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TIP OF THE DAY: The Perfect Baked Potato

We really miss our mother’s baked potatoes. Mom was a potato fan and made a simple preparation every night, rotating among baked, boiled with parsley butter, French fried and mashed (for Sunday brunch, hash browns; for special occasions, potato pancakes).

Among this group, what we no longer come across—or make at home—is her baked potato with a super-crisp skin. We liked the outside as much as the inside. But in the interest of time, we’ve been baking our potatoes in the microwave. They’re O.K., but not memorable. In fact, they steam rather than bake, impacting the texture. This also happens when you wrap a potato in foil before baking.

So yesterday we turned on the oven and made baked potatoes with Mom’s favorite toppings: butter and sour cream topped with fresh-ground black pepper and minced fresh chives.

 
RECIPE: BAKED POTATO WITH A CRISP SKIN

Ingredients

  • Russet potatoes (Idaho baking potatoes)
  • Olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Toppings (see below)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Rinse the potatoes under running water and pat dry. Pierce each potato 5 times with the tines of a fork.

    2. RUB the potatoes with oil, sprinkle with salt and a bit of pepper, and place on a baking sheet/in a baking pan;

    3. BAKE for 45 minutes and test for doneness: a cake tester should go in without resistance. If you want even crisper skin, raise the oven to 400°F for the last 15 minutes,

    4. REMOVE from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting a vent across the top.

    5. SERVE with a variety of toppings.
     
    BAKED POTATO TOPPINGS

    One of our favorite party foods is a baked potato bar with lots of different toppings:

     

    Baked Potato & Toppings

    Baked Potato Toppings

    Top: Fresh from the oven and waiting to be topped. Bottom: Different baked potato toppings. Can you choose just one? Photos courtesy Idaho Potato Commission.

  • Butter, plain Greek yogurt, sour cream
  • Chili, guacamole
  • Diced broccoli florets, caramelized onions, corn kernels, sautéed mushrooms, sliced jalapeños, sliced olives, sliced scallions
  • Crumbled bacon, crumbled cheese (blue, feta, goat), grated Jack or Cheddar cheese
  • Herbs (basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley), hot pepper sauce, salsa, stewed tomatoes
  •  
    Or, try these recipes:

  • Bruschetta Baked Potato: 2 medium tomatoes diced, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, 2 cloves (1 teaspoon) of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss together in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes. Optional: Add chopped chicken to Bruschetta topping.
  • Classic Baked Potato: 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon fresh chives chopped. Mix all ingredients except 1 tablespoon of chives in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes. Garnish with remaining chives.
  • Lemon Herb Yogurt Baked Potato: 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Mix together in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes. Garnish with dill sprigs.
  • Mediterranean Baked Potato: 1 container (6 ounces) feta cheese, 1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced drained olives, 1 medium tomato diced (optional), salt and pepper to taste. Toss together in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes.
  • Pico de Gallo Baked Potato: 1/2 cup pre-made pico de gallo or mix 1 medium tomato diced, 1 small onion finely chopped, 1 green onion chopped, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and spoon on top of potatoes. Garnish with extra cilantro.
  •  
    MORE BASKED POTATO IDEAS

  • Beets & Feta Cheese Baked Potatoes
  • Chicken Pot Pie Baked Potatoes
  • Leftovers-Stuffed Baked Potatoes
  • Zig Zag Baked Potatoes
  •  
    CHECK OUT THE HISTORY OF POTATOES & THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POTATOES

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Burrata Salad For Spring

    Admission: We are addicted to burrata, a filled ball of mozzarella. When we discovered it 20 years ago, it was only carried by a few U.S. cheese shops, in cities with direct flights from Italy, its place of origin.

    Today, America’s cheese makers are turning out their own burrata: just as creamy, milky and delicious as the imports. You don’t have to hunt for it, either: It’s at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Markets!

    Cheesemakers from coast to coast are delivering their burrata to stores and restaurants. Burrata is made by (among others) Belfiore, DiStefano and Gioia in California; Maplebrook Farm in Vermont; Lioni Latticini in Brooklyn; and the retailer DiBruno Bros. in Philadelphia. In the middle of the country is Belgioioso Cheese of Wisconsin, possibly the largest domestic producer of burrata.

    It is also made by restaurant chefs. One has provided a recipe is below).

    One of the more popular ways to enjoy burrata is in the center of a green salad, with crusty garlic toast. We can eat the whole burrata on salad for lunch.

    RECIPE: SPRING BURRATA SALAD

    This Burrata Salad from Good Eggs in San Francisco is oh-so-delicious. It takes just 5 minutes active time, 10 minutes total time.

