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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Swap

olive-oil-bread-loaf-flavoryourlife-230

Instead butter on your bread, try olive oil.
Photo courtesy FlavorYourLife.com.

 

August is National Olive Oil Month, reminding us again that it’s easy to make heart-healthy switches in everyday eating.

While the health benefits of olive oil are no secret (including no cholesterol and less saturated fat than butter), most people are unaware of how simple it is to make the swap. Here are three easy switches:

  • Olive oil vinaigrette instead of creamy salad dressings
  • Sautéeing with olive oil instead of butter or other fat
  • Dipping bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter
  • When you swap butter for olive oil, you use need less oil—so that’s also a savings in calories.
     
    HOW TO SWAP BUTTER FOR OLIVE OIL

  • 1 teaspoon butter > ¾ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter > 2-¼ teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter > 1-½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup butter > 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup butter > ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup butter > ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup > ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup > ¾ cup
  • 2 cups > 1-½ cups
  •  
    For more ways to swap butter for olive oil in everyday recipes, visit Pompeian.com.

    You can also print out Pompeian’s butter to olive oil conversion chart and hang it on the fridge.

    MOVIE POPCORN OIL

    What kind of oil is in and on your movie popcorn?

    Most movie theaters pop the kernels in coconut oil. Coconut oil is 86% saturated fat, the kind that raises cholesterol. Lard is 38% saturated fat.

    The butter-flavored oil topping at the movies is usually partially hydrogenated soybean oil that contains both saturated and trans fats. [Source]

    What happened to “butter topping?” The butter made the popcorn soggier than oil. As a bonus to theater owners, oil is also far cheaper than butter.

    During the month of August, Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil has arranged with some movie theater chains to offer pure olive oil as an alternative to the standard topping. If you find yourself at one of those venues, let us know how you enjoyed the swap.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Get A Food Ring

    crab-mango-avo-tower-theheatherman-portlandOR-230

    This fancy first course is not that hard to
    make. Photo courtesy The Heathman |
    Portland, Oregon.

     

    It isn’t hard to make fancy appetizers like the one in the photo. All you need is a food ring. It is also called a ring mold, although that term can also refer to a multi-serving container like the type used for gelatin molds.

    We admit to a fondness for molded, layered recipes, like this crab, mango and avocado stack served at The Heathman Restaurant and Bar in Portland, Oregon. Thanks to executive chef Michael Stanton for sharing his recipe, below.

    Chef Stanton tops his dish with wild arugula. In the northwest and elsewhere, wild arugula is often found growing in streams, there for the picking. You can substitute cultivated arugula from the market. More substitutions are offered below.

    In fact, part of the fun of cooking is taking the recipe in a different direction, with a substitution. No mango? How about fresh pineapple? No avocado? How about tuna tartare?

     

    RECIPE: DUNGENESS CRAB MANGO SALAD

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1/2 cup mango, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 cup Dungeness or other crab meat
  • Chive oil or other herb-infused olive oil (basil, rosemary)
  • 1 cup wild or cultivated arugula
  • Fresh press olive oil (to taste)
  • Food ring
  • Garnishes: citrus vinaigrette (recipe below) and chive oil*
  •  
    *If you don’t have/can’t find chive oil, use basil oil or rosemary oil.

     

    RECIPE: CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh citrus juice (lemon and/or orange, lime or yuzu)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK ingredients together until well-blended.

     

    food-ring-HICbrands-230sq

    The only food ring you’ll need: This one can be adjusted to different diameters. Photo courtesy HIC Brands.

     
    Assembly

    1. MOLD the chopped avocado in 2-3 inch ring atop the serving plate. Place the mango on top, followed by the crab.

    2. REMOVE the ring mold, swirl the vinaigrette and chive oil around the plate. Toss wild arugula in fresh olive oil and place on top.
     
    MORE AT THE HEATHMAN

    If you’re in Portland, stop by for afternoon tea. It’s served in the hotel’s historic Tea Court Lounge; reservations are required.

