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Archive for Holidays & Occasions

JULY 4TH DRINK: Red, White & Blueberry Lemonade & Hard Lemonade

For cookouts and picnics, our family never had everyday soft drinks. For these special occasions, the beverage menu included lemonade, iced tea and Mom’s favorite fruit punch (recipe: equal parts of grape juice, lemonade and orange juice, all from frozen concentrate).

For July 4th, we switched to a “patriotic” lemonade: red, white and blue. The ingredients: pink lemonade tinted darker with some food color, white ice cubes and blueberries inside the ice cubes.

Beyond red food color, there are different ways to tint the lemonade a deep rose:

  • Add some red juice: blood orange, cherry, currant, cranberry, grape, pomegranate or watermelon juice.
  • Hibiscus tea (buy the tea and brew it).
  • Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger, Raspberry Zinger or Watermelon-Lime Zinger tea, all of which are blends that contain hibiscus.
  •  
    The herbal teas are delicious iced, so instead of lemonade, you can make patriotic—and caffeine-free—iced tea!

    For adults, keep bottles of gin, lemon liqueur, tequila or vodka (especially lemon-flavored vodka) next to the pitcher with a shot glass and a mixing spoon, and allow the grown-ups to add what they like.
     
    RECIPE #1: BLUEBERRY ICE CUBES

    First, make the white and blue ice cubes. You may need to start making batches a couple of days in advance, depending on how many ice cube trays you have and how many guests you expect.

    This recipe makes enough cubes for a quart of lemonade, assuming 3 cubes per glass.

    Ingredients For 12 Ice Cubes (One Tray)

  • 36 fresh blueberries (about 1/4 cup)
  • Water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 3 berries in each of 12 ice cube compartments.

    2. FILL with water and freeze. Remove the frozen cubes to a freezer storage bag to use the tray for another batch.
     
    RECIPE #2: RED, WHITE & BLUEBERRY LEMONADE

    While you can purchase pink lemonade in a large format, frozen concentrate is less expensive—and lighter to carry! If you want sugar-free lemonade, you can use Crystal Light (we prefer the taste of their regular lemonade to the pink lemonade; or squeeze fresh lemonade and add your sweetener of choice.

    Ingredients For 1 Quart (Four 1-Cup Servings)

  • 1 can pink lemonade concentrate (frozen)
  • Red color of choice (see list above)
  • 1¼ cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • Blueberry ice cubes (recipe below)
  • Optional: gin, limoncello, orange liqueur, tequila, vodka
  • Optional: straws (you can find them in white with red and/or blue stripes)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD water to the lemonade concentrate per package instructions. Then add the coloring agent to get the desired shade. Note that excepting food color, the more juice you add, the less the drink will taste like classic lemonade. But there’s nothing wrong with that! ss measuring cup or other container. Microwave on high until hot, about 1 minute.

    2. STIR until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and enough water to make 1 quart. If the red color isn’t strong enough for you, add a drop of food color or some juice to create your preferred shade. Chill.

    3. FILL tall glasses with the blueberry ice cubes. Add the lemonade and optional spirits.
     
     
    MORE JULY 4TH LEMONADE RECIPES

  • Spicy Hot Lemonade Recipe
  • Homemade Lemonade With Red & Blue Berries
  • Regular Lemonade With A Blueberry & Raspberry Cocktail Pick
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    red-white-blueberry-lemonade-blueberrycouncil-230

    Hibiscus Iced Tea

    Pint Of Fresh Blueberries

    Minute Maid Pink Lemonade Concentrate

    [1] Red, white and blue lemonade (photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org). [2] We added some hibiscus iced tea to make the frozen pink lemonade in the top photo a deeper rose color (photo of hibiscus tea courtesy Republic Of Tea). [3] A pint of blueberries for the ice cubes (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [4] Pink lemonade concentrate (photo courtesy Minute Maid).

     

      

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    JULY 4TH RECIPE: Red, White & Blue Whoopie Pies

    July 4th Whoopie Pies RecipeHTTP://www.blueberrycouncil.org

    Patriotic whoopee pies from the Blueberry Council.

     

    The Blueberry Council wants to make it easy for you to create red, white and blue food for July 4th.

