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Archive for Holidays & Occasions

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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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake Doughnuts For Father’s Day

    National Doughnut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June, but there’s an even better reason to make doughnuts on the third Sunday: Father’s Day.

    If Dad loves doughnuts, get up an hour earlier and bake a batch for his breakfast.

    Yes, bake them—no frying required with these cake-like doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    To bake doughnuts you’ll need a doughnut pan to hold their shape. If you don’t want to invest in one (they’re $16.95 at King Arthur Flour), see if you can borrow one.

    You can serve them plain, with a sugar coating or with a chocolate glaze.

    What could be better? We added crisp, chopped bacon to top the doughnuts from King Arthur Flour.

    RECIPE: BAKED DOUGHNUTS, CAKE-STYLE

    Prep time is 20 to 30 minutes; bake time is 15 minutes; icing time is 5 minutes, then a few minutes to let the icing set.

    Ingredients For 12 Doughnuts

  • 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional: 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder (substitute instant coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) melted butter (substitute 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
  •  
    For The Optional Sugar Coating

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  •  
    For The Optional Chocolate Icing

  • 1 cup good chocolate bar*, chopped (substitute chocolate chips)
  • 4 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
  •    

    Chocolate Fudge Doughnut

    Bacon Doughnuts

    Apple Cider Donuts

    Top: It’s easy to bake doughnuts (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). Center: We added chopped bacon as a garnish (photo courtesy d’Artagnan | Facebook). Bottom: Don’t want chocolate? These apple cider doughnuts pre-date chocolate in history (photo Karo Syrup).

  • Optional garnish: crumbled bacon, chopped nuts, dragées, pretzel pieces, sprinkles, etc.
  •  
    Plus

  • Doughnut pans
  •  
    ______________________
    *If your palate knows great chocolate, a good bar (Chocolate, Dove, Green & Black’s, Godiva, Guittard, Lindt, Perugina, Scharffen Berger, etc.) is better than chips—unless you use Guittard chocolate chips, our favorite.

     

    Lemon Glazed Donut

    Pretzel Donuts

    Top: For a lemon glaze, add a teaspoon of lemon juice and grated peel to the icing (photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com). Bottom: Another sweet-and-salty doughnut, topped with pretzels (photo courtesy ACozyKitchen.com).

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have two pans, just bake the batter in two batches.

    2. WHISK together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

    3. WHISK together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and vinegar in a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl. You may notice some curdling of the milk, which is normal.

    4. ADD the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter or vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. There’s no need to beat the batter; just make sure everything is well-combined. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling them between 3/4 and full.

    5. BAKE the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove the doughnuts from the oven; after 30 seconds, loosen their edges, turn the pan upside down over a rack, and gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.

    5a. For sugar-coated doughnuts, immediately shake the doughnuts in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; add 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder to the sugar for an additional touch of chocolate.

    6. COOL the doughnuts completely before icing. Combine the chocolate chips and milk or half-and-half in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Heat until the half-and-alf is steaming and starting to bubble. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chips have melted and the icing is smooth.

    7. DIP the top of each doughnut in the icing; or spread icing over the top. Garnish as desired.
     
    A BIT OF DOUGHNUT HISTORY

    Although dough was fried in oil as far back as ancient Rome, food historians generally credit the invention of deep-fried yeast doughnuts to Northern Europeans in Medieval times. The word “doughnut” refers to the small, round, nutlike shape of the original doughnuts—the hole came later. “Donut” is an American phonetic rendering from the 20th century.

     

    Doughnuts were introduced to America in the 17th century by Dutch immigrants, who called them oliekoecken, oil cakes (i.e., fried cakes). In the New World, the doughnut makers replaced their frying oil with lard, which was plentiful and produced a tender and greaseless crust.

    Other immigrants brought their own doughnut variations: The Pennsylvania Dutch and the Moravians brought fastnachts to Lancaster, Pennsylavnia and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, respectively; the French brought beignets to New Orleans.

    The word “dough-nut” first appeared in English in the 17th century. The word evolved from dough-nut to doughnut to donut. The airy, yeast-leavened dough-nuts (like Krispy today’s Kremes), were joined by cake doughnuts, leavened with baking powder or baking soda (like Dunkin Donuts).

    By 1845, recipes for “dough-nuts” appeared in American cookbooks. Chemical leavening (baking powder) was substituted for yeast to produce a more cakelike, less breadlike texture; and inexpensive tin doughnut cutters with holes came onto the market.

    Why a hole? For efficiency, the cooked doughnuts were staked on wooden rods.
     
    The Dawn Of National Doughnut Day

    Spell it doughnut or donut, the holiday was created in 1938 by the Salvation Army, to honor the women who served donuts to servicemen in World War I (at that time, it was called the Great War).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Kobe Beef Hot Dogs

    Kobe Beef Hot Dogs

    Kobe Beef Hot Dogs

    American Kobe Beef hot dogs (photos courtesy Snake River Farms).

     

    If Dad is a hot dog fan, consider treating him to what may be the world’s best hot dogs for Father’s Day: American-style Kobe beef hot dogs from Snake River Farms (also called Wagyu—the difference). The package label calls them “haute dogs.”

