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LUNAR NEW YEAR: Chocolates For Year Of The Ox

[1] Five lovely chocolate oxen are waiting to celebrate the Year Of The Ox with you (photos #1 and #2 © Burdick Chocolate).

[2] The wood box is a “keeper.”

[3] Celebrate the Year Of The Ox from February 12th through February 18th (photo © Liu Ziang | Panther Media).


Have you ever eaten a chocolate ox?

We didn’t think so.

That’s because the one chocolatier we know who makes them is L.A. Burdick, who celebrates every Lunar New Year with a chocolate interpretation of that year’s zodiac animal.

You were born in the Year Of The Ox if your birth year is 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997…and for the Centennials, 2009 and 2021.

The Lunar New Year begins on Friday, February 12th: the Year Of The Ox. (The date changes every year, based on the lunar calendar.)

“Chinese New Year” is an old-fashioned term, replaced by Lunar New Year.

That’s because in addition to China, other countries in Asia also celebrate the Lunar New Year: Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The celebration lasts up to 16 days, but only the first seven days are considered a public holiday.

You’ve got more than two weeks to indulge in your favorite Asian foods.

So plan your Asian feasts; but first, head to Burdick Chocolate to get your Chocolate Oxen.

This limited edition is available from January 25th through February 19th.

Burdick’s mini chocolate oxen (each is about two bites) are entirely handmade without molds, meaning that no two are alike.

And as befitting the occasion, the chocolates have Asian flavor accents.

The “drove” (a.k.a. herd) of oxen includes:

  • 3 Dark Chocolate Oxen: dark chocolate ganache blended with prune plums and plum wine and enrobed in dark chocolate.
  • 1 Milk Chocolate Ox: dark chocolate ganache blended with black sesame seeds, enrobed in milk chocolate.
  • 1 Milk & White Chocolate Ox: dark chocolate ganache blended with black sesame seeds, enrobed in milk chocolate and hand-detailed with white chocolate spots.
    Each wood “keeper” box is tied with a gold ribbon and hand-stamped with a gold wax seal featuring the Chinese character for good luck.










    RECIPE: Vegan Potato Burgers For Veganuary (Aloo Tikki)

    Veganuary is a food event that began in the U.K.: an annual challenge run by a U.K. nonprofit that promotes and educates about veganism.

    It encourages people to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January. The event began in 2014, and participation has more than doubled each year.

    Some 400,000 people signed up for the 2020 campaign, and the organizers estimated that this represented the carbon dioxide equivalent of 450,000 airplane flights, and the lives of more than a million animals [source].

    We love vegan foods, but can’t commit to an entire month of veganism. Still, we’ve had our eye out for interesting recipes to try.

    One of these is the Aloo Tikki burger recipe, below.

    If you like mashed potatoes and crispy fried food, aloo tikki is a must-try: a crispy vegan patty of mashed potatoes, seasoned with lots of herbs and curry spices (cilantro, garam masala and ginger, e.g.).

    Some have called it India’s equivalent of hash brown potatoes [source].

    Aloo tikki translates to potato patties or croquettes*. It’s a popular Indian street food that’s also made at home as an evening snack, served with chutney or [talk about fusion] ketchup.

    The seasoned mashed potatoes are mixed with green peas and often onions, formed into patties and fried† until the skin turns crisp.

    It’s a vegan snack, although some cooks add crumbled paneer, the fresh Indian cheese.

    Aloo tikki originated on the Indian subcontinent: North India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It’s served hot, with sides of sweet and/or savory chutney (consider coriander-mint chutney), and sometimes yogurt. The preparation in photo #5 adds sliced cucumbers.

    Blogger Tina Dawson of Love Is In My Tummy ported the aloo tikki patties into a vegan burger. You can see her entire post here.

    Tina says that when that when McDonald’s opened in India, they needed meatless options for the vegetarian population.

    India has a larger percentage of vegetarians than any other country—nearly 30%. The next closest nations have less than half that percentage (Switzerland, Taiwan and Israel, 13-14% [source]).

    Veganism is a growing movement [source].

    Needless to say, the McAloo Tikki Burger, served with vegan mayonnaise, was a hit!

    Tina Dawson created her version using Idaho® Russet potatoes, peas and onions, seasoned with onions and spices.

