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Archive for Gourmet Foods

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fancy Lemonade

Lemon Grove

Lemon Tree

Meyer Lemons

[1] A lemon grove (photo courtesy Condé Nast Traveler.[2] Ornamental lemon trees can be grown indoors (photo courtesy BrighterBlooms.com. [3] Meyer lemons, less tart than the conventional supermarket lemon (photo courtesy GoodEggs.com).

 

It took a while for man to turn lemons into lemonade, the quintessential American summer drink.

THE HISTORY OF LEMONADE

The origin of the lemon is still not certain, although food historians believe it may be Assam in northwestern India, where lemons have been cultivated for more than 2,500 years.

It was brought to northern Burma and to China, across Persia and the Arab world to the Mediterranean.

  • Arab traders brought the lemons to the Middle East and Africa sometime after 100 C.E.
  • They are believed to have been introduced into southern Italy around 200 C.E.; and was being cultivated in Egypt and in Sumer, the southern portion of Mesopotamia, a few centuries later.
  • Citron, a different citrus, looking like a larger lemon with a very thick rind and very little pulp or juice, seems to have been known by Jews before the time of Christ. References to the round, yellow fruit grown by the Romans were to citron. The lemon does not appear to have been grown in the Middle East in pre-Islamic times.
  •  
    But for many centuries in the Middle East, lemons were not widely cultivated as food.

  • They were largely an ornamental plant in Middle Eastern gardens until about the 10th century. Arabs introduced the lemon to Spain in the 11th century, and by 1150, the lemon was widely cultivated in the Mediterranean.
  • The first clear written reference to the lemon tree dates from the early 10th century, in an Arabic work on farming.
  • Crusaders returning from Palestine brought lemons to the rest of Europe. The lemon came into full culinary use in Europe in the 15th century; the first major cultivation in Europe began in Genoa.
  • The name “lemon” first appeared around 1350–1400, and derives from the Middle English word limon. Limon is an Old French word, indicating that the lemon entered England via France. The Old French derives from the Italian limone, which dates back to the Arabic laymun or limun, from the Persian word limun.
  • Lemons came to the New World in 1493, when Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds to Hispaniola. Spanish conquest spread the lemon throughout the New World, where it was still used mainly used as an ornamental plant, and for medicine.
  • Lemons were grown in California by 1751; and in the 1800s in Florida, they began to be used in cooking and flavoring. Commercial cultivation of lemons took hold in California and Florida in the 1800s.
  • Around 200 cultivars (distinct varieties) of lemon can be found in the U.S. alone. Some are best for lemon juice, some for lemon oil, and some are all-around. Some are more disease-resistant, some bear more fruit.
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    Over the millennia, many different types of lemons evolved.

    One of the reasons it is difficult to trace lemon’s origin is adaptability to hybridization, as well as the vagueness of descriptions and awareness levels. A “round citron” reference may actually be a lemon, or vice versa.

    Depictions of citrus fruits in Roman mosaics such as found in Carthage in Tunisia, and frescoes preserved in Pompeii, may look like lemons but are not supported by any botanical or literary evidence (source).

    What we do know is that many varieties proliferated in semi-tropical climates around the world. Here’s a pictorial glossary of the different types of lemons.
     
    And the history of lemonade?

  • The earliest written evidence of lemonade comes from medieval Egypt in the writings of the Persian poet and traveler Nasir-i-Khusraw (1003-ca. 1061).
  •  

  • Records from the medieval Jewish community in Cairo (10th-13th centuries) show that bottles of lemon juice, called qatarmizat, were heavily sweetened with sugar. An 1104 reference shows a considerable trade in exporting lemon juice.
  •  
    Over the centuries, lemonade has been enhanced with fruits, herbs, spices and yes, alcohol.

    National Lemonade Day is August 20th, but why wait until then to enjoy these recipes?

    This recipe is adapted from Leanne Vogel of HealthfulPursuit.com, for Strawberry Basil Italian Lemonade.

    Italian lemonade uses mineral water; you can use whatever water you like.

    You may want to soak the basil overnight, or first thing in the morning.

     

    RECIPE: STRAWBERRY BASIL LEMOMADE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 24 organic strawberries, hulled
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Ultrafine sugar*, simple syrup or other sweetener to taste
  • 2 quarts mineral water
  • 48 basil leaves, washed and stems removed and divided
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • Optional garnish:
  • Straws
  •  
    __________________
    *Ultrafine sugar dissolves more easily because the grains are much smaller. You can turn table sugar into ultrafine by pulsing it in a food processor.
     
