NYC’s Tavern on the Green Reopening April 24

The landmark Tavern on the Green in New York City’s Central Park, shuttered since 2010, is reopening later this month.

The glitzy restaurant has undergone a major rehabilitation and will reopen April 24 for dinner.

Lunch and brunch menus will be launched in May for the Mother’s Day weekend.

New owners Philadelphia restaurateurs Jim Caiola and David Salama had planned to open last November. But construction and other problems delayed the opening.

Reservations can be made on OpenTable or by telephone. (AP)

First Lady, Epicurious Host 3rd Annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge

Does your child like to cook? You can enter them in a nationwide recipe challenge where top winners are selected to attend a kids state dinner at the White House later this summer.

“The Kids’ ‘State Dinner’ is one of my favorite events to host at the White House, and I am thrilled to announce the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. This event gives us the opportunity to showcase healthy creations from talented kids from across our country,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “I’m looking forward to seeing—and tasting—this year’s selections. So young chefs, get creative and get cooking!”

Obama, along with Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are hosting the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner.”

The challenge invites parents or guardians and their children, ages 8-12, to create and submit an original lunch recipe that is healthy, affordable, and tasty. In support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, each recipe must adhere to the guidance that supports USDA’s MyPlate (at ChooseMyPlate.gov) to ensure that the criteria of a healthy meal are met. Entries must represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods, with fruits and veggies making up roughly half of the plate or recipe.

Recipes can be submitted through April 5th at recipechallenge.epicurious.com or via mail at “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge c/o Epicurious.com,” 1166 Avenue of the Americas, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036.

Winners will be notified in May. Winning recipes will be chosen by a panel of judges, including Nilou Motamed, Tanya Steel, Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Education representatives, as well as junior chefs.

A selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served at the state dinner.

White House Losing Pastry Chef Bill Yosses in June

The White House is losing its top dessert maker.

Executive pastry chef Bill Yosses has decided to turn in his apron after more than seven years of dessert-making to move to New York.

The 60-year-old Yosses told The New York Times in an interview published Tuesday that he wants to teach people about eating healthier. He also wants to be with his husband, who is a teacher. Yosses says the two have lived apart for the 11 years they’ve known each other.

Yosses isn’t leaving until June. His departure leaves Michelle Obama with a big personnel decision to make.

In a statement, the first lady says she’s “incredibly sad” over Yosses’ departure but is grateful for his work in the kitchen and with her garden on the South Lawn. (AP)

Expansion Planned at Maker’s Mark Distillery

The producers of Maker’s Mark bourbon have announced a distillery expansion to keep pace with growing demand for the Kentucky whiskey.

The $67 million expansion announced Thursday comes about a year after the brand caused a stir. In early 2013, the whiskey known for its bottles sealed in red wax announced it was cutting the amount of alcohol in each bottle to stretch supplies. After backlash from customers, Maker’s Mark quickly scrapped the idea and restored the alcohol volume to its typical level.

The expansion was in the works long before the flap and it comes amid growing sales at Maker’s.

The brand shipped more than 1 million cases in 2011 and it forecasts shipments to reach 2 million cases later this decade. (AP)

When Life Gives You Lemons….

My father grew up devouring homemade lemon meringue pies for his birthdays. When he turned 6, his mother decided to bake him and his twin brother a pie – and that was it. No more cakes for them!

Then he got married, and my mother continued the tradition, spending two full days creating his beloved tart treats. Each February 22nd I’d leave for school, lemons scattered amongst flour, glass bowls and extra coffee cups. But by God, somehow she’d get it done by the 24th.

She lovingly baked pies for her husband of 40+ years *every year until she died in 2012. I adored her meringue best; many times she’d open the fridge door to see smooshed plateaus. “What?” I’d innocently ask mouth full of her hard work.

Now it’s my turn to step up. Since I don’t bake, I’m forced to improvise. I give him “homemade” Campfire-brand lemon meringue marshmallows!

Lemon Meringue Pie
7 tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup hot water
3 egg yolks – save whites
½ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon peel
2 tablespoons butter
1 9” cooled baked pie shell

Meringue
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons sugar

Blend cornstarch, sugar and salt in saucepan. Gradually stir in hot water, bring to a boil over direct heat and cook medium heat, stirring constantly until filling is clear and thick – about 8-10 minutes.

Beat egg yolks and stir several spoonfuls of hot filling into egg yolk, mixing well.

Stir egg yolks into hot mixture. Bring to a boil, turn heat low and cook 4-5minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat, gradually stir in lemon juice, peel, butter.

Cool filling, turn into cooled pie shell.

Top with meringue.

Place egg whites in a deep medium-sized bowl and warm to room temperature. Add lemon juice and beat until egg whites stand in soft peaks. Add sugar gradually beating well.

After each addition, continue to beat until mixture stands in firm, glossy peaks. Spread meringue over pie filling, sealing edges of crust.

Bake at 350-degrees 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.

Note: up to 6 egg whites with sugar increased in proportion can be used for a higher meringue on pie.

U.S. Olive Oil Industry Pushes to Test Imported Oil

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It’s a pressing matter for the tiny U.S olive oil industry.

Americans are pouring European oil more often because it’s cheaper and viewed as more authentic than the domestic competition.

And that’s pitting U.S. producers against importers of the European oil. Some liken the battle to the California wine industry’s struggles to gain acceptance decades ago.

The tiny California olive industry says European olive oil filling U.S. shelves often is mislabeled and lower grade. They’re pushing the federal government to give more scrutiny to imported varieties.

One congressman who also is a farmer even goes so far as suggesting that labels on imported oil say “extra rancid” rather than “extra virgin.”

Stricter standards might help American producers grab more market share from the dominant Europeans. (AP)

Campbell: Broth Sales Get Bump From More Cooking

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When people take an interest in cooking, broth sales apparently get a bump.

Campbell Soup has been struggling to boost sluggish sales of its famous condensed and ready-to-eat canned soups. But there is a bright spot in its U.S. soup division: broth.

In a call with analysts on Friday, Campbell CEO Denise Morrison noted that the growth in broths is being driven by “an increase in homemade soup behavior” and people cooking more with broth in general.

For the first half of the company’s fiscal year, broth sales are up 10 percent, while sales of condensed and ready-to-eat soups such as Chunky are down.

To tap into people’s growing interest in cooking, Campbell has been introducing new products designed to help reduce work in the kitchen. (AP)