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Archive for August, 2014

TIP: 13 Ways To Use Spinach Dip Or Spread

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What do you like to do with spinach dip?
Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

 

Many people enjoy spinach dip; they just don’t enjoy it often enough.

Recipes vary greatly (here’s a super-rich spinach-mascarpone dip). Zabar’s, the famed food emporium in New York City, is known for its vegan spinach-arugula spread, a garlicky spinach dip variation with peppery arugula punch, made with Tofutti instead of a dairy product. The ingredients are spinach, arugula, Tofutti, pesto, caramelized onions, roasted garlic, salt and pepper.

Zabar’s chefs recommend it to liven up favorite comfort foods, weeknight dinners and entertaining staples. You can use your favorite spinach dip variation, based on using cream cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt or a combination.

Then, use it in any of these 13 ways:

1. Stir spinach dip into macaroni and cheese for extra color and flavor.

2. Spread it onto split French or Italian bread loaves, cover with minced garlic mixed with a little olive oil and broil, for a twist on garlic bread.

3. Mix with boiled halved or quartered potatoes and scallions for zesty potato salad.

 

4. Use instead of mayo on a BLT or other sandwich.

5. Use instead of mayo in chicken, egg, tuna, salmon or pasta salad for pumped-up flavor.

6. Mix into mashed potatoes.

 

7. Spread on sliced, toasted bread or crostini and serve as appetizers or with a salad.

8. Spread on crostini, cover with Gruyère or other melting cheese and broil\; then float the crostini in your favorite soup.

9. Use instead of cream cheese on a bagel with lox.

10. Fill an omelet.

11. Mix with low-fat plain Greek yogurt for a healthy crudité or chip dip.

12. Mix with ricotta for a lasagna filling.

13. Add to a baked potato instead of butter or sour cream.
 
Would you like to add a tip or two to this list? Let us know.

 

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Spinach dip spread on crostini. Photo courtesy Zabars.com.

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Seasonal Cider

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Get it before it disappears from the shelves.
Photo courtesy Angry Orchard Cider
Company.

 

This may well be your last weekend to pick up seasonal summer hard ciders, before producers replace them with fall blends.

We received a shipment of Angry Orchard Elderflower Hard Cider, and have been saving it to serve this weekend.

Elderflower is a flower that in homeopathy as well as in cooking. The white berries are used to flavor jam and other cooked fruit; the tiny white flower blossoms are distilled into liqueur (elderflower cordial was enjoyed in ancient Rome), which in turn can be added to recipes.

We love the flavor of elderflower, which reminds us of lychee. St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur is a favorite that we like to serve to guests, especially mixed with sparkling wine.

Now, for the first time, elderflower been added to cider, by Angry Orchard.
 
*ABV means alcohol by volume.

 
The cider is made with a combination of domestic bittersweet and culinary apples†. The apples are shredded and the pulp is pressed into juice. Wine yeast is added and the juice is fermented, then wood aged. Elderflower and other natural flavors are added before bottling.

The finished product is pale yellow and 5% ABV*. Open the bottle and an apple aroma wafts up, along with elderflower floral.

Light and refreshing, the flavors of crisp apple marry with the elderflower to produce semi-dry sweetness with a bit of tartness. The cider pairs nicely with smoked salmon, braised pork and a fresh berry dessert.

You can also mix it into cocktails. Here are two from Hayley Jensen, a mixologist at Taproom No. 307 in New York City,

 
†Bittersweet apples are not edible, but do very nicely when fermented into cider. Culinary apples are the varieties we eat.

 

RECIPE: ORCHARD SPRITZER

This drink is versatile: You can kick it up a notch with two ounces of any white liquor: cachaça, gin, rum, tequila or vodka.

Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 ounces lychee juice/purée
  • 4 ounces Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider
  • Optional: 2 shots white spirit
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR both over ice into a pint glass. Stir and serve.
     
    RECIPE: ANGRY ELDERBERRY MOJITO

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 4 blueberries
  • 4 mint leaves, plus more for optional garnish
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 ounce white rum
  • 6 ounces (1/2 bottle) Angry Orchard Elderflower Cider
  • 4 slices strawberry
  •  

    rosy-cooler-cocktail-230

    Mix up a beertail or a cocktail. Photo courtesy Angry Orchard Cider Company.

     

    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE berries and mint in a pint glass. Fill glass with ice. Add rum and cider.

    2. POUR into mixing cup and stir. Pour back into pint glass and garnish with strawberry and mint leaves.

      

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    RECIPE: Grilled Tropical Fruit Skewers

    Here’s something special for Labor Day weekend: Turn grilled fruit into tropical fruit skewers. Thanks to Melissas.com, purveyors of premium produce, for the recipe.

    We’ve also got dessert shots to go with the fruit: delicious coconut- or banana-flavored rum from Blue Chair Bay.

    RECIPE: GRILLED TROPICAL FRUIT SKEWERS

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large ripe papaya, peeled seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 firm ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1 inch rounds
  • Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons dried coconut chips
  •  

    mango-papaya-kabobs-melissas-230

    Grilled fruit skewers topped with coconut chips. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

     
    Variation: Pineapple is also a tropical fruit. Feel free to add some.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the brown sugar, orange juice and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add the cubes of mango, papaya and bananas, tossing gently to coat thoroughly.

    2. THREAD the fruit onto skewers alternating the fruits.

    3. GRILL over a medium hot barbeque or hibachi for approximately 4-5 minutes per side. You can also use a grill pan or broiler. Be sure to watch closely so the fruit does not burn.

