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COCKTAIL RECIPE: Fizzy Lemonade With Sambuca

Each weekend we try a new cocktail recipe. Last weekend it was Fizzy Lemonade, a fresh lemonade made with club soda and sambucca. The recipe was sent to us by Molinari Sambuca Extra.
 
ANISE-FLAVORED LIQUEURS & SPIRITS

Sambuca (som-BOO-kah) is an anise-flavored liqueur from Italy, one of a family of anise-flavoured alcohol that also includes absinthe (Switzerland), anesone (Italy), anis (Spain), anisette (France) arak (the Levant*), kasra (Libya), mistra and ouzo (Greece), ojen (Spain), pastis (France) and raki (Turkey).

The base of sambucca consists of essential oils extracted from the seeds from the star anise (third photo) and other spices; some brands use anise or licorice. The blend also contains elderflowers. The oils are added to pure alcohol and sweetened with sugar.

Sambucca is served neat, on the rocks, with water, and with coffee as an after-dinner drink. When drunk after the coffee, it is known in Italy as an ammazzacaffè; added directly to coffee instead of sugar it is called a caffè corretto.
 
Sambuca Shots

The classic serving of sambuca in Italy is a shot topped with seven coffee beans, representing the seven hills of Rome (bottom photo).

A shot with just one coffee bean is called con la mosca, “with the fly.” Three coffee beans represent health, happiness and prosperity for some; the Holy Trinity for others.

The shot may be ignited to toast the coffee beans; the flame extinguished immediately before drinking.

Sambucca shots are delicious year-round; but here’s a refreshing summer samba drink:
 
RECIPE: FIZZY LEMONADE WITH SAMBUCA

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce agave nectar
  • 1 large basil leaf
  • 1½ ounces sambuca
  • Crushed ice
  • 1½ ounces fresh lemon juice
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: lemon wheel, cucumber spear
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MUDDLE the agave and basil in mixing glass. Add the sambuca, a scoop of crushed ice and the lemon juice. Cap and shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN over crushed ice and top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge and optional cucumber spear or vertical slice.

     
    WHAT IS STAR ANISE?

    Star anise (Illicium verum) is an evergreen tree native to northeast Vietnam and southwest China.

    The spice star anise, obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of the fruit, ia also called badiam, Chinese star anise and star anise seed. Each “arm” of the star contains one seed.

    Star anise closely resembles the herb anise (native to Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia) in flavor, but they are not related botanically. However, both include the chemical compound anethole, which provides the licorice-like flavor.

    Because star anise is less expensive to produce but provides comparable flavor, it has begun to replace anise in some culinary uses, especially baking.

    Star anise is a component of Chinese Five Spice powder. The spice blend also includes cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds and Sichuan pepper, representing all five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and hot. The proportions vary by producer.

     

    Lemonade Cocktail Recipe

    Molinari Sambuca Extra

    Star Anise

    Samba With Coffee Beans

    [1] Fizzy lemonade, with a touch of sambucca (photo courtesy Molinari). [2] Molinari Sambucca Extra. [3] Star anise: The seeds in the “petals” are distilled into essential oil (photo courtesy Farmgirl Gourmet). [4] Samba is traditionally served as an after-dinner drink with coffee, or alone with a garnish of coffee beans (photo courtesy GreatItalianFoodTrade.it).

     
    Star Anise In Cooking

    It is grown commercially in China, India, and most other countries in Asia. It is used whole to sweeten soups and meat stews.

    Ground star anise is used as a spice rub; and to flavor breads, custards, pastries, puddings and strudels.

  • In the Pacific Rim, star anise is widely used in Chinese cuisine; in the preparation of biryani, garam masala and masala chai in Indian cuisine; and in Indonesian and Malay cuisines.
  • In Vietnam, it is an important ingredient in the country’s famous noodle soup, pho.
  • The French, who ruled French Indochina from 1887 to 1954, use star anise in their mulled wine (called vin chaud, hot wine).
  •  
    We use it in fruit compote, and as a cocktail garnish.

    Instead of those coffee beans, how about a sambuca shot with a star anise?
     
    __________________
    *The Levant is an English term first appearing in 1497. It originally referred to the “Mediterranean lands east of Italy.” The historical area comprises modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Among other popular foods, Levantine cuisine gave birth to baklava, balafel, kebabs, mezze (including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush), pita and za’atar, among other dishes that are enjoyed in the U.S. and around the world.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Summer Crisp Or Cobbler

    Peach Crisp

    Blueberry Crisp

    Mixed Fruit Cobbler

    [1] A yummy peach crisp (photo courtesy GoDairyFree.org). [2] Individual blueberry crisps (photo courtesy Dole). [3] An apricot-blackberry cobbler (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    While some people love pie crusts, were’re on there opposite end of the spectrum. We’re there for the filling.

    We’d rather have a bowl of custard or chocolate pudding than a custard or chocolate pudding pie. We’d rather have an apple crisp than an apple pie.

    We prefer the crisp, crumbly topping (the crisp is called a crumble in the U.K.) to the soggy bottom crust and dry top crust of the traditional shortcrust pie.

    And we prefer the ease of sprinkling on the topping rather than rolling crusts.

    Another easy option is a cobbler (third photo, recipe below): It’s the same baked fruit as a crisp but with a topping of crisp biscuits, the “cobblestones” which gave the cobbler its name. They don’t absorb moisture like pie crusts, and refrigerated biscuit dough makes the topping easy.
     
    RECIPE: SUMMER FRUIT CRISP

    Use the abundance of berries and stone fruits: apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums and the cross-bred apriums, plumcots and pluots (olives are also a stone fruit).

