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TIP OF THE DAY: Irish Beer & Cheese Party

basiron-green-pesto-close-ig-230sq

Kerrygold Dubliner

Kerrygold Dubliner With Irish Stout

[1] Basiron Pesto Rosso has an Italian name, is made in Holland and is perfect for an Irish celebration (photo courtesy Atalanta Corp). [2] Kerrygold’s Dubliner is a unique cross between cheddar and parmesan cheeses. [3] It also is made in a limited edition with Irish stout.

 

Yesterday we featured a recipe for “Irish Nachos,” made with potatoes. We recommended serving them with a tasting of Irish beers:

  • Beamish Irish Stout
  • Fuller’s
  • Guinness Draught, Extra Stout, and Foreign Extra Stout
  • Harp Lager
  • Murphy’s Irish Red
  • Murphy’s Irish Stout
  • O’Hara’s Celtic Stout
  • O’Hara’s Irish Wheat
  • Porterhouse Brewing Co. Oyster Stout
  • Smithwick’s Irish Ale
  •  
    If you don’t want to cook anything, taste the beers with a platter of Irish-themed cheeses.

    Today we feature four brands. Three are Irish—Cahill, Cashel and Kerrygold—but we couldn’t help but recommend our favorite green cheese, made in The Netherlands.

    All cheeses Your local cheesemonger may carry them; or look for them online.

    All cheeses are made with milk from grass-fed cows, who enjoy a natural life (no hormones).

    1. BASIRON PESTO VERDE

    This green beauty (photo #1), made green with the addition of basil-garlic pesto, is a a Gouda*-style cheese, made from pasteurized cow’s milk and vegetarian rennet.

    It is made in The Netherlands by the Veldhuyzen family, who make other fabulous-flavored Goudas (below).

  • Breakfast: Green cheese grits or a cheese omelet.
  • Lunch: Green grilled cheese, ham and cheese, etc.
  • Happy Hour: With a beer, an Irish whiskey and soda, or a glass of fruity red wine.
  • Dinner or Snack: On a cheese plate.
  • Dinner: Gouda fondue; shaved over pasta, potatoes, rice or vegetables; melted over anything; stuffed in a chicken breast.
  •  
    The line includes Alpine (with herbs from The Alps), Garden Herbs, Garlic, Kummel (caraway), Hot Chili (deep yellow for Halloween), Jalapeño, Mustard, Nettles, Olive Tomato, Pepper, Pesto rosso (a deep orange color for Halloween or Thanksgiving), Smoked Bacon, Sweet Red Pepper, Tricolor, Truffle, Walnut, Wasabi and Wood Garlic!

     
    Obviously, there’s quite a demand for Basiron flavord Goudas.

    We’ve had four of them, but on our bucket list: to try them all at one big tasting.
    ________________

    *How Do You Pronounce Gouda? Most Americans pronounce it “GOO-duh.” But the Dutch might not understand your request. The name of this cheese is pronounced variously as “GAOW-duh” or “HOW-duh” (with the H standing for the Dutch guttural “ch” sound, like clearing your throat).

     

    2. KERRYGOLD

    Kerrygold (photos #2 and #3 above) may be better known in the U.S. for its Irish butter, which has national distribution.

    But its cheeses deserve equal recognition!

  • Aged Cheddar is an outstanding, limited production, one-year-aged cheddar, noted for its rich, rounded flavor and firm, smooth body (more).
  • Dubliner is a unique cheese, a mixture between Cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano (more).
  • Skellig is a popular cheddar variety in the U.K., a class of European cheddars that focuses on complex flavors, without the intense, sharp bite of traditional aged cheddars. The complex cheese is firm yet creamy, with a distinct nuttiness and sweet apple and butterscotch notes (more).
  •  
    Kerrygold also makes specialty versions of two of these cheeses

  • Kerrygold Dubliner With Irish Stout.
  • Kerrygold Aged Cheddar with Irish Whiskey.
  •  
    Serve one or all of them. Kerrygold also makes a Swiss cheese, if you want to see how Ireland interprets Switzerland.
     
