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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Prep Eggs The Night Before To Save Time

Scrambled Eggs In Tortilla Cups

Pepperjack Cheese

Top: Mexican Scrambled Eggs In Tortilla Cups (photo Land O’Lakes). Bottom: Add more heat with Pepperjack cheese (photo Paoli Cheese).

 

We often make a vegetable scramble for breakfast, to a proportion of half egg, half veggie. Bell peppers, mushrooms and onions are our basic mix, along with fresh herbs and halved cherry tomatoes.

It’s easy to prep the night before. You can dice the vegetables and beat the eggs in just a few minutes. If you want to add cheese, you can dice, grate or shred it the night before, too.

Then, while the coffee brews, heat the pan, combine the ingredients, and voilà.

When we have extra time, we make something more elaborate, like these Mexican-inspired scrambled eggs in tortilla cups—a crowd pleaser.

RECIPE: MEXICAN SCRAMBLED EGGS IN TORTILLA CUPS

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 seven-to-eight-inch tortillas (try whole wheat!)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 8 eggs (or 2 cups/16 ounces egg substitute)*
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar, Jack or Pepperjack† cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
  • Optional: minced jalapeño or chili flakes to taste
  • Optional garnish: 1/4 cup sour cream (or substitute nonfat Greek yogurt)
  • Optional garnish: 4 teaspoons salsa
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • Optional: fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 400°F. Place four 6-ounce custard cups upside down on a cookie sheet. Lightly spray both sides of the tortillas with nonstick cooking spray. Place the tortillas over the custard cups, pressing down lightly to shape.

    2. BAKE 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tortillas are light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place the cups upright on a cooling rack. Meanwhile…

    3. SPRAY a 10-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Scramble the eggs with the vegetables and seasonings and cook over medium heat. As the eggs begin to set, sprinkle on the cheese. Alternatively, you can sprinkle on the cheese after the eggs are in the tortilla cups. Cook until the eggs are set but still moist.

    4. PLACE the tortilla cups on plates and fill them with the eggs. Top each with sour cream and salsa. Sprinkle with green onions and the herbs.
     
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    *Most recipes assume large eggs; it is the size of the egg that makes the difference: 2 medium eggs =1/3 cup, 2 large eggs = ½ cup, 3 medium eggs + ½ cup, 3 large eggs = 2/3 cup. 4 large eggs = 1 cup.

    †If you use Pepperjack, you don’t need the added chiles.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Jell-O Mold Is A Mason Jar

    Red White & Blue Jell-O

    Red, White & Blue Jell-O Squares

    Top: Red, white and blue Jell-O mold in Mason jars (photo Victoria Belanger | eHow). Bottom: No spoon is needed with these Jell-O fingers. They’re gummy, like Jell-O shots without alcohol. Here’s the recipe from CommunityTable.Parade.com.

     

    Call them Ball Jars, Kerr Jars or Mason Jars, these 19th century inventions enabled the preserving foods for years, while avoiding spoilage and the growth of harmful bacteria.

    The original “canning” took place in hermetically sealed glass jars, invented to carry food for Napoleon’s army. Here’s the history of canning and the jars.

    The invention created an opportunity for civilians, too: to “put up” foods at harvest time to eat during the winter. But then came tin cans, and

    The growth of the artisan foods movement, small producers added charm to their jams and dilly beans by packaging them in Mason jars.

    Today, we’re presenting an idea adapted from Victoria Belanger. You can see step-by-step photos on eHow.com.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE JELL-O FOR MEMORIAL DAY & JULY 4TH

    Ingredients For 6 Servings
     
    For The Red Layer

  • 1 package ((3 ounces) strawberry Jell-O
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  •  
    For The White Layer

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream, liquefied
  •  
    For The Blue Layer

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups blueberries
  •  
    Plus

  • 6 half pint sized Mason jars
  • Garnish: whipped cream (Reddi-Whip is perfect here)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the red layer. Combine the water and the Jell-O in a bowl, stirring to fully dissolve. Add the cold water and the strawberries. Stir and divide the mixture among the Mason jars. We used a wide-mouth funnel (so the strawberries would fit through) to keep the sides of the jars clean for the other colored layers. Victoria used a different technique.

    2. CREATE the “wave” effect by setting the jars at an angle in a muffin tin. First place uncooked rice in the muffin wells to hold the jars at an angle, then refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes. When the red layer is nearly firm…

    3. MAKE the white layer. In a medium bowl, evenly sprinkle a packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water. Allow the gelatin to set for 2 minutes, then add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve, and then the melted ice cream. Spoon into the jars, taking careful to keep the inside walls clean for the blueberry layer. Refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. When firm, you can remove the jars from the tin and keep them upright in the fridge.

    4. MAKE the blue layer. In a medium bowl, evenly sprinkle 1 packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water. Allow the gelatin to set for 2 minutes, then add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the sugar, then the blueberries. Do not add to the jars yet, but first refrigerate the blue mixture until it thickens to the consistency of a gel (otherwise, the blueberries will float to the top of the jar).

    5. SPOON the blueberry mixture into the jars and refrigerate until firm. When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream.
     
