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Easy Heirloom Tomato & Ricotta Pizza Recipe

Heirloom Tomato&  Ricotta Pizza Recipe
[1] Heirloom tomato and ricotta pizza. The recipe is below (photo © Southern Selects).

A Crock Of Fresh Ricotta Cheese
[2] Fresh ricotta (photo © Murray’s Cheese).

Ricotta Salata In Truncated Cone Form
[3] Fresh ricotta can be molded into a cake for a nice presentation (photo © Good Eggs ).

A Slice Of Ricotta Salata Cut From A Wheel
[4] A slice of ricotta salata cut from a wheel (photo © iGourmet).

Ricotta Affumicata, Smoked Ricotta
[5] Ricotta affumicata, smoked. It is molded into a truncated cone shape (photos #5 and #6 © Abbbasciano).

Ricotta Affumicata, Smoked Ricotta
[6] The ricotta affumicato cheeses in the smoker.


Before summer’s heirloom tomatoes fade into memory until next year, here’s an easy pizza recipe from Southern Selects, growers of fine produce.

This is a partially cooked pizza: Only the crust is baked. The other ingredients are layered on top of the cooked crust in their fresh state (photo #1).

It may be different, but it’s delicious.

> The history of pizza.

> The history of tomatoes.

> The history of ricotta cheese is below.

If you’re not a fan of ricotta, you can substitute fresh goat cheese, diced from the log.

  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 package fresh ready-made pizza dough
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped (we used much more)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • To roll the crust: whole wheat flour (substitute another flour)
  • Optional for serving: peppermill, oregano, chile flakes

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Sprinkle whole wheat flour onto the countertop and roll out the dough into a round circle, about 1 inch thick.

    2. PLACE the dough on a pizza pan and use a fork to poke holes in the crust all over. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.

    3. WHISK together in a small bowl the ricotta, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Spread the cheese mixture onto the dough and place the tomato slices on top. Sprinkle with basil and serve, with more oregano and a peppermill or chile flakes, as desired.

    Ricotta cheese is so old that, like yogurt, it predates written history.

    Ricotta is made from the whey leftover from regular cheesemaking. The whey is re-cooked into the fresh cheese we know as ricotta (which is the Italian word for “re-cooked”).

    Some scholars believe that the practice of reusing leftover whey started with cheesemaking itself. No one could afford to waste any drop of food.

    The Neolithic* humans who invented agriculture at the end of the Stone Age were skilled farmers.

    The men tilled the fields and saw to the herds. The women were responsible for dairying, cooking, and making cheese and beer.

    It is likely that some Neolithic woman in the Fertile Crescent discovered that cooking the whey leftover from cheese-making yielded…more cheese.

    When the whey is boiled again, the remaining keratin proteins in it create solids that float to the top, clumping together in a form that can be skimmed off (photo #1).

    The Neolithic period was followed by the Bronze Age. Archaeological evidence dates the production of ricotta on the Italian peninsula to the second millennium B.C.E.

    Most scholars agree that ricotta came to Italy by way of Sicily, and was likely first made from sheep’s milk (sheep were the mainstay of the island).

    Over time, the “recipe” for ricotta spread north to the rest of Italy. Its sweet, milky, fresh flavor and soft, creamy consistency was delicious and versatile for cooking or enjoying in its plain state.

    In addition to sheep’s milk, ricotta was made from the milk of cows, goats, and water buffaloes, depending on the region.

    By the height of the Holy Roman Empire, ricotta was widespread throughout Rome and beyond, in the form in which you find it today. The process is the same—boiling the whey and skimming the curds [source].

    However, the fresh ricotta was very perishable. Over time, cheesemakers learned how to turn fresh ricotta into two variations with longer staying power: ricotta salata and ricotta affumicata.

  • Ricotta salata is salted (salata means salted in Italian). The fresh ricotta is lightly salted, packed into round molds, and then aged for 60 to 90 days. It turns into a crumbly solid form (photo #4), while still retaining its milky flavors (saltiness replaces the sweetness of the fresh cheese).
  • Ricotta affumicata (affumicata means smoked) is lightly salted and packed into molds of truncated cone shape (photos #5 and #6). The curds are aged, and then smoked and matured for about a month.
    It’s not easy to find ricotta affumicata in the U.S. We couldn’t even find it on Amazon!

