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Archive for Food Holidays/History/Facts

TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Pancakes

Bacon Corn Griddle Cakes

Carrot Pancakes

Flavor Flours Book

[1] Bacon and corn griddle cakes from Recipe Girl—and here’s her recipe. [2] Carrot pancakes with salted yogurt, gluten free. Here’s the recipe from Jessica Koslow at Bon Appetite (photo Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott). [3] You don’t need to use wheat. Check out these flours (photo courtesy ).

 

September 26th is National Pancake Day. Normally, we’d make our favorite: buttermilk pancakes topped with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and chopped dill.

We’d love them with a topping caviar: We’ll have that daily when our ship comes in.

But until then, we’re not highbrow: Another favorite is chocolate pancakes with chocolate chips, topped with bananas and sour cream.)

Today’s tip is: Take a fresh look at pancakes.

Cultures around the world eat pancakes, both sweet and savory. Some have them as a main dish, some enjoy them as street food.

There are so many choices:
From Danish aebleskiver to Russian blini and latkes in Europe, to Chinese scallion pancakes and Japanese okonomiya, filled with shredded cabbage and other choices from shrimp to vegetables.

In Malaysia, apam balik—folded pancakes—are made with rice flour and stuffed with a sweet peanut filling.

In Somalia, anjero is a fermented, crepe-like pan bread made from sorghum and corn flowers. It looks like a thin pancake and is topped with sugar or beef. In South Africa, pannekoeke look like tacos, folded over with a popular filling of cinnamon custard and streusel.

The fold-over technique is also used in the cachapas of Colombia and Venezuela: corn pancakes folded over grated queso mano or mozarella, and grilled until melted.

Click the links above for the recipes.

Take a look at the different types of pancakes in our Pancake Glossary.

 
SAVORY PANCAKE TEMPLATE: CREATE YOUR OWN

1. SELECT a flour: buckwheat, chickpea, chestnut, coconut, corn, nut, oat, rice, sorghum, spelt, teff, wheat, whole grain, etc.

  • Explore: Here’s a terrific book on cooking and baking without wheat flour.
  • Mix the batter. Check online recipes to see if you need to alter proportions.
  •  
    2. ADD your favorite ingredients:

  • Proteins: bacon, cheese, ham, sausage (chicken, pork), roe, seafood
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, sage, thyme, etc.
  • Spices: cardamom, Chinese five spice, cinnamon/pumpkin pie spices, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, pepper, etc.
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, dried fruits, stone fruits, tropical fruits, etc.
  • Vegetables: cabbage, carrot, corn, onion/green onion, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.
  •  
    3. PICK your toppings:

  • Dairy: butter or compound [flavored] butter, from jalapeño to strawberry; crème fraîche, mascarpone, sour cream, yogurt
  • Sweet: honey, syrup
  • Garnish of choice: Bacon, crumbled or grated cheese, toasted nuts
  •  
    4. FRY and serve.

     
    THE HISTORY OF PANCAKES

    We love this article from National Geographic, and recommend it as a short read on the history of pancakes.

    Archaeologists have discovered grains on 30,000-year-old grinding tools, suggesting that Stone Age man might have been eating grains mixed with water and cooked on a hot rock.

    While the result not have looked like the modern crepe, hotcake, or flapjack, the idea was the same: a flat cake, made from batter and fried.

    Ancient Greeks and Romans ate pancakes topped with honey, and a Greek reference mentions toppings of cheese and sesame as well.

    These foods were not called pancakes, but the first mention of “pancake” in an English dictionary dates to the 16th century: a cake made in a pan.

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Flat as a pancake” has been a catchphrase since at least 1611.

    For the rest of the pancake’s journey to modern times, head to National Geographic.

      

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    RECIPE: Rum Punch For National Rum Punch Day

    September 20th is National Rum Punch Day. While the word “punch” conjures up a large bowl of drink, the word actually derives from the number five in Sanskrit and Hindi.

    THE HISTORY OF PUNCH

    Punch is a general term for a broad assortment of mixed drinks, made with or without alcohol. The word “punch” derives from the Hindi word, panch, from the Sanskrit is panchan, five.

    In India, panch was made from five different ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices and an alcoholic spirit; hence the name.

    Punch was “discovered” in India by the British sailors of the East India Company. The concept was brought to England in the early 17th century. From there it spread to other countries.

    While Western punch recipes generally contain fruit or fruit juice, fruit isn’t essential. Nor is an elegant punch bowl required: a pitcher is fine, and in many cases, it’s more practical.

    You can also make just one punch drink at a time. Here are two recipes for individual punch drinks—rum punch, of course, to celebrate National Rum Punch Day.

    For serving in tall glasses, get some fun straws.

    It’s hard to resist 144 cocktail umbrellas for $4.79, but we resisted.

    RECIPE: BACCARDI RUM PUNCH

    This classic rum punch uses two different types of rum: white and dark. If you don’t have both, use what you have.

    Because this recipe is in “parts,” you can make anything from a single glass to a party portion, without any calculations.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part Bacardi Superior (white rum)
  • ½ part Bacardi Select (dark rum)
  • ¼ part grenadine
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • ½ part cranberry juice
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ombine all liquid ingredients iIn a large container. Refrigerate until chilled and enjoy. If making a large batch, just before serving…

    2. POUR into a large punch bowl, stirring in ice. Garnish the bowl with floating lemon slices. Serve each glass with a lemon wheel.
     
