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Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Chocolate is made from cocoa pods grown on the Theobroma cacao tree, a small evergreen native to the tropical regions of South America. It was so highly prized it was called ? God?s food? The secret to the best quality chocolate is in its amount of cocoa solids (a mixture of cocoa mass and cocoa butter).
The cocoa bean develops its aroma during fermentation and gives the beans their familiar chocolate taste. The fruit pulp containing the cocoa beans is poured into a fermenting tub or placed between banana leaves. Fermentation begins at 100 -120°F.
After harvesting the cacao pods (which contain the cacao beans) the pods are crushed and left to ferment and dry for about six days. Then the beans are removed from the pods and left to further dry. Quality chocolate demands this slow drying process.
Some chocolate manufacturers prefer to buy beans; others opt for chocolate mass. The beans are heated to 70 C and pressed to extract the cocoa butter (48-51 percent), which is clarified, becoming yellow and clear. At this stage, lecithin is added to make the mass malleable.
After blending, the cocoa beans are roasted. It is the process of roasting the cocoa beans that brings out the chocolate flavor and aroma (I can tell you from personal experience that this process also produces one of the most lovely aromas my nose has ever smelled).
Next the cocoa beans are shelled, and the pieces of seeds (called nibs) are then ground until a chocolate liquor is produced. Extra cocoa butter is then added (when producing cocoa or sweet ground chocolate it is removed). he extra cocoa butter increases the delicacy of the chocolate, and is largely responsible for its flavor.
First you will discover the differences in colour as different beans produce finished chocolate with varying colours from rich reds and coppers to dark browns. This is not a sign of quality and a common myth that the darker chocolate is somehow a better chocolate is certainly not the case.
A premuim quality 62% cocoa chocolate is crafted from the finest Ghanaian cocoa beans to produce a medium bittersweet chocolate. The largest suppliers are African countries, although the best (Criollo) cocoa beans originate in Ecuador. Forastero beans are flat and mostly used for chocolate drinks, violet-coloured Amelonado is bitter and of superior taste.
Some chocolate is best for eating, and some for cooking. Some types, like couverture chocolate, can be used for baking, eating or coating candies. This is usually considered the highest quality chocolate, and it has a high percentage of cocoa butter, making it smooth and easily tempered.
Flavanol antioxidants occur naturally in some plant-based foods, such as tea, grapes, blueberries, cranberries and cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are the basic ingredient of all chocolate products. Interestingly, it is one of the most concentrated natural sources of flavanol.
Semisweet or Bittersweet - Here, the chocolate liquor has been combined with sweetener, cocoa butter, and often vanilla. This is often known as dark chocolate and contains at least 35% chocolate liquor (or "cocoa"). Most good quality chocolate has around 50-60%.
Couverture is a special kind of chocolate. Couverture chocolate has more cocoa butter than normal chocolate, anywhere from 34% to 39% for a really good brand. This type of high quality chocolate is used as a coating for things like chocolate truffles.
Strictly speaking, chocolate is any product 100% based on cocoa solid and/or cocoa fat. Because it is used in a vast number of by-products, any change in the cost of making it has a huge impact on the industry. Adding ingredients is an aspect of the taste.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Strawberry Bread Pudding
1. Toast several pieces of bread and butter them.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. This dish is best when served cold with whipped cream on top.
1/2 cup quick-cooking tapioca
1. Cook tapioca according to box directions.
Strawberry Fruit Beverage
1 quart strawberries, crushed
1. Cook sugar with half of the water until the sugar is dissolved.
Add plenty of ice. Garnish, if desired, with extra halved strawberries. The pineapple may be either canned or fresh. If canned pineapple is used, substitute one cup of the juice from the can for one cup of water.
Strawberry Fruit Cocktail
1 cup diced canned or fresh pineapple
1. Combine the pineapple and the cupful of halved berries with half of the orange sections - from which the pith and membrane have been removed - the sugar, water, and lemon juice.
Thursday, 21 May 2009
Thinking of trying out smoked salmon recipes?
Well, why not?
Imagine this: it's a lazy Sunday morning. There's nothing more you'd like to do than sleep in and wake up only when you really have to. But of course, you know you can't skip eating just because you can't be bothered to cook. So how do you make sure you get your lazy Sunday and the nourishment that will keep you from waking up to a cranky Monday? One word: brunch.
The best thing about brunch is that you will never run out of brunch classics. You have eggs, danishes, and muffins. French toast and pancakes are also brunch staples that are as filling as they are pretty. But if you want a real meal that will give you enough energy to stay all day in bed or later on paint the town red with friends, try smoked salmon recipes. You can't go wrong with smoked salmon bagel.
