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BOOK: The Gefilte Manifesto, New Cooking For The New Year

The Gefilte Manifesto

Gefilte Fish Terrine

[1] Modernize Jewish cooking with The Gefilte Manifesto. Cover photo: parchment-wrapped trout roasted with sliced onions. [2] The new gefilte fish: a two-fish terrine (photos courtesy Flatiron Books).

 

Those who don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, can still participate in one of the sweetest treats: sliced apples with honey for dipping. It symbolizes a sweet start to the new wear.

This year, Rosh Hashanah spans Sunday, October 2 through Tuesday, October 4*.

If you’re guesting for Rosh Hashanah and need a host/hostess gift, we like the new cookbook from Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz, owners of The Gefilteria, a culinary venture that reimagines Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.

THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO: ADAPTING CENTURIES-OLD RECIPES FOR THE PRESENT

THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO: New Recipes for Old World Jewish Foods, combines respect for culinary tradition with modern culinary preferences.

The authors—Brooklynites Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz—took more than 100 recipes “pulled deep from the kitchens of Eastern Europe and the diaspora of North America.”

They re-thought the recipes, taking into consideration modern palates, seasonality and consumers’ desire for easy-to-follow recipes.

The authors’ variations on time-honored favorites add modern spins to both everyday and holiday dishes. Consider:

  • Fried Sour Pickles With Garlic Aïoli
  • Kasha Varnishkes With Brussels Sprouts
  • Kimchi Stuffed Cabbage
  • Savory Blintzes
  • Smoked Whitefish Gefilte Terrine
  • Sour Dill Martinis
  • Spinach & Leek Kreplach
  •  
    You’ll see how easy it is to make home-cured corned beef and pastrami, farmer cheese and honey-sesame chews—just like Great-Great-Great Grandmother did, but with modern conveniences like electricity, food processors and refrigerators.

     
    Get your copy here.

    Plan B: Bring a really fine honey like Savannah Bee, and a bowl of apples.
    ________________
    *In the U.S., Europe and elsewhere, the dates of Jewish holidays vary yearly. They are based on the Hebrew calendar, which is not in sync with the Gregorian-Wester-Christian calendar.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Purple Potatoes

    Just a few years ago, purple potatoes were hard to find, especially for our Red, White & Blue Potato Salad (here’s a bonus recipe), popular fare for Memorial Day and Independence Day.

    Thankfully, things have changed. Once called purple Peruvian potatoes, they are now grown worldwide in response to consumer demand, so are much more readily available.
     
    THE HISTORY OF POTATOES

    Millennia ago, many potato varieties grew wild in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, in what is now Peru.

    Along with many other varieties of potatoes, they were cultivated around 3000 B.C.E. by the Incas.

    Imagine European cuisine without potatoes! But they were unknown until the Spanish conquistadors reached the shores of Montezuma’s empire (modern-day Mexico) in 1519. Potatoes sailed back to Spain a few years later.

    See the history of potatoes and the different types of potatoes.
     
    MODERN PURPLE POTATOES

    In addition to the vividly colored flesh—some purple, some blue—purple potatoes* have a creamy texture and are rich in flavor. Their starch level is medium, so purple potatoes are an all-purpose potato.

    Creamy and earthy-tasting like russet potatoes, the color is very dramatic. Depending on their species, some varieties have a nutty flavor, some varieties become a lighter lavender shade after cooking.

    There’s also a purple-fleshed “Okinawan” sweet potato, a staple in Hawaii. Look for it in Asian markets. decreasing the risk of stroke and macular degeneration. †Purple potatoes are now grown around the world.

    Try them baked, broiled, fried or mashed to add color and style to your meals. Make purple potato chips as as a beguiling snack, side or garnish.

    As with all potatoes, blue/purple potatoes originated in Peru, where the Incas cultivated many varieties of potato (see the history of potatoes). The color can become lavender when cooking. The starch level is medium, so purple Peruvians are an all-purpose potato. They are moist and earthy-tasting, sometimes with a nutty flavor; and the color is very dramatic. Purple potatoes are not only prettier, they have higher levels of polyphenol antioxidants to protect body cells against free radical damage (see this article from NBC News). They can help lower blood pressure, without causing weight gain: guilt-free potatoes!
     
    OKINAWA or OKINAWAN SWEET POTATO, WITH PURPLE FLESH

    A purple-fleshed sweet potato used extensively in Hawaiian cuisine, your best bet to find these are in Asian markets or online.

    The skin is tan, similar to the familiar russet potatoes; but the flesh is a bright magenta color. The Okinawa purple sweet potato has a delicate, slightly sweet taste and a creamy texture.

    The Okinawa is a member of the sweet potato family: order Solanales, family Convolvulaceae, genus Ipomoea, species, I. batatas. Its subspecies is Ipomoea batatas cv. Ayamurasaki.

