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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Recipes

FOOD FUN: Orange Is The New Salad

Here’s a fun salad from chef Chef Todd Shoberg of Molina restaurant in Mill Valley, California. Just assemble these ingredients:

  • Romaine or greens of choice
  • Tangerine segments*
  • Shaved carrot†
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • Dressing: olive oil and orange juice; or olive oil, vinegar and tangerine zest
  •  
    Additional Ingredients

    Keep the orange theme going with:

  • Orange cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Orange bell peppers
  • Mango
  • Sweet potatoes, roasted and sliced or diced
  •  

    feta-tangerine-burgundycarrot-molinarestaurantFB-230

    Add as much orange as you like. Photo courtesy Molina restaurant.

     
    And if you want to add some “old black” to the “new black,” garnish with black olives or grapes.

     
    *The Ojai Pixie tangerines are delicious right now. We got ours from Melissas.com.

    †Chef Todd used burgundy heirloom carrot (a burgundy skin and orange flesh), which adds another dimension of interest. Shave the carrots as thickly as you can, or use a knife.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cookie Crumble Sundae

    ice-cream-crumbled-cookie-jamesbeardFB-230ps

    Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with a
    cookie crumble sundae. Photo courtesy
    James Beard Foundation.

     

    July is National Ice Cream Month, an enticement to explore new ways to enjoy ice cream sundaes.

    There are ice cream sundaes with fudge or butterscotch sauce; sundaes atop brownies, blondies and pound cake; and the less common but fun fried ice cream sundaes.

    And there’s the ice cream cookie crumble, which crumbles the cookies as a base.

    It’s an opportunity to combine your favorite cookies and ice cream, with a drizzle of anything from dulce de leche to fruit coulis. We’ve put together a list of options below.

    The recipe in the photo is from Chef Todd Shoberg of Molina in Mill Valley, California. It was created for a fall dinner at the James Beard Foundation dinner. Chef Todd made the ice cream with Fernet—a bitter Italian herbal liqueur that is drunk as an after-dinner digestif (and, according to Wikipedia, is popular in the San Francisco Bay Area where Molina is located).

    His cookie crumble has a base of homemade gingerbread cookie crumbs topped and a syrup made by reducing Coca-Cola. The syrup and ice cream moisten the cookies in a most delightful way.

     
    HOW WILL YOUR COOKIE CRUMBLE?

    Think beyond the obvious (chocolate or vanilla ice cream with fudge sauce over crumbled Oreos), and consider that you can:

  • Go childhood: Our favorite sundae was pistachio ice cream with hot fudge and mini almond biscotti. What was yours?
  • Go nouvelle: Combine modern ice cream flavors, like blood orange sorbet and deep chocolate cookies with a blackberry coulis; green tea ice cream with Chinese almond cookies and fresh raspberry sauce; espresso gelato with crumbled orange zest shortbread and dulce de leche sauce.
  • Go old-fashioned: Our Nana served vanilla ice cream with molasses clove cookies and butterscotch sauce.
  • Go seasonal: Pick flavors that represent the season—summer stone fruits, fall spices, Christmas peppermint, winter citrus, spring berries and herbs.
  • Go tropical: How about mango or passionfruit sorbet with coconut macadamia cookies?
  •  

    MIX & MATCH YOUR COOKIE CRUMBLE SUNDAE

    Pick Your Frozen Dessert

    Pick your flavor of:

  • Gelato
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Sorbet
  •  
    Pick A Complementary Cookie

    Some options:

  • Butter cookies/shortbread
  • Chocolate cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies
  • Fruit cookies: Fig Newtons, linzer, oatmeal raisin, thumbprints
  • Nut cookies: almond, amaretti, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, walnut, etc.
  • Spice cookies: clove, gingerbread/gingersnaps, molasses
  • More: anything from biscotti to meringues
  •  

    brownie-sundae-230

    Vanilla ice cream, brownie crumbs and Baileys Irish Cream.

     

    Pick A Sauce

    For complexity, you can add a tablespoon of alcohol to any topping. Here are the different types of dessert sauces.

