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Archive for July, 2017

FOOD HOLIDAY: National French Fry Day

Types Of French Fries

[1] Can you name the fries? From the top: tots, chips, waffle fries, curly fries, frinkle fries, sweet potato fries and what most Americans think of as the classic French fry, the baton (photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission).

Truffle Parmesan Fries

[2] We love truffle fries, coated in truffle oil and topped with some parmesan cheese (photo courtesy Flex Mussels | NYC).

Spiral Cut Fries

[3] Want to make spiral cut fries? Try this recipe from the Idaho Potato Commission.

 

July 13th is National French Fry Day. In previous years we’ve created a glossary of the different types of French fries, and a variety of recipes from the Canadian favorite, poutine, to the two new recipes below.

This year we have two new recipes, one of which is part of a trend to Asian fry garnishes, based on Asian twists with American French fries. These examples were reported by Flavor & The Menu, a magazine for chefs.

  • China: Chinese chain restaurants serve stir-fried fries, tossing fries into the wok with other ingredient. Examples: shoestring fries with Sichuan chicken, waffle-cut fries with roasted goose.
  • Indonesia: A&W Indonesia offers a side of “duo fries,” a combination of curly and straight fries in one package. Other restaurants similarly combine different forms of fries. Want combo fries with that?
  • Philippines: Potato Corner, a franchise chain, has been serving customized fries since it began in 1992. There are choices of seasonings, from chile barbecue and cinnamon to garlic and parmesan and sour cream and onion. Fries include original and sweet potato, plus loopy, which are circular, like calamari rings. Want to try them? There are outposts in 10 American states. Here’s the menu of fries.
  • South Korea: McDonald’s serves honey butter fries, a sweeter flavor profile. Pizza Hut launched a potato-sausage pizza topped with seasoned, straight-cut fries. Rival chain Mr. Pizza has honey butter potato pizza, with a topping of potato chips. WaBar, a Western-style pub chain, has a potato-filled menu that includes bulgogi potato pizza, made with crinkle-cut fries and bulgogi (marinated, grilled beef_.
  •  
    FRIES IN THE U.S.

    Fries have always been on the menu in the U.S., and they’re moving on up. According to recent data from Technomic’s MenuMonitor, fries have shown a 46.5% growth on menus at better restaurants since 2010.

    Americans consumers are eating even more fries today than a few years ago. Technomic’s MenuMonitor finds an increase in the number of appetizer fry items on menus, as well as in the number of side fry items at fine-dining restaurants, up by 5% since 2013.

    Rather than using grapeseed oil or canola oil, some top chefs are frying their potatoes in duck fat or goose fat, even beef fat, each of which give frie a distinctive, luxurious flavor. Another trend…

    Loaded Fries

    Taking inspiration from the loaded baked potato, loaded fries continue to expand as a menu choice.

    “Fries as a base are a no-brainer,” says chef Charlie Baggs of Chicago-based Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations. “If you use fries like you use bread in a sandwich, you have the base, garnish, protein, sauce. If we look at fries like that—and you vary the color, temperature and textural elements—you can build exponential flavor systems.”

    Poutine, the beloved Canadian dish of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy, is currently the fastest-growing way of loading fries, according to Technomic.

    Regional or global flavor profiles also prevail, such as:

  • Berliner fries at Spitz in Los Angeles, topped with Berliner red sauce, tzatziki sauce, cabbage-carrot slaw, cucumber, tomato, feta, olives and pepperoncini—with a choice of meat as an option.
  • Paleek paneer fries at Potato Champion in Portland, Oregon, topped with curried spinach and paneer cheese, and cilantro chutney. The restaurant also services PB&J Fries, topped with satay sauce and a smoky chipotle-raspberry jam.
  •  
    The only limit is your imagination.

    Chef Brian Goodman of Sawyer’s Street Frites and The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland advises:

     
    “Anything that can be on pasta, you could also make into a frite dish.” His carbonara frites are inspired by the pasta favorite—with black pepper, pecorino cheese and pancetta pepato—and are a huge draw at Cleveland Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium.

    Fast-food versions of loaded fries have also been noted, often as limited-time offers, such as Wendy’s BBQ Pulled Pork Fries and Baconator Fries, topped with cheddar cheese sauce, bacon and shredded cheddar.

    Add Some Heat

    As Americans consume more and more hot sauce, spicy fries—like Five Guys’ Cajun fries—have become a popular option at chain restaurants.

