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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

RECIPE: Curried Egg Salad

curried-egg-salad-louisemellor-safeeggs-230

Curried egg salad on toast. Photo courtesy
Louise Mellor | SafeEggs.com.

 

To mark the end of National Egg Salad Week, we made a delicious curried egg salad recipe.

And we did it the easy way, purchasing pre-cooked and peeled hard boiled eggs from Trader Joe’s.

While we were at it, we picked up some pre-grilled chicken breasts across the aisle, and made a batch of curried chicken salad as well. We did some blending, and decided that we preferred egg salad and chicken salad separately, rather than combined.

A different on a traditional favorite, this curried egg salad is fresh and invigorating. The recipe is by Louise Mellor for SafeEggs.com.

Find more egg recipes at SafeEggs.com.

CURRIED EGG SALAD RECIPE

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT hard boiled eggs into small dice.

    2. COMBINE the eggs with the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to combine.

    3. FOLD in arugula and serve salad on whole wheat bread or with crackers.

     

    EGG MYTHS

    Davidson’s Safest Eggs are whole raw eggs that have been pasteurized in the shell, using special equipment. Pasteurization kills the salmonella, as does cooking unpasteurized eggs.

    We go out of our way to find Davidson’s Safest Eggs when we’re making Caesar salad, mousse, steak tartare and other recipes that require raw eggs that are not cooked—not to mention making raw cake batter and cookie dough safe enough to enjoy.

    Many people believe different myths about egg safety. Here, Davidson’s puts them to rest:

  • Myth: If the shell of a fresh egg is smooth and un-cracked, it’s safe to eat raw. Nope! Even the most perfect-looking fresh egg can harbor Salmonella germs inside. If the egg has a crack, even a hairline, bacteria from the environment can enter them.
  • Myth: If you wash eggs before use, they’ll be safe. Nope! That’s because the Salmonella bacteria, if present, are usually inside the egg. The microbes come from the reproductive tract of the hen and are passed to the inside of the egg before it hits the nest.
  •  

    trader-joes-package-elvirakalviste-230

    All peeled and ready to eat. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Myth: You can pasteurize fresh eggs at home in the microwave. Nope! A brand like Safest Choice uses a patented process based on extensive scientific development and precision controls. Per the FDA, the equipment to pasteurize eggs isn’t available for home use, and it is not possible to pasteurize shell eggs at home without cooking the contents of the egg.
  • Myth: Organic eggs and brown eggs are safe from Salmonella. While organic eggs come from better fed, better cared for hens, they can still harbor salmonella. The color of the shells is determined by the breed of the hen, and likewise has no impact on safety.
  • Myth: Eggs from a local farm are safer than those from the grocery store. Nope! Chickens harbor Salmonella bacteria, and even eggs from the best family farms can harbor salmonella. Rodents, feed, flies, water, dust and other birds can deliver Salmonella to even the best-cared-for hens.
  • Myth: Generally, eggs that can make you sick will smell or taste “off.” Nope! The bacteria that cause spoilage and “off” aromas and flavors are different from those that cause foodborne illness. Salmonella bacteria in an egg can’t be seen, smelled or tasted.
  • Myth: Salmonella is only in the yolks of raw eggs. If you eat only the raw egg whites, you’re O.K. Nope. While the Salmonella is usually in the yolk, you can’t rule their presence in the egg white.
  • Myth: Egg pasteurization destroys nutrients. Nope! The all-natural water bath pasteurization process does not change the nutritional value of an ordinary egg in any way.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Lobster Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    lobster-grilled-cheese-marcforgione-tfal-230sq

    Add lobster to your grilled cheese sandwich.
    Photo courtesy T-Fal.

     

    April is National Grilled Cheese Month and April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day. So it’s time to get out the bread and cheese, and turn on the stove.

    There are many wonderful grilled cheese recipes. But perhaps the most luxurious is lobster grilled cheese.

    T-fal “commissioned” the sandwich recipe below from Iron Chef Marc Forgione to launch its Mini Grilled Cheese Griddle. It’s a small, handled griddle that cooks a single, perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

    The small, non-stick pan heats up more quickly than larger pans; the flat griddle base ensures even heat distribution for perfect melting. It’s $5.29 at Amazon.com.

