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TIP OF THE DAY: Sgroppino

Hot enough for you? Cool off with sgroppino.

 
THE HISTORY OF SGROPPINO

Sgroppino (sgro-PEA-no), which originated in Venice, is a refreshing, frothy sorbet cocktail: a slushy combination of lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco.

It’s served as a digestif (after-dinner drink) or liquid dessert. You don’t want very sweet drinks before a formal European-style dinner, but it works with hot and spicy cuisines. Sgroppino is no sweeter than a frozen Margarita.

Sgroppino was created by an anonymous kitchen servant in 16th century Venice. At that time, only wealthy households had the means to keep an ice house* and the staff to make sorbet (sorbetto in Italian) by hand.

In the Venetian dialect the drink is called sgropin from the verb sgropàre, which means to untie a small knot. The reference is to the knots in one’s stomach following at the multi-course dinners of the wealthy. A sweet drink was believed to aid in digestion; hence the after-dinner liqueur.

Sgroppino was also served as a palate cleanser† to refresh the taste buds between the fish and meat courses as well. This “intermezzo,” used to cleanse the palate of fish before moving onto meat, is still served at some fine restaurants today.

The classic was made by whisking softened lemon sorbet with prosecco until frothy (it was described as “whipped snow,” although today we call it a slush).

The recipe evolved to include limoncello, sambuca or vodka. Today it can be both liqueur and vodka.

More modern variations substitute grapefruit, orange or strawberry sorbetto. If a larger percentage of sorbetto is added, you get a thicker drink.

In its simplest form, it’s a scoop of sorbet topped with Prosecco, or vice versa.

The drink separates if left to stand, so in Italy the waiter will often prepare the drink at tableside.

RECIPE: SGROPPINO, AN ALCOHOLIC LEMON SLUSH

You can serve sgroppino in a martini glass, coupe, flute or wine glass…or those “sherbet Champagne” glasses‡, designed for Marie Antoinette but not actually good for serving sparkling wine.

   
Sgroppino

Pomegranate Sgroppino

[1] If only every bar and restaurant served these (photo courtesy What’s Cooking America. [2] Chef Bikeski adds pomegranate arils for a bit of color.

 
Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/3 cup lemon sorbet
  • 3 ounces prosecco
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon liqueur—Limoncello; orange liqueur; sambucca, pastas or other anise liqueur
  • Optional garnish: citrus curl or zest, fresh mint, pomegranate arils, micro-herbs
  •  

    Lime Sgroppino

    [3] Some people prefer the cocktail to be separated. In this version, from Zoetrecepten, a scoop of lime sorbet is added to the top of the alcohol.

     

    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the sorbet and a splash of prosecco until fully blended, using a cocktail shaker or a stainless steel bowl. Continue whisking while slowly pouring in the vodka and prosecco.

    2. If using a liqueur, you can blend it with the vodka or drizzle it, Venice-style, into the center of the glass right before serving.

    3. SERVE immediately. The drink will separate as it stands, so provide iced tea spoons or straws so people can re-blend as desired. If you take the modern approach of adding sorbet on top of the alcohol, you save the trouble of whisking!

    Some mixologists don’t blend the drink in the first place. Instead, they place the scoop of sorbet on top of the alcohol (see photo 3). So separation is not a bad thing, but a choice.
     
    Tips

  • Do not use a blender, but hand-whisk this drink.
  • If you don’t have a whisk that’s small enough, get this graduated set. The smallest is handy for whisking instant cocoa that doesn’t dissolve. They’re inexpensive: here’s a set on Amazon.
  • Don’t add extra alcohol or the drink will be too liquid.
  •  
    ALSO SEE OUR ARTICLE ON ALCOHOLIC SLUSHIES.

     
    ___________________

    *Before refrigeration, only the wealthy could afford to have ice cut from lakes and rivers in the winter and stored in ice houses for summer use. The oldest known ice house, built by a king in Persia, dates from about 1700 B.C.E. Most other people dug ice pits, lined with straw and sawdust as insulation. While commercial refrigeration was available by the late 1800s, the home refrigerator didn’t arrive until 1930. Prior to then, the wealthy as well as the middle class used an insulated metal “ice box,” which held a large block of ice delivered from the “ice man” to keep perishables cold. When the ice melted, it was replaced.

    †The tartness and citrus acid of lemon sorbet clear the taste buds. Citric acid elicits salivation, which aids in cleansing the palate. Lemons and limes have the highest level of citric acid, which can constitute as much as .3 mol/L, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. By comparison, grapefruits and oranges have just .005 mol/L (source). Passionfruit also can work. It has 38.7 mg/100g compared to 30 mg/100g (source).

    ‡“Sherbet champagne” glasses were purportedly designed by Marie Antoinette, who had them molded after the shape of her breasts. Here’s a photo. They are rarely made anymore, as modern knowledge shows that a wide mouth-glass is not appropriate for sparkling wine: It lets the bubbles escape that much more quickly. But if you have these glasses, they’re just fine for serving sorbet, fruit cocktail and other foods…or sgroppino.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Create A Signature Niçoise Salad

    Niçoise (nee-SWAHZ) refers to something from the city of Nice, on the French Riviera in the region of Provence.

    You can find the following popular Niçoise dishes in restaurants around the U.S., and they’re easy to make at home (except for the truffle omelet, which is easy to make if you can afford the truffles):

  • Aïoli, a garlic mayonnaise used as a spread, dip and condiment with potatoes, shellfish and vegetables (aïoli recipe).
  • Alcohol: The local favorites are pastis, an anise liqueur and apéritif; and rosé wine.
  • Bouillabaisse, the signature dish of Marseille. It’s fish stew with vegetables, garnished with croutons and rouille*).
  • Daube, beef stew braised in red wine and served with polenta or gnocchi (influences from neighbor Italy).
  • Fromage de chèvre, goat cheese, fresh and aged.
  • Nougat, the chewy white confection made from egg whites and almonds.
  • Omelette aux truffes, made with black truffles harvested in Provence from November through March.
  • Ratatouille, a casserole of tomatoes, onions, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, garlic and herbs.
  • Tapenade, a spread made from anchovies, capers and black olives.
  • And then, there’s Salade Niçoise (Niçoise Salad in English).

    The classic Salade Niçoise recipe is a composed salad (i.e., not tossed, but placed) of tomatoes, tuna (cooked or canned), hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives and in season, young haricots verts (French green beans). It is served with a Dijon vinaigrette, and can be served with or without a bed of salad greens. It is an entrée salad.

    Each cook can customize the salad to his or her taste. We’ve included optional extra ingredients below.
     
