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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,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Food Holidays/History/Facts

FOOD FUN: Watermelon Sushi

We just finished National Watermelon Month (July), but National Watermelon Day is coming up on August 3rd. Here are two ways to enjoy it that may not yet be in your repertoire.
 
WATERMELON SUSHI ROLL

Mango has been a familiar ingredient in sushi rolls for years. But it’s summertime, the season for for watermelon.

In the spirit of eating seasonally, Haru substitutes fresh watermelon for the mango in a roll made with snow crab, green onion and mint. It’s topped with shrimp and served with a lemon dressing in addition to (or instead of) soy sauce.

If you want to make something similar at home, cantaloupe and honeydew work equally well.

Haru pairs the Watermelon Roll with Watermelon Lemonade, a sweet-tart blend of lemon-infused vodka, saké, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur (a NIBBLE favorite), fresh watermelon, lemon juice and thyme-infused simple syrup. The recipe is below.

   

watermelon-roll-snow crab-greenonion-mint-shrimp-haru-230

Watermelon combines with conventional ingredients in this sushi roll. Photo courtesy Haru.

 
If you’d rather have someone make them for you, head to one of Haru’s five locations in Manhattan and one in Boston.

And if you’d like to know the different types of sushi better, check out our Sushi Glossary.

RECIPE: WATERMELON LEMONADE

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 5 fresh watermelon cubes
  • 1½ ounces Absolut Citron vodka
  • ½ ounce St.-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce thyme-infused simple syrup
  • Soda water to fill
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: thyme sprigs wrapped with lemon peel, skewered (see photo above)
  •  
    For The Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/watermelon lemonade 230 haru

    It’s not so innocent: This watermelon lemonade has watermelon and lemonade, but also citron vodka and elderflower liqueur. Photo courtesy Haru.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: Combine the thyme, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the thyme from the syrup and refrigerate in an airtight container.

    2. MUDDLE the watermelon cubes in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients (except garnish) and ice, and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds

    3. POUR into a tall, ice-filled glass. Garnish with thyme and lemon peel.
     
    THE HISTORY OF WATERMELON

    Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus, is believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa (it covers much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa). An ancestor of the modern watermelon still grows wild there.

    Watermelon is a member of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. Its cousins include cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins and squash.

     
    Watermelons are about 92% water—that’s how they got their English name. In ancient times, travelers carried watermelons as a substitute for potable water, which was not easy to find.

    Watermelon was cultivated as early as 2000 B.C.E. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt. You can tell how much the Egyptians enjoyed watermelon: Seeds were found in the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, so his farmers could grow it in the afterlife.

    Thirsty traders passing through the Kalahari, refreshed by the fruit, began to sell the seeds along the trade routes. The cultivation of watermelon spread throughout Africa.

    Most culinary historians believe that watermelon spread from Egypt to other Mediterranean basin countries on merchant trading ships. According to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, the word first appeared in English dictionaries in 1615. Watermelon seeds came to the U.S. with African slaves as well as with British colonists.

    Watermelon was cultivated in China and other parts of Asia by the end of the 9th century C.E. or the early 10th century. Today China is the world’s number one producer of watermelon, Turkey is the second-largest producer and Iran is third. The U.S. is the world’s fourth-largest producer of watermelon, tied with Brazil.

    Watermelons come in a variety of shapes and sizes: Oval, round, even square, developed in Japan for smaller refrigerators. The flesh can be red or yellow; botanists have also developed varieties with orange and white flesh and even this multicolored blue-green watermelon.
     
    Here’s more about watermelon history, nutrition and tips.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Our 20+ Favorite Ways To Use Mustard

    National Mustard Day is the first Saturday in August—which happens to be today. The holiday was initiated in 1988 by a mustard lover named Jill Sengstock, and was taken under the wing of the National Mustard Museum in 1991. If you’re anywhere near Middleton, Wisconsin, you can join in the day of mustard-centric family activities (or is that family-centric mustard activities?).

    Mustard has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, beginning in India in 3000 B.C.E. It grew wild in the foothills of the Himalayas.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans used mustard as a condiment; some actually chewed the mustard seeds with their meat. Egyptian pharoahs were buried with seeds to use in the afterlife.