    Of course, you can use whatever pan you have; but a flat griddle of any size is best for uniform heating.

    Chef Forgione obviously likes heat; we’re not sure we like the extra sriracha sauce as a condiment on the side because the lobster is so delicate. But try it and see for yourself.

     

    RECIPE: LOBSTER GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 4 Whole Sandwiches

    For the Chili Lobster

  • 2 cups lobster stock (if you can’t find lobster stock at a fish store, get generic seafood stock)
  • 4 one-and-one-half pound lobsters, claws removed (we used the claw meat as well as the tails)
  • ¼ cup sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 8 slices of Gruyère or fontina cheese (we prefer truffle cheese)
  • 4 slices Pullman Loaf or other high-quality thick sliced white bread, 1” thick (we used brioche)
  • Melted butter for brushing
  •  

    lobster-claw-cooked-hancocklobster-230

    We used the claw meat in the sandwiches, but you can enjoy it separately. Photo courtesy Hancock Lobster.

     

    Preparation

    1. CUT the tails off the lobster bodies, and into 1-inch pieces while the tails are still in their shells

    2. BRING the lobster stock to a simmer and add the sriracha, soy sauce and lime juice. Piece by piece, whisk in 6 tablespoons of butter until emulsified. Reduce the remaining sauce until it slightly thickens, about 2 minutes.

    3. TOSS the lobster tail pieces in oil with salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes or until cooked through. Place the lobster pieces in a bowl and transfer to the fridge until cooled. When the lobster pieces have cooled, pop the meat out of the tails and set aside.

    4. TAKE two slices of bread per sandwich. Place one slice of cheese on top of the first slice, cover the cheese with some lobster meat, sprinkle ½ tablespoon of tarragon, cover with a second slice of cheese, and then top with the second piece of bread.

    5. BRUSH the outer sides of each slice of bread with melted butter and season with salt. Grill the sandwich on the T-fal Mini Grilled Cheese Griddle and serve with an optional small bowl of sriracha sauce on the side.

      

    Comments

    HOLIDAY: National Egg Salad Week

    egg-ham-salad-davidvenableQVC-230

    Deviled ham-and-egg salad. Photo courtesy QVC.

      It’s National Egg Salad Week. Here’s a different way to enjoy “ham and eggs”—as deviled egg and ham salad.

    QVC’s chef David Venable sent this deviled egg and ham salad recipe as a way to use leftover Easter ham, but there’s no time like the present.

    You may like it so much that you’ll eagerly await Easter ham leftovers. According to David, it tastes so good that “no one will complain about day two, or even three, of leftovers!”

    RECIPE: DEVILED EGG & HAM SALAD

    Ingredients

  • 8 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 8 ounces cooked ham, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Preparation

    1. PLACE the eggs, celery, and ham in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

    2. MIX the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, pickle relish, paprika, and vinegar in a separate medium-sized bowl until fully combined.

    3. POUR the mayonnaise mixture over the eggs, celery, and ham and toss gently.
     
    MORE EGG SALAD RECIPES

    Here’s a wealth of egg salad recipes, including an ingredients template to make your own signature egg salad.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Twinkies Day

    In 2012 and 2013, it looked like National Twinkies Day, April 6th, might be in jeopardy. Hostess Brands, the manufacturer, closed 33 bakeries in November 2012, declaring bankruptcy.

    But thanks to an investment by two private equity firms, the golden snacks were back on the shelf in July 2013.

    And a number of fans don’t ever want to be caught without their Twinkies: They’ve developed homemade versions. Here’s a recipe posted on Epicurious.com (presented as “vanilla snack cakes”).

    So buy them or bake them, and enjoy this Twinkie Trivia while you snack.
     
    TWINKIE TRIVIA

  • Birth. Twinkies snack cakes were invented in 1930 by James Dewar, manager of the Continental Baking Company (now Hostess Brands) in Chicago. The product was conceived as a way to use the company’s thousands of shortcake pans, which were employed only during strawberry season.
  •  

    twinkies-vanilla-snack-cakes-epicurious-230

    Make your own Twinkies. Photo by Lara Ferroni | Epicurious.

