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Archive for Gourmet Foods

TIP OF THE DAY: Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

When you encounter a bumper crop of tomatoes or see a great sale on tomatoes past their peak: roast them! You can use any fresh tomato: beefsteak, cherry, grape, plum, roma; conventional or heirloom.

Healthful and delicious, you can serve them as a side with anything, add them to salads and pasta, serve them with a cheese course, and on and on.

There are so many ways to use this basic recipe. Some of our favorites:

  • Sprinkle with coarse and crunchy or seasoned salt and/or fresh-ground pepper and serve as an antipasto or salad course
  • Blend with simmered with onions, red wine and herbs for a flavorful tomato sauce.
  • Use as a pizza topping.
  • Chop and add to risotto.
  • Serve with a cheese plate.
  • Serve with your favorite soft cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and fine olive oil.
  • Use as a general garnish, plate décor or side.
  •  
    RECIPE: OVEN-ROASTED TOMATOES

    This slow-roasted recipe requires 20 minutes prep time and 1 hour of cook time. It makes enough for leftovers, which can be added hot to pasta, cool to burgers, salads and sandwiches. Use them within a week.

    Roast a mix of sizes and colors for a more beautiful presentation.

    Ingredients For 10 Servings

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, any type
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (substitute basil, marjoram, oregano or savory)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center. Line a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. PREPARE the tomatoes: Wash, remove any stems and slice them in half lengthwise (with large tomatoes, make a few thick slices). Gently scoop out the seeds with a small spoon. Set the tomatoes, cut side up, in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the thyme and garlic.

    3. ROAST for 40 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Continue to until the tomatoes caramelize, about 20 minutes.

    4. TURN off the oven and let the tomatoes sit inside for 10 minutes. Remove the pan to a rack and let cool completely.
     
    PLUM TOMATOES & ROMA TOMATOES: THE DIFFERENCE

    If you wonder why plum tomatoes (a.k.a. Italian plum tomatoes) and roma tomatoes look the same, it’s because for the most part, they are.

    The plum tomato can be oval or cylindrical, while the roma is oval or pear-shaped. Their vines are slightly different.

    They are meatier subspecies, with less liquid and seeds than other tomatoes. That’s why they’re preferred for canning and for tomato sauce.
     
    FUN TOMATO FACTS

    The scientific name of the tomato is Solanum lycopersicum. Individual sizes from cherry to beefsteak are subspecies of lycopersicum.

    Tomatoes are members of the Solanaceae family, popularly called the nightshades. Botanically they are berry*-type fruits.

    Other edible nightshades include eggplant, naranjilla, potato (but not sweet potato), tomatillo.

    Another popular nightshade is the chile pepper: hot and sweet varieties and the spices and condiments made from them, such as cayenne, chili powder, hot sauce and paprika.

    Tomatoes originated in the Andes Mountains of Peru, where thousands of different types grew wild. They were first cultivated by the Incas and spread to Central America, the Aztec Empire.

     

    Beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes

    Cherry Tomatoes

    Roasted Tomatoes Recipe

    Heirloom Plum Tomatoes

    [1] Beautiful heirloom tomatoes (photo courtesy The Chef’s Garden). [2] Simple roasting produces glorious results (photo courtesy Hidden Valley). [3] Roasted cherry tomatoes (photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco). [4] Heirloom roma tomatoes (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

     
    The tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica), a cousin in the Solanaceae family, grew wild in Central America. It was cultivated by the Aztecs and called tomatl (pronounced to-MAH-tay).

    When the Aztecs began to cultivate the red berry* from the Andes, they called the new species xitomatl (hee-toe-MAH-tay), meaning “plump thing with navel” or “fat water with navel.”

    The Spanish arriving in what is now Mexico called the tomato tomatl (spelled tomate). The Spanish called the smaller green fruit, called tomatl by the Aztecs, tomatillo.