    The recipe is simple: a box of red velvet cake mix, a jar of Marshmallow Fluff (or other marshmallow creme, or homemade) and fresh blueberries.

    For a more substantial dessert, serve the whoopies with a dish of three scoops of ice cream:

  • Small scoops of red (strawberry), white (vanilla) and blue (blueberry or boysenberry).
  • Alternative: Soften vanilla ice cream on the counter and stir in red and blue berries. Return to the freezer until ready to serve.
  •  
    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE WHOOPIE PIES

    Ingredients For 24 Cookies

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (18.25 ounces)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups marshmallow crème from a jar
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the cake mix, flour, water, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Beat until smooth with an electric mixer at medium speed, 2-3 minutes.

    3. SCOOP the batter by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed, 8-10 minutes.

    4. LET cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets. Then, use a spatula to remove the cookies to wire racks and cool completely.

    5. SPREAD 1½ teaspoons of the marshmallow creme onto the flat side of each cookie, using a small spatula or knife. Divide the blueberries onto the perimeter of the marshmallow on half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies to make 24 cookie sandwiches.

    6. SERVE immediately or store chilled in an airtight container, layered between sheets of waxed paper or parchment.
     
    MORE FOOD FUN

  • The history of whoopie pies.
  • The history of Marshmallow Fluff and a recipe for homemade marshmallow creme.
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    RECIPE: Red, White & Blue Sangria

    July 4th Sangria Recipe

    Yankee Doodle Brandy: Combine white wine and Grand Marnier orange brandy for July 4th (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs).

     

    This fun and arty sangria recipe is from caterer Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs (www.elegantaffairscaterers.com):

    RECIPE: JULY 4TH SANGRIA

    Ingredients For 1 Large Pitcher

  • 2 bottles dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 cup triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • 1/2 cup berry-flavored vodka (cherry, raspberry, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup (recipe below)
  • Optional: ice cubes
  •  
    The Fresh Fruit

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1-1/2 cups hulled and sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1-1/2 cups pineapple stars (use a star shaped cookie cutter to cut stars from slices of fresh pineapple) or starfruit slices
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: Boil 1/2 cup water, then add 1/2 cup granulated white sugar. Turn the heat to simmer and stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool.

    2.COMBINE all ingredients except the fresh fruit (but including the simple syrup) in a large punch bowl or pitcher. Stir well and add the fruit. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

    3. SERVE well-chilled with a good scoop of fruit floating in each drink. If you plan to serve over ice, consider making star-shaped ice cubes.
     
    FOR A MOCKTAIL

    Here’s a mocktail option for kids and adults who don’t drink:

  • Substitute a 64-ounce bottle of Sprite/7-UP or Diet Sprite/Diet 7-UP for the wine.
  • Replace the triple sec with 1 cup white cranberry juice.
  • Option: Use 1/2 cup orange juice instead of the lemon or lime juice
  • Eliminate the simple syrup.
  • Optional: Add blue food color to make blue star ice cubes.
  • Use the same fresh fruit as for the sangria recipe.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Starfruit For July 4th

    Native to Southeast Asia and India, starfruit was brought back to Europe by sailors and traders in the late 1700s. Rare and costly, it became popular among wealthy Europeans.

    Starfruit was brought to Hawaii by Chinese traders in the late 1800s. Yet, it was introduced to mainland America—Florida—only about 75 years ago. Today the state is the largest producer of American-consumed starfruit. Puerto Rico and Hawaii are the other major producers. These domestic fruits are sold in the U.S., because of import restrictions due to potential pests that often accompany the fruit.

    The closer you are to the orchard, the better. Like most fruits, starfruit has much more flavor and sweetness when it is allowed to ripen on the tree or vine.
     
    WHAT ARE STARFRUIT?

    Starfruit or carambola (star fruit is an alternate spelling) is the fruit of a species of tree (Averrhoa carambola) that is native to Southeast Asia. The tree is now cultivated throughout the subtropical belt.

    Named for the five-pointed star shaped slices it yields when cut horizontally, the pale yellow, juicy flesh with a distinctly tropical orange-pineapple flavor contains a few small, flat seeds. If the fruit is greenish, it isn’t fully ripe but will have white flesh and a tart apple flavor and texture.

