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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.

RECIPE: Chilled Blueberry Banana Soup

Our recent article on chilled soup featured a recipe for Chilled Cucumber Yogurt Soup. It’s a great starter.

But chilled fruit soups are great summer desserts, and they couldn’t be easier to make. Just toss the ingredients into a blender or food processor, whirl, and it’s ready to serve.

RECIPE: CHILLED BLUEBERRY BANANA SOUP

Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2-¼ cups blueberries, divided
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1½ cups ice
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup frozen vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  •  
    Preparation

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/blueberry banana soup blueberrycouncilorg 230

    Blueberry soup: pretty in purple. Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

    1. COMBINE 2 cups of the blueberries, the banana, ice, milk, frozen yogurt, sugar and lemon juice in blender.

    2. PROCESS until smooth. Divide equally into four bowls.

    3. GARNISH with the remaining blueberries and frozen yogurt or ice cream.
     
    Find more delicious blueberry recipes at BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

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    When blueberry prices are low in season, try as many blueberry recipes as you can. Photo courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    ABOUT FRUIT SOUP

    A fruit soup can be made from fresh or dried fruits and served hot or cold. It can be served as a first course or for dessert. It also can be an intermezzo or palate cleanser between fish and meat courses.

    Cold soups tend to be made with seasonal fruit and are thus served in warmer weather. Soups made of dried fruits, such as Norwegian fruktsuppe, made of raisins and prunes, can be served hot or cold in any season.

  • Fruit soups can be cream soups or purées, with or without the addition of fruit juice.
  • They can include alcohol, such as brandy, champagne, Port or wine.
  • Sweet fruit soups can include meat; and in at least one instance, a fruit soup can be completely savory, like the Chinese winter melon soup. Technically, cucumber, which makes a delicious chilled soup, is also a fruit (it’s related to watermelon); but it’s treated as a vegetable in Western cuisine.
  • Fruit soup can be garnished with fresh cheese, such as fromage blanc or mascarpone; with cultured creams such as crème fraîche, sour cream and yogurt; and with ice cream or sorbet.
  • Examples of dessert soups from other cultures include etrog, a citron soup eaten during the Jewish feast of Succoth; ginataan (guinataan), a Filipino soup made from coconut milk, fruits and tapioca; and oshiruko, a Japanese soup made from the adzuki bean (the same bean used to make red bean ice cream).
  •  
    Check out the history of soup and the different types of soup in our Soup Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Lettuce Wraps ~ Wrap It Up

    Lettuce wraps are a Vietnamese specialty, often used as an appetizer or side instead of a main course. But for a light, better-for-you lunch or dinner, we enjoy them as a main.

    Lettuce wraps are a fun, interactive course for lunch or dinner. You can wrap up any boneless protein in a lettuce leaf; or make it a vegetarian dish, using anything from tofu or seitan to stir-fried vegetables.

    While the recipe below is so easy it can be made on weekdays, it’s also festive for Labor Day weekend. The secret is pre-cooked Tony Roma’s Boneless Ribs (other brands sell a similar product).

    The meaty ribs ready to heat and eat. You can heat them on the grill, in the oven or in the microwave. The ribs are sold at Sam’s Club and other retailers nationwide.

    The other tasks are simply to wash the lettuce, make a quick Asian slaw and set out the sauces. If you want to cut back on the number of sauces, just pick the one everyone will like (we recommend hoisin*). Whatever you choose should be thick, so it doesn’t dribble out of the wrap.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/boneless ribs lettuce wraps tonyromas 230

    Wrap cooked boneless ribs in lettuce leaves and top with Asian slaw, cilantro and a sauce of choice. Photo courtesy Tony Roma’s.

     
    *Hoisin sauce is a thick, sweet-and-pungent sauce popular in Chinese cuisine as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir fries, as dipping sauce and a condiment (e.g., in lettuce wraps as well as dishes with pancake wrap such as Moo Shoo Pork and Peking Duck). It is dark brown in color. Hoisin is not the same as plum sauce, which is an orange-colored sweet and sour sauce. In Vietnamese, hoisin sauce is called tuong den.
     

