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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: Drink Covers For Bug-Free Drinks

We love this simple trick from gourmet caterer Pinch Food Design:

To keep pesky bugs out of your drink at poolside or other outdoor leisure, poke a hole in a cupcake liner with a straw.

If you want to create a perfect opening, get out the three-hole-punch.

These multicolored cupcake liners from Wilton are well priced and ready to party.

They’re available in different colors and designs, including polka dots, damask/zebra and a very festive color wheel.

Don’t need a straw? Consider reusable plastic drink covers.

These plastic drink covers, shaped like flowers. They have a tight, spill-proof seal, and thus have no opening for a straw.

More subtle designs include these lily pads.

 

lemon-cocktail-cupcake-wrapper-pinchfooddesign

Keep the bugs away with cupcake liners. Photo courtesy Pinch Food Design.

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Sea Urchin

Today’s tip is sea urchin: beyond the sushi bar. It was inspired by a story in this month’s Smithsonian Magazine.

At the sushi bar, we always order an uni sushi or two. If they were less pricey, we would toss down half a dozen.

Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin, an ancient shellfish, found worldwide. In the U.S., sea urchins are harvested in the oceans off California, Florida and Maine. They’re expensive to gather, and the price is passed along.

More than a few of the world’s sea urchin sites have been overfished. But in the waters off of Norway lie a king’s ransom of sea urchin.

Evidently, Norwegians are not as fond of sea urchin as we are, and until Roderick Sloan began to develop a trade among Europe’s fine restaurants, they had no market. Once cursed as a pest by lobstermen, they were routinely smashed with hammers and tossed overboard.

Sloan, a 44-year-old émigré Scot, lives 88 miles north of the Arctic Circle, outside the town of Nordskot (population 55). It’s one of Norway’s darkest, bleakest, most remote coastal villages. He is the only full-time sea urchin diver in Norway, with one employee to tend the boat.

Sloan dons scuba equipment and swims down to depths of 50 feet, diving among treacherous waves and gutsy squalls. The local species, called Norwegian greens (for the hue of the shell—the binomial name is Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), are at their prime from November to the end of February (imagine how cold the water is!).

   

live_uni_nigiri_ILBSea-230

Sea urchin, fresh from the sea. Photo courtesy I Love Blue Sea.

 

More than 100,000 tons of the delicacy are consumed a year worldwide. France and Japan are big consumers; the Japanese exchange urchins as gifts during New Year celebrations.

In the center of the hard shell is a row of five roe or coral (sometimes called tongues), which are the gonads of both males and females. Exotic, briny and grainy, the meat has nuances of iodine and metal and a custardlike, pillowy consistency. Uni is a love-it-or-hate-it food.

Of the 800 species of sea urchin, some are much more palatable than others. As a sea urchin lover, we are chagrined that the flavor of expensive sushi bar uni can be wildly inconsistent. It is based on gender, season, terroir and even the particular seaweed the animal eats.

When all the factors are united, uni are celestial. At other times, they are as are as bland and disappointing as a mealy apple.

 

sea-urchins-open-shell-smithsonian-230

Sea urchins brought up from the floor of the
ocean. Photo by Karoline O.A. Pettersen |
Smithsonian.

 

HOW TO ENJOY SEA URCHIN

Here are culinary ideas from around the world for how to enjoy sea urchin:

  • Raw in New Zealand; with a squeeze of lemon in the Mediterranean; and with lemon, onions and olive oil in Chile.
  • In pasta sauce in Italy.
  • In omelets and scrambled eggs, mayonnaise, béchamel and Hollandaise sauces and the boullie (egg foam) for a soufflé in France.
  • As sashimi or sushi, with soy sauce and wasabi, in Japan; or in a donburi (rice bowl) with ikura and shiso leaf.
  •  
    It’s up to the cook to decide how to use them in recipes. Think baked, ceviche, chowder/soup, croquettes, custard, grilled fish, mousse, oyster stew, pasta, sauce and tempura.

