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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,
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Archive for Food Holidays/History/Facts

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Gyros At Home

September 1st is National Gyro Day, and the first thing you need to know is that gyro is pronounced YEE-ro, not JY-ro.

A gyro is a Greek lamb sandwich on pita bread, roasted on a vertical spit and served with tomato, onion, and tzatziki, a yogurt-cucumber sauce (recipe). Other condiments and sauces can be added or substituted.

Eating food off of pita bread or wrapping food in pita is an Ancient Greek tradition; the pita served as an edible plate. The tradition continues today—although you’ll also get a piece of foil or kitchen parchment to hold the pita from a street vendor, and a plate in a restaurant.

Most people eat gyros made by food vendors, but for National Pita Day, try making your own at home. The recipe below is adapted by one from Maria Benardis, award-winning author, chef and founder of Greekalicious, Sydney, Australia’s first exclusively Greek cooking school.

Traditionally, the deboned leg of lamb is grilled on on a rotating vertical spit (see photo below), and shaved off the leg in thin slices. In fact, the Turkish name for the same sandwich, döner kebab, literally means “rotating roast.”

But for Maria’s recipe you don’t need a spit: Roasting the lamb is just as delicious.
 
DO YOU NEED LAMB FOR A GYRO?

Of course not! Cuisine evolves constantly, and each cook can put his or her spin on a recipe. If you don’t like lamb, or don’t want to roast a whole leg, you can use any of the following:

  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken or pork
  • Lamb sausage or other sausage variety
  • Grilled portobello mushrooms
  • Grilled fish fillet
  •  
    PLUS

  • Traditional condiments: lettuce, onion, tomato, tzatziki
  • Cilantro or parsley
  • Feta cheese
  • Black olives (pitted), pickles, pepperoncini
  • Shredded red cabbage or yogurt-based slaw
  • Tahini sauce (recipe)
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/lamb sausage gyro kevineats 230

    Gyros can contain any protein other than lamb lamb. Here, lamb sausage is the protein (any sausage works). Photo courtesy Kevin Eats.

     

    RECIPE: FETA-CRUSTED LAMB GYROS WITH HERBED YOGURT SAUCE

    This recipe is more layered than your typical gyro. A salty feta crust forms on the lamb with some heat from the red chili flakes. Instead of the standard tzatziki yogurt-cucumber-garlic-dill sauce, Maria makes a herbed yogurt sauce which eliminates the cucumber but adds basil, mint and parsley. (It’s also a delicious dip.)

    Maria also adds the baby potatoes to the gyro, but we prefer to serve them on the side. You can replace them with an all-American side of fries.
     
    Ingredient For 8 Servings

  • 8 pocketless whole wheat pita breads
  • 2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby arugula, washed and patted dry
  •  
    For The Lamb

  • 2-pound leg of lamb, de-boned
  • Salt and freshly-cracked pepper
  • Extra olive oil for drizzling
  • 16 bite size potatoes
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/giro stand Eaeeae Wiki 230

    A traditional lamb gyro is made from lamb roasted on a vertical spit. Photo by Eaeeae | Wikimedia.

     

    For The Feta Mixture

  • 6 ounces Greek feta, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions or shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  •  
    For The Herbed Yogurt Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup dill fronds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 355°F (180°C). Place the lamb and potatoes in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

    2. PLACE all ingredients for the feta mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth and thick. Coat the lamb well with the feta mixture. Drizzle some olive oil over the top of the lamb and the potatoes. Add enough water to the baking dish to just cover the base.

    3. COVER the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 300°F (150°C). Bake for at 2 to 2-1/2 hours until the lamb is cooked through: 155°-160° on a meat thermometer for medium, 160° for well done. Because ovens vary, it is important to use a meat thermometer! Uncover and cook for a further 30-45 minutes until the top is golden brown.

    4. COMBINE the ingredients for the yogurt sauce in a food processor and blend until all the herbs are chopped and the sauce is smooth and thick. Place in a bowl and refrigerate. When the lamb is ready…

    5. SLICE the lamb thinly. Warm the pita; if you like, you can lightly brush each side with olive oil and place the bread on a hot grill or in a grill pan for warming and grill marks.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place some yogurt sauce in the center of the pita, arugula and slices of tomato and onion. Top with some lamb and some more yogurt sauce. Serve flat, with an optional side of roasted potatoes.

     
    Find more of Maria’s delicious recipes at Greekalicious.com.au.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Banana Split Sushi For National Banana Split Day

    How should you celebrate August 25th, National Banana Split Day?

    There’s the tried and true banana split, of course. Classically served in a long dish, called a boat (which gives the sundae its alternative name, banana boat), the recipe is familiar to most ice cream lovers:

    A banana is cut in half lengthwise and set in the dish with scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. The strawberry ice cream is garnished with pineapple topping, chocolate syrup is poured on the vanilla ice cream and strawberry topping covers the chocolate ice cream. Crushed nuts, whipped cream and maraschino cherries garnish the entire boat.

