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TIP OF THE DAY: Lemon- And Lime-Infused Iced Tea


[1] A wheel of citrus is messy to pick up and squeeze, and simply adds eye appeal to the drink. Use a wedge instead (photo © Regis Hari Bouchard | Unsplash).


[2] Fresh orange juice is delicious in iced tea; but again, squeeze a wedge rather than use a wheel (photo © Twinings).

 

June is National Iced Tea Month; June 10th is National Iced Tea Day.

If you like a slice or wedge of lemon in your iced tea, here’s a way to infuse all the fresh citrus flavor into your tea before you pour it into a glass.

The technique also works with lime and orange wedges, and with herbs like lemongrass and mint.

By the way, fresh orange and lemongrass are excellent complements to iced tea. Try them.

Bonus: Citrus fruits have plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants; lemongrass is full of antioxidants.
 
 
HOW TO INFUSE CITRUS INTO ICE TEA

This technique is for people who want a lot of lemon, lime or mint flavor.

For only a touch of flavor, a quick squeeze of the wedge is fine.

1. BREW the tea. While the tea is hot…

2. ADD wedges of fruit into the hot tea. You can squeeze the juice into the tea before adding the wedges.

With mint, crush the leaves and stems in your hand before adding; with lemongrass, crush the stalks (we pound them).

3. INFUSE the tea on the countertop for an hour or longer.

4. STRAIN the tea into another container and discard the spent fruit. Chill the tea.

Note that the tea will not be crystal-clear as it is when iced plain, but the flavor will be more intense.

If you always drink iced tea with sugar, you can add it into the hot tea as well. It dissolves very quickly, unlike stirring it into cold tea.
 
 
WHY NOT INFUSE PEACHES & BERRIES?

The reason the infusion technique works best with lemon, lime and herbs is because these items aren’t meant to be eaten, just to flavor the tea.

On the other hand, peaches, berries, and other fruits are meant as edible garnishes, rather than infusions.

 
 
IS IT ICED TEA OR ICE TEA?

Properly, the drink is iced tea: tea that has been chilled with ice. It is spelled this way in primers on editing and by the line editors of quality publications.

But, as more and more Americans care less and less about the rules of English, ice tea—tea with added ice—has been making inroads, even among some editors.

There is precedent: Ice water was originally, properly, “iced water.” We presume that editors in that era of transition were equally chagrined.
 
 
> ICED TEA TRIVIA & HISTORY
 
 
MORE ICED TEA

Have An Iced Tea Party

The History Of Iced Tea

How To Brew Perfect Iced Tea

How To Dissolve Sugar In Cold Drinks

 
  

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FOOD FUN: A Coffee Holder For The Shower

For people who are so time-pressed to get out of the house in the morning, here’s a gadget from 30 Watt:

The Original Joeski Shower Coffee Holder.

Drink your coffee while you shower!

No suction cups, adhesives or wall mounts are used to affix the holder to your shower wall.

Instead, the Joeski uses silicone to grip the device securely to glossy surfaces like glass, mirror, marble, metal, shiny tile and laminate using a patented grip technology.

Just mount it onto a dry surface, smooth out the air bubbles, wait 24 hours, and then you’re ready to get your morning started.

It won’t leave any residue behind should you decide to remove it.

Holes on the bottom of the holder keep it from filling with water.

Get yours here.

There are also variations for beer/soda cans and wine glasses.

 


[1] Save time: Drink your coffee in the shower (photo © 30 Watt).

 

  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Pesto Beyond Pasta


[1] An impressive party dish or appetizer: cooked store-bought pesto with kalamata olives and pesto sauce. We adderd ciliegene, small mozzarella balls Here’s the recipe (both photos © DeLallo).


[2] Here, pesto is a salad dressing on this baby arugula, snap pea and burrata salad. Thin the pesto to desired consistency with olive oil. Here’s the recipe.


[3] Pesto is a great sauce for grilled or roasted fish, meat and poultry. This is an arugula pesto (photo © Sun Basket).

 

You may enjoy pesto on pasta, but what about beyond?

Pesto sauce traditionally* consists of basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses. Salt is added for seasoning.

Here’s a recipe for homemade pesto. If you’d like to try other ingredients—cheeses, greens, nuts, oils—here’s a list of options.

Pesto originated in the Italian province of Liguria, where plots of sweet basil were plentiful. (The capital city of Liguria, Genoa, is the home of Christopher Columbus.)

Ligurians invented pesto sauce, crushing the ingredients with a mortar and pestle into a paste (pesto means paste in Italian).

Varying the amount of olive oil created a thinner sauce or a thicker spread.
 
 
MAKE YOUR OWN PESTO

It’s easy to make pesto at home. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle†, you can pulse the ingredients in a food processor.

Note: We tried it both ways, and the ground mortar and pestle version actually tasted more vibrant than the pulsed pesto.

We prefer it, unless we don’t want to take the extra time.

Here’s the classic recipe, plus tips to make a better pesto:

  • Classic Pesto Recipe
  • Pesto Tips
  •  
    Extra pesto can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to one week.

