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Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Salsa For Fish, Vegetables & Eggs

Baked Salmon With Salsa Verde

Cauliflower With Olive Sauce

Castelvetrano Olives In Bowl

Cerignola Olives

[1] and [2] Fish and cauliflower with salsa verde (photos courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Castelvetrano olives (photo courtesy Musco Food) and [4] cerignola olives (photo courtesy Miccio), our favorite green olives..

 

Many Americans think that salsa is a spicy tomato and chile dip for tortilla chips.

In fact, salsa is the Spanish word for sauce of any kind. Salsa de chocolate, for example, is chocolate sauce.

The Spanish word salsa derives from the Latin salsa, meaning salty, which itself derives from the Latin sal, salt (most Spanish salsas are not salty, however, but spicy).

Not all salsas are Mexican in origin; in fact, each Spanish-heritage country has its own variety of salsa (Mexico has dozens, a different specialty in each state).

  • Chimichurri, a spicy vinegar-parsley sauce, is the leading condiment in Argentina and Uruguay.
  • Mojo, in the Caribbean, typically consists of olive oil, garlic and citrus juice, and is used both to marinate meats and as a dipping sauce.
  • Peri peri or piri piri sauce is considered the national condiment of Peru: a base of vinegar and oil, garlic and lemon juice with hot birds eye chiles. As with mojo, it is also used as a cooking sauce.
  •  
    The list goes on. Check out our Salsa Glossary for different types of salsa.

    Today, we’re yet another variety of salsa. This one is a salsa verde* (green sauce) featuring green olives. It can be used over fish, chicken, rice, eggs, and in the recipe below, vegetables.

    RECIPE: SALSA VERDE WITH OLIVES ON FISH & VEGETABLES

    Not your typical salsa verde, this recipe is chunky with olives and almonds. Any leftovers are equally good at room temperature for lunch the next day.

    Ingredients For 2-3 Servings

  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • A handful arugula roughly chopped
  • A handful parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives
  • A handful toasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon capers
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound fish: char, salmon, trout or anything that looks good
  • 4 lemon or lime wedges
  •  
    OLIVE TIPS

  • Use good olives: the type you would be happy to nibble on from the bowl. Pitted olives are preferred, unless you don’t mind removing the pits from your mouth at the table.
  • Type of olive: You only need one variety of olive, but found a pitted green olive mix from an olive bar, which included castelvetrano, cerignola, gordal, manzanilla and picholine. Since we left the olives whole, we could taste the different flavors.
  • Chopped versus whole: We like olives so much that we left them whole (or were we too lazy to chop them?).
  • Substitute: You can substitute black olives if you don’t like green.
  • Olive Glossary: Check out the different types of olives.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Spread the florets in a single layer on one half of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

    2. PLACE the fish, skin-side down on the other half of the sheet. Run your fingers over the flesh to check for pin bones and remove them with kitchen tweezers. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

    3. BAKE until the florets just start to brown, about 20 to 25 minutes (longer if you prefer a softer texture or more well-done fish). While the food is baking…

    4. MAKE the salsa verde. In a small mixing bowl, combine the chopped greens, olives, almonds, vinegar and enough olive oil to bind without. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

    5. REMOVE the baking sheet from the oven. Plate and spoon the salsa over the cauliflower and the fish and. Serve with a lemon or lime wedge.
    ________________

    *Salsa verde is typically made with green chiles, tomatillos and cilantro. Used primarily as a garnish rather than a dip, it is much thinner than a tomato-based salsa roja/red sauce (this recipe, laden with olives and almonds, is an exception). A salsa verde can be fresh or cooked.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Toss Some Dried Cherries On Everything

    We don’t think that cherry recipes on Presidents Day or Washington’s Birthday (February 22nd) are clichéd. We think they’re a great opportunity to enjoy dried cherries.

    The question isn’t what you can do with dried cherries; but rather, what you can’t. They’re so versatile!

