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Archive for November, 2010

TIP OF THE DAY: Bitters & Water

Start the event with a two glasses of
water. Photo by Fred Redhat | Dreamstime.

 

An article in a medical journal, recently reported by The New York Times, scientifically confirmed the efficacy of an old dieting trick:

Water drunk before meals helps to aid in weight loss, by filling the stomach so one is more full than ravenous.

Use this trick to minimize over-indulging on tempting food and drink this holiday season.

The first thing to do when you cross the threshold of a party, bar or restaurant is to imbibe two glasses of water: tap water, mineral water or club soda. (While not part of the study, we opine that you can substitute diet soda, iced tea/iced coffee or hot tea/coffee.)

If plain water doesn’t float your boat, go for flavored club soda or add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or a good shake of aromatic bitters, which aren’t bitter but add nice flavor and aroma. Angostura bitters, available in most supermarkets and liquor stores, have a nice ginger flavor; the company also makes orange bitters.

 
A few companies, including The Bitter Truth, are making artisan bitters. The Bitter Truth has a generous selection: celery bitters, chocolate bitters, creole bitters, grapefruit bitters, Jerry Thomas bitters (named after the writer of the first cocktail manual) and orange bitters. They’re part of our liquor gift ideas for Holiday 2010.

Club soda with bitters (lots of them!) are our favorite no-calorie mocktail. The four-ounce bottles of bitters are small enough to carry in a purse or pocket, so you can BYO.

The other benefit to starting a celebration with two glasses of water: It hydrates you to counter the dehydrating effect of alcohol.

  • How many types of water are there? See our Water Glossary.
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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Decorated Sugar Cubes

    Who wouldn’t savor a box of these beautiful sugar cubes from Home Sweet Home? Even people who don’t add sugar to coffee and tea will want them to impress guests.

    Brown and white sugar cubes are decorated with charming gingerbread men, Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer, candy canes and snowmen. The same decoration is available in all-white sugar cubes.

    The decorative sugar cubes are sold in an 18-piece gift box ($21.99), a 36-piece gift box ($39.99) and 100-piece gift box ($97.99) at SugarCubes.ca.

    If you want to make this your “signature gift” this holiday, you can save by buying the 100-piece gift box and break it down into smaller gift boxes.

    Beautiful sugar cubes for entertaining
    and for gifts. Photo courtesy Home Sweet Home.

     

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Easy French Toast Recipe

    Classic French toast. Photo courtesy
    MackenzieLtd.com.

    November 28th is National French Toast Day, celebrating one of our favorite foods (we prefer it to pancakes and waffles). French toast isn’t French; it was actually invented in ancient Roman times. In early French recipes it is called pain à la romaine, or Roman bread.

    This eggy fried bread, with or without maple syrup, can be served for breakfast, brunch or lunch. It is usually made with plain white bread, but can be even more enjoyable when made with brioche, challah, cinnamon swirl bread, French bread or raisin bread.

    As with waffles, French toast can be elevated to a dessert by topping it with ice cream and dessert sauce. It also can be baked in the oven, casserole style, for a bread pudding-type dessert.

    FRENCH TOAST RECIPE

    1. In a shallow bowl, beat 4 eggs with 1 cup milk and optional spices: 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, orange zest or vanilla extract (or a combination). Grown-ups can replace spices with 2 teaspoons of orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, etc.). Or, you can replace the milk with egg nog.

    2. Soak slices of bread 30 seconds on each side in the mixture.

    3. Fry in butter on both sides. Additionally, you can caramelize the toast with extra butter and sugar in a hot pan.

    4. Serve immediately with maple syrup. For a special experience, serve with an infused maple syrup from Moosewood Hollow, like Sweet Autumn (a blend of sweet spices and vanilla), Sweet Chai, Sweet Ginger or Sweet Heat.

    5. Garnish with fresh berries or sliced bananas and enjoy with a tall glass of milk.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Feast Of The Seven Fishes

    You may have your own immutable traditions for Christmas Eve. But if you’d like to try something new, we recommend the Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian-American tradition.

    This Christmas Eve dinner is celebrated with a feast of—you guessed it—seven different traditional fish dishes (although some ambitious families may go for eight, nine or more small courses, served individually or on a buffet).

    The tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates back to medieval times, to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat or milk products on Fridays and specific holy days. Fish, typically fried in oil, was most often served.

    Thus, traditional dishes for The Feast Of The Seven Fishes include baccalà (salted cod fish), calamari and fried fish and seafood (oysters, scallops, shrimp, smelts). But we’ve updated the choices in our dinner menu. Design a menu of your own favorite dishes or follow ours:

    • Oyster shooters or oysters on the half shell (or shrimp skewers or crab cakes)
    • Seafood chowder

    How about a hearty bouillabaisse for
    Christmas Eve? Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

    • Marinated seafood salad (calamari, octopus, shrimp, green and black olives, onion) over greens
    • Angel hair pasta with lobster in a tomato cream sauce
    • Squid ink pasta with scallops and red caviar
    • Your favorite salmon dish
    • Your favorite shrimp dish

     

    You can also turn your dinner into a friends-and-family potluck.

    You may enjoy The Feast Of The Seven Fishes so much that you’ll start collecting recipes in January for Christmas Eve 2011.

     

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Honey Crème

    Creamed raspberry honey is irresistible.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

    Honey Ridge Farms has a solution for inexpensive yet delicious small gifts and stocking stuffers.

    The company blends its clover honey with fruit or spice to create Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced Honey Crèmes.

    Luscious, yet light on the palate, these honey crèmes are delicious on just about anything: toast, scones, waffles ice cream, or as a cheese condiment. Add some to grilling sauces or marinades; and by all means, sweeten tea or other beverages. Flavors include Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced.

    The honeys are available in 2.25-ounce, 5.5-ounce and 12-ounce jars at $3.49, $4.99 and $8.99, respectively. For a larger gift, consider a gift crate with three 5.5-ounce jars. Purchase online at HoneyRidgeFarms.com.

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