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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Ways To Use Chiles

ChilesNogada_poblano-pomwonderful-230r

Grilled chiles can be served plain, or in this
Chiles Nogada (walnut sauce) recipe from
Pom Wonderful. Photo courtesy Pom
Wonderful.

 

In addition to shrimp on the barbie, how about some chiles?

Here are 5 tips for using chiles from Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill:

  • Jalapeño Chiles. Jalapeños are found in practically every market but vary widely in their heat range. Usually the bigger the chile, the milder the flavor. Store fresh jalapeños in a loosely closed plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator.
  • Poblano Chiles. Poblanos and large jalapeños taste great when grilled or roasted. Set them over a gas flame, under a broiler or on the grill. Roast, turning often, until the skin is blistered and blackened—about 10 minutes. Cool, covered with a cloth towel. Gently slip off and discard the charred skin. Use the whole chile for chiles rellenos; cut them into thin slices to add to soups, salads and stews; or finely chop and add them to salsa.
  • Habanero Chiles. Stock up on fresh habaneros now at local farmers markets. Simply put them into freezer containers; they’ll keep nicely for several months. Or roast the habaneros and grind them in a blender with fresh lime juice and salt into a thick salsa. Serve this blazing hot condiment with eggs, roast or grilled pork and seafood.
  •  

  • Dried Chiles. Whether you purchase them dried or dry them yourself, dried chiles will keep in the freezer for a year or so; then they can be turned into a seasoning paste. Defrost, remove the seeds and stems and tear the flesh into flat pieces. Gently toast the pieces in a hot cast-iron skillet just until aromatic (a few seconds). Then soak in hot water until soft and purée in a blender until smooth. Use this chile paste to season sauces, salsas and stews.
  • Chipotles In Adobo. You’ll find these canned in supermarkets and elsewhere. After opening the can, transfer the contents to a glass jar and store in fridge; the chiles will keep several months. Use the spicy adobo sauce to season barbecue sauce, stews and chili.
  •  
    HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHILES HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out the types of chiles in our Chile Glossary.

     

    chiles-grilling-basket-weber-amz-230

    A grilling basket is very handy for grilling chiles (above, habaneros and jalapeños) and other vegetables. Photo courtesy Weber.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Whiskey Sour Day

    Old Fashioned

    Whiskey Sour. Photo by Lognetic | Fotolia.

     

    August 25th is National Whiskey Sour Day. We’ll drink to that!

    The Whiskey Sour is one of the most famous of the classic cocktails, one that survived Prohibition, which saw the fall into obscurity of many other classics of the time (Satan’s Whiskers, anyone). Those that survived include the Manhattan, Planter’s Punch, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Tom Collins, etc).

    The “sour” refers to lemon juice, which is added with sugar to create the drink. Whiskey is a generic term, referring to any spirit, or alcoholic distillate, made from a fermented mash of grain or malt and aged in barrels (the brown color comes from barrel aging).

    Thus, requesting a “Whiskey Sour” enables the bartender to use any whiskey. If you want something specific, say so: a Bourbon Sour, Scotch Sour, etc.

    There are numerous types of whiskey—American (Bourbon, corn, Tennessee, rye), Canadian, Irish, Scotch and others. Each is distinguished by the type of grain (barley, corn, rye) used in the fermentation process, as well as the distinct distillation and aging process. Each nation has its own rules and regulations about what constitutes a true whiskey. Regardless of the variety or country of origin, a general rule of thumb is that all straight whiskeys must be aged at least two years in wood, generally oak.

     

    The whiskey sour recipe was first published in 1862 in the seminal mixologists’ guide, Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks (still in print!). However, most cocktail recipes, including the sour, existed long before this time—some dating as far back as the 1700s.

    RECIPE: CLASSIC WHISKEY SOUR

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Bourbon
  • .75 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • .75 ounce simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Garnish: Maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN into an ice-filled rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

     

    As easy as this is, most bartenders use a commercial sour mix, which often means either reconstituted lemon juice. You can taste the difference, and it isn’t good. Since you’re not turning out hundreds of drinks a day, don’t try to save time: Use fresh squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup.
     
