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Archive for Holidays & Occasions

RECIPE: All-In-One Bloody Mary & Shrimp Cocktail

If Dad’s drink is a Bloody Mary and he loves a shrimp cocktail, combine both concepts into this two-in-one “cocktail.”

The recipe was inspired by Farm To Market Bloody Mary Pickles. But you can use your favorite Bloody Mary recipe and add the pickles and shrimp. Here’s THE NIBBLE’s favorite Bloody Mary mix recipe.

While the top photo shows only 1 shrimp (the original Farm To Market idea was a cocktail garnish), we recommend 3-4 large shrimp (or jumbo, as the budget allows).

BLOODY MARY SHRIMP COCKTAIL RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • Peeled, deveined, cooked medium shrimp, 3-4 per drink
  • Pickle chips, stuffed olives, peppadews and/or other garnishes
  • Bloody Mary mix and vodka, chilled
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHILL the Bloody Mary mix and the vodka in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. (We normally keep our vodka in the fridge. Eighty-proof spirits will not freeze.)

    2. TOSS the shrimp with 1 tablespoon lemon juice in large bowl. Thread 1 shrimp and 1 pickle chip on a long toothpick or cocktail pick. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and pickles. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    3. PREPARE the Bloody Mary mix (or open the store-bought bottle) and combine with vodka.

    4. POUR into glasses and garnish each with a shrimp skewer.
     
    MORE BLOODY MARY EXCITEMENT

  • Bloody Marys Without Vodka
  • Eleven Bloody Mary Garnishes
  • New Bloody Mary Garnishes
  • History Of The Bloody Mary
  • Set Up A Bloody Mary Bar Or Cart
  • Surf & Turf Bloody Mary
  •  

    Shrimp Cocktail Bloody Mary

    Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail

    Garnish a Bloody Mary with shrimp—as many as you like (photo courtesy Farm To Market). Center: Use your julep glasses, stemware, or whatever you have that works (photo MackenzieLtd.com). Bottom: More jumbo shrimp, less Mary (photo MackenzieLtd.com).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory French Toast

    French Toast Recipe

    French Toast Casserole

    Savory French Toast

    Top: French Toast smothered in sautéed apples (photo courtesy Peapod). Center: French Toast Casserole: even easier than regular French Toast (photo courtesy Driscoll’s). Bottom: Savory French Toast (photo courtesy Castello Cheese).

     

    Making perfectly round pancakes is not among our cooking skills. Long before we discovered the gadget known as a pancake batter dispenser, we’d switched to the easier and foolproof French Toast: eggs, milk, white bread or challah, and a pinch of cinnamon.

    Even easier is Baked French Toast (center photo), also known as French Toast Casserole and French Toast Soufflé. Place slices of bread in a baking dish, pour the egg-milk mixture on top, and bake. The benefits: it’s neater (no soaking the bread by hand), all servings are ready at once, and it looks elegant when brought to the table.

    Here’s a recipe that elevates French Toast, substituting brioche for regular bead and sweetened condensed and evaporated milks for whole milk. You can fry it in a pan or bake it in a casserole dish. Yummers!

    Today we recommend two special recipes for Father’s Day: a sweet French Toast with sautéed apples (“Apple Pie French Toast”—top photo) and French Toast with a variety of savory toppings (bottom photo).

    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH TOAST

    The dish known in the U.S. as French Toast has roots at least as far back as ancient Rome, where it was a sweet dish. Pain perdu (lost bread), the modern French name for the dish, was once called pain à la romaine, Roman bread.

    You may read elsewhere that that French Toast was a food of the poor, a way to scrape together a meal from stale bread*. However, recipes from ancient and medieval times denote that it was fare for wealthy people.

    Those recipes used white bread, a luxury, with the crusts cut off (even more of a luxury). 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.

    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 refined white flour. (Ironically, this whole wheat bread was more nutritious.)
     
    RECIPE #1: COOKED FRUIT TOPPING FOR FRENCH TOAST

    It’s easy to toss fresh berries onto French Toast. We also like diced mango.

