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Archive for January, 2014

GIFT OF THE DAY: Special Caramels For Your Honey

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Salted honey caramels. Photo courtesy
Droga.

 

For the lover of gourmet caramels, something special for your Valentine:

Put Your Money On Honey salted caramels from Droga Chocolates of Los Angeles.

The luscious bites are the result of a bet that a caramel couldn’t be made without corn syrup. Seeking a solution to the challenge, Droga says:

“Inspiration stung us—honey was the answer! The first honey caramel came to bee, and people have been abuzz ever since.”

And you should make a bee-line for them! So soft and redolent of fine honey, each taste makes you want another. And another.

The small-batch caramels are:

  • Made with California creamery pure cream and butter
  • Sweetened with raw California wildflower honey
  • Enrobed in premium dark chocolate from Guittard
  • Sprinkled with delicate French fleur de sel sea salt
  •  

    The nine caramels in the gift box ($16.95, two boxes for $29.95) will disappear quickly, but leave such happy memories.

    Droga confections are certified kosher by KOF-K.

    Get yours at DrogaChocolates.com.

    There are caramels in other flavors that also hit the spot. Here’s our review.

      

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    VALENTINE GIFT: Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

    chocolate-covered-potato-chips-sharisberries-230sq

    Oh so good! Photo courtesy Shari’s Berries.

     

    Some people would like box of creamy chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

    Others would gladly trade for a bag of chocolate-covered potato chips.

    Savory meets sweet when crunchy, salty potato chips are drenched in quality chocolate—in our humble opinion, the greatest improvement to the potato chip since it was invented (potato chip history).

    While you can find chocolate-covered chips at Trader Joe’s, more giftable versions come from Shari’s Berries, shown in the photo. A bag of 14 ounces of divine chocolate-covered potato chips is $24.99. The chips are certified kosher (dairy) by OU.

     

    For a more formal presentation, Neuchatel’s Swiss Chips, dipped in milk chocolate, are packaged in a purple and gold can, $8.00.

    Swiss Colony sells 8.5 ounces in a gift tin for $17.95.

    Enjoy them from the bag, can or a serving dish. Use them to garnish ice cream and other desserts. And hold us harmless from any addiction to chocolate-covered potato chips that may develop.

      

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    CHINESE NEW YEAR: Chinese Long Beans

    It’s Chinese New Year: The Year Of The Horse begins today (the actual year is 4712). Make a Chinese-inspired dish.

    Chef Daniel Boulud take Chinese long beans, steamed them and tied them into knots, topped with chicken (see the photo below).

    What a fun way to get people to eat more green beans!

    Our recipe, below, is much simpler, and the Chinese-style beans can be served with any dish that pair with green beans.

    You can find Chinese long beans in Asian markets, or plan ahead and grow your own yard-long string beans with these string bean seeds from Burpee.

    You can substitute regular green beans, which are just as tasty, if not as striking in appearance.

     

    Chinese long beans. Photo courtesy Burpee.

     

    RECIPE: CHINESE LONG BEANS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon peanut or sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  •  
    *Available in the Asian products section of most supermarkets, in Asian specialty stores and online; Lee Kum Kee is a quality brand. See more about oyster sauce below. You can substitute Hoisin sauce, but it gives the dish a sweeter flavor than the pungent oyster sauce.

     

    Daniel Boulud’s long bean knots with
    chicken. Photo by Richard Patterson |
    RichardPattersonPhoto.com | Restaurant
    Daniel.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook until the edges begin to brown, about 20 seconds.

    2. ADD the beans; cook and stir until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

    3. STIR in the sugar, oyster sauce and soy sauce. Continue cooking/stirring for several minutes until the beans have attained the desired degree of tenderness.
     
    WHAT IS A CHINESE LONG BEAN?

    Its botanical name is Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis. It is best known as the long bean or Chinese yardlong bean, but also as the asparagus bean, bora, long-podded cowpea, pea bean, snake bean and yardlong bean. The pods are actually about half a yard long; the subspecies name sesquipedalis means “one and a half feet long” (half a yard).

     

    While its flavor is similar to the green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), it is from a different genus. In fact, it is a member of the cowpea species, which includes blackeyed peas.

     
    WHAT IS OYSTER SAUCE?

    A popular condiment in Chinese and Filipino cuisines, oyster sauce is often used in stir fries and as a topping for steamed vegetables.

    The viscous sauce is prepared from oysters and brine. A true oyster sauce is aromatic with intense flavor, and is expensive. Most oyster sauces on the market are cheaper, diluted solutions of concentrated ones. There are also vegan versions made from mushrooms.

    Oyster sauce was invented in 1888 by Mr. Lee Kam-Sheung of Nam Shui Village in Guangdong Province, Chinas, an island where oysters were abundant.