    You can use a single berry and stone fruit, or mix them up. We subscribe to the mix-up option; for example, peaches and plums, blueberries and raspberries. It’s more interesting.

    Use sugar sparingly in order to enjoy the natural fruit sweetness.

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound of stone fruits, pitted and quartered (you can leave pitted cherries whole)
  • 1 pint of berries, rinsed well and patted dry
  • Cane sugar to taste, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup flour 1 teaspoon
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup sugar (or less depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
  • Pinch of salt
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 8 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • Optional Garnish

  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven heat to 375°F. Butter a 13×9-inch baking dish or 6 to 8 individual ramekins and set aside.

    2. MAKE the topping. Add the ingredients to a large bowl and use your fingers to combine, pinching the butter into the dry mix until it forms balls the size of a pea.

    3. COMBINE the filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss well to combine and transfer to the prepared baking dish or ramekins. Top with the crumb topping.

    4. BAKE for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly around the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish as desired and serve.
     
    FOR A COBBLER

    Instead of the topping, use a tube of refrigerator biscuits. Gauge how many you need for your baking dish, and slice them in half horizontally if you prefer a thinner “cobblestone.”

    1. COOK the fruit per above. Then, raise the heat to 400°F and add the biscuits.

    2. BAKE at 400°F 12 to 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown and filling is bubbly.

    3. RESERVE any leftover biscuits for individual berry shortcakes: fresh berries and whipped cream on a split biscuit.
     
    MORE RECIPES

  • Apple Crisp Recipe
  • Peach Cobbler Recipe
  • Betty, Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble, Grunt & More: The Differences
  • The Difference Between Pies & Tarts
  •  
      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Choctál’s Singe Origin Ice Cream

    When we first reviewed Choctál ice cream in 2007, it was a unique experience. It still is.

    The California company pioneered single origin ice cream in the two most popular flavors, chocolate and vanilla. The line—four single origin chocolate ice creams and four single origin vanillas—demonstrate how the flavor varies, based on the origin of the cacao and vanilla beans.

    This means you can have one heck of an ice cream tasting for National Ice Cream Month (July).

    It’s a memorable experience, especially for people who enjoy discerning the different flavor profiles between one origin and another in chocolate bars, olive oils, sea salts, wine grapes and so forth. The flavors of these agricultural products and others are greatly affected by their growing environment (terroir).
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE

    In the beginning—some 4,000 years ago—there was ice cream. Here’s the history of ice cream.

    Fast-forward ahead a few thousand years—beyond the labor-intensive ice cream made by servants of the wealthy in pre-electricity Renaissance days, beyond the invention of the ice cream churn in 1851, beyond the soda fountains at neighborhood drug scores, which engendered the ice cream soda along with scooped ice cream to eat at the fountain or to take home.

    Along with home refrigerators, supermarket brands arrived in the 1950s. Many used cheaper ingredients and whipped more air into then ice cream (known as overrun) to keep gallon prices low. This engendered a USDA classification system. “Economy,” “regular” and “premium” ice creams were defined by butterfat content and overrun.

    Häagen-Daz arrived in the 1970s with even higher butterfat and lower overrun than premium ice cream, inaugurating the superpremium category. With butterfat greater than 14% (some brands have 18% and more), overrun as low as 20% and complex flavors in addition to the basic ones), there’s no rung higher to go on the classification scale—by government standards, at least.

    Some companies—including Choctál—have labeled their ice cream “ultrapremium,” but this is marketing rather than an official government standard.

    And now, there’s single origin ice cream.
     
    WHAT IS “SINGLE-ORIGIN?”

    The term is not currently regulated in the U.S., but single origin can refer either to a single region or at the micro level, to a single farm or estate within that region.
     
    It is based on the agricultural concept of terroir (tur-WAH), a French term that is the basis for its the A.O.C. system (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or controlled designation of origin), created in the 1950s.

     

    Choctal Single Origin Chocolate Ice Cream

    Choctal Single Origin Ice Cream

    Choctal Single Origin Vanilla Ice Cream

    [1] A pint of Kalimantan chocolate, with beans from Borneo. [2] The four origins of chocolate and vanilla may look the same, but the tastes are noticeably different. [3] A pint of vanilla made with beans from Madagascar, the classic raised to the heights by Choctál (photos courtesy Choctál).

     
    These environmental characteristics gives agricultural products their character. A.O.C. and related terms like Italy’s P.D.O. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or Protected Designation of Origin.) recognize that different plots of land produce different flavors from the same rootstock. In the 1990s, the European Union created a new system to provide a uniform labeling protocol: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
     
    What IS “TERROIR?”

    Terroir, pronounced tur-WAH is a French agricultural term that is the basis of the French A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) system. It refers to the unique components of the place (environment) where an agricultural product is grown.

    Each specific habitat (plot of land) has unique set of environmental factors that affect a crop’s qualities, down to nuances of aroma, flavor and texture. They include the climate and microclimate, weather (the season’s growing conditions), elevation height and slant of the land), proximity to a body of water, slant of the land, soil type and amount of direct sunlight.

    This means that the same rootstock that is grown in different locations produces different flavors.

    Not only will the product taste and smell somewhat different (Sauvignon Blanc can have grass or grapefruit aroma and flavor notes—or neither—depending on their terroir), but intermediate products also create a difference.

    For example, grass with more clover, wild herbs, and so forth produces a delicate difference in an animal’s milk, and thus in artisan cheese.

