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FOOD FUN: Filet Mignon “Sculpture” For National Filet Mignon Day

Here’s some food fun for National Filet Mignon Day, August 13th:

Instead of serving the meat flat on the plate, create a filet mignon “sculpture”: a commemoration of the tenderest cut of beef.

In this example from Rue 57 restaurant in New York City, the filet is set against a mound of mashed potatoes, and surrounded by:

  • Jus
  • Pearl onions
  • Peas
  •  
    Two croutons (toasted baguette or ficelle slices) garnish the dish, but you can crown the mashed potatoes with sprig of chive, rosemary or thyme instead.

    You can tailor the dish any way you like. For example:

  • Serve the jus on the side.
  • Add mushrooms or other vegetables.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT BEEF CUTS IN OUR BEEF GLOSSARY.
     
    WHAT IS JUS?

    Jus, pronounced ZHOO, is the French word for juice. With meat or poultry, it refers to a thin gravy or sauce made from the meat juices.

    The fat is skimmed from the pan juices and the remaining stock is boiled into a sauce, adding water as desired.

    Some cooks use additional ingredients to add flavor; for example, brown or white sugar, garlic, herbs, onion, salt and pepper, soy sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce. Our mother was fond of Gravy Master.

    In France, it would be argued that such additions are not jus, but a more complex sauce.

     

    French Dip Sandwich

    [1] Honor filet mignon on its national holiday, August 13th (photo courtesy Rue 57). [2] The French Dip sandwich, roast beef on baguette with a side of jus for dipping. Here’s the recipe from One Perfect Bite.

     
    “Au jus” (owe-zhoo) is the French culinary term that describes serving the meat with its pan juices.
     
    CAN YOU NAME THE AMERICAN SANDWICH THAT IS SERVED AU JUS?

    In the U.S., jus is served as a side in a small bowl, with a French dip sandwich: a roast beef sandwich on a hero roll or baguette.

    Here’s how the French Dip originated: another happy accident.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT SANDWICH TYPES IN OUR SANDWICH GLOSSARY.

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Lemon Drop Cocktail

    Blueberry Lemon Drop Recipe

    Highbush Blueberries

    Lemon Drops

    [1] A Blueberry Lemon Drop vodka cocktail. [2] Fresh highbush blueberries (photos courtesy U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council). [3] Lemon Drop candies (photo LettuceTemptYou | Tumblr).

     

    The Lemon Drop cocktail is a relatively new one, invented in the 1970s at Henry Africa’s bar in San Francisco.

    It is named after old-fashioned lemon drop candy: lemon-shaped hard candies sanded (coated) with very fine sugar. No doubt, it’s why the cocktail version is often made with a sugar rim.

    A sweet-and-sour vodka-based cocktail, it combines using lemon juice, triple sec, simple syrup and vodka (in this recipe, lower-glycemic* agave syrup replaces the simple syrup).

    Variations such as the Blueberry Lemon Drop and the Raspberry Lemon Drop followed.

    For more complex flavor, replace the agave with ginger or lavender simple syrup.

    The drink is served straight up in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass.

     
    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY LEMON DROP COCKTAIL

    This recipe was contributed by Erin Rebecca of PlatingsAndPairings.com.

    Variations can be made with any muddled blueberries or puréed fruit. Blueberry and raspberry are two popular versions.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 frozen blueberries, thawed slightly
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: rosemary sprig and fresh blueberries for garnish
  • Optional rim: superfine† sugar
  • __________________

    *A better choice than sugar is agave nectar, a low-glycemic natural sweetener from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a glycemic index (GI) of 32; half that of table sugar (GI 60-65). Honey has a GI of 58, pure maple syrup has a GI of 54.

    †If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can pulse regular table sugar in the food processor.
    __________________
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the optional sugar rim by moistening the rim of a Martini glass and twisting it in a shallow dish of superfine* sugar.

    2. MUDDLE the blueberries and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka and agave and fill the cocktail shaker with ice.

