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Archive for 2017

RECIPE: Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch

Frozen Milk Punch
[1] What’s better than Bourbon Milk Punch on a hot day? Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch, with ice cream instead of half and half (photo courtesy Bourbon House | NOLA).

Bourbon Milk Punch
[2] Traditional Bourbon Milk Punch, made with half-and-half instead of ice cream (photo courtesy The Cocktail Project).

Bourbon Milk Punch

[3] Make Bourbon Milk Punch even more festive by using your coupe glasses (photo courtesy Bread Booze Bacon).

 

This recipe was a big hit this weekend chez nous (we add the French in homage to the heritage of New Orleans, which was founded in 1718 by the French as Nouvelle-Orléans).

This recipe is from one of the popular restaurants of the Brennan family, Bourbon House.

Bourbon milk punch is a local specialty in New Orleans. When the restaurant opened in 2002, Dickie Brennan and his team set wanted to create a noteworthy versopm pf Bourbon Milk Punch.

“Through much trial and the occasional error,” says the website, “the Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch was born.” [Editor’s lament: Why don’t we ever get in on these trial and error tastings?]

The Bourbon House inspiration: add vanilla ice cream to create Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch.

The final recipe combined house-made vanilla gelato and Old Forester Bourbon in a frozen daiquiri machine.

Where Magazine New Orleans included the drink on the list their “30 Favorite Things About New Orleans.” Tales of the Toddy has voted it the “Best Milk Punch.”

And now, the Bourbon House team invites you to create it drink at home, using your blender. The regular milk punch version from Brennan’s restaurants is below.

RECIPE #1: FROZEN BOURBON MILK PUNCH

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup Old Forester bourbon (or substitute)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • Garnish: dash of nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into rocks glasses and garnish with nutmeg.

    For a taller, colder drink, add ice cubes to a collins glass.

    RECIPE #2: BRENNAN’S BRANDY MILK PUNCH

    This, and other cognac-based milk punches, often use Napoleon brandy, a designation for a brandy or cognac aged at least five years. Feel free to use VSOP; with all the cream and sugar, the nuances of the Napoleon will be covered up.

    If you don’t like or don’t have brandy, you can substitute bourbon, rum, whiskey and even tequila.

    RECIPE #1:

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces/4 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 4 ounces/1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 ounce/2 tablespoons simple syrup* (recipe)
  • 1/4 ounce/1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Plus

  • Cocktail shaker and ice
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

    2. SHAKE vigorously and pour into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

    ________________

    *We prefer less sweetness, so we reduce the simple syrup by half. We also had homemade cinnamon simple syrup on hand, a nice added twist.
     
    MILK PUNCH HISTORY

    Milk punch is in the category of drinks made with milk or cream: Brandy Alexander, Classic Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper, Irish Coffee, Mudslide, Pink Squirrel, White Russian, and many others (hey—another idea for a themed cocktail party: cream-based cocktails).

    The recipe combines brandy or bourbon with milk, sugar and vanilla extract, and a typical garnished of grated nutmeg.

    Milk punch was popularized in the 17th century by Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing. At the time, all types of punch were served from a punch bowl.

    The milk punch of the era was made with cream curdled with lemon juice. Those recipes gave way to milk punches that use(d) fresh milk or cream, like egg nog—which is a milk punch enriched with eggs.

    Milk punches—egg nog or other—became holiday and celebratory traditions (for example, Mardi Gras).

    In modern-day New Orleans, milk punches vie as brunch drinks with the Bloody Mary, created in 1940 in New York City (Bloody Mary history).

    There are as many recipes for milk punch as for anything else, but for Mardi Gras we serve up the recipe from Brennan’s, a favorite New Orleans restaurant since 1946.

    For a 17th-century-type recipe, try Benjamin Franklin’s recipe. He used brandy and included lots of lemon juice (which curdled the milk).

     
      

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    RECIPE: Chocolate Pecan Pie

    August 20th is National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day (July 12th is Pecan Pie Day).