    RECIPE: COCONUT RUM PUNCH

    This recipe, from Inspired By Charm, uses coconut rum and dark rum. No dark rum? Try it with all coconut rum.

     

    Rum Punch

    National Rum Punch Day

    Yellow Striped Straws

    [1] Grenadine and orange or yellow fruit juices create the “sunset” effect (photo courtesy Inspired By Charm). [2] Get out your Mason jars (photo courtesy The Blond Cook). [3] Tall drinks deserve a fun straw (photo courtesy Balloon Red).

     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 1 ounce dark rum, plus 1/2 ounce to splash on top
  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Garnish: lime slice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR into a glass the pineapple juice, orange juice, 1 ounce dark rum and 1 ounce coconut rum. Gently stir.

    2. SLOWLY POUR in a splash of grenadine. The grenadine will sink to the bottom to create the “sunset” coloration.

    3. ADD 1/2 ounce of dark rum to the top. Garnish with a slice of lime and serve.
     
     
    10 PUNCH MAKING TIPS

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 25+ Substitutes For Hamburger Buns

    National Cheeseburger Day is September 18th, so have fun with it.

    Instead of your personal standard, branch out and make your CB special. You can do it by using a different:

  • Ground meat or blend
  • Cheese
  • Condiment(s)
  • Toppings
  • Stuffing
  •  
    For inspiration in these areas (you might call it foodporn), check out CheeseAndBurger.com.
     
    But today’s tip is the easiest of all: Think outside the bun.

    So many different types of bread—plain or toasted—are waiting to cradle your burger.

    SUBSTITUTES FOR HAMBURGER BUNS

    What should you use instead of a hamburger bun? The easiest answer:

    Walk down the bread isle of your market and see what speaks to you. You’ll find more than enough yummy choices to re-envision your burger.

  • Bagel burger (garlic or everything) or simit burger
  • Baguette burger (or other French bread)
  • Brioche burger
  • Burger on rye
  • Challah burger
  • Cornbread burger
  • Croissant burger (great with pretzel croissants)
  • English muffin burger
  • Ezekiel 4:9 burger or Genesis 1:29 burger (both breads have lots of whole grains and legumes)
  • Focaccia burger
  • French toast burger
  • Garlic bread burger
  • Indian bread burger (chapati, dosa, naan, paratha, roti)
  • Italian bread burger
  • Nut bread burger
  • Olive bread burger
  • Pizza crust burger (a great use for leftover pizza dough)
  • Potato bread burger
  • Pumpernickel burger (add sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing for a burger version of the Reuben sandwich)
  • Pupusa burger (pupusa is a stuffed corn tortilla)
  • Onion roll burger (or other specialty roll)
  • Rustic loaf burger
  • Sourdough burger
  • Toast burger (toast white, whole wheat, whatever you have)
  • Wrap burger
  •  
     
    IF YOU WANT TO USE A DIFFERENT CHEESE…

    We second that motion! But don’t make an obvious switch among American, Cheddar and Swiss slices. Consider:

  • Blue
  • Brie or Camembert (the difference)
  • Feta
  • Flavored Cheddar (we love a burger with Cabot Chipotle, Garlic, Horseradish and Jalapeño Cheddars)
  • Fontina
  • Gouda
  • Gruyère
  • Jack or Pepperjack
  • Jarlsberg
  • Havarti or other butterkäse
  • Washed rind (“stinky”) cheese:* Epoisses, Muenster d’Alsace,† Limburger, Pont l’Eveque, Stinking Bishop, Taleggio
  •  
    ________________
    *It’s a personal thing, but we love stinky cheeses, both in general and in the way they complement the grilled, beefy aroma and taste of the burger. The aroma is not necessarily representative of the cheese. But the cheese is specifically crafted to create those earthy scents.

    †Munster d’Alsace, also called Alsatian munster and French munster (optional spelling muenster), has nothing in common with bland American munster, except that they are both cheeses.
    ________________

     

    Baguette Cheeseburger

    McBaguette

    Focaccia Cheeseburger

    Cheeseburger On Sourdough Bread

    Pita Burger

    English Muffin Burger

    [1] A baguette cheeseburger (photo courtesy Ian Warf | Pinterest). [2] In France, McDonald’s serves the McBaguette (photo McDonalds). [3] Try a hard roll, and don’t be afraid to go rectangular instead of round (photo courtesy Telepizza.de). [4] We love a burger on toasted sourdough bread (photo courtesy Omaha Steaks) [5] Pita: a natural pocket for your burger (photo courtesy Droolworthy Daily). [6] A natural: the English muffin burger (photo courtesy Thomas Breads).

     
    BURGER COOKING TIPS

  • Use fresh meat: The more freshly ground the meat is, the more tender and flavorful the burger.
  • Keep the meat cold. Patties will stay as juicy as possible when they’re cooked cold. Putting the patties in the fridge also helps to keep the flavor-carrying fat from dripping out.
  • Stop flipping! Flip only once: Constant turning will toughen and dry out the meat, and if you flip too soon, the burger will stick. Cook two minutes per side for rare, three for medium-rare, four for medium, and five for well-done.
  • Don’t press down on the burger! When a burger is pressed with a spatula, the juice is pressed out, taking all that moistness and flavor with it.
  • Move a cheeseburger. To add cheese, move the burger to the cooler side of the grill, top with cheese and cover the grill for a minute to let the cheese melt.
  •  
    Thanks to Crawford Ker of Ker’s Winghouse for these tips.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 10+ Uses For A Trifle Bowl

    English Trifle Bowl

    English Trifle Bowl

    Peanut Butter Trifle

    Homemade Edible Arrangement

    [1] A classic English trifle (photo courtesy JoyCooks.Blogspot.com). [1] This modern trifle combines peanut butter pudding and pretzels. [3] A good-for-you substitute. Move over, Edible Arrangements (photos #2 and #3 courtesy Pampered Chef).