     
    3. CAHILL’S FARM CHEDDAR

    Marion Cahill of Cahill’s Farm is recognized as a pioneer of today’s fine Irish cheese.

    The Cahill family has been farming and cheesemaking for four generations. Originally the milk was sold locally and the cheese was made for the family. Thankfully, that has changed.

    Using a base of tangy Irish cheddar, Marion experimented with flavors, and developed a head-turning range of flavored cheddars (photo #4).

     

    cahill-farm-cheddar-ig-230

    Cashel Blue Cheese Ireland

    [4] Cahill makes cheddar infused with three different spirits: porter, elderberry wine and whiskey (photo courtesy Cahill Farms). [5] Cashel Blue is an Irish blue cheese in a sweeter style, not salty (more).

     
    The curds are variously soaked in elderberry wine, porter and Irish whiskey. While elderberry and porter are visually stunning, all three deserve a place on the cheese board.

    Cahill’s makes other flavored cheeses which can be hard to find in the U.S. But keep an eye out for Ardagh Chalice Wine Cheese, Ballintubber Cheese with Chives, Ballyporeen Cheese with Mixed Irish Herbs and Kilbeggen Irish Whiskey Cheese.
     
     
    4. CASHEL BLUE

    When you think of Irish cheese you don’t think of blue cheese. But Louis and Jane Grubb of Beechmount Farm produces Cashel Blue, a noteworthy blue among all options.

    From the rolling hills of Tipperary, will delight people who don’t like robust blue cheeses. It’s extra creamy and not salty (photo #5).
     
     
    So eat, drink and be merry, as you treat friends and family to a special “Irish cocktail hour” or beer tasting.

    You don’t have to hold it on St. Patrick’s Day. No one would turn down the opportunity, whenever the invite arrives.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Congee, China’s Favorite Breakfast

    Many Asians start their day with a warm bowl of congee.

    If you’re a fan of Cream Of Rice or Cream of Wheat porridges, you’re a lock to enjoy the rice-based Chinese version.

    This traditional Chinese dish has evolved from gruel to porridge* to a porridge mixed with bits of protein (chicken, pork, shrimp) and vegetables (green onion, peas) to a spread of “DIY congee,” where the table is laden with dishes of condiments to tailor the dish to one’s taste.

    Congee can be as simple as a plain bowl of porridge, or as complex as the condiments and toppings allow. More luxurious versions cook the grain in chicken broth rather than water.

    It is easy to digest and very simple to cook.

    Plan to make it for breakfast or brunch, lunch or late dinner; serve as a DIY spread for a special meal (see the garnish options below); and reheat any leftovers on subsequent days.

    THE HISTORY OF CONGEE

    Congee (CON-gee with a soft “g”) is an ancient dish, made in China for thousands of years from uncooked rice and boiling water.

    The Book of Zhou (published 636 C.E.) says that the mythical Emperor Huang Di (2698–2598 B.C.E., mythical dates) was first to cook congee made from millet—or, we guess, his cooks did it, since we can’t imagine an emperor standing over a stove. This is considered the earliest reference to congee. [source]

    Tobie Meyer-Fong, associate professor at Johns Hopkins University who researches late imperial China and Chinese cuisine, has found references that date congee to the Han dynasty, circa 206 B.C.E. to 220 C.E. Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, author of Chinese cookbooks, maintains that congee dates to approximately 1,000 B.C.E., during the Zhou dynasty. [source]

    Today it is eaten throughout Asia (known by different names), in Burma, China, Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Tibetan, Vietnam and elsewhere.

    The name in Chinese, which means the watery one, derives from the Tamil language of India, where kanji refers to the water in which rice has been boiled.

    It can be part of a meal, but is most often served as the main dish of the meal (and often, the only dish).

    Congee can be made in a pot or in a rice cooker. Some rice cookers even have a congee setting, for households who want to cook the rice overnight.