    Our question: Why eat heavy pecan pie during the summer—not to mention add rich chocolate to it—when there are so many seasonal, ephemeral berries and stone fruits to turn into pies?

    Our tip: Keep this recipe from Melissa Clark of The New York Times for the fall, when a hearty, dense pie is just the thing to stick to the ribs.

    Don’t be tempted to substitute milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips. Pecan pie is sweet enough.

    The bittersweet chocolate specified here is just the thing: intense chocolate flavor without a lot of added sugar.

    Two tablespoons of bourbon add just a hint of flavor. Try it; and if you want to add more next time—or some praline liqueur—go for it.

    Ms. Clark’s pie has a conventional pie crust. You can also use a chocolate wafer crumb crust.

    Pecan pie is traditionally garnished with whipped cream. Given the sweetness of the pie, a dollop of of unsweetened whipped cream, crème fraîche or sour cream is just right.

    Don’t like to bake? The easy way out is this excellent chocolate pecan pie filling from San Saba Pecan, spooned into a store-bought crust.
     
     
    RECIPE: MELISSA CLARK’S CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE (Photo #1)

    For The Crust

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour (150 grams), plus more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (preferably high-fat European style), chilled and cubed
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1½ cups pecan halves (170 grams)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (56 grams)
  • ¾ cup dark corn syrup
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (5 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust: In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms chickpea-size pieces. Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist but not wet.

    2. GATHER the dough into a ball on a lightly floured surface, and flatten it into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.

    3. REMOVE the plastic wrap and roll out the dough to a 12-inch circle, on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch pie plate. Fold over any excess dough, then the crimp edges. Prick the crust all over with a fork. Chill the crust for 30 minutes. While the dough chills…

       

    Chocolate Pecan Pie
    [1] Celebrate National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day with this yummy recipe (photo Andrew Scrivani | The New York Times).

    Pecans In Shell
    [2] The Spanish explorers who encountered pecans called them “wrinkle nuts” (photo courtesy Home Depot).

    Pecan Tree

    [3] A pecan tree. If you live in warmer zones (6 through 9), you can grow your own (photo courtesy Perfect Plants Nursery). You can also grow the trees in zone 5, but they won’t bear nuts.

     
    4. HEAT the oven to 375°F. Line the chilled crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 25 minutes; then remove the foil and bake until it’s a very pale golden color, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

    5. REDUCE the oven temperature to 350°F. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Cool.

    6. MAKE the filling: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool.

    7. WHISK together in a large bowl the cooled chocolate-butter mixture, corn syrup, eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, bourbon and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Arrange pecans over the filling.

    8. TRANSFER to a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until the filling is just set when the pan is jiggled, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

     

    Chocolate Pecan Pie
    [4] Another way to make chocolate pecan pie: Drizzle chocolate on top, as in this recipe from Julia’s Treats And Eats.

    Pecan Pie

    [5] Hold the chocolate if you want a standard pecan pie (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    PECAN PIE HISTORY

    It seems difficult to believe give the long history of pecan trees in the Colonial South*; but the pecan pie recipe we know, pecans on a brown sugar base, is a 20th century invention. No recipes have been found dating to earlier than 1925.

    According to FoodTimeline.com, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and The Joy of Cooking did not include pecan pie recipes before 1940.

    While some sources claim that early French settlers in New Orleans invented pecan pie after encountering the nuts (which they called pacane, after the Native American paka·n), food historians have not been able to trace the dish’s origin prior to 1925.

    That doesn’t mean pecan pie didn’t exist, only that there is no record to prove it. Popular national cookbooks such as The Joy of Cooking and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook did not include the recipe prior to 1940.

    Yes, there were pies made with pecans; they just weren’t pecan pies as we know them or called “pecan pie.” References dating to 1886 and 1914 added the nuts to a milk-based custard.

    Then came a breakthrough on the road to modern pecan pie. In 1913, Mrs. Vesta Harrison of Fort Worth, then an unmarried teenager taking a cooking course, won a national competition with her Texas Pecan Pie, made with a filling of sorghum.

