Saturday, March 23, 2013


Beignet (English pronunciation: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], literally bump), synonymous with the English “fritter”, is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux paste. Beignets are commonly known in the U.S. as a dessert served with powdered sugar on top; however, they may be savory dishes as well and may contain meat, vegetables, or fruits. They are traditionally prepared right before consumption to be eaten fresh and hot.

Variations of fried dough can be found across cuisines internationally; however, the origin of the term beignet is specifically French. In the U.S., beignets have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine and are customarily served as a dessert or in some sweet variation.

They were brought to Louisiana in the 18th century by French colonists, from “the old mother country”, and became a large part of home-style Creole cooking, variations often including banana or plantain – popular fruits in the port city.

Today, Café du Monde is a popular New Orleans food destination specializing in beignets with powdered sugar (served in threes), coffee with chicory, and café au lait. Beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986.

The tradition of deep-frying fruits for a side dish dates to the time of Ancient Rome, while the tradition of beignets in Europe is speculated to have originated with a heavy influence of Islamic culinary tradition.
Beignet Good For Mouth photo by Zoe of SeattleThe term beignet can be applied to two varieties, depending on the type of pastry.

The French-style beignet in the United States has the specific meaning of deep-fried choux pastry. Beignets can also be made with yeast pastry, which might be called boules de Berlin in French, referring to Berliner doughnuts which have a spherical shape (i.e. they do not have the typical doughnut hole) filled with fruit or jam. In Corsica, beignets made with chestnut flour (Beignets de farine de châtaigne) are known as fritelli.

From wikiHOW
Recipe For Beignet

1 egg
1 cup (236 ml) lukewarm water
1/4 cup (59 ml) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) salt
2 tbsp. (30 ml) softened butter

1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
3 tsp. (15 ml) instant active dry yeast
Vegetable oil
Powdered sugar

Beat 1 egg, warmed to room temperature. Add 1 cup (236 ml) of lukewarm water and 1/4 cup (59 ml) granulated sugar to the beaten egg in a bowl or stand mixer. Mix in 1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml) salt and 2 tbsp. (30 ml) of softened butter. Pour in 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour and 3 tsp. (15 ml) of instant active dry yeast. Beat the ingredients on medium speed until the dough is smooth.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or overnight. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/4 inch (.6 cm) thick. Cut the dough into 3 inch (7.6 cm) squares. Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large pan until it reaches 350 degrees F (176 degrees C).

Fry 2 to 3 pieces at a time until they puff and brown on the bottom side. Turn them over using tongs and cook until the other side turns the same shade of brown. Remove your homemade beignets and place them on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot. This beignet recipe makes approximately 18 to 24 squares.

The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to a week. Punch the dough down when it rises. The dough can also be frozen. Just make sure you roll it out and cut the squares prior to freezing.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || wikiHOW
Image Credit: wikimediaCommons

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Clafoutis (French pronunciation: ​[klafuti]; Occitan: clafotís [klafuˈtis / kʎafuˈtiː]), sometimes in Anglophone countries spelled clafouti, is a baked French dessert of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. The clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm. A traditional Limousin clafoutis contains pits of the cherries. According to baking purists, the pits release a wonderful flavor when the dish is cooked. If the cherry pits are removed prior to baking, the clafoutis will be milder in flavor.

The dish's name derives from Occitan clafotís, from the verb clafir, meaning "to fill" (implied: "the batter with cherries"). Clafoutis apparently spread throughout France during the 19th century.

The clafoutis comes from the Limousin region of France and while black cherries are traditional there are numerous variations using other fruits including red cherries, plums, prunes, apples, cranberries or blackberries. When other kinds of fruit are used instead of cherries, the dish is properly called a flaugnarde.
Clafoutis photo by Larry and Teddy at wikimediaCommons and Flickr

Flaugnarde (pronounced: [floɲaʁd]) also known as flagnarde, flognarde or flougnarde, is a baked French dessert with fruit arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. Similar to a clafoutis, which is made with black cherries, a flaugnarde is made with apples, peaches, pears, plums, prunes or other fruits. Resembling a large pancake, the dish is dusted with confectioner's sugar and can be served either warm or cold.

