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TIP OF THE DAY: Reuse Citrus Rinds As Mini Bowls

As you cook your way through the holidays, consider saving the shells (whole rinds) of halved, juiced lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit. You can repurpose them as mini serving bowls—for sides, desserts, condiments and more.

First, use a serrated grapefruit spoon or other implement to scrape out the empty juice sacs—but leave the white pith intact.

Then cut a tiny slice off from what will become the bottom of each “bowl,” so it will sit flat on a plate. Place the empty shells in the freezer; when frozen, store them in freezer bags. Then, for a festive meal, take them out and use them for:

  • Condiments
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Dipping sauce
  • Relish
  • Rice or mashed potatoes, with a topping
  • Salsa
    Our favorite use is dessert, specifically:

  • Fruit salad
  • Sorbet
    For cold foods, you don’t have to wait for the shells to defrost. Scooping sorbet into frozen shells, for example, keeps it from melting more quickly. Check out yesterday’s recipe for Meyer Lemon Sorbet.


    Freeze the entire half, or cut it into quarters.

  • You can defrost a piece when you need juice.
  • You can also freeze the juice alone, ideally, in ice cube trays, so you can defrost only what you need.
  • After the citrus pieces or juice cubes freeze, store them in a heavy-duty freezer bag.
    Freeze individual slices.

  • Cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick and freeze them for garnishing.
  • First freeze them on a cookie sheet so the slices don’t stick together; then store them in freezer bags.
  • For a glass garnish, cut a slit into the slice before freezing. You can then place the frozen slice onto the rim of the glass, without waiting for it to thaw.


    Citrus Cups



    TOP PHOTO: Fruit salad. Cut the fruit as fine as it needs to be to fit nicely into the shell. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers. MIDDLE PHOTO: These are panna cotta, but could as easily be sauces or sides. Photo courtesy Swirls And Spice. BOTTOM PHOTO: Stuffed with rice and topped with salmon caviar. Photo courtesy Qoo’s Life.

    Botanically, citrus fruits are berries with leathery rinds. In botany this type of berry is called a hesperidium.

    The great botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) bestowed the name Hesperideæ to the order the contains the Citrus genus. It’s an allusion to the the Hesperides, nymphs who in Greek and Roman myth guarded a blissful garden of golden apples.

    From Sweden, Linnaeus was a botanist, zoologist and physician. He laid the foundations for taxonomy, the modern biological naming system for describing species (taxa in Latin). Many of his writings were in Latin, as was custom among scientists of the time. Latin was a common language among educated Europeans, so no matter what one’s native language, one could read the works of others in Latin.



    THANKSGIVING: Food Safety Tips

    Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

    Make your Thanksgiving dinner a safe one. Photo courtesy


    Even if you’ve never had a problem before, check out these food safety tips prior to Turkey Day. They’re courtesy of The Learning Center at State Farm.

    1. Keep everything clean.

  • Scrub your hands with soap under warm water for 20 seconds before touching food. Do the same after handling food, especially raw meat or poultry, to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Clean the counters, cutting boards, dishes and silverware with hot water and soap before and after preparing each food item.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables to remove the surface dirt, but do not rinse raw meat or poultry. Rinsing them enables bacteria to spread.
    2. Heat foods to the proper temperature.

  • Color is never a reliable indicator of safely cooked food. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature,typically 165°F.
  • Frying your turkey? Follow these turkey fryer safety tips.
    3. Keep foods at appropriate temperatures.

  • Keep hot foods at 140°F or warmer with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays.
  • Keep cold foods at 40°F or colder. Nest serving dishes in bowls of ice and store moist desserts, such as pumpkin pie and cakes with whipped frosting, in the refrigerator until serving.
  • Never let food sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.
    4. Store leftovers safely.