    3. SHAKE well and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and blueberries.

     
    Find more blueberry recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE LEMON DROP

    The lemon drop was the first candy sold commercially in the U.S., in 1806. The hard candy was made in lemon and peppermint flavors by a confectioner in Salem, Massachusetts, and called the Salem Gibralter [sic].

    According to Wikipedia, modern lemon drops, like most hard candies we know today, evolved from ancient medicinal lozenges. Eighteenth century advances in sugar technology made hard sugar concoctions possible.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Fruit Tart Recipe

    Yesterday, August 11th, was National Raspberry Tart Day. It follows on the heels of National Raspberry Cake Day (July 31st), National Raspberry Pie Day (August 1st) and National Raspberries & Cream Day (August 7th).

    We celebrated with a homemade raspberry tart. It took fewer than 20 minutes. Thanks go to our dear friend Carol, who taught us the too-good-to-be-so-easy recipe below, many years ago.

    All you need is a shortbread crust, raspberries and a jar of apple jelly. The jelly is melted into a light coat of glaze, which not only adds shine but keeps the fruit from drying out

    Prep time is 15 minutes to make and bake the crust, plus cooling time and 5 more minutes fill the crust with fruit and brush the fruit with melted jelly.

    It’s one of our go-to desserts, whenever we need something quick and impressive.
     
    WHAT ABOUT TARTLETS?

    There’s actually an even faster way to celebrate: Make tartlets (individual tarts). Buy pre-made tart shells and fill them with fruit curd, jam or preserves (the difference).

    It’s hard to find buttery shells ready-made. Our favorite is Clearbrook Farms bite-size mini tartlet shells. If you buy a brand that you think isn’t great for dessert, you can fill the shells with chicken salad or other savory food, from scrambled eggs to Seafood Newburg.

    But just get out the butter and make your own shell. Show off the fresh fruits as they deserve.
     
    USE BERRIES OR STONE FRUITS IN THIS RECIPE

    You can make this recipe with soft fruit, such as berries and ripe stone fruits (nectarines, peaches, plums, etc.).

    Other fruits, like apples and pears, need to be baked to become soft enough for pastries.

    You can mix different fruits together in whatever artistic combinations you like.
     
    TART PAN TIPS

  • If you don’t already have a tart pan, buy a good one. Cheaper ones can be flimsy and rust-prone. The pan will serve you for the rest of your life, for tarts, quiches, and as an extra pie pan in a pinch.
  • Buy a large pan: 10 to 12 inches.
  • If you don’t have or want a tart pan, you can use a pie pan, but it won’t have the classic shape: straight sides and a perfect fluted crust.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE THE DIFFERENCESBETWEEN PIES & TARTS.
     
    RECIPE: EASIEST TART FOR BERRIES & STONE FRUITS

    Ingredients

  • 2 pints (4 cups) berries or equivalent sliced stone fruit, plus extra*
  • 1 jar apple jelly
  •  
    For The Crust

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  •  
    Optional

  • Filling base: almond cream (frangipanerecipe) or pastry cream (crème pâtissiére) recipe
  • Cream cheese filling (†recipe below)
  • Garnish: chopped pistachios, crème fraîche or mascarpone
  •    
    Easy Raspberry Tart

    Raspberry Curd Tart

    Fruit Curd Tartlet

    Apple Jelly

    [1] An easy raspberry tart from Lottie And Doof. A tart pan has a removable bottom to show off the fluted edges of the crust. [2] Another easy way: make tartlets (individual portions) with fruit curd. You can buy both the shells and the curd, but here’s the recipe from from-scratch recipeSnixyKitchen.com. [3] This tartlet from Ostyeria Morini in New York City is served à la mode. [4] Versatile apple jelly makes a delicious fruit glaze (photo courtesy Smucker’s).

     
    __________________
    * Because different diameter pans require different amounts of fruit, buy an extra pint or pound “just in case.” You can serve it to guests who avoid baked desserts, or enjoy it yourself tomorrow.

