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Archive for July 4th/Independence Day

RECIPE: Tricolor Jello Fingers For St. Pat’s, July 4th, Halloween, Christmas & More

Green Jello Squares

Jell-O Treats

Tricolor Jello Mold

Top: St. Patrick’s Day themed Jell-O from TheModernRoost.com used food color to create the darkest green layer. Center: The recipe for this Halloween Jell-O from SomethingNewForDinner.com. Bottom: Christmas Jell-O from Due Forni | Las Vegas.

 

You’re never to old to enjoy a fancy Jell-O dish. Call it retro, call it Jell-O art; just call it to the table.

Multi-layer jello finger food (no fork or spoon required), called finger Jell-O, ribbon Jell-O or Jell-O squares, is the type of food fun that the family can look forward to with each holiday. Simply match the colors to the occasion.

You can make as many layers, and as many colors, as you like. The Pioneer Woman makes an even snazzier version. So does the Brown-Eyed Baker.

You can slice this into what is known as “finger Jello,” because you can pick it up and eat it with your fingers. Extra gelatin is added to the Jell-O to create a firm texture.

You can make it in any colors; for example:

  • Green and white for St. Patrick’s Day (one layer of Lime Jell-O, one layer of Melon Jell-O)
  • Red white and blue for Memorial Day and Independence Day
  • Blue and white for Chanukah
  • Orange and Peach or Black Cherry for Halloween
  • Black Cherry red and Raspberry red for Valentine’s Day
  • Team colors for the Super Bowl (use food color to tint as needed)
  •  
    Check out the different flavors and colors of Jell-O.
     
    You can make a diet version with sugar-free Jell-O, and swap the sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk that you sweeten with a non-caloric sweetener.

    RECIPE: JELL-O SQUARES

    In this recipe, adapted from Taste Of Home, the Jell-O is firmed into “finger Jell-O” or “Jell-O squares” with the addition of extra gelatin. Prep time is 30 minutes, plus 90 minutes chilling/firming time.

    Make the recipe on a day when you can let each mixture come to room temperature at its own pace, and firm up each layer in the fridge for more than 30 minutes. Don’t skimp on the cooling and firming times, or you won’t be pleased with the results.
     
    Ingredients For 32 Pieces

  • 1 box (6 ounces) Lime Jell-O
  • 1 box (6 ounces) Melon Fusion Jell-O
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • Boiling water, cold water
  • Preparation

    1. SPRAY a 9×13-inch baking pan (ideally Pyrex) with nonstick spray.

    2. MAKE the bottom layer: In a medium bowl, mix the green Jell-O with 1 envelope of the unflavored gelatin. Add 2 cups boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour into the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer, until firm.

    3. MAKE the center layer: In a clean bowl, mix the sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup boiling water. In a separate small bowl, sprinkle 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin over ½ cup cold water. Let the gelatin stand for 4 minutes and then add ½ cup boiling water to dissolve it. Add to the condensed milk mixture and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature and pour over the bottom layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer, until firm.

    5. MAKE the top layer. In a medium bowl, mix the red Jell-O with 1 envelope of the unflavored gelatin. Add 2 cups boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour over the middle layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer, until firm.

    6. SLICE into individual pieces, plate and serve.

     

    THE HISTORY OF JELL-O

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory, gelatin-like food made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the dawn of commercial gelatin. It was very difficult to prepare, relying only on the natural gelatin found in the meat to make the aspic set.

    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. But the concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a dessert product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife May named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    Wait tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience. In 1899 he sold his formula to a townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. The Jell-O itself was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York.

    Alas, sales were slow and one day, Wait sold Sam Nico the business for $35. In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising campaign, and by 1902 sales were $250,000. In 1923 the owners created the Jell-O Company, Inc., which replaced the Genesee Pure Foods Company. The purpose was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930.

     

    Old Strawberry Jello Box

    Strawberry Jello Box

    Top: A box of strawberry Jell-O from the 1890s, courtesy eBaumsWorld.com. Bottom: Strawberry Jell-O today. Photo courtesy Kraft Foods.

     

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. There’s a Jell-O Gallery Museum in Le Roy, New York.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Pool Party Punch

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    Match your cocktail to the pool (the miniature
    beach balls
    are plastic, made for doll houses).
    Photo courtesy Pinnacle Vodka.

     

    For your next pool party, make this Pool Party Punch, an tasty and fun idea from Pinnacle Vodka.

    Pinnacle made it with their Original Vodka; you can make it your own with a flavored vodka. If you prefer, you can substitute gin or tequila.
     
    RECIPE: POOL PARTY PUNCH

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part vodka
  • 2 parts lemonade
  • Splash of Blue Curaçao (we used DeKuyper)
  • Garnish: fruit of choice (we used blueberries on cocktail picks)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX ingredients and serve over ice. It’s that simple! Here’s a video with the full punch bowl recipe.