    Ingredients For 1-2 Servings

  • 8 ounces burrata cheese
  • 1 cup of basil, chives, parsley or a mixture
  • 3 cups of baby greens
  • 1 watermelon radish, peeled and sliced thinly into half-moons
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 slices of sourdough bread
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  •    

    Burrata Salad  Recipe

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/burrata spring salad goodeggs 230r

    Top: A popular Italian burrata salad with frisée, radicchio and prosciutto, at David Burke Fromagerie. Bottom: Spring salad at Good Eggs.

     
    Preparation

    1. DRAIN the burrata in a colander lined with a paper towel—you don’t want to pierce the skin of the burrata, but you do want any extra whey (the watery stuff) to drain off. While it drains…

    2. TOAST the sourdough bread until golden brown. Rub the finished toasts with a halved garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil.

    3. FILL a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Add the herbs, radish and greens and toss with the dressing.

    4. SLICE or tear the burrata into large chunks over the top of the greens. Serve with the garlic toast and a peppermill for freshly-ground black pepper.
     
    Springtime Variations

    Add or substitute other spring:

  • Asparagus
  • Cardoons, fiddlehead ferns, nettles
  • Chives, garlic scapes, ramps
  • Fennel, radicchio
  • Morel mushrooms
  • Pea greens, peas, pea pods, snow peas
  •  
    We love the combined flavors of tomato and burrata. When vine-ripened tomatoes aren’t in season, use cherry or grape tomatoes, sundries tomatoes or roasted red pepper (pimento).

    Lovers of Caprese Salad can add some fresh basil.

     

    Burrata Salad

    Burrata Dessert

    Top: from Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City. Bottom: Peaches with burrata, honey and pistachio nuts from Eat Wisconsin Cheese. Here’s the recipe.

     

    BURRATA FOR DESSERT

    You can also serve burrata for the cheese course or for dessert. Add spring fruits: blackberries, black mission figs, lychees and strawberries.

    Drizzle with honey and garnish with pistachios or other favorite nut(s). It’s so elegant, yet so easy to prepare.

    May we suggest including a glass of dessert wine? They often have peachy, honey notes that are a perfect pairing.
     
    WHAT IS BURRATA?

    Burrata is a “filled” mozzarella, a specialty of the Apulia region of Italy, the “heel of the boot.” The word means “buttery” in Italian.

    A hollow ball of buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala) is filled with panna, cream that contains scraps of mozzarella left over from mozzarella-making. It seems like very fine-grained ricotta.

    Cut into the ball and the cream oozes out. While both buttery and creamy it is not overly rich; just overly delicious.

    Burata imported from Italy it’s traditionally wrapped in a green leaf, the fronds of an Italian plant called asphodel, in the lily family.

    The leaves are an indicator of freshness: As long as the leaves are still fresh and green, the cheese within is still fresh. Dried-out leaves mean a cheese is past its prime.

    Because it travels, the cheese also wrapped in a clear plastic bag to catch the natural liquid that drains from it.

    Here’s more about burrata cheese and the history of burrata.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE BURRATA

    If you can find mozzarella curd, you can make your own. This recipe is from Chef Todd Andrews of restaurant Anella.
     
    Ingredients For An 8-Ounce Ball

  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella curd
  • 1 cup cream
  •  
    Preparation

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Here’s one of several burrata videos on YouTube.

    1, CUT the mozzarella curd in half, setting one half aside. Grate the other half with a cheese grater into a bowl and mix well with the cream until smooth, creamy and completely incorporated. Season to taste with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Place the filling in the fridge until ready to use.

    2. HEAT a pot of water to a boil. When the water boils, turn the heat off and wait five minutes. When water is just cool enough to be able to touch with your bare hands, drop the remaining half of mozzarella curd into the water. Remove with tongs after about five minutes, and press flat against one hand with the other hand.

    3. TAKE the mozzarella in both hands and stretch it across one hand until even. With an ice cream scoop, scoop a heaping amount of the filling into the center of the cheese. Stretch the cheese around the filling, pulling it toward the center of the filling until completely stuffed. It’s ready to serve!

    4. SERVE with extra virgin olive oil and fresh pepper.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easter Candy Apples

    M&Ms Caramel Apple

    Easter Chick Chocolate Apple

    Easter Candy Apples

    TOP: Roll a caramel apple in M&Ms (photo Amy’s Apples). Center: Turn the apple into a chick with yellow sprinkles (photo Amy’s Apples). Bottom: You can make a hard candy coating like the red Halloween apples, switching the red food color for pastels. Photo courtesy Rose Bakes.

     

    Candy apples have a strong association with Halloween. But the treat, which adds a good-for-you apple to the candy components, can be embellished for any occasion.

    It’s the first full day of spring and a week from Easter, so what are you waiting for?