    WHAT ARE BONELESS RIBS?

    Boneless ribs, also called country-style pork ribs or or pork shoulder country-style ribs, are thick strips of meat cut from the pig’s shoulder. They come from a cut called the pork shoulder steak; so they are not actually from the rib cage, but look like the meat removed from a rib. They are marinated and seasoned before cooking.

    Boneless ribs, also called pork loin country-style ribs, can be cut from the shoulder blade as well. They can be sold bone-in, but the bone is usually to make them boneless.
     

     

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    Boneless country-style pork ribs. Photo courtesy Calumet Diversified Meats.

     

    RECIPE: BONELESS RIB LETTUCE WRAPS

    Since the ribs are pre-cooked, prep time is just 15 minutes; cook time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 32 ounces† Tony Roma’s Boneless Pork Ribs
  • 12 leaves of crisp green leaf lettuce (we use romaine hearts, but Boston or bibb work well too)
  •  
    For The Slaw

  • 1 radish, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons sweet rice vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  •  
    †There are 3 boneless ribs in each 16-ounce package and 6 boneless ribs in each 32-ounce package. Each person can have two lettuce wraps.
     
    For The Garnish

  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  •  
    For The Sauces

  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sambal oelek chili sauce or Sriracha hot sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  •  

    Preparation

    1. WASH the lettuce and pat dry with paper towels.

    2. PREPARE the boneless ribs per package instructions.

    3. MAKE the salad topping: Combine the radish, carrot, cucumber and green onions in a mixing bowl. Add the sweet rice vinegar and season with a pinch of salt (or more to taste). Gently toss and set aside in a cool place. When ready to serve…

    4. INSTRUCT everyone on how to serve themselves: Take a lettuce leaf and place a strip of boneless rib in center. Top with some of the slaw; then garnish with cilantro and choice of sauces (hoisin, Sriracha, sambal oelek, sweet chili).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: American Bruschetta & Beet Swath

    This beautiful plate from Gardenia restaurant in New York’s Greenwich Village is a composition of grilled mackerel, butternut squash and endive, garnished with baby greens dressed in vinaigrette and a dollop of pesto.

    But what really stood out to us is what we’ve named “American bruschetta,” a square of crustless white toast, topped with pickled vegetables, a gherkin and an herb leaf tossed in vinaigrette (shown on the bottom left of the plate).

    If this is “American bruschetta,” what’s Italian bruschetta? Here’s the scoop, including the difference between bruschetta and crostini. (NOTE: Pronounce it broo-skett-a, not broo-shett-a.)

    You don’t need a baguette or other crusty loaf that serves as the foundation of classic bruschetta.

  • Toast anything—from ordinary white bread to raisin walnut bread.
  • Top it with anything that complements the entrée. Look in your fridge, pantry, freezer.
  • Use up leftovers.
  • Have fun with your creation.
  •  
    RECIPE: AMERICAN BRUSCHETTA

    Ingredients

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/grilled mackerel gardenianyc 230

    Check out the crustless toast topped with veggies. This bruschetta, along with the, orange squash and swath of burgundy beet purée, add vibrant color to the plate. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.

  • Cheese: goat cheese, crème fraîche, fromage blanc or other mild cheese on raisin bread or walnut bread (or a raisin-walnut-semolina combination)
  • Condiments: chutney, compound butter, olives
  • Fish: anchovies, caviar/roe, sardines, shellfish
  • Meat: bacon, sausage, other charcuterie
  • Spreads: egg salad, guacamole, Middle Eastern (babaganoush, hummus, tzatziki, etc.), spreadable pâté, tapenade, pimento cheese or other cheese spread
  • Vegetables: fresh (baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or watercress are easy), pickled, puréed cooked vegetables
  • Whatever you have at hand (yesterday we used leftover creamy polenta garnished with sliced olives and pimento
  •  
    Plus

  • Butter, mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil, vinaigrette, yogurt or other binder as needed, to anchor dry ingredients to the bread
  • Garnishes: sliced chiles, herbs, gherkins, spices, etc.
  •  

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    Duck breast with carrot purée. Photo courtesy CopperBox.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. ASSEMBLE the ingredients. Grill or toast the bread (in a toaster or under the broiler). Remove the crusts as desired.

