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FOOD FUN: Watermelon Iced Tea

Watermelon Iced Tea
[1] Basic watermelon iced tea, recipe below (photo courtesy Republic Of Tea).

Watermelon Iced Tea
[2] Watermelon-pomegranate green iced tea. Here’s the recipe from Watermelon.org.

Watermelon Iced Tea

[3] Fresh herbs and watermelon are a delightful pair. Here’s a recipe for Watermelon Basil Iced Tea from The Candid Appetite.

 

It’s a magical August day here: lower-than-average temperature, low humidity. It’s the rare type of August day when we—a member of the We Hate The Heat Club—are happy to be outdoors. We’ve made some watermelon iced tea to bring with us

To make your own batch, here are tips and a recipe.

  • Experiment with different teas: black, black flavored, green, rooibos (the different types of tea).
  • Consider leaving the sweetener out of the brewed tea, so it can be enjoyed without any, or customized by each person with a choice of sweeteners (agave, honey, noncaloric or table sugar, e.g.).
  • Consider making watermelon ice cubes, by puréeing seedless watermelon and freezing the purée in ice cube trays.
  • Alternatively, make tea ice cubes. Make extra tea and freeze it in ice cube trays. It prevents the tea from being diluted regular ice.
  • Consider muddling the watermelon for more watermelon flavor. We prefer the taste, although it produces a cloudy drink.
  •  
     
    ADDING HERBS TO ICED TEA

    If you have fresh herbs, by all means use them.

  • You can infuse them in the boiling water, or use them as a garnish.
  • Basil and mint are the most familiar pairings, but chervil, lemon thyme, marjoram, mint, sage, sweet cicely and tarragon are also delicious.
  • You can also experiment with spices, infused into the boiling water: black or pink peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, garam masala, etc.
  •  
     
    RECIPE #1: BASIC WATERMELON ICED TEA

    This recipe is from the Republic Of Tea, which originally created it as a decaf drink for kids, using a fruit-flavored decaf tea (they sell decaffeinated flavors such as Blackberry Sage, Ginger Peach, Hibiscus, Mango Ceylon, Mint and Vanilla Almond).

    Ingredients For 4 Six-Ounce Servings

  • 1 small watermelon, cut into 1″ cubes, or use a cookie cutter to slice watermelon into shapes
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tea bags of choice
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon agave nectar or sweetener(s) of choice
  • Optional spirits: cherry schnapps or liqueur (the difference), white spirits (gin, tequila, vodka)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the watermelon cubes on a piece of wax paper and freeze.

    2. BOIL 3 cups of water and pour over tea bags into an infuser in a heat-resistant pitcher. Allow to infuse for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir in agave nectar. Let the tea cool to room temperature and chill.

    3. SERVE the tea with frozen watermelon cubes or frozen tea ice cues, and serve
     
     
    MORE ICED TEA

    Have An Iced Tea Party

    The History Of Iced Tea

    How To Brew Perfect Iced Tea

    How To Dissolve Sugar In Cold Drinks

     
    IS IT ICED TEA OR ICE TEA?

    Properly, the drink is iced tea: tea that has been chilled with ice. It is spelled this way in primers on editing and by the line editors* of quality publications.

    But, as more and more Americans care less and less about the rules of English, ice tea—tea with added ice—has been making inroads, even among some editors.

    There is precedent: Ice water was originally, properly, “iced water.” We presume that editors in that era of transition were equally chagrinned.

    ____________
    *A line editor is responsible for reviewing each sentence for consistency, grammar, punctuation, spelling and word usage prior to publication. Here’s more.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream Toppings Beyond The Usual

    Most of us use particular condiments on foods out of habit. The convention differs among countries.

  • Americans might use steak sauce while Argentinians use chimichurri.
  • In the U.S., it’s maple syrup that goes on top of pancakes. In Eastern Europe and elsewhere it’s jam, in the U.K. it’s golden syrup, a.k.a. light treacle, a thick, amber-colored inverted sugar syrup that looks like honey, without honey’s distinctive flavor notes.
  •  
    Ice cream toppings around the world vary as well.