    Join confectioners across the nation who make seasonal apples, typically caramel or caramel coated with chocolate. White chocolate can be used as is or tinted in Easter and spring colors.

    You can also use a milk or dark chocolate coat, but some decorations look better against white. However, if you’re totally covering the apple with coconut or M&Ms, the color of chocolate underneath doesn’t matter matter.

    You can also make a hard candy apple coating like the red Halloween apples, but with pastel spring colors instead of red. Here’s how.

    You can use any candy apple, caramel apple or chocolate apple recipe.

    The apples of choice are sweet-tart varieties: Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith.

    If you’re using chocolate, you can melt baking chips; but if your palate is sensitive to the difference, spring for Lindt bars or other well-priced “premium” brands.
     
    WHERE TO BEGIN

    Click the links to take a look at different approaches to decorating Easter apples. Most are very easy to make; adding bunny ears does take some technique.

    Popular decorations include:

  • Colored chocolate shavings or baking chips.
  • Himalayan pink sea salt. For a sweet and salty apple you can use 100% pink sea salt or blended with pink sparkling sugar), lavender sparkling sugar, etc.
  • Mini candy Easter eggs or jelly beans, placed around the stick end of the apple. First add with other decorations like sprinkles or green tinted coconut.
  • Pastel candy pearls.
  • Pastel sprinkles and confetti. Wilton has a nice Easter mix.
  • Pink or mixed color sparkling sugar (a.k.a. decorator sugar and sanding sugar).
  • Something exotic, like pink bunny sprinkles, or an actual marshmallow Peep sitting atop the decorated apple (the stick is pushed through it).
  •  
    CANDY APPLES HISTORY

    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) probably date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century. Inexpensive toffee and caramels became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence confirms soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner.

     
    Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born. The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.

    Later, coatings evolved to include caramel and chocolate, along with candy decorations ranging from simple to elaborate.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Moros y Cristianos, Cuban Rice & Beans

    Disclaimer: This is a traditional recipe based on a historical event. It is not a commentary on any religion or ethnicity.

    Why the disclaimer? The recipe is Moros y Cristianos, a dish commemorating the Islamic Conquest of Spain by Moors in the early 8th century, the ongoing wars between the two sides and the subsequent Reconquista by Spanish Christians in the 15th century.
     
    WHAT IS “MOROS Y CRISTIANOS?”

    Moros y Cristianos means “Moors and Christians” and refers to the popular white rice and black beans dish of Cuba. It was inspired by historic events that are commemorated annually with battle re-enactments across the southern coast of Spain.

    Platillo Moros y Cristianos is a staple served at virtually every Cuban restaurant and home. It is the Cuban version of the rice and beans dishes that are consumed throughout the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, and in the southern United States. It can be simply called arroz moro, moros, moro or congrí.

    The black beans, or Moros, represent the darker-skinned Moors; the rice, Cristianos, represents the lighter-skinned Spaniards. They are simmered together or separately with herbs and vegetables: a sofrito* of bay leaf, bell pepper, garlic, onions and oregano. Bacon can also be added.

    This nicely seasoned side is often served with grilled or roasted meat, poultry and seafood. It’s a good party dish, too: It can be made well in advance and be served at room temperature.
     
    MOROS VS. CONGRÍ: THE DIFFERENCE

    In the traditionally preparation, the Moros and Cristianos are prepared separately; they don’t meet up until they’re placed side by side on the plate. In the variation called Congrí, the rice and beans are cooked together†.

    These days, many cooks make the rice and beans together Congrí-style, but call it Moros y Cristianos.

    There’s no need to split hairs. Both methods work fine, although Steve Sando, the proprietor of Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans who has cooked bean dishes in every way possible, prefers “the sharper, more distinct flavors the old-fashioned technique delivers.”

    We’ll start with his recipe, and follow with a very quick version from Kraft.
     
    __________________________

    *Sofrito is the Spanish version of mirepoix, a chopped vegetable mix that is cooked in oil or butter to add flavor to sauces, soups, stews and stocks. Similar flavor bases include the Italian soffritto and the Portuguese refogado. Depending on the country, ingredients can include bell peppers, carrots, celeriac, celery, onions, and seasonings; refogado includes tomatoes. Cajun and Creole cuisines use what is called the “holy trinity”: onions, celery and bell peppers.

    †The beans are first boiled in water; the rice is cooked in another pot with some of the water from the beans. The cooked ingredients are combined with a flavorful sofrito (see footnote above).

       

    Moros y Cristianos

    Moros y Cristianos

    Moros y Cristianos

    Top photo of Moros y Cristianos courtesy Savoir Faire Los Placeres Del Paladar. Center: Side-by-side Moros y Cristianos from HeartOfWisdom.com. Bottom: A creative side-by-side from Fictionique.com.