    Note that processing will also affect the flavor. Neighboring wine makers, for example, can use different techniques to create wines that highlight their personal flavor preferences.

     

    Choctal Single Origin  Ice Cream

    Choctal Single Origin  Ice Cream Cones

    Choctàl pints and cones (photos courtesy Choctàl).

     

    THE CHOCTÀL SINGLE ORIGIN ICE CREAMS

    Choctàl Single Origin Chocolate Ice Cream

  • Costa Rican cacao is distinguished by sweet notes of coffee and a hint of butterscotch.
  • Ghana cacao, from the coast of West Africa, has a fudge, milk chocolate character.
  • Kalimantan cacao, from the island of Borneo in the South China Sea, produces intense cacao beans with a slight hint of caramel.
  • Dominican cacao, from the Dominican Republic on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, has a natural dark chocolate flavor profile with notes of clove and nutmeg.
  •  
    Choctàl Single Origin Vanilla Ice Cream

  • Indonesian vanilla is full-bodied, blending the creamy sweetness of classic bourbon (Madagascan) vanilla with a woody floral note.
  • Madagascar vanilla, from the island off the eastern coast of Africa, has been the world standard in vanilla for centuries, smooth and buttery. In the hands of Choctal, it may be the best vanilla ice cream you’ll ever taste.
  • Mexican vanilla has a natural touch of cinnamon. Choctàl adds more cinnamon. It obscures the single origin flavor, but makes a delicious cinnamon-vanilla ice cream.
  • Papua New Guinea vanilla has fruity, floral notes of cherry that linger on the palate during a long, lush finish.
  •  
    The line is certified kosher by OU.

    While the main experience is to taste and compared the different origins to each other, they are also splendid in everything from à la mode to floats.

     
    WHERE TO FIND CHOCTÁL ICE CREAM

    Here’s a store locator to find the nearest pint of Choctàl.

    You can also order pints and gift cards on the Choctàl website.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cold-Brew Coffee

    If you’ve been anywhere near an upscale coffee shop lately—Caribou, Peet’s, Starbucks and many others, you know that the latest trend is cold-brew coffee.

    Rather than brewing ground coffee the traditional way, cold-brew creates a coffee concentrate by steeping the coffee grounds in cold or room temperature water, for 12 hours and up to twice that if you like strong coffee. Starbucks steeps their cold-brew for 20 hours.

    For this reason, cold-brew is pricier than a regular brew. But it’s easy to steep at home. The benefits:

  • You enjoy a smoother cup of coffee. Because the water is never heated so it doesn’t precipitate as much acid or bitterness. The Toddy Cold Brew System produces coffee with 67% less acid than hot brew methods.
  • Make a cup of iced or hot coffee simply by mixing some of the concentrate with cold or hot water.
  • Like caffeine? Cold-brew has more of it.
  •  
    But cold-brew isn’t a new invention. We’ve been making it for 20 years with a Coffee Toddy. We keep the concentrate in the fridge, ready to create iced coffee with water and ice cubes. Producing hot coffee is just as delicious, and an easy way to prepare coffee for a group.

    For those who prefer convenience, bottles of cold-brew coffee concentrate ready to turn into hot or iced coffee, as well as individual ready-to-drink bottles of cold-brew, are sold at better stores from coast to coast.
     
    THE HISTORY OF COLD BREW COFFEE

    In the late 1960s, a garden nursery owner and chemist named Todd Simpson was on a plant-gathering trip to Guatemala, when he was served a delicious cup of coffee made from concentrate. Impressed, he developed the Toddy cold-brew coffee maker in his garage (source).
     
    Kyoto-Style Japanese Coffee

    But wait: While doing research, we discovered Kyoto-style Japanese coffee, a cold brew that originated in the 1600s. Thus, according to Daily Coffee News, cold brew coffee originated in Japan four centuries before Todd Simpson came across it in Guatemala.

    Coffee in Japan in the 1600s?

    It turns out that Dutch traders needed their coffee. Back in the 1600s, there was no electricity; coffee was brewed by dripping hot water through the grounds.

    Cold-dripped or hot-dripped coffee concentrate—“coffee essence”—would have been a means of transporting prepared coffee to be heated and consumed on-board. The traders brought the technique to Japan, where it became known as Dutch coffee.

    Japanese artisans created elegant, tall glass brewing towers that were popularized at shops in Kyoto, Japan, the earliest record of cold-brew coffee.

    Over the centuries, Kyoto-style brews have become highly artistic. Instead of submerging grounds for hours, the coffee is brewed drop by drop. A single bead of water is let down through the coffee grounds at a time, creating a process that takes just as much time as using a Toddy, and beautiful to watch.

    As the Japanese were cold-brewing tea at that time, the process was in place to cold-brew coffee (source).

    How extensively was the technique used beyond Japan? The record is not clear; but in days before electricity, when tending fires and boiling water was a lot of work, cold-brewing may have been a method used in coffee-drinking elsewhere.

       

    Takeya Cold Brew Coffee

    Takeya Cold Brew Coffee

    Toddy Cold Brew Coffee

    [1] Toddy, the original cold brew system (photo courtesy Toddy). [2, 3, 4] The Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker is less expensive and smaller but produces less coffee concentrate (photos courtesy Takeya).

     

    Kyoto-Style Coffee Brewer

    The First Canned Coffee

    Cold Brew Concentrate

    [1] This three-tiered Kyoto-style cold-drip brewer is more than two feet tall (photo courtesy Yama Glass). There are versions that are even larger and more elaborate. [2] The first canned coffee with an English-language label (photo courtesy AsianFoodGrocer). [3] Straight from the supermarket: a bottle of cold brew concentrate (photo courtesy Seaworth Coffee).

