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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 Recipes

TIP OF THE DAY: Chocolate Chip Mint Cupcakes

chocolate-mint-cupcakes-zulkasugarFB-230

St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes. Photo courtesy
Zulka.

 

Family-owned Zulka manufacturers premium-quality sugars/ They’re dedicated to producing more natural sugar through responsible, environmentally friendly cane production. The sugars are minimally processed, which helps to preserve the fresh flavor of the sugar cane and more of the nutrition that is stripped away when cane is processed. The result: better tasting sugar!

The company provides lots of recipes for how to use the sugars. Here’s their suggestion for the perfect St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes. Get out your muffin tins!

RECIPE: CHOCOLATE MINT CUPCAKES

Ingredients For 18 Cupcakes

For The Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup canola oil*
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 1/3 cup full fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 cups mini chocolate chips, divided
  • For the Frosting:

  • 6 ounces full fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon mint extract (use more for a stronger flavor)
  • 6-10 drops green food coloring
  •  
    *Mild virgin olive oil, sunflower or grapeseed oil can be substituted.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare the muffin tins with 18 cupcake liners.

    2. COMBINE the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl, whisking well. Set aside.

    3. MIX the butter and sugars until in a large bowl with an electric or stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

    4. ADD the melted and cooled cocoa mixture, mixing well until fully combined. Add the oil and extracts and mix again, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.

    5. ADD the sour cream and then the flour mixture and mix slowly until just combined. Add the milk and mix for another 20 seconds. Fold in 1 cup of the mini chocolate chips.

    6. FILL the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the tops of the cupcakes bounce back slightly when lightly pressed. Let them cool in the pan for 3 minutes, then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

     

    zulka-morena-cane-sugar-2-230

    Cane sugar, one of the three different types used in this recipe. Check out the different types of sugar in our sugar glossary. Photo courtesy Zulka Morena.

     

    7. MAKE the frosting. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese, butter and salt until lightened and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well in between each addition.

    8. ADD the vanilla extract and food coloring, starting with small amounts until you reach the desired flavor and color. It will darken more as it sits.

    9. FROST the tops of each cupcake using either a spatula or a frosting bag fitted with an open star tip, and sprinkle the remaining mini chocolate chips on top. Serve at room temperature.

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Apple Leprechaun Snack

    apple-leprechaun-kitchenfunwithmy3sons-230

    Have fun with your food. Photo courtesy Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons.

     

    Even adults can have fun with this apple leprechaun. It was created by Jill of Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons. Yes, the kids help.

    RECIPE: LEPRECHAUN FRUIT SNACK

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 green apple
  • 1 clementine or other mandarin
  • 1 strawberry
  • 2 edible candy eyes
  • 4 mini heart or shamrock sprinkles
  • Peanut butter or toothpicks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the front off of the apple and cut out a hat from that slice. Attach it on the top using half of a toothpick. Save the apple scraps to cut out a nose.

     

    2. CUT a slice of strawberry to make the mouth. Press on the edible eyes; they will stick. (Everything should stick, but you can also use peanut butter to secure the pieces.)

    3. CUT the clementine slices in half to make the beard. Break toothpicks in half to secure them, if needed.

    4. PRESS the heart sprinkles on the hat to make a shamrock.

    Here’s the full article.
     
    WHAT’S A LEPRECHAUN?

    The leprechauns of Irish folklore are not sweet and loving pixies. These fairies are full of mischief!

    Leprechauns are usually depicted as a little old man wearing breeches, a coat and hat. When not up to practical jokes, they are solitary creatures who spend their time making and mending shoes.

    And of course, they have a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    If he is captured by a human, a leprechaun has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for their freedom.

    As for female leprechauns: No one has ever seen one!

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY DAY: Cook With Beer For St. Patrick’s Day

    Beer lovers know the fun of cooking with beer.

    A quick look at TasteOfHome.com revealed 30 recipes with beer, including beer battered fish, bread, dip, braised ribs, cheese soup, chili, glazed steaks, green beans, fondue, mac and cheese, mustard, potato wedges, pot roast, roast chicken and beef stew. Whew!

    Our suggestion is for a breakfast treat, Irish soda muffins and jam, both made with Irish Red ale.

