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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

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

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

Archive for The Nibble

RECIPE: Lemon Ice Box Mini Tarts

Aida-Mollenkamp-Meyer-Lemon-Icebox-Bites-Recipes-230r

Meyer Lemon Icebox Mini Tarts. Photo
courtesy Aida Mollenkamp.

 

When you want just a bit of dessert, this recipe from Chef Aida Mollenkamp is fun finger food. Prep time is 20 minutes, plus 3 hours of baking and setting time.

If you can’t find Meyer lemons, the juice of which is less acidic, you can use regular lemons (Eureka or Lisbon lemons—see the different types of lemons). Or, Chef Mollenkamp suggests, substitute equal parts of orange and lemon juice.

These are not true “ice box tarts,” because the shells require baking in the oven. But the filling sets in the fridge, hence the reference from Chef Mollenkamp.

RECIPE: MEYER LEMON ICE BOX MINI TARTS

Ingredients For 48 Bite-Size Tarts

For The Crust

  • 8 ounces vanilla wafers or graham crackers
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •  
    For The Custard

  • 1 cup Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar*
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (14 ounce) container sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (8 ounce) mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, softened
  • Pinch salt
  •  
    *Chef Mollenkamp uses organic (unrefined) cane sugar.
     
    For The Garnish

  • Whipped cream, for garnish
  • Candied citrus or ginger
  • Thinly sliced mango or kiwi, or garnish of choice (pomegranate arils add a red highlight)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

    2. MAKE the crust. Place wafers or graham crackers in a food processor and process until broken up (you want 2 cups total). Add butter and pulse until moist. Divide mixture among two mini muffin pans (24-wells) and press mixture evenly in the bottom and up the sides of the muffin wells. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 5 minutes; then remove from oven.

    3. MAKE the custard: Whisk or blend remaining ingredients together until smooth then divide among prepared crusts. Place in the oven and bake until edges are set but center is still a bit loose, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, at least 1 hour.

    4. COVER and freeze until chilled and set, at least 2 hours or overnight. When frozen, run a small butter knife dipped in hot water around the perimeter of each tart and remove. Cover and return to freezer until ready to serve. (This can be done up to 2 weeks in advance.)

    5. SERVE frozen or chilled, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and, as desired, a piece of candied ginger or citrus or a slice of fresh kiwi, and serve.
     
    Note: These tarts are best eaten when still frozen or chilled. The tarts should be eaten within 30 minutes of removing from freezer for best texture.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Guacamole Verrine, A Layered Appetizer

    We discovered this photo on the Frontier Foods blog, where it was called a torta, a word that refers to different foods in different Spanish-language countries. But we’d call it a verrine (vair-REEN).

    Verre is the French word for glass; verrine, which means “protective glass,” is an assortment of ingredients layered “artfully” in a small glass.

    Verrines can be sweet or savory: The idea is to layer foods that provide delicious tastes in small bites: a variety of flavors, textures and colors. The result is both sophisticated and fun.

    While specialty verrine glasses exist, you most likely have vessels at home that will do the job just fine: juice glasses, rocks glasses, shot glasses, even small wine goblets.

    To make this avocado verrine, layer:

  • Guacamole
  • Chopped chiles of desired heat (instead of the green chiles shown, use red chiles for more color)
  • Crumbled queso blanco, queso fresco or other Mexican fresh cheese (you can substitute fresh goat cheese)
  • Slab bacon or pork belly strips
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Optional garnish: fresh herbs
  •  

    torta_guacamole_fronterafoods-230s

    Layered appetizer: an avocado (or guacamole) verrine. Photo courtesy Frontera Foods.

     

    Here’s more on savory verrines, as well as dessert verrines—another treat.

    Have fun with it!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Gazpacho & Beer

    This gazpacho has a surprise ingredient:
    beer! Photo courtesy Frontera Foods.

     

    Here’s a fun idea that can be a soup course, a main course or pass-around party fare, served in small glasses.

