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Archive for May, 2012

TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Signature Mocktail

A cranberry-lemonade mocktail. Photo by
Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


Mixologists invent new cocktails all the time. They look at the ingredients around them, and start combining.

You can do the same with mocktails, mixed drinks without alcohol. One of the most historic is shandy, a 50:50 combination of beer mixed with a carbonated beverage: cider, citrus soda (like 7-UP), ginger beer, ginger ale or lemonade.

The shandy is also called a half-and-half. And then there’s the Arnold Palmer, a non-alcoholic shandy made of half lemonade and half iced tea.

So today’s tip is: Create your own signature mocktail.

Start with a half-and-half recipe of your favorite ingredients. Make a small test recipe—a half cup or so.

You can turn it into a family or friends activity by inviting others to join you as co-mixologists. If you enjoy the exercise, you can make it a party activity, with a prize for the best recipe.

What should you mix?

Start with fruit sodas (cherry, cranberry, lemon-lime, raspberry, etc.), club soda and fruit juices (apple juice, lemonade, pomegranate juice, etc.). Add bitters if you enjoy them (we love them!), and top off your creation with a squeeze of lemon or lime.


To start you off, here’s a mocktail combination from Whole Foods Market, an enhancement of the raspberry-lime Rickeys of our youth:

  • Half cranberry soda, such as Whole Foods Market Cranberry Italian soda
  • Half lemonade, such as 365 Everyday Value Lemonade
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Garnish: lime wheel or wedge, fresh raspberries
    For more lime flavor, juice a lime and add a teaspoon per eight-ounce serving.



    The Rickey (originally the “Joe Rickey”) was created in 1883 at Shoomaker’s bar in Washington, D.C. It was named for Colonel Joe Rickey, a Missouri statesman. Each morning, he went to Shoomaker’s for a Bourbon with sparkling water over ice.

    One day, the bartender added a squeeze of lime, and the Rickey was born. It’s evolved to include simple syrup and bitters. Omit the Bourbon and you’ve got a mocktail that you can layer with other ingredients (soda, juice, etc.).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 3 dashes bitters
  • 6 – 8 ounces club soda
  • 1.5 ounces Bourbon

    1. Combine first three ingredients in a collins glass.

    2. Top with soda, add garnish and serve.


    Just combine these ingredients. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Long before we knew of the original Rickey cocktail, and long before the invention of the word “mocktail,” we enjoyed many a raspberry-lime Rickey at Brigham’s soda fountain in Harvard Square (alas, long gone).

    A sparkling blend of raspberry syrup, lime syrup and club soda, it was the Boston alternative to the New York egg cream. And, depending on your proclivities, it’s much more refreshing than the original.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gnudi, Naked Ravioli

    Herb-laced gnudi. Photo © Comugnero
    Silvana | Fotolia.


    Do you like gnocchi, ravioli and tortellini, but not the carbs? Get to know gnudi: It’s the filling without the pasta or the potatoes. Essentially, gnudi are a low-carb way to enjoy pasta.

    Chef Johnny Gnall shares an easy gnudi recipe. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.


    Gnocchi, Italian for dumplings (pronounced NYOH-kee) are chewy pillows that are shaped into little balls or ovals. They are most often made with white or sweet potatoes, then boiled, baked or fried. They can be flavored: basil, spinach, tomato and saffron are popular. They’re served with butter and grated Parmesan cheese or a sauce.

    Gnudi (pronounced NYOO-dee) means nude in Italian. Gnudi consist of pasta filling—what you find inside tortellini or ravioli—shaped into small, flattened balls without any dough. A common recipe includes ricotta, spinach and Parmesan cheese. The gnudi are then sautéed or baked.


    Gnudi can be served with marinara sauce, mushroom ragoût, pan-sautéed cherry tomatoes, fresh peas, crispy pancetta or whatever inspires you. You can cook them in herb butter, or in plain butter with a sprinkle of fresh herbs atop the gnudi. I like the traditional brown butter-sage sauce.

    Gnudi are referred to as “cousins” of gnocchi because both are dumpling-like, but gnocchi are typically chewy and heavy from the potato, and potato-less gnudi are delicate pillows bound with egg and cheese.

    The recipe below calls for spinach, but you can substitute any hearty green—I also enjoy it with chard or kale. Basic gnudi with just egg, cheese, and a little flour, but the greens help bind and give the gnudi a nice color.

    Take your time when first making gnudi: Like any dough, especially one with such low flour content, it takes a while to get a feel for the process. The small amount of flour, however, helps to keep your dough from getting quickly overworked and tough.

    I like gnudi with a sage and brown butter sauce, but they work well with any number of sauces. Even something as simple as some melted butter and fresh grated Parmesan will make them absolutely delicious!




  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 pound puréed spinach
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 ounces of fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces flour
  • Salt and pepper
    For The Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter

    Gnudi before cooking. Photo courtesy Robert Love’s Food and Recipe Blog. Check out his recipe and photos of gnudi-in-progress.

  • 8 sage leaves, finely chopped, plus whole leaves for optional garnish
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    Optional Garnishes

  • Truffle salt
  • Fried sage leaves

    1. Make the sauce. Melt butter in a sauté pan and cook until it begins to turn golden brown (do not overcook or the butter may burn). Add sage; stir and and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and set aside.