    2. SPREAD a binder, if necessary, on the bread.

    3. TOP with the featured ingredients and serve.
     
     
    RECIPE: HOW TO MAKE A SWATH OF VEGETABLE OR FRUIT PURÉE

    Painted swaths of fruit or vegetable purée are clever ways to add color to a plate. Use them along with entrées that are beige, brown or white—which includes every protein we can think of except crab, shrimp and lobster (fish, meat, poultry, seitan, tofu).

    That also goes for most standard starches: beans, potatoes, noodles, white and brown rice and most other grains.

    Even if you have another bright color on the plate—butternut squash, carrots, corn, green beans, etc.—you can round out the plate with a swath of a different color.

    No time to cook vegetables for your color splash? Canned beets and carrots work well: Just drain and purée.

     
    Ingredients

  • Bright colored fruit or vegetable—green, orange, red, yellow
  • Seasonings to taste—anything from salt and pepper to curry, garlic, etc.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE and seasonthe cooked vegetable.

    2. USE a silicon basting brush to paint a swath of purée across the plate.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Sipping Rum

    Rum is a new world spirit, initially distilled by slaves on Caribbean sugar cane plantations. The distilled rum can be drunk in its clear state (white or blanco rum), or aged in oak barrels for various lengths of time, the process of which creates the different types of rum.

    Why is one blanco (or añejo, etc.) better than another? If the aging time is the same among different rums, the quality factors include the type of the sugar, yeast, and still and aging barrel and how long the fermentation is, and the quality of the still.

    Clear rum is mostly used for mixed drinks; among the more popular are the Daiquiri, Hurricane, Mojito, Piña Colada and Rum and Coke (Cuba Libre).

    Light rum, also used for mixed drinks, is aged briefly or not at all. As with other grades of rum, the longer it is aged (Añejo, Extra Añejo, etc.) the more complex it becomes.

    For National Rum Day, August 16th, here’s an explanation of how rum is made, courtesy of Cruzan Rum (there’s an infographic at the end of the page.

    1) Molasses, a by-product of refining sugar from sugar cane, travels from the sugar plantation to the distillery. There it is diluted with water—often spring water from local aquifers.

    2) Yeast cultures, often proprietary, are added to the molasses to start the fermentation. The yeast convert the sugars in the molasses to alcohol.

       

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    Cruzan Single Barrel Rum, a fine sipping experience. Photo courtesy Cruzan.

     
    3) The alcohol is distilled into a clear rum distillate. Light rum, also called clear, crystal, silver and white rum, is bottled immediately. rum which is then aged for a brief or extensive period.

    4) Distilled rum to be aged goes into oak barrels, which are laid down in warehouses to age for a minimum of two years; some are aged for twelve years or more. As much as half the rum can be lost to evaporation, which is why, along with the cost of carrying the inventory, older rums are that much costlier.

     

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    Dark rum on the rocks. Photo courtesy Baccardi.

      5) After barrel aging, the rum is charcoal filtered and diluted to 80 proof; it is then bottled.

    See the infographic below.

    SINGLE BARREL RUM

    The finest rum for sipping is single barrel rum. If you’re looking for that ultimate experience, look for award-winning Cruzan Single Barrel Rum. It’s made from a proprietary blend of vintage rums that have been aged for up to 12 years,

    The term “single barrel” refers to the process: After its initial aging, the rum is handpicked and blended before it is barreled for a second time in new American oak barrels. It is slowly aged again, bottled and individually numbered, one cask at a time.

    The resulting spirit well-rounded, mellow and full-bodied, with a balance of caramel sweetness and oak from aging. The finish is smooth and buttery (the latter also from the oak.

    Single barrel rum is best enjoyed sipped neat or on the rocks. Cruzan’s is just $29.99 per 750ml bottle.
     

