THE NIBBLE BLOG Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
Also visit our main website, TheNibble.com.



Archive for Recipes

TIP OF THE DAY: Cacio E Pepe

In addition to National Pasta Day on October 17th, there’s a National Spaghetti Day and it’s today, January 4th. Today’s tip is to celebrate a preparation that is rarely found on restaurant menus: Cacio e Pepe.

Cacio e Pepe, “Cheese and Pepper,” is a Roman dish from central Italy. Cacio is a dialect word for a sheep’s milk cheese (like Pecorino Romano), and pepe refers to black pepper. The recipe is that simple: long, thin spaghetti*, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and freshly-ground pepper.

The only other ingredient in the dish is a bit of olive oil to bind the ingredients. It whips up very quickly when you don’t have time or energy to make a more elaborate recipe.

SUBSTITUTES

If you don’t have the ingredients in the classic recipe—or prefer others—here’s what we would substitute:

  • For the spaghetti: any thin flat noodle such as bavette, bavettine, fettucelle, linguine, linguettine, tagliatelle, taglierini.
  • For the Pecorino Romano: any hard Italian grating cheese.
  • For the black pepper: red chile flakes, dried chipotle or jalapeño flakes.
  •  
    RECIPE: CACIO E PEPE

    In this recipe from Good Eggs, the Pecorino Romano cheese is blended with some Parmigiano-Reggiano for more depth of flavor.

    Ingredients

  • 10 ounces fresh spaghetti (substitute dried)
  • 1-3/4 cups of Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • 10-12 grinds of black pepper peppercorns, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried chile (more to taste)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  •    

    Cacio e Pepe

    Pecorino Romano

    Top photo: Cacio e Pepe, a classic Roman pasta dish. Photo courtesy Good Eggs. Bottom photo: Pecorino Romano cheese from Fulvi, the only company still making the cheese in greater Rome. Photo courtesy Pastoral Artisan.

     
    *Long, thin spaghetti has different names in different regions of Italy; for example, capellini, fedelini, spaghetti alla chitarra and tonnarelli. In the U.S., you’re most likely to find spaghettini, vermicelli and of course, spaghetti. The widths of all of these strands vary, but not in a significant way to impact the recipe.
     
    Preparation

    1. FILL a large pot with water about 3/4 full. Add 1/4 cup of salt and taste the brine. The rule of thumb is that the cooking water should be as salty as ocean water. Add up to an additional 1/4 cup salt as desired—but don’t over-salt, since the cheese is very salty. Cover the pot and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Meanwhile…

    2. GRATE the cheese into the bottom of a large bowl. This will be the bowl in which you’ll toss and serve the pasta, so choose accordingly. When the cheese is grated, add about 10 grinds of fresh black pepper to the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

    3. REDUCE the heat and add the pasta to the boiling water. Fresh pasta will take about 3-5 minutes to cook, while dried spaghetti will 10-12 minutes, per package directions. When the pasta is at the right state of al dente, dip a mug into the pot to reserve a bit of the pasta cooking water; then strain the pasta in a colander. (Why do cooks reserve some of the pasta cooking water for blending? The heat melts the cheese, while the starches in the water help to bind the cheese and pepper to the pasta.)

    4. ADD the strained pasta to the bowl, along with a splash of the pasta water and a drizzle of olive oil. Use a large fork or soft tongs to toss the pasta, pepper and cheese. (We love our silicone pasta tongs). When the spaghetti is well coated, taste it and adjust the cheese and pepper levels as desired. If the texture is a little dry, add another splash of pasta water or a bit more olive oil. Serve immediately.

     

    Pouring Olive Oil

    Cacio e Pepe has no formal sauce; just a bit
    of olive oil that binds the grated cheese into
    a coating. Photo courtesy North American
    Olive Oil Association.

     

    ABOUT PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE

    Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty, full-flavored Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk (pecora is the Italian word for sheep). An ancient cheese, Pecorino Romano was a dietary staple for the Roman legionaries. Today’s Pecorino Romano is made from the same recipe, albeit with pasteurized milk.

    The method of production of the cheese was first described by Latin writers like Pliny the Elder, some 2,000 years ago. It was made in Roman countryside until 1884, when a city council ruling over cheese salting in shops caused producers to move to the island of Sardinia.

    One brand, Fulvi, is still made in the countryside outside of Rome. It is known as genuine Pecorino Romano. Like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano is made in very large wheels, typically 65 pounds in weight.

    Today, the designation “Pecorino Romano” is protected under the laws of the European Union. [Source]

    Pecorino Romano is often used in highly flavored pasta sauces, particularly those of Roman origin such as Bucatini all’Amatriciana and Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.

     
    Like Asiago, Parmesan and other grating cheeses, Pecorino Romano is often served on a cheese plate, accompanied by some hearty red wine. Typically, a younger cheese (five months of maturation) is used for table cheese, and a more mature, sharper cheese (eight months or longer) for grating and cooking.
     
