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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 Beverages

JULY 4th: Patriotic Milkshake Recipe

For a dessert or snack over July 4th weekend, serve these patriotic shakes. They were designed by QVC’s chef David Venable.

RECIPE: PATRIOTIC MILKSHAKE

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup + 4 teaspoons strawberry syrup, divided (recipe below)
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2-1/4 cups strawberries and cream ice cream
  • 1-1/4 cups quartered fresh strawberries
  • 1-1/3 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces whipped cream (you can substitute frozen whipped topping)
  •  
    *You can use leftover strawberry syrup in club soda, cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, on angel food cake and pound cake, ice cream, pudding, sorbet etc.
     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the blueberries and 1/4 cup of strawberry syrup into a medium-size bowl. Mix until the blueberries are fully coated. Refrigerate until needed.

       

    patriotic-milkshake-qvc-230

    Drink the patriotic colors. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    2. DRIZZLE 1 teaspoon of strawberry syrup in a spiral design on the inside of four tall glasses (we used a squeeze bottle). Freeze until needed.

    3. PLACE the ice cream, strawberries and milk in a blender with a large pitcher. Mix until smooth, 40–60 seconds. Pour into the prepared milk shake glasses.

    4. TOP each glass with 1 ounce whipped cream and the blueberry mixture, dividing evenly among the 4 glasses. Serve immediately.

     

    strawberry-syrup-tideandthyme-230r

    Buy strawberry syrup or make your own. Photo courtesy Tide and Thyme; here’s their recipe.

     

    HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY SIMPLE SYRUP

    Cook time is 25 minutes, total time is 40 minutes. The syrup should last, refrigerated, for 4-6 weeks. You can substitute any berries in this recipe,

    Ingredients For 3-1/2 Cups

  • 2 pounds strawberries
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. RINSE, hull and pat dry the strawberries. Cut into small pieces and place in a medium sauce pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil.

    2. REDUCE to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, skimming any foam. After 20 minutes, the strawberries should be pale and the liquid should be a deep pink color. Remove the pan from the heat.

    3. STRAIN the strawberry liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a clean pot. DO NOT press down on the berries to extract more juice; it will make the syrup cloudy. Discard the berries.

     

    4. ADD 2 cups of sugar to the liquid and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes till the sugar is completely dissolved, skimming any foam.

    5. REMOVE from the heat and cool completely. Pour into a glass container, tightly cap and refrigerate.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Nestle Pure Life, Unsweetened Exotic Flavored Water

    nestle-purelife-exotics-2-230

    Sparkling Tangerine and Orange Peach
    Pineapple. Photo courtesy Nestlé.

     

    On a beastly hot and humid day like today, our strategy is to keep inside in the A/C as much as possible, and never leave the A/C without a couple of bottles of ice-cold water. (TIP: Freeze one of the bottles of water. It will defrost in an hour or two and you’ll have an ice-cold refill instead of lukewarm water.)

    Because we receive frozen gel ice packs with much of the food that’s delivered to THE NIBBLE, we put ice packs in our backpack to provide a bit of cool-down against our back. And when we go into the hot New York City subway, we clutch an ice pack in our hands, dabbing it on our forehead and neck to help with cooling. Yes—we are not built for summer survival.

    Here’s something else that’s keeping us cool: Nestlé Pure Life Exotics Sparkling Water. It has zero calories, zero sweetener and zero added color. What it does deliver is bold, exotic, all-natural fruit flavor. It’s a staycation in a can.

     

     

    A new product last year, Exotics Sparkling Water increased national availability this year at retailers across the U.S. The flavors, certified kosher by OU, include:

  • Key Lime
  • Mango Peach Pineapple
  • Strawberry Dragonfruit
  • Tangerine
  •  
    Each flavor variety has a suggested retail price of $2.99 per 8-pack of 12-ounce cans. A case of 24 cans is $11.99.

    Head to MyExoticEscape.com for a store locator and coupons. There are also links to order online at Office Depot and Office Max.

