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Archive for Food Holidays

TIP OF THE DAY: Caprese Sandwich

Caprese Sandwich
[1] Caprese Sandwich on a baguette. Here’s a recipe from Somewhat Simple.

Caprese Sandwich

[2]Melt the mozzarella on a panini press! Here’s a recipe from Cooking Classy.

 

Every restaurant menu we’ve seen this summer has Caprese Salad on the menu. That’s because July and August deliver the best tomatoes of the year, and a Caprese—tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil—will never taste better.

First “discovered” on the Isle of Capri in the 1950s, Caprese Salad became a favorite of King Farouk, and then a summer dish at Italian-American and Continental restaurants throughout Europe and across America. Here’s the history of Caprese Salad.

It’s so popular, you’ll even find Caprese Salad on winter menus—when the tomatoes are hard and have no flavor.

We’ve since made Caprese pasta salad, Caprese pasta (topped with uncooked tomato sauce, ciliegine—mozzarella balls the size of cherry tomatoes), Caprese appetizer bites, Caprese cocktail garnishes and a Caprese with other fruits subbing for the tomato (mango, peach, watermelon).

We’ve even made a vegan version with tofu instead of cheese, and Caprese gazpacho (blender tomatoes with shredded basil, topped with perlini (tiny mozzarella balls—the different sizes of mozzarella).

But we’ve never made ourselves a Caprese sandwich—until now, because August is National Sandwich Month.

RECIPE: CAPRESE SANDWICH

  • Bread: baguette, ciabatta roll, pita, rustic
  • Tomatoes: cherry, heirloom, plum, marinated in olive oil
  • Optional: 1 clove garlic, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basil: fresh leaves, de-stemmed, patted dry
  • Mozzarella (format of choice—sliced, perlini, etc.)
  • Balsamic balsamic glaze or vinegar
  • Optional garnish: black olives
  •  
    Variations

    While these stray a bit from the purity of a Caprese, they’re tasty alternatives when you want a bit “more.”

  • Toast the bread.
  • Rub the bread with a cut garlic clove.
  • Marinate the tomatoes with sliced sweet onions and oregano.
  • Substitute the tomatoes for sundried, or roasted red pepper (pimento)—a good choice in the winter.
  • Substitute pesto or arugula for the basil leaves.
  • Grill the sandwich on a panini press.
  • Preparation

    1. SLICE the tomatoes and cover with olive oil. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for 10 minutes or more.

    2. SLICE the bread (note: for a picky guest who didn’t like the “wet bread” from the balsamic and olive oil, we toasted the baguette and added a thin slick of sweet butter to the cut faces).

    3. SLICE the mozzarella and drain the tomatoes.

    4. ASSEMBLE the sandwich: first the basil, then the mozzarella, then the tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve. We love black olives, so we served them in a ramekin on the side.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Classic Peaches & Cream

    For National Peach Month, August, try one of the oldest peach recipes: peaches and cream.

    If you read novels or short stories from centuries past, you’ve no There are many ways to make peaches and cream

    In a book of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories, The Basil And Josephine Stories, he introduces Basil, a fictionalized version of his younger self. One of Basil’s favorite foods: peaches and cream.

    Is peaches and cream as simple as it sounds?

    Yes, if you have juicy, ripe peaches, waiting to be sliced into a bowl and covered with heavy cream (or in the U.K., clotted cream).

    Otherwise, poach or bake the peaches first.

    The following recipe has a Southern spin, with bourbon and brown sugar.

    RECIPE: PEACHES & CREAM

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 peaches, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon + 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons bourbon
  • Garnish: toasted pecans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOSS the peaches with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside until juicy, about 30 minutes (the sugar helps to extract the juices). Meanwhile…

    2. WHIP 1 cup heavy cream until it has begun to thicken; then beat in 4 teaspoons brown sugar. Add the bourbon and beat until soft peaks form. Layer the peaches and cream in dessert glasses and top with toasted pecans.

    FANCIER RECIPES

    For more elaborate preparations:

    Add caramel sauce, as in this recipe from Spache The Spatula. The peaches and cream are drizzled with vanilla bean-zinfandel caramel sauce.

     

    Peaches and Cream
    Classic peaches and cream: ripe peaches and heavy cream (photo courtesy Spache The Spatula).