    Tomate first appeared in print (in Spanish) in 1595 [source and a deeper discussion].
     
    __________________
    *The scientific use of “berry” differs from common usage. In botany, a berry is a fruit produced from the ovary of a single flower. The outer layer of the ovary wall (the pericarp) develops into an edible fleshy portion. Thus, “berry” includes many fruits that are not commonly thought of as berries, including bananas, cucumbers, eggplants, grapes, tomatillos and and tomatoes. Paradoxically, fruits not included in the botanical definition include strawberries and raspberries, which are not true berries [source].

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Recipes For National Creamsicle Day

    Creamsicle Cheesecake Recipe

    Creamsicle Cheesecake

    Creamsicle Milkshake

    [1] How about a Creamsicle cheesecake for National Creamsicle Day? Here’s the recipe (photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts). [2] This recipe from Cook’s Country layers the cake, sherbet and ice cream in a springform pan lined with lady fingers. [3] Prefer a drink? Try a Creamicle shake or cocktail (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma).

     

    The Creamsicle® was created by the Popsicle Corporation, established in the Depression by Frank Epperson, who had invented the Popsicle®. The vanilla ice cream pop, coated with orange sherbet, became a sensation.

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

    But in the Wild West of online recipes, anything goes.

    Here’s more Creamsicle history.

    Since August 14th is also National Creamsicle Day, take a look at other Creamsicle-inspired food.
     
    FAVORITE CREAMSICLE VARIATIONS

    The easiest, and a favorite of ours, is a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream and orange sorbet (mango sorbet is a great substitute).

    You can also make vanilla cupcakes with orange frosting or top vanilla ice cream with orange liqueur.

    Here are more celebratory recipes:

  • Creamsicle Cheesecake
  • Creamsicle Cocktail
  • Creamsicle Ice Cream Cake
  • Creamsicle Milkshake (recipe below)
  •  
    Also check out fior di Sicilia, an Italian essence used to flavor baked goods and beverages. Its flavor and aroma are reminiscent of a Creamsicle.
     
    RECIPE: CREAMSICLE MILKSHAKE

    Make this recipe, from Williams-Sonoma kitchens, in 5 to 10 minutes.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup orange sherbet, firmly packed
  • 1/3 cup milk, plus more as needed
  • Optional garnish: orange wheel/wedge or whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a blender and process on the low setting. If the shake is too thick, add more milk until the desired consistency is reached.

    2. POUR the shake into a tall glass and garnish as desired.

     
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Tomato Clafoutis

    Clafoutis (cluh-FOO-tee) is a rustic tart, initially made with cherries in the Limousin region of south-central France, where black cherry trees abound.

    Today, other stone fruits and berries are also used. When other kinds of fruit are used instead of cherries—apples, berries, pears, other stone fruits including prunes—dried plums—the dish is properly called a flaugnarde (flow-NYARD).

    In the centuries before ceramic pie plates were invented (during the Renaissance), the filling was placed into a hand-crafted dough with no sides (think of a galette, or a pizza with a higher side crust).

    The fruit is placed in a pie shell and covered with a flan (custard)-like filling; then baked until puffy. The fruit is not only inside the custard, but tempting nuggets pop through at the top.

    The recipe originated in the Limousin region of France, where black cherries were plentiful (red cherries can also be used). The name derives from the verb clafir, to fill, from the ancient language of Occitania, the modern southern France.

    Fruit clafoutis can be served warm, room temperature or chilled; vegetable clafoutis are better warm.
     
    RECIPE: SAVORY TOMATO CLAFOUTIS

    A savory clafoutis is similar to a quiche. Without a crust it is a savory custard, and can be made in a pie plate or in individual ramekins.

    This recipe was contributed by Karen, FamilyStyle Food to Go Bold With Butter, a source of wonderful recipes.

    Karen made the dish as a custard, without a crust. You can do the same, or use a pie crust or a crust of crushed biscuits/crackers.