    RECIPE: SALADE NIÇOISE

    This take on the classic Niçoise salad from McCormick uses two twists: a poached egg and a zesty seasoning blend (the recipe is in the footnote below).
     
    Ingredients For 6 Servings

    For The Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning blend†
  •  
    For The Tuna

  • 1 rectangular piece (6 ounces) sashimi-grade ahi tuna loin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarse grind
  • 4 teaspoons seasoning blend†
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •  
    For The Tuna & Salad

  • 6 each baby yellow, red and purple new potatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh French green beans (haricot verts), trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup assorted grape/teardrop tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced baby cucumbers
  •  

    Salade Nicoise
     
    Nicoise Salad

    Kale Nicoise Salad

    Deconstructed Nicoise Salad

    [1] A classic Salade Niçoise from French chef Jacques Payard. [2] McCormick’s version substitutes a poached egg for the traditional hard-boiled. [3] Trending in America: Kale Niçoise (photo Williams-Sonoma). [4] Deconstructed Niçoise at the Seafire Grill.

  • 1/4 cup pitted Niçoise olives, halved (substitute picholine, kalamata or other flavorful black olive)
  •  
    Serve With…

  • Plain sliced baguette with olive oil for dipping (add herbs to the oil)
  • Garlic bread
  •  
    ________________
    *Rouille (roo-EE, the word for rust in French) is a sauce made from olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and red chiles, which give it the rusty orange color. It is served as a garnish with fish and fish soup, and is an essential with bouillabaisse, the signature fish stew dish of Marseille.

    †Substitute another spice blend or some lemon zest. McCormick’s spice blend recipe is 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 2 teaspoons grated lime peel, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder. Blend and store tightly capped in the fridge. Makes 2-1/2 tablespoons.

     

    l-isola-d-oro-jar-lisoladoro.it-230

    Anchovies

    [1] L’isolo D’Oro, a fine Mediterranean used in Nice in the best salads in Nice. [2] Anchovy lovers: layer them on (photo courtesy Flavor Your Life).

      Preparation

    1. MAKE the vinaigrette. Place the oil, vinegar, mustard and sea salt in a blender container; cover. Blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into a small bowl. Stir in the seasoning blend. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

    2. SEASON the tuna with salt and pepper. Coat with the seasoning blend, pressing firmly so the mixture adheres to the tuna. Grill or sear: Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the tuna and sear 1-1/2 to 2 minutes on all sides. Remove the tuna to a plate; set aside to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    3. COOK the potatoes. Add them to a large saucepan with simmering salted water to cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain on paper towels to remove the water. Meanwhile…

    4. COOK the green beans in a large saucepan of simmering salted water to cover, 3 to 5 minutes or until tender-crisp (don’t overcook). Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well on paper towels. Place in large bowl with green beans. Add 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.

    5. CUT the potatoes in half or quarters, depending on size. Add to a bowl with the green beans.

    6. POACH the eggs. Fill a large, deep saucepan with 2 inches of water and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Bring to boil and reduce the heat to medium. Break 1 egg into a small dish and carefully slide it into the simmering water (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach the eggs 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken. Carefully remove eggs with slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

    7. SERVE: Slice the tuna into thin slices. Divide the potato mixture, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives among 6 plates (aim for an attractive presentation). Top each with tuna slices and a poached egg. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the tuna slices. Sprinkle the egg with additional seasoning blend.

     
    OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS FOR A NIÇOISE SALAD

    Make it your own with added ingredients or substitutes. Just keep the five basics: tuna, tomato, egg, green beans and olives, plus the vinaigrette.

  • Cooked vegetables: broccoli florets, broccolini or broccoli rabe.
  • Greens: arugula, bell pepper, carrots, celery, cress, cucumber, fennel, fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, mint, parsley), frisée, kale, radicchio, radishes.
  • Tomatoes: Substitute halved cherry or quartered larger tomatoes (in the off season, substitute sundried tomatoes in olive oil or roasted red pepper).
  • Onions: green (scallions), grilled onions, red, shallot, sweet onions.
  • Proteins: anchovies, bacon, beans or lentils, canned or grilled salmon or other grilled fish, sardines.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ratatouille Pizza

    Ratatouille (rah-tah-TWEE) is a vegetable side dish that originated in the Provence region of France. The classic recipe consists of sautéed eggplant, onions, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini plus garlic and herbs.

    It is traditionally summer dish, when tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash are plentiful and at peak.

    Ratatouille is delightfully colorful when you use red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers and tomatoes/cherry tomatoes. To make ratatouille as a side dish, check out this recipe.
     
    RECIPE: RATATOUILLE PIZZA

    Ingredients For 1 Large Pizza

    You can save time by purchasing the dough or a prepared crust (we sure did—and saved half the steps in the preparation). But Lisa, of Flour De Lisa made hers from scratch, using a pizza dough recipe from Bobby Flay. She adapted the ratatouille from Smitten Kitchen; we further adapted it.

    This can be a vegan recipe; but we adapted it by adding both ricotta and mozzarella. We put the mozzarella under the vegetables to showcase the colors. We also created a breakfast pizza version by adding eggs, which bake on top of the pizza.

    Without the cheese, the recipe is dairy free and low fat. Use a whole wheat crust and skim-milk cheeses and you have a pizza that’s on the “better for you” list.
     
    Ingredients For The Dough

  • 1-3/4 to 2 cups flour (bread flour for a crisper* crust, all-purpose for chewier)
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water (around 100°F)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  •  
    For The Ratatouille

    Slice the vegetables to a width of 1/8 to 1/16th inch.

  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 Japanese eggplant
  • 1 long red bell pepper or 6 mini red bell peppers
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Red pepper or chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Capers and/or olives
  • Small or medium eggs
  • Herbs: fresh basil*, rosemary, thyme, other
  •  
    For The Optional Cheese Layer

  • 2 cups whole or part skim ricotta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful† flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella or provolone
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup, shredded
  •  

    Ratatouille

    Fried Egg Ratatouille

    ratatouille-theformerchef-230r

    Tian Recipe

    [1] Ratatouille pizza (photo courtesy FlourDeLisa.Wordpress.com). [2] Bake eggs on top of the pizza, or fry or poach them in a pan to turn a ratatouille side into a main (photo courtesy Elegant Affairs Caterers. [3] courtesy TheFormerChef.com. [4] A tian, also from Provence, is another way to enjoy ratatouille ingredients (All-Clad gratin pan photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma.)

     
    ________________
    *You can scatter 10 medium basil leaves or 1/2 cup shredded basil atop the pizza when it comes out of the oven.