     

    Trifles are one of the easiest desserts you can make—and impressive to present. Most of the ingredients are purchased ready-to-use, with only custard or other pudding requiring a few minutes of preparation.
     
    WHAT’S A TRIFLE?

    A trifle is a layered British dessert of fruit, sponge fingers or sponge cake soaked, custard, and a topping of whipped cream. Other ingredients can be added (gelatin/Jell-O, cookie crumbs) and the cake can be soaked in alcohol.
     
    TRIFLE HISTORY

    Trifle is an evolution of a fruit fool, a dessert that probably originated in 15th -century Britain. Puréed stewed fruit was swirled with sweet custard.

    The classic was (and is) gooseberry fool, but seasonal fruits—apples, berries, rhubarb—were also used.

    Other countries have their own versions that followed the British concept. In Italy, for example, zuppa inglese, a layering of liqueur-soaked sponge and custard, appeared in the late 19th century.

    The first known reference to a trifle appears in 1585 in a cookbook, The Good Huswifes Jewell. It was flavored with sugar, ginger and rosewater (a recipe for the well-do-do, as sugar and spices were costly).

    The trifle evolved to include a layer of crumbled biscuits (cookies) and alcohol-soaked sponge cake or sponge fingers (ladyfingers) as the bottom layer. Brandy, madeira, port and sherry were used to soak the sponge.

    When powdered gelatin* became available in 1845, a layer of fruit “jelly” was added to recipes.

    As was so common among the fashionable in Renaissance Britain, France, and other European countries, new foods engendered new styles of dishes and flatware. For trifles, a straight-sided pedestal glass bowl showed off the beauty of the layers.

    Today, many people prefer bowls without the pedestal (easier to store), and modern ingredient layers that range from layers of chocolate cake, peanut butter pudding, pretzels and Oreos.

    Glass bowls with or without a pedestal are used for other desserts and can also be repurposed. Anyone who owns a straight-sided glass bowl has already figured out how to use it for layered dips, layered salads (fruit, green, pasta) and as a fruit bowl.

    It can serve as anything from a bread basket (nice with muffins at brunch) to a chip bowl.

    Here are more ways to use a trifle bowl. Thanks to Pampered Chef for some of these ideas and photos.

     

    OTHER USES FOR A TRIFLE BOWL

  • Candle Holder. A trifle bowl can make a candle holder with lots of flair. Just place a flame-proof base inside the bowl, place a pedestal candle on top, then fill around the base with any festive decoration: pretty stones, marbles, nuts, wine corks, wood chips. TIP: For the dinner table, use an unscented candle.
  • Centerpiece. For fall, fill the bowl with apples, chestnuts, dried wheat, gourds, Indian corn, mini pumpkins or a combination (photo #4). For the holidays, use candy canes, ornaments, pine cones, or mini evergreen trees (photo #5). For summer: sand and seashells, topped by a starfish. With any season, you can also place that pedastel candle in the center.
  • Desserts. Nouvelle trifle: Think of how to expand beyond the classic. Butterscotch pudding and pretzel layers? Banana pudding and ‘Nilla Wafers? Oreos and whipped cream? Baked Alaska? It’s so much easier to layer the cake and ice cream. Use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue. Or create a stunning fruit salad, either in colored layers or like the one in photo #3.
  • Drinks. Serve party punch or even ice cold shrimp cocktail. It makes a great visual impact that doesn’t require any additional decoration. Beautifully presented food speaks for itself!
  • Flatware. For buffets, wrap the flatware in napkins and present them in the bowl.
  • Flower Vase. Grab a bouquet or two of your favorite blooms and arrange them in the bowl. To hide the stems, try filling the vessel with rocks, fruit, or even crushed ice. Not much of a florist? No worries: Decorating your table with a few vases that have the same flower in the same color creates a pretty, modern look.
  • Ice Bucket. Make it the centerpiece of your drink station. Mini bottles of wine or champagne look just plain adorable displayed in the bowl.
  • Parties. Fill them with anything, from candy to party favors.
  • Punch Bowl. A smaller punch bowl can contain a mocktail version for those who don’t want alcohol (photo #6).
  • Snacks. Chips, pretzels, Chex Mix, etc.
  •  
    What else?

    We look forward to your suggestions!
     
    ________________
    *Gelatin was first extracted by boiling animal bones, in 1682. But this laborious process was only undertaken in large kitchens with staff to prepare it. While gelatin is pure protein, it is colorless, flavorless and odorless, so it also needed to be enhanced for serving.

     

    Fall Centerpiece

    Christmas Centerpiece

    Trifle Bowl For Punch

    [4] Fall centerpiece. [5] Christmas centerpiece. [6] Punch bowl (all photos courtesy Pampered Chef).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Instead Of Cinco De Mayo, Celebrate September 16th…With Reposado Tequila

    Blue Nectar Reposado Tequila

    Tequila Manhattan Cocktail

    [1] Reposado tequila is the preferred type for celebrations [2] Distrito Federal is Manhattan cocktail that replaces the bourbon with tequila (all photos courtesy Blue Nectar Tequila).

