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Archive for September, 2011

FOOD HOLIDAY: Kahlua Cocktail Recipes For National Coffee Day

What better way to celebrate National Coffee Day, September 29th, than by adding some coffee liqueur to your coffee? You might not want to drink it for breakfast, but any Kahlua cocktail is a terrific after-dinner drink, rich enough to be served instead of dessert.

Kahlúa, the word‘s largest coffee liqueur brand, suggests these two recipes to warm your day:

Kahlúa Espresso Martini

  • 1½ parts Kahlúa
  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part freshly brewed espresso
    Preparation: Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass

    “Everyday” Kahlúa Coffee
    Here’s a pleasant way to end the day:

  • 2 parts Kahlúa
  • 2 parts coffee
  • 1 park cream or milk

    Make your evening cup of coffee special
    on National Coffee Day. Photo courtesy Kahlúa.


  • Optional garnishes: whipped cream, rolled wafer cookie (like Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies)
    Preparation: Shake all ingredients and serve in glass mug with optional garnishes.

    Famous Kahlúa Drinks

    Famous Kahlúa cocktails include the Black Russian (1 oz Kahlúa and 1.5 oz vodka), White Russian (1 oz Kahlúa, 1.5 oz vodka and 1 oz heavy cream) and Mudslide (1.5 ounces each of Kahlúa, vodka and Baileys Irish Cream; add vanilla ice cream for a Frozen Mudslide). Shake all ingredients (with ice, except Frozen Mudslide) and strain into rocks glass.

    Kahlúa has been produced in Veracruz, Mexico from local coffee beans since 1936. The name means “House of the Acolhua people” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. The brand is now owned by Pernod Ricard, the largest spirits distributor in the world.


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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Green Giant Fresh Potatoes In Microwave Steaming Bags

    Our Top Pick Of The Week is a first for THE NIBBLE: a product from a major manufacturer.

    THE NIBBLE focuses on specialty foods and artisan products. They’re typically made with better ingredients, are better for you and simply taste better.

    But the Green Giant Fresh line of Whole Baby Idaho Potatoes in Sauce simply couldn’t be more delicious. The four varieties in tasty sauces are all excellent. Two are absolutely seductive.

    And they’re ready to eat in five minutes or less.

    The steaming hot potatoes are delicious straight from the microwave bag. But you can never go wrong with some fresh chives, parsley, or other favorite herb.

    Find out more in the full review.

    Do you know the different types of potatoes?

    How about the history of potatoes?


    From fridge to plate in 4.5 minutes! Photo by
    Jaclyn Nussbaum | THE NIBBLE.



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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Cocktail Or Dessert Of Champagne & Sorbet

    Add the right fruit sorbet to the right
    sparkling wine: delicious! Photo courtesy
    Domaine Chandon.


    September is California Wine Month. The first sustained California vineyard was planted in 1779 by Franciscan missionaries, at Mission San Juan Capistrano (in southern California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego). The first documented imported vines (from Europe) were planted in Los Angeles in 1833. And about the same time, the first vineyard using indigenous grapes was planted in the Napa Valley, in northern California.

    California wines were enjoyed locally, but were an afterthought on the world stage—if they were thought of at all. The breakthrough came at the history-making Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, a competition in which French judges blind-tasted top Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from France and from California. French wines were considered the best in the world. No one thought that the California wines stood a chance.

    Surprise: California wines ranked highest in each category (the details). Americans, who had previously enjoyed cocktails before and with meals, began to drink lush California red and white wines.


    Cocktails & Desserts

    Most of us drink wine and use it in cooking, but it can also be turned into a dessert. Today’s tip: pair sparkling wine with sorbet as a cocktail or dessert. (FOOD 101: Only wines made in the Champagne region of France can legally be called Champagne. All other bubblies are called sparkling wines.)

    We use the sparkling wines from Domaine Chandon—established in the Napa Valley in 1973 by the great French house of Moët et Chandon—and pints of artisan sorbets from Whole Foods Market.

