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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Mother’s Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Rose Cocktails For Your Valentine

cocktails-with-flowers-chandon-230

Toast your Valentine with a rose cocktail. If
you can’t find organic rose petals for garnish,
any edible flowers will do. Photo courtesy
Chandon.

 

In the Middle East, rose is a more popular flavor than chocolate. It’s used in beverages, candies, cookies and other baked goods, ice cream, jam and sorbet. The flower petals are turned into syrup. The flavor is quite glorious, and it’s a perfect pairing with sparkling wine.

Beyond Middle Eastern and Indian markets, there’s not much rose-flavored food in the U.S. (we occasionally find rose marshmallows at fine confectioners). But rose is a flavor that fits right in with Valentine’s Day, and fashionable mixologists create menus of rose syrup-accented cocktails.

WHAT IS ROSE SYRUP?

Rose syrup is rose water with sugar added—essentially, rose-flavored simple syrup. Rose water itself is distilled from rose petals as a by-product of the rose oil (attar of roses) produced for perfumes.

First distilled by Muslim chemists in medieval times, both rose syrup and rose water add a subtle rose flavor and aroma to sweet foods. You can use rose water and sugar in beverages, but for confections and baked goods you need syrup, which won’t dilute the batter, dough, etc.

 

ROSE COCKTAILS

Our favorite, easy rose cocktail is a Champagne Cocktail sweetened with rose syrup instead of the conventional sugar cube. There’s a Rose Martini recipe below. You can create other cocktails, or add the syrup to club soda for a mocktail.

You can buy rose syrup in pink or clear hues, or make your own from rose water. You can whip it up in about 10 minutes and color it as light or deep rose as you like. If, after the first batch, you want even more rose flavor, exchange the tap water for more rose water.

If you decide to distill your own rose water from rose petals (our friends with a large rose garden like to do this), note that only dark red roses impart much color; you may have to supplement with food color.
 

RECIPE: ROSE SYRUP (ROSE SIMPLE SYRUP)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rose water
  • Red food coloring as desired
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the water to a boil. Add the sugar and dissolve, stirring constantly. When completely dissolved, remove the pan from the heat. Do not over-boil.

    2. ADD red food color as desired.

    3. COOL, then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

     

    RECIPE: ROSE MARTINI

    Ingredients For 1 Cocktail

  • 2 ounces gin or vodka
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon rose-infused simple syrup
  • 3 dashes bitters (especially grapefruit or orange
    bitters
    )
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: organic rose petals*, raspberries,
    strawberries or lemon twist
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD ingredients including ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

    2. Garnish and serve.
     
    MORE VALENTINE COCKTAIL RECIPES

     

    rose-simple-syrup-royalroseny.bigcartel-230

    Rose syrup. Photo courtesy Royal Rose Syrups.

     

    *Rose petals or other flowers used for garnish must be organic—not sprayed with chemical pesticides.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry Basil Gimlet

    Finish summer in style with a Strawberry
    Basil Gimlet. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris
    Steak House.

     

    Here‘s a “berry” summery drink: a Strawberry Basil Gimlet.

    We were inspired by this photo from Ruth’s Chris Steak House to make a batch yesterday.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY BASIL GIMLET

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 parts gin*
  • 1/2 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup (recipe)
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 2 large strawberries
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: notched strawberry and basil leaf
  •  
    *If you’re not a gin fan, you can substitute tequila or vodka; or use a sparkling wine like Prosecco. It just won’t be an official gimlet.

    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the strawberry and basil leaves in a cocktail shaker with simple syrup. If you’re making multiple cocktails, it’s easier to purée.

    2. ADD gin, lemon juice and ice, and shake well.

    3. STRAIN into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a basil leaf and large berry, notched onto the rim.

    GIMLET HISTORY

    A gimlet is a tool for drilling small holes; the name was also used figuratively to describe something as sharp or piercing.

    The word “gimlet” for a cocktail was first used around 1928—perhaps for its effects on the drinker. According to Wikipedia, another theory is that the drink was named after British Royal Navy Surgeon Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette KCB (who served 1879 to 1913).

    Gimlette allegedly introduced the drink as a means of inducing his messmates to drink lime juice as an anti-scurvy medication. (Limes and other citrus fruit have been used by the Royal Navy for the prevention of scurvy since the mid-18th century.)

    A 1928 description of the drink was “gin, a spot of lime, and soda.” In his 1953 novel. “The Long Goodbye,” Raymond Chandler wrote that “a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else.”

    Forget that, Chandler: You may be a great fiction writer but nothing is better in a gimlet than fresh lime juice. If you want to use a lime juice cordial like Rose’s, here’s a homemade lime juice cordial recipe and the reason why you should make your own.
     
    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Reinvent Eggs Benedict With These Variations

    Since it was invented in the 1860s, Eggs Benedict has been a posh addition to the breakfast-lunch-brunch menu. It was created by the chef at a tony New York restaurant, Delmonico’s, for a wealthy customer, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict (here’s the history of Eggs Benedict).

