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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: BLT Avocado Burger

May is National Burger Month. We usually default to our list of 35+ burger recipes—at least one variation for every day of the month.

But we’re calling out this Grilled Avocado BLT Burger from the California Avocado Commission, because it has all of our favorite “essential” toppings. Our idea of burger heaven includes avocado, bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and tomato.

This isn’t the fastest recipe to prepare, because all the components are homemade. But if your palate is like ours, it’s worth pulling out all the stops—especially on a holiday weekend when there’s more time.

RECIPE: BLT AVOCADO BURGERS

Ingredients For 6 Burgers
 
For The Caramelized Chipotle Onions

  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle or other chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  •    

    Grilled-Avocado-BLT-Burger-californiaavocado-230ps

    Our favorite burger recipe has it all: avocado, bacon, blue cheese, caramelized onions and tomato. Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

     
    For The Blue Cheese Spread

  • 6 1/2 ounce light garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese
  • 4 ounces Point Reyes blue cheese or other favorite blue cheese, crumbled
  •  
    For The Burger Patties

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1/3 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup Zinfandel or other hearty red wine
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano, thyme, and basil (in any combination)
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Chipotle or other chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons spicy seasoned salt (like chipotle sea salt)
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing on the grill rack
  •  
    For The Grilled Avocado

  • 12 fresh avocado slices
  • Balsamic vinegar, for brushing on the avocado slices
  • Spicy seasoned salt, for sprinkling on the avocado slices
  • 12 bacon slices, pre-cooked
  • 6 rolls of choice, split (we prefer brioche or whole grain rolls)
  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 6 large tomato slices (1/4-inch thick)
  •  

    original-blue-crackers-230

    Point Reyes blue cheese, made north of San Francisco, is a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. We can’t get enough of it (and all of the creamery’s products).

     

    Preparation

    Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.

    1. MAKE the caramelized onions: Combine the onion, pepper sauce, broth, vinegar, oil, garlic and brown sugar in a 10-inch nonstick, fire-proof skillet. Cover with a lid and place on the grill rack. Cook the onion mixture for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized and most of the liquid is evaporated. Remove the pan and set aside.

    2. MAKE the cheese spread: Combine the cheeses in a fire-proof saucepan, cover and set aside.

    3. MAKE the patties: Combine the chuck, sirloin, onion, Zindandel, herbs, pepper sauce and seasoned salt in a large bowl. Handling the meat as little possible to avoid compacting it, mix well. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form into patties to fit the rolls. When the grill is ready…

    4. BRUSH the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover and cook, turning once until done to preference (5 to 7 minutes on each side for medium). Meanwhile…

     
    5. PLACE the saucepan with the cheese spread on the outer edge of the rack to warm the cheese mixture, just until it reaches a very soft, spreadable consistency. Remove the the saucepan from the grill and set aside. During the final minutes of grilling the patties…

    6. BRUSH the avocado slices with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with a seasoned salt. Arrange on a rimmed nonstick perforated grilling pan coated lightly with oil, and grill alongside the patties for 1 to 2 minutes, turning as necessary.

    7. ADD the bacon slices to the pan during the final 30 seconds of grilling the patties. When the avocados are nicely grilled and the bacon is crisp, remove from the grill. When the patties are cooked, remove from the grill, stacking to keep them warm.

    8. PLACE the rolls, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.

    9. ASSEMBLE the burgers: Spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture over the cut sides of the rolls. On each roll bottom, place a lettuce leaf, a tomato slice, a patty, an equal portion of the caramelized onions, 2 avocado slices and 2 bacon slices. Add the roll tops and serve.

    It’s worth the effort!

    Tips To Make A Better Burger

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Classic Cheese Soufflé

    comte-Souffle-comte-USAfb-230L

    A cheese soufflé, golden, fragrant, cheesy and hot. Photo courtesy Comté USA.

     

    Today is National Cheese Soufflé Day.

    We spent most of our 20’s making soufflés, both sweet (chocolate, vanilla, fruit) and savory (cheese, fish, spinach). The frenzy with which we turned them out was, in retrospect, our own mash-up of Julie & Julia and Groundhog Day.