    MOCKTAIL VERSION

    Make a mocktail by exchanging the vodka for 7 UP, Sprite or white cranberry juice. Use blue food coloring instead of Blue Curaçao.

    And for garnish, perhaps a red Swedish Fish?

    Here’s the mocktail recipe.

     

    WHAT IS BLUE CURAÇAO

    Curaçao is an orange liqueur made from the dried peels of the laraha (LA-ra-ha) citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles (southeast of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean).

    The laraha is a de-evolved descendant of the Valencia orange, which was brought over from Spain in 1527. It did not thrive in the Southern Caribbean climate. The oranges that the trees produced were small, fibrous, bitter and inedible. The trees were abandoned, and the citrus fruit they produced evolved from a bright orange color into the green laraha.

    When life gives you bitter fruit, distill it! It turned out that while the flesh of the laraha was inedible, the dried peel remained as aromatic and pleasing as its cultivated forebear. Experimentation led to the distillation of Curaçao liqueur from the peel.

    The distilled liqueur is clear. Some brands are colored blue or bright orange to create color in cocktails. The color adds no flavor.

     

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    Blue Curaçao. The clear orange liqueur is colored blue. It is also made in an orange-colored version.

     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ORANGE LIQUEUR

    Here’s how the different types of orange liqueur differ; including Curaçao and triple sec, which are generic terms, plus brands like Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Gran Gala.

      

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    PRODUCT: Watermelon “Keg” Tap With Watermelon Agua Fresca

    A melon tap turns any large, seedless watermelon into an punch bowl, ideal for filling with watermelon-based beverages. Simply hollow out the melon, insert the tap and fill it with your beverage of choice. In addition to a refreshing drink, you give guests the fun of dispensing their drinks from a watermelon. (In the fall, you can do the same with a pumpkin.)

    For starters, fill your watermelon “punch bowl” with watermelon agua fresca. It’s a memorable finale to the summer.

    Agua fresca is Spanish for “fresh water.” In culinary terms, it refers to sweetened, fruit-flavored water. Like lemonade, it is noncarbonated and nonalcoholic.

    But you can keep a bottle of spirits next to the melon dispenser for guests who’d like a shot or two. May we suggest watermelon vodka? You can find watermelon-flavored vodka from Smirnoff, Three Olives, Pinnacle (Cucumber Watermelon), UV (Salty Watermelon) and others.

    The tap in the photo is the PROfreshionals Melon Tap, $9.99. It includes “feet” that insert into the bottom of the melon to keep it stable. Another variation, from Final Touch, is designed to look like a beer tap handle. It’s $19.99.

     

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    Turn a watermelon into a punch bowl. Photo of PROfessionals Melon Tap courtesy GoodCook.com.

     
    This agua fresca recipe was created by Cheeky Kitchen for Good Cook. Of course, you can also serve the drink from a standard pitcher.

    RECIPE: WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA

    Ingredients For 8-12 Drinks

  • 6 pounds seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave or honey
  • Fresh mint for garnish
  • Optional: gin, tequila, vodka
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE and discard a 2” piece from the top of a large, seedless watermelon. Carve out the red melon flesh from the inside of the watermelon and cut into large cubes (they can be as free-form as you like, as they’ll soon be puréed). Place in a large bowl and set aside.

    2. PREPARE the melon for serving by ensuring it can stand upright. Slice a small portion from the bottom of the melon to make it more stable. Place the tap about 3 inches from the bottom of the melon and push it through the rind to the inside. Set aside.

    3. PURÉE the watermelon flesh and all other ingredients in a blender in small batches, as needed. Pour the beverage into the prepared watermelon. Press the melon tap to dispense the drink into large glasses filled with ice.
     
    MORE AGUA FRESCA RECIPES

  • Agua Fresca recipes: horchata (creamy almond), lychee, mango and pineapple
  • Apple-Cucumber-Lime Agua Fresca Recipe
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The History Of Independence Day (& What They Ate)

    THE HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE DAY

    A federal holiday, Independence Day—also known as July 4th or the Fourth of July—commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress, which met in Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia.

    The legal separation of the Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, the day that the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution declaring the United States independent from Great Britain’s rule.

    Congress declared that the 13 American colonies were now a new sovereign nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.

    The Declaration of Independence, a statement comprising 1137 words, authored largely by Thomas Jefferson, was officially adopted by Congress on July 4th after two days of debate and revision.

       

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    Happy Independence Day. God Bless America! Photo courtesy ESquared Hospitality.

     
    Nearly a month would go by, however, before the signing of the document took place.