    Variations

  • Egg white. An egg white gives cocktails a creamier consistency. You can use a whole egg white per drink, or a portion of one. The technique: Shake the cocktail before adding the ice.
  • Less sweet. Cut back on the simple syrup for a less sweet cocktail. As a side benefit, the flavor of the whiskey becomes more prominent. (Sugar was originally added to cocktails to counter the medicinal flavor of the whiskey.)
  • More sweet. While it isn’t classic, add some of the maraschino cherry juice to the cocktail. Note though, that cheaper maraschino cherries are often sitting in high fructose corn syrup. Use a quality brand like Tillen Farms, in pure sugar syrup. They make great stocking stuffers for your favorite mixologists.
  •  

    tillen-farm-cherries-230

    Maraschino and bing cherries are made with pure cane sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. Photo courtesy Tillen Farms.

     

  • Bitters. While a traditional whiskey sour is made without bitters, an alcoholic preparation flavored with botanical matter for a bitter or bittersweet effect. You can add a dash or two of bitters to add complexity. There are so many types of bitters available these days; the recipe below uses chocolate bitters.
  • Switch the liquor. Consider a Pisco Sour, Sidecar (Cognac and orange liqueur) or Margarita (tequila and orange liqueur), for example. Anything with sugar and lemon or lime juice can be considered a sour.
  •  
    There are simple recipes—whiskey and sour mix—plus complex versions, like the Maple Sour below, created for Basil Hayden’s Bourbon by Jason Stevens, bar manager at Congress Austin.

    RECIPE: MAPLE BOURBON SOUR

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1½ parts bourbon
  • ¾ parts tawny port
  • ¼ part Grade B maple syrup
  • ½ part lemon juice
  • 1 heavy dash Bittermen’s Molé Bitters (or other chocolate bitters)
  • Garnish: lemon wheel and maraschino cherry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds and double strain into a double Old Fashioned glass with ice.

    2. GARNISH with a lemon wheel and a maraschino cherry.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Nonni’s Biscotti Bites

    biscotti-bites-3-bags-230

    We want many bites! Photo by Elvira Kalviste
    | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The history of Nonni’s Biscotti begins in the little town of Lucca, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany. There, among meandering cobblestone lanes and venerable piazzas, one particular Nonni (an endearing term for Grandma) made biscotti for her family and friends.

    When Nonni moved to America almost a century ago, she continued baking the family biscotti to acclaim. One day, her children decided to take the recipe to the bank, creating the Nonni’s brand—now the number one brand of biscotti in the U.S.

    In the modern manifestation of the American Dream, the company was sold to a private equity investment firm several years ago.

    Since then, the original classic biscotti have been joined by two line extensions:

  • Nonni’s ThinAddictives, a melba toast-thin alternative to dense biscotti, introduced last year.
  • Biscotti Bites, smaller size biscotti.
  •  
    In Tuscany these biscotti are called cantucci di Prato—cantucci (con-TOO-chee) for short. They were originally baked with almonds from the plentiful almond groves of Prato, a town in Tuscany.

     
    A cantuccio (plural: cantucci) is a hard almond biscuit. The name cantucci means “little stones,” the stones referring to the almonds.

    We are very keen on the Biscotti Bites, and appreciate that the smaller size gives us a great biscotti experience with fewer carbs. Each is a two-bite treat; the suggested serving size, five pieces, is 120 calories. But two or three pieces is more than enough, and one can suffice.

    The varieties include:

  • Almond Dark Chocolate Biscotti Bites, an almond biscotti with the bottom edge dipped in dark chocolate. Classic deliciousness!
  • Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Biscotti Bites, our favorite, a chocolate biscotto with a chocolate dip; bits of salted caramel are mixed into the dough.
  • Very Berry Almond Biscotti Bites combines dried cranberries and almonds; it is dipped in a vanilla yogurt coating.
  •  

    Rich in flavor, crunchy in texture, Biscotti Bites are the perfect coffee break snack. We relish them:

  • With coffee or tea.
  • With ice cream.
  • As a chocolate fondue dipper: Dip into a shallow pot or bowl of chocolate fondue (you can’t easily spear the biscotti on a long fondue fork).
  • As dessert bruschetta, spreading the tops of the biscotti with mascarpone.
  •  
    The Italian dessert tradition of dipping biscotti and a glass of vin santo—a sweet late-harvest wine—doesn’t really work here. Plain biscotti are typically dipped into the wine, which softens the biscotto and adds the sweetness of the wine.