  • Buttery: butterscotch, caramel, dulce de leche, hard sauce, rum sauce/rum raisin sauce
  • Chocolate: fudge sauce or syrup
  • Cream: hand-whipped to flowing (not stiff peaks), flavored as you wish
  • Custard: crème anglaise, custard sauce, zabaglione
  • Fruit Coulis or Purée: coulis is an extra step to strain a fruit puree and remove the seeds
  • Liqueur: coffee, chocolate (like Godiva), cream (like Baileys), fruit liqueur.
  • Syrup: flavored syrups for coffee can be used here
  •  
    You can also let guests make their own sundaes, by setting up an ice cream buffet with cookies and toppings. Either way, a good time will be had by all.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Deconstructed Fajita Salad

    Beef-Fajita-Salad-with-Mango-Serrano-Vinaigrette-beefitswhatsfordinner-230

    Ditch the tortilla carbs and have a fajita
    salad. Photo courtesy Beef It’s What’s For
    Dinner.

     

    According to Cabo Flats cantina and bar, there are 54,000 Mexican restaurants in the U.S., and $39 billion is spent each year on Mexican restaurant food.

    Instead of an elaborate fajita spread with six different condiments and sides (see the history of fajitas, below), try this “deconstructed” Beef Fajita Salad with Mango-Serrano Vinaigrette. It’s from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.

    You can substitute a green salad for the diced mangoes. Or, serve a large green salad on the side with a different vinaigrette (we like balsamic).

    RECIPE: BEEF FAJITA SALAD WITH MANGO-
    SERRANO VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 beef boneless top sirloin steak (about 1 pound), cut 1 inch thick
  • 3 medium mangoes, peeled, cut in half
  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium poblano chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large red onion (about 11 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup radishes (about 1 bunch), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • For The Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 to 2 serrano chiles
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  •  
    Optional

  • Flour or corn tortillas
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BRUSH the mangoes lightly with oil. Place the mangoes and poblanos in the center of the grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill the chiles, covered, 9 to 10 minutes (gas grill times remain the same) or until the skins are completely blackened, turning occasionally. Grill the mangoes 8 to 14 minutes (gas grill times remain the same) or until very tender, turning occasionally. Place the chiles in a food-safe plastic bag; close bag. Let stand 15 minutes. Set the mangoes aside.

    2. PRESS the black pepper evenly onto the steak. Brush the onion slices lightly with oil. Place the steak in the center of the grill over medium, ash-covered coals; arrange the onion slices around steak. Grill the steak and onions, covered, turning occasionally. Cook for 11 to 15 minutes over coals, 13 to 16 minutes over medium heat on preheated gas grill, or until the steak is medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) and the onion is tender. Keep warm. Meanwhile…

     

    top-sirloin-lockestmeats.ca-230

    A top sirloin steak, grilled and ready for a fajita salad (or a regular fajita!). Photo courtesy Red Marble Steaks.

     
    3. PREPARE the vinaigrette. Cut the grilled mangoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Combine 1/2 cup mango, lime juice, water and serrano chiles in a food processor. Cover and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil through the opening in the lid, processing until well blended. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.

    4. REMOVE and discard the skins, stems and seeds from the the poblano chiles and cut them into 3/4-inch pieces. Slice the steak. Cut the onion slices in half.

    5. PLACE the beef, remaining mango pieces, onion, chiles and radishes on serving platter. Season with salt as desired. Drizzle the salad with vinaigrette. sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
     

    ABOUT FAJITAS

    Fajita is a Tex-Mex term for strips of meat cut from the faja, or beef skirt (skirt steak is the most common cut used to make fajitas, but you can also use top sirloin). The word faja is Spanish for band, belt, sash or strip.

    The dish was popularized in the 1970s by Mexican restaurants in Texas. The meat was served sizzling, usually cooked with onions and bell peppers. Tortillas were used to roll the meat, with a choice of add-ins from shredded lettuce and cheese to guacamole, pico de gallo or other salsa, sour cream, and tomato.

