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TIP OF THE DAY: Combine Summer Fruits & Vegetables

Corn & Peach Salad

Removing Corn Kernels From The Cob

[1] Mix summer fruits and vegetables into a salad or a grain bowl (recipe below; photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers). [2] Use the “bundt technique” to neatly remove the corn kernels (photo courtesy SimplyRecipes.com).

 

Mix it up this summer. Beyond fruit salads and mixed grilled vegetables, combine the two produce groups into new concepts.

Almost everyone has made a mixed fruit or vegetable recipe, but how about mixed fruit and vegetables?

Think grilled pizza with figs and yellow squash or arugula and nectarines; raw or grilled skewers (bell peppers, cucumbers, melon, stone fruit, summer squash), or the corn and peach salad recipe below. Here’s a reference list for your combinations:
 
SUMMER VEGETABLES

  • Berries: blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, loganberry, raspberries, strawberries
  • Melon: cantaloupe, casaba, crenshaw, honeydew, persian, watermelon
  • Stone fruits: apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums
  • Miscellaneous: avocado, grapes, fig, loquats, longan, lychees, mango, passionfruit
  •  
    SUMMER VEGETABLES

  • Colorful: beets, bell pepper, corn, red jalapeño, radishes, red endive, red onion, tomatoes
  • Green: arugula, baby spinach, butter lettuce, Chinese long beans, edamame, French beans, green beans, sugar snap peas, tomatillos, watercress
  • Pale: bok choy, cucumber, chanterelles, endive, sweet onions, Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Summer squash: crookneck, yellow squash, zucchini
  •  
    Plus

  • Whole grains for a grain bowl
  •  
    RECIPE: FRESH CORN & PEACH SALAD

    This refreshing summer salad is delicious with grilled proteins, roast chicken, or on a salad buffet.

    You can prepare steps 1 and 2 a day in advance.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4-6 ears fresh yellow corn (2 to 2-1/2 cups kernels)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh peaches
  • 2-3 cups greens, washed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup shredded/julienned fresh mint or basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar or flavored vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (1/2 lime)
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • Optional: red chili flakes
  • Optional: whole grains, cooked
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CLEAN the corn and cut the kernels from cob. It’s neater if you use the bundt pan technique: Steady the ear of corn in the hole at the top of the funnel of a bundt pan (see photo 2 above). When you cut the kernels, they fall into the pan for neater gathering. If you have a silicon pad or other nonslip surface, put it under the bundt pan before you begin,

    2. COMBINE the corn, peaches and seasonings to taste in a medium bowl. Add the oil, vinegar and lime juice; toss to coat. Add the seasonings to taste. When ready to serve…

    3. PLACE the greens at the bottom of a serving bowl or individual plates (if using grains, add them first). Top with the corn and peaches, then the mint or basil. If using a serving bowl, toss before serving.
     
    Grilled Variation

    You can grill the corn and peaches before making the salad.

    1. BRUSH the shucked ears of corn and halved peaches with olive oil and grill on a covered grill over medium heat for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn occasionally for even browning.

    2. REMOVE from the grill and let cool to the touch. Then cut the kernels and slice the peaches.
     
    Caprese Variation

    Make a Caprese Salad of peaches and tomatoes, with the corn substituting for, or in addition to, the mozzarella cheese. Garnish with basil and olive oil.

    Here’s a recipe.

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Rubik’s Cube Fruit & Cheese

    For a fun dessert, salad course or snack, make an edible Rubik’s Cube.

    Erno Rubik, born July 13, 1944, is a Hungarian architect and inventor. His immortality lies in his 1974 invention, the Rubik’s Cube, just one of the mechanical puzzles he’s created.

    Crafty cooks have reinterpreted the Rubik’s Cube with cubes of cake, cheese, fruit and vegetables.
     
    RUBIK’S CUBE DESSERT TIPS

    A Rubik’s Cube of fruit and cheese is a summery dessert (photos 1 and 4).

  • Start by choosing two fruits and a cheese, or three fruits. With the latter, you can still serve cheese, on a skewer on the side.
  • You need fruits that are firm and won’t brown, and semi-hard cheeses.
  • Aim for different colors (our favorite combination is watermelon, cantaloupe and good feta—not overly salty).
  • If you use kiwi, which is softer, you can peel and firm them in the freezer before slicing. It can help to slightly freeze feta, too.
  • We put out all the garnishes and sauces and let guests dress their own cubes.
  •  
    While you can make a single large cube to share, it will quickly be disasembled to serve. It’s much nicer to keep the visual for a longer time by serving individual ones with one-inch cubes.

    The key to a good-looking cube is having the patience to cut every ingredient the same size. Unless you’re a pro with a knife, you might want to get a square cookie/vegetable cutter.

    RECIPE: RUBIK’S FRUIT & CHEESE CUBE

    Ingredients

  • Melon: cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
  • Kiwi
  • Pineapple
  • Exotics: dragonfruit, jicama
  • Cheese: cheddar, feta, jack
  • Optional garnishes: chili flakes, chopped cilantro or parsley, chopped pistachios, Tajin seasoning (see below), watercress sprigs
  • Optional sauces: basil- or rosemary-infused olive oil, fruit vinaigrette (honey-lime or honey-orange juice with olive oil), fruit or vanilla yogurt sauce (thin the yogurt with kefir)/li>
     
    Plus
  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Ruler
  • One-inch-square cutter
  • Patience and precision
  •    

    Watermelon Rubik's Cube

    Vegetable Rubik's Cube

    Rubik's Cube Cake

    [1] Fruit & Cheese Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs). [2] Vegetable Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy VladPiskunov.LiveJournal.com). [3] Rubik’s cake from Cookies, Cupcakes And Cardio.

