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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: S’mores Baked Alaska

/home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/smores baked alaska atwoodrestaurantnyc 230

S’mores Baked Alaska. Chef Brian molds the
ice cream on top of the cake layer before
covering the ice cream with Marshmallow
Fluff. We took an easier path, creating a
layered ice cream cake and covering the
Hotels.

 

For National S’mores Day on August 10th, here’s a brand new take on the classic, gooey chocolate bar, marshmallow and graham cracker cookie sandwich.

Chef Brian Millman at Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room in New York City has created S’mores Baked Alaska, a twist on the American classic of ice cream cake*, shrouded in freshly-whipped meringue and then browned under a broiler or with a kitchen torch.

WHY YOU CAN BAKE ICE CREAM WITHOUT MELTING IT

The beaten egg whites in the meringue protect the ice cream from melting because beating unfolds the protein molecules. This causes air bubbles to be trapped in the unfolded proteins. This foam acts as an insulating layer around the ice cream and protects it [for a brief time] from the heat.

This dynamic was discovered by a prominent physicist, Benjamin Thompson, at the beginning of the 19th century. Here’s the history of Baked Alaska.

 
WHY YOU CAN BAKE ICE CREAM WITHOUT MELTING IT

The beaten egg whites in the meringue protect the ice cream from melting because beating unfolds the protein molecules and causes air bubbles to be trapped in the unfolded proteins. This foam acts as an insulating layer around the ice cream and protects it from the heat.

This was discovered by a prominent physicist, Benjamin Thompson, at the beginning of the 19th century. Here’s the history of Baked Alaska.
 
Meringue has similar ingredients to marshmallow, which is why marshmallow cream also works.

  • Meringue ingredients: egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar
  • Marshmallow Fluff ingredients: egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, water, salt and vanilla extract
  •  

    READY TO MAKE YOUR OWN BAKED ALASKA?

    Chef Brian makes these substitutions to turn S’mores into Baked Alaska:

  • Chocolate cake and chocolate sauce instead of the S’mores chocolate bar
  • Marshmallow Fluff instead of the S’mores marshmallows and meringue
  • Graham cracker marshmallow ice cream and graham cracker crumbs instead of the whole graham crackers (Chef Brian makes his own marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream; but you can make hack a variation from a quart of vanilla, some mini marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs)
  •  
    He also adds a pinch of flake sea salt (Cyprus Flake Sea Salt and Maldon Flake Salt flake salts are typically available at specialty food stores or fine supermarkets).

    You can use your broiler to brûlée the Fluff; but if you have one, use a kitchen torch instead. With a torch:

  • You can evenly brown the entire surface. Under a broiler, when the top is perfectly browned, the sides will be much lighter.
  • You don’t have to check the broiler to see how the browning is going. A delicate process, it can turn from done to overdone in seconds. The torch gives you control.
  •  

    RECIPE: S’MORES BAKED ALASKA

    Here’s how we adapted Chef Brian’s concept to make our own version of S’mores Baked Alaska:

    You can bake the cake or buy a chocolate loaf cake (or any unfrosted chocolate cake). You can make the marshmallow ice cream from scratch (here’s a recipe—add the graham cracker crumbs), or buy ice cream and mix in the crumbled graham crackers.

    Ingredients

  • 1 chocolate cake: loaf, sheet or uniced layers
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream plus mini marshmallows, store-bought marshmallow ice cream* or homemade marshmallow ice cream
  • Graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs‡
  • 1 marshmallow fluff tub (16 ounces) Marshmallow Fluff or other marshmallow cream
  • Garnish: graham cracker crumbs
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/mini marshmallows debakery.weebly.com 230

    Add mini marshmallows to softened ice cream to make “quickie” marshmallow ice cream. Photo courtesy DeBakery.Weebly.com.

  • Optional garnishes: chocolate sauce, coarse sea salt or flake salt (like Maldon—see the different types of salt)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE “quick” marshmallow-graham cracker ice cream: Soften the quart of vanilla ice cream on the counter. While the ice cream softens, crumble the whole graham crackers between sheets of wax paper, using a rolling pin. When the ice cream is soft enough to stir, use a spatula to scoop it into a mixing bowl; add the crumbs and stir to combine. Then add the marshmallows and stir. Place the ice cream back into the container. The lid will no longer fit, so cover the top with plastic wrap.

    2. ASSEMBLE the ice cream cake. Create a middle layer of ice cream. For a loaf cake, cut in half horizontally; for a sheet cake, cut two “layers.” Wrap in plastic and place in the freezer. When ready to serve…

    3. PLACE the ice cream cake on a heat-proof (or sturdy) serving plate and use a spatula to cover the sides and top with Marshmallow Fluff. Use the torch to brûlée, on all sides. If the plate isn’t heat-proof, steer clear of the lower part of the cake.