    Fast forward: By the 1400s, mustard had spread through Europe, with each region making its own style. Mustard came to the U.S. with European immigrants. Mustard came to America in the 1700s and immigrants established mustard businesses. The style of the day was strong, spicy and brown, but later, the yellow “ballpark” mustard style was born in the U.S.A. Here’s more history of mustard.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/5 open jars mailleFB 230

    Five of the 20+ types of mustard made
    by Maille Mustard.

     
    Today, there are dozens of different types of mustard—far beyond the all-American yellow mustard (like French’s), brown mustard (Chinese mustard, like Colman’s), Dijon (like Grey Poupon) and whole grain (like moutarde à l’ancienne—one variety, moutarde de Meaux, is called the “king of mustards” by connoisseurs).

    For National Mustard Day, commit to trying any of these you aren’t familiar with, plus a flavored mustard. Beyond honey mustard, look for Roquefort mustard, tarragon mustard and walnut mustard—three of our favorites.

    20+ WAYS TO USE MUSTARD

    Beyond hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches, mustard is a natural complement to many foods. Before we start the conventional list, take a look at this first course: gravlax with mustard ice cream. There’s no sugar in the ice cream, just novelty. Think of it as a cold mustard cream sauce!

     

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    Pâté with whole grain mustard (also called grainy mustard and in French, moutarde a l’ancienne). Photo courtesy Dusek’s |
    Chicago.

     
  • Barbecue: The essential in South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce, and a help to tomato-based barbecue sauces, to cut the sweetness.
  • Butter: Blend mustard with butter and lemon for a compound butter topping for toast, grilled meat or sauteed meat and seafood.
  • Canapés: Spread a base of bread or cucumber with a flavored mustard, then top with cheese, pâté, meat or other ingredients.
  • Charcuterie: As a condiment with bacon, ballotines, confits, galantines, ham, pâtés, sausages and terrines.
  • Cheese: Serve mustard as a condiment with strong cheeses (more about cheese condiments).
  • Chicken: Mustard brightens chicken stews and makes a delicious glaze for chicken breasts and wings.
  • Dip: Serve it straight or mixed with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt, with crudités, chips, fries and pretzels. Mustard is also an ingredient in beer and Cheddar dips. You can also add it to a Mexican queso dip.
  • Eggs: Mustard adds complexity to deviled eggs. It also makes a delicious sauce for poached eggs.
  • Fish: Sturdy fish like salmon and tuna are wonderful with a mustard crust. As a glaze, brush it on salmon fillets before broiling or on tuna before searing. Here’s a recipe for a mustard glaze for fish.
  • Glaze: In addition to fish, glaze chicken, ham, pork and lamb.
  • Grilled meats: Use mustard as your condiment for meats (including sausages) and poultry.
  • Ground Meat & Seafood: Add a spoonful along with other seasonings, to burgers, crab cake, meat loaf, etc.
  • Mussels: Swirl mustard into lager-steamed mussels and garnish with dill. Here’s a mussels and mustard recipe from Pierre Franey, chef of the legendary (and belated) Le Pavillon restaurant in New York City.
  • Mustard Sauce: Here’s a recipe for mustard sauce.
  • Pan Sauces: After sautéing chicken breasts or searing steaks, whisk the fond (the browned bits at the bottom of the pan) with a splash of wine and a dollop of mustard, into a tasty sauce.
  • Pasta: Add acidity to a cream sauce for pasta with a spoonful of mustard. Make a butter-mustard sauce for noodles with grainy mustard.
  • Potatoes: Add a spoonful of mustard to mashed potatoes. Then top it with crumbled bacon and minced chives or scallions! Add Dijon mustard to a gratin; add a bit to a sour cream or yogurt sauce for potatoes and vegetables.
  • Roasts: To create a beautiful crust for a leg of lamb, pork loin or turkey breast, rub it with an herb mustard before roasting.
  • Salads: Add a spoonful to the “protein” salads—chicken, egg, ham, tuna—and the side salads—cole slaw, potato salad and macaroni salad.
  • Sandwich Spread: Mix mayonnaise with mustard, half and half or to taste. It adds flavor and cuts the calories and fat of the mayo in half.
  • Soup: Add a spoonful to a pot of dull soup.
  • Tartar Sauce: Here’s a zingy recipe from Colman’s.
  • Vinaigrette: A mustard dressing is a classic with salad greens, but it’s also delicious with roasted vegetables (try it with parsnips and turnips!).
  •  
    Thanks to Colman’s Mustard for some of these yummy ideas. Click the link for recipes.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Reduced Sugar Raspberry Pie

    July 31st is National Raspberry Cake Day. You can make one easily, by using raspberry jam as a filling between two layers, using whipped cream to frost the cake, and decorating the top with fresh raspberries.

