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Archive for Beverages

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Panasonic Electric Kettle

Summer is iced tea time. If you’re a fan, here’s a question:

Why take the time and effort to brew iced tea? You can buy it in individual bottles and large formats just about everywhere.

The main reasons to brew your own are sustainability, cost and, if you have a good palate, better quality tea.

  • Save The Environment. Just as with water bottles, all of that extra plastic goes into landfill. Some people recycle, but that, too, requires energy and expense.
  • Save Money. How much does a 16-ounce bottle of iced tea cost? About $1.79 where we live. Even if you buy them at club stores, you’re still paying a dollar—as opposed to pennies to brew your own.
  • Please Your Palate. Brew iced tea from loose tea or quality tea bags and enjoy superior tea flavor. We use great tea that’s so complex and flavorful, it never needs sugar.
  • Decaffeinated Tea. People who limit their caffeine can enjoy decaffeinated iced tea to their hearts’ content.

    Panasonic’s sleek new electric kettle. Photo courtesy Panasonic.



    Electric kettles have been around for generations, but they keep getting better and better.

    Introduced last month as part of Panasonic’s new Breakfast Collection, the The Panasonic C-ZK1 is a sleek 1.4 liter tea kettle with 1500 watts of power. It’s $179.95 on You can find an electric kettle for $25.00, but it doesn’t have these features:

  • Quick to heat. Heats up water faster than a traditional tea kettle. The 1.4 liter capacity equates to 47 ounces. Our pitcher holds 64 ounces. The water for the the extra 16 ounces heats in two minutes.
  • Cool to touch. It has a cool-touch exterior.
  • Automatic shutoff. A welcome safety feature, here’s automatic shutoff when the water has boiled.
  • There are more benefits. Read the full review.

    Or head on over to to buy one.




    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Vanilla Milkshake Day

    Celebrate with a vanilla milkshake. Photo by
    Inga Nielsen | IST.


    June 20th is National Vanilla Milkshake Day, and we’ve got some delicious recipes.

    A milkshake is a simple combination of ice cream, milk and syrup, combined in a blender and optionally garnished with whipped cream, a maraschino cherry or sprinkles (you can be more daring with chocolate-covered coffee beans, mini chips, etc.).

    Adults can add a shot of whiskey or liqueur.


    Ingredients For 6 Half-Cup Servings

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons to 1 shot of spirits: bourbon, whiskey, liqueur/schnapps (try butterscotch, chocolate, coffee or vanilla)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup or pure vanilla extract
  • Optional garnish: cherry, sprinkles, whipped cream


    1. PLACE ice cream, milk, alcohol and syrup/vanilla in blender. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth.

    2. POUR into glasses. Garnish as desired and serve immediately.

    More ice cream in the mix makes a thicker shake.

    If you like cardamom, try this delicious vanilla cardamom milkshake shooter.


    Most people know a “milkshake” as a cold beverage made from milk, ice cream and often, syrup, served in a tall, fluted glass with a straw (the classic milkshake glass is known as a Y glass).

    The Random House Dictionary describes a milkshake as an American creation, “a frothy drink made of cold milk, flavoring, and usually ice cream, shaken together or blended in a mixer.” And it states that the word dates to 1885.

    That’s when the word “milkshake” is first found in print. But that original milkshake was not suitable for children or teetotalers. It was an alcoholic drink, a “…sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”*

    By 1900, the whiskey and eggs were out, and the term “milkshake” referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.”*

    Yet, the milkshake still contained no ice cream.



    The modern milkshake was born in 1922, when an employee at a Chicago Walgreens, Ivar “Pop” Coulson, was inspired to add two scoops of ice cream to malted milk. Malted milk was a drink made by blending milk, chocolate syrup and malt (malt was invented in 1887—as a nutritional supplement for infants).

    The malted milkshake shot to stardom nationwide. By the 1930s, soda fountains were known as “malt shops.” In 1937 two milkshake-worthy events occurred: A superior blender was invented by Fred Waring, and the flexible straw was invented by Joseph Friedman.

    But not all milkshakes were malted milkshakes. Many people preferred their milkshakes malt-free.

