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Archive for March 29, 2015

FOOD FUN: Peeps Cocktail

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A Peeps cocktail for Easter. Photo courtesy
XBar | Hyatt Regency | Los Angeles.

 

This idea came to us from X Bar at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Los Angeles.

They use a Pink Lady cocktail, but you can use other pink cocktail recipes, including two different pink Martinis.

The first step is to make the special “Easter grass” rim. It combines lime zest with the sugar for a textured “grass.”

Alternatively, you can buy green sanding sugar, which is available in both emerald green and pastel green.
 
RECIPE: COLORED SUGAR RIM

Ingredients

  • Table sugar
  • Green food color
  • Lime zest
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the sugar in a plastic sandwich bag or quart bag with a drop of food coloring. Shake well to infuse the color. Add more color (green or yellow) as required to reach the desired hue. (Color the sugar lighter shade of green than the lime zest.)

    2. ALLOW the sugar mixture to air dry. Spread it on a paper towel or a plate. When ready to make the sugar rim…

    3. GRATE the lime zest and mix it 50:50 or as desired with the green sugar. Place on a plate.

    4. DIP the rim of a Martini glass or sherbet champagne glass 1/4-inch deep in a shallow bowl of water. Remove, shake to eliminate drips and place in the sugar mix, twisting the glass to coat the rim.
     
    RECIPE: PINK LADY COCKTAIL ~ EASTER VERSION

    The Pink Lady is a classic gin-based cocktail that may have been named after a 1911 musical of the same name. The pale pink color comes from grenadine; the foamy top is created by an egg white.

    A favorite of society ladies of the 1930s, the drink was widely known during Prohibition (1920-1933) but fell out of favor in the 1960s. One theory is that the [typically male] journalists who wrote about cocktails and the [typically male] bartenders who mixed them had little interest in pink, “girly” drinks.

    The original recipe had only three ingredients—gin, grenadine and egg white—shaken and strained into a glass. Over time, some versions added lemon juice, applejack (apple brandy) and even cream (which could be substituted for the egg white or used in addition to it). Here’s more Pink Lady history.

    We’re opting for the version with apple brandy, for more flavor. If you don’t have apple brandy, you can substitute apple schnapps (apple liqueur), which Appletini lovers will have on hand.

    If you don’t want to use any apple brandy, make the cocktail with two ounces of gin. If you don’t want to use an egg white, use heavy cream (but don’t use lemon juice—it will curdle the cream).

     

    The classic recipe uses a maraschino cherry for garnish, but for our Easter cocktail, the cherry gets replaced by a pink Peep.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce applejack, Calvados, other apple brandy or apple schnapps
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 2 dashes grenadine or more to desired color
  • 1 egg white or 1/2 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 cup crushed ice or ice cubes
  • Easter garnish: 1 pink Peeps chick
  • Optional side: miniature jelly beans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until everything is mixed well (the shaker should be frosted over). Strain into a rimmed Martini glass.

     

    PomBlush-pomwonderful-230

    Shake the cocktail vigorously so the egg white foams into a creamy top. Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     
    2. SLICE a notch into the bottom of the Peeps chick. Place on the rim of the glass.

    3. SERVE with a shot glass or ramekin of miniature jelly beans.

      

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    PASSOVER: Delicious Nut Flours You Can Eat

    almond-flour-bobs2-230

    Gluten-free almond flour. Photo courtesy
    Bob’s Red Mill.

     

    Gluten free pioneer and whole grains leader, Bob’s Red Mill, offers delicious recipes for Passover using the company’s gluten-free Natural Almond Meal and Natural Coconut Flour.

    Nut flours have long been a gluten-free salvation as well as a Passover alternative, and these organic flours will also be welcomed by those looking for lower-carb or Paleo Diet alternatives.

    ALMOND MEAL/ALMOND FLOUR

    Almond meal is ground from whole, blanched sweet almonds. The nuts are also very low in carbohydrates and very nutritious. Bob’s suggests that you harness the nutrition by replacing 25% of the flour in your conventional baking recipes with almond meal. It will add wonderful texture and flavor while reducing the total carbohydrates. Here’s more information.

    COCONUT FLOUR

    Coconut flour is another delicious, healthful alternative to wheat and other grain flours. Ground from dried, defatted coconut meat, the unsweetened flour is high in fiber and low in digestible carbohydrates.

     
    The light coconut flavor blends seamlessly into sweet or savory baked goods. Use it instead of cornmeal to coat chicken, fish or other proteins. Here’s more information.

    Check out Bob’s organic nut flours, including hazelnut flour, at BobsRedMill.com. All are produced in a gluten-free facility. (Note that they are not certified kosher for Passover.)