     

     
    MORE COLD-BREW HISTORY

    According to an extensive article in The Guardian, there are indications that cold-brew coffee might have first been made in Peru, Guatemala or Java. But the documentation is sparse.

    Some of the earliest documented coffee concentrates originated as military rations.

    The Americans, the French and the Brits all simmered down a coffee concentrate for soldiers to reconstitute in the field.

  • The French provide the earliest example of a coffee concentrate served cold, along the lines of today’s iced coffee today. This was the original Mazagran, consumed by French Foreign Legion solders at the Mazagran fortress in Algiers: coffee concentrate sweetened and mixed with cold water. Versions spread internationally after the soldiers returned to France and introduced the concept to cafés (source “All About Coffee,” William H. Ukers, 1922).
  • The Americans: In the book “Civil War Recipes: Receipts from the Pages of Godey’s Lady’s Book,” which compiled recipes from the popular 19th-century women’s magazine, has a recipe for “coffee syrup,” a sugary concentrate with the consistency of treacle (golden syrup).
  • The Brits: In the mid-20th-century, British manufacturers successfully bottled a crossover version called Camp Coffee, advertising that “There’s no comparison for economy, flavor, and quickness.” It’s still available.
  •  
    Why did it take centuries for coffee concentrate to become widely popular, at coffee shops and the shelf-stable, ready-to-drink brewed coffee and concentrates in stores?

    The breakthrough, according to The Guardian, happened in Japan in the late 1960s.

    At that time, canned flavored milk, including coffee-flavored milk, was popular in Japan at that time. Businessman Ueshima Tadao thought to flip the ingredient ratio into a can of coffee with just a small amount of milk and sugar. He subsequently created a black coffee version.

    Thus, the final chapter of cold-coffee history was made by Ueshima Coffee Co., Ltd.; although it took a decade for UCC Coffee With Milk to really catch on.

    Shortly thereafter, in the 1970s, Italian coffee giant Illy introduced ready-to-drink black coffee in a can. The concept continued to expand until…well…check out the bottled coffees and concentrates on the shelves of the nearest market.
     
     
    MORE ABOUT COFFEE

  • Coffee terms and the different types of coffee.
  • The history of coffee.
  • Espresso and the different types of espresso drinks.
  • The history of espresso.
  • The Toddy Cold Brew System.
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Shrub, a.k.a. Drinking Vinegar

    There are shrubs for landscaping, and shrubs for drinking. The latter is an acidulated beverage: made with an acid such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice along with fruit juice, sugar and optional ingredients including herbs, spices and alcohol.

    The word is a transposition from the Arabic shurb, a cool drink.

    In the U.K. today, shrubs are popular fruity vinegar tonics. But they have not yet achieved a level of awareness in the U.S., even when called “drinking vinegar,” a modern term for the syrup that can be used to make cocktails and cocktails.

    Perhaps ten years ago, we were in the Japanese pavilion at a restaurant industry trade show and first encountered “drinking vinegar.” It was an exquisite shot for an after dinner drink: sweet and tart, complex, exciting.

    We treasured the bottles we picked up at the show, bringing them to dinners with connoisseur friends, where they were greatly appreciated. Then they were gone, and we moved on. We couldn’t find it for sale, and didn’t realize how easy it was to make it at home.

    But drinking vinegar moved on too, as vinegar-based shrub drinks began to be revived around 2011—on a limited basis at trendy bars and restaurants in the U.S., Canada and London.

    The acidity of a shrub makes it a fine digestif* or used as an alternative to bitters in cocktails.
     
    TYPES OF SHRUBS

    There two different types of shrubs, both acidulated mixed drinks:

  • The original shrub is a fruit liqueur mixed with rum or brandy, sugar and the juice or rinds of a citrus fruit. It evolved to syrup made of vinegar, sugar and fruit that was popular in England in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • The second type of shrub, made on the other side of the pond, was a Colonial-era cocktail or soft drink made by mixing spirits with a vinegared syrup and water or carbonated† water.
  • Shrub can also refer to drinking vinegar, the vinegar-based syrup used to make the cocktail. The vinegar is often infused with fruit (or made with fruit juice), herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks or as a digestif†; and can serve as a sophisticated soft drink.
  •  
    THE MODERN SHRUB: DRINKING VINEGAR

    Shrubs date to the 17th century (see the history of shrubs below). Fresh fruits were steeped in vinegar and sugar, and infused anywhere from overnight up to several days. The fruit solids were then strained out to create a sweet-and-tart concentrate that was mixed with spirits, water or sparkling water.

    Beyond mixology, today’s cooks also add “drinking vinegar” to sauces and salad dressings. We’ve drizzled them on lemon sorbet and rice pudding.
     
    MAKE YOUR OWN SHRUBS

    You can buy artisan shrub syrups at specialty foods stores, but they tend to be pricey, like any top-quality drink mixer. You can find bottled shrub syrup in flavors like Apple, Ginger and Strawberry as well as compound flavors such as Apple Caraway, Blood Orange Cardamom, Blood Orange Ginger, Meyer Lemon Lavender, Smoked Spiced Pear, Watermelon Habanero (these compound flavors from Kansas City Canning Co.).

    But it costs very little to make your own.

    Some people use the ratio of one part fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar for shrub syrup; but these proportions should vary according to the sweetness of the fruit. If the fruit is particularly sweet, you could cut back on the sugar and increase the fruit ratio.

