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TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Recipe You’ve Been Saving “For The Right Time”

We have the bad habit of collecting recipes. Not making them, mind you, just collecting them.

Whether torn from magazines or saved digitally, we have so many recipes, we could publish a cookbook series called “Recipes We Never Tried.”

Yesterday, we tore from The New York Times the this recipe for namoura, a Lebanese semolina pan cake, soaked in a flavored sugar-syrup and garnished with almonds.

It sounded delicious and we wanted to try it, but we wondered if we’d ever get around to making it. And then we created a tip for ourselves:

A Really Good Idea

Once a month, go through the collection of Recipes We Never Tried and make one, just one. At the same time, toss 10 recipes we’re not likely to make anytime soon, if ever.

If you do this on a Friday night or Saturday morning, you have the weekend to cook the chosen recipe.

Following the accounting principle of FIFO—first in, first out—we’re making namoura on Saturday. If we don’t get to Kalustyan’s for lavender extract, we’ll use rose water.

What We’re Tossing Today

Digging through the pile, we came across the recipe below, from Whole Foods. We’re not sure why we saved it; we make crostini with goat cheese and strawberries often.

But since it’s summer and strawberries are a nice summer crostini topping, before we hit the delete button, we share it with you, adapted from the original.

More Summer Crostini Suggestions

Try this BLT guacamole crostini recipe with juicy summer heirloom cherry tomatoes.

For entertaining, set up a DIY crostini bar (or if you’re outdoors near a grill, a DIY bruschetta bar.

The difference between crostini and bruschetta starts with the bread: crostini is toasted; bruschetta is rubbed with a garlic clove, brushed with olive oil and grilled.

RECIPE: GOAT CHEESE & STRAWBERRY OR TOMATO CROSTINI

Ingredients

  • 12 slices baguette, lightly toasted
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese or other spreadable cheese
  • 1 cup diced strawberries (or berries of choice, or tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Feta-Pear Crostini

    Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

    Pint Of Strawberries

    Cherry Tomatoes

    [1] and [2] The crostini recipe (photos courtesy Whole Foods) with [3] strawberries (photo courtesy Good Eggs). Or, [4] substitute tomatoes for the strawberries (photo courtesy Sunset Produce).

     
    1. SPREAD the toasted baguette slices with goat cheese and top with strawberries and basil, pressing to help the strawberry pieces adhere.

    2a. DRIZZLE with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with basil and a generous amount of black pepper.

    2b. VARIATION: Instead of drizzling, toss the diced berries and basil in oil and vinegar.

    The variation makes the crostini less drippy than if they were drizzled with oil and vinegar; and it better integrates the strawberries and basil. The net taste remains the same.

    FOOD 101: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN APPETIZERS & HORS D’OEUVRE

    These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference:

    Hors d’oeuvre, pronounced or-DERV, a French term that refers to finger food(s) served with drinks prior to the meal. The name means “outside the work,” i.e., not part of the main meal.

    Hors d’oeuvre were traditionally one-bite items, artistically constructed, like canapés (a subgroup of hors d’oeuvre). Today, in the U.S., the category of has expanded to include such bites as mini quiches and tarts, skewers, baby lamb chops, stuffed mushrooms, etc.

    Note that in French, there’s no extra “s” for the plural: It’s the same spelling as the singular form.

    An appetizer is a first course, served at the table and, in larger portions than hors d’oeuvre.

    While you can plate multiple hors d’oeuvres as an appetizer, an appetizer can be many things—from a crab cake to a plated slice of quiche to a salad (in the U.S.—the French serve salad after the main course).

    What about crackers and cheese, crudités and dips, salsa and chips, and other American snack foods served with pre-dinner drinks?

    Since they are finger foods, technically you can call them hors d’oeuvre. Or, as the French might say (sneer?), American hors d’oeuvre.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12 Ingredients For Summer Tacos

    Summer Chicken Tacos

    Fish Mango Tacos

    Chicken tacos with radish and avocado. Here’s the recipe from Heather Christo. [2] Fish tacos with mango. Here’s the recipe from How Sweet It Is.

     

    The 2017 summer solstice falls on Wednesday, June 21st at 12:24 A.M. If you’re having a midnight dinner tonight, you can officially have summer tacos.

    What are summer tacos? Tacos with lighter ingredients: chicken, fish and vegetarian instead of beef; summer vegetables used as garnish or in vegetarian tacos.

