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TIP OF THE DAY: Home Cocktail Tips From Professional Bartenders

Drink Like A Bartender

[1] Make better cocktails at home, and order better at bars. Get the book at Amazon.com.

Bourbon Flip
[2] A Bourbon Flip, made with the contents of Nana’s Fridge. Here’s a recipe from Epicurious.

Hawthorne Strainer
[3] Hawthorne strainer: You’ve seen it, now you know its name (available at Golden Age Bartending).

Channel Knife

[4] A channel knife makes peel and twist garnishes (available from Barconic).

 

Our Tip Of The Day is from Thea Engst and Lauren Vigdor, authors of Drink Like A Bartender: Secrets From The Other Side Of The Bar. While there is much great information on how to order in a bar, here are their tips for home mixologists:

Let’s just get this right out in the open: we love booze. We love creating new drinks and trying new flavors. Mixing a cocktail is an art form these days, so much so that it’s hard to imagine that cocktails were first invented as a way to mask the taste of low-quality liquor.

Today we have the luxury of mixing bitters, fresh juices, and well-crafted liqueurs and spirits to make balanced beauties we can be proud of. We’ve come a long way from shutting our eyes and chugging moonshine for a buzz—our forefathers would be proud.

STOCKING YOUR HOME BAR: EXPERIMENT!

A few years ago, Thea visited her Nana’s house for Christmas. Like a lady, she arrived with nothing but a bottle of bourbon. Her Nana was downsizing and trying to clean out her fridge, so she told Thea to make whatever she wanted with whatever she could find. Thea accepted Nana’s challenge.

She found, among other things, a bottle of crème de menthe, heavy cream, and a few eggs. Along with the bourbon brought from home, Thea mixed the heavy cream, an entire egg, and a touch of the crème de menthe (warning: it’s a potent taste!) to make minty bourbon flips for her family (photo #2).

To be fair, they were all hesitant as they watched her throw an entire egg in the shaker, but they were happy with the result.

What’s the moral of this story? Don’t be afraid to experiment with what you’ve got! Nana’s liquor cabinet was limited, but she had a few essentials: eggs and cream. You don’t need a citrus or fancy mixers to make a delicious drink.

You too can be like Thea and Lauren. Here are some tools to keep on hand for when it’s your moment to impress your friends and family:

  • Boston Shaker (photo #6) Those tins you see us mixing drinks in.
  • Bar Spoon: Those long spoons you see us stirring with.
  • Jigger: Measuring device for fluid ounces. Again, choose the style you want—they come in all shapes and sizes.
  • Muddler: A muddler is a wooden (but sometimes metal) tool you’ll see behind the bar nowadays. It is used to help you crush ingredients (like mint leaves) to release the flavors.
  • Channel Knife (photo #4): Similar to a vegetable peeler, but this has a smaller blade to make a twist versus a peel, which is a larger swath of fruit peel.
  • > Twist: When you use a channel knife to peel a narrow spiral of fruit skin. A twist is actually twisted citrus peel, or, a long narrow rope of the peel only that is twisted into a corkscrew shape.
    > Peel or swath: A much wider piece of citrus peel than a twist. A swath is just the zest (or colored part) of the citrus peel with ideally no pith or meat of the fruit at all.
    > Wedge: A slice of the fruit that is often shaped like a wedge or half-moon. This does involve the meat of the fruit. You can squeeze further citrus into your drink if you’d like, as with the lime wedge on a Gin and Tonic, for example.

  • Strainer: Once you shake or stir the cocktail, if you don’t want to use dirty ice, you need to strain without your fingers, so invest in one or all of these:
  • > Hawthorne Strainer (photo #3): The strainer with the coils. It essentially looks like it has a slinky on it. This is a pretty universal strainer, so you can’t really go wrong with it.
    > Julep Strainer (photo #5) The strainer that looks like a big spoon with a small handle and big holes in it. It’s more commonly used for stirred cocktails, as there won’t be huge ice chunks to strain out of a stirred cocktail.
    > Tea Strainer: A cone-shaped mesh strainer very often used to double-strain egg white drinks or shaken drinks as well.

