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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Tip Of The Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Finger Limes

An import from the Australian outback, finger limes have quietly entered the realm of American produce.

At the international Citrus Exhibition in 2004, California avocado grower Jim Shanley discovered this unusual Australian fruit. Envisioning endless opportunities with restaurateurs and home cooks, he planted the first trees in the U.S. in 2006. Five years later he harvested Shanley Farms’ first crop, giving them a proprietary name, Citriburst Finger Limes.

Finger limes, discovered growing wild in Australia, are a micro-citrus, growing on thorny shrubs. The fruit is cylindrical, 1.5 to 3 inches long and variously colored, including rosy-pink and green. Similarly, the pulp color varies, as you can see in the photo at right.

The pulp is described as citrus pearls or citrus caviar. The tiny beads can be squeezed out of the finger lime and used in any place that would employ lemon or lime juice or zest, from seafood to desserts. An advantage: The pearls are a charming and decorative garnish.

   

Finger-Limes-shanleyfarms-230

Finger limes, filled with juicy “pearls.” Photo courtesy Shanley Farms.

 

And they’re fun. The juice bursts from the citrus pearls when you bite into them, the flavor a bright and refreshing combination of lemon, lime and grapefruit.

In California, the season is typically from late June/early July through January. But thanks to the very dry and mild winter this year, the trees have been fruiting since early May. Get yours now!

 

Oysters_w_Finger_Limes-shanleyfarms-230

Add a burst of fresh citrus to anything. Here,
oysters get a snazzy finger lime garnish.
Photo courtesy Shanley Farms.

 

RECIPE: OYSTERS WITH FINGER LIME MIGNONETTE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 12 finger limes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 oysters, such as Malpeque, Kumamoto, or Belon
  • Crushed ice or rock salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE rice vinegar,shallot, finger lime pearls and pepper in a small bowl. Cover and chill for an hour.

    2. SCRUB the oysters under cold water with a stiff brush to remove the dirt. Next, fold a durable thick cloth several times to create a square; this will steady the oysters as you shuck them. Using the towel as a mitt, place the oyster, cup-side down in the palm of your towel-covered hand with the hinge facing you; have a small bowl handy to catch the delicious juice.

    3. INSERT the tip of an oyster knife or dull butter knife as far into the hinge as it will go. With gentle force, twist the knife back and forth to pry the shell open. Using the knife, cut the muscle away from the top shell, bend the shell back, and discard it. Run the knife underneath the oyster to detach it completely, but leave it in its shell. Tip out the briny liquor into the bowl and pour it back over the shucked oysters.

     

    4. NESTLE the oysters in a bed of crushed ice or rock salt to keep them steady. Spoon the finger lime mignonette on top and serve.

    Find more finger lime recipes at ShanleyFarms.com.

    TYPE OF LIMES

    How many different lime varieties have you tried? Check out the different types of limes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Orange Blossom Water

    orange-blosssom-water-cortas-amz-230

    Orange blossom water is a by-product of
    distilling orange blossoms for oil. Look for
    the Cortas brand. Photo courtesy Cortas.

     

    June 27th is National Orange Blossom Day. The small, white, delicate blossoms, once a favorite flower in bridal bouquets, are used to make orange blossom water (also called orange flower water), a clear, aromatic by-product of the distillation of fresh bitter orange blossoms.

    While the distillate, orange blossom oil*, is used in perfumery, the orange blossom water, delicately scented like the flowers and not the fruit, is used as a calming personal and household fragrance. It is added to skin toners, bath water and spritzed from an aromatizer onto fabric and into the air (our grandmother sprayed it on sheets when ironing).

    And it’s used in foods and beverages, today’s focus. You can add orange blossom water to:

  • Baked goods and desserts: cakes and cookies, candies and confections, custards and puddings, scones…and also in crêpe or pancake batter. It pairs well with almond, citrus, cream and vanilla and cream, lemon and other citrus flavors vanilla.
  • Cocktails and beverages: in mineral water, the Ramos Gin Fizz, café blanc (recipe below) and orange blossom mint lemonade.
  • Middle Eastern, North African and Indian recipes (add some to couscous!).
  •  
    You can buy a bottle in some specialty food stores, Greek and Middle Eastern markets and online. The Cortas brand, from Lebanon, is a favorite among those who use a lot of orange blossom water.

