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Archive for October, 2011

RECIPE: Try The White House Recipe For Honey Cupcakes

Dress up a plain white cupcake for
Halloween. Photo courtesy


Given the focus on fitness at the White House, does the First Family participate in the national cupcake craze?

A White House Garden Cookbook—which includes a collection of recipes and gardening tips from First Families—features a recipe for honey cupcakes enjoyed by the Obamas.

With less sugar and fat—better-for-you honey is substituted for most of the sugar—this recipe, when baked at the White House, uses honey gathered from the Executive Bee Hive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But if you’re not connected to Charlie Brandt (the White House beekeeper) or Michelle Obama, the honey in your cupboard works just fine.

You can make these cupcakes for Halloween, decorating with candy corn, orange sprinkles or other seasonal decorations.



Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, left out on the counter for approximately 1 hour to soften
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional decorations

    Icing Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

    Cupcake Preparation

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

    2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer on high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. On medium speed, mix in the honey, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until blended.

    3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. On medium speed, mix into the batter until just blended. Scoop the batter evenly into the lined muffin cups.

    4. Bake about 20 minutes. Cupcakes are done when the tops spring back lightly to the touch or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Icing Preparation

    1. Place the icing ingredients in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk the ingredients until the sugar and honey dissolve together. Keep whisking to avoid clumps.

    2. Using a spoon, drizzle icing over the tops of the cupcakes, or carefully pour over the cupcakes. Decorate as desired.


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    BOOK: What You Should & Shouldn’t Make From Scratch

    When Jennifer Reese lost her job as a book editor for Entertainment Weekly, she looked for ways to economize. She began with the family’s food bill. Is it cheaper to buy or make your own bagels, cream cheese, jam, crackers, yogurt and granola, she wondered.

    She began a cost-benefit analysis on how much she might save by making from scratch six of the everyday foods she typically purchased from the supermarket and the bakery. Her initial experience gave way to Make The Bread, Buy The Butter, a delightful book with 120 recipes.

    The author priced everything down to the last grain of salt as well as the cost of the utilities (in her city, 32 cents per hour to run an electric oven, 9 cents per hour to melt on a gas burner, 14 cents per hour to boil water). She did not include the cost of her labor.


    You’ll laugh, you’ll ponder, you just might buy a goat. Photo courtesy Free Press.


    Ms. Reese found some cost efficiencies that were worth it, and some that weren’t. The bagel recipe she used—the best bagel she’s ever had—costs 15¢ per bagel. A Thomas’ bagel is 45¢; a fresh bagel from Noah’s in San Francisco is 75¢.

    Cream cheese, on the other hand, is something better bought—no matter what the savings. Home-made cream cheese just doesn’t approximate the thick brick we all know and love.

    This energetic woman not only made her own jerky and Worcestershire sauce, but she also raised chickens in her backyard and attempted to raise goats to make cheese. (They ended up as beloved pets but have contributed no milk.)

    You’ll chuckle at the adventures of this executive-turned-farmer as she lacto-ferments pickles on the kitchen counter, ripens cheese in the closet and tends to chickens, ducks, baby goats and a beehive in a suburban back yard. As for buying a pair of turkeys to join the menagerie in advance of Thanksgiving (to butcher and clean), “…the mountain of gore was chilling to behold…It felt more like cleaning up a crime scene.” The experience cost more than buying turkey at the supermarket—and the meat was much drier.

    Jennifer Reese will entertain you. She will inform you. She may even convince you to try your own hand at “make it or buy it.” And you just might want to get your own baby goat.

    Order a copy.

    Read Jennifer’s further adventures at


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    PRODUCT: Gourmet Marshmallows From America’s Youngest Confectioner

    Ethereal, melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows from The Marshmallows Company. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    What do you say to an eight-year-old CEO? How about, “Congratulations!”

    When Canaan Smith was just three years old, he was scrambling his own eggs for breakfast and watching the Food Network instead of morning cartoons.

    One day at age 4, Canaan commented on how clouds looked like marshmallows. He then began thinking about different flavors of marshmallows. He and his mom, Megan, made a batch of peach marshmallows that were a big hit.

    At age 5, Canaan sold his first marshmallows to family friends. He decided to launch his own marshmallow company, and within a few months he was selling to a local coffee house. By the following year, 2009, he was selling both retail and wholesale.

    Canaan was featured in the local newspaper, the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald Leader. It led to an appearance on The Suze Orman Show earlier this year. He’ll be back in December as one of Suze’s favorite guests of the year.


    The marshmallows are absolutely terrific: among the most tender marshmallows we’ve ever had, with excellent vanilla flavor.

    These all-natural pillows of paradise truly melt in your mouth. As marshmallow connoisseurs who have tasted the wares of some of America’s finest marshmallow artisans, we urge you to try them. They’re as gourmet as it gets.

    The marshmallows are a wonderful light snack or a topper for hot chocolate. For a special dessert, dip the tops into melted chocolate and decorate them (with mini chips, coconut or graham cracker crumbs, for example). Make the best s’mores with these marshmallows and the best graham crackers and chocolate bars you can find.