    Don’t Confuse These Cheeses

    There are two other well-known pecorino cheeses, which are less salty and eaten as table cheese or in sandwiches. Don’t confuse them with Pecorino Romano:

  • Pecorino Sardo from Sardinia
  • Pecorino Toscano from Tuscany
  •  
    And beware of “Romano” cheese sold in the U.S. This is a mild, domestic cow’s milk cheese, bland and not right for this recipe. If you can’t find Pecorino Romano, the best bet is to substitute Asiago or Parmesan.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: A Delicious Vegetable Mix At Breakfast (Ratatouille)

    Fried Egg Ratatouille

    ratatouille-theformerchef-230r

    You can dice your ratatouille fine or chunky.
    A fine dice is a better base for the egg,
    crostini, etc.; a larger dice is better as a side
    dish. Top photo courtesy Elegant Affairs
    Caterers. Bottom photo courtesy
    TheFormerChef.com.

     

    Nutritionists expend lots of effort to get their clients to achieve nutrition goals. Americans are major under-consumers of vegetables.

    There are numerous ways to add good vegetables into every meal (fried onion rings don’t count!) You don’t have to twist our arm to adopt this one: ratatouille at breakfast.

    WHAT IS RATATOUILLE

    Ratatouille (rah-tah-TOO-ee) is a vegetable side dish that originated in the Provence region of France. The classic recipe consists of sautéed eggplant, onions, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini plus garlic and herbs.

    Sometimes, each vegetable is sautéed separately, then layered into a baking dish and baked. Modern recipes make it easier: We fully sauté groups of vegetables with similar densities, combine them and don’t bake them. can customize the dish as you like—for example, with bell peppers, celery, fennel, olives, onions and yellow squash.

    There are similar dishes in other Mediterranean countries, including tourlou or briami in Greek cuisine, türlü in Turkish cuisine, samfaina in Catalonia and in ciambotta in southern Italy.

    OUR FAVORITE RATATOUILLE RECIPE

    We misplaced our nana’s ratatouille recipe card; but the recipe below, adapted from TheFormerChef.com, looks almost identical.

    Ratatouille is delightfully colorful when you use red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers and tomatoes/cherry tomatoes.

    Regarding the tomatoes: Ratatouille has traditionally been a summer dish, when tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash are plentiful. While you can find decent squash in the off season, imported tomatoes can be both pricey and lacking in flavor. You can substitute cherry, grape or sundried tomatoes; or use diced canned San Marzano tomatoes. Canned tomatoes don’t need to be sautéed; just drain them and add them to the final heating.

     
    TIP: Don’t throw away the liquid you drain off. You can freeze it into ice cubes for Bloody Marys, or add a bit of gin, tequila or vodka for a mini cocktail treat.
     
    RECIPE: RATATOUILLE

    We make double recipes and microwave the ratatouille (or other sautéed vegetables) from the fridge while the eggs are cooking.

    Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups onions diced (about 1.5 large onions)
  • 1 6 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
  • 3 cups bell peppers (1 each, red, yellow, green), diced
  • 8 cups zucchini and yellow squash, large diced
  • 6 cups eggplant (about 1.5 lbs), diced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded as necessary
  • 3 6 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, basil, thyme)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon ground coriander fennel seeds
  • Optional garnish: capers or caperberries (the difference*)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet†, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a bowl and set aside.

    2. RETURN the pan to the heat and add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add them to the onions and bell peppers.

    3. Return the pan to the heat and add the final 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the eggplant and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of water; the eggplant will absorb all the oil very quickly and the water will help it cook before it burns. When the water is absorbed and the eggplant begins to soften (about 5 more minutes), add the chopped tomatoes to the eggplant.

    4. COOK the tomatoes until they start to break down and the eggplant is soft, but not mushy. Add the rest of the vegetables back into the pan, folding it all together with a large spoon.

    5. Cook for another 5 minutes and add the fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Don’t overcook; you want the flavors to remain fresh and distinct. Plus, if you plan to reheat the ratatouille at a later time, it will cook more then.
     
    __________________________________________
    *Capers are the flower bud of the caper bush, Capparis spinosa. Caperberries are the fruit with seeds inside. Both are brined and thus contribute saltiness as well as flavor to dishes. They are members of the same botanical order as cruciferous vegetables, Brassicales, but a different family.

    †While the pans can usually be used interchangeably, a skillet or frying pan has slanted sides and a sauté pan has straight sides. A skillet has a larger bottom surface area, and its straight sides are better for making an omelet or frittata—even though you may see slope-sided pans marketed as “omelet pans.”

     

    RECIPE VARIATIONS

  • Serve with a poached or soft-boiled egg instead of a fried egg.
  • Mix the vegetables into an omelet or scrambled eggs.
  • Add with cooked eggs to a breakfast burrito or pita breakfast sandwich.
  • Combine eggs and toast: Make ratatouille crostini (toast topped with ratatouille topped with the egg).
  •  
    SUBSTITUTES FOR RATATOUILLE

    Serve any of the following, and don’t hesitate to mix them together.

