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TIP OF THE DAY: Cooking & Baking With Crème Fraîche

It would be fair to say that most home bakers in the U.S. have never worked with crème fraîche. It isn’t carried everywhere, it’s pricier than heavy cream and sour cream, which can be used instead of it in most recipes.

Today’s tip is: Find some and work with it.

WHAT IS CRÈME FRAÎCHE?

Crème fraîche (pronounced crem fresh, French for “fresh cream”) is a thickened cream—not as thick as sour cream, more of the consistency of yogurt. That’s an appropriate analogy because both are slightly soured with bacterial culture. Crème fraîche has more fat than either, for a richer experience.

Originally from Normandy, the dairy heartland of France, today crème fraîche used throughout Continental and American cuisines.

Sour cream, which is more accessible and less expensive, can be substituted in most recipes; but crème fraîche has additional advantages:

  • It can be whipped, and it will not curdle when cooked over high heat.
  • It’s a bit lighter in body than commercial sour creams, more subtly sour, and overall more elegant.
  •  
    Crème fraîche is made by inoculating unpasteurized heavy cream with Lactobacillus cultures, letting the bacteria grow until the cream is both soured and thick and then pasteurizing it to stop the process.

    Thus, authentic crème fraîche cannot be made at home in the U.S., because only pasteurized cream is available to consumers. Adding Lactobacillus to pasteurized cream will cause it to spoil instead of sour.

    However, you can still make it at home with pasteurized cream. Here’s a crème fraîche recipe plus the difference between crème fraîche, mascarpone, sour cream and similar products.
     
    Uses For Crème Fraîche Beyond Baking

  • Creamy salad dressings and soups
  • Crêpe and omelet fillings
  • Sauces for vegetables
  • Topping for fresh fruit and other desserts
  • Coffee, creamy cocktails and bittersweet hot chocolate
  • Caviar (or roe of any kind) and smoked salmon
  • Guilty pleasure (eating it from the container)
  •  
    RECIPE: DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CRÈME FRAÎCHE CUPCAKES WITH CRÈME FRAÎCHE FROSTING

    Because you have to start somewhere, here’s a recipe that few people would decline: chocolate cupcakes. The star ingredient in these beautiful cupcakes from Hummingbird High is crème fraîche, used in both the cake and frosting. Rich, chocolaty cupcakes are topped with a creamy, velvety, simple-to-make frosting.

    Ingredients For 12 Cupcakes

  • 1 ounce 72%* cacao dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup (3.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) Vermont Creamery crème fraîche, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  •    

    Salmon Caviar Creme Fraiche

    Tomato Soup Creme Fraiche

    Chocolate Ganache

    Creme Fraiche Cupcakes Recipe

    [1] Crème fraîche on a baby potato, topped with salmon caviar (photo Fotolia). [2] Tomato soup with caviar in the base and as a garnish (photo courtesy Munchery). [3] A classic chocolate ganache is made from chocolate and cream. Corn syrup is added for glossiness. Here’s the recipe from King Arthur Flour. [4] Crème fraîche cupcakes, recipe below (photo courtesy Michelle Lopez | Hummingbird High).

     
    Ingredients For The Chocolate Crème Fraîche Frosting (About 1 Cup)

  • 6 ounces 72% cacao dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces/1/2 stick) Vermont Creamery cultured unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) Vermont Creamery crème fraîche, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  •  
    ________________
    *A 72% bittersweet chocolate is perfect for lovers of bittersweet, and the cacao level used by top pastry chefs. However, if you prefer a lower percentage, go for it. You can make milk chocolate ganache and white chocolate ganache as well. The key is not the percentage cacao, but the quality of the chocolate. Ganache is de facto made just from chocolate and cream, but you can take a few liberties. We’ve added coffee to both dark chocolate and white chocolate ganaches. Here’s a recipe for chocolate ganache with crème fraîche instead of heavy cream.

     

    Creme Fraiche Vermont Creamery

    Creme Fraiche & Fruit

    [1] One of our fantasies: an entire bucket of crème fraîche from Vermont Creamery. [2] We’d use it to make everything, without forgetting the simple pleasure of crème fraîche with fresh berries (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    Preparation For The Cupcakes

    1. CENTER a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F. Prepare a 12-well muffin tin by lining with cupcake liners.

    2. COMBINE 1 ounce coarsely chopped dark chocolate and 1/3 cup hot coffee in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. DO NOT STIR. Let sit for 2 minutes to allow the chocolate to melt. As the chocolate is melting…

    3. COMBINE in a medium bowl 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; whisk until combined. Set aside.

    4. RETURN to the chocolate. At this point the chocolate should be melty and easily melt into the coffee when whisked. Turn the mixer to its lowest setting and whisk the chocolate and coffee together, then add 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup crème fraîche, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 large egg and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract. Continue whisking until just combined.

    5. STOP the mixer and sprinkle the dry ingredients (from the 3rd step) over the liquid ingredients (from the 4th step). Turn the mixer back on to medium-low and continue whisking until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.

    6. DIVIDE the batter evenly between the cupcake liners using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop. Be careful not to overfill and start with as little as 2 tablespoons per cupcake.

    7. BAKE in the preheated oven until the cupcakes are domed and the top springs back when gently touched, around 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack to room temperature before frosting.
     
    Preparation For The Chocolate Crème Fraîche Frosting

    1. MAKE the frosting. Combine 6 ounces of dark chocolate, 1/4 cup unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon light corn syrup in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl that sits on top of a pan of simmering water. The water in the pan should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Melt completely, using a heatproof rubber spatula to stir occasionally to combine the ingredients.

     
    2. REMOVE from the heat when the chocolate and butter have fully melted. Whisk the mixture gently to release more heat, before whisking in 1/4 cup crème fraîche and 2 tablespoons half-and-half. Continue whisking until both the crème fraîche and half-and-half are fully integrated and the frosting is a uniform dark chocolate color.