    She added another fusion touch: double coating the patties in panko-style breadcrumbs.

    She made the burgers vegan with dairy-free cheddar-style cheese, vegan mayo, baby greens and “other usual burger fixins.”

    The recipe was shared with us by the Idaho Potato Commission.

    Thanks to both!

    Making the patties is the most time-consuming aspect of the recipe. As a time-saver, you can make the patties ahead and freeze them.

    Ginger garlic paste, a staple in Indian cooking, is used in this recipe. You can buy it in your local Indian/Asian food store or online (there’s a ton of it on Amazon).

    Or, make your own by blending equal parts of ginger and garlic until smooth. You can keep it in the fridge for a few weeks, or freeze it in mini ice-cube trays.

    It’s a versatile condiment that can be added to dips, marinades and sauces, and used as a spread on sandwiches and burgers.
    Ingredients For The Patties

  • 2 pounds cooked Idaho® Russet potatoes (boiled/steamed until fork tender)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (215 grams), chopped
  • ½-1 teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika)
  • 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ¾ teaspoon chaat masala‡
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Generous handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
    For The Crumb Coat

  • 2-3 cups panko style breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup cornstarch + water to make a thin slurry
    For Frying

  • Vegetable oil
    To Assemble

  • Sesame topped burger buns
  • Baby greens (instead of plain lettuce)
  • Cheese (regular or vegan)
  • Mayonnaise (regular or vegan)
  • Caramelized onions
  • Red onion rings
  • Tomatoes
  • Pickles
  • Ketchup

    [1] The aloo tikki burger, American-Indian fusion food (photos #1 through #4 © Love Is In My Tummy | Idaho Potato Commission).

    [2] Ingredients for the aloo tikki burger.

    [3] Double-coated and ready to fry.

    [4] Frying to very crisp.

    [5] Don’t want a burger? Serve aloo tikki in its original form: fried patties with green chutney and tamarind chutney. Here’s the recipe and excellent step-by-step photos from Hebbars Kitchen. Serve it for lunch or dinner with a salad, or as party food (photo © Hebbar’s Kitchen).


    1. MAKE the patties. Peel and mash the potatoes until they are soft and free of large lumps. Set aside.

    2. HEAT the oil in a skillet and sauté the onions over medium heat for a minute or two, until they begin to soften. Add the red chili powder, ginger garlic paste and frozen peas. Continue cooking until the peas soften. Remove from the heat.

    3. COMBINE in a large bowl the mashed potatoes, garam masala, chaat masala, salt, lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Add the sautéed onions. Stir well to combine, using your hands if needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference.

    4. SCOOP ½ cup of the mixture and shape into patties about 3¾” wide. Set aside.

    5. CRUMB COAT the patties. Place the breadcrumbs on a plate. In a shallow bowl, mix the cornstarch and enough water to make a runny paste.

    6. DIP each patty into the cornstarch mix, then into the breadcrumbs, back again into the cornstarch and then again into the breadcrumbs. This double coating gives the patties a very crisp texture that will stay crisper, longer.

    7. FRY the patties. Heat the oil for deep frying in a small skillet. Place a wire rack over a baking tray for draining. Working in small batches, deep-fry each patty on low-medium heat until golden brown all over. Drain on the wire rack, letting the excess oil drip off. Alternatively, you can use paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

    8. ASSEMBLE the burger with the fried patties with your favorite burger fixings: Sesame topped burger buns, baby greens (instead of just plain lettuce), dairy-free cheese, vegan mayonnaise, caramelized onions, red onion rings, tomatoes, pickles and ketchup.

    The correct spelling is patty. Patties is the plural form, so many folks assumed the singular to be pattie.

    The dictionary does not recognize “pattie” as a word; although the York Candy Company chose this [incorrect] spelling for their York Peppermint Pattie.

    The word “patty” first appeared in English around 1700, derived from the French pâté.

    It first referred to an item of food covered with dough or batter, then fried or baked (oyster patties was a popular dish). It then referred to ground or minced food; and finally, the thin, round candy we call a peppermint patty.

    We’d be remiss not to note that Peppermint Patty is also a character from the Peanuts comic series.

    *In the Hindi-Urdu and Marathi languages, aloo are potatoes and tikki are patties. Tikki also means croquette or cutlet.

