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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

FOOD 101: Cooking History

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Be grateful for your stove and microwave! Photo courtesy Sirgy.com.

 

Do you like sashimi and steak tartare?

Man has been wandering Earth for some 200,000 years, but the general use of fire began only about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. Until then, man ate his food raw.*

Neanderthals discovered how to deliberately create fire. This led to warmth—the priority in the Ice Age—and to the secondary benefit of cooking meats. Most likely, a piece of mammoth, venison or another flesh that would have been eaten raw, fell in the campfire. It had to be left there until the flames died down, no doubt filling the air with the alluring aroma of roasting meat.

Heat breaks down tough fiber and releases flavor in the process. As a natural next step, meat and tough roots were slower cooked in the embers or on a flat stone by the side of the fire.

 
Boiling took more time to evolve, using large mollusk or turtle shells until man created vessels of earthenware or bark that could be placed over the fire. Steaming inside animal stomachs and leaves preceded the more sophisticated development of crockery. The first oven could have been as simple as a hole in the ground.
 
Here’s what your most ancient of forefathers did:

  • They dug a large pit in the ground and lined it with flat, overlapping stones to prevent seepage. Large quantities of water were poured in, presumably transported in skin bags. Other stones were heated in the campfire and add to the water to bring it to a simmer.
  • The food was then added and, while it was cooking, more hot stones to keep the water at the desired temperature. This technique is still used in some isolated parts of the world.†
  •  
    It was only much later that boiling or stewing was done in small pots placed near the fire, or in cauldrons suspended over a fire. [Source: Food in the Ancient World, Joan P. Alcock [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2006 (p. 105-106)]

    The use of fire vastly extended man’s diet, enabling tough foods to be palatable. Cereals—barley, millet, rice, rye, and wheat, as well as potatoes, require cooking before they can be consumed by humans. The use of fire doubtless encouraged the domestication of these foods and the end of lives as hunter-gatherers, as man settled into farming communities.

    Thanks to FoodTimeline.org for inspiring this article.

     
    *Source: Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000 (p. 1571)
    †Source: Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press:New York] 1988 (p. 14-16)
     
      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Rice Pudding Day

    Here’s a fun take for National Rice Pudding Day: rice pudding tartlets. These are made in rustic style by Frog Hollow Farm.

    You don’t need tartlet pans that turn out fluted, rigid tart shells. Instead, just roll the dough and fold the edges over the filling—the style known as galette. Rice pudding replaces the traditional fruit filling.

    Just make your favorite rice pudding recipe and this galette dough:

    RECIPE: GALETTE DOUGH

    You can make this dough up to 2 days in advance. Wrapped in plastic, then in foil, it can be frozen for up to a month.

    Ingredients

  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  •  

    rice-pudding-tartlet-froghollow-230

    Rice pudding tartlets. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE 3/4 of the butter on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard, 30 minutes or longer. Refrigerate the remaining butter.

    2. COMBINE flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add the refrigerated butter and pulse 10 times to combine. Add the frozen butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. There should be some small, pea-size clumps.

    3. ADD the ice water and pulse 10 more times until just incorporated. Squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers to make sure it holds together. If not, pulse a few more times, as necessary.

    4. EMPTY the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Gather the dough, bringing the edges together and pressing it into a mass. Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic.

    5. ROLL out the dough, still wrapped in plastic, into 1/2-inch-thick disks, four inches in diameter (for individual tartlets). Refrigerate for least 45 minutes.

    6. Place filling in the center of the circles. Pleat the dough around the filling and bake until the crust is lightly golden, for about 15 minutes in 375°F oven.
     
    RICE PUDDING RECIPES

  • Adult Rice Pudding Recipe
  • Layered Rice Pudding Bars Recipe
  • Leftover Rice Rice Pudding Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Zucchini Day, Spiral Zucchini & Zucchini Pasta

    Whether served raw, roasted, baked, grilled, sautéed, pickled, or fried, zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables, and a seasonal summer favorite that’s abundantly available at farm stands and supermarkets.

    This summer squash is very low in calories—33 calories for a medium zucchini.

    There are many wonderful ways to serve zucchini:

  • Garnishes
  • Gratin
  • Grilled
  • Soufflé
  • Stir-fried zucchini ribbons
  • Zucchini and carrot slaw, “cole slaw” or salad
  • Zucchini pasta
  • Zucchini sticks, baked or fried
  •  
    Two of our favorite recipes are below. To make them, treat yourself to the new Microplane Spiral Cutter, a tool that quickly and effortlessly transforms zucchini—as well as carrots, cucumbers, radishes and other vegetables—into elegant spiral cuts and ribbons.