  • For A Cocktail: Chandon Brut Classic With Green Apple Sorbet. Place an ounce of sorbet at the base of a Champagne flute or other glass and top with the sparkling wine. The sorbet will slowly infuse into the wine, adding sweet fruitiness.
  • For Dessert: Chandon Rosé With Peach Sorbet. For a a light and elegant dessert, fill a standard wine glass or goblet halfway with wine. Add a large scoop of sorbet. Garnish with a raspberry for color and an optional chiffonade (very thin strips) of fresh basil for color and a counterpoint of flavor. You can substitute a cinnamon stick for a fall touch.
    It couldn’t be easier—or more delicious.

    Find more of our favorite desserts in our Gourmet Desserts Section and Gourmet Ice Cream Section.


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    FOOD HOLIDAY: The History Of Chocolate Milk For National Chocolate Milk Day

    It’s National Chocolate Milk Day.

    We spent two days last week at a trade show that focused on natural and healthy products. Among the many aloe and coconut water brands, we tried alternative types of chocolate milk: almond milk (Almond Breeze), soy milk (Silk), rice milk (Rice Dream), hemp milk (Living Harvest), coconut milk (So Delicious) and even oat milk (Pure Harvest).

    The oat milk tasted a bit oaty, but few people would have guessed, if handed a glass, that Almond Breeze chocolate almond milk and Silk chocolate soy milk were not cow’s milk (Almond Breeze is also available as unsweetened chocolate milk, an option for those who wish to add a noncaloric sweetener).

    So there’s chocolate milk galore for those who avoid animal products, have lactose intolerance, want more soy in their diet or simply want to benefit from the nutrition in almond milk versus cow’s milk.*

    While you read this, sip a glass of chocolate milk—with a shot of chocolate liqueur (crème de cacao, Godiva, etc.).

    For added dimension: banana liqueur, coffee liqueur, orange liqueur, raspberry liqueur, etc.


    Chocolate milk can be made with any milk or milk substitute. Photo courtesy Midwest Dairy Association.


    Who Invented Chocolate Milk?

    A cold beverage made at home by mixing chocolate syrup into milk (commercial brands often use cocoa powder), chocolate milk is one of those foods for which we actually know the inventor:

    Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), for whom London’s Sloane Square is named (and whose collection of objets d’art and curiosities became the foundation of the British Museum), introduced chocolate milk to Europe. It wasn’t exactly the chocolate milk we know today—made with chocolate syrup to get kids to drink milk—but it was a start.

    Cacao was brought back to Spain by the conquistadors in 1527 (some beans had been brought by a delegation of Kekchi Maya nobles from Alta Verapaz, who introduced the beverage to the Spanish court). When Cortès returned to Spain in 1527, cacao was part of the booty. For many years, it remained a Spanish secret, affordable only by the wealthy. (The story continues.)

    Sloane encountered cacao in Jamaica in the late 1680s, where it was drunk mixed with water. He found it most unpleasant (as did Christopher Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors of Mexico—see details).

    However, Sloane devised a means of mixing the ground cacao beans with milk, to make it more pleasant. He brought both cacao and his recipe (most likely unsweetened) back to England.

    A physician, Sloane was initially interested in the medicinal properties of cacao;† he thought chocolate milk had soothing qualities. The recipe was initially sold by apothecaries. You can see ads for the original product on this Cadbury blog, which found them in the Cadbury archives. The earlier ad suggests chocolate milk for “lightness on the stomach” and “all consumptive cases.”

    By the 19th century, it had become an enjoyable food product. The Cadbury Brothers sold tins of Sir Hans Sloane’s Milk Chocolate (use the Cadbury link above to see that ad). One ounce (two squares) was dissolved into a pint of boiling milk, to which sugar was added.

    Make homemade chocolate syrup to celebrate National Chocolate Milk Day.
    *Compared to cow’s milk, almond milk has 50% fewer calories, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats instead of cholesterol, less carbohydrates compared to 13.1 grams of lactose (milk sugar), fiber (vs. no fiber in cow’s milk), almost as much calcium as cow’s milk (and more absorbable calcium, since lactose impedes absorption). Details.
    †Modern research has shown that flavanol-rich cacao can impact cancer and cardiovascular disease over the long term. However, in the 1600s, health claims were speculative rather than scientifically proven. In 1631, the first recipe for a chocolate health drink was published in Spain by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, an Andalusian physician, in his book, Curioso tratado de la naturaleza y calidad del chocolate (A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate). A doctor who had lived in the West Indies, he claimed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac, caused fertility and eased delivery in women. Here’s the true scoop on chocolate health claims, from the Cleveland Clinic. And, if it gets kids to drink their milk, one could interpret that chocolate milk is a health drink.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Cake Decorating Party

    You won’t believe how easy it is to decorate
    this cake, using products by Duff Goldman
    for Gartner Studios. Photo courtesy Gartner


    Our cake design (not the one in the photo—more about that below) recently “took the cake.” It was selected as the winner of a cake decorating contest by Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes himself. And it inspired today’s tip: Have a cake decorating party.

