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TIP OF THE DAY: Bruschetta From The Grill

Firing up the grill this weekend? Make bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh).

We love a DIY bruschetta bar. Just rub the bread with garlic, brush it with extra virgin olive oil, grill, and place the slices on a platter along with all the fixings.

Even easier, brush the bread with garlic olive oil! You can buy it, or infuse your own in advance by dropping halved garlic cloves into a cup of olive oil (or however much you think you’ll need). Any leftover oil can go right into a vinaigrette.

Bruschetta originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, where it is commonly served as a snack or appetizer. It may have been the original garlic bread.

Plus, we have our own invention dessert bruschetta, below.

BRUSCHETTA VS. CROSTINI: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

There are two factors:

  • The size of the bread slice.
  • The cooking technique: grilling versus toasting.
  •  
    Bruschetta slices are larger, three or four inches in diameter) and grilled. Crostini, cut from a ficelle, a thinner baguette about two inches wide (the word is French for “string”).

    You can use bread of a different diameter; but if it isn’t grilled, it isn’t bruschetta.

    Here’s how to remember the difference:

  • The verb bruscare is Roman dialect meaning “to roast over coals.” But there’s something simpler.
  • Think of crostini as crust or crouton (which is its literal meaning). Toast has a crust. That’s how we taught ourself to recognize the difference.
  • While Italians serve bruschetta as a snack, the smaller crostini can be served plain with soup and salad, like the original melba toast.
  •  
    Note that some American manufacturers and others in the food industry misuse the term, selling jars of “bruschetta.” To be accurate, it should be labeled bruschetta topping). Bruschetta is the grilled bread, not the topping.

    RECIPE: DIY BRUSCHETTA BAR

    The simplest bruschetta topping is salt and pepper (i.e., seasoned garlic bread), but that’s for a bread basket.

    Almost any cheese, fruit, meat, spread or vegetable can be a topping. Toppings can be cooked, marinated, pickled, raw or smoked.

    For a DIY bar, offer at least three different toppings. We like everything, so tend to go overboard: Our toppings look like a buffet. Regarding bread, we prefer a crusty sourdough or rustic loaf.

  • Be sure the loaf will give you slices of a workable size.
  • If you’re not familiar with the particular loaf, ask to ensure that it doesn’t have holes for the toppings to fall through.
  • We have the loaves sliced at the store, then we cut the slices in half.
  •  
    Along with the bread, make sure you have fresh garlic and check your olive oil for freshness.

    Ingredients

  • Baguette or other loaves of bread
  • Olive oil, salt, pepper and peeled, halved garlic cloves
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • Avocado, mashed and seasoned (garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, etc.)
  • Caprese: quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic glaze
  • Charcuterie: pâté, prosciutto, salume, etc.
  • Cheeses: ricotta, ricotta salata, soft goat cheese
  • Fresh basil, julienned/shredded
  • Fruit: sliced figs
  • Garnishes: capers, chopped herbs, chopped mixed olives
  • Greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Heat: raw jalapeños slices, grilled chile peppers
  • Marinated artichoke hearts (chopped)
  • Mushrooms, marinated
  • Onions: caramelized, chives, chopped green onions (scallions)
  • Peppadews, sliced
  • Pimento, chopped or sliced
  • Raw and cooked veggies of choice: asparagus, grilled vegetables, sliced radishes, etc.
  • Spreads: bean, hummus, pimento cheese, tapenade
  • Tomatoes: sliced plain or marinated in oil and vinegar
  •  
     
    More options: shredded mozzarella or other cheese such as thinly-sliced Brie, fish (we have a passion for anchovies and herring salad on bruschetta), other marinated vegetables, mostarda.

    We also like eggplant caponata, pesto and sautéed mushrooms, but tend to use them more in cooler weather.

     

    Bruschetta Bar

    Rustic Loaf

    Rustic Loaf

    Bruschetta Bar

    Strawberry Bruschetta

    [1] Who needs a burger? We’re heading for the bruschetta bar (photo courtesy What’s Gaby Cooking).[2] Buy bread that has a pretty solid crumb (photo courtesy The Stone Soup). [3] This loaf is beautiful, but not for holding toppings (photo courtesy Bake Street). [4] A bruschetta bar from Countryside Cravings. [5] Dessert bruschetta, here with goat cheese (the recipe from Emily Bites). We use mascarpone.