    Or, freeze it.

  • Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, then store the frozen cubes in plastic freezer bags for up to 6 months. Take out what you need for your recipe. Standard ice cube trays usually hold one ounce/2 tablespoons in each well, so each cube equals 2 tablespoons.
  • You also can freeze pesto in small plastic containers for up to 12 months.
  •  
     
    BEYOND PASTA: 14 NON-PASTA WAYS TO USE PESTO

  • Baked potatoes
  • Bread dipper
  • Breakfast Eggs
  • Bruschetta or Crostini
  • Dip or spread (with mayo or yogurt)
  • Grain Toppings
  • Grilled foods condiment
  • Marinades
  • Pizza and flatbread
  • Sandwiches and wraps
  • Soup garnish
  • Topping for fish, meat, poultry
  • Vegetables, including potatoes
  • Vinaigrette
  •  
     
    RECIPES: NON-PASTA WAYS TO USE PESTO

    15 Pesto Use Recipes
    21 Pesto Use Recipes
    Asparagus & Pesto Lasagna
    Broccoli Rabe & Pistachio Pesto With Burrata
    Pesto Cheese Spread
    Polenta & Pesto Lasagna

    ________________

    *Today, cooks switch out the ingredients to make modern pestos: different herbs or green vegetables, nuts and cheeses.

    †The mortar is the bowl, the pestle is the grinding tool. They were used to make both medicine and food. Ancient mortars and pestles found in Southwest Asia date back to approximately 35000 B.C.E. If that seems like a ridiculously long time ago, Homo sapiens evolved in Africa 300,000 years ago [source].

    The English word mortar derives from classical Latin mortarium, meaning, among other things, both receptacle for pounding and the product of grinding or pounding. The classical Latin pistillum, meaning “pounder,” evolved into the English pestle [source].

     
      

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    COCKTAIL RECIPE: Black Pepper Dirty Martini

    For those who like things hot and spicy, here’s a variation on the Dirty Martini: Add black pepper heat!

    You get the salty brine from the olives, and heat from the pepper.

    You can purchase pepper-infused vodka like Absolut Peppar (photo #2), or infuse plain vodka with peppercorns (instructions below).

    (Pepper vodka is also great in Bloody Marys.)

    The olives in the photo are Lindsay Small Organic Olives, but if your crowd likes to pile on the heat, look for chile-stuffed olives (there are plenty on Amazon).

    Stuffed olives tend to be green olives; but use black olives

    Ready to spice things up?
     
     
    RECIPE: BLACK PEPPER DIRTY MARTINI

    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2½ ounces black pepper-infused vodka
  • ½ ounce black olive brine
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
  • Lemon slice
  • Garnish: olives of choice
  •  
    To Infuse Your Own Pepper Vodka

  • 1/8 teaspoon lightly crushed black peppercorns
  • 1 cup vodka (to infuse your own vodka)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. INFUSE the vodka. Place the vodia and the crushed peppercorns in an airtight container and seal. (Or, make an entire 750ml bottle’s worth with 2 tablespoons of peppercorns.)

     


    [1] A pepper-infused Dirty Martini (photo and recipe © Lindsay Olives).


    [2] Absolut Peppar vodka, infused with black pepper (photo © Absolut).

     
    2. ALLOW the vodka to infuse for 1-3 days for optimal taste (if infusing a full bottle, allow 7 days). For a shortcut, allow to infuse for 6-12 hours. Strain the solids from the vodka and store indefinitely.

    3. MAKE the martini: Start by rimming a coupe or martini glass. Place the ground pepper in a small dish, run lemon wedge along edge of the glass, then dip the glass into the pepper and twist to rim. Set aside.

    4. COMBINE the remaining ingredients (except garnish) In a mixing glass with ice, add vodka, olive brine, and vermouth, and stir until chilled. Strain into prepped glass and garnish with an olive.
     

    THE HISTORY OF THE DIRTY MARTNI

    While the Dirty Martini may seem to have arisen in the last 20 years, it actually is much older.

    There are at least two claims, one from the East Coast and one from the West Coast; and both stories may be true.

    According to David Wondrich, cocktail historian and author, Dirty Martini’s history begins in 1901, when John E. O’Connor served a Martini with muddled olives at the Waldorf Astoria.

    However, using olive brine doesn’t appear in the written record until 1930. The drink, called the Perfect, consisted of half gin, half vodka, dry vermouth, three types of bitters and one teaspoon of olive brine.

    The Perfect dropped out of sight until after World War II, transforming into a Dirty Martini recipe requiring two parts gin, one part vermouth and a teaspoon of olive brine [source]. That’s our modern Dirty Martini.

    But where did it go? We hadn’t heard of it until about 20 years ago, when a colleague ordered it at a bar. We, an olive lover, ordered one of our own.

    The garnish, then and still, is blue cheese-stuffed olives. Some like it hot, and opt for jalapeño-stuffed olives.

    Don’t like blue cheese or chiles? Classic pimento-stuffed olives do just fine.

    Here’s the history of the original Martini.

    We found a more fanciful story on Leaf TV.

