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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.

RECIPE: Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream

Happy birthday Thomas Jefferson! Born April 13, 1743, this Founding Father became America’s third president; but he was America’s First Foodie.

According to culinary historian Karen Hess, Jefferson was “our most illustrious epicure, in fact, our only epicurean President.”

He loved his veggies, stating that they “constitute my principal diet.” His favorites: tennis-ball lettuce, Brown Dutch lettuce, prickly-seeded spinach and for fruit, Marseilles figs. He sought out new produce varieties from the foreign consuls in Washington, and is credited with introducing broccoli to mainstream America.

He is credited with popularizing fried eggplant, French fries, johnny-cakes, gumbo, mashed potatoes, peanuts, sesame seed oil and sweet potato pudding, among other dishes, blending colonial cuisine with African (slave), Colonial, Creole, European and Native American traditions.[Source]

At the time Jefferson left to serve as minister to France, in 1784, the mainstays of American colonial cooking were primarily meats—baked, boiled, roasted or stewed—breads, heavily sweetened desserts and [generally] overcooked vegetables. [Source]

The sophistication of French cuisine and his travel to another culinary stronghold, Italy, broadened his perspective. He returned to America with recipes, foodstuffs (French wine, olive oil and vanilla beans) and cooking gear, including a pasta machine.

   

vanilla-scraped-from-pot-nielsenmassey-230

Long before the invention of the crank ice cream machine, strong-armed kitchen staff would whisk the mix in a vat set in a bowl of ice. Photo courtesy Nielsen Massey.

 
And with a French-trained chef: his slave James Hemings, brother of Sally. As a member of Jefferson’s Paris household, the 19-year-old was trained in French cooking at the direction of his master, with the promise that he would be given his freedom after returning to Monticello and training a successor.

Ultimately taking charge of the kitchen at Jefferson’s Paris home, the gifted young man cooked for some of the most distinguished and discriminating people in France. As a freed man, he continued to work as a chef.

 

thomas-jefferson-recipe-smithsonian-230

In his own hand, Jefferson’s ice cream recipe. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

 

JEFFERSON BRINGS ICE CREAM TO AMERICA

Upon his return from France in 1789, Jefferson brought 200 vanilla beans and an ice cream recipe. [Source: IceCream.com]

There were no ice cream machines—the hand-cranked version had yet to be invented, in 1843—so strong-armed kitchen staff would hand-whisk the mixture in a bowl placed in a vat of ice.

The result had a mousse-like consistency rather than the freezer-hardened ice cream we know today. But chilled and creamy, and flavored with exotic vanilla beans, it was a delight of high society (only the wealthy could afford the vanilla, the labor and the ice).

Jefferson’s original, hand-written recipe is housed in the Library of Congress. Nielsen-Massey, vendor of premium vanilla beans from around the world, adapted the original recipe so you can make it at home.

It calls for 1¼ cups of sugar, a saucepan and an ice cream maker, instead of a half-pound of sugar, an open cooking fire and a very strong person or two to churn it by hand.

 
RECIPE: THOMAS JEFFERSON’S VANILLA ICE CREAM

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts heavy cream
  • 6 yolks of eggs
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and lightened in color. Set aside.

    2. PLACE the cream in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with the tip of a small knife. Scrape both sides of the bean with the knife’s dull side and add the seeds and bean to the cream. Place the saucepan over medium heat until the mixture is nearly boiling.

    3. REMOVE the cream mixture from the heat, and very slowly add ½ cup of the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the now-warmed egg yolk mixture into the hot cream, whisking to combine.

    4. RETURN the saucepan to the stove, stirring constantly over medium heat until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Allow mixture to chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

    5. CHURN the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

     
    *You can use Tahitian or Mexican vanilla beans in place of the conventional Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans to highlight different vanilla flavors. You can also susbstitute vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract: 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste is equivalent to 1 vanilla bean.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Cheese Wedding Cake

    The jury is out on wedding cakes. They’re a long-standing tradition, but how many people actually look forward to eating that slice of cake?

