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Archive for December, 2009

TIP OF THE DAY: Toasty Panettone

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Panettone photo by Gabriel T. / SXC.

Did you get a panettone for Christmas?

Panettone, a medieval Italian Christmas yeast bread dotted with candied lemon peel, orange peel and raisins, is the Italian version of fruitcake—a popular Christmas gift. Panettone is tall, dome-shaped and airy (some say fluffy), in contrast to the other famous Christmas bread, panforte, which is is short and dense.

The classic Panettone accompaniment is a sweet hot beverage or a sweet wine such as spumante or moscato, but any dessert wine will do. Some Italians add a side of crema di mascarpone, a cream made from mascarpone cheese, eggs, and amaretto (or substitute zabaglione).

If you have more panettone than you can enjoy, cut it into slices and freeze it: After seconds in the microwave, it’s deliciously warm and fluffy again.

We enjoy panettone toasted and buttered for breakfast, or made into a luxurious piece of French toast. Or for dessert at dinner, top toasted panettone with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

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RECIPE: And A Partridge In A Cheese Tree

Perhaps there’s still time to rearrange your cheese tray into a Christmas tree.

All you need are cubes of cheese (the tree in the photo uses different flavors of Cabot Cheddar), grape tomatoes and some fresh thyme. The star on the top of the tree is a carved mushroom cap.

If you don’t have the ingredients, keep this cheese tree recipe for next year. It’s a crowd pleaser.

Merry Christmas from all of us at THE NIBBLE.

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Eat this Christmas tree. Photo courtesy
Cabot Cheese.

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TIP OF THE DAY: “Great Wall” Alcohol-Free Cocktail

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It can look great and taste great
without any alcohol.

Instead of relegating non-drinking guests to an evening of mineral water, create a special alcohol-free cocktail menu to make their evening more festive.

One option is a “Great Wall,” a combination of brewed jasmine tea and ginger ale.

1. Brew a pot of jasmine tea and cool it in a pitcher, like iced tea (1 teaspoon of tea per 2/3 cup water).

2. Then mix 2/3 cup tea in a tall glass with 2/3 regular or diet ginger ale, ice, and a twist of lemon.

This special drink will make your guest feel special, too…and is a good option for guests who’ve had their second or third regular cocktail.

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RESTAURANTS: Best Restaurant Meals Of 2009

Where did some of the nation’s top chefs and restaurateurs have their best meals of 2009?

Participants in a survey conducted by Opinionated About included Dan Barber (Blue Hill, New York), “No Reservations” host Anthony Bourdain, Sean Brock (McCrady’s Charleston, SC), Michael Carlson (Schwa, Chicago), David Chang (Momofuku, New York), Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, New York), Gale Gand (Tru, Chicago), Krista Kern Darjelais (Bresca, Portland, ME), Paul Liebrandt (Corton, New York), Thomas Keller (French Laundry, Napa Valley), Danny Meyer (Union Square Hospitality Group, New York), Daniel Patterson (Coi, San Francisco), Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin, New York), Anna Sortun (Oleana, Cambridge, MA) and Cindy Wolf (Charleston, Baltimore, MD).

Responses range from casual to fine dining establishments around the world. Restaurants named most frequently include:

  • Aldea, New York City, Chef George Mendes
  • Corton, New York City, Chef Paul Liebrandt
  • Ferraro Bociarent, Spain, Chef Paco Morales
  • Marea/Alto New York City, Chef Michael White
  • McCrady’s Charleston, South Carolina, Chef Sean Brock
  • Mugaritz Errenteria, Spain, Chef Adoni Aduriz
  • Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark, Chef Rene Redzepi
  • Ubuntu Napa, California, Chef Jeremy Fox

 

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A new take on linguine and clam sauce.
Photo courtesy of Chef George Mendes,
Aldea restaurant, New York City.

The full list of respondents and restaurants can be downloaded at OpinionatedAboutDining.com.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Shortcake

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Copper cookie cutter from Amazon.

Use your cookie cutters to make a special holiday “shortcake” or ice cream sandwich.

1. For an ice cream “shortcake,” slice regular or chocolate pound cake into 1/2″-3/4″ slices and use large cookie cutters to cut shapes into the cake—use a tree- or star-shaped cutter for Christmas. If the cake isn’t dense, you may have to toast it lightly in order to cut out the shapes—but toasted cake is just as delicious.

2. Top with vanilla, mint or candy cane ice cream, fresh strawberries and mint leaves, drizzled with chocolate sauce if you like. You can place more than one piece of cake on the plate before topping with ice cream. Or “deconstruct” the shortcake and scoop the ice cream next to the cake to better show off the tree (or star) design.

 

3. For an ice cream sandwich, cut a pound cake loaf lengthwise into slices, and a half-gallon of ice cream into slices approximately the same size. Place the slice of ice cream between two slices of pound cake and use the cookie cutter to cut individual sandwiches.

Use heart cookie cutters and other theme shapes to make these special (and easy) desserts for every holiday.

Don’t look for bargains when buying cookie cutters; pay more for the sturdiest cookie cutters you can find. The inexpensive ones will bend out of shape. You can find other ways to save money—for example, using the star shape for both Christmas and Independence Day.

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