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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

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Better Coffee…& Mocha Truffles

One hundred million Americans drink coffee daily. Sixty-eight percent of us have a cup within the first hour of waking up. (Here are more coffee statistics.)

So for all of us making our first cup at home—from ground beans, not K-Cups—here are some helpful tips from Melitta Coffee:

1. Buy coffee weekly. Once coffee is ground or the vacuum can is opened, coffee begins to grow stale in about 24 hours. To slow this process, store coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. We use this Friis Coffee Vault.

2. Don’t refrigerate or freeze the coffee. It will acquire moisture unless it’s stored in a moisture-proof and airtight container (like the Friis). While some “tips” say that you can freeze beans in airtight containers, the results won’t be glorious when you defrost them. Freezing coagulates the natural oils in the beans and crystallizes the moisture inside them, which adversely affects the flavor and aroma. In espresso, those oils need to emulsify to produce the body and mouthfeel of the coffee. So don’t be tempted buy jumbo-size bargains in coffee, unless you’re going to use it up quickly.

   

coffee-cup-derby-pie-230

Have an extra cup today to celebrate National Coffee Day. Photo courtesy Derby Pie.

 
3. Buy (or grind your own) extra fine grind coffee. When using finer grinds, it’s possible to use less coffee due to higher extraction levels. You get fuller flavor. Melitta recommends two level teaspoons per six ounces of water.

4. Use paper filters to effectively trap bitter sediments. Cone shaped paper filters allow for full saturation of the grounds, but all good, quality paper will ultimately enhance the final cup more than gold or other metal filters.

5. Drink coffee as soon as possible after brewing. If left on a burner, the coffee will continue to cook and starts to degrade in as little as 20 minutes.

Another way to celebrate National Coffee Day is with a coffee or mocha dessert. Consider affogato, brownies, candy (we love these hard coffee candies), coffee ice cream, milkshake, mousse, panna cotta and tiramisu. Here’s a recipe collection from Folger’s.

From Melitta, here’s a recipe for easy mocha truffles.

 

truffles-asstd-beauty-dearcoco-230b

Mocha truffles: a marriage of chocolate and
coffee.

 

RECIPE: MOCHA TRUFFLES

Ingredients For Approximately 50 Truffles

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 squares (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoon rum or coffee liqueur
  • 1¼ cup chocolate wafer crumbs
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREAM butter and sugar thoroughly and add melted chocolate. Add coffee and rum; mix well. Chill for 3 to 4 hours, until mixture is firm enough to handle.

     

    2. DROP mixture by small teaspoonfuls and form into balls. Roll each in crumbs until well coated. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator, tightly covered.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: U.S. Coffee Drinking Statistics For National Coffee Day

    How about a cup or two of coffee drinking statistics for National Coffee Day, September 29th? This survey was conducted in July by Live Science.

    For starters, about 83% of adults drink coffee in the U.S., the world’s largest consumer of coffee, up from 78% a year earlier, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 online survey. That’s an average of three cups a day per person, or 587 million cups.

    Who’s Drinking Coffee & When

  • Total number of U.S. daily coffee drinkers: 100 million
  • Americans over the age of 18 who drink coffee every day: 54%
  • Percentage of U.S. coffee drinkers who claim to need a cup of coffee to start their day: 60%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who have a cup within the first hour of waking up: 68%
  • Percentage of coffee consumption that takes place during breakfast hours: 65%
  • Percentage of coffee consumed between meals: 30%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who drink 13 or more cups of coffee each week: 24%
  •    

    black-coffee-CBTL-230

    Thirty-five percent of Americans drink their coffee black. Photo courtesy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

     

    Cappuccino-CBTL-230

    Thirty million Americans drink a cappuccino,
    latte, mocha or other specialty drink. Photo
    courtesy Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Thermal
    glass cup from Bodum.

