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TIP OF THE DAY: Winter Fruit Substitutes

Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu persimmons can substitute for summer
tomatoes. Top photo by Jirkaejc | IST.
Bottom photo courtesy Good Eggs | San
Francisco.

 

Eating seasonally, a practice that has always existed in culinary meccas like France and Italy (and existed everywhere by default prior to modern transportation and food technology), is an idea that’s been promulgated for some 40 years in the U.S., first by chef and restaurateur Alice Waters. The the “farm-to-table” movement and subsequent awareness of sustainability and carbon miles continue to underscore the need to change the on-demand desires of American consumers.

  • Instead of asparagus in winter, for example, the idea is to substitute seasonally available leeks, broccolini or broccoli rabe.
  • Instead of longing for fruits that aren’t in season, reach for those that are: apples, cactus [prickly] pear, cherimoya, dates, grapefruits, kiwifruit, mandarins (clementines, tangerines and others), papaya, oranges, passion fruit, pears, persimmons, pomegranates.
  •  
    Seek them out not only as hand fruit, but to substitute in recipes for out-of-season fruits.
     
    WINTER SUBSTITUTES FOR SUMMER FRUITS

    Some do better when frozen than others, and fruits, frozen at their peak, are an option. But if you want fresh-to-fresh, here are some good substitutes:

  • Berries: pomegranate arils
  • Cantaloupe: kiwifruit, mango, papaya
  • Cherries: raspberries, dried cherries
  • Honeydew: green grapes, kiwifruit
  • Peaches: mangoes
  • Pineapple: cherimoya
  • Tomatoes: persimmons, radishes, red bell peppers or pimentos*
  • Watermelon: red grapefruit
  •  
    SUBSTITUTE PERSIMMONS FOR TOMATOES

    Perhaps the most missed fruit or vegetable is the fresh tomato, a staple of salads and sandwiches. Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog, residing in the produce capital of America, writes:

    “Even in balmy California, farmers market tables once straining under the weight of plump tomatoes and juicy peaches look comparatively sparse, bearing dusty tubers and hearty greens instead.

    “I’d never dream of making classic tabbouleh† in winter, when only mealy tomatoes shipped halfway across the globe can be found in markets.”

    Her solution: Substitute persimmons for bland imported tomatoes. The recipe is below.

    “It makes perfect sense the moment you taste the persimmons in this light salad” Hannah notes. “Their juicy, meaty texture and natural sweetness are an excellent substitution.” She adds even more seasonal produce to the standard tabbouleh recipe:

    “Pomegranate arils lend tart, crunchy bursts of flavor. And while parsley could be the sole herbaceous element, I felt compelled to toss in those unloved green carrot tops that are all too often discarded, rather than savored as they should be.”

  • You can substitute persimmons for tomatoes in any vegetable salad.
  • You can try them on sandwiches; although we prefer jarred roasted red bell peppers (pimento or pimiento*), sundried tomatoes in olive oil (drained) or plumped in water, or peppadews.
  •  

    RECIPE: WINTER TABBOULEH

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 Fuyu persimmon, peeled, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups carrot tops, minced (or substitute parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
  • Optional: 1/3 cup pomegranate arils
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the bulgur, turmeric and vegetable broth in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover, turn off the heat, and let stand for 15-20 minutes until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile…

     

    Persimmon Tabbouleh

    Eat seasonally: Substitute persimmons for tomatoes in winter salads. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     
    2. PREPARE the fruits and vegetables accordingly, and toss them together in a large bowl. Add the cooled bulgur, followed by the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust flavors according to personal preference.

    3. COVER and chill for at least 2 hours before serving to allow the flavors to marry.
     
     
    WHAT ARE PERSIMMONS?

    In the late 1880s, the first persimmon arrived in the U.S., brought by a naval commander returning to Washington D.C. from Japan.

    Here’s more about persimmons, including how to enjoy them at every meal of the day.
     
     
    *What is a pimento? Also spelled pimiento (a variation of the Portuguese spelling; pimento is Spanish), the pimento is a heart-shaped variety of Capsicum annuum, the same genus and species as the familiar red bell pepper. Its flesh is sweet, succulent, and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper. Pimento is what is used to stuff green olives, and is ground into paprika. The standard pimento measures 3 to 4 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. Some varieties of pimento are actually hot. In the U.S., they are typically sold pickled, as hot cherry peppers. Don’t confuse pimento with pimenta, which we know as allspice and is also called the Jamaica pepper, and myrtle pepper.