    The white potato is of the same botanical order, Solanales, but diverges from the sweet potato at that level. The taxonomy of the white potato is: order Solanales, family Solanaceae, genus Solanum, species: S. tuberosum.

    Okinawa potatoes can be cooked like any sweet potato: baked, boiled, candied, mashed, roasted, scalloped or steamed.

    The Okinawa sweet potato is not related to the purple yam, ube, which is popular in Filipino cuisine and creates dishes of intense purple color.

    The term “yam” is often used incorrectly in the U.S. Yams are not members of the potato order, family, etc., but are from a totally different order. Be is from the order Dioscoreales, family Dioscoreaceae, genus Dioscorea, species D. alata.

     

    Purple Peruvian Potatoes

    Blue Potatoes

    Okinawa Sweet Potato

    ube-sulcatagrove-blogspot-230

    [1] Purple potatoes—in fact, all potatoes—originated in what is now Peru (photo Mona Makela | IST). [2] Some varieties have blue flesh, a result of the soil pH and other factors (photo courtesy Burpee). [3] Okinawa sweet potatoes (photo courtesy Melissa’s). [4] Ube are not potatoes (photo courtesy SulcataGrove.Blogspot.com.

    ________________
    *The blue or purple color comes from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that create red, blue and purple colors, depending on the pH of the soil and other growing factors. These antioxidants may help with everything from fighting heart disease and prostate cancer to lowering blood pressure.

     

    Purple Peruvian Potato Croquettes

    Purple Potato Chips

    Purple Potato Soup

    [5] Purple potato croquettes (photo courtesy Idaho Potato Commission). [6] A fancy hors d’oeuvre, purple potato chips with caviar (photo Bethany Holdhaus | Wedding Edibles). [7] Purple potato soup (photo © Family Spice).

     

    RECIPE: PURPLE POTATO CROQUETTES

    Try this recipe from IdahoPotatoes.com, made with Idaho Purple Potatoes.

    A croquette is a small portion of fried food coated with bread crumbs. It can be made from cheese, fish and shellfish, ground meat, mashed potatoes or vegetables, variously seasoned.

    Filling Ingredients

  • 4 pounds purple potatoes
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup herbs (parsley, thyme), chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt (more to taste)
  •  
    For The Breading

  • All-purpose flour
  • 5 egg yolks, whisked
  • Coarse bread crumbs (we prefer panko)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BOIL the potatoes until fork tender. Carefully peel the potatoes while warm, discarding the skins and placing the meat of the potato in a food mill or a food processor with the paddle attachment.

    2. WARM the cream and butter and add to the potatoes and add all filling ingredients except the eggs. Completely blend until the potatoes are smooth and then add the egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated.

    3. SPREAD the potatoes out on a cookie sheet or a one-inch sheet pan and smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap and cool overnight in the fridge.

    4. CUT out the desired size of the croquettes with a cookie cutter or ring. Set up a breading station of flour, the whisked eggs and the bread crumbs. To bread: Coat the croquette in the flour, brushing off the excess. Completely coat with egg and transfer to the bread crumbs. Repeat this process for a double breading.

    5. FRY the croquettes in oil until golden brown, finishing in the oven until hot and ready to serve.
     
    MORE PURPLE POTATO RECIPES FROM THE NIBBLE

  • Fashionable Niçoise Salad
  • Purple Potato & Red Beet Salad
  • Rainbow Pizza
     
    FIND MORE DELICIOUS POTATO RECIPES AT IDAHOPOTATO.COM
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    RECIPE: Rum Punch For National Rum Punch Day

    September 20th is National Rum Punch Day. While the word “punch” conjures up a large bowl of drink, the word actually derives from the number five in Sanskrit and Hindi.

    THE HISTORY OF PUNCH

    Punch is a general term for a broad assortment of mixed drinks, made with or without alcohol. The word “punch” derives from the Hindi word, panch, from the Sanskrit is panchan, five.

    In India, panch was made from five different ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices and an alcoholic spirit; hence the name.

    Punch was “discovered” in India by the British sailors of the East India Company. The concept was brought to England in the early 17th century. From there it spread to other countries.

    While Western punch recipes generally contain fruit or fruit juice, fruit isn’t essential. Nor is an elegant punch bowl required: a pitcher is fine, and in many cases, it’s more practical.

    You can also make just one punch drink at a time. Here are two recipes for individual punch drinks—rum punch, of course, to celebrate National Rum Punch Day.

    For serving in tall glasses, get some fun straws.

    It’s hard to resist 144 cocktail umbrellas for $4.79, but we resisted.

    RECIPE: BACCARDI RUM PUNCH

    This classic rum punch uses two different types of rum: white and dark. If you don’t have both, use what you have.

    Because this recipe is in “parts,” you can make anything from a single glass to a party portion, without any calculations.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part Bacardi Superior (white rum)
  • ½ part Bacardi Select (dark rum)
  • ¼ part grenadine
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • ½ part cranberry juice
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ombine all liquid ingredients iIn a large container. Refrigerate until chilled and enjoy. If making a large batch, just before serving…

    2. POUR into a large punch bowl, stirring in ice. Garnish the bowl with floating lemon slices. Serve each glass with a lemon wheel.
     
