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Archive for Father’s Day

TIP OF THE DAY: A Hard Cider Party For Halloween

Still looking for a Halloween activity?

How about a hard cider party? It’s adult, it’s fun, and it’s an opportunity to taste and compare more hard ciders than most of us get to do.

While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff. It’s an alcoholic drink that that many prefer to beer—and if you look at the explosive sales figures, Americans are also discovering its charms: It’s the fastest-growing alcohol category.
 
WHAT IS HARD CIDER

When apples are pressed and bottled, you have apple juice—also called apple cider in the U.S., although in other countries apple cider refers to hard cider.

Hard cider is made from fermented apple juice; over a few months, the sugars in the juice turn into alcohol. As with craft beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.

  • Hard cider uses a different blend of apples than apple juice. In fact, many more apple varieties are used to create a fine cider. The import Magners Irish Cider is made from 17 varieties of apples!
  • Pears are also turned into cider, called perry in the U.K.
  • The juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, and afterward is blended, filtered and carbonated. The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples.
  • Many cider apples are sour, and can’t substitute for eating apples.
  • Like wine, cider it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants; it’s naturally gluten-free and is less filling than beer.
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    PLANNING YOUR CIDER PARTY

    Beyond Halloween, you can also have a cider tasting during Thanksgiving cocktail hour, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and other celebrations.

    1. INVITE friends today: Halloween is eight days away.

    2. PLAN the number of ciders based on the number of people. If you’re serving 8 or more different ciders, estimate one bottle per four proper.

    3. PARE the list. There are many different styles of cider, and ciders from different countries (England, France, Ireland, Spain and others). Each country has its own preferred style, as you’ll see in the Top Artisan Ciders section below. You can’t try them all in one night—but you can have subsequent tastings to try the rest.

  • We recommend sticking with American cider brands for the first event. You want to try a good representation of artisan ciders. There are so many different types of local cider: dry , sweet, barrel-aged, At the next event, you can taste the winners against the Europeans.
  • Similarly, save the barrel-aged, flavored ciders (apple pie, cherry, honey, raspberry, orange, etc.), ice cider (like ice wine, it’s pressed from naturally frozen fruit), perry and spiced ciders for next time.
  • Look for Angry Orchard, Crispin, Strongbow and Woodchuck, for starters; they’re national brands. You can create an entire tasting just by gathering up the different expressions of each brand. For example, Angry Orchard features Apple Ginger, Crisp Apple, Green Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple, Stone Dry, plus a fall seasonal cider, Cinn-Full Apple.
  • Artisan ciders tend to be distributed in the limited area where they are produced—not just because small companies lack sales and marketing heft, but because each brand needs to go through approval of each state liquor authority. It’s daunting, but we’ve listed some highly-rated ciders below.
  • Do not mistakenly pick up a flavored apple beer, like Redd’s Apple Cider. These beverages are artificially flavored, and don’t belong on the same table as cider, an all-natural drink.
  • Do have some apple cider (apple juice) for designated drivers. If you buy a few different kinds, they can have their own “tasting.”
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    4. PLAN the eats. You can serve hard cider with any snack or food you’d serve with beer, but the sweetness of cider allows you to serve it with desserts, too.

  • For snacks: charcuterie and hearty cheeses.
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    Angry Orchard Cider

    Crispin Cider

    Woodchuck Hard Cider

    Strongbow Cider

    [1] Angry Orchard, owned by Boston Brewing Company (parent of Samuel Adams beer), is the nation’s #1 cider brand (photo courtesy Boston Brewing). [2] Crispin makes a variety of styles, as well as perry (pear cider) under the Fox Barrel brand (photo courtesy Crispin Hard Cider Co.). [3] Woodchuck, another popular national brand (photo courtesy Fletcher6 | Wikipedia). [4] Strongbow cider is produced by Heineken (photo courtesy Heineken USA).

  • For main courses: chicken, pork, sausages, soups, stews, fondue (you can substitute hard cider for wine in most recipes and drink rest of the cider along with the meal).
  • For dessert: Apple desserts pair beautifully. We like bread pudding, cobbler or crisp (the difference), pie and apple-topped cheesecake.
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    TOP ARTISAN CIDERS

    Here are some of the nation’s top-rated artisan ciders: Brand, variety and style. “Crisp/Dry” is the most common style. “Funky” refers to a style popular in France, with [what we really enjoy] barnardy aromas. They can also be crisp and dry. Off Dry/Semi-Dry is the classic English style: sweetness of fruit followed by a dry finish.