    This idea was developed at Frontera Foods, a Chicago-based Mexican foods company headed by Chef Rick Bayless, in partnership with Bohemia Beer. You can serve “beer gazpacho” or turn it into a Martini.

    The tip isn’t just to add beer to gazpacho, but that you can season gazpacho with the addition of prepared salsa.

    The soup can be made ahead and even tastes better when allowed to sit overnight. The recipe makes about 3 quarts.

    To serve gazpacho as a light main course, consider adding:

  • A large salad
  • Crostini, perhaps with olive tapenade
  • Tapas
  • Platters of Spanish sausages, Serrano ham, tortilla Española (Spanish omelet, served at room temperature), Spanish cheeses (look for Cabrales, Idiazabal, Mahon, Manchego and Murcia al Vino), and rustic bread
  • Instead of wine, chilled dry sherry
  •  

    RECIPE: FRONTERA’S SALSA GAZPACHO

    Ingredients For 6-8 Main Course Servings

  • 5 pounds ripe red tomatoes (16 to 20 medium-sized plum or 12 medium-small round)
  • 2 seedless cucumbers, peeled
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 bottle (16 ounces) Frontera Habanero Salsa or substitute
  • 1/2 cup Bohemia beer (or substitute)
  • 2 cups torn (½-inch inch pieces) white bread
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Salt to taste, about 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons
  • 1½ cups home-style croutons
  •  

    Preparation

    1. CHOP enough of the tomatoes into a ¼-inch dice to a generous 1½ cups. Chop enough of the cucumber into ¼-inch dice to yield a generous 1 cup. Stir in the cilantro. Cover and refrigerate for garnish.

    2. ROUGHLY CHOP the remaining tomatoes and cucumber. Mix with the salsa, beer, bread, olive oil and vinegar. In a blender, purée the mixture in 2 batches until smooth.

    3. TRANSFER to a large bowl. Stir in just enough water to give the soup the consistency of a light cream soup, about ½ to 1 cup. Taste and season with salt. Chill thoroughly.

    4. SERVE: Set out the tomato-cucumber garnish mixture and croutons. Ladle the soup into chilled soup bowls. Pass the garnishes.

     

    spanish-cheeses-artisanal-230

    Serve a green salad and plate of Spanish cheeses after the gazpacho. Photo courtesy Artisanal Cheese.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Beer

    lindemans-pomme-lambic-230

    Not hard cider, but apple (pomme) lambic, a
    style of Belgian beer. Photo courtesy
    Lindemans.

     

    For a country so keen on fruity cocktails, we don’t drink much fruit beer. But summer is the perfect time for it, so plan to have a few before Labor Day.

    Fruit beers have been popular for centuries, beginning in Belgium, the country best known for them. Creative brewers there ignored the German Rheinheitsgebot, the “purity law” which specified that beer could only be made with three ingredients: barley, hops and water. (The law dates back to 1516; at the time no one knew that the yeast in the air was involved in the process. Yeast is, of course, the fourth ingredient.)

    Belgian lambic styles are produced in popular flavors like cherry (kriek), peach and raspberry. Traditionally, the fruit was fermented with the grain. Modern breweries may use flavored extracts as a shortcut to the finished product (and, not surprisingly, they don’t taste nearly as good). Check the label or online to find those brewed with real fruit.

    Today you can also find fruit beers in apple, apricot, banana, black currant, blueberry, strawberry and tangerine. But look for craft brews, as opposed to Bud Light’s Ritas line, flavored beers in Lime, Mango, Strawberry and Raspberry. They’re a different product entirely.