    †A handful is one of those imprecise measures that says: Use how much you want. More or less of the ingredient is not critical to the recipe’s outcome.
     
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the pizza dough: Combine 1-3/4 cup flour with the yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the oil and water, i.e. slightly warmer than your body temperature. Mix until the dough starts to form a ball. scraping down the bowl. If the dough is too wet, slowly add more flour. If dough becomes too dry, slowly add more water.

    2. TURN out the dough onto a lightly floured or oiled surface. Knead for a few minutes until it is smooth and elastic. When you poke it, the dough should spring back readily; when you hold the ball of between your palms, it should hold its shape. Lightly oil a clean bowl, place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. While waiting for the dough to rise…

    3. MAKE the ratatouille. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, minced garlic, sliced onion and a dash of red pepper flakes on the bottom of a 8- or 9-inch diameter springform pan. Alternatively, you can cook the ratatouille on top of the rolled out pizza dough, but the vegetables won’t be as tender or flavorful due to the significantly less cooking time.

    Optional cooking method: We steamed the vegetables separately to al dente, and then were able to pick them up with fingers and layer them perfectly, as in the photo.

    4. LAYER on top of the tomato paste mixture the zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and bell pepper, alternating the colors. Start with the inside perimeter and move inward. If you have extra vegetable, save them for a salad, omelet, etc. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the assembled ratatouille. Season with a dash of salt and pepper and thyme or rosemary. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes, increasing the temperature of the oven to as high as possible (450°F or 500°F on most ovens) within the last 5-10 minutes. While the ratatouille is baking…

    5. TURN back to the pizza dough. When the first rise is completed, turn out the dough onto a large sheet of lightly floured or oiled parchment paper. Punch out the air and form a disk. Roll out the dough into a circle about 10-12 inches in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

    6. MIX the ricotta with the garlic, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

    7. REMOVE the finished ratatouille from the oven, uncover the pizza dough and place it on a baking sheet. Parbake the pizza dough for a minute or two and remove from the oven. If using ricotta, spread it over the crust, followed by the mozzarella. If you prefer, use the mozzarella to top the pizza.

    8. RELEASE the springform pan carefully—it can be hot! Use one or two spatulas two to gently slide the ratatouille onto the center of the pizza. If you can do it evenly, great. If not, it will still taste delicious. Lightly brush the exposed pizza crust with olive oil.

    9. BAKE the pizza for 8-12 minutes, until the pizza crust is a golden brown. Slice and serve.
     
    CRISPER VS. CRISPIER

    Many people use the adjective crispier when they mean crisp.

  • Crisper is the comparative of crisp, i.e., “The crust is crisp but I’ll make it crisper next time.
  • Crispier is the comparative of crispy, i.e., the crust was nice and crispy but could have been even crispier.
  •  
    It’s a small difference, but a difference nevertheless.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Cuban Sandwich

    Cuban Sandwich

    Pressed Cuban Sandwich

    Cuban Sandwich

    [1] The Cuban Sandwich: composed but not yet pressed (photo courtesy National Cuban Sandwich Day | Facebook). [2] The sandwiches are pressed under hot irons. You can use your George Foreman grill or a panini press (photo courtesy Florida Girl Linda C | Flickr. [3] The crust is now crunchy and the sandwich is ready to enjoy with a cold beer (photo courtesy Columbia Restaurant | Ybor City).

     

    Depending where you reside, you may never have heard of a Cuban Sandwich.

    But August 23rd is National Cuban Sandwich Day, honoring a pressed hero-type sandwich that originated in Tampa and traveled to Miami and points beyond. In fact, there’s a rivalry between the two cities over small details (check out this article on NPR.org).

    National Cuban Sandwich Day even has its own Facebook page.

    The annual Cuban Sandwich Festival in Ybor City attracts competitors from around the United States. This year’s winner is from London!

    In 2015, participating restaurants joined forces to make a 105-foot-long Cuban Sandwich, the world’s longest. Alas, we could find no photo.
     
    WHAT’S A CUBAN SANDWICH?

    The original Cuban sandwich from the Ybor City district of Tampa, Florida is a type of hero sandwich made with glazed ham, shredded roast pork, Swiss cheese, Genoa salami, dill pickle chips and yellow mustard, on Cuban bread.

    Cuban bread itself originated in Ybor City, most likely at La Joven Francesca bakery, established by a Sicilian-born baker in 1896 (it closed in 1973 and is now part of a museum). It’s a long, baguette-shaped loaf made with a bit of added fat (photo below).
     
    The Beginning

  • The late 1800s. The Cuban sandwich we know today originated in Tampa, Florida in the late 1800s, in the now historic cigar-producing neighborhood, Ybor City. The neighborhood was populated by many Cuban immigrants, who came to work in the cigar industry, as well as German cigar workers and Italian laborers.
  • The early 1900s. The sandwich achieved popularity among workers in the district’s many cigar factories. One popular eatery, Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, has been around since 1905. (It’s now an elegant restaurant, with a dolphin fountain in the courtyard.)
  •  
    Ingredients

  • While it’s called “Cuban,” the sandwich has influences from other immigrant groups, particularly the German cigar workers and Italian bricklayers in the area.
  • Genoa salami was added by Italians, who found that placing a hot brick on top of the sandwich for a few minutes pressed it flat and made it taste better—warm and crusty. This led to use of a cast iron grill press, still used today. At home, you can use a George Foreman grill or panini press (both are electric grill presses, with flat and ridged plates).
  •  

  • Mustard was a condiment preferred by the Germans. It also didn’t spoil in the Florida heat as mayonnaise could. Refrigeration was scarce in the early 20th century.
  •  

    Tampa Versus Miami

    Tampa and Miami have an ongoing a rivalry over the correct ingredients for a Cuban sandwich.

    Miami avows that salami should never be used. Plus, Miami-style Cuban sandwiches can be spread with butter!

    But there’s no doubt about the original ingredients.

    In 2012, the Tampa City Council passed a resolution designating the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich” as the “signature sandwich of the city of Tampa.”

    The Council proclaimed that a traditional Tampa Cuban is to include Cuban bread, ham, mojo-spiced pork, Genoa salami, mustard, Swiss cheese and three pickle chips.
     
    Worldwide Demand

  • By the 1970s, the Cuban Sandwich had spread to menus around the United States.
  • In 2015, the Cuban Sandwich Factory opened in Belfast, Ireland.
  • In 2016, the Tampa Cuban Sandwich Bar opened in Seoul, Korea.
  •  
    In fact, London’s Jama Cubana restaurant won first place in The World’s Best Cuban Sandwich category at the 2016 Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival (held in Tampa on March 5th). It too is newcomer, opened in 2015.
     
