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How About A Flight Of Margaritas For Brunch?

[1] A flight of five Margarita flavors (both photos © Resorts World | Las Vegas).

[2] There’s also Bottomless Sangria, Bianca (in photo) or Rosa.


Oh, to be in Las Vegas for brunch, with the flight of five Margaritas (photo #1) at ¡Viva! restaurant in the Resorts World hotel. You can relax as you sip on:

  • Mango
  • Passion Fruit
  • Spicy Cucumber
  • ¡VIVA-Rita! (classic)
  • Watermelon
    Yes, please!

    (By the way, here are Margarita recipes to make these and many more Margaritas.)

    There’s also Bottomless Sangria, in Roja or Blanca (photo #2)…

    But perhaps it’s not advisable after the five Margaritas. (At least, it wouldn’t be for us. You be your own judge.)

    Also on the new brunch menu are these Mexican faves:

  • Breakfast Burrito: applewood smoked bacon, scrambled eggs, tater tots, cheddar cheese, guacamole, salsa tatemada
  • Camarones Tacos: marinated shrimp, cabbage slaw, cilantro crema, guacamole
  • Chilaquiles: heirloom corn tortilla chips, sunny side up eggs, rancho salsa, queso fresco
  • Chorizo Con Huevos: pork chorizo, scrambled eggs, refried lentils, fingerling potatoes, flour tortillas
  • Huevos Rancheros: cheese gordita, sunny side up eggs, ranchero salsa, salsa verde
  • Coliflór Al Pastor Tacos: roasted cauliflower, cashew crema, grilled pineapple
  • Pozole: heritage pork, heirloom hominy, guajillo chile broth, radish, cabbage
    ¡Viva! chef Ray Garcia brings a modern approach to dishes that highlight Mexico’s bright and bold flavors, including the coastal ingredients found in the Alta California region.

    Where’s Alta California? Check it out!


    *Every region of Mexico has a chunky, fire-roasted salsa, made from tomatoes, onions and chiles. The salsa is called tatemada (from the Spanish tatemar, to roast or to grill). If the salsa is mashed instead of left chunky, it’s called martajada (from martajar, to crush or pound). The chile is typically the differentiated ingredient. For example, in the Yucatan, it’s the fiery habanero. In the north (as well as in Arizona and New Mexico) it’s the mild Anaheim chile. Check out the different types of chiles.

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    Easy Apple Cake Recipe For Rosh Hashanah (& Every Day)

    The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, begins today and is celebrated for two days. It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days specified by Leviticus 23:23–32, that occur each year. Symbolic foods include:

  • Apples and honey
  • Challah
  • Couscous With Seven Vegetables
  • Dates
  • Fish
  • Honey cake
  • Leeks, chard or spinach
  • New (i.e. seasonal) fruit
    Here’s the scoop about these symbolic foods.

    The classic honey cake, spiced with allspice, cinnamon and cloves, got edged out in our home. Mom preferred to make an apple cake (apple = “new fruit”)—honey cakes can be bland.

    The recipe below is from our colleague Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet Blog; but we’ve included Mom’s favorite garnish.

    “You don’t have to celebrate Rosh Hashanah to enjoy a moist apple cake with tender fruit,” Says Hannah.

    “Dense with tender fruit and a moist crumb,” Hannah continues, “it’s a homey, humble dessert that is as soothing to make as it is to eat.

    “Such an easy-going treat would be welcome for any celebration, but is also just as well suited for an everyday simple indulgence.”

    That’s right: This cake is delicious anytime, for snacking or dessert. We made it yesterday for Sunday brunch.

    It’s great anytime with a cup of coffee or tea, or for dessert with a scoop of ice cream and/or a drizzle of caramel sauce.

    The garnish favored by our Mom: sautéed apples with raisins and pecans or walnuts. Dried cranberries can be substituted for the walnuts.

    We want it all: sautéed apples, caramel sauce and a dab of mascarpone.

    Hannah, who is vegan, made the recipe with oil; but you can substitute an equal amount of butter (which we did).

    Use Honeycrisp and/or Granny Smith apples if you prefer your cake more tart; or Gala and/or Fuji for a sweeter experience.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 90 minutes.