    Today, there are many variations to the classic banana split. We’ve had Deconstructed Banana Splits, Banana Split Cheesecake and the recipe below, Banana Split Sushi from RA Sushi.

    BANANA SPLIT SUSHI

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/banana split sushi RAsushi 230

    The deconstructed banana split at Sushi Samba in New York City. Photo courtesy Sushi Samba.

  • 2 bananas, ripe but firm
  • 1 tablespoon butter or neutral oil (canola, grapeseed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Peeled kiwi slices
  • Clementine/tangerine segments (or substitute other fruit)
  • Whipped cream
  • Strawberries, washed and halved
  • Sauces: chocolate, strawberry*
  •  
    *You can easily make strawberry purée by processing the berries with a bit of sweetener to taste, and a splash of lemon or lime juice.
     
    Preparation

    1. CUT the bananas into 1-1/2 inch slices. While a restaurant can deep-fry the bananas in tempura batter, you can use a simpler approach: Combine the bananas, fat, honey and cinnamonan in a nonstick pan over medium heat and fry until golden brown (4-5 minutes on each side).

    2. ARRANGE each cooked banana piece on a plate as desired and top with a kiwi slice, which is the base for the remaining toppings. Add the clementine segment, whipped cream and strawberry halves.

    3. DRIZZLE with chocolate sauce and strawberry purée. Serve with chopsticks.

     

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    The classic banana split. Photo courtesy
    The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook.

     

    BANANA SPLIT HISTORY

    The banana split was invented in 1904 by David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He enjoyed inventing sundaes at the store’s soda fountain.

    His first “banana-based triple ice cream sundae” sold for 10 cents, which was double the cost of the other sundaes. News of the new sundae was picked up by the press and spread nationwide. Variations of the recipe appeared in newspapers.

    The enterprising Strickler went on to buy the pharmacy, re-naming it Strickler’s Pharmacy. The city of Latrobe celebrated the 100th anniversary of the invention of the banana split in 2004, and the National Ice Cream Retailers Association (NICRA) certified the city as its birthplace.

    The annual Great American Banana Split Celebration is held throughout the downtown Latrobe in late August, this year on August 29th.

     

    According to Wikipedia, Walgreens is credited with spreading the popularity of the banana split. The chain of drug stores established in the Chicago area by Charles Rudolph Walgreen promoted the banana split as a signature dessert.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: A Waffle Sandwich (Wafflewich) For National Waffle Day

    For special occasions, a waffle sandwich is true food fun. There’s an immediate special occasion: August 24th is National Waffle Day.

    Andrea Correale, CEO of Elegant Affairs Caterers, sent us two yummy sandwich recipes to celebrate the day. Both replace the bread with waffles. The result: a wafflewich!

    Waffle sandwiches require the extra step of making fresh waffles. Frozen waffles don’t taste anywhere as good.

    To assauge any waffle guilt, check out our recommended whole grain pancake and waffle mixes.

    RECIPE: HAM & CHEESE WAFFLEWICH

    When a wafflewich includes cheese, the sandwich is even better if you place it in a panini press to melt a bit.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 2 waffles, freshly made from a waffle mix or your own recipe*
  • 3 slices ham per sandwich (Andrea prefers hickory honey ham)
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/waffle ham and cheese elegantcaterers 230ps

    Enjoy your ham and cheese on a waffle. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.

  • 3 slices cheese per sandwich (Andrea prefers sharp Cheddar; we like Emmental)
  • Mustard
  • Optional: lettuce and tomato
  • Sides: baby carrots or other crudités, coleslaw, pickles†, pickled vegetables, candied jalapeños
  •  
    *For big eaters, you can make a triple decker sandwich (three waffles). If your waffle recipe contains sugar—which is normal for breakfast waffles—cut it back to 1/2 teaspoon or none at all.

    †We added sweet and spicy pickle chips to the sandwich before grilling in the panini press. Check out our article on the best pickles.
     
    Preparation

    1. COOK the waffles in a waffle maker.

    2. PLACE the ham and cheese, lettuce and tomato between two waffles, with the pickle chips if desired (or, serve the pickles on the side). We added Dijon mustard between the ham and cheese layers.

    3. PLACE the waffle sandwich in a panini press and cook until the cheese is gooey. Remove and serve immediately with the sides.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blt waffle sandwich elegantcaterers

    A twist on the BLT: a BLT Waffle Sandwich. Photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers.

     

    RECIPE: BLT WAFFLEWICH

    You can make this a vegetarian sandwich with Morning Star Bacon Strips or Lightlife Smart Bacon, and/or Baconaise bacon-flavored mayonnaise (one of our favorite mayos). These products get their bacony taste from natural smoke flavor and other seasonings.