  • Name. Twinkies were originally called Little Shortcake Fingers. They were subsequently renamed Twinkie Fingers, inspired by a billboard that advertised the Twinkle Toe Shoe; and finally were renamed Twinkies. The third time’s a charm!
  • Price. Twinkies originally cost a nickel for two and had banana creme filling. The filling was changed to vanilla creme because there was a banana shortage during World War II. In 1999, Hostess reintroduced a limited-edition banana-creme Twinkie, but Americans refused to bite and it has not returned.
  • Science. In 1995, a group of Rice University students conducted experiments on Twinkies. See the results on here. One finding: When microwaved, Twinkies gave off noxious fumes.
  • Shelf Life. Twinkies currently have a shelf life of 45 days. The secret to their longevity is the lack of dairy ingredients, which spoil more quickly than other ingredients; not to mention, lots of preservatives.
  • Quantity. Hostess produced more than 500 million Twinkies a year, almost enough for each American to eat two Twinkies a year. Chicago, the birthplace of Twinkies, consumes more per capita than any other city.
  • Honor. In 1999, the White House Millennium Council selected the Twinkie as one of the items to be preserved in the Nation’s Millennium Time Capsule, representing an object of enduring American symbolism. (Hmm…)
  •  
    Trivia source: HunterHome.net.

      

    Comments

    TIP: Flavored Water Enhancers For World Water Day

    peach-green-tea-water-bottle-kalviste-230

    Don’t buy flavored water: Make your own
    with this pocket-size squeeze bottle. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    It’s World Water Day, an observance begun in 1993 by a declaration of the United Nations General Assembly, to focus on the challenges of the world’s water supply.

    On previous World Water Days, we advocated buying a permanent water bottle to spare the earth the landfill of billions of plastic bottles a year.

  • More than 80% of empty water bottles end up in the nation’s landfills.
  • Fifty billion water bottles are used every year, about 30 billion of them in the U.S. This equates to 1,500 water bottles consumed per second! Amazingly, we utilize about 60% of the world’s water bottles, even though we represent just 4.5% of the world population and have safe municipal water everywhere.
  • Seventeen million barrels of oil are used each year to produce all of the water bottles—enough to keep one million cars fueled for an entire year.
  • Beyond oil, it takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one empty plastic water bottle. Because of the chemicals used in production, most of that water cannot be reused.*
  •  

    ENHANCE TAP WATER WITH WATER ENHANCERS

    This year, for folks who don’t like plain water from the tap, we’ve advocating portable water enhancers instead of iced tea, Vitamin Water and other options. These small squeeze bottles fit in your pocket and turn your [reusable] bottle of water—or a glass of water—into a zero-calorie flavored beverage.

    The process is simple: Take your water bottle or a glass of water, squeeze in a few drops of water enhancer and shake or stir. No refrigeration is required; the enhancers are caffeine-free and gluten-free.

    As an at-home or on-the-go product, water enhancers are environmentally friendly, leaving one small plastic bottle to recycle instead of up to 32 full size beverage bottles.

    We tried two brands: AriZona, which makes flavored iced tea, and Stur, which creates flavored water.

    ARIZONA WATER ENHANCERS

    From the folks who make AriZona bottled teas, these water enhancers let you recreate your own diet AriZona in seven of the company’s most popular flavors: Arnold Palmer Half & Half, Arnold Palmer Strawberry Fruit Punch, Golden Bear Strawberry Lemonade, Lemon Tea, Mucho Mango and Peach Green Tea.

    Made with real tea and flavored with real juice and honey without artificial† colors or flavors, there is added sweetness from sucralose (marketed to consumers as Splenda).

    How can the enhancer have zero calories when juice and honey are ingredients? They have just a pinch to add flavor while keeping the calorie count less than 1%. If it’s less than 1%, the FDA allows the claim of calorie-free. (And by the way, it’s the same with any ingredient, including trans fats.)

    As of now, AriZona Water Enhancers are being sold at Walmart and online. They are expected to roll out to other distributors nationwide.

    The line is certified kosher by OU. For more information, visit DrinkArizona.com.

