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TIP OF THE DAY: Kobe Beef Hot Dogs

Kobe Beef Hot Dogs

Kobe Beef Hot Dogs

American Kobe Beef hot dogs (photos courtesy Snake River Farms).

 

If Dad is a hot dog fan, consider treating him to what may be the world’s best hot dogs for Father’s Day: American-style Kobe beef hot dogs from Snake River Farms (also called Wagyu—the difference). The package label calls them “haute dogs.”

These gourmet dogs elevate the familiar to a new, delicious level. Snake River Farms American Wagyu hot dogs are crafted from 100% American Wagyu beef combined with a signature blend of spices, then slowly smoked over hard wood.

Even the casings are special: These are skin-on dogs with an authentic firm bite that’s the hallmark of a truly authentic hot dog (and will surprise you if you’ve only had skinless dogs).

You get what you pay for. One pound of franks, five pieces, is $16, or $13 for packages of four or more, at SnakeRiverFarms.com.

  • The hot dogs are Northwest source-certified Wagyu crossed with high quality Angus.
  • They are 100% beef and 100% natural, with no added hormones.
  • The dogs are smoked using authentic hardwoods.
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    BIG DECISIONS

    How do you serve the world’s best hot dog?
     
    First, pick a great bun.

  • We’re fortunate to have a supply of them in our area: brioche, ciabatta, and seeded hot dog buns. As an alternative, many people prefer Martin’s potato rolls to the standard squishy white rolls that fall apart when the moisture of condiments hits them.
  • We prefer King’s Hawaiian (a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), but often can’t find them (the supermarkets in New York City are teeny compared to suburban markets).
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    Next, select the condiments.

  • Keep them light the first time: You want to taste the quality of the beef, not the chili cheese [or whatever] topping.
  • We like an upgrade on old school. For mustard, we default to Dijon but prefer the greater complexity of Moutarde a l’Ancienne, a whole grain mustard (deli mustard is also a type of whole grain mustard) or Moutarde de Meaux Royale, the “king of mustards,” flavored with Cognac. Here are the different types of mustard.
  • For kraut, we’re fans of Farmhouse Culture Kraut. It’s too elegant to be called sauerkraut.
  • Finally, some pickle slices. Sweet pickle chips are a nice counterpoint to the kraut, mustard and spices and earthiness of the grilled dog.
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    If you’re looking for something more elected, check out yesterday’s tip on gourmet hot dog toppings.

     
    IF THIS DOESN’T WORK FOR YOU ON FATHER’S DAY, NATIONAL HOT DOG DAY IS ON JULY 25TH.
     
    THE HISTORY OF HOT DOGS.

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KOBE & WAGYU.
     
    ABOUT SNAKE RIVER FARMS

    Snake River Farms meats are served three-star Michelin-rated restaurants. Products include American Wagyu beef, fresh Kurobuta pork, ham (a NIBBLE favorite).

    The family-owned business began more than a decade ago with a small herd of Wagyu cattle from the Kobe region of Japan. The Wagyu bulls were crossed with premium American Black Angus to form a proprietary herd that has developed into one of the finest groups of Wagyu/Angus cross cattle in the U.S.

    From its Wagyu beef and Berkshire pork, Snake River Farms also makes gourmet hamburgers, sausages, frankfurters and hardwood-smoked bacon. All items are prepared with only the finest ingredients, and deliver an exquisite eating experience. We love them!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Toppings For Burgers, Brats & Franks

    Memphis Burger With BBQ & Coleslaw

    Burger With Avocado & Salsa

    Cheeseburger Surprise

    Top: The Memphis Burger, with cheddar, barbecued pork and cole slaw (photo courtesy Cheesecake Factory). Center: South Of The Border: avocado and salsa (photo courtesy Omaha Steaks). Bottom: Mac and Cheese Burger (photo courtesy Glory Days Grill.

     

    On Father’s Day, most people assume that dads wants to dine out. But a recent survey of 775 dads nationwide conducted by restaurant guide Zagat, says something different. While 80% of those surveyed say they love dining out in general, for Father’s Day more than half of them just want to stay home.

  • 52% of the dads claim they just want to stay home for a meal with their families.
  • 29% reveal that “having to go out at all” is their number one Father’s Day dining out complaint.
  • 14% “just want to be left alone.”
  • When asked about their ideal Father’s Day meal, only 14% prefer a high-end steakhouse.
  • 18% would enjoy going out to something easy and local.
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    Other complaints against include going out include dread of driving (traffic, parking), having to pay the bill at their own celebration, and having to dress up.

    The best path, of course, is to ask your dad what he wants. If that’s just burgers and franks in the backyard, you can still make it a special celebration with these ideas for creative toppings from ThePamperedChef.com, along with a few of our own.

    Pampered Chef is a great resource for high-quality kitchen wares and yummy recipes to make with them.
     
