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Archive for March, 2012

BOOKS: Funny Food, A Guarantee Of Fun Breakfasts

Funny Food, by Bill & Claire Wurtzel. © 2012
Welcome Enterprises, Inc.,


In 1001 Arabian Nights, the cuckolded King Shahryar executes his faithless wife and proceeds to marry a new virgin every day, executing her the next morning before she has a chance to dishonor him.

Eventually his vizier (minister), whose task it is to provide the brides, cannot find any more virgins. His daughter Scheherazade (shuh-HAIR-uh-ZOD) volunteers and is wed to the king.

That night, the clever girl tells the king a fascinating tale, but does not finish the story. King Shahryar can’t execute her the next morning, since he wants to hear the end of it. The next evening, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins a new story…and so it goes for 1,001 nights.

Three years and three children later, Queen Scheherazade has convinced her husband that she is his faithful wife. She keeps her head (and her three children—obviously more than storytelling went on). Hopefully they lived happily ever after.


Funny Food: Another Daily Fascination

Now it’s time to introduce another fascinating book, one which has very few words. But who needs words when the photographs tell the whole story?

Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts, will fascinate a spouse or family as much as Scheherazade’s tales—and they get to eat the “story.”

What fun to be married to an art director who plies his trade in the kitchen. For more than 50 years, Bill Wurtzel has taken everyday breakfast foods—bagels and other breads, cereal, cottage cheese, eggs, fruit, ham, pancakes, waffles and yogurt—and turned them into edible art for wife Claire and their daughters. There are animals, birds, cars, flowers, people, musical instruments, trees and more. Everything is nutritious and the designs turn old standbys into exciting food.

And you can do it, too.

It’s Really Easy

There’s a two-page tip list of how to make your own creations, and two spreads that show the four simple steps to make a head and a train. Otherwise, there are no on-the-page instructions. The majority of the designs are easy to recreate—most are so easy that anyone old enough to do an art project can assemble this food art.

In fact, the Wurtzels now give workshops for school children to promote healthy eating and fun. There’s a downloadable guide on the book’s website.

  • NIBBLE TIP #1: After the design is finished, warm the food in the microwave.
  • NIBBLE TIP #2: Get the whole family involved in designing their breakfast plates: Try a different design every weekend for breakfast or brunch.
    This is a wonderful book to inspire younger people to cook and a boost of creativity for experienced cooks who can see how to use fruits, vegetables and nuts to make everyday dishes shine.

    Get your copy.

    We can only hope that the Wurtzels are working on Funny Lunch.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Tarts With Cookie Dough

    It’s hard to find a mascarpone cheese that isn’t delicious, but Crave Brothers Mascarpone has achieved the title of “most delicious,” winning first place awards in the American Cheese Society Competition, The World Dairy Expo and the Wisconsin State Fair Cheese and Butter Contest.

    Mascarpone is perhaps best known in the U.S. as the base of tiramisu. Yesterday, we used it to whip up some Lemon Mascarpone Tarts.

    The Crave family’s recipe makes it easy, by using refrigerated sugar cookie dough instead of mixing up and rolling out pastry dough. It’s a great time-saving tip.

    Lemon is one of those flavors that’s delicious in any season—a godsend in the winter during the drought of seasonal fruit, and refreshing on the hottest summer day.

    In addition to the cookie dough, all you need are three ingredients: mascarpone, a jar of lemon curd and a garnish of fresh raspberries or blueberries.


    Tempting Lemon Mascarpone Tarts are easy to make. Photo courtesy Crave Brothers.


    You can fill the tart shells with anything. Pudding or berries glazed with melted currant jelly are two more easy options.

    This recipe yields 36 mini tarts. For more recipes, visit the



  • 1 16-ounce tube refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 12-ounce jar lemon curd
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries for garnish

    1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Slice cookie dough into discs 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Slice each disc in half. In a greased mini muffin tin, press pieces of cookie dough into each muffin space. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden in color. Set aside to cool completely.

    2. Meanwhile, place lemon curd in a microwaveable dish and heat until spreadable. Whisk curd with mascarpone until light and airy.

    3. To assemble tarts, use a small cookie scoop to fill each sugar cookie tart with lemon mascarpone filling. Top with a fresh raspberry.


    Not only do the Crave Brothers produce a family of award-winning artisan cheeses, they do it using 100% green power and practicing water conservation and recycling. In fact, as a carbon-negative company, they produce more power with their bio digester than they use for their dairy and cheese plant.

    The Crave family farms 2,000 acres of rich land in south-central Wisconsin, growing soybeans, corn and alfalfa to use as nutritious feed for their Holstein cows. From the manure digester to water recovery, sustainability is top-of-mind on the farm. Every pound of cheese made by George Crave, a licensed cheese maker, is made with milk from the family’s herd. Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese produces Mascarpone, Fresh Mozzarella, Les Frères® and Petit Frère® French-style cheeses, Farmer’s Rope® Part-Skim Mozzarella String Cheese and Oaxaca.


  • What is mascarpone?
  • Make your own mascarpone cheese.