    You can also add sliced avocado, chicken or turkey.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 3 slices cooked bacon (Andrea prefers hickory smoked bacon)
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Lettuce (we prefer iceberg or romaine for the crunch)
  • Optional: sliced avocado, chicken or turkey
  • Mayonnaise (we prefer flavored mayonnaise)
  • Optional: long toothpicks (we like these festive cellophane frill toothpicks)
  • Sides: coleslaw or potato salad, chips (corn/tortilla, lentil, vegetable, etc.)
  • Preparation

    1. PILE the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and optional avocado, chicken or turkey on the bottom waffle. If using iceberg lettuce, we find it helpful to slice it in slabs from the head, so the lettuce will lie flat on the sandwich.

    2. SEASON with salt and pepper as desired.

    3. SPREAD the top waffle with mayonnaise. Place the top on the sandwich and anchor with toothpicks as necessary.

    4. SERVE with sides.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Sponge Cake History & Types

    August 23rd is National Sponge Cake Day. It celebrates an airy cake that’s just right for summer, garnished with fresh berries and whipped cream.
     
    THE HISTORY OF SPONGE CAKE

    The modern sponge cake dates to Europe in the early 19th century. Precursors were cookie-sized treats called biscuit bread and sponge fingers (a.k.a. boudoir biscuits, ladyfingers, Savoy biscuits [English] and savoiardi [Italian]); as well as sweet “breads” from Italy, Portugal and Spain.

    These earlier forms date back to the Renaissance (15th century) and were used in numerous desserts including trifles and fools. Early 17th century English cookbook writers note that recipes for fine bread, bisquite du roy [roi] and common biscuits were similar to sponge cake.

    Savoiardi, ladyfingers, originated in the late 15th century at the court of Catherine of Medici, created to mark the occasion of a visit by the King of France to the Duchy of Savoy. The recipe found its way to England in the early 18th century.

    The sponge cake is thought to be one of the first of the non-yeasted cakes; the rise comes from well-beaten eggs. The earliest recipe in English is found in a 1615 book by Gervase Markham*. The term “sponge cake,” describing the sponge-like openness of the crumb, probably came into use during the 17th century. The earliest reference cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is in an 1808 letter written by Jane Austen, who apparently was fond of them. [Source: Food Timeline]
     
    THE MODERN SPONGE CAKE

    The modern American sponge cake is a light-textured cake made of eggs, sugar and flour†; there is no fat or leavening. The rise comes from the beaten egg whites. The French sponge, génoise, is used for thinner cake layers, so the egg whites and yolks are beaten together.

    Sponges can be baked in cake pans, tube pans or sheet pans. They can be used to make layer cakes, tube cakes, roulades (rolled cakes) and cupcakes. They can be variously flavored and filled.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/Victoria Sponge stylenest.co .uk copy 230

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/sponge cake tube pan chicagometallic 230

    Top photo: a Victoria Sponge, filled with strawberry jam instead of Queen Victoria’s favorite, raspberry jam, and topped with powdered sugar. Photo courtesy Stylenest. Bottom photo: a simple sponge cake, made American-style in a tube pan. Photo courtesy Chicago Metallic Bakeware. Use a tube pan with feet, since sponge cake (as well as angel cake) must be inverted when removed from the oven.

     

    The basic sponge cake recipe is also used to make ladyfingers and madeleines; slices can be used instead of biscuits to make shortcake.

    *“The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman.”

    †Since sponge cakes are not leavened with yeast, they can be eaten during Passover, made with matzo meal instead of wheat flour.

    TYPES OF SPONGE CAKES

    AMERICAN SPONGE CAKE

    The American Sponge is a high-rising cake, gaining volume from the air whipped into the egg whites and yolks. The dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt are folded in. Then the egg whites and more sugar are beaten until stiff and fold into the yolk mixture. It is often baked in an ungreased tube pan, which maximizes the volume of the cake, and emerges the springiest and spongiest of the sponge cakes.
     
    BRITISH SPONGE CAKES

    The classic British sponge of modern times is the Victoria Sponge Cake (see below).

    GÉNOISE SPONGE CAKES & COOKIES

    The French sponge cake, génoise (jen-WOZ), is named for the Italian port city of Genoa, where an precursor of it, Genoa Cake, originated in the early 19th century.

    Génoise sponge differs from American sponge cakes in that the eggs are beaten whole, rather than beating the the yolks and whites specialty for more rise. In fact, rise is not the goal; flatter cake layers are sought. Sheets of genoise are used to make Swiss rolls and other roulades, such as Buche de Noel. Genoise is also used to make ladyfingers and madeleines.

    Génoise sponge is the basis of many French layer cakes and roulades. Baked in pans or thinner sheets, it can filled with fruit purée, jam or whipped cream. It can be iced and decorated simply, elaborately or not at all.