    Some of our favorite uses for dried cherries:

  • Breakfast: On cereal or yogurt, in pancake batter, in omelets.
  • Lunch: In green salads and protein salads (chicken, tuna, etc.).
  • Cocktails: Garnish away!
  • Cheese Board: Accent with dried cherries and other dried fruits.
  • Dinner: Great with duck, fish, pork and veal in sauces, salsas, or a simple garnish; in stuffings.
  • Dessert garnish: For cakes, fruit salads, puddings, ice cream and sorbet.
  • Baked Goods: biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, muffins.
  • Snacks: from the bag, in trail mix, with mixed nuts.
  •  
    RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE SALAD WITH DRIED CHERRIES, CANDIED WALNUTS & CHERRY BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

    This recipe came to us from Melanie Flinn, MS, RD, for ChooseCherries.com, the consumer website of the Cherry Marketing Institute. There you’ll find recipes for every form of cherries, including fresh, dried, juice.

    You can make the candied walnuts and dressing ahead of time, so that when you’re ready to eat there is little prep involved.

    The dressing is a keeper, by the way. You can add cherry juice to a vinaigrette or creamy dressing for a flavor lilt.

    If you don’t like goat cheese, substitute butterkäse, halloumi or queso blanco for a crusted cheese, or simply add chunks of blue cheese or feta.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 8 cups mixed greens, mesclun or other (we like a mix ofgreen and red leaf lettuce, arugula and baby spinach)
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup candied walnuts (directions below)
  • 4 crumb-crusted goat cheese medallions (directions below)
  • Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette to taste (directions below)
  •  
    For The Walnuts

  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1/4 heaping cup loose brown sugar
  •  
    For The Goat Cheese Medallions

  • 4 one-ounce slices from goat cheese log
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3-4 teaspoons olive oil
  •  
    For The Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup cherry juice (for an intense flavor, reduced 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 scant tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the dressing. Place 1/2 cup cherry juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup.

    Meanwhile, place the minced garlic in a medium bowl and add reduced cherry juice. Whisk in the vinegar and honey. Slowly whisk in oil drop by drop until well combined. Season with a salt and pepper.

    2. MAKE the candied walnuts. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

    In a medium nonstick skillet heated to medium heat, add walnuts and sugar and stir constantly until sugar has melted and coated the walnuts, no more than 5 minutes. Turn onto the prepared baking sheet and spread out to prevent clumping. Once dry, store in an airtight container.

    3. MAKE the goat cheese medallions. The best way to slice neat pieces from the log is to freeze it for about 5 minutes before slicing.

       

    goat-cheese-candied-walnuts-choosecherries-230

    cherry-salad-ingredients-choosecherries-230

    Salmon With Cherry Sauce

    Veal Chop With Dried Cherries

    Cereal With Dried Cherries

    [1] Featured recipe: goat cheese salad and [2] cherry vinaigrette for the salad (photos courtesy Choose Cherries). [3] Salmon with cherry sauce. [4] Veal chop with cherry sauce. [5] Cereal with a sprinkle of cherries (photos courtesy Choose Cherries).

     
    Combine the breadcrumbs and panko on a plate; dip the medallions into the eaten egg and then into the breadcrumb mixture. Add olive oil to a nonstick skillet, place the medallions in the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes total, flipping once when the underside is lightly browned.

    4. ASSEMBLE the salad. Combine the greens, dried cranberries and walnuts. Toss with the desired amount of dressing or serve the dressing in a gravy boat or pitcher so people can drizzle their own. Divide the salad onto plates and top each with one warm goat cheese medallion.

     

    Fresh Cherries

    Dried Cherries

    [6] Fresh off the tree (photo courtesy Washington Fruit Commission). [7] Finally: dried to enjoy year-long (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese).

     

    CHERRY HISTORY

    Closely related to plums and other stone fruits, cherries Prunus cerasus have been eaten since cave men plucked them off trees: Cherry pits have been found in Stone Age caves.

    The cherry is believed to have originated as a natural hybrid between two other Prunus genuses in the Iranian Plateau. The hybrids stabilized and interbred to form a new, distinct species. Extremely popular among Persians, the Greeks were cultivating them by 300 B.C.E.

  • Theophrastus, an early botanist and protégé of Aristotle, mentions them in his “History of Plants” in the 3rd century B.C.E., going so far as to mention that they had already been known to the Greeks for centuries.
  • Roman historian Pliny the Elder later writes that the decadent Roman general Lucullus brought cherries to Italy around 74 B.C. Some myths even tell of the old soldier committing suicide when he realized his supply of the sweet treat had lapsed.
  • George Washington was not the only U.S. leader to have a particular relationship with Prunus cerasus: Another founding father, Thomas Jefferson, grew cherries on his plantation at Monticello.
  • President Zachary Taylor had a less pleasant experience. He was reported to have developed dysentery after enjoying “cold cherries and milk” during a long, hot Independence Day celebration in 1850. Five days later, Taylor was dead, the cause listed as “gastroenteritis—inflammation of the stomach and intestines.”
  •  
    Alas, the health benefits of cherries could not come to his rescue.

