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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: Meatloaf Hero Sandwich

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A hearty meatloaf sub for Oscar watchers. EatWisconsin Cheese.com.

 

Here’s a suggestion from From Eat Wisconsin Cheese.com: Switch the popular meatball submarine sandwich for a meatball hero, sub or hero whatever you call it in your neck of the woods (see the note below).

It’s an easy way to feed a crowd during events like the Academy Awards. If you serve half a hero to everyone, along with other nibbles, this recipe feeds 12.

RECIPE: MEATLOAF HERO SANDWICH

Ingredients For 6 Sandwiches

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 cup (9 ounces) Asiago cheese, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon-style mustard
  • 6 sub/hero/French rolls
  • 6 leaves of lettuce
  • 12 tomato slices
  • 12 slices provolone cheese
  • Plus

  • Cole slaw, potato salad or French fries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the meatloaf; Preheat oven to 375°F (conventional; if using a convection oven, preheat to 325°F).

    2. COMBINE the meats, Asiago, egg, breadcrumbs, parsley, Dijon mustard, pepper and salt in a bowl. Mix well and pack into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Bake the loaf until cooked through and browned, 55 to 60 minutes.

    3. REMOVE the meatloaf from the oven and drain the fat. Cool completely before slicing into 12 slices.

    4. BLEND the mayonnaise and mustard. Split the rolls and top each bottom bun with 1 tablespoon of the spread plus lettuce, 2 tomato slices, 2 meatloaf slices and 2 provolone slices. Top with the roll tops, and serve the sandwiches with potato salad or French fries.
     

    ONE SANDWICH, SO MANY NAMES

    Hero is the New York term for the sandwich also called the grinder, hoagie, po’ boy, torpedo, submarine, zeppelin and other names, depending on region.

    The term “hero” originated in the late 19th century when the sandwich was created to serve Italian laborers, who wanted the convenient lunch they had enjoyed in Italy. The name is credited to New York Herald Tribune food writer Clementine Paddleford, who wrote that “you needed to be a hero to finish the gigantic Italian sandwich.”

    The original hero sandwich, on an oblong roll, piled on Italian cold cuts, cheese, seasonings, oil and vinegar. Varieties evolved to include the meatball hero, eggplant parmigiana and chicken parmigiana heroes.

    These days, basically, anything served on a large, oblong roll is a hero.

    The other sandwiches—grinders, hoagies, etc.—developed with regional ingredients and preferences, but also evolved to include anything served on a large, oblong roll.

    FOOD TRIVIA: The sandwich is the #1 homemade dish.
     
      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Oscar Party Sushi

    If your Oscar party will include sushi, how about a platter that looks like a director’s slate?

    This fun idea comes from SushiShop, which isn’t selling the “director’s slate” platters but developed this as part of an advertising campaign.

    You can make it yourself with:

  • 10 pieces of salmon nigiri (fish atop rice pads)
  • 10 pieces of tamago nigiri (egg custard)
  • 24 pieces of pieces of black caviar roll in green soy wrappers (or a cucumber wrap), topped with a dab of green mayonnaise (or a piece of edamame)
  •  
    Your local sushi restaurant can create this for you, or work with you to create a different design with different sushi varieties (check them out in our beautiful Sushi Glossary).

     

    sushi-directors-slate-sushishop-230

    Cut! Eat! Photo courtesy SushiShop.com.

     

    Unless you’re a mogul, you can buy affordable black lumpfish caviar or black capelin caviar. We found 12 ounces for $29.99 and $14.95, respectively, on Amazon.

    Check out the different types of caviar.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Applesauce & Applesauce Bar

    applesauce-bar-USApple-230

    Set up an “applesauce bar” for breakfast,
    dessert or snacking. Photo courtesy U.S.
    Apple.

     

    Mom always made applesauce from scratch. Her apple of choice was the McIntosh, and she cooked them with the peel. It generated a pretty pink color when strained through a food mill.

    When we first had commercial applesauce from a jar (that would be you, Mott’s) at a friend’s house, we couldn’t believe the difference in flavor and texture. That is to say, Mom’s was the winner by far.

    For breakfast, lunch or a healthful dessert or snack, set up an apple sauce bar with custom toppings.

    We share our Mom’s stove top recipe—so easy!—as well as a slow cooker recipe from the U.S. Apple Association.

