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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 Holidays & Occasions

RECIPE: Burger Eggs Benedict

Another good idea for Father’s Day brunch: this mashup of Eggs Benedict and a burger. that’s filling enough for lunch or dinner as well.

The recipe is courtesy Gina of Running to the Kitchen, via Safest Choice pasteurized eggs. Gina used pasteurized eggs for the blender hollandaise sauce, which is not cooked. Pasteurized eggs ensure that there are no dangerous pathogens in the raw eggs.

Gina serves the recipe open face; but we toasted both halves of the English muffins and served the top on the side. Alternatively, you can use the muffin tops for another meal.

Prep and cook time is 20 minutes.

Here’s the history of Eggs Benedict.

Here’s a Surf & Turf Eggs Benedict Recipe with filet mignon and lobster.

Here are substitutes for the English muffin.

RECIPE: BURGER EGGS BENEDICT

Ingredients For 4 Burgers

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 English muffin bottoms
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Optional garnish: chives, chopped
  •    

    open-faced-burger-eggs-benedict

    This Eggs Benedict variation substitutes a burger for the Canadian bacon! Photo courtesy SafeEggs.com.

     

    Ingredients For The Hollandaise Sauce

  • 2 pasteurized egg yolk(s)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  •  

    open-faced-burger-eggs-benedict-safeggs230

    Are you hungry yet? Photo courtesy SafeEggs.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, spinach, garlic and lemon juice; cook until wilted. Transfer the spinach to a small dish and set aside.

    2. COMBINE the beef, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together until incorporated and form into 4 patties. Cook the burgers in the same skillet used for spinach on medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes per side until desired doneness. Set the burgers aside.

    3. TOAST the English muffins.

    4. MAKE the hollandaise sauce: Combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, butter and cayenne in a blender. Blend until smooth and well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Place the burger on top of the English muffin. Place the spinach on top of the burger and a poached egg on top of the spinach. Spoon the hollandaise sauce over the top, sprinkle on the optional chives and serve while warm.

     
    WHY IT’S FATHER’S DAY, NOT FATHERS’ OR FATHERS DAY

    While Mother’s Day became an official holiday in 1914, Father’s Day wasn’t declared an official holiday until 1972. President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday that falls on the third Sunday in June.

    At the state level, though, the tradition began much earlier. In Washington State, Sondra Smart Dodd, inspired by a Mother’s Day sermon she attended in 1909, believed there should be a corresponding holiday to celebrate fathers. She gained support for her idea, and the first Father’s Day was celebrated by Washington State in 1910 in June, the month of her father’s birthday.

    Some people wonder why Father’s Day has an apostrophe before the “s.” The quick answer is that Mother’s Day set a precedent. The apostrophe before the “s,” a singular plural, means that Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) “belongs” to each individual father (and mother).

    If the apostrophe fell after the “s,” the possessive plural, it would be a holiday “belonging” to all fathers as a collective.

    So why does April Fools’ Day take the possessive plural rather than the singular plural? Perhaps because the individual fool doesn’t matter in the same way that each individual parent matters to his/her children.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bloody Mary Garnishes & A Bloody Mary Cart

    blt-mortonsgrill-group-ps-230

    Who can resist a BLT Bloody Mary, garnished with lettuce, tomato and a crisp bacon strip? This one is from Morton’s Grille.

     

    If Dad’s drink is a Bloody Mary, try something exciting for Father’s Day. You can use different spirits and mixes, but the easiest way to wow everyone is with a Bloody Mary cart or table, that lets each guest customize the garnishes. You need a bartender, but with everything set up, a college student can be a cost-effective solution.
     
    SPIRITS

    Vodka is traditional, but these days Bloody Marys are being crafted with spicy vodkas, botanical-forward gins, whiskey, tequila and even aquavit. Sochu, a neutral grain spirt like vodka, has half the proof of American spirits and is a great solution to keep the crowd sober, longer.
     