    3. SET the frosting aside for 15 minutes to cool more, giving the frosting a gentle whisk every 5 minutes to allow heat to escape. After 15 minutes, use the frosting. At first it will seem too liquidy, but the frosting will quickly cool as it is spread throughout the cake. Work quickly to frost the cake before the frosting cools completely: It will harden as it cools. Use an offset spatula or a butter knife to divide and spread the frosting evenly among the cupcakes, and garnish with any additional decoration.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Rosé Sangria (Think Pink!)

    rose-sangria-lamarina-230L

    Shades Of Rose Wine

    [1] Rosé sangria, an adieu to the formal summer season (photo courtesy La Marina restaurant | NYC). [2] The many shades of rosé depend upon the grape varietal and the length of skin contact (photo courtesy Jot Dot).

     

    We started the summer season with a rose tasting party, and we’re ending it more quietly, with pitchers of rose sangria. Easy to make, easy to drink, we have a pitcher in the fridge all weekend.

    RECIPE: ROSÉ SANGRIA

    Ingredients For 12 Cups

  • 2 bottles* rosé wine
  • 1 quart or liter* bottle club soda, seltzer or sparkling mineral water, chilled
  • 1/2 cup agave†, honey, superfine sugar or simple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup sliced nectarines or peaches
  • 1 cup melon, sliced
  • 2 blood oranges, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  •  
    Optional Alcohol

  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (types of orange liqueur) – or –
  • 1/4 cup blackberry, blackcurrant or raspberry liqueur (crème de mûre, crème de cassis, Chambord)
  •  
    ________________
    *1 quart is 32 ounces, 1 liter is 33.8 ounces, 1 standard wine bottle (750 ml) is 25.4 ounces.

    †Use equal amounts of agave or honey, but half as much agave as sugar. Agave is twice as sweet. Always add a portion, taste, and continue to add until the desired sweeteness is reached.

     
    Preparation

    Use a 1-gallon pitcher (128 ounces) or other vessel to blend. You’ll be making 84 ounces of sangria (more if you add brandy and liqueur), and also need room for the fruit. We like this oblong gallon pitcher because it fits more easily in the fridge.

    1. COMBINE the wine, brandy and liqueur and half of the sweetener in the pitcher. Blend well and taste; add more sweetener as desired. We prefer less added sugar to better enjoy the alcohol and the fruit.

    2. ADD the fruit and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day in advance. When ready to serve…

    3. Add the club soda, stir gently and serve.
     
    THE HISTORY OF SANGRIA

    Sangria appeared in Spain around 200 B.C.E., when the conquering Romans arrived and planted red grape vineyards. While the majority of the wine was shipped to Rome, the locals used some to make fruit punch, called sangria after the blood-red color.

    Here’s the scoop.

     

    WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

    Unlike Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and the other grape varietals, there is no rosé grape. Any red wine grape can make rosé.

    The term rosé refers to the pink color that is the result of allowing the pressed grape juice limited contact with red grape skins during vinification, a process known as maceration.

    Once it achieves the desired rosiness, the skin contact ends. Extended skin contact products red wine. The juice pressed from red wine grapes is the same color as the juice from white wine grapes: clear.

    A rosé wine can be actually be made by blending red and white wine together; however this is not a common process. Most rosés are dry wines made from red wine grapes. Some are sweeter, such as White Zinfandel; but this is an American taste for blush wine rather than a European tradition.

  • Pink wine, a term that encompasses rosé, blush, and anything else with a pink hue, can be any shade from pale pink to deep rose. It depends on the grape used and the length of skin contact (from one to three days).
  • Blush wine is an American term that refers specifically to pink wines made from red wine grapes, with only enough skin contact to produce a “blush” of red color.
  • The term first appeared in the U.S. in the early 1980s, as a marketing device to sell pink wines.
  • At the time, Americans were not buying rosé wines, while White Zinfandel, a sweet rosé wine, was flying off the shelves (at one point it was the largest-selling wine in America).
  • There weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes to meet demand, so winemakers had to use other red grape varietals. Pink wines made from other grapes could not legally be called “White Zinfandel,” so a new category name—blush—was created.
  • American pink wines, whether from Zinfandel or another grape, are typically sweeter and paler than French-style rosés. The term “blush” began to refer to not just to pink wines, but to those that were made on the slightly sweet side, like White Zinfandel.
  • These days, all three terms are used more or less interchangeably by people outside the wine-producing industry.
  •  
     
    NATIONAL SANGRIA DAY IS DECEMBER 20TH.

     

    Summer Rose Sangria Recipe

    Mixed Berries

    [1] While luscious summer fruits are still in the market, use them in your sangria. You can get apples and oranges any old time (photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco). [2] Don’t forget the berries (photo courtesy Giant Fresh).

     

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Ice Pops For National Blueberry Popsicle Day

    Blueberry Ice Pops

    Blueberry Cream Ice Pops

    [1] Puréed blueberries, perked up with a bit of lemon juice (photo courtesy Will Cook For Smiles). [2] Make a creamy blueberry pop with yogurt or non-dairy milk (photo courtesy A Healthy Life For Me). Here’s the recipe with almond and coconut milks; the recipe for a yogurt pop is below.

     

    September 1st is National Blueberry Popsicle Day, following close on the heels of National Cherry Popsicle Day, August 24th.

    Here’s the history of Popsicles (a happy accident!).

    But the name of the holidays needs to be changed. The Popsicle® brand doesn’t make blueberry Popsicles (here are the current flavors), for starters.

    Regardless of the flavor, only Unilever can call its ice pops Popsicles.

    Well sure, you can call it Popsicle for your own private use; but try to give brands the respect they deserve. Call them ice pops instead of Popsicles®, a slow cooker instead of Crock-Pot®, a food processor instead of Cuisinart®, tissues instead of Kleenex® and lip balm instead of Chapstick® (and on and on).