    Here’s an interesting surf and turf: raw sea urchin wrapped in roast beef. Just as it sounds, wrap a thin slice of roast beef around a raw sea urchin or two; lay on a bed of boiled spinach and serve with ponzu (a combination of soy sauce, vinegar and citrus juice).

     

    For a delightful hors d’oeuvre or first course, make uni toast: Spread crostini with quality unsalted butter and uni, garnished with scallions and a sprinkling of sea salt.

    Uni burrata combines creamy burrata cheese with with the briny flavor of uni, then sides it with button mushrooms and yuzu for balance.

    Here are some sea urchin recipes.
     
    ABOUT SEA URCHINS

    Sea urchins, sometimes called sea hedgehogs (for their protruding spiny needles) and krakebolle, “crow’s balls,” in Norwegian, are among the earliest known forms of life. The fossil record dates back some 450 million years. The creatures can be found in almost every major marine habitat from the poles to the Equator, and from shallow inlets to ocean depths of more than 17,000 feet.

    Sea urchins “look like squash balls encased in pine thistles” according to Franz Lidz, who wrote the Smithsonian article (you can read it in full here).

    The shell is round and spiny, typically from 1.2 to 3.9 inches in diameter. The colors vary: black, blue, brown, green, olive, purple, red. The animals lack brains.

    Sea urchins have hundreds of adhesive tube feet and move slowly over the sandy sea floor pursuing a diet of kelp. They are members of the botanical class Echinoidea, and are cousins of sand dollars (there are some 950 species of echinoids, and 800 species of sea urchins).

    And the pricey critters will no doubt get pricier. The French and Irish exhausted their resident stocks of sea urchin years ago. In Maine, Nova Scotia and Japan, urchin populations have been drastically reduced by overfishing and disease.

    They are not always welcome: The colonies can be destructive. Off the coasts of California and Tasmania, overfishing of the animal’s natural predators and large-scale change in ocean circulation (believed to be an effect of climate change) have turned vast stretches of the sea floor into moonscape-like “urchin barrens.” The urchins multiply, chew down the kelp and devastate marine ecosystems.

    No doubt, those species are not among the tasty species, or divers would appear to reap the wealth on the ocean floor.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruit Soup

    You don’t have to turn on the stove or the oven to make this refreshing dessert: fruit soup.

    Made from fresh or dried fruit, served hot or cold, fruit soups are underrepresented on American menus. Yet, they offer variety year-round.

  • Cold soups tend to be made with seasonal fruit and are thus served in warmer weather.
  • Soups made of dried fruits, such as Norwegian fruktsuppe (made of raisins and prunes), can be served hot or cold in any season.
  • Fruit soups can be cream soups or purées with or without the addition of fruit juice, and can include alcohol such as brandy, champagne, Port or wine.
  • Sweet fruit soups can include meat; and in at least one instance, a fruit soup can be completely savory, like \Chinese winter melon soup.
  • While fruit soup can be served for dessert, it also can be a first course or an intermezzo between fish and meat courses.
  •    

    blackberry-gazpacho-driscolls-230sq

    Fruit soup in a footed bowl. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    Here’s a no cook light summer dessert dessert recipe from berry king Driscoll’s. Made primarily of blackberries, it adds red wine for a sophisticated layer of flavors (some red wines are often described to have hints of blackberry flavor).

    Prep time is 5 minutes. Serve with a piece of shortbread on the side.

     

    http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-blackberries-image11753307

    Fresh blackberries. Photo © Ninette Luz |
    Dreamstime.

     

    RECIPE: BLACKBERRY FRUIT SOUP

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) blackberries
  • 1 cups dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, or substitute a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 cups sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 package (6 ounces) Driscoll’s Raspberries
  • 1 package (6 ounes) Driscoll’s Blueberries
  • Fresh mint for garnish
  • Optional topping: crème fraîche, thin lime slice, mascarpone, sour cream, toasted sliced almonds, vanilla yogurt or frozen yogurt
  • Optional: shortbread or other cookie
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PURÉE blackberries, wine and sugar in blender or food processor until smooth. Press through a strainer to remove the seeds. Discard solids.