     

    Many Americans look forward to celebrating Cinco de Mayo each spring. This relatively small Mexican holiday commemorates a regional battle in 1862, long after Mexican Independence was declared. More Americans celebrate it than Mexicans!

    Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.

    That honor goes September 16th, known as Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores, the town where the battle began). It’s the most popular holiday in Mexico.

    Here’s the scoop on Mexican Independence Day, commemorating the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1810.

    As with America’s Independence Day, the Mexican National Day of Independence is a patriotic holiday, with celebratory drinks, food and fireworks.

    Today’s tip: Wherever you live, celebrate Mexican Independence Day on the 16th.

    The folks at Blue Nectar Tequila tell us that the most popular type of tequila consumed in Mexico on national holidays is the more aged (and more expensive) Reposado, not the clear Blanco (a.k.a. silver or white tequila—here are the different types of tequila).

    Blanco is aged not at all or up to two months, while Reposado and Añejo tequilas are aged longer: Reposado for six months to a year, Añejo for one to three years. Aging gives layers of complexity to the spirit.

    While tequila was first produced in the 16th century by Spanish immigrants to Mexico, aged tequila styles such as Reposado and Añejo did not appear until the early 1900s.

    Some producers began to age their tequila in oak casks left over from red wine, brandy and rum that had been imported for consumption by the Spanish aristocracy.

    This stroke of genius changed the overall quality and taste of basic tequila, which at the time was raw-edged and without complexity.

    So today’s tip is: Celebrate September 16th by sipping a glass of Reposado or Añejo tequila, neat or on the rocks, enjoying the flavors with each sip.

    Or try one of the cocktails below, or this wonderful menu of tequila cocktail recipes.

     
    WHAT TO EAT WITH THE TEQUILA

    Reposado tequila has a woodsy quality that pairs well with beef-based, poultry and pork-type main dishes. (complementary flavors in recipes include orange, cinnamon and honey).

    Instead of America’s go-to grilled food for Independence Day, a favorite dish in Mexico is pozole, a classic soup made of hominy and pork.

    In modern times it’s also made with beef, chicken, seafood, or vegetables and beans. Here’s a selection of pozole recipes.

    For dessert, have churros or dark chocolate with Añejo tequila.

    And sure: Bring on the guacamole, salsa, chips and esquites—Mexican corn on the cob.
     
    COCKTAIL RECIPE #1: DISTRITO FEDERAL

    The classic bourbon-based Manhattan cocktail is the inspiration for this Mexican version, which is named after historic Mexico City, an area known as Distrito Federal.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Reposado or Añejo tequila
  • 1 ounce sweet red vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: brandied cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the spirits and bitters in a cocktail glass. Add ice and stir until cold, about one to two minutes.

    2. STRAIN into a coupe glass, garnish with the cherry and serve.

     

    COCKTAIL RECIPE #2: MEXIPOLITAN COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

    The vodka-based Cosmo is remade with Reposado teqila.

  • 4 lime quarters
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ½ ounces Reposado tequila
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • ¾ ounce orange liqueur
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: lime wheel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the lime quarters with the simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, orange liqueur and cranberry juice.

    2. TOP with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wheel.

     

    Tequila Cosmopolitan Cocktail

    [3] The Mexipolitan: A Cosmopolitan with tequila instead of vodka. Calling Carrie Bradshaw!

     

    FIND MORE DELICIOUS TEQUILA COCKTAIL RECIPES AT BLUENECTARTEQUILA.COM.
     
    ABOUT BLUE NECTAR TEQUILA

    Blue Nectar Tequila, is a hand-crafted, super-premium tequila that focuses on agave-forward flavor profiles.

    While by Mexican law Reposado must be aged a minimum of 2 months, Blue Nectar Reposado Extra Blend is aged 6-8 months and then blended with three-year-old Extra Añejo, to deliver hints of vanilla and smoke.

    For more information on the different expressions of Blue Nectar tequila, visit BlueNectarTequila.com.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Pizzeria Pronto Stovetop Pizza Oven

    September 5th is National Cheese Pizza Day, honoring the original modern pizza, the Margherita. It was named after Queen Margherita, consort to Umberto I, King of Italy from 1878–1900.

    As the story goes, during a visit to Naples, she asked the best pizza maker in town, Don Raffaele, to make her a pie. He made it in the colors of the Italian flag, a simple but delicious pie of basil, mozzarella and tomatoes. Here’s the history of pizza.

     
    WHAT’S A STOVETOP PIZZA OVEN?

    Simply this: a steel case that sits on top of a gas burner and cooks your pizza atop pizza stones. There’s no electricity, no wood chips, no nuthin’ but the Pizzeria Pronto and your gas range.

    We love it: from the pizza stones that create an oh-so-delightful crust to the top quality ingredients we used. As long as we have dough in the fridge, we can have a pizza anytime we want, better than anything delivered. efficient new way to make pizza at home.

    Pizzeria Pronto is made by Companion Group, a company that began more than 30 years ago with the original Charcoal Companion charcoal chimney starter. The line now includes other grilling tools and accessories, and the Pizzacraft® line of artisan-quality pizza stones, pizza ovens, tools and accessories.

    In 2013 the company launched the first propane-fueled outdoor portable pizza oven, which pre-heats in 10 minutes and cooks the pie in 5 minutes. In 2016, the indoor Pizzeria Pronto® Stovetop Pizza Oven was released nationwide—the first gas range-powered indoor oven.