    Peaches & Cream Shortcake

    [2] A fancier approach: jumbo macaron on clotted cream, filled with peaches and vanilla ice cream (photo courtesy Bestia | LA).

     
    Turn it into shortcake. In photo #2, a jumbo macaron substitutes for the shortcake biscuit. It sits on a bed of clotted cream, and is stuffed with peaches and vanilla ice cream.

    Your own take. How else would you present fresh peaches and cream? Let us know!

      

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    RECIPE: Peach Panzanella, Just Peachy For Lunch Or Dinner

    Peach Panzanella

    Peach Panzanella

    Ripe Peaches

    [1] Peach panzanella as a salad course and [2] a main course, with added mozzarella and prosciutto (photos courtesy Good Eggs). Fragrant ripe peaches [3] are a versatile ingredient at every meal (photos courtesy Pompeian.

     

    August is National Peach Month, honoring the most popular stone fruit: the peach. (Other stone fruits, in the genus Prunus, include almonds, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and the cross-bred apriums, plumcots and pluots.)

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF PEACHES

    The peach originated in China and has been cultivated at least since 1000 B.C.E. Peaches traveled west via the silk roads to Persia, earning them the botanical name Prunus persica. There, they were discovered by Alexander the Great, who mentions half a dozen types and brought them to Greece.

    By 322 B.C.E. Greece was growing peaches, and by 50 to 20 B.C.E., Romans grew them. They called them Persian apples, and sold them for the modern equivalent of $4.50.

    The Romans transported peach trees to other parts of their empire.

    Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages. The Spaniards brought peaches to South America, the French introduced them to Louisiana, and the English took them to their New England colonies.

    To this day China remains the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy second. California produces more than 50% of the peaches in the United States (and grows 175 different varieties). And so many peaches are grown in Georgia that it became known as the Peach State.

    Here’s more about peaches.

    Over the next week or two, we’ll be presenting a menu of peachy recipes, starting with…

    RECIPE #1: PEACH PANZANELLA

    Panzanella, an Italian bread salad that uses up day-old bread, is one of our favorites, tailored to the bounty of each season. Panzanella can be sweet or savory. In the winter, with a paucity of fresh fruit, recipes tend to be savory (here’s a classic winter panzanella recipe).

    But when the season gives you so much fresh fruit, sweeter panzanellas call.

    Panzanella is one of those delicious foods invented by necessity: Poor people needed to get another meal from bread that had gone stale (the history of panzanella).

    In summer grilling season, juicy, caramelized peaches and smoky grilled bread unite in this summer panzanella. These recipes, for a salad course and a dinner salad, are from Good Eggs. They were inspired by Julia Sherman’s new book, Salad for President.

    No grill? Broil the peaches and bread cut-side up in the oven.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 shallot
  • Loaf of sourdough bread
  • 1 pound ripe yellow peaches
  • Fresh basil leaves to taste, torn
  • Sherry vinegar (substitute red wine vinegar)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Additions For Dinner Salad (photo #2)

  • 1/4 pound prosciutto or serrano ham slices
  • 1/2 cup bocconcini or other bite-size mozzarella balls
  • Optional: fresh tomato wedges
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a very hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium. No grill? Use a grill pan in the oven)

    2. CHOP the shallot finely. Cut off two large slices of sourdough. Set both aside.

    3. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil and the shallot in a small bowl. Set aside.

    4. HALVE the peaches and remove the pits. In a large bowl, toss the peach halves and optional ingredients with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil over both sides of the bread slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    5. OIL the grill grate and let it heat up for a minute or two. Arrange the bread slices on the outer edges of the grill grate and the peaches, cut-side down, in the center. Set the peach bowl aside but don’t rinse it.

    6. GRILL the bread on each side for for 1 minute, or until lightly toasted. Grill the peaches until the bottoms are caramelized and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip the peaches and cook for another 3 minutes. If using an oven, broil both the bread and the peaches cut side up.

    7. REMOVE the toasted bread from the grill, allow it to cool enough to handle, and tear it into bite-sized pieces (we prefer to cut it into large croutons). Cut each peach half in half again (or if the peaches are larger, cut them into into large chunks). Place them in the peach bowl along with the torn bread.

