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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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

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

Archive for Holidays & Occasions

HALLOWEEN: Spooky Pasta Recipes

Add some food fun to your Halloween with these two pasta recipes from Certified Angus Beef.

RECIPE: SPOOKETTI & MEATBALLS

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar pimento-stuffed olives
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 6 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 (26-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
  •  

    ghoulish-pasta-certifiedangusbeef-230

    Spooketti and meatballs. Photo courtesy Certified Angus Beef.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. COMBINE the ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, ketchup, herbs and spices; shape into 1-1/2-inch balls, making 12 total. Insert 1 olive into each meatball to look like an eye.

    3. PLACE the meatballs in a pan and roast approximately 25 minutes until thoroughly cooked and no pink remains (160°F internal temperature).

    4. HEAT the sauce and ladle over pasta. Serve 2 meatballs per plate.

     

    graveyard-bake-certifiedangusbeef-230

    Eat the graveyard! Photo courtesy Certified
    Angus Beef.

     

    Graveyard Bake

  • 1 pound round chuck
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 pound fusilli pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • 6 oval crackers (like Keebler Town House), optional
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BROWN ground chuck in large fry pan. Drain liquid from beef.

    2. ADD tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic salt and cayenne pepper; simmer for 5 minutes. Mix in the cooked pasta.

    3. POUR into a 9 x 9 baking dish. Top with potato chips and cheese and broil for 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and chips are golden brown.

    4. GARNISH with green onions and crackers (the tombstones).

      

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Spooky Spider Biscuits

    Here’s another fun idea for Halloween, courtesy of Certified Angus Beef. They’ve added ground beef to refrigerated biscuit dough, to create a snack, first course or light lunch for kids and adults alike. Adults: These go great with beer!

    RECIPE: SPOOKY SPIDERS GROUND BEEF BISCUITS

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 package taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tube (16-ounces) home-style refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
  • 16 sliced black or green olives
  • 32 pretzel sticks
  •  

    spooky-spider-biscuits-certifiedangus-230ps

    Spider muffins. Recipe courtesy Certified Angus Beef.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    2. COOK the ground beef and drain the excess fat. Add taco seasoning and water, simmer for 5 minutes and set aside.

    3. SEPARATE the dough into 8 biscuits; place each biscuit into the well of an ungreased large muffin tin. Press the dough firmly into bottom and up the sides of each cup.

    4. Divide the crumbled ground beef evenly into the dough cups. Top the meat with some ketchup or barbecue sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Place two olive slices on the top of each biscuit for the eyes.

    5. BAKE for 20 minutes, or until the biscuit edges are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes; remove from the muffin cups. Stick four pretzel sticks into each side of each biscuit cup for the legs and serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Seasonal Breakfast Bread

    pepperidge-farm-pumpkin-spice-swirl-230

    Swirl into holiday season with these delicious
    breads. Photo courtesy Pepperidge Farm.

     

    We just finished our last slices of Pepperidge Farm Blueberry Swirl Bread, a limited edition hoarded from the height of the summer in our freezer.

    Now, we’re moving on to two fall flavors: Caramel Apple Swirl Bread and Pumpkin Spice Swirl Bread, both available for a short time this fall.

    They make delicious toast and French toast. As toast, they combine the crunch of toasted bread with the sweetness of a breakfast pastry.

    Check the store locator to see where you can find them.

    And if you can’t find the seasonal specialties, content yourself with the year-round swirls: Cinnamon Swirl, Raisin Cinnamon Swirl, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Swirl and 100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl With Raisins.

    Our goal is to keep an eye out for other seasonal swirl breads, a fun new way to “eat seasonally.”

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fall Mocktail

    Two days we presented an extensive drink menu for a Halloween cocktail party. But what do you serve the non-drinkers and the kids?

    Fall mocktails, of course. You can find many of them online.