    RECIPE: SIMPLE CONGEE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 5-½ cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked jasmine or long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into 4 slices
  • 3 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken (e.g., from a purchased rotisserie)
  • Optional garnishes: chopped green onions, chopped fresh cilantro leaves, julienne-cut peeled fresh ginger, soy sauce
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the water, broth, rice, salt and ginger in a large pot set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    2. REDUCE the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 40 minutes longer, until the porridge has a creamy consistency, stirring occasionally.

    3. REMOVE from heat the and keep warm. Discard the ginger pieces. Stir the chicken into the soup. Serve garnished with the green onions, cilantro, julienne-cut ginger and soy sauce, or let people garnish their own.

    You can serve congee family-style, from a casserole-type dish, or bring individual bowls to the table.
     
    CONGEE GARNISHES: CREATE YOUR OWN CONGEE MASTERPIECE

    For a party, offer as many as you like. At home, serve half a dozen options (including the soy sauce); but keep rotating them each time you serve congee, so it’s never the same dish.

    Traditional

  • Black sesame seeds
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Chili oil, sesame oil
  • Dried shrimp, cuttlefish, fish, scallops
  • Fried garlic
  • Julienned or shredded ginger root
  • Preserved eggs, quail eggs
  • Sautéed bok choy or other greens (Chinese broccoli, napa cabbage)
  • Sliced scallions
  • Soy sauce
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • Youtiao (Chinese crullers)
  •  
    Non-Traditional Garnishes

  • Asian chilli sauce
  • Bean sprouts or other sprouts
  • Black pepper
  • Caramelized onions
  • Chinese sausage or chicken sausage
  • Chopped prunes or dates
  • Cooked shrimp, cuttlefish/squid, fish, scallops
  • Cracklings
  • Crispy shallots
  • Green peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, edamame
  • Grilled or fried shishito peppers, fresh sliced jalapeño
  • Kimchi, Japanese pickled vegetables, sliced radishes
  • Parsley, shredded basil or shiso
  • Peanuts or cashews, raw or salted
  • Sautéed greens (chard, collards, mustard, spinach)
  • Seasonal: asparagus, corn, fiddlehead ferns, ramps, scapes
  •  

    Simple Congee

    Congee With Pork & Scallions

    Ginger Chicken Congee

    Seafood Congee

    Congee With Boiled Egg

    [1] Simple congee looks just like Cream Of Rice, except it’s served savory, not with milk and sugar! Here’s the recipe from The Spruce. [2] Congee With Pork & Scallions (here’s the recipe from The Woks Of Life. [3] This Ginger Chicken Congee is made with brown rice. Here’s the recipe from Honest Cooking. [4] Seafood Congee. Here’s the recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook. [5] A soft-boiled egg, crispy shallots and cilantro top this congee. Here’s the recipe from Sprinkles And Sprouts.

  • Proteins, diced or shredded: chicken, lamb, ham, pork, pork belly/lardons, rare sliced beef, tofu
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Soft-boiled egg
  •  
    Plus

  • Try it with other grains, such as brown rice, Cream Of Wheat, grits or cracked grains (bulgur, couscous, polenta. Or, do as Emperor Huang Di, and try millet.
  • Be creative and enjoy!
  • ________________

    *Gruel is a cereal—based food—typically made from oats, rice, rye or wheat—boiled in milk or water. It is a thinner version of porridge. Some gruels are so thin that they are drunk rather than eaten. It is a food that is eaten every day, easy to digest, and thus also used during an illness. It is usually the first non-milk food given to infants, a food for the elderly and those with dental or stomach problems, and above all, comfort food. Some people call congee a soup.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: DIY Jambalaya Bar

    For Mardi Gras—February 28—try a new take on food bars (a.k.a. buffets): DIY Jambalaya.