    But for calorie counters, substitute the cake for a pie, and make this reduced calorie raspberry pie from Driscoll’s. It replaces some of the sugar with a noncaloric sugar substitute. And August 1st is National Raspberry Cream Pie Day.

    You can add a garnish of whipped cream from an aerosol can. With all the air whipped into the sweetened cream, it has just eight calories per tablespoon.

    For this recipe, prep time is 25 minutes; cook time is 1 hour 5 minutes.

    If you don’t want a reduced-sugar pie, try this raspberry cream pie recipe.

    RECIPE: REDUCED-CALORIE RASPBERRY PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings
     
    For The Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
  •  

    raspberry-pie-flower-crust-driscolls-230

    Raspberry pie with a leafy crust. Use small cookie cutters to cut leaves from dough scraps. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     
    For The Filling

  • 3 packages (6 ounces each) Driscoll’s raspberries
  • 1/3 cup granulated Splenda (not from individual packets)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  •  
    Optional Garnish

  • Aerosol whipped cream
  •  

    raspberries-cartons-MF-jeltovski-230

    Just-picked raspberries. Photo by J. Eltovski | Morguefile.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the crust: Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the ater, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough comes together (be careful not to over-mix). Pat the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

    2. MAKE the filling: Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large circle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out a 13-inch circle and gently transfer the dough to a 9-1/2-inch pie plate. Fold the edge of dough under the rim of the plate and crimp to make a decorative crust. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes. Cut the remaining dough into various small cutouts, using cookie cutters. (Here’s a set of mini leaf cutters. We use this linzer cookie cutter set with a heart, moon, sun and star.)

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Top the pie dough shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. (This large pie weight from Chicago Metallic avoids having to pick up the individual weights or beans.)

     
    4. BAKE the crust for 10 minutes, remove the foil and weights and continue to bake about 10 minutes more or until lightly golden.

    5. REDUCE the oven temperature to 350°F. Place the raspberries, Splenda, brown sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl and stir until evenly combined. Spoon into prebaked crust. Brush crust with beaten egg and top with small cutouts. Brush cutouts with beaten egg.

    6. BAKE for 40 to 45 minutes or until the juices are bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving, or chill completely.
     
    Find more delicious berry recipes at Driscolls.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry Cheesecake Pops

    strawberry-lime-cheesecake-pops-kraft-230

    Make frozen strawberry cheesecake pops to celebrate National Cheesecake Day. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

     

    July 30th is National Cheesecake Day, and we’re baking our Cheesecake Recipe Sour Cream Topping, which happens to be our mom’s recipe. It’s a heavy cream cheese cake with a sour cream topping that isn’t found often these days—probably because most people don’t want to take the extra step.

    If you don’t want to bake any type of cheesecake, how about these Strawberry Lime Cheesecake Pops from Philadelphia Cream Cheese? They give you a summery cheesecake experience without turning on the oven.

    Not all cheesecakes are sweet, by the way. We love savory cheesecakes—basil, blue cheese, corn and provolone, lobster Gruyère, salmon and tuna. Serve one with cocktails, as an appetizer, or as the cheese course with a salad. They’re memorable!

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY LIME CHEESECAKE POPS

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups strawberries, divided
  • 1-1/2 packages (12 ounces) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, cubed, then softened
  • 1 tablespoons lime zest and 2 tablespoons juice from 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (heavy cream)
  • Plus:

  • 12 paper or plastic cups, 3 ounces each
  • 12-cup muffin tin
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE a 3-ounce paper or plastic cup in each of 12 muffin pan cups. Cut each of 3 strawberries into 4 slices; place in the cups.

