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Archive for Gourmet News

FOOD HOLIDAY: S’Mores Pie, Ice Cream Cake & More

no-bake-smores-pie-browneyedbaker-230

A no-bake s’mores pie. Photo courtesy Brown
Eyed Baker.

 

You don’t need a campfire to celebrate National S’mores Day. Here are recipes that are just as much fun.

First, a no-bake S’mores Pie, the creation of Brown Eyed Baker, Lauryn Cohen. Here’s her recipe, shown in the photo.

The marshmallows are browned with a chef’s torch (most popularly used to make crème brûlée).

Prefer cake to pie? Here’s a S’mores Ice cream Cake recipe from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

RECIPE: S’MORES ICE CREAM CAKE

Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs,* divided
  • 1 loaf pound cake or chocolate pound cake
  • 1 rectangular container (1-1/2 quarts) chocolate ice cream
  • 10 ounces mini marshmallows
  • Optional garnish: chocolate sauce
  •  
    *You can substitute a prepared graham cracker crust for the crumbs, sugar and butter. You will still need some graham cracker crumbs for garnish.

    Preparation

    If you have a chef’s torch, use it instead of the broiler in Step 3.

    1. LINE a broiler-safe 8×8-inch glass or metal baking dish with foil, overlapping the edges of the dish with the foil (to help lift out the cake). Cut the pound cake into 1-inch slices (or as thick as desired) and tightly pack into a layer.

    2. SOFTEN the ice cream at room temperature for 5 minutes; remove the carton from the ice cream and cut the ice cream in half. Place both halves on top of the cake layer, trimming as necessary. Use a spatula to press and spread the ice cream evenly. Add a layer of graham cracker crumbs. Cover and freeze solid, 30 minutes or more.

    3. PREHEAT the broiler with the rack in the lower part of oven. Remove the ice cream cake from freezer; top with marshmallows (tightly placed together), spreading to edges of pan, pressing down to seal. Place cake under broiler, 8 to 10 inches from heating element. Broil until marshmallows are puffed and golden, 2 to 3 minutes, watching constantly.

    4. REMOVE from oven, sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs and drizzle with optional chocolate sauce. Cut and serve immediately.

     

    RECIPE: S’MORES CUPCAKES

    Ingredients

  • Chocolate cupcakes
  • Marshmallow creme
  • Graham crackers
  • Chocolate bar
  • Optional: mini marshmallows
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BAKE or buy chocolate cupcakes. Frost with marshmallow creme. Add optional mini marshmallows and brown with a chef’s torch.

    2. DECORATE with pieces of chocolate bar and graham cracker.

     
    Ice Cream Cupcakes Variation

    Instead of marshmallow creme, substitute vanilla or marshmallow ice cream. Garnish with mini marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.

     

    smores-cupcake-ps-230

    It’s easy to assemble s’mores cupcakes. Photo courtesy Crumbs.

     

    RECIPE: S’MORES ICE CREAM

    Some brands offer s’mores ice cream; but you can make your own. You get to add your preferred form of marshmallow into this recipe: either a marshmallow creme swirl or mixed-in mini marshmallows.

    Ingredients

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate chips or chunks
  • Graham crackers, crumbled
  • Mini marshmallows or marshmallow creme
  • Optional: waffle cones
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SOFTEN ice cream on counter. If using mini marshmallows, cut them in half in half.

    2. SWIRL marshmallow creme through the ice cream; alternatively, mix mini marshmallows into the ice cream.

    3. MIX in chocolate chips and graham crackers. Return ice cream to freezer.

    4. SERVE in bowls, with chocolate pound cake, or in a waffle cone.
      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Cooking History

    early-man-cooking-sirgy.com-230

    Be grateful for your stove and microwave! Photo courtesy Sirgy.com.

     

    Do you like sashimi and steak tartare?

    Man has been wandering Earth for some 200,000 years, but the general use of fire began only about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. Until then, man ate his food raw.*

    Neanderthals discovered how to deliberately create fire. This led to warmth—the priority in the Ice Age—and to the secondary benefit of cooking meats. Most likely, a piece of mammoth, venison or another flesh that would have been eaten raw, fell in the campfire. It had to be left there until the flames died down, no doubt filling the air with the alluring aroma of roasting meat.