    †Combine 8 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

     

    Raspberry Jam Tartlet

    Mini Tartlets Lemon Curd

    [1] You can fill tartlets or mini tartlets with jam (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Mini tartlets filled with lemon curd (photo courtesy Aida Mollenkamp).

     

    Preparation

    1. WASH the berries and pat dry gently with paper towels; use fresh paper towels to further drain; set aside. If using stone fruit, slice, skin on, and place in a bowl.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Combine the crust ingredients and press the dough into a tart pan. Bake it for 12-15 minutes, until light golden brown (not beige). Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. When it reaches room temperature…

    3. FILL the crust. If using an optional base (cream cheese, pastry cream, etc.), use a spatula to fill the bottom of the crust. Then set the fruit in concentric circles or other attractive pattern.

    4. MAKE the glaze. Melt the apple jelly and use a pastry brush to brush it over the fruit.
     
    TARTS, TARTLETS & MINI TARTS: THE DIFFERENCE

  • Tart. A tart is a multi-portion dessert, made in a fluted pan with a removable bottom. As with a pie, it is sliced into individual portions. The crust is thicker than a pie and the tart can stand on its own outside of the pan. Typical tart pan sizes are 8, 9, 10 or 11 inches in diameter.
  • Tartlet. A tartlet is an individual-size tart, typically 4 to 4.75 inches in diameter. The bottom may or may not be removable.
  • Mini Tartlet. A mini-tartlet is a bite-size tartlet, approximately 1.75 inches in diameter, made in mini tartlet pans. The bottom is not removable but it’s easy to lift out the pastry.
  •  

      

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    RECIPES: National S’mores Day Cocktail

    Combine chocolate liqueur, marshmallow vodka and graham cracker crumbs into a special cocktail for National S’mores Day, August 10th.

    Numerous recipes abound, but we had fun with this one, adapted from ACocktailLife.com.

    You can also use chocolate vodka and marshmallow syrup, or a cream liqueur in any combination.

    You can use a simple rim of graham crackers and a single marshmallow garnish, or go over the top.

    Serve in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass (you can use a wine glass).

    RECIPE: S’MORES COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces marshmallow vodka (Pinnacle and Smirnoff make it)
  • 1 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 1 ounce creme de cacao
  • 2 ounces cream or half & half
  • Ice
  • Garnish: 2 standard marshmallows
  •  
    For The Rim

  • Chocolate sauce (fudge sauce)
  • 1 crushed graham cracker
  •  
    Substitutions

  • No marshmallow vodka? Use vanilla.
  • No creme de cacao? Double the chocolate liqueur.
  • No cream? Use milk (the drink will be less rich).
  • Alternative garnishes: chocolate-covered marshmallow, pick of mini marshmallows, Mallomar
  •  
     
    Preparation

     

    Smores Cocktail

    Smores Cocktail

    [1] What’s a S’mores celebration without a S’mores cocktail? Photo and recipe courtesy ACocktailLife.com). [2] More subtle, this variation uses white chocolate liqueur (from Carrabba’s Italian Grill | Facebook).

     
    1. CREATE the rim. Crush the graham cracker into crumbs on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Place the chocolate sauce into a shallow microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Dip the rim of the glass into the chocolate, then into the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside to set.

    2. COMBINE the marshmallow vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao and fresh cream to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake well and pour into the prepared glass.

    3. TOAST the marshmallow garnish. Place the marshmallows at the end or in the center of a skewer. Use at the end to set the skewer into the drink, use the center to lie the skewer across the rim. Hold the skewer over an open flame to lightly toast (if your skewers are bamboo, soak them first). Add the skewer to the drink and serve.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Toast To National S’mores Day With Bubbly & Truffles

    S'mores Truffles

    S'mores Truffles Recipe

    [1] This sophisticated S’mores truffles recipe from My Baking Addiction uses Smirnoff’s marshmallow-flavored vodka. [2] A down-home version from QVC’s David Venable. The recipe is  .

     

    August 10th is National S’mores Day.