    Many people we know would prefer a cheese plate for dessert. And surprise: In the U.K., cheese wheels layered like a wedding cake are gaining traction. Why not bring the tradition to the U.S.?

    You can have a cheese wedding cake as a replacement for a classic wedding cake or in addition to it.

    Here are instructions to build your own, from Andy Swinscoe of The Courtyard Dairy in North Yorkshire, England. Andy was the World Cheese Awards 2013 Cheesemonger of The Year.

    Here’s a gallery of gorgeous cheese wedding cakes on his website.

     

    cheese-cake-2-thecourtyarddairy.co.uk-230

    A cheese wedding cake. Photo courtesy The Court Dairy.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Enjoy Rhubarb

    rhub-230

    By the time it gets to market, the leaves
    (which are mildly toxic) are typically cut off
    rhubarb, and only the stalks are sold.
    Rhubarb looks like pink celery, but it isn’t
    related. Photo courtesy OurOhio.com.

     

    Spring is rhubarb season. It parallels asparagus season, available fresh for just three months a year—April through June.

    So make rhubarb while you can. Naturally tangy, this versatile vegetable can be used in savory sauces or cooked as a vegetable. When combined with sugar it pops into delicious desserts, which is why sweet rhubarb has become more popular than savory preparations.

    Rhubarb first grew wild in northwest China, and was cultivated as far back as 5,000 years ago, for medicinal purposes. Before it was first sweetened by British cooks in the Victorian era, it was added to soups, sauces and stews—Moroccan tagines and Middle Eastern stews, for example.

    The thinner and darker pink the fresh rhubarb stalks are, the sweeter they will be. When shopping for rhubarb, look for stalks that are crisp, bright pink, thin, and unblemished.

    Check your farmers markets and specialty food stores for rhubarb products, fresh-baked (pies, tarts) or prepared (chutneys, jams).

    At the grocer’s, Dry Soda makes a rhubarb flavor; rhubarb syrup to mix into drinks, on pancakes, etc. (you can also find strawberry rhubarb syrup).

     
    COOKING WITH RHUBARB

    Be sure to cook only the stems; the leaves are mildly toxic.

    Savory Uses For Rhubarb

  • Braised and served with meats and as a savory garnish (recipe)
  • Fresh rhubarb in lentil soup (recipe)
  • Homemade rhubarb pickles
  • Hot & sour tilapia with gingered rhubarb sauce (recipe)
  • Rhubarb chutney as a condiment with grilled meats (recipe with pork loin)
  • Rhubarb chutney with a meat and cheese board
  • Rhubarb chutney or jam on a grilled cheese or ham and cheese sandwich
  •  
    Sweet Uses For Rhubarb

  • Baked into cobblers, crisps, muffins and more (substitute rhubarb for apples or pears in your favorite recipes)
  • Rhubarb dessert soup (recipe)
  • Rhubarb chutney (recipe)
  • Rhubarb jam (recipe) or rhubarb and ginger jam (recipe)
  • Rhubarb ice cream (recipe)
  • Rhubarb simple syrup for beverages (cocktails, club soda, water, juice) or as a breakfast syrup (recipe)
  • Stewed rhubarb or rhubarb compote, delicious as a side with ham, pork and poultry, does double duty as a dessert (recipe below).
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (recipe—you can substitute raspberries)
  • Tofu pudding with rhubarb topping (recipe—substitute your favorite pudding)
  •  

    RECIPE: NANA’S STEWED RHUBARB

    You can use soft and sweet stewed rhubarb by itself, with an optional topping of crème fraîche, sour cream or Greek yogurt. We also like it:

  • With fresh berries or other fruit
  • On a biscuit or slice of cake with whipped cream
  • Atop cheesecake
  • Atop or mixed into yogurt
  • In tart shells or pavlovas (meringue shells)
  •  
    We loved our Nana’s stewed rhubarb so much, we visited twice weekly during rhubarb season just to get our fill.

    This easy recipe requires only three ingredients—rhubarb, sugar, water and lemon juice—with optional flavorings (you can substitute a teaspoon of vanilla for the tablespoon of lemon juice).

