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Archive for April, 2015

RECIPE: Chipotle Meatballs

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, how about Mexican-style meatballs?

Meatballs in Chipotle Chile Sauce with Wisconsin Queso Fresco Cheese. Make them small for an appetizer, or bigger for a main course. Serve them with rice and pinto or black beans; or make a Cinco de Mayo meatball sub.

This recipe serves four 4 as main course, 10-12 as appetizers.

RECIPE: MEATBALLS IN CHIPOTLE CHILE SAUCE

Ingredients

For The Meatballs

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 cup Wisconsin Cotija or Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/2 large white onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  •    

    chipotle-meatballs-wmmb-230

    Chipotle meatballs. Photo courtesy WisDairy.com.

  • 2 slices coarse white bread, crust removed and soaked in 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For The Sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) chipotle salsa
  • 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 sprig mint (or pinch ground dried mint)
  • 1 cup queso fresco cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Garnish: cilantro, mint and queso fresco, as desired.
  •  

    queso-fresco-cut-230

    Queso fresco, made in Wisconsin—America’s largest cheese-producing state. Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the meatball ingredients in bowl, using your hands. Refrigerate for one hour.

    2. SHAPE the meatballs in the desired size: larger for main course, smaller for appetizer.

    3. MAKE the sauce: Add the cinnamon to the chile salsa. Heat oil until quite hot (but not smoking) in a heavy, deep skillet. Add the salsa and “fry” until thick (it will splatter; consider a splatter screen).

    4. ADD the broth and bring to boil. Stir in the mint. Add the meatballs. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until meatballs are done.

    5. GARNISH each serving with crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and additional mint, asdesired.
     
    WHAT IS QUESO FRESCO

    Queso fresco is one of the most commonly-used cheeses for cooking in Latin America. It’s a soft, mild cheese similar to ricotta in that it’s made from curds. Cultures and rennet are added to pasteurized milk to create the curds, which are scooped into molds, then drained briefly.

     

    The resulting queso fresco is crumbly, with a mild and salty flavor and a slightly “grainy” texture. It is often sprinkled over foods, and when heated, it will melt.

    Queso fresco is most often used crumbled, as a topping for everything from salads to soups to enchiladas, and is melted in quesadillas and casseroles.

    Queso fresco should not be confused with queso blanco fresco, although the latter is similar. Queso blanco fresco is a fresh cheese that is made by direct acidification (not cultures and rennet) and pressed into blocks. It consequently has a firm texture and softens but does not melt: It can be sliced for pan-frying.

    The different types of Hispanic cheeses.

      

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    GIFT: A Camera Lens Mug

    Here’s a special gift for a mom, dad or grad who’s into photography: This camera lens is actually a mug!

    Totally detailed, it looks and feels like the real thing and holds a hefty 15 ounces of beverage. The lens cap sip top doubles as a coaster or a dish for nibbles.

    A stainless steel lining keeps beverages warm longer (like a thermos), and the screw top lid (the lens cap) provides spill-free transporting. The lid’s sip-top slides and locks to prevent spills.

    The Camera Lens Travel Mug is $29.95 at WhatOnEarthCatalog.com.

    We promise: Everyone will ask where you got it.

     

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    Drink from the camera lens—it’s a mug! Photo courtesy What On Earth Catalog..

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Layer Cake

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    You can make this at home, topped with Callebaut Crispearls. Photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts.

     

    Nothing says love like a homemade cake: for birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day, graduation or or other special occasion. Whether you use a cake mix or measure from scratch, it’s fun to bake a cake.

    And it’s very much appreciated by the honoree. Our friend Beth’s children, ages 7 and 10, know enough to appreciate mom’s homemade birthday cakes to store-bought options.

    Over the years, many people have asked our opinion on cake mixes. Here it is:

    Essentially, a cake mix saves you the time and mess of measuring the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, etc. It also includes the flavorings—vanilla, orange, whatever. People who don’t like measuring should reach for the box.

    What we personally don’t like is using oil instead of butter. Others may not notice; but if it doesn’t taste buttery, we don’t want to spend our cake and cookie calories.

     
    And of course, a from-scratch recipe that’s enhanced with buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, fresh citrus juice or zest, and so on will be better tasting.

    CAKE MIX YES, CANNED FROSTNG NO!

    We totally avoid the canned frostings most people buy to go along with a cake mix. To borrow a line from Snapple, most canned frosting is not made from “the best stuff on Earth.” Here are the ingredients to Betty Crocker’s Rich & Creamy Vanilla Frosting:

    Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Water, Wheat Starch, High Maltose Corn Syrup, Contain 1% or Less of Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, Colored with Artificial Color, Yellows 5 & 6, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Nonfat Milk, Freshness Preserved by Potassium Sorbate

    Why eat cottonseed oil and corn syrup, when in 10 minutes you can make real buttercream, which tastes great?

    All you need is a stick of butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 ounces chocolate or 1 teaspoon instant coffee. Just blend them together and ice away. The toughest part is waiting for the butter to soften!

    Here’s the full recipe.

     

    IT’S EASY TO DECORATE

    A special occasion deserves a festive garnish. You can turn a homemade or store-bought layer cake into something special with a simple sprinkle of edible cake decorations.

    In addition to chocolate chips (or other flavors), homemade chocolate curls (scrape a chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler), coconut and candies, there are:

  • Bright-colored or pastel confetti
  • Callebaut Crispearls, chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate
  • Dragées in single colors, multicolor “Harlequin,” gold and silver
  • Gold glitter stars
  • Sugar pearls, in white, pastels, multicolor and metallics
  • White pearl shimmers
  •  
    If you live near a baking supplies store, go browsing. Otherwise, browse online until you find your ideal decorations.

