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TIP OF THE DAY: More Modern Surf & Turf Ideas … Plus Spring Peas

National Surf & Turf Day falls on February 29th. Why would anyone choose to celebrate this tasty holiday only once every four years?

That honor should go to, say, National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day, which happens to be today’s holiday (April 21st). Or how Kitchen Klutzes of America Day (June 13th), or Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day (July 29th)?

So today, we’re featuring some novel approaches to surf and turf.

On THE NIBBLE alone, we have obvious and not-so-obvious recipes:

  • Beef Carpaccio & Anchovies
  • Broiled Seafood With Beef Jerky Garnish
  • Clam Chowder With Bacon
  • Filet Mignon With Lobster Topping
  • Ham & Biscuits With Seafood Gravy
  • Modern Surf & Turf (18 recipe ideas)
  • National Surf & Turf Day (5+ recipe ideas)
  • Raw Scallops With Steak Tartare Or Bacon
  • Salmon BUrger With Bacon
  • Seafood Cobb Salad
  • Sea Urchin & Roast Beef Rolls
  • Surf & Turf Burgers
  • Surf & Turf Sushi & More (18 recipe ideas)
  • Surf & Turf Bloody Mary
  • Surf & Turf Eggs Benedict
  • Veal Osso Bucco On Tuna Sashimi
  • Vietnamese Pancakes With Shrimp & Pork
  • Wiener Schnitzel Surf & Turf
  •  
    Not to mention, Surf & Turf Pizza (clams or shrimp with pepperoni) or skewers (any meat, any shellfish).

    Our latest dish in the collection:

    RECIPE: SQUID & SPRING PEAS

    Who’d have thought of combining squid and bacon with fresh spring peas and fresh mint? Catalan chefs, with bounties of fresh squid pulled from the Mediterranean.

    This recipe is from Executive Chef Jaime Chavez of Sirena Cucina Latina in San Diego (which alas, closed in February).

    It’s a traditional Catalan starter from the chef’s mother, and is one of the restaurant’s best sellers.

    “[Mother] taught me that the best dishes are made from simple flavors, and when we respect the products, they give us back the very best of them,” notes Chavez.

    While Chef Jaime didn’t intend to create “surf and turf,” we’re always seeking new ways to extend the original concept of filet mignon and lobster tail, christened Surf & Turf (here’s the history of Surf & Turf).

    This is an easy recipe; the most demanding parts are slicing the squid and cooking the bacon.

    The season for fresh spring peas is short, so don’t bookmark this for “later.”

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 8 each squid tubes and tentacles
  • 1½ cups fresh English peas, shelled
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • ½ cup sliced fennel
  • 3 tablespoons crisp bacon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Champagne vinegar (substitute white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: edible flowers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SAUTÉ the squid and garlic in olive oil in a hot pan. Cut the squid into rings.

       

    Squid Salad With Spring Peas

    Shelled Peas

    Raw Squid

    Grilled Bacon

    Fennel Bulb

    [1] Squid, bacon and spring peas unite in a vinaigrette (photo courtesy Chef Jaime Chavez). [2] Just-shelled spring peas (photo courtesy The Chef’s Kitchen). [3] Raw squid (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma). [4] Fennel (photo courtesy Burpee).

     
    2. ADD the peas and season with salt and pepper. Then add the vinegar and mint.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and add the celery, fennel and bacon. Garnish as desired and serve (the edible flowers add another touch of springtime).
     
     
    Here are more ways to use spring peas.

     

    Spring Peas

    Snow Peas

    Sugar Snap Peas

    The three types of green peas. [5] Spring peas (photo Hannah Kaminsky). [6] Snow peas (photo AllWomensTalk.com). [7] Sugar snap peas (photo Good Eggs).

     

    SPRING PEAS, ENGLISH PEAS OR GARDEN PEAS?

    Spring peas, English peas and garden peas are three are names for the same thing. All can be eaten raw or cooked.

    Three types of green peas:

  • Spring peas (Pisum sativum var. sativum, photo #5), also called English peas and garden peas, which must be shelled to be edible (although some people do cook the stringless varieties).
  • Snow peas (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum, photo #6), called “Chinese pea pods” by some consumers, which are edible flat pods with tiny peas inside.
  • Snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon, photo #7), also called sugar snap peas, plump edible pods with smaller peas inside.
  •  
    Peas (Pisum sativum) are native to the Mediterranean basin. They grew wild and were one of the earlier vegetables cultivated at the dawn of agriculture in the Neolithic Era, beginning about 12,500 years ago.