    MORE USES FOR MASON JARS.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Keep Home-Brewed Iced Tea Clear

    Iced Tea

    Cloudy Iced Tea

    Top: Iced tea should be clear (photo courtesy Mighty Leaf Tea. Bottom: Black tea can cloud when you add juice or other flavorings, like this peach iced tea. Herbal teas can also be cloudy. But we got cloudy tea from plain English Breakfast (photo courtesy Peet’s).

     

    Since the weather got warmer, we’ve been consuming four or five bottles of iced tea per day. Given our desire to keep plastic out of the landfill—not to mention the $2 a bottle (including tax), we began home-brewing our iced tea years ago. We pour it into re-purposed beverage bottles, or keep it in a pitcher.

    One thing we noticed this season is that our tea, which is clear when we put the bottles into the fridge, is cloudy when they’ve chilled down. It doesn’t taste as “clear,” either.

    This was top-quality English Breakfast from Rishi Tea. So we put on our science hat to discover why.

    We made hot tea, which was perfectly clear; thus, not a problem with the tea or our kettle. We used a glass pitcher instead of a plastic one to brew. We placed the pitcher in the fridge without pouring into serving-size bottles. We tried distilled water, from which the minerals are removed.

    The result: still cloudy.

    So we asked our wine editor, Kris Prasad—who happens to be a Ph.D chemist—how to solve our problem. Here’s his response:
     
    WHAT MAKES ICED TEA CLOUDY?

  • Generally, higher-quality tea leaves contain more tannins, which are the source of the cloudiness.
  • When tea steeps, the tannins dissolve into the boiling water.
  • When the brewed tea goes into the fridge, the cold can cause tannins to separate out. This causes the cloudiness and adds what we perceived as “nano-grit” to the mouthfeel.
  •  
    So that’s the “why.” Now, what can you do about it?
     
    HOW TO AVOID CLOUDY ICED TEA

  • Do not add ice to hot tea or stick the pitcher in the fridge. Let the tea cool to room temperature—not “slightly warm”—first.
  • With a cloudy pitcher of iced tea, you can add boiling water to re-dissolve the tannins (1 cup of boiling water per quart of tea. This should clear up the cloudiness, but will also dilute the tea. If you anticipate the problem, make a stronger brew.
  •  

  • If you’re new to the area, check to see if you have hard or soft water. Hard water can make iced tea cloudy. Get a water filter or buy distilled water.
  • If all else fails, add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda per quart of tea.
  •  
    ICED TEA VS. ICED TEA

    Properly, the drink is iced tea—tea that has been chilled with ice. It is spelled this way in primers on editing and by the line editors* of quality publications.

    But, as more and more Americans care less and less about the rules of English, ice tea—tea with added ice—has been making inroads, even among some editors.

    There is precedent: Ice cream and ice water were originally “iced cream” and “iced water.” We presume that editors in that era were equally chagrinned.

     
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    *A line editor is responsible for reviewing each sentence for consistency, grammar, punctuation, spelling and word usage prior to publication. Here’s more.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Rosé Wine Tasting

    Sancerre Rose Wine

    Rose Wine For Summer

    Top: Rosé is a style of wine, not a particular grape varietal or wine region. This photo shows a Sancerre, a wine made in the eastern Loire Valley of France in the area around Sancerre, an ancient hilltop town. While white Sancerre is made from the [white] Sauvignon Blanc grape, red Sancerre and rosé Sancerre are both made from the [red] pinot noir grape (photo Thor | Wikimedia). Bottom: Some of the different hues of rosé wines (photo JoTot.com).

     

    In France, more rosé wine is sold than white wine [source]. Rosé is also a popular warm-weather wine, and a great pairing with grilled foods and picnic foods.

    So with Memorial Day at hand, how about a rosé tasting party? There are as many different styles of rosé wines as with other varietals. A tasting is an opportunity to get to know the different producers and identify some favorites.

    Here’s how to have a wine tasting party, although you can simply set out the bottles and let people do their own thing.
     
    WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

    Unlike Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and the other grape varietals, there is no “rosé grape.” Rather, a rosé wine can be made from any red wine grape*. White Zinfandel, for example, is a sweet rosé wine, also called a blush wine. Most rosé wines, however, are dry wines. First:
     
    ROSÉ WINE TERMS

  • The term rosé does not refer to the type of grape or the vinification process, but to the pink color. A rosé wine can be actually be made by blending red and white wine together; however this is not a common process.
  • Most rosés are dry wines made from red wine grapes. The pink color comes from limited skin contact with the red grape skins during vinification. Rosé’s color is actually a hue of what would become red wine with longer skin contact.
  • The juice pressed from red wine grapes is the same color as the juice from white wine grapes: clear. Red wine color comes from extended skin contact during the early stages of winemaking, a process known as maceration†.
  • Pink wines, a term that encompasses rosé, blush, and anything else with a pink hue, can be any shade from pale pink to deep rose. It depends on the grape used and the length of skin contact (from one to three days).
  • Blush wine is an American term that refers specifically to pink wines made from red wine grapes, with only enough skin contact to produce a “blush” of red color. The term first appeared in the U.S. in the early 1980s, as a marketing device to sell pink wines. At the time, Americans were not buying rosé wines, while White Zinfandel, with its pink hue, was flying off the shelves (at one point it was the largest-selling wine in America). There weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes to meet demand, so winemakers had to use other red grape varietals.
  • Pink wines made from other grapes could not legally be called “White Zinfandel,” so a new category name—blush—was created.
  • American pink wines, whether from Zinfandel or another grape, are typically sweeter and paler than French-style rosés. The term “blush” began to refer to not just to pink wines, but to those that were made on the slightly sweet side, like White Zinfandel. These days, all three terms are used more or less interchangeably by people outside the wine-producing industry.
  •  
    ALSO TRY SOME…

  • Rosé Sangria
  • Rosé Champagne & OtherSparkling Rosés
  •  
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    *“Red grape” skins can be black, purple or red, depending on the varietal. A rosé can also be made by blending red and white wines, although this is less common.