    Boston beer king Samuel Adams asked two local artisan food producers, both members of their Brewing the American Dream Program, to make St. Patrick’s Day recipes with its beer. The result is yummy. We could start every day with the Irish soda muffins!

    If today is a good baking day for you, whip up a batch of muffins. Enjoy some warm out of the oven, and stick the rest in the freezer for St. Patrick’s Day breakfast.

    The muffin recipe is by Sandy Russo of LuLu’s Sweet Shoppe in Boston’s North End. They taste just like Irish soda bread, but with the denser texture of muffins.

    RECIPE: IRISH SODA MUFFINS

    Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons barley malt* (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup Samuel Adams Irish Red†
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Garnish: sanding sugar (substitute table sugar)
  •    

    irish-soda-muffins-kingarthur-230

    Bites of heaven: Irish soda muffins. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

    *Look for barley malt powder, also called diastatic malt powder or barley flour, at health food or brewing supplies shops; or buy it online. It keeps well in the freezer in a tightly sealed container, and can be used to make bagels and other bread doughs.

    †If you can’t find Irish Red, substitute Boston Lager.
     
    Preparation

    1. POSITION the rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray the top of a muffin pan with non-stick coating and line with paper liners.

    2. CREAM together in a large bowl the butter, sugar and barley malt until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla.

    3. MIX in the flour, salt and baking powder with the paddle attachment on low speed, just until incorporated. Add the beer until incorporated. Next add the sour cream, caraway seeds and raisins. Scrape down the sides of bowl and beat until smooth, about 25 seconds.

    4. SCOOP into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops lightly with sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and spring back when lightly tapped.

     

    irish-red-bottle-230

    Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a bottle of Irish Red. Photo courtesy Samuel Adams.

     

    RECIPE: ST. PADDY’S DAY JAM

    This recipe is by Allen Chrisholm of Al’s Backwoods Berrie Co. in Plymouth, Massachusetts. For a festive touch, add four drops of green food coloring to create a green jam—perfect for spreading on Irish soda bread muffins on St. Patrick’s Day!

    Ingredients For 7 Eight-Ounce Jars

  • 2 bottles Samuel Adams Irish Red* or Boston Lager
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch of orange zest
  • 2/3 cup of dry, store bought pectin (2 full packages)
  • 5 cups sugar
  • Optional: 4 drops green food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the beer in a saucepan along with the honey and orange zest. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the pectin very slowly. Once the pectin is added, return the mixture to a boil for 1 minute, constantly stirring the mixture so it does not burn.

    2. ADD the sugar very slowly and bring the mixture back to a boil.

    3. BOIL the jars and the lids in a separate pan so that when you fill them, they are as hot as the jam. Fill and seal the jars and turn them upside down for 3 to 5 minutes; then return them upright. Let cool.

     

    WHAT IS IRISH RED ALE?

    Originally brewed in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1710, Irish red ales are known for their rich and smooth flavor plus balance, making them ideal for warmer days yet pleasant during the chilly ones.

    Deep russet in color, Samuel Adams Irish Red is inspired by the red ales of Ireland (just about every brewer there makes it).

    Full of hearty, roasty character and a backbone of malty sweetness, Samuel Adams Irish Red is “brewed to suit the cool rainy days,” according to the brewer.

    Irish Reds are easy to drink: well-rounded, a bit sweet, with a lightly hopped tea-like flavor and a pleasant toasted malt character. If you have a source for imports, look for Killian’s, Murphy’s, Smithwick’s and other Irish brands. Perhaps you can celebrate the day with an Irish Red tasting!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Kale, Bacon & Pistachio Pasta

    This recipe may not be Irish (kale and bacon work, but pistachio nuts are originally from Central Asia and the Middle East, and pasta is from Italy by way of China and Arabia).

    But it sure is green and right on trend, if you’d rather not have the conventional corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew on St. Patrick’s Day.

    The recipe is from McCormick: In this fresh pasta sauce, kale, avocado and pistachios are puréed with chicken stock, garlic and Italian seasoning for an easy dish that packed with flavor.

    And it uses a charming short cut of pasta, the campanelle (cahm-pah-NELL-lay), a delicate-looking but sturdy shape that looks like a bell-like flower. It is typically served with a thick sauce, or in a casserole, where its fluted shape and hollow center help catch the sauce.