    Preparation

    1. SOAK half of the basil in the mineral water for 6-8 hour and refrigerates.

    2. CRUSH the strawberries in a large bowl with a muddler or a potato masher, until they can be sipped through a straw. Add the lemon juice and sweetener, stir and refrigerate. When ready to serve…

    3. Add 2 spoonfuls of strawberry purée to the bottom of 8 glasses. Add 2 fresh basil leaves (not soaked) and a couple of ice cubes. Pour mineral water over the top and serve with straws.
     
    MORE EXCITING LEMOMADE RECIPES

  • Jalapeño Lemonade Recipe
  • Lavender Lemonade Recipe
  • Mint Lemonade Recipe
  • Peach Lemonade Recipe
  • Sparkling Melon Lemonade Recipe
  • Spicy Lemonade Recipe
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    LEMONADE COCKTAIL RECIPES

  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail Recipe
  • Lemonade 485 Cocktail Recipe
  • Limoncello Lemonade Recipe
  • Tequila Lemonade Recipe
  • Saké Lemonade Recipe
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    HAVE OTHER IDEAS FOR FANCY LEMONADE?

    Let us know!

     

    Strawberry Basil Lemonade

    Lavender Lemonade

    Jalapeno Lemonade

    [1] Strawberry Basil Lemonade, the recipe at left (photo courtesy HealthfulPursuit.com). [2] Lavender lemonade (recipe, photo © Edith Frincu | Dreamstime). [3] Jalapeño Lemonade (recipe, photo courtesy Melissas.com).

      

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    FOOD FUN: Fish Bowl Or Shark Tank Punch

    Fish Bowl Punch

    Gummy Sharks

    [1] Sip the punch, eat the fish (photo and recipe courtesy CocktailsDetails.com). [2] Prefer to swim with the sharks? Use shark gummies instead. Or make a statement by using four fish and one shark (photo courtesy Amazon.com).

     

    Last summer we presented Pool Party Punch, a cocktail as blue as a swimming pool.

    This year, it’s Fishbowl Punch from CocktailDetails.com, with our own variation, Shark Tank Punch.

    You can also make a non-alcoholic punch (recipe below).
     
    RECIPE: FISHBOWL PUNCH OR SHARK TANK PUNCH

    Ingredients For 64 Ounces (1/2 Gallon*)

  • 5 ounces vodka
  • 5 ounces Malibu rum
  • 3 ounces blue Curaçao
  • 6 ounces sweet-and-sour mix (make your own)
  • 16 ounces pineapple juice
  • Half-gallon goldfish bowl
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Nerds candy or other gravel-like candy
  • Optional: fish tank plant
  • Ice cubes†
  • 16 ounces Sprite
  • 4 Swedish Fish or Gummy Sharks
  • Garnish for the bowl: lime slices
  • Garnish for each glass: a fish or a shark
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    __________________
    *1/2 gallon= 64 ounces = eight 8-ounce servings = ten 6-ounce servings = or sixteen 4-ounce servings. Serving size includes ice.

    †Use large ice cubes, if possible. The larger the ice, the slower it melts, the less dilution of the drink.

    Preparation

    1. COMINE the first five ingredients in a pitcher and stir to blend. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve…

    2. SPRINKLE the Nerds on the bottom of the fish bowl to create “gravel,” and anchor the optional fish tank plant.

    3. ADD ice to the bowl; then add the the chilled punch and the candy fish/sharks. Top off with lime slices.

    4. LADLE the punch into glasses and garnish with a fish. Alternatively, you can provide the ladle and glasses for self-service.
     
    NON-ALCOHOLIC VERSION

    Ingredients

  • 1 package Blue Raspberry Kool-Aid
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 12 ounces bottled Piña Colada mix (no alcohol)
  • 1 two-liter bottle of Sprite or other lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • Garnishes per above
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    Preparation

    1. PLACE the Kool-Aid powder and sugar in a large pitcher. Add half the water and whisk thoroughly to dissolve, making sure that the powder and sugar dissolve.

    2. ADD the remaining water and the Piña Colada mix. Stir and chill for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve…

    3. CONTINUE with Step 2 in the alcoholic version.

    4. ADD Sprite to fill the pitcher, stir gently and serve.
     
    PLANNING A WEDDING OR OTHER SPECIAL EVENT?

    Take a look at CocktailsDetails.com.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Piña Colada Jell-O Shots

    Jell-O Shots

    Pina Colada

    [1] You can make Piña Colada shots with rum, or with add more pineapple juice for a cocktail (photo courtesy BreadBoozeBacon.com). [2] The inspiration: a Piña Colada (photo courtesy Tommy Bahama).

     

    July 10th is National Piña Colada Day, which reminded us that we’d saved a recipe for Piña Colada Jell-O Shots.