    If you’re avoiding refined sugar, you can cook the apples without sugar and sweeten the cooled applesauce with a noncaloric sweetener, agave, honey, etc.

    TOPPINGS BAR

  • Fruit: fresh berries; dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raisins
  • Nuts, raw or toasted: almonds, walnuts
  • Seeds: chia, flax seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds
  • Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice
  • Sweeteners: agave, honey, maple syrup
  •  

    RECIPE: JOAN HOCHMAN’S APPLESAUCE

    This applesauce is delicious in its natural state, but if you like to experiment you can try adding spices or lemon zest. Test your preference by seasoning half the batch after you remove it from the heat.

    We easily devoured the two quarts of applesauce in a week; but if it’s too much for you, rather than reduce the recipe, stick it in the freezer. It freezes beautifully.

    Ingredients For 2 Quarts

  • 4 pounds McIntosh apples
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (add another 1/4 cup if the apples aren’t sweet enough)
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg or lemon zest, or a combination
  •  
    Preparation

    1. QUARTER and seed the apples; don’t peel. Add to a pot of boiling water that covers the apples, top the pot with the lid, reduce the heat to simmer and cook slowly, until the apples are mushy, about 15 minutes.

    2. TASTE and adjust the sugar if needed. If the texture is too thick for you, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the desired thickness is reached. After adjusting either, re-boil for a second or two to blend.

    3. LET cool. Process through a food mill. (If you remove the peel before cooking, you can pulse in a food processor). Serve at room temperature and refrigerate the extra.

     

    RECIPE: SLOW COOKER VANILLA APPLESAUCE

    Ingredients For 3-3/4 Cups

  • 3 pounds apples, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 pinch salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the peeled apple chunks in the slow cooker and sprinkle with sugar, lemon, vanilla and salt. Stir to mix. Cover the cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.

    2. UNCOVER the cooker and use a potato masher to coarsely mash the apples. For a really smooth sauce, you can purée in a food processor or blender, or use a food mill. Be careful when handling the hot apples and juice, cover the lid of the processor or blender with a folded towel and hold it closed as you turn on the machine.

    3. TRANSFER the applesauce to sterilized jars and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

     

    apple-macintosh-230

    McIntosh apples, Mom’s favorites for applesauce. Photo courtesy Baldor Food.

     

    APPLE STATISTICS

    The U.S. Apple Association tells us that the United States has approximately 7,500 apple producers who grow nearly 200 varieties of apples, on approximately 328,000 acres. Nearly 100 varieties are in commercial production; the remainder are heirloom varieties grown in backyards and small-scale farming, generally sold at farmers’ markets.

    The 2013 crop was estimated at 248.6 million bushels, with a wholesale value of the U.S. apple crop is more than $2.7 billion. Sixty-seven percent of the crop is grown for fresh consumption and 33% goes for processing (applesauce, pie filling, juice, fresh slices, etc.).

    Apples are grown commercially in 32 states. The top ten apple producing states are, in order of size of crop:

  • Washington
  • New York
  • Michigan
  • Pennsylvania
  • California
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Ohio
  • Idaho
  •  
    The Top 10 apple varieties grown in the U.S. are, in order of crop size:

  • Red Delicious
  • Gala
  • Golden Delicious
  • Fuji
  • Granny Smith
  • McIntosh
  • Honeycrisp
  • Rome
  • Empire
  • Cripps Pink (Pink Lady)
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Poke

    tuna-poke_petesseafoodclub-230

    Classic tuna poke. You can buy it ready-to-serve from Pete’s Seafood Club.

     

    Hannah Kaminsky is on a food safari in Hawaii, the land of abundant produce and poke.

    Poke is a raw fish and vegetable dish served as an appetizer or salad course in Hawaiian cuisine. A relative of ceviche, crudo, tartare and tataki, it’s a combination of raw fish and vegetables that becomes a salad appetizer.

    Actually pronounced poe-KEH, it is mis-pronounced poe-KEY by enough people that the latter pronunciation is becoming an accepted alternative.

    Poke is Hawaiian for “to section” or “to slice or cut.” The most popular recipe, ahi poke, is made with yellowfin tuna marinated in sea salt, soy sauce, roasted crushed candlenut (inamona), sesame oil, limu seaweed and chopped chili pepper. Alternatively, it is served sashimi-style with wasabi and soy sauce.