  • The thin, edible skin is lime green on the tree and ripens to a bright yellow with a shiny/waxy sheen and a fragrant aroma.
  • You will often find the fruit in a greenish-yellow state. Although it will ripen further, it is fine to use.
  • Not only is starfruit attractive; it’s healthful, too: rich in vitamin C antioxidants and low in sugar and acidity.
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    HOW TO USE STARFRUIT

    For July 4th, Christmas or any other starry occasion, these “edible stars” can be used just about everywhere, with savory as well as sweet foods.

  • With any breakfast food.
  • A garnish on anything, from drinks to cupcakes and other desserts.
  • As a “star” ingredient in fruit salad, on fruit and cheese skewers, or served with a sweet yogurt dip.
  •  
    BUYING TIPS

  • At the market, pick yellow or yellow-orange fruits that are firm, not soft to the touch.
  • Avoid buying fruit that is turning brown.
  • If you are ripening greenish fruit on the counter, be sure to turn it at least once a day.
  •  
     
    NEED RECIPES FOR JULY 4TH?

    Here are “patriotic” recipes for everything from breakfast to after-dinner drinks.

     

    Ripe Carambola

    Sliced Carambola Starfruit

    Starfruit Cake

    July 4th Drinks

    [1] A ripe starfruit (photo S. Masters | Wikipedia). [2] Greenish, but still fine to eat (photo courtesy Melissas.com). [3] A starfruit upside-down cake (here’s the recipe from Noshon.it). [4] Starfruit drink garnish (photo courtesy HWTM.com).

     

      

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    JULY 4TH RECIPE: All-American Cheesecake In Red, White & Blue

    Slice of fruit pie

    Cream Cheese

    [1] Bake this patriotic cheesecake from scratch, or decorate a purchased cake with fruit (photo courtesy Melissas.com). [2] Good news for lactose intolerant cheesecake lovers: Green Valley Organics makes delicious lactose-free cream cheese, as well as lactose-free sour cream and yogurt (photo courtesy MyLilikoiKitchen.com.

     

    This All American Strawberry, Banana and Blueberry Cheesecake recipe was developed by Tom Fraker, Corporate Chef at Melissas.com.

    You can use the decorating theme on a custard pie, cream pie, or cake.

    Don’t want to turn on the oven? Purchase a plain cheesecake and add the fresh fruit.

    Before you start, check out the history of cheesecake.

     
    RECIPE: JULY 4TH CHEESECAKE IN RED, WHITE & BLUE

    This recipe makes a tart-size cheesecake, meaning that it’s not as tall as a conventional New York-style cheesecake. The benefit: fewer calories per slice!

    Ingredients For 12-14 Servings

  • 1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) fresh blueberries
  • 9-10 strawberries, stems removed, halved
  • 1-½ ripe bananas (see note in Step 6)
  • 1 large orange
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325ºF.

    2. COMBINE the graham cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons of sugar and the melted butter in a bowl. Press the mixture into a tart pan or springform pan.

    3. ADD the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl of a standing mixer. Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the pulp into the bowl. Whisk until well combined.

    4. ADD the eggs one at a time, allowing them to completely incorporate before adding the next egg. Pour the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Bake in the oven for 60-75 minutes, or until completely set.

    5. REMOVE the cheesecake from the oven, let cool and then chill for at least 4 hours.

    6. DECORATE the top: Run a row of the blueberries around the outside edge and then fill the center with alternating rows of strawberries and bananas. Before you slice the bananas, keep them from turning brown by squeezing the juice of an orange or other citrus fruit into a bowl. Slice the bananas into the juice. Toss gently with your fingers to coat all sides, and drain away the juice before topping the cake.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Plan Some Red, White & Blue Food

    With July 4th Weekend starting in a week, plan to make something red, white and blue.

    Even if you’re spending a quiet weekend at home, you can celebrate our Independence Day with a patriotic bite or two. Here’s a group of recipes to bite into, and we’ll be showcasing more between now and the 4th.

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

    JULY 4TH 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)
  •  
    JULY 4TH 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)
  •  
    JULY 4TH 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

    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 Stix Mediterranean Grill | NYC).

