THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.



Archive for Holidays & Occasions

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

Red White & Blue Jell-O

Red, White & Blue Jell-O Squares

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ingredients For 6 Servings
 
For The Red Layer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Hot Dog & Tater Tot Skewers

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

    This recipe was created by Foodness Gracious for Lightlife.

    RECIPE: HOT DOG & TATER TOT SKEWERS

    Ingredients

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

  • Long metal skewers
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Hot Dog Skewers Recipe

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

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

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

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

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

    Comments

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

    American Flag Cake

    American Flag Cake Recipe

    Brown Eggs Carton

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

     

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

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

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

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

    For The Sponge Cake

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

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

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

     

    Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Confectioners Sugar

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Pancakes & Maple Syrup Substitutes

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

    You can do it easily:

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

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

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

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

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

    Ingredients

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

     

    Pancakes Embedded Fruit

    Sautéed Apple Pancakes

    Peanut Butter & Jelly Pancakes

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

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

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

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve A Guacamole Trio

    Guacamole Recipes

    Chunky Guacamole

    Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

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

     

    So many guacamole recipes, so little time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Braided Oaxaca Cheese

    Queso Fresca With Salsa

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

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

    Crumbled Cotija

    Enchilado Anejo Cheese

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

     

    AGED HISPANIC-STYLE CHEESES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blood Orange Margarita

    Depending on which survey you read, the Margarita may be the most popular cocktail in the U.S. There are scores of variations, from Ginger Margarita and Melon Margarita to Frozen Grape Margarita to a Frozen Kiwi Cilantro Margarita.

    For Cinco de Mayo, we’re adding a new Margarita recipe to our repertoire: the Blood Orange Margarita.

    The original Margarita was made with tequila, Cointreau and lime juice. Here’s the story and more Margarita trivia.

    The recipe was developed by Chef Billy at Prepara.com. If you can’t find fresh blood oranges for the purée, look for frozen purée or substitute refrigerated blood orange juice.

    RECIPE #1: BLOOD ORANGE MARGARITA

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • .75 ounce Cointreau
  • .5 ounce tequila
  • 1 ounce blood orange purée (recipe below)
  • .5 ounce lime juice
  • Optional: splash simple syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Optional: coarse salt or salt-orange zest combination for rim*
  • Garnish: Blood orange wheel or lime wheel
  •  

    Blood Orange Margarita Recipe

    Toast Cinco de Mayo with a Blood Orange Margarita. Photo courtesy Betty Crocker.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the optional salt rim. We like to mix 1/3 orange zest with 2/3 salt (zest the orange before squeezing the juice). Dip the rim of the glass into 1/4 inch of water, then twist in a dish of the salt or salt mix to create the rim.

    2. COMBINE all of the ingredients in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a glass with more ice. Garnish as desired and serve.
     
    RECIPE #2: BLOOD ORANGE PURÉE

    Ingredients

  • 4 blood oranges, peeled, segmented and seeded
  • 2 tablespoon simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD all ingredients to a blender or food processor and purée. Taste and add more simple syrup and.or lemon juice as desired.
     
    MORE MARGARITA RECIPES

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Dulce De Leche & Dulce De Leche Rice Pudding Recipes

    Dulce De Leche Rice Pudding Recipe

    dulce-de-leche-imusa-230ps

    Top: Use ‘em if you got ‘em—serve pudding in cocktail glasses (photo courtesy Taste Of Home). Bottom: A ramekin of Dulce De Leche Rice Pudding (photo and recipe courtesy IMUSAusa.com.

     

    Rice is not native* to Mexico; dulce de leche caramel sauce is. Combine them to make a most delicious fusion food: Dulce De Leche Rice Pudding. It’s a treat for Cinco De Mayo or for any day of the year when your sweet tooth calls.

    WHAT IS DULCE DE LECHE?

    Dulce de leche (DOOL-say day LETCH-ay) is a caramel sauce, prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a confection that can be used as a filling or sauce.

    You can buy it, but it’s easy to make—simply by heating sweetened condensed milk until it caramelizes, as in the recipe below. Before the invention of sweetened condensed milk (it was patented by Gail Borden in 1856), dulce de leech was made by more laboriously reducing milk (cow’s or goat’s) with sugar. Now, it’s easy, so let’s start by making a batch.

    RECIPE: DULCE DE LECHE

    Ingredients For 1-1/4 Cups

  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F with the rack in middle. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate and cover tightly with foil. Set the pie plate in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the pie plate.

