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FOOD FUN: Chocolate For The Poker Player


Know how to hold ‘em, fold ‘em, or eat ‘em (photo © Woodhouse Chocolate).

 

For the poker player, two edible chips from Woodhouse Chocolate, an artisanal chocolatier in the Napa Valley.

Actually, their Poker Chip Peanut Butter Cups.

Specially decorated in a card suit motif and presented in a poker chip styled box; as the chocolatier says: The perfect snack whether you hold ’em or fold ’em.

Each set of two peanut butter cups is $8.00.

Get them at WoodhouseChocolate.com.

Don’t tarry: These are a limited edition item for Father’s Day.

There are also boxes of chocolates that are special for Father’s Day.

 

  

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FOOD FUN: Beautiful Donuts For National Donut Day


Who took the two missing doughnuts??? (Photo of doughnuts (© Brooke Lark | Unsplash).

 
The first Friday in June is National Doughnut Day (or Donut, if you prefer—the differce is below.

You don’t have to create doughnut art, as in the lovely display above, photographed by Brooke Lark.

You can simply buy some plain doughnuts and decorate them yourself. Or, set up a DIY doughnut tray for snacking or dessert and let everyone garnish his/her own.

Pick up toppings for the doughnuts, such as:

  • Icing, to affix the toppings
  • Berries
  • Kiwi
  • Seasonal fruit for slicing
  • Your favorite cupcake toppings
  •  
    We took the path of plain dughonuts from the store, plus blueberries, raspberries and homemade cream cheese icing (recipe below).

    Instead of piping the icing as in the photo, we had butter knives on the table so each person could spread as much or as little icing as desired.

    If you make your own icing, you can add a few drops of food coloring.
     
     
    DOUGHNUT HISTORY: WHO INVENTED THE DOUGHNUT?

    Check it out.

    You’ll also discover the difference between donut and doughnut.


     
    RECIPE: CREAM CHEESE ICING

    This recipe can be made up to 5 days in advance and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before frosting.

    The difference between frosting and icing is in the sugar.

    Icing is made with confectioners’ sugar (also called icing sugar), frosting is made with granulated sugar (table sugar). The two words are often used interchangeably, but that doesn’t make it correct!

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese (not lowfat or fat-free), softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: food coloring
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BEAT the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer, in a large bowl. When smooth….

    2. ADD the sugar, vanilla, salt and optional food coloring. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then on high for 2 minutes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Cook Lobster

    This guide to boiling live lobster is from Joe Bowab, CEO of Lobster Anywhere, which ships whole live lobsters and frozen lobster tails and other parts nationwide.

    Lobster, “the king of crustaceans,” is the most luxurious seafood. For us, it’s often the reason many lobster lovers head to a restaurant.

    But if it’s just steamed, why can’t you save money and cook live, whole lobsters at home?

    You can! And you don’t need to be a skilled chef to do so.

    If you know how to do it, it’s easy to prepare the mouth-watering, high-protein delicacy in your kitchen.

    Master the art of boiling lobster with this easy-to-follow guide.
     
     
    YOUR GUIDE TO BOILING A LIVE LOBSTER
     
    1. BUY TOP LOBSTER. It all starts with choosing high-quality lobster meat. Many of us are tempted to buy lobster tails in the supermarket. Even if it’s in beautiful packaging, that does not necessarily mean it’s the highest quality lobster.

    This is because premium lobster meat isn’t generally available in supermarkets, due to the fact that most meat that is cut into parts is mass-produced. This results in lower quality.

    The best way to go is to buy whole, live lobster locally or online. Only live, fresh lobsters ensure the highest quality.

    If you buy a lobster from the tank, look at the underbody of the lobster, particularly the claws. They should be a vibrant red. A live lobster should have no odor.

    Also look for long antennae. Lobsters that have been there for a long time often have their antennae nibbled down by other lobsters.
     
     
    2. BOIL YOUR LOBSTER

    Lobsters can be cooked in various ways, but top chefs will always boil them. It doesn’t take long to prep and cook, and it’s a beautifully presentation.

    You may be surprised to learn it takes just 6 minutes to boil a 1-pound lobster. Add 3 minutes per pound for each additional pound thereafter.

  • A small lobster is 1-2 pounds.
  • A medium lobster is 2.5-3 pounds.
  • A large lobster is 3-4 pounds.
  •  
    The cooking time is the most important factor. It makes the world of difference when it comes to taste. Make sure you use a timer and keep a close eye on the lobster.

    (If you choose to boil lobster tails, the cooking time is between four and five minutes.)

    You will know if your lobster is overcooked, if the meat is too firm and rubbery. Don’t be too disappointed if this happens. You will get it right next time.

    Of course, this depends on the size of the lobster, so watch out in case you under-cook, or even worse, over-cook. You never want to overcook lobster as it will ruin the taste and texture.

    Simply remember to keep an eye on it and you’ll be just fine.
     
     
    3. COOKING THE LOBSTER

    1. FILL a pot large enough for your lobsters, one-half to two-thirds full of cold water. Note: Use about 1 gallon of water per lobster so it is deep enough to submerge the lobsters by at least 3 inches. Otherwise, use two smaller pots.

    2. ADD 2 tablespoons of salt for each quart of water. If you’re lucky enough to have access to seawater for boiling the lobster, even better. Then you can skip the salt.

    3. BRING the water to boil over high heat. Make sure it is bubbling hot.

    4. TURN down the heat; then pick up the lobster by holding the upper side of the thorax between your thumb and middle finger.