    BLOODY MARY MIX

    Everybody has a Bloody Mary mix solution, but could yours be better? For prepared mixes, we like Demetri’s and Master Of Mixes, Freshies, Mixerz and a few others. Look at the ingredients label and avoid anything with corn syrup or other sweetener.

    Our own homemade mix has lots of horseradish, Worstershire sauce and fresh-squeezed lime juice; and for the hot sauce we use smoky chipotle from Cholula or Tabasco.

    You can also add favorite and trending ingredients to a mix. Stonewall Kitchen has Cucumber Dill and Peppadew Sriracha.

     
    GREAT GARNISHES

    We’d rather use the cucumber, dill and peppadew as a garnish.

    The easiest way to make a Bloody Mary stand out with a memorable garnish. You may have seen photos of everything from charcuterie skewers and pepperoni straws to hot wings and an entire slice of pizza (hmmm). You don’t have to go that far, but you still need to do better than the venerable 20th century celery stick. You can use celery, but as of three garnish items.

    Here’s a list of options for your Bloody Mary cart. Use at least two, and preferably three.

    For skewers, get a supply of inexpensive picks like these four-inch bamboo knot picks.
     
    START YOUR GARNISH LIST HERE!

    PROTEINS

  • Bacon strip
  • Cheese cubes (we love blue cheese)
  • Crab claw
  • Ham cubes
  • Salami or sausage slices
  • Shrimp
  • Turkey cubes
  •  

     

    VEGETABLES

  • Asparagus spear, steamed or pickled
  • Beets (baby beets, beet cubes or slices, pickled beets)
  • Celery or fennel stalk (in combination with other garnishes)
  • Cucumber spear or wheel
  • Fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Grape or cherry tomato
  • Green onion (scallion)
  • Ramps and fiddleheads (spring season)
  • Sugar snap peas
  •  
    CONDIMENTS

  • Cocktail onions
  • Cornichons
  • Olives: try a pick with three different types
  • Pickles: dill spear, gherkin, sweet slices
  • Pickled vegetables: carrots, cherry peppers, dilly beans,
    jalapeños, okra, peppadew (you can stuff it with cheese),
    pepperoncini
  •  

    Aquavit_Bloody-Mary-beets-flavorandthemenu-230

    A Bloody Mary made with Aquavit and Swedish garnishes: beets, dill, cucumber. Photo courtesy Aquavit Restaurant | NYC.

     
    OTHER FLAVORS

  • Citrus: lemon or lime wedge or wheel
  • Seasoned salt rim: cracked pepper and sea salt, McCormick, Morton’s, homemade (try curry and garlic)
  •  
    SKEWER IDEAS

    Here are some of the garnishes we’ve skewered together:

  • Beets, dill, cucumber
  • BLT (see top photo)
  • Cherry tomato, cucumber slice, cherry pepper
  • Cornichon, peppadew, pepperoncini, cocktail onion
  • Cucumber and pickle
  • Grape tomato, olive, cheese cube, cocktail onion
  • Ham, cheese, olive, pickle
  • Olive, pepperoncini, gherkin
  • Olive, cornichon, cocktail onion
  • Red and yellow grape tomatoes, sweet pickle slice
  • Shrimp, sausage cube, cocktail onion, gherkin
  •  
    BLOODY MARY CART TIPS

    Have your Bloody Mary mix pre-mixed with extra in the fridge. Keep it in a bucket of ice on the cart, and have lots of ice for drinks.

    Consider offering two spirits, such as vodka and the lower-proof sochu, or vodka and gin. A Bloody Mary with gin is called a Red Snapper.

    Place all the garnishes in bowls, grouped as we have above.

    It’s a nice idea to rent highball glasses if you don’t have enough. Glass is so much nicer for this concept than plastic party tumblers. BUT check out these reusable plastic highball glasses.

    Make it easy for the bartender and the guest by creating a large sign that lists the garnishes. It makes it quicker for guests to decide what they want from each group.