     

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    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/genoise baba lacigaledoree.com 230

    Top photo: chocolate genoise roulade (roll) filled with chestnut cream. Photo courtesy Dirty Kitchen Secrets. Bottom photo: thin layers of genoise used to assemble cakes. Photo courtesy La Cigale Doree.

      GENOA CAKE (NOT A GÉNOISE SPONGE)

    By the middle of the 18th century, cake bakers began to use well-beaten eggs instead of yeast as a leavening agent. The cake would be baked in a mold or in layers made by pouring the batter into two hoops, set on parchment paper and a cookie sheet (hoops atop baking sheets were the precursor of the modern cake pan).

    Genoa Cake originated in the port city of Genoa, Italy in the early 19th century. Some ingredients that came into the busy port from the East and Middle East—almonds, candied fruit and peel, citrus zest, currants, raisins, vanilla, cinnamon and other spices—often found their way into Genoa Cake, a light fruitcake that is different from the the airier genoise. Liqueur could be incorporated into the batter.

    Like the French génoise sponge, it could be served plain, filled with jam and/or cream, iced, or simply dusted with powdered sugar.

    There is also Italian génoise, called pan di Spagna (“Spanish bread”) in Italy.
     

    SPONGE ROLL (ROULADE)

    A sponge roll is a thin layer of génoise, no more than an inch deep, baked in a sheet pan. It has the flexibility to be filled with jam and/or cream and and rolled into a Bûche de Noël (Yule Log), Jelly Roll, Swiss Roll† or other type of roulade.
     
    ‡A Swiss roll is also called a cream roll when filled with whipped cream or other cream variation, and is often used as another term for jelly roll.
     
    VICTORIA SPONGE CAKE

    England’s Queen Victoria enjoyed a slice of sponge cake with her afternoon tea, garnished with raspberry jam and whipped heavy cream (called double cream in the U.K.) or vanilla cream (vanilla-flavored whipped cream, called chantilly in French).

     
    Her preferences led to the creation of the Victoria Sponge. Jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge layers; the top of the cake is served plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar. It also came to be known as the Victoria Sandwich, and sometimes the Victorian Cake. (See the photo at the top of the page.)
     
    SPONGE CAKE VARIATIONS

  • Angel Cake or Angel Food Cake, a sponge cake that uses only the egg whites. This produces a white cake instead of a conventional sponge colored yellow by the egg yolks.
  • Castella, a Japanese sponge cake that’s a specialty of Nagasaki. It was introduced there by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century (see Pão de Castela, below), and is typically made in long loaves.
  • Cantonese Steamed Sponge Cake, steamed in a water bath and called Ma Lai Gao in Cantonese. You may find it in the U.S. at restaurants that serve dim sum
  • Chiffon Cake, invented in 1927 in Los Angeles. It is based on the sponge cake recipe plus some added fat. Here’s more about Chiffon Cake.
  • Eve’s Pudding, a Victoria Sponge made with sliced apples that cook at the bottom of the cake pan or baking dish, underneath the cake batter. Think of it as a cousin to Tarte Tatin.
  • Italian Génoise—see Pan di Spagna, below.
  • Ma Lai Gao—See Cantonese Steamed Sponge Cake, above.
  • Malay Steamed Cake, a steamed sponge, based on the Cantonese Steamed Sponge Cake.
  • Pandan Cake or Pandan Chiffon, a fluffy sponge cake of Indonesian and Malaysian origins, flavored with the light green juice of pandan leaves (which has notes of coconut, citrus and grass). It sometimes made a deeper green with food color.
  • Pan di Spagna, also called Italian Génoise or Torta Genovese. An Italian recipe that evolved in Sicily during the Spanish rule (1559–1714), it is flavored with vanilla and/or citrus zest. It is the cake base for Sicilian Cassata, Tiramisu, Zuccoto and Zuppa Inglese. [Source]
  • Pão de Castela, “bread from Castil,” is a Portuguese variation of Pan di Spagna.
  • Pão de Ló is an unsweetened bread sponge “cake,” created by a Genovese cook, Glovan Battista Cabona, in the mid-1700s‡‡. It was cooked in a water bath, which was more reliable than early ovens.
  • Passover Sponge Cake or Plava, is made with Kosher for Passover ingredients, with matzo meal, matzo flour or potato flour, replacing the wheat flour. It is sometimes flavored with almonds or pecans, apples or apple juice, dark chocolate, lemon, orange juice, or poppy seeds.
  • Tres Leches Cake, a sponge soaked in evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and whole milk. The recipe originated in Latin America.
  •  
    ‡‡According to About.com, the cook’s name was Giobatta Cabona, and was in the service of Marchese Domenico Pallavicini, Genova’s (Genoa in English) Ambassador to Spain in the mid-1700s. The Marchese asked for a new cake for a banquet, and Cabona created a light and airy confection he called Pâte Génoise, or Pasta Genovese in Italian. A slightly simplified version was called Pan di Spagna, to honor the Spanish Court.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Pool Party Punch

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pool party punch pinnacle recipe 230

    Match your cocktail to the pool (the miniature
    beach balls
    are plastic, made for doll houses).
    Photo courtesy Pinnacle Vodka.