    Anyone can make or sell blueberry ice pops. And making them couldn’t be easier.

    RECIPE: EASY BLUEBERRY ICE POPS

    Ingredients

    First, chose what kind of blueberry you’ll use: blueberry juice, fresh or frozen blueberries. See the conversion table below.

  • 24 ounces blueberry juice (our favorite is Knudsen)
  • 1 pound bag frozen blueberries, puréed*
  • 1-2 pints fresh blueberries, puréed*
  •  
    Sweetener

    Next, choose your sweetener. These are pretty low caloric pops if you use non-caloric sweetener or agave (you need only half the amount of agave, as it’s twice as sweet).

  • Agave
  • Granulated (table) sugar
  • Honey
  • Non-caloric sweetener (the different types of sweeteners)
  • Simple syrup
  •  
    Plus

  • 1/3 cup water
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice (add a 3:1 ratio of juice to zest if you like)
  • Ice pop molds or paper cups with sticks or plastic spoons
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING bring the sugar (or other sweetener) and the water to a boil in a small sauce pan over high, stirring until the sugar (or other sweetener) dissolves. Transfer to a large measuring cup or other container and refrigerate for 30 minutes, until cool. If using blueberry juice, it may be sweet enough to avoid this step. Taste and decide.

    2. COMBINE the blueberry juice or puréed blueberries with the lemon or lime juice. Add the sweetener/water mix to taste. (The juice may need far less sweetening than the fresh or frozen berries.)

    3. STIR thoroughly and pour into ice pop molds. Freeze for 4-6 hours, with the mold tops on. If you’re not using ice pop molds with built-in handles, insert a stick into each mold after 1 or 2 hours when it can stand up straight.

    4. RUN the molds under warm water to release the pops for serving.
     

    BLUEBERRY CONVERSION MEASUREMENTS

    These measurements are from CooksInfo.com. Volume equivalents will vary based on size of the berries.

    Depending on how many pops you’re making and how many ounces are in each mold, determine how much fruit you need:

  • 1 pint fresh blueberries = 2 cups
  • 1 pound bag frozen berries = 3-1/2 cups
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries = 9 oz
  •  

    RECIPE: YOGURT & BLUEBERRY POPS

  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tables honey or other sweetener (see list above
  • 2 cups vanilla or blueberry Greek yogurt (or any flavor)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the blueberries and sweetener together (see footnote below).

    2. POUR into a large bowl, add the yogurt mix gently: For a swirled effect, use a spatula to make swirls in the bowl. You can also add the yogurt first, then the blueberries, to get a half-and-half effect in photo #2, above. Otherwise, combine thoroughly for a lighter purple pop.

    3. TASTE and adjust sweetener if desired, then pour into the molds or cups. Freeze for 4-6 hours, with the mold tops on. If you’re not using ice pop molds with built-in handles, insert a stick into each mold after 1 or 2 hours when it can stand up straight.

    4. RUN the molds under warm water to remove the pops.

     

    Blueberry Yogurt Pops Recipe

    [3] Don’t have ice pop molds? Use paper cups and sticks or plastic spoons. But ice pop moles are inexpensive. If you enjoy making pops, treat yourself to a set.

    ________________
    *To purée, place the berries in a food processor or blender and blend on high speed until the consistency of a smoothie.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Favorite Green Bean Salad

    Green Bean Salad Recipe

    Green Bean Salad Recipe

    Petite Potatoes

    Colored Green Beans

    [1] (photo courtesy Keys To The Cucina). [2] Green beans with petite potatoes and basil (photo courtesy Kqed.org). [3] Petite potatoes, grown in Idaho, are the size of a cherry tomato (photo courtesy Potato Goodness).[4] Check farmers markets for specialty green beans, and pull together a rainbow of colors (photo courtesy The Pines | Brooklyn).

     

    For the big weekend, you may be making potato salad, macaroni salad or cole slaw.

    We’d like to suggest a substitute: a delicious, crunchy and good-for-you green bean salad.

    As a constantly-dieting college student, it was one of the first recipes we perfected (perfection meaning exactly what we like).

    Over the years we’ve tried different dressings we enjoy on other salads—herb vinaigrette; balsamic, lemon or lime vinaigrette; yogurt dressing—but we still return to our original Dijon vinaigrette—and anchovies.

    Ideally this salad should be made with haricots vets, the thin French green beans; but they tend to be pricey. So use whatever you find.

    We like to go to the farmers market for mixed beans in green, purple and yellow (photo #4). We also spring for Idaho petite potatoes (sometimes called marble or pearl), bite-sized cuties that are have even more flavor than standard sizes (photo #3).

    If your crowd loves anchovies, top the salad with them. Otherwise, set the anchovies or tuna next to the platter so people can help themselves.

    You can make this recipe four hours ahead or overnight, for the flavors to blend.
     
    RECIPE: FAVORITE GREEN BEAN SALAD

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings
     
    For The Salad

  • 2 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 to 1 pound baby/petite potatoes, or larger red new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 small bulb fennel, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, shredded (chiffonade)
  • 1 cup Mediterranean black olives (kalamata, niçoise, picholine), ideally pitted
  •  
    For The Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed in a garlic press or finely minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    Platter Garnishes

  • Anchovies or Italian tuna
  • Baby arugula
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
  • Tomatoes, quarters or eighths depending on size; or cherry tomatoes, halved; or grape tomatoes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until fork-tender but not overly soft (remember that the potatoes will continue to cook a bit from their internal heat). Drain and set aside to cool.

    2. COOK the beans in large pot of rapidly boiling salted water to al dente crisp. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, drain and transfer to bowl. If you use larger potatoes, cut them in half after they’re cool.