    The traditional tea menu, created by pastry chef John Gayer, includes Smoked Salmon Napoleon, Paté Maison, John’s Famous Lanai Banana Bread and Parisian Opera Cake, along with a wide selection of teas from Fonté Coffee and Tea Company, a Northwest micro roaster based in Seattle.

    The children’s Peter Rabbit Tea for Little Sippers sports Ants On A Log, Snickerdoodle Cookie, Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcake and Peanut Butter and Honey Sandwich.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cold Infused Iced Tea

    glass-mint-lemon-230-autocratnaturalingredients

    Tea brewed in the fridge. Photo courtesy
    Autocrat Natural Ingredients.

     

    In Pursuit of Tea is a purveyor of the finest teas from Asia and India. Their monthly newsletter often has a good “tea tip.”

    This month, it’s about cold infused tea—the opposite of sun tea. As with sun tea, you simply add tea to water; but you place the container in the fridge, not in the sun.

    “Conventional iced tea is a strongly brewed serving, poured over plenty of ice,” says In Pursuit Of Tea founder Sebastian Beckwith. “But there’s another method—cold infusion—that produces an incredibly [naturally] sweet, full-flavored glass with any loose leaf tea—black, green, white or herbal.

    “The recipe is foolproof,” he continues. “Since cold infusion is a gentle process, the steeping time is very flexible, and the end result is always delicious.”

    Why would you want to brew tea in the fridge rather than the conventional way—steeped in boiling water?

    To bring out subtle nuances in the flavor of your tea. If you’re not a volume quaffer of iced tea, this method lets you make 1-2 servings a day, without taking the time to boil, steep, cool, strain and then refrigerate.

    Can you use tea bags?

    This type of brewing brings out the flavor notes in top quality tea. If you have some truly excellent tea bags, try it (use two bags).

    RECIPE: COLD INFUSED TEA

    Ingredients For 2 Glasses

  • 3.5 g loose leaf tea (about 2 scant teaspoons)
  • 2 cups cold water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. STIR tea into cold water. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours. For a stronger brew, add 1-2 hours to infusion time.

    2. STRAIN and enjoy.
     
    SUN TEA

    Cold infused tea is the opposite of sun tea, where one places tea bags and water in a glass or plastic container. The container is placed in the sun for several hours, where solar heat brews the components into a weak tea.

    This has historically been a method of necessity, not of choice—for example, with campers. Fine tea needs a fast infusion of boiling or near-boiling water to fully release its aromatic oils and to create a hearty brew.

    Or now, a cold infusion.
     
    MORE WAYS TO BREW TEA

    How to brew the perfect cup of tea.
     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Small Greek Salad

    An artistic Greek salad from Stix
    Mediterranean Grill in New York City.

     

    Some people love a luncheon size Greek salad. But how about as your first course?

    Now that beautiful tomatoes are in season, slice them up in as many ways as you can, including in a first course Greek salad.

    In Greece, what we call a “Greek salad” (more about that below) is served with every meal. So today’s tip is: Enjoy a Greek salad at home, regularly.

    When you make your own, you can add as much feta, olives, pepperoncini and other favorite ingredients as you like.

    Making your own lets you build a better salad in these ways, too:

  • You can buy top-quality feta at a cheese store.
  • You can substitute romaine for the iceberg lettuce used in restaurants.
  • You can use the beautiful tomatoes that are now in season.
  • And if you don’t like red wine vinegar, the classic dressing in America, you can substitute balsamic vinegar or lemon juice vinaigrette.
  •  
    You can also add the ingredients common in Greece: anchovies, bell pepper, capers and sardines, to the conventional American mix of cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, feta cheese and lettuce.

    Serve your Greek salad as a main meal, a smaller salad course, or as a soup-and-salad or sandwich-and-salad combo for lunch.

    Here’s the Greek salad recipe, including the traditional red wine vinaigrette.

    Food Trivia: In Greece, the feta-cucumber-onion-and-more salad is referred to as horiatiki, which translates to country/village/peasant salad. It is a common part of a traditional Greek meal, just as a lettuce and tomato salad was once a standard on the American dinner table.

    Horiatiki doesn’t contain lettuce—that’s an American preference. In Greece, you’ll only see lettuce used at restaurants that cater to tourists.