     

    *Used to make perfume, the oil is called neroli oil. In 1680, Anne Marie Orsini, the Italian duchess of Bracciano and princess of Nerola, introduced to orange blossom perfume. She so loved the spicy aroma with sweet and flowery notes that she used the fragrance to perfume everything—her bath, her clothes, her household furnishings. The fragrance became named for her (but we found no explanation of why it’s called neroli, not nerola). The fragrance was also a favorite in the court of Elizabeth I of England.

     

    RECIPE: CAFÉ BLANC, LEBANESE HOT ORANGE BLOSSOM DRINK

    Café blanc, “white coffee” is a refreshing infusion made from boiling water, orange flower water and optional honey sweetener. Thanks to Victoria of BoisDeJasmin.com for her recipes with orange blossom water. There are links to others below, but we’ll start with this easy beverage recipe.

    “Café blanc is a bit of a misnomer because this Lebanese drink contains no coffee at all,” says Victoria. “It’s just hot water flavored with orange blossom, and it’s like sipping air perfumed with flowers. Mixed with water, orange blossom tastes not just floral, but also green, citrusy, spicy and warm. The first sip reveals a zesty freshness, but what lingers is the taste of honeyed petals.”

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon honey
  •  
    Preparation

     

    cafe-blanc-orange-blossom-drink-boisdejamin-230

    Hot orange blossom water: so simple to make, so refreshing. Photo courtesy Bois de Jasmin.

     
    1. ADD the orange blossom water to the boiling water, stir and taste. If you’d prefer the drink sweet, stir in the honey.

    2. FOR a cold drink, do the same with mineral water or lemonade.
     

    MORE WAYS TO USE ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER

    Fruit Desserts. Orange blossom pairs especially well with strawberries and apricots—cakes and tarts, compotes and jams, drinks. Sprinkle apricots with sugar and lemon juice and bake them in a 400°F/200°C oven until the sugar caramelizes and apricots soften. Drizzle with orange blossom water and serve hot or cold. Make a refreshing drink of apricot juice mixed with orange blossom water and sparkling water.

    Ice Cream. Soften a container of vanilla ice cream slightly, and add 4 teaspoons of orange blossom water per pint (or to taste). Mix well, chill and serve. If you make your own ice cream, add orange blossom water to the custard before freezing it.

    Puddings and Ice Cream. Anything creamy—custard, mousse, panna cotta, rice pudding–can be enhanced with orange blossom water gratefully. Victoria uses it to give an adult twist to rice pudding: Rice Pudding with Vanilla and Orange Blossom.

    White Chocolate. Mix orange blossom water into white chocolate-based sauces and desserts, or into cream to make a delicious tart filling. Whip heavy cream with sugar, add a few drops of orange blossom water, fill tart shells and top with fresh berries.

    Read the full article and the discussion threads for much more that you can do with orange blossom water.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pudding, A Cool Dessert

    It’s getting hot and humid in our neck of the woods, and frozen desserts are a welcome way to cool down.

    But what about the pudding family? A chilled dish of pudding is a cool summer dessert.

    This group of comfort foods includes banana, butterscotch, chocolate, coffee, salted caramel, vanilla…just name your favorite flavor and you can find a recipe for it.

    You can use instant pudding or make it from scratch, which, in our opinion, tastes even better. Here’s a from-scratch pudding recipe, which can be used to make any pudding flavor.

    Try this recipe for banana pudding from QVC’s David Venable. It starts with a base of instant vanilla pudding. We tried it both ways; and yes, we preferred our homemade vanilla pudding version.

    The difference in labor between from-scratch and instant is not great: Instant pudding mixes simply save you the time of measuring the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and salt. Some added stirring is required, but it’s no big deal.