    Other types of tuna can be substituted for the ahi, or you can use a different seafood entirely: Raw salmon and octopus are popular. Vegetarians can substitute tofu.

     
    In less civilized times, some Hawaiians would suck the flesh off the bones and spit out the skin and bones. During the 19th century, mainland vegetables such as tomatoes and onions (now Maui onions) were included were introduced, and are now common ingredients.

    Other accompanying condiments include furikake seasoning*, garlic, hot sauce (such as sambal olek), ogonori (ogo) or other seaweed, sesame seeds and tobiko (flying fish roe).

     
    *Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of rice. It typically consists of a mixture of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt and MSG. There are different blends, including Ebi Fumi Furikake, Katsuo Fumi Furikake, Nori Fumi Furikake, Noritamago Furikake, Salmon Furikake, Seto Fumi Furikake, Shiso Fumi Furikake and Wasabi Fumi Furikake. You can find them at Asian food stores or online.

     

    RECIPE: POKE TOFU

    How about a variation for vegetarians? This recipe was “ever so slightly adapted from Aloha Tofu,” by Hannah Kaminsky. “Like some of the best dishes,” says Hannah, “this one couldn’t be simpler to prepare.”

    The is a classic dish made by the tofu masters themselves. Their rendition adheres very closely to the traditional fish-based formula, substituting fried tofu cubes for the raw fish—a move that should appease those who can appreciate tofu well enough, but not so much that they care to eat it raw.

    The finished dish is sold in their brand new eatery, but since I didn’t have a chance to scope out that scene as well, I’m grateful that the full recipe is published on their website as well. No strings attached, no gimmicks or marketing ploys; just the desire to share their tofu and new ways to enjoy it. Now that’s the Aloha Spirit in action.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Side Appetizer Servings

  • 1 package (12 ounces) deep fried tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped ogo limu seaweed (substitute hijijki)
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch crushed red repper flakes, to taste
  •  

    tofu-poke-kaminsky-230

    Tofu poke. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

     
    Preparation

    1. TOSS the tofu, all of the chopped vegetables, and seasonings together in a large bowl. Thoroughly combine all of the ingredients and coat them with the marinade.

    2. COVER and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving, or up to a day. Serve cold.
     
    Variations like this have inspired other recipes. Ko Olina’s Pizza Corner restaurant in Kapolei, Hawaii serves an Original Hawaiian Poke Pizza.

    We look forward to trying it!

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: The Flying Meatballs

    open-package-ps-230

    Six large meatballs are tucked under a
    blanket of smooth tomato sauce. Photo by
    Faith Tomases | THE NIBBLE.

     

    There is a National Meatball Day: It’s coming up soon, on March 9th. And we know just how we’re going to celebrate: with lots and lots of The Flying Meatballs.

    The Flying Meatballs is a side business established by an elegant restaurant in Whippany, New Jersey, Il Capriccio. The restaurant’s meatballs have been a perennial menu favorite, with patrons always asking for orders to go.

    The Grande family, owners of the restaurant, decided that the meatballs were ideal for selling directly to consumers—that they would literally “fly off the shelves.” Hence the brand name.

    Made in small batches, the meatballs are now sold direct-to-consumers at TheFlyingMeatballs.com). They’ll also be at a growing list of deli counters, currently at Balducci’s and King’s (listen up, Fairway!).

    Six meatballs, blanketed in sauce, include a choice of:

  • The Classic Meatballs, a 50:50 blend of beef and veal, $16.00
  • 100% Premium Beef Meatballs, $15.00
  • Organic Grass-Fed Meatballs, $25.00
  • The Three Meats Meatballs—beef, pork and veal—$15.00
  • 100% Premium Turkey Meatballs, $15.00
  •  
    The company sent us a sample of each, and we’re now a raving fan. Each order of meatballs is packed by the half-dozen in a velvety tomato sauce. The meatballs are bit: about 3.5 ounces in weight and about three inches in diameter. Two meatballs is more than enough for adults; small eaters and children will do well with one meatball. A big eater, we consumed them without the conventional pasta or submarine roll, with just a big salad. We were more than satisfied.

    Everything is made from scratch, including the breadcrumbs. Just as at the restaurant, prime, natural cuts of meat and premium ingredients are combined into a dense yet tender texture. You get lots of great meat for the money.