    An authentic horiatiki is a combination of all or some of the following: anchovies, bell pepper, capers, cucumber, feta cheese, Kalamata olives, onion, sardines and tomato. It is dressed with olive oil only—no vinegar—plus oregano, salt and pepper.

     

    TREAT YOURSELF TO QUALITY FETA CHEESE

    Feta is one cheese where bargains should be avoided. Less expensive feta is often over-salted to the point of unpleasantness. Some knock-off feta is dry and rubbery, with none of the crumbliness of the original.

    Feta, made from sheep’s milk or a blend of sheep’s and goat’s milks, is dry-salted and aged in wood barrels. There they sit in a brine solution that was originally devised so farmers could preserve their product in the hot Mediterranean climate. The brine gives feta its characteristic tang.

    A quality feta goes through a four-month maturation, developing a creamy, rich, complex flavor.

    According to Murray’s Cheese, only 2% of feta consumed in the U.S. actually hails from Greece. The economic collapse of Greece has put many traditional artisans out of business.

     

    greek-feta-murrays-beauty-230

    Top quality imported Greek feta is available from Murray’s Cheese.

     
    Much of our feta is imported from Bulgaria, or are cheaper knock-offs made in the U.S. from cow’s milk. Unless you buy from a reputable cheesemonger, you don’t know what you’re getting.

    A quality feta should be briny, tang and crumbly. You deserve to experience the best!

    More Food Trivia: Feta been made at least since Homer’s time, the 8th century B.C.E.: He described it in The Odyssey.

    The word feta, meaning slice, came much later, in the 17th century. It likely refers to the slicing of cheese before it is placed in barrels to age.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad

    heirloom-tomato-caprese-greatperformancesFB-230

    Where’s the stack of mozzarella and tomato
    slices? This Caprese salad is deconstructed.
    Photo courtesy Great Performances | NYC.

     

    Take advantage of the beautiful tomatoes now at farmers markets to create an elegant Caprese salad like this. There’s just a small window each year to enjoy heirloom tomatoes, so budget to have them every day, if you can.

    Enjoy them in simple preparations to let their luscious flavor shine: in salads or on sandwiches, for example. One of the easiest yet most popular ways to enjoy them is in a Caprese salad.

    You can also get creative: Instead of piling the slices of mozzarella and tomato in a stack or spreading them in a fan, make the deconstructed Caprese salad shown in the photo. All you need apart from the standard ingredients (see below) are red and yellow tomatoes (or green, orange or purple—heirloom tomatoes offer a rainbow of options) of different sizes, and both large and small basil leaves.

    While you’re at the farmers market, pick up some exotic basil instead of the standard: dark purple opal basil, lemon basil or sweet Thai basil, for example.

    CAPRESE SALAD HISTORY

    Insalata Caprese (salad in the style of Capri) is a favorite of many people—perhaps all the more precious because one of its four ingredients, tomatoes (combined with basil, mozzarella di bufala and olive oil) are splendid for such a short period of each year.

     
    Food historians can’t determine if the Caprese salad actually originated on the Italian island of Capri or if it was simply “discovered” there by tourists, but it is credited to the Campania region of Italy, on the southwest coast.

    Basil is indigenous to Italy and mozzarella and olive oil have been made since ancient Roman times (olive oil is actually much older). The other key ingredients arrived much later:

  • Mozzarella di bufala, used today instead of cow’s milk mozzarella, arrived—around 1000 C.E.,* introduced by the Arabs to Sicily.
  • Tomatoes were brought back from the New World in 1529, but those original tomatoes—the size of cherry tomatoes—were first used as ornamental houseplants. Believed to be poisonous, they weren’t eaten until the mid-19th century.
  •  
    However, insalata caprese became popular throughout the Western world after it became a favorite of King Farouk of Egypt, who discovered it during the a vacation to Capri in the 1950s (and probably invented the first insalata caprese sandwich—said to be his favorite way of eating it).