    Enjoy the party!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake A Special Coffee Cake

    Many of us would love a delicious piece of coffee cake with our morning coffee—or to serve to Dad on Father’s Day.

    If you can find an artisan-baked coffee cake in your area, great. We live in a big city where the rents are so high that the beloved neighborhood mom and pop bakery is largely a thing of the past.

    So the only solution: Order by mail (check out this terrific povitica, an Eastern European coffee cake) or bake your own.

    But first….

    WHAT IS COFFEE CAKE?

    Coffee cake is a yeast-leavened cake that is typically served at breakfast or as a snack with coffee or tea. It is often glazed with a white confectioner’s sugar icing or topped with streusel. The latter is also called crumb cake.

    Coffee cake can contain raisins, nuts, other dried fruits and/or chocolate chunks. Most are flavored with cinnamon. More elaborate recipes incorporate cream cheese, jam or fruit curd.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that the tradition of eating sweet cakes with coffee likely originated in northern or central Europe in the 17th century, when coffee was introduced (see the history of coffee).

       

    blueberry-muffin-coffee-cake-thebakerchick-230

    A coffee cake inspired by the blueberry muffin. Photo courtesy The Baker Chick.

     
    These areas already had sweet yeast breads, a natural accompaniment that evolved into “coffee cake” The made with flour, eggs, sugar, yeast, nuts, dried fruit and spices.

    German, Dutch and Scandinavian immigrants brought the recipes with them to America. Over time, coffee cake recipes evolved to contain sugared fruit; cream cheese, yogurt and other creamy fillings; streusel and other toppings.

    See the different types of cake in our Cake Glossary.

     

    cinnamon-roll-cake-thebakerchick-230r

    The “cinnamon roll” coffee cake. Photo courtesy The Baker Chick.

     

    There are many great coffee cake recipes out there. If you don’t have one, ask family and friends if they have a favorite before heading to recipe websites.

    For an inspired coffee cake recipe, we looked to Audra Fullerton, a.k.a The Baker Chick, the writer, recipe developer and photographer for this blog. We’re big fans.

    The “Blueberry Muffin” Coffee Cake

    The first coffee cake from Audra, photo above, is a blueberry muffin recipe baked as a cake, with an extra brown sugar topping. It’s not a yeast cake but is super moist, with plump blueberries in every bite.

    It takes all of 10 minutes to mix, and 40 minutes in the oven. How can you resist?

    Here’s the recipe.

     
    The “Cinnamon Bun” Coffee Cake

    The second recommendation is a jumbo cinnamon roll, the size of a cake.

     

    Instead of rolling and cutting the dough into individual rolls, you cut the dough into strips and attach them one by one until a monster cinnamon roll is achieved.

    It’s more time consuming than the blueberry coffee cake, but isn’t that “wow” factor worth 1 hour and 15 minutes of your time to assemble?

    After that, in just 20 minutes in the oven you have a warm, fragrant, gooey 9-inch “coffee cake.”

    Here’s the recipe.
     
    MORE BREAKFAST CAKE OPTIONS

    Special enough for Father’s Day: this Apple Streusel Bundt Cake.

    Also for your consideration: a Hummingbird Coffee Cake, a Southern tradition.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Spiced Stout Waffles For Father’s Day

    Go back a couple of centuries and you’ll find that many people in Europe and America, including children, drank beer for breakfast because local water supplies were frequently contaminated.

    While your municipality takes care that no disease-producing microbes are in your tap water, you can still have beer for breakfast. Put it in your waffles!

    Here’s one of the delicious beer-infused recipes we received from the Craft Brewers Association at CraftBeer.com, contributed by Nicole, author of Dula Notes.

    Nicole uses Bell’s Double Cream Stout, one of her favorite local Michigan beers, to add spice and character to homemade waffles.

    Try it now: It might be just what you’re looking for for Father’s Day.

    And if Dad really likes stout, consider gifting him these stout glasses from Spielgau, or these from Libbey.
     