There are many reasons a smoked salmon bagel recipe is a fine addition to your repertoire of Sunday brunches. For one, this treat is just that - a treat. It's tasty and it's filling but it's filling in a good way. Per ounce, it contains even fewer calories than baked chicken (which has long been a staple of dieters, young and old) so you can be sure you won't pile on pounds you'll afterwards give an arm to lose. However, it is so rich in protein you can eat as few as you want and still have enough energy to go through the day (in bed or out of it) without feeling bulky or weighed down.
Leanness is not the only benefit you stand to reap from smoked salmon recipes. Fish is a natural source of omega three fatty acids. We all know why that's good for the heart, don't we? Ultimately, you will find out as you try this brunch that the key to a low key, special, and filling meal are smoked salmon recipes.
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
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There's something so appealing about tiny, citrusy cupcakes, bursting with the peppery tingle of poppy seeds. Oranges and poppy-seeds is one of those combinations that just works. These cupcakes just work too - they can be whipped up in no time and I guarantee they'll be light, yet moist.
Preheat oven to 180C (not fan forced) for mini cupcakes, or 200C (not fan forced) for standard size cupcakes.
Take eggs, butter and milk out of the fridge to come to room temperature. While that's happening, measure out the other ingredients and get everything ready.
Stir 2 TB milk into the poppyseeds in a small bowl. The poppyseeds should start making 'zingy' noises.
Combine flour, sugar, butter, eggs and 2tsp of the orange rind in the large bowl of a food processor, don't over-mix.
Add the freshly squeezed orange juice through the top of the processor while pulsing the mix.
If more liquid is required to make a smooth batter, add half to a TB of milk.
Fold the poppyseeds into the batter with a metal spoon. Add remaining chopped orange zest to taste.
Spoon the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. The mixture will make 36 mini cupcakes or 12 regular size.
Bake mini cupcakes for 8-10 minutes and regular cakes for 15 minutes. The tops will spring back when gently prodded.
I like my citrus cupcakes to have a gently rounded top. If you prefer a flat top, underfill the cases slightly and drop the oven temperature a little.
When done, immediately take the cupcakes out of the tins and onto wire racks.
While cakes are still warm, use a pastry brush or bread knife to carefully spread gently warmed marmalade on the tops of the cupcakes.
Beat butter with electric beaters until pale and fluffy
Beat in half of the icing sugar and half of the juice from the passionfruit pulp until combined
Beat in the second half of the icing sugar and passionfruit juice.
Add a little extra milk (1/2 to a TB) if required to make a very light and fluffy icing
Pipe icing onto cooled cupcakes.
If desired, decorate with reserved passionfruit seeds or curls of orange zest.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Did you know that one of the very best ways to prepare fruit is to grill it? Using the same charcoal or gas grill that typically only chars meat and vegetables can open a whole new window into summertime eating.
Grilling fruit is fast and easy. Due to the high sugar content, fruits grill quickly, carmelizing the sugars and creating a taste sensation. Grilled fruit is terrific as a dessert served over ice cream, custards, puddings and cakes. It can be combined with cream cheese to create an outstanding grilled fruit pizza. And grilled fruit can be served on a green salad, with a cheese plate or added to a fruit salsa or chutney. The possibilities are endless. Try it, you'll be hooked.A few tips before you get started:
*Use ripe, firm fruit. Mushy fruit will fall apart on the grill.
Great grilled fruits and how to cook them:
Apples - Core and slice. Brush with lemon juice and melted butter. Grill over direct heat turning occasionally until browned, 3-5 minutes. Melt cheddar cheese over the apple slices and serve as a side dish or sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and serve over ice cream.
Bananas - Peel and cut in half lengthwise. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Cook over direct heat until brown and the sugar is crispy, 3-5 minutes. Serve with vanilla pudding or ice cream.
Melons - Peel and cut into wedges. Brush with oil and cook over direct heat, turning occasionally until browned, 3-5 minutes. Serve with spiced nuts on a cheese plate.
Peaches - Cut in half, removing the pit. Brush with oil and cook, cut side down, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for a minute or two. Crumble blue cheese on top and serve as a side dish or melt a little brown sugar inside and serve with pound cake and a dollop of whipped cream. For an extra special treat, grill the poundcake for 3 minutes on each side before assembling.
So why not try grilling some fruit tonight? It's a delicious and different way to serve more fruit and your family will love it!
Thursday, 14 May 2009
One of the cutest cupcake ideas around is the amazing life like cupcake bouquets. These yummy cupcake bouquets are so deceiving they look just like flowers. Cupcake bouquets can be used for any gift giving occasion or a centerpiece for a wedding to display unique wedding cupcake ideas. Use this step-by-step guide to create your own cupcake surprise:
1. One Styrofoam Ball with a 5 inch diameter
Step 1: Place Styrofoam ball into the decorative bowl. The decorative bowl should only cover 1/3 of the Styrofoam ball.