    Says David, “This dessert is impossible to mess up. While it always turns out beautiful, it’s really just dumping a bunch of yummy ingredients into a bowl. Make it extra special by serving it in a footed glass bowl.”

    You can prepare the pudding up to two days ahead of time.

       

    banana-pudding-davidvenableQVC-230

    Banana pudding with vanilla wafers and a twist: chopped nuts. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    NANA’S “NANNER” PUDDING

    We substituted pistachios for the walnuts in Nana’s recipe. If you don’t want nuts, try mini chocolate chips or a salted caramel layer.

    We also made fresh whipped cream instead of using commercial whipped topping. Sorry, David: Our Nana would never approve of the shortcuts taken by your Nana.

    Ingredients

  • 3 packages (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding
  • 4-3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) sour cream
  • Fresh whipped cream or 1 container (8 ounces) whipped topping, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, divided (or other nut of choice)
  • 1 box (12 ounces) vanilla wafer cookies
  • 9 or 10 bananas, sliced
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Optional: salted caramel
  •  

    assorted-puddings-east&westYotelNYC-230

    On the menu at East & West at the Yotel
    New York: A posse of puddings.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX the pudding and milk according to the package directions and then add the vanilla.

    2. FOLD in the sour cream, 4 ounces of whipped topping, and 1/4 cup of chopped nuts. Refrigerate until the pudding is set or is needed (you can prepare the recipe in advance up to this point).

    3. COMBINE the lemon juice with the banana slices in a medium-size bowl; set aside.

    4. ALTERNATE layers of wafers, bananas, pudding, and optional salted caramel, in large bowl or casserole dish, ending with the pudding.

    5. DOLLOP the remaining whipped topping, followed by 6 or 7 crushed wafers and the remaining chopped walnuts. Refrigerate until set. If using fresh whipped cream, wait until serving to add the whipped cream, wafers and nuts.
     
    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

     

    PUDDING HISTORY

    “Pudding” means different things in different cultures, and at different points in history. The creamy, rich dessert that Americans call pudding is more closely related to custard, which is made with eggs and dates to the Middle Ages. Today in the U.K., pudding typically refers to dessert but can be a savory recipe, such as Yorkshire pudding.

    The first puddings enjoyed by Greeks and Romans were similar to sausages, and for most of history, puddings were this type of boiled, meat-based dish. It was often stretched with other ingredients: The “pease porridge” in the old English nursery rhyme was a simple boiled pudding of pease meal, a roasted flour made from yellow field peas.

    The word “pudding” is believed to derive from the French boudin, meaning a small sausage. In these Medieval European puddings, encased meats similar to sausages were steamed or boiled to set the contents. Blood sausage and haggis are examples that are still “on the menu” in the U.K. These recipes helped to stretch a small amount of meat to feed a family.

    By the latter half of the 18th century, traditional English puddings no longer included meat; they were still boiled, but the finished product was cake-like (like plum pudding). Our creamy, modern puddings descend from this tradition of steaming sweet ingredients.

    According to Wikipedia, “The distinction between European custard and American pudding became muddled sometime in the 1840s.” Food was plentiful, so traditional boiled puddings were no longer necessary to feed a family.

    At the same time Alfred Bird, an English chemist, invented custard powder as an alternative to egg thickeners. Soon after, Americans began using the imported custard powder and other cornstarch derivatives as thickeners for custard-type desserts. Puddings no longer required the addition of fresh eggs to thicken, and this is where modern, eggless American puddings diverged from traditional egg custards.

    Instant pudding first appears in the U.S. in 1949. By 1952, Royal Pudding & Pie Fillings, still manufactured by Clabber Girl, advertised: “New homogenized Royal Instant Pudding makes your favorite desserts turn out better than ever before. New Royal Instant Pudding is completely different!”

    Our Nana still made pudding from scratch; but the rest is pudding history.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Watermelon Mint Lemonade Cocktails, Slushies & More

    Thanks, Bolthouse, for the sample of Watermelon Mint Lemonade. This limited-edition summer cooler delivers a trifecta of flavors that just sing “Summer!”