    Prep Time is 10 minutes, cook time is 55 minutes. Serve it warm from the oven or room temperature, for brunch, lunch or dinner, or as a first course or snack.

    For a more artistic presentation, use cherry tomatoes in an assortment of colors. You can also combine cherry and grape tomatoes.

     
    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes in assorted colors, halved
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Kosher salt or seasoned salt*
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
  • Optional crust
  • Optional garnish: marinated tomato “salad”†
  •  
    __________________
    *We used rosemary salt, a blend of sea salt and rosemary. You can make your own by pulsing dried rosemary (or other herb) and coarse salt in a food processor. Start with a 1:3 ratio and add more rosemary to taste.

    †We cut up the leftover tomatoes and marinated them with diced red onion and fresh herbs in a vinaigrette of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Drain it thoroughly through a sieve and then use it as a topping or a side garnish.

     

    Cherry Clafoutis

    Mixed Berry Clafoutis

    roasted-tomato-clafoutis-goboldwbutter-230

    [1] A classic clafoutis, a custard tart with black cherries (here’s the recipe from FoodBeam.com). [2] This mixed berry clafoutis is from The Valley Table, which highlights the cuisine of New York’s Hudson Valley. It is garnished with fresh berries and a side of crème fraîche. [3]A tomato clafoutis with flavorful summer tomatoes (photo courtesy FamilyStyleFood.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Prick the bottom of the pie shell all over with a fork. Line the bottom with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until the crust begins to color around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside and raise the oven temperature to 400°F.

    2. TOSS the tomatoes and butter on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt to taste. Roast 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and begin to caramelize. Transfer the tomatoes to 9-inch round or square baking dish, or set aside until Step 5.

    3. REDUCE the oven temperature to 375°F. Whisk the egg yolks, 1 teaspoon salt and the sugar in large bowl until lightened and creamy. Stir in the flour, 3 tablespoons of the Parmesan and the cream.

    4. BEAT the egg whites in separate bowl or heavy-duty mixer until they form soft peaks. Fold into yolk mixture until blended. Pour batter over tomatoes and sprinkle with basil.

    5. BAKE 18-20 minutes or until batter is puffed and light golden. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top and serve warm.
     
    CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF PIE

    Invented by the ancient Egyptians, for some 2,000 years food was not baked in containers (e.g. pie plates, baking pans), but completely wrapped in dough. The dough wrap was called a coffin, the word for a basket or box.

    Here’s the scoop.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Filet Mignon “Sculpture” For National Filet Mignon Day

    Here’s some food fun for National Filet Mignon Day, August 13th:

    Instead of serving the meat flat on the plate, create a filet mignon “sculpture”: a commemoration of the tenderest cut of beef.

    In this example from Rue 57 restaurant in New York City, the filet is set against a mound of mashed potatoes, and surrounded by:

  • Jus
  • Pearl onions
  • Peas
  •  
    Two croutons (toasted baguette or ficelle slices) garnish the dish, but you can crown the mashed potatoes with sprig of chive, rosemary or thyme instead.

    You can tailor the dish any way you like. For example:

  • Serve the jus on the side.
  • Add mushrooms or other vegetables.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT BEEF CUTS IN OUR BEEF GLOSSARY.
     
    WHAT IS JUS?

    Jus, pronounced ZHOO, is the French word for juice. With meat or poultry, it refers to a thin gravy or sauce made from the meat juices.

    The fat is skimmed from the pan juices and the remaining stock is boiled into a sauce, adding water as desired.

    Some cooks use additional ingredients to add flavor; for example, brown or white sugar, garlic, herbs, onion, salt and pepper, soy sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce. Our mother was fond of Gravy Master.

    In France, it would be argued that such additions are not jus, but a more complex sauce.