    †Classic tabbouleh ingredients are bulgur wheat, parsley, tomato and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Sparkling Wines For Gifting & Drinking

    Brachetto d'Acqui Banfi

    Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui: a wine that says “Be My Valentine.”

     

    If you’ve taken a look at Champagne prices, you’d like a recommendation on which way to go.

    Our recommendation: Steer away from Champagne and look at other sparkling wines. Here are two of our favorite affordable bubblies for Valentine’s Day. Both are crowd pleasers. One is a perfect dessert wine or an apéritif; the other can be enjoyed anytime, with any course.

    Drink them yourself or give them as gifts. As with all sparkling wines, serve them chilled.
     
    BANFI ROSA REGALE BRACHETTO D’ACQUI

    This sweet sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy is a vivid rose red. The color is natural!

    It’s made from the Brachetto df’Acqui grape, which grows in the area of Acqui Terme in rocky, calcareous soil (tough soil makes better wines).

     
    The bouquet is very aromatic, with hints of raspberries, strawberries and rose petals. You’ll taste hints of fresh raspberries, with crisp acidity.

    In addition to dessert—cakes, tarts, ice cream—it pairs well with seafood, cheeses, spicy fare and yes, that box of Valentine chocolate.

    One of our friends calls this wine “love at first sip.” It’s pretty romantic stuff.

    The price: $17-$20 per bottle. The pronunciation: bra-KET-toe d’AH-qwee.

    There’s more on the brand’s web page.
     
    YELLOWTAIL BUBBLES SPARKLING ROSÉ

    A recent Top Pick Of The Week for the holidays, this sparkling wine from Australia makes everything more festive—at just $10-$11 per bottle. It’s not a sweet wine, but crisp and refreshing, so it can be paired with anything.

    The fragrant nose promises cherries and strawberries on the palate. Unlike the deep red of Brachetto d’Acqui, it’s a pale pink color, similar to a rosé Champagne.

    Depending on the retailer and promotion calendar, the bottle may come with a resealable, plastic cap that allows you to seal in the bubbles for the next day. If not, and if you don’t have one, pick up a Champagne resealer. It’s inexpensive, and really does keep that wine sparkling for days.

    And it can be the part of the gift that remains, when the wine is long gone.

    Here’s our full review of the wine.

    And here’s the Yellowtail Bubbles Rosé web page.

     
      

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    TIP: Hot Chocolate From Chocolate Chips & Other Hard Chocolate

    It’s snow and ice today on the East Coast; when we look out the window we see…white. So we’re deferring our scheduled tip to tomorrow, to publish something more comforting:

    Hot chocolate from chocolate chips, chocolate bars, even Hershey’s Kisses.

    Even if you have no cocoa powder at home, you’re still in the chips if you have solid chocolate in any form. Baking chips are the easiest because you don’t have to chop them; although if you have a good chocolate bar—) or Lindt—the chocolate flavor will be better. First…
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COCOA AND HOT CHOCOLATE

    You’re familiar with cocoa and hot chocolate, terms often used interchangeably. Technically, they’re different. There are also drinking chocolate and sipping chocolate—terms that don’t seem to have existed in the U.S. prior to the end of the 20th century (and the growth of the artisan food movement).

  • Cocoa or hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder and is less rich than hot chocolate. That’s because to make cocoa powder, roasted cocoa beans are ground to a thick paste and pressed between hydraulic plates, which squeeze out about half of the cocoa butter. Products made from cocoa powder are erroneously called hot chocolate.
  • Hot chocolate contains all the cocoa butter; and some better brands even add extra cocoa butter for richness and mouthfeel. It was the original hot chocolate, made in Switzerland by blending hot milk with chopped chocolate bars (THANK YOU, Switzerland!). Authentic hot chocolate is made from ground chocolate plus sugar.
  • Drinking chocolate/sipping chocolate are European terms for hot chocolate. The product has relatively large pieces of chocolate—disks or pellets, but also beads, shavings, or large ground pieces—that are then melted in hot milk or water. If you were to eat it, it would taste just like chocolate from a chocolate bar.
  •  
    RECIPE: HOT CHOCOLATE FROM CHOCOLATE CHIPS & BARS

    This is a very rich recipe, combining whole milk with half and half. If you want something less rich, use less half and half or all milk.