    At some point, balsamic vinegar was offered as an addition to the plain olive oil (although fine olive oil as the sole condiment is sufficiently flavorful). Caprese salad is also called insalata tricolore, referring to the three colors of the Italian flag (green, white and red).

     

    CAPRESE SALAD VARIATIONS

    Outside of tomato season, radicchio, red bell peppers or sundried tomatoes can be substituted—as well as fruit, such as:

  • Mango Caprese Salad
  • Plum Caprese Salad
  • Watermelon Caprese Salad
  •  
    Vegans can enjoy a Tofu Caprese Salad, and those who don’t like mozzarella (is there anyone?) can make a Goat Cheese Caprese.

    You can also make a Caprese Pasta Salad.
     
    So, what’s for lunch?

     
    *Source: Consorzio per la Tutela del Formaggio Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. This is the current best historical guess. The history of mozzarella di bufala.

     

    caprese-olive-sundried-topping-mooneyfarms-230

    Another Caprese salad variation: Add olive pesto. Photo courtesy Mooney Farms.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Layered Salad

    Layering is trending as a light and refreshing approach that makes you want to eat more salad. The contrast of different colored vegetables (and fruits) make the food all the more tempting.

    This recipe is by Zac Benedict for the California Avocado Commission.

    This recipe uses 12-ounce mason jars, a main-dish size salad for each person. You can also use 16.5-ounce mason jars. The handled jars can be used for food or drinks.

    If you don’t want to buy mason jars, check to see what you already have; for example, glass dessert bowls or jumbo wine goblets. Use smaller jars for a side salad. Zac suggests collecting large baby food jars, and for the larger mason jars uses chopsticks, which easily reach the bottom of the jar.

    The idea is to eat the the layered salad from the jar, although Zac advises that you can also set out serving bowls for people who want to toss their salads.

    VEGETABLE & FRUIT OPTIONS

    Select vegetables with a variety of color. For example, if you like scallions but have too much green, substitute red onion. If you’re using red tomatoes, use orange and yellow bell peppers instead of read ones.

  • Green vegetables: broccoli, edamame (soybeans), herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, parsley), green beans, green peas (frozen are fine), mesclun or other salad greens, snow peas, spring peas, sugar snap peas
  •    

    7-layer-avocado-salad-in-jar-calavocom-230

    Is there a prettier salad? Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

  • Orange vegetables: bell pepper strips, carrots (baby carrots, sliced or shaved carrots), cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, kumquats, grape tomatoes, mandarin wedges, mango, sweet potatoes (cubed or sliced)
  • Purple vegetables: cauliflower, grapes, heirloom tomatoes, kale, Peruvian potatoes, red cabbage, purple raisins (you can plump them in cider)
  • Red vegetables: beets, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, dried cherries or cranberries, grape tomatoes, lady apples, mini red jacket potatoes, pomegranate arils, radicchio, radishes, red grapes/champagne grapes, red onion, sundried tomatoes, tomatoes
  • Yellow vegetables: artichoke hearts, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, lemon peel, miniature pattypan squash, star fruit (carambola), yellow squash
  • White vegetables: cauliflower, cucumbers, daikon, Granny Smith apples, grapes, mushrooms, water chestnuts, zucchini
  •  
    You can also add diced meats and cheeses, cooked grains, beans and legumes.

     

    7-layer-salad-ingredients-calavocomm-230

    Prepare the ingredients; then, it’s easy to
    layer. Photo courtesy California Avocado
    Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. LAY out the rinsed, dried, cut produce ingredients.

    2. PLACE the heaviest ingredients on the bottom and the most crushable items at the top.

    Try to be as even as possible: The layers don’t have to be perfect but they look very nice when the ingredients are in neat rows.

    3. CHOOSE your dressing; keep it separate until ready to eat. This recipe uses a fresh citrus Dijon dressing, which is poured over the salad ingredients before serving. Then, seal with the lid and then gently invert the jar a few times to disperse the dressing.

    Another option is to place the dressing in the jar before layering the salad ingredients.

