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Archive for August, 2011

FOOD HOLIDAY: Lemon Meringue Pie Day & A Drink To Celebrate

Luscious lemon meringue pie. Photo courtesy McCormick.


Today is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day. How does lemon meringue rank among America’s favorite pies?

Schwann Food Company, maker of Mrs. Smith’s Pies, surveyed Americans on their three favorite pies. The results:

1. Apple Pie
2. Pumpkin Pie
3. Chocolate Cream Pie
4. Cherry Pie
5. Pecan Pie
6. Lemon Meringue Pie
7. Blueberry Pie
8. Key Lime Pie
9. Peach Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie Recipes

  • Make a lemon meringue pie today.
  • Host a Happy Hour with this lemon meringue pie Martini.

    Did you ever wonder about the phrase, “apple pie order,” meaning perfectly organized? What does apple pie have to do with organization? Perhaps it’s due to the neat layering of sliced apples in an apple pie?

    Actually, it’s likely an English mis-translation from the French nappe pliée, meaning neatly folded linen napkins. The phrase was first recorded in 1780 in Pasley’s Private Sea Journals: “Their Persons Clean and in apple-pie order on Sundays.” The Oxford English Dictionary’s entry comes from Sir Walter Scott in 1813.



    FOOD HOLIDAY & RECIPE: National Creamsicle Day & A Creamsicle Cake

    Many foods—from yogurt thousands of years ago, to cream cheese, fudge, ganache, ice cream soda and Toll House Cookies in the late 19th/early 20th century—were invented as the result of happy accidents. The Popsicle, first of the “sicle” ice cream novelties, was no different.


    In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson mixed together a fruit drink (believed to be orange-flavored) from powder and water and inadvertently left it on the porch. It was an unseasonably cold night in the San Francisco suburbs, and when Frank found his drink the next morning, it was frozen. He eased it out of the glass and, holding it by the stirrer, ate it.

    While Frank may have enjoyed his frozen fruit drink over the years, the public story doesn’t continue until 1923. A 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry, Frank made what he called Epsicles for a fireman’s ball. They were a sensation, and Frank obtained a patent for “a handled, frozen confection or ice lollipop.’” His kids called the treat a Popsicle, after their Pop. So Frank created Popsicle Corporation and collaborated with the Loew Movie Company for the nationwide marketing and sales of the product in movie theaters.

    By 1928, Epperson had earned royalties on more than 60 million Popsicles.* But his happy days ended with the Great Depression. In 1929, flat broke, Frank had to liquidate his assets and sold the patent to, and his rights in, the Popsicle Corporation.

    Following three more corporate sales over the years, Popsicle® and Creamsicle® are now part of Unilever’s Good Humor Division.

    While the record isn’t clear, Frank may also have invented the twin Popsicle, with two sticks so it could be shared by two children. Over the years, the Popsicle Corporation continued to create frozen treats on a stick: the Fudgsicle (a chocolate-flavored pop with a texture somewhat similar to ice cream), the Creamsicle (vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet) and the Dreamsicle (a Creamsicle filled with ice milk instead of ice cream).


    August 14th is National Creamsicle Day*. You don’t need to buy a Creamsicle to celebrate: Have a scoop of vanilla ice cream with one of orange sherbet.

    You can also make vanilla cupcakes with orange frosting or top vanilla ice cream with orange liqueur.

    Or, enjoy this recipe for Creamsicle Ice Cream Cake:



  • 1 loaf pound cake
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 pint orange sherbet
  • Optional: orange marmalade
  • Grated orange zest (optional)

    1. SOFTEN the ice cream at room temperature until it is just spreadable.

    2. SLICE the pound cake with a serrated bread, into three even layers. Press into a springform pan, trimming as necessary.


    Creamsicle Ice Cream Cake

    Creamsicle Cheesecake

    The Creamsicle: a vanilla ice cream pop coated with orange sherbet (photo courtesy Unilever). [2] Creamsicle ice cream cake with a layer of marmalade (photo courtesy Life Loves Sugar). [3] Creamsicle cake with ladyfingers instead of a cake layer (photo courtesy Cook’s Country).

    3. COVER the cake layer with orange marmalade. Place in the freezer until the marmalade hardens slightly. Then cover it with vanilla ice cream, using a spatula. If not using the marmalade, simply top the cake with the ice cream.

    4. Place the middle layer atop the bottom layer, then top the middle layer with the top layer.

    5. Cover in plastic wrap and freeze until ready to slice and serve. Garnish sliced pieces with a sprinkle of fresh orange zest.

    Thank you, Frank Epperson.
    Variation: Creamsicle Pie & More

    Using a graham cracker pie crust, you can make an ice cream pie instead of an ice cream cake.