    8. DRIZZLE the dressing over the peaches and bread, and toss. Let the panzanella marinate for 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, as desired.

    9. GARNISH with torn basil and serve.

     
     
    MORE PANZANELLA RECIPES

  • Summer Panzanella Salad
  • Basic Panzanella Salad (basil, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes)
  • Chicken Panzanella Salad
  • Panzanella & Fruit Salad
  • Winter Panzanella
  • Zucchini & Bell Pepper Panzanella
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream & Beer Pairings

    Don’t let National Ice Cream Month (July) pass without doing something special.

    A year ago, Baskin-Robbins sent us ice cream and beer pairings of their favorite flavors, We found the article in our drafts folder, which inspired today’s tip:

    Love beer? Love ice cream? Don’t hesitate to serve them together. Beer floats like the Guinness Float have been popular for several years. The recipe is simple:

    Add ice cream to the glass and top with beer.

    If you prefer hard cider to beer, this tip works for you, too; maybe even better, given the sweet succulence of some ciders.

    You can experiment with other types of beer floats, as well as open a beer to serve with a dish of ice cream, plain or à la mode.

    Beyond floats, have a dish of ice cream or a sundae. You could have a cone, but the idea of a cone in one hand and a beer in the other is too much of a balancing act for us. (Perhaps that’s where a beer drinking helmet comes in handy.)

    In fact, have a pairing party with some basic flavors (chocolate, coffee, vanilla). The pairings go far beyond lambic and fruit ale. How about:

  • Chocolate ice cream with kriek, a cherry-flavored Belgian ale, regular or chocolate stout.
  • Coffee or mocha ice cream with stout, especially coffee stout and Imperial stout.
  • Vanilla ice cream with lambic, a raspberry-flavored ale, chocolate or coffee stout.
  • Spicy beers with spicy ice cream: cinnamon, pumpkin pie, etc.
  •  
    The pairing concept works with sorbet, as well. We just polished off an Angry Orchard Summer Honey Cider with some Lactaid vanilla ice cream.

    We’ve previously covered beer-and-ice cream articles, such as:

  • Make Your Own Beer Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Stout Ice Cream & Beef Float Recipes
  • Peanut Butter Cake With Beef Foam
  • Spiced Beer & Apple Pie Float
  •  
    You can make those recipes, but why not strike out on your own to find the pairings you like best. You can pair beer with ice cream or sorbet. Just follow three simple rules.
     
     
    HOW TO PAIR BEER & ICE CREAM

    1. Start with basic flavors. Once you know what you like, you can go for the more comples.

    2. Avoid beers that are bitter, crisp or dry. Instead, choose those with some residual sweetness.

    3.Look for a beer with notes that match the ice cream. Different beers can have notes of chocolate, citrus, coffee, fruit, spice. For fall, e.g., there’s pumpkin ale to go with pumpkin spice ice cream.
     
     
    BASKIN-ROBBINS PAIRINGS

    These pairings were recommended by John Holl of All About Beer Magazine. with his comments in quotes. They’ll give you more ideas on how to pair.

