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TIP OF THE DAY: Red Caviar Hearts For Easy Valentine Hors d’Oeuvres

Take those heart-shaped cookie cutters and make heart-stopping hors d’oeuvres—or a first course—with toast, sour cream or crème fraîche and red caviar. Buy the best white bread or brioche, toast it, let the toast cool, and then cut the heart shapes. Spread with sour cream/crème fraîche, then top with one or several different red caviars: salmon caviar, tobiko, beet-colored whitefish roe (available from Tsar Nicoulai, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week), lumpfish or capelin roe. Drape a chive across each heart as the “arrow.”- See the full recipe.
– See more red caviar recipes.
– Learn more about caviar in our Caviar Glossary.
– See all of the articles, recipes and product reviews in the Caviar Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine
  Red Caviar
Make red caviar into heart-shaped hors d’oeuvres. Photo courtesy of Red-Caviar.com.
 

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Plum Pudding Day

Plum Pudding Hard Sauce

Christmas Pudding Toffee Sauce

Top: Plum Pudding with hard sauce; photo by Gary Lerner | London Lennie’s. Bottom: Plum pudding with toffee sauce at MackenzieLtd.com.

 

“Who on earth would strive to create a National Plum Pudding Day in America, especially on February 12th,” we wondered. This is the boiled pudding dessert made of dried fruit that is traditionally served in the U.K. on Christmas Day (it’s also known as Christmas pudding and figgy pudding).

You can’t even get an American to eat a piece of fruit cake, let alone a dark, dried fruit and suet concoction, mixed with flour and spices (and related to mince pie, another dish not-so-beloved by Americans).

It’s largely that plum pudding is not sweet enough for the American palate, and we aren’t accustomed to desserts made with suet (beef or mutton fat).

And why would National Plum Pudding day be in the middle of February, rather than around the holidays?

In the U.K. it’s available year-round.

We really enjoy a good plum pudding (as well as a good fruitcake and a good mince pie).

  • Plum pudding can be eaten with hard sauce, custard sauce, crème anglaise, lemon cream, etc.
  • With a side of rum raisin ice cream, custard sauce and enough flaming brandy poured upon it, more Americans might warm up to it.
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    Here’s a recipe to make your own plum pudding.

    Here’s more about plum pudding sauces and history.
     
    BUT WHAT ABOUT ABRAHAM LINCOLN?

    The bigger issue, vis-à-vis the scramble to name every day of the year a food holiday, would seem that we’ve forgotten that February 12th is the birthday of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

     
    President Lincoln was born in 1809 in a one-room log cabin on his parents’ farm in Hardin County (now part of LaRue County), Kentucky. Might not a more appropriate holiday for February 12th be Bûche de Noel Day, honoring Honest Abe with that charming buttercream cake decorated to look like a log? Just a thought.

    Those of you from Kentucky or Illinois, where the family relocated and Abe began his political career, might think of petitioning to get something more Lincoln-appropriate in the February 12th food holiday slot. Find out how all of these holidays (known as “special observance days”) are enacted…and perhaps you’ll be inspired to petition for your own.

    National Foie Gras With Château d’Yquem Day, anyone?


      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pâtes de Fruit

    oincidentally, since our prior post was about Michael Recchiuti’s new cassis gelée chocolate, our tip of the day focuses on pâte de fruits—a.k.a. fruit gelée or fruit jellies, although we hesitate to use these terms because these have nothing to do with American candies like Chuckles and jellied watermelon slices, made with “fruit flavoring.”

    Pâtes de fruits (pronounced pot duh froo-EE) are gourmet fruits jellies, made of fruit purée, sugar and pectin. A great pâte de fruit is like eating a wonderful piece of fruit in a different form (as is a great fruit sorbet).

    For people who like sweets but not chocolate, a perfect Valentine’s Day gift is a box of the best pâtes de fruit we know, from Paris’s Maison du Chocolat—which, conveniently for us, has five shops in New York City and a website.