    4. BRING to the table. Dip the knife in warm water to cut. Sprinkle the edges of each dessert plate with graham cracker crumbs and place the sliced cake on top. Pass the optional chocolate sauce and sea salt so guests can customize their portions.

     
    *Baked Alaska is typically made with a thin cake layer on the bottom, and two or more different flavors of ice cream on top. When we created our version of S’mores Baked Alaska, it was easier for us to use thicker layers of cake, for a 50:50 proportion of ice cream to cake. You can construct your Baked Alaska in the proportion you wish.

    †Chocolate Marshmallow ice cream from Turkey Hill, S’mores from Ben & Jerry’s, Schwan’s Chocolate Ripple and others have a base of chocolate ice cream. We prefer a vanilla base, so we made our own.

    ‡We crumbled our own when we could have purchased crumbs. The reason: We preferred the texture of the larger home-crumbled pieces of graham crackers in the ice cream. The purchased crumbs, however, are fine.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Oyster Shells

    In this era of recycling consciousness, it’s important to re-use something at least one more time before it ends up in the trash. There are suggestions galore, from re-using plastic dry cleaning bags to wrap clothes for wrinkle-free traveling, to filling empty drink bottles with water for in-home or grab-and-go use.

    Even if something must ultimately end up in a landfill, it’s surprising how many different items destined for the garbage can be re-purposed at least once.

    We were feasting upon a mammoth plateau de mer* at a local bistro, wondering if we should ask to take the empty lobster and shrimp shells home to make stock. Then it struck us: If the larger scallop shells have long been used to serve Coquilles St. Jacques and other foods, we could find uses for the cast-off oyster shells. The solution was easy: Use them as replacements for appetizer spoons (also called amuse-bouche spoons or tasting spoons, and a popular way to serve at cocktail bites).

    You can wash and refill the oyster shells ad infinitum; you can use scores of them at parties; and if you collect too many, you can give sets to your friends.

    As we munched our way through the platter of seafood, we thought of the visual fun of using those half-shells to serve something other than oysters. Here’s our preliminary list, especially appropriate since today, August 5th, is National Oyster Day:

  • Fill with salmon, scallop or tuna tartare
  • Ceviche “shooters”
  •    

    tuna-tartare-oyster-shell-jamesbeard-230

    What would you serve in an oyster shell—besides oysters, of course?James Beard Foundation. This dish was created by chef Kyle Koenig of Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, New York.

  • Add a fried oyster, topped with tartar sauce, horseradish cream or spicy mayo, garnished with chopped chives
  • Serve anything topped with tobiko, from a hard-boiled quail egg to grilled cauliflower florets
  • The natural: Oysters Rockefeller or “Scallops Rockefeller,” substituting scallops for the oysters
  • As a “spoon” for smoky whitefish salad, chopped herring salad or any salad
  • Use for non-seafood purposes, such as stuffed mushrooms (you can serve the mushrooms chopped instead of filling the caps)
  • Use for anything you would serve in an appetizer spoon (this is often a repurposed ceramic Chinese soup spoon)
  •  
    *French for “plate of seafood,” a plateau de mer, or plateau de fruits de mer, is a seafood appetizer that consists of raw mollusks (clam, oyster, periwinkle, scallop) and cooked shellfish (crab, lobster, prawn, shrimp). The seafood is served cold on a platter, on a bed of ice. At restaurants, depending on the size ordered, the platter can be two or three tiers high and plated in silver for a grand presentation.

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/tasting spoons 1 libbey 230

    Why purchase tasting spoons when you can repurpose oyster shells to do the same thing? These spoons are from Libbey.

     

    NON-CULINARY USES FOR OYSTER SHELLS

    We traveled the Web to see how others were using empty oyster shells. Here’s what we found:

  • Crafts. Turn the shells into craft projects.
  • Gardening. Crush and mix them into your garden soil. The shell is 95% calcium carbonate and provides a slow release of calcium that de-acidifies and helps balance soil pH, loosen clay and improve drainage. That’s good news for tomato and other vegetable gardens.
  • Gardening. Similarly, use crushed shells in container gardening; the coarse texture of the crushed shells promotes drainage. Sprinkle them in the bottom of planting holes for vegetables and bulbs. Be sure to use crushed shells, not commercial oyster shell flour, for an even release of calcium throughout the growing season.
  • Gardens. Save enough shells to create a garden path. Oyster shell paths are a recycling effort that originated in Colonial times: If you’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg, you’ve seen them. They’re a charming alternative to gravel, and can also be used as a cover material for patios, courtyards and driveways.
  • Aquaculture. If you live near salt water, or are headed there, toss the dried oyster shells back into the sea. Young oysters will attach themselves to the empty shells, helping to propagate more oysters. The person who contributed this dip dumps the shells near her dock to create a mini oyster reef. “It creates a habitat for crabs, for which we have crab-pots (YUM!).”
  •  
    If you have other ideas, let us know!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Watermelon Pizza