    3. COMBINE all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and make the vinaigrette: Add the garlic to the olive oil, then whisk in the mustard, followed by the vinegar. Season to taste. Taste the salad right before you serve it and adjust seasonings if desired.

     
    4. REFRIGERATE, covered. Bring to room temperature 2 hours before serving.

    5. PLATE. We like to serve this on a platter or large serving plate, rather than in a bowl. Mound the salad in the center of the platter, and rim the perimeter with the sliced eggs and tomatoes. If using anchovies, place them on top of the salad or on a separate small plate.

     

    RECIPE: YOGURT-MINT DRESSING

    You can make this up to 3 days in advance, and store tightly covered in the fridge.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, drained in fine sieve about 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, shredded (chiffonade)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed in a garlic press or finely minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional tablespoon olive oil or lemon juice to thin
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the yogurt in a medium jar or a bowl with a lid. Add the lemon juice and shake or whisk to combine. Add the garlic and stir or whisk.

    2. CHIFFONADE the mint leaves: Stack them, then roll them lengthwise into a tight bundle. Cut the bundle crosswise with a sharp knife. For a dressing, cut the strips in quarters or thirds.

    3. SEPARATE the pieces with your fingers (we pick them up and drop them a few times). Then stir the mint into the dressing.

     

    Green Bean Salad Recipe

    With a yogurt dressing instead (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF).

     
    4. ADD salt and pepper to taste, and add more lemon juice or olive oil to thin the dressing to taste. You can do the thinning just before serving if you prefer.

    5. SHAKE or stir thoroughly before serving.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Watermelon Cocktails

    Spicy Watermelon Margarita

    Watermelon Mojito Mocktail

    Tajin Seasoning

    [1] A Spicy Watermelon Margarita? Sure! (Photo courtesy STK LA). [2] A Watermelon Mojito Cocktail (photo courtesy The Merry Thought). [3] Tajin seasoning, a versatile hot spice blend (photo courtesy Tajin Products).

     

    If you’re buying a watermelon for the holiday weekend, buy a bigger one and make watermelon cocktails.

    STK LA, which sent us this recipe, calls it the Secret Affair, made with Don Julio tequila.

    Somehow, that name didn’t ring true so we’re calling it as we see it: a Spicy Watermelon Margarita. We have more watermelon cocktail recipes below.

    RECIPE: SPICY WATERMELON MARGARITA

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces silver tequila (the different types of tequila)
  • .75 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce simple syrup (we substituted orange liqueur—the different types of orange liqueur)
  • 4 watermelon cubes
  • 1 slice fresh red chile pepper (anything from an Anaheim (modest heat) to jalapeño or habanero
  • Optional: whole red chile or chile slice
  • Ice cubes: make them from watermelon juice for more intense flavor/less drink dilution
  •  
    For The Rim

  • Sparkling sugar/sanding sugar (the different types of sugar)
  • Coarse salt
  • Red chili flakes
  • Substitute: Tajin seasoning (see below)
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the glass rimer: Combine the sugar, salt and chile in the proportions you prefer. We used 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes. Moistening the rims of the glasses, twist in the mixture. Set aside.

    2. MUDDLE the chile and watermelon in a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, lime and simple syrup.

    3. SHAKE and strain on the rocks into the rimmed glasses.
     
    WHAT IS TAJIN SEASONING?

    Made by Tajin Products, a Mexican company, this mildly spicy seasoning combines chili, lime and salt. It is delicious on fruits: citrus, cucumber, melon, and tropical fruit (mango, papaya, pineapple, etc.); and in cooked fruit recipes.

    It’s a versatile seasoning. In addition to its popularity as a glass rimmer for cocktails or juice drinks, try it on:

  • Eggs
  • Fries
  • Ice pops and sorbet
  • Popcorn
  • Proteins
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Vegetables and grains
  •  
    A Mexican staple, you can find Tajin seasoning in the Mexican foods aisle in supermarkets, in Latin American food stores, and online.
     
    RECIPE: WATERMELON MOJITO MOCKTAIL

    Thanks to The Merry Thought for this luscious cocktail. Designated drivers, kids, non-drinkers and the regular cocktail crowd will clamor for it.

    For extra fun and flavor, make the ice cubes from watermelon juice.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 3 cups chopped watermelon
  • Juice of 2 limes (4 tablespoons)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Mint leaves (for cocktails and garnish)
  • Ice
  • Ginger ale
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: mint sprig and watermelon wedge
  • Optional: bottle of tequila for those who might want a real Mojito*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the watermelon, lime juice and 1 teaspoon sugar in a blender until smooth. Muddle 2 mint leaves with 1/4 teaspoon sugar in the bottom of each glass. Add the watermelon pur ée, filling the glass about 1/2 full.

    2. ADD the ice and a splash of ginger ale and top with club soda. Stir to combine. Garnish as desired and serve.
     
    MORE WATERMELON COCKTAIL RECIPES

  • Watermelon-Cucumber Summer Splash
  • Watermelon Gin Martini
  • Watermelon Margarita
  • Watermelon Mint Lemonade
  • Watermelon Wave & 5 More Watermelon Cocktails
  •  
    ________________
    *Provide a shot glass and stirrers with the bottle.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 12 Ways To Use Toasted Marshmallows

    National Toasted Marshmallow Day is August 30th—not a day of the year that begs for a steaming cup of cocoa.

    So we put on our thinking toques to see how to best use toasted marshmallows in the summer, and how to to toast them without a campfire or fireplace.
     