    You can shake cayenne or hot sauce on your fries, or use sriracha ketchup, but here’s what the professionals are doing:

  • Kimchi fries can be found across the country, and recipes abound online.
  • King Noodle in Brooklyn, New York serves Mapo Tofu Chile Cheese Fries. combining the numbing heat of Sichuan peppercorns with chile and American cheese.
  • Log Cabin Inn in Harmony, Pennsylvania serves Fire Fries, with a hot-hot crunchy cayenne crust and a mouth-cooling ranch sauce alongside.
  • Furikake fries, Japanese style fries with sriracha mayonnaise, bonito and other Japanese ingredients, emulate Japanese street food.
  •  
    Now, how about some recipes?

     

    RECIPE #1: DAIGAKU IMO JAPANESE FRIES

    Daigaku imo is a Japanese dish of caramelized potatoes, traditionally made with sweet potatoes and black sesame seeds. The name translates as “university potatoes”: The dish was a popular snack at universities in Tokyo in the early 1900s.

    This recipe, which came to us from the Idaho Potato Commission, is from Chef Eric Yung of Elite Catering in Dayton, Ohio. He uses white russet potatoes and “tones the sweetness of the dish down to a kettle corn level.”

    Ingredients

  • 1 medium russet potato
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup or honey
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons gomashio (black sesame seed, salt and sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the sugar, syrup and soy sauce in a small pot until the mixture is reduced and nappe consistency. Nappe, a French term meaning “layer,” is a consistency that allows a sauce to coat the food evenly. It should be neither too thick nor too thin.

    2. SCRUB the potato well and cut into wedges, leaving the skin on for color (you can peel it if you want). Place the cut pieces in cold water. When ready to fry, drain the pieces and pat dry. Place in the fryer until cooked through and lightly browned.

    3. REMOVE the potato from the fryer, drain and combine with the syrup mixture. Toss to coat (you can stir the potato into the syrup); the potato will shine if coated properly. Sprinkle with some gomashio. Separate the potato pieces so they don’t get stuck to each other, and serve.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: CARNE ASADA FRIES

    This recipe, from food blogger Jonathan Melendez of The Candid Appetite, was also sent to us by the Idaho Potato Commission.

    In his take, Jonathan tops French fries with all the ingredients for Carne Asada (not unlike the Chinese-Peruvian dish, lomo saltado, photo #6). To save time, use store bought salsa and guacamole.

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into thin fries
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 pounds flap steak or skirt steak
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1-1/2 cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup guacamole
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • Optional: 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapeños
  • Optional: 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco (substitute mild feta*)
  •  

    Daigaku Imo Fries
    [4] Daiguko imo, recipe #1: a long-standing Japanese recipe that caramelizes the potatoes (photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission).

    Carne Asada Fries
    [5] Carne asada fries, fully loaded: recipe #2 (photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission).

    Carne Asado With Fries

    [6] Lomo saltado, a Chinese-Peruvian beef stir-fry, topped with French fries. Here’s the recipe from Skinny Taste.

     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. Fill it a bit less than halfway with vegetable oil. Attach a deep fryer thermometer and heat the oil to 350°F.

    2. PEEL the potatoes and slice them into thin fries. Immediately place the fries into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from turning brown, and to rinse away the excess starch. Drain the potatoes and dry them thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel. Make sure they’re completely dry; you don’t want any moisture in the oil.

    3. FRY the potatoes in batches until light golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir with a slotted spoon and transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Continue frying the rest of the fries. Heat the oil to 375°F and fry the potatoes a second time (also in batches) until deep golden brown and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the fries back to the wire rack and sprinkle with salt to taste.

    4. HEAT an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. In a large bowl, combine the flap steak with the salt, pepper, granulated garlic, onion, paprika, oregano and Worcestershire sauce. Mix until evenly seasoned. Cook the meat until charred on both sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for a few minutes before chopping.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Arrange the fried potatoes on an oven-safe platter, baking sheet or individual ramekins. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and place in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Top with chopped carne asada, sour cream, guacamole, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, cilantro and queso fresco. Serve Immediately.
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    *If the feta is to salty, soak the block in fresh water for 15 minutes. Rinse, taste, and soak again as necessary.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Breakfast Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Breakfast Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Time for breakfast: waffles, bacon and [frozen] yogurt (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

     

    This idea comes from the savvy bakers at King Arthur Flour: Breakfast Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches (as if you needed an excuse to have ice cream for breakfast!).