    Small but mighty, Pizzeria Pronto transforms your favorite dough and toppings into perfectly-cooked pizzas in just minutes (after all, the name means “pizza in a hurry”). With its heat-efficient design, it traps and reflects heat to harness the power of your gas range, creating an optimal cooking environment of up to 600°F. Yet, the room is no warmer than if you used your oven.
     
    How To Use Pizzeria Pronto Stovetop Pizza Oven

  • Simply place the round oven over a gas burner and turn on the flame.
  • The inside of the oven reaches 600°F, much higher than a conventional oven.
  • It preheats in 15 minutes and cooks a personal-size pizza in 6 minutes. TIP: If you want to keep the first pizzas hot while you cook more, keep them warm in a conventional oven preheated to 500°F.
  • You also need a personal-size pizza peel to insert and remove the pizza from the oven. The company sells one separately.
  •  
    The electric plug-in pizza ovens we’ve tried can’t hold a candle to it.

    It’s well worth the space it requires if you’d like to make pizza weekly or more often. We don’t have extra room in our kitchen so we did a bit of housecleaning. So long, old backup food processor and biannually-used waffle iron.
     
    WHERE TO FIND IT

    Pizzeria Pronto is available at major retailers such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and online. Williams-Sonoma carries a gray-top model instead of the standard red-orange model shown in the photos.

    Prices vary but it’s currently $106.27 on Amazon (a deep discount off the MSRP of $179.99).

     

    Pizzeria Pronto

    Pizzeria Pronto

    Pizzeria Pronto

    Pizzeria Pronto

    [1] Place the oven on the stovetop and turn up the flame to preheat. Add the pizza. [2] Close the oven door. [3] Cook for six minutes. [4] Remove the pizza, fragrant and bubbling. Photos courtesy Pizzeria Pronto .

     
    Before buying, take a minute to look at the bottom of this page to see if your gas burners will work.

    OUR FIRST PIZZERIA PRONTO PARTY

    We invited the crowd over for a pizza party and bought (or over-bought, as is our won’t) the ingredients: regular and whole wheat doughs, sauces and cheeses for red and white pies.

    We provided lots of toppings: anchovies, garlic, jalapeños, mini meatballs, mushrooms, olives, onion and zucchini. But the crust (dough purchased from Fairway), sauce (the Classico brand Riserva line [not Bertolli Riserva]), mozzarella and ricotta (Bel Gioso) were so good that most people opted for a plain pie.

    We personally, however, had anchovies from Cento: not salty, just right.
     
    FEATURES & TIPS

    Features

  • Steel casing with a heat-efficient design (you won’t feel that it’s 600° of heat).
  • Ttwo Cordierite baking stones diffuse the heat and deliver a perfect crust.
  • Very little assembly required. You need no technical skill whatsoever.
  • The built-in thermometer tells you when it’s time to add the pizza.
  • A moisture vent on top prevents the crust pizza from becoming soggy.
  • Dimensions: 16.93 inches x 14.25 inches x 6.69 inches. Weight: 14.7 pounds, which we (non-athletic female) had no trouble lifting.
  • Not for use with electric or induction stoves.
  •  
    Tips

  • You’ll need cornmeal (semolina), so the bottom of the crust doesn’t stick to the stone plate.
  • Be sure to have a good pizza cutter and a brush to clean the pizza stone afterward.
  • One package of store-bought dough (we bought the fresh dough that comes in a plain plastic bag), meant for one large pie, makes two personal pizzas.
  •  
    HAVE FUN WITH IT!

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Ice Pops For National Blueberry Popsicle Day

    Blueberry Ice Pops

    Blueberry Cream Ice Pops

    [1] Puréed blueberries, perked up with a bit of lemon juice (photo courtesy Will Cook For Smiles). [2] Make a creamy blueberry pop with yogurt or non-dairy milk (photo courtesy A Healthy Life For Me). Here’s the recipe with almond and coconut milks; the recipe for a yogurt pop is below.

     

    September 1st is National Blueberry Popsicle Day, following close on the heels of National Cherry Popsicle Day, August 24th.

    Here’s the history of Popsicles (a happy accident!).

    But the name of the holidays needs to be changed. The Popsicle® brand doesn’t make blueberry Popsicles (here are the current flavors), for starters.

    Regardless of the flavor, only Unilever can call its ice pops Popsicles.

    Well sure, you can call it Popsicle for your own private use; but try to give brands the respect they deserve. Call them ice pops instead of Popsicles®, a slow cooker instead of Crock-Pot®, a food processor instead of Cuisinart®, tissues instead of Kleenex® and lip balm instead of Chapstick® (and on and on).

    Anyone can make or sell blueberry ice pops. And making them couldn’t be easier.

    RECIPE: EASY BLUEBERRY ICE POPS

    Ingredients

    First, chose what kind of blueberry you’ll use: blueberry juice, fresh or frozen blueberries. See the conversion table below.

  • 24 ounces blueberry juice (our favorite is Knudsen)
  • 1 pound bag frozen blueberries, puréed*
  • 1-2 pints fresh blueberries, puréed*
  •  
    Sweetener

    Next, choose your sweetener. These are pretty low caloric pops if you use non-caloric sweetener or agave (you need only half the amount of agave, as it’s twice as sweet).