    Think seasonally: berries and stone fruits in the summer; apples, pears and quince in the fall; blood oranges and grapefruits in the winter; strawberries, blackberries and pineapple in the spring.

    While apple cider vinegar is traditional, go beyond it to champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar and flavored vinegar (see the different types of vinegar and how to pair vinegars and foods).
     
    TO MAKE A SHRUB, combine 1 pound chopped fruit, 2 cups sugar and 2 cups apple cider or other vinegar.

    Use the instructions below. For an apple shrub, we cut back on the sugar.

    RECIPE: APPLE CIDER SHRUB

    Prep time is 5 minutes plus 3-5 days infusing time.

    Ingredients For 3/4 Quart

  • 3 apples
  • 1-1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar (the best vinegar makes a difference)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Optional: 1-2 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
  •    

    Strawberry Shrub

    Fresh Pineapple

    Stone Fruits

    Boyajian Vinegars

    Watermelon Shrub

    [1] A strawberry shrub (photo courtesy Quinciple). [2] We’re particularly fond of pineapple shrub (photo courtesy Del Monte). [3] In the summer, use stone fruits for your shrubs (photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farms). [4] Beyond apple cider vinegar, consider vinegars flavored with fruit, herbs and spices like these from Boyajian. [5] A bottle of watermelon-habanero shrub from Kansas City Canning Co. (photo © Laura Noll Photography).

     
    Preparation

    1. DICE the apples into very small pieces and place in a quart-size mason jar. Add the vinegar and sugar, and the herb sprigs. If there’s room at the top of the jar, add a few more splashes of vinegar.

    2. CAP the jar tightly and shake it a few times to blend in the sugar. Place the jar in the fridge for 3-5 days, shaking once or twice.

    3. TASTE the shrub after three days. If you like the intensity of flavor, strain out the fruit, first pressing the fruit with the back of the spoon to get all of the juice. Then, store the shrub in an airtight container. Otherwise, let it infuse for two more days.

    4. SERVE: Pour the shrub over ice and mix with sparkling water or make a cocktail. Or try it as a shot: We did, and really liked it.
     
    __________________
    *A digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal, in theory to aid digestion. Digestifs are usually taken straight, and include brandy, distilled spirits, eaux de vie (fruit brandy, Schnapps), fortified wine (madeira, port, sweet vermouth), grappa and liqueur. Here’s the difference between apéritif and digestif.

    †Carbonated water was first created in 1767 by British chemist Joseph Priestley, but was not manufactured commercially until J. J. Schweppe did so in 1783.
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE SHRUB

     

    Apple Shrub

    An apple shrub (photo courtesy Good Eggs). The recipe is above. Good Eggs also sells artisan shrubs in blackberry, lemon, lime, strawberry and quince. They’re pricey; hence the option to make your own.

     

    The shrub is infused (pun intended) with history.

    Originally, shrubs were developed as another way to preserve seasonal fruits for consumption throughout the year.

    The English shrub evolved from the medicinal cordials of the 15th century. As a mixture of fruit and alcohol, the shrub is related to the punch; however, punch is typically served immediately after mixing, while shrub syrup was stored as a mixer for later use.

    Shrub drinks were sold in English public houses in the 17th and 18th centuries; for the holiday season, shrub was mixed with raisins, honey, lemon, sherry and rum. The syrup was a common ingredient in punch. However, the drink fell out of fashion by the late 1800s.

    The Colonial American shrub derived from the English version. The vinegar was used as an alternative to citrus juices in the preservation of fruits.

    Shrubs remained popular for a longer period of time in the U.S.: through the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, shrubs fell out of popularity with the advent of home refrigeration (ice boxes), which enabled a wealth of other cold drinks.

    Vinegar-based shrub drinks appeared again in 2011-2012. Help to continue the trend: Make some shrub syrup(s) and invite friends over for shrubs.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Light & Luscious Summer Lunch

    It’s too darn hot. After a few days of downing pints of ice cream and sorbet, we started working on more nutritious fare.

    Beyond the green salads and fruit salads, we began playing with summer-specific tartness, the French word for open-face sandwiches.

    Tartine is the French word for an open-faced sandwich with a rich spread or fancy topping; the word actually refers to a slice of bread. Tartine is the French diminutive of the Old French and Middle English tarte, derived from the Late Latin torta, a type of bread. Here’s more about tartines.

    Tartines have faded from fashion in the U.S. After World War II, hearty open face roast beef or turkey sandwich with gravy were popular fare, eaten with a knife and fork. Ladies’ lunch rooms served more delicate versions, with smoked salmon and sliced cucumber or a lighter version of beef or turkey.

    But with much better bread available to us, it’s time to revisit the tartine. The ingredients can be seasonal: topped with melted cheese in cooler months, and with arugula, mesclun or sprouts in warmer ones.

    In fact, the vegetable bounty of summer calls out for tartines. The combinations are vast:
     
    PICK A BREAD

    Begin with choosing a bread that gives character to your tartine. You can serve it toasted or untoasted. Consider:

  • Flatbread for crunch
  • Multigrain for texture
  • Rustic loaves for crustiness
  • Specialty breads for flavor: cornmeal, olive, pistachio, raisin-walnut
  • Whole grain for fiber
  •  
    PICK A SPREAD

    Anything spreadable goes on top of the bread. You can season any of the dairy products to taste.