    Some people want to get the ice chunks out of a shaken drink and will use the Hawthorne strainer as well as the tea strainer. That’s about preference. This is a good tool to get mint bits out of a drink, too!

    Pro Tips:

  • If your cocktail has juice in it, you shake it. That’s the rule. Don’t think twice about it.
  • If it’s straight spirit, stir. That’s the rule. Don’t think twice about it.
  •  
    THE GOOD STUFF

    Just like Ocean’s Eleven, when it comes to drink making, you have key characters doing things that are apparently important. We got the explosive expert, the tech person, the driver, and the dude who gets everyone together and somehow gets all the credit.

    Your home bar components are just like this. You need to have:

  • Simple syrup: Don’t you dare buy this! You can make it at home in a few easy steps. It’s equal parts hot water and sugar, stirred until the sugar dissolves. So, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup hot water, stir and stir (photo #7). You can even add more sugar for a richer syrup. Just like sugar, simple doesn’t expire.
  • Sweet and/or dry vermouth: Thea’s Nana raised her to always be able to make her guests a Martini or Manhattan. Sweet vermouth goes in a Manhattan, dry vermouth in a Martini.
  • Campari: An amaro (herbal liqueur) with strong orange notes. Campari is good to have in your bar because you can make anything from a low-alcohol, stomach-calming highball (Campari & soda), or classics like a Negroni for your gin-drinking guests and a Boulevardier for your whiskey-drinking guests.
  • Citrus: lime and/or lemon. There’s not much that can top a daiquiri (photo #8) with fresh lime juice, and ifyou have lemon juice, gin, and soda water, you have a Tom Collins. Voilà!
  •  

    MECHANICS

    Let’s talk about the birds and the bees of bartending: shaking and stirring. You are building a cocktail—let’s say it’s a Daiquiri.

    The rum, simple syrup, and lime go in the little guy shaker (the smaller half of your shaker). Then you take a scoop of ice with the big boy shaker (the bigger half of your shaker), throw the ice into the little shaker, and lock the big shaker into the little shaker.

    Remember that you don’t want them to be directly up and down. The two sides won’t seal effectively that way. Make them crooked: The rim of the big half should be touching the side of the little half in one spot.

    Then smack the top with the heel of your hand until it locks. You are going to be throwing this bad boy around a little, after all. A poorly sealed shaker will split during the shaking process and that’s a good way to get yourself sticky.

    Now to unlock the shaker: hold the locked shakers in one hand so that your palm lines up with where the two halves meet. Take the heel of your other hand and hit the opposite side of the sealed shakers. It should unlock with one to three steady hits. Done!

    Shaken Or Stirred?

    When you shake a cocktail, you incorporate a lot of air and small chips of ice into the drink. The shaking motion whips the cocktail (think of stirring a cup of cream versus making whipped cream) and breaks the ice down by knocking it into the sides of the shaker.

    When you stir a cocktail, the ice spins around in the center of your mixing glass as one continuous piece. It slowly melts into the drink to dilute it slightly, which softens and expands the flavors, and very little air is added.

    Stirring cocktails is what gives your Martinis and Manhattans that silky smooth mouthfeel, whereas shaking is what makes your margarita so dang frothy. We’ll get more into when to shake and when to stir later.

    Dry Shake Or Wet Shake?

    A dry shake is when you put all your ingredients into the shaker and shake them without ice. A wet shake is the opposite— it’s when all your ingredients are shaken with ice.

    So when do you use a dry shake and when do you use a wet shake? We’re glad you asked!

    You should use a dry shake when you are making a drink that is served over crushed ice.

