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TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Animal Crackers

National Animal Crackers Day is celebrated on April 18th.

You’re never too adult to enjoy animal crackers..and since your palate is likely much evolved since childhood, to taste the superiority of homemade versions.

Any adult will smile at a plate of cookie nostalgia with a cup of coffee or tea (and listen to six-year-old Shirley Temple sing “Animal Crackers In My Soup”).

The standard-bearer, Barnum’s Animal Crackers, have far less sugar than other cookies. In fact, they’re barely sweet enough to be called a cookie.

So why are they called crackers?

Animal crackers originated in Britain in 1889, when P.T. Barnum toured with his circus. British manufacturers called them animal biscuits, biscuits being the British word for cookie.

The cookies were exported to the U.S. When American manufacturers made their own versions, they changed the word biscuit to cracker instead of cookie (we opine, because consumers would expect cookies to be sweeter).

Today, brands like Annie’s and Best Choice call their products animal cookies…and add a more sugar to the recipe.

Here’s more history of animal crackers.

This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, uses small (2” to 2¼”) spring-loaded plunger cutters. You can buy a set of four for $9.95: elephant, giraffe, lion and zebra. You plunge down, then pop the dough right out.

If you don’t want to buy the cutters, use whatever animal cookie cutters you have—even large ones.
 
RECIPE: ANIMAL COOKIES

This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, makes sweet, buttery cookies. It uses Princess Cake & Cookie Flavor, an extract that combines vanilla and lemon and emulates the flavor profile and aroma of Barnum’s Animal Crackers.

If you don’t want to purchase a bottle, you can substitute only vanilla extract, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract, almond extract, anise extract, other flavor of choice.

Prep time is 15 to 20 minutes; bake time is 8 to 10 minutes per sheet.

Ingredients For About 5 Dozen Cookies

  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, soft
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Princess Cake and Cookie Flavor (or substitute)
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oat flour or finely ground rolled oats
  •  

    Homemade Animal Cookies

    Animal Cookie Cutters

    Homemade Animal Crackers

    [1] Homemade animal cookies. [2] Make your own with these little plunger cookie cutters (photos #1 and #2 courtesy King Arthur Flour). [3] Here’s a vegan recipe from Dessert With Benefits.

     
    Preparation

    1. BEAT together the butter, sugar, honey, salt, baking soda, and flavor until well combined. Add the flour and oat flour, mixing to combine.

    2. DIVIDE the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk; then wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease several baking sheets, or line them with parchment.

    4. TAKE one piece of dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough 1/4″ thick.

    5. DIP the animal cookie cutters in flour (each time you cut), then use them to cut the dough. Using the cutters may take a little practice, not to mention patience making so many small cookies. Press the cutter down by the outside edges first, then use the plunger to emboss before picking up; and push the plunger again to release the cookie over the baking sheet.

    6. TRANSFER the cookies to the prepared baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes. This help the cookies retain their shape and imprint.

    7. BAKE the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges (do not let the cookies brown). Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until set. Then transfer the cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
     
     
    HOW ABOUT 3-D ANIMAL CRACKERS

    Check ‘em out!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Hold The Hollandaise, Grab The Skyr

    Nordic Eggs Benedict

    Bowl Of Skyr

    Icelandic Provisions Skyr

    Skyr Breakfast, Eggs, Smoked Salmon

    [1] Nordic “Eggs Benedict” with skyr “hollandaise” sauce. [2] A bowl of plain skyr. You’ll also find it in vanilla and fruit flavors. [3] A container of plain skyr. [4] Don’t want the bread? Here’s another eggs and smoked salmon recipe with skyr. (all photos courtesy Icelandic Provisions).

     

    April 16th is National Eggs Benedict Day. This year, it also happens to be Easter Sunday.

    You want something festive for breakfast, but not so rich that you’ll be weighted down for Easter dinner.