     

    nestle-purelife-exotics-1-230

    Sparkling Key Lime and Strawberry Dragonfruit. Photo courtesy Nestlé.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cucumber In Your Drinks

    Today is National Dry Martini Day (some say it’s World Martini Day—perhaps the international celebration).

    We’re having a very dry Martini—just a splash of vermouth—with Pinnacle’s cucumber vodka. If you like cucumber, this article explores other ways to enjoy it. But first:

  • A Cucumber Martini recipe (along with a Cucumber Mary
    recipe).
  • The history of the Martini and the original Martini recipe.
  • Pinnacle Vodka makes not only Cucumber Vodka* and Cucumber Watermelon Vodka, but 40+ other flavors from traditional (Berry, Cherry, Citrus, Mango, Pomegranate) to fanciful (Caramel Apple, Cinnabon, Rainbow Sherbet, Strawberry Shortcake, Whipped Cream). You can find all of the flavors at PinnacleVodka.com.
     
    *Cucumber vodka is also made by Crop, Effen, Prairie, Rain, Square One and other brands.

       

    pinnacle-cucumber-vodka-230

    Vodka infused with fresh cucumber flavor. Photo courtesy Pinnacle.

     
    CUCUMBER AS A DRINK GARNISH

    Cucumber & Cocktails

    Cucumber is mild enough to pair with both sweet and savory cocktails. If you traditionally use a lemon or lime wedge and people don’t squeeze the juice into their drinks (that’s the purpose of the wedge), try a a cucumber wheel on the rim. It provides a crunchy snack on the glass!

    Ideally, use a Kirby or other seedless cucumber.

     

    cucumber-parsley-garnish-230

    Cucumber drink garnish. If you have fresh herbs, add them as well.

     

    Cucumber, Soft Drinks & Juice

    A cucumber garnish also works well with club soda, lemon-lime sodas (Seven-Up, Sprite) and lemonade; not to mention vegetable juices and some fruit juices.

    By the same token, these beverages are good cocktail mixers with cucumber vodka.

     
    Cucumber & Water

    Hint sells an unsweetened cucumber water, but it’s easy to make your own.

    The addition of a slice of cucumber and an herb sprig turns a plain glass of water into a special drink. You can layer on flavors as you like: a slice of apple, lemon, lime, orange or a strawberry, for example.

    In fact, a great pitcher of water idea is to load up the pitcher with lots of berries; apple, citrus and cucumber slices—anything that suits your fancy: Kiwi? Mango? Melon? Peach? Pineapple? (NOTE: bananas didn’t work for us).

    Interspersed with ice cubes, the pieces of fruit turn the pitcher of water into a work of art.

    Here’s how to infuse water.

    Want some fizz? Look for Dry Sparkling’s Cucumber, a sophisticated, lightly sweetened carbonated drink.

    A Related Snack

    Cucumbers and watermelons are first cousins. Both are from the binomial order Cucurbitales and family Cucurbitaceae, differing only at the genus level: Cucumis for cucumber (the common cucumber genus/species is C. sativus) and Citrullus for watermelon (C. lanatus).

    That’s why you can eat the white portion of watermelon rind—it tastes just like cucumber—or turn it into pickled watermelon rind, a.k.a. watermelon pickles (here’s the recipe).

    And that’s why watermelon and cucumber skewers are a tasty snack with any cucumber-enhanced beverage.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Sanpellegrino Sparkling Fruit Drinks

    If you’d like a higher quality sparkling fruit drink, pick up some Sanpellegrino Sparkling Fruit Beverages. They’re made with real juice, as opposed to natural or artificial “flavors” (also called essences or extracts—see the note below). They can be a special treat for every day…or how about Father’s Day?

    All are refreshing soft drinks and cocktail mixers. The flavors are familiar yet sophisticated:

  • Aranciata, orange
  • Aranciata Rossa, blood orange
  • Limonata, lemon
  • Pompelmo, grapefruit
  • Clementina, clementine
  • Melograno e Arancia, pomegranate and orange
  • Limona e Menta, lemon and mint
  • Chinotto, myrtle orange, a small bitter orange with an
    extraordinary flavor profile
  •  
    And now, the new kid on the shelf:

     

    FicodindiaArancia-230

    A sparkling delight: prickly pear and orange from Sanpellegrino.