    MEDIANOCHE, THE CUBAN SANDWICH SIBLING

    Very similar to the Cuban Sandwich is the Medianoche (“midnight”), which originated in Cuba.

    As the name suggests, this sandwich is popular late-night fare, served in Havana’s nightclubs. It contains the same ingredients as the Cuban Sandwich—ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and dill pickles.

    However, it is smaller and uses a different bread: rolls made from an egg dough with a bit of sugar (similar to challah but a different shape).

    Like the Cuban sandwich, the medianoche is typically warmed in a press.

     

    cuban sandwich bread

    Cuban Sandwich

    [1] Cuban bread is a long loaf like a baguette, but is doughier and without the crustiness of a French or Italian loaf. Here’s the recipe to bake it at home, from The Stay At Home Chef. [2] The best Cuban Sandwich in the world is from London’s Jama Cubana restaurant.

     
    So warm up the press: Wherever you live, today’s the day to enjoy a Cuban Sandwich.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Fruits & Greens Salad

    Spinach & Strawberry Salad

    Sungold Kiwi

    [1] Spinach with kiwi, grapes, strawberries and pecans (photo courtesy Pampered Chef). [2] SunGold kiwis from Zespri are sweeter and juicier than green kiwis—and other yellow kiwis, too (photo courtesy Zespri).

     

    We eat green salads, we eat fruit salads. But why don’t we mix them together more often?

    We were inspired by this easy recipe from Pampered Chef, which does just that.

    A spinach salad with strawberries (and feta) is not news, but it’s a good place to start. This one has some added twists, and there are other fruit and greens combinations below.

     
    RECIPE: FRUIT & SPINACH SALAD

    Ingredients For 8 One-Cup Servings

    For The Salad

  • 1 package (8 ounces/227 g) fresh baby spinach (wash if not pre-washed)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) red seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (substitute other berries)
  • 1 large kiwi, peeled, sliced (look for our favorite, Zespri’s SunGold® kiwi)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) pecan halves, toasted
  • 1 kirby or Persian cucumber (Persians don’t need to be peeled)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup crumbled cheese—blue, feta, goat
  •  
    For The Dressing

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) raspberry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) seedless raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. TOAST the pecans (how to toast nuts). Pampered Chef simply heated them in the microwave without toasting, using a Small Micro-Cooker. Microwave the nuts, uncovered, on HIGH for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through. Cool completely.

    2. PLACE the greens in a large serving bowl. Add the fruit and top with the pecans.

    3. MAKE the dressing: Combine the ingredients and whisk until well blended. Drizzle ¼ cup (50 ml) over the salad and toss lightly just before serving.
     
    SALAD VARIATIONS WITH FRUIT & GREENS

  • Citrus salad, with blood oranges and pink grapefruit, butterhead lettuce (Bibb, Boston) and optional red onion.
  • Gourmet salad, with fresh lychee or rambutan, red and golden raspberry mix, fennel, radicchio and watercress.
  • Herb salad, citrus or stone fruits with basil or mint, butterhead lettuce, cilantro, dill, flat-leaf parsley (de-stemmed), mâche or purslane.
  • Melon salad, with melon balls or cubes, baby arugula, butterhead lettuce, celery, cucumber, large basil leaves.
  • Spicy salad, with citrus or berries, baby arugula, mizuna or other mustard greens, radish.
  •  
    Dressing Variations

    You can use a standard vinaigrette of oil and vinegar, but fruit and greens salads shine with:

  • Lime vinaigrette: lime juice and zest, olive oil and a teaspoon of honey.
  • Fruit-flavored vinegar or oil.
  • Fruit-flavored vinegar and chile-infused oil, for a bit of heat.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Ice Cream

    We thought about labeling this article Food Fun instead of a Tip Of The Day. After all, savory ice cream isn’t everyday fare.

    Then, we remembered that our purpose is to expand your food horizons (and impress your guests), so here goes.
     
    SAVORY ICE CREAM

    Savory ice cream flavored with cheese and/or herbs—no sugar or just a small amount—is not a new concept.

    We published a large collection of cheese ice cream recipes 11 years ago, but the savory recipes date to way before that.

    You can find recipes for formaggio gelato (cheese ice cream) and formaggio di parmigiano gelato (Parmesan ice cream) in older Italian cookbooks.

    It replaced the cheese course at the end of summer lunches, or was cut into slices and served as a first course with ham and hard-boiled eggs.

    We have several recipes, below; but the basic Italian recipe is simple:

    1. GRATE one pound of Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano (or crumble Gorgonzola; combine with one quart of heavy cream and a pinch of salt and pepper.

    2. STIR over a moderate flame until the mixture becomes creamy. This infuses the cream with Parmesan flavor.

    3. REMOVE from the heat, cool, strain and process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the mixture in a container and stir at regular intervals (for a less creamy texture).
     
    HOW TO SERVE SAVORY ICE CREAM

    Use your imagination! For starters:

  • Baked potato, instead of sour cream
  • Cheese course, single or trio scoops—Parmesan, Cheddar and Stilton, for example
  • Chilled soups, savory like gazpacho or sweet like fruit soup
  • Compound butter substitute: for example, a small scoop of blue cheese ice cream on a hot steak, or a scoop of herb ice cream on grilled fish
  • Cone or taco shell
  • Cream puffs or éclairs: substitute the vanilla ice cream for blue cheese or Parmesan
  • Dairy on dairy: with cottage cheese or yogurt
  • Ice cream sandwich with tuilles or waffles
  • Fruit or nut pies
  • Salad: green herb salad or fruit salad
  • Shortcake: on a biscuit with fresh berries
  • Parfait with melon and prosciutto
  •  
    Optional Garnishes

  • Dried fruit: dates, figs or others depending on flavor
  • Fresh fruit: diced apples with cheddar ice cream, berries with goat cheese ice cream, etc.
  • Fresh herbs: basil sprig, herb blossoms, lavender, rosemary sprig, sage leaves, tarragon or thyme sprig
  • Grape tomato, olive or other wee vegetable
  • Nuts
  •  
    RECIPE #1: QUICK PARMESAN ICE CREAM BALLS

    This recipe is much simpler to make. Use it with cold vegetable soups and the other serving suggestions above.

       

    Rosemary Ice Cream

    Cheddar Ice Cream

    Savory Ice Cream Sandwich

    Dill Ice Cream

    [1] Rosemary ice cream on an herb salad (photo courtesy Rosetta Restaurant | Mexico City. [2] Cheddar ice cream on an apple crumble (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog). [3] Avocado ice cream sandwiched by 34 Degrees crisps (photo courtesy Food Flirt) [4] Dill ice cream cone with smoked salmon topping (here’s the recipe from Cup Of Sugar Pinch Of Salt.