    A couple of weeks ago, we suggested a gourmet S’mores party with a buffet of everything S’mores, including fondue, fudge, grilled banana S’mores and ice cream—along with numerous other adaptation of the popular campfire cookie sandwich.

    If you don’t want the whole spread, just invite people over for easy-to-make S’mores Truffles with a glass of sparkling wine (our wine suggestions are below).

    RECIPE: S’MORES TRUFFLES

    This recipe from chef David Venable of QVC is very easy to make. You can delegate the task to kids who like to cook.

    Ingredients

  • 1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 14 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, divided
  • 62–64 mini marshmallows*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the condensed milk, instant coffee and vanilla into a 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

    2. ADD the chocolate chips and continue to stir until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is lukewarm, about 3–4 more minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs, and stir until fully incorporated.

    3. POUR the mixture into a small shallow dish (8″ x 8″ baking pan or a 9″ round cake pan). Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until the mixture has cooled completely, about 2–3 hours.

    4. PLACE the remaining 1/3 cup of graham crumbs into another shallow dish. To form the truffles, scoop 1 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture and make a well in the center. Place the marshmallow in the well, pinch the tops closed (to enclose the marshmallow), and roll the chocolate in your hands until a uniform ball forms.

    5. ROLL the ball into the graham cracker crumbs until completely coated. Repeat the same process to form each truffle.
     

    __________________
    *One intrepid baker counted There are 571 mini marshmellows in a 16-ounce bag. Really? Another counts 35 standard marshmallows in a 10-ounce bag, with the advice that 1 standard marshmallow = 3 mini marshmallows. If you conduct your own count, let us know!

     

    SWEET WINES TO PAIR WITH CHOCOLATE & DESSERTS

    Some sparkling wines are made in a sweet style, just to go with dessert. In the sparkling category, the terms dry, sec and demi-sec (dry and semi-dry in French) are used for these wines.

    Why dry? It’s an anomaly that began in the Champagne region of France. Here’s an interesting comparison of the different sweetnesses of Champagne.

    Sweet Sparkling Wines

  • Amabile and Dolce sparkling wines from Italy
  • Asti Spumante from Italy (sparkling moscato)
  • Brachetto d’Acqui (a rosé wine) from Italy
  • >Demi-Sec and Doux sparkling wines from France (including Champagne)
  • Dry Prosecco (a.k.a Valdobbiadene) from Italy
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Sweet Cuvée and Freixenet Mía Moscato Rosé from Spain
  •  
    We also like two sweet sparklers from the U.S,:

  • Sparkling Gewürztraminer from Treveri Cellars in Washington
  • Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec from California
  •  
    Sweet Still Wines

    Take advantage of the celebration to try one or more of these:

  • Banyuls from Roussillon in the south of France
  • Late Harvest Zinfandel from California
  • Lustau Muscat Sherry Superior “Emlin” fom Spain
  • Recioto Amarone from Veneto, Italy (not Valpolicella, a dry wine from the same region)
  • Ruby Port from Portugal
  • Vin Santo from Tuscany, Italy
  •  
    Liqueurs also work.

    And how about that Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka from Smirnoff?

     

    Red Wine & Chocolate

    Champagne & Chocolate

    [1] Certain red wines—still or sparkling—are perfect pairings for chocolate (photo courtesy Taza Chocolate). [2] Prefer bubbly? Make sure it’s a sweet style (photo courtesy Delysia Chocolate).

    S’MORES HISTORY

    Since the Girl Scouts popularized S’mores long ago (the first published recipe is in their 1927 handbook), it has been a happy tradition around the campfire. A stick, two toasted marshmallows, a square of chocolate and two graham crackers get you a delicious chocolate marshmallow sandwich.

    The heat of the toasted marshmallow melts the chocolate a bit, and the melted quality is oh-so-much-tastier than the individual ingredients (per Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). The name of the sweet sandwich snack comes from its addictive quality: you have no choice but to ask for “some more.”