    So today’s tip is: Return to youthful fun with Jell-O Shots. You can find recipes online for everything from Margarita to Whiskey Sour Jell-O Shots.

    We first tried another recipe but preferred this one from by Julie Kotzbach of BreadBoozeBacon.com. We also like that she made them in a pan and sliced them, instead of using paper or plastic cups.

    Note #1: Look at the pans or baking dishes you have. Julie used a 6×9″ pan. We used the 8″ square Pyrex baking dish we have.

    Note #2: While most shot recipes use Jell-O (hence the term Jell-O shots), there is none in this recipe. Unflavored gelatin is used instead.
     
    RECIPE: PIÑA COLADA JELL-O SHOTS

    Ingredients For 15 Shots

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cream of coconut (Coco Lopez, Coco Reàl*, etc.)
  • ¼ cup white rum or coconut rum (the different types of rum—substitute pineapple juice for a no-alcohol recipe)
  • 15 maraschino cherries, rinsed and dried (we used Tillen Farms’ with stems and just patted them dry)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the maraschino cherries: Pat dry, first rinsing as needed. Set aside on a paper towel.

    2. SPRINKLE the gelatin over the cold water in a small mixing bowl. Let the powder to soak in for 2 minutes.

    3. POUR the boiling water into the bowl and whisk constantly until the gelatin is dissolved. Then add the sugar, and whisk until dissolved.

    4. ADD the pineapple juice, cream of coconut and rum. Whisk to combine. Pour into a small baking pan (you can also use paper or plastic cups or mini jello molds).

    5. REFRIGERATE for 1 hour until the gelatin has thickened. Place the cherries evenly in 3 lines across the top. Refrigerate until completely set, at least 4 more hours or overnight.

     
    6. PLATE: Dip the bottom of the pan into warm water for 10 to 15 seconds. Run a sharp knife through the gelatin, parallel to the cherry lines, creating 3 strips. Cut each strip into squares. Use a small offset spatula to lift from the pan onto a serving dish. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
     
    CUTTING DOWN ON THE SUGAR

  • Coco Reàl makes a version of its cream of coconut using low-glycemic agave instead of sugar.
  • Smirnoff makes a light pineapple-coconut vodka. Drink it straight or mix it with a splash of coconut water or milk. It’s not a Jell-O Shot, but it is lower in calories. You also can experiment with your own “light” shot recipe.
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    WHO INVENTED THE JELL-O SHOT?

    The American singer-songwriter Tom Lehrer wrote about Jell-O shots in the 1950s, making them as a way to consume alcohol undetected on the Army base where he was stationed (no alcohol allowed).

    Jell-O shots seem like a modern concept, but Jell-O itself (flavored, sweetened gelatin) was invented in 1897. Beginning in the 1400s, gelatin (protein produced from collagen extracted from boiled animal bones and connective tissues) had been used to make desserts—a laborious undertaking.

    In 1862, the first modern cocktail recipe book was published in the U.S.: Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide.

    Jerry Thomas advised: “The strength of the punch is so artfully concealed by its admixture with the gelatine, that many persons, particularly of the softer sex, have been tempted to partake so plentifully of it as to render them somewhat unfit for waltzing or quadrilling after supper.” That sounds so much more charming than “falling-down drunk.”
     
    DON’T WANT TO MAKE JELL-O SHOTS?

    How about a Piña Colada dessert pizza?

     
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lactaid Ice Cream

    July is National Ice Cream Month, a time for celebration among ice cream lovers. But not for every one of us.

    According to research studies, 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Some have been that way since childhood; some lose the ability to digest lactose as adults.

    Says HealthDay.com, “The condition is so common—and so natural—that some doctors don’t even like to call lactose intolerance a disorder.

    But that’s no comfort to anyone who can no longer have cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt and even butter, including butter-rich foods such as buttercream frosting and caramels.

    Lactose intplerance cuts across ancestral lines, creating gastrointestinal problems in:

  • 70% of African Americans
  • 90% of Asian Americans
  • 53% of Mexican Americans
  • 74% of Native Americans
  • 20% of Caucasians, however…
  •  
    …people of Arab, Greek, Hispanic, Italian and Jewish ancestry have a much higher incidence than other groups.
     
    LACTOSE-FREE ICE CREAM FROM LACTAID

    Ice cream lovers: Eat all of the frozen delight you want, without incurring the distressing symptoms of lactose intolerance.

    (Second thought, eating too much could give you an ice cream headache or make your inner and outer mouth feel like Alaska in the winter.)