    For starters, here’s a recipe full of fall flavor: apple, cinnamon and ginger, courtesy of Reed’s Ginger Brew, which has a portfolio of ginger beers from plain, in different strengths, to cherry and raspberry.

    RECIPE: APPLE GINGER MOCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • Reed’s Spiced Apple Ginger Brew or other ginger beer
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Optional: splash of grenadine for color
  • Ice cubes
  • Cocktail option: 2 ounces apple schnapps (liqueur), applejack or Calvados (apple brandy)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a tumbler with ice. Pour in Spiced Apple Ginger Brew and optional alcohol.

    2. STIR with a cinnamon stick and serve.

       

    cider-mocktail-reedsgingerbrew-230

    Looking delicious: a fall mocktail of ginger beer with apple and cinnamon notes. Photo courtesy Reed’s Ginger Brew.

     

     

    reeds-spiced-apple-4-pack-230

    Reed’s seasonal six-pack. Photo courtesy
    Reed’s Ginger Brew.

     

    WHAT IS GINGER BEER

    Ginger ale is carbonated water simply fllavored with sugar and ginger flavoring. Ginger beer, on the other hand, is brewed for deeper and more complex flavors and a sizzling ginger “burn.”

    The basic recipe combines ginger, sugar, water, lemon or lime juice (for an acidic pH balance) and the ginger beer plant, a fungus that contains specific yeast and bacteria that aid fermentation. Other live cultures can be substituted, including brewers’ or bakers’ yeast, lactic acid bacteria, kefir grains or tibicos, another culture of bacteria and yeasts.

    Brewers can add citrus zest, cayenne pepper and other hot spices, and blend-ins from nettle or dandelion beers.

    After a few days of fermentation, you’ve got ginger beer, effervescent with natural carbon dioxide (as in the fermentation of beer).

    Ginger beer originated in England, where it can be made with an alcohol content of up to 11%, or with no alcohol at all. In the U.S., it is typically found as an alcohol-free soft drink.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Halloween Or Thanksgiving Bundt Cake

    The best seasonal bundt cake is a pumpkin bundt. Here are two versions, one for Halloween and one for Thanksgiving.

    You can use:

  • A special Nordicware pumpkin bundt cake pan
  • A single conventional bundt cake pan (for a shorter cake)
  • Two conventional bundt cakes, to approximate the style of the specialty pumpkin bundt pan (it won’t be quite as round)
  •  
    Next, pick your flavor. While chocolate and lemon poppy cakes are always popular, think seasonally:

  • Apple cake (see yesterday’s recipe for Apple Streusel Bundt Cake
  • Carrot cake
  • Cranberry-orange cake
  • Maple cake
  • Pumpkin cake
  • Sticky toffee cake
  •    

    pumpkin-bundt-cake-nordic-ware-230

    For Halloween, it’s a pumpkin or a jack-o-lantern. Photo courtesy Nordic Ware.

  • Spice cake (Nordic Ware makes a delicious Caramel Apple Spice Cake mix)
  •  
    If you’re making a two-bundt recipe, with the special pumpkin bundt or a traditional bundt, you can bake two different, complementary flavors (apple and carrot, chocolate and spice cake, for example).

     

    pumpkin-bundt-leaves-nordic-ware-230

    For Thanksgiving, it’s a pumpkin plucked
    from the pumpkin patch. Photo courtesy
    Nordic Ware.

     

    RECIPE: HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN BUNDT CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 2 bundt cakes (1 if you want the “short version”)
  • Vanilla frosting, tinted orange (here’s a buttercream frosting recipe, or use royal icing or other favorite, such as caramel frosting [recipe below])
  • Vanilla frosting, tinted green
  • Ice cream cone for stem
  • Optional: black icing or cake decorating gel for jack o’lantern face.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BAKE the bundt(s) from your favorite recipe or a cake mix. Cool.

