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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIPS OF THE DAY: Double Strain Your Cocktails & Pumpkin Liqueur For Fall

This tip is for people who can’t abide citrus pulp, whether in their juice or their cocktails.

Bartenders use an extra strainer, beyond what is built into a cocktail shaker or standard bar strainer.

All you need is a fine mesh strainer, which has multiple uses in the kitchen.

Hold the strainer over the glass and pour from the shaker through the strainer. Mission accomplished!
 
GET SOME PUMPKIN LIQUEUR

From from September through November, you can find pumpkin liqueurs on the shelves.

Our favorite is Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur is a cream liqueur: delicious in shots, cocktails and for pouring over vanilla ice cream.

We also are partial to Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice, which blends their coffee liqueur with the spices: a great combo.

Most pumpkin liqueur are pumpkin pie spice-flavored rather than pumpkin-flavored. We like that Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur is just sweet enough, not overly sweet. Some are positively cloying.

At 140 calories per 1.5-ounce shot, Fulton’s is a better dessert choice than a slice of pumpkin pie!

We use our pumpkin liqueurs for Pumpkin Martinis and as after-dinner drinks, straight or in coffee.

For recipes, check FultonsHarvest.com for how to add the liqueur to banana bread, cookies, French toast, ice cream, muffins and more drinks.
 
FOOD FUN: PUMPKIN PATCH JULEP

This season, consider a different cocktail “glass”: a baby pumpkin. It’s sure to delight at Halloween, Thanksgiving or anytime during the fall.

You can wash, dry and freeze the pumpkins in food storage bags in advance; and wash and re-freeze them to use again fall. And of course, you can serve this pumpkin cocktail in a rocks glass.
 
Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces whiskey of choice
  • 1 ounce Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce white creme de cacao
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon honey (we left it out)
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Ice
  • Optional: baby pumpkin, scooped out
  • Optional: mint leaves for garnish, pumpkin pie spice, whole clove
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously with ice.

    2. STRAIN into chilled cocktail glass—or a baby pumpkin, or a pumpkin mug.

     

    Straining A Cocktail

    Cocktail In Baby Pumpkin

    Fulton's Pumpkin Pie Liqueur

    [1] Straining a cocktail at Artisan restaurant in Paso Robles, California. [2] Pumpkin cocktail in a baby pumpkin (photo courtesy American Alibi Whiskey). [3] Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur, a limited fall edition (photo courtesy Fulton’s Harvest).

     
    3. GARNISH with a mint leaves, a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice and a whole clove.
     
    BEER LOVERS: Here’s a Pumpkin Beertail for you.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Apples With Honey, Fruit Dip With Chutney

    For the Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah—which begins Sunday at sunset—apple slices and honey represent wishes for a sweet new and fruitful year.

    This simple combination is so yummy, we wonder why it isn’t a regular snack for everybody.

    The recipe is simple:

  • Sliced apples
  • Small bowl of honey
  • Cocktail napkins to catch honey drips
  • Optional small plates
  •  
    You can make it into a bigger event with spiced tea like Constant Comment or chai; or mulled cider or mulled wine. If the day is warm: iced tea.

    Why apples?

    According to Reform Judiasm, neither the Bible nor the Talmud dictates the minhag, or custom, of dipping apples in honey. It has nothing to do with eating the apple in the Garden of Eden: The Bible never identifies the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:16–17).

    Over the millennia, scholars have variously interpreted the fruit as the apple, carob, citron, datura, fig, grape, pear, pomegranate and quince.

    However, the Midrash, a method of interpreting bible stories, says the Garden of Eden had the scent of an apple orchard. In Kabbalah the Garden Of Eden is called “the holy apple orchard.”
    More likely, apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish relationship to God. In just one source, the Zohar (a 13th-century Jewish mystical text), it states that beauty, represented by God, “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.”

    Why is the apple used in all the Garden of Eden paintings?

    It was chosen as the by Western European painters.

    Why honey?

    The customary New Year’s greeting, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year), has existed at least since the 7th century.

    Honey—whether from bees, dates or figs—was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world. But in the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from bees.

    Why join in on the custom?

    So go forth and acquire apples and honey, and serve this sweet treat at home: at breakfast, for snacking, or as dessert at lunch and dinner.

    Check out the different types of honey, and use the occasion for a tasting.

    Invite friends and family. You don’t have to come from a certain culture to enjoy their food—as most Americans are fortunate to know.

     
    RECIPE #1: CHUTNEY FRUIT DIP

    Not a fan of honey? You can make a fruit dip from chutney, jam or preserves (the differences) with plain yogurt, sour cream or yogurt, or a blend. Add a dab of mayo if you like. Stir in the fruit condiments to taste.

       

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Apples & Honey

    Honey: the original fruit dip? In biblical times, a paste of dates, also called honey, was used. [1] Photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF. [3] Photo courtesy Between The Bread | NYC. [3] An idea from Martha Stewart: hollow out an apple to hold the honey.

     
    You can use any flavor of fruit. This recipe, from B & R Farms (photo #4), uses their Dried Apricot Chutney. The cream cheese makes a thicker dip, and the following proportions make two cups, enough for a group.
     
    Ingredients

  • Fruits of choice: apples but also a mixed platter of bananas, grapes, kiwi, melons, peaches, strawberries, etc.
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces light sour cream
  • ½ cup chutney
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MIX all ingredients well and refrigerate in a covered dish. When ready to serve, wash and slice the fruit and place as desired on a platter.

    2. Stir the dip and place in a bowl. The dip keeps for a few days; stir well before each use.

     

    Apricot Chutney Dip

    Honey Glazed Apples

    [43] Fruit platter with apricot chutney dip from B&R Farms (use any chutney, jam or preserves). [5] Glazed honey apples from Taste Of Home.

