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RECIPE: Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

Three-ingredient peanut butter fudge (photo courtesy Justin’s).

 

November 20th is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day.

An American confection, fudge was a happy accent in the 1880s, created by a woman trying to make caramels.

Read the history of fudge and you’ll see that it wasn’t so easy to re-create the accident.

Over time, however, recipes and techniques were perfected. The original recipe(s) used cream and butter. Today, everything from sweetened condensed milk to non-dairy milks are used.

You need just three ingredients to make this peanut butter fudge from Justin’s, the artisan specialist in nut butters.

RECIPE: PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (substitute cream)
  • 3/4 cup honey peanut butter (substitute the PB you have)
  • Optional mix-ins: chocolate chips, honey-roasted peanuts
  • Preparation

    1. BRING the sugar and almond milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

    2. MIX in the peanut butter. You can add the optional mix-ins and stir, or use them as a topping, pressing lightly. Spread into a greased 8″ x 8″ pan and refrigerate until set. Cut into squares.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF FUDGE

    THE HISTORY OF PEANUT BUTTER

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Honor The Cranberry With Cranberry Drinks

    Cranberries are a group of low, creeping evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines, that grow in acidic bogs in the cooler regions of the U.S. and Canada.

    The plants belong to the heather family, Ericaceae, along with the bilberry, blueberry, huckleberry, azalea and other rhododendrons.

    NAMING THE BERRY

    Native American tribes from New England Pequod and Wampanoag to the Leni-Lenape of New Jersey to the Algonquins of Wisconsin variously called them sassamanesh (very sour berry), ibimi (bitter berry) and atoqua in their local tongues.

    The English name derives from kranebere, German for crane berry, so called by early Dutch and German settlers in New England who saw the flower, stem, calyx and petals as resembling the neck, head and bill of a crane.

  • Some New Englanders called them bearberries, as bears were fond of feeding on them.
  • Northeastern Canadians called them mossberries.
  • In the U.K., it’s the fenberry, since the plants grow in a fen (a marsh).
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    CRANBERRY HISTORY

    The Wampanoag People of southeastern Massachusetts had been harvesting wild cranberries for 12,000 years by the time the Pilgrims arrived. The Leni-Lenape of New Jersey and other tribes in the East also were blessed with cranberry bogs.

    Native Americans used cranberries for grits and pemmican—deer meat, mashed cranberries and fat, pressed and dried as a convenience food for travel. Cranberries mashed with cornmeal were baked it into bread.

    While maple sugar and honey were used to sweeten the sour berry, some souls with a palate for the super-tart even ate them fresh.

    Non-food uses included dye, fever-reducers, wound poultices and seasickness remedy.
     
    Cultivating The Cranberry

    The first cultivation of cranberries took place in Dennis, on Cape Cod, around 1816. After that, landowners eagerly converted their peat bogs, swamps and wetlands into cranberry bogs.

    Farmers developed a process called wet harvesting: flooding the bog with water so the cranberries floated to the surface, where they are collected.

    Cranberries found their way across the northern states to the Pacific Northwest, and were first shipped to Europe in the 1820s. From England, they were brought to the cold-appropriate countries of Scotland, Russia and Scandinavia. They’re now grown commercially in Chile as well.

    Today, U.S. Farmers harvest approximately 40,000 acres of cranberries each year (source).

    The fruit is turned into jam, juice, sauce and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers for cooking and baking.
     
    CRANBERRY TRIVIA

    A fresh cranberry will bounce, due to the pocket of air inside (photo #3). That’s also why they float.

    The cranberry is one of only three fruits native to North America that were not known in Europe*. The others: the blueberry and the grape.

       

    Cranberry Flower

    Cranberry Bush

    Cranberry Inside

    Fresh <br />Cranberries” width=”230″ height=”230″ class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-87513″ /></p>
<p><font size=[1] The cranberry flower (photo courtesy University of Wisconsin. [2] Cranberries on the branch (photo courtesy University of Minnesota). [3] The air pockets in cranberries enable them to bounce and float (photo courtesy Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association). [4] Fresh cranberries (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).

     

    Mulled Cranberr & Tequila Drink

    Cranberry Punch

    [1] Cranberry Toddy (photo courtesy DeLeon Tequila). [2] Cranberry punch (photo courtesy Ocean Spray).

     

    DRINKING CRANBERRIES

    In Colonial days, a drink known as the Hot Toddy was created as a way to cure ailments (or at least, that was the excuse given).

    Made with rum from the Caribbean, it was also called Hot Buttered Rum: rum, hot water, spices and a pat of butter.