    Barilla makes campanelle, and you may be able to find imported brands. If you can’t find them locally, you can order them online.

    By the way, although no market carries them all, there are hundreds of different pasta shapes. Check them out in our Pasta Glossary.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: KALE, BACON & PISTACHIO PASTA

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 package (16 ounces) pasta, such as campanelle or fusilli
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 6 cups chopped kale, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning*
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 avocado, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, divided
  •    

    campanelle-kale-bacon-pistachio-mccormick-230

    A sauce of kale and bacon for St. Patrick’s Day pasta. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    *You can purchase an Italian seasoning blend or make your own. Combine two tablespoons each of, basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Store in an airtight container away from light and heat.

     

    campanelle-barilla-230

    Instead of the same old same old, try a new
    pasta shape every time you buy short cuts.
    Photo courtesy Barilla.

     

    Preparation

    1. COOK the pasta as directed on the package. Drain well. Meanwhile…

    2. COOK the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain it on paper towels; then crumble and set aside.

    3. ADD 2 cups of the kale to the bacon drippings in skillet; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or just until kale is tender-crisp. Remove the kale and set aside.

    4. ADD the onion to the skillet; cook and stir for 2 minutes (add oil if needed). Add the chicken stock and seasonings; bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low; simmer 5 minutes.

    5. PLACE the remaining 4 cups of kale in a blender. Add the avocado, pistachios, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and 1/2 of the crumbled bacon. Add the hot stock mixture. Cover the blender with the lid, with center part removed. Cover the lid with a towel. Blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Blend on high speed until mixture is smooth.

    6. PLACE the pasta in a serving bowl. Top with the kale sauce, cooked kale, the remaining crumbled bacon and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with additional chopped pistachios, if desired.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake A Pie, It’s Pi Day Of The Century!

    Mathematically, today is Pi Day: 3.14. As you learned in high school geometry, the Greek symbol is used in mathematics to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, a constant which begins with 3.14159.

    Sorry we can’t show the Greek symbol in these paragraphs: WordPress keeps converting it to a question mark and we couldn’t make any of the help forum ideas work. So we’ve chosen the fetching “pi pie” in the photo at right to help out.

    Today is actually an extra-special Pi Day, the Pi Day of the Century: 3.14.15. The first ten digits of pi, which extends to infinity beyond the decimal point (it has been calculated up to trillions of places), are 3.141592653. There’s more about pi below.

    Thus, 9:26:53 a.m. is the Pi Moment of the Century.

    Some people are obsessed with memorizing as many digits of pi as possible. The Guinness Book Of World Records names the record holder as a man named Lu Chao. He set the record in November 2005 at Northwest A & F University in the Shaanxi province of China. It took him 24 hours and 4 minutes to recite the 67,890th decimal place of pi without a mistake. [Source]

    Congratulations, Mr. Lu, but we’d prefer to eat pie rather than memorize pi. Culinarily, we use Pi Day as an excuse to have a different type of pie each year.

       

    pi-pie-day-greatmindsofscience.tumblr-230

    Since we couldn’t get the Greek symbol for pi to appear in WordPress, we found a photo of a real “pi pie” on GreatMindsOfScience. Tumblr.com. The pi symbol is in the center and the first 31 digits circle the rim. If you know who created this masterpiece, let us know.

     
    Yes, Pi Day is celebrated by pastry fans around the world. How about a piece of the award-winning pie below? It won a blue ribbon at the 2014 National Pie Championships.

    Norske Nook is a restaurant and bakery in western Wisconsin that has received 36 blue ribbons in the past 10 years at the National Pie Championship, competing in a field of more than 500 pies.

    The restaurant announces its new cookbook today: The Norske Nook Book Of Pies & Other Recipes. It will be released next month, but you can pre-order it now.

    In the interim, they provided this delicious pie recipe.

    RECIPE: LEMON CREAM CHEESE PIE

    Most icebox pie recipes require no cooking: You simply refrigerate or freeze the completed pie. Others, like the recipe below, need only a bit of time on the stove top or in the oven. This recipe requires a bit of both.

    After you get the pie into the fridge, check out the different types of pies in our delicious Pie & Pastry Glossary.