    The story credits Jerry Thomas, a famous 19th century bartender and author of the 1862 volume, The Bartenders Guide, as the inventor of Martinis, and subsequently the Dirty Martini.

    Thomas worked at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco. One day, he was supposedly asked to mix up “something special” by a prospector who was about to journey to Martinez, California.

    There is scant detail, but Thomas purportedly added olives to the drink. The prospector paid using a gold nugget.

    The truth is out there!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cucumber Sandwiches…And Tea

    Have you ever had a cucumber sandwich?

    It’s an English tradition that was likely arrived in the U.S. in the 1800s, along with the concept of afternoon tea, a formal light meal, traditionally served at 4 p.m.

    The high-class snack, meant to tide over wealthy people who didn’t eat dinner until 8 p.m. or later.

    Cucumber sandwiches were served at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, were enjoyed by the Raj of India in the late 1800s, and were referenced in Oscar Wilde’s play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” as a “reckless extravagance” (cucumbers were pricey before they became more available in the Edwardian era).

    The traditional cucumber sandwich is composed of paper-thin slices of cucumber (no peel) placed between two thin slices of crustless, lightly buttered bread.

    You can make the traditional dainty tea sandwiches (photo #2), smaller canapés, or full-size luncheon sandwiches (some people leave the on the crusts for those).

    You can cut the sandwiches into triangles, squares, fingers, circles or other cookie cutter shapes.
     
     
    AMERICAN VARIATIONS

    Some Americans replaced the butter with cream cheese (the latter invented in 1872 in New York), some leave the peel on the cucumber and some don’t cut the cucumbers paper-thin (egad!).

    The English traditionally use bread from a Pullman loaf—a whole loaf sliced thin (photo #5; called pain de mie in France).

    There are numerous variations below.

    Our personal cucumber sandwich is made on Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Bread, which is available in White and Whole Wheat. We use the best butter (Finlandia, Plugra, Vermont Creamery) and snipped dill, the perfect herb to complement cucumbers.

    Other Americanizations include:

  • Different bread (e.g. brown bread, whole wheat [photo #3])
  • Smoked salmon and cucumber
  • Chicken (photo #4), crab, egg or tuna salad and cucumber
  • Fresh herbs
  •  
     
    IT’S CUCUMBER SANDWICH SEASON

    Warmer weather beckons to cool-as-a-cucumber sandwiches for:

  • Light lunch or snack
  • Party fare
  • Patio or poolside nibbles
  • Picnics
  • Tea parties
  •  
     
    CUCUMBER SANDWICH RECIPE

    It’s a no-brainer, but we give you the traditional recipe plus ways to modernize it.

    First, a note about the cucumbers:

    English cucumbers were bred in the U.K. to create a cucumber more desirable for cucumber sandwiches.

    It has tender flesh, with a thin, edible peel and tiny or no seeds. Some stores sell it as a burpless cucumber, European cucumber, hothouse cucumber or seedless cucumber.
     
    Ingredients

  • Thin-sliced bread
  • Butter, softened
  • Cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • Seasonings (sea salt, freshly-ground pepper, snipped chives, dill, mint, parsley, tarragon)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL or score lengthwise the dark green peel of the cucumber. If you have an English cucumber or other thin-skin variety, cut a thin slice and see if you enjoy it with the peel on. You can easily get very thin slices using a
    MODERN VARIATIONS

  • Avocado, thinly sliced
  • Baby arugula or watercress
  • Chutney (mixed with mayonnaise for spreadability as needed)
  • Compound butter
  • Crunchy sea salt
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce in the softened butter
  • Flavored cream cheese (e.g. mix in finely diced olive, garlic-herb, pimento, mushroom, scallion, smoked salmon)
  • Flavored mayonnaise
  • Hard boiled egg, thinly sliced
  • Homemade mayonnaise
  • Lemon zest in the butter or atop the cucumbers
  • Lemon sliced paper thin
  • Sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • Sprouts
  • Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Radish, thinly sliced
  • Soft cheese: Boursin or other spreadable cheese
  • Sour cream or creme fraiche (optionally with garlic powder)
  •  
     
    DON’T FORGET THE TEA

    Any tea goes with cucumber sandwiches; brew your favorite hot or iced tea.

    But if you prefer a sauvignon blanc or an IPA, go for it.
     
     
    TEA PARTY IDEAS

  • Afternoon Tea Party
  • Iced Tea Party
  •  


    [1] Square-cut cucumber tea sandwiches (photo © JamesPetts | CC-BY-SA-2.0).

    [2] Triangle-cut cucumber tea sandwiches ( photo © B. Hofack | iStock).


    [3] Whole wheat is a better-for-you option (photo © Nata V. Kusidey | iStock).


    [4] Cucumber and chicken salad tea sandwiches sliced in fingers (photo © Olgna | iStock).


    [5] English cucumbers. You can grow your own with seeds from Burpee (photo © Burpee).


    [6] The British use a pullman loaf for their sandwiches (photo © King Arthur Flour).


    [7] Use the best butter you can find (photo © Plugra).

     

      

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