  • Divide leftovers into shallow containers, which allow rapid cooling, before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. It enables bacteria to multiply.
  • Use a microwave or oven to reheat foods to an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Eat refrigerated leftover food within three to four days.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Duck Fat

    Duck fat has long been a staple in the kitchens of top chefs. Like bacon fat, duck fat enhances the flavor of anything it touches.

    One of the finest animal fats for cooking, it actually is low in saturated fat. As an ingredient, it has a silky mouth feel, subtle flavor and a high smoke point, which makes it valuable for high-heat cooking like French fries or pan searing.

    Other benefits include deep browning and the ability to re-use the fat after cooking with it (strain it into a container).


    Recent studies on duck fat show that it is low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fat, making it one of healthiest animal fats you can eat.

  • Duck fat contains only 33% saturated fat; 62% is unsaturated fat (13.7% of which is polyunsaturated fat, containing Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential oils).
  • Duck fat is closer nutritionally to olive oil, with 75% monounsaturated fat, 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% omega-3 linoleic acid, than it is to other animal fats.
  • It’s high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that actually helps keep cholesterol numbers in check (it’s the same fat that makes olive oil heart-healthy).
  • Most of the saturated fat is stearic acid, which is generally considered to be heart friendly.

    Duck Fat Uses

    TOP PHOTO: Duck Fat-Potato Galette with Caraway and Sweet Onions from Bon Appetit. Here’s the recipe. BOTTOM PHOTO: A French classic: confit leg of duck in cassoulet, with duck bacon. Photo courtesy Payard | NYC.

  • Duck fat has less saturated fat than butter, (which has 51%).
  • High use of duck fat equals lower heart disease. In the southwest of France, where duck is the go-to cooking fat, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is about half that of the rest of France—which, per the French paradox, is already less than half that of the U.S.
    While the USDA may never declare duck fat to be heart-healthy like olive oil, you can use it without guilt. You have plenty of time to try it: It keeps frozen for six months or longer.

    Use duck fat as you would any other animal fat, in the same quantity and manner (melted vs. solid, cold vs. room temperature, for example) as the fat you’re replacing.

  • In place of a stick of butter, use a half cup of duck fat.
  • For a drizzle of oil, use a drizzle of slightly warmed duck fat.
  • When using duck fat for deep frying, gently melt the solid fat over medium-high heat until it completely liquefies; then raise the temperature to high to bring the fat up to the proper frying temperature.
    Use Duck Fat At Breakfast

  • Eggs: fried or scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, etc. cooked in duck fat.
  • Potatoes: hash browns cooked in duck fat.
    Use Duck Fat At Lunch & Dinner

  • Biscuits and popovers.
  • Classic French dishes such as cassoulet, confit de canard and rillettes.
  • Potatoes: French fries, galettes and roasted potatoes will be even crisper. Use it instead of butter in mashed potatoes.
  • Poultry: Instead of rubbing the bird with butter or oil before roasting, use duck fat for crisper skin. Rub some softened duck fat under the skin of the breasts and inside the cavity; massage it into the skin; then seasoning and roast in a hot oven.
  • Salad dressing: Substitute heated (liquid) duck fat for the oil, and pair with a fruity vinegar. Serve immediately after tossing with greens.
  • Searing: Give fish and seafood, meats and poultry, fish and shellfish an evenly browned, flavorful crust.
  • Vegetables: Sautéed or roasted, a little duck fat goes a long way in adding richness and facilitating caramelization.
  • Savory pie crusts: pot pie and quiche.

    D'artgnan Duck Fat

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/open tub dartagnan 230

    You can buy duck fat from companies that specialize in pates and charcuterie, like D’Artagnan and Aux Delices. Photos courtesy


    Use Duck Fat To Make Desserts & Snacks

  • Donuts: Fry them in duck fat—really! It adds a depth of flavor.
  • Popcorn: Pop the corn in it duck fat.
  • Pastry: It makes crisp, golden puffed pastry, tender, flaky pâté brisée and short crust pastry. Use a 50:50 duck fat:butter blend for most baking recipes. If using it as a replacement for lard, use an equal measure.