    She said the recipe for this pecan pie came to her in a dream. When she told the teacher at her cooking school, a Mrs. Chitwood of Chicago, that she was going to make a pecan pie, the teacher exclaimed “There is no such thing!”

    The future Mrs. Harrison, interviewed later in life, said she responded, “By gollies, I don’t know how, but I’m going to mess up something making a pecan pie.”

    Mrs. Chitwood sent the recipe to the contest in Washington, where it won first prize. So even if there already was a syrup-based pecan pie somewhere in the U.S., it was unknown in Texas, Chicago or Washington [source].

    Following the introduction of the sorghum-based pecan pie, versions were made with molasses.

    Enter Karo Syrup & The Modern Pecan Pie

    The modern pecan pie was born with the introduction of Karo Syrup, in 1902.

    One of the earliest recipes to substitute the sorghum or molasses with Karo corn syrup was by Mrs. Frank Herring, published in the Sallislaw, Oklahoma Democrat American on February 19, 1931:

     
    3 eggs, 1 cup Karo (blue label), 4 tablespoons corn meal, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or less if desired, pastry. Method: Beat whole eggs slightly, add Karo, corn meal, sugar and melted butter, then stir all thoroughly. Line pie tin with flaky pastry and fill generously with mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top, bake in moderate oven until well set when slightly shaken [source].

    Printed on the bottle label, the makers of Karo Syrup popularized the recipe that many people use today. It has similar ingredients to Mrs. Herring’s recipe, minus the corn meal and adding vanilla extract. It doubles the amount of Karo syrup and sugar and triples the pecans. Here’s the recipe.

    The Karo website says that the recipe was created in the 1930s by the wife of a senior sales executive. When the pie appeared on the bottle label and in magazines, it was known as Karo Pecan Pie.

    This unnamed executive wife may well have seen, and adapted, Mrs. Herring’s 1931 recipe. The rest is sweet history; although as soon as we have time, we’re going back to make the Karo pie using the smaller amounts of sugars in the Herring recipe. When a scoop of vanilla ice cream is needed to cut the sweetness of a pie, you know it’s too sweet.

    The History Of The Pecan Tree

    The pecan, Carya illinoinensis (photo #3), is a member of the Juglandaceae family, known as the walnut family of trees. The trees are native to the Americas, Eurasia and Southeast Asia.

    The family also includes the hickory, about 16 species of which are native to the Americas.

    Pecans are native to America. The tree originated in central and eastern North America and in the river valleys of Mexico*.

    The name “pecan” is a word of Algonquin origin that describes “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”

    Long before Europeans arrived, pecans were widely consumed and traded by Native Americans. Nuts were an excellent food product for a pre-agricultural society, easy to harvesst and store (and an excellent source of protein and other nutrients).

    The first Europeans to come into contact with pecans were 16th-century Spanish explorers in what is now Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana. They called the pecan, nuez de la arruga, which means “wrinkle nut,” due to the deep lines resembling wrinkles in the nutmeats (photo #2). The explorers brought the pecan to Europe, Asia, and Africa beginning in the 16th century.

    Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees, Carya illinoinensis (“Illinois nuts”) in his nut orchard at Monticello, in Virginia. George Washington wrote in his journal that Jefferson gave him “Illinois nuts” to grow at Mount Vernon.
    ________________

    *Currently, the largest pecan-producing states are, in order of tonnage: Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Pecans are grown coast to coast along the southern tier of the United States. The largest pecan orchard is Stahmann Farms in New Mexico.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Glam Your Homemade Lemonade

    August 20th is National Lemonade Day (National Watermelon Day is August 3rd). If the only lemonade you drink comes from a bottle, you’ve never experienced real lemonade

    (We give a waiver to Mike’s Hard Lemonade, a line of carbonated, flavored malt liquor drinks in a dozen or so flavors. It’s not lemonade per se, but we’re fans.)