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    PRODUCT: Santé Candied Pecans, A Sweet, Better-For-You Snack

    Santé Pecans. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    Santé Nuts sent us packages of snack nuts in nine varieties:

  • Almonds: Chipotle Almonds, Garlic Almonds
  • Cashews: Cardamom Cashews
  • Pecans: Candied Pecans, Cinnamon Pecans,
    Roasted Salted Pecans, Sweet and Spicy Pecans
  • Pistachios: Candied Pistachios
  • Walnuts: Candied Walnuts
    Even the savory flavors have a touch of sweetness. The nuts are gluten-free and certified kosher by Star-K.

    The line was developed by necessity: Sara Tidhar was a single mom in need of an income. Her son urged her to sell the roasted, seasoned nuts she made for the family and she soon found herself with thousands of orders.

    Santé, the French word for health, denotes a better-for-you snack. We really like the one-ounce, grab-and-go packages of nutritious nuts as a substitute for candy and cookie snacks. They’re all-natural, very crunchy and fresh-tasting, with just enough cane sugar to satisfy a sweet tooth.

    Hand-roasted in small batches, the nuts are made with less oil (canola oil, a monounsaturated, healthy fat), as well. Try them with a fruity wine or beer.

    Santé Nuts can be purchased on and on the company website, One-ounce packages are $1.99, four-ounce packages are $5.99.

    Toss Into Recipes

    The nuts add interest to a salad—green salad, chicken salad, tuna salad, spinach-and-blue-cheese salad—sweet potato casserole, stuffing, whatever. Here are two lively salad recipes to try:

  • Pear, Arugula & Endive Salad With Candied Walnuts
  • Curried Chicken Salad With Pecans & Grapes

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Secondary Sauces, Part 3, Demi-Glace

    Become a sauce master: Here’s Part 3 of chef Johnny Gnall’s tutorial on the secondary sauces. Start at the beginning with:

  • The Five Mother Sauces
  • Secondary Sauces: Bearnaise and Creole
  • Secondary Sauces: Cheddar Cheese Sauce and Sauce Suprême
    If you have questions or suggestions for other tips, email Chef Johnny.


    Demi-glace (pronounced DEH-me GLAHS) is a rich brown sauce that is often served with beef, lamb and pork. The term comes from the French word glace, which means icing or glaze (among other things, including ice and ice cream); demi means half. Demi-glace is thicker and contains more gelatin than espagnole alone, so it has more body.

  • Demi-glace is traditionally made by combining equal parts veal stock or other brown stock and the mother sauce, espagnole.
  • Then reduce the liquid by half and strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

    A Berkshire pork chop atop a demi-glace sauce. Photo courtesy


    Marchand De Vin Sauce

    A variation of demi-glace is sauce marchand de vin (marchand de vin is French for wine merchant), which, not surprisingly, includes wine.

  • Combine 3/4 cup red wine and one minced shallot; reduce by three fourths.
  • Whisk in a quart of demi-glace; reduce, simmer and season to your liking.
    You now have a sauce that is perfect for pretty much any meat you can cook up!

    Beyond the myriad classic sauces that stem from espagnole sauce, I am always up for some boundary crossing between cuisines—otherwise known as fusion food. I am a big fan of taking this classic French sauce and bringing it down to Mexico.

    Mole Sauce

    By adding a little cocoa powder and very little chile powder to a quart of espagnole sauce, you turn it into variety of mole sauce.

  • Start with 2 tablespoons cocoa and 2 teaspoons chile powder; add both in small doses to the sauce until you achieve your liking. Depending on how much you use, cocoa has a distinct and earthy flavor that can exist in the background or take over the stage (so bear that in mind as you add it).
  • You can also sweeten the sauce to your liking. I suggest using palm sugar or brown sugar, as sweeteners with color often have a bit of character that can add another bit of complexity to the sauce. Just remember to always add ingredients in small amounts and taste often in order to get the flavor profile just right. Reduce at a simmer if you’d like to thicken your sauce or intensify the flavors, season with a pinch or two of salt, and you’re ready to go.
    This variation of mole is not precisely the traditional Mexican procedure, but nobody will be complaining.

    My mom, who grew up in Mexico, serves her mole sauce with lamb chops and mashed potatoes.

  • Whip some goat cheese into the mashed potatoes.
  • Marinate the lamb chops with some sherry vinegar: The tartness on the lamb chop alongside the creamy mashed potatoes, all drizzled with that sweet, earthy sauce, comes together like a symphony in your mouth.

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day

    The gourmet version of Raisinets, from Lake
    Champlain Chocolates
    (certified kosher).


    Today is National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day. In the form of Raisinets, the dried-fruit-in-a-candy-shell is a movie theater staple and the third-largest selling candy in U.S. history.

    To make the candy, raisins are coated with oil and spun in a hot drum with milk or dark chocolate. They’re then polished to a shine.

    Raisinets are the earliest brand on record, introduced by the Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company of Philadelphia in 1927 (the brand was acquired by Nestlé in 1984).

    We don’t know that the Blumenthals originated the concept. Hard chocolate was invented in 1847, enabling confectioners to develop all types of chocolate candies (the history of chocolate). No doubt, chocolate-dipped fruit was in the repertoire.

    See all the food holidays.

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