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Archive for November 5, 2016

TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Fresh Sage, From Cocktails Through Dessert

We love fresh sage, but seem to use it mostly in the fall. We use it in stuffing, flash-fried as a garnish, and with cocktails.

But of course, you can enjoy it year-round. It’s a standard herb blend with parsley, rosemary and thyme, a key component of poultry and sausage seasonings. Our mom put fresh sage under the skin of a chicken prior to roasting.

Salvia officinalis, common sage, is a membr of the Lamiaceae family of flowering plants, also called the mint family.

Members are frequently aromatic in all parts* and include many widely used culinary herbs: basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, perilla, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme. Some are shrubs, some are trees; in rare instances, some members are vines.

  • Beverages: sage tea (herbal), crush into vegetable juices, make sage ice cubes for Bloody Marys and other savory drinks
  • Breads: biscuits, rustic loaves, stuffing/dressing
  • Condiments: pestle-ground and mixed with mustard, sage-infused honey,
  • Eggs: frittatas, omelets, quiches, scrambles
  • Desserts: apple pie and other apple dishes, custards (infuse the cream), olive oil cakes, pear crisps, savory ice cream
  • Garnishes: serve fresh, flash-fried or deep-fried with fish and seafood, meats and poultry, polenta, potatoes, poultry, salads, soups, vegetable juices and cocktails, winter squash
  • Grains & Vegetables: barley, beans, rice and risotto
  • Sauces: tomato sauce, pesto (combine with the traditional basil and/or other herbs)
  • Proteins: calves’ liver, chicken, lamb
  • Sandwiches & Burgers: garnish, fresh or fried
  • Sage Butter: a sauce for fish and pasta, especially with gnocchi, pumpkin pasta and ravioli; a compound butter for duck, lamb, seafood
    Search for sage recipes and you’ll find favorites like butternut squash soup, creamed onions with sage, pork chops and loin, roast chicken, roasted vegetables, and saltimbocca (a rolled main of steak, prosciutto and provolone with sage).

    On this lovely fall weekend, relax with a sage-garnished cocktail and complementary hors d’oeuvre.

    The Side Ride cocktail, created by blogger Carey Nershi of Reclaiming Provincial, combines Cognac, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, sweet and sour mix (ideally homemade) and Sprite (or 7-Up) lemon-lime soda, both to taste.

    It’s similar to a Side Car, but substitutes gin for the Cognac. Carey took this sophisticated approach with a recipe she created for Vermont Creamery, served with hors d’oeuvre made with Vermont Creamery’s Bijou, an award-winning aged goat cheese in the style of the French crottin.

    Carey uses barrel-aged gin, a recently-revived practice that ages gin, like tequila—in bourbon barrels that generate more richness and spice.

    Wood aging also adds color, so barrel-aged gins are the color of whiskey.

    You can use regular gin, or use this as an occasion to try barrel aged gin.

    And, since this is the season for sage, the cocktail has a fresh sage leaf garnish.


    Fresh Sage

    Fried Sage Leaves

    Butternut Squash Soup

    Cranberry Sage Cocktail

    [1] Fresh sage (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] Fried sage leaves. Here’s the recipe from Saveur. [3] Butternut soup with a garnish of creme fraiche and a sage leaf. Here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit.[4] Sage as a cocktail garnish in everything from Martinis to this Cranbery Sage Holiday Cocktail (here’s the recipe from Creative Culinary).


    Side Ride Cocktail

    Beefeater Barrel Aged Gin

    Bijou Crottins Vermont Creamery

    Caramelized Apples

    Sarabeth's Chunky Apple Jam

    [1] The Side Ride, a Side Car with gin instead of cognac (photo courtesy Reclaiming Provincial). [2] Beefeater Barrel Aged Gin (photo courtesy Pernod Ricard). Aged gin is a great gift for a gin lover. [3] Bijou, a Loire-style goat cheese crottin (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery). [4] Caramelized apples (photo courtesy All Clad). [5] Sarabeth’s Chunky Apple Jam (photo courtesy SBK Preserves).

    *Beyond leaves and stems, these can include the herb’s bark, flowers, roots and seeds.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces barrel-aged gin (substitute conventional gin)
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 dash Angostora or other bitters
  • Garnish: sage leaf and lemon or orange peel

    1. COMBINE the gin, Grand Marnier, lemon juice and bitters in a shaker with ice. Stir 8-12 seconds and strain into chilled coupe glass.

    2. RUB the rub sage leaf lightly on the rim of coupe and float the leaf in the drink along with lemon or orange peel.

    Carey created this hors d’oeuvre to go with the Side Ride cocktail. Slices of Bijou aged goat cheese (from Vermont Creamery) are topped with smoked salmon and a dollop of crème fraiche for a festive bite.

    We had a jar of Sarabeth’s Chunky Apple Jam, and found that we preferred apple jam/preserves to the caramelized apples she specifies. It’s also a lot easier to open a jar, rather than than peeling, slice and caramelize the apples.

    If you have another jam or chutney, that can work, too.

    And if you want to use caramelized apples, Carey’s recipe is below.

  • Vermont Creamery Bijou goat cheese or substitute
  • Good crackers (like La Panzanella)
  • Caramelized apples (recipe below), apple preserves or apple jelly
  • Smoked salmon slices
  • Crème Fraîche (buy Vermont Creamery’s or make your own)
  • Garnish: Fresh dill (substitute sage)

    1. SLICE the Bijou into rounds and place on top of crackers. Top the cheese with the caramelized apples or preserves, and a piece of smoked salmon that’s size-appropriate for the cracker.

