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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Gourmet News

RECIPE: Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

cinnamon-crescent-tasteofhome-230-ps

Make warm and fragrant cinnamon crescents
for breakfast or brunch. Photo courtesy Taste
Of Home.

 

Today is National Cinnamon Crescent Day.

Crescent is the English word for croissant, the buttery, crescent-shaped laminated dough breakfast roll (there’s more about croissants below). Make your own with this recipe from Taste Of Home.

RECIPE: CINNAMON CRESCENTS (CROISSANTS)

Ingredients For 4 Dozen Small Rolls

  • 6-1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 egg yolks
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened, divided
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

    2. HEAT the butter, milk, shortening and water to 120°-130° in a large saucepan. Add to the dry ingredients and beat just until moistened. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (the dough will be sticky).

    3. TURN the dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

    4. COMBINE the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

    5. PUNCH the risen dough down. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface; knead about six times.

    6. DIVIDE the dough into four portions. Roll out one portion into a 12-inch circle; spread with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar. Cut into 12 wedges.

    7. ROLL up each wedge from the wide end and place it point side down, three inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Curve the ends to form crescents. Repeat with remaining dough, butter and cinnamon-sugar. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven.

     

    cinnamon-BenFink-SuvirSaran-230

    One of the three different types of cinnamon. Photo by Ben Fink from Indian Home Cooking
    by Suvir Saran.

     

    8. BAKE at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Make the glaze: Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla; drizzle over warm rolls. Combine the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the rolls.

     
    WHAT IS A CROISSANT?

    Meaning “crescent” and pronounced kwah-SAWN in French, this rich, buttery, crescent-shaped roll is made of puff pastry that layers yeast dough with butter—a technique known as laminating.

    Traditionally a breakfast bread served with jam and butter, two classic variations include the almond croissant, filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with sliced almonds, and the “chocolate croissant,” correctly called pain au chocolat, baked with a piece of dark chocolate in the center.

    In the early 1970s, croissants became sandwich substitutes as they evolved from their two traditional fillings, chocolate and almond paste, into many savory variations, from broccoli to ham and cheese, as well as additional sweet varieties.

    There’s also the Bavarian croissant or pretzel croissant, made of a pretzel-like dough that combines bread flour and whole wheat flour with salt sprinkled on the top, like a pretzel. Some are made of puff pastry, others of a soft pretzel-type dough in a triangle wrap, like a croissant.

     
    The Real History Of Croissants

    Stories of the croissant being made in the shape of the crescent of the Turkish flag, after the defeat of the Turks in the Siege of Vienna in 1683, are a perpetuated myth. Recipes for croissants do not appear in recipe books until the early 1900s, according to the Oxford Companion To Food. The earliest French reference is in 1853.

    The croissant is descendant of the Austrian kipfel, a yeast roll usually filled with chopped walnuts, dried or candied fruit, or other filling, and shaped like a crescent. It arrived in Paris in 1938 or 1939 with August Zang, an Austrian military officer. He opened a bakery, Boulangerie Viennoise, and introduced Viennese techniques which would one day lead to the baguette and the croissant. The crescent-shaped kipfel was ultimately made with puff pastry by French bakers.

    You can read this history in Jim Chevallier’s book, August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoisserie* Came To France (Kindle edition).
     
    *Viennoiserie are buttery, flaky breakfast breads and pastries made with laminated dough, a technique of layering and folding a yeast dough to create brioche, croissants, danish, pain au chocolat and other so-called “Viennoiserie.” It is a marriage between traditional bread baking and sweet pastry baking. The technique of lamination produces many buttery layers that can be pulled apart to reveal thin leaves within. You can see the striations, or layers, of pastry when you look at the top of the Viennoiserie or when you cut into them. This technique is time-consuming and expensive (because of the amount of butter needed).

      

    Comments

    [OLD] NEWS: The 10 Greatest Japanese Inventions Of The 20th Century

    ramen noodles raised on chopsticks

    Ramen: voted the greatest Japanese
    invention of the 20th century. Photo ©
    Olga Nayashkova | Fotolia.

     

    It may be old news, but we just came across an old Japanese survey that names instant ramen as “the greatest invention of the 20th century.”

    We would have passed it by, but for the the fact that Nation’s Restaurant News recently published an article about how ramen was trending among chefs in U.S. restaurants—albet the original ramen, not the instant noodles (see “The History Of Ramen,” below).