     

  • Ficodindia e Arancia, prickly pear and orange
  •  
    Aromatic and soft pink in color, delivering bold sweet flavors balanced with a hint of tartness, it is a delight. We loved it!

    For now, the new flavor is an exclusive at Whole Foods Markets nationwide.
     
    Sanpellegrino soft drinks have been an Italian favorite, in 1932 when the iconic Aranciata was launched in Milan, Italy by Ezio Granelli. For more information visit SanpellegrinoFruitBeverages.com.

     
    A NOTE ON ESSENCES & EXTRACTS

    Essences or “flavorings” are chemically-developed, artificial flavors. They are typically cheaper than extracts.

    Extracts are flavors that are extracted straight from the source. For example, real vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in a neutral alcohol. The flavor leaches into the liquid, the extract.

    Buy only real extracts, and don’t buy the less expensive brand. The bargain may be more diluted with a less concentrated flavor.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Cherry Ice Cubes

    cherry-ice-cubes-hdwallpapersdesktop-230sq

    Cherry ice cubes. Photo courtesy HD Desktop Wallpapers.

     

    Take advantage of cherry season to make cherry ice cubes.

    Freeze cherries in the cube compartment (with the stems for more dazzle). Then, add them to cocktails, mocktails, soft drinks, juice, sparkling or still water.

    When the cubes melt, the cherries are the final treat.

    MORE WAYS TO USE CHERRIES

  • Black Forest Cake with fresh cherries instead of maraschino (recipe)
  • Cherry gastrique sauce for fish or meat (recipe)
  • Cherry salsa for fish and chicken (recipe)
  • Fresh cherry ice cream (recipe) or sorbet (recipe)
  • Spiced cherries to top grilled fish, meat or poultry and desserts (recipe)
  • Add cherries to green salads and fruit salads
  •  

    Here’s more about cherries, including the different types of cherries.
     
    MAKE USING FRESH CHERRIES EASY

    Get yourself a cherry pitter.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Simple Syrup

    lemon-vanilla-twist-vodka-nielsenmassey-230

    This cocktail uses homemade lemon-vanilla
    simple syrup. Photo courtesy Nielsen-
    Massey. The recipe is below.

     

    Granulated sugar does not dissolve easily in cold beverages. That’s why simple syrup (also called bar syrup, sugar syrup or gomme, the French word for gum) is used to add sweetness to drinks such as cocktails, lemonade, iced tea and iced coffee.

    Over the last decade, flavored simple syrups have become popular with mixologists. In addition to sweetness, they’re also used to add an extra layer of flavor to drinks.

    There are lots of flavored simple syrups on the market. In addition to common flavors—blood orange, lavender, mint, pomegranate, raspberry—you can find cardamom, peach basil, pineapple jalapeno cilantro, saffron and tamarind.

    Most people buy a bottle of premade simple syrup (also available in sugar-free.) Others simply make their own—not only because it’s easy and so much less expensive, but because they can create special flavors—everything from ghost chile to strawberry rose.

    It couldn’t be easier: Just bring equal parts of water and sugar to a boil and simmer, then add any flavorings. You can even make agave or honey simple syrup by replacing the sugar.

    SUGAR TIP: Superfine sugar dissolves much more quickly than granulated table sugar. You can turn granulated sugar into superfine sugar by pulsing it in a food processor or spice mill.

     

    RECIPE: SIMPLE SYRUP

    Ingredients

  • 2 parts sugar
  • 1 part water
  • Optional flavor: 1-1/2 teaspoons extract (mint, vanilla, etc.)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the water to a boil. Dissolve the sugar into the boiling water, stirring constantly until dissolved completely. (Do not allow the syrup to boil for too long or it will be too thick.)

    2. ADD the optional flavor once the sugar is fully dissolved. To infuse fresh herbs (basil, mint, rosemary), simmer them in the hot water for 20 minutes and remove before adding the sugar.

    3. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Allow to cool completely and thicken.