    Prep time is 5 minutes, cook time is 15 minutes.

       

    Hot Chocolate From Chocolate Bars

    Chocolate Chips

    Top: Chop up chocolate bars to make rich hot chocolate. Chocolate chipsalso work, especially top-quality ones from Barry Callebaut or Guittard, available at KingArthurFlour.com. The company also sells sugar-free chocolate chips. Bottom: Melt chocolate chips into hot chocolate.

     
    Ingredients For 3-4 Mugs Or 6 Smaller Cups

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bars*
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Optional flavors: cinnamon, mint (extract, Junior Mints), orange zest
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream, chocolate shavings, sprinkles
  •  
    *While semisweet chocolate is the standard, you can use milk chocolate or white chocolate. White hot chocolate is splendid:

     

    Hot Chocolate Made From Solid Chocolate

    Dutched & Natural Cocoa Powder

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the milk and half-and-half in a saucepan. Warm slowly over medium-low heat. When the milk is very hot but not yet boiling, stir in the chocolate chips.

    2. STIR until melted and taste. If it’s too rich, add more milk. If you’ve used a high percentage cacao bar and the chocolate is not quite sweet enough, add sugar one teaspoon at a time.

    3. STIR in optional flavors. Pour into mugs and top as desired.
     
    EVEN MORE HOT CHOCOLATE: RECIPES, FLAVORS & TIPS TO MAKE RICHER HOT CHOCOLATE

  • Everything you need to know.
  • The differences between cocoa and hot chocolate, including more types of, what we’ll categorize as, hot milk drinks flavored with chocolate.
  • The difference between regular and Dutched cocoa powder.
  •  
     
    PHOTOS: Top: Melting a chocolate-covered marshmallow into hot chocolate at Dominique Ansel. Bottom: Natural (left) and Dutched cocoa powders. Photo courtesy SilkRoadSpices.ca.

     

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Sweets We’d Like To Receive

    If you’re on the hunt for Valentine chocolate, you probably don’t have to hunt too hard. Even our drugstore looks like a chocolate shop.

    But here are some yummy items we enjoy, year after year.

    CHOCOLATE CHERRIES FROM CHOCLATIQUE

    Most of us grew up hoping to get the chocolate covered cherry in the box of mixed chocolates. At Choclatique, you can get an entire box of cherries!

    These are not the overly-sweet chocolate cherries of our youth. They are Grade A maraschino cherries that are marinated and then wrapped in a white chocolate-butter ganache. Next, they’re enrobed in premium dark chocolate shells (64% cacao).

    The bonbons are allowed to to cure, so that the ganache centers liquefy. The result is a delicate liquid center with just a touch of white chocolate ganache—and a memorable chocolate cherry.

    The chocolates are all natural and you can pick either a bright red ribbon for Valentine’s Day.

  • 12 Piece Box, $30.00
  • 24 Piece Box, $50.00
  •  
    CHOCOLATE CARAMEL CRISP FROM GARRETT POPCORN

    Garrett Popcorn, known for its high quality popcorn gift tins, has two suggestions for Valenetine’s Day:

  • Lover’s Mix, a combination of Dark Chocolate Covered Caramel Crisp and regular Caramel Crisp. Note to caramel corn lovers: This regular Caramel Crisp is the best caramel corn you can buy, with a “burnt caramel” flavor that’s so much better than the ubiquitous one-dimensional sweet corns out there.
  • Spicy CheeseCorn, for those who prefer spicy to sweet. We’ve also recommended this corn for the Super Bowl. It’s a perfect blend of cheese and spice.
  •  
    Tins start at $39 for a one gallon and $69 for 2 gallons. The one gallon pink tin of Lover’s Mix is $47.

    Order yours at GarrettPopcorn.com.
     
    CLASSIC CHOCOLATES FROM LI-LAC

    Li-Lac Chocolates is one of our favorite munching grounds. This chocolate shop specializes in old-fashioned chocolates of top quality—the kind it’s become hard to find.