    There are other ways to celebrate: Creamsicle-flavored cakes, cookies, cupcakes, cocktails, fudge and martinis. Here are more Creamsicle-inspired recipes. (While the word “Creamsicle” has become generic, like Kleenex, the trademark is the property of Unilever.)

    *There seems to be no National Popsicle Day or National Fudgsicle Day, but National Grape Popsicle Day is May 27, National Cherry Popsicle Day is August 26th and National Blueberry Popsicle Day is September 2nd.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Check Your Bottled Water Quality

    What’s in bottled water besides water? You
    have a right to know.


    If you’re going to buy bottled water, shouldn’t it meet the same purity standards as tap water? Here’s a surprise:

    While tap water must meet municipal standards for purity, bottled waters don’t have to disclose anything about water quality.

    We simply don’t know what’s in bottled water. Even if it tastes good, it could harbor major pollutants.

    An analysis of 10 major brands of bottled water conducted by the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory showed that they variously contained the following:

  • Heavy metals and minerals including arsenic and radioactive isotopes
  • Fertilizer residue (nitrate and ammonia)
  • A broad range of other chemicals used as solvents, plasticizers, viscosity decreasing agents and propellant
  • Common urban waste water pollutants like caffeine and pharmaceuticals (e.g., Tylenol)
  • Disinfection byproducts

    The study reports:

    “In conjunction with this testing program, EWG* conducted a survey of 228 brands of bottled water, compiling information from websites, labels and other marketing materials. We found that fewer than half describe the water source (i.e., municipal or natural) or provide any information on whether or how the water is treated. In the absence of complete disclosure on the label, consumers are left in the dark, making it difficult for shoppers to know if they are getting what they expect….”

    *The Environmental Working Group, a not-for-profit group dedicated to protecting public health and the environment.

    Of the ten top-selling U.S. brands of bottled water, Pure Life Purified Water (Nestle) earned a grade of B from the EWG for information disclosure. Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water (Nestle) earned a grade of C. The others—including big brands from Coca-Cola, Nestle and Pepsico—earned D grades, and one received an F. Here are the results for all 173 brands reviewed.

    Filtered tap water received the best grade (an A) from EWG. If you change your filter regularly, EWG says, your tap water is purer than bottled water.

    What You Can Do About It
    The FDA maintains a double standard: Tap water suppliers (e.g. municipalities) must provide information† to consumers on contaminants, filtration techniques and source water. But bottled water companies do not.

    †CHECK OUT YOUR MUNICIPAL WATER: Cities with the best and worst tap water.

    Let your elected representatives know that bottled water should conform to the same right-to-know standards as tap water. Here’s the contact information for U.S. Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen.

    Tell them you want easy consumer access to:

  • Full disclosure of all test results for all contaminants.
  • Disclosure of all treatment techniques used to purify the water.
  • Clear and specific disclosure of the name and location of the source water.
    Until then, experts recommend filtered tap water. Tap water also saves money and the environment.

    When you do need to choose bottled water, look for brands that tell you what’s in the water (how pure it is), where it comes from and which advanced treatment technologies are used (such as reverse osmosis and micro-filtration).



    COOKING VIDEO: Delicious Homemade Falafel Recipe


    If you can’t find a local restaurant selling delicious falafel sandwiches, here’s a video that shows how easy they are to make at home.

    And here’s a falafel recipe along with recipes for your choice of tahini sauce, yogurt sauce or garlic sauce.

    Made from chickpeas and/or fava beans, garlic, parsley, cilantro and seasonings, falafel is a vegan food that is an excellent ambassador for how tasty vegan cuisine can be.

    Falafel is also dairy-free, cholesterol-free, egg-free, sugar-free and potentially gluten-free.

  • Gluten-free. Many recipes add bread crumbs or flour to bind the ingredients and keep the balls from falling apart when fried. To avoid gluten, make gluten-free bread crumbs and substitute potato flour.
  • The Right Fat. If you fry your falafel, canola oil and peanut oil are monounsaturated fats (good for you fats). To cut down on fat calories, you can bake the falafel instead of frying.
    Falafel is frequently enjoyed in a flatbread wrap or pita pocket, along with lettuce, tomato, tahini sauce and pickled turnips (also included in our falafel recipe).

    You can also add falafel balls to a green salad or serve them with a yogurt dip or as part of a mezze (appetizer) plate with feta, hummus, babaganoush and/or tabbouleh—delicious dips now available in many supermarkets.




    NEWS: Aspartame Is Still Safe

    For the time being, have all you want!
    Photo courtesy Merisant.


    Artificial sweeteners are often the subject of controversy. Since these sweeteners were approved by the FDA in 1974, critics have alleged that the original research supporting their safety was flawed and that conflicts of interest marred the approval process.