  • Any leafy green vegetable(s), such as kale, spinach and/or watercress.
  • Shredded Brussels sprouts.
  • Sautéed cherry or grape tomatoes, halved.
  • Cauliflower steak.
  • Sautéed mushrooms.
  • Sweet potato or purple potato hash with beets and leeks (or default to white potatoes).
  •  
    OTHER THINGS TO DO WITH RATATOUILLE

    Ratatouille is a side dish that’s great with grilled fish or seafood on Meatless Monday, or as a side anytime with grilled or roasted beef, chicken, lamb or pork. But you can also:

  • Us it as a topping for pancakes or waffles—savory instead of sweet.
  • Serve it as a vegan main course with a whole grain, couscous‡, polenta, beans or legumes.
  • Use it to top bruschetta, crostini (the difference) or flatbread.
  • Use it instead of tomato sauce, chunky or puréed, on pasta, grains and other dishes.
  • Use as a topping for burgers, grilled cheese and other sandwiches.
  • Use the purée as a base for vegetable soup (add broth to desired consistency.
  •  

    Fried Egg On Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

    Fried Eggs On Toast

    Top photo: Go cruciferous: Place your egg atop sautéed Brussels sprouts, collards or mustard greens. At Olio e Piú | NYC, the Brussels sprouts are mixed with radicchio. Bottom photo: Combine the toast and eggs into ratatouille crostini, or as shown above, with asparagus in season. Photo courtesy Urban Accents.

     
    We’re off to make breakfast: ratatouille and fried eggs (no surprise).
    ___________________________________
    ‡You can find whole grain couscous; but most supermarket products are not whole grain.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Know Your Eggnog!

    Eggnog or egg nog is a descendant of milk-and-wine punches that had long been part of European celebrations when colonists arrived in the Americas. Rum, a New World distillation, enabled a spirited substitution for the wine.

    Eggnog became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America. Then as now, people loved the rich, spicy, alcoholic brew. President George Washington was quite a fan of eggnog. His own recipe, which included rye whiskey, rum and sherry, was reputed to be so stiff a drink that only the most courageous could down it.

    Brandy joined rum in the basic recipe much later—as part of a book promotion! In the 1820s, Pierce Egan wrote a book called “Life of London: or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne, Esq. and His Elegant Friend Corinthina Tom.” You can pick up a copy on Amazon.

    Just as today’s mixologists and publicists know how to generate buzz with a new cocktail, Egan created a variation of eggnog he called the “Tom and Jerry.” The half ounce of brandy he added to the basic recipe furthered egg nog’s popularity—and fortunately, the original name prevailed.
     
    FROM THE BEGINNING: A PARTY DRINK

    The research site InDepthInfo.com notes that “Egg nog, in the 1800s, was nearly always made in large quantities and nearly always used as a social drink. It was commonly served at holiday parties and it was noted by an English visitor in 1866, [that] ‘Christmas is not properly observed unless you brew egg nogg for all comers; everybody calls on everybody else; and each call is celebrated by a solemn egg-nogging…It is made cold and is drunk cold and is to be commended.’”

    Baltimore initiated a tradition where young men made the rounds of their friends on New Year’s Day, enjoying a bracing cup of eggnog at each home. The more homes one visited, the more “braced” one became. It was considered a feat to actually finish one’s rounds. How times change! Aside from today’s attitudes toward moderation, would anyone give up football to continue the tradition?
     
    HOW EGGNOG GOT ITS NAME

       

    Cup Of Eggnog

    Glass Of Eggnog

    TOP PHOTO: Eggnog served old-school, in a fancy punch cup. Photo courtesy AllWhitesEggWhites.com. BOTTOM PHOTO: No punch bowl? Serve eggnog in a juice glass, rocks glass, Martini glass or whatever you have.

     

    As with most things in the murky past, there are different stories on the origins of eggnog. The “egg” part is easy: There are eggs in the recipe (along with sugar, rum, milk, whiskey/bourbon/rum/brandy, heavy cream, vanilla and ground nutmeg).

    The two contenders for the “nog” portion:

  • In England and Colonial America, grog* was slang for rum. Thus the description of the beverage, “egg-and-grog,” could be corrupted to egg‘n’grog and then to egg nog and its more modern spelling, eggnog.
  • A nog is a small mug or cup. It was used to serve drinks at table in taverns (while drinks beside the fire were served in tankards). It is much easier to see how an egg-based drink in a noggin would become egg nog.
  •  
    Regardless, the unusual charm of the name only enhances the rich charm of the beverage. Now if we only could do something about those calories!

     
    *The term grog is named after Old Grog, the nickname of Edward Vernon (1684-1757), a British admiral who ordered that diluted rum be served to his sailors. The nickname is derived from grogram, after his habit of wearing a grogram cloak—a coarse fabric made of silk, mohair, wool, or a blend of them. Isn’t etymology fascinating?

     

    Egg Nog & Cookies

    A glass of eggnog served with eggnog wreath
    cookies
    . Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    EGGNOG VARIATIONS

    Conventional eggnog recipes vary by type of spirits used, or how elaborate they get, from topping with simple whipped cream to ice cream and chocolate shavings. If you don’t have a family eggnog recipe, ask your friends. Or take a look at these:

  • Classic Rum Eggnog Recipe
  • Chocolate Eggnog Recipe
  • Coconut Eggnog Recipe
  • Diet Eggnog Recipe
  •  
    If you don’t want classic eggnog, how about an eggnog cocktail? Here are two:

  • Eggnog Martini Recipe
  • Eggnog White Russian Recipe
  •  
    EGGNOG FOR BREAKFAST

  • Eggnog French Toast Recipe #1
  • Eggnog French Toast Recipe #2
  •  
    EGGNOG FOR DESSERT

    For the holidays, serve one or more eggnog desserts. Start with eggnog ice cream from your grocer, and continue on to:

  • Eggnog Crumble Bars Recipe
  • Eggnog Mini Bundts Recipe
  • Eggnog Mini Cheesecakes Recipe
  • Eggnog Panna Cotta Recipe Recipe
  • Eggnog Pound Cake Recipe
  • Eggnog Truffles Recipe
  • Eggnog Whipped Cream Recipe
  • Eggnog Wreath Cookies Recipe
  • White Chocolate Eggnog Fudge Recipe
  •  
    If you have a favorite eggnog recipe, please share!

