Still stumped on what to get mom for Mother's Day? If she's a wine lover — and really, who isn't? — show her how much you care by indulging her enological tendencies. Read on for five ideas.
This month, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival is celebrating year 12 of food, cocktails, celebrity chefs, and outrageous parties. We'll be bringing you along with us to the tasting tents and demonstrations, so stay tuned for all of our on-the-scene coverage. In the meantime, see how much you know about this delicious and star-studded festival.
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We're just kicking off Summer, and there's still plenty of time to throw your biggest grilling bash yet. Prep your backyard, secure a spot at the park, or haul your ice chest down to the beach. Follow these tips for a seamless Summer soiree that you'll actually be able to relax and enjoy.
- Choose an adaptable menu. Chances are, your guest list will include a variety of eaters, some of whom will want meat and some of whom will not. Choosing a menu that can be easily tweaked to suit different tastes will ensure that you don't spend your entire barbecue cooking up five separate meals. Sausages (pork, chicken, and soy), burgers (beef, turkey, and veg), and kebabs (meat and veggies on separate skewers) are versatile and delicious options.
- Add a signature detail. If you're feeding a crowd, it's probably not the time to tackle labor-intensive dishes with pricey ingredients. Instead, keep the majority of your menu simple and easy, but add one signature detail or dish that will make your party stand out. If you're known for your seven-layer dip, take the time to whip up a fabulous batch, but serve it alongside premade hummus. Into canning and preserving? Make your own pickles and relishes to serve atop of store-bought 'dogs.
For the rest of my suggestions, read on.
Ever noticed how asparagus has a more robust, nutty flavor when you roast it in the oven with olive oil than when you blanch or steam it? I'd always assumed that was just because, well, roasting makes everything taste better, but it turns out there's actually a scientific explanation behind the difference.
According to Fat Duck chef Heston Blumenthal, the flavor molecules in asparagus are water soluble. When you blanch the spears in boiling water, the flavor "leaks" out of the asparagus and into the water. When you cook it in fat, the molecules remain intact and stay where you want them — in your asparagus. So, instead of blanching your next batch of asparagus, cook it in a little olive oil or butter for a more flavorful result.
Since learning this fun fact from Blumenthal's The Fat Duck Cookbook, I haven't cooked asparagus any other way, and he's right! The flavor and texture are miles better. But don't get too carried away with this technique: although veggies like asparagus and carrots have water-soluble flavor molecules, the molecules in others, like broccoli and green beans, are oil-soluble and should be cooked in water for optimal flavor.
Have you ever tried this method of cooking asparagus?
Source: Flickr User bongo vongo
There's nothing worse than being elbow-deep in an exciting recipe, only to realize it calls for an ingredient you don't have. But there is a way around the situation that doesn't involve keeping your kitchen stocked with items you won't get much use out of. Read on for five slightly unusual ingredients many recipes call for and an easy substitution for each.
Sugar cookies and peppermint bark are a dime a dozen during the holiday season, but this year, we've been bringing you some deliciously out-of-the-box edible gift ideas with our fourth annual 12 Days of Edible Gifts series. Haven't had time to whip up one of our easy, tasty ideas yet? If you've got 15 minutes and a handful of fiery peppers, we've got your answer: homemade hot sauce.
This recipe is so easy it almost can't be called a recipe, but your lucky recipients don't have to know that. It's also completely customizable: use whichever peppers you prefer (or whichever are easiest to get your hands on). Last year, I used a combination of green jalapeños and habaneros; the result was tangy, herbaceous, and blazing hot. This year's batch was made with ripe red jalapeños and red serranos, and while it still packs some heat, it's much milder and sweeter.
If you can't bear to give away all the fruits of your labor, you're in luck: the vinegar that rises to the top of the hot sauce as it cures can be skimmed off, bottled separately, and kept for yourself as a homemade Tabasco substitute.
Get ready to spice up your life — and get the recipe — after the break.
Need a glass of vino, stat, but don't have the time or patience to wait for a bottle of Chard to chill in your fridge? Luckily, you don't have to! Here are five ways to chill a bottle of wine in 20 minutes or less.
- Just add salt: You probably already know that putting wine in a bucket of ice and cold water, rather than just ice, will chill your vino faster. But did you know that adding salt to the mix further speeds up the cooling time? Salt reduces the freezing point of water and allows it to become colder without turning into ice, which in turn more quickly chills your wine.
- Give it a spin: If even the water/ice/salt method isn't chilling your Sauv Blanc fast enough, keep the bucket nearby and gently spin the wine bottle in the ice water every couple minutes. Spinning the bottle moves around the contents inside, allowing more wine to come into contact with the cold glass, and chilling it faster. Keep in mind that this method works best for nonsparkling wines; try this with a bottle of Champagne and you're in for a shock when you pop open the bottle!