    Here’s a tip to trim Eggs Benedict—laden with ham and egg-rich hollandaise sauce—into a streamlined Nordic version: Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict With Skyr “Hollandaise.”

    Authentic hollandaise is made with egg yolks and butter, and seasoned with lemon juice, salt, pepper and often, a dash of cayenne. (Here’s a recipe.)

    Hold the eggs, hold the butter: The skyr “hollandaise” is turned into a flavorful sauce with skyr and seasonings by Icelandic Provisions skyr), a major producer of skyr.

    They removed the fatty ingredients yet deliver an even creamier, flavorful sauce. We should call it “skyr sauce,” but few would understand what that means.

    Which brings is to:

    What is skyr?

    Skyr (pronounced skeer) is a densely concentrated (thicker than Greek yogurt but similar in texture—see photo #5 below), protein packed, cultured dairy product with a thick, creamy texture and mild flavor.

    It has been a dairy staple in Iceland for more than a thousand years. The Vikings ate it.

    In Iceland, skyr is typically fat-free because all the cream from the milk has been removed to make butter.

    Icelandic Provisions uses 200-year-old heirloom skyr cultures from Iceland, making it the only traditional Icelandic skyr available in the U.S.

    How does skyr differ from yogurt, another cultured product? We’ll get to that below. First, the recipe.

    RECIPE: NORDIC EGGS BENEDICT

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 6 minutes.

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

    For The Skyr “Hollandaise” Sauce

  • 1 container (5.3 ounces) plain skyr
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  •  
    For The Eggs Benedict

  • 4 large organic eggs
  • Salt
  • 2 whole grain English muffins, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach
  • 4 tomato slices
  • 2 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  •  
    Plus

  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Slotted spoon
  • 4 small ramekins or custard cups
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the skyr, lemon juice, mustard, turmeric, paprika, and sea salt in a small bowl. Whisk together until emulsified. Set aside.

    2. BREAK one egg into the strainer over a bowl. Tip it around to help separate the thin part of the egg white from the thick part of the egg white, and tap the strainer against the side of the bowl. The thinner part of the egg white will fall through and the thick part and the yolk will remain. Pour the egg into a ramekin and set aside. Save the thinner egg white in storage container for separate use. Repeat with each egg.

    3. BRING 4 inches of lightly salted water to a boil in a medium size saucepan. When the water reaches a boil, turn off the heat and slide each egg, one at a time into the water. Let them cook until egg whites are slightly firm about 2-3 minutes. The yolks will be runny.

    4. TOAST the English muffins while the eggs are poaching.

    5. REMOVE the eggs with a slotted spoon. Place them on a clean plate and set aside.

    6. ASSEMBLE: Place the spinach, a tomato slice, 1/4 of the smoked salmon and a poached egg on the bottom half of each English muffin. Pour 1/4 of the skyr mixture over each egg, and sprinkle some dill on top before serving. Serve immediately.

     

    IS SKYR YOGURT OR CHEESE?

    If you look for information on skyr, you may find it referred to as a cheese. So is it yogurt or cheese?

    It depends on the recipe of the individual producer.

    The difference between a cheese and a cultured milk product like yogurt or sour cream is that cheese, by definition, is set with rennet. Fromage blanc and quark are examples of this type of cheese.

    Each cheesemaker has his/her own recipe and process. Some skyr makers began to leave out the rennet. The Icelandic Provisions brand, made in the U.S., is made without rennet.

    Skyr is made from unique skyr cultures that are different from yogurt cultures. Most skyrs contain more than 20 grams of protein per cup, and flavored yogurts have less sugar* than Greek yogurt; and 30% more yogurt than a non-Greek, custard-style yogurt (also called French or Swiss style) and sundae-style yogurt with the fruit on the bottom.

    The recipe arrived in Iceland from Norway in the Middle Ages, originally made as a cheese, with rennet.