  • On July 4th, only 12 of the 13 colonies voted to approve the Declaration. New York’s delegates didn’t officially give their support until July 9th, because their state assembly hadn’t yet authorized them to vote in favor of independence.
  • It took two weeks for the Declaration to be engrossed on parchment. Engrossing is the process of preparing an official document in a large, clear hand. Timothy Matlack, a Pennsylvanian who had assisted the Secretary of the Congress, Charles Thomson, was probably the engrosser.
  • Most of the delegates signed on August 2nd, but several signed on a later date. Two others never signed at all! (Source)
  • Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote that they had signed on July 4th!
  • If you were a member of the Second Continental Congress in 1776, you were a rebel and considered a traitor by the King of England. You knew that a reward had been posted for the capture of certain prominent rebel leaders, and that signing your name to the Declaration meant that you pledged your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to the cause of freedom.
  •  
    The Revolutionary War was a long, hard, and difficult struggle that began on April 19, 1775 with the battles of Lexington and Concord. It ended officially on September 3, 1783, when a peace treaty with Great Britain was signed. If you’ve forgotten your high school history, here’s a recap.

    From the outset, Americans celebrated their independence on July 4th, preferring to honor the approval of the Declaration of Independence over the July 2nd vote for independence.

     

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    Baked ham was a colonial mainstay. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    WHAT DID THE DELEGATES EAT?

    Since THE NIBBLE focuses on food, we investigated what the delegates might have eaten.

    Working long hours, the delegates would have stepped out for nourishment at coffee houses, taverns and publick houses. These destinations were not known for their cuisine, but were venues for exchanging ideas, sharing news and conducting business (the restaurant business as we now know it developed later).

    People who could afford to eat meals in these establishments were generally of the wealthier classes. The food was often served buffet-style, on a sideboard. As was common into the 20th century, the food came free with the drinks. (Source)

    At the time, colonial Philadephia was a melting pot of English, French and West Indian cuisine influences.

  • Meals often featured baked ham with warm potato salad, meat pies (chicken or pork), oysters, stew and soup, including the traditional Philadelphia PepperPot Soup.
  • Also popular: terrapin (turtle) and tripe (animal stomach, typically from cows or pigs).
  • The bread included corn muffins, white and whole wheat rolls—buttered, of course.
  • Dessert could be fruit pies, sugar cookies, gingerbread, Sally Lunn (a pound cake) or ice cream. The confectionery in Philadelphia, including ice cream, was considered the best in America.
  • Beverages included beer, hard cider, rum, and other alcoholic beverages; alcohol was considered healthful. City water supplies were dangerously polluted; only rural folk drank water from clean sources, and bottled it to sell in the city. In 1790, government figures showed that annual per-capita alcohol consumption for Americans over age 15 included 34 gallons of beer and cider, five gallons of distilled spirits and one gallon of wine. (Source)
  •  
    Would you give up the modern July 4th standards for a colonial-era meal? If yes, start planning for next year!

      

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    JULY 4th: Red, White & Blue Ice Pops

    Popsicle and other brands make red, white and blue ice pops. But we’re not in grade school, and we want something more flavorful (and natural!) on a hot summer day.

    So we trotted out our ice pop molds to make our own red, white and blue “firecracker” pops. The recipe is courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker, who adapted it from Everyday Food.

    The layers are made from strawberries (red), sweetened plain yogurt (white) and blueberries (blue). Very little sugar is added. Instead, a bit of lime juice heightens the flavors.

    Prep time is 2 hours. You can make them up to a week in advance.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE “FIRECRACKER” ICE POPS

    Ingredients For 6 Three-Ounce Pops
     
    For The Red Layer

  • 2 cups halved, hulled strawberries (or whole raspberries)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •  
    For The White Layer

  • ¾ cup full-fat plain yogurt
  • 4½ tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
     
    For The Blue Layer
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons freah lime juice
  •    

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    Delicious homemade red, white and blue ice pops. Photo courtesy BrownEyedBaker.com.

     

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    Fresh fruit purée makes the best ice pops. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the red layer: In a blender, combine the strawberries, sugar and lime juice. Purée, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing the juice from the solids; then discard the solids. Fill the ice-pop molds 1/3 of the way. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. You may have some purée leftover—use it as a topping the next time you have a container of yogurt.

    2. MAKE the white layer: Whisk together the yogurt, cream, sugar and lime juice in a small bowl. Remove the molds from the freezer and top with the yogurt mixture, filling each another 1/3 of the way. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

    3. MAKE the blue layer: In a clean blender, purée the blueberries, sugar and lime juice, scraping down sides as needed. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing the juice from the solids; then discard the solids.

     
    4. REMOVE the molds from the freezer and insert the ice pop sticks through the white layer. Top with the blueberry purée (again, you may have some leftover), leaving ¼-inch of free space at the top of the molds. Freeze until solid, 3 hours or more. Just before serving, briefly run the molds under hot water to release the pops.

      

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