National Brandy Alexander Day

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I’m afraid a true Brandy Alexander can’t be made in the states, for it calls for double cream.  As far as I know that’s not sold here… or not easily for that matter.  It is a cocktail of x amount of Brandy, 1/2x amount of double cream, 1/2 x amount of creme de cocoa – Shaken with ice and served with a chocolate or nutmeg garnish.

My heavy cream substitute is 1/2x Brandy, 1/2x creme de cocoa, 2x heavy cream.  (X in this case can probably just be considered an ounce)  And again you shake with ice and garnish.

John Lennon used to refer to the drink as a milk shake.  It has a smooth creamy taste, and some people even substitute the cream for ice cream.

The Mary Tyler Moore show featured the drink in the pilot episode.  Its generally considered a dessert drink, and associated with women. (but it honestly tastes like dessert so I don’t know why men wouldn’t want to enjoy that.)

The Brandy Alexander ws supposedly created at the wedding of Princess Mary and Lord Lascelles in 1922.  The bartender replaced gin with brandy in a typical Alexander.

My messy photo, and ingredients:

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National Hot Chocolate Day

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I’m not sure if this is an official one.  I found 2 sites that suggest it, but I usually like to have an overwhelming majority.  If it’s not I don’t care b/c I couldn’t find another day that was in honor of Hot Chocolate, and my friend likes to often make his own Hot Chocolate from scratch which I’ve been dying to try.

Hot Chocolate was drank as far back as the days of the Aztecs.  They called the drink xocoatl.  The beans were roasted and drank cold with wine or chili pepper seasoning.  When Cortez brought chocolate back with him to Spain in the 1500s, is when the drink began being served hot and sweetened… and with out the wine or spices.  The drink was popular in Spain, but didn’t spread to the rest of Europe immediately.

With the addition of milk, Hot Milk chocolate became very trendy and a popular after dinner drink in England and in other parts of Northern Europe.

The difference between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa is Hot Chocolate is drinking chocolate.  Its melted chocolate, usually with milk and sweetener added.  Simple as that.  Hot Cocoa uses a cocoa powder to create the drink, and no solid chocolate is used to melted down.  In 1828 we have the Hot Cocoa came to be with the invention of the “Dutching” process.  Hendrick Van Houten patented a process to press cocoa beans and extract their natural fat – cocoa butter.  The remains are pulverized and sifted into cocoa powder.  Which is why Hot Cocoa is sometime known as Dutch Chocolate.

National Croissant Day

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There is a popular myth as to how the croissant came about.  In 1686 Budapest, Hungary  a baker alerted the city that he heard the Turks tunneling into the city to invade.  Due to his prompt warning, he saved the city and created the crescent-shaped (like the symbol for Islam) pastry as a commemorative symbol.  The story is 100% a myth though and only first made up in the 1930’s, it has also been retold with Vienna substituted for Budapest.

The truth is much more underwhelming.  The word first appeared in the dictionary in 1863, and didn’t come about much before that.  It is a newer food, most likely created in the late 1850s.  The food is a French creation, and the first recipe was published in 1891.  Originally it wasn’t as delicate and flaky; more of a simple light dough.  The recipe we are familiar with today was published in 1905.

Some believe it was inspired by Austrian cookies, and made popular in France by Marie Antoinette.  This is most likely closest to the truth in the fact it most likely did develop from light textures and the popular crescent shape of many Austrian desserts.  But the invention is considered to be purely French.  Austrian August Zang opened a Bakery in Paris in 1839, and is thought to have a part in the croissants creation.

I enjoyed a nice egg, ham, and swiss cheese sandwich on my croissant for this mornings breakfast:

 

National Corn chip Day

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Corn chips are one of the snacking alternatives to the more popular potato chip.  They are made of fried cornmeal.  Corn chips differ from Tortilla Chips which are soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution referred to by a process known as nixtamalization.  This process frees up nutrients and makes the corn easier to handle and grind.