     

    STUR WATER ENHANCERS

    Stur is a water enhancer that adds flavor and vitamins. Instead of making iced tea like AriZona, it turns plain water into vitamin water.

    Flavors include Freshly Fruit Punch, Lemon Tea, Only Orange Mango,Purely Pomegranate Cranberry and Simply Strawberry Watermelon.

    The line is made with kosher ingredients but has not yet been certified kosher.

    Stur is an all-natural† product that supplies 100% DV of Vitamin C per serving, along with a blend of essential vitamins, including A, D, E, B3, B5, B6, B12.

    The company’s goal is to encourage Americans drink more water, by giving those who don’t like to drink a lot of water a “delicious way to hit those 8 glasses of water a day.”

    You can do more than enhance water:

  • Add to seltzer water for a carbonated beverage.
  • Make flavored milk or smoothies.
  • Top yogurt or sugar-free ice cream.
  •  

    strawberry-glass-230

    Just squeeze a drop into a water bottle or glass of water. Photo courtesy Stur.

     

    You can buy a variety pack on Amazon, and individual flavors on SturDrinks.com, where you can buy any five flavors for $19.95 (which make 90 eight-ounce servings).

    Get some for yourself, and put them on your stocking stuffer list.

     
    *Source: Huffington Post.

    †Stevia, the sweetening agent, is a natural product made from the leaf of the stevia plant. While stevia can be a highly processed product like sucralose, sucralose detractors point out that it is created by the addition of chlorine atoms to sucrose molecules. Here’s more information from the anti-sucralose resource.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Celebrate With A Spring Cocktail

    berry-fizz-tuaca-230

    Celebrate spring with a springlike cocktail. Photo courtesy Tuaca.

     

    We’re less than 24 hours into spring and contemplating a spring cocktail this evening—to celebrate both the arrival of spring and the end of the work week.

    The spring equinox occurred yesterday at 12:57 p.m. It begs for a little astronomy lesson about equinoxes and solstices, the days that mark the change of seasons.

    What’s An Equinox?

    During an equinox, the sun is closest to the Equator, the imaginary line around the Earth that is equidistant from the North and South Poles. On those days, night and day are approximately equally long. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin aequus, equal and nox, night.

    An equinox marks the beginning of spring and fall. To acknowledge the Southern Hemisphere, where the seasons are opposite, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are now being called the March and September equinoxes.

     
    What’s A Solstice?

    Solstices, on the other hand, occur when which the sun is furthest from the Equator and the difference in length between night and day is greatest. This creates the shortest day of the year, in December, and the longest day, in June. Solstices mark the beginning of winter and summer.

    Solstice means “sun-standing” from the Latin solstitium, literally, the apparent standing still of the sun (sol is sun, sistere is to stand still).

    O.K., you’ve studied hard. You deserve a spring cocktail. This one is courtesy of Courvoisier, one of our favorite Cognacs.

     
    RECIPE: COURVOISIBERRY COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 1 part Courvoisier VSOP or other Cognac
  • 1 part rum
  • 2 parts rosé wine
  • Exotic berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. Combine all ingredients, stir and serve in a wine glass over ice.

    2. Garnish with berries.

    3. Toast to spring!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cookies & Cream Cheesecake

    Some might think that we publish too many cheesecake recipes. But when cheesecake is one’s favorite comfort food, how many is too many?

    Plus, we need to get our last licks: “Cheesecake season” concludes at the end of spring. The dense cream cheese cheesecake we favor is too heavy for summer. So this may be our last recipe until fall.

    The recipe is from Lauryn Cohen, a.k.a. Bella Baker. Says Lauryn:

    “This is easily the best cheesecake I’ve ever made: a chocolate wafer cookie crust, a rich and creamy cheesecake layer, crushed Oreo cookies mixed into the silky batter and topped with a drizzle of chocolate ganache, chocolate whipped cream and more Oreo cookies.”

    We made it for National Oreo Day, March 6th.

    RECIPE: COOKIES & CREAM CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients

    For The Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies (reserve one cookie for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  •  

    Cookies & Cream cheesecake: a fusion of two favorites. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.