    2. BAKE for 45 minutes, then check the water level. Add additional water as necessary, and bake another 45 minutes, or until the milk is thickened and brown. Remove the plate from the water bath and cool, uncovered.

    3. REFRIGERATE, tightly covered, until ready to use. It will keep without loss of flavors for up to 2 weeks.
     
    You can also make dulce de leche by boiling the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot on the stovetop, simmering for 2-3 hours. The oven technique is faster.

     
    _______________________
    *Rice has been consumed in China for some 5,000 years. The first documented account of cultivation appears in 2,800 B.C.E. The grain then traveled west: to ancient Greece, from Persia to the Nile Delta, wherever there was the warmth and aquaculture it required. It came to the Western Hemisphere, landing in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1685. [Source]

     

    Our father’s favorite recipe was rice pudding. The first of two recipes.
     
    RECIPE: DULCE DE LECHE RICE PUDDING

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 4 cups whole milk, divided
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups dulce de leche
  • Optional garnish: powdered cinnamon
  • Optional garnish: slivered almonds, toasted (instructions below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING 3 cups of milk to simmer in a small pot over medium heat. Add rice and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring with a wooden spatula every ten minutes.

    2. WHISK the egg yolks, vanilla and salt with the remaining cup of milk and set aside.

    3. SLOWLY MIX the egg yolk mixture into the rice and add the dulce de leche. Continue mixing until the contents come to a simmer and the rice pudding starts to thicken. Remove from heat and pour into individual bowls or ramekins. When ready to serve…

    4. GARNISH with cinnamon and almonds.
     
    MORE DULCE DE LECHE RECIPES

  • Cheesecake
  • French Toast
  • Dessert Grilled Cheese
  • Noche Bueno Sandwich Cookies
  • Popcorn Fudge
  •  

    dulce-de-leche- audinou-wiki-230

    Dulce De Leche Cheesecake

    Top: It may look like chocolate pudding in this photo, but in person, dulce de leche is a deep caramel color (photo Audinou | Wikimedia). Bottom: Make Rice Pudding Cheesecake With Dulce De Leche, with this recipe from Kraft.

     

     
    HOW TO TOAST ALMONDS

    You can toast slivered or whole almonds in just five minutes, in a regular or toaster oven. Toasting gives all nuts a deeper, smoother flavor. Toast 1/2 to 1 cup as a garnish. If you have leftovers, store them for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. Use them cereal, on salads and soups, on vegetables, in muffin batter, on frosting, etc.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Spread the almonds in a single layer on cookie sheet or in a roasting pan. Bake for 3-4 minutes; then shake pan to for even browning.watching closely so that they don’t get over-toasted or burn.

    2. RETURN to the oven, checking every minute until the almonds are the desired color. Don’t let them get too dark; they’ll acquire a burnt taste.

    3. REMOVE from oven and immediately pour transfer to a large plate to cool in a single layer (otherwise, the almonds will continue to brown from the carryover heat.

    4. STORE, completely cooled, in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Jalapeño Compound Butter

    Ravioli With Hazelnut Butter

    Roquefort  Butter

    Top: Ravioli with walnut butter (photo courtesy David Venable | QVC). Bottom: Steak with Roquefort Butter (photo Recipes101.com).

     

    Whatever you’re cooking for Cinco de Mayo, spice it up with Jalapeño Compound Butter (recipe below). You can use it for cooking, as a garnish (a pat on the top of grilled meat, seafood, corn-on-the-cob), or as a bread spread.

    WHAT IS COMPOUND BUTTER?

    Compound butter (beurre composé), seasoned/flavored butter, is a staple of French cuisine. Almost any flavor can be blended into butter, which is then rolled into a log, covered with plastic wrap, and refrigerated. When needed, just cut a slice from the log.

    For most of its life, compound butter was used as finishing butter: a pat to top hot proteins and vegetables, or blended with pan juices to make a sauce.

    Perhaps the best-known compound butter in the U.S. is garlic butter, known as beurre d’ail or beurre à la bourguignonne) in France. Italian-American garlic bread is an Americanized bruschetta, made with butter instead of olive oil.

    The great French chef Escoffier (1846-1935) published 35 combinations in 1903. They included such classic combinations as anchovy butter with steak and seafood, Roquefort butter on steaks, beurre à la maître d’hotel (lemon parsley butter) with escargots, various herb butters for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables; and numerous nut, spice and wine butters.

    As a truffle lover, we find truffle butter to be a transformational experience, whether used simply on pasta or in a more elaborate preparation. We can have a joyous meal of only a fresh baguette and a tub of D’Artagnan truffle butter.
     
