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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
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Archive for Gourmet News

NEWS: Italian Food Remains #1 With Americans

Nation’s Restaurant News (NRA) reports something that may not even be news: Italian food remains America’s favorite “ethnic” restaurant cuisine. No other cuisine comes close, although Mexican and Chinese round out the “big three.”

Sixty-one percent of the 1,000 people surveyed said they eat Italian food at restaurants at least once a month. By comparison, Mexican cuisine was eaten at least once a month by 50%, and Chinese cuisine by 36%.

We couldn’t find an official survey of the most popular Italian dishes, but one informal survey we found nominated the following as the Top 10 favorite Italian restaurant entrées in the U.S. (excluding pizza, the majority of which is consumed at pizzerias* rather than conventional Italian restaurants):

1. Chicken Parmigiana
2. Fettuccine Alfredo
3. Lasagna
4. Linguine With Clam Sauce
5. Veal Marsala
6. Chicken Saltimbocca
7. Pasta Primavera
8. Shrimp Fra Diavolo
9. Penne Alla Vodka
10. Spaghetti Marinara (with tomato sauce)

 

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Chicken Parmesan, the American spelling
of Parmigiano. Here’s the recipe. Photo
courtesy CookingClassy.com.

 
Our own Top 10 list would be different, but we wouldn’t turn any of these down! And we’d add our own Top 10 Italian Desserts list: cannoli, panna cotta, zabaglione, tiramisu, berries with mascarpone, riccota cheesecake, biscotti, gelato/semifreddo/spumoni/tortoni, sorbetto/granita and bomboloni.

The NRA defines “ethnic” cuisine broadly as any cuisine originating in a different country or within a specific region of the United States. We prefer the term “international cuisine.”

Choose the term you like better and read the full article at NRN.com.

 
*Pizzerias serve other more casual fare as well, including calzones, stromboli and submarine sandwiches.

  

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FOOD FUN: Stovetop Elote

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Elote, Spanish corn on the cob. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

 

Elote is the Mexican version of corn on the cob, a popular street food. It is often grilled, then served on a stick with lime wedge, ancho chili powder and crumbled queso fresco.

Elote is the Aztec (Nahuatl) word for what the corn on the cob. It is pronounced ee-LOW-tee. Removed from the cob, the recipe has a different name, esquites, from the Nahuatl word for toasted corn, ízquitl.

This hack from Good Eggs in San Francisco eliminates the need for a grill. Just use a gas range to turn ears of fresh corn into this Mexican street treat.

Here’s more about elote, including an off-the-cob elote salad.
 
RECIPE: STOVE TOP ELOTE

Ingredients

  • Ears of fresh corn, husked
  • Butter
  • Ancho chili powder (substitute regular chili powder)
  • Crumbled queso fresco (substitute cotija, feta or grated Parmesan)
  • Lime wedges (substitute lemon)
  • Optional: skewers (because corn is heavy, you need thick skewers; you can also use conventional cob holders or these disposable cob holders)
  • Preparation

    1. USE tongs to hold the ears of corn directly over the stove top flame, turning to to blister the kernels.

    2. REMOVE from the heat, slather with butter, roll in crumbled queso fresco and finish with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of ancho chile powder.
     
    ELOTE CONDIMENTS

    In Mexico people serve the classics: ancho chili powder, lime, queso blanco. But in the U.S., some people substitute mayonnaise or sour cream (crema) for the butter.

    Pepper or seasoned salt are also options (lemon pepper is popular in Texas, per Wikipedia). Other options: cilantro, fresh parsley, oregano.

    Or for a true American take, how about crumbled bacon?

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Banana Split Sushi For National Banana Split Day

    How should you celebrate August 25th, National Banana Split Day?

    There’s the tried and true banana split, of course. Classically served in a long dish, called a boat (which gives the sundae its alternative name, banana boat), the recipe is familiar to most ice cream lovers:

    A banana is cut in half lengthwise and set in the dish with scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. The strawberry ice cream is garnished with pineapple topping, chocolate syrup is poured on the vanilla ice cream and strawberry topping covers the chocolate ice cream. Crushed nuts, whipped cream and maraschino cherries garnish the entire boat.

    Today, there are many variations to the classic banana split. We’ve had Deconstructed Banana Splits, Banana Split Cheesecake and the recipe below, Banana Split Sushi from RA Sushi.