    †The skin contact phase of winemaking is known as maceration. In this phase, the phenolic materials of the grape—tannins, coloring agents (anthocyanins) and flavor compounds—leach into the must (the newly-pressed juice) from the grape skins, seeds and stems. Maceration is a food and wine term that means to soften by soaking. Here’a more about maceration.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Flag Cake For Memorial Day

    American Flag Cake

    American Flag Cake Recipe

    Brown Eggs Carton

    Top and center: This American Flag Cake is easy to make (photos courtesy TheKitchyKitchen.com). Bottom: You’ll need nine eggs for the cake (photo courtesy Organic Valley).

     

    We’re very fond of American flag cakes for Memorial Day and Independence Day. Check out these cakes on Pinterest.

    Many of them require the skills of a pastry chef, but you can make a sheet cake that’s easy to ice and decorate, and tastes just as wonderful.

    This recipe was sent to us by Claire Thomas of TheKitchyKitchen.com. An airy sponge cake is topped with cream cheese frosting and fresh fruit.

    The recipe makes one 9” x 13” sheet cake or two 10” round layers.
     
    RECIPE: AMERICAN FLAG SHEET CAKE

    For The Sponge Cake

  • 1-3/4 cups cake flour, sifted then measured
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cup eggs whites (about 9 large eggs)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, packed
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup water
  •  
    For The Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Decoration

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 half pint raspberries
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 half pint red cherries, red plums or other red fruits
  • Whipped cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  •  
    _________________________
    *Most cakes are either butter cakes made with a significant amount of butter (which provides firmness and density, as in devil’s food cake and pound cake) or foam cakes. Foam cakes (this recipe) are made without leavening (baking powder, baking soda). They get their volume and light, fluffy crumb by beating air into egg whites. Foam cakes can contain egg (sponge cake) or butter (génoise, gâteau); but as long as the cake is leavened with air instead of a chemical agent, it is considered a foam cake.

     

    Preparation

    This may look like a lot of steps, but each step is very easy.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350F°. Move the rack to the lower third of the oven. Grease or spray a nonstick 9” x 13” pan and line the bottom with parchment. Grease the paper as well.

    2. SIFT the flour, half of the sugar (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) and salt into a bowl; set aside.

    3. CAREFULLY separate the egg whites from the yolks and whip the whites with the whisk attachment in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, just until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar in a steady stream, whisking until you have thicker, stiffer, glossy peaks—about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Scoop the mixture into a VERY large bowl and set aside.

    4. WIPE out the bowl you used for the egg whites, and beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow—about 2-3 minutes. Add the water and beat until thickened, about 4 minutes: the yolks should be very thick and pale. Pour the yolk mixture over the whites and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle a third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture; fold to combine. Repeat two more times, just until all the ingredients are incorporated.

    5. GENTLY POUR the batter into the pan and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and cool for about 45 minutes.

     

    Confectioners Sugar

    While granulated sugar is used to make the cake, powdered sugar is used to make the frosting. The particles are much finer, so it dissolves readily with no graininess (photo Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE).

     
    6. REMOVE the cake from the pan and slip a butter knife down one side of the pan and slowly move it around the perimeter to release the cake. When the sides are free, cover the cake with a rack and invert. Remove the cake pan and parchment. Let the cake cool completely. While the cake cools…

    7. MAKE the frosting. Chill a metal or glass bowl in the fridge, then add the cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat the cream or it will curdle (that’s how cream is churned into butter). Set aside.

    8. MIX the cream cheese, salt, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until very smooth (if you have one, use an electric mixer with a paddle attachment). Fold in the whipped cream, one third at a time. If you aren’t frosting the cake right away, keep the frosting in the fridge and let it warm up on the counter for 20 minutes prior to using.

    9. PLACE the cake on a serving platter. Spread the frosting about 1/2 inch thick with a spatula. Create the “stars” in a square in the top left corner with the blueberries, and place the red fruits in “stripes.”
     
    MORE MEMORIAL DAY RECIPES

    To find appropriate recipes for each holiday, pull down the “Holidays & Occasions” menu at the right of the title of this article.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try Some Pelmeni

    Pelmeni

    Pelmeni Stuffing

    Pelmeni Mold

    Top: Pelmeni with Russia’s favorite herb, dill (photo Amazon). Center: Meat stuffing in a pelmeni mold (photo Amazon). Bottom: Ready to cook (photo MumsPrefer.com).

     

    You may have had Polish pillow pasta—pierogi—but how about their Russian cousin, pelmeni (pell-MEN-ee).

    As with dumplings the world over—including ravioli—a simple dough rolled out and stuffed with beef, cheese, chicken, mutton, pork, seafood or vegetables. Or, they can be a blend: A traditional recipe combines beef, mutton and pork. In Europe, add some garlic, onions and pepper to the mix.