     

    French Dip Sandwich

    [1] Honor filet mignon on its national holiday, August 13th (photo courtesy Rue 57). [2] The French Dip sandwich, roast beef on baguette with a side of jus for dipping. Here’s the recipe from One Perfect Bite.

     
    “Au jus” (owe-zhoo) is the French culinary term that describes serving the meat with its pan juices.
     
    CAN YOU NAME THE AMERICAN SANDWICH THAT IS SERVED AU JUS?

    In the U.S., jus is served as a side in a small bowl, with a French dip sandwich: a roast beef sandwich on a hero roll or baguette.

    Here’s how the French Dip originated: another happy accident.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT SANDWICH TYPES IN OUR SANDWICH GLOSSARY.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Getting Political With Snapple

    Through Election Day (November 8th), you can drink to your political party with Snapple TEAcision 2016.

    The new limited-edition flavors from Snapple include:

  • Blue Fruit Tea, a blend of blueberry and blackberry flavors
  • Red Fruit Tea, a blend of pomegranate, cherry and raspberry
  •  
    These “political” flavors follow on the heels of of the “patriotic” July 4th special edition, Oh Say Can You Tea, a black tea with strawberry flavor and a hint of mint.

    That flavor had this Snapple Real Fact on the back of the bottle cap: In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to dance to the National Anthem.

    What’s under the caps of Snapple TEAcision 2016?

    You’ll have to try them to find out!

    Stock up for election results-watching.

     

    Snapple TEAcision 2016

    Drink to your party with TEAcision 2016 (photo courtesy Snapple).

     

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Lemon Drop Cocktail

    Blueberry Lemon Drop Recipe

    Highbush Blueberries

    Lemon Drops

    [1] A Blueberry Lemon Drop vodka cocktail. [2] Fresh highbush blueberries (photos courtesy U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council). [3] Lemon Drop candies (photo LettuceTemptYou | Tumblr).

     

    The Lemon Drop cocktail is a relatively new one, invented in the 1970s at Henry Africa’s bar in San Francisco.

    It is named after old-fashioned lemon drop candy: lemon-shaped hard candies sanded (coated) with very fine sugar. No doubt, it’s why the cocktail version is often made with a sugar rim.

    A sweet-and-sour vodka-based cocktail, it combines using lemon juice, triple sec, simple syrup and vodka (in this recipe, lower-glycemic* agave syrup replaces the simple syrup).

    Variations such as the Blueberry Lemon Drop and the Raspberry Lemon Drop followed.

    For more complex flavor, replace the agave with ginger or lavender simple syrup.

    The drink is served straight up in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass.

     
    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY LEMON DROP COCKTAIL

    This recipe was contributed by Erin Rebecca of PlatingsAndPairings.com.

    Variations can be made with any muddled blueberries or puréed fruit. Blueberry and raspberry are two popular versions.
     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 frozen blueberries, thawed slightly
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: rosemary sprig and fresh blueberries for garnish
  • Optional rim: superfine† sugar
  • __________________

    *A better choice than sugar is agave nectar, a low-glycemic natural sweetener from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a glycemic index (GI) of 32; half that of table sugar (GI 60-65). Honey has a GI of 58, pure maple syrup has a GI of 54.

    †If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can pulse regular table sugar in the food processor.
    __________________
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the optional sugar rim by moistening the rim of a Martini glass and twisting it in a shallow dish of superfine* sugar.

    2. MUDDLE the blueberries and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka and agave and fill the cocktail shaker with ice.

    3. SHAKE well and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and blueberries.

     
    Find more blueberry recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE LEMON DROP

    The lemon drop was the first candy sold commercially in the U.S., in 1806. The hard candy was made in lemon and peppermint flavors by a confectioner in Salem, Massachusetts, and called the Salem Gibralter [sic].