       

    sprial-grater-microplane-beauty-230L

    Food fun with the new Microplane Spiral Cutter. Photo courtesy Microplane.

     
    Thanks to Microplane for announcing this gadget in time for National Zucchini Day, August 8th.

    Resembling an old-school manual pencil sharpener in both style and function, the Spiral Cutter has two razor-sharp (surgical steel!) slicing barrels to accommodate different vegetables—the small barrel for long, slim vegetables such as carrots, the large barrel for cucumbers, summer squash and other, broader vegetables.

    It debuts this month in Black and Green for a suggested retail of $14.95. Learn more at Microplane.com.

    Then, you’ll be set to whip up this delicious salad:

    SPIRAL ZUCCHINI RECIPE # 1: THAI-STYLE ZUCCHINI RIBBON SALAD (BASED ON SOM TUM)

    We love green papaya salad, som tum. We can easily eat two appetizer portions at our local Thai restaurant.

    Our favorite guest blogger, Hannah Kaminsky, agrees. “Served chilled, the tender yet crisp strands of unripe papaya are cooling, yet still popping with bursts of heat from abundant flecks of chili peppers. Brightly acidic, tangy, and slightly salty, with just a touch of sweetness to take the edge off, every component must be in perfect balance to achieve a successful, harmonious dish.

    “Of course, the key ingredient, green papaya, isn’t typically available in hometown grocery stores, which is why I took a page from the ever-popular zucchini noodles. They don’t stay crisp as long as papaya, so be sure to leave them undressed until the minute you’re ready to serve.

     

    thai-zucchini-salad-kaminsky-230

    Zucchini Thai salad: zucchini replaces green
    papaya in the classic som tum recipe. Photo
    © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    “Even without the papaya, this recipe transports me to a delicious new world of flavor with every single bite.

    “The dish comes together very quickly, so prep all of your vegetables first and you’ll zip right through the rest of the preparation.”

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 ounces (a big handful) haricots verts (skinny green beans), lightly blanched
  • 2 medium zucchini, spiralized or julienned
  • 1/2 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced
  • Handful skinny chives or scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted and salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing. Whisk together the lime juice, coconut sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and garlic. It will seem like a lot of liquid, but don’t worry: That’s exactly what you want. This isn’t like a traditional salad dressing; it should soak into the noodles a bit, and you will have a bit of a pool at the bottom when it’s in proper proportion.

    2. PLACE the green beans, zucchini ribbons and tomatoes in a medium bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Add the chili, a bit at a time, until it’s spicy enough for your personal taste. Give it one more good toss to mix everything around and evenly distribute the ingredients before transferring everything to a serving dish.

    3. TOP with a generous handful of sliced chives and chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

     
    SPIRAL ZUCCHINI RECIPE # 2: ZUCCHINI “SPAGHETTI”

    You will love this dish, part of our repertoire since we began to fashion our own “cuisine minceur” in high school. It does a great job emulating spaghetti, for very few calories and carbs.

    Ingredients

  • Zucchini ribbons
  • Sauce of choice—red, white, pesto, EVOO and garlic, etc.
  • Grated Parmigiano-Romano or other Italian grating cheese (for a texture change, consider shaving instead of grating)
  • Optional garnishes: capers, fresh herbs, green peas or other vegetables, panko bread crumbs, sautéed garlic slivers, sliced olives or any favorite pasta topper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK zucchini briefly, to al dente. (We steamed them in the microwave for 30 seconds).

    2. PLATE with sauce. Garnish with grated cheese and any other ingredients.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Swap

    olive-oil-bread-loaf-flavoryourlife-230

    Instead butter on your bread, try olive oil.
    Photo courtesy FlavorYourLife.com.

     

    August is National Olive Oil Month, reminding us again that it’s easy to make heart-healthy switches in everyday eating.

    While the health benefits of olive oil are no secret (including no cholesterol and less saturated fat than butter), most people are unaware of how simple it is to make the swap. Here are three easy switches:

  • Olive oil vinaigrette instead of creamy salad dressings
  • Sautéeing with olive oil instead of butter or other fat
  • Dipping bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter
  • When you swap butter for olive oil, you use need less oil—so that’s also a savings in calories.
     