    A superfruit with more than 12,000 ORAC units per hundred grams, cherries have a higher antioxidant capacity than grapes, oranges, plums, raspberries and strawberries combined.

    MORE ABOUT CHERRIES

    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHERRIES

     
    CHERRY TRIVIA

  • The English word cherry derives from the Latin cerasum, referring to an ancient Greek region near Giresun, Turkey from which cherries were first thought to be exported to Europe. The French word is cerise, the Spanish word is cereza, the Turkish word is kiraz, etc.
  • A cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, in Turkey, in 72 B.C.E.
  • Cherries were introduced into England at Teynham, near Sittingbourne in Kent by order of Henry VIII who had tasted them in Flanders.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Seafood Appetizer

    Raw Scallop Appetizer

    Scallop Crudo

    Scallop Crudo With Gold Leaf

    Seared Scallops With Figs

    Asian Scallop Crudo

    [1] A “flower” presentation from C Chicago (now Ocean Cut Chicago). [2] Scallop crudo with pistachio oil, pomegranate arils and fresh herbs, from La Pecora Bianca | NYC. [3] Arugula pesto and pink peppercorns plus gold leaf, at Sushi Roku | Katana. [4] Briefly seared with fresh figs at Sushi Roku | Scottsdale. [5] Asian-style with cucumber, red bell pepper sauce, cilantro and fresh lychee from Nobu | Los Angeles.

     

    We love sashimi, we love scallops, we love scallop ceviche, and we love how easy it is to make a beautiful raw scallop appetizer (or lightly seared, if you insist).

    If your family or guests don’t like the idea of “sashimi,” use the Italian word, for raw fish: crudo.

    Our very favorite is to slice sea scallops in half and plate them a bit of EVOO, a splash of yuzu, a garnish of salmon caviar or tobiko, and if we have them, a sprinkle of microgreens or minced chives.

    For a dinner party, with all the other demands of the kitchen, we like to start the meal with a flavorful appetizer that takes very little time to prepare.

    It’s a great dish for warm or cold weather.

    You can serve the scallops family-style on a platter, or individually plated. Either way, check out the garnishes below.

    For wine: Sauvignon blanc is a favorite of ours; but also look at gewürtztraminer, grüner veltliner, pinot blanc or riesling. Big, oaky chardonnays need not apply.

    SERVING SUGGESTIONS FOR RAW SCALLOPS

    First, add some color. Pale scallops on a pale plate need some visual excitement. Think red and green accents. When trolling the produce aisles, look for bright colors.

  • Caviar: salmon, sturgeon, tobiko or flavored whitefish caviar (the different types of caviar).
  • Heat: chile-infused olive oil, thin-sliced jalapeño, Thai or other red chile
  • Japanese accents: edamame, grated ginger, julienne of nori (seaweed sheets), nori komi furikake (seasoned seaweed flakes), seaweed salad, toasted sesame seeds, togarashi (spice mix).
  • Microgreens, sprouts, leafy herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, parsley) or minced chives.
  • Peppery vegetables: arugula, radish, watercress.
  • Red: diced red bell pepper, pink peppercorns, pomegranate arils, red chile flakes or finely minced red jalapeño.
  • Salad course: dress mesclun and red onion salad with olive oil and lemon; top with raw scallops and optional kalamata olives. Or, make a beet, cucumber or red cabbage salad, carefully flavoring with herbs and citrus zest. Place it in the center of the plate and surround it with the scallops.
  • Seasonal: ramps, red grapefruit, spring peas and pea shoots, raw corn kernels, rhubarb, etc.
  • Surf and turf: with cooked bacon, Chinese sausage (but nothing too spicy that will overwhelm the delicate scallop flavor).
  • Sweet: with mango, strawberries and an orange juice-sherry vinegar-olive oil dressing.
  • Three ways: sliced raw scallop, scallop tartare, ceviche or a grilled scallop.
  • More: black olives, capers, diced or sliced fruit, flavored sea salt, snow peas, sugar snap peas, wildcard (anything you like!).
  •  
    Next, pick your dressing:

    We like to put the dressing on the plate, and lay the scallops on top of it.