     

    How Americans Drink It

  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who prefer their coffee black: 35%
  • Percentage of coffee drinkers who add cream and/or sugar: 65%
  • Number of daily coffee drinkers who drink specialty beverages (lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, etc.): 30 million
  • Percent of coffee drinkers who go to premium places (Starbucks, Coffee Bean) when they get coffee: 34%
  • Percent of people who go to lower-price outlets (McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, etc.) when they get coffee: 29%
  •  
    What Do We Pay For Our Coffee?

  • Average price of an espresso-based drink: $2.45
  • Average price for cup of brewed coffee: $1.38
  • Total average of money spent on coffee each year by coffee drinker: $164.71
  • Total amount of yearly money spent on specialty coffee in the U.S.: $18 billion
  •  

    Find more statistics on StatisticBrain.com.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: What Are Hops?

    September 28th is Drink Beer Day. Only a few ingredients are needed to make beer; typically, barley malt, unmalted grain, hops, yeast and water.

    We were explaining to a friend that our favorite beers are heavily hopped IPAs. “What exactly are hops?” he asked.

    We turned to Samuel Adams, the pioneering craft beer brewer, and to USA Hops, a nonprofit organization of growers, for an education.

    A hop is a flower that looks like a soft, green pine cone. It grows on a long vine. The flowers are almost exclusively used as a brewing spice in the production of beer.

    But what’s important to the brewer is not the whole flower or the petals, but the lupulin glands inside, which contain a golden resin. This resin is the depository of the alpha acids necessary for the hops to impart their signature bitterness and flavor to the beer. It also acts as a natural preservative.

     

    hops-luckyStarr-230

    Hops on the vine. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

     
    In mass brews, hops lend bitterness and not a lot more. But craft brewers select very specific types of premium hops, for their special aromatic flavor qualities over their bittering value. Aroma hops, as they are known, have lower alpha acid levels and produce an array of complex flavors and aromas—from citrus and fruit to pine and eucalyptus.

    Like any agricultural product, the unique conditions of soil, moisture, elevation and sunlight of the particular field have a direct impact on the quality and character of the hops. Hop varieties grown in their original regions will impart different flavors when grown elsewhere. The “hop belt,” where the most flavorful hops thrive, falls along the 48th parallel.

    Each region’s hop varieties impart different flavors, from the aromatic piney notes in German hops to earthy ale hops in England and the citrus brightness of American hops.

    SOME HOPS HISTORY

    The oldest hop growing region in the world is located in Bavaria, a temperate region in southeast Germany, just west of the Alps (Munich is the capital). The local Noble aroma hops varieties, low in bitterness and high in aroma, are prized worldwide.

    The earliest beers weren’t made with hops. The earliest mention of hop growing dates only to 1000-1200 C.E. in Germany. Prior to hops, other bittering agents, from juniper to roots and pine, were used. None could create the layers of flavor that hops impart, and it was a lucky day when the first brewer tossed those green flowers into the brewing vat.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Strawberry Cream Pie

    StrawberryCreamPie-calmilkadvisoryboard-230

    Make a delicious strawberry cream pie. Photo courtesy California Milk Advisory Board.

     

    Today is National Strawberry Cream Pie Day.

    A cream pie is a plain pastry or crumb pastry shell with a pudding or pudding-like filling. Butterscotch, chocolate, frangipane and vanilla are most common, as are banana cream pie, coconut cream pie, strawberry or raspberry cream pie.

    What’s the difference between cream pie and creme pie? Just the spelling. Creme is an Americanization of the French word for cream, crème (pronounced KREHM), most likely adapted in the U.S. to make the dish sound more special. But why mispronounce another language’s word for cream? Unless it’s a French recipe, such as Coeur à la Crème, stick to “cream.”

    And celebrate the day by making this delicious strawberry cream pie recipe, courtesy of the California Milk Advisory Board.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY CREAM PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

    For The Crust

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup melted butter
  • For The Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (substitute almond extract, if desired)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. MIX the flour and powdered sugar together. Add the butter. Mix together and press mixture into a 9-inch deep dish pie plate. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned then let cool.

