Summer Dessert Recipe: Mandarin Orange & Pineapple Cake

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

mandarin-orange-cake-slice.jpg
Photo by Molly Dunn
The juicy pineapple chunks in the whipped topping make this a refreshingly sweet cake.
When someone thinks of a "summer dessert," most likely cake does not come to their mind. Usually, sweet treats in the scorching hot summer months include ice cream, Popsicles, sno cones and the occasional milkshake. Cakes are covered in frosting, be it chocolate, strawberry, vanilla or cream cheese, and that's not exactly the best solution for a sweet tooth in search of something refreshing. Usually the glass of milk accompanying each bite does that trick.

But, what if the cake had oranges and pineapple? And the heavy frosting was replaced with a light and airy whipped topping?

That's what we call a summer dessert.

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Dish of the Week: Homemade Pierogi

Categories: How To, Recipes

pierogi_homemade.jpg
Photo by Rebecca Siegel
Pierogi can come in all shapes and sizes, but most popular is the half-moon shape.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're covering the famed Polish pierogi.

Pierogi are a type of dumpling popularized in Eastern Europe. While the origin of the dish is undocumented and many ethnic groups lay claim to its creation, pierogi are widely recognized as being Polish. Similar to jiaozi (the Chinese pot sticker), some say the dumplings were imported to Poland from the Far East as far back as the 13th century.

Made with unleavened dough that gets stuffed with both sweet and savory fillings, the crescent-shaped dumplings are first boiled before being baked or fried, usually in butter. Though a mixture of potatoes and cheese is probably the most popular filling (commonly known as the Polish or ruskie pierogi), ground meat, sauerkraut, cheese, and a variety of fruits and vegetables can be found stuffed inside pierogi as well. Savory versions are often fried with butter and onions and served with sour cream, while sweet versions are often sprinkled with sugar.


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Dish of the Week: Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Categories: How To, Recipes

spaghetti_carbonara.jpg
Photo by Tavallai
This Italian classic is simple but oh so decadent.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're looking at a classic Italian pasta dish: Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

Made with pork, eggs, and grated cheese, the simple dish is believed to have originated in Rome after the World War II, when U.S. troops brought supplies of bacon and eggs to Italy (according to the Oxford Companion to Food). Though the exact origin of the dish is unclear, its name is derived from the word carbonoro, meaning charcoal burner, leading some to believe dish was conceived to provide Italian charcoal workers with a hearty meal.

To make it, pork (likely guanciale, pancetta, or bacon) is cooked in fat, then tossed, off the heat, with hot pasta, raw eggs, and grated cheese (Pecorino-Romano and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano). The result is a creamy, decadent sauce that coats each and every strand of pasta. Some less traditional recipes call for cream, but when made right, it is certainly not needed. Though it's commonly made with spaghetti, other pastas like linguini, fettuccine, and bucatini can also be used.


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Recipe of the Week: Alabama White Sauce

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Photo by Dan
Horseradish and cider vinegar give this creamy 'cue sauce kick.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

With summer in full swing, we're taking a look at a good ol'-fashioned Southern barbecue stable: Alabama white sauce.

Unlike most tomato- or mustard-based 'cue sauces, this sauce is actually the color white. That's because it's made with thick and creamy mayonnaise. It all started with Alabama native Bob Gibson -- a.k.a. "Big Bob" -- in 1925. He created the sweet and tangy sauce and used it to baste chicken and pork at his restaurant, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Since then, the fad has spread like wildfire. It's now as popular in Alabama as the Crimson Tide.


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Dish of the Week: Turkish Shish Kebab

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Photo by Valters Krontals
These kebabs are just in time for grilling season.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for a Turkish classic: shish kebab.

The word kebab literally means "roast meat." Though there are several variations throughout the Middle East and South Asia - including the doner kebap sandwich that we've becoming familiar with recently thanks to VERTS -- the terms shish kebab refers to meat roasted on a skewer (or a shish in Turkish).

Meat skewers were referenced in Homer's Odyssey, but the practice may have been born even earlier; Excavations have unearthed Greek stones set for barbecue skewers that date as far as 17th century BC. Today, you'll find iterations of shish kebabs all over the world, with marinated and grilled lamb being one of the most famous.