    Ingredients For An 11-Inch Pie

  • 1 single crust, baked
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 container (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 5 large egg yolk
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cups hot water
  • Garnish: fresh whipped cream
  •  

    lemon-cream-cheese-pie-norsknook-uwisconsinpress-230r

    An award winning pie for Pi Day. Photo courtesy University Of Wisconsin Press.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX the cream cheese and powdered sugar in an electric stand mixer until smooth. Fold in half the whipped topping and mix to combine. With a rubber spatula, continue mixing by hand.

    2. SPREAD the filling into the bottom of the baked crust.

    3. MIX the sugar, salt and cornstarch in a saucepan over high heat. Whisk in the egg yolks, lemon juice and hot water. Cook until thickened and the center is boiling. Transfer to a plastic bowl and refrigerate until cool.

    4. MOUND the cooled mixture over the cream cheese layer. Top with the rest of the whipped topping or fresh whipped cream. Keep refrigerated.

    THE HISTORY OF PI

    Pi is a mathematical constant, a special number that is significantly interesting in some way to mathematicians.

    But why was the 16th letter of the Greek alphabet (it translates to “p” in the Roman alphabet), chosen as a mathematical symbol to represent the constant ratio of the circumference to the diameter of any circle?

     

    The credit for what turns about to be a great idea goes to a Welsh mathematician William Jones (1675-1749). In a 1706 work called Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos (A New Introduction to the Mathematics), he abbreviated the Greek word root for periphery, meaning “circumference,” to pi.

    Before Jones used the pi symbol, the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle was referred to in this wordy phrase from medieval Latin: quantitas in quam cum multiflicetur diameter, proveniet circumferencia (the quantity which, when the diameter is multiplied by it, yields the circumference). Whew!

    Here’s more about pi.

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Green Velvet Cupcakes

    Easy-Green-Velvet-Cupcakes-mccormick-ps-230

    St. Patrick’s Day cupcakes. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.

     

    The popularity of red velvet cake has opened the doors for other brightly-colored cakes. Duncan Hines even has a seasonal line of “Velvet” mixes: Spring Velvets (pink and yellow layers), Summer Velvets (blue and red layers with white frosting for July 4th), Autumn Velvets (orange and brown layers) and Holiday Velvets (red and green layers).

    But in this easy recipe for Green Velvet Cupcakes, German chocolate cake mix is used, along with an entire bottle of green food color. You can leave the frosting vanilla-flavored or add mint extract. You can leave the frosting white or tint it green.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes. Don’t forget that you’ll need two 12-well muffin tins and paper liners! These shamrock cupcake liners have free standard shipping.

    RECIPE: GREEN VELVET CUPCAKES

    A green twist on classic red velvet, these cupcakes are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, with a delicious cream cheese frosting.

     
    Ingredients For 24 Servings

  • 1 package (2-layer size) German chocolate cake mix with pudding (e.g. Betty Crocker’s)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bottle green food color
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •  

    For The Frosting

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 box (16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon green food color
  • Decorations: green sprinkles, sanding sugar or confetti shamrocks
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Beat the cake mix, sour cream, water, cocoa powder, oil, food color, eggs and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed, just until moistened, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

    2. POUR the batter into 24 paper-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

     

    green-food-color_mccormick-230

    You’ll need one bottle for the cupcakes, plus more if you want to tint the frosting green. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    3. COOL in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans; cool completely on wire rack.

    4. MAKE the cream cheese frosting. Beat the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add optional mint extract and green food color. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Makes 2-1/2 cups.

    5. FROST the cooled cupcakes. Decorate with sprinkles.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Arugula Pizza

    arugula-pizza609972SXC

    Arugula pizza, here shown with pine nuts and crumbled goat cheese. Photo courtesy SXC.

     

    Last week we finally made it across town to a pizza café we’ve been yearning to try. It’s called Farinella Bakery. What they bake are the most heavenly pizzas and calzones.

    We haven’t yet tried the calzones yet; there are too many great pizza toppings to work our way through. In the glass case in front of us were some 20 different gourmet pizzas by the slice, on the thinnest, cut on rectangles, with crispest crust we’ve had in memory.

    We chose three of the slices, starting with Tartuffo (sliced sautéed mushrooms atop a mushroom-ricotta paste, drizzled with truffle oil) and V.I.P (artichoke heart pesto, fresh mint, pecorino romano, goat cheese and black pepper. Both were as delicious as we’d hoped.

