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FOOD 101: Anisette Vs. Sambuca

July 2nd is National Anisette Day, a clear liqueur.

Before commercial production, people made their own liqueurs (and made their own wine, brewed their own beer, etc.). The first commercial anisette was introduced by Marie Brizard in 1755.

Many people confuse anisette with sambuca, another clear liqueur. Other sweet anise-based liquors from France include Pernod and Ricard Pastis. Pastis is sometimes confused with anisette, but it is made with both aniseed and licorice root.

While both are popularly served with after-dinner coffee:

  • Anisette is a French liqueur flavored with anise seeds. Because of its strong flavor, it is often mixed with a splash of water, which turns it from clear to milky white.
  • Sambuca is an Italian liqueur made from star anise or green anise, along with elderflower berries and licorice. It is traditionally served with three coffee beans, which represent health, wealth and fortune.
  • Pastis is a French apéritif that is amber in color. As with anisette, some people like to dilute the flavor slightly with water, which turns the color to a milky greenish-yellow.
    Similar-tasting spirits, which can be sweet or dry, include:

  • Absinthe (originating in Switzerland)
  • Anis (Spain)
  • Arak (the Levant)
  • Kasra (Libya)
  • Mistra and Ouzo (Greece)
  • Ojen (Spain)
  • Pernod (France)
  • Raki (Turkey)

    Beyond cocktails, anisette is used in conventional foods, including:

  • Baking, particularly biscotti and cookies
  • Flan (custard), sweet and savory
  • Meatloaf
  • Tomato sauce
    Check out these savory recipes.

    Make anisette biscotti with this recipe from Mario Batali.


    Floranis Anisette
    [1] Floranis, also known as Anis Gras, was created in 1872 in Algiers, Algeria, by the Gras brothers, using the anisette recipe that had been in their family for generations (photo © La Martiniquaise).

    Marie Brizard Vintage Anisette Bottle
    [2] Marie Brizard sold its first bottle of anisette in 1755. Two hundred years later they released this bottle, from the 1950s. You can buy it from The Whisky Exchange.



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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Miyoko’s Vegan Cheese & Butter

    Miyoko's Vegan Butter
    [1] Melt Miyoko’s vegan cultured butter and toss it with popcorn (all photos © Miyoko’s Creamery).

    Miyoko's Vegan Cream Cheese
    [2] Spread Miyoko’s vegan cream cheese on a bagel.

    Miyoko's Vegan Cheese Wheel
    [3] Serve a Loire-style soft cheese wheel with crackers and wine.

    Miyoko's Cheese Spread
    [4] Spread Miyoko’s roadhouse cheeses on bread, crackers or pretzels. Shown here: Biergarten Garlic & Chive.

    Miyoko's Sundried Tomato Vegan Cheese
    [5] Create a beautiful vegan cheese board. Shown here: Sundried Tomato Garlic cheese wheel.

    Miyoko's Vegan Loire Cheese
    [6] Serve Fresh Loire Valley cheese with figs and membrillo (quince paste).

    Miyoko's Vegan Cheese
    [7] Toss vegan cheese with hot pasta to create a creamy sauce.


    Our colleague Hannah Kaminsky, a vegan food writer and photographer who lives in Northern California, told us several years ago: You must try Miyoko’s vegan cheese and butter.

    While not a vegan, we were on top of the sweeping trend. We also are a proponent of sustainability† and try to watch our cholesterol (vegan foods help both).

    At that time Miyoko’s Creamery had no e-commerce, and distribution only in California. These days, you can find the products on Amazon, at other e-tailers, and at 10 stores in my Manhattan zip code alone!

    Miyoko’s has gone mainstream, and that’s a good thing. Here’s a store locator.

    The increase in veganism—full or partial†—continues to rise. It was the number one food trend of 2018 [source].

    Miyoko Schinner became a name in the Bay Area in the late 1980s, as a vegan restaurateur, host of cooking classes and author of cookbooks.

    In the last decade, she has focused on creating the finest vegan cheeses and butter.

    A lover of conventional cheeses—“The ‘good life’ isn’t complete without a glass of wine and some fine cheese,” she has said—she discovered that she had lactose intolerance [source].

    That, along with her compassion for animals, led her to create “plant based cheeses that retained all the complexity and sharpness of their dairy counterparts.”

    Miyoko’s uses traditional artisan creamery methods to create plant-based vegan cheeses from cashews and other “real food” ingredients. The result: creamy vegan cheeses that can easily substitute for dairy products, and even melt like dairy cheese.