    THE HISTORY OF PELMENI

    Historians agree that pelmeni originated among the indigenous Siberian people and later became part of Russian cuisine; they are also called Siberian dumplings in Russia. The word translates to “ear bread”: The bite-size dumplings can be seen as little ear pasta (although not nearly as ear-like as Italian orrechietti, which have the advantage because they aren’t stuffed).

    Pelmeni were a particularly good way to preserving meat during the six months of Siberian winter, with temperatures as low as -47°F and snow on the ground through April. It became a tradition in Siberia households to make thousands of pelmeni as soon as temperatures fell below freezing, in November. Long before electric refrigeration, Siberians had natural refrigeration, i.e., in an unheated barn or shed. A bonus: Livestock could be harvested before the freeze, eliminating the cost to feed them over the long winter.

    Pelmeni have evolved from labor-intensive food prepared by housewives to quality frozen versions to the Russian student substitute for instant ramen noodles!
     
    Pelmeni Cousins

    European stuffed boiled dumplings may be a simplified version of Chinese wontons. The list of cousins includes Chinese jiaozi, Georgian khenkali, Italian ravioli, Japanese gyoza, Jewish kreplach, Korean mandu, Middle Eastern shishbarak, Mongolian bansh, Nepalese and Tibetan momo, Polish uszka, Turkish and Kazakh manti, Ukrainian vareniki and Uzbek chuchvara, among others.
     
    EASTERN EUROPEAN DUMPLINGS: THE DIFFERENCE

    In the U.S., the term pierogi is often used to describe every type of Eastern European dumplings. Of course, there are differences: in shape, size and thickness of dough (these are the differences between all dumplings, as well as cooking technique: boiled versus fried, boiled in water vs. broth or stock).

  • With pelmeni and vareniki, the dough is as thin as possible, and the proportion of filling to dough is high.
  • Pelmeni fillings are usually raw, while pierogi and vareiyki can be sweet.
  • Pelmeni are bite-size, like raviolini.
  •  
    MAKE THEM OR BUY THEM

    Similar to making ravioli, you can short-cut the process by purchasing a pelmeni mold in plastic or aluminum—and make other types of stuffed pasta with it.

    Or, look for a good brand. We recently tried Popkoff’s, and were very pleased. Use the store locator to find the nearest retailer.
     
    POPKOFF’S PELMENI & VARENIKI

    These delicious dumplings, full of Old World flavor, are easy to prepare. It takes just 5 minutes from boiling water to plate. The simplest preparation is a traditional one: butter and sour cream, with fresh dill.

    The dumplings can be served as an appetizer, side or main dish. Or, add a bit of smoked salmon and caviar for a luxurious hors d’oeuvre.

    Why do Popkoff’s pelmeni taste so good?

    Their “farm to frozen” pelmeni and vareniki are made from 100% all-natural ingredients from the best vendors: King Arthur Flour, Mary’s Free Range Chicken, Meyer Natural Angus Beef, Marcho Farms Veal and Good Nature All-Natural Pork. All ingredients are domestic and the dumplings are made in California, and are packaged in GoGreen sustainable packaging.

    The meats are antibiotic-free and hormone-free, the fruits and vegetables are locally grown and non GMO. There are no artificial colors, flavors or preservativess.

    We tried four varieties of pelmeni, all so good that we can’t wait to try the vareniki. Traditionally, pelmeni are filled with meat and vareniki, a Ukranian variation, were filled with cheese or vegetables; vareniki are larger, like ravioli. Popkoff’s choices:

    PELMENI VARIETIES

  • Pelmeni With Beef
  • Pelmeni With Chicken
  • Pelmeni With Farmer’s Cheese
  • Pelmeni With Pork & Beef
  • Pelmeni With Veal & Pork
  •  
    VARENIKI VARIETIES

  • Vareniki With Beef
  • Vareniki With Cabbage & Carrots
  • Vareniki With Cheese & Cherry
  • Vareniki With Chicken
  • Vareniki With Potato & Onion
  • Vareniki With Sweet Farmer’s Cheese
  •  

    PELMENI & VARINIKI TOPPINGS

    Pick a topping, pick a sauce. Some of these are traditional, and some reflect modern tastes.
     
    TOPPINGS

  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • Fresh chives, dill or parsley
  • Lemon zest
  • Onions: caramelized, frizzled or sautéed
  • Sliced almonds
  •  
    SAUCES

  • Horseradish sauce
  • Melted butter
  • Mushroom sauce
  • Mustard sauce
  • Plain yogurt
  • Sour cream
  • Soy sauce and chopped chives or green onions
  • Tomato sauce
  • Vinegar sauce
  •  
    You can also add pelmeni to broths and green salads. They are traditionally boiled; vareniki can be boiled or pan-fried.

    Also, check out our 50 ways to serve pierogi and adapt them to pelmeni.
     
    RECIPE: PELMENI IN MUSHROOM SAUCE

    You can make this recipe from Chef James Bailey from scratch (recommended), or take a shortcut with canned cream of mushroom soup.

    It’a a variation of the famous Russian dish that originated in the mid-19th-century rage, Beef Stroganoff, which has a sauce made with sour cream (smetana in Russian).