    2. STIR in lemon juice; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and chill several hours or overnight.

    3. LADLE soup into chilled bowls, footed glasses or wine goblets. Drizzle or spoon sour cream on top, and scatter with raspberries and blueberries.

    4. GARNISH each serving with a mint sprig or coarsely chopped mint.
     
    MORE FRUIT SOUP RECIPES

  • Chilled Papaya and Watermelon Soup Recipe
  • Chilled Raspberry Yogurt Soup Recipe
  • Diet Fruit Soup Recipe
  • Simple Fruit Soup Recipe
  •   

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    PRODUCT: How To Enjoy Guava

    As we did an online search for “guava” recently, we were surprised to find that “What color is guava?” scored 2,900 searches last month. There’s obviously an interest in guava. But have you ever tried one?

    Guava, also known as guayaba (the Spanish name) and Bangkok apple, is a round to oval shaped subtropical fruit that is actually classified as a berry.

    Guava is native to Mexico, Central America and northern South America, but is now cultivated in tropic and subtropic belts around the world.

    The skin of the immature fruit is bright green in color, but becomes yellowish green, maroon or yellow when ripe. The flesh is creamy white or rosy pink, depending on the variety. The taste is reminiscent of a cross between an Asian pear and a crab apple: refreshing, fruity, mildly sweet and tart. The texture is firm and crisp, like an Asian pear.

    Guava can be eaten fresh, used in desserts or for nectar/juice, preserves or sauces. A guava contains about four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.

       

    GUAVA-baldorfood-230

    Some guava varieties have white flesh, others have rosy flesh. Photo courtesy Baldor Food.

     
    Some varieties have an edible rind and small seeds which are also edible. When ripe, the exotic aroma is alluring. One bite will transport you to the tropics!

    Guavas are ripe when the aroma wafts up from the fruit: You can smell it, sweet and musky, without putting it to your nose. Ripe guavas have a two week shelf life if refrigerated, or about a week if left at room temperature.

     

    guava_cake_kuki-s-cookbook-230

    Guava cake, made with guava nectar. Photo courtesy My Recipe Magic. Here’s the recipe.

     

    WAYS TO SERVE GUAVA

    The first way to test the waters could be with a simple box of guava nectar. Ceres, Goya, Hero, Jumex, Kern’s and other brands are available in many food stores.

    You can drink the nectar or use it in recipes: baking, sauces, smoothies, etc.

    If you’re keen on the guava flavor, the next step is to buy a fresh guava and let it ripen. Use it in everyday recipes:

  • Barbecue sauce and salsa (replace other fruit with guava)
  • Cocktails and mocktails
  • Crêpes
  • Dip (mix equal parts of guava preserves and mayonnaise as a dip with shrimp, chicken fingers or crudites)
  • Fruit tarts, bars, fruit breads, etc.(replace peaches with guava in most recipes)
  • Glaze for chicken and pork
  • Sauce: a sweet sauce on cheesecake, ice cream, French toast and pancakes
  • Smoothies and shakes
  • Sorbet and ice cream
  •  
    Here are dozens of recipes from Emeril Lagasse and other Food Network chefs, who use guava in everything from grilled fish to pound cake.

    And here’s an easy savory sauce for grilled proteins from Melissa’s chef Ida Rodriguez.

    RECIPE: SAVORY GUAVA SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 6 ripe guavas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT each guava in half. Scoop out the pulp and place in a bowl.

    2. HEAT oil in a suacepan and sauté onions until they are soft and translucent. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.

    By the way, guava is delicious with cream cheese. In our youth, our mom had a passion for cream cheese sandwiches with guava preserves. We always joined in.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Prosciutto & Peaches

    prosciutto-peaches-charliepalmer-briscola-230sq

    Peaches with prosciutto and a drizzle of
    balsamic, from Briscola by Charlie Palmer in
    Reno’s Grand Sierra Resort.