  • Gourmet/specialty food stores.
  • Your local butcher or anywhere raw or cooked duck* is sold.
  • Your local poultry farmer.
  • Online: from D’artagnan.
    *Gourmet take-out shops that sell rotisserie duck should have lots of it.




    THANKSGIVING: Healthier Ingredients That Are Easy Switches

    Chef Gerard Viverito is a culinary instructor and operator of Saveur Fine Catering, a company whose beliefs and center on local, sustainable and organic foods. He has a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully.

    Here’s what he shared with us regarding preparation of a healthier Thanksgiving meal.

    1. Buy a turkey that is 100% bird.

    Order an organic pasture-raised bird from a butcher or a local farmer. Most store-bought frozen turkeys have been injected with a solution made from added sugar, salt and artificial flavorings, that increases their weight by up to 12%. Look closely: These birds must be labeled as “basted,” “marinated” or “injected.” Additives are not allowed in fresh turkeys.

    2. Ditch the boxed stuffing.

    That familiar stuffing in the red box contains partially hydrogenated oil, the primary source of trans fats. Nix all the prepackaged stuffings—many contain trans fats or other unhealthy ingredients—and pick up some day-old bread. Have the kids help by tearing the bread into pieces the night before. Create a family tradition with homemade stuffing.


    Thanksgiving Dinner

    A great meal without trans fats and additives. Photo courtesy

    Pass up the canned crescent rolls.

    Refrigerated dough products including crescent rolls often contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), as well as emulsifiers such as monoglycerides and diglycerides which may also contain trans fats. Easy drop biscuits take just 15 minutes to make and require just a handful of ingredients.

    Another thought: With all the food on the Thanksgiving table and rich desserts to follow, do you really need bread?



    Make your own pie crusts. Store-bought
    crusts often contain trans fats. Photo
    courtesy Williams-Sonoma.


    Rethink the mashed potatoes.

    Don’t take the easy way out and use instant potato flakes. They may also contain trans fats.

    Chef Gerard suggests a move beyond mashed potatoes to mashed root vegetables. If your crowd is sophisticated or health conscious, they may actually prefer it.

    Cook a medley of potatoes, parsnips and celery root, flavored with garlic and nutmeg, and mash away.

    Avoid the gravy packets

    Many powdered gravy mixes contain partially hydrogenated oils as well as monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate and artificial colors. Prepare your own gravy by whisking a few tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into the turkey drippings.


    Don’t Buy Prepared Crusts

    Frozen pie crusts are one of the worst trans fat offenders. If cake is a family favorite, beware of trans fat-rich canned frosting.

    Thanks, Chef Gerard!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Plate Painting For Your Dessert

    If you patronize fine restaurants and order dessert, you’ve probably noticed the “plate painting” that turns a piece of cake, tartlet or other pastry into a piece of art.

    But it’s not just for baked goods: Custard, pudding, even fresh fruit can also benefit from an artistic touch.

    In most cases, the plate is painted before the dessert is placed on top. With a sauce, for example panna cotta with creme anglaise, the dessert is placed atop the sauce and then the sauce is decorated.

    The idea is not only to create art, but to add more flavors to the dessert. Everything you use should be a flavor match to the dessert, and should be consumable with a fork or spoon.

    This article from Wilton shows all the easy ways to start.

    The simplest thing is to use a sieve to cover the dessert plate with cocoa powder (shown in the Wilton article). But you should also try:


    Fill a squeeze bottle with caramel sauce, chocolate sauce or other flavor, and squeeze out squiggles, loops, curls or zigzags. You can use two different sauces for contrast. This video shows you how.


    Fruit coulis (coo-LEE, French for strained purée) in a squeeze bottle; parchment paper to make the piping cone. You won’t believe how easy it is to make flame and heart patterns on your plate.

    This video shows how easy it is to make dots with fruit purées.

