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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

RECIPE: Warm Spinach Mascarpone Dip

Among our Eatin’ O’ The Green recipes for St. Patrick’s Day, this warm spinach dish is very popular. Who doesn’t love a spinach dip, with its glimmer of healthful green spinach blended into a creamy (and not so healthful) base?

This recipe, from Vermont Creamery,is made even richer with mascarpone.

It’s delicious as a kick-back snack with Irish beer; or with wine and savory cocktails like the Martini.

RECIPE: WARM SPINACH MASCARPONE DIP

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Dippers: baguette slices, crackers, pita chips, toasts
  •  

    spinach-mascarpone-dip-vermontcreamery-230

    Warm and creamy, it’s Popeye’s favorite dip. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. COOK the onion with olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, until translucent.

    3. ADD frozen spinach and heat until spinach is hot but still green. Add mascarpone, salt, pepper, cayenne, Parmesan cheese and stir. Pour the mixture into a small casserole or baking dish.

    4. BAKE for 30 minutes until bubbling around the edges. Serve warm with pita chips or a sliced baguette. Or add a note of healthfulness with raw veggies (crudités).

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Upside Down Irish Whiskey Cake

    Irish whiskey cake: an upside down apple
    cake with a mascarpone filling. Photo
    courtesy Betty Crocker.

     

    This cake was originally pitched to us as a holiday fruitcake—an upside-down apple cake with whiskey-soaked fruit. But we liked the idea of it for St. Patrick’s Day as well.

    The recipe, from Betty Crocker, was developed with Betty Crocker SuperMoist Yellow Cake Mix. But if you prefer your own homemade cake mix with butter instead of vegetable oil, you can make the cake from scratch.

  • Prepare it in advance. You can prepare the dried fruit the night before, bake the cake layers, and/or whip up (and refrigerate) the topping the day before. Assemble the cake on the day you serve it.
  • Single layer option. Instead of a layer cake, you can make two single layer cakes. Place a single cake layer, apple side up, on a cake stand. Top with a dollop of the mascarpone topping and garnish as desired.
  • Substitute whiskey. You can use Bourbon or other whiskey instead of the Irish whiskey.
  •  
    RECIPE: UPSIDE DOWN IRISH WHISKEY CAKE

    Ingredients

    For The Fruit Cake

  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 3 tablespoons Irish whiskey
  • 3 red apples, unpeeled, quartered, cored, very thinly (1/4 inch) sliced
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds, finely ground*
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
  •  

    Filling & Topping

  • 1/4 cup apple jelly
  • 2 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Optional garnishes: fresh raspberries† or
    cranberries, thin orange slices
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MIX dried cranberries, apricots, orange peel and bourbon in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour or overnight.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 350°F (325°F for a dark or nonstick pan). Generously grease bottom and sides of two 8-inch round cake pans with shortening.

    3. LINE bottom of each pan with cooking parchment paper. Grease parchment paper with shortening. Line bottom and side of each pan with overlapping apple slices, cutting slices as necessary to line side of each pan.

     

    Mascarpone-230

    In the U.S., mascarpone is sold in eight-ounce tubs. Super-rich and thick, in Italy it is served with berries instead of the American favorite, whipped cream. Photo by Melody Lan | THE NIBBLE.

     

    4. BEAT cake mix, water, ground almonds, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed until moistened, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Stir in soaked dried fruit and ginger. Gently pour into pans over apple slices.

    5. BAKE 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately turn pans upside down to release cakes onto cooling racks.

    6. MAKE glaze: In small microwavable bowl, microwave apple jelly uncovered on High 15 to 30 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds, until hot. Brush over apples on top and side of each cake to make shiny. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, in medium bowl…

    7. MAKE filling: Beat mascarpone cheese, whipping cream and sugar with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.

    8. ASSEMBLE on a serving plate: Place one cake, apple side up. Top with whipped cream mixture. Gently place remaining cake layer on top of cream, apple side up. Garnish with fresh cranberries/arils and orange slices and toasted sliced almonds. Cut into slices with serrated knife. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cake.

     
    *Grind the slivered almonds in small food processor, or very finely chop with knife.

    †You can roll the raspberries in sugar—ideally superfine sugar—for a special effect.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Irish Beer

    murphys_stout-bkgd-mully1.wordpress-230

    A glass of Murphy’s shows off the chocolaty
    color. It also has chocolaty flavors, and a
    sweetness which makes it an ideal “dessert
    beer.” Photo courtesy Murphy’s.

