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Archive for April 10, 2014

EASTER: A Chocolate Box Filled With Fleur De Sel Caramels

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Please, Easter Bunny, bring us one of these!
Photo courtesy Charles Chocolates.

 

Charles Chocolates of San Francisco makes some truly wonderful products. We’re gaga over the melt-in-your-mouth Orange Twigs and the Triple Chocolate Almonds.

But for Easter, we must have a Bunny Collection Edible Chocolate Box: a white chocolate box filled with classic fleur de sel and bittersweet chocolate fleur de sel chocolate-enrobed caramels. Decorated with chicks and bunnies, there’s nothing child-like about the sophisticated flavor of these confections.

Eighteen caramels in their edible box, 17 ounces of treats, $65.00. Order online.

If you don’t want the edible box, you can save a few dollars by getting the fleur de sel caramels in a regular gift box.

Ten pieces, 3.9 ounces of treats, is $24.00. Order online.

 

If you’re in San Francisco, drop by the Charles Chocolate store in the mission district, and enjoy some goodies inside or on the outdoor patio.

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Rosé Wine & The Best Rosé Tasting Ever

Quick: What’s a rosé wine?

  • It’s a type of wine that gets some of its rosy color from contact with red grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine.
  • It can be made anywhere in the world, from almost any grape (or a mix of different grapes); it can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.
  • Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet; and in styles from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California.
  • It may be the oldest style of wine, as it is the most easiest to make with the skin contact method.
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    And it’s popular.

    According to Nielsen, premium imported rosés (those priced at $12 or more per bottle) grew by 39% in volume and 48% in dollar value in 2013, capping nine straight years of double-digit growth.

    In sum, a glass of chilled rosé is now hot.

    And soon, in celebration, the world’s first large-scale rosé tasting event, La Nuit En Rosé will be held in New York City—on June 13th and 14th.

    Before then, you can set a bottle or two on your Easter table. But La Nuit En Rosé is a rosé tasting with 50 wines you won’t want to miss.

     

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    Multiply times 50: That’s how many roses you’ll be able to taste at La Nuit En Rosé (if not more!). Photo courtesy Corks and Caftans.

     

    LA NUIT EN ROSÉ: ROSE WINÉ TASTING CRUISE UP THE HUDSON RIVER
    JUNE 13th & 14th, 2014

    La Nuit En Rosé, “The Pink Night,” marks the first time a large wine event has focused exclusively on rosé. It’s a celebration of rosés from around the globe, and your opportunity to taste the different grapes and styles all in one evening—on a yacht cruise!

    There will be more than 50 wines from the world’s great wine regions.

    This tasting event will take place during an elegant yacht cruise along the Hudson River that nestles Manhattan Island. There are not only wines, but live music, optional cuisine and some of the best views Manhattan has to offer.

    There are two four-hour sessions a day, an afternoon and an evening sailing, each featuring a 90-minute cruise. The yacht departs from Pier 40 (West Street and the Hudson River).

    Just pick your day and time on Friday, June 13th or Saturday, June 14th:

  • DAY TASTING & CRUISE, 1 PM to 5 PM: Take in the summertime sun during a daytime cruise. Sip on the world’s finest rosé wines while taking in the sights of downtown New York City from the water. You can board as early as 1 and start tasting. The cruise begins at 2 p.m. and sails until 3:30 p.m.; you can then remain on board until 5, tasting and enjoying the music.
  • NIGHT TASTING & CRUISE, 7 PM to 11 PM: Prepare for an evening of wine tasting, dancing and cruising around the city. Enjoy views of the lit-up Manhattan skyline. Boarding time is 7 p.m.; the cruise begins at 8 p.m. and sails until 9:30 p.m. You can remain on board until 11.
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    TICKETS

    Tickets are $60 per person and include all of the wines and the 90-minute cruise. Buy them at NuitRose.com.

    Food vendors on board will sell cheeses, charcuterie, fresh seafood, French pastries and other snacks to pair with the wines.

    The event also features a wine competition, where distinguished judges will confer honors upon the best of the wines, and you can cast your own vote for the audience award (“people’s choice”).

    If you taste something you really like, you’ll be able to order it on board from renowned wine merchant Zachys.

    Get together a group: It should be a memorable event!

     

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    We can’t wait to taste and cruise. Photo by
    Thor | Wikimedia.

     

    HOW IS ROSÉ MADE?

    Surprise: Most wine grapes have clear juice, regardless of the skin color. The pink color in rosé—and the color of red wines—is obtained through skin contact. This means letting the crushed grape skins and fresh juice (which is called the “must”) of black-skinned grapes (a.k.a. purple or red grapes) rest together in a vat.

    The longer that the juice is left in contact with the skins (typically one to three days for rosé), the more color is extracted and the more intense the color of the final wine. When the color is the right shade for the brand, the must is then pressed and and the skins are discarded.

    The winemaker drains the juice from the skins and proceeds to make the wine in the same way most whites are made (cool fermentation and, for rosé, no oak).

    Rosé Vs. Blush Wine

    In the 1980s, American winemakers began using the term “blush wine” to sell their pink wines. The reasons:

     

  • White Zinfandel had become enormously popular (at one point it was the largest-selling wine in America), and there weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes grown to meet demand. Winemakers needed to use other grape varieties, and could no longer call the product “White Zinfandel.”
  • No one was buying, or showing an interest in, rosé at the time, while blush wines flew off of the shelves.
  • American pink wines, whether White Zin or the generic “blush,” are typically sweeter and paler than French-style rosé.