    Bottled lemonade drinks are not only pasteurized, which kills the fresh flavor; but typically use reconstituted lemon juice, which, of course, totally kills off the bright lemon flavor of fresh-squeezed juice.

    Lemonade “made from concentrate” and sold in cartons like orange juice is the far better choice, as are cans of frozen lemonade concentrate.

    But the best choice of all is to squeeze fresh lemons. It takes just five minutes to make a single glass, and you can adjust the sweetening to your own taste.

    While plain fresh-squeezed lemonade is wonderful in of itself, it’s even more wonderful when you add a bit of glamour.
     
     
    FOR A LEMONADE PARTY BAR

    We leave our pitchers of lemonade unsweetened to accommodate every preference.

    For a party, set up a bar where guests can add their own sweeteners—agave, honey, noncaloric sweetener, superfine sugar or simple syrup.

    You can buy or easily make the latter two, which, unlike table sugar, dissolve easily in cold drinks.

  • Make superfine sugar by pulsing table sugar in a food processor or blender.
  • Make simple syrup by heating sugar in water until it dissolves (recipe).
  • For adults, bottles of gin, tequila or vodka expand the options.
  • Provide some of the flavors and garnishes that follow.
  •  
     
    LEMONADE RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS

    1. Make Fancy Ice

  • Freeze lemonade into ice cubes: Melting lemonade “ice” won’t dilute the drink.
  • Add a garnish to each ice cube compartment: a piece of citrus peel, a mint leaf, a cherry (dried, fresh or maraschino).
  • Crack the ice cubes into smaller pieces with an ice crusher. Some people own ice crushers or blenders that crush ice; we use a manual tool like this.
     
    Hold the ice cube in your hand and hit it with the crusher end. (NOTE: Smaller pieces of ice melt faster than whole cubes, so if your lemonade is at room temperature, you’ll want to keep the ice cubes whole.)
  •  
    2. Other “Formats”

  • Float: Add scoops of sorbet to a tall glass of watermelon lemonade. We couldn’t find watermelon sorbet, so we tried lemon, orange and raspberry. They all work.
  • Slushie: The same ingredients as a float plus ice cubes/cracked ice, lightly pulsed in a blender.
  • Fruit Soup: For a refreshing dessert or snack, dice or slice any fresh fruits and place them in a mound in the center of a soup bowl. Pour the lemonade (plain or flavored)around the fruit. Garnish with optional chopped mint or basil.
  •  
    3. Flavored Lemonade

    You can flavor the lemonade or set out a “flavor bar” so guests can add their own:

  • Fruit Juice: blueberry juice, cherry juice, lime juice, pomegranate juice.
  • Fruit Purée: berry purée, mango purée, peach purée.
  • Flavored sweeteners: Infuse simple syrup with fruit juice (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry), sliced chiles. ginger, organic lavender, etc.
  • Flavored spirits: Spirits: flavored rum, Limoncello or other fruit liqueur, saké, tequila, vodka.
  •  
    4. Sweeteners

  • For a zero-calorie drink, use non-caloric sweetener.
  • For a low-glycemic drink, use agave nectar.
  • Varying the garnishes makes the recipe “new” each time.
  •  
    5. Garnishes

  • Berry picks
  • Fresh herbs: basil, mint, rosemary, e.g.
  • Wheels or wedges: cucumber, lemon, lime, orange
  •  
    6. One Glass Or One Pitcher

  • If you don’t want to squeeze lemons every time you feel like lemonade, you can do a “bulk squeeze” and freeze the lemon juice in ice cube trays.
  • Or, do what our busy mom did and stir a heaping spoon of frozen lemonade concentrate into ice water.
  • Here’s what you need for a 64-ounce pitcher.
  •  
     