    A good corporate citizen, the Marshmallows Company donates 10% to Heifer International and sends marshmallows overseas to our fighting troops. The CEO’s next focus is on green energy to produce environmentally friendly marshmallows.

    Get yours at


  • The history of marshmallows, including recipes.
  • Reviews of our favorite artisan marshmallows.
    Want flavored marshmallows? We’ve got them at The Nibble Gourmet Market.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Garlic Confit And Whole Roast Garlic

    Dating back more than 6,000 years ago to central Asia, garlic took the culinary world by storm. It is used in cuisines on all the world’s continents and is one of America’s most popular herbs. (An herb is a plant that is used to flavor or scent other foods.)

    A member of the onion genus, Allium, garlic’s cousins include the chive, green onion/scallion, leek, onion and shallot. (Allium is the Latin word for garlic.)

    There are festivals dedicated to garlic, restaurants centered around it, and very few savory foods that don’t go with it.

    The most common use of garlic involves crushing or mincing a few cloves and adding the raw garlic directly into a recipe. But you can change it up and cook entire bulbs or whole cloves of garlic as a side or a garnish to please your favorite garlic lovers.

    There are two principal ways to do this, each delivering different flavors and textures.


    Turn whole garlic bulbs or peeled cloves into a baked treat. Photo by SensorSpot | IST.


    Roast Garlic

    Roasting heads of garlic is the simpler of the methods.

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Slice horizontally into the top of a bulb (also called a head) of raw garlic, stopping before you cut completely through, to leave a “hinge.” Then close the hinge and wrap the entire head in aluminum foil.
  • Place the packet in the oven and bake for at least forty-five minutes. It’s ready when you can squeeze the bottom of the head and the sweet, caramel-colored garlic oozes out the top like toothpaste.
    Roast garlic is a hearty side with roasted meats and poultry. You can eat it from the clove or squeeze it onto bread, toast or directly onto your fork. You can give each garlic lover his/her own roasted garlic bulb or share a number of bulbs.

    If roast garlic becomes a family favorite, consider a baking dish specially designed with a garlic theme—or an electric countertop garlic roaster.

    Garlic Confit

    Using peeled garlic cloves instead of the whole bulb, the confit* method develops a flavor similar to roasting, while bringing out the garlic’s sweetness. The garlic-flavored oil that remains after cooking is incredibly useful as a quick flavor booster in almost any recipe that requires oil—including a vinaigrette for the meal’s salad course, marinades or bread-dipping.

    Because you can freeze or refrigerate the confit for future use, feel free to make a lot at one time.

    First, a trick to peel the cloves: Soaking the unpeeled cloves in cold water for five minutes loosens the skin and make it much easier to keep the cloves intact while peeling. Slice off the root and tip with a sharp paring knife, then use the knife to lift off the papery skin.

  • Preheat oven to 225°F.
  • Place peeled garlic cloves in an oven-safe dish with high sides (a small casserole dish works well), then cover completely with olive oil. Stir lightly to make sure the garlic is completely submerged in oil.
  • You can also add aromatics (herbs such as chives, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme), lemon zest, or chiles to the oil.
  • Cover and bake for at least an hour, or until the cloves become soft enough to squish effortlessly between your fingers.
  • Remove from the oven and strain off the oil into an airtight jar or other container. Store the garlic in the fridge. The oil can stay at room temperature.
    Use the garlic confit as a topping or side garnish for meat, poultry and grilled fish; with eggs; to top burgers and sandwiches; as part of a condiment tray with pickles; or any way that inspires you. One of our favorite uses: mash the confit into mashed potatoes, for a yummy “garlic mashed potatoes.”

    What is elephant garlic? It‘s bigger in size, but does it have more flavor, too?

    No: It’s just the opposite. Elephant garlic is more closely related to the leek than to garlic. It may look like an enormous bulb of garlic (some can weigh as much as a pound), but it has only a very mild garlic flavor and a texture that’s more potato-like.

    Use it when you want only a subtle hint of garlic (in soups and stews, for example), slice it raw into salads or lightly sauté it as a garnish (be careful not to overcook—it can turn bitter).

    *Confit is a method of preservation whereby something (usually meat, as in duck confit) is cooked slowly in fat (in the case of duck confit, in its own fat). It is then submerged and stored in the fat, where it will last for months. This method of preservation was used extensively prior to the availability of refrigeration.


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    COOKING VIDEO: Spicy Vietnamese Soup


    Next week’s Top Pick focuses on a ready-made base for for phö—one of the world’s great soups.

    But if you’ve got time on your hands this weekend, you may want to make some from scratch.

    This recipe starts with beef shanks, oxtail, onions, ginger and star anise in a stock pot. Sliced beef and optional tripe make it meaty.

    While Chef John Mitzewich of spends time bemoaning the fact that he didn’t buy oxtail for his soup, he gives you the “correct” recipe.

    And with all due respect, you can ignore Chef John’s comment that phö is supposed to be a “painfully hot dish.” As with many recipes that come from the Pacific Rim, you should adjust the level of heat for your American palate.



    Find more of our favorite soup recipes in our Soups & Stocks Section.

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