    Jambalaya is a delicious, spicy, main course consisting of rice and practically everything else in the refrigerator! It’s a great way to use favorite meats and veggies (shrimp, peas, carrots, bell peppers). You can start from scratch; for a family night, using leftovers is more than acceptable.

    Jambalaya is also an economical and easy way to feed a large group—Super Bowl Sunday, Oscar parties, even outdoor fêtes.

    But, as a creation of New Orleans, we like it best for Mardi gras.

    JAMBALAYA HISTORY

    Jambalaya originated in Louisiana. Creole jambalaya, called red jambalaya by the Cajuns to differentiate it from their take—sprang from the French Quarter of New Orleans, the sector originally inhabited by Europeans.

    Jambalaya was an adaptation of paella by the Spaniards, most of whom could not afford saffron (an essential paella ingredient) due to high import costs. Tomatoes were substituted to color and flavor the dish.

    French Creoles introduced jambalaya to the Cajuns of southern Louisiana, who rarely used tomatoes (it’s swamp country). Instead, they browned the meat for color and smoky flavor and referred to their recipe as brown jambalaya.

    The word “jambalaya” is a combination of the Spanish jamón or the French jambon, meaning ham, and another word; however, what word that is can be controversial.

  • You may read that the word is “aya, African for rice.” But there are no rice varietals in Africa with names like “yaya,” “aya,” or “ya.” “Ya” in Mambila (the language of Cameroon and Nigeria), and “y?” or “yala” (among the Grusi and Lyela peoples of Burkina Faso) refer to another grain, sorghum.
  • A better explanation may be the combination of jamón/jambon and paella: It doesn’t take too close a look to notice that jambalaya is an adaptation of paella, using white rice instead of saffron rice. Jam-paella or jamb-paella = jambalaya.
  •  
    While there are different recipes for each dish, both paella and jambalaya incorporate chicken, ham, sausage and seafood.

    Since jambalaya could be made economically in big black cast iron pots for crowds*, it became popular for large events, including church suppers, weddings and political rallies.

    The recipe evolved to seafood-only versions, meat-only versions, and vegetarian/vegan recipes. One of the benefits of a jambalaya bar is that each person can customize the dish as he/she wishes.

    The easiest way to make the rice is to use Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. Alternatively, use plain white rice with cajun seasoning from McCormick, or other brands.

    Thanks to Olivia Manning and Zatarain’s for the suggestion!

    RECIPE: JAMBALAYA BAR

    This recipe makes five dinner-size portions. Multiply it for a larger crowd. Don’t worry about leftovers: leftover Jambalaya is delicious (even cold!).

    Ingredients For 5 Servings

    Cooked Proteins (Total 1.5 Cups)

  • Andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced
  • Ham, cubed
  • Chicken, cubed or sliced
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined shrimp
  • For an all-shellfish jambalaya: scallops, mussels, oysters, shrimp
  •  
    Vegetables

  • Green bell peppers, cubed or sliced, cooked
  • Heat: hot sauce, red chile flakes, sliced jalapeños
  • Onions: sliced cooked onions, raw green onions (scallions)
  • Red bell peppers, cubed or sliced, cooked
  •  
    Rice

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 package Zatrain’s Jambalaya Mix, Original
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX the water and rice mix in a large saucepan until well blended. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender

    2. REMOVE from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving and place on a platter or individual serving plates. Bring to the table with the add-ins.

       

    Jambalaya

    Jambalaya Bar

    Zatarain's Jambalaya Mix

    Cajun Seasoning

    King Cake

    [1] A pot of Jambalaya, served at the table (here’s the recipe from Gimme Some Oven). [2] Deconstruct the ingredients for a Jambalaya Bar (photo courtesy Olivia Manning | Zatarain’s). [3] Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. [4] You can use Cajun seasoning to flavor plain white rice (photo courtesy McCormick). [5] Yes, please! It’s easy to make a King Cake with the mix kit from King Arthur Flour.