     

    For The Filling

  • 3 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature (Lauryn used two packaged of reduced fat and one package of regular; we used three packages of full fat organic cream cheese)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 15 mini Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped for the batter
  •  

    Save a chocolate wafer cookie to decorate
    the center. Photo courtesy Bella Baker.

     

    TOPPINGS

    For The Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter at room temperature, cut into 4 pieces
  •  
    For The Chocolate Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Approximately 25 mini Oreo cookies
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

    2. MIX melted butter with Oreo crumbs and sugar and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 5 minutes and set aside.

    3. BEAT cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high until fluffy, making sure that there are no clumps. Slowly add sugar and continue beating cream cheese until mixed well. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until blended. Add the vanilla, salt and milk; beat until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and beat until batter is satiny smooth. Stir in the coarsely chopped Oreo cookies with a spoon.

    4. POUR cream cheese mixture into the pan and bake for one hour and 15 minutes. After that time, turn oven off and keep oven door slightly open. Let the cheesecake stay in the oven for one hour. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

    5. MAKE the ganache: Place heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Place chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Once heavy cream has reached boiling pour half the heavy cream over the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds, then gently stir chocolate and cream together with a rubber spatula in a figure eight motion. Pour remaining heavy cream over chocolate and continue to gently stir. Add butter, one piece at a time, until ingredients are fully incorporated and the ganache is smooth and glossy.

    6. MAKE the chocolate whipped cream: Beat heavy cream on high speed for about 2-3 minutes. Once mixture has started to thicken, add add cocoa powder and sugar and continue beaten until whipped cream mixture has formed.

    7. GARNISH the chilled cake. Drizzle chocolate ganache over the top of the cake, in the grid pattern shown in the photo or in your own artistic interpretation. Pipe the chocolate whipped cream in mounds around the rim of the cake and in the center. Place one mini Oreo in each mound of whipped cream, and a chocolate wafer cookie in the center.

    While this recipe may seem over the top to some, you’ll note that it’s a relatively flat cake—torte-like, not like the often-found three-inch-high/four-inch-high New York cheesecake.

    So a slice is an indulgence, but not a jumbo indulgence.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: A Caramel Popcorn Pie For National Pi Day

    caramel-corn-pie-kaminsky-230

    Caramel custard popcorn pie with a caramel
    corn topping. Who can resist? Photo ©
    Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    March 14 is National Pi Day: 3.14 (get it?). And this is a very special National Pie Day: It’s 3.14. (actually, 3.14159265359, so next year will be the full-on Pi Day, 3.14.15). The next “double pi day” won’t be until March 14, 2114. So celebrate double pi day while you can.

    Food enthusiasts have co-opted the day as “pie” day—any excuse for a piece of pie! (And for this special year, two pieces of pie.)

    One of our favorite bakers, Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, developed this terrific fusion: caramel corn atop caramel custard pie.

    “For all the love that popcorn wins as a standalone snack,” says Hannah, “it strikes me as a huge failure of creativity that there aren’t more attempts at popcorn cupcakes, popcorn cookies or popcorn pies.

    “Luckily, with a bit of custard and caramel, this is a problem we can fix. In this pie, notes of burnt sugar compliment a buttery undertone, accented with a good pinch of salt. If you’re craving popcorn, it might be a wise idea to think inside the crust.”

    A tip from Hannah: The caramel corn topping takes a bit longer to bake than the pie itself, so your best bet is to prepare it in advance. Preheat the oven to 225°F and line a jellyroll pan with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat.

     
    Note that you will be making two four-cup batches of caramel corn: one for the custard pie filling and one for the topping (and extra snacking).
     
    RECIPE: HANNAH KAMINSKY’S CARAMEL CORN PIE

    Ingredients For 8 To 12 Servings

    For The Crunchy Caramel Corn Topping

  • 4 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/4 cup kernels—popping instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light agave nectar (or 1-1/3 tablespoons sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  •  
    For The Caramel Corn Pie Filling

  • 4 cups freshly popped popcorn (from about 1/4 cup kernels—popping instructions below)
  • 2-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon whole flaxseeds, ground
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  •  
    Plus

  • 1 unbaked pie crust
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the caramel corn (see popping tips below.) Then place the first four cups of popped corn in a large bowl near the stove.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, butter, agave and salt in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cook at a vigorous bubble while stirring continuously for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. It will foam and bubble angrily, but don’t just stand around and watch it: Make haste and pour the mixture all over the popcorn. Toss to coat each and every kernel, and spread the syrupy corn out in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet.