    Biscotti Bites are too short to dip, and the chocolate or yogurt coating kind of interferes with the honey notes of the wine. But the work-around is: Don’t try to dip; sip and bite, alternatively.

    The shiny, perky bags are just waiting for you to make someone happy. Bring to a friend’s house, to teachers, to hairdressers and anyone who deserves some tasty crunch.

     

    tea-cup-biscotti-bag-230

    Our new favorite snack with tea or coffee. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by United States K.

    There’s a store locator on the website, or you can buy them online:

  • Almond Dark Chocolate Biscotti Bites
  • Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Biscotti Bites
  • Very Berry Almond Biscotti Bites
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Crescent Dogs On A Stick

    crescent-dogs-2-230

    Crescent Rolls + Hot Dogs + Crescent Dogs. Photo and recipe courtesy Pillsbury.

     

    You don’t need a grill to cook memorable Labor Day fare. Make that classic fun food, Crescent Dog on a Stick, in your oven.

    A hot dog wrapped in a cheese and a Pillsbury Crescent roll, the stick is actually optional (as is the cheese). You can layer other flavor bursts inside the crescent, such as pickle relish or chopped jalapeños.

    The recipe is easy and the experience will be remembered happily for a long time. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.

    RECIPE: CRESCENT DOGS ON A STICK

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 8 hot dogs
  • 4 slices (3/4 oz each) American, Swiss or other cheese slice, each cut into 6 strips
  • 1 can (8 ounces) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 8 wooden corn dog sticks
  • Condiments of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. Slit hot dogs to within 1/2 inch of ends; insert 3 strips of cheese into each slit.

    2. SEPARATE the dough into triangles. Wrap a dough triangle around each hot dog. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, cheese side up.

    3. BAKE at 375°F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Insert 1 stick in each crescent dog and serve.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: The Easiest Peach Pie Is A Galette

    It’s National Peach Pie Day, peaches are in season and there’s no reason not to make a luscious peach pie. It’s just fresh peaches and a bit of sugar in an easy, handmade crust.

    If you’re not a natural pie baker, there’s a simple way to do it that requires absolutely no skill in rolling a crust. It’s a galette, also called a rustic pie or rustic tart.

    Galette (gah-LET) is a term with multiple meanings, depending on the category of food. In the pastry world, a galette is a rustic, round, open-face fruit pie. It is flat, with a flaky, turned-up crust that wraps around the filling to creates a “bowl.” It hails from the days before people had pie plates

    RECIPE: GALETTE AUX PÊCHES, RUSTIC PEACH PIE

    Ingredients

  • 4 ripe peaches,* sliced into eighths
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (you can use less, especially if the peaches are very sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Optional: 1 cup blueberries (see this variation from
    McCormick.com—see photo below)
  • Pâte sucrée (sweet pastry dough—recipe below)
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  •    

    peach_galette_2_froghollowfarm-230

    A peach galette. If you don’t want to bake, you can order this one, or send it as a gift, from Frog Hollow Farm. Photo courtesy Frog Hollow Farm.

  • Optional garnish: crème fraîche, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
  •  
    *You may end up needing more peaches, depending on their size. So you may want to have a few extras on hand, or fill in with blueberries.
     

    Galette Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge, discard the plastic wrap and place the dough between two pieces of parchment or wax paper (or you can just use a floured surface).

    2. ROLL out the dough into a 13″ circle. Do not force or stretch the dough.

    3. TRANSFER the dough to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. (The dough can be made in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.)

    4. TOSS the peach slices gently with the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Arrange them in concentric circles atop the crust, leaving an edge of 2 inches. Fold over the edge of the dough up, one fold at a time (you should have five folds). Press on the corners to seal the tart.