    How about a watermelon pizza for National Watermelon Day, August 3rd? Here are two snack or dessert recipes, and they couldn’t be easier.

    The first is from the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Watermelon.org.

    RECIPE: WATERMELON PIZZA

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 watermelon round, from a watermelon 8 to 10 inches in
    diameter, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/watermelon pizza watermelon.org 230

    Pizza for dessert! Photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board.

     
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the watermelon round on paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Place on a serving platter and cut into 6 wedges, leaving them in the shape of a pizza.

    2. SPREAD the preserves (the “sauce” on top and sprinkle the toppings over the preserves. It’s ready to serve!

     

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/watermelon pizza zespriFB 230

    Easiest watermelon pizza: Just add sliced kiwi! Photo courtesy Zespri | Facebook.

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON KIWI PIZZA

    The second watermelon pizza couldn’t be easier. If you like, you can add on additional fruits—whatever you have on hand, from stone fruit slices (peaches, nectarines, plums, etc.) to orange segments.

    Without the chocolate chips, coconut, raisins and walnuts, it qualifies as a “diet dessert.”

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 watermelon round, from a watermelon 8 to 10 inches in
    diameter, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • Optional: other sliced fruits, as desired
  • Optional garnish: shredded coconut “cheese”
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the watermelon round on paper towels to remove the excess moisture. Place on a serving platter and cut into 6 wedges, leaving them in the shape of a pizza.

    2. PEEL and slice the kiwi. Place on slice on each watermelon wedge. Sprinkle with optional coconut.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 20+ Ways To Use Pimento Cheese

    Pimento cheese is known as a Southern specialty, along with barbecue, catfish and hush puppies, grits, red velvet cake and sweet tea. Yet, according to a Southern culinary historian, the soft cheese and red bell pepper spread is a Northern invention.

    THE HISTORY OF PIMENTO CHEESE

    Today’s combination of grated Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, seasonings and finely diced red pimento (the Americanized spelling of the Spanish pimiento, red bell pepper) started in the North as a cream cheese-based spread. It blended the newly-introduced blocks of cream cheese with canned pimentos, newly imported from Spain. The two ingredients may have been first combined by home economists, women who developed new recipes and other tips for homemakers that were eagerly read in books, magazines, newspapers and on product labels.

    In the 1870s, New York State farmers farmers began to make a soft, unripened cheese modeled after the French Neufchâtel cheese. Within a few decades, a recipe for cream cheese appeared, made by mixing cream into the Neufchâtel curd. The new soft cheese was molded into small wood block forms.

    Because the city of Philadelphia had a reputation for fine food, a New York-based manufacturer, Phenix Cheese Company, named its product Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese. It was the leading brand then as now (J.L. Kraft and Bros., established in 1909, acquired Phenix Cheese Company in 1930; the company is now called Kraft Foods Group).

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pimento cheeseburger gardeniaNYC 230

    The pimento cheeseburger served at Gardenia restaurant in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Photo courtesy Gardenia.

     
    THE PIMENTO CHEESE SANDWICH TAKES HOLD

    The cream cheese/pimento spread became a standard on tea sandwiches, and spread (no pun intended) from the tea party set to the working class. It found its way onto lunch carts, along with the egg salad and ham and cheese sandwiches; and into sandwich shops and diners.

    The first printed recipe unearthed so far is in Good Housekeeping magazine in 1908, for a sandwich filled that blended softened cream cheese, minced pimentos, mustard and chives. The following year, the Up-to-Date Sandwich Book published a simpler version: Neufchâtel cheese with chopped pimentos and a bit of salt on lightly buttered white bread.

    Before World War I, dozens of similar recipes appeared in magazines and cookbooks. Soon after World War I, southern farmers began growing pimentos. Locals mixed the canned domestic pimentos with grated Cheddar instead of cream cheese, which was then less available in the southern states.

    In the South, pimento cheese remains a choice on tearoom menus, sliced into triangles; and as finger sandwich with cocktails. Commercial brands of pimento cheese can be found in most supermarkets, to be spread on crackers at home. Every home cook has his or her favorite recipe.