From wikiHOW
Recipe For Clafoutis

3/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups milk (preferably whole milk)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 3 cups black cherries, rinsed, pitted and dried
Topping: 1 to 2 tsp. powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) while you prepare a ceramic or glass tart pan by very lightly oiling the bottom and sides. Add the flour, sugar and cinnamon to a medium bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients together and then set them aside. In another medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the whisk until they become foamy. Beat the milk and vanilla into the eggs until they’re well combined. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture gradually, whisking until the batter is smooth and lump-free. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or just until the batter begins to have a thin film on top.

Remove the pan from the oven and gently arrange the cherries evenly throughout the setting batter. Pour the remaining batter over the fruit. Return the pan to the oven and continue baking it for 40 minutes, or until the clafoutis is firm when jiggled gently. It should be puffed and golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and cool the clafoutis (while still in the pan) on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust the top of the clafoutis with confectioners’ sugar before serving

Text Credits: Wikipedia || TheFreeDictionary || wikiHOW || Image Credit: Clafoutis

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Today, globe artichoke cultivation is concentrated in the countries bordering the Mediterranean basin. The main European producers are Italy, Spain, and France. In the United States, California provides nearly 100% of the U.S. crop, and about 80% of that is grown in Monterey County; there, Castroville proclaims itself to be "The Artichoke Center of the World", and holds an annual artichoke festival. Most recently, artichokes have been grown in South Africa in a small town called Parys located along the Vaal River.

In the US, large globe artichokes are frequently prepared by removing all but 5–10 mm (0.2–0.4 in) or so of the stem. To remove thorns, which may interfere with eating, around a quarter of each scale can be cut off. To cook, the artichoke is boiled or steamed. The core of the stem tastes similar to the artichoke heart, and is edible. Salt may be added to the water if boiling artichokes.

Artichokes Being Cooked photo by PepperedjaneLeaving the pot uncovered may allow acids to boil off. Covered artichokes, in particular those that have been cut, can turn brown due to the enzymatic browning and chlorophyll oxidation.

Placing them in water slightly acidified with vinegar or lemon juice can prevent the discoloration. Leaves are often removed one at a time, and the fleshy base eaten, with hollandaise, vinegar, butter, mayonnaise, aioli, lemon juice, or other sauces. The fibrous upper part of each leaf is usually discarded. The heart is eaten when the inedible choke has been peeled away from the base and discarded. The thin leaves covering the choke are also edible.

Artichokes can be produced from seeds or from vegetative means such as division, root cuttings or micropropagation. Though technically perennials that normally produce the edible flower only during the second and subsequent years, certain varieties of artichoke can be grown from seed as annuals, producing a limited harvest at the end of the first growing season, even in regions where the plants are not normally winter-hardy. This means home gardeners in northern regions can attempt to produce a crop without the need to overwinter plants with special treatment or protection. The recently introduced seed cultivar 'Imperial Star' has been bred to produce in the first year without such measures. An even newer cultivar, 'Northern Star', is said to be able to overwinter in more northerly climates, and readily survives subzero temperatures.

Commercial culture is limited to warm areas in USDA hardiness zone 7 and above. It requires good soil, regular watering and feeding, plus frost protection in winter. Rooted suckers can be planted each year, so mature specimens can be disposed of after a few years, as each individual plant lives only a few years. The peak season for artichoke harvesting is the spring, but they can continue to be harvested throughout the summer, with another peak period in midautumn.

When harvested, they are cut from the plant so as to leave an inch or two of stem. Artichokes possess good keeping qualities, frequently remaining quite fresh for two weeks or longer under average retail conditions. Apart from food use, the globe artichoke is also an attractive plant for its bright floral display, sometimes grown in herbaceous borders for its bold foliage and large purple flower heads.
USDA Artichoke Nutrient Data

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Wikipedia
Image Credits: Artichokes Being Cooked || USDA Artichoke Nutrient Data

2 Vegetable Soup Recipes

Vegetable Soup 1

Wipe the meat, cut it into small pieces. Put it with the salt into the cold water and let it stand one hour. Simmer 4 hours; then add the vegetables cut fine and the seasoning. Cook 1 hour longer, strain and cool. When ready to use, remove cake of fat, bring the stock to a boil, adding more salt if necessary.

Vegetable Soup 2

Use all or any, and as many varieties of vegetables as you wish, using half as much vegetable as liquor.
Wash, pare, scrape and cut the vegetables fine. Then measure. Mix vegetables, all but the potatoes and tomatoes. Heat the fat in a spider, add the vegetables, cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly; add potatoes and cook 2 minutes longer, then add the boiling water and tomatoes and boil one hour or longer or until all the vegetables are tender, add the parsley, season to taste and serve hot. Any cold boiled vegetable (left-overs) may be added to this soup.