    2. PLACE the remaining strawberries in a food processor. Add the cream cheese, lime zest, juice and sugar; process until smooth. Spoon into medium bowl.

    3. BEAT the whipping cream in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently stir into the cream cheese mixture. Spoon into the prepared cups. Tap the cups on the counter to remove any air bubbles.

    4. INSERT a wooden pop stick or a plastic spoon into the center of each cup. If they won’t stand up straight, freeze for an hour and try again.

    5. FREEZE for 4 hours or until firm. Remove the frozen pops from cups just before serving.

     

    CHEESECAKE TRIVIA

  • Cheesecake (savory) was popular in ancient Greece. Neufchatel, ricotta and other soft, fresh cheesecake-friendly cheeses have existed in Europe for centuries, engendering a variety of savory and sweet cheesecake recipes.
  • Cream cheese was invented by accident in New York, in 1872, and later given the Philadelphia brand name (learn more). In the early 20th century, the company promoted the first cream cheese cake recipe, and an icon was born.
  • Cheesecake is actually a cheese custard pie. There is no cake made with flour, but a bottom crust like an open face pie.
  • Cheesecake is often served with fresh or cooked fruit. Blueberries, mango, raspberries and strawberries are fan favorites.
  • Want more? Take our cheesecake trivia quiz.
  •  

    philadelphia_cream_cheese-box-ps-230

    Cream cheese is an American invention. Cream cheese-based cheesecake owes its popularity to Philadelphia Cream Cheese, which launched in 1872. The brand promoted the recipe on its packages. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

     

    18 DELICIOUS CHEESECAKE RECIPES

    We love cheesecake, and have published quite a few recipes over the years. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake recipe
  • Burnt Caramel Cheesecake recipe
  • Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake recipe
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake (recipe) and the history of cheesecake
  • Cranberry Cheesecake recipe with whiskey buttercream sauce
  • Easy Blueberry Cheesecake Topping recipe
  • Grand Marnier Mascarpone Cheesecake recipe
  • Individual Cheesecakes With Fresh Orange Or Grapefruit (recipe)
  • Individual Eggnog Cheesecakes recipe
  • Irish Coffee Cheesecake recipe
  • Irish Cream Liqueur Cheesecake recipe
  • Mango Cheesecake recipe
  • Michael Chiarello’s Mascarpone Cheesecake recipe
  • Milk Chocolate Cheesecake recipe
  • Mocha Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe
  • My Mom’s New York Cheesecake With Sour Cream Topping recipe
  • Pumpkin Mousse Cheesecake with gingersnap crust recipe
  • Red Velvet Cheesecake recipe
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Pisco Punch For Pisco Day

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pisco porton 230

    Pisco Portón, one of the finest pisco
    brands. Photo courtesy Pisco Portón.

     

    Pisco (PEE-skoe), the national spirit of Peru, is celebrated with two holidays each year: Pisco Day on the fourth Sunday of July, and Pisco Sour Day on the first Saturday of February, honoring Peru’s national drink.

    So for Pisco Day, here are two pisco punch recipes that aren’t the Pisco Sour. Punches are good for a crowd, can be made a day in advance, and are easy to pour from a pitcher.

    Make the punch a day in advance, you can chill it thoroughly in the fridge so less ice will be required (it dilutes the drink as it melts). The larger the cubes, the slower they melt.

    RECIPE: EASY PISCO PUNCH

    Ingredients

  • Peels of three lemons, each cut into spirals with a vegetable peeler
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice*
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) pisco
  • 1 quart cold water
  • Garnish: 1 star fruit
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    *Juice the three lemons after you cut the peels

    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the lemon peels and sugar together and let sit for at least 90 minutes. Muddle the lemon and sugar again, then stir in the lemon juice.

    2. ADD the pisco and the water and stir. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
     
    3. CUT the star fruit into ¼ to ½ inch slices right before serving. To serve, pour into a glass pitcher and float the star fruit slices. Add ice cubes as needed.

     

    RECIPE: PINEAPPLE PISCO PUNCH

    Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (750ml) pisco
  • 16 ounces pineapple juice
  • 6 ounces simple syrup (Simple Syrup Recipe)
  • ½ fresh pineapple in cubes
  • 7 ounces fresh strawberries, diced
  • Ice cubes
  • Mint leaves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients in punch bowl or pitcher.