    Cook some waffles and bacon, and sandwich with frozen yogurt instead of topping them with an egg. We adapted the recipe by adding some bacon jam (buy it or make it) and maple syrup.

    RECIPE: BREAKFAST ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

    Ingredients Per Waffle Sandwich

  • 2 waffles
  • 1 cup frozen yogurt, slightly softened
  • 2-3 pieces cooked bacon, chopped
  • Optional: bacon jam (recipe)
  • Optional: maple syrup drizzle
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the waffles and let cool. When cool…

    2. SPREAD 1 cup of frozen yogurt over one waffle. If using bacon jam, spread it on the underside of the top waffle.

    3. COMBINE the two waffles into a sandwich, wrap in plastic and freeze for 20 minutes. When ready to serve…

     
    4. CUT the waffle into quarters, and roll the yogurt edge in the bacon.
     
     
    Take a look at more ice cream sandwich ideas from King Arthur Flour.
     
     
    HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF WAFFLES HAVE YOU HAD?

    American, Belgian, Hong Kong, Liège and more: Here are the different types of waffles.
     

    THE HISTORY OF WAFFLES

    The waffle emerges in the Neolithic Age as a rustic hotcake. The ancient Greeks cooked them between two hot plates.

    But it took until the 1200s for a creative French craftsman to create the “honeycomb” pattern we use today.

    Check out the history of waffles.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Chermoula Sauce With Chicken And Zucchini, Plates Or Wraps

    While it’s easy to find something fresh and delicious in the summer months, today’s tip is a good template for year-round dinners. Simply combining broiled or grilled protein (chicken, fish) and seasonal vegetables with a tasty sauce makes a healthful, flavorful dinner any time of year.

    Just make (or buy) the yogurt sauce and chermoula sauce in advance (see “What Is Chermoula, below).

    You can also use tzatziki—a cucumber-garlic-yogurt dip often found ready-made in with the other refrigerated dips—or its Indian relative, raita. Click on the links for recipes.

    We adapted this recipe from a Good Eggs meal kit. You plate the food individually, or pass a platter with flatbread (naan, pita, tortillas) to pass around.

     
    WHAT IS CHERMOULA SAUCE?

    Chermoula is a North African marinade and sauce popular in the cuisines of Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

    As with pesto recipes, there are countless regional variations both in ingredients and proportions. But chermoula usually starts with a mixture of fresh herbs (especially cilantro), olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic and salt.

    Flavorful chermoula is typically used with fish and seafood, and its green color adds brightness to what we personally refer to as “the ubiquitous beige and brown foods.” Variations include black pepper, fresh coriander, ground chiles, onion, pickled lemons and saffron, among others.

    Chermoula is also used to flavor meat, poultry and vegetable dishes. You can use it to coat fish and chicken before broiling; we love it as a condiment with lamb.

    Here’s the recipe for chermoula sauce.
     
     
    RECIPE: SMOKY CHICKEN & SUMMER SQUASH

    While we crave the smoky, summery flavor of food off the grill, we don’t have access to one in our small city apartment. Our broiler is our substitute. As a time saver (and to avoid cleaning the broiler), we often buy pre-broiled chicken breasts at Trader Joe’s.

    You can make the chermoula and yogurt sauces up to 3 days in advance. You can use the chermoula or yogurt sauces on the salad in addition to the wraps, or pick another salad dressing of choice.

    Ingredients

  • Chermoula herb sauce (substitute pesto)
  • Yogurt sauce
  • Flatbread wraps
  • Summer squash: yellow, zucchini or combination*
  • Spring onions†
  • Marinated‡ chicken breasts (or boneless thighs)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Romaine, washed salad mix, or salad ingredients of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MARINATE the chicken at least 30 minutes before cooking, to 2 hours or overnight. Mix all ingredients of the marinade in plastic zip-lock bag. Add the chicken and make sure that every piece is covered evenly. Marinate in a fridge for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours or, better yet, overnight. Place the chicken and all of the marinade in a baking dish.

    2. PREHEAT the broiler and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Wrap the flatbread in aluminum foil. Bring the sauces from the fridge and place in serving bowls to warm, and set aside.