    RECIPES: FLAVORED & SPECIALTY LEMONADE

  • Frozen Lemonade Recipe
  • Lavender Lemonade Recipe
  • Peach Lemonade Recipe
  • Raspberry Lemonade Smoothie Recipe
  • Red, White & Blueberry Lemonade Recipe
  • Sparkling Melon Lemonade
  • Spicy Lemonade Recipe
  • Strawberry Basil Lemonade Recipe
  • Watermelon Mint Lemonade Recipe
  •  
    ADULT LEMONADE RECIPES

  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail Recipe
  • Fizzy Sambuca Lemonade Recipe
  • Lemonade 485 Cocktail Recipe
  • Limoncello Lemonade Recipe
  • London Lemonade (Gin Cocktail)
  • Saké Lemonade Recipe
  • Tequila Lemonade Recipe
  •  

    Cucumber Lemonade
    [1] Add your favorite flavor counterpoints, from berries to cucumber. Muddle as desired (photo courtesy True Food Kitchen | Facebook).

    Jalapeno Lemonade
    [2] Some like it hot: They can add some jalapeño slices or other hot and spicy ingredients (photo courtesy Melissa’s).

    Lemonade With Zest Rim
    [3] Add a tart-and-sweet rim: lemon or lime zest, plain or mixed with sugar (photo courtesy Saint Marc Pub-Café).

    Rosemary Lemonade
    [4] Garnish with your favorite herbs. We like the counterpoint of basil, mint or rosemary (photo courtesy Fig & Olive).

    Strawberry Lemonade
    [5] Toss berries and herbs into the pitcher (photo courtesy Cocina De Color Lila).

    Blackberry Lemonade

    [6] Summer’s fresh blackberries or huckleberries are another great lemonade pairing (photo courtesy Izakaya Den | Denver).

     

    Watermelon Lemon Cockatil

    [7] Citron vodka substitutes for most of the lemon juice—but we’re not complaining (photo courtesy Haru Sushi).

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON LEMONADE COCKTAIL

    This recipe from Haru uses more citron vodka than lemon juice, but the combination of ingredients is a winner.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 5 fresh watermelon cubes
  • 1½ oz. citron-infused vodka
  • ½ ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur (also great in sparkling wines)
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce thyme-infused simple syrup (recipe below)
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: thyme and lemon peel
  •  
    For The Thyme Simple Syrup

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the thyme simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the thyme sprigs. Let steep for 10 minutes; then cool to room temperature before using.

    2. MUDDLE the watermelon cubes in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients ice and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds.

    e. POUR into an ice-filled glass. Garnish and serve.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Things To Do With Blueberries

    Got blueberries? There at an excellent price right now.

    When October brings half pints of blueberries for $5 and more, you’ll be sorry you didn’t enjoy more of these during peak blueberry season.

    So enjoy all the blueberry and mixed fruit salads, cocktails and pies. But also try the little blue orbs in:

    BEVERAGES

  • Blueberry Lavender Water
  • Blueberry Lemonade
  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail
  • Blueberry Mango Chile Smoothie
  • Blueberry Pom Smoothie
  • Coffee Shake With Blueberries
  •  
    BREAKFAST

  • Baked Oatmeal With Blueberries & Almonds
  • Blueberry Breakfast Salad
  • Blueberry Yogurt Granola Parfait
  • Fresh Blueberry Muffins
  • On cottage cheese, French toast, oatmeal, waffles and
    plain, blueberry and vanilla yogurt
  •  
    MAINS, SAUCES & SIDES

  • Blueberry Gastrique For Grilled Meat, Poultry & Fish
  • Green Salad With Blueberries & Blue Cheese
  • Rack Of Lamb With Homemade Blueberry Jam
  • Scattered blueberries as a plate garnish
  •  
    DESSERTS

  • Blueberry Cobbler
  • Topping for angel cake, cheesecake, pound cake
  • Blueberry Sorbet
  • Lemon Blueberry and White Chocolate Cream Cake
  • No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake
  •  
     
    THE HISTORY OF BLUEBERRIES

    Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are one of the few fruit species native* to North America and unknown in Europe: perennial flowering plants with indigo-colored berries. Also included in the Vaccinium genus are cranberries, bilberries and grouseberries.