    You’d be surprised how quickly the 52-ounce bottle disappeared.

    As good as it was, we felt the need to try it with fresh mint and fresh lemon juice. (The Bolthouse ingredients include water, watermelon juice concentrate, natural flavor, dragonfruit purée*, mint extract and beta carotene for color.)

    While we hurried out to buy more Bolthouse, we also purchased unminted watermelon lemonade from Whole Foods Market (365 Brand, organic and kosher certified) and infused it with fresh mint.

    Then, we created the more arduous from-scratch recipe below. (It’s arduous getting all the seeds out of the watermelon, even the “seedless” variety.)

    Learn more at Bolthouse.com.

     
    *The label says that the dragonfruit is for color, but dragongruit flesh is white with tiny black seeds! Here’s a photo. Maybe they use the peel?

       
    watermelon-Mint-Lemonade-bolthouse-230

    Get it while supplies last, or prepare to make your own. Photo courtesy Bolthouse.

     
    RECIPES WITH WATERMELON LEMONADE

    Perhaps the best thing we did with the two “replacement” bottles of watermelon lemonade was play with different ways to use them.

  • Cocktails: Just add gin, tequila or vodka.
  • Fruit Soup: For a refreshing dessert or snack, dice or slice any fresh fruits and place them in a mound in the center of a soup bowl. Pour the watermelon lemonade around the fruit. Garnish with optional chopped mint or basil.
  • Slushie: Add scoops of sorbet to a tall glass of watermelon lemonade. We couldn’t find watermelon sorbet, so we tried lemon, orange and raspberry. They all work.
  •  
    What would you do with watermelon lemonade?

     

    watermelon-mint-lemonade-bootranch-texas-230

    Rosy and refreshing: watermelon mint
    lemonade. Photo courtesy Boot Ranch | Texas.

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON MINT LEMONADE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings

  • 6 cups 1-inch cubes seedless watermelon (from a 5-pound melon)
  • 10 ounces lemon juice (WFM used bottled lemon juice, we squeezed fresh juice)
  • 6 cups water
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar†
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 large bunch mint
  • Garnishes: lemon wheels, mint sprigs, watermelon wedges
  •  
    †If the watermelon is very sweet, reduce the sugar. You can always add more.
     
    Preparation

    Our method of preparation is a departure from the original Whole Foods recipe. To get more mint flavor, we infuse the mint in the water before making the beverage.

     

    1. INFUSE mint in water. Reserve 20 sprigs for garnish, then crush the remaining mint and place in a pitcher with the water. Allow to infuse for a few hours or overnight.

    2. PURÉE watermelon and lemon juice in blender until smooth, working in batches as necessary.

    3. TRANSFER to a large container. Add water and sugar; stir until dissolved.

    4. SERVE: Pour over ice in tall glasses. Garnish with mint and thin slices of watermelon and/or lemon, as desired.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Raw Scallops

    Annisa - New York, NY

    Scallops and salmon caviar, by chef Anita Lo.
    The garnish: sliced radishes, pea purée,
    crispy fish skin and torn basil leaves. Photo
    by Noah Fecks | Annisa NYC.

     

    We’re surprised that we don’t find raw scallops at more American sushi bars (they’re called hotate-gai in Japanese).

    Bay scallops or sea scallops, nigiri (on a pad of rice) or gunkan-maki (in a cup made of toasted seaweed), once you taste their sweet, raw flesh, you may never want cooked scallops again!

    Raw scallops are a Spanish tradition as well; but instead of with rice, sushi-style, they’re marinated in citrus juice: ceviche.

    And modern chefs are putting their own spin on them, serving scallops cru (that’s French for raw).

    Anita Lo, executive chef/owner of Annisa in New York City, makes a preparation we adore: raw scallops, salmon caviar/roe (ikura) and seasonal garnish: spring pea puree.

    At Local 121 in Providence, Rhode Island, chef Tyler Demora gives scallops cru a garish of herbes de Provence and a seasonal spin with rhubarb, English peas and shoots (photo below).