    SPECIAL TOPPINGS FOR BURGERS, BRATS, FRANKS & SAUSAGES

    It’s time to set aside the ketchup and mustard, says The Pampered Chef, and take burgers and hot dogs from meh to amazing.

    Whether dad prefers burgers made of beef, bison, chicken, pork, turkey or veggies—or prefers brats, classic hot dogs or sausages—plan a creative cookout.
     
    CREATIVE BURGER TOPPINGS

  • Bacon, Brie and grilled apples
  • Bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onions
  • Bacon and peach jam
  • Fried egg, pickled onions, baby arugula and barbecue sauce
  • Fried onion rings, queso (cheese sauce) and pickled jalapeños
  • Goat cheese, roasted red peppers and chutney
  • Grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce
  • Guacamole, chunky salsa and tortilla chips
  • Hummus or spinach dip, crumbled feta cheese and Kalamata olives
  • Kimchi and wasabi mayonnaise
  • Mac and cheese with sliced tomato, onion and crumbled tortilla chips
  • Pimento cheese spread and grilled onions
  • Provolone cheese, marinara sauce and fresh basil
  • Potato chips and onion dip
  • Sautéed onions and mushrooms
  • Sautéed spinach and mushrooms
  • Snow crab, avocado and pickled ginger
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    CREATIVE TOPPINGS FOR BRATS, FRANKS & SAUSAGES

  • Apple-cabbage slaw
  • Baked beans, diced red onion, shredded cheese, cilantro, optional salsa
  • Baked potato “bun” (put the bun in a well-done, split baked potato), bacon, sour cream & chives (The “Boise Dog”)
  • Carrot, cucumber and radish salad with herb mayonnaise (The “San Francisco Dog”)
  • Carrot salad with raisins and optional walnuts
  • Dilled cucumber salad with fresh parsley garnish
  • Caramelized onions and bacon with melted Gruyère
  • Chili, diced onions and shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Green chiles, red onions, red jalapeños and sour cream (The “Denver Dog”)
  • Crumbled potato chips and onion dip
  • Guacamole, cilantro and diced red onions
  • Ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and spicy mustard
  • Muffuletta olive salad (The “New Orleans Dog”)
  • Mustard slaw (half sauerkraut, half mustard or blend to taste), sweet pickle chips
  • Pesto, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, and grated Parmesan (“The Italian”)
  • Sauerkraut, shredded corned beef, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing (“The Reuben”)
  • Queso (cheese sauce), pickled jalapeños, shredded lettuce, diced tomato and sour cream (“The Mexican”)
  • Pickled vegetables (giardiniera) and mustard slaw
  • Pineapple relish, lemon-garlic mayonnaise and starfruit (substitute diced mango) (The “Honolulu Dog”)
  • Pizza sauce, melted or shredded mozzarella and sliced pepperoni
  • Scrambled eggs and sautéed mushrooms (“The Brunch Dog”)
  • Sweet pickle relish and shredded pepperjack cheese
  • Vidalia onion and peach relish (The “Atlanta Dog”)
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    Mexican Hot Dog

    Fancy Hot Dogs

    Top: A Mexican Dog with shredded Cheddar, onions, tomatoes and jalapeños; chili optional (photo courtesy Body By Bison). Bottom: Brat with dill pickles, pepperoncini and cilantro (photo courtesy Kindred Restaurant).

    ANOTHER THOUGHT

    Ask guests to suggest creative toppings in advance of the event. Create them and let everyone vote for the winner.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Jackfruit, Or, You Don’t Know Jack!

    Jackfruit

    Jackfruit On The Tree

    Top: Jackfruit sold online from Melissas.com in California. Bottom: Growing on the tree at the Regional Agricultural Research Center, Ambalavayal, India. The fruit grows directly out of the trunk or branches. The exterior is covered with spiny, knobby bumps and ripens to greenish yellow (photo Wikipedia).

     

    The jackfruit, (Artocarpus heterophyllus), is a member of the Moraceae botanical family, also referred to as the fig family or the mulberry family. This family of flowering plants grows in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, where jackfruit is widely cultivated.

    The jackfruit tree is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of the Indian Subcontinent, around present-day Kerala. The fruit is the largest tree-borne fruit: The largest reaching 80 pounds in weight, 35 inches in length and 20 inches in diameter.

    Jackfruit is nutritious: rich in carbohydrates, proteins, potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B, and C.

  • Due to high levels of carbohydrates, in some regions jackfruit is a welcome supplement to other staple foods in times of scarcity.
  • The flesh of the jackfruit is starchy and fibrous: a source of dietary fiber.
  • The presence of antioxidants (isoflavones, phytonutrients) suggest that jackfruit has cancer-fighting properties.
  • Jackfruit is also known to help cure ulcers and indigestion.
     
    In Southeast Asia, jackfruits average between 15 and 33 pounds. Our local Asian markets tend to carry smaller ones; otherwise, it would take the whole family to carry one into the kitchen. They are available year-sound and can be imported from Asia or Mexico. California has a nascent jackfruit industry.
     