    Heat breaks down tough fiber and releases flavor in the process. As a natural next step, meat and tough roots were slower cooked in the embers or on a flat stone by the side of the fire.

     
    Boiling took more time to evolve, using large mollusk or turtle shells until man created vessels of earthenware or bark that could be placed over the fire. Steaming inside animal stomachs and leaves preceded the more sophisticated development of crockery. The first oven could have been as simple as a hole in the ground.
     
    Here’s what your most ancient of forefathers did:

  • They dug a large pit in the ground and lined it with flat, overlapping stones to prevent seepage. Large quantities of water were poured in, presumably transported in skin bags. Other stones were heated in the campfire and add to the water to bring it to a simmer.
  • The food was then added and, while it was cooking, more hot stones to keep the water at the desired temperature. This technique is still used in some isolated parts of the world.†
  •  
    It was only much later that boiling or stewing was done in small pots placed near the fire, or in cauldrons suspended over a fire. [Source: Food in the Ancient World, Joan P. Alcock [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2006 (p. 105-106)]

    The use of fire vastly extended man’s diet, enabling tough foods to be palatable. Cereals—barley, millet, rice, rye, and wheat, as well as potatoes, require cooking before they can be consumed by humans. The use of fire doubtless encouraged the domestication of these foods and the end of lives as hunter-gatherers, as man settled into farming communities.

    Thanks to FoodTimeline.org for inspiring this article.

     
    *Source: Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000 (p. 1571)
    †Source: Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press:New York] 1988 (p. 14-16)
     
      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Rice Pudding Day

    Here’s a fun take for National Rice Pudding Day: rice pudding tartlets. These are made in rustic style by Frog Hollow Farm.

    You don’t need tartlet pans that turn out fluted, rigid tart shells. Instead, just roll the dough and fold the edges over the filling—the style known as galette. Rice pudding replaces the traditional fruit filling.

    Just make your favorite rice pudding recipe and this galette dough:

    RECIPE: GALETTE DOUGH

    You can make this dough up to 2 days in advance. Wrapped in plastic, then in foil, it can be frozen for up to a month.

    Ingredients

  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  •  

    rice-pudding-tartlet-froghollow-230

    Rice pudding tartlets. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm.

     

    Preparation

    1. PLACE 3/4 of the butter on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard, 30 minutes or longer. Refrigerate the remaining butter.

    2. COMBINE flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add the refrigerated butter and pulse 10 times to combine. Add the frozen butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. There should be some small, pea-size clumps.

    3. ADD the ice water and pulse 10 more times until just incorporated. Squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers to make sure it holds together. If not, pulse a few more times, as necessary.

    4. EMPTY the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Gather the dough, bringing the edges together and pressing it into a mass. Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic.

    5. ROLL out the dough, still wrapped in plastic, into 1/2-inch-thick disks, four inches in diameter (for individual tartlets). Refrigerate for least 45 minutes.

    6. Place filling in the center of the circles. Pleat the dough around the filling and bake until the crust is lightly golden, for about 15 minutes in 375°F oven.
     
    RICE PUDDING RECIPES

  • Adult Rice Pudding Recipe
  • Layered Rice Pudding Bars Recipe
  • Leftover Rice Rice Pudding Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Zucchini Day, Spiral Zucchini & Zucchini Pasta

    Whether served raw, roasted, baked, grilled, sautéed, pickled, or fried, zucchini is one of the most versatile vegetables, and a seasonal summer favorite that’s abundantly available at farm stands and supermarkets.

    This summer squash is very low in calories—33 calories for a medium zucchini.

    There are many wonderful ways to serve zucchini:

  • Garnishes
  • Gratin
  • Grilled
  • Soufflé
  • Stir-fried zucchini ribbons
  • Zucchini and carrot slaw, “cole slaw” or salad
  • Zucchini pasta
  • Zucchini sticks, baked or fried
  •  
    Two of our favorite recipes are below. To make them, treat yourself to the new Microplane Spiral Cutter, a tool that quickly and effortlessly transforms zucchini—as well as carrots, cucumbers, radishes and other vegetables—into elegant spiral cuts and ribbons.

       

    sprial-grater-microplane-beauty-230L

    Food fun with the new Microplane Spiral Cutter. Photo courtesy Microplane.

     
    Thanks to Microplane for announcing this gadget in time for National Zucchini Day, August 8th.