    And HAPPY NEW YEAR from THE NIBBLE.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Black-Eyed Peas For New Year’s Day

    It’s a Southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for prosperity in the new year. It may actually stem from an ancient Sephardic Jewish custom of eating them on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

    This “good luck” tradition is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, compiled circa 500 CE., and includes other good luck foods such as beets, dates, leeks and spinach. This custom is still followed by Israeli Jews and Sephardic Jews the world over.

    Black-eyed peas are also called black-eyed beans, because they are a subspecies of the cowpea, called a pea but botanical a bean (here’s the difference). The beans are beige with a black “eye” on one side.

    Beans are a nutritional powerhouse as well as a very economical source of protein. Making an effort to have them on New Year’s Day may give you more luck, in the form of adding beans at least once a week to your diet.

    Beans can be enjoyed in a cold bean salad or mixed into a green salad, as a hot bean side or main dish, pureed into a dip and made into soup. There are even bean desserts; you may have encountered red bean ice cream and topping at Japanese restaurants (they’re azuki beans, sometimes mis-translated as adzuki beans).

      black-eyed-peas-iSt20474723-c-ViktorLugovskoy-230r

    Black-eyed peas are actually beans. Photo © ViktorLugovskoy | IST.

     
    Take a look at the cookbook Bean By Bean: More than 175 Recipes for Fresh Beans, Dried Beans, Cool Beans, Hot Beans, Savory Beans, Even Sweet Beans.

    Peas and beans are both members of the same botanical family, Fabaceae, but belong to different genuses. Here are the details. Here’s the surprise: Peas and beans are actually fruits in botanical taxonomy, since they contain seeds and developed from the ovary of a flower.
     
     
    “LUCKY” RECIPE: HAM WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS & COLLARD GREENS

    Black-eyed peas and other beans are typically sold dried, and must be soaked a day in advance before cooking. Here’s a tip: rinsing the soaking water every few hours removes the compounds that cause flatulence in some people!

    You can also buy pre-soaked black-eyed peas and even pre-steamed back-eyed peas, ready to heat and eat. But these will cost more than buying dried beans.

    This recipe takes just 15-20 minutes of active prep time, plus several hours of passive soaking time. See the photo below for your finished meal.
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 12 ounces black-eyed peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • Pinch of chile flakes
  • 2 bunches of collard greens or substitute*
  • 24 ounces or more ham†
  • Dijon mustard
  • 1 tube of biscuit dough (or make biscuits from scratch)
  • Lemon half or wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  •  
    For Serving

  • Butter for the biscuits
  • Dijon mustard for the ham
  •  
    *Collard greens are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, Brassicaceae, which includes broccoli, cauliflower and other commonly-enjoyed, anti-carcinogenic vegetables. Collards are most similar to kale, although bok choy and mustard greens are also good substitutes. Food trivia: Collards contain as much calcium as milk!

    †A typical serving is 4 ounces of ham per person. If your group likes larger portions, plan accordingly.

     

    Ham, Collards, Black-Eyed Peas

    Bean by Bean Cookbook

    TOP PHOTO: Have black-eyed peas with
    collards and ham for brunch, lunch or dinner
    on January 1st. Photo and recipe courtesy
    Good Eggs | San Francisco. BOTTOM PHOTO:
    A cookbook about beans is an asset,
    nutritionally and economically. Photo
    courtesy Workman Publishing.

     

    Preparation

    You can do the first two steps a day or two before you serve the dish.

    1. PLACE the dried beans in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Soak them overnight; if you forget, you can soak them for at least 4 hours the day of preparation. When done soaking, strain the beans in a colander, rinse the pot, return the beans to the pot and cover them with fresh water.

    2. ADD 2 bay leaves to the pot and set it over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 45 to 60 minutes, until the beans are velvety tender but not mushy. Dip a mug into the pot and reserve a bit of the starchy cooking liquid; then strain the beans and set aside.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the biscuits on the sheet. While the oven is preheating, slice the ham to 1/2″ thickness as desired: full slices, ham fingers, etc. When the oven is ready…

    4. BAKE the biscuits for about 30 minutes or per package directions, until they’re golden brown. Meanwhile…

    5. HEAT 3 tablespoons of olive oil, more as needed, in a heavy-bottom pan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and a pinch of chile flakes and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until they’re softened and translucent.

    6. ADD the collard greens and turn the heat down to medium. Cook the greens and the onions together, occasionally tossing with tongs, for 10-12 minutes, until the greens are soft and tender.

    7. ADD the beans to the pan and cook together for a few minutes, until the beans have warmed through. It it seems too dry, add a tablespoon or two of the reserved cooking water instead of more olive oil. Remove from the heat and season with a squeeze or two of lemon, plus a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste.

    Perhaps the most often-consumed black-eyed pea recipe for the New Year is…

     
    HOPPIN’ JOHN

    Hoppin’ John is a traditional Southern dish enjoyed on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to usher in a year of prosperity. It combines several good luck foods: beans, greens, pork and rice.