     

    Red, White & Blue Lemonade

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

    COULDN’T BE EASIER: [1] Red, white & blue pink lemonade (photo courtesy Blueberry Council). [2] Red and blue berries on store-bought cupcakes (photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter)

     

    JULY 4TH BEVERAGE RECIPES & PRODUCTS

  • American Amber Ale
  • Chandon July 4th Limited Edition Sparkling 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 Sorbet Float (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Tequila Shooters (recipe 1 and recipe 2)
  • Spicy Hot Lemonade (recipe)
  •  
    JULY 4TH 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 JULY 4TH RECIPE IDEAS

  • More Recipes 1
  • More recipes 2
  •  

      

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    PRODUCT: Rogue Ale’s American Amber Ale For Independence Day

    Oregon craft brewer Rogue Ales toasts America with the annual release of its American Amber Ale.

    It’s the brew’s 28th year, and has been our beer of choice for July 4th celebrations since we first came across it.

  • Another Independence Day favorite is Liberty Ale (center photo), an IPA from San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company.
  • Hell Or High Watermelon, which we haven’t been able to get hold of, shows the Statue of Liberty dipping her toes in the Golden Gate Strait (bottom photo). The brewer: 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. We can’t wait to drink a can of this wheat beer, brewed with fresh watermelon…with a slice of fresh watermelon!
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    AMERICAN AMBER ALES

    American Amber Ales are a beer category known for being balanced and refreshing, with toasted malt characteristics and a light fruitiness. (See the differences between beer and ale below.)

    Rogue’s American Amber Ale is tawny amber in color and medium- to full-bodied. It has a toffee/caramel aroma, a nice malt accent and a pleasantly bitter, smooth finish.

    Celebrating the “ideals of the Revolution,” Rogue brews the beer with “Rebel hops” (they’re actually Kent Golding and Cascade hops) and “Dare and Risk barley,” not to mention what the company calls “free range coastal water.” (Get it?)
     
    Rogue’s American Amber Ale is now available in 22-ounce serigraphed bottles (the image is screened onto the bottle, a nice gift for party hosts or for a party favor) and 12-ounce bottles with the same label design on paper, and can be found draft at establishments that feature Rogue Ale.

    Rogue makes world-class ale, kolsch, lager, mead, porter and stout, along with excellent spirits:

  • Gins: Spruce Gin and Pink Spruce Gin
  • Rums: Dark Rum, Hazelnut Spice Rum
  • Vodkas: Oregon Single Malt Vodka, Voodoo Bacon Maple Vodka
  • Whiskeys: Chipotle Whiskey, Dead Guy Whiskey, Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, Rogue Farms Oregon Rye Whiskey
  •  
    We haven’t had them all, but what we’ve tried, we really liked.

    For more information about Rogue products, visit Rogue.com.
     
    FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEER, visit THE NIBBLE’s BEER GLOSSARY.
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEER & ALE

     

    Rogue American Amber Ale

    Liberty Ale Anchor Brewing

    Hell Or High Water Watermelon Beer

    Top: Toast to the U.S.A. with American Amber Ale (photo courtesy Rogue). Center: Liberty Ale from Anchor Brewing Company (photo courtesy HiConsumption.com). Bottom: The Statue Of Liberty graces the cans of Hell Or High Water (photo courtesy 21st Amendment Brewery).

     
    Although most of us use “beer” to refer to all suds, three parts of the brewing process actually define what is a beer—illustrated by the lager style of beer—and what is an ale.

    Ales tend to be fruity-estery in aroma and flavor, while lagers are clean-tasting and crisp. These differences are created by:

  • The Yeast. Ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast strains, which means exactly that: The yeast ferments at the top of the fermentation tank (they typically rise to the top of the tank near the end of fermentation). Ale yeasts tend to produce esters, chemicals that can affect the flavor of the beer. Lagers use bottom-fermenting yeasts, strains which do not typically add much flavor (the flavor comes from the other ingredients, especially hops and malt).
  • The Temperature and Time. Ale yeasts ferment best at warmer temperatures—room temperature up to about 75°F. They ferment faster than lager yeasts. Lagers ferment at colder temperatures, 46°F to 59°F, and typically ferment over longer periods of time. The combination of colder temperatures and bottom-fermenting yeast is responsible for the mild and crisp taste delivered by most lagers.
  • The Ingredients. Ale recipes often contain a higher amount of hops, malt and roasted malts; hence they typically have a more prominent malty taste and bitterness. Styles like India Pale Ale (IPA) are very hoppy. Ales have more room for recipe experimentation than lagers; thus additional ingredients (called adjuncts) can be added during brewing. Examples: fruits (cherry, pumpkin, raspberry, etc.), sugars (honey, maple syrup, molasses) and spices (allspice, coriander, clove, etc.).
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    FOOD FUN: Whimsical Mac & Cheese Recipe