    For a purée, like applesauce, run the cooked rhubarb through a food mill or food processor.

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound rhubarb
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Optional: raspberries, strawberries
  •  

    stewed-rhubarb-BalticMaid-230

    A seasonal delight: sweet and tangy stewed rhubarb. Photo courtesy BalticMaid.com.

     
    Preparation

    1. TRIM, wash and dice the rhubarb. Combine in a saucepan with the water, sugar, lemon juice and optional sliced berries.

    2. BRING the water to a boil and then simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is slightly thickened and the rhubarb is is in threads (stringy), about 15 minutes.  

    3. COOL and chill or serve warm.
     
    ABOUT RHUBARB

    Technically, rhubarb is a vegetable, a member of the sorrel family (the difference between fruits and vegetables). Native to Asia, rhubarb has long been used in Chinese medicine.

    Fruits carry their seeds inside; vegetable seeds scatter in the wind. You see seeds in an apple, avocado, cucumber and tomato, but not in broccoli, carrots or lettuce. Lacking sweetness doesn’t make it a vegetable.

    Rhubarb, Rheum rhabarbarum, is a vegetable in the family Polygonaceae. The leaf stalks (petioles) are crisp like celery with a strong, tart taste. Rhubarb looks like rosy-pink celery, but is no relation (celery is a member of the Apiaceae family).
     
    Fruit Vs. Vegetable

    While rhubarb is botanically considered a vegetable, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits. [Source: Wikipedia]

    And that’s only one example. Science notwithstanding, on May 10, 1893, tomatoes, a red fruit/berry of the Nightshade family, were declared a vegetable by the United States Supreme Court.

    At the time, there were import tariffs on vegetables but not fruits, yet tomatoes were still being subjected to the tax. In 1887, an importing company had sued the tax collector of the Port of New York to recover back duties collected on their tomatoes, which they claimed had been wrongfully classified as vegetables.

    The Court decided that the tariff act should be based “in common language of people,” not botanists, so tomatoes should be taxed like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets etc.

    More proof that justice is blind.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Good Natured Vegetable Crisps

    vegetable-crips-2-bags-herrs-230

    A new way to eat your veggies! Photo courtesy Herr Foods.

     

    Americans love salty snacks, as evidenced by the never-ending stream of new chips on the market.

    From Herr’s, an estimable regional potato chip producer, comes a tasty new line in their Good Natured Selects series of baked crisps: gluten-free veggie chips called Vegetable Crisps, in Original and Ranch.

    In addition to flavor and crunch, they contain a half serving of your DV of vegetables in every ounce serving, which includes 35% of your DV of vitamins A and C.

    Real bell peppers, carrots and spinach in each chip deliver vitamins, with a flavor profile and texture that will please the most invelterate junk food lover (and those who’d like something better, too).

    Similar to other crunchy snacks, they’re 110 calories per one-ounce serving.

     

    Made from the finest all-natural ingredients, the chips contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives, no satuarated fat or trans fat. They’re certified kosher, OU(D).

    For the veg-averse, eating veggies will never taste better.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fun With Asparagus

    It’s asparagus season: The bright green stalks are at their freshest, most flavorful and affordable. In addition to the familiar green, look for purple and white asparagus.

    In the April-June window of fresh American-grown asparagus, you can simply steam fresh stalks to al dente—so tasty they don’t even require butter or lemon mayonnaise.

    Low in calories, asparagus are a dieter’s delight. Plan how you’ll enjoy asparagus season in new and different ways.

    Sure, it’s delicious for

  • Breakfast: in an omelet, frittata, scrambled eggs, poached eggs or as a side with Eggs Benedict.
  • Lunch: added to a salad, a conventional sandwich or a wrap; make a salad with sliced beef or lamb; asparagus soup.
  • First Course: asparagus with red grapefruit; asparagus with bacon or pancetta*.
  • Dinner: An asparagus salad with your protein (here, Greek style with feta, kalamata olives, mint and red onion); grilled salmon with asparagus and pineapple salsa; scallops with asparagus and morels.
  •    

    asparagus-crudites-kaminsky-230

    You don’t even have to cook. Just lightly steam asparagus in the microwave for a minute or more. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | BittersweetBlog.com.