    We can attest, as a lifelong lover of fine dairy cheeses, that what she has created from cashews and coconut oil, among other ingredients*, is remarkable.

    Her line is certified USDA Organic. The products are free of cholesterol, dairy, gluten, lactose and soy, and the ingredients are non-GMO.

    As with their dairy counterparts, the cheeses and butter are cultured and aged (depending on product). The cheeses range from soft and spreadable to hard and sliceable.

    These vegan products are more tart than their dairy counterparts, in the way that yogurt is more tart than sour cream.

    They are blessed options for vegans and the lactose intolerant.

    Mikoyo has crafted a cultured vegan butter in the style of European cultured butters. We use it on toast, baked potatoes and vegetables.

    Melt it and toss it with popcorn (photo #1), slide it over an ear of corn.

    It also browns when cooking. It is a most welcome alternative to dairy butter.
    Cream Cheese

    A bagel no longer needs to be parted from cream cheese. Miyako’s makes three vegan varieties:

  • Classic Double Cream Chive (photo #2)
  • Sensational Scallion
  • Unlox Your Dreams
    They will melt into creamy sauce; for example, if you toss them with hot pasta (photo #7).
    Loire-Style Cheese Wheels

    In the style of goat cheese wheels from the Loire, these vegan wheels are ready to enjoy with a glass of wine and a baguette or crackers (photo #3):

  • Black Ash
  • Classic Double Cream Chive
  • Garlic Herb
  • Fresh Loire Valley (wrapped in a grape leaf—photo #6)
  • Herbes de Provence (photo #3)
  • Sundried Tomato Garlic
  • Garlic Herb
  • Winter Truffle (seasonal)
    More Cheese Styles

    Mozzarella, fresh or smoked: for a vegan Caprese salad, panini or pizza.

    Rustic Alpine is made in the semi-hard style of Alpine cheeses: nutty flavor with sweet overtones. You can melt it into fondue or grate it into risotto.
    Farmhouse cheeses are sliceable and uses beyond crackers and bread:

  • Sharp Farmhouse: a hard, aged, sharp round with complex flavors that continues to age in your fridge. Use it in a sandwich, or melt it with nondairy milk for a luscious sauce.
  • Smoked Farmhouse: a semi-hard wheel with rich, sharp, smoky tones. Add it to sandwiches or sauces.
    Roadhouse cheeses, the type served in European beer gardens, are spreadable, a perfect pairing with beer or wine, bread, crackers, and soft pretzels (photo #4).

  • Biergarten Garlic Chive
  • Cheers To Cheddah
  • Spicy Revolution
    You can create a beautiful cheese board with any one of these cheeses (photo #5).

    Or, put a few cheeses together for a memorable experience. (National Vegan Day is November 1st.)

    Miyoko’s cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese, has recipes for the above products as well as vegan creme fraiche, ricotta, sliceable cheeses, sour cream and yogurt.

    The book has recipes to incorporate the products into appetizers, entrees, and desserts; for example, vegan Caprese salad, eggplant parmesan, mac and cheesecake.

    You can find it on Amazon.

    Discover more at


    *Other organic ingredients include, for the Loire-style cheeses: chickpea miso, cultures, herbs, nutritional yeast, rice miso, vegetables, sea salt and spices. For the European-style vegan butter: cultures, sunflower oil, sunflower lecithin and sea salt.

    †While we are an omnivore, we are a “partial vegan.” Concerned about the planet and greenhouse gasses, we make vegan choices where we can. A vegan dish is just as delicious as one with animal protein.


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    RECIPE: Not Your Mother’s Potato Salad…Grilled, With Bacon, Corn & Jalapeno

    For your summer cookout menus, how about this tasty Grilled Jalapeño, Corn, and Bacon Idaho® Potato Salad?

    Equal parts spicy and sweet, it’s made with Idaho® red potatoes, bacon, jalapeños, corn, onions, sour cream, honey and mayonnaise.

    If you can, make it in the morning, or the night before, to let the flavors meld.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • ½ pound bacon
  • 2 pounds Idaho® red potatoes, cut into wedges or bite sized chunks
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 2 ears of corn, kernels sliced off the cob
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup cilantro
    For The Dressing

  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Grilled Potato Salad With Corn & Bacon
    [1] A portion of grilled potato salad, packed with goodies (recipe and both photos © Idaho Potato Commission).

    Cal Red Potatoes
    [2] One of the varieties of Idaho red-jacket potatoes, called Cal Red.


