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Archive for Valentine’s Day

RECIPE: Rose Pear Galette & The Different Types Of Pears

Given the mark-up on roses for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, you might want to bake your own roses. These lovely individual tarts are made from seasonal pears. (See the different types of pears below.)

If you prefer an apple rose tartlet or a vegetable rose tart, take a look at these rose pastry recipes.
 
RECIPE: ROSE PEAR GALETTE

Treat yourself with this elegant and refined after-dinner delight from Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen. It’s included in her book The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures.

Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 to 25 minutes.

Ingredients For 4 Individual Tarts
 
For the Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen
  • 4-8 tablespoons very cold water, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado* sugar
  • Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
  • Reynolds parchment paper
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 Bartlett pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon coffee grounds, finely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    For Serving

  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
  • ________________________________
    *Turbinado sugar is partially refined light brown cane sugar, similar to demerara sugar but with larger crystals. It is sold in bulk packages, and in packets as Sugar In The Raw. See the different types of sugar.
     
    Preparation

    1. MIX together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a box grater, grate the cold butter atop the flour mixture. Working quickly and using your hands, break the butter bits into the flour until they’re evenly distributed and resemble the size of small peas.

       

    Pear Galette - Reynolds Kitchens

    The Year Of Cozy

    Bartlett Pear

    Top: Rose Pear Galette from A Cozy Kitchen | Reynolds Kitchens. Center: The Bosc pear used in this recipe, although you can substitute the varieties below. Bottom: The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures.

     
    2. ADD 4 tablespoons of water and mix. The mixture will be shaggy at this point. From here, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together (generally about 3 additional tablespoons). Flour a work surface and dump the dough onto it. Knead a few times until it comes together. Form the dough into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, or ideally overnight.

    3. MIX this filling together just before the dough is ready to be removed from the fridge: In a medium bowl, toss together the pear slices, brown sugar, cocoa powder, coffee grounds, vanilla extract and salt.

    4. REMOVE the disk of dough from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for 10 minutes. Liberally flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Begin to roll the dough into a 16-inch round, being sure to rotate it every so often to avoid sticking. Using the bottom of a bowl or plate that measures about 6 inches in diameter, cut out 3 circles. Re-roll the scraps to get 1 additional circle.

    5. ARRANGE the pear slices neatly in a circular pattern in the center of each of the pie crust rounds, leaving about 1-1/2 inches clear at the edges. Fold over the edges to cover about 1/2 inch of the filling. Repeat with the remaining rounds. Transfer the galettes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place them in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.

    6. BRUSH the pie crust edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Transfer to the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Check on the galettes periodically. If at any time the crusts’ edges are getting too brown, take a piece of Reynolds Wrap® Aluminum Foil and tent over the edges. When the edges are golden brown, remove from the oven. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

     

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    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/seckel 230

    Some of America’s most popular pears. From
    top to bottom: Bosc, Comice, Forelle, Green
    Anjou, Seckel.

       

    A SEASONAL GUIDE TO PEAR TYPES

    Thanks to USA Pears for this background material.

    Fresh domestic pears are available year-round. Although each pear variety has its own unique properties, most can be substituted for each other in recipes.
     
    Bartlett Pears: August to February
    The Bartlett pear turns from bright green to golden yellow as it ripens. Very juicy and sweet, with aromatic flesh, it is used most for canning and for salads or desserts (photo above).
     
    Red Bartlett Pears: August to January
    The Red Bartlett turns bright red as it ripens and is similar in flavor and texture to the yellow Bartlett.
     
    Bosc Pears: September to April
    Bosc pears have long, tapered necks and skin that is naturally russet to a cinnamon brown. Dense, fragrant, and honey-sweet flesh with a texture that holds its shape when heated, the Bosc is a good choice for baking, poaching, grilling and roasting.
     
    Comice Pears: September to March
    Pronounced co-MEESE, these pears have a full, round shape with a short neck and stem. They are usually green, sometimes with a red blush. They are very succulent, with a custard-like texture and mellow sweetness. They are best as an eating pear and go well with cheese. They don’t hold up well in cooking.
     
    Concorde Pears: September to February
    The Concorde has a tall, elongated neck and firm, dense flesh, with skin that is golden green, usually with golden yellow russets. Its flavor has vanilla undertones and, like the Bosc, it has a firm texture that holds up well when baking, grilling or poaching. It is one of the newer varieties, introduced in the past 10 years.
     