    Back to the original for a moment: Philadelphia Brand actually sold two flavored cream cheeses in addition to the original plain: Chive and Pimento. All three were staples in our home. Alas, Philadelphia Pimento Cream Cheese was discontinued a few years ago in favor of a dozen more modern flavors, including Blueberry and Spicy Jalapeño. It seems that today’s consumers would rather have Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese than Pimento. Chive has survived as Chive & Onion.

    If you want a taste of the original pimento peerfection, you’ll have to blend your own diced pimentos into cream cheese. But if you want to embrace Southern-style pimento cream cheese, here’s how to do it, along with a recipe to make your own Cheddar-based pimento cheese:
     
    HOW TO SERVE IT: PIMENTO CHEESE FOR BREAKFAST

  • Breakfast tortilla: Warm a corn tortilla in a skillet or the microwave. Spread with pimiento cheese and top with two fried eggs and salsa. Optional garnishes: chopped green onions, sliced black olives, chopped fresh herbs.
  • Cheese omelet
  • Toast spread (bacon optional)
  • Poached eggs on pimento cheese toast
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/pimento cheese spread 230

    With wine, beer or cocktails: pimento
    cheese and crackers, toasts or sliced
    baguette. Photo by Katharine Pollak |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    PIMIENTO CHEESE FOR LUNCH

  • Biscuit sandwich, with lettuce and tomato.
  • Cheeseburger: Spread a heaping knife-full of pimento cheese atop a grillled burger. Add the top bun and wait a minute for the cheese to melt.
  • Dip For fries: Dipping works better with a creamier style pimento cheese (see above). Or, thin the spread with milk, sour cream, mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt.
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • General sandwich spread (ham, grilled vegetables, sliced egg, turkey, e.g.)
  • Stuffed grilled tomato or bell pepper
  • Taco/burrito: Warm a small tortilla and spread it with pimento cheese. Top with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, taco-seasoned beef, grated cheese, sour cream and salsa. Sprinkle with chopped green onions; add shredded lettuce and tomatoes.
  • Toasted egg sandwich: Spread pimento cheese on toast; top with fried, scrambled or sliced hard-cooked eggs.
  • Wrap sandwich: Spread instead of mayo on a ham, turkey, grilled veggies or other wrap.
  •  
    PIMENTO CHEESE FOR HORS D’OEUVRE & SNACKS

  • Crudité dip (add more milk, cream or mayo to thin to the desired consistency)
  • Cracker/toast/crostini spread
  • Deviled eggs (mix with the yolks)
  • Stuffed celery
  • Stuffed cherry tomatoes or baby potatoes
  •  
    PIMENTO CHEESE FOR DINNER

  • Baked potato/stuffed potato
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Potatoes gratin
  • Quick fondue
  •  
    RECIPE: PIMENTO CHEESE SPREAD

    You can find recipes made with Cheddar, Cheddar-cream cheese blends and other cheeses. This one sticks with classic Cheddar.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimiento, drained
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (ground red pepper)
  • 1 block (8 ounces) extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 block (8 ounces) sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the mayonnaise, pimiento, Worcestershire sauce, onion and cayenne in a large bowl. Stir in the cheese.

    2. CHILL in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld. Serve at room temperature. The sprea can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.

     
    Variations

  • CAROLINA STYLE: Add 1/4 cup diced olives and jalapeños.
  • CREAMY: Make the spread creamier by blending in 4 ounces of cream cheese.
  • HOLIDAY: Add 1/4 cup cranberry sauce (preferably whole cranberry sauce).
  • MEXICAN: Add 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo sauce, drained; or 1 teaspoon dried chipotle. Adjust quantity to taste.
  • ONION: Add finely-diced red onion and fresh parsley to taste.
  • SMOKY: Add 1/4 cup cooked bacon, drained and crumbled.
  • SWEET & TANGY: Add some pickle relish. Start with a heaping tablespoon, drained.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: Salted Watermelon Milkshake

    For National Watermelon Day, August 3rd, try a salted watermelon milkshake.

    Salt with watermelon? Actually, as a pinch of salt helps most foods, it’s an old trick to bring out more flavor (here, sweetness) in the watermelon.

    This recipe is courtesy of The Milk Shake Factory in Pittsburgh. It requires watermelon sorbet; but if you can’t find it or don’t want to make it (here’s a watermelon sherbet recipe), substitute strawberry or raspberry sorbet.

    Or, make an easy watermelon granita with this watermelon granita recipe, minus the basil. No ice cream maker is used; just watermelon, sugar, water, lemon juice and an ice cube tray.