    †Don’t think of baking them instead. It loses the crispiness for which the snack is known. Better to bake a seasoned mashed potato casserole and let the edges crisp up.

    ‡Chaat masala is a spice blend that typically consists of amchur/amchoor (dried mango powder), cumin, coriander, dried ginger, salt (often kala namak), black pepper, asafoetida (hing) and chili powder. You can substitute a mix of cumin powder, amchur powder, chili powder and salt. However, if you need to buy amchur powder, you might as well by chaat masala.



    RECIPE: Duck Fat French Fries

    National French Fry Day is July 19th, but this recipe is winter comfort food.

    Duck fat fries are a special treat, beloved among chefs. They’re a great accompaniment to grilled meat, roasted chicken, and yes, duck.

    In this recipe the fries are pan baked, resulting in a crisp duck fat crunch and an aromatic blend of roasted garlic and herbs.

    If you prefer to deep fat fry, the recipe is below.

    This oven-baked recipe is from Kita Roberts of the Girl Carnivore blog. Read Kita’s full post here.

    She calls the fries by their French name, frites (freet, French for “fries”).

    We really like her added touches of truffle oil and rosemary, and the flavorful aïoli dip (that’s garlic mayonnaise—see more uses for aïoli here).

    Double the batch and use it on sandwiches, vegetables (including crudités), potato chips and other dippables and spreadables.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

    For The Potatoes

  • 4 large russet Idaho® potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into ¼˝ strips (it’s best to use a mandoline)
  • ½ cup rendered duck fat, room temperature (see duck fat information below)

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon truffle oil
  • 2 cloves chopped roasted garlic
  • Fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, chopped
  • Jacobsen rosemary salt*
    Ingredients For The Aïoli

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon truffle oil
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Smoked salt†
  • Coarse ground black pepper

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Toss the sliced potatoes in a dish with the duck fat, reserving 2 tablespoons of fat. Season liberally with salt.

    2. RUB 2 baking sheets with a thin layer of the reserved duck fat. Arrange the potatoes on the baking sheets in a single layer.

    3. BAKE for 25-30 minutes until golden and crunchy, flipping the fries and rotating the pans halfway through cook time. Meanwhile…

    4. MAKE the aïoli. Whisk the mayo, mustard and Worcestershire together in a small bowl. Drizzle the truffle oil, chopped rosemary, rosemary salt and pepper over top. Set aside. When the fries are removed from the oven…

    5. TOSS with truffle oil and season with the chopped roasted garlic, herbs and rosemary salt. Allow the fries to cool for a few minutes. Serving with the aïoli.


    D’Artagnan, specialist in duck products, offers these tips to make your deep-fat fries—fried in any type of fat—the best.

  • Double-Fry. The secret to the perfect French fry in any fat is the double-fry method. The first fry is to cook the potato through. The second fry, at a higher temperature, is to give them maximum crispness.
  • Melt The Duck Fat. Using a heavy-bottomed pot with high sides, heat the fat to about 325°F. Use a deep-frying/candy thermometer to get an accurate reading.
  • Cut The Potatoes Into Sticks (julienne). Cook the potato sticks in small batches to avoid dramatically dropping the temperature of the hot fat. After about 5 to 7 minutes, test the doneness by poking a fry with a sharp knife point. The knife should slide in and out with no resistance.
  • The First Fry. When the potatoes are cooked through, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon, spider skimmer, or tong. Drain on a sheet tray covered in paper towels. After all of the batches are cooked and cooled, raise the heat under the pot and bring the melted duck fat to 350°F.
  • The Second Fry. Return the fries to the pot, in batches, for only about 1 minute. Drain on fresh paper towels.
  • Season Them. Sprinkle the fries right away with your choice of sea salt, black pepper, paprika, parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, or whatever seasonings you like (we like truffle salt). Doing this step while the fries are still hot will help the seasonings to stick.
  • Love those fries!


    People who cook ducks and geese typically render the fat and freeze it for future use.

    Those who don’t cook and render can buy rendered duck fat.

    Check your specialty food store, or fine butcher, or order online from D’Artagnan or other e-tailer.


    [1] A grilled steak with duck fat fries and aioli dip (photo © #1 and #2 Girl Carnivore | Idaho Potato Commission).

    [2] Mmmm…can you have a meal consisting of all French fries?