    Resembling an old-school manual pencil sharpener in both style and function, the Spiral Cutter has two razor-sharp (surgical steel!) slicing barrels to accommodate different vegetables—the small barrel for long, slim vegetables such as carrots, the large barrel for cucumbers, summer squash and other, broader vegetables.

    It debuts this month in Black and Green for a suggested retail of $14.95. Learn more at Microplane.com.

    Then, you’ll be set to whip up this delicious salad:

    SPIRAL ZUCCHINI RECIPE # 1: THAI-STYLE ZUCCHINI RIBBON SALAD (BASED ON SOM TUM)

    We love green papaya salad, som tum. We can easily eat two appetizer portions at our local Thai restaurant.

    Our favorite guest blogger, Hannah Kaminsky, agrees. “Served chilled, the tender yet crisp strands of unripe papaya are cooling, yet still popping with bursts of heat from abundant flecks of chili peppers. Brightly acidic, tangy, and slightly salty, with just a touch of sweetness to take the edge off, every component must be in perfect balance to achieve a successful, harmonious dish.

    “Of course, the key ingredient, green papaya, isn’t typically available in hometown grocery stores, which is why I took a page from the ever-popular zucchini noodles. They don’t stay crisp as long as papaya, so be sure to leave them undressed until the minute you’re ready to serve.

     

    thai-zucchini-salad-kaminsky-230

    Zucchini Thai salad: zucchini replaces green
    papaya in the classic som tum recipe. Photo
    © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    “Even without the papaya, this recipe transports me to a delicious new world of flavor with every single bite.

    “The dish comes together very quickly, so prep all of your vegetables first and you’ll zip right through the rest of the preparation.”

    Ingredients For 2-4 Servings

  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 ounces (a big handful) haricots verts (skinny green beans), lightly blanched
  • 2 medium zucchini, spiralized or julienned
  • 1/2 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2-1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced
  • Handful skinny chives or scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted and salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing. Whisk together the lime juice, coconut sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce and garlic. It will seem like a lot of liquid, but don’t worry: That’s exactly what you want. This isn’t like a traditional salad dressing; it should soak into the noodles a bit, and you will have a bit of a pool at the bottom when it’s in proper proportion.

    2. PLACE the green beans, zucchini ribbons and tomatoes in a medium bowl. Pour the dressing on top and toss to coat. Add the chili, a bit at a time, until it’s spicy enough for your personal taste. Give it one more good toss to mix everything around and evenly distribute the ingredients before transferring everything to a serving dish.

    3. TOP with a generous handful of sliced chives and chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

     
    SPIRAL ZUCCHINI RECIPE # 2: ZUCCHINI “SPAGHETTI”

    You will love this dish, part of our repertoire since we began to fashion our own “cuisine minceur” in high school. It does a great job emulating spaghetti, for very few calories and carbs.

    Ingredients

  • Zucchini ribbons
  • Sauce of choice—red, white, pesto, EVOO and garlic, etc.
  • Grated Parmigiano-Romano or other Italian grating cheese (for a texture change, consider shaving instead of grating)
  • Optional garnishes: capers, fresh herbs, green peas or other vegetables, panko bread crumbs, sautéed garlic slivers, sliced olives or any favorite pasta topper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK zucchini briefly, to al dente. (We steamed them in the microwave for 30 seconds).

    2. PLATE with sauce. Garnish with grated cheese and any other ingredients.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Swap

    olive-oil-bread-loaf-flavoryourlife-230

    Instead butter on your bread, try olive oil.
    Photo courtesy FlavorYourLife.com.

     

    August is National Olive Oil Month, reminding us again that it’s easy to make heart-healthy switches in everyday eating.

    While the health benefits of olive oil are no secret (including no cholesterol and less saturated fat than butter), most people are unaware of how simple it is to make the swap. Here are three easy switches:

  • Olive oil vinaigrette instead of creamy salad dressings
  • Sautéeing with olive oil instead of butter or other fat
  • Dipping bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter
  • When you swap butter for olive oil, you use need less oil—so that’s also a savings in calories.
     
