Here’s How We Pickle Around the World

Coming from a family of at-home gardeners, we have always planted a summer garden. Typically, we grow herbs and vegetables such as basil, sage, tomatoes, and of course, cucumbers. 

Every summer, we plant cucumbers so we can make our family’s favorite – refrigerator pickles. Never heard of refrigerator pickles before? Essentially, they are homemade bread and butter pickles, but more delicious!

As we once again got ready to make this favorite summer treat once again, I started thinking about all the other types of pickling techniques throughout the world. Be inspired to make your own pickles with these ideas…

Keep a handy herb garden to make your pickles

How We Got Pickling

Did you know that pickling started over 4,000 years ago? Preserving food in vinegar or oils is one of the oldest methods of food storage in the world. Pickling got its start when the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia soaked cucumbers in acidic brine to keep them fresh. 

Now, countries all over the world have different methods and varieties of products that they use to make their favorite “pickle” recipe.

India: Mango Achar

Cucumbers are native to the Indian Sub Continental Region, and the Tigris Valley is where historians claim pickling first got its start. Today, people in India use a variety of fruits and vegetables, which they brine in oil instead of vinegar.  

One of the most commonly found at every meal in India is a sweet and spicy mango pickle. To make Mango Achar, use fresh unripe green mangoes, mustard paste, mustard oil, red chili pepper, and other spices. 

You can buy kosher dill pickles at WholeFoods or order them online

United States: Dill Pickles

The word “pickle” actually has Dutch or German origin. So it is not surprising that the American staple – dill pickle – did not originate from the United States at all. The concept of a dill pickle was brought over during the wave of immigration in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Before that, the Jewish population in many Eastern European countries still fermented cucumbers to add flavor to their otherwise simple winter meals.

The key to making a dill pickle lies in both the quality of spices and in the duration of time that the pickles are allowed to ferment. Dill pickles are an easy snack to make at home and pair well with sandwiches. 

Korea: Kimchi

Like in many countries around the world, the tradition of Korean kimchi started as a result of harsh winters that did not make for a good growing season. What started as a simple dish of cabbage soaked and fermented in salt, has over time changed and adapted under the introduction of influences from other cultures over time. 

Today, kimchi is typically made with Chinese cabbage or vegetables mixed with the key ingredient of gochugar (Korean chili pepper).

Pair your kimchi pickle with Korean pancakes and kimchi fried rice

Sweden: Pickled Herring

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Fish on a Friday the saying goes, so after three days in the pickle i plate my soused herring, here with compressed cucumber, beetroot, fennel fronds, fennel mayonnaise, capers and some wee white radish flowers picked by @tablejamesmcneish – really enjoyed getting my Scandi head on for this, great fish as ever from @welchfishmongers – will come back to this, flavours are all there though so happy enough with this. Have a great Friday folks, stay safe. Keep your gatherings small, we’ve come this far don’t fuck it up 🙏 #pickledherring #chefbarrybryson #pickling #fishonafriday #plating #scaniinspired #scottishfood #wildherbs #pickyourown #learning #developmentplate #newthoughts #keeponcooking #myleithkitchen #chefinscotland #privatechef #illbringtherestauranttoyou #staysmall #dontfuckitup #personalchefedinburgh @foodinedinburgh @thestaffcanteen @findingfantasticfood thanks for the shopping company @danielpioro

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The tradition of pickling herring began in the medieval period in Sweden. As a water-locked country, herring were found in abundance and was an easy product to export outside of Sweden. However, in order to keep the product fresh so that it could reach further distances, they began to pickle the fish. It was also a good way to have sustenance during the long and cold Swedish winters. 

Today, many Scandinavian communities pickle herring simply in vinegar. You can also add vegetables such as onions, dill and allspice to add a little more flavor. Swedish meals often consist of tapas like cold dishes, called smörgåsbord, where you will find these herring pickles along with smoked salmon, caviar, cheese and bread.

