  •  

    damson-plums-230

    Damson plus. Photo courtesy Washington
    State Fruit Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch tube pan.

    2. CREAM butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, using a heavy-duty mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the yogurt and vanilla until combined, scraping down bowl if needed.

    3. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in bowl. Add to the butter mixture and stir on low speed until batter is just combined.

    4. SPOON the batter evenly into pan. Arrange plums over top and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean.

    5. COOL the cake in the pan on a rack until completely cool. Invert onto a serving plate and slice.

    6. STORE any leftover cake tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Boil Lobster—Grill It!

    live_lobster_ilovebluesea-230

    Grill, don’t boil. Photo courtesy
    ILoveBlueSea.com.

     

    David Chang is a well-known New York chef and restaurateur, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group. He wants you to enjoy lobster that’s more tender.

    So don’t boil the lobster, he advises in an article from GQ, which the magazine shared with us.

    “I’ve sent thousands of lobsters to Valhalla in my day,” says Chef Chang, “and I’ve found that baking, or better yet, grilling them over indirect heat, yields tastier, more tender results.

    “Undercook them slightly, like steaks, and let them rest when they come off the heat. There will be some carryover cooking.”

    The chef also advises to leave that three-pounder in the tank.

    “Buy lobsters that weigh 1.5 pounds or less,” Chang advises. “Bigger beasts are tougher and less sweet. Alive is great, but frozen will do—just make sure to defrost them [slowly, in the fridge] before cooking.”

    How much lobster do you need?

     
    A 1.5-pound lobster yields four to six ounces of meat, and it’s a luxury item so you can’t plan to serve two to each guest.

    Chang suggests corn, potatoes, cole slaw, and “maybe some sausages.”

    “Forget clarified butter,” he concludes. “Just use melted unsalted butter. Add a touch of lemon or vinegar to the butter and have plenty of lemon wedges on hand.”

    For the full article, head to GQ.com

    Right now, we’re dreaming of lobster rolls.

     
      

    Comments

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