    3. COMBINE the sugar, salt and cornstarch in medium size saucepan. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute then remove from heat.

    4. STIR a small amount of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Pour back into the pan and cook for 2 minutes more without letting the mixture boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; fold in sour cream. Cover and cool to lukewarm.

    5. LINE the pie shell with sliced strawberries and pour the filling over the berries. Chill well before cutting into wedges. Makes 8 servings.
     
    Also check out this raspberry cream pie recipe (National Raspberry Cream Pie Day is August 1st).

     

    berries-bowl-230

    Yummy strawberries are available almost everywhere. Photo courtesy California Strawberry Commission.

     

    See many more delicious recipes from the California Milk Advisory Board.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Food Fillers

    white-bread-Aaron-Bobrow-Strain-230

    Avoid puffy white bread, made with
    potassium bromate. And read this book!
    Photo courtesy Beacon Press.

     

    The website Healthcare Management Degree sent us the 411 on food fillers, and we’re happy to pass it on. You can also view it in infographic form.

    Their article, called “Food Isn’t Food Anymore: The Frightening World of Fillers,” explains the types of fillers found in prepared foods at grocery stores and restaurants. Fillers are also called additives. The goal of the fillers is to add a cheaper ingredient to a costlier one to help bulk up the weight of the food, thus lowering the overall cost.

    Fillers are mostly found in processed meats, and can lower the cost of meats by 10%-30%. The ground beef you buy likely contains filler, they write.

    While lowering the cost of food can sound like a great idea, here are the pros and cons of food fillers. This is not an exhaustive list, but highlights the most common fillers. And of course, not all brands use fillers: Read the nutrition label!

    CARRAGEENAN

    Carrageenan is a gel extracted from seaweed. It Is used as a thickening agent and emulsifier in dairy products such as chocolate milk, cottage cheese and ice cream. It is also injected into raw chicken and other meats to make them retain water, which makes the meat weigh more. You’re paying for water weight! (A similar trick is used to inject scallops with chemicals. Be sure that you are buying “dry” scallops, not “wet” scallops.)

     

    ISSUE: Seaweed generally has no adverse health effects, but it can trick the consumer into paying more.

    CELLULOSE

    Cellulose is a natural component of many plants. Much of the cellulose used as a food additive is derived from wood pulp, which is used in the production of paper! This cellulose is used in the manufacture of cereal, shredded cheese, salad dressing and ice cream. Cellulose appears in many high-fiber snacks, and eating organic won’t help you avoid it.

    Humans can’t digest cellulose, so adding it to food makes for a no-calorie, nonfat filler. Some may see that as a benefit.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Ingredients like microcrystalline cellulose (MCC), cellulose gel, cellulose gum or carboxymethyl cellulose.

     

    OLESTRA

    Olestra is a fat substitute synthesized by Procter and Gamble in 1968; its chemical name is sucrose polyester. The human body can’t digest its large molecules, so Olestra contributes no calories. It now used in Fat Free Pringles and Frito-Lay Light chips.

    It can have a laxative effect. Products containing Olestra were originally required to warn customers of the risk of “loose stools.” Within 4 years of introduction, 15,000 people had called a hotline set up specifically to take adverse-reaction complaints; however, in 2003, the FDA removed the warning label requirement following lobbying by P&G.

    ISSUE: In addition to digestive issues, Olestra appears to interfere with the body’s absorption of critical nutrients such as beta-carotene and lycopene.

     
    POTASSIUM BROMATE

    Potassium bromate is a chemical compound that helps bread to rise quickly and puff up during baking. Bread made with potassium bromate is fluffy, soft and unnaturally white. It is found in supermarket and fast food breads.

     

    hot-fudge-sundae-230

    Wood pulp in your ice cream? Could be! Photo by Lauri Patterson | IST.