    Vaccinum is a member of the Ericaceae family, which also includes the huckleberry (the most common in the U.S. is the black huckleberry, Gaylussacia baccata) and popular non-edibles including azalea, rhododendron and various common heaths and heathers.

    Blueberries are called by different names, including bilberry, cowberry, farkleberry and sparkleberry.

    Wild blueberries were gathered by Native Americans to eat as fresh fruit during the season, andused dried fruit thereafter.

  • The dried berries were used in soups and stews and as a rub for meats. They were mixed with dried meat and cornmeal into pemican, a nutritious, easily portable food carried by hunters and travelers.
  • Blueberry juice was used as a dye for bloth and baskets and to make cough syrup.
  • The leaves of the plant were made into a tea to “fortify the blood.”
  • With the introduction of honeybees by Europeans, the berries were mixed with cornmeal, honey and water to make a pudding called sautauthig.
  •  
    The blueberry was considered a sacred food by Native Americans, because the blossom-end of the berry is shaped like a five-pointed star. American Indians believed that the berries were sent by the Great Spirit during a great famine to relieve the hunger of their children [source].

    The Blueberries The Pilgrims Ate

    Dried blueberries also sustained the Pilgrims. When they arrived at Cape Cod in November 1620, blown off course from their Virginia† destination, it was far too late to plant crops.

    The settlers nearly starved to death until the Wampanoag people shared food and taught them to grow native plants such as corn and squash. The settlers of Plymouth learned which foods to gather and dry (blueberries, cranberries) to sustain them through the winter.

    The blueberries used by the Indians were the wild, or low bush variety, which are the state fruit of Maine, where they are a major crop.

    Most blueberries that are cultivated today are the high bush variety, domesticated in the early 20th century. The plants have been improved over the years to increase the size and color of the berry and the yield of the bush. Cultivation of the high bush blueberry has has been so successful that America now grows over 90% of the blueberries in the world.

    However, while Maine’s low bush blueberries are significantly smaller, they are more flavorful.

     

    Blueberry Breakfast Salad
    [1] Blueberry breakfast salad: combine any fruits atop greens (photo courtesy Blueberry Council).

    Blueberry Yogurt Parfait
    [2] Blueberry-yogurt-granola parfait (photo courtesy Fruits From Chile).

    Blueberry Vinaigrette
    [3] Blueberry vinaigrette for salads and broiled proteins (photo courtesy Wild Blueberries).

    Salad With Blueberries
    [4] Blueberries into a grilled chicken or salmon salad (photo courtesy CFAA).

    Salmon With Blueberry Sauce

    [5] Salmon with blueberry sauce (photo courtesy Munchery).

     
    Some 20 years ago, blueberries were anointed a “superfood” after studies of the benefits of antioxidants became part of healty eating in the U.S. Blueberries are one of foods highest in antioxidants.

    Blueberries are easily preserved by freezing, canning and drying. They can also be juiced or made into jam or preserves. The surge in the popularity of blueberries has caused home gardeners to plant these shrubs in nearly every growing area of America.

    ________________
    *Blueberries and cranberries, along with other indigenous fruits such as mayhaws and papwpaws, were unknown in the Old World. North America has its own native species such as cherries, grapes, plums, persimmons, raspberries and other species of which were well-known in the Old World. Here’s the list of fruits native to North America.

    †At the time, Virginia included the region as far north as the Hudson River in the modern State of New York. The Hudson River was their originally intended destination.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Icebox Cakes & Homemade Chocolate Wafers Recipes

    Icebox Cake Refrigerator Roll
    [1] The original ice box cake was made by Nabisco. Wafers and whipped cream were assembled and then frozen, to make cutting easy. After the taller cake became popular, the original version was named Refrigerator Roll (photo courtesy Nabisco).

    Original Icebox Cake
    [2] The cake evolved into the classic Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Ice Box Cake, a tall affair that was impressive to look at, but not so neat to cut (here’s the recipe from The Very Kitchen).