    But you don’t need a campfire, or even all of the classic ingredients, to celebrate with s’mores, as the recipe above and our other S’mores recipes show.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Pasta For Summer, Zucchini “Pasta,” Enhanced

    August 8th is National Zucchini Day. Last year, we featured the Spiralizer, a gadget that started the zucchini noodle craze by making it easy to make long pasta-like strands from firm vegetables, along with a recipe for Zucchini Pasta With Crab.

    The concept took off in the media and in kitchens across the country. Who wouldn’t like a better-for-you pasta experience? At 20 calories per cup of zucchini and 40 calories for a half cup of tomato sauce, one could have a big plate of “pasta” of better-for-you complex carbs for 100 calories—including the grated Parmesan.

    Some people, though, still longed for the toothsome texture and flavor of Italian pasta. So today’s tip is:

    Mix the two noodles together: half standard pasta noodles (wheat) and half zucchini noodles.

    The concept is very versatile: the combination of starch and vegetable lends itself to many more sauces than standard pasta sauces.
     
    SAUCES

    You can use any pasta sauce, or turn to global cuisines for another approach.

    Asian sauces work particularly well here, but there are plenty of other options including:

  • Chimichurri sauce
  • Compound or plain butter sauce
  • Garlic and olive oil sauce
  • Fresh or cooked tomato sauce
  • Mushroom sauce
  • Parsley sauce
  • Ponzu or teriyaki sauce
  • Thai peanut sauce
  • Yogurt sauce
  •  
    PASTA TOPPINGS

  • Brined vegetables (capers, olives)
  • Cheeses: boconccini (mozarella balls), crumbled goat or feta, shaved Parmesan
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cooked vegetables (edamame, peas, etc.)
  • Fresh herbs
  • Spiraled beet, carrot, cucumber, green papaya or other raw garnish
  • Seafood: anchovies, sardines, shrimp (boiled, grilled, sautéed)
  •  
    RECIPE: MIXED NOODLE PAD THAI

    Match the zucchini size to the pasta size you buy, e.g., linguine (thin) or pappardelle (wide).

  • You can mix green and yellow squash. You can also make this recipe with 100% zucchini or 100% pasta noodles.
  • You can serve the dish hot/warm, room temperature or chilled.
  • Also check out our recipe for mixed zucchini and pasta noodles with crab.
     
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 cups raw zucchini “noodles”
  • 4-6 ounces wheat or rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Juice from 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (substitute Worcestershire or a bit of anchovy paste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 green onions (scallions), sliced
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (substitute flat-leaf parsley)
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts (the standard is unsalted, but you can use whatever you have, including honey roasted or flavored)
  • Optional protein: grilled shrimp or chicken
  • Optional garnish: lime wedge
  •  
     
    Preparation

       

    Zucchini Pasta

    Zucchini Noodles

    Zucchini Noodles

    Zucchini Pad Thai

    [1] Zucchini and fettuccine noodles with shaved Parmesan cheese (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers. [2] Zucchini and linguine noodles in olive oil-garlic sauce (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Zucchini noodles with Bolognese sauce (here’s the recipe from SheKnows.com). [4] Chicken Pad Thai with zucchini noodles (here’s the recipe from ImBored-LetsGo.com).

     
    1. BRING a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the wheat noodles and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until tender. SCOOP the noodles out with a mesh strainer, reserving the water; add them to a large bowl and set aside.

    2. ADD the zucchini noodles to the water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and test after 5 minutes. Do not overcook. When ready, drain, reserving a bit of the pasta water and add to the wheat noodles. Stir to combine.

    3. HEAT the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until tender.

    3. WHISK the eggs lightly with a fork or mini-whisk; add them to the skillet and lightly scramble. Cook the eggs until they just solidify but are still moist. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside on a trivet or other counter protector.

    4. MAKE the sauce: In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and red pepper flakes. Add the sauce into the scrambled eggs in the skillet. Pour/scrape into the noodle bowl and toss to coat. At this point, if you want to serve the dish hot or warm, microwave briefly before adding the garnishes.