    2. SERVE in rocks glasses; garnish with pineapple and strawberry squares and mint.

     

    pisco-punch-pitcher-piscoporton-230

    Pineapple Pisco Punch. Photo and recipe courtesy Pisco Portón.

     

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF PISCO

    As Spanish emigrés settled in Latin America, they needed to find local substitutes for products that took many months to come from Europe.

    Pisco, a replacement for European-distilled brandy, was first made in the 16th century from grapes grown in the fertile Pisco Valley.

    While most pisco brands imported to the U.S. are Peruvian, you can alo find some that are made in Chile.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Hot Dog Day

    cubano-dog-llightlife-230

    The Cubano Dog, adapted from the Cuban Sandwich. Photo courtesy Lightlife.

     

    June 23rd is National Hot Dog Day, and we’ve got a new hot dog recipe: the Cubano Dog. It’s a riff on the Cubano (Cuban) Sandwich, a variation of ham and cheese made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, sliced dill pickles and mustard on lightly buttered Cuban (or Portuguese) roll.

    Here, the hot dog and bun replace the pork and bread. Check out the different types of sandwiches.

    The recipe is from Lightlife, a Nibble Top Pick Of The Week that specializes in delicious meatless alternatives. But any dog works: beef, bison, chicken, turkey or veggie.

    RECIPE: CUBANO DOG

    You can use store-bought pickles instead of making your own (it’s quick and easy!).

  • 2 large Portuguese rolls or 4 hot dog buns
  • 4 hot dogs
  • 4 slices ham
  • 2 ounces Swiss cheese, sliced into 16 half-inch strips
  • Yellow mustard
  • For The Pickles

  • 1 cup very thinly sliced English cucumber, cut into half moons (see photo above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • ¼ -1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, cracked
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the pickles. In a heat-proof bowl, toss together cucumbers and dill. Set aside.

    2. HEAT the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, salt and garlic in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the liquid begins to simmer and the sugar dissolves. Pour the liquid over the cucumbers and toss to coat evenly. Cover and place in the refrigerator. The pickles can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.

    3. TOAST the rolls. If using Portuguese rolls, first slice them in half. You can toast them under the broiler at the same time as you broil the hot dogs. and the bread is toasted.

    4. TURN the oven to broil. First cook the hot dogs in a medium saucepan, covered with water. Bring to a boil; turn off the heat. Let the hot dogs sit in the water for 2 minutes.

    4. ROLL 1 slice of ham around each dog. Place on a baking sheet (along with the hot dog rolls) and broil for 2 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from from broiler and add 4 slices of cheese to each dog. Broil for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

    5. REMOVE from the oven. Top each dog with 1/4 cup of drained pickles. Serve with mustard.

     

    chili-cheese-hot-dog-230

    You’ve come a long way, baby. The original Coney Island hot dog can be dressed in many types of garnishes. Photo courtesy Body By Bison.

     
    HOT DOG VERSUS SAUSAGE: THE DIFFERENCE

    The hot dog—also called a frankfurter and a wiener—is a type of sausage: ground meat stuffed into a casing*. The American hot dog differs from other sausages based on ingredients, origin and size.

    The original name for the hot dog, frankfurter, comes from a small town called Neu-Isenburg, located on the road from Frankfurt to Darmstadt. Every town in Germany has its own sausage recipe: blend of meat, spicing, etc.

    The frankfurter, a slender sausage like today’s frank, was made from pork. The name “wiener” comes from Vienna, Austria; the German name for Vienna is Wien. The wiener is similar to the frankfurter in recipe, but slightly shorter in size.

    Sausages appear in print as far back as Homer’s Odyssey, about 850 B.C.E. The earliest possible reference to “hot dog” occurs in the late 17th century.

    The written record is incomplete, but a sausage maker from Coberg, Germany named Johann Georghehner may have invented a sausage he called “little dachshunds,” or “little dogs.”

    Recipes for the predecessor of the American hot dog came to U.S. with immigrant butchers of several nationalities. While as uncertain as the Georgehner story, it is believed that in 1871, Charles Feltman, a butcher from Germany, opened up the first Coney Island hot dog stand selling 3,684 “dachshund sausages” in a milk roll during his first year in business. [Source: HotDog.org]

    Since sauerkraut and mustard were typical accompaniments to German sausages, they found their place atop the hot dog, later to be joined by many other toppings; for starters, bacon, cheese, chili, ketchup, onions, pickles/pickle relish, salsa and slaw.

