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Archive for October 15, 2014

HALLOWEEN: Trick Or Treat With Pumpkin Brownies

It will be a ghoulishly delightful change this Halloween when you serve Fairytale Brownies’ new Halloween brownies in Pumpkin Spice, with a Halloween label that features jack-o-lanterns and bats.

Perfect for party favors, the individually wrapped, 3” x 3” dark chocolate brownies are also sold in bulk by the dozen, if you want to present them on a dessert tray or plate them individually (perhaps as the base of a brownie sundae, with pumpkin ice cream?).

Treat your friends, treat your co-workers, and let these delicious brownies melt in your mouth. Like all Fairytale Brownies, they are made with Callebaut Belgian chocolate, alfarm fresh eggs, pure creamery butter and dark brown sugar. Then, sweet pumpkin purée is blended with cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger, and swirled into the brownie batter.

And although religious Jews don’t celebrate Halloween, the Fairytale line is certified kosher (dairy) by the Greater Phoenix Vaad Hakashruth.

   

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Trick or treat! These Pumpkin Spice Brownies are definitely a treat. Photo courtesy Fairytale Brownies.

 

 

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Pumpkin Spice Brownies in a gift box have a
plain cellophane wrap. Photo courtesy
Fairytale Brownies.

 

HOLIDAY GIFTS: THANKSGIVING & CHRISTMAS

For Thanksgiving treats, hostess gifts and holiday gift giving, the Pumpkin Spice Brownies are available in a plain cellophane wrap, in a gift box. You can choose all Pumpkin Spice Brownies, or a combination box with Chocolate Chip Brownies.

The Pumpkin Spice Brownies are limited edition, available only through December 31, 2014. But if you can’t live without them, they do freeze beautifully.

Get yours at Brownies.com.

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Stone Crab

Our friends at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City remind us that stone crab is now in season. Florida stone crabs are legal for harvest from October 15th through May 15th. Frozen stone crab is available year-round, but the true palate pleaser is the fresh crab.

The stone crab (Menippe mercenaria), also known as the Florida stone crab, lives in the western North Atlantic, from Connecticut down to Belize; and the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico.

The stone crab is a cousin of the Maryland blue crab (Callinectes sapidus, also known as the blue crab, Atlantic blue crab or Chesapeake blue crab) and the Gulf stone crab (Menippe adina), a closely related species. It tastes like a cross between the blue crab and the Maine lobster—less definitive than lobster but more so than crab.

The body is relatively small without much meat; the part that is eaten is the big, meaty claw, which is very distinctive in appearance with black tips. When harvesting, one or both claws are removed on the boat and the live crab is returning to the ocean, where it will regenerate its claws.

Sustainability-oriented fishermen remove only one claw, so the crab can protect itself while the other regenerates. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch has given the Florida stone crab industry its highest rating of “Best Choice,” for maintaining high fishing standards and working hard to keep the stone crab population viable.

The claws are strong enough to break an oyster’s shell—like us, stone crabs love to eat oysters. Claws are sold by size, generally in four sizes: medium, large, jumbo, and colossal.

   

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A stone crab claw. Photo courtesy Fruge Seafood.

 

RECIPE: STONE CRAB CLAWS

The easiest way to serve stone crab claws is to boil them, and serve them hot or chilled with melted butter or other sauce (the two most popular are mustard sauce and remoulade sauce).

What looks like a very impressive dish couldn’t be easier to make. The difficult part comes when the diners have to extract the meat from the shell—you may have heard of the “Maryland crab bash,” where diners get a bib and a hammer. Or, you can remove the shells yourself, prior to serving (instructions are below).

Note that there is a hard center membrane inside the meat, so take care if biting into what looks like a large lump of meat. It’s better to pull the meat off with a fork.

 

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Ready to dip and eat. Photo courtesy
UberStoneCrabs.com.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds stone crab claws per person
  • 1/4 stick butter per person
  • Lemon or lime wedges
  • Optional garnish: dill or parsley
  •  
    Serve With

  • Cole slaw
  • Mixed green salad
  • Mixed vegetables: Brussels sprouts, carrots, other favorites
  • Garlic bread
  •  
    Optional Dips

  • Compound butter: chipotle, olive, red pepper, shallot herb, etc. (recipes)
  • Mustard sauce (recipe)
  • Remoulade sauce (recipe)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRING a pot of 12 cups of water, plus a teaspoon of salt, to a rapid boil; remove from the heat. When the water stops bubbling, place the crab claws in the water for about five minutes. Do not submerge the claws into the rapidly boiling water, as they can toughen.