    D’Anjou Pears: September to July
    Green D’Anjou pears, recognized by their egg-like shape, stay green when fully ripe. With moist, sweet and dense flesh, the D’Anjou is excellent for snacking or baking.
     
    Red D’Anjou Pears: September to May
    Sweet and succulent when ripe, red D’Anjou pears are similar to their green counterparts. The red skin is a colorful addition to salads, desserts and main dishes.
     
    Forelle Pears: October to March
    The Forelle, known for its smaller size and unique yellow-green skin, is tasty sweet with a crisp texture even when ripe. Ideal for kids’ lunches and baked desserts.
     
    Seckel Pears: September to February
    Seckel pears are another small variety, recognized by their maroon skin, with olive-green coloring. With their crunchy flesh and ultra-sweet flavor, they are great for snacks, pickling or garnishing.
     
    Starkrimson Pears: August to January
    Another new variety introduced within the past 10 years, Starkrimson pears have a brilliant crimson red skin and a thick, stocky stem. Juicy and sweet, they have smooth flesh and a distinct floral aroma.
     
    MORE DELICIOUS PEAR DESSERTS

  • Pears Hélène
  • Poached Pears
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Pancakes

    Valentine’s Day falls on Sunday this year, a day of the week when many of us have some extra time to make pancakes.

    What pancakes do you make for Valentine’s Day? Chocolate pancakes, of course! They can be the focus of breakfast or brunch, or served as dessert in smaller portions.

    Two recipes follow: All-Chocolate Pancakes and Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes, which are regular pancakes packed with chocolate chunks.

    You can make either recipe with all-purpose flour, or use half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour for more nutrition and an added flavor element. But first:

    Not into chocolate? Make these Red Velvet Pancakes.
     
    SOME PANCAKE HISTORY

    People have been eating pancake-like foods for a very long time. According to Alan Davidson in the Oxford Companion to Food, the first mention of anything other than bread baked on a griddle is the oldest surviving cookbook, De Re Coquinaria (“On Cookery) by Apicius*.

    The book describes “cakes” made from a batter of eggs, milk, water and flour. They were fried and served with honey and pepper.

    Here’s more on the history of pancakes.

    RECIPE #1: CHOCOLATE PANCAKES

    This recipe was developed by Foodie Crush for GoBoldWithButter.com.

    Ingredients For 8-10 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Additional butter, for serving
  • Maple syrup, for serving
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients together until combined.

    2. ADD the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Set the mixture aside to rest for 10 minutes.

     

    Chocolate Pancakes

    Chocolate Pancakes

    Red Velvet Pancakes

    Top: Chocolate pancakes by Foodie Crush for GoBoldWithButter.com. Center: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes made with a heart pancake mold, from The Baker Chick. Bottom: Don’t like chocolate? Make these Red Velvet Pancakes from Taste Of Home.

     
    3. PREHEAT a nonstick griddle to 325°F and cook the pancakes in batches. Keep them warm by placing a cooling rack atop a cookie sheet in a 250°F oven, until ready to serve.

     

    Ice Cream Pancakes

    Nutella Pancakes

    Dessert pancakes. Top: With ice cream or
    whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Photo
    by Robyn Mackenzie | Fotolia. Bottom: Add
    some Nutella. Photo by Dusan Zidar |
    Fotolia.

     

    RECIPE #2: DARK CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY PANCAKES

    The Baker Chick used heart-shape pancake molds for a special presentation.

    You can also use the molds to fry eggs, shape burgers, etc.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all-purpose)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks or finely chopped dark chocolate
  • 4 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (more if you like)
  • Optional: pats of butter
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a griddle or skillet over medium-low heat.

    2. WHISK together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the oil, egg and buttermilk, and whisk together until thoroughly combined, adding a splash more buttermilk if the batter is too thick. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

    3. SPRAY or butter the skillet and pour in the batter. When bubbles form and pop in the batter, carefully flip each pancake, cooking until golden and baked through.