     

    RECIPE #2: GLAZED HONEY-CINNAMON APPLES

    We adapted this recipe from Taste Of Home, substituting honey for table sugar (photo #5).

    Enjoy them plain, perhaps with a sprinkle of raisins or dried cranberries; or with a creamy topping.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, cook time is 3 hours in a slow cooker. Alternatively, you can sauté the apples.
     
    Ingredients For 7 Servings

  • 6 large tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Optional garnish: dried cherries, cranberries, raisins
  • Topping: heavy cream, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL, core and cut each apple into eight wedges. Transfer to a 3-quart slow cooker. Drizzle with lemon juice.

    2. COMBINE the brown sugar, honey, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle with the melted butter.

    3. COVER and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until apples are tender.

     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SWEETENERS:
    SUGAR, MAPLE, SYRUPS & MORE

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Cold Brew Coffee With A French Press

    The average American drinks 2.1 cups of coffee a day. Collectively, Americans drink 4,630 cups of coffee each second. And September 29th is National Coffee Day.

    Cold brew coffee, which has been around quite a while (we’ve had a Toddy cold brew system for 20+ years), has finally hit the mainstream.

    Coffee drinkers find it has superior flavor; and in the summer, iced coffee is as easy as adding cold water to cold-brew concentrate from the fridge. (Here are some well-reviewed brands).

    Companies from Folgers to Blue Bottle sell cold-brew coffee. You can buy large bottles of concentrate; you can buy grab-and-go 16-ounce bottles.

    Yet, if you have a French press, you can make trendy cold brew coffee without purchasing a special cold brew system or a bottle of ready-brewed. The French press recipe is below. But first:
     
    WHAT’S A FRENCH PRESS?

    A French press is a coffee-brewing device consisting of a pot with a removable plunger made of fine mesh.

    Coarse-ground coffee is added to the pot, followed by boiling water. The plunger device is placed on top. The coffee grounds float in the water.

    When the coffee is ready to be poured, the plunger is employed. As it is pushed down, the grounds are pushed to the bottom. It does not use electricity; although you likely need it to heat the water.

    If you have a French press, there’s no need to buy a cold brew system, or pricey bottles of cold brew coffee at retail.

    Today, you can find coffee presses in stainless steel, in a stainless holder with a glass beaker (photo #1), and in plastic.

    French presses are made in sizes from 1-2 cups to 10 cups or more. There are travel mug versions, of course: We use this coffee press “mug” from Bodum.

    French press or coffee press is the name in English; although in In New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, the apparatus is known as a coffee plunger. In France it is called cafetière à piston; in Italy it is a caffettiera a stantuffo.
     
    Brewing Tea In A French Press

    You can use a French press to brew loose tea as well, but don’t use a press that is used to brew coffee. Even after washing, microscopic bits of coffee oil can cling to the glass or metal, imparting an unwelcome undertaste to the tea.

       

    Classic French Press

    Cold Brew Coffee  Concentrate

    [1] The classic design of the modern French press (this one is from Bonjour). [2] One of the artisan cold-brews sold at retail (photo courtesy Jittery John’s).

     
    With both coffee or tea, be sure to pour it soon after brewing. Letting the grounds or tea leaves sit under the brewed beverage creates a bitter brew, not a better brew.
     
    Conceived In 1852

    The first known design for a plunge-type brewer was patented in 1852 by two French designers, Mayer and Delforge. You can see their design at PerfectlyGroundCoffee.com.

    Per Brooklyn Roasting it was ahead of its time; manufacturing was not precise enough to snugly fit the filter within pot of the design.

    Others tried their hand, but the first iteration of brewer that we know today was patented by Italian designers Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta in 1929. They employed a rubber seal around the edge of the filter.

    The design evolved, with improved the function of the rubber seal.

    The design we know today was patented by a Swiss designer, Faliero Bondanini, in 1958. It was manufactured in France and called a chambord. With a compact design and no required electrical outlet, it became a very popular brewing method.

     
    HOW TO MAKE COLD BREW COFFEE IN A FRENCH PRESS

    These instructions are proportions for an 8-cup French press. Remember that the “standard” cup size used by manufacturers was set long before coffee mugs and modern insulated travel mug containers were in use. So if you use a large mug, you’ll get 4 mugs worth from an 8-cup press, or three 16-ounce travel mugs.

    Use only coarse-ground coffee. Smaller grains will slip through the mesh filter and produce unacceptable coffee.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup coffee, coarsely ground
  • 3 cups water, room temperature
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the coffee in an 8-cup French press. Add the water. Stir the grinds to integrate with the water.

    2. PLACE the French press plunger on top (do not plunge into the water) and place in the fridge for 12 hours.

    3. PRESS down on the plunger, which pushes all the grounds to the bottom, underneath the mesh filter. Pour and enjoy cold with ice, or warm in the microwave.
     
    TIP: Depending on how well the coffee is ground, a few grounds may escape into the coffee. Our mom further poured the coffee through a piece cheesecloth. We don’t.

     

    Stainless French Press

    Manual Coffee Grinder

    [3] Fashionable restaurants bring coffee to the table in a French press (photo courtesy Kabuki Japanese restaurants). [4] It’s easy to grind your own beans for a French press, since the coffee is coarsely ground (photo of manual coffee grinder from FrenchPressCoffee.com).

     

    COFFEE TRIVIA

    We start with an important fact for the many people who want more or less caffeine:

    There is no association between caffeine levels and flavor (e.g. strong coffee). The major difference comes from amount of coffee used and, most importantly, the brewing technique.

