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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,
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Archive for Gourmet News

TIP OF THE DAY: Sipping Rum

Rum is a new world spirit, initially distilled by slaves on Caribbean sugar cane plantations. The distilled rum can be drunk in its clear state (white or blanco rum), or aged in oak barrels for various lengths of time, the process of which creates the different types of rum.

Why is one blanco (or añejo, etc.) better than another? If the aging time is the same among different rums, the quality factors include the type of the sugar, yeast, and still and aging barrel and how long the fermentation is, and the quality of the still.

Clear rum is mostly used for mixed drinks; among the more popular are the Daiquiri, Hurricane, Mojito, Piña Colada and Rum and Coke (Cuba Libre).

Light rum, also used for mixed drinks, is aged briefly or not at all. As with other grades of rum, the longer it is aged (Añejo, Extra Añejo, etc.) the more complex it becomes.

For National Rum Day, August 16th, here’s an explanation of how rum is made, courtesy of Cruzan Rum (there’s an infographic at the end of the page.

1) Molasses, a by-product of refining sugar from sugar cane, travels from the sugar plantation to the distillery. There it is diluted with water—often spring water from local aquifers.

2) Yeast cultures, often proprietary, are added to the molasses to start the fermentation. The yeast convert the sugars in the molasses to alcohol.

   

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Cruzan Single Barrel Rum, a fine sipping experience. Photo courtesy Cruzan.

 
3) The alcohol is distilled into a clear rum distillate. Light rum, also called clear, crystal, silver and white rum, is bottled immediately. rum which is then aged for a brief or extensive period.

4) Distilled rum to be aged goes into oak barrels, which are laid down in warehouses to age for a minimum of two years; some are aged for twelve years or more. As much as half the rum can be lost to evaporation, which is why, along with the cost of carrying the inventory, older rums are that much costlier.

 

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Dark rum on the rocks. Photo courtesy Baccardi.

  5) After barrel aging, the rum is charcoal filtered and diluted to 80 proof; it is then bottled.

See the infographic below.

SINGLE BARREL RUM

The finest rum for sipping is single barrel rum. If you’re looking for that ultimate experience, look for award-winning Cruzan Single Barrel Rum. It’s made from a proprietary blend of vintage rums that have been aged for up to 12 years,

The term “single barrel” refers to the process: After its initial aging, the rum is handpicked and blended before it is barreled for a second time in new American oak barrels. It is slowly aged again, bottled and individually numbered, one cask at a time.

The resulting spirit well-rounded, mellow and full-bodied, with a balance of caramel sweetness and oak from aging. The finish is smooth and buttery (the latter also from the oak.

Single barrel rum is best enjoyed sipped neat or on the rocks. Cruzan’s is just $29.99 per 750ml bottle.
 

 
HOW SINGLE BARREL RUM IS MADE

/home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/aged rum infographic cruzan 520

  

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FOOD HOLIDAY RECIPE: Creamsicle Cheesecake

August 14th is National Creamsicle Day. How about a “Creamsicle” Cheese Cake?

First, a bit of food history, and why we put the word Creamsicle within quotation marks:

The Popsicle® was invented by a 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry in the Great Depression. Frank Epperson made what he called Epsicles for a fireman’s ball.

They were a sensation, and Frank obtained a patent for ”a handled, frozen confection or ice lollipop.” His kids called the treat a Popsicle, after their Pop. So Frank created Popsicle Corporation, which developed the Creamsicle® and collaborated with the Loew Movie Company for the nationwide marketing and sales of the product in movie theaters.

Here’s the history of the Creamsicle. Today, Creamsicle® and Popsicle® are registered trademarks of the Unilever Corporation. Any company wishing to use the name for a product must get a license from Unilever.

We adapted this recipe from Krista of BudgetGourmetMom.com. Check out her other delicious recipes!

Krista recommends that you make the cheesecake a day in advance; but you can get by with a few hours of chilling.