    But first, a recap. In this contest, we were competing against other members of the press. The reason: a media event held by Godiva Chocolatier to announce Godiva’s externship scholarship for outstanding pastry students at the Culinary Institute of America.

    To enable them to further develop their chocolate-making skills, six CIA pastry students will spend 18 weeks in Godiva’s test kitchen with master chocolatiers. The externships will take place over the next two years.

    Casey Shea, the first recipient of the Godiva Chocolatier Scholarship, presented one of her externship creations: a sophisticated cappuccino bonbon, milk chocolate filled with cappuccino creme. We enjoyed it with a shot of Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka, a really excellent infusion of chocolate into vodka.


    Sidebar on Godiva spirits: Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Infused Vodka is also a treat, as are all of the Godiva chocolate liqueurs—Caramel, Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Mocha and White Chocolate. Add some to coffee, hot chocolate, a milkshake or straight into a glass and enjoy it instead of dessert. A straight sip can easily satisfy a chocolate craving.


    Six teams were each given a three-tiered cake covered in white icing, plus open access to a room filled with Godiva confections and the Duff Goldman for Gartner line of cake decorating products.

    Our strategy? First, we developed a concept. Given that Godiva’s best-selling chocolate worldwide is an open milk chocolate clam shell filled with chocolate hazelnut creme, we were inspired to create “The Octopus’s Garden,” a cake with an under-the-sea theme. We haven’t yet received a photo of the cake, but here’s what we did:

  • We accented the sides of the cake with Duff’s glittery sprinkles, in bright blue and pastel green “ocean tones.”
  • We pressed some of Godiva’s White Chocolate Pearls into the hazelnut creme and covered the base of each tier with chocolate clam shells, white chocolate starfish and chocolate-dipped madeleines—sponge cake-like cookies baked in a pan that produces elongated shell shapes.
  • To continue the sea theme, we used Duff’s Decorating Icing Pouches in blue and green to create ocean waves around the bottom cake layer, topped with some “white caps” from the white icing pouch. Tan sanding sugar created a “beach” between the waves and the cake.
  • We used a cake wire, a Duff signature, to create a plume effect with a hook on top of the cake. We dangled a piece of chocolate from the wire. (Duff is a CIA alumnus, by the way.)

    Duff’s line also includes icing, edible spray paint in eight colors, cake tattoos in a variety of patterns (for wrapping around the sides of the cake, as demonstrated in the photo above), fondant in several colors, food coloring gels and texture tiles to give added texture and dimension to fondant icing.


    We have a lot of fun at food events, but this was our favorite event ever. So if you’re looking for a memorable way to entertain, have a cake decorating party.

  • Invite as many people as you can accommodate with table space, counter space or other work space.
  • If you don’t have the wherewithal to bake (or order) three-tiered cakes, use ten-inch single-layer cakes iced on a cardboard cake circle. Use plain white frosting. Ask one of the party participants to help you bake and/or frost. If you really want to delegate, tell each guest to arrive with his/her own cake.
  • Supply basic decorations—candies, colorful decorating products—glitter and sprinkles, for example—and perhaps some small cookies.
  • Buying decorations can be expensive if you want to have a large selection. You can invite contestants to bring their own, although this takes away the spontaneity and tips the scales to the most aggressive competitor.
  • If you don’t want to judge the cakes yourself, invite a guest judge who can also go from table to table and offer tips—like Tim Gunn on “Project Runway.”
  • You can give out a prize (this is a great opportunity to regift). Our prize from Godiva: a box each of their delicious cupcakes and caramel brownies.
    After the judging, put out coffee and tea and eat some cake!

    And the bonus: Everyone gets to take home the remainder of his or her cake.

    Find our favorite cakes and recipes in our Gourmet Cakes Section.


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