  • Cream cheese, goat cheese, ricotta or whipped cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Hummus or babaganoush
  • Mashed avocado or guacamole, mashed green peas
  • Mayonnaise, flavored mayonnaise, pesto/mayo or mustard/
    mayo blend
  • Pita (see pita tartines)
  • Puréed vegetables
  •  
    PICK A TOPPING

  • Berries, sliced avocado, figs, peaches, watermelon or other fruit
  • Ceviche, gravlax, herring or whitefish salad, sashimi, sardines, sliced shrimp, salmon or tuna tartare, smoked salmon
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Sliced feta or other cheese
  • Prosciutto or serrano ham
  • Sliced hard-boiled egg
  • Sliced radishes and/or cucumbers
  • Steak tartare
  • Steamed or grilled vegetables
  •  
    PICK A GARNISH

  • Baby arugula, spinach or watercress
  • Celery leaves, sprouts or microgreens
  • Chopped herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, parsley
  • Corn kernels, sliced olives
  • Frisée
  • Lemon or lime zest
  • Pickled onions or other pickled vegetables
  • Pine nuts or chopped pistachios
  • Shaved Parmesan or other firm or hard cheese
  •    

    Radish Tartine

    Asparagus-Hummus Tartine

    Heirloom Tomato Tartine

    Gravlax Tartine

    [1] Tartine of ricotta, radishes and chives (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [2] Hummus and fat sliced asparagus, topped with pine nuts (photo © Hannah Kaminsky| Bittersweet Blog). [3] Heirloom tomato tartine (photo courtesy Quinciple. [4] Goat cheese, gravlax and figs (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery).

     

    Cucumber Mint Spa Water

    Spa water with sliced cucumbers, lemons and mint (photo courtesy SunsetGrowers).

       
    WHAT TO DRINK: SPA WATER

    Spa water—water seasoned with fruits and herbs—is the perfect complement to a summer tartine. Use at least a trio of these aromatics for flavor and fragrance.

    Here’s a recipe from Sunset Growers, which used its mini cucumbers:
     
    RECIPE: CUCUMBER, LEMON & MINT SPA WATER

    Ingredients For 8 Cups (2 Quarts, 1/2 Gallon)

  • 2-4 small cucumbers*, sliced (keeping the peel adds color)
  • 2-4 lemons and/or limes, thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh mint (stems O.K.)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD the ingredients to a large pitcher and fill with water. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

    2. SERVE over ice in large glasses or wine goblets, with a slice of cucumber and lemon in each serving.

     
    __________________
    *We love cucumber-flavored water, so we used a large conventional cucumber. You can use any of the different types of cucumbers. Specialty cucumbers like the rippled Armenian cucumber and the Palace King with ripples of yellow on the dark green skin add interest in the pitcher.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Meet The Wineshakes~Wine Milkshakes

    July 17th is National Ice Cream Day.

    Of course, it’s easy to head to the freezer, store or scoop shop to celebrate. But we thought you might like something special.

    Like a wineshake, a wine milkshake. Wine + ice cream = wineshake.

    Does it sound unusual? Well: The first printed reference to a milkshake dates to 1885, and referred to an alcoholic drink, a “sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”

    By 1900, the whiskey and eggs were gone, and the term “milkshake” referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.”

    Yet, the milkshake still contained no ice cream until 1922. Here’s more history of the milkshake.
     
    THE DAWN OF THE WINESHAKE

    The folks at California-based Winc winery have whipped up delicious ice cream and wine milkshake recipes, combining their wines with Van Leeuwen ice cream. But you can use what you have on hand or other substitutes.

    Winc has an online store where you can purchase the wines and send gift cards. We want them just to display the names and label designs: a work of art in wine bottles, so to speak. The wines are well-priced, so this is art we can afford!

    RECIPE #1: COOKIES & CREAM WINESHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup cookies and cream ice cream
  • 2 ounces Alchymist Noir Red Blend (Syrah, Barbera and Valdiguié) or other “big red”
  • Giant drizzle chocolate syrup
  • Garnish: more chocolate syrup for drizzling
  • Garnish: Oreo cookies, mix of crushed and whole
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, and big drizzle of chocolate syrup until you reach the desired consistency of your shake. We mixed ours in the blender, but you can use an immersion blender, cocktail shaker or whatever you have at hand.

    2. POUR the shake into a glass. Top with more chocolate syrup and add the Oreos. Drizzle the top with more chocolate syrup and top with whipped cream as desired.

       

    Cookies & Cream Wine Shake

    Chocolate Wine Shake

    Strawberry Rose Wine Shake

    Vanilla Sparkling Wine Shake

    Shake it shake it baby: Wineshakes from Winc winery (photos courtesy Winc).

     

    RECIPE #2: DARK CHOCOLATE PINOT NOIR WINESHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate ice cream
  • 2 ounces Porter & Plot Pinot Noir or other Pinot
  • Chocolate syrup, for drizzling
  • Garnish: chocolate chips, fresh cherries with stems
  •  
    Preparation

    2. BLEND the ice cream and wine until you reach your desired consistency.

    2. POUR into a glass, drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with chocolate chips, then the cherries.

     

    Alchymist Pinot Noir

    Au-Dela Dolcetto

    [1] Winc’s Alchymist Noir Red Blend. [2] Au-Delà Sparkling Dolcetto*, a dry sparkling red wine. Au-delà means “beyond” in French (photos courtesy Winc).

     

    RECIPE #3: STRAWBERRY ROSE SHAKÉ

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup strawberry ice cream
  • 2 ounces Ruza White Zinfandel or other White Zin
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Garnish: more strawberries, for garnish
  • Optional: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, and a handful of strawberries to taste, until you reach the desired berry flavor and shake consistency.