    USE TOASTED MARSHMALLOWS FOR…

  • S’mores, of course, or a variation. Check out these S’mores recipes and variations other than graham crackers. (National S’mores Day is August 10th).
  • Cocktail garnish for a Black or White Russian, Chocolate Martini, Espresso Martini, Irish Cream Liqueur.
  • Cookie or brownie sandwich.
  • Cupcake, cake, pie, pudding or tart garnish (make an easy tartlet with lemon curd).
  • Grilled marshmallow and fruit skewers.
  • Iced coffee, iced latte, iced hot chocolate.
  • Ice cream or sundae topping.
  • Milkshakes.
  • Peanut butter toast: Top toast with PB and marshmallows, and chocolate if you like!
  • Shots, with marshmallow vodka (made by Pinnacle, Skyy and Smirnoff).
  • Sweet potato garnish.
  • Toasted “Fluffernutter” sandwich, replacing the fluff.
  •  
    PLEASE ADD TO THIS LIST!

    And remember: There’s marshmallow goodness beyond Campfire and Jet-Puffed. Check out gourmet marshmallows.

    Vegan? There are delicious vegan marshmallows from Dandies, all delicious.
     
    TOASTING MARSHMALLOWS WITHOUT A FIREPLACE

    Even if you have a fireplace, you sure don’t want to light it up today.

    Who needs a fireplace—or a campfire? There are other ways to toast marshmallows.

  • On a stove: If you have a gas stove, you can toast the marshmallow over an open flame until it begins to brown—about a minute, depending on how “toasty” you like it.
  • With a candle, an unscented one. Turn down the lights for romance.
  • For best results, hold the marshmallow about two inches away from the flame and turn it continuously. This way, the marshmallow will melts from the inside out and brown evenly.
  • A fondue fork is ideal for toasting because it has a protective handle, but impaling the marshmallow on the tip of a regular fork works, too. You can use skewers, as well; bamboo skewers will not heat up and are easier to hold. You’ll need to soak them first, though, so they won’t catch fire!
  • Avoid toasting over Sterno: The marshmallows will smell and taste of it. A votive candle will work, and if you’re having guests, you can put a votive at each place setting.
  •  
    The Fastest Way To Toast A Batch Of Marshmallows:

  • The Broiler! Place the marshmallows on a baking sheet and set the oven to Broil. When one side is at your desired tastiness, turn them over. If the marshmallows are not browning evenly, rotate the pan.
  •  

    Chocolate Martini With Toasted Marshmallow Garnish

    Toasted Marshmallow Garnish on Milkshake

    Toasted Marshmallow Garnish

    [1] The best garnish for a Chocolate Martini? A toasted marshmallow—and maybe a rim of graham cracker crumbs (that’s a S’mores Martini). Here’s the recipe from Eclectic Recipes. [2] Serve a toasty marshmallow with a cool shake. Here’s the recipe from Honey and Birch. [3] Garnish any dessert or sweet snack, like this cupcake from Cake Boss Baking.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sashimi Rolls

    You may not have great sushi chops—it takes years of training—but you can make a sashimi roll, as long as you have a sharp knife.

    What’s a sashimi roll? It’s sashimi ingredients wrapped in another piece of fish, a cucumber wrap, even nori (toasted seaweed). As long as there’s no vinegared (seasoned) rice, it’s not sushi.

    Some sushi and sashimi basics:

  • Sushi is vinegared rice with raw fish (including shellfish) and related ingredients: cooked proteins (octopus, salmon skin, shrimp), roe/caviar (ikura, masago, tobiko), sliced omelet (tamago), tempura (deep fried), raw wagyu, etc.
  • Su means vinegar and shi means rice; so sushi can be anything served with vinegared sushi rice. It can be fish placed on a bowl of rice (chirashi sushi), pressed into a box of rice and cut into rectangles), stuffed into a tofu pouch (imari) and so on. The common ingredient: vinegared rice. If we’ve said this too often, it’s because it’s an important distinction.
  • Sashimi is raw fish (often including tamago). It can be sliced, chopped (like yellowtail and scallion roll, negi-hamachi), chopped and sauced (spicy tuna or salmon roll), served in an oyster shell (or on top of the oyster), etc. You can also make “crudité sashimi” by wrapping lengthwise-sliced vegetables in a piece of fish, creating a vertical bundle fastened with a pick.
  • Naruto roll is a sushi-sashimi fusion: a roll with no rice. It is stuffed only with different fish, roe, vegetables, crab salad, etc. Naruto also refers to little the small pieces of food that float in soup, ramen, etc: fish cake, seaweed, scallions, tofu cubes, etc. Most people refer to naruto as sushi because it is rolled; but since it has no rice, we call it a sashimi roll. (Note: Slicing an entire cucumber in thin, continuous roll has got to be the hardest task in sushi preparation.)
  • Tamago, a sweetened omelet cooked in a rectangular pan, can be served in any of these preparations. It is neither fish nor vegetable nor dairy (from a mammal’s milk), but is considered an animal by-product.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SUSHI & SASHIMI IN OUR PHOTO-PACKED GLOSSARY.
     
    WAYS TO SERVE SASHIMI

    The slices of raw fish can be:

  • Arranged artistically on a plate, usually with some vegetable garnish (daikon, shredded radish; shiso, beefsteak leaf, etc.)—the traditional presentation.
  • Placed over a base, such as avocado or salad (if placed over vinegared rice it’s chirashi sushi).
  • Used to top fried tofu, raw or fried oysters, etc. (especially roe and chopped preparations).
  • Wrapped around a core of of crab or other salad, cucumber matchsticks, avocado, etc.
  •  
    RECIPE: SASHIMI ROLL

    We adapted the bottom photo idea from Herringbone restaurant in Santa Monica. That roll mounds albacore tuna sashimi over an avocado half, with a garnish of ginger, tobiko, sambal* and sprouts.

    You can use whatever fish looks best in the market, and customize your dish with as many garnishes as you like. They don’t all have to be on top of the sashimi; you cam artistically scatter them around the serving plate.
     