    The difference between a cultured dairy product, such as sour cream or yogurt, and a fresh cheese that looks just like it, such as fromage blanc or quark, is the addition of a coagulant, such as rennet.

    With cottage cheese and ricotta, you can see the curds. With fromage blanc and quark (and most other cheeses), you can’t, because of the particular recipe.

     

    Skyr

    [5] While each producer’s yogurt or soft cheese may have a different texture, here’s one comparison of skyr (top) with Greek yogurt (bottom), courtesy of Cook’s Science.

     
    You also can’t tell the difference by tasting it. The textures of fromage blanc, quark, skyr, sour cream and yogurt are very similar. You often can’t tell the difference without tasting.

    Also, don’t confuse these fresh cheeses with yogurt cheese like labneh. Yogurt cheese is regular yogurt, strained of its water to a thick consistency. It may be called cheese, but it’s the same cultured product as the yogurt it’s made from.

    SKYR & YOGURT DIFFERENCES

  • Regular yogurt is made by combining milk with live cultures. It is available plain and flavored, made from whole milk (5% fat), lowfat (1%) and fat-free (0%).
  • Greek yogurt follows the same recipe, but is triple strained, removing a portion of by the whey. This creates a thicker yogurt that is higher in protein. It may or may not be tangier than regular yogurt, depending on the processes of the particular brand.
  • Skyr, Icelandic yogurt, is even thicker than Greek yogurt. Think of it as quadruple-strained. It is made from skim milk (0%)—the cream is skimmed off to make butter. In Iceland it is often made from raw milk, which is not legal in the U.S. for fresh dairy products.
  • Skyr has more protein than Greek yogurt because it’s strained to such a thick density that it requires about three times more milk to produce than yogurt (twice more than some Greek yogurts). This makes it higher in protein and calcium.
  •  
    YOGURT DIFFERENCES

    Check out our Yogurt Glossary for much more on the different types of yogurt.

    ________________

    *According to the company website, on average, the flavored varieties of Icelandic Provisions skyr contain 33% or ¼ teaspoon less sugar and 20% more protein than the flavored varieties of the top 5 leading brands of Greek yogurt.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Combos

    April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. The Tip Of The Day is: Think outside the box.

    How can you make your grilled cheese sandwiches more complex, more creative, more…celebratory?

    Campbell’s did just that, creating four new approaches—if not exactly simple ones—to that American lunch favorite, grilled cheese and tomato soup.

    Kudos to Chef Eli Kirshtein’s recipe curation : We love the flavor combinations and fun factor.

    And we never would have thought of any of them!

    RECIPE #1: GRILLED CHEESE BENEDICT

    This riff on Eggs Benedict places the egg on top of a grilled cheese sandwich, and turns the hollandaise sauce into a tomato hollandaise with their iconic tomato soup.

    It makes this Grilled Cheese Benedict recipe we published in 2015 look so tame.

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 2 slices honey wheat bread
  • 3 slices sharp cheddar (we’re fans of Cabot’s)
  • 2 eggs
  •  
    For The Hollandaise

  • 3 egg yolks, separated
  • 8 tablespoons (¼ pound) butter, melted
  • ¼ cup white wine, reduced by half
  • ¼ can Campbell’s Tomato Soup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: fresh basil, shredded
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the hollandaise. Whisk the egg yolks and white wine over a double boiler until you have a ribbon consistency. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the melted butter.

    2. WHISK in the tomato soup slowly. Taste and season.

    3. MAKE a traditional grilled cheese sandwich with the bread and cheese. Cut in half. (Here’s a basic recipe and tips).

    4. FRY two eggs sunnyside-up and place eggs on top of grilled cheese. Top with hollandaise and garnish with basil.
     
    RECIPE #2: GRILLED CHEESE BREAD BOWL WITH TOMATO SOUP

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 individual sourdough bread bowl (here’s a recipe)
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces soft mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 can Campbell’s Tomato Soup concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chives, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

       

    Grilled Cheese Benedict

    Grilled Cheese Benedict

    Grilled Cheese Soup Bowl

    Campbell's Tomato Soup Cans

    [1] and [2] Grilled Cheese Benedict. [3] Grilled Cheese Soup Bowl (all photos courtesy Campbell’s). [4] America’s favorite tomato soup.