    RECIPE: COCONUT RUM PUNCH

    This recipe, from Inspired By Charm, uses coconut rum and dark rum. No dark rum? Try it with all coconut rum.

     

    Rum Punch

    National Rum Punch Day

    Yellow Striped Straws

    [1] Grenadine and orange or yellow fruit juices create the “sunset” effect (photo courtesy Inspired By Charm). [2] Get out your Mason jars (photo courtesy The Blond Cook). [3] Tall drinks deserve a fun straw (photo courtesy Balloon Red).

     
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 1 ounce dark rum, plus 1/2 ounce to splash on top
  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Garnish: lime slice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. POUR into a glass the pineapple juice, orange juice, 1 ounce dark rum and 1 ounce coconut rum. Gently stir.

    2. SLOWLY POUR in a splash of grenadine. The grenadine will sink to the bottom to create the “sunset” coloration.

    3. ADD 1/2 ounce of dark rum to the top. Garnish with a slice of lime and serve.
     
     
    10 PUNCH MAKING TIPS

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 10-Minute Chorizo Tacos

    Chorizo Tacos Recipe

    White Corn Tortillas

    [1] Make these tortillas in 10 minutes or less. [2] Artisan white corn tortillas from Tortillas de la Tierra (both photos courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    Nothing planned for dinner?

    Guests drop by for a beer or glass of wine?

    Finicky kids?

    [Fill in] your own challenge?

    There’s a quick, crowd-pleasing solution: chorizo tacos.

    The folks at Good Eggs, who sent us this recipe, rejoice that “the ease and flavor of these simple chorizo numbers knocked our socks off.

    “Give it a try and you’ll be wondering if it can be Taco Tuesday every day.”

    It can be used at lunch and brunch, too.

    RECIPE: QUICK CHORIZO TORTILLAS

    Ingredients For 4 Tacos

  • 1 package chorizo sausage (pork or turkey)
  • 1 bunch green onions (scallions), chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 10 tortillas de la Tierra
  • Optional: whatever you have in the fridge*
  • Optional: lime wedges
  •  
    ________________
    *Avocado/guacamole, beans, crumbled/shredded cheese, plain or pickled jalapeños, radish, salsa, sour cream, tomatoes (chopped), etc.
    ________________
     
    For A Side Of Salad

  • 1 bag mixed greens or other salad ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • ½ lemon
  • Preparation

    1. REMOVE the casing from the sausages. Place the chorizo in a cast-iron pan and sauté over medium-high heat until fully cooked, 7-10 minutes.

    2. WARM the tortillas on both sides, directly over the flame on your stove. Keep the tortillas warm in a dish towel as you continue to heat the stack. Alternatively, wrap the stack in a slightly damp dish towel and microwave until warm.

    3. PLACE a scoop of chorizo on each tortilla, along with some cilantro and green onions. If serving any optional ingredients, place them on the table and let people dress their own.

    4. DRESS the salad: Toss the greens with olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, season to taste with salt and pepper.

     

    HOW TO FREEZE TORTILLAS

    Some brands of tortillas with preservatives have a long shelf life in the fridge. Others don’t.

    To freeze tortillas, stack them with parchment or wax paper separating each tortilla, and place in a freezer bag with the air squeezed out. Then you can remove them one by one, as you need them, without tearing.

    If you typically use two or four tortillas at a time, place the parchment at that interval.

    The tortillas will keep for six to eight months beyond their “best by” date.

    Parchment separation is also advisable to hedge against tearing if you’re keeping tortillas in the fridge.
     
    HOW TO THAW & WARM FROZEN TORTILLAS

    Quick Thawing Techniques

  • Stove Burners: With electric or induction burners, place the tortillas directly on the burners and flip them with tongs. For a gas burner, hold the tortilla over the flame with tongs.
  • Microwave: Wrap in a kitchen towel (if the tortillas have started to dry out, use a damp towel. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds, depending on how many tortillas you are heating. We use a rubber tortilla warmer—easy to store and great for microwaving any food.
  • Steamer: Wrap the tortillas in a kitchen towel and steam for a few minutes. They will stay hot if kept inside the towel.
  • Stovetop: Heat the tortillas in a pan, adding in a bit of water if you want to soften them.
  • Toaster Oven or Oven: Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven.
  •  
    Slow Thawing

  • Slow: Defrost on the counter overnight.
  • Slower: Defrost in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours.
  •  
    NOTE: The towel or foil you wrap the tortillas in continues to keep them warm after they leave the heat source. Bring the tortillas to the table in the wrap.
     
    WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE QUICK HOT MEALS?

    Let us know!