    Cold brew has the most caffeine, followed by drip coffee and espresso.

    Take this fun coffee trivia quiz.

    Here are more fun facts from THE NIBBLE and BeFrugal.com.

  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity on Earth, after oil.
  • Coffee beans are actually the seeds of berries, which grow on a shrub or small tree.
  • Teddy Roosevelt is said to have consumed one gallon of coffee a day.
  • The first webcam was invented by scientists at the University of Cambridge, so they could monitor when their coffee pot was full.
  • It is not true that light-roasted coffee has more caffeine than dark-roasted coffee. In terms of the ground coffee, light-roasted has more because the roasted beans are denser. However, once brewed, darker roasts have more caffeine.
  •  
    Facts About Decaf

  • The amount of caffeine in coffee varies a lot. It can depend on the beans (robusta has much more than arabica), the portion size, but most importantly the brewing technique.
  • Decaf doesn’t mean caffeine-free. According to FDA regulations, coffee must have 97% of its original caffeine removed in order to be labeled as decaffeinated. Drink 5-10 cups of decaf a day and you’ll likely be consuming the equivalent of a cup or two of regular coffee in terms of caffeine content.
  • While a cup of regular coffee usually contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, a 2007 Consumer Reports test of 36 popular brands found some decaf cups that still packed in more than 20 milligrams of caffeine. But the difference in a cup of brewed coffee is truly minimal.
  • A minority brew: According to the National Coffee Association, just 10% of coffee drinkers in the U.S. opt for decaf. At a coffee house or cafe, the percent can be almost double.
  •  
    Here are more decaf coffee facts.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fall Salad, Fall Cheese Course

    fall-salad-brussels-squash-sweetgreen

    Pear & Endive Salad

    [1] Make a fall salad with brussels sprouts, squash, and seasonal garnishes (photo courtesy Sweetgreen). [2] Another popular fall combination: endive, pear and maple-candied walnuts (photo courtesy Barrel and Ashes).

     

    With each change season, change your perspective on food. Look for seasonal ingredients in everything from salad ingredients to beer styles.

    For inspiration, check the websites of salad cafes like Fresh & Co., Just Salad and Sweetgreen

    At Just Salad, the fall menu includes:

  • Autumn Caesar: romaine, grilled chicken, bartlett pears, shaved parmesan, dried cranberries and multigrain croutons.
  • Sweet Mama: baby spinach, apples, sharp cheddar, turkey bacon and honey maple walnuts.
  • Thanksgiving Salad: turkey, roasted green beans, baby spinach, roasted acorn squash, dried cranberries, almonds.
  •  
    At Sweetgreen, a fall highlight is:

  • Apples, Pears + Organic Cheddar Salad: mesclun, shredded kale, apples, pears, cheddar, pecans, basil and balsamic vinaigrette.
  •  
    Other favorite fall ingredients:

  • Beets, raw or roasted
  • Roasted sweet potato slices (slice, then roast)
  •  
    RECIPE: FALL SALAD WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS & SQUASH

    Here’s a another yummy idea from Sweetgreen: the Chicken + Brussels salad with roasted brussels sprouts, chopped romaine, mesclun, roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and cranberry vinaigrette.

    You can serve it with or without the protein, the former as a lunch salad, the latter a side salad with dinner.

    We didn’t have cranberry vinegar, so used pear balsamic vinegar—another fall touch (so is fig balsamic vinegar).
     
    Ingredients

  • Your favorite greens
  • Grilled or roasted Brussels sprouts and acorn/butternut squash
  • Apple, diced (substitute grapes)
  • Grilled sliced chicken or other protein
  • Other ingredients: beets, mushrooms
  • Optional garnish(es): dried cranberries/cherries/raisins, nuts and/or seeds, shaved Parmesan, toasted nuts
  •  

    FLAVORED BALSAMIC VINEGAR

    If you like balsamic vinegar, try flavored balsamics. They add sweetness without significant calories.

    Here’s a sampler of organic balsamic vinegars in fig, pear, pomegranate and raspberry; and another sampler of apple cinnamon, blood orange, mango and pomegranate balsamics (not organic).

     

    FALL CHEESE COURSE

    Turn your salad course into a cheese course with the addition of…cheese. In France, a salad with cheese is a popular follow-up to the main dish.

    This one, from the Oyster Club in Mystic, Connecticut, is perfect for fall, with a delicious balance of flavors. Bloomy-rinded cheeses can have a subtle mushroomy undertone: perfect for fall.

    Just roast the vegetables, toast the nuts, make the vinaigrette (olive oil and lime juice) and assemble the plate (see photo #3).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • Bloomy rind cheese* (brie, camembert, triple-crème, some chevrès)
  • Diced roasted beets or squash
  • Artisan honey, drizzled over the beets/squash
  • Toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 2 cups mâche (lamb’s lettuce), mesclun or other interesting salad
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • Optional garnish: lime salt (purchased or made with recipe below)
  •  
    If you’re not a fan of bloomy rind cheeses, any hearty cheese is fall-appropriate: aged cheddar, blue cheeses, Comte, real Swiss cheeses, washed rind cheeses.

    Much as we love them, leave the fresh goat cheeses for spring.

    Check out the different types of cheeses in our Cheese Glossary.
     
    __________________________
    *Bloomy rind cheeses have soft, often fuzzy, edible rinds that are a result of the introduction of molds like Penicillium candidum. They are known for the white color and mushroomy flavor of the rind. The two best-known examples are Brie, Camembert and triple-crèmes. Bloomy rind cheeses are generally aged for two weeks, which produces a mild flavor and subtle aroma.