    4. STORE in an airtight container in the fridge for up to six months.

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE: LEMON LIME RASPBERRY TWIST

    For spring, try this Lemon Lime raspberry Twist cocktail (photo above). The recipe from Nielsen-Massey, using their Pure Lemon and Tahitian Vanilla extracts.

    If you like heat, add some jalapejalapeñoo slices as garnish.

    Ingredients For ½ Cup Lemon-Vanilla Simple Syrup

  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Ingredients For 1 Cocktail

  • 6 fresh raspberries
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce Lemon-Vanilla Simple Syrup
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 2 ounces lemon-flavored sparkling water
  • Lime twist
  • 2 frozen raspberries
  • Orange wedge
  • Optional garnish: sliced jalapeño (remove seeds and pith)
  •  

    simple-sugar-ingredients-zulka-230

    Just mix equal parts of sugar and water, plus any flavorings. Photo courtesy Zulka.

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the syrup. Combine the water, sugar and lemon extract in a small saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the syrup reduces, about 10-15 minutes.

    2. REMOVE from the heat. After the syrup has cooled, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Refrigerate the syrup in an airtight container in the fridge.

    3. MUDDLE in a cocktail shaker the fresh raspberries, lime juice and simple syrup. Add vodka and sparkling water; shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Drop the lime twist and frozen raspberries into glass. Top with a freshly squeezed orange wedge.
     
    WAYS TO USE SIMPLE SYRUP IN BEVERAGES

  • Cocktails
  • Nonalcoholic drinks: agua fresca, iced coffee and tea, lemonade, mocktails, sparkling water (for homemade soda)
  •  
    WAYS TO USE SIMPLE SYRUP TO SWEETEN FOODS

  • Candied peel (grapefruit, orange, etc.)
  • Glaze baked goods
  • Snow cones
  • Sorbet
  •  
    Bakers brush simple syrup on layer cakes to keep the crumb moist. If you use flavored simple syrup, it adds a nuance of flavor as well.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun With Nonalcoholic Beverages

    lavender-lemonade-230-drm

    Lavender lemonade, a truly great experience
    (as is lavender iced tea). Here’s the recipe.
    Photo © Edith Frimcu | Dreamstime.

     

    Many home trends in foods and how to serve them come from restaurants, where chefs are constantly on the look for new ways to tempt customers.

    While mixologists have long been creating menus of specialty cocktails, nonalcoholic customized beverages are moving to the foreground as well.

    In addition to being a money-maker for margin-squeezed restaurants, customers can view these beverages as novel and better for them, tempting some to trade up from tap water.

    Recently, the National Restaurant Association polled nearly 1,300 chefs about nonalcoholic happenings in their restaurants. The top five answers follow.

    For us at home, it’s an opportunity to follow the trend and treat family and guests to something special.

    1. GOURMET LEMONADE

    Chefs point to gourmet lemonade as the hottest nonalcoholic beverage trend in restaurants. The “gourmet” aspect usually comes from adding another fruit or an herb (or both: rhubarb basil lemonade, anyone?), via a syrup or preferably, fresh fruit infused with the tea.

     
    As fruits come into season, make blueberry, mango, raspberry, stone fruit (nectarine, peach, plum), strawberry and watermelon lemonade. Add herbs like basil, lavender and mint. Add heat with jalapeño slices.

    For people who want something more potent, add a shot of eau de vie, gin, lemon liqueur (like Limoncello), saké, tequila or vodka (regular or lemon-infused).

    To start you off, here’s a basic lemonade recipe that you can customize into your signature beverage, plus a recipe for lavender lemonade, made with organic dried lavender.

     
    2. SPECIALTY ICED TEA

    A minor upgrade can turn the ubiquitous liquid refreshment into something special. It was second on the list of trending beverages, both at fine restaurants and chains (Friendly’s offered mango iced tea nd raspberry iced tea as limited-time offers last summer).

    It’s easy to use flavored syrups, but the best taste comes from infusing the fruit with the hot water and tea. You can also try cold infusion, adding the fruit to the cooled brew tea and letting it infuse overnight in the fridge.