     

    Many people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with beer. But this is not the occasion to pull out your favorite American craft beers or mass-market standards such as Bud, Coors or Miller.

    No, this is time for Irish beer.

    You’ve got two choices here:

  • Imported beers brewed in Ireland
  • Irish-style beers brewed in the U.S.
  •  
    There is no one style of Irish beer. The brews range from light and crisp to strong, rich and full-bodied for sipping, to light and crisp. So whatever your style of choice, you’ll find an Irish beer or two that fits the bill.

    But lager is the style of choice in the Emerald Isle, accounting for 60% of the beer sold. Stout is the second favorite at 34%, and ale comprises the remaining 6% is Ale. [Source: Irish Beer Market Survey 2010]

    How about an Irish beer tasting party for St. Patrick’s Day? The selection will depend on what’s available in your area, but here are brands to look for.

     
    Irish Lager

  • Harp Lager, perhaps the best-known Irish lager in the U.S., is a crisp, light lager, clean and refreshing.
  • Porterhouse Bohemia is a black lager style that’s relatively new to Ireland. The recipe was developed by a Czech brewer using Pilsner Urquell yeast, but delivers the roasted chocolate flavor that Irish stout drinkers crave.
  •  
    *Not all oyster stouts are made with oysters. The name indicates a style of stout, popular with the oysters served at pubs.

     

    Irish Stout

  • Beamish is a bit lighter and spicier than the iconic Guinness, dark and chocolaty.
  • Guinness Draught, the most famous of Irish beers, is rich and creamy with roasty malts and hints of chocolate. Compare it with the stonger Extra Stout and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, hoppier like an I.P.A. and higher in alcohol.
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout (photo above), lighter and sweeter than the first two, has caramel, chocolate and espresso flavors that make it just right for dessert. Seriously—try it with an apple tart.
  • Ohara’s Irish Stout is an old-school style: robust, full-bodied and hoppy with roasty notes from the barley and a subtle sweetness. O’Hara’s Celtic Stout has a very different profile: smooth and dry with flavors of coffee and licorice.
  • Porterhouse Oyster Stout is actually brewed with fresh oysters, shucked into the tank*. The oyster flavor is very subtle (it has been compared to the brininess in an Asian fish sauce), and oyster lovers might prefer that those oysters were in front of them on the half shell. But they do create a different flavor profile, which includes some conventional stout flavors (creamy, roasty, malty).
  •  

    murphys-irish-red-230

    Irish red ale has a ruby hue—naturally, from roasted barley or in lesser brews, from artificial coloring. Photo courtesy Murphy’s Irish Ale.

     

    Irish Ale

  • Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, smooth and creamy, dates back to the 14th century. Brewed by Guinness, the amber ale has been described as a less hoppy Smithwick’s. It has a creamy head like Guinness, a malty aroma and flavor and is sweet and creamy on the palate, offset by a touch of bitterness.
  • Murphy’s Irish Red (photo above) does have a red hue, generated by small amounts of roasted barley (caveat: some manufacturers artificially color their “Irish red” beers red). In America, darker amber ales are sometimes labeled (or mis-labeled) as red ales. Murphy’s Irish Red is the real deal: dry, crisp, hoppy and highly carbonated. It delivers hints of caramel and fruit.
  • O’Hara’s Irish Wheat, a golden wheat ale, is a lighter thirst-quencher in the style of Belgian wheat beers. It delivers notes of bananas, peaches and plums.
  • Smithwick’s Irish Ale dates back to the 14th century; Smithwick’s is Ireland’s oldest operating brewery (and the largest ale producer in Ireland). With a similar profile to Murphy’s, it delivers a deep caramel maltiness and a hint of hops and roasted barley, coffee and sweet fruits.
  •  
    DON’T LIKE BEER?

    Look for Irish hard cider. It’s a relative newcomer—the first large commercial batches were brewed in the mid-1930s by William Magner. Cider now accounts for 12% of Ireland’s “beer market,” much of that Magner’s Irish Cider, which can be found in the U.S.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Beer Flavored Jelly Beans

    beer-jelly-belly-230

    Chew, don’t chug, these beer-flavored jelly
    beans. Photo courtesy Jelly Belly.

     

    What if your kid’s first beer was a jelly bean?

    Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Jelly Belly Candy Company has launched the first beer-flavored jelly bean, called Draft Beer.