    Head to your best beer store and pull together a tasting of fruit beers, both domestic and imported. You may be able to find such tasty brews as:

  • Éphémère Blackcurrant Fruit Beer from Unibroue of Chambly, Quebec, Canada
  • Lindemans Pomme [Apple] Lambic, from Brouwerij Lindemans in Vlezenbeek, Belgium
  • #9 Not Quite Pale Ale, an apricot fruit beer from Magic Hat Brewing Company of South Burlington, Vermont
  • Peach Porch Lounger, a saison-style (farmhouse ale) beer from New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Raspberry Redemption Belgian-Style Dubbel, from Joseph James Brewing Company in Henderson, Nevada
  • Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer, from Melbourn Brothers All Saints Brewery of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England
  • Smashed Blueberry Fruit Beer, from Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland, Maine
  • Tangerine Wheat Fruit Beer, from Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, California
  • Three Philosophers Quadruple, from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York
  • Wells Banana Bread English Bitter/Fruit Beer, from Wells & Young’s Brewing Company of Bedford, England
  •  
    HOW TO SERVE FRUIT BEER

    Fruit beers can quaffed as a refreshing cold drink, or paired with foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Consider:

  • Asian chicken salad
  • Brunch eggs, from a simple frittata to Eggs Benedict
  • Cheese courses
  • Chicken, duck or pork dishes made with fruits (apples, apricots, cherries, currants, prunes, etc.)
  • Dessert—fruit desserts, including pies and tarts; and of course, Belgian waffles
  • Shellfish—crab, lobster, plat de mer, scallops, shrimp and yesterday’s recipe for Moules Marinières, steamed mussels
  •  
    Let us know how you enjoy them.
     
      

    Comments

    NEWS: When “Organic” Isn’t Organic

    Paul Newman would not be happy. The guardians of the Newman’s Own Organics brand have been playing fast and loose.

    The Newman’s Own food brand was founded by actor Paul Newman and author A.E. Hotchner in 1982. Its purpose was to generate money for charity: The company gives 100% of the after-tax profits from the sale of its products to the Newman’s Own Foundation, which distributes it to various educational and charitable organizations.

    In 1993, Newman’s daughter Nell Newman founded Newman’s Own Organics as a division of the company. Created to produce only organic foods, it became a separate company in late 2001. Father and daughter posed for the photograph on the label.

    Now, the USDA has called out Newman’s Own Organics and some other companies for selling products that do not qualify for the use of the word “organic” on the front panel. Consumers are being misled by the word “organic” or “organics” in the brand names, while the products are not organic-compliant.

    Unless a food product is certified organic, according to the regulations of the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), it cannot display, overtly, the word “organic” on the front panel of the product.

     

    Newmans-Own-Organics-Logo-230

    “Pa” would not be pleased. Photo courtesy Newman’s Own Organics.

     

    The investigation began in 2010 when a not-for-profit group, The Cornucopia Institute, filed a complaint against Newman’s ginger cookies, asserting that these and other products the company markets had labels such as “made with organic wheat and sugar,” but that many of the more expensive ingredients were not in fact organic.

    “When products qualify for the ‘Made With Organic Ingredients’ label, it means they have a minimum of 70% organic content,” stated Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of the Cornucopia Institute. “Newman’s Own Organics ginger cookies didn’t even contain organic ginger when we did our initial investigation in 2010. That’s what I call misleading!”

    You can read the Institute’s full press release here.

    A small percentage of products under the Newman’s Own Organics name actually are certified organic. Most are manufactured with the lowest permissable amount of organic ingredients, 70%, and qualify for the “Made With Organic” labeling category, the third of three tiers (the best is “100% Organic,” followed by “Organic,” which requires 95% organic ingredients).

    “Other brands of organic cookies that have to compete on store shelves with Newman’s, such as Country Choice, go to the effort and expense to procure organic ginger and all other available organic ingredients, and present a product of true integrity to the consuming public,” said Kastel.

    As a result of the Institute’s efforts, the USDA released new guidelines yesterday, called “Use of Brand or Company Names Containing the Word ‘Organic’.”

    The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. Efforts support economic justice for the family-scale farming community, backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Creamsicle Cocktail For National Creamsicle Day

    orange-cream-pop-dream-svedka-230

    A Creamsicle cocktail! Photo courtesy
    Svedka Vodka.

     

    August 14th is National Creamsicle Day, a classic ice cream novelty on a stick that combines orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream.