    HOW TO SWAP BUTTER FOR OLIVE OIL

  • 1 teaspoon butter > ¾ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter > 2-¼ teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter > 1-½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup butter > 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup butter > ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup butter > ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup > ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup > ¾ cup
  • 2 cups > 1-½ cups
  •  
    For more ways to swap butter for olive oil in everyday recipes, visit Pompeian.com.

    You can also print out Pompeian’s butter to olive oil conversion chart and hang it on the fridge.

    MOVIE POPCORN OIL

    What kind of oil is in and on your movie popcorn?

    Most movie theaters pop the kernels in coconut oil. Coconut oil is 86% saturated fat, the kind that raises cholesterol. Lard is 38% saturated fat.

    The butter-flavored oil topping at the movies is usually partially hydrogenated soybean oil that contains both saturated and trans fats. [Source]

    What happened to “butter topping?” The butter made the popcorn soggier than oil. As a bonus to theater owners, oil is also far cheaper than butter.

    During the month of August, Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil has arranged with some movie theater chains to offer pure olive oil as an alternative to the standard topping. If you find yourself at one of those venues, let us know how you enjoyed the swap.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Oyster Day

    oysters-bacon-iSt1531875JamesAntrim-230

    Surf and turf: oyster on the half shell topped
    with crumbled bacon. Photo courtesy James
    Antrim | IST.

     

    It’s National Oyster Day. But hey—aren’t you supposed to avoid oysters in the hot summer months?

    Fresh oysters are available year-round, with caveats.

    The advice not to eat oysters during months spelled without an “r” does not refer to spoilage and food poisoning from eating oysters during June, July and August.

    Rather, it refers to the oyster’s spawning months, May, June, July and August (in the Northern Hemisphere). The meat from spawning oysters is softer, milkier and more bland than in the fall and winter.

    When oysters are fattening up, they load up on glycogen, a polysaccharide that is the principal storage form of glucose. This sugar is greatly depleted when oysters spawn, diminishing the quality of their flesh.

    “If oysters don’t spawn, they grow plump and sweet, and can be harvested year-round,” says Michael Kirkpatrick in his article, ‘Duxbury Pearls: Island Creek Oysters,” in Edible Boston, Spring 2007.’ ”

    Here’s a tip to enjoy your oysters in the warmer months: Choose oysters from the colder waters of New England and Canada. The oysters don’t spawn, although they grow large as if they were going to.

     

    If the oysters don’t spawn, won’t the colony die out?

    We contacted oyster Kirkpatrick, who advised: “Oyster colonies naturally die out all the time, which is one reason why many, if not most, commercial oyster beds are re-seeded on a regular basis (another reason: to ensure a reliable harvest).” Reseeding involves obtaining oysters from hatcheries and adding them to the beds.

    Thanks, Michael! If you visit the Cooperstown, New York, area, you can stay at Michael’s bed and breakfast, The Farm.

     

    OUR FAVORITE WAYS TO ENJOY OYSTERS

    The fresher the oysters, the more they demand to be enjoyed absolutely plain. That’s how you taste their terroir and enjoy the undiluted brine in the cups.

    That’s how we like to eat oysters. If there’s any garnish, it’s a bit of caviar—salmon caviar, tobiko, whitefish, sturgeon or other (the different types of caviar).

    Need a garnish? Go for a bit of citrus juice (yuzu is the best!) or mignonette sauce: dry white wine, sherry vinegar, chopped shallot and fresh-cracked white pepper. There’s no need to add salt, as oysters have natural salinity.

    That’s mignonette (min-yo-NET) sauce in the photo at left. The name is French, derived from the word for dainty.

    Sauces and other toppings were created to spruce up oysters that have lost their spanking freshness. When you top an oyster with cocktail sauce, or with herbed bread crumbs, butter and cream, salt, pepper and hot sauce—Oysters Rockefeller—the oyster flavor is buried under other layers.

     

    del-frisco-oysters-230w

    Oysters with mignonette sauce. Photo courtesy Del Frisco.

     

    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OYSTERS

    How many types of oysters have you had?

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Deconstructed Blueberry Pie

    deconstructed-blueberry-pie-lindaanctil-230

    Deconstructed blueberry pie à la mode.
    Photo courtesy Linda Anctil.

     

    We are huge fans of Linda Anctil, a Connecticut-based chef and caterer whose blog, PlayingWithFireAndWater.com, makes us want to show up at meal time and befriend her. She’s a great deconstructionist chef and caterer, and it’s a pleasure to look at her concepts and photos.