    In the hot weather, there’s nothing more refreshing than a dish of raw scallops. No “recipe” is required—and no cooking, either. Serve them whole or sliced with your choice of garnishes.

     

     

    SERVING SUGGESTIONS FOR RAW SCALLOPS

  • Caviar: salmon, sturgeon, tobiko or flavored whitefish caviar (the different types of caviar).
  • 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 or leafy herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, parsley) or chives.
  • Peppery vegetables: arugula, radish, watercress and a thin-sliced jalapeño or Thai chile garnish.
  • Salad course: dress kale and red onion salad with olive oil and lemon; top with raw scallops and optional kalamata olives.
  • Surf and turf: with cooked bacon.
  • 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, diced or sliced fruit, snow peas, sugar snap peas, wildcard (anything you like!).
  •  

    raw-scallops-JonathanEdwardsWinery-chefcollaborativeFB-230

    Sliced raw scallops with seasonal garnish. Photo courtesy Chefs Collective.

     

    Next, pick your garnish(es):

  • Dabs of puréed vegetable or pesto
  • Basil or rosemary infused olive oil
  • Lemon vinaigrette or rice wine vinaigrette
  • Salsa cruda/pico de gallo or other favorite
  •  
    Serve with an optional lemon or lime wedge.

    Delicious!

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Eat Less Red Meat

    People who love red meat tend to like large amounts of it. A one-pound strip steak? Sure, that’s a “normal portion,” just like a pint of ice cream.

    You can cut back on the ounces by enjoying your steak in a taco or on a salad. A few slices equal the three-ounce portions that nutritionists and healthcare professionals recommend, and you still get your steak delivered in a delicious way.

    Steak tacos and steak salad are also ways to stretch leftover steak or other grilled meat (we especially enjoy a grilled lamb salad).

    RECIPE: STEAK TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE SLAW & AVOCADO SALSA

    This recipe is from QVC’s David Venable. David suggests: “A fun way to make sure you get a beer that will go with your meal is to shop by region. If you’re cooking a big Italian meal, try an Italian beer. If you’re going Mexican, stock up on your Coronas. Try this recipe with a dark Mexican beer (like Negra Modelo) to match the heartiness of the steak.”

    Ingredients

    For The Steak

  • 1 2-pound-to-2-1/2 pound flank steak
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 package (10-12 count) 8″ soft taco shells
  •    

    steak-tacos-target-230jpg

    Steak tacos let you enjoy steak—just less of it. Photo courtesy QVC.

     

    For The Chipotle Slaw

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons canned chipotle in adobo (or more, to taste), chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 cups shredded cabbage
  •  
    For The Avocado Salsa

  • 3 avocados, diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • 1/2 of a large jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/3 fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  

    steak_salad_McC-230

    Steak salad (recipe below) provides the opportunity to enjoy steak and salad, while cutting back on the steak. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE the marinade. Combine the garlic, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, jalapeño and chili powder in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely minced.

    2. PLACE the flank steak in a large zip-top plastic bag, pour in the marinade and squeeze out any excess air before sealing. Allow the steak to marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours; do not exceed 8 hours.

    3. PREPARE the slaw. Combine the sour cream, milk, chipotle and vinegar in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the cabbage and stir until it’s completely coated with dressing.

    4. PREPARE the salsa. Combine all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl; toss until combined. If kept refrigerated, this can be made up to 2 hours prior to serving.

    5. GRILL the steak: Preheat a barbecue or indoor grill and set the temperature to medium high. Grill the steak for 8 minutes on each side, or to your desired degree of doneness. Let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting, diagonally across the grain, into thin slices.

    6. ASSEMBLE the tacos. Place 4-5 slices of steak in a taco shell, top with approximately a quarter cup of salsa and the same amount of slaw.

     

    RECIPE: STEAK SALAD

    Hearty greens, including spinach, peppery arugula and bitter watercress, are good counterpoints to the steak. In the summer, a garnish of berries adds seasonal festiveness.