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 10 ounce package Popkoff’s Beef Pelmeni (or other flavor)
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup onions, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 16 ounces low sodium beef broth
  • Garnish: fresh dill leaves, minced
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the butter over medium heat; add onions and cook until softened. Add the garlic and mushrooms; stir and cook for 3-5 minutes until the mushrooms have softened.

    2. ADD the beef broth and cook over medium heat until the liquid is slightly reduced. Add the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is combined.

    3. BRING a large pot of water to boil and add a pinch of salt. Carefully add Popkoff’s Beef Pelmeni and cook for 5 minutes until cooked through. Drain and reserve.

    4. MIX in sour cream and chopped parsley into mushroom stroganoff, portion dumplings onto plates and top with sauce, optional toppings and dill garnish.
     
    DESSERT PELMENI & VARENIKI

    Pelmeni stuffed with delicate farmer’s cheese is a charming dessert or a sweet lunch.

    Vareniki are typically used for dessert because the cheese can be sweetened. Cheese pelmeni has no sweetener.

    But with sweet toppings, you won’t even notice. We enjoy dessert pelmeni with a few of the following:

  • Cherry preserves
  • Brown sugar, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar
  • Dried fruit (blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins)
  • Fruit purée
  • Grated chocolate and hand-whipped cream
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Mascarpone
  • Mixed fresh fruits
  • Plain or sweetened sour cream
  • Sliced almonds
  • Sweetened chestnut purée and hand-whipped cream
  •  

    Popkoff's Pelmeni

    Pelmeni In Soup

    Pelmeni In Mushroom Sauce

    Pelmeni  With Tomato Sauce

    Vareniki With Cheese & Cherries

    Dessert Vareniki

    Blueberry Vareniki

    Top: A package of Popkoff’s Pelmeni. Second: Pelmeni in miso soup. Third: Pelmeni in mushroom sauce. Fourth: Pelmeni with Moroccan-spiced tomato sauce. Fifth: Vareniki with farmer’s cheese and cherries. Sixth: Dessert vareniki. Photos courtesy Popkoff’s (see the recipes). Bottom: Vareniki stuffed with cottage cheese and blueberries, with blueberry sauce. Here’s the recipe from ToDisCoverRussia.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Vietnamese Cabbage Slaw, a.k.a. Cole Slaw

    Asian Slaw

    Classic Cole Slaw

    Red Boat Fish Sauce

    Top: Vietnamese slaw, made with a fish sauce-accented vinaigrette. Center: Conventional American cole slaw with mayonnaise (photo courtesy Blu Restaurant | NYC). Bottom: Vietnamese fish sauce (photo courtesy Red Boat).

     

    So many slaws, so little time! On summer weekends, we try different slaw recipes and different potato salads.

    When made without mayonnaise, cole slaw is a very low calorie food, and cabbage is an antioxidant-packed cruciferous vegetable. That’s what you’ll find in the Asian-style slaw recipe below.

    Today’s tip also highlights a relatively unfamiliar ingredient to Americans, fish sauce. But first:
     
    WHAT’S A SLAW & WHY IS IT “COLE?”

    Long part of the culinary repertoire, “koolsla,” short for “koolsalade,” means cabbage salad in Dutch; Dutch travelers to the New World made the dish with local cabbage. Instead of being torn into bite-size pieces like lettuce salad, the cabbage was thinly sliced or shredded.

    Cabbage, the “kool,” is pronounced “cole.” “Sla” is short for “salade.” The term got anglicized in the 18th century as cole slaw (and sometimes, cold slaw).

    In English, “slaw” came to specify a salad of shredded vegetables. Over time, shredded cabbage slaw was joined by carrot slaw and more recently, broccoli slaw and shaved Brussels sprouts slaw.
     
    WHAT IS FISH SAUCE?

    Called nam pla in Thai and nuoc mam (“salted fish water”) in Vietnamese, fish sauce is an amber-hued condiment prepared from fermented anchovies and salt. An umami flavor lauded as “the fifth taste” after sweet, sour, bitter and salty, fish sauce is a major ingredient and condiment in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.

    Numerous brands are imported to the U.S., including Red Boat Fish Sauce.
     
    Umami, The Fifth Taste

    Fish sauce provides a flavor known as umami, often explained as savory or brothy.

    We consume “umami foods” every day: anchovy paste, asparagus, beef stew, bouillon, cured ham, ketchup, lamb shank, miso sauce and soup, MSG, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, ripe and sun-dried tomatoes, soy sauce, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce, among others.
     
    European Garum & Colatura Di Alici

    Umami and fish sauce are also part of Western culture. Beginning in Greece and appearing in nearly every ancient Roman recipe as early as the 7th and 8th centuries B.C.E., garum, a fermented fish sauce, was the universal condiment used to add flavor to food.

    As ketchup (and more lately, hot sauce) is to American fare, as soy sauce is to Chinese cuisine, the favorite condiment in ancient Rome was garum, an anchovy sauce. It involved into colatura di alici, juice of anchovies, still popular in Italy. It’s also called anchovy sauce or anchovy syrup; the latter is inaccurate, as a syrup is a thick, viscous liquid.

    As strange as “anchovy juice” may sound, colatura is an aromatic condiment that enhances any dish, adding flavor without fuss.