    Do you remember what we said about dilution earlier—how shaking with ice dilutes the drink ever so slightly? Using a dry shake here helps from diluting a drink further (pouring it over crushed ice dilutes it as well).

    When you’re still getting a feel for how long to dry shake, it’s super-helpful to add just one cube to the shaker. When you can’t hear the cube shaking around anymore, it’s time to add more ice.

    What about stirring?

    You don’t have to worry so much about over-stirring cocktails. Unlike shaking, the ice isn’t chipping and melting quickly in the process. Still, you don’t want to overstir. A good number of stirs to aim for is 40–50 turns.

    Pro Tip: Mixers

  • Don’t buy expensive bottled cocktail mixers that are full of chemicals and sugar. You know the ones we’re talking about. They come in plastic bottles and are sometimes created by chain restaurants.
  • Instead, take a stroll over to the frozen food aisle of your grocery store. It’s just as easy to throw some frozen fruit or a purée—maybe a can of coconut milk?—into a blender. Your cocktail will taste so much fresher than it would if you had used the bottled chemicals.
  •  
    Editor’s Note: There are more than a few artisan cocktail mixer lines that are 100% natural—no chemicals: Just read the ingredients label. There are even organic lines. All we’ve tried have been fresh-tasting and good enough to drink by themselves, as a mocktail.
     
     
    Thea and Lauren also sent us recipes for some must-try cocktails.

    Alas, we don’t have the room to print them today. You’ll just have to read the book!

     

    Julep Strainer
    [5] Julep strainer, available from Bar Products.

    Boston Shaker
    [6] Boston shaker available at Williams-Sonoma.

    Simple Syrup
    [7] Simple syrup is easy to make at home. Here’s the recipe from Liquor.com.

    Daiquiri Cocktail

    [8] A classic Daiquiri, invented by American engineers in Cuba. Here’s the scoop (photo courtesy Bacardi). Also: Yuzu Daiquiri recipe and Grapefruit Daiquiri, both delicious.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Shandy Party

    Shandy Beer Drink
    [1] A shandy made with spicy ale (photo courtesy Whole Foods Market).

    Ginger Beer
    [2] A ginger beer shandy leaves out most of the alcohol (it’s less than .5% ABV) and adds the flavor of ginger. Here’s the recipe from Homemade Hooplah.

    Passionfruit Shandy
    [3] This Island Shandy from Tommy Bahama uses passion fruit juice instead of lemonade.

    Mexican Shandy

    [4] How about a Mexican shandy? This recipe from Strawberry Blondie Kitchen, with Corona beer, lemonade and mango juice.

     

    Like beer? Mix it with a juice drink like lemonade or fruit soda to create a shandy.

    You can buy shandy in a bottle (photo #1)—artisan beer companies make it—but you can make your own, varying the beers, mixers, proportions and garnishes.

    In fact, “make your own” is an idea for a summer weekend get-together. Tips for how to set up a shandy bar at your next gathering are below.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF SHANDY

    Shandy is short for shandygaff. It’s beer diluted with a non-alcoholic beverage. It’s a traditional British pub drink that mixes lager with lemon soda, ginger ale or ginger beer. Carbonated lemonade, cider or other citrus-flavored soda can be used.

    Whatever you use—you can even use ginger beer—you’ll find that shandy is a refreshing summertime drink. The shandy tradition dates back to the 17th century. Today, English publicans blend an English ale or beer with various lemon and lime beverages.

    No one knows the origin of the word, but the first known print reference is from 1853. The tradition no doubt began earlier.

    Shandy is a surname in the U.K.; and in Ireland, the name is a variant of Shaun (John). Gaff is an old term for a fishing hook or spear.

    Perhaps the drink was first mixed up by a steward named Shandy, to hook in customers? Or in honor of the master of an estate, for whom the drink was first served?

    Maybe, like the Cold Duck, it was an ad hoc thing: There wasn’t only half as much wine or champagne needed for guests, so some clever person thought to mix them together.

