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Archive for May, 2011

FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEA: Baseball Shortbread

A Fenway Park tin filled with yummy
baseball shortbread. Photo courtesy
Cooperstown Cookie Co.

 

If Dad/Grandpa/Hubby likes baseball and a good shortbread cookie, there’s no better gift than the “baseball shortbread” from Cooperstown Cookie Company, located in baseball capital of Cooperstown, New York.

The rich, traditional shortbread cookies are handmade in the regulation size and shape of baseballs (3″ diameter). Fresh, light and fragrant with butter, they melt in your mouth.

The cookies are all natural with no preservatives or additives—just flour, butter, sugar, pure vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

Unlike some shortbread recipes that can be a bit al dente, you can give a tin of these to Grandpa (or a kid with braces) without worrying about damage to the dental work.

Each tin—available with the logo of any Major League Baseball team—includes a tricky baseball trivia question. This gift will make the day of a baseball nut; and anyone who loves good shortbread will be thankful that proprietor Pati Drumm Grady put her family shortbread recipe to such good use.

 

Purchase online at CooperstownCookieCompany.com or telephone 1.888.269.7315.

  • Read our full review of Cooperstown Cookies.
  • What is shortbread? Check out the history of shortbread.
  • See our special selection of Father’s Day gifts at The Nibble Gourmet Market.
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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Mint Julep Day

    While mint juleps are associated more with the recent Kentucky Derby than Memorial Day, today is National Mint Julep Day.

    “Julep” is a Middle English term for a sweet drink, derived sometime between 1350 and 1400 C.E. from the Arabic julab, which referred to rose water.

    The mint julep originated in the American South in the 18th century, where it was made with bourbon or with genever (aged gin). The gentry served their mint juleps in silver or pewter cups, but a tall glass does just fine.

    Today the gin has disappeared as an option. The ingredients of a mint julep are bourbon, mint, sugar and crushed or shaved ice—similar to a Mojito, which uses rum instead of bourbon.

    Here are two recipes for mint juleps.

    If you don’t like bourbon or want a change, here’s a variation of the mint julep from New York City’s 21 Club, called the South Side Cocktail. It uses a white spirit (gin, tequila, vodka, white rum) plus the addition of lemon juice.

     

    A refreshing Mint Julep. Photo by Ampen | IST.

     

    SOUTH SIDE COCKTAIL RECIPE

    For one cocktail:

    Ingredients

  • 2 ounces white spirit (gin, tequila, vodka, white rum)
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation
    1. Place all ingredients in a shaker, and shake vigorously to bruise mint leaves.

    2. Strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice.

    As today is also Memorial Day, we toast to all who have fallen while, defending our country.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Beef Temperature (Well Done Burgers, Anyone?)

    Do we have to cook this beautiful beef to
    well done? Maybe not. Photo by FCAFoto
    Digital | IST.

     

    Because ground meat has been a significant source of foodborne illness, the USDA advises consumers to use a meat thermometer when cooking burgers. In other words, you should not rely on eyeballing the internal color of the meat to ensure it’s safe to eat.

    The agency’s research has shown that the color of meat is not a reliable indicator of ground beef safety. To be safe from harmful bacteria such as E. coli, ground beef must be cooked thoroughly to 160°F: thoroughly well done. This recommendation applies to all ground beef, including meat balls and meat loaf.

    Why, then, can you eat steak as rare as you like?

    When a steak, roast or other cut of beef is cooked, the heat kills all the bacteria, which are on the surface of the meat.

    When beef is ground, however, the bacteria are dispersed to every individual ground bit. They’ll be killed if they’re on the surface of the meat that’s exposed to the heat. But unless the ground beef is cooked to 160°F, any harmful bacteria inside the beef/meat ball/meat loaf will still be viable.

     

    If you love your beef medium rare—and we do—you have options to limit your exposure. While there are no guarantees, you can:

  • Buy organic ground beef. Organic beef producers typically have higher standards of production than conventional beef producers, so there’s less chance of contamination with E. coli. (Check out the serious cartoon, The Meatrix.)
  • Grind your own meat. If you have a food processor, get the meat grinder attachment. Or, you can purchase a separate meat grinder. Hand-cranked ones are inexpensive. You can find a good electric meat grinder for $130 or so. Rinse the meat surfaces and pat dry before grinding.
  •  
    A meat grinder does more than make burgers. You can grind your own pork, poultry, veal and lamb as well as beef; and make sausages, ham salad, ham loaf, chopped liver, corned beef hash—even cat food.