  • Agave
  • Granulated (table) sugar
  • Honey
  • Non-caloric sweetener (the different types of sweeteners)
  • Simple syrup
  •  
    Plus

  • 1/3 cup water
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice (add a 3:1 ratio of juice to zest if you like)
  • Ice pop molds or paper cups with sticks or plastic spoons
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING bring the sugar (or other sweetener) and the water to a boil in a small sauce pan over high, stirring until the sugar (or other sweetener) dissolves. Transfer to a large measuring cup or other container and refrigerate for 30 minutes, until cool. If using blueberry juice, it may be sweet enough to avoid this step. Taste and decide.

    2. COMBINE the blueberry juice or puréed blueberries with the lemon or lime juice. Add the sweetener/water mix to taste. (The juice may need far less sweetening than the fresh or frozen berries.)

    3. STIR thoroughly and pour into ice pop molds. Freeze for 4-6 hours, with the mold tops on. If you’re not using ice pop molds with built-in handles, insert a stick into each mold after 1 or 2 hours when it can stand up straight.

    4. RUN the molds under warm water to release the pops for serving.
     

    BLUEBERRY CONVERSION MEASUREMENTS

    These measurements are from CooksInfo.com. Volume equivalents will vary based on size of the berries.

    Depending on how many pops you’re making and how many ounces are in each mold, determine how much fruit you need:

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries = 2 cups
  • 1 pound bag frozen berries = 3-1/2 cups
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries = 9 oz
  •  

    RECIPE: YOGURT & BLUEBERRY POPS

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tables honey or other sweetener (see list above
  • 2 cups vanilla or blueberry Greek yogurt (or any flavor)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the blueberries and sweetener together (see footnote below).

    2. POUR into a large bowl, add the yogurt mix gently: For a swirled effect, use a spatula to make swirls in the bowl. You can also add the yogurt first, then the blueberries, to get a half-and-half effect in photo #2, above. Otherwise, combine thoroughly for a lighter purple pop.

    3. TASTE and adjust sweetener if desired, then pour into the molds or cups. Freeze for 4-6 hours, with the mold tops on. If you’re not using ice pop molds with built-in handles, insert a stick into each mold after 1 or 2 hours when it can stand up straight.

    4. RUN the molds under warm water to remove the pops.

     

    Blueberry Yogurt Pops Recipe

    [3] Don’t have ice pop molds? Use paper cups and sticks or plastic spoons. But ice pop moles are inexpensive. If you enjoy making pops, treat yourself to a set.

    ________________
    *To purée, place the berries in a food processor or blender and blend on high speed until the consistency of a smoothie.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12 Ways To Use Toasted Marshmallows

    National Toasted Marshmallow Day is August 30th—not a day of the year that begs for a steaming cup of cocoa.

    So we put on our thinking toques to see how to best use toasted marshmallows in the summer, and how to to toast them without a campfire or fireplace.
     
    USE TOASTED MARSHMALLOWS FOR…

  • S’mores, of course, or a variation. Check out these S’mores recipes and variations other than graham crackers. (National S’mores Day is August 10th).
  • Cocktail garnish for a Black or White Russian, Chocolate Martini, Espresso Martini, Irish Cream Liqueur.
  • Cookie or brownie sandwich.
  • Cupcake, cake, pie, pudding or tart garnish (make an easy tartlet with lemon curd).
  • Grilled marshmallow and fruit skewers.
  • Iced coffee, iced latte, iced hot chocolate.
  • Ice cream or sundae topping.
  • Milkshakes.
  • Peanut butter toast: Top toast with PB and marshmallows, and chocolate if you like!
  • Shots, with marshmallow vodka (made by Pinnacle, Skyy and Smirnoff).
  • Sweet potato garnish.
  • Toasted “Fluffernutter” sandwich, replacing the fluff.
  •  
    PLEASE ADD TO THIS LIST!

    And remember: There’s marshmallow goodness beyond Campfire and Jet-Puffed. Check out gourmet marshmallows.

    Vegan? There are delicious vegan marshmallows from Dandies, all delicious.
     
    TOASTING MARSHMALLOWS WITHOUT A FIREPLACE

    Even if you have a fireplace, you sure don’t want to light it up today.

    Who needs a fireplace—or a campfire? There are other ways to toast marshmallows.

  • On a stove: If you have a gas stove, you can toast the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown—about a minute, depending on how “toasty” you like it.
  • With a candle, an unscented one. Turn down the lights for romance.
  • For best results, hold the marshmallow about two inches away from the flame and turn it continuously. This way, the marshmallow will melts from the inside out and brown evenly.
  • A fondue fork is ideal for toasting because it has a protective handle, but impaling the marshmallow on the tip of a regular fork works, too. You can use skewers, as well; bamboo skewers will not heat up and are easier to hold. You’ll need to soak them first, though, so they won’t catch fire!
  • Avoid toasting over Sterno: The marshmallows will smell and taste of it. A votive candle will work, and if you’re having guests, you can put a votive at each place setting.
  •  
    The Fastest Way To Toast A Batch Of Marshmallows:

  • The Broiler! Place the marshmallows on a baking sheet and set the oven to Broil. When one side is at your desired tastiness, turn them over. If the marshmallows are not browning evenly, rotate the pan.
  •  

    Chocolate Martini With Toasted Marshmallow Garnish

    Toasted Marshmallow Garnish on Milkshake

    Toasted Marshmallow Garnish

    [1] The best garnish for a Chocolate Martini? A toasted marshmallow—and maybe a rim of graham cracker crumbs (that’s a S’mores Martini). Here’s the recipe from Eclectic Recipes. [2] Serve a toasty marshmallow with a cool shake. Here’s the recipe from Honey and Birch. [3] Garnish any dessert or sweet snack, like this cupcake from Cake Boss Baking.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Treats For Banana Lovers

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    Banana Split

    Banana Hot Fudge Sundae

    Bunch of Bananas

    [1] A grilled banana split: no need for a special banana split dish (photo courtesy Pampered Chef). [2] Another presentation from Women’s Day. Here’s their recipe. [3] Fusion food: a grilled banana hot fudge sundae (photo courtesy Weber). [4] The world’s most popular fruit (photo Nathan Ward | SXC)!