     

    RECIPE: 7 LAYER SALAD

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 Persian cucumbers, diced with peel on
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup cooked, shelled edamame
  • 8 each orange and yellow mini bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced into rings (or substitute equivalent large bell peppers)
  • 1 cup cooked artichoke hearts, coarsely chopoped
  • 1-1/3 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced and sprinkled with citrus juice to prevent browning
  •  
    RECIPE: DIJON CITRUS VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh citrus juice (lemon and/or orange or lime)*
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon or spicy mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the ingredients in a small jar with a lid; shake until well-blended.

    2. POUR dressing over each of the layered salads. Seal with jar lid and serve.
     
    *You can make the dressing sweeter or more tart to your liking depending on which citrus juice you use.

    Find more delicious recipes at CaliforniaAvocado.com.
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blackberry Cheesecake

    In the U.S. Blackberries typically peak during June in the South, and in July in the North. Crops are ready at various times of the month depending on which part of the state you are located. In order to produce good local Blackberries, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions.

    In this recipe from Driscoll’s, a deep purple blackberry purée spiked with blackberry liqueur dresses up a creamy cheesecake with a chocolate wafer cookie crust.

    Today’s the perfect day to bake it: July 30th is National Cheesecake Day (see all the food holidays).

    Prep time is 20 minutes plus cooling, cook time is 50 minutes plus cooling.

    Don’t like blackberries? Can’t find any? Use another berry.

    RECIPE: SWIRLED BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings
     
    For The Crust

  • 3 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 60 cookies)
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •    

    blackberry-cheesecake-driscolls-230r

    Celebrate National Cheesecakde Day. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     
    For The Filling and Topping

  • 2 cups blackberries, divided
  • 1 tablespoon blackberry liqueur or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cups sour cream
  • Garnish: mint leaves
  •  

    http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-blackberries-basket-image26804436

    In the U.S., blackberry season peaks in July.
    Photo © Pretoperola | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Combine chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl. Press into and up sides of 9-inch non-stick springform pan (if pan is not nonstick, brush first with melted butter). Bake about 14 minutes or until firm. Let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

    2. MAKE the filling. Purée 1 cup blackberries in a blender or food processor and strain. Discard seeds. You should have about 1/3 cup purée. Stir in blackberry liqueur and 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside until ready to use.

    3. MIX cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar in bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Add sour cream and mix until blended. Spoon half batter into cooled crust.

    4. DROP half of the blackberry purée mixture into batter, one teaspoon at a time. Swirl into filling using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Repeat with remaining batter and blackberry purée mixture.

     

    5. BAKE about 50 minutes or until edges are just set and center jiggles slightly. Turn oven off and prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon. Let cool in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely. Place in refrigerator and chill until cold throughout, 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

    6. SERVE: Make a pile of the remaining blackberries on top of cheesecake and garnish with mint leaves.

     
    BLACKBERRY TIPS

  • Select plump, firm, fully black berries. Blackberries do not ripen off the vine; unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
  • Buy only what you need. Like all fresh berries, blackberries quickly mold when left at room temperature, and only last a couple of days in the refrigerator.
  • If you have more than you can use, you can easily freeze berries. Just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.
  • Buy only what you need. Like all fresh berries, blackberries quickly mold when left at room temperature, and only last a couple of days in the refrigerator.
  • If you have more than you can use, you can easily freeze berries. Just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.
  • One quart equals 1-1/2 pounds of fresh berries.
  • One cup of blackberries has just 62 calories, and is high in antioxidants.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Fruit & Toast, a.k.a. Breakfast Tartines

    Many people spread jam on their toast. But in the summer season, why not use fresh berries instead?

    Pair those berries with your favorite dairy spread: cottage cheese, cream cheese, crème fraîche, fromage blanc, fromage frais/quark, goat cheese, mascarpone, sour cream, yogurt.

    In France, these would be called tartines: open-face sandwiches.

    You don’t have to toast the bread. Toast adds crunch and texture, but if fresh-baked bread is calling to you, enjoy it straight from the loaf.

    You can also enjoy these tartines as a snack. They’re just right for a mid-afternoon tea break.

