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RECIPE: Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

May 31st is National Macaroon Day. Here, David Lebovitz, renowned pastry chef, blogger and author of cookbooks, shares his recipes for chewy, chocolaty macaroons.

First, some macaroon history:

  • MAC-A-ROON is the English name for the Italian almond meringue cookies (maccarone, mah-cah-ROW-nay) first made by monks, possibly in the 13th century. They most resemble today’s amaretti cookies, with a crisp crust and a soft interior, developed at the court of Savoy in the mid-17th century. Since almond flour made them kosher for Passover, Italian Jews embraced the recipe.
  • COCONUT MACAROONS were developed in the Jewish community as a variation to the original recipe. They became a popular year-round cookie outside of the Jewish community as well.
  • MAC-A-RONS are the French version, delicate meringue cookie sandwiches filled with buttercream, ganache or jam. They were created at the beginning of the 20th century by Parisian baker Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée, had the idea to join two meringues and fill them with ganache.
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    All three versions are gluten-free.

    Who first thought to dip coconut macaroons in chocolate? It isn’t known, but we thank them.

    Here’s a detailed history of macaroons and macarons.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE-DIPPED COCONUT MACAROONS

  • Be sure to use unsweetened coconut (medium shredded coconut or coconut flakes), which is available at most natural-food shops and online.
  • You can prep the dough up to a week in advance, or freeze it for future use.
  • Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 25 minutes.
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    Ingredients For About 30 Cookies

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar (10 oz./315 g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2-1/2 cups (9 oz./280 g) unsweetened shredded dried coconut
  • 1/4 cup (1-1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces (60 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
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    Preparation

    1. STIR together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour in a large fry pan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir. When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom…

    2. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. At this point the mixture can be chilled for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 2 months. When ready to bake,

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a spoon and your fingers, form the dough into 1-1/2 inch (4 cm) mounds and arrange them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

    4. LINE a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Dip the bottom of each macaroon in the chocolate and set the cookies on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, 5 to 10 minutes.

     

    Coconut Macaroons Chocolate Dipped

    Macaroons On A Silpat

    Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroons Chocolate Dipped

    [1] Dipping in chocolate. Who gets to lick the bowl? (photo courtesy David Liebovitz). [2] A Silpat baking sheet protects the macaroons from over-browning (photo courtesy Silpat). [3] Bet you can’t eat just one (photo courtesy Burdick Chocolate). [4] Dipping the tops in chocolate may cause drips, but there are no sticky fingers from holding a chocolate bottom (photo courtesy The Fosters Market Cookbook).

     
    Recipe originally posted on Williams-Sonoma.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gluten-Free Quiche With A Potato Crust

    Gluten Free Sausage Quiche

    Idaho Red Potatoes

    Caramelized Onions

    [1] Sausage and caramelized onion quiche with a gluten-free crust of hash brown potatoes. [2] Idaho red potatoes (both photos courtesy Idaho Potato Commission). [3] Caramelized onions. Photo courtesy Pompeian | Facebook.

     

    May 20th was National National Quiche Lorraine Day. We make a quiche every year, to celebrate the holiday. (In our college days, quiche was all the rage and we made several a week.)

    There are numerous types of quiche, but we’ve never seen one as imaginative as this gluten-free recipe from Jennie Phaneuf of One Sweet Mess for the Idaho Potato Commission.

    This quiche, packed with sausage and caramelized onions, has a crust made from hash brown potatoes, making it gluten free. You may enjoy a potato crust even more than a gluten-free flour crust.

    You can also try a cauliflower crust and pack in some brassicas. Here’s a recipe.

    You can serve quiche at breakfast, lunch, or dinner—or as a snack with wine or beer. In France, it is often served as a first course with dinner. In the U.S., it’s more common to serve it as a light entrée with a green salad.

    Spicy sausage, sweet caramelized onions, and creamy blue cheese get combined with fluffy eggs and baked to perfection.

    If you don’t like blue cheese, substitute gruyère.

    Instead of purchasing ground sausage, we bought Bilinski chicken sausages (pick your flavor), removed the casings and crumbled the meat.

    RECIPE: SAUSAGE & ONION QUICHE WITH A HASH BROWN POTATO CRUST

    Ingredients
     
    For The Crust

  • 5 medium red Idaho potatoes, peeled
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper
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    For The Filling

  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 eggs
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Grate the peeled potatoes and add them to a large bowl. Cover the potatoes with cold water and allow them to soak for 10-15 minutes. While the potatoes are soaking…

    2. HEAT a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until brown, breaking up the meat as you go, about 8-10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside.

    3. ADD 1 tablespoon of canola oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to the same pan. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the sliced onions. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper to the onions and stir to combine.

