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Archive for Memorial Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Bruschetta From The Grill

Firing up the grill this weekend? Make bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh).

We love a DIY bruschetta bar. Just rub the bread with garlic, brush it with extra virgin olive oil, grill, and place the slices on a platter along with all the fixings.

Even easier, brush the bread with garlic olive oil! You can buy it, or infuse your own in advance by dropping halved garlic cloves into a cup of olive oil (or however much you think you’ll need). Any leftover oil can go right into a vinaigrette.

Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

Plus, we have our own invention dessert bruschetta, below.

BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

There are two factors:

  • The size of the bread slice.
  • The cooking technique: grilling versus toasting.
  •  
    Bruschetta slices are larger, three or four inches in diameter) and grilled. Crostini, cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette about two inches wide (the word is French for “string”).

    You can use bread of a different diameter; but if it isn’t grilled, it isn’t bruschetta.

    Here’s how to remember the difference:

  • The verb bruscare is Roman dialect meaning “to roast over coals.” But there’s something simpler.
  • Think of crostini as crust or crouton (which is its literal meaning). Toast has a crust. That’s how we taught ourself to recognize the difference.
  • While Italians serve bruschetta as a snack, the smaller crostini can be served plain with soup and salad, like the original melba toast.
  •  
    Note that some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, selling jars of “bruschetta.” To be accurate, it should be labeled bruschetta topping). Bruschetta is the grilled bread, not the topping.

    RECIPE: DIY BRUSCHETTA BAR

    The simplest bruschetta topping is salt and pepper (i.e., seasoned garlic bread), but that’s for a bread basket.

    Almost any cheese, fruit, meat, spread or vegetable can be a topping. Toppings can be cooked, marinated, pickled, raw or smoked.

    For a DIY bar, offer at least three different toppings. We like everything, so tend to go overboard: Our toppings look like a buffet. Regarding bread, we prefer a crusty sourdough or rustic loaf.

  • Be sure the loaf will give you slices of a workable size.
  • If you’re not familiar with the particular loaf, ask to ensure that it doesn’t have holes for the toppings to fall through.
  • We have the loaves sliced at the store, then we cut the slices in half.
  •  
    Along with the bread, make sure you have fresh garlic and check your olive oil for freshness.

    Ingredients

  • Baguette or other loaves of bread
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper and peeled, halved garlic cloves
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • Avocado, mashed and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Caprese: quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic glaze
  • Charcuterie: pâté, prosciutto, salume, etc.
  • Cheeses: ricotta, ricotta salata, soft goat cheese
  • Fresh basil, julienned/shredded
  • Fruit: sliced figs
  • Garnishes: capers, chopped herbs, chopped mixed olives
  • Greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Heat: raw jalapeños slices, grilled chile peppers
  • Marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)
  • Mushrooms, marinated
  • Onions: caramelized, chives, chopped green onions (scallions)
  • Peppadews, sliced
  • Pimento, chopped or sliced
  • Raw and cooked veggies of choice: asparagus, grilled vegetables, sliced radishes, etc.
  • Spreads: bean, hummus, pimento cheese, tapenade
  • Tomatoes: sliced plain or marinated in oil and vinegar
  •  
     
    More options: shredded mozzarella or other cheese such as thinly-sliced Brie, fish (we have a passion for anchovies and herring salad on bruschetta), other marinated vegetables, mostarda.

    We also like eggplant caponata, pesto and sautéed mushrooms, but tend to use them more in cooler weather.

     

    Bruschetta Bar

    Rustic Loaf

    Rustic Loaf

    Bruschetta Bar

    Strawberry Bruschetta

    [1] Who needs a burger? We’re heading for the bruschetta bar (photo courtesy What’s Gaby Cooking).[2] Buy bread that has a pretty solid crumb (photo courtesy The Stone Soup). [3] This loaf is beautiful, but not for holding toppings (photo courtesy Bake Street). [4] A bruschetta bar from Countryside Cravings. [5] Dessert bruschetta, here with goat cheese (the recipe from Emily Bites). We use mascarpone.

    Preparation

    1. SET out the toppings and teaspoons for serving. We use ramekins; you can use any bowls you have.

    2. SLICE the bread from 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Rub each side with cut garlic clove and brush each side with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill to your desired toastiness.

