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Archive for October 20, 2012

RECIPE: Brandied Fruit

October 20th is National Brandied Fruit Day. Brandied fruit—fruit salad flavored with brandy or cognac—is a dish that has fallen out of fashion in the era of modern cuisine. But it is easy to make, delicious to eat and very healthful.

Brandied fruit can be enjoyed on its own; or with a topping of sour cream or yogurt (plain or vanilla), blended with a bit of brown sugar. Add a plate of small cookies and you’ve got a fine dessert.

You can also use brandied fruit as a topping for angel, pound or sponge cakes; and under or over a scoop of sorbet.

Serve it in a pretty glass dish, a goblet, or in a meringue nest.


The best fruit salad is an appealing mix of colors, flavors an textures.

  • Citrus fruits add liveliness.
  • Seasonal fruits add personality. We love mixed melon fruit salads in the summer. In the winter months when the selection is limited, use apples, bananas, grapes and pineapple and mix in some dry fruits for complexity. If you have raisins, toss ‘em in.

    Mix brandy with fresh fruit salad for a sophisticated and healthful dessert. Photo © M. Studio | Fotolia.


    Cut larger fruits into even pieces; seed the grapes and pit the cherries. If you’re using fruits that brown, sprinkle the cut fruit with lemon juice. Slice bananas just before serving, as they discolor most quickly.


    The easiest version is simply to sprinkle brandy over a fruit salad; cover and refrigerate for an hour or more. We actually mix a tablespoon with the fruit juices from the salad; then toss to ensure that all pieces are coated.

    You can also add some mint leaves to the marinade. Before serving, remove them and replace with fresh mint leaves.


    You can also brandy a fruit compote, which is mixed stewed fruit. These should be the best seasonal fruits, full of natural sweetness and flavor.

    Here’s the recipe for compote.


    As the saying goes, all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.

    Cognac is grape brandy, a distillate of wine. It is specifically produced in the region surrounding the town of Cognac, in central France. It is double distilled using pot stills and then aged for at least two years. It must be made from a specific group of white grape varieties, as well.

    Grape brandy can be made anywhere, from any grapes (brandy is also made from fruit and pomace), does not require double distillation or long aging.

    Cognac is a better product. The double distilling and aging rounds out the spirit and produces more mellow flavors.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Make Perfect Pancakes & Ghost Pancakes For Halloween

    Make the pancake, use a ghost cookie cutter. If
    you have several cookie cutters, you can use
    them as pancake molds. Boo-ya! Photo


    Here are ten tips for making a flawless flapjack from Joel Clark, owner of Kodiak Cakes. Kodiak Cakes was one of the better-rated products in our review of 99 whole grain pancake and waffle mixes (here’s the review and the entire article).

    If your pancakes don’t come out the way they like, pick up some tips from Joel, below.

    What’s the difference between a pancake and a flapjack?

    While there are many different types of pancakes, from thin crepes to aebleskivers, Danish pancakes in a ball-like shape, more like a muffin than our round, flat pancakes (see our Pancake & Waffle Glossary).

    In North America, pancakes contain not just flour and water but a raising agent such as baking powder; plus eggs and and milk to create a thick batter. These flat but thick pancakes are also called flapjacks, griddlecakes and hotcakes


    Pancakes need to be made with the right ingredients and cooked the right way. We actually prefer whole grain pancake flour, which has more substance, more nutrition, more flavor and better texture than refined flour pancakes.


    Given the best ingredients, here are 10 tips that will help to make you a fabulous flapjack flipper.

    Tip 1: Don’t batter the batter. Batter should only be mixed enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Then stop mixing, even if you still have lumps. This is because flour contains gluten, a gluey protein that activates when it gets wet. If over-mixed, it becomes tough and rubbery. Don’t worry about the lumps. They’ll disappear when cooked.

    Tip 2: Lay it on thick—or thin. Thinner batter gives the pancake a lighter texture, while thicker batter makes it more dense and heavy.

    Tip 3: Add some fun to it. While not a requirement, stir-ins are a fun addition. Consider bananas, berries, chocolate chips, cinnamon and vanilla . On the savoy side, try crumbled bacon or diced sausage.


    Tip 4: Be patient. Let the griddle heat up for about five minutes. If the pan is too cool, your pancakes be tough from cooking too long. If the pan’s too hot, you’ll end up with doughy centers. When the pan is hot enough, few drops of water should dance around the griddle; 375°F is usually about right.

    Tip 5: Measure, don’t guess. To make consistently shaped flapjacks, use a 1/3 or 1/4 cup measuring cup of batter.

    Tip 6: Butter isn’t better. Make a small puddle of vegetable oil on the griddle and pour the batter directly into the middle of the puddle. The oil will surround the edges and make them crispy and tasty. Butter can burn on the pan and cause bitter specs of burnt butter to adhere to the pancake. Cooking spray is fine if you’re trying to keep it lean, but it doesn’t add flavor or make the edges crispy.

    Tip 7: Don’t double flip. Flipping the pancake more than once creates a dry pancake. Flipping the pancake at the right time will help you avoid this temptation. Pancakes are ready to turn when the top is full of air holes and the sides start looking a bit dry. Peaking underneath a lifted edge will help you determine the proper flipping-time: Look for a nice golden brown color.


    Follow these steps and you’ll have a perfect stack. Photo courtesy


    Tip 8: Don’t flatten the flapjack. A big misconception is that smashing the flapjack will help it cook faster or eliminate the possibility of a doughy center. Don’t believe it! This is the cardinal sin of the art of flapjack flipping and must be avoided! The hot air inside the flapjack helps it cook better. Pressing down on the pancake merely pushes the air out of it and undoes all of the work you did to create a perfectly light and fluffy pancake.

    Tip 9: Keep it hot. Who wants a cold flapjack? If you are cooking for a large group and can’t serve them hot off the griddle, the best way to keep pancakes warm is to place them, single-layered, on a cookie sheet in a warm oven. Do not stack them or cover them or they’ll become soggy.

    Tip 10: Don’t short the stack. This means to never skimp on the toppings: real butter, warmed pure maple syrup, fresh berries, apple sauce, peanut butter, bananas or all of the above.

    Now, you’re ready to flip a stack of super flapjacks. Say that fast three times!


    1. Place pancake batter in a large plastic food storage bag. Seal the bag, push all of the batter to one end and cut the tip off of the plastic food storage bag.

    2. Into a hot pan or skillet, fill cookie cutters with pancake mix. After the tops bubble, pull off the cookie cutters and flip the pancake.

    3. Alternatively, you can make round or square pancakes, then use the cookie cutter to cut the shapes. This creates a lot of scraps, but the scraps are delicious with maple syrup; serve them for dessert with ice cream and syrup.
    Find more of our favorite pancakes and other breakfast foods.


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