    5. BRUSH the beaten egg white on the 2″ dough border. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool slightly before serving if you want a warm pie. It’s also delicious at room temperature or straight from the fridge.

     

    blueberry-peach-galette-mccormick-230

    Peach galette with blueberries. Photo
    courtesy McCormick.

     

    RECIPE: PÂTE SUCRÉE, SWEET PASTRY DOUGH

    Pronounce this dough pot soo-CRAY. It’s the buttery crust used for tarts.

    The dough can be made up to two days in advance.

    Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
  •  
    Crust Preparation

    1. PULSE the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the chilled butter cubes, continuing to pulse until the mixture looks crumbly and there all pieces of butter are about the size of a pea. Gradually pulse in the cold water until the mixture still looks crumbly, but holds together when pinched.

    2. MOVE the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, cover with another piece of plastic wrap and firmly press into a disk. Place the dough in the fridge and chill for an hour or longer.

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F and follow the instructions for Galette Preparation, above.

      

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Grapes With Burrata

    Here’s something we’d never have thought of, and we’re grateful to the folks at GQ for sending us the recipe.

    It’s a showstopping appetizer or cheese course that takes literally one minute to cook: red grapes with burrata cheese. Developed by chef Jeff Mahin, the dish has become a staple at his Stella Barra Pizzerias in L.A. and Chicago.

    “While using gas or charcoal to make it is fine, I prefer a screaming-hot wood grill,” says Jeff. “Just remember that when cooking with wood, you want to cook over glowing ruby red coals rather than the flame itself. Cooking directly over an open flame can impart a sour and soot-like flavor, which is never a good thing.”

    Note that since grapes will invariably fall off the bunch while you’re grilling them, a vegetable grilling basket will come in handy.

    RECIPE: GRILLED GRAPES WITH BURRATA

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound bunch seedless red grapes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 balls burrata cheese
  • Sea salt and olive oil
  • Rustic bread
  •  

    grilled-grapes-Peden+Munk-GQ-230r

    So simple, and unbelievably delicious. Photo courtesy GQ Magazine.

     

    Preparation

    1. WASH the bunch of grapes carefully under cold water and allow them to dry.

    2. WHISK together in a bowl: olive oil, 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, chile flakes, garlic cloves. Add grapes and toss until coated. Let sit for at least 10 minutes.

    3. PLACE bunch of grapes onto the center of a hot grill, using tongs. Grill for 30 seconds. Turn. Grill for another 30 seconds.

    4. RETURN grapes to marinade to cool for at least 10 minutes, coating them periodically.

    5. CUT grapes into small bunches. Plate. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar. Serve with grilled bread and a half ball of burrata (or fresh mozzarella) seasoned with sea salt and olive oil.

    Find more delicious recipes in the GQ Grill Guide.
     
    ABOUT BURRATA CHEESE

    Somewhere around 1920 in the town of Andria in the Puglia region of southern Italy, a member of the Bianchini family figured out how to repurpose the curds from mozzarella making. Burrata was born, a ball of mozzarella filled with creamy, ricotta-like curds. Cut into the ball and the curds ooze out: a wonderful marriage of flavors and textures.

    Their burrata was premium priced, made in small amounts, and remained the delight of the locals for some thirty years.

    In the 1950s, some of the local cheese factories began to produce burrata, and more people discovered its charms. Only in recent years, thanks to more economical overnighting of refrigerated products, did we find it in New York City’s finest cheese shops.

    It was love at first bite…and enough Americans thought so that burrata is now made domestically. You can find it at Trader Joe’s.

    For dessert, here’s a delicious burrata and fresh fruit recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Party With Veggie Sandwiches

    philly-cheesesteak-portabella-230rl

    Pile grilled veggies onto a sandwich. Photo
    courtesy Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

     

    Why wait for Meatless Mondays to have a great veggie sandwich? Every healthcare professional advises eating less animal protein and more vegetables and grains. And of course, eating less meat is far better for the environment.

    So start by switching some of your sandwich intake to delicious vegetarian sandwiches. It’s painless!

    While we love a sliced avocado and tomato sandwich using local summer tomatoes, we think that grilled vegetables make the best vegetarian sandwiches. While it’s still prime grilling season, develop some signature veggie sandwich recipes. You can even turn the concept into a veggie sandwich party—a build-your-own sandwich buffet.