     

    Freezing Tortillas

    Heating Tortillas

    Handmade Corn Tortillas

    [3] To freeze, stack the tortillas in a freezer bag with parchment paper (photo courtesy Americas Test Kitchen Feed). [4] Heat frozen or fresh tortillas over the burner (photo courtesy Wonder How To). [5] Look for artisan tortillas: so delicious, they’re worth the higher price (photo courtesy Hot Bread Kitchen).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Plan A Dinner With Gujeolpan

    Gujeolpan

    Gujeolpan Platter

    Gujeolpan Pancake

    [1] Classic gujeolpan in a nine-sectioned octagonal plate (photo Jamie Frater | Wikipedia). [2] A beautiful non-traditional presentation at Siwhadam restaurant in Seoul. [3] Ingredients in the pancake (photo courtesy TheBeauti4.Blogspot.com).

     

    For a first course or a main dish, pass the gujeolpan.

    The what?

    In Korea, gujeolpan (gu-JOLP-an) is the name of a sectioned serving plate that holds nine different foods: eight delicacies and a stack of crêpe-like wheat pancakes (jeon)in the center, used as wraps. The shape that purportedly resembles a flower.

    Gu is Korean for nine, jeol is selection and pan is the plate. The idea is to present foods that represent different foods artistically: different textures and colors. Foods are separated by color and ingredients, and comprise various preparations of mushrooms, seasoned vegetables (bean sprouts, carrots, leeks, radishes, etc.).

    Today, it’s a special-occasion dish, served at banquets and weddings, and available at restaurants that specialize in it.
     
    HISTORY OF GUJEOLPAN

    An elaborate presentation, gujeolpan is one of the most beautiful centerpiece Korean dishes, colorful and aesthetically appealing. It was once available only to nobility. Today you can have it at Korean restaurants that specialize in ancient foods (and where it can be quite pricey), or make a version of it at home with modern recipes.

    The octagonal plate of yore is still used to present them; although these days any shape of platter or unsectioned dish can be used. The traditional ebony covered box can be replaced with a plastic version. There are also sectioned metal boxes, and ceramic or glass plates with depressions for the food.

    Gujeolpan dates back at least to the 14th century, and has become closely associated with the Joseon kingdom that lasted from 1392 to 1897 (when the country was officially renamed the Korean Empire).

    The plate can be quite elaborate, with a carvings, gold or brass embellishments and (for the very wealthy) gem encrustations.

    But you can create your own, and have fun with it as an appetizer, first course or light dinner.

    Might we add: It’s also a better-for-you, lower-calorie dish of fun?
     
    HOW TO EAT GUJEOLPAN

    As with Peking duck and other pancake-based Asian dishes, each person takes a pancake and fills it with the ingredients of choice. The ingredients are drizzled with sauce or other condiment, then rolled and eaten.

     

    HOW TO MAKE GUJEOLPAN

    If you have an Asian market, head there first to see what’s available. Otherwise, your produce store or supermarket will be a source of inspiration.

    But you can use anything you like. It’s very easy to pickle vegetables, for example; and you need only one meat and one fish.

    Create a balance of colors: brown, green, red, white, yellow. Consider:

  • Baby spinach, steamed and dressed with a bit of sesame oil
  • Bay scallops, marinated
  • Bean sprouts
  • Jeon (see note below)
  • Meat: lamb, pork, poultry, tofu, grilled or teriyaki, julienned
  • Mushrooms, marinated (we especially like enokoi and chanterelles)
  • Raw fish, thinly-sliced or cubed (fluke, salmon, tuna)
  • Salmon roe (ikura)
  • Seafood, raw (clams) or lightly cooked (crab, shrimp, squid, etc.)
  • Shredded or julienned carrots, cucumber, daikon/radish, scallions, seasonal (e.g. asparagus, ramps, sea beans), zucchini
  • Pickled cocktail onions, garlic, green beans or haricots verts (first cut to bite size)
  •  
    Non-Traditional Items

  • Baby arugula or watercress
  • European vegetables: endive, fennel, squash, etc.
  • Mayo-bound salads: crab, egg, potato, tuna, etc. (small dice)
  • Microgreens
  • Grilled or roasted vegetables
  • Sweet gherkins
  • Tartare: beef, salmon, tuna
  • Et cetera, et cetera and so forth
  •  
    Plus

  • Condiments on the side, e.g. chili paste, herb mayonnaise, horseradish, shredded basil, etc.
  • Korean mushroom and/or mustard sauces (recipes), soy sauce with vinegar
  •  

    Gujeolpan Plate

    Guljeopan Recipe

    Gujeolpan Recipe

    [4] A modern gujeolpan plate in metal with removable sections (photo courtesy Korea.net). [5] This plate has less than nine sections, but it works (photo courtesy Jungsik | Seoul). Or, repurpose a Passover plate. [6] You can use any plate (photo courtesy MarooDining.com.au).