    These gourmet dogs elevate the familiar to a new, delicious level. Snake River Farms American Wagyu hot dogs are crafted from 100% American Wagyu beef combined with a signature blend of spices, then slowly smoked over hard wood.

    Even the casings are special: These are skin-on dogs with an authentic firm bite that’s the hallmark of a truly authentic hot dog (and will surprise you if you’ve only had skinless dogs).

    You get what you pay for. One pound of franks, five pieces, is $16, or $13 for packages of four or more, at SnakeRiverFarms.com.

  • The hot dogs are Northwest source-certified Wagyu crossed with high quality Angus.
  • They are 100% beef and 100% natural, with no added hormones.
  • The dogs are smoked using authentic hardwoods.
  •  
    BIG DECISIONS

    How do you serve the world’s best hot dog?
     
    First, pick a great bun.

  • We’re fortunate to have a supply of them in our area: brioche, ciabatta, and seeded hot dog buns. As an alternative, many people prefer Martin’s potato rolls to the standard squishy white rolls that fall apart when the moisture of condiments hits them.
  • We prefer King’s Hawaiian (a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), but often can’t find them (the supermarkets in New York City are teeny compared to suburban markets).
  •  
    Next, select the condiments.

  • Keep them light the first time: You want to taste the quality of the beef, not the chili cheese [or whatever] topping.
  • We like an upgrade on old school. For mustard, we default to Dijon but prefer the greater complexity of Moutarde a l’Ancienne, a whole grain mustard (deli mustard is also a type of whole grain mustard) or Moutarde de Meaux Royale, the “king of mustards,” flavored with Cognac. Here are the different types of mustard.
  • For kraut, we’re fans of Farmhouse Culture Kraut. It’s too elegant to be called sauerkraut.
  • Finally, some pickle slices. Sweet pickle chips are a nice counterpoint to the kraut, mustard and spices and earthiness of the grilled dog.
  •  
    If you’re looking for something more elected, check out yesterday’s tip on gourmet hot dog toppings.

     
    IF THIS DOESN’T WORK FOR YOU ON FATHER’S DAY, NATIONAL HOT DOG DAY IS ON JULY 25TH.
     
    THE HISTORY OF HOT DOGS.

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KOBE & WAGYU.
     
    ABOUT SNAKE RIVER FARMS

    Snake River Farms meats are served three-star Michelin-rated restaurants. Products include American Wagyu beef, fresh Kurobuta pork, ham (a NIBBLE favorite).

    The family-owned business began more than a decade ago with a small herd of Wagyu cattle from the Kobe region of Japan. The Wagyu bulls were crossed with premium American Black Angus to form a proprietary herd that has developed into one of the finest groups of Wagyu/Angus cross cattle in the U.S.

    From its Wagyu beef and Berkshire pork, Snake River Farms also makes gourmet hamburgers, sausages, frankfurters and hardwood-smoked bacon. All items are prepared with only the finest ingredients, and deliver an exquisite eating experience. We love them!

      

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    RECIPE: Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake

    Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

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    Audra’s magnificent naked cake: chocolate and peanut butter. We’re about to eat the computer screen. Photo courtesy TheBakerChick.com.

     

    Oh, how we love you Audra, The Baker Chick. Your emails with such beautiful photos of your recipes make the day better. Even if we don’t have time to make them, just looking at them is sheer satisfaction.

    In time for Father’s Day, Audra created one of our favorite cakes*: a rich chocolate naked layer cake with peanut butter filling and a brush of frosting. Thank you, thank you!

    A naked cake is related to a stack cake. Both are layer cakes, and are so newly trendy that the terms are used interchangeably. A stack cake has zero outside frosting; a naked cake can have a light swath of frosting on the outside with some naked cake showing through, like this one.

    And now…to the kitchen!

    RECIPE: NAKED CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER LAYER CAKE

    Ingredients For 10-12 Servings
     
    For The Cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 4½ tablespoons safflower or canola oil
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Frosting

  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  •  
    For The Ganache

  • 4.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Optional garnish: mini peanut butter cups, halved
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two cake pans, lining with a circle of parchment paper. You can use 6-, 8- or 9- inch pans; of using 6-inch pans, make at least 3 layers.

    2. WHISK together in a large bowl the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir in the water, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs, continue to stir until batter is smooth.

    3. DIVIDE the batter among the pans and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

    4. MAKE the ganache: Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer on the stove top and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool and thicken before using (you can pop it into the fridge or freezer).

    5. MAKE the frosting: Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Cream together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Fold in the whipped cream until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Using a serrated knife, level each cake layer, slicing off the “dome” to make the layers even. Place the bottom later on a piece of parchment paper, on a cake turntable (you can use a pedestal cake stand, but invest in an inexpensive turntable). Spread a layer of ganache over the first layer of cake, sticking it into the fridge or freezer as needed between each frosting layer, to firm it up.

    7. CONTINUE with a layer of frosting, then another layer of cake, more ganache, more frosting etc. Add some frosting to the outside of the cake, smoothing with a spatula. Top with chopped peanut butter cups.