    Chef Grande has a degree in engineering, which enabled him to design and build a proprietary meatball extruder. The technology creates a replicate a perfectly hand-rolled meatball, just like his grandmother makes.

    The meatballs are flash frozen after being made and keep their flavor and consistency until thawed and cooked.

    “We’re bringing the comforts of Nonna’s kitchen to customers’ doorsteps,” says chef Natale Grande. The recipe, handed down through generations, rocks. We must give a shout out to the wonderful sauce. A velvety purée, more a gravy than a conventional chunky sauce, it is so good we would like to buy buckets of it and put it on everything.

     

    DELICIOUS ACCOMPANIMENTS

    Pasta

    The company also sells premium imported pastas from Rustichella d’Abruzzo:

  • The curly al torchio (the torchio is the press that shapes them)
  • Bucatini, thick spaghetti with a hollow center
  • Casarecce, meaning “homestyle,” two-inch twists
  • Farro (spelt) penne rigate, short tubes with ridges
  • Fusilli, “little spindles,” a variation of corkscrew pasta
  • Spaghetti, the oldest cut (the name means “lengths of cords”)
  • Organic whole wheat spaghetti
  • Organic kamut pasta from pasta maker Gianluigi Peduzzi
  •  
    Grating Cheeses

    For a primo pasta experience, there’s a choice of six aged Italian cheeses:

     

    flying-meatballs-plated-230L

    Bundles of love. Photo courtesy The Flying Meatballs.

  • Vacche Rosse (“Red Cow”), 30 months aged), considered to be the finest Parmigiaino-Reggiano
  • Grana padano
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Percorino crotonese
  • Pecorino romano
  • Ricotta salata
  •  
    You can see that it’s not all about Parmigiano-Reggiano. The next time you make pasta, consider one of the others. Check out our article, Italian Grating Cheeses.
     
    Pasta Sauces

    The same is true with the sauce. Much as a tomato sauce is beloved on pasta, consider other favorites from the Grande family, including:

  • Basil pesto
  • Classic tomato ragu (the signature San Marzano-based tomatoes sauce that envelopes the meatballs
  • Roasted garlic and broccoli rabe purée
  • Mascarpone fondu, a smooth and very creamy cheese sauce made from blend of mascarpone cheese and 18-month-aged Grana Padano cheese
  •  
    Along with some fine olive oils and a mac and cheese (a blend of Gruyère, provolone and marscopone with a touch of nutmeg over imported gemelli pasta—we can’t wait to try it), TheFlyingMeatballs.com is a treasure trove for delicious Italian comfort food.

    For a treat or a gift (the packaging is quite attractive), order a slew of meatballs. All are delicious, although our personal favorite was the complex layering of Three Meats.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Hot Chocolate From Scratch

    hot-chocolate-moonstruck--230

    Delicious Moonstruck chocolate bars melted
    into milk for hot chocolate. Photo courtesy
    Moonstruck.

     

    It’s below zero in quite a few areas of the country today. As we write this, in Fargo it’s 2°F, with the wind chill making it feel like -18°. In our own municipality, New York City, it’s 14°F, with a wind chill taking us to -3°, going down to -20° tomorrow morning. In the Hudson Valley north of us, the wind chill is -25° to -35° degrees. At JFK Airport, it’s -40°F.

    Yes, it’s colder here than in Fargo!

    So some warming comfort food is required. We recommend hot chocolate made from scratch.

    No matter how much you enjoy hot chocolate from packets—even the pricier ones—making it from scratch produces a far superior product. It’s richer and more chocolaty, with a sweetness level you can adapt and your choice of milk (lactose free, nondairy, whatever).

    EASY HOT CHOCOLATE FROM SCRATCH

    Unwrap a bar of your favorite good-quality chocolate (or leftover solid Valentine chocolate) in a mug of steamed milk. Like hot chocolate on a stick, you stir until the chocolate melts.

    If you don’t have a steamer, just heat the mil

     
    k in the microwave. A mug with 6 ounces of steamed or heated milk can accommodate a small chocolate bar of around 1.2 to 1.4 ounces. A thin bar will melt very rapidly; a chunk of a thicker bar will melt much more slowly.

    Mora Iced Creamery, on Bainbridge Island outside Seattle, serves something like this called a Submarino” in a glass mug. The chocolate “submarine” melts and turn the “oceand” from white to chocolate brown.