     

    Fruit Cube

    [4] An all-fruit Rubik’s Cube (photo courtesy Laurentiu Iordache | 500px.com).

     

    Preparation

    1. CHOOSE the fruit and cheese combination.

    2. USE a cleaned ruler to measure; then cut the fruit and cheese into one-inch-high slabs. Next, cut the slabs into one-inch cubes, ideally with a one-inch-square cutter. Reserve the scraps for another purpose (salads, salsas, smoothies for fruit; omelets, salads, salsas for cheeses, meats and vegetables).

    3. ASSEMBLE the cube(s) on the serving plate(s). First create the base: four sides with three cubes on each side. Build the second and third layers, alternating so that no adjacent cubes are the same.

    4. GARNISH as desired. We set out different garnishes and sauces and let guests dress their own cubes.

    If you want to watch the process, check out this YouTube video. You don’t need to use sugar syrup to bind the cubes together, as is done in the video recipe.
     
    MORE RUBIK’S CUBE RECIPES

    Veggie: For a first course, here’s an all-vegetable Rubik’s cube salad made with beets, carrots, cucumbers and potatoes (photo 2 above). You can substitute cubed ham, salami or turkey for one of the veggies.

    Cake: Here’s how to make the Rubik’s Cube Cake in photo 3.

     
    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.).

    A Mexican staple, you can find it in the Mexican foods aisle in supermarkets, in Latin American food stores, and online.

    It’s a versatile seasoning. You can use it on:

  • Cooked and raw fruit and vegetables
  • Fries, mozzarella sticks
  • Glass rimmer for cocktails or juice drinks
  • Sorbet and ice pops
  • Popcorn, eggs, etc.
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    TIP OF THE DAY : International Spins On Potato Salad

    Homemade potato salad is one of our favorite summer sides. Mom’s recipe combined sliced boiled red jacket potatoes, small dices of red onion and green bell peppers, chopped parsley and dill and sometimes, chopped hard boiled egg, bits of carrot or sweet pickle relish. It was bound with mayonnaise blended with a bit of Dijon mustard.

    We’ve discovered a world of variations over the years, greatly aided by the greatest recipe book of all time, the internet. Each summer weekend, we try to make a different one.

    This week, we received three international-themed recipes from the Idaho Potato Commission, a resource with dozens and dozens of potato salad recipes. We’ve included some of them at the end.

    After you’ve perused the recipes, check out the different types of potatoes in our Potato Glossary.
     
    RECIPE #1: MASSAMAN CURRY POTATO SALAD

    First up, Faith Gorsky of An Edible Mosaic used Thai spices—Thai red curry paste and crushed red pepper flakes—to create Massaman Curry Potato Salad (photo #1). It can be made up to two days in advance.

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Idaho (russet) potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3/4 cup mayonniase
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh-grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste), plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted and chopped
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COVER the potatoes with 2 to 3 inches of cold water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook with the lid ajar until the potatoes are fork-tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and cool for a few minutes.

    2. WHISK together the dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl: mayonnaise, vinegar, red curry paste, coconut sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Gently add the potatoes and all but 1 tablespoon each of the peanuts and the scallions. Stir gently to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

    3. TRANSFER to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the reserved tablespoons of peanuts and scallions and more chili flakes as desired. Serve chilled.
     
    RECIPE #2: PERUVIAN POTATO SALAD

    Potatoes originated in Peru, so it’s about time someone created an homage potato salad.

    The recipe (third photo) incorporates aji amarillo paste, from the Peruvian yellow chile pepper (Capsicum baccatum). It’s a popular ingredient in Peruvian cuisine. You can find it in an international or Latin supermarket or online.

    Corn originated a few countries away in Mexico.

    The recipe is from Melissa Bailey of Hungry Food Love.

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste
  • 1 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn
  • 1 cup chorizo, cooked and crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •    

    Thai Curry Potato Salad

    Potato Beet Salad

    Peruvian Potato Salad

    Idaho Russet Potatoes

    [1] Thai Curry Potato Salad. [2] Estonian Potato Beet Salad. [3] Peruvian Potato Salad. [4] “Idaho potato” generally refers to the russet potato variety grown in the specific terroir of Idaho (all photos courtesy Idaho Potato Commission).

     
    Preparation

    1. BOIL the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Let them sit until cool enough to cut into small cubes.

    2. WHISK together the mayonnaise and aji amarillo paste in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    3. ADD the potatoes and gently combine until well coated. Add the rest of the ingredients and gently combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

     

    French Potato Salad

    Provencal Potato Salad

    German Potato Salad

    [4] Classic French potato salad. [2] Provençal potato salad. [3] German potato salad is served warm with a bacon vinaigrette (photos courtesy Idaho Potato Commission).

     

    RECIPE #3: CLASSIC FRENCH POTATO SALAD

    Want something lighter? Here’s a classic French-style potato salad, re-created by Lisa Goldfinger of Panning the Globe (photo #4).