    She deconstructed the all-American bluebeerry pie with:

  • Sous vide blueberries (see below)
  • Blueberry sauce
  • Blueberry “cheese”
  • Roasted flour nuggets
  • Lemon balm frozen yogurt
  • Garnish: lemon balm leaves
  •  
    You can see the full recipe here. It requires professional skills and equipment.
     
    But you can make an easy version even if your main skills are simply gathering and assembling.

     
    Here’s what we did:

    RECIPE: DECONSTRUCTED BLUEBERRY PIE

    Ingredients

  • Saucepan-cooked blueberries instead of sous vide
  • Blueberry purée (sauce) made from some of the cooked blueberries
  • Blueberry sorbet (purchased)
  • Greek frozen yogurt (purchased—plain, vanilla or blueberry, or vanilla ice cream)
  • Pie crust or tart crust balls, or sugar cookie dough balls (we rolled tart crust, which is firmer and more buttery, into balls. You can add sugar if you wish.)
  • Garnish: lemon balm or mint leaves
  •  
    Pre-scoop the small balls of sorbet and larger balls of frozen yogurt or ice cream and place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for quick assembly.

    To assemble, follow Linda’s photo, above.

     

    WHAT IS SOUS VIDE?

    Sous vide, pronounced soo-VEED and meaning “under vacuum,” is a cooking technique developed in France in the 1980s. Since then, it has been used by the greatest chefs to assure consistency in turning out fine meals.

    Portions are prepared in individual, sealed plastic bags that are cooked in a water bath. Previously only available for the professional kitchen, a consumer model debuted in 2009. It’s for the serious cook.

    Some benefits of sous vide cooking:

  • Once you get the hang of it, it makes cooking easier. Whether for entertaining or for family meals you can prepare the food to precisely the temperature you want (no more meat thermometers!) in a fraction of the time.
  • If you’re cooking multiple portions of temperature-sensitive foods for a dinner party—fish or steak, for example—sous vide ensures that every piece is cooked exactly the same.
  • You can prepare in advance, partially cook the food in the individual portion bags, and then finish the cooking in minutes.
  • The individual sealed bags make plating and clean-up easy.
  •  
    Here’s more about sous vide cooking.

     

    sous-vide-set-230

    Sous Vide enables adventurous cooks to use an alternative cooking technique. Photo courtesy Sous Vide.

     

    BLUEBERRY TRIVIA

    There are two types of blueberries.

  • Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) grow on tall bushes; some cultivars reach a height of 6 to 8 feet. The berries are larger and more abundant than lowbush blueberries, although their flavor may be somewhat less intense and sweet.
  • Lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium), also referred to as wild blueberries, grow in Maine and the colder regions of eastern North America. The shrubs grow no taller than two feet and may be smaller, depending on soil and climate, and produce small, exceptionally sweet bluish-black berries. If you want to plant a bush or two, these are hardy plants that do well in all soils, even poor, rocky types, providing the drainage is good.
  •  
    These statistics are from Wikipedia:

  • Michigan is the leader in highbush blueberry production. An old statistic in Wikipedia credits Michigan farms with producing 220,000 tonnes (490,000,000 pounds) of blueberries, accounting for 32% of those eaten in the United States. Other states with substantial commercial acreage of highbush blueberries are New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
  • Maine produces 25% of all lowbush blueberries in North America with 24,291 hectares (60,020 acres) under cultivation. The wild blueberry is the official fruit of Maine.
  • Georgia, with about 10% of production (that’s 77 million pounds), has the longest harvest season in the U.S., lasting from late April through the end of July.
  • Hammonton, New Jersey claims to be the “Blueberry Capital of the World,” growing more than 80% of New Jersey’s blueberries.
  •   

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Prosecco & Alcohol-Infused Ice Pops

    prosecco-ice-pops-conradhotel-230

    New, fun, delicious: Prosecco and boozy ice
    pops. Photo courtesy Conrad Hotel | NYC.

     

    Too bad “Sex And The City” is off the air. The girls could have spent an afternoon or evening at an elegant rooftop bar in Battery Park City at the foot of Manhattan, enjoying the stunning views of Lady Liberty and the Hudson River…

    …and enjoying glasses of Prosecco, the Italian sparkler, garnished with boozy ice pops.

