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RECIPE: Saké Hot Toddy For National Hot Toddy Day


[1] A Saké Hot Toddy (photo © Saké One).

Hot Toddy
[2] A Cider Hot Toddy (photo © Hella Cocktail Co.).


[3] A Whiskey Hot Toddy (photo © Ruth’s Chris Steak House).


[4] A close up on shichi hon yari label, an earthy, rustic style of saké (photo © Englewood Wine Merchants).

 

January 11th is National Hot Toddy Day.

A Hot Toddy is a cocktail made with whiskey or sherry, boiling water, sugar and spices.

  • When the whiskey is specified, it becomes, e.g., a Rum Toddy or a Bourbon Toddy.
  • When a pat of butter is added, it’s called Hot Buttered Rum.
  •  
    Warm alcoholic beverages such as glogg, mulled wine and toddies originated in Northern Europe, where beer, cider, wine and spirits were mulled with sugar and spices to add some cheer to cold winter days.

    Toddies can be made of any spirit—bourbon, brandy, tequila, Scotch and other whiskeys are popular.

    Hot buttered rum was a favorite in Colonial America. Distilleries in the Colonies were making rum from the molasses by the 1650s, and “hot buttered rum” joined the toddies and nogs of English tradition (a nog is a beverage made of beaten eggs).

    Here’s the recipe for a conventional Hot Toddy.

    You may see recipes for creamy toddies, which add cream or ice cream to the basic recipe. These are new interpretations, not traditional toddies, which were not cream beverages.

    But here’s a new interpretation that fuses East and West: a Saké Toddy recipe from Saké One.
     
     
    WHAT IS SAKÉ?

    Saké is about as old as any food we can pin a date on: a 6800-year-old beverage.

    Saké-making implements have been discovered in the Yangtze River Valley in China, dating back to 4800 B.C.E.—about the time that nomadic man settled down to farm.

    According to some anthropologists, the reason for this lifestyle change was so that man could grow rice to turn into saké, ensuring he could enjoy it on a regular basis.

    It’s the same rationale for nomads settling down to farm in the Fertile Crescent: to brew barley for beer.

    Saké is made from four ingredients: rice, water, yeast and koji, an enzyme particular to saké-making.

    Saké is fermented and brewed like beer, and served like wine. It is also characterized as a wine because of its higher alcohol content.

    Here’s more about saké.
     
     
    WHAT KIND OF SAKE SHOULD YOU USE?

    Use whatever saké you have on hand, such as junmai or ginjo. You may want to hold back on nigori, which is sweet, cloudy saké, until you’ve tried the recipe with a dry saké.

    Even flavored saké works, such as Saké One’s Moonstone Asian Pear Infused Ginjo.
     
     
    RECIPE: SAKÉ HOT TODDY

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 6 ounces saké
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Optional: Whole Cloves, Nutmeg, Fresh Ginger
  • Garnish: lemon wedge, cinnamon stick
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the lemon juice and honey into glass or mug. Warm saké to your liking, including the spices as desired.

    2. POUR the heated saké into glass or mug, mix until honey dissolves.

    3. GARNISH with cinnamon stick and lemon wedge. Add optional spices and ginger slices to taste. Kanpai!

     

     
      

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    RECIPE: Greek Yogurt Dip & Sauce

    We’ve given up trying to lose weight as a New Year’s resolution, so more than a decade ago, we decided we’d give up a different less-good-for-you food every year.

    These included fried foods, drinks with sugar, pizza and whole milk. Instead of every day or every week, we have them four times a year or so (O.K., pizza is once a month).

    One of these resolutions was to substitute 0% or 2% Greek yogurt for sour cream.

    We eat a lot of crudités with dips, so it was a good reduction in fat and calories.
     
     
    RECIPE: HERBED GREEK YOGURT DIP & SAUCE

    This dip is very flexible.

  • Use whole milk yogurt for a thicker dip.
  • Turn it into a salad dressing by thinning with 1/4 to 1/3 cup milk or olive oil.
  • You can also use the thinned dressing as a marinade.
  • For more flavor, add two tablespoons of lemon juice and a clove of minced garlic.
  • Use it as a sauce on chicken, fish and lamb, and as a garnish on grains or cooked vegetables.
  •  
    Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional: cucumber slices
  •  
    To Serve

  • Crudités
  • Toasted pita wedges or pita chips
  •  
    Preparation

     


    [1] Herbed yogurt dip in a beautiful presentation from Elea Restaurant in New York City (photo © Elea).