    Today, you can order fajitas in all popular proteins: chicken, pork, shrimp, and all cuts of beef.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: One Pot Clambake

    One-Pot-Clambake-WS-230sq

    No sand pit on the beach is needed for this
    one-pot clambake. Photo courtesy Williams-
    Sonoma.

     

    The clambake has long been a popular New England summer festivity. Sand pits are dug on the beach to steam the seafood. It’s not only delicious food—it’s a fun event.

    But you don’t need a beach to enjoy the deliciousness. This recipe from Williams Sonoma’s One Pot of The Day Cookbook will do the trick.

    Get out or borrow a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot (16-20 quarts) and fill it to the brim with everybody’s favorite clambake ingredients: clams, corn, lobsters, mussels, potatoes and sausages.

    Advises Williams-Sonoma: Just provide plenty of napkins, a bowl for the discards and crusty bread to soak up the broth.

    We’ll add: bibs and a clam chowder starter!

    For vegetables: Prepare a green salad without adding dressing. If anyone’s still hungry after the main course, dress and serve the salad. Otherwise, keep it for the next day.

    TIPS

  • While traditional clambakes serve cold beer, you can pour your favorite white wine or rosé.
  • If you want everyone to have a lobster, get four. Otherwise, detach the tails of the two lobsters prior to cooking, so two people will have tails and two get the upper body with the claws and legs.
  • If you have large bowls, consider using them instead of plates. Then, each person can have as much broth as he prefers with his/her meal.
  •  
    RECIPE: ONE-POT LOBSTER CLAMBAKE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped, any fronds reserved for garnish
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound kielbasa or other smoked sausage, thickly sliced
  • 2 one-pound lobsters
  • 2 ears of corn, each cut into 3 pieces
  • 24 mussels*, scrubbed and debearded
  • 24 clams*, scrubbed
  • 12 large shrimp in the shell
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  •  
    Plus

  • Crusty bread, sliced
  • Absorbent napkins
  • Bibs (we use hand towels)
  •  
    *Discard any clams or mussels that are cracked or open before cooking. Mollusks should be closed before cooking and open afterward.

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oil in the stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, fennel and thyme. and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the fennel is soft, about 8 minutes.

    2. ADD the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and then layer the other ingredients on top in this order: the potatoes, the kielbasa and the lobsters. Cover the pot tightly and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and nestle in the corn, clams, mussels and shrimp. Cover tightly and cook for another 10 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels or clams.

    3. TRANSFER the corn, potatoes, sausage and seafood to a large platter, using a slotted spoon. Season the broth in the stockpot to taste with salt and pepper and spoon it over the top of the seafood (we pour the excess broth into a pitcher for the table and reserve whatever is left for to enjoy next day). Garnish with fennel fronds and lemon wedges, and serve immediately.

     

    one-pot-of-the-day-ws-230

    Find more easy one-dish dinners in this cookbook by Kate McMillan. Order yours online. Photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.

     
    CLAMBAKE HISTORY

    A lobster clambake is a 2,000-year-old tradition that began with Native Americans in what is now New England. The Pilgrims first learned about it by watching them gather the seafood from the water and prepare the community meal on the beach.

    Native Americans did not have large cooking vessels. Instead, a sand pit was dug and lined with hot rocks and coals. The seafood was set into the pit and covered with wet seaweed and more hot rocks, steaming the food in seawater. (Today, a tarp is added to keep the steam in.)

    What was a subsistence meal for the Native Americans of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island has evolved into a modern-day festive beach dinner, often held at sunset.

    At some point after the Europeans arrived, seafood was not considered sufficient protein source for the men working hard to dig the pit and gather the seafood. Meat was added as an energy food—first as hame or bacon in clam chowder, and then in the “bake” itself.

    The only “given” in a clam bake are the clams; but if you don’t eat seafood you can include different fish fillets.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Lattice Pie Crust

    lattice-crust-blueberryjamtart-goboldwbutter-230sq

    Many people think a lattice is the prettiest
    pie crust. Photo courtesy Completely
    Delicious via Go Bold With Butter.