  • Cherries Jubilee with Barleywine. “A barleywine coaxes out the rich cherry and rum flavor in this ice cream. Bittersweet and leather flavors emerge as well, begging for this combo to be enjoyed in dad’s favorite leather chair.”
  • Chocolate with Belgian Quad. “This beer is bursting with flavors that love chocolate. Two classics with great depth and rich sweetness that only get better with each lick and sip.”
  • Jamoca Almond Fudge with Blueberry Ale. “Brewers are taking the sweet, tangy, earthy blueberry and adding it to caramel-tinged ales, making it a perfect complement to this frozen coffee, nutty, chocolatey concoction. Lively fruit flavors pair wonderfully with the chocolate flavored ribbon.”
  • Mint Chocolate Chip with Coffee Porter or Stout. “The ale already has some cocoa and java flavors and it mixes nicely with the roast of the chocolate chips and the herbal, cool mint flavor of the ice cream.”
  • Peanut Butter N’ Chocolate with Doppelbock. “Nutty and creamy, with an assertive chocolate base, the ice cream brings out the best in this malt-forward dark brown lager.”
  • Pralines ‘n Cream with a Pilsner or a Mango Ale. “The classic pilsner style, with sweet cereal-like malt takes the place of a cone when paired with this southern-style treat. Additionally, two of the most popular beer styles this summer are mango-flavored pale ales and India pale ales. The nuttiness and sweetness of the ice cream balances out some of the more assertive beer flavors, creating a delectable combination.”
  • Rocky Road With Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. “A candy lover’s dream! The stout has sweet chocolate, rich espresso and generic red berry flavors that party hard with the almond, marshmallow and deep chocolate of the ice cream. Rocky Road adds creaminess to the hearty beer and this combination makes for an excellent ice cream beer float.”
  • Vanilla with Peach Lambic. “Sweet and creamy vanilla gets a boost from the lambic, which is fermented with peaches and aged in barrels. Slightly spicy and effervescent, the fruity character of the ale will act like a sauce for the ice cream. This lambic style helps to recreate the classic peaches and cream combination.”
  • Very Berry Strawberry with Hefeweizen. “It’s the start of a fruit salad. Bright, vibrant strawberry mixes with the banana esters in the classic German Hefeweizen. The sweet berry will also help control the assertive spice bite of the clove flavor found in the beer and counter the acidity found in the lemon wedge often served as a garnish on the rim of the glass.”
  • Watermelon Splash Ice With Gose*. “Gose is brewed with wheat and salt and is predicted to be the beer of the summer, making it a perfect companion to the hot weather staple – watermelon. Pronounced “Gose-Uh,” look for variations that already include cucumber, prickly pear, or yes, even watermelon flavors.”
  • ________________

    *Gose is an old, top-fermented German sour beer that originated in Goslar. An unfiltered wheat beer, cloudy gose beers have a spiciness from the addition of ground coriander seeds, a sharpness from the addition of salt, and a lemony tartness. Some are also flavored with syrups.

     

    Guinness Float
    [1] Beer floats combine two of summer’s favorite refreshers: beer and ice cream (photo courtesy Silver Moon Desserts).

    Coffee Stout Float
    [2] A coffee stout ice cream float. Here’s the recipe from Beautiful Booze.

    Brown Ale Ice Cream Sundae
    [3] A vanilla ice cream sundae with salted caramel and honey peanuts, served with brown ale. Here’s the recipe from Somewhere Over The Kitchen..

    Angry Orchard Summer Honey Cider
    [4] If you’re not a beer lover, try hard cider instead. Angry Orchard’s seasonal Summer Honey Cider is a good start (photo courtesy Sanura Weathers).

    Baskin Robbins Strawberry Ice Cream

    [5] Strawberry ice cream with a Hefeweizen? Who knew? (Photo courtesy Baskin-Robbins).

     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEER, a photo-glossary.

      

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    HOLIDAY: Tequila Trivia For National Tequila Day

    Caballito & Margarita Glass
    [1] The two special tequila glasses: caballito and Margarita (photo courtesy El Jimador).

    Watermelon Cocktail
    [2] A tequila-watermelon cocktail. The recipe is below (photo courtesy Milagro Tequila).
    Blue Agave Pinas

    [3] After harvesting, piñas are roasted in a stone oven (photo courtesy Casa Noble Tequila).

    Pulque

    [4] Pulque: what the Aztecs drank before the conquistadors taught them how to distill (photo courtesy Mexico News Network).

     

    July 24th is National Tequila Day. How about some tequila trivia?

    THE AGAVE PLANT

  • The Blue Weber agave plants used to make tequila are pollinated by bats. They flower only once.
  • While the agave plant looks like a cactus, it is a succulent in the lily family.
  • The leaves of agave are so sharp that they are used as cutting instruments.
  • A blue agave plant matures in 6-12 years and weighs 90 to 150 pounds. The piña itself (photo #3) weighs from 25 to 50 pounds.
  • The piña is the part of the plant used to make tequila, and gets its name because it looks like a pineapple (piña in Spanish). It grows underground. It looks like a pineapple, so is called a pia.
  • The person who harvests the piña is called a jimador (HEE-ma-dor), which derives from the verb gemir, to groan with effort.
  •  
    THE TEQUILA