    There’s no mayo here: The dressing is white wine vinegar and tangy Dijon mustard.

    This recipe can be made up to two days in advance and kept covered in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature before serving.

    If you’re a fan of French food, also take a look at this Ratatouille Potato Salad recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (3 large potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons cooking water (from the potatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced scallions (white and green parts)
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground white or black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a large pot halfway with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Peel one potato and slice it crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices, dropping the slices into the water as you go to prevent discoloration. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes.

    2. BRING the water to boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just tender, 3-4 minutes. Check doneness by tasting; don’t overcook.

    3. SCOOP out about ¼ cup of the potato cooking water and set aside. Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. While the potatoes are warm, add the wine and 2 tablespoons of cooking water. Toss gently to combine and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the liquids to absorb, tossing occasionally.

    4. COMBINE in a small bowl the vinegar, mustard, scallions, parsley, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil. Pour the dressing over potatoes and toss gently to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

     
    MORE POTATO SALAD RECIPES WITH INTERNATIONAL FLAIR

  • Argentinian Chimichurri Potato Salad
  • Brazilian Potato Salad
  • Caprese Potato Salad
  • Estonian Potato & Beet Salad (Rosolje)
  • German Potato Salad with bacon and bacon vinaigrette
  • Guacamole Potato Salad
  • Japanese Potato Salad
  • Kimchi Potato Salad
  • Korean Potato Salad
  • Mediterranean Grilled Potato Salad With Seafood
  • Mexican Chipotle Potato Salad
  • Mexican Jalapeño Potato Salad
  • Mexican Spicy Cilantro Pasilla Potato Salad
  • Middle Eastern Potato Salad
  • Niçoise-Style Potato Salad
  • Provençal Fingerling Potato Salad
  • Ratatouille Potato Salad
  • Russian Potato Salad with beets, carrots, dill and peas
  • Tuscan Potato Salad
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    COCKTAIL RECIPE: Fizzy Lemonade With Sambuca

    Each weekend we try a new cocktail recipe. Last weekend it was Fizzy Lemonade, a fresh lemonade made with club soda and sambucca. The recipe was sent to us by Molinari Sambuca Extra.
     
    ANISE-FLAVORED LIQUEURS & SPIRITS

    Sambuca (som-BOO-kah) is an anise-flavored liqueur from Italy, one of a family of anise-flavoured alcohol that also includes absinthe (Switzerland), anesone (Italy), anis (Spain), anisette (France) arak (the Levant*), kasra (Libya), mistra and ouzo (Greece), ojen (Spain), pastis (France) and raki (Turkey).

    The base of sambucca consists of essential oils extracted from the seeds from the star anise (third photo) and other spices; some brands use anise or licorice. The blend also contains elderflowers. The oils are added to pure alcohol and sweetened with sugar.

    Sambucca is served neat, on the rocks, with water, and with coffee as an after-dinner drink. When drunk after the coffee, it is known in Italy as an ammazzacaffè; added directly to coffee instead of sugar it is called a caffè corretto.
     
    Sambuca Shots

    The classic serving of sambuca in Italy is a shot topped with seven coffee beans, representing the seven hills of Rome (bottom photo).

    A shot with just one coffee bean is called con la mosca, “with the fly.” Three coffee beans represent health, happiness and prosperity for some; the Holy Trinity for others.

    The shot may be ignited to toast the coffee beans; the flame extinguished immediately before drinking.

    Sambucca shots are delicious year-round; but here’s a refreshing summer samba drink:
     
    RECIPE: FIZZY LEMONADE WITH SAMBUCA

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce agave nectar
  • 1 large basil leaf
  • 1½ ounces sambuca
  • Crushed ice
  • 1½ ounces fresh lemon juice
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: lemon wheel, cucumber spear
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the agave and basil in mixing glass. Add the sambuca, a scoop of crushed ice and the lemon juice. Cap and shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN over crushed ice and top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge and optional cucumber spear or vertical slice.

     
    WHAT IS STAR ANISE?

    Star anise (Illicium verum) is an evergreen tree native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China.

    The spice star anise, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of the fruit, ia also called badiam, Chinese star anise and star anise seed. Each “arm” of the star contains one seed.

    Star anise closely resembles the herb anise (native to Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia) in flavor, but they are not related botanically. However, both include the chemical compound anethole, which provides the licorice-like flavor.

    Because star anise is less expensive to produce but provides comparable flavor, it has begun to replace anise in some culinary uses, especially baking.

    Star anise is a component of Chinese Five Spice powder. The spice blend also includes cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds and Sichuan pepper, representing all five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and hot. The proportions vary by producer.

     

    Lemonade Cocktail Recipe

    Molinari Sambuca Extra

    Star Anise

    Samba With Coffee Beans

    [1] Fizzy lemonade, with a touch of sambucca (photo courtesy Molinari). [2] Molinari Sambucca Extra. [3] Star anise: The seeds in the “petals” are distilled into essential oil (photo courtesy Farmgirl Gourmet). [4] Samba is traditionally served as an after-dinner drink with coffee, or alone with a garnish of coffee beans (photo courtesy GreatItalianFoodTrade.it).

     
    Star Anise In Cooking

    It is grown commercially in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. It is used whole to sweeten soups and meat stews.