     

    “A home-baked fruit pie with a lattice crust is a guaranteed crowd pleaser,” says Annalise Sandberg of CompletelyDelicious.com. If you’ve always wanted to make one but haven’t yet, Annalise is here to help with a step-by-step photo tutorial.

    A lattice crust is a top crust for pies or tarts made from strips of dough woven into a criss-cross pattern.

    In addition to the eye appeal, the openings between the strips of dough allow steam to escape during baking. Some of the water in the fruit juices evaporates, which can caramelize the filling and makes for a less drippy filling. That’s why you typically find a lattice top on fruit pies.

    The lattice is made from the top crust dough of a double crust pastry recipe. The dough is cut into strips using a sharp knife or, preferably, a pastry wheel cutter which provides a beautiful crimped edge.

    If you need to buy a pastry wheel, we like this one which has both crimped and straight cutting blades. You can use the same tool to cut ravioli.

    LATTICE CRUST TIPS

  • Chill the dough before cutting.
  • If you don’t want to rely on your eye, use a ruler to make the strips even-width.
  • Some people use an egg wash to make their top crusts golden brown. We think a lattice looks nicer without the egg wash.
  • Here’s a video.
  •  
    RECIPE: LATTICE PIE CRUST

    Ingredients

  • Your favorite fruit pie recipe and a double pie crust recipe (how about a delicious peach pie recipe?)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the fruit filling of your choice. Set aside and make your favorite pie crust recipe, divided into two disks. Chill the dough.

    2. ROLL out first disk of dough, place it in the pie pan and fill it with the fruit.

    3. ROLL out second disk of dough. Use a plain or decorative pastry wheel cutter (or a very sharp knife) to slice the dough into strips approximately 1-inch wide. Use 10 strips as you first master the technique. Later you can get creative with the width of the lattice and the number of strips you use.

    4. PLACE 5 dough strips on top of pie, spaced evenly. The longest strips should be in the center.

    5. WEAVE the second group of strips under and over the first five (and if these instructions sound confusing, look at the photo at right, watch the video or this photo layout).

     

    Lattice-unbaked-230sq

    Ready, set, bake! Photo courtesy Annalise Sandberg of CompletelyDelicious.com. Here’s her recipe.

    > PULL back the second and fourth strips halfway and place another strip down center of the pie, perpendicular to first set. Lay folded strips back down.
    > FOLD the first, third, and fifth strips back and place another perpendicular dough strip on top of pie. Unfold those strips, and again fold second and fourth strips. Lay one more perpendicular strip.
    > ROTATE the pie 180 degrees and repeat on the other side until you have finished the lattice.
    > TRIM the ends of the strips so that they match up with the overhang of the bottom crust. Pinch the top and bottom crusts together to seal, fold under and crimp as desired.

    6. BAKE as directed and impress your friends and family!
     

    LATTICE TRIVIA

    Before it was adapted to a pie crust design, a lattice was a structure of crossed wooden or metal strips, often arranged to form a diagonal pattern on trellises (for vines), gazebos, summerhouses, arches and other structures.

    The word first appears in print as an English noun in the late 13th century, derived from an Old English variant of laett, from the German latte—which is not a beverage but a thin slat of wood. The root can be found in numerous old languages, including Proto-Germanic, Old Norse and Old Saxon. The verb appears in the 1530s.

    Im Middle English the word was spelled latis; in Middle French, lattis. The French spelling is the same today.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Oven Fried Chicken With Corn Flakes

    Photo courtesy Cereal Lovers Cookbook.

     

    July 6th is National Fried Chicken Day. Our favorite fried chicken recipe is breaded with Corn Flakes. We usually make this skillet fried chicken recipe, but here’s a “bake fry” recipe.

    Of course, it’s breaded with Corn Flakes crumbs. Not only is the texture superior to flour, but the corn flakes add a delightful flavor note. (Panko, Japanese bread crumbs, provide the texture but not the flavor.)

    You can make this recipe with or without the chicken skin. We remove it to cut back on cholesterol.