   

orange-cream-cheesecake-230

Bake one or order this Orange Cream Cheesecake from Sweet Street Desserts.

 
Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time time is 40 minutes, plus a minimum of 3 hours for freezing/chilling.

RECIPE: “CREAMSICLE” CHEESECAKE

Ingredients
 
For The Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  •  
    For The Cheesecake

  • 2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/diet orange n cream stewarts 230

    Want Creamsicle flavor without the calories? We love Diet Orange ‘n Cream from Stewart’s, also available in regular (with sugar). If you can’t find it locally, order it from Amazon. Photo courtesy Stewart’s Restaurants.

     

    For The Orange Creamsicle Layer

  • 1 three-ounce box orange flavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 eight-ounce container of whipped topping such as Cool Whip
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F.

    2. COMBINE combine the butter, sugar and graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl. Stir until combined. Pat into a 9″ springform pan. Set aside.

    3. WHIP the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time; then beat in the sour cream.

    4. POUR the filling into the crust. Bake for 40 minutes. Turn of the oven and crack the oven door for 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled…

     
    5. MIX the “Creamsicle” layer by stirring the gelatin with the boiling water until it dissolves. Gently whisk in the whipped topping until it’s completely combined. Set the cheesecake on a plate or dish to catch any dripping, and pour the “Creamsicle” mixture over the cheesecake.

    6. PLACE in the freezer for an hour. Remove from the freezer and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve, at least two hours; but it is preferable to chill it overnight.

    7. TO SERVE: Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to separate the gelatin layer from the side. Unhinge the pan and gently lift the bottom from the cheesecake.

     
    FOOD TRIVIA: THE CHEESECAKE IS A PIE!

    A cheesecake is not a cake, but an open face custard pie. Unlike a cake, there is no raised layer made with flour.

    Rather, like a pie, it has a bottom crust into which a filling (a cheese custard) is poured and baked.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Summer Caprese Salad With Flowers

    We saw this photo on GourmetAttitude.com and thought: We must make this!

    It’s a miniaturized Caprese Salad, with these substitutions:

  • Bite-size mozzarella balls instead of sliced mozzarella
  • Cherry and/or grape tomatoes instead of sliced beefsteak tomatoes
  • Baby basil leaves instead of large leaves
  • A garnish of edible, summery flowers
  •  
    It’s a beautiful summer salad; and since good cherry tomatoes can be found year-round, it’s also a treat for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

    For more food fun, you can serve the salad in individual Martini glasses.

    RECIPE: SUMMER SALAD WITH FLOWERS

    Ingredients

  • Bocconcini, bite-size mozzarella balls, or the tinier pearl-size perlini
  • Cherry tomatoes, ideally heirloom in an array of colors
  •  

    cherry-tomato-mozz-flower-salad-gourmetattitude-230

    We call this salad “Flower Power.” Photo courtesy GourmetAttitude.com.

  • Optional: yellow grape tomatoes for contrast
  • Small basil leaves (if you can’t find any, make a chiffonade of regular leaves)
  • Edible flowers (more information)
  • Good olive oil (infused olive oil—basil, rosemary, etc.—is great)
  • Vinegar, lemon or lime juice (we like balsamic, but anything works)
  •  

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    Cacio di Roma. Photo courtesy Cheese Of The Month Club.

     

    Preparation

    You can dress the salad in oil and vinegar, allow guests to pour their own from cruets, or drizzle olive oil and vinegar on the plate before adding the salad, and allow guests to “swoosh” the tomatoes in it.

    1. TOSS the tomatoes with a small amount of salt. Combine in a mixing bowl with the drained bocconcini and herbs.

    2. SERVE on a platter or shallow glass bowl or on individual plates.
     
    WHAT IS CACIO CHEESE?

    Formally called Cacio de Roma, cacio is a semi-soft Italian cheese originally made in the countryside outside of Rome from sheep’s milk. Cacio simply means cheese in some dialects (formaggio is the word used universally in Italy).