    SO POPULAR, IT’S A NATIONAL FRUIT

    Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh. Alas, the U.S. has not selected a national fruit; only 16 nations have. Austria and Germany both chose the apple: Here’s the full list.

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    SHOULD YOU BUY A JACKFRUIT?

    Fresh jackfruit flesh is pink or yellow. When eaten fresh, it has hints of mango and melon. The flesh is soft, flaky (the petals) and sweet.

    Jackfruit may be a tropical delight, but it’s also a labor of love to carve out the edible fruit.

    The jackfruit is composed of hundreds to thousands of individual flowers, and it is the fleshy petals that are eaten. And they must be dug out of the flesh. (Don’t worry, you only have to remove a score or two of bracts*.)

    Our first jackfruit experience was exasperating: We didn’t see this YouTube video. Instead, we winged it, anticipating slicing it like a melon. Wrong!

    Our blundering effort to dig out the bract and perianth* “nuggets” shouldn’t stop anyone with patience (and the video) from carving one up for family an friends. But first, look at these photos of removing the edible fruit from the flesh. It’s like getting the arils out of a pomegranate, but not as easy.

    You can also buy canned jackfruit in brine, syrup or water; and dried jackfruit for snacking or cooking.

     

    IDEAS FOR JACKFRUIT DISHES

    Beyond a fresh fruit or fruit salad dessert or shack, you can use jackfruit to make mousse, pie, pudding, smoothies, sorbet and so on. You can purée it into a sauce for sweet or savory dishes.

  • Unripe jackfruit is similar in texture to chicken, and an excellent vegetarian substitute for meat. It is sometimes referred to as “vegetable meat.”
  • Jackfruit seeds can be roasted and boiled.
  • The fruit pulp is sweet and used to make bubble tea, candies, chips, dessert, jelly, ice cream, pickles, preserved fruit and wine.
  • In Mexico, jackfruit is cooked down past the compote stage, effectively candied (an ancient way of preserving fruits there).
  • In Thailand, jackfruit snacks are made by stuffing sticky rice into the empty seed holes.
  • In the Philippines, you can find jackfruit ice cream, or a dessert of coconut cream with the raw jackfruit.
  • In the U.S., jackfruit is often a meat substitute: in “crab” cakes, curries, lettuce wraps, salads and sandwiches.
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    You’ll have no trouble finding jackfruit recipes on line. For starters, check out these jackfruit recipes.
     
    HOW SHOULD YOU PREPARE JACKFRUIT?

    Jackfruit can also be enjoyed unripened and cooked. The flesh of the Jackfruit can be used in desserts, as well.

  • While you can buy a green fruit and let it ripen on the counter (or cook it), we prefer to buy a ripe fruit for dessert. Ripe jackfruits have a yellowish skin and spikes that have softened. The fruit should yield under gentle pressure.
  • A ripe jackfruit has a distinctive, musky fragrance.
  • A green jackfruit can be boiled, or used as a meat substitute.
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    BEYOND FOOD

     

    BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich

    BBQ Jackfruit

    BBQ jackfruit has become popular among vegetarians and vegans. Top: A pulled BBQ Jackfruit sandwich. Here’s the recipe from MoreVeganBlog.com. Bottom: No prep work required: Just look for ready-to-heat-and-eat BBQ jackfruit from Upton’s Naturals, a producer of prepared vegan foods. They suggest using it on a sandwich topped with coleslaw, in salads, wraps or over rice.

     
    Jackfruit tree bark and wood are used for fuel, industrial products and timber. Jackfruit leaves, bark, flowers (bracts, flowers, stalks, stems), latex and seeds and are used in traditional medicines.

    Ready to add jackfruit to your culinary experience? The best way to start is to read up about buying and preparing it. Here are instructions with beautiful photography from SheSimmers.com.
     
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    *A perianth is the outer part of a flower, consisting of the calyx (sepals) and corolla (petals). A bract is a specialized leaf.
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Use Egg Molds Or Cookie Cutters For Pancakes

    Whether Dad likes pancakes or fried eggs for breakfast, make Father’s Day special: Shape his breakfast with egg/pancake molds.

    If you can’t pick up molds in time, you can use cookie cutters. Since they don’t have handles, you’ll need a spatula, kitchen tongs and dexterity to lift the cooked eggs.
     
    HOW ELSE CAN YOU USE THE MOLDS?

    We’ve molded:

  • Cheeses that fry without melting: halloumi (Greece), paneer (India), queso blanco or queso para frier (Mexico)
  • Chocolate, melted and shaped into a medallion for topping an iced cake
  • Dough (use the egg molds as cookie cutters in a pinch [the edge is not as sharp for cutting as a cookie cutter])
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Meat loaf
  • Rice or other grains
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    WHAT WOULD YOU MOLD?

    We’d love to have a longer list of foods to shape with our egg/pancake molds.