    Alternatively, you can buy You can buy fruit-flavored tea bags, loose tea or ice tea mixes (mango, passionfruit, peach, raspberry and more); but when peaches are in season, use the fresh fruit.

    Our local Japanese restaurant makes a celestial lemongrass iced tea (and for what we’ve been spending on two or three glasses each visit, we’d better start brewing our own).

    We added the syrup from canned lychees to iced tea (yum!) and when fresh lychees arrive in June and July, we’ll be making fresh lychee iced tea.

     

    3. HOUSE-MADE SODA

    One tactic restaurants use to get guests to trade up from water is to offer a soft drink that they can’t get anywhere else. For several years, we’ve been tempted by house-made sodas, both to see what “real” cola and root beer tasted like before their flavors were fixed on our palates by commercial brands; and to experience the new (to us) and different (celery and basil, for example).

    The easy way to start at home is to get a Sodastream, practice with their syrups and then create your own.

    Get a recipe book like Homemade Soda, with 200 recipes for making fruit sodas, fizzy juices, flavored sparkling waters, root beer, cola and more.

     
    4. ORGANIC COFFEE

    Consumers are increasingly interested in foods that are healthy and sustainable: two words that describe organic products. Organic coffee is a hot trend.

    Instead of a simple cup of coffee at the end of the meal, some chefs at better restaurants are offering coffee brewed from better beans: organic beans or single-origin beans.

     

    jalapeno-peach-iced-tea-canard-230

    Fresh peach iced tea is a treat, but for a kick, add some jalapeño slices (remove the seeds and white pith). Photo courtesy Canard Inc. | NYC.

     
    Instead of asking your guests, “Who wants coffee?” you can say, “Who’d like a cup of Blue Moon organic, Rain Forest Alliance coffee from Bali?”

    Tiny Footprint is a brand that hits the trifecta: Certified Organic, Fair-Trade and part of the Rainforest Alliance, which is carbon negative and replants forests. It’s also delicious coffee (here’s our review). You can buy it online.
     
     
    5. COCONUT WATER

    Americans are now buying some $400 million in coconut water annually.

    Coconut water is the clear juice of young coconuts, as opposed to opaque white coconut milk, used for Piña Coladas (among other purposes). Here’s more about coconut water.

    The trendy liquid is sought for its high content of potassium and other nutrients, as well as its relatively low calorie content. It’s drunk straight or added to smoothies.

    While coconut water is sold in flavors (peach mango, pineapple, etc.), you can flavor your own. Lemon Cayenne, anyone?

     
    Now that warmer weather is here, it’s time to begin your journey to creating signature nonalcholic beverages. Have fun!

     
    *Coconut water is simply drained from young coconuts. Coconut milk is made by steeping the grated flesh of mature coconuts in water, then puréeing and straining.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Joe’s Half & Half, Tea & Lemonade Drink

    Red-jacket-Half-and-Half_230

    The new Half & Half champion. Photo courtesy Red Jacket Orchards.

     

    Arnold Palmer, make way for Joe Nicholson: There’s a new tea and lemonade blend in town.

    In a Palm Springs country club in the the 1960s, with his order of a glass of half lemonade—a drink he mixed at home—golf legend Arnold Palmer established the soft drink that bears his name. Others who overheard him said “I’ll have what he’s having,” and Arnold Palmer, the drink, has been popular ever since.

    Manufacturers and restaurants have created their spin on the drink, also called a Half & Half. But no one has done it better than Red Jacket Orchards, which debuted Joe’s Half & Half this month.

    Named for company founder Joe Nicholson, the drink fuses the company’s NY Style Lemonade with guayusa tea, a NIBBLE favorite.

  • The lemonade is a mix of lemons with the company’s cold-pressed apples, giving Joe’s Half & Half a delectable hint of apple juice as well.
  • Guayusa tea comes is made from an indigenous leaf that is hand-picked by the Kichwa community in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. It is delicious and even better for you than conventional tea; it’s known for natural caffeine that doesn’t give you jitters.
  •  
    Every bottle of Joes’s Half & Half contains more than twice the antioxidant levels found in green tea, and has no added sweeteners—just the national sweetness of the apples. The final product is delicious juice that gives you healthy energy.