    Lactaid Ice Cream, made by Hood, is a delicious line. And what a choice:

    The Basics

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
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    The Mix-Ins

  • Butter Pecan
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
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    The New & Glorious

  • Berry Chocolate Crumble
  • Salted Caramel Chip
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    Ice Cream Lactose Intolerant

    Lactaid Ice Cream

    [1] Lactaid has delicious specialty flavors, like Berry Crumble and Salted Caramel Chip (photo courtesy NotQuiteSusie.com). [2] Chocolate and vanilla Lactaid (photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).

     

    The magic is simply that the brand adds lactase, a natural enzyme that is no longer produced by the stomach of lactose-intolerant people. It’s the same ingredient as in Lactose supplement pills. It helps break down the lactose so that dairy products are easily digested.

    Lactase has no impact on taste or texture. Unless they saw the carton, no one would know the products are lactose-free.
     
    Now…

    Have an ice cream cone, a shake or a sundae!

    Make ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cake!

    Eat ice cream straight from the carton!

    But there’s more!

     

    Lactose Free Sour Cream

    Lactose Free Cream Cheese

    [1] (photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com). [2] Photo courtesy MyLilikoiKitchen.com).

     

    MORE LACTOSE-FREE DAIRY FOODS

    From Lactaid

    Lactaid also makes lactose-free milk (0%, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate), low fat cottage cheese, and holiday nog.
     
    From Green Valley Organics

    Green Valley Organics adds still more lactose-free dairy options:

  • Cream cheese
  • Kefir
  • Lowfat and whole-milk yogurt
  • Sour cream
  •  
    Use the store locator on the home page to find a retailer near you.

    Might we add: No one would know all these products are lactose free.
     
    BOTH LACTAID & GREEN VALLEY PRODUCTS ARE DEE-LICIOUS.
     
    LIKE CHEESE?

    If you’re just mildly lactose intolerant, you may find that buffalo’s, goats’, and sheep’ milk cheeses are easier to digest than cow’s milk.

    If you’re substantially lactose intolerant, even cheeses with only 2% lactose can upset your stomach. The only 100% lactose-free cheese is Cheddar.

    Fortunately, it’s the most popular cheese in the U.S.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Mocktails

    In the heat* of the summer, not every cocktail fan wants alcohol; and not everyone drinks alcohol, preferring a cocktail.

    So mixologists created the most tempting mocktails we’ve seen: just like a creative cocktails served at hot spots.

    By layering complex flavors, you’ll never know the alcohol is missing. We’ve included two recipes below, created by Richard Woos for SushiSamba New York. You may utter words like “Where am I supposed to get these ingredients?”

    But use them as a guideline. Mixologists have many more ingredients to play with than we do. You can substitute, or be inspired to create something entirely different with coconut water, fruit juices, sweet herbs, etc. Think of the flavors you like and mix away!

    For those who want a bit of kick, add a shot of sochu (shochu), half the proof of vodka.

    These cocktails were created by Richard Woods for SUSHISAMBA NYC, so they have an Asian twist.
     
    RECIPE #1: SUU IZURU COCKRAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce aloe water/juice**
  • 1.5 ounces lychee juice
  • .5 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1 ounce pineapple and tarragon simple syrup†
  • 3-4 organic rose petals (no pesticide!)
  • Crushed ice
  • Garnish: dehydrated pineapple ring, large mint sprig, organic rose bud
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients and swizzle through crushed ice. Then swizzle in the rose petals.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

     

    Summer Mocktail

    Summer Mocktail

    [1] Aloe, lychee and yuzu are a glorious combination. [2] Yuzu and elderflower liqueur with a shiso garnish.

     
    RECIPE #2: YUSHI FIZZ

    This drink is a combination of two of our favorite flavors, yuzu and lychee, with a shiso garnish (thus the name, yu + shi). The elderflower liquer tastes very much like lychee liqueur (but better).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • .75 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1.5 ounces shiso sugar syrup
  • 1 bar spoon†† elderflower cordial (Saint-Germain is heavenly, and also great with Champagne)
  • 2 ounces soda water (club soda)
  • Ice
  • Optional garnishes: shisho leaf (substitute basil) or lychees on a pick
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SHAKE the first three ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Add the soda water and roll the shaker to blend.

    2. DOUBLE strain, garnish and serve.
     
    _____________________
    *Drinking alcohol makes you feel warmer as your blood alcohol level rises, but it does not actually raise your body temperature.

    **Aloe water is a great base for cocktails and cocktails—or for drinking straight. It’s also available in flavors, from the three major melons to strawberry and pineapple. NOTE: If you don’t like orange juice with pulp, you won’t like aloe water: It has pieces of aloe pulp.

    †Heres’s how to make simple syrup. You can infuse whatever you like in it. You can also purchase simple syrup. Sonoma Syrup Co. makes a multitude of flavors, from from ginger to lavender.

