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Archive for December, 2009

CONTEST: Do You Have A Great Strawberry Recipe?

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Florida winter strawberries. Photo courtesy
Florida Strawberry Growers Association.

Home cooks and culinary professionals can compete for cash in the first “Florida Strawberries—A Taste of Summer All Winter Long Recipe Contest,” sponsored by the Florida Strawberry Growers Association and “Taste of the South Magazine.”

The entry categories are Starters or Salsas; Salads; Sweets and Best Photo. A total of $6,000 in cash prizes will be awarded.

  • Upload your recipe by February 28, 2010 and see the contest rules.Florida is the major U.S. supplier of strawberries from November through early spring. For those who want to buy foods with fewer carbon miles and purchase domestic rather than imported produce, each carton of Florida-grown strawberries has geographic identification noting where the product was grown.
Strawberries are not only nutritious; they’re one of our favorite diet foods. Eight strawberries contain more vitamin C than one orange. A one-cup serving (about 8 to 10 medium-sized berries) contains 45 calories and has no fat, cholesterol or sodium.

So, even if you don’t enter the contest, make strawberries part of your healthy “New Year’s Resolutions” diet.

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RECIPE: Chocolate Mice Cookies For New Year’s Eve

Hickory Dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
As twelve bells rang,
The mousie sprang,
Hickory Dickory dock.

But no one will be springing away from these yummy chocolate “surprise” mice cookies, no matter what hour of the day or evening you serve them (we’re waiting for the clock to strike twelve on New Year’s Eve). These mousies are filled with Cholives, olive-shaped chocolates with chocolate ganache centers (perfect for chocolate martinis, glamorous garnish or simply indulgent popping).

If you can’t get your hands on Cholives before New Year’s Eve, you can substitute. Miniature Easter egg shapes work as well; Hershey’s Kisses will work, but they’re not of the quality of Cholives. We haven’t tried Dove Promises in this recipe—they’re square rather than oval—but they’re filled with delicious soft centers, just like Cholives. As long as you mound the dough correctly, your choice of chocolate should work.



A sweet way to start the New Year—or any
day of the year! Photo by Lisa Leick.

This recipe was adapted by Cholives from Cookies, Brownies & Bars, Classic Pillsbury Cookbooks, 1991 (you can find copies on Amazon).

Cholive-Filled Chocolate Mice


– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup butter, softened
– 1/2 cup shortening
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– 1 egg
– 2-1/4 cup unbleached flour
– 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 3 dozen Cholives (or Kisses or other chocolate)
– White, silver or colored nonpareils (tiny sugar balls) or miniature chocolate chips, for eyes
– Chocolate or black string licorice, for tails, cut into 2-inch pieces


1. Heat oven to 325ºF. In large bowl, beat sugar, butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; blend well.
2. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. Stir in flour, cocoa and baking powder; mix well.
3. Shape dough into 1-1/2-inch balls. Push Cholive into ball and roll gently in hands until Cholive is covered in dough.
4. To form Cholive-filled mouse, pinch one end of ball to form nose. For ears, make two tiny balls of dough and flatten slightly; gently press into dough on upper front of each mouse body. For eyes, press 2 nonpareils into dough below ears.
5. Place shaped cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 325ºF for 8-13 minutes or until set.
6. Remove from oven. Immediately insert piece of licorice “tail” into the rounded end of each cookie.
7. Remove from cookie sheets.

Makes 3 dozen chocolate mice. Recipe can also be adapted to make Chocolate Cats and Chocolate Dogs.


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TIP OF THE DAY: Go Nuts For Fresh Nutmeg


This Peugeot nutmeg grinder is top-
of-the-line, but may be more ginder
than you need.

Just as freshly-ground pepper bears no resemblance to the bland, pre-ground powder, freshly-ground nutmeg is a vibrant spice that perks up sweet and savory dishes alike.

We use it to flavor apples and other seasonal fruits (pies, compotes, sautéed sliced fruit), to make cookies and pastries and in custards. We love it in egg dishes and vegetable purées. It’s our favorite seasoning with spinach in any form, and on pasta with broccoli rabe.

For beverages, use nutmeg in addition to (or instead of) cinnamon on hot chocolate, coffee, cappuccino, mulled cider, warm milk, cold milk, chocolate milk and of course, eggnog.

While some cooks grate the whole nutmeg against a fine plane kitchen grater, we value our skin and use a nutmeg grinder (nutmeg mill)—it’s the same principle as a peppermill, but it accommodates the much larger nutmeg, which is the size of an unshelled hazelnut.

If you’ve had the nutmeg for several years, you can check the quality by piercing it with a needle. If the skin pierces slightly and a drop of oil flows out, the nut is still fresh. If the skin won’t pierce, it’s dried out. By the way, mace is the milder-tasting dried hull of nutmeg—the part you peel off to get to the nut, and nutmeg is the nut of a tree fruit.

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You can’t help but feel like it’s party time when you have a bottle of Señor Sangria at hand. If you win this week’s Gourmet Giveaway, you’ll soon have an entire case of this tasty blend of real fruit juice and Chilean Merlot, and a reason to have a party. Serve it with tapas or make a big group paella.

Available since March, Señor Sangria is the only premium bottled sangria on the market. It’s made with all-natural ingredients and comes ready to pour over ice. You can serve it “old style” by adding fresh fruit to the glass—sliced oranges, apples, pineapple and berries are popular, but most any fruit will do.

  • THE PRIZE: One winner will receive a $100 gift card to cover the cost of having a case of Señor Sangria shipped to his or her home from Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in Wayne, NJ. The case contains twelve 750ml bottles of Señor Sangria. It’s party time!
  • TO ENTER THIS GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Go to the box at the bottom of our Wine page and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, January 4th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  • Please note that wine can only be shipped to the following 37 states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, IA, ID, IL, KS, LA, ME, MI, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, VA, VT, WV, WI, and WY. If your state is not listed, it is because shipping wine to your state is prohibited by law. If this is the case, and you are the winner, you can use the gift certificate to ship the wine as a gift to someone in one of the states listed. And petition your state legislators to get the law changed. Any other product can be shipped into your state; the liquor laws exist in states with strong lobbies to protect liquor and wine store owners at the cost of limiting the choices of all citizens.
  • Learn more about Señor Sangria.


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TIP OF THE DAY: Deviled Deluxe

Our favorite deviled eggs: with salmon
caviar. Photo courtesy


Are you thinking about serving deviled eggs on New Year’s Eve?

Get past the classic recipe and go for flavored deviled eggs. Use different flavorings: Fresh dill, curry, infused tobiko roes and wasabi are popular choices. Just divide the mashed yolks mixture after you’ve added the binder (mayo, dijon, sour cream and salt), and mix different flavorings into the divided yolk batches.

But filling the eggs—even just one flavor—can be a devilish chore. Instead of struggling to spoon in the filling, do what caterers do and put the filling in a pastry bag—or you can use a Ziploc-type bag. Cut off a corner of the bag and simply squeeze the filling into the egg whites.

Now that you know the easy way to fill eggs, here are more favorite flavors to try: bacon (“bacon and eggs”), chopped chives, chutney, crab, crumbled blue cheese, jalapeño, kalamata olives, lemon herb and smoked salmon.

Stuffed eggs were a popular dish as far back as the Roman Empire.


There are many different recipes for stuffed eggs, but the term “deviled eggs” originated in 18th-century England. “Deviled” refers to the use of hot spices or condiments in a recipe—paprika, mustard, hot sauce, horseradish, chiles, etc.

  • See our favorite caviar deviled egg recipe.

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