    According to Wikipedia, modern lemon drops, like most hard candies we know today, evolved from ancient medicinal lozenges. Eighteenth century advances in sugar technology made hard sugar concoctions possible.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Fruit Tart Recipe

    Yesterday, August 11th, was National Raspberry Tart Day. It follows on the heels of National Raspberry Cake Day (July 31st), National Raspberry Pie Day (August 1st) and National Raspberries & Cream Day (August 7th).

    We celebrated with a homemade raspberry tart. It took fewer than 20 minutes. Thanks go to our dear friend Carol, who taught us the too-good-to-be-so-easy recipe below, many years ago.

    All you need is a shortbread crust, raspberries and a jar of apple jelly. The jelly is melted into a light coat of glaze, which not only adds shine but keeps the fruit from drying out

    Prep time is 15 minutes to make and bake the crust, plus cooling time and 5 more minutes fill the crust with fruit and brush the fruit with melted jelly.

    It’s one of our go-to desserts, whenever we need something quick and impressive.
     
    WHAT ABOUT TARTLETS?

    There’s actually an even faster way to celebrate: Make tartlets (individual tarts). Buy pre-made tart shells and fill them with fruit curd, jam or preserves (the difference).

    It’s hard to find buttery shells ready-made. Our favorite is Clearbrook Farms bite-size mini tartlet shells. If you buy a brand that you think isn’t great for dessert, you can fill the shells with chicken salad or other savory food, from scrambled eggs to Seafood Newburg.

    But just get out the butter and make your own shell. Show off the fresh fruits as they deserve.
     
    USE BERRIES OR STONE FRUITS IN THIS RECIPE

    You can make this recipe with soft fruit, such as berries and ripe stone fruits (nectarines, peaches, plums, etc.).

    Other fruits, like apples and pears, need to be baked to become soft enough for pastries.

    You can mix different fruits together in whatever artistic combinations you like.
     
    TART PAN TIPS

  • If you don’t already have a tart pan, buy a good one. Cheaper ones can be flimsy and rust-prone. The pan will serve you for the rest of your life, for tarts, quiches, and as an extra pie pan in a pinch.
  • Buy a large pan: 10 to 12 inches.
  • If you don’t have or want a tart pan, you can use a pie pan, but it won’t have the classic shape: straight sides and a perfect fluted crust.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE THE DIFFERENCESBETWEEN PIES & TARTS.
     
    RECIPE: EASIEST TART FOR BERRIES & STONE FRUITS

    Ingredients

  • 2 pints (4 cups) berries or equivalent sliced stone fruit, plus extra*
  • 1 jar apple jelly
  •  
    For The Crust

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  •  
    Optional

  • Filling base: almond cream (frangipanerecipe) or pastry cream (crème pâtissiére) recipe
  • Cream cheese filling (†recipe below)
  • Garnish: chopped pistachios, crème fraîche or mascarpone
  •    
    Easy Raspberry Tart

    Raspberry Curd Tart

    Fruit Curd Tartlet

    Apple Jelly

    [1] An easy raspberry tart from Lottie And Doof. A tart pan has a removable bottom to show off the fluted edges of the crust. [2] Another easy way: make tartlets (individual portions) with fruit curd. You can buy both the shells and the curd, but here’s the recipe from from-scratch recipeSnixyKitchen.com. [3] This tartlet from Ostyeria Morini in New York City is served à la mode. [4] Versatile apple jelly makes a delicious fruit glaze (photo courtesy Smucker’s).

     
    __________________
    * Because different diameter pans require different amounts of fruit, buy an extra pint or pound “just in case.” You can serve it to guests who avoid baked desserts, or enjoy it yourself tomorrow.

    †Combine 8 ounces of softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

     

    Raspberry Jam Tartlet

    Mini Tartlets Lemon Curd

    [1] You can fill tartlets or mini tartlets with jam (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Mini tartlets filled with lemon curd (photo courtesy Aida Mollenkamp).