Germany: Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is one of those foods that you think of as distinctly German. Surprisingly, sauerkraut originated on the other side of the globe – in China! During the construction of the Great Wall of China, workers typically ate rice and cabbage in the summer time. In the winter, though, they added wine to the mixture, which resulted in fermentation. 

Today, German chefs have traded wine for salt. You can make this delicious side dish simply by adding salt to finely chopped cabbage. Then, allow the mixture to sit until the acid in the cabbage, creates a sour flavor that is distinctive of sauerkraut.

~By Jordan Dunn, Marketing and Communications Intern at Go Eat Give. Jordan is a Public Relations and Communications Marketing Major at Siena College in Upstate NY. She has a passion for writing, traveling, and advocacy. Follow her on Facebook and Blog for more about her personal travel stories.

BetterBody Foods Recipes That Are Nutritious and Delicious

Like many others, I filled my quarantine time with baking goodies, making ice cream, and binge-watching all my streaming subscriptions. However, with school starting in a month, I’ve decided it’s finally time for me to start working out and eating healthy again. Luckily for me, summer is the best time to explore new recipes because many fruits and veggies are fresh and packed with flavor. However, while I am enjoying the best vitamins and nutrients from fresh produce, I also want to be mindful of the ingredients in staples like flour, sugar, oils, and more. By using organic, natural ingredients, I learned that I can make food taste great and still be good for the body.

BetterBody Foods

Online health food store, BetterBody Foods sent me some samples of their products to try, including their Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, Organic Coconut Flour, Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, and Organic Quinoa. The following contains my genuine experiences and opinions about the products.  

BetterBody Foods was founded by Stephen Richards who saw the devastating consequences of diabetes on his family. He wanted to make healthier food choices with “better for you” ingredients that he could share with his friends, family, and community.

I too wanted to explore how I can transform my everyday cooking into healthier alternatives with BetterBody Foods sustainable and organic products. By choosing to use natural and nutritious ingredients, I was able to still make great tasting food and meet my health goals. 

Breakfast: Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

I typically wake up hungry and ready to eat, so I decided to make a big breakfast of buttermilk blueberry pancakes. Using BetterBody Foods Organic Coconut Flour, Organic Coconut Palm Sugar, and Virgin Organic Coconut Oil, I was very curious as to how these ingredients would affect the taste and texture of the pancakes.

Healthy alternatives that can be a staple in any dish you make!

Pancake Ingredients

Even though the coconut flour created a thicker batter than normal, once cooked, the pancakes came out surprisingly fluffy. The coconut oil added a delicious coconutty flavor that was offset with plump and juicy blueberries I added. The pancakes also had a subtle dried coconut texture, so you know the coconut flour is made from natural ingredients. Finally, the coconut palm sugar has almost half the glycemic index as regular sugar – this means our bodies digest and absorb it more slowly which reduces our risk for diabetes and heart disease. These yummy pancakes are gluten-free and vegetarian friendly. Therefore, we can enjoy them guilt-free!

Crispy, fluffy pancakes that are guilt free too

Fluffy Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes Recipe

Ingredients:

  •  2/3 cup light coconut milk, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp BetterBody Foods Organic Coconut Flour, sifted
  •  2 Tbsp BetterBody Foods Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  •  2/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  •  3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp BetterBody Foods Virgin Organic Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • BetterBody Foods Virgin Organic Coconut Oil for frying
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
betterbody foods

Steps 1 – 4

betterbody foods

Steps 5 – 6

Instructions:

  1. To make the buttermilk, mix the apple cider vinegar with the coconut milk and let it sit for a minimum of 5 minutes.
  2.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the sifted coconut flour, coconut palm sugar, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut buttermilk, eggs, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Make sure your coconut oil is in a liquid state but still at room temperature. This is very important, otherwise your coconut oil will clump together!
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in small batches into the wet ingredients. Scrape down the sides and make sure that the coconut flour is thoroughly mixed in. The batter will be thick because of the coconut flour.
  5. Heat up your pan at a low/medium heat and add the coconut oil. Pour your batter in and slowly circle the pan to help spread the batter. Drop blueberries on top of the batter.
  6. Once bubbles form on the surface of the pancake, flip and continue to cook until they’re golden brown. Continue until you’ve used all the batter.
  7. Serve with fresh blueberries and maple syrup or honey.