     

    For your next pool party, make this Pool Party Punch, an tasty and fun idea from Pinnacle Vodka.

    Pinnacle made it with their Original Vodka; you can make it your own with a flavored vodka. If you prefer, you can substitute gin or tequila.
     
    RECIPE: POOL PARTY PUNCH

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part vodka
  • 2 parts lemonade
  • Splash of Blue Curaçao (we used DeKuyper)
  • Garnish: fruit of choice (we used blueberries on cocktail picks)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX ingredients and serve over ice. It’s that simple! Here’s a video with the full punch bowl recipe.

    MOCKTAIL VERSION

    Make a mocktail by exchanging the vodka for 7 UP, Sprite or white cranberry juice. Use blue food coloring instead of Blue Curaçao.

    And for garnish, perhaps a red Swedish Fish?

    Here’s the mocktail recipe.

     

    WHAT IS BLUE CURAÇAO

    Curaçao is an orange liqueur made from the dried peels of the laraha (LA-ra-ha) citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles (southeast of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean).

    The laraha is a de-evolved descendant of the Valencia orange, which was brought over from Spain in 1527. It did not thrive in the Southern Caribbean climate. The oranges that the trees produced were small, fibrous, bitter and inedible. The trees were abandoned, and the citrus fruit they produced evolved from a bright orange color into the green laraha.

    When life gives you bitter fruit, distill it! It turned out that while the flesh of the laraha was inedible, the dried peel remained as aromatic and pleasing as its cultivated forebear. Experimentation led to the distillation of Curaçao liqueur from the peel.

    The distilled liqueur is clear. Some brands are colored blue or bright orange to create color in cocktails. The color adds no flavor.

     

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    Blue Curaçao. The clear orange liqueur is colored blue. It is also made in an orange-colored version.

     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ORANGE LIQUEUR

    Here’s how the different types of orange liqueur differ, including Curaçao and triple sec, which are generic terms, plus brands like Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Gran Gala.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fresh Lemonade

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    It’s easy add a hit of extra flavor to lemon-
    ade, from lavender to jalapeño. Photo
    courtesy The Great Pepper Cookbook by
    Melissa’s Produce.

     

    August 20th is National Lemonade Day. If the only lemonade you drink comes from a bottle, you’ve never experienced real lemonade.

    Bottled drinks are not only pasteurized, but typically use reconstituted lemon juice. If you’ve ever tasted bottled lemon juice, you know that the flavor is simply not bright and lemony like fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

    Lemonade “made from concentrate” and sold in cartons like orange juice is the far better choice (as are cans of frozen lemonade concentrate).

    But the best choice of all is to squeeze fresh lemons. It takes just five minutes to make a single glass, and you can adjust the sweetening to your own taste.

    Leave a pitcher of lemonade unsweetened to accommodate every family member or guest. For a party, set up a bar where guests can add their own sweeteners—agave*, honey, noncaloric, superfine sugar or simple syrup. You can buy or easily make the latter two, which, unlike granulated sugar, dissolve easily in cold drinks.

    For adults bottles of gin, tequila or vodka expand the options.

     

    You can also use this recipe to make fresh limeade. We have more lemonade (or limeade) tips below.

    LEMONADE RECIPE

    You don’t want ice cubes to dilute your lemonade. Ideally, freeze lemonade or a complementary fruit juice (we especially like blueberry and watermelon) in ice cube trays so regular ice cubes won’t dilute the flavor. And keep the lemonade as chilled as possible to use fewer cubes.

    Ingredients For 15 Glasses

  • 1.5 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (6 large lemons)
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 cup of table sugar or equivalent sweetener
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: berries, cherries, lemon wheel, mint leaves, sprig of herbs, watermelon cubes
  • Optional: straws
  •  
    Ingredients For 1 Glass Of Lemonade

  • 2 tablespoons sugar or equivalent sweetener
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • Ice
  •  
    *Agave tends to be twice as sweet as the equivalent amount of other sweeteners, so use half as much.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the optional lemonade ice cubes a half day in advance or the night before. For the ice cubes, we save time by reconstituting frozen lemonade concentrate instead of making lemonade from scratch. When ready to make the lemonade…

    2. ROLL room temperature lemons on the counter top before squeezing. This maximizes the juice output.

    3. PREPARE the superfine sugar if you’re using granulated sugar. If you don’t have a box of superfine sugar, simply pulse regular table sugar to a superfine consistency in a food processor. The time you spend to do this is more than offset by the time it will take to get table sugar to dissolve. Another technique for dissolving table sugar is to boil the water several hours in advance, stir in the sugar to dissolve, and chill.