    ††A bar spoon is equivalent to a teaspoon, but has a much longer handle so it can mix ingredients in tall glasses. It’s typically stainless steel and the handle is twisted in a decorative way. Here’s a bar spoon photo.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Saké Sangria

    Sake Sangria

    Organic Sake

    Shochu

    [1] Saké, shochu and lychee liqueur combine with fruit to create Saké Sangria from Kabuki restaurants (photo courtesy Flavor & The Menu). [2] Organic saké from SakéOne. [3] Sochu from an article on the best sochu brands from Gear Patrol.

     

    On weekends, we try the cocktail recipes we publish. It’s tough work, but someone has to do it.

    Last weekend’s cocktail was an amped up version of a saké-based sangria from Kabuki restaurant. Saké, Japanese rice wine, is substituted for the red or white wine in a Spanish-style sangria (here’s the history of sangria).

    But that’s not all: This recipe adds sochu, a distilled spirit like vodka, but with a much lower proof.

    We’ve never been to a Kabuki restaurant. They’re located in Southern California, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.

    But after we perused the innovative sushi on their Facebook Page, we put it on our “must go” [when in the area] list.

    Until then, we adapted a sangria recipe from Kabuki’s Master Saké Sommelier, Yuji Matsumoto.

    Matsumoto’s Saké Sangria is a long-time favorite at the restaurant. It started as a limited-time-only drink, but was such a hit that it became a mainstay on the menu.
     
    WHAT IS SAKÉ SANGRIA?

    Made with seasonal fruits, saké, shochu and lychee liqueur, the drink is light and refreshing—just right for summer.

    If you don’t want to buy sochu, use the vodka you have—especially a fruit-flavored or vanilla vodka.

    Kabuki Signature Saké Sangria (fresh fruits, sake, shochu, grapefruit & cranberry juice)

    RECIPE: KABUKI-STYLE SAKÉ SANGRIA

    This recipe is an approximation: We didn’t get the recipe from Kabuki.

    However, sangria recipes are very versatile: You can use different ingredients in different proportions.

    Want pineapple or cantaloupe? Toss it in!

    Want more juiciness? Add cranberry, grapefruit, pomegranate or whatever juice you favor.

    No lychee liqueur or elderflower liqueur like Saint-Germain (which tastes much more lychee-like than the SOHO Lychee Liqueur we tried)? Use Grand Marnier.

    Other additions/substitutions: plum wine, hibiscus syrup, starfruit, fresh lychees in season, and so on.

    Since it’s summer, we used summer fruits. In the fall and winter, we’ll switch to apples, pears and blood oranges.

    Prep time 5 minutes, infusion is 8 hours or longer. Kabuki infuses the fruits for 72 hours!

    Ingredients For 5 Cocktails

  • 1 plum, pitted and sliced
  • 1 nectarine, pitted and sliced
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 bottle 750 milliliters Japanese saké
  • 1/4 cup sochu
  • 1/4 cup lychee liqueur
  • Optional: Ice cubes
  • Optional garnish: starfruit slice, orange slice, fresh blueberries, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1.ADD the fruit to a pitcher and top it with the liqueur, saké and shochu. Gently stir, cover and allow the fruit to marinate for 8 hours or longer. (At Kabuki the sangria is infused for 72 hours!)

    2. TASTE and adjust the sochu and liqueur as desired.

    3. GARNISH as desired and serve in a red wine glass.

    WHAT IS SOCHU?

    Sochu, also spelled shochu, is a neutral grain spirt like vodka. But at half the proof of vodka, it’s a great solution to keep a crowd sober, longer.

    Shochu has a 24% alcohol content (double the alcohol content to get the proof), compared to vodka at 40% and saké at 15%.

    If you use vodka often, we highly recommend trying it. Here’s more about sochu.

     
    WHAT IS KABUKI?

    Kabuki is a form of traditional Japanese theater that originated during the 17th century, during Japan’s the Edo Period.

    Theater troupes dressed in extravagant costumes and supernatural makeup, and acted stories of love, moral conflicts and historical events.
     
    _____________________
    *Thanks to Kabuki and Flavor & The Menu for the inspiration.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream Cake Sundae

    We love this idea from Little Park restaurant in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City.

    The chef created Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream: cinnamon ice cream topped with cinnamon toast croutons. Building on that idea, we say:

    Celebrate July, National Ice Cream Month, with an Ice Cream Cake Sundae.
     
    Make the easiest ice cream cake ever, with ice cream and loaf cake layers in sundae dishes, and toasted cake croutons for the topping.

    We served it over July 4th weekend, and guests are clamoring for more. Perhaps it’s time for us to start a tradition of ice cream socials.