    [3] A cheeseburger with duck fat fries (photo © Benjamin Zanatta | Unsplash).

    [4] Duck fat fries are delicious with any grilled meats (including burgers and veggie burgers) and poultry (photo © Tim Toomey | Unsplash).

    [5] You can buy rendered duck fat from specialty food companies like D’Artagnan (photo © D’Artagnan).

    Pure duck fat, usually from Moulard ducks, has a silky mouthfeel, subtle flavor, and a high smoke point.

    The smoke point makes duck fat perfect for high-heat cooking. Chefs consider it the best animal fat for cooking, and it enhances the flavor of anything it touches—including eggs, potatoes and other vegetables, as well as meat and poultry.

    While it may sound like a cholesterol orgy, there are actually health benefits to duck fat.

  • Duck fat contains 35.7% saturated, 50.5% monounsaturated fat (high in linoleic acid) and 13.7% polyunsaturated fats (which contains Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids).
  • Goose fat is similar to duck fat; both are dark meat birds. The major difference between goose and duck fat is that goose fat tends to be more gamey and duck fat has a light, sweet flavor [source].
  • Olive oil which 75% monounsaturated fat (mostly oleic acid), 13% saturated fat, 10% Omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% Omega-3 linoleic acid.
    The main difference between chicken, turkey and duck fats is that duck fat contains more linoleic acid, while chicken and turkey fats contain a higher amount of polyunsaturated fats.

    Duck and goose fat are more like olive oil than they are like butter.

    Here’s more about it.

    Check out good fats vs. bad fats.

    *You can buy Jacobson Rosemary Salt from their website or from Amazon. Or, you can mix dried rosemary with kosher salt or coarse sea salt.

    †If you don’t have smoked salt, you can make it. Or, substitute black lava salt (kala namak). Or simply use regular sea salt. You won’t get that hint of smoke, but the dip will still be delicious.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Sweet Potato Toast

    A few years ago we suggested sweet potato toast as an alternative to avocado toast, beet toast, eggplant toast, hummus toast, mushroom toast and green pea toast.

    We provided a recipe from Chef François Payard, who put a gourmet twist on the sweet potatoes with caramelized onions, balsamic vinaigrette and sliced roasted sweet potatoes instead of mashed.

    Here’s the recipe.

    Today, we take a different approach: sweet potato toast with lots of topping choices.

    We like it for breakfast, lunch or a nutritious snack.

    While a spread of mashed or puréed sweet potatoes on crusty sourdough toast is a simple pleasure, the fun in this recipe is the toppings.

    For a brunch serving suggestion: Provide different toppings in ramekins for DIY creations.

    The most time-consuming part of the recipe—preparing the sweet potatoes—can be done days in advance.

    We have always baked or boiled the sweet potatoes for mashing, with some added butter for richness, a bit of maple syrup and sprinkle of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spices.

    But the current trend is to slice them horizontally and roast them. The slices are then placed atop the toast. (An alternative is to use thick vertical slices instead of toast.)

    The sliced potatoes look nicer on the bread, but are not as neat to eat. Mashed potatoes stick to the toast; sliced potatoes don’t. The choice is yours.

    Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ – 1/2″ slices
  • Olive oil for roasting
  • Butter for mashing
  • Optional seasonings: butter, cinnamon, salt, pepper
  • Toppings of choice
    Sweet Potato Toast Toppings

    There are both sweet and savory toppings.

    The sweet toppings are fruit with optional nuts and seeds, and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey.

    Savory options include everything from cheese and veggies to bacon and hummus. Take a look, then mix and match:

  • Drizzles: EVOO, maple syrup
  • Cheeses: crumbled feta or goat, grated or shaved parmesan, ricotta, shredded cheddar or Swiss
  • Eggs: fried, hard boiled, scrambled
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, figs, pomegranate arils
  • Meats: bacon, ham, prosciutto, sausage
  • Nuts: chopped, sliced, raw, toasted
  • Seeds: chia, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame
  • Spreads: guacamole, hummus, nut butter
  • Sprinkles: cinnamon, cinnamon sugar, nutmeg, pie spice blend, savory herbs
  • Vegetables: avocado, caramelized onions, cucumber, radishes, shredded carrots, scallions, tomato

    Using the oven:

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. SLICE the sweet potatoes evenly, 1/4″ – 1/2″, using a sharp knife or a mandoline.

