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Archive for Tip Of The Day

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.
  •  
    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.
  •   

    Comments

    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.
  •  

    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.
  •  
    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.
  •  

    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.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hot Dog Toppings ~ What’s On Your Dog?

    Americans eat more hot dogs on July 4th than any other day of the year: 150 million of them.

    In previous years we’ve done articles about regional hot dog toppings toppings, like these and these; and gourmet hot dog toppings such as bruschetta and fresh basil leaves, caramelized onions, crumbled blue cheese, corn relish and fresh cilantro, pickled jalapeños and slaw, and fruit salsa (mango, peach, pineapple).

    “Don’t be fooled,” says Restaurant-Hospitality.com. “A closer look at which toppings customers specify when they purchase hot dogs indicates that most stick with old standbys, even when more exotic options can readily be had.”

    As an example, JJ’s Red Hots of Charlotte, North Carolina, offers its toppings list in order of customer preference.
     
    TOP 10* HOT DOG TOPPINGS

    1. Mustard
    2. Onions
    3. Chili
    4. Slaw
    5. Pimento cheese
    6. Relish/pickles
    7. Bacon
    8. Sauerkraut
    9. Salsa
    10. Caramelized onions

    *There are regional preferences, of course: Pimento cheese is popular spread in the South; and ketchup, which many Americans prefer to mustard on their dogs, is not on their Top 10 list!

       

    jjs-red-hots-group-230

    The choice of toppings at JJ’s Red Hots. Photo courtesy JJ’s | Charlotte.

     

    Our own favorite toppings are our parents’ favorites, what Mom served in our house (and from our family’s favorite hot dog stand, long gone): sauerkraut and green pickle relish with grainy mustard. But give us a gourmet dog with bacon and blue cheese and we’ll have seconds.

    There is a proper order to topping a hot dog, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council. Condiments should be applied in the following order and always on top of the dog, not between the dog and the bun:

  • Wet condiments like mustard and chili are applied first.
  • Chunky condiments like relish, onions and sauerkraut, are next.
  • Shredded cheese.
  • Spices, like chili flakes, celery salt or pepper.
  •  

    chicago-hot-dog-kindredrestaurant-230

    A Chicago-style hot dog: an all-beef dog on a
    steamed poppyseed bun, with toppings added in this order: yellow mustard, sweet green pickle relish, onion, tomato wedges, pickle spear, sport peppers and celery salt. Photo courtesy Kindred Restaurant | Davidson, North Carolina
    , where they add a side of salad.

     

    MORE HOT DOG IDEAS

  • Crescent-wrapped hot dogs recipe and an on a stick variation.
  • Italian hot dogs: marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pesto on turkey franks recipe.
  • Bacon cheese dogs recipe.
  •  
    HOT DOG TRIVIA

    According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council:

  • An estimated seven billion hot dogs are eaten by Americans between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • Americans consume an estimated 20 billion hot dogs a year, more than twice the retail sales figures (and about 70 hot dogs per person). This includes dogs purchased from street vendors, at ballparks, carnivals and other venues.
  • Hot dogs are served in 95 percent of homes in the United States.
  • Each year, Americans eat an average of 60 hot dogs per capita.
  • Miller Park in Milwaukee is the only Major League ball park in which sausages outsell hot dogs. Check out The Beast, their “turducken” of hot dogs.
  • Ball park hot dog vendors need to be strong. A fully loaded bin weights approximately 40 pounds, and vendors typically walk 4 to 5 miles per game, up and down steps. They work are paid on commission plus tips.
  • “Nobody, I mean nobody, puts ketchup on a hot dog” is a phrase less famous than “Go ahead, make my day.” But Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry said them both (the former in “Sudden Impact”).
  • Glamour queen Marlene Deitrich’s preferred meal was hot dogs and Champagne.
  • Visitors can purchase hot dogs at the Vatican Snack Bar.
  •  
    HOT DOG FACTS & TRIVIA

    Take our hot dog trivia quiz.

    Here’s how hot dogs are made (video).

    The history of hot dogs, including how the frankfurter became the hot dog.