    3. RINSE and slice the squash and spring onions at an angle, into coins. Toss with a pinch of salt and some olive oil and arrange in a single layer over half of the sheet pan. Place the chicken on the other half, leaving space in between each piece. Drizzle the marinade over the chicken if desired, but don’t reuse any protein marinade (uncooked marinade can retain bacteria from the raw proteins).

    4. BROIL on the top rack of the oven for 8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables have browned. Then, place foil-wrapped bread on the bottom rack of the oven to heat for 2 minutes, or until warmed through. While the chicken is broiling…

    5. WASH the romaine and prepare any other salad ingredients of choice.

    6. REMOVE both the sheet pan and bread from the oven. Plate and serve chicken and veggies with a dollop of yogurt sauce, a drizzle of chermoula, and warm lavash!

    ________________

    *Thinner is better: Thinner squash are more tender than fatter ones, and better suited for rolling in the flatbread.

    †Spring onions substitute: Spring onions are not the same as green onions/scallions. They are immature bulbs of red or yellow onions, with bulbs about 1 inch bulbs in diameter and green tops that can either be eaten fresh or cooked. If you can’t find them, pick the smallest yellow onions from the bin.

    ‡Easy marinade: Some Americans have defaulted to marinating chicken in bottled Italian salad dressing, which may be convenient but is pricier and less elegant in flavor than an easy homemade marinade. Just combine oil, acid (vinegar or citrus juice), minced garlic, salt and pepper, plus a bit of honey or maple syrup for a nuanced sweetness. As a guide, start with 6 tablespoons olive oil, 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice or wine vinegar and flavorings of choice: 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons honey, 3 to 6 cloves of minced garlic, and to taste, a few dashes of hot sauce, salt and pepper.
    ________________

     

    Grilled Chicken-Zucchini Wrap
    [1] Chicken-zucchini with wraps; or serve them plain (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Chermoula Sauce
    [2] Chermoula sauce (photo courtesy Off The Meat Hook).

    Summer Squash
    [3] Green and yellow summer squash are “fraternal twins” in the same species (photo courtesy Produce On Parade, which has a delicious recipe for both squash in a green curry sauce).

    Yellow Crookneck Squash
    [5] Crookneck yellow squash can often be found at farmers markets (photo courtesy Only Foods), which has lots more information about them.

    Ball Summer Squash

    [6] Eight-ball squash, the size of softballs, are an heirloom variety (some are hybrids), can be found at some markets—or grow your own with seeds from Burpee.

     
     
    YELLOW SUMMER SQUASH & ZUCCHINI: THE DIFFERENCE

    In terms of cooking and eating, there is no difference; although some find that yellow summer squash (straight neck or crook neck) to be a bit sweeter.

    Both belong to the genus and species Cucurbita pepo, which originated in Mexico. Their species siblings include winter squash such as the field pumpkin and acorn squash, among others. All are subspecies of the pepo species.

    How can these latter thick-skinned winter squashes be siblings of the delicate-skinned summer squash?

    Summer squash are picked while still immature and thin-skinned, so that the skin and and seeds are still soft and edible. They also grow on bush-type plants that do not spread across the ground, like winter squash and pumpkin. A few healthy and well-maintained plants produce abundant yields.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches & An Ice Cream Sandwich Social

    Ice Cream Sandwiches
    Adapt the concept of an ice cream social to a DIY ice cream sandwich social (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

    Vanilla Milk
    This vanilla milk is made with honey. Here’s the recipe from A Well Fed Life. You can use your sweetener of choice (ours is Splenda).

    Coffee Milk

    An easy way to make coffee milk: Just add coffee syrup, as in this recipe from Cocktail Crafty.

     

    July is National Ice Cream Month. In our neck of the woods, gourmet ice cream sandwiches have been the rage for a while.

    What makes them “gourmet,” beyond the super-premium ice cream, is the sandwiching—usually homemade cookies in chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter and snickerdoodle.

    When we make our own cookies for homemade ice cream sandwiches, we make chocolate-dipped graham crackers. When people ask what they can bring, we assign them a batch of cookies.

    There’s plenty of time to invite friends and family for a casual ice cream social* this weekend or next. You set out the fixings, and let guests make their own sandwiches.

    Then, make up your menu:

  • Cookies: 3″ diameter, plus mini-cookies if desired*
  • Waffles, quartered*
  • Ice cream
  • Sprinkles, mini-chips, chopped nuts
  •  
    Limit the cookie, ice cream and garnish choices the first time out. See what gets consumed most; then you can vary the choices next time.
     