    [2] Crudités. Perhaps you have some serving dishes that will make the presentation more dramatic, like this seafood tower (photo © Australian Asparagus Growers)?

     
    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

    2. COVER and chill for at 4 – 8 hours or preferably, overnight, to allow the flavors to blend.

    3. GARNISH with a drizzle of olive oil. We like the idea of crowning the dip with cucumber slices for an arresting presentation.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 20 Ways To Enjoy Dried Apricots

    Apricots
    [1] The large pit in the center is why apricots, cherries, peaches and plums are called stone fruits (photo © Washington State Fruit Commission).

    Dried Apricots
    [2] Cut in half, remove the stone and dry in the heat, and you have bowl of dried apricots (photo Olha Afanasieva | iStock Photo.


    [3] As appetizers, sweet-and-salty roll-ups of dried apricots and prosciutto or serrano ham (the difference) hit the spot (photo © Landana Cheese).


    [4] Apricot cookies dipped in dark chocolate. Here’s the recipe from Betty Crocker.


    [5] Add diced apricot to cottage cheese, yogurt, grains, salads—just about anyplace you’d like a touch of sweetness.

     

    Yesterday, January 9th was National Apricot Day.

    Because fresh apricots aren’t in season until summer, we recommended making these couldn’t-be-easier chocolate-dipped dried apricots.

    They’re delicious with coffee and tea, as part of a petit fours plate for dessert, as a garnish for ice cream, or to satisfy a sweet tooth.

    Since we purchased more apricots than chocolate, we got to thinking: What else can we do with dried apricots?
     
     
    20 USES FOR DRIED APRICOTS

    Appetizers: Try a half apricot on an appetizer skewer with cubed chicken and pineapple; in a prosciutto roll (photo #3); as a diced garnish on canapés.

    Bagels. You’ll have a one-up on a raisin bagel when you sprinkle diced apricots atop the cream cheese on a plain bagel.

    Breads & Muffins: Quick breads, scones…all bread products taste great with some diced dried apricots. Try this recipe.

    Cakes, Cookies, Energy Bars: Add chopped apricots to layer cake fillings and garnishes, substitute for raisins and other dried fruits in cookies and bars. Check out these Apricot Newtons and Apricot Cheesecake Bars.

    Cheese Plate: Serve apricot halves with cheese and whole wheat crackers; dice them and add to a grilled cheese sandwich with brie, blue cheese or goat cheese.

    Chocolate Fondue: Add apricots to the dippers (here’s a list of dessert dippers).

    Cottage Cheese & Yogurt: Dice the apricots and blend them in.

    Dip: Purée your choice of crumbled blue cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, dates, dried apricots, and pecans. Serve dip with crudites, pretzels or other crunchy options; spread it on a sandwich or on bagels.

    Fruit Compote: Here’s a timely recipe for Winter Fruit Compote.

    Fruit Salad. Mix dried apricots with fresh seasonal fruits for a fruit salad (you can also add dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries and raisins). Add them to a Waldorf Salad* or Ambrosia Salad.

    Gift: For a favorite food friend, make these Dried Apricots In Cardamom Syrup.

    Grab & Go: Add some variety to your apple or banana snack; or add some nuts to an apricot snack bag for extra protein.

    Green Salads: Crown a green salad with an apricot half.

    Hot Cereal: Oatmeal and other hot cereals are tastier with a garnish of diced dried apricots. (You can also make a dried fruit medley with dates, dried cranberries, raisins, etc.) Also add to Overnight Oats.

    Ice Cream & Sorbet: Use a dried apricot half as a crown, to garnish the top of the scoop.

    Raisin Substitute: From Ants On A Log to oatmeal cookies and rice pudding, diced apricots are just as yummy, and a more colorful replacement.

    Rice and Grains: Add diced apricots as a garnish, or mix them in. For a fruited Grain Pilaf, toss the grain with dried cranberries, diced dried apricots, raisins, sautéed garlic and slivered almonds.

    Salad Topper: Toss or mix dried apricots onto/into your favorite chicken, seafood or pasta salad.