  • Dabs of puréed vegetable or pesto (think seasonal, e.g. pea or rhubarb purée in spring)
  • Basil or rosemary infused olive oil
  • Lemon vinaigrette or rice wine vinaigrette
  • Salsa cruda/pico de gallo or other favorite
  • EVOO, the more flavorful, the better
  • Infused olive oil (basil, garlic, rosemary, etc.)
  • Nut oil (hazelnut, pistachio, etc.)
  •  
    Depending on what you use, consider an optional lemon or lime wedge.

    Onto our featured recipe. Because it’s winter as we write this, we’re going seasonal with beautiful citrus.

    Any citrus works, but we especially like red grapefruit, blood orange and cara cara orange. How about a medley of all three?

     
    RECIPE: RAW SCALLOPS WITH CITRUS

    Ingredients

  • Sea scallops, the largest you can find
  • Citrus of choice
  • Sea salt
  • Seasoning of choice: chili flakes or fresh-ground pepper, fresh dill, other favorite
  • Optional condiment: extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional garnish: dill sprig or citrus zest
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the citrus and remove the pith. Slice the fruit into widths that will match the scallops (to the extent possible).

    2. RINSE the scallops and slice horizontally. Your can choose how thick or thin to slice them, but aim for four slices per scallop.

    3. PLATE the fruit and scallops. Depending on their comparative sizes, you can plate them as shown in the photo, or place the scallops atop the sliced fruit.

    4. DRIZZLE a small amount of the optional olive oil over the food, or in a circle or droplets around it. Sprinkle with sea salt and optional chili flakes. Garnish as desired (you can grate citrus zest over the dish, or sprinkle it around the rim of the plate) and serve.

     

    KNOW YOUR SCALLOPS

    Parts Of The Scallop

    Scallops are bivalves, a class under the family Mollusca. Bivalvia is a group of sea or fresh water creatures that also includes clams, cockles, mussels and oysters. They have no head, but consist of two shells attached by a hinge.

    There are three edible parts inside: the creamy-white muscle meat, the orange coral/roe, and the frilly membrane that encloses the muscle.

    Unless you buy live fresh scallops, you won’t see the coral or the membrane.

    If you do see live scallops (typically at the coast), buy them to experience the other two parts that, sadly, get thrown away when the meat is removed (because they can’t be sold for more money than it costs in labor).

    HOW TO BUY SCALLOPS

    It’s always best to buy seafood the day you plan to use it. When you buy fresh scallops, they should have a clean scent, no “fishy” aroma.

    The scallop meat also should be beige, not white.
     
    Watch Out For STP

    White scallops indicate treatment with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP). STP is a safe food additive that is used to prevent the scallops from drying out. A little STP is okay.

    But if the scallops look artificially white and/or are oozing a milky liquid, they’ve been over-treated with STP. This is deliberate, because it increases the weight of the scallops by causing them to absorb excess water.

    You want to pay for scallop meat, not water. Plus, if you cook them, over-treated scallops won’t brown when seared; and the delightful fresh flavor will be impacted. Another scallop-buying tip:

    Watch Out For “Jumbo” Scallops

    Avoid jumbo “scallops,” which are not scallops but less expensive skate wings. When scallops are in short supply (or for other unscrupulous reasons), fishmongers can punch round “scallops” from skate.

    In addition to their large size, another giveaway is that the scallops look like they’re falling apart.

    We like skate, but when you’re paying for scallops, be sure that’s what you get.

    Scallop Nutrition

    Scallops are low in calories: 31 calories per ounce, or just 93 calories for a three-ounce starter portion, which delivers 6 grams of protein.

    Scallops are a very good source of phosphorus and selenium, and a good source of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B12 and zinc.

     

    Live Sea Scallops

    Removing The Scallop From The Shell

    Scallop Coral

    [1] Fresh from the ocean: live sea scallops. Note that different environments produce different shells: smooth or ridged, and a variety of colors. [2] Removing the scallop from the shell (the membrane and coral have already been removed; photo courtesy AP | Robert F. Bukaty). [3] Scallop with its coral (but with the membrane removed; photo courtesy Fish On Friday.