    Fully Loaded Mac & Cheese

    Baked Macaroni & Cheese

    Take your choice: innovative Mac & Cheese (photo courtesy Chef Eric LeVine) or a conventional preparation (photo courtesy Dietz and Watson).

     

    What’s on this plate?

  • A base of macaroni and cheese.
  • Surrounded with a ring of duck and mushrooms in hoisin sauce.
  • Topped with 5 jumbo grilled, bacon-wrapped shrimp.
  • Garnished with fresh rosemary (substitute chopped green onions or chives.)
  •  
    This may be just the thing for a fun food-loving dad on Father’s Day.

    The concept is from one of our favorite innovative chefs, Eric LeVine.

    Chef Eric is the author of Small Bites Big Flavor: Simple, Savory, And Sophisticated Recipes For Entertaining.

    This imaginative cookbook is written for home chefs who want to expand their repertoire with fun and unconventional dishes.

    The 100+ recipes also include mid-sized, larger and sweet bites, and even some signature cocktails. It demonstrates how much fun it can be to prepare, present, share, and of course, eat food.
     
    MORE FUN MAC & CHEESE RECIPES

    These are a bit more conventional, yet still fun food:

  • Apple, Texas & Truffle Mac & Cheese Recipes
  • DIY Mac & Cheese Party Bar
  • Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Mac & Cheese Potato Skins
  •  

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Off-Season Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Dipped Macaroons Recipe

    Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroon Inside

    Top: Chocolate-dipped macaroons (photo courtesy McCormick). Center: Plain coconut macaroons (photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections). Bottom: Up close (photo by Georgie Grd | Wikipedia).

     

    If you like coconut, don’t wait until Passover* to make coconut macaroons. They’re a great treat year-round, and gluten-free. Bring them as house gifts: They travel well without breaking.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Serena Rain of VanillaQueen.com, purveyor of top-quality vanilla beans, extracts, pastes, powders, sugars and salts.
     
    RECIPE: COCONUT MACAROONS

    You don’t need to add chocolate to macaroons; but if you want to, there are two options:

  • Dip the macaroons in a chocolate glaze.
  • Mix chocolate chips into the dough. This is an especially good option for warm-weather months.
  •  
    Ingredients For About 24 Cookies

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond meal†
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (for the dough)
  • Optional: 4 ounces quality chocolate bar (for a glaze)
  • Option: 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  •  
    Preparation

    You can incorporate the orange peel into the dough or the glaze. We like the “lift” it gives to the recipe.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line baking pans with parchment paper.

    2. COMBINE the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well incorporated. Use a spoon to scoop tablespoon-sized mounds of the coconut “dough.” Shape into round balls and place on the parchment paper. Alternative: You can drop the dough as unshaped mounds. See the difference between the top photo (dropped) and the bottom photo (shaped).

    3. BAKE for about 20 minutes or until golden brown (aim for the color in the center photo). Let cool.

    4. MAKE the glaze. Place the chocolate in a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, and if necessary, heat for 30 more seconds until fully melted. Dip the bottoms of the cooled macaroons into the chocolate. Alternatively, place the cookies on a tray lined with parchment paper and drizzle the tops with chocolate; let cool until set. Some people prefer the glaze on top: a chocolate dome. Take your pick.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MACAROONS

    Macaroons appeared in the late 15th or early 16th century in Italy. The historical record isn’t clear, but they are believed to have been created by monks. There were thousands of monasteries in medieval Europe, and monks created different types of beers, brandies and liqueurs, cheeses, pretzels, sweets, wines and spirits.