    The safety of aspartame has been confirmed by regulatory authorities in more than 100 countries, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization.

    Studies on the safety of artificial sweeteners are ongoing. As part of a continuing review of scientific studies on aspartame, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a statement on two new studies.

  • One study found that aspartame induces cancer in the livers and lungs of mice. The EFSA concluded that the results presented did not provide a sufficient basis to reconsider its previous evaluations on aspartame.

  • In a second study, the authors found an association between intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks and pre-term delivery. The EFSA assessment concluded that there is no evidence available to support a causal relationship between the consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks and pre-term delivery, and that additional studies would be required to reject or confirm an association.
    Read the full article.

    What’s the difference between aspartame (Equal), sucralose (Splenda) and all the other noncaloric or low-calorie sweeteners? Here’s the scoop.



    TIP OF THE DAY: What To Do With Tea You Don’t Like

    What can you do if you’ve purchased tea bags or loose tea and you don’t really love the flavor?

    Turn them into iced tea.

    Whether it’s black, oolong, green, white or herbal, a tea that’s flat, has too much added flavor or has flavors you don’t like may taste better to you iced. Once chilled, tea takes on a different personality.

    So brew another cup and stick it in the fridge. Give it a try—straight or with a squeeze of lemon.

    And if you still don’t like it, give it to a friend or neighbor, or add it to the tea at your workplace coffee station.

    Your white elephant is someone else’s cup of tea.

  • Everything you’ve always wanted to know
    about tea.
  • How to brew tea.
  • Try this tea trivia quiz.

    If it isn’t your cup of tea, don’t let it linger
    in the cupboard: Give it away! Photo
    courtesy Republic Of Tea.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Scotch And Ice Cream, Gin And Sorbet

    Drizzle ice cream with Scotch and serve.
    Photo by Elke Dennis | Fotolia.


    Years ago, a friend who was a great cook prepared an elaborate dinner for us: intricate courses of beef, fish and fowl with layers of flavor.

    We anticipated something equally elaborate for dessert. So we raised an eyebrow when he scooped vanilla Häagen-Dazs into dishes and topped each scoop with something that seemed bizarre at the time: a jigger of Scotch.

    “Really?” we said.

    “It’s delicious,” he replied. “Taste it.”

    We did, and promptly discovered the easiest fancy dessert in the world. We often serve it at the end of a big dinner. The “recipe” works equally well with Bourbon.

    We also created our own spin: sorbet with a jigger of gin (use a very aromatic style such as London Dry or International).


    Decades after that first ice cream/Scotch experience, we’ve been presented with a reversed version of that simple pleasure: The Macallan Ice Cream Brownie Sundae, in the post below.

    It’s impressive, but we’ll stick with the two-minute original.


  • Genever. Genever is the original gin, a rich distillation that’s more like a flavored whiskey than the more familiar English Dry gin. Bols Genever is an example.
  • London Dry Gin. The British evolved genever into a lighter-bodied, aromatic style that lends itself to mixing. Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire and Gordon’s are examples.
  • Plymouth Gin. Made only in Plymouth, England since 1793, it is full-bodied with a balanced blend of botanicals and a long, dry finish. It calls itself “the world’s smoothest gin.” There currently is only one brand, Plymouth.
  • Old Tom Gin. Sweeter, rounder and with more botanical expression than London Dry Gin, this style was popular in the 18th century. After many years out of production, it has been relaunched in recent years by Hayman’s. Booth’s and The Dorchester are two more brands of this style.
  • International Style Gin. Created in recent years by artisan distillers, these gins burst with a complex mixture of botanicals. We love to sip them straight—and pour them on sorbet. Martin Miller’s Gin of London and Bluecoat Gin of Philadelphia (which calls itself “American Dry Gin”) are examples (and our two favorite gins).
  • Sloe Gin. Sloe gin is a red liqueur made from sloe (blackthorn) berries. It is not a true gin, which is made from juniper berries.
  • Damson Gin. Not a gin, but a liqueur made from Damsom plums.


    RECIPE: Ice Cream Brownie Sundae With Scotch Whisky

    Like ice cream? Brownies? Scotch whisky?

    Here’s a dessert for you!

    The Macallan Brownie Sundae was created for a private tasting dinner of The Macallan Scotch at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. Executive Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith took note of the guests’ enthusiasm for the dessert and put it on the menu for the month of August.

    You can make it at home with this recipe.

  • Find more of our favorite ice cream recipes in THE NIBBLE’s Ice Cream Section.
  • Everything you need to know about Scotch and other

    Alcohol distillation was discovered in the late eighth century by an Arab scholar, Abu Masa Jabir ibn Hayyam, “the father of modern chemistry.”


