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Archive for March 13, 2015

ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Irish Coffee Shots

Each year we present Irish coffee recipes for St. Patrick’s Day. Here they are:

  • The history of Irish coffee and the original recipe
  • Irish coffee recipe variations
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    But for something different this year, we like these Irish coffee “shots.”

    Traditional Irish coffee combines whiskey, brown sugar, black coffee and heavy cream. In these shots, coffee liqueur substitutes for the coffee and sugar, and Irish cream liqueur takes the place of the whiskey and cream.

    It looks like a tiny Guinness!

    RECIPE: IRISH COFFEE SHOTS

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2-1/2 ounces coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 ounces Irish cream liqueur
  •  

    irish-coffee-shot-goodcocktails-230

    Food fun: Irish coffee shots. Photo courtesy GoodCocktails.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. POUR the coffee liqueur into a shot glass. Layer the Irish cream on top.

    It’s that easy! You don’t even have to brew coffee!

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Green Velvet Cupcakes

    Easy-Green-Velvet-Cupcakes-mccormick-ps-230

    St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.

     

    The popularity of red velvet cake has opened the doors for other brightly-colored cakes. Duncan Hines even has a seasonal line of “Velvet” mixes: Spring Velvets (pink and yellow layers), Summer Velvets (blue and red layers with white frosting for July 4th), Autumn Velvets (orange and brown layers) and Holiday Velvets (red and green layers).

    But in this easy recipe for Green Velvet Cupcakes, German chocolate cake mix is used, along with an entire bottle of green food color. You can leave the frosting vanilla-flavored or add mint extract. You can leave the frosting white or tint it green.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes. Don’t forget that you’ll need two 12-well muffin tins and paper liners! These shamrock cupcake liners have free standard shipping.

    RECIPE: GREEN VELVET CUPCAKES

    A green twist on classic red velvet, these cupcakes are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, with a delicious cream cheese frosting.

     
    Ingredients For 24 Servings

  • 1 package (2-layer size) German chocolate cake mix with pudding (e.g. Betty Crocker’s)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bottle green food color
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •  

    For The Frosting

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 box (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon green food color
  • Decorations: green sprinkles, sanding sugar or confetti shamrocks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Beat the cake mix, sour cream, water, cocoa powder, oil, food color, eggs and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed, just until moistened, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

    2. POUR the batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

     

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    You’ll need one bottle for the cupcakes, plus more if you want to tint the frosting green. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    3. COOL in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans; cool completely on wire rack.

    4. MAKE the cream cheese frosting. Beat the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add optional mint extract and green food color. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Makes 2-1/2 cups.

    5. FROST the cooled cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Arugula Pizza

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    Arugula pizza, here shown with pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese. Photo courtesy SXC.

     

    Last week we finally made it across town to a pizza café we’ve been yearning to try. It’s called Farinella Bakery. What they bake are the most heavenly pizzas and calzones.

    We haven’t yet tried the calzones yet; there are too many great pizza toppings to work our way through. In the glass case in front of us were some 20 different gourmet pizzas by the slice, on the thinnest, cut on rectangles, with crispest crust we’ve had in memory.

    We chose three of the slices, starting with Tartuffo (sliced sautéed mushrooms atop a mushroom-ricotta paste, drizzled with truffle oil) and V.I.P (artichoke heart pesto, fresh mint, pecorino romano, goat cheese and black pepper. Both were as delicious as we’d hoped.

    But our third slice, Filetto, blew us away. What a simple yet divine concept: fresh cherry tomato filets (an Italian reference to roasted cherry tomatoes) and mozzarella, garnished with fresh arugula.

    Not just a few leaves, mind you, but a thorough carpeting of fresh, peppery, bright green arugula. It will be hard to return to Farinella without adding a slice of it to our order.

     

    For St. Patrick’s Day lunch, we’ll be making our own version of arugula pizza. While arugula is a popular ingredient in Italy (where it’s called rucola), for St. Pat’s you can call it fusion food, taking inspiration from the Emerald Isle.

    No matter what you choose, you’re in for a treat.

     

    ARUGULA PIZZA VARIATIONS

    We’ll be trying some variations of Farinella’s simple yet elegant recipe.

  • Salty is a good counterpoint to the pepperiness of the arugula, so we’ll add anchovies or sardines to one side of our pizza, and prosciutto or serrano ham to the other.
  • If you like heat, sprinkle with chili flakes or minced or sliced jalapeño.
  • If you want more cheese, consider a garnish of crumbled blue, feta or goat cheese, or shaved Parmesan.
  • You can also add a garnish of pine nuts (pignoli in Italian).
  • It you’d like more seasoning, get out the oregano.
  • Down the road, we’ll try a blend of fresh basil and arugula.
  •  
    We’ll never be able to turn out a brilliant crust like the masters at Farinella, but we can guarantee: There won’t be a crumb left over.

    You don’t have to wait for St. Patrick’s Day to head to the store for arugula, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and a pizza crust.

     

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    Fresh-picked arugula. Try growing it in your garden! Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     
    THE HISTORY OF ARUGULA

    Arugula, botanical name Eruca sativa, is a member of the Brassicaceae family of great-for-you cruciferous vegetables. It’s called rocket in the U.K. and rucola in Italy, its home turf.

    A pungent, peppery, leafy green vegetable resembling a longer-leafed, open lettuce, arugula is rich in vitamin C and potassium. The leaves, flowers, young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible.

    Used as an edible herb in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, it was gathered wild or grown in home gardens along with other staples like basil and parsley.

     
    ARUGULA SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • In Italy, raw arugula is often added to pizzas just before the baking period ends or immediately after as a garnish, so that it won’t wilt from the heat.
  • It’s chopped and added to sauces and cooked dishes, or made directly into a sauce by frying it in olive oil and garlic. It is also used a condiment for cold meats and fish (substitute it for parsley in a gremolata).
  • In the Puglia region of Southern Italy, the pasta dish cavatiéddi combines copious amounts of coarsely chopped arugula with tomato sauce and grated pecorino cheese.
  • Add chopped arugula parsley-style to boiled potatoes, as they do in Slovenia.
  • For an appetizer or lunch main, serve the Italian dish straccietti, thin slices of beef with raw arugula and parmesan cheese.
  • Enjoy arugula raw in salads, as part of a mesclun mix or with perlini (small mozzarella balls) and fresh or sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Use it instead of lettuce on a sandwich.
  • Cook it in an omelet, with or without your favorite cheese.
  •  
    There are many other ways to serve arugula, raw or cooked. Feel free to add your favorites.
     
    Food trivia: Arugula was mentioned by classical authors, including Virgil, as an aphrodisiac. For that reason, it was often mixed with lettuce, which was thought to have a calming influence (source).

    Here’s the history of pizza.

      

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