    4. MAKE the syrup: Mash the raspberries with a fork and blend with the syrup. Warm it to your liking.

    5. TOP the pancakes with butter and syrup and serve.

     
    PANCAKE TIPS

  • Have leftover pancakes? Reheat them by toasting them in a toaster oven. The outsides get nice and crispy. In our book, they’re even better than the original batch.
  • Pancake varieties: Check out the different types of pancakes.
  • Syrup: There are 14 different types of syrup—not flavors, but types. See them in our Glossary of Sugars, Syrups & Other Sweeteners.
  • Pancake mixes: Here are our favorite multigrain and whole grain pancake mixes.
  •  
    *“Apicius” is believed to be the pseudonym of one or several writers who authored the book. The manuscript of some 400 recipes is believed to have been compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century C.E. Why the name Apicius? It had long been associated with gourmet preferences, named after Marcus Gavius Apicius, a wealthy Roman merchant and epicure who lived in the 1st century C.E. He is said to have once sailed all the way to Libya to eat some much-praised prawns, only to return home without having found any to his satisfaction. He hosted colossal banquets, which eventually drove him to bankruptcy…and suicide.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Valentine Heart Garnish

    Even if you’re going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day, you can use today’s tip to garnish something.

    Use dried herbs, spices or other ingredients to make heart-shaped designs on your foods.
     
    GARNISH THESE SWEET FOODS

  • Cake or other dessert
  • Pancakes or French toast
  • Toast
  • Anything flat
  •  
    Use One Of These Toppings

  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Finely chopped nuts
  • Ground citrus peel
  • Hot chocolate powder or other drink powder (such as Nesquik)
  • Powdered sugar
  •  
    For savory dishes, check the list below.
     
    Preparation

    1. USE one of these heart-shaped templates:
    – Buy a red paper heart at the card store or party store.
    – Use a cookie cutter.
    – Cut a heart from foil or paper. Fold the sheet in half and cut out half a heart; unfold and both sides will be even.
     
    2. SPRINKLE the sugar, spice or herb over the heart template, using a small strainer (sieve). Let the garnish settle. Remove the template with a pointed tweezers to lift off the heart template.
     
    USE THESE SAVORY GARNISHES

    Look for dried herbs, spices or other garnishes that are mild enough to complement the food item. For this reason, we’ve omitted intense flavors such as chili flakes and curry powder, but let your palate guide you.

  • Bacon crumbles
  • Capers
  • Celery leaf flakes
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Chopped olives
  • Finely chopped nuts
  • Fines herbes
  • Garlic chips
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Herbes de Provence
  • Italian herb blend
  • Parsley
  • Pizza seasoning
  • Salad sprinkles
  • Toasted onion
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  •  
    You can also make your own blend.
     
    Sprinkle The Garnish On These Foods

  • Chicken breasts
  • Chops
  • Fish fillets
  • Mashed potatoes (patted flat)
  • Sandwich tops
  • Savory pancakes
  • Toast
  •  
    As always, have fun with it!

     

    heart-decoration-the-baker-chick-230

    Valentine

    Strainer Set

    strawberry-powder-aayushfoodingredients-230

    Dried Parsley

    Top photo: Mini flourless chocolate cakes from The Baker Chick are garnished with powdered sugar. Here’s the recipe. Second: Use a paper heart for your template. Third: If you don’t have a small strainer, pick one up. This set, about $10, is from Culina and available on Amazon. Fourth: Make a pink heart with Strawberry Nesquik. Photo courtesy Aayush Food Ingredients. Bottom: For savory dishes, use dried parsley or other herb. Photo courtesy Alamy.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Valentine Cocktails Or Mocktails

    Some people think a Valentine’s Day cocktail should be rose red. Others think it should be chocolate. Still others want to drink pink.

    Here, we offer chocolate, coffee, red and pink Valentine cocktails for your consideration. If you’re having a party, choose several.

    Mocktail options follow.

    VALENTINE COCKTAIL DRINKS

  • Amore Espresso Cocktail Recipe
  • Bright Red Cocktail Recipes (including the Lovecicle)
  • Chocolate Basil Martini Recipe
  • Five Chocolate Cocktail Recipes (including the Hot Lips Chocolatini)
  • Love Nectar Recipe (red, with tequila, cider, red grapes)
  • Love Potion Recipe (bright red)
  • Passionfruit Tequila “Besame” (Kiss Me) Recipe (bright red)
  • Pink Cocktail Recipes (including Cupid’s Cosmo)
  • Pomegranate Martini Recipe (deep pink with red arils)
  • Pomegranate Refresher Recipe (pale pink with red arils)
  • The Right Kiss Gin Cocktail Recipe (deep red)
  • Rose Cocktail Recipes (pink, with rose simple syrup)
  • Secret Crush Champagne Cocktail Recipe (red)
  •    

    Valentine Champagne Cocktail

    Rosy and delicious: the Secret Crush “Champagne” cocktail made with Prosecco and grenadine. Photo courtesy Macao Trading Co.