    RECIPE: WAFFLES WITH STOUT

    Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the
    waffle maker
  • 1 cup buttermilk or milk
  • 1 cup stout
  •    

    stout-glass-spielgau-230

    A glass of stout. Photo courtesy Spielgau.

  • 2-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Real maple syrup
  •  

    stout-waffles-dulanotes-230

    Mix stout into your waffles. Photo courtesy DulaNotes.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium pot over low heat. Add the buttermilk and stout, stir and heat until warm. Turn off the heat.

    2. COMBINE the flour, sea salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a large bowl. Whisk to blend.

    3. WHISK the eggs in another large bowl until well beaten. Add the vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour about one cup of the warm butter/buttermilk/beer mixture into the eggs and whisk vigorously to combine. Pour the rest of the mixture into the bowl, whisking constantly.

    4. ADD the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the flour disappears, but the batter is still a little lumpy. Take care not overmix, but make sure that the flour is incorporated. Let the batter sit as the waffle iron heats up.

     

    5. SPREAD a thin coat of butter on the preheated waffle iron to prevent the waffles from sticking. Pour the batter into the waffle iron and cook until the waffles are golden brown. Serve immediately with maple syrup.
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAPLE SYRUP & PANCAKE SYRUP?

    Check it out. And only buy real maple syrup!
     
    TYPES OF BEER

    Check out the difference between stout and other types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

      

    Comments

    GIFT: Meat Of The Month Club

    capicola-230

    Top-quality cooked and cured meats monthly. Capicola from DeLallo.com.

     

    Need a special gift for your favorite carnivore? Murray’s Meat of the Month Club will send a monthly treat of the finest cooked or cured artisan meats.

    Each month you or your giftee will receive Murray’s choicest selections: cooked and cured meats, whole and encased meats, salami, pâtés. Two delicious selections will arrive on the third Thursday of the month.

    If you’re giving a club membership as a gift, Murray’s will email you a welcome letter that you can tuck in a card.

    The Meat of the Month Club is priced beginning at $225.00 for four months of deliveries. Other options include six months ($325) and twelve months ($625). All prices finclude shipping.

    Order at MurraysCheese.com.

     

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Bacon Rose Bouquet Recipe

    Mom gets flowers for Mother’s Day; perhaps Dad would prefer a bacon bouquet. It’s easy to make 12 long-stemmed bacon roses.

    Here’s a video from the National Pork Board that shows how to make bacon roses.
     
    RECIPE: BACON ROSES

    Ingredients For 12 Bacon Roses

  • 12 strips of bacon
  • 24 toothpicks
  • 12 stems from plastic roses*
  • Glass vase (or pitcher)
  • Optional: red ribbon
  •  
    *Get 12 fabric or plastic roses on plastic stems from the craft store. You have to remove the flowers, but typically, they snap off so you can wash the stems and use them again. After you remove the flower, wash the top of the stem before adding the bacon roses.

     

    bacon-bouquet-porkbeinspired-230

    It’s easy to make this tasty bacon rose bouquet. Find more recipes at PorkBeInspired.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. UNWRAP the bacon and gently separate the slices. Roll each into a bacon rosebud.

    2. INSERT two toothpicks to hold each bud in place. Place the buds on a wire rack over a pan and bake at 400°F for 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

    3. MOUNT a bacon bud at the top of each stem and place the stems into a vase. Tie the ribbon around the vase. Present to the happy dad.

     
    ALTERNATIVE: SEND A JERKY BOUQUET

    A turnkey alternative to making bacon roses is to send a delicious beef jerky bouquet—12 long-stemmed pieces of jerky—from GaryWest.com.

    Wrapped decoratively in red tissue and delivered in a traditional flower box, the steak bouquet is $42.00, with a choice of flavors: Traditional, Black Pepper Cajun and Teriyaki.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Gin Cocktails For Father’s Day

    gimlet-moscato-gallo-230L

    A gimlet: gin, lime juice and sugar. Photo courtesy
    Gallo.