    By the late 1930s, the term “frosted” was being used to describe maltless milkshakes that blended ice cream and milk into one smooth drink, while a “float” had scoops of ice cream “floating” in milk.


    Vanilla cardamom milkshake shooter with a whoopie pie. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy McCormick.


    Soda fountain owners also came up with their own names. In New England, milkshakes were variously called frappes (Massachusetts), velvets, frosteds and cabinets (Rhode Island, referring to the freezer cabinet from which the ice cream was scooped). Someone in a drive-through restaurant in St. Louis invented the concrete, a milkshake so thick that it was handed out the order window upside down for a wow factor. (We’ve had a few, and would argue that the concrete is not really a milkshake, but ice cream that’s been blended with just enough milk to turn it into a malleable form. It needs to be eaten with a spoon: It’s so thick it can’t be drunk through a straw).

    *Source: Stuart Berg Flexner, Listening to America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982) p. 178.


    In the 1950s, a milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc bought became the exclusive distributor of a speedier milkshake machine, the Multimixer. He inadvertently invented modern fast food with his vision of franchising McDonald’s hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California—in order to sell several Multimixers to each location.


    A float is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with a scoop of ice cream “floating” in it.

    A malt is a milkshake—ice cream, milk, flavoring—with added malted milk.



    TIP OF THE DAY: A Red, White & Blue Drink With Iced Tea

    Green iced tea with berries. Photo by Eugene
    Bochkarev | Dreamstime.


    To quench thirsts over July 4th weekend, brew up a special batch of red, white and blue iced tea.

    Use red and blue berries and a white fruit to garnish:

  • Green iced tea
  • Hibiscus iced tea
  • Rooibos (red) iced tea

    White fruits can include:

  • Apple
  • Coconut chips
  • Lychee
  • Pear
    If you don’t want to add a white fruit, default to a white straw!



  • Brew tea correctly. Here’s how to do it.
  • Use tea ice cubes: Make those cubes from the same iced tea, to prevent dilution (recipe). You can also drop a piece of fruit into each compartment of the ice cube tray.

    Take our iced tea trivia quiz.

    Learn all about tea in our Gourmet Tea Section.

    Talk tea like a pro: See our Tea Glossary.


    Tart and terrific hibiscus iced tea. For a fourth of July drink, substitute red, white and blue fruits for the lime. Photo courtesy Republic Of Tea.




    PRODUCT: Limonitz Sparkling Lemonade

    It’s tart and sweet and lightly fizzy with a hint of mint.

    It’s a refreshing soft drink and a delicious mixer for beer, gin, tequila, vodka or iced tea.

    It’s Limonitz.

    “Itz lemonade only better,” says the website. Except that itz British-style lemonade. North American lemonade isn’t carbonated; U.K. lemonade is.

    But itz a treat however you define it. For perfection, we’d add some fresh mint, as the family originally made the drink. At home it was called “Daddy’s Lemonade.” After years as a special family tradition, they decided to bottle it.

    Limonitz is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union (OU) and certified organic by the USDA.

    Additional flavors are coming out this summer. We can’t wait.

    For more information visit


    The new soft drink in town. Photo courtesy Limonitz.



    Comments (1)

    TIP OF THE DAY: Become A Master Soda Maker

    Here’s a fun Father’s Day gift that will open your eyes to how great it is to make soda at home—and how much more popular you’ll be once you start doing it!

    Anton Nocito, proprietor of P&H Soda Co. in Brooklyn, New York, has assembled his techniques and ideas into a new book, Make your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, Floats, Cocktails, and More.

    All you need is a bottle of seltzer or a Sodastream and you’re on your way to becoming a great soda maker—and to enjoying real soda, without ubiquitous artificial colors, flavors and questionable sweeteners. You’ll:

  • Whip up your own syrups with fresh fruits and spices
  • Serve up egg creams and egg shakes
  • Make truly superior ice cream sodas
  • Deliver gourmet hot drinks

    Cherry Lime Rickey. Photo courtesy Make Your Own Soda | Clarkson Potter.