     

    If the bread is not baked long enough, or if too much potassium bromate is added before baking, the amount in the end product can be much higher than recommended. In 1982, Japanese researchers published the first study linking potassium bromate to thyroid and kidney cancer in mice.

    ISSUE: Potassium bromate is illegal in China, the European Union, Canada, Brazil and many other countries. But it is legal in the U.S.

    SOY

    Soy derivatives can be found filling a variety of foods, from frozen yogurt to ground beef, and are estimated to be in almost 60% of the processed food sold in supermarkets. In ground meats, soy acts as a cheap filler, lowering both the price and overall quality of the protein,

    Soy contains high levels of phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that actually eliminates important vitamins and minerals from the body.

    WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Soy is often listed as “vegetable protein.”
     
    THE FINAL WORD

    1. A good rule of thumb: The more ingredients are in a product, the less natural it is likely to be.

    2. Educate yourself on what you’re eating. Read those nutrition labels!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pecan Sandies

    pecan-sandies-tasteofhome-230

    Pecan sandies. Photo courtesy Taste Of
    Home.

     

    September 21st is National Pecan Cookie Day. Our favorite has got to be the pecan sandy, modeled after the French sablé.

    A shortbread-like butter cookie with a sandy texture, sablé means “sand” in French and refers to both the color and the texture of the cookies.

    The cookies originated in the Normandy region of France and are a very popular tea cookie. Common variations include chocolate and lemon sablés.

    In some sandy recipes, the dough is lighter than traditional dense, buttery shortbread. A pecan sandy is simply the shortbread with chopped pecans added to the dough, or a pecan half embellishment on the top of the cookie.

    This recipe is courtesy Taste Of Home. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 55 minutes.

     
    RECIPE: PECAN SANDIES

    Ingredients For 18 Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet.

    2. CREAM in a bowl the butter and sugar; stir in vanilla. Add flour; mix on low until well blended. Stir in pecans; mix well. Chill for 30 minutes.

    3. ROLL into 1-inch balls; place on the sheet. Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until bottom edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
     
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKIES IN OUR COOKIE GLOSSARY.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have Some Grenache

    brunello-230BSP

    A glass of 100% grenache is a new
    experience for most wine lovers. Photo ©
    Dusan Zidar | Bigstock Photo.

     

    Grenache (pronounced gruh-NOSH), called Garnacha in Spain, is one of the most widely planted (and highest-yielding) red wine grape varieties in the world. It’s most commonly found in blends, where it’s used to add body and sweet fruitiness. It’s not easy to find a 100% garnacha wine in many U.S. wine stores.

    But look for Las Rocas and other wines from the Aragon region of northeast Spain (where the grape probably originated, although Sardinia also claims it as a native grape). Five D.O.* regions in Aragon (Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta) are producing quality wines that are at least 85% Garnacha. (A wine that is at least 85% of a particular varietal can be called by that varietal’s name.) Las Rocas, at $15, os well priced.

    Grenache grows in hot, dry climates; Spain, Sardinia, the south of France and California’s San Joaquin Valley are prominent growing regions. It is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

    BLENDED INTO VERY POPULAR WINES

    In Spain, Grenache is blended into Rioja. It is used to make rosé wines in France and Spain. If you’ve had a bottle of Tavel (a district in the Côtes du Rhône), you’ve had grenache.

     

    Grenache was one of the first grape varieties introduced to Australia in the 18th century. It was the country’s most widely planted red wine grape variety until it was surpassed by Shiraz in the mid 1960s.

    In was also one of the first grapes to be successfully planted and vinified during the early development of the Washington wine industry, in the early 20th century.

    Wines made from Grenache tend to lack acid, tannin and color, which is why they are usually blended with Cinsaut, Syrah, Tempranillo or other grapes. In addition to the better-known red wine, there is a white grape, Grenache Blanc or Grenacha Blanca. A wine made with White Grenache is similar to White Zinfandel.