     
    RECIPE: MOROS Y CRISTIANOS (MOORS & CHRISTIANS RICE & BEANS)

    This traditional recipe from Rancho Gordo adds another layer of flavor from bacon. Visit RanchoGordo.com for an exquisite selection of heirloom beans, spices and dazzling bean recipes.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 4 slices lean bacon, chopped
  • Olive oil, if needed
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder (see note‡)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups cooked black beans in their broth
  • Salt
  • 1½ cups hot cooked white rice
  •  
    _______________________________________
    ‡You can buy New Mexican Red Chile Powder from Rancho Gordo as well as from McCormick. New Mexican Red Chile Powder, also simply called red chile powder, is made from hot red chiles that have been dried and ground. It should not be confused with chili powder, a mixed spice for making chili. If you don’t have red chile powder, substitute cayenne pepper or the milder paprika.

     

    Moros y Cristianos Recipe

    Easy Moros y Cristianos from Kraft. It saves time by using canned beans. The recipe is below.

     

    Preparation

    1. GENTLY COOK the bacon in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is cooked through, about 10 minutes. You should have about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. If there is less, add olive oil as needed until you have 2 tablespoons of fat.

    2. ADD the onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook gently, stirring occasionally until the bell pepper is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the red chile powder and oregano and stir until incorporated. Add the beans and their broth and stir gently until mixed.

    3. COOK over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Taste and adjust the salt if needed.

    4. TO SERVE: Spoon some of the rice and the beans alongside each other on each individual plate. Serve immediately.
     

     

    RECIPE: QUICK MOROS Y CRISTIANOS

    This quick recipe, from Kraft, uses canned black beans. You can save even more time by using precooked frozen rice.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, total time 20 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Half-Cup Servings

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, undrained
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: salt and black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COOK the bacon, onions and garlic in large skillet on medium-high heat until the bacon is crisp.

    2. STIR in the rice, the beans with their liquid, and the oregano, salt and pepper. Bring to boil.

    3. REDUCE the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Horseradish Sauce

    Pork With Horseradish Sauce

    Salmon & Horseradish Sauce

    Steak & Horseradish Sauce

    Fresh Horseradish Roots

    Horseradish Root

    Horseradish sauce on: (1) roast pork sandwich (from National Pork Board), (2) poached salmon with dill-horseradish sauce (Sysco), (3) steak salad (Good Eggs); (4) horseradish root, freshly dug (North Fork Horseradish Festival) and (5) horseradish root as it often looks in the market (Markon.com).

     

    In the U.K., horseradish sauce has long been paired with roast beef. But its zinginess enhances other beef preparations from filet mignon to steak, brisket and corned beef; other meat dishes (pork, lamb, smoked chicken) including sandwiches; assertive seafood like mackerel, salmon and smoked fish; even veggies.

    To make horseradish sauce, you can use a base of sour cream or heavy cream, or substitute fat-free Greek yogurt. Made with fat-free yogurt, it’s a low-calorie sauce.

    You can add other flavor accents, from capers to herbs to Dijon mustard to lemon zest, all with negligible caloric impact.

    The sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

     
    RECIPE #1: HORSERADISH SAUCE WITH HERBED WHIPPED CREAM

    Ingredients

  • 1 horseradish root, peeled
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • White wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herb: chervil, dill, parsley or chervil (or capers or lemon zest)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRATE the horseradish root finely with a microplane into a small bowl. Mix it with a splash of white wine vinegar to prevent browning.

    2. WHIP the cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the whipped cream with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix in the herb as desired.

    3. PLACE in the fridge for 2-4 hours to allow the flavors to meld. Before serving, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

     
    RECIPE #2: HORSERADISH SAUCE WITH DIJON SOUR CREAM

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup grated fresh horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon or grainy mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRATE the horseradish root finely with a microplane into a small bowl. Mix it with a splash of white wine vinegar to prevent browning.

    2. PLACE all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth and creamy.

    3. PLACE in the fridge for 2-4 hours to allow the flavors to meld. Before serving, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
     
    WHAT IS HORSERADISH?

    Believed to be native to southeastern Europe and western Asia, horseradish has been cultivated for some 3,000 years, prized for its culinary uses as well as for homeopathy.

    A pungent root, horseradish is a perennial plant in the Brassicaceae family* of cruciferous vegetables, known for their antioxidant, cancer-fighting properties. It is a root vegetable that is used as a spice.

     
    Like mustard, the raw plant is not pungent. The heat and aroma only appear when the appropriate part of the plant is crushed (mustard seeds), cut or grated (horseradish root), creating a chemical reaction. Once exposed to air or heat, the pungency begins to erode. Prepared horseradish is grated root that adds vinegar to preserve the pungency (and needs to be refrigerated).
     