     
    HOW SINGLE BARREL RUM IS MADE

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/aged rum infographic cruzan 520

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Corn Custard & Popcorn

    Before the summer corn fades away, make corn custard—and for fun, serve it with a side of popcorn. It’s not just for Thanksgiving, a traditional time for corn custard (also called corn pudding and corn casserole, even corn soufflé; but the latter should be an airy soufflé, not a custard dish).

    But by Thanksgiving, fresh corn is a distant memory, and canned or frozen corn must be employed. So make hay—or corn custard—while the sun shines on fresh summer corn.

    Corn custard is typically served as a side, but you can make an first course with it, along with optional garnishes. In this recipe, we make individual corn custards that are better for a first course.

    Or, you can place them in the middle of your green salad, as part of the salad course.

    Prep time is 20 minutes, inactive time is 15 minutes, cook time is 1 hour 10 minutes (total time 1 hour 45 minutes). This recipe was adapted from one by Nealey Dozier on FoodChannel.com.

    RECIPE: CORN CUSTARD

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen sweet yellow corn (thawed if frozen)
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/corn custard popcorn kitchenincBoston 230

    Turn summer corn into corn custard, with a side of popcorn for fun and fiber. Photo courtesy KITCHENiNC | Boston.

  • Plate garnish: popcorn
  • Custard garnishes: bacon crumbles and snipped chives, jalapeño, chopped fresh or sundried tomatoes
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/bicolor goodeggs 230r

    Take advantage of fresh corn for this recipe. Photo of bicolor corn courtesy Good Eggs.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Lightly coat 8 individual soufflé dishes, ramekins or Mason jars (4 to 5 ounces each) with butter or cooking spray. Place in a shallow baking pan or on a cookie sheet (preferably with a rim).

    2. ADD the sugar and eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), and beat until light and frothy (approximately 3 minutes).

    3. ADD the flour, salt and baking powder and beat for an additional 3 minutes, until the mixture is airy and foamy. Fold in the heavy cream and milk until thoroughly combined.

    4. STIR the corn and melted butter together and divide evenly among the ramekins. Pour the batter over the corn mixture, filling each dish almost to the top.

    5. BAKE the custards for 60 to 70 minutes, rotating the pan once, until the filling is set and the top is golden brown. Remove the ramekins and cool on a wire rack for at least 15 to 20 minutes before serving, to allow custard to firm up.

    6. GARNISH the custards as desired, and garnish each plate with popcorn.

     

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Avoid Grill Toxins With Organic Grilling

    August 16th is National Bratwurst Day. Before you throw some brats on the grill, here are tips on organic grilling from Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc., a publisher of health and wellness magazines, books, and digital content*.

    Not surprisingly, she’s committed to organic living. This article is adapted from a larger article:

    AN ORGANIC GUIDE TO GRILLING

    Grilling in America needs an organic makeover—independence from exposure to conventional grilling toxins, says Maria. We need to apply that spirit of revolution to our health and the environment and take it organic every time we fire up the grill!

    Sure, you can find throw a grass-fed, certified-organic steak or an Applegate Farms organic hot dog on the grill. But there’s more to organic grilling than just what you cook.

    Organic grilling is a complete process that minimizes toxic chemicals from beginning to end, as it maximizes flavor and healthful benefits for you and the environment.

       

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/hot dogs grill hillshirefarmsFB 230

    Avoid toxic charcoal briquettes; use organic charcoal. Photo courtesy Hillshire Farms.

    Here Maria demystifies the grilling process and detoxifies it as much as possible. Her tips are safe and simple.
     
    *This article was originally published on June 24, 2015 on Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen blog.
     
    STEP 1: USE ORGANIC GRILLING MATERIALS

    You can use any grill; Maria uses a Big Green Egg charcoal grill with certified-organic charcoal. Big Green Egg sells organic charcoal, as do other companies.

    Whatever the brand, always use charcoal that’s made from natural materials like wood (look for “lump charcoal,” bamboo or coconut). You can use wood logs instead of charcoal; just make sure you have time to let them burn down a bit first. Avoiding toxic briquettes is the most important organic choice you can make for the environment and for your health.