    Ground star anise is used as a spice rub; and to flavor breads, custards, pastries, puddings and strudels.

  • In the Pacific Rim, star anise is widely used in Chinese cuisine; in the preparation of biryani, garam masala and masala chai in Indian cuisine; and in Indonesian and Malay cuisines.
  • In Vietnam, it is an important ingredient in the country’s famous noodle soup, pho.
  • The French, who ruled French Indochina from 1887 to 1954, use star anise in their mulled wine (called vin chaud, hot wine).
  •  
    We use it in fruit compote, and as a cocktail garnish.

    Instead of those coffee beans, how about a sambuca shot with a star anise?
     
    __________________
    *The Levant is an English term first appearing in 1497. It originally referred to the “Mediterranean lands east of Italy.” The historical area comprises modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Among other popular foods, Levantine cuisine gave birth to baklava, balafel, kebabs, mezze (including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush), pita and za’atar, among other dishes that are enjoyed in the U.S. and around the world.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Summer Crisp Or Cobbler

    Peach Crisp

    Blueberry Crisp

    Mixed Fruit Cobbler

    [1] A yummy peach crisp (photo courtesy GoDairyFree.org). [2] Individual blueberry crisps (photo courtesy Dole). [3] An apricot-blackberry cobbler (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    While some people love pie crusts, were’re on there opposite end of the spectrum. We’re there for the filling.

    We’d rather have a bowl of custard or chocolate pudding than a custard or chocolate pudding pie. We’d rather have an apple crisp than an apple pie.

    We prefer the crisp, crumbly topping (the crisp is called a crumble in the U.K.) to the soggy bottom crust and dry top crust of the traditional shortcrust pie.

    And we prefer the ease of sprinkling on the topping rather than rolling crusts.

    Another easy option is a cobbler (third photo, recipe below): It’s the same baked fruit as a crisp but with a topping of crisp biscuits, the “cobblestones” which gave the cobbler its name. They don’t absorb moisture like pie crusts, and refrigerated biscuit dough makes the topping easy.
     
    RECIPE: SUMMER FRUIT CRISP

    Use the abundance of berries and stone fruits: apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums and the cross-bred apriums, plumcots and pluots (olives are also a stone fruit).

    You can use a single berry and stone fruit, or mix them up. We subscribe to the mix-up option; for example, peaches and plums, blueberries and raspberries. It’s more interesting.

    Use sugar sparingly in order to enjoy the natural fruit sweetness.

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound of stone fruits, pitted and quartered (you can leave pitted cherries whole)
  • 1 pint of berries, rinsed well and patted dry
  • Cane sugar to taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup flour 1 teaspoon
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sugar (or less depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 8 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • Optional Garnish

  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven heat to 375°F. Butter a 13×9-inch baking dish or 6 to 8 individual ramekins and set aside.

    2. MAKE the topping. Add the ingredients to a large bowl and use your fingers to combine, pinching the butter into the dry mix until it forms balls the size of a pea.

    3. COMBINE the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss well to combine and transfer to the prepared baking dish or ramekins. Top with the crumb topping.

    4. BAKE for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly around the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired and serve.
     
    FOR A COBBLER

    Instead of the topping, use a tube of refrigerator biscuits. Gauge how many you need for your baking dish, and slice them in half horizontally if you prefer a thinner “cobblestone.”

    1. COOK the fruit per above. Then, raise the heat to 400°F and add the biscuits.

    2. BAKE at 400°F 12 to 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and filling is bubbly.

    3. RESERVE any leftover biscuits for individual berry shortcakes: fresh berries and whipped cream on a split biscuit.
     
    MORE RECIPES

  • Apple Crisp Recipe
  • Peach Cobbler Recipe
  • Betty, Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble, Grunt & More: The Differences
  • The Difference Between Pies & Tarts
  •  
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Shrub, a.k.a. Drinking Vinegar

    There are shrubs for landscaping, and shrubs for drinking. The latter is an acidulated beverage: made with an acid such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice along with fruit juice, sugar and optional ingredients including herbs, spices and alcohol.

    The word is a transposition from the Arabic shurb, a cool drink.

    In the U.K. today, shrubs are popular fruity vinegar tonics. But they have not yet achieved a level of awareness in the U.S., even when called “drinking vinegar,” a modern term for the syrup that can be used to make cocktails and cocktails.

    Perhaps ten years ago, we were in the Japanese pavilion at a restaurant industry trade show and first encountered “drinking vinegar.” It was an exquisite shot for an after dinner drink: sweet and tart, complex, exciting.

    We treasured the bottles we picked up at the show, bringing them to dinners with connoisseur friends, where they were greatly appreciated. Then they were gone, and we moved on. We couldn’t find it for sale, and didn’t realize how easy it was to make it at home.

    But drinking vinegar moved on too, as vinegar-based shrub drinks began to be revived around 2011—on a limited basis at trendy bars and restaurants in the U.S., Canada and London.

    The acidity of a shrub makes it a fine digestif* or used as an alternative to bitters in cocktails.
     