    Ingredients

  • Base: avocado half, chopped salad, cooked fish, endive or radicchio, hearts of romaine, mesclun, whole grains (cooked), etc.
  • Fish: sashimi-quality fish of choice, sliced thin enough to drape.
  • Garnish: citrus zest, chopped chives or scallions, cress, fresh herbs, grated daikon and/or carrot, microgreens, minced garlic, minced red jalapeño, salmon or flying fish roe (caviar), raw or toasted sesame seeds.
  • Dressing or sauce: flavored olive oil† with lemon or lime juice, ponzu sauce (recipe) rice vinegar vinaigrette.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the salad base. If using an avocado, don’t slice or peel it until you’re ready to plate.

    2. DRESS the base with vinaigrette or olive oil and lemon/lime. If using an avocado, place it plate side down and drizzle the dressing over it.

    3. MOUND the base onto each plate into an oval. Cover with the sashimi strips. Garnish as desired and serve.

    __________________
    *Sambal is a hot relish commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking. There are many varieties, using different fruits or vegetables, different spices, and different levels of heat.

    † Basil-, chili-, chive-, citrus- and rosemary-infused oils are all good here.

     

    Sashimi Deluxe

    Naruto Roll

    Salmon Sashimi Roll

    Rainbow Roll

    Sashimi Roll

    [1] Sashimi at Haru | NYC with a naruto roll at the lower right. [2] Naruto roll, with ingredients wrapped in a thin roll of cucumber—at Tamari Restaurant in Pittsburgh. [3] Salmon sashimi roll: crab salad wrapped in a slice of salmon and topped with spicy salmon (photo courtesy Sushi.org.pt. [4] This Rainbow Roll from Blue Ribbon Sushi is a sushi roll covered with sashimi, but it’s still sushi, with vinegared rice. [5] Fish over a bed of guacamole at Herringbone Restaurant.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Treats For Banana Lovers

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    Banana Split

    Banana Hot Fudge Sundae

    Bunch of Bananas

    [1] A grilled banana split: no need for a special banana split dish (photo courtesy Pampered Chef). [2] Another presentation from Women’s Day. Here’s their recipe. [3] Fusion food: a grilled banana hot fudge sundae (photo courtesy Weber). [4] The world’s most popular fruit (photo Nathan Ward | SXC)!

     

    Who doesn’t love a banana? It’s the world’s most popular fruit. Some 25 pounds of bananas are consumed per capita each year.

    In the U.S., more bananas are consumed than oranges and apples combined! And August 27th is National Banana Lovers Day.

    Bananas were introduced to the U.S. in 1880. By 1910, bananas were so popular that cities—which then lacked sanitation systems—had a problem disposing of the banana peels.

    People were literally slipping on banana peels that were discarded on sidewalks and streets (a reality appropriated by comedians), leading to injuries. The Boy Scout Handbook recommended picking up banana peels from the street as a Scout’s good deed of the day (source).
     
    MORE BANANA TRIVIA

  • Man has been growing bananas for some 10,000 years, since the dawn of agriculture. It’s the oldest cultivated fruit.
  • Bananas don’t grow on trees: The banana plant is actually the world’s largest herb. It’s a cousin to ginger and vanilla.
  • There are more than 1,000 varieties of bananas. The majority grow in Africa and Asia: 600 varieties in India alone.
  • The American supermarket banana is a variety called the Cavendish. It’s a more bland banana, but it travels well.
  • Bananas float in water (so do apples)!
  •  
    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BANANA RECIPE?

    Banana Bread? Banana Cream Pie? Banana Daiquiri? Banana French Toast? Banana Ice Cream? Banana Pudding? Peanut Butter and Bananas?

    We say YES! to all, but today are focusing on two: the kid favorite Banana Split and the over-21 Bananas Foster.
     
    BANANA SPLIT HISTORY

    Two towns in the U.S. lay claim as the home of the banana split.

  • In 1904 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, David Strickler, a 23-year-old druggist’s apprentice at Tassel Pharmacy is said to have created the first banana split sundae for the local college crowd.
  • In 1907 in Wilmington, Ohio, restaurateur Ernest R. Hazard held a dessert contest among his employees at The Café. One came up with a sundae of sliced banana topped with three scoops of ice cream, chocolate syrup, strawberry jam, pineapple bits, chopped nuts, whipped cream and cherries.
  •  
    Fortunately for the rest of us, the concept spread nationwide, affording all of us the joy of a Banana Split.

    RECIPE: GRILLED BANANA SUNDAE

    Banana splits are easy to make: Split a ripe banana vertically, place it in a long dish, top with three scoops of ice cream (traditionally vanilla, chocolate and strawberry) and toppings of choice. (You can get Anchor Hocking banana split dishes for about $2 each.)

    Here’s a twist: a grilled banana sundae, a cross between the classic and Bananas Foster. In the latter, bananas are caramelized in butter with brown sugar and cinnamon, then topped with dark rum and flambéed, with the bananas and the flaming sauce served over vanilla ice cream.

    We’ve included a Bananas Foster recipe below. The recipes are very similar, except that for Bananas Foster, the bananas are sautéed in butter instead of grilled; and alcohol is added to the caramel sauce. The banana is typically sliced in half lengthwise and crosswise.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 firm, ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup fudge sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT a grill pan over medium heat for 5 minutes.

    2. CUT the bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise for a total of 4 pieces each. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in shallow dish. Gently coat the bananas with the sugar mixture.

    3. SPRAY the grill pan lightly with vegetable oil and add the banana pieces, cut sides down. Grill for 2-3 minutes per side or until grill marks appear.

    4. SERVE warm with ice cream, ice cream topping and almonds.
     

     

    RECIPE: BANANAS FOSTER

    The original Bananas Foster recipe was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé (1900 to 1977), the Executive Chef at Brennan’s in New Orleans. The dish of sautéed bananas, flambéed and topped with ice cream, was named in honor of Richard Foster, a regular customer and friend of restaurant owner Owen Brennan Sr.

