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Archive for April, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Garnishes Are Glamour

A standard plate of meat and veggies gets a sprinkling of glamour with pomegranate arils. Get the recipe at PomWonderful.com.

 

If you dine at fine restaurants, you may notice that garniture—the garnish on dish—makes a big difference in presentation.

Garnishes can improve any dish, savory or sweet, plain or fancy—a tuna sandwich, filet mignon, plate of pasta, dish of ice cream. As with fashion, the “accessories” take a look from now to wow.

Deciding in advance on the garnish is as much a part of our planning process as the basic recipe. It’s easy to choose the right garnish, as we show in this article.

The right final touch on the plate makes people take notice. In other words, it’s not just another bowl of tomato soup.

It’s easy to keep garnishes at the ready in the pantry and the freezer. Freeze extra chives, rosemary sprigs, berries and pomegranate arils and you’ll be prepared for most dishes.

Check out our article, Garnish Glamour, for an easy roadmap.

 

  

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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Mother’s Day Gifts

Looking for something special for Mother’s Day?

Of the products we’ve tried recently, here’s what we’re selected for our mother, aunt and other special moms:

  • Georgie’s English Scones. The scones arrive frozen, along with delicious lemon curd. You can also send ready-to-bake shortbread in the hard-to-find, festive petticoat tails (triangle) shape.
  • Kimberley Artisan Vinegars. Handcrafted in California, these organic vinegars have a depth of flavor and richness that’s different and delightful.
  • Clase Azul Reposado Tequila. The most exciting Tequila we’ve ever had, in a stunning reusable majolica earthenware carafe.
  • The Corksicle. Forget the ice bucket: This is the best way to keep your wine chilled on the table.
  •  
    See the full review for details.
     
    FOOD FACTS

  • The history of scones
  • The history of shortbread
  • The history of Tequila
  • The history of vinegar
  •  

    Scones, fresh from the oven, are a treat for Mom. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Some Pigs In Blankets

    It’s time to celebrate National Pigs In Blankets Day.

    Ask for some pigs in blankets in the U.K., and you’ll get a cocktail sausage wrapped in bacon (more like a pig in a pig, we think).

    At IHOP, the International House Of Pancakes, you can chow down on pork sausage links rolled in a pancake “blankets.”

    But across the U.S., what caterers declare to be the most popular hors d’oeuvre is a cocktail frankfurter in a pastry blanket. And don’t forget the mustard.

    Culinary historians have tracked the first recipes for modern pigs in blankets—small cocktail franks baked in flaky crust—to 1950. According to FoodTimeline.org, these pastry-wrapped piggies are likely direct descendants of Victorian-era canapés.

    The earliest recipe found in American cookbooks that was called “pigs in blankets” was published in the 1930. But there was no frankfurter or other sausage: it comprised oysters wrapped with bacon.

     

    pigs-in-blankets-hillshirefarmFB-230

    Pigs In Blankets. Photo courtesy Hillshire farms | Facebook.

     
    You know which little piggie recipe won out. So head to the market, grab some cocktail franks and a roll of croissant dough, and join the Neelys in the video, as they demonstrate how easy it is to make pigs in blankets.

    We highly recommend Dijon mustard (check out the different types of mustard).

    While pigs in blankets are classic cocktail fare, we find them even more delicious with beer. The following recipe was adapted from Pillsbury.

    RECIPE: PIGS IN BLANKETS

    Ingredients For 48 Pieces

  • 2 cans (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 48 cocktail franks (2 14-ounce packages)
  • Mustard for dipping
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Unroll both cans of dough and separate into 16 triangles. Cut each triangle lengthwise into 3 narrow triangles.

    2. PLACE 1 frank on the thin point of each triangle. Roll up, starting at the point. Place it seam side down on an ungreased cookie sheet (you’ll need two sheets for this amount). Repeat with the remaining franks.

    3. BAKE for 11 to 14 minutes or until golden brown, switching the position of cookie sheets halfway through baking. When done baking, immediately remove the from the cookie sheets to a serving tray(s) and serve.

      

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    RECIPE: Chili Corn Bread Salad, A Mexican Layered Salad

    Here’s a variation of the popular Mexican layered salad that’s begging to be served for Cinco de Mayo. The difference: crumbled corn bread, mascarpone and ranch dressing instead of sour cream, and no guacamole.