Keep reading for three more ways to chill out!
Wine tasting can be quite a production: between vying for a space at the bar to begin tasting, paying high prices for comparably tiny pours of wine, and figuring out how to safely get from winery to winery without someone having to miss out on all the tasting, it can feel like more trouble than it's worth.
I recently visited Clif Winery's new tasting room in St. Helena, CA, Velo Vino, where the vibe was decidedly more relaxed. The tasting room in general is inviting, warm, and impeccably wine-country chic, but I was especially impressed with the large communal table where the winery hosts its special Yellow Jersey tasting. On my visit, the table was already set for a tasting, and it gave me a few great ideas for hosting a fun, informal wine tasting at home. Want to host your own? Here are a few tips!
- Set the scene: The point of a wine tasting is to enjoy each sip and chat with friends, rather than to power through as much wine as possible, so make your guests want to stay awhile. Set up your tasting somewhere comfortable, and lay out everything your guests will need during the tasting, including glasses, paper for taking notes, a pitcher of water, and a bucket for pouring out unwanted tastes.
- Move from lighter to heavier wines: This may be a wine tasting cliché, but that doesn't mean it isn't true! Each wine affects how the next one tastes, so start with lighter wines, like whites, sparkling wines, or Pinot Noirs, and transition to heavier reds like Cabernets and Syrahs.
- Provide small bites to pair with each taste: It can be overkill to serve a full meal alongside a wine tasting, but having small snacks on hand that pair nicely with your wines will enhance the overall experience, and keep your guests from getting too hungry! Clif Winery offers a variety of paprika-spiced almonds, dried cherries, and roasted pistachios that pair perfectly with different varietals.
More wine tasting tips after the break!
Stocking up on spirits the other day, I noticed that the makers of my favorite bourbon, Bulleit, have now added a rye whiskey to their repertoire. Naturally, I had to try it, and had to find something delicious to make with it!
I wanted something that would bring out the flavor of the rye, be easy to drink, and preferably use in-season produce, and I found all that and more in the Easterner. The drink uses freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for tartness, and maple syrup and grenadine for smoothness. For optimal flavor, use your own grenadine; I tried it with both store-bought and homemade syrups, and the homemade won by a long shot. Kick your evening up a notch, after the jump.
Summertime is undoubtedly barbecue time, but depending on where you are in the US, that could mean any number of things! Barbecue styles, and who does it right vs. who does it wrong, may be one of the most hotly contested food issues in history. Let's take a look at some of the most popular types of BBQ in the US, and how they differ in their meats, their sauces, and their slaws.
Home mixology is having a moment right now, and rightfully so: why pay $10 or more for a cocktail at a local bar, when you can mix up something equally delicious for much less? But being your own bartender does come with its limitations, and you may still need to rely on the liquor store or your favorite bar for more complicated or obscure ingredients. So which cocktail elements should you DIY, and which should you leave to the pros? Find out!
- Simple syrup: Got sugar? How about water? Then you’ve got yourself a batch of simple syrup! If you need syrup fast and don’t have time to wait for it to cool, try this trick: combine equal parts sugar and cool water in a container with a lid (like a mason jar), and shake vigorously until it starts to combine. Leave it be for a minute or two, then give it another shake; repeat until the sugar is dissolved.
- Grenadine: Homemade grenadine is a cinch to make, and the resulting syrup is tart and flavorful. It’ll add more depth to your drinks than a splash of supersweet Rose’s will.
- Flavored liquors: If you're wary of investing in an entire bottled of flavored liquor, this one's for you. Skip the bottle of citron vodka, and make your own instead. You can use any flavors you want, and make it as strong as you want. Try making your own gin or mixing up a batch of limoncello this way, too!
- Ice: This one may seem like a no-brainer, but be honest: how many times have you had to put your mixology on hold to make an ice run? Do yourself a favor and keep a few full ice cube trays in your freezer, or even a shallow pan filled with water. Dump the frozen block into a Ziploc bag and whack it a couple times with your muddler, and you've got instant (and free) crushed ice.
- Sweet and sour mix: Don’t be fooled by the plastic bottles of sweet and sour mix in every liquor aisle; the mix is really just simple syrup with citrus juice added. Make your own sweet and sour for a fresher, less cloyingly sweet result.
Keep reading to find out which cocktail ingredients may be best left to the pros!
The weather is warming up, and when it does, Rosé wines are brought back into rotation in many households. But what about Rosé's sweeter — and generally cheaper — cousin, white Zinfandel?
Introduced in the '70s by Sutter Home as a way to use up excess Zinfandel crops, white Zin is often considered the non-wine-drinker's wine, for its sweet, fruity qualities and typically low alcohol content. But for every wine aficionado who scoffs at it, there's an equally avid white Zin loyalist. What's your stance? Do you drink white Zin?