     
    You can serve extra dishes, and fusion dishes; for example, beets, Japanese kimchi or gourmet sauerkraut (we’re crazy about Farmhouse Culture, which makes sauerkraut in Classic Caraway, Garlic Dill, Horseradish Leek, Smoked Jalapeño and Spicy Wakame Ginger).

    You can use a substitute for the pancakes (see next section).

    The biggest challenge is knife skills: slicing the ingredients thinly. On the other hand, this is an opportunity to practice your knife skills.

    Don’t forget the chopsticks!
     
    MAKING THE PANCAKES

    Here’s a recipe for traditional gujeolpan pancakes.

    You can also substitute:

  • Crêpes
  • Mu shu pancakes (recipe)
  • Nori (toasted seaweed)
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Other flexible wrap
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 25+ Substitutes For Hamburger Buns

    National Cheeseburger Day is September 18th, so have fun with it.

    Instead of your personal standard, branch out and make your CB special. You can do it by using a different:

  • Ground meat or blend
  • Cheese
  • Condiment(s)
  • Toppings
  • Stuffing
  •  
    For inspiration in these areas (you might call it foodporn), check out CheeseAndBurger.com.
     
    But today’s tip is the easiest of all: Think outside the bun.

    So many different types of bread—plain or toasted—are waiting to cradle your burger.

    SUBSTITUTES FOR HAMBURGER BUNS

    What should you use instead of a hamburger bun? The easiest answer:

    Walk down the bread isle of your market and see what speaks to you. You’ll find more than enough yummy choices to re-envision your burger.

  • Bagel burger (garlic or everything) or simit burger
  • Baguette burger (or other French bread)
  • Brioche burger
  • Burger on rye
  • Challah burger
  • Cornbread burger
  • Croissant burger (great with pretzel croissants)
  • English muffin burger
  • Ezekiel 4:9 burger or Genesis 1:29 burger (both breads have lots of whole grains and legumes)
  • Focaccia burger
  • French toast burger
  • Garlic bread burger
  • Indian bread burger (chapati, dosa, naan, paratha, roti)
  • Italian bread burger
  • Nut bread burger
  • Olive bread burger
  • Pizza crust burger (a great use for leftover pizza dough)
  • Potato bread burger
  • Pumpernickel burger (add sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing for a burger version of the Reuben sandwich)
  • Pupusa burger (pupusa is a stuffed corn tortilla)
  • Onion roll burger (or other specialty roll)
  • Rustic loaf burger
  • Sourdough burger
  • Toast burger (toast white, whole wheat, whatever you have)
  • Wrap burger
  •  
     
    IF YOU WANT TO USE A DIFFERENT CHEESE…

    We second that motion! But don’t make an obvious switch among American, Cheddar and Swiss slices. Consider:

  • Blue
  • Brie or Camembert (the difference)
  • Feta
  • Flavored Cheddar (we love a burger with Cabot Chipotle, Garlic, Horseradish and Jalapeño Cheddars)
  • Fontina
  • Gouda
  • Gruyère
  • Jack or Pepperjack
  • Jarlsberg
  • Havarti or other butterkäse
  • Washed rind (“stinky”) cheese:* Epoisses, Muenster d’Alsace,† Limburger, Pont l’Eveque, Stinking Bishop, Taleggio
  •  
    ________________
    *It’s a personal thing, but we love stinky cheeses, both in general and in the way they complement the grilled, beefy aroma and taste of the burger. The aroma is not necessarily representative of the cheese. But the cheese is specifically crafted to create those earthy scents.

    †Munster d’Alsace, also called Alsatian munster and French munster (optional spelling muenster), has nothing in common with bland American munster, except that they are both cheeses.
    ________________

     

    Baguette Cheeseburger

    McBaguette

    Focaccia Cheeseburger

    Cheeseburger On Sourdough Bread

    Pita Burger

    English Muffin Burger

    [1] A baguette cheeseburger (photo courtesy Ian Warf | Pinterest). [2] In France, McDonald’s serves the McBaguette (photo McDonalds). [3] Try a hard roll, and don’t be afraid to go rectangular instead of round (photo courtesy Telepizza.de). [4] We love a burger on toasted sourdough bread (photo courtesy Omaha Steaks) [5] Pita: a natural pocket for your burger (photo courtesy Droolworthy Daily). [6] A natural: the English muffin burger (photo courtesy Thomas Breads).