    Take a brownie ice cream sundae to the
    next level by adding a fine Scotch
    whisky. Photo courtesy The Macallan.


    The distillate was used as medicine, and distillation remained a secret process. It was ultimately shared with monks in Spain, who also used it for medicinal purposes. Some monastic orders created their own distillations, such as Benedictine and Chartreuse liqueurs.

    But who can take credit for whiskey? The Irish and Scots both claim it. The word comes from the the Gaelic uisce and the Scottish uisge, pronounced ISH-ka. Uisge became usky and then the English whisky.

    In Ireland and the U.S., the word whiskey is spelled with an “e”; the British, Scots and Canadians usually opt to drop it.

    Scholars can’t determine why the “e” was dropped by the Scots. One theory is that the Irish made whiskey first and pronounced it with a broad “e.” When the Scots began to make it, they dropped the “e” to differentiate their product.

    Serve a shot of uisge with your brownie sundae.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Wine With Oysters

    A great treat: oysters with a variety of
    white wines. Photo by Nathan Maxfield | IST.


    We love oysters, so we hosted an extensive wine-and-oyster celebration last Friday, National Oyster Day (August 5th).

    When we began eating oysters (way back in our college years), the de rigeur wine was a crisp Chablis from northern France—or Champagne, if you were a bon vivant.

    But if you know what to look for, you can buy an oyster-friendly white wine for $10—and have more money to spend on oysters. We’ve asterisked * the more affordable wines we tried (of course, some wines in these categories are more than $10—ask your wine store clerk for help).

    And here’s another budget-wise tip: Each participant was assigned one of these wines to bring to the party.


  • Albariño.* A lighter style crisp white wine, a refreshing Albariño is a delightful oyster pairing in warm weather.
  • Chablis. The classic pairing, a French chablis is dry with notes of minerals.

  • Chenin Blanc (Dry).* This is not our favorite white wine grape, but if you enjoy Chenin Blanc, try it with oysters.
  • Dry Riesling.* A sophisticated approach for palates that demand something different.
  • Chardonnay. We love Chardonnay but prefer something a bit lighter with oysters. If Chardonnay is your go-to wine, pick an unoaked style.
  • Muscadet. This bistro regular can be hard to find in the U.S. If your wine store carries it, here’s an opportunity to get to know Muscadet.
  • Pinot Gris. An Alsatian Pinot Gris is one of our favorite oyster pairings: rich with spicy tropical fruit notes.
  • Pinot Grigio.* Made in Italy from the same grape as Pinot Gris, this style is lighter, crisp and clean.
  • Sauvignon Blanc.* Depending on where it’s grown, this wine can be grassy or citrussy (we like both styles). It’s always good, clean and balanced.
  • Sherry (Dry). This combination is popular in Spain, although we find that the nutty flavors of the wine interfere with the delicate flavor of raw oysters. It goes better with cooked oyster dishes.

  • Champagne. Champagne and oysters: sexy and luxurious. Pop the cork for a special occasion.
  • Cremant d’Alsace. This bubbly, from the Loire region, has a more affordable price and just as much festivity.
  • Prosecco. This lighter-style sparkler from Italy is always popular for warm-weather drinking.

    While we were comparing all of the wines, someone asked for a beer.

    We pulled out several different styles: an amber ale, IPA, Pilsner and stout. All were delicious, but the stout, a roasty style of beer (the term comes from the dark-roasted malts used to brew it) was deemed a perfect beer pairing.

    If you’re looking for a gourmet Labor Day activity, here’s your blueprint!

    See our Oyster Glossary for everything you wanted to know about oysters.

    Check out the different types of beer in our Beer Glossary.



    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Win A Heinz 57 Picnic Basket

    We really need your opinion on the design of our new e-commerce website.

    Our friends at Heinz have donated two picnic baskets to entice you to complete the two-minute survey: a classic picnic basket filled with bottles of tangy Heinz 57 Sauce with a special 100th anniversary label, plus:

  • A checkered tablecloth to set the mood
  • Festive plates, flatware and glasses to brighten up the table
  • A citronella candle to keep bugs away
  • An American flag to celebrate the great American tradition of outdoor grilling
    The winner will be drawn in one week, on Friday, August 19th at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Click over now to enter.


    WIN ME! Trade your opinion for a chance
    to win this picnic set.


    Even if you don’t care about winning prizes, please take the two-minute survey.
    We really value your feedback!

    And everybody wins with this $1.00 coupon for Heinz 57 sauce.

    Use Heinz 57 Sauce on steak and in dips, pasta sauce, meatloaf and hundreds of recipes. Click on the coupon link and then on the recipe tab to find hundreds of recipes.



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