Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Fruit Dip

print recipe card posted in Appetizers and Snacks, Sweets, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

In the summer an amazing selection of fresh fruits and vegetables start to show up at the grocery store. For your next dinner party try serving a beautiful selection of fruit along with some dip. This is a sweet dip that can be made with either sour cream or yogurt or a combination of the two.

This recipe also calls for macaroons. They are a coconut cookie that is soft and very moist and often sold in a flip top can. Each one measures about 1 ½ inch by 1 ½ inch. You can also buy them fresh at some bakeries.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 12 Macaroons crushed into small pieces
  • ¼ cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 pint of dairy sour cream or plain yogurt
  • Assorted fruits
  • Fresh mint, optional

Put the macaroons in a medium bowl and with your (clean!) hands crush them with your fingers.

Measure ¼ cup of brown sugar. Be sure to pack it into the measuring cup.

Add it to the macaroons. Add 1 pint of sour cream or yogurt

Fat-free Greek style yogurt is a perfect substitute for sour cream. It is a lot healthier than sour cream, and it is much thicker than regular yogurt.

Mix everything together and cover it with plastic wrap. Put it in the refrigerator for several hours to chill.

You could serve this in a bowl surrounded with fresh fruit, the same way you would a Vegetable Platter with dip.

Fresh Vegetables With Dip

Or make individual servings. Fresh mint is a perfect garnish for this dessert!

Enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Dip

Makes about 3 cups of dip

Mix together:

  • 12 Macaroons, crushed into small pieces
  • ¼ cup of packed brown sugar
  • 1 pint of dairy sour cream or Greek style yogurt
  • Assorted fruits
  • Fresh mint, optional

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Wine and Chocolate for Valentine’s Day

posted in Beverages, Sweets by Kathy Maister

I received the following from Natalie MacLean, author of “Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass”.

*****

Hi Start Cooking,

Want to seduce someone this Valentine’s Day? Just share a glass of wine (or three) with your sweetheart. Wine is liquid sensuality: Its heady bouquet stimulates the appetite and its velvet caress soothes that desire. What other drink is described as both ‘voluptuous’ and ‘muscular’? And when you pair wine with the mouth-coating luxury of chocolate, the combination is impossible to resist.

The creamy flavors of chocolate go best with sweet, full-bodied, high-alcohol wines.
My top 10 wine and chocolate matches:

1. Dark Chocolate and Banyuls, France
2. Chocolate-Covered Biscotti and Recioto Della Valpolicella, Italy
3. Chocolate-Orange Cake and Liqueur Muscat, Australia
4. Chocolate with Nuts and Tawny Port, Portugal
5. Milk Chocolate and Tokaji, Hungary
6. Bittersweet Chocolate and Amarone, Italy
7. Chocolate-Dipped Fruit and Icewine, Canada
8. Chocolate Ganache Truffles and Sauternes, France
9. Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake and Framboise, California
10. Chocolate Hearts with Cream Filling and Cream Sherry, Spain

***

Natalie suggests wines to complement 50 chocolate dishes in her online matching tool at www.nataliemaclean.com/matcher. Just click on “desserts” to find pairings for chocolate mud pie to chocolate cheesecake. Her online food-and-wine matcher doesn’t just focus on chocolate. The interactive tool has thousands of wines to pair with any dish: meat, pasta, seafood, vegetarian fare, pizza, eggs, cheese and dessert. You simply choose the food or wine from a drop-down menu to get the pairing suggestions. There are also lots of recipes for those planning a romantic meal. The matcher is updated regularly with new dishes and wines from the 85,000-plus readers who subscribe to Natalie’s free e-newsletter, which offers tips on how to buy, cellar and serve wine.

Natalie has won four James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. Eric Asimov of the New York Times calls Natalie’s approach “a winning formula,” describing her as “the disarming Everywoman … she loves wine, loves drinking.”

Thanks, Natalie for sharing your expertise!

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Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate

print recipe card posted in Sweets by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

What a treat! Everyone knows it’s a celebration when you are served strawberries dipped in chocolate! Learning how to make them isn’t difficult but may take a bit of practice figuring out how to dip and not drop the strawberries in the melted chocolate!

Buy medium size berries – two bites is the prefect size. As beautiful as those giant ones are, they are too hard to eat!

Gently rinse the berries in cool water…

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…and then spread them out on a clean dish towel to dry.

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Let them dry completely before you start dipping. Not a drop of water should be left on the berries.

In addition to dipping the strawberries in chocolate, you can also dip the edges in coconut, chopped nuts, sprinkles or nonpareils. (Those are those colored candy dots in the photo above.)

Eight ounces of chocolate will cover about 12-14 medium-large strawberries. You can use any type of chocolate you prefer – dark, milk, semi-sweet or white chocolate.

(Note: A block of white chocolate is a lot tastier than “white chocolate chips, which are only “chocolate flavored” and not the real thing!)

If you are using a chocolate bar or a block of chocolate, chop it into small pieces…

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…and then put the chocolate in a small microwave safe dish. Melt it, in the microwave, for about 1 minute and 30 seconds on medium. (Don’t cover the dish!)

When melting chocolate chips, they will not really change shape that much until you give it a stir.

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The goal is to slowly melt the chocolate, not bring it to a boil. If it still isn’t melted, continue melting in 15 second increments in the microwave. Stir the chocolate. It should be smooth and have no lumps.

 

Once the chocolate is melted, start dipping.

Try to cover about 2/3 of the strawberry with chocolate. It looks prettier than covering the entire strawberry.

Then gently dip the strawberry into one of your additional toppings.

When you do the dipping, be sure to hold back the green top so that it does not get covered in chocolate.

If you are having difficulty holding the strawberry, skewer it, just under the green bit, with a toothpick.

You are less likely to drop the strawberry if you hold it with a toothpick. (There are all sorts of chocolate dipping tools for sale as well.)

Put the dipped berries on some wax paper to set. They should be stored in the refrigerator, and eaten at room temperature, within 24 hours.

Enjoy!

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