  • 7 cups Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, crushed to 1-3/4 cups
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 pounds chicken pieces, rinsed and dried
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Preparation

    1. CRUSH. Crush corn flakes in a plastic bag with a rolling pin or wine bottle. Place crushed cereal in a shallow dish or pan. Set aside.

    2. MIX. In medium mixing bowl, beat egg and milk slightly. Add flour, salt and pepper. Mix until smooth. Dip chicken in batter. Coat with cereal. Place in single layer, in shallow baking pan coated with cooking spray or foil lined. Drizzle with margarine.

    3. Bake at 350° F about 1 hour or until chicken is tender, no longer pink and juices run clear. For food safety, internal temperature of the chicken should reach at least 165ºF. Do not cover pan or turn chicken while baking. Serve hot.

     

    CORN FLAKES HISTORY

    Corn flakes were developed by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a surgeon and vegetarian who built a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, and his brother Will Keith (W.K.) Kellogg, the sanitarium’s bookkeeper. Many of the patients were wealthy individuals with digestive problems.

    Seeking to develop a more digestible form of bread for the patients, the brothers Kellogg had just placed a sample of boiled wheatberries on a baking sheet when Dr. Kellogg was summoned to the operating room for an emergency, and W.K. was also called away to supervise arrangements for the funeral of another patient.

    When they returned to their experiment, they ran the cooked wheatberries through rollers and, to their surprise, found that each wheat berry formed a large, thin flake. The brothers had accidentally discovered the principle of tempering grains, and called the flaked wheat cereal Granose.

    They applied the same technique to create Corn Flakes, made from white corn grits; and rice flakes.

     

    corn-flakes-box-230

    For breakfast or breading! Photo courtesy Kellogg.

     

    The first corn flakes appeared in 1898 and were called Sanitas Corn Flakes (presumably after the sanitarium, a questionable inspiration for a breakfast food). They were manufactured by Dr. Kellogg’s Sanitas Food Company.

    In 1906, W.K. Kellogg formed his own company for nationwide marketing of Corn Flakes (Dr. Kellogg preferred healthcare to business). C.W. Post, a former patient at the sanitarium, came out with his own corn flakes at about the same time. At first he called them Elijah’s Manna, and later changed the name to Post Toasties.

    The Kellogg’s Corn Flakes rooster actually has a name: Cornelius Rooster. The artwork was created in 1957 by Rena Ames Harding at the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency. It has been pictured on the front of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box ever since.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blueberry Pineapple Salsa

    blueberry-pineapple-salsa-blueberrycouncil-230

    A salsa with something special: blueberries! Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    July is National Blueberry Month, and the price of the little blue nuggets should be at its lowest. In fact, experts recommend that blueberry lovers with lots of freezer space buy and freeze them to enjoy in winter. (Freezing tip: First freeze the berries in one layer in baking pan or rimmed cookie sheet so they don’t stick together; then store in freezer bags.)

    But our focus today is on summer and fruit salsa, with this recipe from the Blueberry Council. Use it with tortilla chips or to top grilled fish or chicken. We also like it as a topping for lemon sorbet (without the red onion)!

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY PINEAPPLE SALSA

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the blueberries, pineapple, jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and red onion. Season with salt, taste and add more lime juice as needed.

    2. SERVE with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.

    Find more delicious recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org. Check out the savory blueberry pizza!
     
    BLUEBERRY BUYING TIPS

    When you buy fresh blueberries, look for berries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned, with a silvery white surface bloom. If the bloom is gone, the berries are old.

    If you see juice stains on the bottom of the container of blueberries, the fruit can be bruised. Pick another carton.

    Berry size isn’t an indicator of maturity, but color is: The berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black. Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe, and won’t ripen after they are picked (but you can use them in cooking).

    Refrigerate fresh blueberries when you get them home, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container. Wash the blueberries just before using.

    Don’t buy more than you’ll use, and and eat them within 10 days of purchase (the sooner, the better).

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Summer Sangria

    Thanks to our friends Laura and Charles for reviving our interest in sangria, a Spanish fruit punch. At a light summer dinner last week, the sangria they served paired beautifully with every dish.