  • Sides: grilled asparagus (recipe with mushrooms and shaved Parmesan), grilled rack of asparagus, sweet and spicy asparagus; stir-fried; pickled asparagus.
  • Or, make asparagus Pasta, pizza or risotto.
  •  
    *Cook the bacon, then use the drippings to moisten the asparagus. Top with cut or crumbled bacon, and sprinkle with optional grated Parmesan.

     

    crostini-asparagus-kaminsky-230

    Crostini, topped with hummus and sliced asparagus. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | BittersweetBlog.com.

     

    ASPARAGUS FOR SNACKING OR HORS D’OEUVRE

  • Snack on plain, steamed asparagus for a delicious low-calorie snack. You can mix yogurt and Dijon mustard or use balsamic vinaigrette if you need a dip.
  • Include asparagus in a crudités platter (for uncooked asparagus, look for the thinnest ones; or blanch thicker ones).
  • Add asparagus to a snacking plate of hummus or other spreads and dips, charcuterie, cheese, gherkins and/or olives with crackers or breads.
  • Make asparagus crostini, with either hummus or grated cheese.
  •  

    HOW TO BUY ASPARAGUS

    Select bright green asparagus with closed, compact, firm tips and smooth, tender skin. Try to find even-size spears. Size is measured by diameter, and ranges from small (3/16 inch) to jumbo (7/8 inch).

    The tenderness of the asparagus relates to color, not size. The greener (or whiter for white asparagus) the spears, the more tender they’ll be.

     
    Fat spears are just as tender as thin ones; the only difference is that the ends of fatter asparagus are woodier at the cut end.

    With very thin asparagus, you can often eat the last millimeter. If you’re concerned that they won’t be tender, cut them off and try them once they’re steamed. Then, toss them into omelets, rice, salads, etc. If they’re too tough to enjoy, you can use them in a purée, sauce or soup.

    Of course, you should cut off the dried out cut end before cooking.
     
    HOW TO PREPARE ASPARAGUS FOR COOKING

  • If the tips of the asparagus are slightly wilted, freshen them by soaking them in cold water.
  • Keep fresh asparagus moist until you intend to use it—in the fridge, wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag.
  • The bottom of asparagus stalks are tough and should be trimmed before cooking. Using a vegetable peeler, first lightly strip off the bottom few inches of skin. Next, gently bend the bottom of the stalk until it snaps off. Don’t force it—it will naturally break in the correct spot.

     
    THE HISTORY OF ASPARAGUS

    The asparagus plant is a member of the lily family, Asparagaceae, which also includes agave. There are more than 300 species of asparagus, most of which are grown as ornamental plants.

    Asparagus were first cultivated more than 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region.

    The ancient Greeks and Romans prized asparagus for its unique flavor, texture and alleged medicinal qualities. The vegetable gained popularity in France and England in the 16th Century; King Louis XIV of France enjoyed this delicacy so much that he had special greenhouses built to supply it year-round. Early colonists brought it to America.

    Asparagus is a perennial plant raised in furrowed fields. It takes about three years before the plants produce asparagus. The delicate plant needs a temperate climate and requires much hand labor in all phases of cultivation. The spears are cut by hand when they reach about 9 inches in length.

    Asparagus is nutritious: a good source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and zinc; and a very good source of copper, dietary fiber, folate, iron, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) and vitamin K. It is very low in calories, and contains no fat or cholesterol.

    Eat up!

      

  • Comments

    TRENDS: Restaurant Produce

    Many of us who love to cook get ideas from creative restaurant chefs. It’s their job to present new and different preparations to tempt customers.

    It could be as simple as produce (NB the onslaught of kale, first in restaurants, then in our homes). What’s next?