    But if you happen to be in Italy, and can bring some back, your cheese-loving friends would be delighted to join you and the affumicata in a tasting experience along with fresh ricotta and ricotta salata.


    *The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric period during which man used stone to make tools with an edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is the final part of the Stone Age. It spanned 10,000 B.C.E. to 4,500 B.C.E. The last great ice age ended, and the nomadic hunter-gatherers settled down to raise their food via farming. The earliest farmers lived in the Fertile Crescent, a region that included modern-day western Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, southeastern Turkey, and Syria. Here’s more about it. The Neolithic was followed by the Bronze Age, which saw the development of metal tools.




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    The Hyppo Pops: The Best Ice Pops Ever?

    Sometimes in the business of discovering new food products, we come across true greatness. That’s how we feel about the gourmet ice pops from The Hyppo in St. Augustine, Florida. They are well worth sending for and will make a memorable gift to any lucky recipient of your largesse.

    The brilliance is in not just in the quality, but in the combination of many flavors rarely seen in an ice pop (or in any dessert, for that matter). Your personal palate will prefer some flavors over others, but all are exciting!

    The flavors are intense. A simple strawberry pop, for example, will be the most flavorsome strawberry pop you could hope to have, chock full of the most scrumptious strawberries.

    We now have a new travel destination: St. Augustine, Florida. The city has many attractions and we will see them all—including, of course, an hour or so of daily tasting at The Hyppo.

    After all, the stores (there are two in St. Augustine and others in Gainsville, St. Petersburg, and Tampa) carry some 40 flavors each week!

    It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to taste these pops. We know we’ll be a regular customer. We’re already clearing out the freezer to make more space.

    The Hyppo uses the freshest fruits—the season’s best, many from local farms on their sunny Florida home turf. There’s no middleman: It’s farm to freezer!

    The fruits are not just seasonal and freshly picked; they’re luscious. The pops include all of the conventional frozen dessert flavors (Blood Orange, Blueberry, Coconut, Peach, Mango, Pumpkin, etc.), the less conventional ones (Kiwi, Persimmon, Prickly Pear, Starfruit), and those rarely seen north of the sub-tropics (Dragonfruit, Guanabana, Mamey [sapote], Sapodilla).

    There are so many creative flavor combinations, and the wholes are truly greater than the sum of their parts.

    With one of our first bites, the bright flavor of fresh-off-the-tree Key lime juice simply burst from a Cherry Key Lime pop, along with succulent cherries. We were hooked!

    There are hundreds of these duos, and some trios. Just a few: Blackberry Clove, Cucumber Lemon Mint, Kale Apple Cucumber, Pear Prosecco Mascarpone, Red Chile Cantaloupe, Strawberry Basil, Watermelon Jalapeño Margarita.

    And yes, there are more familiar combinations: Banana Chocolate, Blueberry Greek Yogurt, Caramel Apple, Coconut Chocolate Chip, Guava Mango, Maple Walnut.

    But for people who only want a simple flavor: pick a “plain” pop in Apricot, Pineapple, Pink Grapefruit, Raspberry, and numerous others in the lineup.

    Are you overwhelmed yet? Skip to the online store, or continue to the next section.
    OMG: 500 FLAVORS!

    While the company claims more than 500 flavors, the 210 flavors that are listed on the website are themselves awe-inspiring: How can one get to taste them all?

    They’re seasonal flavors but even so: Divide 210 by the four seasons and you’ve still got 50 flavors per season.

    That means that there’s always something new and exciting to try.

    Imagine if you lived near The Hyppo in Florida, where each of the stores has between 30-40 different flavors in stock at a time. You could have a different pop every day of the month!

    Don’t be daunted if the choices seem overwhelming: There are “only” 26 flavors from which to choose in the online store.