     
    Ask any great Italian chef, and you’ll probably find that colatura di alibi is their secret ingredient. Chef Lidia Bastianich uses a touch of colatura instead of salt.

    Colatura (the word comes from the Latin colare, to strain) is made by curing anchovies with salt and extracting the free-run liquid that drains from them. It’s a laborious and painstaking process to create a truly artisan food. Different brands are imported from Italy.

    Things came full circle in the 19th century when a British sea captain Henry Lewis Edwardes (1788–1866) brought the recipe for a fish sauce condiment home after travels in India. It somehow got to John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins, two dispensing chemists (pharmacists) in Worcester, England, who created the first “umami sauce” (Worcestershire Sauce) sold commercially in England, in 1837.

    Here are more uses for fish sauce, colatura di alici, or whatever you choose to call it.

     

    RECIPE: VIETNAMESE CABBAGE SLAW

    This recipe was created by Gail Simmons for Pure Leaf Tea. She pairs it with Sweet Honey Green Pure Leaf. We paired it with Unsweetened Green and Unsweetened Lemon Flavor Pure Leaf.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Dressing

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large shallot, finely sliced
  •  
    For The Slaw

  • 1/2 head small red cabbage
  • 1/2 head small Napa cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 4 radishes
  • 2 mini seedless cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples
  • Garnish: ¼ cup roughly chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing so the shallots have time to marinate. Whisk the ingredients except the shallots in a large mixing bowl. Then add the shallots and set aside.

    2. FINELY SLICE the cabbages, radishes and cucumbers using a mandolin or a food processor with the slicer and grater attachments. Grate the carrots and separate the cilantro leaves.

     

    Asian Cabbage Slaw

    Apple-Infused Coleslaw in a Jar-nestle-230

    Top: Thai Cabbage Slaw. You can add an optional peanut garnish (photo courtesy ACommunalTable.com, which added coconut). Bottom: Use your Mason jars to serve slaw (photo courtesy Nestle).

     
    3. CORE the apples and finely slice them into thin half–moons. Place everything into the mixing bowl with the dressing and toss together well. When ready to serve, top with the peanuts and extra cilantro leaves.
     
    MORE SLAW RECIPES

  • Apple Cole Slaw With Lemon Ginger Yogurt Dressing
  • BLT Slaw
  • Dijon-Vanilla Broccoli Slaw
  • Pear & Cabbage Slaw
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A New Cocktail Each Weekend

    Gin Fizz

    Blackberry Brandy

    Top: Blackberry Gin Fizz (photo courtesy NathanandChristinaMakeFood.com). Here’s the recipe, made with muddled fresh blackberries instead of blackberry brandy. Bottom: Blackberry brandy. Check the back label to be sure it’s made with natural flavors (photo courtesy Leroux).

     

    We tend to try new cocktail recipes on weekends. Life’s too short to keep to our three or four standards, much as we love them.

    We keep a running list of cocktails we’d like to try. Friends and neighbors know that it’s “open house” on late Sunday afternoons: They can stop by and try the weekend’s special.

    We discovered a bottle of blackberry brandy in the liquor cabinet, so this weekend we’re mixing up a pitcher of Blackberry Gin Fizz: gin, blackberry brandy and Prosecco.

    WHAT’S A FIZZ?

    A fizz is a type of mixed drink—a variation on the older sour recipe. Sours are a family of mixed drinks that combine alcohol with lemon or lime juice—the sour component—plus a sweetener (fruit juice, grenadine, honey, liqueur, maple syrup, simple syrup, sugar, etc.). Sours are one of the original cocktails described by Jerry Thomas in his 1862 book, How to Mix Drinks.

    Famous sours include the Daiquiri (rum, lime juice and sugar), Margarita (tequila, cointreau and lime juice), Sidecar (cognac, triple sec and lemon juice) and Whiskey Sour (whiskey, lemon juice and sugar).

    A sour becomes a fizz with the addition of carbonated water. The first printed reference to a fizz (spelled “fiz”) is in the 1887 edition of Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide, which contains six “fiz” recipes.

    Adding carbonated water to a Gin Sour—gin, lemon juice and sugar—creates a Gin Fizz, a.k.a. a Tom Collins). Substituting blackberry brandy or liqueur for the sugar creates a Blackberry Gin Fizz.

    The Fizz became widely popular in America between 1900 and the 1940s, and spread internationally. Known as a hometown specialty of New Orleans, the Gin Fizz was so popular that bars would need to employ extra bartenders to shake them.
     
    RECIPE #1: BLACKBERRY GIN FIZZ

    This recipe comes from the Salt Creek Grille in Princeton, New Jersey, which used Tanqueray gin.

    You can make your own blackberry brandy from fresh blackberries and regular brandy (recipe below). If you have extra bottles of brandy, go for it—but note that it takes two months for the fruit to fully infuse.

    You can use the blackberry brandy to make Blackberry Juleps, Margaritas, Mojitos and other cocktails.

     
    You can also use the blackberry brandy for a variety of other drinks and foods (see below).
     
    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1.5 ounces gin
  • .5 ounce blackberry brandy (substitute blackberry liqueur*)
  • Splash fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Splash simple syrup
  • Splash prosecco (substitute cava or other affordable bubbly†)
  • Optional garnish: fresh blackberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE first four ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled collins glass.

