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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: 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.

     

      

    Comments

    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.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Lollipops For National Lollipop Day

    red-clear-lollipops-230

    Your homemade lollipops can be free form with inclusions, like the bits of flower petals
    above. Photo courtesy Sacred Sweets.

     

    Looking for a fun activity? How about making lollipops?

    Today is National Lollipop Day July 20th, and Exploratorium has a recipe that lets you be a lollipop chef.

    You can make favorite flavors that aren’t often found in commercial products. We’ve got anise, banana, hazelnut, mint and rum extracts that are just waiting to flavor lollys.

    The other ingredients include sugar, corn syrup, water, cream of tartar and liquid food coloring.

    You can mix up standard or unusual colors with food coloring; but the idea that really appeals to us comes from Sacred Sweets in Greenport, New York.

    They turn lollipops into edible art with:

  • Clear or barely tinted candy that shows off the inclusions inside.
  • Inclusions (mix ins) like edible flowers and glitter (you can use sprinkles and other decorations)
  • Free-form shapes
  •  
    LOLLIPOP HISTORY

    Lollipop sophistication has come a long way since prehistoric man licked honey off the stick he used to scrape it from the beehive.

    The ancient Arabs, Chinese and Egyptians made fruit and nut confections candied in honey, which may also have been eaten from sticks, owing to the stickiness of the confection.

    But what we think of as a lollipop may date to Europe in the Middle Ages, when sugar was boiled and formed onto sticks as treats for the wealthy—the only people who could afford sugar.

     
    By the 17th century, sugar was plentiful and affordable. In England, boiled sugar (hard candy) treats were popular. The word “lollipop” (originally spelled lollypop) first appears in print in 1784, roughly coinciding with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

    Beginning in the later part of the 18th century, industry, including confectionery, became mechanized. Horehound drops, lemon drops, peppermints and wintergreen lozenges became everyday candies.

     

    While we don’t know the inventor of the modern lollipop, the first automated lollipop machine was invented in Racine, Wisconsin in 1908. The Racine Confectionery Machine Company’s machine put hard candy discs on the end of a sticks, producing 2400 lollipops per hour, 57,000 per day. Today’s machines can produce 3 million lollipops daily.

    Far beyond the specialty Blow Pops, Tootsie Pops, Sugar Daddys of childhood, today’s lollipops come in all shapes and sizes, from hand-crafted works of sugar art to caffeinated Java Pops and bacon lollipops.

    And handcrafted lollipops still exist, made by companies like Hammond’s Candies, where artisans coil ropes of boiled hard candy into colorful jumbo lollipops.

    SEE’S LOLLYPOPS: SOMETHING DIFFERENT

    See’s Candies chooses the original spelling for its “lollypops,” but perhaps that’s to differentiate the creamy candy-on-a-stick from conventional lollys.

     

    sees-lollipops-unwrapped-beauty-230

    See’s creamy “lollypops,” made with butter and cream. Photo courtesy See’s Candies.

     

    See’s are made with butter and heavy cream, in a square shape (see photo at right).

    Available in butterscotch, café latté, chocolate, chocolate orange, root beer and vanilla (plus holiday flavors), they have the consistency of butterscotch, and are certified kosher by KSA.

    And they’re addictive! Treat yourself to some at Sees.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: The Classic Daiquiri

    daiquiri-no.2-ConstantinoRibailagua-bacardi-230

    No. 2 Daiquiri, the first variation of the
    original, created in 1920s Havana. Photo
    courtesy Bacardi Rum.

     

    July 19th is National Daiquiri Day. It well known as one of the favorite drinks of writer Ernest Hemingway, and less well known as a favorite of President John F. Kennedy.

    The cocktail was created in 1898, in the tropical heat of the Cuban town of Daiquirí. Jennings Cox, an American mining engineer working at the local iron mine, had the bartender shake Bacardi rum, sugar and lime with ice.

    A tall glass was packed with cracked ice; a teaspoon of sugar was sprinkled over the ice and the juice of one or two limes was squeezed over the sugar. Two or three ounces of white rum were added, and the mixture was stirred with a long-handled spoon. (Later versions used a shaker and other proportions*.)

    It was a hit: Word spread and the top bartenders in Havana were shaking it up in no time. It is also possible that William Astor Chanler, Sr., a U.S. congressman who purchased the Santiago Iron Mines in 1902, introduced the Daiquirí to clubs in New York at that time. In 1909, Rear Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, a U.S. Navy medical officer, introduced the to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. [source].

