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Everyone is dipping these days.
Many fast-food chains and restaurants feature condiment islands set up to accommodate the myriad of tastes out there, be it burgers, tacos or quick pan-Asian.
Teens have turned dipping pizza “Brooklyn style” in Ranch dressing into a national ritual. Even onion rings are now offered with blue cheese and ranch dressings on the side.
We have always loved to dip at social gatherings; beginning with ruffled chips in onion dip then evolving to tortilla chips and salsa, now the nation’s most popular snack. Even though the concept of the fondue pot dinner goes in and out of popularity every other decade or so, the required dipping sauces are what make it fun and unique.
Sauces can be quickly whipped up from ingredients most people have in their refrigerator and cupboard. From any of the following– olives, mustard, mayo, jam, lemons, balsamic vinegar, fruit juice, oil, dried herbs and spices– you can make a killer dipping sauce.
Here are a few ideas:
For salmon or shellfish:
Mix mayonnaise, sweet/hot mustard (or Dijon), and curry powder together then add a squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste. Garnish with a mint leaf.
Combine sour cream (or crème fraiche), capers, Worcestshire sauce, Tabasco, horseradish sauce and chopped chives.
Thin fig jam or orange marmalade with brandy, rum or orange juice; add ground cloves to taste. Garnish with grated orange peel.
For Asian dishes:
Stir together Plum sauce, soy sauce, hot Chinese mustard, a splash of rum and a few drops of toasted sesame oil.
Boosting prepared sauces is also creative fun and you really can’t go wrong.
Purchased cocktail sauces are often too sugary. Empty a jar of prepared cocktail sauce into a bowl. Add more horseradish, Worcestshire sauce, lemon juice and Tabasco. Stir to mix, refill the jar and you will always have “kicked up” cocktail sauce at the ready. This same method can be used to improve bottled barbecue sauce.
Even a bottled pesto sauce can be mixed with mayonnaise to create a beautiful and interesting enhancement to grilled chicken or fish.
Dipping sauces displayed on the plate in pretty, tiny condiment dishes make the meal appear more exotic, bountiful and colorful.
So, start experimenting and have fun discovering the wealth of flavors that can be created with the staples you already have on hand.
Just the sound and look of the word on the printed page can incite a shiver….some people love their roasted meat rare and aromatically bloody, but that’s about as far as most folks go.
Animal blood has long been used in world cuisines throughout the centuries: as a congealed thickener for soups and stews, puddings, and stuffed into sausages.
Happily, the aptly-named Blood Orange is a far cry from the real thing. Its crimson-stained flesh may be a little off-putting, but once this delectable fruit is sampled, with its burst of deep, full-bodied citrus flavor, it feels as though you are consuming something historical: a fruit for the ages.
No, Bloods are not pristinely attractive like the omnipresent, sterile, always-predictable Navels that choke the produce bins. Indeed, sometimes the blood-like hue seeps into the outer skin as well, causing it to look rather bruised and beaten. Make no mistake; regardless of the painful outside appearance, the juice and flesh of the blood orange will elevate anything you grace it with.
Blood oranges are not always found in the big chain supermarkets. Farmers’ markets often sell them and if you are lucky enough to know someone who has a tree, well, you are in good fortune.
The brilliant opener for Showtime’s popular series Dexter, featuring a luckier-than-usual serial killer as the protagonist, shows a blood orange as it is excruciatingly juiced, and its pulpy red flesh looks so real, the rest of the sequence becomes harder to watch.
Questionable media exposure aside, the ruby-tainted juice is delightful not only with breakfast but in cocktails as well.
The Sunday, Bloody Sunday Mimosa
1 oz. freshly squeezed blood orange juice
4 oz. chilled Brut Champagne
Dash Angostura Bitters
Fresh mint leaf
Pour above ingredients into chilled champagne flute. Garnish with blood orange wedge and fresh mint sprig.
An appropriate toast upon serving: here’s blood in your eye….
Have you ever prepared a stir-fry meal at home and been disappointed with the results?
Why doesn’t the chicken, beef or pork taste like it does in Asian restaurants?
The reason is an old technique known as velveting. This process seals in the moistness of the meat prior to cooking so that the result is a softened, silky, velvet-like texture.
Though there are many variations, velveting usually consists of marinating the meat in the following ingredients: egg whites, cornstarch, Mirin (sweet rice wine) or sherry, salt and sugar. Some cooks also add a splash of soy sauce and minced garlic for additional flavor.
(for 1lb. of meat or poultry)
1 egg white
1 tbsp. Mirin or sherry
Pinch of sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil
Mix ingredients together. Add meat or poultry cut in bite-size pieces. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature. Drain meat in colander.
From this point, the meat can be directly stir-fried with other ingredients.