    5. HOLD the underside of the body away from you: Lobsters have a tendency to flip their jointed tail, splattering the boiling water.

    6. PLACE the live lobsters in head first, one at a time, making sure to completely submerge them.

    7. COVER the pot tightly and immediately return to a boil.

    8. START the timer as soon as the water starts to boil again. You need to make sure you use a timer and prevent the water from boiling over. Once the time is up…

    9. CAREFULLY REMOVE the lobsters from the pot with tongs. Be careful: The boiled lobsters will be extremely hot.

    10. PLACE them in a bowl for five minutes to cool before you can begin to unshell the meat. You will know that the lobster is done because the meat has turned from translucent to white.

    11. PIERCE the shell. When a lobster boils it retains a lot of water. Once you take it out of the pot, pierce the body and tail with a knife to help drain the water.
     
     
    4. THE CONDIMENTS

    Boiled lobster is usually served with clarified butter (see how to make it in the footnote), lemon wedges, salt and pepper. You can try them all to determine what tastes best for you.

    If you can find Indian ghee locally, you can substitute it for clarified butter. Here’s the difference between ghee and clarified butter, and how to make ghee.
     
     
    5. READY TO EAT?

    Head to LobsterAnywhere.com to order your fresh Maine lobster.

    Tell your family to prepare for a treat!

     

    live lobsters
    [1] Some live lobsters have red or orange color in their shells, some are all dark as in photo #2; there are many colorations (photo © Lobster From Maine).


    [2] For the ultimate luxury, pair Champagne with your lobster. Any other sparkling or still white wine is fine, as is a beer (photo © Champagne Bureau).

    Live Lobster
    [3] The claws of live lobster are banded with strong elastic, so they can’t bite (photo © I Love Blue Sea [now part of Vital Choice]).


    [4] A boiled lobster, ready to eat. When cooked, lobsters and other crustaceans turn red. This is due to the way certain biochemicals react to heat. Lobsters and crabs have a pigment called astaxanthin in their shells (photo © Aldi).


    [5] Ready to eat (photo © David Todd McCarty | Unsplash).

     
    ________________

    *Clarified butter, also called drawn butter, is unsalted butter that has been slowly melted, evaporating much of the water and separating the milk solids. All that remains is pure liquid golden-yellow butterfat. Because the milk solids have been removed, clarified butter has both a long shelf life (it will keep from going rancid longer) and a high smoke point (it can be used in frying without burning). To clarify butter, melt unsalted butter in a saucepan over low heat. Skim the froth from the top and carefully pour off the clear liquid, leaving the milky residue behind.

    Clarified butter is also served with crab meat. Why clarify the butter instead of simply serving a melted stick of butter? By heating and separating the butterfat from the solids and water that naturally occur in butter (clarifying), you get a much richer and intense butter flavor than if you were simply to use melted butter.

    Check out the different types of butter.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Food Expiration Dates

    Here’s the first thing you should know, says the author, J. Kenji López-Alt:

    Expiration dates are not expiration dates, he notes:

  • Completely voluntary: The food product dating under the U.S. Department of Agriculture is completely voluntary for all products, with the exception of baby food.
  • Best guess: Food product dating has nothing to do with food safety. It is simply the manufacturer’s best guess as to when its product will no longer be at peak quality.
  • Conservative dates: In addition, the manufacturers tend to be conservative with their dating. That’s why products that expired two months ago—even fresh products like eggs—are often still fine. (To determine the freshness of anything, give it the sniff test. If there is no off odor and the product looks normal, it’s fine.)
  •  
    One of the ways to extend the shelf life of all food is too keep groceries in cool, dark cupboards or pantries with the doors closed to shut out light.

    Similarly, keep the refrigerator door open for the minimal time necessary to remove what you want. Browsing for minutes on end will raise the temperature, which will shorten the shelf life of perishable items.

    If your refrigerator is so packed you can’t see items, it’s time to clean it out.

    Here are tips from The Container Store on how to organize your refrigerator.

    Read the full article on expiration dates in the New York Times.

    It will tell you, among other things:

     


    [1] Classico Riserva pasta sauce (photo © Classico).


    [2] Cartons of eggs (photo by Rick Payette is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0).

  • Which foods last “forever.”
  • Which flour and rice last forever, and which need to be used within a year or even months.
  • Why dried beans and lentils should be used sooner rather than later.
  • Why canned foods can last years beyond the expiration date.
  •  
    You’ll even learn how to buy milk that lasts longer!
     
     
    > Clean Out Your Refrigerator
     
     
    > Refrigerator Air Purifier

      

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    PRODUCT: Beer Chocolate


    [1] How about some beer in your chocolate (photo © Theo Chocolate).

     

    For the person who likes both dark chocolate and beer, here’s a novel gift: The Beer Confection Collection from Theo Chocolates. https://theochocolate.com/beer/

    The artisan chocolatier, which uses only Fair Trade and Organic ingredients, has crafted chocolate confections specifically crafted to highlight the flavors of beer—from the smokiness of stout to the bright citrus of an IPA.

    The craft beers used are:

  • Bodhizafa IPA, Georgetown Brewing, in a syrup confection
  • Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Fremont Brewing, in a marshmallow confection
  • Hazealicious IPA, Reuben’s Brews, in a pâte de fruit
  • Immersion Amber, Two Beers Brewing, in a peanut caramel confection
  •  
    Get them at TheoChocolate.com.

     

     
      

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