  • To start the grill, you will need a chimney starter, which lets you light the charcoal without poisonous lighter fluid. A chimney starter and organic charcoal solve most of your toxin problems.
  • Everything else you need: paper to stuff under the chimney, matches, organic food to grill, tongs and a silicone hot pad. Maria recommends tongs that are long, non-locking and without plastic parts.
  •  
    STEP 2: PREPARE THE GRILL

    Make sure your grill is in a safe place, all your materials are handy, and the grill is clean enough.

  • Never use a wire cleaning brush to clean your grill. Those little wire bits can break off and get stuck in your stomach. Instead, use a heavy-duty sponge, a wood grill scraper or a natural-fiber scrub brush.
  • When the grate is clean, rub it with some high smoke point oil on the grill—Maria likes coconut oil but canola, peanut, soybean, sunflower and others are fine—to keep your food from sticking.
  •  
    STEP 3: LIGHT THE FIRE

    First, remove the grill grate. Put a few pieces of crumbled dry paper (or one piece of newspaper) at the bottom of the chimney; then load the charcoal on top. Spread a bit of charcoal around the sides, too. Light the paper on fire underneath.

  • Keep checking to make sure that it’s burning hot enough. For example, in damp weather, it might take a few tries to get the paper burning hot enough to light the charcoal.
  • You will know if it’s caught fire when you see smoke coming out of the top of the chimney and/or feel the heat.
  •  

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    Put some shrimp on the barbie… Photo courtesy The Smoked Olive (try their terrific smoked olive oil!).

     

    STEP 4: WAIT

    It will take 10 to 15 minutes for the charcoal to get hot enough. You’ll know it’s ready when you can see red coals glowing through the chimney holes.

  • During that time, make sure all your food is ready to be put on the grill.
  • When the fire is hot enough, grasp the handle of the chimney with a hot pad and dump the burning coals into the grill.
  • Remove the chimney, which will be burning hot, to a safe place, out of the reach of anyone (adults as well as children).

     
    STEP 5: GRILL!

    Put the grill grate back on the grill. It will need a few minutes to warm up, so don’t rush. Spread some oil on the grill to prevent sticking and add the food.

  • You can use aluminum foil if you want, but it’s not necessary. The important thing is to give the food the time it needs to cook properly.
  • Remove the food from the grill onto a clean platter and get ready to dig in.
  •  
    ADDITIONAL GRILLING SAFETY TIPS

  • Keep a squirt bottle or squirt gun handy in case the fire gets too hot. This is especially important if you are using wooden logs—they can get really hot. If they do, give the grill a squirt. Most natural or organic charcoal doesn’t get super-hot, unless you use lots of it.
  • Don’t put cooked meat on the same platter you used for raw meat without washing it first. That’s just good food safety.
  • Don’t get distracted. You can’t grill successfully while trying to get the rest of the meal ready. You need to keep an eye on the food or it can easily burn (or not cook fast enough). If you have no other hekp, make sure all of the other items on your list are ready before you start to grill.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Portabella Salad

    Whether you’re planning for meatless Monday or looking for something tasty to grill on any other day, how about a meaty grilled portabella salad?

    Grill not only the mushrooms, but red and yellow bell peppers and anything else you’d like to add to it, including polenta (see photo below).

    Place the grilled veggies atop your favorite greens, with an optional garnish of crumbled feta or goat cheese and a vinaigrette.

    PORTABELLA? PORTABELLO? PORTOBELLO?

    How can one mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, have three different spellings? After all, carrot is carrot, tomato is tomato, zucchini is zucchini.

    The answer: When Americans began to grow and sell them in the 1980s, it was a very small output. The growers, initially Italian Americans who grew the creminis they liked from the old country (creminis are the young form of portabellas), named it. Portabella means “beautiful door; portobello means “beautiful port.”

       

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    A grilled portabella salad on baby greens, with grilled bell peppers, balsamic vinaigrette and a garnish of crumbled feta. Photo courtesy Davio’s Boston | Boston.

     
    Or perhaps, as you’ll read below, someone with marketing chops realized it needed a glamorous name in order to sell the mushrooms.