    2. DRAIN the crab claws into a colander (warning: the claws and water will be very hot) and rinse under cold water to make them easier to handle.

    3. PREPARE the dip. The easiest is to combining 4 tablespoons of butter with minced garlic and salt or other seasoning of choice (for example, Old Bay Seasoning). Microwave butter mixture until melted, about 90 seconds (time will vary by microwave).

    4. SERVE with melted butter and wedges of lemon.
     
    How To Crack The Crab Claws

    1. PLACE the claw on a cutting board or other hard surface. Then, place a plastic bag over the claw to prevent the juices from splattering.

    2. USE a mallet or hammer (cleaned, of course!) and lightly crack the claw in the first and second knuckles; then crack slightly harder in the center of the claw.

    3. PEEL the shell from the claw and then separate the two knuckles from the main pincher. Serve with sauce and citrus wedges.

    NOTE: Crack only as many as claws as you plan to eat at one meal. Once cracked, the claw meat will not hold up well for a long period of time.

     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CRAB: A CRAB MEAT GLOSSARY

      

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    HALLOWEEN: Cinnamon Vodka Punch

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    Cinnamon evokes fall and Halloween. Photo
    courtesy Belvedere Vodka.

     

    If you’re looking to fill the punch bowl on Halloween, here’s a recipe from Belvedere Vodka. You can make the cinnamon simple syrup in advance.

    RECIPE: CINNAMON VODKA PUNCH

    Ingredients

  • 7 ounces vodka
  • 3 ounces cinnamon simple syrup
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 5.5 ounces pink grapefruit juice
  • 16 ounces cranberry juice
  • 1 ounces lemon juice
  • Garnish: slices of orange (ideally, blood orange) and
    pink grapefruit
  • Ice cubes or block of ice*
  •  
    *The larger the pieces of ice, the slower they will melt and dilute the punch. Instead of ice cubes, you can freeze a block of ice in a small cake pan or other container. We use a star-shaped gelatin mold.
     

    Preparation

    1. ADD punch ingredients except garnishes to a punch bowl. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    2. ADD ice and garnishes when ready to serve.
     
    RECIPE: CINNAMON SIMPLE SYRUP

    Ingredients

  • 16 ounces water
  • 16 ounces white sugar
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIMMER the ingredients for approximately 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve and funnel into a glass bottle.

    2. REFRIGERATE until ready to use.

     
      

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    HALLOWEEN: Jackson Pollack Style & Other Chocolate Candy Apples

    You can make candy apples the traditional way or you can cook to the tune of a different drummer. In this recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, melted chocolate is dripped on the apple in a Jackson Pollack approach.

    Green Granny Smiths go well with the sweet white and bittersweet chocolates and provide a better backdrop for the squiggles than darker red apples, but use any apple you like.

    By drizzling the chocolate instead of enrobing the entire apple in a red sugar or caramel coating, these are “candy apples light.”

    You can add colors by tinting the white chocolate orange, and add more layers of tinted color—red and yellow, for example. Just load up on the white chocolate.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE-DRIZZLED CANDY APPLES

    Ingredients For 6 Candy Apples

  • 6 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2-1/2 ounces premium white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Wooden sticks (from the craft store or online—or use forks!
  •    

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    Drip the chocolate, Jackson Pollack style. Photo © Randy Mayor | Cooking Light.

     

    Preparation

    1. WASH and dry the apples; remove stems. Insert a wooden stick into the stem end of each apple.

    2. PLACE the bittersweet chocolate in a glass bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring every 20 seconds until smooth. Working with 1 apple at a time, hold the apple over a bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle the apple with about 2 teaspoons bittersweet chocolate. Place the apple, stick side up, on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Repeat the procedure with the remaining apples.

    3. PLACE the white chocolate in a glass bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until melted, stirring every 15 seconds until smooth. Working with 1 apple at a time, hold the apple over a bowl. Using a spoon, drizzle the apple with about 1-1/2 teaspoons white chocolate. Place the apple, stick side up, on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Repeat procedure with remaining apples.

    4. CHILL the apples until ready to serve.

     

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    More ways to decorate apples with chocolate.
    Photo courtesy MyRecipes.com.

     

    MORE CANDY APPLE RECIPES

  • Traditional Candy Apple Recipe
  • Sugar-Free Candy Apple Recipe
  •  
    CANDY APPLES HISTORY

    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) probably date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century. Inexpensive toffee and caramels became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence confirms soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

     

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner.

    Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born. The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.

      

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