    With a triple crème, cream is added to the milk to create the richest, most buttery group of cheeses. Triple crèmes are a type of bloomy rind cheese and also are aged about two weeks. In order to qualify as a triple-créme, the cheeses must have more than 72% butterfat content, which provides the smooth texture. As with other cheeses that have short aging periods, the flavors are mild and the aromas are subtle. Examples include Brillat-Savarin, Explorateur and St. André. This group of cheeses pairs well with Champagne and other sparkling wines.
    _______________________
     
    RECIPE: LIME SEA SALT

    It’s easy to make flavored sea salt at home. This recipe is from TheThingsILove.com.

    While you can buy lime sea salt, it lacks the fresh lime zest which adds a punch of flavor and color.

    If it seems like too much work for just a sprinkle: Lime sea salt is a terrific Margarita glass rimmer, a real step up!
     
    Ingredients

  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup coarse sea salt
  •  

    Fall Cheese Course

    bloomy-cheese-board-murrays-230

    Lime Sea Salt Recipe

    [3] A fall cheese plate (photo courtesy Oyster Club). [4] Bloomy-rind cheeses (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese). [5] Lime sea salt (photo courtesy TheseThingsILove.com).

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 200°F. Combine the sea salt, lime juice and zest in a small bowl Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

    2. BAKE for 15-20 minutes, until the salt looks dry but not brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

    3. BREAK up any clumps that may have formed. Store in an airtight container.

    4. SPRINKLE a bit on the plate as a colorful element.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Cooking With Grapes

    Roast Chicken With Grapes

    Asian Chicken Salad

    Red Flame Grapes

    [1] Roast chicken with grapes, recipe below (photos #1 and #3 courtesy Good Eggs). [2] Asian chicken salad with grapes, showing how a pop of color from red or purple grapes would have given the dish more eye appeal (photo courtesy California Table Grape Commission). [3]Use red grapes to add color, green grapes to pop in darker dishes, or a mix.

     

    Grape season is here! An easy and nutritious snack, grapes are also popular in fruit and salads.

    But how about savory dishes? Versatile grapes fit easily into everything from roast duck to risotto.

    In addition to snacking, cheese, and fruit kabobs, consider:

  • Adding to chicken (we love grapes and duck), pork, seafood (great with scallops!)
  • Crostini (try goat cheese, ricotta or a blue cheese spread* topped with grapes
  • Garnish, with just about anything
  • Grain salad, wild rice, risotto
  • Grape salsa
  • Green salad (a classic is endive, toasted walnuts and grapes in a sherry vinaigrette)
  • Omelets, especially cheese omelets
  • Sandwiches, sliced onto everything from grilled cheese to chicken salad to bagels and cream cheese

  • Pickled as a garnish, side or snack (here’s how to pickle)
  • Sides (see recipe below)
  • More ways to use grapes
  •  
    For Dessert

  • Grape sorbet or granita (add fresh basil, mint or rosemary)(recipe)
  • Grape tartlets (so easy!)
  •  
    For Cocktails

  • Frozen Grape Margarita (recipe)
     
    RECIPE #1: BAKED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS WITH GRAPES & SHALLOTS

    This recipe is courtesy of Good Eggs, a premium grocer in San Francisco, which says:

    This is probably the easiest centerpiece-worthy dish you’ll ever make. Without any effort on your part, you’ll fry potatoes, make a sauce, and cook chicken—all in the same pan.
     
    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 4 chicken drumsticks (substitute thighs or other parts)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups kalamata olives
  • 2 cups loose red grapes
  • 4 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼” thick medallions
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Salt and pepper each side of the chicken and set aside.

    2. ADD 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to the bottom of a deep rectangular roasting dish; swirl it to lightly coat the bottom of the dish. Arrange the potatoes in a layer, slightly overlapping just the edges. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt.

    3. TOSS the grapes, olives, shallots and rosemary in a bowl with a few pinches of salt. Pour over the potatoes and spread the grapes into a single layer.

    4. PLACE the chicken on top of the grapes, leaving a few inches of space between each piece of chicken.

    5. BAKE for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring the grape mixture occasionally. If anything starts to brown too much, cover the dish with foil. The chicken is done when you insert a knife and the juices run clear. Eat immediately—although this one is great the next day for lunch too …
     
    ________________
    *We use a terrific, super-thick and chunky blue cheese dressing from Kathryn’s Cottage. You can use another blue cheese dressing and mix it with regular or whipped cream cheese for the desired consistency, or make your own from scratch.

     

    RECIPE #2: PAN SAUCE WITH GRAPES

    Use this sauce with braised, pan-fried or roasted chicken, duck, fish, pork or scallops. Just deglaze the pan and add the grapes.
     
    Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (substitute basil, oregano, tarragon, thyme, sage, savory)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the cooked protein and add the grapes, wine and rosemary to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil, scraping the skillet to incorporate the fond (the browned bits that stick to the pan). Boil until syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes.

    2. ADD the chicken broth and any juices that have drained from the meat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half, another 3 to 4 minutes.

    3. REDUCE the heat to low and add the butter; swirl it in the pan until melted. It’s ready to serve, over or under the meat.
     
    RECIPE #3: ROASTED GRAPES AS A SIDE & DESSERT

    This tasty dish can be a side or topping with roasted or grilled fish, meat and poultry. Also use roasted grapes in fruit salad, as a dessert topping, or as the dessert itself, topped with a dab of mascarpone.

    You can also make an easy grape tart or tartlets.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 pound seedless red grapes, de-stemmed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons rum†, regular or dark spiced
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • Optional: mascarpone
  •  

    Grilled With With Grapes

    Grapes & Thyme

    [4] Use roasted or pickled grapes as a garnish for fish (photo courtesy California Table Grape Commission). [5] It’s easy to roast grapes. Just try not to eat them all before serving time! Photo courtesy Alexandra Cooks; here’s how she uses them on crostini).