    Grapefruit soda with homemade grapefruit
    syrup. Photo courtesy Make Your Own Soda |
    Clarkson Potter.


    Then, relax with your creations. Natural sodas are vibrantly flavored: the zing of just-squeezed citrus juice, the intensity of ripe berries, the subtle perfume of fresh herbs.

    And the ability to customize a drink that’s as sweet (or not) as you like, with conventional or low glycemic sweeteners (we successfully substituted agave nectar for the sugar).

    Handmade syrups make all the difference in recipes for all-natural soda pop, floats, cocktails, punches and more: The book has a total of 70 recipes, simple and fun. Beautiful photographs make you want to make every one. This is cookbook that any soda lover will love.

    Anthony Nocito is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and was an executive sous chef in the Union Square Hospitality Group. Artisanal soft drinks are obviously one of his passions. They may become one of yours, too.



    To show you how easy it is, here’s a sample recipe from the book. If you remember Brigham’s and Bailey’s casual restaurants in the Boston area, you remember the Raspberry Lime Rickey, as seductive a soft drink as ever graced a soda fountain—brightly colored, sweet and tart, a favorite of kids adults alike. Nocito’s version is a cherry lime rickey—very satisfactory. But you can always make a batch of raspberry syrup and relive the memories.

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 tablespoons lime syrup (recipe belowk)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Dash of citric acid solution
  • Seltzer
  • 2 tablespoons sour cherry syrup (recipe below)
  • Wedge of lime, for garnish

    1. FILL a tall glass with ice. Add the lime syrup, lime juice, and citric acid solution.

    2. ADD the seltzer, float the cherry syrup on top and garnish with the lime wedge.


  • 1¼ cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 4 limes
    1. BOIL water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the zest and remove the pan from the heat. Steep for at least 1 hour. Let cool.

    2. STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.


  • 2 quarts fresh sour cherries, pitted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon
    1. COMBINE cherries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

    2. STRAIN the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the fruit solids.

    3. STORE in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.



    PRODUCT: McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

    When you’re passing by McDonald’s on a hot day, cool down with a McCafé Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie.

    Very fruity, lightly sweet but not sugary, and icy cold, we were tempted to have another as soon as we finished the first.*

    The company says that the drink is “made with an alluring combination of blueberries and raspberries and a splash of pomegranate juice blended with ice and creamy low-fat yogurt.”

    So why is it called Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie instead of Blueberry Raspberry? Our guess is that “pomegranate” tested better with consumers.

    And “splashes” of other juices are blended in as well, to get just the right flavor. The nutrition label lists, in order of the quantity (weight) of the ingredients:


    The new McCafe Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie. Photo courtesy McDonald’s.

    Blueberry purée, pineapple juice concentrate, raspberry purée, apple juice concentrate, pomegranate juice concentrate, peach juice concentrate, pear juice concentrate and lemon juice concentrate.

    What lingers is the lovely summer flavor of blueberry. The special McCafe machine creates the drink with a texture motr like a Slurpee rather than a conventional smoothie, but we’re not complaining: A Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie is a great vacation from heat and humidity.

    *What stopped us from having another were the carbs. The 12-ounce size (small) has 220 calories and 50g carbs, of which 44g are sugars. There is, however, 2g of protein from the yogurt.



    RECIPE: Spicy Cucumber Green Iced Tea

    How about spicing up your iced tea? This spin is from Ted Allen, host of Food Network’s series, “Chopped.” Ted is a consultant to Lipton’s Pure Leaf Iced Tea. He created this recipe with a prep time of just 5 minutes, using a bottle of Pure Leaf Not Too Sweet.

    If you don’t like sugar in your tea or prefer a noncaloric sweetener, just brew your own tea and take it from there.

    You can turn the drink into a cocktail by adding gin, vodka or tequila.


    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 10 slices cucumber (about 1/4-inch thick)
  • 2 slices lime (about 1/4-inch thick)
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 1 bottle Pure Leaf Not Too Sweet Honey Green Tea or home-brewed green tea,

    Icy, spicy: Asian-style cucumber iced tea. Photo courtesy Pure Leaf Iced Tea.