    Available in 12-ounce (individual) and 32-ounce bottles, Joe’s Half & Half is a new favorite of ours, for sure. Thanks, Joe!

    Discover more at RedJacketOrchards.com. You can also send someone a gift of the Cold Pressed Juice Of The Month Club.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cherimoya

    WHAT’S A CHERIMOYA?

    When our colleague Hannah Kaminsky mentioned that cherimoya was her favorite fruit, we were curious. Depending on where you live, you may not come across this heart-shaped subtropical fruit often.

    We had to head to a Latin American supermarket uptown. But seek it out we did, and the trip was worth it. The fruit’s blend of banana, mango, passionfruit and pineapple notes is luscious. The ivory-colored flesh is creamy, similar to a ripe peach.

    Also called a custard apple in the U.S., cherimoya is believed to have originated in the Andes Mountains. The name originates from the Quechua (Inca) word chirimuya, meaning “cold seeds” (because the seeds germinate at high altitudes). It grows as a shrub or tree.

       

    cherimoya-baldorfood-230

    A cherimoya. Now you know! Photo courtesy Baldor Food.

     

    HOW TO BUY & SERVE CHERIMOYA

    The pale green, shingled skin must be handled with care to avoid bruising. Choose unblemished fruit that is firm and allow it to ripen at room temperature.

    As it ripens, the skin will turn a darker green and will yield to gentle pressure. Refrigerate soft fruit and consume it as soon as possible for the best flavor.

    To serve, chill the cherimoya, cut it in half, spoon out the seeds and eat the flesh with a spoon. It can also be turned into desserts, such as crêpes, custard (hence the name “custard apple)”, dessert sauce (purée), fruit salad (as with apples, dip cut fruit in lemon or orange juice to prevent darkening), mousse, pie filling, pudding and sorbet.

    You can freeze the cherimoya and eat it as ice cream, from the shell. Definitely try this!

    And you can drink it. Whip up a shake, smoothie, cherimoya Daiquiri or other fruity cocktail.

    To usher in spring, which began today, make Hannah Kaminsky’s tropical cocktail or smoothie, Cherimoya Lava Flow.

     

    cherimoya-shake-hannahkaminsky-230

    Celebrate spring with this Cherimoya Lava Flow. Photo and recipe courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

     

    RECIPE: CHERIMOYA COCKTAIL OR SMOOTHIE,
    THE CHERIMOYA LAVA FLOW

    From Hawaii, where her local farmers market has plenty of cherimoyas, Hannah writes: “It’s a pricy treat to be sure,” even though grown locally. Her favorite way to enjoy the ripe, custard-like flesh is to dig in with a spoon.

    “With an overripe fruit, though,” she advises, “the only thing one one can do is blend and drink it. That’s where the idea to create a tropical shake came from, playing off the classic umbrella drink, the lava flow.

    “Fiery red rivulets of strawberry ‘lava’ flow throughout a classic coconut-pineapple rendition of this refreshing island staple, finished with a kiss of light rum. The sweet, creamy richness of cherimoya transforms the drink into an exotic new experience, which is just as luscious with or without the booze.

    “In lieu of fresh cherimoya, you can substitute either 1 medium banana or 2/3 cup young coconut meat for a different, yet still delicious, taste.”

    Of course, you can leave out the rum for a tropical smoothie. Substitute an equal amount of pineapple juice.

     

    RECIPE: CHERIMOYA LAVA FLOW

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

    For The Strawberry Lava Sauce

  • 1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen/thawed
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  •  
    For The Creamy Cherimoya Cocktail

  • 1 medium cherimoya
  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4-1/2 cup light rum
  • Optional garnish: fresh pineapple wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the strawberry sauce first by combining the strawberries, sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook gently for about 10 minutes, just until the berries have softened and the sugar dissolved. Transfer to a blender and thoroughly purée so that no chunks of fruit remain. Strain out the seeds if desired and set aside.

    2. RINSE and dry the blender bowl and return it to the base. Slice the cherimoya in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, discarding the black seeds as you encounter them. Add the cherimoya to the blender, along with the pineapple, coconut milk and 1/4 cup of rum. Blend on high speed until completely smooth. Add more rum to taste.