    Some recipes substitute ham hock, fatback, or country sausage for the conventional bacon; some add green peas, a splash of vinegar and/or favorite spices.

    Make Hoppin’ John as a hearty side with your favorite protein and a green salad. Here’s a Hoppin’ John recipe, plus a list of other “good luck” foods.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BEANS in our Bean Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Berries In Champagne

    For an easy, light dessert to cap off your New Year’s Eve dinner, we nominate berries marinated in Champagne or other sparkling wine.

    Some sparkling wines are vinified to be sweet (see below). But if you can’t find one, or have dry sparkling wine on hand, you can mix it with a bit of agave (a great low-glycemic sweetener) or honey to sweeten the marinade.

    You can also use simple syrup if you have it on hand. It’s more difficult to dissolve sugar; but if that’s all you have, pulse it to a superfine consistency in a food processor.

    If you sweeten the marinade, note that agave is twice as sweet as honey and sugar, so you need less of it. Agave is like honey in sweetness and viscosity, but without the unique honey flavor.

    Final tip: Champagne is expensive, so for the marinade you can substitute a more affordable sweet wine like Moscato. It can be found for just $8 or $9 a bottle. Splurge on a sweet-style Champagne to serve with the berries; or continue on with the Moscato.

       
    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/berries whipped cream truwhip 230

    Marinate berries for 30 minutes before serving. Photo courtesy TruWhip.

     

    RECIPE: CHAMPAGNE MARINATED BERRIES

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1/2 cup sweeter-style Champagne or other sparkling wine
  • Optional: agave or honey to taste
  • 2 pints berries—ideally assorted raspberries, sliced strawberries, and whatever else tastes good
    seasonally
  • 2 cups whipped cream (substitute 8 ounces mascarpone)
  • Optional garnish: 8 amaretti cookies, coarsely crumbled
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the Champagne and agave in a large bowl. Add the berries; toss gently to combine. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or longer.

    2. PLACE 3/4 cup berry mixture in each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 cup whipped cream or a dab of mascarpone. Divide the crushed amaretti cookies among servings.
     

     

    Brut Champagne

    Veuve Cliquot Demi Sec Champagne

    TOP PHOTO: Brut Champagne is the most
    commonly-purchased style, but it’s too dry
    and acidic to go well with desserts. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Instead, look for a demi-sec
    Champagne, which has more residual sugar
    to match the sweetness of the dessert.

     

    THE SEVEN LEVELS OF SWEETNESS IN CHAMPAGNE

    Champagne is made in seven styles, or levels, of sweetness. The sweetness comes from a step in the secondary fermentation of Champagne, when the bubbles are created. The process is called dosage (doe-SAZH): a small amount of sugar is added into the wine bottles before they are corked. The sugar also reduces the tartness/acidity of the wine.

  • Primary fermentation of Champagne: In the classic méthode champenoise used to make Champagne, Cava and American sparkling wines, the primary, or alcoholic, fermentation of the wine transforms the grape must (the pressed juice of the grapes) into wine. Natural yeast consumes the natural grape sugars, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  • Secondary fermentation of Champagne: To create a secondary fermentation, the dosage is added to the wine. The the added yeasts eat the added sugar, again creating alcohol and carbon dioxide.
  •  
    Based on the amount of sugar in the dosage, the seven levels of sweetness based on residual sugar (what’s left after the secondary fermentation) are:

  • Brut Nature/Brut Zero: 0-3 g/l* residual sugar
  • Extra Brut: 0-6 g/l residual sugar
  • Brut: 0-12 g/l residual sugar
  • Extra Dry†: 12-17 g/l residual sugar
  • Dry: 17-32 g/l RS residual sugar
  • Demi-Sec: 32-50 g/l residual sugar
  • Doux: 50+ g/l residual sugar
  •  
    ________________________________________
    *Grams per liter.

    †It’s a paradox in the Champagne industry that “dry” indicates a sweeter wine; as do sec (which means dry in French) and demi-sec. Doux, the sweetest style of Champagne, does mean sweet.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Preserved Meyer Lemons

    In addition to other splendid winter citrus, it’s Meyer Lemon season, through March.

    Meyer lemons are much sweeter and more flavorful than the Bearss and Lisbon varieties commonly found in American grocery stores (here are the different types of lemons). They have much less acid, making the juice sweeter and brighter.

    Here’s the history of Meyer lemons, discovered as an ornamental houseplant in China; along with how to use them, how to grow your own and a delicious recipe for Meyer Lemon Sorbet.

    Today’s tip: Make preserved lemons, for yourself and as gifts. If you read this when Meyer lemons are not in season, grab any supermarket lemons.

    Preserved lemon is a condiment made of whole lemons that have been pickled in a brine of water, lemon juice, salt and sometimes, spices (essentially they’re pickled lemons, and the same treatment makes the pickled limes beloved of Amy March in Little Women).

    The lemons then ferment at room temperature for weeks, or even months. The result is a concentrated and earthy lemon flavor without too much tartness when made with regular lemons; and even sweeter when made with Meyer lemons.

       

    Meyer Lemon Tree

    Meyer lemons were discovered as house- plants in China. You can continue the tradition in your own home. This mini tree is from BrighterBlooms.com.

     
    Preserved Meyer lemons are an umami food that have been called an “amazingly tasty ingredient,” guaranteed to convert you to their allure.