  • If you don’t have sundae dishes or other glass bowls, consider wine goblets or other glassware.
  • In addition to croutons made from toasted loaf cake, we cut thin layers from the untoasted loaf to layer in the sundae dishes.
  • We set out the toppings on a lazy susan. We scooped the ice cream and layered the cake, and everyone “dressed their own.”
  • Our recipe follows. You can do it more simply with just one flavor of ice cream and cake, and no toppings.
  •  
    RECIPE: ICE CREAM CAKE SUNDAE

    Ingredients

  • Ice cream flavor(s) of choice
  • Loaf cake(s) of choice
  •  
    Optional Toppings

  • Chocolate sauce (we used Somebody’s Mother’s*)
  • Caramel sauce (we used King’s Cupboard*)
  • Raspberry sauce (a quick purée with a bit of sugar)
  • Fresh berries
  • Whipped cream (we used both chocolate and original flavors of Reddi-Wip)
  •  
    _____________________
    *Both dessert sauce lines are NIBBLE Top Picks Of The Week. Here’s the Somebody’s Mother’s review and the Kings Cupboard review.
     

    Preparation

     

    Cinnamon Ice Cream

    Blueberry Banana Bread

    Reddi-Wip Flavors

    [1] The Ice Cream Cake Sundae (photo courtesy Little Park | NYC). [2] Buy or bake a loaf cake (photo courtesy Driscoll’s Berries). [3] Reddi-Wip flavors (photo courtesy ConAgraFoods).

     
    1. SELECT your ice cream flavors and loaf cakes. We chose the basics—chocolate, coffee and vanilla ice cream. For the loaf cakes: carrot cake, chocolate cake and pound cake loaf cakes (we couldn’t find a good banana loaf).

    2. SLICE some of the loaf cake(s) into 1/4″ to 3/4 inch slices. These are the cake layers, and the number you’ll need depends on the number of guests and how many slices fit in each serving dish. Wrap them in airtight plastic and set aside.

    3. CUT the remaining loaf(s) in as many 3/4″ to 1″ slices as you’ll need. Lightly toast the slices and let cool completely. Then cut them into the crouton size you like (we cut 3/4″ squares), and store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve.

    4. SERVE: Per the order of each participant, we scooped ice cream on top of pound cake layers. Don’t worry about exact size: You can push the layers into the sundae dish.

    5. TELL participants to go forth and garnish!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 20 Other Uses For Hot Dog Rolls

    Hot Dog Bun Enchiladas

    Pizza Hot Dog

    Salad Sandwich

    Peanut  Butter Sandwich

    [1] Chicken enchilada fixings in a hot dog roll (photo courtesy KingsHawaiian.com). [2] Pepperoni pizza ingredients in a hot dog roll (photo courtesy SimplyStacie.net). [3] Salad on a hot dog roll (photo courtesy Bitemore.com). [4] Peanut butter, bacon and banana on a hot dog roll (photo courtesy Huffington Post).

     

    July is National Hot Dog Month, so be sure to get your fill.

    When you have extra rolls without hot dogs, brats or other sausages to grace them, you can stick them in the freezer.

    You can also turn them into bread pudding, panzanella (bread salad), croutons or bread crumbs, and any number of recipes requiring bread, from gazpacho to romesco sauce.

    But today, we’ve thought outside the box in terms of fillings, and present 20 alternative fillings for your hot dog rolls.

    TIP: If the preparation doesn’t already require toasting/grilling, most of these preparations will be better with toasted or grilled rolls.

  • Buffalo Roll: Chicken tenders, blue cheese dressing, diced celery.
  • Breakfast “Burrito”: Scrambled eggs, bacon/sausage, salsa or other garnish.
  • Breakfast Toast: Serve a toasted roll with your favorite breakfast spreads.
  • Bruschetta or Crostini (the difference): Add your favorite toppings and eat them sandwich-style. You can cut them in half for serving.
  • Carrot Dogs: vegan recipe.
  • Cheese Sticks: recipe.
  • Chili (without the dog, but with the cheese and onions).
  • Faux Enchiladas Or Tacos: replace the tortilla with the roll.
  • French Toast or breakfast pastries.
  • Fruit Rolls: toast, spread with honey and add fresh fruit.
  • Garlic bread: One roll creates a mini garlic bread “loaf.”
  • Green Salad Roll: put all the ingredients on a toasted roll (go light on the vinaigrette): Cobb Salad, Chef Salad, Greek Salad, Spinach Salad.
  • Grilled Cheese.
  • Grilled Fish Or Seafood: Top it with tartar sauce or seafood sauce (instead of a lobster roll, try more affordable seafood).
  • Other Foods Not Eaten On Bread: Try Bean salad, ratatouille—check the fridge.
  • Panini: Add sandwich fillings, butter the outsides and grill the roll on a panini press.
  • Pizza Roll: Fill with your favorite pizza topping, sauce and mozzarella; microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese.
  • Sandwiches Made With Other Types Of Rolls: Barbecue, chicken parm, cubano, meatball, po’boy, Sloppy Joe, etc.
  • Sandwiches Made With Sliced Bread: Ham and cheese, PB&J, tuna, etc. Try a PB and banana sandwich, using the entire banana like a hot dog.
  • Southern Bird Dogs (recipe).
  •  
    We avoided ideas like these cheese fries in a hot dog roll, as well as spaghetti rolls and chicken chow mein on a hot dog roll. But you still can have fun with it: See the Frog Sandwich photo below.