     

    How about a gin cocktail party for Father’s Day? You can serve your guests the five classic gin cocktails: Gimlet, Gin Fizz, Gin & Tonic, Gin Rickey and Martini. For a mocktail, a pitcher of limeade does nicely (a few dashes of bitters makes the limeade more cocktail-like).

    We love the idea of a tasting of the classics; but if you’d rather have modern gin cocktails, here are recipes for a Gin Mojito, Red Snapper (Bloody Mary) and Watermelon Martini

    You can have a bartender prepare the drinks to order, or make them in bulk in advance and serve them in pitchers (self-service). Provide shot glasses (plastic ones are fine) for tasting all, and full-size glasses for one’s favorite cocktail.

    Recipes vary widely—it’s easy to change proportions, switch lemon juice for lime juice, switch the garnish, etc. There are several styles of gin. Most recipes use London Dry Gin, but if you have something else, use it. If you have a favorite recipe for any of the drinks below, by all means use it!

    RECIPE: GIMLET COCKTAIL

    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.
     
    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 shots (or parts) gin
  • 3/4 shot fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 shot simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Garnish: cucumber wedge or lime wheel
  •  
    Preparation

    Shake all ingredients with ice until ice cold. Strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with lime peel.
     
    RECIPE: GIN FIZZ COCKTAIL

    A fizz is a variation of a sour, a family of cocktails that uses lemon or lime juice. The fizz adds carbonated water (soda water). The first printed reference to a “fiz” appears in the 1887 edition of Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide. It became very popular starting at the turn of the 20th century.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 shots gin
  • 1/2 shot fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 shot simple syrup or 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Soda water
  • Lemon wedge for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    Shake with ice and strain first 3 ingredients into a highball glass. Top off with soda water and stir lightly. Garnish with lemon wedge.

     

    RECIPE: GIN & TONIC COCKTAIL

    The world’s favorite gin drink was born in colonial India, when the British troops took daily doses of quinine water (tonic water) to ward off malaria. Someone suggested mixing it with gin to make it more palatable, and the Gin and Tonic became the iconic drink of the British Empire.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 2 shots gin
  • Tonic water
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    Add the gin and ice to highball glass; top off with tonic water. Garnish with a lime wedge.
     
    RECIPE: GIN RICKEY COCKTAIL

    The rickey was created with bourbon in the 1880s, at Shoomaker’s bar in Washington, D.C. The story is that it was a collaboration between bartender George A. Williamson and a good customer, Democratic lobbyist Colonel Joe Rickey.

     

    gin-tonic-lime-qtonic-230

    A classic G&T with a (non-traditional) sprig of fresh thyme. Photo courtesy Q Tonic.

     

    In the bar for his morning glass of bourbon and Apollinaris sparkling mineral water, with lump ice, history was changed when one day, half a lime was squeezed into, then dropped into, the glass. The guess is that the lime was the bartender’s twist. Colonel Rickey may have preferred bourbon, but the cocktail became a worldwide sensation a decade later when gin was substituted to create the Gin Rickey. It’s similar to a Gin Fizz, but it uses London Dry Gin and lime juice, and less (or no) sugar.

    Ingredients

  • 1.25 shots gin
  • 1/2 fresh lime, juiced
  • Optional: splash of simple syrup
  • 1 ounce soda water
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    Fill a highball glass with ice. Squeeze the lime into the glass, getting as much juice out of it as you can. Add the gin, simple syrup and the lime shell. Top off with soda water.
     
    RECIPE: GIN MARTINI COCKTAIL

    Is there a drink with as many variations as a Martini? The original may have been made in San Francisco in 1850 by bar owner Jerry Thomas. A stronger claim comes from Here’s the scoop. The first reference to a vodka Martini in the U.S. occurs in 1951 in a cocktail recipe book, Bottoms Up, by Ted Saucier. The drink took off when James Bond ordered his vodka Martini “shaken, not stirred.”