    Why is it a “horse” radish?

    In German, the root is called meerrettich, sea radish, because it grows by the sea. It is believed that the English mispronounced the German word “meer” as “mare,” and began calling it mare radish, which evolved to horseradish. “Radish” comes from the Latin radix, meaning root.

    While horseradish and conventional radishes are both members of the Brassicacae family (“Brassica” in English), they are from different geniuses. The horseradish genus and species is Amoracia rustincana, and the radish is Raphanus sativus.

    During the Renaissance, horseradish consumption spread northward from Central Europe to England and Scandinavia. While it was used medicinally, it wasn’t until 1640 that the British began to eat horseradish, and then only by the rural people who grew it.

    But by the late 1600s, horseradish had become the standard English accompaniment for both beef and oysters. The English, in fact, grew the pungent root at inns and coach stations, to make cordials to revive exhausted travelers.

    Early settlers to the American Colonies brought horseradish to cultivate. It was common in the northeast by 1806.

    In the U.S., commercial cultivation began in the mid 1850s, when immigrants started horseradish farms in the Midwest. After World War II, horseradish was planted commercially in Northern California and other areas in the country. Today, approximately 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish are produced annually in the U.S., with a much smaller amount of fresh root sales.

    While the root gets all the press, horseradish leaves are also edible: raw or cooked, in pestos, salads, sautés and stir fries. They have a sharp, bitter, peppery taste similar to arugula and kale, their Brassica cousins.

    Horseradish.org, which supplied some of this information, has dozens of horseradish-related recipes from the expected (dips and sauces) to the intriguing (cream of horseradish soup with peas and bacon).

    Two of our favorite recipes are horseradish compound butter for steak, and horseradish mashed potatoes.
     
    ________________________________

    *The Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, called Brassicaceae in the Latin-based taxonomy system, includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes and turnips, among others.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Corned Beef & Cabbage Sandwich

    Sliced Corned Beef

    Top: A Corned Beef & Cabbage panini sandwich from Dietz & Watson. Bottom: Sliced corned beef. Photo courtesy Cascal Soda.

     

    You may look forward to Corned Beef & Cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day? How about a Corned Beef & Cabbage Sandwich?

    If it sounds strange, remember that cole slaw is simply sliced cabbage with dressing, and that the Reuben is a grilled or toasted sandwich on rye or pumpernickel with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian Dressing.

    In this recipe from Dietz & Watson, they cabbage is simply steamed, but nothing’s stopping you from serving the sandwich with a side of slaw. Or a cold beer.

    This photo shows the sandwich made on a panini press, but you can make a conventional sandwich as you prefer.

    This sandwich is a relative of
    In addition to corned beef hash, this is one of our favorite uses for leftover corned beef.

    RECIPE: CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE SANDWICH

    Ingredients Per Sandwich

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup green cabbage, julienned finely
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 slices rye bread or substitute
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon or grainy mustard
  • 6 thin slices corned beef
  • 2 ounces Cheddar Cheese
  • Optional garnish: pickles
  •  
    Preparation  

    1. BRING 1/4 cup of water and 1 tablespoon oil to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Add the cabbage and reduce the heat to low. Steam the cabbage for 15 minutes but do not overcook; the cabbage should still remain crisp. Drain and pat with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    2. LAY two slices of bread on a flat work surface. Spread 1 teaspoon of mustard on each slice. Pile the corned beef, Cheddar and cabbage on one slice. Add the top slice of bread. Grill on a panini press or serve as is.

     

     
    WHAT IS CORNED BEEF?

    Corning refers to curing or pickling the meat in a seasoned brine. The word refers to the “corns” or grains of rock salt (today, kosher salt) that is mixed with water to make the brine.

    Typically, brisket is used to make corned beef; the dish has many regional variations and seasonings. Smoking a corned beef, and adding extra spices, produces pastrami.

    Corned beef was a staple in middle-European Jewish cuisine. Irish immigrants learned about corned beef on New York’s Lower East Side from their Jewish neighbors, and adopted it as a cheaper alternative to Irish bacon. Bacon and cabbage is a popular Irish dish. (Irish bacon is a lean, smoked pork loin similar to Canadian bacon. Here are the different types of bacon.)

    Cattle in Ireland were not used for meat but for dairy products. Pork, an inexpensive meat in Ireland, was a dinner table staple.

    But in the U.S., pork was much more expensive than the American staple meat, beef; and brisket, which required several hours of cooking to tenderize, was an affordable cut. Irish-Americans substituted corned beef for the bacon, and and Corned Beef & Cabbage was born.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Turn Any Soup Into St. Patrick’s Day Soup

    There are plenty of green soups to serve on St. Patrick’s Day. For starters, consider avocado; Caldo Verde (kale, potato, sausage); cream of asparagus, broccoli or spinach; cucumber; green pea; herb; and nettle soups.