    3. DIVIDE the cocktail between two glasses and drizzle the strawberry “lava” into each one, aiming for the sides of the glass to create the greatest visual impact. Serve with a tall straw and an additional wedge of fresh pineapple for garnish.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hot Chocolate From Scratch

    hot-chocolate-moonstruck--230

    Delicious Moonstruck chocolate bars melted
    into milk for hot chocolate. Photo courtesy
    Moonstruck.

     

    It’s below zero in quite a few areas of the country today. As we write this, in Fargo it’s 2°F, with the wind chill making it feel like -18°. In our own municipality, New York City, it’s 14°F, with a wind chill taking us to -3°, going down to -20° tomorrow morning. In the Hudson Valley north of us, the wind chill is -25° to -35° degrees. At JFK Airport, it’s -40°F.

    Yes, it’s colder here than in Fargo!

    So some warming comfort food is required. We recommend hot chocolate made from scratch.

    No matter how much you enjoy hot chocolate from packets—even the pricier ones—making it from scratch produces a far superior product. It’s richer and more chocolaty, with a sweetness level you can adapt and your choice of milk (lactose free, nondairy, whatever).

    EASY HOT CHOCOLATE FROM SCRATCH

    Unwrap a bar of your favorite good-quality chocolate (or leftover solid Valentine chocolate) in a mug of steamed milk. Like hot chocolate on a stick, you stir until the chocolate melts.

    If you don’t have a steamer, just heat the mil

     
    k in the microwave. A mug with 6 ounces of steamed or heated milk can accommodate a small chocolate bar of around 1.2 to 1.4 ounces. A thin bar will melt very rapidly; a chunk of a thicker bar will melt much more slowly.

    Mora Iced Creamery, on Bainbridge Island outside Seattle, serves something like this called a Submarino” in a glass mug. The chocolate “submarine” melts and turn the “oceand” from white to chocolate brown.

    In Columbus, Ohio, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams serves a variation called Hot Chocolate Soup: hot chocolate in a café au lait bowl, served with animal crackers and a handmade marshmallow.

    Art Pollard of Amano Artisan Chocolate in Utah favors a Chocolate & Cream, a preparation of 2 ounces of his delicious chocolate bars melted into a mug’s worth of whole milk combined with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.

    The City Bakery in New York City adds two tablespoons of butter instead of the heavy cream. (Try it if you like things really rich.)

    When you use actual chocolate, including ground chocolate (often labeled as drinking chocolate) instead of cocoa powder, you are making hot chocolate. Here’s the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate.

     

    RECIPE: HOT CHOCOLATE FROM SCRATCH

    Ingredients Per Large Cup/Mug

  • 2-3 ounces of your favorite semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or as chips
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk*
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream* of water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream, marshmallow or
    marshmallow creme
  •  
    *You can substitute lowfat or nonfat milk. The drink will simply be less rich. Similarly, you can substitute light cream or half and half for the heavy cream.
     
    Preparation

     

    mocha-hot-chocolate-red-cups-mccormick-230

    Hot chocolate can be customized in dozens of flavors, from banana to raspberry. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    1. COMBINE the chocolate, cocoa and sugar to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Cover and process in ten second bursts at high speed just until finely ground (a few larger chunks of chocolate are O.K.).

    2. HEAT 3/4 cup whole milk plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or 3/4 cup milk plus 2 tablespoons of water) in a small, nonreactive saucepan. If using the cream mixture, stir frequently, preferably with a small whisk, until the mixture is steaming hot. If using water, the mixture should be almost at a boil.

    3. ADD the processed chocolate mixture. Whisk in well until it is dissolved and the mixture is steaming hot.

    4. GARNISH as desired and serve immediately. Yields one large or two more reasonable servings
     
    Here are 30 different ways to alter the recipe.
     
    MORE HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPES

  • Bailey’s Irish Cream Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Banana Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Chai Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Ice Cream Float Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Spiced Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Tequila Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • White Hot Chocolate Recipe
  •   

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