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Archive for September, 2016

RECIPE: Dried Fruit Tart For Rosh Hashanah Or Anytime

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Dried fruit tart with Star Of David lattice. Photo © Martha Stewart Media.

 

What we love about this tart is that for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, the lattice crust is woven strips of pâte brisée in a Star of David pattern.

If the pattern looks familiar to non-Jews, it’s because it’s the weave used in classic chair caning.

Even if you don’t celebrate the Jewish New Year, make this lattice-topped tart. Per the recipe on MarthaStewart.com, “The star pattern is easier to make than you might guess.”

The filling in the tart is made from dried fruits—apricots, cranberries and prunes—that are poached in a spiced vanilla-cognac syrup.

Here’s the recipe on MarthaStewart.com.

You can use the same lattice on any pie or tart.
 
PICK A YOUR FAVORITE PIE OR TART FROM OUR DELICIOUS PIE & PASTRY GLOSSARY.

 

 
  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Apples With Honey, Fruit Dip With Chutney

For the Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah—which begins Sunday at sunset—apple slices and honey represent wishes for a sweet new and fruitful year.

This simple combination is so yummy, we wonder why it isn’t a regular snack for everybody.

The recipe is simple:

  • Sliced apples
  • Small bowl of honey
  • Cocktail napkins to catch honey drips
  • Optional small plates
  •  
    You can make it into a bigger event with spiced tea like Constant Comment or chai; or mulled cider or mulled wine. If the day is warm: iced tea.

    Why apples?

    According to Reform Judiasm, neither the Bible nor the Talmud dictates the minhag, or custom, of dipping apples in honey. It has nothing to do with eating the apple in the Garden of Eden: The Bible never identifies the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16–17).

    Over the millennia, scholars have variously interpreted the fruit as the apple, carob, citron, datura, fig, grape, pear, pomegranate and quince.

    However, the Midrash, a method of interpreting bible stories, says the Garden of Eden had the scent of an apple orchard. In Kabbalah the Garden Of Eden is called “the holy apple orchard.”
    More likely, apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish relationship to God. In just one source, the Zohar (a 13th-century Jewish mystical text), it states that beauty, represented by God, “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.”

    Why is the apple used in all the Garden of Eden paintings?

    It was chosen as the by Western European painters.

    Why honey?

    The customary New Year’s greeting, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year), has existed at least since the 7th century.

    Honey—whether from bees, dates or figs—was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world. But in the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from bees.

    Why join in on the custom?

    So go forth and acquire apples and honey, and serve this sweet treat at home: at breakfast, for snacking, or as dessert at lunch and dinner.

    Check out the different types of honey, and use the occasion for a tasting.

    Invite friends and family. You don’t have to come from a certain culture to enjoy their food—as most Americans are fortunate to know.

     
    RECIPE #1: CHUTNEY FRUIT DIP

    Not a fan of honey? You can make a fruit dip from chutney, jam or preserves (the differences) with plain yogurt, sour cream or yogurt, or a blend. Add a dab of mayo if you like. Stir in the fruit condiments to taste.

       

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Honey: the original fruit dip? In biblical times, a paste of dates, also called honey, was used. [1] Photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF. [3] Photo courtesy Between The Bread | NYC. [3] An idea from Martha Stewart: hollow out an apple to hold the honey.

     
    You can use any flavor of fruit. This recipe, from B & R Farms (photo #4), uses their Dried Apricot Chutney. The cream cheese makes a thicker dip, and the following proportions make two cups, enough for a group.
     
    Ingredients

  • Fruits of choice: apples but also a mixed platter of bananas, grapes, kiwi, melons, peaches, strawberries, etc.
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces light sour cream
  • ½ cup chutney
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients well and refrigerate in a covered dish. When ready to serve, wash and slice the fruit and place as desired on a platter.

    2. Stir the dip and place in a bowl. The dip keeps for a few days; stir well before each use.

     

    Apricot Chutney Dip

    Honey Glazed Apples

    [43] Fruit platter with apricot chutney dip from B&R Farms (use any chutney, jam or preserves). [5] Glazed honey apples from Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: GLAZED HONEY-CINNAMON APPLES

    We adapted this recipe from Taste Of Home, substituting honey for table sugar (photo #5).

    Enjoy them plain, perhaps with a sprinkle of raisins or dried cranberries; or with a creamy topping.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 3 hours in a slow cooker. Alternatively, you can sauté the apples.
     