    BANANA SPLIT SUSHI

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

     

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    The deconstructed banana split at Sushi Samba in New York City. Photo courtesy Sushi Samba.

  • 2 bananas, ripe but firm
  • 1 tablespoon butter or neutral oil (canola, grapeseed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Peeled kiwi slices
  • Clementine/tangerine segments (or substitute other fruit)
  • Whipped cream
  • Strawberries, washed and halved
  • Sauces: chocolate, strawberry*
  •  
    *You can easily make strawberry purée by processing the berries with a bit of sweetener to taste, and a splash of lemon or lime juice.
     
    Preparation

    1. CUT the bananas into 1-1/2 inch slices. While a restaurant can deep-fry the bananas in tempura batter, you can use a simpler approach: Combine the bananas, fat, honey and cinnamonan in a nonstick pan over medium heat and fry until golden brown (4-5 minutes on each side).

    2. ARRANGE each cooked banana piece on a plate as desired and top with a kiwi slice, which is the base for the remaining toppings. Add the clementine segment, whipped cream and strawberry halves.

    3. DRIZZLE with chocolate sauce and strawberry purée. Serve with chopsticks.

     

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    The classic banana split. Photo courtesy
    The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook.

     

    BANANA SPLIT HISTORY

    The banana split was invented in 1904 by David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He enjoyed inventing sundaes at the store’s soda fountain.

    His first “banana-based triple ice cream sundae” sold for 10 cents, which was double the cost of the other sundaes. News of the new sundae was picked up by the press and spread nationwide. Variations of the recipe appeared in newspapers.

    The enterprising Strickler went on to buy the pharmacy, re-naming it Strickler’s Pharmacy. The city of Latrobe celebrated the 100th anniversary of the invention of the banana split in 2004, and the National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA) certified the city as its birthplace.

    The annual Great American Banana Split Celebration is held throughout the downtown Latrobe in late August, this year on August 29th.

     

    According to Wikipedia, Walgreens is credited with spreading the popularity of the banana split. The chain of drug stores established in the Chicago area by Charles Rudolph Walgreen promoted the banana split as a signature dessert.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: A Waffle Sandwich (Wafflewich) For National Waffle Day

    For special occasions, a waffle sandwich is true food fun. There’s an immediate special occasion: August 24th is National Waffle Day.

    Andrea Correale, CEO of Elegant Affairs Caterers, sent us two yummy sandwich recipes to celebrate the day. Both replace the bread with waffles. The result: a wafflewich!

    Waffle sandwiches require the extra step of making fresh waffles. Frozen waffles don’t taste anywhere as good.

    To assauge any waffle guilt, check out our recommended whole grain pancake and waffle mixes.

    RECIPE: HAM & CHEESE WAFFLEWICH

    When a wafflewich includes cheese, the sandwich is even better if you place it in a panini press to melt a bit.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 2 waffles, freshly made from a waffle mix or your own recipe*
  • 3 slices ham per sandwich (Andrea prefers hickory honey ham)
  •    

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    Enjoy your ham and cheese on a waffle. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.

  • 3 slices cheese per sandwich (Andrea prefers sharp Cheddar; we like Emmental)
  • Mustard
  • Optional: lettuce and tomato
  • Sides: baby carrots or other crudités, coleslaw, pickles†, pickled vegetables, candied jalapeños
  •  
    *For big eaters, you can make a triple decker sandwich (three waffles). If your waffle recipe contains sugar—which is normal for breakfast waffles—cut it back to 1/2 teaspoon or none at all.

    †We added sweet and spicy pickle chips to the sandwich before grilling in the panini press. Check out our article on the best pickles.
     
    Preparation

    1. COOK the waffles in a waffle maker.

    2. PLACE the ham and cheese, lettuce and tomato between two waffles, with the pickle chips if desired (or, serve the pickles on the side). We added Dijon mustard between the ham and cheese layers.

    3. PLACE the waffle sandwich in a panini press and cook until the cheese is gooey. Remove and serve immediately with the sides.

     

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    A twist on the BLT: a BLT Waffle Sandwich. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.

