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Archive for March 3, 2014

ST. PATRICK’S DAY GIFT: Kohler “Emeralds”

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Mint, one of the four flavors of Emeralds.
Photo courtesy Kohler.

 

Some people would like a bottle of Irish whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day.

Others would rather have chocolate. And there’s one box of chocolates that’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

Inspired by the Emerald Isle, Kohler’s Emerald chocolates are a beautiful box of chocolates with “green”-flavored ganaches*, enveloped in milk chocolate.

All of the chocolates are emerald-shaped shells in milk or semisweet chocolate, painted† in different shades of green.

Each flavor—Absinthe, Green Tea, Lime and Mint—has a different design.

 
*Ganache is a velvety smooth blend of chocolate and cream, often with butter added, that is rolled in cocoa powder and sugar or other coatings to make a truffle. It is also used as a center for bonbons. Ganache can be made from dark, milk, or white chocolate and flavored with chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, extracts—virtually any flavor that inspires the chocolatier. More about ganache, and why it means “imbecile” in French.

†The “paint” is colored cocoa butter.

 

Boxes are available in 4, 9 and 32 pieces: $9.99, $18.99 and $59.99. Get yours at KohlerChocolates.com.

 
ABOUT KOHLER CHOCOLATES

Kohler, known for fine porcelain fixtures and The American Club resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, was seriously considering purchasing a chocolate company to provide guests with fine confections. But CEO & Chairman, Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., loved chocolate caramel turtles, and couldn’t find a company that made the perfect turtle.

So he challenged the chefs at his resort to create a better turtle. After much testing, a recipe emerged that met Mr. Kohler’s standards for flavor, texture and appearance. This morsel evolved into the signature Terrapins that launched Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates in 2007.

WHO WAS ST. PATRICK?

A figure shrouded in myth, the man who became the Apostle of Ireland was born in England, around 385 C.E. to a prominent Christian family. He was captured by pirates at age 16, brought to Ireland and sold into slavery.

 

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The green tea-flavored Emerald. Photo courtesy Kohler.

 

His master, Milchu, was a high priest of Druidism, a Pagan sect that ruled religious influence over Ireland at the time. The enslaved young man worked as a shepherd, and during that time was called to Christianity.

He escaped after six years, returned to his family and entered the priesthood, returning to Ireland as a missionary. As he converted Druids to Christianity, his teachings combined Irish pagan beliefs with Christian sacrament; he is credited with devising the Celtic Cross.

After a lifetime spent converting of Ireland to Christianity—founding monasteries, organizing Ireland into dioceses and so forth—Patrick died circa 461.

His birthday is not known, but St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th, which falls during the Christian season of Lent. A religious holiday in Ireland, it has been celebrated for more than 1,000 years with a church service in the morning and a traditional dinner cabbage and Irish bacon.

Corned beef is actually an American contribution to the holiday. Immigrant Irish learned how to make corned beef from their immigrant Jewish neighbors.

  

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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Cold Cuts Day

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Cold cuts, an American favorite (but not a
nutritionist’s). Photo courtesy iGourmet.

 

Sliced beef and turkey are not cold cuts.

The term refers specifically to precooked or cured meat, often in loaf or sausage form, that are sliced and served cold on sandwiches or on party trays.

Today they are ubiquitous, pre-sliced in vacuum packs at the supermarket. Or, they can be sliced to order at a delicatessen (as in the old days) or the market’s deli counter.

The good news: Most people like cold cuts, and they’re easy lunch and party fare.

The bad news: Most cold cuts are higher in fat, nitrates* and sodium than roast beef (we have to include processed turkey breast in the high sodium category). In fact, the prepackaged kind have even more of these bad ingredients, as the larger exposed surface requires stronger preservatives.

 
A COLD CUT BY ANY OTHER NAME

Cold cuts are also known as deli meats, lunch meats, luncheon meats, sandwich meats and in the U.K., cold meats, cooked meats and sliced meats.
 
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*Why nitrates? They maintain the desired pink color.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Beignets For Mardi Gras

Celebrating the Carnival season, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century. So evoke Mardi Gras and New Orleans with a batch of homemade beignets.

WHAT’S MARDI GRAS?

The Carnival season begins on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day (January 6th) and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods the last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” But the idea of rich foods is far more appealing.

Why “Carnival?” Centuries ago, Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. It stuck, engendering huge Carnival events elsewhere, including New Orleans and Rio de Janiero.

 

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Beignets should be enjoyed warm, with a cup of strong coffee. Photo courtesy Orsay | New York City.

 
WHAT’S A BEIGNET?

A beignet (pronounced bayn-YAY, the french word for bump) is deep-fried choux pastry dough.

It’s a fritter similar to the German Spritzkuchen, the Italian zeppole and the Spanish churro. It can take on different shapes and flavorings depending on local preferences.