    Modern soufflés were developed in France in the 18th century. The cheese soufflé, initially one course of a larger meal, evolved in modern times to a light main course, served with a green salad and a glass of rosé or white wine.

    To make a cheese soufflé, grated cheese is mixed into a béchamel (a type of white sauce).

    In the course of making cheese soufflés over and over again, we tried different cheeses, from Comté and Gruyère to Cheddar and Stilton. The cheese you prefer will depend on how mild or sharp you like your cheeses, but start with Comté or Gruyère, two French basics.

     
    There are a few “givens”:

  • You need a straight-sided soufflé dish.
  • You need to butter the entire inside thoroughly so the soufflé will rise evenly instead of sticking.
  • After you butter the dish, coat the butter with grated Parmesan or bread crumbs; then turn the dish upside down and tap out the extra crumbs. It’s just like buttering and flouring a cake pan.
  • You can make an optional collar from parchment or foil, and tie it around the dish with kitchen twine. This enables the soufflé to rise up perfectly, but it isn’t essential unless you’re really aiming to impress picky gourmets.
  • Always place the rack in the center of the oven before preheating.
  •  
    The following recipe uses a 10-cup soufflé dish or six individual ramekins (individual soufflé dishes).
     
    RECIPE: CHEESE SOUFFLÉ

    Ingredients For 4 to 6 Side Servings Or 2 Mains

  • Grated Parmesan cheese and softened butter for soufflé dish
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter for the béchamel (white sauce)
  • 5 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons, packed)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 large egg whites
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the rack in the center of oven and preheat to 400°F. Generously butter one 10-cup soufflé dish or six 1-1/4-cup ramekins. Sprinkle the dish(es) with Parmesan cheese to coat and tap out the extra. If using ramekins, place all six on a rimmed baking sheet for easy removal from the oven.

    2. MELT the half stick of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Cook without browning until the mixture begins to bubble, whisking constantly, about 1 minute.

    3. GRADUALLY WHISK in the milk, then the wine. Whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth, thick and beginning to boil, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    4. BLEND the egg yolks, salt and pepper in small bowl. Add the yolk mixture all at once to the white sauce and whisk quickly to blend. Fold in the Gruyère and the Parmesan cheeses (the cheeses do not need to melt—they’ll melt in the oven).

    5. BEAT the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer, until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into the [lukewarm] cheese base to lighten. Fold in the remaining egg whites.

     

    sancerre_rose_Wine-thor-wiki-230ps

    Rosé is our favorite wine with a cheese soufflé. Photo by Thor | Wikimedia

     

    6. TRANSFER the soufflé mixture to the buttered dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Gruyère.

    7. PLACE the soufflé in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 375°F. Bake the soufflé until puffed, golden and gently set in center—about 40 minutes for the large soufflé or 25 minutes for the ramekins.

    8. REMOVE the baked soufflé with oven mitts to a heatproof platter (or individual plates for the ramekins), and serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Crisp, Crumble, Cobbler ~ The Difference

    peach-cobbler-zulkasugarFB-recipe-230sq

    Peach cobbler: The biscuit dough dropped
    on top resembles cobblestones. Photo
    courtesy Zulka Sugar.

     

    Do you know the difference between a cobbler, a crisp and a crumble? Have you ever had a betty, bird’s nest pudding (a.k.a. crow’s nest pudding), buckle, grunt, pandowdy or slump?

    There are many kinds of baked fruit desserts, from the simplest—cored fruits, baked or roasted—to pies and tarts, which cradle the baked fruit between one or two crusts.

    But one group of recipes gets confusing: deep dish baked fruit, made in pans or casseroles. There’s no crust, per se; but each variety is distinguished by its topping.

    These desserts can be made with any type of fruit, but are typically made with apples, berries or stone fruits—cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums.

    In observance of National Cherry Cobbler Day, May 17th, we explain the differences among the different baked fruit dishes.

    Baked in early American kitchens, these dishes were simple to make, using seasonal fruits, flour and sugar. According to What’s Cooking America, colonists often served them for breakfast, as a first course or even a main course. It was not until the late 19th century that they were served primarily as desserts.