    In 2000, Fuji Research Institute, a financial research firm in Tokyo, asked 2,000 adults in the region to rate the greatest Japanese inventions of the 20th century.

    They were given three categories: manufactured goods, culture and technology.

    Japan is known for its technological innovation. So most people were surprised that ramen, instant noodles, was voted the best invention of the 20th century.

    Created in 1958, instant ramen went into commercial production in 1971. Worldwide, almost 50 billion cups are now consumed each year.

     
    THE TOP 10 JAPANESE INVENTIONS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

  • No. 1: Instant ramen
  • No. 2: Karaoke
  • No. 3: Headphone stereo sets
  • No. 4: TV video games
  • No. 5: CDs
  • No. 6: Cameras (which were not invented in Japan—see footnote*)
  • No. 7: Filmmaker Akira Kurosawa (editor’s protest: a person is not an invention)
  • No. 8: Pokemon
  • No. 9: Automobile-related technology
  • No. 10: Sushi (however, it should be noted that sushi was actually invented in the 19th century)
  •  
    While the Fuji Institute’s survey may not have been the most scientific, it does show one thing: Even in a country famous for its technology, food rules.
     

    *The first camera, called the camera obscura, dates back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks. It projected an image on to a surface but did not create a permanent image. The first photographed camera image was made around 1816 in France by Nicéphore Niépce. In 1837 his partner, Louis Daguerre, created the first practical photographic process, the daguerreotype, using silver-plated copper plates. Commercially introduced in 1839, the date considered as the birth year of practical photography. It was replaced by easier processes in 1860, including paper-based negatives and much shorter exposure times. The use of photographic film was pioneered by George Eastman, who started manufacturing paper film in 1885 before switching to celluloid in 1889. His first camera, the Kodak, was first offered for sale in 1888.

     

    THE HISTORY OF RAMEN

    Ramen are Japanese wheat noodles. While they are known to Americans largely as salty, inexpensive packaged noodle soup mixes, in Japan there are as many varieties of noodle and recipes as there are prefectures, ramen dishes are fine cuisine and innovation is the name of the game, where recipes are closely-guarded secrets.

    The concept of a dish of noodles in meat broth—chicken or pork—originated in China. It differs from native Japanese noodle soup dishes, in that until ramen appeared, Japanese broth was based on either made from vegetables or seafood.

    The type of noodles and toppings used in ramen also came from China. It is believed that “ramen” is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese word “lamian,” meaning “hand-pulled noodles” (as opposed to noodles that are sliced with a knife).

    While some ramen dishes began to appear in Japan in the late 1600s, they didn’t become widespread until the Meiji Era (1868 through 1912), when Japan moved from being an isolated feudal society to a modern nation.

     

    top-ramen-pkg-nissinfoods-230

    Top Ramen, the brand invented by Momufuku Ando of Nissin Foods. Photo courtesy Nissin Foods.

     
    Foreign relations and the introduction of meat-based American and European cuisines led to increased production of meat, and played a large role in the growing popularity of ramen. Almost every locality or prefecture in Japan created its own variation of the dish, served at restaurants.

    The growth of ramen dishes continued after World War II, but was still a special occasion that required going out.
     
    Soup recipes and methods of preparation are closely-guarded secrets in many restaurants. Beyond regional variations, innovative Japanese chefs continue to push the boundaries of ramen cuisine. Curry ramen, invented in the Hokkaido region, became a national favorite, as has ramen based on the Chinese dish of shrimp in chili sauce. Non-Japanese ingredients such as black pepper and butter have found their way into recipes.

    Here’s a recipe for homemade pork ramen soup.

    Check out this article, which details the different type of ramen by region.
     
    THE INVENTION OF INSTANT RAMEN

    In 1958, instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando, founder and chairman of Nissin Foods. Named the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century in a Japanese poll, instant ramen allowed anyone to make this dish simply by adding boiling water. Exported, these ramen soup packages soon became a pop culture sensation across the globe.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: A Scotch & Chocolate Tasting For National Tartan Day

    It’s National Tartan Day, which recognizes Scottish-Americans’ contributions to America.

    Tartan, familiar in Scottish kilts, is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. Originally woven wool, it is now made in many other materials, and can even be found as wallpaper.

    Nineteen of the 56 delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence came to America from Scotland or were Ulster Scots, who had been living in Ireland. Others, like Thomas Jefferson, had Scottish ancestors.