    3. PLACE the bread on a platter next to the toppings and watch people create their appetizers.
     
     
    DESSERT BRUSCHETTA

    Most people won’t have seen dessert bruschetta. We don’t know if we invented it, but our sweet tooth gave us the idea years ago.

    Start with a loaf of bread with dried fruit, such as cherries or raisins. For toppings:

  • Artisan preserves
  • Flavored peanut butter (chocolate, cinnamon, maple, etc.)
  • Fruits: berries; sliced dates, figs, grapes and stone fruits
  • Honey
  • Mascarpone or sweetened sour cream
  • Nutella
  • Garnishes: chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, etc.
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    TIP FOR MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: Red, White & Blue Recipes

    Red, white and blue colors are not just for July 4th. Memorial Day is an equally patriotic holiday.

    Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

    Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War (1861 to 1865), which saw the largest loss of life of any American war. An estimated 620,000 soldiers died in the conflict—roughly 2% of the U.S. population, in addition to countless civilians.

    By the late 1860s, Americans in various communities had begun holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

    In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. It first celebrated Memorial Day on May 5, 1866, and was selected because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

    Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971. Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of silent remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m., local time. [source]
     
     
    MEMORIAL DAY RECIPES

    Even if you’re spending a quiet weekend at home, you can celebrate Memorial Day with a patriotic bite or two. Here’s a group of recipes to bite into.

    Some are so easy that all you have to do is put the ingredients together: no cooking.

    You can use the same red, white and blue recipes for Independence Day and Labor Day, which honors the contributions that American workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.
     
     
    MEMORIAL DAY BREAKFAST RECIPES

  • Red Velvet Pancakes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blueberry Muffins (recipe)
  • Poached Eggs or Egg White Omelet With A Side Of Red & Blue Berries
  • Yogurt Parfait With Star-Shaped Toast (recipe)
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    MEMORIAL DAY SIDE & MAIN DISH RECIPES

  • Apple Ginger Cole Slaw (recipe)
  • Blue Cheese & Red Vegetables (recipes)
  • Chilled Raspberry Soup With Blueberries(recipe)
  • Firecracker Macaroni & Cheese (recipe)
  • Patriotic Cheeseburger (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Potato Salad (recipe 1 and recipe 2)
  • Star-Shaped Sandwich Skewers (recipe)
  • Tomato & Mozzarella Skewers (recipe)
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    MEMORIAL DAY SNACK RECIPES

  • American Flag Crudité Plate (recipe)
  • American Flag Fruit Skewers (photo)
  • Bacon Flag Pizza (recipe)
  • Cheese American Flag (recipe)
  • Marshmallow Pops (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Pops (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Popcorn (recipe)
  • Stuffed Celery (recipe)
  •  

    Red, White & Blue Yogurt Parfait

    Red, White & Blue Fruit Skewers

    Patriotic Sangria

    Patriotic Drink

    COULDN’T BE EASIER: [1] Yogurt plus berries. For fun, cut star-shaped toast with cookie cutters (photo courtesy Smuckers). [2] American Flag fruit skewers (photo courtesy [the former] Stix Mediterranean Grill | NYC). [3] Layer white sangria or pink lemonade in a pitcher with berries. You can find the recipe on the Svedka website). [4] Cocktails or mocktails, from Cosmos and Pomtinis to pomegranate juice mocktails (photo courtesy The Clean Dish).

     

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

    Patriotic Dessert

    Patriotic Naked Cake

    WHO WANTS DESSERT? [5] Add a simple cupcake garnish (photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter). [6] Ice cream with sauces, berries, even a blue macaron serving as the top and bottom of an ice cream sandwich (photo courtesy Vandal | NYC). [7] Just bake the layers, and top with red, white and blue (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    MEMORIAL DAY BEVERAGE RECIPES & PRODUCTS

  • American Amber Ale
  • Chandon July 4th Limited Edition Sparkling Wine
  • Any sparkling wine with a splash of red liqueur, such as Alizé Red Passion or Remy Martin Red Berry Infusion (first the liqueur, then top with the wine).
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Cubes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Layered Cocktail (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Sangria With Cocktail Option (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Layered Shooter (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Lemonade & Hard Lemonade (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Limited Edition vodka bottles, like this one from Svedka.
  • Red, White & Blue Sorbet Float (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Tequila Shooters (recipe 1 and recipe 2)
  • Spicy Hot Lemonade
  •  
     