     

    RECIPE: BLT WAFFLEWICH

    You can make this a vegetarian sandwich with Morning Star Bacon Strips or Lightlife Smart Bacon, and/or Baconaise bacon-flavored mayonnaise (one of our favorite mayos). These products get their bacony taste from natural smoke flavor and other seasonings.

    You can also add sliced avocado, chicken or turkey.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 3 slices cooked bacon (Andrea prefers hickory smoked bacon)
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Lettuce (we prefer iceberg or romaine for the crunch)
  • Optional: sliced avocado, chicken or turkey
  • Mayonnaise (we prefer flavored mayonnaise)
  • Optional: long toothpicks (we like these festive cellophane frill toothpicks)
  • Sides: coleslaw or potato salad, chips (corn/tortilla, lentil, vegetable, etc.)
  • Preparation

    1. PILE the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and optional avocado, chicken or turkey on the bottom waffle. If using iceberg lettuce, we find it helpful to slice it in slabs from the head, so the lettuce will lie flat on the sandwich.

    2. SEASON with salt and pepper as desired.

    3. SPREAD the top waffle with mayonnaise. Place the top on the sandwich and anchor with toothpicks as necessary.

    4. SERVE with sides.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Sponge Cake History & Types

    August 23rd is National Sponge Cake Day. It celebrates an airy cake that’s just right for summer, garnished with fresh berries and whipped cream.
     
    THE HISTORY OF SPONGE CAKE

    The modern sponge cake dates to Europe in the early 19th century. Precursors were cookie-sized treats called biscuit bread and sponge fingers (a.k.a. boudoir biscuits, ladyfingers, Savoy biscuits [English] and savoiardi [Italian]); as well as sweet “breads” from Italy, Portugal and Spain.

    These earlier forms date back to the Renaissance (15th century) and were used in numerous desserts including trifles and fools. Early 17th century English cookbook writers note that recipes for fine bread, bisquite du roy [roi] and common biscuits were similar to sponge cake.

    Savoiardi, ladyfingers, originated in the late 15th century at the court of Catherine of Medici, created to mark the occasion of a visit by the King of France to the Duchy of Savoy. The recipe found its way to England in the early 18th century.

    The sponge cake is thought to be one of the first of the non-yeasted cakes; the rise comes from well-beaten eggs. The earliest recipe in English is found in a 1615 book by Gervase Markham*. The term “sponge cake,” describing the sponge-like openness of the crumb, probably came into use during the 17th century. The earliest reference cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is in an 1808 letter written by Jane Austen, who apparently was fond of them. [Source: Food Timeline]
     
    THE MODERN SPONGE CAKE

    The modern American sponge cake is a light-textured cake made of eggs, sugar and flour†; there is no fat or leavening. The rise comes from the beaten egg whites. The French sponge, génoise, is used for thinner cake layers, so the egg whites and yolks are beaten together.

    Sponges can be baked in cake pans, tube pans or sheet pans. They can be used to make layer cakes, tube cakes, roulades (rolled cakes) and cupcakes. They can be variously flavored and filled.

       

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    Top photo: a Victoria Sponge, filled with strawberry jam instead of Queen Victoria’s favorite, raspberry jam, and topped with powdered sugar. Photo courtesy Stylenest. Bottom photo: a simple sponge cake, made American-style in a tube pan. Photo courtesy Chicago Metallic Bakeware. Use a tube pan with feet, since sponge cake (as well as angel cake) must be inverted when removed from the oven.

     

    The basic sponge cake recipe is also used to make ladyfingers and madeleines; slices can be used instead of biscuits to make shortcake.

    *“The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman.”

    †Since sponge cakes are not leavened with yeast, they can be eaten during Passover, made with matzo meal instead of wheat flour.

    TYPES OF SPONGE CAKES

    AMERICAN SPONGE CAKE

    The American Sponge is a high-rising cake, gaining volume from the air whipped into the egg whites and yolks. The dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt are folded in. Then the egg whites and more sugar are beaten until stiff and fold into the yolk mixture. It is often baked in an ungreased tube pan, which maximizes the volume of the cake, and emerges the springiest and spongiest of the sponge cakes.
     
    BRITISH SPONGE CAKES

    The classic British sponge of modern times is the Victoria Sponge Cake (see below).

    GÉNOISE SPONGE CAKES & COOKIES

    The French sponge cake, génoise (jen-WOZ), is named for the Italian port city of Genoa, where an precursor of it, Genoa Cake, originated in the early 19th century.