    HOW TO SWAP BUTTER FOR OLIVE OIL

  • 1 teaspoon butter > ¾ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter > 2-¼ teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter > 1-½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup butter > 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup butter > ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup butter > ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup > ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup > ¾ cup
  • 2 cups > 1-½ cups
  •  
    For more ways to swap butter for olive oil in everyday recipes, visit Pompeian.com.

    You can also print out Pompeian’s butter to olive oil conversion chart and hang it on the fridge.

    MOVIE POPCORN OIL

    What kind of oil is in and on your movie popcorn?

    Most movie theaters pop the kernels in coconut oil. Coconut oil is 86% saturated fat, the kind that raises cholesterol. Lard is 38% saturated fat.

    The butter-flavored oil topping at the movies is usually partially hydrogenated soybean oil that contains both saturated and trans fats. [Source]

    What happened to “butter topping?” The butter made the popcorn soggier than oil. As a bonus to theater owners, oil is also far cheaper than butter.

    During the month of August, Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil has arranged with some movie theater chains to offer pure olive oil as an alternative to the standard topping. If you find yourself at one of those venues, let us know how you enjoyed the swap.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Oyster Day

    oysters-bacon-iSt1531875JamesAntrim-230

    Surf and turf: oyster on the half shell topped
    with crumbled bacon. Photo courtesy James
    Antrim | IST.

     

    It’s National Oyster Day. But hey—aren’t you supposed to avoid oysters in the hot summer months?

    Fresh oysters are available year-round, with caveats.

    The advice not to eat oysters during months spelled without an “r” does not refer to spoilage and food poisoning from eating oysters during June, July and August.

    Rather, it refers to the oyster’s spawning months, May, June, July and August (in the Northern Hemisphere). The meat from spawning oysters is softer, milkier and more bland than in the fall and winter.

    When oysters are fattening up, they load up on glycogen, a polysaccharide that is the principal storage form of glucose. This sugar is greatly depleted when oysters spawn, diminishing the quality of their flesh.

    “If oysters don’t spawn, they grow plump and sweet, and can be harvested year-round,” says Michael Kirkpatrick in his article, ‘Duxbury Pearls: Island Creek Oysters,” in Edible Boston, Spring 2007.’ ”

    Here’s a tip to enjoy your oysters in the warmer months: Choose oysters from the colder waters of New England and Canada. The oysters don’t spawn, although they grow large as if they were going to.

     

    If the oysters don’t spawn, won’t the colony die out?

    We contacted oyster Kirkpatrick, who advised: “Oyster colonies naturally die out all the time, which is one reason why many, if not most, commercial oyster beds are re-seeded on a regular basis (another reason: to ensure a reliable harvest).” Reseeding involves obtaining oysters from hatcheries and adding them to the beds.

    Thanks, Michael! If you visit the Cooperstown, New York, area, you can stay at Michael’s bed and breakfast, The Farm.

     

    OUR FAVORITE WAYS TO ENJOY OYSTERS

    The fresher the oysters, the more they demand to be enjoyed absolutely plain. That’s how you taste their terroir and enjoy the undiluted brine in the cups.

    That’s how we like to eat oysters. If there’s any garnish, it’s a bit of caviar—salmon caviar, tobiko, whitefish, sturgeon or other (the different types of caviar).

    Need a garnish? Go for a bit of citrus juice (yuzu is the best!) or mignonette sauce: dry white wine, sherry vinegar, chopped shallot and fresh-cracked white pepper. There’s no need to add salt, as oysters have natural salinity.

    That’s mignonette (min-yo-NET) sauce in the photo at left. The name is French, derived from the word for dainty.

    Sauces and other toppings were created to spruce up oysters that have lost their spanking freshness. When you top an oyster with cocktail sauce, or with herbed bread crumbs, butter and cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce—Oysters Rockefeller—the oyster flavor is buried under other layers.

     

    del-frisco-oysters-230w

    Oysters with mignonette sauce. Photo courtesy Del Frisco.

     

    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OYSTERS

    How many types of oysters have you had?

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Popcorn Ball Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Make an ice cream sandwich with a “popcorn
    ball” sandwich. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    August 2nd is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Sure, ice cream between two cookies or thin slices of cake makes a great sandwich. But try something different this year: Make the “sandwich” part from popcorn balls.

    This recipe takes the ingredients for popcorn balls and makes them flat, in a baking pan, so they can be cut into rectangles for the sandwiches.