    UTENSILS

  • Ice trays/bins for ice cream
  • Scoops, spoons, spatulas for ice cream
  • Large plates or trays for adding garnishes
  • Paper plates and napkins
  • Tablecloths
  • Trays
  •  
    BEVERAGES

    What beverages go best with ice cream sandwiches?

    Youngsters might clamor for soft drinks, but coffee and tea, hot and iced, go best.

    You know your guests: Are they insistent on beer and wine, or would they be happy with an iced coffee—with a shot of vodka or coffee liqueur?

    Consider these options, each of which can be enjoyed plain or with a shot:

  • Iced coffee
  • Iced tea
  • Vanilla milk and/or coffee milk (recipe follows)
  •  
    RECIPE: VANILLA MILK or COFFEE MILK

    Ingredients Per 8-Ounce Glass

  • 1 cup milk (0%, 1%, 2%) or nondairy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or substitute
  • For coffee milk: black coffee to taste
  • ________________

    *To estimate how many cookies or waffle quarters you’ll need, multiply 2 cookies/sandwich times 2 sandwiches/guest.

     
    ICE CREAM SOCIAL HISTORY
     
    An ice cream social is a party where people come to eat ice cream.

    Ice cream socials date back to 18th-century America, long before the dawn of electric freezers—not to mention electric ice cream makers. The ice cream was hand-cranked.

    While a laborious undertaking, ice cream socials were very popular, traditional gatherings. According to Wikipedia:

  • The first ice cream social in America was in 1744, when Maryland governor Thomas Bladen served ice cream for a dinner party.
  • The first ice cream social in the White House was in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson.
  • When ice cream became more available to the middle classes in the mid-1800s, schools and churches began to host ice cream socials. Those held outdoors by the well-to-do became known as ice cream gardens.
  • Some churches and communities still hold ice cream socials today, but an ice cream social is an easy party to throw at home—no “community effort” required.
  • If you have neither garden nor other outdoor space, you can still host a delightful ice cream social.
  •  
    ICE CREAM TRIVIA: THE FIRST FLAVOR

    Many people would guess that vanilla was the first ice cream flavor, but that is far from the case.

    You have to think back to the origins of ice cream, around 2000 B.C.E. in China, when the first ice cream was made from snow, flavored with fruit syrups.

    The concept reached the Middle East via traders, and Alexander the Great brought it to Greece after conquering Persia in 331 B.C.E., where it became a treat for the nobility, who had the servants to fetch snow and ice from the mountains and turn it into dessert. The shaved ice and snow were combined with fruit toppings, honey and nuts—the first sundae, perhaps.

    Vanilla, which originated in Mexico and was used to flavor the cacao drink, didn’t become a flavor in Europe until the 1600s. As in Mexico, only the wealthy could afford it.

    Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing vanilla to the United States in the late 1700s. He became familiar with vanilla at the court of King Louis XVI, while serving as U.S. minister to France (from 1785 to 1789). When he returned to the U.S., he brought 200 vanilla beans with him, and his cook had learned to make ice cream.

    Here’s the history of vanilla.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Grown Up Snow Cones

    Remember your childhood summers, and how happy a snow cone made you? The rainbow snow cone (photo #3) was our personal favorite.

    Alas, when one’s palate evolves, those overly-sweet syrups from street vendors no longer bring pleasure. And the day-glow colors? Sheesh!

    One way we’ve worked around this is to make adult snow cones with a better syrup like Monin or Torani—still pretty sweet—combined with a matching liqueur, in a 1:1 proportion.

    If you have an ice crushing machine or a snow cone machine, it’s a great idea for a casual summer cocktail party.

    And then, there’s the iced coffee snow cone, a riff on one of America‘s favorite warm-weather beverages.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Nuggets Market—12 locations in northern California.

    You can have a family-friendly iced espresso, or add Kahlúa or your favorite coffee liqueur.

    Instead of coffee, you can make a variation with chai concentrate (we use Original Oregon Chai Tea Latte Concentrate), or with strong-brewed tea.

    Serve them in a vessel of choice. Since we never got around to buying paper cones, we use a rocks glass and a spoon.