    MEMORIAL DAY DESSERT RECIPES

  • American Flag Cookies (recipe)
  • American Flag Brownie Ice Cream Cake (recipe)
  • American Flag Pie (recipe)
  • Blueberry Cherry Pie With Stars & Stripes Top (recipe)
  • Oreo Cookie Balls (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Cheesecake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Cupcakes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Frosted Layer Cake (recipe 1, recipe 2,
    recipe 3)
  • Pavlova (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Grilled Angel Food Cake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Parfaits (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Shortcake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Tartlets (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Whoopie Pies (recipe)
  • Starfruit
  • Triple Berry Biscuit Shortcake (recipe)
  • Stars & Stripes Toll House Cookies (recipe)
  • Strawberry & Blueberry Parfait (recipe)
  • Red Velvet, White & Blue Cupcakes (recipe)
  •  
     
    MORE MEMORIAL DAY RECIPE IDEAS

  • More Recipes 1
  • More recipes 2
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Gift For Cookout Hosts ~ Homemade Burger Buns

    If you’re invited to a cookout over Memorial Day weekend or any other time during outdoor grilling season, you can make what will be a very popular contribution:

    Homemade burger buns.

    TWO BURGER BUN RECIPES

    King Arthur Flour has two recipes:

    RECIPE #1: Sesame Burger Buns

    Baker after baker commented on the website that these are “the best” burger buns (photo #1).

    Soft, gold yellow from the butter and egg, with a hint of sweetness, the flavor may remind you of King’s Hawaiian burger buns.

    Use them for burgers or any sandwich. You can switch the sesame for onion or garlic.

    Here’s the recipe.

    RECIPE #2: Cheesy Burger Buns

    The light cheese aroma of these alluring buns (photo #2) comes from adding grated cheddar or parmesan cheese to the no-knead dough.

    In fact, the light cheesy aroma and flavor create what you can bill as “double cheesy cheeseburgers.”

    Here’s the recipe.

    MAKE AS MANY AS YOU LIKE. YOU CAN FREEZE ANY EXTRAS.
     
    SPECIAL BURGER ROLL PAN

    This pan (photo #3) was commissioned exclusively by King Arthur Flour to make baking hamburger buns easier. Each pan bakes six large (4-inch) buns.

    It’s a versatile pan: Use it for individual pies or cakes, oversized scones, muffin tops, individual frittatas or miniature pizzas.

    The nonstick pan is $29.95 at King Arthur Flour.
     
     
    WHO CREATED THE FIRST HAMBURGER?

    It started with the Tatar armies of Ghengis Khan!

     

    Homemade Sesame Burger Buns

    Cheddar Flavored Burger Buns

    Pan For Homemade Burger Buns

    [1] You can top the buns with sesame seeds, or leave them off. [2] Add an extra hit of cheese to a cheeseburger by baking it into the bun. [3] Make perfectly-shaped buns with this special pan from King Arthur Flour.

     
    Here’s the history of the hamburger.

    WHY IS IT TARTAR SAUCE & TARTAR STEAK (STEAK TARTARE) INSTEAD OF TATAR?

    The Tatars (no “r”) were a Chinese nomadic tribe (ta-ta-er) conquered by Ghengis Khan.

    Tartar (with an “r”), the term used by Europeans, comes from the Greek Tartarus, the underworld.

    When Ghengis Khan and his successors pillaged western Europe, the populace (a.k.a. victims) called them Tartars, meaning people from hell. The word referred to all Mongol invaders (no doubt, the nuances of tribes didn’t communicate over the maruading and murder).

    Coincidentally, this word was similar to Tatar, so the two were (and are( confused. Over time, the words became interchangable in use. [source]
     
     
    TOMORROW: HOT DOG BUNS!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red, White & Blue Cupcakes For Patriotic Occasions

    HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

    These red, white and blue cupcakes are an eye- and palate-pleaser for any patriotic occasion.

    And they’re easy to make, with just the added step of dividing cake mix into three bowls and coloring two of them. We chose a frosting of stabilized whipped cream, stiffened with gelatin (it won’t collapse) and topped the cupcakes with red, white and blue decorations.

    RECIPE: PATRIOTIC CUPCAKES

    Ingredients For The Cupcakes

  • 1 box white cake mix (or your own white cake recipe)
  • Red and blue gel food coloring (see notes in the last section)
  • Icing
  • Decorative sprinkles or stars
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 Cups Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  •  
    Plus

  • Cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a cupcake pan with paper liners. Place the cream in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to whipping (it will whip better).