     

    VALENTINE MOCKTAIL INGREDIENTS

    To make a Valentine-red mocktail, you need to use either a red base (blood orange juice, cranberry juice, cherry or raspberry soda) or a red-colored flavor such as grenadine or strawberry purée)—or both.

    Blend the juice and soda in proportions you prefer. If it isn’t red enough, add one of the red-colored flavors. Taste, add some citrus juice to pick up the flavor, and select a garnish.

     

    Valentine Cocktail

    The Pomegranate Refresher can be made
    with tequila, or as a mocktail with regular or
    diet 7-UP or Sprite.

     

    Juice

  • Blood orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Pink lemonade
  •  
    Soda Pop

  • Cherry Soda
  • Club Soda
  • Ginger ale or ginger beer
  • Raspberry Soda
  •  
    Red-Colored Flavors

  • Grenadine
  • Pomegranate syrup
  • Raspberry syrup
  • Strawberry or raspberry purée
  •  
    Flavor Accent

  • Bitters
  • Citrus juice: grapefruit lemon, lime
  •  
    Garnish

  • Fruit: blood orange wheel, notched strawberry, pomegranate arils, raspberry pick
  • Herbs: fresh mint, opal (purple) basil
  •  
    Plus

  • Ice
  • Optional: red straws
  •   

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Sparkling Wines For Gifting & Drinking

    Brachetto d'Acqui Banfi

    Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui: a wine that says “Be My Valentine.”

     

    If you’ve taken a look at Champagne prices, you’d like a recommendation on which way to go.

    Our recommendation: Steer away from Champagne and look at other sparkling wines. Here are two of our favorite affordable bubblies for Valentine’s Day. Both are crowd pleasers. One is a perfect dessert wine or an apéritif; the other can be enjoyed anytime, with any course.

    Drink them yourself or give them as gifts. As with all sparkling wines, serve them chilled.
     
    BANFI ROSA REGALE BRACHETTO D’ACQUI

    This sweet sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy is a vivid rose red. The color is natural!

    It’s made from the Brachetto df’Acqui grape, which grows in the area of Acqui Terme in rocky, calcareous soil (tough soil makes better wines).

     
    The bouquet is very aromatic, with hints of raspberries, strawberries and rose petals. You’ll taste hints of fresh raspberries, with crisp acidity.

    In addition to dessert—cakes, tarts, ice cream—it pairs well with seafood, cheeses, spicy fare and yes, that box of Valentine chocolate.

    One of our friends calls this wine “love at first sip.” It’s pretty romantic stuff.

    The price: $17-$20 per bottle. The pronunciation: bra-KET-toe d’AH-qwee.

    There’s more on the brand’s web page.
     
    YELLOWTAIL BUBBLES SPARKLING ROSÉ

    A recent Top Pick Of The Week for the holidays, this sparkling wine from Australia makes everything more festive—at just $10-$11 per bottle. It’s not a sweet wine, but crisp and refreshing, so it can be paired with anything.

    The fragrant nose promises cherries and strawberries on the palate. Unlike the deep red of Brachetto d’Acqui, it’s a pale pink color, similar to a rosé Champagne.

    Depending on the retailer and promotion calendar, the bottle may come with a resealable, plastic cap that allows you to seal in the bubbles for the next day. If not, and if you don’t have one, pick up a Champagne resealer. It’s inexpensive, and really does keep that wine sparkling for days.

    And it can be the part of the gift that remains, when the wine is long gone.

    Here’s our full review of the wine.

    And here’s the Yellowtail Bubbles Rosé web page.

     
      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Sweets We’d Like To Receive

    If you’re on the hunt for Valentine chocolate, you probably don’t have to hunt too hard. Even our drugstore looks like a chocolate shop.

    But here are some yummy items we enjoy, year after year.

    CHOCOLATE CHERRIES FROM CHOCLATIQUE

    Most of us grew up hoping to get the chocolate covered cherry in the box of mixed chocolates. At Choclatique, you can get an entire box of cherries!