    Beer has been a oft-requested flavor for decades. After years of working on the formulation, the non-alcoholic product is ready for St. Patrick’s Day, Easter baskets and beyond.

    Jelly Belly sent us a sample and yes, it does taste like beer. The irridescent pale gold jelly beans are alcohol free, yet deliver a beer aroma and subtle beer flavor.

  • A 16-ounce re-sealable bag (approximately 400 jelly beans) is $8.99.
  • If you really want to tie one on, a 10-pound bulk box is $85.99.
  •  
    Stock up for National Jelly Bean Day, April 22nd. (Here’s the history of the jelly bean.)

     
    WANT THEM IN GREEN?

    There’s a limited edition of the Draft Beer Jelly Belly, colored green for St. Patrick’s day, available exclusively at Jelly Belly Visitor and Tour Centers in California and Wisconsin.

    All Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors are dairy free, fat free, gluten free, OU kosher, peanut free and vegetarian.

    Bottoms up!

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Oreo Day

    Today is National Oreo Day, honoring the world’s most popular cookie. We almost feel like ditching work to celebrate—with Oreo cheesecake, cookies and cream ice cream and an Oreo milkshake—and then running a marathon to work off the calories.

    However, we’re limiting ourselves to one Oreo-packed chocolate bar from Chocomize, a chocolate e-heaven where you can take your favorite type of chocolate bar (dark, milk, white) and top it with your favorite candies, nuts, spices and special luxuries (gold leaf, anyone?).

    You pay a base price for the bar ($4.50, or $6.50 for a heart shape), and then for each add-on topping—up to 5 selections from a menu of 90 options.

    If you don’t like to make choices, there are plenty of ready-made choices, like the Cookie Bar in the photo.

    In honor of National Oreo Day, Chocomize has two special offers running through March 10th:

  • FREE Oreo pieces. You can add Oreo cookie pieces for FREE to any chocolate bar you make.
  •  

    oreo-white-chocolate-230

    The popular Cookie Bar: Belgian white chocolate bar with Oreos and malted milk balls. Photo courtesy Chocomize.

     

  • FREE chocolate bar with $40 order. Any order of $40+ gets a FREE Cookie Bar with the code OREO. The Cookie Bar, one of Chocomize’s most popular, is Belgian white chocolate, cookie dough bits and Oreo cookie pieces.
  •  

    oreos-stack-froyo-230

    Imagine if lemon meringue had been the
    favorite flavor of Oreos! Photo courtesy
    Froyo.

     

    OREO HISTORY

    Oreos are 102 years old. According to Time magazine, the National Biscuit Company (later shortened to Nabisco) sold its first Oreo sandwich cookies to a Hoboken grocer on On March 6, 1912. They weren’t an original concept: Sunshine’s Hydrox cookies* (among others) preceded them in 1908.

    There were two original Oreo flavors: original (chocolate) and lemon meringue. The original was far more popular, and Nabisco discontinued lemon meringue in the 1920s.

    Today Oreo is the world’s most popular cookie, sold in more than 100 countries†. More than 450 billion Oreos have been sold to date.

    Yes, there were other chocolate sandwich cookies. But what made Oreos stand out was the thick, creamy filling invented by Sam J. Porcello, the principal food scientist at Nabisco. (He also created the “stuf” in Double Stuf Oreos and the chocolate-covered and white chocolate-covered Oreos. Now that’s bragging rights for generations of kids, grandkids and great-grands to come.)

     

    WHAT ABOUT THE DESIGN ON THE COOKIES?

    Nabisco says that an unnamed “design engineer” created the current Oreo design, which was updated in 1952‡. Other sources name him as William A. Turnier, who worked in the engineering department creating the dies that stamped designs onto cookies.

    Here’s the story of the design and its meaning.
     
    THE NAME IS A MYSTERY

    No one knows for certain the origin of the name “Oreo.” Some believe it was derived from the French word for gold, “or,” because the original packaging was mostly gold.

    The bigger curiosity to us is, in The Wizard Of Oz film, why did the guards at the castle of the Wicked Witch Of The West sing a chorus of “Oreo?”

     
    *The Oreo became kosher in 1998, when the lard in the original recipe was replaced with vegetable shortening. Prior to then, Sunshine Bakeries’ Hydrox cookies had long been the kosher alternative. But most people preferred the taste of Oreos, and Hydrox cookies were discontinued by Keebler in 2003.