    Génoise sponge differs from American sponge cakes in that the eggs are beaten whole, rather than beating the the yolks and whites specialty for more rise. In fact, rise is not the goal; flatter cake layers are sought. Sheets of genoise are used to make Swiss rolls and other roulades, such as Buche de Noel. Genoise is also used to make ladyfingers and madeleines.

    Génoise sponge is the basis of many French layer cakes and roulades. Baked in pans or thinner sheets, it can filled with fruit purée, jam or whipped cream. It can be iced and decorated simply, elaborately or not at all.

     

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    Top photo: chocolate genoise roulade (roll) filled with chestnut cream. Photo courtesy Dirty Kitchen Secrets. Bottom photo: thin layers of genoise used to assemble cakes. Photo courtesy La Cigale Doree.

      GENOA CAKE (NOT A GÉNOISE SPONGE)

    By the middle of the 18th century, cake bakers began to use well-beaten eggs instead of yeast as a leavening agent. The cake would be baked in a mold or in layers made by pouring the batter into two hoops, set on parchment paper and a cookie sheet (hoops atop baking sheets were the precursor of the modern cake pan).

    Genoa Cake originated in the port city of Genoa, Italy in the early 19th century. Some ingredients that came into the busy port from the East and Middle East—almonds, candied fruit and peel, citrus zest, currants, raisins, vanilla, cinnamon and other spices—often found their way into Genoa Cake, a light fruitcake that is different from the the airier genoise. Liqueur could be incorporated into the batter.

    Like the French génoise sponge, it could be served plain, filled with jam and/or cream, iced, or simply dusted with powdered sugar.

    There is also Italian génoise, called pan di Spagna (“Spanish bread”) in Italy.
     

    SPONGE ROLL (ROULADE)

    A sponge roll is a thin layer of génoise, no more than an inch deep, baked in a sheet pan. It has the flexibility to be filled with jam and/or cream and and rolled into a Bûche de Noël (Yule Log), Jelly Roll, Swiss Roll† or other type of roulade.
     
    ‡A Swiss roll is also called a cream roll when filled with whipped cream or other cream variation, and is often used as another term for jelly roll.
     
    VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE

    England’s Queen Victoria enjoyed a slice of sponge cake with her afternoon tea, garnished with raspberry jam and whipped heavy cream (called double cream in the U.K.) or vanilla cream (vanilla-flavored whipped cream, called chantilly in French).

     
    Her preferences led to the creation of the Victoria Sponge. Jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge layers; the top of the cake is served plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar. It also came to be known as the Victoria Sandwich, and sometimes the Victorian Cake. (See the photo at the top of the page.)
     
    SPONGE CAKE VARIATIONS

  • Angel Cake or Angel Food Cake, a sponge cake that uses only the egg whites. This produces a white cake instead of a conventional sponge colored yellow by the egg yolks.
  • Castella, a Japanese sponge cake that’s a specialty of Nagasaki. It was introduced there by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century (see Pão de Castela, below), and is typically made in long loaves.
  • Cantonese Steamed Sponge Cake, steamed in a water bath and called Ma Lai Gao in Cantonese. You may find it in the U.S. at restaurants that serve dim sum
  • Chiffon Cake, invented in 1927 in Los Angeles. It is based on the sponge cake recipe plus some added fat. Here’s more about Chiffon Cake.
  • Eve’s Pudding, a Victoria Sponge made with sliced apples that cook at the bottom of the cake pan or baking dish, underneath the cake batter. Think of it as a cousin to Tarte Tatin.
  • Italian Génoise—see Pan di Spagna, below.
  • Ma Lai Gao—See Cantonese Steamed Sponge Cake, above.
  • Malay Steamed Cake, a steamed sponge, based on the Cantonese Steamed Sponge Cake.
  • Pandan Cake or Pandan Chiffon, a fluffy sponge cake of Indonesian and Malaysian origins, flavored with the light green juice of pandan leaves (which has notes of coconut, citrus and grass). It sometimes made a deeper green with food color.
  • Pan di Spagna, also called Italian Génoise or Torta Genovese. An Italian recipe that evolved in Sicily during the Spanish rule (1559–1714), it is flavored with vanilla and/or citrus zest. It is the cake base for Sicilian Cassata, Tiramisu, Zuccoto and Zuppa Inglese. [Source]
  • Pão de Castela, “bread from Castil,” is a Portuguese variation of Pan di Spagna.
  • Pão de Ló is an unsweetened bread sponge “cake,” created by a Genovese cook, Glovan Battista Cabona, in the mid-1700s‡‡. It was cooked in a water bath, which was more reliable than early ovens.
  • Passover Sponge Cake or Plava, is made with Kosher for Passover ingredients, with matzo meal, matzo flour or potato flour, replacing the wheat flour. It is sometimes flavored with almonds or pecans, apples or apple juice, dark chocolate, lemon, orange juice, or poppy seeds.
  • Tres Leches Cake, a sponge soaked in evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and whole milk. The recipe originated in Latin America.
  •  
    ‡‡According to About.com, the cook’s name was Giobatta Cabona, and was in the service of Marchese Domenico Pallavicini, Genova’s (Genoa in English) Ambassador to Spain in the mid-1700s. The Marchese asked for a new cake for a banquet, and Cabona created a light and airy confection he called Pâte Génoise, or Pasta Genovese in Italian. A slightly simplified version was called Pan di Spagna, to honor the Spanish Court.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Serve Food In A Rocks Glass