    What about an Arnold Palmer? It arrived centuries later. Here’s the difference between an Arnold Palmer and shandy.
     
     
    DIY SHANDY: CREATE A SHANDY BAR

    It you’re looking for a Labor Day activity, how about a make-your-own shandy bar? Just assemble the ingredients, print out brief “instructions” and put them in a frame next to the beer.

    Instructions can include: (1) Shandy is half beer, half non-alcoholic drink.(2) Create your own signature shandy with the soft drink and proportions of your choice. (3) Be neat and clean up your spills!

    Supermarket shelves are awash with citrus soda: orange, Fresca, Seven-Up (lemon lime). Our favorites are:

  • Pellegrino Limonata, Aranciata and Aranciata Rosso
  • Dry Soda blood orange
  • GuS Meyer Lemon, Sparkling Grapefruit, Valencia Orange
  •  
    So take stock of the options, then stock up.

    Shandy Bar Ingredients

  • Lager beer (plus wheat beer, IPA or nonalcoholic beer, if you’d like to present different options—check out the different types of beer)
  • Ginger beer* as a non-alcoholic option
  • Citrus soda, sparkling lemonade, sparkling soda
  • Ginger ale
  • Lemonade: plain, sparkling, Mike’s Hard Lemonade
  • Berry lemonade: blueberry, strawberry, raspberry (muddle the berries and mix with regular lemonade)
  • Sparkling cider
  • Optional: Bitters
  •  
    Shandy Garnishes

  • Lemon wedges
  • Lime wedges
  • Berries
  •  
    Glass Rimmers

  • Citrus Zest
  • Coarse salt
  • Flavored salt
  •  
    Plus

  • Glasses (start with small-to-medium size)
  • Swizzle sticks to stir
  • Paper towels for spills
  • Napkins
  •  
    A COMPARATIVE SHANDY TASTING

    If you don’t want a DIY shandy bar, gather whatever shandy brands you can find and have a tasting.

    Samuel Adams makes Porch Rocker, if you can still find it (the distribution period is through July). Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top Lemon Shandy is available through August. Also look for Harp Lemon Shandy, Labatt Shandy and Saranac Shandy Lager and Lemonade.

    Fentiman’s brews two soft drink shandy styles, non-alcoholic shandy and a low alcoholic version brewed to .5 ABV ABV (1 proof), which allows it to be sold as a soft drink.

    An Arnold Palmer is not related to a shandy, except that they both use lemonade. Here are the differences.

    We like to use shot glasses or juice glasses for this type a from-the-bottle beer tasting. It lets everyone try a small amount of each brand, and return to their favorite with a larger glass.

    WHAT’S GINGER BEER?

    Ginger beer is like ginger ale with a buzz. The big difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is that ginger beer is brewed (fermented). Most ginger ale is just carbonated water that’s been flavored with ginger, although some artisan brands brew their ginger ale.

    Since ginger beers are naturally fermented, they have less carbonation and often develop a beer-like head when poured into a glass. Some ginger beers are sold unfiltered and appear cloudy, so gently invert the before drinking or pouring, to re-incorporate any separation.

    Plus, the ginger flavor is more intense—much more intense.

    Today’s brewed ginger beers are categorized as non-alcoholic drinks because their alcohol content is less than .5% (1 proof), which meets FDA requirements.
     
     
    RECIPE: IPA SHANDY

    Like IPA (India Pale Ale)? It’s the most trending style of beer in the U.S.

    This shandy update from Whole Foods Market combines “a hoppy craft IPA and a throat-tickling ginger beer.”

    Shandys are generally made with lagers and wheat beers. If you’re not a hops fan, use one of those instead.

    You’ll also notice that the ingredients are beer and ginger beer. Play around with substituting lemon-lime carbonated drinks for the ginger beer, to see what you like best.
     