    Nation’s Restaurant News polled nearly 1,300 chefs in its annual What’s Hot survey. The chefs pointed to produce that distinguishes them from their competitors and gives them cred for sourcing specialty items. Here are what they see as the top produce trends for 2015.

    LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE

    Consumers like to see locally grown produce on the menu. It shows support for the community, an appreciation for seasonality and reduction of carbon miles, the extra fuel required to the transport food from farther distances. It is the top trend noted by the chefs in the survey.

     

    chervil-bunch-www.herbtable.com-230

    Easy for home cooks: Try chervil instead of parsley. Photo courtesy HerbTable.com.

     
    ORGANIC PRODUCE

    Americans have growing awareness of the desirability of organic produce—fruits and vegetables raised without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. “Organic” on a menu is well received (even when consumers don’t buy organic produce for their own kitchens); and all-organic chains such as Sweetgreen are finding success.
     

    UNUSUAL HERBS

    It’s time to think beyond parsley. Chefs with classical French training are turning to chervil as a garnish, Mexican restaurants are wrapping more foods in hoja santa and Japanese chefs are using kinome, leaves of the sansho/Szechuan pepper plant.

     
    HEIRLOOM FRUIT

    Heirloom apples, grown from seeds that are passed down from generation to generation, are making a comeback. Heirloom foods fell out of favor because they are more difficult to grow, more expensive and/or other reasons that made farmers turn to other varieties—even if those varieties are less flavorful. You can look for heirloom varieties in your local farmers market. Ask the farmer to point them out.

     
    EXOTIC FRUIT

    Chefs have a growing interest in fruit that’s a little out of the ordinary. It could be açaí and goji berries added to fruit beverages and fruit salads, or desserts made with Asian pear or dragon fruit.

    What’s your favorite fruit or veggie trend?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hummus Salad

    hummus-salad-chalkpointkitchen

    Use hummus as the base of a salad. Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen | NYC.

     

    Last month we featured 20 different ways to use hummus. But we left off at least one: this hummus salad.

    This appetizer concept, by Executive Chef Joe Isidori of Chalk Point Kitchen in New York City, piles crunchy veggies atop a base of hummus, served with a side of pita wedges.

    First, consider the hummus. Chef Isidori makes his own, but if you’re buying yours, check out the myriad of flavored hummus—everything from roasted garlic to spicy chipotle.

    Cut up your “salad”—beets, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, olives, pickled vegetables (Chef Isidori used pickle onions, we used dilly beans), radishes, etc.—and toss it lightly in a vinaigrette. You can top the hummus with romaine or other crunchy lettuce before adding the other vegetables.

    For a final flourish, top with minced fresh herbs and some optional feta cheese, and serve with toasted pita chips.

    You can easily turn this into a light lunch or vegan dinner, and feel good that you’re eating healthfully, sustainably and tastily.

     
    We’ve also got 20+ ways to make a hummus sandwich.

    EASY VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    There’s no need to buy bottled vinaigrette. Just open a bottle of olive oil and a bottle of vineagar—two kitchen staples—measure them in a ratio of 3:1 and whisk vigorously.

    Start with 3 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a pinch of dry mustard. The latter helps the emulsion stay together and contributes a wee bit o flavor.

    The magic comes when you use different oils—flavored oils, nut oils—and vinegars; substitute lemon or lime juice for some or all of the vinegar; and add other flavor dimensions such as condiments (chopped olives, mustard, relish), heat, herbs and sweetness (honey, maple syrup).

    Here’s our master article on how to create great vinaigrette.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake

    Hello Kitty, whose “real” name is Kitty White, is a cartoon character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio. She is a white Japanese bobtail cat with a red hair bow.

    From her first appearance on a vinyl coin purse in Japan in 1974 (it arrived in the U.S. in 1976), Hello Kitty exploded into a global marketing phenomenon. Last year it had sales of $7 billion—all without any advertising. That’s a lot of hellos.

    Hello Kitty is the delight not only of pre-adolescent girls—the original target market—but teens, college and adult women as well. Her endearing face can be found on everything from school supplies to fashion accessories and high-end consumer products.