    There are also classic Irish soups like Irish Bacon & Cabbage, Potato & Leek and Irish Potato Soup.

    But you can also take your family’s favorite soup and add a green topping, starting with diced avocado.

    Add a sprinkle of freshly chopped green herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, parsley.

    Don’t like avocado? Dice the tops of green onions, or use a chiffonade of basil. If you like, you can toss them on top of a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.

    If you’d prefer a cheese garnish, hit a cheese store for Sage Derby, a Cheddar-style cheese from England; or Basiron Pesto, a Gouda turned green with added pesto.

    Now, commence to the eatin’ of the green.
     
    FOOD TRIVIA: WHAT ARE HERBS?

     

    Bean Soup Avocado Garnish

    Instant St. Patrick’s Day food: soup with an avocado and herb garnish. Photo courtesy Quinciple.com.

  • Herbs refer to the leafy green parts of a plant. They can be used fresh or dried.
  • Spices are obtained from other parts of a plant: bark, berries, fruits, roots or seeds. They are usually dried.
  • The word “herb”” is pronounced with the “h” in most English-speaking countries, identical to the man’s name, Herb. In North America, the “h” is dropped, so the word sounds like “erb.”
  • There are culinary herbs and medicinal herbs. Culinary herbs are simply called “herbs,” as distinguished from “medicinal herbs.”
  • The difference between herbs and vegetables in that herbs are used in small amounts to enhance flavor (like spices), rather than used as a substantial ingredient.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Authentic Irish Beer Styles

    Forget the green beer on St. Patrick’s Day: It’s going to be the cheapest brew on tap. Who would color craft beer green? If you must do so, go for the palest style, Wheat Beer, a.k.a. Weissbier, Weizenbier and Witbier. It takes the color best.

    Instead of the green stuff, consider two beer styles with authentic Irish roots: Dry Stout and Red Ale. American craft brewers from coast to coast make them. In fact, Irish Red Ale is more popular in the U.S. these days than in Ireland!

    Dig in to the two styles below, and check out the other types of beers in our Beer Glossary.

    IRISH-STYLE DRY STOUT

    Stouts are a higher-alcohol version of porter (7% A.B.V.* or higher), a dark beer made from roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast.

    All Stouts are Porters, but they are the stronger Porters (the “stoutest” ones). You can review their history and brewing techniques at BeerConnoisseur.com.

    There are different Stout styles, including American Sweet Stout; Baltic Porter; Milk Stout/Sweet Stout/English Sweet Stout, made with lactose, milk sugar; and Imperial Stout/Russian Imperial Stout, a style first brewed in the 18th century for export to the court of Catherine the Great.
     
    *A.B.V. stands for Alcohol By Volume, the percent of alcohol in the beverage.

       

    Dry Irish Stout

    Guinness, the world’s most famous Stout. Annual sales are almost $2 billion. Photo courtesy Romano.

     

    But the most common style of Stout is Dry Stout, the Irish-style Stout represented by Guinness Draught, the world’s best selling Stout. In the early 20th century, when Milk Stout/Sweet Stout became the dominant style in England, Ireland maintained a preference for the non-sweet or Dry Stout, also known as Standard Stout. With the world dominance of Guinness, it is now simply referred to as Stout.

    Irish-style Dry Stouts are black in color with notes of coffee-like roasted barley and a roasted malt aroma. The hop bitterness is medium to medium high. The head is tan or tan-tinged.

     
    DRY STOUT FOOD PAIRINGS

  • Irish pub food: Beef Stew, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Fish & Chips, Guinness Beef Stew, Shepherd’s Pie.
  • Lamb kebabs (marinate them in Guinness) or pot roast with Guinness.
  • Burger or bacon burger, chicken or turkey sandwich, corned beef or Reuben sandwich, grilled cheese.
  • Dessert: anything mad with Guinness (Guinness Chocolate Mousse, Guinness Chocolate Cake or Cupcakes, Guinness Float, Guinness & Rum Milkshake, Spice Cake or Carrot Cake.
  •  
    STOUTS TO LOOK FOR

    Dry stouts made by American craft brewers include:

  • Black Cat Stout from Portsmouth Brewing (Portsmouth, NH)
  • Black Sun Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co. (Munster, IN)
  • Blarney Sisters’ Dry Irish Stout from Third Street Aleworks (Santa Rosa, CA)
  • Blue Fin Stout from Shipyard Brewing Co. (Portland, ME)
  • Dark Starr Stout from Starr Hill Brewery (Crozet, VA)
  • Donnybrook Stout from Victory Brewing Co. (Downingtown, PA)
  • Moylan’s Dragoons Dry Irish Stout from Moylan’s Brewery (Novato, CA)
  • Old No. 38 from North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg, CA)
  • O.V.L. Stout from Russian River Brewing Co. (Santa Rosa, CA)
  •  
    Taste them next to Guinness Draught and any other imported Irish stouts you come across, such as Murphy’s Irish Stout, O’Hara’s Celtic Stout, Porterhouse Brewing Co. Oyster Stout.