    These are not the overly-sweet chocolate cherries of our youth. They are Grade A maraschino cherries that are marinated and then wrapped in a white chocolate-butter ganache. Next, they’re enrobed in premium dark chocolate shells (64% cacao).

    The bonbons are allowed to to cure, so that the ganache centers liquefy. The result is a delicate liquid center with just a touch of white chocolate ganache—and a memorable chocolate cherry.

    The chocolates are all natural and you can pick either a bright red ribbon for Valentine’s Day.

  • 12 Piece Box, $30.00
  • 24 Piece Box, $50.00
  •  
    CHOCOLATE CARAMEL CRISP FROM GARRETT POPCORN

    Garrett Popcorn, known for its high quality popcorn gift tins, has two suggestions for Valenetine’s Day:

  • Lover’s Mix, a combination of Dark Chocolate Covered Caramel Crisp and regular Caramel Crisp. Note to caramel corn lovers: This regular Caramel Crisp is the best caramel corn you can buy, with a “burnt caramel” flavor that’s so much better than the ubiquitous one-dimensional sweet corns out there.
  • Spicy CheeseCorn, for those who prefer spicy to sweet. We’ve also recommended this corn for the Super Bowl. It’s a perfect blend of cheese and spice.
  •  
    Tins start at $39 for a one gallon and $69 for 2 gallons. The one gallon pink tin of Lover’s Mix is $47.

    Order yours at GarrettPopcorn.com.
     
    CLASSIC CHOCOLATES FROM LI-LAC

    Li-Lac Chocolates is one of our favorite munching grounds. This chocolate shop specializes in old-fashioned chocolates of top quality—the kind it’s become hard to find.

    Take a look at the choices at Li-LacChocolates.com.

       
    Chocolate Covered Cherries

    Chocolate Caramel Popcorn

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pink striped popcorn tin 230

    Top: Gourmet chocolate cherries from Choclatique. Middle and bottom: Lover’s Mix and the Valentine tin from Garrett Popcorn.

     
    Whether a mixed box of chocolates or an entire box of our favorite chocolate-covered marzipan rolls, we hope our Valentine reads this message. (Please send both!)

    The chocolates are certified kosher.
     
    For those looking for kosher chocolate, LakeChamplainChocolates.com is another favorite chocolatier. Let us emphasize that, kosher or not, these to companies make excellent chocolates.
     
    MORE FAVORITE CHOCOLATES

    We’re happy with anything from John & Kira’s or Burdick Chocolate, two of America’s great artisan chocolatiers.

     

    Gimbal's Chocolate Cherry Chews

    Cherry Chews from Gimbal’s are available in
    several sizes, and are very affordable if you
    like to give something to many friends.

     

    CHERRY CHEWS FROM GIMBAL’S

    For something fun, affordable and not chocolate, try Gimbal’s Cherry Chews. They’re all natural and made with real cherry juice. They were created to have a cherry shape, but as you can see in the photo, they also resemble Valentine hearts.

    And they also double as celebratory sweets for George Washington’s Birthday.

    Bags in several sizes start at $1.39 to give out to friends and colleagues. A 38-ounce jar is just $13.99.

    Get them at GimbalsCandy.com.

     

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Low Calorie & No Calorie Gifts

    Keurig Pantone Red Brewer

    Rick's Picks Assortment

    Top: The Keurig 2.0 H200, which makes single cups as well as carafes. Bottom: Rick’s Picks: Great flavor, few calories.

     

    As you eye the sea of Valentine chocolates, what can you get for loved ones who can’t have (or don’t care for) chocolate?

    Some people don’t want the calories, others can’t have the caffeine or the sugar, and rarely, a few are allergic to chocolate.

    For those who avoid caffeine and chocolate, there are scrumptious macarons, artisan (“gourmet”) marshmallows, creamy fudge, fine red licorice and other confections. But they’re still packed with sugar.

    But what if you need to avoid the sugar entirely?

    There’s sugar-free candy, but it’s pretty unexciting. Here are what we’d like to get for Valentine’s Day.
     
    FOR COFFEE LOVERS: KEURIG 2.0 K200 SINGLE CUP BREWER

    This new model comes in seven colors, including red for your Valentine. It not only brews a single cup, but a 4-cup carafe, with a single touch.

    There’s a separate setting for specialty beverages such as chai, hot cocoa and mochas. And with more than 500 varieties of coffee, tea, specialty beverages and iced beverages, your Valentine has lots of choices.