    ________________

    *One of the charms of paella is the crispy rice crust that develops at the bottom of the pan, called soccorat. You can’t get soccorat from cooking in a large kettle. Paella is cooked in a wide, shallow pan with a layer of rice on the bottom. At the end of cooking, the heat is turned up to create the crust. Socorrat derives from the Spanish verb socarrar, to singe.

     

    Sazerac Cocktail

    Sazerac de Forge 1811 Cognac

    [6] The Sazerac Cocktail, a New Orleans specialty (photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse). [7] A bottle of the original Sazerac cognac, currently for sale for €12,500 at Old Liquors.

     

    WHAT TO DRINK? A SAZERAC!

    Beer and Jambalaya are natural companions, but you might like to start the event with a round of one of New Orlean’s signature cocktails, the Sazerac.

    Developed in the 1830s, the Sazerac is a New Orleans variation of a cognac or whiskey cocktail, named for the Sazerac de Forge et Fils house of cognac with which it was originally made, plus rye.

    As the story goes, the cocktail was first mixed at Antoine Amédée Peychaud’s apothecary on Royal Street. With his own bitters—still called for in the recipe— Peychaud’s bitters, served friends a cognac cocktail made with his own bitters (you can make your own too—here’s more about bitters). It was then popularized at Sazerac Coffee House, a saloon on Exchange Place in the French Quarter.

    The primary ingredient in the cocktail was switched from cognac to rye in 1870 and an absinthe rinse added, due to changing tastes; the recipe remains so today, but you can go back to the original—or make both recipes to see which you prefer.

    It is one of many descendants of the Old Fashione. The absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters make it unique to New Orleans.

    Bartenders of today use rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar:water ratio instead of 1:1) instead of the sugar cube.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/4 ounce absinthe (herbsaint)
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1-1/2 ounce rye or cognac
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters (you can substitute Angostura—both are made from gentian)
  • Garnish: lemon peel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. RINSE a chilled old-fashioned (rocks) glass with the absinthe, add crushed ice and set it aside.

    2. STIR the remaining ingredients in a shaker over ice and set it aside.

    3. DISCARD the ice and any excess absinthe from the prepared glass, and strain the drink into the glass. Garnish and serve. Optionally, you can serve the drink straight up.

     
    MORE MARDI GRAS RECIPES

    Cocktails

  • Purple, Gold & Green Cocktails—the colors of Mardi Gras
  •  
    Mains

  • Easy Gumbo Recipe
  • Gumbalaya—a cross between gumbo and jambalaya
  • Shrimp & Grits
  •  
    Desserts

  • Beignets
  • King Cake Mix
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Chocolate & Tea

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea With White Chocolate

    [1] Simple: a bite of chocolate, a sip of tea (photo courtesy Republic Of Tea). [2] Fancier (photo courtesy Marcolini Chocolate). [3] Elegant presentation from [3] Republic Of Tea and [4] Woodhouse Chocolate. [5] White chocolate pairs with black, green and herbal teas (photo courtesy Lindt).

     

    If you’re a tea lover, here’s an idea for just the two of you, or for a larger party of friends: Pair chocolate with tea.

    Tea and chocolate are excellent pairing companions. There is so much variety of flavor in each, it seems that there are endless possibilities.

    If you have an educated chocolate palate, go further in your exploration. As you would with wine pairings, see what works with what.

    We’ve provided some guidelines, but before you start, the rules are:

  • You need quality tea and quality chocolate.
  • Remember that as with wine, tea is adaptable to unconventional pairings. The fun (and learning experience) of a tasting party is that you get to try them all, and see which you personally prefer.
  • There are obvious pairings—citrussy tea with citrussy chocolate, for example; and opposite pairings. Otherwise stated: enhance or contrast.
  • In other words, there is no right or wrong: just what you like.
  • Try the teas black, before adding milk (as desired) and sugar (only if you deem it essential).
  • You don’t have to taste everything in one day. For example, we focused on event only on white chocolate pairings.
  •  
    TEA WITH DARK CHOCOLATE

    Dark chocolate also calls for a hearty black tea. The aforementioned Assam, English Breakfast and Masala Chai work here.