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 475°F a rack in the center of the oven and heat.

    2. TOSS the grape clusters with the honey, the olive oil, zest and salt. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and roast, turning halfway through, until they collapse and are somewhat caramelized, about 15 minutes.

    4. SERVE the roasted grapes warm for mains, warm or room temperature for desserts. , with a dollop of the sweetened mascarpone.
     
    ________________
    †You can use another spirit that complements the protein. For dessert, consider a complementary liqueur (orange, raspberry, etc.).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Pancakes

    Bacon Corn Griddle Cakes

    Carrot Pancakes

    Flavor Flours Book

    [1] Bacon and corn griddle cakes from Recipe Girl—and here’s her recipe. [2] Carrot pancakes with salted yogurt, gluten free. Here’s the recipe from Jessica Koslow at Bon Appetite (photo Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott). [3] You don’t need to use wheat. Check out these flours (photo courtesy ).

     

    September 26th is National Pancake Day. Normally, we’d make our favorite: buttermilk pancakes topped with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and chopped dill.

    We’d love them with a topping caviar: We’ll have that daily when our ship comes in.

    But until then, we’re not highbrow: Another favorite is chocolate pancakes with chocolate chips, topped with bananas and sour cream.)

    Today’s tip is: Take a fresh look at pancakes.

    Cultures around the world eat pancakes, both sweet and savory. Some have them as a main dish, some enjoy them as street food.

    There are so many choices:
    From Danish aebleskiver to Russian blini and latkes in Europe, to Chinese scallion pancakes and Japanese okonomiya, filled with shredded cabbage and other choices from shrimp to vegetables.

    In Malaysia, apam balik—folded pancakes—are made with rice flour and stuffed with a sweet peanut filling.

    In Somalia, anjero is a fermented, crepe-like pan bread made from sorghum and corn flowers. It looks like a thin pancake and is topped with sugar or beef. In South Africa, pannekoeke look like tacos, folded over with a popular filling of cinnamon custard and streusel.

    The fold-over technique is also used in the cachapas of Colombia and Venezuela: corn pancakes folded over grated queso mano or mozarella, and grilled until melted.

    Click the links above for the recipes.

    Take a look at the different types of pancakes in our Pancake Glossary.

     
    SAVORY PANCAKE TEMPLATE: CREATE YOUR OWN

    1. SELECT a flour: buckwheat, chickpea, chestnut, coconut, corn, nut, oat, rice, sorghum, spelt, teff, wheat, whole grain, etc.

  • Explore: Here’s a terrific book on cooking and baking without wheat flour.
  • Mix the batter. Check online recipes to see if you need to alter proportions.
  •  
    2. ADD your favorite ingredients:

  • Proteins: bacon, cheese, ham, sausage (chicken, pork), roe, seafood
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, sage, thyme, etc.
  • Spices: cardamom, Chinese five spice, cinnamon/pumpkin pie spices, cumin, curry powder, garlic, ginger, pepper, etc.
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, dried fruits, stone fruits, tropical fruits, etc.
  • Vegetables: cabbage, carrot, corn, onion/green onion, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.
  •  
    3. PICK your toppings:

  • Dairy: butter or compound [flavored] butter, from jalapeño to strawberry; crème fraîche, mascarpone, sour cream, yogurt
  • Sweet: honey, syrup
  • Garnish of choice: Bacon, crumbled or grated cheese, toasted nuts
  •  
    4. FRY and serve.

     
    THE HISTORY OF PANCAKES

    We love this article from National Geographic, and recommend it as a short read on the history of pancakes.

    Archaeologists have discovered grains on 30,000-year-old grinding tools, suggesting that Stone Age man might have been eating grains mixed with water and cooked on a hot rock.

    While the result not have looked like the modern crepe, hotcake, or flapjack, the idea was the same: a flat cake, made from batter and fried.

    Ancient Greeks and Romans ate pancakes topped with honey, and a Greek reference mentions toppings of cheese and sesame as well.

    These foods were not called pancakes, but the first mention of “pancake” in an English dictionary dates to the 16th century: a cake made in a pan.

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Flat as a pancake” has been a catchphrase since at least 1611.

    For the rest of the pancake’s journey to modern times, head to National Geographic.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bake Biscuits On Sunday Mornings

    ✔ Biscuits with fresh dill: check.

    ✔ Smoked salmon with dilled cream cheese: check.

    ✔ Great brunch food: check.

    ? Homemade biscuits, warm from the oven: check?

    With all the good bread options available at retail, including refrigerated rolls biscuits, the art of the homemade-from-scratch biscuit is practiced less and less often.

    Why not make one Sunday a month Biscuit Sunday, rotating among favorites: baking powder biscuits, buttermilk biscuits, cheddar-chipotle biscuits, cream biscuits, ham biscuits, maple-bacon biscuits, rye biscuits, sausage rolls, sourdough-onion-sundried tomato biscuits, and so forth?

    You can find recipes for all of these at KingArthurFlour.com.

    It comes to us from Vital Choice, where it was provided by Kevin Lynch of Closet Cooking. Kevin says:

    “The dilled buttermilk biscuits came together quickly and filled my place with an amazing dilly aroma while baking. The biscuits are nice and light and go perfectly with the smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill and watercress filling.”

    RECIPE: DILL BISCUITS WITH SMOKED SALMON, CRESS & DILL SPREAD

    This recipe comes to us from Vital Choice, developed by Kevin Lynch of ClosetCooking.com.

    With their red-and-green accents, they also make a nice holiday biscuit.

    You can also make bite-size versions to serve with red, white or sparkling wine.