    In Columbus, Ohio, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams serves a variation called Hot Chocolate Soup: hot chocolate in a café au lait bowl, served with animal crackers and a handmade marshmallow.

    Art Pollard of Amano Artisan Chocolate in Utah favors a Chocolate & Cream, a preparation of 2 ounces of his delicious chocolate bars melted into a mug’s worth of whole milk combined with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream.

    The City Bakery in New York City adds two tablespoons of butter instead of the heavy cream. (Try it if you like things really rich.)

    When you use actual chocolate, including ground chocolate (often labeled as drinking chocolate) instead of cocoa powder, you are making hot chocolate. Here’s the difference between cocoa and hot chocolate.

     

    RECIPE: HOT CHOCOLATE FROM SCRATCH

    Ingredients Per Large Cup/Mug

  • 2-3 ounces of your favorite semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or as chips
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk*
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream* of water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream, marshmallow or
    marshmallow creme
  •  
    *You can substitute lowfat or nonfat milk. The drink will simply be less rich. Similarly, you can substitute light cream or half and half for the heavy cream.
     
    Preparation

     

    mocha-hot-chocolate-red-cups-mccormick-230

    Hot chocolate can be customized in dozens of flavors, from banana to raspberry. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    1. COMBINE the chocolate, cocoa and sugar to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Cover and process in ten second bursts at high speed just until finely ground (a few larger chunks of chocolate are O.K.).

    2. HEAT 3/4 cup whole milk plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or 3/4 cup milk plus 2 tablespoons of water) in a small, nonreactive saucepan. If using the cream mixture, stir frequently, preferably with a small whisk, until the mixture is steaming hot. If using water, the mixture should be almost at a boil.

    3. ADD the processed chocolate mixture. Whisk in well until it is dissolved and the mixture is steaming hot.

    4. GARNISH as desired and serve immediately. Yields one large or two more reasonable servings
     
    Here are 30 different ways to alter the recipe.
     
    MORE HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPES

  • Bailey’s Irish Cream Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Banana Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Chai Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Ice Cream Float Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Spiced Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • Tequila Hot Chocolate Recipe
  • White Hot Chocolate Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Drink Pink

    chandon-rose-bottle-glasses-230

    Chandon California Rosé is a sparkling rosé wine that’s less than half the price ($24) of a French rosé Champagne. The company also makes Sparkling Red from Zinfandel ($30), Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé ($35) and Etoile Rosé ($50). Photo courtesy Chandon.

     

    Heading out to the liquor store to pick up a bottle for Valentine’s Day? Here are some tips:

    Don’t purchase a vintage year Champagne. Vintage champagnes typically need to be laid down for 10 or 15 years to reveal their glorious nuances. Knowledgeable people who buy them don’t plan to drink them anytime soon. Instead, you’ll save money and have a better taste experience with nonvintage Champagne.

    Do look for rosé Champagne, as “real” pink-hued Champagne is called. Fuller in body with a deeper flavor, it’s our personal favorite. (It’s also pricier due to the extra steps required to extract the pink color. Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé is a beauty, with the greater roundness that rosé Champagnes have. It’s priced in between the nonvintage and vintage Taittingers, around $65.00.

    Don’t buy anything called “Pink Champagne.” It is not French but inexpensive wine, carbonated and colored pink. Authentic rosé Champagne (and other natural rosé wines) get their color by extracting it from the grape skins into the white juice.

    Do look for non-Champagne rose sparklers. Two of our favorites: [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy. Both are not much more than $10 a bottle, but don’t let the price fool you. They’re delicious! Another favorite, Chandon Rosé, from California is about $22.00.

     
    If you want Champagne with dessert, look for a sec- or demi-sec Champagne*. These are vinified for sweeter foods (i.e., extra dosage is added for sweetness). Brut Champagnes are not vinified to pair with desserts, and will seem too astringent if you drink them with sweeter foods. Sec Champagnes also go well with foods that typically pair with sweeter wines, such as foie gras, lobster and double-creme/triple creme cheeses (our idea of a perfect meal).

    If you don’t want sparkling wine, buy rosé, a pink still wine.

    MORE VALENTINE WINE IDEAS

    Here are some of our favorite Valentine wines.

    More of our favorite rosé Champagnes.