    RECIPE: ESPRESSO SNOW CONES

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 shots espresso or chai coffee mate
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Coffee Mate (flavor of choice, e.g. cinnamon, hazelnut, vanilla)
  • 4 cups shaved ice
  • Optional: coffee liqueur
  • Garnish: whipped cream, chocolate shavings
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the 2 espresso, vanilla extract, Coffee Mate and optional liqueur, and let chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Once the mixture is chilled…

    2. SHAVE the ice. Fill a blender halfway with ice cubes and use the “crush” setting. Don’t fill the blender more than halfway or the top ice won’t get crushed.

    3. FILL the serving cups one-third full with whipped cream. Add the ice, pour the espresso mixture over ice, top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF SNOW CONES

    Snow cones are the oldest form of ice cream—if you substitute a bowl or cup for the a cylindrical cone, which came much later (the history of ice cream).

    The original “ice cream,” made in China some 4,000 years ago, consisted of flavoring snow with syrup. Fast forward to the 1850s, and you have ice shaved from large blocks into a paper cone or cup, topped with syrup.

    Shaved Ice In 11th Century Japan

    In 11th-century Japan, kakigori, a shaved ice dessert, is believed to have already existed. It was made from ice harvested in winter and stored in ice houses: a luxury available only to the wealthy nobility.

    Ice was shaved into a metal bowl and eaten with a sweet sap from vines, hydrangeas, and ivy, with some golden syrup on top.

    Around the 19th century, with the ice-making technology of the Industrial Revolution, kakigori was finally affordable to the general public.

    The first kakigori shop was opened in 1872. The ice was flavored with fruit syrup, and optionally topped with adjuki beans and sweetened condensed milk.

    Kakigori became a common treat, leading to modern versions of Japanese shaved ice and Hawaiian shave ice [source].

    Snowballs In 19th Century Baltimore

    On the other side of the world, in the U.S., historians trace the snow cone to Baltimore in the 1850s. When blocks of ice first began to be manufactured commercially, ice wagons would transport the huge blocks from factories to businesses—not just locally, but interstate.

     

    Espresso Granita
    [1] An espresso snow cone, a fun alternative to iced coffee (photo courtesy Nuggets Market).

    Snow Cones
    [2] Classic snow cones: super-sweet, in day-glow colors (photo courtesy La Estrella Bounce).

    Snow Cone

    [3] Favorite childhood treat: a rainbow snow cone (photo Katlin Cockrell | Pinterest).

    Snow Cone

    [4] A Baltimore specialty: egg custard snowball with marshmallow topping (photo Scott Suchman | Baltimore Magazine).

     

    On hot days in Baltimore, on the route from New York to Florida, children would run up to the ice wagons and ask for small scrapings of ice. Mothers began to top them with syrups, and called them snowballs.

    One of the easiest toppings to make at home was egg custard, a simple mix of eggs, vanilla and sugar (hold the cream!). It gave the “snow” a creaminess, closer to ice cream than the bright-colored fruit flavors that subsequently became popular.

    Sources name Baltimore as the home of the “egg custard snowball,” where it remains a prevalent summer snack (photo #4—it’s now often topped with melted marshmallows).

    By the 1870s, Baltimore theaters would sell snowballs in warm months. According to Wikipedia, “Signs in theaters instructing patrons to finish their snowballs before coming in to the second act are the earliest tangible evidence of snowballs.”

    Around the city, snowballs were served on newspaper, but in the classy theaters, butchers’ boats were used. In the 1890s, patents for electric ice shavers were filed as Baltimoreans sought faster alternatives to hand-shaved ice.

    Snow Cones In Texas

    As the recipe spread, the name evolved. Plop the shaved ice into a paper cone or cup and call it a snow cone.

    In 1919, Samuel Bert, who would invent an ice-crushing machine the following year, sold snow cones at the State Fair of Texas. But ice continued to be largely hand-shaved until Ernest Hansen of New Orleans patented the first block-ice shaving machine in 1934.

    According to Wikipedia, during the Great Depression, snowballs became more readily available around the U.S. A cheap treat, they were nicknamed Hard Times Sundae and Penny Sunday.

    Hansen’s ice shaver produced ice that had the consistency of snow, unlike the other ice shavers, which produced rough, crunchy ice (think granita)—a true snow cone [source].

    With milk rationing during World War II, snow cones became a go-to icy treat.

    Today’s snow cone syrups, available in dozens of flavors, have one thing in common: They’re all made in vibrant—not necessarily natural—colors.

      

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