    You have to look at all the flavors to get an idea of the riches-on-a-stick, but a couple of examples:

  • Blueberry: Blueberry, Blueberry Cheesecake, Blueberry Cinnamon, Blueberry Coconut, Blueberry Collins, Blueberry Datil, Blueberry Goat Cheese, Blueberry Grapefruit, Blueberry Grapefruit Gin, Blueberry Greek Yogurt, Blueberry Jon Boat, Blueberry Lavender, Blueberry Mule, Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Pineapple, Blueberry Pomegranate, Blueberry Rose, Blueberry Vanilla Cream.
  • Carrot: Carrot Cake, Carrot Chia, Carrot Ginger Juice, Carrot Mango Cayenne.
  • Chocolate: Banana Chocolate, Chocolate Cheesecake, Chocolate Orange. Chocolate Sea Salt, Chocolate Peppermint.
  • Watermelon: Watermelon, Watermelon Basil, Watermelon Basil Vodka, Watermelon.
  • Beyond Fruit: Cashew, Eggnog, Espresso, Horchata, Masala Chai Latte, Nutella, Peanut Butter Pie, Thai Coffee, Vanilla Bean, Vanilla Brownie.
    You get the picture; and what a heavenly picture it is!

    All flavors are made in limited quantities, “while supplies last.”

    Our first shipment included 10 pops, which spanned a spectrum from Blackberry Goat Cheese to Pineapple Cilantro. All were winners.

    We were asked to pick a favorite. Truth to tell, two flavors blew us away to the point where there were tears (almost) when the last bite was gone.

    The seduction of the Strawberry Cheesecake pop—even better than a slice of strawberry cheesecake—and the Horchata, its cinnamon lingering on our palate long after the pop was devoured—drove us to ecstasy (well, ice cream ecstasy). The dairy-lover in us was overwhelmed by the creaminess of these pops.

    We’d never seen sherbet-style pops before, with dairy ingredients that make them so smooth, creamy, and rich.

    Which brings us to Food 101: a bit of food education.

    Some of the flavors are dairy-free (think sorbet), others have dairy added (think sherbet).

    When dairy is added, it is no longer technically an “ice” pop. The difference:

  • An ice pop or sorbet has no dairy.
  • Sherbet (never sherbert, with an “r”—that’s just wrong!) contains dairy. A small amount of milk, cream, buttermilk, condensed milk, or plant milk is added for a richer, creamier consistency.
  • Sherbet vs. ice cream: While sherbet contains dairy, it is not ice cream. While both sherbet and ice cream can contain fruit and dairy products, the key difference is that sherbet’s main ingredient is fruit purée, fruit juice, or another flavor, while ice cream’s main ingredients are typically milk and cream.

    Do not expect an adorable hippopotamus logo: The name of this brand has nothing to do with animals.

    Rather, it pays homage to The Hyppo’s hometown, Saint Augustine, Florida. The town was named St. Augustine because the location was first sighted by a Spanish expedition on the day of the Feast of Saint Augustine of Hippo*.

    Thus, the company is named after the city’s patron saint. Whether St. Augustine ever met a hippo during his residence in Africa, we’ll likely never know.

    More hippo: The flagship store sits on Hypolita Street†, so founder Stephen DiMare named the company Hyppo with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘i.’

    Head to the website.

    The online store is here.

    Also check out:

    > The different types of frozen desserts.

    > The history of sorbet.

    > The history of ice cream.

    Make a Strawberry Mint Moscow Mule with fresh strawberries and mint, and combine it with a strawberry ice pop (photo #7). Use the pop as a stirrer and as a bite between sips.
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 4 strawberries, stems removed and cut in half
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh mint
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 5 ounces ginger beer
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • Optional garnish: whole strawberry

    Strawberry Chile Ice Pop From The Hyppo
    [1] Most of the pops are dual flavors. Here, strawberry is combined with datil, a very hot chile pepper grown in the St. Augustine area. The freshest fruits are a collaboration with local farms (all photo © The Hyppo).

    6 Different Ice Pop Flavors From The Hyppo
    [2] There are more than 500 wonderful flavors. Here are half of them.

    Pumpkin Pie Ice Pop From The Hyppo
    [3] Fall is coming. Look out for Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie, or Pumpkin Stout pops.

    Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry ice Pop From The Hyppo
    [4] In The Hyppo stores, customers can have their pops dipped in chocolate. You can do it at home. Here’s how to do it at home.

    Cantaloupe  Melon ice Pop From The Hyppo
    [5] An example of clever flavor combinations: cantaloupe and black pepper.

    Blueberry Lavender Lemonade Ice Pop From The Hyppo
    [6] A trio of flavors: Blueberry Lavender Lemonade.

    Toasted Coconut Ice Pop From The Hyppo
    [7] Toasted Coconut.

    Strawberry Mint Moscow Mule Poptail From The Hyppo
    [8] Use the pops to make “poptails,” dipping them in a cocktail. See the recipe at the left.


    1. ADD the strawberry halves and mint leaves to a glass and muddle until the berries are broken down into smaller pieces.

    2. ADD the ice, vodka, and lime juice, and top with ginger beer. Stir using an ice pop (or a conventional stirrer+ to mix well.

    3. PLACE the pop straight up in the glass, or across the top. Serve immediately.


    *Saint Augustine of Hippo was a theologian, philosopher, and bishop of Hippo Regius in Numidia in Roman North Africa (Hippo Regius is the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba, Algeria). a threat to the Spanish fleets that sailed the Gulf Stream beside the east coast of Florida, carrying treasure from Central and South America to Spain. A fleet commanded by Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrived at the location on September 8, 1565. With 600 voyagers cheering, Menéndez set foot on the shores of Florida. In honor of the saint whose feast day fell on the day he first sighted land, Menéndez named the colonial settlement St. Augustine. Here’s more about it.

    †Hypollita with a double “p” was the queen of the Amazons given in marriage to Theseus by Hercules./span>



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    The Parts Of A Lemon For National Lemon Juice Day

    Lemons In A Bowl On A Kitchen Counter
    [1] A bowl of lemons can brighten a table or kitchen counter (photo © Justin Schwartfigure | Unsplash).

    Parts Of A Lemon Diagram

    [2] The parts of a lemon. Thanks to Lemons From Spain for this information (image © The Lemonage).

    Lemon Tree With A Green (Unripe) Lemon
    [3] Before lemons ripen into their bright yellow color, they look green like lilmes (photo © Chandra Oh | Unsplash).

    Add Sliced Lemons To A Pitcher Or Glass of Water To Make Lemon Water
    [4] Add sliced lemons to a pitcheror glass of waterto make lemon water (photo © Julia Zolotova | Unsplash).


    August 29th is National Lemon Juice Day. Let’s give the lemon some respect: It doesn’t even have its own holiday. Just the juice does.

    So it’s time to discover what’s under the peel besides pulp and juice. A number of different things to do with the juice itself is below.
    > The different types of lemons.

    > The history of the lemon.

    The lemon is a member of the Citrus genus of flowering trees and shrubs, in the Rutaceae family.

    In addition to lemons, members of the Citrus genus include familiar citrus fruits such as citrons, grapefruits, kumquats, limes, mandarins, oranges, and pomelos, as well as less-familiar citrus fruits such as Buddha’s hand, finger limes, and kaffir limes.

    The Citrus genus is native to South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Melanesia, and Australia. Lemons are thought to have originated in northwestern India.

    Here’s how a botanist looks at a lemon (photo #2). Instead of presenting the parts in alphabetical order, we’ll start at the rind and work our way inside.
    FLAVEDO (the peel layer, also called the rind or epicarp)

    Ranging from green to bright yellow in color depending on the level of ripeness, the flavedo contains essential oil glands that provide the lemon’s aroma. The flavedo is an important source of vitamin C, polymethoxyflavones and carotenoids—both cancer-fighting flavenoid antioxidants.
    ALBEDO (also called the pith or mesocarp)

    Immediately under the flavedo (rind) is the white, spongy inner layer of the lemon. It’s the most important source of pectin and carbohydrates.