    Ingredients For 8 Biscuit Sandwiches

    For The Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, frozen and grated
  • 3 tablespoons dill (chopped)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see substitutes below)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 8 dill buttermilk biscuits (cut in half, see recipe below)
  • Optional: 8 tomato slices
  •    

    Smoked Salmon Biscuits

    Fresh Dill

    Smoked Nova Scotia Salmon

    1. Forget the bagel and smoked salmon: Bake biscuits instead (photo courtesy Kevin Lynch | Vital Choice). [2] Use fresh dill (photo courtesy Paper Chef). [3] Smoked Nova Scotia salmon from Zabar’s. Here’s the difference between smoked salmon and lox.

  • 1/2 pound smoked salmon (two 4-ounce packages or one-third of a 26-ounce side)
  • 8 sprigs watercress (substitute baby arugula or baby spinach)
  •  

    Cream Biscuits

    Ham & Smoked Gouda Biscuits

    Biscuits & Marmalade

    [1] Cream biscuits (here’s the recipe from King Arthur Flour). [2] Ham & Smoked Gouda Biscuits served with maple butter (here’s the recipe from the National Pork Board). [3] Baking powder biscuits and marmalade (photo courtesy iGourmet.com).

     

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the biscuits. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

    2. MIX the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Mix in the butter and toss until coated in flour. Add the dill and just enough buttermilk to form a sticky dough.

    3. PLACE the dough on a lightly floured surface and form a disc about 1 inch thick. Cut the biscuits from the dough and place on a baking sheet. Brush the melted butter on top of the biscuits.

    4. BAKE until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. While the biscuits bake…

    5. MAKE the filling. Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, dill and lemon zest in a bowl. When the biscuits are still warm but cool enough to work with…

    6. SPREAD the dill on both cut sides of the each biscuit. Assemble with smoked salmon, watercress and optional tomato slice in the the center.
     
    BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTE

    If you won’t use more than the cup required in this recipe, it may make sense to make your own.

    For 1 cup of buttermilk, substitute 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup.

    But first, here’s what else you can do with leftover buttermilk:

  • Drink it; it’s like liquid plain yogurt. Or add puréed frozen fruit; or make a smoothie.
  • Tenderize meat: Add it to the marinade.
  • Make buttermilk ice cream. Yum!
  • Try it on cereal. We often put yogurt on dry cereal instead of milk. This is the same idea.
  • Use in salad dressings and sauces.
  • Cook with it: Buttermilk can be substituted for whole milk or skim milk in many recipes, from baked goods and puddings to sauces, soups and breading.
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAD IN OUR
    BREAD GLOSSARY

    And while you’re at it…

    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BUTTER

    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF JAM & JELLY

     
    BISCUITS VS. ROLLS

    Biscuits and rolls are both made from flour, fat (butter, shortening, olive oil), liquid (buttermilk, cream, milk, water) and salt (some rolls do not contain fat).

    What’s the difference?

    Biscuits are risen with chemical leavening (baking powder); rolls are risen with yeast bread.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Oktoberfest Party Beer Tasting

    Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

    Soft Pretzels Recipe

    [1] Pumpkin ales and beers can be found from late September through year-end, “while supplies last” (photo courtesy Dogfish Head Brewery. [2] Bake a batch of soft pretzels to go with the beer (photo courtesy Taste Of Home).

     

    We received this beer menu from Empire City Casino, in the suburbs of New York City, part of their Oktoberfest celebration:

    1. Spaten Lager
    2. Spaten Oktoberfest
    3. Goose Island Oktoberfest
    4. Franziskaner Hefe-weisse
    5. Coney Island Freaktobefest
    6. New Belgian Cranberry Pumpkin
    7. Two Roads No Limits Hefeweizen
    8. Captain Lawrence Pumpkin
    9. Victory Fest Beer
    10. BitBurger Pilsner
    11. Bells Best Brown
    12. Southern Tier PUMPKING
    13. Warsteiner Oktoberfest
    14. Badass Apple Cider
    15. Atwater Blueberry Cobbler
    16. Dogfish Head Pumpkin Patch
     
    They’ll be served with German-inspired foods, from brats and soft pretzels to schnitzel hoagies.

    While we don’t gamble, we do drink craft beer; and we’ve had only one beer on the list. The solution was simple:
     
    HAVE AN OKTOBERFEST CRAFT BEER TASTING PARTY

  • Craft brews with fall themes offer many choices.
  • For cider devotees, have an “Oktoberfest” cider tasting with fall-themed ciders: Angry Orchard Crisp Apple, Hop‘n Mad Apple Ginger, Cinnful Apple; Woodchuck’s Just Like Apple Pie, and others.
  • For Halloween, focus on Halloween beers and ciders.
  •  
    While the original Oktoberfest in Munich runs for two weeks, through mid-October, you can hold a party anytime in October.

     
    Unlike the beers at the Munich Oktoberfest, which represent just six breweries, you can try all the craft beer you can find, along the themes of:

  • Fall beer styles: brown ale, Dunkelweizen, English pale ale, harvest ale*, Märzen/Oktoberfest beer
  • Fall flavors: cranberry ale and kriek, nutty brews, pumpkin beer and ale
  • Halloween beer: It’s all in the name and the label design: Black Death, Ichabod, The Fear, Ghost Stories, Howling Wolf, Krieky Bones, Wytchmaker, Zombie Dust, etc.
  •  
    ________________
    *Harvest ale is not a defined style of beer, but a common name for different beers brewed for fall harvest celebrations and general consumption.

     

    HOW TO PLAN THE OKTOBERFEST PARTY

    1. DETERMINE THE ATTENDEES. Then determine how much beer you need. If you’re not buying all the beer yourself assign a brand to each person. The easiest way to do this is to have attendees scout out options and let you know what they’d like to contribute.