    Today, cranberry juice is drunk as:

  • Cocktails: Cape Codder, Cosmopolitan, Crantini, Toddy and Sea Breeze, among others
  • Juice Drinks
  • Mocktails
  • Smoothies
  •  
    You can create your own drink, mixing cranberry juice with lemon, vanilla, seasonal spices and seasonal fruits.

    We adapted this cocktail recipe from one sent to us by DeLeón Tequila.
     
    RECIPE #1: CRANBERRY TODDY

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1½ ounces white/silver tequila
  • 6 ounces cranberry brew
  •  
    For The Cranberry Brew

  • 1 part fresh unsweetened cranberry juice
  • ¾ part fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ part simple syrup
  • Cinnamon, clove and nutmeg to taste
  • Garnish: orange slice (optionally studded with cloves)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SIMMER together the cranberry brew ingredients. Combine with tequila in glass mug.

    2. GARNISH with the orange slice.
     
    RECIPE #2: CRANBERRY PUNCH WITH OR WITHOUT SPIRITS

    How can you resist this holiday punch, with a cranberry wreath in the center?

    The wreath is actually an ice mold to chill the punch, filled with fresh cranberries and leafy herbs.

    The recipe, from Ocean Spray, is for an alcohol-free punch; but you can add spirits to taste.

    Ingredients For About 15 Six-Ounce Servings

  • 1 64-ounce bottle Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda or club soda
  • Optional: spirit of choice (we used gin and cranberry liqueur)
  • Garnish: ice ring with cranberries (substitute orange and lime slices)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the ice mold. Fill a ring mold with cranberries and “leaves” (herbs or other leaves) and water, and place in the freezer.

    2. COMBINE the cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice and optional spirits in a large punch bowl. Gently stir in soda just before serving. Garnish and serve.

    TIP: To keep the punch cold, store the juice mix, soda and optional spirits in the fridge until ready to serve. We used two large pitchers, which fit easily into the fridge.

    ____________
    *Strawberries and raspberries were also known to Europeans; and many other fruits, such as the pawpaw and the saskatoon, are native to North America, but are not commercially important.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Spice Up National Spicy Guacamole Day

    November 14th is National Spicy Guacamole Day. If you don’t like heat, regular National Guacamole Day is September 16th.

    Most people make guacamole to taste, adding crushed red chile flakes, some hot sauce, or minced jalapeños.

    But you can use different types of heat, all of which provide slightly different nuances to the heat.

     
    WAYS TO SPICE UP GUACAMOLE

    1. HOT MIX-INS

    Add more heat in your favorite forms. You can divide the batch to test your preferences.

  • Alpeppo pepper: Crushed red crushed flakes from Syria (and to a lesser extent, Turkey) with a deep, rich aroma some compare to ancho, plus a sweet fruitiness.
  • Cayenne and/or red chili flakes: The longstanding classics.
  • Gochujang: A pungent and savory condiment made from fermented soy beans and red chili peppers. It is traditionally used to season Korean foods like kimchi.
  • Harissa: A paste typically made from various dried red chili peppers, cumin, coriander, caraway seeds and garlic.
  • Hot mustard: A hotter mustard, like Chinese mustard. Look for Colman’s in powder or prepared mustard.
  • Hot oil: chile-infused oil and mustard oil are two options. Alternatively, you can drizzle them on top of the bowl as a garnish.
  • Hot sauce: Note that more than a few drops of red hot sauce will darken the guacamole. If you want to use a lot, look for a green hot sauce, made from green chiles.
  • Jalapeño, habanero or other hot chile: Use green to blend in or red for contrast (red chiles have more heat). Mince them.
  • Onions: White onions are the hottest, followed by red onions. Mince them.
  • Prepared white horseradish: Save the red for a garnish.
  • Sriracha: A hot sauce that originated in Thailand, made from chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, salt and sugar.
  • Wasabi: Paste or powder, this relative of western horseradish, from Japan, adds heat without prominent horseradish flavor.
  •  
    2. SPICY TOPPINGS/GARNISHES

  • Horseradish: Grated fresh horseradish or prepared red horseradish, which is white horseradish colored with beets. It makes a bright rim around the surface perimeter of the bowl.
  • Microgreens: arugula or mustard.
  • Radishes: a fine dice.
  • Red horseradish: White
  • Spicy pumpkin seeds: Make your own or buy SuperSeedz in Somewhat Spicy or Super Spicy.
  • Szechuan peppercorns: The tingling sensation has a slow onset and lingers for a long time. Crush it as a garnish. Szechuan peppercorn is not a true peppercorn, but a member of the citrus family typically. The different types of pepper.
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    BEYOND TORTILLA CHIPS: WAYS TO SERVE GUACAMOLE