Bibliographic information: Title: The Settlement Cook Book: Tested Recipes from the Settlement Cooking Classes, the Milwaukee Public School Kitchens, The School of Trades for Girls, and Experienced Housewives. Compiled by: Mrs. Simon Kander. Edition: 11. Publisher: Settlement Cook Book Company, 1921. Original from: the New York Public Library. Digitized: Aug 6, 2008. Length: 596 pages.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Creamed Chipped Beef

hipped beef is thinly sliced or pressed salted and dried beef. Some makers smoke the dried beef for more flavor. The modern product consists of small, thin, flexible leaves of partially dried beef, generally sold compressed together in jars or flat in plastic packets. The processed meat producer Hormel once described it as "an air-dried product that is similar to bresaola, but not as tasty."
Bresaola or brisaola is air-dried, salted beef that has been aged two or three months until it becomes hard and turns a dark red, almost purple colour. It is made from top (inside) round, and is lean and tender, with a sweet, musty smell. It originated in Valtellina, a valley in the Alps of northern Italy's Lombardy region. The word comes from the diminutive of Lombard bresada (braised).

U.S. military cuisine: Chipped beef on toast (or creamed chipped beef on toast) is a culinary dish comprising a white sauce and rehydrated slivers of dried beef, served on toasted bread. Hormel recommends flavoring the dish with Worcestershire sauce and dried parsley. In military slang it is commonly referred to by the dysphemism "Sh#t On a Shingle" (SOS)—or, "Stew On a Shingle", "Same Old Stuff", "Something On a Shingle", or occasionally "Save Our Stomachs". Chipped beef is also often served on bagels, English muffins, biscuits, home fries, rice, and in casseroles.

Recipe for Creamed Chipped Beef

Wentworth and Flexner [Dictionary of American Slang] cite no origin, but noted "shingle" for slice of toast has had "some use since 1935" in the U.S. Army, mostly in the expression "sh#t on a shingle", and the latter had "wide World War II Army use". In the United States, chipped beef on toast was emblematic of the military experience, much as yellow pea soup is in Finland or Sweden. Chipped beef on toast (S.O.S.) is the title of a book of military humor.

In his World War II book Band of Brothers, Stephen E. Ambrose evokes the military basics: "At the end of May, the men of Easy packed up their barracks bags and … [took] a stop-and-go train ride to Sturgis, Kentucky. At the depot Red Cross girls had coffee and doughnuts for them, the last bit of comfort they would know for a month. They marched out to the countryside and pitched up tents, dug straddle trenches for latrines, and ate the Army's favorite meal for troops in the field, creamed chipped beef on toast, universally known as SOS, or Sh#t on a Shingle."

Text Credits: Wikipedia || A Book of Recipes for the Cooking School
Image Credit: A Book of Recipes for the Cooking School page 163

Potato salad

Potato salad is very appetizing, and deservedly popular. It should be served with cooked Mayonnaise dressing, to which has been added finely minced onion and parsley, in the proportion of one tablespoonful of each to a pint of dressing.

The dressing for potato salad forms an exception to the general rule applicable to salad dressing, and should have a predominating flavor, for the reason that cold boiled potatoes have no especial flavor that can be developed, or which it is desirable to preserve; and a piquant flavor, like that of onions or cresses, added to the dressing, renders the salad much more delicious. Potatoes for salad should be boiled until perfectly tender, but not until they break and fall to pieces. When cold they should be sliced very thin, and put with the dressing in alternate layers, in the salad bowl.

In the preparation of potato salad, as in most dishes of the class, stirring is objectionable, and should be avoided. A cream dressing may be used for potato salad, in place of a cooked Mayonnaise, if preferred; but French dressing, although much used, is inappropriate, on account of the potato absorbing the vinegar; and because the potato is a great absorbent, the dressing used should be comparatively thin, and a greater quantity should be provided than for lettuce or cabbage salad. Potatoes may be mixed with cooked vegetables of any and every sort, in a compound salad.

Title: Salad and salad making. Author: Emma Pike Ewing. Publisher: Fairbanks, Palmer & Co., 1884. Original from: the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Digitized: Aug 21, 2007. Length: 40 pages. Subjects: Cooking › Courses & Dishes › Salads Cookery Cooking Cooking / Courses & Dishes / Salads Cooking / General Salads.

Potato salad