    4. COMBINE the water, lemon juice and three-quarters of the sweetener in a pitcher; mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust the sweetness bit by bit. Your goal is to keep the fresh lemon flavor first and foremost, and not make sugar the first thing you taste. It’s better to under-sweeten than over-sweeten: People can always add more sweetener to suit their individual tastes.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/lavender lemonade 230

    It’s easy to add a nuance of flavor to lemonade. Our favorites are ginger, lavender and lemongrass. Photo © Edith Frincu | Dreamstime.

     

    5. ADD ice to the glasses, fill with lemonade and garnish. Ideally, chill the lemonade prior to serving so it will be cold and require less ice.

    6. ADD the garnish: Slice extra lemons or contrasting limes into wheels, and cut notches so they sit on rim of glasses. You can also notch watermelon cubes or strawberries, place blueberries or raspberries on a cocktail pick, add a sprig of lavender or rosemary, etc.
     
    TO MAKE ONE GLASS AT A TIME

    1. COMBINE the sugar and hot water in a 16-ounce glass (we use a Pilsner glass) and stir until the sugar dissolves.

    2. ADD the the lemon juice and cold water. Fill the glass to the top with ice and serve.
     

    LEMONADE RECIPE TIPS

  • For a zero-calorie drink, use non-caloric sweetener.
  • For a low-glycemic drink, use agave nectar.
  • Varying the garnishes makes the recipe “new” each time.
  • A shot of gin, tequila or vodka turns lemonade into a splendid cocktail. Use citrus-flavored versions if you have them.
  • Infuse a second flavor by adding it to the pitcher of lemonade or infusing it in the simple syrup: fruit juice (blueberry, raspberry, strawberry), lychees, sliced chiles or ginger, organic lavender, etc.
  • If you don’t want to squeeze lemons every time you feel like lemonade, you can do a “bulk squeeze” and freeze the lemon juice in ice cube trays. Or, do what our busy mom did and use frozen lemonade concentrate.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sipping Rum

    Rum is a new world spirit, initially distilled by slaves on Caribbean sugar cane plantations. The distilled rum can be drunk in its clear state (white or blanco rum), or aged in oak barrels for various lengths of time, the process of which creates the different types of rum.

    Why is one blanco (or añejo, etc.) better than another? If the aging time is the same among different rums, the quality factors include the type of the sugar, yeast, and still and aging barrel and how long the fermentation is, and the quality of the still.

    Clear rum is mostly used for mixed drinks; among the more popular are the Daiquiri, Hurricane, Mojito, Piña Colada and Rum and Coke (Cuba Libre).

    Light rum, also used for mixed drinks, is aged briefly or not at all. As with other grades of rum, the longer it is aged (Añejo, Extra Añejo, etc.) the more complex it becomes.

    For National Rum Day, August 16th, here’s an explanation of how rum is made, courtesy of Cruzan Rum (there’s an infographic at the end of the page.

    1) Molasses, a by-product of refining sugar from sugar cane, travels from the sugar plantation to the distillery. There it is diluted with water—often spring water from local aquifers.

    2) Yeast cultures, often proprietary, are added to the molasses to start the fermentation. The yeast convert the sugars in the molasses to alcohol.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/cruzan single barrel rum 230

    Cruzan Single Barrel Rum, a fine sipping experience. Photo courtesy Cruzan.

     
    3) The alcohol is distilled into a clear rum distillate. Light rum, also called clear, crystal, silver and white rum, is bottled immediately. rum which is then aged for a brief or extensive period.

    4) Distilled rum to be aged goes into oak barrels, which are laid down in warehouses to age for a minimum of two years; some are aged for twelve years or more. As much as half the rum can be lost to evaporation, which is why, along with the cost of carrying the inventory, older rums are that much costlier.

     

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    Dark rum on the rocks. Photo courtesy Baccardi.

      5) After barrel aging, the rum is charcoal filtered and diluted to 80 proof; it is then bottled.

    See the infographic below.

    SINGLE BARREL RUM

    The finest rum for sipping is single barrel rum. If you’re looking for that ultimate experience, look for award-winning Cruzan Single Barrel Rum. It’s made from a proprietary blend of vintage rums that have been aged for up to 12 years,

    The term “single barrel” refers to the process: After its initial aging, the rum is handpicked and blended before it is barreled for a second time in new American oak barrels. It is slowly aged again, bottled and individually numbered, one cask at a time.

    The resulting spirit well-rounded, mellow and full-bodied, with a balance of caramel sweetness and oak from aging. The finish is smooth and buttery (the latter also from the oak.

    Single barrel rum is best enjoyed sipped neat or on the rocks. Cruzan’s is just $29.99 per 750ml bottle.
     

     
    HOW SINGLE BARREL RUM IS MADE

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/aged rum infographic cruzan 520

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY RECIPE: Creamsicle Cheesecake

    August 14th is National Creamsicle Day. How about a “Creamsicle” Cheese Cake?