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Celebrate Independence Day With These Red, White & Blue Cocktails

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Photo by Mike McCune
Now you can feel patriotic as you drink your face off.
The 4th of July is right around the corner, y'all, and you know what that means. Fireworks! Independence! Parades! Barbecues! And most importantly, red, white, and blue drinks that show just how much you love 'merica!

Well, do we have the list for you. From a spiked lemonade to a drinks on a stick, here are five colorful adult beverages for your 4th of July party:


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Dish of the Week: Fried Green Tomatoes

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Photo by Star5112
Serve these crispy fried tomatoes with a spicy remoulade.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're exploring the down home Southern classic, fried green tomatoes.

But the "classically Southern" dish may not be so Southern after all. Some historians say the dish was first introduced by Jewish immigrants in other parts of the United States, mainly the Northeast and Midwest. Recipes for fried green tomatoes have been found in Jewish cookbooks as far back as 1889. The dish gained popularity in Northern states where the unripened (green) fruit was harvested before the first frosts.

Today the fried delight are served as a snack or side dish all over the country, particularly in the South. While some versions call for a flour batter, the typical preparation is a cornmeal-crust that gets shallow fried in fat until golden brown and crisp.


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How to Make Your Own Lobster Roll

Categories: How To, Recipes

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Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Get as many lobsters as you can afford.

In January of this year my grandmother, Margaret Berkeley O'Leary, passed away at the venerable age of 100. As per my wont, I've been processing my grief for my grandmother through food and cooking, remembering and recreating the dishes she enjoyed. Gramma particularly loved lobster rolls (the main course at her last birthday party), so when I got a craving for one last week I decided to make my own rather than take the easy way out and go to Mainely Sandwiches.

Making your own lobster roll at home can be more or less time-consuming depending on whether you boil your own lobster or wimp out like I did and buy some surprisingly affordable pre-cooked lobsters from Kroger.

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Five Ways to Cook Green Tomatoes (Other Than Frying Them)

Categories: Recipes

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Photo by SMcGarnigle via flickr
Green tomatoes are under-ripe red tomatoes and taste more sour.
Whenever you buy green tomatoes, you're most likely going to fry them. Am I right? And that's definitely not a bad thing, but you can do so much more with the beautiful under-ripe fruits. Green tomatoes are certainly available in grocery stores and farmers markets, even at the beginning of the summer, but as the summer progresses, your selection will increase.

After you make your batch of green tomatoes coated in cornmeal and fried in oil(you have to make them at least once this summer), take a whack at these five recipes.

Green Tomato Salsa
Texans love salsa. Switch things up and make a salsa verde for your chips with sour tomatoes rather than the fully-ripe variety. Throw in bold ingredients like lime, red onion, jalapeƱo and cumin to make a spicy, tangy salsa. Maintain the texture by not pureeing the ingredients. Serve it with chips, or spoon it over grilled chicken.


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Dish of the Week: Steak au Poivre

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Photo by Quinn Dombrowski
This steak is crusted with peppercorn, then topped with a quick pan sauce.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're covering the modern French beef dish, steak au poivre.

Literally meaning "pepper steak," this steak is crusted with coarse, barely crushed peppercorns before being seared and smothered in a pan sauce made with wine, cognac, and/or cream. Best served medium-rare for ultimate succulence, the dish is traditionally made using tender cuts of beef like filet mignon.

The origin of the dish is unclear, with French chefs laying claim to the dish as far back as 1905. There are even theories that trace the origins back to Leopold I of Germany in 1790 (though this is often refuted, as any good theory is). But our favorite theory? Some say the dish was popularized in the 19th century, when notable figures would take their female companions to French bistros to dine on the steak because of pepper's natual aphrodisiac qualities. Ooh la la.

Whatever its beginnings, the steak has made it big in today's fine dining scene. The rich, fatty meat is contrasted by the piquant, woodsy peppercorns, which form a caramelized crust when seared in a hot pan with oil or butter. As the steak rests, a quick pan sauce is made using cognac, red wine, or bourbon and often shallots, butter, mustard, peppercorns and cream.

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