    Having said that, pea pods are botanically a fruit, since they are pods that contain seeds, and the pods developed from the ovary of a flower.

    Peas, beans and lentils are all legumes with seeds that grow in pods. It’s easy to distinguish them by their shape:

  • Dry beans are oval or kidney shaped.
  • Lentils are flat disks.
  • Peas are round.
  •  
    Legumes are members of the botanical family Fabaceae, which also includes alfalfa, carob, licorice, peanuts and the sweet pea garden plant.
     
    Peas are sweet but can get starchy soon after harvesting. The fresher, the better.

     
    HOW TO BUY & STORE FRESH PEAS

    For the best flavor, choose small peas. They’re younger, sweeter and more tender than large ones. Look for medium-size pods that are firm and green, with no yellowing. Break open a pod and check the peas. They should be small, bright green and firm. Taste the peas in the pod: They should be tender and sweet.

    Freshness counts. As with corn, once picked the peas’ high sugar content begins to convert to starch. Don’t pay for mature peas. You might as well use frozen peas.

    Don’t pay extra for shelled peas. You don’t know how fresh they are; and since you aren’t shelling peas day in, day out, it’s a fun activity.

    Storing Fresh Peas

  • Store the pods in the crisper drawer of the fridge in a plastic storage bag. Use them within two days.
  • Once the peas are shelled, the best way to store them is to freeze them. First, blanch the peas for a minute in boiling salted water. Then shock them in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking and maintain their bright color. Drain and freeze them in freezer storage bags for up to six months.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Peas, Use ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em

    Green Pea Potstickers

    Spring Peas

    Edamame

    Spring Tartine

    [1] Recipe #1, Spring pea dumplings (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog. [2] Spring peas (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Edamame (photo courtesy Burpee). [4] Recipe #2, a tartine (open face sandwich) with spring peas and other spring ingredients from Chef Alain Ducasse (photo courtesy All My Chefs).

     

    Spring pea season is fleeting. Enjoy as much of the tender green nuggets as you can: raw in salads or for snacking; or lightly steamed in recipes.

    Spring peas are also known as English peas and garden peas.

    At breakfast—the meal least likely to include spring peas—you can use them to garnish eggs, avocado toast, or a bagel with cream cheese.

    You can toss raw or cooked peas into plain Greek yogurt. Use them as a garnish, or mash them and stir them in as you would preserves.

    Moving on to snacks and appetizers: Here are three tasty recipes for appetizers, first courses or snacking. For a special main course, check out this innovative approach to surf and turf: Squid With Bacon & Spring Peas.

    Here are more ways to use spring peas, and the history of peas.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: SPRING PEA OR EDAMAME POTSTICKERS

    Hannah Kaminsky adapted her easy edamame potstickers recipe to showcase spring peas. She mixes the legumes with hummus for extra protein, although you can skip the hummus and just fill the dumplings with peas).

    Hannah notes:

    “General folding advice still stands as a good guideline to follow when wrapping things up, but once you get those papery thin skins to stick, you’re pretty much golden.

    If you’re less confident in your dumpling prowess, cut yourself a break and fold square dumpling wrappers in half instead. You’ll still get neat little triangles.”

    If celebrate Purim, you can serve these as savory Haman’s Hats.

    Ingredients For 15 Dumplings

  • 1 cup shelled spring peas or edamame
  • 1/3 cup edamame/pea hummus (mash them into regular hummus, to taste)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce, plus more for dipping
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Savoy cabbage
  • 15 (3-inch) round wonton skins or gyoza wrappers*
  •  
    Plus

  • Steaming basket or rack
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SET UP the steaming apparatus: Line a bamboo steamer or metal steam rack with leaves of savoy cabbage to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the bottom (and eat it afterward). Place the steamer in a large pot with water and heat the water to boiling; then reduce to simmering. Meanwhile…

    2. MIX together the shelled edamame, hummus, scallion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cumin, stirring thoroughly. Lay the dumpling wrappers on your work surface and place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each. Run a lightly moistened finger around the entire perimeter and bring the sides together, forming a triangle. Tightly crimp the corners together with a firm pinch.

    3. PLACE the dumplings on the cabbage leaves and cover the steamer or pot. Steam for 2 to 4 minutes, until the wrappers are translucent. Serve immediately, with additional soy sauce for dipping if desired.

    ________________

    *You can typically find these either in the produce section near the tofu, or in the freezer aisle with other Asian ingredients.
     