    TYPES OF SHRUBS

    There two different types of shrubs, both acidulated mixed drinks:

  • The original shrub is a fruit liqueur mixed with rum or brandy, sugar and the juice or rinds of a citrus fruit. It evolved to syrup made of vinegar, sugar and fruit that was popular in England in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • The second type of shrub, made on the other side of the pond, was a Colonial-era cocktail or soft drink made by mixing spirits with a vinegared syrup and water or carbonated† water.
  • Shrub can also refer to drinking vinegar, the vinegar-based syrup used to make the cocktail. The vinegar is often infused with fruit (or made with fruit juice), herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks or as a digestif†; and can serve as a sophisticated soft drink.
  •  
    THE MODERN SHRUB: DRINKING VINEGAR

    Shrubs date to the 17th century (see the history of shrubs below). Fresh fruits were steeped in vinegar and sugar, and infused anywhere from overnight up to several days. The fruit solids were then strained out to create a sweet-and-tart concentrate that was mixed with spirits, water or sparkling water.

    Beyond mixology, today’s cooks also add “drinking vinegar” to sauces and salad dressings. We’ve drizzled them on lemon sorbet and rice pudding.
     
    MAKE YOUR OWN SHRUBS

    You can buy artisan shrub syrups at specialty foods stores, but they tend to be pricey, like any top-quality drink mixer. You can find bottled shrub syrup in flavors like Apple, Ginger and Strawberry as well as compound flavors such as Apple Caraway, Blood Orange Cardamom, Blood Orange Ginger, Meyer Lemon Lavender, Smoked Spiced Pear, Watermelon Habanero (these compound flavors from Kansas City Canning Co.).

    But it costs very little to make your own.

    Some people use the ratio of one part fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar for shrub syrup; but these proportions should vary according to the sweetness of the fruit. If the fruit is particularly sweet, you could cut back on the sugar and increase the fruit ratio.

    Think seasonally: berries and stone fruits in the summer; apples, pears and quince in the fall; blood oranges and grapefruits in the winter; strawberries, blackberries and pineapple in the spring.

    While apple cider vinegar is traditional, go beyond it to champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar and flavored vinegar (see the different types of vinegar and how to pair vinegars and foods).
     
    TO MAKE A SHRUB, combine 1 pound chopped fruit, 2 cups sugar and 2 cups apple cider or other vinegar.

    Use the instructions below. For an apple shrub, we cut back on the sugar.

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER SHRUB

    Prep time is 5 minutes plus 3-5 days infusing time.

    Ingredients For 3/4 Quart

  • 3 apples
  • 1-1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar (the best vinegar makes a difference)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Optional: 1-2 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
  •    

    Strawberry Shrub

    Fresh Pineapple

    Stone Fruits

    Boyajian Vinegars

    Watermelon Shrub

    [1] A strawberry shrub (photo courtesy Quinciple). [2] We’re particularly fond of pineapple shrub (photo courtesy Del Monte). [3] In the summer, use stone fruits for your shrubs (photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farms). [4] Beyond apple cider vinegar, consider vinegars flavored with fruit, herbs and spices like these from Boyajian. [5] A bottle of watermelon-habanero shrub from Kansas City Canning Co. (photo © Laura Noll Photography).

     
    Preparation

    1. DICE the apples into very small pieces and place in a quart-size mason jar. Add the vinegar and sugar, and the herb sprigs. If there’s room at the top of the jar, add a few more splashes of vinegar.

    2. CAP the jar tightly and shake it a few times to blend in the sugar. Place the jar in the fridge for 3-5 days, shaking once or twice.

    3. TASTE the shrub after three days. If you like the intensity of flavor, strain out the fruit, first pressing the fruit with the back of the spoon to get all of the juice. Then, store the shrub in an airtight container. Otherwise, let it infuse for two more days.

    4. SERVE: Pour the shrub over ice and mix with sparkling water or make a cocktail. Or try it as a shot: We did, and really liked it.
     
    __________________
    *A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, in theory to aid digestion. Digestifs are usually taken straight, and include brandy, distilled spirits, eaux de vie (fruit brandy, Schnapps), fortified wine (madeira, port, sweet vermouth), grappa and liqueur. Here’s the difference between apéritif and digestif.

    †Carbonated water was first created in 1767 by British chemist Joseph Priestley, but was not manufactured commercially until J. J. Schweppe did so in 1783.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE SHRUB

     

    Apple Shrub

    An apple shrub (photo courtesy Good Eggs). The recipe is above. Good Eggs also sells artisan shrubs in blackberry, lemon, lime, strawberry and quince. They’re pricey; hence the option to make your own.

     

    The shrub is infused (pun intended) with history.

    Originally, shrubs were developed as another way to preserve seasonal fruits for consumption throughout the year.

    The English shrub evolved from the medicinal cordials of the 15th century. As a mixture of fruit and alcohol, the shrub is related to the punch; however, punch is typically served immediately after mixing, while shrub syrup was stored as a mixer for later use.

    Shrub drinks were sold in English public houses in the 17th and 18th centuries; for the holiday season, shrub was mixed with raisins, honey, lemon, sherry and rum. The syrup was a common ingredient in punch. However, the drink fell out of fashion by the late 1800s.

    The Colonial American shrub derived from the English version. The vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of fruits.

    Shrubs remained popular for a longer period of time in the U.S.: through the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, shrubs fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration (ice boxes), which enabled a wealth of other cold drinks.

    Vinegar-based shrub drinks appeared again in 2011-2012. Help to continue the trend: Make some shrub syrup(s) and invite friends over for shrubs.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Light & Luscious Summer Lunch

    It’s too darn hot. After a few days of downing pints of ice cream and sorbet, we started working on more nutritious fare.