    The salt mellows out the bitterness in the rind and pith, and punches up lemonness, which is often described as “sunny”—just what’s needed during gray winter days.

    WAYS TO USE PRESERVED LEMONS

    Preserved lemons are popular in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisines. But you don’t have to make a tagine; you can use this bright condiment in Western cuisines, with anything from meatballs to tortellini.

    Preserved lemons can replace regular lemons—juice, slices or zest—in any savory recipe, from meat (beef, chicken, lamb, stews) and poultry to fish and seafood (a perfect pairing), grains (think beyond couscous to any cooked grains you enjoy), vegetarian stews, even salad dressing.

     

    Preserved Lemons

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/preserved meyer lemons in jar goodeggs 230

    It takes just 5 minutes to prepare preserved
    lemons. Then they sit for 3-4 weeks in the
    fridge until soft and succulent. Photos and
    recipe courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    PRESERVED LEMON RECIPES

    From TheNibble.com

  • Dips: Add a fine dice to guacamole, hummus and salsa. Try one teaspon per cup, and adjust to your preference.
  • Israeli Salad: Preserve lemon is added by North African Jews.
  • Garnish for Fried Green Tomatoes.
  • Grain salads and pilafs: Add a dice of preserved lemon to barley, farro, rice, quinoa and other grains.
  • Kebabs: Add them to the skewers of any meat, fish/seafood or vegetable kabobs. Try these Moroccan Potato Kebabs.
  • Moroccan Baked Chicken & Olives is a classic. You can substitute fish fillets for the chicken.
  • Pesto and other sauces: Start with a teaspoon or less. You want to add mystery rather than wallop.
  • Pasta: Toss any pasta with olive oil, sliced garlic and diced or sliced preserved lemon. Here’s a recipe for Tortellini With Bay Leaf & Preserved Lemon.
  • Soup Garnish: Slice and serve in ramekins along with chopped cilantro, croutons, green onions, chopped parsley and tomatoes, so people can customize their bowls of soup (here’s a recipe for Tunisian Chickpea Soup).
  • Stews of any kind: Add a tablespoon or more to taste, even if no lemon is specified in the original recipe.
  • Vinaigrette: Use a blender or food processor to combine diced preserved lemon with olive oil and vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
  •  
    Here are more recipes from Bon Appetit and the Huffington Post.

    What About Pizza?

    Of course! No recipe list would be complete without a pizza with preserved lemon.

    It can be as simple as fresh basil, smoked mozzarella and preserved lemon; or fresh ricotta, preserved lemon, basil and za’atar*. Trust us: These are well worth making.

     
     
    RECIPE: PRESERVED MEYER LEMONS

    It requires just 5 minutes of active time to make preserved lemons. Then, they sit and ferment for 3-4 weeks.

    Instead of making them in a quart jar, you can use two pint jars and give one as a gift.

    Ingredients For 1 Quart

  • 6 Meyer lemons, cut into quarters
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • Juice of 3 Meyer lemons†*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried chile
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the lemons, chile and bay leaves and salt in a bowl, then pack them tightly into a sterilized quart jar with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the juice then seal the jar.

    2. LET sit at room temperature for three days, turning the jar over once or twice a day. After three days, place the jar in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, until the rind has softened. They’re then ready to use.

    If you want to give them as gifts before the three weeks are up, tie a ribbon around the jar with a tag that tells the date on which the lemons will be ready; and that they’ll keep for a year in the fridge.
     
    *Also spelled zahtar, za’atar is a spice blend that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. It is actually the word for Lebanese oregano, a member of the mint family Lamiaceaea, and known since antiquity as hyssop. The za’atar blend includes spices well-known in European cuisines, with the unique components of Lebanese oregano and sumac berries, which impart a tart, fruity flavor that differentiates za’atar from other spice blends. Traditional ingredients include marjoram, oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, savory and sumac. Za’atar is used to season meat and vegetables, mixed with olive oil and spread on pita wedges or flatbread, added to hummus, and for a modern touch, sprinkled on pizza, especially ones with feta cheese.

    †You can first zest the lemons and use the zest in anything else you make today, from grains and vegetables to hot tea or sparkling water.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Frizzled Ham & Brussels Sprouts

    Here’s what to do with the leftover Christmas ham: Add it to lots of good-for-you cruciferous vegetables. We think that the ideal pairing is Brussels sprouts.

    The recipe is from PorkBeInspired.com, the consumer website of the National Pork Board.

    You can serve it as a main or a side.
     
    WHAT IS FRIZZLED HAM?

    Frizzle means to fry or grill with a sizzling noise. Frizzling is a technique used to crisp strips of cold cuts—bologna, ham, roast beef, turkey roll, etc.—in a frying pan. The crisped slices curl up like bacon (and you can substitute bacon for other frizzled meats).

    Frizzled meat can be added to scrambled eggs and omelets, sandwiches, grains, vegetables, salads, as a soup garnish, etc.

    RECIPE: SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH FRIZZLED HAM

    Prep time is 30 minutes; cook time is 20 minutes plus 10 minutes resting time.

    Ingredients For 8 Side Servings

      Brussels Sprouts With Frizzled Ham

    When you frizzle ham, you cook it like bacon. Photo courtesy PorkBeInspired.com.