    One way to make food more interesting is to serve it in (or on) an unusual vessel. Chefs at better restaurants are always looking for more interesting presentations, serving food on everything from bricks of Himalayan Pink Salt to slate tiles and cutting boards.

    Consumer magazines contribute their own ideas, styling food in hollowed-out oranges or butternut squash shells, mini flower pots and re-purposed oyster shells.

    For today, consider something much simpler: your tumblers or rocks glasses. In addition to a fun factor, they’re also good for controlling portion sizes of macaroni and cheese and other fattening food, and to constrain runny foods from running into neighbors on the plate.
     
    A rocks glass, also called an Old Fashioned glass, is a form of tumbler. With a capacity of nine to twelve ounces, it is used for a simple cocktail or plain spirit served over ice cubes—i.e., “on the rocks.”

       

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    Tartare in a tumbler. Photo courtesy Bo’s Kitchen and Bar Room | NYC.

     
    While you don’t have a cocktail with every meal, you do serve food that can be presented in those idle rocks glasses. Some ideas:
     
    Breakfast In A Rocks Glass

  • Cereal, cold or hot
  • Fruit salad
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Yogurt or cottage cheese
  •  
    Lunch & Dinner In A Rocks Glass

  • Beans and legumes
  • Ceviche
  • Condiments (e.g. pickles and olives)
  • Garnishes (e.g. croutons, grated cheese, gremolata, salsa)
  • Layered parfaits (e.g., guacamole, salsa, sour cream)
  • Pasta
  • Rice or other grains
  • Salad or slaw
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Sides, from thick (like mashed potatoes) to runny (like sauerkraut)
  • Soup (no spoon required!)
  • Steak, salmon or tuna tartare
  •  

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    Serve a side salad in a tumbler. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Catering.

     

    Desserts In A Rocks Glass

  • Berries
  • Compote
  • Dirt cake
  • Fruit soup
  • Garnishes (e.g. chocolate chips, shredded coconut)
  • Ice cream or sorbet
  • Mini meringues or other small cookies
  • Parfaits
  • Pudding or mousse
  •  
    Snacks In A Rocks Glass

  • Candies (we love a glass of gummies)
  • Cheese spread or cubes
  • Chips or pretzels with dip
  • Cookies
  • Crackers or Goldfish
  • Crudités with hummus or other dip
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Trail mix
  •  
    Our list is far from exhaustive. So the next time you open the cabinet door to select plates or bowls for serving food, think: Would this food be more fun in a rocks glass?

    If you don’t have enough tumblers, use wine goblets or Champagne coupes, also called sherbet Champagne glasses.

    The latter are so-called because, contrary to Marie Antoinette’s preferences, we now know that they shouldn’t be used for sparkling wines (the bubbles dissipate too quickly). But they work just great for sorbet, ice cream, pudding and mousse.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Fried Eggs On Rice

    Who needs toast? Serve this brunch idea from Gardenia restaurant in New York City.

    A fried or poached egg is served atop a bed of rice with roasted vegetables. It’s a yummy way to use up leftovers.