    2. MAKE or buy vanilla frosting. Reserve 1/4 to tint green; tint 3/4 of the batch orange with food color. Mix equal parts of yellow and red food coloring to make orange. For a darker blood orange, add more red. For a lighter pumpkin orange, use more yellow.

     

    3. ASSEMBLE. Add a light layer of frosting in-between the bundts to hold them together. Don’t extend to the edge of the bundts; the frosting should not be seen from the outside. Insert the cone as the stem. If you like, you can fully frost the cake and draw a jack o’lantern face on the side of the Halloween bundt. For the Thanksgiving version, pipe some green leaves and tendrils instead.
     
    RECIPE: CARAMEL FROSTING

    This recipe was adapted from one we found in Southern Living (September 2005). You can make a plain caramel frosting, or add pecans and/or coconut.

    Ingredients

  • 2 cans (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1-1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans
  • Optional: 1-1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring continuously, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture reaches a pudding-like thickness.

    2. ADD optional ingredients: pecans and coconut. Remove from heat. Let cool and frost the cake as shown in the photos above.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Halloween Cocktail Party

    Toast All Hallow’s Eve with a Vampire Elixir. Photo courtesy Belvedere Vodka.

    There’s still time to invite friends to a Halloween cocktail party—costumes optional. Create your cocktail menu from these cocktail recipes:

  • Bloody Eyeball Martini
  • Bloody Vampire Martini
  • Brandy-Based Cocktails
  • Drunken Pumpkin Pie
  • Candy Corn Cocktail
  • Gin-Based Cocktails
  • Harvest Moon Cocktail
  • Kahlúa-Based Cocktails
  • Pumpkin Divine Martini
  • Spider Bite With Frangelico
  • Vampire Cocktail With Fangs
  • Vodka-Based Cocktails
  •    

    blood-vampire-martini-bettycrocker-230

    Bloody Vampire Martini. Photo courtesy Betty Crocker. Here’s the recipe.

     

     

    bloody-eyeball-martini-230

    Bloody Eyeball Martini, Photo courtesy Kris
    Plazek | WhatToDrink.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

    Serve Halloween party food like these:

  • Black Cat Canapés
  • Black Widow Spider Bruschetta
  • Breadstick Bones
  • Cheesy Ghost Crescents
  • Devilicious Deviled Eggs
  • Halloween cheeses
  • Halloween Crudité Platter, a preponderance of orange, red and yellow vegetables and a pumpkin-, yogurt- or sour cream-based dip (tint a white dip orange with food color)
  • Harvest chips—tortilla and other chips in flavors like pumpkin and sweet potato (check out Food Should Taste Good)
  • Meatball Mummies
  • Mozzarella Eyeballs
  • Mummy Dogs or Halloweenies (hot dogs)
  • Spider Legs (breadsticks)
  • Spider Web Pizza
  • Tarantula Tacos
  • Witches’ Brooms (breadsticks)
  •  

      

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Caramel Apple Cheesecake

    Just in time for Halloween, we received this recipe from GoBoldWithButter.com. Instead of biting into a hard candy apple, this Candy Apple Cheesecake melts in your mouth.

    Plan ahead: You need to make the cheesecake a day in advance. The caramel sauce can be made a week in advance.

    Says blogger Bree Hester of Baked Bree, who created the recipe: “Every year I make a ‘Welcome Fall’ dinner that involves roast pork, mashed potatoes, braised red cabbage and caramel apple cheesecake. It is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of dinner, one we look forward to all year long.

    “This recipe might seem a little on the complicated side, but you can make most of the components ahead of time and keep them in the fridge until you need them. I guarantee that your guests will be blown away. I know this because I get lots of oohs and ahhs when this baby hits the table.”

    See more of Bree’s wonderful recipes at BakedBree.com.

    RECIPE: CARAMEL APPLE CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients For Cheesecake

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  •    

    caramel-apple-cheesecake_baked-bree-gogoldwithbutter-230

    It’s the season for Caramel Apple Cheesecake. Photo courtesy Baked Bree | Go Bold With Butter.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap the pan in aluminum foil.