     
    BURGER COOKING TIPS

  • Use fresh meat: The more freshly ground the meat is, the more tender and flavorful the burger.
  • Keep the meat cold. Patties will stay as juicy as possible when they’re cooked cold. Putting the patties in the fridge also helps to keep the flavor-carrying fat from dripping out.
  • Stop flipping! Flip only once: Constant turning will toughen and dry out the meat, and if you flip too soon, the burger will stick. Cook two minutes per side for rare, three for medium-rare, four for medium, and five for well-done.
  • Don’t press down on the burger! When a burger is pressed with a spatula, the juice is pressed out, taking all that moistness and flavor with it.
  • Move a cheeseburger. To add cheese, move the burger to the cooler side of the grill, top with cheese and cover the grill for a minute to let the cheese melt.
  •  
    Thanks to Crawford Ker of Ker’s Winghouse for these tips.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Cook A Frozen Steak Without Thawing

    Frozen Steak

    Frozen Steak

    Strip Steak

    Splatter Screen

    [1] Remove the frozen steak from the freezer (photo courtesy Mart2Go). [2] Place it in a hot pan (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] In 20 minutes, plate and enjoy (photo courtesy Eddie Merlot’s). [4] We use a mesh spatter screen, but we just ordered this folding spatter screen from Norpro.

     

    Want a steak but you haven’t defrosted it yet?

    No problem. Your steak will be ready in less than 30 minutes with this technique developed by Dan Souza of Cook’s Illustrated (thanks to Good Eggs for sending their adaptation to us).

    Dan experimented by cutting strip steaks in half, freezing both halves, then defrosting one half before cooking.

    He cooked both the thawed and frozen halves exactly the same way, and found that the frozen steak lost less moisture, cooked more evenly, and tasted better than the thawed half!

    The steak needs to be frozen properly, since any extra moisture or ice will cause a flare-up when it hits the hot oil. Here’s Dan’s freezing technique:

    HOW TO FREEZE A STEAK

  • SET the steak(s) on a baking sheet lined with parchment and place in the freezer until frozen.
  • WRAP each fully-frozen steak in plastic and place it in a heavy-duty plastic bag.
  • SQUEEZE any air out of the bag. Place it in the back of the freezer, so it doesn’t get hit by warm air every time you open the door (which can create condensation on the meat).
  •  
    RECIPE: COOKING A FROZEN STEAK

  • 1 frozen steak (not thawed!)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cast iron pan
  • Optional: splatter screen, meat thermometer
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 275°F. Set a wire rack atop a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

    2. DRIZZLE 1/8″ oil into a cast iron pan—just enough to coat the bottom. Place the skillet over high heat. When the pan is smoking hot, gently lay the steak onto the pan and sear both sides until browned, 90-120 seconds per side. NOTE: Frozen steak splatters more.

    3. TRANSFER the steak onto the wire rack and place in the oven. Cook until the steak is the desired doneness: 18 to 20 minutes for a 1-inch-thick steak to be medium rare (an internal temperature of 125°F on a meat thermometer).

    4. COOK the veggies or prepare the salad while the steak cooks.

    5. REST the steak for at least 3 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to settle in the meat, instead of pouring out when sliced.

    Here’s a video of Dan’s preparation.
     
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF STEAK

    How many different types of steak have you had?

    Check out our meaty Glossary Of Beef Types.

     

     
      

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    PRODUCT: Merci Chocolate

    Something fun and yummy in the chocolate space is finally available in the U.S.

    Merci, sold in Europe for some 50 years, is a brand of boxed chocolates manufactured by the German company August Storck KG.

    They are miniature bars, in an assortment of flavors made with fine ingredients, nicely packaged in a gift box.

    The delicious selection of rich European-style chocolates includes flavors such as Coffee and Cream, Cream Truffle, Dark Cream, Dark Mousse, Hazelnut-Almond, Hazelnut-Creme, Milk Chocolate and Praline-Creme, and merci will delight the palate.

    Each flavor has its own individual color wrap, to distinguish it from the other flavors in the box.

    The idea for merci was born in 1965, as an affordable yet impressive way to say “thank you” (which incorporates “thank you for being you”). Its popularity spread, and Merci is now sold in 100 countries.

    Choices include:

  • All milk chocolate.
  • All dark chocolate.
  • Mixed milk and dark chocolate.
  • Assorted chocolate with almonds.
  •  
    The 20-piece box, with 8.8-ounces of chocolate, can be found for $7.50 (or more, depending on the retailer). You can purchase two boxes with free shipping for $21.90 on Amazon.

    In addition to Amazon, the chocolates are sold at CVS, Target, Walgreens and other chains and grocery stores nationwide.

    Can you give a box to yourself?

    No one’s going to stop you!
     
    MERCI WITH COFFEE

    In Europe, after-dinner coffee is often served with a napolitain, also called a pale or tasting square, just 5 to 10 grams. One or two of these small wrapped pieces are placed on the rim off the coffee cup.

    While Merci wrapped chocolates are stackable anytime, we enjoy serving them to guests with coffee. They easily can substitute for dessert, too.
     
     
    ABOUT STORCK

     

    Merci Chocolates

    Merci Dark Chocolate

    Coffee & Napolitain

    [1] You can serve Merci from the box or in your favorite candy dish. [2] Merci’s dark chocolate collection (both photos courtesy Merci | Storck). [3] Instead of two napolitains with after-dinner coffee, serve one Merci bar (photo courtesy Sandstein | Wikipedia).