    O.K., so where’s the beef? Otherwise asked, how to you get your burger or steak to the desired degree of doneness?

    If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can try it by touch. While that’s not what the USDA advises, that’s how chefs in every restaurant do it. See this simple meat doneness pictorial and try it.

    Meat Thermometer Readings For Steak & Burgers

  • Rare: 120°F to 125 degrees°F (center is raw, growing pinkish toward the exterior)
  • Medium Rare: 130 °F to 135°F (center is pink, growing slightly brown toward the exterior)
  • Medium: 140°F to 145°F (center is pale pink, growing brown toward the exterior)
  • Medium Well: 150°F to 155°F (no pink left)
  • Well Done: 160°F to 165°F (uniformly brown throughout)
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    Remember that food continues to cook internally when it’s removed from the heat. So removing it from the stove or grill when the meat thermometer reads 10°F less for beef, 5°F less for burgers (because they don’t need to “rest” for 10-15 minutes before slicing).

    To speak with an expert, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1.888.MPHotline (1.888.674.6854) during business hours. Learn more at IsItDoneYet.gov.

      

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    RECIPE: 21 Club Burger For National Hamburger Day

    Sometimes, there are standouts that define a genre. The ‘21’ Burger by Executive Chef John Greeley of New York’s famed 21 Club focuses most of his efforts on fine cuisine.

    At 21 Club, though, customers also want a luxury burger. In honor of National Hamburger Day, May 28th, here’s Chef Greeley’s recipe, which uses duck fat to add panache:

    21 BURGER RECIPE
    Yields 8 burgers.

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground sirloin or chuck, or a combination
  • 4 tablespoons duck fat or 2 tablespoons Crisco
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 whole egg
  • 4 tablespoons minced onion
  • Buns of choice (we prefer brioche buns)
  •  

    The 21 Burger. Photo courtesy 21 Club.

  • Optional garnishes: lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles, caramelized onions
  •  
    Preparation
    1. In a mixing bowl add the beef, duck fat or Crisco, fennel, cayenne pepper, ground pepper, thyme, rosemary, egg and onion. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated evenly.
    2. Divide the beef mixture into four 8-ounce burgers. Pack and shape them.
    3. On a hot grill place the burger and cook for approximately 4-1/2 minutes on each side for medium rare temperature. Cook longer for a more well?done burger, if desired.
    4. Serve on a bun with desired garnishes.

  • Get tips on how to make a better burger.
  • See reviews of our favorite ketchups.
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    TIP A DAY: Make Grilled Fruit

    Grilled fruit is a welcome treat. Photo
    courtesy Melissas.com.

     

    Counterweight the heavy fare consumed over holiday weekends with a dessert that’s light, delicious and of course, easy.

    A fruit salad (do you have time to carved a watermelon basket?) is always welcome; as are fruit skewers, easily made by adding cut fruits and whole berries to wooden skewers and inserting into a half melon placed face down on a tray.

    But grilled fruit skewers are even more fun.

    Here’s a basic recipe for grilling all fruits. (And you don’t need skewers—you can grill watermelon and pineapple slices, and halved tree fruits.)

    For the recipe in the photo, which is courtesy Tom Fraker of Melissas.com, you’ll need:

  • 1 ripe pineapple, cut into chunks
  • 2 pints strawberries, washed and stemmed
     

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    Melissa’s uses its own Sugar Cane Swizzle Stix instead of wood skewers, and adds a dessert sauce. We prefer the natural, sweet flavor of the fruit without a sauce.

    Preparation
    1. Carefully pierce a piece of pineapple with a swizzle stick. It will be necessary to make a pilot hole with a large wooden skewer first so you don’t split the fruit. Tthen do the same with a strawberry. Repeat the sequence until one skewer is complete, with two pineapple chunks and two strawberries per skewer. (If you’re using wood skewers, this step is not necessary.)
    2. Repeat the procedure for the remaining Sugar Cane Swizzle Stix or skewers.
    3. Grill the skewers directly on the grill or in a grill pan until you see grill marks. Turn over and repeat. Can be served hot or cold.

    Want something more elaborate? Try these recipes:

  • Cardamom–Scented Tropical Fruit & Marshmallow Skewers With Apricot Sauce
  • Grilled Watermelon With Honey & Basil
  • Rum-Grilled Pineapple & Peaches (great over ice cream)
  • Shrimp & Stone Fruit Kebabs
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