     
    We make a similarly simple recipe of blender gazpacho: tomatoes, basil and olive oil with optional chopped bell peppers, cucumbers and onions (it depends on how much time or desire we have for chopping). Serve it in a Martini glass or large wine goblet, topped with a small scoop of ice cream.

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh herbs for garnish
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the cream in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer.

    2. STIR in the Parmesan cheese and continue stir until the cheese is melted. Stir in a dash of fresh ground pepper and remove to a small bowl to cool. When cool…

    3. PLACE the mixture in a small freezer-proof bowl or plastic container. Cover the container and place it in the freezer for 1-2 hours.

    4. SCOOP little balls of the frozen Parmesan ice cream, using a melon baller or a teaspoon. Place a ball of into each bowl of soup just before serving. Garnish with a sprig of fresh herb.

     

    Blue Cheese Ice Cream

    Goat Cheese Ice Cream

    Rosemary Ice Cream

    [1] Blue cheese ice cream (photo courtesy Yummly). [2] Goat cheese ice cream (photo courtesy Charlie Trotter). [3] Rosemary olive oil ice cream (here’s the recipe from Local Food Rocks.

      CHEESE ICE CREAM RECIPES

  • Parmesan Ice Cream from Ferran Adrià
  • Blue Cheese Ice Cream from Point Reyes Farmstead
  • Cheddar Ice Cream
  • Goat Cheese Ice Cream from Charlie Trotter
  •  
    You can turn any of these recipes into herb ice cream, by substituting fresh herbs for the cheese. Our favorites are basil and rosemary; there’s a recipe right below.
     
    Bonus

  • Sweet Cream Cheese Ice Cream for dessert: the best “cheesecake” ice cream.
  •  
    RECIPE #2: ROSEMARY ICE CREAM

    This recipe is sweetened, but you can reduce the honey to 1/8 or 1/4 of a cup for a more savory ice cream, or add just a tablespoon. You can also substitute basil. If you’d like the herb flavor to be stronger, use more next time.

    You can make this recipe up to four days in advance.
     
    Ingredients For 1.25 Quarts

  • 2 cups whipping [heavy] cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 6-inch-long fresh rosemary sprig
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • Large pinch of fine sea salt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cream, milk, honey and rosemary in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until small bubbles form around edges of pan. Remove from the heat; cover and let steep 30 minutes.

    2. DISCARD the rosemary and put the pan back on the stove. Bring the contents to a simmer, then remove from the heat.

    3. WHISK the egg yolks and salt in a medium bowl. Gradually add the hot cream mixture, whisking until thoroughly combined. (The eggs and cream make this a custard, the style known as French ice cream. See the different types of ice cream.)

    4. RETURN the custard to the saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until the custard thickens slightly and coats back of spoon. This should take 4 to 5 minutes and the mixture should register 165°F to 170°F on a thermometer. Do not boil!

    5. STRAIN the mixture into a medium bowl. Set the bowl into a larger bowl containing a slurry of ice and water. Allow to cool, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    6. REMOVE the custard bowl from the slurry. Cover it with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.

    7. TRANSFER the custard to an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the churned ice cream to a container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

     
    THE HISTORY OF ICE CREAM

    Fruit ices are thousands of years old, dating back to ancient China. But gelato, the first type of ice cream, is comparatively recent.

    The original concept, a sherbet-like concoction, came from Northern China in the more than 4,000 years ago, before the 2nd century B.C.E. Snow and saltpeter in a container served as an ancient ice cream maker to freeze ingredients, the snow mixed with fruit juices, honey and aromatic spices.

    A modern form of it still exists, called snow cream. You can make it with a fresh batch of snow: Here’s the recipe.
     
    Fruit Snow Travels West

    Through trade routes, the frozen dessert recipe was introduced to Persia—about 2,500 years ago. The Persians called the frozen concoction sharbat, “fruit ice” in Arabic. We know it as sherbet, sorbet or sorbetto.

    Alexander the Great, who battled the Persians for 10 years before finally toppling the Persian Empire in 330 B.C.E., “discovered” the fruit ices and returned to Greece with the knowledge. Within three centuries, Emperor Nero was serving fruit juices mixed with honey and snow at his banquets, dispatching the fastest runners to the mountaintops to bring back the snow.
     
    On To Europe

    Fruit ice arrived in Europe with the Arab invasions of Sicily in the fifth century. Italian granita was born, flavored with a wide range of fruits including citrus. Coffee ice was also made.

    It took until the late 1500’s in Florence, for fruit ice to be adapted to gelato. The original ice cream, gelato was (and is) made with cream and eggs. This combination enables a more intense showcasing of the fruits, nuts and other flavors. (The key differences between gelato and ice cream are less cream/more milk and less air [overrun].)

    The invention is credited to Bernardo Buontalenti, a multi-talented genius born Bernardo Delle Girandole (c. 1531 to 1608). Buontalenti, his professional name, means great talent. He was an architect, theatrical designer, military engineer and artist.

    It is believed that he created gelato for a Medici banquet.

    Buontalenti, who spent his life in the employ of the Medici family, was, among other things, the impresario of the fabulous Medici banquets. While no historical record exists that names Buontalenti as the creator, he is a likely candidate.

    Gelato spread from Italy to the rest of Europe. This is attributed to another Italian, Catarina de’ Medici, who married the future King Henri II of France. (She was only 14 when she married; no wonder she liked ice cream).

    Here’s the full history of ice cream, to modern times.

      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: Vanilla Vs. French Vanilla

    A reader writes: What’s the difference between vanilla and French vanilla? Simply this:

  • Vanilla is the flavoring made from the vanilla bean Vanilla beans themselves are identified in the trade by origin: Indonesian, Madagascar (Bourbon), Mexican, Tahitian, etc. (see the different types (origins) of vanilla beans). Vanilla ice cream without eggs is called Philadelphia-style ice cream, dating back to the 18th century when it was developed as an alternative to French vanilla.
  • French vanilla is a classic French technique to enrich ice cream, by adding egg yolks to the recipe. The egg combines with the cream to create a custard base, which in turn provides a richer flavor, creamier texture, and a yellowish tinge to the color. USDA regulations require ice cream labeled “French vanilla” to be at least 1.4 % egg yolk.
  • Vanillin, artificial vanilla, is a cheaper alternative. It is used in products called vanilla-flavored.
  •  
    Beyond ice cream, French vanilla refers to a vanilla flavor is caramelized, eggy, custard-like.
     