    5. ADD the green onions, cilantro, and peanuts over the noodles. Toss lightly to combine and serve.

     

    WonderVeg Spiralizer

    Beyond zucchini, the WonderVeg Spiralizer can transform any hard vegetable into long strands for “pasta” or for raw vegetable salads and garnish. Consider beet, carrot, cucumber, turnip and zucchini, plus others such as green papaya (photo courtesy WonderVeg.com).

     

    ZUCCHINI HISTORY

    Zucchini, Cucurbita pepo, is a member of the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae. It originated in Central and South America, where it has been consumed for thousands of years. It grew in different shapes, including round balls that can still be grown from heirloom seeds. But the variety most of us are familiar with was developed at the end of the 19th century near Milan, Italy.

    The word squash comes from Narraganset language of the Native Americans of Rhode Island, who used askutasquash, “a green thing eaten raw. The Pilgrims had difficulty pronouncing the whole word, and shortened it to squash. Either way, it was an extremely valuable source of food for both peoples, and one that we also heavily rely on as a source of nutrition for a large part of the season.

    The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash (zucca is the word for pumpkin). In the wonderful world of food fusion, the word squash comes from the Indian skutasquash meaning “green thing eaten green.” Christopher Columbus originally brought seeds to the Mediterranean region and Africa.

     
    The French turned their noses up at zucchini (courgettes) for a long time until cooks learned to choose small fruits, which are less bland and watery. The same tip still applies: the smaller, the better.

    While a botanical fruit*, zucchini is treated as a vegetable. With the exception of zucchini bread and zucchini muffins, both made with sugar, it is typically cooked as a savory dish or accompaniment. has its ancestry in the Americas. However, the varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were developed in Italy, many generations after their introduction from the Americas.
     
    __________________
    * Zucchini is a fruit, as are all squash, cucumbers and other members of the Cucurbitaceae family. It is the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower; zucchini blossoms are also eaten, stuffed and sautéed.

      

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    RECIPE: Raspberry & Cream Croissants

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/raspberry cream croissant truwhip 230sq

    Whipped Cream & Berries

    [1] For breakfast, snack or dessert, here’s how to celebrate National Raspberries & Cream Day (photo courtesy TruWip). [2] No time to hand-whip cream? Try Reddi-Wip in Original or Chocolate (photo courtesy Reddi-Wip).

     

    This year for National Raspberries and Cream Day (August 7th), we had Raspberries and Cream Croissants for breakfast.

    You can also enjoy them for a snack or dessert.

    The first time we made this recipe, we used hand-whipped cream; the texture is just perfect for spreading. This morning, hungry for breakfast, we defaulted to our stand-by, Reddi-Wip.

    We had a can of Original Reddi-Wip and a can of Chocolate Reddi-Wip. Take your choice: Both were delish. And we admit to adding some chocolate chips with both.

    The winner, however, was mascarpone and raspberries.

    RECIPE: RASPBERRIES & CREAM CROISSANTS

    Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 fresh croissants
  • 3 cups whipped cream or other topping*
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (substitute pistachios)
  • Optional chocolate chips (ideally mini chips)
  • __________________
    *A can of Reddi-Wip does the job.

     
    Preparation

    1. MIX the TruWhip and almond extract in a large mixing bowl. Gently fold in the raspberry jam until slightly marbled.

    2. SLICE the croissants horizontally and generously spread with the cream. Top with the fresh raspberries and a scattering of slivered almonds and optional chips.

     
    TIP: If the raspberries are too plump such that you can’t easily eat the croissant, first cut them in half.

    We adapted this recipe from TruWhip, a dairy-free whipped topping.
     
    NO FRESH RASPBERRIES?

    Try these variations:

  • For the whipped cream: clotted cream/Devon cream, cream cheese, crème fraîche, mascarpone, sour cream, Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla) (more about these products)
  • For a snack or dessert: vanilla ice cream
  • For the raspberries: a layer of raspberry jam or preserves, frozen raspberries
  •  
    NO CROISSANTS?