    †In terms of sales, the top five Oreo-nibbling countries are the U.S., China, Venezuela, Canada and Indonesia. In some countries, like China, Nabisco’s parent company, Kraft, reformulated the recipe to appeal to local tastes, including green tea Oreos.

    ‡The current design replaced a design of a ring of laurels, two turtledoves and a thicker, more mechanical “Oreo” font.

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICKS DAY: Cheesecake Fun

    Although cheesecake isn’t a traditional Irish food, none of the traditional Irish desserts pop out at us. So we like to celebrate St. Pat’s with these Green With Envy Cheesecake Bars or this Irish Coffee Cheesecake with Irish whiskey.

    But if you’re more inclined to click than bake, consider these cheesecakes from Harry & David.

    A cream cheese-based New York style cheesecake recipe, these cheesecakes have a chocolate cookie crust and are covered with dark chocolate mint ganache and festive green swirls with a shamrock adorning the center of the cake.

    Send them to friends, and they will indeed feel the luck of the Irish.

    Each cheesecake is 5.5 inches in diameter—enough for sensibly small pieces for four people, a large piece for two, or a very big piece for a superfan. Get yours at HarryandDavid.com. The pair of cheesecakes is $29.95.

     

    st-patricks-cheesecakes-harrydavid-230

    Celebrate St. Pat’s with fun and luscious cheesecakes. Photo courtesy Harry & David.

     
    MORE CAKE FUN

    You can add a St. Patrick’s Day theme to any frosted cake.

  • Mix up some basic frosting, homemade or store-bought, and tint it with green food color. Place it in a piping bag or in a plastic storage bag with a corner tip cut off.
  • You don’t have to have the steady hand required to create shamrocks. Squiggles, dots and Jackson Pollack-style drips are just fine.
  • Here’s a recipe for Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake—so yummy!
     
    By the way, March 6 is White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, which you could make for St. Pat’s with green kiwi sauce instead of the raspberry sauce in the recipe.

    Here are more of our favorite cheesecake recipes.
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Green Cheese For St. Patrick’s Day

    basiron-green-pesto-close-ig-230sq

    Basiron Pesto Rosso has an Italian name, is
    made in Holland and is perfect for St.
    Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy Atalanta Corp.

     

    The perfect cheese for St. Patrick’s Day is made in Holland, but that shouldn’t stop you from having a great time with it.

    Of course, there are plenty of Irish-made cheeses available, and we love them all. But you can’t beat Basiron Pesto Verde for bringing on the green.

    Basiron Pesto Verde (green pesto), a Gouda-style cheese, is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and vegetarian rennet. Your local cheesemonger may carry it; or you can get it online.

  • Breakfast: Green cheese grits or a cheese omelet
  • Lunch: Green grilled cheese, ham and cheese, etc.
  • Happy Hour: With a beer (make it an Irish beer) or a glass of fruity red wine
  • Dinner or Snack: On a cheese plate with these other Irish cheeses
  • Dinner: Gouda fondue; shredded over pasta, potatoes, rice or vegetables; stuffed chicken breast
  •  

    YUMMY & MORE

    The flavor is of classic, creamy Gouda-style cheese blended with basil-garlic pesto. A beautifully balanced (and extremely addictive) nibbling cheese, Pesto Rosso can also strut its stuff at Christmas or any occasion requiring a “wow.”

    Basiron Pesto Verde is one of a group of fine cheeses made by The cheese is made by Veldhuyzen Kaas, a family business founded in 1884. The Basiron line includes

  • Hot Chili
  • Marmelade (a European spelling)
  • Pesto Rosso (a vivid orange for Halloween or Thanksgiving, with
    tomato pesto)
  • Pesto Verde
  • Sweet Pepper
  • Truffle
  • Wasabi-flavored
  •  

    cahill-farm-cheddar-ig-230

    An Irish head-turner: Cahill Cheddar soaked in elderberry wine, porter and Irish whiskey (no color). Photo courtesy Cahill Farms.

     
     
    DO YOU KNOW GOUDA?

    Here’s all you need to know about Gouda cheese, named after the town of Gouda, in the South Holland region of The Netherlands.

    How Do You Pronounce Gouda?

    Most Americans pronounce it “GOO-duh.” But the Dutch might not understand your request. The name of this cheese is pronounced variously as “GAOW-duh” or “HOW-duh” (with the Dutch guttural “ch” sound).