Lunch: Crispy Korean Vegetable Pancakes (Hobak Jeon)

betterbody foods
Homemade Hobak Jeon using Betterbody Foods ingredients

Kimchi, Squash, and Zucchini Korean Pancake

For lunch, I tried my hand at Korean pancakes that I learned how to make from Chef Jiyeon of Heirloom Market BBQ. She partnered with Go Eat Give in a live cooking demonstration during lockdown. You can find the recipe and the recorded video on Go Eat Give’s Facebook page. My first attempt was not particularly successful – my pancakes weren’t crispy and they reeked of vegetable oil. I was on a mission to improve my Korean pancakes!

I knew I had to change my oil. So I replaced the generic vegetable oil with BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil because of its neutral flavor and health benefits. To create a very crispy texture, I had to use a LOT of oil. This makes it even more important to use an oil that is good for you. Since avocado oil is a monounsaturated fat, it can help reduce the bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Next, the oil must be very hot, since we’re pan frying the pancake to make it crispier. Another great benefit of avocado oil is that it has one of the highest smoke points at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, I spread out the batter to make the pancake super thin – this allows the pancake to cook through without burning.

Making each of these changes, I was able to make perfectly crispy Korean pancakes.

Watch as Chef Jiyeon Lee teaches us how to make amazing Korean pancakes!

Dinner: Citrus Quinoa Salad 

betterbody foods
A easy yet healthy meal for anyone to make at home

Fresh Citrus Quinoa Salad

At the start of quarantine, my friends started an old school recipe exchange to inspire ideas for new dishes. Quinoa was a popular ingredient, likely because of its versatility and health benefits. One of the recipes I received was a fresh and healthy citrus quinoa salad, which I wanted to make for dinner.

Since BetterBody Foods Organic Quinoa includes 6g of protein and 11% of the daily value of fiber per serving, I could have a salad that was light yet filling. Here’s a salad recipe, that’s simple and customizable to your personal taste.

Citrus Quinoa Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup BetterBody Foods Organic Quinoa 
  • 3-4 cups of spring mix
  • 3 fresh mandarins, peeled
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:

  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed mandarin juice
  • 1/3 cup BetterBody Foods Avocado Oil
  • 2-3 tbsp BetterBody Foods Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa to remove any residual bitterness. Following BetterBody Foods instructions – combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water, bring it to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is absorbed. This will take approximately 15-20 minutes. Fluff and set it aside to cool.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a mason jar. Add the salt and black pepper to your taste. Close the jar and shake to mix the ingredients. Put the dressing in the fridge to cool while you prep the salad.
  3. In a large bowl, add the salad mix to the quinoa. Add the mandarins, pistachios, and feta cheese. Shake the dressing before pouring it over the salad. Add fresh salt and pepper to taste. Keep the salad and dressing separate if you don’t plan on eating the entire salad in one sitting.  

Final Thoughts 

Between diet and exercise, changing what we eat is most important to being healthier. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I never want to sacrifice the taste of my food. But with BetterBody Foods, I was able to make simple substitutions to improve the nutritious value of my meal while still keeping the delicious flavor. Try your hand at creating your own meals with BetterBody Foods or follow them on Instagram to see the fun and healthy recipes they’re cooking up. 

Go Eat Give Recipe Contest With Betterbody Foods

Are you interested in eating healthier and cooking more nutritiously? Go Eat Give is hosting a BetterBody Foods recipe contest from August 1-10, 2020. Tag #GoEatGive in your public Facebook story or post with a photo of a healthy dish you made for a chance to win the following BetterBody Food products:

PBfit Protein Peanut Butter Powder

Oatsome Organic Oat Milk

PBfit Protein Peanut Butter Spread

PBfit Protein Almond Butter Spread

Be sure to be on the lookout for our Facebook announcement of the start of the BetterBody Foods recipe contest! 