    Whatever is in your glass, have a delicious Valentine’s Day.

     
    *While sec means “dry” in French and demi-sec means “half dry,” as the terms refer to Champagne, they indicates sweetness.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Valentine Cake

    If time has gotten away from you and you haven’t picked up a special treat for the family, here’s a trick from one of our favorite New York bakeries, BakedNYC.

    Buy a plain, iced store-bought cake and add your own decorating touch. It combines store-bought with “homemade.”

    While you can buy a Valentine cake at any supermarket, most have tacky plastic decorations. You can do a much nicer job by adding your own delicious decorations to a plain frosted cake.

  • Sprinkles. Your supermarket may have Valentine sprinkles (a mix of red, pink and white) or heart-shaped sprinkle decorations. If not, get bottles of plain red and white sprinkles.
  • Candies. Or, head to the candy section for chocolate foil hearts, Conversation Hearts, pink and red jelly beans, Hershey’s kisses, red hots or anything else that fits in with the theme.
  • Fresh fruit. How about chocolate-dipped strawberries or raspberries? Here’s how to dip your own. Otherwise, add them plain. If you have enough, dot them around the rim. Otherwise, you can place them in the center.
  •  

    white-layer-valentine-cake-bakenyc-230

    Add your own decorating touch to a plain iced cake. Photo courtesy BakedNYC.

  • Rim garnish. At a minimum, add a rim of garnish to the top of the cake. Sprinkles or Red Hots work well.
  • Base garnish. To go all-out, place Hershey’s Kisses (you can leave the festive foil on), conversation hearts or chocolate foil hearts around the base, instead of the piped frosting shown in the photo.
  •  

    BAKING YOUR OWN CAKE

    If you want to bake, you don’t need to make layers. Buy a box of cake mix (chocolate, red velvet, white or yellow) and toss a bundt cake, loaf cake or single-layer mini sheet cake into the oven.

    About the icing:

    The bakery section of your supermarket may sell tubs of buttercream (CK Products makes it). It’s not as good as homemade, but it’s far better than canned frosting.

    Or, take 10 minutes to make real buttercream. All you need is a stick of butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 ounces chocolate or 1 teaspoon instant coffee. Just blend them together and ice away!

    Here’s the recipe.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE RECIPE: Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake

    choc-rasp-bundt-cake-annalise-goboldwithbutter-230

    Chocolate and raspberries are a match made
    in heaven. Photo courtesy Annalise | Completely Celicious.

     

    Here’s another delicious Valentine recipe from Annalise of Completely Delicious, sent to us via GoBoldWithButter.com.

    Everyone thinks they’re getting a conventional chocolate cake, until slicing it reveals the raspberry surprise. This combination of chocolate and fresh raspberries in a buttery Bundt cake is a match made in heaven (just like you and your Valentine?).

    The raspberries blend into the cake as it bakes, creating little bursts of bright flavor to contrast with the rich chocolate.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY BUNDT CAKE

    Ingredients For A 9-Inch Cake

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • Garnish: powdered sugar
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream*
  • Optional garnish: fresh raspberries
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch bundt pan.

    2. COMBINE the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda in medium bowl. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing after each, and stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk, scraping down bowl as needed.

    3. SPOON the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the raspberries on top (they will sink as the cake bakes). Bake 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs.

    4. LET the cake cool completely in the pan, then turn out onto a plate or cake stand. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with whipped cream and additional raspberries.

     
    *For more raspberry flavor, add a tablespoon of Chambord or other raspberry liqueur into the whipped cream.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Ravioli With Pan Roasted Tomatoes

    This recipe from is easy and inviting for Valentine’s Day. It’s from blogger Annalise of Completely Delicious, via GoBoldWithButter.com.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 20 minutes.

    RECIPE: RAVIOLI WITH PAN ROASTED TOMATOES

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen cheese ravioli
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  •  
    Preparation

     

    ravioli-tomatoes-annalise-goboldwithbutter-230

    An easy Valentine dinner. Photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter.

     
    1. BRING a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the ravioli according to package instructions. Drain.

    2. MELT the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, while the ravioli are cooking. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook the tomatoes until their skins split, about 4-6 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes to rotate tomatoes.

    3. ADD the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the drained ravioli and toss with the tomatoes until combined.

    4. GARNISH with basil and serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.

      

    Comments

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