    Provide juice glasses or 4-ounce disposable cups. The idea is to taste smaller amounts of 10 beers, not to drink 10 bottles of beer.

    2. DECIDE ON THE FOOD. Brats, sauerkraut, soft pretzels (recipe) and mustard will do the trick. If anyone asks if they can bring food, German potato salad, Blaukraut (red cabbage sauerkraut) or a dessert (see #4 below). Or, they can bake soft pretzels. Here’s more about Oktoberfest food.

    3. BUFFET OR SIT-DOWN? The choice is yours. Be sure to have soft drinks, a non-alcoholic cider or punch, or other alternative to keep blood alcohol levels down.

    4. DECIDE ON DESSERT. Easy-to-make or -find desserts include the Berliner (a jelly donut sprinkled with powdered sugar), Black Forest cake, carrot cake, cheesecake here’s a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake), Gugelhupf (Bundt cake—here’s an apple streusel Bundt cake recipe), Lebkuchen (spice cookies—gingerbread is fine, along with a gingerbread dip), Linzer cookies or torte, pfeffernüsse (spice cookies with black pepper), strudel, stollen (fruitcake) and our favorite German treat, chocolate-covered marzipan.

    5. PLAY GERMAN MUSIC. See if anyone already has Oktoberfest music (there’s plenty of it on Amazon). Polka music, which originated in Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic), will also work. If you’d prefer German rock, here are the Top 10 German rock bands.

    6. BONUS: Consider a small prize for the best German folk clothing: Lederhosen or a dirndl skirt and apron.

    Some German mustard or Weisswurst†, perhaps?
     
    ________________
    †Weisswurst is the famous Bavarian white sausage made from ground veal and pork.

     

    Freaktoberfest Pumpkin Ale

    Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic

    [3] Freaktoberfest Pumpkin Ale adds a layer of flavor with espresso beans (photo courtesy Coney Island Brewing Company). [4] You can even find cranberry beer, like this lambic from Samuel Adams (photo courtesy Boston Brewing Company).

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: 10-Minute Chorizo Tacos

    Chorizo Tacos Recipe

    White Corn Tortillas

    [1] Make these tortillas in 10 minutes or less. [2] Artisan white corn tortillas from Tortillas de la Tierra (both photos courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    Nothing planned for dinner?

    Guests drop by for a beer or glass of wine?

    Finicky kids?

    [Fill in] your own challenge?

    There’s a quick, crowd-pleasing solution: chorizo tacos.

    The folks at Good Eggs, who sent us this recipe, rejoice that “the ease and flavor of these simple chorizo numbers knocked our socks off.

    “Give it a try and you’ll be wondering if it can be Taco Tuesday every day.”

    It can be used at lunch and brunch, too.

    RECIPE: QUICK CHORIZO TORTILLAS

    Ingredients For 4 Tacos

  • 1 package chorizo sausage (pork or turkey)
  • 1 bunch green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 10 tortillas de la Tierra
  • Optional: whatever you have in the fridge*
  • Optional: lime wedges
  •  
    ________________
    *Avocado/guacamole, beans, crumbled/shredded cheese, plain or pickled jalapeños, radish, salsa, sour cream, tomatoes (chopped), etc.
    ________________
     
    For A Side Of Salad

  • 1 bag mixed greens or other salad ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • ½ lemon
  • Preparation

    1. REMOVE the casing from the sausages. Place the chorizo in a cast-iron pan and sauté over medium-high heat until fully cooked, 7-10 minutes.

    2. WARM the tortillas on both sides, directly over the flame on your stove. Keep the tortillas warm in a dish towel as you continue to heat the stack. Alternatively, wrap the stack in a slightly damp dish towel and microwave until warm.

    3. PLACE a scoop of chorizo on each tortilla, along with some cilantro and green onions. If serving any optional ingredients, place them on the table and let people dress their own.

    4. DRESS the salad: Toss the greens with olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, season to taste with salt and pepper.

     

    HOW TO FREEZE TORTILLAS

    Some brands of tortillas with preservatives have a long shelf life in the fridge. Others don’t.

    To freeze tortillas, stack them with parchment or wax paper separating each tortilla, and place in a freezer bag with the air squeezed out. Then you can remove them one by one, as you need them, without tearing.

    If you typically use two or four tortillas at a time, place the parchment at that interval.

    The tortillas will keep for six to eight months beyond their “best by” date.

    Parchment separation is also advisable to hedge against tearing if you’re keeping tortillas in the fridge.
     
    HOW TO THAW & WARM FROZEN TORTILLAS

    Quick Thawing Techniques

  • Stove Burners: With electric or induction burners, place the tortillas directly on the burners and flip them with tongs. For a gas burner, hold the tortilla over the flame with tongs.
  • Microwave: Wrap in a kitchen towel (if the tortillas have started to dry out, use a damp towel. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds, depending on how many tortillas you are heating. We use a rubber tortilla warmer—easy to store and great for microwaving any food.
  • Steamer: Wrap the tortillas in a kitchen towel and steam for a few minutes. They will stay hot if kept inside the towel.
  • Stovetop: Heat the tortillas in a pan, adding in a bit of water if you want to soften them.
  • Toaster Oven or Oven: Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven.
  •  
    Slow Thawing

  • Slow: Defrost on the counter overnight.
  • Slower: Defrost in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours.
  •  
    NOTE: The towel or foil you wrap the tortillas in continues to keep them warm after they leave the heat source. Bring the tortillas to the table in the wrap.
     
    WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE QUICK HOT MEALS?