    3. LIGHTLY oil both sides of the sweet potato slices (we toss them with our hands), and place them on a baking sheet.

    4. BAKE for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. You can flip them after 15 minutes and bake another 10-12 minutes until a fork can easily pierce through the center.

    5. SLICE or mash the potatoes, as you prefer.

    6. TOAST the bread. Assemble the sweet potatoes and toppings on the toast, or let people choose their toppings and assemble their own.

    Toaster Oven Technique:

    Toasting the slices for 4-5 minutes; test for doneness.

    Sweet potatoes have long been ranked high in nutritional value. They are a whole, real, nutrient-dense food.

    One medium sweet potato is about 100 calories and:

  • Dietary fiber: 4 grams per potato—which helps to provide feelings of fullness and satiety to control food intake.
  • Low in fat.
  • Minerals & vitamins: a rich source of potassium, vitamins A and E, antioxidants and beta-carotene.
  • Low glycemic index: unlike white potatoes, which have a high glycemic index.
  • Gluten-free: plus Paleo and Keto and Whole30 approved.

    [1] Mashed sweet potatoes topped with mashed avocado, goat cheese and pomegranate arils (photos #1, #2 and #3 © Hello Fresh).

    [2] Something sweet: mashed sweet potatoes topped with sliced apples and blueberries.

    [3] Mashed sweet potatoes with sliced figs, pepitas and a honey drizzle.

    [4] Sweet potatoes have a great nutritional profile (photo © North Carolina Sweet Potatoes).

    [5] The next time you make mashed sweet potatoes, make extra for toast. It will keep in the fridge for a week (photo © Burpee).




    Top Pick Of The Week: Sovany Sparkling Fruit Waters

    [1] Sovány is the only organic sparkling fruit-flavored water (all photos © Sovány Beverage Company).

    [2] Whether straight from the fridge or chilled on ice, the flavors are most refreshing—and very low in calories.

    [3] Add fresh fruit and/or herbs for a fizzy mocktail.

    [4] In addition to individual cans, you can buy Sovány in 12-packs or 24-packs.


    Sovány is something new on the healthy beverage scene: A line of sparkling waters made with USDA organic fruit.

    In fact, it’s the first sparkling water made with organic fruits. You’ll notice the real fruit flavor from the first sip.

    Sovány is an elegant refresher and can substitute nicely for a higher-calorie glass of wine.

    Drink it alone, or use it as a mixer. We think you’ll love it.

    This elegant flavored sparkler has just 20 calories per 12-ounce can. The first three flavors in the line are:

  • Brilliant Orange
  • Ingenious Apple
  • Remarkable Raspberry
    There’s also Simply Sparkling, an unflavored, nicely carbonated water.

    The three flavors contain a whopping 12% organic fruit juice, with no added sugar.

    By comparison, Sovány’s “real fruit juice” competitors often include 6% or less juice (and not organic, either), plus added sugar [source].

    The sweet fruit flavor comes from the unsweetened fruit juice. There is no sugar added. The sweetness is that which naturally occurs in the organic fruits.

    We guarantee that Sovány Sparkling Flavored Beverages will deliver refreshing moments of guilt-free happiness: low-calorie with fresh, natural-tasting fruit flavor.

    And environmentally friendly.

    The line is:

  • Certified organic
  • Certified kosher by OU
  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-Free
  • Low Glycemic
  • Preservative-Free
  • Paleo- & Keto-Friendly
  • Committed to fair trade and sustainable production
  • Cans are 100% recycled and BPA-free aluminum
    Sovány is not just delicious; it’s better for you and the planet.

    During the summer of 2017, company founder Marcella Fodor was craving a refreshing, tasty beverage that would fit her healthy lifestyle.

    Underwhelmed by what she found in stores, she started mixing sparkling water and organic juices in her kitchen.

    The blends became a staple in her fridge, and when friends started craving the recipe, Marcella knew she was on to something good.

    The product name, Sovány, derives from founder Marcella Fodor’s Hungarian roots. It’s the Hungarian term for ‘slim,’ which translates in the minimalist design and approach of the brand.

  • Amazon
  • Sovany Website (currently sold at Albertsons, New Seasons Market, Randall’s, Erewhon, Central Markets)
  • Store Locator




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