     

    Juicy summer peaches beg to be enjoyed in as many ways as possible. For a delicious first course or a dessert, pair them with prosciutto and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar—an update to the classic melon or figs with prosciutto.

    To amp up the first course, add fresh chèvre and some lightly dressed mesclun.

    You can also replace the prosciutto with serrano ham. Here’s the difference.

    Serve the dish with prosciutto-friendly Italian white wines such as Italian Moscato, Pinot Grigio or Prosecco; or look northward and grab an Alsatian-style Pinot Gris, Gewürtztraminer or Riesling.

    WHAT IS PROSCIUTTO

    Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham; specifically a dry-cured, uncooked ham that is aged for 400 days or longer. It originated in the hills around Parma, Italy.

     

     

    The pigs are fed a special diet of whey and grains, and the hams are trimmed and massaged with natural sea salt before aging. Prosciutto is served in thin slices, showing off rosy-colored meat with a pearl-white marbling of fat.

    Prosciutto di Parma, called Parma ham in English, is made from only two ingredients—pork leg and sea salt. What makes a great prosciutto is the artisan curing that creates prosciutto crudo (raw prosciutto, distinguished from cooked ham, or prosciutto cotto).

    The pork leg is carefully hand-rubbed with salt. It then passes through a series of curing rooms of different temperatures and humidity levels.

    Prosciutto made in the Parma and Langhirano areas of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna province is D.O.P.-protected by the European Union (in English, it’s D.P.O. or Domaine of Protected Origin). Prosciutto from other cities is also D.O.P. protected, but Prosciutto di Parma is the most famous export.

    Prosciutto-style products are made elsewhere in the world. La Quercia, in Iowa, is a fine domestic producer.

     

    proscuitto-laquercia-murrays-230


    American-made prosciutto from LaQuercia in Iowa. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

     

    MORE WAYS TO ENJOY PROSCIUTTO

    Prosciutto is served plain as part of an antipasto or appetizer plate. In Italy, restaurants serve prosciutto in overlapping folded-over slices with bread or bread sticks as an appetizer, or wrapped around melon slices, with dates, figs or pears.

    The ham is incorporated into many recipes: wrapped around chicken, rolled with veal scallopini and diced into pasta and risotto. Find recipes at ParmaHam.com.

    But if you want to enjoy it as an Italian ham sandwich—on crusty baguette-style bread with arugula, tomatoes, mozzarella or provolone and a sprinkle of vinagrette—we think it’s an improvement on the American version.

    A drizzle of honey or some honey mustard also works.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches

    Is there anything more wonderful than a favorite comfort food in the hands of a great chef?

    We worshipped Parisian pâtissier Pierre Hermé, a fourth generation pastry chef from Alsace, even before we saw these ice cream sandwiches. As his Star Chefs bio says, “Pierre Hermé didn’t just carry on the family tradition; he rocketed it into the stratosphere.”

    Hermé began his career at age 14 as an apprentice to Gaston Lenôtre, was a full-fledged pastry chef by 20 at Fauchon, and established Pierre Hermé Paris since 1996.

    Unable to get to Paris, we set to work recreating the ice cream sandwiches.

    Hermé, the master of macarons, makes rectangular meringue cookies to sandwich his ice cream sandwiches. By all means, try it if you’re up to the challenge. Unschooled in the technique, we couldn’t get ours out of the pan and evenly sliced without a lot of breakage; but the pieces tasted fine.

    Otherwise, you can use any base, from cookies to cake slices. We really liked pound cake, pre-toasted and cooled before the ice cream was added.

       

    ice-cream-sandwiches-beauty-pierrehermeFB-230

    The prettiest ice cream sandwiches, on meringues. Photo courtesy Pierre Hermé.