    Substitute biscuits or toast. Or top pancakes, French toast or waffles with the raspberries and cream.

    The toppings also work as a cookie spread.
     
    NO RASPBERRY JAM?

    You can fold puréed raspberries into the whipped cream, or just use plain whipped cream.
     
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe?

    Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Violet Bakery Cookbook

    [1] The best cookies use jumbo chunks of top-quality chocolate (photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco). [2] Here’s the cookbook
    (photo courtesy Ten Speed Press).

     

    May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day…and so is August 4th.

    It may be that one is simply Chocolate Chip Day, and the other Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Emails for clarification have not been answered.

    But who would complain about a second Chocolate Chip Cookie Day?
     
    WHAT IS “THE BEST?”

    In subjective areas (as opposed to who crossed the finish line first), “the best” is in the eye of the beholder…or more accurately, on the palate.

    You know what you like. If you’re still searching for CCC* perfection, consider this recipe. The only challenge: finding room in the freezer for the cookie sheet!

    RECIPE: VIOLET BAKERY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

    Ingredients For 16 Large Cookies

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups dark chocolate chips†
  • Parchment paper
  • __________________
    *Chocolate Chip Cookie!

    †We use Callebaut or Trader Joe’s chocolate chunks.
     
    Preparation

    1. LINE a small baking sheet or pan—one that will fit inside your freezer—with parchment paper.

    2. BEAT the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined but not too creamy. You are not aiming for light and fluffy; that would make the cookies too cakey. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks and mix well.

     
    3. COMBINE the flour, salt and baking soda in another bowl and whisk together well. Add to the butter and egg mixture along with the chocolate; mix until combined.

    4. SCOOP individual portions of cookie dough onto the lined baking sheet or pan; or use spoons to pat each portion into a little ball. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 1 hour, or up to a month. You can bake them right away, but the cookies will be slightly flatter and less even. When ready to bake…

    5. PREHEAT the oven to 355°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the cookies evenly on the pan, leaving enough space between each one so they have room to expand during baking: They will almost double in size! Rest the frozen dough on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes before placing in the oven.

    6. BAKE for 18 minutes, until the center of each cookie is slightly soft and under-baked, but the edges are crispy and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before serving. These cookies will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

    TIP: If your cookies aren’t as crisp the nest day, place them on a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and warm them in the oven. The heat will drive out the extra moisture, making them crisp again.
     
    THE VIOLET BAKERY COOKBOOK

    While the chocolate chip cookie was born in the U.S.A., this recipe comes from London’s popular Violet Bakery. Alice Waters calls it “a little corner of Northern California in east London.”

    Get your copy at Amazon.com.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie Recipe

    Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

    Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

    [1] The skillet cookie made by Michelle of HummingbirdHigh.com. [2] Lindsay of PinchOfYum.com adds a layer of caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt to her recipe.

     

    August 4th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day—and just this week, we found this fun chocolate chip cookie recipe in Cook It in Cast Iron: Kitchen-Tested Recipes for the One Pan That Does It All, by Cook’s Country.

    Beyond eggs, steak, cornbread and other popular skillet dishes, you can make skillet apple pie, cinnamon swirl bread, even pizza.

    But today, it’s all about the cookie. The recipe was baked in a 12″ diameter skillet, if yours is 10 inches, you’ll get a taller cookie (increase the baking time another 5 to 10 minutes).

    You can make it your own, with a mix of dark, milk and white chocolate chips; next time we might toss in some dried cherries. We substituted pecans for the hazelnuts.
     
    RECIPE: SKILLET CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE

    Ingredients For A 12-Inch Cookie

  • 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) dark brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1-3/4 cups (8.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Optional: 3/4 cup (4 ounces) whole raw hazelnuts
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADJUST an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Melt 9 tablespoons butter in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.

    Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until butter is dark golden brown, has a nutty aroma, and the bubbling has subsided some, about 5 minutes.

    Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons until completely melted.