    According to Food Timeline, food experts generally agree on these points when it comes to the history of portabellas:

  • The mushroom was developed in southeastern Pennsylvania from the Italian cremini—which, we must point out, is also spelled crimini, and also called the brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom and Roman mushroom. Newer “marketable” names including baby portobellos, mini bellas and portabellinis. “Baby Bella” is a trademarked name.
  • A 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News noted that many of the mushroom farmers were of Italian origin. While they originally produced the creminis they knew from Italy, there was no market: The public wanted pristine white mushrooms. The back-to-earth movement of the 1960s and 1970s opened the door for the growers to make another stab at selling creminis.
  • By accident, growers found that creminis that weren’t harvested grew into extra-large mushrooms. These large mushrooms are here today despite early efforts to thwart them. In a 1996 article in Nation’s Restaurant News on the growing popularity of portabellas, Wade Whitfield of the Mushroom Council, an industry trade group, noted, “They are really culls. You didn’t want them in the mushroom bed. [Growers] would throw them away. There was no market. Growers would take them home.”
  • Whitfield then noted: “This thing has gone from nearly zero in 1993 to a predicted 30 million pounds this year. It’s a major item. It will be the largest specialty mushroom.” Both cremini and portobello mushrooms are first mentioned in the New York Times during the mid 1980s.
  • According to The New Food Lover’s Companion, “‘portobello’ began to be used in the 1980s as a brilliant marketing ploy to popularize an unglamorous mushroom that, more often than not, had to be disposed of because growers couldn’t sell them.”
  • There is no definitive spelling. According to Food Timeline, an un-scientific Google survey at one point showed that portobello got the most searches (169,000), followed by portabella (33,100) and portobella (3,510). Wade Whitfield noted The Mushroom Council preferred “portabella”; we use “portabella” because we prefer how it rolls off the tongue.
  •  

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    Grilled polenta and portabellas are a delicious pairing. Add arugula, shaved Parmesan and a balsamic vinegar reduction Photo courtesy Urban Accents.

     

    RECIPE: STUFFED PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS

    Ingredients For 8 Side Salads

  • 8 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed* and brushed clean
  • Olive oil for grilling, plus extra virgin olive oil for dressing
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 large red yellow bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary for dressing
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 package (4 to 5 ounces) baby greens
  • 1 large handful baby arugula (substitute baby spinach)
  • Optional garnish: shaved Parmesan cheese or crumbled feta
  •  
    *Save the stems for an omelet or another salad. To clean mushrooms,
    first use a mushroom brush (much more delicate than a regular vegetable brush) and remove any remaining dirt with a slightly damp paper towel.

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the grill to medium. Brush both sides of the mushrooms with olive oil. Halve and seed the bell peppers.

    2. PLACE the mushrooms and bell peppers on the rack and grill until tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Transfer to plate and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    3. CUT the peppers into strips. You can also cut the mushrooms into strips, but they make a nicer presentation whole.

    4. MAKE the dressing: Combine 1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil in a blender or food processor with the balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and chopped fresh rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    5. CREATE a bed of greens on individual serving plates. Place the mushroom in the center, surrounded by pepper strips. Place some arugula in the center of each mushroom. Garnish as desired with cheese. Drizzle with dressing serve.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY RECIPE: Creamsicle Cheesecake

    August 14th is National Creamsicle Day. How about a “Creamsicle” Cheese Cake?

    First, a bit of food history, and why we put the word Creamsicle within quotation marks:

    The Popsicle® was invented by a 29-year-old husband and father working in the real estate industry in the Great Depression. Frank Epperson made what he called Epsicles for a fireman’s ball.

    They were a sensation, and Frank obtained a patent for ”a handled, frozen confection or ice lollipop.” His kids called the treat a Popsicle, after their Pop. So Frank created Popsicle Corporation, which developed the Creamsicle® and collaborated with the Loew Movie Company for the nationwide marketing and sales of the product in movie theaters.