     
    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Carefully pile all the cheese on top of the sourdough.

    2. PLACE the bread in the oven until all the cheese is melted and browned. Let the loaf cool to room temperature.

    3. SLICE off the top of the bread and reserve. Carefully scoop out the inside of the loaf, with care not to puncture the bottom.

    4. PLACE the soup concentrate in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir in the fresh thyme; then pour the soup into the bread bowl.

    5. GARNISH the top of the soup with chives. Place the reserved top back onto the bread and serve immediately.

     

    Grilled Cheese Pockets

    Michelada Grilled Cheese

    [5] Grilled Cheese Pockets With Tomato Sauce. [6] The drinking man’s/woman’s lunch (photos courtesy Campbell’s).

     

    RECIPE #3: GRILLED CHEESE POCKETS WITH TOMATO SAUCE

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 4 sheets store-bought puff pastry
  • 2 ounces cheese curds
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) Campbell’s Tomato Soup concentrate
  • 2 eggs (for egg wash)
  •  
    Plus

  • Pastry brush
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F.

    2. DEFROST the puff pastry and lay on flat surface. On two pieces, place the cheeses in the center, leaving a half inch border.

    3. MAKE the egg wash: whisk the eggs with a splash of cold water or milk until they are pale yellow and completely integrated. Lightly brush the egg wash around the edges of the pastry.

    4. PLACE the remaining sheets over the top, pressing the edges to create a seal. Trim neatly with a knife, and use a fork to impress a pattern (crimp) on the edges. Brush some additional egg wash on top of the pastry.

    5. BAKE for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Meanwhile…

    6. REDUCE the tomato soup concentrate slowly in a sauce pan, until thick and dark red. Serve the pastry hot, with the tomato sauce on the side.

     

    RECIPE #4: MICHELADA WITH QUESO FUNDIDO GRILLED CHEESE

    Pronounced mee-cha-LAH-dah, a michelada is a Mexican “beertail” (beer cocktail) made from beer, tomato juice, hot sauce and lime, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass.

    This “adult” lunch gives you a michelada with a Mexican-style grilled cheese.

    If you’ve never had a michelada, here’s some more information.

    This recipe requires a panini press or a George Foreman-type grill.

    The recipe can make one tall drink or two in rocks glasses.
     
    Ingredients For The Michelada /font>

    For The Rim

  • 1 lime, halve juiced, half sliced into wedges
  • Salt
  • Chili powder—or—Tajin seasoning
  •  
    For The Drink
    1 can Campbells Tomato Soup concentrate

  • Optional: 2 tablespoons clam juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 Mexican lager (e.g. Modelo), chilled
  • Ice
  •  
    Ingredients For The Grilled Cheese

  • 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (e.g. asadero, queso de papa, queso oaxaca,queso quesadilla)
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, sliced
  • 1 soft yeast roll
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREATE the rim garnish by combining equal parts of salt and chili powder in a small dish. Or if you have Tajin seasoning, use it straight. Place the juice of half the lime in a shallow dish. Twist the rim of the glass in the juice, and then twist it in the dish of seasoning. You can use a Collins glass or a beer mug (or two rocks glasses). Set aside.

    2. COMBINE the drink ingredients except the beer; set aside in the fridge.

    3. MAKE the grilled cheese. Slice the roll open and toast the inside. Place the cold cheese inside the roll, press it into the bread somewhat so the layers adhere. Add slices of jalapeño to taste.