    But for an Apple-Pie-Meets-French-Toast effect, make a quick cooked fruit topping. You can make the topping a day in advance, set it on the counter to warm to room temperature as you make the French Toast, and give it a quick zap in the microwave.

    You can substitute two cups of bananas, blueberries, cherries, peaches, pineapple, etc. for the apples.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon butter (more as needed)
  • 3 large apples (Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, etc.), peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes (yields 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat; add the apples, cinnamon and salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes until tender, then stir in the maple syrup. If you prefer very soft apples, cook them for 10-12 minutes before adding the maple syrup.

    2. COOK for 1 minute more. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
     
    SAVORY FRENCH TOAST

    Ditch the maple syrup or other sweet condiments. Even if you like sweet French Toast, you’ll like it savory, too.

    Here’s the basic recipe, topped with sautéed cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan. Our favorite variations:

  • Blue cheese and sautéed apple slices with a pinch of thyme to garnish
  • Feta and Kalamata olives with an oregano garnish
  • Ham and cheese French Toast sandwich
  • Sautéed onions and chicken livers with a pinch of sage (Dad’s favorite)
  • Smoked salmon, caviar and crème fraîche with a pinch of dill (Mom’s favorite)
  •  
    _____________________
    *The poor used stale bread for crostini (toast) or topped it with soup (the dish was originally called “sops,” referring to the bread or toast used to sop up the hot food), stew or melted cheese (a “Welsh Rabbit”) to soften the bread and make a meal.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Steak With Three Sauces

    Our friend Andy welcomes the opportunity to visit Denver, so he can pop in at Vesta Dipping Grill, known for the variety of creative sauces it offers with its entrées (here’s the current menu).

    For Father’s Day, forget the Worcestershire or A-1 and treat Dad to a choice of three homemade steak sauces. It’s like “steak three ways.” Here are a Baker’s Dozen of suggestions.
     
    HERB SAUCES FOR STEAK

    These quick herb sauces require no cooking: Toss everything into a food processor and pulse (purists can get out the mortar and pestle).

  • Chimichurri Sauce. The steak sauce in Argentina, chimichurri is made from parsley, garlic, green or red chile, olive oil, red wine vinegar. You can add other herbs. Mario likes cilantro, Emeril likes oregano and basil. Recipe and more.
  • Gremolata. If you want bright herb flavors without heat or tang, make gremolata. This simple condiment from Italy consists of fresh chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic—zingy without being spicy. Recipe and more.
  • Pesto. The “original” is made from basil, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, but there are many variations that switch out the herb, nut and cheese. Recipe and more information.
  • Salsa Verde. Layers of flavor without heat, this Italian herb sauce is made from chopped chives, mint and parsley with capers, chopped anchovies, garlic and lemon juice. Some recipes add tomatillos. Recipe and more information.
  •    

    Ribeye Steak With Sauces

    This 32-ounce steak is served with three sauces and a head of roasted garlic at The Fillmore Room in New York City.

  • Shallot Vinaigrette. Use your best vinegar and olive oil, minced shallots and parsley or other herb of choice. As a bonus, serve it warm. Recipe.
  •  

    Mushroom Sauce

    Mushroom sauce with red wine is a classic steak sauce (photo Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

     

    CLASSIC FRENCH SAUCES

  • Aïoli. Aïoli is a Provençal garlic mayonnaise that is typically served with seafood. But it’s delicious with steak, too, and is also a yummy dip for French fries. Recipe.
  • Béarnaise Sauce. Thick and creamy like aioli but laced with tarragon and shallot instead of garlic, this pairing has been revered by French steak lovers for centuries. Recipe.
  • Compound Butter. Another innovation of French cooks, compound butter has been flavored with anything the cook likes, from anchovies to Cognac to Roquefort cheese. The butter is rolled into a log, and a slice is cut to top a steak. The heat from the just-cooked steak turns it into a flavored butter sauce. Recipes.
  • Mustard Sauce. Mix Dijon mustard with crème fraîche and gently heat this creamy, tangy steak sauce. Recipe.
  • Mushroom Sauce. Different interpretations include mushrooms with beef stock and brandy or wine, to a cream sauce with a Dijon accent. Recipe.
  • Peppercorn Sauce. Another creamy classic, this steak sauce is made with heavy cream, chicken stock, red wine vinegar and green peppercorns, simmered briefly.
  •  
    MORE STEAK SAUCES