     
    The cheese—not readily found in the U.S.—is made in small rounds called caciotta and aged for about one month. It is a classic sheep’s milk cheese. Like mozzarella, made from the milk of cows or water buffalo, it melts very well for cooking and is enjoyed as a snack, with pasta, pizza and salad.
     
    SOME CAPRESE SALAD HISTORY

    Like most recipes, Caprese salad has evolved.

    The original name originated on the island of Capri, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy. The island has been a resort since Roman Times.

    But Caprese Salad is a more modern invention, dating (by name, anyway) to the early 20th century. The original salad was made with four ingredients: cacio cheese, beefsteak-type tomatoes called cuore di bue (steer’s heart), whole basil leaves and olive oil.

    Later, possibly after World War II when American tourists ventured to Capri (it was a Jet Set favorite), sliced mozzarella (fior di latte or bufala) replaced cacio and the recipe spread throughout Italy and overseas with the tourists who loved it.

    In classic style, slices of mozzarella and tomatoes plus the basil leaves were overlapped on a plate, drizzled with olive oil.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Carpaccio For National Filet Mignon Day

    For National Filet Mignon Day you have two easy choices: cook it or enjoy it uncooked (yes, raw).

    The easiest ways to serve cooked filet mignon:

  • Whole, plated with vegetables and potatoes
  • Steak sandwich, on a toasted baguette with caramelized onions, or with lettuce and horseradish mayo (blend prepared horseradish into mayonnaise, to taste)
  • Steak salad, sliced and placed atop a bed of greens with blue cheese dressing; substituted for tuna in a Nicoise Salad; or substituted for ham in a Cobb Salad
  •  
    The easiest ways to serve raw filet mignon:

  • Sliced into carpaccio
  • Ground into steak tartare
  •  
    Carpaccio is the absolute easiest.
     
    WHAT IS CARPACCIO?

    Carpaccio is the Italian term for raw beef filet (crudo is the term for raw seafood). Typically made from sirloin, the dish was created in Venice in 1963, at the time of an exhibition dedicated to Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio (1465-1526).

       

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    A traditional carpaccio with basil-infused olive oil. Photo courtesy Atlantic Paradise Hotel | NYC.

     
    The carpaccio dish was based on the Piedmont speciality, carne cruda all’albese, created by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. Using fine Piedmontese beef (Piemontese in Italian), he originally prepared it for a countess whose doctors had recommended that she eat raw meat. [Source]

    It is a very popular first course.
     
    RECIPE: BEEF CARPACCIO

    To make carpaccio, buy freshly-cut filet mignon or sirloin from the butcher.

    Ingredients

  • Filet mignon or sirloin
  • Fine olive oil (infused oil, such as basil or rosemary, is great)
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese or white truffles
  • Baby arugula (or baby spinach if you prefer)
  • Optional: sliced onions
  • Toasted baguette on the side
  • Optional: lemon wedges
  • Dishes of flake salt (Cyprus, Maldon, Smoked—substitute coarse sea salt) and cracked pepper
  •  
    Ingredients

    1. PLACE the beef in the freezer for 30 minutes (longer if needed) to firm it and make it easier to slice thin. Using your sharpest knife, slice thin pieces. Arrange on individual plates or a platter. You can create a “sunburst” or “wheel spoke” or parallel slices, depending on the plate or platter.

    2. DRIZZLE olive oil over the top of the beef or around the rim of the plate. If using onions (not part of the original recipe), scatter over the beef, along with the shaved Parmesan. Lastly, top with the arugula.

    3. SERVE with optional lemon wedges and pass dishes of salt and pepper (or go the conventional route, with salt and pepper shakers).

     

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    Filet mignon. To make carpaccio, freeze it for 30 minutes to make it easy to slice thin pieces. Photo courtesy Mackenzie Ltd.