    MODERN COMPOUND BUTTER

    You may not cook French cuisine, but if you like butter, you can incorporate compound butters into much of what you do make: grilled meats and seafood, pasta, potatoes, rice and other grains, eggs, anything that needs a butter sauce.

    Use your favorite flavors: the classics or more modern additions to American cuisine, such as curry, hot sauce, lavender, wasabi…you can think of dozens of great pairings.

    Consider combinations such as:

  • Blue cheese butter in the center of a burger.
  • Chipotle butter for corn-on-the-cob.
  • Chive butter for baked potatoes.
  • Cilantro butter for grilled fish.
  • Coffee butter for toast or steak.
  • Harissa-za’atar butter for lamb chops.
  • Herb butter for cooking eggs.
  • Radish butter on slices of baguette.
  • Seaweed butter for fish or noodles.
  • Sriracha-honey butter for biscuits and chicken.
  • Sweet butter for pancakes, waffles, muffins and toast (chocolate butter, cinnamon butter, maple butter, pecan butter, strawberry butter, vanilla butter).
  •  
    Any of these butters can also be used as spreads; on potatoes, rice and vegetables; and for basting and sautéing foods in butter, or making a quick butter sauce.
     

     

    RECIPE #1: JALAPEÑO COMPOUND BUTTER

    This recipe, from Gordy’s Pickle Jar, uses Gordy’s Thai Basil Pickled Jalapeños. Or, you can pickle your own (recipe below).

    This recipe is for a small batch: good for testing and then adjusting the ingredients.

    Ingredients

  • ½ (1 stick) cup salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons diced Gordy’s Thai Basil Jalapeños (about 8 pieces) or substitute (we minced the jalapeños for more even distribution of flavor)
  • ½ teaspoon brine from the pickled jalapeños
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the stick of butter into eight pieces and place it in a stainless steel bowl. Let it soften to room temperature.

    2. ADD the diced jalapeños and the brine and blend with a wooden spoon until the jalapeños are evenly distributed. Using the back of the spoon, shape the butter into a ball and transfer to a sheet of plastic wrap.

    3. WRAP the butter in the plastic wrap and shape it into a log. Refrigerate the wrapped log and chill at least 1 hour to harden. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and slice into whatever size you need.
     
    RECIPE # 2: QUICK-PICKLED JALAPEÑOS

    This quick-pickling recipe is meant for short-term consumption and storing in the fridge. Do not use it to “put away” pickles. You may wish to cut the recipe in half if you won’t be using the pickled jalapeños for any other purpose (burgers, salads, jalapeño mayonnaise, etc.).

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound jalapeños (we used red for more color)
  • 2 cups white or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt (substitute kosher salt)
  • 1 tablespoon favorite spices (clove, coriander, cumin, oregano)
  • Optional: 2 cloves garlic
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon sugar*
  •  

    Jalapeno Compound Butter

    Compound Butter

    Top: Jalapeño butter (photo courtesy Gordy’s Pickle Jar). We minced our jalapeños finely for better distribution of flavor. Bottom: Different compound butter flavors (photo courtesy SheKnows.com).

     
    *You can add sugar to the brine, but make a batch without it first. It’s healthier, and it will let the flavor of the spices shine through.
     
    Preparation

    1. SLICE the jalapenos and place in a jar (for compound butter, mince). Cover with white or white wine vinegar (alternative: use half vinegar and half salted water). Add your favorite spices to the brine.

    2. ADD the jalapeños to the brine, making sure that the brine covers the jalapeños. Let sit overnight, although if you’re in a pinch, you can use them after an hour of marinating. They just won’t have a more complex flavor.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Authentic Mexican Recipes For Cinco De Mayo

    Mexican Ceviche

    Chicken Fajitas

    TOP: Ceviche Acapulqueno, from the Pacific Coast of Mexico (photo courtesy KatanaeStudio.com. BOTTOM: Tex-Mex foods like fajitas are not authentic Mexican (photo courtesy Wild Oats), but Tex-Mex cuisine that originated in Texas.

     

    Chef Johnny Gnall’s mother is from Mexico, so he grew up eating the real deal: authentic Mexican cuisine. So today’s tip is: Cook something authentic for Cinco de Mayo.

    It’s easy to default to Tex-Mex favorites: most “Mexican” food North of the Rio Grande is Tex-Mex, a cuisine developed by Mexicans who moved to Texas (Tejanos). For example, beef, cheese-stuffed burritos and wheat [white] flour are not common in Mexico. You won’t find chili con carne there; or chimichangas, for that matter.