    Take a look at the choices at Li-LacChocolates.com.

       
    Chocolate Covered Cherries

    Chocolate Caramel Popcorn

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pink striped popcorn tin 230

    Top: Gourmet chocolate cherries from Choclatique. Middle and bottom: Lover’s Mix and the Valentine tin from Garrett Popcorn.

     
    Whether a mixed box of chocolates or an entire box of our favorite chocolate-covered marzipan rolls, we hope our Valentine reads this message. (Please send both!)

    The chocolates are certified kosher.
     
    For those looking for kosher chocolate, LakeChamplainChocolates.com is another favorite chocolatier. Let us emphasize that, kosher or not, these to companies make excellent chocolates.
     
    MORE FAVORITE CHOCOLATES

    We’re happy with anything from John & Kira’s or Burdick Chocolate, two of America’s great artisan chocolatiers.

     

    Gimbal's Chocolate Cherry Chews

    Cherry Chews from Gimbal’s are available in
    several sizes, and are very affordable if you
    like to give something to many friends.

     

    CHERRY CHEWS FROM GIMBAL’S

    For something fun, affordable and not chocolate, try Gimbal’s Cherry Chews. They’re all natural and made with real cherry juice. They were created to have a cherry shape, but as you can see in the photo, they also resemble Valentine hearts.

    And they also double as celebratory sweets for George Washington’s Birthday.

    Bags in several sizes start at $1.39 to give out to friends and colleagues. A 38-ounce jar is just $13.99.

    Get them at GimbalsCandy.com.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Bibimbap, A Korean Classic For The Lunar New Year

    We love bibimbap (bee-bim-BOP), a signature Korean dish. It’s a variation of our currently trending rice bowl. The word literally means “mixed rice”—rice mixed with several other ingredients.

    We’ve written about bibimbap previously, but for the eve of the lunar new year (this year, it’s Sunday, February 7th), it’s especially appropriate. It’s what Koreans traditionally eat on their new year’s eve.

    It also happens to be Super Bowl Sunday; if your friends are foodies, this is a good dish for a crowd.
     
    WHAT IS BIBIMBAP?

    A bowl of warm white rice is topped with seasoned vegetables*; sliced beef, chicken or seafood; and a raw or fried egg. The yolk of the egg (or the entire raw egg) binds the ingredients when they are mixed together.

    Chile paste, fermented soybean paste or soy sauce are served as condiments. After the ingredients are blended each individual diner, condiments added at the table.

    For visual appeal, the vegetables are often placed so that adjacent colors complement each other.

    The recipe below, from Good Eggs, requires 15 minutes of active time, and a total of 35 minutes. It doesn’t require you to be handy with a knife: Instead of thin slices of beef, you use ground beef.

    If you like bibimbap as much as we do, you can experiment with other grains. Quinoa bibimbap with kale, anyone?

    RECIPE: BIBIMBAP RICE BOWL

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 2 cups of sushi rice
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons of mirin (rice wine†)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce, plus a little more for seasoning
  • 1 cup kimchi
  • 4 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch radishes, shaved thinly
  • 1 bunch of scallions, both green and white portions, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Raw or fried egg for each serving
  • Optional: other vegetables as desired
  •    

    Bibimbap

    Bibimbap

    Top: Bibimbap served with a raw egg at Kristalbelli | NYC. Bottom photo: The ingredients mixed together. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

  • Optional: chili paste/red pepper paste (gochujang), sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds
  • ____________________________________
    *Commonly vegetables used include bean sprouts, julienned cucumber, julienned or shredded daikon (Japanese radish), julienned zucchini, nori (dried seaweed), shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms or whole enoki mushrooms, and spinach. Diced tofu, either uncooked or cooked, can be added.

    †Mirin and saké are both called “rice wine.” Both are fermented from rice; mirin has a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content (as an analogy, thing of sweet and dry vermouths. If you have saké but no mirin, make a substitute by adding a half teaspoon of sugar to the saké, and warm it slowly to dissolve the sugar.

     

    Bibimbap

    Dolsot bibimbap, bibimbap served in a very
    hot stone bowl (our favorite way to enjoy
    bibimbap at restaurants). Photo courtesy
    Souschef.co.uk.