    2. Remove water from spinach. It’s important that you remove most of the water from your spinach, or the dough will never come together. Press the pureed spinach against a mesh strainer and then hang it to drain for 30 minutes.

    3. Combine ricotta and spinach. Thoroughly incorporate, then add the beaten egg, a couple of pinches of salt, and Parmesan. Mix well. Taste a bit of your mixture and adjust with salt and pepper as necessary.

    4. Add the flour. The actual amount of flour may vary slightly depending on anything from the moisture content of the ricotta to the moisture in the atmosphere. Too much flour could make the gnudi dense and heavy; not enough flour, and the gnudi might fall apart. Therefore, bring everything together and test the consistency by dropping a spoonful into some boiling water. If it holds its general shape and doesn’t come apart in the water, you’ve nailed it!

    5. Shape the gnudi. Using two spoons, form your gnudi into quenelles (oval shapes) and lay them on a cookie sheet, tray or clean surface. One they are ready to go, drop them into seasoned boiling water in batches. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your pot, or the gnudi will jostle one another and likely fall apart. Once the dumplings float to the surface, they should take about a minute to cook. Exact cooking time may vary, so it do a tester or two and see which time suits your taste.

    6. Sauce and serve. Right before serving, return the brown butter to the heat and add the Parmesan cheese. Stir to blend, then add the gnudi and toss to coat. Serve immediately.



  • 1 bunch fresh sage (or however many leaves you want for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt or kosher salt

    1. Wash and dry sage and remove stems. Be sure that the leaves are thoroughly dry before frying (when we don’t have time to air dry, we use a hair dryer!).

    2. Heat oil in a small pan over medium-high heat.

    3. Fry sage leaves until crisp, 2–3 seconds. Do not crowd in the pan; fry in batches if necessary.

    4. Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt. Reserve until ready to serve.


    Check out the delicious options in our Pasta Glossary.


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    COOKING VIDEO: Asparagus In The Microwave


    Don’t let asparagus season pass you by! The delicious vegetable is in season for only another month or so.

    Watch Alton Brown demonstrate how easy it is to steam asparagus in the microwave. (In the video, is he hanging upside down, or is that trick photography?)

    Steamed fresh asparagus don’t even need butter: A sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon or lime makes a delectable, low-calorie dish. When we’re cutting back on cholesterol, we use fat-free Greek yogurt with lemon zest and a bit of garlic salt as a side dip.



    Find more of our favorite vegetable recipes.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Skate Wing Recipe

    We love skate, a group of cartilaginous fishes belonging to the family Rajidae, the rays. The firm white flesh, which comes from the “wings” of the ray, is sweet, succulent and distinctively delicious.

    We always order skate when we see it on a menu—invariably at a French or seafood restaurant. Often, it is served in brown butter with capers; but however it is prepared, it is always a treat.

    Because skate isn’t the easiest fish to find at the market, we never cooked it at home—until this super-easy recipe sent us on a skate wing hunt. The recipe is from Brooklyn Wok Shop, a New York restaurant that has reinterpreted Cantonese cuisine using classic French techniques.

    Chef Edric Har worked at some of New York City’s great restaurants (Le Bernardin, Veritas, Cru) and his wife, Melissa, grew up in her family’s Chinese restaurants in Orlando. They call their concept Chinese Food 2.0.


    Skate has a delicious white flesh that is distinctly different from other fish. Photo courtesy Brooklyn Wok Shop.


    We enjoyed the recipe so much, we’ve made skate our tip Of The Day. It may not be easy to find, so call around to your local fish stores.

    Skate with Ginger and Scallions

    Serves 2-3 with a side of rice.


  • 1 pound skate wing filets
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 2 scallions, washed and sliced into 1/8 inch rounds
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt and white pepper
  • Your favorite rice (we like fragrant jasmine rice with this dish)


    1. Cut each skate wing in half to create two palm sized pieces.

    2. In a pot large enough to fit all the fillets, fill with water about 5 inches deep and bring to a boil. Note: The skate will curl as it cooks, so allow enough water to cover.

    3. Once the water is boiling, season with salt and add the skate. Turn off the heat and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the skate.

    4. Remove fish to a plate with a slotted spoon and top with scallions and ginger.

    5. Heat canola oil until just smoking and pour over the ginger and scallions. Drizzle soy sauce over the fish and season with white pepper. Serve with rice and a side of your favorite greens (broccoli rabe or conventional broccoli go nicely).

    Find more of our favorite fish and seafood recipes.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Burger Bar, Diversity Burgers

    A turkey burger Caribbean-style, topped with
    a grilled pineapple slice. Photo courtesy


    America is burger crazy: Burgers are our most popular food. And those burgers are usually beef.

    But there are other burgers, equally delicious: bison, grain (usually sprouted), lamb, legume (black beans, lentils), turkey and veggie burgers.

    The next time you cook burgers, try a “burger bar” with an assortment of proteins. We’ve become converts to lamb burgers—plain, curried or topped with feta cheese. Lamb lovers will find them so much tastier than beef.

    With so many burgers consumed, there’s lots of room for creativity. Check out:

  • 35+ burger recipes—beef, bison, turkey and veggie—plus condiments and breads to turn hamburgers into glamburgers and create a memorable burger bar.
  • Gourmet cheeseburger recipes.
  • Burger grilling tips.

    Do you know the history of the hamburger?


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