    1. PREHEAT the grill to medium high heat (400°- 425° F). Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel-lined plate to dry. Reserve the grease.

    2. PLACE two long pieces of foil in a T shape on a counter. Spread half the potatoes in a single layer in the center of the T. Top with half the corn, jalapeño and red onion. Do the same thing with a second set of foil and the rest of the vegetables.

    3. DRIZZLE the vegetables with the reserved bacon grease and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Fold the foil over the vegetables and seal tightly.

    4. PLACE the packets on the grill for 10 minutes. Flip, then grill for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Meanwhile…

    5. MAKE the dressing. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    6. REMOVE the potatoes from packets and place them in a large bowl. Crumble the bacon and gently toss the potatoes with the dressing and the crumbled bacon. Garnish with cilantro.

    7. SERVE warm, or refrigerate and serve chilled. Before serving, top with additional cilantro if desired.


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    JULY 4th: Pousse-Café, A Layered Drink

    [1] A pousse cafe for July 4th. The recipe is below (photo © Molecular Recipes).

    [2] Use Campari for the red layer (photo © Campari Group).

    Malibu Coconut Rum
    [3] Coconut rum provides the white layer (photo © Pernod Ricard).

    Blue Curacao
    [3] Get great blue color from blue Curaçao (photo © De Kuyper).


    For July 4th food fun, how about a red, white and blue pousse-café (pronounced POOSE-caff-FAY)—a layered or stacked drink.

    It’s an after-dinner drink composed of layers of different colored liqueurs or other spirits, that sit on top of each other in discrete layers.

    The trick is to pour them in order of the densest to lightest.

    The name means “pushes coffee” in French. In other words, pousse-café is a liqueur or liqueur-and-spirit drink served with after-dinner coffee (although since the dawn of shooters, it can be served anytime a shot is called for).

    Originally, pousse-café was served in a small, stemmed glass or liqueur glass. The drink was created to please the eye, rather than to present a cocktail of particular flavors.

    These days, many bartenders don’t like to make them. It’s much more work than a conventional cocktail.

    Modern layered cocktails are often two layers, including, among others:

  • Black and Tan (3 layers)
  • Black Velvet (2 layers)
  • Blue Eyed Blonde (4 layers)
  • B-52 (3 layers)
  • Oatmeal Cookie (2 layers)
  • Slippery Nipple (2 layers)
  • Tequila Sunrise (2 layers)
    If it isn’t served with after-dinner coffee, it isn’t a pousse-café. It’s a layered drink.

    A French invention, pousse-café came to the U.S. as an example of fashionable drinking.

    Layers can be as few as two; some mixologists have created many more. We’ve found references to seven layers!

    Because of the spirit density issue, it can be hard to achieve one’s desired flavors.

    For example, you may want to create a cocktail of, say, chocolate liqueur, raspberry liqueur and vodka. But their specific densities may not layer properly (disclosure: we don’t know—we haven’t tried layering this particular combination).

    Liqueurs with the most sugar and the least alcohol are the densest, and go on the bottom. Those with the highest alcohol content go on top.

    The more layers, naturally, the harder it is to match the flavors in perfect harmony.

    Thus, the layers should be drunk individually. The drink was originally served with a small silver straw (very French!).

    The term pousse-café was popularized in 1880s France, when the drink became very fashionable. However, layered drinks were made before then, when some clever mixologist—or possibly a chemist—discovered that layers could be made based on the specific gravity of a liquid.

    The 1862 edition of the seminal cocktail reference book, How to Mix Drinks by Jerry Thomas, lists three poussé recipes under the heading “Fancy Drinks.” One was Pousse l’Amour, a layering of maraschino liqueur, an egg yolk (then popular in drinks), vanilla liqueur and brandy [source].

    TRIVIA: On March 18, 1966 a Broadway play opened, called Pousse Cafe. A flop, it played only two performances.

    The score was written by Duke Ellington. You can hear it here.

    Ingredients Per Three-Ounce Drink

  • 1 ounce Blue Curaçao
  • 1 ounce Malibu Coconut Rum
  • 1 ounce Campari
    Some recipes use grenadine for the red layer. It’s very sweet compared to Campari. We prefer the latter.


    These ingredients are for a three-ounce drink. For a shot glass or a liqueur glass, try 1.5 teaspoons.

    Shot glasses and liqueur glasses vary in height, so test your glass with 1.5 teaspoons of each spirit. Use water to measure 4.5 teaspoons into the glass. Adjust the amount as needed; then divide the total amount into three, and measure the spirits accordingly.