    Dessert ciders are sweet, like dessert wine; although off dry/semi-dry and crisp ciders can also be paired with desserts.

  • CALIFORNIA: Bonny Doon, Querry (sweet)
  • MASSACHUSETTS: Bantam, Wunderkind (off dry/semi-dry)
  • MICHIGAN: Virtue Cider, Lapinette (funky style)
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Farnum Hill, Extra Dry (crisp/dry style)
  • NEW YORK: Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style), Doc’s Draft, Original Hard Apple Cider (off dry/semi-dry), Eve’s Cidery, Darling Creek (off dry/semi-dry), Redbyrd Orchard, Starblossom (funky style), Wölffer Estate, 139 Dry Rosé Cider (off dry/semi-dry)(
  • OREGON: E.Z. Orchards, Cidre Dry (funky style), Reverend Nat’s, Revival Hard Apple (crisp/dry), Traditions Ciderworks, Riverwood (off dry/semi-dry)
  • TEXAS: Argus Cidery, 2013 Perennial (funky style), Austin Eastciders, Gold Top (funky style)
  • VERMONT: Eden, Sparkling Cider, Dry (off dry/semi-dry
  • VIRGINIA: Foggy Ridge Cider, First Fruit (crisp/dry style)
  • WASHINGTON: Snowdrift Cider Co., Orchard Select (crisp/dry style)
  • WISCONSIN: AeppelTreow, Appely Brut; Bellwether Hard Cider, King Baldwin (crisp/dry style)
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    RECIPE: Sparkling Pear Cocktail

    La Poire Sparkling Cocktail

    America's Favorite Pear

    [1] La Poire sparkling cocktail (photo courtesy Grey Goose). [2] America’s favorite pear, the Bartlett (photo courtesy CookThink). There are also red Bartlett and d’Anjou are available in green and red varieties.

     

    This week we had a bottle of Angry Orchard’s Knotty Pear Cider at lunch, and it reminded us that fall is also a time for all things pear.

    For a celebration, toast or other special occasion—or weekend chillaxing—this cocktail from Grey Goose is a star. Easy to make, it combines pear and citrus with sweet Moscato. You can use other slightly sweet sparkling wine such as Asti Spumante.

    If it isn’t a special occasion, don’t go out of your way to find the perfect garnish. Or a Champagne flute.

     
    RECIPE: SPARKLING PEAR VODKA COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 6 Drinks

  • 6 parts Grey Goose La Poire
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small pear, ideally Anjou or Bartlett*, red or green
  • 1 bottle sparkling Moscato or other sparkling wine, chilled
  • Garnish options: baby orchid, crystallized ginger, sliced star fruit
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    Preparation

    1. PEEL and core the pear and cut into 1/4-inch dice.

    2. PLACE the lemon juice, sugar, pear and Grey Goose La Poire in a bowl. Stir well to combine until the sugar is fully dissolved.

    2. DIVIDE the pear mixture into six Champagne flutes or wine glasses. Fill each chilled glass with Moscato.

    3. GARNISH and serve.
     
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    *A juicier pear variety will accentuate the pear flavors. Here are the different types of pears.

     

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Whimsical Mac & Cheese Recipe

    Fully Loaded Mac & Cheese

    Baked Macaroni & Cheese

    Take your choice: innovative Mac & Cheese (photo courtesy Chef Eric LeVine) or a conventional preparation (photo courtesy Dietz and Watson).

     

    What’s on this plate?

  • A base of macaroni and cheese.
  • Surrounded with a ring of duck and mushrooms in hoisin sauce.
  • Topped with 5 jumbo grilled, bacon-wrapped shrimp.
  • Garnished with fresh rosemary (substitute chopped green onions or chives.)
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    This may be just the thing for a fun food-loving dad on Father’s Day.

    The concept is from one of our favorite innovative chefs, Eric LeVine.

    Chef Eric is the author of Small Bites Big Flavor: Simple, Savory, And Sophisticated Recipes For Entertaining.