    Note that while both the recipes above and the original Bananas Foster cut the bananas into oblong pieces (see photo above), we prefer the round slices of banana, about 3/4-inch thick.

    While igniting the dish tableside is dramatic both at a restaurant and at home, it isn’t necessary.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 firm, ripe bananas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1/4 cup banana liqueur
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • Optional garnishes: toasted chopped pecans, grated orange zest
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise for a total of 4 pieces each (alternative: cut 3/4″ rounds; you’ll have more than 4 pieces).

    2. MELT the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes—this creates a caramel sauce). Add the bananas and cook on both sides until they begin to soften and brown (about 3 minutes).

    3. ADD the banana liqueur and stir to blend into the caramel sauce. If you want to flambé, follow the instructions below. However, the drama of the flambé works only if the dish is prepared tableside. Otherwise, the drama is lost in the kitchen (the flame extinguishes quickly).

    4. LIFT the bananas carefully from the pan and top the four dishes of ice cream; then spoon the sauce over the ice cream and bananas and serve immediately.
     
    TIPS ON HOW TO FLAMBÉ

  • Liquors and liqueurs that are 80-109 proof are best to ignite. Don’t use a higher proof; it is highly flammable.
  • The liquor must be warmed to 130°F before adding to the pan. Higher temperatures will burn off the alcohol, and it won’t ignite.
  • Always remove the pan from the heat source before adding the liquor to avoid burning yourself.
  • Vigorously shaking the pan usually extinguishes the flame, but keep a pot lid nearby in case you need to smother the flames. The alcohol vapor generally burns off by itself in a matter of seconds.
  •  
    MORE

  • Read these tips
  • Watch this video
  •  

    Bananas Foster

    Bananas Foster

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    [1] Bananas Foster at the Bonefish Grill, looking like a more complex Banana Split. [2] It’s harder to sauté a lengthwise half of banana without breaking it. Hence, the suggestion of slicing lengthwise and crosswise (photo Fotolia). [3] This recipe from Taste Of Home slices the bananas into coin shapes (a.k.a. chunks), easier to salute.

     
    READY FOR A DRINK?

    Relax with a Banana Colada.

      

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    RECIPE: Make Cherry Ice Pops For National Cherry Popsicle Day

    Cherry Juice Ice Pops

    Cherry Yogurt Ice Pops

    Twin Popsicle

    [1] Frozen cherry juice ice pops in Tovolo molds. [2] Greek yogurt and cherry ice pops from ChooseCherries.com. [3] The first Popsicle was a single: one pop, one stick. Then came the twin Popsicle to share with a friend (photo courtesy Popsicle).

     

    August 26th is National Cherry Popsicle Day. First, a bit of law:

    Popsicle® is a registered trademark of Unilever, which owns the brand. Any other frozen juice on a stick is a generic “ice pop.” Now…
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE POPSICLE

    In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson mixed together a fruit drink (believed to be orange-flavored) from powder and water and inadvertently left it on the porch. It was an unseasonably cold night in the San Francisco suburbs, and when Frank found his drink the next morning, it was frozen.

    He eased the frozen liquid out of the glass and, holding it by the stirrer, ate it. While Frank may have enjoyed his frozen fruit drink over the years, the public story doesn’t continue until 1923.

    A 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry, Frank 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 the Popsicle Corporation and collaborated with the Loew’s chain of motion picture theaters 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, the Popsicle Corporation. Following three more corporate sales over the years, Popsicle® and the other “sicles” are now part of Unilever’s Good Humor Division.

    While the record isn’t clear, Frank may also have invented the twin Popsicle, with two sticks. The concept was that it could be broken in half and shared by two children.

    Over the years, the Popsicle Corporation continued to create frozen treats on a stick, including:

  • The Fudgsicle, a chocolate-flavored pop with a texture somewhat similar to ice cream.
  • The Creamsicle, vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet.
  • The Dreamsicle, vanilla ice milk with orange sherbet (now discontinued).
  •  
    In additional to National Creamsicle Day on August 25th, there’s National Creamsicle Day on August 14th.

    We’ve got three different ways for you to make cherry ice pops. The first couldn’t be easier: Just freeze cherry juice.

    Pick a recipe and get out the ice pop molds.

     
    RECIPE #1: THE EASIEST CHERRY ICE POPS: FROM CHERRY JUICE

    Ingredients

  • 1 32-ounce bottle Montmorency cherry juice (see note)
  • Optional inclusion: 1/8 to 1/4 cup fresh mint or basil, cacao nibs, lemon zest, pitted fresh or frozen cherries
  • Variation: Mix with lemonade or limeade to taste; for a diet pop, use 1/3 or more Crystal Light lemonade or cherry pomegranate
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR the cherry juice into ice pop molds and freeze for 6 hours. If using inclusions, add them when the juice turns to slush, stirring each mold with a chopstick or other tool to distribute the ingredients.

    NOTE: Ice pop molds vary in size, often from 2.5 to 4 ounces, and from 6 to 8 pops. A 32-ounce bottle of juice, or concentrate reconstituted to that amount, should cover all bases.
     
    RECIPE #2: CHERRY POPS FROM FROZEN CHERRIES

    Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen tart cherries
  • Sugar to taste
  • Optional: fresh mint, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the frozen cherries in a blender. Taste and add sugar as desired.

    2. ADD the optional mint, process and pour into ice pop molds.
     
    RECIPE #3: GREEK YOGURT & CHERRY ICE POPS

    This recipe was published with permission from Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure, by Matt Kadey, RD, via ChooseCherries.com.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey (more to taste)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1-1/4 cups Montmorency tart cherry juice
  • Juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • Variation: coconut milk instead of yogurt (see recipe)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR together yogurt, honey, and lime zest. In a separate bowl, stir together the cherry juice, lime juice, and mint.