    RECIPE #2: SPRING TARTINE

    This recipe, courtesy of All My Chefs, is from the great Alain Ducasse.

    It requires no particular cooking technique…or even cooking, except for blanching the asparagus and green beans. Otherwise, you just slice and assemble.

    Serve them as a snack, a first course, or with a glass of wine.

    Here’s more about tartines, French for open-face sandwiches.

    This recipe was originally published in “Nature By Alain Ducasse” (Éditions Alain Ducasse).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 16 small green asparagus
  • A good handful† peas
  • About 10 radishes, washed and peeled
  • 1/4 fennel bulb, rinsed
  • About 20 cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
  • A handful wild arugula, rinsed, patted dry, stalks removed (you can save them for salads)
  • 4 slices multigrain or whole wheat bread
  • 5-1/2 ounces (100g) Saint-Moret** or similar cream cheese
  • 1-1/2 ounces (40g) grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt or flake salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING a saucepan of salted water to a boil, and prepare a bowl with water and ice cubes.

    2. CUT the tips of the asparagus into approximately 2 inch (5-6 cm) pieces. Rinse and immerse in the boiling water with the peas.

    3. DRAIN and immediately plunge them into the ice water to keep their color. Leave for 2 minutes, then drain with a slotted spoon and lay on a dry tea towel. (TIP: We put the vegetables into a strainer. It’s easy to lift the strainer to drain, then plunge it into the ice bath.)

    4. SLICE thee radishes into fine rounds (about 3 mm) with a mandoline (we used a knife). Slice the fennel into thin slivers of the same size.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Spread the bread with cream cheese and arrange the vegetables on top. Sprinkle with parmesan, a bit of crunchy salt and some pepper.

    ________________

    **Saint-Môret is the leading natural fresh cheese in France. While it has a different flavor and texture from American cream cheese, it is the closest comparison. We actually used spreadable goat cheese: We love the extra tang.

     

    RECIPE #3: SPRING PEAS & BURRATA SALAD

    We adapted this recipe from Julie Andrews, The Gourmet RD. It takes just 10 minutes to prep. We could eat it every day.

    Her recipe uses sugar snap peas. We added spring peas as well.

    You can eat the pods (shells) of sugar snap peas, but it depends on the age of the pea. Older sugar snap peas tend to be more fibrous, making the pod hard to chew. Eat one, then decide.

    Unlike sugar snap peas or snow peas, the fibrous pods of English peas cannot be eaten—although they can be saved and used in a vegetable stock (freeze until needed).

    TIPS:

  • Shell spring peas immediately before cooking. Break off the stem and pull the fibrous string down the length of the pod.
  • If you can’t find burrata (we get ours at Trader Joe’s), use a mozzarella ball. And…we serve 1/2 ball with each salad.
  • If you have fresh tarragon on hand, toss in some leaves.
  • As a change, we like to substitute balsamic vinegar for the honey.
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 First Courses

  • 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cups fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed, strings removed
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup carrots (thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 ball burrata (substitute fresh mozzarella)
  • 1/2 cups pistachios (roughly chopped
  • For serving: toasted sourdough bread
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Spring Peas Salad

    Burrata

    [5] Recipe #3: burrata salad—note that you can’t eat the shells of spring peas (photo courtesy The Gourmet RD). [6] Be prepared when you cut open a burrata: The creamy insides will spill out (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese).

     
    1. WHISK together fresh lemon zest and juice, honey, olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as necessary.

    2. ADD the peas, green beans, carrots, arugula, basil and mint to the bowl, and toss with the dressing.

    3. QUARTER or halve the ball of burrata and arrange on a platter. Top with salad, sprinkle with additional coarse salt and ground black pepper, and garnish with pistachios.
     
     
    MORE BURRATA

    Here are two more burrata salad recipes and a dessert burrata recipe.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: What To Do With Amaretto

    Amaretto Di Saronno

    Homemade Amaretto

    Amaretto Preserves

    Coffee With Amaretto

    Shrimp With Amaretto Marinade

    [1] The grandaddy of amaretto: Amaretto di Saronno (photo courtesy Illva Saronno S.p.A). [2] Homemade amaretto (here’s the recipe from Mantitlement). [3] Amaretto preserves (photo courtesy Telltale Preserve Co). [4] Pour amaretto into your coffee, or serve it as a chaser (photo courtesy Coffee Door Country). [5] Shrimp in an amaretto marinade (photo courtesy Kansas City Steaks).