    Why are hot dogs sold in packs of eight, while hot dog rolls are sold in 10-packs? The mystery revealed.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit In A Green Salad

    Enjoy the summer’s fruit bounty straight, in fruit salads, yogurt, pies, ice cream, smoothies and … green salad.

    Strawberries or watermelon salad plus greens and feta or goat cheese are time-honored additions to a green salad.

    But you can create your own recipe. For a July 4th salad, how about a red, white and blue green salad with raspberries, blueberries and diced applies? Instead of the apples, use feta or goat cheese for the white component.

    The salad in the photo, from Souplantation, combines:

  • Romaine
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Red onion
  • Caramelized walnuts
  • Raisins (you can substitute dried cherries or cranberries)
  • Sliced strawberries
  •  
    You can use a conventional vinaigrette recipe or a berry vinaigrette, adding a tablespoon of puréed berries to the recipe.

     

    strawberry-fields-salad-souplantation-230r

    Strawberry Fields forever? Well, for about 15 minutes until you’ve finished the salad. Photo courtesy Souplantation.

     
    For a creamy dressing, add a tablespoon of sour cream or Greek yogurt and combine in a blender.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Nut-Crusted Fish

    Coating fish with nuts and baking or sautéeing is an easy, foolproof way to prepare an elegant entrée. The nutty flavor of this simple but rich coating pairs beautifully with flaky white fish fillets.

    Nuts add even more protein to your dinner, as well as these health benefits.

    You can use any nut you like (pistachio is one of our favorites), along with a mild white fish like cod, flounder, halibut, sole or tilapia.

    There are more affordable white fish, too: Look for orange roughy, walleye pike or other species recommended by your fish monger. Fillets should be about 1/2 inch thick.
     
    TIPS

     

    almond-crusted-eatingwell-230

    Coat your favorite fish with your favorite nuts. Photo courtesy EatingWell.com.

  • If breadcrumbs are recommended, try panko.
  • Instead of a sauce, place the cooked fish on a bed of steamed spinach or other green, tossed with a light drizzle of garlic olive oil. Good, good for you, a win-win.
  • Trade the conventional lemon wedge for lime.
  • For a starch, try parsley new potatoes–the parsley will complement the fish.
  •  
    RECIPES

  • Almond & Lemon-Crusted White Fish (recipe)
  • Macadamia-Crusted Mahi-Mahi (recipe)
  • Nut Crusted Fried Fish (recipe)
  • Roasted Halibut With Walnut Crust (recipe)
  • Pecan-Crusted Fish Fillets (see recipe below)
  • Walnut & Lemon-Crusted Cod (recipe)
  •  

    pecan-crusted-fish-fillet-bettycrocker-230

    Pecan-crusted fish fillet. Photo courtesy Betty
    Crocker
    .

     

    RECIPE: PECAN-CRUSTED FISH

    Turn the catch of the day into delicious dinner in only 25 minutes, with this recipe from Betty Crocker. Hot pecan-crusted fish fillets are cooked easily on stove top and are served with lemon wedges.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (not ground)
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 pound delicate white fish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Garnish: lemon or lime wedges
  • Preparation

    1. MIX the pecans, bread crumbs and lemon peel in shallow bowl. Beat the egg and milk with a wire whisk or fork in another shallow bowl.

    2. SPRINKLE both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Coat the fish with the egg mixture, then coat well with the pecan mixture, pressing slightly into the fish.

    3. HEAT the oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat; add the fish. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook 6 to 10 minutes, turning once carefully with 2 pancake turners, until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is brown.

    4. SERVE with lemon or lime wedges.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ricotta For Lunch, Dinner & Dessert

    A couple of weeks ago we discussed the glories of ricotta for breakfast. Today, we make some recommendations for lunch and dinner.