    Here’s the history of the Creamsicle. Today, Creamsicle® and Popsicle® are registered trademarks of the Unilever Corporation. Any company wishing to use the name for a product must get a license from Unilever.

    We adapted this recipe from Krista of BudgetGourmetMom.com. Check out her other delicious recipes!

    Krista recommends that you make the cheesecake a day in advance; but you can get by with a few hours of chilling.

       

    orange-cream-cheesecake-230

    Bake one or order this Orange Cream Cheesecake from Sweet Street Desserts.

     
    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time time is 40 minutes, plus a minimum of 3 hours for freezing/chilling.

    RECIPE: “CREAMSICLE” CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients
     
    For The Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  •  
    For The Cheesecake

  • 2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/diet orange n cream stewarts 230

    Want Creamsicle flavor without the calories? We love Diet Orange ‘n Cream from Stewart’s, also available in regular (with sugar). If you can’t find it locally, order it from Amazon. Photo courtesy Stewart’s Restaurants.

     

    For The Orange Creamsicle Layer

  • 1 three-ounce box orange flavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 eight-ounce container of whipped topping such as Cool Whip
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F.

    2. COMBINE combine the butter, sugar and graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl. Stir until combined. Pat into a 9″ springform pan. Set aside.

    3. WHIP the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time; then beat in the sour cream.

    4. POUR the filling into the crust. Bake for 40 minutes. Turn of the oven and crack the oven door for 30 minutes. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool completely. Once cooled…

     
    5. MIX the “Creamsicle” layer by stirring the gelatin with the boiling water until it dissolves. Gently whisk in the whipped topping until it’s completely combined. Set the cheesecake on a plate or dish to catch any dripping, and pour the “Creamsicle” mixture over the cheesecake.

    6. PLACE in the freezer for an hour. Remove from the freezer and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve, at least two hours; but it is preferable to chill it overnight.

    7. TO SERVE: Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan to separate the gelatin layer from the side. Unhinge the pan and gently lift the bottom from the cheesecake.

     
    FOOD TRIVIA: THE CHEESECAKE IS A PIE!

    A cheesecake is not a cake, but an open face custard pie. Unlike a cake, there is no raised layer made with flour.

    Rather, like a pie, it has a bottom crust into which a filling (a cheese custard) is poured and baked.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Try The Best Cheeses In America

    If you passion is great cheese, why not try the best on your pizzas, sandwiches, entrées and salads? The winners of the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition, held last month, are worth seeking out.

    Here are the first place winners in the top 5 categories (based on the volume of cheese sold in the U.S.), including sub-categories:

    MOZZARELLA

  • Brick, Scamorza Or String cheese: Farmer’s Rope String Cheese, Crave Brothers (Wisconsin)
  • Fresh Mozzarella, 8 Ounces Or More, Balls or Shapes: Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese (Wisconsin) and Bella Casara Buffalo Mozzarella (Ontario)
  • Fresh Mozzarella Under 8 Ounces: Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Bocconcini (Wisconsin)
  • Burrata: Calabro Cheese (Connecticut)
  •  
    CHEDDAR CHEESE

  • Aged Cheddar, 12 To 24 Months: Face Rock 2-Year Extra Aged Cheddar, Face Rock Creamery (Oregon);
  • Cheddar Aged Up To 12 Months: Tillamook White Medium Cheddar, Tillamook County Creamery (Oregon)
  •    

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/farmers rope string cheese eatmadison 230

    The best string cheese in America: Farmer’s Rope String Cheese from the Crave Brothers of Wisconsin. Photo courtesy EdibleMadison.com.

  • Cheddar Aged Up To 12 Months—Goat, Sheep, Buffalo Or Mixed Milks: Goat Cheddar, Central Coast Creamery (California)
  • Mature Cheddar, 24 To 48 Months: Four Year Flagship, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (Washington)
  • Mature Cheddar, Aged Over 48 Months: Cabot Old School Cheddar, Cabot Creamery (Vermont)
  • Cheddar Wrapped In Cloth, Aged Up To 12 Months: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Cellars at Jasper Hill, (Vermont)
  • Cheddar Wrapped In Cloth, Aged Over 12 Months: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar Select, Cellars at Jasper Hill (Vermont)
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/celtic blue reserve glengarry fine cheese MisaMePhotography 230

    The best cheese of 2015 is Celtic Blue Reserve from Glengarry Fine Cheese in Ontario. Photo © Misa Me Photography.