    Prep time for the milkshake is 10 minutes.

    RECIPE: SALTED WATERMELON MILKSHAKE

    Ingredients For 1 Large Or 2 Small Servings

  • 8 ounces watermelon sherbet
  • 4 ounces whole milk
  • Two 2-inch cubes seedless watermelon, rind removed
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 4 ounces soda water
  • Optional garnish: mini chocolate chips
  • Optional garnish: watermelon wedge
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/salted watermelon shake themilkshakefactory 230

    Salted watermelon milkshake. Photo courtesy The Milk Shake Factory | Pittsburgh.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the watermelon sherbet, milk, watermelon slices and a pinch of sea salt in a blender. Blend until the sherbet and watermelon slices break down, approximately 45 seconds. Add the soda water and blend 10 seconds more.

    2. POUR the mixture into a 20-ounce drinking glass or two 10-ounce glasses. Garnish with mini chocolate chips and skewer the watermelon wedge, or notch it deeply and anchor it to the rim of the glass. Serve immediately.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Ice Cream Sandwich Sundae

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/ice cream sandwich sundae grandhyattNYC 230

    Ice cream sandwich sundae. Photo courtesy
    Grand Hyatt Hotel | NYC.

      August 2nd is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. We love this ice cream sandwich sundae, served at the New York Central Bar and Kitchen, located in the Grand Hyatt Hotel right above Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal.

    You can make it at home by adapting New York Central’s recipe with your own favorite flavors. Theirs combines summery flavors and colors:

  • A lemon ice cream sandwich on house-made graham crackers
  • A slice of raspberry mousse cake topped with vanilla frozen yogurt
  • A drizzle of dessert sauce (caramel, chocolate or fruit purée)
  • Candied violet petals (substitute blueberries)
  •  
    According to the New York Times, the American ice cream sandwich was born in the Bowery neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in the early 1899s, when a pushcart vendor placed vanilla ice cream slices between two graham cracker wafers and sold them for a penny to shoe shiner boys and stockbrokers.*

     
    According to an article in The New York Tribune in July 1900, the pushcart vendor who was selling the sandwiches was so busy pressing them into a tin mold to order, that he didn’t have time to make change and insisted that customers pay the exact price of one cent.

    The treat was revolutionary: hand-held and portable (the cone had not yet taken hold).

    An earlier predecessor, without the wafers, was a slice of vanilla ice cream cut from a larger slab by Italian street vendors in London. It was known as an “okey-pokey,” the English adaptation of the vendors’ Italian phrase, “o che poco,” meaning “oh, how little [money].” The name which gave way to the “Hokey Pokey” song.

    The modern ice cream sandwich that we know, a slice of vanilla between two rectangular chocolate wafers, was invented in 1945 by Jerry Newberg, who sold ice cream sandwiches at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh.

    By the time we were kids, Nestlé’s ice cream sandwich was our favorite treat from the corner grocer’s ice cream case. (Our tastes have evolved to more premium goods.)

    Who ever thought the ice cream sandwich of childhood would become this elite?

     
    *Source: Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making by Jeri Quinzio/

     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Fruit Salad With Shrimp

    We really like this idea from RA Sushi: A shrimp salad with watermelon cubes, kiwi slices, tangerine segments, baby arugula leaves and microgreens (you can substitute sprouts or herbs).

    RA Sushi serves it as an entrée, with a Watermelon Margarita to wash it down (the Margarita recipe is below). The fruit salad dressing recipes below are theirs.

    The natural juices from the fruits provide the “dressing,” but you can create a citrus vinaigrette, a honey vinaigrette, or simply toss with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lime juice (with salt and pepper to taste).

    Grilling the shrimp adds another flavor dimension, but boiled shrimp work as well. You can substitute crab, lobster, scallops, seared/grilled fish cubes or for vegetarians, grilled tofu.

    The fruit salad has a counterpoint of spicy greens (baby arugula, for example), but you can also add a base of lettuce if you’d like more roughage, and you can add heat as well. Use the recipe template below to customize your ideal salad. Aim to use three different fruits of varying colors, to add interest to the dish. Tropical fruits work very well with seafood.

    RECIPE: FRUIT SALAD WITH SHRIMP

    Customize your recipe by choosing from these groups:

       

    shrimp-fruit-salad-RASushi-230

    Shrimp and fruit salad. Photo courtesy RA Sushi Restaurant.