    The first macaroons were almond meringue cookies similar to today’s amaretti cookies, with a crisp crust and a soft interior. They were made from egg whites and almond paste.

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie because it had no flour or leavening‡, so could be enjoyed during the eight-day observation of Passover. It was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet. Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in some recipes, replaced them. Today in the U.S., coconut macaroons are the norm.

    Macaroons came to France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of France’s King Henri II. In France they evolved into delicate meringue cookie sandwiches filled with ganache or jam.

    Here’s more about the different types of macaroons.
     
    _____________________
    *During the week of Passover, in April, celebrants eat no leavened grains. Macaroons (all varieties) are grain free.

    †Almond meal, or almond flour, is ground from whole, blanched sweet almonds. The nuts are very low in carbohydrates and very nutritious.

    ‡Leavening is the agent that raises and lightens a baked good. Examples include yeast, baking powder and baking soda. Instead of these, macaroons (all types) are leavened with egg whites.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Steak Grilling Tips

     
      

    Raw Ribeye Steak

    Grilled Ribeye Steak

    Grilled Filet Mignon

    Steak Thermometer

     

    Grilling steaks for Father’s Day? Check out these tips from Wolfgang’s Steak House.

    Wolfgang’s is owned by a father and son who started with one location in Manhattan, dry-aging their own beef. Now they have four Manhattan restaurants and a total of 12 worldwide, from Beverly Hills to Hawaii to Korea and Japan.

    Executive chef Amiro Cruz wants you to help you home-cook your steaks like the professionals do. Here are his tips to cook a perfect steak:

    1. Buy USDA prime cuts. Yes, USDA prime is the most expensive beef and the very best you can buy. You get what you pay for: a truly superior taste and texture. Here are the different grades of beef.

    2. Buy for rib eye steaks. Rib eye is the connoisseur’s favorite cut, considered the most flavorful.

    3. Use only kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper for seasoning. When you have such a high-quality piece of meat, you don’t need marinades and herbs: You want to taste the essence of that steak. You don’t need to add any oil or other fat. The grill will be hot enough so the meat won’t stick.

    4. Don’t worry about the temperature of the raw steak. You may have been told to bring the meat to room temperature before grilling, but it doesn’t matter. Chef Cruz takes his steaks straight from the fridge, at 41°F (which is what the FDA recommends).

    5. Get the grill blazing hot. Once the grill is hot, clean it with a kitchen towel dipped in oil, making sure to handle the towel with a pair of tongs so you don’t burn yourself. Then, throw on meat. Steakhouse chefs prefer to char the steak. Some people don’t like a ton of char, and you might be nervous about burning the meat; but charring gives steak the right flavor. Once the first side is appropriately charred (after about four minutes for medium rare), flip it to the other side and repeat.

    6. Use a meat thermometer. Simply touching the meat to see if it’s done is the technique professional chefs use. But if you grill steak only occasionally, a meat thermometer is a foolproof way to know exactly how done your steak is. Rare is 130°F, medium rare is 135°F, medium is 140°F and so on, with five-degree increases. Don’t have a meat thermometer? Run to the nearest hardware store or kitchen goods department, or order one online.

    7. Rest the meat. Once it’s done cooking, don’t dig in right away. Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes so the juices inside can distribute. If you cut it right away, they will drain out and you’ll lose the juiciness.

    8. Cut against the grain. If you’re slicing a steak to serve more than one person, be sure to cut against the grain. While cutting against the grain is more important for tougher cuts like London broil, even with a top steak it makes for a softer chew. Just look for the lines that run through the meat and cut perpendicular to them.
     
    Don’t forget to put some fresh vegetables on the grill. Even people who don’t like to eat raw bell peppers, onions, etc. enjoy them grilled.

    Here are the best vegetables to grill.
     
    HOW MANY DIFFERENT CUTS OF STEAK HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out the photos in our Beef Glossary.

     
    PHOTO CAPTIONS: Top: A raw rib eye steak, a connoisseur’s favorite (photo Margo Ouillat Photography | IST). Second: A long-bone rib eye on the grill (photo courtesy Allen Bros). Third: Grilled, bacon-wrapped filet mignon and grilled radicchio (photo courtesy Omaha Steaks). Bottom: Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness (photo courtesy Habor).

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