    RECIPE: POPCORN ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

    Ingredients For 12 Sandwiches

  • 2-1/2 quarts popped popcorn (fresh-popped or store-bought)
  • 1-1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 6-ounce package chocolate chips*
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 pints brick-style (rectangular package)vanilla ice cream†
  •  
    *Variations: other baking chips (butterscotch, peanut butter, etc.), dried cherries, mini M&Ms, mini Reese’s Pieces or candy of choice.

    †If you can’t find brick-style pints, get a quart. Why do you need a rectangle? To slice the ice cream in a rectangle for the sandwiches. You can experiment with other ice cream flavors, but start with vanilla for a benchmark.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, vinegar and salt in a three-quart saucepan.

    2. COOK, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook until hard ball stage (250°F on a candy thermometer). Pour syrup over popped popcorn; stir to coat.

    3. ADD chocolate pieces and nuts; stir just to mix. Pour into two 13 x 9 x 2 inch pans, spreading and packing firmly. Cool.

    4. CUT the popcorn mix in each pan into 12 rectangles. Cut each pint of ice cream into 6 slices. Sandwich ice cream between two popcorn rectangles.

    5. WRAP each sandwich in plastic and place in freezer until ready to serve.

    Find more recipes at Popcorn.org, the website of The Popcorn Board.

     

    WEST COAST ICE CREAM SANDWICH NEWS

    If we were in L.A. we’d celebrate National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, August 2nd, at Napoléon’s Macarons.

    Or maybe not, since the pâtisserie is giving away* free Maca’Longs today from 2-4 p.m. at the Glendale and Canoga Park locations. Imagine the crowds, and perhaps stay home and make your own ice cream sandwiches.

    Maca’Longs are macaron cookie ice cream sandwiches that use the bakery’s macaron expertise to create long, almond meringue-based shells for their made-from-scratch ice cream. (See our original post on Pierre Herme’s version).

    The Maca’Long debuts in four flavors: Hazelnut Lemon, Mocha, Raspberry Pistachio and Vanilla Pecan. For this we have just two words: Mmmm, mmmm.

    Discover more at NapoleonsMacarons.com.

     

    maca-long-w-meringue-napoleonsmacarons-LA-230b

    An ice cream sandwich on a meringue cookie sandwich. Photo courtesy Napoléon’s Macarons | L.A.

     

    EAST COAST ICE CREAM SANDWICH NEWS

    On the other side of the country, in Manhattan, Ristorante Asellina is serving up Crolatos: homemade gelato sandwiches on split croissants.

    While a buttery plain croissant works just fine, see if you can score some almond croissants or chocolate croissants.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Simits Vs. Bagels

    We are so happy that simits have come into our life. This traditional Middle Eastern street food is breakfast fare or snack in Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean and Middle East.

    Thanks to a Turkish family whose children moved to a simit-less New York City, simits are now baked in the area, served at the company’s Simit + Smith cafés and sold at specialty food stores (a partial list: Agata & Valentina, Amish Market, Blue Olive Market, Food Cellar, Francela, Garden of Eden, Parrot Coffee and Zeytuna).

    We’d like to offer our perspective of simits versus bagels.

    Wanting to make their product stand out, the Simit + Smith folks don’t want to compare simits with that ensconced American standard, the bagel. They suggested that we call it “artisan bread,” a generic term that applies to any bread that’s handmade.

    But we don’t agree. What’s the best way to convince people to try something new? Compare it to something everyone already knows and loves.

    So take it from THE NIBBLE: If you like sesame bagels, you’ll like simits—maybe a lot more.

    SIMITS & BAGELS: THE DIFFERENCES

       

    bagel-simit-1-kalviste-230

    A simit (on top) with its cousin, a sesame bagel. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    Like bagels, simits are made with all natural ingredients, without fat or preservatives, and are hand rolled and baked fresh daily. The recipes and process are slightly different, but here are the key differences:

  • Shape. As you can see in the photos, simits are larger and flatter, even when compared to the overblown bagel from our neighborhood, made with a scant hole in the middle so the fillings don’t fall out. Simits are not used for sandwiches in Turkey—it’s not a tradition, and besides the fillings would fall out through the center. To make simit sandwiches, Simit + Smith also bakes a non-traditional, “American” simit roll without the hole.
  • Texture. Simits are crispy on the outside, and the inside is light and fluffy, in contrast with the denser, chewier bagel.
  • Fewer carbs. The flatter shape of simit means less crumb (the bready inside). You get bagel-like flavor with less bread.
  • More flavor. Comparing a simit to a sesame bagel, simits have more flavor. Why? The sesame seeds are adhered to the simit with a mixture of water and 5% molasses. That 5% adds wonderful flavor and there’s a bonus: It makes the sesame seeds really adhere. They don’t fall off and make a mess (as with a sesame bagel).
  •  

    bagel-simit-inside-vertical-230

    Inside the simit and bagel. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    MORE ON THE MENU

    In its home countries, simits are always coated with flavorful, healthful healthy sesame seeds. To meet American’s tastes, Simit + Smith also offers multigrain and whole wheat simits (you won’t find them in Turkey).