    Today, more than 11 million Americans claim Scottish and Scotch-Irish roots, making them the eighth largest ethnic group in the U.S.

    You don’t have to be of Scottish ancestry to celebrate. Our family celebrated every holiday that involved food), a tip for food-loving families.

    You can celebrate with traditional Scottish foods like haggis, Scottish pie (filled with ground mutton), smoked salmon or tatties (mashed potatoes) and herring.

    Or you can kick back at the end of the day with a glass of Scotch, or a Scotch cocktail.

       

    chocolate-scotch-LaszloRakoskerti IST. 230

    Chocolate with Scotch? Absolutely! Photo by László Rákoskerti | IST.

     
    Among the many options, you can replace the vodka in a Bloody Mary with Scotch, creating a Highland Mary a.k.a. Bloody Scotsman.

    But we suggest a Scotch and chocolate tasting.

     

    kendallbrook-mackenzie-230

    Not into Scotch and chocolate? Celebrate National Tartan Day with an appetizer of Scottish smoked salmon. We like ours with a sprinkling of capers, some snipped fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon or lime. The onions are also welcome. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

     

    SCOTCH & CHOCOLATE TASTING PARTY

    Paiing chocolates with wine and spirits is even more enjoyable than drinking the Scotch—or eating the chocolates—by themselves. If you haven’t already seen our wine, spirits and chocolate pairing guide, take a look.

    While we like Scotch from all over Scotland—the flavors vary substantially due to the local water and microclimate—it’s easiest to pair chocolates that have flavor notes similar to the Scotch, for example, smoky, peaty Laphroaig single malt Scotch, paired with single-origin chocolates that have smoky notes.

    Here’s what you need to know to have your own party.

    Here’s some tartan trivia from Laphroaig & Wikipedia to share at your festivity:

  • Tartan is often called plaid in North America, but in Scotland, a plaid is a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder as a kilt accessory, or a plain ordinary blanket such as one would have on a bed.
  • The best-known tartan patterns are the Black Watch and Royal Stewart.
  • Until the mid-19th century, tartan designs were associated with regions or districts, rather than any specific Scottish clan.
  • Tartan became popular throughout the English-speaking world after Queen Victoria expressed her fondness for all things Scottish.
  • The world’s first color photograph was of a tartan ribbon.
  • The English word tartan derives from the French tiretain, from the verb tirer which references woven cloth, as opposed to knitted cloth.
  • The word plaid derives from the Scottish Gaelic plaide, meaning blanket. The word was first used to describe any rectangular garment, including tartan. In time, plaid was used to describe blankets themselves.
  • A belted plaid is a blanket-like piece of fabric that is wrapped around the body with the material loosely gathered and secured at the waist by a belt. A portion of the fabric is wrapped up around the upper body and a portion hangs down to the knees (see it here).
  • The belted plaid was a standard item of men’s Highland dress from the late 16th century until the middle of the 18th century, when it began to evolve into the modern tailored kilt.
  •   

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    EASTER: Bunny Sushi

    Kudos to the chef at Sushi Lounge (three locations in New Jersey) who created this Easter treat. (Based on their Facebook photos, there’s more than one creative chef behind the bar.)

    You can recreate it at home, with

  • A strip of nori (dried seaweed)
  • Sushi rice* or regular rice
  • Hard-boiled eggs for the head and arm
  • Tamago (omelet) for the pillow and blanket
  • Carrot flowers† for the blanket design and the nose
  • Celery or fennel for the ears
  • Bits of black olive for the eyes and mouth
  •  
    Whatever you’re eating on Easter, we wish you a joyous holiday.

     

    easter-bunny-sushi-sushiloungeNJ-230

    The Easter Bunny, tucking in after a long day. Photo courtesy Sushi Lounge | NJ.

     
     
     
    *Sushi rice is seasoned with rice vinegar. Here’s how to make it.

    †Make them with stainless steel vegetable cutters, that can also be used to cut vegetables, cake, bread croutons, etc.