    The carafe is sold separately; you can also add a Valentine mug (something with hearts?) to express your affection.

    Get yours at Keurig.com. The list price is $109.99.

    If you don’t want to spend that much, head to the nearest housewares department and get a red water bottle or red implements—spatulas, slotted spoons, etc.—to fill a Valentine mug.

     
    FOR PICKLE LOVERS: RICK’S PICKS PICKLE CLUB

    Good pickles are on our list of yummy foods with few calories.

    One of America’s great pickle makers offers a club that delivers four varieties, four times a year. The club is $ 199.95, including shipping.

    There’s also a Top-Seller Pack, $ 48.95, and a Rick’s Picks Sampler for $64.95.

    Order yours at RicksPicks.com.

    For a less expensive gift, head to your nearest fine market or specialty food store, pick up a single jar of Rick’s Picks, and tie a red ribbon around the neck.
     
    NOT INTO PICKLES? TRY STRAWBERRIES

    If your Valentine prefers sweet to tangy, consider Edible Arrangements or create your own strawberry basket. Look for the biggest, freshest strawberries, find a lovely small basket, and don’t forget the red bow!

     

    FOR SODA DRINKERS: SODASTREAM SPLASH PLAY

    There are red SodaStream machines that make calorie-free sodas and flavored waters. The brand has recently released a new machine, the Sodastream Splash Play, designed by Yves Béhar, a Swiss designer and sustainability expert.

    It carbonates water with touch button activation as well as quick snap-lock bottle insertion. It requires no electricity. It has a small footprint.

    Not only is it fun; it saves you from hauling home bottles of soda, and from tossing the empties into the landfill.

    For calorie counters and water enthusiasts, SodaStream also has a new line of waters, made with all natural sweeteners and colors, called Sparkling Gourmet. It has chef-inspired flavors, including Green Apple Cucumber, Blackcurrant Lime, Coriander Apple Blossom, and Lime Basil. All with 45 calories per 8-ounce serving.

     

    Sodastream Play

    Give a Sodastream in Valentine Red.

     
    There are also calorie-free flavored water options, and plenty of diet sodas.

    AND, if you own a Sodastream, you know that there are two different sizes of carbon dioxide tanks for different models, and they aren’t interchangeable. The Splash Play can use either of them! Bravo, Sodastream.

    Get yours at Sodastream.com. It’s $79.99.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Chocolate Stout, Sriracha Stout & Moonstruck Beer Chocolates

    Rogue Chocolate Stout

    Special chocolate craft brews for your
    Valentine. Photo courtesy Rogue Ales.

     

    Here’s what to get a beer-loving Valentine: two stouts created specifically for the occasion and some hot stuff.

  • Rogue Chocolate Stout, with a special Valentine-red label on a 750 ml bottle, is Rogue’s platinum award-winning Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout (one of the highest rated stouts in the world), infused with Dutch chocolate.
  • Rogue Double Chocolate Stout is an amplification of its Chocolate Stout, with big, rich flavors of chocolate, rolled oats, and honey. The 750ml bright red bottle is only available through the end of February.
  • Sriracha Hot Stout. If your Valentine prefers heat to chocolate, look for Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout. The only beer officially sanctioned by Huy Fong Foods (makers of the original Sriracha “Rooster” Hot Sauce) the heat is back for a limited time. Ebony-hued, with rich notes of caramelized malts and warm, slow burn on the finish, it’s also in a bright red bottle.
  • Special Stout Glass. To enhance the stout experience, Rogue collaborated with Spiegelau to create a special stout glass. Expertly crafted, it was designed to accentuate the roasted malt and rich coffee and chocolate notes of Rogue stouts.
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    There’s more information at Rogue.com.

     

    CHOCOLATE BEER TRUFFLES

    Oregon’s Moonstruck Chocolate collaborated with top Oregon craft brewers to develop a superb beer truffle collection.

    The chocolate truffles are rich, nutty sweet, dark and intense, and fresh and hoppy, depending on the beer. Each 12-pack collection features three each of:

  • Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter Truffle
  • Full Sail Brewing Co. IPA Truffle
  • Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar Truffle
  • Widmer Brother’s Brewing Hefeweizen Truffle
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    Get yours at MoonstruckChocolate.com.