    If you’d like a simit sandwich, there are traditional Mediterranean fillings such as black olive paste and kasseri cheese, and American-style fillings as chicken, Nutella and banana (wonderful!), roast beef and our favorite, smoked salmon and cream cheese.

    There are toasted Simit chips with a variety of Mediterrean dips and spreads. We’ve been enjoying simit in some form or other for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

    Other products include beverages (the tea and coffee are delish), oatmeal, yogurt and fresh fruit, soups, salads, paninis, scones and excellent baked goods sourced from top local bakeries.

    The company has also makes pogaca (poh-AH-cha), a savory pastry filled with feta and parsley or kasseri cheese and olives. Here’s the whole menu.

     
    Simit + Smith cafes are located at 124 West 72nd Street, 111 Worth Street and 100 Williams Street in New York City. In New Jersey, visit the bakery itself at 721 Anderson Avenue in Cliffside Park.

    For more information on Simit + Smith,including a list of specialty food stores that carry simits, head to SimitAndSmith.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blackberry Cheesecake

    In the U.S. Blackberries typically peak during June in the South, and in July in the North. Crops are ready at various times of the month depending on which part of the state you are located. In order to produce good local Blackberries, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions.

    In this recipe from Driscoll’s, a deep purple blackberry purée spiked with blackberry liqueur dresses up a creamy cheesecake with a chocolate wafer cookie crust.

    Today’s the perfect day to bake it: July 30th is National Cheesecake Day (see all the food holidays).

    Prep time is 20 minutes plus cooling, cook time is 50 minutes plus cooling.

    Don’t like blackberries? Can’t find any? Use another berry.

    RECIPE: SWIRLED BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings
     
    For The Crust

  • 3 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 60 cookies)
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •    

    blackberry-cheesecake-driscolls-230r

    Celebrate National Cheesecakde Day. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     
    For The Filling and Topping

  • 2 cups blackberries, divided
  • 1 tablespoon blackberry liqueur or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cups sour cream
  • Garnish: mint leaves
  •  

    http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-blackberries-basket-image26804436

    In the U.S., blackberry season peaks in July.
    Photo © Pretoperola | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Combine chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl. Press into and up sides of 9-inch non-stick springform pan (if pan is not nonstick, brush first with melted butter). Bake about 14 minutes or until firm. Let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

    2. MAKE the filling. Purée 1 cup blackberries in a blender or food processor and strain. Discard seeds. You should have about 1/3 cup purée. Stir in blackberry liqueur and 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside until ready to use.

    3. MIX cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar in bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Add sour cream and mix until blended. Spoon half batter into cooled crust.

    4. DROP half of the blackberry purée mixture into batter, one teaspoon at a time. Swirl into filling using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Repeat with remaining batter and blackberry purée mixture.

     

    5. BAKE about 50 minutes or until edges are just set and center jiggles slightly. Turn oven off and prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon. Let cool in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely. Place in refrigerator and chill until cold throughout, 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

    6. SERVE: Make a pile of the remaining blackberries on top of cheesecake and garnish with mint leaves.

     
    BLACKBERRY TIPS

  • Select plump, firm, fully black berries. Blackberries do not ripen off the vine; unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
  • Buy only what you need. Like all fresh berries, blackberries quickly mold when left at room temperature, and only last a couple of days in the refrigerator.
  • If you have more than you can use, you can easily freeze berries. Just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.
  • Buy only what you need. Like all fresh berries, blackberries quickly mold when left at room temperature, and only last a couple of days in the refrigerator.
  • If you have more than you can use, you can easily freeze berries. Just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.
  • One quart equals 1-1/2 pounds of fresh berries.
  • One cup of blackberries has just 62 calories, and is high in antioxidants.
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Live & Active Cultures In Frozen Yogurt

    pinkberry-coffee-230

    Inside: 10 million or more live and active
    cultures. Photo courtesy Pinkberry.

     

    “What happens to the beneficial bacteria in frozen yogurt,” a reader writes. “Does freezing kill them?”