    Ingredients

  • Mixed greens (try mixed greens, including arugula and baby spinach)
  • Kalamata olives (or olive of choice)
  • Raw mushrooms, sliced
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Halved cherry tomatoes or beefsteak tomato wedges
  • Grilled steak, lamb or other meat
  • Optional: blue cheese or goat cheese
  • Optional: blueberries or other berries
  • Vinaigrette (soy sauce mixed with rice wine vinegar makes a delicious, low-calorie dressing)
  •  
    Also check out this Thai Beef Salad.

    Find more of David Venable’s recipes at QVC.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. TOSS salad greens with tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, olives and dressing.

    2. LAYER sliced steak atop the salad. Garnish with crumbled or sliced cheese and berries.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Buy Peaches

    bowl-summerset-peaches-froghollow-230

    Summerset peaches. Photo courtesy Frog
    Hollow Farm.

     

    This tip is from Pearl Driver, the marketing director at Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood, California (in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area) and Farmer Al Courchesne, a co-owner and farmer-in-chief.

    “Before I started working with Frog Hollow Farm,” says Pearl, I would carefully inspect each individual piece of fruit and select what I believed was the sweetest and most ready-to-eat—only to go home and find out how off the mark I was!”

    She now shares her “insider tips” on how to select peaches.

    HOW TO BUY PEACHES

    There are three main characteristics help to identify a sweet, juicy, ready-to-eat peach: color, touch and skin texture.

     
    Color

    The real color you want to look for is not the rosy blush but the background color of the fruit. It should be deeply golden, not pale yellow.

    The rosy red color is deceptive: Our brains are genetically evolved to think that the color red implies delicious and sweet. As a result, peach growers have bred the red color into their peaches. It doesn’t ensure superior fruit.

     

    Touch

    You can tell if a peach is ripe by a gentle yet firm squeeze with your fingers (not hard enough to bruise it). If there’s a little bit of a give, it means that the fruit is almost ripe—but not quite.

    Leave that peach on the kitchen counter for another 2 to 3 days, until it is soft to very soft.

    Skin Texture

    This is the most telling of all three characteristics, and the one least known.

    You can tell that a peach is ready to eat by looking for signs of shriveled skin around the stem end. Those wrinkles indicate a really ripe peach.

    The wrinkles develop during ripening, when water starts to evaporate from the fruit’s porous skin. As the peach starts to dry up, the flavors intensify.

    Now you’re ready to head out and pick out some peaches.

     

    organic_peaches_autumnFlame-froghollowfarm-230

    Autumn Flame peaches. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm.

     
    Storage

    When you get them home, here’s a grower’s tip: Always store fruit on your kitchen counter in such a way that no two pieces of fruit are in contact with each other.

    In other words, it’s better to line them up on the counter than have them touching each other in a fruit bowl.

    A final suggestion:

    Pearl’s favorite fruits from the farm are the O’Henry peach and the Flavor King pluot. So keep checking the website and when you find them, treat yourself to a box.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Caramelized Onion Dip

    We grew up making Lipton’s California Dip: a package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix combined with a pint of sour cream. It was simple and soul-satisfying, a party standard with potato chips and pretzels (and later, crudités, pita chips and other chips).

    The recipe appeared in 1954, two years after the Lipton soup mix hit the market. The recipe “spread through Los Angeles faster than a canyon fire.” (Source: American Century Cook Book, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997,p. 24.)

    Newspapers printed the recipe and onion soup mix sales soared. Beginning in 1958, Lipton printed the recipe on every box of the soup mix.

    As with the creator of German Chocolate Cake, a recipe that spread like wildfire throughout Texas, the identity of the original recipe developer has never been established. So if your grandmother or great-grandmother lived in L.A. in 1954 and claimed to have invented Lipton California Dip, it could be so.

    Over the years, from-scratch onion dip recipes have taken turns with chives, leeks and scallions. Caramelized onions also have their fans.