    4. REMOVE to a serving plate and sprinkle with shredded coconut.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavored Shots

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    Delicious by the shot: No mixers needed!
    Photo courtesy Blue Chair Bay Rum.

     

    While spiced rum has been around since the 1940s*, the more modern trend of flavored spirits began with vodka in the 1980s.

    The first flavored vodka, that inspired scores of other flavors, was Absolut Peppar, in 1986. Absolut Citron followed in 1988, and then the floodgates opened as Stolichnaya and other brands created their own versions. Absolut has launched 17 different flavors†; and newer brands like Pinnacle, Three Olives and Van Gogh focus only on flavored vodkas.

    Flavored tequilas arrived more quietly—first chile and coffee flavors and now, vodka-style, they’re branching out to fruit (we’re fond of El Jimador’s new Mango Mango and Mexican Lime).

    While the distillers of these flavored spirits provide plenty of cocktail recipes and expect bloggers and mixologists to develop many more, the plain truth is that they are delicious as shots.

    So today’s tip is: Enjoy flavored shots as you relax over the weekend (in moderation, of course).

    This weekend, we’ll be serving two tropical flavors from Blue Chair Bay, a brand created by singer Kenny Chesney. The line has four expressions: Banana Rum, Coconut Rum, Coconut Spiced Rum and White Rum (plain).

     
    At 53 proof (as opposed to 80 proof or higher with conventional rum and other spirits), Blue Chair Bay Rum is made for sipping straight. All three flavors are delicious, but as an avid fan of the Piña Colada, the Banana Rum captured our fantasy. It’s rum with caramelized banana flavor, but you’ll also find hints of coconut and plenty of sweetness.

     
    *The Levy brothers, pharmacists in Kingston, Jamaica, created the original recipe for aged spiced rum in the 1940s. The brand was purchased by Seagram’s (now Diageo) and marketed as Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. The spices include cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. The original Levy recipe also included medicinal herbs.

    †Absolut flavors, in order of launch: Peppar, Citron, Kurant, Mandrin, Vanilia, Raspberri, Apeach, Ruby Red, Pears, Mango, Berry Açaí, Wild Tea, Orient Apple, Grapevine, Cherrykran, Hibiskus and Cilantro. Note that flavored vodkas have been home-infused in Russia and elsewhere for centuries; but Absolut was the first flavored vodka sold commercially in the U.S.

     

    IF YOU REALLY WANT A COCKTAIL…

    Blue Chair Bay enlisted the help of selected bloggers to create recipes, which they sent to us along with a sample of the rum.

    This ice cream cocktail, from The Blond Cook, can substitute for dessert:

    RECIPE: SPICED BANANA CREAM COCKTAIL, A DESSERT
    COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 4 Drinks

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into about 1″ chunks
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut (e.g. Coco Lopez)
  • 1 cup Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum
  • Optional garnish: banana chips or flaked/shaved coconut
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

    2. GARNISH and serve with a straw.

     

    spiced-banana-cream-theblondcoook-230

    Enjoy this one for dessert. Photo courtesy TheBlondCook.com.

     
    If you’d like some chocolate in your cocktail, try this one from ThePinkFlour.com:

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BANANA COCONUT COLADA

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 1/2 cup chocolate milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  • 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup
  • Optional: chocolate cookies on the side
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour and serve. For dessert, serve with chocolate cookies.
     
     
    Here’s something very creamy from ANightOwlBlog.com. Note that while it’s called a Martini, there’s nothing Martini about it (serving something in a Martini glass does not a Martini make).

    RECIPE: COCONUT CREAM MARTINI

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • 2 ounce half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • Optional rim garnish: honey and coconut flakes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the rum, half and half and vanilla over ice in a shaker; shake to blend.

    2. DIP the rim of the Martini glass in honey and then in coconut flakes for garnish. Add rum blend and serve.
     
    You can find more delicious recipes at BlueChairBayRum.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Russian Iced Coffee

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    In a tall glass or a short one, iced coffee
    lovers will get a kick from this drink. Photo
    courtesy DeLonghi.

     

    For years, we’ve enjoyed Black Russians and White Russians, two venerable vodka-based cocktails. The Black Russian, invented in 1949, combines vodka and coffee liqueur; the subsequent addition of cream created a White Russian.

    Neither cocktail recipe is Russian in origin; the name is an homage to the vodka. Both recipes are below.

    Only recently did we come across this iced coffee version, courtesy of DeLonghi, producer of fine espresso machines.

    To beat the heat, have an iced coffee. To make the day happier, make Russian iced coffee, with a shot of vodka. If you’re not keen on espresso, use regular coffee.

    RECIPE: RUSSIAN ICED COFFEE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce/30 ml espresso coffee
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1 shot vodka
  • Crushed ice
  • Light cream or half and half to taste
  • Optional garnish: sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg, or go over the top with whipped cream
  •  

    You can also use:

  • Coffee-flavored vodka, such as Van Gogh’s Espresso and Double Espresso Vodkas
  • Coffee-flavored tequila, such as Avion Espresso or Patron XO Café
  • Coffee liqueur, like Kahlùa or Tia Maria
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the espresso coffee. Add the sugar and the vodka.

    2. POUR into a glass of crushed ice. Add the cream and stir.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

     

    RECIPE: BLACK RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 once coffee liqueur
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.

    2. For a sweeter drink, add more coffee liqueur.
     

    RECIPE: WHITE RUSSIAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 once coffee liqueur
  • Heavy cream
  • Ice
  •  

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    A White Russian cocktail. Photo courtesy Kahlùa.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into an old fashioned glass filled with fresh ice.

    2. TOP with a large splash of heavy cream and stir.

      

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