    Originally born in another village, Lee was a farmer who had to leave town following threats from local gangsters. He opened a restaurant in his new village, using the local oysters to make stock. One day he forgot about a pot of stock on the stove, and when he returned to it the stock had boiled down to a thick, aromatic and delicious sauce: a happy accident!*

    His company, Lee Kum Kee, continues to produce oyster sauce along with a wide variety of fine Asian condiments.

    *Source: Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in Hong Kong: A Casebook, edited by Ali F. Farhoomand. Here’s the page reference.

      

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    SUPER BOWL: Buffalo Brussels Sprouts & Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

    Thanks to QVC for this recipe by Meredith Lawrence |Blue Jean Chef for QVC.

    “Deep-frying is not the most common way of cooking Brussels sprouts,” says Meredith, “but it’s delicious! You can alter this recipe by leaving out the breading and just deep-frying the sprouts, or by using a different type of dip, like honey-mustard or ranch, instead of the blue cheese.”

    RECIPE: BUFFALO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

    Ingredients

    For The Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • Canola oil (for deep-frying)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  

    Even people who don’t like Brussels sprouts will enjoy these! Photo courtesy QVC.

     
    Buffalo Hot Sauce

  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  •  
    Blue Cheese Dip

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon chives, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  


    Buffalo grilled cheese sandwich. Photo
    courtesy QVC. The recipe is below.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the Buffalo hot sauce by combining the hot sauce and butter in a small bowl; set aside.

    2. PREPARE the blue cheese dip: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until the Brussels sprouts are ready.

    3. PREPARE the Brussels sprouts: Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Blanch the halved Brussels sprouts in vigorously boiling water for 2 minutes. Strain and drain well, rolling around in a clean dish towel to remove as much of the moisture as possible.

    4. FILL a straight-sided sauté pan with canola oil about 2-3 inches deep, and bring the temperature to 350°F.

    5. PLACE the flour and eggs in two separate shallow dishes. In a third shallow dish, or a zipper-sealable plastic bag, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Lightly dredge the Brussels sprouts in the flour, then dip them into the egg mixture. Coat with the breadcrumb mixture.

    6. DEEP FRY the breaded Brussels sprouts in the oil until nicely browned. Remove from the pan and place on a rack or paper towel-lined plate. Allow the Brussels to cool slightly and serve immediately with the Buffalo Hot Sauce and Blue Cheese Dip.

     
    RECIPE: BUFFALO CHICKEN GRILLED CHEESE

    This recipe comes from QVC’s resident chef, David Venable. David’s tip: To make these appetizer-friendly, simply cut the sandwiches into bite-size pieces and place a toothpick into each square!.

    Ingredients

  • 8 slices French bread, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup celery, minced
  • 5 tablespoons Buffalo Wing sauce
  • Softened butter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPREAD the butter evenly on four slices of bread and lay each slice, buttered-side down, on a work surface lined with parchment or wax paper. Set the remaining four slices aside.

    2. WHIP the cream cheese in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the Cheddar cheese and mix well; then fold in the blue cheese. Spread the mixture onto the plain side of each slice of bread.

    3. COMBINE the chicken, mayonnaise, onion, celery, and Buffalo Wing sauce in a new mixing bowl; toss until the chicken is evenly coated. Spread this mixture on top of the prepared bread slices and top with the remaining four slices.

    4. HEAT a large sauté pan or griddle over medium-low heat. Add the sandwiches and toast each side until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Serve.

      

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    SUPER BOWL RECIPE: Taco Sundae

    Wondering what to o with those banana split dishes? Make a taco sundae!

    This recipe is from Wholly Guacamole, which uses its Wholly Guacamole Classic Dip and Wholly Salsa. It takes just 20 minutes to prepare.

    RECIPE: TACO SUNDAE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup salsa (your choice of mild, medium or hot)
  • 3 cups shredded lettuce
  • 14 ounces guacamole
  • 6 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • Tortilla chips
  • ice cream scoop
  • Oval bowls
  •  

    Taco_Sundae-whollyguacamole-230sq

    There’s no ice cream in this sundae! Photo courtesy Wholly Guacamole.

     

    Preparation

    1. BROWN the ground meat; then add the taco seasoning, adding a little water as needed to distribute the seasoning evenly. Stir to mix well. Continue cooking another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese.

    2. HEAT the refried beans.

    3. COMBINE combine the sour cream with the Wholly Salsa dip in a small bowl.

    4. COVER the bottom of the dish with the shredded lettuce. Scoop the meat with the ice cream scoop, pack it with a spoon and place in the middle of the bed of lettuce.

    5. SQUEEZE the guacamole into the [cleaned] scoop, smooth with the back of a spoon or knife and place on one side of the meat. Place a scoop of beans on the other side of the meat.

    6. POUR a tablespoon of the salsa mixture over each scoop. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and place a cherry tomato on top. Serve with corn tortilla chips.

      

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