     

    2. WHISK the dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and salt into the melted butter until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the egg and the egg yolk until smooth, about 3 seconds.

    Let the mixture sit for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times, until the mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.

    3. WHISK the flour and baking soda in a separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate chips and optional nuts, making sure no flour pockets remain.

    4. WIPE the skillet clean with paper towels. Transfer the cookie dough to the empty, cleaned skillet and press it into an even layer with a spatula.

    Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake until cookie is golden brown and edges are set, about 20 minutes.

    5. USE potholders to transfer the skillet to a wire rack; let cookie cool for 30 minutes. Slice the cookie into wedges or diagonals and serve.

     

    Cook It In Cast Iron Cookbook

    what you can cook in a cast iron skillet (photo courtesy Cook’s Country). You can purchase the book online.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE

    It was an accident. Here’s the scoop.

      

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    RECIPE: 12+ Different Types Of Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich

    Ice Cream Sandwich Sundae

    Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Palmier Ice Cream Sandwich

    Cookie Dough ice cream sandwiches. Be still our foolish hearts (photo courtesy McCormick). [2] An ice cream sandwich sundae (photo courtesy Tony Roma’s). [3] Ice cream sandwich on a donut (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers). [4] Ice cream sandwich on French palmier cookies (photo courtesy Sugar Bowl Bakery).

     

    Time to celebrate: August 2nd is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day.

    ICE CREAM SANDWICH HISTORY

    According to an article in the July 1900 issue of The New York Herald Tribune, the ice cream sandwich was created in 1899 by a pushcart peddler in the Bowery area of the Lower East Side.

    The first ice cream sandwiches were a slice of vanilla ice cream pressed between two thin graham wafers. The slice was cut from a larger slab.

    In July 1900, The New York Tribune published an article about the pushcart vendor who was selling the sandwiches.

  • The vendor was so busy pressing the sandwiches into a tin mold (to order) that he didn’t have time to make change. Customers had to pay the exact price, one cent.
  • Shortly thereafter, the treats made it to pushcarts on the beach at Atlantic City.
  •  
    MODERN ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

    The modern version with the rectangular chocolate wafers was created in 1945 by Jerry Newberg, an ice cream vendor at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh; although Wikipedia gives credit to partners Jack Delaney, Tim Jones, John Defilippis and Sam West whom it says originally created and patented the chocolate wafer sandwich in 1963. The thin wafers gain moisture in the freezer, which gives them a cake-like quality.

    The next step, the Chipwich, was ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies. It was created in 1981 by Richard LaMotta of New York City and sold from a pushcart like the Bowery originals (the brand was subsequently bought by Dreyer’s, and is now owned by Retrobrands USA).

    Today the ice cream sandwich is enjoyed worldwide, in forms that include the Vietnamese bánh mì kep kem, a baguette stuffed with scoops of ice cream topped with crushed peanuts, instead of conventional sandwich fixings; to Iranian “bread ice cream” which sandwiches rose water, saffron, or vanilla ice cream between thin, round, crunchy wafers.

    In Scotland, vanilla ice cream sandwiched is between one wafer and one block of chocolate-covered nougat (a “single nougat”) or between two blocks of nougat (a “double nougat”).

    We’ve seen macaron ice cream sandwiches and churro ice cream sandwiches. What would you like for your perfect ice cream sandwich?
     
    MODERN ICE CREAM SANDWICH RECIPES

    Since the Chipwich, making ice cream sandwiches other cookies and bars (blondies, brownies, oatmeal, etc.) have come to the fore. But creativity doesn’t stop there. Here are other delicious variations of ice cream sandwich:

  • Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches On Blueberry Pound Cake
  • Brioche Or King’s Hawaiian Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Crunchy Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Donut, Rice Krispie Treat & Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Frozen Cheesecake “Ice Cream” Sandwiches
  • Granola Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Ice Cream Sandwich Sundaes
  • Popcorn Ball Ice Cream Sandwiches
  • Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches
  •  

    We celebrated today with ice cream sandwiches on black and white cookies!
     
      

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