     
    Seafood does have a bit of cholesterol (15 mg/ounce), but no saturated fat. Enjoy!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Omelet Roll

    Omelet Roll

    Baked Omelet Roll

    Ham & Cheese Omelet Roll

    Omelet Roll With Salad

    Pesto Omelet Roll

    Chinese Omelet Roll With Chicken

    [1] The inspiration for this article, from The Wholesome Fork. [2] With a bright garnish from Fabulessly Frugal. [3] Ham and cheese roll from Mangia Bene Pasta. [4] Omelet roll with a side salad, from All Recipes. [5] A chunky pesto roll from A Little Bit Of Spice. [6] A Japanese-style steamed chicken omelet roll, from Yi Reservation.

     

    Recently, we were reminded of one of our mother’s breakfast specialties: omelet rolls. She had two favorites: cream cheese and jelly, and cream cheese and smoked salmon.

    We loved them, but the one food we can’t seem to make well is an omelet (sorry, can’t explain it). Personally, we’ve never seen rolled omelets at restaurants, except for sushi restaurants, which slice the plain pan-cooked egg “loaf,” tamago (literally, grilled egg; but often called egg custard) into pieces for sushi or sashimi.

    When we landed on Esther Schultz’s website and saw the top photo, a re-visitation was required.

    Esther’s inspiration was to make a wrap sandwich using eggs in place of bread. Her turkey arugula omelet roll, is below.

    Esther prefers healthy recipes, so we’ll share her enthusiasm that “Just one of these turkey arugula omelet rolls contains a whopping 19 grams of protein. That is about the same amount of protein as you would find in 2 ounces of roast beef.

    “The calorie count is just 173 calories, making it an excellent protein-rich snack, or a delicious lunch when paired with a salad.

    “It is also a wonderfully child-friendly choice. You can let your children choose their own fillings and roll them themselves making them a fun, customizable lunch.

    “And the best thing about them? They only take 10 minutes to prepare.”

    They taste great at room temperature; and if you don’t like your omelet flipping skills, you can bake the omelet in a pan.

    However you make them, if you slice them you can call them pinwheels.

    IDEAS FOR FILLINGS

    We like the idea of omelet rolls for brunch, or instead of (or in addition to) tea sandwiches, even as cocktail nibbles. The choice of fillings are endless. Consider pairing your favorite:

  • Breakfast meat (bacon, ham, sausage) with lettuce and tomato (for example, a BLT roll)
  • Cheese, e.g. cheddar, pepperjack, swiss/gruyère
  • Cheese and vegetable(s), e.g. goat cheese and spinach
  • Deli meat, bacon or sausage with cheese, e.g. ham and swiss, bacon and cheddar
  • Dessert roll*, such as mascarpone or cream cheese with preserves
  • Cream cheese and jelly* (Mom used grape jelly)
  • Cream cheese or Boursin-type cheese (with garlic and herbs), smoked salmon and onion
  • Fruit roll*, such as mascarpone and berries or ricotta and shaved chocolate/chocolate chips
  • Leftovers roll, such as cranberry sauce and stuffing
  • Pesto roll, blending the pesto with ricotta or other soft cheese for body
  • Soft cheese roll, savory with herbs or sweet with preserves or dried berries, such as goat cheese, basil and dried cranberries
  • Sweet roll*, such as cream cheese and jelly
  •  
    Next, consider:

  • Garnishes: cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, toasted nuts
  • Savory toppings: barbecue sauce, pesto, salsa
  • Sweet toppings: fruit sauce, syrup
  •  
    For a light lunch, serve with:

  • Green salad
  • Raw or cooked vegetables (e.g., crudités with dip)
  • Soup
  •  
    RECIPE: TURKEY ARUGULA OMELET ROLL

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 5 minutes.

    Ingredients Per Roll

  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt, freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • Cooking oil
  • 1 slice deli meat (Esther uses reduced sodium turkey)
  • ½ cup arugula
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK the eggs with the salt and pepper.

    2. HEAT a skillet over a medium heat with a splash of oil. Add the eggs and cook slowly without stirring. When the eggs are mostly set, gently flip the omelet and cook for another 30 seconds.

    3. PLACE the omelet on a plate, topped with the turkey and arugula. Carefully roll the omelet, cut in half and serve.

    ________________

    *Add a pinch of sugar instead of salt and pepper

     

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: King Cake & Milk Punch For Mardi Gras

    Mardi Gras 2017 falls on Tuesday, February 28. It always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

    Celebrating the Carnival season, Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) has been a state holiday in Louisiana since the 19th century.