    There are many more options, but we’ll conclude today with global influences:

  • Try Asian-style sauces, such as Black Bean Sauce with Five Spice Powder and Teriyaki Sauce from BBC Good Food, and Green Sriracha Sauce from Food and Wine.
  • Go South-of-the-Border with Poblano Sauce (add puréed poblanos into garlic mayonnaise (aioli), Mole Sauce or Smoky Ancho Chile-Almond Sauce from FoodAndWine.com.
  • You can also make Piri-Piri Sauce with this recipe from Emeril. Piri-Piri is from Africa; Peri-Peri is the version brought back home by Portuguese sailors, and became the Peruvian version of Chimichurri. Both get their heat from fresh chiles.
  •  
    Happy grilling, happy saucing!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Homemade Pork Rinds

    Homemade Pork Rinds

    Pork Rind Garnish

    Pork Cracklings

    Top: Don’t these homemade pork rinds look so much better than store-bought? Photo and recipe courtesy PaleoLeap.com. Center: Pork rinds are also a delicious garnish for soups and salads. Photo courtesy Culinary Vegetable Institute. Bottom: Pork cracklings are made from the skin and fat; pork rinds are the skin (rind) only. Photo courtesy Padaek.com. Check out the recipe.

     

    As we think ahead to Father’s Day, we’re mulling over some homemade versions of popular snack foods from potato chips to pork rinds.

    Pork Rind Appreciation Day, established by Rudolph Foods (which sells pork rinds), is held on Super Bowl Sunday. But we like the idea of homemade pork rinds and a cold beer on Father’s Day.
     
    PORK RINDS VS. PORK CRACKLINGS

    Pork rinds (chicharrónes) are made from pork skin, with the attached fat removed.

    That’s the difference between pork rinds and pork cracklings. Cracklings (called grattons in Cajun cuisine) include the fat that adheres to the skin. Because of the extra fat, cracklings are greasier, denser and a bit chewy. Pork rinds are airy like cheese puffs, and they dissolve in your mouth.

    Here’s an idea: Buy pork belly to make grilled pork belly or pork belly skewers, and turn the skin into pork rinds. You can also buy the skin only from butchers (it’s quite inexpensive).

    Be sure to use skin within three days of purchase, as its high moisture content means it can spoil quickly. The finished pork rinds will keep for a long time if cooked long enough for all the fat to be rendered out.

    Check out this video.
     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE PORK RINDS

    Here’s a recipe for homemade pork rinds from Paleo Leap, which serves it as a crispy Paleo Diet snack with dilled mayonnaise or tartar sauce.

    Some pork rinds are deep-fried. Others, like this recipe, are roasted (the difference between roasting and baking).

    With homemade pork rinds, you control the salt. You don’t need to use any salt at all; the pork rinds will still be delicious. You can supply a salt shaker for those who must have it.

    Or, you can choose another seasoning. Garlic? Pepper? Curry?

    Ingredients

  • Pork skin
  • Optional: salt
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper to make clean-up easier.

    2. SLICE the skin into 1″ x 2″ strips—longer if you like—and place the strips on the baking sheet. Roast for 1-1/2 hours, then taste a piece. Many recipes call for 3 hours, but Sébastien Noël of Paleo Leap advises: “…most of the time they’re ready after 1.5 hours. You want them to be crispy but you don’t want them to be hard as a rock.”

    3. REMOVE from the oven and cool until they’re warm to the touch; enjoy them warm.

  •  
    Scrunchions, popular in Newfoundland, are pieces of fried fat (no skin).

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Jell-O Mold Is A Mason Jar

    Red White & Blue Jell-O

    Red, White & Blue Jell-O Squares

    Top: Red, white and blue Jell-O mold in Mason jars (photo Victoria Belanger | eHow). Bottom: No spoon is needed with these Jell-O fingers. They’re gummy, like Jell-O shots without alcohol. Here’s the recipe from CommunityTable.Parade.com.