     
    A family business now managed by the fourth generation, Storck has been a confectioner for than 100 years.

    Its brands are sold worldwide. Best-known in the U.S. are Werther’s Original caramels and toffee (the difference), and Bendicks Buttermints, chocolate-covered after-dinner mints.

    For more information visit Storck.us.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Drinks For Mexican Independence Day

    Tequila & Grapefruit Juice Cocktail

    Bandera Shots

    [1] The Paloma, said to be Mexico’s favorite tequila-based cocktail (photo courtesy TasteCocktails.com). [2] The Bandera comprises shots in green, white and red, the colors of the Mexican flag (photo courtesy FoodNetwork.com). [3] A layered bandora shot with chartreuse, maraschino liqueur (clear) and grenadine (photo courtesy BarinaCraft.com).

     

    September 16th is Mexican Independence Day. It’s also National Guacamole Day. Coincidence? We think not!

    Yesterday, we explained how Mexicans celebrated with shots of Reposda tequila, aged for up to a year.

    But what if you don’t like drinking straight tequila?

    You can enjoy another tequila cocktail or a non-alcoholic Mexican drink. Here are some of the most popular:
     
    RECIPE #1: MICHELADA: MEXICO’S BEER COCKTAIL

    You can have a plain Mexican beer, of course. Bohemia, Corona, Dos Equis and others are commonly found across the country.

    But if you like a bit of heat, have a Michelada (mee-cha-LAH-dah), a traditional cerveza preparada, or beer cocktail.

    Michelada is a combination of beer, lime and hot sauce served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. Chela is Mexican slang for a cold beer, combined with mixto, referring to the the mix of ingredients added to the beer. Eliminate the hot sauce and you’ve got a Chelada.

    Here’s the complete Michelada recipe.
     
    RECIPE #2: PALOMA COCKTAIL, TEQUILA & GRAPEFRUIT

    This cocktail couldn’t be easier: 3 parts grapefruit soda and 1 part tequila, served over ice cubes in a highball glass, garnished with a lime wedge. You can add an optional salt rim.

    And you can make it by the pitcher-ful, which we’ll be doing tonight.

    Paloma is the Spanish word for dove. In Mexico the soft drink of choice is Jarritos brand grapefruit soda (in the U.S., look for it at international markets or substitute Fresca.

    You can purchase pink grapefruit soda from the premium mixer brand Q Drinks, or combine grapefruit juice with club soda or grapefruit-flavored club soda.

     
    At better establishments, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice is combined with club soda. Use pink grapefruit juice and you’ll have a Pink Paloma (our term for it).

    Here’s the history of the Paloma from TasteCocktails.com, which says it’s the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico.
     
    RECIPE #2: BANDERA SHOTS

    In Mexico the Bandera (flag), named after the flag of Mexico, consists of three shot glasses representing the colors of the flag (photo #2).

    The first is filled with lime juice (for the green), the middle has white (silver) tequila, and the last contains sangrita (for the red), a chaser that usually contains orange and tomato juices. Here’s the recipe from Food Network.

    You can also make layered shooter with liqueurs in the national colors (photo #3). Here’s a recipe.

     

    NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

    RECIPE #4: AGUA FRESCA

    In Spanish, agua fresca means fresh water.

    In culinary terms, it refers to a variety of refreshing cold drinks that are sold by street vendors and at cafés throughout Mexico and other Latin American countries (photo #4). They’re also sold bottled at stores, and are easily whipped up at home.

    Agua fresca is nonalcoholic and noncarbonated. The recipe can include a combination of fruits or veggies, flowers (like hibiscus), herbs and/or spices, cereals (barley, oats, rice), seeds (chia), even almond flour (which is used to make horchata, the next example).

    A traditional agua fresca is an infused, sweetened water, flavored with fruits and/or vegetables—often a more complex layering of flavors than lemonade and limeade.

    Our favorite combinations: watermelon (or any melon), basil cucumber and mint hibiscus. Here’s how to make them.

    As you can see from this recipe template, it’s easy to mix your favorite flavors.
     
    RECIPE #5: HORCHATA

    Agua de horchata—horchata for short—is a very popular recipe, made from ground almonds and rice spiced with cinnamon (photo #5). Other flavors such as coconut can be added.

    Here’s a recipe from Noshon.it.

    It’s not conventional, but, you could add a shot of tequila or rum.

    After all, it’s a day to celebrate!

     

    Watermelon Agua Fresca

    Mexican Soft Drink

    [4] Whip up a pitcher of watermelon aqua fresca with this recipe from Whole Foods Markets. [5] Horchata, made from ground almonds and cooked rice, may sound unusual—but it’s unusually good (photo courtesy Noshon.It).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 10+ Uses For A Trifle Bowl

    English Trifle Bowl

    English Trifle Bowl

    Peanut Butter Trifle

    Homemade Edible Arrangement

    [1] A classic English trifle (photo courtesy JoyCooks.Blogspot.com). [1] This modern trifle combines peanut butter pudding and pretzels. [3] A good-for-you substitute. Move over, Edible Arrangements (photos #2 and #3 courtesy Pampered Chef).