  • 6 slices ham, (about 3 ounces), cut in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1-3/4 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed as needed
  • 1 large orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups shallots† (8 to 10), thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (substitute pistachio nuts)
  • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  •  

    *The highly nutritious, anti-carcinogen Brassicaceae family of vegetables is also called the Cruciferous family, from cruciferae, New Latin for “cross-bearing.” The flowers of these vegetables consist of four petals in the shape of a cross. The family includes arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rapeseed/canola, rapini (broccoli rabe), rutabaga, tatsoi and turnips. Eat up!
     
    †If you don’t have shallots, substitute sweet onions. You want mild onion flavor in this recipe.

     

    Brussels Sprouts

    You can shave Brussels sprouts in a food
    processor or with a mandoline. Photo
    courtesy Domesticate-Me.com. Check out their
    Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Cauliflower
    Salad recipe.

     

    Preparation

    1. SLICE the Brussels sprouts in batches, placing them in the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a thin slicing disk. If you don’t have a food processor with a thin slicing disk or a mandoline, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts by hand.

    2. ZEST the orange, then squeeze the juice, measuring out 1/4 cup for the recipe (save any remaining juice for another use). Set the Brussels sprouts, orange zest and orange juice aside.

    3. WARM the olive oil in a large saucepan or small stockpot over medium heat. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisped and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer ham to a plate and set aside.

    4. ADD the butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.

     

    5. STIR in the Brussels sprouts; then stir in the orange zest and orange juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

    6. TRANSFER the Brussels sprouts to a serving bowl, top with the ham and serve.
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: The Easiest Seasonal Bundt Cake

    If you’re home from work for the holidays with guests dropping by, here’s a very easy seasonal bundt cake recipe. It freezes well, so you can stick it in the freezer and cut slices whenever you need them. It’s a delicious alternative to coffee cake, and a homey cake to bake for friends.

    What makes it so easy is starting with a cinnamon bundt cake mix. The best one we’ve tried is the Cinnamon Streusel Bundt Mix from Nordicware, makers of the bundt pan. At $15 a box it isn’t inexpensive, but it’s as good as homemade. As an alternative, Krusteaz and Betty Crocker have a mix for $2.50.

    For a seasonal touch, Chef Tom Fraker of Melissas.com added dried cranberries; we added pecans.

    For a fancier dessert, you can drizzle the slices with butterscotch or caramel sauce and garnish with whipped cream or mascarpone.

    RECIPE: CRANBERRY-APPLE CINNAMON BUNDT CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1 box cinnamon bundt cake mix
  • Eggs, milk, and butter per cake mix directions
  • 2 Gala* apples, peeled and diced small
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • Optional garnish: powdered sugar
  •  

    Cranberry Apple Bundt Cake

    A cinnamon streusel bundt, loaded with seasonal cranberries and pecans. Photo courtesy Melissas.

     
    *You can substitute the more tart Granny Smith or the more sweet Empire apples. All three hold their shape when baked.
     
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the cake batter according to package instructions.

    2. TOSS the diced apples in flour and shake off the excess. Fold the apples, cranberries and pecans into the cake batter. Bake the cake as directed on the package.

    3. DUST the cake with powdered sugar right before serving (otherwise it will absorb into the cake). Place the sugar in a small sieve (mini strainer), hold it over the cake and tap it to dust the top.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pandoro Tiramisu

    Pandoro Tiramisu

    Bauli Pandoro

    Use pandoro instead of ladyfingers or sponge
    cake to make tiramisu. Photos courtesy
    Bauli.

     

    If you received a pandoro for Christmas, or see them marked down after Christmas, don’t let them sit: Turn them into dessert.

    Pandoro is a lighter version of sponge cake, sometimes accented with lemon zest. You slice it and eat it, warmed briefly in the microwave. You can toast slices and top them with ice cream and chocolate or caramel sauce.

    Or, you can turn the cake into a sophisticated tiramisu.

    Tiramisu is traditionally made with ladyfingers or sponge cake. In this recipe, Chef Fabio Viviani turns it into Tiramisu for Bauli.

    RECIPE: PANDORO TIRAMISU

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 Pandoro di Verona (35.2 ounces_
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 containers (8-ounces each) mascarpone*
  • 4 oz. sugar, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-1/4 cups brewed espresso, cooled
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine†
  • 3 each Pandoro, cut into medium size sticks
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Garnish: 1/3 cup grated dark chocolate
  •  
    *If you can’t buy mascarpone, use the recipe below for a substitute.

    †Marsala is a fortified wine, a category that also includes Madeira, Port and Sherry. It is produced in the region surrounding the Italian city of Marsala in Sicily, and has a D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) protected status. It is an ingredient in the desserts Tiramisu and Zabaglione, as well as Chicken Marsala and Veal Marsala. It is also enjoyed on the rocks. If you can’t get hold of it, you can substitute a sweet sherry.

     

    Preparation

    1. BEAT the egg yolks with 2 ounces of sugar until creamy. Place the mascarpone in a large bowl and using a wooden spoon, press out any lumps. Then add the egg mixture and mix until well combined.

    2. BEAT the egg whites, salt and the remaining sugar in a separate bowl, until fluffy and the egg whites hold their shape. Incorporate into the mascarpone mixture.