      

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    TIP: Easy, Last Minute Easter Cake

    carrot-cake-blackjetbakingco-goodeggsSF-230

    Our inspiration was this Easter cake from
    Black Jet Baking Co., a small San Francisco
    baking company committed to making
    nostalgic treats and baked goods. Photo
    courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    No dessert inspiration for Easter? Here’s an easy last-minute fix:

    SHOPPING LIST

  • Store-bought plain cake -or-
  • 1 box of cake mix (for a two-layer cake)
  • Decorations: jelly beans, multicolored sprinkles
  •  
    For The Cake Mix

  • Eggs and other ingredients specified on package directions
  • 1 pint whipping cream plus any flavorings
  •  
    Preparation For Cake Mix

    1. BAKE the cake mix in two layers, per package directions. While the cake cools…

    2. MAKE freshly whipped cream—classic, flavored with vanilla; lavender whipped cream, rum-accented, salted caramel whipped cream or other favorite flavor (recipes).

    3. DECORATE decorate with jelly beans and sprinkles.
     
    Not enough chocolate in your Easter basket? Try chocolate whipped cream (recipe below).

     

    RECIPE: STABILIZED CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

    If you’re going to fill and frost a cake, you need whipped cream that’s been stabilized with gelatin to keep its shape. If you want vanilla whipped cream, substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the chocolate and skip Steps 1-3 and add the gelatin to both cups of cream in Step 5.

    Ingredients

  • 4 ounces milk or 60% cacao dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (use a good chocolate bar)
  • 3 tablespoons sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 8 teaspoons cold water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar and 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

     

    3. POUR the hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Transfer to the bowl an electric mixer and let cool.

    4. COMBINE the gelatin and cold water in a small pan and let stand until thick. Then place over low heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool, but do not allow the gelatin to set.

    5. ADD the second cup of cream and whip on medium speed (ideally with whisk beaters). While slowly beating, add the gelatin to the whipping cream mixture. Whip at high speed until stiff.
     
    RECIPE: REGULAR CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

    Ingredients

  • 4 ounces milk or 60% cacao dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (use a good chocolate bar)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  •  

    chocolate-whipped-cream-cookiemadness.net-230

    For a cake filling, make a stabilized whipped cream with gelatin. Photo courtesy CookieMadness.net.

     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the sugar and 1 cup of the cream in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

    3. POUR the hot cream mixture over the chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate has melted. Transfer to the bowl an electric mixer and let cool.

    4. ADD the second cup of cream and whip on medium speed (ideally with whisk beaters) until thick.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Sourdough Bread Day

    April 1st is National Sourdough Bread Day. Sourdough is an ancient bread made by a long fermentation of dough, using naturally occurring lactobacilli bacteria and wild yeasts (other types of breads use cultivated yeasts, which became available only in the 19th century).

    In comparison with breads made with cultivated yeast, sourdough usually has a mildly sour taste and aroma, the result of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.

    The preparation of sourdough begins with pre-fermenting, using a “starter” made from flour and water (the starter is also known as levain, the chief, chef or head). It can be a fluid batter or a stiff dough, as the ratio of water to flour varies by baker.

    The starter helps to develop the uniquely tart flavor of sourdough bread. Starters are maintained for years, even generations. The colony of bacteria and yeast inside the dough is kept alive by the baker, who needs only a piece of it to bake a new batch of bread.

    If you bake bread in a bread machine, note that the rise time of most sourdough starters is longer than that of breads made with baker’s yeasts. Thus, sourdough typically doesn’t work in a bread machine; you need to use conventional baking techniques.

       

    sourdough-basket-lafayetteNY-230

    Sourdough bread baked at Lafayette Restaurant | NYC.

    ANCIENT BREAD

    One of the oldest sourdough breads was found in a Swiss excavation; the site dates to 3700 B.C.E. But the origin of sourdough fermentation is likely thousands of years older than that, originating in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia.

    Bread production has relied on the use of sourdough as a leavening agent for most of human history (the alternative to leavened bread was flatbread, such as lavosch and tortillas). The development and use of [cultivated] baker’s yeast as a leavening agent dates back only 150 years.

    Sourdough starter from a prior batch is used to create the new batch. Sourdough remained the usual form of leavening in European into the Middle Ages. Then, it was replaced by barm, the yeast-laden foam that forms in the process of brewing alcohol (for bread, the barm typically came from beer brewing). Centuries later, scientists learned to culture yeast, so bakers no longer had to rely on barm.

     

    sourdough-starter-foodformyfamily-230

    Sourdough starter. You can also purchase ready-made starter. Photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com.

     

    SOURDOUGH COMES TO AMERICA

    French bakers brought sourdough techniques to Northern California during the Gold Rush (1848–1855), and the bread remains part of the culture of San Francisco, where it has been in continuous production there since 1849. Some bakeries can trace their starters back to those days!