    Ingredients

  • 3 shots gin
  • 1/4 shot dry vermouth (for a dry Martini)
  • 1-2 green olives, depending on size
  •  
    Preparation

    Shake the vodka and vermouth with ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the olives.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory French Toast

    Saturday was always “French Toast for breakfast day” in our family. It was always sweet, with real maple syrup and fresh fruit.

    So when we came across this recipe for savory French Toast from Castello Cheese (which used its Aged Havarti in the recipe), we picked the following Saturday (yesterday) to give it a try.

    The result: a nifty breakfast option for those who don’t particularly like syrup or other sweet toppings, and a change of pace for those who do. It evokes a breakfast grilled cheese sandwich on a soft, eggy base of pan-fried bread, rather than on crisp toasted bread.

    It’s a nice change of pace. Just as you can vary the toppings on French Toast, you can use different savory toppings.

    For those of you who remember Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast, you can make a French Toast version. Use leftover beef or jerky to replace the tomato and cheese in the recipe below. No beef? Check the fridge: You can adapt just about any savory leftovers.

     

    savory-french-toast-castello-230

    Savory French Toast with cheese and tomatoes. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     
    Test out the recipe now: It may be just what you’re looking for for Father’s Day.

    Prep time is 40 minutes. For prettier color, look for heirloom cherry tomatoes or a mix of red, orange and yellow varieties.

    As you can see in the photo, the Castello chef used a three-inch round cookie cutter to cut the bread in circles after it comes out of the pan. We’re not so elegant; and besides, we don’t want to give up that cut-away French toast.
     
    RECIPE: SAVORY FRENCH TOAST

    Ingredients For 6 Servings
     
    For The Tomato Topping

  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    For The French Toast

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (substitute Asiago or Pecorino Romano)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 1½-inch thick slices brioche, egg bread or jalapeño Italian bread
  • 2 ounces aged Havarti, shaved (substitute Jack, aged Gouda, Tilsit or other shaveable cheese)
  •  

    monte-cristo-kikkoman-panko230

    A Monte Cristo sandwich is ham and Gruyère on French Toast. Photo courtesy Kikkoman.

     

    Variations

  • Blue cheese and sliced apples
  • Feta and kalamata olives with dill or oregano
  • Smoked salmon, caviar and crème fraîche
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the tomatoes: Sauté the tomatoes in the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the oregano and vinegar and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and set aside, keeping warm until ready to serve.

    2. MAKE the French Toast: Whisk the milk, egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a shallow pan. Dip the bread into the milk mixture and pan fry it in a hot non-stick pan for 3 minutes per side.

    3. TRANSFER the bread onto serving plates and top with the tomato mixture. Shave the cheese over the tomatoes. Serve immediately.

     
    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH TOAST

    The dish known in America as French toast has roots at least as far back as ancient Rome, where it was a sweet dish. In fact, pain perdu (lost bread), the current French name for the dish, was once called pain à la romaine, or Roman bread.

    While the story evolved that French Toast was a food of the poor, trying to scrape together a meal from stale bread, recipes from ancient and medieval times denote that it was fare for wealthy people.

  • Recipes used white bread, a luxury, with the crusts cut off. Poor people ate brown bread, much cheaper because the wheat endosperm did not have to be milled and painstakingly hand-sifted through screens to create white flour.
  • Costly ingredients such as spices (cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg), sugar and almond milk are found in numerous recipes.
  • The cooked bread was topped with costly honey or sugar.
  • And cookbooks themselves were the province of the privileged: Only wealthy people and clergy learned to read.
  •  
    THE MONTE CRISTO SANDWICH

    More recently, French toast has evolved into a savory sandwich, the Monte Cristo. It is an evolution of the croque-monsieur, a crustless sandwich of ham and Gruyère cheese, buttered and lightly browned on both sides in a skillet or under a broiler.