    You can also use both of these techniques to decorate the frosting on top of cakes.


  • Go for a contrasting color. For example, a chocolate dessert is enlivened by raspberry coulis or caramel sauce—or both. As you get more comfortable, use two or three colors.
  • Add different textures. For example, berries, cookie crumbs, streusel, mini marshmallows and/or macarons or pomegranate arils, artfully placed on the plate, contribute both aesthetic and fun factor. One of our favorite ways to add color is to dice pâte de fruits (French-style fruit jellies—very upscale Chuckles) and scatter different flavors on the plate.
  • Don’t cramp the elements. Depending on how many components are on the plate, use a dinner plate or charger to spread them out.
  • Combine with other garnishes, like creme anglaise or whipped cream.
  • Don’t give up. If you want to decorate but don’t think that you have any ingredients on hand, look again. Jam can be diluted to approximate coulis; baking chips can be melted (they’ll harden on the plate, but that’s OK; or you can add vegetable oil to keep them fluid. And there’s always an apple or orange on hand to dice and scatter; or some candy that can be employed.




    Dessert Plate Painting With Chocolate

    FIRST PHOTO: A simple scroll design. Photo courtesy SECOND PHOTO: Anyone can make a simple zigzag with a squeeze bottle. Photo courtesy Wilton. THIRD PHOTO: You can turn dots into hearts with the nozzle tip. Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon. FOURTH PHOTO: Pretty soon, you’ll be able to do this. Photo courtesy Harvest On Hudson.

    This video shows how to make a complex design, but also gives you all the technique for simple squiggles.

    Remember: Practice makes perfect. You don’t need a steady hand to start; but the more you try, the more you’ll be able to do. Practice on desserts for family dinners, or with snacks like brownies.

    And above all, have fun with it!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Top 10 Pasta Cooking Tips

    It seems like a no-brainer to boil pasta, yet there are several “best practices.”

    For National Pasta Month, here are some basic pasta tips that many people—including our interns—don’t know.

    1. USE A LARGE, LIDDED POT. Pasta needs room to cook without sticking: 4-5 quarts of water per pound of pasta. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, after the pasta is added, a larger pot of water will return to a boil faster. Especially with long cuts (strand or ribbon pasta), more water helps to reduce sticking, by washing away the exuded starch* from the pasta surface more efficiently. A six-quart stock pot is perfect for boiling pasta.

    2. SALT THE WATER. Salt the water before you boil it—1-2 tablespoons for a large pot. You need the salt or the pasta will be bland.

    3. NEVER ADD OIL TO THE POT. This longstanding “tip” was a marketing ploy from a salad oil company back around the 1960. The company sought ways for consumers to use more oil, and convinced many people that adding oil to the water prevents the pasta from sticking. However, the practice covers the pasta with a slick of oil so the sauce doesn’t stick.


    Stock Pot for Pasta

    This six-quart stock pot from Tramontina has a removable drain spout: No colander is needed to drain the pasta.


    4. PLACE A LID ON THE POT to EFFICIENTLY bring the water to boil. It takes long enough boil with a lid holding in the heat. You’ll be waiting forever (and water will evaporate) without one.

    5. SCOOP UP A CUP OF PASTA WATER and set it aside before you drain the pasta. This starchy water can thicken your sauce. Add a tablespoon to the sauce, or more as desired. This is especially important with egg-based sauces like carbonara, since it also helps prevent the egg from curdling when it touches the hot pasta.

    6. NEVER RINSE THE PASTA AFTER YOU DRAIN IT. This washes away the remaining surface starch, which you need in order for the sauce to stick to the pasta.



    Another tip: Cut down on carbs by serving smaller portions of pasta as a first course, followed by a protein course. Photo courtesy Steak & Whisky.