     

    Preparation

    1. RINSE the rice a few times in a fine mesh sieve until the water runs clear. Add the rice to a pot and cover with water. Let it soak for 20 minutes, then strain it again. Add the rice back to the pot and add 3 cups of water. Bring the rice and water to a boil, uncovered. When the water reaches a rolling boil…

    2. TURN the flame to low, cover the pot and let the rice simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off and let it steam for 10 minutes with the cover on. After 10 minutes, fluff the rice with a fork: It’s ready. While the rice cooks

    3. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the meat and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Turn the heat down and add the soy sauce and mirin, and stir. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, until the meat is cooked through. Remove from the heat.

    4. SERVE: Spoon some rice into a bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds, a splash of mirin and a little bit of soy sauce. Top with beef, cilantro, scallions, radishes, cilantro and a spoonful of kimchi.

     

    BIBIMBAP HISTORY

    Bibimbap was traditionally eaten on the eve of the lunar new year, to enable households to use up all of their leftovers before the start of the new year. All of the leftovers were put in a bowl of rice and mixed together.

    Use up your leftovers, or buy fresh ingredients. Or plan a party: Like paella and other rice main dishes, bibimbap is a good dish for a crowd.

    Of course, bibimbap can be made from scratch with chosen ingredients. Each region and each cook has a preferred mix of ingredients.

    At Korean restaurants you can get dolsot bibimbap (stone pot bibimbap), served in a stone bowl so hot that the ingredients sizzle. The raw egg cooks as soon as it’s mixed in.

    Before the rice is placed in the bowl, the bottom can be coated with sesame oil, which makes the bottom of the rice cook to a crispy state, like the soccorat at the bottom of the paella pan.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Football Fries (French Fry Footballs)

    If you have kids and like to make special treats for them, head to HungryHappenings.com and sign up for the emails. Even if you don’t make them, you’ll enjoy the creative ideas.

    Here’s one that adults can enjoy, too: French fries shaped like footballs. The Football Fries recipe is on the Hungry Happenings website.

    If you don’t want to be frying or reheating during the game, these recipes can be made in advance:

  • Chocolate Caramel Fudge Footballs (recipe)
  • Microwave Football Caramels (recipe)
  • Super Bowl Popcorn With Chocolate Football Almonds (recipe)
  •  
    And don’t forget the Football Calzone.

     

    Football Fries

    Football fries for the big game. Photo courtesy HungryHappenings.com.

     

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Low Calorie & No Calorie Gifts

    Keurig Pantone Red Brewer

    Rick's Picks Assortment

    Top: The Keurig 2.0 H200, which makes single cups as well as carafes. Bottom: Rick’s Picks: Great flavor, few calories.

     

    As you eye the sea of Valentine chocolates, what can you get for loved ones who can’t have (or don’t care for) chocolate?

    Some people don’t want the calories, others can’t have the caffeine or the sugar, and rarely, a few are allergic to chocolate.

    For those who avoid caffeine and chocolate, there are scrumptious macarons, artisan (“gourmet”) marshmallows, creamy fudge, fine red licorice and other confections. But they’re still packed with sugar.

    But what if you need to avoid the sugar entirely?

    There’s sugar-free candy, but it’s pretty unexciting. Here are what we’d like to get for Valentine’s Day.
     
    FOR COFFEE LOVERS: KEURIG 2.0 K200 SINGLE CUP BREWER

    This new model comes in seven colors, including red for your Valentine. It not only brews a single cup, but a 4-cup carafe, with a single touch.

    There’s a separate setting for specialty beverages such as chai, hot cocoa and mochas. And with more than 500 varieties of coffee, tea, specialty beverages and iced beverages, your Valentine has lots of choices.

    The carafe is sold separately; you can also add a Valentine mug (something with hearts?) to express your affection.

    Get yours at Keurig.com. The list price is $109.99.

    If you don’t want to spend that much, head to the nearest housewares department and get a red water bottle or red implements—spatulas, slotted spoons, etc.—to fill a Valentine mug.

     
    FOR PICKLE LOVERS: RICK’S PICKS PICKLE CLUB

    Good pickles are on our list of yummy foods with few calories.

    One of America’s great pickle makers offers a club that delivers four varieties, four times a year. The club is $ 199.95, including shipping.