    We recently spotted a tiny Hello Kitty face on the temples of our friend Irma’s new eyeglasses. (She bought the glasses because she liked the style, and didn’t pay any attention to Kitty.)

     

    Hello Kitty Slice Out-230

    Say Hello Kitty, then enjoy a slice. Photo courtesy Rich Products.

     

    Now, Rich Products Cop. of Buffalo, maker of supermarket ice cream cakes, has licensed Kitty’s image.

    This cake is all ice cream with a Cool Whip-type frosting decor. The confetti on the sides of the cake is also mixed into the body of the cake.

    The cake is certified kosher dairy by KOF-K.

    Need a fun cake for a special occasion? Look for Hello Kitty in your grocer’s ice cream section. You can find Kitty at A&P, Big Y, Giant Eagle, King Kullen, King’s, Market Basket, Price Shopper, Publix, Redner’s, Shaws, Shop Rite, Target Wal-Mart, Wegman’s and other retailers.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Cinnamon Crescent Rolls

    cinnamon-crescent-tasteofhome-230-ps

    Make warm and fragrant cinnamon crescents
    for breakfast or brunch. Photo courtesy Taste
    Of Home.

     

    Today is National Cinnamon Crescent Day.

    Crescent is the English word for croissant, the buttery, crescent-shaped laminated dough breakfast roll (there’s more about croissants below). Make your own with this recipe from Taste Of Home.

    RECIPE: CINNAMON CRESCENTS (CROISSANTS)

    Ingredients For 4 Dozen Small Rolls

  • 6-1/2 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 egg yolks
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened, divided
  •  
    For The Glaze

  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

    2. HEAT the butter, milk, shortening and water to 120°-130° in a large saucepan. Add to the dry ingredients and beat just until moistened. Add the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a soft dough (the dough will be sticky).

    3. TURN the dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

    4. COMBINE the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside.

    5. PUNCH the risen dough down. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface; knead about six times.

    6. DIVIDE the dough into four portions. Roll out one portion into a 12-inch circle; spread with 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar. Cut into 12 wedges.

    7. ROLL up each wedge from the wide end and place it point side down, three inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Curve the ends to form crescents. Repeat with remaining dough, butter and cinnamon-sugar. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven.

     

    cinnamon-BenFink-SuvirSaran-230

    One of the three different types of cinnamon. Photo by Ben Fink from Indian Home Cooking
    by Suvir Saran.

     

    8. BAKE at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks. Make the glaze: Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla; drizzle over warm rolls. Combine the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the rolls.

     
    WHAT IS A CROISSANT?

    Meaning “crescent” and pronounced kwah-SAWN in French, this rich, buttery, crescent-shaped roll is made of puff pastry that layers yeast dough with butter—a technique known as laminating.

    Traditionally a breakfast bread served with jam and butter, two classic variations include the almond croissant, filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with sliced almonds, and the “chocolate croissant,” correctly called pain au chocolat, baked with a piece of dark chocolate in the center.

    In the early 1970s, croissants became sandwich substitutes as they evolved from their two traditional fillings, chocolate and almond paste, into many savory variations, from broccoli to ham and cheese, as well as additional sweet varieties.

    There’s also the Bavarian croissant or pretzel croissant, made of a pretzel-like dough that combines bread flour and whole wheat flour with salt sprinkled on the top, like a pretzel. Some are made of puff pastry, others of a soft pretzel-type dough in a triangle wrap, like a croissant.

     
    The Real History Of Croissants

    Stories of the croissant being made in the shape of the crescent of the Turkish flag, after the defeat of the Turks in the Siege of Vienna in 1683, are a perpetuated myth. Recipes for croissants do not appear in recipe books until the early 1900s, according to the Oxford Companion To Food. The earliest French reference is in 1853.

    The croissant is descendant of the Austrian kipfel, a yeast roll usually filled with chopped walnuts, dried or candied fruit, or other filling, and shaped like a crescent. It arrived in Paris in 1938 or 1939 with August Zang, an Austrian military officer. He opened a bakery, Boulangerie Viennoise, and introduced Viennese techniques which would one day lead to the baguette and the croissant. The crescent-shaped kipfel was ultimately made with puff pastry by French bakers.