For meat to be browned and crispy, it should be first deep fried in hot oil in the bottom of a wok and set aside. The cornstarch does an uncanny job of making the meat crispy on the outside, yet still tender and juicy on the inside. After stir-frying the remaining items, the crispy meat can be added for a last stir ‘round in the wok.
Finish the dish with texture: toasted ground macadamia nuts, wasabi peas or grated carrot or radish.
The varieties and shapes of pasta available are endless throughout the world but in America we are acquainted with just a few basic ones.
Pairing the right sauce against the right pasta seems elementary, but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
Fettuccine is the gladiator of pastas with its wide, thick noodles. It holds up well under for heavy sauces containing meat, like stroganoff and sausage.
Linguine, with its long, flat strands, features robust properties and stands up beautifully to meatier shellfish such as clams and shrimp scampi preparations with cream.
Spaghetti, the most beloved of the pastas and the most fun to eat, responds best to basic sauces such as chopped tomato, puttanesca, pesto and small meatballs.
Capellini, the thinnest and most delicate of the varieties, has a tendency to become mushy instantly so it is vital to cook it al dente and dress it with only the lightest of sauces: olive oil and minced garlic with a squeeze of lemon or a light marinara sauce.
Ravioli now comes ready-made and stuffed not only with cheese, but also other interesting items such as artichokes, herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and lobster, to name just a few. These ruffled little pockets with surprises inside can withstand any type of sauce and the fun comes in creating something unusual that will complement the stuffing. Try a creamy pesto or a chunky sauce of chopped tomato, capers and top with crisply fried pancetta.
Mushrooms have always gotten a bad rap, but it is not entirely unearned.
They are, after all, a homely, spore-bearing fungus that, when unearthed, look like something unnatural that probably should have remained in the ground…Just the sound of the name tripping off the tongue is not especially pretty.
Indeed, many people feel that raw mushrooms, no matter how clean they are, still taste like dirt.
The fungus remains, however, a necessary component to great cooking and the mushroom world is endlessly prolific in the varieties it produces: criminis, whites, enokis, shitakes, portobellos….
Massive Portobellos are especially flexible: they can be grilled like a burger for vegetarian barbecues, stuffed with crabmeat and cheese or sautéed like a steak and drizzled with a creamy green peppercorn sauce.
Mushrooms also have a quality of danger about them. That some can be deadly poisonous is part of the equation. So, add dangerous to dirty and ugly and the poor mushroom is constantly fighting for redemption.
But…something glorious happens to mushrooms when sautéed gently with butter and herbs. They take on a lovely browned tone and the harsh earthiness is replaced by a soft, subtle flavor. The aroma of mushrooms bubbling in butter is sublime.
How to Get Kids and Picky People to Eat Mushrooms
The key to introducing any new food is to mince it into tiny pieces so it provides color and texture and in no way resembles its gnarly former self. Kids and picky adults will not notice.
Sautéed mushrooms are a splendid topping for grilled steak. These can be sautéed ahead of time with chopped onions and a splash of port wine or Jack Daniels. Freeze ½ cup servings in baggies and you will always have a quick topping to use on a pork chop or chicken breast.
The poor, homely mushroom deserves a chance.
Graduation catering time is around the corner! No need to stress out with all the planning, invitations, pictures and cooking! With a number of Preferred Vendors and unlimited potential, Savories Catering is the perfect choice for all your catering needs.
Let Savories full-service catering company take the stress out of supplying food for your next graduation event. With several menus available, Savories offers tons of versatility for the most laid back occasions to the most elegant affairs. Looking for a place to host your party? Enjoy the conference rooms at the Edgewater Resort & Waterpark or for a centralized location, The Inn on Lake Superior in Canal Park.
One call does it all! Call us today at 218-728-6036 and book Savories Catering for your next event!
To hatch these cute cups:
For a centerpiece, mimicked these miniature flowering egg shells by placing greens and bigger blooms of hyacinth in larger vases.
Easter Recipe- Bird’s Nest Cookies
1 cup butter
8oz cream cheese
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp coconut extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
Flaked coconut and green food coloring
Egg shaped candies: Reese’s eggs, Cadbury eggs, Peanut M&M’s or jelly beans work great!
Beat together butter and cream cheese till smooth. Beat in sugar. Add egg, vanilla, and extracts. Mix well. Stir in the flour and baking powder. Roll dough in balls (about the size of ping pongs). Place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Make an indentation in each one using the back of a Tablespoon. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Cookies won’t brown. Remove from oven and use the spoon to press down the indentation again. Let cookies cool completely. Mix coconut with a couple of drops of green food coloring in a small bowl with a lid. Cover and shake till coconut is tinted green. Fill nests with coconut, and add a few egg candies.