    The albedo is also an important source of phenolics and flavanones, both antioxidants.
    ENDOCARP (the pulp)

    The endocarp, or pulp, is the edible part* of the lemon rind, representing between 65% and 70% of the lemon’s weight. It’s pale yellow in color and is divided into segments that contain elongated cells—known as the juice sacs or vesicles—where water, carbohydrates, and citric acid accumulate.

    Each slice of lemon contains hundreds of juice sacs, and there may be one or more seeds. In the aggregate, the juice sacs make up the pulp.

    The columela is the central axis that connects the membranes that form between the sections of the endocarp. The membranes separate the fruit segments and help to hold the pieces of pulp together. The texture is thin and papery; depending on the variety, it can be thinner or thicker.

    A hesperidium (plural hesperidia) is a fruit with sectioned pulp inside a separable rind, e.g. in a lemon, orange, grapefruit, or another citrus.

    Carl Linnaeus (1707 to 1778, also known as Carl von Linné), “the father of modern taxonomy,” was the great Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms.

    He gave the name Hesperideae to the order containing the genus Citrus, in allusion to the golden apples of the Hesperides†. [source]

    Now that you have a botanist’s perspective on lemons, here are uses for lemon juice. After all, it’s National Lemon Juice Day!

  • Things To Do With Lemon Juice – Part I
  • Things To Do With Lemon Juice – Part II
  • How To Cut Back On Salt With Lemon Juice
  • ________________

    •The flavedo, or peel, is also eaten: as grated zest, as cocktail garnishes, and cut into strips and turned into candied peel, which is enjoyed as a garnish or as a confection, eaten plain or dipped in chocolate.

    †The Golden Apples in the Garden of Hesperides were a wedding gift to Hera from Gaia and were protected by a great serpent called Ladon. The Apples as well as the rest of the life in the Garden were tended by the Hesperides, minor earth goddesses or nymphs and daughters of the Titan, Atlas. Herakles (Heracles) was sent to fetch the golden apples of the Hesperides as one of his twelve labors.





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    Different Types Of Red Wine To Try For National Red Wine Day

    Red wine lovers: August 28th is National Red Wine Day. There are many different red wines made around the world. With more than a thousand varieties of wine grapes grown, that’s no surprise.

    Today, we’ll highlight all of the red wines widely available in the U.S. and give you some “food homework”: Try a varietal you’ve never had before.

    Varietal refers to the type of grape used in making wine. Examples of familiar varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay*, Merlot, Pinot Grigio*, and Zinfandel.

    In much of the world, wines are sold by their varietal names.

    In France and some other countries, the wines are known by their place names. Thus:

  • In the Burgundy region of France, the Pinot Noir grape is used to make the wine, but the wine is known as Red Burgundy.
  • In the Bordeaux region of France, the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes are the primary grapes used to make the wine, but the wine is known as Bordeaux.
  • In the Rioja region of Spain, the wine is called Rioja but the grape is Tempranillo (among others).
  • Barolo is a commune in the Piedmont region of Italy. The wine is called Barolo, but the grape is Nebbiolo.
    There are many more red wine holidays below.

    We start with some red wine varietals that you’ll find in stores labeled with their varietal names. These grapes are grown worldwide, but we’ve included the county of origin.

  • Barbera – Northern Italy
  • Cabernet Franc – France
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – France
  • Carménère – France
  • Grenache/Garnacha – Eastern Spain / Southern France
  • Malbec – France
  • Merlot – France
  • Montepulciano – Italy
  • Nebbiolo – Italy
  • Pinot Noir – France
  • Sangiovese – Italy
  • Syrah/Shiraz – France
  • Zinfandel – Croatia

    In addition to purchasing varietal wines, you can purchase wines made with those same grapes that are labeled by their place of origin. These places are regions or smaller communes that have strict regulations as to what grapes can be used, the growing locales of those grapes, and how the wine is made.