     

    Today is National Amaretto Day, in honor of an almond-flavored liqueur initially made with local bitter almonds in the area of Saronno, Italy.

    Amaretto is Italian for “a little bitter,” which it may have been back then. Today, it is sweet—and often made from apricot pits, which taste like almond and are a whole lot less expensive.

    But what to do with that bottle of amaretto?

    Gone are the days when a glass of liqueur would be a sweet ending to dinner. Has anyone had an after-dinner liqueur at home since, say, the 1970s?

    Don’t let the bottle of amaretto gather dust on a closet shelf. Today’s tip is: Take that bottle down and put it to good use!

    1. Revive the custom of the after dinner drink.

    Drink your dessert instead of eating something sweet.

    You don’t need to buy delicate, stemmed liqueur glasses: Rocks glaasses, even shot glasses, will do just fine.

    We use miniature brandy snifters.

    2. Bring out the bottle with after-dinner coffee…

    …or brunch coffee…or coffee at any respectable time of day.

    We have long followed our Nana’s custom of bringing a silver tray with four liqueur bottles (amaretto, anisette, Courvoisier, crème de cacao) and small cream pitchers to the table with coffee.

    Why the little pitchers? Nana was far too elegant to pour liqueur from a bottle into a coffee cup. It was poured from the bottle into the pitcher, and then into the cup.

    Why didn’t she serve the amaretto as a chaser in her crystal liqueur glasses? Alas, it’s too late to ask.

    But anyone who enjoys a shot of flavored syrup in their cup of coffee will appreciate the even greater depth of favor from a sweet liqueur—mixed in or served separately.

    3. Make cocktails.

    You can even throw a cocktail party with a menu of amaretto cocktails: Almond Joy, Amaretto Alexander, Amaretto and Coke, Amaretto Sour, Italian Sunset and others.

    Here are “the 10 best amaretto cocktail recipes.”

    Everything old is new again.

    And for dessert: a DiSaronno Milkshake, which is just as it sounds: amaretto and vanilla ice cream, tossed into the blender.

    MORE WAYS TO USE AMARETTO

    We have almost 40 different ways to use amaretto.

    While the biggest opportunity comes in adding a tablespoon or two to sweet foods, there are also savory uses.

    Amaretto In Desserts

  • Almond cookies
  • Anything that uses almond flour
  • Applesauce
  • Any chocolate recipe, including chocolate truffles
  • Baked or sautéed apples or pears, or sautéed stone fruits
  • Cake: sprinkle directly onto angel, pound and sponge cakes, or reduce into a sauce
  • Cannoli cream
  • Cheesecake
  • Compote or stewed fruit
  • Cookie dip (make a sweet dip, or just dip the cookies in straight amaretto)
  • Crêpes
  • Dessert sauce (butterscotch, caramel, chocolate, fruit)
  • Fresh fruit and fruit salad (pineapple or peaches and amaretto are inspired pairings)
  • Frostings and fillings
  • Ice cream: churned into homemade (really delicious!), or poured over a scoop of ready made
  • Jam and preserves
  • Maraschino cherries (replace half the sugar syrup with amaretto)
  • Marinate dried fruits (as a garnish for proteins or desserts)
  • Pudding (almost any flavor)
  • Sautéed bananas
  • Tiramisu
  • Whipped cream
  •  
    Amaretto In Beverages

  • Beertails (yes, add some to beer, especially a bland one)
  • Cherry, peach or pineapple Jell-O shots
  • Cocktails
  • Cherry, cola or lemon-lime soft drinks
  • Coffee, hot or iced
  • Floats and milkshakes
  • Hot chocolate
  • Neat or on the rocks
  • Tea, hot or iced
  • Sparkling wine
  • Spritzer (club soda and amaretto)
  •  
    More Amaretto Uses

  • Almondine sauce for chicken, duck, fish, pork and vegetables
  • French toast, pancake and waffle batter
  • Peanut butter or chocolate spread (e.g. Nutella)
  • Marinades for meat and seafood (delish with grilled shrimp—here’s a recipe)
  •  
    What if you simply have too much amaretto?

    Give it away. Our Dad, who didn’t drink alcohol, had four bottles in his closet—and didn’t understand the concept of re-gifting.

    Tie a bow around the neck; and if you feel you need to buy something, add some liqueur glasses.

    Not enough amaretto?

    Make your own with this recipe.

     

    RECIPE: AMARETTO BROWNIES WITH AMARETTO FROSTING

    Thanks to Rosie Bucherati of King Arthur Flour for this yummy recipe.