    Keep an extra box in your own pantry. These edible gems are so versatile:

  • Instead of (or in addition to) cookies and petit fours
  • When friends drop by for tea or coffee
  • As an accent on a dessert plate
  • When guests can’t eat your regular dessert due to nut or chocolate allergies
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    In fact, if you’ve forgotten the dessert, or the soufflé flops, bring out a plate of these beautiful, jewel-colored sweets and no one will be the wiser.

    By the way, the difference between pâtes de fruit, plural, and pâte de fruit, singular, is not how many pieces you get, but how many flavors.

    If there’s more than one flavor, use the plural, pâtes. This nuance of the French language is courtesy of our French cousin, Philippe.

    Read more about our favorite sweets in the Gourmet Candy Section of THE NIBBLE webzine. If you pursue the greatest chocolates, visit our Chocolate Section

     

    Pates de Fruit

    Pate de Fruits

    [1] Our favorite pâtes de fruit, from La Maison du Chocolat. [2] Some pâtissiérs, such as Charles Chocolates in California, prefer this half dome shape.

     

      

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    NEWS: Cassis Lovers Can Rejoice In Recchiuti’s “Chocolate Of The Month”

    Cassis Chocolate - Recchiuti

    Enjoy a Cassis Strata bonbon with a Kir Royale. Photo courtesy Recchiuti Chocolates.

     

    Love chocolate? Love pâte de fruit? Love cassis (black currant)? Chocolatier Michael Recchiuti combines them all to create the February 2008 “Flavor of the Month,” Cassis Strata.

    It’s a layer of cassis gelée atop a layer of silky Madagascar single origin ganache, enrobed in pure bittersweet chocolate. Nibble a piece as you sip some creme de cassis…or add the cassis to a moderately-good Champagne (never a great bottle, where you’ll want to enjoy all of the flavor nuances and not cover them up with external flavors) to make a Kir Royale).

    The Kir was named after Félix Kir (1876-1968), a mayor of the city of Dijon in Burgundy (the same city of mustard fame). He added a splash of cassis to white Burgundy and it became a popular drink, named in his honor.

    The Kir led to the Kir Royale, substituting Champagne for the still wine. You can use any sparkling wine for a similar effect…and you can substitute framboise or Chambord [raspberry liqueurs] for the cassis.

    RECIPE: KIR ROYALE

    1. POUR about an inch of cassis in the bottom of a flute or tulip Champagne glass.

    2. ADD the Champagne, slowly pouring down the side of the glass. Stirring breaks the bubbles in the Champagne, so the better option is not to stir (if you must, stir once, very gently).

    An alternate technique is pour in the Champagne first, then tilt the glass and pour the cassis down the side.


      

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    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Win Mrs. Field’s Hot Cocoa

    Given the cold spell that has settled over much of the country, it’s appropriate that this week’s Gourmet Giveaway is hot cocoa. Four one-pound cans of Mrs. Field’s Hot Cocoa could be yours, just by answering a few trivia questions about cocoa (you don’t have to answer correctly to win). Each reusable can makes twelve 6-ounce cups or 6 large mugs of steaming cocoa. if you’re the winner, you can invite friends over for cocoa klatsch. When they ask what they can bring, tell them: cookies! Then, you can test them on the same trivia questions you answered, and award the winner one of your four cans. Enter here. If you’re a trivia lover, all of the quizzes from our prior Gourmet Giveaways are available for your recreational pleasure. There’s no longer a prize attached…but the fun factoids you’ll pick up taking the quizzes are a nice reward.   Mrs. Fields Gourmet Cocoa
    You could win four of these captivating (and reusable) cans of cocoa.
    If you hunger for hot chocolate, you may enjoy these articles in the Cocoa & Hot Chocolate Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine, which features reviews of more than 70 hot chocolate brands:
    Cocoa, Natural or Dutched: Does It Make A Difference?
    25 Great Hot Chocolate Tricks
    Spiced European Hot Chocolate Recipe from chocolatier Michael Recchiuti

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