     

    Trifles are one of the easiest desserts you can make—and impressive to present. Most of the ingredients are purchased ready-to-use, with only custard or other pudding requiring a few minutes of preparation.
     
    WHAT’S A TRIFLE?

    A trifle is a layered British dessert of fruit, sponge fingers or sponge cake soaked, custard, and a topping of whipped cream. Other ingredients can be added (gelatin/Jell-O, cookie crumbs) and the cake can be soaked in alcohol.
     
    TRIFLE HISTORY

    Trifle is an evolution of a fruit fool, a dessert that probably originated in 15th -century Britain. Puréed stewed fruit was swirled with sweet custard.

    The classic was (and is) gooseberry fool, but seasonal fruits—apples, berries, rhubarb—were also used.

    Other countries have their own versions that followed the British concept. In Italy, for example, zuppa inglese, a layering of liqueur-soaked sponge and custard, appeared in the late 19th century.

    The first known reference to a trifle appears in 1585 in a cookbook, The Good Huswifes Jewell. It was flavored with sugar, ginger and rosewater (a recipe for the well-do-do, as sugar and spices were costly).

    The trifle evolved to include a layer of crumbled biscuits (cookies) and alcohol-soaked sponge cake or sponge fingers (ladyfingers) as the bottom layer. Brandy, madeira, port and sherry were used to soak the sponge.

    When powdered gelatin* became available in 1845, a layer of fruit “jelly” was added to recipes.

    As was so common among the fashionable in Renaissance Britain, France, and other European countries, new foods engendered new styles of dishes and flatware. For trifles, a straight-sided pedestal glass bowl showed off the beauty of the layers.

    Today, many people prefer bowls without the pedestal (easier to store), and modern ingredient layers that range from layers of chocolate cake, peanut butter pudding, pretzels and Oreos.

    Glass bowls with or without a pedestal are used for other desserts and can also be repurposed. Anyone who owns a straight-sided glass bowl has already figured out how to use it for layered dips, layered salads (fruit, green, pasta) and as a fruit bowl.

    It can serve as anything from a bread basket (nice with muffins at brunch) to a chip bowl.

    Here are more ways to use a trifle bowl. Thanks to Pampered Chef for some of these ideas and photos.

     

    OTHER USES FOR A TRIFLE BOWL

  • Candle Holder. A trifle bowl can make a candle holder with lots of flair. Just place a flame-proof base inside the bowl, place a pedestal candle on top, then fill around the base with any festive decoration: pretty stones, marbles, nuts, wine corks, wood chips. TIP: For the dinner table, use an unscented candle.
  • Centerpiece. For fall, fill the bowl with apples, chestnuts, dried wheat, gourds, Indian corn, mini pumpkins or a combination (photo #4). For the holidays, use candy canes, ornaments, pine cones, or mini evergreen trees (photo #5). For summer: sand and seashells, topped by a starfish. With any season, you can also place that pedastel candle in the center.
  • Desserts. Nouvelle trifle: Think of how to expand beyond the classic. Butterscotch pudding and pretzel layers? Banana pudding and ‘Nilla Wafers? Oreos and whipped cream? Baked Alaska? It’s so much easier to layer the cake and ice cream. Use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue. Or create a stunning fruit salad, either in colored layers or like the one in photo #3.
  • Drinks. Serve party punch or even ice cold shrimp cocktail. It makes a great visual impact that doesn’t require any additional decoration. Beautifully presented food speaks for itself!
  • Flatware. For buffets, wrap the flatware in napkins and present them in the bowl.
  • Flower Vase. Grab a bouquet or two of your favorite blooms and arrange them in the bowl. To hide the stems, try filling the vessel with rocks, fruit, or even crushed ice. Not much of a florist? No worries: Decorating your table with a few vases that have the same flower in the same color creates a pretty, modern look.
  • Ice Bucket. Make it the centerpiece of your drink station. Mini bottles of wine or champagne look just plain adorable displayed in the bowl.
  • Parties. Fill them with anything, from candy to party favors.
  • Punch Bowl. A smaller punch bowl can contain a mocktail version for those who don’t want alcohol (photo #6).
  • Snacks. Chips, pretzels, Chex Mix, etc.
  •  
    What else?

    We look forward to your suggestions!
     
    ________________
    *Gelatin was first extracted by boiling animal bones, in 1682. But this laborious process was only undertaken in large kitchens with staff to prepare it. While gelatin is pure protein, it is colorless, flavorless and odorless, so it also needed to be enhanced for serving.

     

    Fall Centerpiece

    Christmas Centerpiece

    Trifle Bowl For Punch

    [4] Fall centerpiece. [5] Christmas centerpiece. [6] Punch bowl (all photos courtesy Pampered Chef).

     

      

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