    This Chili Corn Bread Salad recipe was adapted from another recipe by Emily Carncross of Lodi, Wisconsin. She used Crave Brothers mascarpone (one of the world’s best—more about Crave cheeses) and Wisconsin Cheddar.*

    Emily comments, “I was looking for something different to bring to a potluck and came across this salad. I did not have any sour cream, so I substituted mascarpone cheese and really liked the taste it added to the dressing.”

    *Why is Cheddar capitalized? It’s due to editorial style. Some publications capitalize the names of foods named after places. Cheddar is a place, as are Asiago, Brie, Camembert, Gorgonzola, Parmesan (Parma), Roquefort and many others. Other cheese names, such as blue cheese, chevre/goat cheese, cream cheese and mozzarella, are descriptive rather than place names. THE NIBBLE thus does not capitalize them.

     

    A Mexican-style layered salad with a surprise: corn bread! Photo courtesy CraveCheese.com.

     

    Mexican Layered Salad Ingredients

  • 1 package (8-1/2 ounces) corn bread/muffin mix
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies, undrained
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of sage
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (15-1/4 ounces, each) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
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    Preparation

    1. BAKE. Prepare corn bread batter according to package directions. Stir in the chilies, cumin, oregano and sage. Spread in a greased 8-inch-square baking pan. Bake at 400°F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.

    2. MIX. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, mascarpone and dressing mix; set aside.

    3. LAYER. Crumble half of the corn bread into a 13x9x2-inch pan. Layer with half of the beans, mayonnaise mixture, corn, tomatoes, green peppers, onion, bacon and cheese. Repeat for a second layer (the dish will be very full).

    4. CHILL. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer. Yield: 12 servings.

    WANT A BASKET CASSEROLE DISH?

    Check out this handsome white ceramic casserole nestled in a woven rattan basket:

  • Medium: L 13 x 7 x 3
  • Large: 16 1/2″L x 8 1/2″W x 4″H
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Hispanic Cheeses With Hot Pepper Mango Salsa

    Try slices of queso blanco with a hot mango
    salsa as a first course or even for dessert.
    Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     

    You don’t have to wait for Cinco de Mayo to try Mexican cheeses, but it is one easy way to plan to celebrate the upcoming holiday.

    There are fresh and aged Hispanic cheeses. The ones you may be most familiar with are the fresh cheeses:

  • Queso blanco, a snacking and cooking cheese.
  • Queso fresco, a cheese frequently crumbled as a topping or filling in cooked dishes.
  • Panela, a Mexican variation of mozzarella.
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    Check out the different types of Hispanic cheeses. The terms “Hispanic” and “Mexican” are used interchangeably, but “Hispanic” more accurately conveys that the cheeses are used throughout Latin America.

    All cheeses can be made more glamorous with cheese condiments. Among all the different condiments that can be served with Mexican cheese, salsa, not surprisingly, pairs well. A fruit salsa—mango or peach, for example, with cheese—is a spicy alternative to the conventional European fruit-and-cheese plate.

     

    If you don’t want to serve fresh cheese with fruit salsa, put together an assorted plate of Hispanic cheeses and serve it with a variety of fruits, nuts, breads/crackers and cheese condiments.

    If you do want to go the salsa route, make this recipe from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Wisconsin cheese makers create much of the Hispanic-style cheeses sold in the U.S. A large number of Hispanic cheese makers have moved from Mexico and other Latin American countries to produce the cheeses in Wisconsin.

    RECIPE: QUESO BLANCO WITH MANGO JALAPEÑO SALSA

    Ingredients

    Cool, sweet mango, contrasted with hot jalapeño, adds an exciting kick to Hispanic-style cheeses. During peach season, you can substitute fresh peaches. You can also use strawberries, which are available year-round; fresh blueberries in season; nectarines and plums; even apples and grapes.

  • 2 cups mango, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño chile, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pounds queso blanco or other Hispanic cheese (allow two one-ounce slices per peson—although some people will beg for more)
  • Optional garnish: cilantro or other green herb
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE. Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl and blend.

    2. CHILL. Refrigerate covered for at least 3 hours before serving with cheese. Keep refrigerated for up to four days.

    3. SERVE. For each serving, plate two slices of queso blanco. Serve with a ramekin of salsa and garnish. If you don’t have small ramekins, you can be creative—for example, serve the salsa in hollowed-out lime halves after you’ve squeezed out the juice. The reason it’s better to use a container of some sort is because the liquids in the salsa will run over the plate.

      

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