~By Melissa Ting, Marketing and Communications Intern at Go Eat Give. Melissa is an MBA student at Georgia Tech. She has a passion for discovering new foods and exploring new countries. 

How To Do a Cheese-Themed Dinner Party

Themes are a fun way to add a creative flair to any party or gathering that you are planning. I personally love themes and have hosted everything from a Hawaiian Dinner Party to Cuisine themed parties!

Speaking of themed parties, have you ever hosted a cheese-themed Party?

I have! When preparing for this cheese and wine-themed dinner party, I honestly had to utilize my imagination to come up with so many cheese-themed things to prepare. In the end, I made lobster mac n’ cheese with cheddar, Gougeres (cheese puffs) with gruyere, baked brie en croute, arancini with parmesan, and much more. At the end of it, I couldn’t eat cheese for a while!

An Invitation for a Night of Cheese

When I got an invitation for a cheese-themed dinner from Tillamook Creamery, I had to check it out.

Tillamook is a farmer-owned cooperative dairy brand from Oregon and #1 natural cheese brand in the west. About 100 families are part of the Tillamook County Creamery Association, that have lived and worked on the farm for generations. They have been making award-winning cheddars since 1909 and their products are now available in grocery stores in Atlanta.

The 5-course Pacific Northwest Meets Southern Flavors themed dinner was created by Chef Doug Adams (Executive Chef/Owner of Portland-based Bullard, Finalist on season 12 of Bravo’s Top Chef), and Zachary Meloy (owner/ chef of Atlanta based Better Half).

The Night Begins, Cheesy Appetizers

Cheese Menu at Tillamook Restaurant
Cheese Menu at Tillamook

To start this cheese-themed dinner, we began with a housemaid rum punch and tasting of Tillamook Cheese – 9 months aged sharp white cheddar, mild and creamy pepper jack, complex special reserve extra sharp cheddar, robust vintage extra sharp white cheddar, and slightly sweet cape meares cheddar.

Cheese Taquitos as Appetizers
Cheese Taquitos as Appetizers

Passed appetizers included crisp hush puppies and cheese-filled taquitos. The first course was a tomato salad with colorful and sweet Georgia tomatoes served on a bed of dill buttermilk and vintage white cheddar. Paired with 2017 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Rose, the dish was refreshing and light.

Innovative Pairings

Cheese Raviolis
Innovative Cheese Ravioli

Second was an innovative version of ravioli. A thin sheet filled will pepper jack, set on eggplant puree, and topped with shaved pickled fennel and tomato caramel, it was a great blend of sweet, salt and crunch in every bite. We enjoyed 2015 Poggiobello from Italy with this.

Grilled Eggplant, topped with Cheddar
Grilled Eggplant, topped with Extra Sharp Cheddar

For the meat course, there was slow smoked beef rib melt (which Chef Adams flew with him from Portland), as an open face sandwich on toasted homemade bread with jalapeños and sweet onion jam, and of course extra sharp cheddar. Some of us opted for a vegetarian version, where grilled eggplant was replaced by the beef. With a full bodied Chilean 2015 Lapostolle, it was simply delicious.

A Playful Twist for Dessert

Fresh Fig and Cheddar Tart as dessert at the Cheese-Themed Dinner Party
Fresh Fig and Cheddar Tart

Have you tried melted cheddar on apple pie? Playing a twist on this southern tradition, the chefs created a fresh fig and honey tart, and topped it with crumbled medium cheddar and pink pepper ice cream. The cheese and pepper were a bit too savory for me, but the tart was incredible. 2016 Boundary Breaks Riesling was a great alternative to sweeter ports often served with dessert.

Of course we couldn’t leave without Better Half’s signature truffles – coconut and condense milk balls; along with a spiced moonshine made with fresh young coconut. Tillamook generously gave us some coupons to get their cheese from a neighborhood grocery store so I can reinvent my own cheese-themed dinner party.