    Americans were first introduced to sangria at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. The Spanish Pavilion had three restaurants, and the sangria offered with meals changed the way Americans thought of fruit punch.

    There are many recipes for red, rosé and white sangria. The types of wine and fruit used in Spain depended on what was grown in the particular region.

    We have two recipes from Courvoisier that are a bit more elegant than most recipes. The first uses sparkling wine instead of still wine, plus Cognac and peach liqueur, which complements the fresh summer peaches.

    It’s easier to serve sangria from a pitcher, but if you want to show off your punch bowl, go ahead. A tip about ice: The larger the pieces of ice, the slower they melt (and don’t water down the punch). If you have metal ice cube trays with a removable insert, you can omit the insert and freeze a block of ice in the base.

    If you happen to have other fruit or mint at hand, feel free to add it to the recipe, in addition to the fruits specified. There is no “best” recipe for sangria. It’s all delicious, and that’s what makes it such an easy drink to concoct (and serve), whether for parties, weekday dinner or weekend lounging.

       

    white-sangria-courvoisier-230r

    While many of us started with red sangria (it was introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair), in Spain the type of wine used is based on the wines made in the particular region. Photo courtesy Courvoisier.

     
    Sangria is not just for summer. With varied ingredients (stronger wines, more liqueur, winter fruits) it’s a year-round drink. Here’s the history of sangria.
     
    RECIPE: SPARKLING WHITE SANGRIA

    Ingredients

  • 4 parts VS* Cognac
  • 4 parts peach liqueur or schnapps†
  • 2 bottles Prosecco or other sparkling white wine
  • ½ cup white grape juice
  • 2 ripe peaches
  • Green grapes
  • Ice cubes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the fruit: Thinly slice the peaches and cut the grapes in half. Add the fruit to a pitcher with the Cognac, peach liqueur and grape juice.

    2. CHILL in the refrigerator for for 1-3 hours. Immediately before serving, add the Prosecco and stir gently (you don’t want to break the bubbles). Serve over ice.
     
    *If you only have VSOP (the next higher grade of Cognac) and don’t want to buy VS just for this recipe, go ahead and use it. V.S. Cognac, also called Three Star, stands for Very Special. The youngest brandy in the blend has been aged for at least two years in cask. Many people prefer VSOP, Very Superior Old Pale, where the youngest spirit in the blend is aged four years in cask but the average can be 10 to 15 years. Scroll down here for the different classifications of Cognac, which are based on how long they have been aged prior to bottling.

    †Is it schnapps or Schnaps? Schnaps is the German spelling (and German nouns are always capitalized). The English added the extra “p,” and “schnapps” prevails in the U.S. In Germany the term refers to any type of strong alcoholic drink. In the U.S. it refers to a liqueur.

     

    white-punch-courvoisier-230

    It’s easier to serve sangria (or any punch) from a pitcher; but if you want to show off your punch bowl, go ahead! Photo courtesy Courvoisier.

     

    RECIPE: LEMONADE PUNCH

    This recipe omits wine altogether, substituting a summer favorite, lemonade.

    Ingredients

  • 250ml/8-9 ounces VS Cognac
  • 750ml/25 ounces lemonade
  • 20 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
  • 3 orange wheels
  • 6 lemon or lime wheels
  • Ice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the freshly cut fruit to a punch bowl or pitcher. Pour in the remaining ingredients.

    2. INFUSE for at least 10 minutes, or for several hours. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Add ice immediately prior to serving.