    HORS D’OEUVRE

  • Ricotta dip for crudités, chips, pretzels. You can season and serve it as is, in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil; or blend it in the food processor, with or without fresh herbs (we like chives or dill). You can also blend it with plain yogurt.
  • Ricotta sandwich bites: Grill slices of summer squash or zucchini and fill with fresh ricotta, seasoned to taste.
  • Ricotta spread: Season and serve with crostini or fresh baguette slices. Seasonings include salt and pepper, plus anything you like from garlic to heat (chili flakes, minced jalapeño) to fresh herbs and lemon zest. Look on your spice shelf for inspiration. Here’s how we topped ricotta crostini with green peas.
  •  
    SALADS & SIDES

  • Topping: Use ricotta instead of yogurt to top grains, vegetables, baked potatoes. Garnish with a bit of fresh basil, chive, dill, parsley or other favorite herb. You can also purée the ricotta into a sauce.
  • Salad: Add a scoop of seasoned ricotta to a mixed green salad, instead of a round of goat cheese.
  • Radish salad: Make a first course salad of radishes and sugar snap peas, topped with ricotta and fresh-ground pepper.
  •    

    ricotta-honey-davantichicago-230

    Ricotta spread with honeycomb and toasts. Photo courtesy Davanti | Chicago.

     

    MAINS

  • Casserole: Check recipes for the type of casserole you’d like to make.
  • Pasta: Make ricotta gnudi or ravioli, stuff shells, layer lasagna or top cooked pasta (tossed with a bit of butter or olive oil) with a mound of ricotta, seasoned and garnished with snipped herbs, lemon zest, peas or snap peas.
  • Savory sauce: Purée ricotta with peas, spinach or other vegetable. Place a layer of sauce on the plate before adding the protein.
  •  

    radish-ricotta-oxandson-230

    Ricotta salad, topped with sliced radishes, microgreens and a drizzle of basil olive oil. Photo courtesy Ox & Son | Santa Monica.

     

    DESSERTS

  • Baked ricotta: Mix it with berries before or after baking, or serve it plain with a drizzle of honey.
  • Berry topper: Instead of whipped cream, use ricotta. We sweeten it lightly and add cinnamon or vanilla; but you can also process it until smooth and use it as a sauce.
  • Dessert cheese: Cheese doesn’t have to be sliceable to be on your cheese plate. Serve a bowl of ricotta with customizable accompaniments, like dried and fresh fruits and nuts, honey, jam, Almondina cookies, date nut bread or toasted raisin bread.
  • Ricotta cheesecake!
  • Pudding: Make “cannoli pudding” by sweetening the ricotta and addding a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla. Top with mini chocolate chips, or serve with berries and/or cookies. You can find other types of ricotta pudding (called budino di ricotta in Italy), some of which are soft like rice pudding and others baked into tarts. Here are recipes for vanilla and a soft chocolate versions.
  • Ricotta ice cream: Follow a recipe for cream cheese ice cream or mascarpone ice cream and substitute ricotta.
  •  

    MAKE YOUR OWN RICOTTA

    While you may not have leftover whey begging to be made into ricotta, you can make your own version from milk and cream. Sure, it’s easier to buy it ready-made; but if you like to cook, you’ll enjoy the experience. This recipe is adapted by one from Chef Anne Burrell, who makes it to serve as an appetizer spread with toast.

    And it’s easy! Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 10 minutes, draining time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finishing oil (we like to use flavored olive oil, like basil or rosemary
  • Bread: baguette, rustic loaf, semolina or other favorite
  • Optional: 1 clove garlic
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the milk, cream, vinegar and salt in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until curds begin to form.

    2. LINE a mesh strainer with several layers of damp cheesecloth. Gently pour the curds and whey through into the strainer and let drain for 15 minutes. Gather the cheesecloth together and gently squeeze some of the excess liquid from the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a serving dish and drizzle with big fat finishing oil.

    3. PREHEAT a grill or broiler. While the ricotta is draining, slice the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices. Toast the bread on the grill or in the broiler on both sides. Swipe the garlic 2 times on each piece of toast and drizzle each piece with finishing oil. Serve the ricotta, slightly warmed, with the grilled bread.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Wine & Sorbet For “Cocktails”

    Sorbet cocktails are one of our favorite summer desserts. You simply add scoops of sorbet to a glass—an opportunity to use your Champagne coupes, Margarita glasses, large-bowl wine glasses or large snifters.

    Then, pour in sparkling or still wine or white spirits (gin, tequila, vodka) and serve with a spoon. As the sorbet melts into the wine or spirit, it creates a special cocktail.