One of the oldest brands of corn chips is Fritos.  Fritos were made as an alternative to tortilla chips that wouldn’t keep well.  They were created by C.E. Doolin during the Depression.  He bought the recipe from a San Antoninon man and perfected it in 1932.

National Blueberry Pancake Day

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Since there is a Pancake Day also, I wont go too much into the history here.

The first pancake recipe dates back to 1439. Blueberries are a good food that can easily be preserved or transported, and it makes them a great add on to any dish or meal.

I went to Clinton St. Baking Co. for my Blueberry Pancakes.

 

 

This is the building

 

They are famous for their pancakes. February begins Pancake Month for them, we’re they offer different flavors of Pancakes each day.  Flavors begin the month with blackberry and poached pear.  The pancakes were outrageous.  I had blueberry of course, and it came with three large cakey pancakes.  Perfect texture (even after a long ride home from the city – I got take out), and the blueberries were bursting with flavor!  it came with a blueberry sauce to pour on as well as maple butter.  Once everything was mixed together it was a delicious, they deserve their claim as one of the best Pancakes in New York.

National Chocolate Cake Day

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I’ve been wanting to make a grand Chocolate Cake for quite sometime.  It was huge and beautiful, and quite unessential for having no real occasion except a holiday… but it was fulfilling.   Here is my Chocolate Cake I am oh so proud of, and ate while watching tonight’s NBC Comedies:

Cake is a flour confection sweetened with sugar or other sweetener, and sometimes mixed with eggs.  Cakes and baked good in molded shapes have been around since at least the 17th century.  In the mid 1800’s baking soda and powder were created with allowed to make quick rising cakes.  Chocolate Cake came about in the 18th century, when chocolate was mass produced and became available in 1765 as a more popular flavoring in baking and cooking. In 1764 Dr. James Baker made chocolate by grinding cocoa beans.  In 1879, the process known as conching made chocolate silkier and smoother so it could be mixed into cake batters.  Before this, chocolate was mostly only used in drinks.  In the 1930’s Chocolate Cake became a popular flavor for boxed cake mixes.  In the 1980’s Chocolate Cake became one of the most popular cakes in America, you could count on it to be served at almost any birthday party.  The decadent Chocolate Cakes of the 1980’s led to fancy over the top Molten Lava Cakes of the 1990’s with interesting and unusual flavors added.

Chocolate Cake is very versatile, can be moist and fudgey, or dry light and cakey.  Iced, filled, flourless, you name it.   Currently one of the most popular cake flavors!

National Peanut Brittle Day

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It is debated weather peanut brittle was the first candy ever made or not.  It began appearing in cook books in the 19th century.  Brittles and nougats are thought to be among the very first confections created.  It is so simple it was most likely made by many people.  But there are a few different opinions of who had it first.

In Ireland, Peanut Brittle was a delicacy candy.  It was a caramelized sugar with peanuts served for Holidays like Christmas and Easter, and giving to soldiers in war.

In the 19th century Celts had a sugar and peanut candy.  It was a famous Celtic dessert served for special occasions.  The candy was either baked or roasted.  In 1830, it was brought to the United States by Zodian Irishmen.

The 1890 Story- Some people claim the candy was invented in 1890 by a taffy maker.  She accidentally put baking soda into her taffy (and i guess peanuts?) and the recipe caught on with people around her.

Through out the 1800’s other places and cooks have their own claim to Peanut Brittle.

Peanuts brittle became popular during The Civil War.  Peanuts and Peanut Brittle were very common for soldiers to survive off of, until their popularity exploded in 1909 with George Washington Carver.

We had Old Dominion Brand Peanut Brittle to celebrate.  It was an awful brand and I don’t recommend it.   Nothing beats See’s Candy!  But that was unavailable to us.

 

Today was also Australia Day today.  Not a National Holiday OR a Food Holiday.  But I had to give a shout out to my best friend Mike, and since we love it so much we celebrated with some food.  Ideally I would have liked to have Tim Tams and a Meat Pie from Tuck Shop, but due to snow  I made my own version of a meat pie at home:

 

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