     

    FILET MIGNON TRIVIA

  • Filet mignon is the most tender cut of beef. It is cut from the tenderloin, a muscle in the middle of the back between the sirloin and the ribs. Because the muscle is not weight-bearing, it contains less connective tissue. This is why it’s the most tender.
  • The name is French for “tender fillet” or “dainty fillet.” Fillet, pronounced FILL-it, is the English spelling of filet. Americans use the French spelling and pronunciation, fee-LAY min-YONE.
  • Filet mignon is the most expensive cut of beef. That’s not only because it’s so desirable for its tenderness, but because the tenderloin is very small.
  • The tenderloin weighs an average of five to seven pounds. It is not an even width; it tapers on both ends, so filets mignon can only be cut from the center. The center cut of a 5-1/2 pound tenderloin is just 2 pounds or so.
  • The entire center cut can be roasted whole—the dish known as Chateaubriand. For even more tenderness, you can poach the center cut. It’s our favorite dish for entertaining—very easy, requiring no time to check on it as it cooks. We’ll publish the recipe in a future tip.
  • The tenderloin is generally not as flavorful (“beefy”) as other premium cuts of beef (e.g., the rib eye or the strip steak). That’s why it is sometimes wrapped in bacon or served with a sauce.
  • Tournedos are small round pieces of beef cut from the tail and head of the tenderloin, often cooked with bacon.
  • The pieces that are too small to use as steak are often cut into 1-inch pieces for a Beef Stroganoff or other dishes. You can use them in a steak salad.
  •  
    SOME OTHER NAMES FOR FILET MIGNON

  • Dutch: ossenhaas
  • English (U.S.): medallions, tenderloin steak
  • English (UK, Ireland): fillet steak
  • English (Australia, New Zealand): eye fillet
  • French: filet de bœuf (the entire center-cut tenderloin is the dish known as Chateaubriand)
  • French (Québec): filet mignon
  • Italian: filetto
  • Norwegian: indrefilet
  • Portuguese: filé or filé mignon
  • Spanish: filete miñón or filet mignon
  • Swedish: oxfilé
  •  
    Source
      

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    FOOD FUN: Rainbow Ice Pops

    rainbow-popsicles-theviewfromgreatisland-230sq

    Eat the rainbow! Photo courtesy Sue | The View From Great Island.

     

    We were charmed by these homemade ice pops from blogger Sue of The View From Great Island (the island town of New Castle, New Hampshire).

    She puréed blueberries, kiwis, mango, pineapple, strawberries and watermelon to make rainbow pops.

    When you make your own, you may choose to follow the colors of the rainbow in order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Here are some fruit choices:

  • Red (cherry, grape, plum, raspberry, strawberry, watermelon)
  • Orange (apricot, cantaloupe, mango, orange, papaya)
  • Yellow (cherry [Queen Anne, Rainier], golden kiwi*, golden raspberry, nectarine, peache, yellow plum
  • Green (avocado, grape, honeydew, kiwi*)
  • Blue (since there are no naturally blue foods, you can skip this layer or purée white fruits—apple, banana, coconut, pear, white peach—and tint them with food color)
  • Indigo (blueberries)
  • Violet (blackberries, black grapes)
  • Preparation

    You’ll need ice pop molds. Most wide pop molds make only 6 pops. We found one that makes 10 ice pops for not much more money ($18.80 plus free shipping). For all the work you’ll put to make rainbow pops, make as many as you can, whether it’s buying two 10-pop molds or borrowing extra molds from friends.

    1. PURÉE the individual fruits and chill them. Make the darkest layer (violet) first, and work your way up to red at the top. NOTE: When you’re making separate colored layers, it’s important to freeze each layer until set so the layers won’t bleed into each other.

    2. TO REMOVE: Set the mold halfway deep in warm water for 30 seconds, or until the pops begin to release. If you want to remove only a few pops, wrap those individual molds in a kitchen towel dampened with hot water.
     