    In English-speaking countries, where wheat-based breads predominate, sourdough is no longer the standard method for bread leavening. It was gradually replaced, first by the use of barm from beer making and then by cultured yeasts.

    Thanks to the artisan food movement in the late 20th century in the U.S., it has undergone a revival [Source]. Now, most of us can enjoy it whenever we like—for toast, sandwiches and in the bread basket.

    If you haven’t had sourdough bread recently, today’s the day!

     

    Check out the different types of breads in our Bread Glossary.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Grilled Cheese Benedict

    grilled-cheese-benedict-230

    A yummy mash-up of Eggs Benedict and grilled cheese. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    April is National Grilled Cheese Month. There are got lots of grilled cheese recipes on TheNibble.com, but here’s something new: a mash-up of a grilled cheese sandwich with Eggs Benedict.

    The recipe is from the Grilled Cheese Academy, which has dozens of amazing grilled cheese sandwich recipes made with Wisconsin cheese.

    RECIPE: GRILLED CHEESE BENEDICT

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 slices Canadian bacon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 English muffins, split
  • 4 tablespoons Sharp Cheddar cheese spread, at room
    temperature
  • 4 slices Gouda cheese
  • 4 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Optional garnish: minced chives
  • Preparation

    1. HEAT 3-4 quarts water to just below the boiling point. Add the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Gently stir the water and lower the heat so water is simmering.

    2. CRACK the eggs into the water one at a time and poach gently for 4-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and season with salt and pepper to taste. As the eggs cook…

    3. HEAT a griddle or skillet over medium heat and fry the Canadian bacon until lightly browned. Remove from the griddle and set the bacon aside.

    4. ADD 1 tablespoon of butter to skillet. Spread the cut side of each English muffin’s bottom half with 1 tablespoon Sharp Cheddar cheese spread. Place in the heated skillet and top each half with 1 slice Gouda, about 1 ounce spinach, 2 slices Canadian bacon and 1 slice tomato.

    5. COOK over medium heat until the cheese is melted. Remove to a plate and top each with a poached egg. Serve open-faced with remaining muffin halves, toasted and buttered, on the side.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Dessert Pasta

    Most people think of pasta as a savory recipe. But the noodles themselves are very versatile. Made with flour, water and egg, they can be cooked for dessert as well as the main course.

    While not an April Fool joke, it seems like the right dessert for April Fool’s Day.

    The recipe was created by Michael Stambaugh of the El Conquistador Resort in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a recipe contest held by the National Pasta Association and the Culinary Institute of America. It won third place.

    After you master this recipe, you may develop your own ideas for variations on the theme of dessert lasagna.

    We’ve got 11 more recipes for dessert pasta. Take a look.

    RECIPE: DESSERT LASAGNA

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 4 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 8 kiwis, peeled
  •    

    Dessert_Lasagne230-ps

    Fruit lasagna for dessert! Photo courtesy National Pasta Association.

  • 4 cups strawberries, washed and trimmed, 8 berries reserved for garnish
  • 4 cups blackberries, washed
  • 1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • Garnish: mint sprigs
  •  

    mixed-berries-greengiantfresh.com-230

    If you don’t like one of the fruits in the recipe, pick another to purée. Photo courtesy
    Green Giant Fresh

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta according to package directions, substituting 2 tablespoons of sugar for the salt. Rinse, drain and set aside.

    2. STIR together the ricotta cheese and ½ cup sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.

    3. PURÉE 4 kiwis with 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor. Transfer the purée to a bowl and set aside. Rinse the processor bowl.

    4. PURÉE half the strawberries with 2 tablespoons sugar in the food processor. Strain the purée into a bowl and set aside. Rinse the processor bowl.

    5. PURÉE half the blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar in the food processor. Strain the purée and set aside.

    6. SLICE the remaining kiwis into ¼-inch thick rounds. Slice the strawberries into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Slice the blackberries in half.

     

    To Assemble The Lasagna

    1. RESERVE 1/4 cup of each of the purées to use as a garnish.

    2. COVER the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch glass baking pan with 3 lasagna noodles. Spoon 1/3 of the ricotta on top and spread it evenly.

    3. POUR the kiwi purée over the cheese and arrange the kiwi slices on top of the purée. Lay 3 more lasagna noodles on top and cover with 1/2 the remaining cheese.

