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TIP OF THE DAY: Types Of Smoked Salmon

February 9th is National Bagels and Lox Day. “Lox” is an old generic term that is fading away, replaced by much more complicated choices. So how does one decide among the Irish, Danish, Nova Scotia, Norwegian, Scottish and other smoked salmon contenders? They differ in saltiness, smokiness and fishiness; the only way you’ll know is to taste. If it’s sliced-to-order, you can try a piece at the counter; but packaged salmon (which can be equally fine or better quality depending on manufacturer) is often less expensive because factory slicing is cheaper than store labor). Buy small amounts of each and compare. You don’t need bagels: Slices of salmon with a sprinkling of dill and capers, a lemon wedge and an optional garnish of crème fraîche make a lovely first course for brunch, lunch or dinner. TIP: Once you decide what you like, write it down—they sound so similar, it’s easy to forget.


– Learn about the different types of smoked salmon.

– Discover sustainable, line-caught smoked salmon from Nantucket Wild Gourmet & Smokehouse.

– See David Burke’s smoked salmon pops.

– Try a savory, smoked salmon cheesecake (for hors d’oeuvres or a first course).
  Smoked SalmonHow many types of smoked salmon can you name?
 

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s Molasses Bar Day

Molasses

Dark molasses.

 

If you’d like to bake molasses bars to celebrate National Molasses Bar Day (February 8th), you can find many recipes online. But first: What is molasses?

Known in the U.K. as treacle, it’s a thick syrup produced as a by-product during the refining of sugar cane. Molasses is the residue that is left after the sugar crystals are extracted (i.e., molasses is produced when no more sugar may be economically crystallized by conventional means).

Molasses is predominantly sucrose, with some glucose and fructose. It is 65% as sweet as sugar. About 80% of the world’s molasses comes from sugar cane, with the remaining 20% coming from sugar beets.

 

The better grades, such as New Orleans drip molasses and Barbados molasses, are unreprocessed and contain more sucrose, making them lighter in color> They are used in cooking and confectionery and in the production of rum.

  • Light molasses comes from the first boiling of the cane; it is also called sweet molasses and is used as pancake syrup or a sweetener.
  • Dark molasses from the second boiling; it is more flavorful and less sweet than light molasses, and often used for gingerbread and spice cookies.
  • lackstrap molasses, the lowest grade, comes from the third boiling; it is strong and bitter, and mainly used in mixed cattle feed and in the manufacture of industrial alcohol.
  • Sulfured molasses, has had sulfur dioxide added as a preservative (or, the sulfur in the manufacturing process is retained in the molasses).
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    Read more in our Sugar & Syrup Glossary.


      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Elvis’s Favorite, Bananas & Peanut Butter

    February 8th is Elvis Presley’s birthday, and Elvis’s favorite snack was a peanut butter and “nanner” sandwich—mashed bananas and PB on white toast, fried in butter. (Perhaps it never occurred to him to throw some chocolate morsels on that as well.) We prefer a slightly more gourmet version: PB Loco’s yummy Peanut Butter with Jungle Banana on toasted brioche or raisin bread. Read our review of PB Loco’s flavored peanut butters, and celebrate Elvis’s birthday by ordering a few jars. If you have like sweet PBs, don’t pass up the White Chocolate Raspberry Peanut Butter or the Sumatra Cinnamon & Raisin Peanut Butter—the best raisin PB we’ve ever had. On the savory side, Sun-Dried Tomato Peanut Butter is an exceptional experience. We use it for everything from canapés and tea sandwiches to regular roast beef, turkey, chicken or ham sandwiches; and on linguine or fettuccine as Sun-Dried Tomato Peanut Butter Sauce. Asian Curry Spice Peanut Butter is serious business. Spread some on a roast beef, chicken or duck sandwich for a Thai turn. Find more of our favorite PBs reviewed in THE NIBBLE online magazine   Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter - PB Loco
    P.B. Loco makes 10 flavors plus the basics (creamy and crunchy). Jungle Banana and CocoBanana will help you make a quick “Elvis Sandwich.”
     