    Creative flavor layering is at the heart of a great veggie sandwich. Peruse the following groups for inspiration, and offer something from each group.

    GROUP 1: HEARTY VEGETABLES, GRILLED OR ROASTED

  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Bok choy
  • Broccolini
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Onions
  • Poblano Chiles
  • Portabella mushrooms
  • Romaine
  • Summer squash: yellow squash and zucchini
  • Tofu (not a vegetable, but an excellent vegetarian addition to this list)
  • GROUP 2: RAW VEGETABLES

  • Avocado, sliced or diced
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Cherry tomatoes in vinaigrette
  • Cucumber
  • Leafy greens: arugula, spinach, watercress
  • Mustard greens/mizuna/tatsoi
  • Sprouts
  •  

    GROUP 3: SPREADS

  • Bean dip
  • Greek yogurt or labneh, plain or seasoned
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus
  • Soft, spreadable cheeses
  • Tapenade
  • Tzatziki
  •  
    GROUP 4: CONDIMENTS

  • Barbecue sauce
  • Chutney
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise/flavored mayonnaise
  • Mustard(s)
  • Pesto
  • Relish
  • Salsa/Chimichurri
  • Sauces: horseradish, yogurt-dill
  • Vinaigrette & other salad dressings
  •  
    GROUP 5: FLAVOR ACCENTS

  • Chopped herbs
  • Dried fruit: cherries, cranberries, raisins
  • Kimchi
  • Pickled beets, cucumbers, onions or peppers
  • Sauerkraut
  • Sliced olives and/or chiles
  • Toasted seeds
  •  

    grilled-radicchio-230

    Grilled raddicho, endive and romaine are delicious, on a sandwich or as a side. Photo courtesy Radicchio.com.

     
    GROUPS 6 & 7: SIDES & SANDWICH BREADS

    Of course, the remaining ingredient to make veggie sandwiches is bread. We won’t add more long lists here, just two bullets:

  • Bread and rolls: Three or more different styles for a party. If you’re grilling, grilled bread is delicious.
  • Sides: The usual suspects, including chips, cole slaw, potato salad, even green salad.
  •  
    Party on, veggie-style!

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tomato Cupcakes

    tomato-cupcakes-kaminsky-230

    A first for most of us: tomato cupcakes!
    Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet
    Blog.

     

    Before raising an eyebrow, remember that tomatoes are a fruit!

    And cookbook author Hannah Kaminsky, who developed this recipe, is a fan.

    “When it comes to the divide between sweet and savory, the line that separates the two is becoming thinner and more difficult to distinguish with every passing year.” says Hannah.

    “Palates are opening up, eaters from all walks of life are growing more adventurous, and chefs are gleefully pursuing their wildest culinary dreams. In a world with such a vast array of flavors, there must still be countless winning combinations merely waiting to be discovered.

    “In my eyes, tomato cupcakes aren’t such a stretch of the imagination. Tomato soup cakes have been around since the turn of the century as a thrifty way of making something sweet in times of sugar rationing. Originally dubbed “mystery cake” as a way of concealing the secret ingredient, you’d never know there was tomato present in the tender crumb.

    “Taking inspiration from these humble origins but with the desire to celebrate the bold, beautiful tomatoes now in season rather than bury them in an avalanche of sugar, it seemed high time to revisit the idea of a tomato cake.”

     

    RECIPE: TOMATO CUPCAKES WITH BALSAMIC FROSTING

    “You can truly taste the tomato in these fiery red cupcakes,” says Hannah. “Not only that, but the unassuming beige frosting holds yet another surprise taste sensation: A tangy punch of balsamic vinegar, tempered by the sweetness of the rich and fluffy matrix that contains it.

    “Trust me, it’s one of those crazy things that you’ve just got to taste to believe. Although it may sound like an edible acid burn, that small splash is just enough to brighten up the whole dessert.

    “While tomatoes are still at their peak, sweet as ever and available in abundance, now is the time to experiment and try something new. Don’t call it a secret ingredient this time around and finally let them shine when the dessert course rolls around.”