  • 2 cups peeled and diced apples
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 cup butter or neutral oil (avocado, grapeseed, rice bran), plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Optional for serving: caramel sauce, ice cream, sautéed apples, whipped cream

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Generously grease and flour a 12-cup tube pan or bundt cake pan.

    2. TOSS the apples in a bowl with the lemon juice and water. This will help prevent them from oxidizing and turning brown. Add the applesauce, butter/oil, and both types of sugar, mixing thoroughly to combine. In a separate bowl…

    3. WHISK together the flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, folding the two together with a large spatula. Stir until just combined, being careful not to over-mix (overmixing makes the crumb tough].

    4. TRANSFER the batter to the prepared pan, smoothing out the top with the spatula. Tap the pan a few times on the counter to release any air bubbles. Cover the pan with aluminum foil so it doesn’t get too brown too quickly.

    5. BAKE for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing and serving.


    [1] An easy-to-make, delightful-to-eat apple cake (photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).

    [2] Use Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples for a slightly more tart flavor (photo © The Fruit Company).

    [3] Granny Smith apples are another tart option. Some bakers like to mix two different apple types (photos #3, #4 and #5 © Good Eggs).

    Gala Apples
    [4] Gala apples are a sweeter variety.
    [5] Fuji apples, another a sweeter apple, can be mixed with Fuji apples.

    [6] You can make the cake with butter or oil (photo © Sorin Gheorghita | Unsplash).



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    4505 Butcher’s Snack Sticks: Great Meat Sticks, Protein-Packed!

    [1] Just peel and eat. The packaging lets you consume the whole stick without needing a napkin (all photos © 4505 Meats).

    [2] A trio of flavors: Cheddar, Red Hot and Original. Each two-ounce stick delivers 24g protein.

    [3] Which would you rather have?

    [4] Treat yourself to a box; above, Cheddar & Uncured Bacon.

    [5] Prefer something hotter? Here it is!


    Earlier this year, we were delighted to try the limited edition “Cheesse-Charones,” cheese flavored chicharrones from 4505 meats in San Francisco. They elevated conventional chicharrones so much, that we should have made them a Top Pick Of The Week. We’re remedying that error with this week’s Top Pick: 4505 Butcher’s Snack Sticks.

    In 2009, chef and butcher Ryan Farr began to make chicharrones from leftover pork fat, selling them to local bars for extra cash.

    They sold so well that Farr started 4505 Meats: an artisan, whole-animal butchery company devoted to sustainable practices and a desire to bring people simple-ingredient, low-or-no-carbohydrate, high protein foods.

    The pork comes from humanely-raised, vegetarian-fed pigs, which are raised without antibiotics, on family farms, in stress-free environments.

    We’re don’t usually eat meat snacks. Most of them are too tough or fatty for us and many are made with lesser-quality meat that requires too much spice.

    But we’re pretty thrilled with 4505 Butcher’s Snack Sticks. They’re tender, meaty and beautifully seasoned.

    Beyond snacks, we’ve served them:

  • With breakfast eggs
  • In a hot dog roll
  • As a wrap sandwich
  • Sliced onto a green salad
  • Diced into potato salad and grain salads
  • As a pasta and pizza topping
  • On a cheese board
  • With beer, cocktails and wine
    The flavor and texture are delightful.

    The new Paleo-friendly Snack Sticks are so delicious that we, don’t like to think of them as sausage links, a name that connotes a cheap snack for us.

    No, these are artisan meat sticks, crafted by artisan butchers from premium meat and nicely seasoned with the finest spices.

    The sticks are 98% pork and 2% seasonings, stuffed into a beef collagen casing.

    They’re an irresistible snack, packed with protein: 24g per stick, more protein than any meat stick currently in the market. They deliver great, meaty flavor; and nicely filling.

    Each stick is two ounces, is Keto-certified, Paleo-friendly and gluten-free. They’re made in three delicious flavors:

  • Original Recipe, a take on a bratwurst, seasoned with caraway and thyme (24g p4otein, 170 calories)
  • Cheddar & Uncured Bacon, studded with chunks of Cheddar cheese and uncured bacon (24g protein, 190 calories)
  • Red Hot, spiced with cayenne, coriander, paprika and a bit of yellow mustard (24g protein, 170 calories)
    These are not just another sausage or meat stick.