    First, a bit of food history, and why we put the word Creamsicle within quotation marks:

    The Popsicle® was invented by a 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry in the Great Depression. Frank Epperson 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 Popsicle Corporation, which developed the Creamsicle® and collaborated with the Loew Movie Company for the nationwide marketing and sales of the product in movie theaters.

    Here’s the history of the Creamsicle. Today, Creamsicle® and Popsicle® are registered trademarks of the Unilever Corporation. Any company wishing to use the name for a product must get a license from Unilever.

    We adapted this recipe from Krista of BudgetGourmetMom.com. Check out her other delicious recipes!

    Krista recommends that you make the cheesecake a day in advance; but you can get by with a few hours of chilling.

       

    orange-cream-cheesecake-230

    Bake one or order this Orange Cream Cheesecake from Sweet Street Desserts.

     
    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time time is 40 minutes, plus a minimum of 3 hours for freezing/chilling.

    RECIPE: “CREAMSICLE” CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients
     
    For The Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  •  
    For The Cheesecake

  • 2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/diet orange n cream stewarts 230

    Want Creamsicle flavor without the calories? We love Diet Orange ‘n Cream from Stewart’s, also available in regular (with sugar). If you can’t find it locally, order it from Amazon. Photo courtesy Stewart’s Restaurants.

     

    For The Orange Creamsicle Layer

  • 1 three-ounce box orange flavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 eight-ounce container of whipped topping such as Cool Whip
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F.

    2. COMBINE combine the butter, sugar and graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl. Stir until combined. Pat into a 9″ springform pan. Set aside.

    3. WHIP the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time; then beat in the sour cream.

    4. POUR the filling into the crust. Bake for 40 minutes. Turn of the oven and crack the oven door for 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled…

     
    5. MIX the “Creamsicle” layer by stirring the gelatin with the boiling water until it dissolves. Gently whisk in the whipped topping until it’s completely combined. Set the cheesecake on a plate or dish to catch any dripping, and pour the “Creamsicle” mixture over the cheesecake.

    6. PLACE in the freezer for an hour. Remove from the freezer and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve, at least two hours; but it is preferable to chill it overnight.

    7. TO SERVE: Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to separate the gelatin layer from the side. Unhinge the pan and gently lift the bottom from the cheesecake.

     
    FOOD TRIVIA: THE CHEESECAKE IS A PIE!

    A cheesecake is not a cake, but an open face custard pie. Unlike a cake, there is no raised layer made with flour.

    Rather, like a pie, it has a bottom crust into which a filling (a cheese custard) is poured and baked.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Carpaccio For National Filet Mignon Day

    For National Filet Mignon Day you have two easy choices: cook it or enjoy it uncooked (yes, raw).

    The easiest ways to serve cooked filet mignon:

  • Whole, plated with vegetables and potatoes
  • Steak sandwich, on a toasted baguette with caramelized onions, or with lettuce and horseradish mayo (blend prepared horseradish into mayonnaise, to taste)
  • Steak salad, sliced and placed atop a bed of greens with blue cheese dressing; substituted for tuna in a Nicoise Salad; or substituted for ham in a Cobb Salad
  •  
    The easiest ways to serve raw filet mignon:

  • Sliced into carpaccio
  • Ground into steak tartare
  •  
    Carpaccio is the absolute easiest.
     
    WHAT IS CARPACCIO?

    Carpaccio is the Italian term for raw beef filet (crudo is the term for raw seafood). Typically made from sirloin, the dish was created in Venice in 1963, at the time of an exhibition dedicated to Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio (1465-1526).

       

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    A traditional carpaccio with basil-infused olive oil. Photo courtesy Atlantic Paradise Hotel | NYC.

     
    The carpaccio dish was based on the Piedmont speciality, carne cruda all’albese, created by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. Using fine Piedmontese beef (Piemontese in Italian), he originally prepared it for a countess whose doctors had recommended that she eat raw meat. [Source]

    It is a very popular first course.
     
    RECIPE: BEEF CARPACCIO

    To make carpaccio, buy freshly-cut filet mignon or sirloin from the butcher.

    Ingredients

  • Filet mignon or sirloin
  • Fine olive oil (infused oil, such as basil or rosemary, is great)
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese or white truffles
  • Baby arugula (or baby spinach if you prefer)
  • Optional: sliced onions
  • Toasted baguette on the side
  • Optional: lemon wedges
  • Dishes of flake salt (Cyprus, Maldon, Smoked—substitute coarse sea salt) and cracked pepper
  •  
    Ingredients

    1. PLACE the beef in the freezer for 30 minutes (longer if needed) to firm it and make it easier to slice thin. Using your sharpest knife, slice thin pieces. Arrange on individual plates or a platter. You can create a “sunburst” or “wheel spoke” or parallel slices, depending on the plate or platter.