  • The nectar of the piña is called pulque (PULL-kay, photo #4). The Aztecs fermented the sap from the leaves of the maguey agave. It was drunk by people of rank during religious ceremonies.
  • Pulque remained popular until the late 19th century. Its sales declined in favor of beer, which was brewed by European immigrants.
  • The conquistadors, who arrived in 1519, taught the Aztecs how to distill agave into a spirit, now known as tequila.
  • There are four legally authorized expressions (categories) of tequila: blanco, reposado, añejo and extra añejo. Laws dictate the minimum and maximum aging period for each. Here are details.
  • For marketing purposes, some premium producers have created “hybrid” tequilas with new names, e.g., barrel select reserve blanco; or have created extra-extra aged tequila marketed which may be called, e.g. 5 years aged tequila, or El Magnifico. These are names bestowed by the distillery, not by law.
  • The longer it ages, the more flavors it develops and the darker it gets. Blancos, which are clear, can be aged for a few weeks for complexity, but so briefly that they don’t take on color.
  • The worm in the bottle (which is the larva of a moth) is not placed into tequila bottles, but into some mezcal bottles. These are cheaper, “tourist souvenir” mezcals, not quality brands.
  •  
    DRINKING TEQUILA

  • The taste of tequila comes partially from its aging time in white oak barrels, but also from the volcanic soil of the Jalisco region, which imparts a spicy, earthy quality.
  • The traditional way to drink tequila is from a tall, narrow shot glass called a caballito (photo #1), which means little horse. Another name for the glass is tequilito, little tequilashots.
  • When drinking shots, the wedge of lemon or lime provided is to refresh the palate between drinks.
  • FLore has it that tequila shots cause fewer hangovers than cocktails with sugar, but this isn’t so. The alcohol hangover is caused by the dehydration effect from the alcohol itself.
  •  
    TEQUILA SALES

  • Tequila was first imported to the U.S. in 1873. It remained a niche product until Mexican restaurants began to open up outside of California and the Southwest, in the 1960s.
  • The United States is the largest tequila consuming market (yes, even more than Mexico).
  • Almost half of the tequila is drunk by women (which may owe thanks to regular and frozen Margaritas).
  • The Margarita is the number one cocktail in the U.S., per The Spirits Business.
  •  
     
    OK, you’ve earned your drink. Happy National Tequila Day!

     
    RECIPE: TEQUILA-WATERMELON COCKTAIL

    If you are multiplying this recipe, consider pulsing the watermelon in a blender instead of muddling.

     
    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces blanco/silver tequila
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • 4 one-inch cubes fresh watermelon or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • Garnish: 3 watermelon balls on a pick or notched cucumber slice on the rim
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the watermelon and agave in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients and shake with ice.

    2. STRAIN into a martini glass and garnish as desired.
     
     
    MORE: TEQUILA COCKTAIL RECIPES, HISTORY &: MORE

  • Añejo Tequila With Dessert
  • Award-Winning Tamarind Margarita
  • Bandera Shots
  • Beyond Salt: Different Margarita Rimmers
  • Bloody Maria Cocktail Recipe
  • Caramel Apple Pie & Cherry Pie Cocktail Recipes
  • Cranberry Tequila Cocktail Recipe
  • Cucumber Tequila Recipe
  • Deconstructed Margarita
  • El Vocho Tequila Shooters
  • Flavored Tequila
  • Margarita History
  • Mercadito Coctail
  • More Tequila Cocktails
  • Non-Cocktail Ways To Use Tequila
  • Original, Frozen & Other Margarita Recipes
  • Passionfruit Tequila Cocktail Recipe
  • Pink Tequila Cocktai Recipes
  • September 16th: The Real Mexican Independence Day
  • Smokin’ Maria Recipe
  • Spicy Pineapple Cocktail
  • Spicy Tequila Cocktail Recipes
  • Spicy Watermelon Margarita
  • Sweet & Hot Tequila Cocktail
  • Tequila 101: The Five Expressions (Types) Of Tequila
  • Tequila & Cheese Tasting
  • Tequila Christmas Cocktail
  • Tequila Cupcakes
  • Tequila Hot Chocolate
  • Tequila Lemonade Recipe
  • Tequila Expressions
  • Tequila History
  • Tequila With Maple Bacon Rim Recipe
  • Watermelon Tequila Fizz
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