    MAKE IT A PARTY

    For a fun dessert, make pairing a dinner party activity, with each guest mixing and matching to find his/her favorites. There are no wrong pairings; it’s what your palate likes. It can Here are some matching ideas for starters:

    WITH CITRUS, MOST FRUIT & LIGHT FLAVOR SORBETS

  • Fruity White Wine (Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio)
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Ice Wine/Eiswein
  • Muscat/Moscato
  • Sauternes or Botrytised Semillon
  • Sauvignon Blanc From Australia or California
  • Sparkling Wine/Sparkling Saké
  •    

    Lemon sorbet

    Lemon sorbet with citron vodka and Limoncello, Photo © Auremar | Fotolia.

     

    WITH BERRY, CHOCOLATE & STRONGER SORBET FLAVORS

  • Amontillado Sherry
  • Fruity Red Wine (Beaujolais, California Syrah, Italian Dolcetto)
  • Late Harvest Riesling
  • Pineau de Charentes
  • Ruby Port
  • St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • Vin Santo
  •  

    Sherbet Freeze

    Strawberry sorbet and Prosecco. Photo © Lognetic | Fotolia,

     

    WITH ANY FLAVOR

  • Fruit Beer
  • Fruit Liqueur
  • Flavored Vodka
  • Gin
  • Hard Cider
  • Rosé
  • Tequila Blanco (Silver)
  •  
    MORE ON SORBET COCKTAILS

    Here are more tips:

  • Sorbet Cocktails
  • Dessert Cocktails
  •  

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Crumb Top Instead Of Pie Crust

    unbaked-pie-streusel-grandcentralbakery-230

    Use a yummy streusel topping instead of a dough top crust. Photo courtesy Grand Central Bakery | Portland.

     

    We’re not a huge pie crust pan. We prefer thicker, buttery, cookie-like tart crusts (here are the differences between pies and tarts).

    Personally, we’d rather have a cobbler, crisp or grunt (the difference).

    If it has to be a conventional pie, give us a crumb topping instead of a top crust. For thus, that means streusel—the same topping that goes on top of crumb cake.

    WHAT IS STREUSEL?

    Streusel is a crumb topping made from butter, flour and sugar. It can also contain chopped nuts or rolled oats. We think it’s easier than a conventional dough crust.

    Pronounced SHTROY-zul, the word derives from the German “streuen,” meaning to sprinkle or scatter.

    Streusel is used as a topping for a variety of pies, fruit crisps, cakes and pastries, most notably coffee cakes.

    A pie with a streusel topping is sometimes referred to as a “crumble pie.”

     

    RECIPE: EASY STREUSEL TOPPING

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. With a pastry blender or fork, cut in the butter until fine crumbs form.

    2. USE your fingers to squeeze the fine crumbs into large clumps (size as desired—we like large crumbs). Sprinkle over the top of the pie and bake per recipe instructions. That’s it!

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pavlova Dessert

    If you’ve ever seen meringue like shells in a bakery and wondered what they are: They’re Pavlovas.

    The Pavlova is one of the most popular desserts in Australia, where it’s commonly known as a Pav. The dessert is named after the legendary Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926 and 1929.

    Both countries claim to have invented this dessert, and have made it their national dessert. New Zealand may have the edge: Published recipes of fruit-filled meringue shells existed there without the name Pavlova.

    According to chef Herbert Sachse of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Australia, the Pavlova was born at the hotel 1935. According to hotel legend, it was named at a meeting at which Sachse presented the cake. Either the hotel licensee, the manager or Sachse remarked, “It is as light as Pavlova,” who had been a guest of the hotel during her 1929 tour.

    Years later, Sachse stated in an interview that he sought to improve the Meringue Cake recipe that he found in the Women’s Mirror Magazine, which was contributed by a New Zealand resident.*
     
    *Source: Linda Stradley, What’s Cooking America.

     

    pavlova-ciaoSamin-230

    A Pavlova and the ingredients to make it. Photo courtesy CiaoSamin.com.

     
    The Pavlova consists of a meringue base topped with fresh fruits. Most people buy the meringue shells at bakeries, but ambitious bakers can make their own (the recipe is below).