    Ingredients For 7 Servings

  • 6 large tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Optional garnish: dried cherries, cranberries, raisins
  • Topping: heavy cream, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL, core and cut each apple into eight wedges. Transfer to a 3-quart slow cooker. Drizzle with lemon juice.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, honey, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle with the melted butter.

    3. COVER and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until apples are tender.

     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SWEETENERS:
    SUGAR, MAPLE, SYRUPS & MORE

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cold Brew Coffee With A French Press

    The average American drinks 2.1 cups of coffee a day. Collectively, Americans drink 4,630 cups of coffee each second. And September 29th is National Coffee Day.

    Cold brew coffee, which has been around quite a while (we’ve had a Toddy cold brew system for 20+ years), has finally hit the mainstream.

    Coffee drinkers find it has superior flavor; and in the summer, iced coffee is as easy as adding cold water to cold-brew concentrate from the fridge. (Here are some well-reviewed brands).

    Companies from Folgers to Blue Bottle sell cold-brew coffee. You can buy large bottles of concentrate; you can buy grab-and-go 16-ounce bottles.

    Yet, if you have a French press, you can make trendy cold brew coffee without purchasing a special cold brew system or a bottle of ready-brewed. The French press recipe is below. But first:
     
    WHAT’S A FRENCH PRESS?

    A French press is a coffee-brewing device consisting of a pot with a removable plunger made of fine mesh.

    Coarse-ground coffee is added to the pot, followed by boiling water. The plunger device is placed on top. The coffee grounds float in the water.

    When the coffee is ready to be poured, the plunger is employed. As it is pushed down, the grounds are pushed to the bottom. It does not use electricity; although you likely need it to heat the water.

    If you have a French press, there’s no need to buy a cold brew system, or pricey bottles of cold brew coffee at retail.

    Today, you can find coffee presses in stainless steel, in a stainless holder with a glass beaker (photo #1), and in plastic.

    French presses are made in sizes from 1-2 cups to 10 cups or more. There are travel mug versions, of course: We use this coffee press “mug” from Bodum.

    French press or coffee press is the name in English; although in In New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, the apparatus is known as a coffee plunger. In France it is called cafetière à piston; in Italy it is a caffettiera a stantuffo.
     
    Brewing Tea In A French Press

    You can use a French press to brew loose tea as well, but don’t use a press that is used to brew coffee. Even after washing, microscopic bits of coffee oil can cling to the glass or metal, imparting an unwelcome undertaste to the tea.

       

    Classic French Press

    Cold Brew Coffee  Concentrate

    [1] The classic design of the modern French press (this one is from Bonjour). [2] One of the artisan cold-brews sold at retail (photo courtesy Jittery John’s).

     
    With both coffee or tea, be sure to pour it soon after brewing. Letting the grounds or tea leaves sit under the brewed beverage creates a bitter brew, not a better brew.
     
    Conceived In 1852

    The first known design for a plunge-type brewer was patented in 1852 by two French designers, Mayer and Delforge. You can see their design at PerfectlyGroundCoffee.com.

    Per Brooklyn Roasting it was ahead of its time; manufacturing was not precise enough to snugly fit the filter within pot of the design.

    Others tried their hand, but the first iteration of brewer that we know today was patented by Italian designers Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929. They employed a rubber seal around the edge of the filter.

    The design evolved, with improved the function of the rubber seal.

    The design we know today was patented by a Swiss designer, Faliero Bondanini, in 1958. It was manufactured in France and called a chambord. With a compact design and no required electrical outlet, it became a very popular brewing method.

     
    HOW TO MAKE COLD BREW COFFEE IN A FRENCH PRESS

    These instructions are proportions for an 8-cup French press. Remember that the “standard” cup size used by manufacturers was set long before coffee mugs and modern insulated travel mug containers were in use. So if you use a large mug, you’ll get 4 mugs worth from an 8-cup press, or three 16-ounce travel mugs.

    Use only coarse-ground coffee. Smaller grains will slip through the mesh filter and produce unacceptable coffee.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup coffee, coarsely ground
  • 3 cups water, room temperature
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the coffee in an 8-cup French press. Add the water. Stir the grinds to integrate with the water.

    2. PLACE the French press plunger on top (do not plunge into the water) and place in the fridge for 12 hours.

    3. PRESS down on the plunger, which pushes all the grounds to the bottom, underneath the mesh filter. Pour and enjoy cold with ice, or warm in the microwave.
     