    WHAT IS NOT FRENCH VANILLA

    As with so many other terms, people misuse “French vanilla,” either through ignorance or for marketing. French vanilla, after all, sounds more exciting than vanilla.

    Worse, “plain vanilla” has become an expression for bland and boring, the simplest version of something. It may be “plain vanilla,” but it’s still the most popular ice cream flavor in the U.S.

    Products that have co-opted the French vanilla name include coffee creamers, flavored coffees and teas, vanilla-flavored drinks (shakes, lattes) and syrups.

    It even extends to aromas, such as French vanilla candles and potpourri.

    French vanilla means added eggs, and none of these products contains them.
     
    MORE VANILLA FACTS

  • The small flecks of ground vanilla pod added by some manufacturers do not in of themselves indicate the best ice cream; in fact, the flavor is negligible if at all. They do, however, have eye appeal and may provide a bit of texture.
  • Vanilla bean versus extract: When using top-quality vanilla extract is near impossible to taste whether the ice cream is made from extract or by first infusing seeds from the pod in the cream.
  • Vanilla comes from a orchid variety called flat-leaved vanilla. The fruit of the plant is called the pod, which contains the beans that are used to make vanilla flavoring by extracting the flavor from the beans.
  • Most vanilla is made from Madagascar vanilla beans, also called Bourbon vanilla because the French Bourbons ruled Madagascar at the time. Vanilla is native to Madagascar.
  •  
    ALSO CHECK OUT:

    HISTORY & TYPES OF VANILLA

    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ICE CREAM

    CHOCTÀL SINGLE ORIGIN ICE CREAM, made in four different vanilla flavors using different vanilla beans, as well as chocolate ice creams made with cacao beans from four different origins

    Plus:

  • Tahitian Vanilla
  • Caring For Your Vanilla Beans
  •  

    Vanilla Beans

    Egg  Yolk

    French Vanilla ice Cream

    French Vanilla

    [1] Vanilla beans, from a particular orchid, are most often converted into vanilla extract by soaking the seeds in an alcohol base (photo courtesy Natures Flavours). [2] To make French vanilla, egg yolks are required. They blend with the cream to create a custard, which makes the ice cream richer (photo courtesy ANH-USA.org). [3] Flavors called French Vanilla should have egg yolks, as this one does (photo courtesy Dreyers.com). [4] One of many examples where marketing trumps fact (photo courtesy Bigelow).

  • Thomas Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe (he brought the recipe back from France)
  • Make Your Own Vanilla Extract (fun and great for gifting)
  •  

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Alcohol Slush

    Zoku Slush Maker

    Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

    [1] Alcohol slush drinks made in the Zoku Slush Maker (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma). From top to bottom: Bellini Slush, Gin & Tonic Slush, Screwdriver Slush. [2] Turn your favorite liqueur into a slush (photo courtesy Godiva Liqueurs).

     

    Call it an Icee®, Slurpee*, slush or slushy*, adult versions of shaved ice drinks with alcohol are certainly an delightful advance on the shaved ice or snow with syrup enjoyed in China 4,000 years ago.

    This is the frozen dessert that traveled to Persia and later to Italy. On the dinner table along with plenty of wine, surely someone must have splashed some alcohol on it. (Arabic people drank alcohol until the early 7th century C.E., when the Holy Prophet Muhammad proscribed it.)

    (That shaved ice evolved into granita, sorbet, snow cones and modern shaved ice (a form of granita). A Florentine Renaissance Man adapted the idea and made the first ice cream. Here’s the history of ice cream.)

    Then there’s the present: A company called Beyond Zero has developed a technology that will freeze alcohol. It will be available soon, and will not likely be priced for home use (unless your home has 100 rooms).
     
    FROZEN DRINKS: AMERICA LOVES THEM!

    The beginning of the American frozen drink trend, frozen Margaritas, started in Houston around 1935 with the blender Margarita.

    It reached its zenith with the invention of the frozen Margarita machine in 1971, which greatly enhanced the demand for Mexican restaurants. The history of that machine is below.

    Then there’s the present: A company called Beyond Zero has developed a technology that will freeze alcohol, but it’s not yet available and will not likely be priced for home use (unless your home is a mansion).
     
    SLUSH DRINKS WITH LOW-PROOF ALCOHOL

    The alcohol’s proof is double the ABV, alcohol by volume. So if a wine is 12% alcohol, it is 24 proof. Standard spirits are 80-proof: too much alcohol to freeze in a home freezer. You need to take some extra steps.

    So first, let’s look at lower-proof spirits that will freeze into slush:

  • Apérifs: Aperol, Dubonnet, Lillet, Kahlúa, and others†.
  • Beer: You can freeze your favorite, but try a cherry or raspberry lambic (beers run 3 to 26 proof).
  • Hard cider, from 3 to 24 proof.
  • Some Liqueurs Many are up to 80 proof, but St-Germain‡ is 40 proof and Baileys Irish Cream is 34 proof.
  • Sochu (like vodka but 40 proof).
  • Wine and sparkling wine (with proofs under 26%, the alcohol is low enough so that you can also make ice pops).
  •  
    Mixologists nationwide are creating recipes for low-proof cocktails. You can turn them into slush cocktails. Here are low-proof recipes from Liquor.com

    Even the strongest is 26 proof; and light beer is just 3 proof. Here’s more on ABV, or alcohol by volume. You double the ABV to get the proof.
     
    HOW TO MAKE SLUSHIE WITH 80 PROOF SPIRITS

    You can’t use high-proof spirits and liqueurs straight to make slush. You have to lower them to 40 proof or less.

    Do this by diluting the spirit: with water, a carbonated beverage or juice, even iced tea or coffee. If you dilute it beyond a 1:1 ratio, you can bring the mix to 40 proof, which will freeze (we used a 2:1 ratio).

    You can make, for example:

  • Gin and Tonic Slush
  • Bloody Mary Slush
  • Rum and Coke Slush
  • Scotch and Soda Slush
  •  
    We used a 2:1 ratio of non-alcohol (orange juice) to spirit (vodka) for our Screwdriver Slush and a 1:1 ratio of peach nectar and Prosecco for a Bellini Slush, since wines are under 13% proof.
     
    HOW TO MAKE AN ALCOHOL SLUSHIE

    Technique #1: Combine the alcohol in a blender with ice cubes or better, with crushed ice.

    Technique #2: Pour the alcohol into ice cube trays and allow to freeze thoroughly (at least four hours). The cubes won’t freeze rock-hard like ice cubes. Tip: Smaller slush cubes will melt more quickly than large ice cubes; it’s a matter of personal preference.

    Technique #3: The easy way to do it is to buy a Zoku Slush Maker; but one 8-ounce slush maker is $19.99. That could be for two people; but if you want more portions, you need to purchase others.