    In addition to individual meringue shells, the meringue can be shaped into one large family-style shell, or into cake layers that are alternated with fruit for a spectacular effect (photo below). This type of cake is also called a Swedish Midsummer Meringue Layer Cake. And the meringue is the same recipe used to make individual meringue cookies.

    Then, all you have to do is cut up your favorite fruits and add them to the shell. You can customize your Pavlova with:

  • Liqueur. If you want to exert more effort, you can marinate the fruits in wine or liqueur.
  • Topping. Add an optional topping: crème fraîche, mascarpone, raspberry purée, whipped cream.
  • Garnish. Garnish with chocolate curls or candied orange peel, or something as simple as a mint leaf.
  •  
    While the desert is light and airy for summer, and the red, white and blue colors are spot-on for July 4th. The toppings can be tailored to every season:

  • Fall: Assorted nuts (raw or candied), dried fruits garnish on the plate.
  • Christmas: Brandied fruits, candied fruits, crushed peppermint plate garnish.
  • Valentine’s Day: Strawberries and cream, candied rose petals plate garnish.
  • Spring: Apricots, nectarines, figs; edible flowers to garnish.
  • Summer: Seasonal fruits garnished with shaved coconut, lemon mint, lemon verbena or spearmint.
  • Anytime: Mousse or Strawberries Romanoff.
  •  
    RECIPE: PAVLOVA MERINGUE SHELL

    This recipe (the first photo, above) is courtesy Samin Nosrat of CiaoSamin.com, via Good Eggs. She has many wonderful recipes. This one has a touch of Indian flavor: rosewater, rose petals and cardamom. If you don’t have those ingredients, we’ve provided substitutions in the preparation steps.

    Samin serves the Pavlova with fresh-brewed mint tea: Steep fresh mint leaves in boiling water.

     

    pavlova-swedish-midsummer-meringue-cake-http-_www.thedomesticfront.com_swedish-midsummer-strawberry-meringue-layer-cake_230

    A Pavlova Cake is called a Swedish Midsummer Cake in—you guessed it— Sweden. Here’s the recipe. Add blueberries for a July 4th red, white and blue theme. Photo courtesy Kate of TheDomesticFront.com.

     

    Ingredients For The Meringue

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 ounces (about 3) large egg whites at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of saffron, ground in a mortar and pestle and dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water, cooled (substitute: water only)
  •  
    Ingredients For The Topping

  • 1 cup each sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, kept separate
  • 4 tablespoons rosewater
  • Dried rose petals (you can use rosebud tea) for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Preparation

    1. PLACE the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.

    2. WHIP the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in the large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Start on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

    3. INCREASE the speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the saffron tea. Increase the speed a bit and whip until the meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.

    4. SPOON the meringue into an 9-by-6-inch oval on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once the meringue is baked.

    5. PLACE the baking sheet in the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 225°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp (dry to the touch on the outside) and white (not tan-colored or cracked). The interior should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on the meringue at least once during the baking time. If it appears to be taking on color or cracking, reduce the temperature 25 degrees and turn the pan around.

    6. GENTLY LIFT the meringue from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. It will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to a week, barring any humidity. While the meringue is baking…

    7. MACERATE the berries. In separate dishes, macerate each type of berry for at least 30 minutes with 1 tablespoon of rosewater (substitute orange liqueur or plain water) and 1 tablespoon sugar. This draws out their juices.

    8. ADD the cardamom (substitute: 1 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract or orange liqueur) and 1/4 cup sugar to the cream and whip to soft peaks.

    9. ASSEMBLE: Place the meringue on a serving dish and spoon in the whipped cream. Spoon the juicy berries atop the cream. Top with crushed dried rose petals (substitute: chopped pistachio nuts or mint leaf). Serve with fresh mint tea.

    Leave off the whipped cream and you have a cholesterol-free dessert with far fewer calories than a cake.
     
    WHAT IF THE COOKIE CRUMBLES?

    Don’t despair if your meringue cracks. If you can’t use it/them for a shell, simply create a “parfait” in a sundae dish or bowl, along with the berries and whipped cream.

    Or, use the same ingredients create a Pavlova version of an English Trifle.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cedar Paper Grilling Wraps

    Cedar-Wrapped-Halibut-Fire&Flavor-230r

    Halibut wrapped in cedar grilling paper, for
    cooking on the stove top. It’s served with
    citrus pesto. Here’s the recipe. Photo
    courtesy Fire & Flavor.