  • Fruits: banana, clementine/tangerine/orange, grapes, guava, kiwi, lychee, mango, papaya, pineapple, star fruit (caramboli)
  • Spicy greens: baby arugula or watercress
  • Other vegetables: herbs, lettuces, red jalapeño, red bell pepper
  • Optional garnish(es): pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, toasted coconut, trail mix
  • Dressing: Citrus vinaigrette, honey vinaigrette or EVOO and lime juice
  •  
    RECIPE: CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 1-1/3 Cups

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blood orange juice or half regular orange juice, half lime juice
  • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest from blood oranges
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING the citrus juice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat to a simmer and reduce to 1/3 cup.

    2. COMBINE the reduced citrus juice, vinegar, shallot, thyme and zest in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture while whisking until the emulsion is combined and thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until needed.
     
    RECIPE: HONEY-LIME VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 1-1/3 Cups

  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper or cayenne pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the lime juice and honey in a blender and mix. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

    2. SEASON as desired.

     

    watermelon.org-margarita-230

    Watermelon Margaritas. Photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board.

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON MARGARITA

    Ingredients For 2 Large Cocktails

  • 2 cups (16 ounces) cubed, seeded watermelon
  • 6 ounces tequila
  • 3 ounces triple sec or other orange liqueur (Cointreau, GranGala, Grand Marnier, etc.)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Kosher salt or coarse sea salt for the glass rims
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: watermelon spear, lime wheel or both
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the watermelon in a blender. Add the tequila, triple sec and the juice of 1/2 lime.

     
    2. PLACE the salt on a plate. DIP the rims of the glasses into 1/4 inch of water in a shallow bowl, then twist the into the salt. Add ice, pour in the drink and serve.
     
    FOR TWO FROZEN MARGARITAS

    1. PURÉE 1-1/2 cups cubed, seeded watermelon in a blender.

    2. ADD 1 cup tequila, 1/2 cup orange liqueur and 1/2 cup fresh lime juice , plus 3 cups of ice. Blend until desired consistency is reached.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cook With Fresh Blueberries

    August is National Blueberry Month. The harvest is full, the prices are at the year’s low, and any food lover should relish the opportunity to eat lots of them.

    And cook with them. Beyond the all-American blueberry pie, you can make:

  • Baked treats: cheesecakes, cobblers, crumbles, fruit tarts, muffins, scone
  • Beverages: cocktails, lemonade, smoothies
  • Breakfasts: in cereal, muffins, pancakes, omelets, scones, yogurt and waffles
  • Frozen desserts: ice cream and sorbet
  • Salads: fruit salads and green salads
  • Soup: in chilled fruit soup, all blueberries or mixed berries
  •  
    We’ll focus on some of those tomorrow. Today, we’re starting with dessert; specifically, blueberry ice cream and blueberry pound cake. Both are easy to make, and won’t keep you in the kitchen for too long.

       

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    Blueberry ice cream. Photo and recipe courtesy Driscoll’s berries.

     
    HOW TO BUY FRESH BLUEBERRIES

    Fresh blueberries should be firm and dry (no leakage or juice stains on the bottom of the container), with a smooth skin covered with a silvery white bloom. The color should be deep purple-blue to blue-black. Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe and won’t ripen once they are picked, but you can use them when cooking with added sugar.

    Refrigerate fresh blueberries, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container. Before using, wash the berries, removing any stems, leaves and smashed fruit, plus berries that look soft, shriveled or dots of white mold.
     
    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM

    Ingredients For 1 Quart

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the blueberries, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Mash the softened blueberries and stir with a fork. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

    2. PURÉE the berry mixture and milk in a blender or food processor. When smooth, stir in the cream. Press the purée through a sieve into a bowl. Press on the solids with back of a spoon to extract the remaining juices.

    3. COVER and chill the mixture at least 2 hours, or until cold. You can make the recipe up to this step, up to 1 day in advance.

    4. PROCESS the cold mixture in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer it to an airtight container and place in the freezer to harden.

     

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    Fresh blueberry pound cake with blueberry sauce. You’ll notice how much firmer and tastier fresh berries are, compared to baking with frozen berries. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY POUND CAKE

    This easy recipe is from QVC’s chef David Venable. David tip: “Be sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature before beginning. And, only use fresh blueberries in the sauce; it will have a better consistency.”

    The recipe is easy because David uses a pound cake mix. We made our own pound cake recipe from scratch, adding just the cup of blueberries and the sour cream from the cake ingredients below.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

    Ingredients For The Cake

  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 box pound cake mix or your own pound cake recipe
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1/8 cup + 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • Zest of a half lemon (zest the whole lemon; the rest goes into
    the sauce)
  •  
    Ingredients For The Blueberry Sauce

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest of half a lemon
  •  
    Garnish

  • Optional: whipped cream or vanilla or blueberry ice cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a loaf pan. Set aside.