    7. QUICKLY TOSS THE HOT PASTA WITH THE HOT SAUCE. While restaurants in the U.S. often place the sauce on top of the pasta, that’s a visual enhancement rather than a flavor enhancement. A top restaurant will serve the pasta already tossed with the sauce. The hotter both the pasta and the sauce are, the more flavor the pasta will absorb. Have the sauce heated in a covered pot (or in the microwave), ready to go when you drain the pasta.

    8. USE THE POT TO BLEND THE PASTA AND SAUCE. After you’ve drained the pasta pot, dump the pasta back in, along with the sauce. Cover the pot and let the pasta absorb the sauce for a minute; then stir again and serve immediately.

    9. ADD SOME MINCED FRESH HERBS. You can toss them with the pasta and sauce, or use it as a garnish on top of the dish. We also have a peppermill filled with crushed red chili flakes, to grind into the pasta or for self-service at the table.

    10. USE REAL PARMESAN CHEESE. The best way to get the most robust cheese flavor is to keep a wedge and pass it around the table with a grater, so people can freshly grate as much as they like.


    Here’s advice from Barilla:

  • One pound of dry short-cut pasta (bow ties, elbows, penne, rigatoni, etc.) yields nine cups cooked. One pound of spaghetti or linguine yields seven cups cooked.
  • As a main course, plan for 1/4 cup of dried pasta (4 ounces) per person. A one-pound package should provide four dinner-size servings.
  • If you’re serving pasta as a first course or a side dish, plan for 1/8 cup of dried pasta (2 ounces) per person.
  • The final cooked amount will vary by shape. Spaghetti and macaroni shapes (short cuts) can double in volume when cooked. Read the package information. For example, it may say that 1/2 cup elbow macaroni = 1 cup cooked pasta, 3/4 cup penne = 1 cup cooked pasta, 1/8 pound spaghetti = ¼ cup cooked pasta, etc.
  • Egg noodles do not expand significantly when cooked; and fresh pasta, which contains a lot of moisture, doesn’t expand at all. For these varieties, plan three ounces for a first course or side dish and five ounces for a main dish.
    Rule Of Thumb Measurements

  • Small to Medium Pasta Shapes (bow ties, elbow macaroni, medium shells, mostaccioli, penne, radiatore, rigatoni, rotini, spirals, twists, wagon wheels): 8 ounces uncooked = 4 cups cooked.
  • Long Pasta Shapes (angel hair, bucatini, fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti, vermicelli): 8 ounces uncooked or 1½ inch diameter bunch = 4 cups cooked.
  • Egg Noodles: 8 ounces uncooked = 2½ cups cooked.


    *When you drop pasta into a pot of boiling water, the starch granules on the surface of the pasta instantly swell up and pop. This discharges the surface starch and briefly, the pasta’s surface is sticky with the released starch. Most of this surface starch will dissolves into the water.



    TIP: How To Remove That Burnt Popcorn Smell

    October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. We love popcorn, a whole grain snack that’s low in calories when seasoned simply with spices and herbs. You can also use your FDA-sanctioned two daily tablespoons of heart-healthy olive oil.

    But chief among our kitchen foibles is burnt microwaved popcorn. It not only imparts a horrendous lingering odor; it also stains the inside of the microwave with yellowish blotches. We sought help from

    Ready to begin? Gather your weapons.

    For The Odor

  • Fresh-ground coffee
  • White vinegar
  • Mug and small bowl as a saucer
    For The Stains

  • Dish detergent
  • Bowl or small bucket
  • Soft cloth or paper towels
  • Nail polish remover (100% acetone)
  • Soapy and clean water
  • Optional: rubber gloves
    Now get to work.


    Heirloom Popcorn Kernels

    Because burnt popcorn is so ugly, we elect to show only beauty, like these heirloom kernels. Photo by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.