     

    Call them Ball Jars, Kerr Jars or Mason Jars, these 19th century inventions enabled the preserving foods for years, while avoiding spoilage and the growth of harmful bacteria.

    The original “canning” took place in hermetically sealed glass jars, invented to carry food for Napoleon’s army. Here’s the history of canning and the jars.

    The invention created an opportunity for civilians, too: to “put up” foods at harvest time to eat during the winter. But then came tin cans, and

    The growth of the artisan foods movement, small producers added charm to their jams and dilly beans by packaging them in Mason jars.

    Today, we’re presenting an idea adapted from Victoria Belanger. You can see step-by-step photos on eHow.com.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE JELL-O FOR MEMORIAL DAY & JULY 4TH

    Ingredients For 6 Servings
     
    For The Red Layer

  • 1 package ((3 ounces) strawberry Jell-O
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  •  
    For The White Layer

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream, liquefied
  •  
    For The Blue Layer

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups blueberries
  •  
    Plus

  • 6 half pint sized Mason jars
  • Garnish: whipped cream (Reddi-Whip is perfect here)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the red layer. Combine the water and the Jell-O in a bowl, stirring to fully dissolve. Add the cold water and the strawberries. Stir and divide the mixture among the Mason jars. We used a wide-mouth funnel (so the strawberries would fit through) to keep the sides of the jars clean for the other colored layers. Victoria used a different technique.

    2. CREATE the “wave” effect by setting the jars at an angle in a muffin tin. First place uncooked rice in the muffin wells to hold the jars at an angle, then refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes. When the red layer is nearly firm…

    3. MAKE the white layer. In a medium bowl, evenly sprinkle a packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water. Allow the gelatin to set for 2 minutes, then add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve, and then the melted ice cream. Spoon into the jars, taking careful to keep the inside walls clean for the blueberry layer. Refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. When firm, you can remove the jars from the tin and keep them upright in the fridge.

    4. MAKE the blue layer. In a medium bowl, evenly sprinkle 1 packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water. Allow the gelatin to set for 2 minutes, then add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the sugar, then the blueberries. Do not add to the jars yet, but first refrigerate the blue mixture until it thickens to the consistency of a gel (otherwise, the blueberries will float to the top of the jar).

    5. SPOON the blueberry mixture into the jars and refrigerate until firm. When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream.
     
    MORE USES FOR MASON JARS.

      

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    RECIPE: Hot Dog & Tater Tot Skewers

    Here’s fun for kids and adults alike over the holiday weekend. You can use your favorite franks, and also make a vegan option with Lightlife Smart Dogs.

    This recipe was created by Foodness Gracious for Lightlife.

    RECIPE: HOT DOG & TATER TOT SKEWERS

    Ingredients

  • 1 package hot dogs (we use Applegate, made in all natural and organic varieties)
  • 1 pound bag of frozen Tater Tots, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, or seasoning of choice
  • Ketchup, mustard and or barbecue sauce for dipping
  • Optional: cherry tomatoes
  •  
    Plus

  • Long metal skewers
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Hot Dog Skewers Recipe

    Yum, yum: Hot Dog and Tater Tot Skewers (photo courtesy Lightlife).

     
    1. PREHEAT the grill to a high heat. Slice each hot dog into three diagonal pieces.

    2. THREAD one piece of hot dog at the base of the skewer. Next add a Tater Tot, being careful not to tear it; then a cherry tomato. Repeat this process until the skewer is completely filled. Once all of the skewers are ready to grill…

    3. BRUSH them on one side with the olive oil. Season each skewer and place onto the grill. Grill for 1-2 minutes, then turn them over and repeat. They will be done when the hot dogs begin to blister. Serve at once with dipping sauce(s).
     
    MORE TATER TOTS IDEAS

  • Tater Tot History
  • Gourmet Tater Tots
  • Baked Potato Tots
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Flag Cake For Memorial Day

    American Flag Cake

    American Flag Cake Recipe

    Brown Eggs Carton

    Top and center: This American Flag Cake is easy to make (photos courtesy TheKitchyKitchen.com). Bottom: You’ll need nine eggs for the cake (photo courtesy Organic Valley).