    Ingredients Per Tall Drink

  • 1 bottle (12-ounces) IPA, chilled
  • 1/4 cup ginger beer, chilled
  • Optional but recommended: 3 dashes orange or ginger bitters†
  • Garnish: orange slice (studded with cloves, if you like)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ale, ginger beer and bitters in a tall beer glass and stir lightly to blend (but not hard enough to break the bubbles).

    2. GARNISH and serve.
    ________________
    †The original Angostura bitters have a ginger undertone. They have recently released Angostura orange, in the $8.00 to $9.00 range. Connoisseurs may wish to spring for the fine artisan orange bitters from Bitter Truth in the $29.00 to $30.00 range.
     
      

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    RECIPE: A Classic & Variations For National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

    August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

    That are the top 10 pies in America, based on consumption? No one has done that survey.

    Mrs. Smith’s released a survey of their top 10 based on sales, but it only included frozen pies in the flavors made by Mrs. Smith.

    One thing we do know: Look at every list of the top pies in the country and you’ll find these nine (in alphabetical order):

    1. Apple Pie
    2. Banana Cream Pie
    3. Blueberry Pie
    4. CherryPie
    5. Coconut Cream Pie
    6. Key Lime Pie
    7. Lemon Meringue Pie
    8. Pecan Pie
    9. Pumpkin Pie
     
    What’s the 10th favorite? Depending on how the list was compiled, here are some from Top Ten Pies:

  • Chocolate Mousse/Silk Pie
  • Oreo Pie
  • Peach Pie
  • Peanut Butter/Snickers
  • Raspberry Pie
  • Strawberry Pie
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  •  
    Some flavors are seasonal (including berry and stone fruit pies). Peppermint pies come out during the holiday season.

    Some of our favorites, such as Black Bottom Pie, Grasshopper Pie and Tarte Tatin (a French upside-down pie with caramelized apples) aren’t even on the Top 20 list of sweet pies.
     
    TRIVIA: Banana Cream Pie is a layer cake, and cheesecake is a custard pie. Check out the different types of pie.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th Century. But meringue was not perfected until the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy, the French-speaking part(s) of Switzerland.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe.

    August 15th is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day, celebrating one of America’s favorite pies.

    THE HISTORY OF LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Lemon-flavored custards, puddings and pies date to Middle Ages, which concluded in the 15th century, bowing to the Renaissance. But meringue was not perfected until the 17th century.

    The modern lemon meringue pie is a 19th-century recipe, attributed to Alexander Frehse, a Swiss baker from Romandy, the French-speaking part(s) of Switzerland.

    It combines a lemon custard single crust pie with meringue, the fluffy topping made from egg whites and sugar, baked on top. Here’s the classic lemon meringue pie recipe from McCormick

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: LEMON MERINGUE PIE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 basic 9-inch pie crust*, baked and cooled
  •  
    For The Filling

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 5 egg yolks, well beaten (save the whites for the meringue)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  •    

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [1] One of America’s favorite pies. The classic recipe below is from the American Egg Board, IncredibleEgg.org.

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [2] Browning in the oven can create an even color, which professional bakers often prefer for its perfect, even look (photo courtesy McCormick).

    Lemon Meringue Pie
    [3] You can brown the meringue as much or as little as you like (photo courtesy My Most Favorite Food).

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    [4] This meringue, from Centerville Pie Company, goes for a shade of mocha.

     

    For The Meringue

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Lemon peel curls/twists
  • Fresh mint, whole leaves or julienne
  • ________________

    *Take a look at this Egg & Lemon Juice Pie Crust from IncredibleEgg.org.

     

    Meyer Lemons
    [5] Mini-tip: Before you juice lemons for a recipe, zest them and save the zest in the freezer. Use it to perk up everyday foods like salad dressings, juices, soft drinks, hot and cold tea (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Pete And Gerry's Organic Eggs

    [6] Do organic eggs taste better? Frankly, yes; although freshness also enters the equation (photo courtesy BJs).