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICK’S DAY GIFT: Kohler “Emeralds”

    mint-emeralds-230sq

    Mint, one of the four flavors of Emeralds.
    Photo courtesy Kohler.

     

    Some people would like a bottle of Irish whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day.

    Others would rather have chocolate. And there’s one box of chocolates that’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

    Inspired by the Emerald Isle, Kohler’s Emerald chocolates are a beautiful box of chocolates with “green”-flavored ganaches*, enveloped in milk chocolate.

    All of the chocolates are emerald-shaped shells in milk or semisweet chocolate, painted† in different shades of green.

    Each flavor—Absinthe, Green Tea, Lime and Mint—has a different design.

     
    *Ganache is a velvety smooth blend of chocolate and cream, often with butter added, that is rolled in cocoa powder and sugar or other coatings to make a truffle. It is also used as a center for bonbons. Ganache can be made from dark, milk, or white chocolate and flavored with chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, extracts—virtually any flavor that inspires the chocolatier. More about ganache, and why it means “imbecile” in French.

    †The “paint” is colored cocoa butter.

     

    Boxes are available in 4, 9 and 32 pieces: $9.99, $18.99 and $59.99. Get yours at KohlerChocolates.com.

     
    ABOUT KOHLER CHOCOLATES

    Kohler, known for fine porcelain fixtures and The American Club resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, was seriously considering purchasing a chocolate company to provide guests with fine confections. But CEO & Chairman, Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., loved chocolate caramel turtles, and couldn’t find a company that made the perfect turtle.

    So he challenged the chefs at his resort to create a better turtle. After much testing, a recipe emerged that met Mr. Kohler’s standards for flavor, texture and appearance. This morsel evolved into the signature Terrapins that launched Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates in 2007.

    WHO WAS ST. PATRICK?

    A figure shrouded in myth, the man who became the Apostle of Ireland was born in England, around 385 C.E. to a prominent Christian family. He was captured by pirates at age 16, brought to Ireland and sold into slavery.

     

    green-tea-emeralds-230

    The green tea-flavored Emerald. Photo courtesy Kohler.

     

    His master, Milchu, was a high priest of Druidism, a Pagan sect that ruled religious influence over Ireland at the time. The enslaved young man worked as a shepherd, and during that time was called to Christianity.

    He escaped after six years, returned to his family and entered the priesthood, returning to Ireland as a missionary. As he converted Druids to Christianity, his teachings combined Irish pagan beliefs with Christian sacrament; he is credited with devising the Celtic Cross.

    After a lifetime spent converting of Ireland to Christianity—founding monasteries, organizing Ireland into dioceses and so forth—Patrick died circa 461.

    His birthday is not known, but St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th, which falls during the Christian season of Lent. A religious holiday in Ireland, it has been celebrated for more than 1,000 years with a church service in the morning and a traditional dinner cabbage and Irish bacon.

    Corned beef is actually an American contribution to the holiday. Immigrant Irish learned how to make corned beef from their immigrant Jewish neighbors.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Beignets For Mardi Gras

    Celebrating the Carnival season, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century. So evoke Mardi Gras and New Orleans with a batch of homemade beignets.

    WHAT’S MARDI GRAS?

    The Carnival season begins on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day (January 6th) and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods the last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

    Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” But the idea of rich foods is far more appealing.

    Why “Carnival?” Centuries of years ago, Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. It stuck, engendering huge Carnival events elsewhere, including New Orleans and Rio de Janiero.

     

    pineapple-beignets-orsay-230

    Beignets should be enjoyed warm, with a cup of strong coffee. Photo courtesy Orsay | New York City.

     
    WHAT’S A BEIGNET?

    A beignet (pronounced bayn-YAY, the french word for bump) is deep-fried choux pastry dough.

    It’s a fritter similar to the German Spritzkuchen, the Italian zeppole and the Spanish churro. It can take on different shapes and flavorings depending on local preferences.

  • In New Orleans, beignets are like doughnut holes, typically sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. They’ve caught on at stylish restaurants nationwide, which serve them as dessert with a dipping sauce.
  • In France, the term refers to a variety of fried-dough pastry shapes with fruit fillings.
  • Beignets made with yeast pastry are called Berliners Pfannkuchen in Germany (the equivalent of an American jelly doughnut) and boules de Berlin in French.
  •  
    Beignets were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians, immigrants from Canada,* whose fritters were sometimes filled with fruit. Today’s beignets are a square or round piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar. The fruit (in the form of jam) is now served, optionally, on the side.