    2. TOP with prosecco. Garnish with a notched berry on the rim, or a cocktail pick with blackberries.

    Variations

  • Instead of blackberry brandy, use muddled fresh blackberries. For a frozen drink, freeze fresh blackberries and toss them into the blender with the other ingredients.
  • Make a mocktail with club soda, lime juice and blackberry juice (we used Welch’s Farmer’s Pick Blackberry Juice).
  • Make a slush—a Blackberry Sgroppino, adapting the Venetian cocktail made from lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco. Substitute blackberry sorbet for the lemon sorbet in the recipe above (we use Ciao Bella’s Blackberry Cabernet sorbet).
  •  
    _______________________
    *Liqueurs are sweeter than fruit brandy, and are grain-based (gluten) instead of grape-based (gluten-free).

    †We recommend Asti Spumante from Italy, Yellow Tail Bubbles from Australia, Cava from Spain (Freixenet is the most widely available):
    Crémant from France, Woodbridge Brut from California (Robert Mondavi, Domaine Ste Michelle Brut from Oregon.

     

    RECIPE #2: HOMEMADE BLACKBERRY BRANDY

    Don’t buy the cheapest brandy on the shelf. What you put in determines what you get out.

    Ingredients For 1 Liter

  • 1 pound blackberries, washed and patted dry
  • 8 ounces superfine sugar
  • 1 liter (35 ounces) brandy
  • 3 canning jars (500ml) or other sealed containers
  •  
    Preparation

    According to StarkBros, a purveyor of fruit trees, you should wait to add the sugar until the end of the infusing process.

    1. DIVIDE the blackberries and sugar among the jars; pour in the brandy. Seal the jars tightly and shake well.

    2. STORE the jars in a cool, dark place, shaking every other day for a week. Then shake, once a week for two months or longer. The longer it steeps, the better the brandy will be.

    3. WHEN you’re ready to drink it, strain the liquid into a 1 liter bottle (33.8 ounces).
     
    For your next batch, you can consider adding another layer of flavor: a whole clove, a strip or two of lemon peel (pith removed) and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.
     
    THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CORDIAL, FRUIT BRANDY, LIQUEUR, EAU DE VIE, LIQUEUR, SCHNAPPS

    While many people use these terms interchangeably, and they are all flavored spirits, there are differences in terms of sweetness and color—and in the case of fruit brandy, the base alcohol.

  • Liqueur (lih-CUR, the French pronunciation) is made by steeping fruits in alcohol after the fruit has been fermented; the result is then distilled. Liqueurs are typically sweeter and more syrupy than schnapps.
  •  

    Blackberry Brandy Recipe

    Blackberry Sorbet

    Top: Homemade blackberry brandy (photo courtesy StarkBros.com). Bottom: Make a slush by adding blackberry sorbet (photo courtesy Ciao Bella).

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

  • Liqueur is sweeter, and typically made from a grain-based alcohol.
  • Fruit-flavored brandy is made from a grape-based alcohol. Be sure to buy one that is all natural, i.e., made with real fruit instead of flavored syrup. With a quality brand, the fruit is macerated in the alcohol, then filtered out prior to bottling.
  • There are a few Cognacs-based liqueurs such as Chambord (raspberry), Domaine De Canton (ginger) and Grand Marnier (orange). Cognac is a higher-quality brandy made according to the stringent standards of the Cognac commune of southwestern France.
  •  
    MORE THINGS TO MAKE WITH BLACKBERRY BRANDY

  • Drink it straight as an apéritif.
  • Make a spritzer with sparkling water or sparkling wine.
  • Make blackberry granita, ice cream or sorbet.
  • Marinate fruit salad.
  • Use as a flavoring in desserts.
  • Use as a dessert sauce to top angel or pound cake, ice cream, sorbet, etc.
  • Use to make sauces for savory dishes, such as duck and salmon.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Amp Up The Potato Salad

    Russian Potato Salad

    Fresh Dill

    Top: Add beets, dill, carrots, peas and onions for a Russian-style potato salad (photo IdahoPotato.com). Bottom: Fresh dill is a delicious accent for any potato salad, but is often used in Russian recipes (photo courtesy PaperChef.com).

     

    With Memorial Day Weekend just a week away, we’re revisiting one of our favorite cookout foods: potato salad.

    To us, a basic potato salad includes quality mayonnaise, diced raw vegetables (carrots, celery, red onions, maybe some bell pepper) and fresh dill and parsley. This was our mother’s potato salad.

    But these days we want more: more layers of flavor, more excitement. We try new recipes on most warm-weather weekends, and delight in the process of invention (our reigning favorite, mini whole potatoes, salmon caviar, a sour cream-mayo blend, sweet onion and lots of fresh dill).

    Here are two we’ll be making for Memorial Day festivities. Both from the Idaho Potato Commission. There are links to more recipes below, for a total of 16 specialty potato salad recipes.

    RECIPE: RUSSIAN BEET & POTATO SALAD

    Ingredients

  • 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 5-ounce can sliced beets, drained, slices quartered
    (alternatively, you can dice whole beets)
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish mustard*
  •  
    _______________
    *You can buy horseradish mustard, but it’s simple to make. Just combine Dijon mustard with prepared white horseradish. Start with a 3:1 ratio, and add more horseradish to taste.