    Preparation

    1. SET out the toppings and teaspoons for serving. We use ramekins; you can use any bowls you have.

    2. SLICE the bread from 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. Rub each side with cut garlic clove and brush each side with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Grill to your desired toastiness.

    3. PLACE the bread on a platter next to the toppings and watch people create their appetizers.
     
     
    DESSERT BRUSCHETTA

    Most people won’t have seen dessert bruschetta. We don’t know if we invented it, but our sweet tooth gave us the idea years ago.

    Start with a loaf of bread with dried fruit, such as cherries or raisins. For toppings:

  • Artisan preserves
  • Flavored peanut butter (chocolate, cinnamon, maple, etc.)
  • Fruits: berries; sliced dates, figs, grapes and stone fruits
  • Honey
  • Mascarpone or sweetened sour cream
  • Nutella
  • Garnishes: chocolate chips, coconut, nuts, etc.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mashed (Or Smashed) Pea Toast, The New Avocado Toast

    Smashed Pea Toast

    Avocado Toast Caprese

    Avocado Toast With Esquites

    [1] Mashed avocado toast gives way to mashed green pea toast, called Smashed Pea Toast at Bluestone Lane, a group of Australian-inspired cafés in New York City, Hoboken and Philadelphia. [2] Served Caprese-style. Here’s the recipe from Two Peas And Their Pod. [3] Esquites-style: Mexican corn salad with cotija cheese, lime and cilantro. Here’s the recipe from Closet Cooking.

     

    Avocado toast is an open-face sandwich, topping a piece of toast (often made with whole-grain or artisan bread) with mashed avocado seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon or lime juice.

    The not-so-recent history of avocado toast is below.

    More recently, mashed peas are being substituted for the avocado, along with more elaborate garnishes:

  • Beans: any beans, including chickpeas with a garnish of hummus, and black beans with salsa.
  • Cucumber slices: (plain or marinated) with fresh dill and cracked pepper.
  • Cheese: from crumbled feta and goat cheese to shaved parmesan.
  • Dried vegetables: beets, broccoli, caulifloer, corn, kale, plantain chips, wasabi peas.
  • Eggs: fried, hard-boiled/sliced, poached eggs.
  • Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables: such as Crunchies (see below).
  • Fresh fruit: berries and sliced fruits, including citrus segments.
  • Herbs and spices: from fresh basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, rosemary and thyme to chipotle, garlic, harissa and ras-el-hanout.
  • Lettuces: baby arugula (try it with goat cheese) or spinach, frisée, mesclun, watercress,
  • Onion family: chopped green onion, minced chives, sliced red onion.
  • Savory garnish: capers, edamame, green peas, jalapeño, microgreens, nuts and seeds, olives, pickled onions, radish slices, red chile flakes, sprouts.
  • Shellfish: crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp
  • Smoked fish: smoked salmon, with thin-sliced red onion and fresh dill.
  • Sweet garnish: citrus peel, crushed pineapple, honey-roasted nuts, pomegranate arils.
  • Tomato: halved cherry or grape tomatoes, plain or marinated (try them Caprese-style with bocconcini—small mozzarella balls—fresh basil and a balsamic glaze drizzle); sliced or diced tomato*, sundried tomato.
  • ________________

    *No decent tomatoes? Drain diced or whole canned San Marzano tomatoes.
    ________________

    There are even sweet avocado toast options, such as:

  • A topping of sliced bananas (try caramelizing them in a hot skillet), with optional coconut
  • Chocolate-avocado toast (recipe follows).
  • Dried fruits (see Crunchies, below).
  • Shredded coconut.
  •  
    For chocolate-avocado, mix 1/2 mashed avocado with one tablespoon of cocoa powder and 1-2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup. Top with berries, coconut and/or mini chocolate chips.
     