    RECIPE: GLUTEN-FREE ALMOND PANCAKES

    Ingredients For 10 Pancakes

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (from approximately 2 medium bananas)
  • 3 eggs
  • Garnish: maple syrup, sliced bananas
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a skillet to medium heat (350°F). In a small bowl, combine almond meal, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

    2. WHISK together the mashed bananas and eggs in a separate large bowl, until thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

    3. LADLE 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto the preheated skillet. Cook for about 4 minutes and then flip, cooking an additional 4-5 minutes until no longer wet in the center. Serve immediately with maple syrup and sliced bananas.

     

    RECIPE: GLUTEN-FREE ALMOND CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

    Ingredients For 25-30 Cookies

  • 3 cups almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda/li>
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup voconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds*
  •  

    coconut-flour-bobsredmill-230

    Gluten-free coconut flour. Photo courtesy Bob’s Red Mill.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the almond meal, baking soda and salt and set aside.

    2. MIX the coconut oil and maple syrup in a mixer or by hand until creamy but not fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. Add the whole egg, egg whites and extracts and mix for 2 additional minutes. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and mix briefly.

    3. ADD the chocolate chips and toasted almonds and mix until well combined. Place large rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Flatten slightly, to approximately 1-inch thickness. Bake until set and golden, about 15 minutes.
     
    *To toast the almonds, spread in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast in a 375°F oven for 7-10 minutes, stirring at least twice during baking for even browning.

     
    DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALMOND FLOUR & ALMOND MEAL

    Ground almonds—also known as almond meal or almond flour, are commonly used in baked goods and in breading of proteins, in place of, or in addition to, bread crumbs. Sometimes “almond meal” is called for, sometimes “almond flour.” What’s the difference?

    Both consist of finely ground almonds, and there is no official difference between them. The terms are used interchangeably.

    However, be aware of these differences, depending on the manufacturer:

  • Almond flour is often much more finely ground than almond meal; the flour also has a more uniform consistency.
  • Almond meal can be blanched (skins removed) or unblanched, while most products labeled almond flour are blanched.
  •  
    For most recipes you can use either. However, some recipes, such as French macarons, require the finest almond flour to get the smoothest finish on the cookies. For breading, almond meal provides a bit more texture.
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Hot Cross Buns For Easter

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    Homemade hot cross buns. Photo courtesy
    Hot Bread Kitchen.

     

    With Easter a week away, you can start baking the seasonal treat, hot cross buns.

    The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” appears in 1733. A sweet yeast bun made with raisins or currants, the cross on top was originally made with knife cuts in the dough. Over time, icing was piped over the cuts.

    The cross symbolizes the crucifixion, and the buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. Actually, they are believed to predate Christianity: Similar buns were eaten by Saxons in to honor Eostre, the goddess of spring.

    In their ancient pagan culture, the cross is believed to have symbolized the four quarters of the moon. Eostre is probably the origin of “Easter.” Many pagan holidays were ported into Christianity in its early days, to encourage pagans to convert to the new faith.

    You don’t have to wait for Good Friday to enjoy hot cross buns. They’re too delicious to save for one day of the year. While Good Friday—this year, April 3rd—is National Hot Cross Bun Day, we’re giving you the heads up.

    If you don’t celebrate Easter, go back to the roots of this recipe and celebrate spring!

    This recipe, from the California Raisin Marketing Board, adds a twist to the traditional recipe: The icing is flavored with lemon, adding a tart counterpoint to the straight sweetness.

    RECIPE: HOT CROSS BUNS

    Ingredients For 18 Buns

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°F to 115°F)
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins or Zante currants
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten and diluted with 1 teaspoon water
  • Lemon icing (recipe below)
  •  
    For The Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon water
  •  

    Preparation

    1. SCALD the milk, stir in the butter and cool the mixture to lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in warm water.

    2. SIFT together the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in the raisins until well coated. Stir in the eggs and the cooled milk and yeast; blend well.

    3. TURN the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.

    4. PUNCH down the dough, pinch off pieces and form smooth, round balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Place the balls of dough on a greased baking sheet about 2-inches apart. Brush each bun with the diluted egg yolk. Cut a 1/2-inch deep cross in the center of each bun with a greased scissors. Let the buns rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.

    5. BAKE for 8 to 10 minutes or until the buns look lightly browned. Cool on wire racks, about 5 minutes.

    6. MAKE the icing: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. Pipe the icing to make a cross on each bun.

     

    Hot Cross Buns

    If you want to enjoy the hot cross buns as toast, leave off the icing. Photo © Woodsy | Fotolia.

     

      

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