     
    Preparation

    1. ADD the potatoes and salt to a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until just tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.

    2. COMBINE the potatoes, peas and carrots, and onion in a large bowl.

    3. WHISK together in a small bowl the mayonnaise, yogurt, dill and horseradish mustard. Add the potato mixture and gently combine.

    4. PLACE the beets on a paper towel and gently blot dry—or else your potato salad will turn pink! Fold the beets into the potato mixture very gently; do not over-mix. Serve within 1 hour for peak flavor and appearance.

     

    RECIPE #2: RED CHIMICHURRI POTATO SALAD

    The signature condiment of Argentina, chimichurri sauce is a parsley-based, garlicky vinaigrette with a verdant green color.

    Red chimichurri, a more recent development, adds paprika and red wine vinegar, which create a dark red background for the herbs. Both are served as accompaniments to grilled meat in Argentina, which makes them a great match with what you’re grilling.

    This recipe was created by Latino Foodie for the Idaho Potato Commission.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds Baby Dutch yellow potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, trimmed
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, trimmed
  • 3 green onions
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. They are small so they should be done in about 10 minutes (be careful not to overcook or they will turn into mashed potatoes). To test for doneness, insert the tip of a steak knife into the middle of a potato. If it slides off easily, they are done. Drain and allow the potatoes to cool slightly.

    2. ADD the remaining ingredients except the oil to a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are roughly chopped. Slowly drizzle in the oil while pulsing the food processor. You can make the sauce chunky or smooth, as you prefer.

    3. HALVE or quarter the potatoes. In a large bowl, gently toss the potatoes with a quarter of the chimichurri, adding more as needed. The remaining sauce can be used to marinate the vegetables or steak for the meal.

    4. STORE any remaining chimichurri in a tightly-sealed jar. It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

     

    Chimichurri Potato Salad Recipe

    Red Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

    Baby Yellow Dutch Potatoes

    Top: Red Chimichurri Potato Salad. Center: Red chimichurri sauce, a classic Argentine condiment (photos courtesy Idaho Potato Commission). Bottom: Baby Dutch yellow potatoes (photo courtesy Melissas.com).

     
    MORE POTATO SALAD SPINS

  • Arugula Potato Salad
  • Barbecue Potato Salad
  • Baked Potato Salad
  • Beer-Roasted Potato Salad With Brussels Sprouts
  • Brussels Sprouts Potato Salad
  • Corned Beef & Cabbage Potato Salad
  • German Potato Salad With Bacon & Bacon Vinaigrette
  • Green Bean Potato Salad
  • Grilled Potato Salad With Hot Dog Chunks
  • Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
  • Red, White & Blue Potato Salad (especially for Memorial Day and Independence Day)
  • Smoked Salmon Potato Salad
  • Warm Potato Salad
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Up Your Mixed Grill

    Types Of Mixed Grill

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/mixed grill thechophouse singapore 230

    Top: Lebanese Mixed Grill, served at the Four Seasons Hotel | Cairo: chicken, chicken sausage, lamb chops, lamb sausage, onions and tomatoes on flatbread. Bottom: A British mixed grill served at The Chophouse | Singapore: beef, lamb chops, different sausages and tomatoes.

     

    If you grill, you’ve probably been making “mixed grill” without knowing about it. When you’ve got more than one type of food on the grill—hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob, for example—it’s a mix. Surf and Turf is a deluxe mixed grill.

    Many cuisines feature a traditional dish called Mixed Grill. Some examples of typical combinations:

  • Argentine asado: beef, kidney, liver and sausages such as chorizo and morcilla, a blood sausage, served with chimichurri sauce.
  • Brazilian churrasco: various cuts of chicken (including hearts) and beef (including picanha—in English, coulotte, rump cap, rump cover or sirloin cap).
  • British mixed grill: lamb chops, lamb kidneys, beef steak, gammon (uncured ham), tomatoes and mushrooms.
  • Italian mixed grill: beef and pork plus chicken marinated in olive oil, garlic, lemon and rosemary.
  • Jerusalem mixed grill: chicken hearts, livers and spleen; lamb; onion, garlic and and Middle Eastern spices.
  • Kansas City Mixed Grill (breakfast): bacon, eggs, ham, home fries, sausage links and toast.
  • South Asian Mixed Grill (Bangladesh/India/Pakistan): chicken tikka and mutton tikka, served with roti and chutney.
  • Venezuela Mixed Grill: mixed meat skewers.
  •  
    So today’s tip is: Mix it up this season. Come up with a list of different proteins and vegetables you’d like to try.

    How about:

     

  • Lamb Mixed Grill: lamb burgers and chops, asparagus, broccolini and endive.
  • Pork Mixed Grill: bacon, ham, pork belly, pork chops and sausages with corn, garlic, onions and tomatoes.
  • Sausage Mixed Grill: three or more types of sausages with portabella mushrooms and zucchini.
  • Seafood Mixed Grill: shrimp, tuna steaks, eggplant and romaine.
  •  
    Our ideal mixed grill would include duck, lamb chop, lobster tail and pork belly with onions, radicchio and tomatoes.

    What’s yours?

     

    Sausage Mixed Grill

    A sausage mixed grill with baby bell peppers. Here’s the recipe from Food & Wine.

     

      

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