Archive for February, 2013

Everything’s Better with (Apple) Butter

How to Make Apple Butter

I grew up in the Mohawk Valley of Upstate New York, where apples abounded. In the autumn, we’d go to one of the local orchards to pick our own. I especially loved the crisp, sweet-tart Macintosh apples, which have the perfect combination of satisfying crunch and flavorful juice.

For the last 22 years, I’ve lived in Northern California, and while the produce here is generally unparalleled, our apples are, at least for eating out of hand, pretty lackluster. Some may have the right crispness, but are either puckering-ly sour or insipidly sweet. Others may have the right balance of flavor, but suffer from mealy texture.

However, the one surefire way to conjure up the flavor of the apples of my youth is by cooking them down into a rich, smooth apple butter. Slathered on an English muffin or swirled into a warming bowl of morning oatmeal, it transports me back in a single bite.

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Meatless Monday: Spicy Quesadillas


Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Mexican food is the one cuisine I never tire of. After spending last week in Mexico on my annual get-me-out-of-here-it’s-too-cold-vacation, I’m craving more salsa, guacamole, beans and spiced vegetables stuffed into tortillas or scooped up with tortilla chips, even though that’s what I lived on for the last 7 days.

The thing about Mexican food is that it’s usually pretty heavy on the meat, but most of the classics are easy enough to make meatless, especially if you’re doing the cooking yourself. If it’s burritos or tacos you’re craving, substitute black or pinto beans for the ground beef or chicken; you can season the beans with the same spices. Same goes for nachos — pile on refried beans or seasoned black beans along with the cheese, onions and olives and all that good stuff. For fajitas, use grilled or sauteed vegetables instead of the beef or chicken. Huevos rancheros, chiles rellenos, chilaquiles, beans and rice … the meatless Mexican possibilities are endless.

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Have Your Beer and Eat it Too With This Chocolate Stout and Edible Glass Combo

We all love beer. We all love chocolate. That’s why, in recent years, chocolate stouts, bocks and lagers have become all the rage. The two seem like a match made in imbibing heaven. Now that match is getting even more, um, heavenly with the release of an edible chocolate glass complete with matching chocolate stout.

Japan’s Sankt Gallen brewery has released a rather novel combo set. The set includes not only a 330 mL bottle of their Imperial Chocolate Stout but also the aforementioned matching chocolate glass. The glass is made entirely out of chocolate and therefore completely edible. You sip. You bite. Repeat. This is the perfect gift for both alcoholics and chocoholics.

The Imperial Chocolate Stout is made with twice the ingredients of the average dark beer so the chocolate glass acts as a sort of counterbalance. Mmm, chocolate perfection. If you feel like braving the Japanese-only website, you can buy your own here.

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Oscar Nominated Guacamole? Yes, Please.

And the Oscar goes to… guacamole? Well, not yet at least but it did get nominated. Not familiar? Not surprising. Let’s be honest, when it comes to the Oscar nominations, size matters.  Year after year without fail, people flood the theaters to see the slew of blockbuster feature-length films all nominated for “best picture,” while the short films often come up … well, short, in terms of viewership. Not this year, though. This year, the animated short films have been feeling the love, too, and it’s easy to see why.

Created by director and animator, Adam Pesapane, more often known as “PES,” “Fresh Guacamole” is a stop motion animated short film that chronicles the familiar steps involved in making (*spoiler alert*) guacamole.  While his method and tools are mundane — his ingredients are anything but.  Here’s the recipe for PES’s Oscar-nominated “Fresh Guacamole:”*

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This Retro Food Truck Reinvents Breakfast, by Putting it on a Stick

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and yet we keep devoting less time to it. It’s not hard to see why. We have to get ready for work. We have to check our email, Facebook messages and if anyone retweeted our retweet of something Whoopi Goldberg said. There is simply not enough time to enjoy a real breakfast … that is, until now.

A 50s-themed trailer in the Seattle area has begun offering breakfast on a stick, thus letting you have your pancake and eat it too. My Sweet Little Cakes puts pretty much everything they sell on sticks, including such breakfast classics such as chicken and waffles, buttermilk pancakes and hickory smoked bacon. Finally, the tyranny of quick and easy smoothies can be put to an end.

Of course, being as how this truck is in Seattle, you’ll have to be in the area to plunder its wares. Until this idea sweeps the rest of the world, may we suggest making breakfast yourself and pretending its on a stick.

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Chuck Hughes Wins Chef Volleyball Tournament

Chuck Hughes and Spike Mendelsohn at SOBE
Unless you’re into things like delicious food, hanging out on a warm and sunny beach in the middle of winter and mingling with awesome celebrity chefs, The South Beach Food & Wine Festival probably isn’t for you. The event still has a lot to offer the other one of you, though … like volleyball tournaments. Spike Mendelsohn, of Next Iron Chef notoriety, hosted the Let’s Get Spiked Volleyball Tournament today where four teams comprised of food people like Alex Guarnaschelli, Justin Warner and Pat LaFrieda took to the sand to take a pass at a different kind of serving.

It turns out that a lot of chefs suck at sports. But you know who didn’t suck? Cooking Channel’s own Chuck Hughes who brought home the gold medal along with his teammates Josh Capon, Andrew Zimmern and Kris Wessel. Congratulations, Chuck. Maybe one day you’ll find something you’re not good at. For now, why don’t you take a day off.

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Is Gluten-Free for You?

With everything from cookies to pasta to soup to sausages bearing a “gluten-free” label these days, you might have wondered what the hype is with gluten-free — is it healthier? Will it help you lose weight? Most importantly, should you go gluten-free? Read on to find out what gluten is and who should avoid it.

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Magical App Turns Pizza Drawings Into Actual Pizza

Back when the Internet was beginning its sinewy grasp of every nook and cranny of our lives, we were told it would change how we did just about everything. This has proven to be true, after all you are reading this on a computer and not a newspaper. But what about eating pizza? Eating pizza hasn’t changed too much.

Don’t worry. The Internet is on top of it. A new app by Jonas Lund is named ‘Paint Your Pizza’ and it lets you do just that. Just head to the site, scribble out some ridiculous pizza drawing and then wait. In theory, that pizza drawing will then be turned into an actual pizza and delivered to your door to the delight and amusement of everyone around you. The cost of each pie is said to be $36.

Now for the bad news. This is only a concept app for now. You can sign on, paint your pizza and then wait. However, there isn’t yet an apparatus in place to make the actual pizza. While you wait why not just order a pizza and move the toppings around yourself?

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5 Ways to Celebrate National Margarita Day

It’s National Margarita Day and it’s Friday so whether you prefer your cocktail blended or on the rocks, it’s definitely time to break out the tequila.

1. Tyler’s Ultimate Margarita (pictured above)

Tyler’s version of a margarita has it all: lime juice, sugar, orange liqueur, triple sec, tequila and even a splash of beer for good measure. The only other thing you’ll need? Great guacamole.

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Thirsty Thursday: The Perky Black and Tan

I’m currently writing from Portland, Oregon, the promise land of coffee and beer. Abounding in coffee shops and breweries, the relatively small city of Portland has 51 breweries and is home to the well-known Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Portland has inspired me to highlight the Perky Black and Tan. The classic two-hued Black and Tan is normally made with pale ale and Guinness, but this version layers dark, smoky coffee stout on top of pale ale. Though the recipe is simple (only two ingredients), it’s the technique that may take some practice. Use an inverted spoon to gently pour the stout on top of the pale ale for two distinctive layers.

Finally: a drink where coffee break meets cocktail hour.

Bottoms up, folks.

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