    Examples include:

  • Amarone della Valpolicella – Italy – Corvina and Rondinella Grapes
  • Barolo and Barbaresco – Italy – Nebbiolo Grape
  • Beaujolais – France – Grenache Grape
  • Bordeaux – France – a blend that can include Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and very occasionally, Carménère, Grapes
  • Brunello di Montalcino – Italy – Sangiovese Grape
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape – France – Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah Grapes
  • Chianti – Italy – Sangiovese Grape
  • Côtes du Rhône – France – Grenache plus Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Syrah Grapes
  • Côte-Rôtie – France – Syrah and Viognier Grapes
  • Hermitage – France – Syrah Grape
  • Lambrusco – Italy – Maestri, Marani, Montericco, and Salamino plus a smaller amount of Ancellotta Grapes
  • Meritage – California – must contain at least two Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot Grapes
  • Priorat – Spain – Garnacha Grape
  • Red Burgundy – France – Pinot Noir Grape
  • Rioja – Spain – Tempranillo Grape
  • Super Tuscan† – Italy – French grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in addition to the Sangiovese Grape of Tuscany
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Italy – Sangiovese Grape

    Also try a sweet red wine, if you don’t already drink them. They can be made from any grapes, and are delicious with cheese, as dessert wines or after-dinner wines.

    These three are fortified wines, meaning that the wine has a distilled spirit, usually brandy, added to it.

    The purpose of adding the spirit is to increase its alcohol content and preserve its longevity.

  • Madeira – Madeira, a Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco (photo #6)
  • Marsasla – Sicily
  • Port – Portugal (photo #5)
    Red vermouth, also called sweet vermouth, is also a fortified red wine.

    Sweet vermouth is mostly used for cocktails, pairing well with Bourbon, Dark Rum, Rye, and Scotch. Classic cocktails that use sweet vermouth include the Manhattan, Negroni, and Rob Roy.

    While sweet vermouth can be sipped straight, it’s often too sweet for most people.

    You have your food homework assignment. Ready, set, go!


  • February 16th: International Syrah Day
  • March 3rd: National Nebbiolo Day?
  • April 17th: Malbec World Day / National Malbec Day?
  • June 21st: World Lambrusco Day
  • July 28th: National Shiraz Day
  • August 28: National Red Wine Day
  • August 30th: International Cabernet Day
  • September 10th: International Port Wine Day
  • September 3rd Friday: International Grenache Day
  • 8 October 2022: International Pinotage Day
  • October Last Thursday: Carignan Day
  • November 7th: International Merlot Day
  • November 2nd Thursday: International Tempranillo Day
  • November 17th: Beaujolais Nouveau Day
  • November 24th: International Carménère Day
  • November 27th: National Zinfandel Day
  • December 4th: National Cabernet Franc Day
  • December 16th: National Pinot Meunier Day

    Beaujolais Glasses
    [1] Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape, is one of the lightest of the red wines. Here it’s seen in a glass that’s specially crafted to show off its flavors and aromas (photo © Schott Zwiesel).

    A specially shaped glass to enhance the flavors and aromas of Pinot Noir wine.
    [2] Pinot Noir in a glass designed to enhance its flavors and aromas (photo © Crate & Barrel).

    Chocolate & Red Wine
    [3] Zinfandel with chocolate truffles (photo © Stella Rosa Wines).

    [4] Cabernet Sauvignon with blue cheese, figs, walnuts, and grapes (photo © Alex9500 | Panther Media).

    Bottle Of Taylor Tawny Port 20 Years, With Glasses Of port
    [5] Taylor Tawny Port 20 Years, delicous with cheese, dessert, or an after-dinner wine (photo © Taylor Fladgate).

    Blandy's Malmsey 15 Years Old Bottle & Glass
    [6] Serve Madeira wine with nibbles such as olives, with salads tossed with a tangy dressing, with sushi or smoked salmon, with sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses, and with desserts such as apple tarts and other fruity pastries (photo © Blandy’s Madeira Wine | Facebook)


    *These are white wine grapes.

    Super Tuscans and Chiantis are both types of red wine made in Tuscany. The difference between a Super Tuscan wine and Chianti is D.O.C. status. For a wine to be labeled as Chianti D.O.C., it must be made from at least 80% Sangiovese grapes that are grown in one of the approved Chianti areas that lay between the cities of Florence, Sienna, and Arezzo.