Visit Tillamook Creamery

If you are visiting Oregon, head over to Tillamook Creamery, a 2-hour drive from Portland to see how Tillamook Cheese is made. There’s also a Food Hall serving tempura battered cheese curds, fried chicken and cheddar biscuits, and pimento cheeseburgers. The ice-cream menu offers tasty flavors like caramel toffee crunch, Oregon dark cherry, Udderly chocolate, and malted moo shakes.

You may find a deeper appreciation for life on the farm and thank the many farmers that labored to create the delicious cheese sitting in your refrigerator. There are more cattle than humans in Tillamook and a great place to explore the Oregon Coast.

Cooking Teriyaki in Tokyo

Before I even recovered from my 12-hour time change, I headed to a Japanese Cooking Class on my first day in Tokyo (because that’s what I do when I first arrive in a new country). After an intense walk through the crowded Tsukiji Fish Market, where “tuna fish” is more of a prized commodity than food, I arrived at a small place than didn’t look like much of a cooking school from outside.

At Tsukiji Cooking School, everyone had to take their shoes off outside the door and put on slippers, as the local tradition dictates. There was a tiny kitchen where the chef and her two assistants were prepping our recipes. In the middle of the room was a dining table and chairs. We were given an apron, hand fan and printed recipes. Our instructor did not speak much English, but she had a translator.Tsukiji cooking class

During the 2-hour class, we learned to make miso soup, chicken teriyaki, spinach salad and Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) – all from scratch! Although I consider myself to be a savvy chef, there were things I had not known about, especially because I never cooked Japanese before.

This Miso soup had very strong flavors. We first made a broth using whole seaweed and dried fish skeletons.

We made a delicious dressing of freshly ground roasted red sesame seeds with soy sauce, dashi, and lots of sugar, to flavor local greens that tasted sort of like spinach but crispier.

spinach salad with sesame

Okonomiyaki was fairly easy to prepare as most of the work involved only chopping. It is a savory dough full of vegetables, topped with sauce, mayo and seaweed. Apparently, there are parties around this dish where everyone sits around and grills their own pancakes.

Okonomiyaki

Here are a few things I learned about Japanese cooking –

  1. Japanese chefs cook with chopsticks. It was actually not that difficult and more practical, since the “spatula chopsticks” are much longer than the eating sort.
  2. There are different kinds of seaweed, each with its own purpose. Depending on the texture and flavor, some are better suited for dashi (broth), others for toppings.
  3. None of the recipes call for salt or pepper. In fact, there are no seasonings, spices or herbs added to the dishes we prepared.
  4. Soy and sugar always find their place in most dishes. Contrasting flavors add enough seasoning to satisfy Japanese palates.
  5. Teriyaki is a sauce added at the end, not a marinade. Common myth we have in the West since we tend to grill our meats.
  6. You taste food with your eyes first. I was fascinated by how much time and effort the chefs put into making each component on the plate look perfect. Presentation is definitely very important.
The smell of seaweed remained on my hands the rest of the day, but I surely learned a lot at the Tsukiji Cooking Class. Once I returned to Atlanta, I tried all of the recipes and a few more.

Chicken Teriyaki Recipe (authentic Japanese style)

Ingredients:
2 large pieces Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 1/2 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon Mirin (rice cooking wine)
3 tablespoon Sake
1 tablespoon Sugar
2 tablespoon Green Onions, sliced
Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken in the skillet and remove excess grease using a paper towel. Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown on both sides.
chicken teriyaki recipe
Combine the soy sauce, Mirin, sake and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Pour the sauce over the chicken, cooking on low heat with a lid on. Flip the chicken few times so that it absorbs the sauce thoroughly.  When the sauce is thick and well coated, remove from heat and travel to a plate. Slice the chicken into bite size pieces. Garnish with green onions and more sauce, if needed.
chicken teriyaki

Somrus – The Nectar of Gods

Finally, an Indian inspired cream liquor is in the market! Somrus meaning the nectar of Gods in Hindi, is a pure Wisconsin dairy cream and hand-crafted Caribbean rum mixed with the flavors of cardamom, saffron, almonds, pistachios and rose. Already, spirit and wine enthusiasts are raving about this new cream liquor, naming it in Top 50 Spirits List of 2014. This decadent 750 ml bottle has an attractive gold coating and look more expensive than it is.

somrus

Somrus tastes like spiked up rasmalai, a creamy Indian dessert made with milk and similar spices. The alcoholic cream is great to add to dessert, top fruits, or simply make a toast to after dinner. I enjoyed it chilled in a shot glass, in lieu of dessert.