    The croque-monsieur was invented in Paris in 1910. A variation with a baked egg on top is called a croque-madame. Neither sandwich was battered, like French toast.

    The Monte Cristo sandwich, a triple-decker sandwich, battered and pan-fried, was invented at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. According to the L.A. Times, the first recipe in print is in the Brown Derby Cookbook, published in 1949.

    Here’s the recipe so you can try it for lunch—although probably not on the same day you have French Toast for breakfast.

      

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    GIFT: Premium Spirits For Father’s Day

    For Father’s Day, here are some spirits that will light up Father’s Day for that special Dad who loves tequila or vodka.

    Casa Herradura has two superior expressions for the tequila lover:

    HERRADURA SELECCIÓN SUPREMA, EXTRA-AÑEJO

    Herradura Selección Suprema is the highest grade tequila from Casa Herradura. Aged for more than 49 months in American oak barrels, it has a very dark copper hue, paired with an intense aroma of brown spice and floral notes.

    This is an enormously complex, world-class sipping tequila for the connoisseur. The suggested retail price is $350 for a 750ml bottle. Pricey, yes; but for tequila lovers, it should be a memorable experience.

    At a more affordable price is Herradura’s limited edition Colección de la Casa, Reserva 2014 – Scotch Cask Finish Reposado.

       

    CASA HERRADURA SELECCION SUPREMA TEQUILA

    The greatest tequila in the world? Photo courtesy Casa Herradura.

     

    It undergoes a double maturation process after resting in two different types of oak casks: American oak and single malt Scotch casks. This creates a totally new flavor profile for fine tequila. The suggested retail price is $89.99.

    For more information visit Herradura.com.

     

    titos-handmade-vodka-bottle-230

    A different vodka experience. Photo courtesy Tito’s.

     

    TITO’S HANDMADE VODKA

    Tito’s Handmade Vodka is one of the fastest-growing craft spirits, and it’s gluten-free (made from 100% corn mash). Wine Enthusiast magazine scored it higher than Belvedere, Grey Goose and Ketel One.

    It’s made in small batches (microdistilled) in an old fashioned pot still by Tito Beveridge (that’s his actual name), a geologist who first made it for Christmas gifts. Friends encouraged him to go commercial.

    His boot-strapped brew won the double gold medal at the World Spirits Competition and put Tito’s on the map.

    We found it online for prices ranging from $17.99 to $32.99. Here’s a store locator on the company website.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Pie Crust Cutters

    Surrounded by luscious spring and summer fruits, it’s hard not to want to bake a pie—or to learn how to bake one, if you’ve never dipped a toe in the oven.

    Two pie gadgets from Williams-Sonoma make even a novice seem like a sophisticated pie baker.

    LATTICE PIE CRUST CUTTER

    Like lattice crusts but lack the time or patience to make them?

    Williams-Sonoma offers this solution: a lattice pie crust cutter. It quickly and easily cuts a lattice-like crust from rolled-out dough.

    You simply place the lattice insert in the bottom of the gadget’s frame, then lay a sheet of rolled dough on top. To create the pattern, use a rolling pin to press the cutter into the dough. Lift off the insert and invert the latticed dough onto the pie.

    It’s not as dramatic as a hand-woven lattice, but it’s certainly more interesting than a solid top crust!

       

    lattice-pie-crutter-230sq-WS

    Press a lattice-style pie crust in 1-2-3. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com, $19.95.

     

    american-flag-pie-cutter-WS-230

    A patriotic pie, indeed! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.com.

     

    AMERICAN FLAG PIE CRUST CUTTER

    What we really love is this American flag pie crust cutter, also from Williams-Sonoma and also $19.95.

    While we try to avoid bringing single-use gadgets into our small kitchen, we made an exception for this one. Now, a patriotic pie will be our annual contribution to July 4th festivities.

    Get yours at Williams-Sonoma.com.

    Both inserts are designed for use with a 12″ diameter pastry crust.

     

      

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