    Super Tuscans don’t follow the strict rules of the Chianti appellation. They can be made entirely from Sangiovese, or can include or be made entirely from French grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Syrah.

    Super Tuscans are labeled I.G.T. (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), a designation that was created in 2013 that indicates a lower quality level. This does not mean, however, that Super Tuscans are cheaper than Chiantis. Quite the opposite is true: even the best Chiantis do not usually reach the high prices commanded by the top Super Tuscans. Toscana I.G.T. simply refers to wines not covered by the various D.O.C., D.O.C.G., or other designations in the region of Tuscany. Here’s more about them.




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    Chocolate Pot De Creme Recipe For National Pot De Creme Day

    Chocolate Pot de Creme Recipe
    [1] Chocolate pot de crème, a French chocolate custard (photo © Volpi Foods).

    Chocolate Pot de Creme In French Pot de Creme Dish
    [2] Chocolate pot de crème in a French pot de crème dish with a chantilly (whipped cream)(photo © Seduction Meals).

    Chocolate Pot de Creme In A Ramekin
    [3] Chocolate pot de creme with modern garnishes: raspberries, cacao nibs, chantilly, and a side of amaretti (photo © World Market).

    White Chocolate  Pot de Creme In A Ramekin With Small Cookies
    [4] White chocolate pot de creme with a garnish of mini chocolate chips and a side of petite cookies (photo © Fig & Olive | Facebook).

    Raspberry Pot de Creme Custard Dessert
    [5] Raspberry pot de crème. Here’s the recipe (photo © Driscoll’s).

    Porcelain Pot de Creme Dish With Lid
    [6] (photo © Tanya L. Cooper | The Cottage Journal).

    Pumpkin Pot de Creme Dessert
    [7] Pumpkin pot de crème with maple chantilly (whipped cream) and candied hazelnuts (photo © Kindred Restaurant | Davidson, North Carolina)


    August 27th is National Pots de Crème Day, one of the three classic French baked custards (pronounced poe-duh-CREM, meaning pot of cream). All three are made of eggs, milk and/or cream, and sugar (in different proportions), along with a flavoring such as vanilla. These silky baked French custards have been delighting diners since they first appeared on the dinner table.

  • Crème brûlée is made of all heavy cream and egg yolks and is topped with a brittle layer of caramelized sugar (brûlée is French for burnt, crème brûlée means “burnt custard”). It is the thickest of the three.
  • Crème caramel (called flan in Spanish) is the lightest of the three, made with whole eggs and a blend of milk and cream.
  • Pot de crème (plural, pots de crème) is made from equal parts of cream and milk and an extensive amount of egg yolks—e.g., 6 yolks per 2 cups of cream/milk, which make it a softer custard. Its consistency falls between the first two.
    The French do not have a general word for custard, and “crème” is the word for cream—whether referring to a preparation made with cream, or the ingredient itself. The traditional egg-thickened baked custard is crème moulée.

    Pot de crème, a 16th-century dessert became so popular that by the 17th century, dedicated porcelain cups—also called pots de crème or petits pots (petite pots) were made to serve them (photos #2 and #6).

    There’s more about the history of pot de crème below.

    Today few of us have space for a set of pot de crème cups, but you can easily serve pots de crème in:

  • Custard cups, small glass bowls (photo #5), small pedestal glasses, or other dessert dishes
  • Demitasse cups or small porcelain tea cups
  • Porcelain ramekins (photos #3, #4, and #7
  • Small mason jars
  • Small wine glasses or rocks glasses
    A recipe for Julia Child’s chocolate pot de crème follows. Pot de crème can be made in just about any dessert flavor you can name, but for nostalgia’s sake, this was the first pot de crème recipe we made, long ago.
    > The Different Types Of Custard

    > Key Lime Pot De Crème Recipe

    This is a variation of Julia Child’s recipe from The French Cookbook. She translated the recipe name as Chocolate Cream Custards.

    This recipe makes four 1/2 cup ramekins or chocolate pots. You might consider doubling the recipe: It’s not worth the effort for four little ramekins.