  • In the U.S., sweet sauces and whipped cream rule (photo #1).
  • In Japan, you might go for red bean sauce, mochi bits, gelatin and more (photo #2).
  •  
    On the last day of National Ice Cream Month (July), we went on an adventure by looking around the kitchen to see what we could put on ice cream, beyond our standard inventory of chocolate and caramel sauces.

    You can have the same adventure. Look beyond those and the other usual sauces (butterscotch, peanut butter, raspberry) or garnishes (candies, cookies, fruit, nuts), to what you may logically not think of.

    We invited some friends and a few quarts of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, to pair with our atypical ice cream toppings. We also found some “matching garnishes” and made a sundae event of it all.
     
    WHAT WE FOUND IN OUR KITCHEN

    BIRCH SYRUP, which has similar uses as maple syrup (more about it). Garnish: Corn Flakes.

    CHOPPED VEGETABLES, like raw corn kernels and sugar snap peas. We tried a mix of raw corn, popcorn and crunchy Inca corn kernels (like Corn Nuts), and had a heck of a corn sundae. These were the garnishes; we topped the ice cream with some golden syrup. If only we could have found some corn ice cream (recipe #1 and recipe #2).

    COCONUT SYRUP, a popular pancake syrup and sweetener in Hawaii. Toss on some flaked coconut.

    DATE SYRUP, called silan in Arabic, which refers to what we would call date honey, date molasses or date syrup. Garnishes: chopped dates and other dried fruits.

     

    Hot Fudge Sundae
    [1] Fudge, caramel, whipped cream and a cherry on top (photo courtesy Morton’s).

    Japanese Sundae

    [2] Red beans, marshmallows, gelatin, and more in Japan (photo courtesy Sumally).

     
    FLAVORED SALT, a few crunchy grains as garnish on top of the ice cream. We have a lot of these salts, from smoked salt to flavored salts (matcha, truffle, etc.). We’re glad to have another use for them (more about them). Especially nice with honey and maple syrup.

    GOLDEN SYRUP, the pancake syrup of choice in the U.K., also used on ice cream (more about it). Garnish: anything you want.

    HONEY: Plain honey is fine, but we loved using our flavored honeys (chile, cinnamon, lavender). Garnish: fresh fruit.

    LIGHT MOLASSES, a.k.a. sweet molasses, also used as pancake syrup or a sweetener, especially in the south and other areas that had no maple trees. Garnish: anything.

    MAPLE SYRUP: We used a walnut and raisin garnish. Trail mix works, too. And those crunchy Corn Flakes.

    OLIVE OIL: Mild or grassy olive oils (link) make a delightful drizzle. Top with some crunchy sea salt.

    PIE FILLING: No extra garnish is required, but we threw on some granola.

    SIMPLE SYRUP, the flavored syrups used at coffee shops to make your hazelnut (or other flavor) latte. Garnish: anything you like.

    SPICES: cayenne, chipotle powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. For richer flavor, toast the spices in a hot dry pan until they release their aroma.
     
     
    Does this sound strange to you?

    We had such a good time, we’re going to do it again, with other flavors of ice cream.

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Pie With Purple Crust

    Blueberry Pie

    Blueberry Pie
    [1] and [2] Have some fun with your pie crusts (photo courtesy Dulce Delight).

    Carton Of Blueberries
    [3] You can make the crust in different colors (photo courtesy Balducci’s).

    Vermont Creamery Cultured Butter

    [4] Vermont Creamery’s European-Style Butter has 86% butterfat, compared to 80% with most supermarket brands (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    We came across this purple crust on the website of Vermont Creamery, producers of some of the most splendid goat cheese and butter on earth.

    The colored crust, by Raiza Costa of the Dulce Delight online video series, is a “first” for us, excepting green bagels and donuts for St. Patrick’s Day and some very festive rainbow churros for Pride Week.

    RECIPE: RAIZA COSTA’S PURPLE PIE CRUST

    The crust becomes purple by adding food color to the water used to make the dough; the dough is made in a food processor. A food processor breaks up the cold butter more quickly and evenly. Raiza also recommends the highest-fat butter possible, and uses the 86% fat cultured butter from Vermont Creamery.