    2. SPOON two alternate layers of the yogurt and cherry mixtures into each popsicle mold. Insert the sticks into the molds and freeze until solid, about 6 hours. They will keep in the freezer for 2 months.

    3. UNMOLD: Run the mold under warm water for a few seconds, being careful not to thaw the pops.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Create A Signature Niçoise Salad

    Niçoise (nee-SWAHZ) refers to something from the city of Nice, on the French Riviera in the region of Provence.

    You can find the following popular Niçoise dishes in restaurants around the U.S., and they’re easy to make at home (except for the truffle omelet, which is easy to make if you can afford the truffles):

  • Aïoli, a garlic mayonnaise used as a spread, dip and condiment with potatoes, shellfish and vegetables (aïoli recipe).
  • Alcohol: The local favorites are pastis, an anise liqueur and apéritif; and rosé wine.
  • Bouillabaisse, the signature dish of Marseille. It’s fish stew with vegetables, garnished with croutons and rouille*).
  • Daube, beef stew braised in red wine and served with polenta or gnocchi (influences from neighbor Italy).
  • Fromage de chèvre, goat cheese, fresh and aged.
  • Nougat, the chewy white confection made from egg whites and almonds.
  • Omelette aux truffes, made with black truffles harvested in Provence from November through March.
  • Ratatouille, a casserole of tomatoes, onions, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, garlic and herbs.
  • Tapenade, a spread made from anchovies, capers and black olives.
  • And then, there’s Salade Niçoise (Niçoise Salad in English).

    The classic Salade Niçoise recipe is a composed salad (i.e., not tossed, but placed) of tomatoes, tuna (cooked or canned), hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives and in season, young haricots verts (French green beans). It is served with a Dijon vinaigrette, and can be served with or without a bed of salad greens. It is an entrée salad.

    Each cook can customize the salad to his or her taste. We’ve included optional extra ingredients below.
     
    RECIPE: SALADE NIÇOISE

    This take on the classic Niçoise salad from McCormick uses two twists: a poached egg and a zesty seasoning blend (the recipe is in the footnote below).
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

    For The Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning blend†
  •  
    For The Tuna

  • 1 rectangular piece (6 ounces) sashimi-grade ahi tuna loin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarse grind
  • 4 teaspoons seasoning blend†
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •  
    For The Tuna & Salad

  • 6 each baby yellow, red and purple new potatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh French green beans (haricot verts), trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup assorted grape/teardrop tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced baby cucumbers
  •  

    Salade Nicoise
     
    Nicoise Salad

    Kale Nicoise Salad

    Deconstructed Nicoise Salad

    [1] A classic Salade Niçoise from French chef Jacques Payard. [2] McCormick’s version substitutes a poached egg for the traditional hard-boiled. [3] Trending in America: Kale Niçoise (photo Williams-Sonoma). [4] Deconstructed Niçoise at the Seafire Grill.

  • 1/4 cup pitted Niçoise olives, halved (substitute picholine, kalamata or other flavorful black olive)
  •  
    Serve With…

  • Plain sliced baguette with olive oil for dipping (add herbs to the oil)
  • Garlic bread
  •  
    ________________
    *Rouille (roo-EE, the word for rust in French) is a sauce made from olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and red chiles, which give it the rusty orange color. It is served as a garnish with fish and fish soup, and is an essential with bouillabaisse, the signature fish stew dish of Marseille.

    †Substitute another spice blend or some lemon zest. McCormick’s spice blend recipe is 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 2 teaspoons grated lime peel, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder. Blend and store tightly capped in the fridge. Makes 2-1/2 tablespoons.

     

    l-isola-d-oro-jar-lisoladoro.it-230

    Anchovies

    [1] L’isolo D’Oro, a fine Mediterranean used in Nice in the best salads in Nice. [2] Anchovy lovers: layer them on (photo courtesy Flavor Your Life).

      Preparation

    1. MAKE the vinaigrette. Place the oil, vinegar, mustard and sea salt in a blender container; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into a small bowl. Stir in the seasoning blend. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

    2. SEASON the tuna with salt and pepper. Coat with the seasoning blend, pressing firmly so the mixture adheres to the tuna. Grill or sear: Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the tuna and sear 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on all sides. Remove the tuna to a plate; set aside to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    3. COOK the potatoes. Add them to a large saucepan with simmering salted water to cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain on paper towels to remove the water. Meanwhile…

    4. COOK the green beans in a large saucepan of simmering salted water to cover, 3 to 5 minutes or until tender-crisp (don’t overcook). Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well on paper towels. Place in large bowl with green beans. Add 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.

    5. CUT the potatoes in half or quarters, depending on size. Add to a bowl with the green beans.

    6. POACH the eggs. Fill a large, deep saucepan with 2 inches of water and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Bring to boil and reduce the heat to medium. Break 1 egg into a small dish and carefully slide it into the simmering water (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach the eggs 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken. Carefully remove eggs with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

    7. SERVE: Slice the tuna into thin slices. Divide the potato mixture, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives among 6 plates (aim for an attractive presentation). Top each with tuna slices and a poached egg. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the tuna slices. Sprinkle the egg with additional seasoning blend.

     
    OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS FOR A NIÇOISE SALAD

    Make it your own with added ingredients or substitutes. Just keep the five basics: tuna, tomato, egg, green beans and olives, plus the vinaigrette.

  • Cooked vegetables: broccoli florets, broccolini or broccoli rabe.
  • Greens: arugula, bell pepper, carrots, celery, cress, cucumber, fennel, fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley), frisée, kale, radicchio, radishes.
  • Tomatoes: Substitute halved cherry or quartered larger tomatoes (in the off season, substitute sundried tomatoes in olive oil or roasted red pepper).
  • Onions: green (scallions), grilled onions, red, shallot, sweet onions.
  • Proteins: anchovies, bacon, beans or lentils, canned or grilled salmon or other grilled fish, sardines.
  •   

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