    While we don’t know the different recipes of the first American hot dogs, it is beef rather than pork that has prevailed—possibly, because Nathan’s, today the world’s biggest hot dog brand, was a kosher recipe.

    In 1916 Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant, started a nickel hot dog stand on Coney Island with a $300 loan from two friends—Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante, both local boys. But it was his wife’s secret spice recipe that is attributed to the success over other vendors.
     
    *Sausage can also be vegetarian; and bulk sausage is available without the casing.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Great Cocktail From Scratch

    TanquerayFrench75-230

    Celebrate Bastille Day with a French 75
    cocktail. Photo courtesy Tanqueray.

     

    Today’s tip will help you make a perfect cocktail, with advice from the experts at Cabo Flats.

    Along with the cocktail best practices, we’re rolling in today’s food holiday. Well, it’s sort of a food holiday, since it concerns one of the great culinary countries of the world.

    It’s Bastille Day in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 that launched the French Revolution. Just as the holiday we call July 4th is formally named Independence day, the official French name for Bastille Day is La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration), and commonly Le Quatorze Juillet (the fourteenth of July).

    Today, make your cocktail something French. First and foremost, we love the Kir and Kir Royale, invented by a mayor of Dijon, France. The Kir Royale recipe, made with sparkling wine, is below.
     
    RECIPE: FRENCH 75 COCKTAIL

    Made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar, the French 75 is attributed to bartender Harry MacElhone, created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris (later called Harry’s New York Bar). Some say it was actually the idea of American officers who frequented the bar.

     
    The drink was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. The gun was also called a Soixante Quinze (the number 75 in French) and a 75 Cocktail. The latter name was bestowed upon alcoholic cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 1.25 ounces gin
  • .5 ounce simple syrup
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • Champagne
  • Garnish: lemon peel curl
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SHAKE the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.

    2. STRAIN into a rocks glass or Champagne coupe and top with Champagne. Garnish with lemon peel.

     

    TRICKS TO MAKE THE PERFECT COCKTAIL

    According to the expert mixologists at Cabo Flats, whatever you’re mixing up, you need:

    1. Balance. Balancing the amount of alcohol with bitter taste to sweet taste. Some believe that more alcohol is better, but the taste has to be considered. Correctly measure the alcohol, mixer, and sweetener.

    2. Fresh Juice. Whether its fresh squeezed orange juice, pink grapefruit juice, lemon juice, or lime juice – it is extremely important to use fresh squeezed juice and nothing packaged or pasteurized.

    3. Sweetener. Agave needs to be used with tequila, simple syrup needs to be used for vodka or gin. For brown spirits, according to Cabo Flats, you should use pure cane sugar.

    4. Quality of Alcohol. Some people think you can get away with cheap (low quality) spirits; but they will ruin your drink every time.

    5. Final Touch. The last component of a perfect cocktail is the garnish: foam, fruit, oil, rim, savory garnish (celery, olives, shrimp, etc.). This will have a huge effect on the taste and look of the cocktail.

     

    kir-royale-drinkandcocktail.blogspot-230

    Invented in Dijon, France, Kir and its variations have a base of crème de cassis, blackcurrant liqueur. Photo courtesy Chandon USA.

     

    RECIPE: KIR ROYALE

    There are many variations of the original Kir cocktail. There is also a “cousin” made with Chambord, raspberry liqueur.

    If you have Chambord but not crème de cassis you can substitute it. This creates a Kir Impériale.

    Ingredients For 4 Cocktails

  • 1 bottle crème de cassis
  • 1 bottle Champagne* or other sparkling wine, chilled
  • Optional garnish: blackberries or raspberries on a pick
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 4 Champagne flutes in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove and add 1 tablespoon of the liqueur to each flute.