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    NEWS: The Year Of The Rat & Chocolate Mice

    Chocolate Mice
    Celebrate the Year Of The Rat, a.k.a. Mouse.
      Today is the first day in the Chinese lunar year; the year ends on January 25, 2009. In China, the year is 4706, not 2008, and it is a Year of the Rat. The Chinese Lunar cycle is not based on 12 repeating lunar months that follow the movements of the sun, as in the Western calendar, but on a 12-year repeating cycle with roots based on the movements of the moon. There is an animal zodiac; each astrological animal symbol represents an entire year. In Chinese, the character for “rat” may refer to either the rat or the mouse; the words are interchangeable. The New Year celebration extends through February 21st. So, celebrate and treat yourself to our favorite gourmet mouse product, these chocolate mice from Burdick Chocolate. While the mice are available year-round, these have a special Chinese New Year flavoring and packaging. The wood boxes are sealed with a gold wax Gung Hay Fat Choy seal (“Best Wishes And Congratulations”), and the chocolate mice have almond ears and tails of red and gold silk. Dark chocolate mice have tangerine and Chinese tea ganaches; milk chocolate mice are filled with mango coconut or hot pepper hazelnut.
    Thanks, Year Of The Rat, for inspiriing these divine mice flavors, Nine mice, $30.00, 16 mice, $46.00. Read our full review of Burdick Chocolate, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

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    TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Fettuccine Alfredo Day

    Fettuccine Alfredo is rich comfort food, made from fettuccine, ribbon-shape strands of pasta (fettucce means “small ribbons” in Italian).

    Wider than the other popular flat shape, linguine, fettuccine provide a better surface for catching rich and creamy sauces. (Fettuccine is similar to tagliatelle, the flat pasta from the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, but is narrower. See our Pasta Glossary for more shapes.)

    To make Fettuccine Alfredo, the pasta is tossed with cream, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; the cheese melts when tossed with the hot pasta, cream and butter, creating a sauce (at home, the ingredients are simply stirred on the stovetop. In a restaurant, tossing at tableside is part of the experience.

    The original recipe was created in 1914 by Alfredo Di Lelio, owner of Alfredo alla Scrofa, a restaurant in Rome. It is simply a variation of traditional Italian recipes, fettuccine al burro (fettuccine with butter) and fettuccini al burro e panna (with butter and cream)—both served, of course, with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    Alfredo tweaked the traditional recipe slightly.

    When butter is added both before and after fettuccine is put in the serving bowl for tossing, it is known as doppio burro, double butter.

    Di Lelio doubled the amount of butter in the bowl before the fettuccine was added, creating a triplo burro, triple butter, recipe: more butter made more of a sauce.

    Why? The chef created the dish to entice his pregnant wife, who had lost her appetite. He served it with egg fettuccine, hoping that the “nutritious dish” would do the trick.

    Today, we know that a typical serving of the “nutritious dish” has 455 calories, 38g of fat, 291mg of sodium and 143g of cholesterol. But for people who love rich, creamy food, it hits the spot!

    By the way, in Italy, fettuccine Alfredo and Alfredo sauce are not common terms. Instead, orders fettuccine al burro e panna—triplo burro.

     

    Fettuccine Alfredo

    Fettuccine Alfredo

    [1] The original Fettuccine Alfredo was a triple butter and cream sauce (photo courtesy Cooking Classy). [2] In the U.S., green peas were added to give some color to the dish (photo courtesy Three Bell Peppers).

     
    For something different, try these recipes:

  • Fettuccine Alfredo with Goat’s Milk and Goat Cheese—if you like goat cheese, you’ll like this variation.
  • Blue Cheese Alfredo (a recipe for traditional Alfredo sauce is included).
  • Dessert Fettuccine Alfredo, with crème anglaise instead of cheese sauce.
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