    The Daiquiri is one of the six classic cocktails highlighted in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, first published in 1948 and still in print (here’s the 2008 edition). The others included:

  • Jack Rose (applejack, lemon juice and grenadine)
  • Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth and Agnostura bitters)
  • Martini (gin and dry vermouth)
  • Old Fashioned (whiskey, simple syrup and Angostura bitters, garnished with the lemon peel and a maraschino cherry
  • Sidecar (Cognac or Armagnac, lemon juice, Cointreau or triple sec)
  •  
    *For 1 drink: 1-1/2 ounces light/white rum, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 ounce of simple syrup. Place the sugar and lime juice into a cocktail shaker and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the rum and fill the shaker with ice: half of ice cubes, topped with half of crushed ice. Shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled; strain into a chilled coupette (cocktail glass).
     
    DAIQUIRI VARIATIONS

    As with just about any cocktail, many variations of the Daiquiri have proliferated.

    One of the easiest ways to enhance the flavor is by substituting the lime juice for another citrus. Grapefruit and yuzu are our two favorites. Try this delicious Yuzu Daiquiri Recipe, which includes more history of the cocktail.

    Another of our favorite substitutions uses 2 tablespoons of triple sec or other orange liqueur instead of the sugar.

    And, a with the Margarita, fruit purées can be introduced to create a Lychee Daiquiri, Pineapple Daiquiri, Strawberry Daiquiri, etc. Add pomegranate juice for a Pomegranate Daiquiri.

     

    THE ORIGINAL DAIQUIRI EVOLVES

    After the recipe traveled from Daiquiri to Havana, Constantino Ribailagua, a bartender at El Floridita bar and restaurant in OldHavana, created three variations. We got these recipes from Bacardi, whose rum was used. You’ll need a cocktail shaker and a strainer.

    NO. 2 DAIQUIRI

    Ingredients

  • 2 parts BACARDÍ Superior rum
  • 1/2 part orange Curaçao liqueur
  • 1/2 part freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 heaping tsp fine white sugar
  • 1/2 part freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Orange zest
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients except zest in a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes and crushed ice. Give it all a good, hard shake until the cocktail shaker is cold.

    2. STRAIN the mixture into a chilled glass. Garnish with orange zest.

     

    daiquiri-no.4-ConstantinoRibailagua-bacardi-230

    No. 4 Daiquiri, a classic from 1920s Havana. Photo courtesy Bacardi Rum.

     

    NO. 3 DAIQUIRI

    This variation on the classic Daiquiri is often referred to as the Hemingway Daiquiri. Serve it in a rocks glass.

    Ingredients

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grapefruit juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Crushed ice
  • Garnish: lime wedge, maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE first five ingredients and shake vigorously with ice cubes, until the cocktail shaker is cold.

    2. STRAIN into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish and serve.

    NO. 4 DAIQUIRI

    Ribailagua tweaked the No. 3 Daiquiri to achieve subtle variations: a more perfumed aroma and a slightly sweeter drink.

    Ingredients

  • 2 parts Bacardi Superior rum
  • 1/3 part maraschino liqueur
  • 1 heaping tsp fine white sugar
  • 1/3 part freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Garnish: maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes and crushed ice. Shake vigorously until the cocktail shaker is cold.

    2. DOUBLE STRAIN the mix into a chilled glass by passing it through a hawthorne strainer (bar strainer) and then through a tea strainer. If you don’t have a hawthorne strainer you can just pass it once through a tea strainer. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
     
    How to celebrate National Daiquiri Day? Try all four—split with a friend, of course.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Celebrate National Mojito Day

    July 11th is National Mojito Day, and the Hard Rock Cafe is mixing up a storm. They sent us three recipes.

    The classic Mojito is a blend of white rum, club soda, sugar/simple syrup, lime juice, mint leaves and ice. To vary the recipe, mixologists switch out the drink’s original muddled mint flavor with coconut, strawberries or other fruits.

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY MOJITO

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 ounce/3 tablespoons strawberry purée (purée fresh or frozen berries in food processor)
  • 8-10 mint leaves
  • 10 lime cubes*
  • 2 ounces Bacardi Dragonberry Rum†
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: mint sprig, strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE strawberry purée, mint leaves and lime cubes well in a shaker.