    2. ADD the graham cracker crumbs, butter and pecans to a food processor, and pulse until well combined. Press into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool completely.

    3. MIX the cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch in a food processor or with an electric mixer, until completely smooth. Add the sour cream, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, until everything is incorporated and completely smooth.

    4. POUR the filling into the cooled crust. Make a bain-marie: Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan and pour boiled water halfway up the sides. Cover the roasting pan loosely with foil. Bake 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the edges are set and the middle still has some jiggle. Check the pan about halfway through and add more water as needed.

    5. TRANSFER the pan to a cooling rack and cool completely. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

     

    fuji-apples-230

    Fuji apples. Photo courtesy The Fruit
    Company.

     

    Ingredients For The Brandy Caramel Sauce

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional: 1 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIMMER the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Keep warm.

    2. PLACE the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; do not stir. Swirl the pan occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden amber color, about 8 to 10 minutes. When the sugar has reached desired color…

    3. SLOWLY WHISK the cream into mixture until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the brandy, sea salt and vanilla bean. Pour into an airtight container. The caramel will keep in the fridge for one week. Reheat gently if it hardens.

     

    Ingredients For The Apple Mixture

  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Peel from one lemon
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 Fuji apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the apple juice, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.

    2. STIR in the butter. Add the apple slices and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the brandy and cook until the sauce reduces in half again. Let cool slightly before adding to cheesecake.
     
    TO ASSEMBLE

    1. UMNOLD the cheesecake from springform pan.

    2. POUR the caramel sauce on top of cheesecake. Top with the apples and serve.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

    Back to school time always makes us think of our Nana’s peanut butter cookies. Nana was a traditionalist—just peanut butter and chopped peanuts. But for an extra bit of fun, add peanut butter baking chips, which are the third peanut component in these triple peanut butter cookies from Zulka Morena.

    Variations: Substitute toffee chips, chocolate chips or white chocolate chips for the peanut butter chips. Or, amp up the peanut profile with flavored peanuts (Planter’s, for example, makes Chipotle Peanuts, Cocoa Peanuts, Salted Caramel Peanuts and Smoked Peanuts). You can also add raisins or dried cherries or cranberries (we’re keen on the dried cherries).

    For Halloween, add a bit of candy corn!

    You won’t have a triple PB cookie, but you will have something equally delicious.

    RECIPE: TRIPLE PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

    Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 cup organic creamy peanut butter (no added oil)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup table sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups peanut butter chips
  •    

    Triple-Peanut-Butter-Cookies-zulka-230

    Snack time! Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    zulka-morena-cane-sugar-2-230

    From a family-owned company that does
    things the right way. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     

    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

    2. COMBINE the butter and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 15 second intervals until melted. Add the vanilla extract and stir until combined and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

    3. BEAT the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and slightly thickened. Add the sugars and mix well. Pour the peanut butter mixture in and mix well, scraping down the sides when necessary.

    4. ADD the flour mixture and mix on low until combined. Add the one tablespoon of milk and mix again. Add the peanuts and peanut butter chips and stir by hand until combined. Chill the dough at least one hour, up to overnight before baking. When ready to bake…

    5. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone bake mats. Scoop out rounded heaping tablespoon and a half sized dough balls and place on the cookie sheets about 2” apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are slightly golden. Do not over bake.

    6. COOL on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

     

    ABOUT ZULKA

    More than 100 years ago, the Zulka family built mills among the lush sugar fields of Mexico, in a tropical area ideal for sugar cane farming. They remain a family-run company, continually investing and modernizing so that these same facilities can process more than six million tons of fresh-cut sugarcane each year.

    All of the sugar cane they process comes from local small family farms, owned by hard-working people who are dedicated to producing top quality sugar cane. “We are proud of our workers, partners, and product,” says Zulka.