    TIP: Depending on how well the coffee is ground, a few grounds may escape into the coffee. Our mom further poured the coffee through a piece cheesecloth. We don’t.

     

    Stainless French Press

    Manual Coffee Grinder

    [3] Fashionable restaurants bring coffee to the table in a French press (photo courtesy Kabuki Japanese restaurants). [4] It’s easy to grind your own beans for a French press, since the coffee is coarsely ground (photo of manual coffee grinder from FrenchPressCoffee.com).

     

    COFFEE TRIVIA

    We start with an important fact for the many people who want more or less caffeine:

    There is no association between caffeine levels and flavor (e.g. strong coffee). The major difference comes from amount of coffee used and, most importantly, the brewing technique.

    Cold brew has the most caffeine, followed by drip coffee and espresso.

    Take this fun coffee trivia quiz.

    Here are more fun facts from THE NIBBLE and BeFrugal.com.

  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth, after oil.
  • Coffee beans are actually the seeds of berries, which grow on a shrub or small tree.
  • Teddy Roosevelt is said to have consumed one gallon of coffee a day.
  • The first webcam was invented by scientists at the University of Cambridge, so they could monitor when their coffee pot was full.
  • It is not true that light-roasted coffee has more caffeine than dark-roasted coffee. In terms of the ground coffee, light-roasted has more because the roasted beans are denser. However, once brewed, darker roasts have more caffeine.
  •  
    Facts About Decaf

  • The amount of caffeine in coffee varies a lot. It can depend on the beans (robusta has much more than arabica), the portion size, but most importantly the brewing technique.
  • Decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free. According to FDA regulations, coffee must have 97% of its original caffeine removed in order to be labeled as decaffeinated. Drink 5-10 cups of decaf a day and you’ll likely be consuming the equivalent of a cup or two of regular coffee in terms of caffeine content.
  • While a cup of regular coffee usually contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, a 2007 Consumer Reports test of 36 popular brands found some decaf cups that still packed in more than 20 milligrams of caffeine. But the difference in a cup of brewed coffee is truly minimal.
  • A minority brew: According to the National Coffee Association, just 10% of coffee drinkers in the U.S. opt for decaf. At a coffee house or cafe, the percent can be almost double.
  •  
    Here are more decaf coffee facts.

      

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    FOOD FUN: National Beer Holidays

    Got Beer?

    September 28th is Drink Beer Day (also called National Drink A Beer Day).

    But beer lovers can plan an entire year of beer celebrations:

  • American Beer Day, October 27th
  • National Beer Day, April 7th
  • National Bock Beer Day, May 3rd
  • National Homebrew Day, the first Saturday in May
  • American Craft Beer Week, the third week in May
  • American Beer Month, July
  • National IPA Day, the first Thursday of August
  • International Beer Day, the first Friday of August
  •  
    There are also local beer events. Check your state!
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEER
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF BEER
     
    WHAT ARE HOPS?

     

    Hops Growing

    There would be no beer without hops, a species of flowering plant that is cultivated on trellised vines (photo courtesy USAHops.org). The hop plant, Humulus lupulus, is a member of the Cannabaceae family, making it a botanical cousin of cannabis.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fall Salad, Fall Cheese Course

    fall-salad-brussels-squash-sweetgreen

    Pear & Endive Salad

    [1] Make a fall salad with brussels sprouts, squash, and seasonal garnishes (photo courtesy Sweetgreen). [2] Another popular fall combination: endive, pear and maple-candied walnuts (photo courtesy Barrel and Ashes).

     

    With each change season, change your perspective on food. Look for seasonal ingredients in everything from salad ingredients to beer styles.

    For inspiration, check the websites of salad cafes like Fresh & Co., Just Salad and Sweetgreen

    At Just Salad, the fall menu includes:

  • Autumn Caesar: romaine, grilled chicken, bartlett pears, shaved parmesan, dried cranberries and multigrain croutons.
  • Sweet Mama: baby spinach, apples, sharp cheddar, turkey bacon and honey maple walnuts.
  • Thanksgiving Salad: turkey, roasted green beans, baby spinach, roasted acorn squash, dried cranberries, almonds.
  •  
    At Sweetgreen, a fall highlight is:

  • Apples, Pears + Organic Cheddar Salad: mesclun, shredded kale, apples, pears, cheddar, pecans, basil and balsamic vinaigrette.
  •  
    Other favorite fall ingredients:

  • Beets, raw or roasted
  • Roasted sweet potato slices (slice, then roast)
  •  
    RECIPE: FALL SALAD WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS & SQUASH

    Here’s a another yummy idea from Sweetgreen: the Chicken + Brussels salad with roasted brussels sprouts, chopped romaine, mesclun, roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and cranberry vinaigrette.