     

    Beer Truffles

    Beer truffles from Moonstruck Chocolate. Yes, they’re shaped like corks.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Stack Cake Party

    Stack Cake

    Stack Cake

    Stack Cake

    Top: Strawberry Jam Stack Cake from Sweet Auburn Desserts, photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn. Here’s the recipe. Middle photo from TheSimpleElements.com. Here’s the recipe. Bottom photo from Maman Bakery Cafe | NYC.

     

    Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day? If you have nothing going on, why not round up a group of friends and neighbors and have a stack cake party?

    What’s a stack cake?

    STACK CAKE HISTORY

    Stack cake is an old-fashioned concept from the Southern Appalachian Mountains. It originated as a wedding cake alternative in that economically-challenged region.

    Each guest or family would bring a layer for the cake, and the bride’s family would provide the filling. The layers would be assembled at the party.

    The result: a rustic layer cake with no icing but lots of heart.

    Beyond weddings, stack cake parties were another way for people to get together to exchange recipes and gossip.

    Many types of cake layers could be brought, from sponge-like layers to cookie-like layers. In order stop the typical seven or eight layers from toppling over, each layer was sometimes pressed very flat.

    These days, another un-iced cake, called naked cake, is enjoying its moment. Unlike stack cake, the whole naked cake is made by one person, in one flavor. The sides of the cake aren’t iced, although the top usually is.

    Rather than an economical way to assemble a cake, naked cake economizes on calories and labor, by not frosting the sides.

    YOUR STACK CAKE PARTY

    You never knew exactly how the layers would add up. Even if you told everyone to bring an eight-inch layer of yellow cake or chocolate cake…well, what are the odds that they’d match, even if you provided a recipe?

    Besides, isn’t it more fun if to have a pot luck cake with different layers: carrot, chocolate, devil’s food, gingerbread, red velvet, vanilla and, well, we’d like a layer with big chocolate chunks?

    All you have to do is:

  • Tell everyone what size to make their layer cake (eight inches is standard).
  • You can cap the layers at four or five, or make two cakes.
  • You can assign flavors, or let the universe decide what you get.
  • You provide the filling and some icing to decorate the top.
  • Or you can delegate those, too, and just focus on the beverages.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Make Cranberry Mimosa cocktails or mocktails. Photo courtesy Ocean Spray.

     

    There’s still time to create a signature drink for Christmas: a Cranberry Mimosa cocktail or mocktail. It combines cranberry juice with sparkling wine (or ginger ale), instead of the orange juice of a traditional Mimosa.

    Or use cranberry liqueur for a Cranberry Kir Royale, a.k.a. Kir Royale à la Canneberge (if you haven’t guessed, canneberge [can-BERZH] is French for cranberry). Note that using liqueur instead of juice creates a stronger drink.

    You can also serve a Mimosa mocktail with cranberry juice and ginger ale, and a diet version with diet cranberry juice and diet ginger ale.

     
    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS MIMOSA, CRANBERRY KIR ROYALE OR CRANBERRY MOCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces cranberry juice or cranberry liqueur
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine*, regular or rosé, chilled
  • Optional garnish: lemon curl, strawberry
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    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cranberry juice/liqueur and the sparkling wine in a Champagne flute or wine glass. Add the juice first. If you need to stir, do so gently, once, so as not to collapse the bubbles.

    2. GARNISH as desired and serve.
     
    *Well-priced sparkling wines include Asti Spumante and Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France and our Top Pick Of The Week, Yellow Tail Bubbly.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented circa 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, by bartender Frank Meier. Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar color to the drink.

    The optional addition of a small amount of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier complements the juice and gives the drink more complexity.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. A Grapefruit Mimosa with grapefruit juice is a popular variation. A related drink, the Buck’s Fizz†, has two parts Champagne to one part juice—and sometimes a splash of grenadine. Created at London’s Buck’s Club by bartender Pat McGarryhe, the Buck’s Fizz predates the Mimosa by about four years.

    If you’re making Mimosas, fresh-squeezed orange juice makes a huge difference. One expert recommends trying different types of orange juice: The sweeter Navel juice vs. the more acidic Valencia, for example. Blood oranges, with their rosy color and raspberry notes, will provide a different experience entirely (and a wonderful one!).

    [Source]
     
    †Buck and mule are old names for mixed drinks made with ginger ale or ginger beer, plus citrus juice. They can be made with any base liquor. Why buck? Why mule? That answer is lost to history, but here’s a detailed discussion.
     
      

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