     

    No grill? If you want an infusion of cedar flavor in your food, that’s no problem. Instead of a grill with cedar chips, get some cedar grilling papers.

    Made from a very thin, pliable slice of cedar, cedar grilling papers infuse a subtle but clear flavor while keeping food moist and tender.

    Wrap your favorite seafood, meats, vegetables, and fruits in Fire & Flavor’s All Natural Western Red Cedar Papers. One hundred percent all-natural western red cedar was chosen because it provides the best flavor and compliments the widest variety of foods.

    You can use the grilling papers indoors, in the oven, stove-top skillet or pannini press; or outdoors on the grill without the need for wood chips.

    A package of eight single-use grilling papers, 6″ x 7.25″, and 8 cotton strings for tying is $8.99 at FireAndFlavor.com.

    Cedar papers are easy to use and can be prepared in four easy steps: soak, heat, smoke, eat.

     
    FOUR EASY STEPS

    1. Soak
    Soak the grilling papers in a shallow dish for 10 minutes. Use a small bottle to weight down the papers to keep them fully submerged. Cedar grill papers only need to be soaked long enough to become pliable, but it’s fine to soak for several hours before use. You can also soak in tequila, wine and other liquids—details below.
     
    2. Heat
    Heat a grill, oven or skillet to 400°F or medium-high heat. Place the food face down in the center of a soaked cedar paper, parallel to the grain of the wood. Fold the paper’s edges toward each other until they overlap. Tie the paper together with cotton string (included with the papers) or butcher’s twine; or place them seam side down on the grill grate, skillet or pan.

  • Place citrus slices or other flavor infusions below the fillets before wrapping. This will push more of their flavor into the food above them.
  •  
    3. Smoke
    Smoke the wrapped food directly on the grill grates or in the grill pan. Cook fish for 3-4 minutes per side until food is done to your liking (close the lid if using a grill). During cooking, the cedar papers will blacken. This makes for great presentation.

  • Cedar paper can withstand high heat because the cooking times are usually short: 6-8 ounce chicken fillets can be cooked in less than 10 minutes.
  • Food will continue to conce removed from grill, so remove it from the heat a minute or two early. If unsure about the cook time, use recipe-suggested cook times.
  •  
    4. Eat
    Place the packets on plates or a platter, bring to the table and enjoy. Cedar wrapped foods will stay warm and moist for long periods of time.

  • Drizzle flavored oils, vinegars, or citrus juice on the foods right after unwrapping.
  •  

    PILING ON THE FLAVOR

    You can soak the papers in any liquid you like. Experiment with these soaking ideas from the Fire & Flavor Test Kitchen, and dream up your own.

  • Soak the papers in tequila. Then wrap shrimp, crab or lobster with some mango salsa. The acid of tequila and sweetness of the salsa pair perfectly.
  • Soak the papers in white wine. The subtle flavor of the fish will be enhanced with cedar notes. Wrap any white fish with asparagus or your favorite green veggie.
  • Soak the papers in red wine. Then wrap more flavorful fish like salmon, sea bass or red snapper with sliced lemon and thyme. The bold flavor of these fish withstands the influence of lemon and red wine.
  • Soak the papers in saké. Think beyond fish and meat to your favorite vegetables. Wrap mushrooms with goat cheese and your favorite spices.
  • Soak the papers in juice. Citrus juices like orange or lime add refreshing flavors. Wrap a spiced salmon fillet with salsa in “juiced” papers.
  •  

    salmon-cedar-paper-230

    Give cedar grilling paper as gifts to friends who cook. Photo courtesy Fire & Flavor.

     

    MORE COOKING TIPS

  • Nonstick Spray. Spray cedar papers with non stick spray before wrapping to prevent foods from sticking to the papers as they dry.
  • Indoor Grilling. Grill pans and panini presses with deep grill grooves allow for the best air circulation.
  • Best Flavor. Before closing the wrap, top fish with julienned vegetables and a spiced butter or rub. As the fish cooks, the flavors meld together with the smokey cedar.
  •   

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