    You may also find Guinness Black Lager, a lager style made with stout’s roasted barley, which provides the dark color and fuller body; and Harp Lager, a conventional style.

     

    Irish Red Ale

    Imported from the Emerald Isle: Smithwicks Red Irish Ale, the first modern Irish Red Ale.

     

    IRISH RED ALE

    Traditional0 Irish Red Ales seems to have originated in 1710 at the Smithwick Brewery in Kilkenny. Today, Red Ales are even more popular in the U.S. than in Ireland.

    The reddish or coppery hue is a result of brewing with a percentage of kilned malts and roasted barley. The style focuses on strong malt flavors with a light hoppiness and slight nuttiness/roastiness from the roasted grains.

    Irish Red Ales are usually well balanced, with an average A.B.V. of 3.5% to 5%, although you can find brews with up to 8% alcohol. You may find hints of caramel and toffee from the malt notes, along with a crisp, dry finish.
     
    IRISH RED ALE FOOD PAIRINGS

  • For snacking, put out some smoked or toasted almonds, and mild or fruity cheeses (like fresh goat cheese or Asiago) with walnuts.
  • For a starter, serve a goat cheese salad or a green salad with toasted nuts (a nut oil vinaigrette is a home run).
  • For a main, consider grilled pork, poultry and Irish pub food: Bangers and Mash, mutton and Shepherd’s Pie.
  • Dessert: The caramel and toffee notes of the ale pair well with crème brûlée or plain cheesecake.
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    AMERICAN CRAFT RED ALES TO LOOK FOR

  • Riverbank Red from Ghost River Brewing (Memphis, TN)
  • Erik the Red from Dragonmead Microbrewery (Warren, MI)
  • Irish Red from Boston Beer Co. (Boston, MA)
  • Irish Setter Red from Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. (Akron, OH)
  • Lucky SOB from Flying Dog Brewery (Frederick, MD)
  • Seamus’ Irish Red Ale from Sly Fox Brewing Co. (Phoenixville, PA)
  • Spring Irish Red Ale from Newport Storm Brewery (Newport, RI)
  • Red Trolley Ale from Karl Strauss Brewing Co. (San Diego, CA)
  • Thomas Creek River Falls Red Ale from Thomas Creek Brewery (Greenville, SC)
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    For Irish imports, look for Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, Murphy’s Irish Red and Smithwick’s Irish Ale. If you want to add another style, pick up some O’Hara’s Irish Wheat, a golden ale.
     
    Thanks to Heather Galanty and the Brewers Association for this material.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Leprechaun Pie

    St. Patrick's Day Pie

    Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie

    Top: Use a cookie cutter to make cut-outs or shape marzipan shamrocks on a pie crust (photo courtesy American Pie Council). Bottom: Our favorite: a Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie (photo courtesy Taste Of Home). The recipe is below.

     

    Make a Leprechaun Pie for St. Patrick’s Day.

    What’s a Leprechaun Pie? It’s anything you want it to be, as long as it has a St. Pat’s theme: green color and/or shamrock decorations, Irish cream liqueur for adults.

    Just pick a “base” pie and decorations. Most of these recipes are so easy, you can enlist a willing tween or teen to do the prep work.

    LEPRECHAUN PIE OPTIONS

  • Your favorite two-crust pie with shamrock cut-outs or add-ons on the top crust (top photo).
  • Bailey’s pudding pie with green whipped cream (recipe).
  • Grasshopper pie (mint with chocolate accents, recipe).
  • Key lime pie (recipe—add a touch of green food color to tint the yellow filling green).
  • Mint ice cream pie (bottom photo, recipe below)
  • Pistachio pudding pie (very easy, no-bake recipe).
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    Decorations

    If your pie has no top crust, you can decorate the surface with:

  • Green baking chips
  • Green sprinkles
  • Green-tinted marzipan
  • Green whipped cream
  • Lucky Charms cereal
  • Kiwi slices
  • Lime zest (especially nice atop the whipped cream)
  •  
    RECIPE: ICE CREAM GRASSHOPPER PIE

    You can make this pie (photo above) in 10 minutes plus freezing time, using store-bought mint chocolate chip ice cream and a chocolate cookie crust.