    You can buy a Creamsicle, have a scoop of orange sherbet and vanilla ice cream in a dish, or enjoy this cocktail version from Svedka Vodka. It uses Svedka’s Orange cream Pop vodka, a “nostalgia flavor” and one of the company’s 11 flavored vodkas.

    RECIPE: CREAMSICLE COCKTAIL

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1 part Svedka Orange Cream Pop vodka
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a blender, adding 1/2 cup of crushed ice last. Blend until smooth and pour into a hurricane glass.

    2. GARNISH with an orange wedge and a scoop of ice cream.

     
    CREAMSICLE HISTORY

    In 1923, Frank Epperson, a 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry, made what he called Epsicles for a fireman’s ball.

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

    By 1928, Epperson had earned royalties on more than 60 million Popsicles. But his happy days ended with the Great Depression. In 1929, flat broke, Frank had to liquidate his assets and sold the patent to, and his rights in, Popsicle Corporation.

    Over the years, the Popsicle Corporation created other frozen treats on a stick: the Fudgsicle (a chocolate-flavored pop with a texture somewhat similar to ice cream), the Creamsicle (vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet) and the Dreamsicle (a Creamsicle filled with ice milk instead of ice cream).

    Today, Creamsicle is the trademarked property of the Good Humor Company, owned by Unilever.

    Here’s more on the history of the Creamsicle, and a recipe for Creamsicle Cake.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Eat More Mussels (How About Mussels Marinière?)

    Today’s tip was inspired by a recent “Personal Health” column by Jane Brody in the New York Times called Relearning How To Eat Fish. Among other suggestions, the article urges that you expand your fish and seafood horizons, perhaps starting with a delicious bowl of good-for-you steamed mussels.

    Fish and shellfish are the most nutritious sources of animal protein, and while Americans have been learning to eat more fish and seafood, we should be eating much more of them.

    Yet, surprise of surprises, almost all of the delectable, nutritious fish caught in American waters is exported to other countries. Instead, a whopping 86% of the fish and seafood we consume is imported.

  • About one-third of all our wild catch is exported, while we choose to eat farmed fish and shrimp imported from countries like Chile, China and Thailand.
  • Almost all the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported, half of it farmed in Asia—mostly, says Brody, “under conditions that would ruin even the most voracious appetite.” (If you want to know more, search for any article on shrimp farming in Asia).
  • Shrimp is the favorite seafood in the U.S. But the shrimp we eat farms in Asia have been swept by bacterial and viral infections. When a site becomes unusable, shrimp farmers simply move on, destroying more miles of mangrove along the shore and wrecking habitats for all manner of wildlife, including spawning fish.
  •    

    jumbo-tiger-shrimp-caviarrusse-230

    No matter how much you love shrimp, unless you’re buying from a top restaurant or fishmonger, you may wish to switch to mussels. Photo of premium tiger shrimp courtesy Caviar Russe.

     

    The world’s population consumes some 170 billion pounds of wild-caught fish and seafood per year, caught in oceans, rivers and lakes. If everyone were to eat at least two servings of fish a week, as nutritional guidelines suggest, we’d need 60 billion more pounds per year to meet the demand.

    Hence, fish farming is here to stay, along with, more than a few cases, its negative environmental impact and less than sanitary conditions.

    EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS

    The most popular fish in the U.S. are salmon, sea bass, cod and tuna; shrimp, at the top of the seafood list, is by far the most popular shellfish.

    Other species have all but disappeared from restaurant menus and supermarkets. Remember that supermarkets and restaurateurs offer what is most likely to sell. So you may have to head to a fishmonger to transition to diversity of choice. Brody suggests:

  • For salmon, substitute other oily fish such as anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, and sardines.
  • For the overfished and declining cod, take a look at Alaskan pollock, the fish used to make fish sticks, fast-food fish sandwiches and the “crab leg” of California rolls.
  • Keep an eye out for different varieties—abalone or orange roughy, for example. It’s easy to look online for delicious ways to prepare them.
  • Enjoy mussels, as often as you like.
  •  
    INVITE MUSSELS TO THE DINNER TABLE

    In an ideal world, says Brody, mussels would replace shrimp as America’s favorite shellfish.