    To rid your home of that burnt popcorn smell, there are two approaches: the coffee method and the vinegar method. Ground coffee absorbs odors, and vinegar neutralizes them.
    The Coffee Method

  • Fill a coffee mug or small bowl with 2 tablespoons of ground coffee and ½ cup of water. Set the cup in a small bowl to catch any overflow as it boils, and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the hot mug. Repeat as necessary with fresh ingredients.
    The Vinegar Method

  • Fill the bowl halfway with vinegar. Heat it in the microwave until it develops a good amount of steam. Stop the heating and let the steam diffuse for 10 minutes.
  • Wipe out the microwave with water and a soft cloth or paper towels. A vinegar smell may remain in the microwave, but it will dissipate in a day or two and is far more pleasant than the burnt popcorn smell.
  • If the odor gets into the vents of a microwave, it may just take some time to air out. If you can take it outside and open the microwave door to fresh air—or set it in front of an open window—do so.
  • To neutralize the smell in the kitchen, add half a cup of vinegar to a quart of water and simmer on the stove for a 10 minutes.You can also burn a cinnamon stick in an ashtray.
  • If the odor still lingers, check out the article, Removing Smoke Smells, on

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/popcorn beauty bellechevreFB 230r

    No burnt popcorn here! Photo courtesy Belle Chevre | Facebook.



    This method should remove most, if not all, of the discoloration of the inside walls of a microwwave.

  • Mix a few drops of dish detergent with hot water in a large bowl or small bucket. Dip the cloth in the soapy water and wring it out thoroughly.
  • Wipe down the inside and outside of the microwave to remove any surface dirt and grime.
    If you have manicured nails, put on rubber gloves for the next step:

  • With a clean cloth or paper towel, apply nail polish remover to the walls and scrub away the yellowish stains. Wipe any residue from the walls with the soapy water and rinse.
  • You may need to repeat a couple of times depending on the severity of the discoloration.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Channel Peeler

    Like to garnish? It’s one of the easiest ways to make everyday foods look special.

    For quick citrus peel garnishes, get a channel peeler (a.k.a. channel knife), an inexpensive kitchen gadget. (The channel peeler in the photo below is on sale for less than $6.)

    The channel knife was originally devised so that bartenders could easily peel citrus strips for cocktails. You can use the citrus peel—grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange—to make garnishes for everything you serve.

  • The small but sharp holes at the top head that remove the zest from the pith of lemons and other citrus fruits easily.
  • The lip underneath it peels wider, long strips the entire length of the fruit.
    Beyond citrus, you can cut strips from any firm fruit or vegetable: apples, cucumbers, zucchini, etc. The thin strands can be used to garnish anything, including:

  • Chops
  • Desserts
  • Fish
  • Green salads
  • Hot and cold beverages
  • Potatoes
  • Rice and grains
  • Vegetables

    orange peel garnish

    Orange peel “knots” garnish a cocktail. Photo courtesy Boulud | Boston.


    Channel Peeler

    A channel peeler or channel knife. Photo courtesy



  • Candy it.
  • Add it to cake or muffin batter.
  • Dry it to add to cookies, or to keep on the spice shelf.
  • Freeze it inside ice cubes.
  • Make gremolata.
    Longer strands can be knotted into fancy garnish, as in the photo above, a Cosmo from Bar Boulud in Boston.

    Extra peel can be frozen. Here’s more on zesting peel.

    And the next time someone requests a cup of tea with lemon, add a tablespoon of lemon peel instead.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Lemon

    Grilled Lemon Half

    A grilled lemon half with roast chicken. Photo courtesy The Fillmore Room | NYC.


    One thing we’ve been noticing at restaurants: grilled lemons. Instead of a plain lemon half to squeeze over food, the lemon comes nicely charred.

    Why? In addition to eye appeal, the heat from grilling or pan-charring a sliced lemon helps soften the juice sacs. The result: more juice spritzing onto your food.

    A grilled lemon also provides a bit of charred flavor. If you use a Meyer lemon, which is higher in sugar content, the cut surface will actually lightly caramelize. This makes its juice taste even sweeter.

    Grilled lemons are particularly tasty alongside other grilled or roasted foods—chicken, salmon or other fish and seafood, and vegetables.