    But our third slice, Filetto, blew us away. What a simple yet divine concept: fresh cherry tomato filets (an Italian reference to roasted cherry tomatoes) and mozzarella, garnished with fresh arugula.

    Not just a few leaves, mind you, but a thorough carpeting of fresh, peppery, bright green arugula. It will be hard to return to Farinella without adding a slice of it to our order.

     

    For St. Patrick’s Day lunch, we’ll be making our own version of arugula pizza. While arugula is a popular ingredient in Italy (where it’s called rucola), for St. Pat’s you can call it fusion food, taking inspiration from the Emerald Isle.

    No matter what you choose, you’re in for a treat.

     

    ARUGULA PIZZA VARIATIONS

    We’ll be trying some variations of Farinella’s simple yet elegant recipe.

  • Salty is a good counterpoint to the pepperiness of the arugula, so we’ll add anchovies or sardines to one side of our pizza, and prosciutto or serrano ham to the other.
  • If you like heat, sprinkle with chili flakes or minced or sliced jalapeño.
  • If you want more cheese, consider a garnish of crumbled blue, feta or goat cheese, or shaved Parmesan.
  • You can also add a garnish of pine nuts (pignoli in Italian).
  • It you’d like more seasoning, get out the oregano.
  • Down the road, we’ll try a blend of fresh basil and arugula.
  •  
    We’ll never be able to turn out a brilliant crust like the masters at Farinella, but we can guarantee: There won’t be a crumb left over.

    You don’t have to wait for St. Patrick’s Day to head to the store for arugula, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and a pizza crust.

     

    arugula-salvatica-wild-burpee-230

    Fresh-picked arugula. Try growing it in your garden! Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     
    THE HISTORY OF ARUGULA

    Arugula, botanical name Eruca sativa, is a member of the Brassicaceae family of great-for-you cruciferous vegetables. It’s called rocket in the U.K. and rucola in Italy, its home turf.

    A pungent, peppery, leafy green vegetable resembling a longer-leafed, open lettuce, arugula is rich in vitamin C and potassium. The leaves, flowers, young seed pods and mature seeds are all edible.

    Used as an edible herb in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, it was gathered wild or grown in home gardens along with other staples like basil and parsley.

     
    ARUGULA SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • In Italy, raw arugula is often added to pizzas just before the baking period ends or immediately after as a garnish, so that it won’t wilt from the heat.
  • It’s chopped and added to sauces and cooked dishes, or made directly into a sauce by frying it in olive oil and garlic. It is also used a condiment for cold meats and fish (substitute it for parsley in a gremolata).
  • In the Puglia region of Southern Italy, the pasta dish cavatiéddi combines copious amounts of coarsely chopped arugula with tomato sauce and grated pecorino cheese.
  • Add chopped arugula parsley-style to boiled potatoes, as they do in Slovenia.
  • For an appetizer or lunch main, serve the Italian dish straccietti, thin slices of beef with raw arugula and parmesan cheese.
  • Enjoy arugula raw in salads, as part of a mesclun mix or with perlini (small mozzarella balls) and fresh or sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Use it instead of lettuce on a sandwich.
  • Cook it in an omelet, with or without your favorite cheese.
  •  
    There are many other ways to serve arugula, raw or cooked. Feel free to add your favorites.
     
    Food trivia: Arugula was mentioned by classical authors, including Virgil, as an aphrodisiac. For that reason, it was often mixed with lettuce, which was thought to have a calming influence (source).

    Here’s the history of pizza.

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Irish Cream Swirl Brownies

    Irish-Cream-Swirl-Brownies-mccormick-230

    Irish Cream Swirl Brownies. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    The zebra brownie takes on a seasonal twist with a splash of Irish cream liqueur and green food coloring. Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes.

    RECIPE: IRISH CREAM SWIRL BROWNIES

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 1 package fudge brownie mix (or adapt your own from-scratch recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon green food color
  • Optional: vanilla ice cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the brownie mix as directed on the package, adding the vanilla.

    2. RESERVE 1 cup of batter. Spread the remaining batter in greased 9-inch square baking pan. (Tip: For easy clean-up, line the pan with foil, with the ends of the foil extending over sides of pan. Use foil handles to remove brownie from pan.)