     

    EAU DE VIE, CORDIAL, LIQUEUR & SCHNAPS: THE DIFFERENCE

    Most people—including American producers and importers—use these terms interchangeably. But there are differences:

  • Schnaps/schnapps, a generic German word for liquor or any alcoholic beverage, is more specific in English, where it refers to clear brandies distilled from fermented fruits. The English added a second “p,” spelling the word as schnapps. True Schnaps has no sugar added, but products sold in the U.S. as schnapps may indeed be sweetened. As one expert commented, “German Schnaps is to American schnapps as German beer is to American Budweiser.”
  • Eau de vie is the French term for Schnaps. American-made brands labeled “eau de vie” (water of life) are often heavily sweetened, and have added glycerine for thickening.
  • Liqueur is an already distilled alcohol made from grain which has already been fermented, into which fruits are steeped. It is sweeter and more syrupy than a European eau de vie or schnapps.
  • Cordial, in the U.S., almost always refers to a syrupy, sweet alcoholic beverage, a synonym for liqueur. In the U.K., it refers to a non-alcoholic, sweet, syrupy drink or the syrup used to make such a drink. Rose’s Lime Cordial, a British brand, is called Rose’s Lime Juice in the U.S. so Americans don’t think it’s alcoholic.
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    WATER OF LIFE

    Because spirits were initially intended to be medicinal, “water of life” was a logical term.

  • Eau de vie means water of life in French.
  • The Russian term zhiznennia voda, which was distilled down into “vodka” (that’s a pun), also means “water of life” (the literal translation of vodka is “little water”).
  • The Gaelic uisce beatha, pronounced ISH-ka BYA-ha, also means “water of life.” The pronounciation evolved into the more familiar term, whiskey.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Delicious Charred Vegetables

    Some recipes specify charring bell peppers to make it easy to remove their skins and purée them. But we char them just to enjoy the charred flavor.

    Charring is a step beyond simple grilling. If you haven’t discovered the joy of charring vegetables on the grill—or haven’t ventured beyond corn, mushrooms and potatoes—let us whet your appetite.

    Charring creates contrasting flavor and textures, caramelized sweetness, and toasty, smoky notes. When the skin gets blackened and blistery, the the flavor is intensified. The skins soften while the flesh stays crisp.

    You don’t need a grill (ideally, with wood chips) to char vegetables. You can also do it:

  • On the stove top, in a dry cast iron pan
  • Under the broiler in your oven
  •  
    All you need are raw vegetables tossed in olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt or coarse sea salt, and the heat source. Grilling tips are below.

    WHAT VEGETABLES ARE BEST FOR GRILLING

    Some of our favorite things to char—in addition to corn, mushrooms and potatoes:

  • Asparagus: Trim the tough ends, toss the spears in olive oil and salt and grill for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
  •    

    assorted-grilled-vegetables-happilyunprocessed-230r

    A delicious platter of grilled veggies, from HappilyUnprocessed.com, with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, yellow squash and bell peppers. Here’s their recipe for Balsamic Grilled Vegetables.

  • Baby potatoes: Potatoes, dense and hard, need to be pre-cooked. Leave the skins on and place the potatoes in a pot. Cover with one inch of salted cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and skewer (for a gourmet touch, skewer on soaked rosemary twigs) and grill for 3 to 4 minutes total, turning occasionally.
  • Bell peppers, Hatch or other chiles: Remove the core and seeds, then slice the each pepper in half (or in quarters for large bells). Toss with olive oil and salt and grill over a medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill 4-5 minutes longer.
  • Cabbage or lettuce: Cut the head in half and slice each half into 1-inch-thick slices; skewer to keep the leaves together. Toss with olive oil and salt. Grill over a medium-high heat for 10 minutes, then turn and grill for another 10 minutes. (If cabbage and lettuce seem like strange grilling veggies, try them—they’re delicious!)
  • Cauliflower: Use large florets only; save the smaller bits for other uses. Toss in olive oil, salt and skewer. Grill over medium-high heat, turning frequently for about 10 minutes, until lightly charred.
  • Corn: Remove the husks; otherwise, you just steam the corn. Oil and salt them, then grill over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, turning frequently.
  • Eggplant: Cut into 1/2-inch slices, place on a wire rack and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave for 30 minutes, then rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels (this process removes the bitterness). Toss with oil (you can add some balsamic, too), salt and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
  • Green onions/scallions: Toss in oil and salt and grill on medium-high for about two minutes, until distinct grill marks appear. Then turn and cook for 1 minute more.
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    grilled-vegetables-mccormick-230