  • In New Orleans, beignets are like doughnut holes, typically sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. They’ve caught on at stylish restaurants nationwide, which serve them as dessert with a dipping sauce.
  • In France, the term refers to a variety of fried-dough pastry shapes with fruit fillings.
  • Beignets made with yeast pastry are called Berliners Pfannkuchen in Germany (the equivalent of an American jelly doughnut) and boules de Berlin in French.
  •  
    Beignets were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians, immigrants from Canada,* whose fritters were sometimes filled with fruit. Today’s beignets are a square or round piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar. The fruit (in the form of jam) is now served, optionally, on the side.

    The beignets at Café du Monde in New Orleans are worth going out of your way for (they taste best at the main location). After buying their mix and making them at home, we were unable to match the glory of the original, although we admit, we did not use cottonseed oil as they do.

    In New Orleans, the beignet is also known as the French Market doughnut, and it is the Louisiana State doughnut. (How many states have an official state doughnut?)

    At Café du Monde, beignets are served in orders of three. The cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for Christmas Day.
     
    HOW TO EAT A BEIGNET

    In New Orleans, beignets are served with the local favorite, chicory-laced coffee.

    You can enjoy them plain, with fruit curd or jam or with chocolate sauce.
     
    *The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia. That colony was located in what is now Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island—as well as part of Quebec and present-day Maine to the Kennebec River. Acadia was a distinctly separate colony of New France (which became Canada); the Acadians and Québécois developed two distinct histories and cultures. (Source: Wikipedia)

     

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    Without the confectioners’ sugar. Photo
    courtesy Duplex On Third | Los Angeles.

     

    The recipe below is from Nielsen-Massey, manufacturer of some of the finest extracts in the world, including the vanilla extract used in the recipe.

    RECIPE: VANILLA BEIGNET BITES

    Ingredients For 6 Dozen Beignets

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar n a small bowl; set aside to activate yeast. In a medium bowl, add butter, half-and-half and vanilla extract; stir and set aside. In a small bowl whisk eggs; set aside.

    2. COMBINE flour, sugar, salt and cardamom in a bowl of a free standing electric mixer. Place bowl on mixer stand which has been fitted with a dough hook. Turn mixer on low speed and combine dry ingredients. Turn mixer to medium speed then add activated yeast mixture. Add half-and-half mixture, then add the whisked eggs. Mix until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary. Dough will be slightly sticky.

    3. PLACE dough on a lightly floured surface and knead, about 2-3 minutes; add additional flour if needed. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep warm until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. After dough has risen, place on a lightly floured surface and gently knead. Roll dough into a rectangle, about ¼-inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut dough into small rectangles, about 1 x ½-inch pieces.

    4. HEAT oil to 375°F. Carefully place dough in hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 45-60 seconds. Turn beignets so that both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with Vanilla Powdered Sugar (recipe below) while bites are still warm. Serve with plain, with chocolate sauce, lemon curd or raspberry jam.
     
    VANILLA POWDERED SUGAR

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a small bowl.

      

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    RECIPE: Easy Gumbo For Mardi Gras

    Mardi Gras begins tomorrow. If you’d like to celebrate with the taste of New Orleans, whip up a gumbo.

    This recipe is from Chef David Venable of QVC, who calls it “an easy-to-tackle version, filled with great Louisiana flavor and spice.” Gumbos have a lot of ingredients, but the cooking technique isn’t demanding.

    Says David, “When preparing, be sure to chop your veggies in similar sizes to ensure that they cook at the same rate.” In this recipe, okra is used as a thickener, and also gives personality to the gumbo.
     
    RECIPE: CHICKEN & SAUSAGE GUMBO WITH
    OKRA

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs,
    chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, chopped
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 9 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 package (1 lb, 4 oz) frozen sliced okra
  •  

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    An easy gumbo, with chicken, okra and sausage. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    Plus

  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • Cooked rice for serving
  •  

    okra4365123Dreamstime

    Most people are familiar with okra that’s
    been sliced crosswise. Here’s what it looks
    like right off the plant. Photo by
    DallasEventsInc. | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. SEASON the chicken thighs with creole seasoning. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a 6-quart or larger stockpot over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage and set aside.

    2. ADD the chicken to the pot with the sausage drippings and cook over medium-high heat until brown on both sides. Remove the chicken and set aside.

    3. ADD the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and the flour, over medium heat. Cook the mixture, stirring slowly and constantly, for 10-15 minutes, or until dark brown. Be careful not to burn or scorch.

    4. ADD the onions, garlic, celery and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Slowly add the broth and stir until there are no lumps. Add the tomatoes, rice, salt, cayenne, bay leaves, thyme, and okra. Stir and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

    5. ADD the chicken and cooked sausage to the gumbo. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, plate, garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and serve with a side of rice.

     

      

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