     
    PAN-BAKED FRUIT DISHES

  • BETTY, or brown betty, alternates layers of fruit with layers of buttered bread crumbs. Some modern recipes use graham cracker crumbs.
  • BIRD’S NEST PUDDING is a bit different: A pan of fruit is covered with a batter that bakes into an uneven top with the fruit poking through. It’s served in a bowl topped with heavy cream and spices.
  • BUCKLE, very similar to the French clafoutis (often spelled clafouti in the U.S.), adds fruit, usually berries, to a single layer of batter. When baked, it becomes a cake-like layer studded with berries. It is topped with a crumb layer (streusel), which gives it a buckled appearance. Alternatively, the cake, fruit and crumbs can be made as three separate layers.
  • COBBLER has a pastry top instead of a crumb top. Biscuit pastry is dropped from a spoon, the result resembling cobblestones.
  •  

  • CRISP is a deep-dish baked fruit dessert made with a crumb or streusel topping. The crumbs can be made with bread crumbs, breakfast cereal, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, flour or nuts.
  • CROW’S NEST PUDDING is another term for bird’s nest pudding. In some recipes, the fruit is cored, the hole filled with sugar, and the fruit wrapped in pastry.
  • CRUMBLE is the British term for crisp.
  • GRUNT is a spoon pie with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit. Stewed fruit is steamed on top of the stove, not baked in the oven. The recipe was initially an attempt to adapt the English steamed pudding to the primitive cooking equipment available the Colonies. The term “grunt” was used in Massachusetts, while other New England states called the dish a slump.
  • PANDOWDY or pan dowdy is a spoon pie made with brown sugar or molasses. It has a rolled top biscuit crust that is broken up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to seep up. It is believed that the name refers to its “dowdy” appearance. Sometimes it is made “upside down” with the crust on the bottom, and inverted prior to serving.
  • SLUMP is another word for grunt.
  •  

    crumble-230r

    An apple crumble. Photo courtesy Spice Islands

     
    And don’t overlook:

  • SONKER or ZONKER, a North Carolina term for a deep-dish cobbler made of fruit or sweet potato.
  •  
    As Kim Severson, writing in The New York Times about sonkers and zonkers, notes: “These dishes are so regional that people within the same county will disagree on the proper form.”

    Your family may call it a particular dish by a particular name, correct or not. But the most correct thing is: Bake fruit in season, and bake it often!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Salsa For National Salsa Month

    Five_Pepper_Salsa-melissas-230

    Salsa fresca, made with raw ingredients. Other salsas are cooked. Photo courtesy Melissa’s.

     

    Salsa, which has been America’s favorite condiment since 2000 (when it supplanted ketchup),actually has been a favorite condiment for thousands of years.

    The chile was domesticated around 5200 B.C.E., and tomatoes by 3000 B.C.E. both in Central America. The Aztecs combined the two, often along with other ingredients like beans and squash seeds, into a condiment, which the Conquistadors named “salsa,” or sauce. Here’s the history of salsa.

    May is National Salsa Month. If you’ve never made salsa at home, now’s the time.

    Basic salsa couldn’t be easier: salsa fresca, “fresh salsa” made with raw ingredients, is a combination of chopped tomatoes, onions, chiles and lime juice.

  • You can customize your salsa with beans, bell peppers, cilantro, corn kernels, and fresh herbs.
  • You can vary the texture: uncooked salsas can be puréed until smooth, chopped finely like pico de gallo or be served semi-chunky, in which case it is called a salsa cruda.
  •  

  • You can include Old World ingredients like garlic and olives.
  • You can add fruit—mango, nectarine, peach and pineapple are the most popular—for sweet heat.
  • You can make salsa verde, green salsa, by substituting tomatillos or avocado for tomatoes (guacamole is avocado salsa; the tomatillo is not a small green tomato but a relative of the gooseberry).
  • You can vary the chile flavor and strength, from mild to hot, from green and vegetal to smoky chipotle.
  •  
    If you want to make a cooked salsa, another world of ingredients opens, including roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes to.
     
    USING MORE THAN ONE CHILE

    There are many easy recipes for salsa fresca; most use jalapeño chiles. But you can layor the chile flavors by adding other varieties.

    We adapted this recipe from one for Five Chile Salsa from Melissas.com. It adds an Anaheim chile to the jalapeño.