    You can read this history in Jim Chevallier’s book, August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoisserie* Came To France (Kindle edition).
     
    *Viennoiserie are buttery, flaky breakfast breads and pastries made with laminated dough, a technique of layering and folding a yeast dough to create brioche, croissants, danish, pain au chocolat and other so-called “Viennoiserie.” It is a marriage between traditional bread baking and sweet pastry baking. The technique of lamination produces many buttery layers that can be pulled apart to reveal thin leaves within. You can see the striations, or layers, of pastry when you look at the top of the Viennoiserie or when you cut into them. This technique is time-consuming and expensive (because of the amount of butter needed).

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Canned Beans

    southwestern-parfait-FSTG-230

    Southwestern parfait with beans, yogurt or
    sour cream, salsa and tortilla chips. Photo
    courtesy Food Should Taste Good.

     

    In the process of spring cleaning, we discovered 10 cans of beans at the back of our pantry.

    It had been a New Year’s resolution to eat beans—nutritious, with plenty of fiber and protein, and affordable—at least twice a week. While best practices involve soaking dry beans overnight before cooking, we knew we were less likely to plan ahead.

    Hence, a variety of ready to eat, canned bean choices: black beans, cannellini beans, great northern beans, pinto beans, red beans. Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are also an option, but we eat plenty of them each week in hummus.

    Here are ways we’ll be using the beans, along with a hint: Drain the beans in a colander and then rinse them well under cold water to remove as much of the sodium as possible. The un-healthful side of canned beans is the amount of sodium in the can.

    Check out our glossary of the different types of beans.
     
    Beans For Breakfast

  • Add beans to a breakfast burrito.
  • Fill an omelet with beans.
  • Make a breakfast tostada: beans mashed with ground cumin, heated in the microwave, spread on a tortilla and topped with scrambled eggs and salsa.
  • Include as a side with other eggs or breakfast foods.
  •  
    Beans For Lunch

  • Have bean soup with your salad or sandwich.
  • Top green salads with beans to add flavor, protein and texture.
  • Mix them into chicken salad, egg salad or tuna salad.
  • Use kidney or other red beans to add color and nutrition to potato salad or macaroni salad.
  • Have a two-bean or three-bean salad with a sandwich. Combine one can each of different beans with chopped onion, bell pepper and cilantro or parsley in a citrus vinaigrette.
  • Add beans to a wrap sandwich.
  • Make pizza: either add beans whole as a topping, or mash them spread on the crust before adding sauce. Extra nutrition points for a whole wheat pizza crust!
  • Add beans to a Greek or Niçoise salad.
  • Eat chili, with meat or with beans only (vegetarian chili).
  •  

    Beans For Dinner

  • Add cannellini or black beans to pasta dishes.
  • Mix beans with rice.
  • Top a baked potato with beans and Greek yogurt or sour cream.
  • Top green salads with beans to add protein and texture.
  • As a side: cannellini or other white beans combined with sautéed bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, onion, summer squash and/or zucchini, seasoned with garlic, oregano and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • As a main: take the side above and serve over a whole grain (bulgur, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) Add steamed vegetables and another (optional) protein: chicken, fish, tofu.
  • Buy or make bean burgers (veggie burgers). Top with hummus for an extra bean hit.
  •  
    Beans For Snacking

     

    white-beans-sausage-mackenzieltd-230

    As a side, serve beans with sausage or bacon. Photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com.

  • Bean dip with crudités, whole wheat pretzels or tortilla chips. (here’s a recipe for starters).
  • Bean and avocado dip—a bean guacamole (stir beans into the guacamole, or mash the beans with the avocado, plus cilantro).
  • Bean chips, like Beanitos.
  • Mashed with the egg yolks in deviled eggs.
  • Baked potato skins with beans.
  •  
    Have more ideas? Add them here!

      

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