    With most sugar coming from enormous, soul-less companies, it’s a great mission to support. Check the store locator to see where you can buy Zulka products.

    You can also find it on Amazon.com in white sugar, brown sugar and individual white sugar packets.

    The company will soon be introducing powdered sugar and chili sugar, with a touch of chili spice.

    Find more delicious recipes on Zulka.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Apple “Jell-O” With Caramel Crème Fraîche

    For sophisticated palates, here’s a riff on the Halloween caramel apple: apple gelatin with a cloak of caramel crème fraîche.

    It’s from CookTheStory.com, the website of Christine Pittman, a recipe developer and photographer. Check out the website for more delicious recipes.

    “For this recipe,” says Christine, “you combine apple juice and gelatin and then divide it among small jars before putting it in the fridge to set. Then you mix crème fraîche with caramel sauce and whipped cream and slip it on top of the jello. There’s a layer of nuts and caramel between the jello and the crème fraîche. Oh my!”

    Note that while many people use the term Jell-O generically, it is a trademark of Kraft Foods, and refers only to the Jell-O brand. Everything else is properly called gelatin.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE APPLE GELATIN WITH CARAMEL CRÈME FRAÎCHE

    Prep time is 25 minutes. The recipe can be made up to two days in advance.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 4 cups apple juice, divided
  • 3 packets (0.25 ounce each) gelatin powder (2.5 tablespoons powder)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1½ cups caramel sauce, divided
  • 8 ounces crème fraîche (store-bought or homemade)
  •    

    apple-jello-caramel-creme-fraiche-cookthestory-230

    Photo courtesy CookTheStory.com.

  • 1¾ cup whipped cream (store-bought or homemade from 1 cup whipping cream)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. POUR 3 cups of the juice into a medium sauce pan. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile…

    2. POUR the remaining cup of cold apple juice into a large bowl. Sprinkle the cold juice with the gelatin powder. Let stand for 1 minute. Add the boiling juice to the cold juice. Stir continuously for 3 minutes and then stir in the maple syrup or honey.

    3. DIVIDE the apple juice mixture among 8 jars, glasses or dessert bowls with an 8-10 ounce capacity. Refrigerate until set, about 3-4 hours. Once the jelly has set…

    4. COMBINE the walnuts with the cinnamon and ¾ cup of the caramel sauce. Divide evenly among the 8 containers. (Up until this point the recipe can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep the containers refrigerated). When ready to serve…

    5. MIX the remaining ¾ cup caramel sauce with the crème fraîche in a large bowl. Add about 1/3 of the whipped cream and stir it gently. Add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold it in just until it is combined (it’s alright if there are ribbons of caramel color through the cream). Divide the caramel cream among the containers.

     

    creme_fraiche_vbc_230

    Crème fraîche. Photo courtesy Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRÈME FRAÎCHE & SOUR CREAM

    These two fresh dairy products are similar, and sometimes can be substituted for each other.

    Sour cream is:

  • Tangier than sour cream.
  • Made by thickening cream with lactic acid cultures.
  • Has a fat content of about 20%, and more protein—which is why heating it results in curdling.
  • Can include stabilizers and thickeners, such as gelatin, rennin (a protein-digesting enzyme that curdles milk) and vegetable enzymes.
  •  
    Crème fraîche is:

  • Thicker and richer than sour cream, with a fat content of about 30%.
  • Made traditionally made (in France) from unpasteurized cream that naturally contained the right bacteria to thicken it. In the U.S., which has pasteurized cream, crème fraîche is made by adding the bacteria with other fermenting agents.
  • Does not contain added stabilizers or thickeners.
  •  

    THE HISTORY OF JELL-O

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones; aspic, a savory, gelatin-like food made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the day of commercial gelatin, and was very difficult to prepare, relying only on the natural gelatin found in the meat to make the aspic set.

    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. The concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    He tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience, and in 1899 sold his formula to a fellow townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. Jell-O was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York.