    RECIPE: FRUIT TOAST / BREAKFAST TARTINES

    Ingredients

  • Fruit: berries, mango or other soft fruit
  • Bread of choice
  • Dairy spread
  • Optional garnish: fresh or dried herbs or other seasonings
  •    

    strawberry-toast-vermontcreamery-230

    Who needs jam when you have fresh fruit? Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     

    radish-cheese-spread-latartinegourmande-c--230

    Not a fruit fan? Use vegetables; here, sliced
    radishes and fresh-snipped chives atop
    Greek yogurt. Photo courtesy La Tartine
    Gourmande
    .

      Preparation

    1. Choose some delicious bread: date nut bread, Irish soda bread, multigrain, peasant bread, pumpernickel, raisin bread, rye, sourdough, spelt, whole grain or other bread with great flavor and texture.

    You can also use crispbread, like Wasa. Mild breads like challah, English muffins and white bread are best left to another occasion. See the different types of bread.

    2. Pick your dairy product: cottage cheese, cream cheese, crème fraîche, goat cheese, Greek yogurt, mascarpone, sour cream, quark or other spreadable dairy.

    3. Pick your fruit: berries, dates, figs, mandarin or orange segments, mango and sliced stone fruits (apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums) are our favorites.

    4. Toast the bread (or not); spread with the dairy, top with the fresh fruit and enjoy. If you need more sweetness, drizzle with honey or cinnamon sugar.

     

    VARIATIONS

  • Herbs and spices. Sprinkle with a chiffonade of basil, chili flakes, cinnamon, ground black pepper or other favorite accents.
  • Veggies. Top with vegetables instead of fruit. We like grated carrots (and raisins!), tomatoes* with fresh herbs, radishes or shaved zucchini. With vegetable tartines, you can use other herbs such as cilantro, dill, oregano, parsley.
  •  
    *Yes, tomatoes are a fruit, but they are eaten a vegetable. Here’s why the tomato is fruit, not veggie.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Fruit Punch

    fruit-punch-davidvenableQVC-230

    A recipe for summer: fruit punch. Photo
    courtesy QVC.

     

    Have you made a bowl of fruit punch yet this summer? Our mom never planned a cookout without punch. Her recipe: equal parts of grape juice, lemonade and orange juice, from frozen concentrate.

    Among the hundreds and thousands of punch recipes out there, here’s one from chef David Venable of QVC. He adds a bit of fizz with lemon-lime soda.

    The frozen fruit in the recipe offsets some of the ice so the punch doesn’t dilute. Another anti-dilution tip: Freeze some juice into “ice cubes.” Finally, consider the drink dispenser below, which has a central core to hold ice cubes apart from the punch. The cubes melt into the core and can easily be refreshed.

    For adults, you can keep a bottle of vodka, gin or tequila next to the punch.

    Here are 10 punch making tips from THE NIBBLE.

     
    RECIPE: BASIC FRUIT PUNCH

    Ingredients For 12-14 Servings

  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 3 cups pineapple juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup grenadine syrup*
  • 1 (1-liter) bottle lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • 16 ounces frozen strawberries
  • 16 ounces frozen peach slices
  •  
    *Here’s a recipe for homemade grenadine.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all of the juices and the syrup into a large pitcher and place into the refrigerator. Chill for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Just before serving…

    2. POUR the fruit juice mixture into a large punch bowl (or a drink dispenser as shown in the photo). Add the lemon-lime soda, frozen strawberries, and peaches. If desired, serve the drink over ice cubes.

     
    MORE PUNCH RECIPES

  • Frozen Margarita Punch Recipe
  • Saké Punch Recipe
  • Tea Punch Recipe
  •  
    THE NEW PUNCH BOWL: A SPIGOT DISPENSER

    Forget the punch bowls of yore. For entertaining, this plastic beverage dispenser with spigot (see photo) is the neater option for pouring. Outdoors, it keeps the bugs out of the punch bowl.

    The model in the photo has a center ice core—a plastic insert for ice that doesn’t melt into the punch. Learn more about it on Amazon.com.