    Chocolate Ice Box Cake
    [3] In recent decades, cooks got creative, substituting chocolate whipped cream, strawberry whipped cream and other fruit flavors, and adding layers of fruit on top of the wafers (photo courtesy The King’s Cupboard).

    Strawberry Ice Box Cake
    [4] In the last decade or two, fruit crept into the recipe, exemplified by this Strawberry Ice Box Cake from Cabot Co-op (recipe).

    Lemon Ice Box Cake

    [5] Home cooks got even more creative with the ingredients, as in this Lemon Blueberry Ice Box Cake recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

     

    Ice Box Cake has long been popular on a hot summer day: No hot oven required.

    Instead, wafer cookies—the thin, flat kind—are layered with whipped cream and refrigerated for 4 hours or more. Moisture from the whipped cream softens the cookies, turning them into with individual refrigerator cakes.

    Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies date to the 1930s: very thin, crispy chocolate cookies that were used for icebox cakes and chocolate crumb crusts.

    The Ice Box Cake was created by Nabisco home economists and printed on the wrapper—as so many iconic American recipes were—to sell more product!

    We’re not talking general recipes: Oatmeal cookies existed long before Quaker Oats printed a recipe on its label. We’re talking inventions:

  • Chex Party Mix from Chex Cereal
  • Cream Cheese Frosting from Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
  • Green Bean Bake from Campbell’s Mushroom Soup
  • Green Bean Casserole from French’s Crispy Fried Onions
  • Key Lime Pie from Borden’s Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Magic Bars from Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
  • Marshmallow Treats from Rice Krispies*
  • Onion Dip from Lipton Onion Soup
  • Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Dole Canned Pineapple Rings
  • Toll House Cookies from Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  •  
    There are hundreds of examples, and a number of cookbooks that feature these recipes from boxes, bottles, cans and jars. They were typically developed by home economists at the manufacturing company, but others came from home cooks (German Chocolate Cake, Marshmallow Treats and Toll House Cookies are some examples).
    ________________

    *Created by Mildred Day, a Campfire Girls counselor and Kellogg’s employee, who created the recipe to help her Campfire Girls raise money.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF NABISCO FAMOUS CHOCOLATE WAFER COOKIES

    Dating to the 18th century, wafer cookies were made by home cooks and later by bake shops. By the 20th century, they were popular enough to make their way into commercial manufacture.

    The first manufactured chocolate wafers—Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers—debuted in 1924. The company sold a tin of three flavors: chocolate, ginger and sugar wafers.

    When Nabisco transitioned to cardboard packaging around 1930, the other flavors were dropped and the Famous Chocolate Wafer boxes were printed with the recipe for Icebox Cake. In the first iteration (photo #1), a log of chocolate wafers separated with whipped cream, that was then frozen.

    From that moment, Chocolate Ice Box Cake was a hit. It could be made equally well by experienced cooks as well as housewives who rarely entered the kitchen (or if they did, were not known for their culinary gifts).

    Delicious any time, it was a godsend in summer months, when, before the dawn of widespread air conditioning, no one had the desire to turn on the oven. The recipe was enlarged to a “layer cake” format (photo #2).

    Separately, the wafers were crushed and used as crusts for pies and cheesecakes, and as dessert garnishes.

    While ice box cake is an American invention, is a descendant of the charlottes and trifles that date to 17th-century Europe.

    Here’s the longer history of ice box cakes, charlottes and trifles.
     
    MODERN ICE BOX CAKE IDEAS

    With today’s ice box cakes, anything goes, with:

  • Overall cake flavors: lemon, matcha, mocha—create your favorite flavors with choices of whipped cream and fruit.
  • Fruit: Add berries or sliced stone fruits (cherries, nectarines, peaches, etc.).
  • Whipped cream flavors: Whip up some flavored whipped cream—bourbon, citrus, lavender, mint, peppermint, spice, etc.
  • Cookie types: Graham crackers have become popular; and you can bring back the ginger wafers with Anna’s Swedish Ginger Thins, lemon thins, etc.