    4. BUTTER the outside of the roll lightly and, using a panini press or in a pan on the stove top, toast it until the cheese is melted. While the cheese is melting…

    4. COMBINE the beer and the michelada mix over ice and garnish the glass with a lime wedge.

    5. TO SERVE: You can serve the sandwich, halved, on the side, or quartered on a long toothpick or skewer over the michelada.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Burritos & Burrito History

    April 7th is National Burrito Day. You don’t have to twist most arms to enjoy one.

    THE NIBBLE is having a lunch of gourmet burritos. We share the ingredients below, but first, a bit of…

    BURRITO HISTORY

    A step back in history: In 1519 the Spanish conquistadors arrived in what today is Mexico, bringing with them wheat flour and pigs. This enabled flour tortillas and carnitas. Flour tortillas are more flexible than corn tortillas, and therefore, easily rollable.

    A modern question is: Why are carnitas in a flour tortilla called burrito—“little donkey” in Spanish?

    No one knows for sure, but the leading guess is that it was named for its shape, which resembles the bedrolls carried on the back of donkeys.

    While the modern burrito is no more than 100 years old, Mesoamericans often rolled their food in tortillas for convenience (no dishes or utensils needed). Avocados, chili peppers, mushrooms, squash and tomatoes were sliced and rolled.

    The Pueblo peoples of the Southwestern U.S. were even closer to the mark. They made tortillas with beans and meat sauce fillings, prepared much like the modern burrito [source].

    But the word “burrito” doesn’t appear in print until 1895, in the Spanish-language Dictionary of Mexicanisms. It was as a name used in the region of Guanajuato, in north-central Mexico. It is described as “a rolled tortilla, with meat or other food within, called coçito in Yucatan and taco in the city of Cuernavaca and in Mexico City.”

    That there was a rolled food called burrito in 1895 dispenses with the folk tale of a man named Juan Méndez, who sold tacos from a street stand during the Mexican Revolution (1910–1921) in Ciudad Juárez. As he used a donkey for transport, customers began to call his tacos “food of the burrito,” the little donkey, and the name eventually stuck.

    Food historians opine that the modern burrito may actually have been invented in the U.S., as a convenient lunch for Mexican agricultural workers.

    The Modern Burrito: Born In The U.S.A.

    The precise origin is not known, but it is generally believed to have originated in a Mexican-American community in the U.S., among farm workers in California’s Central Valley (Fresno, Stockton).

    According to Wikipedia, the farm workers who spent all day picking produce in fields would bring lunches of homemade flour tortillas, beans and salsa picante (hot sauce)—inexpensive and convenient.

    Burritos first appeared on American restaurant menus in the 1930s, beginning with El Cholo Spanish Cafe in Los Angeles. El cholo is the word used by Mexican settlers in California for field hands.

    Burritos were mentioned in the U.S. media for the first time in 1934, appearing in the Mexican Cookbook, a collection of regional recipes from New Mexico by historian Erna Fergusson.

    The book includes “celebrated favorites such as enchiladas, chile rellenos, and carne adovada, as well as the simple, rustic foods traditionally prepared and served in New Mexican homes.”

    It was “inspired by the delight and enthusiasm with which visitors to the Southwest partook of the region’s cuisine.” You can still buy a copy.

    In 1999, food writer John Mariani wrote that “What makes burritos different from most other Mexican-American foods is the metamorhpasis of this dish.

    “We tracked down the earliest print references for ‘burritos’ cited by food history in American/English reference books. They are nothing like the burritos we are served today…

    “When and where did the change happen? Early 1960s, Southern California. The who and why remain a mystery. Our survey of historic newspapers suggests food trucks played a roll. Burritos are efficient, economical, easy and delicious.” [Source: Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 48)]
     
    TODAY’S BURRITOS

    In Mexico, meat and beans or refried beans can be the only burrito fillings. In the U.S., things get more elaborate.