    *We recommend straining the seeds, which tend to create a “polka dot layer.”

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: S’mores Cone, S’mores Dip & More Creative Recipes

    For National S’mores Day, August 10th, Reynolds Kitchens has developed two grill approaches that use aluminum foil instead of the original twig over a fire. You can also make them indoors on the stove top.

    The recipes evolve S’mores graham cracker sandwiches into two fun variations: s’mores cones and skillet s’mores.

    Use your favorite chocolate, milk or dark. We use Guittard or Valrhona wafers or chop up Lindt bars; but you can use chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.

    Below, we have links to the history of S’mores and graham crackers, and many more creative S’mores recipes, from S’mores ice cream cake and cupcakes to cinnamon S’mores with a cappuccino cocktail.

    RECIPE: S’MORES WAFFLE CONES

    Ingredients

  • Chocolate
  • Marshmallows (large or mini)
  • Graham crackers, broken into pieces
  •    

    smores-cone-reynolds-230

    S’mores cone. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchen.

  • Cones (use the smaller sugar cones instead of the larger waffle cones)
  • Aluminum foil
  •  

    Preparation

    1. STUFF the chocolate, marshmallows and graham cracker pieces into the cones, alternating to distribute the flavors.

    2. WRAP in foil and heat the packet over a campfire or grill for 3-5 minutes.

    3. REMOVE the packet carefully and allow it a few minutes to cool before unwrapping and eating.

     

    smores-skillet-fondue-reynolds-230sq

    S’mores dip. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchen.

     

    RECIPE: SKILLET S’MORES

    Ingredients

  • Chocolate chunks (you can break up chocolate bars)
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham crackers
  • Aluminum foil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate chunks in a skillet. Top with the marshmallows and place over the campfire or grill until melted.

    2. REMOVE from the heat, ideally with a skillet handle pot holder.

    3. DIP the graham crackers into the skillet s’mores.. Warn people to avoid touching the skillet!

     

    MORE S’MORES RECIPES

  • S’mores History
  • Graham Cracker History
  • Cinnamon S’mores with a Cappuccino Cocktail
  • Creative S’mores Recipes
  • Gourmet Marshmallow S’mores
  • Ice Cream S’mores
  • S’mores Ice Cream Cake, Ice Cream Pie and Cupcakes
  • S’mores in a Cup
  • S’mores with Other Types Of Cookies
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Watermelon “Keg” Tap With Watermelon Agua Fresca

    A melon tap turns any large, seedless watermelon into an punch bowl, ideal for filling with watermelon-based beverages. Simply hollow out the melon, insert the tap and fill it with your beverage of choice. In addition to a refreshing drink, you give guests the fun of dispensing their drinks from a watermelon. (In the fall, you can do the same with a pumpkin.)

    For starters, fill your watermelon “punch bowl” with watermelon agua fresca. It’s a memorable finale to the summer.

    Agua fresca is Spanish for “fresh water.” In culinary terms, it refers to sweetened, fruit-flavored water. Like lemonade, it is noncarbonated and nonalcoholic.

    But you can keep a bottle of spirits next to the melon dispenser for guests who’d like a shot or two. May we suggest watermelon vodka? You can find watermelon-flavored vodka from Smirnoff, Three Olives, Pinnacle (Cucumber Watermelon), UV (Salty Watermelon) and others.

    The tap in the photo is the PROfreshionals Melon Tap, $9.99. It includes “feet” that insert into the bottom of the melon to keep it stable. Another variation, from Final Touch, is designed to look like a beer tap handle. It’s $19.99.

     

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    Turn a watermelon into a punch bowl. Photo of PROfessionals Melon Tap courtesy GoodCook.com.

     
    This agua fresca recipe was created by Cheeky Kitchen for Good Cook. Of course, you can also serve the drink from a standard pitcher.