    2. PREPARE the cake: Toss the blueberries with flour in a bowl. Set aside.

    3. PLACE the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides and process for 3 more minutes. Stir in the flour-coated blueberries with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45–55 minutes.

    4. MAKE the sauce: Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process for 4–6 minutes. Drizzle the sauce on top of the sliced pound cake. Top with whipped cream and serve; or make it a la mode with a scoop of ice cream.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Watermelon Sushi

    We just finished National Watermelon Month (July), but National Watermelon Day is coming up on August 3rd. Here are two ways to enjoy it that may not yet be in your repertoire.
     
    WATERMELON SUSHI ROLL

    Mango has been a familiar ingredient in sushi rolls for years. But it’s summertime, the season for for watermelon.

    In the spirit of eating seasonally, Haru Sushi substitutes fresh watermelon for the mango in a roll made with snow crab, green onion and mint. It’s topped with shrimp and served with a lemon dressing in addition to (or instead of) soy sauce.

    If you want to make something similar at home, cantaloupe and honeydew work equally well.

    Haru pairs the Watermelon Roll with Watermelon Lemonade, a sweet-tart blend of lemon-infused vodka, saké, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur (a NIBBLE favorite), fresh watermelon, lemon juice and thyme-infused simple syrup. The recipe is below.

       

    watermelon-roll-snow crab-greenonion-mint-shrimp-haru-230

    Watermelon combines with conventional ingredients in this sushi roll. Photo courtesy Haru.

     
    If you’d rather have someone make them for you, head to one of Haru’s five locations in Manhattan and one in Boston.

    And if you’d like to know the different types of sushi better, check out our Sushi Glossary.

    RECIPE: WATERMELON LEMONADE

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 5 fresh watermelon cubes
  • 1½ ounces Absolut Citron vodka
  • ½ ounce St.-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ½ ounce thyme-infused simple syrup
  • Soda water to fill
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: thyme sprigs wrapped with lemon peel, skewered (see photo above)
  •  
    For The Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/watermelon lemonade 230 haru

    It’s not so innocent: This watermelon lemonade has watermelon and lemonade, but also citron vodka and elderflower liqueur. Photo courtesy Haru.

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the simple syrup: Combine the thyme, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Strain the thyme from the syrup and refrigerate in an airtight container.

    2. MUDDLE the watermelon cubes in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients (except garnish) and ice, and shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds

    3. POUR into a tall, ice-filled glass. Garnish with thyme and lemon peel.
     
    THE HISTORY OF WATERMELON

    Watermelon, Citrullus lanatus, is believed to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa (it covers much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa). An ancestor of the modern watermelon still grows wild there.

    Watermelon is a member of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. Its cousins include cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins and squash.

     
    Watermelons are about 92% water—that’s how they got their English name. In ancient times, travelers carried watermelons as a substitute for potable water, which was not easy to find.

    Watermelon was cultivated as early as 2000 B.C.E. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt. You can tell how much the Egyptians enjoyed watermelon: Seeds were found in the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen, so his farmers could grow it in the afterlife.

    Thirsty traders passing through the Kalahari, refreshed by the fruit, began to sell the seeds along the trade routes. The cultivation of watermelon spread throughout Africa.

    Most culinary historians believe that watermelon spread from Egypt to other Mediterranean basin countries on merchant trading ships. According to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, the word first appeared in English dictionaries in 1615. Watermelon seeds came to the U.S. with African slaves as well as with British colonists.

    Watermelon was cultivated in China and other parts of Asia by the end of the 9th century C.E. or the early 10th century. Today China is the world’s number one producer of watermelon, Turkey is the second-largest producer and Iran is third. The U.S. is the world’s fourth-largest producer of watermelon, tied with Brazil.

    Watermelons come in a variety of shapes and sizes: Oval, round, even square, developed in Japan for smaller refrigerators. The flesh can be red or yellow; botanists have also developed varieties with orange and white flesh and even this multicolored blue-green watermelon.
     
    Here’s more about watermelon history, nutrition and tips.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Our 20+ Favorite Ways To Use Mustard

    National Mustard Day is the first Saturday in August—which happens to be today. The holiday was initiated in 1988 by a mustard lover named Jill Sengstock, and was taken under the wing of the National Mustard Museum in 1991. If you’re anywhere near Middleton, Wisconsin, you can join in the day of mustard-centric family activities (or is that family-centric mustard activities?).

    Mustard has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years, beginning in India in 3000 B.C.E. It grew wild in the foothills of the Himalayas.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans used mustard as a condiment; some actually chewed the mustard seeds with their meat. Egyptian pharoahs were buried with seeds to use in the afterlife.