     

    Preparation.

    1. PLACE the oven rack in the top third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare the filling: Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in large, heavy saucepan. Gradually stir in the water and lemon juice until smooth. Add the egg yolks; stir until blended, and add the butter.

    2. COOK over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon peel.

    3. IMMEDIATELY MAKE the meringue. Dissolve the cornstarch in cold water in one-cup glass measure. Microwave on High 30 seconds; stir. Microwave until the mixture boils, 15 to 30 seconds more. Remove and cover.

    4. BEAT the egg whites and cream of tartar in mixer bowl with the whisk attachment on high speed, until foamy. Beating constantly, add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until the sugar is dissolved before adding the next.

    5. CONTINUE beating until the whites are glossy and stand in soft peaks. Beating constantly, add the cornstarch paste, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat in the vanilla.

    6. POUR the hot filling into the pie crust. Quickly spread the meringue evenly over filling, starting at the edge of the crust. The meringue should overlap rim of the crust. Swirl with the back of a spoon to provide waves.

    7. BAKE in the upper third of a 325°F oven until the meringue is lightly browned, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes to 1 hour; then refrigerate until serving. Garnish as desired.
     
     
    TIPS

  • Serve freshly made pie at room temperature, or refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to serve. Let the pie warm up on the counter.
  • For neat slices, dip knife into glass of water, letting excess water drip off, before each cut. This prevents the meringue from sticking to knife and tearing it. Be sure to cut completely through the crust.
  • A hot filling is important. The heat of the filling cooks the bottom of the meringue and prevents it from weeping and creating a slippery layer between filling and topping. Set up your equipment and measure meringue ingredients before you make the filling and work quickly to make meringue before filling cools.
  • To check if the sugar is dissolved, rub a bit of meringue between your thumb and forefinger. If the sugar is dissolved, it will feel completely smooth. If it feels grainy, continue beating.
  • To check for soft peaks, stop the mixer and lift the beater. The peaks left in the meringue should curl at the tips. If the peaks stand straight and tall (stiff peaks), the meringue has been overbeaten.
  • Anchor the meringue. Be sure to attach the meringue to the crust all around the edge of the pie. This prevents the meringue from pulling away from the edge during baking.
  • If beads form on the refrigerated meringue, gently blot them with the tip of paper towel.
  • Refrigerate any leftover pie promptly.
  •  
     
    VARIATIONS TO LEMON MERINGUE PIE

  • Crust: Try a chocolate cookie crust, coconut crust, graham crust, nut crust.
  • Filling: Add lemon zest, lime zest, orange zest or shredded coconut.
  • Topping: flavored whipped cream, plain or flavored, instead of whipped cream turns it into a lemon pie.
  • Garnish: If you have candied lemon peel, use it!
  •   

     
      

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    EVENT: Kids Food Fest In NYC, August 26th-27th

    Got kids? Got kids who should learn to eat better—while having fun?

    Take the family to the Kids Food Fest, Saturday and Sunday August 26th and 27th.

    The Kids Food Fest is a celebration to educate families about making balanced food choices—choices everyone needs to create wholesome, lifelong eating habits. (Parents: You, too can learn a lot here.)

    Festivities include hands-on cooking classes in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation, the Balanced Plate Scavenger Hunt, family-friendly entertainment and activities, and more!

    There’s no charge for general admission, although hands-on classes require tickets that can be purchased at the event.

    This Kids Food Fest is held in its most beautiful space yet: Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, known worldwide for its exciting architecture (we personally call it New York’s complement to the Bird’s Nest Stadium built for the Beijing Olympics).

    If you haven’t yet been to the Oculus, you’ll love the soaring bird architecture (photo #1) and the internal beauty of the light-filled, climate-controlled halls (photo #2). [That it cost $3.74 billion dollars might make you want to become more politically active, and insist that proven business people manage government projects.]