    White Grenache is a very important grape in France, where it is the fourth most widely planted white variety†. Like red Grenache (Grenache Noir), it is used as a blending grape in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

     

    CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL GRENACHE DAY

    To celebrate International Grenache Day—the third Friday in September, which this year is September 19th—the producers of Las Rocas Garnacha sent us a bottle of red. The brand name, which means “the rocks,” refers to the steep, rocky slopes where the grapes are grown.

    The flavors of grenache are typically spicy (look for white pepper) with berry fruit, often raspberry and strawberry (we found blackberry and black cherry in Las Rocas). The lower tannins make it softer on the palate; the alcohol content is relatively high (this year’s Las Rocas has 14.9% alcohol).

    GRENACHE & FOOD PAIRINGS

    Pair grenache as you would any medium-body red wine: with beef, chicken and turkey, lamb or pork, including stews. Its spicy qualities also pair well with international spices, such as garam masala and milder curries. The fruitiness also makes them a natural for dishes with dried fruit, such as Moroccan tagines; and with general sweetness, such as barbecue.

    In recent decades, the total acreage of Garnacha in Spain has been on the decline, with the vineyards being replanted with the more fashionable Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo.

     

    las-rocas-garnacha-230

    Celebrate International Grenache Day. Photo courtesy Las Rocas.

     

    Show your support of Grenache today: Enjoy a bottle with dinner.

     
    *D.O., short for Denominaciones de Origen, is similar to the French Appellations. Production of products produced in a particular D.O. are regulated by specific laws meant to ensure quality and consistency.

    †The first three are Ugni blanc, a blending grape; Chardonnay and Semillon.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Gourmet Potato Tots (A.K.A. Tater Tots)

    sandwich-tater-tots-redduckketchup-230

    Heaven: sandwich, beer, potato tots. Photo
    courtesy Red Duck Ketchup.

     

    They’re not quite senior citizens, but Tater Tots® hit the big 6-0 this year. You could buy a box to celebrate, or you could make your own, tastier tots—bite-size potato croquettes—from scratch.

    The Idaho Potato Commission salutes the tot as both an inspired potato product and a springboard for potato creativity. Its website boasts a collection of innovative tot recipes and variations on the theme.

    For example, enhance the potato mixture with:

    ROBUST SEASONINGS

  • Aromatics, such as truffles
  • Herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme)
  • Onion or scallion—lots more than in Tater Tots*
  •  
    ELABORATE STUFFINGS

    Stuffed Tots with elaborate fillings:

  • Simple proteins (crumbled bacon, shredded crab, Parmesan, blue cheese)
  • Braised pork
  • Curried chicken
  •  
    HEARTY TOPPINGS

  • Breakfast scrambles
  • Chili
  • Nachos
  • Poutine (brown gravy and cheese curds†)
  •  
    *The ingredients in Tater Tots are potato, vegetable oil, salt, corn flour, onions, dextrose (a simple sugar also known as glucose), disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate (an antioxidant that prevents potatoes from turning brown) and natural flavoring.

    *Traditional poutine consists of these toppings on fries, but we’re borrowing them for tots.
     

    TATER TOTS VS. POTATO TOTS

    The term Tater Tots is used generically, like Kleenex; although it’s a trademark of Ore-Ida, which invented the little potato bites in 1953. If you’re referring to anything but the Tater Tots brand, call them “potato tots.”

    Tater Tots are made from deep-fried, grated potatoes, resulting in crisp little cylinders of hash brown-style potatoes. Tater is American dialect for potato, and “tots” came from their small size.

    Ore-Ida founders, brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, were considering what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes from their signature French fries. They chopped them up, mixed them with flour and seasonings, and pushed logs of the grated/mashed potato mixture through a form, slicing off and frying small pieces.

    Tater Tots began to arrive in grocery stores in 1954. They quickly caught on as a snack food, a side dish and the foundation for casseroles at dinner tables across America.

    The Ore-Ida brand was acquired by H. J. Heinz Company in 1965.