    Technique #4: The easiest way is to invest $30 in an electric shaved ice machine).

    Technique #5: The hard way is to make a granita.

    __________________
    *Icee®, and Slurpee® are trademarked names. You can use them at home when presenting your drink to guests, but the names cannot be used commercially (e.g., at a bar or restaurant) without a license from the owner. Instead, use the generic, slush or slushy. It’s the same deal with Popsicle®, the generic of which is ice pop.

    †Check the bottle. Some favorites, like Grand Marnier, are not liqueurs but liqueur blended with brandy and a higher proof (70% for Grand Marnier). Even the generic triple sec orange liqueur ranges from 30 to 60 proof.

    ‡St-Germain liqueur is Saint-Germain l elderflower liqueur is our personal favorite and the best-selling liqueur in history. It is a favorite mixer with sparkling wines.
     

     

    WHO INVENTED THE FROZEN MARGARITA?

    The original Margarita on the rocks began appearing in bars and restaurants along the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1930s. An improvement on the first electric (1922), the Waring Blender appeared in 1935.

    The Waring, which could efficiently chop ice, enabled the creation of “frozen” drinks”—a conventional cocktail made in a blender with chopped ice.

    By the 1960s, slushy soft drinks (non-alcoholic) had become the craze among kids and adults alike. The concept and the machine to make them was invented by in the 1950s by Omar Knedlik, a Dairy Queen franchisee. He did not have a soda fountain, so he served semi-frozen bottled soft drinks, which became slushy and were immensely popular.

    This gave him the idea to create a machine that made slushy sodas, resulting in the ICEE Company. They were a huge hit, and in 1966 7-Eleven purchased machines to sell their proprietary-brand Slurpees.

    Yet no one made the leap to using the machine for frozen cocktails.

    At that time, frozen drinks were made by bartenders in a blender with ice cubes.

    But it wasn’t a great solution.

     

    Frozen Margarita

    Thanks to Mariano Martinez of Dallas for creating the first Frozen Margarita machine, in 1971 (photo courtesy Herradura Tequila).

     
    In Dallas, a restaurant manager, Mariano Martinez, could not deliver frozen Margaritas to the satisfaction of his customers—who no doubt were comparing them to the Slurpees from 7-Eleven. His bartenders complained that the blender drinks were too time-consuming to make.

    One day in 1971, Martinez stopped for a cup of coffee at a 7-Eleven and saw the Slurpee machine. The light bulb flashed on, and Martinez bought and retrofitted an old soft-serve machine to make frozen Margaritas.
     
    The rest is history. The frozen Margarita was responsible for the growth of tequila in America, as well as the growth of Tex-Mex cuisine to go with all those frozen Margaritas.

    According to Brown-Forman, in 2006 the Margarita surpassed the Martini as the most ordered alcoholic beverage, representing 17% of all mixed-drink sales.

    Martinez’ original machine is now in the Smithsonian. You can see a photo here.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Salsa Gazpacho & 15 More Uses For Salsa

    Salsa  Gazpacho

    Shrimp Cocktail With Salsa

    Salsa

    [1] Salsa-based gazpacho (photo courtesy Knudsen). [2] Shrimp cocktail with salsa; add avocado and lime wedge for a “Mexican shrimp cocktail” (photo courtesy MackenzieLtd.com. [3] Grab your favorite salsa from the shelf and check out the 15 ideas below (photo courtesy Mrs. Renfro’s).

     

    If you have more salsa than you need, turn it into a refreshing gazpacho. Or use it in one of the 15 different options below.

    While most Americans think of salsa as a snack with tortilla chips, it began as a general sauce for cooked foods in Mexico. Tortilla chips weren’t invented until the 1940s, in Los Angeles (the history of tortilla chips).

    There is no one salsa recipe: Every region of Latin America has its own style, with recipes divided between tomato-based red salsas and tomatillo-based green salsas. Within each category are many different salsa styles (see our Salsa Glossary).

    You can find dozens of ways to use salsa beyond Tex-Mex. It’s a great pantry item to grab when you need to make—or fix—something, as you’ll see in the list below this salsa recipe.
     
    BONUS: ¼ cup of tomato-based salsa counts as a one serving of vegetables!

    RECIPE: SALSA GAZPACHO

    Ingredients

  • 8-ounce jar mild salsa (or your favorite type—you can even use fruit salsa)
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 fresh tomato, chopped and seeded
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime (2-3 tablespoons in a medium lemon, 2 tablespoons in the average lime)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: small dice cucumber and bell pepper, cilantro leaves or whatever you have*
  • Optional garnish: Greek yogurt or sour cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ROLL the room temperature lemon or lime on the counter, pressing down. This will release more juice.

    2. PURÉE the salsa in a blender or food processor. Mix with the other ingredients (except garnishes) in a mixing bowl.

    3. REFRIGERATE for an hour or more, covered, to allow the flavors to meld.

    4. POUR into serving bowls or cups, garnish and serve.
     
    _____________________
    *Use diced avocado, chopped fresh herbs, carrot coins or radish slices, corn kernels…just look in the fridge and the pantry.

     

    MORE USES FOR SALSA

    Salsa is a versatile ingredient. Beyond Tex-Mex cuisine, you can use different types of salsa for even more variety. For example, you can use a sweeter fruit salsa to make omelet toppings/fillings or sauces for grilled meats, even as a garnish for pound cake or sorbet.
     
    Condiment, Dip, Garnish Or Spread

  • Baked potato: Mix with plain yogurt or sour cream for a spicy topping.
  • Bruschetta or crostini: Mexican-style (the difference between bruschetta and crostini).
  • Cracker spread: Top a brick of cream cheese or a log of goat cheese and serve with crackers, toasts, baguette slices, etc.
  • Dip: Mix with ketchup, mayonnaise, plain yogurt or sour cream as a dip for chips, crudités, fries, etc.
  • Grilled cheese sandwich: Instead of tomato slices, use salsa—especially when tomatoes are not in season.
  • Ketchup substitute: From breakfast eggs to lunch burgers to meat loaf and grilled meats, poultry and seafood for dinner, salsa adds some spice.
  • Mac and cheese: Use as a garnish instead of bread crumbs.
  • Queso: Mix with cheese sauce for a queso, a popular Mexican dip and sauce (tip: you can substitute Velveeta—not as elegant but so much quicker).
  • Seafood: Substitute for cocktail sauce with a seafood cocktail; serve as a sauce with cooked fish.
  •  
    Flavor Booster

  • Compound butter: Make compound butter, refrigerate, and have an “instant” sauce for anything, including proteins, rice and other grains, vegetables.
  • Eggs: Stir into scrambled eggs or add to frittatas, omelets and shakshouka (Eggs in Purgatory).
  • Hearty dishes: Perk up casseroles, soups and stews.
  • Marinade: Add salsa to oil and lime juice, and you don’t need extra seasonings. It’s the same for a ceviche marinade.
  • Tomato sauce: Use it on pasta and pizza.
  • Season anything: From deviled eggs to stuffed mushrooms to Bloody Marys.
  •  
    Have other ideas for salsa? Let us know!