    But do keep the cookies thin. The thinner the cookie, the more likely it is to dissolve into a soft, cakey texture. That Toll House or oatmeal cookie doesn’t work: Save them for ice cream sandwiches.

  • Garnishes: chocolate shavings or chips, cinnamon, cocoa powder, coconut, candied ginger, etc.
  •  
    You can turn the garnishes into food fun: a “decorate your own” approach. Provide bowls of:

  • Blueberries or raspberries
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Chopped nuts
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Sprinkles or confetti
  • Sugar dragées, glitter, pearls (white or Callebaut Crispearls— chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate)
  • Other garnishes of choice (Gummi bears, anyone?)
  •  
    BAKE YOUR OWN CHOCOLATE WAFERS & MAKE INDIVIDUAL STACK ICE BOX CAKES

    These days, with all the competition on the supermarket shelf, it can be hard to find Nestle’s Famous Chocolate Wafers. Thank goodness for online shopping.

    But how about making your own? They’ll taste even better.

    Here’s a recipe from King Arthur Flour. Prep time is 30-50 minutes, bake time is 20-22 minutes.

    Whether you bake them or buy them, you can make individual refrigerator cakes by making single stack of wafers and cream instead of a larger cake. You need to refrigerate them at least 4 hours before serving, or overnight.

    This recipe makes 3½ dozen, 2½-inch cookies.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE WAFERS FOR ICE BOX CAKE

    Ingredients For 8 Individual Stack Cakes Or 1 Large Cake

    For The Wafers

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup black cocoa†
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy/whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • ________________
    †Black cocoa is a super-dark Dutch-process cocoa from King Arthur Flour. It is used sparingly for an intense, dark color and unsweetened-chocolate highlights. This rich cocoa will make the darkest chocolate cake or cookies, but you can use the cocoa you have.

     

    Preparation

    1. GREASE lightly (or line with parchment) two baking sheets, or more if you have them; you’ll make 3 to 4 baking sheets’ worth of cookies.

    2. BEAT together in a medium-sized bowl the sugar, butter, salt, baking powder and espresso powder. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then the flour and cocoa. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes. While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.

    3. ROLL the dough about 1/8″ thick. Use cocoa instead of flour to dust your rolling board and the dough. Cut into 2 ½”-round cookies. A biscuit cutter is handy for this.

    4. BAKE the cookies for 10 minutes. Watch them closely at the end of the baking time, and if you start to smell chocolate before 10 minutes has gone by, take them out. When they’re done, remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the filling: Whisk together the heavy cream and other ingredients. When blended, whip until the cream holds a soft peak.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place one cookie on a small plate. Put about a tablespoon of whipped cream on top; our teaspoon cookie scoop, heaped up, works well here.
    Top with a second cookie, using it to compress the whipped cream to about a ¼”-thick layer. Repeat with 4 more cookies, finishing with a layer of whipped cream. Refrigerate from 4 to 24 hours before serving.

    Flavored Whipped Cream Variations

    To flavor 1 cup of cream, add one of the following combinations 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar + 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. To play around with other flavors, use these guidelines:

  • Coconut: 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar + 1/8 teaspoon coconut flavor
  • Mocha: 1 tablespoon granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon Dutch processed cocoa + 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Peppermint: 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar + 1/8 teaspoon peppermint oil
  •  
    These are just some of the many variations that will delight you, your friends and family.

    Put on your toque and your apron and get out your artist’s palette.

     

    Nestle Famous Chocolate Wafers
    [6] Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (photo courtesy Nabisco).

    Homemade Chocolate Wafers
    [7] An individual-portion ice box cake. Just stack the wafers and whipped cream vertically (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Individual Ice Box Cakes

    [8] Another mini ice box cake—with a cherry on top! Here’s the recipe from If You Give A Blonde A Kitchen.

     

      

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