    2. FILL each flute to the top with Champagne and serve immediately. If you want a more fruity flavor, use more liqueur.
     
    *CONSIDER OTHER SPARKLERS. Sparkling wines from other regions are more affordable than Champagne and make more sense in this recipe, given that the strong currant flavors will cover the delicate toastiness of Champagne. Consider Asti and Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France (eight different regions produce it), Espumate from Portugal and Sekt from Germany. Also consider sparklers from Australia, Austria, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.S. and other countries We often use the inexpensive but delightful [yellow tail] from Australia, and especially the rosé [yellow tail] (yes, that’s how the winery spells it!).

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make The Best French Fries

    fries-calphalon-fryer-WS-230

    If you love to make French fries, you need a fry basket. Photo courtesy Calphalon.

     

    Today is National French Fry Day, the perfect day to explore how to make the best French fries.

    We contacted our friends at the Idaho Potato Commission, a website with tons of tips and recipes.

    They start by advising you to buy Idaho potatoes, which are branded russet potatoes. In actuality, depending on where potatoes are grown, they will have more or less moisture. Idaho russets have less moisture, which is desirable for crisper fries.

    Here’s how chefs do it—a twice-fried method:

    HOW TO FRY PERFECT FRENCH FRIES

    1. WASH and scrub the potato skins well, and allow to air-dry in a single layer on a sheet pan.

    2. USE a French fry cutter to cut the potatoes into the desired size and shape, leaving the skins on. RINSE thoroughly so the excess starches and sugars are removed.

     
    At this point, you can leave the sliced potatoes covered with water in the fridge up to 24 hours in advance of cooking.

    3. SPIN the potatoes dry with a salad spinner or drain on a drip screen (i.e., cooling rack) before frying.

    4. BLANCH or partially cook the fries to keep the potatoes from oxidizing/darkening, in a 250°F fryer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the fryer and drain. Allow the fries to cool to room temperature before the final fry. Fries should be bendable. Then, chill in the fridge before the final fry.

    5. FINISH the fries in the fryer at 350°F for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and fully cooked. Remove and drain well. TIP: Fill the fry basket only half full. Better oil circulation results in crisper fries.

    6. After draining on a screen, season with salt. Do not season over the hot oil! Consider seasoning with dried herbs as well—rosemary or thyme, for example—or substituting garlic salt.

     

    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH FRIES

    Potatoes originated in Peru and spread to other parts of Latin America. Fried potatoes—cooking potatoes in fat over a fire—is a practice that’s thousands of years old.

    Potatoes were “discovered” and brought back to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors—where they were uses as hog feed! The French were convinced that potatoes caused leprosy, and French Parliament banned the cultivation of potatoes in 1748.

    A French army medical officer, Antoine-Augustine Parmentier, was forced to eat potatoes as a prisoner of war, and discovered their culinary potential. Through his efforts, in 1772, the Paris Faculty of Medicine finally proclaimed that potatoes were edible for humans—though it took a famine in 1785 for the French to start eating them in earnest.

    In 1802, Thomas Jefferson’s White House chef, Honoré Julien, a Frenchman, prepared “potatoes served in the French manner” for a state dinner. The potatoes were “deep-fried while raw, in small cuttings.” French fries had arrived! By the early 20th century, the term “French fried,” meaning “deep fried,” was being used for other foods as well (onion rings and zucchini sticks, anyone?).

     

    Julienne_Fries_alexia-230ps

    Season your fries with rosemary, thyme or other favorite herb. Photo courtesy Alexia.

     
    DIFFERENT TYPES OF FRENCH FRIES

    Our French Fries Glossary has 27 different types of French fries.

    You can make number 28, by creating your own signature French fry recipe. Here’s how.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blueberry Sorbet

    July is National Ice Cream Month as well as National Blueberry Month. Why not combine both concepts and make blueberry ice cream?

    Or, lower in calories and lactose free, blueberry sorbet?

    You don’t need an ice cream maker to prepare this two-ingredient blueberry sorbet; just blueberries and apple juice concentrate.

    The recipe, from U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, couldn’t be easier to make. While you can do it with fresh blueberries in season, it’s just as good with frozen blueberries, which are picked at their peak and flash-frozen.

    The icy and refreshing treat can be enjoyed plain or served with cake, cookies, pies or fruit salad; or turned into a sorbet cocktail or mocktail.