    2. DRIZZLE olive oil over the top of the beef or around the rim of the plate. If using onions (not part of the original recipe), scatter over the beef, along with the shaved Parmesan. Lastly, top with the arugula.

    3. SERVE with optional lemon wedges and pass dishes of salt and pepper (or go the conventional route, with salt and pepper shakers).

     

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    Filet mignon. To make carpaccio, freeze it for 30 minutes to make it easy to slice thin pieces. Photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd.

     

    FILET MIGNON TRIVIA

  • Filet mignon is the most tender cut of beef. It is cut from the tenderloin, a muscle in the middle of the back between the sirloin and the ribs. Because the muscle is not weight-bearing, it contains less connective tissue. This is why it’s the most tender.
  • The name is French for “tender fillet” or “dainty fillet.” Fillet, pronounced FILL-it, is the English spelling of filet. Americans use the French spelling and pronunciation, fee-LAY min-YONE.
  • Filet mignon is the most expensive cut of beef. That’s not only because it’s so desirable for its tenderness, but because the tenderloin is very small.
  • The tenderloin weighs an average of five to seven pounds. It is not an even width; it tapers on both ends, so filets mignon can only be cut from the center. The center cut of a 5-1/2 pound tenderloin is just 2 pounds or so.
  • The entire center cut can be roasted whole—the dish known as Chateaubriand. For even more tenderness, you can poach the center cut. It’s our favorite dish for entertaining—very easy, requiring no time to check on it as it cooks. We’ll publish the recipe in a future tip.
  • The tenderloin is generally not as flavorful (“beefy”) as other premium cuts of beef (e.g., the rib eye or the strip steak). That’s why it is sometimes wrapped in bacon or served with a sauce.
  • Tournedos are small round pieces of beef cut from the tail and head of the tenderloin, often cooked with bacon.
  • The pieces that are too small to use as steak are often cut into 1-inch pieces for a Beef Stroganoff or other dishes. You can use them in a steak salad.
  •  
    SOME OTHER NAMES FOR FILET MIGNON

  • Dutch: ossenhaas
  • English (U.S.): medallions, tenderloin steak
  • English (UK, Ireland): fillet steak
  • English (Australia, New Zealand): eye fillet
  • French: filet de bœuf (the entire center-cut tenderloin is the dish known as Chateaubriand)
  • French (Québec): filet mignon
  • Italian: filetto
  • Norwegian: indrefilet
  • Portuguese: filé or filé mignon
  • Spanish: filete miñón or filet mignon
  • Swedish: oxfilé
  •  
    Source
      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: S’mores Cone, S’mores Dip & More Creative Recipes

    For National S’mores Day, August 10th, Reynolds Kitchens has developed two grill approaches that use aluminum foil instead of the original twig over a fire. You can also make them indoors on the stove top.

    The recipes evolve S’mores graham cracker sandwiches into two fun variations: s’mores cones and skillet s’mores.

    Use your favorite chocolate, milk or dark. We use Guittard or Valrhona wafers or chop up Lindt bars; but you can use chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.

    Below, we have links to the history of S’mores and graham crackers, and many more creative S’mores recipes, from S’mores ice cream cake and cupcakes to cinnamon S’mores with a cappuccino cocktail.

    RECIPE: S’MORES WAFFLE CONES

    Ingredients

  • Chocolate
  • Marshmallows (large or mini)
  • Graham crackers, broken into pieces
  •    

    smores-cone-reynolds-230

    S’mores cone. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchen.

  • Cones (use the smaller sugar cones instead of the larger waffle cones)
  • Aluminum foil
  •  

    Preparation

    1. STUFF the chocolate, marshmallows and graham cracker pieces into the cones, alternating to distribute the flavors.

    2. WRAP in foil and heat the packet over a campfire or grill for 3-5 minutes.

    3. REMOVE the packet carefully and allow it a few minutes to cool before unwrapping and eating.

     

    smores-skillet-fondue-reynolds-230sq

    S’mores dip. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchen.

     

    RECIPE: SKILLET S’MORES

    Ingredients

  • Chocolate chunks (you can break up chocolate bars)
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham crackers
  • Aluminum foil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate chunks in a skillet. Top with the marshmallows and place over the campfire or grill until melted.

    2. REMOVE from the heat, ideally with a skillet handle pot holder.

    3. DIP the graham crackers into the skillet s’mores.. Warn people to avoid touching the skillet!

     

    MORE S’MORES RECIPES

  • S’mores History
  • Graham Cracker History
  • Cinnamon S’mores with a Cappuccino Cocktail
  • Creative S’mores Recipes
  • Gourmet Marshmallow S’mores
  • Ice Cream S’mores
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake, Ice Cream Pie and Cupcakes
  • S’mores in a Cup
  • S’mores with Other Types Of Cookies
  •   

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