    Like other bivalves (clams, cockles, mussels, oysters and scallops), mussels are filter feeders that cleanse the water they live in. In the process, they gain valuable omega-3 fatty acids from the algae they consume. And, in drastic opposition to shrimp, they are nearly always sold from hygienically farmed stock.

    Mussels are also low in calories, and much lower in cholesterol than shrimp and squid. And they’re easy to cook, steamed in easy preparations like Mussels Marinière (recipe below), steamed in white wine, Mussels Provençal with tomatoes, garlic and herbs, or Mussels Marinara, similar to Provençal but with oregano. Add some chili flakes and you’ve got a spicy Mussels Fra Diavolo.

     

    mussels-fried-moules-frites-duplexonthird-230

    A bowl of steamed mussels. Photo courtesy
    Duplex On Third | L.A.

     

    To see how easy it is to enjoy a pot of mussels, here’s the classic recipe for Moules à la Marinière from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck.

    It is typically enjoyed with baguette croutons, and served with sides of green salad and frites. Pair it with your favorite white wine (we’re partial to a Sancerre or a Sauvignon Blanc with this dish).

    RECIPE: MOULES À LA MARINIÈRE, STEAMED MUSSELS

    Ingredients For 3-4 Servings

  • 3 quarts (3 pounds) mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots (substitute scallions or leeks)
  • 4 parsley sprigs, plus 1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley for garnish
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 baguette, in 1/2-inch slices, drizzled with olive oil and toasted
  •  

    Preparation

    1. DISCARD any raw mussels that are open or have cracked shells. Open shells indicate a dead mussel, cracks in shells foster bacteria. Similarly, discard any mussels that don’t open after steaming.

    2. WHISK together the flour and water in a large mixing bowl. Add the cleaned mussels, adding more water as needed to cover the mussels. Soak at least 30 minutes so the mussels can disgorge any sand or grit.

    3. BRING the wine, minced shallots, parsley sprigs, bay leaf, thyme, pepper, and butter to a simmer in a large stockpot ((6 quarts or more) over high heat. Meanwhile…

    4. DRAIN the mussels from the flour water liquid and rinse thoroughly. Add to the stockpot, cover with the lid and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the majority of the mussel shells have opened. Shake the pot vigorously from time to time, to ensure that the mussels cook evenly. While the mussels are cooking…

    5. DRIZZLE or brush the baguette slices with olive oil and toast them.

    5. SCOOOP the mussels in shallow soup or pasta bowls; ladle the broth on top. Garnish with minced parsley, and serve with the baguette croutons.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Nothin’ But Snack Bars

    Jerri Graham, founder of Nothin’ But Premium Foods, had some of the same concerns of many people who carefully read nutrition labels. She realized that the snack bars her family enjoyed were lacking.

    “Everything was either loaded with artificial protein powders or a ‘log’ of foodstuff that left much to be desired,” she says. “So, I started making bars that I wanted to eat, give to my friends, and most importantly, what I wanted to feed my own child.”

    Jerri developed recipes and began selling her better-for-you snack bars to local cafés, farmers markets and gyms. People loved them and wanted more, but her production capacity was limited.

    One day, she received a phone call from a businessman who had discovered her product, and agreed with her mission. Together, they launched the Nothin’ But line of bars and granola cookies.

    Everything tastes so fresh, so good—a healthy indulgence with simple ingredients yet layers of flavor. Nuts deliver 4 grams of protein per serving, oats contribute 2 grams of fiber, honey, organic cane sugar and dried fruit are the sweeteners.

       

    cranberry-almond-230

    These snack bars look healthy, and they taste delicious. Photo courtesy Nothin’ But Foods.

     

     

    granola_cookies-230

    Granola cookies. Photo courtesy Nothin’ But
    Foods.

     

    NOTHIN’ BUT PREMIUM SNACK BARS

    Nothin’ But Premium Snack Bars are 100% natural, made from a blend of organic oats, nuts, seeds and dried fruits; plus honey, organic cane sugar and olive oil. They are egg free, gluten free, cholesterol free and certified kosher by OK.