    There’s also a Top-Seller Pack, $ 48.95, and a Rick’s Picks Sampler for $64.95.

    Order yours at RicksPicks.com.

    For a less expensive gift, head to your nearest fine market or specialty food store, pick up a single jar of Rick’s Picks, and tie a red ribbon around the neck.
     
    NOT INTO PICKLES? TRY STRAWBERRIES

    If your Valentine prefers sweet to tangy, consider Edible Arrangements or create your own strawberry basket. Look for the biggest, freshest strawberries, find a lovely small basket, and don’t forget the red bow!

     

    FOR SODA DRINKERS: SODASTREAM SPLASH PLAY

    There are red SodaStream machines that make calorie-free sodas and flavored waters. The brand has recently released a new machine, the Sodastream Splash Play, designed by Yves Béhar, a Swiss designer and sustainability expert.

    It carbonates water with touch button activation as well as quick snap-lock bottle insertion. It requires no electricity. It has a small footprint.

    Not only is it fun; it saves you from hauling home bottles of soda, and from tossing the empties into the landfill.

    For calorie counters and water enthusiasts, SodaStream also has a new line of waters, made with all natural sweeteners and colors, called Sparkling Gourmet. It has chef-inspired flavors, including Green Apple Cucumber, Blackcurrant Lime, Coriander Apple Blossom, and Lime Basil. All with 45 calories per 8-ounce serving.

     

    Sodastream Play

    Give a Sodastream in Valentine Red.

     
    There are also calorie-free flavored water options, and plenty of diet sodas.

    AND, if you own a Sodastream, you know that there are two different sizes of carbon dioxide tanks for different models, and they aren’t interchangeable. The Splash Play can use either of them! Bravo, Sodastream.

    Get yours at Sodastream.com. It’s $79.99.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Really Good Chinese Egg Rolls

    Egg Rolls

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/egg rolls redstixs 230r

    Top: Egg rolls with BBQ pork and sweet and
    hot chili dipping sauce, from the National
    Pork Board. They’re baked, not fried (recipe).
    Bottom: Egg rolls from Red Stix | NYC, served
    with a mix of rice vinegar and soy sauce.

     

    For the Chinese New Year, why not make your own egg rolls? Serve them as an appetizer, or as a snack with a cold beer.

    EGG ROLL HISTORY

    Like Chinese chicken salad, crab wontons, duck sauce, fortune cookies, General Tso’s chicken and sweet and sour pork—not to mention the pu pu platter—the egg roll is a Chinese-American invention. Food historians believe it was first created in New York City in the early 1930s.

    But over time, what was initially a richly layered roll with a mix of bamboo shoots, roast pork, scallions, shrimp and water chestnuts evolved into a bland cabbage roll—a stuffing of shredded cabbage, flecked with bits of pork and carrot. [Source]

    If you’d like to go back to the golden age of egg rolls, make your own! If you don’t like to deep fat fry, you can bake them.

    This recipe came to us via Melissas.com, from Chef Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook.
     
    RECIPE: CHEF MARTIN YAN’S EGG ROLLS

    Ingredients For 12 Pieces

  • 12 egg roll wrappers
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • ¾ pound ground pork, chicken or beef
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 12 ounces green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 medium carrot, finely shredded
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Cooking oil for frying
  •  
    Don’t forget the condiments: hot mustard, jalapeño pepper jelly, plum sauce, ponzu sauce, sweet and sour sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce (sweet and hot) or just plain soy sauce. We like to serve two different options: Colman’s prepared mustard (a better version of “Chinese mustard”) and Thai sweet chili sauce (you can buy it or make your own).
     
    OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

    You can add just about anything to an egg roll, as long as it’s finely chopped and well drained (don’t add moisture).

  • There are fusion egg rolls that include pastrami (a Reuben egg roll) and corned beef and cabbage egg roll.
  • The menu at Rhode Island’s Egg Roll Cafe features the classic egg roll plus these flavors: Bacon-Egg-Cheese, Cheeseburger, Crab Rangoon, Fajita, Ham-Egg-Cheese, Pizza, Shrimp, Spinach & Feta, Steak & Cheese and Taco, among others.
  • Check out this recipe, featured in the Merced [California] Sun Star, which includes classic ingredients plus peanut butter and cinnamon. The creator, Fanny Go, was born and raised in Southern China (where there are no egg rolls) and now lives in Chicago.