    Snacks: Garnish a bowl of popcorn with apricot halves or diced apricots, dip apricot halves into chocolate (recipe) for a most delicious confection.

    Stuffing: Chicken, lamb and pork love a stuffing with dried apricots.

    Trail Mix: Combine dried apricots and other dried fruits with your favorite nuts. Chocolate chunks (larger than chocolate chips) optional.

     
    APRICOT HISTORY

    Apricots are a stone fruit in the genus Prunus (stone fruit genus), family Rosaceae (rose family) and order Rosales (flowering plants order).

    Other genus members include almonds, cherries, peaches and plums. The stone fruits are so named because there’s a large, hard pit [stone] in the center (photo #1).

    Apricots are cultivated throughout the temperate regions of the world—in fact, on every continent except Antarctica. The apricot tree, Prunus armeniaca, got its name because it was long thought to have originated in Armenia (which cultivates some 50 varieties of apricots).

    Archaeologists have discovered apricot seeds in Armenian sites that date to the Chalcolithic-era (Copper Age)—roughly 3500 B.C.E. to 2300 B.C.E.

    However, other archeo-botanists point to the Chinese region as the likely site of domestication, and others point to India, about 3000 B.C.E.

    Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity; the dried fruits were an important commodity on Persian trade routes. Alexander The Great brought rootstock from Persia (modern-day Iran) to Greece.

    For medicinal uses, the oil from the kernels inside the pits has for millennia been part of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines.

     
    By the 17th century, apricot kernel oil was used homeopathically in England to fight tumors, swelling and ulcers.

    Modern users like it for skin and hair health and for massage. Some still use it as a homeopathy remedy.

    In the 17th century, English settlers brought the apricot to the New World. Most of our modern American apricots groves come from seedlings carried to the West Coast by Spanish missionaries.

    U.S. commercial production remains in California, with some in Washington and Utah [source].

    In 2011, the top five producers of apricots were Turkey, Iran, Uzbekistan, Italy and Algeria [source].

    _______________

    *A Waldorf Salad, which originated at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, consists of apples, walnuts, grapes and mayonnaise on a bed of lettuce.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 25 Ways To Use Bell Peppers

    One of our favorite snacks and colorful ingredients is bell peppers, also called sweet peppers.

    Bell peppers are easy to find year-round, available in green, red, yellow and orange (and at some markets, lavender, purple and white), making it easy to add color to your plate (raw, they also add crunch).

    But they don’t add many calories. A one-cup serving has 30 calories per cup. As a bonus, it includes more than 200% of your vitamin C needs and 2.1 grams of fiber.

    Trivia: Peppers are fruits. Here’s why.

    While the bell pepper is a member of the Capsicum species like the hot chili peppers, it is the only variety that doesn’t produce any capsaicin, which is the compound that is the heat in chili peppers.
     
     
    COLORFUL VARIETIES

    Orange, purple (photo #7), red and yellow peppers are actually riper and sweeter versions of green peppers. They also pack more beta carotene and vitamin E.

    The flavors differ too: green is the most vegetal, red is the sweetest, and the others are in-between.

    You may come across some specialty varieties, especially at farmers markets:

  • The Enjoya red-and-yellow-streaked bell pepper (photo #8) is a mutation discovered in a nursery greenhouse in The Netherlands in 2013.
  • The Brown Holland (a.k.a. chocolate) and white bell peppers are also heirloom varieties from The Netherlands. They may have been mutations as well.
  •  
    There are also mini sweet peppers: snack-sized and easily portable.
     
     
    WAYS TO USE BELL PEPPERS

    Here are 25 ways to use bell peppers. If a recipe calls for only one color, be adventurous and try a second color as well—or every color.

    Appetizers: From garnishes on crostini to appetizer (e.g. pepper chunk, small mozzarella balls and cubes of ham) to dips.

    Chicken, Egg, Pasta & Tuna Salads: A small dice adds color and crunch.

    Chili: Peppers are a complement to beans in vegetarian chili, and they work with beef chili, too.

    Chinese & Indian Food: Bell peppers are a staple in these two popular international cuisines (photo #1).

    Condiments: Try sweet-and-hot red pepper jelly and relish. Try try this recipe with cheese and crackers, or on a hot dog, burger or sandwich.

    Cornbread & Muffins: Bell peppers substitute for jalapeños in this cornbread recipe. How about baking some red bell pepper bread?