    Bonus: These ingredients are more bountiful in the summer; hence, better priced.

    Here are 12 ingredients to add to your tacos:

    1. Basil. While it’s available year-round, fresh basil in a Caprese salad is the aroma of summer. Add some shredded basil to the taco or mix chopped basil into salsa. If you’re near a farmers market, pick up different varieties: lemon basil, opal (purple) basil, etc.

    2. Beans. Add beans and/or grilled tofu to a vegetarian taco. Use black beans, or think outside the conventional box of beans.

    3. Chives. For a subtle onion flavor, consider some chopped chives. We often add chopped red onion; but in the hot weather, chives are a lighter alternative.

    4. Corn. Use fresh corn kernels as a topping. You don’t need to cook them. Or, make corn salsa.

    5. Eggplant. While not the most obvious addition to a taco, it makes a delicious vegetarian taco and also pairs well with chicken and fish. Grill it and add it. For a vegetarian taco, combine it with summer squash and beans.

    6. Fish. Most Tex-Mex restaurants use frozen tilapia, a lower-cost fish (better restos use mahi-mahi). After you fry it and add the garnishes, who notices? We notice! During the summer, better fish are available in larger quantities; thus the price goes down. Treat yourself to black sea bass or striped bass, grouper, hake, mahi-mahi or red snapper (if you like strong fish flavors, we recommend bluefish, usually a bargain). Enjoy the fresh fish flavor with grilled—not battered and fried—fish.

    7. Jalapeños. Pickle your own: Slice them and add to a jar with brining liquid to cover (one part white vinegar, one part water and a big pinch each of salt and sugar). Add garlic or other spices or aromatics (e.g. diced onion). Then cap the jar, shake to blend, and keep in the fridge.

    8. Mango and pineapple. Dice and use them as a sweet contrast. We like mango as is, and the pineapple grilled.

     
    9. Radishes. This spicy veg adds crunch to the taco. Check farmers markets for heirloom varieties.

    10. Summer squash. Zucchini and yellow squash, also available year-round, are at their best in the summer. Chop them raw, add grilled zucchini to chicken and fish tacos, make squash salsa.

    11. Tomatillos. These green orbs—not related to tomatoes—are the base of salsa verde. You can add them raw, sliced, to the taco, or make your own salsa verde. Simply husk the tomatillos, give them a light char on the grill or under the broiler, and toss them into a food processor with cilantro, sliced jalapeños, salt and lime juice.

    12. Tomatoes. They’re at their best and least expensive in summer. Treat yourself to heirloom tomatoes. Diced or sliced, they make a big difference over the bland plum tomatoes used year-round.
     
     
    These ingredients will make better Taco Tuesdays, for sure!

    Tonight we’re having black bean, grilled zucchini and corn tacos. How about you?

     
      

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    PRODUCT: Grow Your Own Tea

    If you live in hardiness zones 8-10—the southern United States—and have a spot with full sun, you can grow your own tea with plants from Burpee.

    One individual commenting on the Burpee website had success in Zone 6.

    Here’s the USDA map of hardiness zones.

    Tea, Camellia sinensis, is a perennial plant. The same plant yields black, green and white tea. The difference is in the processing; basically, how much heat is applied to dry the leaves.

    At $16.95 per plant, it’s a fun opportunity to grow what you drink; and if you have younger children, a nifty project.

    You harvest and dry the tea leaves in a wok or pan.

    Buy the plants now and harvest them in the fall. Send some as gifts to tea-loving friends with green thumbs. Here’s where to order.

    Different states have particular shipping restrictions. For example, you can’t ship lemongrass plants to California or Colorado, or potato plants to Florida or Montana.

    Check here to see if tea plants can be shipped to your state.
     
     
    PREFER HERBAL TEA?

    Herbs can be grown anywhere! Read our article on growing herbal tea at home.
     
     
    TEA TIME: TIME TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TEA

    A Year Of Tea Party Ideas

    Black Vs. Green Vs. White Tea

    Brewing The Perfect Cup Of Tea

    Have An Iced Tea Party

    The History Of Tea

    Pairing Tea With Food

    Tea Glossary: All The Tea Terms You Need To Know

     

    Grow Your Own Tea
    Grow it.

    Cup Of Tea
    Drink it.