     
    GARNISH, GARNISH, GARNISH

    Whatever you put into your hot dog roll, consider garnishes to top it:

  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • Diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, bell peppers
  • Leftover grains, vegetables
  • Pickles and/or sliced olives
  • Chutney or relish
  • Salsa
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded lettuce, slaw
  •  

     

    BUNS, ROLLS AND BISCUITS: THE DIFFERENCE

    You may have noticed that we use the word roll instead of bun to denote hot dog-specific bread.

    There is no official difference: Both are single-serve breads, and the FDA only stipulates that buns and rolls weigh less than one-half pound (loaves of bread must weigh one pound or more).

    Manufacturers and retailers use whichever term they want. However, the American Institute of Baking uses this distinction:

  • “Rolls” is generally applied to individual breads that hold a filling—either pre-filled like cinnamon rolls from sandwich bread like Kaiser rolls. The notable exception is hot cross buns, which are filled with currants or raisins. (Editor’s note: The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” appears in 1733, when there was no distinction. Because there is no official standard, there are many exceptions, from hot dog an hamburger buns (should be rolls) to hot cross buns (filled with currants).
  • “Buns” typically do not contain a filling, but can be eaten plain, with a spread (butter, jam), or used as a sop*.
  • Bunne was the word used in Middle English. The use of roll to describe a small bread came much later. The oldest reference we could find is to Parker House rolls, in 1873.
  • Biscuits use a different leavening. Biscuits use baking powder to rise; buns and rolls use yeast.
  • Texture: Rolls can be hard (crusty) or soft, buns are soft, and biscuits are pillowy soft (from the baking powder).
  •  
    HOT DOG RECIPES (WITH ACTUAL HOT DOGS)

  • Bacon Cheese Dogs
  • Cubano Dog
  • Gourmet Hot Dogs 1
  • Gourmet Hot Dogs 2
  • Italian Hot Dogs
  • Mini Corn Dogs
  • Tater Tot Hot Dog Skewers
  • Top 10 Hot Dog Toppings
  •  

    Southern Bird Dog

    Salami Sandwich

    Frog Sandwich

    [1] The Southern Bird Dog is filled with chicken tenders and bacon (photo courtesy JamHands.com). [2] Use extra hot dog rolls for your sandwiches (photo courtesy GlutenFreeDairyFreeNJ.Blogspot.com). [3] Have fun: a cheese sandwich on a hot dog roll (photo courtesy TheChaosAndTheClutter.com).

     
    _____________________
    *“Sop” indicates a piece of bread or other solid used to wipe up a liquid food: gravy, sauce, soup, stew, etc. It is the source of the words supper, soup and sopping (drenched). It evolved from the Old English soppian, “bread soaked in some liquid.”

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Red, White & Blue Cupcakes For Patriotic Occasions

    HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

    These red, white and blue cupcakes are an eye- and palate-pleaser for any patriotic occasion.

    And they’re easy to make, with just the added step of dividing cake mix into three bowls and coloring two of them. We chose a frosting of stabilized whipped cream, stiffened with gelatin (it won’t collapse) and topped the cupcakes with red, white and blue decorations.

    RECIPE: PATRIOTIC CUPCAKES

    Ingredients For The Cupcakes

  • 1 box white cake mix (or your own white cake recipe)
  • Red and blue gel food coloring (see notes in the last section)
  • Icing
  • Decorative sprinkles or stars
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 Cups Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  •  
    Plus

  • Cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a cupcake pan with paper liners. Place the cream in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to whipping (it will whip better).

    2. PREPARE the cake batter and divide it into three bowls. Use blue and red gel food coloring in two of the bowls (see notes about gel-paste below.)

    3. ADD one tablespoon blue batter to the each cupcake liner and spread evenly (we used a plastic teaspoon). Follow with a tablespoon of white batter, and a red layer on top of that, taking care not to mix the colors as you spread them.

    4. BAKE per cake recipe instructions and cool. While the cupcakes cool…

    5. MAKE the stabilized whipped cream frosting. Place the cold water in a small pan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let it thicken; then place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool, but do not allow it to set.