     

    We’re very fond of American flag cakes for Memorial Day and Independence Day. Check out these cakes on Pinterest.

    Many of them require the skills of a pastry chef, but you can make a sheet cake that’s easy to ice and decorate, and tastes just as wonderful.

    This recipe was sent to us by Claire Thomas of TheKitchyKitchen.com. An airy sponge cake is topped with cream cheese frosting and fresh fruit.

    The recipe makes one 9” x 13” sheet cake or two 10” round layers.
     
    RECIPE: AMERICAN FLAG SHEET CAKE

    For The Sponge Cake

  • 1-3/4 cups cake flour, sifted then measured
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cup eggs whites (about 9 large eggs)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, packed
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup water
  •  
    For The Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Decoration

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 half pint raspberries
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 half pint red cherries, red plums or other red fruits
  • Whipped cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  •  
    _________________________
    *Most cakes are either butter cakes made with a significant amount of butter (which provides firmness and density, as in devil’s food cake and pound cake) or foam cakes. Foam cakes (this recipe) are made without leavening (baking powder, baking soda). They get their volume and light, fluffy crumb by beating air into egg whites. Foam cakes can contain egg (sponge cake) or butter (génoise, gâteau); but as long as the cake is leavened with air instead of a chemical agent, it is considered a foam cake.

     

    Preparation

    This may look like a lot of steps, but each step is very easy.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350F°. Move the rack to the lower third of the oven. Grease or spray a nonstick 9” x 13” pan and line the bottom with parchment. Grease the paper as well.

    2. SIFT the flour, half of the sugar (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) and salt into a bowl; set aside.

    3. CAREFULLY separate the egg whites from the yolks and whip the whites with the whisk attachment in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, just until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar in a steady stream, whisking until you have thicker, stiffer, glossy peaks—about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Scoop the mixture into a VERY large bowl and set aside.

    4. WIPE out the bowl you used for the egg whites, and beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow—about 2-3 minutes. Add the water and beat until thickened, about 4 minutes: the yolks should be very thick and pale. Pour the yolk mixture over the whites and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle a third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture; fold to combine. Repeat two more times, just until all the ingredients are incorporated.

    5. GENTLY POUR the batter into the pan and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and cool for about 45 minutes.

     

    Confectioners Sugar

    While granulated sugar is used to make the cake, powdered sugar is used to make the frosting. The particles are much finer, so it dissolves readily with no graininess (photo Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE).

     
    6. REMOVE the cake from the pan and slip a butter knife down one side of the pan and slowly move it around the perimeter to release the cake. When the sides are free, cover the cake with a rack and invert. Remove the cake pan and parchment. Let the cake cool completely. While the cake cools…

    7. MAKE the frosting. Chill a metal or glass bowl in the fridge, then add the cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat the cream or it will curdle (that’s how cream is churned into butter). Set aside.

    8. MIX the cream cheese, salt, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until very smooth (if you have one, use an electric mixer with a paddle attachment). Fold in the whipped cream, one third at a time. If you aren’t frosting the cake right away, keep the frosting in the fridge and let it warm up on the counter for 20 minutes prior to using.

    9. PLACE the cake on a serving platter. Spread the frosting about 1/2 inch thick with a spatula. Create the “stars” in a square in the top left corner with the blueberries, and place the red fruits in “stripes.”
     
    MORE MEMORIAL DAY RECIPES

    To find appropriate recipes for each holiday, pull down the “Holidays & Occasions” menu at the right of the title of this article.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Pancakes & Maple Syrup Substitutes

    Some people like to serve pancakes with a garnish of berries. But at The Mission restaurant in San Diego, a creative cook embedded the fruit in the pancake itself.

    You can do it easily:

  • SLICE fresh berries in 1/4-inch pieces.
  • SPOON the pancake batter onto the griddle or pan.
  • ADD the sliced fruit while the batter sets. If you work quickly, you can add them in a circle; but random scatters are just as tasty.
  •  
    No berries? Use dried fruit (dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc) or dice any other fruit you have on hand (apples, bananas, pears, etc.).