    Before it became a dip with tortilla chips, guacamole was an all-purpose sauce (see the History Of Guacamole in the next section). Today, you have a broad choice of how to use it, beyond Tex-Mex, with:

  • Anything grilled
  • Avocado toast (with or without a fried egg) or omelet filling
  • Baked potatoes
  • Burger topping (photo #4 above)
  • Chicken salad: blend with mayonnaise
  • Cobb salad, instead of sliced avocado
  • Condiment/topping for fish
  • Deviled eggs
  • Flatbread: with any topping from arugula and bacon to sliced hard-boiled eggs
  • Guacamole mayonnaise: half and half, or however you like it
  • Hot dog topping
  • Hummus: ditto
  • Mayonnaise substitute
  • Pizza: instead of tomato sauce, topped with bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, corn, jalapeño, red onion, chicken, whatever
  • Sandwich spread: on a BLT, ham, turkey, veggie or other favorites sandwich
  • Stacked appetizer: alternate with layers of salmon or tuna tartare (photo #3 above)
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Tortilla chip alternatives: Japanese black sesame rice crackers, Swedish flatbread like Wasa crispbread
  •  

    Guacamole With Crudites

    Guacamole-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

    Tuna Tartare On Guacamole

    Burger With Guacamole

    Tuna Guacamole Hors d'Oeuvre

    Avocados On Tree

    [1] Spicy guacamole with crudités (photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog). [2] Guacamole-stuffed cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy Frontera Fiesta). [3] Spicy guacamole under tuna tartare (photo courtesy Chicago Cut Steakhouse). [4] Burger with guacamole (photo courtesy The Organic Grill). [5] Guacamole-tuna hors d’oeuvre (photo courtesy Ippudo | NYC). [6] Avocados on the tree (photo courtesy Avocados From Chile).

     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown in the area for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs called it ahuacatl (ah-ha-kwa-tay); the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard the word as aguacate, ah-hwah-cah-tay, the spelling and pronounciation they adopted. The sauce made from it evolved into was ahuacamOlli, a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce].

    Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

    According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12+ Unusual Pizza Toppings

    Greek Pizza Toppings

    Tuna & Capers Pizza

    Kimchi Pork Belly Pizza

    [1] From Italy’s neighbor: Greek pizza with feta, kalamata olives, onions and more (here’s a recipe from Cooking Classy). [2] Sorry, Charlie: tuna pizza with onions and capers (here’s the recipe from the New York Times). [3] Go Korean with pork belly, kimchi, scallions and cilantro (here’s a recipe from No Recipes).

     

    November 12th is National Pizza With Everything Day.

    Set aside the usual toppings for the moment, and consider a pizza topped with “everything unusual.”

    While these recipes come from our own kitchen inventions, you can find recipes for many of them and adjust them to your tastes.

  • Bacon & Egg Pizza: Top a white pizza with bacon, eggs (fried or scrambled); garnish with cherry tomatoes (or ketchup!) and large toast croutons.
  • Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza: A white pie topped with ground beef or meatballs or bacon, onion, halved cherry tomatoes and your favorite BLT cheese (Cheddar? Swiss?). Add thin-sliced romaine hearts or fresh arugula if you like lettuce on your burger.
  • BLT Pizza: Top the pie with bacon and fresh* or sundried tomatoes; garnish with fresh arugula when it comes out of the oven.
  • Caviar & Smoked Salmon Pizza: Top a white pie with boiled potato slices, smoked salmon and red onion; garnish with salmon caviar when it comes out of the oven.
  • Chicken Livers & Caramelized Onions. Liver lovers will love it; here’s a recipe.
  • Cobb Salad Pizza: Top a white pie with thin-sliced romaine hearts, avocado, cubed chicken breasts, sliced hard-boiled eggs and crumbled blue cheese.
  • Greek Pizza: Top a white pie with feta, kalamata olives, peperoncini, fresh dill and optional ground lamb. Here’s a recipe for starters; we added more toppings.
  • Indian Pizza: On a regular pizza crust or naan, flavor the marinara with Indian spices (curry, garam masala) and top it with paneer cheese and your favorite dishes, from tandoori chicken to any of the dozens selections in pouches: channa masala, khatta aloo, palak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese), vegetable korma, etc.
  • Korean Pizza: Pork belly, kimchi, fresh chiles, green onions, cilantro. Garnish with sriracha or hot sauce of choice. Here’s a recipe to add to.
  • Paté Pizza: Top a white pie with chicken liver mousse or other pâté. The pâté will melt on top of the pizza, creating a new way to enjoy paté. Add wild mushrooms and a drizzle of truffle oil. Here’s a recipe to use as a base.
  • Seafood Pizza: Beyond clams, you can top a white pie with the finest: bay scallops or sliced scallops, calamari, lobster, mussels, octopus, oysters and shrimp. Add the toppings during the last 10 minutes in the oven.
  • Tex-Mex Pizza: Mix salsa into the marinara and top the pie with refried beans, avocado, shredded chicken or protein of choice, sliced jalapeños (substitute bell pepper), fresh cilantro and shredded jack cheese. If you can find a cornmeal crust, great; otherwise garnish the cooked pizza with some tortilla chips.
  • Tuna Pizza: Hold the mayo, but top the pie with flaked tuna, sliced red onion and capers. You can add anchovies, too. Here’s a recipe to use as a guide.
  •  
    What’s your favorite unusual topping?
    ________________
    *Use cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes when tomatoes are not in season.