     

    Preparation

    1. WASH the berries and pat dry gently with paper towels; use fresh paper towels to further drain; set aside. If using stone fruit, slice, skin on, and place in a bowl.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Combine the crust ingredients and press the dough into a tart pan. Bake it for 12-15 minutes, until light golden brown (not beige). Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. When it reaches room temperature…

    3. FILL the crust. If using an optional base (cream cheese, pastry cream, etc.), use a spatula to fill the bottom of the crust. Then set the fruit in concentric circles or other attractive pattern.

    4. MAKE the glaze. Melt the apple jelly and use a pastry brush to brush it over the fruit.
     
    TARTS, TARTLETS & MINI TARTS: THE DIFFERENCE

  • Tart. A tart is a multi-portion dessert, made in a fluted pan with a removable bottom. As with a pie, it is sliced into individual portions. The crust is thicker than a pie and the tart can stand on its own outside of the pan. Typical tart pan sizes are 8, 9, 10 or 11 inches in diameter.
  • Tartlet. A tartlet is an individual-size tart, typically 4 to 4.75 inches in diameter. The bottom may or may not be removable.
  • Mini Tartlet. A mini-tartlet is a bite-size tartlet, approximately 1.75 inches in diameter, made in mini tartlet pans. The bottom is not removable but it’s easy to lift out the pastry.
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Drupes, a.k.a. Stone Fruits

    Note: Before calling attention to the Prunus genus of delectable summer fruits, there’s a botany lesson. We love brief glimpses of botany in food writing!

    In botany, a drupe—the botanical name for stone fruit—is a fruit in which an outer fleshy part (exocarp, or skin; and mesocarp, or flesh) surrounds a shell (called the pit, stone, or pyrene) of a hardened endocarp with a seed (kernel) inside.

    A picture is worth a thousand words, so check out the third photo.

    There are two main classes of fleshy fruits: drupes and berries.

  • Drupes are characterized by having a fleshy mesocarp but a tough-leathery or bony endocarp. They are said to have “stones” or “pits” rather than seeds (example: peaches). A drupe usually has a single seed.
  • Berries, to the contrary, are characterized by having a fleshy endocarp, as well as mesocarp, and may have more than one seed.
  •  
    Yet, you can’t assume too much. Avocado is a berry: It does not have a stony endocarp (the pit or stone) covering the seed—as those who have tried growing a plant from the seed are well aware.

    Drupes are members of the Rosaceae family, also called the rose family. The family includes both ornamental shrubs and trees, and those with edible fruits.

    Drupes are members of the genus Prunus. Strawberries are cousins from another genus; apples, pears and quince from another; and loquats from yet another.

    DRUPES YOU’VE EATEN

    Drupes are popular fruits in the U.S. and Europe. The family includes:

  • Hand fruits: apricot, cherry, damson, nectarine, peach, plum and hybrids like apriums, plumcots and pluots
  • Tropical fruits: coconut, mango
  • Surprise drupes (typically not eaten raw): almonds*, coffee†, hickory nuts*, olives, pecans*, most palms (including date, sabal, coconut and oil palms), pistachios*, walnuts*
  • Exotic (in the U.S.): jujube, white sapote
  •  
    Let’s move on, leaving drupes behind in favor of stone fruits, the genus’ common name.
     
    __________________
    *These tree nuts are the seeds of the fruits of the tree: With these species of drupes, we eat the seed inside the pit instead of the fruit surrounding it. They are not true nuts.

    †The cherries from the coffee tree enclosed the seeds, which are roasted to become coffee beans.

       

    Apricots

    Plums In Bowl

    Peach Anatomy

    [1] Apricots showing a pit, a.k.a. stone. All drupes have a hard stone-like pit at the center. [2] A bowl of plums (both photos courtesy Washington State Fruit Commission). [3] The anatomy of the peach and other drupes (illustration © Armstrong).

     

    Bowl Of Almonds

    Coconut Halves

    Surprise drupes: [1] Almonds (and pistachios) are stone fruits, not true nuts (photo courtesy Niedregger Marzipan | Facebook). [2]

      DIG IN NOW!