    Crudités: Red, yellow and orange bells perk up a white, beige and green vegetable platter.

    Dips & Spreads: Here’s a recipe for Grilled Red Pepper Dip and a Red Bell Pepper Tapenade. Make dip containers: even off the bottom of a raw pepper, and use it to hold dips or spreads.

    Eggs: Fill an omelette or a strata, top a scramble, or enjoy a side of sautéed bell peppers with any egg preparation. You can bake eggs in halved bell peppers (photo #2—here’s the recipe).

    Fajitas & Fajita Bowls: Top steak, or a steak and lettuce bowl, with grilled bell peppers and onions (and any other veggies of choice).

    Gazpacho: Use instead of, or in addition to, tomatoes.

    Grains & Grain Bowls: Add a raw bell dice or strips for color, fiber and flavor.

    Green & Non-Green Salads: Check out this prize-winning Bell Pepper And Cherry Tomato Salad With Mozzarella Pearls.

    Grilled Or Roasted Vegetable Medley: Here’s how to make foil-grilled peppers. How about grilled potatoes, peppers and onions?

    Ground Beef: Try this Mexican-style Beef Pepper Skillet With Jack Cheese.

    Pickled Peppers: Go Peter Piper and picked a peck (or less) of peppers. Add slices of pepper to a jar with this brine. They’ll be ready to eat in an hour, and keep up to two months.

    Pizza & Pasta: Dice any color bell pepper and toss it onto a pizza before baking, into pasta sauce as it cooks (photo #3), or of course, as part of Pasta Primavera.

    Polenta: For a main dish, try this polenta recipe with sliced sausages and bell peppers. We also like this recipe for Polenta With Ratatouille.

    Purée: Use red bell pepper in dips, including hummus and yogurt dips.

    Ratatouille: A hearty summer dish from the Provence region of France, this delicious veggie dish combines bell peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini, gently simmered with garlic and olive oil. Here’s a side dish recipe, and another recipe with breakfast eggs. How about Potato Salad With Ratatouille?

    Salsa: Substitute bell peppers when tomatoes are out of season.

    Sandwiches & Wraps: Raw or cooked, pair bell peppers with goat cheese, grilled cheese, Philly Cheesesteak and of course, a sausage and peppers hero. Check out these Bell Pepper & Cheese Triangles on croissant dough.

    Sauces: You can find many recipes for creamy bell pepper sauce, made without dairy. Here’s one that uses a base of chicken broth and another with a base almonds. Use them on eggs, grilled foods, pasta, pizza and anything that needs a sauce.

    Sautés: Combine bell peppers, mushrooms and onions for a simply delicious side or topping that goes with just about any savory dish.

    Skewers: For vegetable skewers or with a protein, nothing’s more colorful than “traffic light” peppers (red, yellow and green).

    Slaws: Add a small dice into the shredded cabbage, fennel or jicama.

    Soups: Roasted or steam the peppers and purée. Add to a stock or dairy base and season to taste (remove any charred skin before blending). Check out this Stuffed Pepper Soup: all the ingredients of stuffed peppers in a bowl of soup. Or, combine bell peppers with cauliflower or potatoes for a mixed vegetable soup. This Creamy Roast Pepper Soup (photo #6) is a stunner.

    Stews: This tasty Slow Cooked Stuffed Pepper Stew turns all the ingredients of stuffed peppers into a stew format (photo #5).

    Stir Fries: Toss a sliced bell peppers in the wok whenever you stir-fry. Try this recipe from The Clever Carrot (photo #1).

    Stuffed Peppers: Make your own mixture of beans, brown rice, vegetables, and seasoning, then stuff the peppers, top with grated cheese and bake. Ground beef and rice is the classic, but trendy combinations include quinoa and kale. Anything works, from sausage stuffed peppers with blue cheese or feta, of ghdxd Deconstructed Stuffed Peppers: meatballs with rice, with strips of bell pepper. Here’s the recipe for these “unstuffed peppers.”

    Vegetable Sushi: In addition to adding bell pepper to a sushi roll with fish or other vegetables, you can make this vegan bell pepper sushi—which looks like tuna—in this recipe (photo #4).

     
    BELL PEPPER HISTORY

    All peppers, sweet and hot, have their origins in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.