     

    fruit-punch-spigot-dispenser-budeez-amz-230

    The new punch bowl: This affordable plastic beverage dispenser has a central core to hold ice, so the punch stays cold without dilution. Get it on Amazon.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fresh Lychees

    lychee-baldorfood-230

    A peeled lychee. Photo courtesy Baldor Food.

     

    Lychee is a a tropical evergreen fruit tree native to southern China. The evergreen grows wild in southern China, northern Vietnam and Cambodia, although there is evidence that it has been cultivated since around 2000 B.C.E.

    Today it grows throughout southeast Asia, notably in southern Japan, India, Pakistan, north Thailand and Vietnam. More recently, the tasty fruit has been planted in California, Florida and Hawaii, ensuring U.S. fans a more reliable supply. Depending on location, the harvest runs from May through September.

    We’ve been coming across it in farmers markets: the skin of different varieties ranges from rosy red to pale dusty rose to golden tan and pale olive green. The paper-thin skin is peeled away to revel the milky white fruit inside. Here’s everything you’d ever want to know about lychee from Purdue School of Agriculture, including how to dry them in the skin.

    The fruit is also transliterated as litchi. Perhaps the more useful information, though, is how to pronounce lychee.

  • In south China, where the fruit originated, Cantonese is the dominant language and in Cantonese the fruit is pronounced LYE-chee. The transliteration from Cantonese is lai chi.
  • In Mandarin, the language of Beijing, however, it is pronounced LEE-chee.
  •  

    Like stone fruits (apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines), the lychee is a drupe, a fruit that has an outer fleshy part that surrounds a large, hard center seed. It has been called a “lychee nut” because the seed/pit looks like a glossy brown nut (it is definitely not a nut). The pit is inedible and slightly poisonous.

    The typical lychee is about one inch in diameter. The outer covering is a pink-red, roughly-textured rind that is inedible but easily peeled with one’s fingers. The flesh inside is white, translucent and sweet, rich in vitamin C, with a texture somewhat similar to that of a grape. Children liken lychees to “eyeballs,” and you can see why in this photo.

    The fresh fruit has a floral aroma; one account says that the perfume is lost in the process of canning. However, canning adds sugar for a higher level of sweetness, and the organoleptic difference between fresh and canned lychee is not as drastic as, say, with peaches. The canned fruit has more integrity, like canned pineapple.

     

    BUYING & STORING LYCHEES

    Lychees are extremely perishable. Store in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week.

    Or, freeze them whole, with the skin on. When they are defrosted, they’ll be fine. You can even eat them frozen: instant lychee sorbet. (You may have to run the frozen lychees under warm water for a few seconds to soften the skin.)
     
    In China, lychees are enjoyed out-of-hand. In the West, peeled and pitted, they are used in:

  • Baked ham, instead of pineapple rings
  • Canapés, stuffed with goat cheese or cream cheese and pecans
  • Chinese Chicken Salad
  • Cocktails (muddled or puréed with vodka or gin, and as a garnish)
  •  

    green-lychee-melissas-230

    So delicious; we wish there were less pit and more flesh. Photo courtesy Melissas.com.

  • Eyeballs: Create lychee “eyeballs” for sweet cocktails and mocktails by stuffing the pit hole with blueberries, dried cranberries or pieces of grape. (For a savory cocktail, make a radish eyeball instead.)
  • Fruit Salad (delicious combined with banana, melon, mango, papaya, etc.)
  • Gelatin desserts
  • Green Salad
  • Sorbet
  • Parfaits & Sundaes
  •  
    For an exotic presentation, serve unpeeled lychees in dessert bowls over crushed ice (provide a bowl for the pits).
     
    LYCHEE RECIPES

  • Lychee Panna Cotta Recipe
  • Seared Tuna With Lychee Coulis Recipe
  • Lychee Agua Fresca Recipe
  •  
    There are dozens of recipes at LycheesOnline.com.
     
    LOVE THE FLAVOR OF LYCHEE?

    We find that St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur tastes like lychee (or perhaps it’s that elderflowers taste like lychee). We find it far superior to Soho lychee liqueur.

    Head out to find fresh lychees. Enjoy them today, and freeze some for later.

      

    Comments

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