    The Anaheim chile was developed around 1900 in Anaheim, California from New Mexican pasilla chiles. (See the different types of chiles.)

    The Anaheim is not a hot chile. It has a modest heat level, as low as 1,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Jalapeños are about 10,000 SHU, while habaneros are 100,000 SHU or more.

    Bell peppers are also chiles (all chiles come from the genus Capsicum), but they have no heat. Chiles, new world fruits, were mis-named “peppers” by Columbus’s sailors, who compared their heat to black pepper (no relation).

    While much of the world continues to use the misnomer “pepper,” we use it only for bell peppers, calling all other varieties by their proper name, chile.

     

    RECIPE: THREE CHILE SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 3 roma* (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 Anaheim chile
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • Juice of one lime or lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SEED and dice the tomatoes and peppers, chop the cilantro and red onion.

    2. MIX the tomatoes and peppers in a bowl with the cilantro and red onion.

     

    salsa-baked-potato-TexaSweet-230

    Top a baked potato with salsa, with or without sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt). Photo courtesy TexaSweet.

     
    3. JUICE the lime or lemon over the other chopped ingredients, and season with salt and pepper.

    4. MIX the ingredients until well combined, serve with tortilla chips, or as a garnish.

     
    *Named after the city of Rome, Roma tomatoes are also known as Italian tomatoes or Italian plum tomatoes.
     
    WAYS TO ENJOY SALSA

    Breakfast

  • On eggs as a garnish
  • Mixed into frittatas and omelets
  •  
    Lunch

  • As a sandwich condiment—especially with grilled cheese or roasted veggies
  • Mixed into chicken, egg, macaroni, potato or tuna salad
  • With fries, instead of ketchup
  • With anything Tex-Mex
  •  
    Dinner

  • As a sauce for seafood cocktail (add some horseradish!)
  • Atop a baked potato, or mixed into mashed potatoes
  • Made into compound butter and served as a pat atop grilled meats
  • Mixed with cooked rice or other grains
  • With mac and cheese
  •  
    Snacks

  • Mixed into deviled eggs
  • Mixed into a dip with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt
  • On nachos
  • With chips
  • With crudités
  •  
    What’s your favorite use? Let us know!

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Use Your Julep Cups For Food

    Don’t put your julep cups away because the Kentucky Derby is over. Instead, think of what else you can serve in them, all year long.

    BEVERAGES

    Serve other cold beverages in these glamorous vessels. Kids won’t drink their milk? Let them drink it from the “special” silver julep cup.
     
    BUFFETS

    Use the julep cups to hold the forks, spoons and knives.
     
    FROZEN & OTHER DESSERTS

    Place julep cups in the freezer to chill them before adding ice cream, sorbet or other frozen dessert. The scoops will stay frozen much longer.

     

    shrimp-cocktail-julep-glass-butterNYC-230

    Today is National Shrimp Day. How about a “Shrimp Julep.” Photo courtesy Butter | NYC.

     
    You can also layer cake and ice cream in the cups, for a surprise ice cream cake dessert.

    And pudding is even more welcome when served in a julep cup.
     
    SALAD & VEGGIES

    Get your family to eat more salad and veggies by serving them in a glam silver container.

    Julep cups are also an impressive vessel for entertaining. Use them to serve anything to guests at a dinner party. They’ll also be impressed by your creativity.
     
    SEAFOOD

    Butter restaurant in New York City adds ice to the julep cup, but instead of bourbon and mint it adds shrimp and cocktail sauce. Can we take some creative license and call it a Shrimp Julep?
     
    SNACKING

    For fancy TV viewing, Oscar parties, Halloween and other occasions, fill the julep cups with snack food, from candy corn to popcorn.
     
    WHAT’S A JULEP?

    A julep is a sweet flavored drink made with sugar syrup, among other ingredients. A Mint Julep also adds bourbon, fresh mint and crushed or shaved ice.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: National Shrimp Scampi Day

    scampi-epicureanbutter-230

    Shrimp Scampi, in garlic lemon butter. Photo courtesy Epicurean butter.

     

    Today is National Shrimp Scampi Day. In our youth, it was one of the most popular recipes at Italian restaurants, often served atop a plate of linguine.