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY SORBET

    Ingredients For 4 Cups/6 Servings

  • 4 cups fresh or thawed, frozen blueberries
  • 1 can (6 ounces) frozen apple juice concentrate
  • Optional garnish: fresh blueberries
  • Optional garnish: crème fraîche
  •  

    Blueberry-Sorbet-blueberrycouncilorg-230

    Two-ingredient blueberry sorbet. Photo courtesy Blueberry Council.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the blueberries and apple juice concentrate in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Whirl until liquefied and our into a 11 X 7-inch baking pan. Cover and freeze until firm around the edges, about 2 hours.

    2. BREAK the frozen mixture into pieces with a heavy spoon. Place the pieces into the food processor or blender and whirl until smooth but not completely melted.

    3. SPOON into a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan; cover and freeze until firm. Serve within three days.

    Find more recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Day-Old Croissants

    Croissant_French_Toast_with_Cherries_and_Chocolate-calcherry-230

    Turn yesterday’s croissants into today’s ice
    cream sundae. Toast them first. Yummy!
    Photo courtesy California Cherry Board.

     

    We just came back from the bakery with a bag of warm, fragrant croissants for breakfast. We know we’ll have leftovers tomorrow—even when we use some of them tonight to make Croissant Ice Cream Sundaes. Here are our favorite uses for yesterday’s croissants:

    10 USES FOR DAY-OLD CROISSANTS

    Sure, you can nuke them for 5 seconds in the microwave to refresh them, or toast them. Or, you could turn the croissants into something else entirely:

  • Almond croissants (halve lengthwise, fill with frangipane or almond paste and warm)
  • Breakfast sandwich, toasted with scrambled eggs
  • Bread pudding (too many recipes to count!)
  • Custard dessert (recipe)
  • French toast, pan-fried, baked or ice cream sundae (see photo)
  • Garlic bread (halve lengthwise, spread with garlic paste or garlic butter and warm)
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Lunch: chicken salad, ham and cheese or whatever on a toasted or warmed croissant (slice before warming)
  • Soup thickener, an age-old trick (add bread to a food processor, top with some soup, blend and stir the blend into the pot of soup)
  • Stuffing
  •  
    Can’t Decide? Freeze The Croissants.

    Place the croissants on a baking sheet (not touching) and put in the freezer until just frozen. Then wrap each croissant individually in aluminum foil, place in a freezer bag (since they’re pre-frozen, they won’t crush) and return to the freezer.

    Heat and eat: Remove the foil and place the croissants on a baking sheet for 5 minutes in a 325°F oven. Or, reuse the foil to line the tray of a toaster oven. You can also microwave them.
     
    RECIPE: CROISSANT ICE CREAM SUNDAE

    Here’s something out of the ordinary for National Ice Cream Month, incorporating cherry season.

    Croissant French Toast with Fresh Bing Cherry Sauce was originally developed by the California Cherry Board as a brunch item. Frankly, with the chocolate sauce and whipped cream, it is just too much for a brunch main course.

    So we added ice cream and turned it into a dessert—a riff on profiteroles, the ice cream-stuffed cream puff pastry, drizzled with chocolate sauce.

     

    RECIPE: CROISSANT ICE CREAM SUNDAE WITH
    FUDGE SAUCE & FRESH CHERRY SAUCE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • ½ cup orange marmalade
  • 2 cups pitted fresh cherries*
  • Four croissants
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pint ice cream (cherry, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla)
  • 2 cups fresh whipped cream (recipe)
  • ½ cup chocolate sauce
  •  
    *While the original recipe used bing cherries, buy whatever is the freshest and sweetest-tasting. Check out these cherry facts.

     

    dark_cherries-pedastel-230

    Bing cherries. Photo courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the orange marmalade in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the cherries and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat.

    2. SLICE the croissants in half lengthwise, as if to make a sandwich.

    3. WHISK the eggs, milk and cream in a flat-bottomed baking dish. Lay the croissant halves in the egg mixture, flipping several times to absorb the liquid.

    4. ADD the butter to a griddle and heat it on medium flame. When the fat is hot, cook the croissant slices until golden brown on each side.

    5. PLACE bottom croissant slices on serving plates. Top with the ice cream and the cherry mixture.

    6. ADD the croissant tops, a dollop of whipped cream a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

      

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