    The Conrad Hotel in New York City, part of the Hilton empire, offers a tempting lineup of boozy pops at Loopy Doopy, its rooftop bar. (It looks neither loopy nor doopy, but Hamptons-inspired).

    The ice pops are made from fruit purée and spirits, and served in a goblet of Prosecco. Ice pop flavors include:

  • Appletini with gin, vermouth, lemon juice
  • Blueberry Plum with Irish Whiskey
  • Raspberry Apricot with Grand Marnier
  • Spiced Peach with añejo rum
  • Strawberry Margarita with lime juice & tequila
  •  

     

    Loopy Doopy partnered with People’s Pops, a local artisan ice pop maker, which makes the boozy ice pops exclusively for them.

    And there’s more fun: Throughout the 2014 summer season, those enjoying Prosecco & Ice Pop cocktails will discover various prizes revealed on their ice pop sticks. Prizes range from something as small as an appetizer, or to a complimentary weekend stay for two in the hotel’s 1,500-square-foot Conrad Suite.

    Waiter, we’ll have another, please!

    You can make your own alcohol-infused ice pops. Alcohol doesn’t freeze well, so add just a teaspoonful into each individual pop mold.

    ABOUT PROSECCO

    Hailing from northeast Italy’s Veneto region, Prosecco is the name of the village where the where the Prosecco grape—now known as the Glera grape—originated. Other local white grape varieties, such as Bianchetta Trevigiana, can be included in the blend.

    The wine can be frizzante—just slightly fizzy, sometimes bottled with a regular cork to be opened with a corkscrew—or spumante—very fizzy, bottled with the mushroom-style cork and cage or something similar.

    The wine is often labeled Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene, after its appellation.

     

    mionetto-bottle-2-230

    Prosecco in its traditional bottle shape. Photo courtesy Mionetto Prosecco.

     

    Prosecco is affordable, light-bodied for hot summer days, and something you should be sipping now.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Popcorn Ball Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Make an ice cream sandwich with a “popcorn
    ball” sandwich. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     

    August 2nd is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Sure, ice cream between two cookies or thin slices of cake makes a great sandwich. But try something different this year: Make the “sandwich” part from popcorn balls.

    This recipe takes the ingredients for popcorn balls and makes them flat, in a baking pan, so they can be cut into rectangles for the sandwiches.

    RECIPE: POPCORN ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

    Ingredients For 12 Sandwiches

  • 2-1/2 quarts popped popcorn (fresh-popped or store-bought)
  • 1-1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 6-ounce package chocolate chips*
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 pints brick-style (rectangular package)vanilla ice cream†
  •  
    *Variations: other baking chips (butterscotch, peanut butter, etc.), dried cherries, mini M&Ms, mini Reese’s Pieces or candy of choice.

    †If you can’t find brick-style pints, get a quart. Why do you need a rectangle? To slice the ice cream in a rectangle for the sandwiches. You can experiment with other ice cream flavors, but start with vanilla for a benchmark.

     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, vinegar and salt in a three-quart saucepan.

    2. COOK, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook until hard ball stage (250°F on a candy thermometer). Pour syrup over popped popcorn; stir to coat.

    3. ADD chocolate pieces and nuts; stir just to mix. Pour into two 13 x 9 x 2 inch pans, spreading and packing firmly. Cool.

    4. CUT the popcorn mix in each pan into 12 rectangles. Cut each pint of ice cream into 6 slices. Sandwich ice cream between two popcorn rectangles.

    5. WRAP each sandwich in plastic and place in freezer until ready to serve.

    Find more recipes at Popcorn.org, the website of The Popcorn Board.

     

    WEST COAST ICE CREAM SANDWICH NEWS

    If we were in L.A. we’d celebrate National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, August 2nd, at Napoléon’s Macarons.

    Or maybe not, since the pâtisserie is giving away* free Maca’Longs today from 2-4 p.m. at the Glendale and Canoga Park locations. Imagine the crowds, and perhaps stay home and make your own ice cream sandwiches.

    Maca’Longs are macaron cookie ice cream sandwiches that use the bakery’s macaron expertise to create long, almond meringue-based shells for their made-from-scratch ice cream. (See our original post on Pierre Herme’s version).