    4. POUR the strawberry purée over the cheese and sprinkle with sliced strawberries. Lay 3 more lasagna noodles on top and cover with the remaining cheese. Pour the blackberrys purée over the cheese and sprinkle with blackberries. Top with a final layer of pasta. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

    5. TO SERVE: Sprinkle the lasagna with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and with the toasted almonds. Cut into 8 rectangles and use a spatula to set the pieces on dessert plates. Decorate the plates with dots of the reserved purées. Garnish each piece of lasagna with a strawberry and a sprig of mint.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Best Decorated Easter Eggs

    Can’t decide how to decorate your Easter eggs?

    Check out this gorgeous array of 16 ideas collected by BehindTheCookie.com.

    We like these gold foil-accented eggs, but we’re creating a craft contest for our Easter guests—before the meal begins—from the Humpty Dumpty idea.

    Don’t tell them, but everyone who completes a Humpty Dumpty design gets a prize (a chocolate egg, of course).

    Take a look and decide on your favorite. The contest is optional.

     

    gold-foil-easter-eggs-behindthecookie-230sq

    Add some gold foil to your Easter eggs. Photo courtesy BehindTheCookie.com.

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Peeps Cocktail

    peeps-cocktail-xbarhyattregencyLA-230L

    A Peeps cocktail for Easter. Photo courtesy
    XBar | Hyatt Regency | Los Angeles.

     

    This idea came to us from X Bar at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Los Angeles.

    They use a Pink Lady cocktail, but you can use other pink cocktail recipes, including two different pink Martinis.

    The first step is to make the special “Easter grass” rim. It combines lime zest with the sugar for a textured “grass.”

    Alternatively, you can buy green sanding sugar, which is available in both emerald green and pastel green.
     
    RECIPE: COLORED SUGAR RIM

    Ingredients

  • Table sugar
  • Green food color
  • Lime zest
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PLACE the sugar in a plastic sandwich bag or quart bag with a drop of food coloring. Shake well to infuse the color. Add more color (green or yellow) as required to reach the desired hue. (Color the sugar lighter shade of green than the lime zest.)

    2. ALLOW the sugar mixture to air dry. Spread it on a paper towel or a plate. When ready to make the sugar rim…

    3. GRATE the lime zest and mix it 50:50 or as desired with the green sugar. Place on a plate.

    4. DIP the rim of a Martini glass or sherbet champagne glass 1/4-inch deep in a shallow bowl of water. Remove, shake to eliminate drips and place in the sugar mix, twisting the glass to coat the rim.
     
    RECIPE: PINK LADY COCKTAIL ~ EASTER VERSION

    The Pink Lady is a classic gin-based cocktail that may have been named after a 1911 musical of the same name. The pale pink color comes from grenadine; the foamy top is created by an egg white.

    A favorite of society ladies of the 1930s, the drink was widely known during Prohibition (1920-1933) but fell out of favor in the 1960s. One theory is that the [typically male] journalists who wrote about cocktails and the [typically male] bartenders who mixed them had little interest in pink, “girly” drinks.

    The original recipe had only three ingredients—gin, grenadine and egg white—shaken and strained into a glass. Over time, some versions added lemon juice, applejack (apple brandy) and even cream (which could be substituted for the egg white or used in addition to it). Here’s more Pink Lady history.

    We’re opting for the version with apple brandy, for more flavor. If you don’t have apple brandy, you can substitute apple schnapps (apple liqueur), which Appletini lovers will have on hand.

    If you don’t want to use any apple brandy, make the cocktail with two ounces of gin. If you don’t want to use an egg white, use heavy cream (but don’t use lemon juice—it will curdle the cream).

     

    The classic recipe uses a maraschino cherry for garnish, but for our Easter cocktail, the cherry gets replaced by a pink Peep.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce applejack, Calvados, other apple brandy or apple schnapps
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 2 dashes grenadine or more to desired color
  • 1 egg white or 1/2 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 cup crushed ice or ice cubes
  • Easter garnish: 1 pink Peeps chick
  • Optional side: miniature jelly beans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the first six ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until everything is mixed well (the shaker should be frosted over). Strain into a rimmed Martini glass.

     

    PomBlush-pomwonderful-230

    Shake the cocktail vigorously so the egg white foams into a creamy top. Photo courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     
    2. SLICE a notch into the bottom of the Peeps chick. Place on the rim of the glass.

    3. SERVE with a shot glass or ramekin of miniature jelly beans.

      

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