    The original recipe topped two toasted English muffin halves with round-cut slices of ham, poached eggs; and Hollandaise sauce. Over the years, the more conveniently-shaped Canadian bacon replaced the trimmed ham.

    The ham substitutions continued, gaining momentum among creative chefs in modern times. Why not create your own reinvention of Eggs Benedict for Mother’s Day or other special occasion? Select your options from these categories of ingredients:

    English Muffin Substitute

  • Buttermilk biscuits
  • Corn cakes
  • Croissants
  • Crumpets
  • Potato pancakes
  • Rustic country bread
  • Whole wheat English muffins
  •  

    Classic Eggs Benedict. Photo courtesy American Egg Board.

     

    Note: You need a type of bread that will soak up the egg yolk. Pita, for example, doesn’t work here. Steer clear of regular pancakes and waffles. They take what should be an elegant dish to McGriddles territory.

    Ham/Bacon Substitute

  • Artichoke hearts, asparagus, avocado, broccoli rabe, grilled portabella mushrooms (recipe), grilled tomato slice, creamed or wilted spinach
  • Corned beef hash (recipe)
  • Crab cakes
  • Lobster tail, shrimp, scallops (alone or in combination)
  • Pâté de foie gras
  • Poached chicken
  • Poached salmon
  • Prosciutto or serrano ham
  • Smoked salmon or gravlax
  • Steak tartare
  •  
    What about everyday bacon strips? Eggs Benedict should be a special dish. By all means serve poached eggs with bacon—just not on an English muffin with Hollandaise sauce.

    Similarly, fried eggs, sausage and gravy should remain their fine casual selves, and not be adapted into a Benedict-style variation.

     

    Portabella Eggs Benedict, a vegetarian
    option. Photo courtesy Mushroom Council.

     

    Hollandaise Sauce Substitute

  • Béchamel Sauce, a white sauce that can be flavored with just about anything (recipe)
  • Dill Sauce (béchamel with dill or other herb/herb mix)
  • Mornay Sauce (béchamel with cheese)
  • Mushroom Sauce
  • Sriracha-Accented Hollandaise Sauce (spicy)
  • Truffled Hollandaise Sauce
  •  
    Consider how you can flavor a basic béchamel to match the ham substitute. For example, add dill to the sauce for lobster, horseradish and lemon zest for crab cakes.
     
    Garnish

  • Baby arugula
  • Basil, chiffonade
  • Caviar
  • Chives, snipped
  • Microgreens
  •  

    FOOD TRIVIA: THE HISTORY OF BRUNCH

    The term, a combination of breakfast and lunch, was coined in the U.K. in 1895 to describe “a Sunday meal for Saturday-night carousers.” This first reference in print was an article in Hunter’s Weekly (source).

    Brunch eliminated the need to rise early for breakfast. Instead of the conventional post-church early Sunday dinner, the new meal, served around noon, started with a course of toast, marmalade, tea. coffee and other breakfast foods before moving on to some heartier fare.

    And the rest is delicious history.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chocolate Ganache Pups

    If you know a mom who loves chocolate and dogs, is there a better Mother’s Day gift than these chocolate pup bonbons?

    Made by hand by Gearhearts Chocolates, the milk chocolate bonbons are filled with silky chocolate ganache, which is lightly infused with handmade peanut butter.

    And they’re guilt-free: Five percent of sales of Peanut Butter Pups is donated to Companions for Heroes, a not-for-profit organization that matches rescue pets as companion animals to our nation’s wounded veterans.

    Read the full review and order yours today.
     

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE CHOCOLATES &
    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
    CHOCOLATE.

     

    Who can resist these chocolate peanut butter pups? Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Chocolate Truffles As A Cake Decoration

    We were checking out the Caramel Swirls website when this cake caught our eye.

    You don’t have to have great cake decorating skills to make an impressive cake at home. Just acquire an impressive cake topper.

    In this case, chocolate truffles were used to decorate the cake. If you have a box of chocolates, you can use them to equally good effect. Instead of piling them in the center, space them out around the rim of the cake.

    To take it one step further, use a spatula to apply chopped pistachios or other favorite nut to the sides of the cake.

    You can purchase chocolate truffles, or use this recipe to make them.

    If you want to send the cake to Mom for Mother’s Day, head to CaramelSwirls.com. We haven’t tasted it, but it’s made with fine ingredients: bittersweet chocolate, evaporated cane juice, butter, cage free eggs, cocoa powder, pistachios, chai tea, Earl Grey tea, Grand Marnier and vanilla extract.
     
    What’s Your Favorite Cake?

    Pick it out in our luscious Cake Glossary.

     

    Have a box of chocolates? Make an impressive cake. Photo courtesy Caramel Swirl.