     

    Who doesn’t love a banana? It’s the world’s most popular fruit. Some 25 pounds of bananas are consumed per capita each year.

    In the U.S., more bananas are consumed than oranges and apples combined! And August 27th is National Banana Lovers Day.

    Bananas were introduced to the U.S. in 1880. By 1910, bananas were so popular that cities—which then lacked sanitation systems—had a problem disposing of the banana peels.

    People were literally slipping on banana peels that were discarded on sidewalks and streets (a reality appropriated by comedians), leading to injuries. The Boy Scout Handbook recommended picking up banana peels from the street as a Scout’s good deed of the day (source).
     
    MORE BANANA TRIVIA

  • Man has been growing bananas for some 10,000 years, since the dawn of agriculture. It’s the oldest cultivated fruit.
  • Bananas don’t grow on trees: The banana plant is actually the world’s largest herb. It’s a cousin to ginger and vanilla.
  • There are more than 1,000 varieties of bananas. The majority grow in Africa and Asia: 600 varieties in India alone.
  • The American supermarket banana is a variety called the Cavendish. It’s a more bland banana, but it travels well.
  • Bananas float in water (so do apples)!
  •  
    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BANANA RECIPE?

    Banana Bread? Banana Cream Pie? Banana Daiquiri? Banana French Toast? Banana Ice Cream? Banana Pudding? Peanut Butter and Bananas?

    We say YES! to all, but today are focusing on two: the kid favorite Banana Split and the over-21 Bananas Foster.
     
    BANANA SPLIT HISTORY

    Two towns in the U.S. lay claim as the home of the banana split.

  • In 1904 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, David Strickler, a 23-year-old druggist’s apprentice at Tassel Pharmacy is said to have created the first banana split sundae for the local college crowd.
  • In 1907 in Wilmington, Ohio, restaurateur Ernest R. Hazard held a dessert contest among his employees at The Café. One came up with a sundae of sliced banana topped with three scoops of ice cream, chocolate syrup, strawberry jam, pineapple bits, chopped nuts, whipped cream and cherries.
  •  
    Fortunately for the rest of us, the concept spread nationwide, affording all of us the joy of a Banana Split.

    RECIPE: GRILLED BANANA SUNDAE

    Banana splits are easy to make: Split a ripe banana vertically, place it in a long dish, top with three scoops of ice cream (traditionally vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) and toppings of choice. (You can get Anchor Hocking banana split dishes for about $2 each.)

    Here’s a twist: a grilled banana sundae, a cross between the classic and Bananas Foster. In the latter, bananas are caramelized in butter with brown sugar and cinnamon, then topped with dark rum and flambéed, with the bananas and the flaming sauce served over vanilla ice cream.

    We’ve included a Bananas Foster recipe below. The recipes are very similar, except that for Bananas Foster, the bananas are sautéed in butter instead of grilled; and alcohol is added to the caramel sauce. The banana is typically sliced in half lengthwise and crosswise.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 firm, ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup fudge sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a grill pan over medium heat for 5 minutes.

    2. CUT the bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise for a total of 4 pieces each. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in shallow dish. Gently coat the bananas with the sugar mixture.

    3. SPRAY the grill pan lightly with vegetable oil and add the banana pieces, cut sides down. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side or until grill marks appear.

    4. SERVE warm with ice cream, ice cream topping and almonds.
     

     

    RECIPE: BANANAS FOSTER

    The original Bananas Foster recipe was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé (1900 to 1977), the Executive Chef at Brennan’s in New Orleans. The dish of sautéed bananas, flambéed and topped with ice cream, was named in honor of Richard Foster, a regular customer and friend of restaurant owner Owen Brennan Sr.

    Note that while both the recipes above and the original Bananas Foster cut the bananas into oblong pieces (see photo above), we prefer the round slices of banana, about 3/4-inch thick.

    While igniting the dish tableside is dramatic both at a restaurant and at home, it isn’t necessary.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 firm, ripe bananas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup banana liqueur
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • Optional garnishes: toasted chopped pecans, grated orange zest
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise for a total of 4 pieces each (alternative: cut 3/4″ rounds; you’ll have more than 4 pieces).

    2. MELT the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes—this creates a caramel sauce). Add the bananas and cook on both sides until they begin to soften and brown (about 3 minutes).

    3. ADD the banana liqueur and stir to blend into the caramel sauce. If you want to flambé, follow the instructions below. However, the drama of the flambé works only if the dish is prepared tableside. Otherwise, the drama is lost in the kitchen (the flame extinguishes quickly).

    4. LIFT the bananas carefully from the pan and top the four dishes of ice cream; then spoon the sauce over the ice cream and bananas and serve immediately.
     