     
    _____________________
    *She adapted the base cake recipe from a Martha Stewart cake.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Toppings For Burgers, Brats & Franks

    Memphis Burger With BBQ & Coleslaw

    Burger With Avocado & Salsa

    Cheeseburger Surprise

    Top: The Memphis Burger, with cheddar, barbecued pork and cole slaw (photo courtesy Cheesecake Factory). Center: South Of The Border: avocado and salsa (photo courtesy Omaha Steaks). Bottom: Mac and Cheese Burger (photo courtesy Glory Days Grill.

     

    On Father’s Day, most people assume that dads wants to dine out. But a recent survey of 775 dads nationwide conducted by restaurant guide Zagat, says something different. While 80% of those surveyed say they love dining out in general, for Father’s Day more than half of them just want to stay home.

  • 52% of the dads claim they just want to stay home for a meal with their families.
  • 29% reveal that “having to go out at all” is their number one Father’s Day dining out complaint.
  • 14% “just want to be left alone.”
  • When asked about their ideal Father’s Day meal, only 14% prefer a high-end steakhouse.
  • 18% would enjoy going out to something easy and local.
  •  
    Other complaints against include going out include dread of driving (traffic, parking), having to pay the bill at their own celebration, and having to dress up.

    The best path, of course, is to ask your dad what he wants. If that’s just burgers and franks in the backyard, you can still make it a special celebration with these ideas for creative toppings from ThePamperedChef.com, along with a few of our own.

    Pampered Chef is a great resource for high-quality kitchen wares and yummy recipes to make with them.
     
    SPECIAL TOPPINGS FOR BURGERS, BRATS, FRANKS & SAUSAGES

    It’s time to set aside the ketchup and mustard, says The Pampered Chef, and take burgers and hot dogs from meh to amazing.

    Whether dad prefers burgers made of beef, bison, chicken, pork, turkey or veggies—or prefers brats, classic hot dogs or sausages—plan a creative cookout.
     
    CREATIVE BURGER TOPPINGS

  • Bacon, Brie and grilled apples
  • Bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onions
  • Bacon and peach jam
  • Fried egg, pickled onions, baby arugula and barbecue sauce
  • Fried onion rings, queso (cheese sauce) and pickled jalapeños
  • Goat cheese, roasted red peppers and chutney
  • Grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce
  • Guacamole, chunky salsa and tortilla chips
  • Hummus or spinach dip, crumbled feta cheese and Kalamata olives
  • Kimchi and wasabi mayonnaise
  • Mac and cheese with sliced tomato, onion and crumbled tortilla chips
  • Pimento cheese spread and grilled onions
  • Provolone cheese, marinara sauce and fresh basil
  • Potato chips and onion dip
  • Sautéed onions and mushrooms
  • Sautéed spinach and mushrooms
  • Snow crab, avocado and pickled ginger
  •  

    CREATIVE TOPPINGS FOR BRATS, FRANKS & SAUSAGES

  • Apple-cabbage slaw
  • Baked beans, diced red onion, shredded cheese, cilantro, optional salsa
  • Baked potato “bun” (put the bun in a well-done, split baked potato), bacon, sour cream & chives (The “Boise Dog”)
  • Carrot, cucumber and radish salad with herb mayonnaise (The “San Francisco Dog”)
  • Carrot salad with raisins and optional walnuts
  • Dilled cucumber salad with fresh parsley garnish
  • Caramelized onions and bacon with melted Gruyère
  • Chili, diced onions and shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Green chiles, red onions, red jalapeños and sour cream (The “Denver Dog”)
  • Crumbled potato chips and onion dip
  • Guacamole, cilantro and diced red onions
  • Ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and spicy mustard
  • Muffuletta olive salad (The “New Orleans Dog”)
  • Mustard slaw (half sauerkraut, half mustard or blend to taste), sweet pickle chips
  • Pesto, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, and grated Parmesan (“The Italian”)
  • Sauerkraut, shredded corned beef, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing (“The Reuben”)
  • Queso (cheese sauce), pickled jalapeños, shredded lettuce, diced tomato and sour cream (“The Mexican”)
  • Pickled vegetables (giardiniera) and mustard slaw
  • Pineapple relish, lemon-garlic mayonnaise and starfruit (substitute diced mango) (The “Honolulu Dog”)
  • Pizza sauce, melted or shredded mozzarella and sliced pepperoni
  • Scrambled eggs and sautéed mushrooms (“The Brunch Dog”)
  • Sweet pickle relish and shredded pepperjack cheese
  • Vidalia onion and peach relish (The “Atlanta Dog”)
  •  

     

    Mexican Hot Dog

    Fancy Hot Dogs

    Top: A Mexican Dog with shredded Cheddar, onions, tomatoes and jalapeños; chili optional (photo courtesy Body By Bison). Bottom: Brat with dill pickles, pepperoncini and cilantro (photo courtesy Kindred Restaurant).

    ANOTHER THOUGHT

    Ask guests to suggest creative toppings in advance of the event. Create them and let everyone vote for the winner.

      

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    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)
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    *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.
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    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.
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    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.
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    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.

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

     
      

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