    You can serve it with or without the protein, the former as a lunch salad, the latter a side salad with dinner.

    We didn’t have cranberry vinegar, so used pear balsamic vinegar—another fall touch (so is fig balsamic vinegar).
     
    Ingredients

  • Your favorite greens
  • Grilled or roasted Brussels sprouts and acorn/butternut squash
  • Apple, diced (substitute grapes)
  • Grilled sliced chicken or other protein
  • Other ingredients: beets, mushrooms
  • Optional garnish(es): dried cranberries/cherries/raisins, nuts and/or seeds, shaved Parmesan, toasted nuts
  •  

    FLAVORED BALSAMIC VINEGAR

    If you like balsamic vinegar, try flavored balsamics. They add sweetness without significant calories.

    Here’s a sampler of organic balsamic vinegars in fig, pear, pomegranate and raspberry; and another sampler of apple cinnamon, blood orange, mango and pomegranate balsamics (not organic).

     

    FALL CHEESE COURSE

    Turn your salad course into a cheese course with the addition of…cheese. In France, a salad with cheese is a popular follow-up to the main dish.

    This one, from the Oyster Club in Mystic, Connecticut, is perfect for fall, with a delicious balance of flavors. Bloomy-rinded cheeses can have a subtle mushroomy undertone: perfect for fall.

    Just roast the vegetables, toast the nuts, make the vinaigrette (olive oil and lime juice) and assemble the plate (see photo #3).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • Bloomy rind cheese* (brie, camembert, triple-crème, some chevrès)
  • Diced roasted beets or squash
  • Artisan honey, drizzled over the beets/squash
  • Toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 2 cups mâche (lamb’s lettuce), mesclun or other interesting salad
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • Optional garnish: lime salt (purchased or made with recipe below)
  •  
    If you’re not a fan of bloomy rind cheeses, any hearty cheese is fall-appropriate: aged cheddar, blue cheeses, Comte, real Swiss cheeses, washed rind cheeses.

    Much as we love them, leave the fresh goat cheeses for spring.

    Check out the different types of cheeses in our Cheese Glossary.
     
    __________________________
    *Bloomy rind cheeses have soft, often fuzzy, edible rinds that are a result of the introduction of molds like Penicillium candidum. They are known for the white color and mushroomy flavor of the rind. The two best-known examples are Brie, Camembert and triple-crèmes. Bloomy rind cheeses are generally aged for two weeks, which produces a mild flavor and subtle aroma.

    With a triple crème, cream is added to the milk to create the richest, most buttery group of cheeses. Triple crèmes are a type of bloomy rind cheese and also are aged about two weeks. In order to qualify as a triple-créme, the cheeses must have more than 72% butterfat content, which provides the smooth texture. As with other cheeses that have short aging periods, the flavors are mild and the aromas are subtle. Examples include Brillat-Savarin, Explorateur and St. André. This group of cheeses pairs well with Champagne and other sparkling wines.
    _______________________
     
    RECIPE: LIME SEA SALT

    It’s easy to make flavored sea salt at home. This recipe is from TheThingsILove.com.

    While you can buy lime sea salt, it lacks the fresh lime zest which adds a punch of flavor and color.

    If it seems like too much work for just a sprinkle: Lime sea salt is a terrific Margarita glass rimmer, a real step up!
     
    Ingredients

  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup coarse sea salt
  •  

    Fall Cheese Course

    bloomy-cheese-board-murrays-230

    Lime Sea Salt Recipe

    [3] A fall cheese plate (photo courtesy Oyster Club). [4] Bloomy-rind cheeses (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese). [5] Lime sea salt (photo courtesy TheseThingsILove.com).

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 200°F. Combine the sea salt, lime juice and zest in a small bowl Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

    2. BAKE for 15-20 minutes, until the salt looks dry but not brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

    3. BREAK up any clumps that may have formed. Store in an airtight container.

    4. SPRINKLE a bit on the plate as a colorful element.

      

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