Here are some recipes from the makers of Somrus to try yourself…

THE NIRVANA

Ingredients

  • 2oz Somrus
  • 1oz Chambord
  • ¾ oz Green Chartreuse
  • 2 x Raspberries

Directions

Add all ingredients to a Boston shaker. Shake vigorously with ice. Serve in old fashioned or rocks glass over 3 x 1inch by 1inch ice cubes. Garnish with raspberries.

The Nirvana

PRONE TIGER

  • 2oz Somrus
  • 1.5oz Aged Rum
  • 1oz Espresso
  • 1oz Amaretto
  • Garnished with cinnamon stick
  • Served in rocks glass

Add all ingredients to shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled rocks glass and garnish with cinnamon stick stirrer.

Prone Tiger

SOMCHAI

Ingredients

  • 1oz SomruS
  • 3oz Chai Tea
  • 1oz Milk
  • 2 dashes rose water

Directions

Boil water. Brew black tea for 3-5 minutes. Heat milk to just below boiling. Strain out tea leaves and add tea to serving utensil. Add SomruS, milk, rose water and then serve in a handled punch cup.

Somrus can be purchased online for only $29.99.

12 Days of Christmas – Pear Custard Pie

Hear’s another recipe to keep your Christmas kitchen aroma!

Pear Custard Pie

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup Original Bisquick® mix
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened

Pie

  • 1/2 cup Original Bisquick® mix
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 medium fresh pears, peeled, sliced (about 3 cups)

pear custard pie

HEAT oven to 350°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. In small bowl, stir 1/2 cup Bisquick mix, the oats, brown sugar and nutmeg. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until crumbly. Set aside.

In small bowl, STIR 1/2 cup Bisquick mix, the oats, brown sugar and nutmeg. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter, using pastry blender (or puling 2 table knives though ingredients in opposite directions), until crumbly. Set aside.

In medium bowl, STIR all pie ingredients except pears with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate. Arrange pears evenly over top.

BAKE 25 minutes. Sprinkle streusel over pie. Bake 12 to 15 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack 30 minutes. Serve warm. Store in refrigerator.

~ Courtesy of Janice Leary at St Frances Inn, Florida. 

12 Days of Christmas – Turtle Dove Cheesecake

TURTLE DOVE CHEESECAKE

  • 24 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 2 cups)
  • 6   Tbsp.  Butter or margarine, melted
  • 1   Pkg.  (14 oz.)  Caramels
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped Pecans
  • 3 Pkg.  (8 oz. each)Cream Cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1   Tbsp.  Vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2oz.  Dove Chocolate

Turtle Dove CheesecakeHEAT oven to 325°F.

MIX crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 2 inches up side of 9-inch spring form pan.

MICROWAVE caramels and milk in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 3 min. or until caramels are completely melted, stirring after each minute. Stir in nuts; pour half into crust. Refrigerate 10 min. Refrigerate remaining caramel mixture for later use.

BEAT cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over caramel layer in crust.

BAKE 1 hour 5 min. to 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

MICROWAVE reserved caramel mixture 1 min.; stir. Pour over cheesecake. Melt chocolate as directed on package; drizzle over cheesecake.

~ Courtesy of Janice Leary at St Frances Inn bed and breakfast, St Augustine, Florida. 

12 Days of Christmas – Swan Cream Puffs

The historic St. Francis Inn (circa 1791) treats their guests 365 days a year to complimentary evening desserts that are homemade and uniquely created for a perfect ending before bedtime. After guests enjoy their dinner or activities throughout St. Augustine, they enjoy returning to the comforting parlor or dining room, sipping a beverage and indulging their sweet tooth on something yummy and surprising from cook Janice Leary’s kitchen.