    6. WHIP the cream with the powdered sugar, until slightly thick. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream. Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.

    7. DECORATE and serve.

     

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

    July 4th Cupcakes

    American Flag Cupcakes

    [1] Red, white and blue layered cupcake (photo Elegant Affairs Caterers | Facebook). [2] Even easier options: red fruit atop white frosting (photo GoBoldWithButter.com) and [3] cupcake “flag” (photo Sprinkles Cupcakes).

     
    WANT A RED, WHITE & BLUE LAYER CAKE INSTEAD OF CUPCAKES?

  • White layer cake, filled with raspberry and blueberry preserves.
  • White-frosted stack cake with red and blue berry topping.
  • Lemon loaf layer cake with white filling and red and blueberry topping.
  •  
    WHY USE SOFT GEL INSTEAD OF LIQUID FOOD COLOR

    The typical food colors available in supermarkets are water-based liquids that work well for most purposes. In many recipes, you use so little of it that the teaspoon or so of water isn’t going to impact the outcome of the recipe.

    But if you are looking for intense color—such as in red velvet cake—you need to use a lot of liquid to get the vibrant color. Too much liquid will alter the consistency of cake, candies, donuts and deep-colored frostings.

  • Soft gel food coloring (sometimes called liquid gel, not to be confused with the conventional liquid food color) delivers a deep, rich color without thinning the batter or frosting.
  • Gel paste food coloring is very concentrated and provides even deeper, more vivid colors than soft gel. It should be used in very small quantities.
  • Powdered food coloring is another very concentrated option that is often used to decorate cookies.
  •  
    You can often find gel food colors in craft stores, as well as in baking supplies stores and online, where you can buy red only or the four basic food colors. Wilton sells a set of eight gel colors, as well as neon and pastel sets. Don’t substitute one for another, unless you have time to test the results.
     
    TIPS FOR COLORING ICING

  • If exact color is important, mix the color in daylight so you can see the true hue.
  • Start with less color and adjust as you go.
  • Note that the longer the icing sits, the stronger the color will be. Proceed accordingly.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Ketchup For Your Cookout

    Homemade Ketchup

    Burger & Sweet Potato Fries

    Hot Dogs With Ketchup

    [1] Homemade ketchup [2] with burgers (photos courtesy GoodEggs) and [3] on franks (photo courtesy Applegate).

     

    If you’re considering making something for a cookout, how about homemade ketchup?

    You can make your own ketchup in just ten minutes of prep time, plus 45 minutes of cooking. You can choose a better sweetener, avoiding high fructose corn syrup by substituting agave*, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup or non-caloric sweetener.

    And you can add specialty seasonings such as chipotle, curry, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño and sriracha.

    The following recipe is from Good Eggs of San Francisco. Here’s an alternative ketchup recipe made with honey (instead of brown sugar and molasses), cloves (instead of cumin) and coconut oil (instead of olive oil).

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE TOMATO KETCHUP

    Ingredients For 1 Pint

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  •  
    Flavor Variations

    Instead of the allspice, cloves and cumin, you can flavor the ketchup with other seasonings.

    Divide the base ketchup into half-cup test batches and test different flavors. Flavoring a half cup at a time enables you to adjust the seasonings to your particular taste.

  • Chipotle Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, chipotle chile powder and lime juice
  • Cranberry Ketchup: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.
  • Curry Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice.
  • Garlic Ketchup: 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice.
  • Horseradish Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish.
  • Jalapeño Ketchup: 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned jalapeños, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • Sriracha Ketchup: 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
  •  
    You can also make hickory-smoke ketchup with liquid smoke, add lemon zest, and so forth.
    _____________________
    *When using agave, use half the amount since it’s twice as sweet as the other sweeteners.
     
    Preparation

    1. ADD 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot and place over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook for 3 minutes, until translucent; then add the garlic.

    2. AFTER another 4 minutes, add the tomatoes (including the liquid), vinegar, salt, allspice, cayenne and black pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat, until the tomatoes have broken down. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

    3. POUR the mixture into a blender and pulse until it’s a smooth purée. Be careful: Blending a hot liquid requires extra attention. Using a dish towel, hold down the lid tightly. An immersion blender is a superior alternative for puréeing hot liquids.

    4. POUR the purée back into the pot and add the the brown sugar and molasses. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes uncovered, until the mixture has thickened. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week.
     
    THE HISTORY OF KETCHUP

    The concept was brought to England from Southeast Asia in the late 1600s, and had no tomatoes. The first printed recipe for kachop was an early version of what we know as Worcestershire Sauce.

    Check out the history of ketchup.
     
      

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