    The Maca’Long debuts in four flavors: Hazelnut Lemon, Mocha, Raspberry Pistachio and Vanilla Pecan. For this we have just two words: Mmmm, mmmm.

    Discover more at NapoleonsMacarons.com.

     

    maca-long-w-meringue-napoleonsmacarons-LA-230b

    An ice cream sandwich on a meringue cookie sandwich. Photo courtesy Napoléon’s Macarons | L.A.

     

    EAST COAST ICE CREAM SANDWICH NEWS

    On the other side of the country, in Manhattan, Ristorante Asellina is serving up Crolatos: homemade gelato sandwiches on split croissants.

    While a buttery plain croissant works just fine, see if you can score some almond croissants or chocolate croissants.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Simits Vs. Bagels

    We are so happy that simits have come into our life. This traditional Middle Eastern street food is breakfast fare or snack in Turkey and other parts of the Mediterranean and Middle East.

    Thanks to a Turkish family whose children moved to a simit-less New York City, simits are now baked in the area, served at the company’s Simit + Smith cafés and sold at specialty food stores (a partial list: Agata & Valentina, Amish Market, Blue Olive Market, Food Cellar, Francela, Garden of Eden, Parrot Coffee and Zeytuna).

    We’d like to offer our perspective of simits versus bagels.

    Wanting to make their product stand out, the Simit + Smith folks don’t want to compare simits with that ensconced American standard, the bagel. They suggested that we call it “artisan bread,” a generic term that applies to any bread that’s handmade.

    But we don’t agree. What’s the best way to convince people to try something new? Compare it to something everyone already knows and loves.

    So take it from THE NIBBLE: If you like sesame bagels, you’ll like simits—maybe a lot more.

    SIMITS & BAGELS: THE DIFFERENCES

       

    bagel-simit-1-kalviste-230

    A simit (on top) with its cousin, a sesame bagel. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    Like bagels, simits are made with all natural ingredients, without fat or preservatives, and are hand rolled and baked fresh daily. The recipes and process are slightly different, but here are the key differences:

  • Shape. As you can see in the photos, simits are larger and flatter, even when compared to the overblown bagel from our neighborhood, made with a scant hole in the middle so the fillings don’t fall out. Simits are not used for sandwiches in Turkey—it’s not a tradition, and besides the fillings would fall out through the center. To make simit sandwiches, Simit + Smith also bakes a non-traditional, “American” simit roll without the hole.
  • Texture. Simits are crispy on the outside, and the inside is light and fluffy, in contrast with the denser, chewier bagel.
  • Fewer carbs. The flatter shape of simit means less crumb (the bready inside). You get bagel-like flavor with less bread.
  • More flavor. Comparing a simit to a sesame bagel, simits have more flavor. Why? The sesame seeds are adhered to the simit with a mixture of water and 5% molasses. That 5% adds wonderful flavor and there’s a bonus: It makes the sesame seeds really adhere. They don’t fall off and make a mess (as with a sesame bagel).
  •  

    bagel-simit-inside-vertical-230

    Inside the simit and bagel. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    MORE ON THE MENU

    In its home countries, simits are always coated with flavorful, healthful healthy sesame seeds. To meet American’s tastes, Simit + Smith also offers multigrain and whole wheat simits (you won’t find them in Turkey).

    If you’d like a simit sandwich, there are traditional Mediterranean fillings such as black olive paste and kasseri cheese, and American-style fillings as chicken, Nutella and banana (wonderful!), roast beef and our favorite, smoked salmon and cream cheese.

    There are toasted Simit chips with a variety of Mediterrean dips and spreads. We’ve been enjoying simit in some form or other for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

    Other products include beverages (the tea and coffee are delish), oatmeal, yogurt and fresh fruit, soups, salads, paninis, scones and excellent baked goods sourced from top local bakeries.

    The company has also makes pogaca (poh-AH-cha), a savory pastry filled with feta and parsley or kasseri cheese and olives. Here’s the whole menu.

     
    Simit + Smith cafes are located at 124 West 72nd Street, 111 Worth Street and 100 Williams Street in New York City. In New Jersey, visit the bakery itself at 721 Anderson Avenue in Cliffside Park.

    For more information on Simit + Smith,including a list of specialty food stores that carry simits, head to SimitAndSmith.com.

      

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