    RECIPE: MASHED PEA TOAST†

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 garlic clove, quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for toast
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups shelled fresh peas (from about 2 pounds pods) or frozen peas, thawed, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 pieces toast of choice
  • Garnish: sliced radishes, whole peas
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the garlic, parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Add the peas and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 5 minutes for fresh peas, 2 minutes for frozen peas). Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

    2. TRANSFER the pea mixture to a food processor; pulse to a coarse paste. Alternatively, for a chunkier blend, mash with a fork or a potato masher. Transfer to a medium bowl and mix in the chives, lemon juice and peel, pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

    3. STIR in the reserved cooking liquid, tablespoon by tablespoonful, until the mixture is still thick but spreadable. Season with salt, black pepper and more lemon juice, if desired.

    4. TOP the toast with pea the mash peas. Garnish with the a sprinkle of whole peas, the remaining lemon peel, and more crushed pepper, as desired.
    ________________

    *Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe for mashed avocado sandwiches with preserved lemon.

     

    CRUNCHY FUN WITH CRUNCHIES FREEZE-DRIED FRUIT SNACKS

    We’ve long been fans of Crunchies freeze-fried fruits and vegetables: a healthful, low-calorie, crunchy, all natural grab-and-go snack with no added sugar.

    In addition to grab and go snacking, we use them as garnishes for everything from salad to sorbet.

    The fruits include blueberries, cinnamon apple, grapes, mango, mixed fruit, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries and strawberry banana.

    Alas, our favorite freeze-dried corn kernels has been discontinued; but it’s been replaced by something equally wonderful: freeze dried sliced beets!

    The line is certified gluten free, kosher (OU) and non-GMO.

    You can find a store locator of buy online at CrunchiesFood.com.

     

    Crunchies Freeze-Dried Beet Chips

    Crunchies freeze-dried beet slices, one of 10 varieties from Crunchies Food.

     
    THE HISTORY OF AVOCADO TOAST

    Although a relatively new trend in the U.S. (we first noticed it about four years ago), avocado toast has been “commonplace for a long time,” according to Wikipedia.

  • In Australia and Chile, large avocado growers, people have been eating avocado toast for decades.
  • In the U.K., it has been a popular snack since the early-1970s.
  • In Mexico, where the avocado is indigenous (the history of avocado), avocado on corn tortillas dates to ancient times.
  •  
    Surely, some conquistador, or more likely one of the nuns who followed in the early 16th century (the nuns created fusion European-Aztec cuisine, adapting New World ingredients to Old World cooking styles), first put sliced avocado on a piece of toasted European bread. But the record is mute on that.

    According to an article in The Washington Post, chef Bill Granger of Sydney, Australia may have been the first person to put avocado toast on a menu, in 1993. Another Australian chef believes that the combination of avocado and toast emerged in Queensland, Australia in the mid-1970s.

    Now, Millennials call it “smashed avo.”

    In 1999, Nigel Slater published a recipe for an avocado “bruschetta” in London’s newspaper, The Guardian.

    Even earlier, in 1962, a New York Times article showcased an “unusual” sandwich of avocado on toast.

    And even earlier than that, in 1937, The New Yorker published an article, “Avocado, or the Future of Eating,” in which the protagonist eats “avocado sandwich on whole wheat and a lime rickey.” [source]

    But credit social media with launching this low-key breakfast and snack into stardom, with an endless number of photos making it a must-have for avocado lovers.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Hot Dog Rolls (Or Buns, If You Insist)

    Hot Dogs & Buns

    New England Style Hot Dog Rolls

    New England Hot Dog Pan

    Slotdogs

    [1] Classic hot dog rolls have tapered edges (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese). [2] New England-style hot dog rolls have straight edges, which get crisp when toasted (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [3] A New England hot dog pan (photo courtesy USA Pan). [4] Woo hoo: Slotdogs (photo courtesy Gadgetify).

     

    Following up on yesterday’s homemade hamburger roll recipes, today we present the hog dog roll recipes from King Arthur Flour.

    Hot dog is an American term for what initially was called a frankfurter, a style of sausage favored in Frankfurt, Germany. It was brought to the U.S. by German immigrants in the 1880s. Here’s the history of hot dogs.

    While any hot dog or hamburger dough recipe works in any hot dog pan, you do need special baking pans to shape the rolls.

    First decide if you want to make rolls with classic rounded edges (photo #1) or the straight-edge New England style (photo #2).

    We prefer the latter, because it’s also the classic lobster roll style (lobster rolls originated in New England); and perhaps more importantly, the straight edges get crisp when toasted.