    Mixed grilled vegetables. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
  • Mushrooms: Toss whole mushrooms with olive oil and salt; then skewer and cook over medium-high heat for 7-8 minutes, turning frequently. Grill whole portobello mushroom caps directly on the grill. Toss in oil (we also use some balsamic), salt and grill for four minutes; then turn and grill another four minutes.
  • Onions: Sweet and red onions are best. Peel, cut into ½-inch slices, toss in olive oil and kosher salt and grill over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then turn and grill 2-3 minutes longer. A skewer will hold the onion layers together.
  • Tomatoes: Skewer cherry tomatoes and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, turning frequently. Cut plum or other tomatoes in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and grill for four minutes over medium-high heat. Then turn and grill for four more minutes.
  • Zucchini or yellow squash: Cut into ½-inch pieces lengthwise, toss in olive oil, salt and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes. Then turn and grill another 4-5 minutes.
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    We also love grilled romaine, especially in a grilled Caesar salad.

     
    GRILLING TIPS

  • Heat. Most vegetables need a medium-high heat. With a gas grill, this is 400°F to 425°F. With a charcoal grill, think “4 by 5”: You should be able to hold your hand four to five inches above the grill for for four to five seconds. For delicate vegetables, use medium heat—350°F or hold your hand four to five inches above the grill for six or seven seconds.
  • Skewers. When grilling smaller vegetables that might fall through the grate, use skewers. They also make it easy to turn the vegetables. We use stainless steel skewers; but if you’re using bamboo, remember to soak them for 30 minutes.
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    USING THE BROILER TO CHAR VEGETABLES

  • Set the broiler to HIGH. If the broiler is inside your oven, place the oven rack to within 4-5 inches of the broiler flame.
  • Since there are no grates to fall through, you don’t need to skewer.
  • Toss with olive oil and salt and spread the the vegetables on a sheet pan. Softer vegetables will cook faster than harder, denser ones like onions, so keep the individual vegetables together so you can remove them as they finish cooking.
  • Broil for five minutes, then turn and stir. Leave the oven/broiler door open during broiling to vent the steam.
  • Continue to broil and turn every five minutes. The vegetables will gradually start to char on the outside. All vegetables will be ready in 20-25 minutes, depending on how crunchy or soft you like them.

     
    NO OVEN OR BROILER?

    Use your toaster oven on the highest setting. It isn’t exactly the same, but the results are still delicious. Lightly brush the veggies with olive oil, or drizzle mushrooms with balsamic vinegar.

      

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    RECIPE: Blueberry Mango Chile Smoothie

    July is National Blueberry Month and today is Smoothie Saturday. The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council recommends with this great-looking Blueberry Mango Chile Smoothie, a layered smoothie.

    RECIPE: BLUEBERRY MANGO CHILE SMOOTHIE

    Ingredients For 2 Smoothies

  • 2 cups blueberry compote (recipe below)
  • 12 ounces (1-1/2 cups) low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt, divided
  • 1 large mango, peeled, pitted, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
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    Ingredients For The Blueberry Compote

  • 16 ounces frozen (unthawed) blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the blueberry compote, cover and chill.

       

    bluebery-mango-smoothie-blueberrycouncil-230

    Have you seen a more vivid smoothie? Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    frozen-blueberries-mango-blueberrycouncil-230sq

    Blueberry compote, made with frozen blueberries. Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    2. PLACE 6 ounces of the yogurt, the mango, chili powder and cayenne in a blender; blend until smooth. Divide the mango mixture between two 16-ounce cups; set aside.

    3. RINSE the blender and place the Blueberry Compote and remaining yogurt in the blender; blend until smooth. Check the consistency and dilute with water or milk if needed.

    4. SLOWLY POUR half of the blueberry mixture on top of each of the mango smoothies for a two-layer effect.
     
    Preparation: Blueberry Compote

    1. TOSS the blueberries with the sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring; reduce the heat to low and simmer until the blueberries are heated through and the sauce is slightly thickened.

    2. TASTE and add more sugar if needed. Allow to cool, cover and chill.

     

      

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