    The styles and tasting profiles of each are as varied and complex as any varietal, and richly deserve their new popularity. Get to know fifty of them this June.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Tagine

    A tagine (tah-ZHEEN) is a Moroccan stew of vegetables with meat, poultry, fish or seafood. More specifically, it’s a Berber dish from North Africa that is named after the type of earthenware pot in which it is cooked, originally over coals. (A similar dish, tavvas, is made in Cyprus.)

    There are traditional clay tagines, some so beautifully hand-painted as to double as decorative ceramics; modern tagines, such as Le Creuset enamelware; and even electric tagines for people who don’t have stoves or ovens.

    You can buy a tagine, but you can make the stew in whatever pot you have.

     
    HOW A TAGINE WORKS

    The traditional tajine pot is made of clay, which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts: a round, flat base pot with low sides and a large cone- or dome-shaped cover that covers it during cooking.

    The cover is designed to promote the return of all the liquid condensation back to the pot, allowing for a long simmer and moist chunks of meat. The stew is traditionally cooked over large bricks of charcoal that have the ability to stay hot for hours.

     

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    A modern enamelware tagine. Photo courtesy Le Creuset.

     
    Tajines can also be cooked in a conventional oven or on a stove top. For the stove top, a diffuser—a circular piece of aluminum placed between the tajine and burner—is used to evenly distribute the stove heat to permits the browning of meat and vegetables before cooking. Modern tajines made with heavy cast-iron bottoms replace them.

     

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    A traditional hand-painted tagine. You can
    buy this one online.

     

    MAKE A TAGINE

    This vegetarian tagine recipe is from FAGE Total Yogurt. You can serve it as a side or as a main dish with sliced grilled chicken, lamb or salmon.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 1 hour, 10 minutes. Serve with couscous and a crisp salad.
     
    RECIPE: MOROCCAN CHICKPEA & VEGETABLE
    TAGINE WITH YOGURT DRESSING

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, cinnamon and turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1-3/4 cup chickpeas
  • 1-3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1-1/4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup eggplant, diced
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, diced
  • 1/4 cup baby corn
  • 1/4 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1/4 cup baby carrots
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    For The Dressing

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley and coriander
  • Salt & pepper to taste
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    Preparation

    1. HEAT half of the oil in a tagine or other pan. Add onion, garlic, and spices. Fry over a low to medium heat for 5 minutes until golden.

    2. ADD the chickpeas, tomatoes and stock. Cook for 20 minutes.

    3. STIR FRY the vegetables in a separate frying pan or wok with remaining oil, and then add to the chickpea mixture.

    4. BRING to a boil, cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes.

    5. MAKE the herb yogurt dressing: Mix the yogurt, chopped parsley and coriander together. To finish, add half the yogurt, adjust seasoning to taste and serve with the rest of the yogurt on the side. NOTE: Don’t boil the stew after adding the yogurt or it may separate.

      

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    PASSOVER: Danny Macaroons

    Passover is around the corner, and macaroons are on the menu. The soft, coconut cookies are a delight year-round, but especially appreciated by Passover observers. Made of shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and egg whites—without the flour or leavening that are verboten during this holiday—they happily replace other baked sweets. (They’re gluten-free, too.)

    Dan Cohen of Danny’s Macaroons and author of The Macaroon Bible, is one of the country’s—and probably the world’s—great macaroon makers. Beyond his grandmother’s plain and chocolate dipped, he’s brought macaroons into the new flavor age.

    The cookies are made with kosher ingredients, but are not kosher for Passover. Still, those who observe the spirit of the law if not the letter of it, will enjoy every bite.

    DANNY MACAROON FLAVORS

    Just take a look at these choices:

     

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    Get the book and bake your own! Photo courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  • Amarena Cherry, topped with an semi-candied cherry
  • Baileys McRoons
  • Bourbon
  • Black Chocolate Stout
  • Chocolate Almond
  • Chocolate Banana Nut
  • Chocolate Caramel
  • Chocolate Dipped
  • Chocolate Malted
  • Guava
  • Jamstand Surprise with spicy raspberry jalapeño jam
  • Maple Pecan Pie
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • Plain Coconut
  • Red Velvet
  • Rice Pudding
  • Spiced Pumpkin
  • Stoopid, coconut macaroons are filled with potato chips, pretzels and pieces of Butterfinger, then drizzled with dark chocolate (how this relates to stupid, we can’t say)
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    Get yours at DannyMacaroons.com.

     

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    How many flavors do we want? All of them!
    Photo courtesy Southport Grocery.

     

    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    “Macaroon” means different things to different people. To some, it’s a big ball of coconut, to others, a delicate, airy meringue. Both are delicious and neither is made with flour, making them options for gluten-free observers and for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

    The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s Amaretti di Saronno, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.

    Macaroons traveled to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II. Two Benedictine nuns, Sister Marguerite and Sister Marie-Elisabeth, seeking asylum in the town of Nancy during the French Revolution (1789-1799), paid for their housing by baking and selling the macaroon cookies, and thus became known as the “Macaroon Sisters” (the French word is macaron, pronounced mah-kah-RONE).

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it has no flour or leavening, the agent that raises and lightens a baked good, such as baking powder and baking soda (instead, macaroons are leavened by egg whites).

     

    The recipe was introduced to other European Jews and became popular for Passover as well as a year-round sweet.Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds in Jewish macaroons, and, in certain recipes, completely replaced them.

    Coconut macaroons are more prevalent in the U.S. and the U.K.—and they’re a lot easier to make and transport than the fragile almond meringues that became the norm in France.

    Here’s more macaroon history.

      

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