    3. MIX together the Marsala and the espresso. Dip the pandoro fingers briefly in the mixture, making sure to not let them soak for too long. Lay them flat into a 7″ by 11″ Pyrex baking dish. Once the first layer has been laid out, spread the mascarpone mixture on top. Dust with half of the cocoa powder. Repeat the same process again with remaining pandoro, cream and cocoa.

     

    RECIPE: MASCARPONE SUBSTITUTE

    If you can’t get mascarpone locally, you can make an easy approximation of it with readily-available dairy products.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND all ingredients until smooth.
     
    TIRAMISU HISTORY

    Tiramisu means “pick me up,” a reference to the caffeine from the espresso liqueur and the energy from the eggs and sugar. While there are many variations of the recipe, tiramisu is typically composed of layers of sponge cake or ladyfingers, soaked in espresso liqueur, coffee syrup or marsala, and layered with a mascarpone cheese and custard mixture. It is dusted with cocoa or shaved chocolate.

     

    Mascarpone With Biscotti

    Mascarpone can also be served with biscotti. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     
    For what is a classic Italian dessert, tiramisu is a relatively recent creation. The origins of the dessert are highly contested, but a strong claim has been made that the recipe was invented in the 1960s at the restaurant Alle Beccherie in Treviso, Italy, by pastry chef Loly Linguanotto. The restaurant’s matriarch, Alba Campeol, got the idea for the dessert after the birth of one of her children.

    Weak in bed, she was brought a zabaglione spiked with coffee, to give her energy. When she returned to work, she and her pastry chef worked on the “pick me up” layered dessert.

    The original Becchiere recipe did not contain alcohol because it was served to children as well as adults. Today, a good tiramisu is redolent of espresso liqueur or Marsala. You can read the full story, plus competing claims to the invention by another Treviso restaurateur, Carminantonio Iannaccone, in this Washington Post article.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Eggnog Martini

    For Christmas or New Year’s Eve, how about a fun and flavorful Eggnog Martini?

    You can buy eggnog in the supermarket and mix multiple portions in a pitcher.

    RECIPE: EGG NOG MARTINI

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 3-1/2 ounces eggnog
  • 1-1/2 ounces vanilla vodka (make it or buy it)
  • Splash of cinnamon liqueur (see below)
  • Garnish: dash of nutmeg or rim of crushed graham crackers
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a 5-ounce Martini glass with ice to chill it.

    2. COMBINE the eggnog, vanilla vodka and cinnamon liqueur in a shaker with ice, and shake to blend.

    3. DISCARD the ice in the glass and strain the cocktail into it.

    4. GARNISH as desired and serve.

       

    Eggnog Martini

    An Eggnog Martini with a rim of crushed graham crackers. Photo courtesy Cedar Mill Liquor.

     

    Goldschlager Cinnamon Liqueur

    Dramatic and delicious: Goldschläger
    cinnamon schnaps with gold flakes. Photo
    courtesy Global Brands.

     

    MAKE VANILLA VODKA

    Infusion method: Add a vanilla bean to a bottle of decent vodka. Cap tightly and let the vanilla infuse for 1-2 weeks in a cool, dark place. Gently shake the bottle every other day.

    Quick solution: Add vanilla extract to vodka, 1/4 teaspoon per two ounces. For a 750 ml bottle of vodka, that’s 3 teaspoons. Shake well to blend.

     
    CORDIAL, EAU DE VIE, LIQUEUR, SCHNAPPS:
    THE DIFFERENCE

    Cinnamon liqueur can be added to coffee and tea (hot or cold), made into adult hot chocolate, sipped on the rocks, drunk as shooters and mixed into cocktails. If you buy a bottle for this recipe, you’ll find numerous opportunities to use it

    Some brands are meant to burn like Red Hots candy. You want something more elegant. Our favorite is Goldschläger cinnamon schnaps with gold flakes. It looks magical in shots and clear cocktails.

     
    So what’s the difference between cordial, eau de vie, liqueur and schnapps?

    While many people use these terms interchangeably, and they are all flavored spirits, there are differences in terms of sweetness and color.

  • Liqueur (lih-CUR, the French pronunciation) is made by steeping fruits in alcohol after the fruit has been fermented; the result is then distilled. Liqueurs are typically sweeter and more syrupy than schnapps.
  • Schnapps (SHNOPS) is made by fermenting the fruit, herb or spice along with a base spirit, usually brandy; the product is then distilled. This process creates a stronger, often clear, distilled spirit similar to a lightly flavored vodka. “Schnapps” is German for “snap,” and in this context denotes both a clear brandy distilled from fermented fruits, plus a shot of that spirit. Classic schnapps have no added sugar, and are thus less sweet than liqueur. But note that some manufacturers add sugar to please the palates of American customers.
  • Eau de vie (oh-duh-VEE), French for “water of life,” this is unsweetened fruit brandy—i.e.,schnapps.
  • Cordial has a different meaning in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it is a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink. In the U.S, a cordial is a sweet, syrupy, alcoholic beverage: liqueur.
  •  
    In sum: If you want a less sweet, clear spirit, choose schnapps/eau de vie over liqueur. For something sweet and syrupy, go for liqueur/cordial.
     
    FOOD 101

    THE HISTORY OF EGGNOG

    THE HISTORY OF THE MARTINI
      

    Comments

    « Previous Page« Previous entries « Previous Page · Next Page » Next entries »Next Page »


    © Copyright 2005-2016 Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved. All images are copyrighted to their respective owners.