       

    heluva-good-dip-beauty-kalviste-230

    Chips and caramelized onion dip. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    In fact, this summer, you can pick up Heluva Good! Limited Edition Roasted Garlic & Caramelized Onion Dip. Caramelized onions have more sophisticated flavor than the dried onion chips in the Lipton mix, from the sweetness of the caramelized onions and the roasted garlic layered in.

    Heluva Good is a specialty producer of sour cream and sour cream-based dips. Find out more, and see the other dip flavors, at HeluvaGood.com.

    You also can make your own caramelized onion dip. The recipe below takes just 10 minutes, plus chilling time.

     

    caramelized-onions-pompeianFB-230

    Caramelized onions are delicious with any
    savory foods. Photo courtesy Pompeian | FB.

     

    RECIPE: CARAMELIZED ONION DIP

    Ingredients For 2 Cups

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Chips, crudités, pretzels or other dippers
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT oil in medium saucepan or frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sage. Cover and cook until onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.

    2. WHISK together mayonnaise and sour cream in a medium bowl to blend. Stir in the cooled caramelized onions, salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until flavors blend, about 2 hours.

     

    MORE WAYS TO USE CARAMELIZED ONIONS

    We consume them as quickly as we make them!

    Often, we eat them right from the pan or as they’re cooling. But check out these uses for caramelized onions.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Plate With Bacon

    cheese-carpaccio-w-bacon-castello-230

    A cheese course with bacon. Photo courtesy
    Castello.

     

    Thanks to Castello, a Danish producer of classic cheeses, for this cheese plate inspiration. The cheese is sliced into thin, carpaccio*-like slivers.

    For the cheese course, Castello used its Castello Alps Selection Classic, an Alpine-style cheese (the category of semifirm cheeses that includes Appenzeller, Gruyère, Raclette and Vacherin Mont-d’Or, among others).

    It’s easy to make.

  • Fry up the bacon, ideally a specialty brand such as Edwards, Niman Ranch or Nueske.
  • If you have a mandoline, use it to slice the cheese into carpaccio-like pieces. Otherwise, slice cold cheese as thinly as you can.
  • You can turn it into the salad course by adding some lightly dressed mesclun or frisée.
     
    *Carpaccio is a dish of raw meat or fish, thinly sliced or pounded thin and typically served mainly as a first course.

  •  
    RECIPE: CHEESE PLATE “CARPACCIO” WITH BACON

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 ounces (100 g) semihard cheese, very thinly sliced
  • 4 bacon slices, cooked and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 lemon wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ARRANGE cheese and optional salad on two plates. Add bacon.

    2. TOP with capers. Sprinkle cheese with olive oil and fresh-cracked pepper.

    3. ADD the lemon wedges and serve.

     

    WHAT IS SEMIHARD CHEESE?

    Semihard is a classification of cheese based upon the body of the cheese, based mainly on the moisture content. Most semihard (and hard) cheeses are pressed during production to remove moisture. As they age, they become firmer, more pungent and crumbly.

    What about semisoft cheeses? Semisoft cheese contains more than 45% water, while semihard cheese contains 30% to 45%. A cheese can start as semisoft, then move to semihard as it ages and moisture evaporates.

    Because semihard cheeses contain less moisture than the soft and soft-ripened types, they hold their shape much better and can be easily sliced—a requirement for the recipe above.

    The semihard category includes a broad range of textures and ages, from semifirm to very firm and from cheeses that are only weeks old to those aged for several months or more.

     

    castello_alps_classic-230

    Use Castello Classic or other Alpine-style or semihard cheese. Photo courtesy Castello.

     
    Examples include Abondance, Appenzeller, young Asiago, Beaufort, Caciotta, Caerphilly, Cantal, Cheddar, Cheshire, Colby, Comté, Danbo, Derby, Edam, Emmental, Fontina, Fontinella, Gjetost, Gloucester, aged Gouda, Gruyère, Idiazabal, Jarlsberg, Lancashire, Leicester, Leyden, Manchego, Provolone, Raclette, Saint Nectaire, Tête de Moine, Queso Blanco and Wensleydale, among others. So you’ve got lots of choices for the cheese plate “carpaccio.”