    American burrito fillings may include not only the refried (or other) beans and meat, but rice, lettuce, salsa (pico de gallo, salsa picante), guacamole, shredded cheese (cheddar or jack), sour cream and vegetables. Burrito sizes vary—they’re super-sized in the U.S., up to 12 inches. You can also find them in 9- and 10-inch diameters.

    In 1964, Duane R. Roberts of Orange County, California sold the first frozen burrito. He made so much money that he was eventually able to buy Riverside’s iconic Mission Inn and refurbish it.

    The U.S. even developed the breakfast burrito, and astronauts eat them in outer space!

       

    Steak Cilantro Burrito

    Shrimp Burrito

    Wet Burritos

    Green Chili Chicken Burrito

    [1] Steak and cilantro burrito. Here’s the recipe from Half Baked Harvest. [2] Gourmet burrito: grilled shrimp and avocado cream. Here’s the recipe from Foodie Crush. [3] Breakfast burrito: Now an American staple, it first appeared in 1975. Here’s a recipe from She Wears Many Hats. [4] Chipotle restaurants brought burritos and burrito bowls across America (photo courtesy Chipotle). [5] Wet burritos: definitely not grab-and-go. Here’s the recipe from Hezzi D’s Books & Cooks. [6] Not wet, but smothered in a poblano-cheeese sauce. Here’s the recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch.

     
    Tia Sophia’s, a Mexican café in Santa Fe, New Mexico, claims to have invented the original breakfast burrito in 1975, filling a rolled tortilla with bacon and potatoes. It was served “wet,” topped with chili and cheese.

    Many Americans had their first breakfast burrito when McDonald’s introduced the Sausage Burrito in 1991: a flour tortilla, sausage, American cheese, scrambled eggs, onions and peppers. Taco Bell didn’t introduce a breakfast burrito until 2014.

    Which brings us to the choice of the grab-and-go burrito, eaten by hand, and wet burritos, on a plate covered with sauce and other garnishes, eaten with a knife and fork.

    And then there’s the burrito bowl, pioneered by Chipotle: the fillings of a burrito eaten with a fork, no tortilla.

    Chipotle now sells more bowls than conventional burritos. The bowls save 300 calories [source].

     

    Burrito Bowl

    Kale & Bean Burrito

    [7] A burrito bowl provides the fillings without the tortilla. Photo courtesy Simply Recipes. [8] Trendy and vegan: a kale burrito with black beans and avocado. Here’s the recipe from Cookie and Kate.

     

    GOURMET BURRITO INGREDIENTS

    We’re not the type to put gold leaf, foie gras and sturgeon caviar on food just to create the world’s most expensive [fill in the blank]. But we do enjoy the luxury of playing with top-drawer ingredients.

    Rice and beans are fillers. You can make a burrito without them, or can serve them on the side.

    Or, you can take them up a notch with fancier rice and beans.

    Here are typical burrito ingredients and their upscale variations. If you don’t like our ingredients, tell us what you’d use instead.

  • Beans (kidney, pinto, refried) > heirloom beans: cranberry, scarlet runner, yellow Indian woman…or lentils.
  • Carnitas (braised pork) > pork belly.
  • Cheese (cheddar or jack) > gruyère.
  • Diced tomatoes > heirloom tomatoes, marinated yellow cherry tomatoes, fresh tomato sauce (diced tomatoes with seasonings), tomato jam.
  • Chicken (thigh meat): ditto, with the skin removed, crisped and tossed into the burrito (cracklings).
  • Cilantro > cilantro plus basil and parsley.
  • Diced onions > Caramelized onions, onion preserves.
  • Fried fish > roasted or grilled salmon.
  • Garlic > roast garlic cloves, whole or mashed.
  • Iceberg or romaine lettuce > butter lettuce, curly leaf lettuce, mesclun mix with baby arugula, red endive or radicchio, red leaf lettuce, watercress.
  • Lime wedge > lime zest sprinkled on top before rolling.
  • Rice > jasmine rice, multigrain rice, saffron rice, wild rice, other grain (barley, quinoa, e.g.).
  • Exotic rice > Bhutanese red rice, black rice (forbidden rice), Kalijira rice from Bangladesh (considered the finest tiny aromatic rice in the world) (types of rice)
  • Shrimp the same (it’s hard to improve on grilled shrimp).
  • Steak (skirt or hanger) > filet mignon, roast lamb.
  •  
    For lunch today, we’re having:

  • Filet mignon and wild rice burritos with shredded gruyère and [leftover] beluga lentils.
  • Grilled shrimp burritos with romaine and arugula, green rice (parsley), gruyère and dilled sour cream.
  • Grilled salmon, with dilled rice, sour cream, salmon caviar and [leftover] yellow lentils.
  •  
    Have whatever burrito you like, but definitely have a burrito. Where would be be without them?

      

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    FOOD 101: For National BLT Month, The History Of The BLT

    BLT Sandwich History

    Lobster BLT Sandwich Recipe

    Turkey Avocado BLT On Croissant

    Grilled Pineapple BLT

    [1] A classic BLT. Here’s the recipe from Southern Living. [2] Some people add a fried egg. Here’s the recipe from Fun Without Fodmaps. ([3] A lobster BLT. Here’s the recipe from At Sweet Eats. [4] A turkey avocado BLT. Here’s the recipe from Culinary Hill. [5] A BLT with grilled pineapple and sriracho mayo. Here’s the recipe from Half Baked Harvest.

     

    April is National BLT Month.

    The bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich with mayonnaise, often served as a triple-decker sandwich on toast, is one of America’s favorite sandwiches (and a U.K. favorite, too).

    While toast, bacon and lettuce have been enjoyed at table since Roman times, two of the other ingredients took a bit longer to come together.

    The oldest of the five ingredients is bread.

    The art of using yeast to leaven bread was mastered by the ancient Egyptians. Loaves of bread presented more culinary opportunities than flatbreads.

    Then came lettuce.

    Lettuce was first cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, who turned it from a weed into a food plant as early as 2680 B.C.E. It was taken to Greece and Rome, and by 50 C.E., many types of lettuce were grown there.

    Next, the bacon.

    Wild boar meat was cured be smoking, salting and drying since Paleolithic times. (The Paleolithic, also known as the Stone Age, extended from 750,000 B.C.E. or 500 B.C.E. to approximately 8,500 B.C.E. [source]).

    Pigs were domesticated from wild boar as early as 13,000–12,700 B.C.E. But there was nothing identifiable as modern bacon.

    The modern bacon we know and love began to appear in the mid-1700s.

    Previously, the word “bacon” referred to all pork, then the back meat, then all cured pork. British farmers who noticed that certain breeds of pig had much plumper sides, engendered a movement so that “bacon” was finally distinguished as the side of pork, cured with salt.

    Here are the history of bacon, and the different types of bacon.

    Next, tomatoes.

    Tomatoes were brought to Europe from the New World at the end of the 16th century. But not as food.

    The original tomatoes were like yellow cherry tomatoes. Considered poisonous (they’re members of the Nightshade family), they were enjoyed as houseplants.

    Tomatoes were’t eaten for two more centuries, and then only because of a famine in Italy in the early 1800s.

    They arrived in England in the 16th century (see the history of tomatoes).

    Finally, mayonnaise.

    At the same time, there was no mayo for the BLT. The original mahónnaise sauce was invented in 1756, but it was not until years later that it evolved into what is recognized as modern mayo.

    The great French chef Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833) lightened the original recipe by blending the vegetable oil and egg yolks into an emulsion, creating the mayonnaise that we know today (the history of mayonnaise).

    But no one had invented the sandwich.

    It took John Montagu, Fourth Earl Of Sandwich, to invent the eponymous food in 1762 (history of the sandwich).