     

    Chocolate Heart Pancakes

    Fried Egg Molds

    Top: I [heart] you, Dad (photo and recipe from The Baker Chick). Bottom: A set of molds from Neon, available on Amazon. The handles fold down for easy storage.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Pick The Best Live Lobster

    Live Lobster

    Steamed Lobster

    Portuguese Lobster

    Top: One sign of a good lobster: long antennae (photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea. Center: Mmm, mmm: a lobster Platter at North River Lobster Company. Bottom: Different lobster have different colors, both live and when cooked. This one is from Portugal (photo courtesy Vermillion Restaurant).

     

    Planning to buy live lobsters for National Lobster Day (June 15th) or Father’s Day (June 19th)? Here are tips from Executive Chef Cenobio Canalizo of Michael Jordan’s The Steak House N.Y.C.

    HOW TO PICK THE BEST LIVE LOBSTER

    1. FEEL THE SHELL. There are hard-shell and soft-shell (new-shell) lobsters. It’s just a function of whether the lobsters have recently molted (shed their shells), an annual process.

  • On a soft-shell (new shell) lobster, the claws will look pristine. On a hard-shell lobster, the claws will have have scrapes from banging against rocks over the course of the year.
  • The meat in soft-shells is a bit sweeter and more tender, but a lobster with a softer shell is likely to have more water weight and less meat. They’re not as hardy, so they don’t travel as well as hard-shell lobsters. Similarly, hard-shell lobsters have more meat, but they can be a bit tougher.
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    2. GIVE IT A SNIFF. A live lobster should not emit any odor.

    3. PICK A LIVELY LOBSTER. The more active the lobster, the more tender the meat. If the lobster is limp when you pick it up, it’s on its last legs. If it isn’t moving at all, it may be dead. Here’s an easy test: If you straighten out the tail, it should swiftly curve back under the body.

    4. LOOK FOR LONG ANTENNAE. The longer the antennae, the fresher the lobster. Lobsters in a holding tank will often eat each other’s antennae. If a lobster has been there for a long time, its antennae can be nibbled down—often to the base.

    5. DON’T MIND THE COLOR. The top shells are usually dark green or greenish-brown, but they can be black, blue, orange, red, white or yellow. The underbody of a live lobster, particularly the claws, are usually a vibrant red.

    6. SIZE MATTTERS. The larger the lobster, the tougher the meat. Chef Cenobio prefers lobsters under two pounds for the most tender and flavorful meat.

    7. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. There are many different species of lobster in the world’s oceans, but Chef Cenobio says the best come from Canada and Maine.

    8. GENDER DOESN’T COUNT. Most aficionados agree that there is no difference in flavor or texture between male and female lobsters. Females have a small, hard, edible roe called the coral (because of its color). These are the unfertilized eggs of the female. Both genders have the soft, greenish, edible tomalley, which serves as both the liver and pancreas.

    9. PAY ATTENTION TO PRICE. Live lobster costs between $9 to $11 dollars per pound. If the price is lower, often the quality is lower as well.
     
     
    LOBSTER RECIPE IDEAS and LOBSTER TRIVIA: Check ‘em out.

     
    ABOUT MICHAEL JORDAN’S THE STEAK HOUSE N.Y.C.

    Michael Jordan’s is uniquely situated, on the balcony overlooking the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal. In addition to fine food, you can enjoy the beautiful Concourse architecture and the elaborate ceiling, picturing the constellations. The Terminal, which opened in 1913, is an example of “They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.”

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavor Your Water With Fresh Fruits

    cam

    You can buy a bottle of water flavored with extracts, or you can extract the flavor of fresh fruit by yourself.

    Whether we’re home alone or expecting guests, we usually flavor a pitcher of water with fresh fruits (or add your own mint or lemon extract into tap water). The subtle infusion from the fresh fruit, in our humble opinion, is more delicious than any bottled water flavored with fruit extracts.

    Plus, there’s lots of eye appeal.

    FOOD 101

    There are natural extracts, artificial extracts and essential oils.

    • A natural extract (a.k.a. natural flavor) is derived from a fruit or vegetable, their juices, and other sources most home cooks don’t address (barks, herbs, flowers, roots, etc.). The plant may be cold pressed, macerated or soaked in alcohol
    • An artificial flavor (a.k.a. artificial extract or favoring, as in imitation maple extract and imitation vanilla extract), does not come from a plant or animal source, and instead is generated in a lab by combining different food-safe components into a variation of the natural flavor. They are less expensive than natural extracts, and also used by people who avoid any type of alcohol (e.g., in halal cuisine).
    • An essential oil is intensely flavored compared to a natural extract, and the production is more complex: it is obtained through distillation, to yield what is known as the plant essence—a very small amount of volatile liquid (the essential oil), which is why they are typically more expensive than regular liquid extracts. But you need to use less of them.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE FLAVORED WATER INFUSED WITH FRUIT

    At a minimum, use two items from the fruits and herbs lists, i.e., two fruits or one fruit and one herb. You can combine as many as you like: The basic recipe in our home includes cucumber, citrus, strawberries and an herb.