     

    Ingredients For 15-16 Cupcakes

    For The Tomato Cupcakes

  • 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes, roughly blended, or
    1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  
    For The Balsamic Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 1 tablespoon milk
  • Optional garnish: small basil or mint leaves
  •  

    tomato-cupcakes-top-down-kaminsky-230

    The cupcakes photographed in the garden. Photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F and line 15-16 cupcake tin wells with papers.

    2. COMBINE the blended (but not completely puréed) tomatoes, olive oil, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and set aside.

    3. WHISK together in a separate large bowl the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Make sure that all the dry goods are thoroughly distributed before adding in the wet ingredients. Mix everything together with a wide spatula, stirring just enough to bring the batter together and beat out any pockets of unincorporated dry ingredients. A few remaining lumps are just fine.

    4. DISTRIBUTE the batter to the prepared cupcake pans, filling the papers about 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centers pulls out cleanly, with perhaps just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not wait for the tops to brown, because the centers will be thoroughly overcooked by then. Let cool completely before frosting.

    5. MAKE the frosting: Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat briefly to soften before adding in the confectioner’s sugar, balsamic glaze and vanilla. Begin mixing on low speed until the sugar is mostly incorporated, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Turn the mixer up to high and slowly drizzle in the milk as needed to bring the whole mixture together. Continue whipping for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.

    6. FROST the cupcakes and garnish as desired.

     
    *NOTE: All of Hannah’s recipes are originally vegan. We converted them to dairy for THE NIBBLE’s readership.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilling Tips

    quadruple-burger-grilling.com-230

    Burgers are the number one item grilled–
    although few are quadruple burgers, like this
    one. Photo courtesy Grilling.com.

     

    Labor Day, just around the corner, is the third most popular grilling holiday of the year. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s most recent State of the Barbecue Industry Report:

  • 51% of grill owners used their grill on Labor Day last year
  • 52% grilled on Memorial Day
  • A whopping 68% lit up their grills on July 4th
  •  
    It doesn’t stop at the end of summer: Statistics show that 60% of grill owners use their grills year-round.

    What are all of these grills cooking up? The most popular foods for cooking are

  • Burgers, 85%
  • Steak, 80%
  • Hot dogs, 79%
  • Chicken, 73%
  •  
    The side dishes most commonly prepared on the grill are:

  • Corn, 41%
  • Potatoes, 41%
  • Other vegetables, 32%
  •  

    The Association’s website has information including

  • Choosing the Right Grill
  • Popular Accessories
  • Grill Features
  • Knowing Your Fuels
  • Grilling Facts and Figures
  • General Grilling Safety
  • Gas Grill Safety
  • Charcoal Grill Safety
  • Electric Grill Safety
  • Food Handling Safety
  • Easy Grill Clean-Up
     
    The most popular flavors of barbecue sauce? Hickory, followed by mesquite, honey, and then spicy-hot.

  •  

    Thomas_Jefferson_by_Rembrandt_Peale_1805_230-wiki

    Thomas Jefferson, the First Griller, in 1805. Portrait by Rembrandt Peale | Wikimedia.

     
    Not surprisingly, HPBA has a variety of resources for grillers, including:

  • BBQ 365 Grill Guide.
  • BBQ 365 Calendar featuring barbecue trends, stats, holidays and events throughout the year.
  •  

    GRILLING AT THE WHITE HOUSE

    Barbecues have been a White House tradition since Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the U.S. Fast forward some 160 years: Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president, hosted the first barbecue at the White House that featured Texas-style barbecued ribs.

    Jimmy (the 39th president) and Rosalyn Carter hosted a “pig pickin’” for about 500 guests including visiting foreign dignitaries. Ronald (the 40th) and Nancy Reagan also were avid barbecuers who entertained with barbecues at their ranch.

    George H. Bush, 41st president, held a barbecue for Members of Congress annually on the South Lawn of the White House, a tradition continued by his son, President George W. Bush (43rd). However, that tradition was interrupted on September 12, 2001, the day after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

    Secret Service agents, who had evacuated the White House a day earlier, cancelled the barbecue. The White House kitchen donated the 700 pounds of beef tenderloin to feed the hundreds of rescue workers who had traveled to Washington.