    The four bar flavors include something for everyone:

  • Cherry Cranberry Almond
  • Chocolate Almond
  • Ginger Lemon Cashew
  • Peanut Butter Banana
  •  
    NOTHIN’ BUT GRANOLA COOKIES

    If you prefer a cookie treat, tasty granola cookies, made from the same good ingredients as the snack bars, are available in:

  • Cherry Cranberry Almond
  • Chocolate Almond
  •  

    Retail distribution is currently limited, as is typical of new brands; but you can buy Nothin’ But online at NothinButFoodsStore.com.

    Different gift assortments are available.

    Send them to your favorite student, or to anyone who appreciates better-for-you foods.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Classic Peach Pie

    To us, summer means fresh peach pie—a flavor that’s not easy to come by commercially. To enjoy its pleasures, you’ve got to bake your own.

    When summer peaches are ripe and juicy, they don’t need a whole lot else to make a terrific pie. In this recipe, an optional tablespoon of dark rum “takes it over the top,” says Annie.

    Serve the pie warm with vanilla ice cream—or if you can find it or want to make it, peach ice cream (an exquisite flavor that’s even hard to come by than store-bought peach pie). You’ll be making summer memories for everyone who tastes it.

    This recipe is by Annie of Annie’s Eats, for Go Bold With Butter.

    RECIPE: Classic Peach Pie

    Ingredients For A 9-Inch Pie

  • 2 rounds basic pie dough (recipe below)
  • 2-1/4 pounds ripe peaches (about 10-12 medium peaches)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Dash of grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  •    

    peach-pie-goboldwithbutter-230

    Serve homemade peach pie with a side of vanilla or peach ice cream. Photo courtesy Anna | Go Bold With Butter.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F and place a baking sheet on the lowest oven rack to catch dripping juices. Roll out half of the pie dough to approximately 12-inches round so that it fully lines a 9-inch pie plate with some overhang. Transfer the lined pie plate to the refrigerator until ready to use.

    2. PREPARE the filling. Peel* the peaches and slice them to 1/4-inch thick slices. In a large bowl, combine the peach slices with the sugar, flour, cornstarch and nutmeg. Toss to coat. Add in the lemon juice and rum and stir once more until well combined.

     
    *If the peaches are not quite ripe or are not peeling easily, score the bottom surface of each with an “X”. Pop them into boiling water for 30 seconds, remove with a skimmer and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. This should help make the peels come off more easily. See “How To Ripen Peaches,” below.

     

    869382-colander-SXC-230

    Peaches fresh from the orchard. Photo by
    Alaina Cherup | SXC.

     

    3. REMOVE the lined pie plate from the refrigerator and pour in the peach filling in an even layer. Dot the top of the peaches with the pieces of cold butter.

    4. ROLL out the remaining pie dough to a 12-inch round. Cut into strips with a pastry cutter or paring knife and weave together to form a lattice top (here are step-by-step photos and instructions.) Trim away excess dough and crimp the edges together. Lightly brush the top and edges of the pie dough with the egg wash.

    5. BAKE for 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 350°F; continue baking until the pie is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 30-40 minutes more. Check on the pie a few times during baking. If it is browning too quickly, tent loosely with foil and continue baking as directed.

    6. REMOVE the finished pie to a wire rack and let cool until just warm, about 2 hours. Slice and serve.

     
    RECIPE: BASIC PIE DOUGH

    Pie crust dough can be made ahead and frozen for up to two months.

    Ingredients For 2 Nine-Inch Pie Crusts

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons very cold water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly to blend. Add in the butter pieces and mix on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the largest butter pieces are not much bigger than peas. Mix in the cold water on low speed just until the dough comes together.

    2. DIVIDE the dough in half and shape into 2 balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

    3. REMOVE dough from the refrigerator. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface. Use as directed in the pie recipe.
     