    WHAT’S MARDI GRAS?

    The Carnival season begins on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day (January 6th), and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods the last night before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

    Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” But the idea of rich foods is far more appealing.

    Why “Carnival?”

    Centuries ago, Catholics in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. It stuck, engendering huge Carnival events elsewhere, including New Orleans and Rio de Janiero.

    In New Orleans, parades and other celebrations begin the extended weekend before, starting Friday, February 24th.

    You don’t have to go all-out to celebrate, or even prepare a Jambalaya Bar for friends and family.

    Instead, invite them to drop by for a slice of King Cake, a glass of milk punch, or both.

    You can buy a King Cake—the traditional Mardi Gras buttery yeasted sweet cake, or make one with the excellent mix kit from King Arthur Flour. It includes the yeast cake mix, almond paste, white icing mix and decorating sugars.

    BYO plastic baby: Per, tradition the person who gets the piece of cake with the baby (or coin, or other token) gets good luck all year!

    IMPORTANT: Never bake anything plastic in a cake; it will melt and render the cake inedible (and for all we know, it can catch fire). The technique is: after the cake is baked and still warm (and more pliable), insert the good luck token into the cake from the underside, before icing.

    Here’s more on the history of King Cake.

    TO DRINK: MILK PUNCH

    Milk punch is in the category of drinks made with milk or cream: Brandy Alexander, Classic Ramos Gin Fizz, Grasshopper, Irish Coffee, Mudslide, Pink Squirrel, White Russian, and many others (hey—another idea for a themed cocktail party: cream-based cocktails).

       

    King Cake Mardi Gras

    King Cake Kit

    King Cake

    [1] [2] [3] These King Cakes were made from a mix kit from King Arthur Flour. The rectangular shape isn’t traditional, but you can be as creative as you like.

     
    Milk punch combines brandy or bourbon* with milk, sugar and vanilla extract, typically garnished with grated nutmeg. It is served cold and usually has nutmeg sprinkled on top.

    FOOD TRIVIA: sugar was added to cocktails to cover up the taste of the alcohol, as was milk.

     

    Milk Punch

    Nutmeg and Microplane

    [4] You can serve milk punch in whatever glasses you have (photo Michelle Banovic | Atwood Hotel | Chicago. [5] Don’t forget the nutmeg. We have a special nutmeg grater (like a peppermill for nutmeg); but you can use your Microplane (photo courtesy McCormick).

     

    It was popularized in the 17th century by Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing. At the time, all types of punch were served from a punch bowl.

    The milk punch of the era was made with cream curdled with lemon juice. Those recipes gave way to milk punches that use(d) fresh milk or cream, like egg nog—which is a milk punch enriched with eggs.

    Milk punches—egg nog or other—became holiday and celebratory traditions (for example, Mardi Gras).

    In modern-day New Orleans, milk punches vie as brunch drinks with the Bloody Mary, created in 1940 in New York City Bloody Mary history.

    There are as many recipes for milk punch as for anything else, but for Mardi Gras we serve up the recipe from Brennan’s, a favorite New Orleans restaurant since 1946.

    For a 17th-century-type recipe, try Benjamin Franklin’s recipe. He used brandy and included lots of lemon juice (which curdled the milk).

    MILK PUNCH RECIPES

    This, and other cognac-based milk punches, often use Napoleon brandy, a designation for a brandy or cognac aged at least five years. Feel free to use VSOP; with all the cream and sugar, the nuances of the Napoleon will be covered up.

    If you don’t like or don’t have brandy, you can substitute bourbon, rum, whiskey and even tequila.

    RECIPE #1: BRENNAN’S BRANDY MILK PUNCH

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces/4 tablespoons brandy or cognac
  • 4 ounces/1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 ounce/2 tablespoons simple syrup† (recipe)
  • 1/4 ounce/1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Plus

  • Cocktail shaker and ice
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

    2. SHAKE vigorously and pour into a chilled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

    RECIPE #2: BRANDY MILK PUNCH

    Here’s a recipe from New Orleans Online that uses more milk and less sugar.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 oz brandy or bourbon
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Cracked ice
  • Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the brandy, milk, and sugar with the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, and shake until frothy (about 1 minute).

    2. STRAIN into a double-old fashioned glass filled with cracked ice. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.
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    *Some people prefer gin, tequila or other spirit.

    †We prefer less sweetness, so reduce the simple syrup.

      

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