    Let us know!

     

    Freezing Tortillas

    Heating Tortillas

    Handmade Corn Tortillas

    [3] To freeze, stack the tortillas in a freezer bag with parchment paper (photo courtesy Americas Test Kitchen Feed). [4] Heat frozen or fresh tortillas over the burner (photo courtesy Wonder How To). [5] Look for artisan tortillas: so delicious, they’re worth the higher price (photo courtesy Hot Bread Kitchen).

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Plan A Dinner With Gujeolpan

    Gujeolpan

    Gujeolpan Platter

    Gujeolpan Pancake

    [1] Classic gujeolpan in a nine-sectioned octagonal plate (photo Jamie Frater | Wikipedia). [2] A beautiful non-traditional presentation at Siwhadam restaurant in Seoul. [3] Ingredients in the pancake (photo courtesy TheBeauti4.Blogspot.com).

     

    For a first course or a main dish, pass the gujeolpan.

    The what?

    In Korea, gujeolpan (gu-JOLP-an) is the name of a sectioned serving plate that holds nine different foods: eight delicacies and a stack of crêpe-like wheat pancakes (jeon)in the center, used as wraps. The shape that purportedly resembles a flower.

    Gu is Korean for nine, jeol is selection and pan is the plate. The idea is to present foods that represent different foods artistically: different textures and colors. Foods are separated by color and ingredients, and comprise various preparations of mushrooms, seasoned vegetables (bean sprouts, carrots, leeks, radishes, etc.).

    Today, it’s a special-occasion dish, served at banquets and weddings, and available at restaurants that specialize in it.
     
    HISTORY OF GUJEOLPAN

    An elaborate presentation, gujeolpan is one of the most beautiful centerpiece Korean dishes, colorful and aesthetically appealing. It was once available only to nobility. Today you can have it at Korean restaurants that specialize in ancient foods (and where it can be quite pricey), or make a version of it at home with modern recipes.

    The octagonal plate of yore is still used to present them; although these days any shape of platter or unsectioned dish can be used. The traditional ebony covered box can be replaced with a plastic version. There are also sectioned metal boxes, and ceramic or glass plates with depressions for the food.

    Gujeolpan dates back at least to the 14th century, and has become closely associated with the Joseon kingdom that lasted from 1392 to 1897 (when the country was officially renamed the Korean Empire).

    The plate can be quite elaborate, with a carvings, gold or brass embellishments and (for the very wealthy) gem encrustations.

    But you can create your own, and have fun with it as an appetizer, first course or light dinner.

    Might we add: It’s also a better-for-you, lower-calorie dish of fun?
     
    HOW TO EAT GUJEOLPAN

    As with Peking duck and other pancake-based Asian dishes, each person takes a pancake and fills it with the ingredients of choice. The ingredients are drizzled with sauce or other condiment, then rolled and eaten.

     

    HOW TO MAKE GUJEOLPAN

    If you have an Asian market, head there first to see what’s available. Otherwise, your produce store or supermarket will be a source of inspiration.

    But you can use anything you like. It’s very easy to pickle vegetables, for example; and you need only one meat and one fish.

    Create a balance of colors: brown, green, red, white, yellow. Consider:

  • Baby spinach, steamed and dressed with a bit of sesame oil
  • Bay scallops, marinated
  • Bean sprouts
  • Jeon (see note below)
  • Meat: lamb, pork, poultry, tofu, grilled or teriyaki, julienned
  • Mushrooms, marinated (we especially like enokoi and chanterelles)
  • Raw fish, thinly-sliced or cubed (fluke, salmon, tuna)
  • Salmon roe (ikura)
  • Seafood, raw (clams) or lightly cooked (crab, shrimp, squid, etc.)
  • Shredded or julienned carrots, cucumber, daikon/radish, scallions, seasonal (e.g. asparagus, ramps, sea beans), zucchini
  • Pickled cocktail onions, garlic, green beans or haricots verts (first cut to bite size)
  •  
    Non-Traditional Items

  • Baby arugula or watercress
  • European vegetables: endive, fennel, squash, etc.
  • Mayo-bound salads: crab, egg, potato, tuna, etc. (small dice)
  • Microgreens
  • Grilled or roasted vegetables
  • Sweet gherkins
  • Tartare: beef, salmon, tuna
  • Et cetera, et cetera and so forth
  •  
    Plus

  • Condiments on the side, e.g. chili paste, herb mayonnaise, horseradish, shredded basil, etc.
  • Korean mushroom and/or mustard sauces (recipes), soy sauce with vinegar
  •  

    Gujeolpan Plate

    Guljeopan Recipe

    Gujeolpan Recipe

    [4] A modern gujeolpan plate in metal with removable sections (photo courtesy Korea.net). [5] This plate has less than nine sections, but it works (photo courtesy Jungsik | Seoul). Or, repurpose a Passover plate. [6] You can use any plate (photo courtesy MarooDining.com.au).

     
    You can serve extra dishes, and fusion dishes; for example, beets, Japanese kimchi or gourmet sauerkraut (we’re crazy about Farmhouse Culture, which makes sauerkraut in Classic Caraway, Garlic Dill, Horseradish Leek, Smoked Jalapeño and Spicy Wakame Ginger).

    You can use a substitute for the pancakes (see next section).

    The biggest challenge is knife skills: slicing the ingredients thinly. On the other hand, this is an opportunity to practice your knife skills.

    Don’t forget the chopsticks!
     
    MAKING THE PANCAKES

    Here’s a recipe for traditional gujeolpan pancakes.

    You can also substitute:

  • Crêpes
  • Mu shu pancakes (recipe)
  • Nori (toasted seaweed)
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Other flexible wrap
  •   

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