    HOW TO RIPEN PEACHES

    Simply leave hard peaches on the kitchen counter, but here’s a tip: Set them upside down, on their shoulders instead of their bottoms, not touching one another. If you have a spot where they will receive some direct sunlight, that will speed the ripening (but be sure it’s not hot, baking sunlight).

    To really speed the ripening, place the peaches in a paper bag. The ethylene gas given off by the fruit hastens ripening. A banana added to the bag will provide even more ethylene, for even faster ripening.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Eggplant, Three Ways

    From noodle-free lasagna to vegetable soup or gumbo to a goat cheese and eggplant sandwich, eggplant is a versatile ingredient. It can find its way into caponata*, casseroles, dips, mixed grilled veggies, pasta dishes, stews and more.

    Eggplant is low in calories and fat, while boasting a high fiber content. While available year-round, summer is peak harvesting time for the familiar purple “globe” eggplant, so the prices are the best. Look for shiny, smooth skin that isn’t wrinkled or dimpled.

    Executive Chef Tom Leo of Grecian Delight, producer of delicious Mediterranean specialties, shares his tips for perfecting eggplant preparation, plus a delectable baba ganoush recipe.
     
    *A Sicilian dish of eggplant, tomatoes, capers, pine nuts and basil, usually served as a side dish or relish.

    RECIPE: SIMPLE ROASTED EGGPLANT

    Oven roasted eggplant requires only a few ingredients and simple steps to deliver a rich, smoky flavor.

    Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley etc.
  •    

    roast-eggplant-Elena_Danileiko-230

    Simple roasted eggplant. Dress it up with tomato sauce and cheese. Photo by Elena Danileiko | IST.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. While the oven is heating, trim the stem and the bottom off of the eggplant and cut it in half, lengthwise.

    2. SCORE the flesh of the eggplant, but not all the way through to the skin. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake for 30-40, minutes depending on the size. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

    3. SEASON with salt, pepper, oregano or other favorite spices and herbs. Optionally drizzle with a bit of olive oil or top with crumbled feta, goat cheese or an Italian grating cheese. Or, top with tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan for Eggplant Parmesan.
     
    RECIPE: EASY GRILLED EGGPLANT

    The optional yogurt mint sauce can be made two days in advance.

    Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley etc.
  •  
    For The Yogurt-Mint Sauce

  • 7 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  

    homemade  Baba Ghanoush

    Babaganoush, one of our favorite dips. Photo
    © Fanfo | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the yogurt sauce (recipe below).

    2. TRIM the eggplant by cutting off the stem and bottom, then cut the eggplant into thick, one-inch slices.

    3. SEASON the slices with a generous amount of salt and place them on a paper towel-lined sheet or colander for 30 minutes. This is to draw moisture out of the eggplant. Rinse and pat dry.

    4. COAT the sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes per side. Top with a refreshing yogurt and mint sauce or enjoy it on its own.
     
    Preparation: Yogurt Mint Sauce

    1. COMBINE the green onions, mint, dill, red pepper flakes, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor and puree until into a coarse paste.

    2. ADD the yogurt, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined.

    3. TRANSFER to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop.

     

    RECIPE: PURÉED EGGPLANT DIP, BABAGANOUSH

    Babaganoush (pronounced baba-gah-NOOSH) is hummus’ eggplant cousin, a creamy spread based on eggplant instead of chickpeas. It can be used as a dip or spread, and added to sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.

    Ingredients

  • Eggplant, approximately 1 pound
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: chopped parsley
  • Pita, crackers, crudités, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ROAST a whole eggplant (about 1 pound) at 450°F: Prick in several places with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking sheet; bake for 20 minutes and let cool.

    2. CUT the eggplant in half lengthwise, drain off the liquid and scoop the pulp into a food processor. Process until smooth and transfer to a bowl.

    3. COMBINE the garlic and salt until a paste forms; add to the eggplant along with the parsley, tahini and lemon juice. Season to taste.

    4. GARNISH with optional chopped parsley and serve with fresh or toasted pita wedges, pita chips, crackers and/or crudités.

      

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