     

    PIERRE HERMÉ ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

    Ingredients

  • 2 complementary flavors of ice cream and/or sorbet
  • Optional inclusions: berries, chips, nuts, etc.
  • Sandwich base of choice (cookies, cake)
  •  
    While all combinations we tried were delicious, we especially loved vanilla ice cream with raspberry sorbet or passionfruit sorbet.

     

    swirled-beauty-pierrehermeFB-230

    He also makes dual flavor soft serve. Photo
    courtesy Pierre Hermé.

     

    Preparation

    1. LINE a loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing a border of wrap to hang over the sides so you can pull out the frozen loaf of ice cream.

    2. LAYER the two flavors of ice cream/sorbet, one on top of the other. Sprinkle any inclusions over the first layer.

    3. LET the ice cream soften until you can take a firm spatula or the handle of a wooden spoon and swirl it through the layers. This will create the marbled design. Freeze until hard.

    4. ASSEMBLE by removing the loaf of ice cream, slicing it and adding the sandwich component.
     
    If you want to drool over desserts that are an ocean away, head to PierreHerme.com.

    And if you’re inspired to fly to Paris to enjoy them firsthand, remember: There’s always a line at the shop at 72 rue Bonaparte, in the Saint Germain des Prés district.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Shortcake

    peach-shortcake-kraft-230

    Easy peach shortcake: Slice fruit, top a
    biscuit half, add whipped cream. Photo
    courtesy Kraft.

     

    Sweet summer berries and stone fruits beg to be turned into shortcake. It requires only three ingredients: the fruit of choice, whipped cream and the biscuit or other base.

    In the good old days in the U.S., strawberry shortcake parties were held as celebrations of the summer fruit harvest. This tradition is still observed in some parts of the country on June 14th, which is Strawberry Shortcake Day.

    The original shortcake concept, from the U.K., uses a slightly sweetened baking soda or baking powder biscuit or scone. Split in half, the base is piled with fruit and whipped cream, then topped with the other half, often with more fruit and whipped cream on top.

    And just to confirm: Shortcake isn’t cake. It’s a dry biscuit in the American sense: a crumbly bread that has been leavened with baking powder or baking soda.

    As the concept evolved, the biscuit was replace by everything from sponge cakes to corn muffins. Modern cookies are also switching out the whipped cream.

     
    If you don’t have to bake the biscuits, this is a pretty easy recipe to assemble. There’s a shortcake biscuit recipe below, but other choices include:
     
    For The Biscuit

  • Angel food cake
  • Brioche, lightly toasted (orange brioche is even better)
  • Buttermilk refrigerator biscuits (sprinkle with sugar before baking)
  • Muffin or un-iced cupcake
  • Pound cake
  • Sponge cake (some stores carry individual sponge cakes, four-inch circles with a well for the fruit)
  • Sweet rolls, lightly toasted with a sprinkle of sugar (look for King’s Hawaiian)
  • Yellow cake
  •  

    For The Whipped Cream

  • Crème fraîche (buy it or make it with this recipe)
  • Flavored whipped cream—lavender or spice, for example (recipes)
  • Ice cream/frozen yogurt
  • Mascarpone (you can make your own with this recipe)
  •  
    We intentionally omitted Cool Whip imitation whipped cream. Many people love it, but we can’t get past the ingredients, which include hydrogenated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup.

     

    SHORTCAKE BISCUITS

    Shortcake biscuits add a bit of sugar to a conventional biscuit recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Grease a cookie sheet.

    2. SIFT the dry ingredients together. Beat 2 eggs with milk and set aside.

    3. MIX 3/4 cup shortening with the dry ingredients. Add the milk and eggs and knead on a board for a few minutes.

     

    Mango-Shortcake-mangoboard-230

    Think outside the biscuit: Make mango shortcake. Here, mango ice cream replaces the traditional whipped cream. Photo courtesy The Mango Board.

     

    4. ROLL the dough out 3/4 inch thick. Cut with a round cookie cutter and bake 10 to 15 minutes on greased cookie sheet. Cool on a rack.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Cut biscuits in half. Spoon some of the fruit and any juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with whipped cream and add the shortcake top (you can serve the shortcake open face if you prefer). Spoon more fruit over the top and serve.
     