    You’ll immediately taste the higher-quality meat, from pigs raised with no antibiotics or added hormones. No nitrites or nitrates are used in the sticks.

    The products are available in grocery stores nationwide, and in the company’s Amazon store.

    While you’re at it, pick up some pork rinds (chicharonnes) and cracklings (the difference).

    Thinking ahead: a single stick makes a party favor or stocking stuffer. A box of 12 is a yummy gift for any meat lover (or beer lover!).

    For more information on visit



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    Coconut Recipe Ideas For World Coconut Day

    September 2nd is World Coconut Day, a holiday observed big-time in the Asian and Pacific countries, which are home to most of the world’s coconut producing countries. National Coconut Day in the U.S. is June 26th.

    World Coconut Day was established to increase public awareness of the health and commercial benefits of coconut, a fruit that has been on earth for millions of years, much to the benefit of humanity (we’ll talk further about that in a bit).

    While some Americans might think that our coconuts come from Hawaii, the top three coconut producers, representing 75% of the world output, are Indonesia (17+ metric tons), Philippines and India (both around 15 metric tons).

    Smaller quantities from 2.5 to .5 metric tons are produced in Sri Lanka, Brazil, Vietnam, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Malaysia [source].

    Yes, but only on the coconut palm tree (Cocos nucifera), a member of the palm family (Arecaceae). The family includes a variety of plants: climbers, shrubs, tree-like and stemless plants. All are commonly known as palms.

    Yet with all the Arecaceae members, the coconut palm is the only extant species of the genus Cocos, i.e., the only tree that bears coconuts.

    Coconut palm trees grow up to 100 feet tall. Each tree can yield up to 75 fruits per year, though fewer than 30 is more typical.

    The trees are intolerant of cold weather and prefer copious precipitation, as well as full sunlight; i.e., the tropics.

    The term “coconut” (the archaic spelling was cocoanut) can refer to the whole coconut palm tree, the seed or the fruit.

    Yes, the coconut is botanically a fruit, not a nut. The “nut” portion of its name was given because of its similarity to hard-shell nuts.

    The part of the coconut that we eat is the inner flesh (called coconut meat) of the mature seed of the coconut palm. Here’s another bit of botany: Coconuts are drupes.

    Drupes (here’s more about them) include stone fruits (apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, plum, etc.; and tropical fruits like coconut and mango. Nuts—almonds, hickory nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts—are also drupes; as are peppercorns.

    And there’s yet another group of drupes typically not eaten raw, which includes coffee and olives†.

    The coconuts is different from these drupes, A coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, also known as a dry drupe.

  • Most palms trees, including date, sabal, coconut and oil palms, are drupes.
  • Unlike other drupes, the coconut palm’s endosperm (the flesh inside the shell) contains a large quantity of clear liquid, called coconut water or coconut juice.
    The name coconut comes from the old Portuguese word coco, meaning head or skull. Why?

    There are three indentations on the coconut shell that were thought to resemble facial features.

    The coconut palm is one of the most useful trees in the world. It provides food (flesh, coconut milk and coconut water*, cooking oil), fuel and building materials, and is used in cosmetics and homeopathic medicine, among many other uses (hence, the tree of life).

  • The hard shell is turned into charcoal or dissolved to make printer’s ink and pesticides.
  • Coconut fiber, called coir, is extracted from the outer husk of coconut and used in products such as floor mats, doormats, brushes and mattresses.
  • Dried coconut flesh, called copra, is shredded for food, and the oil and milk pressed from it are commonly used in cooking (particularly frying).
  • Coconut oil is used in soaps and cosmetics.
  • Sap from the tree is made into drinks or fermented into palm wine or coconut vinegar.
  • The shells, fibrous husks and long pinnate leaves are used as materials in a variety of furnishings, home decoration and art.
    The tree of life, indeed!