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Unconventional Sundae Ingredients

    Cornflakes Sundae

    Beef Sundae

    Tomato Basil Sundae

    [1] Not your typical vanilla ice cream sundae (photo courtesy Ogawa Coffee. [2] How about a beef sundae with cheddar (photo courtesy Dairy Max). [3] Tart frozen yogurt like Pinkberry is an opportunity to try savory toppings, like marinated cherry tomatoes and basil (photo courtesy Pinkberry).

     

    For National Sundae Day, November 11th, commemorates the history of the ice cream sundae, which dates to around 1892 in Ithaca, New York.

    While we love conventional ice cream sundaes (particularly hot fudge over pistachio ice cream), there are novel approaches as well.

    Why not think beyond the conventional and create a delicious ice cream sundae with at least one “different” ingredient.
     
    WHAT IS NOT DIFFERENT

  • Berries and other sundae fruits
  • Crushed cookies and cake cubes
  • Popular candies, sprinkles, dragées
  • Any fruits or nuts—fresh, dried, raw, roasted, etc.
  • Any conventional ice cream sauce (butterscotch, chocolate, strawberry, etc.)
  • Marshmallow cream or whipped cream
  •  
    WHAT IS DIFFERENT

  • Cereals and granola
  • Crushed honey sesame bites
  • Exotic fruits: carambola/star fruit, dragon fruit, lychee, rambutan, etc.
  • Honey (especially flavored honey), preserves, pie filling
  • Jell-O or other gelatin cubes, including cubed Jell-O shots
  • Scoops of other frozen desserts (granita, sorbet, yogurt)
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, chia
  • Flavored whipped cream: recipes for bourbon, five spice, lavender, pumpkin pie spice, etc.); mascarpone
  • Garnishes: colored sanding sugars, peanut butter cream
  •  
    Photo #1 shows a sundae, from Ogawa Coffee in Boston, an offshoot of a Japanese chain.

    It’s made in a pint glass with two unconventional ingredients: coffee gelatin (a Boston specialty, originating as a way to use yesterday’s leftover coffee) and Corn Flakes. As a coffee house, the coffee gelatin makes perfect sense. It’s made with coffee and unflavored gelatin; here’s a recipe.

     
    RECIPE: OGAWA MOCHA CORNFLAKE ICE CREAM SUNDAE (PHOTO #1)

    Ingredients

  • Vanilla ice cream (substitute coffee, chocolate, or a small scoop of each)
  • Cubes of house-made coffee gelatin
  • Cubes of chocolate terrine (substitute brownie or chocolate cake cubes
  • Chocolate/fudge sauce
  • Corn Flakes
  • Whipped cream
  • Garnish: dried cranberries (substitute dried cherries, chocolate-covered espresso beans or pomegranate arils
  • Preparation

    1. PLACE some chocolate sauce on the very bottom. Then add one scoop ice cream, topped with chocolate terrine. Add more chocolate sauce, the second scoop of ice cream and the gelatin cubes.

    2. ADD the third scoop of ice cream and the Corn Flakes. Top with more gelatin, whipped cream and garnish.

     
    HOW ABOUT A SAVORY SUNDAE?

    You can make savory sundaes as well. Some are made with savory ice cream; others are sundae in name, but aren’t cold.

    We have recipes for a:

  • Beef Stew Sundae (Photo #2)
  • Spaghetti & Meatball Sundae
  • Savory Yogurt Sundae (Photo #3)
  • Sour cream ice cream with salmon caviar garnish (we’re still working to perfect the amount of herbs in the sour cream ice cream, but here’s an Ideas In Food recipe for sourdough ice cream they top with caviar)
  •  
    But we’re not suggesting that you whip up a caviar sundae. Yet.

      

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