    2. POUR into a glass. Top with whipped cream and garnish with more strawberries.
     
    RECIPE #4: VANILLA SPARKLING SHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 2 ounces Au-Delà Sparkling Dolcetto* or other sparkling red wine
  • Fresh mixed berries
  • Garnish: whipped cream, more berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, a big handful berries to taste, until you reach desired berry flavor and shake consistency.

    2. POUR into glass. Top with whipped cream, and garnish with more mixed berries.

     
    FLOAT, MALTED MILK, MILKSHAKE: THE DIFFERENCE

  • A float is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with a scoop of ice cream “floating” in it.
  • A milkshake blends together ice cream, milk and flavoring.
  • A malted milk, malt for short, is a milkshake with added malted milk powder†.
  •  
    MORE FOOD HOLIDAYS

    National Vanilla Milkshake Day is June 20th; National Chocolate Milkshake Day is September 12th.

    See all the food holidays.
     
    ALSO SEE FROSÉ: ROSÉ & SORBET
     
    __________________

    *Dolcetto is a red wine grape from the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. It is now planted in Australia and the U.S. as well. Other sparkling red wines include Brachetto d’Acqui, Lambrusco and Sparkling Shiraz, among others.

    †Malted milk is a powdered gruel made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk. It was originally developed by a pharmacist, James Horlick, as a nutritional supplement for infants. Soon enough, parents discovered how tasty it was…and the rest is history.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Ice Pops In A Snap

    July is National Ice Cream Month. Since there’s no Ice Pop Month or Ice Pop Day (and none for ice cream cones, either), we’re folding them in.

    We thank PeanutButterLovers.com, the consumer website of the Southern Peanut Growers for this recipe. It makes a dozen creamy pops, with hardly any effort.
     
    CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA POPS

    Ingredients For 12 Pops

  • 4 large very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 12 ounces frozen whipped dessert topping
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds or substitutes. Freeze until firm. How easy is that?

    2. TO REMOVE: Run the mold under warm water as needed to release the pops.
     
    Find more peanut butter recipes—from appetizers and soups through mains and desserts—at PeanutButterLovers.com.
     
    NO ICE POP MOLDS? TRY THESE SUBSTITUTES:

    If you don’t want to invest in ice pop molds, how about Zip-A-Pop disposable plastic sleeves (third photo at right). We love them!

    Otherwise, take a look around. Most likely, you have one or more of these:

  • Paper or plastic cups. Small (or large, if you want to go for massive pops) disposable paper or plastic cups are an easy and inexpensive stand-in for popsicle molds
  • Ice cube trays (example)
  • Loaf pans (example)
  • Silicone cupcake molds
  • Small cupcake/muffin tins (example)
  • Three- or 6-ounce yogurt containers (a great recycling opportunity)
  •  
    If you don’t have ice pop sticks, here’s another great recycling opportunity:

  • Plastic spoons (we’ve used plastic knives when testing recipes)
  • Stainless steel teaspoons or espresso spoons
  •  
    If you’re not a peanut butter or banana lover, here’s a recipe from Pom Wonderful that trades the PB for pomegranate juice.
     
    Prep time is 20 minutes, plus 4 hours freezing.

       

    Peanut Butter &  Banana Ice Pops

    Ripe Bananas

    Zip Pops

    [1] PB-Banana pops: fruit and protein in an ice pop. What could be better (photo PeanutButterLovers.com). [2] Overripe bananas are an invitation to make banana pops (photo © Luso Images). [3] Zip Pop bags (photo courtesy ZipPops.com.au).

     

    Doubly nutritious: bananas infused with
    pomegranate juice. Photo and recipe
    courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

    RECIPE: POMEGRANATE-BANANA ICE POPS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (from 1 large pomegranate, or buy a bag of arils and skip Step 1.)
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup simple syrup (buy it or make this recipe)
  • 4 ice pop molds or substitute
  • 4 ice pop sticks or plastic spoons
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SCORE 1 fresh pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate under water to free the arils (the seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Strain and place the arils in a clean bowl. Refrigerate or freeze any extra arils for another use.

    2. PREPARE the simple syrup (recipe).

    3. PLACE all ingredients except the arils in a food processor; process until smooth. Then stir in the arils and divide the mixture evenly among the molds/cups.

     
    4. FREEZE slightly; then insert an ice pop stick or plastic spoon into the center of each cup to be used as a stick. Freeze until solid.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Rickey, Cocktail Or Cocktail

    When we were in college, we went often to the Brigham’s Ice Cream Parlor in Harvard Square for a Raspberry-Lime Rickey. The coffee shop craze that began in Seattle had not yet become a destination elsewhere. Rickeys were the Frappuccinos of the day.

    To us, a Rickey was raspberry syrup mixed into club soda with a big squeeze of lime.

    We had no idea that the Rickey (originally the “Joe Rickey”) was a fizzy highball, created in 1883 at Shoomaker’s bar in Washington, D.C. (the different types of fizzy water).
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE RICKEY

    The drink was named for “Colonel” Joe Rickey, a Democratic lobbyist from Missouri. Each morning, he went to Shoomaker’s for a Bourbon with Apollinaris sparkling water over lump ice (today’s cubes).

    Cocktail history was changed one day when the bartender, said to be George A. Williamson, squeezed half a lime into the glass and tossed the squeezed lime in after it. The Rickey was born.

  • It has evolved to include simple syrup and bitters. If you want the authentic experience, tell the bartender.
  • Another variation substituted ginger ale for the fizzy water; but either way, the drink was served in a tall (highball) glass with lots of ice.
  • A decade later, the Gin Rickey became a worldwide cocktail sensation. It remains a relatively popular drink today, while Joe Rickey’s Bourbon Rickey has faded into obscurity.
  •  
    Omit the spirits altogether and you have a mocktail/soft drink that you can layer with other flavors. Omit the bitters in the cocktail and trade the simple syrup for fruit syrup, and you have the Raspberry-Lime Rickey of our youth (fondly referred to as a Razz-Lime Rickey. We had to have at least one a day).
     