     

    LOADED POTATO TOTS

    This potato tot recipe borrows from the “loaded baked potato” concept, adding bacon, chives, shredded cheese and sour cream.

    Ingredients

  • 2½ pounds russet potatoes, divided
  • 2 ounces bacon, double-smoked, cooked, chopped
  • 6 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, as needed
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 each eggs, lightly whipped
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
  •  

    loaded-potato-tots-idahopotatocomm-230r

    Loaded Potato Tots. Photo and recipe courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. BOIL 2 pounds of potatoes. Cool, peel and mash.

    2. COMBINE bacon, cheese, chives, butter, cream, pepper and salt to taste in a large bowl; blend well. Roll into 1-ounce pieces, place on wax paper-lined sheet pan and chill overnight.

    3. SHRED remaining potatoes, using a box grater, into a shallow bowl.

    4. PLACE flour in another shallow bowl. Roll potato tots in flour to lightly coat then coat in egg. Roll in shredded potatoes to form crust. Return to sheet pan and chill.

    5. HEAT oil to 375°F in a heavy-bottomed pot, and fry balls until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel to drain. Season with salt and serve.
     

    AND THERE’S MORE

  • Recipe: Baked Potato Tots
  • History of potatoes
  • Potato Types
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Whiskey Sour Day

    Old Fashioned

    Whiskey Sour. Photo by Lognetic | Fotolia.

     

    August 25th is National Whiskey Sour Day. We’ll drink to that!

    The Whiskey Sour is one of the most famous of the classic cocktails, one that survived Prohibition, which saw the fall into obscurity of many other classics of the time (Satan’s Whiskers, anyone). Those that survived include the Manhattan, Planter’s Punch, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Tom Collins, etc).

    The “sour” refers to lemon juice, which is added with sugar to create the drink. Whiskey is a generic term, referring to any spirit, or alcoholic distillate, made from a fermented mash of grain or malt and aged in barrels (the brown color comes from barrel aging).

    Thus, requesting a “Whiskey Sour” enables the bartender to use any whiskey. If you want something specific, say so: a Bourbon Sour, Scotch Sour, etc.

    There are numerous types of whiskey—American (Bourbon, corn, Tennessee, rye), Canadian, Irish, Scotch and others. Each is distinguished by the type of grain (barley, corn, rye) used in the fermentation process, as well as the distinct distillation and aging process. Each nation has its own rules and regulations about what constitutes a true whiskey. Regardless of the variety or country of origin, a general rule of thumb is that all straight whiskeys must be aged at least two years in wood, generally oak.

     

    The whiskey sour recipe was first published in 1862 in the seminal mixologists’ guide, Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks (still in print!). However, most cocktail recipes, including the sour, existed long before this time—some dating as far back as the 1700s.

    RECIPE: CLASSIC WHISKEY SOUR

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Bourbon
  • .75 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • .75 ounce simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Garnish: Maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN into an ice-filled rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

     

    As easy as this is, most bartenders use a commercial sour mix, which often means either reconstituted lemon juice. You can taste the difference, and it isn’t good. Since you’re not turning out hundreds of drinks a day, don’t try to save time: Use fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup.
     
    Variations

  • Egg white. An egg white gives cocktails a creamier consistency. You can use a whole egg white per drink, or a portion of one. The technique: Shake the cocktail before adding the ice.
  • Less sweet. Cut back on the simple syrup for a less sweet cocktail. As a side benefit, the flavor of the whiskey becomes more prominent. (Sugar was originally added to cocktails to counter the medicinal flavor of the whiskey.)
  • More sweet. While it isn’t classic, add some of the maraschino cherry juice to the cocktail. Note though, that cheaper maraschino cherries are often sitting in high fructose corn syrup. Use a quality brand like Tillen Farms, in pure sugar syrup. They make great stocking stuffers for your favorite mixologists.
  •  

    tillen-farm-cherries-230

    Maraschino and bing cherries are made with pure cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Photo courtesy Tillen Farms.