    No one knows exactly when the first coconut palm tree appeared, but the oldest coconut fossils found date to some 55 million years ago [source].

    Coconuts were domesticated in prehistoric times by the Austronesian peoples, indigenous to Taiwan.

    Coconuts likely were first cultivated on islands in Southeast Asia: the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and perhaps on the continent as well. In the Indian Ocean, the likely center of cultivation was the southern periphery of India, including Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the Laccadives [source].

    They subsequently expanded to Madagascar, Maritime Southeast Asia and Oceania. Coconuts were spread during the Neolithic era (from 10,000 B.C.E. to 4,500 B.C.E.) via seaborne migrations of people…and the fruit, which can float, may well have made its way across oceans.

    Coconuts played a crucial role in the long sea voyages of early people. They provided a portable source of food and water, as well as building materials for outrigger boats.

    Coconuts were later spread along the coasts of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans by Arab, European and South Asian sailors. Arab sailors carried coconuts from India to East Africa as long as 2,000 years ago [source].

    Arab traders also introduced coconuts to Europeans, first along the trans-Asian Silk Roads. Among the traders was the Venetian adventurer Marco Polo, who encountered the tree in Egypt in the 13th century, calling its fruit “the Pharaoh’s nut” [ibid].

    Here’s more about how coconuts reached Europe.

    Coconuts Reach The Americas

    Coconuts were introduced by Europeans to the Americas during the colonial era of the Columbian Exchange, following the voyage to the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

    However, to dig into the ancient past, there is evidence of a possible pre-Columbian introduction of coconuts to Panama by Austronesian sailors [source].

    For the present, think of what coconut recipes you’d like to try, to celebrate World Coconut Day.

  • Coconut Cake (recipe)
  • Coconut Cream Pie (recipe)
  • Coconut Custard Pie
  • Coconut Ice Cream (hack: soften vanilla ice cream and blend in shredded coconut)
  • Coconut Macaroons (photo #7—recipe)
  • Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Coconut Batter Shrimp (photo #5—recipe)
  • Coconut Rice
  • German Chocolate Cake (photo #6—recipe)
  • Piña Colada (recipe)

    [1] Looking up to the top of a coconut palm tree (photo © Gerson Repreza | Unsplash).

    [2] Clusters of coconuts growing on a tree. When the coconuts are green, they contain more water than meat. These are cut down before they develop their hard, brown shell (photo © Tome 213 | RGB Stock).

    [3] The mature coconut, with a hard brown shell, yields white coconut meat. The shells are turned into charcoal or dissolved into printer’s ink and pesticides (photo © Tijana Drndarski | Unsplash).

    Pina Colada
    [4] Piña Colada, one of our favorite drinks. Here’s the original recipe (photo © Tommy Bahama).

    [5] Coconut fried shrimp, also called coconut battered shrimp. Here’s a recipe (photo © Dons Bogam | NYC).

    [6] German chocolate cake uses coconut in the filling and frosting. Here’s a recipe (photo © Betty Crocker).

    [7] Coconut macaroons. Here’s a recipe (photo © Djwtwo | CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0-License).


    *Coconut water occurs naturally within the fruit; coconut milk is a processed beverage.

    †Olives cannot be eaten from the tree. They contain oleuropein and phenolic compounds, which, while not poisonous, must be removed or at least, reduced, to make the olive palatable.


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    Fig Appetizer: Figs In A Blanket With Blue Cheese & Prosciutto

    [1] Take advantage of fresh figs to serve with breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert (photo © Heather Barnes Wesual | Unsplash).

    [2] Deep Ellum Blue Cheese (photos #2 and #3 © Mozzarella Company).

    [3] The blue in Deep Ellum Blue is on the top (rind) of the cheese, not in the paste. Yes, do eat the rind!

    [4] Prosciutto di Parma. You can substitute its Spanish cousin, serrano ham (photo © DiBruno Bros.).

    Frisee Fig Salad
    [5] Frisée salad topped with figs (photo © SXC).

    [6] Add them to crostini or bruschetta. Here’s the recipe with blue cheese (photo © The Daily Deelight).