    While the The Mission serves the pancakes with conventional maple syrup, consider these…
     
    ALTERNATIVES TO MAPLE SYRUP

  • Apple butter, bourbon butter, maple butter, strawberry butter or other compound butter
  • Fruit yogurt (you can mix jam or preserves into plain yogurt)
  • Honey
  • Jam, marmalade, preserves
  • Other syrup (berry syrup, brown rice syrup, cinnamon syrup [recipe below], molasses)
  • More fresh fruit
  • Plain yogurt, sour cream or mascarpone
  • Whipped cream or heavy cream
  •  
     
    For plain pancakes consider:

  • Applesauce or other puréed fruit
  • Dessert sauce (caramel, chocolate)
  • Fruit compote or sautéed fruit
  • Peanut butter or other nut butter
  •  
    You can also mix up a creative syrup; for example, honey with raisins, diced apples and/or chopped nuts.
     
     
    RECIPE: CINNAMON SYRUP

    This is delicious on French toast, pancakes and waffles; along with fruit salad, ice cream, un-iced cakes, etc.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Splash of lemon juice
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Pancakes Embedded Fruit

    Sautéed Apple Pancakes

    Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes

    Fun with fruit, in and on your pancakes. Top: Embedded berries (photo courtesy The Mission restaurant | San Diego). Center: “Apple Pie Pancakes,” topped with sautéed apples (photo courtesy PotsAndPans.com). Bottom: Topped with peanut butter and jelly or preserves (photo courtesy Krusteaz).

     
    1. HEAT the water and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.

    2. ADD the cinnamon and lemon juice, stir thoroughly, and let cool or serve warm.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve A Guacamole Trio

    Guacamole Recipes

    Chunky Guacamole

    Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

    Top: Serve three different guacamole “flavors” at once (photo courtesy Avocados From Mexico). Center: Chunky guacamole (photo courtesy Calavo Growers). Bottom: Guacamole in cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy FronteraFiesta.com).

     

    So many guacamole recipes, so little time!

    The solution: Make guacamole trios, three different recipes at a time. Here are some favorites of ours:

  • Bacon Cheddar Guacamole Recipe
  • BLT Guacamole Crostini Recipe and Deconstructed Guacamole Crostini
  • Roasted Corn Guacamole Recipe
  • Sour Cream Guacamole Recipe
  • Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe
  •  
    You can also go for the Do-It-Yourself option: a Guacamole Party Bar. With the mashed avocado, lime juice and salt, provide some of the following:

  • Tomato group: tomato, tomatillo, salsa, sundried tomatoes
  • Onion group: chives, onion, green onion/scallion, pickled onions, red onion, shallots
  • Heat: chili flakes, minced chiles, hot sauce
  • Cheese: blue cheese, cotija, queso fresco, grated cheddar (try jalapeño cheddar) or jack
  • Creamy: crème fraîche, sour cream, yogurt
  • Fruit: dried fruits, mango, melon, papaya, pomegranate arils, strawberry
  • Herbs: basil, bell pepper, cayenne, cilantro, garlic cloves, mint, parsley, sage, tarragon
  • Vegetables: asparagus, corn, jicama, radish/daikon
  • Wild card: bacon, crab meat, minced pork or ham, olives, toasted nuts
  • Tomatillo Guacamole Recipe
  •  
    And then, there’s Crocamole, a crodadile-shaped presentation for kids.

    Serve a trio of chips, too: perhaps yellow tortilla chips, blue tortilla chips and pita chips.

     
    Also check out this fusion recipes from California Avocado Growers for Cajun Guacamole, French Guacamole, Greek Guacamole, Italian guacamole, Japanese guacamole.

    There are 21 pages of guacamole recipes on the website, including a Cranberry Guacamole recipe for the holidays.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the wild avocado, a tree fruit that had grown in the region for millions of years. Dating back to Mayan times (pre-Aztec), guacamole was made from avocado, onion, chiles, fresh tomato, and salt, a recipe that is still made today.