    Find more of the different types of cheese in our Cheese Glossary.

    Learn more about Castello cheeses, and check out the delicious recipes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Flavored Seltzer

    homemade-raspberry-seltzer-oregonraspandblackcomm-230

    Homemade raspberry seltzer. Photo courtesy
    SpoonfulOfFlour.

     

    If you like flavored seltzer, here’s how to make an even more flavorful version of it, courtesy of the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Commission. The inspiration came from fruit grower Cheryl Ferguson of Plum Granny Farm in King, North Carolina.

    You can use fresh or frozen and leave the drink unsweetened, like commercial flavored seltzer. Or, add sugar to turn it into…soda pop.

    You can use different fruits; although tender berries dissolve the most easily into syrup.

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE FLAVORED SELTZER

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • Optional: 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (or other fruit)
  • Seltzer or club soda, chilled (club soda has added salt; see glossary below)
  • Optional: squeeze of lime or lemon juice
  •  

    Preparation

    1. BOIL water. If using sweetener, add the sugar and stir to dissolve.

    2. ADD raspberries and stir. Cook 3 to 5 minutes. Strain out seeds or purée as desired. Let cool (store in the fridge in a closed container).

    3. MAKE drink: Add 2-3 tablespoons of raspberry syrup to a glass (more if desired). Add cold seltzer water and optional lemon or lime juice. Stir gently and serve straight up, or over ice.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLUB SODA & SELTZER

    A Glossary Of Sparkling Waters

    Any effervescent water belongs to the category of carbonated water, also called soda water: water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved, causing the water to become effervescent. The carbon dioxide can be natural, as in some spring waters and mineral waters, or can be added in the bottling process. (In fact, even some naturally carbonated waters are enhanced with more carbonation at the bottling plant.)

    Carbonated Water

    In the U.S., carbonated water was known as soda water until after World War II, due to the sodium salts it contained. While today we think of “soda” as a carbonated beverage, the word originally refers to a chemical salts, also called carbonate of soda (sodium carbonate, sodium hydroxide, sodium monoxide). The salts were added as flavoring and acidity regulator, to mimic the taste of a natural mineral water.

    After the war, terms such as sparkling water and seltzer water gained favor.

     

    fruit-salad-soda-polarseltzer-230

    No time to make your own flavored seltzer? Just toss in fresh fruit. It will infuse very slightly. Photo courtesy Polar Seltzer.

     
    Except for sparkling mineral water, all carbonated water/soda water is made from municipal water supplies (tap water). Carbonated water was invented in Leeds, England in 1767 by British chemist Joseph Priestley, who discovered how to infuse water with carbon dioxide by suspending a bowl of water above a beer vat at a local brewery. Carbonated water changed the way people drank liquor, which had been neat, providing a “mixer” to dilute the alcohol.

    Club Soda

    Like the original carbonated water, club soda is enhanced with some sodium salts.

    Fizzy Water

    Another term for carbonated water.

    Seltzer or Seltzer Water

    Seltzer is carbonated water with no sodium salts added. The term derives from the town of Selters in central Germany, which is renowned for its mineral springs. The naturally carbonated spring water—which contains naturally dissolved salts—has been commercially bottled and shipped around the world since at least the 18th century. When seltzer is made by carbonating tap water, some salts are added for the slightest hint of flavor. And that’s the difference between seltzer and club soda: Club soda is salt-free.

    Sparkling Water

    Another term for carbonated water/soda water. It can also refer to sparkling mineral water, which is pumped from underground aquifers. Note that not all sparkling mineral waters are naturally effervescent. Many are actually carbonated from still mineral water. Some are lightly carbonated by nature, but have extra carbonation added at bottling to meet consumer preferences.

    Two Cents Plain

    Another word for soda water, coined during the Great Depression, when plain soda water was the cheapest drink at the soda fountain.

    MORE TYPES OF WATER

    Check out our Water Glossary for the different types of water, including the difference between mineral water and spring water.

      

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