For Christmas 2014, once again the Inn’s themed desserts will be paired with one of the 12 Days of Christmas. Each of the desserts below pays homage to the English Christmas Carol that represents a series of increasingly grand gifts presented on each of the 12 days of Christmas.

The song, first published in England in 1780 was without music and offered as a chant or rhyme. Representative of that era – the St. Francis Inn was built in 1791!

swan cream puffs

SWAN CREAM PUFFS

Pastry Puffs Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
4 large eggs
Large zip-top bag
Directions

PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. In a small saucepan, bring water, butter, and sugar to a boil over high.

Immediately REMOVE from heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in all-purpose flour. Continue to stir until mixture pulls away from sides of pan, about 2 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes.

ADD eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until batter comes together. Transfer batter to a large zip-top bag; twist and squeeze bag so batter is in one corner. With scissors, snip a 1/2-inch opening in corner (or use a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round plain tip).

PIPE batter into desired size mounds, 1 inch apart, onto sheets. For heads, pipe candy cane shapes on to parchment paper. With a wet finger, smooth pointy tops. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until puffs are golden brown and feel light and hollow inside, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

Filling:

2 Cups cold eggnog
1 box white chocolate pudding mix

PREPARE according to pudding directions. Let set, then scoop into halved puffs.

~ Courtesy of Janice Leary at St Frances Inn, Florida. 

Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolma Recipe

One of the most popular dishes in Turkish cuisine is Dolma, meaning stuffed. The Turks stuff all sorts of dried and fresh vegetables – eggplants, okra, peppers, zucchini, grape leaves with meat, rice and nuts. More than often, dolma is served as an appetizer, but it can also be eaten as light entree. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite dolmas, roasted and stuffed bell peppers, provided by Selin Rozanes of Turkish Flavors cooking classes and food tours in Istanbul. Slight variations can be found in Macedonian, Indian and American cuisine as well.

Turkish mezzo

Aromatic Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers with Olive Oil Recipe

Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolma

  • 6 large green bell peppers
  • 1 cup rice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons currants
  • 2 tablepoons pine nuts
  • 1 table spoon dried mint
  • 6 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh chopped herb – parsley and dill

Turkish stuffed peppersFilling (Same filling can be used for grapevine leaves):

Put the currants in hot water to allow them to swell; drain and put to one side. Soak the rice in hot salted water for 30 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.

Heat ¼ cup oil in a deep pan and gently sauté the pine nuts until golden. Add the chopped onion and sauté until soft. Add drained rice, currants and spices, stirring gently to ensure the rice grains are evenly coated. Add the 1 cup hot water, salt, and sugar, stir once and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until the cooking liquid is absorbed and steaming bubbles appear on the surface of the rice. It is important not to stir the rice during this time. Remove from the heat, cover the top of the pan with a cloth, replace the lid and set aside to cool for 20 minutes. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Add the herbs and combine gently with a wooden spoon. The rice stuffing is now ready in to vegetables of your choice!

Stuffing the vegetables:

Carefully cut a thin slice from the stem end of peppers and take out the seeds. Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture with a spoon or your hand. Cut small pieces from 1 tomato to cover the top part of peppers. Press the tomato slice down a bit so that it won’t come out.

Place the dolmas in an oven safe dish which is at least as tall as dolmas. Pour 1 cup of boiling water on top.

Sauce:

Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil, hot water, sugar and salt and pour over. First let it boil for 5 minutes on stove. Then, bake it in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes until rice is cooked and tops are browned. Check them regularly if you don’t want to burn the tops. Set aside to cool. Serve at room temperature.

Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolma

~ Recipe courtesy of Selin Rozanes, founder of  Turkish Flavors. The Istanbul based culinary company organizes food tours, cooking classes and team building activities. Check them out on Facebook Turkish Flavours and Turkish Cooking Classes Istanbul and Twitter Turkish Flavours.