    No. Live culture frozen yogurt maintains the cultures’ benefits because the flash-freezing technique used in the production of frozen yogurt, unlike slow freezing in a freezer, only makes the organisms dormant. It does not kill them—or at least not all of them, as the number of bacteria in frozen yogurt is usually lower than that in the fresh yogurt from which it was made.

    Yogurt is made by culturing milk with bacterial cultures. The words “live and active cultures” refer to the living organisms, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus*, which convert pasteurized milk into yogurt during fermentation. (Note that the milk is pasteurized before culturing in order to remove any harmful bacteria.)

    This fermentation process is what creates yogurt, with its unique taste, texture, and healthful attributes. The yogurt cultures—all the strains of bacteria added to the product—make up about 1% of the ingredients.

     

    Not all yogurt has live and active cultures. Just as some manufacturers use different combinations of cultures, frozen yogurts are created with different processes. Some are heat-treated after culturing, which extends the shelf life of fresh yogurt but kills the cultures.

    Why should you care about the live organisms? There is preliminary scientific evidence suggesting that live cultures in regular and frozen yogurt can boost your immune system, prevent osteoporosis, and prevent gastrointestinal infections, ultimately helping your digestive system as a whole.

     
    *Other cultures may be added as well, but these are always the first two.

     

    Different yogurt brands, fresh and frozen alike, add probiotics, which aid with digestion. Red Mango is one frozen yogurt brand that adds probiotics. Yovation is a packaged brand found in some natural food stores.

    The levels that remain in frozen yogurt depend upon the numbers that were in the fresh yogurt from which it was made, and on the hardiness of the specific cultures that were used. Thus, Some frozen yogurts are better sources of live cultures and/or probiotics than others.

    In order to receive the National Yogurt Association’s Live & Active Cultures seal—a voluntary labeling program—frozen yogurt is required to contain at least 10 million cultures per gram at time of manufacture (for fresh yogurt, it is 100 million per gram). The amount was agreed upon by research scientists who participated in studies of the health benefits of live cultures in yogurt products.

    If you like a brand that doesn’t have the seal but want to know what’s inside, contact the manufacturer to ask what types of bacteria their product contains and how many live and active cultures are in the finished product.

     

    live-active-cultures-seal-natyogassn-230

    Look for the seal on boxes and containers. Image courtesy National Yogurt Association.

     

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Tequila Day

    No Margaritas today: Celebrate July 24th, National Tequila Day, with a different tequila cocktail.

    Perhaps you’d prefer some tequila ice pops, too.

    Here’s a cocktail suggestion from Tequila Avión, incorporating ripe summer papaya.

    RECIPE: PAPAYA SMASH

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1¼ ounces añejo tequila
  • Slice of fresh papaya
  • ¼ ounce agave nectar
  • ½ ounce Aperol or Campari (see note below)
  • ½ ounce orange juice
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • Fresh papaya slice for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE a slice of fresh papaya and agave nectar in a mixing glass. Add the tequila Aperol and orange juice. Top off with fresh lime juice. Add ice and give it a good shake.

    2. STRAIN into an ice-filled glass and garnish with a fresh slice of papaya.

       

    papaya-smash-avion-tequila-230

    Papaya and tequila: an inspired combination. Photo courtesy Tequila Avión.

     

     

    avion-anejo-bottle-230

    Anejo tequila is aged for two years, adding
    complex flavors. Photo courtesy Tequila
    Avión.

     

    TEQUILA & COKE

    Those who enjoy a rum and Coke can celebrate with the tequila version. Coffee lovers can buy Avion’s Espresso Tequila and make this cocktail, “The Rally,” with 1 part Avión Espresso Tequila and 2 parts cola.

    Find more recipes at TequilaAvion.com.
     

    APEROL VS. CAMPARI

    Like the better-known Campari, Aperol is an Italian apéritif, a dry alcoholic beverage usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Other apéritif examples include champagne, gin, pastis, dry sherry (fino or amontillado), vermouth, and any still, dry, light white wine.

    Aperol is milder, less bitter and much lighter in color. Its ingredients include, among others, bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona. Although it tastes and smells much like Campari, Aperol has an alcohol content that is less than half of Campari (Aperol is 11% A.B.V.), with the same sugar content.

    The opposite of an apéritif, a digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, in theory to aid digestion. Examples include brandy, eaux de vie (fruit brandies), grappa (pomace brandy), liqueurs, and fortified wines such as cream sherry, sweet vermouth, Port, and Madeira.

     

      

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