    The conquering Aztecs called the avocado ahuacatl. The “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language, hence, ah-hwa-CAH-tay. AhuacamOlli (ah-waka-MOLE-ee) is a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

     
    When the Spanish conquistadors under Hernán Cortés arrived in 1519, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they used. In Spanish, ahuacamOlli became guacamole (huac-ah-MOE-lay).

    Guacamole ingredients were mashed in a molcajete (mol-cah-HET-tay), a Mexican pestle carved from volcanic stone (today granite is an easier-to-clean option). Over time, different regions of Mexico mixed in local ingredients, creating countless variations.

    Ahuacatl, avocado, first meant “testicle” in Nahuatl. The Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant.

    According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by any genteel person concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the polite name, “alligator pear.”
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Hispanic-Style Cheeses & How To Use Them

    In the past, Hispanic-style cheeses could be difficult to find in the U.S., often requiring a trip to a Mexican specialty food store. But as with Mexican food in general, Hispanic-style cheeses continue to grow in popularity, with many varieties now available in mainstream supermarkets across the country.

    California is the country’s leading producer of Hispanic-style cheeses, followed by Wisconsin. You don’t need to wait for Cinco De Mayo to try them, but they’ll make the celebration more authentic. Thanks to the California Milk Advisory Board for this guide to domestic-made, Hispanic-style cheeses.

    Note that the names given here are the most common names for these cheeses. However, it is not uncommon for a Hispanic-style cheese to be called by more than one name. Also, some cheesemakers sell their cheeses under a proprietary name. In most cases the names given here will be on the package.
     
    FRESH HISPANIC-STYLE CHEESES

    Fresh (unripened) cheeses are very young cheeses that have not been allowed to age. Typically, fresh cheeses are soft and moist, white or off-white in color. They have a shorter shelf life than aged cheeses and must be kept in the refrigerator.

    Many Hispanic-style cheeses soften but do not melt when cooked. Because they hold their shape when heated, they are often used as fillings or toppings in recipes. They also tend to have mild to pronounced saltiness, so require less salt added to recipes. You can find them in whole-milk or low-fat varieties.

  • Oaxaca (wa-HA-ka) is a mild, firm white cheese with a sweet milk flavor and slight saltiness. Its texture is similar to mozzarella and string cheese, and it is used the same way. The cheese is made either in a rolled ball or braided, the latter said to represent the braided silver crafted in the town of Oaxaca, Mexico, where the cheese originated. The cheese melts well and is often shredded into main dishes prior to cooking.
  • Panela (pah-NAY-la) is mild and moist with a sweet, fresh milk flavor and a firm texture similar to mozzarella. It doesn’t melt, but softens and holds its shape. It can be fried and is also used in sandwiches, salads and with fruit. Pamela has a distinctive basketweave texture from the round basket in which the cheese is drained.
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    Braided Oaxaca Cheese

    Queso Fresca With Salsa

    Top: Braided Oaxaca cheese (photo courtesy Cheese.com). Bottom: Queso fresco with mango salsa (photo courtesy EatWisconsinCheese.com).

  • Queso Blanco (KAY-so BLAN-co) is a white, mild, creamy cheese similar to a mild Cheddar or Jack. It is used in much the same way.
  • Queso Blanco Fresco (KAY-so BLAN-co FRES-co) is also called Queso Para Freir (KAY-so PA-ra fray-EER), cheese for frying. It is a firm, moist cheese that is used in cooked dishes. As its name implies, it is often fried because it holds its shape under heat. It is also crumbled onto fruit, salads, beans and other dishes.
  • Queso Fresco (KAY-so FRES-co) is the most popular Hispanic-style cheese, soft and moist with a mild saltiness and slight acidity similar to farmers cheese. It crumbles easily and softens but does not melt. Queso Fresco is often used in enchiladas, and as a topping or filling in cooked dishes.
  • Requesón (ray-keh-SOHN) is similar to ricotta: It is made from whey and has a soft, grainy texture and fresh milk taste. It is used much the same as ricotta: in salads, spreads, fillings, in cooked foods and desserts.
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    Crumbled Cotija

    Enchilado Anejo Cheese

    Top: Crumbly Cotija cheese can be used like feta (photo courtesy BakeoffFlunkie. blogspot.com). Bottom: Enchilado Anejo is similar to Cotija, but is rubbed with mild red chili or paprika for added flavor (photo courtesy SpecialtyProduce.com).