    The beignets at Café du Monde in New Orleans are worth going out of your way for (they taste best at the main location). After buying their mix and making them at home, we were unable to match the glory of the original, although we admit, we did not use cottonseed oil as they do.

    In New Orleans, the beignet is also known as the French Market doughnut, and it is the Louisiana State doughnut. (How many states have an official state doughnut?)

    At Café du Monde, beignets are served in orders of three. The cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for Christmas Day.
     
    HOW TO EAT A BEIGNET

    In New Orleans, beignets are served with the local favorite, chicory-laced coffee.

    You can enjoy them plain, with fruit curd or jam or with chocolate sauce.
     
    *The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia. That colony was located in what is now Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island—as well as part of Quebec and present-day Maine to the Kennebec River. Acadia was a distinctly separate colony of New France (which became Canada); the Acadians and Québécois developed two distinct histories and cultures. (Source: Wikipedia)

     

    beignets-duplexonthird-230

    Without the confectioners’ sugar. Photo
    courtesy Duplex On Third | Los Angeles.

     

    The recipe below is from Nielsen-Massey, manufacturer of some of the finest extracts in the world, including the vanilla extract used in the recipe.

    RECIPE: VANILLA BEIGNET BITES

    Ingredients For 6 Dozen Beignets

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar n a small bowl; set aside to activate yeast. In a medium bowl, add butter, half-and-half and vanilla extract; stir and set aside. In a small bowl whisk eggs; set aside.

    2. COMBINE flour, sugar, salt and cardamom in a bowl of a free standing electric mixer. Place bowl on mixer stand which has been fitted with a dough hook. Turn mixer on low speed and combine dry ingredients. Turn mixer to medium speed then add activated yeast mixture. Add half-and-half mixture, then add the whisked eggs. Mix until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary. Dough will be slightly sticky.

    3. PLACE dough on a lightly floured surface and knead, about 2-3 minutes; add additional flour if needed. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep warm until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. After dough has risen, place on a lightly floured surface and gently knead. Roll dough into a rectangle, about ¼-inch thick. With a pizza cutter, cut dough into small rectangles, about 1 x ½-inch pieces.

    4. HEAT oil to 375°F. Carefully place dough in hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 45-60 seconds. Turn beignets so that both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with Vanilla Powdered Sugar (recipe below) while bites are still warm. Serve with plain, with chocolate sauce, lemon curd or raspberry jam.
     
    VANILLA POWDERED SUGAR

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a small bowl.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Easy Gumbo For Mardi Gras

    Mardi Gras begins tomorrow. If you’d like to celebrate with the taste of New Orleans, whip up a gumbo.

    This recipe is from Chef David Venable of QVC, who calls it “an easy-to-tackle version, filled with great Louisiana flavor and spice.” Gumbos have a lot of ingredients, but the cooking technique isn’t demanding.

    Says David, “When preparing, be sure to chop your veggies in similar sizes to ensure that they cook at the same rate.” In this recipe, okra is used as a thickener, and also gives personality to the gumbo.
     
    RECIPE: CHICKEN & SAUSAGE GUMBO WITH
    OKRA

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs,
    chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, chopped
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 9 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 package (1 lb, 4 oz) frozen sliced okra
  •  

    Chicken-Sausage-Gumbo_davidvenableQVC-230L

    An easy gumbo, with chicken, okra and sausage. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    Plus

  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
  • Cooked rice for serving
  •  

    okra4365123Dreamstime

    Most people are familiar with okra that’s
    been sliced crosswise. Here’s what it looks
    like right off the plant. Photo by
    DallasEventsInc. | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. SEASON the chicken thighs with creole seasoning. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a 6-quart or larger stockpot over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage and set aside.

    2. ADD the chicken to the pot with the sausage drippings and cook over medium-high heat until brown on both sides. Remove the chicken and set aside.

    3. ADD the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and the flour, over medium heat. Cook the mixture, stirring slowly and constantly, for 10-15 minutes, or until dark brown. Be careful not to burn or scorch.

    4. ADD the onions, garlic, celery and bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Slowly add the broth and stir until there are no lumps. Add the tomatoes, rice, salt, cayenne, bay leaves, thyme, and okra. Stir and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

    5. ADD the chicken and cooked sausage to the gumbo. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, plate, garnish with a sprinkle of parsley and serve with a side of rice.

     

      

    Comments

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