    Ingredients Per Pitcher (64 Ounces)

    • 50 ounces of water, tap or bottled spring water
    • 1 cup seasonal fruits (see list below)
    • Handful of herb sprigs, to taste (basil, lavender, lemon verbena, mint, rose geranium, rosemary, thyme—use only one of these)
    • Optional: 1 large cucumber, unpeeled, sliced
    • Optional spices: cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, sliced ginger root, vanilla beans

    Preparation

    1. SLICE the fruits into wheels, retaining the peels (berries don’t need to be sliced).

    2. PLACE all ingredients in a 64-ounce jug or pitcher. Chill for at least one hour or overnight (much longer and the fruit will begin to break down).

    3. SERVE. If guests are pouring their own, i.e. when grilling outdoors,

    Vegetable Water Pitcher

    Orange Mint Water

    Apple Juice & Fresh Fruit

    Top: Cucumber, peaches and basil leaves, served at Olio | NYC. Center: Oranges and mint, at Bonnie Plants. Bottom: As a treat for kids, you can add use carbonated water and apple juice with fresh fruit (photo Pisco Porton).

    In the winter, cucumber, mint and citrus slices (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange/clementine (seed free?)/tangerine slices are good.You can also vary the herbs. Fresh herbs, grown in greenhouses, are available year-round.

    SEASONAL FRUITS

    • Spring and Summer Fruits: berries, cucumber, melon, pineapple, stone fruits (especially peaches).
    • Winter Fruits: apples, berries*, cherimoya, any citrus (red grapefruits and blood oranges are our favorites, but lemons, limes, mandarins† and oranges† are always welcome), cucumber, dried berries (cherries, cranberries) grapes, kiwifruit, lychee (another favorite of ours), mango, papaya, persimmon, pomegranate arils.

    Avoid fruits that will cloud the water, e.g. bananas and figs.

    WHAT IF YOU HAVE NO FRESH FRUITS AT HAND?

    While there’s no visual impact, you can use extracts to flavor water. Experiment with a dropper and juice glass of water to see what you like.

    • Use 1/2 teaspoon extract in a quart of water; taste and adjust as desired.
    • You can combine two flavors, e.g. banana and strawberry, lemon and anise, chocolate and cherry. You can be as basic (e.g., lime extract) or as creative (e.g., anise and hazelnut, brandy or rum and cherry, lavender) as you like.

    MORE INFUSED WATER IDEAS

     

     

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    *Raspberries and strawberries are available year-round.

    The difference between mandarins and oranges: http://blog.thenibble.com/2015/12/22/tip-of-the-day-seasonal-fruit/.

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Or Savory French Toast

    French Toast Recipe

    French Toast Casserole

    Savory French Toast

    Top: French Toast smothered in sautéed apples (photo courtesy Peapod). Center: French Toast Casserole: even easier than regular French Toast (photo courtesy Driscoll’s). Bottom: Savory French Toast (photo courtesy Castello Cheese).

     

    Making perfectly round pancakes is not among our cooking skills. Long before we discovered the gadget known as a pancake batter dispenser, we’d switched to the easier and foolproof French Toast: eggs, milk, white bread or challah, and a pinch of cinnamon.

    Even easier is Baked French Toast (center photo), also known as French Toast Casserole and French Toast Soufflé. Place slices of bread in a baking dish, pour the egg-milk mixture on top, and bake. The benefits: it’s neater (no soaking the bread by hand), all servings are ready at once, and it looks elegant when brought to the table.

    Here’s a recipe that elevates French Toast, substituting brioche for regular bead and sweetened condensed and evaporated milks for whole milk. You can fry it in a pan or bake it in a casserole dish. Yummers!

    Today we recommend two special recipes for Father’s Day: a sweet French Toast with sautéed apples (“Apple Pie French Toast”—top photo) and French Toast with a variety of savory toppings (bottom photo).

    THE HISTORY OF FRENCH TOAST

    The dish known in the U.S. as French Toast has roots at least as far back as ancient Rome, where it was a sweet dish. Pain perdu (lost bread), the modern French name for the dish, was once called pain à la romaine, Roman bread.

    You may read elsewhere that that French Toast was a food of the poor, a way to scrape together a meal from stale bread*. However, recipes from ancient and medieval times denote that it was fare for wealthy people.

    Those recipes used white bread, a luxury, with the crusts cut off (even more of a luxury). Costly ingredients such as spices (cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg), sugar and almond milk are found in numerous recipes. The cooked bread was topped with costly honey or sugar. And cookbooks themselves were the province of the privileged: Only wealthy people and clergy learned to read.

    Poor people ate brown bread, much cheaper because the wheat endosperm did not have to be milled and painstakingly hand-sifted through screens to create refined white flour. (Ironically, this whole wheat bread was more nutritious.)
     