    2. PREPARE the cake batter and divide it into three bowls. Use blue and red gel food coloring in two of the bowls (see notes about gel-paste below.)

    3. ADD one tablespoon blue batter to the each cupcake liner and spread evenly (we used a plastic teaspoon). Follow with a tablespoon of white batter, and a red layer on top of that, taking care not to mix the colors as you spread them.

    4. BAKE per cake recipe instructions and cool. While the cupcakes cool…

    5. MAKE the stabilized whipped cream frosting. Place the cold water in a small pan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let it thicken; then place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool, but do not allow it to set.

    6. WHIP the cream with the powdered sugar, until slightly thick. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream. Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.

    7. DECORATE and serve.

     

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

    July 4th Cupcakes

    American Flag Cupcakes

    [1] Red, white and blue layered cupcake (photo Elegant Affairs Caterers | Facebook). [2] Even easier options: red fruit atop white frosting (photo GoBoldWithButter.com) and [3] cupcake “flag” (photo Sprinkles Cupcakes).

     
    WANT A RED, WHITE & BLUE LAYER CAKE INSTEAD OF CUPCAKES?

  • White layer cake, filled with raspberry and blueberry preserves.
  • White-frosted stack cake with red and blue berry topping.
  • Lemon loaf layer cake with white filling and red and blueberry topping.
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    WHY USE SOFT GEL INSTEAD OF LIQUID FOOD COLOR

    The typical food colors available in supermarkets are water-based liquids that work well for most purposes. In many recipes, you use so little of it that the teaspoon or so of water isn’t going to impact the outcome of the recipe.

    But if you are looking for intense color—such as in red velvet cake—you need to use a lot of liquid to get the vibrant color. Too much liquid will alter the consistency of cake, candies, donuts and deep-colored frostings.

  • Soft gel food coloring (sometimes called liquid gel, not to be confused with the conventional liquid food color) delivers a deep, rich color without thinning the batter or frosting.
  • Gel paste food coloring is very concentrated and provides even deeper, more vivid colors than soft gel. It should be used in very small quantities.
  • Powdered food coloring is another very concentrated option that is often used to decorate cookies.
  •  
    You can often find gel food colors in craft stores, as well as in baking supplies stores and online, where you can buy red only or the four basic food colors. Wilton sells a set of eight gel colors, as well as neon and pastel sets. Don’t substitute one for another, unless you have time to test the results.
     
    TIPS FOR COLORING ICING

  • If exact color is important, mix the color in daylight so you can see the true hue.
  • Start with less color and adjust as you go.
  • Note that the longer the icing sits, the stronger the color will be. Proceed accordingly.
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    JULY 4th RECIPE: American Flag Ice Cream Cake

    This easy flag cake from McCormick is made from reddened brownie layers with vanilla ice cream and a blue-tinted whipped topping. You can cut 12 servings from the loaf.
     
    RECIPE: AMERICAN FLAG ICE CREAM CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (family-size) fudge brownie mix
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bottle (1 ounce) red food color
  • 1 tub (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • McCormick Neon Food Colors & Egg Dye in blue and purple
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows, divided
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
  • Optional: 1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
  •  

    brownie-ice-cream-cake-mccormick-230

    The “red” in this American Flag ice cream cake is food coloring added to the brownie. If you want more redness, add a layer of sliced strawberries over the top of the ice cream (photo courtesy McCormick).

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Empty the brownie mix into a large bowl. Add the sour cream, eggs and red food color; mix well.

    2. SPOON the batter into a greased, foil-lined 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

    3. MAKE the frosting: Stir the whipped topping, lemon extract, 1 teaspoon Neon Blue and 5 drops Neon Purple food colors with a spatula until evenly tinted. Stir in 3/4 cup of the marshmallows. Set aside.

    4. LINE a loaf pan with foil, with the ends of the foil extending over the sides of pan. Cut the brownie loaf horizontally into 2 layers. Place the bottom layer in the loaf pan and gently spread with the ice cream and the optional strawberries.

    5. PLACE the top brownie layer over the ice cream and spread the whipped topping mixture over the top. Press the remaining 1/4 cup of marshmallows into the whipped topping. Cover carefully with foil.

    6. FREEZE at least 2 hours or until firm. Use foil handles to remove dessert from pan. Place on cutting board; let stand 10 minutes to soften. Cut into slices to serve.

      

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