    RECIPE: WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA

    Ingredients For 8-12 Drinks

  • 6 pounds seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave or honey
  • Fresh mint for garnish
  • Optional: gin, tequila, vodka
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SLICE and discard a 2” piece from the top of a large, seedless watermelon. Carve out the red melon flesh from the inside of the watermelon and cut into large cubes (they can be as free-form as you like, as they’ll soon be puréed). Place in a large bowl and set aside.

    2. PREPARE the melon for serving by ensuring it can stand upright. Slice a small portion from the bottom of the melon to make it more stable. Place the tap about 3 inches from the bottom of the melon and push it through the rind to the inside. Set aside.

    3. PURÉE the watermelon flesh and all other ingredients in a blender in small batches, as needed. Pour the beverage into the prepared watermelon. Press the melon tap to dispense the drink into large glasses filled with ice.
     
    MORE AGUA FRESCA RECIPES

  • Agua Fresca recipes: horchata (creamy almond), lychee, mango and pineapple
  • Apple-Cucumber-Lime Agua Fresca Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: S’mores Baked Alaska

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/smores baked alaska atwoodrestaurantnyc 230

    S’mores Baked Alaska. Chef Brian molds the
    ice cream on top of the cake layer before
    covering the ice cream with Marshmallow
    Fluff. We took an easier path, creating a
    layered ice cream cake and covering the
    Hotels.

     

    For National S’mores Day on August 10th, here’s a brand new take on the classic, gooey chocolate bar, marshmallow and graham cracker cookie sandwich.

    Chef Brian Millman at Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room in New York City has created S’mores Baked Alaska, a twist on the American classic of ice cream cake*, shrouded in freshly-whipped meringue and then browned under a broiler or with a kitchen torch.

    WHY YOU CAN BAKE ICE CREAM WITHOUT MELTING IT

    The beaten egg whites in the meringue protect the ice cream from melting because beating unfolds the protein molecules. This causes air bubbles to be trapped in the unfolded proteins. This foam acts as an insulating layer around the ice cream and protects it [for a brief time] from the heat.

    This dynamic was discovered by a prominent physicist, Benjamin Thompson, at the beginning of the 19th century. Here’s the history of Baked Alaska.

     
    WHY YOU CAN BAKE ICE CREAM WITHOUT MELTING IT

    The beaten egg whites in the meringue protect the ice cream from melting because beating unfolds the protein molecules and causes air bubbles to be trapped in the unfolded proteins. This foam acts as an insulating layer around the ice cream and protects it from the heat.

    This was discovered by a prominent physicist, Benjamin Thompson, at the beginning of the 19th century. Here’s the history of Baked Alaska.
     
    Meringue has similar ingredients to marshmallow, which is why marshmallow cream also works.

  • Meringue ingredients: egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar
  • Marshmallow Fluff ingredients: egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, water, salt and vanilla extract
  •  

    READY TO MAKE YOUR OWN BAKED ALASKA?

    Chef Brian makes these substitutions to turn S’mores into Baked Alaska:

  • Chocolate cake and chocolate sauce instead of the S’mores chocolate bar
  • Marshmallow Fluff instead of the S’mores marshmallows and meringue
  • Graham cracker marshmallow ice cream and graham cracker crumbs instead of the whole graham crackers (Chef Brian makes his own marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream; but you can make hack a variation from a quart of vanilla, some mini marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs)
  •  
    He also adds a pinch of flake sea salt (Cyprus Flake Sea Salt and Maldon Flake Salt flake salts are typically available at specialty food stores or fine supermarkets).

    You can use your broiler to brûlée the Fluff; but if you have one, use a kitchen torch instead. With a torch:

  • You can evenly brown the entire surface. Under a broiler, when the top is perfectly browned, the sides will be much lighter.
  • You don’t have to check the broiler to see how the browning is going. A delicate process, it can turn from done to overdone in seconds. The torch gives you control.
  •  

    RECIPE: S’MORES BAKED ALASKA

    Here’s how we adapted Chef Brian’s concept to make our own version of S’mores Baked Alaska:

    You can bake the cake or buy a chocolate loaf cake (or any unfrosted chocolate cake). You can make the marshmallow ice cream from scratch (here’s a recipe—add the graham cracker crumbs), or buy ice cream and mix in the crumbled graham crackers.