    3. BEAT the cream cheese, flour and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the Irish cream liqueur, egg and food color; beat until well blended. Pour over the brownie layer in pan. Drop the reserved 1 cup of batter by spoonfuls over the cream cheese layer. Cut through batter with knife several times for the marble effect.

    4. BAKE as directed on package for 9-inch square baking pan. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Serve with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Chocolate Bark

    white-pistachio-bark-pan-blogerikarax-230

    It couldn’t be easier to make chocolate bark. Photo courtesy Erika Rax.

     

    We found this tip from Erika Rax, a home baker living in Sydney, Australia.

    “I have a little secret to make really pretty and quick bark,” she says.

    Forget the chopping and melting of chocolate, ladies and gents. Erika’s technique will give you almost instant bark for special family treats or gifting. In the conventional technique, the inclusions get mixed into the chocolate. Here, they sit on top—an even prettier presentation, with no dimunition of flavor.

    Erika’s pistachio and rosemary bark, green ingredients on a white chocolate background, is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. For Christmas, add some dried cherries or cranberries.

    RECIPE: THE EASIEST CHOCOLATE BARK

    Ingredients

  • White chocolate bar(s)
  • Chopped pistachio nuts
  • Fresh rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 170°F/75°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the bar(s) on the parchment.

    2. ARRANGE the toppings over the bar. Place the sheet in the oven for 3-5 minutes until it just starts to soften. Take care not to overbake or the bar will lose shape.

    3. REMOVE from the oven. We lifted the parchment from the pan to cool on the counter, so the bars would not continue to get heat from the pan.
     
    Erika wrapped her gift bars in parchment paper, tied with a piece of kitchen string and a sprig of fresh rosemary. It’s charming! Here’s the photo.

    Find more of Erika’s tips at Blog.ErikaRax.com.

     
      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Guacamole Recipe

    What’s Irish about guacamole, the quintessential Mesoamerican sauce, we wondered as we saw the headline in the email for St. Patrick’s Day Guacamole, sent to us by the California Avocado Commission.

    The answer: the integration of Irish ingredients—bacon, carrots, Cheddar, onion, parsley—into conventional guacamole. The idea was developed by Sabrina Modelle of TheTomatoTart.com.

    Alas, conventional Irish crackers (cream crackers, digestive biscuits, oat cakes) don’t go well with guacamole. Instead, default to tortilla chips.

    Food Should Taste Good makes Guacamole Tortilla Chips that have a slight green tinge, but we’re going with their Yellow Corn Dipping Chips.

    And some Irish beer.

    Prep time is 20 minutes. For a beautiful presentation, set aside a small portion of the Step 2 ingredients to use as garnish.
     
    RECIPE: ST. PATRICK’S DAY GUACAMOLE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 ripe Hass* avocados, seeded and peeled
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  •    

    guacamole-sabrinamodelle-calavocomm-230

    Guacamole with “Irish” ingredients for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy TheTomatoTart.com.

  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ cup very finely diced carrots
  • ¼ cup very finely diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ jalapeño, seeded and very finely diced (optional)
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • ¼ cup very finely chopped parsley
  • 2 ounces Irish Cheddar cheese, crumbled (substitute other sharp Cheddar)
  • Tortilla chips, crudités or other dippers (how about green endive leaves?)
  •  
    *While there are much larger varieties of avocado, the Haas has the creamiest, most delicious flesh. As a result, 98% of the avocados grown in Mexico are Hass, a variety discovered as a seedling by Rudolph Hass, a California postman who planted it in his front yard in the 1920s. He patented the cultivar in 1935.

     

    avocados-board-hassavocado-230

    The avocado was long considered too sexual for “proper” people to eat. Photo courtesy Hass Avocado Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. MASH the avocado with lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

    2. STIR in the bacon, carrots, cheese, garlic, jalapeño, onion and parsley.

    3. GARNISH and serve.
     
    THE HISTORY OF GUACAMOLE

    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown there for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs called it ahuacatl; the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they adopted.

    Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

     

    The name guacamole comes from Mexican Spanish via the Nahuatl “ahuacamOlli,” a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant. According to Linda Stradley on the website WhatsCookingInAmerica.com, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”

      

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