    1. USE the back of a bar spoon to carefully and slowly pour the layers: first the Blue Curaçao, then the Malibu Coconut Rum, and then Campari.

    2. TO SUBSTITUTE ingredients, try them first to see how they layer. If you want to use grenadine, pour it first; then the rum, then the Curaçao.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Blue Tea

    Today’s tip comes via one of our favorite artisan tea blenders, Tay Tea.

    It’s blue tea, an herbal tea from Thailand that made its way here a few years ago. It still remains largely under the radar, except at artisan tea shops that blend their own teas.

    Butterfly pea flower tea is made by steeping the dried blue pea flowers in water. It can be served hot or iced (we vote for iced tea).

    The tea is naturally caffeine free and tastes floral, with a hint of earthiness.

    Adding lemon, lime or orange juice turns the brew purple. Both blue and purple colors are completely natural.

    You can use the same blue or purple tea to make stunning ice cubes for clear soft drinks or spirits.

    For July 4th festivities, serve blue iced tea with regular (white) ice cubes and garnish with red and blue berries.

    Blue tea is the flower of the butterfly pea plant is the flower of the plant, commonly known as blue pea or butterfly pea. The bright blue flower is used as a natural colouring in many recipes, as it is one of the most vivid blue colours to exist naturally anywhere in nature.

    The plant is native to tropical equatorial Asia, including locations such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and The Philippines.

    It is also known as Asian pigeonwings, bluebell vine, blue pea, butterfly pea, cordofan pea and Darwin pea [source].

    The plant species belongs to the Fabaceae family, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family. The family includes such familiar foods as beans, carob, chickpeas, licorice, peanuts and peas.

    Now for the racy part: The botanical name of the butterfly pea plant is Clitoria ternatea. The botanist who named saw that the flower had the shape of female genitalia, and gave the genus the Latin name Clitoria, from clitoris (photo #5).

    You can see why others call it the butterfly pea plant.

    Tay Tea makes a blue tea blend called Azul (blue in Spanish), a fragrant, lemony blend of three botanicals:

  • Butterfly pea flowers from Thailand
  • Lemon verbena
  • Lemongrass
    You can purchase it here.

    Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, it’s good for you and keeps you colorfully hydrated. Here’s Tay Tea’s recipe:

    Ingredients For 5 Cups

  • 2 tablespoons blue tea/Azul tea blend
  • 1/2 cup lemon, lime or orange juice (for purple tea)
  • Ice
  • Garnish: citrus wheels for a pitcher, or wedges for a glass

    1. BOIL five cups of water and add to a heatproof pitcher. Add two teaspoons of tea and let stand 10 minutes.

    2. POUR the tea into glass and re-infuse tea leaves by pouring tea back into pitcher. Do this 4-5 times. Serve the bright blue tea hot, or let the tea cool and refrigerate. For purple tea…

    3. ADD half a cup of lemon, lime or orange juice and watch the tea turn from bright blue to violet. Add a few wheels of citrus to the pitcher, and/or garnish glasses with individual wedges.

    4. POUR over ice to serve.

    The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, originated in China. The word “tea” comes from there as well.

    While you may be familiar with the word cha, tea, in Mandarin, tea first arrived in Europe with the name “tay.”

    The Dutch traders who first brought tea to Europe in the early 1600s purchased it from tea traders in the port of Amoy (Xiamen) in the Fujian province.

    There are many dialects in China. In the Amoy dialect, tea was translated as te, pronounced tay, the pronunciation used by the Dutch.


    Blue Tea
    [1] Blue herbal tea turns purple by adding citrus juice (photos #1 – #4 © Tay Tea).

    Purple Iced Tea
    [2] A big pitcher of blue iced tea is turned purple with lemon juice.

    Blue & Purple Ice Cubes
    [3] Turn the tea into colorful ice cubes.

    Butterfly Pea Flower
    [4] The dried butterfly pea flower.

    Blue Tea
    [5] The butterfly pea flower (photo courtesy Indiamart).


    The French called it thé (pronounced tay), and it became te, pronounced tay, in Danish, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian and Spanish.

    The “tee” pronunciation is found in English tea and German thee.

    In those countries where the tea trade was mainly via the caravan routes that traveled overland, from China to the west, it’s the Chinese Mandarin cha that is the common root: cha in Hindi, Japanese and Persian; ja in Tibetan, chai in Russian, chay in Turkish and shai in Arabic.

    Amoynese or Mandarin: Did your country’s tea first sail over the seas, or travel over land? Now you know!


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