    2. ADD rum, pineapple juice and ice and shake with ice.

       

    mojitos-varied-hardrockcafe-230

    Strawberry and classic Mojitos. Photo courtesy Hard Rock Cafe.

     
    3. STRAIN into a Collins glass with optional ice; top with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and a notched strawberry.
     
    RECIPE: PINEAPPLE COCONUT MOJITO

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 ounce/3 tablespoons Piña Colada mix
  • 4 pineapple chunks
  • 10 lime cubes*
  • 2 ounces Bacardi Coconut Rum
  • ½ ounce pineapple juice
  • Ice
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: mint sprig, toasted coconut
  •  
    *Cut each wedge of fresh lime into three “cubes.” This helps with the muddling.

    †Baccardi Dragonberry rum is flavored with strawberries and dragon fruit. Dragon fruit doesn’t have a lot of flavor per se, but it does enable a more interesting name than simply “strawberry rum.”

     

    MagicalMysteryMojito-cucumber-hardrockcafe-230

    Magical Mystery Mojito. The mystery: How
    can a gin-based drink be called a Mojito?
    Photo courtesy Hard Rock Cafe.

     

     
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE colada mix, pineapple and lime cubes well in a shaker.

    2. ADD rum, pineapple juice and ice and shake with ice.

    3. STRAIN into a Collins glass with optional ice; top with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and a spoonful of toasted coconut.
     
    RECIPE: MAGICAL MYSTERY MOJITO

    We’re not sure why the Hard Rock Cafe calls this gin-based drink a Mojito. Gin does not a Mojito make, so don’t be confused: This is a teaching moment. We love the combination of gin, cucumber and elderflower liqueur. With another name, this is a tasty cocktail. (Our favorite use: elderflower liqueur and sparkling wine are a heavenly combination.)

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • ¾ ounce Monin Cucumber Syrup
  • 8-10 mint leaves
  • 1½ ounce Hendrick’s Gin
  • ½ ounce St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Club soda
  • Ice
  • Garnish: cucumber spear and mint sprig
  •  

     
    ‡The cucumber is a fruit native to India; it spread to Europe during Roman times. Cucumber juice is used in traditional Mediterranean and Indian beverages for its cooling effect. Monin Cucumber Syrup can be added to sweet or savory teas, lemonades, cocktails and mocktails.

     
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the cucumber syrup and mint leaves well in a shaker.

    2. ADD gin, liqueur and lime juice and shake with ice.

    3. STRAIN into a Collins glass with optional ice; top with club soda. Garnish with a mint sprig and cucumber spear.

     
    MOJITO HISTORY

    The mojito (mo-HEE-toe) is a quintessential Cuban cocktail. The name derives from the African voodoo term mojo, to cast a small spell.

    According to Bacardi Rum, the drink can be traced to 1586, when Sir Francis Drake and his pirates unsuccessfully attempted to sack Havana for its gold. His associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a Mojito-like cocktail known as El Draque that was made with aguardiente, a crude forerunner of rum, sugar, lime and mint.

    Around the mid-1800s, when the Bacardi Company was established, rum was substituted and the cocktail became known as a Mojito. Here’s the original Mojito recipe.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Strawberry Sundae Day

    Strawberry sundaes have gone out of style. As each new generation comes up with favorite flavors (Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Cup, Red Velvet Cake), strawberry, an “original” ice cream flavor, has receded into the shadows. When was the last time you saw, much less ordered, a strawberry sundae?

    Today, National Strawberry Sundae Day, is the time to give this classic its due.

    You can make it with vanilla or strawberry ice cream—or both. You can use frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. You can combine a scoop of strawberry ice cream with a scoop of strawberry sorbet. You can even go Creamsicle-style by combining strawberry sorbet with vanilla ice cream.

    Since lush summer strawberries beckon, there’s no need to buy a cloying, HFCS-laden strawberry syrup. Here’s all you need to do.

     

    vanilla-ice-cream-bonne-maman-230

    A strawberry sundae with vanilla ice cream. Photo courtesy Bonne Maman.

     
    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY SUNDAE

    Ingredients

  • Strawberry ice cream or sorbet and/or vanilla ice cream
  • Strawberry jam or preserves
  • 1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
  • Orange liqueur (e.g. Grand Marnier) or spirit of choice (e.g. scotch or vodka)
  • Fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
  • Optional: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CHOOSE a dish. You don’t need sundae or parfait dishes: A bowl, glass or wine glass will do. (The photo above uses a rocks glass.)