    If you want a noticeable olive oil flavor on the lemon, use a strong olive oil; otherwise, go for a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed.


  • 1 lemon per 2 people, halved, top seeds removed
  • Cooking oil: canola, grapeseed, olive
  • Optional: sea salt


    1. HEAT a grill or frying pan over medium-high heat. Brush the cut sides of the lemon with oil and sprinkle with salt.

    2. PLACE the lemons cut side down on the grill/in the frying pan. Cook until the lemons are heated through and charred on the cut side, about 3 minutes.

    How easy is that?



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory Popcorn Garnish

    Before it was a popular snack, popcorn was a whole grain food. In Colonial times, it was eaten in a bowl with milk or cream, like modern puffed rice and other puffed cereal grains.

    In the 18th century, after the corn harvest, farmers would toss corn kernels, some fat and a little molasses into a cast iron pot. Voilà: the first kettle corn. (Today, special popcorn strains create big, fluffy kernels.)

    By the 1840s, corn popping had become a popular recreational activity in the U.S. By the 1870s, popcorn was sold in grocery stores and at concession stands at circuses, carnivals and fairs. The first commercial popcorn machine was invented in 1885; by the early 1920s, popcorn machines turned out hot buttered corn at most movie theaters.

    Here’s the history of popcorn.

    Considered a humble food accessible to all, it now used by fine chefs as a garnish for both sweet and savory food.

    Recently we featured an elegant savory corn custard, made from fresh corn and garnished with popcorn.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/popcorn garnish mac and cheese 230

    Add some whole grain popcorn to your mac and cheese,perhaps flavored garlic or jalapeño. Photo: DK.

    But a recipe doesn’t have to be made from corn—or be savory—to dazzle with a popcorn garnish. You can use popcorn as a fun food garnish.

    While a popcorn garnish is not yet ubiquitous, it has long been a standard on cheese and beer soup. Here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse, who makes spicy popcorn for the garnish. But if you don’t have the time, plain popcorn works just fine.

    Any thick soup—bean, lentil, vegetable—is ready to wear a popcorn garnish; as is a bowl of chili.

    A second level of fun in using a popcorn garnish: You can flavor the popcorn to complement the dish. Just a sample of popcorn flavors you can pair:

  • Savory flavors: bacon-chive, garlic, herb, jalapeño, mustard, parmesan-rosemary, sesame, truffle
  • Sweet flavors: caramel/salted caramel, chocolate, cinnamon-sugar, maple, peanut butter, peppermint, pineapple-coconut
    If there’s a flavor you want, just toss it with popcorn. Here are 50 ways to season plain popcorn.

    You can also coat the popcorn in chocolate, or use purchased popcorn: chocolate-covered, chocolate-peppermint or maple for the holidays, and so forth.


    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/Carrot cake with Caramel and Popcorn honestcooking 230

    Use caramel corn or a popcorn/pecan praline mix to top a cheesecake or (shown above) a carrot cake. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy



    Beverages: Hot chocolate, on a cocktail pick, on milkshakes

  • Breakfast: Grits or other hot cereal with sweet or savory corn (cheese popcorn on cheese grits, anyone?), pancakes and waffles with caramel corn, yogurt and cottage cheese with sweet or savory popcorn
  • Lunch/Dinner: Chicken breasts, chili, fish fillets, mac and cheese, soups, salads, grains, stews
  • Desserts: Crème brûlée, cupcakes, ice cream (here’s actual popcorn ice cream), layer cake, pudding (especially popcorn pudding)
    If you’re not yet convinced, here’s a simple way to try out popcorn garnishes:

    The next time you roll down the supermarket snack aisle, check out the popcorn selection. Buy a savory (plain salted popcorn) and a sweet variety (caramel corn or kettle corn) and start using them as garnishes.
    *Leave off the butter and sugar, and season with spices or herbs, and you’ve got a fiber-filled, healthful snack.




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