    Ingredients

  • 1 chocolate cake: loaf, sheet or uniced layers
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream plus mini marshmallows, store-bought marshmallow ice cream* or homemade marshmallow ice cream
  • Graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs‡
  • 1 marshmallow fluff tub (16 ounces) Marshmallow Fluff or other marshmallow cream
  • Garnish: graham cracker crumbs
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/mini marshmallows debakery.weebly.com 230

    Add mini marshmallows to softened ice cream to make “quickie” marshmallow ice cream. Photo courtesy DeBakery.Weebly.com.

  • Optional garnishes: chocolate sauce, coarse sea salt or flake salt (like Maldon—see the different types of salt)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE “quick” marshmallow-graham cracker ice cream: Soften the quart of vanilla ice cream on the counter. While the ice cream softens, crumble the whole graham crackers between sheets of wax paper, using a rolling pin. When the ice cream is soft enough to stir, use a spatula to scoop it into a mixing bowl; add the crumbs and stir to combine. Then add the marshmallows and stir. Place the ice cream back into the container. The lid will no longer fit, so cover the top with plastic wrap.

    2. ASSEMBLE the ice cream cake. Create a middle layer of ice cream. For a loaf cake, cut in half horizontally; for a sheet cake, cut two “layers.” Wrap in plastic and place in the freezer. When ready to serve…

    3. PLACE the ice cream cake on a heat-proof (or sturdy) serving plate and use a spatula to cover the sides and top with Marshmallow Fluff. Use the torch to brûlée, on all sides. If the plate isn’t heat-proof, steer clear of the lower part of the cake.

    4. BRING to the table. Dip the knife in warm water to cut. Sprinkle the edges of each dessert plate with graham cracker crumbs and place the sliced cake on top. Pass the optional chocolate sauce and sea salt so guests can customize their portions.

     
    *Baked Alaska is typically made with a thin cake layer on the bottom, and two or more different flavors of ice cream on top. When we created our version of S’mores Baked Alaska, it was easier for us to use thicker layers of cake, for a 50:50 proportion of ice cream to cake. You can construct your Baked Alaska in the proportion you wish.

    †Chocolate Marshmallow ice cream from Turkey Hill, S’mores from Ben & Jerry’s, Schwan’s Chocolate Ripple and others have a base of chocolate ice cream. We prefer a vanilla base, so we made our own.

    ‡We crumbled our own when we could have purchased crumbs. The reason: We preferred the texture of the larger home-crumbled pieces of graham crackers in the ice cream. The purchased crumbs, however, are fine.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Lucky Charms-Type Marshmallows

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    You can have your own stash of Lucky Charms-type colored mini-marshmallows. Photo courtesy Sweet Gourmet.

     

    If you got hooked on Lucky Charms cereal, you’re in luck once again: You can buy the dehydrated marshmallows to add to any cereal you like—or any other use.

    We came across these dehydrated marshmallows made by Kraft Foods (Lucky Charms are made by General Mills). They’re regular marshmallow rectangles—not the green clovers, pink hearts, purple horseshoes, tri-color rainbows, orange stars and other Lucky Charms shapes.

    Here’s a fun fact: In October 2012, Lucky Charms posted its best sales volume ever. The company attributed this success to their change in strategy: marketing to adults as well as to children. [Source]

    Add the dehydrated mini marshmallows:

  • To baked goods
  • On cereal
  • As a dessert garnish
  • Atop hot chocolate or warm milk or coffee
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    They’re sold in bag of 6 ounces, 1, 2 and 3 pounds. Get yours at Amazon.com.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Oyster Shells

    In this era of recycling consciousness, it’s important to re-use something at least one more time before it ends up in the trash. There are suggestions galore, from re-using plastic dry cleaning bags to wrap clothes for wrinkle-free traveling, to filling empty drink bottles with water for in-home or grab-and-go use.