    But for adventure, try:

  • Green tea: Try a nuttier green, such as Dragon Well or Gen Mai Cha.
  • Lapsang Souchong, Russian Caravan: heavily smoky teas work well with bittersweet chocolates.
  • Pu-erh‡.
  • Hojicha: If the chocolate has “red fruit” notes. Single origin bars from Cuyagua, Ocumare, Rio Caribe, São Tomé, Sur del Lago.
  • Jasmine-scented Pouchong or lightly-oxidized Oolong. These have floral that pair with a single-origin chocolate that has natural floral notes, such as Valrhona Guanaja.
  •  
    Here’s more information on single origin chocolate flavors.
     
    TEA WITH MILK CHOCOLATE

    Milk chocolate should be paired with a hearty black tea that takes milk.

  • Assam, from the highlands of India has malty characteristics, is ideal (and is one of our favorite teas). As an alternative, English Breakfast is a blend which has a base of Assam*.
  • Masala chai is Assam with spices. Each home or manufacturer has a favorite mix, which can include allspice, black peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, fennel seeds, ginger, nutmeg and star anise. Here’s how to make masala chai with spices from your kitchen.
  • Darjeeling* is lighter, but an interesting contrast to the stronger black teas. With a floral aroma. The flavour can include a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics and a musky spiciness sometimes described as “muscatel.”
  • Earl Grey with milk pairs well with creamy milk chocolate.
  • Houjicha green tea, Wu Yi Oolong tea or other “toasty” teas with sweet milk chocolate.
  •  
    TEA WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE

    White chocolate is milky, often with caramel notes. These teas both compare and contrast:

  • Assam or Earl Grey black tea.
  • Gen Mai Cha (genmaicha): green tea with toasted rice (also the perfect pairing for a bar with crisped rice [like an artisan Nestlé’s Crunch]).
  • Herbal teas: rooibos, peppermint and numerous others. This is a pairing where you can find favorite flavors, from anise to lavender.
  • Jasmine black or green tea.
  • Masala Chai.
  • Matcha, Dragon Well or Sencha green teas.
  • Oolong semi-oxidized† tea.
  •  
    WITH FILLED & FLAVORED CHOCOLATES OR SINGLE-ORIGIN CHOCOLATE BARS

    Bonbons and chocolate bars and bark can be flavored with particular seasonings; but single origin chocolate bars carry the flavors of their particular origins.

    When we say an chocolate bar has, say, a profile of “red fruits,” it doesn’t mean that raspberries have been added to it. Rather, the beans produced in that particular area. Here’s more about single origin chocolate flavors.

    But whether the red fruits—or citrus, or coffee, or other flavor—is inherent to the bean or an added flavor, the pairing strategy is the same.

  • Any fruit-filled chocolate or fruity bar: Earl Grey, Jasmine black or green, floral Oolongs like Ti Kuan Yin Oolong.
  • Berries: Raspberry, strawberry or other berries pair nicely with Hojicha.
  • Caramel: Assam or Ceylon black tea, Houjicha green tea, Wu Yi Oolong teas or “toasty” tea.
  • Cherry: Try Darjeeling with chocolate-covered cherries.
  • Chile/Aztec: Lapsang Souchong, Pu-Erh or other strong black tea; Masala Chai.
  • Citrus: Bai Hao Oolong, Ceylon, Earl Grey (which is scented with Bergamot orange oil).
  • Floral: Jasmine, Pu-Erh.
  • Nuts: Pai Mu Tan (White Peony Tea), Dragon Well green tea or others with nutty notes.
  • Sea Salt: Assam.
  •  
    SUPPORTING INFORMATION

  • Tea
  • Chocolate Flavors Chart
  • Single Origin Chocolate Flavors
  • ________________

    *For food geeks: Most of the tea grown is the original Chinese tea plant, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, known for thousands of years. The only other known variety, the larger-leaf Assam plant (C. sinensis var. assamica), was observed by a Scottish explorer. It was sent to Calcutta There, for classification and the plant was finally identified as a variety of Camellia sinensis, but different from the Chinese plant. While most of the tea grown in the world is Camellia sinensis, Assam is the largest tea-growing region in the world. The region is extremely hot and humid, which contributes to Assam’s unique malty taste. Darjeeling, also an Indian-grown tea, grows in the highlands, and is the original Camellia sinensis varietal.