    Ingredients For About 4 Dozen Small Squares

    For The Brownies

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnish: 1/3 cup tablespoons sliced or slivered almonds
  •  
    For The Amaretto Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup natural or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (for enhanced flavor)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

     

    Amaretto Brownies

    Amaretto Pound Cake

    Anything baked tastes good with amaretto. [1] Amaretto brownies (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Amaretto pound cake with amaretto glaze (photo courtesy The Baker Chick).

     
    2. MELT the butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until melted (or you can microwave). Add sugar, stirring until combined. Remove from the heat, and cool to lukewarm. Stir in the eggs and amaretto.

    3. ADD the flour, salt and espresso powder, beating gently until thoroughly combined. Spread the batter into the pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    4. MAKE the frosting. Combine the butter and chocolate in bowl, stirring until smooth. Add the sifted confectioner’s sugar alternately with the milk, beating on medium speed. Stir in the amaretto and espresso powder.

    5. SPREAD the icing on the cooled brownies. Garnish with almonds. Cover and refrigerate the brownies for at least 1 hour before serving; this will help the icing set, and make cutting a lot less messy.

    6. CUT the brownies in small squares to serve. Cover any leftovers, and store at cool room temperature. If it’s warm in your house, you can wrap them airtight and store in the fridge for a day or so; or freeze for longer storage.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Animal Crackers

    National Animal Crackers Day is celebrated on April 18th.

    You’re never too adult to enjoy animal crackers..and since your palate is likely much evolved since childhood, to taste the superiority of homemade versions.

    Any adult will smile at a plate of cookie nostalgia with a cup of coffee or tea (and listen to six-year-old Shirley Temple sing “Animal Crackers In My Soup”).

    The standard-bearer, Barnum’s Animal Crackers, have far less sugar than other cookies. In fact, they’re barely sweet enough to be called a cookie.

    So why are they called crackers?

    Animal crackers originated in Britain in 1889, when P.T. Barnum toured with his circus. British manufacturers called them animal biscuits, biscuits being the British word for cookie.

    The cookies were exported to the U.S. When American manufacturers made their own versions, they changed the word biscuit to cracker instead of cookie (we opine, because consumers would expect cookies to be sweeter).

    Today, brands like Annie’s and Best Choice call their products animal cookies…and add a more sugar to the recipe.

    Here’s more history of animal crackers.

    This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, uses small (2” to 2¼”) spring-loaded plunger cutters. You can buy a set of four for $9.95: elephant, giraffe, lion and zebra. You plunge down, then pop the dough right out.

    If you don’t want to buy the cutters, use whatever animal cookie cutters you have—even large ones.
     
    RECIPE: ANIMAL COOKIES

    This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, makes sweet, buttery cookies. It uses Princess Cake & Cookie Flavor, an extract that combines vanilla and lemon and emulates the flavor profile and aroma of Barnum’s Animal Crackers.

    If you don’t want to purchase a bottle, you can substitute only vanilla extract, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract, almond extract, anise extract, other flavor of choice.

    Prep time is 15 to 20 minutes; bake time is 8 to 10 minutes per sheet.

    Ingredients For About 5 Dozen Cookies

  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, soft
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Princess Cake and Cookie Flavor (or substitute)
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oat flour or finely ground rolled oats
  •  

    Homemade Animal Cookies

    Animal Cookie Cutters

    Homemade Animal Crackers

    [1] Homemade animal cookies. [2] Make your own with these little plunger cookie cutters (photos #1 and #2 courtesy King Arthur Flour). [3] Here’s a vegan recipe from Dessert With Benefits.

     
    Preparation

    1. BEAT together the butter, sugar, honey, salt, baking soda, and flavor until well combined. Add the flour and oat flour, mixing to combine.

    2. DIVIDE the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk; then wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease several baking sheets, or line them with parchment.

    4. TAKE one piece of dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough 1/4″ thick.

    5. DIP the animal cookie cutters in flour (each time you cut), then use them to cut the dough. Using the cutters may take a little practice, not to mention patience making so many small cookies. Press the cutter down by the outside edges first, then use the plunger to emboss before picking up; and push the plunger again to release the cookie over the baking sheet.

    6. TRANSFER the cookies to the prepared baking sheets and freeze for 15 minutes. This help the cookies retain their shape and imprint.