      

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    RECIPE: Seared Tuna With Roasted Peaches

    It’s not an orange: It‘s a roasted peach,
    served with grilled ahi tuna. Photo courtesy
    Waterbar | San Francisco.

     

    Peach season in the U.S. lasts from May through August or early September, thanks to the different zones and climates where they are grown. In the cooler weather states, the harvest starts later but lasts into September and even October.

  • California peaches appear from early May to early September
  • Georgia peaches appear from early May to early August
  • South Carolina peaches appear from early May to early August
  • Michigan peaches appear from mid July to late September
  • Idaho peaches appear from August to October
  •  
    Enjoy the juicy yellow-orange orbs while you can. In addition to hand fruit and desserts, add peaches to your savory recipes.

    Here‘s one for roasted peach with seared ahi tuna. You can substitute any seafood, poultry, pork, even lamb.

    The recipe is from Parke Ulrich, Executive Chef of Waterbar in San Francisco.

     

    This recipe has a special significance for Chef Parke. Each year he participates in the Adopt-A-Tree program from Masumoto Family Farm, which grows the organic Elberta peaches for his dishes. They are harvested in late July or early August. Chef Parke then creates dishes using the peaches in the month of August.

    See more about Elberta peaches below.
     
    Headed to San Francisco?

    Plan a visit to Waterbar. Perched on the water’s edge, with one of the most extraordinary views of the San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, the famed Ferry Building and the Embarcadero skyline, the seafood is as good as the view. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.

     
    RECIPE: SEARED AHI TUNA WITH SALT ROASTED PEACH & WHITE BALSAMIC REDUCTION

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 fresh peaches, rinsed and patted dry
  • 10 ounces ahi tuna (thick loin works better than thin filets)
  • 3 ounces white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch basil, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces arugula
  • Rock salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. SCORE the bottom of each peach (opposite the stem end) with a small X. Place a ½ inch layer of rock salt in the bottom of a sauté pan. Place the peaches stem end down in the salt.

    2. SLOW ROAST the peaches at 300°F until they are tender to the touch (approximately 7 minutes, depending on ripeness). Let cool. Remove the skin and reserve the peaches for plating.

    3. POUR vinegar into a non-reactive saucepan. Reduce by ¾ and chill. When the vinegar is cool, the consistency should be like syrup. If it is too thick, thin it out with Champagne vinegar. Reserve for plating.

    4. SEASON the tuna with salt and pepper. Let sit for 10 minutes until the tuna starts to sweat. Place finely chopped basil on a sheet tray. Once the tuna is moist, roll the tuna in the chopped basil, crusting it.

    5. SEAR the tuna on all sides in a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Be careful not to burn the basil. Cook the tuna to medium rare.

     

    elberta-peaches-gurneys-230

    Eberta peaches. Photo courtesy Gurneys.com.

    6. TO SERVE, split the peaches in half and remove the pits. Place arugula equally in the base of 4 bowls. Place peach half on top of the arugula nest. Slice the tuna into 8 pieces. Lay tuna over the peach. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
     

    ABOUT AHI TUNA

    Ahi can be a confusing term. It us the Hawaiian word for the bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), but is also used in restaurants to refer to the related yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares).

    Bigeye tuna are amongst the tuna species most threatened by overfishing, so go for the yellowfin if you can distinguish it. Here are the main species of tuna.
     
    ABOUT ELBERTA PEACHES

    The Elberta variety was once the most popular of peaches in the U.S., a yellow freestone peach with creamy flesh, juicy and ideal for eating, canning and freezing.

    Named for the wife of the Georgia peach grower who identified the hybrid in the 19th century, the Elberta began to be phased out after World War II as newer peach varieties were developed and introduced by university experimental agricultural stations. [Source]

    These hybrids traveled better than the Elberta and were more durable at supermarkets. Heirloom Elbertas are still grown, and can be found in farmers markets.

    Wild peaches originated in China, and have been cultivated there since at least 1000 B.C.E. Here’s the history of peaches.

      

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