     

    Queso Dip With Salsa

    Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    Salsa Burger

    [1] Make a queso dip with salsa and cheese sauce (a quick substitute is Velveeta; photo courtesy El Original | NYC). [2] This {Chicken fajita” grilled cheese adds a layer of salsa, which also works on a plain grilled cheese sandwich. Here’s the recipe from ClosetCooking.com. [2] A salsa-topped burger or cheeseburger hits the spot (photo courtesy Pace).

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Beer With Summer Produce

    Grilled Mushrooms & Beer

    Elote - Mexican Corn

    [1] Grilled mushrooms and grilled pineapple with baby arugula and shaved parmesan. Enjoy the earthy mushrooms with a darker beer: amber lager, porter, or stout (photo courtesy Urban Accents). [2] Corn should be enjoyed with a lighter beer: American lager, German wheat beer or saison. Here’s the recipe for this delicious plate of elote, Mexican corn on the cob (photo courtesy Good Eggs | SF.

     

    Last Week was National Farmers Market Week, but all of us should support our local farmers every week. It’s where the season’s freshest local ingredients can be found.

    Even in the depths of winter, where there is no fresh produce in our region, we go to buy apple cider, applesauce, baked goods, kimchi, pickles and anything else they make.

    The folks at (Let’s Grab a Beer) took the opportunity to pair beer styles with particular types of produce. They selected some summer fruits and vegetables and paired them with beer styles that bring out the flavors in the food.

    For your next cook-out or hang-out, try these recommendations and see if you agree.

    If you need an explanation of a particular beer style, head to our Beer Glossary.
     
    Chile Peppers
    Beer Styles: American Lager or IPA.
    Pairing Notes: Spicy, hoppy beers are a great choice for chiles, whether served raw in a dish, grilled shishito peppers or roasted poppers (stuffed jalapeños). Lager can help to tame the heat if the dish is too fiery.
     
    Corn
    Beer Styles: American Lager, German Wheat Beer or Saison.
    Pairing Notes: A light and slightly sweet beer will complement each bite of the sweet corn and salty butter. Try it with everything from corn salad to elote, Mexican seasoned corn on the cob.
     
    Green Beans
    Beer Styles: English Brown Ale or Belgian Wheat Beer (Witbier).
    Pairing Notes: Green beans tend to go well with beers that are both malty and sweet like the English Brown Ale. If you prefer your green beans with a citrusy dressing, try a Belgian Wheat Beer instead.
     
    Grilled Mushrooms
    Beer Styles: Amber Lager, Porter, Stout.
    Notes: The roasted flavor of malted barley in these darker beers complements the earthiness of mushrooms. Try them with grilled stuffed mushrooms, or in a portabella salad with feta, this one with goat cheese or a grilled corn salad (no cheese). For a great beer snack or warm-up to dinner, try this Mexican layered salad, great as a beer snack.
     
    Melons
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, German Wheat Beer, or Belgian Wheat Beer.
    Pairing Notes: The fruity flavors produced by the yeast in German Wheat beers will often match up well with certain melon flavor profiles.

     

     
    Spinach
    Beer Styles: Belgian Wheat Beer (Witbier) or German Wheat Beer (Weissbier).
    Pairing Notes: The lighter style and vibrant and citrusy flavors of wheat beer complement herbaceous greens. Mix greens into a salad with any fruit, accented with a crumbled dry cheese, like feta. Some of our go-to recipes: watermelon and feta salad (or strawberries, or both fruits) and spicy radishes with stone fruit and feta,
     
    Strawberries, Raspberries, Chocolate-Dipped Fruit
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, American Stout, Chocolate Stout, Fruit Beer, Imperial Stout, Pale Ale.
    Pairing Notes: In addition to fruit beers like lambic and kriek, turn to American beers and ales: American hops impart citrus flavors and aromas to beers. With chocolate-dipped fruits, darker beers with more heavily roasted barley provide great fusion. For a true beer dessert check out this Chocolate Stout Float recipe. You can make it with chocolate stout or Guinness.
     
    Tomatoes
    Beer Styles:r American Amber Ale, American Lager, IPA.
    Pairing Notes: The hoppy flavors of these beers accent the acidity of tomatoes, while their slight sweetness harmonizes with different types of tomato sauces. Here are ways to use summer tomatoes for every meal of the day.
     
    BONUS PAIRINGS: CHEESES & NUTS

    For a cheese course, snack, or an accent to other recipes, try these pairings:
     
    Acidic Cheeses (e.g. Sharp Cheddar)
    Beer Styles: American Pale Ale, IPA, Porter.
    Pairing Notes: Sharp cheeses are generally more bitter, and thus well suited to the bitterness found in hoppier beers. For some contrast to an acidic cheese, also try porter.
     
    Nutty Cheeses (e.g. Gruyère)
    Beer Styles: American IPA, Dark Lager, Oktoberfest Ale.
    Pairing Notes: For harder cheeses that have a nutty aftertaste, pick a beer that is more barley-forward yet balanced. For contrast, try an American pale ale.
     
    Tangy Cheeses (e.g. Goat Cheese)
    Beer Styles: American Light Lager, Belgian Wheat Beer.
    Pairing Notes: The fruity and citrusy flavors of wheat beers sync up beautifully with tangy cheeses. These bright, carbonated beers are refreshing in warmer weather.
     
    Nuts
    Beer Styles: Amber Lager, English Brown Ale.
    Pairing Notes: For nuts that are both salted and roasted, go with a darker beer that has some complementary roasted barley flavors. These two styles also have a refreshingly crisp finish.
     
    Now, put some pairings together to see what you like best.

     

    Honeydew & Cucumber Salad

    Heirloom Tomato Salad

    Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

    [1] Melon dishes like this honeydew and cucumber salad are delicious with wheat beer and light lagers (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] The best tomatoes of the summer—heirloom tomatoes—are splendid with an American ale, lager or IPA. [3] A classic Italian dessert, strawberries with a balsamic drizzle (and optional shaved Parmesan) pair best with citrussy beers and dark beers. Here, the berries are served with raw sugar and lemon zest for dipping (photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

      

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