    SHORTCAKE HISTORY

    Though today’s shortcakes are usually of the biscuit or sponge cake variety, earlier American recipes called for pie crust in rounds or broken-up pieces—a recipe that can still be found in the South.

    The first strawberry shortcake recipe appeared in an English cookbook in 1588. By 1850, strawberry shortcake was being dessert served hot, with butter and sweetened cream. Around 1910, French pastry chefs replaced that topping with heavy whipped cream. [Source: Wikipedia]
     
    MORE SHORTCAKE RECIPES

  • Cupcake Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
  • Red, White & Blue Shortcake Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Carrot Cake Ice Cream

    carrot-cake-weheartfood-colorfulharvestFB-230

    A new way to enjoy carrot cake! Photo ©
    WeHeartFood.com.

     

    In 10 years of writing THE NIBBLE, we’ve covered a lot of ice cream, especially during July—National Ice Cream Month. But here’s a first for us: carrot cake ice cream.

    It’s part of today’s tip: Envision a fantasy ice cream flavor and make it.

    This week, The New York Times acknowledged National Ice Cream Month by publishing a master recipe to help you make any flavor you like.

    We had already found this recipe from the blog WeHeartFood, where Chris and Lisa took one of their (and our) favorite cakes, carrot cake, and turned it into ice cream.

    The recipe incorporates the ingredients of carrot cake—spiced nuts, whiskey-soaked currants and carrots (they’re candied). The recipe takes time, but at the end of it we’ve included our own quick version of carrot cake ice cream.

     
    CARROT CAKE ICE CREAM

    Ingredients For 1 Quart

    For The Spiced Pecans

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  •  
    For The Bourbon-Soaked Currants

  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 2 tablespoon Maker’s Mark or other bourbon
  •  
    For The Candied Carrots

  • 2 cups finely diced carrots
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 cups water
  •  

    For The Ice Cream Base

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups low-fat sour cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp chopped lemon zest
  • Spiced pecans
  • Bourbon-soaked currants
  • Candied carrots
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the spiced pecans. Heat the oven to 350°F. Toss the pecans with the butter. In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the pecans and toss to coat completely. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and cook for 12 minutes, gently stirring halfway during baking to candy the nuts. Remove the tray to a rack and cool the nuts completely. Once cool, coarsely chop the pecans. Set aside.

     

    carrots-stems-grimmway.com

    Turn us into ice cream! Photo courtesy Grimway.com.

     
    2. MAKE the spiced currants. In a small saucepan, heat the currants and bourbon until boiling. Simmer until the currants have absorbed almost all of the liquid. Remove from heat and cover the pan. Set aside to cool completely.

    3. MAKE the candied carrots. In a medium saucepan, combine the carrots, sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a low boil and cook until the syrup is reduced to about 2 tablespoons and the carrots are translucent and candied, 20 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the carrots during the last few minutes so they do not burn. Drain the carrots and set aside to cool.

    4. MAKE the ice cream base. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, blend together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Chill thoroughly.

    5. FREEZE the base in an ice cream maker. After churning, gently fold in the spiced pecans, soaked currants and candied carrot cubes. Freeze until firm.
     
    EASY CARROT CAKE ICE CREAM

    You can use this recipe with any leftover cake, including any icing. This recipe adds inclusions (“mix-ins”) appropriate to carrot cake. If you’re making a different flavor of cake ice cream, consider what to pair—chocolate chips with chocolate cake, for example.

    Ingredients

  • Container of vanilla ice cream, softened
  • Cubed carrot cake
  • Optional inclusions: nuts and currants or raisins
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT cake into half inch cubes. Blend into softened ice cream with optional inclusions.

    2. RETURN to freezer and let firm until ready to serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Lighter Beer For Summer

    While some beer drinkers quaff their chosen brew month in and month out, others follow the seasons, choosing summer beers when the weather gets hot.