    Next, decide on the size of the pan. We vote for the larger, 24-bun size. If you won’t use all of them, freeze the rest.

    Take a look at:

  • New England Hot Dog Pan (makes 8 rolls with straight sides)
  • Classic Hot Dog Pan (makes 24 rolls or 18 rolls)
  •  
     
    RECIPE #1: CLASSIC HOT DOG ROLLS

    This classic recipe can be used for hot dog or hamburger rolls.

    An egg wash places a shiny glaze on the rolls.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: BUTTERY HOT DOG ROLLS, NEW ENGLAND-STYLE

    While not exactly brioche, this recipe produces very buttery buns—also great for lobster rolls.

    Speaking of which: here are 20 other uses for hot dog rolls.
     
     
    RECIPE #3: NEW ENGLAND STYLE HOT DOG ROLLS

    Don’t want the extra butter of recipe #2?

    Whether you want your rolls classic- or New England-style, try this recipe.

    It’s different from recipe #1, in that it adds potato flour and an egg to enrich the dough. Recipe #1 uses the egg in an egg wash, to glaze the rolls; and only all-purpose flour.
     
     
    SLOTDOGS: ADD SOME PIZZAZZ TO YOUR DOGS

    While looking at hot dog pans, we came across SlotDogs (photo #4), a device that makes criss-cross cuts in the dog before grilling.

    They’re easy to make with the special Slotdog cutter.

    Kids may think they look like dragon scales; we just enjoy the geometrics.

    In addition to looking way cool, the cuts allow the smoky grill flavor to penetrate more deeply, and enables the juices to caramelize the edges.

    Plus, as with penne rigate and other pasta shapes with ridges, the toppings cling better, too.
     
     
    BUNS, ROLLS AND BISCUITS: THE DIFFERENCE

    We use the word roll instead of bun to denote hot dog-specific bread.

    There is no official difference: Both are single-serve breads, and the FDA only stipulates that buns and rolls weigh less than one-half pound (as opposed to loaves of bread, which must weigh one pound or more).

    Manufacturers and retailers use whichever term they want. However, the American Institute of Baking uses this distinction (but good luck getting people to change the words they use):

  • Rolls is the term generally used for individual breads that hold a filling—either pre-filled like cinnamon rolls or sandwich bread like Kaiser rolls. The notable exception is hot cross buns, which are filled with currants or raisins and thus should be hot cross rolls. However, the first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” appears in 1733, when there was no distinction.
  • Buns typically do not contain a filling, but can be eaten plain, with a spread (butter, jam), or used as a sop, i.e., to wipe up a liquid food: gravy, sauce, soup, stews.
  • Bunne was the word used in Middle English. The use of roll to describe a small bread came much later. The oldest reference we could find is to Parker House rolls, in 1873.
  • Biscuits use a different leavening. Biscuits use baking powder to rise; buns and rolls use yeast.
  • Texture: Rolls can be hard (crusty) or soft, buns are soft, and biscuits are pillowy soft (from the baking powder).
  •  
    FUN HOT DOG RECIPES

  • Bacon Cheese Dogs
  • Cubano Dog
  • Gourmet Hot Dogs 1
  • Gourmet Hot Dogs 2
  • Italian Hot Dogs
  • Mini Corn Dogs
  • Tater Tot Hot Dog Skewers
  • Top 10 Hot Dog Toppings
  •  
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A Gift For Cookout Hosts ~ Homemade Burger Buns

    If you’re invited to a cookout over Memorial Day weekend or any other time during outdoor grilling season, you can make what will be a very popular contribution:

    Homemade burger buns.

    TWO BURGER BUN RECIPES

    King Arthur Flour has two recipes:

    RECIPE #1: Sesame Burger Buns

    Baker after baker commented on the website that these are “the best” burger buns (photo #1).

    Soft, gold yellow from the butter and egg, with a hint of sweetness, the flavor may remind you of King’s Hawaiian burger buns.

    Use them for burgers or any sandwich. You can switch the sesame for onion or garlic.

    Here’s the recipe.

    RECIPE #2: Cheesy Burger Buns

    The light cheese aroma of these alluring buns (photo #2) comes from adding grated cheddar or parmesan cheese to the no-knead dough.