    In addition to her basic recipe, she suggests these optional extras which you can incorporate into Chef Yan’s recipe:

  • ½ cup boiled shrimp, cut into dime-size pieces
  • ½ cup shiitake mushrooms, soaked, squeezed and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup well-drained bamboo shoots, julienned
  • ¼ cup water chestnuts, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup bean sprouts, well drained
  • Editor’s choice: Chinese sausage (if you can get hold of it)
  •  
    Once you get the hang of it, you can experiment with your favorite fillings, from vegetarian to Swiss cheese—or anything that goes well with beer or wine.

    Back to Chef Yan’s recipe:

     

    Preparation

    1. HEAT a wok or stir-fry pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides of the pan. Add the pork, ginger and garlic; stir-fry until meat is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Drain the excess oil.

    2. COMBINE the pork, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil in a medium bowl. Set aside for 30 minutes.

    3. COMBINE the cabbage, carrot and green onions in a large bowl. Add the meat mixture; toss well and let it cool slightly.

    4. FILL the rolls: Place a wrapper on a clean flat surface in front of you so that it looks like a diamond. Place 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Fold the bottom point up over the filling and roll once. Fold in the right and left points. Brush the beaten egg on the top point. Continue rolling until you have a tight cylinder. Place the filled rolls on a baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth while filling remaining rolls.

    5. FRY: Heat 2-3 inches of cooking oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or wok, to 350°F. Add the egg rolls, a few at a time, and fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

    Serve with sweet and sour sauce, plum sauce, hot mustard or jalapeño pepper jelly.

    Recipe copyright Yan Can Cook, Inc., 2014
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EGG ROLLS, SPRING ROLLS & SUMMER ROLLS

    It can be very confusing, but we’ve done our best here to explain the differences.

    While some countries, including China, serve fried egg rolls and spring rolls, the terms are not synonymous. An egg roll has a heavier pastry wrapper of wheat dough that contains eggs—hence the name. The cooked roll can be sliced into sections. Spring roll wrappers are made without egg. A fried spring roll is very fragile and can shatter like phyllo.

  • Egg rolls are deep fried. The wrappers are thicker, making egg rolls more of a filled pastry. They can have a vegetable, egg, meat and/or seafood filling. The filling varies by chef, and can include chopped shrimp, ground beef, ground chicken or turkey, matchstick-sliced pork or Chinese sausage, minced cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger and mushrooms.
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    Egg Rolls

    Spring Rolls

    Top: Chef Martin Yan’s egg rolls, served with sweet and sour sauce. Photo courtesy Melissas.com | Yan Can Cook. Bottom: Translucent rice paper enables spring and summer rolls to show off the ingredients inside. Photo courtesy Nature Box.

     

  • Spring rolls can be fried or not. The fried versions use thinner wheat wrappers and are narrower and more finger-like. They can be filled with pork and/or shrimp. Spring rolls can also be served in an uncooked rice noodle wrapper. These are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival in China, hence the name; and are also popular in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Thee rice noodle wrappers are moistened into pliancy and translucency, then filled with seafood, bean thread vermicelli, red lettuce or Boston lettuce leaves, shredded cabbage and carrot, plus wonderfully refreshing herbs—fresh mint, basil and cilantro leaves. They are served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
  • Summer rolls are made in the style of spring rolls, but with more seasonal ingredients. They are always in a rice noodle wrapper and never fried. The ingredients can be cooked, raw or a mixture, and the colors and shapes show through the translucent wrapper. Ingredients typically include pork and/or shrimp or vegetables, rice vermicelli (noodles) and fresh herbs (basil, cilantro and mint). The dipping sauce for summer rolls is typically a blend of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce or tamari, with minced scallions and a splash of toasted sesame oil.
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    The dipping sauces for the different rolls can be mixed and matched. Our favorites include peanut sauce, a blend of peanut butter and hoisin sauce with garlic; sweet and hot red chili sauce; and rice vinegar/soy sauce.
     
    The way to best learn the differences, of course, is to go out and eat them, or make them at home. But note that even restaurants and retail establishments can abel these different rolls incorrectly.