    Raiza uses her own homemade food color; here’s her article on how to make different food colors. But you can use a commercial food color like McCormick’s, in a proportion of 10 drops red to 5 drops blue; or a purple paste/gel.

    To thicken a fruit filling, Raiza prefers potato starch over flour or cornstarch.

    Here’s her video.
     
    Ingredients For A Nine-Inch Pie

    For The Crust

  • 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the crust
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 17 tablespoons highest fat* unsalted butter (2 sticks + 1 tablespoon, or 240g), cut into even pieces
  • 6–8 tablespoons cold water or cold
  • Natural food coloring (e.g. blackberry juice) or other food coloring
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 2 pints fresh blueberries (4 cups, 30 ounces or 850g), washed and patted dry
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of nutmeg and pinch of allspice (substitute cinnamon, fresh grated from a cinnamon stick)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons potato starch
  •  
    ________________
    *Look for European Style butter, such as the 86% cultured butter from Vermont Creamery. Commercial butter in the U.S. is 80%. More fat means creamier mouthfeel and moister crust.
    ________________
    Preparation

    1. MIX the flour, sugar and salt and add to a food processor.

    2. ADD the butter and pulse one second at a time until you see crumbs the size of the pea; stop processing.

    3. ADD the food coloring and spread the color through the dough, but do not overwork (overworked dough gets tough and is less flaky). Divide the dough into 2 balls, flatten and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. While the dough chills…

    4. MAKE the filling. Combine the blueberries, sugar and spices in a large bowl with the lemon juice and zest; blend and then stir in the potato starch.

     

    5. PREPARE the lattice top on a parchment sheet. Spank the dough, then roll out to a 10″ round for a 9″ pie pan. Cut into even stripes with a ruler. LIFT every other stripe, then place the alternative stripes horizontally, threading them in and out (see the video). You can do this ahead of time and freeze the lattice until you need it. It keeps its shape when place it on top of the pie and peel off the parchment.

    6. ROLL the bottom crust over a rolling pin and roll it out over the pie plate; try not to use too much flour. Carefully pat down the bottom and sides. Add the filling and cover with pats of butter.

    7. LAY the lattice over the filling and butter pats, and roll the edges of the bottom crust to crimp together with the top crust. Refrigerate.

    8. PREHEAT the oven to 500°F. Place the pie on the bottom rack and lower the heat to 425°F. Once the crust gets golden brown which is hard to see on a purple crust), lower the heat to 327°F and bake approximately 35 minutes until the filling bubbles.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12+ Other Uses For Trail Mix

    August 31st is National Trail Mix Day, but we’re jumping the gun with today’s tip.

    Trail mix is a popular grab-and-go snack. Leave out the chocolate chips (substitute toffee chips or M&Ms), and it’s a great hot-weather grab-and-go.

    It’s also fun to make your own creative blend of ingredients.

    12+ USES FOR EXTRA (LEFTOVER) TRAIL MIX

    Turn trail mix leftovers into:

  • Baking: Mix into brownies, cookies, loaf cake (carrot bread, zucchini bread), muffins (toppings or mixed into batter); make granola bars.
  • Beverages: Garnish whipped cream on hot chocolate, milk shakes, smoothies; serve in ramekins with hot or cold drinks.
  • Breakfast Cereal: Top cold or hot cereal, overnight oats, pancakes and waffles (garnish and/or batter ingredient).
  • Breakfast Dairy: Top yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Candy: Mix into homemade chocolate bark.
  • Dessert: Garnish cupcakes, fruit salad, iced carrot cake, pudding, zucchini bread.
  • Ice cream: Top frozen yogurt, ice cream, sorbet.
  • Party favor: Set up a “trail mix bar” and let guests mix their own, to go.
  • Salad: Garnish green salads.
  • Salad: Mix into protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna).
  • Sandwich: Top a cream cheese, jelly sandwich or peanut butter sandwich; a cream cheese bagel; mild grilled cheese (e.g. Brie) or goat cheese sandwich.
  • Side: Mix into a grain salad (for a trail mix without candy).
  • Snack: Toss with popcorn (recipe below).
  •  
     
    RECIPE: SPICY TRAIL MIX POPCORN

    This recipe is adapted from Walnuts.org. Here are more recipes incorporating cheese, peanut butter and other ingredients.

    Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon kosher salt (use the lesser amount if using lightly salted popcorn)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups trail mix
  • 9 cups freshly popped unsalted popcorn, see instructions below
  • 1 cup dried cherries, cranberries, golden raisins or other colorful dried fruit
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or no-stick aluminum foil; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the egg whites in a large bowl with the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, cayenne, cumin, curry, salt, and pepper. Whisk until very well combined.

    3. ADD the trail mix and toss well to coat completely. Add the popcorn and toss until the popcorn is well-speckled with the granola mixture. You will still see a lot of the white popcorn, but that’s O.K.

    4. TRANSFER the mixture to the prepared baking tray; spread it out over the entire sheet. Bake until the coating is dry and the popcorn is crisp, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

    5. ADD the raisins and mix well. You can stored the popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

     

    Trail Mix On Waffles
    [1] Top pancakes and waffles (photo courtesy Sierra Trading Post).

    Smoothie With Trail Mix
    [2] Top a smoothie. Here’s the recipe for this chocolate breakfast smoothie from Natural Comfort Kitchen.

    Yogurt With Trail Mix
    [3] Here’s the recipe from Natural Comfort Kitchen (with homemade yogurt).

    Popcorn Trail Mix
    [4]Is it trail mix popcorn, or popcorn with trail mix. Here’s the recipe from Delicious Meets Healthy.

     
    HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN TRAIL MIX

    Mix and match:

  • Candy: carob chips, chocolate chips/chunks, crystallized ginger, mini marshmallows, M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, toffee, yogurt clusters
  • Cereal: Cheerios, Chex, Corn Flakes, graham cracker cereal, Grape Nuts, mini shredded wheat, rolled oats
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, banana chips, blueberries, candied orange peel (gourmet!), coconut, dates, dried cherries and cranberries (our favorites!), dried mango, figs, raisins
  • Exotica: crystallized ginger, Japanese rice crackers, jerky bits, sesame sticks, wasabi peas
  • Nuts almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts or other favorite (chop large nuts into chunks)
  • Savory: freeze-dried edamame, peas or veggie chips; pretzels, mini crackers, roasted chickpeas, soy beans or soy nuts, wasabi peas
  • Seeds: chia, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds
  •  
     
    THE HISTORY OF TRAIL MIX

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Breakfast Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Breakfast Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Time for breakfast: waffles, bacon and [frozen] yogurt (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

     

    This idea comes from the savvy bakers at King Arthur Flour: Breakfast Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches (as if you needed an excuse to have ice cream for breakfast!).

    Cook some waffles and bacon, and sandwich with frozen yogurt instead of topping them with an egg. We adapted the recipe by adding some bacon jam (buy it or make it) and maple syrup.

    RECIPE: BREAKFAST ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

    Ingredients Per Waffle Sandwich

  • 2 waffles
  • 1 cup frozen yogurt, slightly softened
  • 2-3 pieces cooked bacon, chopped
  • Optional: bacon jam (recipe)
  • Optional: maple syrup drizzle
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the waffles and let cool. When cool…

    2. SPREAD 1 cup of frozen yogurt over one waffle. If using bacon jam, spread it on the underside of the top waffle.

    3. COMBINE the two waffles into a sandwich, wrap in plastic and freeze for 20 minutes. When ready to serve…

     
    4. CUT the waffle into quarters, and roll the yogurt edge in the bacon.
     
     
    Take a look at more ice cream sandwich ideas from King Arthur Flour.
     
     
    HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF WAFFLES HAVE YOU HAD?

    American, Belgian, Hong Kong, Liège and more: Here are the different types of waffles.
     

    THE HISTORY OF WAFFLES

    The waffle emerges in the Neolithic Age as a rustic hotcake. The ancient Greeks cooked them between two hot plates.

    But it took until the 1200s for a creative French craftsman to create the “honeycomb” pattern we use today.

    Check out the history of waffles.

     
      

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