    In fact, the light cheesy aroma and flavor create what you can bill as “double cheesy cheeseburgers.”

    Here’s the recipe.

    MAKE AS MANY AS YOU LIKE. YOU CAN FREEZE ANY EXTRAS.
     
    SPECIAL BURGER ROLL PAN

    This pan (photo #3) was commissioned exclusively by King Arthur Flour to make baking hamburger buns easier. Each pan bakes six large (4-inch) buns.

    It’s a versatile pan: Use it for individual pies or cakes, oversized scones, muffin tops, individual frittatas or miniature pizzas.

    The nonstick pan is $29.95 at King Arthur Flour.
     
     
    WHO CREATED THE FIRST HAMBURGER?

    It started with the Tatar armies of Ghengis Khan!

     

    Homemade Sesame Burger Buns

    Cheddar Flavored Burger Buns

    Pan For Homemade Burger Buns

    [1] You can top the buns with sesame seeds, or leave them off. [2] Add an extra hit of cheese to a cheeseburger by baking it into the bun. [3] Make perfectly-shaped buns with this special pan from King Arthur Flour.

     
    Here’s the history of the hamburger.

    WHY IS IT TARTAR SAUCE & TARTAR STEAK (STEAK TARTARE) INSTEAD OF TATAR?

    The Tatars (no “r”) were a Chinese nomadic tribe (ta-ta-er) conquered by Ghengis Khan.

    Tartar (with an “r”), the term used by Europeans, comes from the Greek Tartarus, the underworld.

    When Ghengis Khan and his successors pillaged western Europe, the populace (a.k.a. victims) called them Tartars, meaning people from hell. The word referred to all Mongol invaders (no doubt, the nuances of tribes didn’t communicate over the maruading and murder).

    Coincidentally, this word was similar to Tatar, so the two were (and are( confused. Over time, the words became interchangable in use. [source]
     
     
    TOMORROW: HOT DOG BUNS!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun Bagel Buffet

    Bagel Buffet

    Fruit Topped Bagels

    Fruit & Vegetable Bagel Toppings

    Bagel Caprese

    Bagel topping ideas from Arla, which makes delicious flavored cream cheeses including Herbs & Spices, Natural, Natural Light and Pineapple, with seasonal specialties.

     

    If your idea of brunch includes bagels, it may also include pricey fish:

  • Herring salad
  • Sable
  • Smoked bluefish
  • Smoked salmon
  • Smoked sturgeon
  • Smoked trout
  • Smoked tuna
  • Whitefish salad
  • and other delights of the sea.
  •  
    While we love all of these, we can run up quite a tab at the cash register.

    So here’s a colorful—and less expensive—alternative that may even look like more of a feast:

    THE NEW BAGEL TOPPINGS

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables (including basil)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives, capers, pickled vegetables
  • Different flavors of cream cheese
  •  
    It’s easy to pull together.

    Head to the market to see what looks good. Buy a variety of bright colors, both sweet (fruit) and savory (veggies).
     
    Buy a selection of different bagel flavors, and don’t forget the cream cheese: plain plus a fruit flavor (blueberry, strawberry, etc.) and a veggie flavor (herbs, jalapeño, etc.)

    Philadelphia Cream Cheese has outdone itself with cream cheese spreads, currently:

    Sweet Cream Cheese Flavors

  • Blueberry
  • Brown Sugar & Cinnamon
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Honey Pecan
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberry
  •  
    Savory Cream Cheese Flavors

  • Chipotle
  • Chive & Onion
  • Garden Vegetable
  • Jalapeños
  • Salmon
  • Spicy Jalapeño & Bacon Flatbread…
  •  
    …plus Original (plain) and a variety of protein-enhanced, reduced fat and fat-free flavors.

    Other Spreads

    It doesn’t have to be cream cheese. Consider other spreads:

  • Guacamole
  • Hummus (many flavors!)
  • Pesto (many flavors!)
  • Spinach or Onion dip/spread
  • Taramasalata
  • Yogurt spreads
  •  
    This little post makes us so hungry, that we’re off to create our own bagel.

    Maybe jalapeño cream cheese topped with red bell pepper and pineapple.

     
      

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