Source: Flickr User razvan.orendovici
Memorial Day is just a couple weeks away, which means the start of warm-weather grilling season is near! I love all the fresh flavors that come along with warm weather and cooking outdoors; everything tastes better when you throw it on the grill. But most of all, I love helping to man the grill with an icy cocktail in hand. A gin and tonic with plenty of ice and lime is my beverage of choice, while Katie has a soft spot for sangria of all kinds.
What's your alcoholic beverage of choice during the warmer months?
Source: Flick User AndrewJ
Salami is quite the versatile little meat: it's delicious on an appetizer platter alongside bread and cheese, tossed in a chopped salad, layered atop pizza, or crisped up into salami chips. But a recent shipment from Columbus salame got us wondering: what's the deal with the various types of salami out there? We've established the difference between salumi and charcuterie, but what about within the salami family itself?
All salami is made from a combination of uncooked ground meat, spices, wine, and garlic, which is then dried and cured. It develops a fine, white mold on the outside during the curing process, much like the coating on brie cheese, which is usually edible. But beyond that, there's tons of variation in this tasty, salty delicacy. Here are some of the most common varieties, and what sets them apart.
- Genoa salami: Traditionally made with pork and veal, and seasoned with garlic, red wine, and pepper.
- Soppressata: Usually made with pork, soppressata has a higher fat content and a more rustic appearance than most salami. Soppressata is typically pressed with a heavy weight while curing and cured until it loses 30 percent of its weight, intensifying its flavor.
- Pepperoni: Not a traditional Italian salami, pepperoni is an Italian-American invention. It's finely ground, lightly smoked, and spicy.
- Herbed or peppered salami: Traditional salami that has — surprise! — been rolled in cracked peppercorns or dried herbs.
- Nduja: A deliciously spreadable salami made of pork meat, pork fat, and spicy red peppers.
- Cotto salami: Salami that has been partially cooked or smoked before or after curing.
What's your favorite type of salami?
Having fresh herbs on hand is essential if you're an avid home cook — or bartender! But unless you have a flourishing herb garden, it can be frustrating to purchase bunches of fresh herbs every week, only to watch them wilt and dry out in a couple days. Luckily, there are a few easy tweaks you can make to your herb storage to keep them fresher longer, allowing you to add more flair to your dishes and drinks!
- Parsley and cilantro: These delicate herbs are a lot like fresh flowers, so treat them the same way. Trim their stems as soon as you get them home, and stick them in a small glass full of water (bud vases or empty milk or cream bottles work well). Spritz them with water, cover them loosely with a plastic ziplock bag, and put them in the fridge. Every couple days, change out the water and give the stems another small trim to keep them fresh.
- Mint and basil: Follow the same steps as above, minus the plastic bag-fridge step. Mint and basil do better at room temperature; mint, in fact, is so weed-like, if you put it in front of a sunny window, it may even start to send roots down into the water and sprout new leaves.
- Rosemary, thyme, and oregano: These hardier herbs will brown and mold if kept in water. Wrap them loosely in damp paper towels and then in plastic wrap, and keep them in the crisper or in your fridge door — the warmest spot in the fridge is ideal. Swap out the paper towels for fresh ones every couple days.
Any tips to add for storing fresh herbs?
Source: Flickr User suzettesuzette
Warm, sunny weather calls for a light, cheery cocktail, and what better way to satisfy that requirement than with a champagne- and fruit-based libation?
This twist on the French 75 incorporates muddled strawberries for an even more Springlike feel, and the inclusion of gin and elderflower liqueur makes it more evening-appropriate than its brunchy cousin the mimosa.
For optimal flavor, enjoy it as a pre-dinner drink on a sunny deck. Sound enticing? Get the recipe!
Cinco de Mayo is finally almost here, and we're already drooling over the fiesta we plan to indulge in tomorrow. Here at Yum, we're pretty partial to tacos of all kinds. Hard shell, soft shell, chicken tacos, fish tacos — you name it, we'll happily eat it with a margarita or cerveza! There's something so satisfying about the simple combination of meat, salsa, and tortillas. Whether or not it's your favorite Mexican dish, what do you prefer in your tacos?
Source: Flickr User stu_spivack
We can't wait to celebrate Cinco de Mayo tomorrow with everything from chili con queso to roast chicken tacos — and, of course, plenty of margaritas! But before you dig in to your fiesta, find out what you know about some of the more traditional dishes of Mexico. I'll give you the description, and you give me the dish. Ready? Buena suerte!
Source: Flickr User Emily CarlinTake the Quiz
Spring brings along with it some of our favorite green veggies — asparagus, artichokes, fava beans, the list goes on! But amid the bounty showing up at your farmers market these days, don't overlook some of the lesser known greens of Spring. Read on for five green underdogs you've got to get your hands on, stat!