  • Optional garnish: cucumber spear and lime wheel; fresh jalapeño slices if you really like heat
  • Optional cocktail version: 1/4 cup gin, vodka or tequila

    1. CRUSH (muddle) cucumber, lime and red pepper with wooden spoon in 1-quart glass measuring cup.

    2. STIR in tea. Mix well to combine.

    3. STRAIN into ice-filled glasses. Garnish as desired.

    Here’s more about Pure Leaf Iced Tea.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Iced Tea Ice Cubes

    Iced green tea with green tea ice cubes.
    Photo by Tomo Jesenicnikc | IST.


    It’s National Iced Tea Month, so we‘re repeating one of our favorite tips for iced tea lovers:

    Make your ice cubes from the same tea.

    This way, you can keep your iced tea ice-cold without diluting it. It’s a more elegant solution than brewing the tea extra-strong, anticipating that it will be diluted by regular ice cubes.

    You can also use the tea ice cubes in lemonade, creating an “Arnold Palmer” effect; or use them to add a different flavor nuance to any cold drink, including cocktails.


    While it sounds like a no-brainer, here’s the recipe:


  • 3 cups water
  • 8 tea bags of your choice (or 24g loose tea—each tea bag has the equivalent of 3g of tea)


    1. BOIL the water and pour over tea in a heat-resistant pitcher. Allow to infuse for the variety’s recommended steeping time.

    2. REMOVE tea bags or loose tea; allow tea to cool to room temperature. Pour tea into ice cube trays and place in freezer.

    3. KEEP ice cubes in the tray or remove to a freezer bag or other container so you can freeze more ice cubes. Make black, green and herbal tea ice cubes, depending on what you typically drink.



    RECIPE: Homemade Peach Iced Tea

    Make delicious peach iced tea. Photo
    courtesy Republic Of Tea.


    Last night we dined out, and were seated next to a table of four who were ordering up a storm of house-made peach iced tea. Their iced tea bill alone probably equaled the cost of our dinner.

    So in acknowledgement of National Iced Tea Month and saving money by making it yourself, here’s a recipe courtesy The Republic Of Tea.

    The recipe uses low-glycemic agave nectar, but you can substitute sugar or other sweetener—or skip the sweetener entirely.

    As you can see from the photo, this recipe does not make crystal-clear iced tea. Instead, blending in the peaches delivers more peach flavor and a juice-like opacity. Instructions for a conventional, clear peach iced tea are included below.



  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tea bags of your unflavored tea (black, green, herbal, white)
  • 2 ripe peaches, pits removed (frozen peaches may be substituted) —or— 1 peach and a mango, skin and pit removed
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 cup ice
  • Optional garnish: skewer of diced fresh peaches

    1. BOIL water and pour over tea bags in a heat-resistant pitcher. Infuse for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and place pitcher in refrigerator to chill.

    2. COMBINE chilled tea, fruit, agave nectar and ice in a blender. Blend and serve with optional peach garnish. Makes three eight-ounce glasses.


    Ginger-Peach Iced Tea: For a sizzle of ginger, add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger to the blender, or infuse a few slices of fresh ginger with the tea bags.

    For Clear Iced Tea: Dice the fruit and infuse with tea bags in the boiled water. Do not blend. Serve over ice.


    You can brew peach iced tea from pre-flavored tea bags and mixes. But as you can see from this review, you might not get the natural peach flavor you expect.



    PRODUCT: Drink Covers

    Keep the bugs from your drinks. Photo courtesy Charles Viancin.


    Here’s a solution for keeping insects from your drinks: drink covers from Charles Viancin.

    The cold drink lid is solid; the hot drink lid has mesh inserts that allow steam to escape. They’re $7.95 for a set of two at

    The Sunflower Lid is available in five diameters from 4″ through 11-3/8″, so matching lids can protect bowls of food. The dishwasher safe, freezer-safe, BPA-free silicone seals airtight on all smooth rims for reheating (up to 500°F) and storing.

    They’re a sustainable solution to foil and plastic wrap, and s nice gift to bring to the host of an outdoor party.



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