     

  • Bitters. While a traditional whiskey sour is made without bitters, an alcoholic preparation flavored with botanical matter for a bitter or bittersweet effect. You can add a dash or two of bitters to add complexity. There are so many types of bitters available these days; the recipe below uses chocolate bitters.
  • Switch the liquor. Consider a Pisco Sour, Sidecar (Cognac and orange liqueur) or Margarita (tequila and orange liqueur), for example. Anything with sugar and lemon or lime juice can be considered a sour.
  •  
    There are simple recipes—whiskey and sour mix—plus complex versions, like the Maple Sour below, created for Basil Hayden’s Bourbon by Jason Stevens, bar manager at Congress Austin.

    RECIPE: MAPLE BOURBON SOUR

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1½ parts bourbon
  • ¾ parts tawny port
  • ¼ part Grade B maple syrup
  • ½ part lemon juice
  • 1 heavy dash Bittermen’s Molé Bitters (or other chocolate bitters)
  • Garnish: lemon wheel and maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds and double strain into a double Old Fashioned glass with ice.

    2. GARNISH with a lemon wheel and a maraschino cherry.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: The Easiest Peach Pie Is A Galette

    It’s National Peach Pie Day, peaches are in season and there’s no reason not to make a luscious peach pie. It’s just fresh peaches and a bit of sugar in an easy, handmade crust.

    If you’re not a natural pie baker, there’s a simple way to do it that requires absolutely no skill in rolling a crust. It’s a galette, also called a rustic pie or rustic tart.

    Galette (gah-LET) is a term with multiple meanings, depending on the category of food. In the pastry world, a galette is a rustic, round, open-face fruit pie. It is flat, with a flaky, turned-up crust that wraps around the filling to creates a “bowl.” It hails from the days before people had pie plates

    RECIPE: GALETTE AUX PÊCHES, RUSTIC PEACH PIE

    Ingredients

  • 4 ripe peaches,* sliced into eighths
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (you can use less, especially if the peaches are very sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Optional: 1 cup blueberries (see this variation from
    McCormick.com—see photo below)
  • Pâte sucrée (sweet pastry dough—recipe below)
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  •    

    peach_galette_2_froghollowfarm-230

    A peach galette. If you don’t want to bake, you can order this one, or send it as a gift, from Frog Hollow Farm. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm.

  • Optional garnish: crème fraîche, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    *You may end up needing more peaches, depending on their size. So you may want to have a few extras on hand, or fill in with blueberries.
     

    Galette Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, discard the plastic wrap and place the dough between two pieces of parchment or wax paper (or you can just use a floured surface).

    2. ROLL out the dough into a 13″ circle. Do not force or stretch the dough.

    3. TRANSFER the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. (The dough can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.)

    4. TOSS the peach slices gently with the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Arrange them in concentric circles atop the crust, leaving an edge of 2 inches. Fold over the edge of the dough up, one fold at a time (you should have five folds). Press on the corners to seal the tart.

    5. BRUSH the beaten egg white on the 2″ dough border. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly before serving if you want a warm pie. It’s also delicious at room temperature or straight from the fridge.

     

    blueberry-peach-galette-mccormick-230

    Peach galette with blueberries. Photo
    courtesy McCormick.

     

    RECIPE: PÂTE SUCRÉE, SWEET PASTRY DOUGH

    Pronounce this dough pot soo-CRAY. It’s the buttery crust used for tarts.

    The dough can be made up to two days in advance.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
  •  
    Crust Preparation

    1. PULSE the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the chilled butter cubes, continuing to pulse until the mixture looks crumbly and there all pieces of butter are about the size of a pea. Gradually pulse in the cold water until the mixture still looks crumbly, but holds together when pinched.

    2. MOVE the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, cover with another piece of plastic wrap and firmly press into a disk. Place the dough in the fridge and chill for an hour or longer.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F and follow the instructions for Galette Preparation, above.

      

     

      

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