    3. BAKE for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. It will become perfectly crisp once cool, so despite the tempting aroma, resist the urge to take a bite until it reaches room temperature.

    4. REMOVE the popcorn from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 325°F.

    5. MAKE the custard filling by combining the second measure of popped corn with the milk in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 1 hour for the corn to soften and infuse into the liquid.

     

    popcorn-kernels-trio-230

    Sure, you could use pre-popped caramel corn. But for the freshest flavor, pop your own. Photo of heirloom popcorn kernels by Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE.

     
    6. TRANSFER the popcorn milk to a blender or food processor and thoroughly purée. Process at least 5 full minutes at high speed to break down the kernels as much as possible, longer if necessary. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing to get all the liquid out. Discard the solids.

    7. POUR the popcorn milk back into the medium saucepan and vigorously whisk in all the remaining ingredients for the filling. When perfectly smooth, turn on the heat to medium and bring to a boil while stirring continuously, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to prevent the mixture from burning. Once the mixture has thickened to the point that the bottom of the pan remains visible when you stir—without the filling immediately flowing back over the surface—turn off the heat and quickly transfer the filling to the unbaked pie shell.

    8. BAKE until the custard is set and browned on top, about 45-50 minutes. The center should still be a bit jiggly when tapped, much like a cheesecake. Let cool completely and top with a generous mound of the crunchy caramel corn topping before serving at room temperature.
     
    CORN POPPING INSTRUCTIONS

    1. PLACE the popcorn kernels in a medium-size brown paper bag. If you’re not sure if the bag is big enough, err on the side of caution and pop the corn in two separate batches. Use cellophane or masking tape to seal the bag shut, and put it in the microwave.

    2. SELECT the “popcorn” setting if available, or set the timer for 3½ minutes at full power.

    3. LISTEN carefully: When the popping slows to about once every 3 seconds, remove the bag. Open it very carefully, making sure your hands and face are out of the way—the steam can be quite hot. Sift out any unpopped kernels.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Popover Day

    popover-pan-chefs-catalog-230

    You can use a regular muffin pan to make
    popovers. Special popover pans, like the one
    above, have deeper wells and make a taller,
    more dramatic looking popover. Photo
    courtesy Chefs Catalog.

     

    March 10th is National Popover Day.

    Popovers are delicate, almost hollow “rolls” that majestically rise up over the tops of the pans they’re baked in, somewhat like a soufflé. Like a soufflé, they also collapse as they cool.They have outsides are crisp and brown, the interior soft and airy.

    In the U.K. they’re called Yorkshire pudding and are often served as a side with a slice of prime rib or other beef. In the U.S., they’re enjoyed as a substitute for a roll or biscuit and are often served at brunch with butter or jam (although neither is required).

    Popovers are not difficult to make. The only challenge is to serve them quickly, since as they cool they deflate. You can reheat them in the microwave. They won’t return to their original puffiness, but they’ll still be yummy.

    RECIPE: POPOVERS

    Ingredients For 12 Popovers

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt (not coarse salt)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Place one rack in the lower third position, topped with an empty baking sheet

    2. PLACE 1/2 teaspoon of butter into each well of a 12-well muffin pan; set aside.

    3. PLACE the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, eggs, milk, sugar and salt in a blender and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Turn off the blender, add the flour, replace the lid and blend until just smooth, about 30 seconds. Set the mixture aside in the blender. If you don’t have a blender, whisk thoroughly in a bowl.

    4. PLACE the muffin pan on the heated baking sheet in the oven, and bake until the butter sizzles, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the muffin pan and the baking sheet from the oven (you can place them on the stove top). Fill the wells of the muffin pan halfway with batter.

    5. RETURN the muffin pan and baking sheet to the oven. Note: After you do this, do not open the oven door at any time during the baking period! Bake until the popovers have puffed up and the tops are starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake until the popovers are golden brown all over, about 15 minutes more.