    RECIPE #1: COOKED FRUIT TOPPING FOR FRENCH TOAST

    It’s easy to toss fresh berries onto French Toast. We also like diced mango.

    But for an Apple-Pie-Meets-French-Toast effect, make a quick cooked fruit topping. You can make the topping a day in advance, set it on the counter to warm to room temperature as you make the French Toast, and give it a quick zap in the microwave.

    You can substitute two cups of bananas, blueberries, cherries, peaches, pineapple, etc. for the apples.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon butter (more as needed)
  • 3 large apples (Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, etc.), peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes (yields 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • Preparation

    1. MELT the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat; add the apples, cinnamon and salt. Cook for 5-6 minutes until tender, then stir in the maple syrup. If you prefer very soft apples, cook them for 10-12 minutes before adding the maple syrup.

    2. COOK for 1 minute more. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
     
    SAVORY FRENCH TOAST

    Ditch the maple syrup or other sweet condiments. Even if you like sweet French Toast, you’ll like it savory, too.

    Here’s the basic recipe, topped with sautéed cherry tomatoes and shaved Parmesan. Our favorite variations:

  • Blue cheese and sautéed apple slices with a pinch of thyme to garnish
  • Feta and Kalamata olives with an oregano garnish
  • Ham and cheese French Toast sandwich
  • Sautéed onions and chicken livers with a pinch of sage (Dad’s favorite)
  • Smoked salmon, caviar and crème fraîche with a pinch of dill (Mom’s favorite)
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    *The poor used stale bread for crostini (toast) or topped it with soup (the dish was originally called “sops,” referring to the bread or toast used to sop up the hot food), stew or melted cheese (a “Welsh Rabbit”) to soften the bread and make a meal.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Look At “Gourmet” Chicken & Waffles

    Chicken & Waffles, originally a hearty breakfast, can be had any time of the day in modern times.

    With counterpoints of crisp and soft, salty and sweet, it became a special occasion dish of Southern soul food cuisine. It’s still a special-occasion dish: one that many people enjoy on Father’s Day. You can make a traditional waffle, topped with butter, a piece of fried chicken and a pour of maple syrup.

    Or you can get inspiration from chefs whose re-interpretations are shown in the photos in this article—including Steak & Waffles (recipe below).

    Who created the first Chicken & Waffles? The exact origins are lost to history, but here’s what we know:
     
    THE HISTORY OF CHICKEN & WAFFLES

  • Waffles are an ancient food, dating back to the rustic hotcakes cooked on stones in the Neolithic Age (6000 B.C.E. to ca. 2000 B.C.E.).
  • In ancient Greece (1100 B.C.E. to 146 B.C.E.), cooks made flat cakes, called obleios (wafers), between two hot metal plates. They were primarily savory in nature, flavored with cheeses and herbs.
  • By the Middle Ages, Middle Ages (400 C.E. to 1000 C.E.) obloyeurs—specialist waffle cooks—make different types of oublies, as the word has evolved from the Greek. In the 12th century a clever obloyeur made an iron cast of a pattern that mimicked a honeycomb—which remains the waffle design today. Soon after, the word gaufre, from the Old French wafla meaning “a piece of honeybee hive,” became the French word for waffle.
  • Waffles entered American cuisine in the 1600s with the arrival of Dutch colonists.
  • Thomas Jefferson brought the first waffle iron to America in 1789 (along with the first pasta machine), when he returned to Virginia following his service as Minister to France. Waffles became a fashionable food—an alternative to flapjacks—and the combination began appearing in cookbooks shortly thereafter [source]. The pairing was enthusiastically embraced by slaves, for whom chicken was a delicacy. As a result, Chicken & Waffles became a special meal, often served for Sunday breakfast before a long day in church. However…
  • The recipe does not appear in early Southern cookbooks, such as “Mrs. Porter’s Southern Cookery Book,” published in 1871 and “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,” published in 1881 by former slave Abby Fisher, generally considered the first cookbook written by an African American. The lack of a recipe for the combination of chicken and waffles in Southern cookbooks from the era may suggest a later origin for the dish.
  • In the early 1800s, hotels and resorts around Philadelphia served waffles with fried catfish. Such establishments also served other dishes including fried chicken, which gradually became the topper of choice due to catfish’s limited, seasonal availability.
  • The Pennsylvania Dutch version is a plain waffle topped with pulled, stewed chicken and covered in gravy. It was a common Sunday dish by the 1860s. By the end of the 19th century, the dish was a symbol of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
  • Waffles at home: In 1909, an ad for Griswold’s Waffle Iron promised, “You can attend a chicken and waffle supper right at home any time you have the notion if you are the owner of a Griswold’s American Waffle Iron.”
  •    

    Chicken &  Mini Waffles

    Gourmet Chicken & Waffles

    Chicken & Waffles & A Fried Egg

    Top: Fried chicken with mini waffles at Chicago’s Honey Buttered Fried Chicken. Center: A gourmet approach at the Lazy Bear in San Francisco: Gaufres de Chasse, a Liege-style waffle cut into fingers, with fried game hen, Sauce Chasseur, maple syrup, nameko mushrooms and fines herbes. Bottom: Chicken & Waffles with a fried egg at Hearthstone Kitchen.