    Beyond the green salads and fruit salads, we began playing with summer-specific tartness, the French word for open-face sandwiches.

    Tartine is the French word for an open-faced sandwich with a rich spread or fancy topping; the word actually refers to a slice of bread. Tartine is the French diminutive of the Old French and Middle English tarte, derived from the Late Latin torta, a type of bread. Here’s more about tartines.

    Tartines have faded from fashion in the U.S. After World War II, hearty open face roast beef or turkey sandwich with gravy were popular fare, eaten with a knife and fork. Ladies’ lunch rooms served more delicate versions, with smoked salmon and sliced cucumber or a lighter version of beef or turkey.

    But with much better bread available to us, it’s time to revisit the tartine. The ingredients can be seasonal: topped with melted cheese in cooler months, and with arugula, mesclun or sprouts in warmer ones.

    In fact, the vegetable bounty of summer calls out for tartines. The combinations are vast:
     
    PICK A BREAD

    Begin with choosing a bread that gives character to your tartine. You can serve it toasted or untoasted. Consider:

  • Flatbread for crunch
  • Multigrain for texture
  • Rustic loaves for crustiness
  • Specialty breads for flavor: cornmeal, olive, pistachio, raisin-walnut
  • Whole grain for fiber
  •  
    PICK A SPREAD

    Anything spreadable goes on top of the bread. You can season any of the dairy products to taste.

  • Cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta or whipped cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Hummus or babaganoush
  • Mashed avocado or guacamole, mashed green peas
  • Mayonnaise, flavored mayonnaise, pesto/mayo or mustard/
    mayo blend
  • Pita (see pita tartines)
  • Puréed vegetables
  •  
    PICK A TOPPING

  • Berries, sliced avocado, figs, peaches, watermelon or other fruit
  • Ceviche, gravlax, herring or whitefish salad, sashimi, sardines, sliced shrimp, salmon or tuna tartare, smoked salmon
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Sliced feta or other cheese
  • Prosciutto or serrano ham
  • Sliced hard-boiled egg
  • Sliced radishes and/or cucumbers
  • Steak tartare
  • Steamed or grilled vegetables
  •  
    PICK A GARNISH

  • Baby arugula, spinach or watercress
  • Celery leaves, sprouts or microgreens
  • Chopped herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Corn kernels, sliced olives
  • Frisée
  • Lemon or lime zest
  • Pickled onions or other pickled vegetables
  • Pine nuts or chopped pistachios
  • Shaved Parmesan or other firm or hard cheese
  •    

    Radish Tartine

    Asparagus-Hummus Tartine

    Heirloom Tomato Tartine

    Gravlax Tartine

    [1] Tartine of ricotta, radishes and chives (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Hummus and fat sliced asparagus, topped with pine nuts (photo © Hannah Kaminsky| Bittersweet Blog). [3] Heirloom tomato tartine (photo courtesy Quinciple. [4] Goat cheese, gravlax and figs (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery).

     

    Cucumber Mint Spa Water

    Spa water with sliced cucumbers, lemons and mint (photo courtesy SunsetGrowers).

       
    WHAT TO DRINK: SPA WATER

    Spa water—water seasoned with fruits and herbs—is the perfect complement to a summer tartine. Use at least a trio of these aromatics for flavor and fragrance.

    Here’s a recipe from Sunset Growers, which used its mini cucumbers:
     
    RECIPE: CUCUMBER, LEMON & MINT SPA WATER

    Ingredients For 8 Cups (2 Quarts, 1/2 Gallon)

  • 2-4 small cucumbers*, sliced (keeping the peel adds color)
  • 2-4 lemons and/or limes, thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh mint (stems O.K.)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the ingredients to a large pitcher and fill with water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

    2. SERVE over ice in large glasses or wine goblets, with a slice of cucumber and lemon in each serving.

     
    __________________
    *We love cucumber-flavored water, so we used a large conventional cucumber. You can use any of the different types of cucumbers. Specialty cucumbers like the rippled Armenian cucumber and the Palace King with ripples of yellow on the dark green skin add interest in the pitcher.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Meet The Wineshakes~Wine Milkshakes

    July 17th is National Ice Cream Day.

    Of course, it’s easy to head to the freezer, store or scoop shop to celebrate. But we thought you might like something special.

    Like a wineshake, a wine milkshake. Wine + ice cream = wineshake.

    Does it sound unusual? Well: The first printed reference to a milkshake dates to 1885, and referred to an alcoholic drink, a “sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”

    By 1900, the whiskey and eggs were gone, and the term “milkshake” referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.”

    Yet, the milkshake still contained no ice cream until 1922. Here’s more history of the milkshake.
     
    THE DAWN OF THE WINESHAKE

    The folks at California-based Winc winery have whipped up delicious ice cream and wine milkshake recipes, combining their wines with Van Leeuwen ice cream. But you can use what you have on hand or other substitutes.

    Winc has an online store where you can purchase the wines and send gift cards. We want them just to display the names and label designs: a work of art in wine bottles, so to speak. The wines are well-priced, so this is art we can afford!