    The recipe can be quite simple: shrimp sautéed in garlic lemon butter. This recipe is a bit more elaborate, adding a topping of Parmesan and bread crumbs. Feel free to use the simpler version, and eliminate the cheese, bread crumbs and the broiler.

    Prep time, including the broiled topping, is 20 minutes. Serve with a light-bodied white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

    RECIPE: SHRIMP SCAMPI

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs*
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or tarragon
  • 1 box angel hair, linguine or other ribbon pasta†
  •  
    *If you prefer the dish without the broiled topping, omit these ingredients.
     
    †Instead of pasta, you can serve the dish with rice or other grain, or with a side of mixed vegetables.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to package instructions.

    2. SAUTÉ the garlic in the butter and oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, until fragrant. Add the shrimp, lemon juice, pepper and oregano; cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Sprinkle with cheese, bread crumbs and parsley.

    3. MOVE the skillet to the broiler, 6 inches from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

    4. SERVE atop the pasta.
     
    WHY IS IT CALLED SHRIMP SCAMPI?

    If you know Italian, you know that the word for shrimp is scampi. So why is the dish called, essentially, Shrimp Shrimp?

    According to Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen,” in Italy scampi are actually langoustines, small, lobster-like crustaceans with pale pink shells. In Italy, they are popularly sautéed with olive oil, garlic, onion and white wine.

     

    SONY DSC

    Shrimp Scampi. Photo courtesy Babble.com.

     

    Italian-American cooks substituted the available equivalent, shrimp, but kept both names, ostensibly to indicate that the dish was made from shrimp, not langoustine.

    This recipe was adapted from Taste Of Home.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Homemade Soft Pretzels

    homemade-pretzels-ws-230

    Bake a batch for National Pretzel Day. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     

    April 26th is National Pretzel Day. Bake a batch of delicious soft pretzels and serve with grainy mustard and beer.

    This recipe is courtesy Williams-Sonoma. See more photos of the process.

    Find more delicious recipes at WilliamsSonoma.com.
     
    RECIPE: SOFT PRETZELS

    Ingredients For 12 Large Pretzels

  • 1 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 3-1/4 cups (16 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (2-1/2 ounces) baking soda
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling
  • Grainy mustard for serving (you can substitute Dijon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together in the bowl of a stand mixer the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

    2. ADD the olive oil, flour and salt. Attach the dough hook and knead the dough on medium-low speed until smooth, about 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

     

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F with the rack placed in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush the parchment with oil. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope about 18 inches long. Position each rope positioned horizontally.

    4. BRING the 2 ends of the rope up and toward the center as if forming an oval. Cross one end over the other, and press each end into the bottom of the oval to create a pretzel shape. Place the pretzels on the prepared pan.

    5. FILL a large, wide saucepan with 7 cups of water. Stir in the baking soda, and bring to a boil. Gently drop 2 or 3 pretzels at a time into the boiling water (be careful not to overcrowd them). Boil for just under 1 minute, turning once with a large slotted spoon or spatula. Return the boiled pretzels to the baking sheet, spacing them evenly, top side up.

    6. SPRINKLE the pretzels with coarse salt. Bake until beautifully browned, about 10 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Serve warm with big spoonfuls of grainy mustard.

     

    homemade-pretzels-mustard-ws--230

    BYOB and dig in! Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     
    GRAINY MUSTARD & MUSTARD HISTORY

    The origins of mustard are lost to history, but it is a Northern Hemisphere plant, the seeds of which have been found in Stone Age settlements.

  • Egyptians tossed the seeds onto their food, and sent King Tut to the great beyond with a good supply in his tomb.
  • The Sumerians ground it into a paste and mixed it with verjus, the juice of unriped grapes.
  • Wealthy Greeks and Romans ground mustard seeds and mixed them with wine at the table.
  •  
    Cultivated for thousands of years, mustard was the primary spice known to Europeans before the advent of the Asian spice trade. Westerners had mustard long before pepper, which originated in India. Once trade routes were established, ancient people from India to Egypt to Rome chewed mustard seeds with their meat for seasoning.