    Instead of Jamaican rum, you can substitute orange liqueur or coffee liqueur. Instead of whipped cream, consider a dab of mascarpone or crème fraîche.

    While Julia used only the classic French pot de crème garnish of chantilly, other garnishes we enjoy include candied orange peel, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and shaved or grated white chocolate.

    If you like sweet-and-salty, try a sprinkle of crunchy coarse sea salt. You can also place a raspberry and a small mint leaf next to the chantilly.

    When Julia published her cookbooks, artisan chocolate was not well known in the U.S. She used supermarket brands. However, the better the chocolate you use, the even more delicious the pots de crème will be.

  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate bits, or four ounces (4 squares) semisweet baking chocolate
  • 1 cup light cream
  • Optional: 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dark Jamaican rum
  • Optional for serving: chantilly (whipped cream)

    1. PLACE a rack on the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 350°F.

    2. PLACE the chocolate in a quart measuring cup (or equivalent) and add enough cream to reach the 1-1/2 cup mark. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and set over low heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate has completely melted. Stir in the sugar.

    3. ADD the egg and yolks to a bowl, and whisk just enough to blend. In a thin stream, gradually pour the egg mixture into the hot chocolate mixture, continuing to stir the chocolate mixture. Add the rum.

    4. DIVIDE the mixture among the ramekins and place them in a baking dish. Tamp down any air bubbles on the surface of the chocolate mixture.

    5. FILL the baking dish with water up to 2/3 the height of the ramekins. Place the ramekins in the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to prevent a crust from forming on the custard.

    6. PLACE the dish on the lower rack of the oven for about 20 minutes. The custards are done when they puff into slight domes but still quiver a bit. A toothpick stuck in the center should be slightly wet but not runny.

    You can eat the custards hot or warm from the oven, or refrigerate them for 30 minutes or longer. They will keep in the fridge, individually covered with plastic wrap after they chill down, for up to five days.


    Custards date back to the Middle Ages and were used as fillings for pies and tarts. In fact, the word custard derives from the French “croustade,” which is a tart with a crust.

    Similarly, pots de crème were originally custard fillings for pies, appearing sometime in the 17th century.

    At some point, some observant cook or assistant decided to bake the filling alone, in individual small cups. A small cup with a lid and one handle evolved specifically for pot de crème (photos #2 and #6).

    The dessert also became known as petit pots, little pots.

    After the 16th century, custards began to be made in individual dishes, typically in chocolate*, fruit, and vanilla flavors.

    While today chocolate pots de crème are most often seen on restaurant menus, we see any and all dessert flavors: butterscotch, caramel, coffee, matcha, passionfruit, pumpkin, raspberry, and whatever is trending at the moment.
    Pot De Crème Cups

    Small porcelain cups (about three inches tall) with lids topped with finials, were in use by the 18th century, and these pot de crème cups were used on formal tables in both Europe and the U.S.

    The small size of the cup dictated that the custard be eaten with a demitasse spoon.

    You can buy pot de crème cups today, in both modern porcelain and antique sets. The latter usually included a footed porcelain tray, or even a three-tiered tray, on which the cups were brought to the table.

    Styles, patterns, and colors vary widely; from fairly rustic to elegant and gold-enhanced.

    From the mid-1700s to the early 1900s, some of the finest examples came from prestige porcelain houses such as Meissen, Sèvres, Wedgwood, and Worcester.

    As an example of how elaborate dinnerware was for the well-to-do—think of all the different forks, knives, and spoons with which those tables were set:

    Cups of a similar size were used for both pots de crème and hot chocolate. But the chocolate cups typically had two handles! [source]

    Today, serve your pots de crème in whatever cups, dishes, or glasses you have. Your family and friends will be just as happy whatever the container.


    *Chocolate first came to France in 1615; it was a gift to the 14-year-old King Louis XIII from his 14-year-old bride-to-be, Anne of Austria. It was first served as a drink until French chefs expanded its use by adding the flavor to custard and other desserts. Here’s more about it.



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