    †Oolong is semi-fermented or semi-oxidized (semi-green) tea that falls between green and black tea on the fermentation continuum (black tea ferments for two to four hours; for oolong, the fermentation process is interrupted in the middle).

    ‡Pu-erh is a special category of tea from Yunnan province of China. The tea is fermented and aged so that the flavors and aromas are very earthy. Pu-erh teas are available in black, brick green, oolong, and white. Here’s more about it.
     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Pink Party

    For Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, baby girl showers, bridal showers, or any other occasion demanding that you ”think pink”: All the food and drink are in shades of pink, with some touches of deeper rose and red.

    There’s also a National Pink Day on June 23rd.

    If you want to hold your own party, menu options are below. It can be a cocktail party—pink cocktails, pink nibbles—or an entire dinner or buffet.

    You can make anything more pink with beet juice, red food color or rosy accents like pomegranate arils, raspberries and strawberries. You can make sauces and soups pinker with a touch of crème fraîche, mascarpone, sour cream, or plain yogurt.

    You can keep it all pink and rose, or add bright red and burgundy accents.

    You are encouraged guests to wear something pink to the party (pink nail polish counts).

    PINK PARTY MENU

    PINK & RED COCKTAILS

  • Champagne cocktail with pink sparkling wine
  • Classic pink cocktails like Pink Lady and Pink Squirrel
  • Cosmopolitans
  • Pink Champagne and strawberry punch
  • Pink Jell-O Shots (recipes)
  •  
    PINK & RED WINES

  • Pink sparkling wine (Yellowtail and Martini are great values)
  • Red Wine
  • Rosé
  •  
    There are scores and scores of pink cocktails—just search online.
     

    RED & PINK APPETIZERS

  • Bruschetta with strawberry-basil or tomato topping
  • Crab cocktail
  • Crudités: red bell peppers, radishes, cherry tomatoes, red Belgian endive, etc., with spicy pink dip (recipe below); you can include some celery, fennel or other pale vegetables for variety
  • Goat cheese log rolled in pink peppercorns
  • Hot dogs in jelly-mustard dip
  • Pink deviled eggs (soak peeled whole eggs in beet juice or food color)
  • Poached shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • Red pepper dip
  • Salume platter
  • Shrimp spread with crackers
  • Shrimp tea sandwiches
  • Smoked salmon or gravlax platter
  • Smoked salmon pinwheels or tea sandwiches
  • Smoked salmon rillettes
  • Strawberry bruschetta (recipe)
  • Taramasalata (Greek caviar dip) with crackers or party breads
  • Tuna sushi and spicy tuna rolls
  • Cranberry or pomegranate juice spritzers (with white wine) or mocktails
  • Pomegranate Martini
  • Rosé Champagne
  • Vodka and pink lemonade
  •  

    Rose Champagne

    Hibiscus Margarita

    Smoked Salmon Tartine

    Cherry Tomato Burrata Crostini

    [1] Always a hit: rosé champagne or other sparkling rosé wine (photo courtesy Tommy Bahama). [2] Hibiscus Margarita, with a bit of hibiscus syrup for color (you can use regular food color) and a rim of hibiscus salt (photo courtesy Miro Kitchen). [3] Smoked salmon tartine (photo courtesy Ocean Cut Chicago). [4] Cherry tomato-burrata crostini (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    Lobster Bisque

    olive-oil-poached-salmon-pomwonderful-230

    Raspberry Champagne Float

    Buttercream Rose Cake

    [5] Lobster bisque. You can serve soup shooters on a buffet. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com. [6] Think pink with poached salmon (photo courtesy Pom Wonderful). [7] An easy dessert: sorbet, sparkling wine, berries (here’s the recipe from The Cookie Rookie). [8] You can buy this rose-topped cake from Williams-Sonoma.