    Stone fruits are summer treats. You’ve got another month to enjoy them fresh off the tree.

    Beyond eating them as hand fruit, use them to make:

  • Drinks.
  • Ice creams and sorbets.
  • Pastries, pies, shortcakes and tarts.
  •  
    Or:

  • Grill, poach or stew them as sides or desserts (Alone? With ice cream? With pound cake?.
  • Pickle them. Poach and stew them to serve alone or with ice cream and or pound cake.
  •  
    In earlier times, fruits like these were “put away” in cans and jars and made into jams to enjoy until the next year’s crops came in.

    Now, when you see peaches and other stone fruits in the colder months, they most likely come from Chile or elsewhere below the equator, where the seasons are reversed.

     
    STONE FRUIT RECIPES

    You can fine droves of stone fruit recipes all over the web. Some specialty sites include:

  • California Cherries
  • California Fresh Fruit Association
  • Choose Cherries
  • Georgia Peach Growers
  • Northwest Cherries
  • Oregon Cherry Growers
  • Washington Cherry Growers
  • Washington State Fruit Commission
  •  

      

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    RECIPES: National S’mores Day Cocktail

    Combine chocolate liqueur, marshmallow vodka and graham cracker crumbs into a special cocktail for National S’mores Day, August 10th.

    Numerous recipes abound, but we had fun with this one, adapted from ACocktailLife.com.

    You can also use chocolate vodka and marshmallow syrup, or a cream liqueur in any combination.

    You can use a simple rim of graham crackers and a single marshmallow garnish, or go over the top.

    Serve in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass (you can use a wine glass).

    RECIPE: S’MORES COCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces marshmallow vodka (Pinnacle and Smirnoff make it)
  • 1 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 1 ounce creme de cacao
  • 2 ounces cream or half & half
  • Ice
  • Garnish: 2 standard marshmallows
  •  
    For The Rim

  • Chocolate sauce (fudge sauce)
  • 1 crushed graham cracker
  •  
    Substitutions

  • No marshmallow vodka? Use vanilla.
  • No creme de cacao? Double the chocolate liqueur.
  • No cream? Use milk (the drink will be less rich).
  • Alternative garnishes: chocolate-covered marshmallow, pick of mini marshmallows, Mallomar
  •  
     
    Preparation

     

    Smores Cocktail

    Smores Cocktail

    [1] What’s a S’mores celebration without a S’mores cocktail? Photo and recipe courtesy ACocktailLife.com). [2] More subtle, this variation uses white chocolate liqueur (from Carrabba’s Italian Grill | Facebook).

     
    1. CREATE the rim. Crush the graham cracker into crumbs on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Place the chocolate sauce into a shallow microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Dip the rim of the glass into the chocolate, then into the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside to set.

    2. COMBINE the marshmallow vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao and fresh cream to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake well and pour into the prepared glass.

    3. TOAST the marshmallow garnish. Place the marshmallows at the end or in the center of a skewer. Use at the end to set the skewer into the drink, use the center to lie the skewer across the rim. Hold the skewer over an open flame to lightly toast (if your skewers are bamboo, soak them first). Add the skewer to the drink and serve.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Toast To National S’mores Day With Bubbly & Truffles

    S'mores Truffles

    S'mores Truffles Recipe

    [1] This sophisticated S’mores truffles recipe from My Baking Addiction uses Smirnoff’s marshmallow-flavored vodka. [2] A down-home version from QVC’s David Venable. The recipe is  .

     

    August 10th is National S’mores Day.

    A couple of weeks ago, we suggested a gourmet S’mores party with a buffet of everything S’mores, including fondue, fudge, grilled banana S’mores and ice cream—along with numerous other adaptation of the popular campfire cookie sandwich.

    If you don’t want the whole spread, just invite people over for easy-to-make S’mores Truffles with a glass of sparkling wine (our wine suggestions are below).