     

    AGED HISPANIC-STYLE CHEESES

    Aged Hispanic cheeses are made in semi-firm and firm styles. Some will soften but not melt when heated; others are excellent melting cheeses that add richness and creaminess to cooked foods.

    Aged cheeses have a longer shelf life than fresh cheeses. Store them in the fridge and handle them as you would Cheddar or Jack. Most are available in whole-milk or low-fat varieties.

    Note that “añejo” (aged) means something different in Hispanic-style cheeses: It is not analogous to American and European aged cheeses. Hispanic-style cheeses are aged to some degree, but their dry texture and pungent, sharp flavor come from being salted, pressed and dried rather than being aged for a long time.

  • Asadero (ah-sah-DARE-oh) is a mild, firm cheese molded into a log and sold sliced. It is similar to Provolone in its slightly tangy taste and firm texture. It melts well and is used in such dishes as nachos and quesadillas, as well as on hamburgers and sandwiches. Note that Asadero comes in processed versions as well as natural cheese versions. Go for the natural.
  • Cotija (ko-TEE-hah) is named after the town of Cotija, Mexico, where it originated. This firm, very salty cheese is similar to a dry feta in many respects, and is used similarly in cooked foods. It is often crumbled and sprinkled as a garnish over soups, salads and bean dishes. The moisture content will vary by manufacturer, ranging from semi-firm to very firm, although all versions are quite crumbly. Cotija is also sold in grated form.
  • Cotija Añejo (ko-TEE-hah on-YAY-ho) is a version of Cotija that has been aged longer; it is typically made from low-fat milk. Some manufacturers call it Queso Añejo, or simply, Añejo. It is fairly hard and dry and is a mainstay of Mexican cooking, often crumbled over dishes. It has a salty flavor and can be grated or crumbled and used like Parmesan or Dry Jack on salads and cooked foods.
  • Enchilado (en-chee-LA-do), also called Enchilado Añejo, is a dry, crumbly white cheese similar to Cotija añejo. It is distinguished by its colorful reddish appearance, the result of a coating of mild red chili or paprika, which adds a slightly spicy flavor. Crumble or slice it onto Mexican foods, soups and salads. In cooked dishes, it softens but does not melt.
  • Manchego (mon-CHAY-go) is based on the famous Manchego cheese of La Mancha, Spain, where it is traditionally made from sheep’s milk. Here, it is made from low-fat cow’s milk, which gives it a different personality. This firm golden cheese has a mellow flavor similar to a slightly aged Jack, but more nutty. It is used as a snacking and sandwich cheese, and as a cheese course or snack with fruit and wine. It also melts well in cooking.
  • Menonita (meh-no-NEE-ta) is a mild, smooth white cheese that originated in the Mennonite community of Chihuahua, Mexico. Menonita is a good table cheese: Similar in flavor to Gouda, it can be used just like Gouda in recipes.
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    IN SUM…

    Latin cuisine can be spicy, but the cheeses are usually mild, providing a pleasant contrast. Dairy products also lessen the heat of fiery chile peppers*.

    When choosing a Hispanic-style cheese for cooking, keep these three categories in mind:

  • Fresh cheeses like Panela, Queso Blanco and Queso Fresco soften when heated but don’t melt. You can use them to make dishes with a soft, creamy filling that won’t run out onto the plate (like Chiles Rellenos).
  • Melting cheeses like Asadero, Oaxaca and Queso Quesadilla are creamy and mild: excellent for eating as a snack or on a cheese plate. They’re the preferred cheeses for quesadillas, queso fundido and tacos, but they’re also great for topping burgers and pizza. Sprinkle some pickled jalapeños and chopped cilantro on top for even more authentic Latin flavor.
  • Hard cheeses like Cotija can be crumbled or grated for a garnish, or mixed into a casserole or sauce for added flavor.
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    Delicioso!
     
    *The casein (a protein) in dairy binds with the capsaicin (the heat component of chiles) to help wash it out of your mouth.

      

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