    7. BAKE the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges (do not let the cookies brown). Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until set. Then transfer the cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
     
     
    HOW ABOUT 3-D ANIMAL CRACKERS

    Check ‘em out!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Mini Cheese Balls For The Cheese Course

    Mini Cheese Balls

    Mini Cheese Balls

    Mini Cheese Balls

    Mini Cheese Balls

    Port Wine Cheddar

    [1] Mini cheese balls in phyllo cups. Here’s the recipe from A Spicy Perspective. [2] Stick a pretzel in it—or a carrot stick. Here’s the recipe from Five Heart Home. [3] Some like it hot. Here’s the recipe from Young Austinian. [4] Serve cheese balls with a green salad, combining the cheese course and the salad course. Here, the cheese balls are fried goat cheese. Get the recipe is from Anna Costa Food. [5] The granddaddy of cheese balls is cold pack cheese, which itself was inspired by Scadinavian potkäse.

     

    National Cheese Ball Day is April 17th. But if you’re not having a party—home of the cheese ball—you can turn that hefty cheese ball mini cheese balls.

    Serve them:

  • As appetizers.
  • With the salad course.
  • As dessert (sweet cheese balls).
  • As a fancy snack.
  •  
    A few different recipes will enhance the experience.

    If you don’t have your own favorite recipes, check the recipes in the photo captions.

    THE HISTORY OF THE CHEESE BALL

    The cheese ball is rooted cold-pack cheese, also known as club cheese or crock cheese, which began as a snack in Wisconsin taverns and supper clubs around the turn of the last century.

    Cold pack cheese originated in Wisconsin (we’ll get to that in a few paragraphs).

    In our youth, a crock of port wine cheddar was considered sophisticated party fare, served with party pumpernickel slices or fancy crackers (in those days, Stoned Wheat Thins and Carr’s Water Biscuits) or (never everyday crackers such as saltines, Ritz crackers, Town House or Uneeda Biscuits).

    According to the New York Times, the tradition derived from Scandinavia, where cooks would grind odd bits of cheese with seasonings and often a bit of alcohol, and pack the resulting spread into jars or crocks, with a top layer of butter to preserve it.

    It spread (no pun intended) to Britain, and then turned up in the U.S.

    At taverns and private clubs, sharp cheese and cream cheese were blended into a spread that went well with beer and drinks. The crock engendered cheese balls and cheese logs, coated with herbs and/or nuts.

    Cream cheese is an American invention from 1872 in New York State. It began to get wider distribution in 1880 (history).

    At Wisconsin taverns in the early 1900s (including Milwaukee’s Pabst Brewery), mixed bits of different cheeses were turned into a snack for customers that became known as pub cheese—a term that still survives, but is know better known in stores as cold pack cheese.

    The Center for Dairy Research (CDR) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison proposes that cold pack began as a type of dip or spread made from older cheeses that were beginning to dry out.

    Potkäse, a similar potted cheese recipe from Sweden and Denmark, would have been well-known to the many families of Swedish immigrants in the Midwest.

    According to the CDR, as reported in Edible Milwaukee, a beer depot operator named Hubert Fassbender began giving homemade cold pack cheese to his best customers in 1933.

    Customers started asking for the cheese without the beer. Fassbender created the Fassbender’s Kaukauna* Klub brand, making him the first manufacturer of cold pack cheese.

    The following year, in 1934, Armin Herke formed the Calumet Cheese Company, and used surplus cuts of cheese to produce cold pack. The brand later became known as WisPride and remains popular today (it is now owned by Bel Brands).

    A trend was born.

    It was just a jump from cold pack to cheese logs and cheese balls.

    A classic cheese ball combines shredded sharp cheese like cheddar or blue, blended with cream cheese (sometimes also with butter) for spreadability. Popular seasonings include chile, chives/onion, garlic and herbs.

    Chopped vegetables can be mixed in. The ball is then rolled in nuts and/or herbs.

    Sweet cheese balls evolved with time: fruit, sugar and cream cheese, cocoa, sugar and cream cheese, etc., mixed with anything from mini chocolate chips to cookie bits, and rolled in Oreo (or other cookie) crumbs, pomegranate arils, toffee bits or other sweet ingredient.

    They can be served as snacks or as dessert.

    From Wisconsin, the mighty cheese ball spread across the nation.

    Is there a part of the U.S. that doesn’t know about cheese balls?

    If so, let us know: We’ll clue them in.

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    *Kaukauna is a Wisconsin city situated on the Fox River, approximately 100 miles north of Milwaukee. The name is a Native American word for “place where pickerel [pike] are caught.”

     

     
      

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