    Ah, fresh figs: a seasonal delight. Dried figs are available year-round, but there’s a certain joy of biting into the pliant flesh of a fresh fig.

    Figs may be one of the first foods cultivated by man. Fig cultivation precedes the domestication of barley, legumes and wheat, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture.

    In the millennia before Europe and the Middle East had access to cane sugar or beet sugar, figs were used, in addition to honey, as sweet snacks and to sweeten cakes, puddings and other desserts.

    Here’s more on the history of figs.

    In addition to the eating figs out of hand, with the cheese course, and in the featured appetizer recipe below—serve figs:

  • Bake a delicious fig tart.
  • Cook with roast chicken or pork.
  • Dip into cheese or chocolate fondue.
  • Make a light compote to top ice cream or cheesecake (here’s the recipe).
  • Pair with cheeses—everything from fresh goat cheese to your favorite strong cheeses.
  • Slice onto a cream cheese or goat cheese sandwich on multigrain or raisin bread.
  • Top a green salad (photo #5).frisée salad.


    This recipe is from the Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide by American cheese-making royalty Paula Lambert of The Mozzarella Company.Recipe copyright © 2000 by Paula Lambert.

    The figs are wrapped in prosciutto along with Paula’s Deep Ellum Blue cheese.

    Since the “blanket” is prosciutto, not pastry, it’s also a low carb, gluten-free appetizer.

    About Deep Ellum Blue Cheese

    Unlike other blue cheeses, Deep Ellum Blue has no blue veins. The “blue” is the diamond-scored, blue-mold-mottled, edible rind (photos #2 and #3).

    Deep Ellum Blue is soft, creamy and spreadable. Its flavor is robust and earthy, but not too strong or salty. Serve it on a cheese plate, as a slice atop a green salad, or atop chicken, beef and veal dishes.

    It’s is especially good with Port and dessert wines. You can order Blue Ellum here.

    Deep Ellum Blue is named for the location in Dallas where The Mozzarella Company’s cheese factory is located. The name also recalls the neighborhood’s legendary blues singers of years past.

    If you can’t get your hands on it, look for another creamy blue: Cambozola Blue (Germany) or Double Crème Blue from Castello Cheese (Denmark), for example.

    How To Serve Figs In A Blanket

    Figs In A Blanket recipe are delicious as an appetizer, with a glass of wine, and as:

  • A green salad topping, dressed with simple vinaigrette.
  • Dessert with with a glass of Port or other dessert wine. If you want to add fresh fruit, get pears.
  • A side with other dishes. We served them at breakfast with an omelet, and with grilled meats and seafood.
    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided for separate use
  • 8 very thin slices prosciutto (about 1/4 pound)
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled Deep Ellum Blue
  • 8 fresh ripe figs (substitute 8 dried figs plumped in 1/2 cup white wine and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Garnish: 4 mint leaves, cut into thin strips (how to julienne)

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Brush a non-stick baking sheet with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Separate the slices of prosciutto and cut each in half so that there are 16 pieces of sliced prosciutto. Set aside.

    2. DIVIDE the Deep Ellum Blue into 16 pieces and roll them into small balls. Cut the figs in half. Press your thumb into the cut side of each fig to make an indentation.

    3. PLACE a ball of cheese into the indentation of each fig. Wrap each fig tightly with a piece of prosciutto, taking care to completely enclose the Deep Ellum Blue so that it won’t run out while baking. Gently squeeze the prosciutto-wrapped figs to seal the packets and place the figs on the prepared baking sheet with the prosciutto seam down.

    4. POUR the balsamic vinegar, the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and honey into a small dish and stir to combine. Transfer the figs to the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt and the prosciutto begins to brown.

    5. REMOVE from the oven and, using a spoon or a silicone basting brush, drizzle the balsamic vinegar dressing over the figs.

    6. SERVE. Place the Figs In A Blanket, while still warm, on a platter and sprinkle with the mint; or use in any of the other recipes mentioned above.


  • Chocolate-Dipped Figs
  • Fig & Brie Bruschetta
  • Fresh Fig Compote
  • How To Use Fig Spread
  • Ricotta, Honey & Figs
  • Uses For Dried Figs


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