    Even if something must ultimately end up in a landfill, it’s surprising how many different items destined for the garbage can be re-purposed at least once.

    We were feasting upon a mammoth plateau de mer* at a local bistro, wondering if we should ask to take the empty lobster and shrimp shells home to make stock. Then it struck us: If the larger scallop shells have long been used to serve Coquilles St. Jacques and other foods, we could find uses for the cast-off oyster shells. The solution was easy: Use them as replacements for appetizer spoons (also called amuse-bouche spoons or tasting spoons, and a popular way to serve at cocktail bites).

    You can wash and refill the oyster shells ad infinitum; you can use scores of them at parties; and if you collect too many, you can give sets to your friends.

    As we munched our way through the platter of seafood, we thought of the visual fun of using those half-shells to serve something other than oysters. Here’s our preliminary list, especially appropriate since today, August 5th, is National Oyster Day:

  • Fill with salmon, scallop or tuna tartare
  • Ceviche “shooters”
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    tuna-tartare-oyster-shell-jamesbeard-230

    What would you serve in an oyster shell—besides oysters, of course?James Beard Foundation. This dish was created by chef Kyle Koenig of Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, New York.

  • Add a fried oyster, topped with tartar sauce, horseradish cream or spicy mayo, garnished with chopped chives
  • Serve anything topped with tobiko, from a hard-boiled quail egg to grilled cauliflower florets
  • The natural: Oysters Rockefeller or “Scallops Rockefeller,” substituting scallops for the oysters
  • As a “spoon” for smoky whitefish salad, chopped herring salad or any salad
  • Use for non-seafood purposes, such as stuffed mushrooms (you can serve the mushrooms chopped instead of filling the caps)
  • Use for anything you would serve in an appetizer spoon (this is often a repurposed ceramic Chinese soup spoon)
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    *French for “plate of seafood,” a plateau de mer, or plateau de fruits de mer, is a seafood appetizer that consists of raw mollusks (clam, oyster, periwinkle, scallop) and cooked shellfish (crab, lobster, prawn, shrimp). The seafood is served cold on a platter, on a bed of ice. At restaurants, depending on the size ordered, the platter can be two or three tiers high and plated in silver for a grand presentation.

     

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    Why purchase tasting spoons when you can repurpose oyster shells to do the same thing? These spoons are from Libbey.

     

    NON-CULINARY USES FOR OYSTER SHELLS

    We traveled the Web to see how others were using empty oyster shells. Here’s what we found:

  • Crafts. Turn the shells into craft projects.
  • Gardening. Crush and mix them into your garden soil. The shell is 95% calcium carbonate and provides a slow release of calcium that de-acidifies and helps balance soil pH, loosen clay and improve drainage. That’s good news for tomato and other vegetable gardens.
  • Gardening. Similarly, use crushed shells in container gardening; the coarse texture of the crushed shells promotes drainage. Sprinkle them in the bottom of planting holes for vegetables and bulbs. Be sure to use crushed shells, not commercial oyster shell flour, for an even release of calcium throughout the growing season.
  • Gardens. Save enough shells to create a garden path. Oyster shell paths are a recycling effort that originated in Colonial times: If you’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg, you’ve seen them. They’re a charming alternative to gravel, and can also be used as a cover material for patios, courtyards and driveways.
  • Aquaculture. If you live near salt water, or are headed there, toss the dried oyster shells back into the sea. Young oysters will attach themselves to the empty shells, helping to propagate more oysters. The person who contributed this dip dumps the shells near her dock to create a mini oyster reef. “It creates a habitat for crabs, for which we have crab-pots (YUM!).”
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    If you have other ideas, let us know!

      

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