     
    Continue to cook until the onions are amber in color and caramelized, stirring often, about 35-40 minutes. If the onions begin to over-brown, turn the heat down to low. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside (you can add them to the same bowl as the sausage). While the onions are cooking…

    4. DRAIN and rinse the grated potatoes. Press down on the potatoes to remove as much of the water as possible. Transfer the potatoes to a clean tea towel and pat them dry with paper towels.

    5. ADD 4 tablespoons of canola oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to the same pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the grated potatoes. Season with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Press the potatoes into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown.

    Using a thin metal spatula, lift up on the bottom of the hash brown to release them from the pan. Flip and cook on the other side for 8-10 more minutes. It’s okay if the hash browns don’t flip perfectly; just arrange them back in the pan and continue to cook. While the hash browns continues to get crispy…

    6. ADD the eggs and half-and-half to a large bowl; whisk to combine. Gently season with salt and pepper, because the blue cheese is salty. If you’re using a less salty cheese, you can add more salt.

    7. TURN off the heat. Arrange the sausage and onions evenly over the hash browns. Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese over the top, and then pour the eggs over the entire mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through and the center is set.
     
     
    MORE DELICIOUS POTATO RECIPES
     
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POTATOES

     
      

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    PRODUCTS: 5 More Favorite Specialty Foods

    Another batch of favorites from THE NIBBLE.

    What makes it a favorite? We would buy it again…and again. In alphabetical order, we recommend:

    1. LOVE THE WILD: FROZEN FISH FILLET ENTRÉES

    Only one in five Americans meet the USDA recommendation for fish intake, a vital high protein dietary component that’s high in protein and healthy fats.

    LoveTheWild is on a mission to make it easy for you to enjoy delicious, traceable fish dinners—in fact, we can’t recall an easier preparation. Add the fillet to the piece of parchment paper, top with the cubes of sauce, fold and bake. It tastes like it was prepared at a [good] restaurant.

    Aside from a moist and tasty piece of fish, there’s no pan to clean: The parchment goes from pan to plate (or, you can remove it before plating).

    In the process, the company uses the greener technique of aquaculture, which they call “the least environmentally impactful form of animal protein production in the world.”

    The frozen entrées, nicely packaged, pair sustainably-sourced fish filets with regional, butter-based sauces that complement each species’ unique taste.

    The company hand-selects seafood from the most well-managed farms in the world, providing you with the highest quality sustainable seafood. There are currently four varieties, each of which was a hit with us:

  • Barramundi with Mango Sriracha Chutney
  • Catfish with Cajun Creme
  • Rainbow Trout with Salsa Verde
  • Striped Bass with Roasted Pepper Almond Sauce
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    We received these as samples, but we’re headed out to load up!

    LoveTheWild products are sold at major retailers across the U.S., including Whole Foods Markets, Wegmans, Sprouts, and Mom’s. Find a store locator and more information at LoveTheWild.com.
     
     
    2. MEMBER’S MARK SEA SALT CARAMELS

    Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, is increasing its foothold in the specialty food space. It has revamped its private label Member’s Mark brand to include more premium products.

    Items span many categories, from sea salt caramels and honey sourced from a U.S. bee cooperative to all-natural pulled pork created with help from pit masters at the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

    The brand will add 300 new items this year and plans to add another 300 next year. In addition to food, the Maker’s Makrk merchandise includes health and wellness and apparel.

    We received samples of the sea salt caramels, honey, and olive mix. The honey and olives hit the spot; but there are good honeys and olives around.

    The hands-down winner were the delicious sea salt caramels, notable for their generous size (about 1-1/4 inches square by 7/8 inch high—a long, chewy mouthful.

    The centers are soft, handcrafted caramel, the exterior quality milk chocolate. There’s a light sprinkle of sea salt; even if you don’t see it, you’ll taste it.

    Caveat: We couldn’t stop eating them.

    If you’re not near a Sam’s Club, we also found them on Amazon, and are trying to restrain ourselves from ordering the six-pack.
     
     
    3. PEPPERIDGE FARM FARMHOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

       
    Love The Wild Striped Bass

    Members Mark Sea Salt Caramels

    Sea Salt Caramels

    Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

    [1] Love The Wild has four terrific frozen fish entrées (photo courtesy Love The Wild). [2] Member’s Mark from Sam’s Club has great salted caramels (photo courtesy Sam’s Club). [3] The caramels look like this, with tiny grains of salt. You can make these at home with this recipe from Inspired Taste. [4] Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse is perhaps the best mass-market chocolate cookie (photo courtesy Pepperidge Farm).