  • Chicken & Waffles was an established dish in Harlem’s African-American community by 1930.
  •  
    Here’s the full history of waffles.

     

    Chicken & Stuffed Waffles

    Chicken & Waffles

    Steak & Waffles

    Top: A nod to Pennsylvania Dutch-style Chicken & Waffles: a stuffed waffle topped with adobo pulled chicken. Here’s the recipe from InHarvest.com. Center: Classic Chicken & Waffles with a side of peaches and cream (photo Arnold Inuyaki | Wikipedia). Bottom: Steak & Waffles from BeefBoard.org.

     

    RELATED FOOD HOLIDAYS

    We found scant information on an International Chicken & Waffles Day: the first Friday following the first Thursday in October. It seems to have been established for fun in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and not exactly an official holiday.

    And, it may have been abandoned: Founded in 2003, the website, ICAWD.org, has been abandoned; and the Facebook page, established in 2011, hasn’t been updated since 2014.

    If you have any news about International Chicken & Waffles Day, let us know! You can plan your Chicken & Waffles celebrations around:

  • International Waffle Day, March 25
  • Maple Syrup Saturday, the 3rd Saturday in March
  • National Chicken Month, September
  • National Fried Chicken Day, July 6
  • National Maple Syrup Day, December 17
  • National Waffle Day, August 24
  • National Waffle Week, the first week in September
  •  
    RECIPE: STEAK & WAFFLES

    Ingredients

    This recipe, from The Beef Checkoff, makes enough for a big party (24 servings). The waffles are stuffed with blue cheese. It’s a home run!
     
    For The Batter

  • 6 cups prepared waffle batter
  • 1½ tablespoons dried tarragon
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Plus

  • 24 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • Top quality blue cheese salad dressing* (see Step 4 under Preparation)
  •  
    For The Demi-Glace

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup shallots, minced
  • ½ cup sherry vinegar
  • 6 cups veal demi-glace
  • 6 tablespoons coarse-grain mustard
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  •  
    For The Steak

  • 24 ribeye cap steaks (8 ounce portions)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grapeseed oil, as needed
  • 24 cups Swiss chard, wilted
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all batter ingredients. Mix together and refrigerate, covered.

    2. PREPARE the demi-glace: In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the vinegar and simmer for 4 minutes. Add the demi-glace and bring to a boil. Whisk in the mustard, reduce the heat and simmer 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

    3. COOK the steaks: Season with salt and pepper. You can then sauté or grill them. To sauté, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a sauté pan until hot. Add the steak; sear on both sides until well browned. Place in a 500°F oven and cook to medium rare or desired doneness. Carve across the grain into thick slices.

    4. MAKE the waffles: Using a waffle iron outfitted with the mini waffle plate (4 waffles per plate), ladle ¼ cup waffle batter into 2 sections of the waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer’s directions. Remove the waffles and immediately push in the center of each waffle with a spoon, to create a small well. Fill with 1 ounce of blue cheese and sandwich the waffles together, making sure the waffle depressions line up so it fits back into the iron. Place the waffle sandwich in the waffle iron and cook 1 minute or until cheese is melted.

    Editor’s note: We took a much easier route with Step 4, making a waffle sandwich from two regular-size waffles. We filled the sandwich with our favorite blue cheese salad dressing*, topped with crumbled blue cheese. We cut the sandwich in half diagonally, set one half on the plate and propped the other perpendicular to the first.

    5. PLACE 1 cup of Swiss chard in the center of a plate; fan the sliced steak on top. Place a stuffed waffle on top of the steak; ladle the demi-glace on and around it.

     
    _____________________
    *Our all-time favorite is the amazing blue cheese dressing from Kathryn’s Cottage Kitchen. But it’s hard to find (here’s the store locator) and expensive to ship. We buy a year’s supply at a time! If you don’t want to make your own (here’s a recipe), look for __ Among the mass brands, Wishbone Blue Cheese is the best.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate Negroni Week

    Negroni Cocktail Recipe

    Negroni Cocktail

    Top: A Negroni, elegantly presented in a stemmed glass at The Heathman Restaurant & Bar in Portland, Oregon. Bottom: A fun presentation at Irvington in New York City.

     

    It’s Negroni Week, an opportunity to try a classic cocktail, created in 1919.

    Negroni Week is a worldwide holiday, launched in 2013 by Imbibe Magazine and Campari, an Italian apéritif wine. It was begun not only to celebrate one of the world’s great cocktails, but as an effort to raise money for charitable causes around the world. Visit NegroniWeek.com to see how you can participate.
     