    The Oculus is easy to get to: Just take the A, C, J, M, Z, 2, 3, 4 or 5 to Fulton Street (directions).

    You’re also close to these downtown destinations, including The National September 11 Memorial & Museum and 15 other museums.

     

    The Oculus NYC Outside

    The Oculus NYC Inside

    The Kids Food Fest will be inside the Oculus transportation hub in New York City | World Trade Center (photos courtesy Port Authority Of New York & New Jersey).

     
    Kids Food Festival 2017

    The Kids Food Fest is proud to support the American Heart Association and their initiatives to improve kids’ health.
      

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    RECIPES: Potato Salad Reveries

    The summers of our youth meant that on the three holiday weekends—Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day—Mom was going to put out a major spread. You could have held a wedding reception with the diversity and quantity of food she set out.

    Aside from the fruit pies and trays of brownies, what we most looked forward to was her potato salad.

    It was so much better than anybody else’s mother’s, which was more like deli potato salad: potatoes and mayo.

    Not our mom. Gifted with a super-palate and member of a family of competitive (with each other) cooks, her potato salad consisted of:

  • Red jacket potatoes (the most posh of that era)
  • Red onion
  • Small dice of red and green bell peppers (the only colors available then)
  • Fresh parsley and dill
  • A dressing of Hellmann’s mayonnaise mixed with Grey Poupon Dijon mustard and some red wine vinegar
  • We could care less about the steak, chicken, burger or whatever: We just wanted a big plate of potato salad, a big plate of fruit salad (berries, melon balls and stone fruits, presented in a carved out watermelon), glasses of her fruit punch and all those desserts.

    (Alas, these remain our preferences. Keep the steak: Got sugar?)

    Over the years we’ve tried to improve on Mom’s recipe:

  • By adding something new [not all at once]: anchovies (for the right crowd), bacon or ham, capers, chiles, crumbled feta or blue cheese, fancy basil from the farmers market (cinnamon, lemon, licorice, opal, Thai), other herbs (minced chives, fresh thyme), peas (English peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas), sliced olives.
  • By adding newer versions of standard ingredients: homemade or artisan mayonnaise, purple potatoes, orange and purple bell peppers, scallions instead of red onions, vinaigrette with flavored olive oil.
  •  
    And we look for inspiring recipes from other cooks, such as today’s two recipes.

    The first is a rustic Italian potato salad side dish; the second is an elegant first course.

    RECIPE #1: HEALTHIER POTATO SALAD

    This recipe from Ciao Florentina uses a healthier olive oil dressing, veggies, and some additional ingredients that add not just flavor, but charm.

    Fiorentina says this is an Italian-style potato salad recipe, “made with colorful red and purple heirloom potatoes, fresh herbs and spring green peas, then tossed in a lovely light and zesty vinaigrette.”

    “To make a meal of things,” says Fiorentina, “feel free to add some toasted pine nuts or fresh radishes sliced paper thin, like I did. I also sprinkled the entire salad with a handful of green pea shoots in season; [at other times] I’ll go for pretty microgreens.”

    Florentina is an artist as well as a cook: Everything she makes is beautiful to look at. Her recipes are simple, wholesome, and most important, delicious!

       

    Pretty Potato Salad
    [1] Healthy and beautiful potato salad from Ciao Fiorentina.

    Pea Shoots

    [2] Chopped pea shoots (photo Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

    Mixed New Potatoes

    [3] Mixed-color new potatoes (also called creamer potatoes; photo courtesy Poplar Bluff Organics).

     
    Download her free e-cookbooks and subscribe to her “recipe and inspiration” list here.
     
    Ingredients For 4 Side Servings

  • 2 pound colored new potatoes
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cup fresh green peas steamed*
  • 1/4 cup green pea shoots*, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mixed fresh herbs parsley, dill, chives, thyme
  • 1 scallion thinly sliced
  • 5-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
  • 1 cup yellow grape tomatoes halved, optional
  • Optional: 1 radish
  •  
    ________________

    *If fresh peas aren’t in season, substitute frozen peas; substitute microgreens for the pea shoots.

