Posts for July 9th 2009
Right before the Fourth, I shed some light on the best foods to make when it's hot outside — including Summer-perfect desserts like frosty mojito cakes and spicy cantaloupe paletas. But my favorite frozen confections are the ones that remind me of my childhood — like red grapes straight out of the freezer and those triangle-shaped Minute Maid push pops (which, sadly, I haven't come across in ages). As for icy cocktails, I can never turn down a subzero piña colada. What are your favorite things to enjoy that are frozen?
Nothing gets the conversation rolling at a party like flowing drinks. For a Bastille Day lunch, serve a refreshingly light apéritif-based cocktail, such as the Lillet-basil concoction seen here. Lillet is a French alcoholic drink made from a blend of wine, brandy, fruits, and herbs.
Traditionally it's served over ice, but this recipe makes it more festive by combining it with fresh orange juice, basil, and cucumber spears. When you sit down to eat the Niçoise salad, pour a crisp classic French white. To check out the Lillet cocktail recipe, please read more
From Martha Stewart
1 cup ice, plus more for serving
1/2 cup Lillet Blanc
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) gin
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
Splash of tonic water
1 cucumber spear, for garnish
1 cinnamon stick, for garnish
- Put ice, Lillet, gin, orange juice, and basil in a cocktail shaker; shake well.
- Fill a glass with ice; strain mixture into glass. Add tonic water. Garnish with cucumber spear, cinnamon stick, and basil sprigs.
Makes 1 drink.
PETA is targeting South America as the market for its latest campaign. The organization's spokesperson? None other than Lydia Guevara, granddaughter of Marxist leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara. In the organization's first-ever South American campaign for vegetarianism, the scantily clad Lydia, a vegetarian, wears nothing but bandoliers of baby carrots and a red beret, in a reference to her grandfather, a revolutionary who contributed to Fidel Castro's rise to leadership in Cuba.
"It very much evokes the tagline of the ad, which is 'Join the vegetarian revolution," said PETA representative Michael McGraw. "It's an homage of sorts to her late grandfather." What do you think of the campaign? Does it get your attention in the right way, or it is too racy and politically charged?
A couple of weeks ago I read an article on the Atlantic's food blog that recommended making a grilled skewer appetizer with smoked cheese cubes wrapped in pancetta. The story reminded me of a delicious tapa I had years ago in a Spanish dive bar. Anxious to re-create the dish, I headed to the store and purchased thinly sliced pancetta and smoked mozzarella. There's really no recipe, you simply wrap a 1/2-inch cube of cheese with pancetta, skewer, and place on the grill. This is where I ran into trouble. The cheese melted before the pancetta could fully cook, sticking to the grill. I transferred the skewers to a frying pan to try and salvage them, but the cheese continued to melt, clumping together. While the final bite tasted wonderful, the technique needs some fine tuning.
Do you have any advice for getting the pancetta to cook before the cheese melts? Have you ever made cheese skewers?
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, halved and cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried Sicilian oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and onions and stir vigorously to avoid scorching. Add the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring until the onions have a deep brown color.
- Reduce the heat and continue to cook until the onions are soft, 30 to 45 minutes. Use immediate or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Makes 2 cups.
20 ripe tomatoes, stems and cores removed
2 large heads of garlic, divided into unpeeled cloves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 sprigs fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise (through the equator), then place the tomatoes, garlic, and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix gently.
- Line two large, rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place the tomato halves on the sheet pans cut side down, and then pour over them any oil left in the bowl. Divide the garlic and thyme between the sheet pans and bake for about 20 minutes, until the tomato skins loosen. Remove and discard the tomato skins. Pour any juices that may have accumulated into the bowl and reserve.
- Return the tomatoes to the oven and reduce the temperature to 275 degrees. Continue roasting, periodically pouring off and reserving any juices, for 3 to 4 hours more, until the tomatoes are slightly shrunken and appear cooked and concentrated but not yet dry.
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and allow them to cool on the sheet pans.
- Discard the thyme sprigs and the garlic. Transfer the tomatoes to a container. Keeps for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for up to two months in the freezer.
Makes 40 tomato halves.
After seeking out sushi-grade tuna to make my own spicy tuna poke, I became curious as to what exactly constitutes sushi- or sashimi-grade fish.
The terms "sushi-grade" and "sashimi-grade" were created to ensure certain types of seafood can be consumed in raw form — but it turns out that they're more marketing terms than anything else. There are no clear health parameters enforced by the Food and Drug Administration or any other food agency that seafood must pass in order to be labeled sushi- or sashimi-grade. The FDA does maintain that all fish eaten raw must be frozen first.
The moral of the story? When it comes to eating raw fish, you're at the mercy of the person preparing it. Make sure you're aware of the freezing conditions that the fish have been subject to: fish intended to be eaten raw should either be frozen for seven days at -4 degrees Fahrenheit, or flash frozen for 15 hours at -31 degrees. In addition, look out for any warning signs of less-than-fresh seafood, like pearly rainbow or yellowish discolorations, dull flesh, or a fishy smell.
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