      FOR A PINK & RED BUFFET OR SIT-DOWN DINNER
     
    PINK & RED SOUPS

  • Borscht (you can turn it from red to pink with sour cream)
  • Cream of tomato soup
  • Lobster or shrimp bisque
  • Red bell pepper purée
  • Red gazpacho
  • Tomato or watermelon gazpacho
  •  
    PROTEINS & OTHER MAINS

  • Pasta in pink sauce
  • Poached salmon
  • Rare beef (we’re poaching a filet mignon)
  • Shrimp & strawberry salad (recipe in footnote* below)
  • Steak tartare or tuna tartare
  •  
    PINK & RED SIDES

  • Beet salad or pickled beets
  • Cherry tomato salad
  • Radicchio and radish salad with pickled red onions
  • ________________

    *Combine 3 cups cooked rice, 1/2 pound cooked, sliced shrimp and 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery in a large bowl. Make dressing with 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup strawberry yogurt, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and salt to taste. Dress the salad and then fold in 1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries. Chill and serve on a bed of greens.
    ________________
     
    PINK & RED DESSERTS

  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Fresh strawberries and raspberries
  • Mignardises: pink cake pops, macarons, marshmallows, mini strawberry cupcakes
  • Pears poached in red wine
  • Pink frosted cake or cake pops
  • Pink ice pops (freeze your own from cherry or pomegranate juice)
  • Raspberry or strawberry mousse
  • Red velvet cake, cupcakes, donuts, ice cream
  • Cherry cheesecake
  • Raspberry or strawberry sorbet float (add rosé champagne to a glass of sorbet)
  • Strawberry ice cream cake
  • Strawberry milkshake shooters
  • Strawberry sorbet
  • Watermelon: granita or fruit salad
  •  
    RECIPE: SPICY PINK SALAD DRESSING OR DIP FOR CRUDITÉS

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups mayonnaise (full fat)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sherry wine (not cooking sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon dried tarragon, finely crushed or 1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce sauce, or to taste
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring or beet juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX mayonnaise, sour cream, sherry, tarragon, garlic powder and hot sauce until well blended.

    2. ADD a few drops of food coloring to desired shade of pink. If the dressing is too thick, you can thin it with a small amount of milk. Chill well before serving.

    Recipe courtesy Food.com.

     
    ________________

    †Mignardises (min-yar-DEEZ, from the French for “precious”) are a type of miniature baked good, also called petit-fours, a group of small sweets beyond what Americans think of as petit-fours (small cubes of layer cake). Mignardises are bite-size or smaller, and are served with coffee and liqueur at the end of the meal. At restaurants they are a lagniappe (lon-YAP), a small gift from the house.

    Mignardises is a category that includes petit-fours. The delicacies can take many forms and shapes: mini cakes and cookies including macarons, as well as non-baked sweets such as glazed or chocolate-dipped fruit, marzipan, chocolates, pâte de fruits and nut clusters.

    Petit-fours is French for “small baked pastries. There are two styles of petit-fours: glacée (iced) and sec (dry). Petit-fours glacées or frais (fresh) include filled and/or iced petit-fours, miniature babas, miniature éclairs, tiny iced cakes and tartlets. Petit-fours secs include small cookies, macaroons, meringues, palmiers and tuiles.

    Friandises (free-yon-DEEZ), from the French for “delicate,” is a term often used instead of petit-fours or mignardises.

    According to The Oxford Companion To Food, these terms are often used interchangeably; and of course, it is not surprising when word meanings evolve over time.

      

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