    Fast forward: By the 1400s, mustard had spread through Europe, with each region making its own style. Mustard came to the U.S. with European immigrants. Mustard came to America in the 1700s and immigrants established mustard businesses. The style of the day was strong, spicy and brown, but later, the yellow “ballpark” mustard style was born in the U.S.A. Here’s more history of mustard.

       

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    Five of the 20+ types of mustard made
    by Maille Mustard.

     
    Today, there are dozens of different types of mustard—far beyond the all-American yellow mustard (like French’s), brown mustard (Chinese mustard, like Colman’s), Dijon (like Grey Poupon) and whole grain (like moutarde à l’ancienne—one variety, moutarde de Meaux, is called the “king of mustards” by connoisseurs).

    For National Mustard Day, commit to trying any of these you aren’t familiar with, plus a flavored mustard. Beyond honey mustard, look for Roquefort mustard, tarragon mustard and walnut mustard—three of our favorites.

    20+ WAYS TO USE MUSTARD

    Beyond hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches, mustard is a natural complement to many foods. Before we start the conventional list, take a look at this first course: gravlax with mustard ice cream. There’s no sugar in the ice cream, just novelty. Think of it as a cold mustard cream sauce!

     

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    Pâté with whole grain mustard (also called grainy mustard and in French, moutarde a l’ancienne). Photo courtesy Dusek’s |
    Chicago.

     
  • Barbecue: The essential in South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce, and a help to tomato-based barbecue sauces, to cut the sweetness.
  • Butter: Blend mustard with butter and lemon for a compound butter topping for toast, grilled meat or sauteed meat and seafood.
  • Canapés: Spread a base of bread or cucumber with a flavored mustard, then top with cheese, pâté, meat or other ingredients.
  • Charcuterie: As a condiment with bacon, ballotines, confits, galantines, ham, pâtés, sausages and terrines.
  • Cheese: Serve mustard as a condiment with strong cheeses (more about cheese condiments).
  • Chicken: Mustard brightens chicken stews and makes a delicious glaze for chicken breasts and wings.
  • Dip: Serve it straight or mixed with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt, with crudités, chips, fries and pretzels. Mustard is also an ingredient in beer and Cheddar dips. You can also add it to a Mexican queso dip.
  • Eggs: Mustard adds complexity to deviled eggs. It also makes a delicious sauce for poached eggs.
  • Fish: Sturdy fish like salmon and tuna are wonderful with a mustard crust. As a glaze, brush it on salmon fillets before broiling or on tuna before searing. Here’s a recipe for a mustard glaze for fish.
  • Glaze: In addition to fish, glaze chicken, ham, pork and lamb.
  • Grilled meats: Use mustard as your condiment for meats (including sausages) and poultry.
  • Ground Meat & Seafood: Add a spoonful along with other seasonings, to burgers, crab cake, meat loaf, etc.
  • Mussels: Swirl mustard into lager-steamed mussels and garnish with dill. Here’s a mussels and mustard recipe from Pierre Franey, chef of the legendary (and belated) Le Pavillon restaurant in New York City.
  • Mustard Sauce: Here’s a recipe for mustard sauce.
  • Pan Sauces: After sautéing chicken breasts or searing steaks, whisk the fond (the browned bits at the bottom of the pan) with a splash of wine and a dollop of mustard, into a tasty sauce.
  • Pasta: Add acidity to a cream sauce for pasta with a spoonful of mustard. Make a butter-mustard sauce for noodles with grainy mustard.
  • Potatoes: Add a spoonful of mustard to mashed potatoes. Then top it with crumbled bacon and minced chives or scallions! Add Dijon mustard to a gratin; add a bit to a sour cream or yogurt sauce for potatoes and vegetables.
  • Roasts: To create a beautiful crust for a leg of lamb, pork loin or turkey breast, rub it with an herb mustard before roasting.
  • Salads: Add a spoonful to the “protein” salads—chicken, egg, ham, tuna—and the side salads—cole slaw, potato salad and macaroni salad.
  • Sandwich Spread: Mix mayonnaise with mustard, half and half or to taste. It adds flavor and cuts the calories and fat of the mayo in half.
  • Soup: Add a spoonful to a pot of dull soup.
  • Tartar Sauce: Here’s a zingy recipe from Colman’s.
  • Vinaigrette: A mustard dressing is a classic with salad greens, but it’s also delicious with roasted vegetables (try it with parsnips and turnips!).
  •  
    Thanks to Colman’s Mustard for some of these yummy ideas. Click the link for recipes.

      

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