    This imaginative cookbook is written for home chefs who want to expand their repertoire with fun and unconventional dishes.

    The 100+ recipes also include mid-sized, larger and sweet bites, and even some signature cocktails. It demonstrates how much fun it can be to prepare, present, share, and of course, eat food.
     
    MORE FUN MAC & CHEESE RECIPES

    These are a bit more conventional, yet still fun food:

  • Apple, Texas & Truffle Mac & Cheese Recipes
  • DIY Mac & Cheese Party Bar
  • Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Mac & Cheese Potato Skins
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Steak Grilling Tips

     
      

    Raw Ribeye Steak

    Grilled Ribeye Steak

    Grilled Filet Mignon

    Steak Thermometer

     

    Grilling steaks for Father’s Day? Check out these tips from Wolfgang’s Steak House.

    Wolfgang’s is owned by a father and son who started with one location in Manhattan, dry-aging their own beef. Now they have four Manhattan restaurants and a total of 12 worldwide, from Beverly Hills to Hawaii to Korea and Japan.

    Executive chef Amiro Cruz wants you to help you home-cook your steaks like the professionals do. Here are his tips to cook a perfect steak:

    1. Buy USDA prime cuts. Yes, USDA prime is the most expensive beef and the very best you can buy. You get what you pay for: a truly superior taste and texture. Here are the different grades of beef.

    2. Buy for rib eye steaks. Rib eye is the connoisseur’s favorite cut, considered the most flavorful.

    3. Use only kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper for seasoning. When you have such a high-quality piece of meat, you don’t need marinades and herbs: You want to taste the essence of that steak. You don’t need to add any oil or other fat. The grill will be hot enough so the meat won’t stick.

    4. Don’t worry about the temperature of the raw steak. You may have been told to bring the meat to room temperature before grilling, but it doesn’t matter. Chef Cruz takes his steaks straight from the fridge, at 41°F (which is what the FDA recommends).

    5. Get the grill blazing hot. Once the grill is hot, clean it with a kitchen towel dipped in oil, making sure to handle the towel with a pair of tongs so you don’t burn yourself. Then, throw on meat. Steakhouse chefs prefer to char the steak. Some people don’t like a ton of char, and you might be nervous about burning the meat; but charring gives steak the right flavor. Once the first side is appropriately charred (after about four minutes for medium rare), flip it to the other side and repeat.

    6. Use a meat thermometer. Simply touching the meat to see if it’s done is the technique professional chefs use. But if you grill steak only occasionally, a meat thermometer is a foolproof way to know exactly how done your steak is. Rare is 130°F, medium rare is 135°F, medium is 140°F and so on, with five-degree increases. Don’t have a meat thermometer? Run to the nearest hardware store or kitchen goods department, or order one online.

    7. Rest the meat. Once it’s done cooking, don’t dig in right away. Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes so the juices inside can distribute. If you cut it right away, they will drain out and you’ll lose the juiciness.

    8. Cut against the grain. If you’re slicing a steak to serve more than one person, be sure to cut against the grain. While cutting against the grain is more important for tougher cuts like London broil, even with a top steak it makes for a softer chew. Just look for the lines that run through the meat and cut perpendicular to them.
     
    Don’t forget to put some fresh vegetables on the grill. Even people who don’t like to eat raw bell peppers, onions, etc. enjoy them grilled.

    Here are the best vegetables to grill.
     
    HOW MANY DIFFERENT CUTS OF STEAK HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out the photos in our Beef Glossary.

     
    PHOTO CAPTIONS: Top: A raw rib eye steak, a connoisseur’s favorite (photo Margo Ouillat Photography | IST). Second: A long-bone rib eye on the grill (photo courtesy Allen Bros). Third: Grilled, bacon-wrapped filet mignon and grilled radicchio (photo courtesy Omaha Steaks). Bottom: Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness (photo courtesy Habor).

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake Doughnuts For Father’s Day

    National Doughnut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June, but there’s an even better reason to make doughnuts on the third Sunday: Father’s Day.

    If Dad loves doughnuts, get up an hour earlier and bake a batch for his breakfast.

    Yes, bake them—no frying required with these cake-like doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    To bake doughnuts you’ll need a doughnut pan to hold their shape. If you don’t want to invest in one (they’re $16.95 at King Arthur Flour), see if you can borrow one.