    Our word mustard comes from the Middle English mustarde, meaning condiment; which in turn comes from the Old French mostarde. Mosto derives from the Latin mustum, the word for grape must, or young, unfermented wine, which was the liquid mixed with ground mustard seed by French monks who made the condiment. The monks’ word for mustard was mustum ardens, meaning burning wine.

    By the 1400s, mustard-making had spread through Europe; each region made its own style.

    One of the earliest versions was grainy mustard, a more casual name for what is known as old-style or old-fashioned mustard, and moutarde à l’ancienne in French.

    Grainy mustard is prepared from a base of mixed mustard seeds, verjus or white wine, spices and herbs. The ingredients are ground coarsely in order to leave the seeds whole.

    Grainy mustard has a dark color and a slightly milder flavor than other mustards. It has a slightly sweet taste, making it a good accompaniment for rustic foods like sausages or country-style pates and cornichons. It can be mixed with melted garlic butter and fresh thyme to create a sauce to drizzle over fish, and many other creative preparations.

    Here’s more on the history of mustard and the different types of mustard.

     
    *Today, white wine and verjus are used to make some mustard varieties; vinegars are used to make most others.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Macaroni & Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    mac-and-cheese-grilled-cheese-davidvenableQVC-230

    A grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese! Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    We’re closing out National Grilled Cheese Month with something out of the ordinary: a grilled cheese sandwich made with macaroni and cheese. It’s the creation of Chef David Venable of QVC, who created it to use up leftover mac and cheese. (Really? Who ever has leftover mac and cheese?)

    He uses extra slices of cheddar on top of the mac and cheese, which melt and will help hold the mac in place. And, since you don’t want to wait until you have leftovers, you make the mac and cheese from scratch.

    If you like heat, add some chili flakes to the recipe.

    RECIPE: MAC & CHEESE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced, cooked, and fat drained
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1–1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 slices white bread or bread of choice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

    2. ADD the milk and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. When the sauce begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat and add the shredded cheese, mustard, optional chili flakes, salt and pepper. Stir until all of the cheese has melted. Add the bacon and the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to fully coat the macaroni. Set aside.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    4. PLACE 8 slices of bread on a work surface and spread the mayonnaise onto one side of each slice. Flip over 4 slices of the bread and place 1 slice of cheddar on each.

    5. DIVIDE the macaroni over the cheese-covered bread slices and spread evenly. Top with the remaining slices of cheddar and cover with the remaining bread slices, mayonnaise side facing out.

    6. PREHEAT a square griddle pan to medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the hot griddle and toast until golden brown on one side, about 5–8 minutes. Flip the sandwiches; then place the griddle, with the sandwiches, in the oven and bake for about 5–8 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese slices have melted.

      

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    EARTH DAY: 5 Green Things You Can Do To Help Save The Planet

    The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. It led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

    Yet 45 years later, the need to save the planet is even greater. Here are five painless food-related things you can do to live greener:

    1. CARRY A REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE

    Bottled water purchases continue to grow in the beverage category. A plastic water bottle takes 1,000 years to degrade in landfill; if burned in a furnace, it releases harmful toxins into the air.

    Carry a refillable water bottle. If you don’t like your municipal water, get a home water filtration system.
     
    2. MAKE CARBONATED BEVERAGES AT HOME

    Beyond water bottles, how much soda or sparkling water do you consume? There’s a Sodastream waiting for you!

    In addition to making just about any flavor of soda—regular, diet, decaffeinated—or flavored water, you’ll save lots of money and work carrying those heavy bottles.

       

    reusable-shopping-bag-stylehive-230

    Avoid taking stores’ plastic shopping bags for your purchases. Instead, tuck reusable, folding nylon bags into pockets, purses, glove compartments. Photo courtesy StyleHive.com.

     
    3. CARRY REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS

    Don’t take plastic shopping bags from the grocery store; bring your own reusable bags instead. Most of them, like these, fold up to fit into a pocket.

     

    sodastream-fizz-230

    Make as many different flavors as you like, with reusable bottles. Photo courtesy Sodastream.

     

    If you buy a lot of groceries, here are options for the trunk of your car.

    Be sure to check out Hannah Grocery Cart Bags, which fit into the shopping cart. You fill them as you shop, unload them to pay, then fill and wheel to your car. They’re sturdy and don’t fall over as you drive home.
     