    2. PREPARE the strawberry sauce. Dilute strawberry jam with orange liqueur to taste. Add lemon juice to taste. Add a tablespoon or more of warm water to achieve desired consistency.

    3. SCOOP ice cream/sorbet into dish. Top with strawberry sauce, sliced strawberries and optional whipped cream. Dig in.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Banana Split

    Yesterday for National Ice Cream Month we featured the “new” ice cream sandwich, a sandwich/sundae fusion.

    Today, it’s the “new” banana split in the photo: freed from its roots.

    The traditional banana split is a type of ice cream sundae made in a long dish called a boat (hence the alternate term, banana boat).

    The banana is cut in half lengthwise (the “split”) and placed on the bottom of the boat. The banana is topped with three scoops of ice cream—vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream—placed in a row between the split banana halves. Chocolate, pineapple and strawberry sauces are spooned over the ice cream, in no particular pairing. The sundae is garnished with whipped cream, crushed nuts and a maraschino cherry.

    Check out the history of the banana split, below.

    Then, plan a banana split party, where guests create their modern interpretations. It could become your signature annual event!

     

    banana-split-nouvelle-sushisamba-ps-230

    The new banana split: exciting. Photo courtesy SushiSamba.

     

    BANANA SPLIT HISTORY

    The soda fountains of yore were the equivalent of today’s Starbuck’s, where people met for refreshments and socializing. Soda jerks were the mixologists of their day*, inventing treats to excite customers. Malted milks, banana splits and phosphates emerged at the soda fountains of neighborhood drugstore in the 1890s.

    In those days, “jerk” was not a derogatory term; it referred to the quick, sharp pull as the attendant drew the carbonated water tap forward.

    David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania†, enjoyed taking on the soda jerk role and inventing sundaes at the store’s soda fountain. He invented the banana-based triple scoop ice cream sundae in 1904.

    The sundae originally cost 10 cents, twice the price of other sundaes, and caught on with students of nearby Saint Vincent College. In those pre-digital days, news of the nifty new sundae quickly spread by word-of-mouth and written correspondence.

    It must have done well for Strickler: He went on to buy the pharmacy, renaming it Strickler’s Pharmacy.

     

    banana-split-calmilkadvisorybd-230

    Traditional banana split: meh. Photo courtesy California Milk Advisory Board.

       

    The city of Latrobe celebrated the 100th anniversary of the invention of the banana split in 2004. In the same year, the National Ice Cream Retailers Association certified Latrobe as the birthplace of the banana split. It hosts an annual Great American Banana Split Festival in late August (sorry, there’s no website), and the city has the original soda fountain where the banana split was created.

    Others tried their hand at the recipe. One, published in 1907, called for a lengthwise split banana, two cones of ice cream at each end of the dish and a mound of whipped cream in between with maraschino cherry on a top. One end was covered with chopped mixed nuts and the other with chopped mixed fruits. [Source: Wikipedia]

    Here’s the history of the ice cream sundae, and the long history of ice cream in general.

     
    *Their day was the late 1800s through the early 1900s.

    †Latrobe is approximately 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The city population was 8,338 as of the 2010 census.
     
    PARTY TIME: BANANA SPLIT BAR

    How about throwing a banana split party, where guests can invent their on banana splits? Here’s what you need to put together:

  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet
  • Sauces: caramel sauce/salted caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, pineapple sauce (or crushed pineapple is a good stand-in), strawberry sauce
  • Bananas, split and/or sliced
  • Chopped nuts (traditional walnuts plus pecans, pistachios and/or slivered almonds)
  • Whipped cream
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Bowls, spoons, scoopers, etc.
  •  
    Ingredients for the “new” banana split:

  • Bananas: caramelized, foster (sautéed in butter and bourbon), fried
  • Cake cubes (the easiest to slice are loaf cakes:carrot cake, chocolate cake, pound cake)
  • Candies: caramel corn/kettle corn, chocolate chips or curls, other baking chip flavors, gummies, mini marshmallows, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces sprinkles, seasonal candies (like candy corn), toffee bits
  • Crumbled cookies: chocolate waters, meringues, oatmeal cookies, Oreos)
  • Fruits: berries; mango, melon and/or pineapple chunks
  • Wild card: brandied cherries and tart cherries, candied bacon, edible flowers, granola, marshmallow cream
  •   

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