    NEGRONI HISTORY

    As the story goes, the cocktail was invented at the Bar Cassoni (now the Caffè Cavalli) in Florence, Italy by bartender Fosco Scarselli. He created it for a regular patron, Count Camillo Negroni, who had asked for an Americano* cocktail strengthened with a dash of gin instead of the usual soda water.

    Scarselli mixed the drink, used an orange slice garnish instead of the lemon garnish of the Americano, and presented his client with the first “Negroni.”

    The cocktail took off, and the Negroni family quickly founded Negroni Antica Distilleria in Treviso, producing Antico Negroni, a ready-made version of the drink.

    But the Negroni was unknown in the U.S. until 1947 when Orson Welles, working in Rome, wrote about it. This sent Americans to bars demanding Negronis.

     
    RECIPE: NEGRONI COCKTAIL

    The Negroni is made in 1:1:1 proportions of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. There are many variations of the cocktail today. Check out these in L.A. Magazine.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.25 ounces gin
  • 1.25 ounces Campari
  • 1.25 ounces Martini sweet vermouth
  • Garnish: orange twist or slice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a shaker with ice.

    2. STRAIN into chilled coupe or serve over ice in a chilled rocks glass.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

     
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE COCKTAIL RECIPES.

    Use the Gourmet Foods pull-down menu at the right, and also check out the Cocktails section on the main site of TheNibble.com.
     
    _____________________
    *An even older cocktail, dating to the 1860s, the Americano was created in Novara, Italy by Gaspare Campari at his Caffè Campari. The ingredients: Campari (an apéritif wine, invented by Gaspare in 1860), sweet vermouth and club soda, with a lemon garnish. The cocktail was originally known as the Milano-Torino because of its ingredients: Campari, the bitter liqueur, was made outside of Milano (Milan) and Punt e Mes, the vermouth, was made in Torino (Turin). Campari was originally colored red with carmine dye, derived from crushed cochineal, a plant-sucking insect. In 2006, Gruppo Campari ceased using carmine in favor of artificial red coloring. [Source]

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Homemade Pork Rinds

    Homemade Pork Rinds

    Pork Rind Garnish

    Pork Cracklings

    Top: Don’t these homemade pork rinds look so much better than store-bought? Photo and recipe courtesy PaleoLeap.com. Center: Pork rinds are also a delicious garnish for soups and salads. Photo courtesy Culinary Vegetable Institute. Bottom: Pork cracklings are made from the skin and fat; pork rinds are the skin (rind) only. Photo courtesy Padaek.com. Check out the recipe.

     

    As we think ahead to Father’s Day, we’re mulling over some homemade versions of popular snack foods from potato chips to pork rinds.

    Pork Rind Appreciation Day, established by Rudolph Foods (which sells pork rinds), is held on Super Bowl Sunday. But we like the idea of homemade pork rinds and a cold beer on Father’s Day.
     
    PORK RINDS VS. PORK CRACKLINGS

    Pork rinds (chicharrónes) are made from pork skin, with the attached fat removed.

    That’s the difference between pork rinds and pork cracklings. Cracklings (called grattons in Cajun cuisine) include the fat that adheres to the skin. Because of the extra fat, cracklings are greasier, denser and a bit chewy. Pork rinds are airy like cheese puffs, and they dissolve in your mouth.

    Here’s an idea: Buy pork belly to make grilled pork belly or pork belly skewers, and turn the skin into pork rinds. You can also buy the skin only from butchers (it’s quite inexpensive).

    Be sure to use skin within three days of purchase, as its high moisture content means it can spoil quickly. The finished pork rinds will keep for a long time if cooked long enough for all the fat to be rendered out.

    Check out this video.
     
    RECIPE: HOMEMADE PORK RINDS

    Here’s a recipe for homemade pork rinds from Paleo Leap, which serves it as a crispy Paleo Diet snack with dilled mayonnaise or tartar sauce.

    Some pork rinds are deep-fried. Others, like this recipe, are roasted (the difference between roasting and baking).

    With homemade pork rinds, you control the salt. You don’t need to use any salt at all; the pork rinds will still be delicious. You can supply a salt shaker for those who must have it.

    Or, you can choose another seasoning. Garlic? Pepper? Curry?

    Ingredients

  • Pork skin
  • Optional: salt
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper to make clean-up easier.

    2. SLICE the skin into 1″ x 2″ strips—longer if you like—and place the strips on the baking sheet. Roast for 1-1/2 hours, then taste a piece. Many recipes call for 3 hours, but Sébastien Noël of Paleo Leap advises: “…most of the time they’re ready after 1.5 hours. You want them to be crispy but you don’t want them to be hard as a rock.”

    3. REMOVE from the oven and cool until they’re warm to the touch; enjoy them warm.

  •  
    Scrunchions, popular in Newfoundland, are pieces of fried fat (no skin).

     
      

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