Step 2: Place a toothpick in the Styrofoam ball near the bottom above the rim of the decorative bowl.
Step 3: Place a mini cupcake on the toothpick in the middle. Half of the mini cupcake should be above the rim of the decorative bowl and the other half below the rim of the decorative bowl.
Step 4: Using another toothpick, place the next cupcake to the left of the cupcake, from step 3, so they are touching.
Step 5: Continue adding cupcakes to the left around the entire rim of the decorative bowl.
Step 6: Start the next row by placing a toothpick in the Styrofoam above the first row then add a mini cupcake so they are touching. Continue adding mini cupcakes row by row to the left, until the entire Styrofoam ball is covered.
Step 7: Make sure all the cupcakes are touching, there should not any space between the rows. You may adjust the cupcakes if necessary.
Step 8: Using the large star tip start in the middle and swirl your way out to the edge of the cupcake creating a rose pattern.
Tip: When using butter or butter cream icing beware of displaying your cupcake bouquet in a warm climate. The warm temperature will cause the icing to slide off the cupcakes. As a substitute, solid vegetable shortening can be used however; you will sacrifice the rich buttery flavor.
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Potato - 4 large no.s
Boil potatoes with 2 tsp salt and peel and cut into cubes
Lettuce and ham salad
Lettuce - 1 small
Slice red onions lengthwise and soak for half an hour or overnight in 1 tbsp vinegar and ½ tsp salt
Carrot and cucumber salad
Carrots - 3 grated
Mix all the ingredients well.
Cabbage(purple or green) - 1 small deveined and cut into pieces
Mix all ingredients together and serve.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
It is no secret that one of the most delightful ways to indulge in fresh strawberries is by incorporating them into fresh strawberry dessert recipes. Very few things can compare to picking your berries right off the bushel and making a sweet and sultry dessert all in the same day! It truly is treat for all to enjoy.
What makes the strawberry so popular is that there are virtually thousands of combinations in which to use them - such as for a strawberry fluff dessert or the classic strawberry whip cream jello dessert. These are just a couple of my personal favorites!
Before you get started, it is important to get a general idea of how many berries you will need to accommodate your fresh strawberry dessert recipes - the last thing you want to do is have a refrigerator full of berries and not enough time to eat them all! Here are some helpful tips that I've learned along the way when it comes to preparing desserts with strawberries as your main ingredient.
Hopefully these tips will ensure that your fresh strawberry dessert recipes are a hit amongst your friends and loved ones. Strawberries are the jewel of the garden and should be enjoyed as fresh as possible. 1 cup only contains roughly 50 calories - so stop looking for miracle dessert alternatives and start enjoying the sweet tongue-pleasing flavors of strawberries all year round!
Friday, 01 May 2009
From time immemorial, chocolatiers of Belgium have been recognized as the producers of the world's finest chocolate and Belgian chocolates have consistently won the hearts of the critics as well as the chocolaphile.
Now, the attention of the vast international network of chocolate-lovers appears to have shifted westwardly to a country that is more noted for its cuisine, coffee and fashion. Yes, now Italia has been acclaimed for its chocolate and has been crowned "the Chocolate Capital of the World"
Following in the style of its prized caffe, the Italian treatment of this legendary favorite is thicker, creamier and more darkly decadent than it's EU cousin. Interestingly, when prepared as a hot beverage, it is virtually a pudding or mousse. Moreover, in Spain, where much of the hot cocoa served there is from Italy, the Spaniards take it a step further and add cornstarch to make the hot drink even more densely viscous and needs to be spooned rather than sipped.
But it is in the form of the truffle and other various chocolate candies that the Italian flair for creating a Piece de Resistance is readily apparent and can be tasted as well as viewed and admired.
In 2005 at Caffe D'Amore Incorporated, the company presented a lusciously rich beverage they called Bellagio Sipping Chocolate. It would be one of the first American versions of the Northern Italian approach to chocolate beverages and was dedicated to family grandmother, Madelena Cavanna, proprietress of Italy's Ristorante Varese, located in the Lake region of Bellagio.
Madelena had introduced the first Caffe D'Amore ( Coffee of Love) in 1895 when she added dark chocolate and two liqueurs to her house specialty coffee. The Caffe D'Amore Bellagio Sipping Chocolate was awarded winner of the Best New Product Award at the 2005 Specialty Coffee Association of America show in Seattle. This chocolate, along with the company's newest BELLAGIO BARISTA LINE has become a delightful chocolate companion to specialty coffee beverages served by hotels and prestigious white table cloth customers of the company.
From Italy - where chocolate and coffee is AN AFFAIR OF LOVE.