    Hot peppers have been cultivated for more than 9,000 years, with the earliest cultivation in Central and South America. The earliest fossil traces so far are from southwestern Ecuador, where dating to about 6,100 years ago (the different types of hot peppers).

    In plant taxonomy, bell peppers are Capsicum annuum, one of the five species of the Capsicum genus. The others are for hot chile peppers (here they are).

    All capsicums are members of the Nightshade Family, Solanaceae, which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant.

    Why Peppers, Not Chiles?

    The actual name of all hot peppers should be chile, not pepper. The word used in the Nahuatl (Aztec) language is chīlli. The variants chilli and chile entered English through Spanish in the mid-1600s.

    So why do we call these fruits “peppers?” When Columbus and his crew first tasted them, the spicy taste resembled that of the black pepper that had been imported to Europe from India since Roman times.

    Someone compared the heat to peppercorns, and “peppers” they became.

    Pepper seeds were brought back to Spain in 1493 and then spread through Europe and Asia.

    The term “bell pepper” dates at least as far back as the late 1699 where the pirate and ship’s surgeon Lionel Wafer wrote about them in his book, A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America. He commented that “the Bell is esteemed most proper for pickling.”

    The modern, mild bell pepper cultivar, was developed in the 1920s, in Szeged, Hungary [source and source].

    Check out all the varieties you can grow at home.

     


    [1] Beef Stir Fry with orange bell peppers, snow peas and pea shoots. Here’s the recipe from The Clever Carrot.


    [2] Stuffed Peppers with eggs, squash, ricotta and feta. Here’s the recipe from Foodie Crush.


    [3] Spaghetti With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. Bonus: It’s vegan. Here’s the recipe from Minimalist Baker.


    [4] Vegan Sushi: What looks like tuna is bell pepper. Here’s the recipe from Olives For Dinner.


    [5] Stuffed Pepper Stew: the ingredients of stuffed peppers in stew form. Here’s the recipe from Skinnytaste.


    [6] Creamy Roast Bell Pepper Soup. Here’s the recipe from Plays Well With Butter.


    [7] Some varieties of purple bells are called chocolate bells (photo © Burpee).


    [8] The Enjoya bell is a mutation that appeared in The Netherlands (photo © Melissa’s).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Lime Vinaigrette


    [1] Instead of vinegar, you can mix different acids to make a vinaigrette. We often use lemon juice, but lime juice is even perkier (photo © Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog).


    [2] Fresh lime juice makes the perkiest vinaigrette. In Key lime season, you can use Key limes for less acidity (photo © Lisa Fotios | Pexels).


    [3] Lime vinaigrette is perfect for Asian-inspired chicken salad, or for everyday romaine (photo © The Tuck Room | NYC).

     

    When you have vinaigrette at a Mexican or Thai restaurant, it’s likely a lime vinaigrette.

    A squeeze of lime to accent food is customary in the cuisines; for a salad, lime substitutes for vinegar in the 3:1 olive oil-to-acid blend.

    Have a lime? Dress tonight’s salad with lime vinaigrette.

    Some people add honey to the recipe, others use a pressed or minced garlic clove.

    In our opinion, the brightness of the lime should not be covered up by honey! We feel the same about adding cream for a creamy vinaigrette.

    You can customize the recipe with other flavors: some chopped fresh coriander and a dash of ground cilantro, oregano and dried chili flakes, for example.
     
     
    RECIPE: LIME VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 6 cups mixed lettuce greens
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Optional: lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin or red chile flakes for a spicy vinaigrette (photo #1)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  
    Plus: 6-7 cups mixed greens.

    Preparation

    1. WHISK the ingredients together. Optionally, use the “shaking” technique:Add the ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake until blended.

    2. DRESS the greens just before serving. Save the leftover dressing for the uses below.
     
     
    USES FOR LEFTOVER VINAIGRETTE

  • Add to a marinade.
  • Baste chicken.
  • Brush on wraps or other sandwich bread.
  • Dress hot or cold pasta.
  • Drizzle on grilled meat.
  • Drizzle on cooked vegetables or toss with raw vegetables before roasting.
  • Season rice or other grains.
  • Toss with potatoes or drizzle into baked potatoes.
  • Use asa dip for crudités.
  •  
     
    THE HISTORY OF LIMES
     
     
    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIMES

     

      

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