    By varying recipes with different malts, hops and yeasts, craft brewers produce summer beers, The goal is to deliver flavor while keeping the body lighter and more refreshing on a hot day.

    Substituting wheat for some or all of the barley delivers a lighter body with crisp tartness. Different hops add summery notes, from the aromatic orange rind nose of Pacifica hops to the lemony, spicy flavor of the German Noble hop. Yeasts also play their part: Bavarian yeast, for example, add tropical fruit and a hint of clove.

    Brewers can add extra flavors like fresh citrus zest, coriander or thyme, or a touch of caramel malt for sweeter notes.

    For your drinking pleasure, we’ve pulled together a list of the classic summer beers. All are made by American craft brewers and available as imports. Consider having a tasting of the different styles, and pick your favorites to enjoy them through the rest of the summer. As the weeks fly by, they’ll be replaced on store shelves soon enough with Oktoberfest beer and pumpkin ale.

    Fruit Beer. These include the classic Belgian lambics (look for cherry kriek and framboise/frambozen) and newer American styles. U.S. craft brewers add fresh puréed berries or other summer fruits into the secondary fermentation.

     

    summer-ale-bottle-glassliteratureandlibation-230

    With its hazy golden color and bright character, Samuel Adams Summer Ale has crisp citrus notes from the Noble hops, wheat and lemon peel and the subtle peppery spice of grains of paradise. Photo courtesy LiteratureAndLibation.com.

     

    Hefeweizen (also called Hefeweisse, Hefeweissbier and Weissbier). This light bodied wheat beer from Bavaria can still offer great complexity; the body is crisp and effervescent. Hefeweizen is German for “yeast wheat” (Hefe = yeast, weizen = wheat); the traditional Bavarian Hefeweizen/Weissbier yeast strain creates flavors of banana and spicy clove. Hefeweizen is not filtered before bottling; thus, the yeast continue to act (this is known as bottle conditioning) and there may be sediment in the bottle (ignore it).

    Kölsch. This pale golden ale, developed in Cologne (Köln), Germany, uses a strain of yeast that gives it a very distinct flavor profile. Light straw in color with layers of delicate fruit, Kölsch has a very balanced crispness with a slight sweetness.

     

    summer-ale-2-230

    Brooklyn Summer Ale is brewed with English
    barley malt, which gives this light bodied
    golden beer a fresh bready flavor. German
    and American hops lend a light, crisp
    bitterness and a citrus/floral aroma. Photo
    courtesy Brooklyn Brewery.

     

    Summer Lager. Also called Helles-style; “Helles” is the German word for “light.” Don’t expect anything like a mass-produced American “Lite” beer: These beers are maltier and hoppier summer lagers that are bright with fresh grain character. Brewers often choose hops hops that provide notes of citrus and spice.

    Saison. Saison, the French word for season, is a French farmhouse ale. Historically, it was a refreshing summer ale made by farmers for their own consumption. Modern commercial versions are generally around 7% ABV, highly carbonated, fruity and spicy—sometimes from hops, sometimes from the addition of spices.

    Summer Ale. Also called English summer ale, this is a lighter version of a classic pale ale. It retains the wonderful flavors and aromas of ale’s malt and hops, while using a significant portion of wheat for a lighter body and crisp finish.

    Unfiltered Wheat Ale/Beer. See Hefeweizen, above. These beers are left unfiltered to retain all of the flavors derived from the malt and yeast. Don’t be put off by the cloudiness; enjoy the depth of flavor profile.

     

    Wheat Ale. Wheat enhances the mouthfeel of the beer. Some brewers add orange peel, coriander or other flavors for refreshing notes

    Witbier. A Belgian specialty, typically brewed with orange peel and coriander for summer refreshment.

    Check out the history of beer and the different styles of beer.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Banana Split

    Yesterday for National Ice Cream Month we featured the “new” ice cream sandwich, a sandwich/sundae fusion.

    Today, it’s the “new” banana split in the photo: freed from its roots.