    If you don’t like mint, add 2 tablespoons of Irish cream liqueur to softened vanilla ice cream. You can also tint the vanilla green with food color.

     
    Ingredients

  • 2 pints mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
  • 1 chocolate crumb crust (8 inches—store-bought or made with the recipe below)
  • 5 Oreo cookies, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chocolate-covered peppermint candies (e.g. Junior Mints)
  • Chocolate hard-shell ice cream topping
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPREAD the ice cream into the pie crust. Sprinkle with the cookies and candies.

    2. DRIZZLE with the ice cream topping and freeze until firm. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.
     
    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE COOKIE CRUST

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon chocolate wafer crumbs, divided (about 32 wafers)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
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    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the wafer crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl. Pat the mixture onto the bottom and up the side of a buttered 8- or 9-inch pie plate.

    2. BAKE in the middle of a preheated 450°F oven for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Brazilian Cheese Bread, Pão de Queijo

    On a recent trip to a churrascaria to indulge in the salad bar, our colleague Hannah Kaminsky discovered something more memorable than the jumbo asparagus and whole cloves of caramelized garlic: pão de queijo, Brazilian Cheese Bread.

    Not a conventional bread (no kneading required), pão de queijo (pow de KAY-zoo) is a Brazilian variation of gougères (goo-ZHAIR)—airy cheese puffs made from savory choux pastry mixed with grated Gruyère cheese.

    A key difference: Pão de queijo is made from gluten-free flour, either yucca (a.k.a. cassava or manioc) or tapioca flour. This makes pão de queijo gluten free, and also more dense and chewy (much like savory, baked mochi, Hannah notes).

    They’re delicious with beer, wine and cocktails.

     
    RECIPE: BRAZILIAN CHEESE BREAD (PÃO DE QUEIJO)

    Ingredients For 2 Dozen Puffs

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) sour* cassava flour or tapioca flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450F. Lightly grease two mini muffin pans.

    2. COMBINE the milk, oil, and salt in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally until large bubbles form.

    3. REMOVE the pot from the heat and add the flour, stirring until it is fully incorporated (it will be gelatinous and grainy). You don’t need to worry about over-mixing the dough, since there’s no gluten to toughen. Pause as needed to scrape down the sides of the blender to ensure that everything is thoroughly incorporated. Once the dough is completely smooth…

    4. TRANSFER the dough to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat at medium for a few minutes until it is smooth. When it is cool to the touch…

    5. WHISK the eggs in a small bowl; then mix into the dough on medium speed. Incorporate half of the eggs first, incorporate fully and add the second half.

    6. BEAT in the cheese with the mixer on medium. The dough will become very sticky.

    7. DISPENSE the dough into the muffin cups, filling 3/4 of the way to the top. Dip your spoon or scoop in water to prevent sticking.

    8. LOWER the heat to 350°F and bake for 25-30 minutes, until puffy and lightly golden. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for a few minutes. Don’t be alarmed if some of the centers fall as they cool.

    9. ENJOY them warm and crisp. Leftover puffs can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week and re-crisped in a warm oven or toaster oven.
     
    *Use sweet (untreated) cassava flour if you can’t find the sour version. The sour style provides a nuance of dlightly fermented flavor.

     

    Brazilian Bread

    Brazilian Bread

    Cassava Flour

    Tapioca Flour

    Top and second: Brazilian Cheese Bread photos © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog. Third and fourth: Check natural food stores or Latin American markets; or order online.

     
    CASSAVA FLOUR VS. TAPIOCA FLOUR: THE DIFFERENCE

    Both cassava flour and tapioca flour are made from the cassava root. However, the process and end result differ.

  • Cassava flour, a staple ingredient Brazil and Portugal, is made from the root of the cassava plant by peeling, drying and grinding the whole root. Called polvilho in Portuguese, it can be either sour (untreated) or sweet (treated). It has more dietary fiber than tapioca flour, so has broader applications (for example, you can make cassava flour tortillas and other flatbreads that need the fiber to hold together).
  • Tapioca flour, also called tapioca starch, is obtained through a process of washing and pulping the whole cassava, not just the root. The wet pulp is squeezed to extract a starchy liquid; the water is evaporated, yielding tapioca flour.
  •  
    Among the gluten-free flour options, cassava and tapioca flours are most like wheat flour. Unlike almond or coconut flour, they have a mild, neutral flavor and are powdery like wheat flour—not grainy or gritty.

    They can be replaced for wheat flour on a 1:1 basis in many recipes. Note, though, that when mixed with liquid, the dough turns gelatinous and sticky. Keep a bowl of water and paper towels handy for rising your fingers and utensils.

    You can find these flours in health food stores and natural food stores such as Whole Foods Markets; and of course, online.

      

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