10 Things You Must Eat at Your Tuscan Villa

Last week I wrote about staying at a Tuscan Villa in Italy where I enjoyed very authentic meals using ingredients that were grown on the farm or sourced from nearby villages. I enjoyed my trip so much and got the most out of my visit by going on one of the Tours of Tuscany. It let me see all the best parts of Tuscany in just one day! During the one week stay, I was able to get a glimpse of what Italians eat and the proper etiquettes to eat them. I was also dining with the locals during all of the meals, so it was easy to verify the technique of cooking and eating these dishes. Some of the recipes are available on Go Eat Give.

1. Prosciutto and Cheese: A Tuscan meal starts with Salumi and cheese platter. An appertivo cocktail, prosecco or Rose wine accompanies it. Besides your table cheese, you can also serve rich cream of pecorino and sheep cheese from Sardinia.

cheese tasting Italy

2. Raw Fava: Whole raw Fava beans are generally stacked in the middle of the table for everyone to share. You are suppose to grab a few strings, peel them, dip the beans in a little salt, and eat with bread and cheese. The beans are hard and dry so much of the flavor comes from the salt.

fava beans with salt

3. Olive Oil: We always had generous portions of salad, generally served toward the end of the meal. This simple salad of rugola (arugula), black olives, chopped tomatoes, red bell peppers and shaved pecorino cheese is dressed with Montestigliano brand olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. All the olives are grown and pressed at the farm, and has a spicy sharp flavor. I highly recommend doing an olive oil tasting so you can distinguish the color, fragrance and taste of different kinds of olive oil.

Mediterranean salad

4. Spianata: Hearty foccacia is cooked in the oven with a hint of salt, rosemary and olive oil. I especially liked Spianata al forno a legna con ciccioli di maiale (flat bread with pork fat made in a wood oven) which had a flaky buttery texture.

Spianata al forno

5. Farro Salad: Grains are a big part of the Italian diet. The farms grow and harvest wheat, faro, arborio and store them for year round consumption. Farro salad with roasted red peppers, chopped parsley and olive oil served on a baby bib lettuce makes for a visually appealing yet healthy side dish.

farro

6. Conchiglie al Forno: During one of the al fresco lunches, I had baked conchilie pasta al forno, pasta shells cooked with zucchini and benchémel sauce, sprinkled with pecorino cheese and baked in the oven till light brown. It was garnished with fresh basil leaves and tasted divine!

Conchiglie

7. Pinolata Senesce: For Easter dinner, the family prepared a special treat – pinolata senesce or Tuscan pine nut cake from Siena. The creamy cake had a light flaky crust and soft jam center. It was dusted with powdered sugar and lots of toasted pine nuts.

Pinolata Senesce

8. Torta Budino al Cioccolato: This was not your ordinary chocolate cake, as the bottom was a little soggy and bursted with strong dark chocolate and orange flavors. I pleaded the chef to tell me what was her secret ingredient – vanilla, orange liquor, rum? Find out for yourself as she grudgingly shared her recipe.

Torta Budino al Cioccolato

9. Crostata: I ate a lot of crostatas during my week in Tuscany. A crostata is an Italian cross between a tart and a pie. It is a rustic pastry made with butter, sugar, flour and eggs and filled with whatever fruits that are available in the season. Apricot jams, apples, plums, elderberries, tomatoes and nuts are some of the inspiring flavors for the crostata. It was served for breakfast, dessert and snacks, but I’m not complaining!

Crostata

10. Cantucci: Otherwise know as almond biscotti or Italian cookies, the only way to eat them is by dipping in Vin Santo dessert wine. The hard biscotti become moist and sweet after a few seconds in the late-harvest wine. It melts in your mouth with a delicious alcohol kick to it. Please do not dip cantucci in coffee or order a cappuccino after a meal as this is a no-no in Italian culture!

CantucciI went for a food tour of Tuscany as a guest of the Donati family. You can book a similar trip directly through Luisa Donati. Rent one of the villas located on the family farm, Montestigliano. During your stay, visit the bio gas station, do a blind olive oil tasting, talk to local producers, go Truffle hunting, learn to make pasta, have a home cook prepare your meals, and dine with the locals.

Read more about my travels in Italy.