    A marathon gambler, he would not leave the gaming table to eat, so asked for meat and a couple of pieces of bread. He could throw dice with one hand and eat with the other, no knife or fork required. (Sushi was invented for the same reason.)

    The first sandwiches were gambling food: something easy to eat without utensils. Fancier sandwiches evolved, but it took more than 100 years for someone needed to invent the club sandwich.

    The invention of the club sandwich.

    While tea sandwiches with bacon, lettuce and tomato were served during Victorian times, a search of 19th and early 20th century American and European cookbooks points to the club sandwich as the progenitor of the BLT.

    According to Food Timeline, most food historians concur that the club sandwich was probably created in the U.S. during the late 19th/early 20th century.

     

    No printed record has been found to date, so the where and who remain a matter of culinary debate. The reigning theory points to the Saratoga Club in Saratoga, New York.

    The club sandwich was very popular and spread to other mens’ clubs. A printed recipe appeared for the first time in the 1903 Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book. It called for bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and a slice of turkey sandwiched between two slices of bread (no one has yet discovered when the third slice of bread was added).

    So, violà: the club sandwich, a turkey BLT, hits menus and cookbooks. When no turkey was desired, the “club sandwich without turkey” became a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich—later shortened to BLT.

    There’s an unsubstantiated story of a man who came home hungry after his family and servants had retired. He searched the pantry for a snack, deciding to make some toast. As he looked in the ice chest for butter for the toast, he found cooked bacon, chicken, a tomato and mayonnaise.

    He made a sandwich and was so happy with his creation that he mentioned it to friends at his club. They had the kitchen recreate it, and it went onto the menu as the “club sandwich.”

    Was it the Saratoga Club? Did an unnamed man invent it? Maybe yes, maybe no.

     

    THE BLT TODAY

    The BLT on toast has been recreated with many variations. Create your own signature BLT from these ingredients!

  • Different breads: toasted or not, from bagels, brioche and croissants to pinwheels, wrap sandwiches and…taco shells and wafflewiches.
  • Different bacon: bacon jam, Canadian bacon, candied bacon, guanciale (jowl bacon), pancetta, pepper bacon, pork belly, wild boar bacon, etc.
  • Different lettuces: arugula, bibb, romaine, watercress—and garnish with some sprouts.
  • Different tomatoes: cherry tomatoes, fried green tomatoes, multicolor heirloom tomatoes, marinated sundried tomatoes.
  • Smaller: BLT appetizer bites, tea sandwiches, skewers.
  • Added elements: avocado slices/guacamole, basil leaves, chicken salad, fried egg, grilled pineapple or shishito peppers, grilled salmon, lobster, grilled butterflied shrimp, soft shell crab.
  • Flavored mayo: basil, bacon, curry, garlic, harissa, mayo mixed with bacon jam, mayo mixed with tomato pesto, etc.
  • Heat: sriracha mayonnaise, chili butter.
  • Fusion: BLT burger, BLT wedge salad, Buffalo chicken BLT, grilled cheese BLT.
  •  
    MORE BLT IDEAS

    Cocktails

  • BLT Bloody Mary with bacon vodka
  • BLT Cocktail
  •  
    Not A Sandwich

  • BLT Gazpacho
  • BLT Guacamole Crostini
  • BLT Pancakes
  • BLT Pasta Salad
  • BLT Slaw
  •  
    PARTY IDEAS

    Get together a group and assign a different version of BLT to each. Make a whole meal of it…perhaps with chocolate-covered bacon for dessert.

    Don’t restrict your thinking: A Cobb Salad is a BLT salad with some additions (avocado, blue cheese and chicken).

     

    BLT Salad

    BLT Gazpacho Recipe

    Avocado BLT Burger

    [6] Don’t want the bread? Have a BLT salad. Here’s the recipe from Southern Living? [7] Gazpacho with a BLT garnish, from Munchery, a fine food delivery service. [8] A grilled avocado BLT burger. Here’s the recipe from the California Avocado Commission.

     

      

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