    Cup Of Green Tea

    Enjoy it! (Photo #1 courtesy Burpee, photo #2 courtesy Chateau Rouge Fine Foods, photo #3 courtesy Republic Of Tea._

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Special Cake Fillings

    Naked Cake With Strawberry Filling

    Apricot Whipped Cream Cake Filling

    Red Velvet Cake Filling

    Cake Layers With Different Fillings

    [1] A pumpkin naked cake with a filling of whipped cream and fresh raspberries (photo courtesy Driscoll’s Berries. [2] A white chocolate cake filled with whipped cream and chopped dried apricots. Here’s the recipe from Epicurious. [3] Chocolate cake with red velvet cake filling, based on cream cheese. Here’s the recipe from Cook The Story. [4] Three different fillings: key lime, raspberry and blood orange. Here are more from Brides.

     

    If you bake layer cakes, even only now and then, from box or from scratch, here’s an easy tip to make yours more special:

    Add something fun and tasty to the filling between layers.

    FOR MORE CAKE FUN, CHECK OUT ARE CAKE GLOSSARY

    TYPES OF CAKE FILLINGS

    Common cake fillings include:

  • Buttercream*
  • Cream cheese*
  • Custard
  • Ganache*
  • Jam
  • Lemon or other curd
  • Whipped cream* with liqueur, nut-flavored buttercream or pure whipped cream
  •  
    The asterisked* cake fillings are easier to flavor, with anything, from fruit to Nutella to rum.

    Additionally, each filling can be made more complex complex with the addition of:

  • Citrus zest or peel
  • Dried fruits: berries, coconut, raisins, and others that complement the cake flavors
  • Crushed or sliced nuts
  • Extracts
  • Fresh fruits, diced or sliced
  • Fresh or dried fruits, soaked in liqueurs or spirits
  • Liqueurs or spirits (the difference is below)
  •  
    ADD SOME CANDY TO YOUR FILLING

    You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate a bit of candy in your cake.

  • Candy: M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, Heath Bar or Skor Bits, Red Hots, etc.
  • Chocolate: chips, chunks, curls (dark, milk, white)
  • Cake decorations: confetti, sprinkles, sugar pearls,
  •  
    FILLING, FROSTING, ICING: THE DIFFERENCE

    Filling goes between the layers of a cake. Each layer can have a different filling; for example, one layer of ganache and one layer of custard. The frosting of a cake can be used as the filling as well.

    Frosting is used to cover the top and sides of a cake, and often as a filling between the layers. It is typically made from sugar plus a fat such as butter and/or milk or cream. Frosting is generally flavored with vanilla extract or other flavoring—cocoa powder, coffee, lemon, lime, orange, strawberry, etc. A vanilla frosting can be colored with food coloring, which adds gaiety without additional flavor.

    Icing is technically different from frosting. Icing is made with confectioner’s sugar, also called icing sugar. Most consumers aren’t aware of this technicality, and use the words interchangeably.
     
    LIQUOR & LIQUEUR: THE DIFFERENCE

    Liquors are distilled spirits; that’s why they’re also known as spirits.

    They are made of grains or other plants that are fermented and distilled into high-proof alcoholic beverages. Bourbon, gin, rum, scotch, tequila and vodka are examples.

    The distillation process separates the water from the alcohol, increasing the alcohol content to at least 20%/40 proof. Japanese shochu is an example of this. Western spirits are typically distilled to 40% alcohol/80 proof, although some rums are distilled to a higher proof.

    Liqueurs are sweetened spirits. with with various extracts, oils and other flavors added. Brandy, rum and whiskey are common base spirits for liqueurs.

     
    Liqueur flavors vary widely—from chocolate and coffee to fruit, herb and nut flavors.

  • Cream liqueurs have dairy cream added.
  • Créme liqueurs are different: They refer to a much sweeter likened to a potent syrup, as opposed to the original liquers, made from medicinal fruits, herbs and roots. Think Grand Marnier as opposed to Benedictine.

    The alcohol content of liqueurs ranges from a low of 15%/30 proof to 55%/110 proof.

    Here’s the difference between cordial, eau de vie, liqueur and schnapps.

     
      

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    PRODUCTS: Five More Favorite Foods & Beverages

    Another roundup of some recently discovered “favorites,” in alphabetical order.

    1. BAI BUBBLES

    Bai became a hot brand with its Bai 5 line of five-calorie drinks in great-tasting fruit flavors.