    RECIPE #1: COOKIES & CREAM WINESHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup cookies and cream ice cream
  • 2 ounces Alchymist Noir Red Blend (Syrah, Barbera and Valdiguié) or other “big red”
  • Giant drizzle chocolate syrup
  • Garnish: more chocolate syrup for drizzling
  • Garnish: Oreo cookies, mix of crushed and whole
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, and big drizzle of chocolate syrup until you reach the desired consistency of your shake. We mixed ours in the blender, but you can use an immersion blender, cocktail shaker or whatever you have at hand.

    2. POUR the shake into a glass. Top with more chocolate syrup and add the Oreos. Drizzle the top with more chocolate syrup and top with whipped cream as desired.

       

    Cookies & Cream Wine Shake

    Chocolate Wine Shake

    Strawberry Rose Wine Shake

    Vanilla Sparkling Wine Shake

    Shake it shake it baby: Wineshakes from Winc winery (photos courtesy Winc).

     

    RECIPE #2: DARK CHOCOLATE PINOT NOIR WINESHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate ice cream
  • 2 ounces Porter & Plot Pinot Noir or other Pinot
  • Chocolate syrup, for drizzling
  • Garnish: chocolate chips, fresh cherries with stems
  •  
    Preparation

    2. BLEND the ice cream and wine until you reach your desired consistency.

    2. POUR into a glass, drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with chocolate chips, then the cherries.

     

    Alchymist Pinot Noir

    Au-Dela Dolcetto

    [1] Winc’s Alchymist Noir Red Blend. [2] Au-Delà Sparkling Dolcetto*, a dry sparkling red wine. Au-delà means “beyond” in French (photos courtesy Winc).

     

    RECIPE #3: STRAWBERRY ROSE SHAKÉ

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup strawberry ice cream
  • 2 ounces Ruza White Zinfandel or other White Zin
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Garnish: more strawberries, for garnish
  • Optional: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, and a handful of strawberries to taste, until you reach the desired berry flavor and shake consistency.

    2. POUR into a glass. Top with whipped cream and garnish with more strawberries.
     
    RECIPE #4: VANILLA SPARKLING SHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 2 ounces Au-Delà Sparkling Dolcetto* or other sparkling red wine
  • Fresh mixed berries
  • Garnish: whipped cream, more berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, a big handful berries to taste, until you reach desired berry flavor and shake consistency.

    2. POUR into glass. Top with whipped cream, and garnish with more mixed berries.

     
    FLOAT, MALTED MILK, MILKSHAKE: THE DIFFERENCE

  • A float is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with a scoop of ice cream “floating” in it.
  • A milkshake blends together ice cream, milk and flavoring.
  • A malted milk, malt for short, is a milkshake with added malted milk powder†.
  •  
    MORE FOOD HOLIDAYS

    National Vanilla Milkshake Day is June 20th; National Chocolate Milkshake Day is September 12th.

    See all the food holidays.
     
    ALSO SEE FROSÉ: ROSÉ & SORBET
     
    __________________

    *Dolcetto is a red wine grape from the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. It is now planted in Australia and the U.S. as well. Other sparkling red wines include Brachetto d’Acqui, Lambrusco and Sparkling Shiraz, among others.

    †Malted milk is a powdered gruel made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk. It was originally developed by a pharmacist, James Horlick, as a nutritional supplement for infants. Soon enough, parents discovered how tasty it was…and the rest is history.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Ice Pops In A Snap

    July is National Ice Cream Month. Since there’s no Ice Pop Month or Ice Pop Day (and none for ice cream cones, either), we’re folding them in.

    We thank PeanutButterLovers.com, the consumer website of the Southern Peanut Growers for this recipe. It makes a dozen creamy pops, with hardly any effort.
     
    CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA POPS

    Ingredients For 12 Pops

  • 4 large very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 12 ounces frozen whipped dessert topping
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds or substitutes. Freeze until firm. How easy is that?

    2. TO REMOVE: Run the mold under warm water as needed to release the pops.
     
    Find more peanut butter recipes—from appetizers and soups through mains and desserts—at PeanutButterLovers.com.
     
    NO ICE POP MOLDS? TRY THESE SUBSTITUTES:

    If you don’t want to invest in ice pop molds, how about Zip-A-Pop disposable plastic sleeves (third photo at right). We love them!

    Otherwise, take a look around. Most likely, you have one or more of these:

  • Paper or plastic cups. Small (or large, if you want to go for massive pops) disposable paper or plastic cups are an easy and inexpensive stand-in for popsicle molds
  • Ice cube trays (example)
  • Loaf pans (example)
  • Silicone cupcake molds
  • Small cupcake/muffin tins (example)
  • Three- or 6-ounce yogurt containers (a great recycling opportunity)
  •  
    If you don’t have ice pop sticks, here’s another great recycling opportunity:

  • Plastic spoons (we’ve used plastic knives when testing recipes)
  • Stainless steel teaspoons or espresso spoons
  •  
    If you’re not a peanut butter or banana lover, here’s a recipe from Pom Wonderful that trades the PB for pomegranate juice.
     
    Prep time is 20 minutes, plus 4 hours freezing.

       

    Peanut Butter &  Banana Ice Pops

    Ripe Bananas

    Zip Pops

    [1] PB-Banana pops: fruit and protein in an ice pop. What could be better (photo PeanutButterLovers.com). [2] Overripe bananas are an invitation to make banana pops (photo © Luso Images). [3] Zip Pop bags (photo courtesy ZipPops.com.au).