     

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Mother’s Day Gifts

    Looking for something special for Mother’s Day?

    Of the products we’ve tried recently, here’s what we’re selected for our mother, aunt and other special moms:

  • Georgie’s English Scones. The scones arrive frozen, along with delicious lemon curd. You can also send ready-to-bake shortbread in the hard-to-find, festive petticoat tails (triangle) shape.
  • Kimberley Artisan Vinegars. Handcrafted in California, these organic vinegars have a depth of flavor and richness that’s different and delightful.
  • Clase Azul Reposado Tequila. The most exciting Tequila we’ve ever had, in a stunning reusable majolica earthenware carafe.
  • The Corksicle. Forget the ice bucket: This is the best way to keep your wine chilled on the table.
  •  
    See the full review for details.
     
    FOOD FACTS

  • The history of scones
  • The history of shortbread
  • The history of Tequila
  • The history of vinegar
  •  

    Scones, fresh from the oven, are a treat for Mom. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Easy Chocolate Covered Strawberries Recipe

     

    Who wouldn’t enjoy chocolate-covered strawberries for Mother’s Day?

    They’re easy to make and delight just about everyone, as a light dessert or as gifts for the moms.

    You can use your favorite chocolate (dark, milk, white or all three). You can leave the chocolate-covered berries plain or decorate them with your favorite toppings: chopped nuts, crushed toffee, granola, mini-morsels, shredded coconut or sprinkles.

    For the most elegant touch, decorate with gold or silver dragées or some opalescent sanding sugar.

    TIP #1: QUALITY CHOCOLATE COUNTS. Your chocolate-covered strawberries will taste better, the better the chocolate you use. We buy fine quality chocolate bars, which are very well priced at Trader Joe’s.

    TIP #2: SO DO DRY STRAWBERRIES. The chocolate won’t adhere well if the berries are moist from a thorough washing. Instead of washing the strawberries under running water, pat them with a damp towel to clean; then pat them dry and let them air dry (you can also use a hairdryer on the cold setting).

    Mmm…we can’t wait until Mother’s Day.

       

       

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Make A Hat Cake For Mother’s Day

     

    Nothing says you care like a home-baked cake. For Mother’s Day, bake Mom’s favorite recipe and decorate it to look like a brimmed hat.

    It’s actually easy! You can use cake mix, as in the video, or use your own from-scratch recipe. You bake a 9″ and 8″ layers, then trim the 8″ layer to be a 6″ top layer, the “crown” of the hat.

    Then, just frost and decorate. Use a piece of real ribbon around the “brim,” add a fresh flower and use and Mom’s favorite candies to decorate the hat. The recipe uses Reese’s Pieces, which look bright and sunny.

    Take a look and you’ll agree: It’s a nice way to surprise Mom. It’s also a charming birthday cake.

    Like to look at pretty cakes? Check out our Cake Glossary.

       

       

    Comments

    MOTHER’S DAY: Mama Rita Margarita Cocktail

    An easy way to do something special for Mom is to serve her a cocktail created just for her.

    That was the thinking of Sauza Tequila, creator of the Mama Rita Margarita.

    Most moms enjoy a Margarita as well as a glass of wine, so here’s a twist that combines both.

    The recipe uses agave nectar instead of sugar for a lower-glycemic (and tastier) cocktail.

    The Mama Rita Margarita: A Cocktail For
    Mother’s Day & Any Day

    For one cocktail:
    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 part silver tequila
  • 1/2 part Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 part orange liqueur (Grand Marnier, GranGala,
    triple sec, etc.)
  • 1/2 part agave nectar
  • 1 part fresh lime juice
  • Lime wheel or peel curl for garnish
  • Ice
  •  

    The Mama Rita Margarita, a special cocktail
    for Mom. Photo courtesy Sauza Tequila.

     

    Preparation
    1. Pour all ingredients over ice in mixing glass.
    2. Shake and strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lime slice.

    Find more of our favorite cocktail recipes, including the classic Margarita and many variations.

      

    Comments

    MOTHER’S DAY IDEAS: Gourmet Gifts

    There are just six shopping days left until Mother’s Day.

    Still stuck for a special gift idea?

    Take a look at these luscious gifts: beautiful chocolates, cakes and, for yoga moms, gingerbread cookies in yoga positions.

  • If Mom prefers her chocolate in small bites, Intemperantia Chocolate makes petite chocolate truffles in addition to regular sizes.
  • And we just love the chocolate caramel pretzels from Artisan Candies.
  •  
    For a no-calorie delicious gift, try some tea samplers and a glass teapot.

  • Healthy gifts include custom juice blends and gorgeous jars of imported Cerignola olives.
  • For the casserole-making Mom, a casserole carrier with a choice of glamorous fabric tote covers might just make her day.
  •  
    All of this is making us hungry. Time for a snack!

     

    No time to bake? Send Mom a flourless
    Gateau O Chocolat. Photo by River Soma |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

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