    RECIPE: S’MORES TRUFFLES

    This recipe from chef David Venable of QVC is very easy to make. You can delegate the task to kids who like to cook.

    Ingredients

  • 1 can (14-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 14 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, divided
  • 62–64 mini marshmallows*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the condensed milk, instant coffee and vanilla into a 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

    2. ADD the chocolate chips and continue to stir until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is lukewarm, about 3–4 more minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add 2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs, and stir until fully incorporated.

    3. POUR the mixture into a small shallow dish (8″ x 8″ baking pan or a 9″ round cake pan). Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until the mixture has cooled completely, about 2–3 hours.

    4. PLACE the remaining 1/3 cup of graham crumbs into another shallow dish. To form the truffles, scoop 1 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture and make a well in the center. Place the marshmallow in the well, pinch the tops closed (to enclose the marshmallow), and roll the chocolate in your hands until a uniform ball forms.

    5. ROLL the ball into the graham cracker crumbs until completely coated. Repeat the same process to form each truffle.
     

    __________________
    *One intrepid baker counted There are 571 mini marshmellows in a 16-ounce bag. Really? Another counts 35 standard marshmallows in a 10-ounce bag, with the advice that 1 standard marshmallow = 3 mini marshmallows. If you conduct your own count, let us know!

     

    SWEET WINES TO PAIR WITH CHOCOLATE & DESSERTS

    Some sparkling wines are made in a sweet style, just to go with dessert. In the sparkling category, the terms dry, sec and demi-sec (dry and semi-dry in French) are used for these wines.

    Why dry? It’s an anomaly that began in the Champagne region of France. Here’s an interesting comparison of the different sweetnesses of Champagne.

    Sweet Sparkling Wines

  • Amabile and Dolce sparkling wines from Italy
  • Asti Spumante from Italy (sparkling moscato)
  • Brachetto d’Acqui (a rosé wine) from Italy
  • >Demi-Sec and Doux sparkling wines from France (including Champagne)
  • Dry Prosecco (a.k.a Valdobbiadene) from Italy
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Sweet Cuvée and Freixenet Mía Moscato Rosé from Spain
  •  
    We also like two sweet sparklers from the U.S,:

  • Sparkling Gewürztraminer from Treveri Cellars in Washington
  • Schramsberg Crémant Demi-Sec from California
  •  
    Sweet Still Wines

    Take advantage of the celebration to try one or more of these:

  • Banyuls from Roussillon in the south of France
  • Late Harvest Zinfandel from California
  • Lustau Muscat Sherry Superior “Emlin” fom Spain
  • Recioto Amarone from Veneto, Italy (not Valpolicella, a dry wine from the same region)
  • Ruby Port from Portugal
  • Vin Santo from Tuscany, Italy
  •  
    Liqueurs also work.

    And how about that Fluffed Marshmallow Vodka from Smirnoff?

     

    Red Wine & Chocolate

    Champagne & Chocolate

    [1] Certain red wines—still or sparkling—are perfect pairings for chocolate (photo courtesy Taza Chocolate). [2] Prefer bubbly? Make sure it’s a sweet style (photo courtesy Delysia Chocolate).

    S’MORES HISTORY

    Since the Girl Scouts popularized S’mores long ago (the first published recipe is in their 1927 handbook), it has been a happy tradition around the campfire. A stick, two toasted marshmallows, a square of chocolate and two graham crackers get you a delicious chocolate marshmallow sandwich.

    The heat of the toasted marshmallow melts the chocolate a bit, and the melted quality is oh-so-much-tastier than the individual ingredients (per Aristotle, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). The name of the sweet sandwich snack comes from its addictive quality: you have no choice but to ask for “some more.”

    But you don’t need a campfire, or even all of the classic ingredients, to celebrate with s’mores, as the recipe above and our other S’mores recipes show.

      

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