     
    We wouldn’t have called these cookies “farmhouse.” They’re sophisticated, thin and crispy. We think they’re Pepperidge Farm’s best cookies yet.

    Made from classic ingredients—butter, flour, vanilla and chocolate chips—the cookies are made in three varieties:

    Choose a product:Pepperidge Farm FarmhouseTM Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
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    It’s hard to choose a favorite, but you don’t have to: Try them all.

    The’re available last retailers nationwide; SRP is $3.49. The line is certified kosher by OU.
    ________________

    *Traceability is the ability to verify the history, location aor application of an item by means of documented recorded identification. Consumers and retailers can follow if a product meets regulatory, environmental and ethical standards.Here’s more.

     

    Wholey Cheese Crackers

    Terra Plantain Chips

    [5] One of three flavors of gluten-free cheese crackers, from Snyder’s Of Hanover. [6] Plantain Chips from Terra Chips.

     

    4. SNYDER’S OF HANOVER: WHOLEY CHEESE! CRACKERS

    Does America need another cheese cracker?

    Yes, when they’re as light and tasty as Wholey Cheese, the new brand from Snyders Of Hanover. And gluten free, to boot.

    Potato starch is used instead of wheat flour, an advantage over Cheez-It and Goldfish:

  • Mild Cheddar
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Swiss & Black Pepper
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    The only issue is the high proportion of broken crackers. But in the end, it didn’t affect us as we ate every crumb: from the bag and sprinkled onto salads, soups and potatoes.

    Find them at retailers nationwide.
     
     
    5. TERRA CHIPS: PLANTAIN CHIPS

    We have loved Terra Chips long before they were a store product. They began as a specialty of a Manhattan caterer, who sliced his way to famed and fortune (and we thank him for it).

    The company has just introduced two varieties of plantain chips:

  • Plantains, a savory chip
  • Sweet Plantains
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    Plantains are members of the banana family, but are more dense and less sweet (and can’t be eaten raw). They grow in tropical climates, where they are treated as root vegetables (but they aren’t), and typically served in savory preparations.

    Plantains ripen, like bananas. The Sweet Plantains are made from the ripe fruit, at the point that natural browning occurs. There is no sugar added.

    We actually preferred the more savory chip.

    Discover more at TerraChips.com. The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Fix Runny Fruit Pies

    Fruit pies are one of the joys of summer. But once you cut into your beautiful pie, the juice and fruit can spill out of the crust and into the space of the piece of pie you’ve just removed.

    Unhappily called a lava flow, pan puddle or slump—or simply runny pie—you can eliminate it through experimentation with types and amounts of thickeners.

    You want your pie filling to hold its shape. Where do you begin? Here’s a detailed matrix from P.J. Hamel of King Arthur Flour, who advises that every recipe needs testing until it meets your satisfaction. There is no one perfect solution.

    Why? Each fruit has a different amount of pectin, a natural thickener. Each type of added thickener has a different thickening power, based on the percentage of starch it contains.

    For this reason, recipes from reliable sources use a specific type and amount of thickener for a specific type of fruit. Don’t substitute either the fruit or the thickener and expect optimal results.

    For example:

  • Apples contain a lot of pectin, a natural thickener. Although they release juice when cooked, they are not nearly as juicy as stone fruit or berries.
  • Stone fruits have less pectin than apples, but more than berries. They need an in-between amount of thickener.
  • Berries are the juiciest, and need the most thickener. Frozen berries release even more liquid, and require more thickener.
  • Blueberries have the most pectin of the berry group. They need a bit little less thickener than other berries.
  • Fresh cherries need less thickener than canned or frozen cherries.
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    That being said, we’re just talking runniness. Even a runny pie will still taste good.

    FRUIT PIE THICKENERS

    Pie thickeners prevent the valuable juices from running out when the pie is sliced.

    The following thickeners are listed in order from least thickening agent, with the least amount of starch, to the strongest, starchiest thickener. (The thickening power is known as gel strength among professionals.)

  • All-purpose flour. The standby for generations past, flour produces a somewhat cloudy filling. Plus, you need to use more of it than you would higher-starch thickeners.
  • Quick-cooking/instant tapioca. makes filling bright and clear, but also gives it a stippled (and for some, “gluey”) texture. Filling mixed with tapioca needs to rest 15 to 30 minutes before baking, for the tapioca to soften.
  • Instant ClearJel is a product available from King Arthur Flour, that keeps fillings thick through a broad range of temperatures. This makes it ideal for pies that will be frozen, either before or after baking.
  • Pie Filling Enhancer, another product available from King Arthur Flour, thickens fruit pie fillings the same way Instant ClearJel does. Its advantage is added ascorbic acid (a flavor enhancer), and superfine sugar, which prevents it from clumping. Pie Filling Enhancer is about half sugar; so you’ll want to reduce the sugar in your recipe as directed below. It’s OU kosher.
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    Blackberry Pie

    ClearJel Pie Thickener

    Pie Gate - Pie Sealer

    [1] A blackberry pie, properly thickened, holds its shape. Here’s the recipe from The Baker Chick. [2] A great thickener for frozen pies: Instant ClearJel (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [3] Another solution: a pie sealer or pie gate (photo courtesy Progressive International).