    4. MAKE BETTER CHOICES IN TAKE-OUT FOOD & FAST FOOD

    Take-out and fast food generate more landfill that won’t biodegrade in your lifetime. Avoid styrene, or any type of plastic, in coffee cups, plates and delivery containers.

    Patronize stores and restaurants that use paper coffee cups and plates, and cardboard or recyclable metal take-out containers. Wash and reuse the plastic utensils.

    And when you place your order, tell the establishment not to include any utensils with your order (or soy sauce, fortune cookies, ketchup packets and other things you just toss out automatically).

     

    5. RECYCLE YOUR TRASH

    If your community doesn’t have a mandatory recycling programs, call your Department of Sanitation to see what the options are to recycle paper, tin cans and other metals, glass and plastic.

  • Some retailers, like Whole Foods, recycle #5 plastic yogurt cups when local municipalities don’t.
  • You can also buy a gadget that cuts K-cups apart for recycling the plastic and composting the grounds.
  • There’s also a program that lets you mail in your used K-cups for recycling.
  •  
    BONUS TIP: CUT BACK ON HOME ENERGY USE

    The average American household spends more on home energy bills and gasoline for cars, than for health care or property taxes. You can live greener, saving energy (and money!), by being aware of how you waste it.

    Turn off lights, computers, televisions and other energy-users when you don’t need them. Use this online tool to see how easy it is for you to cut back.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Jelly Bean Day

    April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day. If you’re craving a sugar fix, Jelly Belly’s jelly beans have just 4 calories apiece.

    While there are numerous producers of tasty jelly beans, Jelly Belly, launched in 1976, was the first to sell them in single flavors (as opposed to mixed). The original flavors: Cream Soda, Grape, Green Apple, Lemon, Licorice, Root Beer, Tangerine and Very Cherry (today there are 50 flavors).

    The company also invented the “gourmet jelly bean.” The difference: gourmet jelly beans tend to be softer and smaller than traditional jelly beans, and are flavored in both the shell and the middle (traditional jelly beans typically contain flavor only in the shell).

    There are pronounced flavor preferences the world over. The number one flavors by region:

  • Americas: Very Cherry*
  • Asia: Lemon Lime
  • Australia: Bubble Gum (what’s up with that, Australia?)
  • Europe: Tutti-Frutti mix
  • Middle East: Berry Blue
  •  
    *In 1998, Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans.

       

    jelly-bean-bark-tasteofhome-230

    Make jelly bean bark with this recipe. Or, use jelly beans to top a cupcake. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.

     
    You can tour the Jelly Belly factories in Fairfield, California and Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The two locations produce 362,880 pounds of jelly beans per day, equivalent to the weight of 24 elephants.

     

    jelly-beans-paper-cup-WS-230

    For the sweet-toothed, jelly beans are made
    mostly from sugar. Photo courtesy Williams-
    Sonoma.

     

    WHO INVENTED THE JELLY BEAN?

    The modern jelly bean is believed to have been invented in the U.S., sometime after 1850. The earliest recorded advertisement for jelly beans is from Boston confectioner William Schrafft, who may have also been the creator. The ad promoted sending jelly beans to Union Soldiers engaged in the Civil War (1861-1865).

    By the early 1900s, jelly beans had become a staple penny candy. Possibly, they were the first bulk candy. They became part of the Easter tradition in the 1930s, when somebody connected their egg shape with the eggs symbolic of the spiritual rebirth of Easter. Their festive colors made them a perfect celebratory candy.

    During World War II, much of the chocolate produced in the U.S. was sent overseas to soldiers. Americans focused on other sweets; flavorful, colorful jelly beans became popular.

     
    And, if you’re old enough to remember, they were the favorite candy of president Ronald Regan. He persuaded the Jelly Belly company to make a blueberry jelly bean so that he could serve red, white and blue jelly beans in the Oval Office.

    Here’s more on the history of jelly beans.
     
    JELLY BEAN TRIVIA

    Each year, U.S. manufacturers produce more than 16 billion jelly beans for Easter, enough to completely fill a plastic Easter egg 89 feet high and 60 feet wide—about the height of a nine-story office building.

    Christmas is the second largest jelly-bean-eating holiday. Who knew?

      

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