    TIPS ON HOW TO FLAMBÉ

  • Liquors and liqueurs that are 80-109 proof are best to ignite. Don’t use a higher proof; it is highly flammable.
  • The liquor must be warmed to 130°F before adding to the pan. Higher temperatures will burn off the alcohol, and it won’t ignite.
  • Always remove the pan from the heat source before adding the liquor to avoid burning yourself.
  • Vigorously shaking the pan usually extinguishes the flame, but keep a pot lid nearby in case you need to smother the flames. The alcohol vapor generally burns off by itself in a matter of seconds.
  •  
    MORE

  • Read these tips
  • Watch this video
  •  

    Bananas Foster

    Bananas Foster

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    [1] Bananas Foster at the Bonefish Grill, looking like a more complex Banana Split. [2] It’s harder to sauté a lengthwise half of banana without breaking it. Hence, the suggestion of slicing lengthwise and crosswise (photo Fotolia). [3] This recipe from Taste Of Home slices the bananas into coin shapes (a.k.a. chunks), easier to salute.

     
    READY FOR A DRINK?

    Relax with a Banana Colada.

      

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    RECIPE: Make Cherry Ice Pops For National Cherry Popsicle Day

    Cherry Juice Ice Pops

    Cherry Yogurt Ice Pops

    Twin Popsicle

    [1] Frozen cherry juice ice pops in Tovolo molds. [2] Greek yogurt and cherry ice pops from ChooseCherries.com. [3] The first Popsicle was a single: one pop, one stick. Then came the twin Popsicle to share with a friend (photo courtesy Popsicle).

     

    August 26th is National Cherry Popsicle Day. First, a bit of law:

    Popsicle® is a registered trademark of Unilever, which owns the brand. Any other frozen juice on a stick is a generic “ice pop.” Now…
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE POPSICLE

    In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson mixed together a fruit drink (believed to be orange-flavored) from powder and water and inadvertently left it on the porch. It was an unseasonably cold night in the San Francisco suburbs, and when Frank found his drink the next morning, it was frozen.

    He eased the frozen liquid out of the glass and, holding it by the stirrer, ate it. While Frank may have enjoyed his frozen fruit drink over the years, the public story doesn’t continue until 1923.

    A 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry, Frank made what he called Epsicles for a fireman’s ball. They were a sensation, and Frank obtained a patent for “a handled, frozen confection or ice lollipop.” His kids called the treat a Popsicle, after their Pop.

    So Frank created the Popsicle Corporation and collaborated with the Loew’s chain of motion picture theaters for the nationwide marketing and sales of the product in movie theaters. By 1928, Epperson had earned royalties on more than 60 million Popsicles.

    But his happy days ended with the Great Depression. In 1929, flat broke, Frank had to liquidate his assets and sold the patent to, and his rights in, the Popsicle Corporation. Following three more corporate sales over the years, Popsicle® and the other “sicles” are now part of Unilever’s Good Humor Division.

    While the record isn’t clear, Frank may also have invented the twin Popsicle, with two sticks. The concept was that it could be broken in half and shared by two children.

    Over the years, the Popsicle Corporation continued to create frozen treats on a stick, including:

  • The Fudgsicle, a chocolate-flavored pop with a texture somewhat similar to ice cream.
  • The Creamsicle, vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet.
  • The Dreamsicle, vanilla ice milk with orange sherbet (now discontinued).
  •  
    In additional to National Creamsicle Day on August 25th, there’s National Creamsicle Day on August 14th.

    We’ve got three different ways for you to make cherry ice pops. The first couldn’t be easier: Just freeze cherry juice.

    Pick a recipe and get out the ice pop molds.

     
    RECIPE #1: THE EASIEST CHERRY ICE POPS: FROM CHERRY JUICE

    Ingredients

  • 1 32-ounce bottle Montmorency cherry juice (see note)
  • Optional inclusion: 1/8 to 1/4 cup fresh mint or basil, cacao nibs, lemon zest, pitted fresh or frozen cherries
  • Variation: Mix with lemonade or limeade to taste; for a diet pop, use 1/3 or more Crystal Light lemonade or cherry pomegranate
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the cherry juice into ice pop molds and freeze for 6 hours. If using inclusions, add them when the juice turns to slush, stirring each mold with a chopstick or other tool to distribute the ingredients.

    NOTE: Ice pop molds vary in size, often from 2.5 to 4 ounces, and from 6 to 8 pops. A 32-ounce bottle of juice, or concentrate reconstituted to that amount, should cover all bases.
     
    RECIPE #2: CHERRY POPS FROM FROZEN CHERRIES

    Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen tart cherries
  • Sugar to taste
  • Optional: fresh mint, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the frozen cherries in a blender. Taste and add sugar as desired.

    2. ADD the optional mint, process and pour into ice pop molds.
     
    RECIPE #3: GREEK YOGURT & CHERRY ICE POPS

    This recipe was published with permission from Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure, by Matt Kadey, RD, via ChooseCherries.com.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey (more to taste)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1-1/4 cups Montmorency tart cherry juice
  • Juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Variation: coconut milk instead of yogurt (see recipe)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together yogurt, honey, and lime zest. In a separate bowl, stir together the cherry juice, lime juice, and mint.

    2. SPOON two alternate layers of the yogurt and cherry mixtures into each popsicle mold. Insert the sticks into the molds and freeze until solid, about 6 hours. They will keep in the freezer for 2 months.

    3. UNMOLD: Run the mold under warm water for a few seconds, being careful not to thaw the pops.

      

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