    The traditional banana split is a type of ice cream sundae made in a long dish called a boat (hence the alternate term, banana boat).

    The banana is cut in half lengthwise (the “split”) and placed on the bottom of the boat. The banana is topped with three scoops of ice cream—vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream—placed in a row between the split banana halves. Chocolate, pineapple and strawberry sauces are spooned over the ice cream, in no particular pairing. The sundae is garnished with whipped cream, crushed nuts and a maraschino cherry.

    Check out the history of the banana split, below.

    Then, plan a banana split party, where guests create their modern interpretations. It could become your signature annual event!

     

    banana-split-nouvelle-sushisamba-ps-230

    The new banana split: exciting. Photo courtesy SushiSamba.

     

    BANANA SPLIT HISTORY

    The soda fountains of yore were the equivalent of today’s Starbuck’s, where people met for refreshments and socializing. Soda jerks were the mixologists of their day*, inventing treats to excite customers. Malted milks, banana splits and phosphates emerged at the soda fountains of neighborhood drugstore in the 1890s.

    In those days, “jerk” was not a derogatory term; it referred to the quick, sharp pull as the attendant drew the carbonated water tap forward.

    David Evans Strickler, a 23-year-old apprentice pharmacist at Tassel Pharmacy in Latrobe, Pennsylvania†, enjoyed taking on the soda jerk role and inventing sundaes at the store’s soda fountain. He invented the banana-based triple scoop ice cream sundae in 1904.

    The sundae originally cost 10 cents, twice the price of other sundaes, and caught on with students of nearby Saint Vincent College. In those pre-digital days, news of the nifty new sundae quickly spread by word-of-mouth and written correspondence.

    It must have done well for Strickler: He went on to buy the pharmacy, renaming it Strickler’s Pharmacy.

     

    banana-split-calmilkadvisorybd-230

    Traditional banana split: meh. Photo courtesy California Milk Advisory Board.

       

    The city of Latrobe celebrated the 100th anniversary of the invention of the banana split in 2004. In the same year, the National Ice Cream Retailers Association certified Latrobe as the birthplace of the banana split. It hosts an annual Great American Banana Split Festival in late August (sorry, there’s no website), and the city has the original soda fountain where the banana split was created.

    Others tried their hand at the recipe. One, published in 1907, called for a lengthwise split banana, two cones of ice cream at each end of the dish and a mound of whipped cream in between with maraschino cherry on a top. One end was covered with chopped mixed nuts and the other with chopped mixed fruits. [Source: Wikipedia]

    Here’s the history of the ice cream sundae, and the long history of ice cream in general.

     
    *Their day was the late 1800s through the early 1900s.

    †Latrobe is approximately 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The city population was 8,338 as of the 2010 census.
     
    PARTY TIME: BANANA SPLIT BAR

    How about throwing a banana split party, where guests can invent their on banana splits? Here’s what you need to put together:

  • Ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet
  • Sauces: caramel sauce/salted caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, pineapple sauce (or crushed pineapple is a good stand-in), strawberry sauce
  • Bananas, split and/or sliced
  • Chopped nuts (traditional walnuts plus pecans, pistachios and/or slivered almonds)
  • Whipped cream
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Bowls, spoons, scoopers, etc.
  •  
    Ingredients for the “new” banana split:

  • Bananas: caramelized, foster (sautéed in butter and bourbon), fried
  • Cake cubes (the easiest to slice are loaf cakes:carrot cake, chocolate cake, pound cake)
  • Candies: caramel corn/kettle corn, chocolate chips or curls, other baking chip flavors, gummies, mini marshmallows, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces sprinkles, seasonal candies (like candy corn), toffee bits
  • Crumbled cookies: chocolate waters, meringues, oatmeal cookies, Oreos)
  • Fruits: berries; mango, melon and/or pineapple chunks
  • Wild card: brandied cherries and tart cherries, candied bacon, edible flowers, granola, marshmallow cream
  •   

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