    You can serve them plain, with a sugar coating or with a chocolate glaze.

    What could be better? We added crisp, chopped bacon to top the doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    RECIPE: BAKED DOUGHNUTS, CAKE-STYLE

    Prep time is 20 to 30 minutes; bake time is 15 minutes; icing time is 5 minutes, then a few minutes to let the icing set.

    Ingredients For 12 Doughnuts

  • 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional: 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder (substitute instant coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter (substitute 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
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    For The Optional Sugar Coating

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
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    For The Optional Chocolate Icing

  • 1 cup good chocolate bar*, chopped (substitute chocolate chips)
  • 4 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
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    Chocolate Fudge Doughnut

    Bacon Doughnuts

    Apple Cider Donuts

    Top: It’s easy to bake doughnuts (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). Center: We added chopped bacon as a garnish (photo courtesy d’Artagnan | Facebook). Bottom: Don’t want chocolate? These apple cider doughnuts pre-date chocolate in history (photo Karo Syrup).

  • Optional garnish: crumbled bacon, chopped nuts, dragées, pretzel pieces, sprinkles, etc.
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    Plus

  • Doughnut pans
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    *If your palate knows great chocolate, a good bar (Chocolate, Dove, Green & Black’s, Godiva, Guittard, Lindt, Perugina, Scharffen Berger, etc.) is better than chips—unless you use Guittard chocolate chips, our favorite.

     

    Lemon Glazed Donut

    Pretzel Donuts

    Top: For a lemon glaze, add a teaspoon of lemon juice and grated peel to the icing (photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com). Bottom: Another sweet-and-salty doughnut, topped with pretzels (photo courtesy ACozyKitchen.com).

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have two pans, just bake the batter in two batches.

    2. WHISK together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

    3. WHISK together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and vinegar in a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl. You may notice some curdling of the milk, which is normal.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter or vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. There’s no need to beat the batter; just make sure everything is well-combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling them between 3/4 and full.

    5. BAKE the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove the doughnuts from the oven; after 30 seconds, loosen their edges, turn the pan upside down over a rack, and gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.

    5a. For sugar-coated doughnuts, immediately shake the doughnuts in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; add 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder to the sugar for an additional touch of chocolate.

    6. COOL the doughnuts completely before icing. Combine the chocolate chips and milk or half-and-half in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Heat until the half-and-alf is steaming and starting to bubble. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chips have melted and the icing is smooth.

    7. DIP the top of each doughnut in the icing; or spread icing over the top. Garnish as desired.
     
    A BIT OF DOUGHNUT HISTORY

    Although dough was fried in oil as far back as ancient Rome, food historians generally credit the invention of deep-fried yeast doughnuts to Northern Europeans in Medieval times. The word “doughnut” refers to the small, round, nutlike shape of the original doughnuts—the hole came later. “Donut” is an American phonetic rendering from the 20th century.

     

    Doughnuts were introduced to America in the 17th century by Dutch immigrants, who called them oliekoecken, oil cakes (i.e., fried cakes). In the New World, the doughnut makers replaced their frying oil with lard, which was plentiful and produced a tender and greaseless crust.

    Other immigrants brought their own doughnut variations: The Pennsylvania Dutch and the Moravians brought fastnachts to Lancaster, Pennsylavnia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, respectively; the French brought beignets to New Orleans.

    The word “dough-nut” first appeared in English in the 17th century. The word evolved from dough-nut to doughnut to donut. The airy, yeast-leavened dough-nuts (like Krispy today’s Kremes), were joined by cake doughnuts, leavened with baking powder or baking soda (like Dunkin Donuts).

    By 1845, recipes for “dough-nuts” appeared in American cookbooks. Chemical leavening (baking powder) was substituted for yeast to produce a more cakelike, less breadlike texture; and inexpensive tin doughnut cutters with holes came onto the market.

    Why a hole? For efficiency, the cooked doughnuts were staked on wooden rods.
     
    The Dawn Of National Doughnut Day

    Spell it doughnut or donut, the holiday was created in 1938 by the Salvation Army, to honor the women who served donuts to servicemen in World War I (at that time, it was called the Great War).

      

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