     

    MONTEREY JACK CHEESE

  • Southwest Cheese (New Mexico)
  •  
    SWISS CHEESE

  • Baby Swiss, Guggisberg Cheese (Ohio)
  •  
    PARMESAN CHEESE

  • Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan Cheese, Cello Cheese (Wisconsin)
  •  
    BEST OF SHOW

  • Celtic Blue Reserve, Glengarry Fine Cheese (Ontario)
  •  
    The awards mentioned here represent just a few of this year’s categories and winners. To see the complete list of awards in all categories, visit The American Cheese Society website.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Summer Caprese Salad With Flowers

    We saw this photo on GourmetAttitude.com and thought: We must make this!

    It’s a miniaturized Caprese Salad, with these substitutions:

  • Bite-size mozzarella balls instead of sliced mozzarella
  • Cherry and/or grape tomatoes instead of sliced beefsteak tomatoes
  • Baby basil leaves instead of large leaves
  • A garnish of edible, summery flowers
  •  
    It’s a beautiful summer salad; and since good cherry tomatoes can be found year-round, it’s also a treat for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

    For more food fun, you can serve the salad in individual Martini glasses.

    RECIPE: SUMMER SALAD WITH FLOWERS

    Ingredients

  • Bocconcini, bite-size mozzarella balls, or the tinier pearl-size perlini
  • Cherry tomatoes, ideally heirloom in an array of colors
  •  

    cherry-tomato-mozz-flower-salad-gourmetattitude-230

    We call this salad “Flower Power.” Photo courtesy GourmetAttitude.com.

  • Optional: yellow grape tomatoes for contrast
  • Small basil leaves (if you can’t find any, make a chiffonade of regular leaves)
  • Edible flowers (more information)
  • Good olive oil (infused olive oil—basil, rosemary, etc.—is great)
  • Vinegar, lemon or lime juice (we like balsamic, but anything works)
  •  

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/cacio de roma cheesemonthclub 230

    Cacio di Roma. Photo courtesy Cheese Of The Month Club.

     

    Preparation

    You can dress the salad in oil and vinegar, allow guests to pour their own from cruets, or drizzle olive oil and vinegar on the plate before adding the salad, and allow guests to “swoosh” the tomatoes in it.

    1. TOSS the tomatoes with a small amount of salt. Combine in a mixing bowl with the drained bocconcini and herbs.

    2. SERVE on a platter or shallow glass bowl or on individual plates.
     
    WHAT IS CACIO CHEESE?

    Formally called Cacio de Roma, cacio is a semi-soft Italian cheese originally made in the countryside outside of Rome from sheep’s milk. Cacio simply means cheese in some dialects (formaggio is the word used universally in Italy).

     
    The cheese—not readily found in the U.S.—is made in small rounds called caciotta and aged for about one month. It is a classic sheep’s milk cheese. Like mozzarella, made from the milk of cows or water buffalo, it melts very well for cooking and is enjoyed as a snack, with pasta, pizza and salad.
     
    SOME CAPRESE SALAD HISTORY

    Like most recipes, Caprese salad has evolved.

    The original name originated on the island of Capri, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples in the Campania region of Italy. The island has been a resort since Roman Times.

    But Caprese Salad is a more modern invention, dating (by name, anyway) to the early 20th century. The original salad was made with four ingredients: cacio cheese, beefsteak-type tomatoes called cuore di bue (steer’s heart), whole basil leaves and olive oil.

    Later, possibly after World War II when American tourists ventured to Capri (it was a Jet Set favorite), sliced mozzarella (fior di latte or bufala) replaced cacio and the recipe spread throughout Italy and overseas with the tourists who loved it.

    In classic style, slices of mozzarella and tomatoes plus the basil leaves were overlapped on a plate, drizzled with olive oil.

      

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