    Now, the brand has a carbonated line, Bai Bubbles: a “sparkling antioxidant infusion” in 11.5-ounce cans.

    We’re not inveterate soda drinkers, but Bai Bubbles achieves a middle ground between unsweetened flavored club soda and sweet diet soda.

    Like the original Bai 5, each can has 5 calories and 1 gram of sugar, with the majority of its sweetness coming from calorie-free stevia, a naturally sweetener.

    Everyone will have his or her favorites in this refreshing line, which has 10 flavors: Apple Pear, Blackberry Lime, Black Cherry, Blood Orange, Coconut Lime, Guava, Limón, Pineapple, Pink Grapefruit and Watermelon Lime.

    Bai Bubbles is available at Walmart and other retailers nationwide. The line is certified kosher by OU.

    Learn more at DrinkBai.com.
     
     
    2. COOKIE CHIPS: CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

    We love Cookie Chips. They’re very thin and crunchy, very tasty, nicely buttery and rather small, so you can have a few without much guilt (5 cookies have 120 calories).

    Flavors include Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Sugar, Coconut White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Chip, Original (a buttery sugar cookie), Peanut Butter and Sea Salted Caramel; plus Gluten Free Chocolate Chip and Gluten Free Lemon Sugar.

    They’re available in 6-ounce bags and 1.5-ounce single serve packages. The latter are a good strategy, as we’re tempted to eat half the 6-ounce bag.

    The line is certified kosher by Kosher LA. Discover more at CookieChips.com.
     
     
    3. LANCE SANDWICH CRACKERS: POWER BREAK

    Lance makes dozens of different sandwich crackers, most variations of peanut butter and cheese.

    In a new direction, Lance has just launched Lance Power Break: granola crackers sandwiched with peanut butter or peanut butter and chocolate. They call it “a pumped up snack that gives you energy…

    Power Break is the first sandwich cracker with double-digit protein (12 grams), B vitamins and 13 grams of whole grain to keep you going.”

    We can’t vouch for the science, but they sure taste great. Load up for grab-and-go snacks.

    The line is certified kosher by OU. See more at Lance.com.

       

    Bai Bubbles

    Cookie Chips Chocolate Chip

    Lance Power Break

    New favorites: [1] Bai Bubbles, [2] Cookie Chips and [3] Lance Power Break granola sandwich crackers (photos courtesy their respective manufacturers).

     

    Polar Diet Double Fudge

    Snyders Wholey Cheese

    [4] Polar Beverage’s very chocolatey Double Fudge Diet Soda. [5] Wholey Cheese! gluten-free cheese crackers (photos are courtesy their respective manufacturers).

     

    POLAR BEVERAGES: DOUBLE FUDGE DIET SODA

    One of our readers turned us on to this zero-calorie chocolate fudge soda. Wowsa, is it good!

    We have long enjoyed the delicious flavored seltzers of the brand: The company does a great job with flavors and zero calories.

    But we only recently received the 411 on the diet sodas. We promptly went out and bought a bottle of Double Fudge Diet Soda…and then went out and bought two cases.

  • Drink it straight.
  • Make a diet ice cream soda.
  • Add milk for an egg cream.
  •  
    The line is certified kosher by Diamond K. Find out more at PolarBev.com.
     
     
    SNYDER’S OF HANOVER: WHOLEY CHEESE!

    We’re big fans of Snyder’s of Hanover pretzels: so many styles from traditional to braided, chocolate-dipped, flavored pieces, sourdough and gluten-free.

    The company recently launched round pretzel sandwiches in Brick Oven Style Pizza, Cheddar Cheese and Hummus.

    But our favorite of the new products is Wholey Cheese!: crispy, baked cheese crackers with amusing Swiss cheese-type holes (or should that be wholes?).

    The line is all natural and gluten-free, in three flavors: Mild Cheddar, Smoked Gouda and Swiss & Black Pepper. The company says they have 28% less fat than the leading brand of cheese crackers

    Like the pretzels, Wholey Cheese! crackers are great with a soda or beer, or just by themselves. Try them as salad croutons, too.

    The line is certified kosher by OU. Head to SnydersOfHanover.com to see the entire collection.

    Did You Know: The same company that makes Snyder’s Pretzels also makes Lance Sandwich Crackers, Pop-Secret Popcorn and Kettle Chips: all great brands!

     

      

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