  • Use brown rice or other whole grain for more nutrition.
  • You can also use polenta or mashed potatoes for the bed.
  • If you don’t have any roasted vegetables—Gardenia used a mélange of beets, butternut squash, carrots and onions—do a quick microwave cook to soften, then sauté, what you do have.
  • A garnish of microgreens finishes the dish at Gardenia, but you can use chives, basil…or perhaps a crumbled bacon garnish?
  •  

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    A new way to enjoy fried eggs! Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Pool Party Punch

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    Match your cocktail to the pool (the miniature
    beach balls
    are plastic, made for doll houses).
    Photo courtesy Pinnacle Vodka.

     

    For your next pool party, make this Pool Party Punch, an tasty and fun idea from Pinnacle Vodka.

    Pinnacle made it with their Original Vodka; you can make it your own with a flavored vodka. If you prefer, you can substitute gin or tequila.
     
    RECIPE: POOL PARTY PUNCH

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part vodka
  • 2 parts lemonade
  • Splash of Blue Curaçao (we used DeKuyper)
  • Garnish: fruit of choice (we used blueberries on cocktail picks)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX ingredients and serve over ice. It’s that simple! Here’s a video with the full punch bowl recipe.

    MOCKTAIL VERSION

    Make a mocktail by exchanging the vodka for 7 UP, Sprite or white cranberry juice. Use blue food coloring instead of Blue Curaçao.

    And for garnish, perhaps a red Swedish Fish?

    Here’s the mocktail recipe.

     

    WHAT IS BLUE CURAÇAO

    Curaçao is an orange liqueur made from the dried peels of the laraha (LA-ra-ha) citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles (southeast of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean).

    The laraha is a de-evolved descendant of the Valencia orange, which was brought over from Spain in 1527. It did not thrive in the Southern Caribbean climate. The oranges that the trees produced were small, fibrous, bitter and inedible. The trees were abandoned, and the citrus fruit they produced evolved from a bright orange color into the green laraha.

    When life gives you bitter fruit, distill it! It turned out that while the flesh of the laraha was inedible, the dried peel remained as aromatic and pleasing as its cultivated forebear. Experimentation led to the distillation of Curaçao liqueur from the peel.

    The distilled liqueur is clear. Some brands are colored blue or bright orange to create color in cocktails. The color adds no flavor.

     

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    Blue Curaçao. The clear orange liqueur is colored blue. It is also made in an orange-colored version.

     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ORANGE LIQUEUR

    Here’s how the different types of orange liqueur differ, including Curaçao and triple sec, which are generic terms, plus brands like Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Gran Gala.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fresh Lemonade

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    It’s easy add a hit of extra flavor to lemon-
    ade, from lavender to jalapeño. Photo
    courtesy The Great Pepper Cookbook by
    Melissa’s Produce.

     

    August 20th is National Lemonade Day. If the only lemonade you drink comes from a bottle, you’ve never experienced real lemonade.

    Bottled drinks are not only pasteurized, but typically use reconstituted lemon juice. If you’ve ever tasted bottled lemon juice, you know that the flavor is simply not bright and lemony like fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

    Lemonade “made from concentrate” and sold in cartons like orange juice is the far better choice (as are cans of frozen lemonade concentrate).

    But the best choice of all is to squeeze fresh lemons. It takes just five minutes to make a single glass, and you can adjust the sweetening to your own taste.

    Leave a pitcher of lemonade unsweetened to accommodate every family member or guest. For a party, set up a bar where guests can add their own sweeteners—agave*, honey, noncaloric, superfine sugar or simple syrup. You can buy or easily make the latter two, which, unlike granulated sugar, dissolve easily in cold drinks.

    For adults bottles of gin, tequila or vodka expand the options.

     

    You can also use this recipe to make fresh limeade. We have more lemonade (or limeade) tips below.

    LEMONADE RECIPE

    You don’t want ice cubes to dilute your lemonade. Ideally, freeze lemonade or a complementary fruit juice (we especially like blueberry and watermelon) in ice cube trays so regular ice cubes won’t dilute the flavor. And keep the lemonade as chilled as possible to use fewer cubes.