     

    Doubly nutritious: bananas infused with
    pomegranate juice. Photo and recipe
    courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

    RECIPE: POMEGRANATE-BANANA ICE POPS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (from 1 large pomegranate, or buy a bag of arils and skip Step 1.)
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup simple syrup (buy it or make this recipe)
  • 4 ice pop molds or substitute
  • 4 ice pop sticks or plastic spoons
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SCORE 1 fresh pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate under water to free the arils (the seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Strain and place the arils in a clean bowl. Refrigerate or freeze any extra arils for another use.

    2. PREPARE the simple syrup (recipe).

    3. PLACE all ingredients except the arils in a food processor; process until smooth. Then stir in the arils and divide the mixture evenly among the molds/cups.

     
    4. FREEZE slightly; then insert an ice pop stick or plastic spoon into the center of each cup to be used as a stick. Freeze until solid.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Rickey, Cocktail Or Cocktail

    When we were in college, we went often to the Brigham’s Ice Cream Parlor in Harvard Square for a Raspberry-Lime Rickey. The coffee shop craze that began in Seattle had not yet become a destination elsewhere. Rickeys were the Frappuccinos of the day.

    To us, a Rickey was raspberry syrup mixed into club soda with a big squeeze of lime.

    We had no idea that the Rickey (originally the “Joe Rickey”) was a fizzy highball, created in 1883 at Shoomaker’s bar in Washington, D.C. (the different types of fizzy water).
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE RICKEY

    The drink was named for “Colonel” Joe Rickey, a Democratic lobbyist from Missouri. Each morning, he went to Shoomaker’s for a Bourbon with Apollinaris sparkling water over lump ice (today’s cubes).

    Cocktail history was changed one day when the bartender, said to be George A. Williamson, squeezed half a lime into the glass and tossed the squeezed lime in after it. The Rickey was born.

  • It has evolved to include simple syrup and bitters. If you want the authentic experience, tell the bartender.
  • Another variation substituted ginger ale for the fizzy water; but either way, the drink was served in a tall (highball) glass with lots of ice.
  • A decade later, the Gin Rickey became a worldwide cocktail sensation. It remains a relatively popular drink today, while Joe Rickey’s Bourbon Rickey has faded into obscurity.
  •  
    Omit the spirits altogether and you have a mocktail/soft drink that you can layer with other flavors. Omit the bitters in the cocktail and trade the simple syrup for fruit syrup, and you have the Raspberry-Lime Rickey of our youth (fondly referred to as a Razz-Lime Rickey. We had to have at least one a day).
     
    MODERNIZE YOUR RICKEY

    Create your signature Rickey: the [Your Name] Rickey instead of the Joe Rickey.

    Soft Drink Variations

  • In addition to the squeeze of lime, freeze pieces of lime to substitute for all or some of the ice.
  • Use a different fruit syrup. Blueberry Rickey? Peach Rickey?
  • Instead of fruit syrup, puréed the fruit. Fresh raspberries are better than syrup; frozen raspberries are just fine (and less expensive than fresh ones). Plus, you can use less sugar, another sweetener or no sweeter at all.
  • Garnish with a pick of matching fruit (raspberries, blueberries, cubed peaches, etc.)
  • Try flavored club soda.
  • Add bitters.
  •  
    Cocktail Variations

  • Try a different spirit. Tequila Rickey? Vodka Rickey? Flavored Vodka Rickey?
  • Play around with some of the modern flavored bitters: cardamom, grapefruit, lavender, orange, etc.
  •  
    RECIPE: THE RAZZ-LIME RICKEY: COCKTAIL

    We turned our college favorite, the Razz-Lime Rickey soft drink, into a cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2/3 to3/4 cup (3 ounces) fresh or frozen raspberries (or a store-bought raspberry syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (omit if using raspberry syrup)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water
  • 2 ounces raspberry vodka
  • Ice
  • Garnish: fresh raspberries and/or a lime wheel or wedge
  •  

    Raspberry Lime Rickey

    Lime Rickey Recipe

    Blueberry Rickey

    Original Rickey

    [1] A Gin Rickey from from Elegant Affairs. [2] A Raspberry Lime Rickey soft drink rom CooksCountry.com. [3] A Blueberry Rickey with a blueberry cocktail pick (photo courtesy Essence Designs). [4] The original Rickey, made with bourbon (the mint must be left over from a Mint Julep (photo via Tumblr).

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the raspberry-lime syrup: Place the raspberries in a bowl, sprinkle the sugar on top and add the lime juice. Mash with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside and let the mixture marinate for 10 minutes. Strain it through a sieve to remove the seeds.

    2. FILL a glass with ice and add the syrup add the sparkling water. Stir, add the vodka and stir again.

    3. TOP OFF with sparkling water. Garnish and serve

    You can make four drinks at a time with these proportions. In a pitcher combine as above:

  • 1-1/3 cups raspberries
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1 cup raspberry vodka
  •  
    Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again before pouring into ice-filled glasses.
     
    __________________
    *The Brigham’s chain of ice cream parlors is defunct (along with its competitor, Bailey’s). The company closed most of its locations in 2008 and sold the rights to its ice cream brand to HP Hood. The chain declared bankruptcy in 2009, but Hood still produced quarts under the Brigham’s name, sold in supermarkets in New England.

      

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