    6. REMOVE the muffin pan and baking sheet from the oven and place them on a wire rack. Remove the popovers from the pan and serve immediately.
     
    MAKE POPOVERS WITH ALTON BROWN

    Here’s a second popover recipe, from Alton Brown. Watch him make it in the video.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Oreo Day

    Today is National Oreo Day, honoring the world’s most popular cookie. We almost feel like ditching work to celebrate—with Oreo cheesecake, cookies and cream ice cream and an Oreo milkshake—and then running a marathon to work off the calories.

    However, we’re limiting ourselves to one Oreo-packed chocolate bar from Chocomize, a chocolate e-heaven where you can take your favorite type of chocolate bar (dark, milk, white) and top it with your favorite candies, nuts, spices and special luxuries (gold leaf, anyone?).

    You pay a base price for the bar ($4.50, or $6.50 for a heart shape), and then for each add-on topping—up to 5 selections from a menu of 90 options.

    If you don’t like to make choices, there are plenty of ready-made choices, like the Cookie Bar in the photo.

    In honor of National Oreo Day, Chocomize has two special offers running through March 10th:

  • FREE Oreo pieces. You can add Oreo cookie pieces for FREE to any chocolate bar you make.
  •  

    oreo-white-chocolate-230

    The popular Cookie Bar: Belgian white chocolate bar with Oreos and malted milk balls. Photo courtesy Chocomize.

     

  • FREE chocolate bar with $40 order. Any order of $40+ gets a FREE Cookie Bar with the code OREO. The Cookie Bar, one of Chocomize’s most popular, is Belgian white chocolate, cookie dough bits and Oreo cookie pieces.
  •  

    oreos-stack-froyo-230

    Imagine if lemon meringue had been the
    favorite flavor of Oreos! Photo courtesy
    Froyo.

     

    OREO HISTORY

    Oreos are 102 years old. According to Time magazine, the National Biscuit Company (later shortened to Nabisco) sold its first Oreo sandwich cookies to a Hoboken grocer on On March 6, 1912. They weren’t an original concept: Sunshine’s Hydrox cookies* (among others) preceded them in 1908.

    There were two original Oreo flavors: original (chocolate) and lemon meringue. The original was far more popular, and Nabisco discontinued lemon meringue in the 1920s.

    Today Oreo is the world’s most popular cookie, sold in more than 100 countries†. More than 450 billion Oreos have been sold to date.

    Yes, there were other chocolate sandwich cookies. But what made Oreos stand out was the thick, creamy filling invented by Sam J. Porcello, the principal food scientist at Nabisco. (He also created the “stuf” in Double Stuf Oreos and the chocolate-covered and white chocolate-covered Oreos. Now that’s bragging rights for generations of kids, grandkids and great-grands to come.)

     

    WHAT ABOUT THE DESIGN ON THE COOKIES?

    Nabisco says that an unnamed “design engineer” created the current Oreo design, which was updated in 1952‡. Other sources name him as William A. Turnier, who worked in the engineering department creating the dies that stamped designs onto cookies.

    Here’s the story of the design and its meaning.
     
    THE NAME IS A MYSTERY

    No one knows for certain the origin of the name “Oreo.” Some believe it was derived from the French word for gold, “or,” because the original packaging was mostly gold.

    The bigger curiosity to us is, in The Wizard Of Oz film, why did the guards at the castle of the Wicked Witch Of The West sing a chorus of “Oreo?”

     
    *The Oreo became kosher in 1998, when the lard in the original recipe was replaced with vegetable shortening. Prior to then, Sunshine Bakeries’ Hydrox cookies had long been the kosher alternative. But most people preferred the taste of Oreos, and Hydrox cookies were discontinued by Keebler in 2003.

    †In terms of sales, the top five Oreo-nibbling countries are the U.S., China, Venezuela, Canada and Indonesia. In some countries, like China, Nabisco’s parent company, Kraft, reformulated the recipe to appeal to local tastes, including green tea Oreos.

    ‡The current design replaced a design of a ring of laurels, two turtledoves and a thicker, more mechanical “Oreo” font.

      

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