    Queso dips and fajitas were born in the U.S.A. Nachos were invented in 1943 on the Mexican side of the border, as a spur-of-the-moment solution to feed a group of Army wives from Texas who stopped at a restaurant when the kitchen was closed.

    Anything with beef, black beans, Cheddar or other yellow cheese, cumin, wheat flour, black beans, and canned tomatoes are Tex-Mex, a term that first appeared in print in the 1940s. Tex-Mex was developed by Tejano restaurateurs using local ingredients to appeal to gringos (there’s plenty of beef in Texas). The fusion cuisine began to expand nationwide when food writers “discovered” it in the 1970s.

    While cooking Mexican cuisine is often a multi-step process, there are some simple yet authentic dishes you can make. Also note: There is no single “Mexican cuisine.” As it is everywhere, different regions of any country have different specialties, based on local ingredients.
     

    AUTHENTIC MEXICAN RECIPES FOR CINCO DE MAYO

    RECIPE #1: CEVICHE ACAPULQUEÑO

    Ceviche can be found throughout Mexico (and the rest of Central and South America). Its origins lie along the country’s coastlines, where fresh fish was a staple. Recipes vary according to the local catch.

    This recipe is a popular Pacific Coast ceviche. The distinguishing characteristic of Pacific ceviches is the use of tomato juice and, often, pickled chilies in the recipe. Eastern ceviches, from Mexico’s Gulf Coast, are less complex, using fresh chilies and foregoing the tomato juice.

    You can serve ceviche as an appetizer, as a light entrée (especially at lunch), or a snack. Chef Johnny’s mother eats a big bowl for breakfast when vacationing in Acapulco.

     
    Always buy the freshest fish you can find for ceviche.

    Ingredients For 4 One-Cup Servings

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless fish fillets, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican* oregano
  • Optional: 1 bay leaf
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 fresh serrano chiles, seeded and minced
  • 20 green Manzanilla olives, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Optional garnish: sliced avocado
  • Optional: tortilla chips
  •  
    ______________
    *Mexican oregano is a different herb than Mediterranean/European oregano. It is in a different botanical family and has different flavor notes. Mediterranean oregano is sweeter, with anise notes. Mexican oregano is grassy, with citrus notes. That being said, you can substitute Mediterranean oregano; just use a little less of it. You can also substitute dried marjoram, which comes from the same botanical family as Mexican oregano and also has citrus notes. Dried lemon verbena is another option.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the fish in a non-reactive mixing bowl and cover it with the lime juice. Let the fish marinate for 3 hours. (This part of the process is curing—essentially, cooking—the fish).

    2. ADD to the bowl: the onion, tomato, orange juice, half a cup of the tomato juice, 1 tablespoon of minced serranos, a few tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch or two of dried oregano, bay leaf, olives, cilantro, and a pinch of salt. Cover the bowl and let everything marinate overnight. The next day…

    3. TASTE and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Garnish with avocado and serve with tortillas chips.

     

    RECIPE #2: FISH VERACRUZ STYLE

    The Mexican state of Veracruz on the Gulf Coast is known for its fine cuisine. While recipes can be quite elaborate, this one is quick and easy.

    This dish was adapted from a Spanish dish called Frita that uses chicken, not fish. The Veracruzeños substituted fish and also added the spicy chilies, as is typical when “Mexicanizing” a dish.

    Ingredients

  • Snapper fillets (substitute tilapia or other white fish)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 limes
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2-3 pickled jalapeños
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup sliced green olives (pimiento-stuffed is fine)
  • Garnish: avocado or lime slices
  •  
    Serve With:

  • White rice
  •  

    Mexican Tilapia Recipe

    Tilapia Veracruz Style (photo courtesy MexicoInMyKitchen.com).

     
    Preparation

    1. SEASON the filets by rubbing salt, pepper, and lime into the flesh; let sit fit for 15 minutes. The goal here is not to fully cook the fish as in ceviche, but rather to infuse it with a bit of flavor. While the fish is sitting…

    2. CHOP half a white onion, the garlic, bell pepper, pickled jalapeños and tomatoes. Sweat the onion, garlic, and peppers in a pot until soft; then add the tomatoes with as much of their liquid as possible. Add the olives, bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes.

    3. ADD the fish to a pot, covering the filets as best you can with the sauce. Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the fish is done. Garnish and serve.

      

    Comments



    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.