    Preparation

    1. RINSE and cut the potatoes into rustic (thick) slices or wedges. Cover them with cold water and bring to a boil. Season with a good pinch of sea salt and simmer until tender but still al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to dry in their own steam for a few minutes. While the potatoes are cooking…

    2. STEAM the green peas for 3 to 4 minutes until al dente. Meanwhile…

    3. WHISK together the olive oil, lemon juice and most of the herbs in a large bowl. Season to taste with sea salt. Add the potatoes and peas to the bowl with the dressing, and gently toss to coat. Allow the potatoes to sit in the dressing for about 10 minutes to absorb all the flavors.

    4. TASTE and adjust the seasonings to taste with more sea salt. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs, pea shoots and scallions. Optional to sprinkle with some grape tomatoes and radish slices.

     

    Purple Potato & Cucumber Salad
    [4] Potato salad as an elegant first course, from Idaho Potato Commission.

    Blue Peruvian Potatoes

    [5] Blue Peruvian potatoes. Depending on the strain and the soil where grown, they will be purple instead. Note, however, that blue potatoes often cook up the same purple color as purple potatoes (photo courtesy Burpee).

     

    RECIPE #2: LEBANESE BLUE POTATO TABOULI

    This recipe, developed by Chef Giuseppe Tentori of GT Prime and GT Fish & Oyster in Chicago, came to us via the Idaho Potato Commission, is called tabouli.

    Here’s some history for those of us who think of tabouli (tabbouleh) as a salad of cracked wheat, tomatoes, parsley, mint, onions, lemon juice, and olive oil:

    The tabouli cracked wheat salad originated in the Levant, a historical area in the Middle East that included parts of the modern countries of Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey. The term was first used in the 15th century.

    The Levantine Arabic word tabbule is derived from the Arabic word tabil, meaning “seasoning”; or more literally, “dip.” While the word came to define tabbouleh, the cracked wheat salad, Chef Tentori used it to define the small dice of ingredients that comprise his dish.

    At a fine restaurant, it sounds better than “potato salad.” (And technically, potatoes are indigenous to Peru, discovered by Spanish explorers. There were no blue potatoes—or likely other potatoes—in the Levant.)

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 2 pounds Idaho All Blue Potatoes, peeled, small dice
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 ounce extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 English (seedless) cucumbers, chopped fine†
  • Optional: 6 baby cucumbers‡ with blossoms (see photo)
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • Asian mesclun mix, as needed
  • ________________

    †We found that we wanted some seasoning in the cucumbers. We mixed them with fresh dill. You could also toss them with dill seed, garlic powder or the zest of the lemons.

    ‡This is a specialty item available from produce suppliers to chefs. If you can’t find them, use your spiralizer to create a mound of cucumber on top. Alternatively, thinly slice and marinate cucumbers in vinaigrette for an hour or more; then drain to use as a garnish.
     
    Preparation

    1. BRING salted water to a boil in a medium pan. Add the red-wine vinegar and then the diced potatoes. Cook until just al dente. Shock the potatoes in an ice bath. Drain well and pat dry.

    2. COMBINE the potatoes, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in large bowl. Toss gently to combine.

    3. PLACE a 4-inch ring mold in the center of each plate. Pack the potato mixture firmly into each ring mold; reserve the extra vinaigrette in bowl. Spread the chopped cucumber on top. Carefully remove the ring molds. Top the tabouli with a mini cucumber or two.

    4. GARNISH the plate with the feta cheese and Asian greens. Drizzle the greens with the remaining vinaigrette.
     
     
    POTATO LOVERS: Idaho Potato Commission has more potato recipes than the most avid potato lover could make in a year.

      

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