    Ingredients For 15 Glasses

  • 1.5 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (6 large lemons)
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 cup of table sugar or equivalent sweetener
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: berries, cherries, lemon wheel, mint leaves, sprig of herbs, watermelon cubes
  • Optional: straws
  •  
    Ingredients For 1 Glass Of Lemonade

  • 2 tablespoons sugar or equivalent sweetener
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • Ice
  •  
    *Agave tends to be twice as sweet as the equivalent amount of other sweeteners, so use half as much.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the optional lemonade ice cubes a half day in advance or the night before. For the ice cubes, we save time by reconstituting frozen lemonade concentrate instead of making lemonade from scratch. When ready to make the lemonade…

    2. ROLL room temperature lemons on the counter top before squeezing. This maximizes the juice output.

    3. PREPARE the superfine sugar if you’re using granulated sugar. If you don’t have a box of superfine sugar, simply pulse regular table sugar to a superfine consistency in a food processor. The time you spend to do this is more than offset by the time it will take to get table sugar to dissolve. Another technique for dissolving table sugar is to boil the water several hours in advance, stir in the sugar to dissolve, and chill.

    4. COMBINE the water, lemon juice and three-quarters of the sweetener in a pitcher; mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust the sweetness bit by bit. Your goal is to keep the fresh lemon flavor first and foremost, and not make sugar the first thing you taste. It’s better to under-sweeten than over-sweeten: People can always add more sweetener to suit their individual tastes.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/lavender lemonade 230

    It’s easy to add a nuance of flavor to lemonade. Our favorites are ginger, lavender and lemongrass. Photo © Edith Frincu | Dreamstime.

     

    5. ADD ice to the glasses, fill with lemonade and garnish. Ideally, chill the lemonade prior to serving so it will be cold and require less ice.

    6. ADD the garnish: Slice extra lemons or contrasting limes into wheels, and cut notches so they sit on rim of glasses. You can also notch watermelon cubes or strawberries, place blueberries or raspberries on a cocktail pick, add a sprig of lavender or rosemary, etc.
     
    TO MAKE ONE GLASS AT A TIME

    1. COMBINE the sugar and hot water in a 16-ounce glass (we use a Pilsner glass) and stir until the sugar dissolves.

    2. ADD the the lemon juice and cold water. Fill the glass to the top with ice and serve.
     

    LEMONADE RECIPE TIPS

  • For a zero-calorie drink, use non-caloric sweetener.
  • For a low-glycemic drink, use agave nectar.
  • Varying the garnishes makes the recipe “new” each time.
  • A shot of gin, tequila or vodka turns lemonade into a splendid cocktail. Use citrus-flavored versions if you have them.
  • Infuse a second flavor by adding it to the pitcher of lemonade or infusing it in the simple syrup: fruit juice (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry), lychees, sliced chiles or ginger, organic lavender, etc.
  • If you don’t want to squeeze lemons every time you feel like lemonade, you can do a “bulk squeeze” and freeze the lemon juice in ice cube trays. Or, do what our busy mom did and use frozen lemonade concentrate.
  •   

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    FOOD FUN: Ice Cream Topped With An Itty Bitty

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/izzy scoop raspbery maple blueberry 230

    The Izzy Scoop, topped with an Itty Bitty. Photo courtesy Izzy’s Ice Cream.

     

    Move over, sprinkles: There’s a better ice cream topping in town—at least, if your town is Minneapolis or St. Paul.

    There, Izzy’s Ice Cream, an artisan scoop shop, has a repertoire of 150 flavors. And the good news is, you can try two at a time without filling up.

    That’s because Izzy’s pioneered The Izzy Scoop with the Itty Bitty, a mini, 3/4-ounce scoop on top of the regular scoop. It was conceived 12 years ago as a way to enable customers to enjoy a second flavor, perhaps exploring a new flavor, while providing a little something extra.

    While the concept is trademarked, you can use it at home without licensing the idea. The company explains, “Izzy’s Ice Cream would love to see the Izzy Scoop take off and become an option for ice cream lovers all over, as long as credit is given to Izzy’s.”

     

    Be the first in your crowd to offer an Itty Bitty on your ice cream cone or dish of ice cream. All you need are a regular ice cream scoop and a cookie scoop.

    You can also create a multiple of Itty Bittys with this tiny scoop, which creates even ittier Itty Bittys, just half a tablespoon’s worth.

     
      

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