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Chocolate Stout, Sriracha Stout & Moonstruck Beer Chocolates

    Rogue Chocolate Stout

    Special chocolate craft brews for your
    Valentine. Photo courtesy Rogue Ales.

     

    Here’s what to get a beer-loving Valentine: two stouts created specifically for the occasion and some hot stuff.

  • Rogue Chocolate Stout, with a special Valentine-red label on a 750 ml bottle, is Rogue’s platinum award-winning Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout (one of the highest rated stouts in the world), infused with Dutch chocolate.
  • Rogue Double Chocolate Stout is an amplification of its Chocolate Stout, with big, rich flavors of chocolate, rolled oats, and honey. The 750ml bright red bottle is only available through the end of February.
  • Sriracha Hot Stout. If your Valentine prefers heat to chocolate, look for Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout. The only beer officially sanctioned by Huy Fong Foods (makers of the original Sriracha “Rooster” Hot Sauce) the heat is back for a limited time. Ebony-hued, with rich notes of caramelized malts and warm, slow burn on the finish, it’s also in a bright red bottle.
  • Special Stout Glass. To enhance the stout experience, Rogue collaborated with Spiegelau to create a special stout glass. Expertly crafted, it was designed to accentuate the roasted malt and rich coffee and chocolate notes of Rogue stouts.
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    There’s more information at Rogue.com.

     

    CHOCOLATE BEER TRUFFLES

    Oregon’s Moonstruck Chocolate collaborated with top Oregon craft brewers to develop a superb beer truffle collection.

    The chocolate truffles are rich, nutty sweet, dark and intense, and fresh and hoppy, depending on the beer. Each 12-pack collection features three each of:

  • Deschutes Brewery Black Butte Porter Truffle
  • Full Sail Brewing Co. IPA Truffle
  • Rogue Ales Hazelnut Brown Nectar Truffle
  • Widmer Brother’s Brewing Hefeweizen Truffle
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    Get yours at MoonstruckChocolate.com.

     

    Beer Truffles

    Beer truffles from Moonstruck Chocolate. Yes, they’re shaped like corks.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Stack Cake Party

    Stack Cake

    Stack Cake

    Stack Cake

    Top: Strawberry Jam Stack Cake from Sweet Auburn Desserts, photo by Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn. Here’s the recipe. Middle photo from TheSimpleElements.com. Here’s the recipe. Bottom photo from Maman Bakery Cafe | NYC.

     

    Do you have plans for Valentine’s Day? If you have nothing going on, why not round up a group of friends and neighbors and have a stack cake party?

    What’s a stack cake?

    STACK CAKE HISTORY

    Stack cake is an old-fashioned concept from the Southern Appalachian Mountains. It originated as a wedding cake alternative in that economically-challenged region.

    Each guest or family would bring a layer for the cake, and the bride’s family would provide the filling. The layers would be assembled at the party.

    The result: a rustic layer cake with no icing but lots of heart.

    Beyond weddings, stack cake parties were another way for people to get together to exchange recipes and gossip.

    Many types of cake layers could be brought, from sponge-like layers to cookie-like layers. In order stop the typical seven or eight layers from toppling over, each layer was sometimes pressed very flat.

    These days, another un-iced cake, called naked cake, is enjoying its moment. Unlike stack cake, the whole naked cake is made by one person, in one flavor. The sides of the cake aren’t iced, although the top usually is.

    Rather than an economical way to assemble a cake, naked cake economizes on calories and labor, by not frosting the sides.

    YOUR STACK CAKE PARTY

    You never knew exactly how the layers would add up. Even if you told everyone to bring an eight-inch layer of yellow cake or chocolate cake…well, what are the odds that they’d match, even if you provided a recipe?

    Besides, isn’t it more fun if to have a pot luck cake with different layers: carrot, chocolate, devil’s food, gingerbread, red velvet, vanilla and, well, we’d like a layer with big chocolate chunks?

    All you have to do is:

  • Tell everyone what size to make their layer cake (eight inches is standard).
  • You can cap the layers at four or five, or make two cakes.
  • You can assign flavors, or let the universe decide what you get.
  • You provide the filling and some icing to decorate the top.
  • Or you can delegate those, too, and just focus on the beverages.
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