    MODERNIZE YOUR RICKEY

    Create your signature Rickey: the [Your Name] Rickey instead of the Joe Rickey.

    Soft Drink Variations

  • In addition to the squeeze of lime, freeze pieces of lime to substitute for all or some of the ice.
  • Use a different fruit syrup. Blueberry Rickey? Peach Rickey?
  • Instead of fruit syrup, puréed the fruit. Fresh raspberries are better than syrup; frozen raspberries are just fine (and less expensive than fresh ones). Plus, you can use less sugar, another sweetener or no sweeter at all.
  • Garnish with a pick of matching fruit (raspberries, blueberries, cubed peaches, etc.)
  • Try flavored club soda.
  • Add bitters.
  •  
    Cocktail Variations

  • Try a different spirit. Tequila Rickey? Vodka Rickey? Flavored Vodka Rickey?
  • Play around with some of the modern flavored bitters: cardamom, grapefruit, lavender, orange, etc.
  •  
    RECIPE: THE RAZZ-LIME RICKEY: COCKTAIL

    We turned our college favorite, the Razz-Lime Rickey soft drink, into a cocktail.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2/3 to3/4 cup (3 ounces) fresh or frozen raspberries (or a store-bought raspberry syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (omit if using raspberry syrup)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 cup sparkling water
  • 2 ounces raspberry vodka
  • Ice
  • Garnish: fresh raspberries and/or a lime wheel or wedge
  •  

    Raspberry Lime Rickey

    Lime Rickey Recipe

    Blueberry Rickey

    Original Rickey

    [1] A Gin Rickey from from Elegant Affairs. [2] A Raspberry Lime Rickey soft drink rom CooksCountry.com. [3] A Blueberry Rickey with a blueberry cocktail pick (photo courtesy Essence Designs). [4] The original Rickey, made with bourbon (the mint must be left over from a Mint Julep (photo via Tumblr).

     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the raspberry-lime syrup: Place the raspberries in a bowl, sprinkle the sugar on top and add the lime juice. Mash with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside and let the mixture marinate for 10 minutes. Strain it through a sieve to remove the seeds.

    2. FILL a glass with ice and add the syrup add the sparkling water. Stir, add the vodka and stir again.

    3. TOP OFF with sparkling water. Garnish and serve

    You can make four drinks at a time with these proportions. In a pitcher combine as above:

  • 1-1/3 cups raspberries
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1 cup raspberry vodka
  •  
    Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir again before pouring into ice-filled glasses.
     
    __________________
    *The Brigham’s chain of ice cream parlors is defunct (along with its competitor, Bailey’s). The company closed most of its locations in 2008 and sold the rights to its ice cream brand to HP Hood. The chain declared bankruptcy in 2009, but Hood still produced quarts under the Brigham’s name, sold in supermarkets in New England.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Artisan Bacon Hot Dogs

    Bacon Hot Dogs

    Vermont Cure Bacon Hot Dogs

    Bacon hot dogs from Vermont Smoke & Cure, a craft producer of meat products (photos courtesy Vermont Smoke & Cure).

     

    The CEO of Vermont Smoke & Cure, Chris Bailey, created this bacon hot dog in home test kitchen. Fusing two of his favorite flavors, the craft dog blends juicy bacon flavor with classic hot dog texture.

    The dogs combine beef, pork and uncured, maple-brined bacon. They’re smoked with cob and maple wood and stuffed in a natural lamb casing. The result: a succulent snap and a sweet, mellow smoke flavor.

    Here are tips for enjoying a bacon hot dog:

  • Try it without toppings. While some people prefer toppings on their dogs, Chris suggests that you first try the bacon dogs plain, on a toasted bun. You may find them so flavorful and juicy that you can skip the toppings.
  • Combine them with eggs. Serve grilled Bacon Hot Dogs with eggs, toast and asparagus for breakfast, lunch or dinner. When asparagus is out of season, substitute broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, leeks, sliced tomatoes or other veg.
  • Serve a mixed grill. Team grilled dogs with grilled chicken for dinner. Consider adding some slices of that acclaimed Vermont Smoke & Cure bacon.
  •  
    The hot dogs are $5.99-$6.99 at select Whole Foods and natural foods stores in the Northeast. Here’s a store locator.
     
    ABOUT VERMONT SMOKE & CURE

    Vermont Smoke & Cure makes bacon, ham, hot dogs, meat sticks, pepperoni and uncured summer sausage.

    The products are made from premium, vegetarian-fed meat with no added hormones or antibiotics. They are free of dairy, gluten, nuts, preservatives and sodium nitrites.

     
    For more information, visit VermontSmokeAndCure.com.

    The company sells most of its products on Amazon and its own website store, but not [yet] the hot dogs.

    We did discover this tempting bacon gift basket that contains:

  • Vermont Smoke and Cure Bacon
  • Broadbent’s Kentucky Bacon
  • North Country Smokehouse Uncured Fruitwood Bacon
  • Vosges Chocolate and Bacon Candy Bar
  • Vosges Bacon and Chocolate Pancake Mix
  • JB’s Best Bacon BBQ Sauce
  •  
    Put it on your gift list for bacon lovers.

    In the interim, find a store, buy the bacon dogs, and make people happy.

      

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