    Alas, sales were slow and one day, Wait sold Sam Nico the business for $35. In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising and by 1902 sales were $250,000. In 1923 management created the Jell-O Company, Inc., which replaced the Genesee Pure Foods Company, the purpose of which was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930.

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which also acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. There is a Jell-O Museum in Le Roy, New York.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: The Best Baklava

    baklava-cookbookchick-calwalnutboard-230

    A winning baklava recipe. Photo courtesy
    Food 52.

     

    We admit to an enthusiasm for baklava. Good baklava—made with quality honey—is one of the world’s great pastries. Here’s the history of baklava, an ancient pastry that dates to the 8th century B.C.E.

    This recipe was the runner up in a contest held by Food52 for the California Walnut Board.

    “This is my mom’s recipe,” says CookbookChick, who submitted the recipe. “I don’t know where she got the idea for her ‘secret ingredient,’ but it produces the best baklava ever. [Mom is Mrs. Z, credited below.]

    “If you like baklava but can’t get past the cloying sweetness, this is the one to try: You will never go back or be satisfied with the stuff you get in Greek restaurants again.”

    Honey and apples is a Rosh Hashanah tradition, a wish for a sweet new year. The Jewish New Year begins next Thursday; some sweet, honeyed baklava would not be out of place. Try this recipe, courtesy of Food52 for the California Walnut Board.

     
    RECIPE: MRS. Z’S SECRET-INGREDIENT BAKLAVA

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

    For The Baklava Syrup

  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  •  
    For The Baklava

  • 1 cup graham crackers, finely crushed (the secret ingredient!)
  • 1-1/2 pounds walnuts
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound butter, melted and clarified*
  • 1 pound filo dough
  • 24 whole cloves
  •  
    *To clarify, melt the butter, skim off the milk solids and pour off the clear yellow butter. Discard the white solids in the bottom of the pan.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, just until a thin syrup is formed. Allow to cool to room temperature while you build the baklava.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    3. CRUSH the graham crackers into fine crumbs. You can do this (a) by putting them in a sealed plastic bag and pounding them with a meat tenderizer, (b) rolling with a rolling pin, or (c) pulverizing in a food processor.

    4. GRIND the nuts finely with a manual nut grinder (preferable) or in a food processor. With the latter, take care not to grind too far, or you will have nut butter.

    5. COMBINE the graham cracker crumbs, nuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.

     

    walnut-halves-murrays-230

    California walnuts. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

     

    6. LAY out the filo dough on a clean kitchen towel. Lay another towel on top of the filo to help prevent it from drying out.

    7. BUILD the baklava in an 8 x 8-inch square pan. Layer 6 to 8 sheets of filo in the bottom of the pan, brushing each sheet lightly with butter before adding the next (a silicone basting brush makes it easy). Many Greek cooks, including Mrs. Z, simply drizzle the butter from a teaspoon; or you can use a traditional boar bristle pastry brush.

    8. SPRINKLE the nut mixture in a thin layer over the filo dough. Cover with 3 to 4 more sheets, each brushed lightly with butter. Repeat until the nut mixture is completely used up. Cover with 6 to 8 filo sheet, brushing each layer lightly with butter.

    9. REFRIGERATE the uncooked baklava for an hour or two until the butter solidifies. Then, before baking, cut with a sharp knife into small squares or diamond shapes. If you want the traditional diamond shapes, start with a corner-to-corner diagonal cut. Stick a whole clove into the center of each piece.

    10. BAKE at 350°F for no longer than one hour, until it becomes a light golden brown. If the baklava dries out, it is ruined.

    11. REMOVE from the oven and immediately pour the room temperature syrup evenly over the hot pastry. The rule is hot pastry, cool syrup or you’ll get a soggy dessert! Start with about half of the syrup, letting the pastry absorb it (you may not use it all).

    Serving idea: Nestle each piece in a pretty paper cupcake cup or foil cupcake cup and present on a platter.

      

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