    2. TOP with a dollop of crème fraîche and garnish with a small sprig of fresh dill or a piece of sage.


    Caramelizing is the process of converting sugar into caramel. This type of caramel is not thick like caramel sauce or caramel candies. Rather, the sugar and butter combine to create a light, caramel finish to the apples.

    You can use caramelized apples with everything from pancakes to pork loin. Carey uses a dab to add a sweetness counterpoint to the salty smoked salmon in the recipe above.


  • 2 firm apples, such as Gala or Granny Smith
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon

    1. PEEL the apples and cut them into thin slices, as if for apple pie. First cut them into quarters, then slice each quarter into 4 pieces.

    2. MELT the butter over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar, stir to combine, and add the apples. Toss the apples a few times until they are softened and caramelized.

    Let us know how you use them: for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts.



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    RECIPE: Lobster Mashed Potatoes

    There are numerous ways to make that American favorite, mashed potatoes, even better.

    A topping of butter-sauteed lobster might be the most exciting preparation for a special occasion. It’s a perennial favorite at Ocean Prime, a fine steak and seafood restaurant with 12 locations from coast to coast.

    We obtained the recipe from Chef Brian Hinshaw of Ocean Prime (thanks)! and adjusted it as noted, starting with much more lobster topping. With our family of foodies, you can’t start a war over who didn’t get enough lobster!

    We also used Yukon Gold potatoes, which are renowned for their creamy, buttery flesh. Whatever potato you choose, plan on 1/2 pound of raw potatoes per adult.

    You’ll also need a stand or hand-held electric mixer, with a wire whip attachment. If you don’t have a whip attachment, see if you can buy a set to fit your mixer; they’re very useful attachments. Otherwise, use the regular beaters and then whip the potatoes into smoothness with a whisk.

    Or better yet, since Christmas is coming, ask Santa for a stand mixer with all the attachments.


    This recipe preparation actually makes whipped or pureéd potatoes. The difference: Mashed potatoes can be made with any texture, from lumpy to pureé. Whipping the potatoes adds air volume, and whipping them into smootheness is a pureé.

    Ingredients For A Crowd

  • 8 cups Idaho potatoes (we used Yukon Gold)
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 tablespoon white pepper* (we used black pepper)
    For The Lobster Topping

    For 12 ounces of mashed potatoes, you’ll need:

  • 3 ounces lobster meat, or more to taste (we tripled it to please our family)
  • 3 tablespoons paprika butter (1 stick soft butter whipped in a mixer with ½ tablespoon paprika)
  • 12 ounces whipped mashed potatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • Garnish: minced chives, optional paprika
    *Peppercorns are the fruit of a vine, Piper nigrum. White pepper is a conventional peppercorn with the black husk removed. While much of the piperine—the compound that gives pungency to the peppercorn—is in the husk, French chefs of yore chose to remove it to avoid black specks in pure white dishes like white sauces and puréed potatoes. Frankly, we like the specks and the extra flavor from the husk, and use black peppercorns universally. Here are the different types of pepper, including pink peppercorns, green peppercorns and dozens of others, none of which is Piper nigrum.


    Lobster Mashed Potatoes

    Lobster Meat For Lobster Mashed Potatoes

    Frozen Lobster Meat

    Chopped Chives

    Lobster Mashed Potatoes: How can you resist? (Photo courtesy Ocean Prime). [2] We purchased cooked lobster meat (photo courtesy Celtic Crab Products). [3] Frozen-cooked lobster meat is less expensive (photo courtesy [4] We love fresh herbs, so added extra chopped chives and some parsley (photo courtesy A Way To Garden).

    1. MAKE the lobster topping: Sauté the lobster meat in 2 tablespoons of the paprika butter. Cover to keep warm and set aside (you can do this while the potatoes are cooking).

    2. PEEL the potatoes; then cut in half and slice into 1/2 inch pieces (if using Idaho russets, you can just halve the potatoes). Place in pot and cover with cold water and a pinch of salt.

    3. BRING to a boil, then immediately turn down to simmer. Never boil potatoes; they will become waterlogged. Cook until fork tender.

    4. DRAIN the potatoes in a colander, then put them back in the hot pot for 3 minutes to steam (dry out). This allows the cream and butter to be absorbed into the flesh. While the potatoes are steaming…

    5. HEAT the butter and cream in a small pan until the butter has melted. Add the potatoes to the mixing bowl and whip for 30 seconds; then add 3/4 of the butter mixture and continue to whip—slowly at first, then adding the salt and pepper and increasing the speed to whip more air (volume) into the potatoes. Use the remaining butter mixture only if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

    6. SERVE the mashed potatoes in a dish, topped with lobster meat and extra. Garnish with the chives and more paprika as desired.


  • Beet Mashed Potatoes
  • Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
  • Lowfat Mashed Potatoes
  • Flavored Mashed Potatoes: Substitute infused olive oil for the butter–basil oil, chile oil, garlic oil, rosemary oil, wasabi, etc.
  • Holiday Mashed Potatoes: Mix-in theme-colored vegetable bits–chives or scallion stems for St. Patrick’s Day, crushed red pepper flakes or pimento for Valentine’s Day, etc.
  • Mashed Potato Martini
  • Purple Mashed Potatoes
    Plus some food fun, mashed potatoes with a cup of coffee: Mashed Potato Donuts.

    How many different types of potatoes are there? Thousands, worldwide; but check out the dozens of varieties you can find in the U.S.


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