     

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    Sprinkle festive decorations atop your cake. Photo courtesy Wilton.

     

    Here’s an article about the different types of cake decorations.

      

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    GIFT: Maille Mustard Collection

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    A gourmet gift for a mustard lover. Photo
    courtesy Maille.

     

    A Maille mustard boutique opened near us recently. If you love mustard, make it a destination stop when you visit Dijon, London, Melbourne, New York, Paris or Sydney.

    They are meccas for lovers of fine mustard, as well as gherkins, vinegars and vinaigrettes. The thrill: tasting some 20 different mustards, all so delicious from the spoon that we could have devoured an entire jar.

    Established in 1747* in Paris, Maille (pronounced MY) is known worldwide for its sublime mustards and vinegars. From the outset, the company supplied the kings of France and other monarchs, including England and Russia.

    The brown mustard seeds are grown in the heart of Burgundy, and most of the mustards are made with white wine. Some are smooth, some are whole grain (delightfully chewy!).

    Each year, the product team explores new combinations of ingredients that achieve a complex taste profile and trending flavors.

    There are more than 30 mustard flavors, some seasonal specialties. You can purchase them individually or in preset gift boxes of four, six and nine varieties. The website currently sells:

  • Apricots And Curry Spices
  • Basil
  • Black Olive
  • Black Truffle
  • Blue Cheese
  • Candied Orange Peel And Ginger
  • Celeriac, Black Truffle
  • Chablis Mustard
  • Cognac
  • Dijon Blackcurrant Liqueur
  • Fig And Coriander
  • Fine Herbs
  • Gingerbread And Chestnut Honey
  • Hazenuts And Black Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Lemon And Garlic
  • Honey
  • Honey And Balsamic Vinegar
  • Lemon And Harissa
  • Mango And Thai Spices
  • Morel Mushroom And Chablis
  •  

  • Parmesan Cheese And Basil
  • Pesto and Arugula
  • Pistachio And Orange
  • Pleurote and Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Prune And Armagnac
  • Red Pepper And Garlic
  • Roasted Onions And Wild Thyme
  • Saffron And Crème Fraîche
  • Sauternes
  • Shallots, Chervil And Chanterelle Mushrooms
  • Sun-dried Tomato And Espelette Pepper
  • Walnuts
  • White Wine Mustard
  • Wholegrain Chardonnay Mustard
  •  

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    Grab a [disposable] spoon and dig in at the tasting bar. Photo courtesy Maille.

     
    After tasting the 15 or so mustards on the bar, it was hard to pick a favorite; but that day, it was Fig And Coriander, a whole grain mustard.

    Find all of the mustards online at Maille.com.

     
    MUSTARD GIFTS

    A special four jar mustard gift set in an elegant black box includes Dijon Blackcurrant, Morel Mushroom, Saffron and Isigny Crème Fraiche, and Cognac($40). Individual jars also are packaged in a black box.

    The boutiques also have six- and nine-jar sets, not yet on the website.

    If you get to a boutique location, you’ll be charmed by the mustards on tap. Served from old-fashioned ceramic pumps, a choice of three basic mustards and one seasonal specialty draws mustard into old-style stoneware jars with sealed with cork stoppers. Fans buy mustard by the jar and get frequent refills.

    If you’ve never thought mustard could be magical, head to Maille boutique. You’ll be hooked—and will have an ongoing choice of gifts for your foodie friends to use on everything from sandwiches to elegant recipes, of which there’s a selection on the website.
     
    *Since 2000, Maille has been owned by the Unilever Group.

      

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    RECIPE: National Shrimp Scampi Day

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    Shrimp Scampi, in garlic lemon butter. Photo courtesy Epicurean butter.

     

    Today is National Shrimp Scampi Day. In our youth, it was one of the most popular recipes at Italian restaurants, often served atop a plate of linguine.

    The recipe can be quite simple: shrimp sautéed in garlic lemon butter. This recipe is a bit more elaborate, adding a topping of Parmesan and bread crumbs. Feel free to use the simpler version, and eliminate the cheese, bread crumbs and the broiler.

    Prep time, including the broiled topping, is 20 minutes. Serve with a light-bodied white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

    RECIPE: SHRIMP SCAMPI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or tarragon
  • 1 box angel hair, linguine or other ribbon pasta†
  •  
    *If you prefer the dish without the broiled topping, omit these ingredients.
     
    †Instead of pasta, you can serve the dish with rice or other grain, or with a side of mixed vegetables.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to package instructions.

    2. SAUTÉ the garlic in the butter and oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, until fragrant. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, pepper and oregano; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with cheese, bread crumbs and parsley.

    3. MOVE the skillet to the broiler, 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

    4. SERVE atop the pasta.
     
    WHY IS IT CALLED SHRIMP SCAMPI?

    If you know Italian, you know that the word for shrimp is scampi. So why is the dish called, essentially, Shrimp Shrimp?

    According to Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,” in Italy scampi are actually langoustines, small, lobster-like crustaceans with pale pink shells. In Italy, they are popularly sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion and white wine.

     

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    Shrimp Scampi. Photo courtesy Babble.com.

     

    Italian-American cooks substituted the available equivalent, shrimp, but kept both names, ostensibly to indicate that the dish was made from shrimp, not langoustine.

    This recipe was adapted from Taste Of Home.

      

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