  • Cornstarch, like flour, gives a cloudy, semi-transparent look to filling. It can also give filling a chalky or floury taste. When using cornstarch, make sure the pie filling is bubbling up through the crust before removing your pie from the oven.
  •  
    A note: Our mom used cornstarch in her renowned apple and blueberry pies. No one ever noticed any cloudiness, and her pies were always in demand.

    MORE TIPS TO THICKEN THE JUICES

  • Reduce the juice. After you sugar the berries, let them sit for 20 minutes or so, until juice starts to collect in the bottom of the bowl. Drain the juice into a pan, reduce it, and add it back to the berries.
  • Use a top crust with openings, such as lattice (photo #1) or cut-outs (photo #3). These allow some of the moisture in the juice to evaporate, thickening the filling. When baking a lattice or open-top pie, reduce the thickener by 1/4 teaspoon per cup of filling.
  • Golden crust and bubbling fruit does not mean the pie is finished. It may still need another 5 to 10 minutes to fully activate the thickener. This is especially true if flour or cornstarch are used.
  • Some fruit fillings will continue to thicken for 24 hours after baking. Instant ClearJel will increase the thickeners by about 15% from day 1 to day 2; quick-cooking tapioca and Pie Filling Enhancer, about 30%. Fillings thickened with flour or cornstarch will not thicken further.
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    RECIPE: Strawberry Balsamic Pie

    Strawberry Balsamic Pie

    Balsamic Vinegar

    [1] Strawberry balamic pie. [2] Balsamic vinegar (photo Pompeian | Facebook).

     

    In Italy, strawberries are often served for dessert with balsamic vinegar. Some of the most expensive, aged balsamics are served this way, with a few precious droplets bringing more excitement between the two ingredients (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts).

    Fine balsamic is also served with aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, so sophisticated foodies should consider some crumbles as a plate garnish (crumble your own from a wedge-don’t buy crumbled parmesan).

    One of our favorite bakers, Audra, The Baker Chick, sent us this recipe for If you like to bake, or simply look at beautiful cakes and pies, sign up for her emails.

    “The original recipe for this beauty comes from Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a wonderful pie shop in Brooklyn that I used to get to enjoy back in the day. I didn’t follow it exactly, partly because of what I had on hand and partly because of my own pie-making experience; but it was pretty darn amazing either way.

    “When it comes to thickening berry pies, I’m an instant tapioca girl. I really believe nothing works better. I love a juicy pie, but not a soupy one and tapioca really is the best. Happy Spring—now go make this lovely pie!”

    It’s lovely for Mother’s Day, and all through the summer.
     
    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC PIE

    Ingredients

  • 2 layers pie crust
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 lb fresh strawberries, quartered
  • 1 small baking apple, peeled and grated
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant tapioca
  • 2 grinds fresh black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Egg wash (1 large egg whisked with 1 tsp water and a pinch of salt)
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling (it gives a nice crunch.)
  • Optional for serving: vanilla or strawberry ice cream…or a bit of each
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust with your favorite recipe. Audra added ¼ cup cider vinegar to the ice water and thinks it made the crust extra flaky. While the crust is chilling, prepare the filling.

    2. PLACE the strawberries in a large bowl, sprinkle with the sugar and toss gently. Let sit for about 20 minutes; then stir in the apple, balsamic, brown sugar, tapioca, pepper and salt. Toss to combine and allow flavors to sit and get juicy.

    3. ROLL out one of the chilled pie crusts and drape it over the bottom of the pie pan. Pop it into the freezer for a few minutes while you roll out the second crust. If you want to try a lattice crust, use a straight edge to cut the strips.

    4. POUR the filling into the chilled crust and add the top crust. Trim and crimp the edges of the crust and pop it into the fridge or freezer while you preheat the oven to 425°F, with a rack positioned in the middle. When oven is ready…

    5. BRUSH the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle it with sugar. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place the pie on top. Place the cookie sheet on the middle rack.

    6. BAKE for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is beginning to turn golden. Then, reduce the heat to 375°F and bake for another 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the pie is juicy and bubbly.

     
      

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